Category Archives: Live Review

WILLY FINLAYSON AND THE HURTERS

Last night at the wonderful Staines Riverside Club we witnessed rare magic when WILLY FINLAYSON AND THE HURTERS came to town bringing their smooth quality rock and soft ‘n’ soulful covers.

The last time we saw Willy in Staines was with his band project HALF MEAL TICKET, then with Steve Simpson (now in retirement) and Dean Barnes (much missed.)

Edinburgh born Willy is a talented guitarist, composer and extraordinary vocalist and he fronted Bees Make Honey (1974 ) and later the famous country rock band Meal Ticket. They provided the theme for the brilliant play-for-today “Dominick Hide”.

Willy Finlayson – Carnation-cream and tobacco voice…

In staines The Hurters played songs like the award-winning “She Will Be Loved” [Maroon 5] with its insistent chorus.

These were emotionally rendered, and even at times perhaps overwrought. Though Willy’s smouldering carnation-cream and tobacco voice helped  alleviate any anguish.

Classy blues numbers, such as “Crazy ‘Bout An Automobile (Every Woman I Know)” (Ry Cooder, 1980) had good rebound and veritable trim.

And for the many upbeat numbers (Bruce Springsteen is a favourite songwriter) Willy provided eloquent slur to go with that amazing golden brogue.

Dave Colquhoun – bullets of masculinity and power…

The great revelation of the night was the “new” guitarist Dave Colquhoun.

Dave is actually an experienced session man, currently with Rick Wakeman’s band.

He has his own band projects and previously worked with Go West, Paul Young, Belinda Carlisle, T’pau, Bananarama and, of course, Bucks Fizz.

Dave added bullets of masculinity and power to ballads such as “Hungry Heart” or dark twists of sadness or tiny bee stings of articulation… In other words, he provided nuance and fragrance to every soulful song. Such was his impressive play that he earned  several bravos of his own during the evening.

Tempo was provided by acclaimed blues bassist Malcolm Hoskins who was a firm and steadfast rhythmic-energy maker.

Towards the end of the evening we were treated to a few songs from “surprise guest” LIZA MARSHALL.

Her husky chocolate-syrup voice always wins applause, and her smooth song-choice included the singalong gospel number “People Get Ready” [Curtis Mayfield 1965.] This allowed Dave to express his more imaginative and jazzy side.

As usual, a very fine evening of quality musical entertainment in Staines.

Words & Images: @neilmach 2017 ©

Link: http://www.willyfinlayson.com/

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Rocking Hippie Party in Shepperton — LAUGHING STOCK FESTIVAL

The wonderful Jagger family of Shepperton again organized a super fun-packed day of music, peace and love in the Laughing Waters this weekend.

Remarkably, the sun managed to shine for the afternoon…

The wonderful Jagger family of Shepperton organized a super fun-packed day of music, peace & love…

The first LAUGHING STOCK FESTIVAL was held in 2005, when the Jagger family invited a few friends for a summer picnic by the river.

The event has grown over the years and raises funds for charities such as the Diabetes Society, Multiple Sclerosis Society, Eagle Radio Trust and Woking and Sam Beare Hospice.

The Woking and Sam Beare Hospice provides inpatient and community care to approximately 1,400 patients each year. They looked after Linda Jagger’s dad when he got very sick.

The hospice hopes to raise an additional £1.9m to deliver a new hospice service in the heart of Surrey that will be support generations to come.

JJ band – squelchy blues and authentic rhythm and blues…

The party started with some chilled sounds from Heids with acoustic support from the Jagger family’s own function & party outfit — the JJ BAND.

They also played a gladdening and cheerful full-electric set later in the day.

The full band comprises of Linda and Heidi on vocals, JJ and Al on guitars and with Byron and Tim providing the powerhouse bass and drums.

The outfit plays squelchy blues and authentic rhythm and blues, plus breathtaking soul and crackling pop. You can check them out at The Red Lion, Shepperton on Sunday 27th August.

Rifftakers – street-rock boogaloos…

Next up were THE RIFFTAKERS who play their own rhythm and blues brand in the tradition of The Rolling Stones and Yardbirds.

With fuzzy guitars, dynamic beats and party vibes, their street-rock boogaloos, accelerated rhythms and energetic performances provided the motivating force of the afternoon and soon the revelers rose from ground-sheets and picnic chairs to dance in unison.

