Category Archives: middlesex

Halloween Rockgoblin – 29th October 2011 – Hob, Staines

The Hallowe’en Rock Goblin Staines is now a firm fixture on the Staines social calendar – and a very highly anticipated event. Last year’s party was simply superb… so the 2011 Hallowe’en Rock Goblin had a lot to live up to.

With six incredible musical artists covering a night-full of spooky fun and magical events, the beautiful & intelligent people of Staines crowded into the Hobgoblin in their fineries. Costumes included spectral brides, ghoulish minnies, a throng of pirates and enough zombies, vampires and monsters to coagulate the blood and give permanent nightmares!  The fun-house was decorated in a suitably gothic fashion and the party started early and went on till well past the witching hour.

First up was ‘Ravi K’ with his solo (acoustic) ‘Timber-Tones’ set. His warm and passionate vocals and honeyed guitar work went down stunningly well with the Staines in-crowd. Kicking off with the fizzy ‘My Lonely Heart’ and featuring some reflective but none-the-less jaunty numbers like ‘For the Moment’ and ‘Talk of Tonight’ it was a highly accomplished and satisfying demo of how good the ‘Timber-Tones’ ought to be. We cannot wait for more!

‘Sian Sanderson’ is a soulful and bluesy singer/songwriter with an extraordinary voice, full of innuendo and silkily suffocating anguish. Songs like ‘Long Way Home’ are passionately personal- she counts Bill Withers & Otis Redding as influences- and you can hear the results with those tense vocals wrapped around relaxed tempos and gently rippling arrangements. Sian’s songs are tucked neatly into the smooth side of the genre and reminded me of the easy listening acts of the eighties.

Next up was Swindon band ‘Nudy Bronque’ with their lavish guitar based fireworks and their post punk Britpop aspirations. Flaming hot tunes like ‘I Don’t Want Your Problems’ were pumped out to the spirited Hobgoblin crowd. With searing guitar solos and piping hot percussion, this band made a statement of intent. Juicy, crisp and tight songs … a lot of punk attitude and a formidable style and flair is all part of the ‘Nudy Bronque’ experience. Ska-sounding beat-bound chirpy clap-clap tunes (like ‘Movement’) were bright, brisk and breezy- and brought  the Staines crowd to the boil with pin-point accuracy.

Those busy bees ‘Fear No Fish’ are already Hobgoblin stalwarts and firm favourites of the Staines music aficionados . This loveable rocking trio is the  ‘Ransome’ brothers (Chris on guitar and Mike on bass) with Rob Walker on drums. Their sound has been compared to The Who & The Jam. And it’s a constant wonder how so much rich sound can be created by such a small group.  With heaps of latent and seething drum-work, songs like ‘Stay’ with those magnificent vocals from Chris and Mike, complex plots and hauntingly beautiful compositions, are inspiring and illustrious  Or take the sturdy sounds of tunes like  ‘Paint By Numbers’ with those chunks of flying metallic guitar chords and the flourishes of percussion… numbers like these, with their grungy feel and wide-screen aspect, make you realise that ‘Fear No Fish’ are musical monsters in a pond full of tiddlers. Powerful and revelatory.

Reggae-pop outfit  ‘Tree. House. Fire.’ are also Hob regulars. These Guildford boys (dressed up as swarthy pirates)  fired up the dancing demons at the Hallowe’en ball with their imaginative ska-shaped sounds and their mashed up energetic show. Songs like ‘Suburban Gangster’ have enough pliant licorice flavoured rubbery beats to  keep heads rocking, knees bouncing and neighbours complaining,  deep into the night . And those irreverent lyrics with their ‘thumbs up’ vocals are playful enough to inspire raucous choruses, and to illicit frantic applause. Brilliant.

To complete a gigantic evening  we had the legendary Brighton party band ‘Floors And Walls’ giving us their amazing brew of melodic guitars and grimy vocals with those (almost) folky compositions. Pounding vibes and ‘Vincent Price’ vocals (by  Alex Adams ) seemed the perfect ending for a truly magnificent Hallowe’en feast.

A blissful night of rock sounds and invincible party-time antics. Bloody Fang-Tastic!

