Category Archives: Live Review

Frayed Knot

Jolly Farmer Hythe Staines
Saturday 7th February 2009


Frayed Knot

“There’ll be no more –aaaaaahhhhh!”

Frayed Knot is one of the first of the Staines superbands to go public (expect some more in the coming months.) I am not really suggesting that these knotty boys are the new ‘Velvet Revolver’ or anything like that (to be honest) all I am saying is that this band is a superband as defined: It is an ensemble of competent musicians playing together as part of a separate yet meaningful project. Most musicians tend to do this kind of thing all the time anyway…it helps to oil the works and it also harmonises concepts and musical approaches…but the ‘side projects’ either gradually fade away or they become ‘main projects’ before too long. It will be interesting to see how the boys from Frayed Knot develop this initiative.

The problem with the local ‘covers band’ scene is that loyal live music punters end up hearing the same-old lame-old songs played in much the same way each week… week-in-week-out. This is because, as a ‘covers artist’, you are ‘expected’ to achieve a faithful representation of the original article. It is almost as if you are obligated to create a genuine ‘photocopy’ of the song – and it must be portrayed exactly as it is fondly remembered. And there are only ‘so-many’ songs that are straight forward enough to cover and also easy enough to recognise.

This approach to covering songs reminds me of the 80’s TV Show “Copy Cats” (starring comedians like our very own Staines hometown hero Bobby Davro) who would, supposedly, do amazing impersonations of our fave celebs each week. So,inevitably, you ended up getting a pile of Eastenders and Dallas impressions and the highpoint of the show was Andrew O’Connor doing a ‘hiarious’ Rik Mayall or Hilary O’Neil doing a marvellous Sybil Fawlty… in the end you were crying out for one of the stars to ‘do’ something ‘new’.

But if, as a covers musician, you dare to tamper with a sacred song- for example you might be tempted to add a bit of a fringe to the bottom of “Whole Lotta Love” or a tiny bit of lace to the collar of “Be-Bop-A-Lula” or you might even wish to embroider the pockets of “Baggy Trousers” with a couple of extra chords – then the audience will look at you in that special way that the vicar does when you let out an almighty fart in church. You will know, deep deep down, that you have committed a terrible sin in the eyes of the Lord and of the congregation, and you will realise- soon enough- that you deserve to be dunked, like a witch, into a vat of boiling urine as penance for such a terrible and unspeakable outrage.

Each week Simon Cowell implores contestants on the “America’s Got The X-factor Pop Idol” show to ‘interpret the song’ or to ‘re-imagine’ the song and he often tells the performers to ‘be themselves’. But this sensible advice doesn’t seem to go down too well in the whole pub ‘covers’ band industry. (Incidentally, this ‘industry’ is starting to become a big money affair with quite a few very accomplished and worthy musicians earning tidy sums of money in various tribute bands up and down the country.)

So it was a great treat to watch a band who were not scared to try some new covers, put a bit of a twist onto some familiar tunes and to add their own flavour and seasoning to some of the more traditional songs. So we enjoyed some ‘Snow Patrol’, ‘Oasis’,‘Killers’, ‘The Fratellis’ and ‘The Automatic’ but we also had some grand old  ‘Eddie Cochran’ and a thick slice of ‘Black Sabbath’.

John Hulme is the larger-than-lifesize Andrew Strong type lead singer. He is a very powerful man with a huge set of battle-cruiser lungs and he could crush and squeeze every last drop of juice from the songs in the Frayed Knot song-book. I especially liked his rasping, teasing, wheezing approach to AC/DC’s ‘Back in Black’ which was superbly accompanied by Mark Hamilton on lead guitar and Lee Ridley on rhythm.

It is my long-held tradition – whenever I see a band attempting to cover an AC/DC number- to loudly demand that the lead guitarist gets up onto the back of the lead singer for a ‘walkabout’ into the crowd. On this occasion though, I reluctantly decided against the notion- mainly because the Health & Safety Executive would put me on their Most Wanted list… John is approx 6’13 and Mark looks to be well over 5’10, but the ceiling at the tiny Jolly Farmer public house provides only about 7 foot clearance!

