With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

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

The Specials – Barbican, York – Thursday 9th May 2019 May 12, 2019


This was the third time I had seen the Specials, once back in the early days and more recently at this same venue back in November 2016. That 2016 gig was marred by the poor sound quality and a relatively short set from the band. Was it better this time? Well yes, it was, but before I tell you about that you need to know about the spectacularly talented support band the Tuts. Regular readers will know that I am a big fan of this all-girl punk powerhouse of a band from the area of west London that I hail from. They have rather skillfully rechristened themselves a three-tone band for this tour. A support slot like this doesn’t come along too often and it is perfect for the Tuts. I have previously seen them supporting Kate Nash and the Selecter and this is now the seventh time I have seen them play live since February 2014. They simply get better and better every time and I believe that they are still some way from reaching their peak. Nadia, Bev, and Harriet played a rabble-rousing selection of songs from the Tuts debut album ‘Update Your Brain’. Particular highlights were “Always Hear The Same Shit”, “1982” and “Dump Your Boyfriend”. But the song that really set the crowd alight like a Molotov cocktail in a firework factory was “Tut Tut Tut”. Bear in mind that when the Tuts were announced as the support for this tour almost all the shows had sold out so the girls had to win the audience over. They didn’t just win them over they thrashed them into submission to a point where they had no choice but become fans. The energy generated by this band could power a small city. We were given a choice of cover versions and the crowd chose the Clash classic “Rudie Can’t Fail” rather than the Spice Girls “Wannabe”. Personally, I would have been happy with either but the Clash tune won by a landslide and I am sure that the ghost of Joe Strummer was filled with pride by the Tuts version. The Tuts merch stand looked to be doing great business later in the evening with, hopefully, legions of Specials fans now also into the Tuts. I do know that my mate Simon Hernaman purchased the Tuts album on CD. If you have not yet seen or listened to the Tuts you really need to sort your life out and do it. I reckon they are probably one of the best, if not the best, bands in the UK right now. I do know that Nad Tut disagrees with me on that, she told me that they see themselves as the best band in the world and frankly who am I to argue with that! Go Tuts!

Finally, it was the turn of the Specials to take to the stage, they were preceded by a wonderfully exuberant and tasteful DJ set by Saffiyah Khan. The band opened at full pelt with “Man At C & A” with Lynval firing up the crowd from the opening salvo, although to be fair we didn’t need much firing up. There were some inspired selections from their critically acclaimed album ‘Encore’, notably “Vote For Me”, the Valentines cover “Blam Blam Fever” and an impassioned “Ten Commandments” which featured Saffiyah Khan. But the highpoint of the newer material was for me the reworked Fun Boy Three tune “The Lunatics Have Taken Over The Asylum” which is still, sadly as highly relevant now as it was when it was originally released back in 1981. The three remaining original members of the band, Lynval Golding, Horace Panter (a.k.a. Sir Horace Gentleman) and Terry Hall were on top form. Hall’s laconic dry humour was on display on pretty much every occasion he chose to speak to the crowd. Special mention must be given to one of the UK’s greatest guitar players, Steve Cradock who added some intense rock sounds to every song. What I have always loved about the Specials is how when they do a cover version it really does become one of their own, particularly in the live arena. The crowd were full on skanking for “A Message To You Rudy” (originally by Dany Livingstone), “Do The Dog” (originally by Rufus Thomas) and it would be an understatement to say that the crowd went apeshit (no pun intended) for a riotously uncontained romp through the Maytals “Monkey Man”. It is the originals from the early days, though, that hit the highest heights for me. “Do Nothing”, “Rat Race”, “Nite Klub”, “Friday Night, Saturday Morning”, “Gangsters” and “Too Much Too Young” still retain nuclear levels of ska punk power. A nineteen song set took us to the inevitable encore and what a treat that encore was. It kicked off with a reggae instrumental jam, I have no idea what the title was. This was followed by another classic that is still as pertinent today as it was nearly forty years ago, “Ghost Town”. This mercurial performance from the Specials was closed with a Skatalites cover “You’re Wondering Now” which also featured Saffiyah Khan. This was a fitting end to a truly great show which proved beyond any reasonable doubt that the Specials have still got it!

