With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

Music trivia, useless info, extra added random stuff and the odd rant from me

Isaac Gracie – The Crescent, York – Monday 16th April 2018 April 17, 2018


Another school night, another gig at the fabulous Crescent in York. Tonight was another excellent show from Northern Radar this time headlined by Isaac Gracie. But before I give you my opinion of Mr Gracie how about a big hand for the most amazing support act Matt Maltese. He has an album coming out in June and after seeing him play live that is a very, very exciting prospect. He is like a lounge version of Rufus Wainwright who wears his politics on his sleeve in 72 point bold font. “As The World Caves In” is an incredible song and a very worthy single, a copy of which I bought on the night. Matt’s between song bonhomie and sardonic wit is wonderfully original. I think perhaps that “Guilty” was my favourite highlight, but there were many, so that might change if you ask me again. I would unreservedly pay to see Mr Maltese again.

It would be somewhat of a cliché to say that I have seen the future of rock ‘n’ roll, let’s face it Jon Landau said that about Bruce Springsteen in 1974. However I have seen a very bright future for British music in the shape of Isaac Gracie. Twenty One year old Gracie is a former chorister with the Ealing Abbey Choir. He first came to the attention of the music industry after “Last Words” a song recorded on GarageBand in his bedroom was unleashed into the world in 2015. His songs are far more mature than his years and on top of that he comes across as wonderfully affable and self-deprecating on stage. For me he has all the finest qualities of a young Jeff Buckley. I had the privilege of seeing Buckley at the Reading Festival many, many years ago and Gracie has the same qualities in his songs, performance, raw talent, passion and demeanour. Check out his cover of Radiohead’s “No Surprises” and the Arctic Monkeys “Fluorescent Adolescent” on YouTube and see the ghost of Buckley made real. My wonderful wife Catherine a.k.a. Catwoman doesn’t come to many gigs with me, but she was blown away by this one.

His first album is a truly accomplished début “Terrified”, “Last Words”, “Reverie”, “Running On Empty” and “Silhouettes Of You” all feel like classic songs that have been with you your whole life and Isaac played all of them tonight. There was not a single dud song in his set, my particular highlights were “All In My Mind” and the haunting song of sadness that is “Darkness Of The Day”. “Was our love a work of art, before the painting fell apart”, is that not one of the best lyrical couplets ever written? It is almost 46 years since I attended my first gig and there have been hundreds since then, but this is without doubt one of the finest shows that I have ever seen. If Isaac Gracie does not become a world straddling star then there is something horribly wrong with this planet.

 

12 Days To Christmas – Day 12 – Father Christmas December 24, 2017


This is it Christmas Eve, day 12 of my 12 days to Christmas series of posts. The final one that brings you famous people from history featured in a song, obviously they have all been real and today is no exception. I bring you the bearded weirdy, the fat bloke in the red coat, yes old saint Nick or as I prefer to call him, Father Christmas. He is real ok, don’t let anyone hear you say otherwise! Father Christmas first appeared in the 17th century and until the Victorian age he was seen as a symbol of adult merry-making and feasting. It was around then that he became the bearer of yuletide gifts, especially to children. Santa Claus is an American traditional name for the Christmas figure. Father Christmas’ coat was depicted as green, brown and even blue. It was a big advertising campaign by Coca Cola in 1931 that switched to the now far more common red robes. As it’s Christmas I won’t be focusing on any particular artist today, but I have selected a diverse set of Father Christmas and Santa Claus songs. Finally I would like to wish all of my readers a very happy Christmas, or happy holiday, or a happy life, whatever floats your boat. Just be happy! If you would like to track Father Christmas’ progress in your area click here.