The boys went on to cover “Morning Glory” (Oasis) with a fine performance by John and some nifty percussion by drummer David Bateman and also went on to give a delightful cover of “Every Rose Has Its Thorns”. Without a doubt my favourite tune was a remarkable rendition of the Red Hot Chili Peppers staple “Give It Away” with an enormous chunky base by Garry Pierrepont and finely cut slices of lead guitar from Mark…and the very tricky vocals were spot on. To be fair, the boys are not as good-looking or as energetic as Anthony and Flea – but I am sure that they must be very gifted in other departments (nudge-nudge wink-wink).

This band tends to concentrate on the catchy anthemic confectionery of recent years so, when you see ‘em (and I very much recommend that you do) you can expect some sing-along modern-day hymns. The indie tunes that they cover do not come across as stale or unnecessarily slick or formulaic. There is definitely an authentic and sincere heart beating away deep inside the creature that is Frayed Knot. Yes, their music is pop-infused and can, at times, be a bit sugary and feel-goody (in a cotton-candy party-time kinda way) but this approach is just right for the Staines pub scene. So the boys play the songs that make the crowd yelp with joy, but served up with a sabre-sharp ice-cool quality that would make lesser bands look on enviously.

One of the ‘finale’ songs of Frayed Knot was the Gilmour tune “Comfortably Numb” originally by either ‘Pink Floyd’ or ‘The Scissor Sisters’ depending on your point of view. In the best traditions of a typical pub on a Saturday night in Blighty, the exact pedigree of this song managed to cause a kerfuffle in the crowd with a few strong words and rude gestures slung about and things looked pretty ugly for a few moments when half the crowd started to bellow “It is a f*** floyd song” to be shouted down by the other half who screamed “No, everyone knows its by the f*** Scissors Sisters” (sic)

So we got to the end of the last set (via a whole pile of indie hits and even a rendition of the “Theme Tune from Horrid Henry” ) to the happily bouncing chug-a-chugging piping-hot version of the two-tone Madness ska hit “Night Boat to Cairo” (I am sure that Foulplay also finish on that one) and the boys took their well-earned bow and a heartfelt ovation from a slightly over-excited crowd. A fine tribute to a great sounding tribute band.

Keep the covers coming boys, by all means, but please be sure to keep a little of yourselves in each of the interpretations.
Good work.

© Neil_Mach
Jan 2009


!Daft! Old Ticket Hall Windsor

Windsor & Eton Station


Daft are a local professional bunch of masculine male musicians with a squeaky-clean lady friendly image and a clean-cut next-door-neighbour following of young good-looking entrepreneurs and their gorgeous girlfriends.  If you like modern alt-rock music perfectly pitched for an affluent audience and sumptuously rehearsed and presented then !daft! is for you. Covers include work by Killers, Green Day, Queen, Guns N Roses, Manics, Fratellis, Michael Jackson, Oasis.

One of my favourites, when I saw the band LIVE at OLD TICKET HALL WINDSOR, was “Monster” by The Automatic. If you are thinking of modern, honey-sweet, anthemic alt-rock Indie sounds then you have got the right idea. But the boys can also belt out some whoppers and the soundcheck was Free’s “Wishing Well” with a really grinding and even menacing attitude…nice and sleazy.

The band also performs some Darkness and Queen tracks which go down a treat with the punters. The carefully groomed and manicured performance of the high-larking vocalist Graeme Nash ( a smiling sunshine timeshare salesman-type yuppie boy of brylcream boyband and sqeaky clean credentials) helped to make these tracks a sing-song success. The support from Gary & Phil on guitars and Nick on bass is about as smooth as half a jar of peanut butter spread upon Kylie’s inner thigh and about as polished as a recently greased up snowboard.

The result from all this hard graft is a solid workaday performance as reliable as well-oiled machinery in a Swiss clock factory and as enjoyable as a bouncy castle party wearing nothing but clotted cream and your jim-jams. Lots of fun and plenty of keypoint moments to look back upon. An exciting and energetic vibe.

!Daft! totally out-perform your expectations and are simply a class act.

I saw the band at the OLD TICKET HALL WINDSOR…this venue is now the only authentic and truly exclusive LIVE MUSIC venue in
the Windsor area. The acoustics are a problem (the room is actually the old William Tite ticket office c 1849) but the
space is truly historic and buzzes with a friendly energy and effervescent excitement. The public space is a high horseshoe
shaped room with large rear doors leading out onto the station platform and a bar that is placed smack inside the ticket office. The stage is built up and sits in front of the huge windows overlooking the enormous bar area. Lots of terrific looking visitors and excellent drinks and service make this an ideal base for any music loving locals to come and spend some quality time with like-minded live music enthusiasts.

