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Tuesday, 29 March 2016

THE EASTER BUNNY DELIVERS A STU! STUART O'CONNOR AND MORE AT CLUB-85

So, there we were, Chris, Chris, Chris, Haddy & me sat around a table in Club-85 which had again managed to produce an evocative club atmosphere on an Easter Sunday night for an evening to celebrate Stuart O’Connor’s 10 years as an independent musician and what a celebration it turned out to be!



Stuart has been the front man of alt progressive rockers, My Pet Junkie for many years who thankfully, still get together whenever possible and play the odd awesome gig, those heady days of packing venues like the London Astoria may be a thing of the past but Stuart and his music certainly isn’t, as a solo artist he has released many excellent albums and has toured the world and in so doing has deservedly built up a loyal fan base worldwide, if you’ve ever seen him play live you’d understand why.

Anyway, the evening opened with young ‘Looper’ Gavin Chappell-Bates from Cambridge treating us to a good selection of songs from his current album ‘We are the ones’ and his, for one so young, quite extensive back catalogue, it was Gavin’s first performance at Club-85 and he did a damn fine job.

Gavin Chappell-Bates

Next up was Papaphone, a.k.a. Russell Perkins singing songs mainly from his ‘Songs I wrote’ EP/Album, which, by the way, is available as a free download from his Facebook / Soundcloud page and well worth adding to your collection, as he himself said, “Where is the line between acoustic singer songwriter and ‘Folk’, these days it’s hard to tell but it was nice to hear a well polished and consummate performance form one man and his guitar, excellent stuff!

Papaphone

Scam
SCAM were up next, with Cara (From the Defekters) in their new acoustic duo incarnation singing songs in a ska / blues / jazz tinged style that really shows off Cara’s incredible vocal range, sadly only a few short songs from them before a quick change around while Cara was joined by a very ‘tired’ Rich from The Defekters for a stripped down selection of classic Defekters songs which despite his own protestations and apologies, Rich seemed to manage to play OK (His explanation being that they’d already played two gigs over the Easter weekend and he’d sort of been ‘relaxing’ before the Sunday night gig! The atmosphere was such that we let him get away with it anyway,  The Defeketers are indeed an excellent Ska band, do check them out if that particular musical genre is your musical cup of tea.

A very stripped down Defekters
Stu started his set with a couple of solo numbers before being joined by the incredible Vicky Flint on Trumpet & Flute and Dave Smale on the keyboard.
Stuart is one of the most amazing and progressive songwriters around and despite the incredible complexity of much of his music, he always seems to ‘deliver’ live which often leaves the audience, as it did on Sunday night, awestruck and somewhat gobsmacked at just what they’ve been listening to.

Stuart O'Connor solo style
We were treated to songs from Stuart that spanned the whole of his ten year solo career and with two well-deserved encore’s actually had the crowd on their feet at the end of the performance, and all this for a mere £5 entry, what an incredibly splendid evening it was.

Stu with Vicky & Dave

The Easter Bunny Delivers a Stu

It was Easter and it was Sunday, who’d have thought
It would turn out to be such a fun day?
Well, evening anyway!
The Easter Bunny had obviously passed this way
Delivering a gig of outstanding natural beauty!

How could we survive without Club-85?
That premier venue for live music
And on a Sunday set out very club like
No mosh pit but chairs and tables
Which enabled
Us to sit in comfort whilst we were regaled
By the finest of musical delights
As on this night
Stuart O’Connor celebrated
Ten years as an independent musician
And these days that takes some doing!

There was myself and Chris F
And Chris M and Chris R and Haddy
Grouped around our table
Where we were able
To quietly converse between the bands
Well, single artists and duo’s and trio’s
All mainly (almost) acoustic except
As one might expect
A bit of electric amplification
Especially when looping
We had Gavin Chappell-Bates
And Papaphone Russell Perkins
We had Cara Defekter in two incarnations
Before Stuart who again was on fire
Such is his desire
To make outstanding music

This night was no exception
Exceeding all our expectations
Leaving us once more elated
At what he had created
With help from Vicky Flint on brass
And Dave Smale on keys
Oh yes, oh yes, more of this please
And two encore’s later
Sadly it was over
But what a night, what a truly awesome night
And all for a mere fiver at the door
Who could want for more?


Grant Meaby  March 2016

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Tuesday, 22 March 2016

FOTS at HRH Prog 4 in Wales at Hafan-Y-Mor


If you are looking for a blow by blow, band by band, technically accurate review of what they played and how well they played it, well, I’m sorry to disappoint you but you won’t find it here!
If that is the type of review you’re looking for then the best place to go is to head on over to Prog Magazine (Physical of website) or one of the plethora of music press sites and professional / serious reviewers, Prog Bloggers etc.
My regular readers will, or certainly should, know what to expect by now, a completely biased, punters eye view, warts and all, captured in the main in the worst possible doggerel verse with a few dodgy photographs and one or two I may have plagiarised from friends!

