GIG: Los Pacaminos
DATE: Sunday 27th June 2010
VENUE: St Albans Festival, St Peter’s Street, St Albans, Herts
COST: free
RATING: A bit of a scorcher

The sun really was merciless as we experienced a bit of the Tex-Mexicana at the St Alban’s festival with Los Pacaminos, a 7-piece featuring Paul Young and many of members from his previous bands.
Their sound is pure Tex Mex, complete with lap steel guitar and accordion and a bit of formation dancing! Perfect for a scorching day for those who didn’t want to watch the football! Even though there was a big football match on as they were due to play, they did manage to pull in a sizable crowd for the occasion.
Pual Young (Top), Matt Backer (Bottom)

Kicking off with a song about a Highway Patrol Officer (complete with a screaming siren sound, (courtesy of the steel guitar), they blazed through an hour’s set which included classics like “Little Sister” and “Wooly Bully”, a song about Guacamole, another about Enchiladas and the odd bit of “Tequila”! The few songs of their own that they did sounded great too.

Although Paul Young is the most well-known member of the band, there are no egos here, with just about all of the guys taking the lead at some point, and band members wandering around finding any free mic to sing into. It was great to see six guys at the one time all singing along in harmony.
The band members are all seasoned session musicians, each of them with sizable and impressive CVs, but it was evident that they all really enjoy playing this music together. On guitar was Matt Backer, Mari Wilson’s guitarist who was standing in for the Pacaminos regular guitarist and he fitted in perfectly. Well he IS a genuine Southern gent after all.

A great set from a great band on a great day. What more could we ask for on the hottest day of the year?


GIG: Nick Lowe
DATE: Monday 21st June 2010
VENUE: The Stables, Wavendon, Milton Keynes, Bucks
COST: £25
RATING: Definitely the Jesus of Cool


(Sorry folks - no pics as sitting in the front row after the announcement "no photography" would have been plain stupid!)

In 1977, at the height of the punk wars, a strange record started to be heard floating through the airwaves. The Beeb liked “I Love The Sound Of Broken Glass” so much he went out and bought the album…Nick Lowe’s “Jesus Of Cool.”

“ILTSOBG” was so different from the rest of the album. “Broken Glass” was a bit of an oddity, the album was jam-packed with sparkling songs with great hooks and brilliant harmonies, all destined to be smash hits. Except they weren’t!

30 odd years later and Nick Lowe is still writing classic 3 minute pop songs. Big fan that the Beeb is, he’s never seen Nick do a show under his own name, and that is why we are at The Stables tonight.
First up was Geraint Watkins, Nick’s keyboard player for the band. He literally stumbled on stage, tripping over something as he wandered on to play. Then he sat at the keyboard for a minute or two thumbing his way through an old book. This could have been annoying, but it was actually quite funny. It set the tone for what was to be a wonderfully laid back performance by a master of his art.

When he played, he played in a great New Orleans Jazz/R&B style. When he sang, all the way through there was a low, guttural growl underlying what was really a lovely singing voice. Minty thought he looked like he could be the elder brother of Daniel Craig.

He was joined by Martin Winning on a smokey and sultry sax (which looked like it had never seen Brasso in its life!), and the two of them together built a picture of what it must have been like to sit ‘til the wee small hours in a Jazz club in the 40’s. Occasionally, Martin would swap the sax for a clarinet and tease some wonderful music from it. They finished off with a powerful Johnny B Goode. We’ll definitely be looking for his latest album now.

After a short break, Nick wandered onto the stage looking rather like a white haired Eric Morecambe. We were treated to three solo acoustic numbers, including “Heart” before the band joined him.

Nick explained that this show was a rehearsal for his upcoming Glastonbury gig before going on to wow us with a selection of songs from one of the best catalogues anyone in the UK has ever produced.

Highlights included, “I Trained Her To Love Me,” “Love Is A Battlefield” and “You Inspire Me.” When someone asked for “Breaking Glass,” Nick said he was doing us a favour NOT doing it because it was “a rubbish song, but a great record.”

The hits were there though. “Cruel To Be Kind,” proved itself to be a real crowd pleaser. “I Knew The Bride,” and a lovely version of “Peace, Love and Understanding” slowed right down, finished the set on a real high.

