Sunday, 22 December 2013


Well now, it is that time of year, Christmas parties, office parties, a plethora of Christmas dinners and fayre (Or perhaps not!) and of course, the annual, by now somewhat of a tradition, the IQ Christmas party gig and the Fellowship of the Stick are no strangers to this particular event!

Why 'Off to a Sloe start'? All will be revealed later, but for now;

It never ceases to amaze nor humble me, the number of you who read this blog, whom I have had the privilege to meet at gigs and festivals, I know some of you seem to like my quirky poems while others prefer a more serious 'Review' of the gig or band, striking a happy medium is not always easy and, as I may have mentioned before, I am a music fan, I like what I like, I tend to leave serious reviews and critiques to those professional writers and reviewers who are perhaps better qualified to expound forth on such matters even if I / we may not always agree with what they have to say!

Anyway, from my own perspective, the IQ Christmas gig and all that preceded it added up to what can only be described as one of the 'Events' of the year!

IQ are a progressive band who have been around since the early 80's, founded by Mike Holmes and Martin Orford following the dissolution of their original band, The Lens.
Although never having found that elusive major commercial success and despite several line up changes, IQ have built up a loyal fan base over the years and are still making exceptionally good music today as the sell out gig at the O2 Academy testifies.

IQ are always 'Up for' their Christmas party gig and tonight was no exception, they were absolutely spot on and gave us a fine selection from their extensive back catalogue + a couple of new songs from the forthcoming album to e released in the new year.

I have checked a couple of sites listing the set they played, don't ask me to take notes or anything like that, so it was probably something like this:-

Main Set
No Love Lost 
Ryker Skies 
Without Walls  (A new one)
Widow's Peak 
It All Stops Here 
El Bastardo  (Another new one)
Leap of Faith 
The Seventh House 

For Christ's Sake 
'God Rest You Merry, … more)
Cum On Feel the Noize
Human Nature 

2nd Encore

IQ in full swing
OK so that's the serious gig review bit done, here's what happened throughout the day, enjoy.

Off to a Sloe Start

Christmas is that time of year
A time of camaraderie, Fellowship and good cheer
There are so many things to see and so many things to do
Some traditional, others perhaps somewhat new 
And one of those must be done events my hearty
Is the Fellowship London trip to the IQ Christmas party

On the tube
It was the usual thing as ever once again
The successful meeting on the train
The navigation of the underground
Until the four of us could be found
At The Earl of Essex with its board of many brews
We could have stayed but there were other things to do

The famous Beer Board
A short walk in the rain brought us to The Island Queen
Now the ‘Earl’ and the ‘Island’ were places we’d previously been
But quite a long while ago on our London craft beer tour
A swift pint, a few fun pictures and  we were moving on once more
We sauntered around the corner to The Prince of Wales
With the lovely cockney landlady and the laughing Policeman’s tales

Silly, us? Never.
And then, oh yes and then, it, well, sort of began
A short step away was of course, The Charles Lamb
So myself, Peter, Kevin and Chris naturally
Warmed ourselves with a winter ale as fine as can be 
We played ‘Shut the Box’ but the genie was out or maybe he was in
For Kevin had spied the Christmas special, the Damson Gin!

Damson delight!
Four small glasses and a pint of ice
A bottle, two glasses full each, very nice
And then we met Gerald, what a lovely bloke
He told us WE were the very essence of Christmas, no joke!
He appeared at our table with another bottle to share
So we had to reciprocate, now we were well beyond all care

Shut the box Kevin
Sadly there are some things that have to come to an end
It was time to wish a merry Christmas to our new found friend
And to make our way The Glassworks  it was time to eat
After all this was the Fellowship’s Christmas treat
But lo and behold the Wetherspoons had no Christmas dinners
Such is the fate of Sloe starters and such awful sinners

What has Gary let himself in for?
Compensation comes in so many different guises
Life it seems can be relied upon to spring some nice surprises
And although we may have had only a burgers and chips meal
It still had that lovely Christmas feel
And Gary was there to keep us company
Peter, Kevin, Chris & me

Roger Roger, over and out
So, into the Islington O2 Academy 
For the annual IQ Christmas party
And there we met up with Roger, the Fellowship were now five
Geoff was there flyering and doing his bit to keep music alive
My friend Alex was there too but joy of joy’s guess who else came along?
Only the one and only Mr. Jym Furlong

Jym ponders the existence of  the Christmas Fellowship
IQ were sublime, there was no support act
As usual they played a lovely long set
Drawing from their extensive history
A perfect way to end the day for the Fellowship and me
There was the usual prog dancing
With floor rolling, frolicking and some dubious prancing

When you have to dance, you dance!
When the show was over, all the goodbyes and happy Christmas’s said
It was a race off to the tube and the train back off home to bed
But Peter’s camera had gone astray
A search party was immediately dispatched on its way
Not only did they return in time to catch the train
But perhaps there’s a lesson here for us all once again

Er, yes!
Remember this if you remember nothing else this Christmas
It’s not always a bad thing getting off to a Sloe start
But if you do, I say with all my heart
Take care and
God bless you
Happy Christmas.

