GIG: Argent (with support from Curved Air & Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash)
DATE: Monday 13th December 2010
VENUE: HMV Forum, Kentish Town, London
COST: £22.50 (plus 3.25 booking fee per ticket!)
RATING: I Do Believe In Miracles

Way back in 1972, a young freckle-faced 16 year old began his life-long love of watching live bands when he went with his mates to Greens Playhouse in Glasgow (later known rather more famously as the Apollo) to see Argent. And he was smitten!

Thousands of gigs, and 38 years later, that same boy, for it was The Beeb, was on his way to the HMV Forum in Kentish Town, London, to see Argent again. He wasn’t worried about the gig being a let down, because he’d seen Rod and Jim many times before with The Zombies and knew how good they were. A charity gig a couple of years ago where Russ Ballard was MD also proved the Shaded One still had “IT.”

We arrived at the venue just in time to hear the last couple of songs from Curved Air. The Beeb remembers having a poster of singer Sonja Kristina on his bedroom wall as a teenager. What we did hear sounded as if it wasn’t too bad. Sonja’s voice and hair still sounded and looked great though,

I thought seeing last weeks middle-aged Mods at the Paul Weller gig was an eye opener, but having a look around during the break here convinced me that old hippies never die...they just grey away! I can’t remember the last time I saw an ELP T-shirt and so much long hair. Still, you knew this was a crowd that liked good music too!

Martin Turner
Next up was Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash. Another favourite band from The Beeb’s youth. There have been a lot of personnel squabbling over the years between band members, and to be honest we don’t know the politics behind it all. But seeing as we’re both big Beach Boys fans, we know how these things can be. So we came with an open mind just to hear the music.

The band came on with Martin looking a bit rock starry in his leather trousers and long white Nudie type shirt. “Argus” is what the words “Classic Album” were put together for, and the band played four songs in a row from it to start the set. “The King Will Come,” “The Warrior,” “Throw Down The Sword” and, as Martin described it, the happier “Blowing Free.”

We also got another classic in “Jailbait.” The famed Wishbone Ash twin lead guitar was expertly shown when the two guitarists played each others guitars at the same time! It was nice how Martin slipped into the background to let the guitarists do their showmanship bit.

At the end during the band introductions, we got a bit of “Jingle Bells, “a short drum solo and guitarist Danny Wilson introducing Martin in a faux Spanish (Mexican?) accent for some reason. This was when we realised Danny played with Minty’s old favourites, Showaddywaddy when we saw them at The Stables. She cornered him afterwards for a chat and he was very gracious.

Having come with open minds, it has to be said Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash are a class act. Great song and great harmonies, plus entertaining to watch. Although the set was old classics, we think we’ll have to check out some of Martin’s newer stuff because he’s obviously a great songwriter.

The speed of the turn around of the bands actually caught us on the hop. While chatting to Danny and Martin the next thing we knew Argent had walked on to the stage.
Luckily we had great seats, three rows from the front and smack bang in the middle.

Russ Ballard
As The Beeb drooled at Russ’s Strat and Marshall stack, the first thing Minty said was “Oh, he looks fit!” It has to be said, Russ could easily pass for someone half his age. They opened up with the start of “The Coming Of Kohoutek,” the first track on the last Argent album Russ played on. Then we got “It’s Only Money” parts one and two before Rod went into “Keep On Rollin.”
Minty was particularly impressed by Bob drumming on “Dance Of Ages,” as well as Russ’s vocals on “Be Free.” There was some great bluesy guitar on “Sweet Mary,” before the crowd started a sing-a-long with Rod’s old Zombies hit, “She’s Not There.”

At this point Colin Blunstone was pointed out in the audience, before Russ took over the keyboards to perform a beautiful version of the song he wrote, and Colin had the big hit with, “I Don’t Believe In Miracles.” This is a personal favourite of The Beeb’s, and thought it was worth the near forty year wait for this one alone!

The HMV Forum really started to rock when, after Russ played an Irish jig, the band went into “Since You’ve Been Gone.” He even managed to somehow work the intro into the lead break during the song! The place was jumping by this time. And what better number to end with but, “Hold Your Head Up.” Always a favourite when Rod and Colin play together, this song is timeless.

Rod Argent
Of course there was an encore, and that was “God Gave Rock And Roll To You.” The perfect one to end on. There was another great crowd sing-a-long with this. By this time Russ had his famous old Fender with the holes in it, and he did his trick of throwing it up in the air and almost firing it out to the audience too.

