Tag Archives: neil_mach

Brother and Bones Live at Boiler Room Guildford

At the cramped Fishbowl Brighton © Neil_Mach

Every now and then a band comes along that really chippers us up. Brother And Bones really bounce. They put passion in your heart. This is one of the best live bands on the circuit today. They play like rabid beasts. They look like mythological heroes. And they write music that even the gods would bless. This is a band you dare not miss.

We first saw them playing live at this year’s Great Escape.  They were playing in a tiny pub –  ‘The Fishbowl’  in Brighton.  Most of the audience had to stand outside the public house and peer in through the windows to see their show.   Brother And Bones are the kind of band that need a lot of room. And I mean a lot … there are five of them, and they even have two drum kits.   Yet, here they were crashing and smashing around a cramped room.  And they played that gig after they had played a tiny launderette!  Give them their due.  These lads work hard.

During the summer, we caught them again at the fabulous RedFest music festival, set in the beautiful rural surroundings of Robins Cook Farm , Redhill, Surrey. This time the band had a huge stage to move around in.  And they utilised every inch of the space they were given. They are so energetic, it makes you feel tired just watching.

We had another opportunity to see the band this week at Guildford’s favourite venue – The Boiler Room.  The place was packed. The atmosphere was electric.

Their debut single,  ‘Back to the Shore’ has a dark heart, and streams of strumming black passion.  Angry vocals are spat out against storms from the guitar. And as the anger and the fire builds up, you realize that you will reach an outstanding and tumultuous chorus. And when it comes, it is literally stamped and thumped out.  They rage around the stage as if they are trying to put out a sudden blaze. It is about as expressive as you can get. And as exciting as having a tiger claw the pants from your body.

‘Good For You’ has a growling guitar that curls his lip at you and snarls out his intent. The vocals from Rich are manfully wrenched from his gut, and the pounding drums rabidly fluster. Every now and then a pure note is squeaked out from James on lead guitar. Then he builds up the pace, whining, moaning and throttling the life out of the strings.  After a good pounding of drums, the song opens up into a swaggering, swaying chorus. What a song. What a band.

James Willard at RedFest 2012 © Neil_Mach

‘Skin and Bone’ is bleating and haunting. An extraordinary verse dribbles before it crawls. Then it burns and blisters your heart with its disturbing relevance.  You don’t get much more masculine than front man  Rich Thomas. And his voice, on this song, is a mixture of bitter rum, black tobacco and barely held back, tense manhood.

‘Hold Me Like The Sun’ is the most folk-rock sounding of their output on the night. But Brother and Bones surpass all other peers in their genre. They sound genuinely ferocious on this song. It is as animalistic as it is raw. It must be the combination of razor-sharp percussion, sepulchral vocals and rushing guitars. This song places them in a breed apart from other contemporary folk-rockers.

At the Boiler Room, Guildford, Brother And Bones worked the stage like crazy animals. Wringing every gram of sweat from their pores. And almost destroying their instruments with a fury rarely seen.

Strewth! We look forward to seeing again.

– © Neil_Mach November 2012 –

Link: www.facebook.com/brotherandbones


Slade Live at The Anvil Basingstoke

Slade Live – Anvil Basingstoke – © Neil_Mach November 2012

When I was in school there was only one band that you were proud to say that you had seen play live. It was Slade. This was before they became a joke. It was before you dared not admit you liked Slade. Before their records were remaindered in Woolies. It was before Noddy left to go to be an actor in The Grimleys.  It was even before Slade became a household name, part of our national heritage and glam-rock heroes. It was before they gave us their Christmas number one. It was when they were known for just one thing – for being the best hard rock act around.

In those days, at school, things were divided into two musical camps: One lot liked hippy stuff. They liked Yes, Pink Floyd and Tyrannosaurus Rex (not T. Rex.)  This lot went around in hippy clothes such as loon pants, cheese-cloth shirts and old trench coats. They said “Peace” a lot. The other camp – the ones that adults called “Skinheads” (point of order – we just called them “Skins”) had short hair, wore boots, and liked Slade. This was before punk. It was before 2-tone. It was long  before ‘Madness.’ The only thing that the skins could call their own kind of music was Dave and Ansell Collins. And Slade.

Slade came out of the Black Country in 1971 with “Get Down and Get With It”. And with it came boot stomping rock ‘n’ roll heaven. That song was originally recorded by Little Richard for the “Okeh Sessions” . And it gave everyone a chance to get their boots on and stamp their feet.