And it's goodnight from me!

So, there you have it, this will be the last posting of 2013 until we kick off the new round of gigs in 2014, now i wonder what that will be like?

So, until then, a final picture of IQ

And a very splendid and special Christmas to you all, from me, fare thee well for now.

Happy Christmas one and all
All wrongs reserved - Grant Meaby - December 2013

Thursday, 19 December 2013

The Fellowship Gets Airbourne

Well, last week it might not have actually been a certain 'Smiffy's' birthday but it was his birthday celebration and the Fellowship treated him to a late afternoon and night out in that lovely city that we call London for a few sedate ales and a night of raucous kick ass rock and roll in the company of those Aussie funsters, Airbourne at The Forum in Kentish town.
I have seen Airbourne twice before so knew what to expect and I, indeed we, were not disappointed!.

Paul 'Smiffy' in Chris's hat
The Fellowship gets Airbourne

Chris and I took lunch at Wetherspoons
We are such a pair of foolish old loons
We tried a champion 7.2% cider from the bar
Perhaps a few percent too far
But what the heck
Get it down your neck
Washed down with a 6% trip to the dark side
And then with Kevin and Paul
a train ride
Off to London once again

Love on an escalator

No messing, no stopping off, no fuss
A tube ride and then a C2 bus
We went straight to The Southampton Arms
A splendid old pub with fine ales and historical charms
And no real reason to stray
So we stayed
For a few pints and for Paul and Kevin
To send themselves to porky heaven
With roast pork rolls and crackling
While n the roof the rain was cackling

Kevin & Chris, something's obviously funny!

In time it was time to take a stroll
Off to the Pineapple in Levington Road
Stopping at the Junction on the way
One average beer later as they say
But we had fun with the Christmas bar staff
And the table waitress, we made her laugh

Well there was Mistletoe 
The Pineapple was crowded but fun
Lots of people to talk to just had to be done
There were mums and dads and cute little babies
Students and old folk and real ale buffs, gentlemen, ladies
And then along came Peter, Peter, woo hoo!

The old 'Pint on head' trick

So “Saints alive”
We had been a foursome but now we were five!
A mass Fellowship gathering
Something special was starting to happen
Tonight’s revels were to be at the Forum
Just as well we had done the Southampton
Or Kevin would have been sad

Some of the Forum crew + MRC friends

The Treatment rocked
But Orange Goblin were not so hot
Airbourne, oh gosh when they came on
Aussie booze & kick ass rock & roll had to be done
They were awesome, brilliant and nice and LOUD
Rocked the arse off the capacity crowd
And there were friends of ours there from MRC
Along with Kev, Pete, Chris, Paul & me

Airbourne in full flow

There was only one thing left to do
A stroll down towards Kentish Town tube
It was chicken and chips time once again
Before taking the tube and the train
And a very welcome lift home from Peter
Another brilliant night sadly over.

Kevin explains train etiquette to Peter

It was indeed a splendid excursion, great Fellowship, great music, good beers, escalators safely negotiated, we survived to do it all again and very soon!

So until the next time, cool runnings one and all

Grant Meaby - Dec 2013

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Kingston, House of Progression Awards, Comedy of Errors, Pallas, People and 'Bus Wibbling'

Well, there is a post title to be reckoned with!
Never fear, all will be explained later, this blog is all about one of the best gigs / overall events I and the Fellowship of the Stick have been to for a long long time and for so many reasons.

So, the evening started with the first ever House of Progression Awards, and here are the winners as voted for by the fans, the awards were all splendid artworks by various members of the H.O.P. family, bands, friends and spouses etc. so all totally unique!

Best Band-Haken
Best Album-BBT, English Electric Full Power
Best Gig-Steven Steven Wilson R.A.H.
Best Vocalist Damian Wilson
Best Musician- Matt Stevens & Andy Tillison got equal votes!
Best Album Art Cover- Fish Feast of Consequences
Best Producer Steven Wilson
Best Indie Record Label- Inside Out Music
Best Fanzine/Web Site DPRP
Best Radio Show/Podcast Cliff 'Progzilla' Pearson
Best Dr Who-Tom Baker (Matt Smith. David Tennant came joint 2nd and it was very, very close!

