Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Scar My Eyes, 28 Blunts later, The Projectionist and Zompok at Club-85 26/07/13

Ok, so I wasn't going to write another blog until after Cambridge Rock Festival 2013, wrong!
Such a momentous night of metal that the wonderful promoter Musikal Sin put on in Hitchin's very own Club-85 on Friday the 26th July really cannot go by unmarked.

Two of my daughters, seen below with most of Scar My Eyes before the gig, persuaded me that a good night out with some decent metal music was just what I needed  after what had been a really bad week during which I, along with many of my friends, had attended the funeral of well known and well loved local artist and all round great guy, Jon Falconer.

Trust daughters, they are usually (I will not say always) right!

Miz & Caz with 4 5ths of Scar My Eyes
So, the running order for the night was, Zompok, The Projectionist, Scar My Eyes and 28 Blunts Later.

What can I say about Zompok, well I'll leave the description up to the Club-85 event page, which ran as follows:-
Zompok - Horror-inspired, brooding metal with dashes of industrial. Imagine a sludgier White Zombie and you'll be getting warm. 
This night reduced to a two piece with drums and Paul on guitar and vocals it was amazing just what a sludgy doom laden sound they could and did produce, anyone familiar with any of Paul March's other / previous bands like Gilla Brujia will get the idea, anyway I enjoyed them, a good start.

Next up were Cambridge's, The Projectionist, if you like your Hardcore, Grind and intense metal you'll like these guys, they did a great job on the night but if I'm honest, which I tend to be, not my cup of tea but still check them out if this sort of music floats your boat.
Next up were the mighty, the wonderful, the amazing, Ok, ok, ok, I love these guys, Scar My Eyes playing a rare gig, they elected not to take the headline spot this night due to their lack of recent live performances despite absolutely storming the Melbourn Rock Club the week before!
It was obvious that they were well up for it this night, they blew the roof off Club-85 and drew by far the biggest crowd of the evening with a lot of original fans (Like my girls & I) there to witness a storming show.
Guitar Maestro Neil Prenty gives it some

Snarling Mark Lewis on vocal duty

SME in full flow with powerhouse Alex 'Bear' Chapman on drums
What's more, for this night only (Possibly because they've now shifted most of them) they were selling off their old EP at a mere 50p a go! 
I have to say that the new material is absolutely brilliant and the guys did say they were aiming to play a few more gigs than they have recently, let's hope so. if they do, I for one will be there if I can.

So, to the headliners, 28 Blunts Later, again I'll leave the description to Club-85's event page:-
Groove/stoner/death metal act who're making a name for themselves around Herts with their LOG-inspired riffs and tracks such as 'Mary's Basement'. Their debut EP can be downloaded for free from their Facebook page.
Do not be fooled by the young age of this band, they really deliver and with a maturity often missing from bands significantly older and more used to gigging such venues, all respect to them, I'm sure these guys will go a long way.
It was great to see so many people there at metal night and several from the other local metal bands like Nick and James from Aghast lending their support, all in all a very good night indeed and all for a mere £5 entry, this is why I love live music and why I continue to support the local music scene.

Now it's time to get ready for 4 days of music, beer and friends, or rather, friends, music & beer at Cambridge Rock Festival 2013 10th anniversary Festival which, by the line up, looks like it's going to be something very special indeed.
Until the next time, cheers m' dears.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

July 13th & 14th A Weekend of Epic Gigs

SATURDAY 13th July - Project 9 & Paradise 9 at Black Velvet

So the weekend before saw me in London at the Morpheus Rising, Touchstone and Panic Room gig and it was hot, hot, hot and this weekend I was back off to London again for Saturday night at Black Velvet, West Kensington for Nik Turner's Project 9 and Paradise 9's album launch party for the new CD 'Take me to the Future'.

What a splendid venue Black Velvet is, it's only been open as a music venue for a couple of months (Apparently it was originally opened as  a 'Gentlemen's Club but quickly lost its license!) so, brand spanking new, air conditioned, comfy seats, immaculate flat floor, beer at reasonable prices, what more could one wish for?

Nik Turner never ceases to amaze me, I seriously do not think that there is any style of music that he cannot play on the saxophone or flute!
Project 9 were a joy to behold and treated us to jazz, dance, rock, psychedelic rock, big band dance and the inevitable bit of old Hawkwind, it was a double treat that for 'Watching the Grass Grow' Nik got original Hawkwind drummer Terry Ollis up from the crowd for this one, and, the lovely Ms Angel dancing, wow!

Ms Angel & Nik Turner

Flute a go go

Nik Sings too

Sax in full swing

Go visit Nik's website to see just what this amazing man has to offer.

