And England’s Steaming…

On the train from Gatwick Airport to get to ma pal’s at Reading. Left Glasgow in the pishing rain at 16 degrees. It’s now 30 degrees where I am.

AM ROASTIN!

Minds, Deacon Blue and Caezar at Blenheim Palace tomorrow. Meant to have brought the weather with me for it. Yay!

More to come!

Kelly Jones + The Wind And The Wave – New Theatre, Oxford – September 18th, 2019

It was a new venue for me. I hadn’t been to a gig at the New Theatre before. I had wanted to try and catch a show on the previous leg of the tour in June/July but money was just too tight at that point, and although money is still tight, things are set to ease somewhat very soon. Kelly had swung by closer to home on the last leg, having dates in London and Cambridge, so Oxford was a stretch in distance to cover, but I would get to see the tour’s finale. Not an entirely bad thing.

The show started promptly at 7.30pm with support act The Wind And The Wave. A duo from Austin, TX, comprising Patricia Lynn and Dwight Baker. Kelly appeared on stage to introduce them saying “Patti could sing the fucking phonebook.”

I enjoyed their set. Due to the prompt start, there was the obligatory interruptions from endless latecomers. Made all the worse for some of us. I was right by the entrance point for the middle section of the circle so the interruptions were constant. The ushers kept latecomers at bay to try and minimise the interruptions, but seated where I was it helped little.

But I still managed to enjoy their set. Dwight was full in interesting banter between songs which sometimes Patti interjected with or elaborated on. Minimal instrumentation, just an acoustic guitar with Dwight and some electronic percussion triggered by foot from both of them. They had fantastic harmonies. Favourites they performed were The Redhead In Aberdeen, Happiness Is Not A Place, This House Is A Hotel, and Human Beings Let You Down. I’d happily see them again. Just beautiful, simplistic music that is beautifully expressive and on any subject affecting the human condition…from the sublime to the ridiculous.

A short break and stage set up before Kelly arrived on stage at 8.45pm. A brief hello and then straight on with things. A few slow numbers to open and just the use of acoustic or electric guitar from Kelly with either piano or violin – sometimes both – accompanying him.

Of course I was also there to see Cherisse. Out she came about the 5th song in and instantly reminded me what I have been missing while Simple Minds are on a break for this year. I MISS MY TUTOR! Lol. Yes…it’s a contradiction, I know…as while she’s touring, she’s too busy touring for any tuition. Still, with the money situ having been as tight as a duck’s proverbial of late, I’d have not been able to afford lessons anyway. Chicken and egg…

You’ll have to excuse my ignorance on my knowledge of Stereophonics songs and my appalling memory to recall the songs I heard last night. But I will do my best to go over the standouts for me.

The first definitely was Kelly talking about Stuart Cable. It was quite a reminiscent homage but it was wonderful to hear. He then performed Before Anyone Knew Our Name. Another highlight was a brilliant version of Mr Writer. “For the past 20 years I’ve been having to explain what this song is about. For the record, I don’t hate journalists. This song isn’t about a journalist.”

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He performed a new song from the forthcoming Stereophonics album, Kind, called Fly Like An Eagle.

Below is a video I recorded of him performing I Wanna Get Lost With You.

A couple of covers were also a standout. Kris Kristofferson’s Help Me Make It Through The Night was beautiful, and The Wind And The Wave joined Kelly on stage for a fabulous version of Stop Dragging My Heart Around.

Towards the end of the show some “hits” – the most familiar Stereophonics tracks I know – were performed. I never knew the story of Local Boy In The Photograph. Also there was a wonderful rendition of Maybe Tomorrow.

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Finally the most wonderful encore of Dakota that had the crowd up off their seats and singing along (me included!).

There are a few clips on my Facebook page if you want to look, including that wonderful Dakota finale.

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I tried so hard to get some good photos of the stage set. I really loved the backdrop. It was a simple set up, but it was just visually quite lovely. The stage arrangement was great too and the lighting worked really well. The staging was expertly done. And the acoustics and sound was absolutely spot on.

I’ve shared a few pics but they’re not the best.

A fabulous gig. I’d definitely see Kelly again in future.

Gigging Update – Gigs Added

Well, Saturday’s Trevor Horn gig is almost upon us – and I have amazing news…which I assume I am allowed to share publicly, seeing as he did tell me publicly on my Facebook timeline – Mick MacNeil will be at the show!!! Performing! Only for Brothers In Arms…but, still. For me this is monumental! I have never seen Mick perform in any capacity before. And even if it is only for one song, I cannot tell you how much I am bubbling with excitement about this!

After this gig, August is still quiet. There’ll be things to sort out on the home front in August.

