GIG REVIEWS

IN DATE ORDER – MOST RECENT FIRST

**MY REVIEWS FOR THE ‘GET READY TO ROCK’ WEB SITE GIG (2008-2013) CAN BE FOUND IN MY LINKS SECTION**



2017

THE DOORS ALIVE / DIRTY SOUND MAGNET
The Zephyr Lounge, Leamington Spa
1/12/17
(PUBLISHED ON THE HOT MUSIC LIVE WEB SITE - Gig guide and magazine for local live music in Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull)

Despite a couple of line-up changes since The Doors Alive amazed me at The Leamington Assembly back in 2012 the magic was definitely still there for this performance at the more intimate Assembly sister venue The Zephyr Lounge.
First things first with a fabulously entertaining set by Swiss three piece Dirty Sound Magnet who mixed Doors style mysticism and blues, early Floyd psychedelia, out-there Suppers Ready madness Genesis, a bit of Pineapple Thief modern prog rock/dance music and classic rock, even throwing in an intro touching on Spinal Taps classic Stonehenge for good measure.
Not a dull moment all set with the numerous musical styles and you just could not take your eyes off the band from the wide eyed strutting of the front man to the manic Keith Moon like drummer a dynamo both in his playing and his wide eyed joy.
All tracks very different with ‘Cash Cow Superstar’ a majestic wall of sound slice of heavy prog rock a standout and all in all one of the more impressive supports slots I have seen this year and great to see a band having so much fun on stage.
On to the headliners and from that opening bubbling, hypnotic riff to ‘Break On Through’ (To The Other Side) to the pulsating encore ‘Touch Me’ The Doors Alive did not put a foot wrong.
The new Jim (well different from that 2012 gig) looks remarkably like the real thing and just as importantly has the vocal style to match and carries off the Lizard Kings charm, charisma and stage craft to perfection and I loved it that he recited snippets of Mr Morrison’s poetry between some numbers.
The band also nailed their particular door to perfection (if you know what I mean) and their interaction on the extended instrumental section at the end of a stunning ‘Light My Fire’ after Jim had left the stage was inspired.
I was personally thrilled to have two of my top ten tracks of all time performed one after the other with a sublime and delicate ‘Riders On The Storm’ hitting 11 on the atmospheric meter followed by a thundering ‘L.A. Woman’.
Doors classics in abundance including ‘People Are Strange’, ‘When The Music’s Over’ and a blistering ‘Roadhouse Blues’ but they also threw in lesser known (apart from Doors aficionados of course) numbers such as ‘Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar)’ merging into blues masterpiece ‘Back Door Man’, ‘Twentieth Century Fox’ and a wonderful, dreamy ‘Moonlight Drive’.
Must admit I had several goosebump moments at this show as I just love the music of the Doors but of course never got to see them (well I was only 8 when Jim Morrison passed away) and this band really show you what it must have been like to see one of the greatest ever bands in action.
If I had my way this band would hit town every year and those who missed it missed a corker.

Andrew Lock


The London African Gospel Choir
Leamington Assembly
12/11/17
(PUBLISHED ON THE HOT MUSIC LIVE WEB SITE - Gig guide and magazine for local live music in Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull)

A change from my usual rock/blues gigs this one by the renowned gospel choir who had a full electric band as well as brass section to back them up at this performance.
The first half was a short selection mixing traditional African music with a little gospel and a fine appetiser for the main course which was of course Paul Simon’s icon Graceland album performed in its entirety.
The ten vocalist covered the whole of the front of the spacious Assembly stage and made for both an aural and visual delight with a wide range of vocal ranges, plenty of dance work and especially with the ladies a selection of fabulous costumes.
Many of the vocalist took turn on lead and the band behind them definitely played their part with (if I counted correctly) 2 keyboard players, 2 guitarist, 2 drummers, bass player and that brass section along with of course the incredible vocals creating a fantastic, rich at many times joyous sound.
The big draw of the evening was of course the Graceland performance and they did not disappoint with standouts including the breathtaking multi-vocal acapella of ‘Homeless’, a vibrant upbeat ‘Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes’ and starting with surely some of the greatest ever opening lyrics “The Mississippi Delta was shining, Like a National guitar” a beautifully flowing ‘Graceland’ itself.
To close it was an upbeat, full of life performance of that albums huge hit single ‘You Can Call Me Al’ and a final piece of traditional African music.
They also managed to get the Sunday evening (can be difficult to get audiences firing on all cylinders with Monday on the horizon!) audience involved with boy/girl singing competitions on a couple of the Graceland tracks and there was plenty of dancing and swaying around the room.
A quality evening of music, dance and joy at the Assembly.

Andrew Lock


JOHN COGHLAN’S QUO
ZEPHYR LOUNGE, LEAMINGTON SPA
3/11/17
(PUBLISHED ON THE HOT MUSIC LIVE WEB SITE - Gig guide and magazine for local live music in Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull)

For me one of my most memorable nights at the venue for several reasons, it brought back memories of my regular visits to see Quo in action at the N.E.C in Birmingham in the 80’s and 90’s (unfortunately without John in the band), the band were on fire, it was a cracking set list heavy with the big hitters but also with a sprinkling of pleasant surprises and the lighting was the best I have seen at the venue (as a photographer a massive thumbs up from me for the latter).
As I wanted to get a prime position to get a few shots I queued up outside the venue about 3/4 of an hour before doors and caught the end of the soundcheck and they sounded fab and amongst the expected such as a run through ‘Something ‘Bout You Baby I Like’ I was surprised and delighted to hear the main riff from Sabbaths ‘Symptom Of The Universe’ and part of the intro to the same bands ‘Black Sabbath’ both played to perfection I may add.
On the photography side as well the band was set up perfectly with Mr. Coghlan centre stage flanked by the rest of the band to the left and right giving an unobstructed view of this amazing drummer in action amazing hi hat work and all.
The show was split into two sets with more of the surprises in the first half and after an atmospheric drone like intro which had a few Quo guitar sounds and various sound effects imbedded it was back to that historic Quo Live album from 1977 with ‘Junior’s Wailing’ followed by the first surprise of the evening a frantic ‘Rockers Rollin’ before going back to that early live classic album for a groove packed ‘In My Chair’.
John has got a top notch band together, Rick has the vocals and charm of an early Francis Rossi off pat with cracking guitar work to match and works in perfect tandem with his guitar partner Mick and what a rhythm engine room with the pumping bass of Rick (takes a good share of lead vocals to boot) and drum magic of John keeping the boogie on track throughout.
Other first set surprise treats included ‘(April), Spring Summer and Wednesdays’ going way back to the Ma Kelly’s Greasy Spoon album, a wonderfully flowing ‘Claudie’ (one of my favourites) and a top quality performance of one of Piledrivers quieter moments ‘A Year’ while the rest of set one was business as usual with the heads down boogie of ‘Break The Rules’ and ‘Something ‘Bout You Baby I like’.
Apart from the psychedelia of ‘Pictures Of Matchstick Men’ and another of the gentler numbers from Piledriver ‘All The Reasons’ set 2 was pretty much the straight on, head banging Quo we all know and love with ‘Back Water’ a showpiece for John’s powerhouse drum work, a wonderfully chugging ‘Roll Over Lay Down’, the frantic threesome of ‘Paper Plane’, ‘Big Fat Mama’ and ‘Rain’ (the latter dedicated to the much missed Rick Parfitt) and to end the set the crowd bouncing as one for a mighty ‘Hold You Back’.
Encore time and what a choice, one of the bands greatest rockers and a No.1 single back in 1975 to boot ‘Down Down’ and the audience responded in suitable fashion.
Apart from the music John told a few stories from his days as part of the frantic four and throughout the set it was lovely to see from his facial expressions how much he enjoys performing with this band he has put together to celebrate one of the UK’s best and most durable rock bands and they do so in some style.

Andrew Lock


THE IRON MAIDENS
LEAMINGTON ASSEMBLY
27/10/17
(PUBLISHED ON THE HOT MUSIC LIVE WEB SITE - Gig guide and magazine for local live music in Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull)

Ever since spotting this show on the Assembly listings earlier this year I have been looking forward to this gig by the Californian all female tribute to the mighty Iron Maiden (only one in the world as well) and to say I was not disappointed would be an understatement.
Reminding me in power and attitude of prime time Girlschool these ladies completely rocked the joint and boy did they do justice to the mighty Maiden name.
I was so pleased it was a fantastic turnout and the maiden family/army (so many Iron Maiden shirts on display) certainly responded to the fantastic musicianship, energy and showmanship on offer.
They are such fans of the band they know that the last number played over the PA before the guys hit the stage is UFO classic Doctor Doctor so they do likewise before unleashing Maiden mania for the next couple of hours.
The set list would have pleased any Maiden fan mixing the well known hit singles with fan favourite album tracks and going all the way from the debut album up to the Fear In The Dark era.
Like Live/Wire the week before they have put such a lot of work into the staging and spectacle side of their performance with amongst the props their very own Eddie making numerous appearances in different guises, vocalist Kirsten changes outfit for several numbers (also her air raid siren voice is well in place) and there is no shortage of smoke and explosions.
The sound of the band has to be heard to be believed, of course thunderous at times (bass and drum work solid as a rock) but wonderfully melodic when required (twin guitar work a delight) and the band all play their part to perfection, while the crowds reaction and interaction throughout, singing along (especially on epic ‘Fear Of The Dark’) and jumping up and down turned the night into a real event.
Highlights included roaring opener ‘Aces High’, ‘Wasted Years’ a perfect combination of power and melody and my all time fav Maiden number and stone cold classics ‘The Trooper’ and ‘Powerslave’ while the atmospheric ‘Rime Of The Ancient Mariner’ was stunning.
It was so impressive that they also included in the set a few possibly not so well known early Maiden numbers including ‘The Prisoner’ and ‘Phantom Of The Opera’ which must have had the die hard Maiden heads in heaven.
Of course we had ‘The Number Of The Beast’ (how could they not!) and of course it brought the house down as did the double whammy of encores ‘Running Free’ and ‘Iron Maiden’ the latter with Eddie in full flow.
So impressed by this show, these Californian girls sure know how to rock and look forward to a return visit.

Andrew Lock


LIVE/WIRE
LEAMINGTON ASSEMBLY
21/10/17
(PUBLISHED ON THE HOT MUSIC LIVE WEB SITE - Gig guide and magazine for local live music in Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull)

The mighty sounds of AC/DC once again rang out from the Assembly stage as Live/Wire one of the top rock tribute acts in the country returned to what has (and lucky for us locals) become one of their regular stops on the bands touring schedule.
A couple of line-up changes aside it was business as usual and with a new Brian Johnson and drummer (believe it or not a previous Live/Wire Angus!) this was another sizzling show that well lived up to it’s name as “The AC/DC Show”.
You close your eyes at any part of the gig and it is AC/DC the vocals, that magical Angus Young guitar work and that all important rhythm section all in place and of course visually as well they put so much into the performance.
As always the ace up the bands sleeve is having a Bon and a Brian so both eras of the band are catered for in authentic style and during the Bon set classics like ‘Highway To Hell’, ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’ and ‘Bad Boy Boogie’ (infamous Angus strip in place of course) rubbed shoulders with lesser known fan favourites such as ‘Live Wire’ and ‘Overdose’.
The bands Bon Scott also gets the singers cheeky boy antics off to a tee with the voice to match and also delights the crowd with a walk through the audience with Angus playing along on his shoulders.
Our new man in the flat cap taking on the role of Brian Johnson also gets the singers characteristics and vocal style spot one as he prowls the stage for his part of the show.
The Johnson set stretches back from the iconic Back in Black album including the title track, ‘Hell’s Bells’ and ‘You Shook Me All Night Long’ right up to ‘Rock Or Bust’ from the latest AC/DC album with crackers like ‘Thunderstruck’ and ‘Hard As A Rock’ in-between.
Loved the on-stage banter of our Brian especially when trying to insist there was a pint at the bar from the band for the whole crowd (wonder if anyone fell for it!).
All too soon it was encore time and first up the Scottish jig of ‘Bonny’ followed by our Bon for a roaring ‘Highway To Hell’, then both singers joining forces on ‘Let There Be Rock’ and finally the big guns come out booming during an epic ‘For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)’.
You know exactly what you are going to get with a Live/Wire show (as with AC/DC themselves of course) top notch entertainment, great music and a fitting tribute to one of the greatest rock bands of all time.
See you next year lads.