And here is my own unique take on the proceedings!

Kingston – H.O.P. Awards, Comedy of Errors, Pallas and Bus Wibbling

We set off between three and half past
The roads were clear, the journey fast
By five we’d arrived
At Kingston-Upon-Thames
Checked into the Travelodge
Dumped our stuff in our rooms
And headed off to Weaherspoons
Pints of fine ale and pulled pork to consume

So here we are, less Roger, with Jane and Geoff

A short taxi ride took us to the Peel
It was tonight, the real deal
The House of Progression awards
And ‘Oh my Ladies and Lords’
The fabulous Christmas Bash
With Comedy of Errors
And of course Pallas

Roger had worked hard all afternoon with the bands

Even Eddie came along with jane

There were so many of our good friends there
Far too many to mention here
Facebook is the place for that kind of stuff
Suffice to say the five of us
Of the Fellowship of the Stick
Me. Kevin, Peter, Roger and Chris
Were somewhat bowled over
By the obvious outpourings of love
From our extended family of prog

And so on to the awards

Jon’s impression
Of Jerry Ewing
Was scarily 
Extremely funny
And all the awards well deserved

Jon in full flow as Jerry Ewing!
And then came a band I’d previously heard
But we’d never seen live before, never ever
Comedy of Errors

Comedy of Errors plated a great set
What a blinding set they played
Songs from the new album and from ‘Disobey’
I think it’s fair to say
They blew the crowd away
What an opener
There is hope for the future
Of  Prog

Well worth going to see if you get the chance

The time between the bands
Was the time to catch up with old friends
Wow! This was certainly the gig to be at
And we raised our glasses to absent friends
To those fighting personal battles 
We sent our thoughts and our love
There but for the grace of God above go we!

And there was Matt from Hekz and Garry too

Where do I begin?
Pallas played out of their skins
Paul Mackie has really put his vocal stamp
On the older material they play
And the new material is, dare I say
Quite different but also very recognizably Pallas
And long may it last

Despite technical problems
Something to do with the house lamps
Causing an irritating buzzing amp
They overcame this with a performance
Consummate, professional and exciting
For me a straightforward ten out of ten
OK I may be a little biased
But I love Pallas

Pallas at full blast

When the show was over
It took so long to leave the Peel
So many people to speak to and to see
But, at last, eventually
We made it back to Wetherspoons
For a late night JD
Before a nice cup of tea
And bed

Morning saw us back in Wetherspoons
Having slept remarkably well
And facing a truly deserved
Full English breakfast, served
With lashing of coffee
Well, Kevin went all healthy
With pancakes and porridge
(Very Scottish) 
But the rest of overdosed 
On bacon, sausage, egg, mushrooms, tomato, beans & toast!

The journey home was fun
With Roger now in the car
It just had to be done
The ancient rite of ‘Bus Wibbling’
Every time we passed a bus
Or indeed when one passed us
The three in the back seat ‘wibbled’
Probably dribbled too
Like you do
When rubbing your finger over you lips
Like one of those old Caravan tracks
See, even in our madness there is a tenuous
Prog connection of sorts

I had my eye on them in the back!
All in all a fantastic weekend
So my dear friends
Until the next time
Goodbye for now.

And a few more pictures from the night:-

So, until we go out and about again, which will probably be quite soon, so long for now.
Grant Meaby
Dec 8th 2013

Sunday, 1 December 2013


So, there we were, Friday the 29th November 2013 and once again it was time for 'An excursion', this time to Cambridge to see Larry Miller supported by Absolution at The Junction.

Chris and I set off from Stevenage on the 12:42 train to Cambridge with the intention of doing a short pub crawl around Cambridge, a sort of circular route starting from near the station, into town, round and about and out along Hills road to meet up with Kevin in the Flying Pig at around 17:30, well, this is what happened.

As we made our way from the station towards what was to be our first port of call, the Live and Let Live, we passed, or rather didn't pass, The Devonshire Arms.

Inside The Devonshire
It looked warm, it was, it looked comfortable, it was, did they do food? They did, did they serve real ale? They did, in fact they had eight different ales 'On the pump' so, decision made, we'd make our unscheduled stop here for lunch and first pint.

Well, what a splendid way to spend a lunchtime and an afternoon, sitting chatting with a great friend in a lovely traditional warm comfortable very English pub after a fine lunch of wholemeal doorstep bacon and cheddar cheese sandwiches with lashings of fresh salad and slowly working our way through several of the fine beers on offer (A great selection from the Milton Brewery for the ale punters among you).

Chris and I highly recommend the Devonshire Arms if you're in need of a good pint in Cambridge, we've already decided that we're going back with more of The Fellowship for a 'Just because we can' afternoon soon.