© Neil_Mach 28 October 2011



Brightlight City – Live at Hobgoblin, Staines

Epsom band ‘Brightlight City’, formed together holistically in 2010, following long time friendships and brotherhood (the Giarraputo brothers- Jamie on vocals and Justin on guitar). We were pleased that we managed to catch up with this band and their photogenic jamboree of musical fun at the best live music venue in Middlesex, the Hob, Staines.

Their debut single ‘Pressure’ was self released at the end of 2010 and can be heard on the cult British film ‘Jack Falls’. And their new single ‘The Others’ is a bombastic frothily beating heart bop song. Very ‘Duran Duran’ in places with but with their customary slice of acetic growl and snarl adding garnish later. And it’s even reminiscent of ‘The Jam.’

The band played an appetizing show at the Hobgoblin, featuring some excellent song structures and fine vocal imagery, expertly veneered to perfection. Songs like ‘You Shone’ which has diamond sharp lyrics and chirpily relentless vocals (with a dove-like coo-coo-coo). Shot through with cleanly etched guitars that rise and fall like demented moths around the candle-wax. Sumptuous harmonies add a luxurious quality and an impressive extra dimension.

Other catchy tunes include ‘Shortcuts’ – this travels with ease along a jagged path, yet at a light-footed pace. With short, sharp shots of guitar from Jono and Justin, and unhesitating percussion and eloquent bass from Joe and Dan. A cleverly planned chorus means this number sticks around in your brainbox long after the show.

‘Set Sail’ has an irregular rhythm guitar pattern and a sparkling pace. This song brings to mind ‘The Cure’ even with  those bruised and smeared ‘Robert Smith’ sounding vocals and an insistent chorus that drills into your skull and finds a neat place to curl up and slumber- bursting out later to surprise you!

Brightlight City are full of shine. This band, by rights, should have a profitable future.

© Neil_Mach October 2011


Foley Artist – Live at Hobgoblin, Staines – Aug 18

The craftsmen know as foley artists try to create realistic ambient sound for movies … that’s why the horses in the movies always tend to clip-clop their hooves, even when  travelling on sand or grass… the foley artist has added the sound ‘after’ filming with a couple of coconuts.  Foley Artist is also the name of a rock band that I went to see on 18 AUG at the best music venue in Middlesex – the Hobgoblin, Staines.

Foley Artist create monster sounds on a magnitude totally exceeding your expectations. Instrumentally adept, their output seems jammed firmly betwixt hardcore and hard rock – little nuggets’ of tungsten embedded between two tectonic plates. A tough nut to crack, although I hope the band eventually breaks firmly into the classic hard rock seam. At this stage vocals can be a bit hit-and-miss, but you can forgive this slight aberration as you are blown away by the style and substance of the astonishing white-hot guitar magic. In fact, their sound brings to mind – ahem – Led Zeppelin (yes, really). Bluesy, smoky, blameless, armour-piercing rock and roll, blood and flames.

These swindlers played a short set at The Hob (due to feeling under the weather.)  But the band provided enough material to get a reasonable idea of the quality of their sounds. Tunes like ‘Shadow Boxing’ from the ‘Gorgeous Dog’ E.P demonstrate the innovative guitar trickery and licentious  percussion. ‘Brad Pitts Beard’ is ice cold and angular. Satisfying bass-play from man-mountain Olly Nunn creates a bed of chewy textures for the finely detailed fretwork and interwoven vocals. Songs like ‘Wheaties Box’ are heavy, headstrong and banging. Laced with streaks of silvery guitar and full of time juxtapositions, with tempo-changes aplenty.

Bold bass-play, excellent guitar instrumentation from frontman Matt Searle together with the percussive fireworks from James on drums, mean that Foley Artist are ones to watch as they negotiate up the rocky road. Good luck lads.

© Neil_Mach
August 2011


Mortdelamer at Staines Hobgoblin – August 04

Finishing off a successful 9 date tour at the Hobgoblin, Staines (our favourite music venue) the Swindon based 3-piece prog-rockers “Mortdelamer”   played an amazingly invigorating and inspirational set to the happy throng. Claire (lead vocals and guitar) Joe (on bass guitar) and Sean (on drums) stormed through a set of thoroughly honed songs, properly aired and exhaustively rehearsed after days on the road.