Andrew Lock


BELINDA CARLISLE
LEAMINGTON ASSEMBLY
12/10/17
(PUBLISHED ON THE HOT MUSIC LIVE WEB SITE - Gig guide and magazine for local live music in Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull)

A rare show at the venue for me without my camera (did feel a little naked!) but what a night it was with Belinda rolling back the years in spectacular fashion when she bought her Heaven On Earth 30th Anniversary tour to town.
First up with a short set of original material American pop-rock singer/songwriter and producer Gabe Lopez who produced and played on Belindas latest album Wilder Shores which is based around yoga chants (nothing performed from this album at the show).
Gabe played solo electric guitar with backing arrangements on tape etc apart from a wonderful piano based number that incorporated part of Elton John classic Rocket Man, an impressive voice he has as well mixing different keys in the same number and his rockier material including standout ‘California Blues’ had a good, upbeat groove and went down well with the Assembly audience.
For Belindas set we had the complete Heaven On Earth album performed in the show, not all together and in the original running order but mixed in with with numbers from her other biggest album 1989’s Runaway Horses and a couple of her other 80’s early 90’s big hitters.
As expected it was a performance of uplifting pop/rock anthems and beautiful ballads full of fab hooks, catchy chorus’s and tales of love and longing and that voice was in magnificent form, she has also put together a quality band to add to the magic and I was particularly impressed by the lead guitar work and the backing vocals of the acoustic guitarist.
Bookended by the intro and show-closing sounds of Frank Sinatra’s The Lady Is A Tramp and California Girls by the Beach Boys (latter a perfect choice by the way) this was a night filled to the brim with classics.
Every one a winner but especially loved the opening and wonderfully flowing ‘I Feel Free’ the Cream classic that she covered on the Heaven On Earth album and other delights from the anniversary opus included the tearjerking (well me for!) ‘World Without You’, and uptempo feel-good rockers ‘Fool For Love’ and ‘Should I Let You In?’.
Also from the Heaven album Belinda danced her way (even with a cartilage issue) through a sublime ‘Circle In The Sand’, rocked the joint on ‘I Get Weak’ and of course the ‘just had to be’ set closer ‘Heaven Is A Place On Earth’ was greeted with a huge reception and the sell out crowd in fine voice.
Runaway Horses album tracks (and sure hope she was serious about a 30th anniversary tour in 2019 for this cracking album) included an emotional ‘Vision Of You,’ a sparkling ‘Summer Rain’ and a pulsating ‘Leave A Light On’ the latter my favourite ever Belinda number so I was a happy lad.
The encores firstly kept up the pace and energy with two of her later anthems ‘Big Scary Animal’ and ‘Live Your Life Be Free’ before slowing things down with the final number and also completing the Heaven On Earth album full performance with a beautiful ‘Love Never Dies’.
This has to go down as one of my best ever Assembly gigs, wonderful atmosphere, a full house and one of my favourite female vocalist in magnificent form with her red hot band and a cracking set list.
Fingers crossed for that 2019 Runaway Horses 30th anniversary tour.

Andrew Lock


MOSTLY AUTUMN
LEAMINGTON ASSEMBLY
16/09/17
(PUBLISHED ON THE HOT MUSIC LIVE WEB SITE - Gig guide and magazine for local live music in Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull)

Mostly Autumn live always give value for money but this show (along with two others on the tour) gave even more as they performed two full sets, the first a complete performance of their latest studio album Sight Of Day the second full of Autumn classics and a couple of surprises.
With the band being a seven piece and all masters at their chosen instrument the sound they produce is really something to behold, Bryan Josh is one of the finest rock guitarists in the land while his now wife Olivia has such stunning vocal ability, add the keyboard wizardry of Iain Jennings the flute etc magic of Angela Gordon, the second guitar and vocals of Chris Johnson and the solid rhythm section of Andy Smith and Alex Cromarty and you have yourself some band.
With the back screen projections put to good use the new album run through opened with the grandiose epic that is ‘Sight Of Day’ and this title track is a wonderfully uplifting number just bristling with positive energy and also makes fine use of that light and shade the band are so renowned for.
Delicate ballad ‘The Man Without A Name’ had a stunning, crystal clear lead vocal by Olivia, and the Chris Johnson penned (also with Chris on lead vocals) ‘Changing Lives’ had a charging, slightly modern indie rock feel.
Other highlights from this first set of the evening included the band showing their Celtic side on rocker ‘Only The Brave’ with its wonderful chorus and the emotional closing numbers firstly the atmospheric ballad ‘Raindown’ and finally the sublime and soaring (and once again totally uplifting) ‘Forever And Beyond’ which featured Bryan and Olivia in perfect vocal harmony.
Also loved in this first set how Mr Josh coped with such good humour with a guitar strap malfunction even saying he may have to sit down and play.
After a short break it was time for the classics set and to open it was back in time to album No. 1 (For All We Shared) with Chris (acoustic guitar) and Angela (flute) taking to the stage for the opening of the Lord of the Rings inspired instrumental ‘Out Of The Inn’ before the rest of the band joined in on the action and it turned into an out and out rocker.
This set also included a roaring ‘In For The Bite’ one of the standouts from Bryan’s 2016 Josh and Co concept album Transylvania Part 1- The Count Demands It and also from a concept album (2014’s Dressed In Voices) the flowing folk rock feel of ‘Skin on Skin’.
One particularly impressive section included three stone cold classics in a row starting with two out and out epics ‘Evergreen’ with Bryan acing that legendary solo and a majestic ‘Mother Nature’ its beautiful keyboard work just one of the many highlights and a fabulously spiritual ‘Passengers’.
Other highlights included Olivia once again shining on beautiful ballad ‘Silhouettes of Stolen Ghosts’ and a second lead vocal of the night by Chris on a sparkling (sorry!) ’Silver Glass’ and of course the usual heartfelt performance of ‘Heroes Never Die’ with yet another stunning Bryan Josh solo.
A wonderful night and another fantastic show by for me one of the best live bands around and hopefully they will pay the town a visit in 2018.

Andrew Lock


A SUNNY BANK HOLIDAY WEEKEND AT THE HENLEY MUSIC FESTIVAL ( SAT 26TH AUGUST) & THE TOM O’ THE WOOD (MON 28TH AUGUST)
(PUBLISHED ON THE HOT MUSIC LIVE WEB SITE - Gig guide and magazine for local live music in Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull)

Over the hottest August bank holiday for a long time I took in a couple of local (for me in the sticks!) music events, on the Saturday I went along to meet friends in Henley for the annual music festival where a selection of pubs had bands/solo singers performing in the gardens and on the Monday it was the Tom O’ The Wood in Rowington for a Hog Roast with live music.
First live music of the Saturday in Henley for me was at The Black Swan with pop duo Ruby Rouge, both ladies had fine voices and invited children on to the stage to shake tambourines giving their performance a real family feel.
Then it was a walk back down Henley’s main street to The Nags Head for one of my favourite local blues bands Concrete Boots for a blistering set including numbers made famous by the likes of Dr. Feelgood, The Doors and The Rolling Stones.
I also stayed at the Nags for part of the set by three piece El Diablo which included a cracking version of Beatles classic ‘Come Together’.
Finally it was back to the Black Swan for solo singer Izzie Glenn and what a fine voice she had treating us to numbers by amongst others Amy Winehouse and Adele.
Monday at The Tom O’ The Wood was a tasty pork batch with all the trimmings, a couple of ciders and the music of duo Jade & JP to keep us entertained, fine vocals by Jade and fab guitar picking by JP and a chilled out, well chosen afternoon set.
Great events both and a lovely way to spend an English summer bank holiday.

Andrew Lock


FAIRPORT’S CROPREDY CONVENTION
12/8/17
(PUBLISHED ON THE HOT MUSIC LIVE WEB SITE - Gig guide and magazine for local live music in Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull)

This was my first ever visit to this iconic festival (nice and close to us in this neck of the woods as well!) and I was blown away by the whole experience, everything was spot on, the organisation, the wonderfully friendly stewards, the fantastic views of the stage for the 20,000 sell out crowd, the sound quality, the huge screens and the excellent food and drink stalls.
I must also say I have never been made to feel more welcome at a big event as a photographer and the back stage/photo pass crew were all diamonds.
My applying for a photo pass did coincide with one of my favourite bands Marillion performing but I also really enjoyed the other acts I caught on my visit as well as the overall vibe of the event.
First band up on the Saturday was Morris On with a fun mix of folk music and morris dancing followed by folk mixed with a touch of prog at times by Judy Dyble & the Band of Perfect Strangers.
The wonderful musical interplay and vocal harmonies of Plainsong were next up with a set that included their take on several Richard Farina (American singer /songwriter) numbers and then it was time to rock with Cats In Space and their upbeat mix of glam and AOR rock full of wonderful melodies and plenty of twin guitar action.
Next, the last band in action on my visit and for me the big one, it was Marillion time, actually I had already seen them perform briefly earlier in the day when they played a couple of acoustic numbers for BBC Radio Oxford but now it was the big stage.
They did not take the easy option and perform a few Fish era golden oldies which more of the crowd may have known but as always with these guys it was a stunning set and mixed tracks from their fantastically well received and critically acclaimed new album F.E.A.R with well chosen Hogarth era classics.
Opener was the multi-part masterpiece of light and shade ‘The Leavers’ from the new album and from that new release the set also included the delicate, beautifully sad ‘White Paper’ and the powerful message of ‘Living in F E A R’.
The bouncy, upbeat ‘Sounds That Can’t Be Made’ was a real breath of fresh air and fan favourite ‘Easter’ went down a storm during which I looked at the big screens showing Steve Rothery’s solo up close (one of his very best) and felt a shiver down my spine, what an incredibly emotive piece of guitar work it is.
‘Man of a Thousand Faces’ was dedicated to the legendary Bob Harris who could be seen around the festival site and introducing bands, ‘Beyond You’ was a real surprise and I had forgot how powerfully this slow-burner builds up in its intensity and to close it was the epic autobiographical (for singer Steve Hogarth) masterpiece ‘This Strange Engine’.
What a truly wonderful festival this is and hope so much for a return visit next year.

Andrew Lock


THE DIRT ROAD BLUES BAND - DEBUT GIG
ST PATRICK’S CLUB, LEAMINGTON SPA
10/8/17
(PUBLISHED ON THE HOT MUSIC LIVE WEB SITE - Gig guide and magazine for local live music in Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull)

As soon as I heard about this new upcoming band from Steve Walwyn himself I was to say the least interested, for one it involved Steve one of my all time favourite guitarists and secondly it was a blues trio and I just love those blues.
The Dirt Road Blues Band consists of Steve (Dr.Feelgood, The Mosquitos etc) on guitar/vocals, Horace Panter (The Specials) on bass and Ted Duggan (Chevy) on drums and for this their debut gig they roped in three special guest musicians, harmonica player extraordinaire Mark Feltham (Nine Below Zero) and two outstanding vocalists Patricia Moore (sister of the late great Gary) and local lady Holly Hewitt.
The instruments on display were stars in their own right with Steve’s wonderful array of guitars including a brand new baby, the long lost bass of Horace’s that he recently found and bought at a secondhand store and Mark’s collection of Mississippi Saxophones.
It was hard to believe this was the bands first ever show as the interplay and understanding between them was so strong throughout with the band on fire all set and the audience lapping up every second.
So many highlights over the two sets including the Charlie Patton number that gave the band their name ‘Down the Dirt Road Blues’ which was a majestic slice of traditional blues, two rockers from Steve’s solo album ‘Sweet Louise’ and ‘Instinct To Survive’ and a show stopping ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’.
Other crackers included their take on Chuck Berry classic ‘Tulane’ and Patricia on vocals for a pulsating run-through a blues masterpiece famously covered by her brother Gary ‘Walking By Myself’.
Top musicianship all over the shop - Steve ripping out the solos, Horace and Ted a rhythm section to die for, the sublime harmonica work of Mark and the wonderful guest vocalists all combining to make musical magic.
It closed as Steve likes to close shows when possible with a tribute to his beloved Rory Gallagher, although this time not with the usual Bullfrog Blues but with a full throttle ‘Laundromat’
What a night, what fabulous music and what an incredible atmosphere, I so look forward to my next trip down the Dirt Road.

Andrew Lock


WARWICK FOLK FESTIVAL 2017 (SAT 29/7/17)
(PUBLISHED ON THE HOT MUSIC LIVE WEB SITE - Gig guide and magazine for local live music in Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull)

I like to when possible get along to the main festival site to soak up the atmosphere, listen to some great music and take a few photos (and possibly have a couple of half pints of ale in the wonderful pop up pub!!), and this year my visit was the morning to afternoon slot on the Saturday.
I had no idea on arriving who was performing during my visit but on buying a program I was delighted on noticing that charismatic singer/comic Keith Donnelly was performing an early show alongside local singer/songwriter annA rydeR in the intimate setting of the Bridge House Theatre.
Keith and annA treated us to a wonderful morning of numbers by the likes of Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon and Glen Campell (so sad he has recently left us) and ended their magnificent set with a wonderfully emotional ‘Who Knows Where The Time Goes?’, the set also included plenty of humour and a host of instruments including the much loved didgeridoo.
During my visit I also caught on the (always so impressive a structure) Main Stage a fantastic folk/blues set with class guitar work by Jack Blackman, a lovely tribute to the music of Sandy Denny by The Julie July Band and the world music with a twist show of The Hut People.
As the weather was kind on my visit I managed to take in the maritime fun of The Exmouth Shanty Men, Amy Kakoura & Andrew Sharpe, Aelfen and a particularly impressive performance by the Georgia Lewis Band on the outside Plaza Stage.
Always a wonderful festival and right on our doorstep in these parts.

