Wednesday 19 December 2012

The Soundtrack of Our Lives: The Last Slussens Pensionat Shows. Exclusive Paul Slattery Photographs

As the saying goes...all good things must come to an end. And so it is that fans of one the greatest Rock 'n' Roll groups of recent years, The Soundtrack of Our Lives, are still coming to terms with the news that the band have decided to split up after their final shows at Stockholm's beautiful Södra Teatern at the end of the year. Starting off on December 17th with their debut "Welcome To The Infant Freebase", The Soundtrack of Our Lives will then run through all six of their albums on consecutive nights, up to the last stand on December 22nd, where there will be, no doubt an emotional, run through of the latest, and the last, album "Throw It To The Universe", and then that will be it...! The band will then fragment into their various side projects, studio production work, solo albums and movie there will still be plenty for fans to look forward to.

However, one of the saddest things to come to terms with the band splitting up, is the realisation that there will be no more of their now customary gigs at the stunningly beautiful Slussens Pensionat. The Soundtrack of Our Lives have turned these shows into a regular annual tradition ever since they first played at The Pensionat over ten years ago. And so it was that September 14th and 15th 2012 were fixed as the last ever dates the band would play here. I must admit to feeling quite sad about it, Slussens had become somewhere very special, so many great experiences and friendships, and of course so much great music. The band have always utilised the relaxed atmosphere to the maximum, and it was often the chance to do something completely different from their usual full-on tour dates.

Whether it was a run through of an album in it's entirety, the chance to try out brand new songs or an opportunity to plunder their immense back catalogue to play B-sides, album tracks and rarities, the Slussens shows were always a Fan's dream. Often playing three hour sets right on into the small hours of the morning, the shows usually ended up with the audience engulfing the band, joining in on tambourines and backing vocals. Ebbot would, by that time have dispensed with the semi-acoustic niceties, and be leaping across the tables, scattering beer bottles and wine glasses in his wake. At the thrilling climax of a Slussens show, it was often hard to imagine that a few hours earlier diners were sitting peacefully, enjoying the wonderful food in the relaxed and friendly restaurant.

The band would appear through those famous red drapes, usually while food was still being served, and take their places, Martin far left and the others seated on bar stools crammed around Fredrik's drums. They would start off with some laid back semi-acoustic run throughs of their more quieter numbers. "Not Kinda Worried", "All For Sale", "Reality Show" maybe, certainly songs that suited the mood. However, as the final plates were being cleared and more (and more...) pints of Ebbot Ale were consumed, tables were pushed back and the band and audience let loose. Occasionally, over the years, I witnessed other unsuspecting Hotel guests look on in consternation as this "Slussens fever" took hold and they realised their quiet romantic dinner for two was quickly coming to an end. Such was the growing reputation of these live extravaganzas that Fans from many countries, including Norway, England, Scotland, America and even as far afield as Chile, have made the pilgrimage to Slussens.

It was great chance to hear those rarely played old favourites and obscurities, to chat to the band, stock up on merchandise and meet other like-minded music fans too. Back in 2004, the band even chose Slussens Pensionat, and the beautiful surrounding countryside on Orust, as the location for the filming of the superb mock documentary fantasy film, "Ebbot The Movie" that was broadcast on Swedish TV. The film includes lots of footage from those shows, and the Director did a great job in perfectly captured the whole experience. So, we can live in hope that The Soundtrack of Our Lives may just feel that emotional pull and one day decide to reconvene at Slussens Pensionat once more... Photographer Paul Slattery was invited by the band to document the last ever Slussens shows, and we are delighted to be able to share some of his excellent and exclusive photos on the Retro Man Blog. You can also see Paul's photos from the last ever London show HERE.

The band with Robert Sohlberg of Slussens Pensionat
All photos above copyright Paul Slattery 2012.  

Both myself and Paul would like to sincerely thank Ebbot, Martin, Ian, Fredrik, Kalle and Mattias from The Soundtrack of Our Lives, Vibs and Robert Sohlberg from Slussens Pensionat, Hans Selander, Wayne Lundqvist-Ford, Anders Magnusson and Daniel Eriksson.

Ebbot with Photographer Paul Slattery - Photo by Hans Selander
Typical Slussens Audience Participation - Photo by Nellie Selander
Thanks to Hans and Nellie Selander for contributing the great Photos.

