Tag Archives: The Arches

battles, The Arches, 7th June, Acts 31 & 32

After a quick meet with Spanner, in McSorley’s, we repair to The Arches and encounter the support band from Baltimore ’Thank You’ billed as experimental. As someone who views the Freak Zone as easy listening, I consider myself an aficionado of experimental music and these guys are just unimpressive balloons.

A huge area of the bar is corralled off, with bouncers asking for ID before the younger punters can approach the counter. Spanner and I are not troubled with this interrogation!

Battles have recently been reduced to a trio and with this in mind plus the efforts of the inauspicious support act, I was now apprehensive to say the least. This didn’t last long at all. A far more muscular sound than on record and with a bottom end that Wobble would be proud of. All of that and what appeared to be the world’s tallest cymbal!

A seamless, no stopping, forty five minutes with guest singers appearing on large screens at either side of the stage.


Jack Bruce, The Arches, 5th March,Act 24

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Surprisingly, this wasn’t a sell out. There was certainly a lot less people here than there was last week when we came to see Goblin. Tonight I’m joined by Shields, Rhurshach, Billy Bonesl, The Difficult to Contact Accountant and The Young Hotelier.

The Ronnie Scott’s Blues Experience opened up the festivities and I assumed that they would play a couple of tunes before shepherding Jack stagewards.

Flawless, but workmanlike, they overstayed their welcome somewhat (although their version of Junco Partner was indeed quite sublime). At this point, the sound was a little ‘bass heavy’ and I put this down to ‘Mr. Soundguy’ having left Jack’s particular slider settings ‘up’ on the board.

Eventually, it was time to put our hands together and on he came. A driving bass line and a punchy three strong horn section had the hairs on my neck looking at each other to see if they should stand up or not. “Fuck me,” thinks I, “he’s playing Never Tell Your Mother She’s Out of Tune”. In all the years I’ve been going to see JB, he’s never done this. Mind racing, I immediately fantasise that he’s going to do the whole of Songs For  A Tailor and, for thirty seconds or so, slowly begin to levitate, to the amazement of those standing nearby. The opening vocal line ‘When I hear that big black whistle they blow!’ comes squeezing out of the PA and suddenly Designated Driver, Bill and I all look at each other – the sound’s really bad. Can’t put my finger on it but somethings quite awry.
The moment’s gone, neck hairs stand down and my adrenaline level reverts to normal. I go for a beer quite crestfallen, on returning I find the sounds getting better but it’s still selling him short. Quick sprint to/back from the toilets and by the time the third song’s begun it’s getting closer to what it should have been all along. Material wise there were no surprises, but no complaints either, We’re Going Wrong, Spoonful, White Room all the usual suspects.

Tony Remy is a fine guitarist and his mammy must be proud of him but I couldn’t engage at all with what he was doing. I was reminded of another earlier JB gig at The Fruitmarket. Vernon Reid was all technique over feeling. Soulless!!!

The last song and a half, Jack developed an amplifier fault which resulted in a roadie crouched next to the amplifier in question doing something far too technical to discern from our vantage point. Again, it takes me back to the last time I saw him at The Academy and Robin Trower’s amp suddenly went on fire. Change your equipment supplier, Jack!

During the show, I noticed Jack’s ears begin to grow, I thought I was imagining it but realised he was slowly inflating them via a small footpump, on stage. By the end of the gig it was a surreal sight. Roadie couched on stage and Dumbo playing Cream songs. A good night!

Jack has a cooling, post gig, drink as ears deflate back into the vicinity of normality!

Jack has a cooling, post gig, drink as ears deflate back into the vicinity of normality!