Next was the super-smooth and super-efficient 8-piece GROOVELINE offering jazz, acid jazz, soul and disco  and who played a swish and dishy collection of funky hits culminating in the wonderful “Blame It on the Boogie” — got to be everyone’s favourite uptempo party-time number.

Grooveline – swish and dishy…

It was Grooveline singer Amy Nicholls’ last appearance with the band (for a while, any-ways) and bass-player Adam was taken sick [we wish him an early recovery] so he was replaced “last minute.”

After a very successful auction and raffle the three-piece roots band MANTIC MUDDLERS, from Petersfield, Hampshire, played some home-style, unfussy blue-grass and rhythm & soul numbers with exuberance and joy.

The lads will be playing the Victorious Festival in Portsmouth on 25th August. You should check them out…

The festival welcomed back the immensely talented local 5-piece rock-reggae band TREE HOUSE FIRE.

Tree House Fire – sonic damage deep down in your Mondongos —

This band are always a big hit, with bouncy, boom-boom songs and a bass line that walks impulsively down-the-line.

At Shepperton they delivered their lumpy, low-noted ditties, intrepid vocals and giddy-paced rhythms with verve and panache.

As we said before, this band causes, “sonic damage deep down in your Mondongos —”

We’ve often thought that experiencing the !DAFT!  cover band is as pleasurable as playing on a kids bouncy-castle wearing nothing but clotted cream…

Their hi-energy rock-covers are salacious & stimulating and at Shepperton the band played an unrestrained, rip-roaringly successful set that magnificently complemented  all the high-jinks and romping frolics at Laughing Water.

!Daft! — a celebratory mix of modern garage rock, post-punk and guitar pop rock…

Their delivery and execution was superb. No wonder they are  justifiably known as the best party band on the circuit.

Their celebratory mix of modern garage rock, post-punk and guitar pop rock is influenced by mid-1980s indie bands — but they easily and successfully turn their hands to garage rock, rock ‘n’ roll and even country when the time is right. And the band’s instinctive ability to “read the crowd” and recognize what is best to keep an audience on their feet is the hallmark of their success.

This was another gleeful and jubilant affair at Laughing Stock

A day of beads and feathers, flower power and gentle people — and, of course, lots ‘n’ lots of love.

LAUGHING STOCK FESTIVAL

Words & Images by @neilmach 2017 ©

Mantic Muddlers – exuberance and joy…

STACEY CRONIN + Asylum Affair at Staines Riverside Club

It’s been a while since the “Harlech Hurricane” sashayed her stuff on the Staines stage, accompanied by her conspicuously talented bandmates.

But this week we again enjoyed the power and potency of Asylum Affair with Stacey Cronin on lead vocals as they played their evocative power-ballads to an eager crowd at Staines pre-eminent music venue, the Riverside Club.

The line-up included John Lawrence (guitar) Gar Lando (drums) Colin Payne (bass guitar) and “the claw”     aka Mark ‘Wilko’ Wilkinson who recently “broke his arm” so couldn’t provide us with any sax on the evening but nevertheless still wizzed the keyboards.

The eighties make you feel nostalgic just thinking about them — and the charm of songs from that era live on in our hearts. Who does not love Belinda Carlisle, Whitesnake, Foreigner and The Bangles?

Songs are accompanied by sensitive organ ripples, flexible bass waves and foamy ridges of guitar…@neilmach 2017 ©

So Stacey sings lusty songs about breaking up and/or uncontrollable longing and all her hearty canzones are  accompanied by sensitive organ ripples, flexible bass waves and foamy ridges of guitar.

Some songs have been removed from the set-list since the last time we saw the band play in Staines…

However many of our favorites, such as “Love Is a Battlefield” (Holly Knight with Mike Chapman and made famous by Pat Benatar) have survived the cull and demonstrate the extraordinary power and finesse of Stacey. She has a distinctively soft, warm and raspy voice of sandalwood & bourbon whiskey.

A new number is “Stop!” the Sam Brown song (Brown, Sutton, and Brody 1988) brought with it with layers of sentiment. This was overwrought, almost highly-strung — and had a sense of neurosis surrounding it. The performance at Staines was so frenzied and nuanced that it left Stacey exhausted. She collapsed in a corner to recover while the band played a musical number.

