Tag Archives: live music

CURVED AIR — Back Screech Love? In Concert at Claygate

This Sunday we visited CLAYGATE — at the tail-end of their superbly organised MUSIC FESTIVAL week — to see the pioneering British progressive rock group CURVED AIR play live in concert at the Claygate Village Hall.

Their “Air Conditioning” album (1970) is still considered “essential listening” by the prog-rock crowd.

Retrospective – Anthology 1970-2009 – Best Of – (Remastered) – Curved Air

It was exciting to see a band — so famous — in what amounted to a village hall.

And the band have a strong Surrey heritage too [forerunner Sisyphus played one of their first performances at the Leith Hill Place Ballroom, Surrey] — so they were made very welcome.

After an extended instrumental introduction, the original “Hair” girl Sonja Kristina emerged onstage in a swirl of boho gypsy waftiness to get the crowd clapping along before the start of her distinctive low-dark, sexy vocal styling.

One of the first songs performed was “Stay Human” from the most recent album “North Star” [2014] with the “I am still your lover...” line.

This has strong riffs and thriving violin work from the “Sideshow Bob” lookalike Paul Sax on violin

(Fiddle-wizard Paul was one of the first participants at the Yehudi Menuhin School… and it shows.)

Sonja Kristina emerged onstage in a swirl of boho gypsy waftiness…

Screw” began with a two-tone riff played by the elfin “Legolas” Robert Norton on keyboards.

With clashing cymbals from original drummer Florian Pilkington-Miksa and unfolding vocal drama.

This number sounded like an avenging angel — on the prowl and dangerous. The alarming shrieks from Paul’s violin added to the sense of urgency and impending doom.

In the Seventies the band were often referred to as “the British Jefferson Airplane” and with songs such as “Marie Antoinette” [from Phantasmagoria, 1972] it is easy to see why.

This number was full of delicious harmonies, expert twiddles, and a lot of punches and trills.

However, it was a protest song at heart, although misted in historical imagery. Back in the 1970’s the worlds of fantasy, psychedelia and new-age shininess could all be packed-together in one gorgeous song. And they still made social comment. How cool is that?

Paul was one of the first participants at the Yehudi Menuhin School… and it shows…

Sonja took an acoustic guitar for the popular folk-song “Melinda (More or Less)” [also from Phantasmagoria.]

This beauty is a fan favorite and shows the hippie principles of the band as well as their eternal affection for the folk-star Donovan.

Unfortunately the second half of the show was bugged by a very loud and completely unpleasant feedback squeal.

“We need to find that pesky mouse….” Sonja told the crowd.

The problem was temporarily fixed — but it didn’t stop a lot of people from wandering off into the night.

The show ended with the fantastic “Back Street Luv.”

This super-hit demonstrated Sonja’s slow vocal style, which still reaches those husky tenor lows where she seems happiest, though she breaks into expressive contralto register at times.

Chanting revolution, pop and psychedelia.

Progressive rock is never much better than this…

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

THE ALI MAC BAND — Live in Staines

Original Birdman ALI MACKENZIE with his renegade pioneers of rock ‘n’ roll talent — Strawbs drummer Richard Hudson, Glitter Band bassist Bill Phillips, and Renaissance guitarist Simon Bishop — form the ALI MAC BAND.

They play good-time rhythm and blues, replete with soul-thumping harmonies and the tightest musicianship you are ever likely to witness.

We saw their sold-out show this February 16 at the STAINES RIVERSIDE CLUB.

Their perfectly handled recreations included many favorites from the American soft-jazz songbook ( like Little Feat’sWeed, whites and wine…” flavoured ‘Willin‘ ) and teasing blues pieces like Willie Dixon’s provocative “Hoochie Coochie Man” or intelligently voiced soul-hits such as Eddie Floyd & Steve Cropper’sKnock on Wood.”

THE ALI MAC BAND - the tightest musicianship you are ever likely to witness... Photo Credit @neilmach 2017 ©
THE ALI MAC BAND – the tightest musicianship you are ever likely to witness…
Photo Credit @neilmach 2017 ©

In the mid sixties THE BIRDS were the biggest rhythm and blues act in London.

They appeared on TV’s Ready Steady Go and released four hit singles including the Holland-Dozier-Holland number “Leaving Here.”

That Birds song went onto inspire Lemmy’s Motörhead [Leaving Here was their debut single — 1977.]

