OK, so we knew it was real and all, but maybe not that real!! Well done our Colin!!
Brmingham O2 Institute
Small stage and a scruffy venue seemed somehow wrong for a performer with a catalogue as long and varied as Jacksons, but nonetheless, that’s where he was playing and where, delayed at work, I found, or was found by Mr (Steve) T of this site. Taller and ganglier than ever, Jackson lurched onstage shortly around 8, starting off as his own support, playing 4 of 5 songs alone at the electric piano, with an energetic It’s Different for Girls to kick things off. A couple of conventional mid period piano ballads followed, the lyrics for Be My Number 2 seeming from now a different era. (I guess it was.) But it was a masterstroke to cover Big Yellow taxi in a N’Awlins /Dr John style, which certainly delighted the 2 of us, and seemingly the rest of the hall. Another ballad was beginning to lull the raised atmosphere, when, mid song, a figure strode on, plugged in his bass, interrupting with the unmistakeable dum der-dum intro of Is She Really Going Out with Him, bringing the audience back to life. Drummer and guitarist strolled on, verse by verse, until the full band, and » Continue Reading.
Symphony Hall, Birmingham
Rollicking into Brum for the last night of his “new” 4 Seasons tour, Kennedy made the most of home turf, peppering his concert with references to Villa’s dire performance the day before, and to the Jasper Carrot helmed Boggery Folk Club in Solihull, where he had played a show with Stephane Grapelli some decades ago. The first half opened with the English Chamber Orchestra, string section and harpsichord, trooping on, followed by the additional musicians, making 13 in all, 2 acoustic guitars, a huge double bass and very rudimentary drums, basically a snare and a cymbal, followed by Kennedy’s shamble on, playing the opening stanzas to 4S on a mouth organ. All ill-fitting and unmatched jacket, trousers, trainers and T-shirt, lengthy introductions fed into 5 opening pieces in this first half. 4 of these were related, as being tribute pieces to Isaak Stern, the aforementioned Grapelli, a famous polish violinist whose name I can’t recall and probably couldn’t spell and, a surprise, to whom he called nashville’s finest fiddler, Mark O’Connor, getting at least one cheer from me, even if none of the pieces necessarily evoked the genres of the artist so celebrated. » Continue Reading.
O2 Academy, Birmingham
The 3rd of my what I still might call techno forays, even I knowing my terminology grates against the full live Massive Attack experience, which hardly categorises as trip-hop either, now so vast and orchestral is the bass-heavy swell of sound. The tour is to promote the new material, audio and visual, with a lot of new, interspersed with what you might call greatest hits, maybe volume 2, so all the anthemic forbodings from Mezzanine and Heligoland were there, little from the first 2 albums, bar a Karmacoma, greeted with cheers by the heaving hall. Singers included Martina Topley-Bird, who gave good credit to Teardrop and the theme from Luther, and good old Horace Andy, a little dreadlocked gnome alongside Daddy G, but in as fine vibrato as ever. A striking new voice was Azukiel, spelling uncertain, striking also in stature an appearance, a welcome new find for their sound. Less so for me were Young Fathers, who, as well as being support band, did 2 songs as the 1st round of encores, from the forthcoming new material. Maybe I am not their demographic, scarcely fitting the bill for a young grandfather these » Continue Reading.
Prompted by the Nice post, and reminded of that pointless waste of crumbs and sugar that always vies for last in the Xmas bumper biscuits selections folk think (ha!) will make nice (ha!) gifts for their Dr at this time of year, what is your least fave? I think we did best biscuits in the old old place, but surely the bottom of the Huntley and Palmer barrel needs opening, in all its stale majesty. I propose the custard cream, the slap in the face for anyone thinking a sandwich biscuit to be the treat beyond plain, vile mucus flavour paste between 2 pieces of sweetened formica.
Barclaycard Arena (? hell, it’s the bloody N.I.A. to me), Birmingham
Extraordinary, really, and not quite as expected. First time to the Indoor Arena without seats and it’s a corker, like a decent N.E.C., as droves of the Faithless faithful arrive, in all ages, sizes, shapes and forms, the atmosphere of a revivalist meeting. The arena so big and roof so high it feels like outside, with party coats laid out on the floor as support band ‘Until the Ribbon Breaks’, no me, neither, came on and did their stuff, a fascinating blend of electronica and beats fuelled folky-blues with occasional trumpet and lots of percussion, electronic and otherwise; largely well-received and one to hear their recorded stuff for clarity, I felt, the sound a bit muddy. Bang on 9 the lights go down, the floor fills and bank upon bank of lasers come up to, sorry, euphoria, the biggest cheers reserved for Maxi Jazz, diminutive and suited, a white T under the jacket. Bravely banging off with signature tune, ‘God is a DJ’, alternating between the quiet rappy bits as it builds inexorably to the chunky bits that sear the room with joy, this seemed » Continue Reading.
