Friday 30 October 2015

The Fallen Leaves - New 7" Vinyl Single "Out In a Forest" Out Now on Market Square Recordings

The Fallen Leaves - Out In A Forest b/w The Inside Of A Chair.

Out In A Forest b/w The Inside Of A Chair, released on Paul Messis' Market Square Recordings, is the group's second 7" vinyl single and features two sides of vitriolic power based indie-pop from London's greatest celebrators of underachievement, The Fallen Leaves. Side A 'Out In A Forest' is rooted in a four-chord, power-pop tradition with trembling guitars, weaving bass and a consistent drum beat holding it all together, whilst Rob Green's lead vocal melodically croons on top. It resembles early Indie shambolic pop of the early 80s, think of those early Creation/Living Room bands like The Jasmine Minks, The June Brides and The McTells vis-a-vis The Who's power-pop influence, there is also a bit of a "Postcard Records" feel with this single too. The Flip side, 'The Inside Of A Chair' is a short but bittersweet instrumental highlighting Rob Symmons fantastic and shambolic guitar work. This track ties very closely to his work in the pioneering punk band Subway Sect and from this song alone, you can hear his influence upon that group.

The Fallen Leaves photographed at the 12 Bar Club, Denmark Street by Paul Slattery
The 45 is limited to 300 copies and comes housed in a Market Square company sleeve and features a hand-numbered postcard. If you order from the Market Square Bandcamp page your purchase includes unlimited streaming of The Fallen Leaves - Out In A Forest b/w The Inside Of A Chair via the free Bandcamp app, plus a high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more. The single is also being distributed by the fantastic State Records or you can order the single directly from Market Square Recordings here and for more news on future releases then please check out the Market Square Blog here. Here's a taster...

The Suburban Homes are having another E.P released in November, the aptly titled "Second E.P." will be released on In The Red and will be limited to 500 copies. The band are also working on a 12" single/mini album which will be out on Total Punk sometime in 2016. The Higher State have just completed their fifth full-length LP 'VOLUME 27', this is going to be out on 13 O'Clock Records in March/April 2016. NEXT YEAR, there are already plans afoot to release some great 45s on Market Square including 45s hopefully for Creation FactorySarah Bethe NelsonReal Numbers, Higher State & Paul Messis.

The Fallen Leaves photographed at the 12 Bar Club, Denmark Street by Paul Slattery
For more news on The Fallen Leaves upcoming live dates please check out their web-site here. Also, don't forget our Retrosonic Podcast special editions with The Fallen Leaves where Rob Symmons and Rob Green take us on their journey from the very early stirrings of the London Punk Rock scene with Vic Godard & Subway Sect. The two episodes are generously sound-tracked with lots of Fallen Leaves songs, and we also discuss and play some of the band's favourite tracks and influences from Ramones, Trini Lopez, Buff Medways, The Who, Roxy Music, Dr. Feelgood, John's Children. Along the way we will meet some of the characters the band have rubbed shoulders with over the years including Vic Godard, Billy Childish, Bernie Rhodes, Joe Strummer, Malcolm McLaren, Paul Cook, Pete Townshend and more...So slip on your smoking jacket, pour yourself a cup of tea, get yourself comfortable on your chaise longue and listen to some fine Punk Rock for Gentlemen!

Saturday 24 October 2015

The Duke Spirit at Wilton's Music Hall, October 22nd

The Duke Spirit at Wilton's Music Hall - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog 2015
Rolling Stone magazine described The Duke Spirit as “glamorous and sinister”, something that could also be said about Wilton’s Music Hall. There is a slightly spooky and otherworldly feel to the recently renovated and re-opened building with it’s exposed brickwork, labyrinth of corridors, small half hidden rooms and false stairways leading to nowhere but the ceiling. Spooky and otherworldly could also be used to describe The Duke Spirit so it seemed like a perfect choice of venue. Even more so as I remember reading an interview with the band and being really impressed by their concern and opposition to so many of London's great venues being destroyed by property developers so it was nice that they had chosen Wilton’s, a rare example of a venue being put back on the map rather than obliterated from it. The band also mentioned their distaste at “awful, beer sponsored TV studio style places” and my respect for The Duke Spirit went up a few notches. Tonight was my first time to see inside this historic East London venue which first opened as a Music Hall here on Graces Alley in the back room of an Ale House way back in 1839, and I was really pleased to discover such a superb job had been carried out to try and restore Wilton’s to its former glory. 