Russ Ballard
This may have been a bit of a trip down memory lane for The Beeb, but without a doubt this was a band that seemed glad to be playing together today. Who knows, maybe they could get back together sometime in a studio. We can’t wait another 38 years for that to happen though.

That wasn’t the end of the excitement for us tonight though. It was nearly midnight, and on the way home we were pulled over by the police just as we reached the house. Blue lights flashing and everything. They were just checking the car wasn’t stolen. Amazingly they already had our details before stopping us, so we were OK. Thank god they didn’t check the boot!!!

The Beeb after the gig, clutching the Set List!


GIG: The Flaming Cortinas
DATE: Saturday 11th December 2010
VENUE: British Legion, Croxley Green, Watford, Herts
COST: freebie
RATING: Flaming Groovy

This time it is Minty reviewing The Beeb, as he appears with The Flaming Cortinas for their 2nd ever gig with this line-up. The band are a four piece who do 60’s and 70’s covers.

Dressed all in black, with fluorescent ties, the 4 piece takes to their stage and kick off with “Old Time Rock and Roll”. Their 1st set takes you through a bit of Santana and “Black Magic Woman” (with a guest on vocals – I think he is a member of another local band), and amongst others, John Lennon’s “Ballad Of John and Yoko”, T-Rex, Free and The Beatles being “Back in The USSR”. Some people were still wandering into the hall when they did a fantastic rendition of Badfinger’s “No Matter What” and you could see them giving a second look and “strutting” to their tables, singing along. The 1st set was rounded off with a bit of the Big O singing about his “Pretty Woman”. All members of the band, (Mark, Clive, Steve and of course The Beeb) share lead vocals which gave a great mix of voices and fitted the songs in the set just fine.

When The Flaming Cortinas started playing, with the venue being a club, rather than a music venue, most of the audience, who had only just arrived and were seated towards the back, generated an awful lot of background noise as everyone caught up with everyone else’s business. That kind of background buzz can be quite annoying when you are trying to listen to a band play, and it brought back memories of the notices up at London’ Luminere club telling the audience to go outside if they want to talk!!! If only.....

Even the raffle and auction in the interval was hard going, as everyone seemed to ignore the proceedings and carry on with their chatter! It was a wonder that £1,000 was actually raised!

The 2nd set seemed to get more attention, and even had some people up dancing and jiving. Included in the this set, alongside a bit of Bowie’s “Man Who Sold The World” and The Rolling Stones “Jumping Jack Flash”, was a Rock and Roll mix of “Rock Around The Clock”, “Oh Boy”, “Hippy, Hippy Shake” and a rather tremendous version of “Twist and Shout”.

“Living Next Door To Alice” was a bit of a highlight. This is a song not normally found in a covers band’s set and I don’t think the drummer, Clive, heard the back of the room singing along with the alternate version because he gave up on the official version and sang the “naughty” bit instead!!!

The night ended with a medley of “Money” and “Mony, Mony” which went down very well and sounded good and rounded off with the “Hokey Cokey” complete with the dance that accompanies it!!!!

So for a 2nd gig, this was not bad at all. The lighting was not great, so the video I shot had loads of shadow, and considering there was just a basic PA system, they sounded rather good.


GIG: Paul Weller
DATE: Saturday 4th December 2010
VENUE: SECC, Glasgow
COST: a small fortune but well worth it!
RATING: That WAS Entertainment

(Just The Beeb reporting on this one)

The last time I saw Paul Weller was in 1977, when The Jam played their first ever gig in Glasgow. That was in a tiny little club where the band had to stop playing a few times because the P.A. system kept threatening to topple over because the crowd was so energetic and up-close. 33 years later, having followed and enjoyed his oeuvre, I got to see him for the first time since. Strangely enough, back in Glasgow again. This time it was in the rather larger venue of the 12,000 capacity SECC.

It was funny seeing all those people, many of whom I’d imagine would have been safety-pin faces teenagers the last time I saw him, strolling into the SECC looking so middle aged. I bet lots of them also went to see Michael Buble recently too!

The fact that the gig was actually ON in the first place was a bit of a relief, because the next night’s gig in Aberdeen had already been called off due to the worst weather in Scotland for 50 years.

Paul took to the stage looking his usual cool self and started off the set with the title track from his new album, “Wake Up The Nation.” Straight away we knew this was a band that were going to enjoy what they were going to play. This was the case as they proceeded to play the title track from the LAST album, “22 Dreams.”

