Thursday, May 22, 2014

There Ain't Half Been Some Talented Bastards

Tribute to Ian Dury at Brixton Academy  June 16th 2000'll be seeing The Blockheads at the Willowman Festival in a few weeks and it reminded me of this amazing night 14 years ago. It's hard to believe it was really that long ago and obviously recollections are a little hazy now. As you can see from the setlist below there was a glittering line-up of vocalists to join The Blockheads in their tribute to Ian.

All credit must go to the band who performed with so many different singers and musicians that night, some with very little or no experience of singing with a live band but the professionalism of the band shone through as they remained tight throughout and gave all the performers their chance to shine in a tribute to one of the world's greatest poets.


Wake Up and Make Love With Me (Vocal: Denise Roudette)
Clevor Trevor (Vocal: Wreckless Eric)
What A Waste (Vocal: Chas Smash)
I'm Partial To Your Abracadabra (Vocal: Mick Jones)
Plaistow Patricia (Vocal: Lee J. Thompson)
I Want To be Straight (Vocal: Tom Robinson & Wilko Johnson)
My Old Man (Vocal: Suggs)
Billericay Dickie (Vocal: Kathy Burke)
There Ain't Half Been Some Clever Bastards (Vocal: Humphrey Ocean)
Mash It Up Harry (Vocal: Saffron (from Republica))
Spasticus Autisticus (Vocal: Ingrid Mansfield-Oldham)
Blackmail Man (Vocal: Keith Allen)
Blockheads (Vocal: Mark Lamarr)
Reasons to be Cheerful Part 3 (Vocal: Phill Jupitus)
Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick (Vocal: Kirsty MacColl)
Sweet Gene Vincent (Vocal: Robbie Williams)
Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll (Vocal: Robbie Williams, B/V Ensemble)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Oh Manchester, so much to answer for

More missing memories fail to reveal themselves and so we reach my last year at Manchester University with a fairly lacklustre bunch of gigs. There must have been more, though I was working a little harder on coursework so maybe not so many as I would have liked.

Elti Fits and The Diagram Brothers at Manchester University 2nd February 1980
The John Peel Roadshow hits town. Despite playing great music he was never much of a 'DJ' on the radio and live he wasn't much cop either especially when there were serious problems with the sound or the equipment and his roadshowing had to be abandoned halfway through. I passed him a request for his radio programme but as I was elsewhere the following Monday, I don't know if he played it.

Echo & The Bunnymen at Manchester University October 4th 1980

On tour promoting 'Crocodiles' supported by The Sound. An excellent gig all round, I was amazed that they could reproduce the music from the album so well live.

Loudon Wainwright III at Manchester Free Trade Hall October 24th 1980

It'll have been Tim's idea that we go to this but I wouldn't have needed my arm twisting. A great writer and performer. Listen to 'A Live One' if you can.

Mike Harding at Manchester Free Trade Hall December 9th 1980

A folky christmas show.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Shakedown 1979

I went to a lot of gigs in 1979, I seem to remember being out at least twice a week but as I've written before I haven't got a definitive list as it was a long time ago and I don't have all the ticket stubs any more. So here are a few more that I went to that I haven't blogged about already. 

The Jam at Salford University May 8th 1979

They were supported by The Records, a band I had seen twice in 1978 on the Be Stiff Tour. That's three times too many that I've seen them. 

The Pop Group at Manchester University May 19th 1979

Whilst I may no longer have the ticket for this gig, I at least have a momento. Over 20 years later whilst browsing in a second hand record shop in Greenwich I came across the 'Vibing Up The Senile World' EP by The Good Missionaries who were one of the support bands that night. It's not that great actually. 

UK Subs at Manchester University October 10th 1979

I think I've probably still got a badge from this one somewhere.

The Inmates at Manchester University October 20th 1979

The Specials at Manchester Apollo November 1st 1979

Not just The Specials, this was the 2-tone tour with Madness and The Selecter. It was as good as you'd expect it to be except for the power failure halfway through The Selecter's 'On My Radio'. The crowd sang on gamely after it all went quiet on stage but there are only so many times you can sing 'It's just the same old show on my radio' before you realise the irony and fatigue sets in.

Alberto Y Los Trios Paranoias at Manchester University Squat November 2nd 1979

Never Mind The Bullocks - A farce by CP Lee & John Dowie. If I could be bothered to go into the loft and dig out my University box, I could search out the programme for this. But why would I?

The Cure at Manchester University November 21st 1979

They're very big now but they weren't then. They were very good though.

XTC at Manchester University November 28th 1979

It was all about Nigel that night.

John Otway at Manchester University December 5th 1979

I've got the ticket but I don't really remember the gig except for Tony buying a 'Cor Baby That's Really Free' badge. I've seen him countless times since and always try to fit him in at Glastonbury festival.

The Revillos at Manchester University December 13th 1979

They weren't The Rezillos any more which I guess must have been a contractual thing because they didn't look or sound any different.

Disharmony In My Head

Following on from what was the greatest gig I ever went to - a sentiment echoed by Andy Kershaw in his recent autobiography, except he saw The Clash a couple of days earlier than me in Leeds - I thought I'd deal with one of the greatest disappointments I ever went to. Given the number of gigs I've been to over the years there are bound to have been a few duff ones, one or two have been so bad I've left early, but I didn't have such high expectations of those as I did of this one.

It's October 27th 1979 in Manchester and on the back of a host of 'hit' singles, The Buzzcocks are playing a hometown gig at The Apollo. Not only that though, supporting them they have Joy Division who have recently released 'Unknown Pleasures' to great critical acclaim. It should have been at the very least, the gig of the year. But it wasn't. The sound was a complete and utter mess and it completely ruined what should have been a fantastic night out. In fact they played two nights and I went to the first. People I knew went to the second night and it was great apparently as by then they'd sorted out the sound problems.