The Duke Spirit - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog 2015
So, The Duke Spirit take to the impressive two level stage at Wilton’s standing underneath a huge arched ceiling covered with beautiful carvings and plasterwork and looked over by a balcony on which you can peer down on proceedings with uninterrupted sight lines. Drummer Olly Betts is on the top level along with a keyboard player and a new bassist and then below them singer Leila Moss is flanked by guitarists Luke Ford and Toby Butler. It’s hard to believe that it is eleven years since I first saw The Duke Spirit play live, a thought that suddenly hit me as they slammed straight into “Lassoo”, one of my favourite tracks from their superb second album “Neptune”. The band are playing dates to promote their forthcoming album “Kin” which is due for release very soon and tonight they play some brand new tracks from the record including the single "Blue and Yellow Light" which was on sale as a limited edition 7" single in, yes you guessed it, two versions with blue and yellow sleeves. They also played "Sonar" and "Here Comes The Vapour", these new songs are slower paced, atmospheric and darker and will probably need a few listens to get into. 

The Duke Spirit - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog 2015
Unfortunately, and somewhat begrudgingly I have to admit that I thought the sound at Wilton’s didn’t help as it was a bit muffled, nothing too drastic but it slightly dampened the band’s songs on occasion. However, rather like those other beautiful and historic venues Bush Hall and Union Chapel, I don’t suppose when they originally planned the acoustics they took into consideration that full-on Rock ‘n’ Roll bands would be playing gigs there sometime in the future. A superb "The Step and The Walk" was followed by a stunning version of "Dog Roses" with Liela playing some great harmonica that brought to mind Ennio Morricone's haunting Spaghetti Western movie soundtracks. There is a slightly sinister undercurrent to a lot of The Duke Spirit's songs which are often based on a repetitive tribal drum beat with layers of sound built up around it. There is not much place for guitar solos in Duke Spirit songs; instead there is a glacial wall of sound where feedback and effects combine to provide humming and buzzing harmonies. I suppose the early Jesus & Mary Chain or even Curve spring to mind, the latter in particular on the new single, but one of the best things about The Duke Spirit is they don't fit easily into any particular category or musical genre.

The Duke Spirit - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog 2015
I must admit I like it when the band cut loose and rock out as they do tonight on a storming "Into The Fold" and "Everybody's Under Your Spell" which flies past with a Punky energy. Liela prowls the stage swinging the microphone stand high above her head, one minute she is leaning into the crowd, foot on the monitors shaking her blonde hair and the next she is dancing around Luke screaming "Yeah!" off mic as he spins out a howl of a feedback laden riff. The end comes way too soon with a brilliantly scathing "Cuts Across The Land". Tonight’s set was very short, clocking in at an hour after the encores had all finished which was a bit of a shame as the band were just building up a head of steam and it was a sudden jolt back to reality when the house lights came on and you realised it was all over. I'm not sure if there is a strict curfew on live music at Wilton’s but I think having such a unique setting (and with another London date already booked) they could have done without the support act and used tonight as a new album "showcase", maybe played it in its entirety, or something a bit special like that. Apart from a quick "It’s good to be back", "thanks for coming tonight" and a nod to the venue, there is little in the way of between song banter throughout the night. But frankly, this kind of suits the band; you want them to be a little bit mysterious. Long may The Duke Spirit continue to be mysterious, glamorous and maybe just a little bit sinister!

The Duke Spirit - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog 2015
While it makes a refreshing change to see the positive success story of Wilton’s Music Hall in action, there is still no getting away from the fact that the owners and trustees will have to raise around £250,000 per year through public donations and fund-raising to keep it up and running. So they really deserve a bit of support even if you can just pop in for a few beers in the beautiful Mahogany Bar every now and then, it will all help. Check out their web-site here for more information.