Well, that was just the support! The evening was for Paradise 9, if you've never heard this band I suggest you rectify that right now, if you like your Space Rock a little different then Paradise 9 are for you, tonight's launch of Take me to the Future didn't disappoint, in fact they are awesome live and they always look as if they are having so much fun.

Paradise 9 in full swing

Paradise 9 & Ms Angel

Paradise 9

Amazing sounds amazing costumes

My fave picture I took of Ms Angel

It was a superb night all round and a shame I had to dash off just before the end but Kensington is a fair way from Kings Cross and there was no way I was going to miss my train back to Stevenage because apart from looking forward to a splendid Sunday with my family there was Sunday night to look forward too as well and this one had all the hallmarks of being one of the gigs of the year so far, and it was!

SUNDAY 14th July 2013 - The Astronauts, Blyth Power & Scum of Toytown at Club-85

Sadly due to the loss of the venue, the huge and beautiful grounds of the Priory at Hitchin (Due to ownership change & other factors) there was no Rhythms of the World festival this year however .that has not stopped the Rhythms team from putting on a huge range of events and gigs throughout the year and this weekend was no exception, the Sunday night was the culmination of a weekend of music and activities on what would have been the festival weekend and trust Chris Ripple's Arcade Eclectic Stage to come up trumps with a three band line up that most promoters wouldn't even dare to consider never mind pull off in such a spectacular style.

What's more it was for us, a Fellowship event, the first time more than two of us had been together to a gig for weeks due to inconsiderate people doing things like taking an annual holiday or going away on company business, etc. simply unforgivable!

The evening started very well indeed in the Nightingale in Hitchin enjoying some fine real ale and meeting up with fellow gig goers before going off to Club-85, North Hertfordshire's Premier dedicated music venue run by the amazing Bob Marden and his team.

The Astronauts were on first, Mark Astronaut is himself a legend, his ability to write lyrics that remain relevant for years if not for ever is quite incredible, the band may have changed over the years (Just check out who has been part of the Astronauts in the past), punky, political, satirical, acerbic, always entertaining, they turned in a fabulous performance.

The Astronauts

And with their backdrop

Next up were the as legendary Blyth Power, what can I say about this band, quirky, epic, folk-punk, Joseph's amazing song writing and singing from behind the drum kit just has to be seen to be believed and it was then that the mosh pit really got going!

Joseph at full tilt

And the moshing starts

Everyone was bouncing!

Blyth Power are launching a 'Kickstarter' project in August for their new album, Women and Horses, Power and War, please support this great band.

Last on the bill were the ever popular and always amazing Scum of Toytown, old favourites of the late John Peel, reformed a mere couple of years ago for a special one off Rhythms of the World gig they have gone from strength to strength, this is Ska, Ska-Punk at it's glorious best, we were treated to a lot of old Scum of Toytown classics and the later material too which is every bit as good, fresh from their gigs in Europe and London they were so up for the gig they had everyone bouncing (See above).

Scum of Toytown in full swing

Dreads a flying

They crowd loved it as much as I did

The legendary Jon Thurlow

I urge you to check out all the bands in this blog via the links to their own websites, and Rhythms of the World which I'm sure will be back next year as big and perhaps better than ever and of course Club-85 where so many fantastic local, national and international artists have and hopefully will continue to play as long as you, you the punter, and me, get out there and support live music.

I did mention that the Sunday night was a Fellowship of the Stick outing, well it was and a logo was born!

We now have a corporate logo!
As it was a Fellowship occasion it had to be marked by a poem so here goes:-

Sunday 14th July – The Astronauts, Blyth Power, Scum of Toytown

It was so, so hot, oh my oh my
On Sunday the 14th of July
It was Rhythms of the World weekend
The company of fine music time to spend
Although sad to say but we did hear
There would be no full festival this year
But 2013 itself has been and will be
Filled with Rhythms events for all to see
And ‘Rhythm’s weekend’ was no exception
With Sunday night exceeding all expectations!

The night started well as good nights often do
In the Nightingale with a damn fine ale or two
Myself, Peter and Chris, with Cindy and Colin
Soon off to Club-85 we were a strolling

The Astronauts kick started the evening
A full band line up and they were reeling
Mark’s lyrical acerbic social observations
And political insights and incantations
Are somehow timeless, always relevant
And so it came and so it went
All in all an excellent opening
To a great three band evening

Next up were the mighty Blyth Power
And they have an amazing repertoire
Spanning so many years and so many releases
Their power ‘Folk Punk’ still really pleases
And they were on tip top form this night
The mosh pit soon filled up all right
People bouncing, people jigging
In two words, simply amazing!

