Saturday, 22 June 2013

An introduction - the story so far...

So here I am - a new beginning. I posted my blogs on MySpace for many years, mostly reviews of the countless gigs I go to. I first started doing them because people were always asking me what gigs I'd been to recently and what the shows were like? I got fed up of constantly repeating myself - telling different people the same stuff over and over again or writing the same things in e-mails to different people. So I thought I'd just write about all the gigs and post it up online somewhere, then post online or e-mail links to my friends - then everyone was free to read about all the gigs (or not) as they chose. MySpace seemed a good place to do it. So that's what I did. I got a cheapo digital camera and started taking pictures at gigs - just to illustrate my blogs. I've got such a crap memory that having pictures to refer to often helps jog my recollections as I write about a gig sometimes weeks after it happened. People seemed to like my blogs, and some bands did too - maybe apart from the ones I slagged off....

Quite a few people started subscribing to my blogs on MySpace. Some were my friends already, some were bands or musicians, promoters, and quite a few random people I didn't know at all - some of whom I suspect are incognito musicians as certain ones I have met seem to know a lot about what I have written although they don't appear to read or subscribe to my blogs, or even use MySpace...

Anyway, this went on for quite a few years and my blogs seemed to become quite popular in some quarters. I posted literally hundreds of blogs - mostly reporting on gigs I went to, although occasionally I'd post on something more personal or some other sort of event - there would be the odd rant too. And one or two even ones as well.

Then, two or three years ago MySpace got taken over and the people in charge ruined it. They'd obviously never heard the saying "If it ain't broke - don't fix it". Well they 'fixed' it anyway. They fixed it good. In fact they broke it. A lot of the best and most useful features vanished or were changed for the worse. It was confusing and harder to use - there seemed no reason for this. People abandoned MySpace in droves. I didn't want to go to Facebook as it seemed rubbish for music compared to MySpace, and it didn't have a blog feature. And the name Dark Lord of Barnet isn't allowed on Facebook anyway. So I stayed on MySpace - largely to keep blogging, and also because it was still far better for music and related things, events and so on. Not everybody left MySpace - quite a few people and bands continued to keep a presence there - mainly because it was still the best place for music even though it was a shadow of it's former self. MySpace did get a lot quieter though - a lot of people either deleted their accounts completely or just didn't log on any more. MySpace died a bit of a death - self inflicted. After a while it did slowly improve, but the damage was done and most people stayed away.

MySpace did improve quite a bit over the last couple of years, but hardly anyone noticed. It never got back to being as good as it used to be though. I carried on blogging there and using it socially as I hadn't found anything better. As not many people were looking at MySpace any more I posted links to my MySpace blogs elsewhere and they continued to get quite a few hits from bands and my other regular readers - there was no need for people to log in or look at the rest of MySpace if they didn't want to.

Then there was another MySpace takeover. Another set of idiots in charge who didn't understand what they'd got or how it worked. And they changed it again - and this time they really ruined it! The 'New' MySpace was introduced but existing users were allowed to keep their old 'Classic' profiles going. Until last week. Then everybody was forced to go over to the new version whether they liked it or not! Many features were missing - all our old personal messages had gone. The Event feature had vanished, as had all our old comments. And the Blog feature had also gone! Blogging was the main thing which had kept me using MySpace, although the music features were good too - free streaming of nearly every band/artist/song you could think of - it was still a good place to discover new music or old favourites. Not only could I not post any new blogs, but all my old ones had vanished too - hundreds of them, and thousands of photos that featured in my blogs. And there seems to be no way of accessing them so we can save them either, although I'm sure MySpace still have them all saved on their servers somewhere....

So, I had to find somewhere else to post my new blogs - and maybe one day put my old ones if I can ever get my data back from MySpace. And so the story begins again...

Watch this space....