The Duke Spirit - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog 2015
For news on The Duke Spirit tour dates and the date for the album release please check out their official web-site. For more photos of the Duke Spirit at Wilton’s Music Hall please head on over to the Retro Man Blog Facebook page and hit “Like”, if you are not already following, for access to the photo album. Videos from the show can be seen at the Retro Man Blog YouTube channel here.

Thursday 22 October 2015

Graham Day: Exclusive Interview with The ex-Prisoners, Solarflares & Gaolers Frontman about his latest Project...The Senior Service

In our Retrosonic Podcast special with The Forefathers, Graham Day mentioned that he had always wanted to record an instrumental album. When The Prisoners split Allan Crockford and James Taylor went on to form The James Taylor Quartet, (“a kind of Punked-up Booker T” according to Allan), leaving a rueful Graham to reflect. “I remember being quite jealous at the time, I thought the James Taylor Quartet were brilliant at the start. I love instrumentals; I always wanted to be in an instrumental band so I didn't have to sing”.

In the Podcast Graham also expressed, not only an admiration for the work of well known names such as John Barry and Ennio Morricone, but also for composers like Barry Gray (“Thunderbirds”) and Lalo Schifrin (“Bullit”). In fact The Prisoners even tackled Gray’s “Joe 90” theme tune. Throughout his career, in particular with The Prisoners, The SolarFlares and The Gaolers, Graham had written and recorded many notable instrumentals such as “Sitar Spangled Banner”, “Night of The Nazgul”, “Girl In A Briefcase”, “Lunar Girl” and “Apollo a Go-Go”. Ian from Damaged Goods Records even picked out “South Avenue” from The Gaolers “Soundtrack To The Daily Grind” album as one of his favourite songs in our Damaged Goods Retrosonic Podcast special. 

So, now we have the next chapter in Graham’s musical career and the fulfilment of that long held ambition. The Senior Service.

Jonathan P. Barker - The Hammond Organ & The Piano
Q: Please tell us about the other members of The Senior Service, their musical background and how you got together for this new project.

GD: Jon Barker on Hammond. Jon was in the Daggermen, who used to support the Prisoners a lot in the mid 80s. He played bass in the Buff Medways and in the Gaolers. So, a bass player by trade, and a damned good songwriter, but he’s always fancied playing the Hammond so he bought one and decided to form an instrumental band. Darryl Hartley. Most people won’t have heard much from Darryl but he’s been in several low-key bands over the years. Darryl is a guitarist normally, but has moved to the bass for this outfit. He also brings a fantastic songwriting talent to the mix. Wolf Howard has played drums in the Daggermen, Prime Movers, SolarFlares, The Buff Medways and all of Billy Childish’s bands since then, and is also in the Forefathers. The band is Jon’s fault. He bought the Hammond and wanted a band to fit around it so asked us all to join in. The original idea was just to muck about at Jon’s house but it quickly turned into a monster and has produced some of the best material we’ve ever written between us.

Graham N. Day - The Guitar
Q: You have a new single “Depth Charge” coming out in January on Damaged Good Records and an album to follow, what is the album title and when is it due to be released?

GD: I don’t think we’ve got a title for the album yet! It’s bad enough trying to come up with a band name (which we’ve changed 3 times already) or a song title…. We’ve only got 2 songs left to record then it’ll be in the lap of the production Gods as to when it comes out. I would imagine early Spring.

Q: Are the songs on the album all original or will it feature any cover versions? Are there any particular tunes that you would like to have a go at covering?

GD: All the songs are original (or as original as they can be given the limited amount of notes and combinations thereof that already exist). Let’s say, to our knowledge they are all original. With 3 songwriters in the band there’s no room or desire to record any covers, what’s the point?

Q: Are the original songs all new and written specifically for the Senior Service or are they ideas that you have had kicking around for a while that maybe didn’t fit in with previous line-ups?

