Monday, 30 June 2014

11/4/2009 Supersuckers, Nashville Pussy & Eyelash

SubjectSupersuckers, Nashville Pussy & Eyelash

Another busy night - shows at ULU and the Purple Turtle I want to see. Fortunately the latter is a late set. I arrive at ULU in time to see Nashville Pussy. I've been less than impressed by the little of their recorded work I've heard so far, but was interested in finally seeing them live for the first time. I remain less than impressed.

They put on an effort to give a good show, but their actual songs aren't so hot.

It's basically just 40 minutes or so of a bunch of rednecks shouting 'Hell yeah!' - dumbed down rock 'n' roll for trailer-trash.

Much is made of the fact that the lead guitarist is female. She can play well enough and looks good while putting on a great show - maybe that's enough in the good 'ole USA but I've seen girl guitarists in little known bands in this country who are far better.

I was a bit worried about how good Supersuckers would be tonight as last time I saw them they seemed tired at the end of a tour and definitely not as good as the previous times I'd seen them - continuing a worrying trend of bands I've seen recently who have lost their earlier sparkle: Backyard Babies and Danko Jones spring to mind...

Tonight's performance at ULU sees a return to form for Supersuckers - not quite the fire of the first few times I saw them, but definitely better than last time. Things dip a little in the 'country' part in the middle of their set, but soon get going again.

Eddie Spaghetti is a great lyricist and an entertaining frontman - unlike the previous band there is a lot of tongue-in-cheek humour.

This is a band who can glory in being 'rednecks' with a certain amount of irony and without decending into cliches. The fantastic 'Born With A Tail' has now become this band's 'Ace Of Spades' and has to be in every setlist, although these days it's gets expanded into quite a long medley. Like Motörhead and their classic of classics it's still an essential part of every show. I wander over to the merch stall to see what's on offer. I was thinking of getting the new Supersuckers album, but £12 seems a bit steep for buying direct from the band and cutting out the middlemen - it's £9.99 from HMV online with free postage. A few days ago I got a nice Danko Jones T-shirt for £10 at their Underworld show - Supersuckers want £20 for a T-shirt! Bollocks to that - they probably cost about £3 each from their suppliers.  I walk away from the merch stand without buying anything...

And now for something completely different. Off to Camden to catch Eyelash at the Purple Turtle. The event is actually a fetish club night with all sorts of other stuff going on. This has two advantages: 1. The band go on well after midnight after various other acts which gives me plenty of time to get there after seeing Supersuckers at ULU. 2. The girls in Eyelash are dressed appropriately in tight PVC dresses!

Last time I saw this usually excellent band (at the Proud Galleries) there seemed to be something missing and frontgal Fe didn't seem to be quite her normal exuberant self. Tonight they are really back on form and this is a terrific show!

Maybe it's because the venue is packed - and it's also the right crowd. This audience are really up for some decadent sleazy fun - and that's exactly what they get!

It also helps that this is a far better venue than the Proud Galleries and the atmosphere is far better too. The crowd are well into it, and the band feed off this and give one of their best performances.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

9/4/2009 Cherry Brakewells @ Water Rats & Lionsex @ The Dirt

SubjectCherry Brakewells @ Water Rats & Lionsex @ The Dirt

After last night going to one of London's venues with the top two stinkiest toilets, tonight I go to the other one. It's not all bad though because the music at the Water Rats  is fantastic!

Last time I saw the Cherry Brakewells here there were some problems with the sound, but things are far better tonight and the band are on fine form.

They seem to be picking up a bit of a following, and appear to be particularly popular with photographers for some reason. ;-)

The band's performance tonight is excellent, with one of the highlights being a surprise Led Zepellin cover. Lead singer Shay introduces it by saying it's pure self indulgence. 'Whole Lotta Love' going down very well indeed with the crowd. Maybe the band should be 'self indulgent' more often?

Just occasionally you see a band who leave you thinking 'This band could really make it all the way'. Cherry Brakewells are one of those bands.

The night is still young, so I head off to the Borderline for The Dirt. This newish club puts a band on fairly late before spinning the tunes into the small hours. It's a bit of an odd night. The club appears to be aiming for the sleaze/glam rock crowd like Decadence and the bands reflect this. However, tonight it's a case of 'right club - wrong crowd'. As well as assorted rockers, the place is full of 'normals' - drunken city boys and tourists who have just wandered in off the street to go to a club - any club. They stagger around and 'dance' like twats - generally ruining any 'rock' atmosphere the people running The Dirt are aiming for.

The band tonight are Lionsex.

In their home town of Milton Keynes they probably seem pretty wild, and maybe even vaguely original to the locals. Round these parts they look incredibly stale and cliched.

They can play well enough, but so can most bands. It would help their cause if two of the band didn't look like they were so desperate to be in Guns 'N' Roses.

Their songs are nothing to write home about, like most other current bands of their genre on the London scene. They are one of the least original bands I've seen for a long time, which wouldn't be so bad if they did what they did really well and with real style like Heaven's Basement. This lot just leave you thinking you've seen it all before. A million times. And better.

