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Gig Night – Mark Eitzel @ The Fleece, Bristol

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One of the overriding principles that underpins Everything Indie Over 40 is to encourage positivity when it comes to interacting about music. It’s the code of practice that embodies everything we do. From the simple sharing of songs to the features we run on social media and the articles and reviews we publish. There is enough hate going on in the world at the moment and we are certainly not going to contribute to it.

Which is why we normally shy away from getting involved in anything that we feel may be in conflict with our established principles. Gig Night, by it’s very nature, embodies those principles. A feature whereby a gig-goer, a fan, could write about a special night seeing their heroes in action. Why would it be anything other than benevolent?

However, as we all know, it is not always sunshine and roses. Sometimes your heroes can let you down.

When we read Tracey Bowen‘s review of a Mark Eitzel gig we couldn’t help but be moved by her account of what was clearly a night that held so much promise and high expectation for her, but that ultimately left her feeling emotionally confused.  We saw no negativity in the context of our carefully preserved principles. There was no hate here. Just raw feelings beautifully articulated and drawn straight from the heart. As far as we were concerned it had to be shared.

So with principles firmly set aside, here is Tracey’s Gig Night review of Mark Eitzel at The Fleece Bristol in March 2017

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You’d think, with a set book-ended by ‘Blue and Grey Shirt’ and ‘Western Sky’, that I’d be happy. But happy is relative. Relative to how drunk Mark Eitzel is and how far he will go to downplay his own genius in a room full of people who were quite certain of it when they set out at the start of the evening. Tonight, despite him swearing the plastic pint glass of red wine is half water, Eitzel appears pretty drunk and hell-bent on self-sabotage.

Believe me, Eitzel is in fine voice tonight. I’m thrilled to hear songs from his new album ‘Hey Mr Ferryman’, released mere days before this gig, live for the first time. The self-analysing lyrics of songs like ‘The Last Ten Years’, ‘An Answer’ and ‘Mr Humphries’ lend themselves well to the intimate setting of this diminutive Bristol bar. They sit seamlessly alongside his majestic back-catalogue. As for the old songs, I don’t think I’ve heard a more delicately rendered version of ‘Apology for an Accident’ as tonight. And it’s a joy to hear ‘Jesus’ Hands’, a song he’s long neglected on solo outings.

It’s a shame that we’re not to be treated, as the London crowd will, to a guest appearance from Bernard Butler. Butler produced (and played much of the music) on the new record and has been credited for its lush arrangements. But Butler’s absence doesn’t detract from the enjoyment. No, it’s Eitzels’ between song banter that does that. It breaks the spell. Breaks an unwritten agreement between performer and audience.

He announces his entrance on stage tonight as “Club Firefly – the premier Mark Eitzel and American Music Club tribute band” and proceeds to introduce his current backing band as Vudi, Danny and Tim (members of the classic AMC line-up – and definitely not present tonight). The Fleece is a popular venue for tribute bands and I suppose this was part of their pre-show tomfoolery, that they’re a tribute act rather than authentic. So we laugh; a joke between friends. Only he doesn’t leave it there. He stays in character for the rest of the performance (and believe me, a performance it is). It’s hard to know what’s real and what’s parody. And I guess that’s what he intends.

In-between heart-rending and heart-stopping renditions of American Music Club and solo output, he acts out the part of a fanboy who has direct access to the most intimate details of Eitzel’s personal life, spinning anecdotes of conversations with Eitzel from rehab, adopting a laboured raspy voice to denote the real Mark who tells us what a particular song meant to him. More facade, another mask, another cheap laugh at his own expense. Songs from the new album which they are, of course, here to promote, are introduced as “Club Firefly’s own material”.

Am I being po-faced or is the joke wearing thin? The girl behind me in the crowd doesn’t think so. She gasps and laughs in all the right moments; dutifully coos “beautiful” in a breathy voice as the last note of each song fades away. 20 years ago, hell maybe even as recently as ten, that girl would have been me; hanging on his every word and swooning with wonder even as he writhed and squirmed uncomfortably under the spotlight. But the self-deprecating act becomes tiresome eventually and I wonder where along the line he lost me, when my heart hardened beyond the point he could break it any more, when I became impervious to his words.

I realise now that parody is the new real. Club Firefly are post-parody. It allows Eitzel to treat his songs with contempt without having to take the blame. In another imagined phone call from rehab, Mark tells the Club Firefly singer to “play that song that means so much to me”. So they play the impossibly beautiful ‘Firefly’ to a hungrily appreciative and open-mouthed crowd.

I’ve thought for years that Eitzel displays an astonishing lack of respect toward his own body of work in a live setting. Maybe it’s my problem and I need to get over myself. Where do I get off thinking the songs belong in any way to me? But where does he get off behaving like they don’t? Is the “professional singer and ham” role the only way he can take something so personal on the road? If so, why bother? Because it pays the bills? I seriously doubt it does. Because he can’t do anything else? Possibly. Probably. But it’s clear the generally held reverence doesn’t sit easy with him. Never has. And perhaps his work here is done because I might finally be over my hero-worship of Eitzel the man if not the singer. Might finally let him down from his impossibly high pedestal. So here’s the deal: while the guy on stage pretends to be Mark Eitzel, I’ll pretend to be the girl behind me. We can both suspend our disbelief, just until the end of the gig. But we’ll both end up feeling like frauds. At best, it’s catharsis by proxy. At worst, an episode of Game For a Laugh gone wrong, “watching us, watching you, watching us, watching you”.

Early on in the set, he very nearly kicked that plastic glass of wine over, lurching perilously close to the edge of the stage whilst comically trying to unstick his setlist from the sole of his shoe. It was both a tragic and hilarious farce. You couldn’t write this stuff. Or if you could, it’d be the best Mark Eitzel tribute song never written.

Author: Tracey Bowen

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tracey Bowen is a yoga-loving computer programmer from Birmingham, now living in Tamworth, the ancient capital of Mercia.

She plays an odd assortment of instruments (accordion, omnichord, melodica & glockenspiel) for sometime pop-folk outfit Driven Like the Snow and has just embarked on a new lo-fi drone project with the singer/guitarist from Avrocar.

She can be found on Twitter at @INeedDirection usually very late at night tweeting maudlin indie nostalgia.

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We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about Tracey’s gig night. We would love to hear about your own gig experiences whether they are recent or in the past. Please contact us if you would like to contribute, via email indieover40@gmail.com or Twitter @IndieOver40

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Gig Night – Ian Prowse & Amsterdam @ The Greystones, Sheffield

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We were naturally delighted when Mark Whitworth told us he was going to see Ian Prowse perform Pele’s Fireworks album for it’s 25th anniversary and wanted to write about it for our Gig Night feature. If his last one for a Half Man Half Biscuit gig was anything to go by then we were in for a treat.

Safe to say he didn’t let us down. In fact he’s gone beyond the call of duty here. It’s more than just a gig review. It’s a personal reflection of what was clearly a memorable night for him & if you don’t know much about Pele, don’t worry. Mark has added some bonus features for you.

So thank you to Mark for sharing his Gig Night. Read on and enjoy……

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I think too much and I drink too much

Despite making only the most negligible inroads into the lower reaches of the charts (ha! – as if the charts were ever a barometer of decent music anyway), Pele were an ebullient fixture on the live circuit in the early 1990s. If you were a student during this era the chances are they played at your university, probably several times. (I was at Bangor myself though – the “best” we ever got was D:Ream. Strangely enough I was washing my hair that night).

