Thursday 30 May 2013

The Undertones live at Reading Sub89 May 27th

The Undertones at Sub89 Reading - Photo by Steve Worrall
Tonight, The Undertones were quite simply magnificent, they played with an energy and commitment that could put bands half their age to shame. Come to think of it, apart from a few grey hairs here and there, they pretty much do look half their age. In fact, as the band take the stage my mind conjures up a Portrait of Dorian Gray scenario, and I imagine there must be some old Undertones photo hanging in a dusty attic somewhere (probably taken by Paul Slattery…), corrupted and ravaged by over 30 years of rock and roll, while the band go about their business looking remarkably youthful and sprightly. Of course absent from that old photo would be The Undertones current singer Paul McLoone, who joined back in 1999 when the band got back together, at first with the intention to only play a couple of gigs. Paul had been in The Carrelines with drummer Billy Doherty and was invited to take up the unenviable challenge of replacing charismatic front man Feargal Sharkey. Feargal had left the band in 1983 to embark on a short-lived solo career and then to take up a position on the other side of the barricades as a record company A&R man.

Michael Bradley and Paul McLoone - Photo by Steve Worrall
With Paul settling in well and some excellent new material recorded, the band decided to make the reunion a little bit more permanent and released the superb album “Get What You Need” in 2003. Of course in The Undertones case, it does help that the band itself and the main song-writing nucleus remains intact so the sound is, of course, as authentic as you’re going to get. Now comes the tricky bit, replacing that all important original front-man/vocalist. To be honest the first time I heard the “new” Undertones was the track “Thrill Me” – a mighty headlong rush of a song propelled along by a great guitar riff and then Paul’s voice comes in and my first thought was “oh dear, sounds a bit too close to Feargal”. But then as the album progressed it became apparent that, yes, there is a resemblance, but it really works and I was soon blown away by the album completely on its own, and Paul’s, merits. 

The Undertones - Photo by Steve Worrall
Tonight at the excellent Sub89 in Reading, a great venue which even has polite bouncers - in fact it would almost be perfect if not for the £4.00 they charge for a plastic glassed pint - The Undertones take the stage and kick off straight into “Jimmy Jimmy” and the place erupts. Paul has certainly grown in confidence since the first time I saw the new line-up at the Brighton Concorde 2 back in in the summer of 2003. It must have been daunting stepping into Feargal’s shoes, but rather like Baz Warne has done in The Stranglers, he has grown into the role and seems to have built up a rapport with the crowd. Both Baz and Paul have taken on a tough task but get the balance just right between being able to express their own style and individuality, doing justice to the older material and avoiding turning into their own cabaret tribute band.

John O'Neill - Photo by Steve Worrall
Paul is an energetic performer to say the least, he runs through a gamut of classic rock poses, kicks and jumps, whipping his microphone lead like Morrissey one minute and then giving it the old Elvis hip-swing routine another. At one point he quips “is there a physiotherapist in the house, I think I’ve done my neck in.” By the time the familiar intro to “Jump Boys” rings out, Feargal is all but forgotten, then it’s “Here Comes The Summer” and the atmosphere in the venue noticeably cranks up another few notches. The genial Michael Bradley is an underrated bassist, and I was over the moon when his wonderful riff to “Tearproof” is played, it’s one of my favourite Undertones songs and when they followed that with “Girls That Don’t Talk” I didn’t think it could get much better. It did. We got treated to thirty, yes you did read that right, 30 songs of Punk Pop perfection. All the classic hit singles like “You’ve Got My Number”, “My Perfect Cousin” and “Wednesday Week” to some cracking album tracks such as “Billy’s Third”, “I Gotta Getta” and “She’s a Runaround”. There’s some overlooked gems “When Saturday Comes”, “The Love Parade” and “It’s Going To Happen” and some picks from their excellent new material such as “Thrill Me”, “I Need Your Love The Way It Used To Be” and the superb new Record Store Day single “Much Too Late”.

The Undertones - Photo by Steve Worrall
Guitarists John and Damian O’Neill are on fire, their melodic riffs just keep on coming and the ever youthful Billy Doherty drums his heart out, it really is an impressive performance. “Teenage Kicks”, somewhat surprisingly, is not held back for the encore but comes about three quarters of the way through the set. Unsurprisingly, it gets the most rapturous reception of the night but there are still more great songs to come. The band finish on the sublime “Get Over You” but are soon called back for an encore that is quite simply stunning. “Male Model”, “True Confessions”, “Hypnotised”, “There Goes Norman” and a frantic finale of “Mars Bar” – you just can’t ask for more.