For the encore he said he didn’t know whether to do “All Men Are Liars” or “The Beast In Me.” He did them both of course.

Geraint’s light shone again when he did his own song, “Only A Rose,” before the final song, Rockpile’s “When I Write The Book.”

The sound was mixed really well, and we could hear every instrument, although the organ Geraint played could have been just a tad louder. Minty loved the fact that the band included a double bass, as some of the rockabilly styles tunes were really complemented with the slapping of said instrument!

It may have taken a while to see Nick on his own, but it was certainly well worth the wait. Oh, and “I Love The Sound Of Breaking Glass” IS a great song!


GIG: Standells
DATE: Saturday 19th June 2010
VENUE: 229, 229 Great Portland Street, London
COST: £22.50 + the usual exorbitant booking fees!
RATING: The Good Guys wore black tonight!


The 229 venue is tucked away just behind Great Portland Tube Station and after finding somewhere to park without the threat of being towed or clamped or ticketed, we got into the venue not long after 8pm. The venue’s website says the doors open at 7pm, and the bands start at 8pm so we figured we would be arriving just as the first band was on stage – Thee Vicars. This was a band that interested The Beeb so imagine how disappointed he was to discover that the band just starting up was King Salami and The Cumberland 3 (the 2nd band on the bill) and the whole thing had actually kicked off at 7.30 so we had missed them.

King Salami and the Cumberland 3 are a pretty good live act, who played a real stonking rhythm & blues and sounded like they would have been right at home, recording in the Sun Studios in the 50’s. You’ll be hard pushed to find a stranger looking line-up. The lead singer, was a black French man who had a great stage personality and you could tell these guys were either a seasoned live act, (or had been practising hard), as they played a pretty fluid set. The guitarist was a tall, skinny Rodney Trotter look –a-like, dressed all in white to match his white guitar. The bass player was a Japanese bloke who jumped around quite a bit, and the drummer looked like he had a great sense of humour, looking like an Egyptian behind the drum kit, with a pair of one lensed sunglasses and a fez! They finished off with what they described as a genuine Bo Diddley effort conceived in Stoke Newington! On the whole we rather enjoyed their set. Check them out on Myspace, and you’ll see they have a fair number of gigs lined up.

For The Standells, the stage was shielded by a large screen, with the scene from the film “Riot on Sunset Strip” leading up to the band’s appearance in the movie being projected onto it. As the band’s playing started on screen, the stage screen began to rise, to reveal the Standells on stage, the video sound was cut and the Standells took over playing “Riot On Sunset Strip” live right on cue!

Early on there was a technical problem as the bass lost power but that was quickly resolved and the band played what can only be described as a blinder of a set which included “Dirty Water”, “Sometimes Good Guys Don’t Wear White” , “Mr Nobody” and a great cover of “Hey Joe, Where You Gonna Go.” The bass player’s microphone was either turned off or was turned down really low, which meant that the harmonica piece on “Dirty Water” wasn’t heard, and on occasions when the vocals switched between Larry Tamblyn on keyboard and Paul Downing on guitar, the mics weren’t at the right level for a lead vocal. But having said that, it was still a fantastic hour of music.

Paul plays guitar in that odd looking Dick Dale style...left-handed, but with the strings strung upside down!

The bass player, John Fleck was introduced to the audience as the only living member of Arthur Lee’s LOVE and they went into the fantastic “My Little Red Book” which had the crowd absolutely jumping. He also came in for a bit of stick from the others in the band when they described just how much drugs he still takes at the intro to “Medication.” We presumed they meant prescribed drugs these days!

The crowd whistled and roared after Scorch (Greg Burnham) on drums did a bit of a solo on one song, and all around us, people were dancing and really enjoying the whole show.

As they finished their set, they left the stage to calls for more, and then Gary Leeds (the Standells original drummer, and later of Walker Brothers fame) came on stage to bring the guys back for an encore. They did 2 more songs and despite more calls for another, when the roadies started to take down mics and dismantle the drum kit, we knew the show had indeed finished and we reluctantly headed for home.

