Give Me The Fear – Tokyo Dragons (released 26 September 2005)

Give Me the Fear

Not a live review in any shape or form, but I still felt the need to post something about this album so here it is.

I first heard the TD’s at the ‘Rock In The Castle’ festival in Scarborough and was very impressed by them. They were way down the line-up but immediately got my foot tapping and head nodding as I became absorbed by their set. This album is no different.

This is how I remember rock ‘n roll sounded years ago and hearing it once again is fantastic. It isn’t particularly new, original or ground-breaking but the simple fact is that it sounds GOOD. It’s fast, furious, full of guitars, choruses, solo’s, machismo and good-time vibes, without a ballad in sight. The album consists of 3 or 4 minute blasts of solid rock tunes and the track-list probably says a lot about their style;

1. What The Hell

2. Get ‘Em Off

3. Do You Wanna

4. Come On Baby

5. Let It Go

6. Johnny Don’t Wanna Ride

7. Teenage Screamers

8. Ready Or Not

9. Burn On

10. Rockin’ The Stew

11. Chasing The Night

Obvious influences are numerous and range from glam through to heavier metal with a borrowed punk riff or two. If you mixed early Guns n Roses with Rainbow, Motley Crue and Thin Lizzy you might get something sounding a little like this.

Don’t be put off by the fact they supported Status Quo on tour a while back, this is quality stuff. The Darkness do their polished rock-warbling very well, but this is how I think real rock ‘n roll should sound…

@Jimbob247247

Live At Woodstock (DVD) – Jimi Hendrix (released 19 September 2005)

Everyone knows that Jimi Hendrix was good but seeing him at Woodstock really brings it home.

The fluidity and style with which he played – not to mention the soul – were out of this world. Delays on the day meant Jimi and his band of gypsies didn’t go on stage until 9am which might have been a pain for the festival-goers but it does make it easier to examine his playing all these years later. His dexterity and speed throughout some incredibly complex arrangements is plain to see and it is truly breath-taking.

This DVD is not perfect though. Critics point out that it is not a complete reproduction of the set as two songs with Larry Lee on vocals are excluded. Also, ‘Hear My Train A-Comin’ is only included in amateur black and white footage on disc-2 as the official cameramen were all busy changing their reels. The newly-formed 6-piece band are clearly flying by the seat of their flared pants on several occasions, although they do generally get away with it. The sound mix is also debatable because Larry Lee’s guitar and the two percussionists are barely, if ever, heard. Although looking at the state of Jerry Velez, bongo-player extraordinaire, it is probably a good job.

On the plus side there are plenty of highlights such as ‘Message To Love’, ‘Izabella’ and ‘Woodstock Improvisation’. Jimi’s natural showmanship is a joy to watch and listening to him talk either on stage or during interviews is a valuable insight into an easy-going, intelligent and kind man. It is also useful for all wannabe musicians to see how Jimi leads the other band members with various nods of his head, motions of his guitar, or the occasional scowl when something displeases him.

And of course there’s ‘Star Spangled Banner’. I first heard his version of this many years ago and thought it was good, but seeing him play it really adds a huge weight to the performance. At times watching this DVD I found myself contemplating whether Jimi Hendrix was actually human because surely nothing on this earth could do the things he could.

The extras are OK but don’t add a great deal to the package which isn’t a big problem because the main event is so good. However, it is nice to get a flavour of life at the time and perhaps what it was like to be around Jimi Hendrix.

This release would probably satisfy anyone who was going to buy only one Hendrix DVD as it contains most of the classics. In my opinion it also showcases Jimi’s unique guitar talents the best with significant footage of his playing, rather than singing, style.

Main DVD set-list; Message to Love / Spanish Castle Magic / Red House / Lover Man / Foxy Lady / Jam Back at the House / Izabella / Fire / Voodoo Child (Slight Return) / Star Spangled Banner / Purple Haze / Woodstock Improvisation / Villanova Junction / Hey Joe

Extras include; The Road To Woodstock documentary / Jimi Hendrix Live At Woodstock – A Second Look / Jimi Hendrix press conference / Nashville Roots with Billy Cox and Larry Lee / Recording artefacts And memorabilia

@Jimbob247247

17 September 2005: The Wildhearts, Terrorvision + others – Scarborough Castle, Scarborough, England, UK

17 September 2005: The Wildhearts, Terrorvision + others – Scarborough Castle, Scarborough, England, UK

Where to start? Right at the start, I guess. The journey to Scarborough from most places is a long one but it’s made much more enjoyable when you go by a place called Wetwang.