Time has a habit of passing too swiftly when you're having fun, before we knew it it was fast approaching 17:15 and time for us to stroll off down the road back towards the station and down to Hills road to The Flying Pig to meet up with Kevin, which we did but the Pig was absolutely heaving with students and the post Friday afternoon working drinking crowd and they didn't seem to be doing any food (Which was the initial plan) so we had a quick pint and then darted across the road to The Earl of Derby, OK, it's a Greene King pub but the food was excellent and not too expensive, I had the biggest portion of Scampi I think I've ever had as a 'pub-grub' meal and it was delicious too.

And so, it was then on to the prime objective for us being here, a short stroll to The Junction, to, initially, stand around outside in the freezing cold chatting to Dave Roberts (Mr. Cambridge Rock Festival) while the sound checks were completed, we were all getting a little concerned at the lack of people queueing and hope that perhaps they had found somewhere warmer to wait!

At last the doors opened and we were in, feeling somewhat lost in the vast empty space of the main stage hall, like the few who were there right from the start, we decided to go and fill up the bar!

Isn't it amazing, some venues you know it's going to be a crush and your heart sinks when you arrive and join the mile long queue that snakes all the way down the street and round the corner and others where you think you might be attending a very intimate gig just for you and your mates when suddenly, out of nowhere, the room has suddenly filled up!

Anyway, the support band for the night were Absolution, an absolutely damn fine young but extremely talented blues rock band who has us bopping and foot tapping along, we've seen them before and liked them then, they did a cracking job tonight too.

Absolution rocked the place
Oh how thrilled I was that the venue is so well equipped with the high power LED lights and an overactive smoke machine, it plays havoc with taking any decent photographs but what the heck, it was the music that i was here for and I wasn't disappointed.

Then came the moment we had all been waiting for, the room had filled up with a highly respectable (numbers) crowd, for the one, the only, Mr. Larry Miller.

Larry Miller
If by some strange chance you have never seen Larry or heard him play then you really are missing out big time, especially if you are into blues rock and like such notables as Rory Gallagher, Gary Moore, Jimi Hendrix, Joe Bonamassa, Ben Poole, etc. etc. Well Larry, in my opinion, knocks spots off them all, even the late greats, not that he plays that many covers, his own material is fantastic.

Captivating stuff from Larry
You cannot go to a Larry Miller gig and not be happy, he himself is always so enthusiastic and he has a real knack of engaging his audience in a way that many other artists could learn from, his music is uplifting and well, just makes you H. A. P. P. Y.

Plenty of songs from his now growing back catalogue, a few covers and if you only ever go out and buy one Larry Miller album, go get the double live 'Live and Outlawed' album and you'll be close to being able to know what I'm talking about.

An absolutely splendid performance and yes. Larry is booked fro CRF 2014.

And here I am, avec stick advertising TFATD too!

This being a Fellowship outing I have of course captured the whole thing once more, or rather, as always, in verse, for some strange reason I know (I have been told on many occasions)  that some of you my happy punters quite like this bit, that makes you as weird as me which is quite OK by my book!

Not A Pub Crawl

2013 Friday the 29th of November
Is a date for some time I will remember
That is of course because
It was the pub crawl of Cambridge that never was!

Chris and I caught the lunchtime train 
It was to be a short stroll around again
I’d even plotted out a Kevin type walking route
It was short concise and circular to boot

The Devonshire Arms wasn’t on my map
But it was the first pub we came to by chance mayhap
Just a quick pint before we moved on
But the food was so good and didn’t take long

There were eight real ales on pumps at the bar
It sort of made sense not to stroll too far
It was warm, friendly and full of atmosphere
A real old English pub with truly excellent beer

We stayed all afternoon and just didn’t stray
Oh well, never mind, what more can I say?
We moved only when it was time to meet Kevin
Off to the Flying Pig and another drinkers heaven

Food was required and the Pig wasn’t serving
We were awash with beer and somewhat deserving
So over the road went we to the Earl of Derby
For another pint of ale and some lovely scampi

The intrepid three then made off to the Junction
The venue this night for a Blues Rock function
Absolution opened the proceedings that night
A great little warm up act just right

And then came Larry. Larry Miller, wow!
He blew us way once again somehow
Surpassing previous performances yet again
Triggering those blues synapses in our brains

This was not a pub crawl
Indeed. no not at all
It was however, to all intents
Most definitely,quite excellent.

Grant Meaby 

As we are now well and truly in to that month, the month that has that day in it, we can all seriously start thinking about others, so, for now, all that remains for me to say is:-

Fender says "Happy Christmas"
Grant Meaby
December 2013