Tag Archives: Gigs

Mummy, what’s a Funkadelic?, Friday 18th April – ABC, Glasgow

Mummy, what’s a Funkadelic?, Friday 18th April – ABC, Glasgow

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No support and a twenty six strong P-Funkestra featuring Bernie Worrell. That’s what the tickets/posters promised.
We dine early in The Griffin where a surprising number of Parliament teeshirts are already being sported, then repair to the venue

Half an hour late and through an air of expectancy that you could almost taste, they shuffled on. I’ve waited forty years to see this act.
No guitar techs or hard moulded flight-cases for the Funkadelic * guitarists. No, instead it was camouflage jackets, and fatigues, with their instruments in black nylon ‘over-both-shoulders’ back packs. Dreadlocks were de rigeur. A fluorescent orange plastic chair, like that you’d see in many a works canteen, was brought on and placed immediately in front of the drum riser. This would be George’s throne when he wasn’t singing, mopping up the adulation or mugging to the crowd.
Having finally tuned up, a small 8-piece strong group opened with Cosmic Slop and slid seamlessly into Flashlight. They never reached anything near the twenty six we wuz promised. At most I counted fourteen and Bernie’s keyboards sat unused at the front of the stage the whole evening, he failed to show!
Maggotbrain was, as expected, devastating and the guitarist looked absolutely exhausted following its conclusion.Eddie Hazel would be proud!
Later in the set they actually played Testify for, apparently, the first time in twenty five years. Uncle George is now off the fairydust, PCP, crack and whatever else he was ingesting for the last few decades and it certainly shows.He’s loving the show and the adulation.
Gig of the year so far and this was without Worrel. How I’d love to have seen ‘The Mothership’ with Bootsy et al, in its heyday!

My only regret is they didn’t play The Silent Boatman.

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  • In the early eighties I went in to Wee Bloggs (because it was Saturday and I went there at least three times a week) One day (I recall Talking Heads Remain In Light being the new window display however I might be wrong) I asked the assistant if they had any Funkadelic. He sneered, then remarked that he had “never heard of Funky Derek and, as such, ‘he’ couldn’t be any good”. My anger at his rudeness and wanting to pull him over the counter was neutralised by my amusement  that this self-opinionated knob was actually dead serious.
    He went on to manage Wet Wet Wet very shortly after that, quite what that says about the music industry I’m not quite sure……………

An English ‘un, a Belgian, an Irishman and a Scotsman all walk into a bar!

London 8th December 2013

It flowed.
This set flowed quite perfectly.  ‘We are the Magic Band and we’re here to play the music of Captain Beefheart’ announces Drumbo as he declares the evening’s manifesto that has, of late, become the band’s opening mantra. A small jump in the air follows and, as his feet re-connect with the stage, the five of them career off into track twelve from Trout Mask Replica.
My Human Gets Me Blues has been the set opener for the last few years and it sets out the stall, nails their colours to the mast and most importantly delivers the goods, big style!
The way you were dancin’ I knew you’d never come back
You were strainin’ t’ keep yer
Old black cracked patent shoes
In this lifetime you got m’humangetsmeblues

Bliss!

Other bands with a tune as strong as Lo Yo Yo Stuff would hold it back, until near the end of the night, but blimey, look, here it is already pushing its way to the front of the queue, the heavily tremeloed chords cascading from Eric’s Jaguar, tell us that absolutely no prisoners are being considered tonight.

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But woah, slow down there, big fella, and let’s rewind for a moment.The gig in question is in the Borderline in Soho, a small venue if not bijou. Probably, at best, the size of Glasgow’s ‘King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut’, should it ever got the chance to inhale and stick it’s chest out.
This is my fourth Magic Band encounter this year, lucky ol’ me!
We, that is Shields, Lenka, Stanistreet, along with the troubadour Alan Burke, sporting a coat that I’m certain Abraham Van Helsing would be proud to be seen in, arrive with only a few minutes to spare before showtime. There’s no support involved tonight, as the intention is to perform two sets with the usual ‘meet & greet’ at the interval.
It’s absolutely rammed full and it’s a major endeavour to get across the floor to the ‘lengthy but surprisingly not really doing a lot of business’ bar. Having eventually arrived there, we are all immediately separated by a slowly moving herd of docile greybeards.The sound from here is perfect but the sightlines are fairly poor. It’s easier and better to watch on the large TV screens dotted about the place, but not ideal.

