Live! – Donovan

This entry is part 1 of 20 in the series Live!

DONOVAN

Ashcroft Theatre, Croydon

8 Nov 2015

Say what you will about Donovan (apart from, that is, all that tediously uninformed old cobblers about him being a Dylan copyist) he’s never predictable. His Beat Cafe tour saw him grace medium-sized venues with a compact electric combo: his 65th birthday bash in 2011 (bugger me, four years already?) came equipped with “Gypsy” Dave Mills, the John Cameron Orchestra, live narration, and a full complement of backing singers primarily comprised of his immediate family. Tonight, however, is a back-to-the-roots affair: cross-legged on a white sheepskin carpet with naught but one guitar and a solitary harmonica, he’s the same bare-bones troubadour that once graced the Earls Court venue of that very name, alongside Bunjies, Klooks Kleek, Les Cousins and the other folk establishments of the day, and he’s come to the Ashcroft’s intimate environs tonight to sing songs and tell stories from a fascinating 50-year career.

Of course, he’s still inherently psychedelic throughout: he’s Donovan for Chrissakes, quite possibly the first artist to release a psych album in the UK, so how, even acoustically, could he be anything but? True, he does kick off with the one song likely to invite those lazy Bobby D comparisons (“Catch The Wind”) but it’s also the song that introduced the world to his talent: within 18 months, any similarity to Mr Zimmerman had been replaced by a uniquely British whimsy that laid down the path for Syd Barrett, the Bee Gees, Tomorrow, Kaleidoscope, the Attack and several other Toytown acts NUTters will find themselves regularly grooving to at 229 or Orleans. And with the exception of the rarely heard debut-album deep cut “The Alamo”, it’s this material (“Guinevere” “Jennifer Juniper” “Little Toy Soldier” “There Is A Mountain” and “Josie”) to which the first set is devoted, each prefaced by anecdotes most contemporary musicians would kill for. Pay attention at the back…

Granted, he does occasionally sound a little impressed with his own importance (in particular, the references to he and the Beatles being the “first musicians to search for deeper meaning and universal consciousness”, but if you were that much of a pioneer, you’d be more than a little pleased with yourself, and anyway, after five decades, surely he’s earned the right to be. Having Paul McCartney pop unexpectedly round to your flat for a jam one Sunday afternoon, only to discover that the careless bassist has “parked” his car halfway across the Edgware Road and the local constabulary are knocking on the door offering to move it for him? Getting stuck in a gents’ bog on a pier with Peter Noone, with Gyp literally combing yards of beach for his lost hash (which, one should add, he found) below, before heading back to the local B’n’B to find the bar being tended by a pink-jacketed Billy Fury? Or, best of all, watching Scott, Gary and John Walker all being tipped upside down into wooden crates by bodyguards and wheeled past hordes of screaming girls, only to be told “by the way, you two are next”? I’d be surprised if anything that interesting has ever happened to Buttfuck & Sons…

But it happened to Donovan: that and more besides. What a time to be a musician, and what a life both he and Gyp (even though the latter is sadly absent tonight) have had. Ragas, meditation, living in castles, being asked by Graham Nash whether he should leave the Hollies and form a new band with “these two fellas from Buffalo Springfield and that guy from the Byrds”: the hippy trip as we know it has been his life, recalled in a gentle voice that switches between Glaswegian, London and Transatlantic twang dependent upon which part of his 69 years on earth thus far he’s recalling. His singing voice, however (forever buffered by his superb guitar playing) remains largely unchanged: deeper in tone for sure, but still possessed of a quavering eccentricity that makes you want to strut down High St Ken in a huge floppy hat, banana-collar shirt and crushed velvet loons giving people flowers. It’s fair to say that now Kevin Ayers is gone, only the Don (and possibly Peter Daltrey) can still really do this…

“Hurdy Gurdy Man” “Lalena” the deliciously silly “Intergalactic Laxative” (when everyone else was ruminating on the political ramifications of the moon landings, our Don was musing on the astronauts’ bowel movements- now there’s true surrealism for you) NUTs fave “Sunshine Superman” the traditional folk air “Young But Growing” and an interesting new composition called “The Promise” bring the second half to an almost perfect close, that is, until for some obscure reason beknownst only to himself, he elects to end by miming to a CD recording of “Mellow Yellow” Why doesn’t he just sing and play it, or at the very least, sing the vocal part live? OK, it might not sound as good without the horns, but isn’t that the point of an acoustic gig anyway?

If there’s a fine line between sampling and karaoke, he’s just crossed it: yet I shall forgive him, simply because he’s Donovan, and the psych world would be a lot poorer for his absence. And besides, he did look rather groovy dancing to it: more so at almost 70 than I look at 42 anyway. Universal soldier, pied piper or eternal troubadour, Mr Leitch of Maryhill looks set to ride on his cosmic wheels for at least another decade: if only he had a time machine, he could show us all how he did it the first time round. The worrying thing is, if you asked him, I’m pretty sure he’d tell you that he has…


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Darius Drewe

Darius Drewe was born in East London in 1974. As a small child, both parents inflicted their musical tastes, from The Beatles and The Moody Blues to Ella Fitzgerald and Miles Davis, on him, and he was never the same again. Despite being born and bred a 'Cockney tosser', Drewe actually spent his teenage years in and around Birmingham, attending his first 60s/50s-themed nights there at The Ship Ashore, before "coming home" in 1993 to the South, where, with the exception of three years spent in Glasgow between 2007-2010, he has remianed ever since. In the almost two decades that have passed he has trod a strange meandering path from a shy 60s/70s-obsessed teen with no 'scene' to speak of to a Metalhead, sleaze-glammie, Goth, indie kid, glam-punker, garage-rocker, eventual Mod and psych freak (first attending Mousetrap in 2000) In that time he's also written for Shindig! Britmovie, DarkSide, Black Velvet and Get Ready To Rock, promoted various vintage and veteran acts at Camden Underworld, Glasgow Ivory Blacks and several other venues, DJed everything from psych, garage and soul to Metal at practically every well-known club in central London. Drewe is trying to build a time machine that will enable him to visit any period between 1960 and 1980 but still be able to use a mobile and Facebook. His ambition, aside from directing films and building said machine, is to morph into a cross between Jason King, Timmy Lea, Jerry Cornelius and Richard Hannay, and drift about the ether having adventures in a kipper tie, pinstriped flares and camel hair coat.

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December 1, 2015 By : Category : Bands Front Page Music Reviews Tags:, ,
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Live! – Brian Auger

This entry is part 2 of 20 in the series Live!

BRIAN AUGER’S OBLIVION EXPRESS

Jazz Cafe, Camden Town, London

Nov 2 2015

HOW long exactly?
It’s a foggy November evening, I’m stood in the Jazz Caff next to me old mucker (and former Harrow Trinity psych’n’soul DJ) Rob Mesure, and both of us are experiencing a vague recollection of the last time we didn’t get to see our favourite organ-widdler tinkle his keys and throw his switches. From what we can make out, it was somewhere around the turn of the century (must have been, we didn’t even meet each other till about 1999) and apparently, that was the last time he played here, although I clearly recall a cancelled gig at the Glasgow Renfrew Ferry in 2009 or thereabouts. Perhaps the whole tour was cancelled that year, who knows?

Either way, in 2015, as far as “artists you never thought you’d never see” go, Brian Auger is as close to the definitive example as possible: 75 years old, long believed retired, and as elusive as the metaphorical butterfly. Thus, there was no way NUTsmag was going to miss his long-awaited return to the stage, especially in his native London. Naturally, I was aware (though I’m sure a few in the audience were still hoping) that there would be no guest appearance tonight from Mrs Julie Tippett, nee Driscoll, and, true to form, there wasn’t: likewise, it was pretty obvious to anyone who’s actually followed the great man’s career in any depth that tonight’s set would include very little material from the actual “Mod years”, concentrating primarily instead on his 1970-75 period. But, as Miles once asked, so what? A great artist is a great artist, and what we witnessed tonight was just that, a master of both Hammond and electric piano still playing the timeless mixture of jazz, funk, soul and blues-rock for which he remains revered.

Admittedly, when proceedings kick off with a spirited rendition of Jimmy Smith’s “The Cat”, it is possible, even if for only 5 minutes, to close your eyes and imagine you’re down the Purple Pussycat or some other groovy Mod dive after all: ah, the days when I could still fit into a size 32 suit. But no sooner is that particular jaunt down memory lane over than the Express are into their noted cover of Eddie Harris’ “Freedom Jazz Dance”: suddenly, the groove is several shades funkier, fatter and lopier than anything you might have once slid across a number of sprung floors to in your freshly-sprayed dezzies, a sound designed far more for head-nodding than booty-shaking. Vocalist Alex Ligertwood (the man who sang these same tunes over 40 years ago) and truly-legendary jazz guitarist Jim Mullen decorate Auger’s peerless keyboard skills with bursts of melody, scat, and discordant swagger: bassist Travis Carlton and youthful drummer Karma Auger (yep, Brian’s son) are so attuned to the vibe that they’re beyond tight. For this genre of music, you really couldn’t find a better combo if you tried.

Though some of the audience are undoubtedly unfamiliar with some of the material, there’s never a hint of disappointment, just the joy that comes from watching intuitive musicians cook and jam the best way they know how. And so it continues through “Happiness Is Just Around The Bend” “Straight Ahead” “Bumpin On Sunset” “Whenever You’re Ready”…classics one and all, the sonic result of the organist’s American bebop and R’n’B influences shoved thoroughly through a distinctly British mincer, flown back to the West Coast and served up to their originators with added zests of lemon sunshine. Ligertwood’s vocals have not diminished, in either range or power, in four decades: Auger himself is staggering, an elderly London gentleman with twice the energy and fingering skills (as he himself might say during his inter-song banter, “oo er missus”) of any young pretender.

The slow, midnight blues of Al Kooper’s “If You Ever Leave Me” takes things down a notch, but that only serves to lull us into a false sense of security before we end, as we started, in Mod mode. Given the high standards set, the only way the preceding numbers could be followed was if they found themselves “Compared To What” (which they were, the respectable if not quite capacity crowd bellowing the lyric in firm agreement) and subsequently taken on a “Maiden Voyage” : quite a journey, really, considering that for two whole hours we were actually standing spellbound in a medium-sized bar in Camden Town.

More to the point, Auger, Ligertwood and Mullen all seemed to enjoy the experience so much they’ve already promised to return next year: if they do, my advice to all broadminded Mods and Scenesters is to catch them wherever possible. Never mind the lack of Indian rope (maaan), this material’s more than strong enough to hang on.


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Darius Drewe

Darius Drewe was born in East London in 1974. As a small child, both parents inflicted their musical tastes, from The Beatles and The Moody Blues to Ella Fitzgerald and Miles Davis, on him, and he was never the same again. Despite being born and bred a 'Cockney tosser', Drewe actually spent his teenage years in and around Birmingham, attending his first 60s/50s-themed nights there at The Ship Ashore, before "coming home" in 1993 to the South, where, with the exception of three years spent in Glasgow between 2007-2010, he has remianed ever since. In the almost two decades that have passed he has trod a strange meandering path from a shy 60s/70s-obsessed teen with no 'scene' to speak of to a Metalhead, sleaze-glammie, Goth, indie kid, glam-punker, garage-rocker, eventual Mod and psych freak (first attending Mousetrap in 2000) In that time he's also written for Shindig! Britmovie, DarkSide, Black Velvet and Get Ready To Rock, promoted various vintage and veteran acts at Camden Underworld, Glasgow Ivory Blacks and several other venues, DJed everything from psych, garage and soul to Metal at practically every well-known club in central London. Drewe is trying to build a time machine that will enable him to visit any period between 1960 and 1980 but still be able to use a mobile and Facebook. His ambition, aside from directing films and building said machine, is to morph into a cross between Jason King, Timmy Lea, Jerry Cornelius and Richard Hannay, and drift about the ether having adventures in a kipper tie, pinstriped flares and camel hair coat.

