GIG: Matt Backer
DATE: Wednesday 13th November 2013
VENUE: The Dublin Castle, 94 Parkway, Camden
COST: £4.40 in advance
OUR VERDICT: No Idle Hands here

Matt Backer is a session guitarist par excellence. He has a CV that is just jaw dropping. ABC, Bananarama, in fact anyone who made a record in the 80’s will have benefited from Matt’s contributions at some point. Rumor’s another recent addition to that CV. He’s also MD for Julian Lennon and features heavily as the main guitarist in “Don’t Forget The Lyrics”. It was while he was playing with Mari Wilson when we first saw him. We also caught him when he did his debut gig for Paul Young’s Los Pacaminos, and you could see why he is so in demand.

We caught Matt a couple of weeks ago at the same venue, when he did a warm-up solo performance for this, his full band gig. It was a bonus for us to find out that tonight his drummer was Jim Kimberley from Kellys Heels/Bruise, another couple of Liverpool IPO band favourites of ours. Jim always plays a great beat and is probably one of the finest drummers we’ve seen play.

The “band”/karaoke playing when we arrived weren’t our cup of tea, and as soon as they finished everyone from the pub suddenly made their way into the music room. It became obvious Matt had brought quite a following with him.

The set started with a really slow, moody, bottleneck blues song, which set the tone for most of the night. With Simon Edwards on bass, this turned out to be a great bluesy band. Matt has some really great songs of his own. “Cold War” from his first album is a fine, well observed rocker. “Let’s Art” from the new album “Idle Hands” is quite smart too.

“All That You’ve Wanted” was co-written with Julian Lennon, and if there was any justice in the world this should be a hit! Matt on-stage is very laid back, and tends to let his guitar playing connect with the audience as much as any between song chatting.

The thing with the Dublin Castle is everyone has to do a pretty short set, and Matt’s was no exception. The time just flew in and it all seemed over in a flash. The set was excellent though, and he got a well-deserved reception. It was great to see up close, such a genuinely talented guitarist. If we hadn’t seen him before this would definitely have made us realise why he was such an in demand professional .

To have the opportunity to see him perform his own material was certainly a bonus. His own albums stand up well to anything he has recorded for any of the bands and artists he’s worked with in the past. Another great gig for us and an artist we would recommend to go see.


GIG: Nelson Bragg at The  Living Room Scene
DATE: Tuesday 12th November 2013
VENUE: The Betsey Trotwood, 56 Farringdon Road, London
COST: free with a whip round
OUR VERDICT: Nelson found his second home

It was a surprise visit to the UK from Nelson Bragg that brought us out to that most excellent musical watering hole in central London, The Betsey Trotwood. Nelson was going to be sharing the stage with Mick Terry, who greatly impressed us at this year’s London IPO, alongside fellow singer/songwriters, Peter James Millson and Jinder.

It was good to meet up with veteran gig-goer John Etherington beforehand too. John always has a story or two to tell from the various gigs he’s been to over the years. Nelson arrived, and it was man hugs all round for one of the top social animals from Brian Wilson’s band.

The stage was set
 The upstairs bar in this pub was a wonderfully intimate setting for a night of acoustic music.

 With a stool on stage for each artist, Mick Terry kicked off the proceedings.
Nelson followed, using Jinder's vintage Gibson acoustic.
Jinder regaled us with some witty patter before his first song, and then handed the reins to Peter.

Nelson tried to show us how Jeff Beck would play guitar on stage during the Brian Wilson/Jeff Beck tour…He TRIED, but of course he couldn’t, much to everyone’s amusement.

And that was the format for the evening. It was a song each from everyone on stage. Nelson treated us to Forever Days, Death Of Caroline and the very Byrds-like Welcome to Nowhereville amongst others. 

Jinder was very self-deprecating, pointing out the fact that most of his songs featured trains and death. He did a really lovely tribute to Scottish folk musician Jackie Leven. Peter finished on a really lovely song about his brother…his brother, who Peter pointed out, left before the start of this song! Mick’s contributions to the evening went down very well of course. As mentioned, we knew Mick from the London IPO and he was on top form tonight again. Throughout the whole night, the audience was completely hushed, showing total respect for these great musicians. It is really quite amazing the power an acoustic guitar, great vocals and a good song can have.

