Review: Pet Shop Boys concert [22 May 2022] O2 London gig

The 2 year pandemic delayed Dreamworld greatest hits tour was an interesting 1 hour 50 minute visual spectacle to a packed and colourful O2 arena audience.  I’d forgotten just how many hits these chaps have had, some much greater than others.  The audience was predominantly 50+ an eclectic mix of the overtly camp, housewives, old couples, gangs of girls dressed up for the occasion.  The majority of the all seated crowd spent the shows entirety on their feet dancing away merrily – I witnessed some great moves in front of me from a couple of elderly ladies who looked quite frumpy but were totally away with the music.

Neil started by saying “In Dreamworld being boring is a sin” – very cute! – and they proceeded to ensure that we all had a damn good time – whether dancing to the disco beat, raving or simply singing along clapping and waving arms in the air.

The first few songs were set to a sparse monochrome video screen backdrop with Tennant and Lowe performing under two streetlights.  A bare stage bar Chris behind a computer screen and synth.  Both dressed in white coats wearing strange elongated headwear (see the pics).  The backdrop lighting was also sparse with lots of white lines meandering across the stage and morphing regularly.  I though to myself, blimey they can surely do better than this, and right enough the streetlight props were moved and the curtain went up to reveal a much deeper stage with the bands supporting musicians and an array of multi-directional light panels, spots, caging and digital backdrops. 

Setlist (click on links to view videos)

  1. Suburbia
  2. Can You Forgive Her?
  3. Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money)
  4. Where the Streets Have No Name (Can’t Take My Eyes Off You)
  5. Rent
  6. I Don’t Know What You Want but I Can’t Give It Any More
  7. So Hard
  8. Left to My Own Devices
  9. Single-Bilingual / Se a vida é (That’s the Way Life Is)
  10. Domino Dancing
  11. Monkey Business
  12. New York City Boy
  13. You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You’re Drunk
  14. Jealousy
  15. Love Comes Quickly
  16. Losing My Mind
  17. Always on My Mind
  18. Dreamland
  19. Heart
  20. What Have I Done to Deserve This?
  21. It’s Alright
  22. Vocal
  23. Go West
  24. It’s a Sin

Encore:

  1. West End Girls
  2. Being Boring

Chris Lowe, in his customary Boy baseball cap, sunglasses and hoody after the initial few songs, was permanently hidden behind his computer screen/synth and was rather economical in both his keyboard playing and general movement.  He keep a low profile for the flamboyant Neil to take centre stage with his rather splendid and elegant costume changes – mind you he could have fitted into his silver trench coat at twice over it was that large.  Neil’s voice is remarkably intact at the age of  67.  He spoke little apart from a ditty about how ‘Domino Dancing’ got its name – they had little to do in St. Lucia in the evening and they played dominos every night being constantly beaten by a friend who would do a jolly little dance every time he won.

A lot has happened since the original tour dates so after a good old Cockney knees-up Neil changed the lyrics during ‘West End Girls’ encore singing “every city in every nation, from Mariupol to Kyiv Station” and dedicated ‘Being Boring’ to all those we lost in the pandemic. It was a poignant end to a wonderful nights entertainment.

In the end it was anything but boring.

Marko 23 May 2022

Review: Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy concert [26 April 2022] 229 London gig

The flux capacitor is good to go and the Delorean car charged up as we head back to the heyday of 70’s prog rock excesses to celebrate the 50th anniversary of ELP.  I could pretty much refer you all to my previous blog from 2018 – ELP Legacy at the Bridge – as I’m never going to be so eloquent plus the majority of what I said then still stands.

The band remains the same – Paul Bielatowicz (guitar, vocals) and Simon Fitzpatrick (bass and Chapman stick) – absolutely top musicians reinterpreting ELP material (plus the odd bit of classical music and a dash of King Crimson) without the keyboards.  Carl is now 72 but that matters not – he still plays like a demon and managed an 8 minute 30 second drum solo during ‘Fanfare for the Common Man’ – follow the link further down to watch all 13 mins of it on my YouTube site!

‘Peter Gunn’ opens the set in thundering fashion before my favourite ‘Karn Evil 9’ barnstorms into life.  Reminds me of DJ Alan ‘Fluff’ Freeman on radio 1 Saturday slot in the 70s as this was his signature intro.  Pure pleasure.

Carl steps up from the smallish drum set regularly to introduce songs and banter with the audience.  He still looks fit as a fiddle, as he says “you can see this body is built for speed and not comfort”.  He even does the vocals for a cockney (for the non UK audience that’s a London dialect) version of ‘Benny the Bouncer’.  ‘Knife Edge’, ‘Trilogy’ and ‘Ces’t la Vie’ are excellent.  The predominantly male over 50 crowd are soaking it all up and letting the music just flow through them, occasionally eyes closed absorbing the melody.  Carl, Paul and Simon are virtuoso musicians and I just love the way Paul plays every note with his mouth – he is so into the music and continuously smiling like “fuck I’ve got the best job in the world” – totally infectious spectacle.

Set list (click on links to view the videos)

  1. Peter Gunn
  2. Karn Evil 9: 1st Impression, Part 2
  3. Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565
  4. Knife-Edge
  5. Trilogy
  6. C’est la vie
  7. Benny the Bouncer
  8. Clair de Lune
  9. 21st Century Schizoid Man
  10. Lucky Man
  11. Tarkus
  12. Hoedown
  13. Fanfare for the Common Man
  14. O Fortuna

The ELP classics keep on coming ‘Lucky Man’, ‘Tarkus’ plus King Crimson’s ‘21st Century Schizoid Man’ which Greg Lake made Carl and Keith learn back in the day “we had to learn it, he already knew how to play it😊” says Carl with a wry smile.

