Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Punky Reggae Party

At this time of year a busy few days in mad-guitar-land is all too often followed by a bout of ManFlu, and that is indeed the case once again here. Bah! But it's also been a good few days in mad-guitar-land, beginning last Thursday with a Ruts D.C. gig at The Talking Heads in Southampton. The Riverjuke amp went wrong (again) in our soundcheck (it blew a fuse - time for a 'proper' service perhaps lads?!?) but thankfully my amp sounded great (again) and we played a splendid set to a nearly-sold-out room. It's good when that happens - but as I said last time, we're lucky as it happens to us quite a lot these days.

The next two nights saw your humble narrator catch a couple of great gigs, the first of which was at Koko on Friday where The Undertones reduced grown men to tears with a magnificent performance. As 'Teenage Kicks' drew to a close and the entire place erupted around us Adrian of Aural Sculptors fame commented 'John Peel was right about that one wasn't he?' Indeed he was Adrian, indeed he was. The following night Daniel Romano played at The Borderline, a venue which has been completely transformed since I was last there. The stage is in the same place but everything has been painted black, the bar has moved and the walk to the toilets resembles something out of a science fiction film. Weird! Mr. Romano is a big favourite at Balcony Shirts - Scott plays his albums in the shop all the time - and myself and the lads saw a blistering display of garage-y rock from the man and his band. Great stuff - if you're not familiar with his work he's well worth checking out.

On Sunday afternoon Big Al Reed and The Blistering Buicks played at Ye Olde George in Colnbrook. At the end of our second set the guv'nor approached Al with the immortal words 'there's a one-er in it for you if you play another 25 minutes' - I think Al surprised said guv'nor with his reply of 'can you make it £120, it divides easier between the six of us?', but either way we played an extra 25 minutes and everyone went home happy. Well I certainly did, until I woke up the next day with a cold. Ah well - you don't get something for nothing do you? Which reminds me - Ruts D.C. will be joining The Damned, Brix Smith Start and Stuart Pearce (oh yes!) on Steve Lamacq's BBC Radio 6 Music Live radio show 'Christmas Punk Party' on Friday 8th December. As I said in the last posting, I can't quite believe what I type here sometimes... anyway if you'd like to come along this link tells you how to apply for tickets - I wouldn't leave it too long if I were you...

Monday, November 13, 2017

See You Up There!

Time for a belated report on three Ruts DC gigs the weekend before last, the first or which was at The Waterfront in Norwich. Support came from The East Town Pirates who I thought were very entertaining although I missed the second half of their set as I was summoned to a nearby pub by Segs where he was meeting Stiff Little Fingers bassman Ali McMordie. I walked in to find them both ensconced around a small table - if you'd have told me back in (say) 1979 that I would one day have been meeting up with them never mind being in a band with one of them then I don't know what I would have said... our show saw the return of my Marshall DSL100 amplifier after a repair at the factory, and without wishing to tempt fate I have to say that it sounded terrific. We also have a spare - hereinafter referred to as 'the Riverjuke amp'  as Harry, Adam and co. currently own it - but more about that in a minute. We played well although for me it was the weakest of the three shows - not bad, just not quite as good as the others, if you know what I mean.

The next day - Saturday 4th November, if you're taking notes - saw us journey across the country to Wolverhampton for The Midlands Calling Festival. There was time to check in at our hotel before making our way to The Civic Hall where Harry and Adam went in to set up our merchandise while Segs and myself walked the short distance to the Blooms clothes shop - we'd spotted it on the way there and Segs thought that it 'looked interesting'... he couldn't have been more correct - it was how I imagine tailor's shop would have been years ago, with a brace of cheery immaculately-dressed assistants with tape measures around their necks all only to happy to attend to your every clothing needs. It got a bit 'suit you' here and there - rarely a bad thing I'm sure you'll agree - and I loved it. I found a suit in the sale which I liked the look of, but as I said to the assistant, the trousers were 'a bit David Essex' (I like his music, but not the flares!) and I'd prefer three buttons while the jacket only had two - within seconds I was told that it could be altered and ready for collection the next morning. Sold! I must wear it on stage sometime soon... in the meantime we played a thunderous 45 minute set to the enthusiastic appreciation of the assembled multitude and everybody seemed to be very happy with our efforts. We'd decided to use the Riverjuke amp but to our dismay no sound was forthcoming - with only a short changeover between bands we decided to use the backline amp provided and resolved to have a proper look at it the next night in Wakefield