The best thing about The Old Ticket Hall is that it is just a few stops down the line from STAINES to Windsor & Eton Riverside station so will cost only about a fiver from Staines…a big savings on minicab fares…. so it makes your spendin money go a lot further.

© Neil_Mach
Jan 2009


Windsor Eton Riverside Station, Windsor, Berks SL4 1QG

Feb 2009 DATES FOR YOUR DIARY at Windsor Old Ticket Hall

Feb 5 2009      9:00P    OPEN MIC NIGHT
Feb 6 2009     9:00P    VELVET HEARTS
Feb 7 2009     9:00P    SECRET SQUIRRELS formally known as THE RIOTS
Feb 12 2009     9:00P    OPEN MIC NIGHT
Feb 13 2009     9:00P    NETHERWORLD
Feb 14 2009     8:00P    EMBERS     WINDSOR
Feb 19 2009     9:00P    OPEN MIC NIGHT
Feb 20 2009     9:00P    GROUPER

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2 Sick Monkeys

Thursday 29th January 2009

2 Sick Monkeys

2 Sick Monkeys

When the strange character (looking like the spurned son of 70’s comic Bobby Ball- I piggin’ hate you, Tommy) burst onto the stage and screamed “Hello, Goodbye! We are havin’ a party… you’ll f**** love it!” the audience automatically started to protect their softer nether regions whilst backing carefully and slowly away in a wide-eyed and anxious state of alarm. Groomed hair was about to become dangerously ruffled, unsullied minds were about to be torn up and messed with, and the pretensions and mediocrities of living a comfortable and predictable life in Staines were about to be pushed violently aside in an anarchic attack upon our precious Surrey/Berkshire claims and soft eardrums. Then the chattering, rolling, thundering onslaught upon nerves and ears proceeded. And what a pleasure the pain truly was.

Pete Tower is the bass playing virtuoso mad-monkey frontman…a highly volatile incarnation of Ian Dury, combustible and highly unpredictable. He should be marked ‘danger UXB’ and placed in a lead-lined box for safety. Instead he is whirling around our pub like an out-of-control firecracker spitting and hissing like some cross between a banshee and a venomous python. He is smiling one minute- snarling and grimacing the next. He is up. He is down. He is enraged, he is calm. Hello, goodbye… he is all the things you hate and everything you love. He is like a one-man chemical reaction to everything you have to endure in this filthy world -releasing a spontaneous spume of exothermic energy into the cold night air.

Accompanying him on the drums is the one-man percussive army of Fred Nus whose style is so self-confident and aggressive that he would have triumphed single-handedly against the Persians at Thermopylae in 480 BC and would have told the 300 that they
were ‘as soft as shite’ and to ‘sod off back to Sparta’ because he has got it ‘all in hand’.

The band played a rollicking selection of what Pete called ‘jazz songs’ and he continued to insist (because nobody dared to argue with this profane mad-hatter mentalist, no matter how tongue-in-cheek) that 2 Sick Monkeys were a West Country Jazz band. But the rapid street level gutter punk-politics of threatening, gesturing and gurning were always there like a bad smell in the kitchen sink.

My favourite song in the 2 monkeys scrapbook was “Why” as in…”Why are we always making bombs? Why do we have to suck so much American cock? Why? Why Why?”  Pete is like the Banksy of punk rock. Many of the 2 songs are nice n’ easy to follow … 2-bit 2-word choruses 2-chord riffs and 2 part formulas.  But these stencilled 2-dimensional guerilla songs disguise an anti-establishment, anti-war and anti-capitalist profusion of rage and hysteria…albeit nicely packaged into neat and carefully presented tasty titbits for the world-weary consumer.

Pete is like the intellectually superior wino-vagrant that you see (but try to ignore) each morning in the shop doorway. Moist, dishevelled, smelly, rotten, revolting even; But he is genuine in a way that you are not. He is contented in a way that you will never be and- most importantly- he can chat his way out of things and rat his way into things in a way that you will never be able to copy. He uses an astonishing display of erudition that leaves you way, way behind …you are completely out of your class with this grinning , gymnastic, gold-winning, mindgaming street athlete and the mental stunts that he can perform.

