Category Archives: Gigs

Snarky Puppy, Glasgow ABC, 2nd May 2017

I had only encountered Snarky Puppy on YouTube, prior to this. This gig was a shock for me. These days, at the ABC, I tend to bowl up and discover that (due to the act’s obscurity and/or demographic of the audience) the act that I’m there to see has been demoted to the far smaller hall below the big room. Tonight, not so, it’s mobbed. The crowd is young with lots of women. Most in early thirties, if that!

I get the impression a lot of them are actually musicians (the guy behind me enthusiastically explained the various time signatures to what looks like his Dad and Uncle – they, in turn are more focussed on the price of the drinks for sale. “Four eighty five, for a pint? Ferfucksake!”)

We have no sooner arrived than there’s a loud round of applause. ‘House of Waters’ are playing their first gig outside the US. I greatly enjoyed the young trio but wondered how much of this I could listen to at home before it became too ‘samey’. There’s only so much you can do with bass, drums and hammered dulcimer on heavy FX pedals.

Quite a long changeover followed and then Snarky Puppy  came on stage. A nine piece (Bass, Drums, percussion, two keyboards, guitar and a brass section) The band were changing instruments after, and sometimes during, every tune. Each one of them a maestro.The level of musicianship you would expect to find on latter day Steely Dan material.

I enjoyed about 90% of the show, I guess, with the remainder looming too close to the red area on the musak-ometer for my liking

Being completely instrumental, and me being unaware of their catalogue, I then found myself occasionally mind wandering, and creating dreamscapes to accompany the tunes being performed (both bands annoyingly and repeatedly referred to ‘songs’. I’m sorry but songs require singers and lyrics. What you were playing were ‘tunes’)

This evening’s dreamscapes were…

Miles Davis motor biking around inside The Tyrell Corporation avoiding acrobatic replicant assassins while trying to score his next fix.

An aerial ‘drone shot’ of a vast lake of flamingos all taking to the wing simultaneously.

George Clinton dressed as a clown riding into Dodge City on a small pony, wandering into Sophie’s Saloon and drinking sasparilla.

Frank Cannon turning his bathroom upside down looking for his lost shaving brush in nain (that was the muzak)

Wonderful. Go see ’em!

OCH Aye, the new! Dukes Bar, 27th January 2017

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David Attenborough should consider it as an adjunct to his Evolution series.
It would certainly appear, to me, that as one band  stops playing Captain Beefheart music, Mother Nature detects the void and another immediately blossoms and moves in, to fill that breach.

In this case, the breach fillers are Orange Claw Hammer, their name truncated to the rather apt, for Scots folk anyway,  OCH, and they’re from the Eastern seaboard of Scotland – but, hey, no one’s perfect!

I’ve seen them a few times before, but never in my home town of Glasgow and tonight they’re in Dukes Bar located in that trendy perineum between Byres Road and the Finnieston main drag, otherwise known as Stobhill.

The material that they play comes from throughout the Beefheart catalogue, but with the lions’ share emanating from Trout Mask Replica, Spotlight Kid and Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller) in fairly equal measures.

Dukes Bar is the size of a phone box that should consider going on a diet, while the magnitude of the crowd, that turned up ,would shame no Scottish Junior League ground, on a Saturday afternoon. The bar has two doors on different walls and I’m fairly sure that, like some Marx Brothers movie, as people pushed in one, some poor folk were getting squeezed out of the other, onto the pavement.
The experience was on the hairy side of uncomfortable and I’m actually glad that the pals that I wanted to be there couldn’t manage along.

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From them opening with Dropout Boogie, through to the encore of Golden Birdies/Ice Rose they were an absolute joy to behold. Steve Kettley plays the saxophone. Sometimes, when the notion takes him, he even plays two – these go simultaneously through octave, delay and wah-wah pedals (channeling his inner David Jackson, I suspect) and on the relentless and mighty Bat Chain Puller he goes one further and deploys a Hohner Melodica . Guitarist, Stuart Allardyce plays like a man possessed all night and enjoys his own showcase in Flavour Bud Living. Dave Beard, meanwhile, not only plays but wrestles  a muscular Rickenbacker into submission – all of these shenanigans under the watchful eye of Des Travis juggling those infectious rhythms on drums.

It’s seldom that your author gets a name check from the stage. However, lo and behold, Steve, the second best dressed man in the room, mentions me, during the introduction to a new part of their repertoire – as I’d only gone and (t)asked them, the last time I saw them, to “go learn Suction Prints”.
This modest reference seemed to impress the barmaid, no end, and I was then afforded great preferential attention every time I approached the bar, thereafter.

