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First blog post

This is the post excerpt.

This is the first post for a first time blogger at the tender age of 57. I have started this blog for a number of reasons. Having recently been made redundant a couple of colleagues and recruiters made me aware of a growing problem in our society. Its the creation and subsequent vilification of a new demographic- the fat white old bloke.

So here is a disclaimer.This site is not just for fwob’s. But also for those that can sympathise with the sufferers or maybe see themselves spiralling headlong towards “fwobdom”(patent pending). Welcome!

This is not intended to be the next level down to grumpy old men and my prime motivation when this idea came up was to create a forum to discuss and share information on a passion of mine- Going to see live music and enjoying it as much now as I did when I was in my mid to late teens. Over the past year I’ve see numerous bands who I truly think should be getting greater recognition. For those that share this interest get out there supporting live music. Let me know your thoughts and share.

 

 

 

Wonkfest at the Dome-27/07/2109

 

Made the annual pilgrimage to the 7th Wonkfest at the Dome in Tufnell Park. This is my third Wonkfest and you always approach with some trepidation as its basically a marathon rather than a sprint  stretching as it does over 12 hours.

Last year I wrote about each band  but this year a slightly different approach as I could’nt really be asked to go to that level of detail and I did review many of the same bands last year . But perhaps more importantly the event is really more about just the  feel good factor of what’s going on and a celebration of the DIY music scene.

The format for those who have not been to Wonkfest  is 22 bands with 20 minute sets spread across two stages. I missed the first few bands but it certainly seemed busier than last year in terms of attendees and as the day progressed it actually became difficult to get to the smaller of the two stages and punters started to congregate around the major stage and just hang out there. This meant people did miss out on some of the bands from last year who had been on the Dome stage but were now playing the smaller stage. Notable amongst some of these bands were “Murderburgers’ from Scotland, “Pizzatramp” from Wales and “Maid Of Ace “ from Southend (?).

It was also noticeable that more money had been spent on stage banners and other paraphernalia than previous years . The organisation was as ever slick and everything ran absolutely on time which is a slight irony for an anti-establishment event .

Other bands that I thought were really worth a mention were “Eastfield” who delivered some lyrically interesting , thought provoking three chord thrashing and I was particularly impressed by “Youth Killed it” who delivered a set with a good dollop of humour and like many of the bands did’nt take themselves too seriously. I always feel that the event is generally good humoured despite the hard core nature of the majority of the music and there is a level of humour throughout. On form “Aerial Salad”and “Dub Righters” also got the crowd rocking and skanking respectively .

The final band as always are the organisers “Wonk Unit”. Picking up on the humour theme they delivered the classics everyone wants such as “Kings Road Sporting Heroes” , “Je mapelle Alex” and “Go Easy”. With the normal level of banter you would expect from these guys  there was a moment half way through the set that epitomised the day. Vocalist Alex asked the audience to seperate down the middle ,create a gap and get ready for a huge thrash as the next song started . The last instruction before the song struck up was that for the gentler folk at the back perhaps they could walk toward each other slowly and for the rest of the crowd “please thrash responsibility”.

It was a great event as usual. Looking forward to next year.

Mice on Mars, Rattletooth,Malady and Black Bordello at the Windmill Brixton-19/7/2019.

Made the pilgrimage down to the Windmill in Brixton to see four bands who I had not heard of before. The Windmill being the venue that it is means that the quality of all bands was really high.

If you have never been then it’s a bucket list venue. Small and shabby it’s a very safe space where bands mingle with punters and you can start a conversation without feeling that the recipient thinks you must have some malignant intent.

The first band to hit the stage was “Black Bordello”. Led by a really good female vocalist they mix many genres and sounds to my ear. Sometimes a bit “Roxy Music” ,sometimes a bit Amanda Palmer in the “Dresden Dolls “ era and then all sorts of other influences they flipped between rockier numbers and ballads with a cabaret feel running through the songs. That is of course my opinion and others ears may have picked out other aspects. Need to hear more and I will look out for them as they were a bit different and thoughtful songs throughout. Not sure how long they have been around but certainly seem to have a future if luck is on their side.

Next band were called “Malady”. Again a distinctive vocalist the band hand a handful of songs that had a funky edge . They looked comfortable in the space with an audience which were still warming up and indeed still turning up. Like a lot of younger bands its probably fair to say they are still establishing there style and they are operating in a very crowded market place.

Third band of the evening “Rattletooth” ,not to be confused with an earlier hard core punk band of the same name ,started to get the crowd moving with there guitar driven uptempo songs. I have to say by this point a number of lagers had been imbibed and I didn’t concentrate on the band as much as I should have so apologies to them. They were however really competent, delivered a high energy performance and certainly like all the bands on show worth checking out.

