New York Stories

I’ve been reacquainting myself with the prose of Paul Auster recently.  Always an obsession, I even named one of my musical projects after him, he is one of a handful of authors I can definitively say has had a major influence on me. His initial work centered around New York City, and his rich and complex prose always conjured up detailed images of that metropolis in my head. I’ve still not managed to pluck up the courage to read his latest 700+ page opus “4321” mind you.

Coincidentally, other Brooklyn connections also emerged recently, firstly with Jesse “Cannonball” Statman.  When over here for a gig in Salford he revealed he had shared the same apartment complex as Auster. Jesse’s performance at the Eagle, Salford, on April 8th,  had broadly smiling  punters using the word genius as they left the gig room. He wasn’t to everyone’s taste but for the majority of the audience the admiration for his performance was huge, with some of the best praise I have heard for gigs we have promoted. I’m also pleased he is allowing us to release more of his material soon on German Shepherd records. His set was a whirling dervish of words and a completely unique guitar style,  unconventional and mesmerising. Some people have compared him Daniel Johnston, and I can see that, but Jesse works at a much faster pace and his use of language is more complex, and conjures up literary comparisons like Auster, Thomas Pynchon and Bill Burroughs.

Check out his sizeable catalogue of work at http://www.cannonballstatman.bandcamp.com/

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Cannonball Statman (Photograph courtesy of John Montague)

The other Brookyln connection is a duo called Lusterlit. And they have literary association also. With their songs created for Bushwick Book Club,  whose founder, Susan Hwang and contributor and producer, Charlie Nieland, have joined forces to perform as a new, literature-inspired duo. Both vocalists and multi-instrumentalists, Charlie and Susan alternate lead vocals and harmonies while supporting each other on guitar, bass, synth, traditional Korean drum and accordion.  Charlie sent me their most recent release “List of Equipment” a couple of days back and I was  utterly blown away by the quality and richness of their songs. Inspired by authors  Cormac McCarthy, Julia Child, John Wyndham, and Johnathon Lethem, the five songs on the EP are mature musical explorations which immediately stand out as superior quality material in the context of the other music that gets sent my way on daily basis. Both artists are clearly hugely talented  and their song-craft and production is exceptional, offering atmospheric, cinematic, aural journeys. Both soulful and sexy, this is an EP you can listen to on repeat and uncover multiple levels of delight from. The duo says there is a hint of Polly Jean and Melbourne Nick in what they do, I’d venture that this music is as exciting to me as the first time I heard “Countdown To Ecstasy” – it’s that damn good. I commend it to you without reservation.

 

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Charlie and Susan – Photo by Lisa Barnstone

 

The duo also released two previous albums last year as “solo” offerings but Charlie advises that material is also part of the current  Lusterlit live experience. Both are also excellent song collections and, as a whole, the three releases combined are a fantastic introduction to some great music.

LINKS

https://www.facebook.com/lusterlit/
https://twitter.com/lusterlitnyc
https://www.instagram.com/lusterlit/
https://lusterlit.bandcamp.com/
https://soundcloud.com/lusterlit

Far to The Madding Crowd

It’s cold.

It’s the second gig in a week, a bit of a rarity for me.

It’s Saturday night. There’s three choices, The Speed of Sound album launch in Levenshulme, The Things EP launch in Manchester centre, or The Madding Crowd EP launch in Moston. We opt for the latter.

A Siberian chill has settled on Eccles, whenever I go out to gigs these days the weather conspires against me. A quick pint in the Albert Edward and then a long cab ride up to Moston. A place I haven’t ventured to in a good while. In a former life I spent hours wandering these streets, it seems a dim and distant memory. Things have changed with a new football stadium opposite the Miners Estate. The Estate looks the same as it did thirty five years ago and the Arts and Social Club is also something out of the last century, the faded decadence of a W.M.C. with punk posters on the wall, very old Manchester. There’s a good mixture of people here, old and young. They have Joseph Holts bitter at £2.50 a pint, a good price, but double the price of the pint in the Albert Edward. Not sure how that works.