This club is in a good venue and certainly has potential, although I don't think there's much point in having 'guest' DJs if they aren't allowed to play what they like...

8/4/2009 Danko Jones @ The Underworld

SubjectDanko Jones @ The Underworld

The last gig I went to was at one of the best venues I know, but now I'm back at one of the worst - well certainly one of the worst run. This show at the Underworld looks sold out, but they haven't even bothered opening the other bar. To add insult to injury, they have put the bar prices up - it's now £4.10 for a bottle of Newcastle Brown! Greedy bastards! It's still only £3 at the Intrepid Fox. and 12 Bar Club. I decide not to let myself get further ripped off at the bar and spend the rest of my cash at the merch stand instead.
Danko Jones shows are always great, and tonight is no exception.

I didn't think the last Danko gig I went to (Hoxton Bar & Kitchen) was quite as good as the previous ones, but this one was back up to par.

The atmosphere was electric - this band has to be one of the best kept secrets in rock. The sheer energy that Danko himself puts into his performance is amazing!
There weren't too many songs played from the most recent studio album 'Never Too Loud', but I wasn't bothered to be honest as it seemed a bit bland and overproduced to me compared to the raw, loud, and dirty sound of the early stuff - check out 'I'm Alive And On Fire' and you'll see what I mean. I'm really glad that 'Cadillac' get's played as I don't think it did last time I saw this band. 'Lovercall' from 'Born A Lion' is a highlight as usual, with John Calabrese starting it with that bassline!

JC really is a fantastic bass player - keeping it simple and really holding everything together in a rock solid way.

The songs on 'Born A Lion' are definitely stronger than on any album since, and I'm glad to see that album is well represented tonight. Danko Jones is a bit like AC/DC in that respect - the earlier stuff is the best.
Another thing this band has in common with AC/DC is a rock solid rhythm section that really drives things along. This is one of the tightest, meanest sounding bands you'll ever see - and it only takes just these three guys to do it. The sheer power that they kick out is incredible!

If there is one criticism I have of this show, it was that there was far too much talking instead of playing from Danko. I've never seen this at the band's previous gigs, but tonight he talked so much that they could easily have played at least a couple more songs instead. I've got to admit that his banter and acting up for the photographers was entertaining, but I paid to hear rock 'n' roll - not a stand-up routine!

4/4/2009 Imperial Vipers @ Hertford Marquee

SubjectImperial Vipers @ Hertford Marquee

Nothing much of interest happening this Saturday night in The Smoke so I take a drive out to Hertford to see Imperial Vipers.

Hertford Marquee is a terrific venue, both from a punters point of view and also the bands who play there. However, there has been one change made at this place recently which has spoiled things somewhat - they have installed a barrier at the front of the stage. Now I can understand the need for a barrier on the occasions when this venue is really full as the stage isn't very high, but they should have got one that is easilly removable for nights like this as it really kills the atmosphere. The Barfly in Camden recently made the same mistake and I have been to gigs there where what little atmospehere there was at lightly attended shows was killed stone dead by the barrier. These things really put a damper on shows and hamper that vital communication between artist and audience.

It's good to see a band of this calibre at this venue. The band play well and have some catchy songs. Oddly for a Saturday night in the county town there aren't many people at this gig - usually there is a good crowd of regulars on a Saturday night.

The band's frontman Ashley does his best to communicate with the crowd, but his work is made harder by the barrier getting in the way.

The band are good enough to make it worth the trip out to Hertford, and a few other people have made the effort to travel from London and also the band's home in the Luton/Dunstable area. It's just a pity more locals didn't make the effort to come and see a quality band on their doorstep.
PS: This venue is now closed.

3/4/2009 A rare local night out

SubjectA rare local night out

Several years ago (when Barnet still had a thriving music scene)  I used to be out watching bands in pubs only a few minutes walk from home nearly every Friday and Saturday night.  The two main pubs for live music have both shut now, and no other local venues have been well run enough to replace them.  So I don't go out much locally any more as there is very little left of any musical interest to me in the area.  The very few pubs round here that bother to put cover bands on don't want to pay enough to get good bands, so the ones that play tend to be dull and average at best - usually good musicians, but giving plodding and lacklustre performances as they go through the motions and play the same tired old songs. I don't really need to hear 'Mustang Sally' and 'Brown Eyed Girl' every week thanks. Or ever again. 

So I was interested to see a new name appear on the scene.

I went to the pub to check them out. 4Q turned out to make a refreshing change from the normal pub fodder and had a setlist containing plenty of punk classics, as well as a lot of 60's and 70's classic rock songs, plus a smattering of indie to bring things up to date. It made a nice change from seeing a bunch of fat middle aged (and older) blokes playing music that only fat middle aged (and older) people like. A couple of the band also play in Camden regulars the Telematics as well as infamous local cover band Binge Drinking - from whom they borrowed some of the songs! 