I absolutely loved it that the 2 Sick Monkeys ripped apart the entrails of Green Day’s “American Hero” before flinging the remains of this ‘sacred song’ unceremoniously onto the dancefloor for the grovelling masses to recoil from in feign horror. The band interpreted this song ‘as played by Slipknot’ but I noticed that Fred Nus provided the true and clear Green Day chorus towards the end of the number. This was a tried-and-tested theatrical device that helped to alleviate the unconcealed pressure that was building up in the minds of  loyalist punks everywhere and was successful in restoring the song back into the hearts of the punters as a worthy punk anthem.

The bass attack of Pete has to be seen to be believed. I am sure that I have never witnessed such competent, confident and yet furious bass-playing before. In normal circumstances virtuosity is frowned upon in the world of punk rock. But the credentials of this worthy band are intact because it is a two-piece and so, you tell yourself, Pete has to be a remarkable player…just to get the most from this limited set-up. The band bill themselves as ‘A small outfit with a big sound’ but this doesn’t do justice to the mighty accomplishments of these two West Country performers. The cider with rosie, wooden skittles and smell of sawdust is never far away- not surprising for a band from Wootton Bassett, Swindon but the two punksters-extraordinaire also project an authentic and very urban sound and style- almost as alienating and as it is intense
-feelgood punk sound as it should be.

A tactical assault on your sensibilities… walk the fine line between hope and despair with 2 Sick Monkeys as soon as you can… it is essential.

© Neil_Mach
Jan 2009


Feb 13 2009     8:00P The Victoria         Swindon
Feb 14 2009     8:00P F*** Valentine     The Grosvenor     Stockwell
Feb 21 2009     8:00P The Victoria         Deptford
Feb 27 2009     8:00P The Gaff              London
Feb 28 2009     8:00P New Cross Inn     London

Keep checking AdPontes-Staines for news, reviews, articles and gig-guide

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Gravity is Dead

Sunday 25th January 2009

Gravity is Dead

Gravity is Dead

But There is Plenty to Hold On To

It is said that gravity is much weaker than it should be. They say that this is because it has the ‘other’ eleven-or-so dimensions  to deal with. They say this will all be revealed once we start to get results from the Large Hadron Collider. So, to quote Laura Veirs, it does look like “Gravity is Dead”.

When the Surrey band of the same name came to the stage at The Hobgoblin, Staines last Sunday I said to myself, “Go on surprise me…make me go whoop”.  And this they did.
‘Gravity is Dead’ is a local garage punk band who can achieve moments of blinding and uplifting brilliance and also plunge the wells of the purest yet darkest thoughtfulness. The heavy-ish choppy guitar sounds are insistent and tight- reaching melodic highlights at times and reminding me of vintage Lightning Seeds.

Their combined musical ability is all-too-real and the slow-burning ‘You Don’t Understand’ starts with Led Zep ‘Stairway’ type unplugged sounding chords before tapping out much more complex rhythms and building up to an intense and satisfying conclusion.

To the question, put to the audience by lead singer James, “What’s Your Name?” the answer was a feeble ‘Nigel’ hollered from the back of the room, near to the gents bogs. Then the band replied by playing an upbeat and harmonic tune with plenty of colourful melodic phrases ( more ‘Vines’  than ‘Hellacopters’ but in the same tradition as both.) Slowest song of all in the band’s scrapbook was the genteel swayer “Put Up A Fight” packed with plenty of feel-good colours and tones. A jamboree bag of the most comforting vibes.

When I slipped off to the gents, the pub’s resident-in-chief Mersey-born piss-head said to me, in his drunken state, “Tunes…they are all just tunes…and I suppose if you like tunes then you’ll like this lot.”  And, even if he was not trying to be complementary, he was right.

Clean-cut Joe Williams’ lead guitarwork is insistent and threatening – think of the Swedish ‘Hives’ guitarist Vigilante Carlstroem to get the idea- but each nuance and squeak is optimized and tweaked by this ‘city-trader’ looking control-freak to get the most out of the frets. Joey Godzikowski (drums) rattles out a good solid blaze-of-glory beat without unnecessary flourishes or flamboyance.  Long haired (starve a hippy) bass-player Ben Sinfield is as reliable as an Army Hummer on a dusty desert track in the Kandahar province; Muttering firmly onwards, he is not looking too hard for any trouble.

