Category: Music to my Ears

Moseley Folk Festival

Once again this weekend our beloved village was home to a 3 day festival; bringing bands, bars and brightness to the park.

You may recall I blogged about the previous one – Jazz, Funk and Soul, back in July.

This time it was the turn of the Folk Festival which, over the years, has become less about just folk. Gaz Coombes of SuperGrass played and Sunday night was headlined by The Monkees!

I honestly can’t comment on the music, as it was just a backdrop to a wonderful couple of days in magical surroundings. We were blessed with gorgeous weather on Sunday and it totally made it; chilling out on picnic blankets with friends drinking lots of pink wine and soaking up the late summer sun.

Here it is in pictures – we didn’t head down until early evening on Saturday.

 

Moseley Folk Festival 2

Moseley folk festival bar

Beer barrels

Festival merch

Remember I said on my Hat-urday post that I barely wear my 70s floppy hat? I put that right!

70s floppy hat

Lots of face painting and people looking pretty (I did ask these people if I could share their photographs!)

Face painting menu

Face painted Dad and Daughter

Face painted man

Sunday was nice enough for me to bust out another hat I haven’t worn yet – the straw cowboy one.

Straw cowboy hat selfie

The entrance to the park is so green and secluded; you’d never know it was just off the main road.

Entrace to Moseley Park

Entry to Moseley Park

I drank a lot of wine.

Rose wine

Accosted a Morris Dancer for photographs (and swapped hats with him!)

Morris dancer 2

Morris dancer

Morris dancer and me

Had to have a little lie down on the blanket (I blame the wine)

Mirror shades selfie

Look at the weather – just gorgeous!

Moseley Park trees

Got my face painted.

Me facepaint

What a fabulous time we had!

Moseley Folk Festival

The decline of the Los Angeles rock scene

My musical heritage is very different to my husband’s. He grew up in the days of Motley Crue, Skid Row and Bon Jovi – where the songs were big and the hair even bigger. These bands cut their teeth in the bars of West Hollywood, playing early gigs and drinking until they were carried out.

Sunset Blvd

We first went to LA for a whistle stop 3 days as part of a bigger West Coast trip. I didn’t understand the appeal, as I didn’t have the history that he had. But seeing his face as he walked into The Rainbow was a picture, and one I was happy to be part of.

Rainbow bar and grill outside

Rainbow bar and grill inside

We’ve been 3 more times since then. Apart from Birmingham, LA is the place in the world I’ve spent most time. The second and third time my love grew. I was more into rock music by then, and loved the history of the venues, even though I wasn’t around for the music at the time.

Whisky a Go Go

Seeing live bands play stages that had been graced by The Doors with Jim Morrison in the 60s. Sitting in the booth in The Rainbow which features in the November Rain video. Watching Motley Crue play on Sunset Boulevard when they closed the road for the festival – with the full roller coaster drum kit set up. All very special times. Chilling by the hotel pool in the day.

Mondrian Los Angeles pool

Seeing Lionel Richie in the hotel foyer and overlooking the exclusive Virgin Atlantic party from our bedroom. Watching Vince Neill of Motley Crue getting progressively more drunk on champagne in the hotel bar. Even seeing The Saturdays being interviewed by the pool. I’m not into celebrity, but there’s still something exciting about seeing these people sharing your airspace.

By the fourth time it was clear that things were starting to decline.

The rock scene is disappearing. There’s a big rise in R&B and hip hop acts playing WeHo venues. And that brings a different type of crowd – one who perhaps is less tolerant of the rockers with their long hair and tight trousers. Venues have closed. Not just the House of Blues – that’s just the latest one. The Roxy, Red Rock Bar and Cat Club all closed within about a year of each other. Cat Club became an Irish bar. That goes way against the history of the Strip.

Boutiques and restaurants and plazas are popping up.

