Nomzamo

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
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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
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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
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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
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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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Dreams (Keep Me Alive)

Posted on 21st April 2011

On Saturday, 2nd April 2011, the Superficials played their first gig at The Hawthorns Social Club in Rubery. After being stuck in the studio recording their debut album for several months, it was great to actually hear the songs that Pete had been telling everyone about.

Attended by friends and family, the gig was primarily a private gig in celebration of fellow Jellyhead Craig's 40th birthday. As such, it was a very supportive audience, not that it was hard to win anyone over. The songs are very infecious, the playing was top notch and the performance from the whole band was solid.

The band consist of Martyn Terry on vocals & sax, Trevor Flowers on lead guitar, dB on drums, Cheese on rhythm guitar and Pete Spoz on bass, keyboards & backing vocals. Despite being a new band, the collective members have a wealth of previous experience under their belts, and although it might have been their first gig, you could easily be forgiven for thinking they've been playing together for several years.

Running through the complete album, as well as several unrecorded songs, the band settled into a groove quickly, and took us on a tour of aural delights. Their sound, although very indie/rock in nature has some mod and classic rock influences too, which suits the current climate of interest for indie bands at the moment. Songs like Emergency and The Truth highlight the band's foot-tapping rythmic grooves, Pushing Daises and Futureday bring out a more jangly-pop sound, while songs such as Dreams (Keep Me Alive) show off the band's more soulful side. Although I can't hear specific influences, there are parts that remind me of bands like The Mighty Lemon Drops or The Trashcan Sinatras, and even The Jam. All in all a great mix of tunes and well worth checking out.

My thanks to Pete for the setlist:

Emergency
Superficial
Eye Of The Storm
Spinning Song
Pushing Daises
Dreams (Keep Me Alive)
The Truth
Nostalgia Lies
If You Think About It
Futureday
All The People
Two Thousand Days
Generation
America
28000 Miles

For more details on the band, visit the Superficials page on Reverbnation or follow the Superficials on Facebook. The album, Surface, is out now, and with more gigs lined up, you'd be wise to see them now before the NIA and world wide tours beckon.

Check out more photos from the gig:

This is part one of Craig's 40th Birthday Bash. Part two with The Festival Experience will appear soon.

File Under: gigs / music / photography / superficials
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Walk In My Shoes

Posted on 15th April 2011

I first met Paul Menel back in 1985, when he joined IQ. It was at the old Marquee Club on Wardor Street in London, and ended up being a great night. Last year was the first time I'd seen him for several years, having hid himself away from the limelight. It was great news to hear he was back with a new band and a new album.

The album, Three Sides To Every Story, is awaiting release, although if you were at any of Paul's gigs earlier this year, you hopefully bought one of the 5-track samplers. The new band has been working on the songs, and since the original recordings, the live performances have taken on a life of their own.

Paul and the band will be supporting Khaliq next week at the O2 Academy Birmingham on Friday 22nd April, and have busy rehearsing for the gig. With the departure of John Jowitt, the band have been breaking in new boy Steve Swift to the new live set. With the Khaliq gig being a support slot, the set will maiinly focus on the forthcoming album, but they'll still be something to keep the iQ fans interested too.

The rehearsals themselves went really well, with smiles all round by the end of the night. It was also great to hear Luke guesting on backing vocals, as he did on the original recordings :)

After looking back through the photos, I really am going to have a start a photo collection entitled 'The Many Faces of Bill Devey'. I used to think it was only guitarists that practised gurning during guitar solos, but Bill was putting every guitarist to shame the other night ;)

Expect more photos from the gig after next week.

File Under: gigs / menel / music
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Who Knows Where The Time Goes

Posted on 27th March 2011

Alvechurch Acoustic Roots Review
Friday 25th March 2011
Alvechurch Social Club

Since Alvechurch's very own Slim Pickins was put on indefinite hold, there was still a desire to do something on the last Friday of the month. So in January the very first Alvechurch Acoustic Roots Review took place. The night is quite different from the previous Roots & Blues Club, but does feature some familiar faces. The biggest difference of the night is that everyone is there to listen to some interesting performances, rather than just out for a night of music. It's created a very different dynamic within the audience, the most noticeable affect being that everyone stops talking and listens to each act. As most performers only play two songs each, it allows for a lot of variety.

To beginning the night, as per usual is Paul Chamberlain, who was then followed by Pippa Morley opening with Black Velvet and Angie O'Rourke performing a very pared down version of Dancing In The Dark. Next up were The Withybed Poets. While most of the performers tonight are singers or musicians, The poetry readings from The Withybed Poets added a nice flavour to the night. The first set ended with a change to the planned roster, with Nicole performing a song she had written with Graham Higgins (the act she filled in for), but which has yet to receive a title.

The second set featured a band put together for the night, Public Sector, featuring Graeme, Paul, Keith and Tony. The highlight of their set has to be their own unique interpretation of The Erie Canal, reworked as The Worcester Canal, with the Captain Pugwash theme tune tagged onto the end. The Withybed Poets came back for a second stint, adding Sam to their line-up. Of all the poems they performed The Doctor's Waiting Room by Meg was a personal favourite, which together with her earlier ode to Rugby Players, proved Meg has quite a talent for the comedic poem. Next up was Katherine, featuring a rendition of Joni Mitchell's Marcie. Last act of the second set featured Iain & Nicole. The first song was one penned by Iain, The Snowflake Song, with their second song Who Knows Where The Time Goes by the Sandy Denny, who Iain admitted before playing the song that he only discovered recently, while Nicole has been a long time fan, and has performed a few of her songs solo at the Roots & Blues Club.

For the third set, Pete Gates featured some traditional blues songs on quite a unique brass guitar. Adrian Perry then took us back to the early seventies with rendtions of Ruby Tuesday, and the great sing-a-long Strawbs' Part Of The Union. Interesting to note that most of the audience knew all the words, especially the chorus! Adrian then added backing to final act of the set, Sue & Fiona. Their second song introducing us to some great "Gaelic mouth music".

For the final set, the Acoustic Roots Orchestra take to the stage, with most of the participants having already played during the night. The Orchestra is a result of The Workshop run by Paul to nuture talent within the village, and give those who might not otherwise feel brave enough to play on their own, a chance to meet others and work on ideas and songs.

It was a great night and a great selection of performers. The mix of music and performance worked well as did the idea of having several sets with breaks between. If you like quality acoustic folk, then you'd be a fool to miss future nights. The next Alvechurch Acoustic Roots Review will be on Friday 6th May.

Acoustic Roots Review featured:

Paul Chamberlain
Pippa Morley
Angie O'Rourke
Withybed Poets
Nicole Perrott Hughes
--
Public Sector
Withybed Poets
Katherine
Iain Howarth & Nicole Perrott Hughes
--
Pete Gates
Adrian Perry
Sue Resuggan & Fiona Holmes
--
Acoustic Roots Orchestra

Photos:

File Under: gigs / music / people / review
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She Brings Sun

Posted on 24th March 2011

The Bleeding Hearts
19th March 2011
Katie Fitzgeralds, Stourbridge.

This was the first gig of the year for The Bleeding Hearts, and comes in the middle of recording their new album. As such it was a suitable occasion to air some of their new songs. The night was a good mix of new and old, and even though some live favourites were abscent, it wasn't noticable until after the gig. The new songs worked well with the old, and the band sound tight again, despite not playing live since November last year.

The venue was a small cellar bar, and although it looked cramped on stage, Steve, Gel and Lizzie managed to find space enough to bounce around as per usual, with Gaz and Ewan holding the fort behind them. The recent addition of mandolin to band's overall sound is a good choice. With Gel and Gaz laying a solid foundation to the band's sound, and Steve cutting to the point, it allows both Lizzie and Ewan the freedom to add flavours to the sound the emphaise all the other parts. Steve did comment that Ewan's role in the band was to "keep it nice", Steve own role was to "keep it nasty". It does make for a great punk folk sound.

The set began with a firm live favourite, Democracy, and the fun never let up once. The first part of the set was a run through a selection from the past few albums, before introducing some of the new songs to the set. The first new song, Brian, was in honour of the Family Guy character, before continuing on with the likes of Screaming, The Damage You Do, Fear Of The Dark and She Brings Sun. As per usual, for Hardly Anything Gel traded in his bass for drumstick and tamborine, and frequently emulated and embelished the poses of Lizzie's fiddle playing on the opposite side of the stage. Not quite Duelling Banjos, but they're getting there ;)

Then came a run of three new songs, first Land Of Folk And Glory, followed by the very reggae influenced In The Name Of The People, which kept the groove of the night bouncing along nicely. Finally the last of the new songs, which poked fun at the social networking way of life. For the moment, until I can find a title, it shall be known as The Facebook Song. Finishing off with a couple of older songs, rather than head off to the back room only to come out a moment later to do an encore, the band remained on stage. Final song of the night, Caravan Song, bookended the set with another classic from Fly In The Face Of Fashion.

A great night, and if tonights airings are anything to go by, the new album is going to be cracker. A band not to be missed.

UPDATE: Gel tells me the real name of the new song is Fake Book. A much better title :)

File Under: bleedinghearts / gigs / music
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Shadowplay

Posted on 30th August 2010

At the end of July, Dan and I went up to Macclesfield in Cheshire to see the Unknown Pleasures exhibition. Although the exhibition was billed as the life/work of Ian Curtis and Joy Division, it mostly centres on exhibits that focus on Joy Division. The exhibition itself was in two parts, firstly archive material surrounding Joy Division, then across the hallway, a collection of artwork inspired by Ian Curtis and Joy Division. The archives are fantastic, and include many items fans would have loved to have sat and read through for hours. The one aspect that was a little disappointing was the lack of photographs, particularly gig photos. The ones on show mostly focused on the two gigs. While they were great to see, it would have been wonderful to have had more on display. Though it did make me wonder whether there were any other photographs. In all the years since, I haven't seen that many more.

Ian died on 18th May 1980, and this exhibition, together with the other events that have taken place, such as the workshops, are all to commemorate 30 years since his death. It seems staggering to think it was 30 years ago, and to realise how much it affected me at the age of 14. Joy Division were always local heroes for me, as I was born 8 miles away from Macclesfield in Congleton, and later moved to nearby Holmes Chapel. Growing up in the aftermath of Punk, the new wave sounds that were centred around Manchester was a source of great inspiration for young teenagers. The fact that Joy Division (or at least 2 of them) were local, only added to their appeal.

As I was with Dan, I couldn't attend the Film Festival that was planned in the afternoon & evening, but it would have been interesting to hear from some of the people behind the band, including Stephen Morris. It's one thing to see the films and get a feeling of the events, but hearing the real experiences of the people involved is quite another. Sadly two additional people who helped to carve the history of the band, Rob Gretton and Tony Wilson, are also no longer with us. I've met both, as well the members of New Order, over the years, and was glad that I was old enough to appreciate those times in the late 70s/early 80s.

After the exhibition Dan & I took in some of the sights of Macclesfield, particularly those relating to Ian and Joy Division. The Exhibition was selling a special map to help guide people to some of the landmarks, which helped to provide a bit more background information, particularly for the rehearsal rooms and gigs they hung out at. The Heritage Centre, also known part of the Silk Museum, is primarily a centre for the town to reflect on it's history of being part of the Silk industry. The Heritage Centre itself used to be an old mill. You can still see evidence of this around the town, and one of the days I may get back again, and photograph some of those sights. However, for this trip we used the map to pinpoint the musical history.