Andrew Lock


NAPTON FESTIVAL 2017 - PART 2 (SATURDAY 8/7/17)
(PUBLISHED ON THE HOT MUSIC LIVE WEB SITE - Gig guide and magazine for local live music in Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull)

For a sad reason this year my Saturday at Napton was cut short so I missed the headliners and the last 4 or 5 bands on the bill but would I did catch was well up to the festivals usual high standard.
Main Stage acts included young rockers Zinc Zebra who opened up proceedings in a loud, raucous fashion covering numbers by the likes of Poison and Bon Jovi.
Highlights on this stage included The Dylan Rhythm Band with a trip through the Bob Dylan songbook with the likes of ‘All Along the Watchtower’ and ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ (great to see the wonderful harmonica player Sam Powell in action) and also on the cover side (a kind of theme the organisers planned this year) there was a wonderful selection of David Bowie classics courtesy of HunkyDavy who put their own spin on ‘Suffragette City’, ‘Life On Mars’ and many more.
Another highlight who also really impressed me at last years festival was youthful singer/songwriter Matilda Pratt who this time out performed sets on both the Main Stage and the Acoustic.
The Acoustic Stage entertainment also included for folk lovers the upbeat and at times celtic style of Firedaze and an impressive vocal performance by Harriet Woodford.
Another wonderful weekend and once again hats off to the organisers, artists and everyone else involved in for me one of the top local, annual live music events.

Andrew Lock


NAPTON FESTIVAL 2017 - PART 1 (FRIDAY 7/7/17)
(PUBLISHED ON THE HOT MUSIC LIVE WEB SITE - Gig guide and magazine for local live music in Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull)

The Friday of this years festival started with one of my highlights of 2016 and another rock/blues set with plenty of Doors references by the Bombardiers with a new look line up but still rocking up a storm with the likes of ‘Back Door Man’ and Stevie Ray Vaughan’s ‘Pride and Joy’.
Also on the bill we had melodic indie rock a plenty from The Rushmore, the wonderful songwriting and playing of original Coventry band (and festival regulars) The Session and a set mixing covers of indie, punk and rock classics by Got It Covered.
The middle part of the evenings entertainment was a fabulous display of folk with a touch of celtic rock and plenty of top fiddle playing (along with a wide variety of instruments on display) by the Band of Rack and Ruin.
The opening day of the festival finished with firstly the glam rock fun and upbeat vibe of the colourful Dead Frequency and to close the night headliners The Firm (looking as smart as always) one of the best 60’s/70’s cover bands around made sure the audience rocked the night away with the likes of ‘Substitute’, ‘I Can Hear The Grass Grow’ and ‘Hollywood Nights’.
Another wonderful Napton Festival Friday and back soon with a few words and pics from the Saturday.

Andrew Lock


HAYSEED DIXIE/ THIRTEEN STARS
LEAMINGTON ASSEMBLY 4/7/17
(PUBLISHED ON THE HOT MUSIC LIVE WEB SITE - Gig guide and magazine for local live music in Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

Special guests and on the subject so refreshing to hear Hayseed frontman Barley show his contempt for bands that make support acts pay for their slot on a tour was impressive blues/southern rock outfit Thirteen Stars.
That southern rock touch along with a fine sense of humour was evident on the tongue in cheek ‘Daddy’s Girl’ and they showed their heavier side on ‘Only a Soldier’ which was dedicated to all in the armed services and for me had a little of the style and power of the Dio era Sabbath number ‘Country Girl’.
This hard rocking band had a powerful live sound and I loved the singers comment that their latest video had managed to get 30 U TUBE views but as he put it “what can you do up against cat videos and dogs playing the piano?”.
As for headliners Hayseed Dixie you know exactly what you are going to get and get it we did with so many iconic rock covers given that Hayseed bluegrass treatment, hilarious originals, all of the stage antics us fans have come to love and of course the wit and wisdom of Barley Scotch.
You also must not forget what top rate musicians the band are and if you stop dancing, smiling and laughing long enough to take a look at the speed of the picking it is a sight to behold and also Barley also has such a powerful rich voice which would grace many genres of music.
Set list was just about perfect with plenty of their most memorable rock covers in place including AC/DC classics ‘Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap’ (show opener), ‘Touch Too Much’ and ‘Highway To Hell’, Motorhead anthem ‘Ace of Spades’ the stage bathed in red light for Sabbath’s ‘War Pigs’ and the whole band on vocal duties for their version of epic Queen classic ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’.
From their latest album where they branch out the covers to other genres we had clever reinterpretations of Elvis Costello’s ‘Oliver's Army’, and the fastest I would imagine possible version of Bob Marley’s ‘Buffalo Soldier’ and many more.
The band originals include a spirited ‘Kirby Hill’ and introduced with the story of how Barley got a check for 3000 dollars because Justin Timberlake performed it at a show the hilarious (if messy) ‘I’m Keeping Your Poop’.
As mentioned so much to see and enjoy on the visual side with mandolin player Hippy Joe Hymas in particular an absolute firebrand pulling faces and making gestures all set long and playing the main joker role (and oh so funny with it).
A Hayseed Dixie gig really is a show and a half, great music and side splitting moments as well as top draw musicians who seem to be having as much fun as the audience.

Andrew Lock


MUSIC FOR MYTON
LILLINGTON CLUB
SATURDAY REVIEW
1/7/17
(PUBLISHED ON THE HOT MUSIC LIVE WEB SITE - Gig guide and magazine for local live music in Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull)

I only made it to the Saturday of Peter Drews latest ‘Music For Myton’ event which took place at The Lillington Club over the weekend of Friday 30th June/Saturday 1st July but as always plenty of great music on offer by local musicians all giving their time for free to help raise funds.
Chilled acoustic sounds could be heard in the bar where I managed to catch three excellent solo artists Martin John Hainsworth, Jackie James with her exquisite, clear vocals (with possibly a touch of Joni Mitchell) and Rachael Elizabeth Kenny and it was a mix of originals and covers with the latter shining on a superb rarely performed cover of Cranberries classic ‘Linger’.
On the main stage it was a more rocky affair with first up the Southern Rock (in the main) sounds of Southern Cross with the likes of ‘Bad Moon Rising’ and ‘Take It Easy’ followed by the energetic rock/punk of The Mutineers from Rugby.
Next up Blues Extra mixing blues with rock standards and highlights included cracking covers of Jimi Hendrix classic ‘Red House’ and Zeppelins ‘Rock and Roll’.
Final two bands for me were the zippy, modern folk sounds of Firedaze and finally back to the blues with pulsating three piece Electric Moonshine.
Fab local music and I hope very much they had plenty more turn up later in the evening to support such a worthwhile event.

Andrew Lock


LEAMINGTON PEACE FESTIVAL 2017 - SUNDAY
18/7/17
(PUBLISHED ON THE HOT MUSIC LIVE WEB SITE - Gig guide and magazine for local live music in Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull)

More of a flying visit for me on the Sunday of this years festival but the music I caught was certainly top draw.
First band up for me on the Riverside Stage and a name I recognised but may have just managed to miss at local festivals in the past was Rosetta Fire and with their stella harmony vocals, wonderful hooks and feel-good summer vibe they were just about the perfect band for a sweltering summer afternoon.
They were followed on the same stage by Merrymaker a new outfit put together by Dan Sealey of Ocean Colour Scene fame and what a wonderful, chilled out acoustic performance with Dan’s rich vocals mixing perfectly with the acoustic guitars and other instruments including a good dose of violin magic and the set was full of lyrically clever numbers including a delightful ‘This is England’.
My last set of the day was at the Band Stand stage for the performance by singer-songwriter/ guitarist Rosa Francesca and I really enjoyed her set which had a jazzy/soulful vibe while her voice reminded me a little of Katie Melua (which I love).
The end of another Peace Festival and hats off to all of the artists, speakers, organisers and of course those all important volunteers.

Andrew Lock


LEAMINGTON PEACE FESTIVAL 2017 - SATURDAY
17/6/17
(PUBLISHED ON THE HOT MUSIC LIVE WEB SITE - Gig guide and magazine for local live music in Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull)

This year must have been the hottest weather I can remember at the festival in all of my years attending but as I had my first ever attempt at live music photography at this event back in 2008 I donned my faithful festival hat, a bottle of water, my camera bag (of course) and made my usual visit alternating between the two stages for most of the day.
As always an eclectic mix of music was on offer but plenty of highlights one of which was the first artist I caught at the Band Stand stage young singer/songwriter Genevieve Miles, really enjoyed her vocal style and the strong songwriting on her original numbers and a great choice to end her set with a cover of Monkees classic ‘I’m A Believer’ (always a fun festival cover).
Another standout for me and a highlight at any musical event they play was the early in the day and last minute addition of Leamington's very own bluegrass band The Folly Brothers to the main (Riverside) stage and as always they mixed clever originals with their own take on classics by the likes of Johnny Cash and Don Henley, the latter was for a superb version of ‘The Boys of Summer’.
One of the leading lights of the local music scene over many years now Shanade also shone on the main stage with her powerful vocals, heaps of energy and top notch young band and later in front of the same stage the crowd was dancing and bouncing away in the sunshine to the hi-energy ska influenced sounds of Grass Routes.
As always well worth a visit for the music fan.

Andrew Lock


WARWICK FOOD FESTIVAL
28/5/17
(PUBLISHED ON THE HOT MUSIC LIVE WEB SITE - Gig guide and magazine for local live music in Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull)

Last Sunday (28th May) the Warwick Food Festival returned to the towns Market Place and once again the musical part of the proceedings was supplied by Leamington Spa’s 14 Records with a fantastic line-up of talent.
I managed to catch ten of the acts performing, female singer/songwriters Erin Tiger Lilley, Hannah Woof, Shannon Lock, Shannon Stevenson and Rosie Samaras, their male counterparts Joe Dolman, Jake Malles and Jack Hopkinson and bands The Ellipsis and Blackwater Ridge.
Quality performances throughout once again showing the incredible quality and diversity of the local music scene with the likes of indie rock, dance, pop, folk and even a top show tune on offer and this old rocker was kept very happy by the closing set by hard rocking three piece Blackwater Ridge and their set of covers of classics made famous by the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Deep Purple, ZZ Top and more.
Thanks to14 Records and their incredibly talented artists for a top afternoons music.

Andrew Lock


TRINITY 2
LEAMINGTON ASSEMBLY
27/5/17
(PUBLISHED ON THE HOT MUSIC LIVE WEB SITE - Gig guide and magazine for local live music in Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull)

The prog rock community joined together once again at the Assembly for the return of the Trinity charity event, another great success which this time raised money for three cancer charities Cancer Research UK, Teenage Cancer Trust and Macmillan Cancer Support.
Compere for the evening and later rock DJ at the after show party in the Zephyr Lounge was Prog Magazine editor and respected music writer (as well as one of the fields real characters) Jerry Ewing.
The day was split into two sessions afternoon and evening with three bands in each half, the evening also included the drawing of the raffle and the much anticipated Rock Charity Auction which had plenty of interest with items donated by the likes of Marillion and Steve Hackett.
First band up was the youthful and unusual A Formal Horse who played at times quite intricate prog with now and again a touch of almost thrash metal blended with the female vocalist’s jazzy and sometimes operatic vocals.
This was followed by the more melodic style of the dec burke band who’s sound at times reminded me just a little of the powerful pop/rock of the Foo Fighters.
Closing the first half was one of my favourite rock vocalist’s Kim Seviour, formerly of Touchstone (playing later with their new line-up) here she performed wonderful pieces from her upcoming debut solo album including the magnificent ‘Chiasma’ mixing her Touchstone roots with her other influences.
The second part of the day showcased the heavier side of prog rock with firstly my second look (after the Robin 2 last year) of Ghost Community and their powerful frontman John Paul, must say being a huge Marillion fan their surprise (and rather good) cover of that bands ‘Uninvited Guest’ was a big bonus with another standout being the epic ‘Blue December Morning’ with as usual it’s snippet of Zeppelin’s Kashmir.
Next up one of my favourite rock bands of the last 10 years or so Touchstone and with their new singer Aggie they did not disappoint with a set including spirited opener ‘Strange Days’, one of the recent rock scenes grandest epics ‘Wintercoast’, and tracks from their stunning latest EP ‘Lights From The Sky’.
To the end the evening in grand style and with a full stage production it was a showpiece set by Lonely Robot, the brainchild of John Mitchell (Arena, It Bites and more plus loads of production work under his belt) this had wonderful, melodic, well crafted numbers like ‘The Boy In The Radio and ‘Construct/Obstruct’ as well as Astronauts walking among the crowd and finally on to the stage.
Until the wee hours the artists joined us in the Zephyr Lounge where with the strains of prog and classic rock belting out of the speakers courtesy of Mr Ewing we all had a ball.
Fab event, fab music and such great charities to support and my hat off to all of the artists, Jerry Ewing, Assembly and staff, the special three Matt, Adam and Moo and to all involved in such a wonderful and worthwhile event.

