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Thursday, 14 June 2018

THE GIFT, KAPREKAR'S CONSTANT & UNREAL CITY - LONDON

So, Saturday the 9th of June saw Chris and I braving the continuing disruption of the train services and heading for London on a fine sunny afternoon.
We were lucky, the train we had planned to take was actually running and what's more it was actually on time!

Here comes the man with the beer!
Changing for the tube at Finsbury Park we headed for Euston to spend a couple of hours enjoying some splendid craft beers at The Euston Tap before heading off to Tufnell Park to The Boston Music Room for, what turned out to be, an excellent three band gig.



Italy's Unreal City were a real treat, heavily keyboard led numbers (Just how influenced by the late great Keith Emmerson is anyone's guess), excellent musicianship all round with good strong vocals, albeit in Italian but what the heck, the music was terrific as is the band's current album 'Frammenti Noturni'.

Unreal City
Next up were Kaprekar's Constant featuring David Jackson (Van Der Graff Generator etc.) on Sax, saxes, flute and whistle, KC were quite simple exquisite, quintessentially English mixing prog, rock, folk and other influences, simply stunning and I'll be somewhat controversial here by saying "Watch out Big Big Train you've got company and it's very very good".

Kaprekar's Constant
For fans of The Gift they really need no introduction but, fronted by the inimitable Mike Morton, the band were on fire this night, a fabulous headline slot that rocked the roof off the place, three great bands for less that £15, what's not to like!

The Gift



A Gift of a Saturday in June

It was another Saturday, a Saturday in June
a special trip to the big city, it couldn't come around too soon
and there indeed we were despite the chaos on the trains
remarkably ours turned up on time so we were London bound again

This time it was just the two of us, yes just Chris and I
so we made our way to the Euston Tap to drink and watch the world go by
there were lads dressed as lasses, a New Romantic too
vagrants, toffs & tourists, all went passing through
girls wearing next to nothing in the hot summer sun
it was busy bustling noisy but lots and lots of fun

The afternoon passed so quickly as these days so often do
so we hightailed it off to Tufnell Park to catch a band or two
well actually it was three!

Our own Roger Marsh was also there as a chaperon to the bands
he introduced us to Camilla from Unreal City
which was really rather grand
and whilst waiting in the queue outside
a security van beeped at us and the driver waved our way
it was none other than the lovely Alice Woods
that really made our day!

Unreal City from Italy were very good indeed
Kaprekar's Constant were outstanding, what else could we need?
Why only Mike Morton & The Gift who were so on fire that night
three different bands and all amazing, well that turned out just right

We even managed to get a train home!

GM
June 2018

So, it's goodbye (For now) from me, and it's goodbye from them:-

The triumphant end of a gift of a gig!


Wednesday, 6 June 2018

ROBIN BIBI AT THE RED LION

It's a sad fact that Robin Bibi may not be a 'household name' and not too much known outside the blues / blues rock circuit but he is one of the best blues rock guitarists around and his excellent band are one of the tightest rhythm sections I've seen for many a day and they deserve to be much better known.
Robin, a regular at The Great British Rock and Blues Festival in Skegness and other well known festivals also, thankfully, still plays the smaller venues and pub circuit so, it was a real treat to see Robin and the band playing the Sunday night 'Blues at the Red' session.
Playing two sets during the evening Robin and the band treated us to many songs from his extensive back catalogue as well as songs from his most recent / current album 'No More a Secret'.

The Blues in black and white!

Robin Bibi & the band in full swing
So, if blues / blues-rock is your kind of thing then you really should give Robin Bibi a listen!

http://robinbibiband.co.uk/

What's more, despite erroneous rumours, Blues at the Red on a Sunday night is very very very much alive and a brand new web site is currently under construction and will be found here:-

https://tandooriblues.com/

No musing this time as The Fellowship were otherwise engaged and it was just me out for once on my own meeting up with a couple of other old friends at the Red for a night of the most excellent Blues-Rock.

Cheers for now, see you down the front sometime.

GM June 2018

Monday, 21 May 2018

THE FIERCE AND THE DEAD - THE EUPHORIC ALBUM LAUNCH

So there we were in Camden, enjoying a few excellent pre-gig ales in the Brewdog Camden Pub on the evening of Friday 18th May before hightailing it up to the market to grab some tasty take-away and then back to The Black Heart where The Fierce And The Dead were officially launching the new studio album, The Euphoric.