Our first stop was along from The Heritage Centre, towards the town centre, to Duke Street. Krumbles Night Club was the venue of the first Joy Division gig. It has since changed hands several times, and changed names, and I did wonder whether anyone these days still puts on gigs there, as from the outside it just looks like a regular disco. We walked through the arcade of Dukes Court onto the main street. Although there are other haunts the band once took in nearby, we choose to head off to our next destination.

Next we headed to 77 Barton Street. If you've seen the film Control, the exterior shots of the house, are the actual house, as is the Labor Exchange where Ian used to work. It wasn't until I watched Control again recently, that I noticed that they had tried to convey just how close his house was to where he worked. Barely a few minutes door to door walking. That's one of the nice things about being able to come here and see for yourself, you get to see the reality of it, the history of the town. You also get to see the views of The Pennines to the east and north.

I met a guy who had brought his daughter along, as I had done with Dan. It turned out like me he hadn't got to see the band live, though he was 18 when Ian died, I was just 14. We both commented that being 30 years ago, why there wasn't a plaque or something, but I suspect the current owners would rather not have one. I guess they can tolerate fans taking pictures every once in a while, but didn't want to draw too much attention to the house.

We then headed around the corner to the Labour Exhange. Although the building looks to be unchanged, it's no longer a Labour Exchange, and now appears to be a centre to help local businesses. Again if you've seen the film Control, the exterior of the building is used, with the more modern signs replaced with old ones.

Our next location was intended to be the rehearsal rooms the band once used. Unfortunately the location provided on the map is a bit confusing. As such, I think the new school buildings we found next to The Weston pub are more likely to have been the site of the Hall, replacing it in more recent years. We then went to look for the next rehearsal rooms on the map, The Talbot pub. Initially I was looking for a pub, and although we found a couple, they didn't quite fit the location marked in the guide. Pulling over, I read a little more closely and discovered the roundabout we'd kept passing was the original site of the pub. It had been knocked down to make way for one the new roads around the town.

Eventually we headed for the Macclesfield Crematorium. The crematorium itself also has very personal memories for me, as well as being the place where Ian was cremated. My sister Jacqui, as well as Floss, who would have been my Great Aunt had my Nan's brother not died in the war, were both cremated here too. The cemetary and the Garden of Rememberance are both very peaceful places, and even though we saw several fans coming to visit the curbstone, it always felt respectful. It didn't feel sombre either. Those I spoke to had more to say about Ian's life than his death, which is how it should be. I was quite surprised to see most of the fans were actually quite young, most being in their 20s, and two needed their mum and dad to drop them off. It does seem that Joy Division have indeed reached a new audience, one that wasn't even born when Ian died.

On our final journey round the town we took in King's School, where both Ian and Stephen attended, together with The Travellers Rest. The Travellers Rest was another pub that was frequented by music fans and featured gigs. Warsaw asked if they could play here once, but were told they should get a record deal first.

It was a good day out, and nice opportunity to celebrate a life that has touched so many people. Joy Division are one of my most listened to bands over the years, and despite such a small catalogue compared to others, they managed to produce a wealth of great songs. For Ian, Closer was a disaster, and from experience I've seen other bands feel extremely disappointed with the results of a recording immediately after the sessions have finished. However, it's only later that the realisation that you've produced something special becomes apparent.

I've been back to Cheshire regularly since I left, but don't often make it as far as Macclesfield. I'm glad I took Dan with me this time, as aside from giving him a sense of my history, he hopefully has some memories that will bring Joy Division to an even younger audience.

"To the centre of the city where all roads meet, waiting for you"

File Under: art / museum / music / sightseeing
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New Scientist

Posted on 20th May 2010

As mentioned in a recent post, Ark are back. They are currently putting the finishing touches to a new album, Wild Untamed Imaginings, which is now planned for a September 5th launch date. However, despite the band working on all the tracks for the album, there was one song that needed something a little extra. New Scientist has a school yard chant in the song, that in the original was handled by the band themselves. For the new recording they wanted to make it sound a little more convincing.

With all of us now having families, the idea was broached about have our kids do the backing vocals. Very quickly the idea of a Kids Chorus gained hold, and one sunny Sunday afternoon in late April we all (well apart from Tony and Tim) descended on John Jowitt's abode in Stourbridge, for an afternoon of recording. The kids were pointed at the garden and told to make friends, which they did with ease, almost as if they'd known each other for years, while the adults enjoyed food, drink and chatted about how long it had been since we'd all seen each other.

Midway through the afternoon, Mark and John prepped the mic and got all the kids together to record the chant. Originally they were going to do an indoor version and outdoor version, but the outdoor version went so well, we didn't need the other. The kids threw themselves into it and all had a lot of fun. After recording the chant, we let them loose on the garden again. However, unknown to any of the kids, Mark had left the microphone recording to take in some ambient sounds of the kids playing. Not quite sure whether they'll use any of it, but there'll be plenty to chose from :)

Pete, having missed playing with the Arkie Boys Football Club, tried to drum up enthusiam to form an adults versus kids football match. With John's house backing onto the Park, they decamped using trees, coats and jumpers for goal posts, with Pete, John and Mikey on one side and most of the kids on the other. My Dan was delight to score against the grown-ups, but in the end it was 4-1 to the Arkie Boys. A rematch has been suggested.

Click here for just a selection of photos from the afternoon. I'll be adding more to the Ark Appreciation Pages in the next few weeks.

File Under: ark / dan / ethne / music
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Stargazer

Posted on 17th May 2010

Many aspire to be rock legends, but few rarely attain it. Ronnie James Dio was all that and more.

I was first introduced to Ronnie James Dio thanks to Tommy Vance on the BBC Radio One's Friday Night Rock Show. To begin with it was Rainbow, then shortly after Black Sabbath. Dio managed to pair himself with some great talent, and his writing, singing and performances were the greater for it.

I first saw him on stage with Black Sabbath in January 1982 at Stafford Bingley Halls. It was snowing and cold, but the band were on fire. My mates and I managed to get right down the front, and had an absolute blast. It was a great gig, but also a very eventful one. It was the gig that got stopped halfway through the song Black Sabbath, as dry ice had spurted out from underneath the drum riser and shot up Vinnie Appice's leg, giving him some nasty burns. After a short while they returned on stage, with Vinnie getting a huge cheers for carying on. When Ronnie left Black Sabbath and formed Dio, I managed to catch them on several tours during the 80s, and often went backstage to get my programme signed. Ronnie always waited until every fan who waited had got something signed. He'd happily chat with fans and get his photograph taken, and you always got the feeling he always appreciated the fans.

In 1992 I was with Ark at Rich Bitch Studios in Birmingham, where they were recording the Cover Me With Rain EP. Paul and Gel shot upstairs to tell us Sabbath were here. Unsurprising we all found excuses to head downstairs to get a drink or something to eat :) The guys were very relaxed and seemed very at ease to say hello.

In more recent years, I haven't seen that many gigs, and I even regretted not going to see Heaven & Hell and Dio's 'Holy Diver - Live' tour at the time. Thankfully I have some great memories of his live shows and he leaves behind some great songs and albums. I always wished I could have seen him perform with Rainbow backing the 70s, and oddly enough I was playing Tarot Woman to Dan on Saturday from Rainbow Rising, as I continued his education in classic rock ;)

Ronnie, you always were a star. R.I.P.

File Under: dio / music / people
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Flag Day

Posted on 5th May 2010

In 1989 I was working with iQ on a short tour of the UK. The support for several dates came from a band called Ark. They came from the Black Country in the West Midlands, which happened to be a lot closer to me than London and Southampton, where iQ were primarily based. Although I would still help out iQ for a good while, with Ark being closer and doing more gigs, I came to be more and more involved with Ark.

After the iQ gigs, I kept in touch with Ark, and thanks to Danny Mayo, who happened to live in Hinckley, near where I was living at the time, got to quite a few gigs. The one that changed it for me though was a gig at The Royal Standard in Walthamstow, North East London. Anne Fox, who is iQ guitarist Mike Holmes' sister, invited me down to the gig with a few other friends of iQ. We all had a great time, and I was moved enough to want to buy the album they had for sale, Dreams Of Mr jones. I didn't have enough cash on me, but thankfully Anne lent me the money to buy it.

Upon getting home and finally listening to the album, I was impressed with the songs. Even after just the few gigs I'd seen of them, I was convinced this was a band that looked like they were going to go places. From the end of 1989, I started going to more and more gigs, helping to unload and load the gear, doing lights occasionally (where the venue had controllers), became occasional driver and generally became an official roadie for the band. I'm not sure when exactly I crossed over from just being an enthusiastic fan to a roadie, but I'm glad I did. Over the next 5 years we toured, recorded and had a blast. Well most of the time. It all ended in March 1995, and the band members went on to other things.

In 1998 I bought my first PC and got on the internet from home. I then began my first interest in website design, development and deployment. The first website I ever launched was the Ark Appreciation Pages. It's often said start with what you know, so I did. The site remained virtually unchanged for 12 years, and although content got added from time to time, in the last few years news and updates began to dwindle, despite having lots of archive material needing digitising to put online.

In 2009 the band got together in a pub and talked about a possible reunion gig. John Jowitt and Steve Harris had been talking about doing some of the old songs again, and put the idea to Tony Short and Pete Wheatley. To their delight all were very enthusiastic to playing Ark songs again. Rehearsals began, with new drummer Tim Churchman, and very quickly more than just a reunion gig was on the cards. A tour and an album were starting to become a reality. As such in January I started looking redesigning and relaunching the Ark Appreciation Pages. The old site was in desperate need of a makeover, and as it was the closest the band had to an official site, it needed a severe clean up to promote the new line-up.

Talking with the band, it transpired that they were planning to launch an official band site. A site that was firmly aimed at promoting the new line-up. With the Ark Appreciation Pages having so much archive material, it was much better placed to look at the band's whole career, and perhaps most importantly from a fan's perspective. The band have been very supportive of the site over the years, and they wanted it to continue, so my aim is to compliment the official site as much as possible.

On Monday 3rd May, the new website was launched with a new domain, ark . eology . org. I'm disappointed I hadn't thought of that domain before, as the old grango address has now found it's way onto many sites referencing the band. The domain name itself seems to fit well with the site itself too, allowing fans to dig a little deeper to uncover the history of the band. And with nearly 30 years of history to draw on, that could potentially be a lot of digging ;)

The new site is now a dynamic site, and as such is a better fit to update content on a more regular basis. Expect regular updates of photos, and hopefully each month at least one set of mp3s added to the site. As the band start to tour again, new live material will hopefully be uploaded too. I'm really pleased to be working with the band again, as they have been missed. The 5 years I spent touring with Ark, helped to shape my future and introduced me to Nicole. I have great memories of those days, and it will be wonderful to be able to see some of the old crowd again. We might all be a little older, have families and the like, but we now have a new generation to educate as to why Ark were such a great band. Please check out the new site, and let me know what you think. If you're a fan of the band too, and have any archive material you can share (photos, reviews, mp3s, scans of ticket stubs, magazine adverts and reviews), please get in touch.

Ark are back.