Andrew Lock


RIVERSIDE
LEAMINGTON ASSEMBLY
21/5/17
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

This has been a difficult gig to review as I will not bluff my way into pretending I had prior knowledge of the bands music let alone caught them live before and I say this with much regret as this show was an absolute cracker that I will remember for some time.
The bands use of light and shade is simply majestic as they move from crashing almost metal riffs and guitar work to the most ambient, chilled out sounds often during the same number, their use of melody is also wonderful and the overall sound is rich with now and again an Eastern feel while they seem equally in their element on both the rockers and the more delicate, laid back material.
I also sensed a feel of family between the band and their audience which reminds me very much of that special bond between Marillion and their fans
With the recent tragic passing of the bands guitarist Piotr Grudzinski the band have decided to carry on in the studio as a three piece but for this tour they have recruited versatile and impressive guitarist Maciej Meller to embellish the live sound.
The three remaining original members of the band are masters of their chosen craft, frontman Mariusz Duda has a dynamic prog rock voice to go alongside his top draw bass work and engages the audience with ease, Michal Lapaj with his two banks of keyboards adds numerous layers, the odd hammond style rock out and even a touch of beautiful almost Rachmaninov piano at times while the drum sticks are in the safe hands of Piotr Kozieradzki and during the show they all had solo spots to show off their prowess.
Before the band hit the stage it was bathed in yellow light and dry ice while a 20 min or so intro tape of the most chilled, at times hypnotic instrumental music drifted over the crowd, starting with the soothing sound of the saxophone before the keyboards took over this really built up the atmosphere and reminded me a little of when Marillion used to play a large section of Michael Hunter’s equally ambient River album before some of their shows.
The stage lighting and design was spellbinding throughout with so many different set ups all adding to the drama and grandeur of the music.
I must say I enjoyed every minute of the set but looking at my scribbled notes I have a few highlights which included with a touch of that mentioned Rachmaninov style piano at the start the dramatic but at the same time simply beautiful ‘Conceiving You’ with not for the only time in the show a little of Steve Rothery’s emotion packed guitar style.
‘The Depth of Self-Delusion’ was an epic piece, (again!) beautiful and strikingly melodic with bubbling bass and sublime guitar work which moved from laid back vocal and piano passages to heavier guitar based sections with at times that Eastern magic vibe.
A real highlight was when Mariusz pulled a chair on stage and sat for a wonderful, low key performance of the almost folky ‘Lost (Why Should I Be Frightened By A Hat)’ with the audience singing along to the chorus in fine voice.
Loved the Hendrix style funky guitar chops that introduced ‘Panic Room’ and for me this stylish, slow tempo rocker again wears its Eastern influence on its sleeve both in the guitar riffs and the sweeping keyboards.
Another epic in the set was the mammoth, multi style ‘Escalator Shrine’ full of wonderful ambient moments and a rocking middle section, a touch of Riders On The Storm style keys and even a hint of Hawkwind’s Masters Of The Universe style bass also made an appearance for me and, there was just about everything in this one for sure.
Well there we go and I really hope I have done the band enough justice as this was an amazing show and off right now to order their back catalogue.

Andrew Lock


KING KING / BAD TOUCH
LEAMINGTON ASSEMBLY
18/5/17
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

This night of high energy classic rock and blues for me showcased two outstanding albums with the special guest slot by impressive rockers Bad Touch mostly made up of tracks from their excellent second album Truth Be Told while headliners King King included over half of one of the best rock albums of 2015 Reaching For The light in their set.
Five piece youthful rockers Bad Touch made a big impression on me with their full, rich sound having both the groove and swagger of The Black Crowes and at times the majesty of bluesy Led Zeppelin, also having a frontman as strong in both the vocal department and showmanship stakes as Stevie Westwood certainly does no harm.
They had the audience in the palm of their hands right from the off with a groove laden ‘Heartbreaker, Soulshaker’, followed by the cool, loose Black Crowe’s feel of ‘Under My Skin’.
Other highlights included (introduced as a number for those of you that like cowboys) ‘Outlaw’ with a dash of southern rock in the mix, and reinforcing the Black Crowes influence sprightly rocker ‘My Mother Told Me’ merged into a cover of that bands version of ‘Hard To Handle’.
They save the best of I must say a fantastic set until last with the epic ‘The Mountain’ again with a southern rock feel, the laid back opening setting the scene for this outstanding rocker with a huge central riff.
Alan Nimmo dedicated the nights show to his brother and after the tragic news earlier that day to legendary rock singer Chris Cornell.
A roar greeted Alan (in his trademark kilt of course) and the band when they walked on stage and this four piece powerhouse rock outfit really delivered.
Highlights a plenty including groovy opener ‘More Than I Can Take’, a rocking ‘Rush Hour’ one of the standout cuts on the Reaching For The Light album and from the same release the delightfully catchy ‘You Stopped The Rain’ one of the bands lighter numbers but such a wonderful melody.
There where a few words by Alan on one of his heroes Paul Rogers including after someone in the audience said they were not going to Paul’s Free Spirit tour because of high ticket prices he asked if they were at his show “because it was cheap?”, this was followed by a stunning version of Free classic ‘Heavy Load’.
Closing the main set was the epic, slow burning ‘Stranger To Love’ with a middle section that took all of the instruments down until they were only just audible before the powerful rock ballad roared back to life.
Encore with hands in the air and clapping was the upbeat and funky ‘Let Love In’ with for me a dash of country rock to the mix.
Earlier in the set we also had a teaser for the bands next studio album with the catchy, uptempo rock and roll blues of ‘She Don’t Gimme No Lovin’’.
I love this bands sound and style, Alan has such a strong rock vocal style and for some numbers for me he throws in a touch of the Danny Bowes (Thunder) while his guitar work is top draw, the rhythm section of Lindsay Coulson and Wayne Proctor are rock solid and I love the delightful, beefy hammond organ work of Bob Fridzema and so glad the hammond seems to be in vogue again.
From the opening bars of Bad Touch’s set until the the final note of King King’s triumphant encore this was a show to remember and a prime example of why live music still rules.

Andrew Lock


DEMENTIA UK FUNDRAISER
THE OAK HOUSE, LEAMINGTON SPA
14/5/17
(PUBLISHED ON THE HOT MUSIC LIVE WEB SITE - Gig guide and magazine for local live music in Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull)

There was a diverse selection of (for the most part original) live music on offer at this fundraising event for Dementia UK put together by local musician Andy Ward and the event was well supported by local business's especially in terms of the fabulous raffle prizes.
On the music side we had ex Scatsville Busters singer Jane ‘Titine La Voix' Ward’ opening up proceedings with a touch of swing, jazz and burlesque tunes followed by the folk and Irish sounds of The Quiet Men who’s set included a wide variety of instruments.
From this point it got louder with sets by local rock band The Yellow Kings with their mix of grunge, Black Sabbath riffs and at times Foofighters melodies, blues, rock and roll band SanSpirit with Andy Ward on drums and finally blues power trio Electric Moonshine with their Cream like sound.
Top draw entertainment and all for a great cause.

Andrew Lock


WALTER TROUT
LEAMINGTON ASSEMBLY
10/5/17
(PUBLISHED ON THE HOT MUSIC LIVE WEB SITE - Gig guide and magazine for local live music in Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull)
(EDITED VERSUION PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

Two of the best shows I have seen over my 8 years covering gigs at The Assembly have come curtesy of this great man and masterful purveyor of the blues.
So outstandingly brilliant, full of energy, vitality and enthusiasm was his last appearance on the 2015 Battle Scars tour (which was just after his amazing recovery from his serious health issues) that I half expected this to be a more laid back affair but this was not to be as all that electricity and intensity remained for another grandstand performance.
What a lovely touch that family man Walter has the Trout Brothers Band (including his sons) opening up for him on this tour and it is definitely like father like son as they and an amazing young bass player and friend of the family (who is also part of Walters band on this tour) treated us to a cracking blues-rock set which for me had a touch of psychedelic Hendrix and possibly a hint of Cream at times.
The audience lapped up the performance not only for the Trout family connection but also for their top draw performance.
Walter walked on stage casually as he always does and greeted the crowd like old friends and for the next couple of hours enthralled and entertained us in his own unique style while showcasing his complete mastery of the blues.
He performs the whole blues cannon from the riff driven, pounding rockers to the emotional heartbreak of the blues ballads all with such passion and lust for life while throwing out the most incredible solos and that voice is just made to sing the blues.
He was as entertaining and charming between numbers as ever but not surprisingly he also touched on more serious matters of which more later.
His band really is a force to be reckoned with and his longstanding sidekicks, keyboard player Sammy and drummer Michael are characters in their own right as well as musicians of the highest calibre who can read Walters every move and the young bassist from the Trout Brothers Band did a grand job on his second shift of the night.
Set list was a real crowd pleaser and highlights included his slow blues, emotion-packed tribute to his idol B.B.King ‘Say Goodbye To The Blues’ which he has performed at every gig since his recovery to health and what a fitting tribute it is with exquisite guitar and heartfelt words throughout it’s epic length.
We all wanted and of course received a good dose form the remarkable Battle Scars album and he introduced a trio from this release as “the morbid and depressing section of the show”, this may well be true but the music was amazing.
This section started with that albums opening rocker and statement of truth ‘Almost Gone’ followed by the dark and ominous ‘Haunted By The Night’ and closed with the heartbreaking tale of waiting for that phone to ring (with news of a transplant) ‘Tomorrow Seems So Far Away’ the latter with glorious hammond organ sounds.
Later in the set we also had my Battle Scars highlight and one of my top blues rockers of recent years ‘Playin’ Hideaway’, a raucous, full on belter with it’s chunky main riff, wonderful whoa whoa chorus (which lead of course to plenty of audience participation) and dynamic lead guitar solo.
Special guests during his sets is one of Walters trade marks and at this gig it was several guitar jams with his son Jon, the appearance of bluesman Stephen Dale Petit and his sensational bass player Sophie Lord for a top draw run through B.B. kings ‘Rock Me Baby’ and a couple of superb vocal spots by tour manager Andrew Elt (what a voice).
A special mention for another of Walters interpretations of blues classics a full on tour de force of a performance of the Alabama State Troopers power-packed number ‘Going Down’.
Away from the music it was business as usual with plenty of tales, stories and funny lines as on taking his coat off “well that is the show business side and costume change taken care of”, but of course some serious chat as well, for instance talking about his illness and recovery including that when released from hospital he could not talk, sing or play guitar so practiced 8 hours a day for months to get his skills back and how he is now the patron of the British Liver Trust.
Another outstanding performance by not just a top blues man but also a top guy and as always he came out to sign cd’s etc and to say hi to us and I love it that when you meet him he always asks your name and uses it in the conversation, a really nice touch that shows he really cares about his fans.
Please come back soon Walter.

Andrew Lock


LAURENCE JONES
ZEPHYR LOUNGE, LEAMINGTON SPA
19/4/17
(PUBLISHED ON THE HOT MUSIC LIVE WEB SITE - Gig guide and magazine for local live music in Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull)
(EDITED VERSUION PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

