Concert Review: Stray Cats – 40th Anniversary Tour – Eventim Apollo, London [27 June 2019]

Well I’ve been eagerly awaiting this gig for a while now given I last saw the boys on 22 Dec 1981 in Nottingham (roughly 37 and a half years ago).

In truth the gig doesn’t require too much analysis, simple rockabilly to just enjoy and bop to!

Eddie Cochrane’s ‘C’mon everybody’ brings original 1980’s rockabilly revival members Brian Setzer, Lee Rocker and “Slim’ Jim Phantom onto the stage to rapturous applause from a sell-out Hammersmith Odeon (Apollo or whatever it wants to call itself these days depending on who is sponsoring the venue).

The Stray Cats are here, to celebrate their 40th anniversary tour and their first new LP in 26 years not surprisingly entitled ‘40’.  Tonight, there are plenty of new tracks mixed with a history lesson of nostalgic songs culled from their sparkling career and classic covers in a 1½ hour set that never lets up.

They launched into the new LP immediately with ‘Cat Fight (Over A Dog Like Me)’ a very Chuck Berry’ish song in typical Stray Cats style and an instant classic – Brian can’t understand why two women are coming to blows over him (I guess that it’s kind of autobiographical as I’m sure that’s actually happened to him!).  Then straight into the classic “Runway Boys’ from their debut LP.  These two songs set the tone for the whole evening perfectly and everyone is singing along in unison!

It’s been a while since I saw so many turned up blue jeans, flat top haircuts (occasional quiff) and tattoos plus the ladies with typical 50’s vintage updo/bandanna hairstyles.  It all made for the occasion, a celebration of a music genre that isn’t in vogue in these times.  The band themselves are dressed in cowboy style attire.  Slim Jim and Brian wearing bandanna neck scarfs and jackets whilst Lee has a white blazer.  It’s hot tonight so obviously the tops come off to reveal C&W style shirts for Lee and Jim, Brian sporting a Stray Cats t-shirt plus tattoos galore.

The stage set is minimal – Slim Jim has a bass and snare drum, a high hat and a couple of symbols for his standy-uppy drumming style.  Brian gets through a number of Gretch guitars plugged into the Fender amp/speaker behind him and Lee has a couple of double basses.  There are a couple of trash cans either side of the stage and two huge back drop banners interspersed between songs and a glorious Stray Cats neon flashing logo.  In fairness they need little else, your attention is always centre stage watching the boys strut their stuff.  All are around the 60 mark, so still relatively young and full of energy, they have aged remarkably well – a bit like the music they played tonight.

Resplendent with tattoos and quiffs its evident that their passion and drive is still glowing brightly and without doubt they are a more polished and slicker outfit from that I saw all those many years ago.  Brian has certainly got much better on guitar, Lee Rocker more confident on the double bass and to be frank Slim Jim is about the same – it’s hard to really improve on a minimal drum kit and steady beat.

Brian does a lovely solo then the band launch into Dick Dale’s ‘Misirlou’ with much gusto.   Later Brian solos on top of Jim’s bass drum whilst Lee strides his double bass – a great sight to behold.

It’s a slick show.  Brian is obviously the main man but Lee takes centre stage and lead vocals for ‘When Nothing’s Going Right (Go Left)’ – best of the new songs in my opinion – and ‘Bring It Back Again’.  We also have the classics ‘She’s Sexy + 17’, ‘Fishnet Stockings’ and ‘Blast Off’.  ‘Rock This Town’, their biggest hit, brings the house down and it’s clear the band were having as much fun as the audience – all in all a rip-roaring evening.

Setlist (click on link to watch the videos on YouTube in 4k)

  1. Cat Fight (Over a Dog Like Me) – (40, 2019)
  2. Runaway Boys – (Stray Cats, 1981)
  3. Double Talkin’ Baby (Gene Vincent cover) – (Stray Cats, 1981)
  4. Three Time’s a Charm – (40, 2019)
  5. Stray Cat Strut – (Stray Cats, 1981)
  6. Mean Pickin’ Mama – (40, 2019)
  7. Gene & Eddie – (Blast Off, 1989)
  8. Cry Baby – (Choo Choo Hot Fish, 1992)
  9. I Won’t Stand In Your Way – (Rant n’ Rave with the Stray Cats, 1983)
  10. Guitar solo / Misirlou (Dick Dale cover)
  11. When Nothing’s Going Right – (40, 2019)
  12. (She’s) Sexy + 17 – (Rant n’ Rave with the Stray Cats, 1983)
  13. Bring It Back Again – (Blast Off, 1989)
  14. My One Desire (Dorsey Burnette cover) – (Stray Cats, 1981)
  15. Blast Off – (Blast Off, 1989)
  16. Lust ‘n’ Love – (Choo Choo Hot Fish, 1992)
  17. Fishnet Stockings – (Stray Cats, 1981)
  18. Rock This Town – (Stray Cats, 1981)

Encore:

  1. Rock It Off – (40, 2019)
  2. Built for Speed – (Built For Speed, 1982)
  3. Rumble in Brighton – (Stray Cats, 1981)

A three-song encore starts with “Rock It Off’ by which time a gentle mini mosh pit has started at the front and finishes with the classic ‘Rumble In Brighton’.  Eddie Cochrane plays them off stage to the strains of “Ain’t no cure for the Summertime Blues”.

Tonight, ladies and gentlemen the Stray Cats were on the prowl once again and just purrfect 😊.

The Support

Worthy of mention were Australia’s ‘The Living End’ who were a Stray Cats equivalent albeit with rockabilly/hard rock overtones.  They set up the show perfectly and seemed to have quite a few fans in the audience.  Note to me – must check them out. 

Not worthy of a mention were the other support band The Selector – peddling their 80’s poor imitation of Ska.  Alas 45 mins I’ll never get back.  On the plus side the guitarists looked like Mungo Jerry’s front man Ray Dorset and Johnny Vegas while the sax player was Jackson Galaxy.

Marko – 30 June 2019

Concert Review: Theatre of Hate, Heiwa 2019 UK Tour, 229 The Venue, London [16 May 2019]

I’ve seen Spear of Destiny (SOD) a number of times so tonight I was looking forward to my first Theatre of Hate(TOH) gig.  I’m probably preaching to the converted but for my American followers TOH were the forerunners of SOD.  TOH emerged in 1980 were post punk and only lasted a couple of years before SOD were formed from it’s ashes.  TOH were certainly less radio friendly, more angry, unpolished, raw, frantic with a unique bleak landscape sound and lyrics.   SOD were more chart-friendly alt-arena rock but alas never made it to the big time, tis a pity.  Output wise Kirk successfully resurrected TOH in 2014 with the LP ‘Kinshi’ released via a private pledge and is currently touring in support of their latest release ‘Heiwa’.  Short history lesson over 😊.