Most of the focus of the crowd is on the red-fringed centre-forward named James Tate (vocals and guitar) whose controlled aggression reminded me of a Spanish matador… gradually wearing down the prizebull (in this case the crowd) with his patient toying and exciting, yet casual, flirtations with peril. Tinkering with tragedy-  he keeps the crowd t-t-tense with anticipation. And then finally, when we cannot take the intensity any more, he rises for the kill.

And so the songs continued, always played with a ribald punky edge, towards the coup de grâce conclusion of the self-titled
song ‘Gravity is Dead’ that yearns to be a major hit and is built as solidly and as proudly as the hurricane bow of an aircraft carrier. Powerful, commanding and secretly deadly.

But then, when the final stage of the performance was all but over and the faena was complete, the braying crowd started to plead for mercy and just one more, final, song. So ‘Space’, the band’s most famous track, was dusted down and presented by James as a tasty treat. It was provided as an after thought. A bit like the host of a posh dinner party forgetting the after-eight mints at the end of the meal and so offering them to the guests as they bundled, blinking, out of the front door.  This song starts like the Muse song ‘Take A Bow’ and also kinda reminds me a lot of the Wolverhampton art-rockers Zoo Babylon track ‘Spaceman’ both in lyrical content and in ambition. It was a great final course but would’ve been better if served with coffee…

So, before you get too worried about losing your grip on this- or any other world, (at least for the moment) – I think you can assume that ‘gravity can hold you down… ‘

© Neil_Mach
Jan 2009


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Enjoy Destroy

Enjoy Destroy

Enjoy Destroy

Come…let’s play…

Enjoy Destroy have been favourably compared to Juliette & The Licks, Biffy Clyro and Silverchair. Their melodic compositions,
enhancing light and shade and underlining the excesses and the vulnerabilities of this modern age, are tempered by post-grunge anxieties of doom and guilt yet feel welcome in these crunchy & uncertain times of highs and lows.

I saw Basingstoke’s highly favoured sons on a chilly Monday night at the Boileroom, Guildford, and the place was like a statically charged play-pen of anticipation!

The good looking boys have recently been supporting ‘My Vitriol’ on tour and, during this set of live dates, they have built up an astonishing and enviable stage presence and an aura of reliability, trust and sheer musical quality that was fully demonstrated on the Surrey stage.

Enjoy Destroy tested a couple of new tracks on their oh-so friendly supporters but it was the familiar funstuff that the crowd had come in from the cold to celebrate. And, wow, was it not food for the masses? Truly a symphonic sacrament.

Most folk would choose ‘Screamer’ as the iconic Enjoy Destroy song. It starts with a goth-sounding stomach churning chord
line from Freddie that settles down to a rumbling and regular chug-a-chug rising to a sensible and catchy chorus. Lots of
peaks and troughs though… a sure sign of each Enjoy Destroy song.

‘Holiday Lover’ with its kooky harmonisations, chord based anthemic vibes from Chris – along with plenty of syrupy smooth
lead breaks- contrasted well with ‘Rifles’ and the screech and whine of machine chop-shop metals, entwining together with tribal thumping from drummer Tommy, in this futuristic industrial soundscape.

The trademark sound of Enjoy Destroy is the heavily melodic mix of guitar, bass and drums building up a rich tapestry of interwoven
riffs and nifty sequences. The results are often colourful, majestic and sonically influential landscapes.

‘Mactier’ is a favourite song, with a heavily bass influenced riff (Ted) that tends to slightly fade away to reveal, like a gift from the thunder gods, a simply picked shimmer of shiny notes glimmering in a weak light before changing direction and effectively looping-the-loop with an infectious and raucous sing-along chorus.

Celebrating the light and shade, ‘Little Dreams’ starts with a xylophonic set of rapidly dappling notes accentuated by smooth
lead curves and building up to a high plateau of sunlight upon which a platform is established for the insistent and anthemic

For a golden treat and a celebration of darkness and light Enjoy Destroy are incomparable right now. Catch them as soon as
you can, in their youthful and experimental stages of growth… because this band is destined to soar an ever higher arc towards the mountain tops of pop-rock.

© Neil_Mach
JAN 2009


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