Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Festive Fifty

Here's a list of the most heavily rotated fifty tunes on my Ipod that were released this year, in descending order of astoundingness, and limited to 2 tracks per Artist;
1) The Domino State- Safe Now
2) Amusement Parks On Fire- Echo Park//Infinite Delay
3) Butterfly Explosion- Tracing Stars
4) Foals- Spanish Sahara
5) God Is An Astronaut- In the Distance Fading
6) Sennen- Age Of Denial
7) Malory- Floating
8) Amusement Parks On Fire- Flashlight Planetarium
9) Union Sound Set- Cause & Resolve
10) Holy F*ck- Silva & Grimes
11) I Like Trains- We Saw The Deep
12) Lowline- Outside
13) Air Formation- Low December Sun
14) Mogwai- Mogwai Fear Satan (Live)
15) Jonsi- Grow Till Tall
16) Biffy Clyro- Many Of Horror
17) Delphic- Clarion Call
18) School Of Seven Bells- Heart Is Strange
19) The Twilight Sad- The Wrong Car
20) 65 Days Of Static- Tiger Girl
21) The Arcade Fire- Ready To Start
22) The Boxer Rebellion- If You Run
23) The Domino State- You Are The Winter
24) Film School- Heart Full Of Pentagons
25) Butterfly Explosion- Closer
26) Exit Calm- Hearts & Minds
27) Mono- Pure As Snow (Trails Of The Winter Storm) (Live)
28) Kyte- Fear From Death
29) Blood Red Shoes- Don't Ask
30) The Joy Formidable- I Don't Want To See You Like This
31) Spotlight Kid- All Is Real
32) School Of Seven Bells- Ilu
33) The Arcade Fire- We Used To Wait
34) Tears Run Rings- Innocent
35) Union Sound Set- Here's To You
36) Sennen- Red Horizon
37) Frightened Rabbit- Nothing Like You
38) 65 Days Of Static- Debutante
39) I Like Trains- These Feet Of Clay
40) Delphic- Counterpoint
41) Kyte- The Smoke Saves Lives
42) Sad Day For Puppets- Such A Waste
43) Saxon Shore- Thanks For Being Away
44) God Is An Astronaut- Worlds In Collision
45) Mogwai- Glasgow Mega Snake (Live)
46) Team Ghost- A Glorious Time
47) The Joy Formidable- Popinjay
48) Holy F*ck- Stilettos
49) Interpol- Lights
50) Air Formation- Meltdown
30 tracks from this list that will hopefully make a difference to your lives will be available on 2 CD's in the New Year.
Merry Christmas.
Rich

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Top 20 Albums of 2010


Not the greatest of years, it has to be said, and a top 20 took me some head-scratching, but here goes;
1) Amusement Parks On Fire- Road Eyes- very few in the UK care, so this Nottingham five-piece decamped to LA, hooked up with Brian Aubert of Silversun Pickups, and came up with the most shimmering, rocket-propelled sunshine rock album of the year. Not released in the UK yet, but doing decent business where it was intended.

2) The Domino State- Uneasy Lies The Crown- debut from London band who have Coldplay guitarist Jonny Buckland's brother in their ranks. Despite this, they managed an album that sounds like Ian McCulloch fronting Ride, which is a very good thing indeed.

3) Butterfly Explosion- Lost Trails- reverb-drenched heaven from Southern Ireland. Knob twiddling by Torsten Kinsella of God Is An Astronaut.

4) Biffy Clyro- Only Revolutions- the angular, stop-start rhythms of old are gone, and in their place a collection of balls-out, stadium-sized rock monsters. Suddenly being discovered by 12 year old girls, as a result of Matt Cardle's murdering of "Many Of Horror".

5) Mogwai- Special Moves- live album taken from their dates in Brooklyn, NYC, last year. Perfectly captures the awesome power of their live performance, with "Mogwai Fear Satan", in particular, scaring the hell out of the neighbours, as it should.

6) Malory- Pearl Diver- German Slowdivers with added Hybrid/Massive Attack electronics.

7) Foals- Total Life Forever- not as immediate as their debut, but definitely the sound of a band capable of going global monster huge.

8) Blood Red Shoes- Fire Like This- what The White Stripes should have sounded like, if they weren't so busy disappearing up their own crevices. Not seen a moshpit for a while like the one at Leeds Festival for them.

