GIG: Anny Celsi & Nelson Bragg
DATE: Wednesday 28th April 2010
VENUE: “What’s Cookin’” @ The Sheep Walk, High Road, Leytonstone, London, E11
COST: free but donations collected for the band
RATING: Volcanic Ash can’t stop these two!


Leytonstone High Road has a bit of a nugget in terms of a music venue, and we found it tonight when we went along to see Anny Celsi and Nelson Bragg on their 2nd European tour. The Icelandic volcanic ash had threatened their whole tour (indeed a few gigs in Holland had been cancelled due to the travel restrictions) but we were certainly pleased that they had managed to get back to the UK for this gig.

From our seat, Anny was almost hidden by a big floral arrangement that framed the stage area. In fact the whole venue looked very much like a Nudie suit, but that did not detract from the music, and they launched into their opening number “Little Black Dress”, the title track from one of Anny’s albums. The set included some songs that are really well embedded firm favourites with us, “She Walks In”, “The Night She Learned To Drive”, “Empty Hangers”, “Tangle Free World” and “Summer Fling”. Some covers were also done, including the ever popular Lee Hazelwood “Some Velvet Morning”. Nelson’s “Forever Days”, a track from his solo album also went down a storm with the audience.

It is amazing to hear how just an acoustic guitar, 2 great voices, a snare drum, 2 tambourines tied to Nelson’s feet, and a shaker around his wrist can give such volume and depth to the sound of an acoustic set. Anny and Nelson’s voices compliment each other and are really harmonious, whether it is Nelson adding a few ooohs and ahhhs and harmony backing to Anny’s songs or Anny adding a bit of backing vocal to Nelson’s songs, the chemistry works.

The audience at the gig was quite sizeable, claiming all of the chairs around the tables, and seating along the back wall, with some standing (because that’s all they could do) and seemed to really enjoy Anny and Nelson’s music. Among the audience were a few of Nelson and Anny’s UK friends they have met along the way and the guy who ran the venue seemed genuinely pleased that Nelson and Anny’s pot of donations was growing.

“What’s Cookin’” is described on their webpage as “its a little bit country, a little bit rock'n'roll, with the best dressed little stage in London” and that describes it completely. Having been to a few pub gigs, we really expected the room above the pub to be dark, dank, and standing only. We were pleasantly surprised to find it carpeted, tables and chairs laid out and a bar too! The stage was decorated with plants and flowers, almost to the point of us asking whose funeral it was (!) but the venue as a whole gets a big thumbs up. Not so sure about the loos though!

This gig was well worth the hours drive each way!


GIG: Joe Meek – The Farewell Concert
DATE: Saturday 10th April 2010
VENUE: White Eagle Hall, Polish Club, Raans Road, Amersham, Bucks (Amersham Rock & Roll Club)
COST: £13.50 in advance
RATING: Quiffsville


The evening at the Amersham Rock & Roll Club kicked off at just after 7.30. Being resident in the Polish Club, a minutes silence was held in respect of the Polish president who tragically died in a plane crash that very morning.

The compere for the night was Robb Shenton(who has played in/been associated with many Joe Meek bands) and he introduced the first band on stage – The Saints. This band was the original house band for Joe Meek productions. Theirs was a fairly short set and included a Hank Williams number, complete with a lapsteel, a great version of Heinz’s “Just Like Eddie” which they had originally played on, and their final number (which was also their only hit from the 60’s) was “Wipeout”, featuring original drummer Ricky Winter.

Robb Shenton cracked a few jokes to keep the audience occupied while The Saints packed up their gear, and The Triumphs took to the stage. The Triumphs covered a couple of Joe Meek numbers, “Bless you” and “Telstar”. They introduced Bobby Rio to the stage and then were his backing band as Bobby launched into “The Wanderer”. Also included in Bobby's set was “My Prayer” the 1952 Platters’ hit, which needs a strong voice to sing it, and Bobby did just fine. The set closed with a cover of “Have I The Right” which made us realise just what a great crowd pleaser this song really is. We’ve never heard this song being done live before, but it certainly proved to be a dance floor filler tonight.

Next up were The Flames whose set included “Shakin’ All Over” and a Packabeats track. They then became the band in residence, as Charlie Gracie who had travelled across from the USA came on stage and started a great set of real Rockabilly type tunes. His guitar playing on some songs was fabulous (was he the forerunner to today’s guitar shredders?) and the crowd were up and dancing throughout his set, and demanded an encore, which Charlie obliged with.

