O2 Shepherds Bush Empire
Sunday 30th October 2016

This show has been touring around the UK and tonight was the last night, so we were delighted to be able to share the experience.

The format of the show was the complete "Penthouse And Pavement" album (released in 1981) performed by Glenn Gregory and Martyn Ware from the original Heaven 17, backed by two superb singers and keyboardist Berenice Scott (daughter of "Pop Muzik" by M officiado, Robin Scott!). This was followed in the second half by a selection of British Electric Foundation material and some special guests

"Penthouse And Pavement" was just before Minty's time (she is more familiar with their next release "The Luxury Gap") but we were both enthralled by the performance of this album. We did start off a bit unsure as the drums and backing were all digitalised and essentially backing tracks, but the performance from Glenn, and  his vocal alongside Martyn's was superb.  A bit of humour injected into the proceedings was through some jibes at Phil O and the Human League! We have never been huge fans of backing tracks and bands who do not have the "live" thing, but by God, we loved this show.
Heaven 17

The first half was over much too soon (that's the consequence of a vinyl with only 9 songs!).

A quick intermission and change of backdrop from Heaven 17 to B.E.F and we were into the second half. B.E.F are essentially a covers band who do their own take on other songs. Here we were treated to some guests.
First up was The Farm's Peter Hooten and the sing a long "All Together Now" followed by a great rendition of "Bank Robber" by the Clash

Next up was the reason we got our tickets - the glam and fab Queen of Neasden, Mari Wilson. Looking fabulous, in high heels and a shimmery dress, she gave us a terrific performance of "Just What I Always Wanted". Having seen Mari perform a good number of times over the last years, this song has always been a very stripped down version in her set, so it was great to hear it in it's full glory. In fine voice, those high notes were hit! Her second song was a jaw dropping version of "Rescue me". This song really suited Mari's voice and was brilliant.

Glen Matlock
Glen Matlock was up next, and he played a guitar! His songs were "Pretty Vacant" from his time with the Sex Pistols which got the crowd roaring and then an unusual cover of Pharrell's "Happy".

Glenn Gregory then came back to take control of the stage and following an extremely good rendition of the Jimmy Webb song, "Wichita Lineman", it was straight into a dig at Phil with a part of the Human League's "Don't You Want Me" swiftly followed with another fabulous cover..... this time "Pop Muzik" by M, with the keyboard player, Berenice doing a sterling job supporting Glenn with his cover of this song written by her dad!

All of the artists came back on stage for a tribute to Colin Vearncombe (aka Black) who had been due to be in this tour, but he sadly passed away earlier in the year. As a tribute the guys sang "Wonderful Life".

A Heaven 17 show would not be complete without their signature tune, "Temptation" and the two backing singers really came into their forte with this one. Their vocals were superb and sounded so true to the original. Quite often girls singing such high end vocals can get a bit screechy, but this was very suited to their style, and worked a treat.

Mari Wilson and her signature tune "Just What I Always Wanted" - sounded fab



Royal Albert Hall
Friday 28th October 2016

It was great to welcome the grrrreat Brian Wilson back to the UK since he last graced our shores at the gig in Southend on Sea in September.

The joy about his gigs is not just the actual show, but the pre and post show social gatherings of the fans. A chance for like minded, passionate people to share thoughts and memories of the last fourteen years when we have always said.... "we have to buy a ticket because Brian might never come across again!!!"

Alex Mac's Red Jacket is legendary
Today's pre show gathering started mid afternoon in the Queens Arms, located in a quiet Mews around the corner from the Albert Hall. Unfortunately, none of the band joined us as they had in previous times, but none the less, it was a good few hours of chatting to friends and sharing in the atmosphere of what a Brian Wilson gig entails.

The fans had travelled quite a way, some from as far away as Scotland - could this be the last UK appearance of the legend that is Brian Wilson?

Our seats were first row circle slightly left of centre....... good seats as we had a great view of the stage and we didn't have to stand if we didn't want to (getting old now!). The fun of Brian Wilson concerts is spotting where our friends are sitting so as the venue started to fill it was a case of "spot our friends!".

The Drewett's spot "friends"

Dave and Kerri "spot" us

Darian Sahanaja and Gary Griffin
 The show did not disappoint. There was a very welcome return for Darian Sahanaja on keys, vocals and vibes, with Gary Griffin partnering. This meant "Darlin'" was in the set list, with a fantastic vocal from the Wondermint. He really has made this song his own over the last few years. Check out the video at the bottom of the page.