The Sam Smith story has been told elsewhere on these pages. It’s been a convoluted last 12 months or so with the Franco Bandini persona being put away for a while. There was mention of The Parish Church Fire coming back but that didn’t quite emerge for this gig, so it’s Sam with piano, and acoustic guitar, playing stripped back and emotional songs. There’s a couple of Bandini songs, a few “& Company” numbers, and some new material. He reflects on Fidel’s passing by suggesting  possible Clash cover before the gig but demurs, instead he plays a brain flipping version of Islands in the Stream. He pours his heart and soul into the music, as he always does. This music deserves a wider audience, I’ve said that before, but it does. There’s a new found maturity and confidence about Sam tonight, but he needs to get more gigs, more exposure, perhaps he needs a band to really get the message across, but tonight he does it all on his own and he does it well. He ends with Born to Run. All in all most satisfying.

I’m not normally a big fan of live poetry but Genevieve L Walsh captures my attention with rapid delivery, a tumble of interesting words, maybe too many ideas and concepts for my beer addled brain to take in. But there are sections which really grab the attention, you smile and nod in encouragement with the message that is delivered. She’s funny, intelligent, biting and sometimes angry. It’s great stuff and provides the right sort of balance between Sam’s set and what is to follow.

I’ve not seen The Madding Crowd before. I am told before they start that they are great live. They are.  Ben Corry is an electric front man, he is a hyperactive mix of Iggy Stooge, Bowie and John Lydon. But I can’t hear the vocals. It’s either my dodgy ears or the sound engineer can’t cope with the dynamics of the band. It does eventually settle down but the first fifteen minutes or so is lost to me. Dominic Corry is as hyperactive as Ben, leaping on and off the stage, whirling like a dervish and ripping all sorts of sounds from his guitar. Claud Corry is a motionless figure for most of the night, sat on the floor, laying down a solid bass to the set. The revelation is Sav Patel who is one of the best drummers i’ve seen in a while with a whole selection of interesting tricks up his sleeve, one to watch out for in future I would suggest. The new EP forms the key parts of the set with the excellent “Sinking Low” being the stand out on the evening, Patel’s impressive stick work,  muscular guitar and Ben’s football chant vocal acrobatics morphing the basic blues of the song into something special. With a lengthy set of nigh on two hours the band give the crowd a comprehensive show including some of the more memorable moments from their back catalogue. A band to watch out for in the future.

I get a copy of the EP which will be featured on this weeks Aural Delights podcast.

It’s even colder outside but the heat generated by the gig keeps me warm until I get home.

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A Hard Rain Fell

Looking out of the window on Monday afternoon revealed torrential rain and gusts of wind.  Probably not the best weather to be venturing out into the darkening night. The headline band contact me and advise they are stuck in terrible traffic between Levenshulme and Salford and will be late.  Fortunately the journey from Eccles to Blackfriars is not so disadvantaged. The  67 bus arrives early and I get to the Eagle much sooner than I anticipated. By the time I get to the pub the band, Harry Howard and the NDE have arrived and are loading in. That’s the peculiar nature of the Greater Manchester traffic system – west-east is easy, south -north not so much. What took them two hours took me twenty minutes.

But first, the back story.

Some months back Dave Graney had contacted me, after his visit to Salford earlier in the year, to suggest that we might host Harry Howard and the NDE in a similar way, a gig and a Marc Riley session. We are getting quite good at this promotion thing now,  but we can’t make a habit of it mind you, so please don’t you bands out there think we can wave a magic wand and make these things happen all the time. With the assistance of Vicky Egan, who runs the excellent Roland S. Howard tribute page, Ian and I were able to get it all to come together. We had put on three bands for the Graney evening in the spring, but we decided to slim it down for Harry & co, a good move in hindsight, given the weather, as time was tight once everyone had settled in . We stayed with Poppycock as the support act, always reliable, always excellent.

Given the weather a huge turn out was not anticipated, especially for a Monday night, however fortunately there are enough hearty souls/Harry Howard fans to bring in a good sized audience.

Those who could not make it missed a stunning evening.

