With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

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

Cracker & Camper Van Beethoven – The Sony Hall, NYC, USA – Sunday 20th January 2019 January 24, 2019

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 4:15 am
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When I first came across David Lowery I didn’t know that he would develop into a musical genius. I had heard the rather weird Camper Van Beethoven track “Take The Skinheads Bowling” back in the mid 80s. I probably heard it on the John Peel show and it was weird enough for me to prick up my ears. That song has been covered by Teenage Fanclub, Manic Street Preachers and featured in Michael Moore’s ‘Bowling For Columbine. If I am honest I had largely forgotten about this marvellous band, there were too many other things going on ok! That song actually made number 8 in the UK Indie chart in 1986, who’d have thought? A work colleague introduced me to then new band Cracker via their two early 90s albums; ‘Cracker’ and ‘Kerosene Hat’ and I really liked them. I am pretty sure that I saw them at the Reading Festival around that time (1992?). But once again Cracker were off my radar just like Camper Van Beethoven before them. Not because they weren’t any good, but simply there was way too much music to enjoy. But I never forgot either band and on my latest US business trip there was an opportunity to visit the Sony Hall in New York City for a headline gig by Cracker, supported by none other than Camper Van Beethoven. I sure as shit was not going to turn down that opportunity was I?

Camper Van Beethoven

I hadn’t been to the Sony Hall in NYC before and to before this is only the fourth gig I had ever attended in the USA, all in NYC so far. The ticket suggested that I would be standing, but actually the whole place was set out like a cabaret/ supper club with waiter/ waitress service at the table. Was that a safe option for an ageing audience? Maybe, but who cares? It is a great venue and this was one hell of an enthusiastic crowd. A five piece Camper Van Beethoven took the stage just after 8:15. How many styles of music can this classic band often labelled as ‘alternative’ actually handle? Bloody loads, including psychedelic, reggae, heavy rock. Americana and so much more. Early in their set we were treated to a truly magnificent cover of Status Quo’s sixties masterpiece “Pictures Of MatchStick Men” (a cover they released back in 1990). Jonathan Segel’s violin on this track was worth the admission price alone. Obviously “Take The Skinheads Bowling” was given an airing, one in which the crowd went absolutely mental, well as mental as a middle-aged seated crowd can go at least. Then there was the kind of medley (described as a rock opera of sorts by David Lowery) which included Led Zeppelin (“Dazed And Confused”, “Kashmir”) and the traditional Israeli folk song “Hava Nagila” along with some Camper Van Beethoven original material. Lowery and the band gave it their all, knowing full well that three of them would be back for the Cracker set. I wouldn’t have fancied Camper Van Beethoven on to that stage, but then I’m not Cracker and David Lowery.

Cracker

Cracker played a wide-ranging career spanning set with barely a stop for breath, the crowd lapped up every last note and sang along with passion and gusto throughout. There was definitely something for everything with “Teen Angst (What the World Needs Now)” and “Mr Wrong” from their eponymously named first album from 1992 up to around four songs from Cracker’s 9th album ‘Berkeley To Bakersfield’. Lowery’s vocals were solid and beautiful throughout, especially as he had sung his heart out in the earlier support set. If I was forced under pain of death to put Cracker into a genre I would have to say Americana with strong country and West Coast rock elements. At times I felt that they could easily compete with the Eagles; notably on the Johnny Hickman sung  “California Country Boy” and “King Of Bakersfield”. Hickman’s guitar playing was sublime as was the heavenly slide guitar contribution on many of the songs, unfortunately I didn’t catch the slide guitarists name. There were many highlights from the bluesy rock out of “Low” and the fun and funky “How Can I Live Without You”. There was not a duff song or anything like one throughout the whole set they closed with “One Fine Day” and just when I thought it could never get any better the band returned for an encore in which for me they even topped the peaks they had reached earlier with a powerful, passionate call to arms consisting of “El Comandante” and perhaps the band’s finest song in my opinion, “Beautiful”. It was indeed a truly beautiful night which warmed me up against the very sub-zero temperatures outside. I smiled all the way back to my hotel and went to sleep smiling too. If you have never seen Cracker or Camper van Beethoven I suggest you kick off a late new year resolution to make sure that you do very soon!

Public Service Announcement: All photos and videos were discovered via Google and YouTube. If any of them are yours I would be happy to credit you or remove them.

