29 March 2006: Ginger & the Sonic Circus – Islington Academy, London, England, UK

Travelled from Malta to London.

Aim – To see Ginger & the Sonic Circus perform live at Islington Academy on the 29th March 2006.

Results – Brilliant, electrifying , awesome …..

Anyone who missed it. I feel sorry for you!!

Ginger plus all other 10 musicians have an unearthly magic which is so powerful on stage, it’s electric. The first notes of “UGLY” from the latest album “Valor del Corazon”, put everyone in a lovely mood and from then on it was just sing, dance and cheer.

Guitars, keyboards, drums, some brilliant sax playing, backing vocals and of course the one and only Ginger filled the stage with vibrant riffs and flying dreadlocks.

Time just flew and all wanted more.

“10 Flaws Down” and “The Man who cheated Death” ended the set before the encore with that intense passion only Ginger’s voice can bring out.

The encore included covers from Elvis Costello, Bowie and the Wildhearts track “29 x the Pain”, with a painful looking Cyborg Show.

Luckily for us our rendezvous with Ginger did not end here! We got to meet him and the rest of the band and got to know Ginger and Connie Bloom.

The first word that comes to mind about Ginger is Vibrant. He radiates positive energy and his love for music shows in all his words. The world needs people like him, especially the music one.

He was flying to New York a few days later and we are sure the New Yorkers will have a great time.

Good luck to Ginger and we always want to hear more and thanks for being who you are!

All you people who did not buy Ginger’s CD go and get it now!!

© Spider and Liz (Sliema, MALTA)

27 March 2006: Ginger & the Sonic Circus – Rescue Rooms, Nottingham, England, UK

27 March 2006:  Ginger & the Sonic Circus - Rescue Rooms, Nottingham, England, UK

This gig was meant to be at Rock City but it appeared to have been bumped around the corner to its smaller sister-venue, The Rescue Rooms. I’m not aware of any reason being given so I can only presume that it was due to low ticket sales meaning that a half-empty Rock City wasn’t considered a viable option.

Arriving mid-way through the first support act, Tim Smith (with Ginger and Jon Poole assisting on guitars), I was shocked to find the place packed but almost totally stationary. Not knowing anything about Tim Smith beforehand I can only comment on what I saw and what I saw wasn’t good. Ginger and Jon both had faces on that suggested they’d found a quid and lost a fiver while Tim was sat between them playing a bass drum and a guitar, looking like a barmy science teacher. As for the music, all I’ll say is that I think the only person who could’ve danced to the seemingly random collection of notes would’ve been Ian Curtis but he’s dead. The banter with the crowd also did nothing to change my opinion that Mr Smith was a total nutter.

Which seamlessly brings us onto the equally nutty second support act, Psycho Cyborgs. This consisted of two heavily tattooed blokes skewering themselves through the arm, cheek and stomach before passing an electrical current through the wounds. Oh, and then carrying a female dwarf off the stage, I assume by using some piercings of her own although I couldn’t quite see. Not pleasant but still less painful to watch than Tim Smith.

Ginger & The Sonic Circus came on stage to a backing track of “G.T.T.” from his latest album, Valor Del Corazon. This was no ordinary Ginger show because with 9 band members (Ginger plus 2 more guitars, 1 bass, 1 drums, 1 keyboards/percussion, 1 sax and 2 female backing singers) it truly was a bit of a circus. They opened with a great big stomper, “Ugly”, before playing a set taken almost entirely from the VDC album.

Thankfully Ginger had cheered up by now and told us that he was determined to improve his mood even further by having the occasional slurp of booze. Banter with the crowd was plentiful as usual, although unusually crowd dancing did seem minimal.

One of the biggest highlights for me was hearing the old SilverGinger5 song, “Sonic Shake”. While this new album isn’t bad I can’t ignore the fact that a lot of the songs aren’t particularly strong. They might have a Ginger-trademark good intro or catchy chorus, but the rest of the tune is often quite ordinary.