Their old bossa nova piece “Parisienne Walkways” has been replaced with another number that allows the band to show off their expertise and effectiveness. It’s been traded for the funkier “Let’s Dance” (Bowie, 1983) with John pulling-off the Stevie Ray Vaughan solo at the end with flair and confidence.

the band showed off their expertise and effectiveness…
Here John Lawrence w Colin Payne @neilmach 2017 ©

Soon after “Alone” – the ‘Heart’ chart hit – written by Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly – Stacey announced that “We’ll play the ‘other’ Heart song too…” — thus neatly summarizing the Wilson sisters career.

So the band lunged into the next head rush song with enthusiasm. We were reminded of the low tones of Grace Slick (perhaps not surprising, since the Starship’s trooper was known for contributing to Heart’s recordings) and also the flavor of Steve Nicks

Never Tear Us Apart” (INXS 1988) was another superlative addition to the repertoire, with drama and passion in each corner and layer-upon-layer of ritzy synth.

Stacey Cronin and Asylum Affair at Staines Riverside Club @neilmach 2017 ©

Perhaps most enjoyed were the Fleetwood Mac songs, and especially “The Chain” from Rumours (1977) with its well-known instrumental section associated with Formula One.   And “Rhiannon” a first-half closer — taken from the predecessor album, Fleetwood Mac (1975.)

Purple Rain” (Prince, 1984) in the second half – also gave room for John’s extended solo.

And this time the ‘Giant of the Bass’ Colin stayed in his seat (he’s still recovering from a medical procedure, we wish him a full recovery) but managed to provide undoubted fervour and gusto to the rhythms along with the über-talented Gar Lando on drums.

This was a dazzling and magnificent concert with Stacey as radiant and charming as always and the band playing at its very best.

Intoxication and rhapsody in every heartbeat.

Words & Images: @neilmach 2017 ©
Link: https://www.facebook.com/asylumaffair/

JAZZ KNIGHTS ORCHESTRA — STAINES

Drummer Cliff Longhurst has played with Matt Monro, Frankie Laine, Bert Weedon , Anne Shelton, Helen Shapiro, Nat Gonnella, Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent (among many others) and has toured with Herb Miller (Glen’s brother) — in addition to working as musical director for several well-known television shows. His JAZZ KNIGHTS ORCHESTRA came to Staines this week to put on a fantastic spectacle at the famous Riverside Club.

The orchestra delivered power and determination as they put on an extraordinary performance that rewarded us with the sounds & moods of Woody Herman’s big band era — the 1930s and 1940s.

A golden syrup of sax – Photo Credit: @neilmach 2017 ©

Starting with a complicated arrangement of “The Good Earth” composed by jazz trumpeter Neal Hefti, we were treated to a golden syrup of sax and beautifully chromatic trumpet — the ambitious number was endowed with attitude, passion and enormous scope.

Herman’s “The Preacher” was a cluster of sound textures with an excellent solo by Nick Charles.

Richard Rodgers’ “Sound of Music” found on Herman’s “My Kind of Broadway” was a first-class re-telling with zestful vibraphone and potent walking bass.

Rattling rhythms from Longhurst himself – @neilmach 2017 ©

The 15-piece Jazz Knights also treated the audience in Staines to lighter pop numbers such as “Killing Me Softly” [Charles Fox] and “Light My Fire” [the Doors] and a wondrous version of the Beatle’s “Hey Jude.”

The stand-out number was, perhaps, the band’s touching rendition of Sid Tepper and Roy C. Bennett’s romantic “Red Roses for a Blue Lady” made famous by singer Vic Dana. This nostalgic piece had a full-on big-band ‘feel’ with rattling rhythms from Longhurst himself and some articulate trumpet.

This was a joyful evening of swing-era jazz, a little bebop, gentle fusion and sophisticated pop — brilliantly polished, propellant and propulsive — yet relaxed in all the right places.

Thanks again to the Staines Riverside Club for hosting another unforgettable evening.

Words & Images : @neilmach 2017 ©

Link: http://www.jazzknightsorchestra.com/

STAINES LAMMAS BRASS BAND — Springtime Spectacular

This Sunday the STAINES LAMMAS BRASS BAND hosted a superb “Springtime Spectacular” concert of popular songs at the ancient St Mary’s Church in Staines.