PS: After many people complained, MySpace eventually made people's old blog posts available for download in early 2014. They didn't restore the Blog feature to MySpace though. The Blog download took the form of a Zip file containing all the old blog posts as individual files - which I had to then upload one by one to Blogger. There were 951 files, so as you can imagine this all took me some time. I have now re-posted virtually all my old MySpace blog posts on here. The ones originally posted on MySpace are dated 16/7/2005-5/5/2013. I have put them up with minimal or in some cases no editing due to the massive amount of time involved. The editing has been restricted to a little reformatting (but I couldn't be bothered to do much as it would have taken far too long) and some corrections for grammar - I didn't bother proof reading everything so no doubt a few mishtakes remoan. Google Chrome flagged up some spelling mistakes that I missed first time round so they have (mostly) been corrected, but apart from those things I have re-posted the text in it's warts and all entirety as it was originally - some things are now 'public' which were private or 'Friends Only' on old MySpace privacy settings so more is revealed now than before. ;-)

Some of the links in the old posts still work - some don't. I didn't have the time or inclination to check them or fix broken links. Some of the bands and their websites have since long since vanished, and other bands have new websites so the old links don't work - Google is your friend. ;-) Amazingly, virtually all the pictures are still on various servers and show up in the posts. I don't mind bands/people using them as long as I am credited. Steal them or pass them off as your own at your own peril....

Sunday, 17 March 2013

17/3/2013 Anna-Christina solo acoustic @ The Proud Gallery

SubjectAnna-Christina solo acoustic @ The Proud Gallery
DateCreated3/19/2013 4:02:00 PM

Sunday finds me back in Camden again, although things didn't go too smoothly - but what's new?

I had planned to get down there early to visit one or two drinking establishments before the gig, but an unexpected guest at Dark Towers delayed me getting ready to go out.

I already knew my part of the Northern Line was out of action so had made plans to catch the 'Big train' instead. So I check the TFL Travel Planner for the train times before leaving. No trains. Great.

So after a longer and more complicated tube journey I eventually arrive in Camden with no time at all for pre-gig beverages.

By coincidence I arrive at the Proud Gallery at the same time as two of Anna-Christina's Lilygun bandmates at virtually the time she is due on stage for her solo acoustic set. It's a free gig, but the security bloke outside doesn't want to let us in without I.D.

We had no idea this would be required, and I never carry I.D. anyway. After blagging it we search inside the venue for the lady herself and can find no sign of her.

There is another band onstage. After searching for a while we stumble into a room previously unknown - and there she is. 

The 'Pretty Little Lady?' (her deliberate question mark) is playing a Garbage cover - this is 'Fix Me Now' and is usually the last but one song in her set - it looks like we've missed almost the entire set in spite of being at (or outside) the venue when she was due to take to the stage.

It's a quite different sounding but good version of the song - I think the vocals are better than the Garbage original and Anna-Christina's voice really soars in a way she doesn't allow it to when she is fronting Lilygun. I didn't bother taking many pictures as the lighting was so terrible - there was a single spotlight, but instead of being directed at the artist on stage it was pointing at the wall at the back.

The set finishes with new (for these acoustic gigs) song 'Resolution' which goes down well judging by all the applause.

It's certainly interesting to see another side to the intriguing Anna-Christina and I really like the way she uses a higher part of her voice that people people who have only seen her perform with her rock band Lilygun will be unfamiliar with. Talking of Lilygun - they will be returning to the live scene next month and will be one of the last bands ever to play at the famous Bull & Gate before it closes as a music venue...

It's not long after nine o'clock and far too early to go home - even on a Sunday night. However, the Proud Gallery is a crap place to drink in and people aren't keen on staying there, so we head for a pub.

The Lock Tavern is close by, and like the room we have just left it is really dark in there - you'd think there was a war on - are they scared of breaking the blackout or something? It's several years since I've been in this pub, but with a aid of my torch/pen I find they have four real ales on tap - quite nice ones too, although not very strong or very cheap either at around the £4 a pint mark. Still, it's an agreeable enough place to pass the time until chucking out time and everyone seems to enjoy themselves.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

10/3/2013 Anna-Christina solo acoustic in St Albans

SubjectAnna-Christina solo acoustic in St Albans
DateCreated3/17/2013 7:59:00 AM

Sunday night finds me going somewhere a bit different. The Horn in St Albans is a well known music venue that mainly features rock bands. Sundays here now have a different and more relaxed vibe featuring acoustic acts. There is usually someone performing in the front bar during the afternoon, and in the evening the room at the back is transformed into the Blue Angel Acoustic Cafe. The whole vibe of the room is changed with the addition of tables, chairs and candles. Well so they claim but I don't actually see any candle stonight - it's otherwise as advertised though. Even without such illumination a much more intimate atmosphere is created and the room feels much smaller.

