Wednesday, November 25, 2009
With most of Gong already onstage, we waited with bated breath & not a little trepidation to see what Daevid Allen would be wearing on his head tonight... last time I saw him back in the eighties, he hopped around like a demented gibbon with a pair of underpants on his noggin, declaiming awful poetry while a bunch of matronly earth-mother types danced about with silk scarves. It was not a pretty sight.
Happily he was in full-on Pothead Pixie mode tonight, and along with the venerable Gilli Smyth (the Queen Mum of hippies at 76, Gawd Bless 'Er!) they delivered 2 hours of solid gold Gongery, including all the stuff I really hoped they'd play - great show, and an inspiration to young whippersnappers like myself (stop sniggering at the back) - if they can do it at their age, I reckon I've got a few years left in me.
Friday, November 13, 2009
Never mind, on with the Panto, and all the traditional elements are there; some thigh-slapping Principal Boys in the form of Girlschool, still rockin' 30 years after they first played here, and doing it very well (although a few of the younger members of the audience looked distinctly uncomfortable: "I'd never let my mum go out dressed like that..."), followed by The Damned, complete with Dave Vanian's pantomime villain & Captain Sensible's comedy genie. I never got to see them back in the day, and was very impressed - all the hits, plus a smattering from the Black Album, excellent.
Rather sweetly, as we leave the auditorium there's a smiley lady with a tray of ice-creams for sale...
Off to the bar, and a further design fault rapidly becomes apparent: in a reversal of the usual situation, no queue for the Ladies, but a massive one for the Gents - there's a grand total of 4 urinals in there. Genius.
Back in for Motorhead and the grizzled old Dame himself, and as ever they don't disappoint - pretty much exactly the same show as last year, but that's the whole point of Panto - the audience knows what to expect, and everyone's happy.
"Turn up!" yells one (presumably deaf) punter at one point.
"Turn up? I HAVE fuckin' turned up," replies Lemmy "I've come 10,000 miles to play for you, you cunt!"
Altogether now... "Oh no he hasn't!"
"Oh yes he has!"
Monday, November 02, 2009
In a misguided attempt to appear even more Rock 'n' Roll than the former Guns 'n' Roses bass player, our drummer Nick has, by sheer force of willpower, caused his appendix to explode, and is now confined to bed in the Royal United Hospital in Bath.
And this is only a couple of weeks after he nearly broke his back falling over his own dog... frankly, he shouldn't be allowed out without constant supervision; if anyone's a candidate for a 'bizarre gardening accident' it's our Nick!
Get better soon mate!
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Blackstone Cherry on the other hand were excellent - even if I failed to recognise the ZZ Top cover they did (that "glub... glub..." sound was my Rock Credentials sinking to the bottom of the ocean. I must have been doing something else during the eighties, I clearly missed a lot).
Rather like a young Lynyrd Skynyrd I thought, and if anyone was going to mistake their blonde guitarist Ben for a woman, it would clearly have to be a very foolish person with no Rock Credentials whatsoever. Probably quite a short person, who didn't have a very good view...
Friday, October 16, 2009
Well OK, we minded quite a lot actually, but last minute attempts to rearrange the gig failed (apparently Porcupine Tree had already sold out the Colston Hall, and were reluctant to change the date).
Needless to say, this time we played to a more-or-less empty pub. Perhaps everyone stayed at home to watch England march to glorious defeat against the Ukraine? Or perhaps everyone was in Bristol to see Porcupine Tree? Bastards...
Monday, October 05, 2009
Two for the price of one this weekend! Literally, 'cos the Pumproom in Trowbridge on Saturday was a benefit so we didn't get paid... a two-storey barn next to The Lamb pub, this venerable old building was the original home of the Trowbridge Village Pump festival, has been a folk club since the year dot and was recently done up & reopened as a venue. Unfortunately this last minute gig wasn't advertised, so apart from a couple of friends we told about it the night before (thanks for coming, Nick & Marilyn!), plus a representative from Shaftesbury Arts Centre who'd come up to see us (we normally attract bigger crowds, honest!), we played to an empty venue. The regulars in the Lamb stayed well away, possibly not even hearing us, as there was an ear-splittingly loud Karaoke going on in the pub. I say 'going on', but it was being so completely ignored that the bloke running it wandered in to listen to us after a while, swelling the audience by 25%...
