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.

I Need Some Rejuvenation!

Well, the packaging looks amazing. I will invest ASAP.

As for last night’s Stranglers gig? I suffered yet ANOTHER fainting spell. I felt unwell about 30 mins into their set. I sat down for a few mins, but was told to get back up for fear I’d be crushed. Bless his cotton socks! JJ saw me resurface and asked me if I was okay.

I mouthed back at him “yeah, I’m okay.” But I wasn’t. I fresh wave hit me a few minutes later and I was out for the count and hurled over the barrier and taken outside to recover.

More on this in my rather hampered review of the gig on Sunday.

In the meantime, I managed to capture photographic evidence that JJ does indeed smile sometimes!

Life In A Day – 40th Anniversary Single Review

We are nearing the release date of Simple Minds’ debut album, Life In A Day. From what I can deduce, Life In A Day – the track itself – was released as a single inline with their first appearance on television when appearing on the Old Grey Whistle Test on March 27th. As that day is a Tuesday, I am going to assume that the single would have been released a few days prior, on the Friday (March 24th).

So, happy 40th anniversary Life In A Day single! For some fun, I will review the single and the B Side, Special View.

I’ll try as much as I can to remember my feelings of listening to it for the very first time some 13 years ago…and again, almost entirely fresh almost 5 years ago now. Five years ago would have been my first ever listen to Special View. There was no 5×5 box out in 2006, so back then I heard the album as it originally was, with no B-side bonuses present.

Here goes!

LIfe In A Day: It reminds me of a song I loved as a kid. Part of the synth melody is similar. The song was called Computer Games by a New Zealand group called Mi-Sex. The Minds single pre-dates Computer Games by several months so any similarities would apply the other way round (that perhaps Simple Minds influenced the sound of Mi-Sex). And I never knew this until looking up info on them for this post, they named themselves Mi-Sex after an Ulatravox song!

It’s catchy. I like the guitar echo ending. Lots of synths. Like the “knock knock” sound. Lyrics are good. The song is quite moody. Best lines? “The premonition came true / look all around and you’ll see. Some say it takes two to know / or could it all just be me?” Not too keen on those word endings…ay ay aaaay. It’s got a good post-punk sound. The song makes you think. I don’t want something that’s purely visceral. It’s good to have something working the old grey matter.

It’ll grow on me, definitely.

Special View: I looooove that the song begins from a fade in. I really like the pace of it. I like the keys and guitar. It’s a basic riff but so catchy. That singer’s voice is really sultry. I bet he’s well sexy! (Jim…I’d have happily played with your basin cut, baby! 🤓🤗🤗😘😛😎)
I do love the song’s bridge. The jangly keys and and edgy guitar. Really changes the pace of it before settling back into that sultry meander.
I’ll probably get caned for saying it (Whip me, Jim. WHIP ME! Lol) – but I like the B side more.

It’s not to say I dislike Life In A Day, it’s definitely a grower – I just like Special View more. I am knocking my whole thing about preferring thought-provoking songs to something more visceral right on its head now, because my preference for Special View is because I find it ssoooo bloody sexy! Grrrr!

I’ve also mentioned in a previous post about the song specifically (and for lyric art I have done for the song) how I see stark, lucid imagery when listening to the song. A walled seafront. Waves crashing upon the walled promenade. A young woman waiting for her boyfriend to show up. The both of them walking along this walled seafront. The sky along the horizon looking both bright yet clouding over ominously. “The summer’s gone” says Jim, so it’s probably early autumn. Late September, so the sun is fading by 5pm and the air is brisk.

I have always loved the imagery that Simple Minds songs conjure up. And they mostly derive from Jim and his words, but obviously the musicality of the songs play a part too. King Is White And In The Crowd is a prime example of that.

Anyway…as for the overall rating of Life In A Day as a single? It’s a solid start as a debut single…I’d give it a 7/10

Rejuvenation CD/DVD Box Set Review – Mojo Magazine

A very favourable review of the Rejuvenation box set inside the latest edition of Mojo magazine.

Oh, and post New Gold Dream…Sparkle In The Rain (just as the first example) only went straight in at number one in the UK chart and spawned three hit singles…but “they seldom came anywhere near that masterpiece”. Okaaaaay…

It’s the only bit of the review that is questionable to me.

Is He Back? Is He REALLY Back?

In other news from the past 24 hours, I was stunned to wake and see this response waiting for me this morning. Like a mangey feral street dog, I’ll happily take any morsel I can get! 😊 (Can you tell I’ve missed him? “Noooooooo!” says everyone with faux shock. Lol)

Again, thanks for the response you beautiful, gorgeous man, you! (Yeah, I’m not excusing myself expressing gushing sentiment this time.)