The only original member of the band on stage tonight was Larry Tamblyn, (although John was in the “Riot” movie) but they did play a great set, the audience completely loved it and we were just as thrilled to see their first ever UK show. The timelessness of this music was shown by the age range of the audience. From young students to the band’s peers, and everyone getting off on it.

The guys are recording some interviews and then playing live for some BBC radio shows - they will be on Mark Riley’s BBC6 radio show on 21st June from 7pm (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00c72y1).
The 229 venue is a bit of a London nugget. It’s a great venue, stairs leading underground to a series of rooms – one for lounging in, one for dancing to the DJ’s (after the live acts have finished) and then the huge stage area, with a high stage (so you don’t have to stand on tippy-toes and still only see the heads of the band!) which gives the audience a great view.
And as for the loos? Quite presentable, clean and (when Minty went anyway) no long queues!



The Afternoons

Rio Callahan





Mayflowers rocked!


The Modulators

The Lovedays

The Waistcoats

The Beat Rats

Hair in Motion! Paul from the Beat Rats

Ben's Diapers

Sound Engineer - Jim

IPO hosts - David and Rina

GIG: International Pop Overthrow Day 6
DATE: Sunday 30th May 2010
VENUE: Cavern Pub and Cavern Club, Mathew Street, Liverpool
COST: it’s supposed to be all free (although the Club charged from 8pm)
You dirty rats!


First the intro blurb…….International Pop Overthrow, organised by David Bash visits Liverpool every year, and puts on a fantastic free music festival for a whole week in the land of the The Beatles. It attracts Powerpop bands from all over Europe and the rest of the world (including this year, Japan, the USA and Canada). It is impossible to see every one of the bands as 3 stages are on the go simultaneously but we try to see as much as we can. We can’t promise to like all of the bands that play and certainly we will favour some over others, and indeed, some bands we like the sound of after checking them out on Myspace, may not be great performing live (and vice versa for that matter) but in this blog we offer our own personal opinion on the bands and the music we hear.

Sunday lunchtime is not typically a busy period for Liverpool as most people are still sleeping off the effects from the night before! However a decent sized crowd had gathered in the Cavern Pub to see Jeremy (www.myspace.com/jeremyamorris) play. Jeremy is the quintessential king of powerpop who appears at many, many IPOs and has been in Liverpool for as long as we’ve been attending. Unfortunately his flight to the UK was delayed so he missed his first slot from yesterday. Today would (schedule as it stood) be the only chance for us to see him this time around. Jeremy never disappoints any audience and today was no exception. His set did include some covers, such as “You Really Got Me” and “Instant Karma,” but he also had his own tunes going, such as “Pop Rules” which went straight into his surf medley complete with awesome guitar shredding which really grabbed the attention of one group of lads. The reaction of the crowd told us they loved every minute. It was a great set, a fantastic reaction from the crowd and Jeremy even sneaked in a couple of extra songs and extended his set by about 10 minutes (although the sound engineer didn’t pull the plug, so that it must have been OK!). Backing vocals for a couple of numbaers were provided by two of the Swedish contingent, Per and Stefan, both IPO stalwarts.

The next act, over in the Club, was a bit more sedate, Huw Jacob (www.myspace.com/huwjacob) a 3 piece band who we caught, only because there were no other bands we had marked down to see. We were pleasantly surprised with their set, which had quite a Crowded House feel to it. All 3 members of the band harmonised very well together and the sound engineer had an easy time of things, as no mixing was really involved. When they needed a bit more oomph, the electric guitarist took the lead, with some lovely guitar playing. Very pleasant tunes indeed. We may have to check them out further.

The next artist was a no show, which then gave the chance for everything to run back on time, after the late start in the Club earlier on, with The Afternoons (www.myspace.com/theafternoonsuk) setting up for their slot. We had caught this band a couple of years ago, after noticing the drummer was wearing a T Shirt with “Listen To The Beach Boys” printed on it! We felt they could have done with a bit more backing vocals to really compliment their sound, but on the whole they played a good set of very lazy Sunday afternoon sounding songs. They introduced a new song called (we think) “Wait Till You See Her” which was one of the strongest in their set, and their final number was introduced in Welsh and was really quite bouncy.

