Jethro Tull Live Review – Royal Albert Hall 18 April 2018

A bit of history to start – over the years there have been 36 band members with Ian (now 70) the sole remaining member of the original 1968 line-up.  Their first gig was 2nd Feb 1968 at the Marquee Club in Wardour Street.  Prog rock royalty, playing at the Royal Albert Hall – ‘last night of the proms’ anyone?  So here we are on the 50th Anniversary tour.

Stage left keyboards and bass, stage right drums and lead guitar, yes you guessed it Ian in the middle!  The backdrop was the biggest damn video screen I’ve seen (covering the full stage) – take note other artists!  The gig started promptly at 19:30 with a mock TV screen showing clips of world and music events from 1968.  Tull in their youth were undoubtedly a hairy and crazy eyed bunch if ever there was one.  Think bad backcomb dragged through hedge backward look with beard housing various hedgerow creatures.  It was a two-set affair 19:30 – 21:45pm (with a 15 minute interval).

The band comprised – David Goodier (bass), John O’Hara (keyboards), Florian Opahle (guitar), Scott Hammond (drums) and surprise virtual guests courtesy of the video screen.  But the star is Anderson, a consummate professional with towering stage presence.  All eyes are drawn to him like magnets.

I must go on about the video screen it was bloody great.  Easy to view from all angles and heights and constantly in use with great videos depicting the songs; Tull performing in front of screen footage of their younger hairier selves playing the same songs (Ian syncing the lyrics to the background vocals – obviously been practicing that until perfect!); guest vocalists singing part of songs and various R’n’R celebs popping by to say Hi and introduce their favourite songs.  Really, they have thought this through to perfection – none of these fancy graphics just floating around the screen.  It all really added to the spectacle, stunning – well done chaps!  A nice touch and very 21st century as opposed to the 18th  – best check out who Jethro Tull really was (blame their agent for the name)!

Ian was on top form with his amusing anecdotes, song introductions, flute/guitar playing and general prancing about only in the way he can on stage.  His energy, stage presence and wacky sense of humour is just perfect for a well-spoken country gentleman.  His only let down is his own distinctive voice as many of the lyrics are lost and not every note is clearly audible, which wasn’t helped by the voice mix being below that of the other instruments.  But you can’t complain at 70 it’s not going to be the same as many years before. Even he knows not to try to reach certain notes, and for the tricky ones he uses guest singers on the video screen.

Jethro Tull – Royal Albert Hall [17 April 2018] – 50th Anniversary tour
We start off right at the beginning with 5 songs from 1968 including the first 4 songs from the ‘This Was’ LP.   Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond popped up on the big screen to say hello and introduce ‘A Song for Jeffrey’.  Then Ian goes into ‘Dharma For One’, previously a Clive Bunker mega drum solo, that had a much briefer workout from Scott Hammond thank god (from someone that had to sit through a Ian Paice one recently!).

Then the oft-told tale of how manager Terry Ellis asked him to write a hit single to keep the home fires burning back in Blighty whilst on their American tour.  So off he goes to his hotel room thinking sod this I’ll write something totally uncommercial in 5/4 time.  As Ian said “well bugger me senseless with a red hot poker” when it went to no. 3 in the UK charts – yes folks ‘Living in the Past’.  He also recalls when Tull became unlikely targets of middle America bible-bashers, who took a dim view of My God. “It wasn’t intended to give offence,” he insists, “maybe I wrote it wrong”.

Joe Bonamassa introduced ‘A New Day Yesterday’; Tony Iommi ‘Bourree’; Steve Harris ‘A Passion Play’; Joe Elliott ‘Ring Out, Solstice Bells’; John Evans ‘Heavy Horses’ and Slash ‘Aqualung’.   Conspicuous by their absence the colourful Dee (formerly David) Palmer, and second longest-serving member Martin Barre.

Now being a total bore I did an Excel Pivot table and these are the results 75% of songs were from their first 6 years. The first set spanning only 3 years.  The band has an extensive back catalogue but Ian obviously thinks their best stuff was clearly done early on.

Set 2 starts with an abridged version of Thick as a Brick (i.e. the best bits). At 70, he is still sprightly and can still stand on one leg and play the flute like no other! The set gets heavier (and in my humble opinion much better) as it progresses, with ‘Heavy Horses’, ‘Farm on the Freeway’ and ‘Aqualung’ where young sprog Florian Opahle can show of his guitar solos.
Finally, the encore, the screen shows old American and UK steam trains thundering down tracks and yes you guessed it ‘Locomotive Breath’.

Set 1: (Click on links to view video – update YouTube have removed them due to Licencing!!)

  1. My Sunday Feeling – (This Was, 1968)Jethro Tull 50 Anniversary 2018
  2. Love Story – (Living in the Past, 1972 – 1968 Single)
  3. A Song for Jeffrey – (This Was, 1968)
  4. Some Day the Sun Won’t Shine for You – (This Was, 1968)
  5. Dharma for One – (This Was, 1968)
  6. Living in the Past – (Living in the Past, 1972 – 1969 Single)
  7. A New Day Yesterday – (Stand Up, 1969)
  8. Bourrée in E minor – (Stand Up, 1969)
  9. With You There to Help Me (Benefit 1970) / The Witch’s Promise (Benefit 2001 version)
  10. My God – (Aqualung, 1970)
  11. Cross-Eyed Mary – (Aqualung, 1970)
    Set 2:
  12. Thick as a Brick excerpt – (Thick as a Brick, 1972)Jethro Tull 50 Anniversary UK Tour 2018
  13. A Passion Play – excerpt (A Passion Play, 1973)
  14. Too Old to Rock ‘n’ Roll, Too Young to Die – (Too Old to Rock ‘n’ Roll: Too Young to Die!, 1976)
  15. Songs From the Wood – (Songs from the Wood, 1977)
  16. Ring Out, Solstice Bells – (Songs from the Wood, 1977)
  17. Heavy Horses – (Heavy Horses, 1978)
  18. Farm on the Freeway – (Crest of a Knave, 1987)
  19. Aqualung – (Aqualung, 1970)
  20. Locomotive Breath – (Aqualung, 1970)

The packed out RAH audience was mainly people of a certain age (grey hair or bald diehard Tull fans) with a healthy spattering of ladies.  All pretty much knew all the words to the songs which were all greeted with affection and much applause.  The audience responded with a well-deserved standing ovation and were talking very fondly about it all the way to the tube!