And it seems I may have to extend my research into “people searching”…

UPDATE: Having gotten intrigued by Jim’s intrigue as to what happened to Johnny Waller and Lindsay Hutton, I did indeed go on a “people search”. Unfortunately, there is sad news when it comes to Johnny Waller. He died many years ago – details of which I found at this website here – https://www.kinemagigz.com/kingdom_come.htm

A curious thing with the Kingdom Come fanzine…I had not made the connection of Johnny Waller and the fanzine at all, until Jim mentioned it this morning. I even posted about an issue of the fanzine that came up on eBay last year…with an interview with Jim inside it. Use the blog search – type in “The Birth of Wan” and you’ll see the post (if it doesn’t show in the blog’s ‘linked posts’ metadata below).

As for Lindsay Hutton? He’s still active, and blogging away under the moniker of his old fanzine – Next Big Thing

Review: The Lemon Twigs – Roundhouse, London – February 27th, 2019

The Roundhouse is probably the handiest venue for me currently. A short journey on the Thameslink rail line from Luton to Kentish Town station and then a 20 minute walk from there to the venue. Easy!

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I arrived early enough, around 7.20pm. Support act Matt Maltese wasn’t due on until 8pm.

I found myself stood at almost the exact same spot I was in at the Franz Ferdinand gig last September…and I was getting a little apprehensive about it. I had fainted at the gig. The first time anything like that had happened to me. It was starting to play on my mind. But I just kept talking to myself, reassuring myself. Shortly after, I got chatting to a man next to me and it took my mind off it and distracted me enough for me not to worry and dwell on it. I also made sure that this time I had ample food and drink in me (and had water to hand should I feel the need to keep myself hydrated).

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Matt Maltese was quite good. I liked what I heard. He’s got a fairly “lo-fi” quality to him. Quite laid back. He performed several songs, of which Hello Black Dog was the standout for me. You’ll find a little snippet of it below. I’ll give his album a listen in the next few days. I really do think it’ll be something I’ll enjoy.

There wasn’t too much of a wait before The Twigs appeared. As soon as it hit 9pm, the crowd were getting restless…clapping and cheering for the guys to appear. On the Roundhouse FB page it stated they’d be on at 9.05 and there they were, almost on the dot and straight into Go To School opener Never In My Arms, Always In My Heart.

Michael had some of the girls in the crowd screaming from the off. Using all he gained from his years as a child actor, giving the most Jagger-esque of “rock star stud” performances.

Once done, Michael starts to talk about his meeting with legendary U.S. songwriter, Paul Williams, and how some mutual appreciation went on. To the point in which he says, “so I thought ‘fuck it, you know…and I sucked him off’.” Erm, okay Michael! Thanks for sharing! Lol. I got the distinct impression it was all bravado and very much tongue-in-cheek (or perhaps cock-in-cheek in this instance) and on they went into Foolin’ Around (which obviously he had been doing with his felating Paul Williams story).

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There is quite a distinction between the D’Addario boys. Michael is definitely the showman. All front, bravado, then pretend nonchalance. But, of course, the musicianship is there. Brian, conversely, brings the musicianship more to the fore with sublime vocals and maestro guitar playing (as well as some time behind the keyboard too). But he can let his hair down as well, but it’s always more controlled and more restrained to Michael’s bold theatrics.

It’s then Brian’s turn to shine, leading a wonderful version of Small Victories. Also on the amazing “influences worn unapologetically on sleeves” I Wanna Prove To You.

Other songs in the set included (sandwiched between the two songs just mentioned) This Is My Street, The Lesson, Hi & Lo, Light & Love, the beautiful These Words, Queen Of My School, Baby Baby, Tailor Made, Home Of A Heart, then a full showman display for The Fire – excerpt below – and finally As Long As We’re Together.

Instruments down. Guitars left playing feedback…the crowd were left wanting more. Only a few minutes were we left waiting for a solitary song encore of If You Give Enough.

Had this gig been on at the Roundhouse 50 years ago, it would not seem at all out of place. The D’Addario brothers really are not shy in melding all their influences together and spewing them forth. Everything is there. And that interplay between the studious Brian and the miscreant Michael is one that makes a Lemon Twigs gig really work. It’s showy, rocky, theatrical, brash yet sublimely rich musically. I left the gig wanting more. And I left so downhearted I had to miss seeing them play Saint Luke’s in Glasgow last week. But I also left knowing I’ll want to see them again and again!

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.