Towards the end of the show Ginger got around to introducing the 9 members of the band whilst they all jammed and, just as he warned us it might, this took some time with 6 solo’s to get through. Moments such as this, not to mention the Santana-esque instrumental bit in “10 Flaws Down”, reminded me of Spinal Tap where they covered up an absence of tunes by playing a freeform jazz odyssey. It’s a mystery to me how Ginger and co. will make money on this tour with 9 band members and I think the line-up could have been trimmed to 4 or 5 people without significantly detracting from the show.

It almost goes without saying that the biggest cheer of the night was saved for “29 x The Pain”, the old Wildhearts anthem. This is a perfect example of what Ginger used to do best – a quality song from start to finish, only a couple of minutes long, no filler, and guaranteed to get the crowd jumping.

I really hate to be anything less than complimentary about Ginger – a.k.a. God – but this show wasn’t one of his best for me, purely in terms of material. Hopefully he might get back to basics one day once he’s got this big-band phase out of his system and give us a little more quality with a little less quantity.

Approximate set-list; Ugly / Yeah, Yeah, Yeah / My Friend The Enemy / Drinking In The Daytime / This Is Only A Problem / The Drunken Lord Of Everything / 10 Flaws Down ( – even more extended than normal with reggae and rap parts) / Sonic Shake / Bulb / Only Lonely / Mother City / The Man Who Cheated Death / Encore / Don’t Worry ‘Bout Me / Answering Machine (The Replacements) / Listen To The Music (Doobie Brothers) / Pump It Up (Elvis Costello) / 29 x The Pain


24 March 2006: Vivien Scotson – Palace Theatre, Kilmarnock, Scotland, UK

Well it was good to be at The Palace again. The Cafe/Bar is up the stairs from the main auditorium, it is quite intimate and somewhat reminiscent of the old style “Uni” bar, more so tonight as The Palace was hosting the third in a series of four live music events run by “My first Cult” who are described as “an online arts resource based in East Ayrshire but embracing local culture from all over Scotland”.

This is a wonderful opportunity to showcase new talent and Vivien was one of tonight’s featured artists, a delightful contrast to the other three “boy” bands appearing.

Vivien opened with a rich, haunting rendition of Patsy Cline’s “Crazy”, which my daughters were still humming on the train home, followed by some of her own material.

Vivien’s own lyrics are insightful and real. My personal favourite “No Strings” struck a highly resonant chord. Her style is quite individual but very easy on the ear and we were all sad that she only had a half hour set.

It only seems like yesterday that we were at The Palace for Donnie’s concert on May 7th last year – but what a long way we’ve all come since then!

Vivien still has a few dates to play between now and the middle of June, I can highly recommend her to anyone who has a chance to catch a performance – a definite five star rating.

Set list; Crazy (Patsy Cline) / No Strings / Blues Bar Room Brawl / Face On The Wall / It’ll Get Better / Better Be Home Soon (Crowded House?)

© Sarah Ellen: Donnie Munro Website Forum. With kind thanks to Vivien Scotson for permission to use this review.

24 March 2006: Levellers – Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton, England, UK

24 March 2006: Levellers - Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton, England, UK

As I entered the venue I was given a yellow piece of paper with the words “Welcome to the best live act this planet has ever seen”.

Well no, actually. But the point is it should have done (It said, “No stage diving. No crowd surfing and no blah, blah, blah…” and was one of those “you’ve come here for a good night out but we’re going to spoil it” type things. Unusually, I don’t think it banned the use of cameras or recording equipment, but I was glad I’d left my camera at home as the security search on the way in was pretty tight), because that, without question, is what the Levellers are.

Before even finding the venue I had a nice run round Wolverhampton, trying to find the box office to pick up the ticket (it eventually turned out to be in a pub just around the corner from the venue). I was impressed by the general helpfulness of the population. Even the ticket tout guided me in the right direction.