 

 

‘Beautiful – The Carole King Musical’ – Stephen Sondheim Theatre, New York, USA – Wednesday 2nd January 2019 January 15, 2019


Seeing a Broadway show was never on my bucket list, but it was a part of my beautiful wife Catherine’s list! So while in the Big Apple we had to do it and we chose ‘Beautiful – The Carole King Musical’. It was at the rather amazing Stephen Sondheim Theatre on 43rd Street, a theatre that is mostly underground!

The show tells the story of the rise of the former Carol Klein from a starry-eyed and understated yet ambitious 16-year-old into the incredibly talented superstar singer songwriter Carole King. The show deals with the ups, downs and heartache of her relationship with her early songwriting partner and husband Gerry Goffin. Back in those early days she composed the music while Goffin provided the lyrics. There are some wonderful scenes where the pair have their songs recorded by the Drifters (“Some Kind Of Wonderful”) and the Shirelles (“Will You Love Me Tomorrow”). The affection of Carole’s friendship with fellow songwriters Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann is depicted in a beautifully heartwarming and humourous way. The guy who played Don/ Donnie Kirshner; Paul Anthony Stewart is a very classy actor, although no singer, well not that he was required to sing of course. So maybe he can hold a tune. Evan Todd brought home a brilliant emotional performance as an often troubled Gerry Goffin.

I should also give a very special mention to Mike Longo who covered three parts; Neil Sedaka, Lou Adler and Bill Medley. The latter off of the Righteous Brothers. There were many highlights for me; Little Eva (one time babysitter for King and Goffin who became an overnight sensation with the pairs “The Locomotion”. Eva was played by Gabrielle Elisabeth. Ben Jacoby’s performance overall, but particularly “Who Put The Bomp” and “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” he really nailed Barry Mann’s initial disdain for the future Righteous Brothers smash. But the best part of the show for me was Sara Sheperd’s performance. She totally stole the show as Carole King. The finale of “It’s Too Late”, “You’ve Got A Friend” and “Beautiful” was truly awesome and regular readers know that I really do use that word sparingly. Not only that but Sara is an understudy to the usual lead Jessie Mueller. Sara is also Dance Captain, although I must confess that I have no idea what that is. But Sara Sheperd is most definitely immensely gifted and talented. I totally loved this show and coming from someone who is really not a fan of musicals that is high praise indeed, believe me! If you do get a chance to see this show, especially in New York City then do not miss it!

Catherine On Broadway!

 

East Village Punk ‘n’ Rock Tour (NYC) from Rock Junket Tours – Saturday 29th December 2018 January 8, 2019


As a part of my birthday jaunt to NYC my wonderful wife Catwoman (a.k.a Catherine) booked a rather intriguing East Village Punk ,n, Rock walking tour of New York’s East Village from Rock Junket. Our host and Rock Junket Head Honcho was Bobby Pinn (not his real name) and it was a pure delight to spend a couple of hours in his company. I pride myself on knowing an awful lot about rock music, but I bow to the vast encyclopaedic knowledge of Mr Pinn. I learnt so much on this tour.

We saw the apartment block where Joey Ramone (a.k.a. Jeffrey Ross Hyman and also a.k.a Jeff Starship!) lived. Not far from there is the spot where the iconic photo of the Bruddas that adorns the cover of their first album was taken. Take another look at that picture, in particular the subtle way in which Joey is bending his knee and Dee Dee is standing on tip toes just so that the vast gap between the pair of them does not appear so vast.

Whilst I didn’t try one until later in the week we learnt what an Egg Cream drink was. The drink is immortalised in song by Lou Reed and apparently one of the best spots to buy one is the Gem Spa, a one time haunt of the New York Dolls. Strangely enough the Egg Cream beverage contains neither egg nor cream! Go figure!

I already knew a lot about Bill Graham’s venue the Fillmore/ Fillmore West in San Francisco, but I knew next to nothing about the Fillmore East in New York. Many great acts took to the stage there from the Allman Brothers to Frank Zappa. The most appearances by any artist or band was by the Grateful Dead.