Sunset Plaza

There’s a lot of money in the area; Ferraris and Lamborghinis are common place out side restaurants. And because the Strip is such a small part of WeHo, and indeed WeHo itself isn’t that big, space is at a prime. Developers see big opportunities for big bucks. Rock tourism (and rock locals) aren’t the big bucks spenders. Which is why places like the House of Blues are being torn down and replaced with condos and hotels.

Sunset Strip Music Festival – which started off honouring rockers such as Ozzy Osbourne and Motley Crue – now hosts electronic dance DJs.

The only places that left on the Strip now are the Roxy, the Whisky, the Viper Room and the Rainbow. Sure there are a few other bars in the area as well, but in a town that used to be renowned for partying, most venues are fairly quiet in the week. I think, as much as it pains me to say it, it’s only a matter of time before the remaining places start to close too.

It’s a long way to go and a lot of money to spend to get a watered down version of what it once was – especially when you’ve done all the tourist places and seen the other parts of LA you want to see.

Time for a new music mecca!

Nashville

We’re already looking towards “Music City”.

Nashville, Tennessee – yee-hah!

Flashback Friday – Sunset Strip Music Festival 2011

Four years ago, right now, we were in Los Angeles. More specifically in West Hollywood. Sunset Boulevard (The Strip) had been closed down for a street festival that was being headlined by Motley Crue. Husband smiled so much I thought his face might fall off.

We’d been to LA twice before – the previous year was in June. We’d seen the festival advertised and said we’d definitely go in 2011, not knowing who was playing. When it was announced that it would be Motley Crue it was amazing – they’re my husband’s favourite EVER band. Knowing that we would see them on The Strip where it all began for them 30 years previously was amazing.

We went to the honouree event at the House of Blues (which you can read about here) but the gig was what was going to be really special.

The day was scorching hot with blue skies and wall to wall sun. As are most days in Los Angeles (lucky swines!)

Sunset Strip music festival view

The street had been closed form the night before while the organisers set everything up, and it soon got really busy.

Sunset Strip music festival view 2

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This was the year that Tommy Lee’s drum kit was set up on a rollercoaster loop the loop. We never for one minute imagined they’d build that set up outside. Oh but they did!

Tommy Lee rollercoaster Sunset Strip Music Festival

As darkness fell we bagged ourselves a good viewing spot ready to enjoy a once in a lifetime show.

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And it really was amazing! The sound, the pyro, the stage show, everything!

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Tommy played “Home Sweet Home” on a mirrored piano.

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See his drumkit at the bottom of the loop the loop?

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It went up and over, with him still playing!

Motley Crue Sunset Strip Music Festival

The atmosphere was electric.

Motley Crue Sunset Strip Music Festival

Afterwards we went into the legendary Rainbow Bar and ate pizza in one of the booths.

Inside the Rainbow Sunset Strip Music Festival

Bumped into a few famous faces – yes that’s Ron Jeremy!

Me with Ron Jeremy

What a trip that was. Unfortunately the LA rock scene is dying…my post tomorrow explains more…

Goodbye House of Blues Los Angeles

House of Blues Los Angeles closed it’s doors last week – yet another iconic music venue which is no more.

  House of Blues Los Angeles closed

I went to House of Blues a few times during my trips to LA. I saw Motley Crue being honoured there as part of Sunset Strip Music Festival exactly 4 years ago today.

Motley Crue at House of Blues Los Angeles

Nikki Sixx, swoon…

Nikki Sixx at House of Blues Los Angeles

Surviving members of The Doors played on the same night. That’s pretty legendary!

Steel Panther, poo-pooed by many for being a comedy band but who are actually great performers and musicians, played a regular Monday night residency.

Steel Panther at House of Blues Los Angeles

The after parties following the shows were amazing; raucous, loud and drunken.

The building itself is so cool – looking like a beat up old ramshackle tin shed, it’s size is deceptive.