 

Hurray For The Riff Raff – The Crescent, York – Tuesday 15th August August 15, 2017


Having really loved Hurray For The Riff Raff‘s album ‘The Navigator’ on first hearing it earlier this year I was hoping to get the chance to see them live. Well that chance came around at a fabulous little venue, the Crescent, in my adopted home city of York. Were Hurray For The Riff Raff good? Well you will just have to read on to find out, but first let me tell you about the rather splendid support act, Alex Golisti. He played a great acoustic set including some of his own songs, one of which was an old banjo tune that he played on the guitar and had written his own lyrics for. He has a voice that at times shows similarities with both Tom Waits and George Ezra. He plays a style that evokes bluegrass and roots music with a modern twist. On top of all that he has a great self-deprecating sense of humour.

I was accompanied by my beautiful wife Catherine a.k.a. Catwoman this evening as she enjoyed ‘The navigator’ too. We were both very excited to be here and from the opening salvo of “Life To Save” and “Nothing’s Gonna Change That Girl” we were not disappointed. The energy shown by Alynda Lee Segarra and indeed the whole band never let up for the whole night. There were plenty of highlights notably for me the haunting rendition of “Fourteen Floors” with Alynda on keyboard. Then just when you think it couldn’t get better the band hit us with one of Segarra’s excellent protest songs, “Pa’ lante”. It has vision, power, heart, soul, deep emotion and an uplifting message. I understand that it is Spanish slang and that it means to “go ahead” or “go for it”. Alynda is very proud of her Puerto Rican roots and that shows on the current album and in her stage performance. The encore included a rousing cover of Springsteen’s “Dancing In The Dark” which had absolutely everyone on their feet. This is a band on top form and one who were really enjoying themselves. I will definitely be seeing them again! This was another great show from Please Please You, thank you Joe Coates.

 

“The Life I Love Is Makin’ Music With My Friends” August 9, 2017


Apparently the harmonica is the world’s best-selling music instrument. Who would have thought that such a small humble tool would be that successful? How many of you own a harmonica? Of those who do own one then how many of you can actually play it? While you’re thinking about that take a listen to ten of my favourite harmonica featuring tunes.

 

“The trial was a pig circus, he never had a chance” February 3, 2016


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The other day I decided to take a quick count of all the artists in my album collection where I have at least 10 albums by a single artist. I included CDs, LPs and cassettes (although the only non compilation cassettes that I have are David Bowie bootlegs). Oh and while I’m on bootleg recordings obviously I have included them whether they are live, studio outtakes or simply unreleased stuff. I have not included digital recordings. I was surprised to find that there are 4o artists where I have at least ten releases by them. The list is below, (artist followed by the number of albums) there are no real surprises for me, are you surprised at any on this list? Have you ever done anything similar? I have also added a song from each of the top ten artists 🙂

David Bowie 141
Bob Dylan 30
Johnny Nash 26
Bruce Springsteen 26
Beatles 25
Neil Young 25
Elton John 19
Bob Marley 19
U2 19
Rod Stewart 18
Pink Floyd 17
REM 17
Elvis Costello 15
The Eels 15
Prince 15
Paul Weller 15
Ryan Adams 14
Led Zeppelin 14
Madonna 14
The Clash 13
Elvis Presley 13
Radiohead 13
Kate Bush 12
Oasis 12
Lou Reed 12
Stevie Wonder 12
Morrissey 11
Tom Waits 11
ZZ Top 11
Jeff Buckley 10
Julian Cope 10
Johnny Cash 10
Michael Jackson 10
John Lennon 10
Manic Street Preachers 10
Kylie Minogue 10
Iggy Pop 10
Rolling Stones 10
Frank Turner 10
The Who 10

 

The Selecter and the Tuts – Leeds Brudenell Sunday March 8th 2015 March 9, 2015


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Last night was the first time I had been to a gig at the Brudenell in Leeds and I have to say it really is a fantastic venue. The eclectic and diverse mix of acts appearing there means that I will certainly come back. Anyway on to the main event; the Selecter. I had seen them once before but that would have been around 1979/ 1980 when I was younger than excellent support band the Tuts are now!