Last on the bill were Scum of Toytown
And this night they really laid it down
They were so fired up for this gig of gigs
And they delivered, loud, sublime, big!
Lyrical political Ska-Punk filled the air
And we were there

The mosh pit just grew and grew
And suddenly all at once you knew
That this was one of the gigs of the year so far
The Arcade Eclectic had just ‘raised the bar’
So all I can say is well done Chris Ripple & all
You can stand with heads high, proud mighty and tall
Who else would dare do three headliners in a night
It worked out well, in fact it worked out just right
I’d go so far to even shout
THIS is what Rhythms IS all about.

Grant Meaby

July 2013

So there we have it, a splendid weekend and a new blog and probably the last one before Cambridge Rock Festival 2013 in August, so good people have a splendid summer, until next time, cool runnings one and all.

All images (with the exception of the ROTW poster) and the poem are Copyright Grant Meaby 2013 - All rights reserved.

Monday, 8 July 2013


Saturday 6th July, the hottest day of year so far, London, Highbury & Islington, the Garage and a three band line up that promised to be one of the gigs of the year and it didn't disappoint and with the added bonus of The House of Progression's Jon Patrick spinning the sounds before and between the bands, what could be better.

After a splendid afternoon in The Famous Cock (That's the pub next door to the tube station and just over the road from the Garage) in the company of a few stalwart fellow prog fans and regular Celebr8 / CRF goers six o'clock came round all too quickly!

I like the Garage as a venue, apart from the slightly raised area up by the bar it's a flat floor venue but with a stage high enough for a good view from just about anywhere in the room, not that it really mattered on this night, a very good crowd but sadly not packing the place to the limits which should have been the case for a gig of this magnitude but it did mean there was plenty of space and easy access to the front of the stage for anyone who wanted to 'get down the front'.

And there, in his little cubby hole, playing some awesome sounds was the amazing Mr. Prog himself, Jon Patrick.

Jon hard at work

First up were those lads from 'Up North', Morpheus Rising, I first came across these guys at Cambridge Rock Festival a couple of years back and was very impressed then, now, they're even better!

Morpheus Rising - The Lords of the North
M.R. were on cracking form, they treated us to a hefty chunk of the current album with a teaser of the new material from the the forthcoming album, the Maidenesque vocals of Simon Wright and twin lead guitars of Pete Harwood and Damien Sweeting and absolute delight to this old rockers ears, excellent job on the sticks too by Henry Rogers (Touchstone) M.R. Having recently parted company with their previous drummer 'Gibbo'.

The Mighty Morpheus Rising
Although they only had the shortest of sets on the night they more than filled their space and won a lot of new fans, well done lads, a great performance.

Next up were the eagerly awaited Touchstone, fresh from the studio recording their new album, but tonight was to be a night of classics and old favourites, mainly drawn from The City Sleeps and Winter Coast but that's more than OK by me and more than OK by the crowd by all accounts!

Touchstone on stage
Moo called Henry a 'Drum tart' referring to his previous duty with Morpheus Rising, a very different style of drumming than required for Touchstones' amazing intricate and at times anthemic melodic rock, they were on fire and although most of the crow were baying for a new song from the forthcoming album it seems we have to wait, they'll be touring it in the autumn no doubt so we won't have to wait that long.

The lovely Kim Seviour of Touchstone
Kim also revealed the secret of her car breakdown when she first set off for London but that's for those who were there! I was also extremely pleased that she made the above photograph her profile picture on Facebook.
Talking of photographs and Facebook, there were some very amusing 'strings' about the backs of peoples heads and a lack of hair at a lot of prog gigs today, regular gig goers can play spot the bald spot if you like.
Seriously though, great to be there with Roger Marsh and Graham Harris, Paul Hanlon & Co.

And then, Panic Room, still as part of the 'Skin' tour, which I was privileged enough to have seen the start of the tour at The Borderline, wow! Were they on form or what, a splendid set, Skin is a truly great album but live it's even better and the whole band were so up for it and this is here we come to the second of the musicians to play twice that night, the multi talented Pete Harwood on guitar duty for Panic Room.

Pete Harwood this time on Panic duty

Anyone who knows Panic Room will know just how good Anne Marie Helder is, we saw her playing her solo support set for Steve Hackett at Hammersmith just before Celebr8.2, she was amazing.

Panic Room

Anne Marie in full flow

Skin aside, one highlight was an acoustic jazzy version of ELP's Bitches Crystal, absolute class, as was the whole evening.
Sadly 10:30 came around all too soon, but we did have an early start (Some of us earlier than others!) and at least it gave those of us who had travelled some distance to get to London a good chance to get back home again,

So to round off, huge thanks to Jon Patrick once more for making such amazing nights possible, to Morpheus Rising, Touchstone and Panic Room for such a great gig and to my friends and fellow proggers for being such good company.

