Tag Archives: review

GODSPELL — by Eagle House at Wilde Theatre

It’s Lent so we decided to get “churched up” this week.

We headed to the excellent Wilde Theatre, at South Hill Park to see the Eagle House [ School in Sandhurst] present their GODSPELL.

The 1971 show with music by Grammy award winning Stephen Schwartz [Enchanted ] and a loose script based on the Gospel of Saint Matthew ( originally re-envisioned by playwright John-Michael Tebelak) is a popular show for touring companies and has enjoyed many revivals.

The structure of the GODSPELL musical is a series of parables interspersed by rock arias that have been inspired by the Book of Psalms.

The structure of the musical is a series of parables interspersed by rock arias that have been inspired by the Book of Psalms.

The original London production starred characters like Julie Covington, David Essex, Jeremy Irons and Marti Webb. We were fortunate enough to have seen the original West End Wyndhams production back in 1972. But we love to see new productions and were excited to see the Eagle House show.

In the Seventies the stage show was a fluid and conceptual performance. It borrowed elements from dance, music and circus to tell the story of “Christ’s Passion”.

In the early days of the stage-show the figure of Christ was dressed as a clown. His “tribe” were portrayed as a group of irresponsible, long-haired hippies.

Now the hippie clothing is gone, because today’s youth movements tend to be associated more with athletic trainers and sportswear. The younger elements of the Eagle House Godspell Team wore printed t-shirts with the hash-tagged “Godspell logo” while main cast members wore distinctive tartans.

The magnificent Wilde Theatre is perfect for this kind of innovative, unpretentious presentation. At Godspell the audience was seated on all four sides of the staging.

After the exultant sound of a brass shofar the audience and cast “Prepared” for the “Way of the Lord”. This first song was an exceptionally compelling and enthusiastic number, sung by the whole cast [all five teams] who circled the newly baptised Christ in a spiritual state. Followers were given rubber wristbands to show their affiliation and discipleship.

Exceptionally compelling and enthusiastic…

A characteristic of the earliest shows, and all theatrical productions since, has been topicality.

Once we saw Godspell during the period known as the Three-Day Week, this was in the “power-cut Seventies” and the big joke was that it didn’t matter how dark things got because the audience was “The light of the World.”

Similarly, during the storytelling from Eagle House we had mentions of Facebook, Premier Inn, Justin Bieber and Fake News.

And of course the big, rich baddie (before “All for the Best” ) was Donald Trump.

Ben Trunck, perhaps shorter in stature than we expected, played a fascinating Jesus character — full of vivid personality. While Mark Dickin interpreted Judas skulking presence perfectly.

A feeling of “loving community” encompassed everything…

Each year group of Eagle House wanted to stage their own parable and musical number — so this meant the show was a wonderful consolidation of excellent sketches — each interconnected with the next.

The overall experience, from the perspective of the audience, was a feeling of “loving community” that encompassed everything.

Day By Day” always was — and still is — the most memorable song from the show and in Basingstoke the number was handled intelligently and with sympathy.

All Good Gifts” was brilliantly choreographed and elegantly efficient. Also, at one point, after “Save the People” we had an army of scary zombies grabbing at souls…

There was humour, movement, excitement and tenderness throughout the show — with great dramatic use of simple objects, like the coloured blocks.

Our favourite song was “On The Willows” — it came after the Last Supper scene. Psalm 137 — from which the song is taken — has been set to music by several composers over the years and the lament found in Godspell is possibly the best of all of them. The Eagle House vocalists performed the difficult harmonies with distinction.

This was an excellent production.

All 128 cast members [ages 9 to 13] should be congratulated, as well as their staff at Eagle House and the committed parents who made it all possible.

5 Stars

Words: @neilmach 2017 ©
Links: https://www.facebook.com/pg/SouthHillParkArtsCentre

Godspell at The Wilde Theatre, South Hill Park was ann amateur production presented by special arrangement with Samuel French Ltd


WEYFEST 2016 Review

Last weekend we attended WEYFEST 2016 – it is the 10th Anniversary of this perfect family-friendly three-day festival held each year at the Rural Life Centre in Tilford, near Farnham in Surrey. We arrived on Saturday.

Tthe superior SAIICHI SUGIYAMA band here with Artze Monica
Tthe superior SAIICHI SUGIYAMA band here with Artze Monica

Opening the Main Stage at the Weyfest on Saturday was the superior SAIICHI SUGIYAMA band [@SaiichiSugiyamaBand] a Surrey outfit that was started by British blues guitarist Sugiyama in the late 1960s and early 1970’s.