So, after an evening in which we were treated to twenty songs from the four artists, Nelson started off the finale with a tribute to Lou Reed. Each one of the singers did a verse each on “Walk On The Wild Side,” aided by the audience who sang along too. A great end to a fantastic night.

L-R - Peter James Millson, Jinder, Nelson Bragg, Mick Terry

Nelson explained afterwards that he can’t stay away from the UK for more than a year…he HAD to come over for a holiday. We’re grateful he managed to fit in a couple of gigs while he was here. It was great to catch up on how great the Brian and Jeff tour was across the pond. We are living in hope that it will happen in the UK now.

Nelson, with The Living Room Scene host, Mick Terry


GIG: The Wellgreen / Laura J Martin / Euros Childs
DATE: Friday 1st November 2013
VENUE: The Boston Arms, Tufnell Park, London
COST: £12 on the door
OUR VERDICT: Wellgood!

The Wellgreen
It’s always been the case that anytime we go to Glasgow we seem to miss a Wellgreen gig by a day or two for some reason. So we certainly weren’t going to miss them when they came to our neck of the woods for a gig at The Boston Arms.

Stu Kidd
With Stu and Marco, who make up The Wellgreen, playing a simple set up, it is just a joy to hear the harmonies they create between them - just the two of them. Playing a mixture of songs from their eponymous debut album and the new one, Grin and Bear It, they really do know how to put a song together. The influences are easy to spot, all the B’s are there…Beatles, Byrds, Beach Boys etc, but they do have a sound of their own.

Not only do they do the great harmony thing, “Don’t Give My Number Away” being a favourite, they can rock out when the call goes up. No more so than on the brilliant “Red Light”.

Marco Rea

Laura J Martin
The Wellgreen made way for Laura J. Martin. Laura had a very unusual set up. Using loops and pedals, her main instrument was the flute. She also used a mandolin and a melodica which all gave her a very unique and distinct sound. There was a bit of fun had during the trip down to the gig. It turns out Laura’s aunt is Barbra Dickson, and they all turned up at her door out of the blue that afternoon.

 Laura comes across as being indebted to Kate Bush at times, but when she was joined by The Wellgreen later on, the sound they made was like The Velvet Undergound’s “Sister Ray,” with Laura’s flute replacing John Cale’s viola! This was very powerful stuff indeed.

Euros Childs was the front man for Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci while they were going. His experience with years of playing to audiences comes across straight away. He was a great raconteur and connected well with everyone there. We didn’t know any of his songs at all, but we were very appreciative of them. Some were very funny too. We think this reflects the nature of the man. The Beeb even had the good fortune to “win” 32p and a Motorway cafĂ© receipt from Euros himself. Yes, that’s the sort of gig it was.

Euro Childs
With The Wellgreen as his backing band, a bassist and Laura J Martin joining for a few songs, this was such a good set from someone we knew nothing about. He definitely won us over. Euros Childs certainly deserves a bit more recognition from the wider public. He puts on a really fun show and has a wealth of really good songs into the bargain.

The Beeb with Marco Rea and Stu Kidd, The Wellgreen


GIG: The Ace – Plastic Pop Records Showcase
DATE: Saturday 19th October 2013
VENUE: The Dublin Castle, 94 Parkway, Camden
COST: £5.50 in advance

The Ace rock The Dublin Castle
Not that we need much of an excuse to visit Camden, but one thing was for sure…we weren’t going to miss professional Northerners, The Ace when they came to town to play the Dublin Castle. 

The Ace is a terrific three piece mod/beat/psyche band that we’ve seen many times at the Liverpool IPO. There was a definite air of Paisley Pattern shirts amongst the bands tonight, and  The Ace, duly attired, were second on the bill. They always put on a high octane performance and this gig was sure to be a cracker. If you like your 60's mod beat sound, then this is a band you should not miss. The guys drove down from Leeds and were going to make sure it was worth it.

Jonny does an excellent job as front man and main singer, ably assisted by Nige on vocals from time to time. Daz on drums has to be seen to be believed. It never LOOKS as if what he’s playing actually is in time with what the others are playing, but it is! You’ll never see a more energetic man behind the drums and he would give Animal a run for his money. Crazy but good!

A rare shot of Daz being still!

