Monthly Archives: May 2016

Hope Festival. Biggin Hill. 27-29.5.2016

Our second Hope Festival, anyone who read last year’s review will know we really enjoyed that one.

Friday. Got lost on the way, again. First up , Scene Red. Quite funky, 80s feel. They appear to have made at least 2 LPs, original stuff.                  Leon Tilbrook. Son of Glenn, who came on to join him later. Confident young man. Over the years, there have been many people who have tried to cash in on a more talented (and very often dead) relative. We have seen a quite a few of them. They range from the cynically dismal Leon Hendrix to the excellent George Jones, who has done justice to his father’s legacy (Micky from Man). We both think that young Master T.  won’t have to rely on dad’s name in the future.       RenattaJane.  Indie Londoners, they came across as a Franz Ferdinand-type of act. Not our cup of tea, but they went down well.          Karma Como. 4 young men who didn’t look old enough to have grown hairs that they could sit on. We are a bit to old for them, but good that fest organisers can give youngsters a slot.                Bruise. Female guitar/vocals with male drummer. Lots of help from backing tracks. Rhythmic Ray is a big fan.     Decided to go down to the Piano Bar. Got a can of Carlsberg that was actually frozen!  Caught a bit of the Twangers doing some Byrds and Hank Williams.         Back to the Bar stage for Darwin’s Quilt. Grown up music by grown ups for grown ups.  Best of the day.

Saturday. Craig Miller and Eoin.  Guitar/vocal plus piano acoustic duo. Inoffensive start to the day.                 Splink.    Classic 5-piece prog line-up (incl female violinist), but all instrumental. Very accomplished but desperately need a vocalist/lyricist (IMHO).     Longwave Club.  More mainstream 4-piece, an early song reminded me of Steve Wynn (who is on the car stereo).  Her Ladyship liked them.       Dave Sutherland.  Acoustic guitar/vocals with a buddy on Telecaster.  Bit of country and blues too.         Ceri James.   Another Steve Wynn soundalike, he did a decent ‘You can’t always get what you want’.                 Movie Star   .  Quirky trio from Norway. Difficult to categorise, and probably difficult to search for on the Internet but have a go!  Sort of engagingly wacky outfit that will go down well in any festival mid-afternoon slot.             Chocobo.    I can either say it was an out of tune 4-piece row, or say I missed them having gone to play croquet. You decide.                Unsocial Network  .  A sort of mid-90s pop feel?  Couldn’t really get into it.            Reverend Schnider and the Band of Angels. A bit of rockabilly always goes down well, with a wah wah pedal thrown in too. Could have done without the gratuitous swearing though.          Twangers. (again).  Started out with ‘Man of Constant Sorrow’, with washboard in the line-up too. Pleasant country stuff.         Electric Cake Salad.  They were excellent last year and we were looking forward to another slab of pounding space rock.  We got it.  Great wall of sound, even if helped out by some backing tracks.  Best so far.          Bay of Pigs. Opening number was ‘The Seeker’. Not the Steve Earle song but The Who’s classic. They managed to get the words wrong. More covers followed, including both sides of ‘Stay with me’ and what we got was a basic pub covers group. Just what we can see a couple of miles away from home for free rather than pay money and have to do a 450 mile round trip.  But the tent was packed. Especially sad when Electric Cake Salad were playing their own stuff to a couple of dozen. The ironic thing is, that If The Who had carried on doing soul and R&B covers, they wouldn’t have made ‘The Seeker’ !          Dry Seamen. Multi-media marine-based fun.         Some bloke does David Bowie. Didn’t catch his name, not interested in tribute acts. Even less interested if ‘tribute’ neither looks like or sounds like the people they are making a living off. But, again, the place was packed so ‘a success’.                 Squeeze. Another ‘secret ‘ gig , as was last year. Very long time to set up but, to be fair. they are professionals and have every right to expect the stage to be spot on.  Unfamiliar song to kick off with, followed by ‘Up the Junction’, ‘Hourglass’ , another unfamiliar song and the recent-ish ‘Cradle to the grave’. Glenn strapped on a uke and they went into a great ‘Harper Valley PTA’ cover…and the power went!  Mr T, tried to carry on unplugged but the crowd didn’t have the sense to shut up. Luckily, power was restored and they finished Jeannie C Riley and went into The Ramones’  ‘I don’t wanna grow up’. He kept the uke for the beginning of the fabulous ‘Tempted’. Plenty of classics were to follow, (‘Mussels’, ‘Labelled’, ‘Cool’, ‘Slap’, ‘Coffee’, ‘Goodbye’, Take’) . The last-named featured a f**kwit who had remembered how to whistle.  ( A shame he didn’t know when to…ie not now).  A great show, a sensible blend of old and new,  with  an extra guitar/pedal steel player. I wish we could have captured Mr T. on camera having a ‘wow’ moment at one of the steel solos.           The night having well overrun, Solomento were moved to the Piano Bar. We were informed by the DJ that they were the best band in the world. The same DJ had played us about 90 minutes of non-stop reggae before Squeeze’s arrival, so no prizes for guessing what to expect. We left after the first couple of notes.

