The Telescopes with Flavor Crystals @ London Fields Brewhouse.

Thursday 22 September 2016 – London.

I really like the psychedelic, droney, shoegazey, not sure how you describe them, band, The Telescopes. They have existed in one form or the other since the late 1980s, though the singer Stepen Lawrie is now the only original member. I have seen them once before, about a year ago, and at the same venue.  So I kind of knew what to expect. Low light, high volume.

Until this morning I had not heard of, nor heard support act, Flavor Crystals, they are from Minneapolis and are in the UK, I am guessing, for the big Liverpool Psych Fest festival on this coming weekend.  One year I will make it up there as it looks to be a good show.

I really enjoyed Flavor Crystals, I noted bits of Yo La Tengo and Kinski in their sound, and those are nothing but good things in my book.





They have released a split 12” single with The Telescopes and I suspect that will end up in my record collection fairly soon.

The Telescopes mainly played tracks off the last LP, ‘Hidden Field’s, though things tended to blur a bit, some of the sounds blending into another. I really like the LP, but they were a little uninspiring tonight. Maybe it was the small audience ?  I am not sure, but I was a bit disappointed by their set.

Photographically The Telescopes were a bit dull as well, Flavor Crystals were well lit, but The Telescopes had flat red lighting, I hate flat red lighting.  So, all the photos have been converted to black and white.










Stow Festival Friday night.

Friday 16 September 2016 – London.

The annual Stow Festival has been running for four years and gets bigger and better each time. It is a weekend long celebration of music in Walthamstow, NE London. Where I live. I am a massive music fan, have been since I was a teen, so music is a key part of my life and I have been giving to gigs since the 1980.

I am a bit of a music snob, and am a bit fussy about what gigs I go to, rarely going to anything that is not to MY taste. I have not been to many of the Stow Festival shows in the past, even though it is local; and I do support local, there has not been much to my taste before. This year was different, there was a lot of interesting music in the festival so El and I were keen to get out.

This year is the 40th anniversary of punk, and there have been a few exhibitions and gigs celebrating this/. Walthamstow had a part to play in punk rock history, with the Sex Pistols playing early gigs here and the long gone, but internationally famous, Small Wonder Records  just down the road from home. Small Wonder was not just a shop and mail order business it was also a record label that released singles by artists such as The Cure, Bauhaus, Crass, Cockney Rejects, along with a host of others not quite that famous in far off New Zealand.

The first event El and I attended tonight was a talk at Walthamstow Library. Author Clinton Heylin led a panel discussion with journalist Jonh Ingram, Buzzcocks manager Richard Boon and Sex Pistols bassist Glen Matlock.


The talk was illuminating and a bit of fun, with some interesting anecdotes and stories from 1976. It was followed by a short but great set from Glen Matlock. He played ‘Pretty Vacant’, ‘Stepping Stone’ (which the Pistols used to play) and an excellent cover of the Richard Hell punk classic ‘Blank Generation’.


It was a great start to the evening.

After a quick bite we went to the Rose and Crown pub to catch three bands. We missed most of the set by the first act, The Left Outsides. A duo playing a kind of southern gothic folk with an English twist, I think that is best description I can come up with. It was not really my thing, but I kind of liked it, dark and murky.


I had listened to a couple of tracks from The Hanging Stars, the middle act of the night, we both really liked them. I could hear hints of REM, The Feelies and the psychedelic folk rock of The Dream Syndicate. With the slide guitar there was definitely a country tinge as well. Thought they were great and if they played locally again I would go and see them. Nice to see a band with three guys who could sing.


The main act was local psych rock outfit The Oscillation. I have been wanting to see them for a while, from what I have heard of them I like there droney, shoegazey psychedelic rock. Naturally the lights went down for them, so photography got a bit harder. It is always hard to get a decent photo of a drummer, especially from the side of the stage. Shot through the guitarist was the best I got. The rhythm section were absolutely brilliant, really tight, great musicianship and really worked the ‘motorik’ krautrock style well.



I thought the keyboard was way too high in the mix, I would have liked to have had the bass/drums higher, followed by the guitar, not that it was my choice 🙂


Lyrics were a bit naff, but you get that with psychedelic rock! But anyway; I was there for the music.



We enjoyed what we saw of their set, but did not make it to the end. We have both been sick for most of the week and the late night was getting too much so we left for home after a few songs.

It was a good night out, would have been a lot nicer without the head and chest colds!

Watch your palace fall – Conor Harrington Exhibition.

Thursday 14 September 2016 – London.

It has been a long time since I wrote anything about street art or street art related activities. The London scene has shrunk remarkably from those busy, busy days of three of four years ago. I occasionally go out with Darryl for a look around and he invites me to gallery openings and viewings, but like so many things I never seem to have the time to go to much. I have been sick these past few days, nothing serious, just a draining fluey cold. El has had a slight variation as well, and we have both been off work with it. Being off work sick is less fun when you are being paid daily. No workee = no money, so I am not milking this!

