GIG: Donovan
DATE: Friday 3rd June 2011
VENUE: Royal Albert Hall, South Kensington, London
COST: £37.50 (plus 3.50 booking fee for the whole transaction)
RATING: Sunshine Superman


Getting into South Kensington on a Friday night with Sat Nav is not great....... St Johns Wood closed off for a major water pipe burst and major roadworks all around the Albert Hall, which meant we were mega late and then couldn't find a way into the carpark we had pre-booked (8 quid wasted).
Anyhow, parking in Hyde Park was free and literally just around the corner, so we dumped the car and got to the Albert Hall at 8.15pm.

We missed his support act - Newton Faulkner and Donovan was into his third somg when we arrived. At a suitable break, the usher let us into our box and we found that the other two people in the box had nicked our seats so they had to move!!! When we got accustomed to the dark we found out they had left the remnants of their picnic all over the floor. On the plus side, we got to hear "Universal Soldier."

As we settled down and Donovan sang "Sunny Goodge Street". Then he introduced the orchestra onto the stage. They took a while to file on and we couldn't keep clapping endlessly so the hall fell silent as the last half of the orchestra took their seats and started tuning up.

The orchestra and band comprised strings, horns, flutes, bongos, a harpsichord, piano, full drum set, glockenspiel, guitars and couple of backing vocalists. His musical collaborator, John Cameron, was the night's conductor. Long time Donovan co-hort Danny Thompson was on double bass.

"Jennifer Juniper" got a tremendous round of applause. Inbetween every two or three songs, a girl narrated Donovan's musical life story and at this time we were up to the part where he started to work with Mickie Most and then we heard "Hurdy Gurdy Man". At this point The Beeb told Minty to listen out for a great bit of guitar and then was promptly disappointed when the PRS had been turned down to "one" and hardly audible on the solo!!! Despite this, the song got a great reception from the audience.

We noticed that Donovan had a page turning Roadie - a guy who ran across the stage every now and then to turn the page of his manual autocue!

Next up was "There Is A Mountain," and then "Mellow Yellow". We thought that was the end of the first half, and given the terrific round of applause and cheers from the very appreciative audience, that would have been a real high to break on, but Donovan then went into "Lalena" which was quite down beat in comparison.

The interval was quite long compared to some other gigs we've been to, and both the loos and bar were not overcrowded so it was a really realxing break. That being said, the heart was sent racing at the cost of a glass of wine at £8.30 for a large glass of Pinot Grigio!!! (So Minty bought a bottle instead!)
Jimmy Page joins Donovan on stage

We took our seats for the second half, which was the complete "Sunshine Superman" album, and Donovan introduced to the stage, the young session from the original recording... non other than one of The Beeb's greatest guitar heroes, Jimmy Page.

The Beeb's reaction was adorable - one of total disbelief and admiration and he spent the next four minutes competely transfixed, and mouth wide open!

Jimmy Page and Donovan

"Berts Blues" was really good - the drummer was playing his drums like Bongos (and bongos were played too), and at times we heard snippets of Brian Wilson's "SMiLE" (funny that, as "Sunshine Superman" came out before SMiLE was born so just who influenced who?). "Season Of the Witch" prompted the Beeb to comment on another Led Zepplin connection - the fact that Robert Plant has been including this is his live repertoire for years.

Next up were some songs played whilst sitting on a raised, carpeted area on the left hand side of the stage, alongside a sitar player (Shawn Phillips), before which Donovan took his shoes off, so he sat playing his acoustic guitar, in socks.

At the end of the album, Donovan thanked the audience but did an encore which comprised "Sunshine Superman" and another rendition of "Mellow Yellow". Jimmy Page was brought back onto the stage to play guitar and Donovan also introduced his daughter and son (half brother and sister). The daughter had been the girl providing the narrative between songs, and his son had joined him on stage for one song during the show. His wife was also introduced on stage as his "muse".

So ended Donovan's only planned show for his rendition of his aclaimed album, which is, incidently being re-released on Monday! Minty is not familiar with Donovan's records, but enjoyed the gig tremendously. The sound in the RAH was terrific, even if the PRS was turned down and drums were behind a plastic barrier and not terribly loud! Although the show was not a complete sell out, the only obviously empty parts of the hall were up in the Gods.

We hung around the stage door at the end and The Beeb got a kiss from Donovan's wife and his picture taken with Danny Thompson who gave him a friendly bear hug.

The Beeb with Danny Thompson


GIG: International Pop Overthrow
DATE: Monday 30th May 2011
VENUE: The Bull & Gate, 389 Kentish Town Road, London, NW5 2JT
COST: £8
OUR VERDICT: Another grooving mix


The last day of the 1st Annual IPO in London began for us at act number two, Evaney ( We had seen this duo at the Liverpool IPO and had thought they were OK but not really our cup of tea. We may have done them a dis-service though. In the Bull and Gate, the sound engineer must have been much better as the standup bass was more audible, as were the bassist's backing vocals. The lead vocal didn't sound so harsh and Alana Morrisett-y and Evaney's set was really quite enjoyable.
Their first song, "Silhouette" was a great opener and another highlight for Minty was their "sad" song, "Drowning". Evette, the girl singer showed herself to be a bit of a raconteur too.