Sunday      Memphis. Covers outfit without the ‘aren’t we wonderful’ attitude. Bit of Lou Reed and Bowie.            Blues Engine.  4-piece, girl singer, pleasant enough.             Paul Cook Band. Not the Sex Pistols drummer, but the opening ‘Rock me Baby’ started off a generic blues set. Good musicians.             Dan Swag and Toby.      Her Ladyship said there was some familar faces with the afore-mentioned Bay of Pigs.   ‘Call me the breeze’  started off, and it was much better to hear some regulation blues rather than a regulation pub covers set list.          Dennis Greaves Band.    Moonlighting from Nine Below Zero and The Truth, Tottenham Hotspurs’ biggest fan came on with his BB KIng Gibson and went into ‘Heat Wave’. The Kinks ‘Where have all the good times gone’ followed , and Dennis told us we were basically in for some ‘standards’ . It took a while for his co-guitarist to realise he was out of tune, but ‘Lay down Sally’, ‘Moondance’ and ‘Gimme little sign’ were just fine. They finished with 9BZ’s ‘Albatross’ gag, and a good time was had by all.              King Elvises.    Three daft blokes messing about on stage…and why not!              Unorfadox.   From nearby Bromley, we were camped next to vocalist Brian (and a thoroughly decent bloke he is too).   A touch of an updated punk sound, with a couple of members definitely looking like they were there the first time round 40 years ago!  But original ‘Butterfly’ was almost U2-ish, and the next number had at least one minor chord!   We got a 200 mph ‘She does it right’, as opposed to the original Feelgood’s 150 mph.  Much more than just a punk outfit, but ‘No sun in the sky’ did have a Buzzcocks feel to it.  Not many in, maybe they should call themselves Maltloaf, a Meatloaf tribute , and the place would have been packed.  I try to resist pigeon-holing groups, but will just class these as ‘Go and See ’em’.   And they gave away an ep at the end, cheers.               Mazaika. Female violinist, male with a cosmic sort of accordian. From many miles east of Biggin Hill.  Fantastically -gifted duo, they gave an astonishing display of Russian-type stuff which had the crowd baying for more.  Every so often I see some musicians who make we want to go home and trash my entire collection of guitars, thankfully it was a bloody long way home. No sound effects either.  SPACEBA!  A great end to a great festival (for us, that is. Others carried on until the small hours.)

Good staff, no aggro, beer prices par for the course. Good music, some great music.  Long may it continue.  Any negatives!? Not many.  ‘Absolutely no dogs’ was made obvious. But some a***holes seem to think they can ignore it.  It annoys me when we have friends who love festivals but stick by the rules and don’t come if dogs not allowed.     Also, the food vendors.  Her Ladyship remarked that she had never been to a fest that didn’t sell chips!  She asked main man Dave about it. He said it was by choice, he didn’t want deep fat friers. Which is fine. There were only 2 food outlets, and to be fair a crowd of a few hundred can’t make lots of takeaways viable. But that can lead to those vendors present basically pleasing themselves. I had a jacket potato with chilli, which at a fiver is acceptable. But Her Ladyship had some sort of  veggie barbecued mushroom  which was poor value. Late on Sunday night , one of the stalls had closed*  and the other had run out of breadbuns. The woman offered to do me a burger for ‘only’ six pounds!  Without a bread bun! It would have been eight pounds with one!  She thought she was doing me a favour!   Not a good situation, especially in a field miles from anywhere.  Also, there was a lot of occasions with sound bleeding between stages. The main stage would start while the bar stage were still playing, for up to 15 minutes. I am sure the slots are planned to have one stage start when the other finishes. It only takes one act to overrun or be late and the system goes to pot.

No, I am not just moaning at some aspects for the sake of it. I am sure there are loads who who would be overjoyed if the bill was packed with pub covers outfits and tribute acts. Were you happy to have to listen to 2 groups playing at the same time? If you were, wonderful. Do you think 8 quid is good value for a burger?

All in all though, a cracking little event.   Photos to follow via Her Ladyship. You may observe that someone at the Piano Bar somewhat naively handed her a bit of chalk and a blackboard to write Sunday’s entertainment…twice.

*Some people have pointed out that the food outlet near the small Folly stage was good. Her Ladyship’s ‘veggie’ comment was aimed at the other place. However, it is no good being ‘good’ if it shuts up early on Sunday night. Surely it must be part of the contract that (as only one of two) they should be open throughout?

And just for you, Ray, same Bruise photo on twice!

Corky Laing plays Mountain. Greystones. 11.05.2016

Back in 2004 , we saw Mountain play in Nashville (yes, Nashville!). I asked Corky afterwards if Mountain had ever played ‘My Lady’ live (our favourite Mountain song). He said that they never had. It was HIS  song (which Mr and Mrs Pappalardi dubiously claimed co-composition of) about his then-wife and was reluctant to play it.