We went along to see the show.

Our favourite was probably Ramin Djawadi’s theme from the HBO’s television series “Game of Thrones…”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After an excellent introduction — “The March of the Peers” [ by Arthur Sullivan, from Iolanthe] with skilfully interpreted passages and perfectly controlled rhythms, the band was presented by the experienced musical director conductor / garrulous musical director Lee Woodward who was appointed MD of the Staines Lammas band in 2014.

Lee introduced us next to an overture by Austrian composer Franz von Suppé, “Morning, Noon, and Night in Vienna.” The piece incorporated a pensive solo that overflowed with emotion.

After that, we enjoyed another eloquent solo, this time featuring Steve Burgess [ the principal cornet player.] Steve also plays with Alder Valley brass and the Freedom Brass Quintet. The poignant number was Dvořák’sRusalka’s Song to the Moon.”

This is about a water nymph who falls in love with a prince …” Lee told us before the start. “But, of course this is an opera. So, as you can imagine, it doesn’t end well …

Modern numbers in the entertaining programme included “Baggy Trousers”

Modern numbers in the entertaining programme included “Baggy Trousers” by Madness [arr Alan Fernie.]

And Hans Zimmer’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.

Our favourite, though, was probably Ramin Djawadi’s theme from the HBO tv series “Game of Thrones.”

The band managed to perfectly convey the expectations of the show, all those dead-reckonings and impressive crownings.

Bohemian Rhapsody” by Freddie Mercury [arr. Darrol Barry] was magnificent and perhaps we don’t entirely realize what an incredible achievement this piece of music this is until it’s heard performed this way.

And just before the interval we enjoyed a little game of “guessing the melody” when the band played “The Lone A-ranger” by Philip R. Buttall.

Many thanks to Staines Lammas Band for offering us a very pleasant afternoon of masterful music. And also thanks to the Reverend and staff at the Church of St Mary’s for making us feel welcome.

The next Staines Lammas Brass Band concert is on Sunday 25th June 11.00 at the Staines Upon Thames Day, Thames Street.

Also see them perform on July 9 at the Staines Lammas Park, at 2 pm.

Words & Pictures: @neilmach 2017 ©
Link: http://www.staineslammasband.co.uk/

JFK — Album Launch Show

JFK (also known confusingly as JFK Blues] is a London /Surrey five piece band that has been playing their rock ‘n’ rolling blues — spiced with jazzy manouche touches — for about a year or so.

If John Etheridge met Ray Davies at Le QuecumBar and they discussed a rhythm and blues project — this is probably how it would have turned out…

The band is composed of some very experienced musicians — PAUL BLOUNT on keys who once lived in L.A. and worked with Jeff Beck, SOL EZRA on drums [an early member of Talk Talk] gypsy-rock guitarist IAGO BANET ; LES ‘LEO’ VICTOR on bass [he played with the Blockheads] and the youngest member of the outfit — lead vocalist/guitar CHRIS ELLIOTT who they found busking at Covent Garden Tube and invited along for the ride.

Paul Blount on keys – they bring blues, jazz, pop and boogie to the people…
Picture by Neil Mach

We attended the “Rough Round The Edges” album launch show at the legendary 100 Club in London’s West End this week.

We enjoyed JFK’s beautifully crafted self-penned songs that began with “St Joseph” and had mellow, mid-tempo beats and instantly catchy melodies.

Chris Elliott’s poignant and cheery R&B voice on songs like “Shadowlands” reached clear trebles without too much difficulty — and this talent helped to take the sounds from blues origins and into pop-rock territory whilst still retaining the genre’s emotional content.

If we really had to designate their brand we would say the JFK sound is similar to that of the Alexis Korner band — in other words, they bring blues, jazz, pop and boogie to the people…

We’re not really a blues band…” Chris shouted to a passionate audience… directly before the band embarked on yet another raw-blues number — this one adorned with flinty peaks of guitar and a boogie underbelly.

We enjoyed the really excited rhythmic patterns and the cleverly woven guitar songs, such as “Having a Real Good Time.”

Often these songs had insistent backwoods blues-vibes that took us directly to those all-night parties down on 18th and Vine.

This was a poetic and vibrant show delivered by a pack of musicians who have clearly spent a lifetime entertaining their audiences.