The Slade boys – drummer Don Powell, guitarist Dave Hill, singer Noddy Holder and bassist Jim Lea were raised on fine music – such as John Lee Hooker and Howlin’ Wolf. They had played support slots for bands such as The Yardbirds (fore runners of Led Zeppelin.) In 1971 it was their chance to take centre stage.

Slade made the wearing of Crombie coats, cherry red Doc Martens, and Sta-Prest Levi’s with braces, seem cool and trendy. And even if that conjured up images of skinheads who were more like Dick Emery’s idiot creation  ‘Bovver boy’  (and his even more idiotic his father – played by Roy Kinnear) –  Slade become a cult act, and skinhead rock was real.

Little Richard Get Down and Get With It

But, when Chas Chandler (former manager of Jimi Hendrix), came into possession of the brand, and began to drive the musicians towards success, things began to get out of hand. After the successful – and much-loved single “Coz I Luv You” (written by Lea and Holder) we then got a flurry of misspelled pop songs like “Take Me Bak ‘Ome” and “Look Wot You Dun”. And Slade gradually became a ‘Glam Band’  I always thought that they seemed reluctant to go down the glam-rock path.  Well, except for Dave, that is.  His glitter wig and super-yob guitar can never be forgotten. The story goes that, after an altercation in the dressing room on Top of the Pops – when Jim once again criticised Dave for wearing a tin foil jumpsuit – Dave allegedly responded to the criticism  by saying “You write ‘em Jim,  and I’ll sell em !”

Looking back at the early 1970’s (and in light of the Jimmy Savile allegations) I sometimes get a feeling of nausea – rather than nostalgia about the times. This was the era that brought us Gary Glitter and “Do You Wanna Touch Me? (Oh Yeah)” with the “Do you wanna touch me there, where?” lyric. It was addressed to little girls.  And little boys. And I also remember Sweet’s ‘Little Willy’ (You can’t push Willy round, Willy won’t go.) And just knew that Mary Whitehouse would write in about it.

So when Slade played live at the Anvil Basingstoke this week, it was probably reasonable to exclude “Skweeze Me, Pleeze Me” from the set list. And thinking about this reminds me that my favourite song by Slade was “Gudbuy T ‘Jane” and it was kept from the No 1 slot by the  innuendo laden Chuck Berry hit “My Ding-a-Ling.” (Which Mary did complain about.)

Today, the Slade line-up is:  Vocals and guitar Mal McNulty (previously with Paddy Goes To Holyhead and Sweet) John Berry on bass / backing vocals and violin (he has worked with Mud), and the original band members Don Powell on drums and super-yob Dave Hill on lead guitar.

At the Anvil, the band worked their way through a series of ‘Crazee’  rock numbers – and they had the audience up and dancing almost immediately. Just like the old days.  Everyone was standing. Everyone was stomping . Best songs in the show were, for my money, the excellent “Everyday” (I forgot how good that number was) and the Celtic sounding  song “Run Runaway”.

I missed “Far Far Away” and I really liked “Nobody’s Fool”  back in 1976. But that was forgotten too. But we still got “Mama Weer All Crazee Now”. Thank goodness.

Dave Hill still haunts the stage with that silly smile of his. Trying to boot things. Still being the class clown. And Don still looks as menacing as he ever has been. Mal actually sounds like Noddy. And that must be a hard act to follow. And John played a passable violin solo on “Coz I Luv You” – but it was not as good as Jim Lea. Their performance was exhilarating. Strong, heavy and full of fun. Just like a Slade show should be.

Some of these old bands become shadows of themselves. They sometimes become affectionate cover bands. Of their own music. But Slade have not crumbled. They are still full of energy.  It’s encouraging.  They really know how to perform. And they are loud.   That’s why they brought the house down at the Reading Festival in 1980

And before the curtain call at The Anvil, Dave came out on stage to thank the audience. “It was not a bad year that?” He chirped. “It’s been good hasn’t it?” Everyone agreed and clapped some more. Party hats were rushed on by roadies. And the group got back on stage. And they played “Merry Xmas Everybody”.

Before the concert, I was thinking about that song. And I was hoping that they would not play it. But they did. And do you know what? It brought a tear to my eye.

– © Neil_Mach November 2012 –



The Planes Live at Boiler Room Guildford

The Planes are a four piece indie rock band from Portsmouth, on the south coast of England. They have been gigging since February 2011 and have since then reached the finals of The Wedgewood Rooms Showcase, and they have played the Southsea Fest. They have also played gigs with Club NME, supporting up and coming acts like Cerebral Ballzy, Jumping Ships and Sad Day For Puppets. Having enjoyed local success the lads are now keen on bringing their sound to a larger audience across the UK.