In September things get going. On the 12th, a bit of home music with You Am I at The Garage in London. A newly added gig now – Kelly Jones in Oxford on the 18th. I missed the first lot of dates, so when Cherisse revealed through her social media that there was a smattering of new dates I went and had a look to see what was nearest (geographically) and Oxford was it. And just a few days before the drum show in Manchester. Cherisse will be sick of the sight of me! Lol

A few weeks break again…and then a little spell of gigs in October. Alice Cooper (with The Stranglers!) at the O2 London on the 10th. Then a trip down to Bristol for a new gig on the list – Toyah at The Fleece on the 20th. A gig with Birdy. Our time at The Stranglers gig in March was…erm…something and there hasn’t been much of a chance for us to have been out gigging together since. I dragged her along to John Grant (not TOTALLY unwillingly, mind…but she’s not as much of a fan of Love Is Magic – which he was showcasing on the tour – than previous material), so it is only fair I make amends. I’ve never seen Toyah. Can’t say I am a big fan…not because I don’t like her…just, she hasn’t been much on my music radar, that’s all. But I am looking forward to it.

We complete October by me going to see Belgian band Whispering Sons at The Moth Club in Hackney on the 25th.

The final extra gig is yet ANOTHER Stranglers gig. Ruth and I are making a little German holiday of it. First port of call is Hamburg on Dec 6th, then on we go to BERLIN!! (A many, MANY years “bucket list” destination for me…some reasons will be rather obvious…and we may just try and take in a tour of Hansa Studios, if we can…there’s a major clue as to why Berlin has been on the bucket list for so long) for the next gig on the 8th. Speaking of people getting sick of the sight of me. Lol. I think JJ and Baz may end up like that too!

This will make the number of times I have seen The Stranglers only surpassed by the number I’ve seen Simple Minds. I’m trying to get a quick tally in my head…I think by Berlin it’ll be 8 times.

So, that’s it, for now.

July 27th Trevor Horn – Glasgow

Sept. 12th You Am I – London
Sept. 18th Kelly Jones – Oxford
Sept. 21st UK Drum Show – Manchester

Oct. 10th Alice Cooper – London
Oct. 20th Toyah – Bristol
Oct. 25th Whispering Sons – London

Dec. 6th The Stranglers – Hamburg
Dec. 8th The Stranglers – Berlin

Review: Ruts DC – O2 Academy Oxford – February 18th, 2019

My first time for a gig at Oxford – and at this particular venue. The venue is pretty small…would maybe hold 750 tops. I like these size venues though, esp. for GA standing gigs.

The support act was The Professionals, with drummer (and Sex Pistols legend) Paul Cook the only existing original member of the lineup. I didn’t really look up the support act before the gig, so it was somewhat of a surprise when my friend and companion for the gig said that Cookie was playing as part of the support act. I’m getting my quota of drumming legends in these days!

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And as I didn’t know the support act that well, I didn’t know much of the material performed, although of course Silly Thing sounded familiar to me when it started. I think if I have things right they also performed Just Another Dream and Join The Professionals. Pretty sure they also performed I Didn’t See It Coming, and probably did 1-2-3 as well. It was a fast pace set as you would expect from a punk outfit. Short, punchy songs. Lots of energy. I enjoyed their set. Sound level was loud. My ears were stuffed before the Ruts even came on!

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And as for The Ruts? Well, we were given the full theatrical intro for what is a 40th anniversary tour of their debut album, The Crack. With a backdrop of a huge canvas print of the album’s artwork, they played the whole album in tracklist order, starting with their biggest hit, Babylon’s Burning – which I filmed.

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And of course, they just got tighter and tighter through the set. Segs seems like he should have been the frontman all along to me. No disrespect to Malcolm Owen intended at all, just me wanting to give credit to Segs. He’s fab and just takes it in his stride. They found an absolute gem of a guitarist in Leigh and, speaking as I did earlier of drumming legends…hell! For me, Dave Ruffy is right up there as one of the best drummers around. Sublime effortlessness.

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The setlist is pictured above. Nearly 24 hours later, and my ears are STILL ringing. If you’ve never seen them live and you like this genre of music (punk/ska/rock/pub rock), get along to one of their gigs. You won’t be disappointed. Honestly, they really are one of the best live bands going round right now. They never disappoint, and last night was no exception.

Spellbound Exhibition At The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

Now the summer is all but gone (officially ended as of Saturday…but seasonally not really over until autumnal equinox – which this year is on Sept 23 – obv. always in September…but can fall between the 21st to the 24th), and with only a smattering of gigs left this year, my mind was thinking on to having a look at what exhibitions I could try and get to in the autumn.

And by a strange twist of serendipty, early this afternoon I saw a post on Facebook from the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. They have an exhibition running until early January called Spellbound…to do with things superstisious and supernatural. On their post, they linked to a Guardian piece by writer Philip Pullman, regarding the exhibition and its subject matter. An absorbing read. You can read it by CLICKING HERE.

In his piece he mentioned the book below. It sounded so intriguing, I had order a copy on my Kindle. Looking forward to reading through it. It sounds more than the sum of its parts by Pullman’s description.

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