Kirk Brandon is certainly a busy man.  He appears too late to be constantly on a mini tour with one of his three bands TOH, SOD or ‘The Pack’. Recently back from the States and straight back on the treadmill tonight it’s London promoting the latest record Heiwa’ (Japanese for peace).  I’m spotting a pattern here – the previous LP was entitled Kinshi (Japanese for forbidden/prohibition).

The current line-up includes original members Kirk Brandon, Stan Stammers (bass), John Lennard (sax) joined by Spear Of Destiny band member Adrian Portas on guitar and Chris Bell on drums.

The band arrive on stage at just after 21:35 all dressed in black.  Kirk wearing baggy turned up jeans, large belt and band t-shirt. His stocky body hunkers over his cutaway electro acoustic Gretsch.  On his left life-long bassist Stan Stammers in a Charles Mansion t-shirt and hat stalks the stage pounding out the distinctive bass lines which earmark Theatre of Hate’s iconic sound.

Now as far as I can make out Kirk has had the same haircut for the last 30+ years. Tightly side cropped blond hair with a longer fringe – he is clearly identifiable!  Kirk burns brightly commanding the stage whether playing the guitar or just singing in that high operatic tone he has.  Not much audience interaction tonight, one song followed by another.  A splattering of their early 80s LP and singles plus newer tunes which follow a familiar well-trodden path that is TOH music legacy.

Kirk’s delivery is impassioned, he sings with raw operatic emotion matched beautifully by the haunting saxophone, whilst Adrian Portas stays rooted to the far right laying down sparse atmospheric riff layers.  Chris hammered out the beat which kept the rhythm section buoyant with Stan.

Alas the lighting was pretty piss poor throughout. It was basically the same dark blue tint, with a couple of white spots facing the audience – really annoying.  I suppose TOH had to do with the venues own stuff – note to venue spend some ££ on lighting!

The audience were always very appreciative and applauded and sung along enthusiastically.  Towards the end of the set the audience got more involved during rabble rousing classics such as ‘Incinerator and Conquistador’ and the forever young ‘Westworld’.  The mosh pit is now in full swing and it continued with the encores (alas I’d had a few jars by this point, was hopping around the mosh pit and by the next morning can’t remember what the hell they were – luckily a direct message to Kirk on Twitter sorted that!).  So, it all draws to a close about 10:45 – thanks for a great night chaps!

SetList (Click on link to view the video on YouTube)

  1. A Thing of Beauty
  2. The Hop – (Single, 1982)
  3. Triumph – (Kinshi, 2016)
  4. Omen of the Times – (Aria of The Devil, 1998)
  5. Judgement Hymn – (Westworld, 1982)
  6. Given – (Heiwa, 2019)
  7. Freaks – (Westworld, 1982)
  8. Maintenance Man – (Kinshi, 2016)
  9. Americanos – (Aria Of The Devil, 1998)
  10. Ukraine Girl – (Kinshi, 2016)
  11. Love Is a Ghost – (Westworld, 1982)
  12. Day of the Dog – (Kinshi, 2016)
  13. Conquistador – (Westworld, 1982)
  14. Incinerator – (Single, 1981), – (Aria Of The Devil, 1998)
  15. Do You Believe in the Westworld? – (Westworld, 1982)

Encores:

  1. Original Sin
  2. Legion

My only musical gripe – wot no ‘Eastworld’ – drat and double drat!

Theatre of Hate have a dedicated, albeit small, hard core following.  Given most of the audience were 50 plus they did a good job on pretending it’s the early 80s and the mini mosh pit was a great laugh.  Even a couple of ladies getting in there flailing elbows and bouncing off each other around the floor.

So, to summarise, a wonderful night, interesting music and crowd, got ensnared in the mosh, got some good pictures, got the 10” blue vinyl ‘II. Heiwa’ EP signed, got a photo with Kirk and to cap it all Kirk is a massive ‘old skool’ Chelsea fan.  So, when we see SOD later this year playing at Stamford Bridge it’s Chelsea tops all round – BTW that includes you Kirk if you’re reading this!!

Also, thanks for keeping the ticket prices very reasonable (slightly too cheap if you ask me but hey!), it’s important!

PS – Must mention the support band Derek Forbes and the Dark – who basically played a 40-minute set of early Simple Minds gems (not surprising given that Derek was their original bassist).  A trio of keyboards, bass and drums – actually, it was rather good!  See this video someone posted – New Gold Dream.

Concert Review: Mott the Hoople ’74 at Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London [26 April 2019]

Holy crap, I hadn’t realised that Ian Hunter is 80 this June, you’d never guess it he looks great and still has his standout curly locks.  In fact keyboardist Morgan Fisher and guitarist Ariel Bender looked pretty good for their ages as well.  So, there we have it you’ve never too old to Rock ’n’ Roll!

A reformed Mott – Hunter, Aerial and Morgan – (you might call this incarnation ‘Mott mark 2’) were complimented by Ian’s current Rant band.  As the ’74 tag suggests the songs on this tour are culled from a few albums prior to that date plus assorted singles and b-sides of that era.  A golden era with mega beak through on the horizon, however they instead decided to self-implode – hey we’ve all seen bad management and inter band conflicts a million times before.

The band came on stage at 9:10, clutching a glass of bubbly, to huge applause from a sell our Shepherd’s Bush crowd made up mainly of males of a certain age!  Hunter began singing Don McLean’s ‘American Pie’ before launching into the classic foot stompin’ ‘The Golden Age of Rock ‘n’ Roll’.  The set mixed up old favorites, lesser-known album tracks and singles ranging from up tempo slabs to poignant, slower ballads to sing-along rockers all with ultimate ease and professionalism and a bit of fun banter along the way.  His song writing talents clearly showed their durability tonight.

High points included the haunting ‘I Wish I Was Your Mother’; ‘Roll Away the Stone’ – “this is the biggest selling song we ever had” said Ian and “Walking With A Mountain”.  By the time the band had launched into Lou Reed’s ‘Sweet Jane’ the crowd they could do no wrong.  Even Morgan’s Bach piano solo took on great effect with a dapper roadie slowly opening another bottle of champagne – alas they didn’t pass it around the audience!   

Before ‘Walking with a Mountain’ Ariel told the audience to quieten down and shouted “This is serious business” and handed Ian a piece of paper which he duly read out thus: “Ian read that out before Mountain – the charming, the shy, the demur, the modest, the unassuming but amazingly sexy (that’s me Ariel added!, the great Ariel Bender”. Then a guitar solo!!

The set closed with a raucous medley that included ‘One of the Boys, Crash Street Kids, Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On, Violence’ and ending with an audience sing-along of ‘England Rocks’ (in lieu of Cleveland).

