Friday, 23 March 2018

23/3/2018 Ryan Hamilton & The Traitors + The Main Grains @ Surya

This is a really good bill at a surprisingly small venue - I guess it's the best (available on a suitable date) London venue they could find while booking this 'Young, Dumb, and full of Rum' tour. Not surprisingly, it's sold out in advance. I arrive to find this intimate downstairs venue already packed out. so as Main Grains frontman Danny McCormack is having to play the gig sitting down until he adjusts to his 'new' leg it's not worth bothering trying to get any pictures as I can hardly see him! The band turn out a good set of solid tuneful punk 'n roll though - not a million miles away from Danny's old band The Yo-Yo's. This band are good fun, and new single 'The Rain Is Over Now' is a definite progression form their earlier heavily Ramones/Yo-Yo's sounding materiel.

I've only seen Ryan Hamilton and the Traitors once before (supporting Ginger Wildheart) but was sufficiently entertained to want to see them again. Country rock isn't really my thing, but Ryan and Co. put a decidedly different twist on it and it's more 'rock' than 'country'. Ryan himself is a very open and engaging frontman who tells some interesting and funny stories about his earlier career between songs - he was signed to a major record company deal with a band while still quite young and naive - and got screwed over big time by the music business. He doesn't seem bitter about it though, and seems to regard it all as a time of valuable lessons learned. And he has some great stories - his Tom Petty one is particularly touching.
The set is more 'rock' than 'country', and with Rob Lane on bass it was always going to ROCK! The lead guitarist was pretty good too! There is more talking between songs than at a normal rock show, but it's cool on this occasion as Ryan has a very relaxed onstage persona that draws you in. He is also very funny - particularly when he takes some audience members to task for talking during his performance instead of paying attention to the show! It's a top evening's entertainment!

PS: This venue has since closed.

PPS: Ryan Hamilton and The Traitors are playing at Camden Rocks festival
 this year along with the Main Grains - I highly recommend you go!

It's been a long day so I don't hang about after the show as I've already had trouble with the trains getting to the gig. As I walk back from the station I notice what appears to be a lot of smoke rising into the air. As I get closer I see flames and a lot of flashing blue lights - the (now disused) pub round the corner is going up in flames! I count at least five fire engines in attendance.
This is a very sad sight to see as the estate now has no pub and it was a well known local landmark as well as a local amenity while it was still open. I can't help feeling this fire is very 'convenient' for the owners/developers. Not a very nice end to a good night out.

Friday, 16 March 2018

16/3/2018 Shush @ Nambucca

Well it's been a while....
 ...since a sausage roll? No - since I either saw Shush or went to Nambucca. I haven't seen Shush simply because for various 'real life' related reasons the band just haven't been doing anything. That might be changing... As for the venue itself - it's been largely off my radar since it reopened (again) in 2014. This is probably because the venue's current batch of promoters move in different circles to me, and also they simply haven't been putting bands on that I'm interested in seeing - the place seems to have largely abandoned rock/punk/rock 'n' roll and gone back to being a mainly indie hangout. Nothing wrong with that, but it's not my scene.
The venue itself has changed beyond all recognition: The new much larger stage area now repositioned right at the back of the venue is vastly improved and now much move like a proper dcdicated music venue.. The bar has been (no doubt at great expence) moved from one side of the room to the other - this seems really stupid and pointless - if it ain't broke, don't fix it.Real ale has gone and the prices have gone up massively, so I do my drinking at the Coronet (Wetherspoons) down the road instead.
It's great to see Shush back in action again after hardly playing at all for several years, and they are as good as ever - especially as the legendary ex-AntiProduct drummer Simon 'Gonk' is back in the band. This man is a real powerhouse and drives things along greatly. The band have plenty of excellent and catchy pop/punk songs, although I am slightly disappointed that their pissed-off anthem 'Fuck You!' is missing it's usual finger gestures on this occasion!
It's good to see some familiar friendly faces from the old AntiProduct days in the crowd to support ex-AntiProduct and current Shush members Milena (vox/guitar) and Gonk (drums) , and also nice to note that people will still come out to see Shush after a long break from the scene - lets hope the band's appearances will become a more regular affair from now on....
The following band are not doing anything to excite me, and discussion with Shush guitarist Andy and some other friends reveals that I'm not the only one feeling that - so a short walk down Holloway Road to Big Red is suggested. This turns out to be an excellent idea! Not only is the beer better and cheaper, but we discover there is also a band playing. It's free to get in so what's not to like?
Unfortunately I can't remember the name of the band (may have been Stonewire), but they were excellent! Going to Big Red turns out to be a very good move, and it's also much closer to the tube station for the journey home - just like the old days. Well I say 'old days' but it was less than ten years ago that I was at Big Red and the much missed Gaff Club just up the road all the time - great days!

