Enablers with Van Coeur @ The Piper

Friday 02 September 2022 –  St Leonards.

This is only the third UK gig I’ve attended this year and it’s also the third with a direct or indirect relationship with Wrong Speed Records, the label that headline act Enablers released their new album ‘Some Gift on. The record came out today, which provided little time to cement any tracks in my head before the gig started. Not that this was to be a sing-along show anyway.

I’m gonna take a little bit of credit/responsibility for the gig happening at The Piper. The label did a call-out on Twitter for a venue in the south of England who would be up for show on the Enablers UK and Europe tour, and I suggested St Leonards. Somehow it happened, and I was very happy with that. The more tours that come through St Leonards the better, though of course small town SE England isn’t an overly attractive place to tour. Hasting/St Leonards may not be small geographically, but it’s small in other ways…

Arriving at The Piper at 8:30 (doors at 8:00) I wasn’t surprised to find the upstairs venue still closed. There a few people gathered in the bar below, and most of those were just Friday night drinkers, though there was the odd bloke (mostly blokes) on their own who looked like gig attendees. I think I was the only person in attendance in a band t-shirt (NZ band Die! Die! Die!), this is highly unusual behaviour, obscure band t-shirts are almost compulsory at obscure band gigs. Obviously the t-shirt shouldn’t be from the band/s you’re seeing, that would be very uncool indeed. Maybe things have changed? As Eleanor will attest I’ve been trying to wean myself off of obscure band t-shirts as I approach 60; with limited success. I’m wearing one (Southern Death Cult) as I head back to Walthamstow on a Saturday morning train.

A couple of very loud drunk/wasted guys came into the bar so I climbed the stairs to the venue and joined three other people waiting for the support band, Van Couer, to take the stage. It was a bit of a wait, I assume they were waiting for more people to arrive. Just before the band took to the low stage the two drunk/wasted loud blokes arrived in the room and looked around for somewhere to sit. Finding nothing they liked they dragged a small bench into the middle of the venue and plonked themselves down right in front. I’ve never seen anyone do that before, I quietly admired their confidence.

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Van Coeur are a three piece from Brighton; comprised of two guitarists and a drummer; all contributing to the vocals, their music is a very slow almost folky post-rock; think Slint, mixed with Low and Haress and slow it down some more. They reminded me a bit of Deathcrash, who we saw in a church in Islington last year. They are a very quiet group; as they played their opening track (You have the benefit of all my doubts) I heard the fizz of an illicit can of lager being cracked open by someone sat further along the bench I was on.

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I hadn’t heard of them prior to the gig being announced and only started listening to them yesterday. I really like them, and am listening to them on the train as I write. I don’t know the names of many of the songs they played, one stood out in particular though and I hope to stumble across it again as I listen (I didn’t (sad face emoji) ).

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Enablers are a Texan four piece, and like Van Coeur before them they had no bass player, just two six-string guitars, drums and vocals. I don’t know much of their music; they are touring the UK and Europe to promote the new LP. The audience only got to hear the songs that made up most of their set for the first time just before the show started. I would describe them as a post-punk/post-rock band backing a poet/story teller, the lyrics are mostly spoken rather than sung. They are delivered with passion and style, this isn’t a book reading.

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This was the second show on their current tour and the set was crisp and enthusiastically delivered and I thoroughly enjoyed their set, as did the small appreciative crowd. I think my favourite track was called ‘Willard to Kurtz’, a clear reference to the film ‘Apocalypse Now’. It’s very much my favourite from the record.

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Pete Simonelli is an engaging front man, difficult to photograph as no part of his body was ever still, I took a lot of photos that were plain rubbish. The light was significantly more photographer friendly than it was for Gnod a few weeks back which meant I managed to get a couple of quite crisp images. I moved closer to the centre of the stage and shot these photos between the head and shoulders of the two Van Coeur guitarists.

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it was great show and there are now another couple of LPs to add to my wish list.

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There was a small piece of exciting news this week. New Zealand (I think, though he lives in Canada) author, Matthew Goody, has written a book, ‘Needles and Plastic’, documenting the 1981-1988 period of New Zealand music label Flying Nun; their most fertile and influential period. I have more records and CDs on Flying Nun than any other record label. I’ve been waiting for the release announcement for some time as Matt has used some of my photos from the period, which will be the first time any of my photos have appeared in a book. The book comes out in November and I’m quite excited by this.