Mott The Hoople ’74 set list (Click on the links to watch the songs in 4k glory)

  1. American Pie / The Golden Age of Rock ‘n’ Roll – (The Hoople, 1974)
  2. Lounge Lizard – (The Hoople, 1974)
  3. Alice – (The Hoople, 1974)
  4. Honaloochie Boogie – (Mott, 1973)
  5. Morgan Fisher piano solo (Bach’s Prelude #1 in C)
  6. Rest in Peace – (Live, 1974)
  7. I Wish I Was Your Mother – (Mott, 1973)
  8. Pearl ‘n’ Roy (England) – (The Hoople, 1974)
  9. Sucker – (All the Young Dudes, 1972)
  10. Sweet Jane – (All the Young Dudes, 1972)
  11. Rose – (Live, 1974)
  12. Walking With a Mountain – (Mad Shadows, 1970)
  13. Roll Away the Stone – (The Hoople, 1974)
  14. Marionette – (The Hoople, 1974)
  15. Medley: Jerkin’ Crokus^ / One of the Boys* / Rock ‘n Roll Queen / Crash Street Kids / Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On / Mean Woman Blues / Violence^ / Cleveland Rocks
  16. Saturday Gigs – (7’ Single, 1974)
  17. All the Way From Memphis – (Mott, 1973)
  18. All the Young Dudes – (7’ single, 1972)  red

^ B-side of ‘Saturday Gigs’ single
* B-side of ‘All The Young Dudes’ single

‘Saturday Gigs’ was the 1st encore and in fairness it was a group/audience hug and singalong.  The entire audience sang beautifully and knew the words off by heart.  The song is an epic band autobiography (so close and yet so far from the big time!) and always sends a shiver down my spine – beautiful.  The 2nd encore literally brought the house down, as Brian May sauntered on stage and they launched into ‘All the Way from Memphis’. In fairness the audience simply carried on from the last song and sang their hearts out. The band loved it, smiles all round – boy they looked like they were having so much fun up there.  Their exuberance was instantly catching.

The final encore was just what we had been waiting for, the classic ‘All The Young Dudes’.  It might have been a gift from Bowie to them but they have made it their own!  Brain May stayed on for this and was joined by Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott (a lifelong fan) and their original singer Stan Tippens.  Yes folks the place went mental just one big huge love in.  A glorious end to an unforgettable night as  Ian Hunter and Mott the Hoople ’74 left the stage with the audience clamouring for more.

Right at the end Ariel gave Ian a bit of paper to read out – it went “the spectacular, the amazing, the unforgettable, the brilliant, the great, the fabulous, the one and only the great Ariel Bender” to which Ariel threw up his hands in appreciation for each compliment!  Priceless!!

At almost 23:00 the night came to an end. Mott the Hoople gave a superb performance, they were awesome and lots of very happy old rockers went into the night air clutching their band t-shirts.

Epilogue

Mott The Hoople have a real deep bond with their fans (and their more famous counterparts – step forward rock royalty Brian May and Joe Elliott), the love is on show for all to clearly see.  It’s kind of strange given their hit/miss career but they must have been something to behold in the early 70’s live shows to hold such devoted fans e.g. we met a Vinnie from Florida in the pub and he’d bought tickets for all the London dates and flown over especially!

Ian Hunter is pretty remarkable, fit way beyond his years, a singing voice that has aged yet somehow, he looks unchanged, instantly recognisable face hidden behind the hair and shades – he should copyright the look!  Hunter frequently traded electric for acoustic guitar dominating center-stage. 
At either side the eccentric Morgan Fisher with his jacket featuring a piano lapel and cheap Rock n Roll t-shirt and the even more gloriously eccentric Luther Grosvenor AKA Ariel Bender on guitar keeping the glam era going.  Ariel is a thing of wonder and joy to behold, the bloke is mad as a hatter doing his gonzo guitar heroics! They added a touch of vaudeville to the evening proceedings and the Rant band held it all together.  Now Ariel is certainly a character – leopard skin tight pants, waistcoat with his saggy skin on show, union jack neck wrap, red Citizen Smith beret and ponytail – what a sight!

Poor old Ariel, he had a problem throughout the set with his monitor speaker and he grew more frustrated as the songs passed.  Gesticulating furiously in between riffs and shouting at the sound desk ‘I can’t hear a fucking thing’, ‘This is fucking shit’, ‘Fuck off’ etc.  They never did sort his problem out, bet they took some stick after the gig!!  Not a plectrum in sight, he strummed, riffed and solo’d like a troubadour (even though he couldn’t hear himself). 

Go watch them before it all comes to an inevitable end.  I’m so happy I did.

Marko [29 Apr 2019]

UFO Concert Review – Last Orders 50th Anniversary Tour [22 March 2019] Cambridge Junction

Blimey, it might be their 50th anniversary but it’s also my 40th since I last saw them in Leicester in 1979. Who would have thought that we’d both still be going!

Over the years the band have had their highs/lows, endured the trials/tribulations of the business and now we are at the journeys end.  Mogg turns 71 this April (2019) so you can kind of understand why after 50 years wearing the R’n’R badge of honour with pride it’s time to call it a day.  So, all that remains is to make sure that they finish off their long illustrious career with a memorable bang!  

I knew it was going to be a great night when the pub bell chimed last orders the band slowly emerged one by one to the dulcet tones of ‘Faith Healer’ from the mighty SAHB.  Alas the opener ‘Let It Roll’ was somewhat marred by the dodgy feedback and bad mixing from the desk, however this was swiftly rectified and for the rest of the 90min show Phil vocals were as blindingly good as ever was.  He might be 71 but he can still belt them out!

Phil, dressed all in black with waist coat, braces and a cool studded belt was on top banter form in-between songs.  A real wag, taking the piss out of the band, himself and the audience and having a thoroughly good time.  For example: He commented that while he had hair he couldn’t see the battle scars on his now bald head from Pete Way, a couple of staircases and his 2nd wife.  Or when introducing ‘Cherry’ a song especially for the drummer Andy Parker about his Las Vegas trip with a pole dancer, broken heart and a dose of the clap!

The Cambridge Junction looked pretty much full, with a crowd of rockers of a certain age 😊 (plus assorted kids, including Phil’s 4 year old granddaughter perched on her mums shoulders) who were ecstatic to see their teen hero’s rocking out for the very last time.  Rapturous applause for the first few numbers then the volume went up to 11 with a rollicking ‘Lights Out’ and ‘Only You Can Rock Me’ singalong.  The party was now in full swing.  So, time for Phil and the boys to slow it down with ‘Baby Blue’ which showcased his powerful vocals to great effect.

I suppose now’s the time to mention the band.  UFO are: Phil Mogg, Paul Raymond (keyboards/guitar), Andy Parker (drums), Vinnie Moore (lead guitar) and Rob De Luca (bass).  Phil, Andy and Paul are the old guard harping back to the beginnings of the band with Vinnie and Rob both joining this century.  I’m gonna start with Rob as he was in front of me.  Dressed in the height of early 70’s hippie fashion with a tie dye velvet jacket, striped bell bottom trousers and long tussling hair – he reminded me of a refugee from the Chris Robinson band!  Excellent bass playing throughout, constantly with a smile on his face and plenty of lead guitar type poses and much moving about on stage.  Now Vinnie can most certainly play guitar, whether it’s on his head or in the usual place this man can solo and riff with the best of them.  The songs tonight showcased his talent to its fullest especially on the 4-5 min solo on ‘Rock Bottom’.  Paul, the consummate looking old rock ‘n’ roller – great haircut by the way – switched between keyboards and guitar with ease adding the layered melodic sound which gives their hard rock sound a softer edge. And let’s not forget Andy hidden behind the drum kit thrashing away with the back beat and holding everyone together.  UFO are a band, with all parts contributing with equal measure and they have ensured the legacy – it’s a pity it’s the end of the road – but all good things come to an end!

