With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

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

Northern Radar – Artist Of The Week – Queen Zee May 30, 2018


Move over Liz and Phil, Wills and Kate, Harry and Meghan there is a new monarch in town who goes by the name of Queen Zee. I would like to thank those Arch Dukes of music cool over at Northern Radar for asking me to write an artist of the week slot for this excellent band from Liverpool. Just click here to read it!

 

Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Camp and Furnace, Liverpool – Tuesday 27th October 2015 November 7, 2015


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On Tuesday 27th October I went to see perhaps Canada’s finest underground band; Godspeed You! Black Emperor at Camp and Furnace in Liverpool as part of Liverpool Music Week. More of GY!BY later, but first let me mention the venue. Camp and Furnace is a cavernous yet magnificent place for rock gigs. I am sure that I will return sometime.

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The British support band are called the Dead Rat Orchestra. If I were to say Beardy Folk from the Middle Ages that could describe both the band and the band members. They play old songs, and I am talking circa 17th century here, back-dropped by loud, fuzzy, sonic electronica. It really should not work, but it does and in a great way too. Having listened to them on-line and a couple of their CDs that I purchased on the night I believe that they are a better live band than they are a recording band. However that is not to say that their recorded output doesn’t cut the mustard, because it clearly does. If you get the chance to see them then you really should, I somehow doubt that you’ll be disappointed. The Dead Rat Orchestra are neither dead nor are they rats. But they are a bloody good band.

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As for the headliners Godspeed You! Black Emperor how can you not love that name? In my opinion possibly one of the best named bands of the last twenty or so years. I referred to them earlier as an underground band and I guess you could say perhaps more of a cult band. They have a fiercely loyal following, many of whom were there at Camp and Furnace. A few people who I spoke to on the night had been to see the band on many occasions. They are an instrumental band, so if you’re looking for fun sing-along ditties they’re not for you. But the sound they make is something special. It moves you both physically and emotionally. The film loops that back drop the stage for every tune are incredibly clever and fit the music perfectly. I don’t know if the band have ever produced a film soundtrack but I believe they could create a masterful atmospheric background to a superior horror movie. I will definitely see them again and I recommend that you do too. Unless of course you’re a Justin Bieber fan; in which case how did you end up here at this blog!

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Elvis Costello “Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink” – Book reading and signing – Royal Court Theatre Liverpool, Monday 26th October 2015 November 6, 2015


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I have worked in the fantastic city of Liverpool for a few months and I recently had the opportunity to attend a book signing by someone who technically might be described as a newly published author. He is known as Declan McManus by many but as the magnificent Elvis Costello by most! He has recently launched his memoirs; “Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink”. The book runs to just shy of 700 pages and when I have read it I will no doubt be posting a review of it in this very blog.

However I wanted to just give you a brief review of what was a fabulous night at the Royal Court Theatre in Liverpool last month. Elvis was interviewed about the book, his life and his career by author Mark Billingham who is also very clearly a Costello fan. Elvis himself used a tablet linked to a couple of large screens on the stage to show us some wonderful pictures of himself and some great ones from his family history. There was also a brilliant video of his Dad Ross McManus singing “If I Had A Hammer” with the Joe Loss Orchestra in the 1960s.

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It was quite an intimate setting and Elvis came across as a really decent bloke. He is articulate, humorous and polite. He read a few passages from the book and told a number of anecdotes that were a mix of the emotional and the amusing. I think that many of us in what looked like a sell out crowd had our fingers crossed that he might sing a few songs and we were not disappointed. At the end he took up his acoustic guitar and played a great version of “Stranger In The House” and a supremely powerful showing of the timeless classic “Shipbuilding”. The latter was preceded by a story about the evacuation of British children overseas during World War 2. In particular the tale of a ship transporting many of these children to Canada that was sunk. For me it’s a moving song in the first place, this made it even more so.

