Saturday 29 April 2023

Shonen Knife & The Go-Go Cult - Photos and Videos from Reading Sub89, April 13th

It's hard to believe that it's 30 years since I first saw Shonen Knife play live, that was at the Reading Festival in 1992 when the band were special guests of headliners Nirvana on what turned out to be a memorable event and certainly one of the best festival line-ups ever I've ever seen. It's even harder to believe that tonight's show at Sub89 in Reading is part of their COVID-postponed 40th Anniversary tour, although the band are actually 42 years old, forming in Japan's second city Osaka in 1981. The set-list spanned the band's long career from all the familiar classics such as "Twist Barbie" and "Riding On The Rocket" to two tracks from their excellent new album "Our Best Place". Of course, it's their gleeful lyrical obsession with food on songs such as "Wasabi" and "Jelly Bean Attack" that always raises a smile and you find yourself shouting out the words to "Banana Chips" at the top of your voice without a care in the world. I think I mentioned last time I saw them that it was going to be tough to follow the previous line-up after bassist Ritsuko and drummer Emi left - but getting back co-founder Atsuko on bass was a stroke of genius. Atsuko, the sister of vocalist and guitarist Naoko was actually the drummer when I first saw them in '92 but she excels up front, head banging and shaking her hair next to her sister and taking lead vocals on a few songs including the superb "I Am A Cat". 

Naoko has barely changed over the years, she looks and sounds amazing, pointing her guitar out over the crowd, blasting out those immediately catchy riffs. Then there is Risa on drums, a blur of flailing limbs and hair behind her kit, she's an immensely powerful drummer but still manages a huge smile on her face throughout the show. When you turn on the news and see how bleak things seem to be at the moment, you can always guarantee that Shonen Knife will cheer you up and put a smile on your face, and that's one reason why I would never miss a show when they are in town. For more information on Shonen Knife, please check out their official Facebook page here. You can see more videos from the show by subscribing to the Retro Man Blog YouTube channel here.

Special mention must go to the local support band The Go-Go Cult, who I'd seen once before supporting The Fuzztones in London and their swampy, voodoo-infused dark Blues went down really well with the crowd. You can investigate them further at their Facebook page here.

Subscribe to Retro Man Blog's YouTube channel here for more videos from the show. 

Tuesday 18 April 2023

His Lordship, Bruno & The Outrageous Methods of Presentation, US, Hot Stamp The Lafayette Kings Cross 13/4/2023 by David Leach

There are some things you do sometimes online and immediately regret. Opening that email from a prince from a faraway land offering to stick a million in your bank account is one – opening Facebook sponsored adverts for bands that an algorithm has decided 'you might like' is another. So, when a sponsored post from His Lordship made its way into my Facebook feed, my initial thought was to scroll past it but - hold on a second – this was a well put together advert with a bit of studio footage from their recent single and a list of tour dates. So, after a bit of digging in iTunes, I decided that I quite liked the sound of these guys and bought a ticket; even better, I persuaded a mate to come along. Onto the night itself, this was my first visit to the Lafayette in King’s Cross, a venue that I am led to believe is a converted warehouse. Whoever designed it as a music venue has done an amazing job making it a very welcome addition to the small/medium-sized London venues. A lit arch over the stage reminds you a little of the Forum/Town and Country club in Kentish town, and the upper balcony gives you an air of the old set of the TV show The Tube, plus there is a nice high stage which gives you a good view from everywhere. 

The first band onstage were Hot Stamp. They were a young five-piece band, and a little bit of research leads me (I hope correctly) to believe that this is the brainchild of two sisters called Jasmine and Poppy, one of whom plays guitar and the other is the singer. I seem to recall them mentioning a song one of them wrote in their set so I’m guessing they write the band’s material too. I really enjoyed their set; sound wise they were somewhere between 70's disco, Patti Smith and Blondie, but it felt like a modern take on it all rather than being at all a pastiche.  I wasn’t planning to write this review of tonight’s show so I’m afraid that there are no song titles; instead, I let the whole thing wash over me and style wise they looked fabulous as if they would be equally at home on stage in the late 70's, at CBGBs or on stage on a sunny afternoon at this summer’s Glastonbury. I didn’t see much of the next band as I went upstairs for a drink, but they were a young band from Finland called US. Judging by their last two tracks that I did get to see, they were playing fast Garage Rock, the last being a cover of "Say Mama", and were getting a great reaction from the audience. 

