Stewart Copeland – Royal Festival Hall, London – March 30th, 2019

After Thursday’s affair at The Stranglers gig, I was thankful to know that I’d be seated at the Stewart Copeland gig.

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From my memory of how the side seats looked when I was there for the Manic Street Preachers/The Anchoress Meltdown gig last June, the seats appeared like they’d give you a pretty good view. I suppose the rail could make it a little restricted with the view, especially if you’re a short person and sit low in your seat but for less than half the price of the stall seats, it made it an affordable last minute choice to go.

And I chose my seat well. There were seats either side of the auditorium. Both seats I was viewing when buying my ticket would have given me very similar views of the stage. It was just down to me whether I’d feel more comfortable facing the stage via facing it to the right or left. For some reason I couldn’t quite understand, I was favouring sitting on the left side. It ended up a great choice as from how you see in the few sneaky snaps I took, Stewart’s kit was facing – what was for him from the stage side perspective, the right side of the auditorium. I had a prime view.

He arrived on stage promptly at 7.30pm, wishing the crowd a good evening. Cracked some jokes about half of his children were probably in the audience…or the actual audience! Lol. He started with film scores.

Tunes from Rumble Fish, Wall Street, his work on the Ben Hur live experience, the Spyro videogame soundtrack….as well as the odd Police number (in which he gave praise to Sting – I nearly fell off my chair! “Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner – the greatest songwriter ever to exist on the planet” – quote/unquote!), playing Don’t Stand So Close To Me, Darkness and Miss Gradenko. And no Stewart Copeland set would be complete without The Equalizer, which he strangely did not perform but handed it over to the orchestra conductor who just happened to be a rather accomplished drummer himself. Stewart by way of a role swap, conducted the orchestra on the piece, as you can only imagine Stewart Copeland would…with quite a few giggles from the crowd as he made over exaggerated hand gestures and at one point did the Twist whilst still conducting away.

I think he also played something from The Rhythmatist and also played some Balinese Gamelan music.

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He talked in between every piece, telling a brief story behind each. How they came to take place, etc. Namedropping directors like Oliver Stone and Francis Ford Coppola along the way. Always bringing out chuckles in the audience.

With a 20 minute interval about 45 minutes into the set, the gig came in at just on two hours. All done and dusted by 9.30pm. I had never been out of a gig so early! I was back at Victoria by 9.50 and on the coach back to Luton just after 10pm. And back in the door at home by 11.30pm. Incredible!

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Any worries I may suffer a repeat of Thursday were long gone. I had a draining journey back from Weston-super-Mare during the day, but was soon revived with a meal and a short meander around the Southbank of London.

Stewart put on a great show. Great musicianship by the orchestra. Stewart was in good form both musically and as a general showman and class goofball.

It was a great night. I was so happy to have seen him. At times during the set I had been sitting their inwardly pinching myself, thinking “I am actually HERE watching Stewart Copeland play! This is fucking amazing!” And it was.

The Stranglers – O2 Academy, Bristol – 28th March, 2019

It was quite a hike from Luton to Bristol. First a trip to London, then on from there to Bristol. I arrived at 3.45pm and met up with a friend shortly after.

We had a bite to eat at the Boston Tea Party at the top of Park Street. A nice place. Looks deceptively small on the outside, but has plenty of seating upstairs. I needed to fuel up before the gig, so had a chai latte, a veggie burger and chips.

We queue outside that venue around 6pm. We were met with a few other fans after…and the queue got progressively longer. Another friend us in the queue around 6.40 and we were let in a few minutes before 7pm.

Support act was Dr Feelgood. A curious support in that there is not a single original member of the band within the group. But they were great all the same. Great musicianship. The singer was quite a showman but at least he was animated and not standing about looking like he’d prefer to be elsewhere.

The only two Dr Feelgood songs I know are Milk And Alcohol and Roxette and they performed those. The only thing I’d say as a negative was, although the overall sound level was great, the singer was lost in the mix. He was too low. Couldn’t much hear him either singing or playing the harmonica. Other than that, the set was great and I really enjoyed them.

All good. Everything going well.

Just a short break and then out come the boys. We were in a prime position, right in front of JJ. I filmed a bit here and there and have one complete song of them performing set opener Tank.

