Fay Fife Fo Fum – The Rezillos live 07/06/14

Half an hour into the Rezillos’ set, a mosh pit is forming.

By my reckoning the total age of the drunk,bald and balding middle-aged men in the mosh pit is close to four figures.

I can’t believe we’re all still here and still (knees allowing) pogoing. Soon it will be the fiftieth anniversary of punk. Think about THAT for a minute
Back in ’77, The Rezillos … stood out. It sounded punky. But the singing was different. They used to have a Dalek on stage. They had boy/girl singers. They sang in Scottish.

John Peel played their debut single Can’t Stand My Baby to death on his show and it was GREAT. A bit different from the snarling of the first wave of punk bands to hit.

The support tonight is the immaculately named Dick Venom & The Terrortones. A rocky, horror-influenced noise, and a Rocky Horror influenced frontman giving it loads. We love you, Dick.

The Rezillos love doing this and being here and the original cartoony, kitschy concept of the band means they can bridge the years quite easily.

Of the original band, bassist William Mysterious is no longer with us and principal songwriter and guitarist Jo Callis was recruited by the Human League after the original band split in 1978, but original drummer Angel Patterson remains and as long as the band’s faces Eugene Reynolds and his wraparound sunglasses and Fay Fife (greatest joke name ever – “Where are you from?” “Ah’m fae Fife”) are up front then it doesn’t matter who’s on stage with them.

In fact, I ended up on stage with them myself after a particularly big crowd surge. It was that or fall over and I chose safety and brief rock and roll stardom. The band didn’t seem to mind. Things may have gone differently if it was Kevin Rowland or John Lydon up front…

It very briefly flashed through my mind that this is how Chas Smash of Madness and Bex from Happy Mondays got started, and I contemplated staying up there and having a dance but bottled it. Sigh.

The new tunes they played were surprisingly great. No deviation from the template here, Take Me To The Groovy Room, another one whose name I didn’t catch and the and ??? as well as recent single No.1 Boy :

Excellent nostalgic gig. Yeah, the sound wasn’t perfect. Yeah, they’re getting on a bit now – but then down in the mosh pit so are us middle-aged dreamers, dreaming of our youth when we had a bit of fire in our bellies where now we just have 40-plus years’ worth of beer there.

Beats the hell out of growing old gracefully.

You can hear a couple of old Rezillos tracks, and a live version of the new track Take Me To The Groovy Room on this week’s Beat City podcast here:


Also includes tracks from the new albums by …

The Moulettes …

Kate Tempest …

and Lee “Scratch” Perry …

And a themed section involving songs about the finest of all the fruits

London Gig Guide 19th – 25th February Chris T-T Fat White Family Mary Wilson (Supremes) Absentees

A few selections from the London gig scene this week as things start ramping up as spring and the better weather approaches – hard though it may seem to believe over the last week.

Mariam The Believer – Electrowerkz (Wednesday)

Sweden’s Mariam Wallentin came up with one of the best albums of last year in “Blood Donation”, a record she describes as “sounding like something you’ve dug up from the dark ground”, which is a pretty accurate description for my money.

Amira Kheir – Rich Mix Arts Centre, Bethnal Green (Thursday)

“Hailed as the ‘Diva of the Sudanese desert’ (Journal du Mali) Sudanese-Italian singer Amira Kheir has been enchanting audiences around the world with a sound inspired by traditional music from her homeland Sudan and anchored Jazz and Soul. The result is a unique style of ‘Sudani-Jazz’ that gives tasters of Sudan’s rich musical heritage of distinctive Saharan blues and Sufi music whilst being reflective of the artist’s key Afrocentric and Jazz musical upbringing.

As a young singer, musician and composer now residing in London, Amira draws from her own multicultural background to create music that explores themes of home, belonging and transcendental spirituality. Her music is evocative of Northern Sudan’s desert landscape and celebrative of its ancient culture, but recognising of the world’s multitude realities and rooted in a desire to break all the boundaries used to keep people divided. It is anchored in a compelling call to come together irrespectively of our backgrounds to share our single human journey. Within Amira’s music is a universal message of peace, love and unity and global call to rise up and confront oppression, corruption and injustice. This young artist is rapidly establishing herself as one of the new voices in the African renaissance.

Andy Fairweather Low – Club WM (Friday)

Andy Fairweather-Low was a sixties teen heart-throb and lead singer / guitarist with Amen Corner, the band whose name John Peel famously forgot on a rare appearance on Top Of The Pops in the late sixties.

His trademark high vocals graced hits like “Bend Me Shape Me” and “If Paradise Is Half As Nice” (see below for a recent live performance of the latter)

He had further hits in the 70s with “Reggae Tune” and possibly the greatest song ever written about the Demon Drink, “Wide Eyed And Legless”.

In recent years he’s opened for the likes of Eric Clapton but I for one will not be holding that against him. Still sounds pretty good as you can see from this clip of him singing Amen Corner’s biggest hit.

