Wednesday 24 May 2023

Gaye Su Akyol at Songlines Encounters Festival, Kings Place London May 20th 2023

It was a thrill to finally get to see Istanbul based singer Gaye Su Akyol play live as part of the Songlines World Music magazine's Encounters festival at the new Arts Centre venue Kings Place in London's rejuvenated Kings Cross area. I'm pleased to report that the show exceeded all of our eager expectations with Gaye's eclectic mix of traditional Turkish Folk, Anatolian Psychedelia, Surf, Grunge and Electronica translating perfectly from the impressive body of recorded work onto the stage. Gaye appears, looking fabulous and strikes up an immediate rapport with the adoring crowd, she's a compelling and charismatic performer with a quite superb voice and, as she goes on to prove, a pretty damn good drummer too. That's because tonight it's a three-piece line-up minus the usual rhythm section so they had to work on the arrangements of the songs for the show and Gaye adds drums and percussion to the mix. 


They launch into "Anadolu Ejderi", the rousing title track of her superb new album. Ali Güçlü Şimşek's intricate guitar runs and Surf Rock motifs are quite remarkable, melding Middle Eastern, Arabic and Flamenco sounds into his own distinctive style and we are really looking forward to seeing his more harder-edged project Lalalar play at the Jazz Cafe later this year. The third member, Gorkem Karabudak was also really impressive, and was kept very busy with backing vocals, guitar, synths and keyboards. My personal highlights were "Laziko" which sees Dick Dale and Link Wray relocating to the Bosphorus. "İstikrarlı Hayal Hakikattir" is marvellous and "Sen Benim Mağaramsın" reminded me of Goldfrapp's stomping Glam Rock tinged period. "Martılar Öpüşür, Kediler Sevişir" was also superb with its crunching Pixies style Punky guitar that reminds you that Gaye is also a big fan of Nirvana and Grunge, something not necessarily apparent from most of her recorded works. 


We are treated to a selection of tracks from all four of her albums, ending the main set with the stand alone single "Isyan Manifestosu". These are protest songs of the best kind, demanding social justice, tolerance and hope and the whole package is truly inspirational. The band returned for an encore and reprised the opening track "Anadolu Ejderi" with the hugely talented dancer Must Kika joining in and the show ended in a blur of colour and rapturous applause. I sincerely hope she will return to the U.K. again very soon. For more information on Gaye Su Akyol please check out her official web-site here. You can see more videos from the show by subscribing to our Retromanblog65 YouTube channel here. Ali Güçlü Şimşek Lalalar will play at the Jazz Cafe on September 9th, for more information please check here

Monday 22 May 2023

Ruts DC & TV Smith at Sub89 Reading, May 17th 2023

Ruts DC take the stage of Reading's SUB89 to a Reggae version of "Love Will Tear Us Apart" and launch into "Faces In The Sky" from the excellent new album "CounterCulture?" It's a slow-burning paranoid number with a throbbing undertow and a snaking Middle-Eastern guitar riff. A brilliant start to a blistering set from Ruts DC as they continued on part two of their "CounterCulture?/Faces In The Sky" U.K. tour. The band are looking very cool, Dave Ruffy in particular is looking in great shape. Then there's Segs in fedora and shades underpining everything with his superb bass playing and excellent voice. Guitarist Leigh Heggarty in black and white polka dot shirt, waistcoat, trilby and round shades is every inch the guitar hero and there's a great chemistry and interplay between the three of them. Next up it's "S.U.S.", "You're Just A..." and "It Was Cold", a triple hit of tracks from their classic album "The Crack" and you realise, probably a little sadly, that the topics The Ruts tackled at the time of recording the album are unfortunately, still all too prevalent today. Certainly, "S.U.S." seems as relevant now as it did 40 years ago and of course "Jah War" too and the haunting line "when the truncheon came down and knocked him to the ground" could be a line from the brand new record.


Dave Ruffy jokingly comments after "No Time To Kill" from 1981's "Animal Now" that when they wrote the song they thought it would end all war and they thought Rock Against Racism would end racism. Sadly, some forty years later nothing much has changed but Ruts DC certainly haven't given up on trying and their protest songs that are packed full of social conscience are needed now more than ever. The new album "CounterCulture?" is probably more musically diverse and adds more Reggae and Dub elements to the intense sonic attack of the last album "Music Must Destroy" and this mix of new material perfectly complements the old classics so that the set-list is a seamless non-stop delight of musical gems one after another. I was really pleased they included "Poison Games", one of my favourites from the new album and "Kill The Pain" in particular is a masterclass in anthemic songwriting. Segs and Leigh swapped instruments for a rare run through of "Despondency" from "Animal Now", Leigh proving that he's a pretty damn good bassist too.


Of course, I've waxed lyrical many times in these pages of how impressive I think Leigh's guitar work is - not just in replicating Paul Fox's iconic sound on the older nunbers but in the way he's stamped his own identity on the current Ruts DC. I noted a nifty bit of Wilko Johnson style simultaneous rhythm and lead riffing on "Jah War" that was pretty special. The great thing about live music is that it's sometimes the unexpected and out of the blue moments that really hit you and tonight it's "Pretty Lunatics", the low key campfire singalong from the new album. Kind of like The Soundtrack of Our Lives "The Passover" or Pixies "Where Is My Mind?" which on record might seem pleasant and unassuming songs but become transformed into mightily effective and emotional crowd favourites when played live. Of course, we do get the run of classic Ruts singles "Babylon's Burning", "Staring At The Rude Boys", "Something That I Said" and "West One (Shine On Me)" which go down a storm with the adoring crowd as you would expect, but it's the strenght of the new material that really impresses. Certainly, Ruts DC are going from strength to strength and are as vital and relevant today as they have ever been.


Don't forget our two special Retrosonic Podcast specials with Leigh Heggarty are still available, always a thoroughly entertaining guest, you can listen/stream download from Spotify or our Soundcloud archive here. For more information on Ruts DC and how to order "CounterCulture?" please check out their official web-site here. Before the show, Leigh introduced me to Roland Link author of the definitive story of The Ruts and Ruts DC "Love In Vain" which is a must-have for any Ruts fan - check it out here if you haven't already got a copy. You can hear Dennis Lyxzén from The (International) Noise Conspiracy and Refused on his new Wingmen style 'supergroup' Fake Names (which features members of Minor Threat, Bad Religion and Fugazi) talking about the impact that The Ruts had on their new band and the 80's Washington DC Hardcore Punk scene in our recent Retrosonic Podcast here. You can see more videos from the show by subscribing to our Retromanblog65 YouTube channel here

It was great to see TV Smith again too - I enjoyed his set with a full band supporting the original line-up of The Damned at Hammersmith Apollo but now he's back solo, just him and his acoustic guitar opening up on a few few dates during the tour. It was a great set that included the best of his solo career including "Expensive Being Poor", "Generation Y", "Immortal Rich" and one of my personal favourites, "You Saved My Life Then Ruined It" and included some promising new songs, with one in particular going down well called "One Minute To Midnight". Despite the quailty of the solo material, inevitably it's The Adverts classics that get the best reaction and the timeless appeal of "Gary Gilmore's Eyes", "One Chord Wonders", "Safety In Numbers" and "No Time To Be 21" prove what an underated band The Adverts were. Like Ruts DC, TV Smith's politically charged protest songs are needed now more than ever and it's refreshing and inspiring to know that the fire still burns bright in both. You can listen to our Retrosonic Podcast special with TV Smith in our archive here.

You can see more videos from the show by subscribing to our Retromanblog65 YouTube channel here.