It was a short set, as they all are in this venue when you have multiple bands on the bill, but they put a fantastic amount of energy into what they did play. It was a pity they had to drive straight home afterwards. The band hit the heights with one of our favourites, “Oh Yeah” which has a real authentic 60’s mod beat to it with a hint of My Sharona. Blasting through their 30 minutes (which went by way too quickly in our opinion), they included tracks from their new EP Sonic Snapshots. We particularly liked “The Poet”. This is such a good song and the audience appreciated this one too.

Nige on bass
The guys put a lot of effort into doing this gig, and they made it worthwhile for the audience as well as themselves. They got a great reception and there was a decent sized crowd tonight as well.

Can’t wait to see them in Liverpool next year already!


GIG: Band of Friends - A Tribute to Rory Gallagher
DATE: Friday 11th October 2013
VENUE: The Borderline, London
COST: £17.50 plus a small booking fee
OUR VERDICT:Top Priority..Do not miss!

Minty had an email alert about a gig in the Borderline featuring Band of Friends. This was a band featuring Gerry McAvoy and Ted McKenna, long-time members of Rory Gallagher’s band. With The Beeb being such a big fan of Rory’s music, this was one he didn’t want to miss.

We made an afternoon of it so that Denmark St had the chance to tempt the Beeb to open his wallet again. This gave us plenty of time to get to The Borderline early. In fact, we were just about first in and managed to blag seats at the edge of the bar, right in front of the stage.  This was definitely a male-dominated gig, and as the place began to fill up the men far outnumbered the gals, who we counted only 43!!!!

There was no support act tonight, so it was straight into the show with the band kicking off with “The Last Of The Independents.” Having had the good fortune to see Rory live, it was going to take someone special to fill his boots. Marcel Scherpenzeel on guitar was just terrific and was up for the job.

Within minutes he was soaked in sweat as he put so much energy into his playing. “Continental OP” followed, before being treated to a great set featuring some of Rory’s best songs.  It was obvious that Marcel was steeped in appreciation of this music. At times it was quite uncanny listening to him sing, especially on songs like “Follow Me” and “Tattoo’d Lady”.

Marcel didn’t use the stage as much as Rory, but part of that would be because of Gerry McAvoy managing to run around what little space there is on the Borderline stage. Gerry was also acting as the MC tonight, often taking the chance to tell great anecdotes about being on the road with Rory, even if he did have to handle some hecklers!
Gerry McAvoy

Ted McKenna’s drums were built around what looked like scaffolding. It may be a good job that they were! The energy level and power behind the drumming for most of the night was astonishing. Apart from the odd quiet moment, Ted provided a high testosterone show of drumming all night.

Tonight’s gig also provided some fantastic air guitar playing from the audience. One guy in particular down the front, cleverly managed to switch from air guitar to air drums in the same song, without missing a beat!
By the time we got to “A Million Miles Away” and “Shadow Play” we were heading to the two hour mark. Of course, the place went daft when “Bullfrog Blues” was played for the encore. This was definitely the quickest two hours we’ve spent in a long while.

Marcel Scherpenzeel
Although Marcel’s obvious love of Rory’s guitar playing shone through, he still managed to put his own style on show too. Ted and Gerry made the best drum n’ bass outfit we’d seen in quite some time. That’s what all those years on the road can do for you.

This was far removed from being a tribute band. What we saw tonight was a genuine celebration of the life and music of Rory Gallagher.

We managed to have a chat with Gerry and Ted afterwards too. Ted and The Beeb actually come from the same town and shared some memories from away back in the 60’s and early 70’s.

Ted McKenna and The Beeb could be brothers!

The band has a string of dates all over Europe now, and if you can you should go and see them.


GIG: A Life in Song: Lyrics by Don Black
DATE: Thursday 3rd October 2013
VENUE: Royal Festival Hall, London
COST: £29.50 plus small transaction fee
OUR VERDICT: Black Magic

It was back to the Royal Festival Hall, one our favourite venues for tonight’s gig, “A Life in Song: Lyrics by Don Black”. There are not too many people who have a career as just a lyricist, but Don Black has to be the top dog in this profession.

We got the tickets because the Beeb has always been a fan, and he knew Don was a good raconteur. So with this evening’s format set to be a mixture of his songs being performed, and a bit of chat with Don himself, it was definitely primed to be an entertaining night. Interviewing Don would be Michael Grade, and the show was being recorded for future broadcast on the BBC.