Famous for their vocal harmonies and exciting live performances THE BIRDS came close to becoming as big as THE WHO.

They first ventured onto the scene in 1964 as The Thunderbirds but decided to change their band-name to The Birds to avoid confusion with Chris Farlowe’s band.

But when “America’s answer to the Beatles” aka the folk rock band THE BYRDS entered the UK Singles Chart with “Mr. Tambourine Man” (1965) the British BIRDS were forced to take action to defend their “trading” name.

Surrounded by an excited buzz of media coverage, the BIRDS manager began to take legal steps to prevent the American upstarts from using their name. But the court favored the Los Angeles “Byrds” and by 1967 the British band had faded.

Ali McKenzie was the original leader of that particular ensemble (voice and harmonica) along with Ronnie Wood (guitar) Tony Munroe (guitars) Kim Gardner (bass) and Pete McDaniels (drums).

At Staines, Ali Mac’s band — understandably — distanced themselves from the compositions of Dylan and McGuinn. Instead they played some lasting rockabilly hits (such as Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away” and Big Boy Crudup’s “That’s All Right”. )

With Simon’s effervescent guitar playing, Bill’s adventurous and tight bass and Hud’s precise rhythms, it was a night of class entertainment.

Ali’s remarkable vocal work — his mastery of tension and release — and controlled use of vibrato, was truly astonishing. It’s not often we witness vocal skills of this quality.

Another stunning show at Staines…

Support the RIVERSIDE CLUB and keep LIVE MUSIC alive…

Words & Pictures: Neil Mach 2017 ©
Link: https://www.facebook.com/StainesRiversideClub

A Word Like Attack – Hoboblin, Staines

If you prefer your metal to be post-punk post-apocalyptic and rhythmically complex then A word like.Attack is for you. This Southampton based five-piece post-hardcore band played the Hob, Staines last week bringing all their sounds from the school of foundry steel with them.

There is no lack of drama or feeling in A word like.Attack’s hammer and tongs attitude and carefully welded songs. ‘Move the Still Life’ fairly trips along, getting under the skin like an alien bloodsucker. The song even has a hummable verse and a clean vocal style from frontman David Berner. But the dissonant guitars veer around the central themes, creating an infestation of loopholes in the rhythm and building up undue pressure before spewing out ice cold shardlets of pain.  Softer touches such as breathy supporting vocals from Joe Edwards (also programming) appear thrillingly fleeting before a frenzy of sleepless night growls and those harmful inner voices raised as a dangerous black magic by Rich Berner on guitars.

‘He’s Going Through a Lion Phase’ is as hot and as dark as a blacksmith’s apron – contaminated with iron filings and fierce white-hot chips of swarf. Shards of steel poke through and fly around the soundscape – fluttering dangerously close to the candlelight of your sensibilities before burning your heartstrings. This is a hammering, thundering onslaught of a song – cemented together by the technical prowess of Adam Guest on bass guitar and the start-stop rhythms, harsh beats and power noise components from Alex Urch on percussion.

The crowd at The Hob, Staines enjoyed negotiating the factory gates of this doomy darkly brooding band and carefully populating their world of gray and black, ice and cold.  Incongruous rhythms add to the anguish and the vocals from Dave seemed like they are squeezed out through a tortuous mincing machine. But the band is bursting with creative energy and has a factory grade stage presence to match their technical mastery and guitar based instrumentation.

‘Good Luck in Your Future Endeavours’ features all those same progressive rhythms, dark cold metal chords and cemented dark metal strings all cold-hardened together to form the kind of melody that pierces your heart like a stiletto. This exciting band creates more tension and release than one of  Beth Ditto’s suspender belts.

Technically brilliant this band deserves to go far. May the God of luck be with them all the way.

© Neil_Mach
March 2010

PS:  Since this gig the band has announced that they have ‘broken up’ – they say they have taken the music as far as they can…

Link:

http://www.myspace.com/awordlikeattack

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Succotash at Two Rivers (Phoenix) Staines

Succotash at The Two Rivers Bar

Wed 3rd Feb

Local talented soft rock heroes Ravi and Carl (together they are Succotash) are playing the TWO RIVERS bar again …. on Wednesday 3rd February.

This bar was known as the Phoenix pub (it’s in Church St, Staines, nr Davies Angling and The Hobgoblin). It’s now been taken over by new management and has been spruced up greatly (much more friendly/family/food/fun) orientated! It is now known as the TWO RIVERS bar.

