Monday, 21 March 2011

Primal Scream play Screamadelica, Manchester Apollo, Saturday 19th March 2011

Primal Scream blew my mind on Saturday night at the Manchester Apollo on Saturday night as they revisited their seminal album ‘Screamadelica’ to mark the 20th anniversary of its release.

Primal Scream are one of a handful of bands that I have seen that make a gig more like an occasion, a cup final if you will and on Saturday night there was no doubt that they were ‘up for it’.

In many ways it was the perfect day for me. A sunshine drive down to Manchester with my good friend Phil and my wife Lynn, blasting out a stupendous Radio 1 essential mix by the DJ Greg Wilson. We arrived at my brothers in Sale for 11.30am and celebrated with a morning beer before Kirsty and Lynn drove us to Old Trafford. Ross had wangled hospitality for himself, while Phil and I went to the pub to pick up our tickets from the Glasgow Supporters Club and catch up with some friends over a few more beers. United won 1-0, only really starting to play in the last 20-minutes after being reduced to 10 men after Evans had been sent off. Berbatov scored the winner right in front of us at the Scoreboard End.

We hooked back up with Ross, Kirsty and Lynn along with Phil’s mate Josh and got the tram into town, heading to an excellent bar in the Northern Quarter called; The Northern. Lynn and Kirsty headed back to Sale while the lads stayed out and moved on to another pub that I forget the name of, meeting Josh’s brother Zak who seemed to know absolutely everyone in the place. He had been hoping to get a guest pass for the gig as he is friends with Mani but told us in his broad Mancunian accent; ‘Mani wasn’t allowed any guest passes as if he was allowed one he’s need a thousand.’

At 9pm we bid farewell to Josh and Zak and hailed a cab to get to the Apollo. It was already pretty busy when we arrived, with DJ Andrew Weatherall playing some reggae and dub, heavy on the bass. A 5-piece support band came on and nobody seemed to know who they were, they blasted out some American Radio friendly garage-pop, with the three guitars sounding fantastic and then left Weatherall to get the crowd in the mood.

Primal Scream bounded on to the stage shortly after 11pm, Bobby Gillespie looked ‘up for it’, skipping to the front of the stage;

‘Hello Manchester, we’re Primal Scream and we’re gonna play Screamadelica, this is Movin’ on Up.’

The band slipped effortlessly into gear, with Innes stage right and Mani skulking about by his bass stage left. The presence of a backing singer for the ‘gospel’ sections lifted the song and Gillespie looked like he was having the time of his life, playing to the crowd by dancing along the front of the stage and encouraging them to join in at the end.

It was straight into ‘Slip Inside This House’, swiftly followed by an immense ‘Don’t Fight It Feel It’. There were certainly plenty of people ‘feeling it’ in the audience. The large screen at the back of the stage featured artwork from the Glasgow artist Jim Lambie that captured the feel of the songs tremendously and as the night went on it felt like the music, band and artwork all became one.

Gillespie slowed it down with a gorgeous ‘Damaged’ before a beautifully trippy ‘I’m Coming Down’ and the psychedelic nursery rhyme ‘Shine Like Stars’, changing the order of the album to suit the live set.

The instrumental  ‘Inner Flight’ was another moment of sheer beauty, but the closing section was quite simply mind blowing.

‘Higher Than The Sun’ segued into ‘the dub symphony’ and it seemed to go on for ages, the band and audience lost in the music. It was unbelievable, difficult to describe how amazing it was.

‘Loaded’ was next, Gillespie conducting the crowd to jump, dance and clap along.

It got better with an epic closing version of ‘Come Together’ with Gillespie singing my favourite Farley mix; ‘Kiss me, won’t you won’t you kiss me.....’ ending with the album version and everyone’s hands in the air in moment of euphoric bliss.

The band went off stage to regroup and give the audience time to get their breath, everyone around me was gasping in disbelief at the performance.

Gillespie bounded back on; ‘d’ye wanna hear some rock’n’roll, d’ye wanna hear some rock’n’roll?’ The Scream Team kicked back into action, charging through ‘Country Girl’, ‘Jailbird’ and ‘Rocks’, finally leaving the stage just after 1am. I wanted them to keep on going.