House of Blues Los Angeles

With a restaurant area, large gig space and balcony bars it was a really great, quirky, unusual place serving Deep South inspired food, good measures and quality sound.

It’s sad that it’s closed. It’s even more sad that the building will be torn down and replaced with hotels, condos and entertainment spaces. West Hollywood is losing it’s musical edge and appeal; the history which made it the iconic hang out being plastered over with bricks and mortar to reap financial reward.

Moseley Jazz Funk and Soul Festival

Moseley, just outside Birmingham, has a private park. To use the park you need to buy a key. It’s only around £45 a year, so is pretty good value.

You wouldn’t know the park existed if you were just walking through Moseley. The main entrance is down a little alleyway. There are also 2 other gated entrances, on other roads.

The great thing about it for me, apart from the fact that it’s hidden and you have to pay, is that it’s wild. No carefully manicured flowerbeds. No children’s playground. Just expanses of green, a massive pool, wildlife and trees that are hundreds of years old. It’s a proper little oasis.

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Twice a year Moseley holds 3 day festivals in the park. Jazz, funk and soul in July, and folk in September. This weekend just gone was the turn of funk soul and jazz.

We had no intention of going as musically it’s not really our thing, until we heard that the original Friday night headliners had pulled out, and Public Enemy had been booked in their place. Public Enemy! American Hip Hop Royalty, playing right in my hood! Well that was one not to be missed.

So glad we went along. The park was set up beautifully; with bars, food stalls, face painting, stalls selling hats, glasses, guitars, dreamcatchers, vintage clothes and more.

Moseley Jazz Funk and Soul festival

Moseley Jazz Funk and Soul festival

The trees were strung with fairy lights and people came armed with deckchairs and rugs to sit in the chilled out surroundings and soak up the gorgeously sunny day and amazing atmosphere.

Moseley Jazz Funk and Soul festival

I bought some new sunglasses.

Catseye sunglasses

And also a dreamcatcher.

Dreamcather stall

How good is this mural of Public Enemy? My shorts are from F&F; they’d only arrived that morning.

Public Enemy mural

The only disappointment of the day was the food. With so many great street food vendors in and around Birmingham I had high expectations. But choice was limited to about 6 or 7 stalls, and the quality wasn’t that good. I had some lukewarm noodles and a greasy burger which I left half of. At £13 for two things I didn’t really enjoy, the concensus was “could do better”.

I threw myself into the spirit with some glitter facepaint and crystal bindis.

Face painting at Moseley Soul Funk and Jazz Festival

We watched beatboxing and breakdancing.

Beatboxing

As dusk started to fall the atmosphere turned into a big full on party as Public Enemy came on stage and absolutely stormed it.

Moseley Jazz Funk and Soul festival

Moseley Jazz Funk and Soul festival

By Saturday morning I regretted only having bought a day ticket, as I could hear goings on from my balcony. Even with a lot of the music not being my thing, I’d have been happy to just chill in the park and let the fabulous atmosphere wash over me.

Yesterday finished with Gregory Porter. What a booking for a little surburban festie! I’m told he was fabulous.

Yet another reason why I love living in Moseley!

Deprived of Dave and the Foos Crew

So the Foo Fighters have cancelled the rest of their European tour, including Saturday’s Wembley gig which I have tickets for. I kind of have mixed feelings. Obviously I’m gutted not to be seeing them – it was going to be a great day out, hopefully in the sun, with friends. The support acts of Iggy Pop and Royal Blood were bands I was really looking forward to seeing (having never seen either before). I’ve never been to a gig at Wembley, and the only time I’ve ever seen the Foos I was up in the gods at the O2 arena – literally 2 rows from the very very back, so I was looking forward to getting more up close and personal. BUT Dave Grohl is a performer, a rockstar, and delivering a set from the confines of a wheelchair just isn’t him. He wouldn’t be enjoying it, the crowd wouldn’t enjoy it as much (despite what people are saying) and the band wouldn’t have that same interaction. Plus, Dave’s future health and wellbeing has to be priority. No point struggling on and doing himself more damage.

