GIG: The Union Gap & The Fortunes
DATE: Friday 27th November & Saturday 28th November 2009
VENUE: Hoburne Naish Holiday Park, New Milton, Dorset.
COST: accomodation for the weekend in a rather nice Lodge
RATING: Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

This “gig” was in fact, a girls weekend away, in a 3 bedroom lodge at Hoburne Naish Holiday Park on the south coast, and included 2 nights of cabaret. Just Minty along for the ride, no Beeb at this one.

On the Friday night, The Union Gap were performing in the club. We entered the room as Reg, the entertainments manager was in the middle of the 60’s music quiz. Too late to participate, we found a spare table, ordered our drinks and made ourselves comfortable.
Around 9pm, The Union Gap took to the stage after what was probably one of the longest introductions I’ve ever heard:- a Top 40 style recorded countdown, which covered many places in the chart before the No 5 chart position was announced, at which point the band struck up with one of the 2 hits I know of – “Lady Willpower”, but without Gary Puckett fronting the band, it didn’t sound like the version I was familiar with.

The rest of the first half of the show was filled with 60’s covers, including “Out Of Time”, “Flowers In the Rain”, “Great Balls Of Fire” and “Daydream Believer”. On their rendition of Runaway (and a bit of a Del Shannon medley tagged on the end) you could hardly hear the keyboard / organ being played (which is the soul of that song imho).

Overall, this was just a 60’s covers band, and a fairly poor quality one at that, trading on a name associated with a couple of hit singles. There was nothing to make this band stand out, and although some of the audience did get up and start dancing and jiving, the fairly lengthy song introductions and general banter from the band members meant any momentum they got going came to swift end at the end of each song as the audience sat down during the chit chat!

We retired to the bar at the interval and didn’t go back for the 2nd half.

Saturday night, and seizing the moment when the rain let up briefly, we crossed the mud laden park to the club for that night’s entertainment. Tonight we were settled at our table before the quiz, so we took part this time, eventually winning it after a head to head with another team! A sparkler and a washed old sock were our prize!

Around 9.30, The Fortunes took to the stage and started with “Here It Comes Again”, a cover of Dusty Springfield’s “I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself” and the Everly’s “Cryin’ In The Rain” which had a bit of a Moody Blues feel to it, with some effects from the keyboard. The keyboardist was introduced to the audience, Bob Jackson who had previously been with Badfinger, which led right into a Badfinger song, “No Matter What” and later in the set “Without You”. The audience were up on their feet, dancing for most of the time, and other highlights included “Here Comes The Sun”, “You’re My World”, “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore”, “You’ve Got Your Troubles” and as they came to the end of their set, the band reacted to audience calls of “more, more” were with “Wonder Of You” which had everyone waving their hands in the air and singing along. The final song really rocked, “Hold On Tight To Your Dreams” and ended a really jolly night.

Afterwards, the band made themselves available to sign copies of their CD and pose for pictures, which was a really nice gesture.

So, Saturday’s entertainment went down much better than Friday’s. The Fortunes really stood out as professional musicians, encouraged the audience and sounded very good, not only performing their own songs, but doing the covers too.


GIG: Larry & the Streamers
DATE: Saturday 7th November 2009
VENUE: The Sutton Arms, Southchurch Road, Southend on Sea, Essex
COST: Free
RATING: Like the drums..SPARKLING.

Larry & The Streamers, a 3 piece (drums, guitar and bass) took to the stage not long after 9.30pm, and performed a blazing first set. Interspersed with whimsical and informative comments from Mark, the bass player, filling in background to the songs and song writers (Graham Gouldman featured a lot). Just some of the highlights of the first set were, “For Your Love”, “I Like It”, “Pictures of Lily” and “Waterloo Sunset” which, from the second the intro started, you knew it was going to sound great.

Their set list is not your standard covers fare. Although the bulk of the songs played were from the best British bands, like The Who, The Kinks, Beatles etc…there was also a healthy helping of lesser heard live covers like The Hollies and The Move. They also threw in some US hits, such as the Everly Brothers’ “Cathy’s Clown”, and Scott McKenzie’s “San Francisco” to name just two! This variety really gives the band an edge over other covers bands.

The Beeb’s 12 string Strat, “Twiggy” had her debut tonight, when Eddie, the guitarist tried it out on a few songs, starting with the jingly jangly “Mr Tambourine Man”, leading into “California Dreamin’” (including a stunning lead break) and then a reflection of the Kinks’ “Days”.

By the end of the first set, the floor in front of the stage were filled with some of the crowd jiving and dancing, some even dressing the part with quiffs and brothel creepers as though they were back in the late 50’s / early 60’s. It was obvious some of the audience were regulars who knew what to expect, and this helped create a great atmosphere in the venue.

The 2nd half started as the band meant to go on, straight into “Doo Wah Diddy” which had everyone up jiving again. And it stayed that way for the whole of the second half. Larry & The Streamers’ repertoire is vast and some of the highlights from the 2nd set were “Flowers in the Rain”, “Pretty Woman”, “Baby Come Back” which went seamlessly into “Glad All Over” and then into “Hold Tight” all of which sounded superb.

Even “Daydream Believer” had Minty singing along, and it was a shame when time was called just after mid-night, and after more than 2 hours playing, they ending with “Sunny Afternoon”.

These guys are consummate professionals, not only did they wear matching suits, but what really made them stand out from many other bands was that they didn’t need to hold a discussion about what to play next – and if they had a set list, it wasn’t on show anywhere. There were no mistakes, no false starts. Just pure entertainment and we thoroughly enjoyed every minute.
This was such a well prepared and thought out set, it really came across as a perfectly paced night of music.

Check out their MySpace page which lists their forthcoming gigs – these guys are in demand and are BUSY! After hearing them live, it’s easy to understand why.

And the customary round up about the venue and loos – the pub lends itself to live music, with a decent stage area and wooden floor with plenty of room around the stage. The staff were very friendly, and remembered our round! The loos….. Clean, the air hand dryers worked and there was still loo roll after 11 o’clock!


GIG: The Beached Boys (appearing at Beach Boys STOMP convention)
DATE: Saturday 3rd October 2009
VENUE: The Canal Suite, Lakeside Complex, Frimley Green, Surrey
COST: Included in £25 cost of convention ticket
RATING: As close to the original sound that you’ll ever get

The Beached Boys provided the musical entertainment at this year’s Beach Boys STOMP convention, kicking off at 12.30 with the classic opener “California Girls”, swiftly followed with two of the early surfing songs, “Surfin’” and Brian Wilson’s first composition, “Surfer Girl”. That was a terrific start, with great vocals, tight harmonies and great sound coming from the guitars, drums and keyboard. The next song, “Catch A Wave” was exceptional, with the 2 members of the band sharing the lead sounding superb (Alan and George aka Bruce Johnston & Carl Wilson). Band introductions led into “Little Deuce Coupe”, then “Surf City” which had a great falsetto (from David aka Brian Wilson), “All Summer Long” and then slowed down for a great a capella “Then Your Dream Comes True”.