Fanfare pretty much topped the night off – Carl going mad on the drum kit and obligatory gongs, with only 1 small mistake almost losing a drum stick – but hey it’s live and we are all human.

So how to sum up?

  • Enjoyable
  • Mesmerising
  • Stunning
  • Immersive

And I also managed to get a signed copy of the Tarkus LP.  I’m so happy, it’s proudly on my wall now next to my signed Tarkus drum skin!

The 229 in London is far removed in size from ELPs heyday but I get the feeling that Carl is just happy to play to any size audience and I’m more that happy to see them in a small venue where you can get up close to the band and simply enjoy the ambience.

Can’t wait for the next tour chaps.

Marko – 30 April 2022

Gig Review: The Stranglers – Academy Brixton 05/02/2022

The Final Full Tour 2022 – In Memory Of Dave

Finally after yet another twice re-scheduled date I finally get to see The Stranglers for the first time, albeit without keyboardist Dave Greenfield who passed away in May 2020.  Thankfully the band decides to honour Dave’s memory with one last final ever tour?  They are clearly still extremely popular given two sold out nights at the Brixton Academy – 10k people still want to pay homage to them.

So a set comprising a good mix of early classics, mid term gems and tunes from their new LP to showcase with their ‘family’.  The stage set had drums and keyboards raised about 5 feet above the stage with JJ and Baz stationed in front of each. The famous Stranglers logo emblazoned centrally on a huge backing canvas.  The lighting compromised decent enough visual displays with a number of circular and linear LED lights strewn across the stage.  It could have been more impressive.  My only gripe was the pink/red hue which a lot of the time played havoc with my camera’s focus.

It’s 21:00 on the dot when the stage goes dark and ‘Waltzinblack’ waves in through the speakers – as always signifying the arrival of The Stranglers (a bit like ‘Doctor Doctor’ with Iron Maiden).

J.J. Burnel the last original member now carries the flag for The Stranglers, but he doesn’t take centre stage at all.  Given the band changes over the years, ill health taking it’s toll, they have steadfastly remained faithful to their original sound throughout their career.  The newest recruit  Toby was hired from a Stranglers tribute band, perfect – he knows the songs, played them to perfection, and is a fan. He did Dave proud.

  • J. J. Burnel – Bass
  • Toby Hounsham – Keyboards
  • Baz Wayne – Guitar
  • Jim Macalay – Drums

‘Toiler on The Sea’ opened the set.  The bass and bass drum were mixed very high tonight, on overdrive in fact, and the incessant beat on certain songs e.g. Nice ‘n’ Sleazy literally travelled through your body.  Then ‘Something Better Change’ and ’Sometimes’ getting the hard-core mosh pit element bouncing.  The set itself was a good mix with more slow melodic numbers like ’Water’, ‘Strange Little Girl’ and ’Always the Sun’ going into audience sing-a-long.

For ‘Peaches’ Baz changed the lyrics to ‘I can think of a lot worse places to be… – Like down in the sewer, or 10 fucking Downing Street’ , nice brought a chuckle to my face.

The Stranglers Setlist (click on link to view YouTube videos)

  1. Toiler on the Sea (Black and White, 1978)
  2. Something Better Change (No More Heroes, 1977)
  3. Sometimes (Rattus Norvegicus, 1977)
  4. Water (Dark Matters, 2021)
  5. Skin Deep (Aural Sculpture, 1984)
  6. This Song Will Get Me Over You (Disciples of Spess cover, 2019)
  7. Nice ‘n’ Sleazy (Black and White, 1978)
  8. Don’t Bring Harry (The Raven, 1979)
  9. Strange Little Girl (Strange Little Girl, 1982)
  10. Always the Sun (Dreamtime, 1986)
  11. Peaches (Rattus Norvegicus, 1977)
  12. Golden Brown (La folie, 1981)
  13. The Last Men On The Moon (Dark Matters, 2021)
  14. (Get a) Grip (on Yourself) (Rattus Norvegicus, 1977)
  15. Curfew (Black and White, 1978)
  16. White Stallion (Dark Matters, 2021)
  17. Relentless (Suite XVI, 2006)
  18. Nuclear Device (The Wizard of Aus) (The Raven, 1979)
  19. Walk On By (Burt Bacharach cover, 1964)
  20. Straighten Out (No More Heroes, 1977)
  21. Duchess (The Raven, 1979)
  22. Hanging Around (Rattus Norvegicus, 1977)

Encore 1:

  • The Lines (Dark Matters, 2021)
  • And If You Should See Dave… (Dark Matters, 2021)

Encore 2:

  • 5 Minutes (No More Heroes, 1977)
  • Go Buddy Go (Rattus Norvegicus, 1977)
  • No More Heroes (No More Heroes, 1977)

I’m struggling to see how The Stranglers got tagged with their punk credentials, apart from timing and a few songs.  Essentially they are heavy synth and bass driven rock n roll band or even prog punk.  I think Walk on by sums them up perfectly – basically a wonderful reworking of instrumental section of The Doors classic ‘Light my Fire’ – these guys could always play their instruments as opposed to the original punks circa 1976 – wonderful keyboards and guitar solos.

‘Peaches’ and ‘Golden Brown’ – the band’s most widely acclaimed singles – were played back-to-back, the crowd ecstatic and a highlight of the night.  ‘Hanging Around’ finished the set off perfectly, prior to two encores.  The first comprised just JJ and Bas on guitars for two quiet stripped down tracks ‘The Lines’ and the heartfelt tribute to Dave Greenfield with ‘And If You Should See Dave’.  JJ introduced the song “I’m sure every family has been impacted by what’s been happening in the last 2 years in some form or another.  And we consider ourselves as a Stranglers family.  When you have known someone as long as 45 years like Dave it’s a huge huge empty space’.