9) Mono- Holy Ground- Japanese post-rockers live with New York's Wordless Music Orchestra. I defy anyone to listen to this version of "Trails Of The Winter Storm" without being reduced to a quivering wreck by the end.

10) I Like Trains- He Who Saw The Deep- becalmed second from former Leeds historians, who focus here instead on a bleak environmental message for the future.

11) The Arcade Fire- The Suburbs

12) God Is An Astronaut- Age Of The Fifth Sun

13) School Of Seven Bells- Disconnect From Desire

14) Holy F*ck- Latin

15) Union Sound Set- Start/Stop

16) Sennen- Age Of Denial

17) Frightened Rabbit- The Winter Of Mixed Drinks

18) Jonsi- Go

19) Kyte- Dead Waves

20) Exit Calm- Exit Calm

Festive fifty posted tomorrow or Tuesday..top 30 tracks to make up "Best of 2010" compilations.
Cheers
Rich

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Top Albums 2010

Just for a change top to bottom

Meursault

By a mile the best album of the year, if you don't like it on first play, just turn the volume up. OK so Neil's voice may be back in the mix in parts- well - TURN THE VOLUME UP. The songs are fantastic, the guitars are excellent, he's a great singer and whatever the beeps and clicks are they work for me...By a Mile!

Titus Andronicus


I'm not sure I can explain this one properly either, it's got a lot of guitars on it, it's quite shouty in places and it's certainly got a few great tunes on it. It's also a bit messy a bit oddly produced and doesn't exactly flow. It just makes me excited listening to new music though, definitely a heart rather than a head album. Play it loud and be immersed.

The National


Not that tricky really, just write an album choc full of great songs and everyone will love it. It's worth getting the first issue not the re issue though as Terrible Love is far better on it, they throw a drum kit down a long flight of stairs and record it.

Akira The Don and Joey2tits


In which AKD turns in his best work of the year, awesome mixing, great tunes, and the best UK exponent of hip hop for sure. Tunes meet dance meet rap meet pop, it's even got 60's riffs in there.

Arcade Fire


It took me a while to get this, the online video wotsit helped and then I played it in the car. My favourite driving album of the year perfect beats to singalong songs

Male Bonding



Old style indie guitars, no really old style, think Steve Diggle with more effects pedals. It's like all of Manchester Indie music chucked in a blender, switched to max spin and popping the lid. 3 minute pop songs making a welcome comeback...with screech guitar.

Kid Canaveral


Every song a classic, Sarah Records meets the neu folk revolutionists.

The Hold Steady


Trust me it's better in retrospect, I played it to death for a month earlier in the year and loved it, then I got bored with it and now it's my 2nd favourite Hold Steady album. It's always about the quality of the songs you know.

Yelawolf


This was free at the start of the year and the blogosphere went crazy. It worked a treat for Mr Yelawolf who signed for a major and pocketed the cash. If you listen to one rap album this year get a copy of the earlier issue. The big label scrapped half the best tunes stuck some filler in and trashed a great album. (I know someone with a copy ;-))

Gaslight Anthem


It's probably become fashionable not to like them by now but, I'll still be playing this album in 5 years time. It may be as a bit predictable, however as long as the verses and chorus' are singable it'll do me.

Silver Columns


Electronic, dance fun from north of the border

LCD Soundsystem


Some top tunes in amongst a few duffers, what the heck is that Bowie rip off doing on there?

Frightened Rabbit


They've become a bit popular and indeed a bit pop in parts but, I've played this album an awful lot and I've a feeling it's going to stick.

The Futureheads


As with all Futureheads albums it's a bit inconsistent, but when its good its mint. 'Heartbeat' is the best pop song of the year.

Foals


Talking of great pop songs 'Spanish Sahara' is one of the best his year too. It's my favourite spinning around album of the year.

Johnny Flynn


I don't care if he's mates with the rest of the southern new folkies and almost so hip he can barely limp because this album is full of surprises. It's almost trad folk and it's very pop in parts too, but in the way that Shane McGowan can write great songs I think Mr Flynn may well have a few classics in his locker.

And then a few other notable inclusions

Best Album illegally copied for me


Shoegazey Pop

Best Album nonchalantly passed by USB stick


Jangly pop tunes

And without further ado back to the magnificent Meursault, best album of the year and best gig of the year too.