Even though I was living in Runcorn at this time, just a stone’s throw from Ian Prowse’s hometown of Ellesmere Port, I don’t think I actually remember hearing them on local radio. As I recall I first came across them via Channel 4’s Teletext pages (remember those? Seems practically sepia-tinged these days) and their review of the Fair Blows The Wind For France single (if you’re not too familiar with Pele’s output, the chances are this is probably the one song you may have heard of). The review sounded good so I sought out a copy, and it was indeed, and still is, a beauty. But don’t take my word for it – feel free to judge for yourself.


The single was released in June 1992, and was taken from the album Fireworks which had come out in March of that year. It wasn’t long before I got hold of this too, and it was pretty much a permanent fixture in my cassette player that summer.
Sadly, despite a devoted cult following, Pele were to last just one more album, 1993’s The Sport of Kings, before disbanding amid record company turmoil in 1994. Fireworks, however, remains particularly fondly remembered among “Pele-people”, and thus the news announced last year than Ian Prowse and his current band, Amsterdam, were going to be touring Fireworks in full to commemorate the album’s 25th anniversary, was received with great excitement.

And so it was that a couple of hundred folks “of a certain age” (along with a pleasing number of younger people it must be said) sauntered along to The Greystones in Sheffield to witness this celebration. The Greystones is a smashing venue – a couple of miles out of the city centre, just past Hunters Bar (of Arctic Monkeys’ Fake Tales of San Francisco fame), it’s a cracking real ale pub with an intimate live music venue attached. I’d been once before, to see an unforgettable act by the name of Bob Log III (which is quite another story in itself), but was particularly looking forward to this one, seeing one of my favourite bands of yesteryear whilst simultaneously unencumbered by having to drive home.

The first order of business though was to get hold of one of the seminal Pele logo t-shirts which had mercifully been reissued for this tour. The Pele t-shirt has a particular significance for me, as I was wearing my previous one (in the days when I could still fit in it) when I first met my wife in 1999. (Don’t worry, sick buckets are provided at the end of this review). There are a surprising number of original Pele t-shirts adorning members of the audience tonight (although perhaps only surprising to me, that anyone can still get into clothes they were wearing 25 years ago!) In any event it was a relief to be able to get my hands on a brand new one as I was concerned that the “sizes for the larger gentleman” may have sold out.

Transaction duly completed, I caught the last couple of songs by the extremely agreeable local support band, Robberie (robberie.bandcamp.com). Their guitarist, Robin Byles, is a lifelong Pele fan, and was responsible for maintaining the band’s website and keeping fans up to date in the post-Pele years, for which Ian would thank him later during his own set.

Before too long, Ian and the gang take to the stage themselves, and it’s straight into not the opener from Fireworks, but the penultimate track, Monkey Scream, with its haunting Hammond organ intro. By my reckoning it’s 24 years since I last saw Pele live, and it’s clear from the get-go that even though the songs are being played by different musicians, they have lost absolutely none of their verve and energy – Pele’s songs were always known for sounding even better live than on their records, and this remains the case all these years later.

From here on they play the Fireworks album in full, in a different order to the familiar tracklisting. It’s absolutely brilliant to hear these songs again so many years after I thought I had heard them live for the last time. They are all nothing short of magnificent, and Ian’s tremendous voice is at its very finest the whole night; my own personal favourites are Searchlight, Megalomania, Oh Lord and the title track Fireworks itself.

Before the final song from Fireworks, however, Ian announces that he is going to leave us waiting for that for a while, and tells us that he is going to play songs “that you won’t know if you fucked me off after Pele, even though we got even better!” To my considerable shame, I have to include myself in this category (don’t tell him!) – while I know the odd Amsterdam song, it’s really only the most passing of acquaintances. After tonight’s show I am determined to remedy this. A handful of Amsterdam songs duly receive an airing, including the emotional My Name is Dessie Warren, a cover of a tribute to the titular trade union activisit, generally regarded as having been wrongfully jailed along with Ricky Tomlinson during the national builders’ strike in 1972.

The show continues with Name & Number, a Pele B-side which made its way onto their second album followed by, finally, the last song from Fireworks, the superb anti-monarchist rant Raid The Palace. But they’re not done yet – Ian says “we’re not going to do an encore, we’re just gonna stay here and play more songs”. This leads to an unexpected but brilliant cover of The Clash’s London Calling, followed by the last song on the official set list, Does This Train Stop On Merseyside?, another Amsterdam song and possibly one of Ian’s best known songs from his whole career, and well worth reading about here:

10 years today since ‘Does This Train Stop On Merseyside’ was released.

The evening is rounded off with a groovy version of The Word Is… , another track from The Sport of Kings, before coming to a close with, seeing as it is indeed March 17, Damien Dempsey’s St Patrick’s Brave Brigade, a tale of Irish expats who fought for the Mexican army against the US in the 1840s, and are revered today in both Mexico and Ireland as the Battalón de San Patricio.

And with that, the night is complete. Well, almost; there’s just time to get my picture taken with the great man. There are some artists who you might feel uncomfortable approaching for a pic, but Ian couldn’t be more affable, and we chat briefly about the proximity of our home towns and what have you.

(thank you to the band’s violinist Laura for taking the pic!)

It’s been a truly rousing evening and a great reminder, as if it were ever needed, of just what a gifted songwriter and singer Ian Prowse is. I’ll definitely be familiarising myself with the rest of his back catalogue before too long. Until the next time, if you want me, I’m at the bar.

P.S. Check out this brilliant documentary about Fireworks, made for the 25th anniversary.


Author: Mark Whitworth

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Whitworth is originally from Runcorn in Cheshire but now lives in South Yorkshire. He is the bass player in rock & indie covers band Dr Hackenbush, is shortly hoping to start a PhD in Linguistics, and once sold a Big Mac to Mr T. He can be found on Twitter at @bringitonskippy, usually arguing about why the correct term for a soft white bread roll is “barmcake”.

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We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about Mark’s gig night. We would love to hear about your own gig experiences whether they are recent or in the past. Please contact us if you would like to contribute, via email indieover40@gmail.com or Twitter @IndieOver40

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Gig Night – The Railway Children @ The Lexington

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Fresh from submerging himself knee deep in the world of The Railway Children courtesy of his wonderful item for Toppermost , John Hartley managed to keep the momentum going by checking them out in the flesh.

Here is John’s Gig Night review of The Railway Children at The Lexington, London on Saturday 18th March 2017…

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Up a narrow and steep steel staircase with perhaps one or two too many steps is a room filled largely with men of hair greying and thinning – where it exists at all – and waistbands expanded more than their owners might choose. At the bar a man begrudges the £5 price of a bottle of ale, whilst noticing the barely-discreet notices advising patrons that ‘Earplugs are available: just ask at the bar’. We’re getting old folks, we’re getting old.

The gathered throng, and there are a fair number of us, are present to greet long-absent friends, friends who only came back into our midst last year after a hiatus lasting well over 20 years. The last time I saw The Railway Children was in a rampant hometown gig on Wigan Pier. Buoyed by finally breaking into the Top 40 singles chart, the band were in great form, the crowd roared them on, bassist Stephen Hull departed stage left momentarily to be sick, and t-shirts cost a tenner.