The second encore harped back to 1977 and gave the crowd what they wanted a good old bop in the mosh pit.  The band finished on a big high.

Admittedly, there’s a sense of magic that’s sometimes lost when bands perform without their original line-ups.  Did they suffer?  I’ll never know as I never saw them back in the day.  Tonight they were an experienced set of musicians doing a professional well drilled set.  Dave would have approved.

Gig Review: Ruts DC

The openers for this tour are the well versed punk/reggae inspired Ruts DC, and long time mates of the band.

Ruts DC Setlist

  1. Something That I said
  2. S.U.S.
  3. You’re Just A
  4. It Was Cold
  5. Kill The Pain
  6. West One (Shine on Me)
  7. Born Innocent
  8. Jah War
  9. Rude Boys
  10. In A Rut
  11. Babylon’s Burning
  12. Psychic Attack

The Ruts did a well appreciated 45 min set.  The venue near capacity was a testament to their London punk credentials and popularity.  John and Leigh were dressed pretty sharpish both with proper Fedora hats whilst Dave did his best to look like a scruffy Fred Elliot of Coronation St 😊😊.

The band kicked off with ‘Something That I Said’ and ‘SuS’.  Now I must admit I know knew a couple of their songs and was surprised with the number of blistering solo’s performed by Leigh Heggarty on his black Gibson Les Paul.  Wow all those big solo’s on punk songs! The set was well received, and I aprticualrily liked the reggae inspired mid set numbers.  Dave started most songs off with a simple 1234 bish bash bosh.  The trio played well, energetic throughout and the crowd were very appreciative.

‘In a Rut’ and ‘Babylon’s Burning’ got widespread singing and bouncing in the mini mosh center front.  They were well worth their 45 mins.

Marko 6 Feb 2022

Live Review: Theatre of Hate – 229 The Venue London [19/12/2021]

Theatre of Hate in comparison to their support band Spizzenergi were very much the dark side of post punk.  Their music is cold, heavy, bleak, desolate and unyielding (reminds me of a northern industrial town in 19th century), and I haven’t even got to the lyrics 😊 but for all that has many merits!

A quick 10 date ‘A Thing of Beauty’ tour 2021 ends in London – well you gotta move fast these days else we will be in another covid induced lockdown before you know it!

The band is stable these days – supporting Kirk is his original bass player Stan Stammers (resplendent in his Clockwork Orange-esque bowler and naughty t-shirt), guitarist Adrian Portas, Clive Osbourne on Sax and drummer Chris Bell – the band are as close to as good as it will ever get I suspect.  A tight knit unit.

Kirk is still the leader but tonight was carrying a recently sustained knee injury so less able to strut his stuff, no matter though coz Stan more than made up for it with his wonderful full frontal bass attack stomping about the stage whilst Adrian and John were rooted stage right.  I can’t think of any other band that has this unique noise (especially Clive’s eerie Sax), melodies that plough their own ghostly furrow, which is even more surprising given Kirk’s other more popular band Spear of Destiny sound far more accessible.

In the main the atmosphere was good natured although it nearly went off in the mini mosh pit a couple of times. Luckily there was plenty of room (lots of covid absentees I suspect) for everyone to find their place and enjoy the gig in their own way.  Theatre of Hate have a small but loyal following.  The crowd was male prominent and certainly a motley collection of various non-conformist types to whom the music speaks volumes.  Who wants to be a normal? 

Tonight’s set is half rooted at the beginning in the early 80s interspersed with his new Japanese titled output since 2016 (refer to the setlist).  Admittedly I’m not too familiar with all the songs on tonight’s bill but it’s easy to tell all songs were penned from the same mind, the newer songs sequence perfectly.  Theatre of Hate are as relevant now as back in the day still flying the post-punk wave vibrantly.

Setlist (click on link to watch the video on YouTube)

  1. Black Irony – (Kinshi, 2016)
  2. 63 – (Do You Believe in the West World, 1982)
  3. Solace – (Utsukushi-sa / A Thing of Beauty, 2020)
  4. A Thing of Beauty – (Utsukushi-sa / A Thing of Beauty, 2020)
  5. My Own Invention – (Live from the Lyceum, 1981)
  6. For Whom the Bells Toll – (Utsukushi-sa / A Thing of Beauty, 2020)
  7. Original Sin – (7” Single, 1980)
  8. Poppies – (He Who Dares Wins, 1982)
  9. Pariah – (Utsukushi-sa / A Thing of Beauty, 2020)
  10. Do You Believe in the West World? – (Do You Believe in the West World, 1982)
  11. Girl – (Utsukushi-sa / A Thing of Beauty, 2020)
  12. Rebel Without a Brain – (7” Single, 1981)
  13. Freaks – (Do You Believe in the West World, 1982)
  14. You Can’t Stop What’s Coming – (Utsukushi-sa / A Thing of Beauty, 2020)
  15. Day of the Dog – (Kinshi, 2016)
  16. Judgement Hymn – (Do You Believe in the West World, 1982)
  17. Legion – (Sensou, 2018)

encore

  1. Omen of the Times – (Aria of the Devil, 1998)
  2. Incinerator – (Heiwa, 2019)
  3. Propaganda – (B-side of Westworld 7”, 1982)

Lots of the songs begin with a throbbing base and drums before the guitars kick in e.g. ‘Propaganda’.  ‘Freaks’ is introduced as a pre ‘pc woke’ song and from that point onwards the tempo was upped, the final songs with wailing audience sing-along participation.

