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.

Suede – Live concert review [12 Oct 2018] Eventim Apollo, London

So here I am once again at Hammersmith Odeon (aka Apollo) to see the mighty Suede on their ‘The Blue Hour’ 2018 European tour.

Support was from ‘The Horrors’, a loud dark set throughout.  Lighting was distinctly purple, blue and black, from a 5-piece band all dressed in black in front of a black canvass depicting what I’d suggest was a version of the famous ‘The Scream’ painting.  It was a wall of noise, not unpleasant in itself, but each song kind of seemed the same – apart from a couple of slower ones.  The singer, doing his best Marilyn Manson throughout, could have been singing anything, you simply couldn’t hear him through the cacophony of keyboards/drums/guitars.  At times like these I’d question the skills of the mixing desk.  They did their 30 mins and left, I’d have screamed but no one would have heard through the ringing in their ears.  I did like the glowing pyramid thingy on the keyboard players desk – whatever it was!

And so, to the main act, 21:00 ghostly shadows appear behind a semi-transparent gauze and the band launch into ‘As One’ of the new album.  The entire song is played behind the gauze with the back-lighting projecting onto the band producing a haunting effect to perfectly match the song.  Suede were excellent throughout, but really this was the Brett Anderson show.  Brett certainly knows how to engage and transfix an audience, what a front man.  He swaggered, leapt, ran around the stage, got in with the audience on numerous occasions and used his mic cable as a prop like a lion tamer’s leash or swinging it around his head and body.  Blessed with good looks Brett was dressed in black jeans and a dark blue shirt and he looked every bit the cool ‘Filmstar’.  After the first few songs his shirt was drenched so he undid a few buttons to show off his athletic sweaty torso.  Quite what some people standing near me in winter coats were doing is beyond me (it was roasting inside) – the Apollo does after all have a cloakroom!

The rest of the band pretty much stayed in the shadows, enabling Brett to do what he does best.  They stayed pretty stone faced throughout in contrast to a constantly smiling over exuberant Brett who looked like he really was having a bloody great time with his 5000 devoted audience.  Brett’s souring vocals were ably supported by a polished band comprising Richard Oakes – guitars, Simon Gilbert – drums, Mat Osman – bass and Neil Codling – keyboards, guitars (looking increasingly like Thin Lizzy’s Scott Gorham).

The songs were a mix of old classics and new tracks from ‘The Blue Hour’.  In fact, 60% of the songs were from their first and currently last LPs with ‘Dog Man Star’ and ‘Coming Up’ also featuring heavily.  All the info is below courtesy of a quick Excel pivot table!

Suedepivot
Weirdly enough for a London band this was the first time Suede have played the Hammersmith Apollo.  Judging by the rapturous applause from a hysterical sell-out crowd it certainly won’t be the last.  Brett mentioned that his wife was in the audience and that occasionally she’d ask him about his death.  “Scatter my ashes across London.  Hyde Park is nice SW2” came his reply.

The band steamed through a 24-song set interspersed nicely with new and old classics, my favourites being: Filmstar, Trash, Animal Nitrate, We Are the Pigs and The 2 of Us. I downloaded the new LP and was frantically listening to it on the tube to the gig so as to be familiar with the songs.  The songs were interesting, atmospheric and catchy (future indie rock classics – mark my words) from the off but I did struggle to hear them properly thanks to the noisy Central Line!  Thankfully Suede made them far more accessible!  Near the end of the set Brett tried something different – he sang with an acoustic guitar and no microphone.  With mobiles aloft the crowd now in silence listened and recorded the occasion – I’m sure YouTube will be inundated with the spectacle.  Whether or not he was heard at the back of he stalls or in the circle is anybody’s guess.

Suede Hammersmith Apollo Set List (click on link to view video)

  1. As One – (The Blue Hour, 2018)Suede - Hammersmith 18 Oct 2018
  2. Wastelands – (The Blue Hour, 2018)
  3. Outsiders – (Night Thoughts, 2016)
  4. We Are the Pigs – (Dog Man Star, 1994)
  5. So Young – (Suede, 1993)
  6. Heroine – (Dog Man Star, 1994)
  7. The Drowners – (Suede, 1993)
  8. He’s Dead – (Suede, 1993)
  9. Tides – (The Blue Hour, 2018)
  10. Roadkill – (The Blue Hour, 2018)
  11. Sabotage – (Blood Sports, 2013)
  12. Dolly – (Suede, 1993)
  13. It Starts and Ends with You – (Blood Sports, 2013)
  14. Filmstar – (Coming Up, 1996)
  15. Metal Mickey – (Suede, 1993)
  16. Trash – (Coming Up, 1996)
  17. Animal Nitrate – (Suede, 1993)
  18. Pantomime Horse – (Suede, 1993) Brett acoustic solo
  19. The 2 of Us – (Dog Man Star, 1994)Suede 2018 tour [12 Oct 2018] Hammersmith Apollo London
  20. The Invisibles – (The Blue Hour, 2018)
  21. Flytipping – (The Blue Hour, 2018)Encore:
  22. Beautiful Ones – (Coming Up, 1996)
  23. Life Is Golden – (The Blue Hour, 2018)

The encore began with a Cheshire cat grinning Brett saying “If you don’t know the words to this, I don’t know why you’re here!” before the band triumphantly launch into ‘Beautiful Ones’ followed by ‘Life is Golden’.