Marko – 18 April 2018

Blancmange gig review [9 Mar 2018] – Under The Bridge, London

Barely 5 months since I last saw them, here I am again on the 2018 leg of the Unfurnished Rooms tour.  Yes, they were that good last time!

The good news is that Neil mixed up the set list and changed a couple of the tunes (alas my Twitter request for ‘That’s Love That It Is’ never made it!).  The opener ‘The Fall’ was dedicated to Mark E. Smith of The Fall who died in January.  Neil had given Mark a demo of their 1st EP (1980) at a gig and said “It would be really nice if you listened to it”.  He duly did and wrote a long letter back to Neil which helped inspire the band.  And they played a brand-new ditty called ‘In Your Room’ which was pretty damn good, glad to see they haven’t been resting on their laurels.

Prior to the gig, Neil made a guest appearance for the support chap Jez Bernholz. Even that didn’t save the act!  He basically had everything pre-programmed and stood pressing buttons, twiddling knobs (Roland SP-404 SX for the nerds) and sang. Yes kids you can all do this at home with some software!  The bass was mixed so loud the entire place was thumping and bottles of water were shuffling across the stage with no sign of a magician 😊.  Quite frankly I was glad when it was all over.

I could really say – just look at my previous Blancmange blog as that pretty much covers it.

Neil was once again in his trademark dark suit, this time with nice white trainers.  The guitarist was barefoot, well better that than him wearing his decidedly uncool Birkenstocks on stage!  As usual a good tight performance with banter in-between songs.  Neil certainly knows how to get his dedicated crowd going, singing enthusiastically along to all the classics (especially the Nah Nah bit of ‘Living on the Ceiling’).

As has become somewhat of a trademark, he once again nabbed a mobile from an unsuspecting lady (videoing him of course) and spent the rest of the show playing with it occasionally and finally gave it back during the encore.  He also, spends a great amount of time playing with his earplugs and in-ear monitor.  Frequently the right ear plug is out and the monitor is either in his pocket or he’s holding it in his left hand. Interesting viewing!

A really good evenings synth-pop entertainment – thank you Blancmange.  £25 a bargain night out!!

SETLIST (and links to Videos on my YouTube channel)

  1. The Fall – (Semi Detached 2015)
  2. Unfurnished Rooms(Unfurnished Rooms 2017)
  3. We Are the Chemicals(Unfurnished Rooms 2017)
  4. Game Above My Head(Mange Tout 1984)
  5. In Your Room – New song
  6. What’s the Time?(Unfurnished Rooms 2017)
  7. Last Night (I Dreamt I Had a Job) (Commuter 23 2016)
  8. Waves (Happy Families 1982)Blancmange - Unfurnished Rooms Tour 2018
  9. Gratitude(Unfurnished Rooms 2017)
  10. Anna Dine (Unfurnished Rooms 2017)
  11. Running Thin(Happy Families 1982)
  12. I Can’t Explain(Happy Families 1982)
  13. Old Friends(Unfurnished Rooms 2017)
  14. Living on the Ceiling (Happy Families 1982)
  15. Feel Me(Happy Families 1982)
  16. Blind Vision (Mange Tout 1984)


  1. The Day Before You Came(Mange Tout 1984)
  2. Don’t Tell Me(Mange Tout 198)

To cap it all, Neil did a signing after the gig and my step daughter was so excited to get her photo taken meet him and get her CD signed.  She was bopping along merrily all night. She’s gonna spread the word to all her fellow teachers – Go watch Blancmange!   Oh and I got a signed LP, which is now resting proudly next to my other signed LPs in the stairwell.

Marko – 10 Mar 2018

Live Review: Flunk – 100 Club [24 Jan 2018]

Flunk Live gig review

Sometimes the stars are aligned and a gamble turns into a treat, thus was my first exposure to Flunk.  In fairness I’d never heard of them until I received one of my usual emails denoting various upcoming gigs.  I just loved the flyer (as it turns out it was the cover of their Chemistry and Math LP) plus it was the 100 Club which I’d managed to avoid all these years, plus it was £12.50 (surely a typo!).  What could go wrong?

So rather than do the usual and Google the band to find out what they sound like, my friend and I took the gamble and just turned up.  So here goes:

The 100 Club

For those who have not been there it’s synonymous with music since the 1940’s, having hosted many now famous bands during their formative years.  It’s underground, on Oxford St, and has a long narrow stage with a low ceiling and bars at both ends.  A few strategically placed pillars keep it up and at the same time obscure the stage for the 350 punters if full.  The gent’s toilets are proper R’n’R – graffiti covered and extremely dodgy – take a look at the pics (even the cockroaches had the good sense to leg it 😊).  I can imagine it getting pretty hot and sweaty, but not tonight, Flunk are not that type of band.  Hence the seating throughout, plus people sitting on the floor in front of the stage.