So, firstly, a fairly sensible synopsis:-

Hafan-Y-Mor  is a beautiful setting for any festival, situated on the Haven Holiday’s site on the Welsh North coast beneath the Snowdonia National Park, the beach is often deserted, splendidly desolate,  full of wildlife and water fowl and with spectacular views of the mountains across the bay, be warned though, despite fabulous clear skies and bright sun it can get a tad cold at this time of year.

At the beach for sunrise at Hafan-Y-Mor
Once again for a dedicated ‘Prog’ festival there was a pretty damn fine eclectic mix of bands as the line-up beneath will testify.
We had everything from the progressive tinged NWOBHM from Hammerhead to Edgar Broughton’s poignant and moving solo acoustic set, we had the amazing acoustic versions of Tubular Bells and Musical Box from Buzz Elliot in the ‘Owner’s Lounge’ to the full onslaught instrumental ferocity of The Fierce and The Dead opening up the main arena on Friday and there was classic rock, fabulous prog, ambient rock and a fair smattering of jazz rock along the way.

The ones who really ‘Did it for me’ were, Hammerhead, Third Quadrant and Arthur Brown on the Thursday, Buzz Elliot, The September Code (Acoustic), The Fierce And The Dead, Abel Ganz, Purson (Replacing Curved Air) and Caravan who played the best set I’ve ever seen them play on the Friday and The Empty Yard Experiment, Schnauser (THE discovery of the festival for me), Focus, Ian Anderson and The Von Hertzen Brothers on the Saturday.
I also caught many of the band’s I haven’t mentioned, in most cases it’s not that I didn’t enjoy them it’s more a case of personal taste or they didn’t ‘wow’ me on the day, or of course I was too tired (Tired in this case not being a euphemism for drunk as I was happily merry most of the time!).

It was also the most wonderful place to spend good quality time with friends, meet up with other friends from all over the country, make a few new friends, turn ‘festival acquaintances’ and Facebook Friends into ‘real’ friends ‘in the flesh’ and also enjoy a bit of madness up at the SFW (SciFi Weekender) who, it must be said, treated us to an amazing selection of costumes, displays and talks and who must also have perfected  time travel as all their merch stated SFW 8 when in fact it was actually SFW 7.

Overall the organisation was OK, there were inevitably a few niggles with the accommodation and the (Supposedly) dedicated seating in the main arena for Prog VIP and Royalty guests (They didn’t lay on a big enough area or enough seats for when the headline acts were on) but such things have been formally complained about and registered at the time by several disgruntled punters no doubt.
Maybe it is better to go just as an ordinary punter the cheapest possible way then your expectations are not inflated, oh well, perhaps next time.
I cannot fault the HRH team’s selection of bands and the running of the stage etc. Great selection of music and just about spot on timings throughout the whole festival, being there with such good friends I think it’s fair to say that the good points outweighed the slightly not so good by about 10 to 1 so that in itself is a ‘result’.

So here is the final line up as I saw them:-

THURSDAY LINE-UP

Hammerhead
Octopus
Third Quadrant
The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown

FRIDAY LINE-UP

Acoustic

Buzz Elliot

The September Code

 

Main Stage

The Fierce and The Dead
September Code
Abel Ganz
Edgar Broughton
Purson
Caravan
Soft Machine

SATURDAY LINE-UP

Empty Yard Experiment
Schnauser
Messenger
Twinscapes
The Enid
Focus
Ian Anderson - Plays the best of Jethro Tull
Von Hertzen Bros

So in my usual inimitable style here follows the tale of the Fellowship's weekend at HRH.

HRH Prog 4  at Hafan-Y-Mor

So, there we were at HRH Prog 4
On the North Wales coast at Hafan Y Mor
And it’s never just about the music
It’s about spending time with good friends
Chilling out with a beer or two where the fun never ends
This year it was Kevin, Chris, Tim and Jo
Me, Alex and Mark and a Peter? Sadly no
Peter was learning how to stand on his head
Way down in Australia, OK, enough said!
So I captured our adventures for posterity
And mentioned the odd band as you will later see.