At The Lexington in 2017 it feels like the band has never been away. Always a good-looking band they have aged as much as their music: very well. Sure, there may be a bit of stubble (shaving gets to be such a chore, doesn’t it) and silvery receding hairline, but not much else has changed. Gary Newby still looks youthful and sings with rich tone, Hull still plays the bass like it’s the easiest thing in the world, Guy Keegan still keeps impeccable time and drives the more uptempo songs along, and Brian Bateman still looks like he’s enjoying every minute of strumming Newby’s perfectly crafted pop songs, even when he forgets to change to the second chord of a two-chord song (the band’s debut single ‘A Gentle Sound’) within the first three bars.

With nothing to promote and no longer having to play the part of a mere cog in the wheels of the music industry machine The Railway Children can offer a relaxed and varied set. There is little room for chat – a wry “This was our hit single” introducing ‘Every Beat Of The Heart’ being as close to banter as Newby gets – but that means more time for songs. All three band albums are covered well, there’s the inevitable run out of most – but not all – the singles and, most pleasingly, space for some b-sides: ‘After The Rain’, ‘History Burns’ and ‘Darkness And Colour’ all get a run out.

As the set proceeds, so the performances get stronger and better. ‘Somewhere South’ sounds as good as it ever has, recorded or live. Slower songs such as ‘Big Hands Of Freedom’ are given space to breathe and flourish. Final album title track ‘Native Place’ shows Newby’s voice at its best. The tunes come thick and fast, culminating with “our last song, which was also our first song”: ‘A Gentle Sound’. A quick dash off stage, then back on, and we are treated to the almost inevitable encore ‘Brighter’, a song whose outro could go on forever and still not seem too long. And that’s it: off stage they head, the lights come on, the DJ’s playlist resumes and we all head home, some of us with a souvenir t-shirt that cost a mere £12 – another pleasant reminder that not everything has to change.

 

Author: John Hartley

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

After spending the best part of twenty five years trying to write the perfect pop song John Hartley has turned his attention to writing about those who have done a much better job at it. He tweets as @JohnyNocash and gives away his music, generally for free. He is currently raising money to support men’s mental health charity CALM (@theCALMzone) at http://brokendownrecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-broken-heed

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We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about John’s gig night. We would love to hear about your own gig experiences whether they are recent or in the past. Please contact us if you would like to contribute, via email indieover40@gmail.com or Twitter @IndieOver40

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Gig Night – Teenage Fanclub @ The Fleece, Bristol

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A tale of 2 Robs

An email dropped into the EIO40 mailbox midweek from Rob at Sonic PR asking if we wanted a guest list place at the Teenage Fanclub gig in Bristol on that Saturday (3rd Sep). Bristol is a bit of a trek for us and as we would be at the London gig anyway on the following Monday our initial reaction was to reluctantly swerve. However, it didn’t seem right to pass up such an offer considering we have friends in the manor. So we contacted regular EIO40 contributor Rob Morgan (@durutti74) to see if he was up for it and not only was he cock-a-hoop (he’d missed out on the pre-tour Bristol tickets) but said he would also write a review.

Pleased to say, it all worked out so thanks to Rob at Sonic PR and of course to Rob Morgan. Here is his review of  Teenage Fanclub at The Fleece, Bristol on Saturday 3rd September 2016..

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Maturity is not something to be celebrated in the music scene. Even back in the 50s and 60s pop groups weren’t given long life spans, it was a young person’s game – the pop stars were perceived to have a limited shelf life, gave the audience songs which reflected their teenage lifestyles and everyone was supposed to move on. It was transience personified. The man who wrote the line “Hope I die before I get old” in the mid 60s had trouble finding anything valid to say about himself and his generation in the 70s and 80s. Each generation had its own spokesman, reluctant or otherwise, and they very rarely spoke about the joys of settling down, getting old and facing mortality.

It is ironic that Teenage Fanclub have become the spokesmen for the generation of indie pop kids who grew up in the late 80s and early 90s, the people who are facing their fifties worried about the mortgages, the health of their parents and their children’s school report (or is that just me? I’m not sure). OK, it’s not very rock and roll – the songs about alcoholidays and girls driving them home are in the past – but over their last few albums Teenage Fanclub have written some of the most affecting songs of recent times – “Only With You”, “I Don’t Want Control of You”, “Baby Lee”, “My Uptight Life” and many more.

The promise of a new Teenage Fanclub album is always greeted with a huge level of anticipation by their faithful fans – especially as they usually take half a decade to get around to making an album – and their latest album “Here” is due very shortly, followed by a substantial tour. It was the perfect moment for a small mini tour to reacquaint the band with their audience, and to road test a few new songs too. The mini tour started in Bristol on 3rd September, and I was lucky enough to be there.

Support band Snails were intriguing and a good choice, I felt they won over the crowd who may not have been that interested. Jangling guitar, male / female vocals, blasts of flute, saxophone and trumpet recalling The June Brides as well as Belle and Sebastian, they said they had a few 7 inchers available, certainly worth further investigation.

Teenage Fanclub themselves turned up on time, looking like they had just stepped in off the street. Raymond McGinley looks more like a science teacher with greying hair and glasses but once he straps on his Fender Jaguar he becomes a guitar hero. Norman Blake bears a remarkable resemblance to my doctor only Blake smiles more and between songs gives flashes of his wicked sense of humour. Gerry Love looks exactly the same as he did in 1995 – how does he do it? Francis Macdonald holds the beat steady and adds extra harmonies here and there while keyboard player Dave McGowan pops out front to add a third guitar to the mix half the time. Blake even called McGinley and McGowan ‘Kings of shred’ after their guitar duel after one song they had played on

So much for the facts, but that doesn’t explain the joyous rush of emotions that these five musicians can generate. How can such simple melodies and chord changes be so affecting? The set list was weighted towards the numerous classics in their back catalogue but there was room for four new songs from “Here”. Starting appropriately with “Start Again”, the crowd were singing back every word to the band.

Teenage Fanclub gigs are always like that – a communal feel of love and affection from band to audience and back again. Teenage Fanclub may not have played a gig for over a year, or toured substantially for a lot longer than that, but the musical chemistry was there immediately. During instrumental breaks Blake would frequently turn to Love or McGinley with an enormous grin on his face – he was enjoying it as much as the audience. Love would give a shy little smile after forthcoming single “Thin Air”, an acknowledgement that it had been well received. “It’s nice to see an audience, we’ve been playing to ourselves for two weeks”, Blake said between songs at one point, then adding “Well, more like three days actually…”

It did not show, there wasn’t a note or harmony out of place.

 And the songs… when a band can leave out gems like “Mellow Doubt”, “Neil Jung”, “What You Do To Me”, “Baby Lee” and “Alcoholiday” from their set and they’re not missed then that band has got a rich catalogue of songs to dip into.

TFC Norm Keys

All three songwriters got an equal share of the spotlight, taking turns to present their songs. Blake has the most immediate tunes – “I Don’t Want Control Of You”, “It’s All In My Mind”, “I’m In Love” – and Love has the singalongs – “Ain’t That Enough”, “Sparkys Dream”, “Star Sign” – but McGinley’s songs cut the deepest. New song “Hang On” is an absolute beauty lyrically and musically, even if they admit they don’t know how to end it – “It fades out on the record, we just play the same chord until we stop” added Blake.

It’s a worthy addition to McGinley’s esteemed canon, songs like “Verisimilitude” and “Your Love Is The Place Where I Come From” greeted like old friends, as is the sight of Blake reaching for his xylophone at the start of the latter song. Equally Blake’s “Darkest Part Of The Night” rolls easy like “I Don’t Want Control Of You” does. If this is the quality of the songs on “Here”, it’s likely to be an absolute gem of an album.

