Wednesday, 29 January 2014

30/9/2006 Chas & Dave @ The Chickenshed Theatre

SubjectChas & Dave

Yes really! When I discovered the rockney legends were playing only ten minutes walk from home I knew I had to go. I'd never seen them before, didn't have any of their stuff in my CD/record collection, and could only name four of their songs - but what great songs they are! The venue was the Chickenshed Theatre - not the most suitable of venues for this act, and the tickets seemed expensive at £ 17.50, but a chance to see Chas & Dave on my doorstep was too good to miss!

The evening nearly went wrong as I turned up late without a ticket - to find out the 300 seat theatre had sold out in advance. At the gigs I go to normally, arriving around nine gives plenty of time to catch the headline act. However, this wasn't a normal rock venue, and there was no support act. I arrived to be told that Chas & Dave had started their second set!  Fortunately, a couple of tickets had been left on the door for people who couldn't make it and I was allowed to have one of them for a fiver as I'd already missed over half the show. Result! Rushed to the bar to grab a beer on the way in and found a pint of Guinness already poured and got it at the knockdown price of £2 - things were getting better!

I was shown my way to my seat in the theatre - good view not too far from the front. A seated theatre is certainly not the best place to see this act - a club, or even better a pub would be ideal - propping up the bar with a pint in my hand. However, the atmosphere in this venue was excellent in spite of it's unsuitability and Chas & Dave were terrific - great entertainers as well as great musicians! I was worried that as I'd missed over half the performance I wouldn't get to see some of the only Chas & Dave songs I knew. I don't know what they played in the first set, but I got to see them play 'Rabbit', 'Gertcha', 'Ain't No Pleasing You', and 'The 'Sideboard Song' plus a whole load of other stuff - some of which turned out to be familiar like their hits 'London Girls' and 'Margate'. I was well pleased! They were selling signed CDs out of their suitcase after so I had to get one of them as well. A night of top entertainment - and all for a fiver - a right result! 

26/9/2006 Towers Of London (sort of) @ the Borderline

SubjectTowers Of London (sort of) @ the Borderline

had been really looking forward to this show when it was first announced. However, it emerged two key members of the band had been sacked after a recent incident in Japan and it seemed doubtful this gig would even take place.  The promotions people assured me the show was definitely still on so down to the Borderline we went - not expecting much, but curious to see what the remainder of the band could do in the circumstances. We wondered if replacement members could be found and rehearsed in the little time available?

At the time the show was due to start the venue only looked about half full - I already knew that some people had decided not to bother attending in light of recent events.  We noticed that there was no drum kit set up on the stage - in fact there was nothing apart from a single Marshall amp. This was not encouraging, and also discounted the possibility of a rumoured 'acoustic' set. I looked round for some of the usual familar faces I see at Towers gigs, but many were conspicuous by their absence... Amusingly, there were virtual  look-a-likes for every member of the band - including the newly ex-members. There also seemed to be plenty of 'industry' present at what was due to be an important show for the band as it was to launch their forthcoming documentary series on Bravo TV.

Some time later than they were supposed to 'Towers Of London' took to the stage - maybe they were waiting to see if the venue filled up? It did fill up by the time just Donny and Dirk took to the stage for what was effectively a 'Tourettes Of London' performance of only five songs. Towers Of London are a band - not just two people, but two people was all we got tonight. I glad it was a free show 'cos I certainly would have felt cheated if I'd had to pay for a ticket. Interestingly, I saw bass player Tommy in the crowd - why wasn't he playing? This seemed very odd as with just singer Donny and rhythm guitarist Dirk on the (very empty) stage they really needed to fill the sound out as much as they could. I admire the two Tourette brothers for their sheer front (something they never seem short of) in getting up and playing this important show on their own, but to me and everyone else I spoke to it just wasn't working. Donny is a great frontman, but he needs a good band behind him to give him something to work against. There were some fans down the front who seemed to be loving it, but as far as I was concerned Donny isn't a strong enough singer and the songs aren't strong enough to stand on their own with this lineup - these are rock 'n' roll songs and this needs a full-on rock band blasting it out to make it work. This band needs a 'guitar hero' like the recently departed Rev and a drummer like the also now absent Snell to make it all happen. A couple of the band's hardcore fans I spoke to at the gig were very disappointed with the show - one even saying it was 'the end'. Even if the band can get through this and carry on with new members then it is certainly the end of an era. The Rev will be a very hard person to replace - not many guitarists could fill his shoes. Even if the band manage to find top quality replacements for the two missing Towers I doubt it can ever be the same again.