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Photograph by Johnathon Hargreaves

Poppycock have a slight pre-gig set back when Una’s keyboard starts emitting smoke, so a substitute is sourced. There’s always a gremlin hanging around in the ether to make life more stressful. Notwithstanding that the bands start only 30 minutes late. Poppycock get better each time I see them. Their well established repertoire mixes garage rock, folk, Dylan, and post punk into a package which brings new fans with every gig. The twin vocal line-up of Rose Niland and Anne-Marie Crowley is exceptional.  I’m familiar with the tunes and I recognise a marked improvement. Heather, Nicki, Stuart, Lucy and Una weave a musical tapestry which marks them out as the best live band in Manchester at the moment. At times the sound they produce is incandescent.

The only minor niggle about the excellent Eagle as a venue is that there is not a plethora of places nearby to get food so the NDE ring out for pizza which arrives just in time for the band to have something to eat before playing.

The NDE are excellent. They play the first half of the new album “Sleepless Girls” for the opening section of the set.  Dave Graney and Clare Moore couldn’t make this tour so These Immortal Souls alumni Craig Williamson and Chris Hughes have been drafted in. The new line-up has only  had a couple of lengthy rehearsals at Seed Studios in south Manchester and the lack of time to practice means there are a few minor mis-steps during the set which are treated with friendly self-deprecation and do not spoil the overall enjoyment. A couple of excellent tracks from the debut album “Sick Sick Sick” and “The Old Man Blues” demonstrate the depth of the NDE song book. The other half of the current album forms the bulk of the rest of the set, a notable exception being a fitting tribute to Vicky Egan with a reading of The Birthday Party’s The Red Clock. Harry’s guitar work is fantastic, Edwina’s having great fun with her new Microkorg and producing an amazing range of keyboard sounds, which has Una Baines making a mental note to purchase one of her own. Craig and Chris are excellent and are more than able substitutes for the absent Dave and Clare.

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Photograph by Johnathan Hargreaves

This is live music at it’s best. Powerful, hypnotic, driven and played with enthusiasm. The four gig highlights of the year for me have been from Australians, two Dave Graney gigs in the spring, The Necks a couple of weeks back, and this gig from Harry Howard and the NDE.

Harry’s melding of garage rock and post-punk merges the best of both into a fresh and modern sound. Add to that great songs and you have a very special live experience.

The band play the Marc Riley session tonight and The Betsey Trotwood in Clerkenwell, London on Thursday before embarking on a full European Tour (details below). I recommend you catch them live, they are fantastic.

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Revised 24/11/16

A case of Vertigo

“Masters of their own musical language of long-form improvisation, each night they step onto the stage with no pre-conceived ideas of what they will play – they and the audience will go on a sonic journey that is created in the moment and in that room.”

This year is The Necks 30th anniversary. They have ploughed a unique musical furrow over that period, releasing fourteen studio albums, one soundtrack, and four live albums. A recent box set from ReR Megacorp collects eight of those releases into a useful history, and for those with enough money, and time, it is a perfect summary of work to date.

Wikipedia describes the trio as “experimental jazz” which is accurate to a point.  Some times they can be as far removed from jazz as chalk is from cheese. I guess the confusion might be that the composition of the band, Chris Abrahams on piano , Tony Buck on drums, and percussion , and Lloyd Swanton on double bass, is the traditional jazz trio line-up. But this is not the Bill Evans Trio, and to be clear, it’s not E.S.T. either. They are far more than jazz, in the same way an improvising collective like AMM or Supersilent are distant from the traditional confines of the genre, but are labelled as “jazz”. Bands like this tend to be shoved into that corner of your local record emporium where the “difficult” music is put. Jazz roots are there, but the trio, over that thirty year time period, have invented a new kind of music. That the classical music writer from The Daily Telegraph reviewed their sold out three day residency at Café Oto in Dalston perhaps says more about the genre defying nature of this band than I can.

A November gig from the trio in Manchester is therefore not to be missed.

This is my second time of seeing them. They tend to make it a habit of playing the Band on the Wall when they are in Manchester. The last time was three or four years back, and the memories are strong of an exceptional performance. So it is with some anticipation I venture down to Manchester’s premier live music venue for their latest gig in the city.