I never link to products for sale, but will make this a rare exception.

In NZ the book can be ordered from here 

and from here for the US and UK/Europe.

Hey Colossus with Kulk @ Studio 9294

Friday 24 June 2022 – Hey Colossus with Kulk @ Studio 9294, Hackney Wick, London.

Hey Colossus have been a favourite band for a few years and I’ve been looking forward to seeing them again since they made a surprise appearance at The Piper in St Leonards way back in November 2019. A gig that turned out to be almost the last I attended pre-lockdown. This London show was originally scheduled as an album release party in 2020, was then postponed to 2021 and then further postponed to now. Life was not normal for most of 2020 and 2021 so it was an eager and expectant crowd that turned up to Studio 9294 in Hackney Wick to see them.

Noise/sludge/doom duo Kulk, I’m not entirely sure how to describe them, were the support act. They were OK, I mostly enjoyed their set, but they weren’t really my cup of tea, a bit too metal for my tastes. 

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Taking photos in the available light was a struggle, the band were mostly in darkness with very strong strip lighting behind them. I took a few photos with some difficulty and then gave up,  these are the best of an average to poor bunch.

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After some last minute monitor cable faffing Hey Colossus were welcomed to the stage by a loud and robust cheer from the audience. As a six piece they managed to survive reasonably intact over the pandemic period with only the drummer and one of the guitarists changing since I last saw them. They have been recording and performing for 16 years and lines-up changes are quite normal for them, the replacement guitarist has been a band member before. The main thing was they survived the pandemic, managed to rehearse even though they live all over the place, and it seems they have written some new songs as well.

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Their 13th LP, a double, “Dances/Curses” came out in November 2020 to critical acclaim and a number of represses, and was released on bass player, Joe’s new label Wrong Speed Records . I have two copies, not for any weird ‘playing one and keeping one mint’ reason, but because one got lost in the post for two months so I ordered another. They’re a small band, albeit with lots of members, and I didn’t want to the Royal Mail’s balls-up to be at their cost. I could afford it, though obviously I didn’t expect the first copy to turn up, which it did about two days after the second copy. Oh well. Wrong Speed have released quite a few recordings during and since lockdown, all have been by obscure artists, across a variety of genres and most have been excellent. I have a few…

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The ten song set was, as you would expect, mostly made up of tracks from the new record, though they played a couple off the previous LP ‘Four Bibles’ which I appreciated as it is a great collection of songs. There was also a new song in the set, which seems to have been called B & G, possibly describing a two chord main riff, who knows?

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The set closed with the 16 minutes track Trembling Rose from the new LP, a favourite of mine and by the enthusiastic reception from the crowd, it was a favourite of most others as well.

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We really enjoyed the gig. Though like the Gnod gig I went to in May it was quite loud and a bit muddy it was difficult to hear individual instruments where we were standing. Ear plugs would have been good so I’ve ordered some for future gigs. My ears are getting old.

It was fab just getting out of the house of evening and doing something, and Hackney Wick isn’t a bad place to do it.

‘Swell Maps’ @ Rough Trade East, London

Thursday 24 March 2022 – Shoreditch, London.

I’ve no idea when I first heard Swell Maps, given I didn’t start listening to punk until late 1978 and my exposure to new music as a mid-teen in Auckland with no older siblings was limited. I expect I didn’t hear them until after they broke up in 1980. I know I had their first single from 1977 ‘Read about Seymour’ on a cassette one of my workmates made me in 1981. I guess that was possibly the first time for me. It is a great song, as were the other singles.

They are an odd band, originating in Solihull in the English midlands the various members muddled around experimenting with music and sound in various duos and trios from the early 70s but didn’t form as Swell Maps until the punk explosion. Their early singles were short sharp bursts of jagged guitar driven punk, ‘Read about Seymour’ is only 1 minute 27 long. Resolutely DIY, they used cheap instruments in cheap studios and it shows in their early recordings, they all sound fabulous. I love that lo-fi over driven sound.

They released two LPs; the first in 1979 ‘A trip to Marineville’ and the more well known ‘Jane from Occupied Europe’ in 1980. Both were on the fledgling label Rough Trade. The band split soon after ‘Jane’ came out and most of the members went onto other musical projects, none were what you would call commercially successful. Both their LPs are more post-punk than what most would consider punk, with longer songs (Gunboats was over eight minutes), some instrumentals and lots of weird instrumentation and found sounds. Those records still sound good today.

