Tuesday, January 27, 2015

From The West End to The North Bank

January is normally a quiet month gig-wise, and while this one has been no exception in many ways it's been nice to have a bit of time at home. That said there are always a few musical goings-on going on...

On Friday night I returned to Tropic At Ruislip to catch a splendid performance from Like The Beatles. Being a big fan of The Fab Four (the less-charitable might use the term 'Beatle Bore') it was great to see them playing less-than-obvious material like 'Why Don't We Do It In The Road?' amid the expected hits; I was also very impressed with the accuracy of the vocal harmonies that are such a vital part of those amazing records. The all-but-sold-out crowd seemed to enjoy ever minute of it, and I don't mind saying that I did too. I was far too young to have been able to see the original band, and whilst it would be churlish to suggest that a show like this gets anywhere near the excitement of an actual Beatles show if nothing else it does reinforce just how good the songs are. As if we needed reminding?

Saturday saw your humble narrator journey to Holloway for a London Sewage Company gig supporting King Kurt at The 12 Bar Club. Yes, The 12 Bar Club. With Occupy London er, occupying the old club in Denmark Street many of the fixtures and fittings have been moved from the original premises to Phibbers on the Holloway Road - I must say that it was a rather surreal experience to see pictures, staff and indeed club regulars all transplanted from the old place in the new place. Not bad, but definitely surreal... anyway I arrived to find the rest of our band all present and correct and King Kurt setting up so I took the opportunity to visit the wonderfully-named Piebury Corner a couple of doors down for, you've guessed it, a pie. And very nice it was too.
Back at the club our soundcheck was somewhat tense affair, with feedback, monitor problems and everyone having trouble hearing each other. Still we got it all together in the end, and by the time we took to the stage at half past eight the place was filling up nicely. Our set saw a few of the aforementioned soundcheck problems rearing their ugly heads again, but despite it all we played well and got a great reaction from the audience. In the interval I caught up with John King, Sarah Pink, Lee from Infa Riot, Tara from The Duel and more - see what I mean about people being transplanted from the old to the new! - before King Kurt played a storming set. A great evening all round, right up to the moment that I got back to Holloway Road tube station to find the service in disarray and no chance of getting home by train. Bah! Oh well - I made it to Piccadilly Circus, Marble Arch and the night bus home - that used to happen at the old venue too!

And last night I joined Segs and Dave at Jamm in Brixton to work on Ruts D.C. material that should hopefully come out as a 7'' single in time for Record Store Day on April 18th. I'll keep the exact details to myself for the moment, but I did record some backwards guitar on one of the tracks. Great fun - I knew all that time spent listening to 'Tomorrow Never Knows' would come in handy one day... 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

How much?!?

Well some things in life are worth waiting for, and from what I've seen of it the upcoming book 'Love In Vain - The Story Of The Ruts and Ruts D.C.' by Roland Link will definitely be one of them. It's been a while in the making but it's now due out this Spring, and to this end a PledgeMusic campaign has been launched to help fund it's independent release. All sorts of things are on offer (potentially including a guitar lesson with me! Oo-er!) so if you'd like to get involved then head over to the Ruts D.C. section of PledgeMusic here and see what you can see, and get Segs's thoughts on this subject and more here. Give generously my friends - you know you want to!

In the meantime this has been the first gig-free week for your humble narrator for quite a while, and I've spent what feels like far too much of it trying to put my accounts in order. This roughly translates to 'emptying out the contents of the carrier bag full of receipts and bank statements then attempting to make them all make sense'. I fear there's still a bit of work to do (not least writing the damn stuff up!) but I'm a lot closer to it all getting done than I was this time last week. One day I'll do this stuff as I'm going along throughout the year rather than every so often in this rather inefficient manner. Probably. Still with no gigs of my own I've had chance to catch a couple of excellent live shows, beginning with Who tribute band Who's Who at Tropic At Ruislip on Friday evening. A near-capacity audience - always a good thing to see don't you think? - saw a set that included relatively obscure tracks like 'Water' alongside the expected hits, and everyone there seemed to enjoy the band's efforts. The next night I returned to The 100 Club (I feel as though I've spent half of my life there recently - mind you, I guess that I have!) to see Eddie And The Hot Rods supported by The Guitar Gangsters. I remember the latter band from back in the late 1980s when I think The Price played with them although I can't for the life of me remember where. (Maybe at a weekend festival at The Sir George Robey in Finsbury Park, but maybe not. I really should have written all that stuff down you know...) Their agreeably noisy set warmed the audience up for Barrie and the boys who gave a suitably thunderous performance to the enthusiastic approval of all concerned. And it was good to catch up with guitarist Richard Holgarth and dep bass player Adam Smith (he also plays with The Newtown Neurotics who'll be appearing at The 100 Club on February 6th; The Price used to play with them in the 1980s too) after the show, both of whom are involved in running The Square in Harlow and both of whom were interested in The Price and indeed Ruts D.C. appearing at said venue sometime this year. This year it's (gulp!) 30 years since the first Price gig, and it would be great to mark that (ahem!) momentous occasion by returning to one of our favourite ever venues - so let's hope that we do!

