Viruses, Liverpool, Djembe, Humming Amps and the Hanging Man………

It’s been a strange old week….well eight days really….starting with an aborted attempt to see Kill Pretty and others at Gullivers two Thursday’s back which failed miserably at around 9pm when I started to come down with some sort of lurgy which meant an early dart home followed by several days of feeling awful. So sadly you don’t get a review of that gig, although I am told it was very good.

I managed to struggle out of bed on the following Tuesday and venture down to Old Trafford to see Lancashire deliver another impressive victory in the YB40 but clearly I had got up from my sick bed far too early and suffered a relapse, mostly of a gastric nature,  which lasted until Thursday when I managed to just about throw three quick podcasts together before checking various bits of musical gear, and listening to some albums that had arrived, and then collapsing in front of CSI-NY.

Sadly because of the stomach lurgy I missed Kit-B‘s debut gig at Wangies in Patricroft.

Friday was far more successful in the most part. Picked up by Mr Moss and Mr Leigh at around 10am I journeyed with them west down the M62 to Liverpool to watch Kill Pretty start the recording of their latest album. Track Studios in Liverpool City Centre is an excellent facility and the band, under Steve Powell’s expert guidance, were soon recording a good number of the tunes which will eventually appear on the provisionally titled “Here Comes The Sun”. The time flew by, and was most enjoyable, and it was a privilege to be there to see the creative process in full swing. The other good news was that my symptoms seemed to be subsiding as the day progressed. One or two very interesting additional musical items were created on the day which will have people scratching their heads – i’ll say no more at this stage! As the time rolled around we didn’t leave Liverpool until 7:30pm so my desire to catch Exchange, Positronik and Factory Acts at Helmets for Men at the Kings Arms was scuppered. It had been a long day and the preceding days of lurgy had left me somewhat exhausted.

Chris and Josh 3

The Duttons laying down some Kill Pretty tunes

Saturday was a little brighter – I resolved to improve my health by tacking a 5km walk around the highways and by-ways of Claremont and Monton Green before chucking together the various components of next week’s podcasts.  Meanwhile over in Liverpool Kill Pretty were still hard at work but this time with the legendary Craig Scanlon on board to lay down some guitar.

Torrential rain hammered down as I watched the new football coverage on BT Sport (well until it broke down in the second half!) before venturing into the damp night air to catch some live music. I was determined to see at least one of the gigs I had planned to go to!

Which leads me nicely onto the point of this rambling peroration – Blue Orchids at the Kings Arms last night (Saturday 17th August).

The gig was the second in a quartet of shows being promoted by Tony Thornborough’s excellent Helmets for Men organisation (the first being the one I missed on the Friday Night).

Since I last saw the Orchids they have a new drummer, have been gigging ferociously, and are now delivering a must see musical experience. As I wrote elsewhere, this group is able to take the source material from the handful of Blue Orchids albums and EPs and invest it with a new and modern energy without losing the core of the original intent.  The muscular and polyrhythmic  new drummer Chris Connolly is a perfect partner for Chris Dutton on bass and that driving and insistent rhythmic base leaves room for John Paul Moran, Ann Matthews , and Martin Bramah  to weave layers of guitars and keyboards to memorable effect.

As usual the shamanic Mr Bramah was in full flow and enjoying himself immensely.


Blue Orchids (photo by Steve Fielding)

The highlights of an exceptional performance were the beautiful and evocative “Weird World” and a stunning delivery of “The Hanging Man” which started with a lengthy motorik improv and moved into a memorable delivery of a fantastic song. All in all just under an hour of remarkable music from a band that I urge you to go and see.

For those of you who didn’t make it last night you missed a cracker. Where were you? I assume you weren’t at the Salford Arms watching the house band doing Eagles covers?

The Orchids are off to the continent soon and I have no doubt they will draw much bigger crowds than were at The Kings last night. A brief chat with Martin before the gig revealed he is writing new material – both for the band and also for possible film sound track so we can anticipate new things from Mr Bramah and his band in the near future.

Support on the night was provided by the always amiable and entertaining John Herring – who struggled with some technical problems but, as usual, delivered an excellent set of his great songs. I had not seen him for some time in a live situation and I was grateful for the opportunity. He concluded his set with an upbeat “Soul You Got” which set the scene nicely for the Orchids.

Starting the evening was Phil Davies and two of his Ninja Smoke Bombs.  Notably on percussion was Dave Cookson, of Dirty North, who drove the whole performance with some lively work on a Djembe.

Sadly, Tony  Thornborough is seriously considering downsizing the Helmets for Men events, which would a real pity as he has consistently delivered some cracking line-ups over the last four years.

Next Friday at The Kings Arms will see another excellent line-up of Poppycock, Monkeys in Love and Kill Pretty and the Saturday will feature The Disappeared, the debut of Luis Drayton & the Glamourpussies and the second gig by the recently reformed Things. At £5 for each event this is incredible value for money in a pub that serves decent hand drawn beer and excellent food.

It would be a real pity of you missed either of those gigs. There’s not a lot on the telly so pop down there and give the local economy some help!

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