Monthly Archives: May 2017

Hope Festival. nr Biggin Hill. 26-28. 05. 2017

Our third time here, it is a long way from God’s own county, we really enjoyed our previous two festivals here. We broke the drive up by stopping Thursday in Peterborough at our mate’s house, and ended up in a not-unexpected state of marginal overservededness.

Friday. Managed to get to the site in good time and there followed a two-pronged attack on Aldi lager and B&M Chateau El Dogrougho.  Went to the Piano Bar where Tom McQ was playing.  Singer/ guitarist, visually firmly entrenched in mid-60s Dylan/Donovan. A song about Chorley Woods suggested different origins. Cans in the Piano Bar were £2.50, a 25% increase on last year. What about inflation at 2%?!            Main Stage was Millions.  We listened from the field. The closing ‘Unchained Melody’ was …interesting.        Sasha and Band. Her Ladyship was impressed with the soundcheck, the singer certainly having a set of tonsils well beyond his years. Occasionally got a whiff of the Doors, and was there a James cover? Her Ladyship liked them but we went over to get a seat in the main tent. I am sure Dave Ripp the organiser will understand that it was not to see his outfit, The Ripp-Offs, but to get a good spot for the following act!  (Two young chaps from that popular beat combo Squeeze.).  Dave and co ran through songs from the likes of  Blondie, The Trashmen/Ramones, Motorhead, Buzzcocks, Clash and Undertones. Finishing off with the Sex Pistols and a show-stealing guest vocalist.  Pleasantly potty.            Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook.   The two Squeeze stalwarts doing a duo. And starting out to a half full tent? Not for long. We spent the set a couple of yards away from Mr T, and what a set it was.  Starting with ‘Take Me I’m Yours’ and finishing with ‘Goodbye Girl’, there was barely a drop in tempo, apart from some running repairs during ‘Black Coffee in Bed’. Great to hear ‘Electric Trains’ and ‘Some Fantastic Place’ again alongside the more regular numbers.  ‘Tempted’ (my favourite) was maybe a bit too funky for me, and no room for ‘Labelled with Love’ but that is picking of nits. A brilliant performance, even C.D. was smiling…honest! Her Ladyship was kindly given G.T.’s set list, so check out the running order when it appears at the end of the review.                 Unorfadox. Following on the Bar Stage, what a job to have to follow Mssrs D and T. Remember when The Who were due to headline a rather large 60s festival, following Jimi Hendrix and Pete Townshend said’ No way’ and they went on before him?  Unorfadox have a foot firmly planted in 70s punk, maybe one and a half feet even. As they should! Good songs, good playing, and Brian is a very good front man. Even a song about Nick Drake , who I just never  got.  ‘Little Universe’ was drowned out by some screeching females behind us  who must have thought they were auditioning for Eastenders. Brian told us afterwards he was quite pleased with their slot, it was a good contrast to Difford and Tilbrook. And they got a great reception.    So, a good day for starters.  Occasional drunken moron, but not a problem.

