Thursday, 31 December 2015


Many happy returns? Whose birthday could it be? No one is the answer, well no one I know of, no, indeed, this was the evening of returns to the scene, to making music, original live music and wow! What a gig.

First there was the return of Ollie Taylor (The October game, Tibetan Sky) with his new band Toy Birds who put me very much in mind of The Pineapple Thief and their anonymously named debut EP is absolutely beautiful and well worth the money.

Then we saw the return of Rupert, Danny & Nick, formerly, along with Gaz, were Minor Pilot, having tried but failed to replace Gaz (guitarist) they have decided to soldier on as a three piece under the name of Thousand Suns and with added keyboards from Nick and programming from Danny, good grief they were good and the new material is awesome, if you liked Minor Pilot then you will rave over a Thousand Suns, a triumphant return indeed.

What can I say about My Pet Junkie? They are a legendary band anyway, one of the most loved, respected and complicated prog bands on the scene for many a year and they had not performed together as a band for far too long as each member has pursued various individual projects and commitments but tonight they were back!  
Playing a set that blew us away, MPJ are back, for now anyway!

Many Happy Returns

Many happy returns
Though this has nothing to do
With birthdays
Wednesday the 30th December
Yet another date to remember
Another fine gig at Club-85
Where it seems the Fellowship was
Just alive
With myself and Chris
On a night where the rain poured down
We at least made it to Hitchin town
To see Toy Birds
The new band with Ollie Taylor
From the October Game
Just for this I’m glad we came
Then there was the triumphant return
Of Danny, Nick & Rupert
But not as Minor Pilot
Now they are a Thousand Suns
Minor Pilot having lost one 
But the sound goes on
Changed but unmistakable
Simply sublime
A happy return indeed
And then
My Pet Junkie
After a too long hiatus 
But they were here for us
Once again
Many happy returns
On New Year’s Eve, Eve
Another damn fine gig
I do believe
I’m glad we came
A great way to say goodbye
If you know what I mean
Two thousand and fifteen.


So, maybe that explains it, A night of, Many Happy Returns!

As we say goodbye to 2015 may I wish you all a happy new year and a good 2016 filled with music and laughter.
GM 31/12/15

Monday, 28 December 2015


There is often a bit of a 'gap' between Christmas and New Year, I obviously don't mean a gap in a time wise sense, of course there is a gap of several day's, I mean a gap in the sense that there is often not a lot going on in the way of gigs or entertainment, after all, many people are still tied up in the seemingly endless round of family or friend's visits etc. over the Christmas period.
Public transport is usual completely shot to pieces (As it was on this particular night) but every now and then something comes along to fill that 'gap' in a most wholesome, unexpected and fabulous way.

Now those of you who know me well enough or read this blog regularly will know that as a general rule I am not the biggest fan of 'Tribute' bands, there are several reasons for this, I have seen many tribute bands that have been absolutely spot on musically but absolutely appalling when it comes to the vocals (Which completely spoils it for me), I have also seen so called tribute bands that are in fact pretty rubbish and there is the fact that some, sadly many, people will 'Get off their arses' and go and see a tribute band but can't be bothered to go out and support original live music (As you will know I am most definitely not one of those people but you know what I mean) and what on Earth is the point of a tribute band to any real band that is still going strong? I'd always prefer to go and see the original, anyway, rant over.

Now when it comes to those few tribute bands that do have everything going for them (& us), playing the music of bands that are no longer around or we could now never hope to see live again and who have got everything just right, the music, the vocals, the lighting, the backdrop, the presence, well, on Sunday the 27th December, at, of course Club-85 in Hitchin, we were treated to one of the finest evenings of excellent music in the form of the Pink Floyd tribute band, The Floyd Effect, quite honestly they were not only outstanding, they were somewhere beyond magnificent and they played a wide variety of Pink Floyd's music spanning the whole career of the band and what value for money, they played, yes actually played, for over 3 hours!

Strange though it is, extremely rare that such a thing could happen, but many of us who were there actually agree, The Floyd Effect are beyond doubt the best Pink Floyd tribute band we have ever seen and they played, what was for many of us, "The Gig of the Year" and bearing in mind the number of gigs and festivals we have been to during 2015 this is really saying something!

Lasers & all

 Well, that certainly had the right effect!