Which leaves “Mice on Mars” as headline. Straightforward garage/punk they had the crowd peaking at the right time and I was left at the back of the crowd as people squeezed into the space in front of the stage.I’ve listened to some of their songs on Sound Cloud and they remind me of “Slaves” on some of the bass parts but they do have that garage feel in their guitar sound. Again difficult to know who are the bands to watch here as they were all good. And with a ticket price of just £4 it was a great night out.

Although I did suggest earlier the Windmill is really worth a visit I would urge you to ignore that advice as I’ve just decided on reflection I would far prefer to keep it my indulgent little secret.

Metz at Studio 9294-28/06/2019

This was a new venue for me and as it was interesting I’ve taken a picture to give you context. Studio 9294 is an industrial unit close to Hackney Wick Overground station and the Olympic village at Stratford with a small bar tucked in the corner and interesting toilets perched on a makeshift mezzanine level. It’s not a polished venue (except for the concrete floors) and all the better for it I would say. Sound quality was good throughout

A barmy night weather wise as we wilt in the heat the area around Studio 9294 is entertainment central in this part of Hackney with a few other trendy and hipster playgrounds in evidence in adjoining units.

I had wanted to see” Metz” for a couple of years so jumped at the chance to get tickets. It’s a small venue and I thought there audience pull would have been greater but it was packed and several hundred people got sweaty together.

The support was provided by “USA Nails” and “Feels”. “USA nails” were very loud and certainly ideal opener in terms of complimenting the noise/punk/hard-core theme of the evening. I took a quick trip to the front to take a photo and was deafened as I walked past the speakers. They played 40 minutes possible saving there melodic offerings to the last few songs. All band members collaborate in other bands and they are undoubtedly slick and professional.

Second support were Californian band “Feels”. A predominantly female line up them did lose the attention of some of the audience as they are more garage band with a few reggae inspired numbers. Big bass lines held the songs together and they seemed to enjoy themselves. As always in a different setting and context these guys were potential headliners and I did wonder what they would have thought of the slightly unglamorous venue and surrounding environment.

I hadn’t researched either support so my comments are on an initial listen.

With little fuss “Metz” entered the arena and then proceeded to do exactly what it says on the tin. With a suitable frenetic light show, which complimented and accelerated the feeling of darkness that permeates their music, they powered effortlessly trough 45 minutes of what some would say is controlled noise. Of the songs I managed to recognise there were a number off the latest album “Strange Peace”.  These included “mess of wires”, “Drained Lake” and “Cellophane”.

Arguably more controlled and less raw than earlier numbers it was a righteous attack on the senses. And then as calmly as they had arrived they were gone and the house lights returned. Most people left ears ringing in their skulls but satisfied I would imagine.

It was a good night and I had meant to take ear plugs on this occasion. Can’t believe they couldn’t fill a bigger venue but as they are Toronto based I assume they don’t get to the UK too much.

Buzzcocks-Celebrating the life of Pete Shelley- Royal Albert Hall- 21/6/2019.

An event tinged with a lot of general sadness, apparently the date at the Royal Albert Hall was booked way before Pete Shelley’s demise. They turned it into a memorial celebration and I guess most people wondered how they would replace that very distinctive voice.

Before getting onto that some words about the supports. First were” Penetration “who I only saw for the first time last year supporting at Brixton academy. I thought they were good and they had some strong new material at that time. They were apparently travelling companions to the” Buzzcocks” back in the day and even recorded “Nostalgia  “on their first album. The auditorium was already pretty busy by 7.30 and they kicked off proceedings manfully and womanly. On Friday however I think the PA had a different world view as the sound was not great and the lost a bit of impact as they played their set. A few diehards in the mosh pit reacted suitably but I felt based a bit on the occasion it wasn’t clear if you should really enjoy yourself.

Bursting onto the stage next were “Skids”. It was clear from talking to  few many had primarily come to see these guys and there were plenty of Scottish accents sitting in my vicinity as well as give away “Skids” T shirts.

I’ve never seen the “Skids” although I bought a number of the early singles. They were a bit polished for my tastes back in the 70’s but there songs have stood the test of time quite brilliantly. You could certainly envisage that if they were a new band now, with modern production, they could still cut it with those songs. Many are what you could call the hardy perennials but they still sound fresh and they saved “Into the valley” until the end and it received the biggest reaction.

They also enjoyed in my opinion the best sound mix of the night. The band were tight and Richard Jobson (58) bounced around the stage from start to finish. Not so many high kicks (and not so high) but fair play. He clearly likes to keep in shape and removing his jacket after the first few songs he looked like the poster boy for a Charles Atlas course (showing my age there).

About 9.20 it was time for “Buzzcocks” now led by Steve Diggle. They launched into the first few songs as per set list below and then enlisted the help of a myriad of guests, some you might expect and other like Tim Burgess who I wouldn’t have guessed. In reality Tim actually did one of the better renditions, since at the end of the day Pete Shelley had a voice that is difficult to replicate.