I think that cancelling all of the UK dates is the right thing to do. He couldn’t pick and choose one or two.

Being as I currently still feel rough post-Download (whether I actually have a touch of illness or the worst hangover ever isn’t clear, although lack of appetite suggests the former, as I’m usually ALWAYS hungry!) it’s not the end of the world for me (remind me of that on Saturday!). The thought of a lie in at the weekend is all that’s keeping me going, and it also means I get to spend Father’s Day on Sunday with my Dad. Financially I could do without the spends, as Download was very expensive. At least I’m not out of pocket. The hotel we had booked has a 24 hour cancellation fee, and a friend of ours was driving, so no train tickets booked. I might have had a very different opinion if it was going to cost me money!

I’m sure the dates will be rearranged, rather than completely cancelled, and I can only hope that the support acts can still support, and it’s still a Saturday and I can still make it. We’ll see what happens. Perhaps I was optimistic thinking I could do two weekends in a row. I’ll be even more excited by the time they do reschedule!

Meanwhile I have a sneaking suspicion that Foos will headline Download next year (and I may have already booked a hotel, because I had so much fun this year!)

Yet again proving himself to be the nicest man in rock, here was Dave’s message to the fans (accessed by clicking on the “broken heart” on a picture of Operation).

Dave Grohl cancels Foos tour

“Hey everyone….

Your old pal, Dave here. Been a while, eh? It’s been one hell of a year, that’s for sure. Looks like we’ve got some serious catching up to do! Hmmm, let’s see…..where do I begin?

Drumroll, please….

The funniest thing happened to me the other day in Sweden!

Two songs into our set at Ullevi Stadium in Gothenburg, I made a mad dash to the right of the stage during MONKEY WRENCH to shred some tasty licks for the kids up front. It was a beautiful night, beautiful stadium, 52,000 screaming people….dream gig! Well….wait for it….I definitely shredded something (ZING!) Wound up feet first over the Edge (pun intended), dropping about 12 feet, dislocating my ankle and snapping my fibula like an old pair of take out chopsticks. Whoopsie daisy. Not good. Without realizing the extent of my injuries, I stood up to get back onstage and crumbled like a sack of Joe Theismanns (look it up, kiddies). That shit was B-R-O-K-E.

As I lay there on my back, I just thought, “Are you kidding me? We haven’t even gotten to the screamy bit of the song and the gig is fucking OVER?” So, I asked for a microphone and told the audience I’d get fixed up and come right back to finish the show ASAP. Shock? Probably. But, I couldn’t stand the thought of such a perfect night going to waste! I looked at our drummer Taylor and said, “Bust out some Chevy Metal covers while they fix me up!” So, as the band kicked in to “Stay With Me” by The Faces, the medics poured me onto a stretcher, took me off to the side, cut my favorite pants off (so bummed) and popped my ankle back into place. I asked if I could get back onstage to finish the show, but they said I needed a cast (which was 20 minutes away at the hospital) to hold my ankle in place. So I looked my EMT, Johan in the eyes and said “Well, then you’re coming up there with me right now and holding it in place until they can bring the cast here. Ready?” He stared at me wide-eyed for a second and said, “OK, lets’ go…”

I don’t know who was more scared, me or Johan. 5 minutes later, I don’t know who was having more fun, me or Johan. (I actually looked at him in between songs and said “This is pretty fun, isn’t it?” He smiled and nodded yes.)

