Robert Ford takes to the stage…….over and over again

The toilets smell of damp mops. The building is Tardis like. The beer is in plastic glasses……..

Sunday afternoon in Hull had proved entertaining, a psycho-geographical ramble around the old town with it’s beautiful pubs, and abandoned venues where Pink Floyd etc etc played. A maze of a journey takes us from one pub to another. The early days of October are blessed with no rain and warm sunlight, things feel good. But still there are reminders of the grim impact of Tory rule, even in the European city of culture there are rough sleepers. Not as many as Manchester but numbers aren’t the issue, the fact there are people on the streets damns, once again,  the current administration.

The rock and roll moment is when we leave the Travelodge and are making our way to Hull old town when we spot Clare and Georgio behind Debenhams taking in the afternoon air. A brief conversation and see you later…….

Roll back two days. Dave, Clare and Georgio have been in Europe, with Patrizia occasional playing bass. I wonder how Levenshulme will feel to them after Spain/France. My journey from Eccles is aided by the new Ron S. Peno album which Cam Butler had sent earlier in the week, it’s not Died Pretty, but it’s pretty damn good. Add to that the new one from Go Go Sapien which makes me happy and brings a broad grin to my face with its quirky pop moves.  Somehow Aussie music feels much more legitimate than what we get fed by the so-called mainstream in the old country.

Fred’s Ale House is an excellent venue for this type of thing. A few days earlier SD and I had seen three excellent sets from Vocal Harum, CP Lee, and Barry “The Fish” Melton”.   I arrive early and wait for the bands to a load-in.  SD is at a wedding in Stoke so Victoria is helping out on the door. Dave, Clare, Malcolm and Georgio arrive and we catch up with a chat about cricket, Aussie music, and the aforementioned Mr Melton.  As the drum kit is assembled Dave strums a few chords on his acoustic,  I guess it’s “Mind Full Of Leather” from “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye”, but it turns out it’s one of Malcolm’s songs. They have had two days rehearsals in Edinburgh and the soundcheck sounds tight. Time for a pizza before the proceedings commence.

An almost sold out crowd is treated to the raw enthusiasm of Uke Punk, the rebirth of Poppycock with a new line-up, and Graney & Moore’s pop-up band featuring Malcolm Ross on guitar and lap steel and Georgio Valentino on bass.  Bob is up from Northampton, Brad is down from the foothills of Ben Nevis, and for once I am running a gig which is nearly sold out. As it is with these things a combination of running the door and people wanting to “chat” to me means I don’t really get to see the bands properly but it sounds good to me when I do get a chance to listen.

Dave and Clare treat us to mixture of old and new with a good selection of songs from “Let’s Get Tight” and a respectable and well chosen series of classics from the back catalogue. Stand outs are a remarkable coupling of “Twilight of the Villain” and “Heroic Blues” which is Dave at his best, unwrapping his career before our eyes. The absolute highlight is a remarkable version of “Robert Ford” which is blessed by Clare’s sublime drumming and deft lap steel from Malcolm.  Even the usually hard to please Mr Moss is impressed.  An impromptu tongue in cheek couple of verses of “Show-business” is an added bonus in a busy set. We get another bonus of two of Malcolm’s songs – “Happy Boy” from the album of the same name, and “My Avenger” which I know from the “Wrong Place, Wrong Time” compilation. Both are excellent. Things conclude with a great version of  “Rock and Roll is where I hide” and punters amble out of the room with big smiles. The other Bob treats me to pint after the gig.

Saturday is mostly spent in the Marble Arch catching up with Bob and Sheila. Arrangements are made for the trip over to Hull and some fine ales are quaffed. Sunday sees a lunch time rendezvous in the Port Street Ale House which has some excellent beer on draft and is a loosener for the two hour journey. On a crowded train we decamp to first class and pay the extra as standing all the way to Hull is not recommended. A good bulk of the journey is taken up with a conversation about Alan Moore’s “Jerusalem” which Bob forensically dissects and of which I make a mental note to purchase once I return home.

The Travelodge on Pryme Street in Hull is modern and well appointed and excellent value for money. I contact Dave Hammond and we agree to meet in The George but as luck would have it we run into him and a couple of friends en route. The aforementioned tour of the city is both entertaining and informative.

