HEAVEN 17 / B.E.F. with MARI WILSON

O2 Shepherds Bush Empire
London
Sunday 30th October 2016

This show has been touring around the UK and tonight was the last night, so we were delighted to be able to share the experience.

The format of the show was the complete "Penthouse And Pavement" album (released in 1981) performed by Glenn Gregory and Martyn Ware from the original Heaven 17, backed by two superb singers and keyboardist Berenice Scott (daughter of "Pop Muzik" by M officiado, Robin Scott!). This was followed in the second half by a selection of British Electric Foundation material and some special guests

"Penthouse And Pavement" was just before Minty's time (she is more familiar with their next release "The Luxury Gap") but we were both enthralled by the performance of this album. We did start off a bit unsure as the drums and backing were all digitalised and essentially backing tracks, but the performance from Glenn, and  his vocal alongside Martyn's was superb.  A bit of humour injected into the proceedings was through some jibes at Phil O and the Human League! We have never been huge fans of backing tracks and bands who do not have the "live" thing, but by God, we loved this show.
Heaven 17

The first half was over much too soon (that's the consequence of a vinyl with only 9 songs!).

A quick intermission and change of backdrop from Heaven 17 to B.E.F and we were into the second half. B.E.F are essentially a covers band who do their own take on other songs. Here we were treated to some guests.
First up was The Farm's Peter Hooten and the sing a long "All Together Now" followed by a great rendition of "Bank Robber" by the Clash

Next up was the reason we got our tickets - the glam and fab Queen of Neasden, Mari Wilson. Looking fabulous, in high heels and a shimmery dress, she gave us a terrific performance of "Just What I Always Wanted". Having seen Mari perform a good number of times over the last years, this song has always been a very stripped down version in her set, so it was great to hear it in it's full glory. In fine voice, those high notes were hit! Her second song was a jaw dropping version of "Rescue me". This song really suited Mari's voice and was brilliant.

Glen Matlock
Glen Matlock was up next, and he played a guitar! His songs were "Pretty Vacant" from his time with the Sex Pistols which got the crowd roaring and then an unusual cover of Pharrell's "Happy".


Glenn Gregory then came back to take control of the stage and following an extremely good rendition of the Jimmy Webb song, "Wichita Lineman", it was straight into a dig at Phil with a part of the Human League's "Don't You Want Me" swiftly followed with another fabulous cover..... this time "Pop Muzik" by M, with the keyboard player, Berenice doing a sterling job supporting Glenn with his cover of this song written by her dad!

All of the artists came back on stage for a tribute to Colin Vearncombe (aka Black) who had been due to be in this tour, but he sadly passed away earlier in the year. As a tribute the guys sang "Wonderful Life".

A Heaven 17 show would not be complete without their signature tune, "Temptation" and the two backing singers really came into their forte with this one. Their vocals were superb and sounded so true to the original. Quite often girls singing such high end vocals can get a bit screechy, but this was very suited to their style, and worked a treat.


Mari Wilson and her signature tune "Just What I Always Wanted" - sounded fab

"Temptation"







BRIAN WILSON

Royal Albert Hall
London
Friday 28th October 2016

It was great to welcome the grrrreat Brian Wilson back to the UK since he last graced our shores at the gig in Southend on Sea in September.

The joy about his gigs is not just the actual show, but the pre and post show social gatherings of the fans. A chance for like minded, passionate people to share thoughts and memories of the last fourteen years when we have always said.... "we have to buy a ticket because Brian might never come across again!!!"

Alex Mac's Red Jacket is legendary
Today's pre show gathering started mid afternoon in the Queens Arms, located in a quiet Mews around the corner from the Albert Hall. Unfortunately, none of the band joined us as they had in previous times, but none the less, it was a good few hours of chatting to friends and sharing in the atmosphere of what a Brian Wilson gig entails.

The fans had travelled quite a way, some from as far away as Scotland - could this be the last UK appearance of the legend that is Brian Wilson?

Our seats were first row circle slightly left of centre....... good seats as we had a great view of the stage and we didn't have to stand if we didn't want to (getting old now!). The fun of Brian Wilson concerts is spotting where our friends are sitting so as the venue started to fill it was a case of "spot our friends!".




The Drewett's spot "friends"

Dave and Kerri "spot" us


Darian Sahanaja and Gary Griffin
 The show did not disappoint. There was a very welcome return for Darian Sahanaja on keys, vocals and vibes, with Gary Griffin partnering. This meant "Darlin'" was in the set list, with a fantastic vocal from the Wondermint. He really has made this song his own over the last few years. Check out the video at the bottom of the page.