Like clockwork, the cast arrived, I walked offstage for a song or two as they put it on me, and then came back to finish the gig. Let’s just say that singing our song “Walk” with a straight face was pretty goddamned hard. “These Days” was a good one, too. (Easy for you to say! Your leg has never been broken!) All in all, it was without a doubt the single most bizarre Foo Fighters show in the entire 20 years of being a band. Hands down. What seemed like a tragedy at first turned into a triumph, and we all walked away with a new sense of appreciation for what we’ve got…

Straight to the hospital for x-rays, where we finally saw the extent of the damage. That’s when things got really real. I was told I needed surgery to fix the break. I decided to fly back to London and find a doctor that could see me ASAP. (Thanks for the recommendation, Paul!) An MRI and a few x-rays later, we set a date and prepared for the operation.

Operation went well. Had a great team and nice stay in hospital. Good curry, too! Thank you to everyone involved.

So….here I am, recovering with 6 metal screws in my leg, thinking about a lifetime of holding up TSA lines from here to Kalamazoo….damn.

Here’s the not so witty bit…….My doctors have advised me to lay low for a while. The most important thing now is for me to recover from the surgery, to keep my leg elevated so as to keep swelling down and prevent any infection/complication that could do long term damage. I’m not out of the woods yet, folks…

Which means, and it kills me to say it…..the doctors have told us to cancel shows. I’m really so sorry, guys. You know I hate to do it, but I’m afraid it’s just not physically possible for me at the moment. We’re doing our best right now to work out a plan, so bear with us. You know we’re good for our word. But for now, I need to make sure we have YEARS of gigs ahead of us….

You have always stood by our band, and we will always stand by you. Like I say at every show, we wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you guys. And I mean that. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. And I will do everything I can to come back and give you a night to remember for the rest of your lives AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

Until then…my sincerest apologies.

Your friend, Dave”

You can’t be mad about that. Well, you can, but a) it would be pointless, and b) he’s hardly done it on purpose!

Let’s have some cool pics of Dave and the band to finish off with.

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Foo-Fighters-Logo

I say “GET WELL DAVE!”

Download festival (in the rain)

My worst fear about going to a festival is rain. And mud. And basically all of the associated icky, cold, not fun, wet parts of bad weather. It’s hard to get excited about anything in the rain.

Last year at Download it was glorious. Which made sitting around, watching bands, having drinks and chilling out on the grass all lovely and nice and how summer should be.

This year I was determined to remain optimistic in the face of adversity – despite all of the weather reports that were saying otherwise, I was sure it wouldn’t rain. At most it might be cool and, even if there were showers, it had been so dry in the lead up that the rain would just drain away.

Wrong. The heavens opened on Friday night like someone had turned a tap on. It bucketed down! And by Saturday the whole of Download was churned up into a big squelchy muddy field.

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I learnt some stuff this weekend. I learnt that wellies are much more comfortable than I ever remembered (I haven’t had any since I was about 8). I also learnt that it’s kind of fun splashing around in puddles when you know you’re protected. I learnt that paying £100 extra for a guest area pass is most definitely worth it if you want to sit down under cover and not queue ages for a stinky muddy toilet (although I seriously hope the drinking water and toilet water came from separate sources!)

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The lesson that jagerbombs and Sambuca shots will lead to a whole body hangover that lasts almost as long as the festival was a harder one to handle.

Jagerbombs

Most of all, I had fun. The kind of fun that makes your sides hurt with laughter. The kind of fun that you only truly have when everyone is on the same wavelength. Daft fun, sing-a-long fun, screaming til you start to lose your voice fun.

Me at Download

I didn’t see as many bands as I expected to, which was partly due to the weather (we had to abandon Judas Priest and missed all of Slipknot on Friday) but also partly because Download is about more than that. It’s about catching up with friends, hanging out, talking crap and soaking up life. Also because it was always mainly about the Sunday line up, for us, and we knew that’s when we would find a spot and barely move.

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Friday started off badly due to poor organisation – collecting our wristbands took 2 hours this year, when last year it had only taken 10 minutes. The set up just wasn’t equipped to deal with the number of people and the process (the festival organisers had introduced a cashless system this year which meant that each wristband had to be uploaded with the pre-paid cash on arrival and there was one person at one computer doing it). We missed a couple of bands as a result just catching the end of Lacuna Coil.