You know the sort of thing, blind spots, prejudice or just plain ignorance. Those artists who have fallen under your personal radar, for whatever reason. One of mine has been Steve Hillage, beany-headed guitar elf. (Does he still wear that, does he stil have a grin and wispy beard amidst a head of cascading waves?) Altho’ I aquired Sea Shanty, by Khan, in a brief dalliance with completing the canterbury scene, at this moment not recalling a bit of it, I am an accredited non-believer in the airy-“faerie” nonsense of Daevid Allen period Gong, thus always associating Hillage in that particular (hemp) bag. Recent idle browsing on the interweb led me to System 7, his more recent dance oriented groove, if you forgive my archaic daddio description of the genre, which I liked. Today had me listening to ‘Fish Rising’, his 40 year old solo album, and jolly good it is too. Reminded me of a better skilled Hawkwind, had they all been Canterbury based rather than Ladbroke Grove. (And I note a mispelt Hill(i)age is appearing with Hawkwing in December.) So, who have you belatedly caught up with? Or are there entire genres you pooh-poohed at the time, suddenly » Continue Reading.
What does it sound like?:
Absolutely bloody marvellous is how it sounds! Irrespective of the grumpy old sod he seems to have been, issuing rules about how ‘folk’ music should sound and be presented, he wrote some absolute corkers, and I don’t just mean the obvious one(s), ‘First Time Ever etc’ and ‘Dirty Old Town’, and, indeed, this alerted my ears to a huge body of work with which I was unfamiliar, largely put off by his portrayed persona. Curated, I believe, by his son, Neill, currently David Gray’s right hand man, this brings together as many of the great and good of, what, anglicana(?), to perform and interpret 2 discs worth of material. Catnip to me, and to many here too, the roll call is impressive, as I will show with the track listings below. Astonishingly, if I count grandson, Jamie, in his dayjob as a Bombay Bicycle Clubber, I have albums by each and every of the performers here, and would commend any of them in their own right. Even more astonishingly, many haven’t sounded this good for years and this could almost stand in it’s own right as a sampler of who is currently who. (Struggling » Continue Reading.
Steve T’s house, somewhere in the west midlands
Michael Weston King and Lou Dalgleish, aka My Darling Clementine, each with long track records of credible music, produce canny and aware modern country (and, hell yes, western) which deserves better than the radar they meet, but, it’s 2015, this is how it is. And house concerts, huge in the states, are perhaps the sway forward. So, perhaps 35 or 40 of us meet for a party, and the band play. No microphones, acoustic guitar and vox humana, with occasional low amped electric piano. Actually, man from boy stuff, as Mike and Lou blew off the roof, showing for real the skill and expertise built on the back of natural talent. 10,000 hours of experience, playing a mix of songs from their 2 LPs and the recent roadshow with crime-writer Mark Billingham. With never a song ever having a thing good to say about that crazy little thing called love, they bickered delightfully through songs of distress and dismay. Adding an occasional cover from Hank Williams, Jackie Leven and Costello, E, via George Jones, OK, ‘Good Year for the Roses’, written by neither, split into 2 sets, this » Continue Reading.
Tee hee, if we all reply to niscum here instead of there…………
Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry
The squeeze is a big fan, so here we are, 3rd Steve Harley gig in 18/12, this time in the school assembly ambience of W.A.C.s Butterworth Hall. Following on from last years faithful run-through of the first 2 albums, with a symphony orchestra, this is the original line-up, bar the deceased George Ford, reformed to run through L.P. no. 3, ‘Best Years of Our Lives’, arguably when the band was at its peak. Getting lost in the single tracks around Kenilworth blunted our start, 3 songs in, missing ‘Her Comes the Sun’. Thankfully this was the first half, supposedly fan chosen songs, but, as Harley depracatedly pointed out, no-one bothered, and he was always going to play what he liked anyway. So, amongst a number of, to me, lesser known tracks, we had his new single, out for 6 weeks and known by no-one, as well as ‘A Friend for Life’, covered on Rod Stewarts latest (‘number 1’) album. (Or kerching, as Harley commented!) An elegiac, extended ‘Sebastian’was the highpoint and always is, building ever up into glissandos of ululation, tightly pegged in by Stuart Elliotts sturdy and precise drumming. Jim Cregan, » Continue Reading.