Overall a very interesting evening out, and for the price of the tickets an absolute steal.

Marko 20 Dec 2021

Ps – I’ve got a grumble with Kirk – I DM’d him on Twitter asking for ‘Eastworld’ to which he said “consider it done”.  Did they play it – not fucking likely!! ☹☹….

Spizzenergi Concert review (229 The Venue, London – 19 December 2021)

Finally, 19 months after their last gig, Spizzenergi finally gig again, this time supporting Theatre of Hate.

And to mark this special occasion Spizz (Ken Spiers) finally gets to sing ‘Christmas in Denmark Street’ for the first time ever live on stage!  Plus, we also get to hear their new single a cover of Bowie’s ‘Valentine’s Day’ that captures the spirit of the original but with a new-wave front end. 

The show, starts in style, where it all began way back in 1978 with their first ever single ‘6000 Crazy’.  Spizz hits the stage all in Spizzenergi branded black cloths but lit up like a Christmas tree with his tell-tale glow in the dark scrolling text belt buckle, shoes and multi coloured rings (which are tossed into the crowd after a few numbers).  Obviously beamed down from the starship Enterprise Spizz was akin to a stick of radioactive Day-Glo about to explode (which is probably as well that he didn’t as the covid years have not been very kind to his waistline 😊.. ).

Spizzenergi were down to a 4-piece for this gig: Spizz, Luca, Ben and a new drummer but they sounded damn fine to me, loads of energy and playfulness.   Luca is reminding me more and more of Paul Raymond the late UFO guitarist in both cloths and hair, whilst Ben has a period Marilyn Manson cut with a rock band tattoos and stance.

Setlist (click on links to watch the videos on YouTube)

  1. 6000 Crazy – (SpizzOil EP, 1978)
  2. Shallow End – (Denmark St B-side, 2020)
  3. City of Eyes – (7” Single, 2014)
  4. European Heroes – (Do a Runner, 1980)
  5. Mega City 3* (7” single, 1982)
  6. Valentine’s Day – (Single, 2021 – David Bowie cover)
  7. Here Come the Machines – (7” single, 2017)
  8. Red and Black – (Do a Runner, 1980)
  9. Soldier Soldier – (Spikey Dream Flowers, 1981)
  10. Virginia Plain – (Spizz History, 1982 Roxy Music cover)
  11. Clocks Are Big – (Do a Runner, 1980)
  12. Where’s Captain Kirk? – (7” Single, 1979)
  13. Christmas in Denmark Street – (Single 2020)
  14. I Fought the Law – (The Bobby Fuller Four cover)

*  Released under Spizzenergi2 name

At the front the diehards were dancing away blissfully ignoring and putting two fingers up to the latest Omricon variant.  I sense the crowd was down on numbers given all the government doom and project fear, but those of us who turned up had a mighty good time, Let’s face it Spizzenergi are a fun band to see.  A bit of audience banter for good measure and then stopping ‘Virginia Plane’ in its tracks when we failed as one to shout the title loud enough – we were given 3 attempts to redeem ourselves however 😊.

‘Soldier Soldier’ would have horrified my American friends – Spizz kicking and stamping on the American flag (I think you’d be in jail if you did that in certain parts of the States!!), it is however a powerful chord driven song.  Obviously the crowd go into overdrive the minute they hear those inescapable bass notes that open ‘Where’s Captain Kirk’.  We get a choice for the finale – ‘The Model’ or ‘I Fought the Law’ – alas for me on this occasion the law won!!  All in all a wonderful 45 minute set and for the price of the tickets more than value for money!  If you’ve never seen then I suggest you do, you won’t be disappointed.

Marko – 20 Dec 2021

Concert Review: The Darkness at Southend Cliffs Pavilion on 21/11/2021

A last-minute look in Classic Rock magazine for bands on tour and hey presto here we are in Southend to watch the outstanding and outlandish ‘The Darkness’.  They have a short UK tour to promote their latest album ‘Motorheart’ and boy were they bloody good.  The entire set was a roller coaster of fun and frolics and packed with enough Rock ‘n’ Roll anthems for everyone – I’ve still got a grin on my face from the show, it was epic.

Steve Harris’s British Lion were supposed to be support but pulled out to be replaced by Massive Wagons, something contractual apparently.  However, watching the Wagons have to clear away their own kit after their short 30 minute set I’m guessing Steve didn’t fancy any of that thank you !! 😊😊.

There was plenty of standing room, a decent sized crowd of all ages, I’m probably guessing at 65% capacity, and seating probably 85% full.  Mind you as Justin quite rightly pointed out it’s been a while and a lot of punters are still very wary of going out to crowded places, he thanked us accordingly.

A stripped-down set with an arc of horizontal lights across the stage, dalek style lights on the drum raiser for Rufus and 4 Laney speakers.  Simple things that don’t distract the audience from the colourful and flamboyant Justin who more than makes up for drab backdrop.  It was somewhat different to the 8 Marshall speaker stack that Massive Wagons used.

At 21:00 the bagpipes start wailing as the band comes on and launches into a new song ‘Welcome Tae Glasgae’ promptly followed up by crowd favourites ‘One Way Ticket’ and ‘Growing On Me’.

Justin starts the show in a black cowboy style shirt and the biggest black slick flares I’ve seen since the 70’s.  Frankie wears a black polo neck and black leather jacket and trousers throughout the 1 hour 45-minute set. He must have been sweating under there!  Dan also all in black with a biker jacket, Thin Lizzy t-shirt and skinny jeans.  Rufus in shorts and t-shirt was buried behind the drum kit and hard to see, until his costume change but more of that later.