Friday, 2 March 2018

2/3/2018 Duncan Reid and the Big Heads @ The 100 Club

The 100 Club is pretty much the spiritual home of punk rock in London, so it seems the ideal place for Duncan Reid and the Big Heads to play....
...and so it proves - as the middle aged bloke who has had a little (maybe more than a little) too much to drink demonstrates when he leaves a little puddle of puke on the floor by the stage before having to excuse himself and lurch off to the bogs. 
He's obviously having a good night anyway. But will he remember any of it tomorrow?
Punk rock chaos takes place on stage, but this band are actually very good live performers.
The music is very tuneful pop-punk - Duncan Reid learned a thing or two about writing a catchy tune when he was in his old band The Boys - they weren't known as 'the Beatles of punk rock' for nothing.
Although this band's songs are very catchy, and dare I say it commercial - there is plenty of rock 'n' roll and punk attitude in their performance - the level of energy is very high!
Duncan's own songs are very catchy and tuneful, but as usual the band finish their set with some Boys classics like 'Brickfield Nights', 'Sick On You' (originally by the infamous Hollywood Brats) and 'First Time' - always a fantastic show closer!

Saturday, 27 January 2018

Is my luck finally starting to change?

Yesterday I found 5p in the gutter outside the station. Today I found 20p on the platform at another station. Things are looking up!

Monday, 15 January 2018

How come it never rains...

So on Sunday I finally started to feel really positive about things for the first time in months. Back at work and earning again for a few weeks. Continuing to make a good recovery from breaking my wrist in a motorcycle accident and now almost back to normal. Playing the guitar again and finally getting back to full reach in the fingers and nearly full flexibility in my wrist. I'd even managed to get to a couple of 'proper' gigs in December. I won't be back on two wheels for a while, but for financial reasons rather than any fears of getting back on a bike - I'd get back on one tomorrow if I had one available. However, it's the middle of winter and even if I won the lottery I wouldn't think about buying another bike before spring - I don't like being cold and/or wet - or getting my machine covered with all that salt shit they cover the roads with at this time of year that makes it go rusty and corrodes the aluminium. Besides, freezing myself on a bike isn't going to help me recover from my recent injuries. At least I still have the car....

My life seemed to be on a downward spiral since the motorcycle crash in September with the loss of my bike along with five gigs I had to pull out of - four as a bass player in someone else's band, and one with my own band which was particularly important to me. But finally things seemed to bottom out and I began to pull out of my dive. At last I was starting to feel positive about things again.  I could see the light at the end of the tunnel - and it wasn't an oncoming train. Or was it?

So feeling much better about things I drove off to work on Monday morning. I'd only gone a couple of miles when as I negotiated a tight corner I saw a Range Rover apparently cutting the corner off and crossing over to my side of the road. BANG! We collided head-on. Fortunately neither of us was going very fast and there were no injuries to either party. We pulled off the road to exchange details. She said sorry and admitted it was her fault - without any prompting from me. She blamed her door mirror for obstructing her view, but I suspect she wasn't looking where she was going or wasn't paying attention for some reason - on the phone? It was still dark, and it was raining but the road was lit and visibility wasn't bad. I didn't notice much damage to her motor, but the high Range Rover bumper had gone right over my bumper and dented and distorted the bonnet, as well as knocking out one of my indicator lights.. Well at least her insurance would be paying for it all. She said I'd get a phone call later today or tonight after she'd spoken to her husband.....

