Category Archives: rock

Weyward Chile – at the ‘Wey Will Rock You’ event – The Star Guildford

Weyward Chile possesses that kind of cock-rock insolence and sweaty strutting charm that actually swoops the gals off of their feet and sets the men a-jigging. And that’s exactly what occurred at The Star Inn, Guildford on 9th Sept at the boys’ regularly hosted rock night ‘Wey Will Rock You’ (planned for the last weekend of every month.) The guys and girls were dancing and grinding  – and hollering along to the best, biggest and most bruisingingly boisterous bad ass blues rock this side of the Smokies.

Frontman lead vocalist Karl looks very much like ‘Donovan’ but he possesses the seriousness and the rustle of Robert Plant. He is as bold as he is beautiful. On the sweet lead guitar we have chancer and chief mojo-maker Korush, on the smouldering rhythm guitar we have Jack and on the power-house percussion we have Alex showing off a tantalizing new kit, with James on finger-lickinginly good bass.

Starting with an onslaught of power and strength that shakes the roof tiles off the mossy ole ‘Star, the band smash into a blistering set that can only be described as ruthless classic rock. Delivered in dollops so big, you will need an excavator and a pile-driver to make sense of the chords and chops. With songs like “Whole Lotta Love” and Jimi’s version of “All Along the Watchtower” you know what you’re going to get.  Yes, exuberant classic rock and blues.

But their own songs are also full of promise and contagious, good time, rock-ability. From their gas-bottle necking grassband country twanging, feverish ‘Go Go’  to ‘Clouds Start To Rain’ which has an elegant chord structure and a tuneful verse together with nagging guitar ripples from Korush- lightly feathering the pattering rhythms. I can’t wait for their studio album.

There was a lot of low-down, yard-dog, dice rolling type numbers, like ‘Mike’s Song’ created with roostering roistering buoyancy. And ‘I Went Down’ which is their truest ‘Bad Company’ number. It’s like running down the strip with a desolation angel on your arm, trying to get to the liquor store & grab yourself a bottle of Gentleman Jack before the big game. It’s like sluice-juiced rock-daddy headymen Aerosmith before their big-hair dandy days. When they played true honest-to-goodness rock, blues and metal.

Huge sound and energy is created by Karl as he prances the boards and teases the audience with his wild shirtless holier-than- f * ck arrogant swagger. Yes, Weyward Chile are now truly ready for stadium stardom. I can imagine these boys making a success of a West-coast tour anytime now.

Hard place dominant rock and blues for the wise and the ready…

© Neil_Mach
September 2011

Links:
http://www.weywardchile.com
http://www.myspace.com/weywardchile
http://www.youtube.com/user/WeywardChile

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These Are Teeth – live at Hogboblin Staines 04 August

Thursday was the first time I had seen local hard rock act  “These Are Teeth” and I was delighted by their performance.

James Bickley – lead guitar – is a ‘Slash’ in the making. Mudpie, sloopy, syrupy chuckling licks slobber from his nimble fingers as they lazily slide and groan across loose strings. Those cowboy boots, lush mop (with the vilest of fringes), and  pavilion swivelling hips foretell that this lanky preacher-man (with Gee-tar instead of a bible) is already living  life as a  rock n roll adventurer. Here’s one to watch.

Scott Freeman (vocals & guitar) is a solidly built Jethro looking shoveler, helmsman and chug. He is the fulcrum and activator of the band and plays rhythm guitar so furious that he can bug-a-bug with the best of ’em from noon till dusk. His melodious voice – notes are struck with extreme precision – and the pitch is just right – sets the tone for a polished performance.

The band is completed by Robin Rathbone on drums, a rattle snake man and firecracking omnipresent thwacker; And the shuffling and vibrating ching-master, the ever reliable Tom Ridler on progressively played bass.

They play classic rock tracks filled with grunge and gutsy harmonics – punk rock undertones yet prog-rock aspirations

Faultless manoeuvres crafted from rods of iron and as dark as the soot and ashes that surround them …. they played an astonishing set to the happy marauders at the Staines Hobgoblin mangling juddering substance with lyrical punctuation from that ever-peppery lead guitar. It was a full blown grenade launching fiery conquest of a set!