A very good stomping new song ‘It’s Love, Jim’ sees Justin top off proudly showing off his physique and countless tattoos.  There can’t be any singers with Lowestoft (a tribute to their home town) proudly tattooed on their belly!  For most of the subsequent set Dan starts the monster riffs and Justin dons the guitar halfway through for yet another stunning solo.  They all work wonderfully as a unit and Frankie stays in the shadows looking cool for most of the time!  Now that said in my eyes Justin is sort of morphing into Steve Tyler and I think Frankie and Richard Ayoade must have been separated at birth 😊.

Set List (Some songs are missing – click on link to view the video in 4k)

  1. Welcome Tae Glasgae (Motorheart, 2021)
  2. One Way Ticket (One Way Ticket to Hell… and Back, 2005)
  3. Growing on Me (Permission to Land, 2003)
  4. Motorheart (Motorheart, 2021)
  5. It’s Love, Jim (Motorheart, 2021)
  6. Black Shuck (Permission to Land, 2003)
  7. The Power and the Glory of Love (Motorheart, 2021)
  8. Solid Gold (Pinewood Smile, 2017)
  9. Friday Night (Permission to Land, 2003)
  10. Love Is Only a Feeling (Permission to Land, 2003)
  11. Barbarian (Last of Our Kind, 2015)
  12. Get Your Hands Off My Woman (Permission to Land, 2003)
  13. I Believe in a Thing Called Love (Permission to Land, 2003)

Encore
14. Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End) (Permission to Land, 2003)

There was plenty of banter with the crowd stage right with people shouting requests and Justin checking the set list to see where the song was – “Yeah, it’s the next one good call!” to Black Shuck.  Justin set a rod for his own back as they kept shouting Black Shuck for every song 😊.  Justin kept engaging with the crowd, he really is a great frontman.  Very comfortable in his own skin, an extremely talented musician, ticks every cliched box for Rock Star looks and moves and does it all with the biggest smile on his face – you can tell he just loves every moment of it.  There’s plenty of songs to show off his flawless falsetto, a couple of ballads and the rest is pure RnR genius.

Justin Hawkins changes to one of his trademark jumpsuits – this time a silver glittering tasselled number with a lions mane down the back, characteristic and unforgettable.  A lot of ohh/ahh noise greets the (3 times) spoken word introduction to one of my favourites ‘Barbarian’ – check out the video link – we were having fun!  The fun continued with him messing about in between songs where he starts playing a couple of Oasis riffs then a quick audience sing along to ‘Wonderwall’ – bizarre.  More sing-a-longs to ‘Solid Gold’ – you know all the rude words (tee hee)

The rude version of ‘Get Your ‘fucking’ Hands Off My Woman’ sets up the final falsetto song ‘I Believe in a Thing Called Love’ of the show, and it’s a while till they re-emerge for the encore.  The delay wasn’t to milk the applause as they all turn up fully dressed for the final song (it’s kinda near Xmas after all) ‘Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bell’s End)’.  Justin in a glittery red catsuit and Santa hat; Rufus as a Xmas tree (don’t know how he even got on his drum seat); Frankie as some fat fairy and Dan being the sensible one in a Marshall Xmas jumper.

At the end the band throw plectrums to people they picked out (inc. yours truly) and trundle off after yet another wonderous performance.  So, there you have it, The Darkness deliver incredibly catchy ass songs with wonderful riffs and leave grins on everyone’s faces.  A masterclass from a tight and highly professional band, no one leaves disappointed.  I will be back!

Marko – 22 November 2021

Must also mention Massive Wagons.  I knew little about them but a bit of Googling tells me that this 5-piece from Lancaster have 5 studio albums and were formed in 2009.  They did a power packed 30-minute set with the front man reminding me of Angry Anderson such was his pent-up energy.  Alas the noise levels were too high for my liking and I could barely make out what ‘Baz’ Mills the singer was saying, let alone singing.  The songs though were good enough for me to check this band out.  Not totally sure of the set but ‘Bangin In Your Stereo’ and ‘In It Together’ were top notch and they certainly warmed up the audience for the main act.  My advice to the band – give Baz a wide breath or risk getting your head knocked off with the mic stand – very impressively handled whilst going for his own rock star poses.  You did good chaps.

Review: Bauhaus at Alexandra Palace London 30/10/21

A sold-out Alexandra Palace welcomed back the original line up of post punk pioneers Bauhaus with open arms.  It was the Halloween weekend and London’s finest ‘undead’, resplendent in black, rose to the occasion. There were witches, Dracula’s, steam punks and walking dead in abundance, people dressed normally actually stood out in the crowd 😊..  The ladies (and a few blokes) must have spent many hours in make-up and hair to look as unique and good as they did.

Black was the predominant colour in audience, band and stage.  The usual spotlights and strobes flashing across the stage and cavernous hall with the odd bit of red and blue hue on occasional songs. The set basically covered songs from their heyday 1980 – 1982.  Dark, moody, and loud!

Bauhaus are: Daniel Ash – guitars, saxophone; Peter Murphy – Vocals; Kevin Haskins – drums; David J – bass

Prior to the band coming on stage at 8:40 the poor audience had to listen to 40 minutes of exceeding loud incomprehensible noise – image amp feedback mixed with the sound of an aircraft engine going into reverse on landing and the odd click of metal – atrocious!

They started off slowly with the droning guitar distortion on ‘Rose Garden Funeral of Sores’ and ‘Double Dare’ before the frenzied ‘In a Flat Field’ lifted the rhythm somewhat.  More dark and broody songs came and went and then the almost danceable ‘Kick in the Eye’ got the audience on the move.