Friday, October 02, 2009
Always a pleasure to come back to the Plough in Manston, where the beer is excellent, the atmosphere convivial, the sound always good, the barstaff & punters are welcoming and friendly and apparently the lovely landlady Elodie reads this blog.
We like this gig a lot, and it was just what the doctor ordered after last week. Nick pointed out an old gent to me at the end who'd sat under one of the PA speakers all night with a huge beatific grin on his face, and we both agreed there must be many worse ways to spend your retirement - I'm aiming to be the doddery white-haired old geezer in the corner of the local who looks like Gandalf, and gets drinks bought for him all night. Hell, I'm nearly there already...
*Had you worried for a moment, Elodie!
Friday, September 25, 2009
Well, if we'd known then what we know now, we'd probably have taken them up on it.
The Griffin's a nice little pub (little being the operative word) with it's own (micro)brewery attached (lovely beer, by the way), but is plagued by a neighbour prone to ringing Environmental Health if the milkman whistles too loudly in the morning. As a consequence there's a 82db soundlimit on proceedings,which pretty much sounds the death knell for a 5 piece amplified band. In fact death knells usually peak at around 90db, so even this wouldn't be allowed.
Very frustrating for all concerned, and I think it's safe to say we won't be back - sorry Frome!
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
The Prom was pretty quiet, even for a Wednesday - in fact I think we outnumbered the punters, but it was the night of a World Cup qualifier, which England apparently managed to win, thus prolonging the agony of footy fans up & down the country until they inevitably crash and burn just before the quarter finals.
The venue's new video screens were finally up and working, but according to Ruth, who could see one from her end of the stage, they all seemed to be showing a bunch of middle-aged blokes with beer-bellies playing guitars... clearly still some technical adjustments needed then.
An unusual Sunday lunchtime outing next, to the Bell in Walcot St - something of a legend on the Bath music scene, and one we haven't played since ancient Brew Band days (before I even joined in fact). I awoke in a damp tent in Wales that morning, and had to break camp (and several rules of the road) rather hastily to make it in time, but we made it there even before the pub opened - AND there was a parking space!
It was all going so well... then we discovered that someone (let's mention no names) had left her fiddle behind. Oh dear... a rapid van journey later though we were all set, and it was a terrific gig. I don't think I've ever seen such a varied audience either; folkies, old rockers, indy kids and even a dog on a string - not to mention a deadringer for Uncle Monty (as played by Richard Griffiths in 'Withnail and I'), who after our set proceeded to wow the crowd with his impressive apparatus. I'll say no more than that.
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
First impressions weren't great though - as Mick & I carried our guitars through the entrance gate, a festival steward strode up to us: "Ah, you must be the shiteheads!" he declared. Steady on, I thought - we've not even had a drink yet, how can you tell? It transpired however that the covers band on after us are called the Shy Teds (see what they did there?). I was still a bit miffed that he thought we were a covers band, though...
We approached the enormous bar (150 different beers! So little time!) and claimed our rider - a nice heavy keg of Old Unspecific ("What is it?" we asked. "Beer." he replied. "We'd guessed that... what sort of beer, exactly?" "Dunno.") and proceeded to get stuck in.
We had a great time for the next two hours - nice big stage, good sound, lots of lights, 5000 punters and free beer too - what's not to like? We still hadn't finished the keg though, and to my chagrin we had to leave it there... even Ruth had some, and she doesn't even like beer.
A splendid little festival, really well run and very friendly; I wish we could have stayed longer - at least long enough to finish that beer...