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December 1, 2015 By : Category : Bands Front Page Music Reviews Tags:, ,
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Le Beat Bespoké 10 – Review

This entry is part 3 of 20 in the series Live!

LE BEAT BESPOKE 10 – A DECADE OF DELIGHTS 

Thursday: WOLF PEOPLE/PURSON  by Dave Johnson

I was very curious about the opening night of LBB10 having never seen both bands before. I had heard great things from friends and both bands were on my must see live acts list.

Would they live up to my expectations?

Purson certainly look the part and as soon as lead singer Rosalie launched into the first number I could see what all the fuss is about. She sings like an angel but looks like a devil and sure plays a mean guitar and had the audience transfixed. Purson romp through numbers from the album ‘The Circle And The Blue Door’ and the EP ‘In The Meantime’ with style and panache and won many new fans with tonight’s performance. Expect big things from this band in 2015.

A short interlude and some more great sounds from Wolf People tour DJ Richard Gibbons before the aforementioned band hit the stage. They apologise before starting by announcing they are a bit rusty having not played live together for a while. They shouldn’t have bothered, it was a masterful set peppered with numbers from the impressive back catalogue together with a couple of numbers I was not familiar that sounded like potential numbers for the forthcoming album which they are currently working on. Needless to say Wolf People reaffirmed everything I had been told by fellow music fans as a band not to be missed. Another fan converted and looking forward to hearing that new album.

After the live acts I headed into venue 2 for the DJ after show party where quality records one after the other kept the fun seekers happy until tomorrow night.

Friday: GLEN CAMPBELL’S MISUNDERSTOOD/KALEIDOSCOPE/THE LOONS  by ‘Dashing’ Drewe Shimon

Mike Stax, the expatriate Brit with the full trans-atlantic twang, is in his element tonight: not content with simply fronting his own fine garage-powerpop combo The Loons alongside his cool and talented bass-playing wife Anja, he also gets to be in the headline band! Nice work all around… The Loons with their juxtaposition of ebullient originals (referencing influences from the Pretty Things to the Strawberry Alarm Clock) and classic covers, set the tone perfectly for a very special LBB indeed.

That said, the Toytown popsike of Peter Daltrey’s Kaleidoscope still resides worlds away from the fuzzed-up San Diego frat-house: in fact, despite the lineup’s heavy reliance (original percussionist Danny Bridgman notwithstanding) on a latterday Glaswegian infusion from alt-folkies Trembling Bells, “Dive Into Yesterday” “Flight From Ashiya” and “The Sky Children” remain as quintessentially English as a blustry day on Turnham Green, which is possibly where half of them were conceived to begin with. And, whilst undoubtedly a slightly less overtly ‘religious’ experience than last year’s Islington show, tonight’s vibrant performance surely reinforces Daltrey and Co’s vital upper place in the psychedelic tapestry: it might have been, at times, ever-so-slightly inaudible above certain segments of the audience, but this is also a club event too, and if Dave and Lisa from Penge want to catch up with Enrico and Xavier from Toledo and discuss their plans for this year’s Euro YeYe during the quieter passages of “The Murder Of Lewis Tollani”, then they have every right to. After all, the social aspect of NUTs has always been every bit as important as the music.

A few eyebrows raise when the Misunderstood kick off with their two best-known songs (“I Can Take You To The Sun” and “Children Of The Sun”), but with Glenn Ross Campbell’s squealing steel-slide-guitar-contraption-thingy exploding centre-stage, and Mr & Mrs Stax again vibing the freak angle to the max, quality is thankfully retained. Sadly, they DO have to resort, like Kenney Jones last year, to repeating two already-aired tunes, including the oft-trodden “Who Do You Love”, as an encore, but considering that said number features surprise appearances from original ‘Stoodster’ Tony Hill (also of The Answers and High Tide) and Ray Owen (co-founder, with Campbell, of Juicy Lucy) the issue is soon rendered irrelevant, and the band’s legend reaffirmed. Despite perhaps slight befuddlement as to why recognition has taken so long, Campbell looks like the happiest man in W1, and right now, he probably is. Magical!

Saturday Daytime and Night: NUTSMAG, VINTAGE MARKET, RECORD FAIR –  by Graham Lentz

After the euphoria that followed The Loons, Kaleidoscope and The Misunderstood, Saturday afternoon was a very nice tonic. The Vintage Market was set up and the stall holders had some quality wares on offer. From clothes to handbags, records to memorabilia, there was something for everyone.

By mid afternoon, the first of the two bands took to the stage. Magnetic Mind played to a packed Beat Basement who really enjoyed their brand of psych sounds.

The harmonized vocals of Ellie Foden and Paul Milne have great impact and with their Jefferson Airplane and Peanut Butter Conspiracy influences in evidence.

The set included their current single, ‘(Like You) Never Kept Me Waiting’, which for my money, is one of THE outstanding psych singles of the year so far and sounded even better live. They finished their set to much deserved rapturous applause.

Before long, the Spanish psych outfit Fogbound were eagerly anticipated and steam rolled through record releases ‘Whispering Corridors’, ‘Purple Wax’ and ‘Come And See’ and a brilliant version of ‘Strange house’ by The Attack. The audience loved and the lads came back for an encore and made quite an impression on their London debut. It would not be too long before another total musical contrast for the Saturday Evening session, would be underway.

Saturday Night – by Graham Lentz

One of the real pleasures of Le Beat Bespoke is the way it opens its self up to something a bit different, and Saturday night traditionally tends to focus on rockabilly/rock & roll culture. It is great to see people with differing music and style all mingling together and no-one bats an eyelid. There in the packed main room were rock & rollers, mods, northern soul fans, psych and garage fans all there to enjoy the live music and everyone looked fantastic.

First on stage for the Wild Records Review was the extraordinary Gizzelle. Singing tracks from her two albums to date; ‘Devil Or Angel’ and ‘Rhythm And Soul’, what makes her extraordinary is how such a powerful voice can come such a petite frame?

Highlights included her rousing version of ‘Hound Dog’ and ‘I’m A Good Woman’ and such was the applause, she returned for a much deserved encore.

Next up was the equally formidable voice of Marlena Perez who fronts The Rhythm Shakers. Again, the contrast in delivery and style were evident. Gizzelle, giving everything, but with controlled assurance. The Rhythm Shakers, all power and passion. They really are one of the best rock and roll bands around right now. Their album of a few years ago, ‘Flipsville’, got a decent representation, but the focus was on the newer material on their current LP ‘Voodoo’. Both albums are as good as each other, which says a lot about the high quality of their writing. They too, were called back for an encore and both acts were virtually mobbed at their merchandise stand afterwards.

Cosmic Keith, Dr Rockin’ Blues and Julliette (the latter both from Paris) kept the rockin’ crowd royally entertained through the entire night.

Meanwhile, Alan Handscombe and Tim Ott-Jones presented their RnB123 Club in the R&B room, while Holly Calder joined Dr Robert and European guests DJ’s in the Beat Room until the early hours.

Sunday night: CROSSFIRE – by Graham Lentz

The grand finale of Le Beat Bespoke 10. The Crossfire Allnighter is a huge event on the calendar and this night was no exception. The queue outside was constant as the doors opened at 10pm. With Northern Soul in the main room, Mousetrap in the R&B Room and Paddy and Sarge and Rhys joining Dr Robert, Lolo and Traxel in the Beat Basement, this was a night primed to close the weekender with a bang.

Without doubt, the tone of the night was set by Les Grys Grys from Southern France, who repeated their explosive performance at the August Bank Holiday in Brighton last year. To say the atmosphere was electric was an understatement. The last time I saw the Beat Basement that packed was when The Strypes were on stage. Les Grys Grys ask no quarter and none is given. Theirs is a full-on assault on the senses and they really deliver.

As I said, they set the tone for the whole night in all three rooms and it was a fitting end to another wonderful Le Beat Bespoke weekender. Only another twelve months and we can do it all again !

Sundy night: LES GRYS GRYS by ‘Dashing’ Drewe Shimon

“GADAAANNGGG…”

With short sharp bursts of frenzied drumming, plonking bass and off-the cuff maraca-shaking from their resident loonhouse blues harp wielder, French upstarts Les Grys Grys set out their stall immediately, purveying classic white R’n’B in the style of the Yardbirds, Outsiders (Neth), Pretty Things, Blues Incorporated, Them, Downliners Sect and (of course) the Stones: there’s also a hint of the howling acid blues of the Groundhogs, TYA and Savoy Brown, but that’s more in the crunching tone and hair-shaking antics of the lead guitarist than the construction of the numbers. As with the Strypes and 45s (although they’re considerably older and longer-haired than both) their material predominantly consists, at this moment, of covers – yet these Montpelier Mods have taken things one step further by showing as much deference to their blue-eyed heroes as the genre’s black American originators. Thus, “Neighbour Neighbour” rubs shoulders with “Mystic Eyes” and the Masters Apprentices’ “Hot Gully Wind” without batting an eyelid: of course, not everybody is an expert on the derivation of rock’n’roll, but this Le Beat crowd sure knows its blues from its snooze.

A frantic blur of fringe, deerstalker, tambourine and axe-fire, these eminent Grys (see what I did there?) are one of several currently emergent bands capable of reminding you exactly why you first loved these three things called blues, soul and rock’n’roll. The question remains as to what will happen when they start writing their own material, but it will happen, and the development will be, just as it was with those lads from Dartford and Erith 50 years ago, fascinating to observe: even if they never put pen to paper, they’ll still be unmissable live.

A win-win proposition, then, and a suitably butt-kicking prelude to the finale of LBB 10: despite nipping out after the Grys’ set for 3 hours, the party is still at full tilt in the Beat Basement upon my return, propelled this time by an equal mixture of faces and tunes old and new. All DJs were exemplary, but special mention must go to Rhys’ bold inclusion of “Is It Love” by Jon, a tune which I had hitherto believed myself to be the London scene’s sole fan of: indeed, whereas certain elements last year left me knackered, this was just one of many ways in which tonight found my muse rejuvenated. Roll on 2016.


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Darius Drewe

Darius Drewe was born in East London in 1974. As a small child, both parents inflicted their musical tastes, from The Beatles and The Moody Blues to Ella Fitzgerald and Miles Davis, on him, and he was never the same again. Despite being born and bred a 'Cockney tosser', Drewe actually spent his teenage years in and around Birmingham, attending his first 60s/50s-themed nights there at The Ship Ashore, before "coming home" in 1993 to the South, where, with the exception of three years spent in Glasgow between 2007-2010, he has remianed ever since. In the almost two decades that have passed he has trod a strange meandering path from a shy 60s/70s-obsessed teen with no 'scene' to speak of to a Metalhead, sleaze-glammie, Goth, indie kid, glam-punker, garage-rocker, eventual Mod and psych freak (first attending Mousetrap in 2000) In that time he's also written for Shindig! Britmovie, DarkSide, Black Velvet and Get Ready To Rock, promoted various vintage and veteran acts at Camden Underworld, Glasgow Ivory Blacks and several other venues, DJed everything from psych, garage and soul to Metal at practically every well-known club in central London. Drewe is trying to build a time machine that will enable him to visit any period between 1960 and 1980 but still be able to use a mobile and Facebook. His ambition, aside from directing films and building said machine, is to morph into a cross between Jason King, Timmy Lea, Jerry Cornelius and Richard Hannay, and drift about the ether having adventures in a kipper tie, pinstriped flares and camel hair coat.

More Posts - Website - Twitter - Facebook

April 27, 2015 By : Category : Bands DJs Events Front Page Fuzz Garage Psych Reviews RnB UK Tags:, , , , ,
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Live! – The Prime Movers

This entry is part 4 of 20 in the series Live!