A switch around on stage allowed the drummer (Paul, aka Dennis Wilson) to come out from behind his drum kit and take the lead on “Then I Kissed Her” before taking his seat back behind the kit for a fantastic version of “Hawaii”. Next up was a bit of a treat; the harmonious “Don’t Worry Baby” with a bit of “Hushabye” segued into the instrumental break. This was totally flawless and worked so well….. many of the audience commented on this afterwards.
Next up was one of our favourite tracks from the ‘Today’ album, “Good To My Baby” which flowed seamlessly into “Darlin’”.

The next song is a bit of a rarity when it comes to a Beach Boys playlist, let alone the set list of a tribute band - “Aren’t You Glad” from the ‘Wild Honey’ album. This type of surprise always goes down well with a Beach Boys fan-base in the audience, and there was no exception to that today.
Then it was back to the earlier part of the Beach Boys’ career, with “409” and “Sloop John B” followed by another treat for the audience, “Breakaway”. This is not an easy song to perform and in the past Brian Wilson’s band has even struggled to get it right. The lead (John, aka Alan Jardine) today on this song was suffering a bit from the effects of a cold and sore throat, but still coped admirably with the lead vocal and the backing harmonies were absolutely spot on.
The last two songs of the first set, “God Only Knows” and “I Get Around” were very much appreciated by the audience and as the band left the stage, we were left to comment on just how good they had sounded.

The Beached Boys took to the stage again 3 hours later and enhanced their reputation as being the best Beach Boys tribute band on the circuit with their 2nd set. Most of the audience did a double take when they saw the lead vocalist (Kevin, aka Mike Love) – he had donned a peaked cap and looked alarmingly like Mike Love! Kicking off with yet another ‘treat’ with “You’re Welcome” and then a totally terrific version of “Little Girl I Once Knew” before leading into one of the big crowd pleasers, “Fun, Fun,Fun”. By this point the rhythm guitarist (John) had switched to a lovely acoustic ovation which really stood out during “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” and “I Can Hear Music” (which had yet another terrific lead vocal). The lead guitarist (George) also switched to an Ovation acoustic guitar and we were delighted with 2 tracks from the ‘Party’ album, “Mountain Of Love” and “Tell Me Why”.

Back to the electric guitars and the band performed another highlight of the afternoon, “Little Honda”, and then back to the surfing roots with, “Surfin’ Safari” and “Surfin’ USA” which had some of the audience up and dancing.
Next up was “Car Crazy Cutie” another song you would not expect to be in a tribute band’s set list. This sounded really fresh and seemed to go down well with the fans. “Cottonfields” was really enhanced with the cotton-picking guitar licks throughout the song, and then the audience was truly spoiled with a “Til I Die” which just oozed harmony. “Sail On Sailor” has been a regular addition to the Beached Boys set list, and they do the song justice.

“Dance, Dance, Dance” led straight into “Do You Wanna Dance” and then the Beached Boys asked if we wanted to “Do It Again”, which was another highlight for us. “Help Me Rhonda” was the penultimate song, the final one being the infamous “Good Vibrations”.
Calls for more from the audience brought the band back to the mics, and with instruments set aside, our ears were filled with a luscious a cappella version of “Heroes & Villains”. The audience’s appreciation for this terrific tribute band was still reverberating around the hall long after the band had left the stage.

That was the 3rd time, this year that we have seen this terrific Beach Boys tribute band. They are not your usual run of the mill tribute band – they are fans themselves, and really endeavour to re-create the vocal arrangements and harmonies that Brian Wilson produced on record. Today, you could have closed your eyes and really believed you were listening to the real thing.

If they were a traditional tribute band, covering only the big hits, we would quickly become bored but the variety of their repertoire (whether their audience are casual or die-hard Beach Boys fans) always means that we get something that surprises us, whether it’s a new song added or a slightly different vocal arrangement. They certainly deserve the accolade of being the best Beach Boys tribute band on the circuit, and if they make an appearance near your home town, make sure you get along to see them.


GIG: Mari Wilson
Date: Saturday 26th September 2009
Venue: Old Town Hall, High Street, Hemel Hempstead, Herts
Cost: £12
Rating: Happy In Hemel

It has only been a few weeks since we last saw Mari performing (see the review from 6th Sept) so we did not expect a major deviation from what we had experienced with that show. We were, however, treated to another great performance, the sound was well mixed, Mari sparkled, and the set list had two extra songs included.

An addition to the line up from the last gig was guitarist Matt Backer who contributed some wonderful bits of lead as well as some gorgeous and sympathetic accompaniment to Adrian York's old school teacher's upright piano. Well it LOOKED like a school piano, but Adrian still managed to make it sound like a Steinway! It's still open for debate as to who had the most shimmiest shoes on tonight - Mari's white-silver shiny glitzy heels or Matt's dazzling shiny silver trainers!

The Beeb was excited by Matt's choice of gig gear. A vintage Gibson 335 was plugged into an old 1949 Fender amp. It sounded amazing. One minute there was honey dripping blues wailing out, the next it was the coolest laid back jazz chords. Wonderful stuff. And for some of the softer numbers in the second half of the set, he switched to a Taylor acoustic.

Adrian sat back behind the piano looking quite relaxed for most of the gig. He really looked like he was enjoying trading licks with Matt whenever they had the chance to do so. As always, his piano solo on Wild Horses (not the Susan Boyle version) was a highlight.

With the set list similar to the last gig, we won't comment on all of the songs, but will highlight a few that really stood out tonight. Mari's singing seemed to come effortlessly on all of the songs and she sounded particularly exquisite on the Paul McCartney song, “My Love” and another stellar performance was delivered on the emotional "I'm Getting There". “Do You Mind” had a nice guitar solo and a great boogie-woogie piano break and Mari’s version of Ellie Greenwich’s song “Be My Baby” is fast becoming a treasure. The additional songs in the set tonight were “Right For You” and "Have You Got What It Takes" both from the ‘Emotional Glamour’ CD, the latter being a very a catchy, Motown-like, girly type song with a "shimmy shimmy baby" hook.

Hearing Mari's new songs from her One Woman show again is quite a frustrating experience though. They sound so good and fill your head with images just like the old days before video. The frustrating bit is having to wait for the stage show to come together so that the songs can be fully realised. Still, the storylines in the songs pretty much guarantees that show will be a winner.

No two Mari shows are ever the same. Constant interaction with the audience keeps her on her toes. A great raconteur, her spontaneous stories plucked from her life's rich tapestry are always different and very amusing (the references to that morning's blow dry had the audience giggling), and now and again touched with poignancy, such as the story about her Dad's false teeth.
The Old Town Hall in Hemel Hempstead is a good sized venue for a show like this. The venue was recommended to Mari by Barb Jungr and it certainly brought out a good sized and very appreciative audience.

Mari has one more show scheduled – 1st November at Pizza Express Jazz Club in London. Check out her website or Myspace page for more details.

For those not familiar with Matt Backer, his CD 'The Impulse Man' is worth checking out. Not only does it demonstrate his strength as a guitarist and vocalist, the songs (all bar one written/co-written by Matt) are strong too.
The songs are all filled with rockin’ riffs and clever guitar licks and will have you tapping your feet along to the powerpop type tunes.