In other news, we finally finished mixing a 3 track demo, which can be downloaded for free from Last.fm here: http://tinyurl.com/nlc4o7
Thursday, June 18, 2009
It's a Wednesday night, and it's drizzling steadily as we pull up in Devizes at the Bear Hotel, next to the Corn Exchange (scene of some memorable gigs for us in the past, including a riotous support slot for John Otway, who nearly broke his neck attempting to play a doubleneck guitar on top of a stepladder). This gig is part of the Festival fringe, and is in the 16th century cellar bar - the entrance is a tiny black door with bars over the window, at the bottom of a vertiginous flight of steps. It looks like an oubliette that Cromwell might have thrown a few enemies of the State into, and really ought to have a hideously disfigured hunchback as doorman, but thankfully once inside it turns out to be a fantastic little subterranean jazz club, all wood & stonework, which were it not for the new smoking laws would be full of Beatniks in berets puffing away on french cigarettes.
Indeed, it doesn't take long to fill up completely - by the time we start our soundcheck the place is rammed, and we get going with a sense of trepidation - are these people expecting a jazz band..? Oh dear... happily though, they've all actually turned out to see us, and from the very first song we can tell it's going to be a good 'un. Weird sometimes how your first impressions of a gig get completely stood on their head - best reaction we've had this year I'd say, and we played all the better for it - thanks people, we needed that!
Monday, June 15, 2009
First of all, many congratulations to Mick & Paula on the birth of baby Bethany last week! The trauma of this life-changing event was such that Mick has been rendered incapable of playing guitar for the next few weeks. This is what happens if you let your partner squeeze your hand (or anything else) in a maternity ward; mine still throbs a bit when the weather turns cold.
So, off to the Pittball festival, a two-dayer in a field near Thorncombe, as a 4-piece: we arrive on Friday night to find the site shrouded in dense fog, a huge stage with lasers everywhere dimly visible in the fading light, and droves of Young People in their best leisurewear wigging out to ear-splitting drum & bass. A bunch of young lads in hoodies and very clean trainers doing the Pimp Roll around Bristol city centre is something I generally cross the street to avoid, but there's something rather endearing about the sight in a field...
Not so endearing by 2 a.m. though, when the deafening dubstep finally grinds to a halt and the merry revellers finally stumbled off to bed. I'm not actually sure it was dubstep - it might have been drum & bass still - to be honest I was past caring. Basically it seemed to consist of a machine making squelchy noises, another making squiggly bleeps, and a bloke with a volume fader who kept turning it down momentarily to exhort the crowd to "Make some f****** noise!!!" I dunno, the youth of today...
Oh, and what a joy it was to see their tousled little heads peeking blearily out of their tents the following afternoon as we started our set on the main stage! Like an army of hungover tortoises, baking in their canvas shells & croaking piteously... those that were awake seemed to like it though, and it was lovely to have a decent sized stage to play with for a change, even though we had to be careful not to trip over the hordes of people with video cameras that suddenly appeared - we'll have to track that down & stick it on Youtube.
All in all then a cracking weekend - well organised too, with acts on a smaller stage that got going as the main one finished, so there was always something going on. No covers bands, either, which made a refreshing change for a small festival - well done to the organisers, and hopefully it made a load of dosh for their chosen charities.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Thursday, May 07, 2009
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
Next up, the Wells May Fair on the Bank holiday Monday - a far better organised do, held on the Green in front of Wells Cathedral. Nice big stage & PA, and a very good sound engineer, who mutters as he gets us rigged up: "It's rained every time I've done this... God hates me..." Sure enough, it starts raining the instant we take to the stage, but our godless heathen music soon chases the drizzle away - proof, if more were needed, of the non-existence of God!
Yet more proof at the end of our set, as the MC announces innocently: "Next, ladies & gentlemen, it's pole-dancing on the Green!" After a huge initial surge of interest from the crowd (and indeed us), there followed a hasty retraction, in what will surely come to be known as The Great Pole-Dancing Disappointment of '09...