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By my reckoning (but I’m no expert) Orange Claw Hammer tackled four tunes that the Magic Band have never played and the mid-tune grins on their faces as they negotiate the various musical stops, starts, roundabouts, chicanes & hairpin bends of ‘When Big Joan Sets Up’ told this audient that they were enjoying it every bit as much as I was.
The extended soundscape intro to Click Clack is currently my personal highlight of a set that changes and improves every time I hear them.

Simply put (and if they’re stuck for a quote)
“Orange Claw Hammer
play Beefheart music reverentially, which is the way it should be, but with a big twinkle in their eyes and a swagger in their step!

Normally I’d provide the set-list but I’ll leave it as a surprise for you.
Still thinking about going to see them? OCH go on, you know you really should!

If you haven’t already, go buy their album here:
https://orangeclawhammer.bandcamp.com/album/cooks-the-beef

or at their next  gig!

Watch That Man!

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First ticket I had, to see him, was way back in Feb 1972. 
‘Hunky Dory’ (not really a success until Ziggy dropped the bomb) was only, at that point, six weeks old and some bright spark of a Council jobsworth, at the pretty little Glasgow City Hall, wouldn’t allow one of David’s props, a Victorian cast-iron bath, on to ‘his’ stage (you couldn’t really make this up, could you?).
As a result, a Mexican standoff then ensued between roadcrew and jumped up janitors, while we few punters (it wasn’t a sell out) queued up outside, tickets grasped in sweaty hands. Quickly the concert was scratched and we, Jinx and I, headed home wondering what we’d missed. As the Ziggy  Stardust and Hunky  Dory albums were both recorded more or less at the same time, it transpires, that on that tour, they were actually playing some Stardust songs six months, or so, before that particular album would see the light of day.
Wish I still had that ticket!
The council cretin was most probably the very same person who, during a concert by the Welsh band ‘Man’, put up the  house lights mid-song and demanded everyone get back in their seats or the show would immediately be cancelled.
By the time DB came back to Glasgow, he had become the fully formed creature we now know as Ziggy .
So my next ticket actually got me into a box, or a ‘Divan’, in Green’s Playhouse. This was just a mere month after seeing some other band, called Led Zeppelin, from the very same seat. 

Saw yet another show in the Playhouse (it hadn’t yet changed its name to The Apollo) later that summer when they were doing Aladdin Sane album with Mike Garson on piano. This was immense.

Beefheart, Crimson, Yes, The Faces and The Rolling Stones. I was sitting calmly, and unknowingly, in the eye of the hurricane that we now know was The Golden Age of Rock and Roll but didn’t actually realise it at the time, thinking that it was always going to be this good.

And then ten years later in 1983 I attended the Serious Moonlight Tour at Murrayfield – a show so average I didn’t attend another stadium show, of any sort, for twenty odd years.
Caught the news, as it broke this morning, and was quite surprised how moved and indeed choked I felt.

Actually I caught the news on Radio 6, as it was just breaking, and where I mistakenly assumed it was merely a career review, in light of the new album release, and thought to myself it was quite wrong that they were referring to him in the past tense
“ That’s bad editing, anyone tuning in just now would think he’d died”. 
Ninety seconds, or so, later the big penny dropped.

Post-script had seen this 2012 video before………..

Under The Bridge!

Reflections on last Friday, .
Had a long liquid lunch with old friend, stand-up comedian, Johnny Glasgow, meeting up after a five hour train journey Scotland/Chelsea.
Discovered I was booked into the same hotel as the band.
Pre-gig fish and chips.
‘Access All Areas’ wrist band, waiting at Under The Bridge front door, courtesy of Drumbo.
To the obvious consternation of his bodyguards, I compliment a passing Russian oligarch, Roman Abramovich, on the hi-tech set up installed in this, his, nightclub.
Get asked by a complete stranger “Are you really Rupert Cocking?”
Watch two blistering sets from The Magic Band and feel quite ’emotional’ at the ensuing slideshow.
Drink some of the band’s dressing room beer.


Blether to actor Paul Bradley, from Holby City, about how good a gig it was and compliment him on his own impressive performance answering questions, about Beefheart, on Celebrity Mastermind.

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Enjoy an all too short blether with lensmaster Jan Podsiadly.
Meet ‘Singing Through You’ DVD filmmaker Elaine Shepherd.
Get a ‘team photo’ with the band, me and yon man with the seemingly infinite stamina and bottomless wallet, Clint Walker.

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Back to my hotel room and a patiently waiting bag full of ‘Fallen Chew Chew’ – Salted Caramel Milk Stout (6%), that I was unable to take into the dressing room.
All of the above happening, as the song goes, “with m’baby by m’side”.

Then to sleep……….

Y’know to be perfectly honest, I’ve had a lot worse days.
Thanks to all involved!

He was good but not as good as me!