The New Olympians

So here we are again ……. upstairs at The Kings Arms…..drinking beer and talking nonsense.

However there is something slightly different this time, the great and the good of the 80s Manchester Scene appear to have congregated on this warmish Friday Night (with intermittent showers) – so we have a couple of “Things”, a “Hamster”, a postman called “Jon”, a couple of “Mutts” and a “Kit B” and that’s just within listening distance. Davey Hammond has come from Thetford as well – but disappointingly he has not brought his smelly flowerpot with him. The object of all this attention is “The Distractions” who are back together performing live for the first time in 30+ years in support of a new album called “The End of the Pier” (which I must get round to reviewing at some point).

Tonight is a show put on by Occultation Records and three of their roster are performing.

First up we have the June Brides whose unconventional six piece line-up includes violin, and trumpet, and just about squeezes onto the stage. They play light melodic tunes – a lot of them in a minor key. The room is not particularly full at this point (perhaps the punters have not heard about the curfew at the Kings Arms) although the audience is appreciative of the bands relaxed and melodic performance. The new single “January Moon”sounds particularly good in this setting.

Downstairs for another beer and a chat with a couple of the Mutts and then back upstairs with some anticipation to see Factory Star. This is around my sixth time of seeing them and the first time with the full line-up of Bramah, Dutton, Moran and McKechnie. But hang on a minute there are only three of them stage? I know Martin is here because I was talking to him earlier. What is going on, I ask myself?  The trio launch into a muscular version of “Hanging Man” and about four minutes in Mr B emerges from the dressing room, guitar in hand, plugs in, and joins the fray. A bit of a James Brown moment perhaps – without the sparkly jacket.  The tension has been built and frankly after that it does not abate. We get around 50 minutes of intense, frenetic and fascinating music. The sole track from the new mini-album “New Sacral” is “Olympian” – for the most part we are treated to excerpts from “Enter Castle Perilous” and “Blue Orchids” classics. Martin is particularly focused  and the band are at their very best with an almost unforgiving barrage of sound. The high-points for me are a mesmerising “When Sleep Won’t Come” and the almost incandescent closer “Angel Steps” which has Martin exorcising a few demons at the end . Mr B exits stage centre as the band powers to a stunning conclusion. We collectively agree that it’s the best gig yet by the band.

I position myself stage left for the Distractions – I want to catch this in all its glory. It’s a bit of Rock and Roll history and it deserves some attention. The legendary Mike Kellie is on drums (Spooky Tooth, The Only Ones) and looks in pretty fine fettle for a chap in his mid-60s. Lable boss Nick Halliwell is stage left and June Brides bassist – Arash Torabi (who gets the honorary Chris Dutton badge for doing two sets in an evening in two different bands) is stage right. The centre of attention is the two original members of the band Steve Perrin and Mike Finney. I readily admit to coming to the band late in my life – I have been given a potted history by my chum and fellow DJ Stephen Doyle and having had a review copy of the new album I am fully aware of their work. What all of that recorded sound doesn’t prepare you for is the experience of hearing Mike Finney’s voice live – it is one of those great voices – deep, resonant and full of emotion. We get quite a few songs from the new album, and couple of oldies, but I begin to glance nervously at my watch as 11pm approaches – the band is around three quarters of their way through the set – maybe they have got a dispensation, as it’s Friday night, from the dreaded 11pm curfew at the Kings. But no – the sound-man comes over and  says “three minutes”. Notwithstanding the disappointment of an early conclusion there are sufficient high points in the set to make this a memorable experience – “Waiting for Lorraine” from “Nobodys’ Perfect” gets a very warm response – and “The Summer I Met You” from the new album strikes me as being particularly fine.

Apparently on the following night the band got to do a full set.

Will we see it’s like again? One would hope so, but with Steve Perrin being in the Antipodes there are some specific organisational barriers to get round.

Altogether a very pleasant evening in fine company with some excellent music. Well done to Nick Halliwell et al for making it happen.

(didn’t take my camera so no pictures…..)

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Salford Music Scene – 28th August 2012

On this show I start a four week series of previews of the forthcoming Salford Music Festival…….i’ve also got the new Mr Heart album to play as well! Listen here….

1 Dirty Money Start All Over Demo
2 Mr Heart Amber The Unspeakable Mr Heart
3 Veladrome Boys 33 Demo
4 Dislocation Dance I Stop Breathing The Ruins of Manchester
5 The Distractions 100 times The End of the Pier
6 The June Brides Cloud Single
7 Factory Star Olympian New Sacral
8 West Coast Sick Line Blank Holiday Demo
9 Whipcord Dread Stop Bop Whipcord
10 Veladrome Die Neue Demo
11 Mr Heart Devolution The Unspeakable Mr Heart
12 Toska Wilde and Luis Drayton feat Moet Lullabye Glamoflage
13 Moral Panic Rubiks Demo
14 The Fall Life Just Bounces White Lightning EP

Salford Music Scene – 21st August 2012

On this show…..listen here

1 Danny Short Reputation Reputation
2 Cheap Cuts Misery Guts Misery Guts
3 Factory Star Super Real New Sacral
4 Toska Wilde and Luis Drayton Helmets for Men Glamoflage
5 Mount Fabric R.O.C. Threads
6 Trojan Horse Fire Fire
7 The Fierce and the Dead On VHS On VHS
8 The Distractions Too Late to Change The End of the Pier
9 Da Mutts Hear to Die Demo
10 Nine of Clubs Lazy Toad Clubbed Up
11 Social Aneurysm 1984 It’s Time Demo
12 The Outreach Project Twisted Persona The Outreach Project On Heat
13 Veladrome Duke Demo
14 Taser Puppets Wasp Twisted Pop
15 Kill Pretty Breakdown Man Dark Heart
16 The Fall Mod Mock Goth (We Wish You) A Protein Christmas