Once through the queue at the entrance to the grounds – which was moving surprisingly fast for once, despite a full body and bag search – it was a short walk up a hill, past the castle and out into the field where a large festival arena had been set up. The first thing to hit you was the noise from the main stage. It was loud. VERY loud.

The Tap proved a great choice of meeting place with the loud pumping rock music easily getting us in the mood for the gig to come. After playing spot the tune you recognise for twenty minutes (and coming out with a total of two – showing my age here) we ventured up to Rock City for the first band.

Shortly afterwards the second thing to hit you was the queue for the beer tent (£3 a pint) which was soon taking more than an hour. While I’m at it I must also mention the lack of vegetarian food on sale which was diabolical bearing in mind that you weren’t allowed to bring in any food yourself. On a cold day I need much more than a cheese sandwich and a Mars bar to get me through.

If you’ve seen the advertisements for this gig you’ll know that there were a lot of bands lined up. Due to a combination of laziness, apathy, old age, and not being prepared to cart several pints of lager in flimsy plastic glasses around the place I only saw from a distance most of the bands in the second tent. Bands that played here were; Kid Ego, Robochrist (too many samples of 80’s TV shows), Jackdaw 4, Plan A, Shortcut to Newark, Planet of Women, Days of Worth, and Hurricane Party.

On the main stage there was Johnny Panic (punky), Tokyo Dragons (very good, must buy the album), The Glitterati (OK but had hoped for better), Hanoi Rocks (shambolic due to microphones and guitar leads going AWOL but at least they freely admitted to it), InMe (too much nu-metal angst for my taste), and the Eighties Matchbox B-line Disaster (absolutely effin awful, less said the better).

Finally it was time for Terrorvision and reportedly their last-ever gig. I’ll come clean right now and say that I’ve always loved TV. Of all the bands I’ve liked over the years I think that TV have got the lowest percentage of ‘poor’ songs in their back catalogue. Even what I consider to be their worst album, Shaving Peaches, has a lot of great songs on it and only a couple of duffers. No matter what mood I’m in I can always listen to TV which isn’t something I can say about many bands. The songs may not be ground-breaking classics but they’re nearly all very good.

The boys bounced on stage and opened up with Discotheque Wreck which, like so many of their songs, is perfect for festival pogo-ing. The crowd responded really well and carried on dancing throughout the set which included; Dog Chewed The Handle, Friends And Family, American TV, My House, Alice What’s The Matter?, Pretend Best Friend, Oblivion, Middleman, Some People Say, If I Was You, Josephine, D’Ya Wanna Go Faster, Fists of Fury, Tequila….and, finally, Perseverance.

This was a great set by a truly great band. Tony is an unpretentious down-to-earth front-man who dances around only slightly better than you or I might do if we ever had the opportunity to get up on stage. Musically they were brilliant, everything together and note-for-note perfect. Put simply, I can’t praise them highly enough. Well worth the entrance fee alone.

Next up on the main stage was the headline act, The Wildhearts, with Danny back on bass and Rich Battersby on drums. As this was being recorded for a DVD they predictably started with I Wanna Go Where The People Go. Once again, the crowd went mental which may actually have been a symptom of hypothermia setting in because it had been a long, cold day and some of us had only eaten a cheese sandwich all day.

Banter from Ginger between songs was at a premium, possibly because they were late coming on stage and had to be finished by 11pm, but there were pyrotechnics throughout which was unusual. It was also unusual to see Ginger smashing up two of his guitars before hurling them into the crowd, not to mention the electro-acoustic that was chucked in unbroken. The things you have to do for the cameras….