They were not a band I followed, perhaps because they split before I started buying music. However, I suspect it’s more likely that by the time I first heard them their music had moved on from three chord DIY punk to something more challenging and interesting and I hadn’t moved on at all. I have been listening to them more over the last few years though and was interested enough to order bassist/guitarist/vocalist Jowe Head’s book about the band when it was released earlier in the year. A copy is waiting for me in my favourite bookshop, Printed Matter in Hastings, when I get back to St Leonards next month

As was normal in the early punk days most of the band members had made up names, Jowe Head, Epic Soundtracks, Nikki Sudden, Biggles Books, Phones Sportsman and Golden Cockrill. Sadly Nikki Sudden and Epic are no longer with us, both passing too young. After Swell Maps split Jowe Head was in an early line up of the Television Personalities.

I only saw that this interview with Jowe Head was on tonight at Rough Trade on Tuesday. As it was free and early in the evening and the weather was going to be nice I decided to get a ticket and make the walk to Rough Trade in Shoreditch after I finished work in Westminster. I need the exercise and the walk took an hour which was perfect, I’d earned my pint. I didn’t realise that after the interview and Q and A with Jowe there was going to be a live performance of Swell Maps songs by Jowe and friends. This was a massive bonus, and I was glad I had lumped the camera around with me. 

The band tonight comprised of – Jowe Head, guitar and vocals,
Dave Callahan of The Wolfhounds and Moonshake, guitar and vocals,
Luke Haines of The Auteurs, guitar and vocals,
Lucie Rejchrtová of Instant Flight, keyboards,
Jeff Bloom of Television Personalities, drums
Lee McFadden of Alternative TV, bass and vocals.

The band was joined for the songs ‘Harmony’ and ‘Cake Shop’ by Gina Birch from another seminal band, The Raincoats.

It was a lot of fun, the band were great, a little chaotic at times, the mix was really good, and it was a joy listening to songs I never ever expected to hear live.  Midget Submarines was probably my favourite song of the night, though Seymour and International Rescue were brilliant. The set ended with a five minute or so jam of what was apparently a Can track. Kinda the perfect way to end a set really.

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Dave Callahan, Jowe, Luke Haines. Lee McFadden

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Dave Callaghan singing ‘Let’s Build a car’ with Lucie Rejchrtová in the background. I wasn’t able to get a decent photo of Lucie from where I was standing. 

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Gina Birch.

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Lee McFadden and half of drummer Jeff Bloom.

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Luke Haines summing it up (he is a great performer)

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At one point when I was taking photos I realised I’d moved just out of sight of my back pack which contained work laptop, I could feel the person behind me getting closer to me, so I stepped back a bit and turned round and it was Thurston Moore, I realised my bag was going to be fine.

I’m really glad I went, it was a fun atmosphere, with what I’m guessing were loads of friends of the band giving them loads of love.

Three Songs, No Flash. The Beths @ Whammy Bar

Wednesday 12 January 2022 – Auckland

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Before I start here is a quick note for anyone who landed here from a Google search while looking for information on The Beths Whammy Bar series. I couldn’t find the stage times elsewhere. This was from the Wednesday night performance so may not reflect the following nights.

  • Other than Friday 14 Jan, all five Auckland shows are sold out.
  • Doors at 7:00, the support band, Lips were on stage at 8:00 and The Beths on soon after 9:00.
  • A vaccine pass was required; most of the punters were wearing masks (yahoo).
  • Whammy has been proactive and installed some much needed, and very efficient, air-conditioning. The staff were great too.
  • Capacity has been reduced from 210 to 170 which made a massive difference to space.

The most important thing you’ll want to know; was the Wednesday gig any good? Hell yes, of course!

After the obligatory ‘Hi, we’re The Beths from Auckland New Zealand’, the band started with the fabulous oldie ‘Happy Unhappy’ with its poptastic ‘oh-uh’ opening, before launching into a set that seemed to have more tracks from the first LP than the second. All the ‘hits’ were there as you would expect so I doubt anyone will leave disappointed their favourite song wasn’t played. They introduced three new songs, unusually closing the encore with one of them, the very un-Beths like rager ‘Silence is Golden’, a track I’m looking forward to hearing on record.