Marilyn Manson on Saturday was as weirdly brilliant as ever (although I’m hearing conflicting stories that he was terrible, so maybe I was really drunk!)

Our Sunday started with Backyard Babies on Stage 2 – kicking off with their new song and delivering a corking set. Billy Idol was brilliant (and looking fab; my childhood crush doesn’t abate!) Slash with Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators was as cool as expected (throwing in a couple of GnR classics too – brilliant!) Motley Crue delivered the goods more so than expected considering the car crash from Sweden Rocks the week before and the stage show and pyro made up for Vince’s missing vocals.

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Kiss were a blast of noise and fire and make up and everything you would expect – sounding and looking great.

What I will say for Download is that it’s an incredibly friendly festival. No attitude, no trouble – just like minded people with no alternative agenda enjoying themselves and throwing themselves wholeheartedly into the action. And fair play to the organisers for having a shedload of hay on hand to try and make up for the mud – it certainly helped! In spite of the fact I originally said I wouldn’t be going next year, there’s a very real chance that in 365 days I’ll be rounding up my 2016 highlights – hopefully with less hangover.

Hey, Ho – Let’s Go! A review of Richie Ramone at The Oobleck, Birmingham

Here’s a funny story about The Ramones (actually it’s mainly about me).

Up until about 10 years ago I’d never heard of The Ramones. Sure, I knew some of their songs (Baby I Love You, Blitzkreig Bop – which I actually thought was called “Hey Ho, Let’s Go” until last night) but I didn’t know who sang them. I certainly didn’t know they were an iconic group with a cult following. So much so, that when Ramones t-shirts started appearing in High Street fashion stores like Primark about 12 years ago, I actually thought they were a new band…

Fast forward to the present day, and years of musical education and appreciation mean I know a lot more now than I did back then. I know, for example, that there are no surviving members of the original group. I know that Richie was the drummer from 1983 and also wrote some of the songs. And I also know, thanks to the power of Youtube, that his solo album is an absolute corker.

Which is why I found myself at new-ish Birmingham venue The Oobleck at the Custard Factory in Digbeth last night. The Oobleck and Alfie Birds are sister venues – the former being the gig space and the latter being the bar/food area (although they do also have bands playing upstairs sometimes).

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Together they used to be the Medicine Bar, legendary for dance music all nighters and world famous DJs, but that incarnation came to an end around 10 years ago. Sometimes, they used to drain the pool on big event nights. I thought the floating lilies were a nice touch.

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The Oobleck/Alfie Birds has just celebrated it’s first birthday, but this is the first time I’ve been to the gig space.

Starting with a (very) brief mention of the second support band – Venrez. They’re just alright. Bit of an Alice in Chains vibe going on musically, but a poor man’s version. I’ve actually seen them supporting other bands before, about 18 months ago, and the best I can say about them is that they sounded better this time around. But the singer has no charisma or stage presence, and is also a pretty unpleasant dude – on the wrong side of arrogant and cocky when he really has no cause to be.

Having already proven myself to have no musical qualifications to even justify talking about anything Ramone-ish, here goes.

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Wow (profound, I know). Richie loped onto the stage with menace; he’s a hulk of a man in the height department with the shoulder width of two men.

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Splitting his time between vocals and drums he never missed a note or a beat – snarling and growling out the songs with real punk passion. He has a great voice, wasted purely as a drummer, so it was great to see him front of stage, engaging with the crowd, telling everyone to come forward to the barrier and reaching out to them. His drumming, too, was amazing (as you’d expect) – really passionate and loud and noisy and energetic. Because the focus was on him, the kit was further towards the front of the stage than is usual at a gig, which gave a great opportunity to properly watch his performance. His energy never faltered from beginning to end.

