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Geistfight at the Hob Staines

A couple of years after the end of ‘Abstract Genius’, Luke Daniels (Sax and Vocals ) and Nick Oliver began forming their new project – Geistfight.

Geistfight (from Guildford, Surrey) deliver energetic hardcore ska-punk in an interesting form – with plenty of oblique solos (on sax and guitar) and monumental musicality – all delivered with the kind of unbridled intensity that other bands only dream of.

Geistfight -evermore  effusive guitars - clamouring for more-and-more attention...
Geistfight -evermore effusive guitars – clamouring for more-and-more attention…

We witnessed the band play a short set (3.5 songs apparently) at the Staines Hob on Saturday 6TH SEPT.

The band are currently working on their mini-album – which will soon be available.

Their songs – like ‘The Fine Line’ – have several dimensions to them:

They almost always include a regular ska-beat with rhythmic vocals.

These are surrounded my evermore effusive guitars – clamouring for more-and-more attention.

But the sax always seeks to slide in like a snake – keeping cover under the voluminous wraps of blurry guitar.

The effect is stunning – and completely enjoyable.

@neilmach © 2014




Tree House Fire Rocket Album Review

Those loveable Guildford based reggae/ska /pop fellas  Tree House Fire have proudly produced an amazing debut album – available right now on Trench Foot Records.

The recording entitled Rocket! can be grabbed at their bandcamp site or using the links below.

After the band’s sensational show at The Hobgoblin, Staines at the weekend (Ant’s Birthday bash) – we got hold of a copy of Rocket!  And here’s what we thought:

With a whirlwind of a start to it,  this song pumps you up from the inside and it makes you grind. The first tiny taster-track grooves smoothly into the superb composition ‘Straza Grip’. With its boom-boom political references and a bass line that walks impulsively along-the-line. This accomplished song has more fire in its belly than a dragon that’s been force-fed a vindaloo.  ‘No more prophets to spread the world …’  Sings Sam (vocals / guitar) as those sinewy organ sounds swelter out.  This track simmers and bubbles beneath the Levantine sun.  ‘The Drop’ pulls no political punches either.  But that won’t stop you dancing.  The vibrations will shake your chitterlings  –  causing some sonic damage deep down in your Mondongos

And then ‘Rabble’  flames up a joint of soothing sounds, so you can start to relax and unwind into some early shimmying, ready  for ‘Peoples Problems’.  This enjoyable ditty has lumpy low notes  – and these get pulled and prodded around by the band’s miracle bass player – Ant.  The cool voice runs along, growing in stature as it matures within the song.  And then, before you know it, it’s all over. It’s a bit like a night out with your mates really!

Title track ‘Rocket!’ has a traditional Reggae/Ska edge to it. Effective vocals create several notable moments, and the song-structure will certainly make you raise your arms and sway.  A memorable chorus will linger for ever, too.

Scratchy ‘Great Ocean Road’ (Featuring DJ Killer Tomato)  is a fast paced squawking scatter-gun of surprises. An addictive beat is gilded by those intrepid vocals that chatter out an alarming rate.

The track ‘Stack It Up High’ is the creation “par excellence” of Tree House Fire.  A firm favourite at live shows, the bass play in this extraordinary piece is so utterly depraved that it  almost consumes you.

And ‘KMB ’ is the band’s party song.  It’s happy reggae. It has a whooping sing along chorus and oodles of plucky guitar sounds that keep moving behind an enormously bouncy bass and cheerfully inflatable vocals. It’s the kind of the song that you need to take your heels off for.  Sod it, take off your shirt too. ‘Cos you will be dancin’ along to this one. For ages.  I promise you. In fact, you will be “bouncing off the ceiling ..”  after listening to it.

– © Neil_Mach September 2012 –



Avondale45 – live at Staines 06 Oct 2011

Fearless balls. That’s what this band has got. Within 30 seconds of their first number, guitarist and frontman Al had already broken two strings. This is not only unfortunate, it is a freak of nature. A once in a lifetime event. But it didn’t stop the show. Or even put the band off kilter. Onwards they climbed. Against all odds they soldier on to make a living.

And a lot of punk bands are let down by their ‘hunt the tune’ issues, but this certainly ain’t the case with the three-piece south coast punksters Avondale45.
Yep, these lads are holding more than a fistful of grubby tunes in their sweaty hands – and they are here to delight the audience with their fresh and shiny stage package.

Full of beans and raring to go, these over achieving underdogs smashed into a set at The Hob, Staines with an array of belting numbers that included their seventies time-traveller “suspect device” along with coverage of the ‘Caesars’ “Jerk It Out” the ‘Vandals’ “Oi to the World” and their own “Bonkers” – “Save My Life”.

Some radical guitar-work from Al and glossy bass play from Colin matched with expressive drumming from Joe (“Do you still need Phil Collins?”) added to the coherent quality of the insatiable rhythms and restless punchiness of the songs.  Each number incorporated swiftly told lyrics held crisply within jaunty arrangements. And their neat party trick at the end (Al and Colin swapping instruments ‘mid flight’ without pause) and the self depreciating jokes “We have got all sizes of T shirt available – as you can see…”  just added to the fun and expectations.