Yet another spectacular performance by this amazing blues artist and another on home turf (he regularly looks after what he calls his family of local fans with frequent visits) and a particularly special show as his set was being recorded for a live album.
I was very impressed with the engaging support set by the charming Tom Walker playing solo here rather than with his band The Tom Walker Trio.
For me like Laurence he likes to play his blues with a soulful edge plus a touch of funk and his rich vocals and excellent guitar work on his original material mixed with ace covers made for a sparkling performance with the audience also playing a large part.
Loved original numbers ‘Into Space’ with it’s strong main riff and the laid-back soul of ‘Sweet Angel’ while his impressive cover of Robert Johnson’s legendary ‘Crossroad’ (original title Cross Road Blues of course) was a perfect mix of being faithful to the original while adding a little of his own style.
The audience really warmed to his performance with several sing-a-longs and the stage/off stage banter was flying all set including from myself, after he announced something a little different I asked if it was a blues version of Supper’s Ready to which a bright spark shouted out “he is far to young to know Supper’s Ready”.
I hold my hand up to admitting that on hearing in the queue outside that Laurence had parted ways with dynamic bass player Roger Inniss and added a keyboard player to the band I was just slightly concerned, but my worries were completely unfounded as the next almost two hours would prove.
The newbies to the band were on the bass Greg Smith who may not (at least yet!) have that famous stage interaction with Laurence that was one of Roger’s trademarks but his bass work was top quality while for me the keyboards of Bennet Holland added a wonderful new dimension to Laurence’s sound, I particularly loved it when he added a touch of that honky tonk style to proceedings (and a little of that Hammond sound also worked of course).
Still on the drum stool the magnificent Phil Wilson looking as cool as ever and as for Laurence, well he makes it difficult to review in a way because I always end up saying show after show that this is the best I have seen from him (and yes yet again this was !!!!!!).
Musically he is the complete package, guitar work up there with the greats of the genre with plenty of mixing of the blues styles while he throws in those touches of soul and funk with ease but he can also turn up the heat on the out and out rockers just as easily and his vocals for still such a young man always impress me with their maturity, tone and range.
His albums as with his shows also get better and better along with his songwriting prowess and his last studio album Take Me High was one of my top albums of 2016.
Stagecraft wise he is the complete package and has audiences in the palm of his hands with his friendly, good natured banter but he is also ultra professional as this show proved when during one of the show stopping numbers he handled a sound issue with complete professionalism and coolness.
The setlist for this show concentrated heavily on his last two studio albums or as he put it, to much amusement “all of our X Factor hits”.
Highlights throughout including the heavy blues feel of ‘Evil’, a fresh and zippy ‘Live it Up’, Laurence funking it up on ‘I Will’, the blues rock of ‘Good Morning Blues’ and turning up the tempo and heat on ‘Stop Moving the House’ for me the latter should be a regular in the set and I think it would also make a fantastic set closer or encore.
The epic of the night took us right back to his debut album and as he explained one of his very first compositions with a spectacular ‘Thunder In the Sky’ full of atmosphere, style and amazing guitar work throughout this was also where the sound gremlins struck but when he had it sorted and restarted the number it was of course performed to perfection.
A real standout for me and and making up for no Hendrix blow-out tonight was his fab take on Eric Clapton’s ‘Cocaine’ with the crowd in great voice throughout and in a clever touch he also threw in guitar snippets of ‘Layla’ and ‘Sunshine of Your Love’ to make it a wonderful (no pun intended!) Clapton medley.
For me there is a touch of reggae to the funk blues of ‘Something’s Changed’ which was probably the reason we had a few lines of ‘I Shot the Sheriff’ (Bob Marley style) blended in and I also loved it when those honky-tonk piano sounds lit up the groovy ‘Don’t Need No Reason’.
To complete the night we also had a teaser for the next studio album and a real treat as Tom Walker returned to the stage for the last couple of numbers which included them trading (guitar!) blows on a pulsating version of blues standard ‘Every Day I Have the Blues’.
One thing I have noticed at Laurence gigs is that no one is quicker getting from the stage after the encore to greet fans, chat and sign stuff and for me this interaction is so important for an artist.
One of my memories from this show that also says so much about Laurence as a person is him trying to advise a young musician at the merch stand after the gig about making it in the music business, he was so sincere and interested in what the guy was asking and gave him a few pointers and told him to get in touch with him on-line as well - what a star.
A corking night of blues and so looking forward to the live album, studio album number 5 and of course my next Laurence Jones gig.

Andrew Lock


WHOLE LOTTA LED
ZEPHYR LOUNGE, LEAMINGTON SPA
11/3/17
(PUBLISHED ON THE HOT MUSIC LIVE WEB SITE - Gig guide and magazine for local live music in Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull)

Just over a year after the bands debut Zephyr Lounge show Whole Lotta Led bought their Zep magic back to the venue, unfortunately vocalist Lee was suffering with a cold which although it must have affected his performance (like the whole band I am pretty sure he is a perfectionist when it comes to the music/performance) for me it did not hinder the show at all.
Again the performance weighed in at well over two hours but unlike last year supplied in one mega set and I was impressed by the number of changes bringing in the likes of ‘Celebration Day’ and the rarely heard ‘Royal Orleans’.
Of course the absolute classic Zeppelin knockouts were kept in place so still room for my standout number from last year ‘Ramble On’ where once more I (along with many others I am sure) looked on in amazement at the amazing drumming and work rate of Charles.
Other must haves in the set present and correct a magical ‘Stairway To Heaven’, the Eastern promise of the mighty ‘Kashmir’, ‘Black Dog’ (a real test for Lee on the vocals) and lead guitarist Nicks showpiece ‘Dazed and Confused’.
A special mention must go to a jaw dropping ‘When the Levee Breaks’ for its thunderous drum work, bluesy harmonica and top slide lead guitar and a simply beautiful ‘The Rain Song’.
One encore this evening and no surprise as a large dose of incendiary drumming introduced the mighty ‘Rock and Roll’.
Great show again lads and maybe see you here next year and on another note I am impressed by a few of the changes to the Zephyr since my last visit with the improved stage lighting and stage in general.

Andrew Lock


2016



TOUCHSTONE, GHOST COMMUNITY, HEATHER FINDLAY BAND
ROBIN 2, BILSTON
18-12-16
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

A varied night of Prog inspired music at this the welcome return of the Touchstone Xmas bash back at one of its regular homes The Robin 2 in Bilston (and a fine venue it is).
First up at this 3 band show and a real treat for me as a huge Mostly Autumn fan was a (for the most part) acoustic performance by the Heather Findlay Band’ with the four piece line-up playing a wide selection of instruments including guitars, flutes and even a full sized harp.
Heather with surely one of the finest voices in British rock was on exceptional form throughout the set which with a clever twist for the time of year had a wintery feel with most of the material coming from her recent ‘I am Snow’ album including Mostly Autumn treats for the likes of myself.
The numbers from her Autumn years (also rerecorded on the new album) were a magical ‘The Eyes of the Forest’, the rare Mostly Autumn Christmas EP number ‘Winter is King’ and what was often one of Heathers showcase vocal performance in her years with that great band the gorgeous ‘Above the Blue’ (would have loved to hear Shrinking Violet so may need to get to a future headline show).
Other gems in this glorious performance included new album tracks ‘Winter Winds’ with its hints of Mostly Autumn at their most earthy and spiritual which also has a Blackmore’s Night touch and the lovely title track ‘I am Snow’ in its way possibly a follow up to Autumn’s Mother Nature as well as the beautiful Mantra Vega track ‘Lake Sunday’.
Sound was spot on, the music was beautiful and Heather as always has the voice of an Angel.
Next up and a distinct change of direction and volume as Ghost Community hit the stage full of power and bombast and so good to see bass player extraordinaire Matthew Cohen back on the stage pounding away on those thick strings and smiling away all set.
Hard to pigeon hole the bands sound but while there is certainly a prog edge the rock meter is well and truly turned up to 11 and I possible hear a little of the likes of Arena to their sound.
Highlights for me were the more laid back ‘Blue December Morning’ during which I loved the snippet of Zeppelin’s Kashmir towards the end and the epic ‘Ghost Community’.
This was my first taste of this new band and picked up the album so next time I should be more aware of the bands material but vocalist John Paul Vaughan has a rich powerful voice and loved some of the guitar work of Simon Rogers.
Time for Touchstone and with the huge line-up changes I was so happy that the band still have that magic and while I will very much miss both Kim (Elkie) and Rob here’s to the future of a great band.
New vocalist Aggie has big shoes to fill (so to speak!) as Kim was such a much loved member of the band with a magnificent voice (often there or there about in the CRS Best Female Vocalist poll) and such a character on stage to boot but Aggie seems to fit the bill in the vocal department perfectly and I am sure will get better and better at the stage banter.
While similar in stature to our Kim Aggie is different in the stage wear department and went for an impressive rock goddess type leather look which she carried off with aplomb.
On keys we have another new face Liam Holmes supplying those layers and atmospheric sounds which are very much a part of the bands identity.
Of course we still have a large core of the previous long-standing Touchstone line-up in place with the fantastic interacting partnership of Adam (lead guitar)and Moo (bass and cheeky grins) and sticks man Henry.
Plenty of Touchstone classics in the set as the new line up only has an EP of new material out there but hopefully many of these golden oldies will stick around for future shows anyway.
Highlights in the classic department included a full throttle ‘These Walls’ with its catchy chorus, ‘Spirit of the Age’ fast becoming a live staple and a perfect example of the bands excellent use of light and shade, the always sprightly ‘Zinomorph, the majestically epic ‘Wintercoast’ (with its awesome Jeremy Irons spoken intro) and the dance along, sing along, anything you want along speeding rollercoaster that is ‘Strange Days’.
The new EP tracks were all aired ‘Tangled Lines’ with it’s rocking main riff and Eastern grandeur, the sweeping, flowing ‘Fear’ with wonderful keyboard touches and the atmospheric epic feel of ‘Lights From the Sky’ with again a touch of that Eastern magic.
This was of course a Christmas gig so we also had fun versions of ‘I Wish it Could be Christmas Every Day’ and in tribute to the late great Greg Lake ‘I believe in Father Christmas’ and the audience of course helped out during both of these seasonal delights.
So pleased that one of my favourite bands seem to be in such safe hands and while as I have mentioned I will miss the two departures a great deal this band have far to many belting tunes that need to be performed including for me in ‘Wintercoast’ one of the greatest rock numbers ever recorded.
Also always a joy to see Adam and Moo on stage having such fun and bouncing off each other while new girl Aggie seems to fit in with this stage dynamic really well.
What a show and roll on Trinity 2 at the Leamington Assembly later this year.

Andrew Lock


ROBINSON-STONE
PRESENTS - THE LIFE & MUSIC OF CLIFFORD T. WARD
artrix, BROMSGROVE
19/11/16

A truly wonderful evening by one of my favourite acts but a show with a difference as a whole evening dedicated to the life and musical work of one man, Stourport born singer/songwriter Clifford T. Ward.
The spacious artrix stage was ideal for the young three piece family band to spread their wings, with stage space for both a keyboard set up and a grand piano while still leaving room for the wonderful Kings String Quartet to add their musical magic to many of the evenings numbers.
Robinson-Stone consist of Danny on guitars, vocals, bass and percussion his brother Dean on Keyboards and vocals (and more) and sister Leyna on just about every instrument under the sun and I love their mix of folk, Americana and other styles along with their positive feel-good energy.
Most of the numbers were enhanced with info and stories on the life and music of Clifford along with accompanying visuals on the back screen and to add a real touch of atmosphere many were introduced with snippets of interviews with the man himself making this a fabulous all round tribute and as for the music Wow !!
The show progressed in chronological order visiting his albums and included beautiful renditions of his biggest hit ‘Gaye’, Jigsaw Girl’, ‘Scullery’ and a gorgeous ‘The Best is Yet To Come’.
With Dean moving from keyboards to grand piano and back again, Danny swopping guitars and Leyna moving between her amazing variety of instruments this was a musical masterclass covering the many styles of Clifford’s music Folk, pop and even a touch of blues.
The string quartet added wonderful layers of sound to the overall effect and equally impressive were the couple of more simple almost a cappella style numbers.
A few songs had room for audience participation and this was freely given by the large audience and this included the fun encore of ‘Gandalf’ of course dedicated to that greatest of wizards.
Wonderful tribute, wonderful music in a wonderful venue in fact just a wonderful night.

Andrew Lock


LIVE/WIRE / FEDERAL CHARM
LEAMINGTON ASSEMBLY
11/11/16
(PUBLISHED ON THE HOT MUSIC LIVE WEB SITE - Gig guide and magazine for local live music in Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull)

Back once again at the Assembly, the Live/Wire boys and their AC/DC show looked to me an even bigger production than ever with larger speaker cabinets, more cannons and extra lights (may have been by imagination!) and as for the music they as always rocked with a capital R.
Manchester blues rockers Federal charm had an early start coming on stage at around 7.10 to a fairly sparse audience (which quickly built up) and as with my last looks at this energetic young band (supporting Joanne Shaw Taylor at this venue and the Copper Rooms in Cov) they impressed me with their drive, power and strong original numbers (also love the interaction between the two guitars).
Highlights included opener ‘Master Plan’ with it’s heavy, driving beat and strong guitar riffs, ‘The Stray’ full of cool strutting blues with lashings of slide guitar, loved it when the harmonica made an appearance on a hi-tempo rock and roll number possibly called ‘Hill Billy’ and closer ‘Silhouette' was a wonderfully polished catchy rocker.
I have realised while reviewing and photographing bands over the years that some music fans look down on tribute acts because not original and copycats, while I can see a little in their reason I have to disagree with this view, for 2 reasons

1)They often give fans a chance to have the experience of the music of much loved bands that in some cases are no longer around or maybe when they tour are too expensive for their pockets.

2) While listening to the likes of Planet Rock (also on rock magazine fee cd’s) I often hear new bands original material that sounds exactly like a new AC/DC, Black Sabbath etc release so closely have they followed the template (do love some of these bands though!) and at least with tribute acts they are completely honest and upfront about what they do.