Sunday 16 December 2012

Retro Man Blog night with The Len Price 3, The Past Tense, The Fallen Leaves and The Legendary Groovymen at The Half Moon Putney December 07th

The Len Price 3 (and friends...) - Photo by Anders Magnusson
December 07th was my fourth Retro Man Blog night at The Half Moon in Putney and it proved to be the best one yet, so I'd really like to thank all of you that braved the cold and came along. We got in close to 200 people in the end so it was a fantastic turn-out, and me and all the bands really appreciate the support. I make no apologies for my insistence on putting on gigs for my two favourites - the night's headliners and the best live band in the U.K. - The Len Price 3 and the fantastic Past Tense. Even though, having worked with them so much over the past year a friend inadvertently asked "so when is your next gig for The Ten Past Three?".

The Legendary Groovymen by Steve Worrall
This time round we added the superb Fallen Leaves to the bill, along with The Legendary Groovymen and DJ Jeff Munday, for a packed night of raucous entertainment that would end up in a joyful stage invasion. Actually, this is something that seems to be a common theme at the Retro Man Blog nights as we had a stage invasion at the recent joint Retro Man/Podrophenia/Southend Punk night for the legendary voice of The Adverts, TV Smith, at The Railway in Southend. Although that one did include a bit of near-lethal stage-diving too, something TV said was extremely rare for him at his solo acoustic shows! Anyway, back to last Friday and kicking off the proceedings were The Legendary Groovymen, who proved a perfectly enjoyable warm up act with their run through of a mix of some choice cover versions and original numbers that set the good natured tone for the rest of the night to follow. Next up were The Fallen Leaves who were a revelation, I'd never seen the band live before so it was a treat to be able to get down the front and enjoy their set.

Rob Symmons of The Fallen Leaves by Paul Slattery
They open with "Did You See Her" and then into "Passing By" from their exceptional new album "If Only We'd Know". Guitarist Rob Symmons, one of the original members of Subway Sect, attacks his guitar sometimes quite literally, banging the body and strings to produce a taut Garage Rock sound full of splintered and jagged riffs. Vocalist Rob Green, resplendent in tweed jacket and cravat, looks the quintessential English gentlemen, "We play simple songs for complex people" he announces at one point. "Is She Somewhere?" from the album "That's Right" is followed by two more new songs, the sinister "I Made a Mistake" and the night's highlight "Against The Grain" which is a hook laden delight. During "Shining" from the "It's Too Late" album, singer Rob takes off his jacket to reveal a fetching waistcoat complete with pocket-watch on a chain. He then suddenly produces a thermos flask and pours himself a cup of tea, it's a nice, amusing piece of theatre. "Revenge" is followed by The Fallen Leaves last number of the night "Trouble" and then they finish to a great reception from the crowd.

Rob Green of The Fallen Leaves, sponsored by PG Tips by Steve Worrall
Next up it's The Past Tense and they nailed it tonight with the best performance I've seen from the band yet. Starting with the fantastic "Lost Without Your Love", they power through their tight, perfectly formed little nuggets such as "Poison Arrow" and "My Baby". They play a catchy new song called "Remember The Days", and follow that with even more great songs, "Angel Face", "The Optimist" and the classic "The Wolfman". The band end on "Jimmy's Love Song", a tribute to Quadrophenia, with it's urgent, strummed guitar intro it really raised the temperature. They got a well deserved encore too and treated us to "Out Of My Mind" before disappearing to wild applause.

The Past Tense by Paul Slattery
There's a real buzz around the venue as The Len Price 3 take the stage and it's like 0-100MPH in the beat of a drum as they slam straight into "Words Won't Come" and the catchy "You Tell Lies". They play a promising new song "My Grandad Jim", before revisiting their debut album to treat us to some rarely played oldies such as "Amsterdam" and "Hard Times Forever".

Glenn Page of The Len Price 3 by Paul Slattery
Then it's the unbelievably catchy "With Your Love" followed by the first single "Christian In The Desert" and the awesome crowd favourite "Rentacrowd". "The Girl Who Became A Machine" gives way to another new song "Praying Mantis" which will hopefully feature on their long awaited fourth album due to be released in 2013. The classics keep on coming, "After You're Gone", "Pictures", "Girl Like You" and another rarely played number "Sailor's Sweetheart". The band end the set with a raucous "Chinese Burn" before being urged back for a well deserved encore. They kick off again with a version of Link Wray's Surf classic "Comanche!" a cover that they have pretty much made their own. The fact that it is virtually instrumental gives lead vocalist and guitarist Glenn Page an opportunity to leap into the crowd without missing a strum.