If you have not heard The Beths and you like indie pop with great musicianship and witty songs with the best vocal harmonies New Zealand has produced since The Muttonbirds, then you definitely need to check them out. Then go buy some records. They are a great band, seem like lovely people and deserve to be huge, though not stadium huge as I hate stadium gigs. The Beths are doing a good old fashioned five night residency at the freshly post-lockdown re-opened Whammy Bar on Auckland’s K’ Rd.

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My favourites ‘Future me Hates me’, ‘Uptown Girl’ and ‘I’m not getting excited’ were played at pace and were fabulous, as was ‘Jump rope gazers’. With so many people masked up the crowd singing along was slightly muted too, an unexpected bonus!

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Australian artist Stella Donnelly was supposed to play the support slot but was unable to attend due to the travel restrictions. The Beths played one of her songs ‘Tricks’ in tribute, I thought that was the weakest song of the set.

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We saw a great The Beths set at Heaven in London in August 2019, along with 1100 other people, though this much more intimate venue really suits their personalities. The on stage and audience banter worked so much better here and at times it felt like it was a sing-along with mates rather than a public show. With fewer people than normal Whammy Bar was the best it has been, the sound was excellent, particularly at the back and the lighting was not too terrible for photography, though I still had to convert to mono as the colour cast was pretty bad 🙂

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I stayed at the front taking photos for the first three songs before heading to the raised area at the back to stand with Eleanor to enjoy the rest of the show.

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I have not heard support band, Lips, before. I thought they were OK, they had some good songs, the first couple and the last were the standouts for me.

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While Covid rates are (thankfully) incredibly low in New Zealand we all know how virulent the omicron variant is and we won’t know it’s in the community until it’s in the community. Getting Covid right now, just before we head off on holiday, and then back to London would be just so ironic. With that in mind I (we?) was a little tentative in the hours before the gig; this was only the second show we’ve gone to since Feb 2020 when we saw Penelope Isles in St Leonards. The last gig we went to was Deathcrash in July 2021 and it was a fully seated, socially distant event held in a Hackney church. The lack of shows was not through lack of desire; there were none in the UK before we left for New Zealand, and when we arrived in Auckland we went straight into lockdown. Gigs have just started again and we were so glad we got to go this one before we leave. It was originally scheduled for September and had been postponed twice before.

For a return to standing gigs we couldn’t have picked a better one. It was a fun show; great band, good sound, busy but not packed venue, and most importantly smiles round (as far as I could tell as the majority of the audience were wearing masks).

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Hey Colossus Supported by Mullholland @ The Piper, St Leonards.

06 November 2019 – Hey Colossus with Mullholland @ The Piper

Hey Colossus are a bit of an odd beast; a sort of noise/droney/experimental/metal with a bit of pop, band. They are impossible to accurately describe, and each album is a little different to the previous. They are resolutely low-key. I had not heard of them in NZ, yet they have been around since the early noughties, releasing records and touring. They released a new LP, ‘Four Bibles’ in May, and it sits very high up on my album of the year list. I was pleasantly surprised that they were playing a gig in St Leonards, and for a paltry £5.50. OK it was a Wednesday, but now I have discovered I can work from a Hastings office a Wednesday is not as tricky as it could be.

After a busy day at work in London I had a fairly stressful drive down to the flat. It was as busy as you would expect for rush hour. I am not a big fan of driving in the dark, off the main highways the roads are crap and I don’t drive often enough now to be totally comfortable on the road. I am becoming one of those slow and overly cautious drivers I hated being stuck behind when I was in NZ. I am seeing the other side now.

Arriving at the flat not long before the gig started, I dumped the load of stuff I brought down, and headed to the pub almost immediately. Rushing  didn’t help the stress levels. I really like The Piper, it is a new pub, having opened since I have been in St Leonards. They have bands, most of which I like, the music in the pub is often really good, and they have a really good house red at a decent price. [*note; 3 weeks later, the good house red at a decent price seems to have ended.]

Hey Colossus were supported by Mullholland, a young instrumental duo from the Channel Islands, now living in Brighton, I am guessing there is not much of a music scene on Jersey. I thought they were brilliant, they have released a couple of albums, which I had listened to at work, but they were very much a live band. I took a few photos, and am looking forward to hearing the next, pending, record.