UFO set list I think (click on links to watch the videos in glorious ultra 4k)

  • Let It Roll – (Force It, 1975)
  • Messiah of Love – (A Conspiracy of Stars, 2015)
  • We Belong to the Night – (Mechanix, 1982)
  • Ain’t No Baby – (Obsession, 1978)
  • Lights Out – (Lights Out, 1977)
  • Baby Blue – (You Are Here, 2004)
  • Only You Can Rock Me – (Obsession, 1978)
  • Burn Your House Down – (Seven Deadly, 2012)
  • Cherry – (Obsession, 1978)
  • Love to Love – (Strangers in the Night, 1979)
  • Makin’ Moves – (The Wild, the Willing and the Innocent, 1981)
  • Too Hot to Handle – (Lights Out, 1977)
  • Rock Bottom – (Phenomenon, 1974)

Encore:

  • Doctor Doctor – (Phenomenon, 1974)
  • Shoot Shoot – (Force It, 1975)

Given it’s the final tour, they played a good mixed set of old classics and new songs such as ‘Burn Your House Down’ and ‘Messiah of Love’ from 2012 and 2015 respectively, proving that they still made great albums up to the end.  The band certainly rolled back through the years.

After the extended ‘Rock Bottom’ the band leaves the stage to rapturous applause and adulation. Much hollering, clapping and chants of “UFO, UFO” bring the band back on stage with the mighty and ubiquitous ‘Doctor, Doctor’ – I was hoping that Iron Maiden might come on after the song – 😊 😊.  And the final song was ‘Shoot Shoot’ which left a warm glow in the hearts of the delighted crowd – they absolutely went out in style, both band and crowd loving every minute.

Over the year’s UFO achieved notoriety and success in equal measure and they are definitely one of the UK’s great rock institutions.  After all, if their music is good enough for Iron Maiden to open up with then job done!  Thank you for the music and the good times Phil and enjoy your retirement!  And good luck to the rest of the band whatever you go on to do.

The support act was American Tara Lynch (who that?, ed).  She plays a mean guitar, wonder she’s related to Vinnie 😊.  She did a 45 min, mainly guitar-based set which highlighted her technical skills, with a few songs having vocals on them.  Obviously, a talented lass as she writes her own stuff and is a real guitar virtuoso diva.  She looked like a cross between Bonnie Raitt and Rosanne Barr – be afraid! 

Check them out via this link: Tara Lynch – Unbreakable.

Marko – 23 March 2019

Post script – Alas Paul Raymond died at the age of 73 just eight days after UFO played their final UK show at London’s Forum. RIP Paul..

Concert Review: Flunk – 100 Club [8 Feb 2019]

So practically a year after I first saw them Flunk are back at the 100 Club once again.  Stood in the same spot but this time I was armed with a much better camera with 4k video!  Unfortunately, you need a degree in astrophysics to work the damn thing so I just stuck to auto settings, the videos are pretty impressive though – check out the links in the setlist below to my YouTube channel.

For those that have never heard of Flunk, there are from Oslo and play a mix of electronic and indie guitar (the Birmingham band Felt come very much to mind) with some catchy tunes and slow laid back guitar work.

With no new material to showcase it was basically a ‘best of’ selection of tracks from their many albums – and that’s not a bad thing at all!  Same as last year they were: Erik Ruud – drums; Anja Øyen Vister – vocals, guitar; Jo Bakke – guitar; Ole Kristian Wetten – bass and Ulf Nygaard – Apple laptop.

The band were pretty much dressed all in black so that left Anja to add a touch of multi-colour via her bracelets and hair pieces plus an interesting line in minimalist orange eye shadow and glitter!  Mainly singing, occasional guitar she mainly sung eyes closed or with her arm shielding her eyes due to the spots and low ceiling.  The vocals were a little vague, you’d be hard pressed to catch the lyrics if you didn’t already know the songs, but that didn’t detract from the overall effect – ethereal!  Jo once again excelled on guitar – slow, mellow carefully crafted solos with the odd unhurried riff.  I loved his Vox (apparently it only cost just shy of the £1k mark).  The rhythm section held it all together nicely and they all genuinely seemed to be enjoying themselves.  The audience was very receptive and appreciative, in fact I recognised quite a few from the previous year – so a loyal following!

Now Ulf is an enigma to me. I know he’s the producer and presses a few keys on the MacBook and adds a bit of backing vocals but is he really needed on stage?  He pops up every now and then and it’s like having an odd family member walking on stage but the band are too polite and embarrassed to ask him to get off 😊.  There must be some buttons he could press on the mixing desk?

Flunk Setlist (click on links to view the videos)

  • Morning Star – [Morning Star, 2004]
  • Personal Stereo– [Personal Stereo, 2009]P1010334
  • TMTTUOT – [Chemistry and Math, 2017]
  • If We Kiss – [Personal Stereo, 2009]
  • Chemistry and Math – [Chemistry and Math, 2017]
  • Common Sense – [This Is What You Get, 2009]
  • Lost Causes – [Lost Causes, 2013]
  • Speedskating – [This Is What You Get, 2009]
  • Your Beautiful Lies – [Chemistry and Math, 2017]
  • Play – [Morning Star, 2004]
  • Six Seven Times – [Morning Star, 2004]
  • Hello – [Chemistry and Math, 2017]
  • Queen of the Underground – [Lost Causes, 2013]

encore

  • Down – [Personal Stereo, 2009]
  • Blue Monday – [For Sleepyheads Only, 2002]
  • Only You – [Cover Ups – The Home Recordings, 2016]
  • Sit Down – [Personal Stereo, 2009]

A lovely selection of songs that showcased their unique song writing talents born of living in a cold bleak climate.  Personal highlights were ‘If We Kiss’, ‘Play’, ‘Hello’ and ‘Sit Down’.  My only gripe was the cover of ‘Only You’ which they did very well but I really hate that song – so it’s my issue readers 😊.

Thanks to the whole band for putting in a great night’s entertainment.  At the end of the evening my friend and I managed to chat with both Anja and Jo who were charming as ever and were more than willing to talk at length and pose for photos.

Allegedly some new material may transpire next year, in the meanwhile I wish them luck and hope to see them live in London again in the not too distant future.  You might consider a different venue e.g. 229 The Venue – the 100 Club is a touch shabby!

Marko [10 Feb 2019]

Live Review: GUN and Von Hertzen Brothers, Shepherd’s Bush Empire [14/12/2018]

Both bands were support for Uriah Heep.