BBC Concert Orchestra

The BBC Concert Orchestra filled the stage and after settling into their seats, kicked off the proceedings before the first guest of the night, Michael Ball, came on and sang “Love Changes Everything.” Even though Michael Ball may not be our cup of tea, it was impressive to hear such a powerful, theatrical voice booming out over a 50+ orchestra, in a hall built for sound and the audience were already thrilled.

Don and Michael had a good rapport throughout the evening, with Michael having to rein Don in at times for getting ahead of himself in his story. Don, as expected, was very amusing all night.

Michael Grade speaks with Don about his long career

It must have been very hard for the show’s producers to whittle such an impressive catalogue of songs down to a mere handful for a two hour show but the choice was pretty good.  Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for all of the artists who performed the songs…..  one singer,  who we didn’t recognise, was a bit of a screecher and kind of ruined (for us at least) what is probably one of Don’s finest works, “To Sir With Love”. If only Lulu could have been there!

A major surprise and much to The Beeb’s delight was the introduction of Gregory Porter, who sang a wonderful version of the Michael Jackson hit, “Ben”, ably assisted by Eliza Doolittle (who wore a beautiful, figure hugging fishtailed cream gown). This was the first of a few surprise guests that we knew nothing about. Gregory’s voice was just sublime.

Another was the appearance of Marc Almond. After Don telling the tale of Tom Jones passing out after hitting the last note on the recording of “Thunderball”, it was a brave man who was going to attempt it. Well Marc was quite stunning. Looking stick thin, it’s a wonder where the power came from.  But powerful it was. He acted out the song in that over the top “Jackie” type of performance. He really did wow the crowd big style and sounded terrific.

As if this wasn’t enough, again to The Beeb’s astonishment, Brian May came on and did a wonderful bit of loud guitar work on maybe Don’s most famous song, “Born Free” sung by Kerry Ellis. You’d think with all the money he’s earned from Queen he’d buy a new pair of shoes. He’s been wearing those white shoes since the Beeb last saw him live 30 years ago! Don also reminded us that he wrote the lyrics to Mrs May’s big hit, “Anyone Can Fall in Love”, the Eastenders Theme.

In the middle of all these wonderful orchestral arrangements, out came an absolutely gorgeous looking Katie Melua. She picked up her acoustic guitar, and with a minimal number of chords, threatened to bring the roof of the RFH crashing down with the highlight of the night, a totally stripped down, “Diamonds Are Forever.”  What Eva Cassidy did in making “Over the Rainbow” hers as much as Judy Garland’s, Katie did just the same with Shirley Bassey.

Don’s James Bond collaborator, David Arnold played piano with the orchestra and made a very decent fist of it when it came to singing “The World Is Not Enough.”

Another highlight, and a further  ‘bring the house down’ moment was Richard Stilgoe who took his place behind the grand piano and reeled off a wonderfully funny song, piecing together a load of unused abstract rhyming words that Don has so far, not been able to include in songs! We were in stiches as he cleverly weaved his way through these rhymes.

The guests were numerous, and mostly high calibre. Marti Webb did a couple of songs from the stage hit “Tell Me On a Sunday”, including her huge hit, “Take That Look off Your Face” which sounded as good as it did on vinyl 30+ years ago (Minty has the ’45!). Other guests were Gary Wilmott and Maria Friedman amongst many others.
Don Black soaks is applauded at the end of the show

This show will be shown on BBC4 in December, and is definitely not one to be missed. And it looks like they are going to tour this a bit in April next year (Nottingham Symphony Hall and Manchester Opera House) so you will have the opportunity to experience it live as well.


GIG: The Last Carnival
DATE: Saturday 14th September 2013
VENUE: Concorde 2, Madeira  Drive, Brighton
COST: £10
OUR VERDICT: Fresh, Energetic, Exciting


It was a night out at the Concorde2 in Brighton for us as we wanted to be at the launch party for their first album, “The Call of ‘56”, and first gig of a headlining tour for the fantastic The Last Carnival.

A stand out band from the London IPO last year, it’s really quite astonishing how much they’ve progressed since The Bull and Gate. We did see them in a pub in Littlehampton last year too, where they did an acoustic set before they rocked out.

But for tonight’s gig it was a full on, in your face stadium rock show opening. A stunning light show that would have had any epileptics in the audience on red alert, signalled the band’s intent that they really meant business.