Apartments that were once home to a young Madonna and tortured jazz giant Charlie Parker were encountered. Charlie Parker even has a street named in his honour. Now that is not bad for a suicidal junkie who died aged just 34. But that was just a part of his story and it is impossible not to recognise the towering influential, pioneering genius of Mr Parker. Also who knew that Madonna’s early live appearances were as a drummer for her then boyfriend’s band? I certainly didn’t!

I I hadn’t been on this tour with Bobby Pinn I am certain that I would have walked right past the building that features on the front cover of Led Zeppelin’s 1975 double album ‘Physical Graffiti’. The building was the home of Jimmy Page’s drug supplier who lived on the fourth floor. That floor is conspicuously missing from the album cover after a real cut and paste job by artist Peter Corriston. The very same tenement block was used in the video for the Rolling Stones 1981 single “Waiting On A Friend”.

The tour ended at the site of the now defunct CBGB’s; the iconic 1970s New York punk venue. I took the obligatory pictures outside and even ventured into the ridiculously expensive and rather disappointing shop that is now on the site. That said, the Captain Fantastic pinball table was stunning!

In this post I have tried to give you a flavour of this magnificent tour of some classic rock landmarks in the East Village. I didn’t want to add much more and therefore spoilmyour enjoyment when you take it. Make sure that you go walking around New York with Bobby Pinn next time you are in the Big Apple. You will not regret it. Click here to check out the Rock Junket site and to book your tour.

Apart from the Rock Junket header all pictures were taken by yours truly, apart from those that feature me which were taken by the most wonderful person that I know, Catherine Adamson. If you were wondering which landmark birthday I was celebrating it was 18 with 42 years of experience. 😉

 

“There’s a city in my mind, come along and take that ride” March 12, 2018

Filed under: Trivia — justwilliam1959 @ 9:14 pm
Tags: , , ,

This is probably old news to many of you, but I have only just discovered it. Around ten years ago former Talking Heads head honcho David Byrne designed a range of bicycle racks that were installed across New York. Mr Byrne is a very keen cyclist, once in a lifetime he can be found cycling on the road to nowhere!

 

Enter Shikari – Music Hall of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NYC – Friday 2nd February 2018 February 4, 2018


After this blog’s first taste of a gig outside the UK  late last year I felt that it might be time for another. So while I found myself in New York for a business trip I thought I would lighten the tedium of work and get myself over to Brooklyn to see one of my favourite bands, the magnificent Enter Shikari. The Music Hall of Williamsburg is a 550 capacity venue so this was probably the smallest crowd I have seen Enter Shikari play to. I think this is probably the eighth or ninth time that I have seen them since catching them at Download in 2006 (at least I think it was then!). They are a band that seem to have bags of energy and I was really excited to see this displayed on a smaller stage to a smaller crowd. But before I tell you about Enter Shikari let me tell you about the two rather fabulous support bands.

First up were Milk Teeth all the way from Stroud in Gloucestershire in the UK. If you like your rock punky, grungey and hard-hitting then look no further than this tight and talented four piece. Becky Blomfield has the potential to become one of the finest female vocalists of her generation and Oli Holbrook is an outstanding drummer. The layered guitar attack of axemen Chris Webb and Billy Hutton underpins British punk at its finest. Then of course there are the songs, any band that can mention cats and swear jars in their lyrics gets an extra vote from me.

The second support act were the Single Mothers from Ontario in Canada. If you like the Talking Heads, Jonathan Richman, the Stranglers and the Pixies then you will definitely find something to love in this band. They began a mosh circle mania and a spate of crowd surfing that became even more manic once Enter Shikari took the stage. Singer Andrew Thomson never stops moving and is highly skilled at interacting with the crowd. Thomson formed the band in 2008 and then left for a few years in 2011 to go and prospect for gold in a Ontario town called Swastika, who knew?

 

The stage lights are dimmed and for five minutes or so we are treated to ‘The Spark’ from the current album of the same name. This is skillfully interspersed with sound samples from what sounds like a British World War two film, this all drives the anticipation upwards and the excitement of the audience was so palpable you could almost touch it. After that it was the full on Enter Shikari juggernaut hitting the crowd full on, albeit with “Juggernaut” not actually getting and airing on the night. Particular highlights for me were the three songs in a row starting with “Anything Can Happen in the Next Half Hour…”, moving on to “Take My Country Back” followed by “The Last Garrison”. Then later “Anaesthetist” totally blew the crowd away. By this time there was a virtual sea of kids crowd surfing to the stage to stand by Rou and the boys before diving back into the audience. Rou left the stage twice to serenade the crowd, once from the raised balcony at the side of the stage and later from the upper balcony facing the stage. The encore was stunning, with a particularly stunning version of “Live Outside”. The night ended with a short solo rendition from Rou of the Beatles “All You Need is Love”. I left the venue with a smile on my face as I always doing after seeing Enter Shikari, who I believe are one of the greatest British bands around at the moment.