Hey Colossus are a six piece guitar, bass and drum band. A bit too big for the stage at The Piper, and too big for the 20mm lens on the GX800 (basically a 50mm lens on a normal camera). I could not fit all of them in a single shot. This is the first gig on a European tour, they are from London and the south west, so I guess this was on the way to the ferry to France. There had been no sound check, it was at times a total wall of noise, at others the sound was crisp and clean. Either way it was pretty damn good. The vocalist was standing directly under that hideous purple spot light, so I was forced to convert these to black and white.

When they hit the stage I am fairly sure they was more band members than audience, something I was pretty upset about, though it did fill out a little once the the music started. I know this is small town coastal England, Brexit country, small ‘c’ conservative, and yes Hey Colossus are never going to be Ed fucking Sheeran, but they deserved a much bigger crowd than this. They are innovative, noisy, talented, though to be fair I doubt they gave a shit. Small audiences are what they are used to I guess.

I was mesmerised by the vocalist, he does not look like his voice. Maybe it was the ‘tache.

I loved them. My ears less so, they were still humming well after I got to work on Thursday.

I posted  couple of photos on Instagram on Thursday night and Mullholland asked if they could use them, which was very nice. My photos on their Instagram feed get more likes than any photos on my feed!

Night Beats, supported by Strange Cages @ The Piper

September 03 2019 – St Leonards-on-Sea.

St Leonards is constantly changing, gentrifying, and in my mind improving. I know not everyone agrees that the gentrification of this, or any other area, is a good thing; but hey, I am a property owner and anything that increases the value of my investment is a good thing! I am a middle aged, middle class man who likes, and can mostly afford good coffee, nice wine, good beer and music. Therefore I am very supportive of the addition of places that provide those things to St Leonards, even if the price of a pint is a lot more expensive than others.

Since I have moved into my flat the only closed pub in the St Leonards has been renovated, reopened, renamed as The Piper and rebranded itself as a live music bar and venue. It is very much my kind of place.

I popped in their for a quiet pint last time I was down and ended up staying there for five drinks, it was the sort of place where I felt comfortable sitting alone with my laptop and writing. In that case one of the many blog posts I managed to write that week. They were also playing some of the best music I have heard in a pub – almost as if they had been referring to my Spotify playlists. I have been back since, but not staying that long again.

They started having bands play a few weeks ago, a couple of really good acts have played there, including Toy, one of my current favourites, so definitely a place to be excited about. Tonight they hosted Night Beats, an American psychedelic/garage rock three piece. Though this is my sort of music I had not heard of them before, so this was a very good reason to head to a new favourite ‘local’ and go see a band, or two.

Last week I bought myself a new camera, something to be covered in the next post, so I it along tonight. It is pretty low end, but I was hoping that as it is new technology it would have better low-light capabilities than my other cameras. I was pleasantly surprised.

I got to the venue about an hour after doors opening and was a bit gutted as to the very small number of people there, however by the time the support band, Strange Cages, came on the crowd had expanded enough for there to be a good atmosphere.

Strange Cages are from Brighton, I had checked out a couple of tracks on Youtube and didn’t like them, but will always check out a live band. They were much better than their Youtube clips gave them credit for, and subsequent listening on Spotify proved their youtube presence is bad. Their last track was a long jam, reminding me a lot of early Pink Floyd, but the synth was a bit too twiddly for me. They did however, have the best drummer I have seen in ages, extremely aggressive and very talented. Worth going to see them for him alone. Though naturally I have no photos of him, mainly the front man. As always

Strange Cages.

Night Beats are just starting a European tour, so I guess this is a bit of a warm up show for them, small venue in a small town. The place was full one they got on the low stage, though I had not left the room between sets so was close enough to take photos before the crowd made its way in front of me.

The lighting was terrible, as is always the case in small venues. Why do they insist on those awful red or blue lights?

I had fun, they are a good band, live they were a bit more 60s garage rock than full on psychedelic rock. A good night out.

Night Beats.

Wax Chattels @ Lock Tavern

Tuesday 26 June 2018 – Wax Chattels @ Camden Lock.

I am a massive fan of Auckland, by way of Dunedin, band Die! Die! Die!. I believe they are the band I have seen the most often over the 38 years I have been going to gigs. It is fortunate that they come to London pretty regularly. I have seen them three times since I have been here, only missing their last gig here as I was too sick to go.

Wax Chattels are a young Auckland band, also a three piece and clearly influenced by Die! Die! DieI, though with one massive difference; Wax Chattels have keyboards rather guitar as the lead instrument. They have been described as a “guitarless guitar band”, an apt, and frankly brilliant description for them.