No poetic ramblings this time, this was a me, me, me event as the other members of the Fellowship were  somewhat otherwise engaged with holidays and raft races and award ceremonies etc. Oh well, soon be CRF!

Cheers all, until the next time.

Grant Meaby - July 2013

Tuesday, 2 July 2013


Now that the dust has settled after the frantic arrangements and activities surrounding the successful Parnassus Performance show 'Pencil Din' for the Stevenage Festival I can finally get around to writing up a previous event!

After various Facebook postings and mentions elsewhere a lot of people have asked me "Just what is flour packing?", quite simply it's what it says on the tin, 'Flour Packing' but why and what is it really all about?

How are traditions made, evolved, generated? Custom and practise? Historical precedent? Just because? Who really knows, anyway, in the deepest darkest reaches of Bedfordshire, nestled in the valley of the River Ivel lies the sleepy, or perhaps not so sleepy, village of Langford and it has become traditional for Langford to host an annual raft race along the Ivel to raise money for local charities / youth groups etc. It is also the custom for spectators to this wonderful event to pelt the rafters with bags of flour as the video link below I'm sure adequately reveals:-

The Langford Raft Race

Thanks to Martin Allen who posted the above on Youtube.

So, every year one of the local flour mills donates  ton , yes a ton, of flour which comes nicely packed in large flour sacks, all of which has to be decanted and packed into small biodegradable paper bags, a.k.a. 'Flour Bombs' that can be sold for a small price for the hurling of!

Flour packing itself has evolved into quite an event in its own right, hosted by the wonderful Blackett family, a gazebo and benches are laid out along with large plastic buckets, small plastic cups, 100's of little brown paper bags and then lots of willing hands turn up to pack the flour,. willing that is to put in a good couple of hours hard slog and get covered head to foot with flour in the process! All the bags get packed into tomato / fruit boxes and stacked up ready for raft day.

Of course once done everything has to be packed up and cleaned up and, as a reward, an amazing BBQ with lashings of nice things to eat and drink is laid on.

Mr. B hard at work.

This years BBQ had a special paella featuring some local produce and very nice it was too, and in fairly typical English summer style the weather decided to play a few tricks on us!

The Fellowship of the Stick were there in force lending a hand and helping to reduce the beer supplies and reeling from the shock of Fender Bear being bear-napped! luckily he was returned safe and well the next day.

It just so happened that the night following flour packing was indeed the very night that Minor Pilot were playing a full headline set at Club-85 in Hitchin (See below for a link to Club-85, North Herts finest independent music venue).

Club-85 in Hitchin

Now, as some of my regular readers will know, Minor Pilot are one of my favourite bands, Chris F's too, and, as it had recently been Chris's birthday it was decided that his Fellowship present this year would be to go the Minor Pilot gig, all expenses paid (Within reason) and it was my job to accompany him and make sure it was all sorted, well, we did, it was awesome, as someone described it, "Like tripping without acid" I would rather describe it as "All those amazing Pink Floyd instrumental bits rolled into one (or several) pieces of music", what made it so good this time was the added lighting and video backdrop which really completed the show.

The awesome Minor Pilot in action

Flour Packing The Pilot

My own adventure started by bus and by train
Avoiding the rain
Peter picked me up at Arlesey on time for a change!
I met Ella, having fun throwing a soggy chewed ball
She chased around the garden, house & all
Until we were ready to set off to Langford
All the gang were there
Flour, flour everywhere
On our clothes and in our hair
But more importantly
A ton of flour packed away
In neat little bags
All boxed in the garage
Ready in place
For the Langford Raft Race
It was time for the BBQ to begin
Getting wet outside and in
As the rain poured down
We stood around
Under the gazebo
A typical English thing to do
On a typically English summer afternoon
There was paella with local produce
Crayfish from the river
Quite fitting given the occasion
Kevin played ‘Finger Bobs’ with the shells
(We have photographic evidence as well)
Fender Bear was there
For a while anyway
The kidnap attempt by Jo was twice foiled
Once by Kevin and once by Melissa Coyles
But on the third attempt
Fender disappeared
Strangely, when Jo went
Nat that I’m counting
But that’s two years running!
All in all a splendid afternoon
And like all good things
Over all too soon
But Chris and I were off to Hitchin
For Chris’s birthday treat from the Fellowship
A few beers, chicken and chips
And Minor Pilot at Club-85
A 90 minute headline set
The best yet
What a day
What a night
Flour Packing the Pilot
Turned out alright!

Grant Meaby

Well, I guess that sort of sums it all up really, a really great day all round, thanks to all involved for making both the Flour packing and the Minor Pilot gig such wonderful events.

Until the next time, cool runnings one and all.