Tuesday, 7 August 2018

7/8/2018 Gabriella Jones @ The Hope & Anchor

Tuesday night finds me heading down to Islington to see Gabriella Jones at the Hope & Anchor. It's early doors but I find the place already nearly full. Looking around I notice it's an odd looking crowd for a normal 'rock' gig - only later do I find out it's an industry showcase gig!
The band sound good and the music sounds polished. It's a soulful mixture of rock, pop, and blues. At previous Gabriella Jones gigs I have been at the lady had put her guitar down for a song or two and just performed as a singer with backing band, but tonight she sends the band packing and performs solo - telling us they will be back later.... As indeed they are. Planet Rock radio listeners might recognise the drummer adding rather a Bonham vibe to the show.
I am a little disappointed not to hear the cover Gabriella often plays of Bobby Bland's 'Ain't No Love In The Heart Of The City'  and the set is shorter than I expected for a 'headline' show, but it's a 'showcase' gig so.... As usual the set finishes on a high with  Gabriella's catchy radio friendly single 'Take Me To The Party'.
Gabriella tells me after the show that she thought it went very well and she seems pleased with how things went - so hopefully this showcase gig will lead to bigger and better things...

Sunday, 5 August 2018

5/8/2018 Tequila Mockingbyrd & Garage Flowers @ Fiddlers Elbow

Sunday night finds me heading down to Camden - well Chalk  Farm really although the venue likes to say it's in Camden. Still, it's only one tube stop north of Camden Town so who's complaining? The Fiddlers Elbow is a proper old fashioned pub rock venue, although I think it's claim to be 'legendary' is stretching it a bit - it hardly has the music heritage or history of the Hope & Anchor or Dublin Castle. However, if you like your music venues intimate and gritty (and also with real ale) then this rather grotty pub is an excellent little music venue! No corporate bullshit or officious security here - this is how pub rock used to be and all the better for it. I am slightly surprised to find the bass player from the headline band taking my money as I pay in on the door, but at least I know my money is going straight to the band!

First act of the evening is The Garage Flowers.
I saw this lot in Barnet a couple of years or so ago and was impressed by their old school dirty rock and roll sleaze and swagger. If you can imagine the Rolling Stones crossed with the Libertines then you wouldn't be a million mikes away - especially as the have a Keef-a-like lead guitarist. They have catchy songs too, plus plenty of attitude. There have been one or two changes to the lineup since I first saw them and the new bassist plays a right-handed Rickenbacker left-handed - which looks particularly awkward. This band definitely have potential though - all the ingredients for success seem to be there, and if they just got the right breaks they could do well. Which is more than can be said for the following act.

Even before they have finished setting up you can tell we are about to be assaulted by something particularly loud and heavy - which I don't have a problem with at all. However, while some bands have individual musicians who might not be that special but when put together have something that makes them greater than the sum of their parts - sometimes the opposite is true. This band is Renegade Twelve. There are only five of them, but maybe Renegade Four would be more appropriate. They are all excellent musicians, but even as they are setting up you can sense one or two egos that are bigger than the band's sound.
They are indeed loud and heavy, and also seem to have brought a decent crowd. Unfortunately they seem to have forgotten to write anything that could be mistaken for a decent song. Shredding, gurning, and super heavy riffing count for little (in my book) if you have little that resembles any memorable songs. The band does actually have a rather good frontman with a good line in stage patter, even though he looks like just another chump from the bar - unfortunately he is the member of the band who looks least like he is actually in a band - not a good quality for a frontman. One of the guitarists is although an excellent shredder (as is his opposite number) at least as good at gurning as he is at playing the guitar and seems somewhat in love with himself - his ego really requires a larger stage and a bigger crowd to worship him - although I suspect in his head this is what is happening tonight. The rhythm section are pretty good, and although more 'background' members of the band actually have more interest and originality than the guitarists - who although excellent technically as they take turns shredding and riffing are very 'metal-by-numbers'.

This is the second time I have seen Tequila Mockingbyrd in a few weeks. I am glad to finally be able to see them in a venue which isn't overcrowded as The Dublin Castle was at Camden Rocks - it's nice to actually be able to see the band this time!
Tequila Mockingbyrd have been on tour in the UK for some time now and this is their last show before heading back to their native Australia. As a result they are a tight and powerful unit.
Loud and in your face with some catchy songs these girls are not unlike a down-under version of Rock Goddess - although their best known tune 'I Smell Rock n Roll' reminds me of our own JoanOvArc's 'Live Rock N Roll'.
The girls get a big sound for a power trio and play hard and fast. This a a band who totally believe in what they are doing and have worked hard to get this far. Like Scottish power trio The Amorettes this lot take no prisoners. Well worth the money and the Sunday night trip down to Chalk Farm - two out of three ain't bad!