In all, Teenage Fanclub returned and it felt like they had never been away. If there were any first night nerves, they weren’t evident. It was a confident performance by the band at the top of their game. I would love the set list to be a little longer, maybe that will happen on their main tour in November. For now, it is a pleasure and a joy to have Teenage Fanclub back in our lives.

TFC Set

Author: Rob Morgan

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rob writes about music and other less important subjects at his blog A Goldfish Called Regret (agoldfishcalledregret.wordpress.com) and also creates podcasts for Goldfish Radio (https://m.mixcloud.com/robmorgan589).

He never achieved his ambition of making a Sarah Record.

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We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about Rob’s gig night. We would love to hear about your own gig experiences whether they are recent or in the past. Please contact us if you would like to contribute, via email indieover40@gmail.com or Twitter @IndieOver40

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Gig Night – Deadcuts / I Plead Irony

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We weren’t there. We wanted to be there. We couldn’t be there. It was a gig with headliners featuring Mark Keds and Cass Browne from Senseless Things and celebrating the life of Wiz, front man of Mega City Four and songwriter and lyricist extraordinaire who soundtracked an defining era for many of us. It was a gig night down the road from us. We were gutted.

Thankfully Dawn Bovingdon (@Miss_D_xx) was there and has shared with us the next best thing. An entertaining full match report of the recent Forward4Wiz gig at Farnborough FC.

So enjoy Dawn’s gig night. It was clearly emotional.

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Anyone who knows me will know that saying Mega City Four is my favourite band is a massive understatement. So when it was hinted that an event would take place in January to celebrate Wiz’s birthday, 9 years after his sudden and tragic death following a blood clot on the brain, I excitedly cleared my diary in anticipation.

As details filtered out it was announced that Blag Promotions (Pete Cole) and Rose Coloured Records (Andy Fulterer) with the Forward 4 Wiz Trust would host a gig at the Farnborough Football Club, a regular former hangout for the band. Headlined by Deadcuts, supported by I Plead Irony and set for 16th January 2016. Both bands have a close connection to Wiz.

Deadcuts are the brainchild of Mark Keds, former Senseless Things frontman, a band which toured relentlessly with MC4 back in the 90s. With guitarist Jerome Alexandre, the band also included Mark McCarthy of The Wonder Stuff. However a couple of last minute changes saw the departure of Mark M to be replaced by bassist Joseph Johns, and the brilliant addition of Cass Browne, the Senseless Things drummer. After some hasty poster changes the line up was finalised.

I Plead Irony have only been a band for a few years but have a history. I first met Rauf Jordan, vocalist and bassist, and Lawrence Arnold, drummer, when they completed Ipanema with Wiz. They are joined by Paul McDonald who previously featured with them in a band called The Fins. We’ve seen them a few times before and they played my 40th birthday party, so very happy to see them included.

I quickly realised we’d have the kids that weekend, so what better than to treat them to an evening in my world – what teenage kid wouldn’t want that ☺. Two rooms were booked at the Farnborough Premier Inn and the tickets purchased before I gave them the great news. The girls hadn’t stayed in a hotel before and were quite excited at the prospect. There was talk of ordering room service – I didn’t want to burst their bubble by telling them Premier Inn is a little more down market than that, so said I’d provide dinner.

The 16th quickly arrived, albeit with threats of snow storms, and we set off for the short journey mid-afternoon so the girls could enjoy the hotel experience. They masked their disappointment well when I produced 4 Pot Noodles and a loaf of bread as their room service dinner – no expense spared!

We booked a cab and met a couple of friends, Becki & Jackie, in the foyer. The football club was only a couple of miles away and was already buzzing by the time we arrived to a sold out crowd. Jonathon Trevisick of Feet First DJ’d between bands and was already belting out some fantastic indie tunes. We happily sang along to Carter’s Sheriff Fatman while the girls rolled their eyes and tried to disown us.

The room was full of friends who had known and loved Wiz, and most had stories of MC4 gigs and times they’d spent with the band. MC4 were represented on the night by the band’s drummer Chris Jones (who doesn’t seem to age), Karina Chillman – Wiz’s then partner and F4Wt trustee, and Dee Terry, Gerry Bryant’s missus, as Gerry had a prior engagement with a football match. The atmosphere was emotional, a mix of joy – celebrating great music and wonderful memories – with sombre overtones. Two screens showed video clips and photos of MC4, Ipanema and Senseless Things as a reminder of the past, while the night and the purpose of the F4Wt was about looking forward with new music.

I Plead Irony took to the small stage at 8.30pm. Rauf was wearing one of his customary Shite Shirts, I believe bought especially for the gig. The band go from strength to strength. Kicking off with Now or Never, the opening track from their first album, they grabbed the audience’s attention. The new material sounds fantastic and What If, my current favourite IPI song, was up next. Those that knew the lyrics sang along, others just moved to the music.

Dawn I Plead Irony post image

The rest of the set continued at a pace with the band obviously enjoying the night, sounding competent, confident and very loud. As their time drew to an end there were calls for more and, to the delight of the crowd, the band launched into a cover of Mega City Four’s Miles Apart. Ending their set with gig favourite Wrecking Ball (no not the Miley version), the band finished on a high and headed for the bar. I Plead Irony’s 2nd album entitled The Solution is the Problem is released in April. I’m singing in a crowd backing vocal bit on one track but don’t let that put you off, you can’t hear me ☺. I’ve heard a demo of the album and it’s a must buy.

All profits from the gig will be donated to the Forward 4 Wiz Trust, set up in his memory to support new and aspiring musicians in the area. Both bands had donated merch towards a raffle prize, along with Stuffies and MC4 items. Pete Cole drew the winning raffle ticket. I didn’t catch the name of the guy who won but he walked away with some fantastic goodies I’d had my eye on.

There was a DJ interval between bands where curry was served from the back of the venue and we tried to chat to friends over the loud music, resorting to a weird form of made up sign language, ending in shrugs, before heading to the bar to stock up on drinks instead. The youngest did her best moody teen impression until her request for a Muse track was played and she started bouncing around grinning.

Dawn post image sofa

Deadcuts were due on stage at 10pm however at 9.50 we started to worry as no one had stepped on stage since the raffle was drawn, and our cab would be arriving at 11. 10pm arrived with Mark and Jerome taking to the stage to set up their equipment and 10 minutes later the band were ready. I’d only heard a couple of songs prior to the gig but liked what I’d heard. With a sound far removed from the poppiness of Senseless Things – Deadcuts have a much darker, heavier quality to their songs. Keds’ lyrics draw on his life experience and listening to them feels almost like reading his personal diary. Jerome is a very strong guitarist and his style perfectly complements Keds. It’s fantastic to see Cass back on drums and he fits naturally into the band. The girls were very happy to see Joseph on stage and he was the highlight of their night (makes a change from them crushing on Matt Bellamy!).

Whilst a fairly new band they are already building a strong following based on quality songs. Their set opened to cheers with Praying for Jail, moving into Less I Want Less I Need. Mark decided to make a few costume changes, not easy on a small stage with no changing area. Starting the set shirtless in a long black coat, switching to a Bowie tribute Blackstar knitted jumper and finally a suit jacket.