If you haven't seen the live songs from Glastonbury then these are worth a look. Some good looking chaps in this audience! You know the rules TURN THE VOLUME UP



and the quieter


I think I'm starting to like the fact that the music industry is disintegrating and you have to search out the god stuff again rather than it being spoonfed to the masses.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

One great vid and 2 cool songs


By any standards that's cool

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Meursault vs Meersalt



Before I turn into ‘Fanboy’ it’s only fair I declare my self interest. I’m a punter, pure and simple with no side projects and my only long term investment has been time and liver damage. The good thing about music unlike football is you can change your team at any time, I learned this lesson particularly early in life, having declared ‘Signing Off’ to be the best album ever written, definitely no long term investment there. Since then I’ve pretty much decided to live in the Northern Counties lower division of the music world, enjoying the outputs of everyone from Calling Autumn to Akira the Don.

Listening to recorded music is fine, but I much prefer to be at the front of a live gig, not knowing which way the nights going to go. For at least 25 years I must have averaged a gig a week and now having two teenage girls, one ‘pop punk’ and one ‘pop and folk’ I’m up to about 200 gigs a year if you include festivals. I’ve seen Girls Aloud four times ffs. A nod to the wise - it’s absolutely essential to be at the front for this type of gig.

Having read in many places the difficulties of earning a crust in the industry, I’m very pleased to have made the decision to live exclusively in Punterland. There have been weak moments where I’ve nearly jumped the fence, but fear of losing my enthusiasm by being on the inside has saved me.

And with scene setting complete, the point of this contribution

I’ve never seen a band play essentially the same set list on two different nights of a tour which was so fantastic and yet so completely different

I saw Meursault live for the first time at Glastonbury this year and despite ‘being absolutely fried’ after a nightmare journey, they were one of the few bands I saw over the weekend where everyone played at full tilt.

With typical over enthusiasm I’d convinced three pals that The Royal Park Cellars in Leeds was the only place to be on a wet Thursday night. For those that don’t know it, it’s an old local’s pub which now resides in the dead centre of student town central. I remembered it from the 80’s when Sunday lunch was £3.00, it’s gone up to £4.25 now. It was a bit of a dive in the old days and I couldn’t wait to see the state of the cellar. Just as advertised it was a cellar, painted black with customary silver pipe work and comfortably large enough to swing two cats but probably not safely.

There were plenty of seats and tables about and as everyone else was seated we took a pew 10 minutes before kick off. Quite why one individual decided it was appropriate to stand at the front, alone and two yards in front of everyone else I’m not sure, as my pal said, ‘he’d make a better door than a window’. From the first solo acoustic tune it was clear that the sound quality in the dodgy cellar was exceptional. Meursault played as a three piece with two lead guitarists and a drummer and an electric box of tricks. It was a unique combination.

Every song was tuneful, clear, well sang and to suit the environment had a laid back feel. My older non muso pal enthused about the fact you could here all the instruments and all the words, I should have brought my dad along. The set lasted about 40 minutes with one new tune and an amps off, ‘One Day This’ll All Be Fields’ to finish. We would have all been happy with another 40 minutes.

And so to the Saki Bar in Manchester 5 days later, this time I’m with a proper muso pal who’s been brought up on Mogwai, My Bloody Valentine and a diet of Brixton Fridge techno. He’d never heard Meursault, but trusted my taste, I think he was sold on the box of tricks and stories of effects pedals. The Saki bar is a bit ‘rum’ as my Gran would say and Tuesday night is ‘Underachievers Night’ quite how Meursault had been switched to a full on indie bar on indie night when Broken Records were playing round the corner I’m not sure.

At about 11.20pm (on a school night), the band eventually took to the floor and after a 10 minute set up were ready to play. Crank Resolutions kicked in…. all except for the vocal microphone, the slightest eye contact between band members and it was clear that nothing was getting in the way tonight. For half the song Neil half sang half yelled the words, thankfully the soundman salvaged things with a double mic switch. It seemed like a Ramones style 2 second pause before going straight into the new tune, which sounded absolutely nothing like it had at the previous gig. Meursault had turned punk and the urgency of the hammered snare drove the tune along at a frightening pace. It was utterly brilliant, even the old blokes (me included) had started shuffle dancing and head banging….really.

I only recall one acoustic song in the main set tonight and even this was forced out with intent as Neils’ voice felt the strain from earlier. Back to electrics, the guitars clashed perfectly and the clamorous no bass rhythm section worked on every tune. I’ve no idea whether William Henry Miller was played acoustic or electric but it felt hard.