We then returned to the Pub where Rio Callahan (www.myspace.com/riocallahan) from Glasgow was in the middle of their set. They had a strange mixture of instruments, including a trombone and a trumpet and no drummer (apparently they were not the full band) and the singer really engaged with the audience. We have no idea what their full band sounds like live, but they sounded just fine to us with the line up they had with really strong vocals.

Next up was one of our favourite Scottish acts – Honeybug (www.myspace.com/honeybug). We had already seen these guys in the live Lounge yesterday, and were up for seeing them again. With just keyboards and vocals, they were fighting somewhat against the general background chit chat of a pub with lager louts in it, but once again, they delivered on the lush harmonies which gave each of the stripped down songs such depth and the audience, which was quite large in size, seemed to enjoy it all too. Nice one guys – can’t wait to hear what you’ll treat us with next year!

Honeybug encouraged everyone to stick around for the next act, Mini (www.myspace.com/soundofmini) and they were most excellent. The drummer was the main singer, and he had a terrific voice, opening with a really catchy breezy number. The pub was absolutely packed and although Minty would have preferred for them to have done more of their own material, the second half of their set was all covers, ranging from a superb “Jet” with cracking drums on it to the Osmond’s “Crazy Horses” which also went down very well. The Ladybugs were invited on stage to accompany Mini in another couple of songs, “9 to 5” and “Love Shack” which sounded great. They also gave their EP out for free! This is a band we will definitely go and see when we next get the chance.

We took a break to grab something to eat and then spent the rest of the night in the Cavern Club. Only the front stage was hosting the IPO tonight and we saw Eskimo Blonde. They did a straight cover of an ACDC song, which about sums up their style which was not our style at all.

Hijinx (www.myspace.com/hijinxpowerpop) was a band we had wanted to see, even more so after we found out that David Lloyd from the Suns was in it. We figured their set would be a bit of a blinder, as during the set-up, the sound engineer told the drummer he would just call him “animal” from now on!!! In deed, the drummer could have a drum off with Bluto Mungo from The Beat Rats and it would be a very close competition! They met all of our expectations, although Minty did not expect the bass guitarist to throw his pick at her (he was actually aiming elsewhere so he won’t be asked to play Minty’s netball team!), and played a great set of foot tapping, head bopping catchy tunes which included some nice guitar hooks on the Gibson SG. One of their songs is about Frankenstein, and the crowd sang back the “Hello, Hello” part. One thing we did like was their song “Rock That Feeling” which was included in the set, and then also done as a reprise for the closing song – great closed loop for the audience, as they certainly did rock us.

All the way from Japan, the Mayflowers (www.myspace.com/mayflowersjp) were next up on stage. We had heard that during the week they were busking in Church Street, all plugged into 1 amp and were going down a storm! They actually started 10 minutes ahead of schedule which was quite good because it allowed David Bash to give them not one, but TWO encores. This band was fantastic. They didn’t just rock the Cavern, they sizzled it and almost brought it to meltdown with their electrifying set! Their command of the English language is not very good, and you do wonder how they can write such great songs and sing them in English. It also meant that they did not waste anytime between songs, introducing them, and didn’t just power through their set – they torpedoed through it in the style of the Ramones rocking through the punk days!. Their encores included the Beatles song “I Saw Her Standing There” and for this the 2 guitarists jumped off the stage and performed on the floor in front of the stage, with high kicks and jumps all round! The place was jam packed and everyone seemed to really enjoy this show – indeed it is the first band we have seen David Bash allow to play extra songs, and Rina spent the whole set sitting on the speaker at the front of the stage, loving every moment!

Ulysses (www.myspace.com/ulyssesgb) certainly had a very tough act to follow. Dressed like a rock band in a 70’s comedy film, they were very Thin Lizzy and Jimi Hendrix influenced. We were about to applaud the bass guitarist for wearing his shades on his head as opposed to strutting around in the dark, but then he pulled them down and lost credibility! Their last planned song involved the guitarists standing around a solo drum, madly hitting it along with all the percussion paraphernalia around it (tambourine/cowbell etc) making a sound that even monkeys in a zoo could do! The sound engineer obviously liked this band, as he said they could play one more song – and this was one that did actually sound OK and was a good finish to an otherwise mediocre set.