Russell wows the crowd

We had a couple of their previous EPs, that included the wonderful Cadillac, but even they couldn’t prepare us for just how good the songs are on this debut album. 

The title track, “The Call Of ‘56” just begs for a Glastonbury sized audience to sing along with. In saying that, most of their songs are full of catchy sing-a-long riffs throughout. Every song is a gem.

Singer and songwriter Russell has an energy and passion in everything he sings. He’s a great guitarist himself, but his on stage duels with lead guitarist Justin are a joy to watch. Justin has perfected his rock God poses perfectly. The band don’t just SOUND great, they LOOK great too. This is borne out by the hordes of screaming girls at the barrier in front of the stage. 

Guitar Duels

Kieran seemed to love every minute of the gig

The very well-spoken Kieran on keyboards, we’ve noticed before, smiles his way through every gig. He just seems to love everything that’s going on in front of him. 

So many of the songs have great big choruses, and there are filled out brilliantly by Kieran and bass player Michael. Michael, an Andy Murray look-a-like.......only with smiles, has such a great voice too. He really adds a great deal to the vocal blend.

Michael, adds some great backing vocals
Apart from the all-out rockers, the band can stray into classic REO Speed-foreigner type Power Ballads too. The Neil Schon like screaming guitars make this no bad thing though. It certainly adds extra colours to the set.

“Top Of The Hill” must be the definitive blueprint for anyone wanting to write a crowd pleaser. The whole place joined in with this call and the response was diamond.

This was such a good gig, and although it’s astonishing how far they’ve grown in the space of a year, it really shouldn’t be a surprise. 

They’ve got a great fan base, and not only that, Russell had a well thought out vision and plan for this band when we spoke to him at the last gig. It’s all falling into place for them right now.

Justin rocks
When you see bands like The Killers and Kings Of Leon making in into stadiums, then you realise with songs like the ones The Last Carnival have, all that’s needed now is that little bit of luck. But for the time being they are certainly making their own luck right now. It’s only a matter of time before they make the big time.

See our other reviews:
Littlehampton,  Aug 2012


GIG: The Katmen 
DATE: Wednesday 4th September 2013
VENUE: The Borderline, Orange Yard, Manette Street, London W1D 4JB
COST: £16.50 (plus £2.50 admin fee per ticket)

OUR VERDICT: Rocked London Town

Katmen website
Katmen on facebook

After seeing how good The Katmen were in Liverpool back in May, we didn’t want to miss them when they played the Borderline in London.

The Katmen Cometh

The Borderline is a lovely little basement music venue, tucked away behind the top end of Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road station. A stepped area in front of the sound desk means that you can see above heads and have a pretty much unrestricted view if you stand towards the back, away from the mosh pit (we did).  With Bud on tap, it’s a good bar too!

The support tonight came from a young five piece called The Caezars. "Vintage styled Rock'n'Roll that Tarantino would be proud of," said Time Out. And they’re not far wrong. Seasoned giggers already, having played at Glastonbury and toured with Imelda May and Brian Setzer, they were very slick, with a singer that was very Gene Vincent influenced,  and had a number of good songs in their set. All that was missing was some backing vocals.

Darrel Higham

Slim Jim blends in
The Katmen came on stage, and kicked off with the old Yardbirds hit, “Over Under Sideways Down.” Whilst the venue has air-conditioning, the coolers were at the back and over the bar area, away from the stage area which meant, with the throng of the crowd and the lights on stage, it didn’t take long to heat up and after a couple of songs, Slim Jim Phantom’s leather jacket came off, to reveal his red waistcoat and scarf which had him camouflaged by the gaudy, similar coloured curtain behind him! Despite the heat, Slim hardly broke sweat though. Cool Kat for sure!

Darrel Higham
This was pretty much the same show as we saw in Liverpool, not surprising as they have been on the road and gigging non-stop for ages. Darrel’s appreciation of Eddie Cochran was displayed by a storming version of “Nervous Breakdown.”  “The Train Kept A Rollin” by The Johnny Burnette Trio was another great cover.

Slim Jim almost brought the house down again when he sang the old Stray Cats song “Rock This Town.” Al Gare on bass seemed to be amused by just how good the crowd was during this one. The Rockabilly girls dancing in front of the stage really lapped this one up. Another great cover included in the set was a rocking version of the Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire”. Brilliant stuff.