In fairness all their songs are reliant on Danial’s guitar heavy solo-less sounds and textures.  None more so than the total classic that is ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’ a macabre brooding slab of guitar and David J’s basic bass notes driving the song forever onwards.

Daniel Ash looked a picture – spikey hair, loud sunglasses and bedecked in a sparkling diamante leather jacket and necklace with multi zipped leather trousers (his second leather top had fluffy purple sleeves!).  Pete Murphy also had a tight sparking top showing off his little ‘middle aged spread’ whilst David J had his trademark suit, red scarf and dark sunglasses.

Murphy enacted the songs theatrically striking the poses and stalking the stage, none more so than during ‘Stigmata Martyr’ when he enacted the Christ on cross scene next behind the drum kit.  An intense performance by him all round.

The set list is below – click on the links to view the videos.

  1. Rosegarden Funeral of Sores (Telegram Sam single B-side, 1980)
  2. Double Dare (In the Flat Field, 1980)
  3. In the Flat Field (In the Flat Field, 1980)
  4. A God in an Alcove (In the Flat Field, 1980)
  5. In Fear of Fear (Mask, 1981)
  6. Spy in the Cab (In the Flat Field, 1980)
  7. Terror Couple Kill Colonel (single, 1980)
  8. She’s in Parties (Burning from the Inside, 1983)
  9. Kick in the Eye (Mask, 1981)
  10. Bela Lugosi’s Dead (single, 1979)
  11. The Man With the X-Ray Eyes (Mask, 1981)
  12. Silent Hedges (The Sky’s Gone Out, 1982)
  13. The Passion of Lovers (Mask, 1981)
  14. Stigmata Martyr (In the Flat Field, 1980)
  15. Dark Entries (single, 1980)

Encore:

  1. Sister Midnight (Iggy Pop cover)
  2. Telegram Sam (single, 1980)
  3. Ziggy Stardust (single, 1982)

Encore 2:

  1. All We Ever Wanted Was Everything (The Sky’s Gone Out, 1982)

Murphy kindly sang half of certain songs at each stage edge for the benefit of the audience, and engaged them in the odd bit of singing.  He also played melodica and extra percussion for an extended version of, for them a minor hit in the UK charts, on ‘She’s in Parties’.  Murphy’s vocal performance was pretty darn good and held up well in the hallows of the venue.

Bauhaus closed, all systems firing, with ‘Dark Entries’ after about 70 minutes before returning to do a short stint of three covers (all be it classics), strange given they have many of their own songs they could have played, alas my favourite ‘Lagartija Nick’ was nowhere to been seen – a bit too quick in tempo I guess.

Then they tripped off and returned for a 2nd encore of ‘All We Ever Wanted Was Everything’ with Pete playing guitar for the first time.

Not much banter or sing-a-longs but the audience were enchanted, mesmerised and captivated in equal measure – all together now  “Oh Bela, Bela’s undead.”

Marko 31 October 2021

Patti Smith Review: Royal Albert Hall – 5/10/21

Finally, after nearly 2 years (thank you covid!!) I eventually get to see Patti Smith again.  She is much as I remember, scruffy long grey hair, minimal make up, slept in ill-fitting kind of cool clothes (I’m sure they are quite expensive) and although now 74 she seems to have looked the same for the last 20 odd years.

Howls of approval, from a near capacity RAH, as Patti walks on stage with regular stalwarts Jay Dee Daugherty and Lenny Kaye.  They are supplemented with her daughter Jesse on piano and son Jackson on guitar.

Patti has presence in abundance and her voice is unmistakable.  Physically still strong and emotionally connected to a devoted audience.  I still can’t fathom how she has become associated with the “punk legend and poet laureate” moniker as her music is certainly not of that genre, poetry on the other hand she excels at.  I guess you could describe her as an American national treasure.

She kicks off with ‘Dancing Barefoot’, then the reggae beats of ‘Redondo Beach’, dedicated to the late Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry.  In fact, strangely enough given her extensive back catalogue the band do many covers including ones from Rolling Stones (dedicated to the late legend Charlie Watts), The Who, Lou Reed, Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder and of course Them’s ‘Gloria’ which she has appropriated for herself.

In-between songs we get treated to lengthy monologues both informative and witty, to an entranced crowd hanging on her every word.  She talks about American revolutionary history, the founding fathers and political activist Thomas Paine and his travails in America/UK/France (he seemed to be imprisoned rather a lot 😊).  She jokes about her lack of sleep and the ITV3 detective shows that kept her going, ink stains on her sleeve just like Mozart and Beethoven at parties so she’s in good company. Says go visit Bunhill Fields where Daniel Defoe, John Bunyan and William Blake are buried and deals with audience questions e.g. “How do you stay so cool?” “Sorry, It’s genetic.”.

Set List (Click on the 5 coloured links to view the YouTube video of song)

  1. Dancing Barefoot (Wave – 1979)
  2. Redondo Beach (Horses – 1975)
  3. Grateful (Gung Ho – 2000)
  4. My Blakean Year (Trampin’ – 2004)
  5. Birdland (Horses – 1975)
  6. Blame It on the Sun
    (Live at Electric Lady EP – 2021; Stevie Wonder cover)
  7. Free Money (Horses – 1975)
  8. I’m Free
    (Rolling Stones cover)
  9. Walk on the Wild Side
    (Lou Reed cover)
  10. Ain’t it Strange (Radio Ethiopia, 1976)
  11. Because the Night (Easter – 1978)
  12. One Too Many Mornings
    (Live at Electric Lady EP – 2021, Bob Dylan cover)
  13. Pissing in a River (Radio Ethiopia – 1976)
  14. Land (Horses – 1975)
  15. Gloria (Horses – 1975; Them cover)

Encores:

  1. People Have The Power (Dream of Life – 1988)
  2. My Generation
    (The Who cover)

Highlights for me are the energetic ‘Free Money’, My Blakean Year, the era defining ‘Gloria’ and ‘Pissing In a River’. Lowlight was a rather listless version of ‘I’m Free’ from Lenny.  