Saying all the above though for me a tribute band have to be bloody good and despite a couple of line-up changes since their last visit to Leam no change in this bands quality and power packed performance, in fact I do not think I have seen them perform better.
Lights down, short intro tape and the rhythm section sets the rock solid groove before on bounced the new boys in the band and our Bon and Angus for the first half of the show and I loved that they started with what surely is the bands signature tune ‘Live Wire’.
From here it was all systems go on a journey through the Bon Scott years (where it is of course top quality throughout) with the likes of ‘Shot Down In Flames’, an epic, crashing ‘Sin City’, a stomping ’T.N.T’ and with all the usual and much loved Angus theatrics in place a glorious ‘Bad Boy Boogie’.
Both recent arrivals to the band did a sterling job both capturing Bon’s cheeky boy manner and power-packed vocals while the Angus guitar work, duck walks and tricks were spot on.
With barely a pause for breath our Bon departed and our Brian took his place bringing the title track of the last studio album to the table and with a decent sized stage explosion it was a rollicking ‘Rock or Bust’ that got part two underway.
As with the Bon Scott years all the anthems were in place including a barnstorming ‘Shoot to Thrill’, a groove laden ‘Rock N Roll Train’, with the preceding sounds of a tolling bell what else but ‘Hell’s Bells’ and the bands biggest anthem ‘You Shook Me All Night Long’.
Encores started with a short fun instrumental Scottish jig to ‘The Bonnie Banks o’ Loch Lomond’ (must admit I thought this indicated a Scotland win in the Euro match with England taking place at Wembley that night - it didn’t !) followed by the return of Bon for ‘Highway To Hell’.
Next with both singers on stage we had the legendary ‘Let There Be Rock’ complete with Bon carrying Angus on his shoulders around and through the audience before finally the cannons were unleashed for a triumphant ‘For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)’ with for me at least the cannon booms/explosions having a little more significance as it was the 11th of the 11th.
Fantastic and the same again in 12 months please lads.

Andrew Lock


MARILLION
NORTH AMERICAN TOUR WARM-UP SHOW
LEAMINGTON ASSEMBLY
12/10/16

This was a rare no camera/note book show for me because of understandable restrictions on press/passes etc as the band did not wish to spoil the stage show/set list for the American fans.
This meant for a change a walk around town for a good few beers (including my newly found gem of a beer Blue Moon) and meeting up with a few other fans at one of the drinking posts close to the Assembly.
This also meant watching the whole show through my eyes in wide screen rather than through a camera lens (would still loved to have been shooting the gig!) and of course I had a sing-a-long (possibly frowned on in the photo pit!).
Arrived close to show time as happy to watch from the rear of the hall to the expected full house and took a spot behind the mixing desk with a good view of the action.
Great idea to have a message on the big screen at the back of the stage before kick off asking fans to put away their phones for the evening and just take in the show while at the same time not having spoilers for the upcoming USA tour over social media, Mark also appeared on stage to again ask this of the faithful.
So pleased that I did not see a phone in the air all evening.
The back screen projections at this show were up there with the very best I have seen and after a small hicup at the very start (this is what warm up shows are for after all!) this majestic evening began with the pulsating intro to ‘The Invisible Man’, the atmospheric screen black and white imagery working its magic with the opening verses sang by a digital H (the vocals live of course!) before on walked the man himself to join the band in the iconic Invisible Man outfit (so to speak!).
The stage imagery added particular power to the three numbers (as if they needed it of course!) from the incredible new album F.E.A.R, the epics ‘The New Kings’, encore ‘El Dorado’ and ‘Living In Fear’, and live these went down an absolute storm.
Band all on their usual tip top form and it really has been far too long since I have witnessed the magnificent Steve Rothery in full flight.
H is such an outstanding frontman and reminds me a little of Jim Morrison and Alice Cooper at times with his intensity and showmanship and he was also on fine form with the banter this evening even passing the mic around to the rest of the band to chat to the crowd although of course they did not have as much to say as Mr H.
Having such a stable line-up for so many years the band as really are a perfectly oiled musical machine all be it one filled with emotion.
The set list was well chosen and for the most part showcased the more dramatic side of their music with many of the standout numbers from their strongest albums, the masterpiece work Marbles was represented by the afore mentioned opener ‘Invisible Man, a beautiful ’Fantastic Place’ and ‘Neverland’ while ‘Goodbye To All That/Mad’ represented the iconic Brave album.
From ‘Afraid of Sunlight’ another of the bands strongest works we had the always crowd pleasing and emotive ‘Afraid of Sunlight’ and a bombastic ‘King’, the latter with back screen images of a multitude of deceased iconic celebrities including ‘Jim’s Morrison and Hendrix, Keith Moon and many more, and being a huge fan of the king of rock and roll loved seeing H and Elvis in his 1970’s splendour sharing the stage.
The rest of the set was made up of ‘Power’ (and full of that it certainly was!) and the band took a couple of breaks from the drama with an upbeat ‘Sounds that Can’t Be Made’ and the wonderfully complex and lyrically eccentric ‘Man of a Thousand Faces’.
We had a little drama off the stage as well as on as someone was taken ill during the encore of ‘El Dorado’ but we were told the person was fine after an ambulance crew took them away and the band then returned and started this epic new number anew.
There you have it and some of you will have read by now how well the North American tour went and it is obvious to us long time fans of the band that this is a real peak for the guys, one of their best albums ever (received really well by the critics), playing a blinder live with the new material particularly impressive, with a fantastically designed stage show fit for the drama and emotion of their fabulous music and as a bonus the recent exciting announcement of a December show at the Albert Hall.
What a night and what an exciting time for one of the best bands around.

Andrew Lock


MOSTLY AUTUMN
LEAMINGTON ASSEMBLY
9/10/16
(EXTENDED REVIEW PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

An epic Leamington Assembly show (along the lines of their Christmas Spectacular at the venue last year) with Mostly Autumn performing for an amazing 4 hours plus split into three sets where they managed to include so many of their iconic and most loved numbers with the addition of a fabulous special guest performance.
First set of the day gave us different takes (including acoustic) of well known band numbers and also gave individual band members a chance to shine and opened with one of my standouts of the day, a slow, chilled out version of the usually high octane rocker ‘Never the Rainbow’ followed by going way back to album one - track 1 for the much loved ‘Nowhere To Hide (Close My Eyes)’.
Other MA classics for this early shift included epics ‘The Last Climb’ and ‘Evergreen’, while other highlights included Olivia’s stunning vocals on Breathing Space number ‘Rain Song, and the wonderfully talented and charismatic drummer Alex swopping his sticks for a guitar/vocal performance of his original composition ‘Superheroes’.
Angela and Chris gave a sublime rendition of Odin Dragonfly number ‘Given Time’ and so good to hear the gorgeous Heart Full of Sky bonus disc number ‘Gaze’ performed by Chris.
Next up the special guest spot, an all instrumental affair by the two-piece Papillon which consists of spectacular violin player Anna Phoebe who at times raced around the stage like a whirling dervish (difficult to take your eyes off her and a challenge to photograph for sure!!) while playing the most wonderful/magical music on her instrument alongside talented guitarist Nicolas Rizzi.
The music was a wonderful blend of gypsy, classical and rock music with even a touch of an Irish jig, this was a spellbinding aural and visual performance by a duo to watch out for who both musically and in the showmanship stakes are something to behold.
After a short break during which the MA guys and girls and Papillon came out to chat and sign etc it was time for Autumn’s second set of the day billed as “songs which have inspired them”.
This included plenty of surprises as well as the expected Pink Floyd numbers of which we still had three, opener ‘Us and Them’, ‘The Great Gig in the Sky’ with Olivia’s show stopping vocal gymnastics and finally Bryan’s time to shine with his incredible solos on the iconic ‘Comfortably Numb’
This set saluting the bands musical heroes also included a full pelt ‘Rock and Roll’ (Led Zeppelin), hats of to Alex for the pulsating drum work, Angie on vocals for a beautiful ‘Who Knows Where The Time Goes’ (Fairport Convention) and a blistering assault on Neil Young classic ‘Like a Hurricane’ with Bryan shredding like a good un.
Thought it was a touch cruel (although she coped fantastically) for Olivia to have to follow her Gig In The Sky triumph with the equally challenging ‘All By Myself’ (Eric Carmen), while another masterful vocal performance was for possibly the biggest surprise inclusion in the set, Chris’s sterling work on Radiohead’s ‘Fake Plastic Trees’.
The final set was a mammoth one filled with band classics from their extensive back catalogue and the spectacular back screen presentations were put to fabulous use.
Starting with a welcome return for the stirring ‘Out of the Inn’ this set would surely have made every Autumn fan present more than happy, with numbers from so many of the bands albums from their debut up until the most recent Dressed In Voices with a track from Bryan’s new side project album by Josh & Co LTD thrown in for good measure.
We had the band at their heaviest rocking out on ‘Answer the Question’, ’Deep In Borrowdale’ and a roaring ‘In For The bite’ ( from Transylvania Part 1 - The Count Demands It / Josh and Co LTD) while the gentler and at times spiritual side of the band was found on the likes of ‘Silver Glass’, ‘Passengers’ and ‘The House On the Hill’ (still my favourite track on Dressed In Voices).
The epic side of the bands music was well represented including possibly their most epic piece ‘Mother Nature’ (so good to have Angela back on the flute) and the Breathing Space classic but now a Mostly Autumn live staple ‘Questioning Eyes’ always one of Olivia’s showcase numbers.
Encore time began with another of the bands epics the atmospheric ‘The Night Sky’ and this fabulous evening ended in true MA tradition with a stirring and passionate ‘Heroes Never Die’ after which the band to mass approval took their well deserved bows.
What a show, what a band, they never disappoint and pretty sure they never will.

Andrew Lock


MOSTLY AUTUMN
LEAMINGTON ASSEMBLY
9/10/16
(SHORTER REVIEW PUBLISHED ON THE HOT MUSIC LIVE WEB SITE - Gig guide and magazine for local live music in Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull)

An epic Assembly show by one of my two favourite bands (luckily for me the other Marillion playing the same venue 3 days later) and Mostly Autumn with their distinct blend of classic and progressive rock with now and again a sprinkle of folk rock performed for an amazing 4 hours or so (split over 3 sets).
I have followed this band for around 14 years and have never heard such a selection of their classic numbers at one show, all this and the addition of a cracking covers set.
The original material covered them at their rock-out best on belters like ‘Answer the Question’ and ‘Deep In Borrowdale’, featured their beautiful ballad side on the likes of ‘The House on the Hill’ and ‘Passengers’ and the epic side of the band was also well on show including ‘Mother Nature’, and ‘The Last Climb’.
The first set gave us different takes (including acoustic) of well known band numbers and also gave individual band members a chance to shine, while the 2nd set billed as “songs which have inspired them” included plenty of surprises as well as the expected Pink Floyd numbers with versions of songs made famous by the likes of Neil Young, Fairport Convention and Radiohead.
The final set was a mammoth one filled with band classics from their extensive back catalogue and the spectacular back screen presentations were put to fabulous use.
This band have plenty of diverse material, one of the countries best rock lead guitarists in Bryan Josh and lead singer Olivia Sparneen-Josh has the voice of an angel, her vocals on the brace of Eric Carmen’s ‘All By Myself’ and Floyd’s ‘The Great Gig in the Sky’ during the covers set had to be heard to be believed.
They have a dynamic, rich sound embellished with plenty of keyboard layers and at times the addition of exquisite flute work and at this gig we also had Anne Phoebe adding her wonderful violin to a few numbers as well as a fab saxophone player.
The support set was an all instrumental affair by the two-piece Papillon which consists of spectacular violin player Anna Phoebe who at times raced around the stage like a whirling dervish while playing the most wonderful/magical music on her instrument along side talented guitarist Nicolas Rizzi.
The music was a wonderful blend of gypsy, classical and rock music and this was a spellbinding aural and visual performance.
What a special show and they guys came out for nearly an hour in the interval to chat to fans and sign, if you have still not checked them out highly recommend that you do and catch them next time they are in town.

Andrew Lock


UK GUNS N’ ROSES - LEAMINGTON ASSEMBLY
1/10/16
(PUBLISHED ON THE HOT MUSIC LIVE WEB SITE - Gig guide and magazine for local live music in Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull)

I last enjoyed a night of Guns N’ Roses style magic performed by these guys back at the Assembly in 2010 and the lads sure still have it.
Also very much enjoyed the short Sabbath inspired set by support for the evening Chemical Mojo, numbers driven by solid riffs with throbbing bass lines and dynamic lead guitar work which combined with their quality original material and the lead guitarist pulling off all the rock start poses in style made for a cracking start to the evening.
A standout from the lads set was ‘Open Up the Sky’ with a wonderfully mysterious Eastern guitar intro leading into a dynamic rocker with a knockout main riff.
Headline time and fab versions of all of the iconic Guns numbers you could ask for including ‘Welcome to the Jungle’, ‘Nightrain’, ‘Live and Let Die’, ‘Civil War’ and of course ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’.
They also added a few less well known tracks for the die hard fans such as ‘Used To Love Her’, ‘Pretty Tied Up’ and ‘It’s Alright’ (the Sabbath cover performed occasionally by GNR) while I particularly enjoyed the more laid back brace of ‘Patience’ and the epic ‘November Rain, another highlight was an extended (and at times funky) ‘Rocket Queen’.
The bands Axl has it well and truly nailed with the voice and stage craft (for most of the set a human dynamo!) off to a tee and the numerous costume changes and props made it a real show, while the band (including a cool as you could ask for slash) also played all their parts to perfection including the stand in drummer.
A fab night combining a young rocking new Sabbath inspired band and one of the best tribute bands around.

