Monday, April 17, 2006

Bob Catley - The Underworld, Camden - Sunday 16th April

Ho hum, Camden again for the 3rd gig running. This time is the compact "Underworld", located, suprisingly enough, under the "World's End" pub. On the journey up, Richard reminded my of the last time we went to a Camden gig on an Easter Sunday. We assumed the last southbound tube would be a bit earlier than normal and so got to the station around 23:45. They had all gone! That had meant a triple night bus disaster getting home. Keen not to repeat that experience, we checked the timetable this time. 23:20 last tube. Very early, but at least we knew!

Crossed towards the venue to buy tickets and were a bit surprised to see a queue (it was around 19.15). So, off for a San Miguel in the Camden Tup at a bargain £3.40 a throw! After that, went back to the venue (which had now opened) to buy tickets. The £12 advance had become £15 "on the door" - that's a fair old markup really, but probably no worse that paying the booking fees if you booked early. Came to the conclusion we didn't fancy seeing the support, so set off on a mini pub crawl instead. Average price of a pint stayed well over the £3 mark - Camden residents must be rich! Cheapest was the exactly £3 pint of Becks in the Dublin Castle - another music venue where I'm yet to see a show. We were just too late to enter the "Easter egg painting competition" in another pub - damn!

Anyway - into the venue just before nine to be suprised by how quiet it was. I guess the numbers "56" and "57" on our tickets should have been a clue. Don't know if it was because it was an Easter Sunday or people just couldn't be bothered, but Mr Catley deserves much better support than the 100 or so souls here. Also, I think he'd be better off playing somewhere else in London (Barfly, 100 Club, Half-Moon Putney ?)

Anyway, enough of that. As we know from past experience, it doesn't matter if Bob is playing to 100 or 30,000 - he always gives his all and has one of the best voices in rock. Tonight we got a selection of highlights from his solo albums (including the new "Spirit of Man") and a couple of Magnum songs (Days of No Trust - done acoustically and Lonely Night). Some of the new songs are quite catchy (I've only played the album a couple of times) and there were a few favourites. Richard and I had a bet whereby we had to neck a quanity of beer if Bob uttered the word "Gandolf" - thankfully only 2 large swigs needed! (don't ask about this strange betting thing we do!).

All over by 22:25 and off to the Halfway House for a final pint and to watch some excellent VH2 videos leaving plenty of time for a relaxed tube journey home. Bob always puts on a great show - hopefully a few more people will make it next time.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

The Pretenders - Koko, Camden - Friday 7th April

Back to Camden, well Mornington Crescent actually (Richard still hasn't figured out the rules for the game of the same name) for a slice of the 80's. A brief crawl around a few dodgy pubs near Kings Cross first (including a "best of 5 darts match which I lost 1-3). We passed some very suspect places. "Massage offered - tourists welcome!" said one sign on a run-down establishment. I bet they are! - wonder how much people get fleeced for in there? Despite the distance, Richard wanted to walk to the venue - I suggested a bus. "There, it took 5 minutes" he panted when we arrived. I look at my watch - ahh - it's a mere 18 minutes of brisk walking since we left the last pub. I suggest he buys a watch.

Anyway, the Koko - a new venue for me. First impression - "Employ more bar staff !!". A new band too - I've been keen to see the Pretenders for a while, but never had the chance.

Got to a midway point on the floor - reasonable view. Band came on and were, well, how can I say, pleasant. I was expecting a bit more "attitude" to be honest, but Chrissie Hynde's distinctive voice kept things ticking over. Unfortunately, that's all that really continued. As expected, the show was being filmed for DVD (there seemed little other point for this "one off") and that will surely show a very static 30-something audience nodding politely with a bit of cheering after some songs. Now I know I'm falling into the "not really a fan, play the greatest hits" category, but I would like to have heared a bit more of the familiar stuff. At least we got "Brass In Pocket" and "Back on The Chain Gang" amongst others, but there was little to set the pulse racing.

Chrissie Hynde was good (she looks exactly the same as 25 years ago - at least from our distance), the rest of the band OK, but this really show lacked something. Richard has seen them 4-5 times and said that this was by far the most disapointing. 5/10 for me - I'm not sure I'll risk giving them aother go, which is a shame.

Finished off back at the "Somerston Coffee House", which we had passed on our epic walk earlier. Risked a pint of Red Stripe - I'm sure Mrs B suffered the snoring as a result later!

Next up - Bob Catley at the Underworld on Easter Sunday.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Answer - Barfly, Camden - Wednesday 5th April

I saw the Answer support Deep Purple a few months back and thought they were good. Was sure Richard would like them too, so it was off to a new venue for me (after our office pub quiz where Richard was our "ringer").

The Barfly is a small dark room above a pub near Chalk Farm. As it happened we had plenty of time and I even got to have a brief chat with the singer outside on the stairs before they went on. He seemed a decent guy and was obvisously pleased that they were attracting punters who hadn't seen their own shows before.

Anyway, I thought they were really good - shame they were only on for about an hour, but it is a real mix of classic Free / Led Zepp etc in their sound, but with the individuality of their own songs. Impressed enough to buy both CD EPs, we headed home quite early. I'm sure I will see them again.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

The Who Convention - Bush Hall, Shepherds Bush - Saturday 1st May

Having just about woken up following last night's epic journey home, we were off again - this time to Shepherds Bush for the Who Convention. I don't mind admitting I'm always slightly nervous about the word "convention" - it instills fear of nerdy trainspotter types who want to swap lists on their top five all-time Who songs which have been played live on all continents etc. Thankfully, nothing could be further from the truth - the crowd were just a group of genuine fans, here to meet each other and enjoy some tributes and the music.