A young man then attempts to use Shields as a tripod for his camcording endeavours and is quickly advised, by yours truly, that this is not today’s best idea!

Bo Diddley’s Diddy Wah Diddy has more of a bounce to it, tonight, than recently. I’ll have to source bootlegs, but to me it sounded a fair bit more uptempo than of late.

This is immediately followed by Rockette’s regular bass solo, which in turn makes way for a wonderful Spitball improv duet (with John on sax and new drummer Andy Niven showing he’s got more than enough chops, to hold his end up in this company). That then leads us into a wonderful Golden Birdies, with Eric Klerks replicating Zoot and Art Tripp’s guitar/marimba part(s). At the conclusion, as has become tradition, the crowd to a man shout the Webcor Webcor refrain. I say ‘to a man’ quite deliberately, as this is the most gender skewed MB audience I think I’ve ever encountered. Apart from the women in our coterie, I can only see another three!

Hot Head sees a third guitar being dusted off and brought into action by the singer.This song, rather oddly, always reminds me of DEVO. In my head, an invisible mellotron  blasts away, behind the motorik beat.
It’s almost, what some would call, Krautrock.
When Prog-rock friends play their usual party game and ask what my favourite mellotron tune is, they’re always somewhat crestfallen when I cite Hothead over, let’s say, King Crimson’s Epitaph, along with everything by Yes and The Moody Blues.

Dr Dark is a relatively new addition to the portfolio (not quite sure why, however I imagine EK being the driving force behind it’s inclusion in the latest set) and tonight they play it as a full quintet. On the last tour, Mark used this spot to go for a breather, but tonight’s five piece arrangement allows the Jaguar to ‘double’ or ‘mirror’ some of the bass lines. This is torrid stuff indeed.Not one for the faint of heart!

Circumstances has become the traditional first set closer. Therefore when John starts singing ‘Little girl don’t you know that the stars, up above, are runnin’ on love’, I know it’s time for yours truly to signal to the barman for a quick (and only my second, mind) Guinness, as the interval is looming and a stampede barwards is quite probable. Last time I heard them perform this, in England, I got a mid-song name check. It is with considerable regret, that I report no such luck, tonight!

The interval arrives and it’s a surprisingly long one. The two of us stroll quickly forward, unchallenged, until we are only three folk back from the stage. Close enough to see the whites of their eyes and, I dare say, if you were really determined you could get close enough to smell them. New vantage point secured, the interval seems to go on forever (A small eternity with Yoko Ono!). However this is leavened by realizing we’re stood right next to Christine Barfoot and Jeff Preece from Wales, nearby is Clint Walker and we’re close to Jan Podsiadly (who kindly provided these photographs).
Up until today I’ve only spoken to these lovely people online!

On my way towards the toilets, I bump into Denny, who’s pressing the flesh, and getting his picture taken, with seemingly every woman in the place. I tell him how much I’m enjoying the show so far.
Just wait till you hear the second set
he replies with that marvellous twinkle in his eye.
Eventually, with the merch stall now bereft of goodies (I left it too late to get a teeshirt) the older drummer returns onstage, tinkers for longer than he should with his equipment (it’s Drumbo, it’s what he does!) before sitting down and starting a solo that slowly builds and builds and, yes, builds again. Whether it’s his tap dance training or, more likely, a double beater pedal on the kick drum, he certainly creates what Glaswegians would call ‘a stooshie’ until the three guitarists walk on plug in and deliver an immaculate and surgically precise ‘On Tomorrow
Not a drop of that ‘bromo seltzer’ stuff in sight!

Alice in Blunderland sees Eric step up to the mark. This is one of the only Beefheart tunes, I can think of, where a guitarist is allowed absolutely free rein. Back in the seventies, it must have been quite galling for Zoot to ‘hold the formation’ every night while Elliot was allowed to take a ‘normal solo’.
Playing through an amp combo, so small that I ponder for a while and convince myself that I own bigger shoeboxes, Eric (Winged Eel FingerKlerk) then lets rip and a lot of the lines and phrases deployed from his fretboard are more reminiscent of a horn player than guitarist (go figure!). I always hear a lot of Tom Verlaine when Eric takes this solo and that’s not a complaint!

I’d always considered Suction Prints as the runt of the litter and perhaps an underdeveloped backing track that was used as filler, on Shiny Beast. Tonight, the scales fell from my eyes and the tune finally made sense. Denny’s really on fire and showing off what he can do on slide. He’s firing out chord shapes so flagrantly bright that I become concerned about the welfare of the ends of my my carefully coiffured moustache. Suction Prints? This is a full blown ‘lizard on a window pane’ (see what I did there?)