It was quite an entertaining night, and good to hear a band playing a good but far less predictable set of covers than usually seen round these parts. The pub was pretty full, so they were obviously doing something right.  Quite a few live music loving refugees from other local pubs were in evidence, which shows there is a following for a more 'alternative' cover band locally. Unfortunately, I wasn't so impressed with the pub itself as a music venue - it's a bit small and there is no stage. In spite of this there was a better atmosphere than the pub over the road, which has the potential to be a good music venue. Apart from the band, another reason I was looking forward to this Friday night was to enjoy some better (and cheaper) beer than I normally get at a 'proper' music venue, but The Alexandra couldn't offer any real ales.  Still, it was open till very late so I took full advantage of what was on offer... 
PS: This pub is now closed. At least I managed to play there with my band in the last year it was open.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

2/4/2009 Roxville, Livid, Kitty Hudson & The Erotics @ The Gaff

SubjectRoxville, Livid, Kitty Hudson & The Erotics @ The Gaff

Thursday night and I find myself at what has become one of my favourite small venues - The Gaff in Holloway Road. This is one of the very few venues where real ale is available on tap, although the quality of the Bombardier on offer leaves a bit to be desired.  On paper this is another pretty good bill from Pure Rawk promotions at a bargain price on the door.

The first band on are Roxville.

They are a new name to me, although apparently they are fairly local.

Although they look fairly generic, they actually turn out to be rather good.

They play classic hard rock in quite an 'in your face' way. I'm glad I've seen this band and will be looking out for them in future.

Next up are Livid. I've seen these lads from Stoke-on-Trent once before and been very impressed, so I was looking forward to seeing them again. They don't disappoint!

Style wise they offer nothing new - in fact they look more to the classic bands of the 70's. Imagine if you could see Aerosmith covering Led Zeppelin songs (or vice-versa) but without actually sounding like either band. The thing is - they do it really well.

Their frontman has the style and charisma of Stephen Tyler, but with a soaring voice to match Plant or Gillan.

The lead guitarist just drips Joe Perry cool and has a great sound.

Livid don't play in London very often. Most other London hard rock or retro bands should be very grateful for this, because Livid leave them for dead and would blow them right off any stage they shared with them. They really are that good live. 

Third band tonight has rather a different vibe to the previous couple - this is south London's always fired up and rocking Kitty Hudson.

They don't play north of the river very often - and most other London punk/rock 'n' roll bands should be grateful for this, because Kitty Hudson have better songs than almost all other rock  bands in London of any genre.

They play their short sharp set with real passion - their music is dirty and raw, but packed full of catchy hooks that would put most bands you hear on the radio to shame. Of course radio won't touch them as they don't conform to this year's 'in' look or sound - but I doubt Kitty Hudson give a shit.

As well as a load of great songs of their own like 'M.I.A.' and 'Everyone Loves You When You're Dead' (including a swipe at the whole Jade Goody phenomenon in it's introduction), they also throw in a cool cover of the Heartbreakers 'I Wanna Be Loved'.

I wish Kitty Hudson would venture north of the river more often. 

I mentioned earlier that this was a pretty good bill 'on paper'. This is where it all falls apart.  For the second time in about a year I see a touring 'headline' act from the other side of the Atlantic Ocean totally blown off the stage by the other bands on the bill. Even new local act Roxville were much more professional than The Erotics tonight. Apparently the boys from over the pond had been drinking heavily beforehand - probably not the best of ideas before their opening show of the tour. Anyway, that's my job!  It's not the band's first visit to the UK, and an experienced international touring band really should know better than to get hammered before the show.  They don't sound very together when they start the first song - and halfway through it the bass player's guitar cuts out. (this later turns out to have been his own fault due to 'finger trouble') He throws a prima donna rock star hissy fit mid-song and takes his guitar off and slams it into the stage really hard. It breaks. He doesn't have a spare. And it's only the first song of the first show of the tour. Kitty Hudson's bass player saves their sorry undeserving arses by lending them his guitar. They are lucky anyone was prepared to chance lending them anything after that. 

It doesn't get much better thereafter. The songs are nothing like as good as the previous band, and the singer has a shit voice.

The current album they are touring to promote is called 'Rubbish'. Their set tonight was 'rubbish' too. People expect more of a band that travel all the way from the USA - they expect them to actually be good - especially if they are the headline act. Tonight the Erotics were easily the worst and least professional band on the bill - they deserved to go on first instead of last. Even my camera batteries cried enough halfway through their set and I had to take pictures on my phone instead.

Things did improve briefly when Richie Hudson joined the Erotics for an AC/DC cover - once again Kitty Hudson propping this hapless mob up.

Once again, an undeserving 'headline' act from the USA has shown why after many years they are still playing tiny half full venues...

In spite of the headliners shambolic and unprofessional performance I still had a good night as the other bands on the bill made up for it - I'll definitely be going to see them again. I don't think I'd cross the street to see The Erotics though, as there are far better bands than them playing regularly in toilets all over London.

I'm told the Erotics got their act together for their next show in Nottingham and were much better. It's a pity the journalists from a well known rock magazine were at the London show instead of that one...
PS: This venue is now closed.