In preparation for my trip to India in November, and deciding  to travel with the DSLR for the first time, I have had the camera’s sensor professionally cleaned. I have noticed smudges on it the last couple of times I used it and it has been a long time since it was done. I had to pick it up today so decided to head in to the city, grab the camera, quickly catch up with Darryl and go see the Conor Harrington exhibition in Soho as it was not too far from the camera shop.

I have been a fan of Conor Harrington’s work since I first saw it on the streets of London in 2013. His street work is usually done on large walls, and he has quite a unique style. I have seen a couple of canvases in galleries, but not been to a solo show before.

The show “Watch your palace fall” is being held in the Pace London gallery space, in conjunction with the launch of a book of his work.


The pieces are all loyal to his ‘street’ style, big canvases, with loads of colour and a mix between realism and abstract.


As I was picking up the DSLR I packed a small 50mm lens in my bag, normally this is fine for galleries, but not today. There were poles in the viewing area which prevented me from getting far enough away to take photos of a couple of the pieces.  Oh well, seeing is just as good.


My favourite was this diptych of a tug of war, battle for our souls between red and blue, left and right. Lovely.


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It is a great exhibition and if you get a chance to go and see it, I highly recommend it.


I have seen a few of his street pieces over the years, there is even one in Walthamstow, which was painted in 2015.


I have had a look around my collection and found these, though I am sure I have seen more of them. I think themagnificent, indoor/outdoor exhibition, ‘Baroque the Streets’, in Dulwich in May 2013 was the first time I saw one of his pieces, and it’s still one of my favourites


Whitecross St, July 2013.


Bristol, Sep 2013.


Finally, a gallery piece from the awesome ‘Brutal’ group Exhibition, held in Nov 2013. This show was held in the basement of an empty office block in the Strand.  What an amazing venue for an exhibition, dark, damp and a little eerie.


Thanks Conor for brightening up the streets 🙂

And thanks Darryl for getting me along, though I did have to lie down when I got home.

Emptying the nest.

Sunday 11 September 2016 – Torquay and Exeter, Devon.

I am an empty-nester yet again.

I don’t talk on here about my family that often , and even less so about El’s, so I am not going to go into much detail now as I do not want to intrude into their privacy.  El has two sons, Joe and Charlie. Joe has been away from home for four years, has completed a degree at Oxford and is starting his masters in Nottingham. Charlie finished his last term of school in July, got the excellent grades he was expecting and this weekend he too left for university, starting a history degree at Exeter.

Charlie is going down to Exeter with his dad and El and I are going to make our own way down and stay the night, slightly further into Devon, in Torquay. There is a music festival on in Exeter and with a lot of students turning up with their families to add the temporary population explosion there was no where to stay on Saturday night; and to be honest it is far nicer being by the sea!

We left Walthamstow about 8:30 on Saturday morning, I was expecting it to be a five hour drive, and I was not disappointed at all, or evenly pleasantly surprised. It took five and half hours to get to our hotel in Torquay.

We had a room with a view of the sea and down the coast path to Paington and Brixham;  fabulous. I love seeing the sea, only a blue sky over it would have made this better 🙂


After unpacking we took to the roads and explored Torquay. It is an interesting town on the wider Torbay, and part of the ambitiously named ‘English Riviera’. I am guessing it is an old fishing town, that embraced tourism back in the 19th century. The port is full of private yachts and motor boats now. It is part faded glory and part modern tourist spot. It took a while to warm into it, but we really liked it in the end.




I am not a big fan of the sight-seeing wheel that now seem to dominate the horizon in every town, though I liked the relationship this one had with the surrounding buildings and land.



I think this photo shows the changing fortunes of many a seaside town. The good old pavilion, ‘THE’ place to hang out for many decades, shuttered and closed and the money is spent going (slowly) round the wheel.


Though tourism has not quite fully replaced fishing – yet.


We had not banked on Torquay being so busy. We went out to look for dinner at 8:00, thinking we would walk in to  anywhere we wanted, only to discover that most places were full. We ended up sparing no expense and having a small pizza each at Pizza Express, no complaints though, it was good pizza and the service was excellent. There appears to be lots of stag/hen type nights in town, lots of groups of blokes and women prowling the streets and filling the bars and restaurants, I think it is that sort of town now.

It does have a nice waterfront to walk along and the lights around the bay are lovely.



We didn’t linger in the hotel on Sunday and were on the road soon after breakfast, heading off on the slow road into Exeter. it was very nice being by the sea, I really miss it, and just being near it again does give me a real lift.

Charlie is staying in halls for the first year and had an arrival slot of 12:30-13:00 to unload his stuff into his room. El and I wanted to have a look around Exeter, so parked up and had a walk around the centre of town. Starting down by the really nice quay.