File Under: ark / music
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Back In The Day

Posted on 25th December 2008

Last weekend I was sitting watching cartoons with Dan and an episode of Duck Dodgers came on. I wasn't paying attention until they mentioned Dave Mustaine being the saviour of the universe of something!. I'd not been aware of it before, but in the episode "In Space, Nobody Can Hear You Rock", first broadcast back in 2005, Dave and Megadeth are depicted in cartoon form as themselves. The best bit was them playing a live concert featuring the song "Back In The Day" from the "The System Has Failed" album.

After a brief search of the net, I came across this posting from Roadrunner Records, which announces that the full episode is available here. So if you're a Megadeth fan and haven't seen it, now you can :) Although really I should add it's only for hardcore fans and kids only ;)

File Under: music
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Pictured Life

Posted on 24th December 2008

Earlier this month there was a rather confusing and worrying blanket "Moral Majority" ban of a page on Wikipedia. The page in question has now been unblocked and the actual image that started it all has also been unblocked, with the Internet Watch Foundation that instigating the block now backing down in the face of overwhelming resistance to their actions.

The image in question is from the original front cover of the 1976 album release "Virgin Killer" by The Scorpions. At the time of its release in 1976, it courted controvesy and although widely available to all in numerous retail outlets across the world, some outlets did insist on selling it only over the counter in a sealed paper bag, and only a few refused to stock it at all. Following feedback from the retail outlets, the band reissued the album with a cover featuring a group shot of the band. However, the original album cover is still widely available in second record stores and on eBay. Following remastered reissues and boxset packages, the CD is once again available with the original artwork. It has also appeared in many books over the years, often cited amongst a list of worst album covers, some of which can found in public libraries.

I don't know the retail figures, but I can imagine that several thousand heavy metal fans in the UK alone have a copy of the original album, or a reissued remastered CD featuring the image in their collections.

So the decision to ban the image ONLY on wikipedia now (some 32 years after the original image was widely available) seems absolutely idiotic. At first the main page regarding the album was blocked, and appartently it is the first time the IWF has banned a complete work of text. Wikipedia volunteer David Gerard and Sarah Robertson from the IWF were interviewed on BBC Radio 4 as I was driving into work on the day the block was instigated and it was very evident that the woman representing the IWF was rather ignorant of the situation, trying to focus on the fact that they had shown it to the police who had said it was "potentially illegal". Blaming the police, who are NOT judge and jury regarding obscene material is rather irresponsible at best, and only serves to highlight their lack of process in ensuring that if an image is considered illegal, a botched attempt at banning is the best of their abilities.

Wikipedia themselves issued a statement that reads "Due to censorship by the UK self-regulatory agency the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), most UK residents can no longer edit the volunteer-written encyclopedia, nor can they access an article in it describing a 32-year-old album by German rock group the Scorpions." In addition Wikimedia Foundation's General Counsel, Mike Godwin, is also quoted as saying "We have no reason to believe the article, or the image contained in the article, has been held to be illegal in any jurisdiction anywhere in the world."

So although the image was deemed "potentially illegal" by the UK police the IWF spoke to, for the past 32 years no country has ever passed a judgement and condemed the image as illegal. It might be inappropriate, but not illegal.

And so to a bigger question. Why Wikipedia? In fact why ONLY Wikipedia? The image was wide spread across the internet, in places such as Google's image cache, on various retail sites, including Amazon, The Scorpions own website and countless others. Could it be that Wikipedia is unlikely to be in a position to sue them for blocking their site? I can well imagine that Amazon and any other major retailer would have drafted in lawyers within seconds and be issuing writs for comercial damages. Not something the IWF would be equipped to deal with, particularly since they are an independent self-appointed body, without official government backing.

Following on from that last point, the perhaps more important question is if this body is self-appointed, without government backing, who is reviewing the practices of the Internet Watch Foundation? While in many instances they may well be protecting us from illegal images, without proper regulation and governance, instances like the blocking of Wikipedia will happen again.

The scary thing in all of this is that possessing the album has never been considered illegal, and indeed would have been very difficult to prosecute now 32 years later, but the IWF seem to believe that that doesn't matter and effectively attempted to criminalise a potentially significant portion of the UK population. Should they have that power? In my opinion no, as it should be the police and the courts who govern what is actually illegal.

Because of the fact that most ISPs in the UK currently sign up to the IWF block lists, this incident was felt instantly across the UK for anyone contributing to Wikipedia. Having now blown such a big hole in their metaphorical foot, I suspect the IWF may well be a little more careful about what they block and maybe, just maybe, they might even provide better justification for blocking images and pages in the future. However, it still worries me that they can potentially criminalise a publicly available image by dubious means and make criminals out of the population, without having any jurisdiction to do so. It's not big brother we have to worry about any more it's the nanny state. Tipper Gore still has a lot to answer for.

File Under: government / internet / law / music / rant / security
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Four Sticks

Posted on 25th September 2008

As with most people of my generation, my first exposure to Led Zeppelin was via C.C.S.'s cover of Whole Lotta Love. It was the theme tune for Top Of The Pops throughout most the 70s, and identified the TV show for many years. It was only when I started listening to the evening radio shows on BBC Radio One, that I discovered that the song was originally by Led Zeppelin. It did seem a bit odd to me at the time, as to why the theme tune was a cover and not the original. As I also discovered much later, Led Zeppelin never got to perform on the show due to their rigid stance of refusing to release a single in the UK. They felt that their albums didn't need the promotion that singles would have given them and considering how many number ones and multi-platinum discs they got, I think they were right.

It wasn't really until around 1977 that I started to discover more of Led Zeppelin. Listening to John Peel and Tommy Vance, they both played a variety of tracks that I perhaps wouldn't otherwise have heard on daytime radio, Babe I'm Ganna Leave You and No Quarter being among them. On hearing Rock And Roll, Kashmir, the magestic Immigrant Song and of course Stairway To Heaven, I was quickly taken by the power of the music. It was around 1977/1978 that I started to buy records for myself, perviously they were bought for me as birthday or Christmas presents. I do remember walking into Crewe town centre one day and taking my saved up pocket money and buying Presence. It wasn't the first Led Zeppelin album I owned, as my record buying had started in second hand shops, but this was the first I bought brand new. I'd heard a couple of the tracks already, but it was the amazing Achilles Last Stand that I had bought the album for. To this day it is still my favourite Led Zeppelin track, and one my favourite songs of all time.

In 1979 a friend of mine went with his older brother to see them play at Knebworth. I was quite jealous at the time and wished I was old enough, or had an older brother too, so I could have gone as well. His report the following week, only made me yearn to be old enough to see them in a few years time. On 25th September 1980, John Bonham was found dead. After several weeks of uncertainty, the remaining band members made an official announcement that they were to disband. I was never going to be fortunate enough to see a Led Zeppelin live gig, at least not with the original members.

With Ian Curtis committing suicide in May and John Lennon being shot in December, 1980 was a rather troubled year for music fans of several generations.

The bizarre part of this story is that John Bonham is the only member of Led Zeppelin that I've met. Well perhaps met is too strong, but I did say hello. He had brought his son Jason up to race at North-West Scamble Bike meeting in Cheshire. It just so happened that it was the same club that my next door neighbours also used to race at. He was the first really famous person I'd ever met in real life, so it made quite an impression on this young music fan.

Last weekend I took DanDan to the parish church in Rushock where John is buried. We live only a few minutes drive away from the village, and the farm where his family still live, and I have been meaning to visit the grave for some time. Last Sunday was a nice a day for a change, and DanDan and I had spent a great day out visiting castles. Seeing as we were on the way home, it seemed an ideal time to pay my respects. The village is quite small and the cemetary is really peaceful, looking out on the fields and hills of Worcestershire. DanDan was quite taken by all the drumsticks, and took several photographs. I might get around to putting some of them online at some point, but for now you can see mine here.

Today is the 28th annivesary of John's death. He would have been celebrating his 60th birthday on 31st May 2008. Rock And Roll.

File Under: ledzeppelin / music
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I Dream Of Wires

Posted on 16th September 2008

The following has recently entered my inbox; body copied verbatim:

"Your internet access is going to get suspended

The Internet Service Provider Consorcium was made to protect the rights of software authors, artists. We conduct regular wiretapping on our networks, to monitor criminal acts.

We are aware of your illegal activities on the internet wich were originating from

You can check the report of your activities in the past 6 month that we have attached. We strongly advise you to stop your activities regarding the illegal downloading of copyrighted material of your internet access will be suspended.

Sincerely
ICS Monitoring Team"

Those who receive this, and the attached file, may well be duped into believing that they have been caught out and consequently open the attachement to discover they have now install a dubious artifact on their machine. The Winlogon trojan, which is then installed, may not be want you want hanging around on your system.

I did find it amusing that the creators, working with the scare tactics of the major music industry companies I've previously spoken of, have crafted this social engineering attack to dupe unsuspecting recipients. It effectively means, once people do educate their spam filters, that any future emails from music industry henchmen threatening fines, court appearances and cutting your internet will most likely end up being deleted :) 

As a result it may just mean the dubious threats might finally go away. Mind you with the stocks and share around the world looking rather shaky, I can imagine the media moguls have better things to worry about than those downloading dubious files over BitTorrent.

File Under: humour / internet / music / spam
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Great Gig In The Sky

Posted on 15th September 2008

As heard on the radio driving home tonight, Rick Wright has died of cancer. I was quite fortunate to have seen him play with Pink Floyd several times, and only wish I had been old enough to have seen them back in the 70s. Having been a key member of the band it'll be strange to have them bring in anyone else to carry on the keyboard parts. With Dave Gilmour and Nick Mason having had their own projects away from the band for several years, I suspect this will be the end of the band. Rick has left quite a legacy and will be missed by many fans.

File Under: music
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Dirty Laundry

Posted on 5th August 2008

Perhaps unsurprisingly, I don't have a lot of respect for Record Companies these days. Once upon a time their founders and executives were people who had a passion for the music, and were more interested in investing and supporting their artists, with a view of the long haul. For some bands, such as The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, U2 and many others, the rewards have been emmense for all concerned. However, since the mid-80s the major labels have bought each other out, or merged to the point we now have only 4 companies effectively deciding the future of the music industry in the US and Europe. None of the executives are in it for the music, and probably wouldn't even be able to name half of the artists they look after.

As such it is no surprise that the music sharing litigation debacles that has been lingering around for the last 8 years, are still going strong. In one case, Tanya Andersen was falsely accused by the RIAA of illegal file sharing. Now in most instances that story wouldn't make much of an impression. However, what came to light in this case is that the RIAA (and consequently the big 4 behind that organisation), were so determined to win the case they tried to contact Tanya's daughter, in order for her to confess of her mother's file sharing activities. Now bearing in mind the fact that Tanya's daughter is 8 years old, and that investigators had made several attempts to contact her daughter, including contacting her elementary school (primary school for UK readers), without Tanya's knowledge or permission, many would consider that intimidation.

Tanya's lawyers have now filed a suit for $5 million, for malicious prosecution, "alleging fraud, racketeering, and deceptive business practices by the record labels." I sincerely hope she wins the case, sending a message to all those ripping the credibility out of what was once a great music industry, that bullies and money grabbing tactics are not wanted here. If she wins, it could lead to a class-action suit, opening the floodgates for others who have also been falsely accused. In a recent update to the ongoing action, Tanya's lawyer was awarded $103,175 in legal fees following the dropping of the charges against Tanya. In another story it seems the tactics are now finally being investigated in North Carolina. If it's illegal for anyone to hack into a company computer, why do these record companies think it's legal to hack into an individual's computer? These aren't isolated stories either, there appear to be several cases that are taking on the RIAA.