Von Hertzen Brothers

Just as well we got in early (unlike most gigs where we are in the pub beforehand) else we would have missed the rather fabulous Von Hertzen’s on the final leg of their ‘War is Over Pt 2’ tour encompassing 5 dates supporting Uriah Heep.  They hit the stage at 19:00 and after 6 songs and 38 blistering mins left to a rousing reception and no doubt some new fans including my mate Simon and I.

So I’ve done some investigative work and blimey this Finnish band have been around since 2001 and have some 7 LPs to their name – I feel a Xmas pressie coming on!  A great bunch of songs were played tonight mixing Rock and Prog effortlessly (hence a good fit supporting the mighty Heep) and definitely a couple of stadium anthems here namely ‘Sunday Child’ and ‘Jerusalem’.   Given only 6 songs I’m guessing the VHB picked their ‘best of’ for the night and they certainly didn’t disappoint.  The band consists of 3 brothers doing all the guitar stuff ably supported by keyboards and drums.

The engaging lead singer/guitarist Mikko certainly cuts it as eye candy for the girls (it was the first thing our LA girl friends on Twitter said when they saw the pictures!) and draws your attention throughout – he can play guitar as well 😊.   Kie the lead guitarist cuts an interesting figure in his hat and round glasses whilst playing a mean guitar and Jonne is your archetypal bassist sticking to his bit of the stage and just playing.  Sami holds it all together on drums.

During ‘Sunday Child’ Mikko and Jonne watch from the wings as Kie and the keyboard player Rob embellish the songs middle passage to great effect with layered sounds.  The sound is crisp and clear and all parts of the band work perfectly together.  They look like they are really into the songs and the joy comes through in their performance.  Catchy assed riffs with souring prog dynamics = man and songs in perfect harmony, a very powerful band.

Setlist

  1. The Arsonist – (War is Over, 2017)Von Hertzen Brothers 2018 UK Tour
  2. Jerusalem – (War is Over, 2017)
  3. Coming Home – (Nine Lives, 2013)
  4. Kiss a Wish – (Approach, 2006)
  5. Sunday Child – (New Day Rising, 2015)
  6. New Day Rising – (New Day Rising, 2015)

 

A very enjoyable set, thank you, and I’ll definitely be catching up with you guys next time you’re in London.  I’m sure these guys would be fun to have a few pints with!

 

GUN

Scottish rockers Gun arrive all guns blasting (excuse the pun) at 20:10 and look like they are ready to “take on the world”.  I guess they were running late as they only had time for 7 songs so didn’t play ‘Fight for Your Right to Party’ as their planned last song, pity.  So, the tempo went up a notch to hard rock with riffs and solo’s abound, ‎Giuliano and Tommy trading lead slots.  ‘She Knows’ kicked off a rocking short showcase setlist with the band in full assault mode throughout their 35 min slot.

It would appear that Dante might have had a few too many sherbets backstage as he somewhat blurred his speech in between songs – he’d obviously had a rather good time backstage listening to Lee Kerslake’s tales!  Luckily, he remained quite focused on the singing and remembered all the words whilst leaping and bounding around the stage.

Is it me or is Giuliano looking more like Rick Nielsen from Cheap Trick every time I see them?  As always ‘Word Up’ gets the crowd singing along and bopping but for me the highlight was ‘Steal Your Fire’.  The twin guitars of Giuliano and Tommy impressed throughout with Tommy’s having the main solo activity probably as he’s more technical.

Setlist (20:10 – 20:45)

  1. She Knows – (Favourite Pleasures, 2017)Gun 2018 UK tour
  2. Don’t Say it’s Over – (Swagger, 1994)
  3. Better Days – (Taking On the World, 1989)
  4. Take Me Down – (Favourite Pleasures, 2017)
  5. Word Up – (Swagger, 1994)
  6. Favourite Pleasures – (Favourite Pleasures, 2017)
  7. Steal Your Fire – (Gallus, 1992)
  8. Shame on You – (Taking on the World, 1989)

 

Eight songs, crash bang wallop and they were gone to party hard😊.  It certainly blew the cobwebs off the crowd who responded in kind with great applause.

Reviewed by Marko [16 Dec 2018]

Uriah Heep concert review, Shepherds Bush Empire London – 14 Dec 2018

Uriah Heep in concert with support from GUN and the Von Hertzen Brothers.

Finally, almost 50 years after their inception I get to see Uriah Heep in the flesh.  Not only that but the support in the form of Gun and the Von Hertzen Brothers promises to be excellent as well, and all for £33 standing – surely the accountant got this wrong?

I kind of lost track of Heep in the late 70s and then my interest spiked again around 2008 with the wonderful ‘Wake the Sleeper’ LP.  Since then I’ve gone back and revisited a fair amount of their back catalogue and the latest LP ‘Living the Dream’, signed by the band no less, is proudly hung on my wall – the Pledge Music web site is great for this type of personalised memorabilia – check it out.

Of course, the years have taken their toll and now only the grand wizard remains from the original line up.  The current line up consists of some great musos and a typically in your face R’n’R frontman:

  • Mick Box – guitars (since 1969)
  • Phil Lanzon – keyboards (since 1986)
  • Bernie Shaw – vocals (since 1986)
  • Russell Gilbrook – drums (since 2007)
  • Davey Rimmer – bass (since 2013)

The band come on to a sparse stage at 21:19 with a storming ‘Grazed by Heaven’ and play until 22:50.  Resplendent all in black designer gear, love the custom built trousers guys they look every bit a R’n’R band.  At the time of writing Mick is 71, Phil 68, and Bernie 62 are accompanied by the youngsters Russell 54 and Davey a.k.a ‘Diablo’ 50 😊.

Based on what I witnessed tonight prog hard rock lords Uriah Heep are still a musical force to be reckoned with.  Heep were on top form and the home London crowd lapped up every second of a thoroughly enjoyable gig.  If the band’s having fun the ‘buzz’ seeps into the audience and hey everyone’s happy!

As I mentioned earlier, there were no gimmicks, no fancy backdrops or lighting basically nothing to detract from the sheer brilliance of the performance of a bunch of seasoned pro’s at the top of their game.  The sound was crisp and clear and not overly too loud – a good thing given a sizeable chunk of the audience were past the 50 mark!  Talking of the audience I was surprised to see so many ladies in attendance either on their own or with other girlfriends.  I was kind of expecting lots of grey haired/bald, overweight blokes wearing 30-year-old band t-shirts, drinking real ale etc. – tee hee.

In the end Uriah Heep let the songs do the talking, and what brilliant songs.  Of course, this tour is in support of their new LP so as you’d expect they cherry picked the best numbers and really let fly with the first half of the song predominantly from the Living the Dream’ LP.

The rest of the evening was given over to mainly 70’s classics such as their badge of honour ‘Gypsy’ and the always brilliant ‘Easy Livin’’.  A good balance between the very old and very new, however they missed out a good 60% of their back catalogue covering 36 years.