Wax Chattels released an LP a few weeks ago and have come to London for a couple of release shows. The first was on Saturday night, however El and I were already at a gig, seeing the mighty My Bloody Valentine, a band I have always wanted to see, but have never had the chance to before. This was My Bloody Valentine’s first UK show in over five years, so I wasn’t going to miss that.

Fortunately there was a second gig, on a Tuesday night in Camden. It is not my favourite night to go out, but at least Camden is not a major pain to get too, and it would be a reasonably early one. Plus, it was free.

This was my third gig in six days, definitely a record for me.

I got to the Lock Tavern in Camden pretty early, far too early in fact and had to wait for most of an hour for the support band, Careers, to come on. They were Ok, a bit derivative, a bit London indie pop. Un-offensive but not spectacular, there were a couple of good tracks and I was entertained enough. The light was really poor, and the stage was between two doors to an open balcony holding a private party and the daylight just streamed in. None of my photos were any good sadly.

There was a thirty minute wait for Wax Chattels to get their gear ready and come on stage, it was still pretty light outside, but the light was slightly better. I wasn’t really banking on a full room, so didn’t get myself a spot for taking photos until it was too late. I grabbed a few shots from one side of the stage before moving to the other. I took the big camera and the 50mm lens, but even shooting wide open it was still a bit too dark for the low top-end ISO this old beast of a camera has.

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They were really good, great songs, and good performances, nice to see from a young band playing a free gig to a small, albeit full room. Highlights for me were Concrete, Shrinkage (the best Die Die Die song not written by Die Die Die) and In my mouth, a song I do not particularly like on the LP. It made more sense live.

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This is my favourite image from the night.

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I really enjoyed the show, and did buy the LP from the merch stand. Hopefully they will be back in London soon. I would definitely pay money to see them again. This is my favourite image from the night.

A Place To Bury Strangers @ The Garage.

Thursday 10 May 2018 – A Place to Bury Strangers @ The Garage, Islington.

A Place To Bury Strangers (APTBS) are a three piece band from New York, with an expat New Zealander, Dion, playing bass. They are one of my favourite bands and are touring their new LP ‘Pinned’. This will be the third time I have seen them, though I only seem to have one blog post; six years ago from a gig in Brighton, just before my fiftieth birthday.

I have not been to The Garage in Islington before, but really liked it. Similar to the Dome in Tuffnell Park, it is a decent sized venue, with a big bar and good beer on tap and in the fridge. Venues must be learning that good beer sells. I will definitely come to gigs here in the future, being right outside the tube station on my home line also helps a lot.

We arrived at the venue just as the support act, American duo Buck Gooter took the stage. I had not heard them or even heard of them prior to this morning. I tried a couple of songs on the internet at work and was not overly excited, or particularly impressed. Their first track was very typical of what I had listened to, and I was not looking forward to an entire set of it. However…. They did have two distinctive styles one quite yelly, techno industrial sort of thing with the singer going mental on stage, which was mildly entertaining for while. The guitar player had a much mellower voice and I preferred the songs he sang. It was OK in the end and I mostly enjoyed it.

APTBS hit the stage on time and into a mass of strobes, smoke and noise. The first track ‘We’ve come so far’ was a sonic blast. Playing up for the gig photographer every move in the guitarists inventory was pulled with Oliver Ackermann smashing his guitar at the close of the song. Brilliant 🙂 What an opening!

I stayed up the front for the first four songs, they are an impossible band to shoot with a pocket camera, light, movement and smoke, and very dark. Hectic. There was so much back lighting and smoke that even from the front left of the stage I could not see the drummer, and barely grabbed a couple of fading shots of the bass player.

Mid-way through the set the band descended into the crowd, by this time I was right at the back on a low set of stairs with El. About two thirds of the way in to the crowd they set up instruments and played two songs surrounded by fans, concluding with Dion the bass player, crowd surfing while continuing to play. We could not see any of it, though I was expecting this at the end of the set, so was unprepared.

The previous times I have seen them they have concluded with a storming version of my favourite song ‘I’ve lived my life to stand in the shadow of your heart’. I was pretty disappointed by it tonight, it was not too long, and didn’t go into the manic feedback, droney finale it is known for. It was disappointing to think that was the end of the show. However, there played two more songs, ending on a brilliant long, feedback, droney, mad version of another older track ‘Ocean’.

