Wednesday, 30 April 2014

3/3/2008 Ginger acoustic show @ the Water Rats

SubjectGinger acoustic show @ the Water Rats

First act of this acoustic night at the Water Rats is the Loyalties - the band that rose from the ashes of the second Yo-Yo's lineup. They have already started when I arrive and the place is absolutely packed even this early. They have some decent tunes, but the band sound a bit sloppy and unrehearsed tonight. 

Next up is the Eureka Machines - some of you may have seen Chris Catalyst from this duo as his alter-ego Robochrist (which is quite an experience!) or more recently playing bass with AntiProduct. This is something quite different again, and even in acoustic form I enjoyed their set and thought they had some excellent songs. Chris also has a witty line in banter onstage and is entertaining in his own right. This lot are certainly worth seeing again. 

Ginger's solo shows are always interesting and entertaining affairs. Every gig is quite different, although it has to be said they vary in both quality and atmosphere. That said, I've never regretted going to one as the vibe is quite different to any other performer I've seen.

This show is part of an acoustic tour. Each Ginger acoustic show I've seen has been less 'acoustic' than the last - acoustic guitars plugged into the PA have given way to a Stratocaster, and tonight I see Ginger's famous stickered Les Paul being deployed! Chris Catalyst and Scott Metzger do however both use more authentic acoustic 6 strings, although plugged into the PA.

The setlist is more eclectic than usual, with noticably less Wildhearts material being played. Songs from all three of Ginger's solo albums got an airing, which is only to be expected, but there were several long instrumental jams and after a while people were visibly losing interest and starting to talk or wandering off to the bar. There was a celtic sounding bit which reminded me of Thin Lizzy which I quite enjoyed though - something from his latest album 'Market Harbour' I think.

The atmosphere in the packed out venue was good, although I thought noticably less so than at most other Ginger solo gigs I've attended. One good bit was when Ginger invited people from the audience to get onstage to play various percussion intruments - previously on the tour people had been encouraged to bring their own percussion along to join in. Jason had brought along a cowbell (what else!)  and this could be heard even from the back!  One percussionist was somewhat the worse for wear from drink (there's always one isn't there?) and perched himself on one of the PA speakers at the side of the stage - sending glasses flying. He didn't exactly distinguish himself with his tambourine playing either...

One thing which made this gig different was that Ginger's kids were there - with their mother Angie in attendance to look after them. A particularly touching moment was seeing Ginger singing his ode to his son 'Jake' from his 'Yoni' album while Jake stood by his dad on the stage looking up at him. It almost brought a tear to the old Dark Lord's eye... Ginger's offspring also took part in the performance of 'You And Me (that's what I want)' from the latest album - one of it's most memorable moments.

After a short gap there was the expected encore - including '29 x The Pain' of course! As Ginger returned to the stage for this he made a remark about how it was a shame that some people couldn't handle their drink and spoilt the show for others - apparently directed at the pissed percusionest from earlier. There was an incident I didn't see from the the back which prompted this comment - it would seem that the now sober Ginger has a much lower tolerance for pissed-up idiots staggering about at these intimate shows. With his kids onstage in these cramped surroundings it's perfectly understandable that he should feel protective towards them - especially with drunken idiots falling about onto the stage and broken glass underfoot.

So, there is another Ginger gig in St Albans later in the week - it's only a few minutes drive away for me and it's the last date of the tour. Maybe I'll go...

2/3/2008 Shush & Men & Gods @ Bar Monsta

SubjectShush/Men & Gods @ Bar Monsta

I'm off to Bar Monsta for this one - no fires in Camden tonight and I actually get to the venue this time! Slight improvement on the bar front - cans of bitter available, but it's Tetleys and rather weak. Not as good as Newcastle Brown but it's a step in the right direction... 

I didn't find out who the first band were, but they weren't bad - although the drummer was all over the place.
They reminded me a bit of Queens Of The Stone Age and finished their set with an unexpected cover of the Beatles 'Hey Bulldog' - a song I've never heard anyone else play.

Shush were excellent as usual, and it was good to see Marina back again after her recent trip to Italy.
The band played well, but the sound wasn't too good as the PA seemed to be knackered. It was good to see a strong turnout of APRA personel at this show - the best I've seen at a Shush gig to date!

Men & Gods are another quality act who I've never seen give a bad performance.
Unfortunately they are plagued by technical problems again (the guitar amp packed up at Metro the other day) and tonight the PA is in a poor state - as are the mic stands - all the equipment at this venue seems to be falling apart at the moment.
Due to the state of the PA and the lack of monitors this was a noticably less rocking show than Men & Gods normally give. As they couldn't hear anything on stage they played a quieter and more laid back set with a lot of jamming - I guess this was the closest I am likely to experience to the vibe of an improvised Led Zeppelin performance. However, playing under these conditions and still being able to play really well shows what a class act Men & Gods really are. I am guessing keyboard player Nadia is classically trained as she really knows how to play that thing and is a very natural performer.
Frontman Marc is also very relaxed and fluid in his performance and these really seem like musicians who have 'paid their dues' and are more than ready to move on to greater things...