Dawn Deadcuts image

I got the impression Mark seemed a little uncomfortable or nervous at the start (possibly due to the fact it was in memory of a friend) but the band quickly settled in and each song sounded better than the previous. Opium Styles and Brittany Murphy were fantastic with, what I feel is their best yet, Summon the Witches – a song with a guitar hook that stays with you for days. This was followed by new track Dope Girls which I’ve since had to order.

As 11pm neared Mark stood quiet while the crowd cheered and waited for the noise to die down, before reading the lyrics to Mega City Four’s Less Than Senseless as poetry. A song written by Wiz for Senseless Things. It was beautiful to hear and the emotion in Mark’s voice was audible. To finish the set Deadcuts launched into the faster paced Kill Desire. They’re a band I’d strongly recommend seeing and who are currently touring with The Libertines (Mark co-wrote Can’t Stand Me Now).

By now it was just after 11 and our cab was waiting with the meter running. Pete Cole and Karina Fraser stepped on stage to close the event. Karina spoke from the heart to thank everyone for coming together, celebrating Wiz’s life and contribution and for supporting the trust. As it was Danny Brown’s birthday (Wiz’s brother and MC4 guitarist) who had moved to Australia last year with his lovely wife Roxy, we didn’t want to leave him out so the gig finished with a group chorus of happy birthday, filmed and uploaded to FB for him to see.

Dawn Drummers corner

As my family and friends dashed out to the cab before he gave up and left us, I just had time to say hello, great gig and goodbye to Mark Keds before joining them and heading back to our hotel. It was a fantastic night and flew by all too quickly. Most importantly £500 was raised for the F4Wt. Let’s make it an annual event.

Enjoying myself too much, my slightly drunken pics were pretty poor, and I can’t stand still at gigs, so I won’t inflict my efforts on you (bar 1 Adrian took). Instead professional photographer, Dave Vokes of LMI Photography, has kindly shared a few pics of the bands. Enjoy!

Dawn Bovingdon

Videos & Links

Deadcuts – Summon the Witches https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a-FTGLN6eT4
I Plead Irony – I Can’t Hear You https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G11GDLEQRJo
Forward 4 Wiz Trust – www.f4wt.org

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We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about Dawn’s gig night. We would love to hear about your own gig experiences whether they are recent or in the past. Please contact us if you would like to contribute, via email indieover40@gmail.com or Twitter @IndieOver40

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Gig Night – Ride @ Bristol Anson Rooms

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We knew Rob Morgan, (@durutti74) was at the Ride gig in Bristol along with a few others from the community. What we didn’t know was he was formulating a review for our Gig Night feature.

Most of us know Rob anyway so we will dispense with the usual preamble and just let you dive in and disgest, but just to say that reading this review is likely to bring on a bout of pure jealousy to those who weren’t at what sounds like an incredible gig night.

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RIDE – BRISTOL ANSON ROOMS 17TH OCTOBER 2015

I must admit that I am in two minds about band reunions. On the one hand I can understand the desire to wallow in nostalgia, to relive my youth and see my heroes looking older and plumper. On the other hand I don’t want to see my heroes going through the motions doing it for the money, a soul free karaoke for the over 40s. So when my good friend Ray from Country Mile Records offered me a spare ticket to Ride in Bristol I was torn.

You see Ride are important to me. From the moment I saw them performing “Drive blind” on Snub TV early in January 1990 I knew this was a band for me, the first children of My Bloody Valentine who were singing about the confusion I felt as I left behind my teenage days and faced young adulthood.As 1990 progressed I snapped up each new Ride release on the day it hit the shops, marvelling at the leaps forward they were making and allowing each record to soundtrack my own miniature dramas. And I was pleased and thrilled to see them doing so well, “Taste” being the play out music on Top Of The Pops felt important, and in 1991 they were there on the show itself performing “Unfamiliar”, all floppy fringes and studied cool.

They seemed poised for greatness, Robert Smith loved them and said they were his natural heirs, every new record was a step forward. 1992 brought new delights – “Leave them all behind” was an eight minute juggernaut of a song and the “Going blank again” LP reined back on the noise and confusion while focusing on song craft and melody and the pains and pleasures of travel and home. It could only go downhill from there and it did. By 1994 times were changing in indie scenes and at their label Creation Records and subsequent releases were nowhere near as good or powerful as their early records. It came as no surprise when they split in 1996, and the four members moved to other bands and projects within music.

But as time progressed, the shoegazing sound that Ride had helped to spawn at the dawn of the nineties became influential on a new generation of musicians and fans. The music press may have turned on shoegazing and sneered about middle class fops being wasted, but the fans saw past the bad press and recognised something pure within the waves of guitar feedback, the emotion behind the floppy fringes and hooded tops.

The demand for tickets for the reunions of My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, Ride and Lush shows that the time is right for shoegazing to be reassessed. When it was announced that Ride would be playing their debut album “Nowhere” in full on this tour, I was convinced. I looked at set lists for the previous gigs on the tour, heard feedback (pun slightly intended) from Twitter followers on the tour and started to get excited. After all, I had seen them in Cardiff in 1991, touring the “Today forever” EP, with Slowdive as support. That was a night to remember, the reformed Ride had a lot to live up to.

Ride ticket

They did not disappoint. The show was split into two sets, the first hour being a “greatest hits” set heavy on the “Going Blank Again” period, the second hour being “Nowhere” plus the three songs from the “Fall” EP which completed the CD. Kicking off with “Leave them all behind”, the band sounded tight yet enormous. Mark Gardener was centre stage, his floppy fringe replaced by a wide brimmed hat, but still swaying within the ocean of sound around him. To his right Andy Bell was stick thin and had a cool swagger which can only come from years of being in Oasis. And yet the rhythm section – Steve Queralt in bass and Laurence Colbert looked exactly the same as they did back in 1990. Shoegazing has anti-ageing properties that Nivea and Olay can’t compete with.

Set one was filled with highlights. There were unexpected pleasures like “Chrome Waves” and “Time Machine”, including the curious dub intro. “Like A Daydream” was a joyous blast of pop melody. “OX4” and “Today” stretched out – and I wasn’t expecting Mark to be playing bass while Steve made curious noises on his bass. The band played superbly, they were tight when they needed to be but also loose when the songs demanded climaxes, pushing the songs beyond their recorded states. Loz was a revelation – keeping the beat but flaying around the kit like Keith Moon, a remarkable bedrock for the band. They all looked they were enjoying themselves too, little smiles and glances across the stage between members communicated a lot, and of course the audience loved them.

The “Nowhere” set was superb. “Seagull” rising and falling with a huge crescendo to close. “Kaleidoscope” infused with joy – a song they had never played live before this tour. It became clear that the album is well laid out – the relative calm of “In A Different Place” before the storm of “Polar Bear”. Each song was greeted like an old friend by the crowd. Even the distinctive drum intro to “Dreams Burn Down” was given a roar of approval. The biggest cheer of the night was reserved for album closer “Vapour Trail”, the whole crowd singing along, heads nodding and bodies shaking. “Vapour Trail” had become THE Ride song now, there’s generations of sensitive fans who have placed it on compilation tapes and mix CDs to impress their new loves (or was that just me?). And it was perfect, even with the string quartet playing as well. Beautiful. The “Fall” EP songs were a huge bonus – “Here And Now” is one of my favourite Ride songs – and they took “Nowhere” on a huge journey, from a whisper to a scream, over ten minutes.