The insistent rain and cold air attempt to dampen my spirits, and the dark, puddle strewn, corners of Oldham Street are not the most inviting of prospects on an autumnal Tuesday night. Despite the inclement weather the place is full. The Necks always pull a large crowd, there’s a couple of seats on the right side of the room with a reasonable view, albeit obstructed by one of the BOTW’s ornate pillars. The Necks performance routine is well established. They will play two sets, both generally between 40 and 50 minutes in length. Very much in the same way that their album releases are generally one uninterrupted track of improvised music the live sets are complete pieces. This requires a lot of concentration and focused listening and my only gripe of the evening is the latecomers who spill into the room after the gig has started which allows the sound of the bar to filter into the room and disturb the delicate opening melodies that Chris Abrahams is developing. There’s also a hipster type, with several layers of clothing, and a back-pack, who decides to float around the room in an annoying fashion. But to counter that aberrant behaviour you close your eyes and lose yourself in the music. If I were the Band on the Wall I’d curfew the room at the set start time to stop the distractions when a band of this type is playing.

So, as I say, as it begins,  Abrahams, picks out a delicate melody, and I begin to wonder if there has been as shift to a more traditional musical form than hitherto experienced. These thoughts are misplaced of course, and soon dissipate  as Swanton uses his bow to create sonorous notes. Buck is not engaged for the first five minutes but slowly comes into the fray with light brush work. What follows is fifty minutes of repetition, with hypnotic surges of organically developing sound. At any one time I am recalling something akin to mid-70s Tangerine Dream, a particularly complex part of a Van Der Graaf Generator opus, a free jazz trio, or industrial music from the early 80s. You have to stop yourself and remember that this wonderful collection of sound is being created by a traditional acoustic piano, double bass and drum kit, albeit that the drummer has any number of little percussion tools at his disposal.  The structure of a Necks set is both familiar and different at the same time, a quiet reflective start, a build up to a complex, dense, and often cacophonous, middle, and then the fall away to a quieter coda.

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You have to remind yourself it is all improvised.

The remarkable thing is the complete lack of ego between the three musicians. They are separate but together. Each individual addresses their own contribution from their part of the stage, but the years of working together have clearly forged a collective endeavour which is equal and complete in its delivery.

The second set is perhaps a little more adventurous than the first. Swanton starts things off with an off kilter, almost Beefheartian riff, indeed Mark Boston had been stood just to the right of where he is several years ago when I saw The Magic Band at the same venue. Possibly some sort of ghostly Van Vliet dust is floating in the air?  Buck is creating alien pings with some brass cymbals which recall the opening of Echoes by Pink Floyd. He soon moves into a different area, and his contribution to this set is more overt. The lead role in the sound swaps between the three musicians. Abrahams uses the piano as a percussion instrument, as Buck creates melody with his battery of percussion, and Swanton floats between them creating sounds that I did not think were possible from a double bass. Time becomes an irrelevance as you lose yourself in this music. The rhythm is more hypnotic in the second set,  almost trance like, the music evokes memories, there’s a waking dream quality to the whole experience. At one point the music builds into a maelstrom of sound that is indescribable.

The Necks latest release is called Vertigo which after this nights experience appears to be an apposite title. They are completely unique, they are always different, but the process and the invention is familiar, so there is a backbone to the music which allows focus on and absorb what they do. You are caught in stream of musical ideas which takes you to a point of transcendence and then gently brings you back down to earth.

http://www.thenecks.com

http://www.bandonthewall.org

A previous gig demonstrates ably the band in full flow

Mr Mouse visits The Mouse Outfit

It’s one of those rare occasions where I hand over the reviewing side of things to my compadre Mr Mouse. Our chums at the Band on the Wall provided him with the opportunity to watch well regarded band The Mouse Outfit at the venue on Thursday 2nd June.

Now as you may be aware I don’t normally dabble in the hip-hop/urban side of things but Mr Mouse tells me this lot are very good indeed so here’s a quick overview and his thoughts on the gig.