There was no pre-gig pubbing
No frills, no fancy dress
This was a night for FOTS to be serious
Seriously impressed
Peter, Chris and I in Bar-85
Celebrating how good it was to be alive
In that time between
Christmas and New Year
Still full of Christmas spirit and good cheer
And a void to be filled
Filled with music of the highest calibre
Musing pleasing to the soul and the ear
Club-85 was packed
Almost certainly sold-out
In fact there was no doubt
Let there be no speculation, no dispute
All these people here, for a tribute?
Indeed, tonight everyone was here to hear
And to see a band who were possibly
About to play the gig of the year!
A tribute to the one and only Pink Floyd
Now normally tributes are bands I avoid
But not these, The Floyd Effect
I can quite honestly say they were the best yet
Musically and vocally just spot on
A light show and back set that couldn’t go wrong
For playing of the music of Pink Floyd

The great gig in the sky
They played two sets over three hours by far
Songs from throughout Pink Floyd’s vast repertoire
Talk about impressed
Knocked out, bowled over, totally blessed
And they played ‘Echoes’
And just how long that song is, everyone knows!

Could this be the gig of the year?
A gig by a tribute band?
If you’d have been there you would understand
Such a thing may be somewhat unusual but well, wow!
A gig that none of us who were there will ever forget
Sunday the 27th December, with The Floyd Effect.

The even played Echoes!

So, is that it for 2015? Possibly not, watch this space, or that space, or the one over there or even this blog, well not this one obviously, maybe the next one! Until then, cheers m'dears.



The Floyd Effect

December 2015

Monday, 21 December 2015


So, we did it again, another splendid London 'Drink-a-bout' before going to see IQ at the O2 Area, Islington, a day in which we dressed as Elves, obviously not feeling ours Elf, there were jokes, quips and good cheer, a day where we met many an other Elf, the odd Reindeer, a few wise men and someone who claimed to be Jesus, personally I thought he appeared more like Brian but you do meet some strange folk in London and there's none stranger than The Fellowship at times!

We visited some absolutely splendid pubs (They are named in bold in the tale below so you can count them, visit them if you feel so inclined), we sampled some very splendid ales, some excellent food and then at last on to what could well be 'The Gig of the Year', IQ were on magnificent form and their tribute to the late great Geoff Banks was quite simply stunning, moving and relevant.

Before the epic tale is told in verse and pictures I must explain a couple of things, the chorus comes from a tale about one of our members ordering a Banana Naan in an Indian restaurant the night before, it was also a day in which we saw the embryonic formation of an Elf Hakka, mad, what us?

We were of course part of an Elf and Safety team working for the National Elf Service, that's our excuse and we're sticking to it, not that we need any excuse, 'Last of the Summer Wine' pah!


Not Yours Elf

And so it came to pass in the year 2015 of our Lord Fender
As I remember it was Saturday the 19th of December
Somewhere in London someplace somehow
There were four Elves singing, “Klingons on the Starboard bow”

Over 18s only
So this is what happens when you’re dressed as an Elf
You’re just not yourself, when you’re dressed as an Elf
We were looking for a jolly old gentleman all dressed up in red
“Come down to London” That’s what he said

Banana Naan, na na na na na
Banan Naan na na na na
Banana Naan na na na na na
Nanana nanana na na na na na na

So as we set off initially there were just four of us
So we jumped on a train and then took a bus
To The Angel Islington to begin our great quest
Our powers of sobriety were severely put to the test

And this wasn't even a 'Spoons'
Now, because we know that HE likes the odd drink or two
We searched in the good pubs as one must do
And of course as time passed, well what do you think?
We ours Elves may indeed have imbibed in the odd Christmas drink

Banana Naan, na na na na na
Banan Naan na na na na
Banana Naan na na na na na
Nanana nanana na na na na na na

We started at The Old Red Lion, the Theatre bar
For Christmassy pies and pints then didn’t stray far
For just round the corner and just down the street
Was the Brewhouse Kitchen whose beers were also a treat

Then a stroll to The Charles Lamb where we played ‘Shut the Box’
We know how to celebrate and the fun never stops
For there we met up with another two of our clan
Before setting off for The Narrow boat which was all part of the plan

The view from the Narrowboat
 Banana Naan, na na na na na
Banan Naan na na na na
Banana Naan na na na na na
Nanana nanana na na na na na na

Everywhere we went we spread our good cheer
Well after all it’s really that time of the year
And it’s not everyday that you celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ
Or indeed that of Lord Fender which is also quite nice
At the Island Queen we met a party with Jesus himself
Well a chap dressed up like Jesus and several more Elves
It must be something to do with the weather that’s all I can say
For this was by far the warmest ever, December day

Banana Naan, na na na na na
Banan Naan na na na na
Banana Naan na na na na na
Nanana nanana na na na na na na