The Undertones - Photo by Steve Worrall
Paul McLoone - Photo Steve Worrall
Damian O'Neill - Photo by Steve Worrall
The Undertones - Photo by Steve Worrall
You can check out some excellent early photographs of  The Undertones by Paul Slattery, here, in our previous Blog feature on the "Good Vibrations" movie about Terri Hooley and his vital Belfast based record label that originally released "Teenage Kicks". For more photos "Like" the Retro Man Blog Facebook page for access to the Photo Album. Here's a video from our YouTube channel...

Giuda live at The Buffalo Bar Islington May 24th

Tenda from Giuda - Photo Copyright Paul Slattery
I’m beginning to wonder recently just how many times I can get back from a show, sit down and write “best gig of the year!” I mean, it’s not like I’m working for any of the bands or have any vested interest and I'm certainly not trying to appear flippant, it just happens to be true. I have been spoilt rotten with some excellent live music this year. So, the latest recipients of my "Best Gig of the Year" award must go to the Rome based Giuda, who were back on British soil for a one-off show in the tiny, crammed to capacity Buffalo Bar in Highbury last Friday. It was, at first, a choice of venue that raised eyebrows as I was sure that Giuda could fill a much larger place considering the buzz following their previous gigs and the ecstatic response to their immense debut album “Racey Roller”. Still, the organisers of the fantastic Club night “Some Weird Sin” pulled off a coup getting the band to play here, as demand certainly outstripped supply, and it created one of those “you just had to be there” moments; one of those gigs that I am sure will be revered as something very special in years to come. It could happen, Giuda have the image and the attitude and the buzz about them, but most importantly, they have the songs. Timeless terrace chant anthems that stick in your head and give it a right good kicking.

Tenda, Lorenzo and Michele - Photo Copyright Paul Slattery
Tonight, after a really superb set by Jonny Cola and The A-Grades (more about them on the Blog in due course…) Giuda fight their way through the crowd to take the stage and hit us with a three song blast of “Wild Tiger Woman”, “Rave On” and “Fat Boy Boogie”, which I guess are from their forthcoming second album as I wasn’t familiar with them. Well, not until the first verse and chorus of each that is, as Giuda have that knack of writing melodies that hook you in immediately and you feel like you’ve been listening to these songs for years. Then we are on more familiar territory with tracks from “Racey Roller” and the band slam out “Tartan Pants”, “Back Home” and the fantastic “Coming Back To You”. Vocalist Tenda is an imposing front-man, with tattooed biceps the size of my legs, he has the physique of Idris Elba’s Stringer Bell in The Wire, and I feel thankful that I don’t have to write a bad review about Giuda. When he’s not pressed against the crowd, fists pumping the air, he’s playing air-guitar along with his superb guitarist playing colleagues Lorenzo and Michele, who back him up with their consummate riffing. 

Danilo and Daniele - Photo Copyright Paul Slattery
“Get It Over” is a prime Giuda anthem, a repetitive, foot stomping classic where all the best moments of the Seventies Glam Rock scene are distilled into one song. The Glitter Band, The Sweet and Slade of course spring to mind, and on this number drummer Daniele and the street tough looking bassist Danilo come into their own, laying down a rock solid foundation. The absolute perfection of latest single “Number 10”, is somewhat predictably one of the night’s highlights with its footie related imagery and clap-along audience participation, but there’s another more surprising hit with the instrumental “Racey Roller”. Here Tenda takes a well deserved breather and hands over to his band mates to show us what they can do. The crowd surge to the front, bodies are scattered and everyone sings along, well not exactly as there aren’t any words, make that mimic what must surely be one of the most insanely catchiest guitar riffs ever. There’s a classic TV show theme tune there all ready and waiting. Giuda fuse all the greats of the Seventies whether, it’s the street-fighting Boot-boy sounds of Jook or the Hammersmith Gorillas or the Punk energy of the Ramones and the harmonies of Buzzcocks to Slade, T. Rex and The Faces – it’s all distilled into a fresh, exhilarating and yet thoroughly modern, wall of sound.
Giuda - Photo Copyright Paul Slattery
There’s a surprise special guest appearance from Clive Jones of the short-lived late 70's/early 80's outrageously theatrical Agony Bag, who takes over lead vocals on a run through of their Rocky Horror Punk masterpiece “Rabies Is a Killer”, apparently one of the first songs Tenda learned to sing in English. Clive revels in the role and puts on a great show with his shock of blonde hair and swirling black cape adding a bit of theatrics to the proceedings. Giuda then take the reins again and treat us to some more thumping tracks before ending on the immense anthem, “Here Comes Saturday Night”. The band are soon called back for a well deserved encore of “Give Us a Goal” and the floor shaking “Roll On”, which leaves the audience dazed and bruised and very, very happy.
Clive Jones of Agony Bag - Photo Copyright Paul Slattery
Giuda’s second album will be released on Damaged Goods Records who have also just put out a stunning looking vinyl version of the “Racey Roller” album. It’s a real work of art, with its grey vinyl and authentic Seventies retro cover and inner sleeve, check it out at the Damaged Goods store here, you’ll want to frame it! A reminder that you can listen to Giuda on Episode 5 of Retrosonic Podcast and also in Part 2 of our Damaged Goods Records Story special.