Their funk/soul sounds are ornamented by rich and fluent guitar-work while the band also boasts some extraordinaryly talented female vocalists. For example, at the Beekeepers Stage we were entertained by the passionate Artze Monica and the Californian beauty Joanna Pearl. Songs like their “Somewhere Down The Road” possessed ribald squelches and fervent heat.

Festival 'favorites' LEATHERAT ...
Festival ‘favorites’ LEATHERAT …

LEATHERAT have released five studio albums; most recently “Snake Eyes” but are really most famous as a ‘festival band.’

In fact the first time we saw their excellent show was at the Bearded Theory fundraiser in Guildford years ago. We also caught them at Cropredy. This year they have been exuberantly celebrating their tenth year in existence… though they have had a few ‘make-overs’ during the decade. We thoroughly enjoyed their impressive folk-rock show and loved Leon’s solo.

We were surprised how much we adored THE WURZELS. They were on after Leatherat. We hate to admit it, but this was the first time we had ever seen ’em.

Before this show we pretty much wrote off the West-country lads because we assumed [perhaps rightly] that they were just a ‘novelty band’ and it’s true their show at Weyfest was full of silliness and comedy. But actually, we dare suggest, they can actually play. And certainly they are great performers.

We were pleased to see that Darth Vader boogied to the silly beats. Incidentally, most of their melodies have been brazenly nicked from other more-famous numbers… then decorated with the legendary West Country burr.

Puncture from THE ROOZ at WEYFEST 2016
Puncture from THE ROOZ at WEYFEST 2016

We have been following Birmingham alt-rockers THE ROOZ for a while so we were pleased to see the lads at Surrey’s best music fest. Songs like their recent single “Puncture” had soaring heights and sparkling guitars.

Over at the Old Kiln Stage was the Surrey Hills Ukulele Big Band aka SHUBB. This orchestra of blighty souls armed with ukes and pipes entertained the ukulelian crowd with masterful professionalism.

Of course most revellers had come to see WISHBONE ASH and THE DARKNESS but there were plenty of other sights and smells to be enjoyed. Not least were the roaming daleks, The Racing Bug challenge [to win a scalextric] and even a Laser Quest area.

Our favorite side-show was the THE WIDDERS those purple-clad border Morris-Dancers from Chepstow [@TheWiddersBM] who stomped , cracked and clapped seven barrels of sh** out of each other.

JO HARMAN got revelers up and dancing on Sunday ...
JO HARMAN got revelers up and dancing on Sunday …

We looked forwards to the show from blues singer JO HARMAN on Sunday. She drew a large crowd even though she was on stage early-on. Her songs, for example the Hendrixy number “The Reformation” got folk up and dancing… Jo is quite something! She is playing an extra special show at St John’s Church Godalming, October 14th. Info on her site.

On at the Old Kiln were Portsmouth’s indie rock ‘n’ rollers THE BAYONETTES whose complicated yet accessible songs were lucid and effective.

THE BAYONETTES - lucid and effective ...
THE BAYONETTES – lucid and effective …

INGLORIOUS were unable to perform at Weyfest, due to illness/injury. Luckily, in their place we had the incredible BROKEN WITT REBELS [@BrokenWittRebelsUK] whose trusty-rusty roots ‘n’ ashes blues ‘n’ soul numbers oozed into our glands… It was as if we were seeing Led Zeppelin for the first time! Circa 1968. No I’m not kidding and this is not hyperbole. This young blues-rock band from Birmingham with the amazing Danny Core on vocals are that good!

Broken Witt Rebels - as if we were witnessing Led Zeppelin in 1968 ...
Broken Witt Rebels – as if we were witnessing Led Zeppelin in 1968 …

After that we had the BLOW MONKEYS and the BOOMTOWN RATS to enjoy. This was an excellent festival. With artists of quality, lots to do and see (in addition to the music) plenty of good food and drink and expert organization and administration.

WEYFEST is probably the best managed  event we have been to all year!  So congrats to all the team at WEYFEST. Happy tenth anniversary.

Right, how does it go? “Ruby, ruby, ruby…. ooh arr — ooh arr — ooh arr ...”