‘Rocket Motel’ has container loads of rattly chords and pile-driver percussion that evolves into a head-bangers delight. Groovy basslines from Tom and thundery chords establish the perfect landscape for the excellent chorus. On this number Scott (vocals) reminds me of Marilyn Manson at his lyrical best.

‘Embers’ sounds ‘Aerosmithy’ with plenty of bouncy rhythm guitar and thrilling lead guitar bursts from James -this song has a cabaret feel to it – as if it were to be played on stage with a velvet rope and a couple of pneumatic blondes writhing around the poles.

‘Move and Erase’ has a playful percussive element from Robin on drums and a far more punky style than the other These Are Teeth offerings. Razorsharp bursts of guitar light up the catchy chorus. This sounds reminiscent of something by ‘The Cure’ before a blast of flames from the lead guitar breaks things up and gets  things a-smouldering!

Oh, and thanks for “The Boys Are Back in Town” – always a barnstormer and crafted and played with precision and love.

Best jaw cracking, sharp, strong and pulverizing rock band that I have seen in a long while!

© Neil_Mach
August 2011

Links:

http://www.theseareteeth.com
http://www.twitter.com/theseareteeth
http://www.reverbnation.com/teethonline

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

Links:

http://www.mortdelamer.co.uk
http://www.myspace.com/mortdelamer
http://mortdelamer.bandcamp.com/

Run Young Lovers – Live at The Hogboblin, Staines – July 2011

On Thursday I caught up with ‘Run Young Lovers’ at the Staines Town’s favourite music venue ‘The Hobgoblin’. This band plays a patina of indie rock sounds- hot cracking stuff. Choppy, peanut brittle sound bites of feel-good fun and happiness.

Born and raised in Crawley, this 5-piece band originally came to notice under the moniker ‘Us And Them’ and their toil gained them a worthy reputation on the West Sussex live music scene.

They now play a joyful Cure-sounding sing-along song-book of sounds. And the delighted Staines Hob crowd lapped ‘em up like double cream. Soulesque vocals from cuddly bannerman and front-voice Jack Betteridge add warmth and passion to the roistering helter-skelter zip-line indie rock revelry of the band’s output.

Songs like ‘She Said’ (available as a facebook download) with that typical bounce and zizz-a-zizz, and those streamers of guitar flapping in the wind around warm honey-cake vocals, added a real playtime fizz to their show.

Other songs, like ‘Moonshine’ have playful basslines from Ollie Small, and sudden blooms of effervescent guitar from James Ellis and Lloyd Stone. Driving patterns of percussion are delivered steadily by David Stewart on drums.

Introspection is a specialty of the shy singer Jack, surrounded on all sides by the bounteous multi-faceted guitars.  But no snopake is required… no corrections are needed. Bubbling rumbling, bumbling? Check. Soaring highs? Check. Painful lows? Check. It is all there in the ‘Run Young Lovers’ show.

This band takes you two stops beyond awesomeville, before leaving you, exhausted,  and on the last platform, whining for more.

© Neil_Mach
July 2011

Links:

http://www.myspace.com/runyounglovers

http://runyounglovers.tumblr.com
http://twitter.com/RunYoungLovers
http://www.facebook.com/runyounglovers
http://www.reverbnation.com/runyounglovers
http://soundcloud.com/runyounglovers
http://www.musicglue.com/runyounglovers
http://runyounglovers.fanbridge.com

Hot Portrait live at Two Rivers, Staines

Last weekend we went down to see the Surrey funk rock / soul incarnation HOT PORTRAIT from Kingston,  compromising of Helena Sugden (vocals), Dan Trott (bass), Mark Hobbs (guitar) and Michael Gates (drums) live at the Two Rivers, Staines.

A feisty set – as jolly as a jumping jelly-bean – included such delights as ‘Hold Your Horses’ with easy slipping rubber-band bass play from Dan, silky creamy latte vocals from adorable Helena, chunky chords from Mark and hypnotically rolling motifs from Michael.  Lap it up!