Speaking of the set list, it was broadly the same as we had experienced during the May/June dates. New additions were "California Saga" (which we had been treated to at Southend),  "Salt Lake City", "You're So Good To me" and a surprise addition of "Sail Away" from the last Brian Wilson album "No Pier Pressure" - a welcome addition given that Blondie Chaplin and Al Jardine who were prominent on that album were part of the band. Obviously to make way for these songs, something had to go, so we were missing the traditional opening of "Our Prayer" following with "Heroes & Villains", Brian opting to go straight into "California Girls".

The Blondie Chaplin showcase was also shorter with no "Funky Pretty".
Blondie Chaplin

The "left" side of the stage
The second half was standard - the complete "Pet Sounds" followed by the band intros and then the encore of the early 60's fun songs. Closing the night with "Love & Mercy" we were left wondering if this was the last time we would see Brian Wilson performing on this side of the pond. If it is the last show, it was a good one to end with. We are of course, hopeful he still has the tour bug and will come visit us again next year!
The "right" side of the stage

During the show, Brian was focused, energetic (in so far as he is ever energetic!) and seemed to enjoy himself. The sound was good and the band were on form. One thing we did notice was the difference having Darian back in the band made (and not just visually for Minty!). The difference really showed with the set up for the keys and vibes ....... something was different because during "Let's Go Away For A While" when Probyn Gregory, the multi talented, multi instrumentalist" comes to his fore and to the front of the stage to blow his trumpet, we noticed that he had to be mindful of where Darian was and he even had to move to one side, and take the microphone with him at times in order to allow Darian to use the keys/vibes. Something that was not done in the previous shows when the keys were in the control of Gary Griffin and Billy Hinsche.

The drum off on "Pet Sounds" between Nelson Bragg and Mike D'Amico was strong, the vocals from Matt Jardine who provided the falsetto flowed much more easily with Brian than they had earlier in the UK tour, although Brian did drop a few early words which Matt did not cover. The question is whether he should be expected to cover - Jeff did (just saying).

Probyn was going for the "Brexit" look!

Brian is certainly more fragile now. This tour has been brutal and  he has been on the road essentially most of the year. He tends to "speak" his lyrics rather than sing them now and he is getting short of breath. Does this matter? We guess reaction would be mixed. You have one camp that is just pleased to have him involved and another that expects him to be the main man. Us? We love the music, we love Brian Wilson and we love his band. The combination works for us!



Final Bow
Below are some of the videos:
The whole Drewett family did the "Surfin' USA" dance and you can watch it here......

Darian's fabulous rendition of "Darlin'"

Al Jardine on form for "Wake The World" and Probyn on trombone

Blondie took the lead on "Sail Away"


"Pet Sounds" includes a great bit of guitar from Nicky Wonder and a fantastic drum off between Nelson Bragg and Mike D'Amico


And here is the 8 minutes of footage with Paul Von Mertens introducing the band!


SURFIN' LUNGS

THE QUEENS ARMS
St Knollys Street, Reading
Saturday 22nd October 2016


This is the second time in as many months we have seen this brilliant UK Surf Punk band play.

Tonight, at the Queens Arms in Reading, there were three bands in the line up. Proceedings started with Silent Mode who were described as "brutal punks". If only they had stayed in silent mode! This was a duo, and although the drummer was quite good and kept a great beat, the singer/guitarist, despite having the use of a large pedal board, sounded exactly the same for every song. Just noise, no songs.

Second on were Horse Rock, a trio who played instrumentals whilst wearing WWF style face masks. They were described as "brutal surf punks". They were actually quite good, the novelty being that the drummer played a set of child's drums! They certainly had a surf twang about them and also did a good version of Billy Idol's "White Wedding".

Ray - a rare shot of the drummer!
The main attraction, and billed as "The Kings of Surf" was of course the Surfin' Lungs. We never get tired of seeing this band play, and seize every opportunity we can as they play more overseas in Italy and Spain at festivals than in the UK. If The Beach Boys had children with The Ramones, this would be the result - that punk power fuelled with high octane harmony.

They kicked off with a great version of the Fantastic Baggy's "Tell 'Em I'm Surfin'" and ended on "Peppermint Twist" (before their encore) and in between we got a mixture of their back catalogue and songs from their just recently released CD "Surf Factor 8" (yours for a mere £10 from their website here, and go to the merchandise page).