I’ve been to some special gigs in my time and experienced some genuinely amazing moments and this is up there. Screamadelica is one of those landmark albums and for the band to revisit it in such an epic manner was just mind blowing. The version of ‘Higher Than The Sun’ was utterly magical and the closing double blow of ‘Loaded’ and ‘Come Together’ just about took the roof off the place.

The band were on fire throughout, the horn section in ‘I’m Coming Down’, the gospel singer generating love and soul, Mani creating good vibrations and Andrew Innes and Bobby Gillespie charging about lost in the music they created 20-years previously.

Stunnning, if I go to a better gig this year I will be pleasantly surprised.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Nevada Base and Elster Club, Cape in Stirling

Last night I ventured through to Stirling to catch Nevada Base playing the regular BULGE night at Cape in Stirling alongside their friends and very special guests from Berline, Elster Club.

Elster Club were over to record at Nevada Base's studio in the East End of Glasgow, with Johanas, their keyboard/synth player being an original founding member of Nevada Base before he returned to Germany. Such is the friendship between them that Nevada Base still name him as a member of the band.

It was great of Tommy, the promoter and organiser of the BULGE nights to include Elster Club on the line-up and to say that they were excited about playing in Scotland with their friends would be an understatement. Their excitement was only topped up with Jager Bombs (Jagermeister and Red Bull). There was also the added bonus of some German friends who are touring round the UK making the time to come to Stirling to see them...and the castle of course!

With a 'thanks for having us' Elster Club kicked off, getting into the groove pretty quickly. By the second song in, the infectious 'Forty Days' people were coming through to the 'gig' area from the bar to check out the electro-pop coming from the stage.

The 3 band members were having a great time on stage, bouncing, dancing, clicking fingers, punching the air and playing with huge smiles on their faces; always nice to see. This spread to the crowd and dancing started, with their German friends leading the way.

It was clear to see how Johanas had helped to shape the early Nevada Base sound as he coaxed all kinds of beats and sounds out of his bank of electronic equipment, helped by funky house bass, new wave guitar riffs and shouty hooks from his mates.

The band only got better as they went on, they would go down a storm at the Sub Club in Glasgow! I enjoyed their set so much that I bought their mini-album 'Club Your Hands' and got a signed copy! The geek that I am!

The band were elated when they left the stage and celebrated by ordering a couple of rounds of Jagermeister for them and their friends in Nevada Base. Well they hadn't seen each other in a while.

Nevada Base took to the stage around 10.45pm and after a few early technical hitches with Gus' keyboard they hit their stride. Elster Club and their German mates were dancing like they were in the Hacienda and their enthusiasm spread to the balcony upstairs and to the girls down the front who appeared fascinated by frontman Albert's afro.

Nevada Base have been hard at work in the studio and have just finished recording an album and are set to release their debut single 'Love In My Mind'. They are clearly happy with what they are doing and looked confident and at ease on stage.

'Electric Touch' was euphoric and 'Pronoid' was stretched out into a jam at the end, lost in the music. Their cover of the Italo disco classic 'Spacer Woman' saw them finish that and go straight into an epic track that had a refrain that went something like;

we have the tunes and the gadgets, if we want we could play all night

'Love In My Mind' caused the guys on the balcony to come downstairs for a dance before the set ended with the pulsating 'If I'm Late'. It was a cracking night and pleasing to see such quality music played by bands with smiles on their faces and genuine affection for each other.

Nevada Base play;

March 26th, Taylors, Kilwinning
April 12th, Bull and Gate, London
April 14th, Nice'n'Sleazys, Glasgow

Vigo Thieves - Love Is Dead Single Launch

Last night the Vigo Thieves were all set to celebrate the launch of their latest single ‘Love is Dead’ with a sold out show at Captain’s Rest. To say the night took a few twists and turns along the way is a bit of an understatement!

Everything started well, load-in, Vigo Thieves soundcheck, OK Social Club soundcheck and then it was the turn of the band Jane Bolts to soundcheck at their second ever gig....the power went downstairs in the venue.