She commands centre stage for the entire concert, elegantly reciting or stomping with arms flailing – a mighty presence to behold.  For the quieter songs her voice is gravelly yet monolithic.  Luckily the sound at the RAH was relatively modest for a gig and she was never drowned out by guitars or drums.   The set made up mainly of 70’s based songs from her heydays.  Mind you there are many notable exceptions which I would have preferred to have been played rather than so many covers, but hey that’s just my opinion.  A couple of mentions and two songs written by her beloved husband Fred Sonic Smith and loving interaction with her children during them.

Gloria got everyone off their feet dancing and stomping to the pagan/shamanic beat, a great way to end the show.  The final encore was a manic version of The Who’s ‘My Generation’ – the only difference no one destroyed anything although Patti did intentionally break all her guitar strings.  Very Rock ‘n’ Roll for a 74 year old!

An excellent evening – thank you Patti and your band.

Marko – 6 October 2021
Ps – the merchandise was shocking – only one t-shirt at £40 and it really was a piss poor design!! 

Concert Review Steve Hackett: Genesis Revisited 2019 Tour – Cliffs Pavilion, Southend-on-Sea [27 Nov 2019]

Now, before I start, I’d like to add that Steve is by far the greatest living prog legend, bless him for keeping the 70’s Genesis flag flying high.  He is ably supported by wonderfully talented musicians and has at his feet a prog back catalogue to die for.  Let’s face it Genesis were at the forefront of progressive rock music, supplemented by theatricals, and wrote the finest spine tinglingly (I think I just made that word up folks!) majestic songs with huge sonic landscapes. 

With no hope of the original members getting back together Steve is doing a sterling job of giving the people what they want.  Year after year his Genesis Revisited tours seem to get better and bigger and are selling out wherever he goes.  A testament to both his music and that of the prog masters. 

As for the band, all excellent musos to a man.  My only reservation is with Nad on lead vocals.  Great bloke that he is his voice certainly isn’t which is painfully obvious on songs like ‘More Fool Me’, the opening of ‘Dancing with a Moonlight Knight’.  He simply can’t hit the higher notes and his pitch is all wrong.  He manages to get away with it on the louder passages in songs where a strong voice is required.  He looks the part and needs to ‘let loose’ a bit more to become a more central character in the songs.  Some songs need to be ‘acted out’ so use the costumes and occasionally go centre stage?

My only other gripes are the drum solo (very 70’s 😊, and the absolute mullering of ‘I know What I like’ where the band kind of go for a long self-indulgence jam (think Neil Young mixed with a jazzy Steely Dan) – sorry chaps it doesn’t work for me.

Set timings were 7:45 – 20:36 and 21:00 – 22:40.

Another year and the ‘Genesis Revisited’ saga rolls into another gear and Southend is at full capacity to welcome Steve.  Steve is the torchbearer of the Genesis legacy, each year touring the world and to his credit constantly changing the setlist he plays for each tour.  The current tour pays homage to his past and provides a platform for his current activities.  The new stuff has all the familiar Hackett trademarks of melody shifts, insightful lyrics and delicate guitar solos.

The tried and trusted band of Nad Sylvan (vocals), Roger King (keyboards), Rob Townsend (sax/flute/keyboard), Jonas Reingold (bass/guitar) and newbie Craig Blundell (drums) are on top form tonight, each contributing fully on a note perfect night.  Also, his sometime collaborator Amanda Lehmann (guitar and vocals) performed for the 1st set only.

The show was split into two halves – kicking off with ‘Spectral Mornings’ and then onto ‘Selling England’.  Opener ‘Every Day’ is a rollicking tune with riff, harmonies and a solo to die for – a perfect start.  Steve played the majority of the album and also treated us to 3 tracks from the new LP ‘At The Edge Of Light’.   Steve engaged the audience between every song giving us a little antidote or insight into the songs.  He also liberally dusted off his fingers with talc – sticky business being a guitar maestro!  We had the D.H. Lawrence inspired ‘The Virgin And The Gypsy’ sung by Craig Blundell, ‘Tigermoth’, a splendid rendition of ‘Spectral Mornings’ with that hypnotic riff and then a ‘Foxtrot’ treat with ‘Horizons’ on 12 string acoustic. To finish the first half, the First World War inspired ‘Clocks – The Angel Of Mons’ – with an overlong drum solo that seemed to go on forever – sorry chaps not a fan.