Highlights were "Don't Take My Baby" from their new CD, "Where Young Men Go To Cry" which has that great Be My Baby drum beat, "Pray For Sun" from their very first album and Minty's favourite instrumental "The Godfather" which just rocked. As Halloween is approaching, "The Munsters Theme" was included in the set, alongside "Surfin' Hearse".
Surfin' Lungs
So another great Surfin' Lungs gig... roll on Dec 3rd for their annual Christmas Party gig in Brighton.
The set list

Here is The Godfather in full swing.......



ROD ARGENT & COLIN BLUNSTONE

A Very Special Evening With Rod Argent & Colin Blunstone
St Albans Cathedral
St Albans, Herts
Friday 21st October 2016


Britain's oldest site of continuous Christian worship was the setting of what was billed as "A Very Special Evening....". We knew once the show was announced that this was one not to be missed. How often do you get the opportunity to hear Rod & Colin's vocals augmented by the natural acoustics of such a fine Cathedral?

The Programme
Introduced by the Dean, who said we were free to take as many photos as we liked (but not to use a flash) and to remember to tag the cathedral in our posts (!) the show started with Rod being let loose on the Cathedral Organ to give us the opening of "Rejoice". Minty had a vision of a Vincent Price style character in a long red robe hunched over the keys, and then letting out an insane laugh, but that was not to be!!!

However, despite the encouragement from the Dean, we did not take many pictures. The seating was flat and we would have blocked the view of the people behind us if we raised the camera. We did get a couple of sneaky photos during gaps when the audience were applauding though.

Once we had greeted  Rod and Colin as they took their places on the stage set at the top of the knave, the audience settled down to a quiet hush and the show began. The set up was simple - a grand piano for Rod to the left, Colin at a microphone in the middle and space for the string quintet on the right.

Before the Show - The stage in the knave of the cathedral


Colin Blunstone
Colin's voice has been tremendous every time we see The Zombies, and hearing him in the Cathedral was truly spine tingling. It was flawless. Rod's vocal was magnificent too - the best we've heard him. The sound was very good - not sure how hard it was to get the levels right in such a high ceiling building, with pillars and the like for the sound to bounce off, but they nailed it.

The first set ended with four songs accompanied by the string quintet, 3 violins, a cello and bass, one of which was a completely new arrangement so Rod and Colin were a bit nervous that it would go wrong. It didn't.

After an interval (where the Dean encouraged us to stock up on the drinks as the makeshift bar would close at the start of the second set), we were treated to the second set. This set included some of Odessy & Oracle, which we will never get tired of seeing live, and once again the audience were completely hushed. It was great to have such a respectful audience who listened instead of chattering! There was a magical moment near the very end of "This Will Be Our Year," where there was complete silence for a second and all you heard was Colin breathing in for the last couple of notes.

Ending on "She's Not There", we all of course yelled for more, and we got their lovely rendition of Gershwin's "Summertime".

A Very Special Evening..... it certainly was.

The show was being filmed and we spoke with Cindy their manager about it afterwards. Hopefully things will come out OK, but the lighting on Rod in the first half was not great, and the mic on the cello moved at one point, giving a bit of sound distortion until the celloist had the chance to move the mic back to its rightful position. We hope we get parts of it at least released.
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Final bows at the end of the show

The programme for the show was well thought out and nicely presented, and included the set list. Pages are reproduced below:
1st Set

2nd Set
Page from the Programme

Back pages of the programme



GOO GOO DOLLS

EVENTIM APOLLO
Queen Caroline Street, Hammersmith
Friday 14th October

Click HERE for the Goo Goo Dolls official website

Before tonight we had only heard the name Goo Goo Dolls and we were not familiar with their music, so we had no idea what to expect from this sold out show at the Hammersmith Apollo. Outside we met up with Masayo who had our tickets. Masayo and her husband are as passionate about live music as we are.
Masayo and The Beeb outside the Apollo

Up in the gods, we had a really good view of the stage. The support act was Johnny Lloyd who has been the support for all of the UK dates. With a band of three backing him, we got a pretty decent half hour of what we would describe as indie rock.

The stage for the Goo Goo Dolls was minimalist....... a pedal board for the guitarist at the back, keyboard, drum kit....... no leads, no amps. Everything wireless. Hammersmith absolutely rocked.

The sound tonight was superb...... vocals were terrific, the guitars very clear (still couldn't work out where the amps were though) and with no wires trailing across the stage, the guys had room to move about freely.

So, what did they sound like?

We did not know the songs but they all sounded like big anthems and the crowd seemed to know every word.

A bit Bon Jovi, and 100% US stadium rock band sound! They were actually brilliant and we are sure these guys could do an arena tour without any worries of filling the venue!