PS: I discovered later that the first band were Eight's 'N' Aces. More on them in future blogs... This venue eventually turned in to 'Camden Rocks' and went right downhill.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

29/2/2008 JOANovARC & Bubblegum Screw @ 333 Old Street

SubjectJOANovARC & Bubblegum Screw @ 333 Old Street

Most of London's shabbiest rock 'n' roll toilets seen to be in the East End rather than Camden these days - Mother @ 333 Old Street isn't one one of the worst, but it is a bit of a dump and doesn't even have a stage.  However, the bar is better than quite a few venues - which isn't saying much to be honest. 

The first band I catch are Bubblegum Screw.
Unfortunately the sound isn't that great and Mark's vocals are barely audible. This London band do a good job of sounding like they are straight out of 1970's New York, and their new guitarist who at a glance could be mistaken for Dave from Marionette has a good Johnny Thunders style sound with his Les Paul Special copy guitar.
There is also a Ramones influence from bass player Zuri, while Mark is almost more Johansen than Johansen, with some Jagger thrown in as well.
Just as if the NYC influence isn't blatant enough, they throw in a rather fast cover of  the Dead Boys classic 'Sonic Reducer' for good measure.

JOANovARC are on good form as ever and manage to radiate sheer class even in a dump like this.
Somehow they manage to get a better sound than the previous band. New rhythm guitarist Luita seems to be fitting in well and filling out the sound nicely - she seems more at ease than at the recent Borderline show.
Debbie powers things along in her tightly aggressive style behind the kit while Sam and Shelly play their hearts out at the front.
A couple of new songs have been added to the set which bode well for the forthcoming album - hopefully out later this year. I never get tired of seeing this band and they really finish off my Friday night well! 

27/2/2008 What earthquake?

SubjectWhat earthquake?

Did I miss something? 
Apparently there was an earthquake in England last night. 
It happened in Lincolnshire, and although I live in North London and other people who live further south than me felt it quite badly I slept right through the whole thing. It was over 5 on the sphincter scale apparently...

I slept right though the oil depot at Buncefield blowing up a couple of years ago, although I saw the flames and smoke later.
I've been told I'd sleep through a bomb going off....  

25/2/2008 Johnny Panic @ Metro

SubjectJohnny Panic @ Metro

I find myself back at Metro for the third time recently. It's nice to be given a free drink voucher on the way in, although I find out it can only be redeemed against a small bottle of lager - free beer is always good though! 

It's great to see that Johnny Panic are playing to quite a full room - which is as it should be as they are very good live and have loads of great songs.
This band have a distinctive style of their own, although they wear their influences on their sleeves - The Clash, G'N'R, the Manics, and Sex Pistols spring to mind, but they sound like none of these bands.
Rob Solly might look quite unlike a singer in a rock band but is one of the most passionate and dynamic frontmen around - he is also fiercely intelligent and has a lot to say. He makes some spot on remarks about the very annoying toilet attendants normally found in this venue and how he normally waits until his bladder is bursting before venturing into the toilet at Metro! Fortunately the offending creepy guys are absent tonight - lets hope the venue management have finally got the message that these attendants are not appreciated at rock shows...

The set is roughly split halfway between the band's superb debut album 'The Violent Dazzling' and the strong new offering 'The Good Fight'. It's all good stuff and it's a shame they don't have time to play some of the other great songs they have.
I'm a bit disappointed they don't seem to play 'You're A Fool' anymore, but obviously they want to plug their latest album and a few old favourites (also including 'Warn You') have to make way for the new stuff. This is still one of the best sets from any band I've seen recently though.

PS: This venue was demolished to make way for London's 'Crossrail' project.

24/2/2008 In So Far @ the Dublin Castle

SubjectIn So Far @ the Dublin Castle

In So Far end their current tour tonight at the Dublin Castle. Guitarist Hannah tells me this tour has gone really well and they've had a great time, in spite of having a new drummer (also called Hannah) and a stand-in bass player - this band have a different lineup virtually every time I see them!  I only saw In So Far a few months ago, but the rhythm section has changed since then and they are currently looking for a new permanent bassist...
Unfortunately, tonight's show is marred by a terrible sound mix and for the first couple of songs the guitar is totally inaudible. This gets fixed eventually and the band perform well.
In So Far always seem to rock pretty hard, and tonight is no exception.
Paul the singer brings a bit of an emo edge to the band, but without all the pretentious image and whining - no emo fashion victim haircuts and clothes to be seen here - just quality singing from an energetic frontman who holds your attention.
The band have a sponsorship deal with Jagermeister and I notice them pouring out some shots during the set. Are we about to get some free shots? No such luck - the band down the lot themselves mid-set! 

22/2/2008 TAT @ the Luminaire

SubjectTAT @ the Luminaire

A Friday night out in County Kilburn. The Luminaire is a small but above average venue with reasonably priced drinks, although not a good beer selection unless you like lager or Guinness. There's not a great deal of room, but it seems well set up for live music.

I arrive to find what I can only describe as a 'pop group' playing - two girl singers (who are actually rather good) and songs that wouldn't sound out of place on daytime Radio 1. Not my sort of thing at all, but they seemed good at what they did and seemed to have a reasonable following.