I'm just hoping that the BPI are also paying attention to these cases, and don't follow the same bully-boy tactics after their attempts 2 years ago to get the ISPs to terminate accounts without evidence. With the recent announcement that ISPs are now going to signup to an agreement, I can see several customers becoming innocent victims. Hopefully some will be made aware of Tanya Andersen's case and follow a similar legal path.

File Under: law / music / rant
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This Corrosion

Posted on 4th August 2008

Every so often songs manage to become hits, that just annoy the hell out of you. Some are annoying because they lack any musical (and sometime any other) talent, some are just plain wrong, while others seem to have been made, just to see how much of a kick they can get out of being annoying.

One of the earliest I can remember was one that every self-respecting Ultravox fan despises with a passion. Joe Dolce's Shaddap You Face. It kept Vienna from being Number 1 in the UK singles charts in 1981. Shaddap You Face was a self confessed novelty song, so was purposefully annoying, and the fact that it kept a great song from being given the due it deserved just emphasised it's annoyance to many teenagers at the time.

Since then there have still been novelty records, but they rarely got to the same level of annoyance. That was left to what would often appear to be young, naive and ignorant girls. The first of which is Alanis Morrissette. I doubt anyone would be too surprised to know the song I have in mind is Ironic. That's the song title, not it's contents. Morrissette herself now claims that the irony of the song is that it is NOT filled with ironies. But somehow I don't think that was the intention when she co-wrote the song. Had she said it in interviews about the album, which was already a hit before she released Ironic as a single, then possibly, but to wait 9 years to suddenly say you meant it to be like that all along is a little far fetched.

Then there are the factually annoying. Sandi Thom wrote I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker (With Flowers in My Hair) about her desire to be a part of two musical movements that had a big impact on the pop music scene. The first was the flower power times and the second was punk rock. The lyrics state "In seventy-seven and sixty-nine revolution was in the air". Well it might have been somewhere in the world, but for both of the musical movements she cites, the revolution had been and gone. Punk was mainstream in 1977, the revolution of change started in 1974 and throughout 1975 and particularly 1976, the underground music scene, as it was then, was challenging the music establishment and taking them on and beating them into submission. By 1977 The Clash, The Damned, The Sex Pistols and The Stranglers all had record deals and 3 had had top 40 hits. The establishment had already consumed the revolution. However, the earlier faus pax is perhaps understandable as many credit Woodstock as being the first major concert of peace and love. However, they do it simply because the film of Woodstock in 1969, was made into a major motion picture movie, unlike the Monterey Pop Festival (also filmed by Pennebacker) in 1967. John Phillips, from The Mamas And The Papas, was the man behind the Monterey Pop Festival, and brought together many of those same artists two years earlier than Woodstock, it was just that Monterey was done with a bit more professionalism and wasn't a cock-up from start to finish. It was also John Phillips who wrote the song for Scott McKenzie, San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair), that Thom references in her lyrics. However, seeing as that song was released in 1967, I would have thought Thom might have done a little research and got it right. By 1969 the flower power revolution had been taken over by the protests of the Vietnam War. The original movement was really at it's peak in what it more widely refered to as the Summer Of Love, in 1967.

Then we come to the select group of songs, that think that because the likes of Sugababes (Freak Like Me/Are 'Friends' Electric?) and Run DMC (Walk This Way with the help of the original writers and performers, Aerosmith) can combine two very different styles and create something new and even better than the original. That they only need to add their inane banter to classic songs and make a pot of cash. In this case I'm particularly pointing the finger at Gym Class Heroes (or Gym Slip Heroes as I misheard their name, which seems more appropriate for their sixth-form lyrics) and their butchering of Supertramp's Breakfast In America, for their 2006 release Cupid's Chokehold. Why? Or more accurately, why did the British public take it to Number 3? Unfortunately BRMB still think it should be a hit, as they are still insisting on playing it a over year later.

However, in more recent times, with plenty of examples from the past, there has been the glut of "celebrity" collaborations. Estelle & Kanye West's effort particularly grates on me, especially the drone of the title lyric. It must be a sad state of affairs if that's the best soul music can offer this days. I would perhaps add Madonna and Justin Timberlake, but both have long since pased their sell by date. History is littered with collaborations which have never matched their individual success, and while there have been some jewels (the aforementioned Run DMC and Aerosmith for example), I would like to hope that any future big name collaborations consider whether the result actually is worth adding to the pile of mediocre and worse! In the current chart there are 13 such collaborations and for me personally none of them are worth the effort to make them.

I probably can't blame the artists all the way, as record companies also have a long history of only wanting to make a quick buck. Perhaps the biggest reason these types of records really annoy the hell out of me, is the fact that there are so many young bands that get pushed aside, who have more talent in their little fingers than many of these "celebrity" artists. I've seen so many young bands play as support acts over the years, that never got the chance to show how good they were, because the record industry had decided they weren't fashionable or manipulatable. Some managed to perserve, but it's never easy. Once upon a time the training ground for talent was in the pub and club gigs up and down the M1 and M6, with the gear in the back of a Ford transit van. These days you could be forgiven for believing you have to be a failed beautician or receptionist. Is it any wonder the charts are such a disgrace these days. Or am I just too old?

File Under: music / rant
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The Last Sucker

Posted on 9th June 2008

Last Monday I finally got to see Ministry, as they took in Wolverhampton on their "C U LaTour" farewell tour. The gig was great, if a little unusual, and featured plenty of moshing. They played for just over 2 hours, and was the same set they've played elsewhere in the UK. The only difference between the UK set and the US set has been to replace the final encore of Under My Thumb (Rolling Stones cover) with What A Wonderful World (Louis Amstrong). I bought the covers album on the way out, and having heard the tracks, I think perhaps the UK set ended on a more upbeat note than the US one.

The main set consisted of 4 or 5 tracks from the last 3 albums, and as such was a very anti-Bush type of affair. Not that I mind the songs, but in the UK the sentiment behind the songs isn't perhaps as powerful as they are in the US. Seeing as it was the first time I had got to see them (I've missed the last 3 tours for a variety of reasons, all of which have been extremely frustrating), I was happy to hear anything. The first set of encores featured So What, NWO, Just One Fix and Thieves, all of which I was more than happy with. It would have been great to have heard others, but had I sorted myself out properly and got to earlier tours I would have.

The band played behind wire mesh, which gave the effect of The Blues Brothers playing Rawhide in that country bar from the film. It actually gave the whole stage a club feel, and the audience certainly reacted as if it was too. There was plenty of moshing going on, but as the venue wasn't completely sold out, there was still space to avoid the mosh if you wanted to. In fact it was probably one of the most polite mosh pits I've ever witnessed, which is possible due to the fact many of the moshers were punks and a couple of girls even got stuck in. Nobody got really hurt and there was very much a good shared riotous enjoyment about it all. I stood on the edge of the mosh pit, and had a great view of the stage. I haven't looked at the photos yet, but hopefully some of them came out.

It'll be a pity not to be able to see the band again, but Al feels his journey with Ministry has come to an end, and seeing as he has plenty of other projects still lined-up, it's unlikely it'll be the last we'll hear of him, and maybe a RevCo or Lard tour might happen. Well I can wish can't I ;)

File Under: gigs / ministry / music
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Head Down

Posted on 13th May 2008

Nine Inch Nails have done what many record labels would be absolutely terrified to do. Trent has given his latest album, The Slip, away for free. And not any old dubious quality download (like a another high profile band tried to do), but top quality MP3s, together with lossless FLAC and M4A files, and the WAV multitrack files to enable fans to make their own remixes. In fact fans haven't been slow in uploading their remixes to the remix.nin.com site either, several tracks off the new album are already there as well several hundred other mixes.

Trent has been quite prolific in recently with this being the fourth album in as many years. Okay so Ghosts was an experimental project, but it still counts. Of the 3 regular albums, he started to change tack slightly, and although the albums were still very much Nine Inch Nails, there was more of a whole album feel, rather than a collection of songs. This was never more so than on Yero Zero. It was only recently I discovered the Year Zero alternate reality game, which has been fascinating to read about. I knew there was a concept behind the album, but never realised the scale it had been conceived on. The NIN Wiki has lots of info if you're interested.

The Slip, however, goes back to the regular collection of songs. On first listen I wasn't completely bowled over, but did think it was worth playing again. The album is a grower, and after several repeated listens, there are a few tracks that I'm starting to think will be firm favourites in years to come. After listening to remix of Head Down, entitled Head Down (Further) if you can find it on the remix site, I relistened to the track and felt I'd opened hidden door. Hopefully it won't be too long for the tour to come to the UK, then I can make up for missing the two gigs they scheduled then cancelled in Birmingham and Wolverhampton, then rescheduled while I was in Vienna.

However, the biggest buzz about the current way Trent is doing business, is going to have a few people sitting up in the record industry, taking notes. The Slip, has been released completely free, with a Creative Commons license that allows you to play, listen and remix to your hearts content. Trent even states on the website "thank you for your continued and loyal support over the years - this one's on me", which is quite a bold statement. You will be able to buy a CD, and judging from the responses, most fans are likely to do just that. Even though you can get the album for free, it's more about being able to listen to the songs on whatever medium you chose, without any fear of the RIAA or similar. Trent no longer has a traditional record deal, and being much more clued into the technological revolution that has been happening for the last 10 years or more, and indeed has positively embraced it, understands probably better than most what his audience will give and take. There aren't many artists that are comfortable just giving their music away, in fact Prince is the only other person I can think of that would, seeing as he's already given away his last album, Planet Earth, as a free CD with The Mail on Sunday.

I don't think artists and record companies will be rushing to follow suit, but I do think more artists will be considering the benefit of having their fans play with their tracks to see what they can come up with. Nine Inch Nails though do have quite a creative fanbase, that many others must be envious of, and one that is very loyal, as Trent himself astutely notes. I'm enjoying listening to the Remix site, and can imagine an official remix album may well see a release a some point. But then again, that wouldn't be anything new for Nine Inch Nails.

File Under: internet / music / nin / review
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So Glad 2B Alive

Posted on 12th May 2008

Back in February we went to see Bleeding Hearts as The Adam & Eve in Digbeth, Birmingham. It was also Gel's 40th birthday, and a great gig to celebrate it. It was also great to see Paul Rogers at the gig too, who I hadn't seen since my days with Ark, in fact since 1994. There were quite a few old faces in the audience, as well as plenty of new ones too. The was a complete mixture of old and new songs, with more emphasis on the newer songs. I did mean to make a note of the setlist, but got complete caught up in taking photos.

The Adam & Eve is quite a small pub, though long, so although you can't necessarily see well at the back, you could definitely hear the band. In fact most of Digbeth could probably hear them, and undoubtly would have said they deserved all the encores asked of them. After the live album I was quite eager to see the band again, but unfortunately it ended up being a little longer than intended. Since The Adam & Eve gig, they've done a couple of German tours now, and are set up to do a few UK gigs around the Midlands, so hopefully we'll be catching up with them soon. Expect more photos then, and hopefully a setlist next time around.