They were fantastic again, though I am glad I took earplugs!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYtZ__l8j_Q

Graeme Jefferries @ The Wine Cellar

Friday 27 April 2018. Wine Cellar, K’ Rd, Auckland, New Zealand.

I bought the first two Nocturnal Projections (NP) singles when they were first released back in 1982. Both were stolen when the flat I lived in in Green Bay was cleaned out by burglars early in 1983. My small collection at the time was a pretty good representation of the Auckland punk and early post-punk scene and the bands I used to see. Like most independent music in New Zealand not many copies of these records were pressed and I have not been able to find, or afford to buy them if I could find them since. I bought their third EP, released in 1983, and still have and play that now. They were heavily influenced by Joy Division and early Sioux and the Banshees, and those artists are visible in their songs. My favourite track is ‘Nerve ends in the power lines’ from one of those stolen EPs. Fortunately a German label released a CD of all their available music sometime in the 2000s, it is firmly lodged in the car CD stacker.

Graeme and Peter Jefferies were members and the main songwriters for NP and went on to form This Kind of Punishment (TKP) when NP broke up in 1983. I had not heard TKP before they first performed in Auckland in 84/85. I saw them at a gig at the Gluepot Hotel on a bill with three other bands I had not seen before. This live version of TKP was a three-piece with Chris Matthews from Auckland band Children’s Hour, another post-punk band, joining the Jefferies on stage. I think it fair to say we were expecting TKP to be loud, dark, and furious. They were not. Dark, yes. Loud and furious, absolutely not. Tracks backed by solo piano or guitar, I do not recall any bass player. They were mesmerising and beautiful, I have never been to a gig that was totally silent before, the audience blown away by the songs and the music. I was an instant fan.

I saw TKP a couple of other times after that. The final time was in 1985, a few days before I went to the UK to live for a couple of years. They were supporting Hunters and Collectors at Auckland Uni. It was the first and only concert I have been to where I, along with most of the audience, sat on the floor of the venue in stunned silence. A brilliant performance again.

TKP split up while I was living in the UK and Graeme started performing under ‘The Cake Kitchen’ with a revolving cast of supporting musicians, releasing a few EPs and LPs over the years. I have a couple of recordings, not being a fan of CDs I pretty much stopped buying music in the late 90s when vinyl almost completely dried up so have a few holes in my collection, which I will seek to rectify as old material gets re-mastered and re-released on vinyl.

Both of the Jefferies brothers built and have maintained a small but passionate following overseas, particularly in Europe and a lot of their material gets released on small independent labels. Dais Records out of the USA have been working with NP and released two records this week; the first is a collection of all their recorded output, and the second a set of live recordings. I have ordered the first of the LPs and it should be waiting for me when I get home. I am very much looking forward to putting it on the record player. The first two TKP LPs have also been re-released recently, though I still have the original, and increasingly more valuable, first pressings.

I would love to be saying that to support the release of these records that NP have reformed for some shows though that has not happened and is not likely to. However, Graeme performed a solo show tonight and I went along. Conveniently I was in Auckland at the right time.

I met my old mate Jeff at an Italian cafe on Auckland’s K’Rd, a strip of nightclubs, bars and venues that has existed since before my time. We had a couple of beers and a very nice meal before heading along to the venue – The Wine Cellar. I have only been here once before, it is small, with decent beer and an excellent sound system. For a small crowd and a solo show it is perfect.

Graeme was supported by i.e.crazy, another solo performer. I am not sure how to describe her music; dark electronica maybe. I mostly enjoyed her short set. I like the Beard of Bees LP sleeve design as the backdrop.

With no bands being involved there was not much equipment to faff about with so it was quite a quick change of artists and Graeme was on stage on time, and nice and early in the evening. Too early as not that many people were in when he started, most choosing to be out in the bar area. As the place filled up I moved my way towards the front and sat down on the floor, mainly to not be the tall dick standing in the front. I was joined by other sitters soon after.

He played for about 45 minutes, using both the guitar and the electric piano, with songs from all three of his previous bands, I am guessing most were from the TKP years, though there were were a couple of songs I did not recognise.

I was really hoping that he would play ‘The Sleepwalker’ my favourite TKP song, however it was written and sung by Chris Matthews on the ‘Beard of Bees’ LP so I was not surprised it wasn’t played. He did play ‘The Cake Kitchen’s ‘Dave the Pimp’ which I thoroughly enjoyed.