I had a chat with bassist Tommy afterwards and asked him why he didn't play this gig? He claimed he was far too drunk.  He certainly was very drunk, but there wasn't even a bass amp set up on the stage... He was emphatic that Towers would continue though, and insisted "This is only the beginning!"

Watch this space...

24/9/2006 Vamps 'N' Gypsies @ the Purple Turtle

SubjectVamps 'N' Gypsies @ the Purple Turtle

I arrived as The Random were playing. Fortunately they sounded better than they looked - like an indie band who maybe like a bit of rock too. This is a band so organised that their setlists even tell them which guitars to play on each song. Unfortunately, they aren't a band so organised as to have a spare bass handy in case the bass player breaks a string - which is what happened tonight. However, their frontman is together enough to start playing a well known (Oasis? - I can't remember now) song with the rest of the band joining in while the bass player puts a new string on so the singer earns points for that.

Once again, Vamps 'N' Gypsies are billed to follow an act who shouldn't really be on the same bill at all, but all bands have to deal with this sort of thing. This lot take it in their stride though, and deliver their usual entertaining show.

This is a outfit who as Justin Hawkins once said of his own band are "in the entertainment business" and perform accordingly - something a lot of other bands could do well to follow. Unlike, most of the other bands on the same scene who do attempt to give a good ROCK show - Vamps 'N' Gypsies also remembered to write some good songs as well - something else many of the bands on this circuit could do well to learn from. Like JOANovARC, this is one of the few bands I don't get tired of seeing time and time again.

22/9/2006 JOANovARC @ the Hope & Anchor

SubjectJOANovARC @ the Hope & Anchor

Another trip to one of London's best known pub venues, this time to see the amazing JOANovARC who continue to establish themselves as one of the best upcoming rock acts on the live circuit. These girls absolutely thrive on playing to a full venue and are always out to impress by knocking 'em dead with a red hot performance. Tonight is one of those shows you know is going to be great long before the band take to the stage. The venue is pretty full, the band have loads of friends there, and apparently a lot of industry people too - there is a real buzz in the air.

The Cut were supposed to be the headline band, but they end up going on before JOANovARC. I thought The Cut were pretty good - not the sort of band I'd normally go and see, but it's nice to discover good new bands playing on bills with acts you already know. They are a tight three piece and play sharp guitar led indie/pop/rock - a name to watch I think.

This was certainly one of the better JOANovArc shows that I've seen - they always seem to pull something special out of the bag when needed. That said, even an average JoA show is better than many better known band's very best. As usual, the band rise to the occasion - this is a group who really feed off the crowd and their reaction, and this is a band who always get a great crowd reaction. Many bands seem only able to do this when playing to a familiar crowd who already know them well, but JOANovARC can do this even when playing to an audience who largely don't know who they are. This is due to not only having excellent songs, and having a very high standard of musicianship, but also due to the sheer passion and fire with which they play - you can tell these girls absolutely live for the moment they are on that stage playing their music. This isn't an act - this is real. I never seem to get tired of seeing this band, as they are constantly evolving their set and adding new songs while their performances are always captivating.

20/9/2006 Avoidance Of Doubt @ Bar Monsta

SubjectAvoidance Of Doubt @ Bar Monsta

This isn't the sort of thing I normally go and see, but as I play in another band with MikeE from Avoidance Of Doubt I thought I'd go down to check them out at Bar Monsta. It was certainly an interesting evening. Support was from Kreuzdammer who I guess would be described as a cyber/goth band. In spite of their image, they sounded more like a dance act playing through an almost inpeneterable wall of distortion. They were more interesting to look at than to listen to and not much in the way of actual songs was discernable through the wall of noise. They had a good frontman who kept the attention though.

Avoidance Of Doubt were certainly more interesting to watch and to listen to. Their Goth/cyber/industrial/metal is influenced by Marilyn Manson and Rammstein among others. Machine/man MikeE sits at the back in his sci-fi looking helmet containing a built in cooling fan pounding out a rock solid beat while an uber-bass Goddess and ultra-goth guitarist grind out some crunching metallic rhythms. Frontman D-Void cannot be ignored as he runs round the room screaming and howling like a man possessed.
Heads are banged!


