It happened….today!

Being bereft of leg for the last few months due to small argument with a ladder and the ground I have not been able to get out to gigs. Fortunately my able chum Stephen Doyle (Salford City Radio Tuesdays at 10pm and Wednesdays at 8pm) was able to take up the opportunity, on my behalf,  to attend a recent gig at the Band on the Wall, Manchester,  from legendary prog-rockers Curved Air, who I first saw live in 1972 at Northampton Cricket Club.

Here is SD’s report on proceedings:

Curved Air 1

You have to go back to 1970 to discover the origins of progressive rock legends Curved Air. Formed through the chance meeting of  violinist Darryl Way  and guitarist/keyboardist  Francis Monkman the group evolved out of the band Sisyphus, after recruiting singer Sonja Kristina. Signing to Warner Brothers the band had a successful run of hit albums and singles, including the memorable “Back Street Luv”, before dissolving in the mid 70s. Following various band names and line-up changes the core of the original band got back together in 2008 with Kristina leading the re-formation. The band have toured extensively and released a number of albums since then. November 12th 2015 saw the group appearing in Manchester.

Although I am an obsessive music fan their records had passed me by until the early 90s, when my wife Yvonne and I got together. She was a massive fan and had seen them live at the Free Trade Hall Manchester in the early 70s. One Xmas I bought her 4 CDS from good old Fopp Records (a fiver each!) and grew to love their unique sound.

Over the years Yvonne and I had discussed going to see them when I had noticed them in gig guides, but it had never come to pass.  The November gig in Manchester seemed too good a chance to miss a long held wish to catch them in concert.

The Band on the Wall is a great venue. We positioned ourselves right at the front of the stage. The only other original member of the band playing the gig was drummer Florian Pilkington-Miksa. The current band are all exceptional musicians, with a lot of flair and freedom of expression, but it was all about the lovely Sonja for Yvonne and me. Yvonne was in tears from the first song. By the brilliant “Melinda More Or Less” I had “something in my eye” too. They played tracks from their 2014 album “North Star” and a host of old classics including Back Street Luv, Marie Antoinette, and It Happened Today. Unfortunately the band did not play Phantasmagoria though, a fave of Yvonne’s, despite us shouting for it all night!.

Curved Air 2

Yvonne even had a “moment” with the lovely Ms Kristina where she reached out and clasped her hand. As I have said, the musicians were superb and, entertained for well over 90 minutes.  Even though I am a  died in wool punk rocker I have always had a soft spot for the old “prog” and they didn’t disappoint. Sonja has a beautiful voice and I look forward to seeing them again soon.

At the end of the gig we met the band in the adjacent bar and had photos taken with them, which was a thrill for me and especially Yvonne, who regaled Sonja of teenage fandom for her! I tried to interview Sonja for my radio show with my Iphone, but a few too many pints of Warsteiner made me press the wrong button! Oh Well!

Lets hope its not not 40 odd years till the next time!

Curved Air 3

Fascinating Things : Issue 34

Since I last wrote a couple of nice things have happened. Firstly I am now working with the excellent music venue Band on the Wall in Manchester to compile a monthly “new jazz” podcast which will reflect some of the jazz artists that will be playing at the august establishment as well as featuring some of the best new jazz releases. I am hoping to feature up and coming jazz musicians especially from the Greater Manchester area in those podcasts as well. I have an abiding love for the place as I have seen some of my favourite artists there over the years so it is a real treat for me to be doing this for them. Secondly I am now a featured blogger on the excellent Hype Machine website which highlights some of the best new music.

Talking of the Band on the Wall I was pleased to note that the legendary Curved Air will be playing there on Thursday next. Sadly I cannot attend due to ongoing post ankle fracture problems but my good buddy Stephen Doyle is attending on my behalf and a review of the gig will appear on the blog, courtesy of SD, in due course. It’s a long while since I saw Sonja and Co (supporting Mott The Hoople in Northampton back in the dark ages) so I am keen to hear what Steve and his wife Yvonne make of the performance. More information and ticket options can be found here.