‘Chasing Lights’ is a chiming buzz-saw wormery of textures and sub-texts. Dank themes crumble like biscuits around the molten guitars. Claire’s voice cuts through the chords and chains like acetic acid through cloth, before the number ascends into the loftiest of metal frameworks.

‘Choices’ is a gap-toothed fallen-angel of a song, distraught chords and edgy rhythms suggest a kind of corrupt architecture for Claire’s splendidly miserable vocals.

‘Mistakes’ grates like a rake dragged into a storm drain… but the kindly echoing vocal content, reminding me of Alannah Myles, lifts the song from it’s velvety sludge to a more glistening position above the shoreline.

‘Man With 2 Heads’ has a pronounced reggae beat and those other worldly vocals, before  liquid guitars leak and spill over the jaggedy moonscape. Disconcerting grinds and blinding wah-wahs add drama and potency to this outstanding track.

New song ‘Leech’ from the superb Leech E.P (I urge you to get it now) is a blues number that starts smoky in the background before becoming emblazoned with fire and ice as the composition moves on – cracking and fragmenting into explosions of pure emotion as the song reaches it’s heroic destiny.

If you like ‘Karnivool’ or ‘Skunk Anansie’ and you take your rock without sugar or cream and, preferably, bible-black, then this is definitely for you…

© Neil_Mach
August 2011


Staines-on-Thames? More like Staines-under-Pants !

So they HAVE changed the name of  STAINES to Staines-on-Thames

Why?  A  conceit, I suppose.  Most likely because Staines doesn’t sound very nice, well does it?   It is like Neasden and Scunthorpe in that it has added much merriment and joviality to many a poor comedian’s script over the years.

Welcome to ScunthorpeBut the ‘on-thames’ suffix doesn’t really make sense.

Kingston,  Surrey has the ‘on-thames’ suffix to differentiate it from Hull or the capital of Jamaica.   Walton has the ‘on-thames’ to distinguish it from the Naze or a county in sunny Florida.  Sunbury has it just to elevate it from its Feltham-fringed neighbour. But Staines is the “One and Only.. ”  (as local resident Chesney Hawkes once sang) and so it doesn’t need any more frills.  Other “One and Only’s”  like  Caversham or Oxford don’t have to call themselves ‘On Thames’ to have a snobby sense of well-to-do-ness about them.  But Henley does.

I have always thought that ‘Laleham St Annes’ has a nice ring to it – and would be a name welcome to most riverside estate agents. And with that name is still possible to keep the ‘Staines’ bit (albeit corrupted into St Annes.)

And why does it have to be connected to the River Thames anyway?  The ancient market town has a moor (two actually) so why not go the whole nine yards and rename the town altogether as ‘The Great Dark Moor’ or ‘Little Black Moor’.  That would look great in the estate agent windows – and on the coat-of-arms  – and certainly would give the place a certain whiff of ‘Lord of the Rings’  type mystery.

Or why not allude to the enormous amount of lakes and reservoirs in the district … if it is good enough for our close neighbour Virginia and remote Cumbrian cousin Coniston– why not call it  Staines Water?   Although that sounds like it is one of those regional fat-cat water companies.

© Neil Mach
© Neil Mach

We could take a leaf out of the old Soviet book – they liked to name their industrial towns after the things they made. Like ‘Tractor Town’ or ‘Electric Town’.  We could call our lovely town ‘Lino Town’.  Yes, I know the lino industry is all gone now, but it was one of our great claims to fame and provided Staines with a valuable international reputation.

Or Lagonda Town?  That was (after all) a  ‘made up’ word anyway. And it sounds like a luxurious brand. You have to admit – it is pretty ‘tourist friendly’.

We were once famous for our mills too, we had water mills, powder mills, mustard mills… what about Great Mills ? No, on second thoughts that makes us sound like a huge shopping mall.

What about delving further back into history and using the names left by the ancient people who lived here by the river?   They used the meads (meadows) to farm and their greatest celebration was at Lammas (Loaf Mass) when they had safely gathered in the harvest.  So why not Lammas Meads?  Now that has a nice ring to it.  Although it sounds a bit like a concrete seventies comprehensive school. And there is already a Staines Lammas football team.