We got there at 3.00pm - checked out the bar (of course) - £3.00 for a can of lager - h'mmm. Listened to "Irish Jack" telling stories about his time mingling with the Who in the 60's. Quite interesting for a while, but not the best sound to hear him.

Next up were "Who's Who", a tribute band I've seen a number of times. Here, they performed Quandrophenia in its entirety. Whilst that is a fine album (in the main), there are a couple of low points, and it did drag just a little bit. Still, the band were good and the drummer does a fine impersonation of Keith Moon.

We then used our "pass-outs" to pop down to the "Goldhawk" for a quick beer and to give my bad back a rest. Followed by a bit of food, we were back having just missed the start of Simon Townshend's set (with his band the Casbah Club). Simon was playing much of the stuff I'd heard him do recently at Balham and Twickenham, including the excellent, "oldie, but goodie", "The Way It Is".

Shortly after this, I feel a hand on my shoulder. I assume it is someone else returning after a visit to the bar / toilets, but as I step aside to let the person through I see he is a diminuative middle aged chap in glasses, carrying an overcoat and newspaper, looking more than familiar. "That doesn't half look like Roger Daltrey" I say to Richard. 10 seconds later, the swarming crowd and camera flashes confim I am right!

After another song or 2, Simon invites Roger on stage where he thanks us for our support (of the band and charity) and gives an update on the new Who album. It appears he doesn't understand the concept (who does?), but likes the music! Hope we do too. He needs to get back the Royal Albert Hall, so asks the crowd if there is anything else they want from him. "Sing us a song!" is the overwhelming reponse, which seems to suprise him! After discussion with Simon, he sings an excellent "Behind Blue Eyes" with newspaper tucked under his arm! "MORE!!", yell the crowd. Roger looks at his watch... "Sod it, OK!"... Simon suggests "Substitute" and this is delivered... awesome. Roger departs with "I'll send your regards to Pete" and our day is made.

Simon Townshend completes the set with the bizzarre "Sex Change" after which Richard and I spot "Gazza" (Gary Hurley, not Paul Gasgoigne!) and go to have a quick chat. He is hoarse (with either yelling or singing!).

We pop out for another few quick halves and some new pubs (I win at pool - Richard accuses me of cheating as he always does - presumably for potting more balls than him - again!) and return to see the final band of the night "The Wholigans". They hail from Florida and the singer sounds exactly like Roger Daltrey! My back is killing me by now, so I escape upstairs and grab a stool. Very impressed by the band, although they seem to have a bit of a problem with their bassist who is subjected to a few snide remarks and looks.

All over by half ten, so a quick dash to the 220 bus stop and back to Putney for the end of Match of The Day and a final beer in the "Larrick". Another tiring, but rewarding day.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Tommy Vance Tribute - Royal Albert Hall - Friday 31st March

OK Let's Rock! A tribute to Tommy Vance, DJ most famed for his legendary "Friday Rock Show" on Radio 2, in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust. Featuring the might of Judas Priest, The Scorpions, Ian Gillan & Friends and Boned, you would have thought that this would have been an instant sell-out. It wasn't! I suspect the £50+ price tag was a problem, and the advertising beforehand maybe wasn't the best, but it was nowhere near full. People in the choir seats were moved to better front-of house seats for "production reasons" (ie "we need to fill them up!") and the circle looked sparce. Anyway, this didn't bother us and we were lucky to have an excellent 5th Row view.

Decided against getting there for "Boned" (we checked out the "Gloucester" pub instead - not bad), so can't comment on them. We also went to the Queens Arms and DID see the legendary "three legged dog" (check out to see what I'm on about!)

Mr Gillan & Friends were next and we were in plenty of time to see them. The band featured Harry James from Thunder and Dean Howard. Now I'm assuming he is the guy who used to be in T'Pau, but he looked very different, so if someone could confirm that, I'd be grateful. They played a selection of material, some of it OK, but at this sort of event you really don't want to be hearing the words "... and here's another one from my new album...". ZZzzzz. Still, "Black Night" finished things off and finally got the audience up and running.

Next up were The Scorpions, introduced by Bruce Dickinson. I saw them at Hammersmith last year and thought they were pretty good - here they were excellent! Lots to please the crowd and I managed to snaffle a drumstick (thanks Klaus!) and a plectrum (thanks Rudolph!). Richard even nabbed the setlist afterwards which showed that they played the following:-


After that excitment, Richard and I went off for a bit of "celeb" spotting around the venue (did I ever tell you about the time I met Archbishop Desmond Tutu here? No? Some other time then...), but with no joy. Dave, in the meantime, was chatting with his mate, photographer Ross Halfin (check out his excellent site and diary... ). Ross is a fan of JP and the Scorpions and was working for the night - there are some comment on his diary.

Back just in time for Judas Priest. After a brief speech from promoter Harvey Goldsmith and a touching film about the work of the charity, they were introduced by Roger Daltrey "You all know what's coming next", and the band started. Rob Halford appeared 3/4 of the way through the first song and seemed on good form. "It's Friday night at the Royal Albert Hall and the the Priest is BACK!" he roared to much approval. A solid set (motorbike included!), running well over the alloted 45 mins meant the big get-together of all the bands for the final number, Take On The World, finished around 11.30. Dave scuttled off for his last train, complete with a set of back-stage passes in his pocket. Oi !!!

Our night was not quite over though. Outside the venue it was raining heavilly, so we jumped on a bus to Kensington High Street, A quick beer there and off to the tube for the 12.30 train... errr what train. OK then, the last train to Wimbledon, the 12.50... errr right! Finally turns up at 01.35! Home via nightbus about 02.45 - lovely! Texted Dave whilst we were on platform waiting for tube and he was already home (with the passes!).

Anyway, a good but expensive and tiring night out. Check out the charity website here:-