 

Public Service Announcement – all the pictures, apart from the tour poster, were taken on my cheap android phone. The videos were found on YouTube. If you would like to be credited or have them removed please let me know.

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‘Counting Pennies In The Afterlife’ – Colour Me Wednesday May 17, 2018


The sophomore album from the exquisitely fabulous Colour Me Wednesday is released today on Dovetown Records. It has the best album title that I have seen in years, ‘Counting Pennies In The Afterlife’ and on first listen I can say without a single shadow of a doubt that it is a pop masterpiece. Their first album ‘I Thought It Was Morning’ from 2013 was very, very good but for me this one tops it. I believe it has a really summery feel to it and at times is evocative of the finest late 60s US west coast rock. But at its core it remains, as you would expect from Colour Me Wednesday, a truly British album. If you were looking for a dud track here you wouldn’t find it.

Album opener “Sunriser” kicks off the whole collection with sonic energy and harmonies to die for. The harmonies on this LP surely have their roots in some of the finest Motown and Phil Spector harmonies. I would also argue that some of the jangly indie guitar riffs are almost Byrdsian in their construct. The production is crystal clear throughout and there is sometimes a real incongruity between the depth (and sometimes darkness) of the lyric and the happy vibe of the music. That contradiction, most notable on “Sad Bride”,  is something that the Smiths were masters at, well Colour Me Wednesday are just as skilled with that as Morrissey and Marr were. Are Colour Me Wednesday a punk band? Maybe not in sound but in attitude, approach, boldness, appetite, belief and passion they are 100% punk.

Like their label mates the Tuts this band is political, but not just fashionable pin badge political, they understand life and what it is like to be human and that is writ large in their words. Their songs tell their stories with intelligence, integrity and a soulfulness that is unmatched by many of their contemporaries. One particular lyric, from “Exposure” made me think deeply, “you get one life and you can do more than just survive”. Surely a mantra for living in the 21st century. After two spins so far my favourite songs are “Tinfoil”, “Boyfriend’s Car” and “Edge Of Everything” but that is highly likely to change each listen, largely because every one of the eleven tracks is an indie pop masterstroke. The post song little girl spoken/ sung interlude at the end of “Not My Turf” is bizarre, weird, menacing, disturbing and wonderful. That has to be an adult voice treated by production wizardry right? Jen, Harriet, Jaca and Laura have put together a record that is clearly a contender for album of the year. Is it also the best album ever? Some people believe it might be!

 

 

The Tuts – Wharf Chambers, Leeds – Wednesday 21st September 2016 September 23, 2016


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I believe this is the fifth time that I have seen the magnificent Tuts play live since that first time supporting Kate Nash back in April 2013. They get so much better every time, but enough about them for a moment because this show at the delightful Wharf Chambers venue in Leeds also boasted a couple of excellent support acts. First on stage where Milk Crimes, a brilliantly gifted band who I first encountered when they supported Colour Me Wednesday at the Fulford Arms in York earlier this year. They are part Bis, part Buzzcocks and part Pixies. But the overwhelming majority of their parts are pure and original Milk Crimes. A great band with some great tunes and frankly any band with a song entitled “Hail Satan” is alright with me!

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Crywank were next as they brought their bottled madness to Leeds. What kind of genre are they? Who knows? Who cares? The answer to both of those questions is probably no and it really doesn’t matter for Crywank are a stunningly eclectic and talented combo. They are so out there and just utterly fucking brilliant. Actually I might even describe them as Zappa-esque. Drums and an acoustic guitar with songs that are either nonsense lyrics or wonderful vignettes of everyday life. They made an offer that I don’t recall ever hearing from another band; give us some weed an we’ll give you an album. Now that is a good deal, but where the hell did I put my stash?