Medway band, the Prime Movers, were one of the unluckiest of the 80s, so close to making it but forced to watch as a legion of young upstarts charted, ripping off their sound. Their first London gig in nearly 20 years was at Blues Kitchen, Camden, in early May. With a book, The Kids are All Square, due later this year and a host of back catalogue being re-released, the gravitational pull of the Medway has never been stronger – Chris Dale was there for NUTSmag.

As their only UK appearance to promote the re-releases and the book it drew a large enthusiastic crowd full of familiar faces eager with anticipation and marked their frontman’s first appearance since Graham Day & the Gaolors five years ago.

The Prime Movers, formed from the ashes of the Prisoners, Daggermen and Makin’ Time, played numerous gigs and cut three collectable LP’s during the late 80s and early 90s.

Sauntering onto stage around 9.45pm they launched into ‘The Good Things’ closely followed by the fantastic Solar Flares gem ‘Mary’.

Powerful renditions of ‘No R.E.S.P.E.C.T.’, ‘Freedom’, and ‘I’m Alive’ lead to Wolf Howards drum kit disintegrating in the ferocity of his drumming. A few minor adjustments from fellow Medway legend, Bruce Brand, and when all else fails stick a large amp in front of the Bass drum. That did the trick and the opening chords of ‘Be on Your Way’ – Prisoners heaven.

‘Alone in this house’ another off the Prime Movers fine debut LP ‘ Sins of the Forefathers’ was closely followed by a clutch of Solar Flares numbers, including ‘You Always Find a Way to Hurt Me’ and ‘ Can’t Get You Off of My Mind’.

Graham Day’s long absence from the circuit was barely noticeable, showing all his aggression in the songs he so loving wrote over the years. ‘Sucking out my insides’ proves this point, Medway garage at its finest.

This was turning out to be a celebration of all Day/Crockford collaborations as the encore started with the Gaolors ‘Sitar Spangled Banner’ and we now get the trademark Graham Day thrashing wildly around the stage, punters down the front wisely ducking to avoid being decapitated by his flaying guitar neck.

If you’re going to save the best for last, the Prisoners’ ‘Love me lies’ ticks the box. I probably spent 50 per cent of the 1980s following this band and I don’t regret a single second, finishing with ‘I Am a Fisherman’ from ‘The Last Fourfathers’ LP confirms it for me.

A thirty-year body of work and four great bands in one, crammed into a little over an hour and my ear drums are still ringing.

Will they do it again? Who knows, but Alan Crockford and Graham Day do not ride the re-union gravy train comfortably. They’re far too innovative, writing new songs and embracing new projects. We can all look forward to the re-releases, and perhaps a few hidden gems. Thirty years on the sound of Medway still resonates – Kula’ who?

Photos by Adrian Jones


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Chris Dale

Living near the Lewisham Odeon in the late 70’s gave a young Chris Dale the opportunity to see many of the big bands of the era, his first gig being The Special’s in 1979. Thirty years later – nearly to the day, saw him taking his then 11 year old son Alfie to see said band. The thirty plus years in between has seen Chris’ passion for bands remain at the forefront of his life. Known to most on the Mod scene as a regular DJ in the NUT’s line up, playing a mixture of 60’s RNB, Northern Soul, Reggae and Ska, most may not be aware of his passion for live music, of the late 70’s early 80’s mod genre. The memorabilia he has collated from his time following these bands is colossal, and he hopes to be able to collate this into a book in the near future.

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June 3, 2013 By : Category : Articles Bands Beat Events Front Page Reviews UK Tags:, , ,
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Live! – The Moody Blues

This entry is part 5 of 20 in the series Live!

The Moody Blues @ Oxford New Theatre – 5th June 2013

It’s 8.10pm, the Moodies are onstage, tearing through “Gemini Dream” and “The Voice”. Brum’s most cosmic sons have always been wont to fiddle with the setlist, adding a song here and removing one there to surprise us with nuggets from their peerless 67-73 back catalogue, which to me still sums up the term “psych” better than any other UK act of the period bar possibly the Pretty Things – and tonight is no exception.

A tumbling, cascading “You And Me” (wow!) and a throbbing, twisted “Gypsy” (double wow), with all its aaaahs and ooohs firmly in place, blast us in quick succession. Fans in ’69 would have probably uttered something about their minds being “blown”. OK, that’s never going to happen in a seated theatre in 2013 surrounded by 1500 blue rinsers, but it can still rock it back and forth a bit.

It was never going to sound like the Isle Of Wight 1970, mods and hardened psych-proggers may despair at the PVC trousers (me among them) and Pinder and Thomas will never return (even if flautist Norda Mullen is a good stand in, the moustache and the baritone vocals remain wanting). But If you don’t go expecting total authentic vintage, you won’t be disappointed, and you get a great rock ‘n’ roll show for your money.

The eerie Mellotron chords of “Tuesday Afternoon” may be convincingly simulated today by two banks of digitised keyboards, but Justin Hayward’s voice is still rich russet-brown and mahogany as ever, the song still conjuring images of wintry late 60s mornings in some Home Counties park, a beautiful girl in a velvet frock frolicking beside you as you light another Sobranie and prepare for comedown. Not that half the audience would know; unlike the band, who freely admitted they practically lived on LSD for a certain period, I doubt if anyone here other than me and ‘plus 1’ have ever ingested anything stronger than Douwe Egberts. It is for exactly those people, and their many wives, that the more AOR/MOR/soft-metal/yacht rock stylings of “Say It With Love” “I Know You’re Out There Somewhere” are turned out.

But why not? The MBs have been a giant-conquering stadium force in rock since the early 70s, more famous in some territories than most bands could ever dream of. Sure, I can think of loads of songs I would have preferred to have heard. The absence of Ray Thomas and Mike Pinder these days means their songs go unaired but there are still enough crackers in the Hayward/Lodge/Edge catalogue for them to delve into.

Even I have to admit that 1981 rarity “Nervous” is a pleasant surprise, and I can’t really complain about “Your Wildest Dreams” either, after all, a certain Rob Bailey and his friends were in that video, way back in ’86. Justin’s twanging Gretsch and Telecaster work is still as resonant as ever, while John, king of the Fender Jazzmaster bass, is, since the death of the Ox, peerless in his field.

Graeme, now 72, is supplemented by a younger, more fiery drummer, but it’s that drummer who follows him rather than the other way round, assuring that the colourful patterns of “Isn’t Life Strange” “I’m Just A Singer” “Driftwood” and the evergreen “Question” (also featuring the world’s greatest 12-string riff and bassline) still sound as vital as they originally did. Plus, when he steps out from behind his kit to take lead vocal on the pummelling space-rock assault of “Higher And Higher” or chill-inducing, “Nights In White Satin”, prefacing poetry of “Late Lament”, we really are bearing witness to something rather special indeed. OK, until he starts riverdancing, but hell, after all it’s his birthday, let the geezer have some fun.

If I have one bugbear, it’s that the second set is exactly the same as it was in 2011, with no variation whatsoever and they still refuse to perform the spoken word “Departure” intro to otherwise perfect closing number “Ride My See Saw”, but that’s the Moody Blues for you – still confounding and delighting in equal measures after almost 50 years. If you can afford it, catch them whenever possible. As Lodge points out, they’re still here, and so are you. Retirement? Never ‘eard of it, mate.

Web Links:

moodybluestoday.com
facebook.com/MoodyBlues


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Darius Drewe

Darius Drewe was born in East London in 1974. As a small child, both parents inflicted their musical tastes, from The Beatles and The Moody Blues to Ella Fitzgerald and Miles Davis, on him, and he was never the same again. Despite being born and bred a 'Cockney tosser', Drewe actually spent his teenage years in and around Birmingham, attending his first 60s/50s-themed nights there at The Ship Ashore, before "coming home" in 1993 to the South, where, with the exception of three years spent in Glasgow between 2007-2010, he has remianed ever since. In the almost two decades that have passed he has trod a strange meandering path from a shy 60s/70s-obsessed teen with no 'scene' to speak of to a Metalhead, sleaze-glammie, Goth, indie kid, glam-punker, garage-rocker, eventual Mod and psych freak (first attending Mousetrap in 2000) In that time he's also written for Shindig! Britmovie, DarkSide, Black Velvet and Get Ready To Rock, promoted various vintage and veteran acts at Camden Underworld, Glasgow Ivory Blacks and several other venues, DJed everything from psych, garage and soul to Metal at practically every well-known club in central London. Drewe is trying to build a time machine that will enable him to visit any period between 1960 and 1980 but still be able to use a mobile and Facebook. His ambition, aside from directing films and building said machine, is to morph into a cross between Jason King, Timmy Lea, Jerry Cornelius and Richard Hannay, and drift about the ether having adventures in a kipper tie, pinstriped flares and camel hair coat.

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September 20, 2013 By : Category : Bands Front Page Genre Music Psych Reviews Tags:, ,
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Live! – Burt Bacharach

This entry is part 6 of 20 in the series Live!

Burt Bacharach @ Royal Festival Hall – 7th July 2013 

There’s something uniquely redemptive about watching this truly great man in concert. Live! And yes, it’s really him! Many a musician is said to bear the hallmark of ‘greatness’, but Burt, now 85-years-of-age, stands above practically all of them in a class of his own.

Remember, this is the guy who, when rock and roll was still in short trousers and the Beatles were strumming Chuck Berry covers, co-wrote, with the late Hal David, half the most famous songs you’ve ever heard, and dozens that you still don’t know they wrote.

MOR? Easy listening? Lounge? Not terms I have a problem with, but derogatory and inappropriate for a man who co-wrote the far-from-easy, evocative northern soul anthem, “Long After Tonight is All Over” and could arguably be described as America’s greatest popular songwriter.

Bacharach knows more about writing diverse hit material than probably any other person alive, particularly from that golden period ‘twixt 1962 and 1970 which people are here to see, and it would be a shame if the man and his band didn’t quite pull them off successfully; the pressure is on.

So what’s a man so inextricably associated with studio craftsmanship, to say nothing of the back rooms of the legendary Brill Building, like onstage? And how does the quintessential songsmith’s live show measure up?

Sadly, a 70 percent success rate is what I have to report. Maybe I should explain. You can’t fault Burt’s own piano playing, in fact it’s flawless, and it’s incredible to watch a man of such advanced years display such fluid finger work. Nor the band, particularly trumpeter Tom Ehlen (the trumpet being the cornerstone of ‘that’ Bacharach sound after all) and saxophonist Dennis Wilson, who are as in tune with their leader as any musicians could be.

Nor can I find any problem with the amazing jazz instrumentalist, Josie James, famous in his own right, who delivered the best renditions of “Anyone Who Had A Heart” and “Close To You” I’ve ever heard anyone do: or Donna Taylor, the Southern belle whose Kentucky drawl was perfect for the aforementioned “..Charlie” (originally penned for Etta James) and whose harmonies brought a robust glow to the likes of “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again” “Walk On By” “Say A Little Prayer” and “Make It Easy On Yourself”.

But if there IS one chink in Burt’s otherwise impeccable satin armour, it’s male vocalist John Pagano, whose cloyingly sentimental, mawkish boyband-style over-cookings of fine, otherwise subtle material such as “This Guy’s In Love With You” and “I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself” (the latter rapidly in danger of turning into an audience participation number during which certain patrons voiced several choice suggestions unto him) were jarring and unnecessary. His error is typical of many vocalists today, trying to cram too many acrobatic notes in to a bar therefore stripping the soul out of the performance rather than expressing it.

That aside, the bounce of early compositions like “Magic Moments” and the quirky B-movie stylings of “Beware Of The Blob” now sit less incongruously next to each other than you might have thought, while the lesser-known “Waiting For Charlie To Come Home” suffers not by any dint of its obscurity: if anything, the story behind its creation places it firmly in the “latter day classic” category. We would do well to remember that many of the greatest artists of the 60s could, when called upon, still write fine material some 20 years hence. And yes, purists, that does include “Arthur’s Theme”, and I don’t give a hoot if that loses me what little cred I never really had to begin with.