The Monks of the Grand Order of our Lord Fender Bear on serious patrol
This year we decided to upgrade to Rock Royalty
We got a chalet with a booze ‘rider’ and some good CD’s
On Thursday evening we saw Hammerhead
Classic New Wave of British Heavy Metal
Then Octopus who’s jazz rock just didn’t ring my bell
But never mind we had Third Quadrant for our first dose of prog
Before Arthur Brown who didn’t let us down, he’s still a rock god
And he had Miss Angel Flame dancing which was OK by me
We looked forward to the next day and who we would see.

Hammerhead

Octopus

The Legend that is, Arthur Brown

Once more we shared the site with the Sci-Fi Weekender
The Gamers and Larpers and Cosplay  such costumes of splendour
It was also nice to see the odd Steampunk or two
So we visited and mingled it would have been rude not to do
On Friday some of us went to the Sci-Fi opening ceremony
To see a dance show that really was just so good to see

A group of super super heroes at SFW7
The Fellowship met up with a host of good festival friends
Then off for the lunchtime acoustic session which is where it begins
We saw Buzz Elliot from Hammerhead playing his amazing guitar
And The September Code who, from Greece, had travelled quite far!
Then into the main arena for The Fierce and the Dead
Who absolutely stormed it, it has to be said
Then The September Code all electric this time
They were OK in fact I should say that they were just fine
And then came a band I’ve always wanted to see
Abel Ganz down from Scotland didn’t disappoint me
Edgar Broughton played his poignant solo acoustic set
And believe me folks this is as good as it gets
Curved Air had pulled out so we had Purson instead
Who put on a fine show it has to be said
Then Caravan who played the best gig I’ve ever seen them do
And that is quite something because I’ve been to a few

Matt Stevens from The Feirce And The Dead
Abel Ganz

Edgar Broughton

Purson

Caravan
Soft Machine
 To end the evening there was the legendary Soft Machine to play
With Theo Travis on sax and flute but it was so late in the day
And the “refreshments” and dancing had taken their toll
So I stayed for a while before deciding to stroll
Back to the chalet for my warm welcoming bed
Only to find a bit of a party going on instead!

Lord Fender, Guardian of the Bean
Saturday arrived far too soon as it tends to do
But Chris of course came to our rescue
Cooking up another splendid “Full English” breakfast
Enough to feed the five thousand, well the seven of us
So a shower and a breakfast and a stroll by the sea
Were more than enough to help to revive old flagging me

Breakfast, mmmmmmm
So Saturday’s music
The Empty Yard Experiment all the way from Dubai
Were pretty damn good I suggest you give them a try
And then the band of the festival for Chris and for me
They were of course Schnauser an amazing discovery
Then Messenger and Twinscapes and The Enid were on
I caught some of each of them but didn’t stay long
But we came back for Focus who were as good as they are
Then Ian Anderson playing Jethro Tull, wow what a star!
The Von Herzen Brothers were the last ones to play
And they certainly rocked us all to a great close of the day

Schnauser - Protien for Everyone

Ian Anderson & band
Von Hertzen Brothers
Like any such gatherings and events on big holiday sites
There are many things that are OK and some not quite right
But the odd thing like running out of  VIP & Royalty seating
And not enough utensils in the chalet for cooking and eating
And an overzealous security guard stopping us dancing
Had all been officially complained about so hopefully enhancing
Everything for everyone for the next event
So overall once again I am so glad we went
For the music and the fellowship and the ridiculous fun
Outweighed everything else by at least 10 to 1

So, until the next time
Fare thee well one and all and, Bottoms Up!



Grant Meaby
March 2016

Saturday, 12 March 2016

DORYLUS - THE RAPTURE

It's often quite interesting to find out where a band's name comes from, North Herts Metallers, DORYLUS take their name from a species of (Predominantly African) Army Ant that tends to swarm en mass as they search for new sources of food and, if their debut EP The Rapture is anything to go by then Dorylus are poised to swarm all over the local metal scene and beyond with a pure and honest ferocity that is rare in a band who have only been 'on the circuit' for a year or so!


Dorylus are,  Joe Davies on Guitar/lead Vocals, Craig Carmichael on Guitar, Tommy Oliver on Bass and Mitch Cartwright on Drums.

That the band themselves cite their major influences as Iron maiden, MachineHead, Metallica, DevilDriver, Lamb Of God, Children of Bodom, In Flames, Meshuggah, Strapping young lad and Fear Factory is no surprise when you listen to The Rapture however they manage to skilfully avoid that often sprung trap of sounding just like a pastiche of all the bands that have ever influenced them through their skillfully crated songs and great musicianship creating a sound that is very much Dorylus's own.


So, to The Rapture, as a debut EP this is a fine offering, six very different tracks which not only hang together nicely but also go a long way to illustrate and showcase each member of the bands talented musicianship and show us just what they can achieve together as a band.