I heard no more so I phoned my insurance company to find out what was going on. They informed me that she was now blaming me for the accident and claiming that she had stopped and I had crashed into her - virtually the opposite of what had actually happened! After admitting responsibility at the scene she had now completely changed her story! I can only assume that her husband (probably the owner of the vehicle) had talked her into changing her story and blaming me instead. It get's worse. My insurance company arranged to have the damage to my car inspected. It was declared a write-off straight away due to the age of the vehicle. In my opinion it wasn't too badly damaged and wouldn't have been that difficult to fix - but they decided it would cost too much to put right. To be fair, parts for a 20 year old car might have been difficult to obtain - especially if it needed a new bonnet - and the labour costs would have been high. They only valued my car as worth £450 - a fraction of what I originally paid for it when it was fairly new. I couldn't really complain too much being offered that for a 20 year old car that was visibly past it's best, although I was hoping it still had a few more years life left in it. However, my insurance policy has a £400 excess! So if they wrote the car off and the other party's insurance didn't cough up I'd only get £50 for having my car written-off even though it wasn't my fault! And of course I'd lose my 20 year's worth of no-claim bonus and have to pay a lot more for car insurance in future! There were no witnesses to the accident, or none that stopped anyway - so it's my word again's her's. I told my insurance company there was no way I was accepting any of the blame as it was completely her fault, but they said it would probably end up settled as being duel-fault or split-blame or something. So she will end up fucking me over big time and I will lose my car and get paid next to nothing for it even though the accident was totally her fault. And I have no money to buy another car. Even if I got paid the full £450 'value' for my car - what could I buy with that these days? Looks like I'm totally screwed. I think I'll be having to get the train to work for the foreseeable future...

The following day I was hoping to go to a gig down Holloway Road - some good bands and plenty of my friends there, but I'd been getting some aches in my side and back during the day possibly as a result of the accident - so I didn't go in the end as I didn't fancy travelling far on public transport and possibly ending up feeling pretty rough on a night out.

"How come it never rains?
It only pours....
...Well into the bright lights,
The rain in the gutter's still the same"

Tyla - Dogs D'Amour

One week later. My car is taken away for scrap - 15 years almost to the day since I got it. I could have cried. I don't think I've had any other car longer than four years or so. Another link with my past gone. So many memories - times out going to places with my dad. So many places I went in that car, I drove it nearly a hundred thousand miles - and it never broke down or failed to start. Not even once. On Sunday I drove it knowing it was for the last time ever - it felt very miserable. I got home and took all my bits and pieces out of it - quite a lot of stuff. On Monday morning I took one last forlorn look at it as I headed off to work - knowing it would be gone when I got home. I could have cried, but I think I've forgotten how....

Back on my downward spiral I go. Within the space of a few months I've broken my wrist, been off work for a long period and lost a lot of money, lost my bike, and now my car. I feel like I've lost part of my identity. I feel one part of my life may be drawing to a close, and I'm not sure what the future holds.

Thursday, 21 December 2017

21/12/2017 Wolfsbane & Last Great Dreamers @ Islington Academy 2

On paper it seemed like an odd bill, but as I really like both bands I'm not going to complain! Both bands might have been playing in the same era when they first appeared, but putting a Glammy old school rock 'n roll band on with an out and our heavy metal band might not seem a natural choice? In spite of this strange pairing the venue is packed out - with fans from both bands.

I've been wanting to see Last Great Dreamers again since being very impressed by their live set at Camden Rocks festival last year.
Tonight they are again very good., and they also have some new songs to play from their latest album '13th Floor Renegades'. If you like The Quireboys (who they have supported on tour) and The Faces then you'll probably like this lot too, although they have their own character and can't be accused of ripping those bands off. Although they have a very gritty rock 'n' roll vibe they have a more pop and commercial feel in their songwriting - and they really know how to nail a catchy chorus!
Last Great Dreamers are seasoned and polished live performers too, and you can't help wondering why they've never managed to crack the big time when so many lesser bands have got lucky.