The songs themselves remain as works of art, inspirational. During the moments when Pagano’s warbling became too much to bear, I found myself inspired to meditate on the thought that of all the strands of 1960s music I follow, this (alongside jazz) is possibly the one that has always been there, with little need for ‘revival’ or ‘reappraisal’. Admittedly there was a time, until the likes of Costello and Deacon Blue started namedropping them, when even admitting to owning Dionne Warwick, Dusty Springfield or Cilla Black albums marked you out as either a) deeply uncool b) middle aged c) a drag queen or d) Bob Stanley, but someone, somewhere, from my parents’ youth right through to my misbegotten middle age (ie now) has always been listening to Burt Bacharach, and it seems like they always will. In an age where as music listeners, we’re bombarded with tales of everything unpleasant from coke-fuelled hedonism to extreme political activism, this music has more redemptive, transformational qualities than ever before.

Not only are the Proustian rushes of my mother’s record collection and Essex mornings spent listening to The Wogue on Radio 2 much in evidence, but much comfort is drawn from closing your eyes and realising that this music – whatever name you wish to give it – existed at a time when things made sense, when carpets were shag-pile, televisions were white and circular, bachelor pads were space age (and mainly orange) and records were played on wooden stacking systems by men who wore sharp suits and knew that “The Look Of Love” would be just the right tune to seduce women who wore red nylon ball gowns.

The very thought brings a tear to the eye, and this is perhaps why the moments that move you most are those when Burt takes to mike and piano and handles vocals himself. While never the most confident or adept of singers, his quavering, vulnerable timbre is better suited to “Alfie” “A House Is Not A Home” “Wives And Lovers” and maybe the most life-affirming song ever written, “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head” – the latter also played a second time as an encore by the full band- than anyone else’s full-octave range.

Here, is the essence of Burt the romantic; Burt the artist; Burt the human. Treasure him: at his age, while still remarkably healthy, spry and dapper, with a roguish twinkle and no sign of losing his compositional flair, he may not come round this way again, although he’s threatening to. If so, maybe this time he’ll shake my hand, I failed while lesser mortals succeeded. As the man himself would have written, that’s “The Story Of My Life”. Seeing as he’s been illuminating it for almost a full 40 years I suppose I can let him off.

Web Links:

bacharachonline.com


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Darius Drewe

Darius Drewe was born in East London in 1974. As a small child, both parents inflicted their musical tastes, from The Beatles and The Moody Blues to Ella Fitzgerald and Miles Davis, on him, and he was never the same again. Despite being born and bred a 'Cockney tosser', Drewe actually spent his teenage years in and around Birmingham, attending his first 60s/50s-themed nights there at The Ship Ashore, before "coming home" in 1993 to the South, where, with the exception of three years spent in Glasgow between 2007-2010, he has remianed ever since. In the almost two decades that have passed he has trod a strange meandering path from a shy 60s/70s-obsessed teen with no 'scene' to speak of to a Metalhead, sleaze-glammie, Goth, indie kid, glam-punker, garage-rocker, eventual Mod and psych freak (first attending Mousetrap in 2000) In that time he's also written for Shindig! Britmovie, DarkSide, Black Velvet and Get Ready To Rock, promoted various vintage and veteran acts at Camden Underworld, Glasgow Ivory Blacks and several other venues, DJed everything from psych, garage and soul to Metal at practically every well-known club in central London. Drewe is trying to build a time machine that will enable him to visit any period between 1960 and 1980 but still be able to use a mobile and Facebook. His ambition, aside from directing films and building said machine, is to morph into a cross between Jason King, Timmy Lea, Jerry Cornelius and Richard Hannay, and drift about the ether having adventures in a kipper tie, pinstriped flares and camel hair coat.

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September 20, 2013 By : Category : Bands Front Page Music Reviews Tags:, , ,
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Live! – Kaleidoscope

This entry is part 7 of 20 in the series Live!

London Islington Assembly Hall, November 17 2013

So… can it really be 40 years? Well, yes and no. Not 40 years since Peter Daltrey set foot on a London stage, by any means but yes, four decades have passed since he last called his band Kaleidoscope (or, for that matter, Fairfield Parlour) During that time he’s continued floating around the fringes of the world’s outsider music scenes, recording with musicians young and old of a similar cosmic persuasion, and constantly lurking in the shadows like the ephemeral presence that he is, but it was always hoped that one day he would front a band worthy of the name he remains most associated with. And now, finally, it’s happening. To those of us assembled here in the ancient, sprung-floored, red carpeted environs of the Assembly Hall, it’s almost like the climax to a very long dream: but what happens when we awake?

After all, when bands reform after a long absence, it’s not uncommon for them to meet with derision, smugness and ageism: we do still live, largely, in a music scene presided over by the maxims of those whose eye teeth were cut in the snarling moshpits of ‘Punk Rock’, and thus, there remains an underlying current of ‘live fast die young, and anyone over a certain age is a sad old git’ that, whilst never explicit, is seemingly carved in stone in the minds of many. And true, certain bands (Le Fleur De Lys, Standells, Jade Warrior) whose remergences have been somewhat disappointing, haven’t helped matters. Yet somehow, we always knew that Daltrey, and his new Kaleidoscope featuring the majority of Glasgow psych-folksters Trembling Bells (also Mike Heron’s backing group, and thus perfectly chosen inasmuch as they’re young enough to play with attack but old enough to understand true Psychedelia) would pull it off. And we were right.

From the moment the band enter, mist swirling, liquid backdrops spiralling and with poetry recited, it’s obvious that this isn’t going to be just another old geezer’s comeback. The younger members, spearheaded by towering guitarist Mike Hastings, take up instruments first, then the man himself appears: slim, white-haired, bearded and clad in elegant black, Daltrey is no conventional rock frontman, he’s a wizard. He probably always was, but tonight, leaning intently into his mike from behind a lectern, his words, songs and stories are imbued with extra-magical import. Of course, we all know the lectern’s just there to read the lyrics from, but under the lights, with the spell cast, it reinforces further the idea that this is not a gig per se, but a ceremony. The high priest of quaintly English Psychedelia addressing his acolytes? Quite possibly and a cursory glance round the room does show the assembled throng to be of a shared mind.

Tonight, actually hearing ‘Snapdragon’ and ‘A Dream For Julie’ live, is a transcendental, consciousness-altering experience: these songs are very real! And there’s the bloke who wrote them, singing them! Puts paid to all those myths about Phil Smee and Ed Ball spending the 80s knocking out fake Freakbeat and Bubblegum acts in their garden sheds for release on compilations of “unearthed mindbending psych gems” sold to unsuspecting punters. Of course there were really that many bands then, the Beatles were still around, and everybody wanted to be them. But Kaleidoscope went one better they wanted to be the Beatles, Hollies, Kinks, Bee Gees and Dylan all in one go – and they managed it too! Yet they have still stamped their own personality on their work, and it’s that personality which elevates the likes of ‘Dear Nellie Goodrich’above a mere ‘Jennifer Eccles’ clone, and the bouncy ‘In My Box’(one of three tunes tonight from their early 70s tenure as Fairfield Parlour) above a zillion other twee Popsike nuggets gracing numerous comps, their delicate effervescence remaining intact but also boosted by Hastings’ scraping guitar tones and the thrumming bass of Simon Shaw. Comparatively, this also means that the songs that were weightier first time round ‘Murder Of Lewis Tollani’and the epic ‘Sky Children’ in particular, now sound huge.

Up the back, a rather subtle Lavinia Blackwall provides eerie portative keyboards, stabs of jabbing rhythm guitar and occasional waves of sonorous, operatic backing vocal but without her, ‘Song From Jon’ (the set’s one nod to 1971’s concept opus White Faced Lady) and ‘Aries’ would sound slight: this interaction, however, only proves just how much of a combined effort the new band is, with each member literally “in concert” with Daltrey. His voice, pitched somewhere between Robin Gibb, Syd Barrett and Peter Noone, was never one of rock’s louder, more bellowing tones, but commands perfect, almost rapt attention, even on the inevitable fluffed notes (trust me, everybody makes them) and betwixt songs, spins tales of hazy days, russet evenings, Sunnyside Circuses (more impassioned axe-thrashings from Hastings and Shaw) chocolate children and tangerine dreams that still continue to shape a lifestyle for many of us.

The final quarter sees an added sitarist in their midst: the only possible improvement at this point would be the addition of more original members. Enter guitarist Eddie Pumer and drummer Danny Bridgman (the latter incredibly youthful for 65 and bearing a scary resemblance to Matt Berry) take the stage, the colours of the Kaleidoscope finally become complete. A garagish ‘Faintly Blowing’, the proto-prog time changes of ‘Dive Into Yesterday’, mantra-like chantings of ‘Flight From Ashiya’ and pre-shoegaze, bongo-laden drone swirls of ‘Music’ – never was a tune more succinctly named end proceedings on a note of optimism: an optimism that’s justified because, whereas many reunions are short-lived, tentative affairs, this could be the rebirth of something long-lasting with greater potential than any of us who spent our 20s down the Mousetrap dancing to ‘Room Of Percussion’, could have ever imagined. Peter Daltrey ends the evening dispensing flowers like a true ’67 prophet should – is a true star in our constellation. The American and Mexican Kaleidoscopes, should they be aware, must be kicking themselves.


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Darius Drewe

Darius Drewe was born in East London in 1974. As a small child, both parents inflicted their musical tastes, from The Beatles and The Moody Blues to Ella Fitzgerald and Miles Davis, on him, and he was never the same again. Despite being born and bred a 'Cockney tosser', Drewe actually spent his teenage years in and around Birmingham, attending his first 60s/50s-themed nights there at The Ship Ashore, before "coming home" in 1993 to the South, where, with the exception of three years spent in Glasgow between 2007-2010, he has remianed ever since. In the almost two decades that have passed he has trod a strange meandering path from a shy 60s/70s-obsessed teen with no 'scene' to speak of to a Metalhead, sleaze-glammie, Goth, indie kid, glam-punker, garage-rocker, eventual Mod and psych freak (first attending Mousetrap in 2000) In that time he's also written for Shindig! Britmovie, DarkSide, Black Velvet and Get Ready To Rock, promoted various vintage and veteran acts at Camden Underworld, Glasgow Ivory Blacks and several other venues, DJed everything from psych, garage and soul to Metal at practically every well-known club in central London. Drewe is trying to build a time machine that will enable him to visit any period between 1960 and 1980 but still be able to use a mobile and Facebook. His ambition, aside from directing films and building said machine, is to morph into a cross between Jason King, Timmy Lea, Jerry Cornelius and Richard Hannay, and drift about the ether having adventures in a kipper tie, pinstriped flares and camel hair coat.

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November 25, 2013 By : Category : Bands Front Page Music Reviews Tags:, , , , ,
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Live! – Steve Winwood

This entry is part 8 of 20 in the series Live!

Shepherds Bush Empire 20th June 2013

Even from up here on the balcony, there’s something about the figure of Steve Winwood – 64 years young, medium of stature, and still suave even when sporting a pair of superb Cockleshell Bay-style mutton chops – that remains immediately striking and charismatic. Whether sat at a vintage, 100 percent authentic Hammond organ and electric piano, or stood strumming all manner of vintage string instrumentation, the man simply exudes undeniable class and panache. Then again, we are talking about a man who’s been bringing us his own unique blend of blue-eyed Soul, Rock and Psychedelia for almost 50 years, since he first convinced thousands of radio listeners (my own father included) that they were actually hearing the voice of a genuine Black American man, and not a shy White Brummie teenager.