Brett is the consummate professional front man.  The audience with outstretched hands mauled Brett every time he forayed into the enthusiastic throng.  The show ended with Brett going stage right/left with fist clenched beating his heart and smile beaming. We love you too Brett!

He was as energetic as ever tonight enchanting the devoted audience, encouraging them to sing-along, clap, jump etc.  At 51, with that cheeky boyish grin, he has never looked better and is clearly loving every moment in the limelight.   Suede were Britpop outsiders in the nineties and still remain so except for their devoted fan base. Tremendous stuff lads, certainly not dying off with a whimper.

So, on a balmy mid-October night I left the venue to head back across London in 18° heat thinking what a treat it was to have seen Brett and Suede working the crowd into a lather.

Marko [14 October 2018]

Peter Hook & The Light – Camden Electric Ballroom [28 Sept 2018] Gig Review

I want to start off by saying it must have been a bloody good night as I was nursing a hangover all the next day!

I’ve seen New Order in the past and we all know their shows are pretty hit and miss (more of the latter actually).  It’s been so hard to recreate the studio sound live for them, but technology has moved on and with a laptop and some funky software all is now possible.  I’m so glad Hooky is flying the flag for classic New Order given that he and Bernard have been at loggerheads for some long now.  It’s kind of like the ultimate tribute band but with street cred.

The current line up consists primarily of his former Monaco band mates inc. his son Jack on bass.

  • Peter Hook – lead vocals, bass20180928_202355
  • Jack Bates – bass
  • Paul Kehoe – drums
  • David Potts – guitars
  • Martin Rebelski – keyboards/Apple Mac

This show was moved from the original venue Koko due to structural problems – aka the builders didn’t turn up/finish on time.  And so, it was for the very first time that I ended up at Camden’s Electric Ballroom for this sold out gig (apparently it was 39 years ago since Joy Division played there and at the end of the first set Hooky said “see you in another 39 years”).  The venue is actually pretty decent, much better than I expected – even the toilets were good!  Now it’s just as well I follow Hooky on Twitter because this is where he posted the gig start times – in this case 18:45.   So it was a bit tight on getting there, having a swift couple in the Worlds End (a proper R’n’R pub) and a bite to eat to get there just in time for the start.  The early start time obviously caught many punters out as the sold out 1500 crowd was only say 70% full when we got there and over the course of the next hour it ramped up to full capacity.  And what a strange mix of people, all diehard fans obviously.  Certainly cross-generational/gender appeal, but also a collection of what I’d describe as anoraks.

Hooky has enough classic materials from the JD/NO back catalogue as to not need the services of a support band.  Each set is interspersed with a short break, not because they need one but because it’s been recorded live and you can buy the triple CD immediately after the gig for £25.  This gives the merchandising team time to copy the master tapes using a huge bank of amassed CD burners and assemble them into the pre-printed packaging.  It’s like a cottage industry back there!  Great idea Hooky, gigging, signed memorabilia and custom live recordings sold at venues is where the money is made these days.

Hooky takes the stage in a great T-shirt with a “World of Emotion” slogan, get the pun? and launches into a short set of Joy Division ditties.  My pick was ‘Warsaw’ – raw and powerful.  The rest of the evening’s entertainment is brought to you courtesy of New Orders ‘Republic’ and ‘Technique’ played in full with no inter song chit chat.  A man of few words on the rare occasion he speaks the first thing he says is “Fuck you Bernard” 😊.  The Light are predominantly a guitar band but the electronica alt-disco of New Order shines through courtesy of the Apple Mac.  Hooky has taken over vocal duties and as such plays less bass, which is dealt with admirably by his son Jack.  It’s a bit like the old New Order days when Bernard couldn’t play guitar and sing at the same time.  He’s got all the lyrics to the songs printed off and next to him and frequently looks down for cues which doesn’t detract from viewing pleasure at all – let’s face it many songs are rarely if ever played so you ain’t gonna remember it word for word!  He takes over bass duties for many of the irresistible riffs he wrote, and the high frets he uses have certainly trademarked his bass playing into a lead instrument.

The only drawback in playing LPs in their entirety is the simple fact that bar a few ultimate classic releases there are always going to be a couple of filler tracks on any LP.  In my opinion ‘Love Less’, ‘Guilty Partner’, ‘Liar’ and ‘Avalanche’ fall into this bracket.  My personal highlights were ‘Vanishing Point’ and ‘Temptation’ – stunning.

The crowd were pretty entranced for the majority of the gig, taking it all in appreciatively. Peaks of audience energy popped up every time one of the better-known tracks was played.  They however really spontaneously combusted during the encore which started with ‘World in Motion’ and the classic sing-a-long line “We’re playing for England {In-ger-land}”.  The floor bobbed as one and everyone sang their hearts out. There was no stopping the crowd now, ‘Blue Monday, Temptation and Love Will Tear Us Apart’ were all sung with equal gusto and the from the balcony it looked like a writhing mass of heads bobbing in the ocean. So that’s finally it, the venue bouncing and Hooky triumphantly raises his guitar above his head to mass applause.  He takes off his sweaty t-shirt, unveiling a barrel-chested torso (that gym membership came in handy 😊), and tosses it into a rampant crowd.