BMX BANDITS with The Primary 5 & Randolph's Leap

GIG: BMX Bandits, The Primary 5, Randolph’s Leap
DATE: Saturday September 12th 2009
VENUE: The Classic Grand, 18 Jamaica Street, Glasgow
COST: £8 (plus handling fee)
Classic Gig on a Grand Scale

The gig kicked off slightly earlier than we had expected, so we missed the first 20 minutes of the first act. Randolph’s Leap, a conduit for Adam Ross, played primarily an acoustic set. The group included a cello and a violin player which made this slightly more interesting than the usual run-of-the-mill acoustic type band. With vocals provided solely by Adam, it was a gentle start to the night, easing us into what was a brilliant night of music. Randolph's Leap may be an aquired taste to the casual listener, but there was certainly something intriguing about the songs.

Next up was a band we have heard about, but not really listened to before. The Primary 5 is actually a six piece and their first number had 3 electric guitars, 1 acoustic and a bass. By the end of the 2nd song, (which had a very “Spector influenced” drum beat), one of the guitarists demonstrated his diversity by taking up tambourine, hand clapping and also a bit of keyboard. Vocals were delivered by Paul Quinn (ex Teenage Fanclub) and Jamie Houston and they sounded great. There is a fixation with West Coast of Scotland bands emulating the sound of the West Coast of the US, and when one of the guitarists swapped his electric guitar for a 12 string (a Rickenbacker look-a-like), the Byrds influence came through.

There was quite a bit of guitar tuning in between songs, and this gave Paul Quinn the chance to explain that the black and white striped top he was wearing was in honour of Jimmy Johnstone, a Celtic Football club legend. He went on to quip that it wasn’t green and white stripes as it reflected the days when he used to watch the football on a black and white TV!

We are not familiar with their material, so we can’t really provide song names, but for their penultimate number, the Spector influence was back, with the distinctive Wall of Sound drumbeat and sleighbells at the start. Their final song (which we did catch the name of), “Mailman” was a rousing number, and was a very strong song to finish the set with.

We were delighted with their performance, and we’d certainly take the opportunity to see them play live again.

The headline band, The BMX Bandits, has been around in a few guises for over 20 years, and tonight was the first time we were seeing them with a slightly changed line up –the return of Jim McCulloch into the band, and also Findlay McDonald and Jim Gash . We had no reason to be apprehensive of anything sounding different, because the Bandits’ songs are strong enough to hold their own. We had driven 400 miles in order to see this gig and we were not disappointed at all. The band was tight, the lead vocals and the harmonies sounded really great throughout, and the sound was excellent (can’t remember the sound engineer’s name, but Duglas gave him a well deserved mention at the end of the show).

The set started with the bright and chirpy, “Do You Really Love Me” which included a short kazoo solo from front man, Duglas Stewart. The set list tonight really allowed Rachel Allison’s vocals to shine, particularly on “Doorways” from the ‘Bee Stings’ CD, and “Thinkin’ ‘Bout You Baby”, a Brian Wilson song, which was recorded by his then wife Marilyn with her group Spring, and which eventually morphed into the Beach Boys’ “Darlin’”. Rachel’s vocals on this song were fantastic, and Minty thinks they should put it up on their MySpace page again, because everyone deserves to hear it!

A particular highlight was a song from the new BMX Bandits album, “Help Me Somebody”, which is extremely catchy, with terrific harmonies from Rachel and David Scott. Other songs included in the set list were E102 (which was the Bandits’ first ever single, back in the Mid 80’s,) "Elegant Lines" which had a young competition winner given the chance to play extra keyboards with the band, "The Sailor's Song" and "I Wanna Fall In Love."

We had an encore tonight – 2 quick songs as the curfew was tight in the venue, and they were very much appreciated by the audience.

Duglas was on top form tonight, eating his customary apple on stage, and providing lots of humour; encouraging the audience to gather closer to the stage (because we smelled nice!), reminding us of Zammo’s warning to ‘just say no’ when he introduced the song “Serious Drugs”, commenting on his new (short) haircut (people were starting to mistake him for Rachel!) and changing his shoes on stage for one song.

The Classic Grand is a fantastic venue, with reasonably priced beer. The bar staff is either very well trained or we just drink a lot, because they remembered the order every time The Beeb visited the bar for our refills! The loos were OK too.

And a final word on the music that was being played in between the bands…. Sounded like a fantastic selection of Girl Group related songs, which we found out afterwards, had been handpicked by Duglas…. Great choice of songs.

Mari Wilson

DATE: Saturday September 5th 2009
VENUE: Pizza On The Park, 11 Knightsbridge, London, SW1
COST: £15 (plus the cost of your dinner)
RATING: Glammed Up

Another gig, another Wilson. This time it wasn’t a well known sweaty Rock and Roll venue, but the sensational Mari Wilson in the more intimate and up market Pizza On The Park in Knightsbridge, London. The Beeb even wore his glad rags and not a T shirt for this outing!
The signs for the way the evening was going to go started with us being able to park the car right next to the venue. Not often that happens in this part of the town. When we went downstairs and were shown to our table in front of the stage we knew we were in for a treat. Great seats.

The venue is very reminiscent of Ronnie Scott’s club in a way. Intimate and friendly. Service was very swift and we had our meals scoffed and were licking our lips before the show started.

It surprised us to realise it had been over a year since we had seen Mari perform. Last time was with a full band line up during a long UK tour, this time it was just Mari and her musical partner Adrian York on piano. Mari always looks nothing less that totally glamorous and tonight was no exception. She just LOOKS like a star!

The show kicked off with her cover of the old Doris Day hit, “Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps,” that you may know as the theme tune from the TV show “Coupling.” A new song in the set was McCartney’s “My Love.” On the record the guitar instrumental is one of the Beeb’s all time spine tingling favourites, and he was worried how this was going to work with just a piano. No need to worry, Adrian carried it off with his own sublime take of it. It worked very well indeed.

Mari has been working on a one woman musical show for a while now, and she treated us to some songs from it. “Hits and Misses” is a clever, infectious little song that will stick in your head. “Killing Time” isn’t what you would call a chirpy pop song. In writing a song like this, Mari has obviously dug deep from a pool of sadness somewhere along the road. What it does show is the twists and turns that the musical could take.

“Goody Goody” gave Adrian the chance to show off his best boogie-woogie skills.

And then a treat, Bruce Johnston’s “Disney Girls” was back in the set for tonight’s performance. Mari sings this song so well; you can close your eyes and just imagine you are back in 50’s America, sitting on the porch with ‘mom” and ‘pop’ and Junior having to do his chores.

One of the great things about a Mari gig is her little vignettes about her life and life in general. Having been living in Los Angeles for the past couple of months there was a wealth of ammunition in her cannon. Tales of jay-walking and 80 year olds in the gym had the audience grinning from ear to ear. She is such a natural entertainer on stage we won’t spoil you with her tales. It would be much better if you went along to hear them for yourself.

“Dance With A Stranger” was followed by a bit of audience participation on “Close To You,” before ending the first set with a powerful performance of “I Close My Eyes,” that she used to do when she starred in the musical “Dusty.”

With a quick change of clothes and a chance for some of the audience to finish off their puddings Mari was soon back on stage with “An Occasional Man,” and a lovely tribute to late Ellie Greenwich with her “Be My Baby,” followed by the old Anthony Newly song “Do You Mind.”