Public service announcement; the pictures of Milk Teeth and Single Mothers were taken with my phone. Pictures of Enter Shikari are sourced via Google and all videos were found on YouTube.

 

“Just like Rogers and Astaire who found love without a care” October 22, 2013


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Before he decided to “Dance, Dance, Dance, (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)” like “Le Freak” that he is, before he confided that he wanted our love and that we were his forbidden lover and before he suggested that “Everybody Dance” did you know what Nile Rodgers the Chicmeister did? well he was a part of soul group New York City whose biggest hit was “I’m Doing Fine Now”. well the job he had that fascinates me the most is that he was having his own “Good Times” as a member of the Sesame Street house band! I wonder if he worked on the show at the same time as Luther Vandross was singing there?

Nile Rodgers and Kermit Harry

Nile Rodgers and Kermit Harry

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7I-nB2npCjcChic-In-Concert-At-The-Pa-004

 

” The eagle picks my eye the worm he licks my bones” October 24, 2010


Hello once again regular readers and welcome to any new readers, I would love to hear from you via the comments function and also feel free to utilise the ‘rate’ option for each post.

A blue plaque not a blue meanie

A few more bits of music related news for you today. Firstly the house that John and Yoko lived in during 1968 finally gets an English Heritage blue plaque. The Marylebone property (basement and ground floor) was purchased by Ringo Starr in 1965 and before the Lennon’s moved in it was rented out to Paul McCartney and Jimi Hendrix. Read the story on the BBC.

Yoko thanked the builders for converting her former home into the leaning tower of Marylebone

To celebrate take a  listen to “Yer Blues” from the Beatles ‘White Album’

Nick Clegg steals food from children as his contribution to the governments spending cuts

Now for some rather disappointing news, well in my opinion anyway. Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat Leader and Tory Party muppet appeared on the BBC’s Desert Island Discs show this weekend and chose a book, a luxury item and 8 records (actually it’s 8 pieces of music. Why is that bad news? Well he’s only gone and chosen a David Bowie song hasn’t he. I just feel bad when people I don’t like happen to like people who I do like, does anyone else feel like that? The Bowie song he chose was “Life On Mars”, he also selected songs by Prince, Johnny Cash, Radiohead and Shakira. So begrudgingly I might have to credit him with some taste, I’d still never vote for him again though. Click here to read the report on the BBC. You can watch Mr Bowie performing the song below at the Yahoo Internet Life Music Awards in New York City in 2000, very ably supported by Mike Garson on piano.

Nick Clegg contemplates another luxury item to take to his desert island. Let's hope the cuts aren't too sharp eh Nick? Don't want any problems with inflation do we?

In another piece of Bowie related news Cheery Vanilla his one time squeeze from the 70’s has published her memoirs and the book is enticingly titled ‘Lick Me’, which is actually quite appropriate given her name. She is quoted as saying that if you’re given the chance to sleep with David Bowie you do it, even if you have giant carbuncles on your thighs. I’m not sure whether she did have those carbuncles though. Read about the book by clicking here.

Cherry Vanilla chooses a novel way of promoting her new book

A week or so back Take That revealed the cover to their new album, ‘Progress’. It is yet another take on the Ascent Of Man idea. The worrying thing about it for me is why Gary Barlow is looking up Mark Owen’s backside. Robbie is right in the middle and Jason Orange seems to have been given a real surprise. One which made him leap high. The Guardian analyses the picture here. What do you think of it?

It's a bit camp and a bit yellow isn't it?

Click here to read a list of 10 things that British Sea Power wished they hadn’t done from the drowned in sound website. My favourites are the fans dressed as 10 foot teddy bears and one of the band dressing as some kind of Geordie/ zebra hybrid to commemorate Kevin Keegan‘s appointment as Newcastle United manager.

The British Sea Power Teddy Bear was a bit grizzly that night!

 

 
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