Raw Ramp was lucky enough to catch the band at Surrey’s favourite live music venue – The Boiler Room, Guildford on Friday 05 October, where they supported Films of Colour, Cities of Glass and Secret Son.

The sound of The Planes is haughty and trashy. They come across as lonely lanky lads, with floppy hair dos, devil-don’t-care attitudes, and bucket loads of style. Imagine the Stone Roses crossed with the Libertines to get something of an idea of what’s going on. They readily admit to being inspired by the Small Faces, and that shines through, in their looks and their polish.

Songs like ‘Looking At Me’ illustrate the ability of the band to find a hook and then use it, masterfully. Mike Smith’s vocals (lead vocalist and rhythm guitar) are clear-cut and inspired. And the harmonies are sweet. Sweet as honeyed rye. Guitar work is precise and imperious. The drumming ( Ollie Shaw) is as tight as a Punkie’s doodah.

The Planes song ‘On Demand’ reminded me of work by The Style Council. Crisp arrangements, smooth bass lines (Chris Smith) , and just the right amount of peppered funk. When the lyrics are peeled back, they reveal an inconsistent maturity.

The band played a new song at The Boiler Room – which, they say, will be on the highly anticipated new EP ( released next month.) ‘Stay The Weekend’ has crunchy chords, dizzy harmonies and a terribly catchy chorus … as well as those shamelessly sashaying guitars from Sam Wardle (lead guitar) .

As the band squeezed out their last song, I got to thinking that we are going to see a lot more of these guys. And that’s a good thing.

© Neil_Mach October 2012



Ghost of the Highway Work with Paul Frost on New Album

Ghost of the Highway are a heavy rock trio from the Guildford / Dorking area.  Already renowned locally for their hard hitting songs and energetic live performances, together with their hard working punk rock ethic – they are spreading their wings outside the County – and now slowly becoming sought after across the land.

This particular ghost story begins in late 2010 when guitarist Jon Lett wandered into a bar, despondent from the breakup of his former bands. There he met drummer Jack “Gump” Summerfield. After waxing lyrical about the status of the local scene and the bands in it, helped by copious quantities of alcohol, Jon and Gumpo decided to join forces to see if they could create their own destiny and deny the forces of evil their victory.

After a fair amount of hard work, trials and tribulations, 2 bassists and surviving the generally perilous state along the way, Ghost of the Highway released a demo EP titled “Hope and Other Four Letter Words” in 2011 (on bedroom label Specky Records) to rave reviews. In the September of that year they met bassist Jack “Willy” Williams and the noble triumvirate was formed. At this point the local scene was buzzing for the band, so it was time to hit the studio for a (really) mini album. With producer Paul Frost [Zico Chain], behind the desk and offering guidance, Ghost of the Highway finished working on their amazing debut album earlier this year. The first single “So Sick” is now available through iTunes and is already creating quite a stir…

We had a listen to this exciting ‘mini album’ and this is what we thought:

“So Sick” –  The spirted fizz of this track sweeps you off your feet right from the very start. This high energy tune strives to be something even bigger than you can possibly imagine. Classic low-down riffs combine with creative harmonies that are not only very pleasant in their own right, but also recall the irrepressible magnificence of such classic rock masters – such as Alice Cooper. ‘Nuff said?

“Preacherman” – Slightly softer in focus than the ‘So Sick’ track, this still resounds with the spirit and imagination of truly inspirational classic rock. A bunch of beautiful arrangements allows you to get into the very heart of this song … Then the chiming and hummable chorus really gets those hooks into you.

Ghost of the Highway © Neil_Mach 2011

This spoons out enormous splodges of fudgy guitar and a walking bass that will not let go of your neck muscles. The dirty riffs coat you in grease- and the vocals are the kinda 1950’s sleazy sounds that you might hear in some downtown car mechanics crumbling place.  The percussion on this track is outstanding… with piles of shimmering cymbals and blasts of crackpot yet symmetrical drums.  Fuzzy but enormously enjoyable.

“Second Rate”- This has streamers of guitar that fly in the wind as this song rushes down a rickety track hurtling towards the entrance to the tunnel of love. Sneering vocals and a blustering fast beat adds to the illusion of freerunning – and being totally dizzy-silly out-of-control.

“March of the Pigs”
A lightly tapped out hook starts this whole thing off, but then the glorious verse starts to overwhelm the listener- emblazoned with licks and splashes of guitar. Generous riffs create a wholesome texture that may remind you of big hair bands like Bon Jovi. But this song also has a style and a substance of its own.  And, most importantly, this will be a real anthemic chant-along  when played live.