All was going good. The following day was Dave Greenfield’s 70th birthday, and my friend, Ruth, had made a special celebratory banner for him. After a few songs, Ruth produced the banner from her pocket and we held it up against the barrier. JJ noticed it and nodded approval, then he went over and got Dave’s attention and pointed it out to him. A short while later, Baz noticed it too and asked Ruth to throw it up on the stage to him. Baz then clipped it to the front of Dave’s keyboard stand and it stayed there for the rest of the gig.

About half way through the set I was starting to feel unwell. Light headed and just…not sure of myself. A little overheated, but it was so cramped in there, I wasn’t sure how I was going to get my jumper off.

I sat down and would have probably revived myself had I been allowed to stay there a few mins, but security guard came over and told Ruth I needed to stand back up, that it was too dangerous for me to sit at the barrier. I stood back up and I was not too bad initially. JJ checked with me that I was okay and I had mouthed to him I was fine and gave him a thumbs up. I was just trying to keep calm and ride the feeling out…but it didn’t work and after a few minutes I was out for the count. I shared the footage on the blog of what ensued.

I could feel myself being pulled over the barrier and feel being carted off. I was conscious again and saying “Guys! I’m okay!” Lol. Obviously NOT okay, but at least conscious again. They took me out a side exit and sat me on the ground for a few mins. They then got me a chair and I sat there for a few more mins. I was allowed to go back in but had missed a few songs. It was so crowded, I was right at the back and I wasn’t going to risk trying to get to the front and get reunited with my friends.

I didn’t stay in the venue again for too long. There was a bar out the front and some seating, so I just sat and waited until the gig was done.

The Stranglers are ALWAYS top class. They are never anything else. Set was great, I mean the actual stage set…the set list of songs were too. Some songs as a fan but not “uber” fan I was unfamiliar with. And there were a couple of new tracks played and I caught a bit of one of them.

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They’re a stellar act. The venue is small, intimate, and on a personal level, could do with a bit of ventilation. Great otherwise though.

I’ve seen them at least once every year now since 2016 and this year I may end up seeing them twice, all things boding well!

You’ll NEVER be disappointed at a Stranglers gig…even if you do find yourself fainting in the middle of it.

WANT! Gig Wish List – Number One!

OMG! I only saw this today. The gig (in London anyway) is 18 days away. I WANT THIS SOOOO MUCH! This man is…my drumming GOD. He is everything, in drumming terms, that I would ever aspire to be. I’ve never seen him live. It would be ssoooooo amazing to see him. So amazing.

I probably won’t be able to buy a ticket until next week. So…I just have to hope and pray some will be left then. Fingers crossed! It would be a DREAM to see him.

Rejuvenation Box Set – Now As A 7CD/DVD Package

A bunch of bonus tracks and B Sides come with it including: from the Cry sessions, Lead The Blind, For What It’s Worth, The Garden, New Sunrise and Where Is The Max? (Never heard of this song before): From Black And White 050505, Bird On A Wire, Too Much Television and Mighty Joe Moon: With Graffiti Soul, the Searching For The Lost Boys bonus disc with added track, a cover of T-Rex’s Children Of The Revolution: on Big Music, a bonus of the collaboration with The Stranglers of (Get A) Grip (On Yourself) plus the Johnson Somerset Big Music 4 Track remix CD. Plus lots of visual content on the DVD, official videos, etc, etc.

Check the link for full details (you can also see full details through Simple Minds’ official social media channels).

The bonus material makes this a tempting investment. The cynic in me wonders why it was not released simultaneously with the vinyl box set. The vinyl package looked lovely, but I couldn’t afford to invest, as of yet.

It hits the shops March 29th (just in time for Brexit. Yay!), but is available to pre-order now. (Click the image to see more)

Magazine Clippings – 1980, 1981 – Gig Reviews, Band News and Tour And New Music Info

The first snippet is dated Dec 6th, 1980. More tour dates for SM…it’s starting to wear Brian McGee out already…

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Next – a review of their gig at Tiffany’s on March 1st, 1981 (printed in March 14th edition of NME). Brian’s final gig with them in Glasgow. Why they get labeled as being “pretentious” with their music at this point, I will never know. Anyway, the review ends unltimately positive. Thank fark for that!