Joy Division Set (18:45-19:05) – click on links to view videos on YouTube

  1. No Love Lost
  2. Warsaw
  3. Leaders of Men
  4. Digital
  5. Autosuggestion
  6. Transmission

Technique Set (19:17-20:00)

  1. Fine TimePeter Hook & the Light - Koko 29 Sept 2018.jpg
  2. All the Way
  3. Love Less
  4. Round & Round
  5. Guilty Partner
  6. Run
  7. Mr. Disco
  8. Vanishing Point
  9. Dream Attack

Republic Set (20:10-21:00)

  1. Regret
  2. World
  3. Ruined in a Day
  4. Spooky
  5. Everyone Everywhere
  6. Young Offender
  7. Liar
  8. ChemicalPeter Hook & the Light - Technique-Substance Poster 2018 tour
  9. Times Change
  10. Special
  11. Avalanche

Encore 21:05

  1. World in Motion
  2. Blue Monday
  3. Temptation
  4. Love Will Tear Us Apart

Hooky is certainly doing justice to his legacy, and of course finishing off with the classic ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ – what’s not to like!  Overall an excellent trip back to the 1980s, full of desolation and energy in equal measure. Peter Hook & the Light put on a fantastic show, I’d recommend to take the time to check them out as it’s well worth seeing.

Marko [30 September 2018]

Ps – what with the show finishing by 9:30ish there was plenty of time foe a few more beers – perhaps not the wisest of choices.

PPs- the only slight downside was the lighting rig was pretty mundane.

Review: Iron Maiden at London O2 Arena: Gig Review 11 August 2018

UFO’s classic ‘Doctor Doctor’ announces the band will be on imminently.  It’s all dark and Churchill’s June 1940 speech echo’s around the arena supplemented by big screen video of Spitfires in action in the Battle of Britain.  Then the Maiden guitar assault launches with a gobsmacking ‘Aces High’.  Bruce runs on and leaps over his camouflaged foldback speaker, resplendent in flying goggles, leather hat and pants.  Out of the rafters comes a 90% sized Supermarine Spitfire Mk Vb replica that manoeuvres round the stage in mock combat.  What a spectacle!  The sold-out O2 went mental.

For the first 5 songs the stage is totally covered in camouflage netting, including Nicko stuck in his drum set alcove.  Are we going to see him?  Bruce only speaks twice, once after the first few songs to give us a stirring rendition of the sacrifices the young men of the RAF made during the Battle of Britain to give us our current freedoms and again at the end of the show to say thanks (see video link further in the piece) and drink some Trooper beer.  He mentions Luftwaffe Commander-in-Chief Hermann Göring thinking they were going to overrun the English easily – “well FUCK him” – queue great applause and much cheering!  “We have our freedom thanks to the brave men who fought in WW2”.

So, the first 5 songs are all to do with war and with each song appears a fascinating new curtain backdrop mostly featuring Eddie in one of his guises.  Bruce introduces ‘The Clansman’, a song about William Wallace (Braveheart) who “stood up to his oppressors” the English in this case.

Iron Maiden - Legacy of Beast 2018 UK tour

Generally, the sound was somewhat swirly and Bruce’s vocals were not to the fore of the mixing so often it was hard to catch the words – but hey, it was a spectacle and we all know the words off by heart anyway don’t we #Maiden!

Eventually Nicko appeared for ‘Revelations’ (some irony there I think!), well sort of appeared as he was hidden behind his huge multi-coloured kit which itself was indented within the speaker stack so you didn’t really see him at all.  Nor did he get much air time on the giant video screens, just as well he’s not paid on viewing time!!  We finally got to see him at the end of the gig when he threw in a few drum sticks and drum lids to the baying audience.

There are pyrotechnics galore, bursts of flame, firework sparkles, a hand-held flamethrower, vast models of Icarus and The Beast, Eddie the trooper mock fighting Bruce, a giant swinging noose, various costume changes (depicting the songs inc. a Dracula-style cape, Venetian mask and light, a large cross with bright lightbulbs that Bruce carried around the stage), gargoyles and a brightly coloured stained-glass chapel set covering all the speaker stacks and Nicko’s drum kit.  You had to really concentrate to keep up with everything going on.  Plus ever changing backdrop curtains.

