Well I'm sure that you've heard by now that Lou Reed has died. It's almost impossible to imagine how radical The Velvet Underground must have sounded when they first emerged in the mid-sixties - after all they still sound ahead of their time to me now over 45 years later. There's an often-repeated adage made by Brian Eno that everyone who bought the first Velvet Underground album started a band (well, I certainly did!) and whilst it's a wonderfully romantic notion - and it just could be true! - it's also a measure of Reed's influence on pretty much all rock music (or at least the stuff worth hearing!) since then. As a result it's perhaps easy to overlook his subsequent solo material, but albums like 'Transformer' and 'Berlin' stand every bit as tall as those legendary Velvets recordings. He leaves behind an extraordinary body of work that will continue to inspire future musicians and artists for generations to come.
Meanwhile with no gigs of my own over the last week or so I've had chance to get out and about to catch a few live shows, although somewhere along the line I've managed to hurt my back (Ouch! This 'geting old' lark isn't always much fun!) which is rather annoying. Anyway Thursday evening The 100 Club hosted a night of acts once associated with Stiff Records featuring The Members, Department S and Ed Tudor-Pole. When I arrived E. T.-P. was already putting his all into his performance, his wild 'n' wacky stage persona every bit as over the top as every other time that I've seen him. Department S were up next, with an excellent set of old and new material which went down exceedingly well with all concerned, while the Members (joined by original guitarist Nigel Bennett for the latter half of their show) sounded as solid and reliable as ever. A good night, as was the following evening at Tropic At Ruislip where Larry Miller gave a splendid performance, ably supported by Gary Moore tribute band Moore Or Less. The Miller guitar sounded as mighty as ever, and his increasingly bizarre between-song-comments had more than a few audience members smiling, often in disbelief... and there were more than a few audience members smiling in disbelief last night at The Horns in Watford where bass legend Norman Watt-Roy played a solo gig, and was joined for the last four songs by the mighty Wilko Johnson. Things had been progressing well up until that point, with Norman's playing as mind-boggling as ever and the band on fine form, if a little too jazzy here and there for my not-very jazzy tastes; however as soon as Wilko hit the stage the intensity in the room and indeed on the stage jumped by several hundred percent and the audience erupted in a frenzy of phone photography and filming (as these clips show!) He played "Everybody's Carrying A Gun', 'Casting My Spell On You' (it's been a wee while since I've heard that one - good choice!) 'Out On the Western Plain' and the encore of 'Roxette', and every moment was one to savour. And if that wasn't enough my new friend Pam the landlady has given The Upper Cut a gig next year and wants to book Ruts D.C. - excellent!
I'm back on the boards with Big Al Reed and The Blistering Buicks this weekend, at The Chippenham Hotel in Maida Vale on Friday followed by a return visit to The Dolphin in Uxbridge on Saturday. And I'm up early for a Back To Zero rehearsal on Sunday morning - but more about that next time.