Tenda - Photo Copyright Paul Slattery
Michele - Photo Copyright Paul Slattery
Lorenzo - Photo Copyright Paul Slattery
Here's a little bonus video, up very close & personal with Giuda live at The Buffalo Bar...for more videos please head on over to the Retro Man Blog YouTube channel...

With many thanks to Paul Slattery for the excellent photos. For more pics please "Like" the Retro Man Blog Facebook page for access to the Giuda photo album.

Monday 27 May 2013

King Salami & The Cumberland 3, Suzi Chunk & Groovy Uncle and Les BOF! Live at the Hipsville Weekender

Photo by David Williams
It was such a shame that the first ever Hipsville Weekender coincided with a very busy weekend for me, but I was determined to try my best to get along to sample even a small part of it. When I saw that King Salami & The Cumberland 3 were appearing, that was it, I definitely had to go, and I arrived at Bisley Pavillion on the Saturday evening just before Les BOF! took to the stage. The band, comprising Angus from The Thanes on guitar and impressive mutton-chop sideburns, Colin on Bass and Ross on drums, kicked things off with "Rue Marcel Sembat", the instrumental opener to their excellent album "Nous Sommes...Les BOF!" which is released on one of Retro Man Blog's favourite labels CopaseDisques. Suddenly, livewire vocalist Laurent made his entrance from the crowd, jumping over the crash barrier at the front to join his colleagues on stage, dropping to his knees to burst through some exceptional harmonica skills. Laurent's Marseilles background injects a Gallic twist to their brand of Garage Rock and gives them a welcome shot of individuality. The crunching chords to "Ils Vont Tuer Le R'n'R" brings to mind The Sonics and then there's the wicked fuzzed guitar of "P-Club" and "Vivre Avec Toi" which are both superb songs. The band throw in some well received cover versions such as "Hanky Panky", "Jezebel" and "Leaving Here", and Laurent leaps into the crowd to join in the dancing. Les BOF! are a great little outfit, summoning up the spirit of some of the best of Sixties French Ye-Ye such as Jacques Dutronc, Delphine and France Gall. 

Les BOF! - Photo by Steve Worrall
Les BOF! - Photo by Steve Worrall
Next up was the delightful, soulful voice of Suzi Chunk, backed by the Medway based Psych Power Pop band Groovy Uncle, tonight featuring Bruce Brand from The Masonics on guitar. They played a great set, drawing mainly from the must-have album "Girl From The Neck Down" (State Records). Songwriter and guitarist Glenn Pragnell sings lead on the Groovy Uncle tracks such as "Play Something We Know" and "Got Any Mantras?" with Suzi doing backing vocals, they reverse the roles on Suzi's songs and it all works out really well. The upbeat Motown styled Soul of "For The Millionth Time" and romantic smoocher "Got My Eyes On The Prize" are complimented perfectly by the Beatles Hamburg-era rockers such as "Tripwire" and the 60's guitar riffs of "Look Back and Laugh". The highlights for me were "Girl From The Neck Down" and the great Power Pop of "Vanity, Snake Hips and Hair" and I was left hoping that this won't be the last we see of this excellent collaboration.