Steve Huggins of The Len Price 3 by Paul Slattery
He makes it back on stage for that perfect piece of Kinks style pop "Mr. Grey" before powering through "If I Ain't Got You", "If You Live Round Here" and "Chatham Town Spawns Devils". Then Glenn invites the crowd to join him on stage and a fair few take him up on the offer for the traditional closing singalong "Shirley Crabtree". Then as the chants of "Easy, Easy" die down it's all over and a thoroughly satisfied crowd applauded what must go down as one of The Len Price 3's best performances yet. We have been honoured with two excellent reviews, a nice one from David Chandler on The Afterword web-site and then Adrian Ainsworth really captures the atmosphere brilliantly on his Specs Blog: "For this crowd, the 'Scene' has always been here. It was a joyful sight to see the sharp attire, the men were decked out in hooped shirts, flat caps, and shirts so floral they actually started photosynthesising - while the women, as usual, looked even better in short pinafore dresses and flats and, frankly, the willingness to simultaneously pogo and give the bands the finger as a sign of affection. Almost as if we'd put some hippies and punks in a blender - perhaps that's how this music can sound aggressive but feel inclusive: good, fast times." Well said Adrian! Everyone then moved into the main bar where DJ Jeff Munday, played a great selection of tunes that had people dancing away until closing time at 1am. So, again I'd like to thank the great crowd, Jeff Munday and all the bands and I would also like to thank Carrie at the Half Moon and her great staff for the work they put in, not just at the Pub and Venue itself, but also behind the scenes in helping to promote the shows.

Neil Fromow of The Len Price 3 by Paul Slattery
My thanks also to Paul Slattery and Anders Magnusson, for contributing the excellent photographs. All photographs strictly copyright as credited. Also thanks to David Chandler and Adrian Ainsworth for their great reviews. Here's some more shots from the night...

The Legendary Groovymen - Photo by Steve Worrall
The Fallen Leaves - Photo by Anders Magnusson
The Fallen Leaves - Photo by Steve Worrall
Rob Green The Fallen Leaves by Paul Slattery
Ken of The Past Tense by Paul Slattery
Warren of The Past Tense by Paul Slattery
Andy of The Past Tense in full flight by Paul Slattery
Glenn of The Len Price 3 by Anders Magnusson
The Len Price 3 by Paul Slattery
Neil of The Len Price 3 by Anders Magnusson
The lovely Half Moon Crowd by Steve Worrall
DJ Jeff Munday Photo by Steve Worrall
 Here's a Playlist of some exclusive live videos of the gig, more can be found at the Retro Man Blog YouTube Channel.

Thursday 13 December 2012

"Le Beat Bespoké 9" Weekender Easter 2013

Dr. Robert and New Untouchables have assembled another block buster line-up for the Easter 2013 "Le Beat Bespoké 9" Weekender featuring some of the best new bands from around the globe today as well as two stellar bands from the end of the 20th century. However, the live music is only part of what Le Beat Bespoké is all about. For your dancing delight they have booked a dynamic DJ line-up from across Europe armed with explosive sounds that are sure to melt your heart and mind. The full program will be online at soon and the micro site will feature band interviews, videos and photos, DJ playlists, market and record fair news, travel and accommodation tips and will go live before Christmas.

Tickets are on sale with a special price available on 3 and 4 day weekend tickets for members of the New Untouchables network. Go:

Tuesday 11 December 2012

Spiders live at Islington Academy December 06th

Spiders by Paul Slattery

Spiders first ever London show was a resounding success, in fact I can't remember the last time I have seen a support act get such an enthusiastic response and the band were unlucky not to be allowed to play an encore that they richly deserved. Spiders are currently opening for fellow Gothenburg based rock outfit Graveyard on an 18 date European tour that is taking in Holland, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria as well as England, Wales and Scotland. The dates coincide with the release of their stunning debut album "Flash Point", which has just been nominated for the P3 Guld Swedish Music Awards in the Rock album of the year category.