Rumours (support band)

As I’ve mentioned, we turned up for this gig totally blind and the first band on mentioned that this was their acoustic set – so we assumed this was Flunk doing 2 sets – durr!  It turned out to be a band called Rumours (not the Fleetwood Mac tribute) a five-piece comprising drummer, keyboards, bass and 2 singers – Marion and Mark.  They have been around since 2015, formed in London, and are an ‘electro pop indie’ combo with Mark Borgazzi, Federico Bigonzetti and Marion Solheim as the mainstay (Italy and Norway then!).   I’ve no idea what the set comprised of but the songs were interesting and mellow with the lead singer looking like he’d verge on the side of Hip Hop at any moment.  Alas the vocal microphone mix was pretty poor so you couldn’t really make out what they were singing about.  But overall, I enjoyed a set of low key keyboard driven melodies and sometime catchy pop.  If you heard their songs in the background at a party you’d think this is pretty good, must check them out.  They have one EP out ‘Shapes’ and a single ‘Invitations’ with a great sleeve cover, might even download it!!


So, if you’ve been following the blog thus far, yours truly thought there was no support.  So, the stage was decluttered of Rumours gear and a totally different bunch came on – yes this was Flunk.  A traditional 5-piece from Norway comprising:

  • Erik Ruud – drums
  • Anja Øyen Vister – vocals, guitar
  • Jo Bakke – guitar
    Flunk - 100 Club [24 Jan 2018]
    Flunk – 100 Club [24 Jan 2018]
  • Ulf Nygaard – programming, vocals
  • Ole Kristian Wetten – bass

I had a grand stand view of the minimalist stage, leaning on a pillar just spitting distance from the band.  Anja wore a very colourful jacket and had many multiple coloured beads around both wrists – think M&Ms on a string you’ll get the idea!  Unfortunately, her mike stand was positioned badly and she spent an awful lot of time singing with her arm in the air covering her eyes from the lights (remember low ceiling!!).  Note: to Anja – next time move the stand or take the mike off when not using the guitar.

They were promoting their latest LP so 40% of the tracks were from ‘Chemistry and Math’, interspersed with songs from their back catalogue going back to 2004.  Again, the vocal mix wasn’t great and you couldn’t really make out what Anja was singing, just noise really.  On the whole they were pretty tight with Jo excelling with his guitar work, especially on the solos before landing back to a bleaker keyboard/vocal laden vibe. Ulf was in control of the programming sequences on the Apple laptop and was sort of half in half out of the band for the night. I’m sure he’s integral to the band but I don’t think pressing a few keys on a laptop qualifies as musician status (he did a bit of backing vocals mind).

I wasn’t long before I was tapping my feet to a number of rather catchy tunes.  I’ve seen them described as folktronica, but live they certainly are not that – too many riffs and solos.  I took quite a few videos and they are now on my YouTube channel if anyone is interested.  Alas, time is tight and I can’t be bothered to work out which songs they were (note: if anyone knows please let me know so I can update them).

Flunk Setlist (Note chord changes for Anja)

  • Personal Stereo[Personal Stereo, 2009]
  • TMTTUOT[Chemistry and Math, 2017]
  • If We Kiss[Personal Stereo, 2009]
  • Petrified[Chemistry and Math, 2017]
    Flunk London Setlist
    Flunk London Set list – 100 Club [24 Jan 2018]
  • Common Sense[This Is What You Get, 2009]
  • Your Beautiful Lies[Chemistry and Math, 2017]
  • Play[Morning Star, 2004]
  • Six Seven Times[Morning Star, 2004]
  • Hello. Planet Awesome[Chemistry and Math, 2017]
  • Outsiders[Chemistry and Math, 2017]
  • Queen of the Underground[Lost Causes, 2013]


  • Only You – [Cover Ups – The Home Recordings, 2016]
  • Blue Monday – [For Sleepyheads Only, 2002]
  • On My Balcony – [Morning Star, 2004]*
  • Sit Down – [Personal Stereo, 2009]*

*These were not played on the night.  

At the end of the evening both bands hung around and chatted with the punters (you’re never going to get this at a big-ticket gig) did photos and signed stuff.  They all seemed lovely people and hanks to Anja for photos and signing my CD.

So, to summarise – Flunk, and to an extent their support band, pretty much evoke the musical landscape of the sounds you’d make if you lived near the Arctic circle without daylight for months at a time and consumed the odd spliff or six.  Words like bleak, angry/edgy, whimsical, melodic, ethereal, chilled all readily come to mind.

A real treat, loved the ambiance, the music and at £12.50 a real steal!  Now to check out their back catalogue!


Stub - Flunk [24 Jan 2018] 100 Club London
Flunk [24 Jan 2018] 100 Club London

Marko, 26 January 2018

Ps – I would have done this sooner but the following day was taken over by a severe hangover!

Gig Review: Deep Purple – London O2 [23 Nov 2017]

So finally, I get to see Deep Purple, 45 years after buying the seminal ‘Made in Japan’.  Life got in the way, timings were bad etc. but I’m glad I managed to get to see them – albeit there are some reservations, read on.

Next year it will be 50 years since they started and as of today their average age is 69, combined age 344 (don’t you just love Microsoft Excel) with Glover and Gillan in their early 70’s.  As it happens Ian Paice is the only member who has been in every incarnation of Purple.

So, given their ages, we are treated to songs (lots of classics omitted) that give members their spot in the limelight whilst the others ‘have a rest’ and also nothing too strenuous on Ian Gillan’s vocal chords – he ain’t gonna hit the high notes on ‘Child in Time’ any more for example.  That said his voice is still rather good.  Ian also gave us some small talk in-between songs – nothing too enlightening – Ian joking about the floor seats “I’m sorry they’re not sofas or futons”, which got a bit of a laugh.