File Under: birmingham / bleedinghearts / gigs / music / photography
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We Can Change

Posted on 14th April 2008

Today I had a rather large desire to pretend it was the summer of 1987, whack the volume up (especially the bass) and enjoy my new eBay purchase of Heaven On Earth by Belinda Carlisle. I got to turn the volume up, but was quite surprised to discover Rhythmbox doesn't (currently) have any form of graphics equalizer builtin or plugin. After a bit of searching I discovered there is a plugin in development, but seeing I listen to my music on my works Ubuntu desktop, I'm a bit dubious of trying to build from source plugins and apps that aren't work related. However, seeing as there does seem to be several requests for it and there is active development of it, I'm hoping that we get a stable release in the not too distant future.

I seem to be enjoying quite a retrospective of the 80s at the moment, alongside Belinda I've also got some Rush, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, Visage, Kraftwerk, Ultravox among others, having bought several CD versions of albums that I originally bought on vinyl. I used to be a big Belinda Carlisle fan, and can even been seen on her Runaway Live video (recorded at the NEC Arena in 1989) if you look quick :) Alas I never got to see the Go-Gos live, when they toured the UK in 1979 and 1980, as it was them I was originally a fan of. In fact I did beg to be allowed to go and see one of the Two-Tone dates in Manchester with The Go-Gos, The Selecter and Madness, but my mum thought I was too young at the time (I was still 14 at the time). I also bought Belinda's most recent album, Voila, recently, which was a little .. um .. different. Now that she lives in France, she has become rather enamoured by French pop songs, and has recorded an album of them. It's not a bad album, but compared to those late 80s albums, it doesn't have that instant appeal. Then again maybe it'll grow on me.

During the few summer months during the late 80s, I spent a lot of time travelling up and down the motorways of Britain, both working on tours and just going along for the ride. Heaven on Earth was one of the great driving tapes to help the miles fade away. I even remember having summer months back then too! Although more than that I remember some great gigs. I even recall a mad drive from a Belinda gig at the NEC in Birmingham, down to Clacton-on-Sea, via Hitchin to pick a friend up, for a weekend party, and arrived there while the party was still in full swing!

I've already got the kids hooked on Blondie, so I can see our summer holiday drives being quite an entertaining sing-a-long in the back of the car. Ethne is already well versed with Parallel Lines. Roll on summer :)

File Under: music
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That's Entertainment

Posted on 13th March 2008

Last weekend The Coopers played at the last (for now) Scooter Do event. The night was a great finish to what has been a great couple of years. With Kev now back playing drums again, with The Coopers, his weekends are taken up more and more by either work or gigs, and there doesn't seem to be much time for The Scooter Do. Kev has said it probably won't be the last ever Scooter Do, but it will be the last one for quite some time. Perhaps once a year or on a special occasion when nothing else is happening.

I knew a few faces from previous events and The Ship Ashore days, but it was also good to see so many people I didn't know there. Congrats to Kev for making this such a success over the last few years.

The Coopers played a great set, featuring a variety of Mod associated songs from the 60s up to present day, including Time For Action, All Or Nothing and ending with a great version of I Predict A Riot. However, the part of the set that I quite enjoyed was with just Rob and Jeff, with Rob on vocals and acoustic guitar and Jeff on bass, playing That's Entertainment.

After a chat with Kev a while back they've managed to aquire some other coloured lights, although they still have a preference for red, which means it can be very difficult for a photographer. Still I think I did rather well and managed to capture them suitably well on stage. Next time, I've suggested they use a peach or amber instead of the red, as that will give them a much better warmth of colour both live and on film. It would be good to see them on a bigger stage too, as the band didn't have a lot of space to move at the weekend.

We'll have to keep an eye for forthcoming local gigs ... or just get Kev to text us :)

 

File Under: coopers / gigs / music / photography
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Are 'Friends' Electric?

Posted on 11th March 2008

Opening with Replicas

Opening with Replicas

JJ and I went to see Gary Numan last night at The Wulfren Hall in Wolverhampton. After a succesful tour in 2006 playing the Telekon album, which alas I missed, this time around it was the turn of Replicas. Playing the complete album, with b-sides and even a couple of the out-takes it was almost like being there back in 1979. He'd even recreated the same stage set, with the bands of lights behind the keyboard players. Replicas, like most of my generation, was the first album I heard by Gary Numan, albeit as Tubeway Army, and seeing him on Top Of The Pops performing Down In The Park and later Are 'Friends' Electric?, was captivating for an impressionable 14 year-old. It really does seem odd to think I've been a fan for nearly 30 years.

Last week Gary celebrated his 50th birthday at the gig in Manchester, apparently announcing that he was born at 10.30pm, so on the stroke of the half hour, his wife brought out a cake and the audience wished him happy birthday. It must have been quite a strange moment to be on stage, celebrating your 50th birthday, while playing songs that are over 30 years old and still as cherished as they were all those years ago.

The gig last night began with support act, Daggers, who never really impressed me. They sounded too much like so many other bands, and in places their intros even made me think they were about to play a cover by OMD, Ultravox or even Gary Numan. They played well, but they definitely need to strive to carve their own identity instead of chasing the tails of their inspirations.

The audience tape for the night featured Nine Inch Nails and just before the band took to the stage we got to hear Trent's version of Metal. Some of the crowd joined in, and the cries for "Nu-man" died down for a few minutes. The signal came from a stage hand and the lights went out. The bands of lights and backing lights fading up to bright red as the band sauntered on stage. Launching into Replicas, the band showed a very different style to the songs that can be heard on the record. The live sound was much more guitar orientated, understandably seeing as Gary was also playing guitar for many of the songs. It created a very stark sound rather than the big synth sounds that are heard on the album.

Unfortunately, I can't remember the order of songs, but they did play every track off Replicas, the b-sides We Are So Fragile and Do You Need The Service?, together with the later released out-takes The Crazies and We Have A Technical. Ending the main set with Are Friends Electric?, ended the Replicas era songs. returning for the encores the band actually seemed to step up a gear, both Cars and Everyday I Die sounded a lot more like the band were enjoying themselves. The closing song of the night was from the album Pure, A Prayer For The Unborn. Over the last three albums (Exile, Pure and Jagged) I think numan has recorded some of his best stuff. Listening to the band playing A Prayer For The Unborn, it was noticeable that there was a dramatic difference between it and all the other songs of the night. With A Prayer For The Unborn the sound seemed to invade every corner of the room and get inside you, drawing you deeper into the music. This was JJ's first Numan gig, and I wasn't too surprised to discovered that the last song was the one that caught his attention.

There's talk of the next tour featuring The Pleasure Principal. As much as I like the album, I do think I would prefer to hear him playing some new material instead. Last night was a trip down memory lane, and meant I got to hear several songs that I've never heard him play before, and while that's great for a couple of tours, doing a third would just be a bit too much. Still I'll probably go, as I've never yet come out of a Numan gig and felt like I didn't have a great night.

I used my camera phone again, and while some of the shots are a good memory of the gig, I am getting far too frustrated by the ability of the camera for these kinds of pictures. Looking at other pictures on the web, and the fact that several people had camera phones and seemed to be taking far better photos than I was, I'm rather disappointed with the N95. Despite being a 5MP camera, even in daylight unless you are closeup to the subject that pictures just aren't that good. At JJ's suggestion I tried playing with all the settings to see whether it was an improvement. In most cases it was worse. However, I have picked a selection to share here. I also took some videos, but even though we weren't right in front of the speakers the inbuilt microphone just isn't up to the job of recording gigs. I think I'll be doing a little more research later in the year when I get the chance to upgrade my phone again.

File Under: gigs / music / numan / photography / wolverhampton
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Don't Bring Me Down

Posted on 19th February 2008

Over the weekend I got spammed. I don't get that much spam into my inbox usually, as most gets caught by my own very aggressive detection rules, with SpamAssassin generally picking up everything else for me. However, this spammer seems to have got through because their spam was music related. Mr. Robert J. Johnson and Ms. Mary M. Dharma (Assistant to Mr. R. Johnson) under the guise of "www.eloformermembers.com", a website that seems only to exist to track real email addresses, appear to be working for a new band called The Orchestra, made up of former band members from ELO (Electric Light Orchestra) and ELO Part II. Now although I did used to like ELO, I have no real desire to see a half hearted attempt to see what almost amounts to a covers band, and especially when they employ a spammer to get me to listen to them or see them on tour.

However, what got me most about the spam, and the band's use of them, was that I got sent the request 3 times (or should I say 3 got through ... there maybe more), all different messages, and all 3 were requesting me to hit a link to obtain the tour dates for the forthcoming UK tour. But the best bit is the mails all started with "Dear Classic Rock Fan, Can I have your permission to send you info on the upcoming [UK tour]". Maybe the band don't see the stupidity of that statement, or are so ignorant of the actions of spammer that they don't care that their potential fans could become victims to a stream of rubbish in their inboxes. If you're going to advertise your tour dates doesn't it make sense to tell people about them in the mail, rather than request permission to send them? I might (note I said might) have had a bit of respect for them if they had done that and maybe had a link along the lines of "if you would like to receive further mails...", but as it is they have now been added to my blacklist.

Admittedly I wouldn't have wanted to see the band anyway, but possibly this might serve as a warning to other bands thinking about using spammers to get their name about. Don't. There is never a good reason to use a spammer. Ever. In this day and age there are plenty of ways to get your presence known, most venues have weekly or monthly updates on gigs, ents24 does the same, and there are many internet news sites these days (including the tradional hard copy magazines such as NME, Kerrang and Rolling Stone) that cater for a variety of musical tastes. It's alot easier to get your band's name known these days, and resorting to spammers just screams of desperation. If things are really that bad, maybe you really should just call it a day.

I've purposefully avoided adding any active links in this post, as don't want to promote the band or the spammers, but anyone getting a mail like this and being a bit dubious does a search, hopefully they'll find this post and avoid any further involvement with the band. Either that or bands read this and think of better ways to promote themselves.

File Under: music / spam
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Making Memories

Posted on 11th February 2008

The CN Tower

The CN Tower

In June 2005 I was in Toronto for the 2005 YAPC::NA Perl Conference. Aside from being my first YAPC::NA conference, it was also a chance to discover first hand some of the places that are referenced on albums and in songs for Rush, one of my favourite bands. I first discovered the band in the late 70s, and finally got to see them on the Signals tour in the UK. I've seen them a few times since, including being in the audience for A Show Of Hands, but I've always wanted to visit the city were they made their home.

I also got to go up the CN tower, the tallest tower in the world at the current time.

Moving Pictures

Moving Pictures

I first uploaded these photos onto a BlueYonder photo album site, which has long since been shutdown, although VirginMedia seen to have resurrected it, but none of the photos or accounts are there from the previous incarnation. It's been on my TODO list for some time to reload the photos to my personal site, and finally last week I found them. Now I have to find all those links I made previously and update them.

The trip itself marked my first speaking engagement in North America. I have been fortunate enough to continue this since. Toronto itself is a great city, and although it's a bit of a trek, Niagara Falls aren't too far away. However, it was the city's association with Rush that fascinated me the most. Although I got to see a lot of sights, I didn't quite see as much as I would have liked. There were several bars and restaurants, and official offices that I would have liked to have seen, but most of all I would have loved to have seen a concert at Massey Hall and The Orbit Room. Seeing as MessageLabs now have a base there, it isn't beyond the realms of possibility that I could be visiting the city again at some point. I'll also have to time it to have a few beers with the Toronto Perl Mongers too, who did such a wonderful job of organising the Perl Conference.