Andrew Lock


PLOUGH BEER FESTIVAL 2016 MUSIC
PLOUGH AND HARROW, WHITNASH
27/8/16
(PUBLISHED ON THE HOT MUSIC LIVE WEB SITE - Gig guide and magazine for local live music in Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull)

Saturday at this years beer festival at the Plough and Harrow in Whitnash had on offer along with the usual well chosen selection of real ales and ciders a wealth of musical entertainment to add to proceedings.
For my visit which was early - from festival opening time until around 5.30 the music was top draw and supplied by five youthful local singer/songwriters of real quality.
On for me the more modern side we had Rosie Samaras (who like most of the other performers mixed originals with well chosen covers) whose set included an excellent version of Beyonce’s ‘Crazy In Love’ and a powerful set by Joe Dolman who also sorted out the sound for the day.
With more of a folky feel we had fine sets by Hannah Woof which included wonderful original ‘Scars’ and Amy J who in her set included quality renditions of two Neil Diamond penned numbers ‘Sweet Caroline’ and The Monkee’s ‘I’m A Believer'.
Finally Paris Georgia gave us a good slice of her warming country/rock sounds including a countryfied ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ and emotion packed original ‘Gemima’.
Quality throughout with 5 exceptional vocalists and song/writers again showcasing the enormous wealth of our local musical talent.

Andrew Lock


GRISTFEST 2
The Grist Mill
Leamington Spa
(19th-21st August)
(PUBLISHED ON THE HOT MUSIC LIVE WEB SITE - Gig guide and magazine for local live music in Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull)

For the second time this year The Grist Mill in Leamington Spa played host to a weekend-long live music charity event and despite the weather meaning more of the action took place inside the pub rather than in the carpark area as hoped it was another great success.
Gristfest 2 had the aim of raising money for two charities Myton Hospice and The Rest Stop and once again the wonderful local musical talent answered the call to arms of Peter Drew and Clive Brooks.
I made two visits early doors on both Sat and Sunday, on Sat catching sets by Estelle and a separate set by her two daughters followed by an appearance by Peter Drew on drums with James & Friends (who impressed me with the Buddy Holly covers) and rock covers band Lucky Dog the latter with some good harmonica work curtesy of the frontman.
Also on Sat really enjoyed the chilled out jazzy/soulful set by Kate & the Mooncats, my first look at strong singer/songwriter Matty Coles and finally one of my favourite local artists Taylor Louise who at this show performed with her band.
Sunday I was back again, had always planned my Sunday visit around two bands The Jolly Rogers and Red Root Revival two very different rock outfits who both rock my boat.
Sadly Red Root had to cancel but The Jolly Rogers one of my top bands at this years Napton Festival did it again with a stonking collection of choice, classic rock cuts by the likes of Thin Lizzy, AC/DC and many more really well played with plenty of power and energy.
Also on the Sunday a few acts did manage to perform outside and caught sets by well known local singer/songwriter (who does a lot of work for the local music scene) Shanade Morrow and a cracking blues set by Chris Gibbons which included a surprise last minute appearance by Mr Drew on the sticks.
As a bonus there was also a short set by singer/song writer Ian Bourne who showed up on the day and his set included a clever number taking the side of Zombies.
Hopefully a good amount was raised for the charities and hats off to all involved for another weekend of live music all for great causes.

Andrew Lock


LAURENCE JONES
THE TOWNSEND HALL, SHIPSTON ON STOUR
5/8/16
(PUBLISHED ON THE HOT MUSIC LIVE WEB SITE - Gig guide and magazine for local live music in Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull)

Laurence was on fire for this homecoming show in his beloved Shipston On Stour which was also the official launch gig for his 4th album Take Me High, he first performed at the venue at the age of 12 at a talent show.
Support was quirky 5 piece rock band Jupitronz, hard to pin down a style as for me the sound included elements of prog rock, indie rock and a touch of Hawkwind style space rock at times, and I also thought I heard touches of Clash and even the vocal harmony work of Deacon Blue.
Vocal harmonies really stood out and this was an interesting set with the highlight possibly ‘Curse of the Green Monkey’ with it’s touch of funk.
I have had the pleasure of seeing such progression in Laurence’s playing, stage craft and overall confidence, from seeing him jamming with Steve Walwyn (Dr Feelgood) at the Zephyr Lounge on a couple of numbers to this knockout performance at a packed to the rafters home town gig.
I love that he mixes the blues styles so well, blues rock, swamp blues, funky blues, you name it he delivers it all with panache and he is turning into a songwriter of real depth and quality.
His band could not be tighter with long time bass extraordinaire Roger Inness the perfect foil and also a bit of a star in his own right while the newest member of this 3 piece band drummer Phil Wilson fits in perfectly in both his playing and his style/look.
Laurence pulls off all of the much loved show boating guitar skills with great aplomb, use of feedback, one handed playing and almost taking his guitar into the front row itself.
The atmosphere was electric as Laurence and band walked on to the stage and this sense of excitement remained throughout.
The set burst into life with newbie ‘Got No Place To Go’ and plenty on offer from his new baby this evening including ‘Something’s Changed’ where Laurence threw in a little reggea/ska and the groove laden ‘I Will’ (debut single from the album).
New gems also included the lively ‘Live it Up’ dedicated to a sadly departed friend and ‘Down & Blue’ written about Laurence’s Creons disease.
Not just the fab new stuff on offer though with visits to his other 3 albums including turning up the heat on rockers ‘Can’t Keep Living Like This’, full blooded epic ‘Thunder In the Sky’ and what Laurence called one of his hits (as he puts it “except I don’t have hits as I play real music”) the catchy summer-feel, blues of ‘Fall From the Sky’.
Really pleased to see the re-introduction of his Hendrix segment (have really missed this part of his set) for an explosive ‘All Along the Watchtower’ complete with an extended jam and even a touch of Stairway To Heaven.
Laurence was also on top form between numbers and loved the way he said with great pride about halfway through the set that they had already had a complaint about the noise from a neighbour and he also told a few tales of his times in Shipston.
The crowd were up for this gig as much as Laurence himself, dancing, clapping, singing along and hands in the air all totally caught up in the magic of this special night and as for myself this could easily make it to my top 10 ten shows of all time.

Andrew Lock


NAPTON FESTIVAL 2016
8/7/16 - 9/7/16

My favourite local festival came around again this year with as usual it’s set of top draw performers both local and from further afield and speaking of fields I managed to find myself (after saying never again for years !) in a tent which meant I could attend both days.
Weather held out again this year and the new stage looked impressive and as for the artists hard to know where to start with the musical highlights as so many and so to avoid writing a ‘War and Peace’ length epic piece here are a few of the bands that made an impression on me but there were many other fine performances.

FRIDAY

The ‘Jolly Rogers’ must have been looking through my iPod playlists to put together their corking classic rock set which included numbers by ZZ Top, Black Sabbath, AC/DC, Iron Maiden and many more. Particularly impressive was song choice with rarities as well as the well known hits performed such as Sabbath classic ‘Fairies Wear Boots’ and Lizzy’s ‘Emerald’.
Also great to see on stage someone I loved to see and hear (and photograph !) at the Cambridge Rock Festival (back in the day) with her previous band Split Whiskers, the lovely lady with the colourful flying dreadlocks (and fab smile !) Claudia 'Beads' Mckenzie with her new 70’s style prog rock band ‘4th Labyrinth’.
We had a manic but entertaining glam/punk set by ‘Dead Frequency’ with both original numbers and covers by the likes of The Sweet and The Ramones and a high energy performance by young indie rockers ‘The Ellipsis’.
Top tribute band ‘The Total Stone Roses’ had the crowd in the palm of their hands as headliners with all of that iconic bands greatest hits including opener ‘I Wanna Be Adored’, ’She Bangs the Drums’ and ‘Waterfall’.

SATURDAY

Saturday started brightly with a blues rock set by ‘Bombadiers’ with a couple of Doors moments, the singer capturing Jim Morrison’s style really well especially on the cover of ‘Backdoor Man’.
Two talented singer/songwriters performed standout sets ‘Sophie Debattista’ was impressive and charismatic with quality originals such as ‘Jump the Gun’ and ‘Beer Goggles’ while 14 year old ‘Matilda Pratt’ coped really well with the main stage nerves delivering a professional sounding set of originals and a beautiful version of Radiohead’s ‘No Surprises’.
I am running out of good things to say about family outfit ‘Robinson Stone’ one of my favourite bands these days and their set went down a storm with corkers like ‘Bye Bye’ and ‘Rise and Fall’
as did the Americana stylings of ‘Rosellys’ with cowboy hats, fiddle work and fab country tunes.
‘Grace Solero' turned it up to 11 with their brand of rock with at times an Eastern influence and rockers such as a souped up ‘Electro’ had the crowd rocking.
Really impressed with London indie band ‘Feral Ghost’ and loved their summer single ‘Could this be Love’ performed during their set.
To close the festival it was singing and cheesy dancing all the way as ‘Take That Live’ performed all the hits of you know who and whether you admit it or not sure those of you reading this know most of them.
Made 2 trips to the acoustic stage for the impressive harmonies of the 3 piece ‘Soul Sisters’ and for the blues set of guitarist/vocalist ‘Dave Pepper’ who bought good friend of mine and master of the harmonica Nick Rowbotham on stage for a couple of numbers.
This festival has the knack of finding a fantastic line-up so hopefully back there in 2017.

Andrew Lock


TESTAMENT
LEAMINGTON ASSEMBLY
21/6/16
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

A gig admittedly just outside of my comfort zone (classic rock lover me!) but I must admit I really enjoyed what was for the most part a night of full on power packed, hi-intensity metal.
Opening band Broken Teeth who bill themselves as Manchester hardcore had as you would expect from their moniker plenty of aggression and attitude (and bite !!!!) in their musical approach and in front of pounding drums and frantic guitar work vocalist Dale Graham prowled the stage like a man possessed spitting out the ferocious lyrics.
Next up and with more of a classic rock edge (to keep oldies like me happy !) an impressive set by London outfit Savage Messiah mixing touches of old school Maiden and Priest with a good dose of thrash.
Highlights included the hook driven punch of ‘Hellblazer’ where the Maiden influence shines and the 100mph sprint of ’Minority of One’ with it’s political overtones.
Dave Silver made for a captivating frontman his friendly banter between numbers a match for his powerful rock vocals and newest recruit Sam S Junior ripped through plenty of scorching guitar solos.
Finally with the skull backdrop and gothic props in place it was time for Bay Area Thrash Metal to hit Royal Leamington Spa.
Testament sure did tear it up with a wonderfully impressive onslaught of pure power, a total wall of sound which for me still had plenty of hooks and melody and of course plenty of belting guitar riffs and roaring vocals.
Not much light and shade but this was not a problem as they rampaged through old school thrash delights such as ‘Legions of the Dead’, ’Practice What You Preach’ and ‘Into the Pit’ the latter dedicated to their crazy, slam dancing, crowd surfing army of loyal fans.
Not just one but two red hot lead guitarists to light up the stage and Alex Skolnick and Eric Peterson both put in a real shift while charismatic long standing vocalist Chuck Billy took full control of proceedings managing the audience in great style with top notch power-metal vocals to boot and what an immense heavy drum and bass sound supplied by Steve and Gene.
Plenty of chances for audience participation with numerous hands in the air and fist pumping opportunities and in the centre of the hall what looked like a good natured but enthusiastic section of the crowd could be seen dancing away bouncing off each other and having a ball.
Ending with a dark, forbidding monolith titled ‘The Formation of Damnation’ I enjoyed this show far more than I ever thought I would and pretty sure I had a smile on my face now and again as I was head banging away on the side of the hall.

Andrew Lock


LEAMINGTON PEACE FESTIVAL 2016
18/6/16
(PUBLISHED ON THE HOT MUSIC LIVE WEB SITE - Gig guide and magazine for local live music in Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull)

As this event was the start of my attempt at live music photography back in 2008 I made my usual (if short) visit to the Pump Room Gardens in Leamington Spa for a little taste of the music on offer.
Weather was great so that meant a decent sized crowd as I arrived on the Saturday afternoon around 4.15 and made my way first to the Band Stand stage.
I caught 3 artists performing on the famous band stand, young Coventry based singer/songwriter Izzie who impressed with her gentle harmonies, a moving a cappella set by Marilla Holmes and closing the stage the beautiful voice of Sarah Ruddick (a little Joni Michell in their) alternating between guitar and keyboard backing this lady who I first heard at the festival back in 2009 was again a delight to hear.
Over on the Riverside stage I also took in 3 acts, multi-instrumentalist Ruth Owens (love a little saxophone) and her band, the wonderfully bonkers Babel with their rocked-up sound, amazing props and sc-fi style intros and lyrics then finally the soothing, tranquil sounds of Roots band Culture Dub Orchestra.
As always a wonderfully diverse selection.