I wonder if the spectacular wings which appear in some of the band's publicity photos will make an appearance in an 'intimate' venue like this?
They do!
It was certainly an interesting night and worth a trip to Camden on a Wednesday.

19/9/2006 Vamps 'N' Gypsies, Lethal Fixx, and Red Star Rebels @ the Underworld

SubjectVamps 'N' Gypsies, Lethal Fixx, and Red Star Rebels @ the Underworld

This was all at rather short notice - Faster Pussycat and Enuff Z Nuff were supposed to be the headliners at this show. A story overheard in the toilet was that Faster Pussycat's singer had decided he wasn't being paid enough so had backed out of playing the gig.  I have no idea what happened to Enuff Z Nuff. Consequently, Red Star Rebels were now the headline act, with Lethal Fixx and Vamps 'N' Gypsies supporting. They were looking to add a fourth band, but I don't think a suitable act could be found in time.

Vamps 'N' Gypsies were planned to go on second at around 8.30 so I timed my arrival accordingly. Unfortunately, when I walked into the Underworld at 8.25 they were already halfway though their set!  As a fourth band couldn't be found to fill up the bill they had to go on earlier than planned. The band turned in a good performance and looked like they were thoroughly enjoying playing at this famous venue for the first time! The first of many appearances at this venue I hope... 

I'd seen the main band I'd gone there to see and the Newcastle Brown started to take hold after that... 

Lethal Fixx were on next, but as they failed to impress me musically last time I saw them I didn't pay them much attention - yet another band on this scene who pay more attention to style than substance - as I guess their fans do too. Most these band's music goes in one ear and out the other. Girls seem to like them though:

They were followed by Red Star Rebels, who are good at what they do, but I got tired of them quite quickly as I'd seen them so many times. At least their singer has ditched that hat now.

As usual we were all being kicked out of the Underworld at 10.30 - who the hell want's to go home that early?  It's not like it was a weekend and there was a club after - there were plenty of people in there willing to spend money at the bar if it had stayed open. I have some time ago come to the conclusion the Underworld is managed by idiots. 

I was not the only one of the crowd to think it was far too early to be going home, so we searched some neighbouring watering holes in search of booze and amusement. Bar Monsta was our first port of call, but it was full of indie and emo kids and the band playing did nothing to excite so we tried the Good Mixer. Nothing much appeared to be happening there either so we ended up in the Dublin Castle and at around midnight I made the unusually sensible decision to catch the last tube.

13/9/2006 Shush @ the Hope & Anchor

SubjectShush @ the Hope & Anchor
PostedDate9/13/2006 7:30:00 PM

There's a good turnout to see Shush at the Hope & Anchor tonight - the biggest crowd I've seen the band play to so far. The punters are rewarded for venturing out on a Thursday night with the hardest rocking show I've seen the band perform to date. The sound isn't particularly good in this pub basement - Milena's vocals and guitar are too quiet. The drums however, and the loudest I've ever heard in this venue! This is because ex-AntiProduct thunder-merchant Simon 'The Gonk' is behind the kit beating seven bells out of it - and looking like he is thoroughly enjoying himself! Marina completes the ex-AntiProduct rhythm section and in spite of current serving AntiProduct member Milena featuring on lead vocals and rhythm guitar - this band sound nothing like AntiProduct. Actually, no-one sounds like AntiProduct, but no-one sounds like Shush either! This band have a pop edge to the polished and sweetly smooth vocals, but a strong underlying ROCK sound with their powerful rhythm section and twin guitar attack.  In spite of the less than perfect sound mix tonight, the band get a great reception and can consider it a job well done. 
PS: I have no idea why there appears to be a Towers Of London picture from a completely different venue in this blog....

12/9/2006 Buckcherry @ the Underworld

SubjectBuckcherry @ the Underworld

I'd been looking forward to this gig for some time, although I wasn't sure what to expect as I think there are only two original members in the reformed band. I saw the old band a few years ago at The Garage and they were terrific. I'm surprised the band are playing in such a small venue this time - I think it sold out some time ago and they could have filled the Mean Fiddler. I needn't have worried - Buckcherry are still a great live band. The core of singer Josh Todd and guitarist Keith Nelson remains from the original band, and as they are the key songwriters then hopefully the new album (when the one I've had on order for weeks finally turns up) will maintain the quality of the first two.