The stage itself was a simple affair with a bank of speakers/amps in a straight line with Ian Paice and Don Airey in the middle and loads of room in front.  All that room was a bit too much for Steve Morse as he rarely left his spot with the foot pedals whilst Roger and Ian were a bit more active!  There were two medium sized video screens at either side of the stage and a huge screen backdrop behind the band which showed intermittent live band images, videos e.g. newspaper/TV images of the Montreux fire during ‘Smoke on the Water’ and some rather simple graphics.  In the twilight of their careers Deep Purple have updated their classic Mount Rushmore ‘In Rock’ LP cover with the band members’ faces etched into a giant iceberg (let’s hope it’s not melting!).  Nice – next live LP cover anyone?IMG_4

It might be their ‘Long Goodbye’ tour but it’s also an excuse to plug their new LP ‘inFinite’ quite a lot.  From where I was up in the gods, you could clearly see Ian looking down at the floor when singing the newer numbers (zooming in you could see a bunch of sheets of paper stuck to the floor presumably with the lyrics on them).  He might be getting old but his eyesight is ok!

The core mainstays of Roger (resplendent in his time-honoured bandana), and both Ian’s actually look pretty good for their ages and looked like they were enjoying themselves in front of a 90% full O2 crowd (top tier at the back was curtained off).  This year I also saw Richie Blackmore’s Rainbow, which was pretty crap – see my review, and Purple were infinitely better!

They play together instinctively, tight or loose with clever interplay.  After all these years on the road I wouldn’t expect anything different.  Riff here, riff there on a pretty good mix of new and old classics for the hardcore fans.  Everyone was singing once those famous chords were hit – all together now “we all went out to Montreux…”

Now I know these guys are all virtuoso musicians but in my humble opinion I didn’t need to have a damn extended guitar/keyboard/bass/drum solo quite so frequently. To me it didn’t enhance the show, it was too self-indulgent ‘hey look how good I am’ and in the end got really annoying and boring.  Don Airey was the chief protagonist of this and from where I was sat in Row A of the gods all I could see on the video screens were his stubby arthritic fingers pounding away on the ivory’s. He has no change of ever removing his wedding ring!

If they had just stuck to the songs as per the LP versions, they could have probably included at least another 3 iconic songs on the night.  It was billed as the Long Goodbye tour so I was expecting more of their classics – the songs were good but they were not the songs I wanted to hear!  Don’t get me wrong, they were exceedingly good e.g. ‘Fireball, Space Truckin’, Smoke’ on a number of songs.  When they decided to be clever and jam or solo that’s when it got irritating.

Setlist (click on link to watch the video)

  1. Time for Bedlam[inFinite, 2017]
  2. Fireball [Fireball, 1971]
  3. Bloodsucker [Deep Purple in Rock, 1970]
  4. All I Got Is You [inFinite, 2017]
  5. Uncommon Man (for Jon Lord) – [Now What?!, 2013]Deep Purple - Long Goodbye Tour 2017
  6. The Surprising[inFinite, 2017]
  7. Lazy[Machine Head, 1972]
  8. Birds of Prey[inFinite, 2017]
  9. Knocking at Your Back Door – [Perfect Strangers, 1984]
    Keyboard Solo
  10. Perfect Strangers – [Perfect Strangers, 1984]
  11. Space Truckin’[Machine Head, 1972]
  12. Smoke on the Water[Machine Head, 1972]*
  13. Peter Gunn (cover)
  14. Hush[Shades of Deep Purple, 1968]
    Bass Solo
  15. Black Night [7” Single, 1970]
    Drum Solo

*copyright Maria D’Innocenzo

The demographic of the audience was hard core fans and their offspring.  Call me old fashioned but having seats on the floor is just not R’n’R.  However, most people seemed to be standing throughout, so what’s the point?

It would be less of a long goodbye if they didn’t want to show off!

The support band were Europe, not my bag or other people’s either as they played to a half full crowd doing their best to get them going.  They had a few hard-core fans at the front who cheered and sang along throughout.  The Swedish rockers played a tight set of their well known stuff and newer tracks from their ‘Walk The Earth’ LP and finished with their most iconic track ‘The Final Countdown’.  Alas, the damn song is still imprinted on my brain – will this torment ever stop!

Merchandising was hidden away on the first floor.  Funnily enough I saw a picture of the merch stand at the B’ham gig on the internet. One of the many goodies was a limited-edition drum skin autographed by all band members selling at £60.  In London it was priced at £80!. That really is taking the piss guys – not got enough money already?  I bought nothing in silent protest!Deep Purple merch

Marko – 25 Nov 2017

Gig Review – Chuck Prophet and the Mission Express – ULU London, 17 November 2017

Bobby Fuller Died for Your Sins

Open Up Your Heart 2017 European Tour

Tonight’s gig was at ULU (University of London Union), basically the student’s union bar for SOAS/Birkbeck/UCL.  Now given the fact that this is generally known as left-wing central the bar prices (£5 pint in a plastic glass) were definitely not Students Union prices.  So a bit of capitalism is OK when profit is concerned eh?  Minor rant over!

I must admit I love Green On Red and have all their LPs, but up to this Saturday night I had no Chuck Prophet stuff at all.  So, this was a gig into the unknown and as it turns out has been writing wonderful songs on his own since 1990 and I’m now a convert! I did some research on his back catalogue which is pretty extensive and it looks like I have hours of listening to look forward to.  And I found a glorious YouTube video of ‘You Did (Bomp Shooby Dooby Bomp)’ and was sold instantly – boy I just love this song!

Tonight’s gig with the “Mission Express” (named after a bus line that runs through Prophet’s neighbourhood in San Francisco) concentrated in his more recent output with nothing prior to 2002.  Obviously, the majority of songs were from his current LP ‘Bobby Fuller Died for Your Sins’, of which I bought a copy on the night and Chuck kindly signed for me – so good was the gig.