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Now it was time for the main event, the Tuts who were by now close to half way through a headline UK tour in support of their stunning first album ‘Update Your Brain’. That album is getting some great reviews; 9 out of 10 from Vive Le Rock Magazine, click here for my review of the album. They opened with the rousing put down of sexism in the music industry “Tut Tut Tut”. The first single from the album, “Let Go Of The Past” had the capacity crowd leaping and bouncing all the way through. The song that has become something of a Tuts standard, “Dump Your Boyfriend” rocked Wharf Chambers to its foundations helped along by a crowd that seemed to know the words to all the songs. As Nad Tut remarked later in the set this was a really special moment, having the crowd singing back to you and I most certainly agree.

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The Tuts remain a DIY band and let’s face it it’s hard to get more ‘punk’ than that. They have no label and no manager, although briefly last year they did have a manager. He didn’t last long as his glory days were so far in the past that all his ‘key’ music contacts were probably dead by 1982 and that is kind of what the magnificent “1982” is all about. The band gave us a choice of cover songs; the Clash‘s “Rudie Can’t Fail” or the Spice GirlsWannabe“. It was a landslide win for “Wannabe” and I must confess it got my vote too. Nad Tut, Hat Tut and Bev Tut evoke the spirit of girl power far more strongly than Scary and the gang. On top of that their powerful version of the Spice Girls first hit is loud and great fun. There was the now obligatory foray into the audience from Nadia and Harriet which the crowd lapped up. They played a rollicking version of my current favourite Tuts song, “Give Us Something Worth Voting For” too. But in what seemed like a fleeting moment their set ended with the fabulous “Back Up”. The Tuts are a band that for me are really on the cusp of major success and I hope they get there. They have talent, intelligence, principles and they know how to win an audience. There are still a few opportunities left to see them on this tour and if you can’t make it to any of those dates then get off your arse and start updating your brain by buying their album.

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Me and the magnificent Tuts

Now for one of those pesky public service announcements. All the photos in this post were taken on my cheap little mobile phone camera. Meanwhile the videos are all courtesy of YouTube.

 

The Tuts – ‘Update Your Brain’ September 10, 2016


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Hillingdon has never really been known for its contribution to the rich history of British rock and pop music. Sure there is Ronnie Wood born in West Drayton, Steve Priest bass player from the Sweet, Bryan Connolly of that band lived in Harefield and course there is Claire Richards of Steps. So it is so refreshing that now there really is a band to be proud of from that often ignored area of west London, yes the Tuts have finally got around to releasing their début album, ‘Update Your Brain’, following a really successful campaign on Pledge Music. I for one can hardly wait for my physical copies to arrive having made my pledge months ago. But I have listened to the album on download and Spotify since Friday.

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The Tuts as we now know them with Nadia Javed on guitar and vocals, Beverley Ishmael on drums and Harriet Doveton on bass formed back in 2010. This album is the culmination of their hard-working DIY approach to what they do. They really know their fans and use social networking to engage excellently with them. They have had some inspirational support slots notably with Kate Nash back in 2013, which was when I first saw them at dear old Fibbers in York. They have also toured with the Selecter and played support to the Undertones and Adam Ant among others. They really are a proper band in that they work well off and with each other and everything that they have done so far is a step up from what came before. ‘Update Your Brain’ is no exception and twenty or thirty years ago it would have been a banker for the album chart top ten. But sadly the music industry no longer works like that. But charts or no charts this is a bloody good album.

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Tuts fans will have heard many of the tracks before but as a cohesive set of twelve tracks that makes no difference. From opener “Let Go Of The Past” right through to the albums final track “Back Up” the punk, the power and the pop are turned up to eleven. It is great to see a young band with no fear of wearing their beliefs on their sleeves; hitting out at music industry sexism on one of my favourites “tut Tut Tut” and the uncaring one party state we have in the UK “Give Us Something Worth Voting For”. They also put their money where their mouth is with an anti Boris Johnson protest at Uxbridge Library a while back. Sadly it wasn’t enough to prevent arch moron Boris from being parachuted in to become their local MP. But perhaps having such an arse as their member of parliament will lead to more excellent anti Tory songs from Nadia, Bev and Hat Tut!