We saw Corky playing Mountain last year in York (see review November 2016), and Her Ladyship asked for it as a request ‘next time’. ‘Next time’ was now ‘this time’.  Got in the pub early (5.20pm) having booked into our B&B. She saw Corky coming through the door and she showed him her ‘My Lady’ t-shirt. He said he and the others had just been talking about the request, and sure enough we could hear them soundchecking it. (Along with ‘Crossroader’, ‘Travelling in the dark’ and the heavy workout of ‘Stormy Monday’).

Kick-off was 8.45 pm and by 8.40pm there were precisely 9 people in. NINE bloody people! To see arguably the best and definitely the most entertaining drummer in the world play songs from a great group?  They came on on time, the crowd had ‘swelled’ to 19, they must have been the same people who were at York?  Anyway, straight into ‘Silver paper’, and the set list was pretty much as last time. A couple of positional changes, and the first major change was Corky pointing out Her Ladyship before doing ‘My Lady’. He reckoned it had taken them 8 months to learn it!   ‘Crossroader’ as an encore was the only other major change.

We thought they were pretty good last time, they were even better this time. Corky was well fired-up. Joe’s vocals were a sort-of mix between Leslie and Felix, with Phil taking the lead on a couple of numbers.

A great night , in the presence of a great drummer who always comes out and chats. Somehow I just can’t imagine Ginger Baker being as approachable. Thanks Joe for firing a bass pick in Her Ladyship’s direction.

Tickets a steal at £12.00. The same price as Ezio, who seem to be absolutely fantastic according to the Greystones web page. Without wishing to be harsh, I am tempted to ‘slightly question’ the mental faculties of the contributors. We have seen, and heard, them…. once.

The Long Ryders. The Wardrobe, Leeds. 6.5.2016

Back in the 80s, the Long Ryders star shone brightly but all too briefly. They were lumped in with the ‘Paisley Underground’ tag (What the hell did that mean? Almost as puzzling as the word ‘Americana’) , along with the Dream Syndicate, Rain Parade, Green on Red and even a young R.E.M. A similar event happened about 10 years earlier, when Television and Talking Heads (plus The Stranglers over here) were pigeon-holed with the Ramones as ‘punk’.

But the Long Ryders were a bit of country, a bit of rock’n’ roll, a bit of social comment…and a lot of fun.  I never saw them at their height, but went to the Irish Centre in Leeds in 2004 on their first ‘reformed’ tour. Sid Griffin was decidedly unhappy at having to play a shortened set because Leeds’s The Prowlers playing for too long. (I couldn’t understand why they were added to the bill in the first place). The line-up then was their ‘classic’ one, as it is tonight.

But that was then and this is now. They strolled on at 9.10 pm and were straight into the crowd-pleasing ‘Run Dusty Run’. Three songs from Mr Griffin’s favourite Long Ryders LP, ‘Two-Fisted Tales’, followed. (‘Man of Misery*’, A stitch in time’ and ‘Gunslinger man’). The vocal duties were shared between the front three all night and the sound was excellent throughout. No new songs to plug, so it was very much a ‘Best of..’ show, although it was impossible to play everything. Sid told a tale about ‘Capturing the flag’ which isn’t in this tour. There was more from ‘Two- Fisted tales’, but not one of my favourites  ‘For the rest of my days’.*

There was the odd iffy moment, which usually brought a knowing grin, and ‘Two kinds of love’ had a great McGuinn-esque guitar break from Sid’s Rickenbacker. (Also some slightly suspect vocals, but that makes them more ‘real’). The main set finished with ‘State of my union’, possibly the greatest Chuck Berry song not written by Chuck Berry.

A couple of encores, finishing with the timeless ‘Looking  for Lewis and Clark’.  An hour and a half of brilliance, although we could have done without a mosh-pit of middle-aged men who should know better.

Sid, Stephen, Tom and Greg  looked happy to be there, without the pressure of the mid-eighties record-promoting tours. Greg on drums had a grin on his face all night, in the knowledge that he didn’t have to give up his day job?

Not many outfits had three designated vocalists back in eighties, but the formula worked in their case. No rush to the toilet, as when Mick says ‘Keef’s  gonna sing one nah’ !!

Her Ladyship was well impressed. There were plenty of long-time fans there who knew all the words, and we got a second rendition of ‘I want you bad’ in a matter of weeks.  Try and catch them, not long left. Tickets a snip at £17.50.

*Have seen them titled ‘Man of Mystery’ and ‘For the rest of my life’.

(Support was from Sid’s buddy from the Coal Porters’, Neil Robert Herd. Mainland Europe got a back-up from the unique Dan Stuart).

Sorry , no pictures with this one.I used my phone and they were too  out of focus.