Saturday.   Mixed weather, staff already cleaning the field. The concept of 10p deposit on bio-degradeable pots is a great help. There were swarms of kids collecting them!  Leon Tilbrook is first up, this time without his more famous father helping out. Starting off with ‘Oh Well’ to loosen his fingers, he has a young voice, but he would have! After all, his dad was nowt but a bairn when he started Squeeze.  Plenty of unusual chords from young Leon, not regulation 12 bar blues stuff. Stick McGhee’s ‘Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee’ got an airing. Should he be singing about this at his age!? He is already a veteran performer though.        Small Victories.   3-piece, with Dave Ripp doing some extra-curricular drum tech work.    Not long before Flaky Jake started up on accordian on the bar stage…plus drums.  I was nervous when ‘Life on Mars’ started up , the karaoke singer’s kiss of death. But he nailed it! ‘All you need is Love’ got a maritime coda, and ‘I am the Walrus’, ‘Ashes to Ashes’ and ‘Sunshine Superman’ made for a wonderfully wacky show.        Some country sounds from Dave Sutherland drifted across. I went over. Guitarist suitably adorned in Nudie shirt and Fender Telecaster.         Tom McQ started out early on the Bar Stage, thereby drowning out Dave S. Not very sensible advice.         Port Erin. Three young bearded men.  Bit of a Ferry-ish vocal delivery early on, some heavy effects on the guitar. A good sound from a trio, the audience grew from a small beginning.               Darwin’s Quilt. I think I have described them previously as grown-up music for grown-ups. And why not?     Glenn T was still there, generously keeping the bar afloat.     Siobahn Parr Trio.  She has a good voice and good songs.  Finished with Percy Sledge’s ‘Warm and Tender Love. Good applause.     Twangers. Started with the traditional ‘Man of Constant Sorrow’. Everyone does the Alison Krauss and Union Station version now. What happened to Bob Dylan or even Ginger Baker’s Air Force?   Guitarist was from Dave Sutherland’s group, he had a bit of  a John McLaughlin jazz guitar solo. ( He appeared to have definitely been more than marginally overserved but why not? Just having fun, his fee was, I suspect somewhat, less than the size of Godzilla’s dad’s dick.  They went down well.        Moviestar  . I think last year I didn’t even  attempt to compare them with anything on this Earth or Fuller’s Earth. As they are from the future anyway, it is impossible.  We left Rhythmic Raymond to undertake his customary groove at the front and stayed a safe distance. Wonderful to see hundreds of grown men ‘whoa-whoaing’ along. The heroes of last year’s festival, check out their identity on t’ t’Internet. Norway’s finest, but they haven’t got much bloody competition have they? The next best thing is a capital city which is a lifeline  for cryptic crossword setters. Blissfully bonkers.                    Nigel Clark . From 90s popsters Dodgy, straight away he is more than a notch or two above the usual fest afternoon filler.  He gave us a version of Blaze Foley’s ‘Oval Room’, written in the Reagan era but equally valid today. ‘Staying out for the Summer’ was given an airing, of course and he was a touch of class.         Now.  Slight diversion if I may. Why is it you can go into a Wetherspoon’s anywhere at midday, and there will always be a plastered grey-haired bloke who will tell you he used to be a roadie for Led Zeppelin?  And this is every bloody Wetherspoon’s! Amazing!  Anyway, reason for the digression is one of them came to talk to us at our table, so we sloped off to sit near the fire pit down near the Piano Bar.   Came back up for Gary Sanford and some blues.  ‘Crossroads’ for starters , loads of w*nkered blokes lurching about.  Things got more up-tempo with ‘Iko Iko’, ‘Willie and the Hand Jive’ and ‘Rolling and Tumbling’.   Got aurally assaulted by some ska sh*te from the other stage so decided I was ‘Leaving on a Zed Plane’. It had been a long but good  day.

Sunday. Toilets clean, they usually are.  Music not due until 2-ish, and sadly the excellent Mazaika cancelled, so even later .  DJ in Bar Stage started well with His Royal Bobness ‘Stuck inside of Mobile…’, but then went into extended ska mode. A bit self-indulgent, ‘don’t do requests’, he told us (more than once) about his ambition to be on Radio 2. You are already there mate, you are called Bob Harris.   Anyway, eventually it is Memphis. ‘Swing’ stuff. Bit of a dodgy intro to ‘All Over Now’, and ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ was a surprise.  DJ put on ‘Godzilla’ by BOC! Great , thought Her Ladyship, then he cut it off.                Oskar Vilcrow. Another male 3-piece. Heavyish, punkish first song, second was just heavy.   Moviestar Vik liked them.  Not long songs, they were effective.  Quite a few went off to see Spacedogs on the Main Stage. , I listened from afar. Her Ladyship went over to undertake some serious cosmic teacake grooving.    The heavens opened, as had been forecasted, and Fake the Juggler suffered sound cut-outs in the Bar Stage, but like real troupers carried on acoustically.  Well-received.        Levent and Taylor. Two young men, guitar and keyboards, who soundchecked with a pleasant 12 bar blues. Then attacked us with a 200 mph jazz instrumental…followed by another! (It could have been the same one played backwards).   Lots of wild cheering but this sort of stuff does nothing for either of us. OK, it adds to the eclecticism of the bill but two near-rhyming words spring to mind. ‘Genius’ and ‘tedious’. One describes Chuck Berry, the other this lot. No prizes for working out my allocations. It didn’t help that I was in a such a state of advanced alcoholic dishevellment that I decided the long-haired keyboard player, in a skirt, was a woman! I eventually conceded that she was a swarthy woman, due to the facial hair.            Next up, Bruise. Favourites of Rhythmic Raymond.   I got chatting at the bar to John from RenattaJane, who were due on across at the Main Stage.    I tentatively enquired if they played ska stuff, but he assured me not. By then, I was probably talking like The Flowerpot Men*, so would have probably watched them if they had been the Australian Pink Floyd. ( * Was it Bill or was it Ben? I probably sounded like a hybrid. I think only people over 60 will know what I am on about!).)             RenattaJane. Did see them last year, thought they had that scratchy Franz Ferdinand Fender sound/rhythm. And still did, but with balls.  But we watched the whole set this time. John (the drummer), has a style reminiscent of Simon from the Hot Rods. Can’t say higher than that. They were very good.  Two things occurred to me . Second song had a piece of John hitting the rim. Try a cowbell, mate?  And, not wishing to sound too petty, but Mr Bassist could you maybe drop the Steve Harris foot-on-the-monitor, running around stuff? Honestly, it just looks a bit naff and detracts from the other lads. Sorry! Cheers John!        In the final strait. Hope All Stars.   Started with some JJ Cale, who better at this stage in the weekend?  Not surprisingly, reggae was not far away. ‘Hard to Handle’ got much bopping and at that point my pen and paper took refuge . Moviestar Vik and Glenn T were still there .

