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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

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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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Demure – Staines Hobgoblin, March 21

If a maverick fez wearing buffoon maven is lurking in your waking dreams, threatening to whack a pair of rumba shakers up your kilt then you’re probably being persecuted by the songs of Demure.

Yes, those brave post-grunge pilgrims were playing the Hob, Staines again last weekend, with an increasingly enthusiastic crowd egging them on.   And those powerful songs that they play tend to dig deep troughs into the metaphysical mind and fiddle around in those darker recesses  of your  consciousness.

Demure have clearly been standing on the bar (rather than leaning against it)  in recent months and the ‘new’ guitarist they have broken in- Tekin Mustafa- allows the front-man lead vocalist Johnny B  some welcome release –  ensuring that he is now able to provide fire, urgency and gravitas to the overall performance,  and securing the visual presence of the band. The extra band member also allows Philip Price (lead guitar)  the time and space he needs to play a source of inspirational lead melodies and the polished breaks we are used to,  pushing the sound of the group towards the skyline.

Whilst not down playing the general strength of character and heartfelt nature of the Demure songs, there is also a sense of sly fun with these boys – even in their darkest passages and gloomiest moments.  And this sense of fun combined with a commitment to create strong and beautifully arranged pieces,  forms the basis for their work.

The band turned out a couple of strong new songs on the night.  ‘You me and everyone else’  had a venetian style string overture to it,  followed by a see-sawing crisis of rhythms and the chrysalis of some folk sounds.  Then thin slices of guitar garnished the chords, and the echoing vocals lead on towards an amalgam of funky moments.  This was an histrionic ape-dance of a song and  a bit of a departure  from the  dramatic,  thoughtful  grunge of Demure’s earlier works.

Demure can be relied upon to play a damn solid show with rollicking roll-out rock and touches of old-water gator-skin grunge.  Tremendously exciting and hugely professional  (just listen to those unsettling military style drums by Neil Rawles on ‘You Say’ or the shimmering guitars of Philip on ‘1 Vision’. )  This enjoyable band showed  that they  possess  the  ability to consistently grow musically and also prosper in the business.

More genuine than a cockney sparrow and more alive than a mamba down the Y-fronts,  this edgy band is a fun passport to a post-grunge hay-ride.

© Neil_Mach
March 2010



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Gentlemen Of Distorted Sound – Staines Hobgoblin

To be seen as totally kick ass in the world of rock and roll you need more than just talent, ability, grit, determination and guile – you also need swagger and style (look at Iggy Pop to prove this) …. and the Gentlemen Of Distorted Sound have these attributes in abundance.

The rumours surrounding this band buzzed around the Hobgoblin, Staines like a bluebottle in a kebab shop even before the lads entered the joint.  The whispers included gems like:

·  A couple of years back the band rehearsed 108 separate times before a single performance just  to ‘get their sound’  perfect for the show
·  There is a shadowy Eastern European oligarch ‘bank-rolling’ the band to the tune of a cool million
·  The band had to audition seventy drummers until they managed to get the ‘faultless’ percussive sound
·  The singer is known as ‘Pappy’ by a remote tribe in a Pacific archipelago – who worship him as a deity

Well, whatever the truth of these rumours and the hype, the band came out in flesh and bones, to play some classic rock for the guys and girls of Staines on Sunday . But they played it with a big mouth and one almighty swagger for the smallish yet enthusiastic crowd at The Hob.

The band sashayed through a series of grinding blues melodies, rockin’ riffs and the kind of mammoth gypsy licks that might turn a young girls head and may even steal her fragile heart.

The lead vocalist Gareth Nugent looks like a cross between the Shamen’s
Ebeneezer Goode and Jerry Garcia.  He came on dressed in a black fur coat, top hat, scarf of black silk and twirling a cane.  Quietly, almost gently, he speaks to the crowd. But his voice comes alive when it is roared and trembled into the microphone. That voice cuffs you round the ears like Mum would do if you didn’t pay attention. That singing voice has an aristocratic kinda growl to it, and yet it is subordinate to, and harmonious with,  the melodies. Quite extraordinary.

The snake-hipped chancer on the lead guitar shimmied across the stage like a dirty weasel on the search for a discharge pipe.  Mako (guitars) is arrogance on a stick. He plays sleazy zip-gun guitar with long lazy fingers sliding slinkily across those slutty frets. He makes the notes trill, swoop and dive around the backbone of each song like a hungry vulture – prodding,  chugging and grunting in the process.

Bass guitar is provided by Lawrence who has that stockbroker look about him. Well washed and cared for.  He looks like he hasn’t changed out of his smart Sunday best after seeing his Nan for tea.  And the band’s percussive needs are reliably supplied by Richard.

But you soon realise that the G.O.D.S. are ostensibly a two-man twin-ego affair. The stage demons and the black magic are evoked by those two voodoo spell-masters on vocals and guitars. For the slower song “Where are they now?” (The Gods in Your Head) Gareth strapped on an acoustic guitar to prod some raw chords and to add backbone and bite to this Zeppelin sounding number – probably their finest song of the evening- and it appears to be something of a ‘Stairway to Heaven’ for them.

After this tune, it was clear that the excited crowd at The Hob were smitten. The band also played “I’ve got a Beautiful Face for Evil” with its moody vibes, rumbling bass and spidery, muscular and lascivious guitar sound.

After the concluding number (La Grange) the crowd were left wondering if they had just witnessed a myth of a band playing the real deal or witnessed the real deal of a band playing like a myth. But one thing is for certain-  Gentlemen Of Distorted Sound can pack more entertainment and attitude into one of their sets than Linford Christie can  pack  luncheon  meat  into his well-worn lycra.

Crucial, life-affirming arrogant classic rock. Trippier than a six-pack of miaow-miaow – and this stuff gets you higher than the cow who jumped over the moon. These guys are assured  to put a Fizz in your drink.

© Neil_Mach
March 2010



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Are you kidding me, i dont know how much you were paid to write this, but, the two posers up front just made people laugh, they were more camp than a row of pink tents, and as for the “‘faultless’ percussive sound, the poor fella was out of his depths, sometimes slipping out of time, and the look of grimace on his face when he mistimed a crash was painfull.g
Good try lads, keep up the practice.