Their best known anthem is a song called "Iris" which, from the title we would have said, "no, don't know that one" but once they started to play it at the end of the set, it was instantly recognisable and the air was punched by many fists!!!. Minty had thought it was a Nickelback song!!

John Rzeznik, the lead singer was very engaging and had a joke with the audience and in particular a guy from Belgium whose English was not the best, so the message the guy had on a card which he held up for the band to see was the source of a few naughty jibes!!! John also played a multitude of guitars from electric to acoustic. We don't think he used the same guitar for two consecutive songs so his guitar roadie was kept busy.

On occasion the other guitarist came to  the front to do a few bits of excellent lead. The main vocals were from John, but the bass player, Robby Takac took control of the mic a couple of times.

Would we go see this band again? Too right we would.... and we now know some of the songs! We've since listened to their new album a few times, and recognised a few of the ones thEy played live straight away.




JIMMY WEBB

THE STABLES
Wavendon, Milton Keynes
Wednesday 21st September 2016


Billed as "Jimmy Webb - Still On the Line: The Glen Campbell Years", this show epitomised the multi-decade friendship Jimmy and Glen have treasured. There was of course a tinge of sadness, knowing that Jimmy was paying tribute to his best friend who no longer actually remembers him, being in the last stages of dementia.

Jimmy is a fantastic raconteur, a prolific song writer and he had years of happy memories to pull from and share with us. And that is exactly what he did.

Seated at a Grand Piano, the time flew past as Jimmy chatted to us (and the rest of the audience!), interspersed with song, picture shows, video and even singing along with Glen on the video.  The whole auditorium sat enthralled and were genuinely entertained as Jimmy shared his childhood years, his move away from home, the time he first met Glen....... through to the numerous collaborations with Glen. We could have sat there and listened for hours more.

He included the expected songs, such as "Witchita Lineman" and "When I get To Phoenix" but also spoke a lot about his time writing for The Fifth Dimension.

This show was not "off the cuff" like previous shows we have seen, as Jimmy's story telling had to match the flow of the photos and video in the backdrop. But even though this was "scripted" it still felt like Jimmy was in your sitting room, just sharing adhoc memories and bursting into song.

After the show, Jimmy gave a lot of his time to meet the audience who formed a long line through the lobby area. Although the queue was long and it was late, Jimmy never rushed anyone. Happy to sign his CDs, memorabilia, pose for photos, you really could not get a more generous star.

The Beeb gets his poster signed by Jimmy

Seeing Jimmy Webb perform is as pleasure any time, and tonight was a bit special given the nature of the show. We felt the standing ovation at the end, which seemed to humble Jimmy, was not just for him but for Glen too.



THEE SHERBERT PEARDROP EXPLOSION

THE CON CLUB
High Street, Lewes
Friday 16th September 2016

Having had the week on holiday in The Cotswolds, we ended our break taking a bit of a detour and an overnight stop in Lewes near the South Coast town of  Brighton. The reason? So we could grab the chance to catch Thee Sherbert Peardrop Explosion playing at Lewes Con Club.

Made up of  members from local Brighton bands, this four piece have opened for legendary Psych band, The Sonics in the not so distant past. They dress the part, they sound the part and they played a blistering set of Psych covers which included (of course) The Sonics, The Standells, and included a brilliant version of Link Wray's "Rumble".
Jon Sherbert
Clive Sherbert
You do get the feeling that this band are playing because they love playing, and the songs they so perfectly cover are actually personal favourites. That helps give a great atmosphere as they are enjoying things as much as their audience.

If you ever have the chance to see this band, then go see them.

Did we tell you they opened for The Sonics?

We visited a couple of the guitar and book shops whilst we were in the area, and it made a pleasant change for us to manage some quality time with a couple of the guys from the band next day. Drinking beer with good friends, talking guitars in Brighton. A very pleasant way to spend some time.

BRIAN WILSON

Cliffs Pavilion,
Southend on Sea
Sunday 4th September 2016


Brian at the beach. What's not to like? Well, Southend on Sea at least. A one off gig after the UK tour a few months ago. And an excuse for lots of friends to get together again, and enjoy a bit of seaside to boot.

We spent a few hours down on the promenade, and bumped into some familiar faces. This turned out to be a gig were we not only met old friends, including some surprise ones, but made a few new ones too. There was a meal arranged beforehand, and of course Probyn and Nelson turned up there.

The venue itself was a bit odd with the stalls being standing only. Standing at a Brian Wilson gig is a strange sight for us. Thankfully we managed to get tickets for seats upstairs.