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I was happy to queue up for forty minutes afterwards to get my copy of the book signed by the great man himself. In fact I sneakily got him to sign the latest copy of Mojo which had a picture of Mr Costello on the cover. Finally let me say a big thank you to Elvis Costello, Mark Billingham and Waterstones for putting on such and excellent night’s entertainment.

 

Reel Big Fish – Liverpool O2 Academy – Wednesday 21st October 2015 October 23, 2015


This was my third visit to the O2 Academy in Liverpool in just over a week and there hasn’t been a poor night yet! Not that I want one mind you. Anyway tonight was going to be the first time that I had seen Reel Big Fish for around ten years. But before we move on to them there is the little matter of the support bands to deal with. First up were the rather fabulous local (well they are from the Wirral) purveyors of a really original British style of ska with a fun punk attitude, which echoes the Jamaican roots of the style with a nod towards the late seventies UK revival of this wonderful form of reggae. Ladies and gentlemen I give you Broken 3 Ways. If they are playing anywhere near you then believe me I will be very, very disappointed indeed if I hear that you didn’t go and see them.

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Next up were the California-based ska pop punk band Suburban Legends. Are they suburban? I don’t know. Are they legends? Well I reckon then can become so! They played some great covers of, would you believe it, Disney songs. This sort of thing shouldn’t really work, but it does with this band. The fact that they can carry off ska punk style versions of “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King” and “Under The Sea” with such aplomb is the mark of a great band in my opinion. They supplemented Disney with a few originals and a rousing version of Neil Diamond‘s “Sweet Caroline“. Could this night get any better?

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Actually it could get better and it did. Is it even possible to not enjoy a Reel Big Fish gig? I don’t believe that it is. This was a phenomenal set by a band that remains at the peak of their power after more than twenty years of success. From set opener “Everyone Else Is An Asshole” to the superb cover of A-Ha‘s “Take On Me” at the end of the encore the quality and the pace never dropped. they played around with some potential and fun covers; “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “Don’t Stop Believing” respectively. But perhaps the best cover of the night was a stonking work out of the ska classic “Monkey Man”, Toots Hibbert would be proud of that one! This band has so many great songs and they played a stack of them tonight; “Your Girlfriend Sucks”, “The Kids Don’t Like It”, “She Has A Girlfriend Now”, “Don’t Start A Band” and “Your Girlfriend Sucks” were some of my favourites from this set. I will not be waiting for ten years before I see them again. Go and see them yourselves right now. That’s an order!

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Swim Deep, The Magic Gang and Catholic Action- Liverpool O2 Arena 2 – Thursday 15th October 2015 October 18, 2015


Two gigs in two nights you say? Don’t mind if I do. This is the first time in ages that I have been to gigs on two consecutive nights, not withstanding of festival experiences anyway. So I was back at the O2 Academy 2 in Liverpool again last Thursday night. It was to be the first time that I had seen the headliners, Swim Deep live. The support were none too shabby either.

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Taking to the stage first were the wonderfully named (in my opinion) Catholic Action. They play tuneful, powerful Indie Pop  with songs that are full of great hooks. This is a very talented band. I believe that they are largely from Glasgow.

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Next up to entertain a pretty packed venue was the Magic Gang. They brought us classy tunes and classy harmonies all the way from Brighton. They are definitely magic and most probably a gang too. Well worth checking out.

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I kind of liked Swim Deep’s first album ‘Where The Heaven Are We’ and I did listen to their new release ‘Mothers’ before I went to this gig. They have improved immensely, although it would be fair to say that they were pretty damned good to start with. I reckon they are one of those bands that sound even better live than they do on record. The energy that they put into this show was phenomenal there was hardly time to draw a breath. If you have never seen them you really should make it happen at least once. Swim Deep could be described as an electro indie pop band. However I truly believe that they are much broader and deeper (pun intended) than that. I would love to hear what you think of them. I know that the relatively young crowd went mad for them and incidentally I was possibly the oldest punter in the audience, which had it’s fair share of screaming girls and muso boys.

