Live Review – Stone Free Festival, London O2 arena – Sunday 19 June 2016

It was a weekender festival but I only went to the Sunday gigs and saw Wilko Johnson, Steve Hackett, Marillion and Rick Wakeman (there were others..).  Strangely only the main arena plus some VIP areas were ticketed so in effect it was open to the general public. As Wilko Johnson was playing the Indigo stage my mate came along to enjoy the gig (no he didn’t buy a ticket!).  If you want to see some decent pictures of the event go to this web site Stone Free pics – better than my crap work..
Overall the event worked but there is plenty of scope for improvement e.g. large screens,

Wilko Johnson

Lots of typical Wilko RnB guitar twanging, covering his musical career from ‘Going Back Home’ (his comeback album with Roger Daltrey) and finishing on a few Dr. Feelgood classics.  The tight knit trio know their stuff and Wilko looked his normal ‘wild eyed’ self using all his classic struts to move around the stage.  A great pub act!

  1. All Right
  2. If You Want Me, You’ve Got Me
  3. Dr. Dupree
  4. Going Back Home20160619_163630
  5. Keep on Loving You
  6. When I’m Gone
  7. Paradise
  8. Everybody’s Carrying a Gun
  9. Back in the Night
  10. She Does It Right

Steve Hackett

Steve Hackett (prog royalty if ever there was – even more so since he did his Genesis Re-visited CD/tours) and his excellent band did a short set of his own solo stuff plus a few Genesis classics – culminating in a spectacular ‘Firth of Fifth’.  Nick Beggs was his usual flamboyant self in resplendent tartan kilt and Nad Sylvan came on to add some Gabriel-esque 70’s vibe.  Great guitar solo’s and a band in total harmony – I’m sure they could do this blindfold!  A real crowd pleaser.

  1. Every Day
  2. Loving Sea
  3. A Tower Struck Down
  4. Shadow of the Hierophant
  5. Dance on a Volcano
  6. The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
  7. Firth of Fifth


Now I have not seen these since 1980 when Hogarth was just a Fish replacement and yes I lost touch over the years.  Marillion hit the stage with ‘Invisible Man’.  By the end of the song my wife turned to me a gasp at the power of the song and Hogarth’s performance (she was not looking forward to the entire event in truth, but now she is hooked on Marillion and their lyrics).  I too was in awe – in all the years and hundreds of gigs I’ve been too this was the best opening song ever performed – in my humble opinion.
We were quite near the front luckily and there were grown men in abundance with their head in their hands crying at the sheer emotion of their set.  This means a lot to a lot of people!

  1. The Invisible Man
  2. You’re Gone
  3. Easter
  4. Kayleigh
  5. Lavender
  6. Heart of Lothian
  7. Power
  8. Neverland

I’m now reacquainting myself with Marillion.  Thanks for a great gig lads!

Rick Wakeman

The main event – The first time he has played The Myths And Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table since 1975 (not on ice this time and hopefully it didn’t bankrupt him!).  As the original was on LP and around 40 mins long Rick has now reworked some songs, that never made it the first time, to extend the show.  The new stuff was actually quite good and complimented the original. However, that said this would probably be better off as a London show with decent singers.

Rick resplendent in cape stood behind a bank of synths and was joined on stage by narrator Ian Lavender, a full orchestra, the English Rock Ensemble and English Chamber Choir and his son Oliver, on yet more keyboards. Bless him Tony Holt’s voice does this ‘Sword and Sorcery’ masterpiece no justice at all.  He’s at best a pub singer, and this was the biggest down side of the whole set.
Rick’s keyboard wizardry is beyond compare – immense musicianship and compositional skill and dedication, the man is a grumpy old genius!


  1. The Choice of King  
  2. King Arthur  
  3. Morgan le Fay  
  4. Lady of the Lake  
  5. Arthur’s Queen  
  6. Guinevere  
  7. Lancelot and The Black Knight  
  8. Princess Elaine  
  9. Camelot  
  10. The King of IMG_2157Merlins  
  11. A Wizards Potion  
  12. Merlin the Magician  
  13. The Chalice  
  14. The Holy Grail  
  15. The Best Knight  
  16. The Contest  
  17. Sir Galahad  
  18. Percival the Knight  IMG_2160
  19. Excalibur  
  20. The Last Battle

A once in a lifetime experience. 

Marko 18 August 2016

Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie – Should have been much bigger!