A firm favourite in Mari’s shows over the years has been Mick and Keef’s “Wild Horses.” Once again Adrian comes to the fore with a wonderful piano solo. It takes all that the Beeb has every time, not to sing along out loud on the chorus of this one. This is definitely one of the highlights of the show.

Another couple of songs from her up-coming show followed, one of which “Moving In,” all about a woman’s perspective of a guy moving in with her, had the Beeb really worried at one point! The other was a hilarious number called ‘Forever Young.” Both of these songs are on her latest album “Emotional Glamour,” that comes highly recommended by us.

Digging deep from that emotional well again, comes what could be Mari’s best ever vocal on record. “I’m Getting There” may be a song about believing the future will be better, but to believe that in the first place you think to yourself that she must have been down some dark, dangerous road in the first place. In the same way you believed Roy Orbison actually lived every word of every song he sang, one has the same feeling listening to Mari put herself through the wringer for this one. The record is great, but hearing her do it live is almost chilling.

“I Don’t Want To Play In Your Yard,” is a nostalgic little song from yonks ago that was dedicated to her old Dad. Last song of the set was a rousing “I Think I Love You,” and has Mari running round the stage like a whirlwind telling as many people in the audience that she can that she loves them!

Mari and Adrian then came back for the encore and treated us to a couple of her old hits, the gorgeous “Cry Me A River,” and of course “Just What I always Wanted.”

So finally, any apprehensions there may have been about not having a band with her were totally unfounded. What was shown was that the songs Mari chooses to sing are all so good, that they DO work stripped down to the bone. She picks some real gems to sing there’s no doubt, but the really interesting thing is that the songs she and Adrian have written really stand up alongside all those classics. This musical that Mari is working on really sounds like it could be a winner. The songs we heard from it are all so strong and vividly observed from life itself. We can’t wait till it’s finished.

Mari is back in London, this time at the Pizza Express Jazz Club, on 1st November, and has a couple of shows lined up in between. Check out her official website and Myspace page for more info

Pizza on the Park is a lovely venue. It’s not your usual Pizza Express where the wooden floors exacerbate the noise level of people chatting – it is softly carpeted and has a Grand Piano in the corner of the stage, and up-lighting illuminating the white curtain decorating the back of the stage. The tables are laid out so that everyone has a view of the stage, and the staff were mindful during the time Mari was on stage, holding back on taking / delivering food orders until the interval. Even the audience showed respect with total attention during the show – there were no side conversations that we have had to often ‘endure’ at other venues, while trying to take in the artist performing.

The loos? Well they were clean and well stocked, but only 2 cubicles which meant a bit of a queue….. Minty bets that the mens’ had more! The Beeb keeps his toilet secrets to his self!


GIG: Brian Wilson
DATE: Thursday September 3rd 2009
VENUE: The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm Road, Camden, London, NW1 8EG
COST: £35 standing
RATING: Blake's 7 (out of this world!)

Brian Wilson was back in the UK, on a mini tour this week, taking in Glasgow, Liverpool and London - all in 3 days. The Roundhouse in Camden was the venue for the London show, and when the doors opened at 7pm, there was a sizeable queue around the block. There was no delay in getting into the venue and we made our way into the standing area, not far from the front of the stage.

This was billed as a Greatest Hits show; the “hits” were mainly from the era up to and including Pet Sounds but there were many songs included in the set which might not be recognisable to the casual Beach Boys fan; tracks from Brian’s solo work, “Imagination”, “Getting In Over My Head” and his most recent release “That Lucky Old Sun”.

Brian and his band appeared on stage promptly at 8pm, and started the 1st set with “Do It Again”. This being our umpteenth time of seeing the legend live on stage, the opening number was very apt! Straight away, the audience standing near us were clapping along, dancing on the spot (no room to dance other than the spot you were on) which made a great atmosphere.

The set took us through the energetic, “Dance, Dance, Dance” through the teenage angst of the Beach Boys most obvious nod to The Beatles with “Girl Don’t Tell Me” (that Brian dedicated to John Lennon) to the hopeful, “Then I Kissed Her” (in honour of co-writer Ellie Greenwich who sadly passed away last week) and the solitary “In My Room.” These were followed by a couple of songs you wouldn’t usually find on a hits compilation - “Salt Lake City” and “Custom Machine” rounded off the first of the early era “hits”. Brian delivered a storming performance of “Soul Searching” which also included a front of the stage sax solo from Paul Mertens, and “Desert Drive”; songs that appeared on his 2007 solo release, “Getting In Over My Head”.

Next up was “Please Let Me Wonder”, usually a luscious, harmony-filled song but tonight, it was lacking something (maybe the backing vocals of the “missing in action” musical director Darian Sahanaja who was unable to join the tour this time due to previous commitments?) and it fell a bit flat. Jeffrey Foskett took the lead on “Don’t Worry Baby”, another song that hits the highs in terms of harmonies, His vocals were great but we feel the sound engineer could have upped the microphone level as the level was really on a par with a backing vocal rather than a lead.

A soft vocal introduction from Taylor Mills, the only gal in the band, which would send goosebumps down the spine of any testosterone-laden male, led into the rocky “Marcella” which really raised the level of the concert. It is very obvious that the band love playing this song, and Scott Bennett delivered a stellar guitar solo during it. The first half of the show culminated in a short burst of “Rolling Around Heaven” segueing into the timeless classic “California Girls” and as the final bars were being played, Brian got up from behind his keyboard, and left the stage for the interval………

The interval seemed to be very short (or the queue for the bar to get a couple of bottles of water was very long and slow!) and before we knew it, the band was coming back onto stage and Brian was encouraging the audience to sing along with “Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream….”.

We couldn’t fight our way through the masses of people to take up the same place we held during the 1st half, so had to be content with a space towards the back of the venue while Brian took us on a ride telling us about the “Little Girl I Once Knew”, singing about “All Summer Long”, and his “Little Deuce Coupe”. Next up was “Add Some Music” which is (in our opinion) the highlight of the 1970 album “Sunflower”. This song just touches every part of your body, from the hair on the back of your neck right through to your little toe. Whilst we prefer this song being performed as part of an “acoustic set” Brian has included in past shows, with the full instrumentation it still delivered.

“Wouldn’t It Be Nice” seemed to go down very well with the crowd, getting a rapturous applause, but that could not top the reaction given to the heavenly “God Only Knows” which followed. Brian asked everyone to stand up for this one (he’s a funny guy!) and just about everyone sang along to the chorus. The applause afterwards died down only when Brian started the next sequence of songs which were from his latest album, ”That Lucky Old Sun”, beginning with “Midnight’s Another Day” leading in to “Going Home” an upbeat groovy song which had heads nodding, and closing with “Southern California” a softer, more laid back number which creates images of a hot, dry summer in, you’ve guessed it, Southern California, with the waves washing in from the Pacific Ocean.

And then, the last song of the set…. the ever popular “Good Vibrations” which had the audience dancing again. Brian headed off the stage as the song was coming to an end, leaving the band to deliver the final beat of the drums, clash of the cymbals (Nelson Bragg the percussionist has boundless energy in performing his bits for this song) and twangs of guitar as the applause from the very appreciative audience resounded around the Roundhouse.