So, from my position Chuck was going to be an unknown quantity but as it turns out his songs still mix Country with Alt Rock injected with wry lyrics and observations.  He’s probably got an element of evangelism in him given the various songs with Jesus mentioned, even if some of the lyrics are mischievous.

The band

  • Chuck Prophet: (Guitars)
  • Stephanie Finch: (keyboards) and Chuck’s wife!
  • Kevin White: (bass)
  • Vicente Rodriguez: (drums)
  • James DePrato: (guitars)

He started with a foot stomping band intro “It’s great to be back we come in peace” which led into the infectious ‘Bobby Fuller Died for Your Sins’ (a bit of internet research turns out that Fuller died mysteriously in his car outside his Hollywood apartment in 1966 – queue conspiracy theory).

A ‘Bad Year for Rock and Roll’ mentions Bowie and is his response to all the R’n’R deaths in 2016 – well we did lose rather a lot of irreplaceable artists!  Then a few slower country and acoustic based songs before the standout song of the night an extended version of ‘You Did (Bomp Shooby Dooby Bomp)’. Chuck even gave out a public health warning for all the oldies in the audience “this song could be dangerous to your health” – quite right too given the virtuoso guitar solo – glorious stuff indeed.  Then a mix of new and old classics as the set list below.

Set list (follow links to view my videos from the evening)

  1. Intro
  2. Bobby Fuller Died for Your Sins [Bobby Fuller Died for Your Sins, 2017]
  3. Fast Kid[Night Surfer (Ext Ver only), 2014]
  4. Rider or the Train[Bobby Fuller Died for Your Sins, 2017]
  5. Bad Year for Rock and Roll[Bobby Fuller Died for Your Sins, 2017]
  6. Temple Beautiful[Temple Beautiful, 2012]
  7. You and Me Baby (Holding on)[¡Let Freedom Ring!, 2009]
  8. Doubter Out of Jesus (All Over You)[Soap and Water, 2007]Chuck Prophet and the Mission Express ULU London, 17 Nov 2017
  9. Jesus Was a Social Drinker[Bobby Fuller Died for Your Sins, 2017]
  10. You Did (Bomp Shooby Dooby Bomp)[Age of Miracles, 2004]
  11. In the Mausoleum (for Alan Vega)[Bobby Fuller Died for Your Sins, 2017]
  12. I Felt Like Jesus[Temple Beautiful, 2012]
  13. Open Up Your Heart[Bobby Fuller Died for Your Sins, 2017]
  14. Summertime Thing [No Other Love, 2002]
  15. Countrified Inner City Technological Man[Night Surfer, 2014]
  16. Wish Me Luck[Night Surfer, 2014]
  17. Willie Mays Is Up at Bat[Temple Beautiful, 2012]


  1. Shake Some Action (Flamin’ Groovies cover 1976)
  2. Mr. Pharmacist (The Other Half cover 1966)

Chuck writes beautifully crafted songs held together with rather impressive, multi-textured guitaring.  He worked the crowd like a seasoned pro and gets the loyal audience singalongs going frequently.  He is after all very much preaching to the converted!

There was humorous banter in-between songs e.g. “loonies in charge of the world, well you started it” (Brexit joke) delivered with the aid of his prompts which were resting on his floor monitor.  He also told a story of when he was a kid going to gigs with the Flamin’ Groovies really impressing him. So much so that 10 years later he’d be in their apartment doing coke with them!

To summarise, Chuck lead his talented band of musos for about 1. 45 hours with them constantly looking at him for interplay leads to where next in the songs.  The pretty much capacity crowd (mixed audience mainly 50+ who looked like they had been on the journey with him from day 1) were highly entertained with his Alt-country rock and roll songs.  He was genuinely smiling from ear to ear through the entire set and looked like he was loving being on stage – it must be a great feeling to bond with an audience like that.  It was like all the audience were old friends whom he hadn’t seen for a few years, but could instantly bond once again.

I’m currently on a real downer watching big bands play big venues where you are miles from the stage up in the gods.  This venue was ideal, smallish and almost full (not excessively loud – well we are all getting a bit deaf as years pass) where you could get right up to the front and literally touch Chuck.  His infectious on-stage presence just adds to the intimacy.

He came across as a really nice genuine guy and luckily I managed a quick chat, photo, signed LP (now on my wall) after the gig.  I broached the subject of ‘Green On Red’ doing some gigs and he mentioned that he was still in touch with Dan Stuart and who knows! My fingers are firmly crossed!!

You simply can’t get better value for £20.  Chuck I’d happily pay double that to see your band again!  To the die-hard fans spread the word and help Chuck make the world a better place.

Marko – 19 Nov 2017

PS – We had great chats with the guys from the support band, the mixing desk and the merchandising stall. As it turns out the merchandising guy was from West Bromwich, so we mulled over the area (I lived in the ‘black country’ for many years) and to make a great night even better Chelsea stuffed W. Brom the following day!

Review – Placebo – Brixton Academy 23 October 2017

Ah, one of my all-time favourites again tonight hopefully (hopefully due to the fact that a few previous gigs were cancelled due to Brian having lost his voice a couple of weeks back).  As it was, the gig went off without a hitch, albeit with Brian having to perform with less than perfect vocals, having not fully recovered by the time of the sound check.

Doors opened at 19:00 but the queue was massive (we arrived at 19:10) going around the block (Astoria Walk) and the all the way along Stockwell Park Walk.  It was my first visit to this venue, the inside which reminded me of a tired theme park, and I was pleasantly surprised.  However – the seats upstairs are a problem – they are both uncomfortable and at such an angle that it’s difficult to see the front of the stage.  Standing causes issues for anyone behind you, so the first few rows were instructed that they could not stand during the gig.