And that voice hasn’t changed much either. I could list numerous vintage, veteran and ‘heritage’ acts I’ve seen over the years whose vocal prowess has either diminished or damn near vanished completely, but Winwoods’ tone and timbre is still as smooth, evocative and resonant as ever, still carrying off the likes of ‘I’m A Man’ or ‘The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys’ and ‘Can’t Find My Way Home’ – the latter a lyric that I’m sure has crossed many of our minds when stumbling out of a NUTs allnighter- with the exact same fervour he would have in ’66, ‘69 or ’72. At times, as on the relentlessly funky ‘Had To Cry Today’, the notes simply tumble from his mouth, causing many of us to open our own in sheer awe.

However, lest we forget, that’s only one third of the Winwood experience. Would the Mod, Psych , R’n’B or even progressive Rock Scenes of the late 60s-early 70s have been the same without his deft, subtle keyboard playing? I sincerely doubt it – and witnessing him still faithfully replicate that soulful, swinging timbre on an extended, free-jamming ‘Light Up Or Leave Me Alone’ (a worthy tribute to his departed bandmate and lyricist, Jim Capaldi) or my own personal favourite ‘Empty Pages’ – the very first song I ever danced to at Lordy Lords all those years ago- simply hammers that even further home. Then there’s his obvious mastery on acoustic AND electric guitars and mandolin, which bring extra texture to low-key, folkish opener ‘Rainmaker’ and an improved, mellowed and thoroughly reworked ‘Back In The High Life Again’ – a song which, now stripped of the atrocious “big production” techniques of its original 80s incarnation, sits easily and snugly among its older counterparts. Of course, the sly old muse teased us at this juncture by playing the intro to ‘John Barleycorn’ first (play it in full next time, please) but in a way, that only reiterates my point even further.

In fact, by applying this technique to all the 80s material aired tonight, even ‘Higher Love’, Winwood achieves what others have often thought impossible, by making the previously unlistenable not only listenable, but thoroughly agreeable. Where big, reverby, handclappy drums and synths once stood, now sit subtle congas and moody, atmospheric Hammond: where multitracked vocals once populated a nightmarish ‘Yuppie disco’ in your head, an understated groove now flits about the room, the same method also serving more recent entries ‘Fly’ and ‘At Times We Do Forget’ equally well. Sadly there’s no room for the Viv Stanshall-composed ‘Arc Of A Diver’, still probably Steve’s best latterday cut, (“Latterday?” It’s 33 years old!! – Ed) but when faced with the full-on R’n’B/Brum Beat thrust of ‘Gimme Some Lovin’ and ‘Keep On Running’, even without the slashing Davis guitar of the originals, that’s not really an issue. And as for ‘Dear Mr Fantasy’…’staggering’ doesn’t even begin to do it justice.

Whereas previous shows from the last decade may have stood outside our remit somewhat, tonight’s set, could almost have been tailor-made for a NUTs reader, many of whom probably never saw the original Spencer Davis Group, will never see Traffic (especially now he and Dave Mason are the only members left alive) and almost certainly never see Blind Faith: the irony being, I actually had no idea what I was going to get until I entered the Empire’s ancient portals. May I suggest, therefore, that anyone reading this who hasn’t seen Steve Winwood yet should do so as soon as possible, wherever possible? Judging by the crowd, I wasn’t the only Mod, Psych head or 6Ts nut in the audience (as opposed to the MOR twats who had populated the Joe Cocker show at Hammersmith two months previously), and I definitely wasn’t the only one knocked sideways by what I witnessed, as I’m sure you too will be. An extraordinary show from an extraordinary man.


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Darius Drewe

Darius Drewe was born in East London in 1974. As a small child, both parents inflicted their musical tastes, from The Beatles and The Moody Blues to Ella Fitzgerald and Miles Davis, on him, and he was never the same again. Despite being born and bred a 'Cockney tosser', Drewe actually spent his teenage years in and around Birmingham, attending his first 60s/50s-themed nights there at The Ship Ashore, before "coming home" in 1993 to the South, where, with the exception of three years spent in Glasgow between 2007-2010, he has remianed ever since. In the almost two decades that have passed he has trod a strange meandering path from a shy 60s/70s-obsessed teen with no 'scene' to speak of to a Metalhead, sleaze-glammie, Goth, indie kid, glam-punker, garage-rocker, eventual Mod and psych freak (first attending Mousetrap in 2000) In that time he's also written for Shindig! Britmovie, DarkSide, Black Velvet and Get Ready To Rock, promoted various vintage and veteran acts at Camden Underworld, Glasgow Ivory Blacks and several other venues, DJed everything from psych, garage and soul to Metal at practically every well-known club in central London. Drewe is trying to build a time machine that will enable him to visit any period between 1960 and 1980 but still be able to use a mobile and Facebook. His ambition, aside from directing films and building said machine, is to morph into a cross between Jason King, Timmy Lea, Jerry Cornelius and Richard Hannay, and drift about the ether having adventures in a kipper tie, pinstriped flares and camel hair coat.

More Posts - Website - Twitter - Facebook

November 14, 2013 By : Category : Front Page Music Reviews RnB Tags:, , , , ,
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Live! – Ray Davies

This entry is part 9 of 20 in the series Live!

Ray Davies support from Elvis Costello Hyde Park, London, 15th July 2013

So the ‘Grande Dame’ abdicated, and suddenly everyone could come to the party. Translation: this gig was originally meant to be headlined by Elton John, who sadly had to pull out due to health issues, meaning that all pre-bought tickets were refunded and all subsequent tickets were declared free (first come first served) thus allowing several thousand people a chance to see a concert they may previously have not attended. More importantly, this also meant that Nick Lowe (who sadly I saw very little of) got moved to the main stage, “lowly” support Elvis Costello, a headline act in his own right, got to be the special guest (fine work he made of it too) and, best of all, the former ‘second attraction’ Ray Davies was bumped up to headliner. Job done.

Anyhow, I couldn’t think of anyone better to headline a festival in central London than Ray Davies. The man IS London, so much that the Thames and the Grand Union Canal practically drip from his pores. And apart from anything else, at 69 years old, it’s about bloody time he gained the commercial recognition of his contemporaries such as McCartney and Townshend, and this show might well have gone a fair way towards achieving that aim.

Firstly Elvis Costello, now clean-shaven after several years sporting a typically ‘artistic’ goatee, slightly more rotund than before, sporting shades and a quite ridiculous hat, he doesn’t cut quite the elegant, suave figure I saw onstage at the RFH in 2002 – THAT legendary gig when the original Attractions reformed for what would soon prove to be the final time – but he still exudes plentiful charisma, and where contemporaries have mellowed out, his acerbic bite has lost nothing with age – if anything, it’s gained momentum. His guitar-thrashing also remains as powerful as before, and with a set that featured crowd pleasers like ‘Watching The Detectives’ ‘I Don’t Want To Go To Chelsea’ ‘Good Year For The Roses’ and ‘Oliver’s Army’ alongside more conoisseur’s choice fare like ‘Alison’ and ‘The Angels Wanna Wear My Red Shoes’, and, just when everyone thought it had ended with archetypal rabble-rouser ‘Pump It Up’, threw a curveball of major proportions and actually bowed out with the decidedly nonconformist triumvirate of ‘Peace Love And Understanding’ ‘Shipbuilding’ and the evil, warped lullaby of ‘I Want You’, it’s obvious that, even in front of a pissed up outdoor festival audience, this is one artist who still refuses to take the easy road.

Ray Davies has also seemingly been traversing a difficult path for nigh on twenty years now. As estranged from his brother (if not more so) as Costello from Bruce Thomas, and thus nixing any chances of ever being able to tour again using the undeniably more saleable name “The Kinks”, he finds himself, this late in life, in the unenviable position of being a master songwriter who still has plenty to offer for the future, but whose audience are predominantly only interested in his past. And in Britain, a Country whose mainstream music press tends to reject its 70s rock heritage in favour of a bias toward indie-friendly imagery, technically, that means “the first seven years of his past”, ie between 1964 and 1971. Such a predicament might render a lesser performer a ‘nostalgia act’, or at the very least a ‘heritage artist’, but somehow, tonight, in the warm London air, that doesn’t matter, as we are treated to an evening of some of the finest English Rock and Pop songs ever written, in a style which at times makes me feel more like a member of a congregation intoning ancient hymnals than a member of the audience of a rock and roll show. Truly, at certain points, that’s how holy it seemed.

It says a lot though, about the nature of ticket pricing in the music industry, to think that this audience (now they’ve been able to get in for free) is twice the size it would have been had Ray played the Royal Festival Hall. Is this all it takes to finally arouse curiosity in the works of one of the UK’s finest songwriters? But whatever the reason, it’s happening, and it’s incredible to witness. He strides onstage like he’d always been the headliner of this show: teasing the crowd by cranking out the into to ‘You Really Got Me’ before slipping into the less obvious (but still sung by everyone) ‘I Want You’ and ‘Where Have All The Good Times Gone’, he proceeds to alternate between further hard-rocking, carousing statements of intent (backed by a stellar band including Kinks keyboardist Ian Gibbons) such as ‘I’m Not Like Everybody Else’ and far more reflective, wistful, often almost solo renditions of ‘Sunny Afternoon’ ‘Dead End Street’ ‘Apeman’ a swirling, Psychedelic ‘See My Friends’ and most effectively of all, ‘Waterloo Sunset’ which captured a perfect moment in time effortlessly and made me proud again, albeit briefly, to hail from our beleaguered, overpriced Capital – even if I no longer live in it.

Although we’re still very much in ‘solo artist with backing band’ territory, Davies and the musicians with whom he shares the stage also share a perfect empathy, reacting to each other as if they’d been together a lot longer (barring the faithful Gibbons) than they actually have. The inclusion of younger musicians, some from the States, seems also to have rejuvenated the setlist into far less predictable territory than the Glasgow show I witnessed in 2009: hearing ‘20th Century Man’ from Muswell Hillbillies is surprising enough, but whereas that album has recently received enough appraisal from the cognoscenti to make such an inclusion feasible, the presence of ‘Full Moon’ from Sleepwalker (rapturously received by me and about three other people) was an unexpected dream come true, even if played at entirely the wrong tempo. From the same, oft-neglected later eras, it’s nice to see ‘Come Dancing’ and ‘Celluloid Heroes’, the latter inducing the first tears of the evening, back in the set, but I can’t help wondering how many people here not in my immediate company actually know them. By the time we reach ‘Days’, however, a song so suited to this occasion it could have almost been written for it, the rapture is once more universal.

For all this, I will also concur that no, he’s not perfect – I shall gloss over, for instance, the fact that he fluffed a lyric here and there, ran on and offstage to change into a variety of shirts and jackets far more often than was strictly necessary, and sang the majority of ‘Tired Of Waiting For You’ and the inevitable closer ‘Lola’ in some strange and bizarre key beknownst only unto himself. But he’s allowed to, because, in short, tonight, under a red-blue sky on a perfect Summer’s evening, Ray Davies united and unified London for a whole 105 minutes, and made everyone present feel part of that union in a way very few performers in my recollection, even Madness, have done. Where it will take his career from here at this late juncture is unclear, but I have a feeling this is the type of gig from which legends are made. As the old saying goes, and as I think I’ll find myself intoning in years to come, you really had to be there.