Since then, if a band is playing multiple nights at the same venue, I would never plump for the first over subsequent nights unless there were other factors to be taken into account. Sound(!) advice I thought until many years later a friend pointed out that if you went to the first and it was fantastic, then with any luck you'd be able to get a ticket to go again the following night.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Come For The Party, Come To Make Sure

I've dealt with some of the gigs I went to as a student in Manchester and I'll go on to wrap them up in a final post at some time. But there's one gig that deserves a post all of its own. A gig so stupendous that I'll remember it forever. A gig that I only went to through the great kindness of a friend. I'm not one for making lists of the best gigs/singles/albums/bands etc. but if I were, this gig would be no. 1. It's never been surpassed.

"A friend of mine from the course got me this ticket and I wouldn't mind going but I think it would mean an awful lot more to you than it would to me." Thankyou very much to my old flatmate Tim Sheehy for some of the nicest words that were ever spoken to me. I don't know why I hadn't bought a ticket to go and see The Clash at Manchester Apollo on their 16 Tons Tour but I hadn't and now a good friend had supplied me with a ticket.

The Clash at Manchester Apollo February 4th 1980

I wish I could say that I can remember every minute of it but after 30+ years, there's no chance. What I do remember is that it was loud, very loud, and my ears were still ringing from it 4 days later. This was probably the beginning of the end for my hearing as I now suffer from mild tinnitus in my left ear but I don't think I'd change a thing. I also remember the feeling of elation that stayed with me for the rest of the week as well and can still recall sitting in the luggage rack of the 192 bus on the way home afetr a fantastic night out. I wish I could have seen them earlier in their career and I wished I'd gone to see them again later but I'm happy that I had that one magical night from a band at the top of their form.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Music To March To

How on earth had I never seen Killing Joke before last night. They've been going over 30 years and I've been going to gigs for even longer. It's not like I'm a big fan or anything, I only own the first album, but surely our paths should have crossed at some point, at a festival maybe? But no, this was a first.

Support was provided by The Crying Spell and The Icarus Line. I missed the first due to the lure of The Bodega and anyway I think 7:15 is really a bit early for watching a gig. Far better to have a couple of pints of decent beer (Pale Rider and Prince Bishop if you're wondering) before having to pay outrageous prices for fizzy piss in the venue (£4.05 for a pint of Gaymers!).

I got in just in time to see The Icarus Line, along with a handful of other punters. Not much of a draw but they did a fine job. They said they're from LA but sounded more like they were from Seattle crossed with Detroit. A lead singer who reminded me of Iggy Pop (but without the see through jeans fortunately), a bassist who knows how a bass should hang and a drummer who wanted to be Dave Grohl.

And so to the main event. I have a feeling that if this gig had been in London it would have been in the Electric Ballroom and it would have been goth central. But not in Newcastle, it was a fairly mixed crowd who seemed up for it. And so they should, the back line made it one of the most thundering, gut-thumping nights I've had since I went to an industrial techno night at The Rocket back in the 1990s. As I mentioned, I only have their first album so I only knew 3 or 4 of the songs but with a band that have found their niche and stick to it, I recognised them all.

A complete aural assault of a night out.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Inflammable Material

Coming a little late to the punk scene, Stiff Little Fingers (named after a Vibrators’ song) followed in the footsteps of The Clash by writing overtly political songs, largely about “the troubles” in Northern Ireland. Their gritty sound also mirrored that of The Clash and they even included a reggae number on their first album but they were no copycat band and I loved them. If I could possibly put together a list of my favourite singles of all time, “Alternative Ulster” would be on it.

Stiff Little Fingers at Manchester Apollo May 28th 1979
Stiff Little Fingers at Manchester Polytechnic October ?? 1979
Stiff Little Fingers at London Astoria December 10th 1992
Stiff Little Fingers at London Forum March 25th 2011
I first saw them at Manchester Apollo in 1979 and have seen them several times since. When moving from London up to Sunderland I needed a gig to say goodbye to the place and out of what was available, it seemed only fitting that I picked one of theirs. I was son inspired by them whilst a student that one of my course mates even managed to get me to pen a review for the student union newspaper - my one and only appearance in a journalistic capacity. It’s rubbish but here it is anyway:
When writing about a band like “Stiff Little Fingers”, several words immediately spring to mind such as ‘dead ace’ or ‘superb’. This was definitely the case on Tuesday night at the Polytechnic.
“The Donkeys”, a Liverpool band of some repute played an excellent, but unfortunately 15 years too late, gig. The close harmonies seemed to have stepped straight out of the “Merseybeat” era and their rendition of “Please, Please Me” could easily have passed for the “Fab Four”.
Last time round, S.L.F. played the Apollo and have regretted it ever since but the Factory was too small & they didn’t know the Poly existed. The Poly is certainly the happy medium in both size & sound quality.
S.L.F. charged straight into “Alternative Ulster” and from that moment on it promised to be a great night. They played a well balanced mixture of old & new songs & the new songs seemed to have more power, more depth & more musical ability than all the old favourites, without losing the S.L.F. identity.  If the other songs off the new album are half as good as the ones they played, then it will certainly be a biggie. Finishing off with “Wasted Life”, S.L.F. left the stage to overwhelming applause, cheers & whistles.
In the usual style of S.L.F., the encore was silly, the 1st song was stupid but superb & “State of Emergency” superb. Despite 5 minutes of cheering, they failed to return for a 2nd encore, but what a fantastic concert.