Wolfsbane got a lot closer to cracking the big time - signing to Rick Rubin's label and having him produce their debut album - rather badly in my opinion as it's the least good sounding record they ever made with it's horrible lightweight tinny sound. They made by far their heaviest and meatiest sounding record after escaping Def American for Bronze Records with Simon Efemey producing - they released their self titled album and promptly split up after Iron Maiden poached their singer. And that appeared to be that. And for a few years it was - until some time after Blaze Bailey was ousted from Maiden to made way for the return of the 'Air raid siren' and the totally unexpected happened - the classic (and only if you don't count early drummers before the band were signed) lineup of Wolfsbane reformed! There were some live dates playing old material, an EP 'Did It For The Money, and then a brand new album Wolfsbane Save The World appeared - and it was actually very good! Odd live dates and tours have followed since, and also some newly discovered old recordings have been released - along with a new EP Rock! - which does exactly what it says on the tin and also contains some interesting topical and autobiographical songwriting. Guess what? Wolfsbane are still really good live!
A current Wolfsbane live show contains songs from across their career right up to date. Blaze Bailey is still one of the best frontmen out there and retains a terrific voice and very powerful stage presence! Also a self deprecating sense of humour along with his larger-than-life stage personality. Come to a Wolfsabane show and you will be entertained - whether you like it or not! The band's songs are great too - many that are heavy and intense, but also great really catchy tunes you can sing along to - there is always a terrific atmosphere at their gigs! The band may not look like they used to back in the day (apart from bassist Jeff Hately who still looks exactly the same) but they still play as well as ever.
A Wolfsbane show is enormous fun, and you can be pretty sure you will hear most of, if not all your favourite Wolfsbane songs. There are very few metal bands who can be so downright entertaining - even if you are new to the band and not familiar with their songs you will be entertained - as well as being a great singer Blaze is also very funny! He takes the music deadly seriously without taking himself seriously - which is very refreshing as well as being fun!
Wolfsbane gigs aren't that common these days, but they do seem to have got into the habit of getting out to play around once a year - usually shortly before Christmas. I recommend you catch them if you get the chance.

Monday, 18 December 2017

18/12/2017 A trip to Westminster

The Dark Lord finally takes his seat in the House of Lords? Not quite, but I had a most interesting tour the House of Commons courtesy of my local MP. No politics involved I'm glad to say. As you might expect these days, security is very tight. There were airport style scanners and the expected searches among other things. Much interest was taken in the contents of the pockets in my leather jacket, and I had to take my belt off to be scanned due due it's metal buckle. I was most disappointed that the equipment didn't start bleeping due to the metal plate I now have in my wrist! Maybe it's calibrated to ignore certain things.
The place is absolutely fascinating - this part is nearly a thousand years old and still in use. The Great Hall has seen countless significant events in our history from trials to weddings and funerals - it's quite something just standing there trying to take it all in.
The tour includes places that are regularly seen on the TV news like the famous lobby where politicians get interviewed. Photography is only allowed in certain places though, so there is much that I can't show you...
The atmosphere of the place is amazing. I didn't take many pictures as I was more interested in just soaking up the feeling of history. There are those who say that it should all be torn down and replaced with something more modern and efficient, but I think if those people had actually visited the place they would think differently. It does cost a huge amount to look after and much work is needed to maintain it and fix problems that have appeared due to past neglect, as well as bomb damage from WW2 - some parts aren't actually as old as they may appear. I think you ignore history at your peril. Some may think that history isn't important, but ignorance of it only insures that the mistakes of the past will be repeated again.
I finished my visit by going to the House of Commons to observe what was going on. No photos are allowed there, but it was fascinating to sit quietly and watch the debate in progress. It was quite something to sit there so close to the scene that appears on the 6 O'Clock News populated by famous (and infamous) politicians both now and back over hundreds of years of history. To actually be almost in touching distance of the benches, despatch boxes and the famous mace. Although the actual debate taking place was concerning a finance bill and rather dull, I stayed there for quite some time soaking up the history and atmosphere of the place. If you ever get the chance to go I can highly recommend it.