Iron Maiden’s setlist at the O2 London 11 August 2018

Winston Churchill’s Speech

  1. Aces High [Powerslave, 1984]Iron Maiden - Legacy of Beast 11 Aug 2018
  2. Where Eagles Dare [Piece of Mind, 1983]
  3. 2 Minutes to Midnight [Powerslave, 1984]
  4. The Clansman [Virtual XI, 1998]
  5. The Trooper [Piece of Mind, 1983]
  6. Revelations [Piece of Mind, 1983]
  7. For the Greater Good of God [A Matter of Life and Death, 2006]
  8. The Wicker Man [Brave New World, 2000]
  9. Sign of the Cross [The X Factor, 1995]
  10. Flight of Icarus [Piece of Mind, 1983]
  11. Fear of the Dark [Fear of the Dark, 1992]
  12. The Number of the Beast [The Number of the Beast, 1982]
  13. Iron Maiden [Iron Maiden, 1980]Iron Maiden - Legacy of Beast 2018 UK dates

Encores

  1. The Evil That Men Do [Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, 1988]
  2. Hallowed Be Thy Name [The Number of the Beast, 1982]
  3. Run to the Hills [The Number of the Beast, 1982]

Bruce end of gig speech

The Band

All three guitarists interlock on most songs, each having a quick bit in the spot light.  Janick Gers swings his guitar around his head and hop, skips and runs around the stage like a demented imp.  Dave Murray and Adrian Smith are more stationary and stay mostly stage right and do what they’ve been doing for 38+ years with immiserate skill and professionalism i.e. play great guitar licks and solos.  Steve Harris as usual is dressed in shorts and West Ham themed vest and guitar strap, in truth he plays better than them (couldn’t resist that Steve!!).  Steve and Nicko hold down the tempo on the rhythm section like their lives depended on it.  All told a bunch of musos at the top of their game and genre!  I bet it’s fun being in this band.

It’s all held together by Bruce’s omnipresent stage presence – surely one of the greatest front men of all time.  He’s just turned 60 and his hair is starting to grow longer once more since his cancer treatment.  Sweat-drenched early on he never stops running stage left/right/up/down all night.  Leaping jumping and shouting his trademark “scream for me [fill in your city here] London” he gets the devoted audience involved and singing along to the classics.  You can’t take your eyes off him and his theatrics, so it’s good that he disappears behind the set during the extended solos to give the rest of the band some admiration (plus he’s got to do the costume changes).

The Songs

60% of the songs are from 1980-4 and the rest singular ditties from a smattering of 1998-2006 LPs.  Classics and some rarely played songs.   ‘Where Eagles Dare’ has the backdrop of the famous cable car scene from the classic film of the same name.  Their mascot, Eddie, appears only once as a 12-foot cavalryman, sword fighting with Bruce during ‘The Trooper’.   On ‘Revelations’ and ‘For the Greater Good of God’ the stage transforms into a stained-glass chapel.  ‘Sign of the Cross’ ushers in monk chants and Bruce carrying a large cross around the stage dressed like Dracula.  During ‘The Flight of Icarus’ a huge winged figure straight out of Greek mythology appears at the back of the stage with Bruce having fun armed with his mic and a flamethrower in each hand (aka doing a Rammstein).  And when a red-eyed, horned satanic demon appears you got to know it’s going to be ‘The Number of the Beast’ as the band play inside a mocked-up Hades.

Iron Maiden seem to raise the bar every chance they get, and boy did they spend some money on this lavish extravaganza.  A giant swinging noose appears from the rigging during ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name’ and the climax, ‘Run to the Hills’, goes out all guns blazing, lights galore and ends with Bruce detonating a massive TNT explosive.  And so endeth this brilliantly staged, two-hour rock show – a heavy metal opera of sorts.  It covers war, religion, hell and damnation (they must surely take on the 4 horsemen next!) all done in the best possible taste. This theatrical heavy metal show is a classic, it won’t be outdone – unless that is Maiden do it themselves – are you up for a challenge boys?

So, in my mind Maiden have totally out done any of their previous shows by pushing the boat out to the limit with this fantastic theatrical set.  It’s visually their most extravagant show by a country mile.  So, if Nigel Tufnel can get his amp knob to 11 (oh err missus)  then Maiden certainly ratcheted this gig up to 11 as well!

Marko [12 August 2018]

Ps – a massive thank you to AEG from whom I got free tickets for the gig.  They are a new client of my company and I cheekily asked if they had any spares 24 hours before the gig – you don’t ask you don’t get!! Two great seats waiting for me at reception.

PPs – they were supported by a band called Killswitch Engage.  Not for me, it sounded the same for every song and the only person that gets away with shouting on songs is alas no longer with us – RIP Chester Bennington.

Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy concert review [2 Aug 2018] ‘Under the Bridge’ London gig

Wow, stunning, exciting, powerful, electrifying, spell binding, 1hr 50 mins of total wonderment! 

As I’m writing this I’m still in awe of last nights performance.  Stunning musicianship from people at the top of their game.  As I went down the stairs I immediately saw Carl’s somewhat reduced drum kit (well it’s not the 70’s any more 😊) centre stage and that was it.  Keyboards? What no keyboards, surely some mistake?  Correct no keyboards!  Instead Carl was brilliantly supported by two outstanding guitarists in the form of Paul Bielatowicz (guitars) and Simon Fitzpatrick (bass and Chapman stick).  Add a bit of technical wizardry, and some hocus pocus black magic and you get keyboard sounds played on guitar!  Bloody marvellous, you can’t fail to be impressed.  Also, as I was to find out NO vocals either.  As it happens this didn’t detract from the show one tiny bit.  It was still mesmerising to watch.

Now then as is my want I can always see a looky-likey in the band and Paul looks like an early cross of Steve Howe/Steve Hillage and Simon has a passing resemblance to Novak Djokovic.