The EP opens with Eternal,  a short intro which is a dark brooding piece of almost classical music that could easily grace the soundtrack for some disturbing Goth Vampire movie and this leads you unsuspectingly but nicely into Desolation which is an absolute blast of a thrash metal number and if you thought things couldn't get any faster or more frantic then stand by for Deceiving the Pure which kicks off like an out of control freight train before hitting those slower breakdowns, Icepick Lobotomy despite the title actually starts with a superbly melodic guitar intro and the penultimate track, Corporate Pollution kicks off with a great rhythm lead, all that has gone before takes us nicely to the last track and that of course being the title track of the EP, The Rapture which is a work of epic proportions and an excellent example of the genre, so, all in all a damn fine first offering from Dorylus, I hope to 'catch' them live soon.

The Rapture is available on Spotify, i-Tunes, etc. and all the various links you'll need can be found on the band's Facebook Page:-

https://www.facebook.com/dorylusband/?fref=ts

So for now, that's it folks, see you next time round the plastic spiral.
GM March 2016

Monday, 7 March 2016

FISHWIFE'S BROADSIDE AT DAVID'S

Now here is a question for you.

In a post-apocalyptic world with no power and few resources would it still be possible to create amazing music?

The answer is;
Of course it would, no end of world tribal music is surely enough proof of that, but what of our (So called) western style of music?

Well, on Saturday the 5th March 2016 in David’s Book & Record Store in Letchworth Garden City, that wonderful rag-tag bunch of folky punksters, Fishwife’s Broadside treated us to a completely 100% acoustic performance as they launched the vinyl release of their single “Just One Revolution” & “Stuffin’ n’ Starvin’ which was available on the day as a limited edition hand numbered copy, complete with lyrics, stickers and also a CD version including several more classic Fishwife’s songs and all for a mere £5.

It’s funny how some people can completely miss the joke isn’t it, as one less than astute music fan stated, “If it was 100% acoustic how come the singer is holding a microphone?”, well, I can assure you he wasn’t, Andy was in fact holding a hairbrush!


This is not a microphone, OK, maybe it is for today!
Now be honest, which budding teenage wannabe pop or rock star hasn’t used their hairbrush as a microphone, singing away to the mirror?

That was all part of the joke, part of the fun atmosphere that Fishwife’s create, quirky catchy songs that are more often than not highly ‘politically’ charged or are covering difficult to talk about subjects but with genuine honesty and with typically English humour, dry, very dry, humour it must be said but in many of their songs there are some incredibly astute observations on life in general and of course delivered with excellent showmanship & damn fine musicianship.

Fishwifes Broadside in full flow
A good crowd turned up for this wonderful free gig and looking around the audience you could spot many notables from the North Herts / South Beds music scene, I’ll not be so crass as to name names but it was ‘one of those gigs’, one of those truly magical afternoons that if you were there you will remember for many a year to come and if you weren’t and like this sort of music you’d be forgiven for kicking yourself to bits for missing it!


Yes, 100% acoustic!
Acoustic Platform – Fishwife's Broadside at David’s

Chris and I went to Weatherspoon’s
In old Letchworth Garden City
On Saturday the 5th of March because
Let’s cut to the nitty gritty
An awesome gig was going down
At David’s book and record store
We were off to see Fishwife’s Broadside
Playing acoustically, what’s more

Singing their folky punky songs
They’d be live with no amplification
Astute observations about all things
And about the state of the nation
But first there were many fine ales to be drunk
And good food to be procured
The wonderful ‘specials’ of the day
Just could not be ignored

Spicy grilled chicken and peppers
On long kebab sticks made out of wood
With chips and dips and salady stuff
It was really rather good
The poor girl serving behind the bar
With the long blond tied back hair
Well she seemed to have fun working the till
It was if she wasn’t all there!

A tenner and some CAMRA tokens
To pay for two pints of beer
And I got more change than I could imagine
Well never mind my dear!
She did it again a bit later on
When Chris procured a round
It’s amazing sometimes when you find out
Just how far goes your humble pound!

Well watered and well fed we went
To hear Fishwife’s Broadside sing
A magical Saturday afternoon
Such joys doth such music bring
Then another quick pint in Weatherspoon’s
While the band packed up their gear
Then on to “The Platform” for a pint with them
And to share more splendid cheer

So armed with the band’s new single
We made our fond fare- thee-wells
Happily merry and well satisfied
As if you couldn’t tell!
So thank you Fishwife’s Broadside
For a jolly splendid afternoon
And Chris for his excellent company
Let’s do it again and soon!

Grant Meaby

March 2015

A splendid gig indeed