And that will be one of the challenges going forward, as Steve Diggle vowed to keep the songs alive, my assumption was that this would be the last outing for the “Buzzcocks”. The sound quality was bad with the signature guitar sound suffering the most. As implied some of the guest vocalists were not 100% matched to the songs and it was unclear how much rehearsal had been taken. To be fair it has to be quite daunting to take on someone else’s songs when they were so personal.

They finished with the iconic “Ever fallen in love” but I would suggest all their major singles have the same song writing quality and the song was actually spoilt for me by the “Fine Young Cannibals “version.

I left slightly subdued I have to say as it was definitely in memory of a sad day for music of a certain generation. “Skids” were a very belated revelation for me and we will have to see how the “Buzzcocks “deal with the situation they find themselves.

 

Buzzcocks at Royal Albert Hall set list:

‘Fast Cars’

‘Promises’

‘Why she’s a Girl from the Chainstore’

‘Autonomy’

‘Boredom’ (w/ Captain Sensible)

‘Love You More’ (w/ John Maher, Steve Garvey & Pauline Murray)

‘Why Can’t I Touch It?’ (w/ John Maher, Steve Garvey & Peter Perrett)

‘Fiction Romance’ (w/ John Maher, Steve Garvey & Richard Jobson)

‘What Do I Get?’ (w/ John Maher, Steve Garvey & Dave Vanian)

‘Something’s Gone Wrong Again’ (w/ John Maher, Steve Garvey & Dave Vanian)

‘Time’s Up’ (w/ John Maher, Steve Garvey & Thurston Moore)

‘Noise Annoys’ (w/ Thurston Moore)

‘Sixteen Again’ (w/ John Maher, Steve Garvey & Tim Burgess)

‘You Say You Don’t Love Me’ (w/ John Maher, Steve Garvey & Tim Burgess)

‘Harmony in My Head’

‘Orgasm Addict’

‘I Don’t Mind’ (w/ John Maher, Steve Garvey)

‘Ever Fallen in Love’ (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)

The Futureheads at The Garage-29/05/2019

The long awaited return of “The Futureheads” came to the Garage in Highbury and Islington. A couple of the band members are now back teaching it appears so I guess this was civilised bunking off in the half term break.

They were ably supported by “Novacub “who have an indie/alternative sound . I noticed hints of Bloc Party in the mix despite having a female vocalist and there is an association i.e. the drummer has played with aforementioned band and his drumming style defined the overall sound on the night I felt.

They didn’t outstay there welcome playing  only about 25 minutes to keep the running time of the evening on track. They are a new band and showcased the two r singles they have released to date urging the crowd to purchase from the merch stall.

Spot on 9 and “The Futureheads” emerged. Its quite a small venue and stage and they just about managed to get there backing banner unfurled. They seemed genuinely pleased to be there and I think there have been some tough times for some members over the last few years reading up on the back story . This outing seemed to be just about enjoying themselves without the commercial pressures and searching for success which were no doubt dogged them in the past.

For followers of the band the experimentation of the band has been a hall mark of their development the period of delving into acapella which I can only assume must have divided opinion amongst the fan base. They did revisit this period on the night ,briefly ,but the set was mainly the staple high energy numbers that bring a smile to the face. They played a couple of new tracks which on first listening I would say were heavier than the old angular quirky tunes and darker lyrically. Need to do a bit more research there.

The bands stage presence is being comfortable In their own skins these days with plenty of interaction with the crowd between songs. As hinted at earlier it seems to be a cathartic experience for them and exercising a few past demons along the way possibly. Delivery of the songs was polished and the sound quality was great (might have been because I was standing by the sound desk).

An hour flew by and then they encored finishing with possibly one of the best cover versions ever undertaken i.e. their rendition of Kate Bush’s “Hounds of Love” . With plenty of audience participation it was a fitting finale to the evening.

I guess the only downside for the band , as my wife commented, is that it’s a bit sad that there most anticipated song is someone else’s.

In conclusion a slightly more mature band but an evening of banging tunes. Does what it says on the tin.

Fat White Family Review- O2 Forum- 15/05/2019.

 

Been looking forward to the relaunch of the” Fat White Family” and their third album “Serfs Up”. Like most people a little intrigued to see how it would work out in the live setting.

Support were provided by two bands who I have reviewed before. Hitting the stage at 7.30 were “Pregoblin” who are really entertaining and have a few good crowd rousing songs. The two vocalists despite the early hour and the fairly sparse crowd, got into the performance and duetted throughout the set. The question that came to mind is are they or are they not a couple? It was still unclear after 30 minutes to be honest.