GD: I think Darryl’s and Jon’s are new. I’ve got six tracks on the album (if “Depth Charge” gets on it), two of which I wrote a few years ago for an intended Gaolers album, but the others are brand new.

Q: Did your interest in cinematic instrumentals first come from a love of movies or was it from hearing the music as a separate entity?

GD: It’s definitely the music I love as a separate thing. For instance the album “No Strings Attached” by Barry Gray is one of my favourite albums, but I’m not particularly into puppets!!

Darryl R. Hartley - The Bass
Q: Tell us some of your favourite movie scores and composers?

GD: My favourite composers are John Barry and Ennio Morricone, but I’ve always loved the bit in a 60s film where they walk into a club and an anonymous band is playing the most groovy tune ever, like “30-60-90” in “Get Carter”. That’s what I’ve always wanted to do, just be in a faceless band in a party scene. I love “Adagio for Strings” in “Platoon” as well but that kind of genius is a bit ambitious for my limited talents.

Q: Have you ever fancied writing a score to a “real” movie such as The Len Price 3 did recently for “Pubmonkey”? Have any opportunities arisen for this over the years?

GD: No, not really. My thing is more along the lines of catchy theme tunes rather than full on orchestral scores. One day when I’ve got some time on my hands I’d like to have a go at writing more orchestral stuff but I’m really not into samples and synths and don’t have an orchestra to hand so it might be a bit tricky…

Q: You’ve mentioned you were influenced by composers such as Barry Gray who wrote some classic TV themes such as “Joe 90” and “Thunderbirds”. What was it about these that captured your imagination?

GD: I love a lot of 60s theme tunes. There’s something about that catchy hook squeezed into a couple of minutes of sheer pointless pleasure, you can’t beat it. The thing is, singing in a band has a lot of drawbacks. For one you never know if it’s going to work. You can’t just plug it in or hit it like the other instruments. Sometimes, particularly if you’re on tour it gets a bit croaky, or you can’t hear it ‘cos the monitors are shit, or if I get run down or have a cold it might go completely. Also, particularly as you get older it becomes a massive physical effort to sing. Having played drums, bass and guitar in different bands over the years I can say categorically that singing is by far the most exhausting. A couple of times on tour with the Gaolers in packed small clubs, boiling hot with stage lights burning your face off I’ve felt like I was close to having a heart attack. Once I had to come off stage and go outside and lay on the pavement just to get my breath, stop the room spinning and cool off. The other thing is you have to write lyrics, and that’s something I really struggle with. Apart from the last Gaolers album where I hit a streak of funny stories, what the hell are you supposed to sing about? So I’m much happier writing and playing instrumentals; they mean nothing, they can be whatever you want them to be and the most difficult thing to write is the poxy title of the thing.

Wolf D. Howard - The Drums
Q: I must admit to having my own play-list compilation of all your instrumentals and it works really well as an “album” on its own. Was there ever an option to release an official “instrumental only” anthology from your various line-ups?

GD: Yes I’ve wanted to do an instrumental compilation for years. Damaged Goods wanted to do it a few years ago, I put the tracklist together but the problem was most of the Prisoners and SolarFlares tracks are owned by Big-Beat. They were up for licensing them but it was too much money for Damaged Good to be viable. I did consider re-recording them but decided there was no point.

Q: I know you said that there were some songs that didn’t work live with The Forefathers because you didn’t have the organ, so will you be re-visiting any of the back catalogue? What can the audience expect at a Senior Service live show?

GD: Good question. We are a tiny bit concerned that an all instrumental set might be a bit boring for the audience and were considering chucking a few songs into the set live. But we’d rather stick to our guns, be ourselves and stick to instrumentals; the audience will know what to expect and can make their own words up if they want to sing along. We’ll keep the set relatively short...We haven’t really worked out a live set yet, but there are at least 3 tracks on the album that won’t work live. I think there may be a couple of Prisoners instrumentals up for discussion, as well as a few covers, but let’s wait and see...