Friday, 3 August 2018

3/8/2018 Syteria & Porcelain Hill @ New Cross Inn

This is my first visit to the New Cross Inn, but I'm sure it won't be the last. The venue used to have a rather dodgy reputation, but with a change of management things appear to have improved and there now seem to be bands regularly playing who I want to see. I've not been here before partly because of it's reputation, and also this South London pub not being very easy to get to from North London. However, things have changed recently with a new Overground train service and the Night Tube. Tonight there are four bands on the bill and a low price on the door - what's not to like?

Syteria are the main reason I'm here and the other bands are all new to me, but they are all worth seeing - one in particular , but more about them later...

I arrive as Bexatron are playing.
I've heard the name, but don't really know anything about the band and this is the first time I've seen them. They are fun! They play sort of punky sleazy rock 'n' roll - with a very strong 1970's glam rock influence. Regular readers might recognise the drummer Belle, who also plays with MaleficentLilygun, MGT, among others and also Killing Miranda in past times.
Bexatron play catchy tunes and have an entertaining frontgal - I will be looking out for them in the future.

Next up are a band so new to me that I haven't even heard their name before, although I suspect we move in different circles and don't inhabit the same scene.
This is Bled The Fifth. This is modern sounding metal of the sort you might find on Kerrang! Radio. If you like Marmozets you may well like this lot too. I think the biggest thing about this band is the bass players ego as he seems to spend most of his time strolling about with his wireless system and trying to upstage the singer. The band all seem decent enough musicians, but none of their songs really grab me and they look a bit too 'band from the pub' to make much of an impression.

Next is the big surprise of the night. Earlier I noticed these weird looking guys hanging around - looking a bit like 'rock stars'. Are they in the right place? Suddenly they are on the stage, with instruments in their hands - yes, they are in the right place!
I have absolutely no idea who these guys are, but I make it my business to find out - they tear the roof off the place! They are called Porcelain Hill. They are like a Jimi Hendrix Experience for the new millennium, with Cream and early fired-up hard rocking blues/boogie ZZ Top added to the mix. These guys can play!
They rock really hard, but there is also blues, funk, and soul mixed in - it's a powerful combination. Apart the obvious Hendix comparisons with the band's singer/guitarist, the bass player is like a mixture of Noel Redding and Rush's Geddy Lee - on speed! The drummer is no slouch either. This band are electrifying! As well as top quality musicianship, there is also showmanship - I've seen plenty of guitarists do the old 'playing guitar behind the head' trick, but this guy takes it further and plays a whole song with his guitar slung behind his back - including ripping out a terrific blues solo!
This band have come over from the USA for their first ever tour of the UK and are playing in every pub and club they can get a gig at - what started out booked as a short UK tour has been constantly extended with added dates and they have now been over here for months! These guys work really hard, and play hard too.
Porcelain Hill are a powerful and dynamic force - I can't recommend them highly enough. This band is my best new discovery in a long time.

And finally comes the band I have actually travelled to South London to see.
Syteria have travelled all the way from Leeds just for this gig - and been stuck in traffic on one of the hottest days of the year - so the least I can to is travel over from the other side of London to see them. It's well worth it!
Syteria are Jackie from Girlschool's new band - well I say new but they have been going for a couple of years or so now. Girlschool are still going, but Jackie likes to keep busy during that band's downtime. Syteria are a very different band though, maybe a bit heavier than Girlschool, and also with more of a punk edge with Jackie going back to her roots - emphasised by a cover of the Ramones classic 'Rockaway Beach'!
The standard of musicianship in this band is high. Keira on bass in particular being very impressive - I have never seen anyone play slap bass on a Rickenbacker before!
Julia on vocals is dynamic and engaging, while Pablo on drums really powers things along - although he escapes from behind his kit during the last song of the set.
Jackie really tears it up and seems to be thoroughly enjoying being able to express herself more freely musically than she can in Girlschool, although I know she absolutely loves playing with them too.
Syteria have been developing the show(wo)manship side of their performance over the past year or so and are definitely raising their game. They have their first album 'Rant O Bot' out now and are eager to get out and play to promote it - go and see them if you get a chance.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Flying Legends air display 2018

I just got a new motorcycle. Well not new exactly, but it's a year newer than my last one which got pranged last September and written off - see previous posts.... My new machine is also only a third of the mileage of my last one as well as being faster and considerably more powerful. I had to go on a Speed Awareness Course soon after getting my last one (after managing to keep a clean licence for many years) so I'm going to have to be even more careful on this one.... Having had the bike for less than a week I am itching to go out for a decent run on it to try it out properly - and what better than a trip out into the country on some fast roads that I know well. Even better - England are playing in the World Cup the same day so there is less traffic on the roads, and less crowds at Duxford airfield for the Flying Legends Airshow.