Speaking of the set list, it was broadly the same as we had experienced during the May/June dates. New additions were "California Saga" (which we had been treated to at Southend),  "Salt Lake City", "You're So Good To me" and a surprise addition of "Sail Away" from the last Brian Wilson album "No Pier Pressure" - a welcome addition given that Blondie Chaplin and Al Jardine who were prominent on that album were part of the band. Obviously to make way for these songs, something had to go, so we were missing the traditional opening of "Our Prayer" following with "Heroes & Villains", Brian opting to go straight into "California Girls".

The Blondie Chaplin showcase was also shorter with no "Funky Pretty".
Blondie Chaplin

The "left" side of the stage
The second half was standard - the complete "Pet Sounds" followed by the band intros and then the encore of the early 60's fun songs. Closing the night with "Love & Mercy" we were left wondering if this was the last time we would see Brian Wilson performing on this side of the pond. If it is the last show, it was a good one to end with. We are of course, hopeful he still has the tour bug and will come visit us again next year!
The "right" side of the stage

During the show, Brian was focused, energetic (in so far as he is ever energetic!) and seemed to enjoy himself. The sound was good and the band were on form. One thing we did notice was the difference having Darian back in the band made (and not just visually for Minty!). The difference really showed with the set up for the keys and vibes ....... something was different because during "Let's Go Away For A While" when Probyn Gregory, the multi talented, multi instrumentalist" comes to his fore and to the front of the stage to blow his trumpet, we noticed that he had to be mindful of where Darian was and he even had to move to one side, and take the microphone with him at times in order to allow Darian to use the keys/vibes. Something that was not done in the previous shows when the keys were in the control of Gary Griffin and Billy Hinsche.

The drum off on "Pet Sounds" between Nelson Bragg and Mike D'Amico was strong, the vocals from Matt Jardine who provided the falsetto flowed much more easily with Brian than they had earlier in the UK tour, although Brian did drop a few early words which Matt did not cover. The question is whether he should be expected to cover - Jeff did (just saying).

Probyn was going for the "Brexit" look!

Brian is certainly more fragile now. This tour has been brutal and  he has been on the road essentially most of the year. He tends to "speak" his lyrics rather than sing them now and he is getting short of breath. Does this matter? We guess reaction would be mixed. You have one camp that is just pleased to have him involved and another that expects him to be the main man. Us? We love the music, we love Brian Wilson and we love his band. The combination works for us!

Final Bow
Below are some of the videos:
The whole Drewett family did the "Surfin' USA" dance and you can watch it here......

Darian's fabulous rendition of "Darlin'"

Al Jardine on form for "Wake The World" and Probyn on trombone

Blondie took the lead on "Sail Away"

"Pet Sounds" includes a great bit of guitar from Nicky Wonder and a fantastic drum off between Nelson Bragg and Mike D'Amico

And here is the 8 minutes of footage with Paul Von Mertens introducing the band!


St Knollys Street, Reading
Saturday 22nd October 2016

This is the second time in as many months we have seen this brilliant UK Surf Punk band play.

Tonight, at the Queens Arms in Reading, there were three bands in the line up. Proceedings started with Silent Mode who were described as "brutal punks". If only they had stayed in silent mode! This was a duo, and although the drummer was quite good and kept a great beat, the singer/guitarist, despite having the use of a large pedal board, sounded exactly the same for every song. Just noise, no songs.

Second on were Horse Rock, a trio who played instrumentals whilst wearing WWF style face masks. They were described as "brutal surf punks". They were actually quite good, the novelty being that the drummer played a set of child's drums! They certainly had a surf twang about them and also did a good version of Billy Idol's "White Wedding".

Ray - a rare shot of the drummer!
The main attraction, and billed as "The Kings of Surf" was of course the Surfin' Lungs. We never get tired of seeing this band play, and seize every opportunity we can as they play more overseas in Italy and Spain at festivals than in the UK. If The Beach Boys had children with The Ramones, this would be the result - that punk power fuelled with high octane harmony.

They kicked off with a great version of the Fantastic Baggy's "Tell 'Em I'm Surfin'" and ended on "Peppermint Twist" (before their encore) and in between we got a mixture of their back catalogue and songs from their just recently released CD "Surf Factor 8" (yours for a mere £10 from their website here, and go to the merchandise page).

Highlights were "Don't Take My Baby" from their new CD, "Where Young Men Go To Cry" which has that great Be My Baby drum beat, "Pray For Sun" from their very first album and Minty's favourite instrumental "The Godfather" which just rocked. As Halloween is approaching, "The Munsters Theme" was included in the set, alongside "Surfin' Hearse".
Surfin' Lungs
So another great Surfin' Lungs gig... roll on Dec 3rd for their annual Christmas Party gig in Brighton.
The set list

Here is The Godfather in full swing.......


A Very Special Evening With Rod Argent & Colin Blunstone
St Albans Cathedral
St Albans, Herts
Friday 21st October 2016

Britain's oldest site of continuous Christian worship was the setting of what was billed as "A Very Special Evening....". We knew once the show was announced that this was one not to be missed. How often do you get the opportunity to hear Rod & Colin's vocals augmented by the natural acoustics of such a fine Cathedral?