We are extremely pleased to announce that the next Retro Man Blog Night at The Half Moon in Putney will in fact be the launch party for The Senior Service's debut single "Depth Charge" on Saturday January 30th. This will be in conjunction with Damaged Goods Records and also on the bill will be very special guests French Boutik and Of Arrowe Hill. Please keep a check on The Senior Service official Facebook page, the Damaged Goods Records web-site or, of course here on the Retro Man Blog, and we will announce details of tickets as soon as possible.

Tuesday 20 October 2015

Retro Man Blog Night at The Half Moon Putney September 25th with The Len Price 3, Les Kitschenette's & The Galileo 7

I'd like to say a big "Thank you!" to all who came along to the last Retro Man Blog Night at The Half Moon Putney on September 25th, it was a great turn-out and very much appreciated. I'm sure you'll agree that all three bands - The Galileo 7, Les Kitschenette's and The Len Price 3 were on top form, there just seems to be something about The Half Moon that brings out the best in all who play there. I hope you liked the State Records stall too. Here are some exclusive Paul Slattery photos of the evening...Paul has two books published "The Smiths: The Early Years" and "Oasis: A Year On The Road" both available from Amazon...and all good book shops!

The Galileo 7 - Photo by Paul Slattery
The Galileo 7 - Photo by Paul Slattery
Les Kitschenette's - Photo by Paul Slattery
The Galileo 7 - Photo by Paul Slattery
The Galileo 7 - Photo by Paul Slattery
The Galileo 7 - Photo by Paul Slattery
The Len Price 3 - Photo by Paul Slattery
The Len Price 3 - Photo by Paul Slattery
The Len Price 3 - Photo by Paul Slattery
The Len Price 3 - Photo by Paul Slattery
The Len Price 3 - Photo by Paul Slattery
Thanks to all the bands and the staff at The Half Moon. Also thanks to Paul Slattery for the excellent photos. Great quality videos of the full sets from all three bands can be found on Steven Tagg-Randall's "London Archivist" YouTube channel which you can also follow on Facebook. For more photos please head on over to the Retro Man Blog Facebook page and, if you are not already following, hit "Like" for access to the Photo Album.

Retro Man Blog Night at The Half Moon Putney - Photo by Paul Slattery
We are extremely pleased to announce that the next Retro Man Blog Night at The Half Moon in Putney will in fact be the launch party for The Senior Service's debut single "Depth Charge" on Saturday January 30th. This will be in conjunction with Damaged Goods Records and also on the bill will be very special guests French Boutik and Of Arrowe Hill. Please keep a check on The Senior Service official Facebook page, the Damaged Goods Records web-site or, of course here on the Retro Man Blog, and we will announce details of tickets as soon as possible.

Sunday 18 October 2015

Dirt Royal - New Single "Dr Weekend (Mr Week)" - Out Now!

Brighton based band Dirt Royal have just released their brand new single "Dr Weekend (Mr Week)" on Sick Boy Records. For a young band they do somewhat surprisingly take me back to my own "youth" of the late Seventies and early-Eighties and the halcyon age of seeing those great New Wave and 2-Tone bands on Top of The Pops. In fact "Dr Weekend" really reminds me of The Chords, always my favourite amongst those "Mod Revival" bands. There are hints of The Clash and The Jam in Dirt Royal but also a touch of good old fashioned jangling Rickenbacker Power Pop too and they have even been known to tackle a bit of Ska. Come to think of it, lyrically they cover a lot of ground that The Specials did so well - teenage boredom, being broke, early pregnancies, the 9-5 hum drum world of being "factory fodder" and, as in the new single, living for the weekend to get smashed, a chance to let yourself go, only to get stuck in that same cycle again come Monday morning. 