I had no idea who else was playing and was only there to see TAT.
They were pretty good as usual, and seemed maybe less ska and more pop/punk based than at previous shows I'd seen.
They've landed a good US touring festival slot for this summer and this is likely to be their last UK gig until around November, although hopefully their debut album will be out around April. The more observant of my regular readers might recognise the drummer in the background as two nights previously he was depping with Shush at the 12 Bar Club.

The last band playing tonight have apparently supported Foo Fighters on tour.
It's a shame they didn't bother to tell us their name as they were actually rather good in a retro AC/DC or Hellacopters style - certainly worth sticking around to see. Oh well.

PS: This venue has since closed.

20/2/2008 Shush & Monkey Puzzle Tree @ the 12 Bar Club

SubjectShush & Monkey Puzzle Tree @ the 12 Bar Club

Another night in the intimate confines of the 12 Bar Club. The first band I catch is Monkey Puzzle Tree. This female fronted band are new to me, but I'm glad I checked them out. They are a pretty straight ahead rock band with influences from the 70's to date. They have a meaty sound and some decent songs, with a few covers thrown into the mix.

The main band of the night are Shush.
Although the club isn't packed on this Wednesday night the turnout isn't too bad and those present seem to enjoy the blend of pop and guitar driven rock this band - and of course it helps that they also have some catchy tunes!
The band are good as usual, although this is "Shush, but not as we know them Jim" as they have a stand-in rhythm section tonight - bassist Marina is away in Italy, and the band are 'between drummers' so Jake from TAT is sitting in with them again.
The deps acquit themselves well and the sound is pretty good in the circumstances.
Certainly well worth a mid-week trip to the west end to break the week up. 

Monday, 28 April 2014

12/2/2008 Danko Jones @ Hoxton Bar & Kitchen

SubjectDanko Jones @ Hoxton Bar & Kitchen

This is another show I've really been looking forward to. I first discovered Danko Jones about 8 years ago when I went to see Backyard Babies at the LA2. I'd never heard of the support act. Out onto the stage walks this black guy wearing a tight fitting suit - "This doesn't look very rock 'n' roll" I was thinking "...and he's got a Telecaster - that's not a very rock 'n' roll guitar!" (OK - I know there are exceptions but there are a very few people who can rock with a Tele). And there were only 3 people in the band - was this some lightweight blues act? Then they started playing. WOW! I was blown away - I don't think I'd ever seen anyone rock so hard!  I went out and bought all the albums and have been a big fan ever since - seeing Danko Jones everywhere from small London clubs like Metro to the Download festival. 

Hoxton Bar & Kitchen seems an odd venue to host an out and out rock show like this - it's more suitable for jazz and blues type acts and is not the most appropriate of places for this bill.  However, The Garage is shut (but not for much longer) so here we are...

The opening act is Tokyo Dragons - it's not the first time they have supported Danko Jones and they are a good choice.
They are very much a retro style 70's/80's out and out rock band, but fired up with punk type energy and the riffing and shape throwing skills of bands like the Hellacopters and Datsuns.
It's pretty basic and raw stuff - they are the 'anti-cool' and their show is packed with totally unfashionable hair, clothes, and guitar solos - and it's all the better for it!
This band aren't for people who let Kerrang! and Metal Hammer tell them what is 'cool' this month - this is a band for people who like to ROCK. End of.

Danko Jones have never disappointed me live - this is a band who truly understand the very simple secret of what made AC/DC so great - really tight playing and a dynamite rhythm section. This band have that same really tight feel - only faster. 
The setlist is a good selection of old and new - going back to the early stuff from 'Alive And On Fire' up to the forthcoming new album 'Never Too Loud'. My only criticism is that they didn't play 'Cadillac' - arguably their best song with it's rhythm and sound that is not so much dirty, as absolutely filthy!

Danko notices some black lacey knickers have appeared on his guitar...

I have to say that although this is a good show, it's probably the least good I have seen this band. I think there are a couple of reasons for this, the first being that it's the first gig of the tour and they haven't really warmed up and got going yet. The second reason is the absence of original drummer Damon Richardson who was replaced for the last album and tour by Dan Cornelius. Dan is good, but not as good as Damon and a little of the tightness and sharpness the band used to have has been lost in my opinion. John Calabrese (or JC) believes in keeping it simple, but is definitely one of the best bass players I have ever seen. Danko himself is a very charismatic performer full of in your face attitude, but seems a little less full of himself than usual tonight. However, at one point a 'JC' chant starts from the audience - Danko is having none of it and responds with "Here's a song about me!" before launching into 'The Mango Kid'.
This is a sold out show and the crowd are really going for it - there is a fierce moshpit, broken glass underfoot, and a very drunk girl who stagedives several times. There are also one or two male stagedivers - JC and the security guys try to shove them off the front of the stage - eventually Danko has had enough and proclaims "Hey - this is my show!". After about an hour of high-powered soul, metal, and R&B tinged hard rock finishing with live favourite 'The Mountain Song' everybody goes home, hot sweaty, and happy!