My personal highlights were Take Away My Soul, Rainbow Demon and the haunting July Morning‘.

Setlist (click on link to watch the video on my YouTube site in ultra 4k)

  1. Grazed by Heaven – (Living the Dream, 2018)Uriah Heep - Living the Dream UK dates 2018
  2. Too Scared to Run – (Abominog, 1982)
  3. Living the Dream – (Living the Dream, 2018)
  4. Take Away My Soul – (Living the Dream, 2018)
  5. Rainbow Demon – (Demons and Wizards, 1972)
  6. Waters Flowin’ – (Living the Dream, 2018)
  7. Rocks in the Road – (Living the Dream, 2018)
  8. Gypsy – (..Very ‘eavy …Very ‘umble, 1970)
  9. Look at Yourself – (Look at Yourself, 1971)
  10. July Morning – (Look at Yourself, 1971)
  11. Lady in Black – (Salisbury, 1971)

Encore:

  1. Sunrise – (The Magician’s Birthday, 1972)
  2. Easy Livin’ – (Demons and Wizards, 1972)

So overall the performance was flawless, it’s difficult to point to any shortcomings in terms of playing ability.  But you’d expect that from a band that have played thousands of gigs and work off each other.

Bernie was energetic from start to finish in that kind of ‘awesome’ American way – yes I know he’s Canadian before anyone pipes up!  Mick and Bernie were constantly smiling, Russel was beating the hell out of the skins like a demented Angry Anderson on speed whilst   Davey and Phil just got on with the job in hand.  Can I just mention Davey’s wonderful bass guitar at this point, the first time I have seen one with frets that light up in the dark – technology isn’t it great?  You could tell that they were all having a right royal London knees up which was wonderful to behold.  Bernie is a wonderful engaging frontman, has a great voice but knows when to go off stage to take a break as the rest of the band do their thing during the solos.

Now Mick Box might be 71 but he definitely displayed that he is both the wizard (the hair helps) and the magician (get the puns readers?).  He totally nailed the guitar solos all night especially during ‘Look at Your Self’ and ‘July Morning’ where he regularly waved his hand around the length of the guitar magically producing exquisite sounds with the other.  We were all in awe of his techo wizardy and I was still in a trance on the tube home.  Tonight, ladies and Gentlemen Uriah Heep were a sheer joy to behold.  Plus as Mick said “back home, cup of tea and a pint, ‘appy days!”.

Lee Kerslake the original drummer was the surprise guest for ‘Lady in Black’.  You could instantly tell the camaraderie between him and Mick, they obviously are great pals.  Alas, Lee has many health issues so it was good to get a glimpse of him happy smiling and messing about on tambourine, singing and helping out banging the skins.

Shepherds Bush Empire
Uriah Heep – Shepherds Bush Empire [14 Dec 2018]
Shepherds Bush Empire
Uriah Heep – Shepherds Bush Empire [14 Dec 2018]
Unsurprisingly they encored with ‘Sunrise‘ and ‘Easy Livin‘‘.  The tannoy finally burst into life playing ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ and the band duly handed their instruments to the roadies, and came stage front to applaud the audience and then threw guitar picks (yeah.. I got one from Davey as a memento) and drumsticks to an excitable audience.  A few self-congratulatory hugs and a big final bow and they were gone to rapturous applause.

Reviewed by Marko [15 December 2018]

Ian McNabb – Concert review – The Slaughtered Lamb London 24 Nov 2018

Another first for me, a new venue in London for an intimate gig.  The Slaughtered Lamb pub basement in Farringdon – sold out capacity of 120 people (with say 20 odd stools at the front of the stage).  As it’s a tiny venue and we are all crammed in seated at the front you soon get to know everyone around you.  Luckily yours truly arrived just in time to take the remaining seats directly in front of Ian (why do people not like to go near the front?) – any closer and I’d have been playing!  The venue has a low ceiling, small bar (yippee!), even smaller merch stall, is lit in pinky/purple haze with some twinkly lights smattered around the small stage containing a Korg keyboard and 4 acoustic guitars, of which Ian only uses two, mainly the black Gretsch.  An evening of stripped down classic awaits – Ian unplugged finally.

Tonight, is a mix of old classics and new songs from his recent ‘Our Future in Space’ LP.  It takes a couple of songs to get the sound mix just right – the sound man was sat at the bar all night, and it looked like he likes a drink or three – so that might have been the problem – tee hee.

Now I’ve seen him a number of times with his band The Icicle Works, but never this close and personal.  Ian walks on promptly at 20:00 in trainers, jeans, t-shirt, checked shirt and hat i.e. scruffy as always – he won’t be modelling for Armani any time soon 😊.  Being a Scouser Ian has a good sense of humour which comes out in abundance throughout the gig both whilst chatting with the audience and ad-libbing during the songs – well as he says “Bob Dylan does it all the time” or during ‘Heart of Gold’ when the audience are singing along and forgot the words “just as well I’m here init”.  He’s a funny fucker! – just check out the videos links further down.

So mainly guitar songs, some with harmonica and two or three at the piano.  He’s a prolific song writer and as such has a back catalogue of classics to pick from, a lot of which were played during his 2 ¾ hour set (with a 15 minute break).  My mate Nick and I thoroughly enjoyed the show and at £14 a ticket it’s an absolute steal – you should be charging a lot more Ian!!  It’s a travesty that he’s been mostly ignored (by TV/music press) or simply forgotten by the vast majority but at least he has a diehard fan base to keep him going.  He’s doing the social media stuff e.g. Twitter, FaceBook to keep his name out there and I suppose the only way to make a living these days is to tour, tour, tour and sell merchandise at the gigs.

I took a photo of the setlist but he didn’t do it in the order listed and added audience requests such as the encore ‘North of England’.  So, to the best of my 8-pint lager/Guinness knowledge he defo played these tunes:

Encore:

Click on the hyperlinks in blue to go to my YouTube channel where you can watch Ian in action (plus some very out of tune audience sing-alongs) – well worth the time in my humble opinion.

He’s definitely got a bit of 70’s Neil Young about him, another scruffy Herbert but a total genius.  And so a fitting end to a great night with the classic Young cover ‘Heart of Gold’ somewhat ruined with piss poor singing by the audience!

So I’m very happy, at the end of the gig Ian leant over and gave me his plectrum, apparently he’s never seen anyone giving it large to ‘Clarabella’ before.  Plus a signed LP (wot not on 180g vinyl or with a download code for the mp3) and photo with him – what’s not to like.

So ‘The Icicle Works’ are back in London in May 2019 – I’m just about to order my tickets!  Thank you, Ian, for a wonderful night and sorry about the singing 😊.

Marko [25 Nov 2018]

ps – He’s a genius!!

The Human League – Red Tour 2018 Southend Cliffs Pavilion [21 /11/2018]

The Human League live concert review – Southend Cliffs Pavilion [24 Nov 2018]

The Human League – Red Tour 2018 – Southend Cliffs Pavilion, 1st night of the UK leg of their Red tour.