It was to be the final two gigs of their ‘20 Years world tour’ (but not now due to the re-schedules!) – yes, they’ve been around a while now.  Iconic, androgynous and sometimes mischievous, apart from having lost his voice, a slimmed down Brian also appears to have lost the puppy fat he carried last time I saw them in 2015.  Both Brian and Stefan sported new haircuts – Brian looked like he could join the Mormons and Stefan join the Hare Krishna’s – tee hee.  Now you’ve got to admit Brian has a history of bad haircuts (both him and Paul Weller have had the worst haircuts in rock).  But the sell-out crowd of nearly 5000 were there for the music, something the band excel at live.

At 8:45 the lights went down and we are treated to the “Every You Every Me (unreleased promo)” video in full on the stage backdrop before the band launched into ‘Pure Morning’.  Brian and Stefan were ably supported by: Drums Matt Lunn, Bill Lloyd keyboard/bass, Nick Gavrilovic guitars and Angela Chan keyboards/violin.

After the second song, Brian engaged into his only audience banter of the show.  He explained his throat problems and said that it wasn’t back to normal so that we, the audience, could become the singer in Placebo tonight!  He also asked us not to take photo’s/videos as it was distracting to him – not that anyone around me took any notice!

Stefan and Brian, both dressed in black, took residence at the front of the stage with Stefan mixing up instruments from guitar to bass to keyboards throughout.  The set list (see below) was a cross section of classics from their back catalogue.  The songs were interspersed with projected live feeds of the band, videos (‘Without You I’m Nothing’ was a tribute to the unforgettable Thin White Duke) and stobes.  Some of the slower mid-section songs really tested Brian’s vocals, his weakness apparent to all in its flatness. Some of the songs were arranged differently, I’m not sure if it was done deliberately to save Brian’s voice from hitting the usual high notes, but it definitely impacted the songs, especially as time wore on.

In keeping with previous gigs, I know it’s getting near the end when they play “Song To Say Goodbye” and “The Bitter End” and so it was!

They return for a two-song encore with Stefan holding aloft his rainbow guitar to mass applause.  The backdrop changes to a packet of fags with a Donald Trump effigy and wording of ‘seriously harms you and other around you’ when Brian finally leaves the stage last after a minute fiddling with feedback on his amp – a very R’n’R finish.

SetList (inc video links on YouTube)

  • Every You Every Me (“Early Cut”) video
  • Pure Morning (Without You I’m Nothing 1998)
  • Loud Like Love (Loud Like Love 2013)
  • Jesus’ Son (Life’s What You Make It 2016)Placebo - 20 years World tour UK leg 2
  • Soulmates (Sleeping With Ghosts 2003)
  • Special Needs (Sleeping With Ghosts 2003)
  • Too Many Friends (Loud Like Love 2013)
  • Twenty Years (Once More with Feeling: Singles 1996–2004 2004)
  • Placebo – I Know (Placebo 1996)
  • Devil in the Details (Battle for the Sun 2009)
  • Exit Wounds (Loud Like Love 2013)
  • Protect Me from What I Want (Sleeping With Ghosts 2003)
  • Without You I’m Nothing (Without You I’m Nothing 1998)
  • For What It’s Worth (Battle for the Sun 2009)
  • Slave to the Wage (Black Market Music 2000)
  • Special K (Black Market Music 2000)
  • Song to Say Goodbye (Meds 2006)
  • The Bitter End (Sleeping With Ghosts 2003)


  • Nancy Boy (Placebo 1996)
  • Infra-red (Meds 2006)

So, to summarise – they weren’t at their best (which is understandable), but even like this they were mighty impressive visually.  The songs do stand for themselves and the majority of the audience seemed to be having a bloody good time.Placebo Brixton Academy - 23 Oct 2017

Get well soon Brian.

Marko – 25 October 2017

Gig Review – The Icicle Works – O2 Academy Islington, London [21 October 2017].

Yes, it’s the Icicle Works in name but in reality, it’s the Ian McNabb show ably supported by his trusted backing band.  Playing roughly a 2½ hour show featuring the best bits from his Icicle Works days interspersed with some of his Solo work and show casing a few number from his latest LP ‘Star Smile Strong’. 

It’s been a while since I last saw them (11,414 days to be precise – Microsoft Excel is a wonderful tool!) at the Kentish Town & Country Club. Yes, that evening 31 years ago is etched firmly in my memory. I’m sure it was a great gig and I bought a very nice Hollow Horse t-shirt but alas I consumed far too much alcohol on the night to remember much.  So why is it etched in my memory I hear you ask – well alas on my way into work the next day the alcohol had taken its toll and within a whisker of Old St tube I suffered the ignominy of vomiting in the tube train.  When I got to work they took one look at me and said ‘go home you look dreadful’!. 

Now Ian’s always had a really good voice and his songs engage the listener with stories of love, drugs, life in general but generally with a dark twist. The big songs are just rousing affairs with singalong choruses that really deserve a stadium slot.  He appeared to have a frog in the proverbial throat tonight, but still put on a mightily impressive show.  Resplendent in his scruffiness – he’s like a younger Neil Young in more ways than one.  Firstly, dressed all in black in Ill-fitting tour t-shirt, trousers which he kept having to pull up and hat covering his straggly hair – he kind of resembled a street bum minus the obligatory dog!!  Secondly, a number of tonight’s songs had typical Neil Young endings (you never know when it’s going to finish) or get in a huddle with the band and play amongst yourselves. 

Appearance aside he’s got stage presence in abundance, is conscientious with his sound (forever retuning his guitar), has a sense of humour in between ditties, has a great voice and boy can he play the guitar!

Tonight, was long and loud and sweaty. A 2-set show with a 20-minute interval and 2 encores (see below for the actual songs played).  The enthusiastic audience had plenty of opportunity to sing along to many anthemic choruses e.g. I’m a Genius, When It All Comes Down, Evangeline to name a few. 

