With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

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

Tom Robinson Band – The Crescent, York – Wednesday 18th October 2017 October 19, 2017


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The first and last time I saw Tom Robinson play live was back in 1977, until now at least. I had a great interest in the Tom Robinson Band back in the late 70s as I spent a few years at Senior School sitting next to original TRB drummer Brian ‘Dolphin’ Taylor. That original TRB line up of Tom Robinson, Dolphin Taylor, Mark Ambler and Danny Kustow was a hard-hitting, powerful proposition that took the audience with them on their incendiary journey. So now that Tom has put together another TRB to play the whole of the exquisitely stunning and still relevant ‘Power In The Darkness’ album on its 40th anniversary I was very thrilled by the thought of seeing him live again after all those years. Did the gig live up to my very high expectations? Well you will have to keep reading to find that out.

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Before I give you my thoughts on the current TRB let me tell you about the marvellous support act, Lee Forsyth Griffiths. Lee has just released his third solo album and is also a longstanding member of Tom Robinson’s main band. Unusually in my experience he was introduced by Tom Robinson and Tom stayed in the audience to watch the whole of Lee’s set. Mr Griffith’s songs are beautifully crafted slices of life that ooze passion and emotion. He sings like he really means every word and I am sure that he does. Lee’s sense of humour is sharp and very funny too, I loved the comments about Oasis (Lee also has a song called “Married With Children”) and Kanye West. He had a very strong fan base in the audience with one bloke even stepping in when Lee appeared to briefly forget a lyric. I now have a signed copy of his new album and I will definitely be checking out his earlier stuff as well. You should do the same, you will not be disappointed.
Now it was time for the main event at the fabulous York venue that is the Crescent; the Tom Robinson Band playing the whole of the ‘Power In The Darkness’ album along with some other TRB hits from 1977/ 1978. Album and set opener “Up Against The Wall” remains a phenomenally strong tour de force with a lyric that works as well today as it did 40 years ago. In fact the whole album still sounds fresh, especially played live. The current TRB is every bit as good as the original band and features Jim Simmons an exceedingly gifted keyboard maestro, lead guitar virtuoso Adam Phillips who has also played in Richard Ashcroft’s band, powerhouse drummer Andy Treacey from Faithless and obviously Tom himself on bass guitar. Tom gave us a story about the one track from the album that has never been played live before this tour; track two, side two (well it was originally a proper LP record), “Man You Never Saw”. Apparently that song took two weeks to record, largely because the bass part was very challenging, well it is clear that Tom has mastered it now.

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“Grey Cortina” and “Too Good To Be True” kept the crowd fired up and singing along. Tom’s performance belies his age, although maybe he takes a few more moments between songs than he used to, but hell we are all 40 years older now, right? “Long Hot Summer” and the “Winter Of ‘79” were early peaks in a mountainous display from a singer and a band on top of their game and clearly enjoying themselves enormously. Tom updated some of the lyrics to a couple of songs with more pertinent and relevant names, Rees Mogg (the despicable Tory arse) featured in one to bring it up to date. As an introduction to “Better Decide Which Side You’re On” Tom reminded us of part of the wording on the back of the original LP sleeve; “I got no illusions about the political left any more than the right: just a shrewd idea which of the two side’s gonna stomp on us first”. This remains a part of my world view and I suppose looking back it was bands like TRB and the Clash that sparked my interest in politics and made me much more of a political animal. The title track of the album was also the last track on side two and it still holds a forceful message about human rights and how extremists seek to take that away. As protest songs go this has to be among the best.

dav

I love being close to the speakers 🙂

Tom broke a bass string and while Lee Forsyth Griffiths went searching for a replacement we were treated to a magnificent and rousing version of “Martin” which certainly gave the best crowd participation of the whole evening up to that point. “Martin” is such a great story song and retains a sense of poignancy and humour. After “Martin” the crowd singing just continued to grow with loud and stirring stomps through “Don’t Take No For An Answer” and “Glad To Be Gay”. A couple of times during the evening requests for Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released” which were strongly rejected by many in the crowd. Personally I would not have minded hearing it, but it certainly did not detract from what was an amazing show. Mr Robinson asked if we would mind if the band didn’t leave the stage and come back for an encore and just roll straight into the encore. Most of the crowd, including myself were of the generation that clearly understands the needs of us older folk. I bet you can’t guess what the encore was can you? Tom introduced it as “a medley of my greatest hit”. It was of course the classic “2-4-6-8 Motorway” which became a medley of sorts with brief diversions into Sly and the Family Stone’s “Dance To The Music” among others. This was without doubt an incredible gig which made me reminisce greatly about my lost youth, but in a very good way. I even got the opportunity to have a very brief conversation with Tom and I apologised for leaving such a long gap between seeing him live; he told me that it was better late than never! I don’t plan to leave it so long again, largely because if I did I would be 98 and Tom would be over 100. There are still a few shows left on this tour (take a look below) and I urge you to get yourself a ticket, in fact I won’t take no for an answer! Sadly the 100 Club shows in London appear to be unsurprisingly all sold out.
Friday 20 October 2017 – The Leadmill, Sheffield, UK
Saturday 21 October 2017 – HOME, Manchester, UK
Tuesday 24 October 2017 – 100 Club, London, UK
Wednesday 25 October 2017 – 100 Club, London, UK
Thursday 26 October 2017 – 100 Club, London, UK
Saturday 28 October 2017 – Riverside, Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK
Sunday 29 October 2017 – King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow, UK
Friday 08 December 2017 – Nell’s Jazz & Blues Club, London, UK
If you have been to any dates on this tour or are planning to I would love to hear what you thought of the show.