Tonight’s gig was supported by Midge Ure’s band ‘Electronica.   A nice surprise actually.  Midge did a 45-minute supported by his Electronica band, dressed all in black.  Uncannily Midge and his drummer look like they were separated at birth, whilst the keyboard and guitarist look at least half his age.  The entertaining slot contained a mix of his solo stuff and Ultravox greatest hits, of which I knew most songs but had forgotten them in the mists of time.  And I learnt that he wrote ‘Fade to Grey’ for Visage.  These are the songs I remember:

  • I Remember (Death in the Afternoon)P1010058
  • Fade to Grey
  • Vienna
  • All Stood Still
  • Dancing with Tears in My Eyes
  • Love’s Great Adventure

Some nice guitar licks, pounding electro beats and an upbeat Midge.  All in all a good start to the evening – unlike the bloody traffic getting into Southend – queuing from M25!


Phil has been at it since the group’s inception in 1977 in Sheffield.  Nowadays it’s effectively a trio of Philip plus Joanne Catherall and Susan Sulley.  Phil, the only original member of ‘The Human League’, these days is bald with an interesting line in goatie.   As usual he knows how to wear designer cloths and look good, his tall slim svelte frame accentuating the numerous fancy costume changes throughout the night.

Tonight, Phil has the girls either side of him and the band mainly located within a square modular design (borrowing from the ‘Pet Shop Boys’ and recent ‘New Order’ style stage design).  It’s all covered in sheeting and enables the lighting and special effects to bathe warm neon lights or bounce around to the rhythm of the sounds.  It all very hi-tech – gleaming white stands for the Roland keyboards (detachable guitar style keytar ones at that) and electronic drum kit.  All supported by the nowadays ubiquitous computers running the show and background sounds.

My only complaint is that during a couple of songs the spots really hit the standing audience full on so frequently that it was impossible to see the stage without being temporarily blinded.

The Human League Red Tour 2018 banner2

Phil walks on to a crescendo applause wearing a transparent sleeveless PVC coat (see further down for a description of the band clothes) with dark shades and launches into “The Sound of the Crowd” – which we knew was coming as the band had already being playing a long intro into it.  The girls are made up to the hilt in the make up stakes (layered on).  Susan starts off looking like a cross between Princess Leia from Star Wars and a pantomime drag queen. Her hair is in a large bun which she later informs us is due to some backstage hair alchemy going wrong. Black eyes, rep lippy and long diamante earrings.

Surprisingly his voice is as it always was, he still hits the right notes which is more than can be said for Susan and Joanne.  Phil does the majority of vocal duties tonight, which the exception of Susan singing “One Man in My Heart”.  Alas, she can’t hold a tune to save her life, but she more than makes up for it with her enthusiasm, dancing and stage presence.

He might be getting on a bit but blimey he’s like a jack-in-the-box moving around the stage barely staying still at any point bar the odd slow song.  This is totally the opposite of Joanne who looked uninterested throughout, grumpy even.  Occasionally she’d lift an arm, move a leg, swivel the hips, walk about and sing backing vocals.  She even made her no doubt expensive outfits look drab in total comparison to the exuberant in your face loving it Susan to her right.  I’m not really sure what she adds to the band apart that she comes with the fixtures and fittings.

The majority of songs tonight are from their 80’s purple patch period and especially the LP ‘Dare’.  They are nicely interspersed with a smattering of post 90’s tunes such as “Night People” and “Tell Me When”.   In truth they do have a solid catalogue of gold to call upon.

The Costume changes

Phil

  • Sleeveless PVC see through raincoat with half a tartan kilt on his right hip and trousers finishing half way down his calf.
  • All in black, PVC jacket again!
  • All in black with a nice shortened bomber jacket with white stretch band, which he took off to reveal an excellent top with white sleeves emblazoned with diamante patches.
  • A dark grey pinstripe suit with embroidered pattern sleeves.
  • And to finish white trousers and a sleeveless shirt (orange front and white back)

OK Phil – where do you get this gear – Gaultier?

Susan

  • White dress/cape combo with flowing sleeves.
  • Black sleeveless dress.
  • Short black dress with cape and silver boots.

Joanne

  • White long skirt with white sleeveless basque style top.
  • Long black skirt with black sleeveless top.
  • Weird black cabaret style velvet top and short glitter skirt combo with flowing sleeves and a crown.

My personal favourite of the night was their rendition of “Behind the Mask” by the Japanese band ‘Yellow Magic Orchestra’.  It was so much better than the original version! I’d completely forgotten this catchy classic and it really got the crowd waving and moving to the beat.  The crowd by the way was mainly couples and groups of ladies I’d say 40-60 age bracket, reliving their 80 heydays with a bit of nostalgia.  ‘Seconds’ also got me thinking about the lyrics, not just a vacuous electro pop band after all.

Setlist (Click links to watch videos on YouTube)

  1. The Sound of the Crowd (Dare, 1981)
  2. Mirror Man (Dare, 1981)The Human League Red Tour 2018 [21 Nov 2018]2
  3. Heart Like a Wheel (Romantic?, 1990)
  4. The Things That Dreams Are Made Of (Dare, 1981)

     

  5. Night People (Credo, 2011)
  6. Seconds (Dare, 1981)
  7. The Lebanon (Hysteria, 1984)
  8. One Man in My Heart (Octopus, 1995) – Susan solo
  9. Louise (Hysteria, 1984)
  10. Human (Crash, 1986)
  11. Open Your Heart (Dare, 1981)
  12. Behind the Mask (Yellow Magic Orchestra cover, 1979)
  13. Love Action (I Believe in Love) (Dare, 1981)
  14. All I Ever Wanted (Secrets, 2001)
  15. Tell Me When (Octopus, 1995)
  16. (Keep Feeling) Fascination (Fascination!, 1983)
  17. Don’t You Want Me (Dare, 1981)20181121_203251

Encore:

  1. Being Boiled (Reproduction, 1979)
  2. Together in Electric Dreams (Phil Oakey/Giorgio Moroder 1984)

Loads of classic songs left the audience little room for any complaints.  They knew all the words and on numerous occasions just burst into life singing the songs for Phil (e.g. Louise) and especially for the ‘Don’t You Want Me’ where both verses and chorus were sung with almighty glee before Phil had even got back on stage after yet another costume change.  The encore took us back to the beginning with their 1st single ‘Being Boiled’ and then to top it off Phil’s 1984 disco style collaboration with Giorgio Moroder ‘Together in Electric Dreams’. Human League Nov 2018

And that ladies and gentlemen was that. House lights on, giant smiles firmly in place, quick sing-along on the way out and a scramble to the bar and cloak rooms.

Don’t you want me baby?  oh-go on then Phil!

Reviewed by Marko [22 Nov 2018]

PS – they know their crowd, the merch stall was selling mugs and tea towels 😊

20181121_192348
The Human League – Red Tour 2018 – Merch stand Southend 21 Nov 18

Mew – Live concert review ¦ Barbican Centre, London [20 October 2018]

Mew – Frengers 15th Anniversary World Tour

Firstly, a bit of background for the readers 😊.