Lead guitarist Alex Kane, who I’m told is something of a legend who has worked with a multitude of the greats including Slash and Alice Cooper, was really fun to watch.

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Jumping about like a lunatic, crazy blond and black hair flying, he thrashed his guitar like he was trying to pull the strings off – darting around the stage, playing up to the crowd, posing for great camera shots and basically loving every minute. His lust for the performance really came through and he looked like he was having an amazing time, as well as banging out riffs like it was the last gig of his life.

Clare Misstake – bassist and all round cool mo’fo’ – skinny as a rake, shaved side of head and a glow in the dark quiff at the front of her ponytail, wow was she into it or what? Counting in at the start of each song, her vocals were strong and fearsome and her dexterity with the bass was amazing. Such punk attitude and delivery, she was great to watch.

Finally, Ben Reagan on rhythm guitar and drums (I had to Google him – he was at the other side of the stage and much less visible, both in terms of distance and presence, than the rest of the band) but, needless to say, when Richie was doing vocals only, Ben’s drumming was superb, the passion and pace never faltered.

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It’s fair to say I enjoyed the gig massively – I don’t have the fancy words and eloquent review patter to articulate just how good the music was. A combination of Ramones songs and Richie’s own stuff, it was superb from beginning to end. I didn’t stand still for the whole time and was left wanting more (the only criticism is that the set felt too short and there was no encore, but that’s just me being greedy!)

It may only be May, but it’s already a contender for gig of the year.

Here’s a taster from his current album.

How I wish I was seeing more dates (or going to Camden Rocks this weekend, where Richie, Ginger Wildheart and so many others are playing).

Check out more about Richie on his website http://www.richieramone.com/

Quick word about the Oobleck – the venue space has that urban gritty feel – nothing shiny or fancy about it – which I quite like in a gig venue, and the toilets are unisex (just FYI).

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The sound was very good; no complaints there, but the lighting was AWFUL (a photographer friend of mine who was getting some shots said the same) and what was with all the smoke? Way too much, obscured the view of the stage (you can get a feel for it by the clarity of my photos and I was right at the front!), and made the place smell like a 90s nightclub. Sort it out!

(On the plus side the drinks prices are good – £3.50 for a pint, £3.50 for a vodka and mixer).

Oh, and it has made me realise that I definitely want to go and try some food at Alfie Birds next door – menu looked fab! Review to follow as and when!

Steven Tyler – hot pensioner, country singer and unlikely style icon

When I consider which celebrity wardrobe I’d most like to have, the first person that springs to mind is Steven Tyler. Which is odd considering a) he’s 30 years older than me, and b) he’s a man.

But he’s Just. So. Cool.

When he was one of the judges on American Idol I fell in love with him a little bit (ok, a lot). His charisma, sense of humour, that voice. I also developed a major hair crush. His locks are divine!

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Aerosmith headlined Sunday night at last year’s Download Festival, and only added to my love for him. It had been a heavy weekend of drinking, standing, walking and more drinking and we were all feeling worse for wear but Steven came onto the stage like a whirling dervish – a vision in white, feathers and scarves flowing – and lifted our energy levels through the roof.

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To perform with such fervour at an age when most men are retiring is no mean feat. The stage show was electric, his vocals were perfect, and it was all very special and emotional and an amazing end to an amazing weekend.

And now he’s diversified musically and is set to release a country album. I’m having a bit of an out of character (for me) love in with country at the moment, and the first single of the album is a bit of a corker, right from the first listen.

Back to his wardrobe, which I covet so much.

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Leopard print, layered necklaces, scarves, chunky rings, hair feathers, hats, frills, skinny flares, tailoring? He’s a rock ‘n’ roll hippie dream!

New mantra when getting ready – WSWI…

…Would Steven Wear It?

Gig review – Ginger Wildheart Songs and Words

I’m going to start this review by saying I’m not a Ginger fan. Why was I there then? Well, it was by the seaside, and I never miss a chance to get out of Birmingham! Plus I’m nosy and curious; who doesn’t want to hear the behind the scenes stories of a band you’re engaged with, even if only in some small way?