Photos uploaded to the following galleries:

File Under: canada / music / rush / toronto / yapc
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Standing (still)

Posted on 9th January 2008

VNV Nation at Barfly, Birmingham

VNV Nation at Barfly, Birmingham

Just before Christmas, JJ and I went to see VNV Nation at The Barfly (downstairs at The Institute for those that remember that instead) in Birmingham. The gig itself was great and you can see my photos online. However, I was a little disappointed with the photos. A woman near the front looked like she had a camera similar to my Fujifilm FinePix 5100, and I wished I taken mine along now, but seeing as I had my Nokia N95 camera phone with me, at 5MP I thought it would be enough to get some decent pictures. Alas no. I haven't looked into the technical data too well, but I have a feeling that the problem stems from the sensor, as in dark settings the picture pixelates far too much and has difficulty focusing. It seems to work well in bright light, except for camera shake, but for gigs it just doesn't match the quality of my Fuji camera.

With so many people having camera phones, and there were plenty of people taking photos at VNV Nation, I wonder how much effort is being made to stop people walking into gigs with cameras. When I first started going to gigs, walking in with cameras and tape recorders wasn't a problem. The during the late 80s and 90s most larger venues insisted on searching you and confiscating any recording equipment. It meant bootleggers got very good a walking in with tape recorders very cleverly concealed, although that wasn't too difficult with some of the profession recorders as they were quite small.

I haven't done any recording of gigs for a long time, and although I still have my recorder and mic, it is currently awaiting hibernation in the attic. I would have loved to have recorded VNV Nation, and in retrospect I wished I'd recorded KMFDM at Dudley JB's back in October 2005 (my first KMFDM gig). I don't go to that many gigs these days, but one aspect of not having the recording equipment strapped to me is that I can jump around, shout and sing without worry that I'm ruining the recording.

I'm well out of the tape trading scene these days, so if there are any recordings of the tour, whether or not Birmingham is among them, I don't hold out much hope of finding a copy.

The band looked like they really enjoyed the gig, and for their first time playing Brum it went down very well, so fingers crossed they'll return next time around. There has always been a big goth scene in Brum, so hopefully the likes Apoptygma Beserk and Front 242 can be tempted this way. And while we're at it, a visit from Fields Of The Nephilim and/or Last Rights wouldn't go unappreciated. Although most of all I'm hoping to finally get to see Ministry on their final tour. Oh and KMFDM can come back too :)

File Under: gigs / music / photography / vnvnation
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Twenty Years On

Posted on 3rd January 2008

Ark Appreciation Pages

Ark Appreciation Pages

Sometimes it's easy to think we live in a small world.

Over Christmas I played a few games of Hunters And Gatherers with DanDan. It's a game he really likes and the rest of my games are little too advanced for him at the moment. As a consequence I don't get to play Settlers Of Catan, El Garnde, Rail Baron or Elfenland very much these days. Every now and then I think about going along to a local games club, but never seem to get around to it. On New Year's Day I decided to lookup the Halesowen Boardgamers website again, except it seems I found the old website. I've thought about going along a few times over the last 5 years or so, but with their meetings clashing with Perl or Linux meetings, it's not happened.

As the website I found (the old one as it turned out) hadn't been updated in a while, I felt prompted to check whether the group is still going and sent an email. It seems they do still meet, every Wednesday at the same venue. Then I got a second email from Dave, who helps run the club. He'd had a quick look at my website and was surprised to discover that I had been involved with the band Ark. It turns out he was the original drummer with Damascus, the band that laid the foundations for Ark, and I even had him listed on the website! He tells me he has lots of stories, photos and even some tapes of the early days, so fingers crossed some of them may materialise on the website at some point. If nothing else he says I've definitely got to come along to a club meet :)

Even though Ark ended over 12 years ago, there is still a lot of affection and interest for them. Band members still occasionally drop me a line to let me know what they're doing or help to fill in some of the gaps on the website. Fans often ask if I have various releases available. Every now and then I'll meet someone who has seen them live, usually at Edwards No.8 and will reminisce how much they enjoyed the gig. With Gel still playing locally with Bleeding Hearts and John Jowitt still playing with IQ, there is still plenty to keep the interest going. As such, this year more than ever, I plan to upgrade the Ark site. I have been doing bits in the background for most of last year, but I have so many photos and tapes I really should get a move on and make them available. Who knows may be it'll mean I get to meet a few more band members and fans.

Another music/techie crossover moment happen a few months ago when I was arranging some dates with Leicester LUG to go over as part of the 2008 Birmingham.pm World Tour. Gary who organises the meetings also happened to look at my website and discovered that I was involved with Prolapse. It turns out he knows Turk, and used to work with a few of the guys, and sees them occasionally around Leicester too. It's quite possible we've even met a few times at the gigs. I'll be doing a couple of talks for the LUG this year, so it'll be fun catching up with Gary to see what other stories he has to tell of the band :)

In these instances it isn't really a small world, partly as Haleowen and Leicester aren't that far away, and also that both Ark and Prolapse are fairly recent memories, but it is nice to cross paths with people who remember the gigs and have interesting tales to tell. Plus they were both great bands and are worth remembering. I'm looking forward to meeting up with both Dave and Gary, and hopefully it'll prompt me to sort out the photos and tapes I have of both bands :)

File Under: ark / games / gigs / music / prolapse / roadie
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Kings of Evermore

Posted on 17th October 2007

Bleeding Hearts @ The Boarshead Taphouse, Kidderminster

Bleeding Hearts @ The Boarshead Taphouse, Kidderminster

A couple of weekends ago, I went along to The Boarshead Taphouse in Kidderminster to witness the live recording of the new Bleeding Hearts live album. After playing for around 2 hours, and considering it was free entry, I would call that value for money. I told Nicole's brother that I'd got him in on the guest list, which he thought was great until he saw the poster advertising free entry :) The boys played a great selection of old, new and unreleased songs and ripped up a storm. The live album is only likely to feature around 10 songs from the 20+ set, so hopefully they'll be able to include a few classics in there.

As previously, I took my camera along. The first 30 minutes of the set I tried to record on video. Unfortunately several people kept wandering in front of the camera, so although none of the tracks are suitable for professional airing, Nick was thinking of adding one or two to Bleeding Hearts's own website. I now have a new 5"+ tripod, so hopefully I can get a better viewpoint for recording video in the future. I ended up taking over 1,000 photos, which worked out at roughly 16 shots a minute, and whittled it down to 175 for my selection. I've given the boys over 300 to choose from for their own purposes and have already asked whether they can use them on the inner sleeve of the album, which will be nice.

However, the venue wasn't the best for lighting, so I had some problems with some of the shots. I haven't got a top of the range camera, so lighting is important. Despite trying several settings to get the best out of the camera, the shutter speed still isn't fast enough for my liking. There were some great shots I would have liked to have got of Gel and Nick, but the light from the PAR cans was just too weak to capture them mid-movement. The Roadhouse photos came out much better simply because of the professional lighting rig the venue has, so I hope this set doesn't prove too disappointing for them.

A while ago I considered buying a small lighting rig, so that when I take photos of Nicole or her band, Slim Pickins, I can focus the lights and use the colour gels, just as I want them. Then I can bring them along to gigs for friends like Bleeding Hearts, and give them a much better stage lighting, and thus take much better photos. Unfortunately these sort of small rigs don't usually turn up on eBay, so I'll have to put the feelers out to my music industry contacts to see if anyone is selling off some old equipment. They'd be great for house parties for the kids in the summer too. DanDan and Ethne can pretend they're doing a real gig :)

For my selection of photos from the Bleeding Hearts gigs, see the links below:

File Under: bleedinghearts / gigs / music / photography / roadie
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Achilles Last Stand

Posted on 13th September 2007

So Led Zeppelin are reforming for a special tribute concert for Ahmet Ertegün. Following my rant last week about the ticket prices, I was a little disappointed to see all the tickets would be £125, but seeing as this is a one-off gig and all proceeds are going to support charities in Ahment's name, it is a little different.

I would love to go, but seeing as the gig is on Nicole's birthday (26th November 2007) and ticket prices is really a little more expensive than I would like, I probably won't. However, I am rather pleased to see an event like this being handle pretty well when it comes to tickets. Firstly they are being distributed by public ballot, which is likely to mean the real fans actually get the tickets. Harvey Goldsmith has also warned that anyone found selling their tickets on eBay will have them cancelled. It seems the promoters have thought about this with a little more care than some other concerts, where the tickets have sold out in seconds and largely to touts in the know, large corporations and those lucky enough to get through on the phones.

I would love to see the band, as I never got to see them back in the 70s. I only started going to gigs 8 months after John's death. Oddly enough the only member of the band I have ever met is John Bonham! But that's another story. A friend who was a few years older than me, got to see them at Knebworth in 1979 and recalled an amazing gig. One thing that did cross my mind about the forthcoming show is that they are being supported by several other acts. This is likely to mean you're only going to get about 60-90 minutes worth of Zep. For many who have never seen them this will be cherished, but back in their hey days, it wasn't uncommon for them to do nearly 3 hour sets.

For those of us that can't get to see the event, I'm really hoping it gets filmed and released in its entirety. If they ever do decide to tour though, I really hope that I can get to see them, as even all these years later, I'm pretty sure they are going to put on an amazing performance.

File Under: gigs / ledzeppelin / london / music
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The Teller

Posted on 5th September 2007

A few months ago I was having a bit of a clear out. It meant sorting through some old boxes in the loft and getting rid of old paperwork and bits I'd accumulated over the years. In one of the boxes I found a batch of floppy discs I'd previously been looking for. Most contained nothing too interesting, but a few I'd save various music related things on. The original artwork for the Prolapse official bootleg tapes, various Ark lyrics and perhaps most importantly my own lyrics.

During the 80s and 90s I wrote quite a number of songs. I kind of stopped towards the end of the 90s as I got more and more into programming. Thankfully I thought it a good idea to save several of the ones I'd written onto computer disk at some point, so now I've found them I'm going to start putting them online. I have many more that I never recorded or never finished, so still have plenty of bits of paper with lyrics and maybe one day I'll get around to finishing them. Or maybe DanDan or Ethne will pick up where I left off.

Some of my songs have since been published and two in particular have featured on a Slim Pickins album. Nicole took two of my lyrics and added music to both and altered some of the lines to suit her, then the band recorded both songs, Nothing I Can Do (my original) and My Love Lies Unrequited (original title Love, Unrequited), for their album Scenes from a Crowded Bar. Nicole has been mulling over other lyrics of mine, so we'll see whether they get taken any further.

In the meantime, enjoy some of my musings from those two decades.

File Under: lyrics / music
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Living For The Weekend

Posted on 4th September 2007

On Saturday Nicole and I went to see Hard-Fi at The Irish Centre in Digbeth, Birmingham. Except it's now "The Irish Club" and thus confusing everybody, especially Brummies it would seem on some of the forums. It's been a while since I've been to the venue, and it was certainly one I always enjoyed attending. In fact I've seen some fantastic gigs by Melissa Etheridge, IQ, Indigo Girls and Ghost Dance among many others over the years, and Hard-Fi have only added to the list.

The gig was a high octane blast from start to finish. Opening with the new single, Surburban Nights, they gave us a tour of both albums before ending with Living For The Weekend some 90 minutes later. They demand a lot of audience participation throughout the gig and got it every time. In fact I was surprised to see such enthusiasm for even the newer songs that were being officially released until Monday. They are the kind of band that are hard to resist in my opinion. They have some great songs that you can't help but bounce to.