‘Dirty Greedy Love’ has some plucky fresh tangerine-flavoured licks and a groovy oily bass. The chiming hot vocals are laced around the edges with a bit of fuzz and take you to the brim of acute happiness before your hips and ankles start jigging and bouncing to the beat.

And after an accomplished version of “Hump de Bump” Red Hot Chili Peppers [Stadium Arcadium 2006] with its helical jelly-worm vibes, we moved on to ‘Live in Vain’ with those zestfully refreshing sprays of sounds, a voice lacquered in chocolate spread, funky arrangements and syncopated rhythms.

Hot Portrait are a delightful party band, oozing fun-time schmoozing and be-bop funky-time twang. Helena’s caramel peanut-buttery smooth vocals are set against the scallywag instrumental backdrop and the best jazz-funk guitarwork I have witnessed for some time – the sounds are always ascendant, warm and embracing.

Full of warm emotion, eloquence, and fondant jazziness!

© Neil_Mach
March 2011

Link:

http://www.myspace.com/hotportrait

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UKID live at Hobgoblin, Staines

UKID – I like the name (could be “you kid” or the rotten U.K. ID cards ) is a rock band with a Rap Metal attitude and an impressive musical pedigree. Former ‘Durban Poison’ man KJ (bass) created  the band along  with MC Beanie (Ben-Jah Jon.) And, once the grimy drum n’ bass met the blistering metal in the forges from hell, the UKID sound was cast into iron. It’s like Rage Against the Machine crossed with Oceansize.

UKID bring us songs like “Dole” which is a shattered plate of sounds; A skillet of skanky beats whipped to a frenzy by metallic and thrashingly hypnotic guitars, thrown together with squeaks and beeps from the keyboards (Ben-Jah goes to the keys periodically.) The vocals are insistent and reliable – more calm than furious, the rhythms are always focussed and assured. The bass play is big and gruesome and brought to you in gigantic proportions by the hairy thumbster KJ.

Other songs have the kind of sound quality and size reminiscent of tunes from bands such as Kaiser Chiefs and even as far back as The Clash. Yet there is also plenty of drum ‘n’ bass, combined with hip hop, to get you back to todays date. The searing and screaming lead guitar from redheaded razzle-dazzler Glenn add frantic and fiery elements to the whole UKID package, making the band seem more progressive, and somehow more metallic,  than other bands in the same genre.

But it is fair to say that, at the Staines Hob gig, the music tendered by this immortal Glastonbury gang tended to veer from tantalizingly terrific and heart-racingly superb at times – right down to buzzy low-threshold monobloc tedium.  Which is a shame, because the nurtured talent was clearly available – just not in a consistent formula.  Naturally enough, the keen and krazy krowd at the Staines Hob lapped it all up (good and bad) and were dancing in the aisles and crazy to hear the tunes. But some of the numbers failed to hit their mark, often in quite a dramatic way. The main voice of Ben-jah was not nearly strong enough to be heard above the multiple layers of sound underneath. And the backing vocals from Glenn were often too loud – and, more often than not – quite alarmingly off-key.

But nonetheless, songs like “War = Money”  with it’s innovative and impressive flowergarden of experimentation and smoky acid vibes was like encountering Eminem whilst visiting a dream-like “Octopus’s Garden”  and finding out that he is actually in a political frame-of-mind. Freaky, fancy and fine. This song is like a saline drip of conscientiousness.

The best tune of the night was the techno industrial-strength dance number (second to last song of the set) that was a spaced-out labyrinthine journey into the spiralling and pulsating sub-conscious.  With melting guitar licks from Glenn, huge chunks of keys from Ben-Jah, hypnotic drums from Joey and deeply reverberating bass-play from KJ. I hoped that this tune would never stop!

Merging heavy rock with dance-sounds is not new, but UKID are so skilled and so fresh that the sounds actually do seem refreshingly vital.  Watch this band rise.

© Neil_Mach
March 2011

Link:

http://www.myspace.com/ukid
http://www.ukid.moonfruit.com

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Anderson / Wakeman – Are They Just Yes-terdays Men?