Respite came as Fields was sung amongst and with the audience, most of whom were sporting a stupid grin on their face. And just when the people were on the pitch it was back for another go at Crank Resolutions ‘make it really loud please soundman’ was the phrase. Best tune I’ve seen live in ages.

If you get a chance to see the stripped back punk threesome on this tour, then take it.

But as my feedback loving friend pointed out ‘bloody hell wait till they do that with the full band’.

Best £3 I’ve ever spent

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Rammstein Manchester MEN 2nd Feb



I know, I know. I’m permanently stuck in the 60’s and 70’s, and on one of the rare occasions I am into a band that is actually still together/Has all members living, it’s the German industrial monsters Rammstein.

Now, not that I’m trying to justify liking the band, but I first discovered them when I was nineteen, and I have been a massive fan ever since. The fact that until recently, I have had absolutely no idea what they are singing about, has never bothered me. They make hard as nails music, with the odd Ballad and guest appearance by Sharlene Spiteri. I compare them to liking Sigur ros (whom I love). Top composers, but I have no Idea what’s actually being spoken about.

On their previous visits to the UK I have always missed out, so when they announced the”Liebe Ist Fur Alla Da” tour, I was determined not to miss out.

I arrived at the gig eagerly awaiting the main event, but instead I had my ears violated by a band called combichrist. Simply put, they were gash, coming off like an angry version of Scooter with a few extra tattoos.

Soon enough it was time for the main event. Rammstein entered the stage with a Metal entrance that would have made Maiden and Priest proud. Basically chipping through blackened rock, with scorching neon lights behind them, beaming their silhouettes out across the audience (very reminiscent of “The Thing” movie Poster) Then an outburst of sparks followed as lead singer Till Lendermann blow torched his way through what appeared to be a cast iron door and onto the stage. The curtain then dropped to reveal a colossal industrial stage setting, really too complex to try and describe. It was at this point I knew where my £50 ticket price had been spent. Too much metal for one hand indeed.

From this point on it was full steam ahead, immediately breaking out into “rammlied” and getting the capacity filled M E N bouncing. Lindermann had a neon light shining from his mouth every time he sang, which was both fascinating and quite distracting, still, they’re nothing if not inventive with the stage show.

The opening song was a great test of lindermann’s vocals. There has always been a certain operatic quality to Rammstein’s songs (like system of a down), plenty of growling in the verse, then ear shattering sustained bellowing vocals for the chorus, and I was pleased that none of this was lost in the show.

It’s hard to describe the show, especially to folk who are more than likely not fans of the band. Though I know many songs tackle dodgy subjects (at least the websites that have translated the songs tell me so) other tracks are poppy/ballad like in nature, and the band seem to have collective tongue’s firmly in their cheeks.

The gig sped along at a rapid rate, there was hardly a pause between song’s and the band never let up. Numerous set pieces popped up during tracks, which not only enhanced the proceedings, but pretty much put the gig up there as a spectacle (potentially a bit of a freaky sideshow, but a spectacle never the less). Fully animated robotic babies hanging from the ceiling with laser lights for eyes. Flamethrowers attached to guitarist/Bassist and Lindermann’s faces that sprayed 20ft flames each time they sang.

People being set on fire, crossbow’s firing (you guessed it) streaks of fire into the arena, it was all there, like a pyromaniacs wet dream.

About fifteen songs in the band broke out into “pussy”, the lead track with an incredibly controversial video from the new album. The middle of the song prompted a bit of a sing along (A capacity crowd chanting “you have a pussy, I have a dick, so what’s the problem?” was always going to be a little humorous) and a chance for one of the more bizarre set pieces of the night. Lindermann appeared at the side of the stage, with what can only be described as a very large pink penis. He then proceeded to move across the stage across a pre laid track, spraying foam from his newly acquired member over the crowd. Definitely something I will never experience at a gig again. (Though if snow patrol happen to read this blog, a stunt like a giant foam spraying cock would have definitely livened up your terribly dull show that I had to sit through when I last visited the M E N with my wife last year)

Foam Cannon

(not the best video ever shot but shows the “foam cannon” quite well!)

A further 15 songs followed and a couple encores. More bizarre set pieces, though all brilliantly crafted and executed. A great gig indeed by a band who obviously take the music seriously, but not themselves.