Words & Images: @neilmach 2017 ©
Link: https://www.facebook.com/JFK4Blues/

See next:

The Old Ticket Hall, Windsor 14th April
The Bull’s Head, Barnes 1st May

Excited rhythmic patterns and the cleverly woven guitar songs…
Photo: Neil Mach

GODSPELL — by Eagle House at Wilde Theatre

It’s Lent so we decided to get “churched up” this week.

We headed to the excellent Wilde Theatre, at South Hill Park to see the Eagle House [ School in Sandhurst] present their GODSPELL.

The 1971 show with music by Grammy award winning Stephen Schwartz [Enchanted ] and a loose script based on the Gospel of Saint Matthew ( originally re-envisioned by playwright John-Michael Tebelak) is a popular show for touring companies and has enjoyed many revivals.

The structure of the GODSPELL musical is a series of parables interspersed by rock arias that have been inspired by the Book of Psalms.

The structure of the musical is a series of parables interspersed by rock arias that have been inspired by the Book of Psalms.

The original London production starred characters like Julie Covington, David Essex, Jeremy Irons and Marti Webb. We were fortunate enough to have seen the original West End Wyndhams production back in 1972. But we love to see new productions and were excited to see the Eagle House show.

In the Seventies the stage show was a fluid and conceptual performance. It borrowed elements from dance, music and circus to tell the story of “Christ’s Passion”.

In the early days of the stage-show the figure of Christ was dressed as a clown. His “tribe” were portrayed as a group of irresponsible, long-haired hippies.

Now the hippie clothing is gone, because today’s youth movements tend to be associated more with athletic trainers and sportswear. The younger elements of the Eagle House Godspell Team wore printed t-shirts with the hash-tagged “Godspell logo” while main cast members wore distinctive tartans.

The magnificent Wilde Theatre is perfect for this kind of innovative, unpretentious presentation. At Godspell the audience was seated on all four sides of the staging.

After the exultant sound of a brass shofar the audience and cast “Prepared” for the “Way of the Lord”. This first song was an exceptionally compelling and enthusiastic number, sung by the whole cast [all five teams] who circled the newly baptised Christ in a spiritual state. Followers were given rubber wristbands to show their affiliation and discipleship.

Exceptionally compelling and enthusiastic…

A characteristic of the earliest shows, and all theatrical productions since, has been topicality.

Once we saw Godspell during the period known as the Three-Day Week, this was in the “power-cut Seventies” and the big joke was that it didn’t matter how dark things got because the audience was “The light of the World.”

Similarly, during the storytelling from Eagle House we had mentions of Facebook, Premier Inn, Justin Bieber and Fake News.

And of course the big, rich baddie (before “All for the Best” ) was Donald Trump.

Ben Trunck, perhaps shorter in stature than we expected, played a fascinating Jesus character — full of vivid personality. While Mark Dickin interpreted Judas skulking presence perfectly.

A feeling of “loving community” encompassed everything…

Each year group of Eagle House wanted to stage their own parable and musical number — so this meant the show was a wonderful consolidation of excellent sketches — each interconnected with the next.

The overall experience, from the perspective of the audience, was a feeling of “loving community” that encompassed everything.

Day By Day” always was — and still is — the most memorable song from the show and in Basingstoke the number was handled intelligently and with sympathy.

All Good Gifts” was brilliantly choreographed and elegantly efficient. Also, at one point, after “Save the People” we had an army of scary zombies grabbing at souls…

There was humour, movement, excitement and tenderness throughout the show — with great dramatic use of simple objects, like the coloured blocks.

Our favourite song was “On The Willows” — it came after the Last Supper scene. Psalm 137 — from which the song is taken — has been set to music by several composers over the years and the lament found in Godspell is possibly the best of all of them. The Eagle House vocalists performed the difficult harmonies with distinction.

This was an excellent production.

All 128 cast members [ages 9 to 13] should be congratulated, as well as their staff at Eagle House and the committed parents who made it all possible.

5 Stars

Words: @neilmach 2017 ©
Links: https://www.facebook.com/pg/SouthHillParkArtsCentre
http://www.eaglehouseschool.com/

Godspell at The Wilde Theatre, South Hill Park was ann amateur production presented by special arrangement with Samuel French Ltd