Suzi Chunk & Groovy Uncle - Photo by Steve Worrall
Glenn Pragnell of Groovy Uncle - Photo by Steve Worrall
And then it's the moment I'd really been waiting for, King Salami & The Cumberland 3, and they were everything I'd been hoping for and more! The multi-cultural line-up of Caribbean, French, English and Japanese cram as many ingredients into their music as their combined backgrounds suggest. Garage Rock, Soul, Ska, Rockabilly...all infused with a manic Punky edge and a dash of Looney Tunes style cartoon humour, it's a dream party concoction that defies anybody to stand still. King Salami himself is like a manga styled cross between James Brown and the Tasmanian Devil and is one of the most charismatic front-men I have seen in many a year. The band don't stand around waiting to be upstaged though, in fact they don't stand around at all, and the combined antics of each are a joy to behold. Drummer Eric Baconstrip seems positively miffed that he has to sit down to play and drums with an energy that makes it seem like he's itching to get up and join in up front. 

King Salami & The Cumberland 3 - Photo by Steve Worrall
"Betti Moretti" is fantastic and "Do The Climb" and "Yosemite Sam", which includes a snippet of The Batman theme, crank up the fun factor notch by notch. "Just My Kind" sees the brilliant guitarist Pepe Ronnie slam out the great Dr. Feelgood Wilko Johnson intro and it's one of my highlighs of the night. "Trubble Trubble" is a delight and then it's the Bo Diddley beat of "Ma Juju Girl". The band then don Red Indian head-dresses and saxophonist and percussionist Chuchi Sobrassada a comedy arrow through the head for "Big Chief". There's a mind blowing bass line from Kamikaze U.T. Vincent who then bravely proceeds to climb a precarious PA speaker stack to finish the rest of the song. The great tracks keep on coming with King Seb Salami rattling his maracas and imploring the audience to join in on "Less Bone More Meat!", "Howlin' For My Woman" and the classic "Do The Wurst". Then there's a brief blast of the "Looney Tunes" theme to end on a suitably manic note and the band exit to rapturous applause. We're treated to a great crazed encore of "Mojo Workout", with the crowd all joining in singing along and then that's it, it's all over! A quite brilliant performance from what must be the hottest band on the block right now.

All King Salami & The Cumberland 3 photos above by Steve Worrall
As well as the live music, there was much more on offer at Hipsville, such as vintage and retro clothes stores, record stalls from Dirty Water Records and Soundflat Records and an impressive selection of cool classic hot-rods, motorbikes and vintage cars parked up outside. Of course there was also the fabulous array of Go-Go dancers, such as the wonderful Linda Go-Go and the The Meyer Dancers, who really added to the party atmosphere and helped get the crowd into the swing of things. I was also really impressed with the DJ set by Farbror Fuzz from Norway, especially as he played one of my all-time favourite Lyres songs, "Help You Ann" from "Lyres On Fyre", and some other great tracks such as The Bluestars "Social End Product" and Shocking Blue's "Send Me a Postcard", his set went down a storm. Here are a few more photos of the evening...

Photo by Steve Worrall
Photo by David Williams
Photo by David Williams
Photo by Steve Worrall
Photo by Steve Worrall
Suzi Chunk and Bruce Brand - Photo by Steve Worrall
King Salami - Photo by Steve Worrall
Although I was only there for the one evening I was really impressed with the organization and smooth running of things, there was a decent sized crowd and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and entered into the spirit of things. It must have been a tough job to keep it all going over the whole weekend, I know I get stressed out enough just doing a one-off gig, so this must have taken it out of the Hipsville organizers and let's hope that they decide to go ahead with a Hipsville next year too - I will make sure I keep the whole weekend free this time!

Photo by David Williams
With many thanks to David Williams for allowing me to publish some of his excellent photographs. For more photos of my visit to Hipsville's Saturday night activities, please "Like" the Retro Man Blog Facebook page for access to the Photo Album.

Saturday 25 May 2013

The Killer B's + Sid Sings + Horse Face: Live at The Half Moon Putney, London May 09th

Chris Thompson of Killer B's and Horse Face - Photo by Steve Worrall
This was a real treat for me as I have been a huge Screaming Blue Messiahs fan ever since their raw full-on rock and rhythm and blues rescued me from that terrible, bleak musical wasteland of the late 80's early 90's. The Messiahs and The Godfathers were just two of the very few bands at the time getting out there and burning it up for us lovers of primal guitar music, so I will always be grateful! Tonight, I got the chance to see two thirds of the Screaming Blue Messiahs play together live again for the first time in many years. Original Messiahs rhythm section, bassist Chris Thompson and drummer Kenny Harris have reunited under the name Horse Face, with Chris taking over on guitar and vocals. Although usually augmented by a double-bass player, tonight they played as a two-piece and blasted out some impressive blues. It was particularly great to hear Kenny's superb drumming again. You can check out some Horse Face songs at their Soundcloud page.