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From the bio on their website:

The Mouse Outfit was founded in 2008 by Paul Hooley (Chini) aftter James Defty after they met at an audition in Manchester. They formed a band and began producing music with a number of local musicians and vocalists. Defty started a jam night, in order to meet local talent, called ‘In the Loop’ (where rappers would freestyle to live breaks from The Mouse Outfit band) They began crafting a live show with hip hop and funk breaks combined with original grooves. The band started gigging locally and around the UK with various changes in line-up. Chini was a teacher at a music college in Manchester and noticed a talented student drummer Adisa Allen (Deese) who joined the band in 2010. After uploading a track to BBC Introducing they were asked to perform a session at BBC Maida Vale studios for the Mark Lamarr show on BBC Radio 6. Another of Chini’s students, Ian Garland (Pitch) joined in 2011 as a beatmaker. Pitch had been working with Dr Syntax and he soon started working with the band as well. ‘In The Loop’ regular Sparkz was asked to feature on a track and after recording several singles he also became a regular member of the live show. In 2012, Defty and Chini also began producing music videos after working with a local filmmaker Tom Doran. Defty took a greater interest in video and began filming and editing a stream of music videos. Chini continued producing music with local rappers and musicians and recording them in his studio over his own beats and beats from Pitch and the result was ‘Escape Music’ their debut album released in May 2013. The Mouse Outfit has remained independent and Defty and Chini continue to manage all aspects of the band including tours, merchandise, social media and promotion.

Mr Mouse reports as follows

Arriving at the BOTW there are people queuing and milling around the door signifying that a Mouse Outfit performance is to be regarded as an event to be celebrated rather than a run of the mill gig.  I take myself into the concert area to check out support act Cul de Sac, they’ve attracted enough interest from people to feel a rapport with the audience and display enough good moments to encourage dancing feet and that an eye should be kept on their progress.

And then the main event , the six piece Mouse Outfit band take the stage and are joined by the first frontman of the evening Sparkz , immediately the effect is electrifying as the band swing with a touch of the Duke Ellingtons and Groove like the JBs.  “Blaze it up” is an early set high-light and the packed crowd are swept along in the heady rush. Sparkz is joined by the Legendary Dr Syntax and the energy levels go to another level  “We ain’t going nowhere” has enough propulsion to shake the room , Truthus Mufasa, Black Josh, and Fox all join the expanding and fluctuating front line with no let up in , song quality , energy or personality.  Indeed each brings a different individual flavour to the fore , lyricalligraphy joins in for “Know my Face” it is spellbinding . “Shak Out”, and “Air Max” are other highlights but in all honesty singling out individual tracks does this outfit a disservice because there is no dropping of quality from Start to Finish.  It’s a non stop party and a great atmosphere prevails , smiles are everywhere , the Mouse Outfit are a cut above the rest and tonight has been a special night.

No pics or vids from Mr Mouse so here’s a sample of the collective ……

 

Urban Nature Album Launch

Friday night in Eccles, it’s warm. I’ve just left Old Trafford early after a rather poor display by Lancashire in the T20. I need cheering up. I wander up Church Street to Pacifica Cantonese, the upmarket chinese restaurant next the train station. Ed Blaney is launching his first “solo” album “Urban Nature”. Above the busy restaurant the clean chrome and marble lines of the room seem slightly incongruous as a place to launch a gritty urban rock and roll album. I grab a Tsing Tao from the bar and have a healthy chat with Jim Watts about music, progressive rock of a specific era being something we have mutual affection. There are a few familiar faces about including Terry Christian, Matt & Sue from Factory Acts, and a couple of members of Death to the Strange.

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It’s been a while since I’ve caught Ed live and it’s noticeable he is more at ease with this band than on previous occasions i’ve seen him. Kicking off with album opener “High On You” the band is tight, with crisp drumming from Ric Gibbs and pulsating bass from Garry Lewis, pushing the envelope.  Trigger Happy, and subsequently Fall, stomper “Rude All The Time” raises the temperature in the room. The wall behind the band is covered with TV monitors which display ambient scenes. By some strange twist of fate the monitors display an ocean scene as Ed delivers the pop stomp of “Poison Fishes”, stripped down to the four piece the album track gains a life of it’s own. Ed’s daughter Bianca joins in on vocals  for the moody “Mettle Claw” which, again, improves on the album version, to my mind. Father and daughter clearly have a strong musical chemistry.