I guess there is a touch of The Libertines about Dirt Royal, there's no doubting that bassist and vocalist Charlie does bear a passing resemblance to Pete Doherty, and whenever I have seen them play live there is that sort of chemistry between him and guitarist and co-vocalist Leon that exists with Doherty and Carl Barat – although I hope that resemblance doesn’t extend quite as far as one of them robbing the other’s flat! The B-Side "It Was You" has become one my favourite Dirt Royal tracks, it has some superb Shangri-La's style melodies, allied to some punchy guitars, you know when the Ramones used to tackle those great classic Rock 'n' Roll tracks like "Let's Dance" and "Do You Wanna Dance?". There are two bonus tracks, "The Man Who Was King" is a full throttle speedy Punk Rock blast and they slow things down for an acoustic driven "It's Not All About You".

Dirt Royal are out on tour so please check out their official web-site for more details information. You can order the new 7" vinyl single direct from Recordstore at their site here.

Tuesday 13 October 2015

Jah Wobble & The Invaders of The Heart at The Half Moon Putney, Saturday October 10th

Jah Wobble's Invaders of The Heart at the Half Moon Putney
The New Oxford Dictionary of English should be done with it and just go ahead and amend their definition of "eclectic" to simply read – "Jah Wobble". It's the first word that pops into my head whenever I think of the legendary bassist and after witnessing a superb two hour set here at the Half Moon in Putney, there's no reason to think otherwise. We are taken on a mind-bending journey that cherry picks from a bewildering array of styles and genres that he has tackled throughout his career. Tonight's set is loosely based around Wobble's latest release "Redux - Anthology 1978-2015" a beautifully packaged 6 CD box set released by Cherry Red Records. I say loosely based as it would take a damn sight longer than a two hour set to completely cover all aspects of his music. For example, we don't get any Chinese Opera or Japanese Dub tonight - but what's a couple of skipped genres amongst friends? He kicks off proceedings with "Socialist" from Public Image Ltd's "Metal Box" which goes to show just how ahead of the game PiL were, as the Krautrock inspired, Drum'n'Bass precursor thunders around the Half Moon. We then get a run through of most of his new 12" vinyl “Cover Versions” album which includes the Dave Brubeck Quartet's Jazz standard "Take Five" and Harry J Allstars’ Ska classic "Liquidator". In a strange way these are surprising choices mainly due to their familiarity, I suppose it’s surprising because we are always so busy looking for the obscure. 

Jah Wobble at the Half Moon Putney
Then we get treated to Jazzy versions of some much loved theme tunes, "Midnight Cowboy", "Get Carter" and "The Sweeney" which ends with Jah telling us, "You're Nicked!". Renowned as a pioneer of World Music we then get a cross section of genre busting songs which take us on a trip across the globe. It’s a cross continental journey with its starting point of course firmly bas(s)ed in Jamaica with that heavy Dub sound. We then travel to the heart of Spaghetti Western land as evident in "New Mexican Dub" and then there are the plaintive, atmospheric Arabic strains of "Java" and "Invaders Of The Heart". Not forgetting the “hits” – “Visions Of You” and “Becoming More Like God” which are personal highlights. Both have Wobble on lead vocals and are swirling with North African, Indian and Far Eastern infused sounds. But as he has proven with his recent collaborations with Keith Levene, he's also not afraid to stay at home to revisit and shake up the past. So, tonight we get a "sophisticated" take on the classic "Public Image" which I would like to hear a recorded version of as it worked so well.

Jah Wobble's Invaders of The Heart at the Half Moon Putney
I have to say the current Invaders of The Heart band he has assembled is something special, you can hardly call them a backing band as Wobble gives them free rein to adequately show off their quite considerable  talents. Jamie Crossley is half hidden behind a computer screen and despite Wobble claiming he "didn't quite know what Jamie does" he did provide a nice undercurrent of samples and atmospheric sounds that didn't detract from what was basically a pretty stripped down outfit. Martin Chung manages to wring some simply mind-blowing sounds from his fluorescent blue Ibanez guitar; he seems to come in for a lot of good natured ribbing from Jah throughout the show, in fact only keyboard player George King seems to escape the Bassist's banter. George switched effortlessly between superb Jazz piano to some great Hammond organ sounds. But it's drummer Marc Leyton-Bennett who almost steals the show with a stunning display behind the kit. Wobble's affectionate put-downs ("I resent them their youth...!") and teasing ("Marc is the brawn and Jamie is the brains...") can't hide the fact that he seems genuinely chuffed to have the band around him. 