dav

 

“Louder than sirens louder than bells sweeter than heaven and hotter than hell” a.k.a. 12 drummers drumming December 24, 2012


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Please tell me that this is the last gifts my true love is sending me for the 12 days of Christmas. I have just about managed to squeeze the 12 drummers into the cupboard, but what the hell am I going to do with 12 bloody huge drum kits? Anyway did you know that the 364 items given as gifts in the 12 days of Christmas song would cost £67,000 this year according to PNC Wealth Management. That is a 6.1% increase on the previous year. I have searched high and low to snare some good songs about drumming that might help to ‘cymbalize’ Christmas. Look out for a couple of Billy Bonuses to end this series of posts too.

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First up is the lovely Florence Welch and her Machine with “Drumming Song”. The song was released as a single in 2009 and managed a lowly number 54 in the UK. It comes from the album ‘Lungs’ an international hit LP that went to number 1 in the UK and top 5 in Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. The single did slightly better in the NMEs top 50 songs of the year for 2009 where it finished 48th. “Drumming Song” was nominated for best video at the 2009 Q Awards and Best Pop Video at the UK Music Video Awards in the same year. Whilst it won neither of these it did take the prize for Best Styling In A Video at the UK Awards.

Florence + The Machine - Spectrum

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The second song I have chosen for you today is probably an obvious choice for a festive song to those of you who know me. It’s the Dame and the Crooner; better known as David Bowie and Bing Crosby with “Peace On Earth/ Little Drummer Boy”. The former was written especially for Bowie’s appearance on Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas TV show. The show was recorded in September 1977 and it was alleged that Crosby didn’t know who Bowie was. personally I doubt that is true. Bowie also performed “Heroes” on the show. the music press utilised all their black humour skills in late 1977 suggesting that no one would ever want to appear on TV with Bowie. This was largely because he had recorded TV shows with Marc Bolan and then Bing Crosby and within a few weeks both Bolan and Crosby had died. “Peace On Earth/ Little Drummer Boy” was finally released as a single in the UK in 1982. It reached number 3 in the UK and Germany and number 6 in Ireland that year.

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And next up is the first of my Billy Bonuses for today, supreme drummer Cozy Powell with “Dance With Devil”

And an extra Billy Bonus for your delight. When I was at school I sat next to a young man who was already a skillful drummer and he went on to ply his trade with the Tom Robinson Band and Stiff Little Fingers. His name is Brian ‘Dolphin’ Taylor. I haven’t seen him in more than 30 years. But Brian if you happen to be reading this feel free to get in touch.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish all my readers a very, very funky happy Christmas and a groovy new year :-)

I would like to take this opportunity to wish all my readers a very, very funky happy Christmas and a groovy new year 🙂

 

“So tonight gotta leave that nine to five upon the shelf and just enjoy yourself” June 26, 2009


OK so I haven’t posted much lately but I couldn’t let a momentous event like the death of Michael Jackson go by without posting could I? As many of you know the first gig I ever saw was the Jackson 5 at the Wembley Empire Pool (now known as the WembleyArena). I went with a school friend, Brian Taylor who later found fame as an incredibly talented drummer for the Tom Robinson Band and the Stiff Little Fingers amongothers. (Brian if by some weird twist of fate you’re actually reading this feel free to get in touch). The importance of the group to Motown was apparent in the choice of support acts; Junior Walker and the All Stars and a pre-fame Commodores.

Sadly I actually had a jacket similar to that, but it was the 70s!

Sadly I actually had a jacket similar to that, but it was the 70s!