Enter Anna-Christina. Taking some time-out from her usual place fronting rock band Lilygun she is here to perform an acoustic set of her own songs. 
Although she is appearing here tonight in solo acoustic mode Anna-Christina isn't your typical laid back singer/songwriter. There may be no elecric guitars or drums present, but don't expect the usual nice innoffensive hippy hippy style songs about flowers and lovely summer days in the country. No - this lady has axes to grind!

The method of delivery may be different from the power of her rock band, but lyrically these songs pull no punches!

From the opening title track 'Pretty Little Lady?' (the question mark is quite deliberate but you have to hear to song to understand) it's very obvious Anna-Christina has things to get out of her system and issues to deal with!

The lyrics of the first couple of songs in particular aren't for the faint hearted and obviously come from bitter personal experiences. This method of expression seems to be her therapy. Although Anna-Christina needs to vent, this series of acoustic shows in and around London (more to follow) seems to be working well for her as in spite of the less than cheerful nature of the songs she actually seems very happy and to be really enjoying herself. The 'therapy' is working!

This is probably her best solo show yet as although the venue is small and intimate it is actually quite busy. What makes this show more of a triumph is that away from her London home and the support of friends and family this crowd of people who have no idea who she is really enjoy her set. The 'Pretty Little Lady' herself obviously really enjoys playing for this very appreciative audience too - the atmosphere is very friendly and welcoming. I have a feeling she will be back...

Sunday, 3 March 2013

3/3/2013 Jelly, Scant Regard, Special Branch & Anna-Christina @ The Dublin Castle

SubjectJelly, Scant Regard, Special Branch & Anna-Christina @ The Dublin Castle
DateCreated3/14/2013 4:01:00 PM

Sunday night finds me in Camden for a varied bill at the Dublin Castle. A surprise last minute addition to the bill is Anna-Christina - more usually to be seen fronting Lilygun 

This very late addition to the bill is part of a series of solo acoustic gigs the enigmatic Anna-Christina is playing under the guise 'Pretty Little Lady?'. This is also the title of her opening song - the question mark is deliberate and becomes clearer (a bit) when you actually hear the song.

This lady has some issues she needs to get out of her system and these songs (especially the first two) would seem to be her therapy.

It's interesting to see another side of this somewhat mysterious artiste, and her voice sounds quite different in this musical medium than her more usual rock mode - and better for it in my opinion although not everyone would agree. The lady is obviously doing something right though as her songs are well recieved by this early evening Camden crowd.

At only five songs Anna-Christina's set is short but (bitter)sweet and finishes with the lady revealing one of her musical influences with cover of the Garbage song 'Fix Me Now' - form an orderly queue gentlemen.

Next up is something unusual for this venue - a cover band. Special Branch kick out a set of high charged R&B songs - some well known, others less so. They are tight as a duck's arse and have a lot more energy than most bands you'll see playing covers in pubs.

This is 1970's style pub rock in a style similar to Dr Feelgood, and they throw in one or two of that great band's songs. This lot are certainly worth checking out if they pop up playing in your local.

It's back to more usual Dublin Castle fare as Jelly take to the stage.

Like the previous band this lot's influences are mainly from the past - think American alt-rock and New Wave. They are all good musicians who have obviously paid their dues and play in a relaxed and confident manner.

Their engaging and theatrical frontman draws you into their slightly Bohemian world and their bassist adds some laid back glamour.

Meanwhile, over on the other side of the stage some sharp riffs are jagged leads are being hurled in our direction - there is plenty going on to keep the attention.

The final act of the night sends things off in another direction. The the second night out in a row I see a member of Rachel Stamp playing in a Camden pub! After seeing drummer Robin Guy on Friday night now here is guitarist Will Crewdson in solo guise as 'Scant Regard'.

Playing to a backing track he kicks out a barrage of 60's style surf riffs and the odd vocal. He's a pretty decent guitarist and carries it off well - playing quite a long mainly intrumental set without running out of steam.

It's been a good night of varied but quality music at the Dublin Castle for around a fiver, and for once I actually remember that the trains stop earlier on a Sunday night and leave early enough after a few pints of Weston's.