TFATD were ably supported by artist Mark Buckingham making his first live excursion into music which was indeed a very pleasant experience, Mark, a well known, award winning and well respected comic book artist also does the excellent artwork for the band's album covers etc.

The gig at The Black Heart was sold out, we were all tightly packed into the dark and hot upstairs venue and the audience was primarily friends and families of the band and long time fans who have supported TFATD throughout and included a who's who of the London (& surrounding area) prog notables!



Despite being one of those long time supporters of the band I would say that for me The Euphoric is TFATD's most accessible work to date and as recent reviews, album sales and 'The general Buzz' suggests, it crosses genres so well that appeals to prog, prog-metal & metal fans alike as well as lovers of modern guitar led instrumental music.
The Euphoric is what I'd call a 'mature' album, it really rocks along sometimes upbeat, sometimes dark and brooding, I wouldn't be at all surprised if some bright film maker 'picked up' on The Euphoric to use as the score for some dark and twisted Sci-Fi tale where robots do indeed dance!


OMG it's those Corona shirts again! The Fellowship gather to enjoy a few tasty Brewdog beers.

Mark Buckingham

TFATD hit the stage in full throttle!
All in all it was an excellent evening with TFATD playing something like an 80 minute set so we not only got The Euphoric but lots more beside, Matt, Kev, Stu & Steve did us proud!


The Fierce And The Dead
(EUPHORIC Album Launch 18 05 19)

The Camden Brewdog was absolutely heaving
for some I guess this was the highlight of the evening
but not for me
although I did enjoy it Immensely
a gathering of Corona shirts galore
but no Tim and Jo
they'd forgotten that we had tickets for them
ahem, poor them!

There was Chris, Kevin, Hazel, Peter, Alex, Roger and I
enjoying the atmosphere and the Brewdog ales
until around seven thirty when hunger prevailed
and we took ourselves off to Camden market
no longer the place it used to be
too many empty stalls and boarded up shops
where is the place of old where life never stopped?

Still we managed to find some reasonable food
and a few free samples which of course was also good
and then it was off to The Black Heart
in time for the evening's proceedings to start
Mark Buckingham singing his very first gig
among the prog fraternity he'll surely make it big

The venue was small and dark and exceedingly hot
more the place for a teenage rave or not
for tonight the place was full of middle aged proggers
and metal heads and artists and lifelong rockers
for the launch of the new TFATD CD
The Euphoric, well, it certainly did it for me!

Home once again by tube and by train
I just can't wait until we do it again.

GM May 2018 



Tuesday, 15 May 2018

TRINITY - T3 FESTIVAL & A BIT BEFORE!

OK, here we are, one of my now seemingly rare blogs, there is of course a good reason for this state of affairs but none I'll go into detail about here, suffice to say that due to a change in personal circumstances I don't often get the chance to slip off to so many gigs and festivals as I have done in the past.

A few people have asked why I didn't 'blog' the recent Baldock Beer Festival and it's amazing weekend of music, quite simply I only managed to slip out for a couple of hours on the Sunday afternoon.(Due to the kindness and generosity of a dear friend and fellow Fellowship comrade).

I did however catch most of the set from the lovely 'Said The Maiden' & the whole of the 'Joans, G & Plews' set, the latter being a 'Supergroup' consisting of  Shelley & Laura from JoanOvArc, G La Roche & Nick Plews and crikey did they rock!

Said the Maiden
The Joans, G & Plews
 So, Trinity T3 Festival, Islington, London, Saturday 12th May 2018, was it worth waiting for?
You bet it was, the third in these occasional charity prog festivals (The previous two having been held in Leamington Spa), with six great cats, charity auctions and raffles, a mass meeting of the progaratzi, so many friends gathered together in one place, it was like a massive family reunion, the atmosphere was absolutely magic, the music excellent throughout.

Sadly due to illness within the band, Tin Spirits had to pull out, however, last minute replacements Jennifer Rothery & Ricardo Romano kicked off the afternoon and beguiled us with their beautiful music.

Jennifer Rothery & Ricardo Romano
Next to entertain us were the wonderful Last Flight to Pluto, what an amazingly refreshingly different band this lot are, prog, yes of course but the range of influences and mix of genres they work into their songs is remarkable, crazy at times but it works, they blew many of us away.

Last Flight to Pluto
Completing the afternoon's line up were the brilliant 'Ghost Community' who, despite very last minute line up changes managed to pull a very memorable gig out of the bag, I love this band.