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The added bonus on the night was the return of Jenny “Girl Peculiar” Shuttleworth, who has been absent from live work due to illness, on vocals for the excellent “Winner”. A highlight of the album, the song, written in a holiday retreat, has a certain resonance, implying that being the “winner” doesn’t always mean you actually gain any benefits in the long run.  New tune “Loose Man” is a tale of Salford Scallies, co-written with Granada TV man Tim Scott, and promises that there is more strong material for the Blaney band for future endeavors. To close Bianca rejoins the band for a heartfelt version of the excellent “Diamond”, brimming with Salford soul and rock and roll. The band is well honed and on the button with Jim demonstrating his always memorable control of the guitar and Ed putting his heart and soul into the performance.

A highly enjoyable gig, topped off by a good chat with Ed afterwards about the Blaney project and the Salford Music Festival. Whilst the band bears his name he very much sees the as outfit as a collective. You should check out the album which I reviewed here but also you should see the band live as they build on the excellent recorded  material and turn it into a great live performance experience. There is a strong future for this project.

Another beer, a chat with Matt and Susan about music and politics and then a quick walk over the M602 bridge into darkest Monton and home. I do wish there were more gigs five minutes walk away from home.

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Bianca, Jenny, Ed, Jim, Gary and Ric

 

 

How can you get out of London?

Friday afternoon, golly gee……

London town is as hot as Hades compared to the peoples republic of Eccles at 8am that morning. I’m just off the 13:15 Pendolino from Manchester Piccadilly and it’s a slow, and warm, walk from Euston to the Travelodge on Kings Cross Road. I’d forgotten how busy London is, so many people on the pavements, it has been a few years since I have been this far south, you have to be agile negotiating all these bodies. So i’m pleased to get onto the quieter hotel strewn side ways of Argyle and Swinton Streets, there’s always a Salford connection wherever you go (*), and a short-cut to the cool, albeit small, hotel room. The traffic is bad, horns honking, bikes, both motor and pedal, zipping in and out and around. Booking in takes forever, the hotel is full of northern voices, it’s almost like being at home. A quick shower, a fresh T Shirt and then on the mobile to Bob “South” to find out where the Northampton contingent is at. They are at the Craft Beer House but are leaving shortly for the Jerusalem Tavern. Good, it’s hot and I need a beer.

It’s a 20 minute walk to the aforementioned establishment which takes me past the looming Mount Pleasant Mail Centre, several bistros and the slightly fading decadence of the streets of Kings Cross and Clerkenwell. It hits me i’ve walked by at least five rough sleepers in my perambulations from Euston. Lets hope Sadiq Khan’s election as Mayor of London can begin to tackle this.  I’ve noticed more and more rough sleepers in central Manchester lately as well. Mister Cameron says he’s dealing with the Housing Crisis…..but you can’t believe everything, or indeed anything he says, can you?

The Jerusalem Tavern is delightful, I am advised it is in the Good Beer Guide, and Google says it’s “a 1990s pub in a 1720 building with a facsimile 18th-century interior”, can one get by with an exquisite interior I wonder to myself (**). Bob and Jeff are suitably ensconced and a delicious pint of St Peter Ale is acquired for me.  We catch up on several matters, indulge in another round of ale, and then head up to The Crown Tavern for something to eat. A nice plate of Fish and Chips (required Friday food for a Catholic chap) and another pint in the pub which appears to have a fake lawn on the door to the gents. It’s getting near 7ish and the pubs are getting busy.  People aren’t inside the pubs though, they have spilled out onto the streets. A further stop off at The Gunmakers, which only has one ale on, but it’s a good one, and where Bob tells me there is a hairdressers upstairs, and it’s trendy. We chat about village drug dealing scallies,  Josef K and Harmonia amongst other things.