I take it fairly easy on the trip up to Duxford as I'm still getting used to my new machine and it has the potential to get me into a lot of trouble very quickly! It's a beautiful summer's day - hardly a cloud in sight and one of the hottest days of the year - perfect to be out on a fast motorcycle. The bike goes like a dream and I arrive without any unwanted drama. No queues to get in on the bike (unlike for cars) straight in the VIP entrance and to the bike park right by one of the hangers - no long walk from a distant car park (unlike for car drivers) and I'm ready to enjoy my day out. Going by bike is by far the best way to go to an air display - apart from flying in of course! But bike would still be quicker overall after having to travel to a local airfield first and do pre-flight checks etc.

I arrive with plenty of time to spare before the flying started for a change. It got going with a scramble by eleven Spitfires - nearly a whole squadron!
I didn't really bother taking any pictures the aircraft while airborne - unless you have a telephoto lens there is no point - zoom on a digicam or phone just doesn't cut it - just a big blue sky with some little dots. I got some half decent pictures of some aircraft after they landed though as I knew the best place to stand where they would pass close by on their way to park up after giving their 'performance'. I didn't get all of them though as some aircraft took a different route back over the grass to park.
Spitfires are always likely to be well represented at this historic airfield as not only did they fly from here during the Battle of Britain but the first ever squadron to be equipped with Spitfires was 19 Squadron at Duxford in 1938. There were actually three rare Mk1 Spitfires flying today to represent those early days of the Spitfire in service around 1939-1940 but none of them came close enough for me to get a decent picture. The earliest ones I got any close up pictures of were  MkVs - see above and below.


Mk IX (2 seat conversion)

Mk IX (2 seat conversion)

Mk IX (2 seat conversion)
More Spitfires than you can shake a (joy)stick at. And that's not even all of them!

Hurricanes were well represented too.
I remember a time when you were lucky if you got to see just one Hurricane flying at an air display - but today we see four flying together!

The Germans were also well represented.
There were four 'Messerschmitt Bf 109s' flying - actually post-war Spanish built Hispano HA-1112 Buchons. This is a licence built version of the Bf 109 with a British Rolls Royce Merlin engine - ironically the same as fitted to the Spitfire and Hurricane. These are aircraft that featured in the 'Battle of Britain' film made in the late 1960's.

Needless to say - the Yanks got a look-in too!
P-40, P-47 & B-25

P-51 x2, Hawk 75, P-40 x2 & P-47 Thunderbolt

Mustangs have been a common sight at UK air shows for many years - today we get four of them - three shown here.

One of the Mustangs along with a Spitfire also took part in 'The Heritage Flight'. This involved it flying in formation with a modern F-35A 'Lightning 2'. stealth fighter. This was the only appearance by a jet at this air show.. I was interested to see this as it was the first time I'd seen a real F-35. To be honest I got the impression this was more of a PR exercise than a meaningful 'tribute'. Although I was glad to see an F-35 fly at close quarters, I can't say I was very impressed by it's performance - I have seen far more impressive performances of power and manoeuvrability from an RAF English Electric Lightning over 30 years ago. To be fair, this stealth aircraft can't show it's real potential at an air display as most of it's attributes can't be seen and it's whole concept relies on being able to detect and shoot down other fighter aircraft at extreme range before it has been detected itself. If it fails in this then it is in deep trouble as if can't cut it as a close range dogfighter and is easily outperformed in this role even by 1970's designs like the F-16.

Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress 'Sally B' has been a Duxford resident for many years.

Naval aviation is strongly represented.

Grumman Wildcat

Goodyear built Corsair

Chance Vought Corsair

Chance Vought Corsair

Hawker Sea Fury .T20

Hawker Sea Fury Mk.II

Grumman Bearcat

It wasn't all purely military aircraft - this DC-3 in formation with 3 Beech 18 was a very unusual sight.

This DC-3 flew in from Norway.

I'm not normally that interested in civil aircraft, but I really enjoyed the contribution made by the Flying Bulls team. The P-38 Lightning was a particular favourite of mine and looked absolutely stunning in it's polished aluminium finish - it looked amazing in the air too!
Like the P-38 this Flying Bulls B-25 wasn't strictly a 'civil' aircraft either but...
An unexpected highlight of today's show for me was actually a display by an airliner! The Flying Bulls DC-6 put in a very spirited display indeed - tight turns and vertical banks like a fighter!
Like most the other aircraft in the Flying Bulls team this looked amazing in it's polished aluminium finish!
As usual Flying Legends was a terrific day out with a great variety of classic vintage aircraft.
The weather could hardly have been better. As usual I hang around for a while after the show has finished to soak up the atmosphere after the crowds leave... And also so I can just jump on the bike and ride straight out without dealing with any traffic queues.
For a full list and more details of all the aircraft involved including some I saw but didn't get pictures of like the Bristol Blenheim, P-47 Thunderbolt, P-40 Warhawk and F-35 (the only jet and the only modern aircraft) click this link to the official website.

Same time next year then?