Under the Bridge, is a great venue (under the East Stand at Chelsea FC Stamford Bridge stadium) where you can get right up to the band.  It was say 80% full with grey haired and bald prog rockers of a certain age (yes they were all old enough to have seen the great bands in the 70’s) plus a smidgen of their offspring and partners.

Carl Palmer ELP Legacy logo

The band generated a wave of sound playing their instruments as if their lives depended on it.  Carl is no spring chicken at 68 but by hell he pounded the living daylights out of his drum kit.  Fit as a fiddle the bloke is.  They all looked to be having such fun together playing some classic prog tunes to a wildly appreciative audience. Paul in particular was constantly smiling (probably thinking I can’t believe I’m in Carl’s band I’ve got the best bloody job in the world).  I’ve always admired a guitarist who plays every single note with his mouth! His face contorting wildly to every note he played.  His technical ability is stunning and his onstage presence was infectious!  Steve, is a typical bassist i.e. not much movement, but hell can he play the 6-string bass and 10-string Chapman stick.  And then there’s Carl holding it all together with his years of experience.  He’s a powerhouse of complexity and energy – still one of the best drummers around!

They started with “Abaddon’s Bolero” in darkness until halfway through when the lights came on.  They then kicked into a storming “Karn Evil 9”.  Between most songs Carl popped out from behind his kit and introduced songs or gave us some anecdotes about his old band members, Keith and Greg who sadly both passed away in 2016, before once again disappearing behind the drums to apply sheer vigour pounding the skins.  Things slowed things down a bit during the complete version of “Trilogy”.  

Each band member did a solo (well it is prog rock after all!!).  Simon on the Chapman stick doing a medley of “Take a Pebble / Maple Leaf Rag / From the Beginning”, playing rhythm and lead simultaneously – wow!  Paul’s guitar solo was Debussy’s “Clair de Lune”, his fingers flowing across the frets like Tinkerbell spraying fairy dust all over the strings.  Carl obviously nailed his drum solo getting a big roar every time he hit the huge gongs behind his seat. 

He introduced a song Greg wrote, an extraordinary bombastic version of “21st Century Schizoid Man,” which had everyone in delirium.  The songs were chosen carefully i.e. ones without too many vocals but when he gave us the story of “Lucky Man” breaking them big in America I was wondering how are they going to pull this one off?  I’m still not sure how they did it with the instruments doing the ‘singing’ but they did with aplomb!  They wrapped it up with “Fanfare for the Common Man” and encored with a bastardised version of Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker” aka “Nutrocker”.

Setlist (click link to view YouTube video)

  1. Abaddon’s BoleroCarl Palmer ELP legacy [2 Aug 2018]
  2. Karn Evil 9: 1st Impression, Part 2
  3. Tank
  4. Knife-Edge
  5. Trilogy complete
  6. Bass Solo
  7. Canario
  8. 21st Century Schizoid Man
  9. Guitar Solo
  10. Hoedown
  11. Lucky Man
  12. Tarkus
  13. Carmina Burana
  14. Fanfare for the Common Man
  15. Nutrocker

The musicianship throughout is just incredible, exactly what you’d expect from a prog band!  I was astonished by the mind-blowing musicianship on stage tonight.

At the end, time for one last beer and then of to the merch stall and meet the band who kindly took time out to meet and greet their fans and sign stuff, pose for photo’s and chat.  Yes I’ve now proudly got a Tarkus drum skin, all signed, proudly sitting on my wall and am waiting to frame the pic of Carl and yours truly!

IMG_2939

The spirit of Emerson, Lake and Palmer lives on through Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy, as the song says “You’ve got to see the show, it’s a dynamo.  You’ve got to see the show, it’s rock and roll”.  “Ooh, what a lucky man I was. . .”.

Thank you Carl, prog royalty in deed, for keeping the ELP flame burning brightly.  Long may you continue to charm audiences.  I for one will be going again!  For £25 it’s the bargain of the year!  As my mate Nick said, “sometimes you’ve just got to put your phone down and watch”. 

Before I forget, the new band logo is just a brilliant bit of inspiration.  Keeping the classic ELP logo and juts extending the L to Legacy.  10 out of 10 for the guy on Photoshop!!

Marko [3 Aug 2018]

 

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds |Concert review | Greenwich Music Time [7 July 2018]

So, a couple of summer outdoor festival gigs for Noel and his High-Flying Birds in support of their ongoing ‘Stranded on the Earth World Tour 2018’ to showcase the ‘Who Built the Moon?’ LP.  Yesterday Scarborough today Greenwich and it’s England World Cup quarter final day!  Yes, you guessed 30° sunny, pubs open and loads of pissed up blokes singing “It’s coming home” all day/night – music, booze, football what’s not to like?

The gig is next to the Thames/Cutty Sark in the Old Royal Naval College grounds and we’re on the Artist guest list for tickets – it’s all about who you know right folks!!  Relax in the cordoned off champagne bar or for the paying punters a selection of overpriced alcohol in plastic glasses, long queues for the food stalls and dodgy toilets – it pays to know the right people!!