As is often the case in the Underworld, the sound quality leaves a lot to be desired (as does the air conditioning) but the performance of the band is excellent in spite of the sauna like conditions. Fortunately, the management of the club had actually opened the other bar for once - which helped matters slightly as just getting a drink can often take ages in this venue. The band were on fine form and I thought they were at least as good as when I saw them at The Garage first time round. As would be expected, songs from the new album were featured prominently, although how effective this was in promoting it is open to debate as it is still only available on import in the UK and I've yet to hear anything from it apart from 'Crazy Bitch'. That aside, the setlist was a crowd pleaser overall with plenty from the previous two albums. I think my only favourites that were missed out were 'Whisky In The Morning' and 'Dirty Mind'. Not surprisingly, 'Lit Up' was saved for the encore - although it wasn't the last song - which did surprise me. That honour went to 'Crushed' I think. Still, it was a great show and well worth waiting for - let's hope we don't have to wait so long before Buckcherry are back again.

I rounded off the evening with a visit to Bar Monsta where the Buckcherry 'aftershow' was supposedly taking place, although I didn't stay long enough to see if any of the band actually turned up. Red Light Rippers from Canada were playing when I walked in. I'd downloaded one of their songs 'Trailer Trash Trixie' fromFading Ways but thought it was very generic and not too impressive. However, I have to admit that song sounded much better when they played it live. The band scored a few cred points for throwing in a crowd pleasing New York Dolls cover but apart from that I didn't see enough of their set to really judge them on. The singer moaned about the effectiveness of the air conditioning in Bar Monsta, but anybody who was in the Underworld earlier would have found Bar Monsta pretty damn cool in comparison! However, at least the Underworld had good supplies of beer - unlike Bar Monsta who had completely run out of beer and cider by the time I arrived even though the place wasn't that full.  At this point I decided to head for home while I could still walk unassisted - unlike a week earlier.  

10/9/2006 Honeykill @ the Pleasure Unit

SubjectHoneykill @ the Pleasure Unit

Most of London's 'toilet' venues seem to be concentrated in the East End these days - is it on it's way to being the 'new Camden'? Bethnal Green isn't the classiest of areas and Camden is now getting more upmarket and a very expensive area to live - probably not good for rock 'n' roll in the area... The Pleasure Unit is a bit of a dump to be honest, but there are certainly worse venues in the East End. Like many of them, it is just a run down pub pretending to be something else. Still, that's better than the area losing another pub or music venue and anywhere that gives bands an opportunity to play is welcome. Some fairly well known names on the indie and rock 'n' roll circuit have played at this fairly intimate venue.

I arrive to find an indie band called The Shake playing - they are quite good, but not really my sort of thing.

I'm there to see Honeykill. It's only the second time I've seen this band, and I'm looking forward to seeing the proper Honeykill lineup as when I saw them at the Dublin Castle their drummer had just left and singer/guitarist Jimi had to play drums. However, it is not to be on this occasion - they have a new drummer, but have stand-in keyboard player Nell for this gig. All the same, the band's performance is much improved for this show with Jimi back where he belongs at the front of the stage with a guitar in his hands instead of drumsticks. This band is much more effective with a twin guitar attack and tonight gives a better indication of what they are really capable of. Foo Fighters and Queens Of The Stone Age seem to be the strongest influences although this band are quite different from either. In spite of the cheap and tacky nature of the venue, the sound out front is quite good - although I'm told afterwards that it was pretty poor onstage. It's also very hot which doesn't help the band as it's always far hotter onstage than anywhere else in the room. Bass vixen Tish din't seem very animated compared to the Dublin Castle show, but apparently this was due to the extreme heat. There did seem to be some air-conditioning, but it didn't appear to be very effective. To be fair, it might have been far worse if it wasn't working at all though. Still, I enjoyed the band's set and it was a good Monday night out - well worth the trip. The band seemed to think so too as they had quite a good turnout according to the figures on the door. And hopefully, next time I will see the proper Honeykill lineup!