On the side of the stage was Graeme’s flying V electric guitar, I was really hoping he would play it, as that would signal to me a Nocturnal Projections track. Sadly it was not to be and the Gibson SG was the only guitar used all night, it still sounded good. He has quite a unique style of guitar playing, and it was interesting watching him play, along with his quite unique voice and some fabulous songs made for a very enjoyable, though sadly brief show.

I thoroughly enjoyed it, and it was over all too early. Thanks Jeff for securing tickets for this sold out show, and thanks for your company, it was really good to see you again.

3 nights, 3 gigs.

Friday 23 March 2018 – London.

Walking out of the Tufnell Park Dome into the cool and drizzly north London night, both ears ringing, I had a big smile on my face after two loud gigs in two nights. Guitar Wolf last night and The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing tonight.  A very much needed blow out after a really busy  and stressful work week. Six performance reviews completed, meetings galore and an inundation of last minute requests had me thinking that three nights out in a row would just be too much to take and I would not last the distance.

We are very fortunate here in Walthamstow to have the e17 Rock and Roll Book Club. Run by Mark, he organises authors to come along and talk about themselves and their books. Most often these authors write about music or are musicians themselves. A couple of weeks ago we had Brett Anderson, the singer from Suede. Tonight (Wednesday) we have Hooky at Mirth, Marvel and Maud. Peter Hook, bass player from Joy Division and New Order. Joy Division being one of my most loved groups of all time, arriving in my life at the same time as the break up with my first girlfriend. Staying with me through both good and bad times ever since. 

Hooky was hugely entertaining. I don’t think he directly answered any of the questions posed, not trying to avoid, just he had way better anecdotes that wandered off in many different directions. Very funny, and very engaging. He also played a couple of quick tunes as part of the show, the longest of the many e17 RnR Book Club events we have been too.

Mirth, Marvel and Maud is a large bar in the foyer/reception area of a reclaimed cinema about a five minute walk from home and a fairly recent addition to a rapidly gentrifying Walthamstow. The Maud theatre, where the Hooky talk was, stands about 120 people maybe and was the venue for Thursday nights much different and much louder affair. A gig by Japanese punk and rollers, Guitar Wolf. This was the first gig I have attended in the venue.

We missed the first band, arriving in time for the second, Los Pepes. Slightly clichéd Ramones style punk rock with a bit of lead guitar thrown in for good measure. I really liked them. I was really impressed with the sound quality and having a gently sloping floor meant those of us at the back had some sort of view. Why are there so many tall people at gigs? I took to the front  for a couple of songs to take a couple of photos. If I had been younger and the circumstances different I would have been tempted to jump up and down a bit.  A shame no one did as the band deserved some sort of reaction.

Sadly the same quality of sound was not there for the headliners. Guitar Wolf have been around for decades, they have been to NZ a few times, though I have never seen them.

They were unlistenably loud; and I love loud, even more I love a wall of noise, but this was just a sludgy overdriven mess and I could hear nothing but a roaring noise. I was really disappointed as they were a bit of fun.

I stayed up the front for a couple of photos and then moved to the back for a bit with El and some friends. Frustrated, and deaf, we left soon after. The light was pretty terrible for photography as well.

Friday I was in Tufnell Park with Steve and Arthur to see The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing (TMTWNBBFN). Steve has seen them a few times, but this was my first experience of a live steam punk band. I was also new to the Dome,which is a great venue and I will go and see a band there again, great bar and selling my favourite beer was a definite bonus.

There were three support acts, the first two were neither here nor there, but I really enjoyed ‘I Destroy’ who were by miles the best of them.

TMTWNBBFN were mostly brilliant, a couple of dud tracks in the middle, but they were a lot of fun, playing a variety of different styles, but not veering too far from a punky/metal sound. Lyrics are where they truly excel, songs about Victoriana, Marie Curie, Jack the Ripper; and the set finale is the classic rock and roll tale of Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Everyone’s favourite civil engineer.  Brilliant!

Three nights out in a row, haven’t done that for a very long time; and I didn’t even have a big lie in the next Saturday! I have tickets to five more gigs, I have never been this well organised in the past. Really looking forward to them all, next up is Graeme Jefferies in Auckland in four weeks.

Rock on 🙂