My personal highlights were ‘Up Here in the North of England’, ‘Understanding Jane’, ‘Clarabella’, ‘When it all Comes Down’ and ‘Merseybeast’ where he intriguingly changed the middle verse lyrics to something like ‘his genitals and anus went missing and pity the poor truck driver when his severed head landed where he was pissing’. 

The gig ended with Ian thanking the crowd for deciding to spend their hard-earned cash watching the band tonight. He seemed genuinely moved and he really connected with the audience! 

Fame and mega sales have managed to elude Ian but he like say Steve Harley are true journeymen of Rock.  They will always be in my “should have been bigger” list along with the likes of The Alarm, Spear of Destiny, Killing Joke. 

Set 1:

  • Fire Inside My Soul (Head Like a Rock 1994)
  • Perambulator (The Small Price of a Bicycle 1985)
  • That’s Why I Believe (Truth and Beauty 1993)

    Icicle Works - Set list Part 2
    They didn’t play it all!!
  • Seven Horses (The Small Price of a Bicycle 1985)
  • Starry Blue Eyed Wonder (Blind 1988)
  • High Time (Blind 1988)
  • Blind (Blind 1988)
  • Evangeline (If You Want to Defeat Your Enemy Sing His Song 1987)
  • Shit Creek (Blind 1988)
  • Up Here in the North of England (If You Want to Defeat Your Enemy Sing His Song 1987)

Set 2:

  • I’m a Genius (Merseybeast 1996)
  • What She Did to My Mind (Permanent Damage 1990)
  • How She Moves (Star Smile Strong 2017)
  • Merseybeast (Merseybeast 1996)
  • Still Got the Fever (Head Like a Rock 1994)
  • Understanding Jane (If You Want to Defeat Your Enemy Sing His Song 1987)
  • You Stone My Soul (Merseybeast 1996)
  • When It All Comes Down (Blind 1988)


  • Clarabella (Come to the Window) – (Star Smile Strong 2017)
  • Hollow Horse (The Small Price of a Bicycle 1985)

Finally, once the lights were up, Ian and the band kindly popped to the small merchandising stall to chat and sign stuff.  Ian kindly signed my ticket stub and I so liked ‘Clarabella’ that I bought the CD which he also signed.  I had a little chat with him and he genuinely seems like a top bloke.The Icicle Works - 21 Oct 2017 Stub signed

Marko – 22 October 2017

Blancmange gig review [6 Oct 2017] – 229 The Venue, London

Ok you are all thinking what am I doing at a Blancmange gig!  Well guilty pleasures etc. I quite liked them in the 80’s.  When I found out they were on tour promoting their new LP (Unfurnished Rooms) I thought it worth £25 for the night out.  It appears that now only Neil Arthur carry’s the flag for these understated synthpop merchants – and carry’s it well he does!

The set was a good mix of old and new and Neil looked very handsome and dapper in his dark blue suit.  All three of the band looked like they were having a good time as were the very enthusiastic audience.  I’ve no idea what the capacity is but it looked fairly full to me so Blancmange do have a good following still – even if a few of them looked like they were on their last legs.

Neil has a penchant for walking to the front of the stage and staring lingeringly at the crowd with slightly scary demented eyes.  Well it certainly attracts your attention!  He also likes a bit of banter with the audience in-between songs and came across as a top bloke! I must admit I did chuckle to myself as Neil’s the only person I know who sings in a broad Lancashire accent!

The new songs were actually pretty good – I might well invest in the LP/CD/Download as the lyrics seemed interesting and the tunes held up well.  As you can imagine the old hit songs got the crowd singing and bopping along – especially at the end of Living on the Ceiling – see the video link below.

They started off understatedly with a lovely piano cover of ABBA’s ‘The Day Before You Came’. Then came the new songs (about a 3rd of the act) of which ‘Anna Dine’ and ‘We are Chemicals’ were the best in my opinion – to be fair each new song was greeted rapturously. Finally, the jacket came off for the aggressive ‘I Can’t Explain’, well it was bloody hot and sweaty in there.  Then came the well-known audience sing-alongs – ‘Living on the Ceiling, Blind Vision’ but only one encore ‘Don’t Tell Me’. Neil was obviously in a rush to get to the merchandising stand for signatures and photos – well you’ve got to upsell to make a living these days!

I really enjoyed the entire evening (approx. 1 hour 20mins) and the only slight downside was that they didn’t play one of my favourites ‘That’s Love That It Is’, plus the bar was shut!!  Can’t get a drink at 22:15 – I blame Brexit!

SETLIST (and links to Videos on my YouTube channel)

  1. The Day Before You Came(Mange Tout 1984)
  2. Unfurnished Rooms(Unfurnished Rooms 2017)
  3. We Are the Chemicals(Unfurnished Rooms 2017)
  4. Game Above My Head(Mange Tout 1984)
  5. Red Shift (Blame Thrower) (Commuter 23 2016)
  6. What’s the Time?(Unfurnished Rooms 2017)
  7. Last Night (I Dreamt I Had a Job) (Commuter 23 2016)
  8. Waves (Happy Families 1982)Blancmange-Unfurnished-Rooms
  9. Gratitude(Unfurnished Rooms 2017)
  10. Anna Dine (Unfurnished Rooms 2017)
  11. Running Thin(Happy Families 1982)
  12. I Can’t Explain(Happy Families 1982)
  13. Old Friends(Unfurnished Rooms 2017)
  14. Living on the Ceiling (Happy Families 1982)
  15. I’ve Seen the Word(Happy Families 1982)
  16. Feel Me(Happy Families 1982)
  17. Blind Vision(Mange Tout 1984)
  18. Don’t Tell Me(Mange Tout 198)

Before I forget the gig was opened by Curxes (a duo of singer and keyboard/guitarist) who were a bit Cocteau Twins with attitude. Alas, the sound mix for this was appalling so I’ve got no idea what the hell she was singing about, less even as to why the other half of the act was dressed as a bear. All I know is that they have an album ‘Gilded Cage’ out in a few weeks.