The encores were two songs from their first EP. “Chelsea Girl” was a blast but “Drive Blind” was something else, thundering along up to the point where the song breaks down to noise and then… a maelstrom of noise, Andy and Mark coaxing incredible sounds from their guitars, Loz standing up hammering his cymbals, an overwhelming experience which shook the floor and earned a round of applause once the song recommenced after seven minutes on a single note. Sure, the Valentines would have strung it out for longer but Ride judged it perfectly. A wonderful end to a great night.

So how did it compare to Ride in 1991? No comparison at all. The standard of the band’s musicianship has increased, the quality of sound reproduction is better – the sound was immaculate, loud but nor overpowering, every element perfectly placed and clearly audible. The light show was great too, different for every song and sympathetic to the sound of the band. In the end it was a different experience from the early 90s, but the songs remained as powerful .

Where do Ride go from here? Who know how long the reunion will last and what it may lead to, but for the time being Ride are at the top of their game and enjoying themselves and that translates to a great experience for fans. If you have any reservations about seeing them, place them aside and go see them – you won’t regret it.

(Do you do ratings out of ten, EIO40? If so this is definitely 10 out of 10)

Photo of Ride courtesy of Nathan Egan (@ArchieBoyo)

Rob Morgan

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rob writes about music and other less important subjects at his blog A Goldfish Called Regret (agoldfishcalledregret.wordpress.com) and also creates podcasts for Goldfish Radio (https://m.mixcloud.com/robmorgan589).

He never achieved his ambition of making a Sarah Record.

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We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about Rob’s gig night. We would love to hear about your own gig experiences whether they are recent or in the past. Please contact us if you would like to contribute, via email indieover40@gmail.com or Twitter @IndieOver40

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Gig Night – Half Man Half Biscuit @ Sheffield Leadmill

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Getting Mark Whitworth contributing in some way to the website has been an objective of ours for a long time, such is the esteem in which he is held over here.

So we were chuffed to bits when an email from Mark appeared in our inbox offering to write a gig review for us. Naturally we welcomed this with open arms and was even more delighted with the choice of gig.

Mark’s Twitter moniker is @bringitonskippy and through our regular interactions we have learnt a lot about him. For instance we know he comes from the North, has strong opinions about the proper usage of “barm” to describe a roll, has a penchant for flowery shirts and plays bass in a band. We even know that he appeared in Blockbusters once (although he doesn’t like to talk about it).

Rather strangely what we have never discovered about Mark is why he is called “bringitonskippy” or why his profile pic is Mr Bump. To be fair we’ve never actually bothered to ask. Maybe one day he will tell us.

Anyway, this is what Mark has to say about his night with HMHB at The Leadmill.

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HALF MAN HALF BISCUIT, SHEFFIELD LEADMILL, 3 SEP 2015

“Not long now before lollipop men are called Darren”

A couple of weeks ago I offered to write a gig review for the Everything Indie Over 40 website. Should be pretty easy, I thought – a band and a venue I love, how hard can it be? Writing this a few days after the event, I now realise why I’m not a journalist. They make bringing a gig to life look easy, while I feel like I’m writing through treacle. But anyway…

John Peel once said of Half Man Half Biscuit “when I die, I want them to be buried with me”. Wise words from the great man, and a sentiment shared no doubt by many a die-hard HMHB fan.

In my experience, people seem to be acquainted with Birkenhead’s finest in one of two ways. They have either vaguely heard of the odd tune, maybe The Trumpton Riots or Joy Division Oven Gloves, and perhaps consider them something of a novelty act; or they know every single word of every single song the band have ever released and go to every single gig. The middle ground seemed to be very sparsely occupied.

I’m happy to admit to falling very close to the latter end of this continuum of devotion, although my gig attendance is mainly restricted to just the Yorkshire area and so I had been heartily awaiting HMHB’s return to Sheffield for some months. This year’s roughly annual Sheffield gig sees them continue their travels around the city’s venues since the closure of their regular haunt, The Boardwalk, by pitching up at the legendary Leadmill.

I arrive just as the easy-on-the-ear support duo Rita Payne are finishing their spot, and take a look around for the usual suspects in the crowd.

  • The redoubtable Roger, notepad in hand, who writes the reviews for www.hmhb.co.uk 
  • The King Of Hi-Vis, with his unmissable eponymous bright yellow tabard – OH MY GOD HE’S NOT HERE! Although it’s quite busy which limits my view somewhat. He can’t be far away surely
  • Numerous gentlemen of a certain age, sometimes balding, sometimes bespectacled, often both, who may or may not still live at home with their mums 
  • More people wearing Dukla Prague away kits than (probably) wear Dukla Prague away kits at Dukla Prague away games 

There is a larger female contingent than usual as well which is very pleasing to see. Hopefully the lads’ appeal is expanding, which is no bad thing at all.

They arrive just after 9pm – no pleasantries, no “HELLO SHEFFIELD!”, just straight into the first song, the marvellous The Light At The End Of The Tunnel. With a back catalogue stretching back 30 years, encompassing in the region of 200 songs according to my iPod (other MP3 players are available), and a guaranteed two full hours, you never know what set you are going to get, although you can be sure you will get your money’s worth.

Tonight is certainly no different as they rattle through 29 songs overall. Personally I was hoping to hear two or three more from the latest album, 2014’s splendid Urge For Offal, but I guess you can’t have everything, and Old Age Killed My Teenage Bride, The Bane Of Constance (“Iron Age mums are haunting my cagoule” – how does Nigel come up with these lyrics?!) and Stuck Up A Hornbeam (a song ostensibly about depression, set to the jauntiest tune imaginable) more than hit the spot in any case.

They continue with rare outings for songs such as Christian Rock Concert and 4AD3DCD interspersing live staples like Fuckin ‘Ell It’s Fred Titmus (chorus shouted back by the entire crowd, of course), All I Want For Christmas Is A Dukla Prague Away Kit, We Built This Village On A Trad. Arr. Tune, and the magnificent Vatican Broadside. If you listen to one HMHB song, make it this one (30 seconds long but beware the NSFW lyrics!)

The inter-song lulls are, as always, punctuated by the standard shouts of “What did God give us Neil?” and requests for various songs from the back catalogue. I’ve seen HMHB half a dozen or so times and never heard them play a song from the neglected Some Call It Godcore. However, tonight, a shout goes out for “anything from Godcore” and they duly launch into what seems to be a spontaneous version of Fear My Wraith, which delights the faithful.

Another novelty (for me at least) is witnessing Nigel forget the words to a song, in this case Rock And Roll Is Full Of Bad Wools. Thankfully, pretty much the entire crowd is on hand to fill in the blanks for him. Considering the depth of their back catalogue and the number of spoken word numbers it contains, I’m amazed this doesn’t happen much more often.

The main set comes to a close with National Shite Day (“there’s a man with a mullet going mad with a mallet in Millets”) and The Trumpton Riots, and the encore finishes on the stroke of 11pm with the regular closer Everything’s AOR.

We drift off into the Sheffield night fully satiated as always and already looking forward to the next local gig, whenever that may be.

Mark Whitworth

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We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about Mark’s gig night. We would love to hear about your own gig experiences whether they are recent or in the past. Please contact us if you would like to contribute, via email indieover40@gmail.com or Twitter @IndieOver40

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Gig Night – The Darling Buds @ Hebden Bridge Trades Club

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We were absolutely delighted when Graeme Lucas offered to share his night out at The Darling Buds gig with us. On Twitter we know him as @GLPNE73 and it didn’t take long for us to crack the code. Graeme Lucas supports Preston North End football club and was born in the year 1973. He has pretty much been a regular fixture in our community since the early days,  sharing tunes and keeping us up to date with his gig nights. We’ve learnt from this that Graeme is rather partial to Nine Black Alps, The Cribs and Toy among others.