A tasty Hair Pie is proferred for our consumption, one of my favourites from TMR, and at this point it crosses my mind that, so far, the second set has been entirely instrumental, as well as being entirely mental! With Drumbo remaining behind the traps, young Andy’s probably having a relaxing nap backstage.

Back in March, having travelled down to Preston, I heard them play Owed T’Alex which was for me, the very first time. It was jawdrop time, back then, and nine months later it’s absolutely no different. Mark has his five string going through what he tells me later is ‘a little box that John gave me, I’m not too sure exactly what it does’. The result is a quite ridiculously fat analogue synth sound that really serves the song well and has the crowd swaying slowly back and forth as one.
I am now, more than ever, grinning like an idiot!

Then, with harp and slide guitar both mimicking a train whistle, echoing from the far end of the valley, John and Denny both slowly lead, force and cajole the other three into a Click Click that’s as good as these ears have heard.
It was just one of those magical nights.

Floppy Boot Stomp, Moonlight on Vermont – this band now plays these tunes better than anyone ever did (I’ve both seen and heard Don, I’ve listened to ALL the bootlegs and believe me, this crew is the real deal!) and then its the turn of THE hit that never was, Big Eyed Beans From Venus, the Beefheartian National (or should that be Planetary?) Anthem. I laugh to myself, nowadays, when I think that, the first time I ever heard this, back in the day, on Clear Spot, I thought they’d really sold out, man! At this point in the show, I was now so close to the stage, I could, for the first time ever, see who was playing each wee part. Lovely stuff indeed. All the women around me opened their purses and I let my wallet flop out!

And then suddenly, yet inevitably, its all over and they all quickly scuttle off to the left, waving and grinning at a noisy disbelieving crowd.

A quick breather and they return both to the stage and to the album where it all began, Safe As Milk.
The tune that this humble site takes its title from, is first off the blocks,its Electricity

Anorak alert!

the seemingly unusual and loping cadence of the bass line, tonight, is not actually the SAM album version but comes however from the early demo version, that can be found on the Grow Fins Boxset.

Anorak alert over!

and then its straight into SureNuff ‘N Yes I Do which, towards its end, segues into a double speed coda, quite gospelly in feel. Not too sure why, but Delaney & Bonnie sprang to mind when thinking about how to describe this section to pals.

All together a great evening, terrific performance, lovely company and a fitting conclusion to my gig going in 2013.Thank you to all concerned.

p.s. Those that want to see tonights drummer playing those two rather fine tunes, but forty five years earlier, should look at the video below, which I’ve posted simultanously to this one.

p.p.s. just realised I’d never actually written about the MB before. I must do it again. Whether that’s good news for the readership remains to be seen!

All photos, apart from Denny and my wife, come courtesy of Jan Podsiadly.

 
 
 

Check out how heavy/thick those strings are…..

Two Roadies were approaching, as the amp began to howl!

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What with motorcycle crashes and a period of fairly heavy drinking  (but enough about me, already!) I’ve somehow lost count of the number of times I’ve seen Bob over the past 35 years (it’s somewhere in between that of The Magic Band and Costello who I’ve now seen on 32 different occasions). I was fairly late getting round to see Dylan live, by the time he appeared at Earl’s Court in 1978. Each time since, though, has been in the cavernous Hall 4 of the SECC. Tonight is different though, because it’s in the far more intimate& bijou setting of what’s known locally as The Armadillo. It’s quite wonderful looking, even before anyone’s onstage.Heavy velvet curtains, picture framed mirrors, very sparse and subdued lighting (Bob’s mainly backlit most of the evening, whether this is due to vanity and hiding his wrinkles, I know not. However it crossed my mind. He’s almost as vain as myself!)

I am here, with Rhursach, to see and hear the wee man who I consider to be the greatest songwriter of the 20th Century. This is the second of a three night residency in Glasgow and tonight we are down on the Guest List courtesy of Denny Walley, slide guitar colossus with The Magic Band and Zappa alumni. I know I’m a name dropping bastard, however if you’ve got it, flaunt it! These seats are wonderful. Any closer and we might as well be on Bob’s piano stool!