What a great festival this is. Good ethos, good company, good music, good behaviour, good beer.        OK, some of the music not to my taste, and is £4.20 a reasonable price for beer? I will leave final judgement until September after our final fest.

‘Absolutely NO DOGS’, is in the T&C’s.  Well there were 2 f*ckin big fieldmice there!     Organiser Dave R reckons attendance now is 1000. No camp shop? I agree with Dave, I am quite happy not to have a Sunday paper or Internet access, I am happy on Planet Hope all weekend. I learned that 2 teams of foreigners were playing in an English cup final. It could be sponsored by Kentucky Fried Chicken , or Qatar Airlines nowadays.  Down to who lines the F.A.’s pockets now. Surprised the referee is still English…but then again, I haven’t checked.

And thanks so much to those two thoughtful blokes who parked their estate car near the toilets at 8.00 am Monday morning , opened the doors and blasted out their car stereo. I hadn’t realised that cleaning toilets now involved some sort of revolutionary method of massive sound wave attacks which dislodged the dirt. Isn’t science amazing?

Nearly forgot. Beer supplies? Almost impossible to judge, but close to running out of everything late Sunday night. Just when I was thinking it may have been sensible to have an emergency stock of cans, Dave R emerged from his Transit with what looked like 50% of Kingston Jamaica’s annual intake of Red Stripe. He has been here before!!

Thanks Dave R, look forward to next year

 

The Beach Boys. Scarborough Open Air Theatre. 24.05.2017

I have always been a fan, so the chance of a day in Her Ladyship’s home town of Scarborough, plus the no 1 summer group on an ideal stage, was not to be missed.

Gates opened at 6.30pm, to an absolutely STUPID queue! Why were thousands waiting meekly there, all the bloody tickets are numbered and seated! We sat nearby for 30 mins or so and eventually joined the flock. The Tailormade were support act, came on just after 7.00pm. A group of late 20s-ish lads, who were competent, but had the organisers not maybe had a guess at the average age of the audience! Namely, about 60! So why have some young men whose audience must be teenage girls? And I don’t believe the ‘Thanks for being invited as support…’ for one minute. These tours nowadays demand support acts who ‘pay to play’. Don’t believe me?  Ask Kasabian how much they had to pay the Rolling Stones…they even had to pay for a ticket to watch Mick & Co from the wings! (Apparently, I must add).  And how is it that these lads have more dates at. the Open Air Theatre as support? Sounds very suspect, and I bet Mike Love is quite a few bob better off .  Totally inappropriate billing, like having the Merseybeats supporting Justin Beiber.

Anyway, 8.00 pm and the backing film show starts. I had a bet with Her Ladyship re the opening song. ”Do it Again’ or her choice ‘California Girls’. She owes me a quid, so ‘East coast girls are hip’ wasn’t quite right.  Followed with ‘Surfin’ Surfari’, ‘Catch a Wave’, the set is similar to the one they did at York Races back in 2014.  I won’t bore you with all the details, it is nowadays a 2 hour snappy run through all the hits and more. The accent is very much on the surf and car early 60s songs, although the highlight for us (as at York) is the footage of Carl Wilson singing ‘God only Knows’ at Knebworth, with the current line up adding the rest. Nice gesture re the Manchester incident, with a moment’s silence.

The theme at York was ‘Fun, fun, fun’, today it is the 50th anniversary of the ‘Wild Honey’ lp. Not a real classic, but it sells t-shirts. Their version of ‘California  Dreaming’ didn’t make the cut, but ‘Wendy’ and Dennis Wilson’s ‘Forever’ have been added.