Al Gare slaps that Bass

Speaking of Al…his bass playing really stood out tonight. Especially when he played the electric bass for a while. You didn’t just hear him…you felt him! The sound was awesome.

Highlight of the band’s own recordings were “Everytime I See You It Makes Me Smile,” and “So Far From You.” The latter provided the guitar solo of the night too. Darrel on top form once again.

For the encore we were treated to a modern day Rockabilly classic, “We Need Elvis Back” before they finished with another Johnny Burnett cover to bring the show to a close. The crowd did whistle, yell and stomp their feet for a second encore but sadly, the gig was over.

There are still a few gigs left to do on this tour. So if they’re playing near you they make for a great night of music, so get along to one. One gig we can’t make is at one of our favourite pubs in Brighton, The Prince Albert. That will be some show. Don’t miss it if you’re in the area!


GIG: The Members & White Cowbell Oklahoma 
DATE: Sunday 21st July 2013
VENUE: Fiddlers Elbow, 1 Malden Road, Camden, NW5 3HS
COST: £10

OUR VERDICT: Salvation

We had planned to see Canadian rockers, White Cowbell Oklahoma the previous night. For some reason, (a mystery to the band as well), the venue/promoter cancelled that gig. Luckily the band managed to find a gig tonight, thanks to a friendship struck up with veteran “punk band” The Members.

The Fiddlers Elbow was a venue unknown to us. We got there early while there was a bit of a sound-check going on. The venue is just what you would imagine a Victorian pub to be like. Apart from vinyl discs decorating the place, it looks as if it hasn't changed much over the years at all. There’s even an old piano in the corner that you feel doesn't really sit there unused.

We managed to secure a big leather sofa for the night at the back of the venue, just before we were joined by a couple of neighbours who just happened to be huge WCO fans. Another plus for the venue was an excellent air conditioning system right above us. Very welcome on a night like this.

The first band on were The Bears, a post punk band from Watford. We didn't know anything about them, but apparently they've being going, albeit with a different line up, since the heady days of punk. The first song sounded quite promising and energetic, but it didn't take long to realise most of the songs sounded just the same as each other. There was nothing wrong with the quality of the musicianship, in fact the lead guitar sounded quite impressive, it was just the one size fits all that began to grate after a while.

The Members were actually meant to be the headliners, but rather graciously handed that position to guest band White Cowbell Oklahoma. Best known for their classic hit “The Sound Of The Suburbs”, we were beginning to dread the idea of a one hit wonder punk band banging out barre chords for an hour trying to relive their younger days.

The Members

That was not what we got. Song-writer JC Carroll, looking like a French onion seller who had left his bike outside, turned out to be a witty raconteur leading a very fine band indeed. Bass player Chris Payne proved himself to be an excellent singer too. The quality of the vocals raised the bar considerably from the previous band. With a genuine punk rock legend in the shape of Rat Scabies from The Damned on drums this turned out to be quite a jaw-dropping experience.

JC Carroll

There were a few people in the audience that clearly knew The Members songs as they sang along with them. The songs themselves actually had depth to them. There wasn't the three chord punk thrash we expected. Clever lyrics and few forays into a Ska/Reggae trip made the set very varied.

Rat Scabies
 Rat Scabies was a powerhouse of a drummer. Not just in a rock style, he was very subtle when it came to the reggae stuff. He was a genuine surprise to us. One of the highlights was their reggae version of Kraftwerk’s “The Model.” A clever twist to a great song. The band also played some new songs that make the new album well worth investigating.

Of course the real highlight of the night had to be “The Sounds Of The Suburbs.” It may be the mill stone round JC’s neck at times, but this is a GENUINE classic.

White Cowbell Oklahoma's Clem joins The Members

This definitely wasn’t a "relive the Seventies" band. They are still fresh and vibrant live, as the new songs proved. The only downside to the gig was seeing an original “punk rocker” in the audience, who must have been closer to 60 than 50, wandering about wearing a Swastika t shirt. It may be that “Punk’s Not Dead”, but that was just sad looking.

We got what we expected from White Cowbell Oklahoma. A rocking, raucous set of fast paced and LOUD head banging gems. With three guitarists including new boy Nicolas Ladouceur, playing in a plectrumless style of Jeff Beck, we were given a lesson in rock and roll.