5/9/2006 Teenage Casket Company & Vamps 'N' Gypsies @ Bar Monsta

SubjectTeenage Casket Company & Vamps 'N' Gypsies @ Bar Monsta

Once again Vamps 'N' Gypsies were due on stage very early at Bar Monsta. However, as a couple of the other bands on the bill didn't make it they ended up going on rather later than the original 7.45 start time. Fortunately, a reasonable crowd had gathered by then. This band are always entertaining to watch as well as playing good music, and this was probably one of their better shows. 

As usual, much alcohol was consumed by the band - both before, during and after the show...

'Flash' Danny drinks beer...

Flash Danny ends up on floor.
This is a band who are always out to have a good time, whether they are playing the music themselves, or enjoying watching the other bands. 

Unfortunately, Innocent Rosie and Junction X111 couldn't make the gig for various reasons. Next band were Toybox - a band who I always seem to have missed in the past when they played at this venue as they tend to be on early before I've arrived. To be honest I didn't enjoy their set at all, although it was brightened up by them having probably the best looking drummer I've ever seen. Their music left me cold though. 

Final band of the night were Teenage Casket Company This is a band I've been wanting to see for some time. I first heard of them after I saw their bass player Laney74 play at the 12 Bar Club a couple of years ago in his other band DIP (who incidentally are terrific) then I downloaded TCC's song 'Dial It Up' from Five Miles High and was very impressed. This band certainly don't disappoint live - they describe themselves as a punk version of Bon Jovi, but actually they are a lot better than this sounds! Another good thing is that they don't have a keyboard player - they also lack Bon Jovi's 'cheese' factor so it's all good. In fact it's very good. The band come from Nottingham so don't play in London very often, but I shall certainly be looking out for them again. 

Once again, I ended up getting carried away with the cheaper booze now available at this Camden venue and missed the last tube. I didn't really care by then though, and fortunately had already made sure I didn't have to go to work the next day. Just as well really as I ended up getting pretty wasted and still felt a bit shaky when I got up around 12.30 the following day.  Still, I had an excellent night out and enjoyed some great bands so it was well worth it. 
Bar Monsta is now Camden Rock and one of the dodgiest venues in London. Avoid.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

25/8/2006 The Ramonas @ Bloomsbury Bowling Lanes

SubjectThe Ramonas @ Bloomsbury Bowling Lanes

Some gigs you just know are going to be fun - Ramonas shows fall into this category.  Like virtually everyone, I'd never heard of Bloomsbury Bowling Lanes. However, it was easy to find and only a few minutes walk from Russell Square station. The venue is under the Tavistock Hotel in Bedford Way - which doesn't really suggest a venue for punk rock. I paid my £5 and walked downstairs past a sloping seated area where people were drinking beer and watching Ramones films on an overhead screen - things were looking up. As the venue name suggests, there are indeed bowling lanes - however the open layout of the place means nothing really seems to get in the way of anything else. The whole place has a 1950's American theme, but not too over the top and fake as often happens - it seemed pretty cool. The cool atmosphere was greatly enhanced by a DJ spinning a great mixture of classic punk rock and 50's rock 'n' roll.  I don't know if live music is a regular feature there, but there is a small stage. I viewed the trendy looking bar with deep suspicion though - was I about to get ripped off and forced to drink trendy 'fashion' lagers when I prefer my beer brown? I wasn't surprised by the lack of hand pumps on the bar, although there did seem to be taps for two or three different lagers - none of which I had heard of. However, they were all 'off'.  Things weren't looking good - it was looking like a choice of bottled lager or bottled lager - all no doubt overpriced. I spotted a menu card on the bar with all the available beers listed on it. There was an impressive selection - and I'd never heard of any of them! I noted that 'Bernard Dark' looked interesting and came in a large bottle at £3.50 - not much more than I'd usually pay for Newcastle Brown in a music venue. I ordered one and found it arrived in a fancy bottle like Grolsch. It also said 13% on the label - result! It was brown, tasted nice enough, and was really strong without being outrageously priced - I found myself rapidly warming to this venue. 

There was a good crowd in for a Friday night, busy but without being too crowded. This was good as a percentage of the money taken on the door is going to Cancer Research UK. The mixture of people looked cool too. One thing which did surprise me was the almost total lack of APRA present.  I met Myk, and also Alex Kane as well as Clare (obviously as she was in the band) but were was everyone else? 