“Another Pretty Boy”
This has some jarring notes,  strident chords and faltering rhythms before the shimmering fullness of the song charges into view. A  fizzy pop confection with a punky beat and sardonic lyrics- the sounds are perfectly suited to  the title and the theme.

This is album is essential for anyone who calls themselves a classic rock enthusiast…

© Neil_Mach June 2012

Buy So Sick here:


Check out the band here:



Rietta Austin – Live in Staines

You might expect a cynical or even a jaded offering from an accomplished pub singer and hard-working funk-rock / soul performer like Rietta Austin. But what greeted the music lovers at Staines Riverside Club on May 26 was a show of exquisite charm and unprecedented freshness.  Rietta was as bold and as sweet as any flush faced  teen performer you may see on telly. Yet  more polished and professional than any them!  A most unlikely “prima donna” indeed.

Flying into an amazing tear-away set – opening with a sweeping version of ‘Knock On Wood’ the ‘Bright Lights, Big City’ singer gave us a glossy, yet youthful, show at the Riverside Club.  Full of totally vivacious energy and warm heartfelt joy , the curvy singer seemed to be literally bursting with a lusciously infectious spirit.

Rietta is credited with being the first artist to open the O2 Arena in London headlining their Community Event June 20, 2007. [ http://youtu.be/D26whvywMG0]
Coming from New Zealand, and continuing to have many professional and personal ties with her home continent of Australasia, her voice has been described as “Truly a voice that must be heard.” – Kirk Pengilly, INXS

After telling the Staines audience that she would play a few of her own works, sprinkled with some choice covers, she sang the deliciously melancholy Stevens/Ross number ‘Wildflower’  followed by a virtuous cover of fellow kiwi Sharon O’Neill’s 1983 hit  “Maxine”.

By the Jon Bovi number “Livin’ on a Prayer”  (produced with great gusto and fire), we had already witnessed  her magnificent and legendary four octave vocal range. And an exciting wardrobe malfunction during a lively session of tambourine, was narrowly avoided when Rietta, looking down,  realized that she was about to be undone.

This was during one of a pair of numbers when the singer allowed the impeccably funky band some time to ‘go their own way’. Another such piece was the eloquently arranged Hendrix number ‘Little Wing’ where Tom Walker (Guitar) played out a solo of such amazing quality that he managed to gain his own warm ovation.

But it was Rietta’s sweetly booming voice that the punters had come for. From so low that you thought the earth beneath you would crack open, to higher than the highest conceivable highs – like a tiny songbird – her range is undefinable and utterly magnificent.  Each thrilling song was gloriously realized by a vocalist who is renowned, quite rightfully,  for her sensuality and her highly charged stamina. Sensational.

© Neil_Mach May 2012




Stirring Stories of Highway’s Hobos and Heroes Win Tribal Chieftain’s Praise

Keith Beasley – Highways Hobos and Heroes

The 14 songs on this country-blues album have been written, recorded and compiled by Keith Beasley over a period of 15 years (1995 – 2010) and have been chosen by him from an extensive song-book … as the songs that mean the most personally. He admits to being heavily influenced by the nostalgia of a highly stylized American culture. Keith is an accomplished blues, folk and rock ‘n’ roll musician.  He has played many gigs in and around Staines with his ONE FOR THE ROAD band.  This is an eagerly anticipated album of his collected inspirations and influences.

Songs such as ‘Wounded Knee’  have almost Dylanesque chord structures growing within them, and in this tune the chords seem to echo out across the Mesa. The words in the song tumble down gracefully – like the tears on Red Cloud morning . Harmonicas flare occasionally, as those old heart aching embers are rekindled. This gently stirring  country song ambles along in the midday sun with a suitable lope and a knowing glint in a saddened eye.

Since this album is a journey through the hobo States, it is no surprise that there are a lot of train references. ‘Mystery Train’ is one such reference- a chugging steamer of a song, pounding its way up the tracks with an agreeable thud.

‘Ghost Train’ is a bit more ashen faced. Lazy-necked and slippery bottled strings are peeled from Keith’s guitar like the skins from a tacked up side-winder. The out-and-out  blues rhythms clutter along. A harmonica frolics with whiskey soaked guitars, as manful rhythms stride purposefully down a dusty line.

‘Looking for The Country’ is a traditional rock and blues merrymaking roister-doister of a piece. You’ll need to polish the tips on your bolo-tie and watch your boot-straps don’t snag on her hems – because I guarantee that you’ll not stop dancing to this one!

‘57 Chevrolet’ has a buzzing riff and feels like a real man-sized road-song- it’s chock full of smoke and dust. ‘Heat of The Night’ opens with organ sounds, and it really feels like a night under stars south of the “Big River”. The song retains it’s big hot city swagger, amidst the grime and stench of a dirty Maquiladora. And a burst of juicy sax retells the magnificence that could even be possible here in this squalid heat.