I came across this much under rated (and alas not to commercially successful) band sometime in early 1989.  I got a freebie plastic disc that came from one of the music rags at the time (NME/Sounds) and the only track that got me interested was ‘Candlestick Park’ by the Mackenzie’s.  I insisted on playing it many times to my friends, but the heathens never dived into this band like I did.

Whatever it was it was enough to get me interested enough to part with some hard cash and buy the CD ‘Good Deeds and Dirty Rags’.  I was eventually to own most of their CD output.

This was also around the time when I was deciding on whether or not to buy a CD player, so to force my hand a bought a few CDs (they were indestructible apparently according to the hype at the time!!) without having anything to play them on.  I then bought a nice Denon to play them on.  The only upside I could see was the fact that I didn’t have to get up to turn the LP over every 18 mins or so.  I could lie back and use my remote!

CDs are ok but they fail miserably when it comes to classic albums like Dark Side of the Moon which need to be heard in one continuous no break session.  Listening to it on CD is infuriating.  Every time a track changes you get a momentary break and that’s it spoilt!!  I seem to have digressed from the original topic of this blog somewhat folks, so back on track.

Of the band members I knew of the tattooed behemoth guitarist Big John Duncan (ex-the Exploited) and still looking like he belonged with is old band and eventually most would have heard of Shirley Manson who went on to front Garbage.  And they were Scottish, and looked different and sang about interesting topics – the starting lyrics to ‘Face to Face’ are – “raped three times, raped three times, raped three times by the boys from the pub” – now that gets your attention!  I found out many years later that they gave the profits of this single to the Rape crisis centre – good on them!

GMM-bannerHey, no internet in those days, so finding out about them was almost impossible. It was the music press only then and given that they were ‘up north’ I’m afraid very little was written about them- small band, small label syndrome.  It’s only many years after they disbanded in the mid 90’s that I even got to know of their live album releases, which were promptly purchased!

Their covers were interesting too – check out ‘Fish Heads and Tails’ they look like a bunch of misfits or ‘Hammer and Tongs’ where they are all plasticine models.  Never mind that Goodbye Mr Mackenzie - Hammer&Tongsthe music was in the most part great and definitely worth checking out.  You may need to listen a few times, get the lyrics indulge yourself.  Check them out on YouTube – the only place where you can get to see what they were really like.  These songs are a good start point – track them down.

  • Blacker than Black
  • Good Deeds are like Dirty Rags
  • Face to Face
  • The Rattler

    GMM - Now we are Married single cover
    Now We are Married – 7″ single cover
  • Carlton Hill
  • Knockin’ on Joe (Nick Cave song)
  • Goodwill City
  • Niagra

I found this website in which they talk about one of their live albums – worth a visit!

16 Feb 2016

Goodby Mr Mackenzie - 1989 UK tour
UK tour 1989 – Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie flyer

Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel – my memories

So at some point in early 1974 Steve released the single “Judy Teen” which went to no. 5 in the charts.  I must have seen it on Top of the Pops (TOTP) as that was the only music show in those days, and as usual only the cream rose from the ‘middle of the road’ pap that we were peddled on a weekly basis.

They looked different and certainly sounded different, so on the strength of the single and the album cover alone I bought ‘The Psychomodo’ LP that summer. I listened intently, read and re-read the lyric sheet, poured over the sleeve notes and thought WOW – this is just great.

On March 26th 1975 I left on a school ski-ing trip to Italy.  On the journey to Luton airport we stopped off at Watford Gap services – and there I saw the Cockney Rebel tour bus!  The excitement didn’t stop there mind – I went to the toilet and my claim to fame is that I stood right next to Steve whilst having a piss!  Oh the glamour..  Didn’t get to see any of the other band members.

It would be many years before I finally got to see him live – 21 Jun 1980 to be precise at Leicester University.  I drove there with a few friends and got talking to some lads who had made the trip up from Cardiff (there’s dedication for you).  Memories are vague, but obviously it wasn’t the original Cockney Rebel line up – nonetheless a very good night was had.  I remember the hall vibrating to the echoes of “oh dear look what they’ve done to the blues, blues blues” for what seemed like ages at the end of the gig.

I bought a few of their albums in the 70’s but like most people he/I disappeared off the scene for many ‘wilderness’ years.  I finally got around to seeing him in 1999 at the Robin2 in Bilston, again with the same mates who had been to Leicester all those years previously.