© Neil Mach
© Neil Mach

It is said that the Elders of this area once used to meet under a Thorn tree (also sometimes an Ash Tree) to decide upon important local matters- thus Spelthorne or the ‘Speilthorne’  – the ‘talking tree’…. so why not use this name?  Now the name is used just for a boring local government district but once it was a truly great name, mentioned in the Domesday Book – the whole area that we now know as Staines was called the Spelthorne Hundred.  Now that’s a good name isn’t it?

Or why not copy the Bailiwick of Guernsey and name our town after our church – St Peter?  Hythe was once a thriving little port so why not St Peters Port?  Or Hythe Port.  Or St Marys?  Like the Isles of Scilly?

When the Romans arrived here back in 43 A.D and created the first crossing point over the river, they had a respect for the sacred name of the river – they knew it as Thamases – they just added Isis to the end of it to make it more sound more, well,  ‘Roman’.  But they did not want to upset the gentle old river god (Father Thames) by renaming his river any more than they had to.  Maybe we could be just as respectful as the Romans and call our town Thames Isis?  Now that would be a nice place to live and prosper in wouldn’t it?  And there would be no more little digs from comedians about our silly name.

I suppose, if we couldn’t beat them (the comedians) then we could join them by calling our home town ‘Staines Massive’.  Nowadays, the irony of Sacha Baron Cohen’s clever use of Staines for placing his character Ali G is lost on most people you meet.  They actually believe we live in some kind of  ‘hood’ (conjuring up images of the Lower West Side) where street-gangs like the Jets and the Sharks hang-out…  rather than where we actually reside-  a fairly boring and conservative geriatric bungalow-town sandwiched uninspiringly between the M25 and Heathrow.

Do you know what the Romans called the place when they discovered it?
Ad Pontes – meaning at the bridges.  Now that’s as good  a name as any for a town isn’t it?

© Neil_Mach
1st November 2010
[Updated once the local authority changed the name.]

For Music, Arts and Going Out in Staines – check out ADPONTES-STAINES

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Sam Pickett and Suicide Si at The Hobgoblin, Staines JUN 24

Sam Pickett is a master of the deeply romantic and passionate torch song, but without the nauseating mawk. At times the trembling beauty of his songs reach unassailable highs- and at these times the pain gnaws deep into the heartstrings like a stiletto. As each song unfurls, the listener feels more-and-more as if he or she is sliding towards an evermore gaping precipice – from which the only salvation is to fall into the depth of his kindness, and higher rebirth. Such is the emotional intensity. But this sentimentality is without pain. That’s because Sam laces his work with a dark fondant humour and a generous twinkle in his eye. The humour helps you to stay on the upside of tragedy and the mellow side of drama. Yep, Sam is the kinda guy who has six sugars in his morning cap, treacle on his toast and sugar on his sugar puffs – and sings the kind of songs that are even sweeter, but there is a good balance between darkness and light, between humour and the moribund and between optimism and unrequited love. Songs like ‘Moonlit Soul’ or ‘Siren’ are sensuous and painful at times,  but you never feel choked with depression and guilt, but instead you are lifted higher than you ever expected, and onto a sojourn towards an esoteric plane within his sadly painted world – full of red-rose petals and spikes of anguish.  Adding depth and warmth to the performance of troubadour Sam was a guest appearance by Lily D’cruz with her epic and eloquent cover of the Ryan Tedder (OneRepublic) and Beyoncé number “Halo.”  Truly unforgettable.

Something completely different, Weybridge based punk and rap folker Suicide Si is less formal, more rambunctious and his songs were laden with profane observations and introspective commentary. Imagine the mutant offspring of Johnny Cash and Eminem to get the idea. Fast-paced and choc-a-bloc with allusion and reference, the work was as characteristic as it was playful and as consistently creative as imagination allows. He looks like a gingery-blonde rasta on a guitar stool, his pallid hypnotic eyes swirl around the Hob stage like plates on a stick, as he shoots through his gig as if he was performing a commando raid on your sensibilities. Non stop, fast as lightning, take-no-prisoners, by the numbers, action-packed folk for the hardcore punk generation. Songs like ‘No Sense’ and ‘Skizm’ were heartfelt and sincere, but were also touched with lightly ironic dabs of humour and tell-tale streetwise insights, and so were the perfect antidote to the ‘old style’ traditional one-man-and-his-guitar folksy protest songs.  Si incorporates ska punk with a dashing flair and mastery into his solo act- in a way, I guarantee, that you have never witnessed before.