On a hot muggy night, it was pretty much a sell-out crowd (quite a few empties in the freebie area at the front mind).  Most of the mixed bag of old/young, trendy/hipster/footy attired audience were in shorts/skirts and had clearly had a few sherbets!  Although it was a seated event, no one was actually seated throughout the entire gig.  Up on your feet, bopping along to the more up-tempo songs such as ‘Holy Mountain’, swaying hands in the air and big sing-alongs to all the anthemic Oasis tracks. Nostalgia rules!  I don’t know whether I should mention it here but I preferred Blur in the 80’s.  I kind of guess that the audience was split in two camps, those wanting a trip down memory lane and those who are into his new incarnation.  It was certainly the memory lane tunes which brought the biggest applause and mass euphoric sing-a-longs.

The HFB comprise an 11-piece combo (bass, drums, 2 guitars, keyboards, 3 brass instruments, plus 3 ladies – singer, keyboard, and tambourine/phone – don’t ask!).  Given that 6 of the ensemble were used intermediately I’m not sure of their value to the gig.  Quite frankly Noel in a standard 5-piece band would have been quite fine.  Two of the ladies pretty much did nothing most of the time – how exactly do you get a gig like that – ah yes you know someone!!  The singer was had a pretty good voice but she was only used a few times.  I can understand the brass section as ‘Who Built the Moon?’ is a bit of a departure from his older stuff (mid-tempo anthems and Beatles) and has a funkier feel.  Good man, it’s good to experiment and try new things out.

Now I was lucky enough to be stood right in front of Noel centre stage. He was at his moody cocky snarly best.  The band came on at 20:30, finished at 22:22 and entertained the whole time.  Dressed in a laid-back short sleeve shirt, Noel’s guitar powered through a feast of new and old tunes and he genuinely looked like he wasn’t going through the motions. I’m guessing he quite enjoyed it but he’d never let on!  The backdrop video screen added a bit of sparkle though nothing majorly ground breaking.  Just as well coz the lighting was nothing to write home about.

He said nothing for the first hour, it was just song after song.  He then engaged with some of the audience with sarcastic banter “you’ve come over from America for this gig, bet your glad it wasn’t Scarborough – aka shithole”, “have you put two blow up swords together to form some scissors”, “hello sailor” to bunch of guys wearing sailor hats and a number of references to the football result and the constant singing in-between songs of ‘It’s coming home’ – “Seriously, though – it fucking so isn’t.  It fucking is not. It is not.”  Que loads of boos, he then added: “You fucking know it, and I know it.”  Obviously, the Irish in him doesn’t allow and English sentiment.  Mind you he doesn’t mind covering his speaker stack in a huge Man City flag – football still rules!

Set List (not exact order! Check out video links)

  1. Fort Knox [Who Built the Moon?, 2017]
  2. Holy Mountain [Who Built the Moon?, 2017]
  3. Keep on Reaching [Who Built the Moon?, 2017]
  4. It’s a Beautiful World [Who Built the Moon?, 2017]
  5. In the Heat of the Moment (Oasis)
  6. Little by Little (Oasis)
  7. The Importance of Being Idle (Oasis)NGHFB - Greenwich 7 July 2018 p
  8. If I Had a Gun… [Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, 2011]
  9. Riverman [Chasing Yesterday, 2015]
  10. Dream On [Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, 2011]
  11. Ballad of the Mighty I [Chasing Yesterday, 2015]
  12. Cast No Shadow (Oasis)
  13. Lyla (Oasis)
  14. Dead in the Water [Who Built the Moon?, 2017]
  15. Half The World Away (Oasis)
  16. Supersonic (Oasis)
  17. She Taught Me How to Fly [Who Built the Moon?, 2017]
  18. Wonderwall (Oasis)
  19. AKA… What a Life! [Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, 2011]

Encore[Stub] Noel Gallaghers High Flying Birds [7 July 2018] Greenwich

  1. The Right Stuff
  2. Go Let It Out (Oasis)
  3. Don’t Look Back in Anger (Oasis)
  4. All You Need Is Love (Beatles)

The drummer was excellent throughout starting off most of the songs to a 1,2,3,4 on his drumsticks and pounding down the powerful rhythm.  Bass and lead guitar (with the Paul Weller haircut) kept it tight all night and followed Noel’s every move slickly.  The keyboards simply added to the expansive propulsive sound with the exception of ‘Supersonic’ which was stripped of its energy and drive as Noel did it acoustically.  I preferred the more up-tempo songs, they are quite empowering.

Noel can certainly write a song that’s not up for discussion.  Anthemic stadium rock if you will.  So, a 50/50 mix of old and new, slowly moving his audience into fresh fields.  A few more HFB albums and I wonder if he’ll still perform any of the old Oasis classics?

The set ended with the mass singalong to The Beatles ‘All You Need is Love’ and Noel said goodbye with an assured “See you soon” – he might, he might not.

Neon Waltz (support band)

This young 6-piece indie band hailing from Scotland were surprisingly good.  It’s always a plus sign when you have a charismatic enigma for a lead singer.  He took a bit of stick about the football (tee hee), from a sparse crowd but those who watched and listened appeared to enjoy it.