And so over to the Betsey Trotwood on Farringdon Road to see Dave Graney and the mistLY for the last gig in a five week European Tour. Dave, Clare Moore, Stu Thomas and Malcolm Ross(***) are tucking into a pre-gig meal in the cosy pub. We get one last beer in, have a brief chat with Clare, and then make our way down to the basement venue. I had thought the Eagle (****) was small, but this place is far more compact. It’s full, and very warm. There are a few rock and roll types in tonight. Bob points out that Louis Vause, who played piano on the “I Was The Hunter And I Was The Prey” album, is in the room.

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9:15pm and they are on.

Starting with the autobiographical “We Don’t Belong to Anybody” it’s just Dave, Clare and Stu kicking things off, Malcolm stands at the right watching on. It’s tight. it’s crisp, the sound is amazing, it’s fun, I can’t stop smiling. Dave is the consummate showman, he has a great band, and over the next two hours, with a fifteen minute break, we are treated to a marvellous journey through the “30 Year” back catalogue .

The two Moodists tunes that had been delivered in Salford three weeks ago are there. I was hoping “Chevrolet Rise” might make an appearance but the louche funk-punk of “Frankies Negative” and the acerbic post-punk of “Chad’s Car” make up for that omission. Bob and Jeff had regaled me earlier in the afternoon of that Fall gig where The Moodists were the support and where Dave had an immediate impact on the pair of them (8th December 1983 and two miles to the north west at the Electric Circus for the Fallatalists amongst you).

Coral Snakes tunes also get a good airing including “I’ve Got Myself A Beautiful Nightmare” , “Your Just Too Hip Baby” and the extended version of “Night of the Wolverine” (version number 4 I think with the slowed down memorable coda), plus the usual closer, the breathtaking “Rock and Roll Is Where I Hide”. Dave Graney Show, Lurid Yellow Mist and MistLY tunes all get exposure with “Death By A Thousand Sucks”, “Flash In The Pantz” and a stunning “We Need A Champion” which is introduced with some choice words about Australian politicians. The most recent “solo” album Fearful Wiggings is represented by the apposite “How Can You Get Out Of London” and some interesting comments about Grant McLennan are delivered (it was the tenth anniversary of his death on the date) before laying into Robert Forster , with  tongue firmly in the cheek , via “Everything Was Legendary With Robert”. Two of the latest set of singles “I’m a Good Hater” and “The Deadest Place I Ever Died In” are delivered with the latter being transformed into a very funky little beast in a live setting. I’m sure there were other songs played but my memory is failing me. No doubt Bob will have jotted down the full set list and I can append them to this later on.

Clare is inspirational throughout the gig, she has to be one the best drummers i’ve seen,.moving from tasteful jazzy licks, via funk, into driven rock rhythms. Stu is a stunning bass player, moving through a range of styles with ease. Malcolm adds some exceptional colour to the tunes, whether it be some tasteful wah-wah, spidery lead lines, our jagged post-punk chords. Dave is slick, hip and cool, you wouldn’t want it any other way. The vocal harmonies are spot on. The band is hypnotic. The inter-song banter is irreverent, funny and draws the crowd into Graney world. Dave makes an off-colour remark and Clare gives him the hard stare. It’s just perfect.

The encore is a respectful homage to the recently deceased Prince with Stu taking the lead vocals on a bravura cover of “Sign O’ The Times”. Unexpected and quite special.

And so it’s over. I’d had to move several small mountains to get there, but it was worth it. I don’t go to London that often but sometimes you have to make the effort. I’d enjoyed the Salford gig a lot but my mind was on running the thing and other background stuff so it perhaps didn’t have the impact of this gig. London was something special.

It had been a long day, a quick goodbye to Dave, then Bob and Jeff and then back to the hotel to get ready for an early journey back in the morning. A memorable trip, I wanted to be there, and I wanted to travel.

Hopefully they’ll be back again, soon.

Get a whiff of that antipodean breeze……..

EXPLANATORY NOTES

(*) Swinton is one of the districts of Salford

(**) From the lyrics of the Coral Snakes tune “Dandies Are Never Unbuttoned”

(***) Former Josef K, Aztec Camera and Orange Juice guitarist depping for Stuart Perera on this tour. Malcolm was a member of the Moodists and the Coral Snakes

(****) The venue in Salford where the band played in April – see review here

DG5 BT