ForeverBlueSkies - Life, the Universe and Everything - a blog

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Nobody Told Me...

...it was New Year. Where TF did that go?

Ah well, enough of the pleasantries, like Xmas, it's the same shit every year. But that would be rude, so Happy New Year to whoever still reads my crap these days :)

Anyway...

People moan about Farnborough, and I agree it's not the best place in the world, not since they shut down The Tumbledown Dick. There's no reason for this town to be the centre of the universe anymore :(

And Aldershot's certainly no better. OK, they do have the Westy to go see gigs at, but it's hardly a reasonable walking distance from my Fox Lane (Farnborough) home when I've had a skinful.

But today I went for a quick wander around the town I used to hang about in as a kid. (Well, sometimes) And what has become of The Home of The British Army? Well, for one, Aldershot still has some of it's Victorian buildings. Other classic buildings have been utterly destroyed for bland new constructions. Bummer. And the place was dead, so so deathly quiet and a cold cold Wednesday afternoon. I spoke with some locals and they blame it on the Ministry of Defence who started moving our soldiers to Colchester some years ago. Plus it's been -10°c here the last few nights and we have a global credit crunch incase you didn't notice ;)

Spinna Disc Records However, if there's one glimmer of hope in Aldershot, it's Spinna Disc Records. They moved from Grosvenor Road to the top of Union Street some years back. I walked past the location and they were gone. However, a stroll further down Union Street and there was the shop sign... "Spinna Disc Records".

I couldn't help myself, I was compelled to enter the shop. Second-hand record shops are just addictive and they are so rare these days, especially outside big cities and with the advent of eBay shops and the like where I admit I've misspent a lot of my life buying used CDs.

My opinion on modern tunes is why should we buy new music when there's so much old stuff that we haven't caught up with. Have you got a copy of Argus by Wishbone Ash? Or how about Kings of Oblivion by The Pink Fairies? No? Then don't buy any new music until you've tracked these LPs down, purchased them, played them and then blogged about how much you love them. Don't thank me, thank Wishbone Ash, The Pink Fairies and the power of the Internet for allowing us to get stuck in a beautiful musical timewarp.

So in true hypocritical fashion I bought Chinese Democracy by Guns N' Roses. Oh, and Iron Maiden's Seventh Son. So I'm half a hypocrite... 2008 and 1988 respectively.

I admit to not really ever being a GN'R fan. A review of the controversial-covered Appetite for Destruction when it first came out, in NME back in 1987, harped on about how good the LP was, and I admit I was tempted to buy it but somehow missed out. I ended up being far more enamoured by Hawkwind and their awesome Live Chronicles LP and went more that direction in rock/metal rather than the more "glammy" GN'R route.

And then everyone started dressing like Axel Rose, drinking Jack Daniels, flipping Zippo lighters, wearing mirrored shades and trying to look (in a I'm so macho 'cos I look like a girl sense) cool... except Axel Rose danced like a twat. And his voice got on my tits. I saw them at Donnington '88 and wasn't that impressed, not when Helloween, Megadeth, Dave Lee Roth and Iron Maiden were on the same bill. (But you missed out Kiss, they were there too. No they weren't. One word - Crazy Nights. OK, that's two, but I had more fun draining my lizard than listening to that shite)

Where was I? Oh yeah, GN'R. That wasn't my scene, all that whiny November Rain bollocks. Sorry, but that was the most dire song ever, and video, especially to followers of bands like Kreator, Nuclear Assault and Overkill. Anyone who liked November Pain was just... I dunno, an emotional rock retard. But the point is that I heard a few tracks played from Chinese Democracy and really quite enjoyed them. I blame Planet Rock. So when I was chatting to the geezer in Spinnadisc he pointed it out. I thought yeah, why not - it's on my list so let's have it.

What's it like? Well OK, I'm listening to it right now, track 13... one more to go. Yeah, it's good. I like it. It's slightly overproduced I feel, it has a more digital, synthesised feel to it, and I feel that some of the tracks end abruptly, or am I just not concentrating?

Axl's voice is still the same but I think my tinnitus takes the edge of it, and at times he drops into these weird octaves that remind me of some Frank Zappa stuff around the time of Joe's Garage Act I (try finding that on CD for a reasonable price!) The drumming sounds like a machine at times and the guitar is Slash-like, although I don't know this line-up. Looking at the CD insert, is that a bloke with a bucket on his head? Oh how Mick Jones would laugh!