Calls for more were responded to, with Jeffrey Foskett appearing back on stage, taking up his spot on the right hand side. One by one, he introduced the band members…… Mike D’Amico on drums, Nelson Bragg on percussion, Gary Griffin on keyboards, Scott Bennett on keyboards, Nick “Wonder” Walusko on guitar, Probyn Gregory on guitar (and theramin and French horn and trumpet among others!), Paul Mertens on Sax and flute, Taylor Mills on backing vocals (with some percussion), Brett Simons on bass and then the main man himself was introduced to thunderous applause.

The encore began with a song Brian introduced as being the first song he had written, “Surfer Girl” and then upped the pace with a cover of Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B Goode”, straight into timeless Beach Boys classics, “Help Me Rhonda”, “Barbara Ann”, “Surfin’ USA” and finishing with lots of “Fun, Fun, Fun”. Brian released himself from the sanctuary of the keyboard, and played his bass during the encore songs. Everyone around us was dancing and singing along throughout.

Brian and the band left the stage, only to re-appear for the final time. With just keyboards as backing, Brian, with his band adding fantastic harmonies, sent us all home with “Love & Mercy” a song from his first solo album from 1988 that has become the traditional end of the show song over the years.

So another Brian Wilson gig drew to a close. We must admit, we had some reservations ahead of the show, after reading a few “reviews” from the Glasgow and Liverpool concerts where the sound quality had come under fire. Was this the best Brian Wilson concert we have been to in terms of quality & sound? No, it wasn’t but we really, really enjoyed this one.
The atmosphere was great, enhanced no doubt by the fact the Roundhouse is a standing venue and when you get Brian Wilson fans so closely packed together, the atmosphere ripples through the room and infects your hands and feet, encouraging them to clap and tap along, and before you know what you are doing, you find yourself singing along to the chorus of the ageless classics from the pen (whether wholly or in part) of Brian Wilson. You just can’t help yourself. We feel that the fans who really got the best out this gig were the ones right in the throng of the audience.

This show has had its criticisms on fans’ message boards, with some comments made about the band not really being up for it. What we write in our blog is our opinion, and in our opinion, that comment could not be further from the truth. Indeed, to pick out just a few observations, Scott Bennett really got into it, jumping around the stage and at one point “surfed” his keyboard, Brett Simons was grooving alongside Taylor Mills to the tunes and was even singing along, despite not having a mic most of the time! Jeffrey Foskett was engaging the fans in front (and to the side) of him, Nelson even took time out from behind his multitude of percussion instruments to bang on a few objects alongside Jeff, and Paul Mertens and his Saxophone traversed the whole stage.

The night ended in the Circle bar, mingling with other fans and some of the band members who kindly gave autographs, posed for photos and chatted to everyone. Highlight of the night for the Beeb was bumping into the artist Peter Blake. Peter kindly answered a puzzling point about the Sgt Pepper cover that the Beeb had wondered about for years. A lovely ending to a good night out.

And on our way home, heading towards the M1 out of London, we were in the wake of the EST truck that was carrying the gear away from Camden…..

Hope you like the pictures we have included.
And the customary news on the loos........ Minty loved the fact that during the interval the queue for the Gents stretched out beyond the door and trailed back through the corridor.... the Ladies was completely empty! Hoorah - justice!

The Beached Boys

GIG: The Beached Boys
DATE: Friday August 21st 2009
VENUE: Tropic at Ruislip, Ruislip Social Club, Grosvenor Vale, Ruislip, HA4 6JQ,
COST: £8 in advance / £10 on the door
RATING: Breakaway from the average covers band…..

In August’s Record Collector magazine, Kingsley Abbott (highly respected music historian) said that The Beached Boys are currently considered the best Beach Boy styled band on the circuit. Their show at Tropic at Ruislip validated that comment.

This was a popular event with a long, but orderly queue forming from 8.30pm to gain entrance to the hall. The band took to the stage an hour later, dressed in the blue Pendleton style shirts that were synonymous with The Beach Boys in the early 60’s. Straight away, they had the audience up and dancing with “I Get Around”, “California Girls”, “Surf City”, “Little Deuce Coupe” and “All Summer Long”, bringing a bit of California sunshine to Ruislip. Other highlights from the first half of the set were “Don’t Worry Baby” which included a brief bit of “Hushabye” during the instrumental part, and a superb version of “Breakaway”: a song that Brian Wilson and his band have had difficulty mastering for a live show. Tonight The Beached Boys nailed it.

Following a 30 minute break, the band, now clad in Hawaiian shirts, started the second half of their set wasting no time with a lively “Heroes & Villains” which ran straight into “Fun Fun Fun”. The party mood continued with a few songs from the Beach Boys’ “Party” album and a great version of the surf instrumental “Misserlou” and a couple of early surf classics, “Surfin’ Safari” and “Surfin’ USA”. The audience were dancing throughout, even when the band slowed things down a bit with “Til I Die” and “Sail On Sailor”. As the clock edged towards midnight, the band had been on stage for 2 hours in total, delivering loads of great Beach Boys songs and they closed the night off with “Good Vibrations”.
The audience called for more but unfortunately, curfew time at the club is midnight, so the plugs were pulled on what was a great night.

The performance tonight was excellent. The band were tight, the vocals and harmonies nailed, they really seemed to enjoy themselves on stage, and the audience loved them too, dancing and singing along throughout the show. If the band come to a town near you (check out their website below for details of their gigs) then make sure you go along. You are guaranteed a night of Fun, Fun, Fun, even if you are only a “light” Beach Boys fan. If you love The Beach Boys you won’t be disappointed either, especially as the band does perform some lesser known songs which go down very well when there a few Beach Boys fans in the room.
The last time we had seen a couple of members of the band was just last month, when they joined Anny Celsi and Nelson Bragg (Brian Wilson's percussionist) on stage at London's Luminaire Club, providing backing harmonies for a rendition of "In My Room".

The venue is a decent sized hall: a bit of a free for all to get a table and a seat, but the bar service was good (the bar man remembered our round, which is always a positive sign!), the loos clean (and no queues), and there is plenty of parking.

Friday night is Tropic at Ruislip’s club night, where live music is promoted and enjoyed. Check out their link below to see forthcoming events.

Invisible Lead Soup / Paul Bevoir / Cola Jet Set / SQU!RE

GIG: Invisible Lead Soup / Paul Bevoir / Cola Jet Set / SQU!RE
DATE: Friday July 31st 2009
VENUE: The Dublin Castle, 94 Parkway, Camden, London
COST: £6 / £5 with flyer
RATING: Brilliant

We wandered through to the back room of The Dublin Castle pub not long after the first band had started their set. The room was quite full (something we had not seen at recent gigs we’ve been to) and stayed full right the way through the four bands appearing tonight.

We had not heard of The Invisible Lead Soup before and they sounded good. At times the keyboard was a bit ‘Sale of the Century’ but on the whole, they had some good songs, nice vocals and were interesting enough to keep us in the room. They included a good version of “Nancy Sinatra” in their set.