If my memory serves me well the Jackson 5 had recently released the fabulous “Looking Through The Windows” single, which I still love to this day. In fact I still play a few Jackson 5 songs in my DJ sets. Most recently I ran “I Want You Back” next to “ABC“. Indeed the former has been the ring tone on my mobile phone for months now. Those early J5 songs were fantastically produced, supremely well written and perhaps most importantly performed so brilliantly. I think that at the time, perhaps because I was pretty much the same age as Michael Jackson (he was born in August 1958 and I was born in January 1959) the J5 were by far my favourite group. I’m not ashamed to admit either that I used to mime to those early singles in front of the mirror using my hairbrush (for in those days not only did I possess one I actually needed to use it) as a microphone. Go on there must be more of you who did that kind of thing, like maybe miming to Hendrix using your tennis racket as a guitar? Post a comment about it, let’s have a series of ‘Confessions Of A Teenage Mime Artist’

Mike on the mic

Mike on the mic

Anyway back to the late great Michael Jackson as the J5 was the first live act I ever saw (I’m not counting the dreadful covers bands that played in hotels when my folks took me to Spain as a youngster – “Guantanamera” in-bloody-deed!) I was always going to interested in them to some degree. I followed their recording career quite closely throughout the 70s. Stuff like “Dancing Machine” is excellent. Then they left Motown to join Epic and produced some great stuff there too, for me the best being “Enjoy Yourself” and “Show You The Way To Go“. I felt that from around 1972 until “Off The Wall” Michael’s solo releases were at best patchy. But when “Off The Wall” hit the record racks that has to be the moment he began to ascend the stairs to super-stardom. He probably reached a level of fame that no one else ever has. In terms of fame he was probably far bigger than the Beatles or Elvis ever were. That level of celebrity must bring such pressure to bear on the way you need to live your life and maybe that’s perhaps where things began to go a little awry. Now is not the time to discuss the allegations of child abuse and whether I believe he was guilty or not is irrelevant. But I will say that it might have been better if he wasn’t surrounded by ‘yes men’ who did nothing to control his excesses. Did those people really care about him or about their own wealth? I’ll let you make your own minds up on that one! What is undeniable though is that he was one of the most talented individuals ever to have graced the world of music. His contemporaries from an age perspective at least were Madonna and Prince. Both of them are also supremely talented, but on the same level as MJ? I don’t think so. I reckon that Michael would probably appear in the top tens of more music fans than any other artist. What do you think dear readers?

A still from the Billie Jean video

A still from the Billie Jean video

The ‘Off The Wall’ album was the first in what proved in my opinion at least to be a trilogy of his greatest recordings. This was followed by the juggernaut that was ‘Thriller’ and then by the underrated (in my opinion) ‘Bad’. After that I never felt he reached those artistic highs again and I’m not sure that he ever would, but now we’ll never know will we?

‘Thriller’ sold in excess of 50 million copies worldwide, I wonder how many more copies will be sold now he has died? Remember that people tend to buy lots of product of immediately deceased stars. Just recall all the hits that Elvis and John Lennon had after they died, in some cases many years after they died

A still from the Zombie dance in the Thriller video

A still from the Zombie dance in the Thriller video

I would like to think that history looks reasonably kindly on Michael Jackson. He was a truly talented individual and yes he had flaws, some allegedly quite serious. But then how many of us can say we are completely flawless?

So let’s celebrate MJ’s life with another view of his superb performance at the Motown 25th Anniversary show in 1983. Click here to see it. Additionally Mojo Magazine has an excellent collection of Jacko videos on their website, click here to see them.

Also did any of you ever see his collaboration with my favourite author, Stephen King? It was a short but superb movie called “Ghosts”

I happened to visit HMV at lunchtime today and oh boy have they moved quickly. Nothing but Jacko on the sound system and stacks of his CDs now occupying prime positions in the store whereas last week they were all in the sale items (2 for £10). I know that sales people are often seen as cynical but to do that so soon after the guy is dead really takes the biscuit!

The tributes from other celebrities are quite interesting too, here are some words from Celine Dion; “He was not only a talented person, but he was unique – a genius. It’s such a loss. It feels like when Kennedy died.” Now it’s kinda strange that she seems to remember how that felt when Kennedy was killed in 1963 and Ms Dion wasn’t born until 1968.

Thanks to Popbitch for the following  joke I know that the usual crop of sick jokes are doing the rounds as well, but I actually found this one quite amusing, here goes, but don’t read it if you think you might feel just a little bit offended ok. You have been warned; 

 There will be a post-mortem today to determine which was the cause of death:

 A) Sunshine B) Moonlight C) Good Times D) Boogie

And a bit of fun to try and cheer up Jacko’s fans, here is an excellent Bollywood version of Thriller (thanks again to Popbitch for pointing this one out too)

Overall the BBC coverage of Michael’s death has been excellent, check it out here.

As a bit of an epilogue to this story I actually received my 15 minutes of fame this morning (well more like 15 seconds actually) when I made a brief appearance on BBC Radio York (thank you to Liam for arranging that!) this morning to comment on MJ and how it was the first gig I’d ever seen.

 

 
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