Another train song is ‘The Southbound Train’ a hardy blues outing with those familiar globular, throaty vocals from Keith, powdered with silica-dust rhythms.

The album finishes with ‘The Saddest Song’  a tune that perfectly suits Keith’s guttural, gurgled voice. A lamenting story, decorated by bowls of mournful bass-notes. This is bleak and blameless yet perks up when the whines and cries of swirling guitars rise against the smoky fogs of despair. Things brighten up as the song unfolds into perfect harmony and heaven sent clemency.

This album has already been given the great seal of approval from Radio Kili, (the Lakota Sioux Radio Station in South Dakota, out on the Pine Ridge Reservation.) Keith has received messages of support and “Woplia” (Great Thanks) from Morris Bull Bear who is the living descendant of Chief Bull Bear – killed by Red Cloud in a tribal dispute. Apparently Morris Bull Bear’s family love the ‘Wounded Knee’ song.

© Neil_Mach May 2012
Grab The Album Here on Amazon

See Keith LIVE at:
The Red Lion, 92-94 Linkfield Road, Isleworth, next Saturday – 2nd June

Subsource – live at Boileroom, Guildford

A doomed and condemned cyberpunk generation of damp Surrey urbanites turned out in force during this weekend’s wet & windy conditions to party with their favourite cross-over band. Subsource are not punk, neither are they drum’n’bass. They’re not modern indie rock. They are not dubstep nor metal – they are an amalgam of all of these styles. A truly holistic sound. Theirs is the sound of justice and conscientious inclusiveness. But, more importantly, they drive their audiences wild with their hysterically energetic live sets and their blistering hot musicianship. We were at the superb Boileroom venue in Guildford to witness this sensational act.

Promising some bombastic pieces such as the recent single ‘On My Video’ (created as a result of the riots in London and railing against the lack of values / worth in a consumer society) this song goes giddy with those spraying & wallowing splash-bass beats, strained to-the-max vocals and gigantic proportions.

Subsource are also famous for their re-smashed covers, clocking up thousands of internet hits by re-treading old songs by the likes of RATM and SOAD. One of these, ‘Breed’ (Nirvana), is a pelting sand-storm blast of sounds that will make your eyes water. It is an effervescent vortex of energy that pulls you down into its depths, whilst you are left crazily fighting for breath.

We especially liked the band’s latest work such as ‘The Feeding’ (from the brand-spanking-new ‘Generation Doom’ E.P. ) with it’s pendulum of rhythms swaying one-way, then the next.The spots of sound are ripped away like sticking-plasters, only to be re-locked and wedged into gaps elsewhere. But the piece centres around a well-spring of golden sentiment and a giddy ‘Feeding’ chorus. This vessel may be cracked and stained, but it still holds the juice in. Take some!

Our favourite new song is ‘Molotov’ with beeps and sparks of electronic energy and squeals of pain, as those lacerating guitars take hold. This is razor-sharp and full of throated grunge. With ‘Kurt Cobain’ style vocals and a series of hugely successful riffs … any metal fan would be proud to have this in his collection.

Or ‘Kill The Thief’ which introduces the audience to an ambient side, of low oscillations, which spit along amiably before the full majesty of the show really takes hold. This then becomes regal. It is power – but wielded for the good of all.

Moving towards a memorable climax and looking forward to a storming version of the Queens of the Stone Age standard “Feel Good Hit of the Summer ” we suddenly lost all sound – suffering ‘technical difficulties’ that nearly put paid to the show. Apparently a brand new amplifier performed an act of ritual suicide. And so Boileroom was left silent. After some helpful advice from the audience, like “Turn it off and turn it back on again” and “Try giving it some red bull, it normally works for me” the band reluctantly withdrew back stage for at least 30 mins, whilst a replacement amplifier was found.

Back on stage to a rapturous reception, Subsource seemed a little subdued, and the mob certainly seemed calmer – “We can’t see any sweat on the crowd in the front” screamed out front-man Stuart – and the party got going again.

And what used to be filthy, dirty dub is now becoming so heavily tinged with metallic ideas that one delighted onlooker exclaimed “It’s like watching Gary Newman crossed with Pantera – it’s like dub-u-metal – I love it.”

© Neil_Mach April 2012

For more information about the Surgery Productions ‘Dubumentary’ Susbsource film visit:


Grab the ‘World of Tanks’ ‘Molotov’ track by visiting


See Subsource at Redfest- 20th July at Robins Cook Farm, Redhill, Surrey