Goblin, The Arches, 25th Feb, Act 23

Goblin, The Arches, 25th Feb, Act 23

Amongst my circle of muso friends, only Billy Bones,a long standing fan, has heard of Goblin the Italian Prog/Soundtrack maestros. Before the gig begins, him & I are standing at the mixing desk when a youngster comes up and starts chattering away to me, in Italian. It takes some time to convince him that I’m not Maurizio, the keyboard player, although, later on, I see that M and I share the same taste in beards ‘n’ shirts and understand the lad’s confusion. The band start to play and spend most of the night in silhouette, backlit mainly in blood red. The three large screens, that had been showing Un Chien Andalou, now show the relevant scenes from Suspiria, Dawn of The Dead and Profundo Rosso, as the group play their theme music from those films. What can I say? To generalise, the Italians have always been very, very good at what is now called Prog and Goblin are in the vanguard. Lush keyboard ‘scapes and lashings of Gilmouresque guitar at thunderous volume . Why Spanner’s not here has never been fully explained, he would love this.

The visuals? It’s an unusual and impressive approach, spoiled as ever by these morons who insist upon holding their camera phones up in the air. Do they ever bother to look at the results of this less than furtive photography? A quick swatch at you tube advises this viewer that it’s pointless and, more to the point, annoys me somewhat greatly. I want someone to invent some sort of cyber hand grenade that can be unpinned and I can lob into a crowd like this. No damage to anyone, it just temporarily disables the camera on their phones. What a spiffing idea, I’m off to patent it!


Not your traditional support by a long chalk. Prior to Goblin, those arriving slightly late (ie us) were greeted by a screening of Buneul’s Un Chien Andalou. Me? I can never get enough of donkeys in pianos or razored eyeballs. Great stuff!

Not your traditional support by a long chalk. Prior to Goblin, those arriving slightly late (ie us) were greeted by a screening of Buneul’s Un Chien Andalou. Me? I can never get enough of donkeys in pianos or razored eyeballs. Great stuff!

Jah Wobble & The Nippon Dub Ensemble, The Arches 22nd Jan Act # 06

Jah Wobble & The Nippon Dub Ensemble, The Arches 22nd Jan Act # 06

Ah feel facken orful tonight! A lesser person would have cancelled but I’m obviously of sterner stuff” So spake a flu ridden John Wardle as he eventually took the stage. With the pallor of a Poundstretchers candle and dressed like a slightly psychedelic Arthur Daley, Wobble then led the band through a very similar set to that witnessed at last year’s ABC2 gig. The bass is omnipresent; you feel it in your gut, the backs of your trouser legs resonate in sympathy,when you open your mouth your gullet tickles at that particular frequency. It’s awesome, the only time I’ve experienced anything like this before was Robbie Shakespeare.

How often do you go along to a gig saying to yourself “I do hope they play Cherry Blossom of My Youth and they never do? Happens to me far too often for my liking, but not tonight. The Nippon Dub Ensemble do their thing which  is, as ever, sublime. Tonight they were;
Jah Wobble – bass, vocal
Claire Rose – vocals
Clive Bell – flutes, harmonica, melodica Keiko Kitamura – koto, vocal
Emi Watanabe – flute, vocal
Kumiko Suzuki – taiko, percussion, vocal
Chris Cookson – guitar
Marc Layton-Bennet –  drums
Neville Murray – percussion
Sean Corby – trumpet, French horn
George King – Keyboard

After forty minutes or so the band slide into more of a Lovers Rock thing Althea & Donna, Augustus Pablo. Rimshots and echo galore “It’s dub, Jim, but not as we know it!”. Wobble announces the girls are going off for a rest and brings on two new players on keys and cornet. Suddenly they take a sharp left turn and with the aid of a Harmon Mute we’re off into Miles Electric Period (MEP!). I’m conscious of grinning like a Cheshire cat, as you don’t hear enough stuff like this these days. Dark Magus indeed! At the same time I’m very aware that it’s very much of it’s moment and a boot wouldn’t do it justice (p.s. I’ve since bought the album ’7’ and am correct, you had to be there!). Gig of the year so far, however!
Thirty hurts!

Thirty hurts!