Upstairs everything was fine, the busy crowd were in good form, keeping the bar staff busy and many were settling down to watch the first half of the Spurs v Milan game. Thankfully the Vigo’s booking agent is Craig McGee, the owner of and someone very capable of thinking quickly on their feet and also someone with a very useful address book in his mobile.
Publish Post
A quick call to Scottish Power established that there was a problem with the supply to some homes and businesses in the area and power would likely be back on at 10pm. Of course this couldn’t be guaranteed. Popping next door to the Liquid Ship to see if they fancied 100 thirsty Vigo Thieves fans coming over to boost their Wednesday night takings and cram into an even smaller venue than the Captain’s, Craig and the band were met with the reply; ‘ermmm, we couldn’t do that, we have our open mic on.’ Mmmmm 100 people for a Vigo Thieves gig, or a dozen for the open mic night? No contest in a recession, but the Ship turned it down.

Craig then earned his stripes as a booker/promoter/agent by phoning the owner of the Black Sparrow, who also happens to own the Admiral in Waterloo Street and he very kindly said that they could use the basement venue in the Admiral. This all happened in the space of 30-40 minutes and the good old Dunkirk spirit came into play as bands, fans, equipment and sound engineer all made their way to the Admiral. What a shame for the Vigo Thieves on their triumphant night that they had all this stress and couldn’t simply enjoy a few beers with their mates and fans before playing a storming gig and as Craig is a big Spurs fan he couldn’t watch the game!

Everything came together and the Liquid Ships loss was The Admiral’s gain as everyone watched the football upstairs before heading down just shortly after 10pm to catch the Jane Bolts. As it was only their second gig I can’t be too harsh, on the plus side they had a couple of decent guitar riffs and they covered a Pixies song. On the minus they murdered the Pixies song and I wasn’t sure if the singer had a cold or if he was trying to (badly) impersonate Julian Casablancas, or both. So I was harsh. On another plus side the young crowd they brought with them seemed to enjoy it. Maybe I am just getting old!

Things picked up as the OK Social Club strode confidently on to the stage and bashed out an energetic set of catchy guitar pop song after catchy guitar pop song. Riffs, refrains, hooks and choruses were all clearly evident in a very tight set that was quite literally music to my ears after the Jane Bolts. A few people I know have said that I should catch them live and on the evidence of last night I would certainly do so again.

It was nearing 11 o’clock before the headliners finally took to the stage to chants of ‘Viiiiigo’ and with the guitarist Barry Galbraith seeming to have his own personal fanclub in. Clearly relieved that their launch night had been saved from ruin the band thanked everyone and launched straight into their debut single ‘Won’t You Be Mine’, wasting no time before hurtling straight into ‘Sound of Summer’, surely an anthem in the making. Bassist Gordon Phipps was bouncing around, punching the sky and slapping his bass like a cross between Peter Hook and Animal from the Muppets.

‘Steal Your Heart’ provoked some good old fashioned pogo-ing from the young lads at the front before the single ‘Love Is Dead’ got its first live outing. The band ended with ‘Blood Red’ prompting a mini stage invasion, the gig ending with singer Stevie Jukes being hugged by 3 fans at once while still attempting to sing the final line.

It was a short set from the Vigo Thieves (and indeed the other acts) due to the time restraints that were placed on the night due to the last minute change of venue, however in the brief set they showed that they have the songs to generate some love and affection. Hopefully their next gig in Glasgow will go to plan and allow them the chance to enjoy it properly as it must have been a stressful night for them.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Charlie Sheen (You're Living My Dream) by Sonny Marvello

Charlie Sheen is everywhere just now; you can’t read a newspaper or browse online without learning about his latest drug fuelled rant or adventure.

Well Sheen’s crazy antics have inspired Sonny Marvello to write a song in tribute to him, entitled ‘Charlie Sheen (You’re Living My Dream)’.

The band immediately recorded a video demo of the song, posting it online on the night of Wednesday 2nd March and it is already approaching 1,000 plays on YouTube.

It is an acoustic ditty with Sonny Marvello showing off how easily they can write hooks and harmonies, using Sheen’s film career to inspire the lyrics.

The best and perhaps the most poignant line has to be; ‘I saw you once in my home town, scoring some charlie’. Recalling the time when Sheen recorded a straight-to-dvd film in Glasgow and went out to Easterhouse looking to score some drugs.

Other lyrics include ‘Ferris Bueller, had a day off, but Charlie gets off every day’.