© Neil_Mach
June 2010


Ad Pontes Staines- music arts & going out IN STAINES

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Four Wheel Drive – Twickenham Green June 19

It’s lamentable that the Red Lion Pub (Filthy’s) at Twickenham has now closed for good – to be replaced by a Tesco Metro stores  (I ask you). This landmark pub was a real resort for rockers , an important stop-off point for every local band’s graduation and an integral part of the West London music scene. It was the petri dish for so much local talent that it should have been preserved by the heritage trust and had a blue plaque slapped upon it.  In fact, it should have it’s own entry in the rock and roll hall of fame. But now it’s gone (and so has The Marquee.) So it was laudable that our friends from ‘Four Wheel Drive’ made mention of this great rock n roll institution during their gig – a venue that played such a prominent part in their own development…

So it is June 19th and 4WD are playing on a bright red ‘London Pride’ wagon to a vibrant and good looking crowd on Twickenham Green as part of a week long set of festivities at Twickers.  It is a cold and cloudy afternoon,  but the boys have brought light and sunshine with them as they crank up the volume and heat up the statically charged air. It has to be said, to be fair, Four Wheel Drive has now outgrown this kind of event. It’s like watching your sixteen year old nephew playing with his younger cousin’s toy soldiers. A couple of years back it would have all seemed quite normal, but now these boys are too  big for their shorts, their bits are ‘sticking out’ when they are charging around, and those shoes are too small for the long toes. They are a bit too bold and boisterous for the other kids on the block. But on the other hand, isn’t it kinda special and kinda heartwarming that this fabulous band wants to play a free concert at their local public park before they hit pay-dirt and go global? And isn’t it the kinda thing that the Stones would’ve done? And you know what else? These guys really love their local fans. They honestly do. They are so proud of their Twickenham roots. And they just love to play live. So it’s gotta all be good.

You have to hand it to the Four Wheel Drive team. They live and breathe the rock n roll dream. They don’t just dress up and pretend to be rockers. They are rockers.  It just comes natural. And their live shows are as thrilling as a freefall drop sans le chute and as loud as a monster-truck derby.

From the moment the band exploded onto the impromptu ‘stage’ we knew we were in for an extraordinary treat. The sound quality was good. As good as anything I’ve heard in any club or pub that the boys have played in. It just shows that you do not have to compromise on sound when playing in the open – even off the back of a lorry. Of course, the boys put in 100% effort  (as they always do) and that energy goes a long way to ensure success. Crisp ‘n crunchy ‘White Lines’ evoked AC/DC from the Bon Scott era and is a powerful anthem. And ‘High Roller’, with vocals that are stretched tighter than a babestation girl’s G-string, is ludicrously catchy – frontman/ bass playing lead vocalist Jamie Lailey soon has the entire bubbling crowd singing along to that happy humdinger of a chorus. At other times the band sounded positively Zeppelinesque with fine blues guitar work from both Paddy Achtelik and Ben Austwick. But it  also seemed like we were watching a reincarnation of the early Rolling Stones circa 1965, with the fuzzy riffs, earnest vocals and authentic stadium-ready blues rock hurtling along towards us at an extraordinarily fast pace – helped along, every inch of the way, by Will Richards on blistering drums.

Finishing off the set with some scintillating razor-sharp covers including a very fine ‘Johnny B. Goode.’ and an astonishing  ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’, Four Wheel Drive never once paused for breath in this helter-skelter rollicking madcap rock n roll jaunt in the park. It lifted the spirits of the entire throng and such was the wave of enthusiastic applause that echoed and thundered around the Green – that the shock-waves knocked the dust and the moss from the sadly neglected guttering of that once proud and mighty Red Lion on the corner. Rock n Roll will never die. Not with the likes of 4WD around, anyway!

© Neil_Mach
June 2010


Ad Pontes Staines- music arts & going out IN STAINES

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