After a short interval, the Flames came back on stage as the backing band for Mike Berry. Mike was dressed in black and started a rock and roll set, kicking off with “Hello Mary Lou”, “Summertime Blues” and “Please Don’t Tease”. His set also included a couple of Buddy Holly songs, and Alvin Stardust’s “Pretend”. Mike also did a couple of his own numbers – his own “Tribute to Buddy Holly” (which had been produced by Joe Meek) and then his 1980 chart hit “Sunshine of Your Smile”. He also came back on for an encore (he said he was coming back on anyway!) which was “High School Confidential” which sounded absolutely great. Again the crowd were up and dancing throughout the set.

Another short interval, and then the headline act, John Leyton was on stage, again backed by The Flames. Dressed in black leather with "J.L" embossed on the back of his jacket, he went straight into “Shout! Shout! Knock Yourself Out” which set the tone for the rest of the night – a great mix of good old rock and roll. His set was interspersed with recollections of his film and TV career, with some fond memories of Charles Bronson, with whom he had starred in “The Great Escape”. Highlights of John’s set in terms of covers were “Poetry in Motion”, “Oh Boy” (which had great backing harmonies from The Flames) and a Gene Vincent tribute with a teaser of “Be Bop A Lula” and then the full “Say Mama”. From his own repertoire of songs, we were treated to “Wild Wind”, “Tell Laura I Love her”, “Son This Is She”, “Make Love To Me” and the quintessential John Leyton classic, “Johnny Remember Me” which closed his set. Again the crowd filled the dance floor throughout and demanded more and they did get more.

As the music finished, John was called back to the stage, along with Clem Cattini (the original drummer and leader of the Tornados) who had been sitting in the audience, to be presented with a special commemorative award to mark the 50th anniversary of their musical careers by the Joe Meek Society.

This gig was quite special – it is not likely that these names will be back on stage together again, especially given that many of them are hitting 70 (if not already past that milestone). No wonder this was a complete sell out.

We had a great evening and The Beeb had the opportunity to chat with Clem Cattini (did you know that although he is 72, he has not hung up his drumsticks yet and is the drummer on Paul Weller’s new record?) and have his picture taken with him, and likewise with John Leyton.


GIG: Pipeline Convention 2010
DATE: Sunday 4th April 2010
VENUE: Metropolitan Police Sports Club, Bushey, Herts
COST: £16 in advance
RATING: Twanged Up


This was our 3rd Pipeline convention, so by now we knew more or less what to expect…… an afternoon of sorting through racks of CD’s and DVD’s for sale interspersed with live bands playing.

First on the bill was a band from the Oxford area, The Vicars of Twiddly ( A tremendously religious band, wearing the clerical robes, blessing the audience, this band was very much Ventures influenced, and also quite heavy on the organ. Not a bad act at all, and supplemented with the go-go dancing Sister Jules they were a great fun act to kick off the convention. Although we would have to say they would be better placed in a pub / club at night rather than performing on Easter Sunday! Their set was definitely entertaining, and even included the old favourite “Churchin’ Safari”

Following another browse of the mounds of CD’s for sale, we took our seats for the next band on the bill – Apollo 11. The stage curtains had been drawn while this band was setting up and the programme introduced this band, from France as having been “invited to play at the annual Spotnicks festival – and you will soon see why”. The reason for the curtains soon became clear as the curtains were pulled back, the band were dressed in the Spotnicks’ space costumes. Dramatically they were good, however their set was quite mediocre and quite melodic, rather than guitar twanging rhythm. We think the fastest track they played was “Mona Lisa”, and were quite classical with their guitar playing.

The convention timing does not allow much time for eating and in order to grab some mid-afternoon sustenance, we missed the 3rd band on the bill, The Vintage ( from Sweden. This is a young band, and from the last 3 years we have been to Pipeline the younger bands have always brought a lot of vitality and edge to the convention. After returning from lunch, we felt there was a bit of a buzz about the band so we did buy their CD and from the quality of that, we were sorry to have missed hearing them play live. We are glad we bought their CD though – the guy who sat beside us said we should get the CD signed as he felt this band was going to be big.

Next up on stage was The Shadowers ( From the name you can tell their influence is The Shadows, and the lead guitarist was certainly a doppelganger of a young Hank Marvin. Indeed, Bruce Welch from the Shadows was in the audience to watch this band. Coupled with a few years of experience in the band, from ex Shadows bassist Alan Jones and rhythm guitarist Steve Longden, this was a class band. They were tight. The lead guitarist, Justin Daish (the Hank lookalike) although young, was brimming with confidence and obviously loved playing his guitar and coaxed the notes out with seemingly little effort. This band stood out due to the fact that on occasions, Steve switched from electric guitar to acoustic (for tunes such as “Moonlight Shadow” and “Sound Of Silence”) which really made a difference. The drummer also had a spotlight slot, with a great drum solo.