Photo by Paul Slattery
The results will be decided in January next year, and I will be popping down the bookies very soon and putting a bet on it winning outright! Their label Crusher Records, seems to be doing a great job promoting the band and the album has had a high profile Japanese release. I can really see the band going down a storm over in Japan if they can get some gigs sorted. Anyway, this was my first time to see Spiders live and they did not disappoint. Vocalist Ann-Sofie is a super-cool pint-sized bundle of energy with an amazing, powerful voice. She plays a mean harmonica too, and adds some tambourine and maracas into the mix as she swirls her hair, and stalks the stage. Of course on the surface Ann-Sofie is the main focal point, but Spiders are a perfect mix of individuals that makes this a really top group in the true essence of the word. The rhythm section of bassist Matteo Gambarcorta and drummer Ricard Harryson lay down a cool groove that underpins John Hoyles' mean and lean guitar playing. Actually, I think it's that rhythm that gives Spiders the edge and made them stand out for me in a genre of music that I am generally not so enthusiastic about. Bassist Matteo swings his Rickenbacker, immersed in the music. After the show he talked to me about his love of Soul music and mentioned that he has played in a band with that master of the Psychedelic groove, Mattias Hellberg.

Spiders by Steve Worrall
Compared to his band-mates, Drummer Ricard looks pretty impassive behind his kit, there's no headache inducing bashing and crashing of cymbals that seems to come with a lot of heavy rock bands. He keeps that crisp and steady beat, more Charlie Watts than Keith Moon. John Hoyles is a really great guitarist, and again why I love Spiders is that there are no unnecessary and excessive guitar noodlings, it's concise and heavy on the catchy riffing. They kick things off with the headlong rush of "Hang Man" and then slam straight into one of the album's highlights, "High Society", it's a breathless start. If like me, you prefer your heavy rock in the vein of the R'n'B groove of early AC/DC or the Punk energy of Motorhead, the power hooks of Cheap Trick or the Glam stomp of Slade, then you will love this band. However, I don't want it to seem that I am reinforcing that "Retro Rock" tag.

Ann-Sofie by Paul Slattery
I must add that Spiders are very much of the now, the sheer quality of their song writing and the energy that they exude both live and from their records, means that they could develop into a classic and timeless band. "Rules of The Game" from the album, is certainly one of my songs of the year and that hasn't even been released as a single, and tonight it sounds awesome. They play the storming single "Weekend Nights", a joyous Runaways style stomper and "Love Me" starts off with a raw bass intro that winds around a stabbing guitar line. The set finishes way too soon with the  brilliant new single "Fraction" and I am pleasantly surprised by the enthusiastic reaction from a very happy crowd. I am sure Spiders will be back again very soon, and next time I can pretty much guarantee they will be headlining.

Photo by Paul Slattery
John Hoyles by Steve Worrall
Spiders by Paul Slattery
Don't forget our Retrosonic Podcast Swedish Music Special Edition featuring an interview with Spiders vocalist Ann-Sofie, is still available to listen to or download free at the Retrosonic site.

Friday 7 December 2012

TV Smith at The Railway Hotel Southend-on-Sea Nov 23rd a Retro Man Blog/Podrophenia/Southend Punk night

TV Smith - Photo by Paul Slattery
TV Smith's return to The Railway in Southend-on-Sea turned out to be another wonderful experience at what is fast becoming one of my all time favourite venues. As TV Smith said after our last gig there together back in June, "The Railway is a music venue run by music lovers for music lovers and that's a rare thing in the U.K.". He enjoyed it so much that the very next day he asked to do it all again. And so, here we were back again, and thanks to my joint promoters Dave Collins and Ian Pile from Podrophenia and Steve Pegrum from the Southend Punk web-site, we were greeted by another capacity crowd packed out with what must be the friendliest bunch of locals a venue could wish for. Fi and Dave Dulake have done wonders at The Railway and are transforming the upstairs venue, installing a new P.A. system and extending the stage since I was last there.

The Tuppenny Bunters - Photo by Steve Worrall
As well as doing a fantastic job running the place, and serving some amazing vegetarian food too, they also have time to perform in their own drum and organ duo, The Tuppenny Bunters, who opened tonight's show. Swapping instruments and vocals as they went along, they played a mind spinning set of crashing jazz punk featuring unusual cover versions and cheesy theme tunes ramped up to 100 miles per hour.
Dick York - Photo by Paul Slattery
Next up was Cryssis front man and singer-songwriter Dick York, who played an acoustic run through of some catchy numbers from his repertoire. Dick used to play in local Mod Revival band Sta-Prest so the set was interspersed by local references and heavy on the audience participation. He has written a true classic in "Could It Be", and I'm sure I could hear people humming the tune the next day all over Southend. Dick's wife Christine joined him on stage at the end to run through some poems including the amusing "Punk Rock Gran".