The set list was also made for television in that it contained all the classics with very few surprises in, most unlike any Wildhearts show I’ve seen before where there has always been a rarity dusted off; Sick Of Drugs, TV Tan, Caffeine Bomb, Suckerpunch, My Baby Is A Headf*ck, Everlone, Greetings From Sh*tsville, Nita Nitro, Stormy In The North Karma In The South, Geordie In Wonderland (the whole thing was sung by the crowd, it’ll be interesting to see how the wrong words/lines sound on the DVD), Vanilla Radio, Nothing Ever Changes But The Shoes, 29 x The Pain, and Love U Til I Don’t.

All good songs and played very tightly but there was still something missing for me. It could have been the loss of a cosy atmosphere or sound quality that you get indoors, or maybe it was hypothermia once again clouding my judgement. Maybe seeing the band members walking around and signing autographs during the afternoon had got me too excited and built up my expectations unreasonably high.

Whatever the answer, my overwhelming reaction was that it was a good show but not one of their best. Despite this, every show/album by The Wildhearts is still worth catching and this was no exception. Hopefully there will be many more shows to follow and with any luck one day they might even play at a vegetarian festival in the midlands during the summer.

@Jimbob247247

14 September 2005: Fun Lovin’ Criminals – Rock City, Nottingham, England, UK

14 September 2005: Fun Lovin' Criminals - Rock City, Nottingham, England, UK

Before this gig I wouldn’t have said that The FLC were right at the top of my list of bands that I wanted to see live. Nevertheless, variety is the spice of life so off I went.

First up was the support band, Cantaloop (not Antelope as I first thought they’d said). They sounded like an English mob and were probably a suitable warm-up for The FLC. They had a very similar sound, although not as edgy and playing more towards the rap/funk side of the spectrum. All well and good but a bit too ‘urban’ and too much talk of “the vibe” for my taste.

The FLC sauntered on stage to begin with ‘I Love Living in the City’, the title track from their new album which I’ve not heard yet. To my surprise virtually the whole crowd simply stood still and watched as the band played. I hadn’t been expecting a mosh-pit exactly but I had thought there would be a bunch of kids leaping up and down somewhere. An obvious factor in this could have been the average age of the crowd which must have been knocking on towards 30 at least. Next up was my favourite, ‘Korean Bodega’, which is a simple rock tune but sounds great all the same.

From here on in it was a bizarre mix of chilled, laid-back, lounge-style songs interwoven with the more ballsy rock numbers. A strange combination, no doubt, and unfortunately it had the effect of getting you dancing only to have to stop when the next slow schmoozey number came on.

Not being completely au-fait with their repertoire I can only list some of the songs played as possibly being; Up on the Hill, Big Night Out, Love Unlimited, 10th Street, Loco, City Boy, Mi Corazon, Southside, Girl with the Scar, King of New York, Scooby Snacks, thingyholder, Where the Bums Go, and a very well done Hendrix-cover, Foxy Lady. There were definitely a lot of songs played and played superbly too….

….however, I must mention my dislike of bands who play with an occasional backing track. It’s a bit too much like seeing Britney Spears miming on stage, in my opinion. Yes, The FLC are only a 3-piece so it’s hard to play stuff live but couldn’t they get a guest guitarist in? After all, they had someone in to play saxophone on a few songs. To me this was summed up during Scooby Snacks, I think, when Huey was singing – but not playing his guitar – while the main riff was coming from the backing track.

On the plus side I must say that I was very impressed with Frankie on drums. For a big lad he gave it everything and was absolutely superb, hammering out machine gun beats quickly followed by delicately soft rhythms. ‘Fast’ on bass / keyboards / trumpet / computer / everything else was always busy and didn’t seem to do anything wrong. And Huey on guitar was a pleasure to watch too. I’ve always thought he was under-rated as a guitarist and he does what he does very well, perfect for their style of music and a treat for anyone who likes wah-wah.

The banter with the crowd was there too, as were lots of mentions of being from NY and also some political posturing which was maybe a little out of place at this sort of show.

To end with they played ‘The Fun Lovin Criminal’ which was as close as they came to bringing the house down. It was a very good show and great value for money, certainly a band I would recommend catching live even if you’re not a huge fan.