The next act, Spygenius ( delayed the start of their set in order for a few more people to drfit in. Bank Holiday Monday is not the liveliest time in London and as the Bull and Gate don't get a passing crowd of tourists every now and then (as the Cavern in Liverpool does), the audience numbers were sparse. It was a shame that many of the band's friends who had promised to come along had not infact turned up, and when they finally started their set they dedicated each song to these "absent friends", by naming them individually!
Spygenius salute Absent Friends
The set was predominently new songs which will come out on their third album and they did sound great. For us, "Skeletons" and "Summertiime" (a song about the Isle of Wight) stood out. The drums on "surf" were REALLY surf drums and gave the whole song its authenticity along with the 12 string guitar twanging. We had thought that was their last song, and time allowed an extra song to be tagged on, so out came an electric ukelele for a short, humorous song about a hairy motor biker!

We took the opportunity to grab a bite to eat and missed the next two bands, returning to see Loser Token ( Although we had seen this band ay the Liverpool IPO, our memories were a bit fuzzy and it was not until they started their last song - a Stevie Wonder medley that we remembered them. To be honest, their set was not great - one singer and a quite punk-type sound, but the Stevie Wonder medley was as good as we remembered!

Longplayer, from Sweden ( had the stage next. This five piece from Stockholm played rock and roll pop, a trait of Swedish bands, and their experience in the business showed with their set being tight. A highlight was a song called "Cool Cat Walk".

Their guitarist looked a bit like Tony Blair, and he kept coming to the front of the stage in front of the monitors to play which we felt unnecessary. Their set ended with a great version of "Good Golly Miss Molly" and the guitarist was playing with the guitar behind his head.

London based Rinaldi Sings ( was up next. Steve Rinaldi would not be out of place on the soundtrack of the great London film (starring Jude law and Ray Winstone) Love, Honour & Obey, and he plays the trombone, keyboard and sometimes just sings.
His song "Goodbye Steve McQueen" was a real treat and we felt this was the catchiest song of the day and his set included "Lucky Day" which is one of Minty's favourites from him. His backing band today included Jim on drums and Bob on guitar, both from fellow London band, Kelly's Heels (who were playing later), and we felt Bob's vocals really added a great sound and really complimented Steve's lead.
We liked his set very much.

Rinaldi Sings

Up next was supposed to be Ben Jones, doing a solo stint without his Lovedays, but he was a no-show. Instead we were treated to a second appearance from Spygenius.
Unfortunately for their keyboardist who had left the venue after their earlier performance, he missed out on this "encore", and they played without him.
This did not have any negative impact on their set. They still sounded great, and did the same set of songs as previously (with the exception of the bonus ukelele song) and threw in a couple of anectdotes as well which made us laugh. There were more people in the audience than before and they appeared to really appreciate the band stepping in like the heroes they were.

Spygenius relax

Peppermint Apes
The young Peppermint Apes ( took to the stage next and stormed through a predominently rock set. Minty was pleased they included "Dance Floor Hero" which is a partcular favourite of hers from this band and it sounded good. All four memebrs of the band appeared to enjoy being on stage and their WAGs were at the front of the stage, enjoying being sung to and winked at by their repsective boyfriends!!!

The drummer somehow managed to break the chain on the bass drum pedal, and the lead singer quickly ad-libbed and did a short, impromptu acoustic number while the pedal got fixed. Good thinking on his feet we thought.

Whilst we thought their performance was good, we were a bit disappointed that none of the band stayed to watch any of the other bands (either before or after their set), especially as audience numbers were light.

Our final band of the night, and indeed of this IPO were Kelly's Heels ( who gave us a fantastic set of great powerpop. This band is the guru of powerpop, and their vocals were spot on. Their set started with "Same Mistake", "She Doesn't Know It's Wrong" and then a new song called "Imperfect". Their set highlight was "Who's Been Cheating Who" which was just superb in our opinion (introduced as the Pink Panther one!).
Unfortunately Bob's guitar string broke and we felt they ended their set a little early as result - well we could easily have taken in much, much more of this band, guitar string or no guitar string!!!!

Kelly's Heels

It was getting late at this point and although there were two more bands to play, we left to head home. Thus ended our London IPO. Whilst the audience numbers must surely have been disappointing, we did feel that the quality of the bands, on the whole,  was great and we do hope that the IPO returns for a second stint next year.