Chris Thompson and Kenny Harris of Horse Face - by Steve Worrall
Kenny Harris of Horse Face - by Steve Worrall
Sid Sings were a revelation live. I'd been blown away by their track "Caught In Black" and went out and snapped up their great full length debut album "Notes From Underground" and the mini-album "Make Me Howl" and was really keen to see them. Playing tonight as a three piece with the excellent drummer Dan Peranic (excellent drummers being a recurring theme throughout the evening actually...), Sid Sings didn't disappoint, hitting their stride immediately with the storming "Death Rattle Boogie", the band were on fire from the off. Singer Nikki Brooks and guitarist Sandy Michie are a live-wire duo up front and although at first it's easy to see the glamorous Nikki as the main focal point, she is after all quite stunning, they are very much a double act.

Sid Sings - Photo by Steve Worrall
Sandy throws himself and his guitar around the stage. Bending and contorting his body as he does the guitar strings, he's really channelling the music into the performance and it's great to watch. Nikki clutches her mic stand, swaying along to the beat and swirling her hair as she delivers her superb vocals. She has a great distinctive voice and the way she switches to sultry French for the verses of "Caught In Black" is really something special. They only play a couple of tracks from "Notes From The Underground" tonight, but they do plough through all of the near faultless "Make Me Howl". Sid Sings also slip in a great mash-up cover version of The White Stripes "Seven Nation Army" and Dusty Springfield's "Anyone Who Had a Heart", it's very clever and works really well. Their brand of Blues has a nice bit of power and a Garage Rock rawness to it and I thoroughly enjoyed the set. Nikki has her own radio show "House Rent Boogie" on Resonance 104.4FM and a great Blog to go along with it. She recently did a show with Rob Symmons from The Fallen Leaves which is definitely well worth a listen.

Nikki from Sid Sings - Photo Steve Worrall
Sid Sings - Photo by Steve Worrall
A quick change of hat and Chris Thompson takes to the stage for the second time tonight with his main band The Killer B's, who proceeded to play a storming selection of their own special brand of kicking killer Blues. I wasn't familiar with a fair chunk of the set, which featured only a few songs from their excellent Pat Collier produced Track Records released debut album "Love Is a Cadillac Death Is a Ford". Chris is joined in the Killer B's by another top drummer, Dave Morgan and yes, there is a bassist in the house, the dapper Ricky McGuire, once of The Men They Couldn't Hang. The Killer B's are not your average Rhythm & Blues band, they are certainly pretty far removed from straight forward R&B boogie, there is a darker undercurrent with an edge that elevates the band to another level. Sometimes it's in the dark humour of "Low Watt Light" and other times it's the occasionally unsettling and challenging chord changes and tangents that they spring on you. Captain Beefheart and Zappa are probably as much an influence as the more traditional Blues names. "Head Hive & The Honey" is a slow burning classic with some amazing slide guitar work from Chris. The band end a great show with "You Bug Me" and a really excellent night of music draws to a close. The Killer B's have a great web-site with some cool graphics that's well worth checking out here.

The Killer B's - All Photos above by Steve Worrall
For more photos "Like" the Retro Man Blog Facebook page for access to the Photo Album.

Here's a little bonus - a video of Sid Sings taken from the Retro Man Blog "YouTube Channel:

Wednesday 22 May 2013

Dr. Feelgood Exhibition extended to June 30th at the Canvey Club, Canvey Island

The Dr. Feelgood Exhibition, a superb collection that brings together 40 years of musical mementos and memorabilia from throughout the band's career, has now been extended to June 30th. It's being held at the Canvey Club, 162 High Street, Canvey Island, Essex SS8 7SS, right in the heart of Feelgood's territory. Photographer Paul Hughes, went along and has kindly contributed some of his excellent photographs of the exhibition which I am very pleased to share.

With many thanks to Paul Hughes for contributing the pictures. For more of Paul's superb photography please check out his FLICKR page. You can also check our previous Blog feature on our own little Dr. Feelgood's Canvey Island and Southend-on-Sea tour here. This features some famous landmarks such as The Kursaal, THE Jetty, The Admiral Jellicoe, the Monico and the iconic Labworth Cafe. As a bonus there are some classic Dr. Feelgood pics from the 1975 Naughty Rhythms Tour by the legendary photographer, and friend of the Blog, Paul Slattery. All photos copyright Paul Hughes.

For more details on the Exhibition please visit the web-site Dr. Feelgood Exhibition.