White Cowbell Oklahoma ROCKED
 While Joan Smith gave the vocals an extra quality, most of the vocal duties came from the preacher-like Clem C Clemson. At one point he had the whole place singing back to him in a Gospel fashion.

With a great drum and bass duo of Gianmarco Fiacconi and South Pawl Jones respectively holding everything together, Fraser Fulwell on the infamous cowbell looked as if he was ready for things to kick off at any moment.

This is a band that plays to huge numbers all over Europe, as well as their native Canada, so it was a total delight to see them in such an intimate setting. So intimate in fact, that Fraser had no room to use his chainsaw or grinder…for safety reasons!

We’re looking forward to their return trip already.

The Beeb and our neighbours have fun with WCO and The Members


GIG: Burt Bacharach
DATE: Wednesday 26th June 2013
VENUE: Royal Festival Hall, Belvedere Road, London
COST: £50 plus £1.75 booking fee
OUR VERDICT: Magic Moments at The Southbank

The Royal Festival Hall has been the venue for many a great gig for us. From the numerous Brian Wilson gigs, to the poignant final Glen Campbell visit, it’s a special venue. So it was a fitting venue for us to celebrate more than 50 years of the sophisticated song-writing and arranging of the genius that is Burt Bacharach.

At the age of 85 he strolled on to the stage dressed in trainers, jeans and a brass buttoned jacket that wouldn’t have looked out of place on an airline captain. He looked comfortable, tanned and a little frail.
After acknowledging the warm reception from the audience, Burt and his band, featuring three vocalists, kicked off with “What The World Needs Now”, before the first of many medleys. “Don’t Think It Over”, “Walk On By”, “This Guy’s In Love”, “ “I Say A Little Prayer”, “There’s Always Something There To Remind Me” and more…... as far as The Beeb was concerned, he’d had his money’s worth already!

“I’ll Never Fall In Love Again” gave singer Josie James a chance to shine. Then Donna Taylor blew Cilla’s “Anyone Who Had a Heart” right out the window. She is a great singer, and the audience let this be known.
Burt chatted away telling stories, and not in a scripted way, telling us about being in his old regular London pub the night before. He moved between the grand piano and electric keyboard for different songs, and often stood up to direct the band. When he wasn’t laughing at his own little jokes,  he would sing along in the background to the songs.

John Pagano featured on “I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself” before going into the Burt and Elvis Costello collaboration “God Give Me Strength.” It’s good to know that Burt and Elvis are working together again, this time for a musical.

Donna sang the little known song “Waiting For Charlie (To Come Home), written for Etta James. Burt was laughing at the end of it because, as he explained, none of the two of them ever knew how Donna would finish the song.

“My Little Red Book” followed, praising Manfred Mann’s recording, even if they weren’t musically sophisticated. Then we got the first four hits Burt ever had. “Magic Moments”, “The Story Of My Life”, the theme from “The Blob” and “Tower Of Strength”. “The Blob” featured Dennis Wilson on sax and popping his cheek!

A proud moment for Burt was when his son Oliver joined him on-stage for the first time, and he played keyboard on “Make It Easy On Yourself.” When a member of the audience asked for Oliver to come back on, Burt quipped, “He only knows one tune!”

We’d already had an evening full of wonderful hits before the band gave us another medley of Burt’s film songs including “The Look Of Love”, “What’s New Pussycat” and Burt singing a bit of “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head.”

Still the hits kept coming, including probably the most sexist song ever written, “Wives and Lovers.” Then came the highlight of the night. Burt may not have the greatest voice in the world, but the way he put over “Alfie” before going into “A House Is Not A Home” didn’t leave many dry eyes in the Festival Hall. Then everyone joined him on “That’s What Friends Are For” to finish the set.

There was an encore of course, and much to the credit of this wonderful song-writer, he came back and performed two new songs. They easily stand up next to anything he’s written over his remarkable career. After a request from an audience member, “Baby It’s You” was played before a great sing-a-long version of “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head” closed the show.

Without a doubt, this was one of the finest gigs we’ve ever been to. It was a privilege to witness a musical genius like Burt Bacharach perform such an astounding range of hits in one evening. It wasn’t till later we realised he didn’t do “24 Hours From Tulsa”. Leaving something like that out shows what a high calibre the rest of the show was.