Set List – (Click on the link to watch the video)

1st Set: Spectral Mornings 40TH Anniversary & At The Edge Of Light highlights

  1. Every Day – (Spectral Mornings, 1979)
  2. Under the Eye of the Sun (At the Edge of Light, 2018)
  3. Fallen Walls and Pedestals (At the Edge of Light, 2018)
  4. Beasts in Our Time (At the Edge of Light, 2018)
  5. The Virgin and the Gypsy – (Spectral Mornings, 1979)
  6. Tigermoth – (Spectral Mornings, 1979)
  7. Spectral Mornings – (Spectral Mornings, 1979)
  8. Horizon’s – (Foxtrot, 1972)
  9. The Red Flower of Tachai Blooms Everywhere – (Spectral Mornings, 1979)
  10. Clocks – The Angel of Mons – (Spectral Mornings, 1979)

Set 2 – Selling England By The Pound – 1973

  1. Dancing with the Moonlit Knight
  2. I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)
  3. Firth of Fifth
  4. More Fool Me
  5. The Battle of Epping Forest
  6. After the Ordeal
  7. The Cinema Show
  8. Aisle of Plenty
  9. Déjà Vu – (A Hackett/Gabriel song that Never made it onto the original LP)
  10. Dance on a Volcano – (A Trick of the Tail, 1976)

Encore:

  • Myopia* / Los Endos / Slogans* / Los Endos – (A Trick of the Tail, 1976)

 *Myopia is from ‘And Till We Have Faces’, 1984 and Slogans is from ‘Defector’ 1980

A 20 min break and the bit everyone has been waiting for – the classic ‘Selling England by the Pound’ – Steve’s own personal favourite Genesis LP.   From the opening “Can you tell me where my country lies?” to the off-kilter ‘I Know What I Like’ to the guitar virtuosity in ‘Firth Of Fifth’ and the totally progtastic ‘The Cinema Show’ the magic of the old days keeps burning brightly. 

I’d forgotten how wonderful an album it was.  Everything that’s great about prog is fully encapsulated in ‘Firth of Fifth’s’ instrumental section – dreamy.

Then Steve introduces ‘Déjà Vu’ which was written by Peter Gabriel and himself at the time but never saw light of day – a bonus track and rather lovely it was too.

The decibels turn up a notch for ‘Dance on a Volcano’ and the ‘Los Endos’ encore and that’s it, all over for another year. 

Steve is indeed a national treasure!  Keep going mate – the audience is out there and loving every minute.  Roll on ‘Seconds Out’ next year – Genesis Revisited just keeps on giving!!

Marko [reviewed 5 Dec 2019]

Spear of Destiny – live concert review [18 September 2019] ULU, London

Blimey, 35 years since ‘One Eyed Jacks’ was released – time flies eh!  I was looking forward to seeing them at Stamford Bridge (given Kirk’s Chelsea allegiance) but that sold out and the gig was moved to the student union at ULU – a bigger but much grubbier venue with a piss poor in-house lighting rig if my memory serves me well.

So, on a rainy Saturday my mate and I arrived just in time to see both support acts (see the end of the blog for my comments on these).   Off course the main attraction was hearing ‘One Eyed Jacks’ in full as it’s got some splendidly lavish tunes and starts off with a barnstormer ‘Rainmaker’ which had the mosh pit flailing about immediately the opening chords were struck.  Luckily, I was against the barrier, center stage, in front of Kirk so the majority of the crowd surges were not really a problem.

The band, dressed all in black, came on stage at 9:20 for a rollicking 1½ hour set.  Kirk in his signature 4” turn-up jeans and bleached blonde hair certainly looked up for it from the first.  ‘All the Young Men’ followed and the crowed responded waving their arms around and singing along in unison.  We then have a couple of more restrained numbers until the opening sounds of the anthemic ‘Liberator’ is unleashed on an ever-eager audience.  Wow, the place is now both jumping and somewhat sweaty.  Needless to say, we all got covered in beer spray from the mosh pit – but it’s a small price as everyone is having such a joyous time.  The songs might be 35 years old but they still pack a fresh punch and resonate today as they did back then.

Set List (click on the links to view the video on my YouTube site)

  1. Rainmaker – (One Eyed Jacks, 1984)
  2. All You Young Men
  3. Everything You Ever Wanted
  4. Don’t Turn Away
  5. Liberator
  6. Prisoner of Love
  7. Playground of the Rich
  8. Forbidden Planet
  9. Attica
  10. These Days Are Gone
  11. Rosie
  12. Grapes of Wrath – (Grapes of Wrath, 1983)

Encore:

  1. Land of Shame – (Outland, 1987)
  2. Medievalists – (Tontine, 2018)
  3. The Wheel – (Grapes of Wrath, 1983)
  4. Mr. Livingstone I Presume – (Tontine, 2018)
  5. Soldier Soldier – (The Price You Pay, 1988)
  6. World Service – (World Service, 1985)

Kirk is ably supported by Craig Adams (bass) and Adrian Portas (guitar) sporting his trademark sleeveless leather waistcoat with Phil Martini (drums) and Steve Allan-Jones (keyboards) and Clive Osbourne (Sax etc.).  All are in full flow tonight Kirk and Adrian swapping solos and riffs, and Clive adding haunting sax/flute to complement the mood of the songs.  Kirk kept the between song banter to a minimum but he did give us plenty of chances to go mental and sing-along.

Weirdly the set ended with ‘Grapes of Wrath’ – not on the album – but what a fucking tune!  The 6-song encore paid homage to some classics from the mid-80s plus the two stand out tracks from last year’s Tontine LP.  ‘The Wheel’ and ‘World Service’ raised the roof – marvelous spine-tingling stuff with Kirk conducting the audience in unison.   The band walked off stage to rapturous applause and a final bow from Kirk with a quick rendition of ‘Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner’ (everyone joins in) and he’s off.  All in all, a wonderful drink fueled evening!  Keep up the good work chaps, till next time!

The Support Acts

Feather Trade a young trio from America came on for a quick 30 mins providing a wall of noise.

It was good to see Derek Forbes & the Dark as the next support act.  This rather older trio of Drums, Bass and Synth, provided some 80’s pre stadium rock Simple Minds tunes which were a joy to listen to.  Brucie bonus, I got a broken drumstick!

Marko [1 October 2019]