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I arrived at the venue just before the doors opened and met some really nice people in the queue. Roger you’re a top bloke! Soon after I came in Pauline Black and Gaps Hendrickson were manning the Selecter’s merch stand. Obviously I was always going to buy something, so I bought a Selecter polo shirt and a CD of the band’s new album; ‘Subculture’ which the pair of them signed for me. Pauline also signed my copy of her autobiography ‘Black By Design’ which I had finished reading a couple of weeks ago. It is an excellent book and every bit as good as recent autobiographies by John Lydon and Viv Albertine. In the book Pauline comes across as very open and honest and having met her, albeit briefly, she really is a wonderful woman. She and Gaps were very attentive with all the fans in the queue for Selecter product.

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As for the gig it was the amazing Tuts who opened the show. They are the support band on the Selecter’s UK tour and Pauline Black has championed them every step of the way. I think that this is the fourth time I have had the pleasure of seeing this incredible young band and it is clear to me that they just keep on getting better and better each time I see them. The stage costumes for tonight were made from a material patterned with the leaf of a popular and some would say refreshing herb. They looked very effective too! Their set was energetic and powerful and they certainly know how to work a crowd. On”Tut, Tut, Tut” especially for International Women’s Day they invited Sarah Statham from local band Esper Scout to drum the intro while all three Tuts ran through the crowd making sure that we all sang along. New song “Do I Have To Look For Love” will become a classic and old favourites like “Worry Warrior” and “Dump Your Boyfriend” already are. The girls cover of the Clash’s “Rudie Can’t Fail” was sublime. Nadia berated the music industry about the apparent need to posses a penis to succeed in the music business. Now those of us with half a brain know that shouldn’t be true, but judging from the line-up for Reading and Leeds this year it certainly and sadly has some credence. So come on all you labels and management companies stop all the macho willy waving and sign this band! Metaphorically they have more balls than many of the men in the music industry! The queue and interest in the band at their merch table was incredible which shows that the fans are there! So come on record labels how about a deal. As for more gigs what about another support slot? Garbage must need a decent support band and the could not go wrong with the Tuts, are you listening Shirley Manson?

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As for the headliners what can I say? The Selecter were awesome. They played most of their biggest songs; “On My Radio”, “Missing Words”, “Celebrate The Bullet” and my particular favourites; “Too Much Pressure” and “Three Minute Hero”. I thought “Danger” and “London’s Burning” went down a storm too and really got the crowd rocking! One of my newer favourites and it’s yet another crowd pleaser is “My England”. They played a few songs from the new album, which I have now played a couple of times now and it is bloody good. It gets an official release next month, but for now is available at the band’s merch stand on the rest of the tour. Some of the new material fits into the set so well that you’d think it had been around a while. “Box Fresh” could easily become a classic pop song. “It Never Worked Out” and “See Them A Come” are the Selecter at their best and on top form. Another song from the new album, “Breakdown” tackles the large number of black people who have died in custody in this country and is as you would expect very hard-hitting. This is clearly a band that stands up proudly for human rights and are openly anti racist and anti sexist, as frankly we all should be! The pre encore show ended with a magnificent version of “Last Train To Skaville” which had all the aging skinheads from the ska revival of the late 70s stomping and skanking hard enough to cave the floor in! Like me many of those folks now have a natural skinhead look given the lack of hair that age brings to some of us. The encore kicked off with a mighty version of “James Bond” and the Tuts joined the Selecter on stage at the end for a final goodbye to the Brudenell crowd. Nadia even managed to stage dive and briefly crowd surf. As for the energy of the band, Gaps must have sweated gallons! (Is there an exercise DVD that could be made from that performance?) Finally I should also mention two other covers that the Selecter performed; Doris Day’s “Secret Love” which worked really well when ska-ified and Springsteen’s “Because The Night” from the new album and for me worked even better when played live. Overall this was a cracking night and I would definitely not leave it as long before seeing the Selecter again and I am already looking forward to seeing the Tuts again.

You can still catch them both on the remaining dates of the UK tour and if you haven’t already done so then sort yourself a ticket out. You will not regret it!

OK and now for the usual public service note, this time the pictures were taken on my little phone but the videos were all obtained on You Tube.

 

 
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