Next up was the man we had travelled into Camden to see, Paul Bevoir, ( who was playing with his band, the Family Way. Unfortunately technical problems with the keyboard meant that the start was delayed somewhat, which resulted in a shorter than planned set as the sound engineer (who was the same one at last night’s gig in the Wilmington Arms) was quite strict on time. Paul has a real sunshiny pop sound that warms you from your hair follicles right down to your little toe and back again, giving you that Ready-Brek glow when you hear his music. His set included some of The Jet Set tunes, and also some of his solo work, including one of Minty’s favourites “Too Late Now”. His drummer added fantastic backing vocals and the sound was great. It’s a shame that they did not have the chance to make up all of the lost time from the keyboard problems, but their set, although shortened was really incredible. We just wish he played more gigs so we’d have the opportunity to see him more frequently. If you know Paul's songs then you know they make the world that little bit better just by being there.

The Cola Jet Set ( had travelled from Spain, and had already performed at some UK gigs, including the Indietracks festival. We had seen this group a couple of years earlier at International Pop Overthrow and had forgotten just how good they sounded. They were singing in Spanish (until their last song which they performed in English) and we didn’t understand a word they were singing (there was one about Chocolate), but they had a really happy, foot tapping summery sound. The main vocals were provided by Alicia and Ana, whose vocals really blended well together. The group appeared to enjoy themselves, smiling all the way through, which just made the songs sound even brighter. Towards the end of their set, Paul Bevoir’s drummer joined them on stage and added some falsetto ‘ooohs weee ooohs’ which really added to the summer sound.

The final band on the bill was London’s own Mod Gods, SQU!RE, ( a band that has been around for many years, and another group we have seen a few times at the IPO. The usual bass player (James Meynell) had injured his hand, so bassist duties were performed by Paul Bevoir, who did a sterling job. Right from the off, the audience were dancing as Anthony Meynell powered through a great set list that included “Does Stephanie Know”, “Girl On A Train”, “Walking Down the Kings Road” and finishing with a great rendition of “My Mind Goes Round In Circles”. We felt that SQU!RE could have played for much, much longer, had the sound engineer let them, and the audience did call for more. But curfew had obviously fallen as the sound engineer turned the stage mics off, and increased the volume on the ‘in between’ music, signalling The End.

It is unusual, when you have 4 bands appearing on the one bill, to enjoy every one of them….. tonight at The Dublin Castle, we did just that. A wonderful line up and well, well worth the drive into Camden for the evening.

A small word on the venue itself….. it is the home of Madness, and they have photos of the band all over the place. The bar staff were great… waiting time was minimal and the barman recognised The Beeb whenever he went to the bar and remembered his requirement for a bottle of Becks (it’s rare these days for a barman to even acknowledge who’s next in the Q, let alone remember what the punters are drinking, so good on the Dublin Castle).

And a final customary monologue on the loos…….. clean, well-stocked, hand dryers that worked, and locks on the door… fine by Minty.

The Understudies

GIG: The Understudies
DATE: Thursday July 30th 2009
VENUE: Wilmington Arms, Roseberry Ave, Clerkenwell, London
COST: £6
RATING: Solid Chip Pan Glam

The Understudies, ( whose Myspace page lists their roots as being Glasgow/London/Edinburgh, (but are now based in London), are a band we saw at this years’ International Pop Overthrow in Liverpool and we jumped at the chance to see them play live again. It was a push to get to Clerkenwell in time (they were first on the bill) but we made it just as the band were about to take to the stage.

Straight away, they launched into “Chip Pan Glam”, which is a belter of a song to start a set with, with reverbs of T-Rex style guitar mixed with the female vocals of Bree giving it a bit of a Camera Obscura sound. They also sang about “Flicknives”, “Wanting Vs Getting”, which has a very nice "Phoenix Nights"glockenspiel throughout, and the very catchy “A Girl I Used to Knock About With”.

The sound engineer at the venue was very strict on time, and all too quickly he signalled the last song, which was “Grousebeat”, a song which has a very Spectorish ‘Be My Baby’ type drum beat for the intro, and great vocals from Brian.

So, a short, but oh so sweet set from a band which we hope to see more of.

We stayed around to see the other bands that were on the bill. The next band up was a 3 piece called the Hillfields. They were not quite our cup of tea, with the vocals coming only from the lead man (no backing vocals), and their songs starting to sound just like the last, as they worked through their set. Still, pleasant enough and we did stay to listen.

The 3rd act on the bill was a punk rock group, The Dellas who took a bit of time to set up, but in the end did not sound too bad and they gave out free badges!. The audience was quite thin by this time but still seemed to appreciate this young 5 piece band.

The main act of the night came on stage at about 10.15pm. Makeokay were really were not our scene at all, so we took our cue and left.

The venue was OK – a decent sized music room with a bar manned at all times. The bar was not cheap (overt a fiver for a pint and a soft drink) oh, and don’t leave your glass with a couple of swigs of beer left in it on the bar, otherwise it gets swept up and put in the dishwasher before you realise it’s gone!. The loos were great – an odd shape, but clean and smelt fine.

Anny Celsi / Nelson Bragg Tour - London

GIG: Anny Celsi / Nelson Bragg with support from Paul Steel & The See See
DATE: Monday July 27th 2009
VENUE: The Luminaire, 311 Kilburn High Road, London, NW6 7JR
COST: £10
RATING: Luminarious

Two weeks of touring around the UK, loading and unloading their amp, guitars and snare drum into and out of a Ford Focus, came to a close in London town with the final gig at The Luminaire in Kilburn, London.

Paul Steel started the evening, with songs from his two albums “April and I”, and “Moon Rock”. His set was quite 80’s synthesized pop, and with his engineer & producer hat on, recorded loops as he played keyboard, a bit of electric drums, tambourine and did some “backing” vocals, to give a bit of a fuller sound. At one point he recorded the audience clapping along and put that in a loop as part of the backing track. Paul does have some good songs, and he came out from behind his keyboard once to perform a song with an acoustic guitar. Without a doubt, he is a very talented young musician, but the gig showed how difficult it is to be a solo artist, an engineer and a producer all at the same time!

Nelson Bragg joined Paul on stage for his last song… a rather lovely version of the Beach Boys’ “Surf’s Up”. Paul has the perfect voice for this song, and Nelson’s lush harmonies in accompaniment was the icing on the cake, making this sound really great, even with the slight hiccup from Paul somehow changing the keyboard sound briefly mid-way through!

Next up were The See See, a London based band, and long time favourites of Nelson. Right from the off, The Beeb knew this band was going to sound good, from the fact that there was an electric 12 string involved. And he was not wrong.
The See See are a Powerpop Psychedelic foursome, with great tunes, who could have fallen out of The Children Of Nuggets box set and landed without a bump! The audience really appreciated this band, and seemed to get into the groove. Nelson also joined them on stage for their last number, adding tambourine and maracas. As good as the bass player was, it was quite annoying the way he constantly turned his back on the audience, like a self indulgent prog-rock bassist from the 70’s for whom punk never really happened. A good bassist and drummer don’t need to spend the whole gig looking at one another.
Nevertheless, this band was good, they had a great sound and we bought their CD!

The headline act, Anny Celsi and Nelson Bragg definitely seemed a lot more relaxed, having left the traumas of the first two gigs (support act arriving late in Newcastle / Sat Nav taking them every where in Glasgow except where they wanted to be!) way behind them. We were treated to songs that were in the earlier gig’s set-list, but tonight they were accompanied by guitarist Nico Wouters, adding extra sound and flair to Anny’s songs including “Little Black Dress”, “The Night She Learned To Drive” and “Empty Hangers”.