Mew are one of the few bands that I came to like based on the strength of an album cover alone – yes folks it was Frengers – I saw it, loved the cover, bought the CD and really liked the strange noises I heard – been a fan ever since.  I’d really been looking forward to this gig as finally I get to see them in the flesh, plus the added bonus I get to see the band perform this unique LP in its entirety! The stars must have aligned.  To me Mew are both weird and wonderful in equal measures.

So, for me Mew are “playing all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order 😊” (thanks to Eric Morecambe for that useable quote).  Sometimes it is just a cacophony of odd noises, weirdness and then a nice tune breaks out.  It all kind of fits together nicely with Jonas’ beautiful high voice. I’m at a bit of a loss as to where to categorise them so I’m gonna stick them in the Bjork camp of ‘one of a kind, listen to the sound of their own drum’.  It’s beautifully melodic in parts, atmospheric, hauntingly experimental yet distorted by vocals and instruments.  To me in sections it sounds like they are playing an LP backwards – the song ‘Special’ is a classic example of this.  Even the close harmonies seem to be battling against the flow.  In fairness, without the lyrics, you’d be hard pressed to work out what Jonas is singing about for the most part.

The Barbican is a brilliant place for sound.  I’ve seen so many gigs where the mix has been appalling – not so with the posh surroundings of barbican which is built for the delicate sound of an orchestra.  In the circle seats the buildings strange shape distinctly helped the acoustics, with the band coming through extremely loud and clear!  Can I also add that the seating is big and cosy and posh aimed at the classical music brigade and certainly not the great unwashed R’n’R audience (well not in this case, you’ll have to read on to find out why now!!).

Mew sold out the evening show and decided to do a Matinee show as well, which is the one I had tickets for.  From my seating you could tell that the stalls were pretty much full but the dress circle and upper circle were half empty.  Set 1 covered a smattering of songs from their back catalogue (see set list) and lasted about 37 minutes (a kind of ‘best of’ Mew selection).  There was a 20-minute interlude followed by Set 2 which covered 2003’s Frengers LP in its entirety – another 50 mins.

Danish trio Mew are:Mew Logo

  • Jonas Bjerre Terkelsbol – Lead Vocals, Guitar
  • Johan Wohlert – Bass
  • Silas Utke Graae Jørgensen – Drums
    plus
  • Mads Wegner – Guitar
  • Nick Watts – Keyboards, Guitar

For this gig Mew were ably assisted by the Elysian Quartet/Phaedra Ensemble string quartet for added atmosphere.  And they stated the show with Jonas alone singing ‘City Voices’ almost in the dark.  In fact, throughout the gig most of the set was extensively black and occasionally backlit in purple/blue/magenta/Red hues and very rarely did you actually get to see the band.  I’m sure they spent an awful lot on lighting, but for me it didn’t quite work.  Apart from being way too dark, the floor spots were angled in the wrong positions often blinding the audience in the circles.  As my wife said afterwards “if they were stood next to me I wouldn’t recognise them”.  After the first couple of songs they employed the huge backscreen to decent effect to envisage the songs.  Some interesting graphics and images to go with Jonas’ songs.  I particularly liked the ‘King Christian’ imagery.

There was minimal audience interaction from Jonas, with the occasional “thanks you so much”, and it was left to Johan to do a short synopsis of Frengers (a combination of the words ‘friend’ and ‘stranger’ – well you learn something new every day eh!).   To summarise – it was released when the band had moved to London in 2003 and the 15th anniversary shows here revived great memories for them and they were really appreciative to the audience for their enthusiasm and support.

Now that brings me back to the audience.  A mix of all ages/genders up to say 65 (some parents brought their young kids) but predominantly 20-45 age bracket.  In the main it was couples and I hate to be stereotypical but this was predominantly a wine drinking ‘middle-class’ audience.  There you go I said it!

The band were all dressed in black (to go with the black stage I assume) and Jonas was wearing some baggy pants that clearly had had an argument with his Nike trainers, not saying they were a tad short but!  For Set 1 the band were pretty rooted to the spot, but in Set 2 they actually moved around a little and occasionally formed a ‘Neil Young/Crazy Horse’ type huddle next to the drums and Mads went all rock guitarist when the music allowed.  Apart from that they were all pretty calm – hygge anyone?

Calm they may have looked but bloody hell did they make a huge sonic racket.  Silas beat seven shades out of his drum kit and Johan’s bass just reverberated through your whole body.  During the ‘Frengers’ set even Jonas broke out from his calm trance and gave the guitar a pounding.  Nick delicately played the keyboards and held the tunes together, occasionally strapping the guitar on to cover for Jonas just singing.  For me Set 1 was too short, it had some great songs but trust me Act 2 the whole of ‘Frengers’ sounds even better at full volume.  Hell, it was good!

Setlist Set 1 (click the link to view video)

  1. City Voices – (Frengers 15th Anniversary Re-Issue 2018,
    and B-side of ‘Comforting Sounds’ single 2003)
  2. Repeaterbeater – (No More Stories…, 2009)
  3. Special – (And the Glass Handed Kites, 2005)
  4. The Zookeeper’s Boy – (And the Glass Handed Kites, 2005)
  5. Satellites – (+ – , 2015)
  6. Interview the Girls – (+ – , 2015)
  7. King Christian – (Half the World Is Watching Me, 2000)
  8. Louise Louisa – (And the Glass Handed Kites, 2005)

Mew Frengers 15 Anniversary World Tour [20 Oct 2018] Barbican


Set 2
*  (Frengers, 2003)

  1. Am I Wry? No*
  2. 156*
  3. Snow Brigade*
  4. Symmetry*
  5. Behind the Drapes*
  6. Her Voice Is Beyond Her Years*
  7. Eight Flew Over, One Was Destroyed*
  8. She Came Home for Christmas*
  9. She Spider*
  10. Comforting Sounds*

And so, the gig ended with the soaring mini-epic of the majestic ‘Comforting Sounds’.   Nick and Jonas start alone with the rest of the band gradually drifting back on stage to build up to the songs repetitive crescendo.  A glacially work of art indeed!  The audience as one rise to their feet to applaud this epic song and the show as a whole.  Rapturous applause follow until the house lights are turned on (I think I actually managed a proper glimpse of the band at this point 😊).

A wonderful late afternoon’s entertainment, plus the added benefit of being able to take my wife out for a lovely vegan meal/glass of wine at The Ned (Bank tube) after the show and still get home at a reasonable hour – all very middle class!

Mew are unique, and obviously their record company let them do whatever they damn like which is just great – who wants the same old stuff being regurgitated.  It may not make them rich but it connects with their eclectic fanbase.  Come back soon chaps!

Article by: Marko Jergic [21 October 2018]
Ps – the only other time I saw a matinee show was Genesis in 1977 (Leicester) on the ‘Wind and Wuthering’ tour.