Ghost Community
So between the afternoon and evening sessions we all had to vacate the venue which was a good opportunity to shoot out for some lunch and a pint or two including a visit to the famous 'Hope and Anchor' where we met Kavus for a chat.

The evening session began with 'Touchstone' who had a very special guest on  lead vocal duties, Hayley Griffifths (Ex Karnataka) and wow, what a job she did, one of the best sets I have ever seen Touchstone deliver and I've been a fan for years through the past few incarnations of the band!

Touchstone
Next up were Knifeworld, now I know for many people Knifeworld are a 'marmite' band, you either love 'em or hate 'em, I happen to love them and as it happened they treated us to an absolutely brilliant set which I must say was probably one of the most accessible sets I've ever had the pleasure of seeing them play, spot on Kavus & the team.

Add caption
Completing the proceedings was the legendary Steve Rothery band playing the whole of 'Clutching at Straws' (& more), I like many others had virtually no voice left after singing along to this stunning set, a masterpiece and what's more, through the raffles, auctions and donations etc. a very substantial amount of money was raised for Cancer charities, what a festival, what a day!


Trinity T3 Islington 12/05/18

It had been a long, a long time coming
the Fellowship four on a train to London
Finsbury Park to Highbury and Islington
a few beers and brunch in The White Swan
and then a short stroll down the road in the rain
to the Islington Assembly Hall once again
for an afternoon and evening of prog and friends
it had been such a long time coming
but we got there in the end.

OK the beer in the venue was expensive
but it was a half decent craft beer, what the heck
we were there to enjoy ourselves
and enjoy ourselves we did, just get it down your neck
and the music was sublime
we had Jennifer Rothery & Ricardo Romano
and the jaw dropping magnificence of Last Flight to Pluto
the afternoon session was completed wonderfully
by the awesome band Ghost Community
before Peter, Chris and I hightailed it back to 'spoons'
for an evening meal, so it was just Eddie & the three of us
who had a pint in the Hope and Anchor with Kavus 
as Kevin had made his escape far and wide across the city
to see dogs choosing brews for Brew Dog
but he was back in time for the evening
we were sitting pretty.

There were so many friends there it was just so good to see
oh yes this was a very, very special event Trinity, T3
Touchstone kicked off the evening in a remarkable way
with Hayley Griffiths on vocals, "Wow" is all I can say!
Knifeworld were simply stunning, sublime
and the Steve Rothery Band playing 'Clutching at Staws'
it was all so fine
what more could you want, really, what more?
but there was still some final fun in store!
What a day, it couldn't have been any better
and we even caught a bus back to Finsbury Park for the train
and had such a short wait, I just wish we could do it all again
and soon!

Grant M
May 2018

Many of you who were there may have seen us wearing the purple Cambridge Rock Festival Ambassador's T shirts and handing out the odd flyer here and there, CRF is a fantastic festival and has a significant Prog element (Along with a host of other fantastic music), if you want to find out more please head on over to the CRF website where you will find everything you need to know.

Handing out a flyer or two
Cambridge Rock Festival Website:-

That's all for now folks, may the bear be with you.



Saturday, 7 April 2018

JUKEBOX VANDALS & POINTS AT THE RED LION

Thursday nights live original music at The Red Lion in Stevenage now seem to be back on course as the wheels turn under the promotion of  London Road Studious, (London Road Live).
This night saw the return to the scene of the extremely popular local outfit Jukebox Vandals (From which such amazing bands as Highwire Brigade etc. have emerged) supported by the increasingly popular and very excellent Points.

Rarely have we seen such a crowd at The Red especially on a Thursday night, the place was, quite rightly so, absolutely packed for what turned out to be an extremely splendid gig, that coupled with the LED lights and smoke did however make it very difficult to get any good shots of the bands!

Points are an alternative/indie band with a dark mathy edge from Hertfordshire

Rob Sanderson - Bass & Vocals
Martin Fairey - Drums
Dean O'Dwyer - Guitar
Jon Myers - Guitar

Rob has an extremely rich and powerful voice which goes so well with the music they play making them so distinctive and quite frankly, so good, with a new EP soon in the offing Points are indeed a band to watch out for.



Points
https://www.facebook.com/pointsband/

A few years ago the Jukebox Vandals were on the verge or great things and I must say they were one of the local scenes most popular bands with an extremely loyal and significant following, it would seem the time is just right for their return, and they certainly didn't disappoint.