Bruno and The Outrageous Methods of Presentation were a band I’d been particularly interested in seeing as they were recently on the same bill as the fabulous Fallen Leaves, who had been complimentary about them – itself an endorsement.  They arrived on stage to a spoken monologue, which I can only describe as a freeform description of what we were about to hear; Art Rock got a mention. Bruno himself is a tall, youthful bundle of excess energy, strutting around between songs, strumming and talking about things I cannot completely make out then bursting into life with his band playing sharp, Garage Punk Rock/Pop (there is a bit of everything) with one song about 'the TV and the radio' being particularly catchy. The spiky jagged edges of Bruno's performance are tempered by the assembling of a very accomplished band around him, one of whom I recognize as Delia Sparrow on bass who also plays drums currently in the Dagger Debs. The sound got a bit heavier towards the end of their set, and the audience around me were really getting into it – I’m pretty sure I even saw some headbanging. I would recommend seeing them – if this is Art Rock, I’m all for it. 

Finally, onto His Lordship. For some reason I had it in my head that they were from the US, so when front man James Walbourne announced a song in a London accent, I was a little taken aback. I think that I’d made this lazy assumption as they are clearly influenced by 50's rock pioneers such as Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis when hearing wonderfully claustrophobic speedball rock and roll tunes (what dragged me here in truth) like "I Live In The City" and "I Am In Amsterdam". These and other songs played live tonight sounded even better than the recorded versions, with the longer songs, like the atmospheric "The Repenter" given more room to breathe - more in the realm of what you might call stadium rock. Looks wise and sound wise, James is completely convincing as a Rock and Roll front man, dressed like the other two band members in sharp black and white suits. His guitar playing is fabulous too and, when he launched into the occasional lengthy solo, I was genuinely dazzled rather than wondering when it was going to end. They had the feel of a band who had been together for many years but from what I gather they are a relatively new concept.  

It’s clear they are excellent musicians and, added to a great PA system and great acoustics at the Lafayette, they cooked up a proper thrilling rock and roll storm during a set of just over an hour. They finished with a blistering version of "My Girl is Red Hot". I referred to the TV show The Tube earlier in this post; well tonight felt like a particularly great episode of it with a varied cast playing a fresh 2023 take. There have been a few moans recently that there aren't the bands coming up and I, for one, am fed up with seeing artists from 50 years ago glaring out of the cover of music magazines when there is great contemporary stuff like this out there. As for the Facebook advert, it’s fair to say His Lordship with tonight’s busy venue would have more than doubled the size of their audience from their last London appearance which I note was the Lexington. Plus, some great up and coming support acts got the benefit of playing in front of a large, receptive audience so wins all round I reckon. So I’m definitely open to any other adverts Facebook throws my way where was that email from that Prince offering to put money in my bank account!
- David Leach April 2023

Wednesday 12 April 2023

The Courettes, Oh! Gunquit and The Paul Groovy Pop Art Experience at the Wedgewood Rooms Portsmouth, April 6th 2023

The Courettes, living up to their reputation as the hardest working Garage Rock 'n' Roll band in showbiz, were back in the U.K. again for a short headline tour. These gigs were sandwiched between their first ever visit to America and their appearance at the Roskilde Festival which then leads onto a full Danish tour. There really is no rest for the wicked as yet more tour dates have been pencilled into Martin and Flavia's diary so it won't be long before you get the chance to see the band play again, no matter where in the world you are. They were so busy that I didn't even have chance to arrange an interview with the duo at their stunning Portsmouth show. I wanted to discuss their acclaimed mini-tour of Japan in the Autumn of last year but hopefully, we can speak to them soon about their experiences for a future Retrosonic Podcast. We decided to go down to Portsmouth to see the band, mainly as they have often claimed that they get the best crowd reaction there and also, another of Retro Man Blog's favourite bands Oh! Gunquit were supporting. 

Opening up proceedings on the night were local band Paul Groovy & The Pop Art Experience, who we have played on Retrosonic Podcast before but never managed to see play live. I'm glad we did in the end though as they proved to be the perfect appetiser on a tasty looking bill promoted by the enthusiastic Chris Abbott and his team at Pompey Punk N' Roll. The Groovies, led by the charismatic and energetic frontman Mr Groovy himself, treated us to some impressive original songs and a selection of cover versions of a few Nuggets classics that went down well with the crowd and really set the tone nicely. Their "He's a Liar" single is a big favourite here, more so as it was released by our good friends at Spinout Nuggets, I'm looking forward to some more records soon.

Of course, Oh! Gunquit never let you down with their nice 'n' sleazy Bop, Rock & Soul, guaranteed to put a smile on your face and a bounce in your step. Their voodoo infused swampy gumbo sound blends a mix of influences into their very own unique style. Vocalist Tina is wearing a rather risqué outfit that might need a bit of photo-shopping to pass the social media censors and is her usual live-wire self. Juggling the trumpet, hula-hoop, maracas and for "Whiplash" a scary looking cat o' nine tails that she brandishes at bandmates and audience alike, she is a constant blur of high-kicking knee-dropping energy. Tina spends a lot of time down among the crowd and if she's not literally whipping them into shape, then she is crawling between their legs or encouraging them to "Dance Like F*ck". Someone really should make a Monkees style cartoon series about Oh! Gunquit as all the band members are charismatic characters in their own right. There's the sultry Veronica on bass, Erg powering away behind the drums, Luciano straddling the barrier between stage and audience as he adds some soulful sax to the mix and of course there's Simon Wild, who must be one of the most innovative guitarists on the scene right now. Their distinct and individual personalities really do add to the colourful eye-popping explosion of an Oh! Gunquit live show. The band have been in the studio working on new material, so that's certainly something to look forward to.