Armed with songs that actually stick around for a bit, and a humorous stage presence with a zinging vibe, these lads are set to be the next high achievers in the class.

© Neil_Mach October 2011



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



The SkaSouls live at the Riverside Club, Staines

Knees up, trumpets down, shades on – let’s skavoovie!

After their phenomenal success, playing the hottest gig of the year, at The Hobgoblin, Staines last week – the SkaSouls went on to sell out the Staines Riverside Club on 17th Feb as well ( A charity performance in aid of the Joshua Deller Appeal).  We went along to find out what all the fuss was about.

On the glittery stage were six venerable musicians who all share a wide ranging musical ability, and each possesses the kind of musical experience and prowess that other bands merely fantasize about. Playing in various bands on the local and National scene before embarking on this Ska-shaped project back in the Summer of last year, these boys have since enjoyed a growing popularity as this town’s favourite 2-tone party band. And they already possess an enviable reputation for playing those authentically sweet Jamaican-style grooves and sweaty urban ska standards that you and I loved in the 80s – with covers of all your favourite songs from bands like  ‘The Specials’,  ‘Bad Manners’ and ‘Madness’.

After a raucous start at this Riverside venue, the band thundered and roared into their set like a Louisiana rainstorm – stopping for nothing – as they pelted out hit after hit. A large space was kept free to dance, and by the second song the audience was already up and dancing to the vibes. This band is wild. Those skutter-bus salt-chip shavings of sound soon start to set your world on fire.

Early numbers included ‘My Girl Lollipop’ (attributed to ‘Bad Manners’) but originally a doo-wop number for The Cadillacs’s before becoming a phenomenal hit for ‘Millie Small’ back in 1964 (as My Boy Lollipop). This song came alive with groovy flares of trumpet from Nick and thumping bass from Huw. But during the set we were also delectably teased with some delightful surprises like Chuck Berry’s  “You Never Can Tell”  or  Dexys Midnight Runners tribute to ram-jam Soul-Man Geno Washington “Geno”, upon which lead vocalist Lee sounds like vintage David Essex (in a good way, I must emphasise.)

But it is on the big tribal classix like “Gangsters” that this band really thrives and the audience becomes visibly alive.

This is two-tone heaven as the twin horns ( Nick on Trumpet and Allan on Trombone) flame and rip into your soul, the chuttering guitars frizzle your senses, the walkabout bass-lines juggle your brain and the ka-ching percussion rattles your emotions. And even creepy sound effects for songs like “Ghost Town” sound as genuinely disturbing, gritty and as ghoulish as you would expect.

Then we shoed-off for a skank doing the “Pressure Drop” (The Trojan-shaped hit from  Toots and the Maytals). This song and others in the SkaSouls repertoire feature those great wallowing Belushi-sized vocals from Lee and some impressive backing vocals from the other band members. Plus lumbering great chunks of trumpet and trombone and golden nuggets of pound-for-pound bass. Then we enjoyed “The Guns of Navarone” which was originally performed by ‘The Skatalites’ and later covered by ‘The Specials’. This tune was a thumping great success from beginning to end. And the amazing lead guitar from Ben shines out on this and other songs.

After an interval, to catch our breaths, the band raced into those endearing and catchy ska-pop standards we all loved – “Baggy Trousers” (Madnesss) and Lee Thompson’s tribute to Prince Buster “The Prince” – from which “Madness” took their name. And the incredibly structured “Night Boat to Cairo” (this song used to be a bit of an anthem for Lee’s much-loved old party band – FoulPlay.)

And in the final flourish we also enjoyed a thriving “Shame & Scandal” that started life as a hit for Lance Percival (of all people) before becoming an early ska-hit for Peter Tosh with the Skatalites – before being ‘re-born’ by ‘Madness’ during the new wave of British ska. And, of-course, we had the classic and superbly syncopated song “Israelites” (1969 Desmond Dekker.)

It was just a case of getting your knees up, trumpets down, shades on and skiffling and skadoodling the night away. Sheer bliss!

This is Lee Ridley’s dream outfit of a band, the vision he had wanted to create for years, but who would have thought that it could ever percolate into something as refreshing and uplifting as this?  Welcome to the chapel of living rhythm and holy beat ‘cos these madcap skasters are here to jump-start your weekend.  Do not take your eyes off this band …. and catch ‘em live as soon as you possibly can.

© Neil_Mach
February 2011

This concert was a charity show for the Joshua Deller Appeal – the event raised over £1200 for little Joshclick here to donate too

Band Link:


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I.R.I.S at Hobgoblin, Staines 23 Sep 2010

Based in South-east England and formed in 2009, the five-piece group I.R.I.S. is the kind of band that are most likely to shake up the hive and bring the honey home in the next few years.  From their raucously energetic song ‘Lie For Me’ through to their lyrically sensuous track ‘The Shade’ you realize that this band does not compromise on the promise or the talent.