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Siena Root, Elevant and Mind Mountain – Liverpool O2 Arena 2 – Wednesday 14th October 2015


I took a chance with this gig as I had never heard of any of the bands before. Sometimes that doesn’t work out, but this time it did and very much big time in respect of the headliners from Sweden, Siena Root.

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Before the headline slot though we were presented with two very fine support bands. First up was Mind Mountain. They are a hard rock instrumentalist trio who rock hard enough to make your ears bleed! The rhythm section are damned good, but the guitar/ keyboard player is truly superb. You really need to check this lot out.

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What can I say about the other support band, Elevant? Well if you took a large portion of classic heavy rock, sprinkled that with some hard riffage, then added a large slice of iconic rock star posing with a pinch of menacing front man stare that should give you a fully baked Elevant. This band rock like a motherfucker!

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As for Siena Root, well initially I thought that maybe I’d stepped out of Dr Who‘s TARDIS in the early 70’s. But in a very good 70’s way. This is one supremely talented rock band each one of them is the master of their instrument and the vocalist is sublime. My favourite was perhaps the keyboard player who in a way had a slight resemblance to Keith Emerson off of ELP. But picking a favourite is somewhat difficult given the mega talents on display. They write their own songs and are faithful to analog instruments and recording. Some might argue that they are derivative of many of the great early 70s European rock bands from Deep Purple to Focus, then Free and the aforementioned ELP via Golden Earring. However I say that they take the best elements from 70s classic rock and make it very much their own. This was their first visit to the UK and I hope that they have many more. I will definitely go and see them again. If you get the chance do not miss them. You will not be disappointed!

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“If you criticize them I’ll know that you can see” Blog Advent Calendar Day 20 December 20, 2014


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Here we are in December’s 20’s already, it’s December 20th and Day 20 of this years advent calendar blog posts. Regular readers will know that this years theme is the ABC of British bands. The 20th letter of the alphabet as I hope all of you know is ‘T’. As a big fan of a certain fellow called Julian I have chosen the Teardrop Explodes for this post.

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Wikipedia describes the Teardrop Explodes as post-punk/ neo-psychedelic; what the fuck does that mean when it’s at home? Can a band not just be a good band or great band? I am guilty of slotting music into genres on occasions, but post-punk/ neo-psychedelic? That is more pretentious than a thousand Nigel Farage clones.

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Head Teardrop was Julian Cope, an artist who I really love. Dave Balfe was in the band, he went on to set up Food Records. Troy Tate who later produced the Smiths was also a Teardrop. The band formed in the rather incestuous music scene in Liverpool in 1978. The band signed to Zoo Records which was run by Dave Balfe and future KLF man Bill Drummond. Part of the appeal of the Teardrop Explodes for me was the eccentricity and fragility of Julian Cope. He once said “”I was goaded into becoming a rock star by Bill Drummond and the pseudo-intellectual side of me thought it would be quite charming.”

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They were always more of a cult band given their limited chart success. Although their single “Reward” is a mainstay of many 80s compilation albums. It was also the bands highest charting single, reaching number 6 in the UK charts in 1981. Their first album, released in 1980 was ‘Kilimanjaro’ from which they eventually released five singles. Aside from compilations they released another two albums; ‘Wilder’ in 1981 and after the band came together again briefly in the late 80s ‘Everybody Wants To Shag The Teardrop Explodes’ in 1990.

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The band took their name from a frame in a Marvel comic. Daredevil # 77 to be precise. Will the band ever get back together? Probably not, when Julian Cope was asked that question some years ago he replied; “Would you ever return to having your mother wipe your asshole?”. The Freshies featuring Chris Sievey who went on to become Frank Sidebottom released a single in 1981 called “I Can’t Get ‘Bouncing Babies’ By The Teardrop Explodes”.

 

 

 
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