I have been here before, almost four years ago to the day, and explored all the historical places back then. Though we did pass a few on the way up to the cathedral, starting with the wonderful medieval bridge, crossing a piece of grass that is a hundred or so yards from the river.



We stopped for a coffee in the square, the church behind the cafe is the last church Saxon Church in England, consecrated in 1065, the year before the Norman invasion.



After coffee we walked up to the university area on the edge of town, I left El at Charlie’s home for the next year, to wait for his arrival and went off for a walk on my own.


I walked up past the remains of the castle walls.


A wonderful piece of street art, I am assuming by Vhils, it is in his unique style. He uses small amounts of explosive to blow out tiny sections of the wall, leaving behind a wonderful piece of art.


Passed an ancient alms house.


Ending up back at the cathedral again.



Soon after arriving in Cathedral Green I had a call from El to let me know that Charlie was settled in, so I went back to the car and drove up to the uni for a look around his room, before we all went for a late lunch in a nearby pub.

This lovely day out was followed by a less than nice five and half hour drive back to London and home. We arrived knackered at 8:30 and didn’t stay up much beyond that!

For the next wee while, during term anyway, El and I will be empty nesters. A new chapter in our life.

The Wedding Present instore @ Rough Trade East

Monday 05 September 2016 – London.

A second ‘gig’ in four days, though this was not really a proper gig. The Wedding Present sans drummer performed an in-store at Rough Trade East to support the launch of their new album ‘Going, Going…’. I was never going to turn down the opportunity to see another favourite band, and one I have never seen before.

The Wedding Present were a large part of the sound of my mid to late 80’s, ever since I bought and fell in love with early single ‘This boy can wait’ in 1986, off the back of a track on the C86 cassette given away with the NME. In 1991 they recorded a noisy feedback laden version of what was for many, many years my favourite song of all time – Steve Harley’s ‘Make me smile’. Their songs of love lost, love unrequited, break ups and pain, backed by fast distorted pop guitars, bass and drums were the best since Buzzcocks first couple of LPs in the early punk years. I am such a sucker for a bit of heartache in my ears.

I kind of fell out of touch with their music for a while, coincidentally at the time of the demise of vinyl in the early nineties. A time when I fell out of touch with a lot of music I had followed when records were how it was consumed.

I have recently started listening to some of their newer music and when I read about a new album; on double vinyl, and with a free show, I wasn’t going to pass the opportunity up to go and buy it; and get a free show as well.

The photos are in black and white as dim purple lightening is not flattering at all.


David Gedge, the singer/guitarist is the only remaining member from the first band, and he still has the voice and vocal and delivery I loved 30 years ago.


In a show of very uncharacteristic organisation I wrote down all the song titles as they played them…

I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of older songs that were played as well, really old tracks like ‘My favourite dress’ and the final track ‘Everybody thinks he looks daft’, some Albini period tracks ‘Dalliance’, ‘Cordoroy’, ‘Brassneck’ and (I think) ‘Crawl. Four tracks from the new LP. ‘Bear’, ‘Birdsnest’, ‘Rachel’ and ‘Broken bow’ were mixed in and absolutely fitted in amongst the classics.


Reviews for the new album have been very complimentary, some saying it is as good as good as the classic LP, ‘Sea Monsters.

I have only just started to listen to it tonight, but so far so good. Instrumental tracks – a real break from previous Wedding Present records (There was a 10″ single of Ukrainian folk songs in 80s/90s that may have had some non-vocal tracks) – and I am a massive sucker for instrumentals. I cannot wait for some love lorn lyrics though.

Die! Die! Die! @ Birthdays, London.

Friday 02 September 2016 – London.

I have not been to many gigs lately, this will only be my fourth this year, excluding the solo set by Martin Phillips from The Chills last week. I have a few small shows lined up over the next few weeks, starting with one of my favourite New Zealand bands Die! Die! Die!. They have been around for about 12 years and I have seen them a few times and own almost, if not all, their recorded output. They tour a lot, and I have seen them three times since I have been in London, though it does not appear I have ever written about them before. I have definitely taken photos of them in the past. Their records are great, but live is where they make their mark. I have never been to a bad show.

Tonight they played at Birthdays in Dalston, a well established small venue, but one I have not been to before. After seeing a show there I will definitely go back, it is good venue There were three bands performing and, what I thought was fantastic, it all had to be over by 10:00pm. I do love an early gig!

I got there just as the first act The Sans Pareil were hitting the stage, I grabbed a drink and headed down to the basement band room. My DSLR is in the shop being cleaned so I can take it away with me on my coming travels so I had the little G16 tonight. I was kind of glad as the light was really low and I can push the ISO on the G16 way higher than I can on the old 5d. I really do not like to use flash at shows if it can be avoided. I was shooting at 2500 ISO so there is a bit of noise in all the shots.