I saw his Greenwich ‘homecoming’ gig in 2013 and had the pleasure of seeing the 40th anniversary tour of The Best Years of our lives at the O2 in London – with practically the original line-up!.  The man still writes powerful, reflective, thought provoking songs.  I managed to video some of this so if anyone is interested go to my YouTube site to watch him in action.

He is also extremely amusing with his banter in-between songs (at all the gigs I’ve been at).  I’d put him on a par with Rick Wakeman for that.

I’ve placed some tour posters, ticket stubs and press adverts on this site – so just check out the Programmes/Posters/Press Adverts page via the menu.Cockney Rebel 1973

Enjoy, Marko

PS – Here they are in 1973..  Nice flares!

PPS – Do you think the guy who designed the logo had a bit of inspiration from Roger Dean’s Yes logo?

Cockney Rebel logo






Sex Pistols – The Cancelled Derby gig 1976

Ooh the excitement, the Sex Pistols were coming to Derby again (having already played Cleo’s on 30 September).  Upon hearing the good news I promptly went down to the local record store R.E.Cords and purchased my ticket for the mighty sum of £1.60.  And they had support, the Damned, Johnny Thunders Heartbreakers (an ex New York Doll) and The Clash.  This was The Anarchy in the U.K. tour, and in solidarity with them I promptly ripped my ‘Never Mind the Bollocks.. Here’s The Sex Pistols’ LP cover in half (then sellotaped it back together again – well how else was I going to store it with all my other LPs?).

They were due to play the King’s Hall (basically the local swimming baths, they used to cover the pool so bands could play!) in Derby on 4 December 1976.

Unfortunately for me and hundreds more what happened on December 1st, 1976 would put an end to what would have been a great night out. The group appeared on the ‘Today’ TV show, hosted by one Bill Grundy (dick head!) who goaded them into swearing – now that certainly was frowned upon in those days – let alone the stream of F-words. Alas this was being broadcast live in London. The next day the press made them headline news all over the UK.  Overnight their entire concert dates for December were pretty much all cancelled!

Derby Gig Cancelled

All this publicity was far too much for the good folk of Derby City Council to bear – don’t forget this was ‘up north – the provinces’.  They decided that they should preview the gig to make sure it was ‘suitable for human consumption’.  So at the aforementioned hour (14:00) local councillors and press gathered at the venue where the Pistols had promised to preview a matinee gig for them.  They all waited for 2 hours in front of an empty stage (bar a guitar and amp) but the Pistols didn’t turn up! Angered councillors said that the Pistols would not be allowed to perform, but the other bands could.  Malcolm McClaren had decided that none of the bands should play, however the Damned disagreed.  After some discord the event was off, nobody played.

Well what’s a poor boy to do?  That’s right, take your ticket back and get a refund. After all £1.60 in those days was the equivalent to an excellent night out with a pint being approx. 25 pence!

Tribute Bands

You’ve just got to admire these people, and there are hundreds of them all over the UK, for devoting all their spare time (or their lives if they are doing this for a living) doing what they love best – copying their favourite bands. Luckily there are plenty of small venues around the country willing to put on a live show.

Think of all the hard work involved, leaning the music for every instrument, finding other like minded people (and quite often some in the band bear a passing resemblance to their heroes – weird that), practicing regularly, traveling around the UK to play, organising gigs, promoting concerts, web sites, thinking of the names (some are really quite good) etc..

The definitely have their place in the rock music cosmos.  How else would you be able to see and listen to bands who no longer:-

  1. exist
  2. tour
  3. have changed line-ups and no longer play the ‘good stuff’
  4. don’t tour your part of the world often

They range from the note perfect, total immersion experience of Aussie Floyd (that cost’s fortunes to undertake – but they make a good living out of it) to say Re-Genesis with their Gabriel era only music and DIY props.  Some even record and sell their live versions of songs such as Dirty D/C – who by the way are brilliant – I had my ears ringing for days afterwards!

Also it brings in the younger audience who can go and experience the sights and sounds of what their parents keep telling them was the best decade ever in music.

Over the years I’ve seen quite a few bands such as Nearly Dan, Dirty D/C, Re-Genesis, Free, T.Rextasy, Talon, Bootleg Beatles, Rat Pack, Blues Brothers, Australian Pink Floyd  etc. from pubs to small clubs to Playhouses to the Hammersmith Odeon.  It’s a relatively cheap night out and there are plenty of like mined people to chat to at the bar – and yes some really old tour t-shirts are proudly displayed (albeit somewhat tighter around middle aged spread!).