Words & Images : Neil Mach 2016 ©
Main Picture: Weyfest 2016 with Joanna Pearl
Link: http://www.weyfest.co.uk

The Surrey Hills Ukulele Big Band aka SHUBB at WEYFEST 2016 ...
The Surrey Hills Ukulele Big Band aka SHUBB at WEYFEST 2016 …

Four Wheel Drive – High Roller – Album Review

Four Wheel Drive

High Roller

With their catchy head banging compulsive choruses, sweet as honey-trap guitar licks, and piping hot lead guitar breaks with vocals that gasp for air due to their hi-octane dependency – Four Wheel Drive put on one hell of a live show.  So I expected nothing less from their new album “High Roller” –  produced by Misha Nikolic at Monster Track. (Half Ton Records). And I was not disappointed.  With production as slick as the suntan oil found on the damp smooth parts of a Texan sports-illustrated swim-wear model, this exuberant offering is drenched in tequila, whiffs of marlboro smoke and is as taut and as tempting as a showgirls G-string.

From the first track, ‘White Lines’ (for me the stand-out track on this recording) with its backdrop of crisp ‘n crunchy rhythms and croaking charcoal vocals, this album springs to life with the kind of vitality you thought was lost back in 1980.

These boys seem to have time travelled here from the Bon Scott era – but that is no bad thing.  ‘Cos back then we got treble the excitement, a pressure cooker of rock n roll antics and music as hot as a hookers hosiery. It is about time we reinvested some of our latent energy into supporting and backing this kinda pure and simple rock and roll.

‘Blood on the Walls’ is another wheezing rasping romp from the feelgood southernmost-point of the 4WD catalogue of rock. This song is a hot-tub of hoochie-coochie tension and you call feel the warm Dixieland sun smiling through each high-note. ‘High Roller’ encompasses startling cascades of percussion from Will and some shrieking vocals from Jamie – that are stretched as tight and as dangerous as a nervous holdup man’s stocking mask. This is one of their many AC/DC sounding tracks – a real motoring, hammering song that rivets home its message deep into your skull.

‘The Visions Gone’ was created with short brisk brush-strokes and has those bar-room blackjack stubbly lyrics and swaggering sneering cocksure vocals you’d expect in that kinda low-down dirty dive.  ‘The Game’ has the trills and juicy jolts of jostling guitar chords enlightened by lyrical lead guitar, and  also  embracing  some  embroidered work by rhythm guitar and percussion.
This is the first of a few Stonesy tracks from the 1970’s.

‘Six Foot Poster’ is old style rock n roll with a boogie sounding cheese-board of bite sized flavoursome bits n pieces. ‘Big Fat and Ugly’ has an enduring bass led background, rumpy dumpy thumpy bass-lines and some powerfully expressive moments. ‘ Rough around the Edges ‘ also sounds like Rolling Stones (circa ‘Tumbling Dice’ era) with counterpoints of puncturing sweet high notes against a compelling backdrop of thrumming chords.

‘Take a Drag’ takes you further back into rock n roll history with some dog-eared Eddie Cochranesque old-time rock n roll including some gee-tar licks that even Chuck Berry would approve of.

‘Time to Go’ is another of my favourites. Tight as a Vegas strippers garter this one, with luminous lead, timely harmonic twists, and  even a harmonica break. And this song incorporates a classy twin guitar tournament. This is one helluva tune . “Roll up ladies and gentlemen it is time to go… ” and tickets for this rock n roll groove train are up for grabs.

If I had any criticisms of the album they would be few.  This is an exuberant offering and at times the execution is tantalising.  Perhaps there is nothing crucial here. Furthermore, it could do with a few big fat slabs of chiming guitar in places and some even more memorable riffs. And, alas, that fine rumbling-tumbling percussion heard on the ‘High Roller’ track is not found elsewhere.

But HIGH ROLLER  is feelgood, red-flamed, hot-blooded unashamed rock n roll. And about as good as it gets.

© Neil_Mach
February 2010
Download the High Roller Album now for just £6:99



White Lines
Blood On The Walls
High Roller
The Vision’s Gone
The Game
Six Foot Poster
Big Fat and Ugly
Rough Around The Edges
Take A Drag
Time to go

Produced by: Misha Nikolic
Half Ton records 2009

All compositions: Lailey /  Austwick





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Arcane Roots – Staines Hob October 4th

arcane rootsAND IT ALL STARTS with nylon . . .