Nelson performed “Forever Days” a track from his solo album, and a lovely rendition of “God Only Knows” with Paul Steel added into the mix for this one, including a bit of his 12” remix disco version when he accidentally pressed a button on the keyboard which started to replay some of his electro-pop loops from earlier on!!!!. With many Brian Wilson fans in the audience, this song went down particularly well.

Two members of a Beach Boys tribute band, The Beached Boys were in the audience and were invited up on stage to provide additional harmonies to another Beach Boys classic “In My Room”. Nico performed a solo guitar piece, an instrumental of “Ben” as a tribute to Michael Jackson which sounded lovely.

Nelson and Anny had intended to finish with the title track of Anny’s latest album, “Tangle-Free World” but the audience would not let them off lightly and demanded more, so a small encore was provided. By that time, it was getting late and most of the audience had to leave to catch trains and buses home, and so the final show of the UK tour came to a happy end.

This was a great gig, with a bit of a party atmosphere among the Brian Wilson fans that were in the audience. While they may have been drawn to this gig by the fact Nelson is a Brian Wilson band member, they left as Anny Celsi fans and will surely enjoy listening to her CDs.

So, a fantastic ending to the tour. The Luminaire is a fab venue, and one that appreciates musicians and demands respect from the audience for the people who play on their stages, a fact highlighted by the notice posted around the venue, “No-one paid to listen to you talking to your pals…..If you want to talk to your pals when the bands are on, please leave the venue”.

The loos are great… very clean and tastefully decorated with posters and graffiti, which is encouraged by the management.

Anny Celsi / Nelson Bragg Tour – Glasgow

GIG: Anny Celsi / Nelson Bragg with support from Daniel Wylie and The Wellgreen
DATE: Tuesday July 14th 2009
VENUE: The 13th Note, King Street, Glasgow
COST: £4
RATING: Gallus

We journeyed up from Newcastle after picking up Paul Adsett from his hotel in what seemed like a drive to Norfolk! It seems that Nelson and Anny being in town had caused all the local hotels to be fully booked.
Travelling up to Scotland from Newcastle always causes wry smiles from The Beeb when he thinks of the Roman Empire getting as far as Glasgow, then deciding to head back south and build Hadrian’s Wall to keep the nutters out of England!

The 13th Note is one of the really hip student/musician hang out venues. Much to the Beeb’s delight it is a Vegetarian CafĂ© too. Much to Nelson’s chagrin, he walked in with his Big Mac take-away and was hunted out the door!
Once we got downstairs for the gig it was obvious that the audience was full of musos.

Daniel Wylie (ex Cosmic Rough Rider) started the night off, with a 45(ish) minute set. He was accompanied by Raymond Meade, formerly guitarist with another great Glasgow band, The Ronelles and Neil Sturgeon. They did some of Daniel’s own songs as well as old CRR faves like “Melanie” and “Revolution In The Summertime”. Nelson’s delight at singing these songs with the man who wrote them was a joy to behold. He’s been a fan for years. The band also did a really fresh version of the Ringo hit “Photograph.”

Anny & Nelson’s set list was similar to the night before (maybe a bit shorter, with “God Only Knows” omitted tonight) and started with Nelson on his drum, tambourine tied to his foot and Anny playing acoustic guitar, finishing with “Tangle Free World”, with support from 2 of the Fast Camels to beef the sound out a bit of this catchy pop tune, with maracas and an additional guitar. In between were what are now becoming firm favourites, “Little Black Dress”, “Summer Fling”, “Empty Hangers” (every girl deserves a nervous breakdown….) and “Some Velvet Morning”. Another great set from this pair. Check out our review from the Newcastle gig as well.

The Wellgreen, are a local duo, who play acoustic sunshine pop/folk type music. Stu Kidd from the BMX Bandits, The Primary Five, The Pearlfishers and various other musical projects is one half along with Marco Rea who finished the night off rather splendidly with their whimsical and charming versions of a couple of Neil Young songs as well as treating us to some of their own songs, including a really gorgeous song called “December Child“. This was the first time we’d seen The Wellgreen, but already we’re looking forward to the album when it’s released. Also, it's worth checking out Stu Kidd's solo material at

Glasgow can be a tough place to play. But Nelson and Anny really made their mark with this audience. The great songs they played from their albums lent themselves really well to such an intimate setting. If the Glasgow crowd hadn't had appreciated them, they would soon have let them know! They went down really well.

That was the end of our “tour”, and we came away with 3 CD’s which will get plenty of play (watch out for our reviews on our Spin It Or Bin It blog!). Anny and Nelson continue their trek around the UK, and the next gigs lined up are listed below, so make sure you catch at least one show.

Next opportunity to see Anny & Nelson below:

Sunday 19th July – The Robin Hood Pub, 540 Mansfield Road, Sherwood, Nottingham
With support from Richard Snow & The In-Laws

Wednesday 22nd July – The Beehive, 55 Prospect Hill, Swindon, Wilts
With support from Nico Wouters

Saturday 25th July – The Jenny Lind Inn, 69 High Street, Hastings, Sussex
With support from Nico Wouters

Sunday 26th July – The Hanbury Club, 83 St Georges Road, Brighton
With support from Paul Steel & The Brighton Beach Boys

Monday 27th July – The Luminaire, 311 Kilburn High Road, Kilburn, London
With support from the Paul Steel & The See See

Also check out Anny’s websites

and Nelson’s myspace
Oh, and the customary final word on the state of the loos - not bad at all.........

Anny Celsi / Nelson Bragg Tour – Newcastle

GIG: Anny Celsi / Nelson Bragg with support from The Fast Camels
DATE: Monday July 13th 2009
VENUE: The Cluny, Newcastle
COST: £7
RATING: Fun on the Tyne

It was a small, intimate, yet enthusiastic audience that gathered at the Cluny, on this wet Monday evening to see the first gig in the Anny Celsi and Nelson Bragg tour, which also included The Fast Camels on the bill. A technical problem with the van The Fast Camels hired to make the trip from Glasgow to Newcastle (the key broke in the lock) meant that they were delayed, so the music started an hour later than planned.

But it was worth the wait. Anny & Nelson up first, Anny with an acoustic guitar and Nelson behind a snare drum, with a tambourine taped to his left foot, and shakers wrapped around his wrist for the added percussion. Later in their set, Nelson took over the strings of the acoustic and Anny plugged in with her electric guitar. Just two of the highlights of their almost 1 hour set, were “Little Black Dress”, the title track from Anny’s first album, and a rendition of “To Sir With Love”, which Anny’s vocals did great justice to. They also did a fabulous cover of the Lee Hazlewood song "Some Velvet Morning".

Nelson also had the opportunity to showcase some of his songs, including “Forever Days”, and a crowd pleaser cover of The Beach Boys, “God Only Knows” (a song he had recorded with his other band, The Mockers).

The Fast Camels ( were called onto stage and they supported Anny on the title track of her latest release, “Tangle Free World”, which is a very luscious song, with harmonies, a great tune and a real ‘feel good’ vibe. The guitars and drums from The Fast Camels really gave it zest as well.