From Walkern & Stevenage Jukebox Vandals are:-

Mark Hollis - Vocals/Guitar
Kieran James - Guitar/Vocals
Paul Ingram-Tedd - Lead Guitar
Ed Stafford - Drums
Andrew Lavansch - Bass



Jukebox Vandals
https://www.facebook.com/jukeboxvandals/

All in all it was a mighty fine gig and now with the Red Lion offering a 10% discount on draft ales for CAMRA members it was even better!

Vandals Point to the Red

Thursday night at the Red Lion
and the punters had packed out the joint
it was as much as we could all handle
as to what end? What was the point?
To see the reformed band Jukebox Vandals
play a long overdue comeback gig
supported by that marvelous band called Points
both deserve to make it so big
and no one was left disappointed
except perhaps at the end
for time came around all too soon
for a gig we wished had no end.

GM
April 2018

Until the next time, which might be some time, so in the meantime, keep enjoying and supporting your local live music scene.

Thursday, 5 April 2018

HAWKEASTER 2018 - MORECAMBE BAY

Wow, our first Hawkeaster and this time up in Morecambe Bay where the tide goes out and out and the sands seem to go on forever!
Travelling up on Good Friday morning seemed like a great idea at the time but alas, it seemed that thousands of people had decided to head north and the M6 was like a giant slow moving car park from not far north of the Birmingham M6 Toll, never mind, we got there in time to check into the hotel and make our way down into town to the Alhambra, the venue for the weekend's festivities.
Morecambe Sands

The Alhambra

I must say that Hawkeaster was one of the best festivals I have ever been to, such a friendly atmosphere, an eclectic mix of music (By no means all space rock), exceptionally good value food at the venue and with pints, including some splendid real ale at only £3 a pint!
It may not have been a full Fellowship event but Chris and I did fly the old Corona shirts and talk to a few people about Cambridge Rock Festival while we were there!



HAWKEASTER 2018

What seemed like an eternal drive
eventually saw us arrive
safe and sound at Morecambe Bay
where the sands stretch away
for miles
booking into the hotel was easy
we quickly unpacked and trekked
down along the seafront to The Alhambra
the venue for this years Hawkeaster
what a splendid old venue
so glad it has been rescued
from a fate worse than anything
it could have been
yet more expensive seaside flats
fancy that
Hawkeaster being the icing on the cake
that saved this impressive building
from such a fate!

A performance of Robert Calvert's 'The Box'
The opening evening couldn't have been better
we had Robert Calvert Plays then the Blackheart Orchestra
an amazing set from Tim Blake
joined by Steve Hillage, Dave Brock and Richard Chadwick
"Gong with the Wind" absolutely great
and the evening rounded off with some performance poetry
all sounded pretty damn good to me.

The Blackheart Orchestra

Tim Blake

Steve Hillage

Dave Brock
The next day Chris and I discovered 'Bay Butties'
an absolutely splendid little cafe
and the owner welcomed those from Hawkeaster
it sort of became our own off site eater!

It had to be done!

Flying the flag in Bay Butties

So Saturday opened with Hawkwind family & friends
followed by The Fierce and the Dead
of whom it must be said
played an awesome set
one of their best yet
and then came Evil Blizzard, Son of Man
and the wonderful System 7
we were in musical heaven
Ginger Wildheart was good
as was the remarkably good value food
and real ale at only £3 a pint
could it get any better?

Yes,  just wait & see!

Hawkwind & Friends

The Fierce and the Dead

Evil Blizzard

Son of Man

System 7

Ginger Wildheart
The evening climaxed with a stunning set
from the mighty Hawkwind
a fitting end
to another great day.

The Captain, Dave Brock

Mr. Dibs

Dave Brock
Sunday morning saw us again sampling the fine coffees
down at 'Bay Butties'
before Crumbling Ghost, Erin Bennett and Tantarism
followed by some baffling magic from Paul Zenon
the costumes of Screeech Rock had to be seen to be believed
before Prime Sinister
there was children's prize-giving
and a charity auction
so much to see and to do
Hawkeaster was just so much more than just your average festival

Crumbling Ghost

Erin Bennett

Tarantism

Paul Zenon

Screeech Rock

Prime Sinister
Following the break The Membranes rocked the roof off the place
and finally Hawkwind took to the stage for the last time this weekend
to bring everything to a sonic climax, bringing Hawkeaster to a fitting end.

The Membranes

The mighty mighty Hawkwind
So, that was it, an utterly splendid festival and one I have at last had the privilege to attend, thank you to everyone involved in the organisation and running of the event and to each and every one of the artists who performed for us, it was quite literally, out of this world.


GM
April 2018