Anyway, this is what Graeme has to say about his night with The Darling Buds (and what an enjoyable read it is)

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The Darling Buds @ Hebden Bridge Trades Club – Saturday 18th July 2015

Gig reviews always leave me with memories of my youth, which is, like most of us, many moons into the past. One in particular stands out…June 1993, I was about to sit my English Language A Level (resit) and had a problem. The night before the exam, a gig in Manchester had appeared on my radar. Now, as a Prestonian with no car, getting to Manchester Academy midweek usually meant a train, but somehow, on this occasion, another friend said they would drive. They had no exam the following morning, so no issues there for them. Trouble was, back then, I had no self control, no stop button, and therefore, the gig was on. The Lemonheads, supported by Eleventh Dream Day.

The night is a bit of a blur in all honesty, and I stumbled home at around 3am, and wasn’t exactly bright eyed and bushy tailed at 9am when the exam started. Nervously, hung over, I opened the booklet to see the choice of titles. One immediately caught my eye. It simply said, ‘Write a review of a theatre visit or classical concert you have recently attended’. Job done. In my eyes, the world ‘classical’ was open to interpretation. Why am I telling you this? It was the last gig review I ever wrote.

So onto Saturday and a bit of context. Hebden Bridge, unless you live north of Birmingham, is probably somewhere that sounds mysterious, quaint and quirky. In a way, it is. The small town of Hebden Bridge is halfway between the industrial mill towns of Burnley and Halifax, but deep enough into Yorkshire for me to be slightly paranoid about my Preston accent, despite Hebden Bridge having a reputation for being highly tolerant of alternative lifestyles. The night started with a pint in a pub served by an elderly lady so small, she struggled to reach the pumps. Top shelf challenge firmly off our agenda then!

At 8pm, we headed up to the venue, the brilliantly named ‘Trades Club’, a dark and imposing building typical of Yorkshire architecture. We walked in and up the stairs, disturbed by the silence. As we got to the top, a small bar on the right was being used by 5 or 6 people, a game of pool was ongoing but no other sign of life. A further door, into the events room was closed and we were told doors opened at 8-30, with the band on at 9-30. No support band had been found. Back into town, where my fears about the accent were confirmed, on a number of occasions, ‘Where are you from?’ was asked, closely followed by ‘Are you Burnley boys?’ Given that most people in this area support either Leeds or Burnley, my mate took a punt with the response ‘I am, but he’s a Preston fan’. Thanks mate…anyway, I somehow avoided a kicking and at 9pm we headed back to the Trades.

Hebden Bridge Trades Club

Hebden Bridge Trades Club

I’d love to say the place was rammed, but it wasn’t. In all honesty, a venue that probably holds 300 had around 60 diehards. The Darling Buds emerged at 9-30 on the dot, opening the set with the wonderful ‘Spin’, which got the crowd going quickly. Andrea threw flowers into the crowd, which were treasured by those lucky enough to catch. The set continued at a blistering pace, covering a range of tracks from all three albums. In between songs, the band engaged well with a passionate crowd, my particular highlight was someone shouting ‘you rock’, which Andrea misheard as ‘you’re crap’! The warmth from the crowd was notable, with pogoing and even the semblance of a moshpit at times. A Cribs gig it was not, but lively it was. The main part of the set ended, but the band themselves stayed longer, not bothering to go off and on again. The ‘encore’ they designed was not a disappointment. The live sound was edgier and harder than on record, which really worked.



‘You’ll know this one’ introduced Burst, which sent the small crowd wild, swiftly followed by Hit The Ground and they ended with Shame on You. The only shame of the evening was that there weren’t more people there to enjoy a cracking show. Andrea and the rest of the band seemed genuinely touched by the response of the crowd and I hope they had as good a night as we did. The crowd swiftly dissipated and we headed back across the Pennines to Rawtenstall.

My gig buddy had a surprise up his sleeve. Bizarrely named Artisan Cafe was our destination. ‘There’s a band on’ he told me, and as we pulled up, the opening chords of ‘Anarchy in the U.K.’ burst out of the bar. This bar was rammed, loads of 40+ people enjoying Riflemen of War, a local punk covers band. For the next hour or so, we were treated to a variety of punk classics. Stiff Little Fingers, Sham 69, Tenpole Tudor, The Clash and much much more. By the end of their set I’d had quite a few so I have no real recollection of how good they were, or how tight the sound was. I had a damn good time though. Next gig lined up for me involves a trip down south. Oxford. That is the south, right? Taking my son, who is 10, to see the mighty Polyphonic Spree. Who knows? I might write another review, making a total of 3 in my 42 years!

Poster "liberated' by Graeme

Poster “liberated’ by Graeme

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We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about Graeme’s gig night. We would love to hear about your own gig experiences whether they are recent or in the past. Please contact us if you would like to contribute, via email indieover40@gmail.com or Twitter @IndieOver40

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Gig Night – Ned’s Atomic Dustbin @ KOKO

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Steve from Everything Indie Over 40 went to see Ned’s Atomic Dustbin play at KOKO on Friday 17th July. Here’s what he had to say…

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After seeing Ned’s Atomic Dustbin at KOKO on Friday night, I decided on the bus home to write the first gig review for Everything Indie Over 40. Although gig reviews are very much in the “In Tray” I didn’t think EIO40 was mature enough yet  to undertake something this challenging. I’ve never done one before, wasn’t sure what went into writing one and was undecided if gig reviews even fitted into the ethos of EIO40.

I was particularly worried that gig reviews required an attention to detail that would distract from simply enjoying the moment. Would I need to make a mental (or written) note of the set list and the running order? Would I need to comment on each song? Would anyone be interested if i did? I would need to be alert throughout and I just wasn’t sure I was up to approaching a gig differently to what I was used to, which was simply as a fan.

But then it occurred to me on the bus home from the Ned’s gig that by it’s very nature EIO40 is platform for music fans and so if we do a gig review then it should be from a fans perspective. I also wanted to go a bit further than just a review of the bands performance. Let’s put the gig in context. Add some background. Write it more as a blog than a review.

Gigs don’t start the moment the first note is played in the venue. There is a build up. A bit of pre-gig excitement. Drinks in the pub before. First impressions. Maybe readers would be more interested in a gig review if it was presented personally. So this is what I have tried to do.

I should declare at this point that Ned’s Atomic Dustbin is probably my most seen band live and so a cracking night was pretty much guaranteed from the off. In fact, Neds not bothering to turn up would have been the only way I could see the gig not being anything other than superb. They have always delivered so why would tonight be any different?

Not only are Ned’s my “most seen” but I have pretty much seen them every single time with the same two friends. Today would be no different. The same elements would be in place in July 2015 at KOKO as they were back in December 1991 at Brixton Academy. However the difference being that I didn’t wake up that day in 1991 needing to complete lengthy legal forms for an imminent house purchase. I would have to park being an indie kid for first part of the day at least.

Once I’d dispensed with the grown up stuff it was time to concentrate on the usual gig-going traditions. Whilst we may not be able to down the pints as vigorously as we used to, we did meet early enough in the evening at a pub in the square mile to get a few “liveners” in before hand. Certain gig rituals must remain sacrosanct. The 10:30 curfew of that nights gig and the fact that we wanted to catch the James Atkin support slot, also provided a bit of justification for an early start in the pub.