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Darius Drewe

Darius Drewe was born in East London in 1974. As a small child, both parents inflicted their musical tastes, from The Beatles and The Moody Blues to Ella Fitzgerald and Miles Davis, on him, and he was never the same again. Despite being born and bred a 'Cockney tosser', Drewe actually spent his teenage years in and around Birmingham, attending his first 60s/50s-themed nights there at The Ship Ashore, before "coming home" in 1993 to the South, where, with the exception of three years spent in Glasgow between 2007-2010, he has remianed ever since. In the almost two decades that have passed he has trod a strange meandering path from a shy 60s/70s-obsessed teen with no 'scene' to speak of to a Metalhead, sleaze-glammie, Goth, indie kid, glam-punker, garage-rocker, eventual Mod and psych freak (first attending Mousetrap in 2000) In that time he's also written for Shindig! Britmovie, DarkSide, Black Velvet and Get Ready To Rock, promoted various vintage and veteran acts at Camden Underworld, Glasgow Ivory Blacks and several other venues, DJed everything from psych, garage and soul to Metal at practically every well-known club in central London. Drewe is trying to build a time machine that will enable him to visit any period between 1960 and 1980 but still be able to use a mobile and Facebook. His ambition, aside from directing films and building said machine, is to morph into a cross between Jason King, Timmy Lea, Jerry Cornelius and Richard Hannay, and drift about the ether having adventures in a kipper tie, pinstriped flares and camel hair coat.

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November 14, 2013 By : Category : Front Page Music Reviews Tags:, , , ,
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Live! – Barry Gibb

This entry is part 10 of 20 in the series Live!

London O2, 03 Oct 2013

Tough isn’t it, this journalism lark. The more I do it, the more personal circumstances often dictate how I feel about a show or a performer: one wonders exactly how many other writers have let such things colour their judgment of an evening. Suffice to say, tearing across the Home Counties and London in general via tube, bus, train and, at one point, taxi and STILL missing the opening two songs isn’t really going to put you in the best frame of mind, especially for something you’ve been waiting to see most of your life and thought you never would. You want it to be perfect, and if that perfection is in any way compromised, then… well, I digress.

Having said all of that, as those first two songs stem directly (I later discover) from the Bee Gees’ disco era, and are therefore not that relevant to NUTsmag, missing them isn’t in the long run going to affect what I wrote here: not to denigrate the likes of “You Should Be Dancing” “Night Fever” “Staying Alive” “How Deep Is Your Love” “Islands In The Stream” “Chain Reaction” “Woman In Love” etc, as all are undoubted classics in their field that have practically now become standards, and all are stunningly performed tonight, but they aren’t what this magazine has, even at its broadest, ever been about , and in any case, have been amply covered elsewhere.

No, this review concentrates, as one would expect, on the 65-73 material, and thankfully, there’s a lot of it. Thus it’s a joy, even though I’m still halfway up an escalator at the time, to hear “Lonely Days”, undoubtedly the standout track from 1971’s Two Years On, handled so superbly by Bazza and the boys, harmonies almost impeccable as ever. “First Of May”- the tearjerker from ‘69’s seminal Odessa and the attendant Melody soundtrack- gets me past the bar and into my seat at last, though it takes a couple more tunes including ‘72’s best-remembered offering “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart” and another disco-era hit before the rage wears off and I start enjoying myself. Barry’s certainly assembled a fine band around him, consisting of family members: Maurice’s daughter on harmony vocals, his own, extremely Metal-looking son on guitar, also taking lead vocal on an unexpected reworking of Mo’s “On Time” (although on reflection an earlier number like “Suddenly” or “Lay It On Me” may have worked better for me) and musicians both long-serving and new, but can he still cut it? We know this is essentially a ‘tribute’ show to the departed, but has the one remaining, who hasn’t trodden the boards for over a decade, still got what it takes?

Happily, the answer is yes- though even if it wasn’t, the amount of respect, support and love tonight’s audience show for him is so monumental that it would carry him anyway. And sure, the audience in question may lean more in the direction of the mainstream pop/MOR fan (maybe because they’re the ones who can afford tickets…) than Mods and 60s-heads, but that sure as hell isn’t going to stop him from playing that material; after all, with over four decades of the finest songs ever written to choose from, it would be churlish to deny the existence of any. Even so, I bet those of us hoping for our favourite obscurities weren’t expecting Aussie-only single “In The Morning” (wow) nor the solemn, eerie drones of “With The Sun In My Eyes” (EXTRA wow) to drift across the arena: on the latter, as Gibb quietly asks “who is the clown that walks in the steps of my shadow?” (a lyric which can be disturbing under the influence at 3am) time freezes for a minute to the point where the smell, essence and atmosphere of 1968 is writ large in these otherwise postmodern, cold environs.

Neither do we expect (although I can’t have been the only one dreaming of it) what follows: a sudden blackening of lights followed by THOSE liturgical Mellotron chords and a monkish intoning of “O solo dominuuuuummm….” Hackles rise on the back of necks- surely he’s not going to actually do it? Oh yes he is. “Every Christian Lion Hearted Man Will Show You”, unbelievably never performed live by the Bee Gees themselves, erupts in a shower of psychedelic mist, Eastern wonder and Mancunian rain that, whilst maybe unfamiliar to a segment of the audience, confirms to those of us in the know that Gibb is as aware of its importance as we are. By comparison, a truncated “New York Mining Disaster”, which should shimmer but instead seems faint, and a father-and-son duet of “I’ve Gotta Get A Message To You”, which starts well but is hampered by a fluffed ending, falter slightly, but once we’ve passed “…Christian…” and seen that anything is possible, all remaining doubters are firmly in the palm of his hand.

So much so, in fact, that the following “I Started A Joke” featuring vocals from beyond the grave courtesy of an onscreen Robin, seems far less maudlin and actually more celebratory than it otherwise might have. Let’s be honest, ‘duets with the dead’ have always divided audiences, ever since Natalie Cole retrod “Unforgettable” with her father in the 90s, but in an era when our heroes and heroines are passing away daily, and with technology on the rise, they are becoming less of a novelty and more of a necessity, and Gibb isn’t the only one doing it: there have been ‘Elvis’ gigs at Wembley for over a decade (although those have lessened since the Jordannaires themselves started passing on) and The Who ‘resurrected’ Moonie and The Ox for their Quadrophenia show in this very venue a few months earlier. The difference, one imagines, is that Robin, the most recent of the three siblings to leave us, only did so a year ago, and seeing the song performed in this way may be an all-too-painful reminder of recent realities for some. Nevertheless, Barry and band once again pull it off.

Then again, there always has been a mawkish, sentimental, morose feel to some of the band’s best ballads (the wistful “Run To Me”, also aired, as much of a prime example as “…Joke”..) as if they could have been equally the work of a psych/beat combo OR some pre-rock-n-roll sub-Whitfield crooner, which, coupled with a dry, wry sense of theatrically absurd humour, anyone who’s seen Cucumber Castle will testify to- so maybe this is exactly what, with a twinkle in their eyes, Barry and his late bros once envisaged after all? Who knows, but the evergreen bounce of “Spicks And Specks” that follows not only provides the audience with a chance to stand up for the first time in over an hour, but also reminds us that when it came to Toytown popsike party anthems, the Beegs were the true masters. A spoken word discussion, complete with slides, of all those no longer with us, even Andy, and their part of this extraordinary musical history, reminds us exactly why we’re here: musically, the remainder of the show stands firmly in disco/AOR territory (again not necessarily New Untouchables-friendly, but a classic song is a classic song, regardless of genre, when viewed in context), only offset by a powerful ’68 kiss-off of “Words”, during which the audience refuses to let him sing the last line without their participation, just to keep him here longer, and a curious half-backing band half-video “Massachusetts”, which seems a strange way to end festivities but gets the thumbs up if for no other reason than keeping one foot firmly in the bizarre.

So, with such an illustrious past, what does the future hold for “ar Barry”? At 67, he’s still fit, slim, warm, relaxed and, almost in direct contradiction to the tragedies that have befallen him, in the best of humours- but is there anything left except to retread the past? The funky hard rock of solitary new number “Fight”, while it may not be what this magazine would necessarily want, at least suggests that the answer may be in the affirmative- and, whilst no-one is expecting an about-face of Scott Walkeresque avant-garde proportions, providing he still eschews the ‘trendy pop producer’ route so beloved of many a veteran artist reaching a crossroads and follows a more individual path, as Macca, Elton, Bowie and John Lees’ Barclay James Harvest have all done this year, we could be in for not just a ‘late career highlight’ but a fascinating new chapter in the life of a man who we thought had already achieved it all. Give him your support- he deserves it, even “in the autumn of his years.”


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Darius Drewe

Darius Drewe was born in East London in 1974. As a small child, both parents inflicted their musical tastes, from The Beatles and The Moody Blues to Ella Fitzgerald and Miles Davis, on him, and he was never the same again. Despite being born and bred a 'Cockney tosser', Drewe actually spent his teenage years in and around Birmingham, attending his first 60s/50s-themed nights there at The Ship Ashore, before "coming home" in 1993 to the South, where, with the exception of three years spent in Glasgow between 2007-2010, he has remianed ever since. In the almost two decades that have passed he has trod a strange meandering path from a shy 60s/70s-obsessed teen with no 'scene' to speak of to a Metalhead, sleaze-glammie, Goth, indie kid, glam-punker, garage-rocker, eventual Mod and psych freak (first attending Mousetrap in 2000) In that time he's also written for Shindig! Britmovie, DarkSide, Black Velvet and Get Ready To Rock, promoted various vintage and veteran acts at Camden Underworld, Glasgow Ivory Blacks and several other venues, DJed everything from psych, garage and soul to Metal at practically every well-known club in central London. Drewe is trying to build a time machine that will enable him to visit any period between 1960 and 1980 but still be able to use a mobile and Facebook. His ambition, aside from directing films and building said machine, is to morph into a cross between Jason King, Timmy Lea, Jerry Cornelius and Richard Hannay, and drift about the ether having adventures in a kipper tie, pinstriped flares and camel hair coat.

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November 13, 2013 By : Category : Front Page Music Reviews Tags:, , ,
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Live! – Daddy Long Legs & The Turning

This entry is part 11 of 20 in the series Live!

A chilly November night saw The Blues Kitchen packed to bursting point once more. The dark, relaxing, soulful venue was tonight playing host to Brooklyn swamp blues outfit Daddy Long Legs on their short tour of Europe to spread the evangelical word of the church of blues.

First up however were London based band The Turning. Fresh faced and raw the band took to the stage to a crowd which only began to swell as they played.

Immediately the band launched into a brand of fast paced distorted R&B that is spawning a whole new generation of young bands across the country. One is immediately tempted to make comparisons to their peers, but this would do The Turning an injustice. The bands innocence shines through, and maybe somewhat contributes to their raw, punky Buzzcocks sound, and you can hear the sound of the best of the revival shining through – all tinged with some raw Rock ‘n’Roll goodness and contemporary Indie pop.

Amongst the smattering of their own original compositions they fire through a set of covers that keeps everyone smiling and nodding in approval, including their own tribute to the late, great Lou Reed, in the shape of ‘Sweet Jane’. Closing with a double hit of ‘Too Much Monkey Business’ and ‘Johnny Be Goode’, the bands sincerity and passion is evident. Rumour has it they are due to play the Borderline in February, and I will be eager to see how far they will have come on from now. One to watch for sure!

Brothers and sisters! The Blues Kitchen tonight was transformed for one night only into the ‘Church of Blues’ courtesy of the exorcising sounds of the rough and raucous Daddy Long Legs. On a mission the band performed their mass to the eager congregation before them. Rough, rugged and distorted blues rock was the order of the day and you immediately begin to think of a rawer, grittier Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, but soaked in more whiskey and chewing tobacco. The band take no prisoners and work the crowd into their ceremony of dirty swamp blues, cutting confident figures on stage, with lead singer – the Daddy himself – being the most fiery and aggressive preacher man you can imagine. Murat Akturk’s slide guitar goodness blended perfectly with proggy proto-metal drummer Josh Styles thumping tribal beats and soon had the venue rammed to the rafters.

This was my first experience and outing with Daddy Long Legs – but wow, what an introduction. It felt like I was watching Leadbelly sharing a bottle of the finest bourbon with Motorhead. Not a nice thought? That’s what real Rock ‘n’ Roll is all about. Roll on the UK return of the flaming threesome. I need salvation once more. Let us pray!