Anny and Nelson left the stage and The Fast Camels started their own set filled with Psychedelic pop, with “Magic Optician”, “Der Nazi Tea” and a preview of some of the songs that will be released on their next CD. Any opportunity to see this band, we take as they are a fun band to watch and their music is really good, covering intricate arrangements which seem to meld loads of different songs into one. Anny and Nelson joined the band on stage towards the end of their set, adding backing vocals and tambourines to the mix.

It says a lot for musicianship, and live music when bands have the confidence in their own ability and can mix and match and join in with one another’s songs with little or no practice before hand, and in our opinion, this makes a great show. I doubt the prefab X-Factor winners would be able to feel such confidence.

We think Anny’s CD will do wonders for Minty’s temperament as she makes the journey around the M25 to work every day, as her soothing vocals will really take the stress out of dealing with the other road hogs! And it’s the kinda CD you’ll want to put on the player when you get home from work and just want to de-stress and relax.

Tonight, there was only a small audience, which was, no doubt, a bit of a disappointment to the performers, and we sincerely hope that as the tour progresses around the UK, more people pop along to see Anny & Nelson, as it is certainly worth it. None the less, the guys had passion and delivered a great almost 2 hours of music. The Cluny itself is a good venue, a decent size, a high stage, and clean loos! Not sure why they sell different beers in the music room than they do in the main pub though!!!

Brian Wilson headlining at Guilfest

GIG: Guilfest – Headline Act Brian Wilson
DATE: Saturday July 11th 2009
VENUE: Stoke Park, Guildford
COST: £45 day ticket
RATING: Saturated but smiling through the rain

Our main aim at the Guilfest was to see Brian Wilson, and a more detailed review is below, however as a summary, the gig was awesome. Despite the teaming rain, the audience had Fun Fun Fun and the band (and also Brian Wilson) were on top form, and seemed to enjoy every minute that they were on stage.

Arriving at about 4pm, being festival virgins, we got our bearings…..… loos, check, beer tent, check, food trucks, check, main stage, check.
Apart from some of the acts on the Main stage and the Ents 24 stage, we had not heard of any other artists performing at this festival, so took a wander around the various stages and tents to see what was occurring.

The first act we saw was in the acoustic tent, Jack Blackman, a young blues man. Well, if you can have the Blues when you look no more than 14! Instead of singing Robert Johnson’s “Cold Hearted Woman,” maybe he could write his own “My Baby Done Text Me” or something! Nice if you like blues, but with each song starting to sound like an extension of the last, we left the tent just before he finished his set. Good guitarist though.

Wandering around, we caught the tail end of what sounded like a good band, on the Ents 24 stage – Los Albertos, a very Madness / Ska influenced band, with 2 sax players.

Next act we saw was Eddie Reader, on the Ents 24 stage. Her set included a few traditional Scottish songs, and had a real Celtic sound, with her band comprising accordion player, double bass, acoustic guitars, drums & ukulele. Her voice sounded great, and she was completely at ease on the stage, filling in between songs with witticisms. Mid way through her set, the rain, which had threatened for the previous couple of hours, started but that did not deter the audience in any way, who jigged along to the music. This was someone who knows how to work a crowd. No wonder she’s revered in her native Scotland. Her popularity was shown by the queue outside the signing tent after her gig. It was longer than the queue for the women’s toilets!

The Lightning Seeds were next up on the Ents 24 stage, but we only caught a couple of their songs, before heading over to the main stage, where the Charlatans had just vacated the stage and Brian Wilson was setting up. That cross over period seems to be critical in getting a good place in front of the stage, and we did stand around for 30 minutes or so, waiting, a couple of rows from the front barrier while the roadies did the sound check. At this point the rain started in earnest and did not let up for the rest of the night.

Brian Wilson and his band took to the stage promptly at 9.30pm, and began with “California Girls”, ended with the “have a safe journey home” song, “Love & Mercy” and was filled in between with 90 minutes of fantastic Beach Boys classics and Brian Wilson solo songs. Brian’s official website had promised a few lesser known songs on this tour – songs that wouldn’t usually make it into the greatest hits set list, and we were treated in this respect to “Shut Down”, “Salt Lake City”, “Custom Machine”, “All Summer Long” & “Do You Wanna Dance” and a couple of songs from his solo work – “Imagination”, “Soul Searchin’” and “I’m Going Home”, the latter from his most recent work, “That Lucky Old Sun”.

Firm favourites included in the set list were “Fun Fun Fun”, “I Get Around”, “Sloop John B”, “Do It Again”, ”Wouldn’t It Be Nice” and the ballads of “Surfer Girl”, “Don’t Worry Baby” & “God Only Knows”, which the audience sang along to in full voice. When Brian started “Good Vibrations”, he stopped the band before the end of the first verse, and asked the crowd if they wanted to sing along (we had already been singing very loudly!).

The rain was absolutely teeming down, a fact not lost on some of the band members, including Paul Mertons who wandered to the front, rain drenched area to deliver a couple of sax solos, and keyboardist, Scott Bennett who jumped off the stage (did he know how high it was??) to the delight of the audience at the front right of the stage.

Brian was in the middle of a monologue, when Jeff Foskett, the consummate professional keeping the antics in check, with a “come on guys”, to which Brian said, “OK, shut up.” like some naughty schoolboy being reprimanded and continued the set! Jeff also took on the falsetto parts that Brian can no longer reach, with is usual flair and also played the last bit of “Surfin’ USA” with his Gibson held high above his head.

The band was buzzing. Nelson Bragg, the percussionist, just days after being released from hospital following treatment for a pulmonary embolism, put his heart and soul into banging all manner of percussion. Probyn Gregory, looked like he was in Spinal Tap with all the dry ice swirling around him, tucked in the top left hand corner of the stage, performing his seamless multi instrument changes (including his fab 12 string Danelectro, guitar, french horn, trumpet and theramin).

Tonight we found out that the bass player, Brett Simons actually can smile and sing, helping out on some backing harmonies, and Darian Sahanaja took the lead on a short stint of a Little Richard song “Keep A Knockin’” which the band never finished, and led into “Little Deuce Coupe”. Taylor Mills’ vocals came over extremely strong tonight. Nick Walusko, wearing his trademark black cap, played his Jazzmaster, and Mike D’Amico banged his drums while managing to keep his hair in place.

The band and Brian Wilson seemed to really enjoy themselves tonight and shared some banter. During the encore, when Brian played his bass, he was really grooving and seemed to be very reluctant to leave the stage when curfew fell at 11pm.

After the encore Paul Mertons led the whole band out to the front of the stage, oblivious to the downpour that was still trying to cause a power cut everywhere, for a farewell to the crowd, with the band standing arm in arm for a final bow. A nice touch, before they all piled on the tour bus to head up North to Gateshead for their next show.

So, in summary, a fantastic Greatest Hits show, with the band and Brian Wilson enjoying every minute, and the crowd loving it all, despite the torrential downpour that did nothing to dampen the spirit of Summer in Surrey!

And the traditional round up of the state of the loos! The Guilfest website forum praises the loos at this festival……. I just shudder to think how bad the loos at Glastonbury are if these ones in Guilfest are the best!!!!