Jah Wobble's Invaders of The Heart at the Half Moon Putney
He chats to them as much as to us in the crowd "This is from the Jah Wobble early period Chungy..." and "This is from the Jah Wobble 80's period, Marc you would have looked good back then, in make up and eye-liner". Then he deadpans "Oh no, I'm referring to myself in the third person now..!" The one-liners come thick and fast, he turns to his guitarist "The problem with the music business Chungy is there are too many name-droppers.” Then he turns to us. “Anyway, here's a track I wrote with Holger and Jaki from Can...!" At one point all the banter does back-fire on him though, there’s a bit of an embarrassing moment when he is bigging up the bass as an instrument. "You see, the bass is the Lion of the Jungle, whereas the guitar is more of your meerkat". The bass decided not to work. Cue a bit of an awkward shuffle, a change of instrument and a sly grin from the meerkat in the band! Then it is back to business. The sound man is asked to do a bit of live mixing and then implored to turn the bass up until it hurts. "You have your insurance, don't come crying to me afterwards". The set draws to a close with “Poptones” closely followed by a pounding, extended version of "Fodderstompf" and we all join in singing along, "We Only Wanted To Be Loved..." Wobble coerces Chungy into joining him in an impressive aerobics routine which included star jumps, marching on the spot and finally he machine guns the band and crowd with his bass. There was no encore, but to top that, even with this band, would have been nigh on impossible.

Jah Wobble at the Half Moon Putney
For more information on upcoming tour dates and all the latest news please check out the Jah Wobble official web-site or Facebook page. The "Redux - Anthology 1978-2015" box set is available to buy from Cherry Red Records here. For more photos of the gig please head on over to the Retro Man Blog Facebook page and hit “Like” if you are not already following.

Jah Wobble's Invaders of The Heart at the Half Moon Putney

Tuesday 6 October 2015

Nina Persson & Martin Hederos at Ystad Teater, Sweden, Thursday September 18th

Nina Persson & Martin Hederos at Ystad Teatern
It’s a treat to be here in the Ystad Teater and not just because it was a nice bonus to be able to tick off another "Wallander" filming location. Dating back to 1894 the theatre is ornate but not too over the top and its capacity of just around 350 people exudes a warm and intimate feel, perfect for tonight’s performance. The concept of the show is somewhat similar to Sparks superb stripped-back “Two Hands, One Mouth” tour, with just Nina Persson singing accompanied by Martin Hederos (The Soundtrack of Our Lives, Tonbruket, Nymphet Noodlers etc.) on keyboards. The pair are introduced by genial theatre manager Thomas Lantz, who also runs the town’s prestigious yearly Ystad Jazz festival. Nina and Martin take to the stage which is set with heavy black drapes and a back-drop featuring a forest scene with warm candlelight illuminating the darkness with an intimacy that really suits the music to follow. At first I am a bit concerned about Nina’s voice as she whispers an introduction and as I don’t speak Swedish I can’t figure out if she is suffering with a cold or sore throat. Martin hits the keys of the grand piano, there is a brief false start and I really hope Nina is OK to sing tonight. But when they get started with “Heavy Metal", a beautiful ballad taken from Nina’s new solo album “Animal Heart” my early worries about her voice are soon dispelled. Despite a noticeable huskiness at first, she then goes on to put in a quite remarkable performance, proving that she has grown into one of the best female vocalists around today. Martin then crosses the stage to take his place at what I guess is a Pump organ or a large harmonium, its church organ like sound highlight the gospel roots of Connie Converse's achingly beautiful "How Sad, How Lovely". 