It is Sunday in Staines and we witness another frenetic and electrifying concert by Arcane Roots.

This popular Surrey-based band is led by fuzzy mopped high-roller Andrew Groves with his cloying whimsical, skylarking highs and gurning crashing lows. It is like watching a glook trapped inside one of Mr Dyson’s see-through cyclones.

This ride is as gut wrenching as a trip over the Niagara Falls in a barrel. You get that sense of sublime grace and purity of spirit whilst you halt momentarily at the very edge of the precipice, but you are also very aware that in a just a few moments you will hurtle downwards, out-of-control, crashing into the destructive vortex below.

Yes, it is true that Andrew’s voice sounds like Mickey Mouse, after he has sucked up a helium balloon the size of a house, and has also been force-fed a mixture of amyl nitrate and ethanol (guzzled down with a keg of Red Bull.) And when he embraces his red guitar and begins to turbulently Flay and Play, you really start to believe that this Scissorhanded type creation is actually the work of a kindly yet absent-minded inventor who mistakenly added agricultural thrashing machines to the spindly arms instead of the normal working hands (or even scissors.)

Percussion and harmonies by Daryl and exquisite bass-lines and more texture with subtle tones from Adam meant that the smallish crowd at The Hob Staines had a lot to be pleased with. The set commenced with a howling and haunting ‘Nylon’ and grew more and more intense and fluently engaging- ending with a vastly exaggerated and hyperbolic blues number with searing and blistering guitar breaks from Andrew.

Powerful stuff. Please, please catch Arcane Roots soon.

© Neil_Mach
October 2009



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Netherworld Rocks


Netherworld Rocks! Feb 13th 2009 Old Ticket Hall, Windsor

“Heavyweight musicians” is not a term to be bandied about willy-nilly, but in the case of Netherworld, if the cap fits- wear it. Local lads (of a certain age) Jason Stretch, Paul Smith and Ian Roberts play the kind of heavy metal and industrial strength rock n’ roll that mama said would make your head go deaf. They play it so powerfully, and at such eardrum shreddingly high decibel levels, that it feels like your entrails have been torn clean from your body and whipped up into the electrically charged air in a frenzy of savage butchery.

Jason is the man mountain lead guitarist with a an effective voice and a cool-hand whose fingers lacerate the frets in a cruel, incisive, sharply cutting manner much like a sushi chef on a day-out at the samurai sword factory. His foaming froth of jet-black hair blowin’ free like a cornfield, and total concentration on the fingerwork, mark him out as a truly experienced and proficient axeman.

‘Smiffy’ Smith is the bands ‘second’ vocalist (he does mean and cruel vox whereas Jason does clean-cut yet impulsive vox) and looks like a slightly more paranoid version of Ritchie Blackmore with dark beady eyes glancing this way and that as if some unspecified, yet hideous, graveyard creature was stalking him. But his bass guitar pounds out those dark stormy notes with controlled aggression.

Ian Roberts looks like a slightly more gangly version of Robert Plant with a loose mop of golden locks constantly frizzing and boiling on top of the stove whilst, beneath, the frantic sticks pummel the hell out of a seriously large drum set. The effect is the musical equivalent of the advance of a mechanised infantry brigade. Threatening,  posturing,  powerful heavy metal.

Plenty of AC/DC goes down well with the crowd. Followed by bucketfuls of Thin Lizzy and washed down with Hendrix, Sabbath, Motorhead…this band have a large ‘biker following’ and you can see why. But the Windsor crowd at tonights Old Ticket Hall gig were slightly more charming and slightly less greasy than the normal Netherworld punters. They politely cheered
and clapped each song and were clearly delighted with the offerings from this metal madness.

The acoustics at the Ticket Hall didn’t do some of the songs justice and, at times, the feedback was annoying (the room is like a huge cathedral with an enormous high ceiling and yard-upon-yard of stark blank walls.)  A small stage canopy helps to muffle some of the echo, but the venue is a ‘difficult’ space. It was also damn cold on top of and in front of stage and the Netherworld boys were obviously having some difficulty getting their joints warmed up…I mean the joints in their fingers and wrists!! (No smokin’ inside the Old Ticket Hall.)

So, out into the crisp night air with my eardrums melting as quickly as last week’s garden snowman… what did I think of them? Hard working, monstrously strong and a multi-talented group of severely serious heavy metal masters. In fact, heavyweight musicians.

© 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

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


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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