Like all the bands on offer this evening the common link is the music scene in Brixton. Second support was provided by “Black Country, New Road” one of the next generation of Brixton muso’s. Think Lou Reed (Velvet Underground) with a bit of jazz and discordant saxophone and violin and you are getting there. Since I saw them last time there sound is thicker, additional guitar has been added and some of the previous spoken vocals have been speeded up i.e. singing. In reality it was probably necessary to get them a wider appeal from the off.

The O2 forum was packed and sweaty and once I had left the front to use the toilets there was no getting back so I viewed FWF from a distance. The set started with a call to prayer, underlying the spirituality that is evident in the new album and in some of the symbolism enacted by Lias on stage.

I feel that they are also possibly going for their best shot currently at wider fame, as sleeping on peoples sofas and starving has probably lost its rock and roll glamour by now. Starting way back in 2011 they took a couple of years out for solo projects recently but are back more solid in the live setting than ever. Inevitably a bit of their original raw appeal has been softened over the years but Lias still spent 50% of his time in various shapes being thrown about in the audience.

The set list below was clever. They managed to work in half the new album but pandering to the audiences desire for the classics. Now with two synth players the sound is inevitably fuller and there are lots of electronic drum rhythms punctuating the new songs. As the set started I thought they may stick to the more exuberant new material but they bravely shared a few songs that are in many ways light years away from songs like “Touch the Leather “and “I am Mark. E.Smith”. But I would argue you still know it’s them. The new album is clearly influenced by the various band member’s solo projects and ideas they tried out in their other incarnations. If you haven’t already got acquainted look up “Moonlandingz” as well as “Insecure Men” and “Warmduscher”.

As mentioned earlier they are having fun with spirituality in their current persona’s and Lias was sporting what originally looked like a shaved head but actually turned out to be closer to a cross between Bill Bailey and a monk. Makes perfect sense.

They played for about 75 minutes working in a couple of songs from the debut album and finishing with “Bomb Disneyland”. I still think they are very much in the running for my band of this particular decade and I have really enjoyed the way they have challenged themselves.

A reviewer in another column did point out that they seem to have replaced heroin chic with slightly chubby success. I don’t think you can knock them enjoying any success they might attract but perhaps the next phase is regular exercise and a healthy balanced diet. But for us musical voyeurs clearly not so much fun in that.

 

Set list courtesy of setlistfm.com

When I Leave

Tinfoil Deathstar

I Am Mark E. Smith

Fringe Runner

Goodbye Goebbels

Bobby’s Boyfriend

Hits Hits Hits

Oh Sebastian

(first time live)

Feet

Touch the Leather

Whitest Boy on the Beach

Cream of the Young

Tastes Good With the Money

(with Baxter Dury)

I Believe in Something Better

Bomb Disneyland

The Horrors – 10th Anniversary of Primary Colours- 9/05/2019

It was the 10th anniversary of “The Horrors” album “Primary Colours”. I have seen “The Horrors” a few times over the years and always felt they were one of those bands that didn’t quite maximise their potential.

They have arrogance and swagger and were arguably bold to move from the post punk gothic DIY of their first album “Strange House” to the dance and synth led “Primary Colours”.

I have a natural predilection for bands that are prepared to break out in a new direction  as its part of my DNA from my teenage years so I’ve always had a soft spot for them.

Support was provided by “Great Swans” who played a 45 minute set of dance/trance. The two “band” members were suitably animated as they fiddled with what appeared to be a collection of extension leads, nobs and switches. Echo’s of “Underworld” in there meanderings.

In a venue like the Royal Albert Hall which was still filling up they had their work cut out to engage the crowd but the energy did break through and the place was definitely a bit warmer as they left the stage.

“The Horrors “came on at 8.55 (on time) and proceeded to plough through “Primary Colours”. Until my ears adjusted the sound was a little difficult but once the band got into their stride it sounded less polished than previous outings but that wasn’t really to the detriment of the performance, as although the album is considered a radical departure you can hear the progression from the first album and its still fairly rock oriented (my view).

Biggest reaction was for the final track “Sea within a Sea” which has the Giorgio Moroder inspired (?) outro which on the album is probably my favourite piece of that particular project.

The band took a mini break and then proceeded to deliver highlights from all of their albums including “Sheena is a Parasite “and “Count in Fives”. This was apparently first time played since 2010.

They finished off with “Still Life“ at around 10.30 and we all parted ways. I got the bus home and reflected on the evening.

Set list courtesy of setlist.fm.

Primary Colours

Mirror’s Image

Three Decades

Who Can Say

Do You Remember

 

New Ice Age

Scarlet Fields

I Only Think of You

I Can’t Control Myself

Primary Colours

Sea Within a Sea

 

Encore:

Machine

Sheena Is a Parasite

(First time since 2010)

Count in Fives

(First time since 2010)

Ghost

Something to Remember Me By

Endless Blue

Still Life