Symphony Hall, Birmingham
Some misgivings as my shabby self entered the foyer, surrounded by 50 plus fashion at its most Littlewoods catalogue, all pastel hued knitwear and sensible slacks, the women in their party frocks. But as the Southbank Sinfonia trooped on, fronted by Anne Dudley, I knew all would be well. This was the woman who arranged the original album, Trevor Horn/Art of Noise/ZTT alumnus, and first heard of on Bryan Ferrys 2nd solo LP. (She must have been about 3) Launching into an medley of the tunes we were about to hear, we learnt the lift between dressing room and stage was stuck, so they played it again. Thankfully, ahead of a third, the band strode on, 2 keyboards, bass, guitar, drummer, percussion and 2 girly singers before the unmistakeable figure of Martin Fry, gauche as always in a 3-piece, a little taller than memory serves. The show was to be 2 halves, side 1 being other stuff ahead of returning for a play through of early 80s monster, ‘The Lexicon of Love.’ Other stuff was a consummate ‘When Smokey Sings’ and some other songs. They didn’t really have any others , did they, » Continue Reading.
I love bass, me, with certain exponents enjoyed possibly way beyond their skill, on account of the glorious shades and tones of their work, the settings and the relation between underpinning and adding melody. Her’e 3 of mine. The JJB, as exemplified in still the Stranglers finest moment, and pitched into orbit at 6.29. The twangy trebly tone, plectrum, I think, not fingers and the heart of this marmite bands appeal. (Pedants will of course remind me the fact that this sound first appears on Message to the Country, a much earlier Move LP, where Roy Wood overdubbed all the bass parts himself, having temporarily fallen out with Rick Price) The Wobble wobble: the opposite end of the tone control, all bas nd no treble, booming diddly diddly dum dum up and down subterranean canyons. Inspired of course by the legion of dubby rastas who did the same but with a simpler sonic palette. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cJpboYv1j28 The Hooky, um, hook: I don’t even know if he is/was any good, as half the joy was the ridiculous pants round his ankles length of his strap (missus!), nbut the tho higher end of the instrument has never been so effective. Perhaps no bad » Continue Reading.
Picked up my monthly Boho/Unshod stash today, learning of the death of Simon Cowe, Lindisfarne and Jack the Lad lynchpin of mandolin, guitar and gloriously ragged vocal, as well as the wildest hair in christendom. Sore missed, I’d crack open a Newkie B if it weren’t such pish.
What does it sound like?:
Well, I wanted to like it, really wanted to, but the idea of Tom, much as before, being somewhat better than the reality. For sure he has written some fabulous singles, that being the rub, his LPs palling outside those songs. I guess I had forgotten that, as he hasn’t produced new music for decades, becoming an older statesman over on R6. ‘Hope and Glory’, from 1984, was my last point of reference, and, in preparation, I played that last week, it holding up OK, the good songs great, the rest, less so. So what can I say? Well, his voice remains unchanged, a ragged instrument of limited but affecting beauty. He retains his penchant for a bit of a political and whoever is playing bass has the new wave thin twang off perfectly. (Possibly himself? Didn’t he play bass in the TRB?) Um, that’s it. I guess the ‘single’ is ‘Cry Out’, a catchy song that, given airplay will have many buying the lot. Definitely the stand out track, and extremely hum worthy . Guests are mainly of the thesp variety, although long time stalwart and punk survivor T.V. Smith pops up, many » Continue Reading.
Town Hall, Birmingham
Rarely have I seen this venue as a -buzzing ahead of this gig, Marcus Miller, bassist extraordinaire showing off his new LP, Afrodeezia. Unfortunately we had first to sit thru’ 45 minutes of the worst sort of cruise ship cacophony that gives jazz a bad name, all scat and uncooked noodle, the sort of stuff people think you mean if you admit a like for the genre. However, any hearts dampened thereby were swiftly elevated to the roof as Miller and his band hit the ground running, playing the first 2 tracks from the new record, sharing the accolades between Millers astounding technique and sax, trumpet, keys, guitar drums and, a special mention, percussion, the astonishing Mino Cinelu, last associated with Miller on Miles Davis’ Tutu, in 1986. The songs portray the journey, spiritual and temporal, of the slave trade between subsaharan Africa and the U.S., by way of Brazil and the caribbean. So, as well as bass, we were treated to forays onto ngoni, and in a remarkable slow piece, bass clarinet. Despite almost exclusively instrumental music, mostly hard driven and rhythmic, the solos never descended into look at me, the melodies » Continue Reading.
