Thursday, 16 April 2015

The Loons, Kaleidoscope & The Misunderstood at Le Beat Bespoké Weekender Friday April 03rd

The Loons - Photo by Retro Man Blog
I’ve been a big fan of The Loons ever since their debut album "Love’s Dead Leaves", and not just because it was produced by Ebbot Lundberg of The Soundtrack of Our Lives. Frontman Mike Stax is also responsible for the superb "Ugly Things" magazine which once boasted an immense feature on Soundtrack’s previous incarnation, Union Carbide Productions and included a copy of TSOOL’s debut E.P. for subscribers. So, I was thrilled to finally get to see the Californian-based band play live. Actually, the Friday night of the New Untouchables Le Beat Bespoké Weekender was the place to be for Loons fans, as not only did the band open proceedings as “themselves” but they also headlined as the backing band for Glenn Ross Campbell’s The Misunderstood. But back to the beginning of the evening and The Loons took the stage and treated us to a perfectly paced set of their concise and tuneful Garage Rock nuggets that despite the early start, warmed up the growing crowd nicely.

The Loons, Mike Stax & Anja - Photo by Retro Man Blog
Unfortunately, there are no songs from their debut album in tonight's set, so I don't get to hear "Not The Same Girl" or "Insecurity Smasher", which was a bit of a shame for me, as they've been long time favourites. However, with the majority of the set filled with songs from their excellent album "Inside Out Your Mind" I can’t really complain too much! The slightly melancholic strains of “Moon and Tide” were a particular favourite as was the frantic “Picture Book” Kinks riffing of "Siren City". The band played both sides of their brand new Dirty Water Records single “Miss Clara” and “Alexander” which were really well received and “Diamonds, Garbage and Gold”, the only track from “Red Dissolving Rays of Light”. Mike is an all-action front-man, a blur of energy with his “Acid Blues” scrawled tambourine. Next to him is Anja on the Rickenbacker bass, a study of cool in her blue mini-dress drawing admiring comments from guys and girls around me in the crowd. They play two cover versions, a rousing and raucous run through of the Sons of Adam’s “Saturday’s Son” which is really excellent as is their set closer, the somewhat more familiar “You’re Gonna Miss Me” by the 13th Floor Elevators. The band leave the stage to a great round of applause, unfortunately there’s no encore but luckily it won’t be the last we will see of The Loons tonight.

Peter Daltrey of Kaleidoscope - Photo by Retro Man Blog
Next up were Kaleidoscope, and like The Misunderstood they took the stage represented by just the one original band member, in this case vocalist Peter Daltrey, who announced “don’t worry, we’ll play all your favourites”. He has assembled a great young band around him that include members of The Trembling Bells and a superb sitar player, Graham Gordon, who all do considerable justice to the old Kaleidoscope material, beefing up the songs and adding a bit of power to proceedings. The set is packed full of melodic songs such as "In The Room of Percussion", "Faintly Blowing" and "Snapdragon" with choruses that stick in the head and prove perfect for the crowd to sing along to, which many did with great enthusiasm. Peter’s voice was on top form and he was a charming and engaging front-man and when he introduced original drummer Danny Bridgland on the bongos, there was a surge of warm applause. Actually Danny and Peter go back even further than Kaleidoscope, right back to their days in The Sidekicks, who once supported The Who in the early 60’s.

Kaleidoscope - Photo by Retro Man Blog
There are three excitable ladies in front of me waving at Danny and cheering loudly every time he is in the spotlight. The youngest one of the three has tears in her eyes and another turns to me as though to apologize for their behaviour. I notice the look of pride and affection in her face as she gestures towards Danny and tells me, "That’s my Dad…!" It was a nice moment. Peter mentions that "Bordeaux Rosé" has been snapped up for a long term French wine advertising campaign, it’s one of a few Fairfield Parlour songs that are played throughout the set, but to be honest I am not so familiar with them. It’s really the Kaleidoscope songs that make more of an impact on me and “Dive Into Yesterday” and “Flight From Ashiya” are both really special. After a superb version of “A Dream of Julie” Peter says "I wish you'd all been around at the time, you might have bought the record and made it a hit!" Peter Daltrey is also busy with various solo projects, artwork and books which you can check out at the comprehensive Chelsea Records site here. I just hope he’s not too busy to prevent us from seeing more of Kaleidoscope in the near future.

The Misunderstood (The Loons & Glenn Ross Campbell) - Photo by Retro Man Blog
Next up, The Loons reappeared as The Misunderstood with the band’s original pedal steel guitarist Glenn Ross Campbell. You could sense that Mike was as thrilled to be on stage as we were to be witnessing it. After all, in 2004 he released a compilation of previously unreleased Misunderstood tracks called "Lost Acetates 1965-1966" on his Ugly Things record label and has written exhaustively on the band’s history over various issues of Ugly Things magazine. Campbell’s unique pedal steel guitar swooped and screamed like a Stuka dive bomber, a full-on Blitzkrieg of mind (and ear) bending sounds, particularly on the classic “Children of The Sun” which was quite phenomenal. “I Can Take You To The Sun” was another highlight as was a storming version of "My Mind".

The Misunderstood - Photo by Retro Man Blog
The band’s legacy and influence has certainly outstripped their somewhat meagre recorded output, so the set was unfortunately quite short, but the intensity of the performance more than made up for the brevity. They play a Loons track “Red Dissolving Ray of Light” from the album of the same name on which Campbell played his pedal steel, and I’m guessing that’s where the idea of a further collaboration was formulated. For the well-deserved encore the band are then joined on stage by another original Misunderstood member, guitarist Tony Hill and also Ray Own, Glenn Ross Campbell’s band-mate from Juicy Lucy who he formed on leaving The Misunderstood, and they treat us to another blistering take of their version of "Who Do You Love?" It was a triumph and the crowd lapped it up, so it seemed did Mike Stax, beaming brightly with the look of a true music fan living out the dream of sharing a stage with their musical heroes.   

The Misunderstood - Photo by Retro Man Blog
The night was far from over and the action moved to the smaller adjacent venue for some more drinking and dancing to some excellent Psych and Soul sounds from the guest DJs and the Le Beat Bespoké organizer Rob Bailey. Two of The Meyer Dancers took the stage for a couple of eye-catching Go-Go routines and then it was back to the dancing…and the drinking…!

The Meyer Dancers - Photo by Retro Man Blog
I’d really recommend you joining the New Untouchables network, you can sign up to their mailing list here for news on their many and varied gigs, club nights and happenings. For more photos of the afternoon at Le Beat Bespoke please visit the Retro Man Blog Facebook page and if you are not already following hit “Like” and “Get Notifications” for access to the exclusive Photo Album.

Beat Bespoké Organizer Rob Bailey thanks the crowd - Photo by Retro Man Blog
More videos can be found at the Retro Man Blog YouTube channel. With thanks to Rob Bailey. All photos and videos copyright Retro Man Blog 2015. Part 2 of the feature will follow soon...

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