Regina,Saskatchewan, based band Library Voices have released their new album  ‘Lovish’. Their self-produced third collective effort, ‘Lovish’ was recorded in an old funeral home. The album was mixed by Dave Plowman and Alex Bonenfant (METZ, Crystal Castles, July Talk). The band have upped the fuzz and fidelity on this release, but have not lost any of their charming melodic pop elements. The 11 song album opens with the line “All of your heroes, they’re all assholes/but that don’t mean you should piss on your dreams” and then embarks on an anthemic 40-minute alternative rock journey. The cavernous reverb of an old Space Echo and a busted up tape machine provides the sonic backbone to this engaging guitar-driven album. There’s almost a mid-period Go-Betweens feel in places which of course ticks all the right boxes for me. One of the better albums of the year, especially when the band get the guitars up to full pelt and the punk psychedelia kicks in.

Father Murphy, the Italian duo comprised of Rev. Murphy and Chiara Lee, who have been inhabiting the underground since the early Noughties with a series of dark, disturbing recordings, have teamed up with producer Fabrizio Modonese Palumbo (Larsen) for a 10” EP, which is appropriately entitled “Lamentations” and is to be released by the avant-garde label Backwards on 20th November 2015.

Picture by Sara Xiaygu
Picture by Sara Xiaygu

Preparations continue for the release of SUNN O)))’s upcoming LP, “Kannon”, to be released this December via Southern Lord, and this week the album’s cover art and pre-order options have been released.

Sunn o)))

As part of the label’s ongoing 25th anniversary celebration, Relapse Records has released a 38-song label sampler available for free download via Bandcamp and Amazon MP3. The label sampler features songs from all of Relapse’s 2015 new releases including TORCHE, WINDHAND, ZOMBI, MYRKUR, ROYAL THUNDER and many more. It also includes tracks from the remixed and remastered reissues released in 2015, including music by PIG DESTROYER, SACRILEGE, EXHUMED, RAZOR, and more! Additionally, the sampler contains tracks from 2015’s new signees MAGRUDERGRIND, ILSA, SEVEN SISTERS OF SLEEP, WRONG, GRAVES AT SEA, and LYCUS. The 2015 sampler is also available for free streaming via all majorportals.

Additionally, Relapse Records released a massive 194-song sampler spanning the label’s entire 25-year history earlier this year.

The Scissors are self proclaimed as “Swirling Hammond organ fuelled psychpop with horrorshow freakbeat guitars and new wave post punk synergy”. They are from Cambridge and is the case with that places music scene there are all sorts of links. Band member Stewart Harris not only designed the sleeve for the recent Bouquet of Dead Crows album but also plays bass in excellent band The Seven Twenty. The Scissors have recently remastered their debut album as well as working on some new recordings which have been sent my way and will appear on a future podcast. Highly recommended!

Aural Delights Radio Show – 26th October 2011

  • Mary at Midnight – Caroline – Demo EP – A little bit Indian, a little bit English, Mary at Midnight couples live instruments with dreamy sampled beats, blending them with words often born from the chromosomes of too little sleep and an over-active imagination.
  • Tom Waits – Chicago – Bad As Me – Tom back to his best on this new album.
  • Toska Wilde – I Am Kathy Kirby – Demo Track – from our very own nail varnish guru the unforgettable Toska sings a paean to the great Kathy.
  • Prolapse – Slash/Oblique – The Italian Flag – a fumble from Farley
  • Oh No Ono – Swim -Eggs – another one (a fumble from Farley that is….)
  • Moff Skellington – Brewery Eggman – Eddodi – a track from the rare and early album …… pure magic!
  • The Backgrounds – Day Breaks at Dawn – Depths of Obscurity Volume 1 – a bit of rare garage rock from way back when
  • Mahavishnu Orchestra – Awakening – The Inner Mounting Flame – inexplicably fast guitar playing from Johnny Mac and violin magic from Jerry Goodman….
  • Curved Air – Back Street Luv – Second Album – more violin with a track from my youth….
  • Mary Waterson and Oliver Knight – The Loosened Arrow – this was sent into our new and unsigned page…..
  • Dry Riser – Tangerine – a 4 piece band based in Kentish Town. Their first release, the 4 track EP entitled ‘Two Many Chiefs’ is reminiscent of the 1960’s yet you can’t quite figure out who they sound like.
  • HRTK – Eat Yr Heart – Work (work, work) – new album, new line-up, fascinating sound
  • Mary at Midnight – Frail Hearts – Demo EP
  • The Go-Betweens – Lee Remick – Single – a bit of a classic from the very early days of one of my favourite bands…..
  • The Dream Syndicate – Tell Me When It’s Over – Tales of Wine and Roses – a classic track from a great 80s band….
To listen click the link……