Let me backtrack. My musical tastes have been very varied over the years; changing and evolving. When I met hubby he introduced me to loads of bands I’d never heard of and, by osmosis (i.e. him playing them so much at home until I had no choice in the matter) I started to pick up on different stuff. As such the evolvement of my musical tastes continued. We’ve been to see many of these bands – often these days at my request – and that was where I first encountered Ginger. He was playing guitar for another of hubby’s musical heroes (Michael Monroe of Hanoi Rocks fame) and ended up in the bar of our hotel later that night. I asked if we could get a photo and he said no and ran off, laughing. I took this to be arrogant rockstar behaviour and, being my judgemental self, declared he was a knob.

Fast forward to 2013, and the Wildhearts touring their debut album, Earth versus The Wildhearts, in full. Again I was seduced by a weekend away with friends – the gig was only part of it. And I’m certainly not averse to their music. I was quite often to be heard singing along at home, and I appreciated the clever lyrics and catchy riffs. But at this gig, in Nottingham Rock City, I got it. The place was packed (it was a sold out show) and the energy of the band and the crowd were just brilliant. The performance was so good and so tight that it was like listening to the CD at home. And I had a fab fab time.

So much so that I asked the hubby if we could see them again, on the same tour, a few weeks later in Kentish Town, which we did.

By now I was having to revise my opinion of Ginger. Because you can’t really like a band if you think one or more members are absolute tossers. And I started to think that, actually, I was probably in the wrong with my initial opinion of him. After all, why should he have acquiesced to a photograph he didn’t want just because I requested it? It was late, he was chilling out post performance having a beer. He wasn’t malicious or rude about the refusal, in fact he was quite playful. And then I felt like the knob (not an uncommon occurrence, tbh).

So, back to Songs and Words. Hubby was planning to go to the Birmingham date, but didn’t make it. So I suggested we head down to Weston for what was the final date of the tour, at the Blakehay Theatre.

Blakehay

Great venue. Beautiful building, easy to find, incredibly friendly and helpful staff, and a bar so cheap it was rude not to drink quite a lot of vodka. The performance space is fully seated and very intimate (only 10 rows, auditorium style), so every seat had a fabulous view of the stage. Sound was great.

And so to the actual show. I had a really, really ace night. Ginger is very funny, witty, acerbic, self deprecating and honest. He spoke with fervour and raw emotion about the ups and downs of his career – the promising times, the bad times, the drug times and the prison times. The audience were hanging on his every word, just waiting to hear what would come next. The story was punctuated with songs from his albums – clever segues that moved the monologue along, 2-3 tracks combined into a medley. He sounded fab. Great catchy vocals delivered with passion, sung acoustically with just himself and Jase Edwards from Wolfsbane on guitar. There was no stage show. Nothing fancy. Just two people, an album backdrop and a soundman. And it was all the better for it.

S&W

Is he a rockstar? Yes. Does he have rockstar attitude? Yes. But I no longer think it’s negative or arrogant. I left the theatre seeing him as an incredibly talented individual, a brilliant songwriter and a passionate musician who has, at times, had the rug pulled from under his feet (and by his own admission, sometimes kicked it away himself with his destructive behaviour). Ultimately he’s a person doing a job, and obstacles have been put in front of him carrying out that job. To hear his own happy ending – finding love and the success of the Pledge campaigns – was a really nice finish to the show (which, incidentally, was over 3 hours long including the interval – real value for money). And his gratitude to the fans was obvious. Ultimately, through Pledge, he’s giving his fans what they want, at a time when a record company won’t do that.

Of course there’s something in it for him – there’ll be money and adoration – but you really feel that he’s in it for the music. And for that I retract all the bad thoughts I ever had.

Roll on more Songs & Words.