The Modulators (http://www.themodulators.com/) were up next and this was the 2nd time we had seen this reformed band from the 80’s New Jersey Powerpop scene. They went down a storm in the Club, and really rocked the place. Their song called “Lies” (we think) was really strong and they seemed to play with a tad more passion than they had yesterday. Minty particularly liked this band, especially as there was no nonsense – they got on stage and played without any gadgets or sound effects and kept things simple while still sounding terrific and knowing their set list so well, they didn’t have to discuss what was going to be sung next. Their songs are very much powerpop and once again, their finale “Spin Me Around” stayed in our heads. It would be nice to have their material from the 80’s re-released and put on CD. It was a joy to see the pride on the faces of the band's wives, as they watched their guys play The Cavern. The boys done good, girls!

Last year we caught the tail end of a band called The Lovedays (www.myspace.com/benjonesandthelovedays) and thought they sounded great so we made the effort to ensure we saw their full set at this year’s festival. And what a cracker it was too! Before they started, the lead singer (who was a cross between Rik Mayall and Jake Shears) gave a great quote, about the IPO “being all about the music, not commerce”, although we did notice they had the most expensive CD on the merch table! We don’t know how long this band has been together, but they knew their set inside out, with no stops or discussion about what was next. Some of their songs were quite bluesy, with a Link Wray hook and one song segued into “Live & Let Die” and then straight into another song immediately after. All were played and sung with tremendous power and passion, and the personality of the lead man really shone through constantly. The bass player was as barmy as ever, seemingly running a half marathon during every gig! They also had the opportunity to do “one more song” and did “John The Revelator”. The end to their set was received with rapturous applause. David Bash summed them up as having “passion that could light up the whole city of Liverpool”. A great band, and a great set. We did consider buying their CD afterwards but at a tenner it was a bit pricey, especially when we had bought so many CD’s by the other bands already!

Next up was a band from the Netherlands called The Waistcoats (www.myspace.com/thewaistcoats). They wore matching suits, which included, you’ve guessed it, waistcoats! They were another band who used a bit of Link Wray in one of their songs, and Rina certainly seemed to enjoy them as she was bopping at the front of the stage! This was another band that didn’t waste any time chit-chatting in between songs, going straight into each number. On the more bluesy numbers, the harmonies really stood out, and overall they were quite a good band. Their last number was a Beatles / Merseybeat influenced and sounded great.

Our night in the Cavern Club finished on a high, as we caught the fourth and final appearance of The Beat Rats (www.myspace.com/beatrats) who commanded the front stage. Still dressed in black leather, they blasted through their set once again treating us to their opener “The Beat Rats Theme” and then through a whole batch of short garage songs which had the club totally rocking. Where these guys get the energy from we don’t know, but we are thankful they had it! Make sure you read the earlier reviews of their gigs. The Beeb thinks this is a band on the edge of some truly great success. We feel privileged to have seen them in such an intimate setting. They have also had great praise for their album, "A Cellar Full Of Rats!" in SHINDIG, and various other hip music mags.

We had one more band to see, and the bouncers let us back into the Cavern Pub for Ben's Diapers (www.myspace.com/bensdiapers). There were not many people left in the pub at that time of night (well, Monday morning!) but the band still played with a lot of passion and sounded totally fantastic, especially on "Loneliness". This is a very experienced band who write fantastic songs, and sound terrific. After the frenetic pace in the Club, it was really lovely to end our night (and indeed our IPO) listening to this band from Finland.

The stats of our IPO week are: out of the 150 bands (or so) we saw 63 of them... a hit rate of 42%. Of the 63, we saw one band 4 times, one band 3 times and 8 bands twice which makes an overall gig fest of 76!!!

So a big shout out to David Bash and Rina Bardfield whose energy and dedication brings us a week of great music each year. You guys rock!

And in memory of our gentle giant friend, Wil Woodrowe. We think he would really have loved this year's IPO.

One final word about a bit of an unsung hero of the IPO, Jim the sound engineer, who was on the front stage for the entire week. He was able to get things set up in no time at all with his straight forward instructions to all the artists on stage. He was also the guy the other sound engineers came running to from the back stage when anything wasn't going according to plan. Big thanks for creating such a great sound (despite some of the bands!) on the front stage.

See you all next year!