Eventually we arrive at O’Rileys, the beer is basic so we opt for Guinness.  As mentioned at the start what appears to a detached house on the Beverley Road, from the outside, turns out to be much bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. The venue has a more “rock and roll” feel to it that Freds, not as big a crowd as Friday  but a very enthusiastic one. Great sound and impressive stage lighting is countered by a distressed floor and a peculiar odour in the toilets. The back of the venue is a gym with a boxing ring and a series of punch bags.

Loudhailer Electric Company kick off proceedings with their enthusiastic brand of rock into folk with Lou-Duffy Howard commanding the stage with her boundless energy and every-present smile.  They play some new songs and take an interesting sideways step into Talking Heads ’77 territory with a funky number. Stand-outs are a strident “Gypsey Race” and an epic closer with “Night Heron” with some excellent violin/guitar interplay.  Lou gives me a copy of the “Cursus” album.

 

I’m still getting to grips with the Canon Ixus I acquired for gigs like this but I manage to capture a few reasonable shots and a healthy handful of videos which I will eventually load up to You Tube. It’s no SLR but it’s better than lugging a bigger camera around when out and about.

I settle stage right, and aim to absorb uninterrupted what I missed on Friday. It’s exceptional.  The two Dr Alimantado references in the Graney/Moore canon make their way into the set. Twilight of a Villain and Heroic Blues are stunning, as they were on Friday.  Wolverine is a signature tune and I never tire of hearing it.  Malcolm plays “As Good As It Gets from the “Low Miffs” album which fits perfectly in with the Graney vibe and also has that unmistakable Edinburgh/Edwyn feel in its’ DNA.  The Godfrey Brothers are feted as Dave introduces a remarkable “A Boy Called Epic”. The set runs for nearly 90 minutes (Grateful Dead length Dave jokes at one point). The crowd loves it. Star Trek is mentioned by Lou in the LEC set (Voyager) and Dave in their set (TOS).  All of this is so effortless, so enjoyable, people in the crowd say “why haven’t we heard of this music before?”.

Monday is a taken up with a tour of some of the tourist bits of Hull, a strange vegetarian breakfast in the station cafe (olives and cucumbers mixed with beans, hash browns and and mushrooms oddly) and then a more comfortable ride back to Manchester. Bob will see it all again in London on Wednesday and Thursday, I am too busy with record label business unfortunately.

Over the two days the music played

Clinging To The Coast
Everything Was Legendary With Robert
A Boy Named Epic
Twilight Of a Villain
Heroic Blues
Happy Boy (Malcolm Ross)
You Need A Kleek Klook
All Our Friends Were Stars
Robert Ford On The Stage
My Avenger (Malcolm Ross)
We Need A Champion
Night Of The Wolverine
How Long Does The Raunch?
I Been Trendy
How Do You Get Out Of London
As Good As It Gets (Malcolm Ross)
Rock `n` Roll Is Where I Hide

As with 2016 Dave and Clare have in all likely-hood nabbed gig of the year…… hopefully they will be back again.

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Fascinating Things : Issue 67

Apologies for the small hiatus but I have been busy on record label business. We have a fun packed few months coming up, most of this I cannot tell you about yet, but suffice to say it involves gigs and releases, and all will be revealed soon. What I can tell you is i’ve been asked to facilitate a gig in Salford for Belgium based US  artist in exile Georgio “The Dove” Valentino in support of his soon to be released 7″ which was made in collaboration with Mick Harvey, David McClymont, Dave Graney and Clare Moore. The gig will be at the Eagle in Salford on December 3rd and we have two local bands supporting. The excellent Adventures of Salvador, whose new album “Chocolate & Drugs” is bloomin’ marvellous, plus the ethereal Rose & The Diamond Hand whose debut EP drops on 12th August, together with a launch gig on 13th August at the self-same Eagle. The whole thing is only £5 and you can book your e-ticket here. Here’s a taster of what to expect:

GTDV Promo Poster

Anyhow, enough of this self-promotion, what else is going on in the wacky world of music?

TESA are a guitar trio from Latvia. They have a new album called “Ghost” released via My Proud Mountain on August 5th.