The boys will probably kick off around 8.30pm (in the back bar) and will be playing a mixture of covers and Ravi’s own songs. There should be a few new ones in there (maybe some Madness, Jam ) and plenty of old favourites. Last time our ADPONTES resident music critic Neil Mach went along he reported that he had a truly enjoyable evening. And he liked the beer! Well worth paying a visit. Not to be missed!

Free entry!

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Hob ‘closure’ Danger – Will the Venue Survive?

Company Pubs n Bars the owner of 87 local pubs situated primarily in the south-east of England has collapsed into administration after falling victim of the decline in consumer spending. The Aim-listed company yesterday appointed Grant Thornton as administrator, who warned that some pubs will close. Pubs n Bars which had debts of around £ 24m, were also hit by the smoking ban, credit insurers scaling back cover for providers and a decline in revenue from machines on the premises.  The Hobgoblin Staines is a PNB public house so is threatened with closure.

A director of the company, David Thurgood, has admitted that some of the weaker units may need to be closed. The alarm bells started to ring  for the Staines Hobgoblin manager Jensen Nightingale on last Tuesday night when his Sky TV was switched off without warning during a game.

Last night (10 Dec) scores of music fans gathered at The Hobgoblin (The Hob) – which is Staines most important music venue – to see BIG TRUCK, MIDGAR and VITAL INC play. This Saturday (12th Dec) the venue is set to be hosting an EP launch night for exciting new local band the DIRTY CRAWLERS – and the landlord fully expects to fill the pub to capacity (tickets still available behind the bar or on the door on the night.)

Hob resident promoters Buckle Up are asking that every live music lover and local ‘regular’ tries their best to support their local venue at this important time especially in the run up to Christmas, to avoid the possible closure of this very important asset.

The Dirty Crawlers

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Four Wheel Drive, Hard Rock Hell – Part 2

Four Wheel Drive

Blessings

Four Wheel Drive at Hard Rock Hell III – Prestatyn North Wales-
Part 2

I worry about Danny (the singer from Tribal Law) all night. I worry about  4WD missing their chance for glory.  First thing in the morning I go down to see the Hard Rock Hell management.  They say they have been inundated with fans coming up asking about Four Wheel Drive. They confirm to me that 4WD will go on. The band will play at the end of the ‘day’ on the Old Skool NWOBHM Stage  – They will have a slot right at the end of the afternoon on this (smaller) stage set in the Queen Victoria pub (within the camp.) They will go on after the likes of Dumpys Rust Nuts and Hammerhead etc. It is not a grand stage.  It is not even a great setting. But it’s gonna be just right …. just right because those other old skool bands will warm up the crowd in all the right places. And what about Danny from Tribal Law?  “No news” says the man …. “But I hear he is OK”.

So we wait till the end of the ‘day’ for Four Wheel Drive.  We pass the time with the bands like Kingston’s Pig Iron (amazing Southern style raw metal) and Girlschool, Glitterati and Tigertailz.  Then we move into the Queen Vic ‘pub’ which is heaving with hot sweaty rock luvvas grinding to the sounds of Hammerhead.  For a few anxious moments it looks like Hammerhead don’t wanna relinquish the stage to the ‘new’ boys – Four Wheel Drive.  Paddy and Ben are standing at the back of the stage with sullen expressions upon their faces – well it is understandable,  this is their second day without booze ! God love ‘em.   But, anyway,  the stage manager (a rather short man wearing a cap that is too large for him and comedy eye-wear) finally tells old-timers Hammerhead to ‘F** Off’ and ushers on our hard working rock heroes…

The hairy festival poet introduces our boys and makes reference to their latest album.  He gives ’em a good, solid warm up and even goes some way to explaining why their gig had been postponed from the previous night.

For a few moments I thought that the crowd of NWOBHM die-hard fans would wander off from the area, but 4WD caught ‘em with an amazingly electrifying opening that cleared the way for a stupendous set.   Hooray!  Four Wheel Drive had finally made it. They had got to the zone before the zone had got to them…

The band’s balls-out Rock N’ Roll ‘attitude’ has accelerated considerably since the last times I caught ‘em live.  They are now less Southern Rockin in sound and stature and instead play a harder variety of rock / heavy metal. Yes, the Southern blues influences are still there but now the sound is brasher, bolder,  more self-assured.   Their’s is now mainstream variety rock, fit to fill stadiums – think the Australian rockers Airbourne to get an idea.