The DJs had got the crowd perfectly warmed up with a great mixture of highly appropriate punk and rock & roll when the Ramonas took to the stage and launched into 'Rockaway Beach'. After that it was a non-stop assault of Ramones classics with scarcely a pause for breath before the next wuntoofreefour and barrage of buzzsaw guitar fuelled pop tune. The pace was fast and furious - the already fast 'Blitzkrieg Bop' must have been nearly twice the speed of the original album version! The thing is, that is exactly what the Ramones were about - great catchy sing-a-long pop tunes - but really fast so they can get onto the next one. The Ramonas play the same number of songs in about thirty minutes as most bands play in an hour! The more songs they can get through, the more chance there is of playing all your favourites. They didn't play all  my favourite Ramones songs, but they certainly got nearly all of them into the set - including the terrific 'Surfin' Bird' - a song I've never heard anyone else play.  It's great to see the spirit of the Ramones kept alive - it's also loads of fun!  These girls do a good job of showing people how exciting the Ramones could be, and not to say that the 'brothers' didn't look cool, but the Ramonas are certainly easier on the eye. 

Unfortunately, this may well be the only London show the Ramonas play this year. I've got to quite like this venue after my first visit so hopefully the band will play here again as the night seemed to go really well.

23/8/2006 Rock & Comedy Night @ Bar Monsta

SubjectRock & Comedy Night @ Bar Monsta
PostedDate8/23/2006 7:03:00 AM

My main reason for attending was to see Vamps 'N' Gypsies - I don't normally go and see comedy, but it sounded like it might make an interesting change. I sort of assumed the the 'rock' would be sandwiched inbetween the 'comedy' on the bill, but discovered I was wrong when I arrived and found Vamps 'N' Gypsies had gone on much earlier than I expected and only had about ten minutes of their set left!  I know I wasn't the only one to be caught out by this.  Shortly after I arrived, four string slinger Rich managed the unusual feat of breaking a bass string. What little I got to see of the band's set was good apart from that though.  You can read a review by someone who probably saw more of the band's set than I did here.

Next on was comedian Jason Rouse. He performed at Download this year and his act is very much tailored towards the 'rock' audience. Quite a bit of his material is deliberately outrageous, some maybe going a bit too far with his constant references to underage sex and incest. He counters his more OTT comments with a forced grin as if to say 'Hey - only joking folks!', but I think we already knew that - it's what comedians do - right? Some of his stuff wasn't that original, and he referred to some notes at times - which is not quite what I would expect from someone used to performing to large crowds at festivals. That said, he did make me laugh a few times with some genuinely funny and perceptive remarks - although not as much as the bloke standing by the bar with his frequent bursts of forced sounding bellowing laughter, which made me wonder if he was a 'plant' or one of the performer's mates? Mr Rouse was good at interacting with his audience - which certainly helped in the more 'intimate' surroundings of Bar Monsta.

Final act of the night was The Orator. I wasn't quite sure what to expect here - was it a solo stand-up act, or a band? It turned out to be both - an uneasy mixture which didn't seem to work very well as far as I was concerned.  I thought the stand-up part of the act was quite good, although it tended to rely heavily on digs at hippies - an easy target as nearly everybody hates them! Things went downhill when 'The Orator' got behind the drumkit to play and sing. The band consisted of just a guitarist, a girl cheerleader on backing vocals, and The Orator himself on drums and lead vocals. It was all a bit of a mess and would have sounded much better with the power of a full ROCK band. The guitarist was competant enough on his Les Paul, but made everything sound like recycled Rage Against The Machine or Audioslave riffs. It has to that said that The Orator is not the best drummer in the world, and his singing is virtually inaudible anyway. The musical part of the show is pretty dreadful - if he were to get a decent drummer and a bass player in and front the band on just vocals it would probably be a lot more credible as well as a lot more powerful. I think The Orator should either do that, or just stick to solo stand-up...

Still, it was a varied night of entertainment in Camden and at least I enjoyed the little music I heard from Vamps 'N' Gypsies, and some of the comedy - you can't complain for a fiver really.
Bar Monsta has since turned into Camden Rock - one of London's dodgiest venues.