With the chorus; ‘Charlie Sheen, (Sheen, Sheen) you’re living my dream’

Find out more about Sonny Marvello at

Beady Eye - Different Gear, Still Speeding

I gave into temptation earlier this week and bought the debut album by Beady Eye. As someone who was a mad keen Oasis fan in the 90's, particularly that amazing 94-96 period, I still have a huge soft spot for the Gallagher brothers, I know what they can be capable of, although I live more in hope than in expectation that they will ever reproduce the thrills I get from listening to the likes of Slide Away or Live Forever.

The album is pretty much as I expected, with only a few surprises. There are a couple of cracking tunes, some alright, some that I am unlikely to listen to again.

As an opener Four Letter Word falls into my 'alright' category. It could easily be an Oasis tune, but then what can we expect from a band that counts 4 ex members of Oasis as their personnel. It drives along and the hook 'nothing ever lasts forever' could easily be a message to the millions of Oasis fans out there.

Millionaire is quite jaunty but doesn't really do anything for me, while single The Roller is a blatant rip off of Instant Karma without a memorable chorus like 'we all shine on'. That said, there are certainly a lot worse songs to rip off. After his brother Noel plurged through The Beatles back catalogue, it could be that Liam is starting on Lennon's solo stuff.

Beatles and Stones is awful and Wind Up Dream is pretty forgettable. So we're not off to the best of starts!

Things pick up with the debut single, Bring The Light. A piano based boogie with simple catchy lyrics and a 'baby hold on' hook complete with gospel singers.

For Anyone is beautiful though. I played it 3 times in a row after first listen, not only through relief at finally finding a tune I liked! It is an acoustic based number with a quick beat and shock horror, a bit of a melody! There are handclaps and the song is only just over 2 minutes long. After some of the horrific songs earlier on the album it is pleasing to hear Liam actually singing again, he does have a great voice after all, when he isn't being a caricature of himself.

I know it's gonna be alright

Forever I'll be by your side

For anyone you love
For everyone you feel
I'm never giving up
Until the dream is real
Until the dream is real

Kill For A Dream is is another more mellow effort, I'd love to find out who wrote what song for the album. I suspect this might be Andy Bell, although this effort smacks of Oasis using 'car' to rhyme with 'are'. Not bad.

Standing On The Edge Of Noise actually contains the lyric 'Your brother don't know cause he ain't been listening'. On the evidence of this track, Noel isn't missing much! Like a number of the songs on the album this is a 'paint by numbers' attempt at Oasis, only they seem to have got the colours badly mixed up.

There is a bit of a tune to Wigwam. Another welcome relief. At over 6 and a half minutes it is the longest track on the album, with the band clearly trying for something epic. There is a huge break in the song before the refrain 'I'm Coming Up' kicks in and keeps the song going for another 3-minutes. A little too long for my liking but this is not a bad tune.

Three Ring Circus isn't worth the listen, save yourself some time. Not that this review will really be encouraging anyone to buy the album!

The Beat Goes On is another catchy, melodic number, it reminds me of an old song but I can't quite place it. The lyrics highlight that Liam dreams of writing a song that will be sung like those written by his brother.

So long, so long, some day all the world will sing my song
Still life remains, somewhere in my heart the beat goes on

The Morning Sun contains the lyric 'you're blinded by what you idolise'. This could easily be applied by the thousands who rushed to buy tickets to see Beady Eye in concert, blinded by past memories. It's not a bad tune, yet it's not exactly memorable either.

So why did I buy the album? Well Liam Gallagher has something that others don't, character and personality. And when he puts his mind to it he has a cracking soulful voice. I'm sure he will produce moments of brilliance at some point in time, perhaps Liam should look to collaborate with people rather than surround himself with 'yes' men. Can anyone imagine Andy Bell or Gem Archer turning round to Liam and saying; 'do you know what Liam, that song Beatles & Stones is f**king sh*te and as for Three Ring Circus...'? 

I'm sure Liam wouldn't be short of people who would work with him. His performance with Death In Vegas on their single Scorpio Rising is an example of what he could so with the right writers and producers.

Beady Eye may claim to be in  Different Gear, Still Speeding; if they are in a different gear it is dangerously close to reverse.

Liam should give Noel a call.