Symphony Hall, Birmingham
No I didn’t know they were still going either, now some 25 plus years since their memorable guestslot at Eurovision 88, bit I didn’t miss the opportunity to grab me a ticket, their live reputation lingering over the years, despite the solitary Best Of on my shelf. I don’t even think there’s any new material, but what’s that as detail with what they had in store. Liam lurched on to stage, with a beard as wild and itchy as the ill-fitting tweed suit he was wearing, gurning and gesticulating like Skip Spence’s homeless elder brother. A voice like an fallen angel, the repertoire hit all their boxes: soul, rock, african, irish folk, hell, even a few bars of ‘Imagine’, mawkish in anyone else’s hands. Playing mainly piano, he revealed his no mean talent at the keyboard, ably and competently hemmed in by the rest of the band, tonight augmented by token englishman, Martyn Brinsford, on double bass. This allowed Peter O’Toole to mainly play some guitar/bouzouki hybrid, except in a couple of numbers when he strapped on electric bass, allowing a duo bass back line, the extremely competent drumming of Dave Clarke keeping » Continue Reading.
3.45 a.m., awake and posting, so, full of the wonder of youtube, I thought I’d share how I spent my afternoon yesterday. Things you do for love, eh!!
Barely a week after our esteemed colleague tells us of his advancing singing career and it’s progress, lo and behold, there I was, minding my own business, at a Leftfield concert, and there, apparently, he was. (In truth, I thought Cheshire Cat was the dreadlocked rasta who did a couple of numbers, but it seems, shockingly, that he was the Lee Nelson-alike who did an earlier number, and who appears in the odd clip above. So, from a thought of coincidence of name to maybe I’m right in 2 short clicks? Dave, were you in Brum on friday?)
Anyone coming, bar Cheshire and me? Dawes, RT and many a more fine article to be seen. Beer and whisky meet?
50 years ago Barry McGuire was heading up the charts with his doomladen ditty, Eve of Destruction. betcha don’t know what he did first! (Written by Burt Bacharach, no less!)
What does it sound like?:
It’s The Magical World of, by the way, rather than The Olde World, which hasn’t arrived yet. Originally from 1997, and pre-Shack, this Head bros work seems to have built up a reputation by it’s very unavailability, and, as trumpeted in the press, the now clean elder sibling, Michael, has been doing the rounds promoting this new release of it. And it is fucking great. Think of all those quintessentially druggy 60s bands, and yes, I mean early Floyd, at least vocally, amongst others, with a tang of a more softly singing John Martyn, with a dash of early Joe Boyd produced REM and a Teenage Fanclub whimsicality. That about captures it, beautiful melodic ditties, largely acoustic, with occasional strings and recorder. Yes, recorder, that 60s.
What does it all *mean*?
Probably no more than one of our finest songwriters has been long in our midst, unrecognised and ungarnished, arguably destroyed by the same muse that indulged his talent. But he’s back. And I hope he is, as there have been many a false start along the way. I saw Shack back in sometimealongtimeago, supporting Beth Orton, and a sorry sad mess they were. » Continue Reading.
What does it sound like?:
‘Straordinary what you can find on the web. I remembered this group as an LP cover, and a name, forgetting I had actually, apparently, seen them, at Reading 75, tho’ I still can’t remember a thing about them. So I found the record and gave it a spin. Very odd in a not unpleasant way, like a chocolate coated oyster perhaps. It has proggy bits, all harpsichords and mellotrons, falling downstairs drums, extravagant bass motifs, along with country-rock harmonies and songs about cowboys. Yes, there is a fiddler too, but not a generic jiggery folk one, nor a country hoedown one, more symphonic sweeps and flourishes. And it was produced by Rick Wakeman. And one song is the full 12 minutes, all time signature changes and evidence of having quite enjoyed Echoes by the Floyd. My take is that if you imagine Jerry Garcia jamming with East of Eden, more for the vocals and the pretension. Or maybe, had polarities altered, and David Crosby joined the Hollies and encouraged Graham Nash in his shove to make them more prog?
What does it all *mean*?
Nowt, apart from the joy of an occasional uncovered and » Continue Reading.
Kitchen Garden Cafe, Kings Heath, Birmingham
Back again at this fabulous tiny venue, to hear alumnus of them both, MWK sing the songs of Jackie Leven and of Townes Van Zandt, accompanied by Jackie Leven sidesman, Mike Cosgrave, on keyboards, accordion and 2nd (acoustic) guitar. The 2nd of only 2 dates, this was tribute banding at its best. The first half was dedicated to Jackie, with many an anecdote affectionately outlining his ability to exasperate and baffle, littered with a selection of songs from across his canon. Now, I consider myself a bit of a fan, yet the first couple of songs were new to my ears, albeit unmistakenly Leven, with the audience, sunday polite, a little non-plussed. However, kicking into History of Rain, replete with added doo-woppery, and all relaxed a little. The Wanderer and Ireland for Losers also appeared, reminding the lyrical depth of his recurring themes. MWK sings in a style similar to big Jackie, but less resonance, his anecdotes, to be fair, not a patch on the man himself, as if anyone could be. Cosgrave added elegaic electric piano, glorious swathes of synth chordery and rousing squeezebox. I found a tear swelling » Continue Reading.