On the evening of Friday 22nd October I went to see Rick Wakeman and Jon Anderson  [The Anderson-Wakeman Project] at The Anvil, Basingstoke.

I approached this concert with a feeling of some ambivalence. The whole thing about these antique rock treasures being taken out of the old trophy cupboard and dusted down saddens me. I can think of nothing worse than spending an evening fawning over some old has-been who is attempting to rekindle that long extinguished flame one more time.  And all that servile pretentiousness that is expected from the audience. All those fake nostalgic feelings. And all that hushed beatification of the noble rock luvvies – the entire experience tends to bring bile to my lips. If old rockers don’t die gracefully then, at the very least, they should be forced into exile far away – running a trout farm or something. We do not need them to come back every five minutes, trying to hit the high notes, and rambling on about how freaky everything was back in ‘73. It is undignified. And, worse still, it reminds us that we are getting old too. So, no thanks.  If we really want to hear them at their very finest then we can download their stuff onto MP3 can’t we?  We don’t need them to be standing there in the weakly quasi-living flesh, doing their absent-minded best to entertain us in some frail way do we? But, on the other hand, what if they still could still turn on the old magic? What if the gift was still there? What if they could still deliver a sting?  It is so intriguing that it is almost worth taking the risk.  But, frankly,  I was  prepared to be disappointed.

As I sat waiting patiently in the luxurious surroundings of The Anvil I couldn’t help asking myself…  Are Rick and Jon just yesterdays men? Can they still pass muster?  Culture lovers and quality music aficionados around me seemed to be asking the very same question. Then, as the lights went down, a gentle ripple of applause echoed around the venue, and the two venerable rock-gods shuffled onto the simply light stage. Jon was clutching an acoustic guitar and was dressed casually, as if he was popping up the corner shop for a pinta.  Rick strolled over to the two keyboards. And that was it. We were in the presence of two artists who can conjure up sounds, images, textures and sensations from just an old guitar and a couple of keyboards.  It was magical.

It is interesting that Jon is five years older than Rick – because he doesn’t look it.  Aged 66 (to Rick’s 61) he looks like he is in his late forties. The years have not worn away Jon’s elfin features and nor that airy-fairy posture. Neither have they worn down his amazing voice. Naturally higher than tenor, but without extending to falsetto – his voice has a lush mellow sweetness to it. At this  concert he was still perfectly pitched and the nuances of that nutty-brown Lancastrian accent were still abundantly clear. Jon seemed to be completely baffled by the whole experience of getting up on stage with his guitar and putting on a show.  A consistent theme  ( perhaps  deliberately over-emphasised  for dramatic effect ) was that Jon could not remember the text of any of the songs, nor present a concise introduction to the pieces. In fact, it seemed likely that he didn’t even know what day it was. But the audience seemed perfectly happy to let this go by, and the songs were gorgeously inspiring and wondrously created.

Rick has now become a minor celebrity outside his rock persona for being one of the regular ‘Grumpy Old Men.’ He is also an admired DJ on Planet Rock. As far as I am concerned he can never do wrong, not just because of his keyboard work for ‘Yes’ but also because of his incredible contributions to such famous songs as Bowie’s “Life on Mars?” and Cat Stevens’ re-working of the school assembly hymn “Morning Has Broken.”     I first encountered Rick’s virtuosity on ‘The Strawbs’  ‘From the Witchwood’ album (1971) and I commend to you the track “The Hangman and the Papist”.  I advise you give that a listen, to understand why I was completely blown-away by his spectacular artistry. In the Anderson-Wakeman Project,  Rick keeps things simple. Just two keyboards and a laid-back gentle attitude. Only once or twice did we experience the true greatness and extraordinary rendition of this amazing player.  And at those times he stooped over the keys like a mad praying mantis – a look of deadly concentration upon his face – as his fingers flashed out, like a predator, to take the ivories.

