Posted on 19th May 2012

Earlier this month, on the 5th May 2012, The Paul Menel Band, stripped down to Paul and Steve, together with special guest Martin Orford, provide support to Pendragon at The Assembly in Leamington Spa. They may have been the supporting band, with an early time slot, but word had got out that doors were opening early, as nearly half the venue was full by the time the guys took to the stage. A great turn out, as even the Assembly staff noted.

Paul and Martin came on stage first for a rousing rendition of the Piano/Vocal Version of No Love Lost. A great start to the set, and got everybody eagerly awaiting the other delights from the Nomzamo 25 Years Anniversary Tour. This tour was a celebration of the release of Nomzamo, the album Paul and Martin first joined forces on, when they were in IQ back in 1987. 25 years later, the songs are as classic as they were back in 1987. Paul then welcomed Steve to join the two on stage. The Nomzamo set then continued with one of the best live performances of Promises (a personal favourite) and Nomzamo, the title track of the album.

To break the set up, the band added a few surprises throughout the set. The first surprise was a track from Martin's latest solo album, The Old Road, with Paul and Steve doing a fantastic job of Ray Of Hope. Common Ground began with Steve sitting on the floor with the acoustic guitar, having forgotten to arrange to have a stool on stage, and ended with some great electric guitar fret work, much to the appreciation of the audience. The next surprise, of sorts, was the Paul Menel Band song She's Up On The Chair Again, taken from the forthcoming album. Then on to the final song from the Nomzamo part of the set, Still Life, with yet more amazing guitar solos from Steve.

As so to the final song of the night. Although I knew ahead of the set what it would be, I hadn't seen the rehearsals, so wasn't quite expecting the result. As Steve stepped forward to the mic I was just expecting some backing vocals, and was just as surprised and impressed as everyone else when he took on the Roger Waters vocals for Comfortably Numb. Paul and Martin handled Dave Gilmour's vocals to great effect too. It was an unusual song for the set, but an absolute delight too.

Seeing Martin on stage again after so many years, was great, to see him playing and singing was fantastic, to see that he and Paul sounded as good as they did 25 years ago, if not better, was a joy. The following weekend they repeated the performance at De Boerderij, Zoetermeer, Holland, to just as much applause. Hopefully, this won't be the last time we see Paul and Martin on stage together, as there is already talk of an Are You Sitting Comfortably 25 Years Anniversary Tour in 2014 :)

If you missed the gig, fear not we recorded the whole event, and you can now watch the full set on YouTube. You can either watch via the playlist, or by clicking the links below to view the individual song performances:

Photos coming soon.

File Under: gigs / menel / music

Things Don't Mean What They Used To

Posted on 26th March 2012

Back in the '90s a young band touted themselves round the Midlands and sometimes further afield. Unfortunately I never got to see them, but did acquire a cassette tape at some point and remember being impressed. I was later told that the keyboard player was my mate Pete Spoz, who I'd got to know as one of the Jellyheads, who used to come along to many of the early Ark gigs. The tape is now somewhere in the loft in one of many boxes og hidden gems.

A few months ago, Pete told me that Giovanni (Pete's brother) was reforming The Sordid Details with Mick Couch, Rick Cox and himself. Here was my chance.

Sadly due to other commitments, of the three Re-Onion dates, Bromsgrove is the only one I could make. So on the 18th March, over to The Hop Pole in Bromsgrove I went for my first Sordid Details gig. Full of friends and family, the night was set for a top gig.

The band began as The Sordid Details, with a great selection of their own classics, along with a couple of covers, the first of which, Wish Away, they were joined by their good friend Ash on vocals. After about an hour they closed the first set with The Stranglers classic No More Heroes.

The second set began with a selection of songs from their days as Stereogram, when they played as a three-piece after Pete left. Pete rejoined them on stage for a run through a selection of covers, and a few more of The Sordid Details classics, before Dave from Jam DRC peformed some guest vocals with the band.

The night ended all too quickly, even though the band had been playing for over two hours! A fantastic night and I'm only sad that I won't be able to see them play The Flapper & Firkin in Birmingham on Saturday 31st March. If you happened to be in town on Saturday and fancy a great night out, you'll not be disappointed with The Sordid Details. Hopefully they'll come out retirement again some day, so I see if my bootleg tape recorder still works!

File Under: bromsgrove / gigs / music / photography

If You Think About It

Posted on 6th November 2011

It's been a while since I posted some gig photos, and last week Nicole and I attended a rather fun gig. Our friends the Superficials were playing The Actress & Bishop in Birmingham, and as usual I took a long my trusty camera.

Alas I didn't realise that the batteries need charging so only managed to capture half the gig. Still for me that was still 600 photos! Thankfully I did manage to get some decent photos among those 600, and you can see a selection of them at the link below.

Being the weekend closest to Halloween, unsurprisingly the venue was full of the traditional vampires, ghouls and zombies ... including the staff :) However, the most surprising was a guest appearance by Andy Pandy! I can only assume the costume hire shop had run out of scary monsters.

Superficials were great as always, and deserved the top of the bill. They far and away showed off their quality of musicianship and song performance to be the better band of the night. Featuring many songs from their debut album as well as many as yet unrecorded songs, the band played a fine set. To honour Sir Jimmy Saville, the band dedicated Pushing Daisies to the great man who sadly died earlier in the day. With them playing so many great songs that weren't on the debut album, Surface, though, I am really looking forward to hearing their second album. A great band and a great night.