Excuse the vagueness of my music critique, I'm a bit weary, but if you're a GN'R fan then you've probably already brought Chinese Rocks (YES - I've been dying to write that) and you must already love it (But where's Slash, why DOES that guy have a KFC bargain bucket on his bonce?)
On the other hand, if you don't like GN'R you may still hate them. Or maybe not. I don't care too much 'cos I'm getting more tired as I write this and I have to switch to my Iron Maiden CD...

...OK, it's in.

[And Seventh Son would sound great if I weren't stuck on this stupid interactive CD autoboot... Come on, Winamp, read the bastard. OK. Sorted. Ooh, memories of '87/'88]

So if you don't live anywhere near Aldershot or even plan to visit within the next month, then go ahead and buy stuff off Amazon or, better still, go support your local 2nd-hand record shop. If you DO plan to be in North East Hampshire very soon, then I highly recommend a trip to Spinna Disc at 16 Union Street, Aldershot, Hampshire GU11 1EG. Not only are there loads of CDs, but he has TONS of LPs and is a really nice chap, so go and grab some old tunes from one of our locals.

Right, talking of Slash, I need the toilet...

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Hawkwind

Hawkwind at the Astoria
After a few pints, a burger and a tot o' rum in a London pub (hello Ray & Diane) we ambled on up to The Astoria for Hawkwind's Christmas gig.

Because we got chatting with some homeless guy outside we missed most of the support act 3 Daft Monkeys, who I saw supporting The Levellers back in August, but caught the last couple of songs from ex-Hawk Huw Lloyd-Langton. Despite me first hearing Hawkwind's Silver Machine back in the late 1970s on Essex Radio, as it was then, it was Lloyd-Langton's guitaring on the 1985 masterpiece Live Chronicles that really got me hooked. Well, that and the fantasy concept based on Michael Moorcock's epic Elric of Melinobone stories. Huw's acoustic set seemed to go down well with the crowd, from what we could see from the bar, and I caught the strains of Rocky Paths from, strangely enough, the Live Chronicles double LP.

As for the Hawks themselves I admit I was a little concerned about how they would sound since the departure of bass assassin #2, Alan Davey, and the sad & untimely death of young keyboard player Jason Stuart. But once the synths sparked up and the light show panned out, my fears were allayed.

Master of the Universe was a cracking start to the show just as Nik Turner's Space Ritual played the same down at the Thomas Tripp gig a couple of weeks back. Nice to know that if Dave Brock & Nik Turner can't share a stage at least they can share a song.

Mr Dibs, formerly of Krel and Spacehead, took up bass and vocal duties; you just gotta love the vocal effects he had. And Tim Blake, former Hawk, was back

We were treated to a real mix of tunes including Who's Gonna win the War, Damnation Alley, Sword of the East, The Sentinel and Hassan I Sabbah with the usual treats of a Hawkwind gig; costumed dancers, good light show and back projections of all manner of psychedellic imagery.

The crowd was good, the Astoria was packed, and we worked our way down to the front for the last few tunes where the wreck wasn't as mindless as it had been at the last 3 concerts (Feeder, Motorhead, Space Ritual). Flying Doctor from the spin-off Hawklords LP was good to hear but to finish on Silver Machine was pretty much perfect, although the sound could have been a bit better.

The only spoiler was the guy who got aggy with the staff when he lost his cloakroom ticket and the selfish student who refused to give up the last seat on the train because he wanted to make sure his bags were comfortable.

Same again next year? Unless there's a mid-year Hawkfest, I certainly hope so.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Amazon MP3 Recommendations

I logged in to Amazon last night and, underneath the book, CD and DVD recommendations, there was a new list of MP3 downloads; all individual tracks. Of course the list is supposed to be based on my music purchases but I haven't brought any music off Amazon for months and it certainly wasn't by any band from this list, so I was well happy to see the list dominated by:
  • The Clash
  • Portishead
  • MC5
  • New York Dolls
  • Iggy & The Stooges
  • Pink Floyd
They even have a WHY? button to check the reason for the recommendation... so when I found a Fleetwood Mac track in there because I'd purchased a Black Sabbath CD (That must be YEARS ago) I nearly choked!

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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Space Ritual

As with all things Internet, I'm not entirely sure how I found out about the Space Ritual gig but I'm glad I did. I even debated seeing them in that magical town of Glastonbury on Friday night even though Pronghorn were playing at the same time.