Last year when I left a Dweezil Zappa gig (the zappa play’s zappa tour) I had a feeling that I had just witnessed something really special. Now not that I am comparing Rammstein to the music of the mighty Frank Zappa, but there were definitely elements of the same vibe as I stumbled on my way outside the M E N to look at the cheap T shirts that smell of Dulux.

Rick M

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Best cover version Re-Mix ever?




I haven't fallen for the haircutty XX band, I love Florence and her wotsits and the original isn't bad at all, but this is exceptional

XX Re-Mix of Flo's Wotsits doing Candi Staton's - You Got the Love


Florence + the machine - you've go the love (the xx remix) by Cogstar

Anyone know a better one?

Friday, 29 January 2010

Album Review- Malory- Pearl Diver

Naturally a quiet month for album releases, there have at least been a few on my radar. The Delphic album, a disappointment on the whole, has been reviewed elsewhere on these pages. And we all, of course, have taken note of the outcries of "new musical genius" that have greeted the 2nd effort from These New Puritans. I have yet to listen to it, but, based on the reviews I have read, I suspect, to these ears at least, that the "experimentalism" involved could also have been achieved by me recording the sound of my own farts in an empty school corridor. We shall see..
It was with some relief then that I saw the 4th album from German Shoegazers Malory also drop a couple of weeks ago. Having been around since as way back as 1995, when their debut album "Not Here, Not Now" was released, they have been swimming very much against the tide ever since, with their brand of effects laden, reverb drenched swirling drowning in a populist sea of mediocre Britpop jingle-jangle. Until recently that is, as in the last 5 or 6 years there has been a gradual re-awakening of interest in and existence of this much-maligned style of guitar based indie rock, culminating in the reformation of the true godfathers of the Shoegazing genre, My Bloody Valentine. Outbreaks of very long fringes, banks of effects pedals at gigs, dry ice and a landscape of musical and lyrical darkness are being seen all over the country again (thank Christ!), and the mainstream success of bands like Glasvegas and The Horrors, and their use of distortion, has led the music press to invent the laughable term "New Gaze". But at least it's back in the national consciousness for the first time since Kurt shot himself, and unwittingly paved the way for Suede, Blur et al to take over the world in the mid nineties, and bring all of us dreamers back down from their sonic clouds.

It is abundantly clear from the moment opening track "Floating" breaks from its 2 minute poetry recital (in French- apparently written by Astrophysicist Jean-Pierre Luminet and presumably about black holes and the time-space continuum- or something), and explodes into 5 minutes of instrumental, cascading gorgeousness, that Malory have definitely listened to early nineties Thames Valley scenesters Slowdive. It might be an updated Slowdive, with additional synths and a hint of Trip-Hop in places (hovering around the Massive Attack/Hybrid area), but the dreamy, spacey quality of their early EP's and "Just For A Day" long-player can be heard throughout "Pearl Diver", with the boy/girl vocal contrast providing further evidence to build a case for Malory being a pretty good copyist.

There are, of course, 2 schools of thought with this particular scenario. The first of these is that Malory should be told off and dismissed for not having original ideas of their own. The second, which I tend to want to believe, is that it is as if the original Slowdive are still around and producing the kind of new blissful, crystalline tuneage that "Pearl Diver" is actually choc-full of.
This is a far more generous and accommodating slant, and therefore one that I shall attempt to take whilst listening to the album...possibly with my eyes closed and dreaming of 1991 and Rachel Goswell's gleaming white guitar..


Malory- Floating (get past the poetry bit, please)
7 out of 11

Friday, 22 January 2010

THE FIFTH SEASON: „FASNACHT“



Narri Narro!

And I cannot blame you if you think now, what the hell is she talking about!
Let me explain it to you as good as I can and later you can say: “ Jesus, I knew it, The Germans are a strange type of stuffed cabbage.”

Fasnacht is called the fifth season, because it gets celebrated like Easter, X-mas and the one when Jesus mates got the holy spirit and his sandals…oh, and I think, and some women holidays….I do not know what you call it in English…..I will look it up later.