Make that two!
There was still no sign of the old chap with the white beard
So we continued our search which by now was getting quite weird
As we stopped off in the Earl of Essex with the beer board on the wall
And tried the 17.5% dark stuff which wasn’t nice at all

We fiound his hat though!
 Sometimes at Christmas these things must be done
It was warming and potent and really quite fun
As we stumbled up the road towards the O2 Academy
Where later it was IQ that we would all see

We met Jon Patrick and bought him a beer
In the Glassworks because, well it’s ever so near
Soon it was time to make our way to the venue
So we made our way down the stairs into the O2

Banana Naan, na na na na na
Banan Naan na na na na
Banana Naan na na na na na
Nanana nanana na na na na na na

Just some idea of the size of the crowd at IQ
 We also met Thea who looked a real Christmas delight
All in all it was, one heck of a good night
IQ played tribute to the late great Geoff Banks
And for that we’re all grateful and send them our thanks

IQ in full swing
But after all when it’s all said and done
We never found Santa but we had such good fun
After the gig and farewells we headed back to ‘The Cross’
Via the Cornish pasty stall as, we were hungry of course

One of the best sets ever from IQ
Banana Naan, na na na na na
Banan Naan na na na na
Banana Naan na na na na na
Nanana nanana na na na na na na

The Dark Angel plays a mean guitar
Then it was onto the train to make our weary ways home
With The Fellowship of Elves you are never alone
So this is what happened when we went out dressed as Elves
I think in all honesty that we were, truly ourselves!

Have a splendidly wonderful Christmas, Yuletide, Solstice, whatever and however you celebrate this season or not, just keep it peaceful and keep music live. 


December 2015

Sunday, 13 December 2015


Friday 11/12/15
Friday night and along came an unexpected and very welcome chance to go off to Club-85 in Hitchin to see The Dub Pistols supported by The Defekters for a night of pure danceable Ska & Dub and both bands had the place which was either at or close to capacity, BOUNCING.

The Dub Pistols rippin' up the place
It was good to see The Defekters back on great form and they have a new EP comming out soon, the place was so jammed I didn't get any decent shots of them but hey ho, I was too busy bouncing anyway..

And if you like your Ska/Dub delivered in an excellent style, then of course, The Dub Pistols are one of the bands to go for:-

OK, that was Friday and good though it was, for me the gig on Saturday absolutely blew me away.

Saturday 12/12/15
The Inspiral Trio supported by Peyote.
Fabulous evening with Chris & Chris at Club 85, Peyote (Lee Russell with Brian Hamlin) creating amazing synth soundscapes that reminded me of Tim Blake's Crystal Machine, wonderful solo sets from Dave Sturt, Ian East and Kavus Torabi before the Inspiral Trio transported me to realms beyond the Planet Gong with thier improvised creative genius, a never to be repeated gig and one of those truly magical, "Were you there when......." moments and it was so good to catch up with Kavus again.
This was supposed to be one of the pre-Christmas Fellowship of the Stick 'get togethers' but the dreaded man-flu had struck and taken its toll!
So, under the circumstances what could we do?
Soldier on regardless of course, after all, gigs like this do not come along very often, in fact I'd say "Once in a lifetime".

Man Down, Man Down but we Ambiently Soldiered on

It was planned to be, the Fellowship three
Just Chris and Kevin & Me
But somehow ‘man-flu’ had to intervene
And I guess you all know what that means
To keep us three to keep us strong
Man Down, Man Down, but we soldiered on

Thankfully by Saturday Chris had recovered
But sadly we all too soon discovered
That poor Kevin had now fallen victim to the bug
We tried plan A and we tried plan B
But sometimes you have to soldier on and shrug

So we met as planned in the Victoria pub
For some pre-gig drinks then some chicken grub
And headed off to once more to Club-85
Three tickets for two
Well that just won’t do
So a text from Grant brought the other Chris alive  

Peyote (Lee Russell) master of the keys

A café setting created the ambient feel
And Lee’s Peyote was just unreal
Creating soundscapes reminiscent of
Tim Blake’s Crystal Machine
Then a solo set from Dave, Ian & Kavus
Before the Inspiral Trio would somehow have us
Sonically transported elsewhere, you know what I mean

Majestic ambiance from Peyote (Lee & Brian)

This was way beyond The Planet Gong
Where all good things you know come from
And tonight was just sublime beyond all expectations
So there we were in Hitchin town
We may have been just one man down
But we soldiered on to maintain our reputations

Absolutely inspired, The Inspiral Trio
 For Chris and I were not ourselves
We were in fact both dressed as elves
We felt it was an appropriate thing to do
And what a gig it was that night
Everything just tuned out right
Except of course and you know this is true
We missed ‘Our Kev’.