The description of Jim walking onto the stage is utterly delicious. Uber cool…sex on legs. Geez, I wish! (Why was I only 10 years old and stuck in Sydney? *weeps into hands*)

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Then…the parting of the ways with Brian and the ringing in Kenny Hyslop for his short tenure. (Reported on in the NME, dated July 25th, 1981)

Then finally, info on Sister Feelings Call being (from Oct 16th 1981) sold as a separate entitiy to Sons And Fascination, as opposed to them being twinned together in a package.

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Ruts DC – The Hat Factory, Luton – March 31st, 2018

My introduction to Ruts DC was with them being support to The Stranglers when seeing them last March at Cambridge Corn Exchange – and, well, conversely it was SM’s billing of support for them (The Stranglers) on the autumn arena leg of the Big Music tour that made me explore them more and go and see them in their own right live (again…I had been aware of them for many, many years, but only knew a few of their songs).

And last night that run continued with Ruts’ support being local reggae/dub/ska band ‘easydread’ (small ‘e’, a la easyjet – they are from Luton after all). They were bloody fab! I ran into the saxophonist/co-vocalist on the way out – a very affable chap he was too. He had stopped to talk to another fan. I noticed him giving the guy a business card. I had no funds with me (a rare occasion on being so close to home, I could just take my phone with me and nothing else), so when he was done chatting with the guy I asked him for a card, said I thought they were fab and he told me of their upcoming gig at Esquires in Bedford.

The band are a seven piece combo, with a brass trio of trumpet, sax and trombone. Definitely worth checking out. This was their closer for their set – dedicated to Luton…

On to Ruts DC. WOW! These guys really are still the biz. It was obvious at the Stranglers gig last year. Both I and the OH were blown away by them, and I had promised myself to see them again. There was a short set they did for BBC Radio 6 Music towards the end of last year that was shared via Facebook Live and seeing that just compounded how fabulous they are to me.

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Amazingly, when meeting Virginia Turbett, we got talking about other bands…who we like, etc (yes, it wasn’t ALL about SM and how many “fruitier” shots of Jim she had…) – and she’s a HUGE Ruts fan!

Rather bizarrely, when I first saw the gig on their FB page, I dithered about going. And continued to do so for WEEKS. I had just been to the SM gigs and so, for one, I was Skinty McSkintface. But I kept pondering it, thinking – it’s local, no travel costs, the ticket price is great…GO ON! And STILL I kept holding off, until Good Friday. I knew I’d end up regretting it if I didn’t go. So, that was it! Mind made up. Ticket bought.

And wow! Never to disappoint, these guys. A-MAZ-ING! An incredible wall of sound resonates from this trio. And they ROCK! Like, REALLY ROCK! They’ve not forgotten their punk roots…only difference is, THEY CAN PLAY! Geez! Can they play! To the degree they make it look like a piece of piss. A cake walk!

Last year, I really didn’t know any of their stuff. But over the year I’ve managed to take in Babylon’s Burning, Jah War and Mighty Soldier – all of which were on the setlist (I think any crowd would string ‘em up if they didn’t do Babylon’s Burning!), but so were Dangerous Minds, In A Rut, West One, Rude Boys, Music Must Destroy and Kill The Pain…all of which are really starting to make in impact on the brain.

I was in the bar last night (no, no drinking…just a place to sit for a bit) and Segs walked past me. I mouthed ‘hi’ to him and he said hello back to me. I couldn’t stop him. What would I say? At that point I was so ignorant, I didn’t even know his name! I just knew he was one of “the boys”. Since then (this morning), I have educated myself some and on who’s who, and a brief history of them.

As for last night and my VERY brief encounter with Segs…well, I wish I could have said, “Hi Segs, can’t wait for tonight. Would you mind signing this for me?” and produce my ticket stub with a pen (yes, Jim…I had a pen on me! Lol). But alas, I felt a fraud for being there and not even knowing his name!

Final words on the gig itself? A masterclass in performance. They are GOOD. Really good. Seriously. GO SEE THEM! I will be in future…again and again.

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A souvenir. If only I had had THIS with me for Segs to sign.

The YouTube clip was filmed pretty much where I was standing last night (the guy was behind me and just to my left) and was MUCH better than my Facebook Live clip.