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Lord Savage

Bitten by the bug as a child in 1981 after being fed a mix of his fathers rock n'roll and his brothers 2 Tone records, David became involved in the Mod scene through a healthy diet of the revival, the Buzzcocks and Dexys Midnight Runners. Having first attended the Mousetrap in 1997 and spending time at both the New Untouchables and, the now defunct, Untouchables events he took a period of scene paternity leave in 2003 to rejoin again and find things as healthy, diverse and as vibrant as his obsession with hair straighteners. Now proud to be in the NUTs fold, David began working as the New Untouchables Social Media Manager in September 2012 and can generally be found chasing people around the depths of the Mousetrap with his dodgy pink camera. Crate digger, OCD hooverer, vintage shop raider, jazz listener, scooter tinkerer, wine drinker and cheese enthusiast. Sums it up nicely!

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November 9, 2013 By : Category : Bands Front Page Music Reviews USA Tags:, , ,
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Live! – The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band

This entry is part 12 of 20 in the series Live!

London Borderline
May 31 2014

So, Roger’s last stand approaches. Is this, then, finally the end, after deaths, reformations and rebrandings aplenty, for this most enduring combo of the quaintly eccentric, and utterly British, Sixties?

Thankfully, it doesn’t look that way. However, MC, madcap inventor, literal puppetmaster (and, in the absence of the soon-to-be-dead-20-years Vivian Stanshall, defacto frontman) Roger Ruskin Spear is retiring: 50 years of performing this stuff under assorted mantles have finally taken their toll, and even in the context of this band’s lunatic abandon, it’s visible tonight in a number of forgotten lyrics, chaotic mistimings and fluffed introductions- so all the more power to him for going out on a high note.

However, you’d have to nail ebullient saxist Rodney Slater, anarchic percussionist Sam Spoons and the underrated, understated Liverpudlian genius that is bassist Andy Roberts firmly down, six feet under, to stop them performing, and I’m sure that by Christmas, they- alongside pianist Dave Glasson- will return in another combination boasting other luminaries from the ex-Bonzo pile, again ready to set about unwary audiences with the sublime combination of music- hall slapstick (“My Brother Makes The Noises For The Talkies” “Ali Baba’s Camel” “Hunting Tigers Out In Indi-ah”), psychedelic whimsy (“My Pink Half Of The Drainpipe” “Banned By The BBC”) and vintage doo-wopping rock’n’roll (“Monster Mash” “Old Geezer Rock” “Cool Britannia”) that are their trademarks.

A band as quintessential to our scene as this lot (both on vinyl and TV) shouldn’t ideally be playing to a half-full Borderline on a Saturday, especially not at bang on 7.40 pm, but they are: the club’s most successful indie night, some 21 years into its existence, starts at 11, meaning we have to bugger off by 10.30, and that length of time, when dealing with a band this age, means at LEAST a 20 minute interval. Pity, then, the poor psych couple in perfect Carnaby threads and Brian Jones hairdos who meander in at 9 10: I don’t think they realise how much they’ve missed. At least until I tell them…The early opening has us dashing downstairs also, and despite being round the corner since 7 10, we STILL somehow manage to contrive to miss opener “Jollity Farm” and most of its subsequent instrumental Dixieland freakout followup, arriving instead in time for “I’m Bored” Luckily with the Bonzos, boredom is never on the agenda… and they even get the harmony vocals right too.

If you’re imagining this gig in your head right now as you read, you’re probably not far off: a simple stage full of props, explosions, wigs, costumes, bad jokes and  self-invented musical instruments (leg theremin, remote controlled stun guitar) isn’t enough for this lot, they have to invade the audience’s space too, applying dangling lightbulbs on the powerful (if slightly lyrically hesitant) horn-drenched narrative epic “Big Shot” and the more straight-faced clarinet’n’uke duet “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” as well as the expected swinging aloft of  toy birds during “Mr Slater’s Parrot”. Christ, if Health and Safety walked in at this point, they’d have a field day. Perhaps, also, that’s why we love the Bonzos so much, representing as they do a time before such nonsense filled the world.

Where there’s a hole, somehow they fill it. “Tubas In The Moonlight” features no such instrument but reproduces its sound via keyboard: the Beatleisms of top tunesmith Neil Innes are obviously absent, but Spear counteracts this by adding a new verse to his rendition of Tom Lehrer’s “Periodic Table Of The Elements” to the tune of “I’m The Urban Spaceman”, complete with THAT recorder sound. The biggest gap is obviously the one left by Viv, but as they mention him every ten or so minutes, it almost seems as if he’s propping up the bar, “spending a quarter of the money he’d spent on drink on drink”.

If he were, heaven knows what he’d make of the numerous digs at their age and stature, such as “Senior Moments”, prefaced by the statement that ‘while some bands have roadies, we have carers’ or statements that they “don’t need a tribute band because they are their own” (“Tribute Band Blues”): knowing him, if he were still in the band, he’d be writing exactly the same. The king of absurdism may have left the building, but look at what he left behind. Not, of course, that he was the only genius: Spear’s crazed industrial innovations like the Stripping Robots, were, and are, every bit as important to the Bonzo experience. Likewise the terrible puns, placards, similes, devices, masks and “shiny things” that populate even the quieter segments are far more than the work of any one man.

The decision to continue to perform, as they did back in ‘66, “Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport” (‘Sam Spoons, appearing in a courtroom somewhere near you’ quips Glasson) wouldn’t win you many friends these days in the Catford pubs where they cut their teeth (and a lot more besides) but at this age/stage, the Bonzos are truly way past caring and so are we. Like Slater’s t-shirt (as opposed to Spear’s ‘Frankie Says’ slogan) proclaims, they really are ‘against everything’- meaning they also embrace it.

Yet underneath all the comedy, a rock’n’roll band still lurks, and so it’s only apt to close with the ballsier duo of “Can Blue Men Sing The Whites” and “Canyons Of Your Mind” (scary head still intact even if on back to front), wrapping up, bar the indescribable “Head Ballet”, an evening which, whilst by no means their final sojourn, was still one you really should have shown up for. The much-ballyhooed “special guests”, much like Little Sir Echo himself, never materialised- but it’s unclear how they could have improved proceedings, and even without Rog, I have faith that this most formidable of hounds, with its sweet essence of giraffe, will rise again. Without them, life ain’t worth a doodah…


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Darius Drewe

Darius Drewe was born in East London in 1974. As a small child, both parents inflicted their musical tastes, from The Beatles and The Moody Blues to Ella Fitzgerald and Miles Davis, on him, and he was never the same again. Despite being born and bred a 'Cockney tosser', Drewe actually spent his teenage years in and around Birmingham, attending his first 60s/50s-themed nights there at The Ship Ashore, before "coming home" in 1993 to the South, where, with the exception of three years spent in Glasgow between 2007-2010, he has remianed ever since. In the almost two decades that have passed he has trod a strange meandering path from a shy 60s/70s-obsessed teen with no 'scene' to speak of to a Metalhead, sleaze-glammie, Goth, indie kid, glam-punker, garage-rocker, eventual Mod and psych freak (first attending Mousetrap in 2000) In that time he's also written for Shindig! Britmovie, DarkSide, Black Velvet and Get Ready To Rock, promoted various vintage and veteran acts at Camden Underworld, Glasgow Ivory Blacks and several other venues, DJed everything from psych, garage and soul to Metal at practically every well-known club in central London. Drewe is trying to build a time machine that will enable him to visit any period between 1960 and 1980 but still be able to use a mobile and Facebook. His ambition, aside from directing films and building said machine, is to morph into a cross between Jason King, Timmy Lea, Jerry Cornelius and Richard Hannay, and drift about the ether having adventures in a kipper tie, pinstriped flares and camel hair coat.

More Posts - Website - Twitter - Facebook

July 8, 2014 By : Category : Bands Front Page Music Reviews Tags:, ,
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Live! – Monty Python

This entry is part 13 of 20 in the series Live!

London O2, July 3, 26 & 20 2014

Reviewing this show was always going to be an unenviable task, especially for any writer wishing to deliver an objective critique without sounding like an obsessive fan. Such is our lot.

Not that there’s anything wrong with fandom per se, but, surely, given the legend (most influential comedy troupe ever, without whom the Goodies, Comic Strip, Mary Whitehouse Experience and even the heretics of Not The Nine O Clock News would not have existed) 30 years’ worth of expectations, and the respective ages of all five performers (six including Carol Cleveland), the end result could only disappoint, right? Actually, wrong and, perhaps, before going off on one, the self-appointed naysayers (who had their knives poised from the get-go, yet somehow still secured press passes more easily than NUTsmag, thus placing me in another unenviable position) should have given more thought to precisely what they were expecting. Sure, it’s blatant nostalgia, and often comes across as a big queens’ musical revue, but the trick is to accept what you get- a jaunt down memory lane, largely comprised of old faves, but with sufficient surprises, updates, and if you’re lucky, new twists to throw you- rather than moaning about what you don’t.

Besides, in no way could MP 2014 resemble even the beast that existed at the end of its touring career in 1982, far less the original model which revolutionised British culture in 1969: tempus has fugited, one founder has “expired and gone to meet his maker”, and more pertinently, society has irreversibly changed, with old ladies now resembling Marianne Faithfull more than any ‘pepperpot’, young women performing a far wider range of roles than those written for Carol, Connie Booth or Katya Wyeth, gay men no longer relying on screamingly camp or muscularly butch stereotypes, the traditional upper-class slowly dwindling into extinction, and sex discussed so openly that characters like the Nudge Nudge man are now extinct. Even 1983’s Meaning Of Life, featuring far more sex, gore and violence than its predecessors, seems quaint now in a world acclimatised to the nihilism of Nighty Night, the grotesques of The League Of Gentlemen, the social embarrassment of Gervais, Coogan and Baron-Cohen, and sheer nonsense of Big Train, the Boosh and Jinsy: having witnessed all the above drag the Monty template of surrealism and silliness down darker, sicker back alleys, anyone still expecting ‘cutting edge’ humour would clearly be barking up the wrong tree.

From a New Untouchables perspective, on the other hand (and for the benefit of anyone wondering what this review is doing here to begin with), they remain as iconic to the late 1960s/early 70s scene as David Bailey, Twiggy, Donovan or the Nimble Bread balloon, resembling at times not so much a re-trod comic act but a reunited (if slightly raddled round the edges) rock’n’roll band -which, latterly, they practically were in their long-haired hedonistic demeanour. Indeed, several writers have even gone so far as to suggest that Python, more than any “legitimate” rock act, were the 70s’ true inheritors of the Beatles’ mantle, an assertion which not only statistics (listing them alongside the likes of the Who, Stones, Kinks, Wings, Zeppelin, Floyd, Foghat, ELO, Humble Pie, Bad Co and Moody Blues as one of the top highest grossing British acts Stateside that decade), but the peer respect accorded them, would seem to corroborate- and that’s before one even considers the Bonzos connection. Not bad for a bunch of shy, retiring thespians from Cambridge Footlights and their secretarial sidekick.

The next questions immediately facing NUTsmag are therefore of a more practical nature, such as whether Terry Gilliam’s quintessentially psychedelic animations will still be present: thankfully (though cynics might claim they simply provide breath-catching time for five old men, one old lady and a zillion dancers betwixt  costume changes) they remain in abundance, linking  in quasi- hallucinogenic union John Cleese’s authoritarian, ranting persona (“I’m the head of the fucking Catholic Church!!”) with Michael Palin’s conversational drawing room humour, Terry Jones’ more “wittering” roles, the animator’s unhinged lunacy as a performer, and most noticeably, Eric Idle’s newfound status as circus ringmaster. Admittedly, especially considering how his pursuit of other projects seemed formerly set to nix it, one may be puzzled by how much of the reunion seems largely of Idle’s devising, with about 40 % of proceedings revolving around his songcraft- but thankfully, he displays no visible desire to outshine his colleagues, who all seem happy to work to his template while still playing to their respective strengths.