One of those truly magical musical moments

So, until we spin again, happy Yuletide season.


Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Schrodinger's Strings and more on a Stormy Sunday

On such a stormy Sunday evening as this
In Hitchin you’d have found me and Chris
And the night’s musical lesson
The Almost Acoustic Sunday Session
And a gig that just could not be missed!

Sunday had been somewhat wet and windy and the early evening was not only no exception but the weather, if anything, had significantly worsened. 
Thankfully the heavy rain held off until I reached the ‘Chicken Shop’ (Not its real name by the way) opposite Club-85 to grab myself a bite to eat before the gig.

As I sat there, warm and dry enjoying my meal of chicken, chips and a nice soft drink to wash it down with I watched as the heavens seemed to open and the rain, driven by the ever increasing wind, lashed against the windows  causing the lights outside from the cars and other shops to kaleidoscope whilst accompanied by a sort of white noise soundtrack, all very relaxing, surreal and in its own way a rather pleasing way to wind down from the hectic week and get my head in a good place ready to be filled with fine music.

And then Chris walked in, having only just walked down the road from the car park, a walk of a mere couple of minutes and he looked like he’d been dragged backwards through a full on car wash!

We were still a little early but the warmth, comfort and boisterous atmosphere of Bar-85, that and a couple of pints of The Reverend James had us in fine spirits to saunter upstairs to Club-85 for the evening’s entertainment.

The (Almost) Acoustic Sunday Sessions have and are becoming somewhat of a special occasion, so many good acts and at an entry price that can’t even begin to cover the cost of the evening, a mere £4 a head, it is a work of passion by Bob, Matt & the crew at 85 as they strive, and succeed, to bring us fine music and something worthwhile to do on a Sunday night.

First on this night were the truly excellent acoustic duo, A Work In Progress, beautifully crafted songs, exquisite guitar playing and quite often reminiscent of Turin Brakes, which is not at all a bad thing as I for one love the early TB sound. AWIP have a new CD out, "Lights" available for download from their Bandcamp page (Which you can get to via Facebook)  or physical CD from the band, damn fine it is too.
 You can also download thier 1st EP "When I Grow Up"  for free from here -

Next up was Rob Eaton, singer songwriter Rob never fails to impress with his excellent stylish guitar playing and his wonderful songs drawing from many genres, rock, folk, soul, blues, R & B, it’s no wonder he’s got himself a a gig at Ronnie Scott’s as well as recently appearing on the BBC on BBC’s Introducing, a lovely but all too short set, his EP Kansas is well worth a listen too.

Don Court makes no bones about the fact that he has faith and that his faith literally saved his life, and although Don is not one for preaching to or at you his faith often shines through his music in a most uplifting and non-threatening way, his own material is full of passion emotion and meaning and his covers of country blues rock classics are also damn good, and boy oh boy, that guitar! Don’s albums, the older “Reborn” and the more recent “Good Enough” are well worth a slot in anyone’s collection, hard to believe that it was more than 10 years since Don's last appearance at Club-85 it was really great to have him back among us.

Headlining were Schrodinger’s Strings, a trio the like of which you don’t often, if ever, see! Two harps and an acoustic guitar, musically of the highest standard and dry cutting wit and banter between the band members. Whether they are paying something classical, something folky or a cover version of a well know rock song, such as Sweet Child of Mine or Wish You Were Here, these guys know how to entertain, it really was one of those, “Where you there when Schrodinger’s Strings Played Club-85?” moments. The band of course have their own web site and their eponymous CD out which is already a firm favourite on my CD player!

And so, that was it, a fine and dandy evening of truly excellent music, until the next time................................................................................................................. GM Nov/Dec 2015

Monday, 23 November 2015


Wow, what a weekend, this was a real Fellowship of the Stick / Corona's extra special event, or to be precise, two events.



Embarking on an epic adventure for the biggest gathering of the Fellowship of the Stick / Corona’s this year, two trains saw the first four of us  safely transported from ‘The Nidge’ to Finsbury Park for a quick change it was on to Highbury & Islington where but a short step away we found The White Swan, a Weatherspoon’s Pub with a reasonable selection of ales and extremely passable food at of course reasonable JDW prices, ideal for the first couple of pints of the day and lunch.

Where's my fish & chips?

Bunny ears, what bunny ears?
 At this stage of our excursion we were taking full advantage of our London Travel-cards so we nipped back down to Highbury & Islington station to take the London over-ground train to Kentish Town West to visit The Camden Brewery Bar which is in fact just under the station!