Mike Love (and Bruce Johnston) have assembled a very good team of musicians to recreate the 60s sounds. All good pros, when the drummer’s mic cut out during ‘Cototnfields’ Bruce took over without missing a beat. Of course there are people who complain about lack of original members, but is there a 60s group on the planet that can boast the original line-up? I reckon Crosby, Stills and Nash were technically the last, until Mr Nash finally realised what a horrible person Mr Crosby is and ‘Shut Down’ was declared. But there are rumours of an ‘anti-Trump ‘ protest gig.*

Tickets reasonable at £28.00 plus booking fee (much less than the 50 th anniversary tour with other 60s members temporarily on board).  Just close your eyes for a couple of hours , lie back and enjoy some classic songs.

* Are ZZ Top all 60s originals?

The Della Grants. The Grove Inn, Leeds. 20.5.2017

Some time ago, the Della Grants were on the Duck and Drake website, and on their own website as appearing there on the 20 th May. The D&D site then changed  to a group ‘Silence’. Seemingly the DGs were now due to be at the Grove (which was a surprise to the DGs!). Websites duly changed, then the AllStar45s announced that THEY were  playing on the 20th, as did the Grove website!  Confused? However, it was finally confirmed by all that the DGs were indeed down for the Grove.  We are not alone in thinking that the Grove would not be big enough for them, it is a tiny room.

So we arranged to meet Tez and Janet there early, 7.00 pm. (They had made the small trip from Berwick on Tweed). And some 2 hours later, we were still the only ones in the audience! Why? Maybe because the DGs played in nearby Harrogate the night before? Confusion over who/where ?  Nevertheless, they came on to a crowd which was less than the number of Lib Dem MPs (after the last election, not the one before!)

Was there any obvious disappointment at the disgracefully small turn-out ? Absolutely not. They tore into their first set as if it were the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury. Coincidentally, they had Tony Robinson on keyboards and much-travelled  trumpet, who was also on that stage in 1999 with the Beautiful South. He has also featured on, among many others, discs by the excellent Gomez. (But not, of course, Blackadder.)

As always, a great mixture of original songs and covers. The latter included songs by the Wood Brothers,  Little Walter and T-Bone Walker, plus a Creedence-style ‘Midnight Special’. No funky ‘Miss You’ or ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’ this time though.  Plenty of stuff from their first ep and subsequent lp, they were absolutely spot-on. One of the best gigs here, that hardly anyone saw! (Unlike the 10,000 or so that seemed to have been at Leeds University in Feb 1970 to see The Who).

Thanks for a great gig lads, and thanks for the presents too Max. Hopefully you will come back to Leeds, and for all those people out there who believe in keeping ‘live music’ alive, where the f**k were you? No good just f**kin’ saying it…

Not the first review I have done on these lads, but like the belated ad from the Grove Inn says, it won’t be a free gig for much longer.

We normally have to leave early for the last bus home. It reinforces how bloody good they were when I tell you we stopped to the end. By that time we had long missed the last bus. Her Ladyship had a day ticket and I have an old duffers’ bus pass, neither of which were of any use. I gladly paid the £20 for a taxi!!  Believe me , it was not without pain.

 

‘Ready Ace’ ukulele

As the festival season is just round the corner, I thought I would buy a cheap ukulele to take revenge on all the tw*ts who take bloody guitars and churn out 29 minute versions of ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door’ at 2.00a.m. Full weight tw*ts!

So I was planning a Ramones a la ukulele onslaught.  BUT, I should have read http://www.gotaukulele.com first!  The above piece of wood (I cannot call it a musical instrument) was accurately panned. It is unplayable. OK, it cost me £2.99, but I won’t be taking it back or even be giving it to another charity shop. It would be evil so to do.

It is now next to our solid fuel fire , where it will soon be put to its best use. May even ask Her Ladyship to record a video of my doing a Pete Townshend impression with it.

Paul Rodgers. ‘Free Spirit’ tour. Newcastle City Hall. 7.5.2017

Before I go any further, let me say that Her Ladyship and I are serious Free fans. If I had seen this concept announced maybe 20 years ago, when Rodgers had Geoff Whitehorn et al in tow, I would have sold a kidney for a ticket. But we saw Bad Company in Sheffield in 2002, supported by the Wetton-less Asia, and it was embarrassing. PR standing on the piano for an ‘All Right Now’ singalong. We said it was the last time…and it was.  So we did not go to this gig, especially with a price tag of 60 quid or so. The review is on the basis of an audience recording so here goes.

The guitar starts up and the man makes his entrance to wild applause (did Free ever do that!?). He starts ‘Little bit of Love’ and the drummer  bludgeons his way in. Did he think the drummer in Free was John Bonham? The guitar solo has a bum note that was, ironically, very Koss-like!  ‘Ride on Pony’ is given a similar heavy-handed treatment.