Nina Persson & Martin Hederos at Ystad Teatern
Next up is "Lead Me Into The Night" from my favourite Cardigans album "Long Gone Before Daylight". I always felt that this album was a turning point for the band as it was a marked progression from the slightly twee Indie Pop of "First Band on The Moon" and the rawer "Gran Turismo" to a warmer, more orchestral sound. Unfortunately, my lack of Swedish language skills means that I can't follow the between song chat but judging by the polite laughter around me people seem to be enjoying the interaction very much. However, despite being in the dark as far as her comments are concerned, I certainly warm to Nina's delightful smile which breaks out at the end of each song as the applause rings out. Martin plays some quite breath-taking piano throughout the set tonight. It’s more of an embellished style than the Erik Satie minimalism of the similar acoustic set-up with his ex-Nymphet Noodlers band-mate Mattias Hellberg. The first set draws heavily on an eclectic selection of cover versions including Rufus Wainwright's "Going To a Town" with its biting refrain "I'm so tired of America…" Martin is then on the move again, crossing the stage to take his place at the electric organ he stabs out some harsh ringing notes over a sinister humming undercurrent. This evolves into a version of Robert Wyatt's "Free Will and Testament" highlighting his more Avant Garde side which becomes even more apparent on the surprising choice of Sparks “Angst In My Pants”. Surprising, mainly as they didn’t go for one of the Mael brothers more orchestral numbers but instead plumped for the discordant, clattering drum machine driven original "Angst In My Pants". Songs by Leonard Cohen and Kate & Anna McGarrigle follow and the first set draws to a close with "The Crowning" from Nina's side project A Camp with its "We're gonna party like its 1699..." refrain. 

Nina Persson at Ystad Teatern
The second set starts off with a familiar piano motif from Martin, it's "Tonight" a song he composed for The Soundtrack of Our Lives and whereas over the years he had the six foot something kaftan clad and bearded Ebbot Lundberg standing there next to him singing it, tonight it's the delicate form of Nina perched on a stool. It really sends a shiver down the spine to hear her sing such a beautiful song and I was deeply honoured to get a birthday dedication, a moment that will live long in the memory! Yet more unusual covers are tackled including "Real Life" by Joan As Policewoman, a great Bluesy "Old Fashioned Morphine" and a superb duet of "Sand" with Nina as Nancy Sinatra and Martin chipping in on the Lee Hazlewood lines. "Don’t Blame Your Daughter (Diamonds)" from The Cardigans last album "Super Extra Gravity" is another stunning jewel in the set, I love this track and to hear it performed tonight was really something special. Martin then gets a violin and plays it like a guitar, picking out the slow ominous riff to PJ Harvey's "Teclo". A nice Bossa Nova sung in Swedish segues into The Cardigans “Lovefool” which is probably the most recognisable moment of the night and we also get treated to "Junk of The Hearts" and "You're The Storm". However, the lack of any of the other more familiar “hits” was never an issue tonight, the choice of material was spot on. It was illuminating that the self-penned numbers stood out as personal highlights even amongst tracks by such song-writing luminaries as Wyatt and Cohen. It makes me think that Nina and The Cardigans deserve a far more serious appreciation and recognition of their talents in the U.K. As the encore ends the audience rise to their feet, Thomas appears on stage and presents the duo with large floral bouquets and Nina and Martin bask in a warm, enthusiastic and well deserved standing ovation. 

Nina Persson & Martin Hederos at Ystad Teatern
Nina Persson has been busy playing some solo shows dates in Sweden to promote “Animal Heart” with a backing band that includes Ian, Kalle and Fredrik of The Soundtrack of Our Lives. She has even played a couple of festival shows with The Cardigans, although there still doesn’t seem to be much news on a more permanent reunion just yet. Martin is busy with Tonbruket and many and varied collaborations as usual. You can read a review of Martin's gig with Ane Brun and Tonbruket at the Kentish Town Forum in London here. Check out Retrosonic Podcast for our interview “specials” with Ebbot, Ian, Fredrik and Mattias from The Soundtrack of Our Lives and other episodes which feature various Swedish bands and TSOOL related acts. With sincere thanks to Thomas, Martin and Nina. For more photos of the evening please head on over to the Retro Man Blog Facebook page and hit “Like”, if you are not already following, to access the photo album.