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“Con Man” is a proper rock out song and “Dump Your Boyfriend” has become a Tuts classic and is a certainty for inclusion on the Tuts Greatest Hits when it is released five or ten years from now. To paraphrase that song if you have a shit favourite band that never delivers then dump that band and start getting to know the Tuts. You will not regret it. They are touring the UK in support of the album I will be seeing them in Leeds later this month. Where are you seeing them? If you’re not planning on seeing them then I suggest that you change your plans now and that is an order. If you don’t follow that order then I will have no choice than to send the Tuts round to sort you out!

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Many of you reading this review will be among the many pledgers who will already have the album. But don’t worry if you’re not, you can still get your hands on it. I don’t usually give stars or marks out of ten for albums on this blog. But I will make an exception for the Tuts with an 8 and a half out of ten. Why not ten? Well first I never give a ten and secondly I expect their next album to be even better so I want to leave room for a higher mark! We should also start a campaign to have the Tuts appear at Reading and Leeds Festivals next year. It will be a big start in breaking the male domination of the bill. Now stop reading this shit and get listening to ‘Update Your Brain’……… NOW!!!!

 

 

Colour Me Wednesday – Fulford Arms, York – Sunday 3rd April 2016 April 13, 2016


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Clearly I have been a bit tardy in writing and posting this review. However that is by no means a reflection of the quality on show that night. All in all it was a tremendous gig with some support that was often different, challenging and thought-provoking (in a good way) and very talented. All of this was capped by a stunning and magnificent set from the mighty Colour Me Wednesday. But more of them later. Before I begin the review I would like to say a massive thank you to Henry Raby who was the main man and organiser behind this excellent evening of entertainment.

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First up was a duo of angry poets Jaz Millar and Luca Fallon, well to be more reasonable poets who gave wonderful voice to their anger in their cyphers and rhymes. I particularly enjoyed the piece on why feminists are angry and the poem about punk and how it was failing to live up to its original ethos and credentials.

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Junk were the first band to take the stage. How the bloody hell can two people make so much incredible noise? Let me tell you Junk would enhance any stage that they took to. Festival organisers if you’re reading this stop farting around get off your backside and book this wonderful band.

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Almost like a classy restaurants use of the mouse bouche we were treated to an ear resting moment as another poet took the stage. Hannah Davies is her name and she presents her wonderful poetry with passion and aplomb. The poem about how small boys keep so much crap in their pockets not only took me way, way back to my childhood but also made it abundantly clear how much wonderful mother love Hannah has for her son. Hannah you need to have you work published in book form!

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What the hell is a Milk Crime? It sounds rather Orwellian doesn’t it? But that would be moloko. Anyway Milk Crimes are an excellent punk band who certainly appear to live by their punk ways and they also know their punk roots and history, which was well evidenced by their excellent Buzzcocks cover. I would definitely pay to see Milk Crimes again.

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Finally it is the turn, all the way from south of Watford (Uxbridge to be precise) of the stunning, punky, poetic, smart, lyrical and with political and world views that many people could learn from, Ladies, Gentlemen, Humans, Aliens and anyone else I bring you COLOUR ME WEDNESDAY! Any band that despises the Tories as much as I do is definitely more than fine in my book (or indeed my blog). They played a short set which showcased some tracks from their new EP and some classic songs from their increasing repertoire. As usual there was some great between song banter covering everything from the type of herbal tea that Jen drinks to the desperate need for both a poo and a wee that lead to the Colour Me Wednesday Mobile (a.k.a the van) having to stop at Yorkshire’s equivalent of the town in the film ‘Deliverance’ en-route to the gig. They closed the show with a storming run through of my favourite Colour Me Wednesday song, “Purge Your Inner Tory”. Just to finish things off for the evening I was able to listen to the incredibly well put together four track EP in the car on the way home. DIY is in this band’s blood as every copy of the EP has been lovingly hand packaged by the band and their team at DoveTown. If you haven’t seen or heard Colour Me Wednesday yet then I suggest you get out from under the rock you’ve been living under and acquaint yourself with them. I will be at three festivals this year; Apollo (York), Latitude and Leeds, will someone please book this band for one of those!

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And finally here is one of those pesky public service announcements. None of the pictures or videos in this post were taken or filmed by me. They were all obtained via Google and YouTubew

 

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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