 

Described as a cross between Tame Impala and Buddy Holly the cleverly named Gringo Star have a new album out called “The Sides and In Between”. It’s a curates egg of a thing with some very high highs and some slightly dull bits but overall very good indeed. Here are two samples. It’s out on August 26th via Pitchfork.

‘Together, As One’ is the third album as a leader from British award-winning trumpet player, composer and band-leader Laura Jurd and her debut with newly named band Dinosaur. Featuring Laura’s regular collaborators, friends and creative cohorts Elliot Galvin, Conor Chaplin and Corrie Dick, ‘Together, As One’ is a coherently powerful and bold album that not only confirms her promise as one of the most important young musicians to emerge from the UK jazz scene in recent years but is also a statement that will launch her music into the international jazz world.

 

Southern Lord will be releasing the brand new LP “Plague” from Bay Area, California hardcore band Lies on August 26th, as well as a CD release that combines the record with their previous EP, 2014’s “Abuse”.

A productive period for Limbs head honcho Michael Chadwick with a couple of new releases. Packed with the usual quirky and witty perspectives on life, highly recommended.

Hailing from Warsaw (Poland) the quartet White Crosses, featuring the creative partnership of Konrad Sloka (Vox/Guitar), Sebastian Prokop (Guitar), Stefan Banaszynski (Bass) and Marcin Plocha (Drums), produced big waves in their native country with their acclaimed EP release ‘Native Handshakes’ in 2015. Releasing ‘Dead Souls’ as a taste of things to come from their forthcoming EP ‘Anchorless’, White Crosses are armed to bring their music to an international audience.

 

Fascinating Things : Issue 45

It seems inevitable that this will be the year of the Graney. he is over for a short UK (and then French) tour, including a little gig that Una Baines and I have put together at the Eagle in the heart of Salford in April. Dave’s been busy of late, including a new single (out today) recorded by himself and Clare at the Ponderosa. It’s Dave being witty, and ironic, and wonderfully laid back.  I’m still waiting for the second volume of Play Mistly For Me mind you.

Details of the aforementioned gig, which is limited to 75 tickets so if you want to catch Dave, Clare, Stu Thomas and former Josef K and Orange Juice guitarist Malcolm Ross i’d book early if I were you, are on the flier below. Get your tickets here

.dg eagele facebook

While listening to Dave’s radio show I was, as mentioned before, impressed by Jess Ribeiro, i’ve since invested in one of her Bone Collectors releases, which is more alt.country, and I will be sharing that in future weeks, but here is the stand out track from the most recent album recorded by Mick Harvey.

Talking of Mick Harvey, Dave and Clare posted a series of pictures of Mick, David McClymont and themselves working on a single with Georgio ‘the Dove’ Valentino. Intrigued I investigated Mr Valentino and was impressed by his output. If you track him down on the tax averse search engine you can get his excellent “Mille Plateaux” double album for free and also this offering from 2011, which has recently been repackaged

Away from matters Dave for a bit, now then, I’m a sucker for girls with guitars and drums making a lot of noise, and this lot caught my eye in a recent mail-out.  Of course they have been around for ages and I am, as usual, playing catch-up, They  a sister duo from Oklahoma made up of Kelli Mayo and Peyton Bighorse, formed in 2009 after a jam session at the girls’ Halloween party. They describe themselves as “like Babes in Toyland, Bikini Kill, Beat Happening, Regina Spektor, Kimya Dawson and Nirvana”. Skating Polly make a good noise and are worthy of further investigation.

I’ve just received the final mixes for the new KIt B EP which is will be out towards the end of March, called “Weird Water” it’s a remarkably good trio of songs, with the title track being particularly fine. Also arrived is the new West Coast Sick Line album called “Europee” which will certainly surprise some people. I reckon it’s better than Billinge in terms of song writing strength/maturity and variety of content. At the same time I was sent the debut album by Saint Lawrence Verge, called “Ashram”. They are a quartet from Modena in Northern Italy who play an interesting amalgam of post punk and progressive rock with strong cinematic elements. Here’s a live version of one of the album tracks, it’s not the highest fidelity, but you can get a good feel for the music. I guess we will surprise a few people with this release but Ian and I both agree it’s special.

Bubbling away for release is the debut single from The Sideshow which I have posted before but I am minded to include again as it deserves a lot of attention.