Then, it's the turn of The Courettes and they are probably one of the very few bands who could follow on from Oh! Gunquit - surely a daunting task. But, follow on they do and considering there is just the two of them, husband and wife Martin Couri on drums and Flavia on guitar and lead vocals - they do indeed raise the ante and treat the packed out Wedgewood Rooms to a visceral wall of sound and vision. Despite the recent critically acclaimed album "Back In Mono" concentrating more on the Phil Spector/Beach Boys harmonies and layered production - live, on stage, The Courettes have lost none of their original energy and fuzzed-up Garage Rock  assault on the senses. It's great to see a band on the up, from the first time I saw them at a Weirdsville Club Night at the Fiddlers Elbow in Camden, to the Louisiana in Bristol, a matinee at The Prince Albert in Brighton - then their biggest London show at the Lexington but now they are packing out the 400 capacity Wedgewood Rooms - it'll be interesting to see where they will play next time they are over here.

The set is packed full of great tunes, Martin is a phenomenal drummer - a non-stop blur of energy, managing to provide impressive backing vocals even if the non-stop touring is messing with his timing, although luckily not the drumming kind - "It's Friday night, let's go crazy Pompey!" he keeps shouting, until the crowd and Flavia remind him politely that it's actually Thursday night. Flavia hops, skips and jumps about the stage in between singing and peeling off some blistering guitar. ""R.I.N.G.O.", "Edge of My Nerves" and "Night Time" are stand-out tracks and they only slow the pace for "Daydream", which Flavia sings in faultless Japanese. Yes, Damaged Goods Records released the Japanese version on 7" vinyl especially for the band's Japan tour dates and we were honoured to get a dedication on the night for our help with the cover art, translation and hooking the band up with friends in Tokyo, not forgetting recommending Poor Cow, run by Fifi of Teengenerate and easily the best Punk Rock 'n' Roll bar ever. During the last song "All About You", Flavia leaps over the barrier to crowd-surf while impressively still managing to play guitar, it's a great moment. Then finally for the encore The Courettes are joined onstage by all the bands, promoter Chris Abbott and the irrepressible driver, roadie and cheerleader Patrice, for a great run through of "Hop The Twig".  It was a thoroughly entertaining time - great venue, great crowd and of course great bands - all in all just what a perfect night of live music should be all about.

All photos copyright Retro Man Blog 2023. You can check out more videos from the night by subscribing to our Retromanblog65 YouTube channel. Don't forget our Retrosonic Podcast interview special with The Courettes is still available in our archives at Spotify, iTunes, Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts or direct from Soundcloud below.

Please check out the following links for further information. 

The Courettes

Damaged Goods Records

Oh! Gunquit

Paul Groovy & The Pop Art Experience

Paul Groovy Radio Show

Spinout Nuggets Records

Pompey Punk N' Roll Promotions

Wedgewood Rooms Portsmouth 

Retro Man Blog YouTube channel

Retrosonic Podcast

Monday 10 April 2023

Retrosonic Podcast with Mickey Bradley of The Undertones

In the latest episode of Retrosonic Podcast we welcome Mickey Bradley, bassist of The Undertones prior to their "Celebrating 45 Years of Teenage Kicks Tour" (or a 'series of weekends away' according to Mickey). We discuss his excellent book "Teenage Kicks: My Life as an Undertone" (Omnibus Press) and he picks some of his favourite songs and music that had an impact on the early days of The Undertones. Sadly, we recorded the episode the day that Seymour Stein passed away, so Mickey pays tribute to his former Sire Records label boss and picks his favourite Sire Records release. Throughout the show, we discover his influences as a bassist, some of his favourite music related books and authors, how he missed Paul Simonon smashing his bass while touring with The Clash, the influence of Lenny Kaye's "Nuggets" compilation and he picks some pivotal early Undertones tracks. We also cover last year's excellent compilation of the best of the current Paul McLoone fronted line-up "Dig What You Need". As you would expect, Mickey is entertaining company so please check out the show by subscribing to Retrosonic Podcast at Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, iTunes or at our Retro Man Blog You Tube channel. Otherwise, check out the direct link to our SoundCloud site below. The episode is soundtracked by loads of Mickey's superb musical choices...