When the boys cracked open their honeycomb of sweet sounds to let the fumes escape to the delighted joy of the crowd in Staines Hobgoblin on Thursday, you could almost taste the anticipation. Each  I.R.I.S. song seemed to be handpicked from an almost inexhaustible song-book of witty, well written and creatively dynamic numbers. Take, for example, ‘Over This Before’ with a rat-a-tat streaming intro of drums from stick-meister Darrel and those driving citric harmonies from Mark and Adam, with a juicy central section and jangly guitars. The mood is pushed to the limits by the three guitars, before the inspiring and mournful lead break is thrust through those manfully jogging chords. This song touches the vein and makes the heart grow stronger.

New single ‘Drain The Ocean’ (available for a listen on the I.R.I.S. web-site, see link below) is a more boisterous and more turbulent affair but possesses some neat dynamic tension- although, in my opinion, some fairly commonplace ideas hold it back a little. But their next single ‘The Shade’ takes some beating… this number begins with a fanfare of agreeable light and fast chords and a heaps of crisp guitar lines along with mounds of sorbet sweet vocals that slowly rise up to some fairly majestic highs – this song rises well above your expectations. The guitarwork from James  overlords it all, like a noble king-cobra might entwine it’s prey.  This song is both hypnotic and effective.

‘Lie For Me’ is as crazy as a grasshopper catching a ride on a firecracker that goes by. This song sways, bounces and bumps all around the room and leaves you bruised, beaten and exhausted, yet still panting for more. Vocals are atmospheric and soulful, while the wall of guitar sound washes over you like a wave of white water.

The crowd pleaser was ‘Thicker Than Water’ the final song, a package of glorious richly layered sounds set against lightly tapped percussion and with a cool, yet luxurious melody beating beneath the surface and some handsomely neat harmonies. This is a majestic singsong production of anthemic proportions. This band has serious intentions and the progressive nature of their music and the complicated, but accessible compositions, show that this band is in the business of making  and delivering their songs within some masterful performances.

I share the ardent desire to see this band get up and take their rightful place in the pantheon of Brit Rock.

© Neil_Mach
September 2010



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Dirty Crawlers at The Hobgoblin, Staines

Tom Cruise lookalikey Luke didn’t have much success with the lady. She was a real looker.  A nine or a ten. She sashayed right up to him during the warm-up band’s set, so he must have thought his luck was in. But no, she was just trying to get past him, on her way out the door. So she had to squeeze her charming bod against his. And so he gleamed a chirpy smile towards her and  he glinted those pearly gnashers of his. A twinkle in his eye. Hot giggity! But, no his advances and obvious good looks were not enough to turn the lady’s head – and she gave him one of those icy stares reserved only for….  dirty crawlers.

Last time the DC’s played The Hob, Staines it was a sell out. And last Saturday it was much of the same. It is unusual to have pretty girls, big lads and old guys together in the one place rooting for the same band. But this is the charm of this Staines based rock group. Girls like ‘em because they look hot  and they play danceable, hippy-hippy tunes.  The lads like ‘em because they play stirring, football-stadium sized anthems.  And the old guys like ‘em because they play good old blues based rock and roll.

The band easily and convincingly fused with the audience at The Hobgoblin right from the outset, playing their fiery and brightly resonant sounds. A handful of new songs were presented to the eager crowd – hungry for more. But there were plenty of old favourites too. Well I say ‘Old Favorites’ because it seems amazing that this band have been playing together for only around 18 months. The band work off each other like old pros.  They play like they mean business.  The ‘Tom Cruise’  looking singer and guitarist mentioned earlier is Luke Wallin. His voice can effortlessly and easily sustain the melodic line and the soulful meaning of each lyric.

Kris Hutton (guitar) provides balanced solos along with lazy-boy pitch-perfect chord structures.  Yep, those sundancing solos really hit the spot. Nick Feltham (bass guitar) provides superlative bass-play and chugging rhythms and ‘Daz’ Parsons (drums) knocks out brilliantly rampant percussion.

There was a funky, choppy new song called ‘Spaces’ and piles of other accomplished and formidably catchy tunes like ‘Bottleneck’  with it’s tribal drumbeats and addictive hooks  or ‘Victim of Love’ with those nostalgic sounding bluesy chords and pile-upon-pile of lustrous textures.  All through each piece, Kris glowered with moody concentration as his fingers ran up-and-down those frets like a prostitute’s panties. And the energised tempos from the drum and bass worked in joyful unison together with the pulsing, shuffling energy from the guitars; Reminding me of early work from the Stones mixed with the deepest harmonic structures of The Stereophonics.

Perhaps there is nothing very new.  So, if you come along to a Dirty Crawlers show (and I highly recommend that you do) please don’t expect the avant-garde or left field. This stuff is not going to change the world. It ‘s just going to make it more pleasant to deal with. This is well-made, good-intentioned quality rock. This is dirty, boozy, gritty ‘Golden Age’ style rhythm and blues. Good enough for your old man. Good enough for your Grand Daddy too.  And definitely good enough for you.

© Neil_Mach
April 2010



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