Chris T-T & The Hoodrats / Capyaras / Laura Cannell = Union Chapel (Saturday lunchtime)

A candidate for the loveliest venue in London, the Union Chapel isn’t a converted church – it’s still a working church. With everyone sitting in pews, it creates a completely different gig environment. Seeing Laura Veirs here a couple of years ago remains a personal highlight.

This week sees something a bit special with Chris T-T and the Hoodrats headlining, playing tracks from their excellent album “The Bear” along with older stuff – Chris has a hell of a back catalogue. He’s described on the Union Chapel site as “a modest but exceptional songwriting talent” which is probably accurate – some of wish he was less modest, then he’d be better known 8=)

Here’s Chris T-T in acoustic solo mode

Akala – Jazz Cafe (Sunday)

Interesting bloke, Akala. He’s been a round a few years, starting off in the grime dungeon but moving towards hip-hop as he got a bit older. He writes proper lyrics actually about stuff and is well worth catching live

Absentees – Ye Olde Rose & Crown (Sunday)

Moving from proper hip hop to proper folk, Absentees are a cross cultural group from the US, Ireland and the UK. They are a living representation of evolving roots music whilst still being steeped in tradition.

The group is comprised of four of the best instrumentalists and vocalists on the UK Americana scene.

Keeping American folk culture and political song alive, along with original, contemporary folk music.

An Afternoon With Mary Wilson – Tricycle Theatre (Monday) – also The Drum Theatre, Birmingham (Tuesday)

Not to be confused with be-beehived eighties jazz/pop singer Mari Wilson, nor with seventies country singer and one-hit wonder Meri “Telephone Man” Wilson – nay, nor EVEN with Mary Wells, first superstar of Motown in the early sixties.

Mary Wilson, original Supreme, fine songstress, writer of the best music autobiography I have ever read – “Dreamgirl – My Life As A Supreme” – the title referencing the Broadway musical Dreamgirls which had a loose connection to the Supremes’ story.

Expect stories and chat with some tunes, and if you really want to wind her up, ask her about Diana Ross’s behaviour at Florence Ballard’s funeral.

I felt really old when I saw this was on in the afternoon – I guess the target audience for classic Motown, half a century on from the Supremes’ first big hit (below), has gotten into tea-dance territory. Still, it would have been nice for those of us who still have to slave away for The Man nine-to-five to attend.

From the sparky way the book is written, and also from hearing Mary being interviewed on the radio, I’d say this will be a major highlight of the week – tickets still available last time I looked.

Organised by The American Embassy, which is exactly and entirely the sort of thing American Embassies ought to be doing instead of bombing people.

Fat White Family – Electrowerkz (Tuesday)

This is the one. South London’s finest headline one of the excellent series of NME Awards shows that they put on all over London every February prior to the NME Awards Show, which always has an interesting and challenging line-up. The NME is fighting the good fight against the increasing corporatisation of music and should be supported.

See you dahn the front for at least a couple of those 8=)

There will also be tracks from four or five of the artists featured on the Beat City podcast #17 available from next Monday


London Gig Guide 29th Jan – 4th Feb Maximo Park, Stabbing A Dead Horse, John Otway

Seven days, seven great gigs, seven great venues. Well, technically I’ve only been to six of the seven personally, but I’m sure the Finsbury is loverly too.

Hidden Cameras / Melissa Laveaux – Bush Hall Wednesday 29th January

Canadian indie pop band The Hidden Cameras bring their gay church folk music to the Bush Hall.

They were part of the best live gig I have ever seen, supporting Broken Social Scene at a festerval of Canadian indie music in Vevey, Switzerland, organised by the Canadian government for Reasons Unknown To Me.

The vid to their recent single Gay Goth Scene is excellent btw, as is the tune.

Rachael Dadd / Ichi – Green Note, Camden Thursday 30th January

Experimental folk multi-instrumentalist Rachael Dadd splits her time between Japan and England, constantly touring, constantly writing, skipping from one fleetingly romantic show to another- whether it be a church in England, a gallery in Japan or atop a mountain in Switzerland.

Her recordings are often born from late nights at home plugged into her 4-track.

When she’s not playing, she’s sewing album sleeves and record bags – a true DIY artist in every sense of the word.

Her time in Japan has had a great impact on her sound, and this influence is most apparent in the songs on her recent album Bite The Mountain.

Rachae is supported by her husband Ichi, and by that I don’t mean he pays all the bills, I mean he will be playing some songs before she comes on.

John Otway – The Ivy House, Nunhead, Friday 31st January

The Ivy House in Nunhead is London’s first co-operatively owned pub, which makes them worthy of your custom straight away.

Even better than that, rock’n’roll’s most talented failure John Otway is playing.

This clip from the Old Grey Whistle Test in 1977 is nothing short of genius.

Cat Bear Tree – The Finsbury, Saturday 1st February

Named after a kick-ass cat and a cowardly bear (and for all we know, an even-tempered oak), Cat Bear Tree have got … something about them for sure.