They were a bit Courteeners/Vaccines in musical style and were pretty engaging.  Good luck chaps!

A flag draped over the keyboards XV Brigada Internacional No Pasaran references paramilitary units manned by foreign volunteers the Spanish Civil War. I’m guessing one of the band had family involved in this?

I videoed a couple of songs – check them out:

Marko [9 July 2018]

The Tiger Lillies: Devil’s Fairground | Review |(Wilton’s Music Hall London)

Off to see The Tiger Lillies again and this time as it happens a rather lovely venue that’s a real London hidden treasure.

So how to describe ‘The Tiger Lillies’?  Well unique fits the bill well, no body else does what they do to my knowledge.   Other good descriptions include: Brechtian, punk, Weimar Republic cabaret, junkie opera, theatrical, alternative cabaret, sinister, surreal, offensive and cult band!  Mix it all together and you’ve got the wonderful trio of ‘The Tiger Lillies’.

I currently have 7 of their LPs and as far as I can tell most of their songs are really stories dealing with the low life of town – prostitutes, pimps, drugs, squalor, death, sex, torture, murder, cynicism, gypsies, drunks, sadness, religion, hell, dark comedy, sin, vaudeville and underground culture.

Their core sound is accordion, double bass and drums and they hide their true selves behind their distinctive face paints.  Each tour, some different combination of the macabre.  Think Mexican day of the dead and you are pretty close.

They have always been a threesome, and currently comprise:

  • Martyn Jaques Vocals, Accordion, Piano, Guitar (since 1989)
  • Adrian Stout Double Bass, Saw, Theremin, Guitar (since 1995)
  • Jonas GollandDrums/percussion (since 2015)

Martyn, the leader and main song writer, sings falsetto very nicely and can shout “drugs” as well as any man.  Adrian, the cool one, hops about between strange instruments producing eerie sounds whilst Jonas, wild eyed behind his mask, tinkles away on the drums and assorted trinkets.

Adrian, if you are reading this please let me know where you buy you suits, they are bloody great!

Wilton’s Music Hall hosts a two-week residency with the group is performing their new album Devil’s Fairground plus assorted classics and audience favourites (as shouted out).

A full Wilton Music Hall was dimly lit and the small stage pretty much taken up with the bands plethora of instruments.  The backdrop was pretty not existent (which is strange as they are well known for their visuals), blank walls and huge red drape curtains.  Small blue and red spots in the background and white spots in the foreground aimed upwards at the band producing eerie dancing shadows across the ceiling.

The gig was in 2 sets approximately 90 mins with a 20 min interlude (this seems to be rather common now, or is it that both band and audience are getting older together and it’s not as easy as it once was!).  As usual, Martyn does not interact with the audience at all and we go from one song to another.  I’d have liked it if he had at least introduced some of the new songs and told a little about them e.g. ‘and here’s another song about drugs and hookers!!’.  The first set I’m assuming was the new LP ‘Devil’s Fairground’, which was being promoted.  The second set was some classics from their pretty huge back catalogue and then a few songs shouted in by the audience – one of the only times Martyn spoke “does anyone have any requests you’d like us to play”.  The only other time he spoke was to introduce the band!  I suppose he lets the music do the talking.  Some balls, fancy if they can’t remember how to play a request – but I suspect they only pick the ones they know.

The Tiger Lillies - Devils Fairground flyer front

Songs constantly swing between slow sad piano ballads to up tempo rowdy eastern European gypsy bedevilled tunes.  Me I prefer the shouty ones where the audience songs along “drugs, heroin, cocaine” and you can tap your feet.  The slow ones, good as they are, are better heard when you can listen properly to the lyrics – some of the voice mixing not being that great on the night.

On the night all are smartly dressed and wear hats throughout.  Martin dressed in black with a nice ruff and his ponytail bound and down to his arse.  Adrian in a great checked suit and black shirt and Jonas in shirt and waistcoat.  Faces all whited out with black in fills and I think Jonas was in fact wearing a Venetian mask.

Martin hops about between accordion, piano and the smallest guitar ever, I’d say 18” max.  Think guitar back to front with no body, just the headstock (bit at the end of the guitar where all of the strings end) plus a short neck with a few frets.  He still manages a good tune out of it mind.

The audience is as diverse as usual, there were even some normal looking folk there (tee hee), certainly not your average PC crowd!  Let’s offend and be damned!

Normally, I’d include a set list at this point but a few days later I’ve absolutely no idea of the songs played on the night.  Anyone help me out here?  Either way, it was a bloody good night out.  The band played brilliantly and the audience loved it.

The band legged it off stage at the end to get to the exit where the merchandise was. Thanks for the pics and signing the LP/CD chaps!

The Tiger Lillies are a law unto themselves – long may you reign chaps!!   For £22.50 I task anyone to find me a better night out in London!

Marko [25 May 2018]

Spear of Destiny live concert review [13 May 2018] 229 The Venue, London

I was kind of excited about this gig, new LP recently out (very good reviews), touring ‘Grapes of Wrath’ 35 years anniversary and at a really good venue.  Plus two support acts, the Crazy Pink Revolvers and Folk Grinder and all for £15 – astounding value¬!!