After entering the venue, I made straight for the bar (after a quick trip to the toilet where I encountered three blokes who called everyone Dave and didn’t seem to be able to find the way out, until they realised they’d run out of beer) and from there moved to the main hall, which was by this time, already packed out.

I took up my position about three quarters of the way back from the stage and just caught the last couple of Damien Dempsey numbers. He seemed to be entertaining the crowd very well, although I am totally unfamiliar with his work.

Damien Dempsey had warmed the crowd up well and there was an expectant buzz about the place as we all waited for the Levellers to appear.

At about a quarter past nine the Levellers appeared and launched straight into “England My Home”. Wulfrun Hall went wild like it had been starved of good music since time began. Jeremy bounced up and down and the front half of the hall bounced up and down in unison.

We were then treated to “15 Years”, during which Jon passed at least one bra to Simon, “Last Man Alive” and “The Road”, before Simon, wearing his black cowboy hat, took over the vocal duties for “For Us All”.

Mark was enjoying a bit of banter between songs and Jon and Jeremy were swapping sides of the stage a lot of the time and generally creating a lot of movement. Matt was looking manic at times on the keyboards.

We then enjoyed “Wheels” and “What A Beautiful Day”, before Simon was left alone on the stage to give us a storming version of “When Love Runs Out Of Time”, with the crowd actually giving it the respect it deserves for once instead of nattering all the way through it. In fact I was generally impressed by the attentiveness of the crowd to the music at this venue, which made a nice change, although there was a group of lads close by who seemed more interested in shouting about their knitting patterns all night. Thankfully, they became too drunk to do anything but concentrate on standing up by the end of the evening.

Simon was rejoined on stage by the rest of the band as we went into a rousing “Men An Tol” and then “Hope Street”. I’m not sure what happened with “Hope Street”, but it seemed a little slower than normal and not as punchy. Perhaps it was just me.

As Charlie started the count in to the next number he banged his sticks together “one” and then again “two” and then missed the third bang of the sticks completely and then fell about laughing. At the next attempt, composure regained, we were launched into “Confess”. I love this song and it shows that the Levellers new material sits seamlessly alongside the older classics.

“Forgotten Ground” followed, which is the first time I’ve heard the electric version for ages. A welcome return to the set list.

Storming versions of “Carry Me”, “Dirty Davey”, “The Game” and “The Riverflow” closed the set.

But shortly after, Boaksey appeared in what looked like full make up and with his Didgeridoo for the intro to the classic “3 Friends”, which was followed by “One Way”.

By this time the lights on the volume meter near the back of the hall were firmly stuck on red. The louder the better.

An unintentionally extended version of “Liberty” followed. This got off to a rocking start, with the crowd going wild and bouncing up and down. The band seemed to take off at this point, moving about the stage and spinning around with great energy, until we lost one guitar to a slippery floor as Mark took a tumble. The rest kept it going as best they could, with broad smiles on their faces, and it went into an extended version with a lack of bass while Jeremy hauled Mark back to his feet. Mark slowly regained his composure (and the missing guitar part returned to the mix) and laughed his way into the final verse. I think most of the venue was unaware that anything had happened.

They left the stage to roars of approval, and returned moments later with Simon introducing the Levellers new tumbling act, Mr Mark Chadwick.

They finished with “What You Know”, Jeremy screaming “faster, faster, faster” into his mic until the band were a blur of speed.

They took the applause and left the delighted audience to go and find a well deserved drink.

If you’ve never seen the Levellers live go and see them, you don’t know what you’re missing. If you’ve seen them before, go and see them again, they only ever get better.

Setlist; England My Home / 15 Years / Last Man Alive / The Road / For Us All / Sell Out / Wheels / What A Beautiful Day / When Love Runs Out Of Time / Men An Tol / Hope Street / Confess / Forgotten Ground / Carry Me / Dirty Davey / The Game / The Riverflow / Break / / 3 Friends, One Way, Liberty (extended Mark takes a tumble mix) / Break / What You Know.