I liked some of The Sans Pareil’s set, at times they sounded a little Wire like, which is no bad thing. Though they were really really loud, too much for my liking – stupidly I forgot to bring ear plugs.



Second up was M!r!M, a synth/bass duo. I had listened to a couple of tracks at work and they sounded OK, live they were a little repetitive, one of the major issues with a keyboard based duo is being visually as well as audibly interesting. I didn’t stay for their entire set. They were not bad, I was just saving my ears for the headliners!



Die! Die! Die arrived on stage just after 9:00 – I love band times in London 🙂  I managed to secure a spot at the front and to one side of the speakers. The lead singer/guitarist, Andrew, always puts on a show and has always stood on the left of the stage when I have seen them so that was where I parked myself.



The audience was pretty tame for most of the set, I could see the band were trying to get them moving, I have found London crowds to be fairly quiet in the main, maybe it is just the indie folk don’t like to break the cool poses and get in amongst it. Andrew likes to get in the audience, get a bit of reaction going. I have been to some great and wild shows in New Zealand – maybe the crowds are just a bit younger there?


After a few forays into the audience, with guitar and mic stand, there started to be a bit of reaction and participation.


The bass player is fairly new, there have been a few bass players over the years, Rory seemed to be pulling a few Paul Simonon poses, I guess if you have to have a style influence the bassist from The Clash is a good example to follow.



The drummer, Michael Prain, has to be one of the hardest working drummers in the business. Die! Die! Die! are driven by a solid rhythm section and none of the drumming is a boring 3 / 4 beat. One of the things I love about the band is the bass and drums drive a lot of the songs, especially on the brilliant Promises, Promises LP. 


They played material from most of the albums, I recognised pretty much all of the tracks, there was at least one newer song, but I am not yet fully familiar with the last EP. Hopefully there will be a new LP sometime in the next few months.


People Talk and Ashtray Ashtray were the last couple of songs played, I think; I had had a couple of gins by that stage, Ashtray was definitely the last one, I am now a bit vague on the second to last. Whatever it was it finally got the crowd going, so I dropped my bag in a corner and joined in for a bit of a jump up and down. It got very hot and sweaty.


I left very sweaty and deaf but very happy… As I have said on so many occasions when I finally drag my self out the door, I always have a good time. Tonight was no exception.

The face pointing must be a thing, I took this image at,  what I think was my favourite DDD show, in Auckland in 2008.


Advice wanted on Pushkar and camera bags. These things are not related!

Thursday 01 September 2016 – London

After a fairly busy period we have had, what seems to be, a quiet couple of weeks. It hasn’t been of course; it is summer and it feels like we have been fully occupied, making the most of warm and rain free days and nights. I have just not taken many photos worth sharing!

We did visit Tate Modern and explore the brilliant new wing, what a fantastic building it is, inside and out. With bonus great views in all directions.


We also went to a preview screening of ‘The curse of The Chills’ a film about one of my favourite New Zealand bands. Singer/songwriter/guitarist and main-stay Martin Phillips did a solo set after the screening which we both really enjoyed, he played a couple of my favourite Chills tracks, which is always a good thing.


Amongst all this busyness we have been planning a bunch of new activities and the next couple of months are crammed with things to do. We have trips away, concerts, dinners, parties, and all sorts of other stuff organised or semi-organised before I head off to India and New Zealand in November.

Planning for my trip is going well. I have all my flights booked, which means dates are now all confirmed. I have two weeks in India, followed by three days in Brisbane visiting my son, two weeks in New Zealand with family and then two final days in Dubai on the way back to London to break up the journey. If life was perfect then I would be able to spend more time in each of those locations, but I guess I have to pay for these trips somehow. I should not complain, my life is pretty near perfect!

For this trip I have finally decided to take my DSLR with me. It is an old and heavy beast and I have avoided taking it away for, probably, all the wrong reasons. With the exception of visiting my daughter in Mcleod Ganj in the far north of India I am going to spend my time in Rajastan. I have timed my visit to coincide with the annual Pushkar Camel Fair a major festival in India and one I am expecting to be a source of some great photographic opportunities. Visiting this major event has prompted me to take more than just my pocket sized Canon G16.

Have you been to the camel fair ? If so please come and say hi, let me know what I should expect, or better still send me a link to your story if you have it shared on the interweb.

I am going to buy a new camera bag for the trip, mine is just not robust enough. I want something practical for a large DSLR body and three lenses, plus a 13inch laptop. It needs to be easy to carry for long periods in hot and dusty conditions and would be my day bag so it must have room for all the bits you would carry on a day out – not just camera things. I would like something that does not scream ‘I have a really expensive camera in me!’ I am open to any recommendations, so hit me with some in the comments.

Thanks Smile