Salford Music Scene – 14th August 2012

A special birthday show for MJ Leigh – drummer of this parish

# Messrs Bramah and Leigh – both featured on this show

Last Friday I got a phone call from our Station Manager Chris Brophy to tell me the sad news that fellow DJ Paul Scoble had sadly died. Paul presented the Goldmine Show on Monday Nights on Salford City Radio. His show concentrated on the rich history of rock music from the 60s onwards and was always entertaining and packed full of great tunes from a musical period where uniqueness and talent was synonomous. Aside from being a DJ he was a talented musician and by way of a tribute  I am playing a track from his album Fearful Symmetry.

The show can be heard here and the playlist is :

1 The Fall Rowche Rumble Dragnet +
2 Kill Pretty Love Twists Dark Heart
3 Factory Star Weird World New Sacral
4 Paul Scoble Chase the Sun Fearful Symmetry
5 The Distractions I Don’t Have Time End of the Pier
6 Annie You Couldn’t Have Been More Right Single
7 Colour of Bone Sympathiser Single
8 Social Aneurysm Long Beach Demo
9 Dislocation Dance Snakes and Ladders The Ruins of Manchester
10 The Outreach Project Brien The Outreach Project On Heat
11 The Loaded Dice You, Me and the Sky Hindsight of a Brand New Soul : A Poor Mans Prophecy
12 Kill Pretty Mirror Factory Dark Heart
13 The Fall 2nd Dark Age Dragnet+
14 The Fall Psykick Dancehall Dragnet+

Music Scene Radio Show – 7th August 2012

A bit of a personal treat for me tonight with new tracks from some of my favourite bands  ….. listen here

1 Kill Pretty Dark Heart Dark Heart
2 Factory Star Incorruptible New Sacral
3 The Distractions Boots The End of the Pier
4 West Coast Sick Line Blank Holiday Pre-release
5 Kit B This Is Now, That Was Then Pre-release
6 Blue Orchids Hanging Man The Greatest Hit (Money Mountain)
7 Factory Star Up and On New Sacral
8 The Distractions Man of the Moment The End of the Pier
9 Joe Thomas Hungry Boy Under A Salford Sky
10 Factory Star Strangely Lucid New Sacral
11 Kill Pretty Clever Men Who Have Thin Arms Dark Heart
12 The Fall The Container Drivers Grotesque After The Gramme

Pier Pressure

The Distractions will release their 2nd album, The End Of The Pier (32 years after the critically acclaimed Nobody‟s Perfect), via Occultation Recordings on 21st August.

Available as a 180g vinyl limited edition as well as CD and download, The End Of The Pier will be released just a few days upfront of The Distractions only UK shows in 2012 when they headline The Occultation End Of The Pier shows (also featuring Factory Star and The June Brides) at the Kings Arms, Salford  on August 31st and September 1st.

The Distractions are one of the most revered yet lost bands of the “new wave” era – their classic You‟re Not Going Out Dressed Like That EP was followed by the seminal Factory single Time Goes By So Slow when they also shared the bill with the likes of Joy Division, Magazine and Buzzcocks. On the back of that, they signed to Island Records and released a clutch of singles upfront of their début album Nobody’s Perfect which, despite being heaped with critical plaudits, failed to match sales expectations. Shortly afterwards Steve Perrin quit – ultimately relocating to New Zealand – and the band imploded during 1981. Singer Mike Finney went on to work with The Art Of Noise while other members went their disparate ways.

One of the most promising bands ever to emerge from Manchester was no more.

Until…

In 2010, The Distractions re-emerged with a low-key EP (Black Velvet) on Occultation comprising tracks recorded in the mid ’90s before Finney and Perrin reunited in the studio to record three new tracks that became the Come Home 12” vinyl EP (also on Occultation).

A year later, a studio in Exeter and after four days Finney and Perrin had laid down the basic tracks for The End Of The Pier with Mike Kellie (drums), Arash Torabi (bass) and producer Nick Halliwell (guitar and vocals).

Steve Perrin “Being geographically challenged as we are means The Distractions is more occasional than full time; then again, long-awaited could also adjectivally apply to this album – Dexys look like they’ve rushed their new record, it‟s only 26 years since their last”.

Mike Finney “I rather like the idea of a world tour but it‟d interfere with watching my son‟s football practice. Besides taking time off work is a bit tricky, so we‟ve had to forego six weeks traversing North America in a bus and settle for two shows in Salford”.

As on The End Of The Pier, the line-up is original Distractions Mike Finney (vocals) and Steve Perrin (guitar/vocals) joined by Nick Halliwell (guitar/vocals, The Granite Shore), Arash Torabi (bass, Granite Shore, June Brides) and Mike Kellie (drums, The Only Ones/Spooky Tooth/etc. etc.)

 The Distractions second album, The End Of The Pier, will be available on limited edition 180g vinyl/CD/DL at the end of August 2012.
 The June Brides new 7″ Moon / Cloud is out on Occultation/Slumberland on 25/6/12
 A Factory Star 10″ mini-album is due for release during the summer.