I’ve never been to KOKO before and didn’t know an awful lot about it, apart from the fact I’d walked past it a few times. My mate warned me that it was a level floor venue so suggested a balcony spot if we weren’t that fussed about being among the crowd. Two out of the three of us are vertically challenged enough to consider the comfort option.

I was in two minds about watching the gig from the comfort of the balcony. I’d been in the seats at a couple of gigs recently. The Charlatans and Public Service Broadcasting. Both had been at The Roundhouse (another level floor venue) and whilst I’d quite enjoyed the comfort factor, there just seemed to be something missing up there. Also, this was Ned’s. A band I had never failed to mosh to, even as recently as September last year at IndieDaze. We decided to take a view when we got inside.

My first impressions of KOKO were pretty positive. It was an ornate and polished venue inside with a distinct lack of grottiness. It was also of a sufficiently small size to rule out a balcony spot straight off. It seemed unlikely that we would suffer any sort of restrictive view standing downstairs.

None of us was in a merchandise buying mood at that point so we headed straight for the bar where I was delighted to see that the standard gig-nectar Red Stripe was available. I’m not actually sure I like Red Stripe to be honest. You get sucked into a ritual at a young age and it is difficult to shake it off. Drinking Red Stripe is one such gig ritual followed religiously to this day. KOKO was pretty empty at that point so until James Atkin was due on we passed the time chatting and T Shirt spotting and watching the place slowly get busier.

I was keen on seeing James Atkin for a number of reasons. I’d always had a soft spot for EMF and had seem them a few times back in the days of Schubert Dip and Stigma. It used to grate me that liking EMF was viewed as some sort of guilty pleasure. Some people just couldn’t get past “Unbelievable”. Probably the same way that some people judged Boo Radleys simply by “Wake Up Boo!”.

As far as I’m concerned all three EMF albums stand up and in the case of the last one “Cha Cha Cha” may have provided my favourite EMF song in “Bleeding You Dry”. They always put on a cracking show and have certainly contributed to some great gig memories.

In fact I had the pleasure of having a quick chat with James at the end of the night and in my usual tonguetied-ness or just talking shit that creeps in when I meet anyone of note, I regaled James about the night we met the Nottingham Forest goalkeeper Mark Crossley at an EMF gig at the LA2 in 1995. You just never forget moments like that.

The other reason I was keen on seeing James perform was that our paths had crossed on Twitter a couple of times and he’d come across as a decent fellow. Plus I’d heard some songs from his recently released solo album (although I may not have given this impression when I spoke to James – sorry James. It was the Red Stripe, honest). Also, only 48 hours separates us in age with me being the older of the two. In the photo my mate took of us together we look like twins (as well as BFFs apparently).

Anyway, back to the gig. When James appeared on stage he was sporting a Gibson SG (I think), a Bjorn Borg style rim only tennis cap with green plastic visor and Stussy blazoned across his chest. He was joined by a lone female dressed in some sort of space age get-up and standing in front of a synth with “ACID” written on the front in masking tape. So, I was already transfixed and in the mood to be entertained.

Rather unexpectedly James kicked off the gig with Children from Schubert Dip, a song I’d know from anywhere considering it was played at my own wedding a few years before. So while James is strumming away over “long live the flesh” his colleague bops up and down like she’s partaken some of that stuff written on the front of her keyboards. All quite surreal really.

James Atkin

From memory James performed two other EMF songs, I Believe and Unbelievable (obvs) and naturally they had the crowd in a more responsive mood than the solo songs that came in between but that is without taking anything away from the new stuff which got a good reception. Although he wasn’t explicit about it, I got the impression from James during our little chat later that the inclusion of EMF songs was a conditional factor on his appearance (but I might be wrong).

Anyway, although KOKO was far from packed during James set there was enough of a crowd to create the right atmosphere and energy. All the songs performed were an enjoyable listen and the new stuff is worthy of investigation so I would recommend a head over to ITunes for a sample at least. It’s a lovely combination of electronica and James distinctive vocals, which works very well.

The end of James set provided another opportunity to get a round of Red Stripes in and enjoy the tunes being played over the speakers during the break. In the style of some sort of indie disco we were entertained with classics from Carter, Wonder Stuff, Power Of Dreams, Jesus Jones etc etc. I also discovered you no longer have to go to a Carter gig to witness a crowd chant “you fat bastard!”.

I’d consistently managed to work my way down to the front during Ned’s gigs and this was no exception. I’ve also never failed to receive a number of rabbit punches to the kidneys in the mosh pit or had a complete stranger grab me round the neck and give me a big cuddle during at least one of the songs. To an extent Ned’s delivered again on this customary experience although on this occasion it was delivered with a bit more comfort than usual.

We reckoned during the post-gig debrief on the tube after that KOKO was about 75% full. If that was the case then this may have explained why I seemed to be less battered and bruised than normal. The mosh pit was still there. People were still crowd surfing. There was the usual happy faces through it all which I’ve always thought was one of the best characteristics of a Ned’s mosh pit. No mindless bell-ends who would rather just steam into the crowd than actually enjoy the music, which I’ve experienced at other gigs.

Anyway, there seemed to be more personal space than usual and that meant that the people around you remained familiar faces. Not once did I find myself over the other side of the venue after a particularly violent bout of moshing and having new neighbours all of sudden. There was the usual sense of community spirit when there was a crowd surfer coming over the top. Everyone chipping in to get them to the front safely. I might even have heard a few “you OK up there?” Basically we were all having good time and with some of those elements that might have made it a bit uncomfortable in the past welcomingly absent.

Neds Crowd Surf

So what about the Neds then? I won’t bore you with a warts and all run through of the set list. They pretty much did what was expected. They kicked off with Suave and Suffocated and then proceeded to roll out the hits and customary favourites. Happy and Grey Cell Green probably had the crowd at their most energetic. Putting aside the fundamentals, I found myself hoping for personal faves to appear.I wasn’t disappointed with the inclusion of You Don’t Want To Do That and Legoland. By the same token I was disappointed with the absence of Throwing Things and some of the Bite stuff.

Singer Jonn spent the whole gig bouncing around in that trademark way he cuts shapes and with a boundless energy that you wish you could bottle and sell over the counter. Bass players Mat and Alex seemed to be a bit more subdued than previous performances I’d seen. Rat continues to emit an enigmatic and mysterious persona and is looking more like Mr Munro from the Ottoline books by Chris Riddle every time I see him (if you’ve got kids you might know what I’m on about) and as usual I seemed to gravitate towards Rat for reasons I can’t really explain. All my photos of Rat taken at Neds gigs seemed to be from exactly the same spot. He’s wearing the same clobber as well.

Rat

As this was a gig whose purpose was to commemorate 25 years since the release of Kill Your Television, naturally we had to wait until the encore for it’s appearance. KYTV is what it is and produced no surprises apart from demonstrating the crowd still had enough in the tank to go mental. Obviously Ned’s couldn’t send the crowd home on that note and a one song encore is unheard of. I was secretly hoping they would exit on Titch as they have done in the past, but being told to wake up and smell what we’ve been shovelling was a fitting end.

No one song defines a band and that goes for Ned’s Atomic Dustbin. This may have been all about Kill Your Television but by finishing with Selfish Ned’s knew what their fans really wanted….an excuse to perform. Well, that’s what I think.

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