@Jimbob247247

10 September 2005: The Mission – Rock City, Nottingham, England, UK

10 September 2005: The Mission - Rock City, Nottingham, England, UK

It’s been many years since I went to a Mission gig and so I was quite looking forward to seeing Wayne and company performing once again at Rock City and I had no problem whatsoever tearing myself away from the wannabe sound-a-likes on X-Factor to listen to some real live music.

The last time The Mission played Rock City the gig was moved to the smaller venue of the Rescue Rooms at the last minute and prior to that Wayne had been touring the smaller venues of Europe and the UK with his one man show. Consequently, I was expecting the gig to be either in the Basement or the Rig. So it was a pleasant surprise to find myself in Rock City’s main hall together with a larger than expected audience of Mission fans.

I arrived at about 8:30, so unfortunately missed the support act, Elusive and only just had time to get a beer in before the lights went down and the intro music began at about 8:50.

The Mission took to the stage with Wayne Hussey stood at the centre wearing shades and a low slung guitar and surrounded by burning candles (“Lighting the Candles” tour). With the crowd roaring their approval, we were into the first number, “Afterglow”.

This was closely followed by “Evangeline”, “Hymm” and “Light That Pours”, before Wayne greeted us with a cheery, “Is everyone alright?” The gig really took off at this point for me, with “Severina”, Wayne leaving most of the “Severina” chorus vocals to the crowd.

“Heaven knows” followed, after which Wayne declared that he was bored and “What do you want us to play next?” The crowd answered as one. “Serpent’s Kiss”. And off they went, the crowd singing along, arms aloft, while the mosh pit went wild.

Wayne continued asking for requests to the approval of the audience and we got “Amelia”, “Butterfly on a Wheel” and the fast version of “Garden of Delight”. “Naked and Savage” was proceeded by Wayne asking us whether we wanted to hear an old one or a new one. The predictable response was “An old one”.

Wayne called a halt to the concert once again and said, “We know what’s next, you don’t” and the band proceeded to give us an awesome rendition of “Beyond the Pale”.

In my opinion I thought The Mission sounded a lot harder than in my previous experience and the songs seemed to have a lot more edge to them than I remembered. This is not a bad thing and a rockier Mission should be seen by the music industry as a blessing. Let’s hope that some of the music press gets behind them again, although I can’t see that happening in the near future.

“Deliverance” ended the set and The Mission left the stage, leaving the crowd baying for more.

After a short delay, Wayne returned to the stage and performed a solo song, “Like a Child Again”, with just him and his guitar. This was followed by the excellent “Wake” and then “Mercenary”.

What I thought was going to be the last song was “Wasteland”. The power from the stage was immense.

With a nod to The Sisters Of Mercy, First And Last And Always track “Marian” (“I hear you calling, Marian”) in the middle, I didn’t think they would top this and they left the stage to thunderous applause.

But top it they did, as after a brief interval, which was filled by the sound of stomping feet, they reappeared to blow us away with “Tower Of Strength”. The pyramid building, that had been unexpectedly sporadic all evening, suddenly took on added urgency and before long the crowd were one and two high and screaming “You are a tower of strength, to me!”

And then it was all over. As the lights went up, the crowd was still calling for an encore. The Mission had left the stage.

I wandered off the dance floor towards the bar and another refreshing pint. Despite the excellent gig, I found myself feeling a little morose while standing at the bar. Partially because it was over, but also because of the, compared to past glories, lack of a following.

Although there were more people in attendance than I had expected, it still seems a massive shame that the band should be so unappreciated when lesser talents fill much larger venues.

I heard various rumours afterwards. One said that the band thought it had been the best night of the tour and another that Wayne was unhappy that the crowd had not been as involved as he’d expected. I don’t know how much of either was true, but from where I was standing, neither the crowd nor the band could have given much more to a very entertaining evening.

If the Mission come to visit your local venue you could do far worse than going along and giving them your support.

Oh, and if you want to see what they’re like before you go, you could do far worse than splash out on their new DVD “Lighting The Candles”, which should be released sometime this month.