Three Beach Boys, Brian, Blondie, Al
Brian came on to a great ovation and we settled down for another enjoyable gig. It doesn't matter how many times we've seen and heard this show, it's always a joy. There was a moment when playing the Pet Sounds album, Brian stopped the song, and called on his assistant to say he had heartburn. After a quick tablet, Brian carried on. It took him a while to get back in his stride, but by the end of the night the place was rocking again.

The format of the show was different to what we had experienced in May - this was a straight single set show, with no interval which meant the stage time overall was much shorter. We still got some of the old hits on either side of "Pet Sounds", and the chance to see Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin in the limelight.

The night was ended off by a group of us finding a cafe/bar serving drink till late at night. The barman was very enthusiastic about music. And while we were enjoying Rockabilly music, supping our drinks outside on a lovely evening, I'm not too sure the local residents were.

Al Jardine

Gary Griffin & Billy Hinsche - The Pet Shop Boys

Mike D'Amico on drums

The Wonder of Nick

Nelson Bragg in action

Paul Von Mertens on Sax

Brian at the Grand Piano and Al



THE FAST CAMELS

O2 ABC
Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow
Saturday 27th August 2016

There are four or five bands we will travel a fair distance to see. The Fast Camels are one of those, and tonight’s gig was a 900 mile round trip, but also gave The Beeb a chance to go back to his beloved Glasgow!

The launch of their third album ”Tales of The Expected” is a big deal and we were delighted to be part of the celebrations at the ABC in Glasgow.
 


They played a blinding set which treated our ears to the tracks from the new album, alongside some of the old favourites – "Der Nazi Tea" being a staple favourite in their set. 

The grunge of the guitars as the psychedelic chord progression which is their signature sound, superb vocals alongside a drum beat that would kill anyone other than the great Big Daddy Smythe and a mad percussionist who is in his element on stage! These are all ingredients of what was a terrific gig.

Their new album has been billed by the band themselves as a departure from their normal long psychedelic songs, in a bid to be more commercial. To be honest, although the new songs are a little shorter than their usual fayre, they have stayed true to their sound. 


This band are tight – they have been friends for ages and we are pleased to have seen them play many times including a fair number of shows in their home town of Glasgow, every show being as good as, if not better than the last. 

There was a good sized crowd that came out to support them tonight as well, with many finding their way across the street to Mango for the after show party! 


Check out their website here to keep up with all the news about The Fast Camels and buy their CDs and Vinyl too. You know you want to.

SURFIN' LUNGS

THE PRINCE ALBERT
Trafalgar Street, Brighton
Saturday 20th August 2016


Click here for the Surfin' Lungs website

It is not very often we get the chance to see The Surfin’ Lungs in action on home soil as most of their gigs now are in Italy or Spain, headlining surf festivals. So the opportunity to see them play in Brighton was too good an opportunity to miss. Tonight was the launch of their new CD “Surf Factor 8”.

With support from Thee Sherbert Peardrop Explosion, who are a Psych Covers band made up of a Surfin Lung, a Squadron Leader, a Los Fantastico and Will who is a pretty darned good drummer, the night got off to a fine start. The Sherberts do have an authentic 60’s Psych look and sound and they powered through a set of Link Wray, The Standells and anything else from the 60's psychedelia era. Sounded brilliant.
 
Thee Sherbert Peardrop Explosion

The Surfin' Lungs took to the stage, wearing their trademark white trousers, surf shirts and converse shoes and delighted us with a set that took us on a tour of their 30 year old musical history mixing old and new numbers. Having already played the new CD a few times, the new songs were already quite familiar. A highlight was "Don't Take My Baby" which has a Spector inspired beat (can you tell Chris loves the Girl group era?) and Minty was delighted it was in the set along with her favourite instrumental track from them, "The Godfather" (just imagine Marlon Brando surfing!)

Their sound is very Brian Wilson meets The Ramones with a jam session with The Barracudas along the way. Fast paced at times, slow at others, rounded off with some great vocals and harmony. What is not to love about the kings of UK surf punk?

The Surfin' Lungs
Lead vocals from Chris Pearce were brilliant, sounding very fresh, and the falsetto parts added by Steve Dean (who also plays Bass) were spot on. Clive Lung switched between guitar and keyboard, adding some great vocals and took the lead on some of the numbers. Ray? As well as providing solid backing vocals, he just beat the hell out of the drums as drummers do!!

Chris Pearce

Audience volumes were a bit down versus what we usually see, probably due to the fact we are at the peak of the holiday season but, which had the advantage of making the room a bit more airy and bearable.

A chance to chill in the bar downstairs afterwards with the guys rounded off a terrific night.