So who the devil are Space Ritual, some of you might be asking?

The clue is in the name. Back in 1973 Hawkwind released their 4th album, the live LP Space Ritual, a disc that many traditional Hawkwind fans see as their greatest ever work.

At that time, in Hawkwind's now 40-year career, Nik Turner was a key-player, right the way up until his departure in 1977. Space Ritual is basically ex-Hawkwind, or a lot of the old members who are not in Dave Brock's Hawkwind. (Who is in Hawkwind these days apart from the Captain himself and Richard Chadwick? Bass Assassin No. 2, the awesome Alan Davey, is no longer with them, so the ship has but a rudder and only a skeleton crew.)

So last night's concert was at the appropriately-named Thomas Tripp in Christchurch, Dorset, a little town where I used to live when I was very young, infact it was probably around the time that Hawkwind were recording the live set for their Space Ritual LP. The venue was pretty small (a long, narrow hall) but the stage and the light-show were fantastic.

Nik Turner, top bloke, lead singer and saxophonist-extraordinnaire, was joined by guitarist Mick Slattery, drummer Terry Ollis, Chris 'Mekon' Purdon on electronic noises, ivory-tickler Thomas Crimble and rock-steady bassist, Jerry Richards. There was also some chick dancing, with speed o' light costume changes!

Kicking off with Robert Calvert's Right Stuff from Captain Lockheed & The Starfighters was certainly the right stuff, baby, the right stuff. That set the scene completely with the UVs, whirling projectors and all the visual psychedelia that you expect from such a fantastic collection of space rock veterans.

I have to admit that I was so in awe of seeing the band and so busy with the camera that I didn't keep track of the track listing. Being a real Space Ritual virgin there were probably plenty of their own tracks in there that I am totally unfamiliar with (go ahead, stone me, I deserve it) but I did catch Time Crime and was that Sonic Savages in there?

We heard the old Hawk classics Master of the Universe, Brain Storm and a great rendering of Michael Moorcock's spine-chilling monologue Sonic Attack. We got a good couple of hours audio dope from these guys and I found myself grinning ear-to-ear most of the night. We ended on such a high with an aching face and ringing ears, but it was all good stuff.

The only hassle was the size and shape of the venue which found a serene couple and their teenage son bussled out of their front-row vantage by a crowd that seemed totally drunk and rowdy by the last few tracks. One all-elbows couple bullied my unsuspecting mate out of the front row and I had to eventually brace myself to the growing onslaught threating from behind my back - stopping myself from falling over onto a) a woman who was sat on the front of the very low stage taking photos b) some broken glass c) the light projectors d) a mass of audio cabling plus defending my space and my grand's worth of camera and lenses in my pocket.

Hopefully we'll see Nik and Space Ritual again very soon, maybe at a venue a little closer to home (West End Centre please *cough*). If not, Nik did tip us off to the possibility of a Hawkestra gig at the Roundhouse on 8th March, but that's not official, right? *wink*

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Motörhead

Motörhead

After all these years it's a bit embarrassing to say I'd never gotten 'round to seeing Motörhead, but it's true. I could reel off a long list of excuses, including falling out of favour with rock, metal & punk whilst I hit the rave & festival scene for a few years, but I won't.

What matters is that after seeing Feeder last weekend, with The Chemists supporting, my mate said he was seeing Motörhead this following weekend. I couldn't help but feel a fair bit disappointed with myself for not knowing the Motörhead gig was on and I had the undeniable urge to see Motörhead live.

Sure, I'm skint but one day out a week is good for the soul, otherwise it's just 6 days of being poor infront of the TV with 5 dull days at work. And when you realise that Lemmy is 62 now, you wonder how many more chances you're going to get to see Motörhead in concert. The same goes for seeing his old band mate, Dave Brock, so Hawkwind are also, as ever, on that perpetual "must see" list.

Then there was the line-up: Danko Jones were on the foot of the bill and these are three Toronto lads that I've been busting to see since I blogged about them back in 2005. As for Saxon, wow; it's been 20 years since I last saw Saxon after buying tickets for them outside the all-seater Hammersmith Odeon, as it was back then.

So you've got to admit, that is an undeniably good line-up: Danko Jones, Saxon and Motörhead, Oh yes!

After a couple of beers and some random banter in a warm London pub, we hit the Hammersmith Apollo (nee Hammersmith Odeon) for the first time, for me at least, in many many years. It was refreshing to be back there again after many stints in the Brixton Academy in recent history.