One thing that did surprise me was the rough age of the audience. I had expected most to be around the early to mid 20s, but I would have said the majority were around 30. The band themselves are all around the 30 mark, so perhaps it shouldn't be surprising, but I had expected there to much more of a younger following. It was a very mixed audience though, both in terms of age and sex, which made for a much less intensive and aggressive atmosphere than I've seen at indie/pop gigs before. Maybe the audience are just growing up to realise you can have fun and jump around without the need for "moshing".

If you can't get to see Hard-Fi on this short tour, I suspect they'll be back for more later in the year, but in the meantime check out their new album, Once Upon A Time In The West, and their first, Stars Of CCTV, if you haven't already heard it.

Speaking of the new album, apparently the album cover has caused some controversy due to it's minimal artwork. Personally I think the album cover, along with the single cover and the website are excellent. Shows they have a great sense of humour.

File Under: gigs / hardfi / music
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Message In A Bottle

Posted on 4th September 2007

Recently someone posted to the Birmingham Perl Mongers mailing list trying to sell their tickets for The Police at the NIA. When I originally heard that The Police were getting back together I was delighted, as I never got around to seeing them in the early 80s. Then when they announced the tour I was eager to get tickets. Unsurprisingly everywhere sold out within minutes. Unless you were one of the privileged few, and I mean privilege in terms of your affluence, then you stood no chance.

What is wrong with ticket prices these days? The Police tickets were over £50 for the cheap seats and over £150 for good seats. The guy who posted on the list had been charged £144 for 2 tickets and these were in the upper tiers, not even on the floor! Seeing as fans bought them, there is obviously a demand, but it's one of the reasons why people are buying less music these days. Greedy promoters, record companies and many bands themselves are taking as much from their fans as they can get, at the expense of other smaller bands, who can barely get anyone to see them for £5.

The Police are not the only ones, every major band that has toured the UK playing the 10,000 seater venues in the last few years has started to charge exorbitant fees to see them. The cheapest ticket for the NEC Arena I've seen in the last few years has been over £30. Even Crowded House, who are playing later in the year are the same. When they last played a full UK tour, I saw several dates up and down the country, as the tickets were around £15. I won't be going to see them on this tour because it's just too much to pay. There are plenty of bands that I would love to see again, Peter Gabriel, Yes and others, but ticket prices are rarely priced to make me feel like I'll get value for money. I've seen several comments about the rip-off of ticket prices, but the rip-off doesn't end there.

The venues are also guilty of ripping off fans when they charge over £3 for a small bottle of Panda Cola, that can be bought in the corner store for about 40p and probably from the local cash'n'carry for about 5p a bottle. I can understand a slight markup, but when fans are being ripped off to the tune of several hundred percent for very basic food or drink, it's a joke. Especially when you are banned from taking food and drink into the venue.

Once upon a time I used to go to around 100-200 gigs a year, up and down the country. In my late teens and early twenties I wasn't on a big flash salary, in fact my first proper job was working in a warehouse. I could afford to go to the gigs as they were roughly the same price as an album at the time, about £10. Rather than buy an album, I'd buy a ticket to go and see a band. More often than not, I'd actually pay nearer £5 and see gigs in smaller venues such as Rock City in Nottingham, Princess Charlotte in Leicester, The Roadhouse in Manchester or The Marquee in London. Top name bands would tour those venues in preference to the big Arenas so they could actually see the fans.

I can understand why some bigger named bands would want to play the Arenas, as it means they get to play to more fans with fewer dates. Some bands don't actually like touring, so playing a UK tour of 7 dates is often preferred over one that might take 3-4 weeks. But why should that mean you now have to rip off fans and double, triple (or worse) your ticket prices. That £50 you're charging for a "cheap" seat, means that your fan is sitting so far back they need binoculars to see you, they rarely hear decent quality sound, they have to sit awkwardly on uncomfortable plastic seats and cannot get up and dance or jump about as they get told off by security staff and ejected from the venue if they refuse to sit down.

There are some bands who I greatly respect for taking the time to play venues where they can reach the fans. Nine Inch Nails could easily play Arenas in the UK, but they don't and only charge £22.50 a ticket, which considering their status, I feel is quite reasonable. They also give value for money, as in addition to their performances recently they were giving away USB memory sticks with a song from Year Zero on it at gigs. Prince has even started giving away albums at gigs. The Cure usually play the larger Arenas now, but the last few times I saw them at the NEC tickets were around £18. Considering they play for nearly 3 hours, that is most definitely value for money. I wonder how long The Police will be on stage for? If they play more than 90 minutes I would be very surprised. It's not been unheard of for major acts to play an hour (mostly solo artists from what I've heard) and head off to the hotel.

If you're going to charge stupid money for tickets, give people a reason to feel like you actually value their faith in you, give them a show that is out of this world, give them something to remember for years to come. I would love to see The Police, but I won't be seeing them on this tour. It's been reported that they are recording another album, so I suspect they may tour again. I hope that the next tour has more reasonable ticket prices and that the prices for this tour are only because they knew they could get away with it for reforming. I seemed to recall that The Eagles dropped their prices on tours after reforming, so it's a possibility.

In the meantime I'm looking forward to seeing Henry Rollins in January and Jello Biafra next month. Both are doing spoken word tours and both are charging less than £20 to see them :)

File Under: commerce / gigs / music / rant
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New Dawn Fades

Posted on 14th August 2007

The Factory Club with Peter Saville, Tony Wilson & Alan Erasmus (Photo copyright Kevin Cummins)

The Factory Club with Peter Saville, Tony Wilson & Alan Erasmus (Photo copyright Kevin Cummins)

In recent years there have been several people that have passed away, who helped to shape my life. John Peel, Tommy Vance and Alan Freeman all helped to promote different forms of music and introduce me to many styles and genres that perhaps otherwise would never have discovered for myself. They all gave young bands a chance and help to change a generation. My generation. One other man also did that, perhaps more than I realised at the time. Tony Wilson.

Tony Wilson first came to my attention back in around 1975/76 when he used to present Granada Reports. A regional news programme for the North West of England (Lancashire, Manchester and Cheshire), that was partly an alternative to the mediocre Nationwide that BBC put out. Tony along with Bob Greaves presented local news, but also occasionally featured music from the North West too. Tony's passion for promoting music from Manchester enabled him to get So It Goes on the air. Although it wasn't only about Manchester acts, it did help to create the image of Manchester being a vibrant music scene.

The Haienda FAC51 membership card

The Haienda FAC51 membership card

In 1979 Factory Records released their first piece of vinyl, A Factory Sample EP featuring among others Joy Division. On FAC 6 they introduced me to Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, who long before they were a pop band, were a UK alternative to Kraftwerk. They helped to bring several Manchester bands to national notoriety. Although with Happy Mondays that wasn't necessarily a good thing. Tony also created the In The City music festival, which was great way to celebrate music across the city. Bars and cafes would become venues and put on all sorts of music throughout the week. When The Haçienda (FAC 51) was opened it was like a breath of fresh air. For many years one of my most prised possessions was an original The Haçienda membership card, until it got stolen.

I moved from the North West in 1982, but regularly made return trips for various gigs. I met Tony once, along with Rob Gretton, all of New Order and several other Manchester musicians over the years, and always found it an inspirational experience being around the Manchester scene. I still see Manchester as a kind of spiritual home and it holds a lot of memories. That's partly thanks to Tony Wilson, for giving the city pride in itself and its music. Thanks Tony.

R.I.P. Anthony Howard Wilson (20 February 1950 - 10 August 2007)

File Under: manchester / music / people / roadie / tv
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Controversy

Posted on 15th July 2007

I bought the Mail on Sunday today, in order to get the latest Prince album, Planet Earth.

Reading the article in the paper, Kim Bayley, director general of Entertainment Retailers Association, is quoted as saying...

'It devalues the music and the losers will be new artists who are trying to come through . . . Consumers only have so much listening time in the week and if they receive the new album from Prince then they don't need to buy new music and will spend their money on something else.'

Is it just me, or can anyone else spot the absurdity and contradiction of that statement? So if Prince gives away an album, then the fans are getting an album they would have bought at full price for just £1.40 (the price of the newspaper), thus they have all the money left over to buy another album, perhaps by a new artist. It's also possible that some, perhaps those who buy the newspaper regularly, will listen to the album and become Prince fans, thus going out and buying more music. The only real losers are the music moguls who have suddenly lost out on significant profits from the sales of this one album.

Prince doesn't need to worry about the loss of royalities as he still makes plenty from his other albums, and he still gets the royalities when the songs are played on TV or radio anyway. Prince is in a priviledged position as he has amassed his wealth and invested it wisely. His investment in other artists, such as Wendy & Lisa, Vanity 6, Sheila E, The Times among others has helped new artists to carve their own careers. While some may not feel the investment worthwhile, it is still considerably more than any major record company has done in over 20 years.

In the last 20 years the music industry has turned into a industry run by accountants and money makers. The people who were once passionate about good music have been sidelined or pushed out. These days it's exceptionally hard for a new artist to actually make a name for themselves. Hence why many have resorted to selling or giving their music away on the internet. The live music scene for unsigned bands these days is a very pale comparision to the one that existed during the 60s, 70s and 80s. Once upon a time a new artist would be able to work the pubs and club making a name for themselves. A&R men would often scour the same venues looking for potential new talent. If they found someone they thought would be worth investing in, they would often get some time in a recording studio to make a demo, which usually would expand into their first album. Record companies would invest in 4 or 5 album deals with the expectation that the promotion of the artist would build with each album, until they "made it". It wasn't unusual for artists to make 3 or 4 albums before they became a financial success.

As an aside, it might not be so well know now, but Genesis only "made it" in the UK after their 4th album. The record company, Charisma, funded the tours and the records because they believed in the band. However, they were more popular in Italy than they were in the UK. It wasn't until Foxtrot (their 3rd for Chrisma) started to climb the album charts in the rest of Europe, that their popularity started to increase in the UK. They had been growing their fan base by constant touring and word of mouth created a buzz about the band. Chrisma's belief paid off, and the band went on to bigger and better things as did Peter Gabriel, who also stayed with Charisma. In fact technically both acts are still with the label as Virgin bought it ;) In this day and age I don't believe any one of the big four would ever make a similar kind of investment.

When I started as a roadie in the early 80s the only bands I worked with were unsigned. The chance to play pubs and clubs was fantastic and we played most of them. Personally I had a great time, but it was a hard slog as I would be away from home for weeks on end. Unfortunately the network of venues has diminished and the promotion of unsigned bands in the NME and Kerrang! is nothing like what it used to be. The rise in cover bands is heart renching. It seems the fact that people are more willing to listen to something they know, even if it's not done anywhere near as good as the originals, than to take a chance with a new artist. But that's another rant ;)

Getting back to the Prince issue, when record company executives start spouting "It devalues the music and the losers will be new artists", then you know that the truth is more likely to be that the winners are the new artists and the losers are the record company execs themselves. I don't pay alot for my CDs anymore, as there are various sources, including retailers, which enable me to pay less than £10 for a brand new CD. Occasionally I will pay a bit more for limited editions, but a tenner for a regular CD is a reasonable price. I always feel that the price should be affordable for teenagers to buy with their pocket money. It's what I did, and when my pocket money always ran out, I found part time work to help pay for more.