Paddy and Ben, stripped to the waist, played intertwining guitar solo arrangements and brazenly brash chords with flare and finesse and the excitement was truly raw and unpretentious. Will played Herculean drums with pride and pomposity, beating out the rhythm until the fragile walls of the pub began to tremble in sympathy.  The crowd roared with delight as the band ladled out the hits like ‘White Lines’  and ‘High Roller’.

The spectacle and the sheer brute force of this band were more than the ears (or eyes) could behold. Yet the Hard Rock Hell punters were screaming for more. As I looked around the venue I realised that scores more rockers were filing into the venue from next door (Stage 2) – which I assume was hosting Witchfynde.

The best man of the day, however, was – for me – the 4WD front man and bassist Jamie. He stands out like a tall icon of common sense and propriety in between the berserk frizzy mopped guitar twins. He holds his guitar high and shakes his black locks. His voice is so large it should come with its own planning application stapled to the front of the speaker boxes.  His voice adds another huge layer to the crisp sounds and textures going on in a flurry of activity around him. This band is so great and the sounds are so enriching, that you want to jump, jive and jig for joy.

In the latter stages of the incredible set, as Jamie introduced the band to the rapturous crowd and thanked Total Rock Radio and Hard Rock Hell for the opportunity to play the festival he also took out time to mention Tribal Law.  A shriek and claps rose up from the crowd. Everyone looked around to see where the gleeful noise was coming from.  “He is here …. He is here” a female voice squeals out.  Standing at the back of the crowd, hidden by a glass panel, was none other than Danny the lead singer from Tribal Law.  He had made ‘a full recovery’ and was watching Four Wheel Drive play their show.

After all that we had been through – that was truly the final blessing!

© Neil_Mach

December 2009

Link:

http://www.myspace.com/4wdtheband

The news item about the collapse of Tribal Law lead singer Danny Adams:

http://www.rockradio.co.uk/rock-news/singer-collapses-on-hard-rock-hell-stage/fzyc3rry/

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Lady and the Lost Boys

Lady and the Lost Boys Nov 28,  The Old Fire Station, Windsor

Playing music from the Berkshire school of damp labradors, green wellies, moist Edinburgh woollens and  ‘Mummy Knows Best ’ attitudes, this band played a short but sweet set at the Firestation Arts Centre, Windsor on Sat 28t November.

The smallish crowd sat in patient lines, cross-legged on the wooden floor, humble like children in the school end-of-term concert.

Lady and the Lost Boys are a female lead five-piece band with chunky bass guitar, tantalizing percussion, emotive keyboards and a multi-talented muso who bounces between guitar, keys and even supplemental percussion, providing layers of texture as each song unfolds.

The introspective topics of the songs are based upon personal experiences and transparent memories – coming largely from a female perspective. Sipping a coffee in the breaks, petite dark haired vocalist Annabel Jones sings the Legoland, Camberwick Green, Technicolor songs from the Lady and the Lost Boys song-book.  Her delivery reminds me of ‘Alanis Morissette’ and to a lesser extent,  ‘Elizabeth Fraser’ (not so ethereal) and her voice is airy, high register and distinct enough to cut above the harmonic texture of music. Some of the songs ended with melodramatic yet creative ‘shoe-gaze’ blended sounds – others ended on a hand-clap or a jingle.

A few pared down guitar riffs are well hidden and tend to illuminate rather than detract from the amorphous sounds and add drama and insistence when required. The experience is fascinating and calming reminding me a lot of ‘Alison’s Halo’.

One of my favourites was the bass heavy (bass by Robin Pearson) song ‘That’s OK’. This is a song rippling with action, combining integrated piano tinkling and rat-a-tat percussion with honey sweet lyrical content delivered in a breathy, whisper-in-your ear style. The clappy and trilling chorus was nod-headingly joyful and the extraordinarily well-behaved and obviously well educated audience showed their appreciation with understated murmuring claps. Gently unfolding lyrics such as  “How many gold coins should I put aside before I’m out of debt in your eyes . . . “ demonstrate the band’s ambitions as poetic quality shoegazers.

This is a band for a damp autumn evening by the open-fire, or to listen to on your Ipod as you take your golden retriever for a walk down the leaf-fall winter lanes.  Thoroughly recommended.

© Neil_Mach

Link:

www.myspace.com/ladyandthelostboys

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