Some people actually only live for this fifth season “Fasnacht” and save their holidays and money in order to masquerade as witches, devils, barbies( that is easy, we have a lot of barbies and Kens), cowboys and Indians (easy too as Germans love to play cowboys and Indians in their spare time) and as police officers( easy too just do not dress) …ect… the list is very long – I remember that I had to go once as a clown when I was younger, because I refused to go as a ladybird and take part in a silly school play. So they dressed me up as a clown with a big red nose and a stupid clown costume which disappeared including hat and red nose after I left home. I told them I got robbed from a group of kids, they liked the costume so much….Costume got found two weeks later in the garage in a bucket where I changed to myself…

This whole madness always starts on the 11th of November at 11 o´clock and lasts for five weeks, that means for the half of the population five weeks drinking non stop and party until they do not know their names anymore. Every weekend is then a procession with all “Z├╝nften” such as witches, cruel looking creatures from the black forest with whipes( these are the worse ones when they catch you , they put you in a cage feeding you the famous sausage or “Brezel” and giving you “Schnaps”!).


Also you have to bare in your mind that under the costumes of the witches are to 80% men – women are not allowed to play the witch – not this time….and the leader of all is the devil see picture. He commands and leads the mad crowd..



Once they captured me (that was the last time I spent my time watching this procession), forced me in a cage with a lot of hysterical women screaming their bloody heads off and doing noises like little piggies when they are hungry – that was not a very pleasant experience and I managed to escape by just jumping off – so easy, but some people like it to get whiped and fed …


The whole thing about Fasnacht is to banish the winter that is the excuse to take five weeks off and go on the gargle to strip nacked in bars, pubs and on the street and to rob banks.

Here a small video for you to get a slight taste of it




Album -Delphic - Acolyte



I was about to right this album off as 'being just a bit too like New Order' for me. And in truth, at first listen there is a separated at birth argument. Up until today I'd listened to this album as background music in the car and more appreciated it rather than listened and loved.

If it wasn't a first album I would almost certainly have given it a 5.5/11 as ok - but could do better, it almost received a don't believe the hype title. But it's better than that (not the Public Enemy song though)

Cranked up loud and actually listened to it's packed full of tunes within tunes, a depth that's not obvious during a casual dalliance. No, it's not a traditional grower (ie a bit rubbish but hell I'm going to persevere) , it just requires a bit more attention than usual. Although I'm no technical expert, I suspect it's because all the dials weren't switched to 11 during the recording process and it doesn't fill your ears with the usual condensed white noise associated with most modern pop music.

It's yet to transcend that elusive corridor from head to heart music but I'm starting to like this album more and more , but then again I thought the 80's had their moments too. Another 3 plays and I'll be dancing.



Delphiccounterpoint by Cogstar

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Ladbrokes top 10's


Ok, for what it’s worth, here’s the first bit of my take on the year. With the assistance of my Ladbrokes Diary I’ve been able to compile a number of lists. The first one is my top ten gigs, it’s as near as I can get to the rest of your lists. Top ten Bank Holidays, religious festivals and race meetings may very well follow due to them getting a mention in the diary, albums of the year may just have to be limited to a top 5 due to a failing memory.

Top ten gigs was fairly easy to do as I tend to make a note of gigs when I book them, mainly so I don’t forget to go to them and so I’m now able to see where I’ve been. Some good ones didn’t make the cut, The Specials in Manchester, SLF in Bingley and The Young Republic in Newcastle come to mind. They were all very enjoyable and I could have made a case for their inclusion without much difficulty. Perhaps a top fifteen is the answer, although that’s probably as far as it goes, I don’t get out much and a top twenty might have to include Splodgenessabounds and Julio Geordio

So in tenth place we have Ash at Darlington in December. One of my favourite bands playing everything I liked off 1977 and Free All Angels in a venue that holds 300 people. Can’t quite see why they bothered with a small one-off show there, unless they were dropping Christmas presents off or something, but I’m glad they did.

At nine it’s From The Jam at Mr Kyps in Poole back in August. This was the last time that I saw the ‘classic’ Foxton/Buckler rhythm section together. Even smaller venue than the Ash one, it was a great place to see them. It wasn’t bouncing in the same way as last year’s Newcastle Academy gig was and being 300 miles from home there weren’t the familiar faces from 1980 in the crowd, but it was the best of the gigs from them that I saw this year. Shame it all subsequently imploded again.

Number eight was British Sea Power, Derby, February. Despite an early navigational issue with the taxi taking us to the Round House pub a few miles away from the actual Rock House venue, it was my favourite BSP show this year. Not surprising really as I fell asleep during the only other time I saw them, which was at Glastonbury.