The Camden Brewery beers are excellent and they brew a good range of beers and real lagers, we even tried the unfiltered draught Hells Lager which was in fact extremely refreshing and tasty.

Nipping back ‘Upstairs’ we again caught an over-ground train to Gospel Oak to visit the Southampton Arms, a splendid old pub with a ridiculous range of microbrewery ales and craft beers, they also do a splendid hot pork roast roll with crackling, be aware though, this pub has no phone, no jukebox, no fruit machines and does not take cards, it’s cash only and in my opinion all the better for it, wooden throughout and full of character (& characters!).

 Of course, the day was supposed to have involved minimum walking but as things turned out we got a message that two of our friends we were supposed have met up with earlier were hopelessly lost in Kentish Town but had found their way to The Pineapple (A pub we know well) and there had met even more of our friends from CRF/Skeggy so would meet us there if we made our way down, so of course we did.
Missing a bus by a hairs breadth we walked and eventually arrived at the Pineapple just in time to enjoy a well-earned pint, pick up with even more friends before a mass stroll up to The Boston Music Rooms at Tufnell Park, where of course we met up with the rest of our own motley crew (As opposed to Motley Crue with, as you may know, is an American rock band).

 So, why were we all there? It was Touchstone’s final London gig, supported by John Mitchell (Frost, It Bites, Arena) in his ‘Lonely Robot’ incarnation and it seemed like it was the biggest gathering of the (predominantly) Southern prog family since the last Celebr8, Celebr8.3, it was so good to see so many well-known characters there.

Corona's on Parade!
John Mitchell makes no bones about the fact that he does not like playing the acoustic guitar but, what the heck, a lot of the Lonely Robot songs do work well acoustically and I wish I could play the guitar a tenth as well as he does, a good opening set for the evening.

John, the onely Robot himself
Touchstone, as a band, have called it a day as not only does Kim Seviour have to take a good long break to recover her health but founder member Rob Cottingham has also bowed out to pursue other projects, Moo, Adam and Henry however have ongoing plans, I can’t wait to see this particular project come to fruition.

Anyway, back to the night in question, poor Kim was suffering from Laryngitis and had been ill all week and had only just recovered part of her voice, as she said, the top end of her vocal range had “Just gone!”
Of course cancelling the penultimate gig was never going to be an option so the lovely Heather Findlay was drafted in to assist on vocal duty so it was a very different Touchstone that took to the stage, despite everything it was a damn good gig none-the-less and of course a pretty emotional evening, all in all I’m glad we went, a fine day out and a great evening.


Saturday saw two of us who could still just about stand heading up to Royal Leamington Spa for the final gig, meeting up with many more notables from the prog community and what made it even better was that several of us enjoyed a drink and meal together at The Jug & Jester before heading over to the Leamington Assembly Hall where we again saw John Mitchell kick off the evening but this time with Heather Findlay on vocals for the Lonely Robot songs with the female lead, a stunning performance and by the way John has the full electric band project on at La Scala in London on the 20th December.

 Next up were those Welsh masters of melodic prog, Magenta who delivered a near on two hour set of absolutely stunning quality, to be honest I’d have happily gone to just such a Magenta gig.

The Magnificent MAGENTA
So, there we were, Touchstone’s final gig and by all things in heaven and earth did they ‘go for it’ , again with Heather helping Kim out on the ‘Top range’ this was a classic Touchstone performance, if last night was good then somehow this was an order of magnitude better, what a way to bow out, I’m pretty sure that in years to come there will be those “Were you at Leamington Spa for Touchstone’s farewell gig” questions, I’m so happy that I’ll be one of those able to say yes!

Heather & Kim
The whole evening was being filmed so no flash photography was allowed hence my fairly crappy photos.

There was an ‘After party’ after the gig, a small but select crowd which after all the photographs, the meet and greets and autograph signings dwindled to the hard core of fans, the bands themselves along with family members and close friends, it may have been the end of an era but there was a lot of laughter, drinking (In some cases extremely heavily!) and dancing and it was all good.
So to Touchstone, to Rob, Kim, Henry, Moo and Adam, a huge thank you for all the great music and live performances and I and many others I know are looking forward to whatever the future brings for and from you.

What a brilliant band, the mighty, TOUCHSTONE

Tim wins the air guitar of the year award!

Spot the Corona, a great after party.
So, that's it then, what a brilliant weekend and I even got up for work on Monday!
Cheers m' dears, until the next time round the plastic spiral.
GM November 2015.