GIG: International Pop Overthrow - London Day 3
DATE: Sunday 29th May 2011
VENUE: Bull & Gate, 389 Kentish Town Road, London NW5 2JT
COST: £8


Due to other commitments, we missed the first two days of the 1st annual IPO in London, but day 3, we were raring to go, and got to the Bull & Gate mid-afternoon and just in time to see The Soundcasters ( &!/group.php?gid=32683261704) setting up. The Sunday afternoon audience was very sparse so we almost got our "up close and personal" gig, but hats off to the band, as they played their full set, with the same gusto we saw in Liverpool. Again, their James Brown (via The Moody Blues) cover was awesome.

The Soundcasters

4th Street Traffic
Despite not long arriving we took a small break to grab some food, and came back mid-way through the set from 4th Street Traffic ( &,  a four piece from Wales. What we heard, we liked. They played some decent rock tunes, and created a big sound. Vocally they were great with the bassist adding great backing vocals to the strong lead. This band certainly has great potential in our book, and have already supported The Stereophonics and were off to play a gig with The Charlatans in Cyprus next! Their songs sound like they were written for playing in stadiums. Oh, and their CD was given away free!

Black Sun
Next up for up was the SHINDIG Showcase, starting with Black Sun ( from Sunderland. They weren't on the programme of London bands, but had played the Liverpool IPO, so we imagine they were added at fairly short notice. The lead singer had an echo in his mic, and was extremely influenced by Liam Gallagher, not only in looks but sound also. Maybe a bit too much.  Their set included a cover of "Come Up and See Me" which was a decent attempt, but fell short when there was not a bit of backing vocals added.

Dave Rave ( , from Ontario Canada was next on the bill and he kicked off his party with "Let's Face It". A highlight for us was "Anne-Marie" which is such an infectious song, we love it loads and his set was topped off with "Rock The Party" and "Let's Shake", which are two trademark Dave Rave songs and great crowd pleasers, albeit still a relatively small crowd.
Dave Rave with Marc and Simon

Dave was backed by Marc and Simon from Plastic Heroes and encouraged people to dance along with him on stage. Our host, David Bash was not shy here and jumped up right away.
David Bash joins Dave Rave on stage

Chris Wilson
Chris Wilson ( took to the stage next for an acoustic set, playing a 12 string. Chris has played with The Flamin' Groovies and also The Barracudas and he obviously has a following, as the audience was middle aged men, who knew the words to every song, even Chris' solo stuff, and there were rapturous cheers after each song.

Minty thought he sounded a bit like Uncle Bob Dylan, even when he sang an old Scottish traditional Robert Burns song. David Bash summed up his performance as "powerful and moving". The Beeb thought he was great, and had the opportunity to share a few Scottish anecdotes afterwards when they found out both of them grew up in Glasgow.

Next up, Mellowmen from Sweden ( We have seen this band every year in Liverpool so we knew what to expect from their set - a fast paced, frenetic set delivered by a band who lap up being on stage like a sponge. All of the band have stage presence, and in particular the rhytmn guitarist, who was singing along, despite not having a microphone and the drummer. who had great facial expressions, really getting into the groove!.
The main man with Mellowmen plays the keyboards and jumps around really enjoying himself, even coming out to play the maraccas in the audience.

Their song "Party at 11" really went down well (this was a highlight from their Liverpool set too). They had brought a few friends along, which swelled the audience numbers somewhat and gave a great atmosphere.

Next on the bill was the main attraction for Shindig, a band really endorsed by the magazine, Ulysses ( Jon Mills from the magazine introduced them to the stage, as "the future sound of classic rock".
On myspace their music sounds great, but when on stage, their amps go beyond 11 and we found that much of the vocals were drowned by the buzz and shred of guitars which were just that little bit too loud for the size of the venue. One of their songs reminded us a bit of "Dancing In The Street" and although there were a fair number in the stage area, about the same number of people were outside in the bar and not taking in the music.

Last up tonight was The Kinbeats ( a band we had already seen in Liverpool, and although based in Kilburn, London are originally from Germany. In Liverpool we were struck by their harmonies, which did not come as a surprise due to the fact the band is made up of three brothers and a cousin.
The Kinbeats
By this time many people had left so it was a small audience that remained to enjoy the sounds from this band. Not only can they produce some great harmonies - their song "Falling Slowly" is an almost acapella song (just a small pluck on guitar strings as accompaniment), to some great rocky numbers. All four members of the band get a chance to sing lead, and the drummer's vocals really stood out.

"Long Way Home" particularly caught our attention, and "Sail Away" had a really catchy chorus. It's a shame there weren't more people in the venue to hear them.

And a bit about he venue itself.....
This was the first time we have been to The Bull and Gate and it is an OK venue... the music room is separated from the main bar and the venue is a very basic, stage and cleared floor area with benches and tables along the perimeter. The sound is very good, and tonight's engineer, Owen set up the bands quickly, and made sure things like redundant microphones and cables were out of the way.
The ladies loos were kept clean, but you had to be careful when entering otherwise you'd knock into anyone standing by the dryer for their hands! We'll say nothing about the gents..... other than disgusting.