Friday, March 20, 2009
They love a General Strike in France, but here's a sight guaranteed to put the wind up the most militant of agitators - it's Monsieur Sarkozy's new secret weapon... the Juggling Riot Police! Capable of wielding 3 batons at once to devastating effect, these crack troops are ready to swing into action at a moments notice (provided they get at least 2 hours off for lunch, obviously), and it's rumoured they may even be deployed in London for the G20 Summit (the Wombles are reportedly quaking in their boots).
Solidarity is not an offence? It is now...
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Ahh, Spring is upon us! The daffodils are nodding in the verges, crocuses are peeping bashfully from the lawn, and tiny woodland creatures are scurrying about doing unspeakable things in the hedgerows… I think we ran over a fair few on our way to the George in Bradford a couple of Fridays back, where we proceeded to aurally assault the assembled throng, or as many of them as we could see either side of the place’s central pillar, anyway – there’s an archway either side, through which heads will poke every so often, like meerkats on sentry duty. Apparently the new landlord has plans to remove it to open out the view - hopefully he’ll get a structural engineer to look at it first, as I have visions of one good blow with a sledgehammer bringing the entire pub down like a house of cards…
Last Friday’s venue in Burnham on Sea was a very different kettle of fish – Burnham is rather like Weston Super Mare's little brother, and gets similarly chock full of holidaying Brummies in the summer, but off season it's pretty quiet, apart from the occasional explosion of violence - shortly after we arrived, someone took an involuntary dive through the plate glass window of the supermarket over the road - of course, this may just have been a somewhat misguided attempt at a ramraid, but we put it down to youthful high spirits...
The Old Pier Tavern sounds like a cosy seafront pub, but in fact turned out to be a vast great Victorian pile that’s been heavily modified for live music; nice big stage, lighting rig, dancefloor, decent PA, video screens, the works. It’s run by the very entertaining Jamei Roberts, ex-drummer for Mungo Jerry, and a splendid gig it was too – looking forward to coming back.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Resigned to it being 'one of those gigs,' we get cracking, and wonder of wonders, we go down a storm - best pub gig we've had in ages, and the much happier-looking landlord is booking us back after only the first set, which is always a plus - as is free beer, cheers!
One of the things I like about playing in Wales and the borders is that people are generally much more interested and appreciative of something a bit different, musically - everyone seems to be a musician too, which I guess helps - looking forward to coming back, although that may freak out the excitable young lady who thought I was Rasputin. Can't see it myself, though I can see why she might have thought I was the guitarist from Onslaught - see here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1prUCv3Tm6s
Friday, February 06, 2009
What with the long break over Christmas and all, it's been such a long time since our last gig we were a bit concerned about how much we'd remember, but of course we needn't have worried - we remembered at least half of the set. Good to see some familiar faces come in from the cold again, as well as some much appreciated new ones, even if they were only drawn in by the sight of Mick's Cardiacs T-shirt through the window!
Monday, January 05, 2009
Not much to report on the gigging front over the traditionally dead fortnight at the year's end, apart from the worrying news that Chris is writing a Christmas song! With any luck he'll have forgotten all about it by this time next year, but just in case: I am NOT going to dye my beard white and wear a silly hat. Again.
Another New Year's Eve spent trying out inadvisable combinations of drinks in front of Jools Holland and his infernal boogie-woogie piano, whilst thinking about how I'd like to slam his head in it repeatedly...
Great to see Gavin over from France again though - 8 years is too long, we need to get better at staying in touch! He was a big hit with his nephews, too - it's something of an unfair advantage for an uncle to be so good at magic & juggling - he went back to France laden with English, er... delicacies to tempt the French palate, and keen observers will notice evidence that seasonal excesses have taken their toll on his waistline. Clearly it runs in the family, and there's therefore no point in trying to fight it.