His new songs are amongst the best he’s ever done, but the excitement level did rise when he then went into the old Jam classic, “Eton Rifles.” After a further mixture of Jam and solo songs, including “Strange Town” and “From The Floorboards Up,” we were treated to the real psychedelic experience of a five track suite from “22 Dreams.” This was just amazing. What a masterpiece this is, and to hear it being done live brought home how good Paul’s band are. Steve Craddock and Paul both work really well together on guitars, and I enjoyed being geeky and taking in all the guitar changes they both made.

After a nod to the very under-rated Style Council (Shout To The Top) a few more new songs then led into “Pretty Green” and “Start” from The Jam. “Echoes Round The Sun” finished the first set.

When the band came back they went into more psychedelic magic in the shape of “Andromeda.” I just LOVE this stuff! A couple more songs and then we had the second encore.

This was to take us right back to the very start of his career with a powerful version of “Art School,” and the very last song was an electric version of “That’s Entertainment.” I was quite pleased with the whole gig, but my daughter was up in arms because he didn’t do “A Town Called Malice.” I had to remind her he had hundreds of songs to choose from, and he had to leave a load of classics out.

On the way out I couldn’t believe crowds of people were singing “We are the Mods.” Well it made us laugh! A top gig from a top bloke live.


GIG: The Beatles Experience, Jay McGee & Matt+Duncan+Christie
DATE: Friday 26th / Saturday 27th November 2010
VENUE: Hoburn Naish Holiday Park, New Milton
COST: shared cost of a Lodge, with the entertainment included
RATING: Not such a breakdown afterall

The annual Girls Weekend away (Minty only on this one) kicked off Friday afternoon, with a surprisingly quick drive down to the South Coast, to New Milton’s Hoburn Naish Holiday Park.
Venturing out of the Lodge in the snow flurry that evening, we dined in the “pub” area, and then headed into the entertainment lounge where we found a spare table in a corner and caught “Ticket To Ride”, the last song from the 1st set of “The Beatles Experience” – yep, you’ve guessed it, a Beatles tribute band.

The Beatles Experience
Their 2nd set was late 60’s Beatles material, kicking off with “Help!” and progressing through “Taxman”, “Nowhere Man”, “All You Need Is Love” and “We Can Work It Out” (which was apparently No1 on Mary’s birthday) to name just a few. Not sure if the guys were actually from Liverpool, or if their scouse accents were put on, but they sounded and looked like the Beatles.

Their final (planned) song was “Hey Jude”, a song I always associate with the Queens Golden Jubilee concert when this song went on forever as the TV cameras panned both the throngs of people in the Mall and the mass of artists on the stage at Buckingham Palace!!!

The band did an encore, although they never left the stage! They did get the crowd up and dancing and to be honest, they were not bad at all.

Jay McGee

Night 2 did not quite go according to plan. We were expecting Amen Corner to be on the bill, but as we entered the entertainment lounge the audience were being tickled by a comedian instead.... Jay McGee (from the Rockin Berries) was entertaining everyone as (we were told later), Amen Corner’s Tour Bus had broken down and so they were unable to make the gig. Jay was really quite amusing, with some seriously funny jokes (some quite close to the knuckle) and some great singing (really liked his version of Elvis' American trilogy).

He did meet his match with Mags who was more interested in getting our buckets of wine rather than bantering with him just after we had entered the room and she cut him short to tell him she needed alcohol and walked off to the bar!!!!

The 2nd half of the night’s entertainment was provided by the resident “entertainment managers”, Matt and Duncan, with a bit of help from Christie who had been called up from another holiday camp to help out.

What we got was an hour or so of fun, frolics and really good entertainment without it being the stereotypical holiday camp in-house type of thing, with the guys making a fantastic night out what could have been quite a disaster.

The guys were very funny, mixing jokes, ad-libbing and a bit of singing to keep our minds from the disappointment of Amen Corner’s no show! Christie was a really strong singer, and wore a lovely dress to boot as well.
Matt & Duncan
At the end of the night, we all agreed that we felt we enjoyed their impromptu show more than we would have enjoyed Amen Corner.
Again Mags showed her comedic form, when the guys said they were called “Symbolic” and Mags heckled, “Shambolic, you mean” which had the whole audience in hysterics!!!

A great weekend..... apparently the Rockin Berries are on the bill next year...

Duncan meets The Girls