Unavoidably, deliveries are sometimes stilted, lines are read from cue-cards by Jones and Cleese (alluded to repeatedly during “Whizzo Chocolates”), memories aren’t what they were (resulting in corpses, fluffs, and much spontaneous ad-libbing) , throats are croakier, and Cleese’s inability at 74 to perform any Silly Walks sees them worked instead into a new chorus routine, entitled, ironically, in the face of the (some may say) exorbitant ticket prices, “Money Is The Root Of Evil”. Elsewhere, with its reliance on crowdpleasers (“Four Yorkshiremen” “Sperm” “Lumberjack” “Bruce Philosophy” “Spam” “Sit On My Face” “Spanish Inquisition” “Argument”) the show often resembles a Stones stadium gig with emphasis on the hits, and some of the older, quainter material jars initially with the more visceral style of 78-83. Yet perseverance yields several rewards for the connoisseur, with the Exploding Penguin, the Man Who Talks In Anagrams (sashaying nicely into “I Like Chinese”) the Accountant Lion Tamer, the Transvestite Judges, and Cleese’s most demented creation Anne Elk (Miss) all dropping by to say hello.

“Blackmail” is, admittedly, spoilt by the inclusion of nightly “surprise guests”, but its very inclusion still suggests, like the equally unexpected opener “Llamas” that maybe this isn’t the cheesefest predicted after all. Similarly, the Dead Parrot dovetails with the Cheese Shop and the Stolen Wallet in a manner just precarious enough to be tight but sloppy enough to be spontaneous: in truth, the choice of “Christmas In Heaven” (never one of their best moments), as the finale is the only glaring error, further compounded by the live continuation of Graham C’s part by the irksomely boybandish ‘lead singer’ of the chorus, but it does provide another opportunity to show the late doctor in action, and demonstrate how, at 71, Cleveland still has a figure to die for. Even I’d let my great aunt dress like that if she looked that good.

Sadly, even after 150 minutes, the end- which, on the last night, is THE end, can come too soon: as “spontaneous encore” (tee hee) “Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life” concludes with massed curtain calls, the backdrop displays the slogan “Graham Chapman 1941-89”, soon followed by “Monty Python 1969-2014” and “Piss Off”, and realisation sinks in that it is all over. They are no more, have ceased to be, and are no longer even the Knights who say ecky-ecky-ecky-p’tang, let alone Ni: inevitably, many exit complaining of omissions, but were they to perform everything, they’d still be there now. Let’s just be thankful they were there at all.

In short, they pulled it off. Now, do you want to come back to my place?


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Darius Drewe

Darius Drewe was born in East London in 1974. As a small child, both parents inflicted their musical tastes, from The Beatles and The Moody Blues to Ella Fitzgerald and Miles Davis, on him, and he was never the same again. Despite being born and bred a 'Cockney tosser', Drewe actually spent his teenage years in and around Birmingham, attending his first 60s/50s-themed nights there at The Ship Ashore, before "coming home" in 1993 to the South, where, with the exception of three years spent in Glasgow between 2007-2010, he has remianed ever since. In the almost two decades that have passed he has trod a strange meandering path from a shy 60s/70s-obsessed teen with no 'scene' to speak of to a Metalhead, sleaze-glammie, Goth, indie kid, glam-punker, garage-rocker, eventual Mod and psych freak (first attending Mousetrap in 2000) In that time he's also written for Shindig! Britmovie, DarkSide, Black Velvet and Get Ready To Rock, promoted various vintage and veteran acts at Camden Underworld, Glasgow Ivory Blacks and several other venues, DJed everything from psych, garage and soul to Metal at practically every well-known club in central London. Drewe is trying to build a time machine that will enable him to visit any period between 1960 and 1980 but still be able to use a mobile and Facebook. His ambition, aside from directing films and building said machine, is to morph into a cross between Jason King, Timmy Lea, Jerry Cornelius and Richard Hannay, and drift about the ether having adventures in a kipper tie, pinstriped flares and camel hair coat.

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September 18, 2014 By : Category : Front Page Reviews Satire Tags:, ,
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Live! – Tony Hatch: A Life in Song

This entry is part 14 of 20 in the series Live!

London Royal Festival Hall, July 5 2014

Tony Hatch, you’ve all heard of him, right? The TV bloke. The chap who wrote the music for Crossroads, Emmerdale and something else, now, what was it? Oh yes, Neighbours. Bloody Neighbours. The cheesiest soap ever, and the song wasn’t much cop either. Used to drive me barmy. So why would anyone want to go and see that? And what’s it got to do with NUTsmag?

Think again. Yes, he did write those tunes (as well as the themes to Champions, Mr And Mrs, Hadley, Sportsnight and other shows intrinsically associated with retro-lounge culture, all of which are splendidly aired tonight) but he also wrote some of the finest pop songs of the 1960s, as well as laying down superior reworkings of popular standards (such as his sitar-drenched interpretation of Bonnie Dobson’s “Morning Dew”, for instance, hands down the best cover of said song ever recorded) Even some of his lesser known efforts reside among the tunes you twist to regularly on soul dancefloors, whilst others well, to call them simply ‘classics’ wouldn’t even begin to do them justice.

I mean, Chris Montez’ “Call Me”, Jackie Trent’s “Where Are You”, Bobby Rydell’s “Forget Him”, the Searchers’ “Sugar And Spice” Scott Walker’s “Joanna” and most of all, Petula Clark’s “Don’t Sleep In The Subway” “Colour My World” and “Downtown” : That’s what I call an output. Yes, almost every single note and lyric of all of them- as well as producing Bowie, the the Montanas, the Overlanders, Brook Brothers, Viscounts and half the other acts signed during the early Beat boom to Pye, in stereo, before anyone else in the UK (with the obvious exception of Joe Meek) had even tried. In short, this geezer is seriously important to our lives, which therefore means that to witness him discussing and performing the songs that shaped them is an honour.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said of some of the musicians- and I use the term in its broadest sense- chosen to interpret those compositions tonight. I mean, seriously, Rhydian? Joe McElderry? And in the case of Sophie Evans, er, who? Surely there are people within the indie scene- Jarvis, Neil Hannon and yes, even B*b St*nl*y springing to mind- whose sonic debt to the man is obvious, and understanding of his music greater? Of all the younger guests, the lounge-tastic Rumer leans closest to “our planet”, and thus, with her do any hopes of musical salvation lie. Sadly, despite managing deftly on two other numbers, she accidentally sings the first verse of “Call Me” (for which Hatch handles all keyboard duties himself sublimely, thus highlighting the error) in a key as yet unknown to human ears (a fact she is only too well aware of), fleeing the stage immediately after the final note in a visible huff. Oops. However, among this era’s “coffee table” chanteuses, she’s still the only one thus far displaying talent or originality enough to go the distance, and, even if she does reside slightly outside our orbit, I know she’ll recover from such minor embarrassments.

As for us, I suppose we’ll just have to batten down the hatches and concentrate on the genius himself… genius which, thankfully, remains unwithered by time. Not only does he still play piano with consummate skill (when the mood strikes) but he isn’t averse to taking the mike once in a while either, even treating us to a spirited rendition of a song I’m sure many had forgotten was his own in “Messing About On A River”. “Hang about”, I hear you cry, “that’s about as Mod as Nell Gwynne’s frock”… sure, but it’s another element of a multi-faceted man who is, in essence, our own Bacharach and David rolled into one. Admittedly I shan’t dwell too much on his showtunes (not up to the standard of his best work anyway), save to say that as a vocalist, Marti Webb still knocks almost everyone else onstage tonight into a cocked hat. But the stories behind those 60s standards… spellbinding isn’t the word. Just imagine, for a moment, what it was like to not only work, but be in demand, at the turn of the decade that revolutionised British music, in doing so leaving our stamp on the entire world? To produce beat groups when they were still a new invention, and show them how to use studios when the inherent possibilities of recording technology were only just being discovered?

Here, tonight, Hatch tells all and more, and jaws drop. Therefore to some extent, the spoken sections (with former agent Michael Grade acting as questionmaster) far outweigh the performances- again, understandable given the choice of singers- but regardless, the orchestra plays a blinder, recapturing perfectly the atmosphere of both London and New York circa 1963. It’s almost enough to make your NUTsmag correspondent saunter down the Kings road in his finest whistle’n’flute looking for a suitable dollybird with whom to repair to his space age bachelor pad- were he to own one, that is. There’s also a surprise in store for those whose love of 60s culture extends to British cinema: usually, I’d run a mile at the sight and sound of Les Miserables’ John Owen Jones, but witnessing the giant Welshman attempt “Look For A Star”, originally voiced by Garry Mills in 1960’s Circus Of Horrors, is a possibly never-to-be-repeated treat.

Yet ultimately, there’s only one singer, man or woman (or at least one still talking to him, in the absence of ex-wife, co-lyricist and muse Jackie Trent) whose name is synonymous with Hatch’s music, and who can truly do his songs justice: thus it’s Petula Clark, even if only performing three numbers, that everyone has really gathered to see. From her first entrance, the sprightly 82-year-old receives a heroine’s welcome from fans of all ages: rightly so too, for, even if the current generation of reality idols have misinterpreted, her back catalogue, within this woman lurks not only the essence of every descendant from Dusty to Cilla to Dionne, but most latterday post-punk indie-retro babes from Tracey Thorn via Sarah Cracknell to Nina Persson. In short, the true antecedent of every Mod feller’s dream, and that’s before you even acknowledge her peerless quality as an interpreter of popular song.

Her appearance could also only mean, after one promising new track, two things – “Don’t Sleep In The Subway” and “Downtown” , still better descriptions than any others of the respective ups and downs of metropolitan life, written by the man who somehow conveyed them better than anyone else of his age, sung by its true female voice. The cities described may now be poor shadows of those described within, but here, in context, they suddenly seem bearable- as does our intrepid endurance of certain earlier performers- and with Hatch and Clark’s arms linked in an exultant display of musical kinship, the end seems to have justified the means. Next time, though, assuming he’s around to celebrate his 80th- could we at NUTsmag pick the lineup (not to mention drop the Settlers’ “Major To Minor” and some Montanas tunes into the set?) Trust us, we know what we’re doing…


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Darius Drewe

Darius Drewe was born in East London in 1974. As a small child, both parents inflicted their musical tastes, from The Beatles and The Moody Blues to Ella Fitzgerald and Miles Davis, on him, and he was never the same again. Despite being born and bred a 'Cockney tosser', Drewe actually spent his teenage years in and around Birmingham, attending his first 60s/50s-themed nights there at The Ship Ashore, before "coming home" in 1993 to the South, where, with the exception of three years spent in Glasgow between 2007-2010, he has remianed ever since. In the almost two decades that have passed he has trod a strange meandering path from a shy 60s/70s-obsessed teen with no 'scene' to speak of to a Metalhead, sleaze-glammie, Goth, indie kid, glam-punker, garage-rocker, eventual Mod and psych freak (first attending Mousetrap in 2000) In that time he's also written for Shindig! Britmovie, DarkSide, Black Velvet and Get Ready To Rock, promoted various vintage and veteran acts at Camden Underworld, Glasgow Ivory Blacks and several other venues, DJed everything from psych, garage and soul to Metal at practically every well-known club in central London. Drewe is trying to build a time machine that will enable him to visit any period between 1960 and 1980 but still be able to use a mobile and Facebook. His ambition, aside from directing films and building said machine, is to morph into a cross between Jason King, Timmy Lea, Jerry Cornelius and Richard Hannay, and drift about the ether having adventures in a kipper tie, pinstriped flares and camel hair coat.

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September 18, 2014 By : Category : Front Page Music Reviews Tags:, , ,
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