This is the launch of their debut single “Spces In Between” following on from the “Let’s Share Hearts” EP. Sweet and tuneful to begin with but builds brilliantly.

Stabbing A Dead Horse Tour – Slight Return – Barfly, Camden, Sunday 2nd February

A few months ago three superb new prog-rock bands Knifeworld, The Fierce & The Dead and Trojan Horse set out on a UK tour under the banner “Stabbing A Dead Horse”, the banner title coming from a conflation of the three bands’ names. And possibly, lots of beer.

Billed as “Stabbing A Dead Horse – Slight Return” this one-off London date promises to be the first great live gig of 2014.

Here’s the vlog from the previous tour. And as always at a Sunday gig in Camden, you can spend the day in Regent’s Park or dahn the markets. Or in bed, it’s up to you, whatever.

Maximo Park – Sebright Arms, Monday 3rd February

Indie faves Maximo Park descend upon us once again to tour their new album “Too Much Information”. Sounds a LOT like it was made in 1981, which is just fine and dandy by this old punk.

Stealing Dan & Don – Bulls Head, Barnes, Tuesday 4h February

Excellent to see the new owners of legendary jazz/blues music pub the Bulls Head are maintaining the tradition, seemingly with quite a few of the regular acts retaining their regular slots – Alan Price and the Humphrey Lyttleton Big Band later in the month and on Tuesday, the best Steely Dan tribute band you’re likely to hear.

Hope you can still get a curry delivered to the front bar from the Thai restaurant next door, mind.

Gotta be something in there for everybody, surely? See you dahn the front !

London Gig Guide w/e Tue 28th Jan 2014

Wednesday 22nd January – George Ezra – Lexington

Not gonna let George Ezra’s inclusion on the BBC’s “You WILL Listen To This Music, Peasants!” list for 2014 put me off him.

George Ezra is the real deal. For the voice alone. And then there’s the songs. This gig is sold out but I bet you can get in the fire exit if you’re really determined. Come on, we’ve all done it.

Wednesday 22nd January – Trams – Sebright Arms

The Sebright is a brilliant venue once you find it – maybe it’s just me being thick as pigshit. This one ain’t sold out at the time of typing, and if the Marc Riley seal of approval isn’t enough for you, check out these two live songs:

Thursday 23rd January – Chrome Hoof – Oslo, Hackney

Brand new venue, christened on Tuesday by Dry The River, so I can’t give you any information whatsoever about the acoustics, drinks, whatever.

What I DO know is that Chromehoof (i) made Simian Mobile Disco work really hard to follow them at a blistering gig at Koko a coupla years back and (ii) the band’s Chrome Black Gold is one of the most criminally overlooked albums of last year.

I’m sorry, but if you don’t like a band describing themselves as “prog disco” then we can’t be friends. See you dahn the front for some proggy danceable action !

Friday 24th January – Adam Green – Dingwalls

I’m not as familiar with Adam Green’s solo stuff as with the other 50% of Moldy Peaches, Kimya Dawson (or Kimya Awesome as I like to call her #alanpartridgelives).

This clip is from last November and he looks in pretty good nick. The first song here with its jolly almost Jewish-folky”I Like Drugs” refrain is particularly fine.

Saturday 25th January – Punkfest – New Cross Inn, New Cross

Supoib venue, the New Cross Inn. Last time I was here, I was watching the Lurkers while supping my pint from a safe distance back, carefully avoiding the mosh pit, when without any warning a bloke in his late thirties stood next to me started bouncing up and down and spinning his arms round and round, knocking my beer flying.

I stared at him for a good minute – and not being funny but even though I’m as soft as shite, I do quite a good impression of a total hard bastard in these circumstances.

He just looked at me, shrugged his shoulders and said “I can’t help it mate. I’m a total arsehole”. Totally disarmed me.

Anyway, he’ll probably be at this gig so mind your drinks.

This kind of gig is what the New Cross Inn excel at. Fifteen punk bands for a tenner, starting at 1.30 and going on till late, headlined by the legendary 999

Sunday 26th January – The Sorrows – Underworld

The Sorrows are one of the great unsung bands of the Sixties.

Why not make a retrotastic Camden-centric day of it?

Visit the Beatles shop by Baker Street. Get the tube to Warwick Avenue. Take a walk along the canal to Camden Lock, passing all them expensive houses and going through the zoo at one point.

Do a bit of shopping in the markets, eating at one of the street food stalls.

Walk it off in Regent’s Park then head back up Parkway, stop for a bottle of Gladness (Madness’s very own beer) at the Dublin Castle, then ensconse yourself in World’s End until gig time at Underworld below.

Monday 27th January – Peggy Sue – St Pancreas Old Church

Formerly Peggy Sue And The Pirates, this could be the perfect venue for their brand of quietly left-field indie folk.

Tuesday 28th January – Soweto Kinch – Jazz Cafe

A unique performer, taking jazz improvisation to another level by incorporating hip-hop. Not everybody’s cup of tea but intriguing nonetheless.