TV Smith - Photo by TheDimLocator
Then TV Smith took to the stage to rapturous applause, the Railway crowd seem to have really embraced him and the reaction was really heart-warming. TV ran through a perfectly balanced set of songs from throughout his career such as "It's Expensive Being Poor", "Lord's Prayer", the song he wrote for The Lords of The New Church and my personal favourite, "You Saved My Life Then Ruined It". There are calls for "Tomahawk Cruise" the classic single he released with his first post-Adverts band TV Smith's Explorers, and he duly obliges to everyone's delight. "The Lion and The Lamb", "The Day I Caught The Big Fish", are also played with utter conviction. He then kindly complied to my shout for "Complaints Department" from his latest album "Coming Into Land", although ironically not until after a little complaint. "I'm not a Punk Rock Jukebox you know...", he tells me... "but TV, it wasn't as if I requested "Bored Teenagers", just a track from your new record...!". You can hear a hilarious version of "Complaints Department" in our exclusive Retrosonic Podcast live session. Throughout the show he talks about his views on the corporate world and mass consumer obsessions that are blighting our society, he's inspiring and honest, but also humorous with it.
TV Smith - Photo by Paul Slattery
He even throws in his amusing but cynical take on the ubiquitous seasonal Christmas song, "Xmas Bloody Xmas". What is evident every time you see TV Smith perform is that he cares, he wants to do right, to play his music on his terms to anyone that will listen. And if that means lugging his guitar, suitcase and emergency sandwich to sub-zero temperatures in Norway or Finland, or playing a festival in the middle of a forest in Eastern Europe with no guarantee of a place to sleep, then he will do it. It's inspirational, and his between song monologues get a great reaction. We are treated to the moving "Generation Y" and "In The Arms Of My Enemy" and then the raucous sing-along of "Only One Flavour".

TV Smith - Photo by Paul Slattery
Of course the set builds towards some of the classics from The Adverts days, but the good thing is you don't get a feeling of nostalgia, his solo material is as well received as the old numbers, but there's no doubting the place does go wild to "One Chord Wonders" and "Gary Gilmore's Eyes". As the set draws to a close the atmosphere builds and as he plays "Good Times Are Back", there is a stage invasion. TV is swamped by people all trying to shake his hand, slap his back and join in on backing vocals, it's chaotic but good natured. Unfortunately due to things over-running, the set had to finish there and we did not get to enjoy Piley and Mondo's superb DJ'ing, but the crowd were thoroughly exhausted and seemed very satisfied, so it was probably a fitting time to call it a night. Well, that was Retro Man Blog's third joint promotion gig at The Railway and I sincerely hope there will be more to come!

Here are some more photographs from the night, and you can also see a full set of superb photos by the extremely talented photographer Paul Hughes on his Flickr site.

Fi from The Tuppenny Bunters - Photo by Jim McManus
Fi from The Tuppenny Bunters - by Paul Hughes
Dave from The Tuppenny Bunters by TheDimLocator
TV Smith by Paul Slattery
TV Smith by TheDimLocator
TV Smith by Jim McManus
TV Smith by Paul Hughes
"Coppo" by Paul Slattery
Stage Invasion! by Jim McManus
Dick York, Dave Collins and TV Smith by Paul Hughes
TV Smith by Paul Slattery
There is another review of the gig up on the excellent Planet Mondo Blog and you can see more photos and a great selection of videos at the Southend Punk web-site Gallery too. Then you can still listen or download for free, our fantastic Retrosonic Podcast TV Smith Special Edition, in which TV talks us through his fascinating and inspiring history and plays an exclusive acoustic live session.

I'd like to thank TV Smith, Fi and Dave at The Railway, Dave Collins and Ian Pile from Podrophenia, Steve Pegrum from Southend Punk, Dick York & Christine York. Many thanks also to photographers Paul Slattery, Paul Hughes, Jim McManus and TheDimLocator for contributing the excellent pics, not forgetting the great Railway crowd that turned up to make this another memorable night!