My friend the Professor suffers from a syndrome whereby, if there is a deranged lunatic anywhere in a bar we visit, he/she will seek out El Prof and, within seconds, impart their gospel of lunacy completely uninvited (“Did you know that I was the very first person in Glasgow to ever drink coffee?” springs to mind as the most recent example). I on the other hand seem to attract strangers who want to demonstrate that they have no sense of rhythm whatsoever. The lights go down and a solo acoustic guitar (Stu Kimball) chimes out in the darkness. The mumsy looking woman on my left must be listening to something else completely different, in her head, as the handclaps and rhythm that she demonstrates at no point coincide or compliment Kimball’s chord work at all. A combination of the band then joining in, as the lights come up, Bob’s onstage arrival and my arched eyebrows pointing in her direction bring her ‘batterie extraordinaire’ to a merciful close

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Looking very much like Charlie Chaplin dressed as Zorro, Bob has nowadays ,for sound arthritic reasons, totally eschewed guitar playing . As a result, when he’s centre stage he hangs on to the mike stand with right hand, however, the left hand is a bit of a loose cannon. He hasn’t learned what to do with it yet. The result is that he occasionally looks like (a) a gunslinger who’s forgot to pack his ’45
(b) a clippie counting out the change for your tram fare in his invisible/imaginary satchel or
(c) on the occasions when playing one handed piano, Dale Winton having just had a slight ‘trouser accident’.

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Charlie Sexton’s guitar playing throughout the evening is absolutely sublime and he never takes his eyes off of Bob, looking for any clues or cues as to where the song’s going to go next. I’d love to hear him let rip  ‘off the leash’, so to speak!

The whole band, actually, are incredible and reconfigure their instrumentation for each tune (Guitars, stand-up and electric bass, fiddle, mandolin, pedal steel, lap steel and even the much loathed banjo were all given a good dusting off). They are all, however fairly anonymous looking chaps and, had they all taken their hats off, and stood next to me, at the interval bar, I would have been none the wiser.

Speaking of which, during the interval while in the toilet, Rhu sees a father with adult son doing lines of coke. When they move into the cubicle next to him, there appears to be some jostling to get in and suddenly there’s the remark ‘You’ve spilled it, I paid good money for that now lick it up!’
Yuck!

Bob meanwhile is Bob and, as such, adored by this strangely reticent crowd.

Much is made these days about his singing. He’s an old man and, in my eyes, going about his business (and with Dylan Hoodies selling for £80 in the foyer, this clearly is a business) with a lot more dignity than say those masters of ‘mutton masquerading as lamb’, The Rolling Stones. The set list leans heavily towards his latest album ’Tempest’ and these songs understandably suit his voice, rather than, say, Mr Tambourine Man which a punter behind me persistently shouts for. The set finishes with Long and Wasted Years and it’s terrific. A shimmering muscular burnished beast. Nothing like the album version. All the Tempest tunes have grown so much, I begin to wonder if he recorded it too early ie before the songs and band had ‘bedded in’.

Tonight’s  encore is Watchtower/Blowing in the Wind and right at the start of the first song, Tony’s bass amp seems to give up the ghost. This results in much onstage head scratching by his roadie while the rest of the band power on regardless. It seems to be fixed for the last chord or two before they slide into Blowin In The Wind.

I’ll be back tomorrow night to hear Bob play All along the Watchtower for the 2,180th time (fact).

Ozric Tentacles at Oran Mor

The Venue at Oran Mor isn’t my favourite gig. It’s always noisy. Whether this is down to the acoustics of the place or the clientele, I’m not sure, but wherever I stand in the place there’s always an unreasonable amount of chatter radiating from the bar area. Tonight’s no different!

Ozric Tentacles have actually been around for thirty years (there’s a clue in that this is the 30th Anniversary Tour).
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Tonight, we, the Prog IV again, are back to full audient strength. We rendezvous with The Professor, WA and Mrs Bed – none of whom are gigging but just ‘meeting up’ to be sociable in The Curlers Rest beforehand and enjoy their considerably overpriced Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (Bill tells me later that the round that he bought was thirty seven quid for seven drinks, ouch!)

At Oran Mor, the music is, as expected, that curious blend of hippy/techno Bristol dance stuff. I was disappointed I hadn’t packed my glo-sticks! Meanwhile a psychedelic, fractal, paisley pattern screensaver was given free reign to scorch our retinas from the large backdrop projector.
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Occasionally, they wore their influences on their sleeves (Gong, Hillage, David Gilmour) but after a while I found every tune melding into the next. This could well have had much more to do with my sobriety, having attended a colleague’s retiral lunch before meeting the rest in The Curlers, rather than the quality of the music!