The last band on the bill was a Duane Eddy tribute act. The Twang Gang started off with “Peter Gunn” with a very strong sax player. They did a few Duane Eddy numbers but in the spirit of Pipeline also did a number of other instrumentals, including a Chet Atkins number. The front man of the band also played a fantastic looking 1950’s Gretsch guitar which had actually been lent to Duane Eddy when he re-recorded a version of Pipeline. We had reservations about this band when they gathered on stage as we realised that some of the band had been guilty of constantly chattering in the background while the other bands had played, but their stage presence and great guitar & sax playing won us over and we found we really enjoyed their set.

So to sum up – another good convention day. We left the sports centre having seen some great bands and with some good CD’s ranging from Jan & Dean Take Linda Surfin’ to a Dick Dale plus some DVDs.


GIG: Dick Dale
Date: Friday 2nd April 2010
Venue: The Luminaire Club, Kilburn, London
Cost: £22.50
Rating: Truly the King of Surf Guitar

This was a highly anticipated gig, with the Luminaire’s website stating it was a sell out, and as we drove past in search of parking slot off the Kilburn High Road, we saw an orderly queue already formed ahead of the club’s doors opening at 8pm.

The support act was a 3 piece rock instrumental group from Philadelphia, Stinking Lizaveta. Their songs started with quite a surf guitar sound and ended with the gentle crescendo of cymbals, as if the surf was gently washing against the shore, and in between was a quite heavy, almost Black Sabbath sound. Not really our cup of tea.

During the Stinking Lizaveta set, the club was gradually filling and by the time the support had twanged their last note, the space from stage to the bar was filled solid with bodies.

Dick Dale took to the stage at about 9.50 and started what was a storming, bitchin’ 90 minute set which included an incredible “Ghost Riders In The Sky”, “Smoke On The Water” and “House of the Rising Sun” which had the audience singing back at Dick. He had not done a sound check so there was a bit of banter as Dick taught the sound engineer the “old school” needs of just a bit of bass, bit of treble and a bit of volume, before he got sexy with the gals at the front and then did a great “Ring of Fire” in homage to Johnny Cash. He also did a little wordy tribute to the memory of John Peel.

A set list did not exist, and Dick very much improvised and mixed songs whilst being the coolest guy in the venue, strolling around the stage playing his Fender Strat. “Let’s Go Trippin’” went down a storm, as did a tune where he played the harmonica fantastically (after professing to not know how to play it!) and another tune with a trumpet, which was very Louis Armstrong influenced. In fact, not only was his trumpeting Louie like, he did a fine vocal impersonation too.

There was also a running joke going with the bassist about him being fined $5 for basically not being able to read Dick's mind every time he went into a totally unreheased number. Dick also proved himself to be a bit of a racontour throughout the gig. That comes with playing so many gigs in such a long career.

“Hey Bo Diddley” was a particular highlight, with Dick taking up a spot alongside his drummer, and proceeding to do a fabulous tribal drums duet and ending up playing Sammy’s bass guitar with the drum sticks. This man was amazing.

There was no way the crowd was going to let Dick leave the stage without “Miserlou” and sure enough that ever so famous tune was played which had everyone stomping.

The final tune of the night was introduced after Dick thanked the crowd, and told them “you are my medicine”, a rather poignant remark given his recent battle with cancer which he seems to have won, and a remark which brought tears to Minty’s eyes. His rendition of “Amazing Grace” was just that – amazing. An incredible choice to end the night.

He left the stage to enormous applause and within minutes was back out among the crowd, giving his time generously, very kindly agreeing to have his picture taken with many of the audience and also signed photos.

This was probably the best gig of the year so far. The atmosphere was absolutely electric; some of the audience were dressed in 50’s style, with great quiff hairdos. The Beeb felt as if he could have been wandering around the set of “Grease” for a while!

Dick was a great personality on stage and the crowd loved him. He was totally amazing, as was his drummer (Brian) and his bassist (Sammy) and the sound was great.
One can only believe Dick when he explained that he'd never end his days in a wheelchair in a nursing home, and that he intends to blow up into a thousand pieces on stage during a gig. What a great attitude to have.

The Luminaire is a great venue too. It’s small enough to be a really intimate gig and frowns on people chatting over the music (which is a great policy to have!). The club encourages graffiti in their loos, and Minty even spotted a bit of graffiti promoting The Dotted Line, a band fronted by Scott Bennett, a member of Brian Wilson’s amazing band.