I last saw them in 1984 and ‘85 so it’s been quite a while and Kirk is now the only band member remaining (well it is his band after all) from those early post punk days.  Now if

Tontine - UK tour 2018
Kirk Brandon Spear of Destiny – [13 May 2018] 229 London
my memory serves me well their shows were always pretty raucous affairs and the die-hard fans know all the words and sing along drunkenly, the band play great and we all go home happy and elated.  As it was then, so it is now, nothing has changed much apart from we are all a touch older – greyer, balder or dyed.  Mind you that didn’t stop an excitable crowd having a bish-bash time in the mini mosh pit, all trying to keep their feet on the lager enriched skating ring of a floor.  The mosh got bigger as the gig progressed and I must admit that my mate and I were carried away with it all and dived in ourselves during the encores!  So much for growing old gracefully I hear you say?Spear of Destiny Set list - 13 May 2018 229 London

Kirk stated on Facebook that they were ‘gonna make a racket !!!’ at the 229 and I can assure you all that they most certainly did.  Right on time at 9:45 the band hit the stage.  Their 75 minute set consisted of mainly showcasing songs from their new LP Tontine (weird name so checked it out on that interweb thingy and it is apparently an investment plan for raising capital, devised in the 17th century – you live and learn) plus the Grapes of Wrath and a few anthemic classics.

Set List (click on link to view video on YouTube)

  1. Brighton – [Tontine, 2018]Spear of Destiny - Tontine 2018 UK tour
  2. The Preacher – [Grapes of Wrath, 1983]
  3. Flying Scotsman – [Grapes of Wrath, 1983]
  4. MK Ultra – [Tontine, 2018]
  5. Medievalists – [Tontine, 2018]
  6. Second Life – [Tontine, 2018]
  7. Roof of the World – [Grapes of Wrath, 1983]
  8. The Murder of Love – [Grapes of Wrath, 1983]
  9. African Proverb – [Tontine, 2018]
  10. Solution – [Grapes of Wrath, 1983]
  11. Grapes of Wrath – [Grapes of Wrath, 1983]
  12. Mr. Livingston I Presume – [Tontine, 2018]
  13. World Service – [World Service, 1985]
  14. Come Back – [World Service, 1985]

Encore

  1. The Wheel – [Grapes of Wrath, 1983]Spear of Destiny - Tontine @ 229 the venue , London [13 May 2018]
  2. King of Kings – [Dead Ronin, 2000]
  3. Liberator – [One Eyed Jacks, 1984]

I’ve not heard Tontine but based on the gig I’ll be purchasing a copy sometime soon.  ‘Brighton’, ‘MK Ultra’ and ‘African Proverb’ were instant hits for me.  It’s good to get reacquainted with Kirk’s music again.  He’s another one of many bands I like that really should have been much bigger.  Their 80’s heydays might be past them but they put on one hell of a show all backed up by damn good tunes and they have a loyal following.  In my opinion they are still a class act!

The current line-up consists of Kirk Brandon – guitar; Adrian Portas – guitar; Craig Adams – bass; Phil Martini – drums (looking like a refugee from Lords of the New Church); Steve Allen-Jones – keyboards.  This accomplished bunch of musos have played earned their stripes with plenty of other indie bands in their time and as such strolled through the set with professionalism, passion and enthusiasm.  Kirk and Adrian’s dual guitar show mixes single note sparseness with a sprawling soundscape to devastating effect.  Kirk kept the between song banter to a minimum but he did give us plenty of chances to go mental and sing-along on various catchy tribalesque tunes.

I rocked off back to the tube with the echoes of people singing ‘Come back, come back all is forgiven’ and ‘Liberate’.  All in all, a wonderful drink fuelled evening!  Bless you Kirk for still giving a toss!

The Support Acts

Folk Grinder

Great start to the night, two blokes (acoustic guitar and accordion) gave a great rendition of bawdy sailor days of the past.  A pair of salty seadogs evoking skull and crossbones symbolism – an enchanting mix of drunken revelry.  They dressed the part, the accordion player having more than a passing resemblance to Jean Paul Gaultier in looks and dress, whilst Koozie Johns (the main man) resembled the press-gang commander.

I’d never heard of them before but now having seen them they strike me as a mix of The Urban Voodoo Machine and Alestorm (symbolism/lyrics though not music).   I’m unsure of what they played but I managed to video a couple of songs which were pretty darn good – see the video links below:

Songs for a drunken ale house of yore with an interesting modern lyrical twist.  Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum.  I found them very entertaining and will defo check them out again.

Crazy Pink Revolvers

They are basically Stan Stammers (who he – ed) 80’s band, now recently reformed.  So why not renew your acquaintance with Kirk and do some support gigs.  Some of the songs appeared to be good but alas whoever was on the mixing desk did a dog’s diner with the sound.  Their look reminds me of a bunch of Michigan grease monkeys from those auto shows on cable tv.

Now it’s the first time I’ve ever seen a band with 2 bassists, with Stan on a wonderful 5 string.  Overkill?  I’m not sure it helped the overall sound or contributed anything else to the music.  I obviously don’t know any of the songs, but I’m sure they will get better with more shows under their belts.

Marko [14 May 2018]