Category Archives: Gigs

Come in Number 51, Your Time is Up! Saucerful of Secrets, Glasgow

Beware performers who say “Are you ready for some rock and roll?”
Thoughts…

The term ‘Curate’s Egg’ was surely invented for events like this? Good in parts, with other areas highly dubious and lumpen in extremis.

At one point, mid gig, during The Nile Song, the singer appropriated a line from Sex Pistol’s ‘Holiday in The Sun’- and at that very same moment John Lydon’s infamous quote “Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?” flashed across my synapses

It must have seemed a wheeze when the notion of this band was hatched and, I dare say, The Dingwalls and Half Moon shows would have been a spectacle to witness and behold. But I don’t think this is really sit down  ‘Arena’ fodder, to be honest. It’s merely an expensive covers band….and they seem nice guys so I hope/guess they’d be the first to agree
The sound was crystal clear throughout, the lights however, somewhat disappointing,  not really a ‘production’ that one might expect from the PF stable. I was surprised at how rough and under rehearsed they were for being so far into a tour (twenty odd gigs?).
More clams than a whelk stall at the Barras…
It started off really well with one of the guitarists smearing the melody of The Embryo over the riff of Interstellar Overdrive and as ever Astronomy Domine never fails to excite. However, I generally found the subsequent post Saucerful tunes a bit hit and miss.

Basically,  I really enjoyed the Syd material – although See Emily Play was dispatched with all the panache of a wedding band sensing the interval approaching and seeing their lagers sitting ready at the bar – but not the later  ‘post Saucerful’ selections.
Obscured By Clouds was executed flawlessly but remains as pointless and meandering as it is on disc.
Ironically,  the eponymous Saucerful of Secrets was performed with almost Ramones like fervour and haste, and as a result suffered from being far too fast and short, Gary Kemp then performed the coup de grâce with a guitar solo that was far more Purple Rain than Pink Floyd.

Elsewhere, the focus group that signed off on the If/Atom Heart Mother medley should be hunted down and chased through the streets. It was an abomination and did a great disservice to the material in question.

So, I’ve ticked that box, won’t be back!

Six out of ten

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Paul Towndrow’s Deepening the River, Glasgow, 11th August 2018 ******


I missed the premier of this, the night before, due to being through at the Fringe to catch Orange Claw Hammer. At the time of writing, Google Search finds me no review of this splendid evening, so to correct that glitch, here’s my tuppence-worth!

All my fears that the evening’s ‘experiment’ might just turn out to be the bastard son of The Grit Orchestra were  completely extinguished, within the first thirty seconds of tonight’s show. Instead, an engaging, evolving one hour long soundscape unfolded before the audience, seated in the salubrious  The Merchants House of Glasgow, slowly transporting those lucky audients away on an exotic sonic travelogue across several continents.
With Paul Towndrow at the helm of his twenty two strong Keywork Orchestra, the sonic palette that the composer had to hand was sampled to the extreme, in a performance that deployed all the usual Scottish big band suspects.
It’s always a great pleasure to relish the Power-Bop of the perma-grinning Konrad Wiszniewski and tonight was no exception.  The Brass and Rhythm sections were well represented, as you might expect in a venture of this size, but Towndrow had also spiced the band up with a variety of long whistles, pipes & fiddles and not forgetting the poppy red Sousaphone of Michael Owers which was featured in a ‘Dixieland‘ section. However the (sp)icing on the cake, for myself, was the tabla and harmonium served up by the extremely difficult to see, sitting cross legged on the floor, Sodhi.
Muscular, punchy and never discordant, if I had to describe this music ever so briefly to someone standing at a bus stop, then it reminded me very much of what a  melange of Mike Gibbs, Don Ellis and Mike Westbrook might sound like…and that’s a good thing!

Towndrow and his cohorts were on ferociously good form tonight, every one a hero, with the bandleader and composer playing as well as I’ve ever seen him.
I’ve given them six stars out of five, the extra one being for stamina (there was no break at all in the proceedings).
Should he/they do it again get yourself along there, pronto.

Only real downside for me tonight was the number of people ‘phone filming’ during the gig, Really? In a venue as intimate as this? Show some respect to the musicians and the rest of the audience!!!

For the record, I took three stills during the bows and applause. The Google fairies stitched them together overnight without me asking.

The Keywork Orchestra were
Trumpet – Sean Gibbs
Trumpet – Tom MacNiven
Trumpet – Tom Walsh
Trumpet – Neil Yates
Trombone – Chris Grieve
Trombone – Phil O’Malley
Trombone – Rick Taylor
Bass Trombone & Sousaphone – Michael Owers
Saxophone – Rachael Cohen (Alto)
Saxophone – Bill Fleming (Baritone)
Saxophone – Helena Kay (Tenor)
Saxophone – Martin Kershaw (Alto + Woodwinds)
Saxophone – Paul Towndrow (Alto)
Saxophone – Konrad Wiszniewski (Tenor)
Bass – Euan Burton
Drums – Alyn Cosker
Piano – Steve Hamilton
Vibraphone – Miro Herak
Whistles+ Pipes – Ross Ainslie
Fiddle – Adam Sutherland
Fiddle – Laura Wilkie
Tabla – Sodhi

 

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!