I'd not been to Warehouse 23 before, but it seems to me to be an excellent venue which is putting on a lot of very diverse entertainment, which is always a good thing to see. At the soundcheck we plugged the Riverjuke amp in again - still no sound. I set up my DSL 100 while Harry set about investigating - when he opened the amp up to his and indeed my astonishment he discovered that the four power valves were missing. Well, that would do it! It had gone to Marshalls at the same time as mine but they had clearly forgotten to put the valves back in after testing them. Doh! (Harry called them the next day and they have since sent a new set of valves free of charge, so hopefully all's well that ends well...) Thankfully my amp sounded great, and we went on to play what to me was the best show of the three. Again that's not to say that the other two were bad, just that this one just edged it. We're lucky, we play some good gigs - talking of which, it's just been officially announced today that we're supporting Stiff Little Fingers on their 'Down To The Bone' British tour next March. Once again, if you'd have told me when I was 18 that one day I'd be typing that sentence I don't know what I would have said...

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Life begins at forty?

'Never Mind The Bollocks, Here's The Sex Pistols' was released 40 years ago last Saturday, on October 28th 1977. Many thousands, maybe even millions of words have been written about it, how knows how many bands formed on the back of hearing it, and it's visceral rock 'n' roll power remains undiminished four decades on. Or does it? Every so often I hear somebody repeating the tired old cliches like 'they couldn't play' and 'they were invented by their manager weren't they?' - all absolute nonsense of course, as one listen to the album proves. I played it on Saturday afternoon and it sounded magnificent. Mind you, it usually does.

And talking of magnificent albums 'Power In The Darkness' by The Tom Robinson Band is in my not-so-humble opinion one of the best records (I still think of them as records, don't you?) of all time. To celebrate it's 40th anniversary (hang on - wasn't it released in 1978?!?) Tom has been out and about over the last few weeks with his current band playing it in it's entirety - I was lucky enough to catch a performance by them at The 100 Club last Thursday evening, not least because the band were joined by the original TRB guitarist Danny Kustow for the last two songs ('Motorway' and 'Don't Take No For An Answer' - check out these wonderful vintage clips to see the band back in the day) of the evening. Kustow is one of my all-time favourite players, and it was fabulous to see him on stage again - I even managed a few words with him after the show (I'm shy at the best of times so talking to a genuine guitar hero took a lot of doing!) which meant a lot to me. The best part of a week later, it still does.  

When last we spoke The Upper Cut were about to play their last ever show - and what better place for us to play it at than The Dolphin in Uxbridge. To say that I had and indeed have mixed feelings about this is something of an understatement; I think a lot of the people I play music with, and whilst it's obvious that nothing can last for ever the band has had some great times over the last few years so it'll be sad to see it go - if indeed it does go. Considering we didn't have a chance to rehearse the band played well and there were no awkward moments - well at least there weren't until Noel the guv'nor checked that we were still going to be playing he and Bridie's wedding anniversary party in December. Hmm.. it seems we will be appearing there again next month... the next night Big Al Reed and The Blistering Buicks played a short notice (I got a text about the show during the Upper Cut's interval!) gig across the road at The General Elliot, a raucous evening which saw much dancing and merriment throughout a boisterous performance. The band played two good shows last weekend (in Burnham and Shepperton since you were wondering) and have plenty more where they came from in the new few weeks so there's lots to be going on with. 

This weekend it's time for some more Ruts D.C. gigs - we're in Norwich on Friday, Wolverhampton on Saturday and Wakefield on Sunday. We've been rehearsing today and in addition to running though our current set we've been looking at some ideas for new songs which hopefully will be recorded for a new album sometime next year. And that's not the only exciting thing that's hopefully on the horizon - but more about that another time... in the meantime I've got the rest of the night off so I think that it's time to play the Pistols album again. I've been playing it rather a lot since last Saturday - maybe you have too?