In seventh place were Hanoi Rocks, Helsinki, April. The farewell shows. I was never really a big Hanoi Rocks fan, which was more Paul’s thing. But I did like Two Steps From The Move and had seen them three times in the mid 80’s, so it only seemed right to pop along to the one of the final shows. They did very well; I got drunk, bought a handbag and ran down Helsinki High Street joyously waving my arms in the air at how good it was. The show that is, not the handbag. Although that was ok too.

Sixth goes to The Young Republic, Middlesbrough, October. Probably their biggest gig of the year, they succumbed to popular demand and played plenty of good stuff off Twelve Tales, before exceeding expectations by encoring with a Beatles Rooftop set, played exactly as it is supposed to be. If only they would do this sort of thing more often perhaps they would make it big and their singer wouldn’t have to butcher a band member or two every year just to keep his freezer stocked.

Bottom of the top half was Boo Hewerdine, November, Kirkby Stephen – Nearly blew it by booking a hotel in Kirkby Lonsdale, but got away with it. He played a tiny venue where you had to bring your own booze. It felt like I owned the town as I walked down the main street with my Dr Who coat on and a bottle of red in each pocket. Apparently the female singer from the support band was eyeing me up which caused my companion to growl a bit, but I was oblivious to it all after working my way through the contents of my pockets. Some great new songs, particularly Geography, which I would link to if I did that sort of thing.

At fourth is Morrissey, Manchester, May – Cant remember much about this one actually, but it was his 50th birthday gig in his home town so I suppose I should include it, although I suspect I probably enjoyed The Undertones at Bingley or SLF in Edinburgh more. Regardless of that, it’s Morrissey, so he gets in. That’s just the way it goes as the man himself once sang. Fourth is too high however, but I can’t be arsed to alter it now.

Bronze medal goes to Sparks, London, March – Absolutely fantastic. I was just looking for something to fill an evening after watching the rugby and in any of the previous thirty five years this could easily have been my top gig. They played their new LP and one of their old ones and I was an instant convert. Really, really good. I wish they would play live a lot more often, because I would be there.

Runner up was Mott The Hoople, Monmouth, September. The warm up for Hammersmith, 400 seater venue, it was really odd seeing them for the first time ever. Buffin had been hospitalized so couldn’t make it. The crowd were a little subdued, staying seated until the encore, but it was a great appetizer for Hammersmith.

But the winner (and I suspect that this wasn’t much of a surprise) was Mott The Hoople, Hammersmith, October. I’ve grouped the five nights together as it wouldn’t have left much space for anything else if I had included them all separately. Mott had done some pretty high profile shows at Hammersmith in their heyday and it seemed as good a place as any for the reunion. I’d bought tickets for the Friday and Saturday shows as soon as they went on sale and then got a Thursday one when that date was announced. When they extended the run to include the following Monday and Tuesday, I got one for the final night. After all, it’s only once every thirty five years. I’ve had one or two comments that seeing them more than once is a little on the obsessional side and maybe it is, but you have to be somewhere and I reckon that for the first week in October Hammersmith Apollo was that place.

Thursday I knocked off work at four o’clock and got the train from Southampton to Waterloo arriving at Hammersmith early. I had a ticket for Row X so gave a tout fifty quid to exchange it for one in Row B, right in the centre. I had a couple of pints and watched Gideon and the Shark. They were ok, a bloke with a guitar and a girl on the drums. I can’t remember any of their songs though and, bless them, they had a bit of a thankless task. No one was really interested in the support act. It was all about Mott the Hoople.

Mott came on to Jupiter and then opened again with Hymn for the Dudes, followed by pretty much the same set list as in Monmouth. Ian had smartened himself up for a change, leaving off his usual polo shirt. The crowd in the stalls stayed on their feet for the whole two hour set and, again, the band looked to be loving it. There was a second drum kit set up next to the one that Martin Chambers was playing and it was uncovered for the encore. Buffin, looking extremely frail was led to the front of the stage and then slowly to his drum kit. It was heartbreaking to see him in that state, apparently suffering from Alzheimer’s. Martin looked after him though, supplementing Buff’s drumming and filling in for the bits he missed. Apparently he got his first drum kit from Buff forty years ago and was pleased to be able to give a bit back now that the opportunity had arisen. They got a great response at the end and I cleared off, just managing to catch the train that got me into Southampton not long after 1am.