And last night The London Sewage Company rehearsed in anticipation of a gig this weekend at the 'new' 12 Bar Club - following the sad demise of the Denmark Street venue no time has been wasted in securing new premises at Phibbers in Holloway, and it's there that we'll be supporting the legends that are King Kurt this coming Saturday 24th January. It should be a great night - I wonder if King Kurt still behave in the unhinged manner that they used to back in the day? Hmmm... an interesting evening is in prospect...  

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Ace of clubs

It's been a week of two Central London clubs with numbers in their names. Hopefully one of them will still be there this time next year...

The first Resolution Festival took place at The 100 Club last week - I say 'first' because it looks as though this one was such a success that there will be another one next year, which can only be good news if you think about it. I attended all 5 nights (I now have no money whatsoever!) and can indeed confirm that it really was a great event, with The Anti Nowhere League, 999, Ed Tudor-Pole, The Lurkers, Louise Distras, The U.K. Subs and Chris Spedding all delivering excellent sets and the Ruts D.C. night with The Duel being everything that we had hoped for and more. Audience numbers were good especially considering the time of year, and overall the event really was a wonderful thing to be part of. 
Our gig on Thursday night began with a 5 o'clock soundcheck after which we all dispersed into the West End for food and to meet up with assorted friends and faces - I arrived at The Ship in Wardour Street to be confronted by Rat Scabies and various other luminaries, all of whom had clearly been there for quite some time (!) and who were unaware that we were playing just a few hundred yards down the road. Much jollity ensued when Dave and Segs arrived, and Rat made it along to our gig where I believe he was involved in a altercation which resulted in him being obliged to leave before the end. Oo-er! 
I got back to The 100 Club to find The Duel sounding good and the place filling up nicely - by the time we went on at 9.30 it was pretty much full. Our set was notable for including the first electric performance of 'Secondhand Child', a new song that we played as part of our acoustic set at The Rebellion Festival last year and which will hopefully form part of an album that we're planning to record this year. Things began well and got better, and despite demands for a second encore being thwarted by an 11 o'clock live music curfew we all agreed that this was a great start to 2015. Onwards and upwards as the old saying goes. 
Oddly enough I had another encounter with a rat on the way home, when I got off the train to be confronted by a particularly grim-looking rodent on the path out of the station. We eyed each other up (I'd like to think!) for what seemed like ages but was actually probably only a couple of seconds before my four-legged acquaintance skulked off into the nearby bushes. It was raining, and as I commenced my weary walk home I remember thinking something like 'I felt like a guitar hero two hours ago, now I'm stumbling home in the rain with only a rat for company - shouldn't I be in the back of a limousine snorting cocaine off a page 3 girl's arse with a £50 note?' 

It's a funny old life sometimes isn't it?  

Meanwhile Sunday saw an all-day event to mark the end of The 12 Bar Club in Denmark Street. After much speculation and despite a high profile petition corporate greed has won and the area is being redeveloped, which is likely to see an end to what has been a World-renowned focus for musical instrument shops, recording studios and the British music industry in general. As faceless Government goons - rats of another kind - line up to spout vacuous drivel about how they're 'ensuring the preservation of the rich tradition and heritage of the area' yet another piece of history is stolen from us in the name of 'progress'. Perhaps they'd like to explain how they intend to do that by pulling the bloody place down and turning it into a theme park?!? The bastards. Still this really was a day to remember, with people queueing around the block to get in and countless bands turning up for a chance to squeeze onto that strange little stage just one more time. Highlights were many and varied (The Fallen Leaves blistering set was probably the winner for me, but only just) and The London Sewage Company played 4 songs early in proceedings. I thought this would be my last appearance at the club, but I joined Sarah Pink there last night to finish her set with 'Teenage Kicks'. And with that I bade farewell to The 12 Bar Club - so hard to beat, as somebody once sang. 