Perhaps I’m doing them a disservice but based on the current act I would not pay good money to watch them again. Perhaps that’s the reason for the bear outfit?

Marko – 8 Oct 2017

Gig review – Richie Blackmore’s Rainbow – Stone Free Festival 2017

Rainbow’s new 2015 line up is a flag of nations – keyboard Jens Johansson (Sweden), bass Bob Curiano, drums David Keith (both USA) and vocalist Ronnie Romero (Chile).

I had high hopes of this being a blinder, alas for me it ended up being a real damp squib.  The sound was piss poor, his amp does not turn up to 11 apparently!.  In this day and age you’d think they could have spent a few £$ on some big screens, but no – so all the poor sods at the back and high up in the gods couldn’t really see what was going on (as it happens not much as I think Rickie’s red shoes had Velcro on them so stuck he was in one spot for inordinate amounts of time!).  And don’t get me going on about the minimalist stage set-up – they must have spent just shy of £50, or Richie still thinks he’s living in the 70’s playing Budokan – times have moved on mate and your audience expects a show!

We all know Richie is a bit weird and difficult to work with, perhaps all that medieval renaissance crap has sent him over the top.  That said he is still a great guitarist

The backdrop had some pretty poor graphics throughout the gig.  Photographs of old Rainbow ticket stubs and the late great Ronnie James Dio (let’s face it that was their greatest period).  The eccentric Blackmore didn’t say a word throughout and communicated with the band and the audience via hand gestures.  Interestingly I gave him my own 2 fingered hand gesture but he couldn’t see me (tee hee)!!

For ‘Since You’ve Been Gone’ we had a guest appearance by its writer Russ Ballard – they eventually found him a guitar!  OK so there were some highlights – i.e. they played some good songs but these fleeting bits of brilliance were let down by mind numbingly boring and unnecessarily long solos by the keyboardist and drummer – big yawn.  Plus the lead singer had real problems communicating with the audience (his accent and lack of talent come to mind) but he did hold a tune in places.

All in all the Rainbow and Deep Purple back catalogue were done a grave disservice on the night – you’d get a better evening out watching a tribute band.

Much better were ‘Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll’, ‘Burn’, and ‘Black Night’ during which the band walked off the stage leaving those of a more passionate persuasion singing along to the riff.  A quick snippet from ‘Woman from Tokyo’ was woven into ‘Man on a Silver Mountain’ but for me it missed the mark.Rainbow Set List

  • I Surrender(Difficult to Cure 1981)
  • Mistreated(Deep Purple – Burn 1974)
  • Since You Been Gone – (Down to Earth 1979)
  • Man on the Silver Mountain(Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow 1975)
  • Soldier of Fortune – (Deep Purple – Stormbringer 1974)
  • All Night Long – (Down to Earth 1979)
  • Difficult to Cure(Difficult to Cure 1981)
  • Child in Time(Deep Purple in Rock 1970)
  • Stargazer (Rising 1976) click to watch video
  • Still I’m Sad(Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow 1975)
  • Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll(Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll 1979)
  • Black Night – (Deep Purple single 1970)
  • Burn(Deep Purple – Burn 1974)
  • Catch the Rainbow(Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow 1975)
  • Smoke on the Water – (Deep Purple – Machine Head 1972)

I was knackered by the end of a full day of RnR – especially after standing for 5 hours in the Indigo.  I enjoyed most of the day but was really disappointed with Rainbow.  There were plenty of empty seats and closed sections – the pulling power is simply not there anymore.  I’ll live of my previous memories of Rainbow when they were good!

Marko – 20 June 2017

Gig Review – Sweet at Stone Free Festival 2017

This was a complete left field surprise for me.  I loved them in the early 70’s. Glam rock, make up, ambiguity, loud guitars – the very antithesis of ‘TOTP’.

Today, two versions of The Sweet are still active with original members – Andy Scott’s Sweet and Steve Priest’s Sweet.  Brian Connolly and Mick Tucker sadly passed away in their 50’s. It was Andy Scott’s version on display today.

As it happens two of their naffest songs ‘Wig-Wam Bam and Little Willy’ really had the crowd singing along.  As Andy noted about all their audiences “they all sing along no matter what it says on their t-shirt”.  The most bizarre song of the night was the synth laden ‘Love Is Like Oxygen’ which went off into a full-blown version of ‘Fanfare for the Common Man’ before returning to the song.  The audience were well into it bopping and singing along in unison.

It was definitely a hell raising, blockbuster with a touch of OAP rampage (yes I know awful puns).  As someone said on my YouTube site after watching the video – Andy has a touch of the Mick Box about him – you decide!!

Sweet Set List

  1. Action – (Give Us a Wink 1976)
  2. New York Groove – (Hello cover)
  3. Hell Raiser – (1973 single)
  4. The Six Teens – (Desolation Boulevard 1974)
  5. AC/DC(Sweet Fanny Adams 1974)
  6. Set Me Free – (Sweet Fanny Adams 1974)
  7. Teenage Rampage – (1974 singles) click to view video
  8. Wig-Wam Bam / Little Willy – (1972 singles)
  9. Love Is Like Oxygen – (inc “Fanfare for the Common man”) – (Level Headed 1978)
  10. Fox On The Run – (Desolation Boulevard 1974)
  11. Blockbuster – (1973 single) click to view video
  12. Ballroom Blitz – (1973 single)

I’m glad I saw them, but it’s always with a tinge of sadness when you never actually see the original line up.  Alas time waits fore no man.

Marko – 20 June 2017