To give Prince his due, this release is a very credible piece of marketing. He's gained many more column inches from this move than he would have got from releasing the album through the usual channels. He also shaken up the dinosaurs, who to be honest need a bit of a reality check.

As for the album itself, personally I don't think Prince has ever done a bad album, although I wasn't particularly enthused about the Batman album, but it was still a great album. Planet Earth isn't as stunning as perhaps Gold or 1999, but it is still a good album. The interesting thing I get from the album is how different each track is from another. Each track is very definitely Prince, but they all hint at the several styles he's used on various albums over the last 15 years or so. My first thought was that this is an album release similar to The Vault, which was a collection of songs that never got on an album, but I think in this case the album is simply a collection of random ideas and experiments that he has been working on. I like the album, especially the "single" Guitar, but I would have to confess it wouldn't have been an album I would normally have rushed out to buy on the day of release, but would probably have shopped around for a few months down the line.

I don't expect other artists to ever follow suit, and if they did I wouldn't expect it to have the same impact. I've a great respect for Prince, particularly during the Symbol years. He stood up to the record companies because he believes that the artists should have control over their own music. At the time he was much derided, but those of us who have worked in the music industry can understand the frustration he felt. This instance is another example of Prince ensuring the record company understands he's calling the shots. It's a shame that other artists don't have that control, but at least when they get to be in a position like Prince, they know they can stand up for themselves.

I have always believed that the artists should have control over their output. Unfortunately record companies get involved and decide that they know better. Some artists however, know their audience far better than that or are willing to take risks. Prince is one such artist who does the latter and understands the former. If only there were more like him.

Next year will be the 30th anniversary of Prince's first album being released. Planet Earth is his 38th album of studio recordings. It kind of puts to shame some of those bands that take 5 years or more to put together sub-standard albums and endless repackaging of tour videos to take more and more money from their fans. And if a certain San Franciscan metal band with a Danish drummer comes to mind, then we're on the same wavelength. Judging from Prince's prolific output he should be releasing his 40th album in time for the 30th anniversary celebrations. I'm looking forward to it. I just wish I was able to go and see one of the dates on the Earth Tour. The ticket price of £31.21 is certainly value for money when you consider he gives away albums to everyone who attends the gig.

File Under: music / prince / rant / roadie
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My Generation

Posted on 17th June 2007

The Coopers

The Coopers

Nicole and I went to see The Coopers last weekend, as our friend Kev is the drummer. The gig was an open rehearsal, but could really be considered as their first gig. They invited friends and family and as such quite a number of regulars from The Scooter Do turn up. They play a variety of Mod songs dating from the late sizties to the early eighties, with The Who's My Generation and I Can't Explain, and The Small Faces' All Or Nothing, getting a great response from the audience.

I think the singer did get his eras mixed up as when he said they were going to do something from the 80s, then played Teenage Kicks ... from 1978. However, they did redeem themselves with a great version of Time For Action. I haven't heard that in years. I used to prefer The Lambrettas myself, but I thought My World by Secret Affair was better than Time For Action, but apparently that is one of Kev's favourite songs.

File Under: gigs / mod / music / photography
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Can't Be Sure

Posted on 28th May 2007

"England my country the home of the free,
Such miserable weather!"

I was hoping to take Ethne to her first music festival yesterday, The Abbey Park Festival in Leicester, but torrential rain put a stop to that. In fact this month could quite easily have been mistaken for March, as we seem to have had much more rain this month than during any other during the year so far.

I used to attend The Abbey Park Festival regularly when I lived in Hinckley, and it was always a great day out. You'd get to see some great bands, usually I would bump into friends and best of all it was free. In later years they charged a nominal fee of a few pound just to help with the costs, but I noted this year it was again free, but visitors were invited to make a donation. Considering that over the two days the festival is on you can get to see about 20 or more different acts, it's a bargain. Many are unknown local acts, but considering that Leicester has had its fair share of unknown acts playing on the bill, who have gone on to make a name for themselves, it's a good opportunity to see some of the stars of the future.

Hopefully the weather holds out a little better next year, and we can have a family day out. Mind you now I'm just going to have to look to see what other family orientated music festivals are happening around the midlands and see whether are worth attending. Our friends Bleeding Hearts are playing a few, so we'll have see if we can make one of those :)

File Under: music / rain / weather
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Hungarian Suicide Song

Posted on 25th April 2007

The other night Nicole and I were watching QI, the excellent BBC quiz show with Stephen Fry, Alan Davies and a selection of great standup comedians. Stephen asked the question 'What is the most depressing song?'. The answer was 'Gloomy Sunday'. It didn't register anything with me, until he mentioned that it was also refered to as "The Hungarian Suicide Song". At this point I got interested. One of the bands I used to work for, Prolapse, had an instrumental track called 'Hungarian Suicide Song' on their first album, Pointless Walks To Dismal Places. It started me off on a trail to see what the guys were up to these days.

Along the way I discovered an old site about the band. The page that amused me was this one, that lists ten official bootlegs released by the band through the fan club. It amused me as I was the one that recorded and created them. I still have all the master tapes in the loft from the original gigs. In fact there are some good ones I still have from the later tours too. I love live recordings, especially ones I've been to, so was rather enthusiatic to get the band releasing some of the great live gigs. They agreed and gave me pretty much free rein to come up with the titles and artwork. The titles were outtakes of some suggestions I had for song titles. Most Prolapse songs rarely feature the title in the song, and they were trying to think up some unusual titles to use. I can't remember if they used any of my suggestions, but I did come up with a list that filled 2 sheets of A4.

I had a great time working with Prolapse, although I only helped out on a few tours between 1995 and 1997. I was primarily hired as their driver for their European tours, but also ended up being Tim's drum technician and their lighting engineer whenever they did a gig big enough. They played some interesting gigs over the years, and I had a great time working with them all. It was a really shame when Tim told me they were planning to split. Although I could hear the influences, they were quite a unique band and I don't think I've heard anyone quite like them before or since.

I haven't spoken to the band for quite some time, so I was interested to see if individually they were still playing gigs. I knew Tim loved playing, so it was rather unsurprising to find him still playing drums with MJ Hibbett & The Invaders. I was delighted to discover that he has also married Emma, and even recruited her into the band. I'll have to try and keep an eye on their gigs, as it would be great to see them again. It seems I missed them playing The Jug Of Ale in Birmingham last year, so fingers crossed I can get to a local gig this year. I've just looked at the website again today and it looks like it's had a facelift in the last few days. Personally I think the old version looks better.

Of the other guys it looks like they've all got proper jobs and are pretty all following the careers they studied for at Leicester. Maybe one day, when they are revered as much as Joy Division they'll be persuaded to reform. It'll be a great day if they do ;)

File Under: music / prolapse / roadie
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Rock 'n' Roll Manifesto

Posted on 24th April 2007

Bleeding Hearts at The Roadhouse

Bleeding Hearts at The Roadhouse

On Saturday night (21st April 2007) Nicole's brother, Jon, and I went along to The Roadhouse in Cotteridge, South Birmingham to see Bleeding Hearts play a local gig. I'd never been to the venue before and was delighted to discover it. Almost next door, The Breedon Bar used to be an old haunt, and I played many a gig with Ark there. Gel, who was the bass player with Ark, is now the bass player for Bleeding Hearts, and incidentally the reason why Nicole and I got together. The venue reminded me of some of the better gigs Ark played in their time, so hopefully I'll have good reason to go along in the future.

Opening band were the German band Lack Of Limits, who have played with Bleeding Hearts several times, to the point where Bleeding Hearts help them to tour the UK and Lack Of Limits help Bleeding Hearts to tour Germany. The bands are well suited to each other, as although they play a similar style, Lack Of Limits lean more towards the folk side and Bleeding Hearts lean more towards punk. LOL have improved immensely since I last saw them, was very tempted to get a more recent album. Towards the end of the gig they got Gel on stage to help with percussion (tamborine) and tomfoolery (a Gel speciality).

After a short break, Bleeding Hearts took to the stage and played an absolute blinder from start to finish. A mix of old and new songs galore featured in the set, from Democracy, My Country, Sirens Song all the way to newer songs that don't even seem to have a title. I spoke to Nick after the gig and mentioned I liked the 'Ego' song, and he told me that he'd had people refused to buy their latest album because that song wasn't on it! They are much more than one great song, as they have plenty liberally scattered over all their albums. In fact at times, it gets hard to take their albums out of the CD player :)

After nearly an hour and a half, they left the stage, only to be called back for more. The calls for 'Caravan Song' and 'Glad 2B Alive' seemed to poll equal votes, so they ended up playing both. Two great songs to end a great set and a great night out.

The band are recording a live album next month, at Boarshead Tap, Worcester Street in Kidderminster on 12th May. During the last live album, Anarcoustica, Nicole can be heard to shout "We love you Gel!". We even had a placard with it on that DanDan carried around at the first Levellers' Beautiful Days festival. The band have now asked that Nicole repeat her performance, so she's thinking of other things she might be able to say. Whether it gets recorded or not remains to be seen. If you can catch Bleeding Hearts on the current or a future tour, do so, they are a delight to watch and listen to.

For those who might be interested, I culled a selection of the 1600+ photos I took on the night and you can see Lack of Limits and Bleeding Hearts in the appropriate photo pages.

File Under: ark / bleedinghearts / music
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Lights Out (Read My Lips)

Posted on 7th April 2007

A number of years ago (during the late 80s/early 90s), I followed a band called Katydids. The first night I ever saw them was at a small club in Coventry on the night England played Germany. As a consequence although they had a crowd, it wasn't as big as it might have been. However, it did mean I got to chat to the band and over the course of a few years I got to see them quite often. Alas as is the way of many great indie pop bands of that time, they broke up after a couple of great albums. Guitarist and songwriter, Adam Seymour, is now perhaps better known as the guitarist in The Pretenders.

During my time travelling around with the band, I got invited on guest lists and backstage, etc so it was only fair I help them out too. At one gig at The Marquee in London, Susie asked if I could do some filming. Seeing as it meant I got to hang out on stage, I jumped at the chance. Susie loved the art of film and had studied cinematography at one point, and had in her pocession a lovely 16mm cine camera. My Dad had one like it years ago. She wanted to capture short bursts of footage of the band playing live on stage, so it meant I got to stand on stage in interesting locations pointing the camera at each member of the band for about 20 seconds. The aim was to include some of it in a video.

Not sure why this crossed my mind the other day, but I wondered whether the film I shot ever got used? Although I've seen the videos to the early singles I'm not sure I ever got to see the later ones, as by that point I was touring with Ark a lot more and was rarely at home. It would be great to think some of it did get used.

After the band split up, I caught up with Adam and Susie a couple of times, but have long since lost touch. It's always great to see Adam on TV with The Pretenders and I'm sure Nicole must be sick of me saying, "I know Adam". The last time I saw Susie she was doing a solo acoustic tour and she gave me a tape she had produced as demo for a forthcoming album. As far as I know the album never got recorded, which is a shame as the demoes were really good.

Having looked at the Wikipedia entry to write this piece, I have now discovered that Katydids have a new website and that Susie Hug got to record her album and is still writing and recording :) This hopefully means she's also touring. I hope she still does some of the Katydids songs :) It's also lovely to read that Susie and Adam got married too, as last time I spoke to them they had just got engaged.

There were some great pop songs from that early 90s era of British indie pop, it was real shame that the music business were too interested in making instant millions.

File Under: music / roadie
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