I left work on the Friday even earlier than the previous day. I was checking into a posh hotel near The Embankment that my mate David had organised and had then had plans to go to an exhibition of photos that Morgan Fisher was showing about half an hour away. Morgan Fisher was the keyboard player on that first Mott the Hoople LP that my Mam had bought me. He took over from Verden Allen for the last year or so of the band. He wasn’t playing in the reunion but would be in the crowd for the shows, meeting his old mates backstage and taking the opportunity to show and sell some photos of Mott’s 1974 American tour. I got to the gallery about half an hour before it closed and as I went up the stairs was met by the sound of Morgan and John Fiddler playing Saturday Gigs. John was the singer in the post-Mott band British Lions. I listened to a couple more songs, looked at the photos and bought one. Morgan was very friendly, but I didn’t chat much, I always find it a little strange meeting people that I’m a fan of. I got back to the posh hotel, had a quick few beers with Paul, David and Doug and then hurried off to the gig.

I had two tickets for the circle for that night, but didn’t want to be up there. The stalls seemed to have a far better atmosphere and a much closer view, so I swapped my two for the circle with one for the stalls and then just before they came on made a dash for an empty front row seat that apparently had been set aside for photographers. Another great set, I cried a bit during the encore, shook Verden’s hand and we continued singing the ‘Goodbye’ bit of Saturday Gigs for at least five minutes after the band had left the stage. Met the lads in Covent Garden and, due to their connections, for the first time in my life walked past a queue to get into somewhere and was waved straight in as a VIP.

Saturday, I nipped off to see the Boro win at Reading before meeting up with Paul, Andy and David for seats toward the back of the stalls. I didn’t bother trying to get to the front this time, we just watched it all unfold from a distance. Another great show and with the added bonus of good company. I could have a fun time at a public execution with those lads, possibly even our own, if the weather was nice.

Monday and I was back again on the train after work. I’d swapped my spare ticket for Tuesday with someone who had a spare Monday one and that meant I’d see all five gigs. John, the bloke I was with, was an interesting character, he was driving an ice cream van to Greece the following week in the optimistic hope that there would be a big demand for 99’s over there. Glen Matlock was the support band and I nodded at Mick Jones on the way out. His arm seemed better now.

Tuesday, Joe Elliot did a covers set of Hunter and British Lions stuff as support, probably the best received support of the run. Too quickly though the final show was all over. They had got better throughout the week and seemed, like the crowd, to be having the time of their lives. It’s the little things that stick in my memory. The look on Ian Hunters face when he sang the line in Sweet Jane, ‘Me, I’m in a Rock and Roll band’ and the reaction of the crowd to the bit in Ballad Of Mott where he sings ‘And Pete’s still a Rock and Roll Star’.

I didn’t ever think I would get to see them and I’d never considered after the gigs were announced that they could possibly be so good, that they could play with the enthusiasm and vitality of a band forty years younger. Rock and Roll Queen could have been Oasis in their heyday, not a bunch of pensioners getting together for the first time in thirty five years. Let’s hope they do it all again in 2010.

Top ten lists to follow of sporting events, things I planned to do but didn’t, fishing trips and miscellaneous stuff that isn’t sporting events, things I didn’t do or fishing trips. My missed trip to the world angling championships may very well make all four lists. I hope to have them done by sometime in April.

Friday, 1 January 2010

Festive 45 Top Tunes 2009



And finally, through a recovery haze we get to the top 15 tunes of the year. Just a few words for the coming year for the contributors on here.

Craig - get a new favourite band
Andy - play some dance music at least once a week
Rich - try an acoustic album or two
Rick- revise a decade per quarter and get out of the 70's
Wieb - keep sending the posts and thanks we loved the German beer

And so.............

15. The Young Republic - Bows in Your Arms

14. Miike Snow - Animal

13. Slow Club - Brilliant Friends

12. Warpaint - Billy Holiday

11. Florence and the Machine - Girl With One Eye

10. Eminem - The Warning

9. Joyzipper - One

8. Santiago - Calypso

7. Meursault - William Henry Miller Pt 1

6. Withered Hand - Religious Songs

5. Withered Hand - Love in the Time of Ecstasy

4. Dizzee Rascal and Armand Van Helden - Bonkers Clubmix

3. My Gold Mask - Violet Eyes

2. Dan le Sac vs Scroobious Pip - Get Better


1. The Young Republic - The Alchemist

I saw TYR play The Alchemist at the end of the road festival in 2008 and it was the one song that was better than Isis (Bob Dylan cover) live. The studio release is even better, sounding like a runaway train just about making the last curve towards it's final destination via a virtuoso violin solo to die for.

Every household should own one.