Rick seems, upon the surface, to be ‘of sound mind’ and the more lucid of the partnership. But it is quite clear that he adds depth and magic to the mythical and emotional dimensions of Jon’s characteristically surreal pieces- like those old favourites “I’ve Seen All Good People” and “Yours Is No Disgrace”. He is perfectly at ease in translating what seem like the ‘ramblings’ of  an imaginative mind, and turning that jamboree-bag of Jon’s thoughts into real commodities, containing sound and light. These two are a perfect creative partnership. This became even clearer as the new songs emerged from ‘The Living Tree’  and during the “Recital Part” of the show, (as Jon called it.)

Constant humorous interludes and witty interjections from the pair helped enliven the show and added a welcome lightness. Not only were these anecdotes entertaining, they were also inciteful.  According to Jon the two partners collaborate together using email and text – Rick lives in the UK whilst Jon lives in the U.S.A.   So when one has an idea, he urgently emails the other to put across the musical concept. Jon told us how he was grappling with the ideas behind ‘The Living Tree’ and he told us how he had come up with the idea after he had ‘Just come in from the garden… and trees and plants were on my mind ….  I had to contact Rick right away with my thoughts’. Rick added “It’s a good job, then, that you hadn’t just come in from the loo!”   An another occasion Jon was speaking passionately and fervently about the theme of love and how people do not love themselves enough – loving each other has to start somwhere and it ought to start with loving ones self.  Rick interjected ‘ I used to love myself …. a whole lot …. back when I was fourteen – until my dad told me to stop because it would make me go blind’.

Another interesting anecdote was shared with the audience when Jon explained how he had come up with the idea for “Roundabout” [from the 1971 Yes album Fragile ].  ‘In and around the lake – mountains come out of the sky – one mile we’ll be there and see you…’ According to Jon, the band were herded into a van to make a difficult return journey from northern Scotland back to the north of England in time for the next concert. The journey seemed to ‘go on for ever’ and the most annoying parts were the ‘roundabouts’ (circular road junctions) “I remember there seemed to be hundreds of roundabouts on the way back, and at each roundabout there was a traffic hold up – I thought we would never get to our destination.” But the icy lakes and the occasional glimpses of mountains squeezing through the cloud, helped Jon to pass the time and paint a pretty potent lyric.

The purpose of prog rock is to create an imaginary world. To move beyond what is commonplace. To travel through space and time, and reality. To represent textures, sounds and ambiguous ideas in the forms and nuances of light and shadow that make life a dream and reality a memory.

You might like your rock to be earthy and raw. You might need it to be unblemished and simple to digest at times.  But if, like me, you want to leave this tawdry planet every now-and-again and fly off in a paper glider towards those Topographic Oceans then you need bands like ‘Yes’ ( or ‘Porcupine Tree’ and ‘Spock’s Beard’ or ‘Rush’ ) and you need artists like Jon and Rick to help you break the bonds of your existence so that you can float gently away.

In the Anderson-Wakeman Project tour, Rick and Jon have managed to cut down on flamboyances, cut away excesses and shortened the conceited sojourns and the interminable jazz odysseys. This is stark, almost nude, Progressive Rock. Not quite unplugged, but almost. And without the pomposity and the over inflated egos, the audience were left with some simply attractive, carefully crafted, rock pieces. Put together with heart and soul. Yes, the lyrics are in bloom, and you need your thinking-cap on to make the most of it. But for sheer joyous escape, and flight to a better world, there is nothing better than sharing some time with Rick and Jon. I was not disappointed.

© Neil_Mach
October 2010

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The Anderson/Wakeman Project 360 Tour continues through November culminating in a visit to London’s Indigo at the O2  on 15 Nov

Monday, November 01, 2010      Colston Hall
Bristol

Tuesday, November 02, 2010     Cliffs Pavilion
Southend

Saturday, November 06, 2010     Playhouse
Edinburgh

Sunday, November 07, 2010     Concert Hall
Perth

Monday, November 08, 2010     The Sage
Gateshead

Thursday, November 11, 2010     Palace Theatre
Manchester

Friday, November 12, 2010     The Corn Exchange
Ipswich

Monday, November 15, 2010     indigo2 at the O2
London