Rodgers says’ I’m sure Koss is up there smiling down’. He is probably shaking his head too. He neglected to mention the other dead original of course. ‘Travelling Man’ has PR forgetting the words and a less-than-subtle outro.  ‘Be my Friend’ shows that Rodgers has forsaken his youthful rasp and replaced it with a crooner-like delivery. And for those of you who still fill up listening to Paul Kossoff on the ‘Free Live’ version, this is not for you.

According to Rodgers, ‘Soon I will be Gone’ was never played live. Those of you out there with live recordings from the Tetsu and Rabbit era may beg to differ. ‘ Song of Yesterday’ suffers from being too heavy and ‘Travellin’ in Style’ could have done with a bit more of an acoustic feel. First singalong of the night (again, did Free indulge in singalongs?).  I only have one live version of ‘Love you So’, where PR goes a bit Mariah Carey. One of my favourite Free songs, which should be left fairly and squarely on ‘Highway’

‘Come together in the morning’ was a regular feature in the Free Mk 2 set, before it got butchered for one of the Free compilations (by the producer).  ‘My Brother Jake’ featured an attempt at recreating Fraser’s jaunty piano and Kossoff’s minimal contribution (by then he was merely ‘the guitarist’). Another singalong.  ‘Stealer’ started out promisingly, and the guitarist wisely avoided the bone-cruncher chords that Kossoff used at times.

Then it is ‘Mr Big’. For me, there are certain rock songs that should remain with the original perpetrators, and this is one of them. It was effectively a tour-de-force for Fraser and Kossoff. See also ‘And you and I’, ’21st Century Schizoid Man’ and ‘Sister Ray’. Good topic for the pub tonight.  ‘Woman’ was clumsy and too fast. ‘Fire and Water’ had a similar ‘feel’…all the right notes in the right order but soul-less. And Rodgers still not out of 2nd gear really. Main set finishes with ‘The Hunter’, taken at the ‘Tons of Sobs’ speed rather than the ‘Free Live’ tempo.

First encores are ‘Wishing Well’ and ‘All Right Now’. I can’t even listen to the originals now, having seen every ‘Classic Rock’ pub covers group slaughter them. Both with obligatory singalongs, of course.   Second encores are ‘Walk in my Shadow’, again at ‘Tons of Sobs’ speed and a fairly harmless ‘Crossroads’. And that was the 90 minutes worth.

When I saw the set-list, I couldn’t have argued with it, but having listened to the show, I reckon’ Heartbreaker’ would have been a fitting finale, sadly.  ‘Free Spirit’ was exactly what it wasn’t. The right notes, mainly, but devoid of the spirit! The back-up group were basically Deborah Bonham’s group. I am not a fan of tribute acts at all, but I reckon Rodgers would have done far better using Freeway, whom we saw many years ago at Cambridge Rock Festival.

I have put the recording onto 2 cds, with a half hour or so of PR doing an acoustic set in Madrid from 2002 (including ‘All Right Now’!).  If any of our festival chums want it, it is yours, for ‘free’!  I won’t be playing it again.

Grateful Dead. Cornell University. 8.5.1977

The recording has just been released via their own ‘deadnet’ website, although it has been doing the rounds among deadheads for decades.

So is the ‘official’ recording worth lashing out mucho dollars on, either in cd or vinyl form?  5 lps or 3 cds (it doesn’t quite fit on 2 cds.)

First up, I am a fan, but I much prefer the contents of their first sets (relatively short songs which included the occasional cover version) to the second set numbers (long jamming numbers, usually involving percussion sections).

I managed to cobble together most of the first set, with ‘New Minglewood Blues’, ‘El Paso’, ‘Deal’ and the like , with 17 minute versions of  ‘Not Fade Away’and ‘Morning Dew’ from the second set onto a single cd. Plus the ‘One More Saturday Night ‘ encore.

So ‘Scarlet Begonias’, ‘Fire on the Mountain’, ‘Estimated Prophet’ and ‘St Stephen’ fell under the editor’s knife.

The set seems to have garnered semi-legendary status and generally achieves nearly all 5 star reviews from deadheads. Me?  I own up to not listening to the bits I omitted but the rest didn’t jump out and assault my wedding tackle. My favourite GD lp was ‘American Beauty’, in fact one of my favourites by anyone!  And my favourite GD live number is ‘Bertha’. Neither of which featured here. ‘El Paso’ always seemed very cheesy,  but the lengthy ‘NFA’ and ‘MD’ were pretty good.

If you have never heard the Dead, this release won’t blow you away (in my opinion). But they weren’t one of the biggest outfits in the USA for nothing, so take advantage of their generosity in allowing tapers to roll , and find some downloads.