We caught Danko Jones in the middle of their set and they make a lot of noise for a three-piece band. The main man himself has quite some attitude, so was it this or "who the f**k are Danko Jones?" that kept the crowd from moving? Luckily there were one or two fans there making an effort to enjoy themselves, but we soon threw our shouts behind the music and the place seemed to liven up at tad. It's a shame really, I expected DJ to get a much better reception. Check out stuff like I Want You to see how good these guys are.

Saxon came on as if a score of years hadn't passed us by. Alright, Biff Byford is grey now but he's still got his hair and his voice in good shape too. And if they were this good 20 years ago, why have I not loved this band as much as I did last night? They were tight, they rocked out, the crowd were behind them and they belted out a host of cracking tunes new and old.

The new Saxon tracks sounded in keeping with that NWOBHM Saxon noise, although did I detect a swirl of synth in one or two of them? Whatever, it can never be as dire as that LP Destiny from '88 or whenever; the time when it seemed like they were trying to cash-in on that appalling soft rock of the like of Heart and all those other ponce-rock bands that I hated so much that I'm lucky enough not to remember their names.

But yeah, Saxon are back. And they brought with them old classics like Denim and Leather, Princess of the Night, Wheels of Steel, 747 (Strangers in the Night). They've even announced a forthcoming tour and their new album Into the Labyrinth is out in January.

Motörhead are the business though. The lighting and stage show was basic but good. They had cams set up, projecting onto the backdrop, so it was fun to see into the crowd and the overhead drum shot. Right on the money ;)

I'm sure I heard Metropolis played in there and was amazed to hear one of my favourite Motörhead stompers Killed by Death, a f**king hilarious track in my warped imagination :) It was pretty raucous by this time, with the crowd getting rowdy. Some random tw@t was totally drunk and trying to shove me into the fray so I eyeballed the bastard and bided my time to punch him in the chops if he came near me again. Funny thing is I was getting pushed by some prick at Feeder last week so, third time lucky, I could end up decking someone next gig LOL [I don't think so, somehow; I don't expect any stoned-out hippy at a Hawkwind gig to give me any grief!]

I don't recall if I heard the classics Bomber, Overkill or Motörhead, maybe I was having too much of a good time rocking out, but they did finish with an acoustic set of Whorehouse Blues and then ripped up The Ace of Spades. Lemmy himself said he's sick of playing that track, but hey, what Motörhead gig would be complete without it - it is, afterall, their signature tune. They even had some scantily-clad chicks breathing fire on the stage, so it was definitely Motörhead bike rally style entertainment.

After being in that noisy smelly city it was nice to get back to suburban Farnborough, albeit on the crowded and very late last train home. Boy, was it bloody cold though. At least we didn't have snow down here.

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Farnborough Airshow

It's on!

Airbus A380, Farnborough Airshow 2008Update 20:22

I went through the small handful of photos I shot during my short lunchbreak and the best shot is of the Airbus A380 which, despite being the world's biggest airliner, was a graceful plane.

I love Farnborough sometimes.

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Sunday, July 06, 2008

Guilfest 2008

In the spirit of Guilfest we only went for one of the three days...

I'd have loved to have seen Carbon/Silicon again after shaking Mick Jones hand last year (I now realise guitar prowess cannot be passed on my mere touch alone) and we're going to see The Levellers in August anyway so that was Friday out of the reckoning.

Guilfest 2008And Saturday was Blondie headlining; my mate was in the second row for that but who else played that night I don't know.

But Sunday, oh Sunday... that was a different matter...

After we got to Farnborough North rail station we then realised the trains were not running. So they laid on a complementary/supplementary bus service which, after waiting an hour in the pissing rain, never came. I therefore had to drive to Guildford which meant no booze for me. So the half bottle of captain Morgan's rum stayed in the car.

As soon as we got into the festival site we grabbed a cider and headed for the ents24 stage - Dreadzone were on and absolutely rocking it.

The Damned were next on the main stage and were rather good.

We caught a couple of tracks from the youngsters Enjoy/Destroy in the rock tent just before Senser came on and played an absolute blinder!

Back to the main stage and From The Jam (basically The Jam minus Paul Weller) were excellent.

And finally Australian Pink Floyd finished off the night with a perfect set.

I can't say much more other than what a brilliant afternoon. If the girls had been home it would have been even better, but you can't have everything can you?

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