The Undertones "Listening In"
Ramones "Blitzkrieg Bop"
Rolling Stones "Jumping Jack Flash (live)"
Dr. Feelgood "Back In The Night"
Sex Pistols "God Save The Queen"
Elvis Costello & The Attractions "Pump It Up"
The Undertones "Trill Me"
The Undertones "Male Model"
The Jam "David Watts"
The Clash "(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais"
Ramones "Oh Oh I Love Her So"
David Bowie "Friday On My Mind"
The Undertones "True Confessions"
The Undertones "You've Got My Number"
The Undertones "Enough"
The Undertones "Tomorrow's Tears"
13th Floor Elevators "You're Gonna Miss Me"
The Undertones "Teenage Kicks"

With many thanks to Michael Bradley, more details on his regular radio show can be found here. "Teenage Kicks: My Life as an Undertone" is available from Omnibus Press and all good bookshops. For news on The Undertones upcoming live dates, please check out their official website here. The Undertones "Rocking Humdingers" Facebook Fan's Group can be found here. Finally, check out the Retrosonic Podcast archives for our episodes with Damian O'Neill, at SoundCloud, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Podcasts and iTunes. Retrosonic Podcast has a valid PRS Licence. 

R.I.P. Seymour Stein. 

The Undertones, Belfast 1978 - Photo by Paul Slattery

Sunday 2 April 2023

Retrosonic Podcast with Dennis Lyxzén - The (International) Noise Conspiracy and Refused frontman discusses his latest project Fake Names and more...

In this latest special episode of Retrosonic Podcast we welcome one of our favourite vocalists and frontmen Dennis Lyxzén, to discuss his latest project Fake Names - a collaboration with some well known names from the Washington D.C. Hardcore Punk scene, Brian Baker (Minor Threat, Bad Religion, Dag Nasty), Michael Hampton (Embrace, S.O.A.), Johnny Temple (Girls Against Boys) and Brendan Canty (Fugazi, Rites of Spring) and their stunning new album "Expendables" which is out now on Epitaph Records. Dennis explains how he ended up in a band with some of his musical heroes, their impressive heritage and how he first discovered American Hardcore Punk. He also touches on the songwriting process, the influence of The Ruts and what to expect during their forthcoming American tour and we pick some choice cuts from "Expendables" and the Fake Names self-titled debut album. We also cover more of his many and varied current projects including the atmospheric Post-Punk of INVSN and the forthcoming Punk Rock outfit Vännäs Kasino, both featuring his former International Noise Conspiracy colleague Sara Almgren and then there's the free-form Jazz of Backengrillen which features members of Refused and the virtuoso Jazz Saxophonist Matts GustafssonAlthough this episode focuses mostly on his new projects, I couldn't pass on the opportunity to cover his time in The (International) Noise Conspiracy and Dennis talks about touring with The Hives at the height of the "Swedish Invasion" and we also cover what his other former bandmates in INC, Inge Johansson (Gatuplan) and Ludwig Dahlberg (Indochine) are up to these days. For our many readers/listeners who are into The Soundtrack of Our Lives, Dennis tells us how he first met guitarist Mattias Barjed and of working at the venue when Union Carbide Productions played his hometown of Umea in Northern Sweden. So please subscribe to Retrosonic Podcast at Spotify, iTunes, Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts or direct from our SoundCloud site below to enjoy this thoroughly entertaining show in the company of Dennis Lyxzén.

We also cover Dennis' brilliant new YouTube channel "Dennis Deep Cuts" in which he trawls through his impressive record and book collection to cover various topics such as his favourite foreign language releases, Gothic Rock, his most expensive records, Australian music, 80's Hardcore, the best debut albums, Swedish Punk and much more besides - check out a sample show below and make sure you subscribe to the channel to keep up to date with the latest episodes.

For many more Swedish music related Retrosonic Podcasts including episodes with Inge Johansson, Spiders, Mattias Hellberg, The Movements and Soundtrack of Our Lives band members Ebbot Lundberg, Ian Person, Fredrik Sandsten and Mattias Barjed, please check out our archives at all major Podcast providers and hit subscribe. Enjoy!

Fake Names "Targets"
Fake Names "Delete Myself"
The Lost Patrol Band "Feels Like Drowning"
The Ruts "You're Just A..."
Bad Brains "Pay To Cum"
Minor Threat "Small Man Big Mouth"
Fake Names "Don't Blame Yourself"
Fake Names "Being Them"
Fake Names "This Is Nothing"
The (International) Noise Conspiracy "Black Mask"
The (International) Noise Conspiracy "Communist Moon"
INVSN "Slow Disco"
The (International) Noise Conspiracy "Bigger Cages, Longer Chains"

Refused in London, 2019 - photo by Retro Man Blog