I found these two site: Tribute Bands & Alive Network whilst browsing.  They list various bands touring the UK but is by no means an exhaustive list and I certainly can’t quote on the quality of the acts! This site also lists small independent venues around the UK.

So check out your local press, web sites, whatever – you never know when someone decent will be playing live locally. So much better than sitting in front of the tv and watching 400 channels of crap!

Before I forget, some of these bands are available for hire – what a brilliant way to celebrate a birthday, special occasion, wedding etc.  Go on – you know you want to!!

Marko 18 Jan 2016


Jacques Brel and me

The first time I’d even heard of Jacques Brel was when a certain Mr. David Bowie sang Amsterdam (B-side of the single “Sorrow” in October 1973, it finally made it onto the Rare LP in 1982). I was immediately intrigued as this was not a ‘Bowie’ type song yet it captured my imagination. I looked up the writing credits and Brel came up. Now in those days the internet hadn’t been invented, Brel records were not in the record shops I visited, so research was practically impossible.

Baal1982Then in March 1982 I watch the BBC paly adaption of Bertold Brecht’s (who he?) play Baal, purely because David Bowie was in it. Once again the style and tales in the songs drew me in. I immediately went and bought the EP, and came across another name Kurt Weill. But again no internet! Time passed.

I next came across another Bowie Brel cover – “My Death” on the Ziggy Stardust: The Motion Picture album in 1983. Wow! It still haunts me whenever I hear it. It will also be played at my funeral – one day in the dim distant future!

I can’t actually remember when, but eventually I managed to research Jacques Brel. Blimey who’d have known he was a singer, songwriter and actor and had written so many songs – not me that’s for sure! He was exceedingly popular in his adopted country of France, and had bucket loads of famous artists covering his songs. Now being Belgium by birth, and a pain in the ass he totally refused to sing any of his lovely songs in English. This in turn led to many artists relying upon the skills of various translators (Rod McKuen, Eric Blau, Mort Shuman) to give life to his songs in English. Therefore you will find there are subtle differences in interpretations of his songs, depending upon who did the translations.

His songs told stories, some funny, some sad, some rude but all literate, theatrical and thoroughly engaging. A cabaret style that I have fallen in love with. Beautifully sculptured cinematic and poetic songs of cynicism, life, emotion, passion all of which are open to interpretation – was it his wife or his lover?

Version of his songs by David Bowie, Alex Harvey, Leonard Cohen, Marc Almond, Rod McKuen, Camille O’Sullivan, Scott Walker, Neil Hannon being amongst my favourites. Check these albums out!

  • Camille sings Brel – live
  • Various Artists – Next Brel
  • Rod Mckuen – Sings Jacques Brel
  • Scott Walker – Sings Jacques Brel
  • Marc Almond – Jacques

It might surprise you that you probably already know some of his songs e.g. Terry Jacks “Season in the Sun” (yes a bloody awful cover version) or Dionne Warwick “If We Only Have Love” or Scott Walker’s “Jackie” or simply the best ever cover version “Next” by the Sensational Alex Harvey Band (SAHB) – check out their version on The Old Grey Whistle Test – stunning!

Jacques Brel (8 April 1929 – 9 October 1978) was buried in Calvary Cemetery, in Atuona on Hiva-Oa island (part of the Marquesas Islands – French Polynesia). But his legacy lives on!!

For more information just look at Jacques Brel Foundation or Wikipedia..

The man was a true genius.

Live Music

There is nothing quite like going to watch a band perform live.  In my younger days I’d try and get as close to the stage as possible (obviously this had it’s down sides during the punk era and ‘gobbing’!), alas these days it’s mostly seated – no mosh pit for me..

Unfortunately, as one gets older most things head south and eyesight starts to fail.  Up close and personal (whether seated or standing) is preferable to seats high up in the gods, in large stadia, where you need a Hubble telescope to see what’s going on.

Some of the better bands will of course have large video screens which helps enormously, but if you ‘can’t see the whites of their eyes’ I kinda feel cheated – especially at the price some charge!  In most cases the music more than makes up for it.

In recent years, with the benefit of digital camera’s, I’ve tried to document some of the gigs I’ve attended.  I’ve added them to my YouTube channel so feel free to have a look.  I don’t have a steady hand in quite a few places but persevere and you may get a flavour of the event.  Sound may suffer in places due to my thumb on the microphone – sorry..

A poor selfie but what the hell I met Steve Hackett whilst shopping in Zara on Oxford St. London – 18 Sep’t 2014.  Lovely man..

Steve Hackett & Me 1