The Programme
Introduced by the Dean, who said we were free to take as many photos as we liked (but not to use a flash) and to remember to tag the cathedral in our posts (!) the show started with Rod being let loose on the Cathedral Organ to give us the opening of "Rejoice". Minty had a vision of a Vincent Price style character in a long red robe hunched over the keys, and then letting out an insane laugh, but that was not to be!!!

However, despite the encouragement from the Dean, we did not take many pictures. The seating was flat and we would have blocked the view of the people behind us if we raised the camera. We did get a couple of sneaky photos during gaps when the audience were applauding though.

Once we had greeted  Rod and Colin as they took their places on the stage set at the top of the knave, the audience settled down to a quiet hush and the show began. The set up was simple - a grand piano for Rod to the left, Colin at a microphone in the middle and space for the string quintet on the right.

Before the Show - The stage in the knave of the cathedral

Colin Blunstone
Colin's voice has been tremendous every time we see The Zombies, and hearing him in the Cathedral was truly spine tingling. It was flawless. Rod's vocal was magnificent too - the best we've heard him. The sound was very good - not sure how hard it was to get the levels right in such a high ceiling building, with pillars and the like for the sound to bounce off, but they nailed it.

The first set ended with four songs accompanied by the string quintet, 3 violins, a cello and bass, one of which was a completely new arrangement so Rod and Colin were a bit nervous that it would go wrong. It didn't.

After an interval (where the Dean encouraged us to stock up on the drinks as the makeshift bar would close at the start of the second set), we were treated to the second set. This set included some of Odessy & Oracle, which we will never get tired of seeing live, and once again the audience were completely hushed. It was great to have such a respectful audience who listened instead of chattering! There was a magical moment near the very end of "This Will Be Our Year," where there was complete silence for a second and all you heard was Colin breathing in for the last couple of notes.

Ending on "She's Not There", we all of course yelled for more, and we got their lovely rendition of Gershwin's "Summertime".

A Very Special Evening..... it certainly was.

The show was being filmed and we spoke with Cindy their manager about it afterwards. Hopefully things will come out OK, but the lighting on Rod in the first half was not great, and the mic on the cello moved at one point, giving a bit of sound distortion until the celloist had the chance to move the mic back to its rightful position. We hope we get parts of it at least released.
Final bows at the end of the show

The programme for the show was well thought out and nicely presented, and included the set list. Pages are reproduced below:
1st Set

2nd Set
Page from the Programme

Back pages of the programme


Queen Caroline Street, Hammersmith
Friday 14th October

Click HERE for the Goo Goo Dolls official website

Before tonight we had only heard the name Goo Goo Dolls and we were not familiar with their music, so we had no idea what to expect from this sold out show at the Hammersmith Apollo. Outside we met up with Masayo who had our tickets. Masayo and her husband are as passionate about live music as we are.
Masayo and The Beeb outside the Apollo

Up in the gods, we had a really good view of the stage. The support act was Johnny Lloyd who has been the support for all of the UK dates. With a band of three backing him, we got a pretty decent half hour of what we would describe as indie rock.

The stage for the Goo Goo Dolls was minimalist....... a pedal board for the guitarist at the back, keyboard, drum kit....... no leads, no amps. Everything wireless. Hammersmith absolutely rocked.

The sound tonight was superb...... vocals were terrific, the guitars very clear (still couldn't work out where the amps were though) and with no wires trailing across the stage, the guys had room to move about freely.

So, what did they sound like?

We did not know the songs but they all sounded like big anthems and the crowd seemed to know every word.

A bit Bon Jovi, and 100% US stadium rock band sound! They were actually brilliant and we are sure these guys could do an arena tour without any worries of filling the venue!

Their best known anthem is a song called "Iris" which, from the title we would have said, "no, don't know that one" but once they started to play it at the end of the set, it was instantly recognisable and the air was punched by many fists!!!. Minty had thought it was a Nickelback song!!

John Rzeznik, the lead singer was very engaging and had a joke with the audience and in particular a guy from Belgium whose English was not the best, so the message the guy had on a card which he held up for the band to see was the source of a few naughty jibes!!! John also played a multitude of guitars from electric to acoustic. We don't think he used the same guitar for two consecutive songs so his guitar roadie was kept busy.

On occasion the other guitarist came to  the front to do a few bits of excellent lead. The main vocals were from John, but the bass player, Robby Takac took control of the mic a couple of times.

Would we go see this band again? Too right we would.... and we now know some of the songs! We've since listened to their new album a few times, and recognised a few of the ones thEy played live straight away.