And should you now wish you'd been there too, another reason for posting the set now is also to highlight and promote a very special gig the band are doing this weekend at The Rubery Social Club, New Road, Rubery on Saturday 12th November.

It's a charity event and all the proceeds go to an extremely worthy cause. If you're in or around Rubery or Birmingham on Saturday and are looking for something to do, your support and attendance would be very much appreciated.

Superficials along with Black Bears and The High Commisioners will be playing the night away, to pay tribute to a young boy called Owen Evans, who sadly died last year from a very rare disease called Aplastic Anaemia. The gig aims to raise awareness for Aplastic Anaemia as well promoting 'A Trek For Owen'.

The whole of Owen's school, Beaconside Primary & Nursery School, have been raising funds by way of charity runs and other events and now Saturday's big event Live Band Night. There will be a raffle during the night too with some special prizes. Tickets are £5 for Adults and £2.50 for Children (Under 12′s).

On 12th May 2012 Owen's mum Sue, his headteacher Paul and family friend Lexi will be walking along The Great Wall of China to help raise £10,000 for Team Owen.

If you can't make the event on Saturday, you can still help Team Owen reach their £10,000 goal by supporting them at JustGiving or buying the special A Trek For Owen wristbands. It really is a worthy cause.

File Under: charity / gigs / music / superficials

Call Up The Groups

Posted on 20th September 2011

So last week I asked a series of music trivia questions. I wonder how well you did?

1) Which band has the longest consistent line-up still featuring all the original members?

This was the original question that started my research, and I was quite pleased with myself to discover my answer was correct. I did find it interesting that several people thought that ZZ Top was the answer. It seems several history books forget that ZZ Top have actually had 4 different line-ups before settling on the current line-up. Admittedly those first few line-ups lasted barely months, however, the original line-up did find time to record a single, Salt Lick, in early 1970.

Six years later a group of lads got together in Dublin, and formed a very embryonic version of what was to come. There were several names and line-ups before settling on The Hype. The band consisted of Larry, Dave, Paul, Adam and Dave's brother Richard (aka Dik). Dik decided to leave in March 1978 and the band continued as a 4 piece, renaming themselves U2. Since March 1978 U2 have had the same line-up for an anmazing 33 years. Points to Fiona for getting that one, even though she never said which question she was answering :)

2) Which band has the longest consistent line-up of the current members?

Hinted at in the answer to the previous question, ZZ Top have the longest running current line-up. In 1970 the line-up came together with Billy Gibbons, Frank Beard and Dusty Hill, and they've been together ever since, now clocking up 41 years. If they are still going strong in two years time, they will be the answer to the question, 'what band has the longest running single line-up?'

3) Which band has the longest consistent line-up of the original members, before a change in line-up?

In 1953 four high school students from Detroit performed together at a birthday party and decided it went so well they'd form a vocal group. In 1956 they signed to Chess Records and changed their name from The Four Aims to the now legendary Four Tops. Amazingly the band remained together until 1997, when sadly Lawrence Payton died. The band still continue to perform, but stopped being a recording band in 1995. Depending on your view point, the Four Tops were together with their original line-up for either 44 years or 41 years. Either way U2 have got another decade to go yet :)

4) Regardless of line-up changes which is the longest running band?

This is a tricky question. When I did the original research the answer was Golden Earring, who formed in 1960, with The Rolling Stones coming in a close second having formed in 1961.

When I asked these questions on Facebook recently, my friend Neil gave me the answer The Barron Knights. After further research, I nearly considered his answer to be correct. The Barron Knights officially formed in 1960, with their previous incarnation (formed in 1959) called 'The Knights of the Round Table'. However they haven't been a consistently recording and touring since the late 80s. Their last major recording was in 1986, with most of their releases since being best of compilations, while the rest have been self-finaced. To fair they still tour and have summer residencies, but they have never had the world wide recognition that I was originally looking for in an answer. As it happens my further research uncovered a longer running group any way.

Despite not being a recording band since 1995 as it currently stands, the Four Tops are now recording a new album with a planned release date in 2012. They still tour regularly and while they have now had a few line-up changes, original member Abdul "Duke" Fakir is still performing with them. As such, with 54 years as The Four Tops it is going to be a while before any other band manages to take the title.

I hope you enjoyed doing some of your own researching to find the answers. And well done to anyone who got all the answer right!

File Under: music / quiz

The Long Run

Posted on 10th September 2011

An after gig conversation recently brought up an interesting musical feat (question 1). Although I was fairly certain of the answer, I did a bit of research, which aside from confirming my answer, also raised some further related questions. I posted three of these to my Facebook wall initially, but felt they deserved a wider post here.

See if you can work out the answers:

  1. Which band has the longest consistent line-up still featuring all the original members?
  2. Which band has the longest consistent line-up of the current members?
  3. Which band has the longest consistent line-up of the original members, before a change in line-up?
  4. Regardless of line-up changes which is the longest running band?

In all cases the bands are still major touring and recording artists today, and none have broken up and then later reformed.

I'll give answers to these in a follow-up post next week.

File Under: music / quiz

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