Monday, January 05, 2015

New Year's Resolution

And so the new year begins. Oh hang on, didn't I say that last time...
Not a bad line-up eh?

My first gig of the year as an audience member was at Tropic At Ruislip last Friday when I witnessed a performance by original Wishbone Ash bass player Martin Turner. Apparently legal restrictions mean that he's not allowed to call it something like 'Martin Turner's Wishbone Ash' - hence the rather unwieldy 'Martin Turner and friends play the music of Wishbone Ash... and beyond' on the poster. Strange days indeed. I don't mind saying that musically it's not really my sort of thing, but I went along as I have good memories of my older cousins in Birkenhead playing their 'Argus' album (among many others) when we used to visit them during school holidays in the 1970s. I also think that it's good to support live music in our area on a night when I'm not out playing myself although that probably sounds a bit self-righteous? Oh well - maybe it is! Anyway they were very good indeed, with probably the best sound that I've ever heard in the venue. I may not be rushing out to buy their entire back catalogue, but it was definitely a good show to start my gig - going year with.

And Sunday afternoon's Upper Cut show at Ye Olde George in Colnbrook was definitely a good start to my gig-playing year - it's always a bit weird starting at 5pm but there were quite a few people in and there was dancing more-or-less from the word go; our two sets flew by and we were still playing well past our allotted end time of 8 o'clock. Great stuff all round.

This week all roads lead to The 100 Club, where Ruts D.C. are among various luminaries playing at The Resolution Festival. After the splendid 'The Clash - New Year's Day '77' show on BBC4 last week I for one am definitely in the mood for some punk rock, and it doesn't get much better than this does it? See you down the front!

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Start as you mean to go on

'Another new year and too much beer and a puke into the sea' - so begins 'Airstrip One' by Attila The Stockbroker, a less-than-cheery (i.e. realistic) look at the way Britain became little more than an American aircraft carrier in the 1980s and in doing so proved George Orwell to have been correct nearly 40 years earlier. It's a song that always seems to come into my mind on New Year's Day - and yet as I sit here typing this nearly 12 hours into 2015 the only part of the line that applies to me are the first three words. Maybe that's not a bad thing? 
Last night's Big Al Reed and The Blistering Buicks gig at The Kings Arms in Harefield was certainly no bad thing either, although it took a while to get going - we played three sets beginning at half past nine and ending just over three hours later, and while our first one was all but ignored by the few people present things had certainly hotted up by the second stage of proceedings, and the third set saw plenty of dancing, singing along and general jollity, which as I say is no bad thing. New Year's Eve tends to be an odd event from a band point of view - it's traditionally seen by many as a night where a musician can earn a bit more than usual and play a suitably raucous show in front of a sea of adoring fans, where as the reality is often closer to it being something that's often almost dreaded as much as anticipated. Me? I like it. No really I do. Why shouldn't I? It's always good to play guitar, and it was definitely good last night. 
And it was good to play guitar on Monday night with The London Sewage Company at The 12 Bar Club. With closure looming time is running out for one of the best venues of them all, and even though I say so myself The LSC made the most of what was likely to be their last appearance on the 12 Bar stage with a spirited performance that was enjoyed by all concerned. Despite reoccurring Manflu (I've more-or-less shook it off now - hopefully! - although it appears to have been replaced by toothache. Bugger!) I decided to stay for a drink after the show, and was struck by the number of people taking photos of the bar, the entrance, the stage - I have a feeling that I'm not the only person who will miss The 12 Bar Club when it closes.

So - what's next? Well my first gig of this year is with The Upper Cut at Ye Olde George in Colnbrook this Sunday, after which it's time to set the controls for The 100 Club where Ruts D.C. will be playing a week today as part of The Resolution Festival. Billed as 'A 5 Date Celebration Of Punk In It's Spiritual Home' it certainly looks like it should be an event to remember, and I'm hoping to catch as many of the shows as I can. And talking of punk rock tonight on BBC4 they're showing 'The Clash : New Year's Day '77' which promises some previously unseen footage of The Clash. Not a bad start to 2015...