Andrew Lock


STEVE WALWYN’S 60TH BIRTHDAY GIG
ST. PATRICK'S CLUB, LEAMINGTON SPA
9/6/16
(PUBLISHED ON THE HOT MUSIC LIVE WEB SITE - Gig guide and magazine for local live music in Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull)

A fabulous night for our wonderful local musician and all round great guy Steve Walwyn with a packed room of friends, family and fellow ex and current bandmates and of course plenty of music with Steve performing on all 4 sets.
First up was a showing of Steve’s very first band Hands Off with a rocking covers set of the music they used to play back in the day including ‘Roadhouse Blues’ and ‘Tush’ followed by a raucous set of R & B rockers by The Mosquitos which really got the joint rocking and when they slowed it down it was for a scorching ‘I'd Rather Go Blind’.
Second set started with a selection from his 2015 solo album ‘Instinct to Survive’ which included the turbo charged title track and the wonderful swagger of ‘Sweet Louise’.
Chevy hit the stage running with a corking ‘The Taker’ with once again Martin Cure showing what a rock god lead vocalist he is and the band were on magnificent form all set with the likes of soulful rocker ‘Cold and Lonely’ and the epic ‘Skybird’.
A great night for a great man and the musical talent in the room was amazing with plenty of guest appearances and the likes of Nick Rowbotham, Bob Poole, Chris Wright, Paul Shanahan, Sam Powell, Jim Batty and so many more helping the party along.

Andrew Lock


MAGNUM
LEAMINGTON ASSEMBLY
30/5/16
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

So good to see one of the greatest of Great British classic rock bands back at The Assembly, a band that consistently deliver quality albums and fabulous live performances.
Support for the night was supplied by Vega and what a great choice this band was having the very best qualities of a classic AOR band and a set brim full of short, snappy, melodic, feel-good numbers.
Upfront in pure Joey Tempest fashion vocalist Nick Workman worked his magic on the likes of the catchy pop/rock of ‘Every Little Monster’ and ‘All or Nothing’ with it’s meaty main riff.
Magnum with a line-up that has been stable for some time now are always a live force to be reckoned with, upfront magnificent vocalist Bob Catley now a true rock veteran belies his years while guitarist/songwriter Tony Clarkin keeps doing the business on stage and with his wonderful and imaginative musical masterpieces.
Extra layers as always added by the keyboard magic of Mark Stanway, solid drums and abundance of character supplied by Harry James and ever reliable on the bass and to me even more involved in the backing vocals these days Al Barrow.
After a scene setting, dramatic intro Magnum began by going way back to 1982 with ‘Soldier of the Line’ a cracking tale of medieval combat before making me (and probably the whole hall) very happy by then going with a rapturous reception into their classic of classics ‘On a Storyteller’s Night’, this is the 4th time I have seen them and the first performance of this masterpiece for me and well worth the wait.
As always with Magnum they are very proud to showcase their latest musical masterpiece and first up from the newbie the spectacularly epic title track ‘Sacred Blood “Divine” Lies’ with it’s to die for main riff.
Other new album tracks included ‘Crazy Old Mothers’ a good example of the bands execution of light and shade, at times wonderfully bombastic and heavy at others delicate and the solid power ballad ‘Your Dreams Won’t Die’.
Classics galore graced the bands set including a rip roaring, catchy brace from the Storyteller’s Night album in ‘How Far Jerusalem’ and ‘All England’s Eyes’ and from the 1986 album of the same name a glorious ‘Vigilante’.
To end the evening first of all it was Bob and songsmith supreme Mr Catley seated for the beautiful laid-back opening section of ‘The Spirit’ before rocking it up with the full band before finally taking us right back 30+ years to their debut album for a grandiose ‘Kingdom of Madness’.
A cracking set by a great British rock band flying as high as ever and I for one cannot wait until the next album and tour.

Andrew Lock


WARWICK FOOD FESTIVAL 2016
WARWICK MARKET PLACE
29/5/16
(PUBLISHED ON THE HOT MUSIC LIVE WEB SITE - Gig guide and magazine for local live music in Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull)

As I did last year made a visit to this years Warwick Food Festival for a look around and of course to check out some of the music on offer.
The music arranged by 14 Records was a diverse selection and very high quality, really pleased to catch rockers Red Root Revival for the second time over the weekend and becoming more and more impressed with this band and their breed of driving but melodic rock.
Also on the bill the lively Ska sounds of Grass Routes, the high energy indie rock of Elllipsis and the hard to pigeonhole and at times quirky The Idle Class.
Great to see my niece Shannon Lock in fine action as well and completing the list of the artists I managed to catch was another impressive young female singer Lilian P., singer/songwriter Joe Dolman and keyboardist/vocalist Robert Kelly.
Some great music showing yet again the strength and depth of the local musical talent.

Andrew Lock


WHITSTOCK 2016
THE PLOUGH AND HARROW, WHITNASH
28/5/16
(PUBLISHED ON THE HOT MUSIC LIVE WEB SITE - Gig guide and magazine for local live music in Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull)

This two day festival was put together by Peter Drew to raise money for Myton Hospice with again all bands and helpers giving their time for free.
Enjoyed all the bands I took in which included plenty of r & b supplied by Concrete Boots and The New Wombats, indie rock with a little White Stripes sounds thrown in by Chalk Drawings, the Southern rock/West Coast inspired music of Southern Cross and for something a little heavier impressive young rockers Red Root Revival the latter for me a band with bags of potential.

Andrew Lock


GRISTFEST 2016 - THE GRIST MILL, LEAMINGTON SPA
30/4/16 - 2/5/16

Such a worthwhile event this one which always raises money for a worthy cause which this year was for The Rest Stop charity.
Peter Drew does such a fine job arranging the weekend and booking all the acts that also give their time for free while Gary Tedstone does a sterling job with the sound and the pub itself (management and staff) puts a lot of work and energy into the event.
Over 30 bands/artists performed over the weekend and of the ones I caught particularly enjoyed the blues sounds of Sam Powell both with The Sam Powell Blues Band set and his duo with Chris Jones K2 and the 80’s rock of Too Fat To Kidnap which included covers of AC/DC, Van Halen and Queen.
Opening up proceedings on day one was another rocking set by The Intruders which included both Mr Drew and Mr Tedstone in the line up and loved their fab Hendrix cover.
Other artists I managed to catch over the weekend included solo artists Ellie Read and Paul Whylie, duos Jon and Jon and The Chalk Drawings and cover bands Rhythm Street and Rena and the Renegades who all played their hear out.
A great weekend of live music all for a good cause.

Andrew Lock


OPEN MIC - DRAPERS BAR AND GRILL - HOSTED BY KRISTY GALLACHER
24/4/16
(PUBLISHED ON THE HOT MUSIC LIVE WEB SITE - Gig guide and magazine for local live music in Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull)

My first impressions on entering the venue ‘Drapers Bar and Grill’ in Coventry city centre were promising, a very high ceiling, two floors for eating and drinking with for me a retro 60’s/70’s look with plenty of curves, a designated performance area and a bar with a variety of unusual beers.
The talented singer/songwriter Kristy Gallacher hosts her Drapers open mic nights when possible twice monthly usually on the second and last Sunday of the month at what I think is a great time for live music on a Sunday 2.30pm-5pm.
The format seems to be that after a couple of numbers by Kristy we have several featured artists who each play for around 20/25 minutes and a number of shorter pre booked slots.
The featured artists at this session included the youthful Shannen Lindsay with her modern approach to songwriting/performing and her original numbers had clever lyrics, plenty of attitude along with some rocking acoustic guitar.
A highlight of her set for me being a big Elvis Presley fan was her unusual and effective version of ‘Suspicious Minds’.
Also featured was Dave Fry with his wonderfully warm and cosy folky voice accompanied by his 12 string guitar work and a dose of blues/country by Jon Harrington and Paul Moore accompanied by a percussionist and embellished with a little harmonica.
The shorter slots were made up of performances by two duos One Trick Pony (great banjo work) and John Wright and Hilary Wilson (sharing out the lead vocals) and a solo set by Sam.
A great way to spend a Sunday afternoon with good music and good beer.

Andrew Lock


LAURENCE JONES, THE BLACK CIRCLES, LEVI WASHINGTON
LEAMINGTON ASSEMBLY
8/4/16
(PUBLISHED ON THE HOT MUSIC LIVE WEB SITE - Gig guide and magazine for local live music in Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull)

Another very welcome show on home ground by our very own blues sensation Laurence Jones an artist who still unbelievably seems get better and more accomplished each time I see him in action.
First up on this three act bill was another talented local musician singer/songwriter Levi Washington, wonderfully smart and stylish he looked to for his solo acoustic set mixing well crafted, at times reggae influenced original numbers with a couple of classy covers.
Highlights on the original side included the lyrically clever ‘Sex & Cigarettes’ and ‘Fine By Me’ which for me had a touch of Ed Sheeran about it and of the covers loved his heartwarming version of Bob Marley’s ‘Three Little Birds’.
An impressive start to the evening, Levi’s set was full of quality guitar picking and rich vocals that complimented his impressive writing skills and he comes over as a pleasant, genuine guy.
Next up The Black Circles a cracking three piece blues rock band from Warrington playing their debut gig in town.
Well played hard driving rock with a blues edge and for me a good a good dose of Stevie Ray Vaughn was on the menu from these guys and making a particular impression on me was speedy rocker ‘Gypsy Girl’ and ‘She’s dynamite’ with it’s sizzling Chuck Berry style riff.
All in all a fabulous upbeat set by a band I would love to see in town again.
After a humorous but powerful introduction by the evenings larger than life American mc which managed to reference Lemmy, David Bowie, Donald Trump, David Cameron, the wrath of God and Laurence himself Laurence emerged looking every inch the part with slick hair style and leather jacket to a great reception.
So pleased that long serving bass player supreme Roger Innis is still up there alongside Laurence as apart from being one of the top bassists around his interplay with Laurence is a joy to behold, there was however a new face in the band with Phil Wilson now on the drum stool who both looked and more importantly played the part perfectly.
Opening number ‘Southern Breeze’ while fairly low-key and laid back for a starting number worked really well with it’s quality groove (think well chilled ZZ Top) and feel good beat, this was followed by the first of many from his last studio album ‘What’s It Gonna Be’ with the riff-tastic anthem ‘Good Morning Blues’.
From the same album we had ‘All I Need’ with it’s charging backbeat and the wonderfully soaring ‘Set It Free’ and from his 2012 debut album the epic title track ‘Thunder In the Sky’ was a real showstopper with echoes of blues era Zeppelin and a stunning extended guitar solo.
His clever interpretation of Stevie Wonder classic ‘Higher Ground’ was a real crowd pleaser turning the number into a bluesy rocker.
A rather magical part of the set was when Laurence brought on wonder kid guitarist Toby Lee for a couple of numbers, the ridiculously talented Toby was having a ball trading licks with Mr Jones and scary to think how far this lad could go.
I loved Laurence's comment from the stage that when he first jammed with Toby he felt like he had moved from the brightest young blues artist to a veteran performer in one move.
For the encore we had a rocking ‘Don’t Need No Reason’ full of passion and attitude, then after plenty of genuine thank you’s to his home crowd it was time to hit the merchandise tables and say hi to the artists.
Laurence at this show was again raising money for Crohns & Colitis UK, Laurence has suffered with Crohn’s disease for a while now and in response to the care and support he has received during this time he likes to give something back, this tells you a lot about what a genuine, caring young man this is as well as an artist of incredible talent.

Andrew Lock


ROBINSON-STONE
ARTRIX, BROMSGROVE
25/3/16
(A VERSION OF THIS REVIEW PUBLISHED ON THE HOT MUSIC LIVE WEB SITE - Gig guide and magazine for local live music in Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull)

This was the launch gig for the bands stunning self titled second album and the venue is up there with the best venues I have had the pleasure of visiting, spotlessly clean and tidy with top notch facilities and the studio room for this event perfect for an intimate show such as this one.
Robinson-Stone (previously known as The Robinson Stone Brothers) are the latest act to get make my personal live music play list (those that know me will have a fair idea of the others) and for me are as brim full of talent as anyone I have seen and heard.
You lose count of the vast collection of instruments that this 3 piece family band introduce during the performance particularly with girl wonder Leyna who seems to be able to take her hand to just about every instrument known to man including bass, whistles, the bodhran and more while the two guys also take turns on various instruments.
This young band perform a fabulous blend of folk, country, Celtic folk/rock and roots music with such musical panache along with drop dead gorgeous 3 part vocal harmonies and good humour throughout and you can not fail to be anything but impressed at times mesmerised by their performance.
Seconds after the last audience member took their seat and with no intro tape or grand entrance the band walked on with no fuss as if the gig was for friends in someone’s front room.
The show consisted of two halves and of the 20 plus numbers performed the majority came from the new album and their debut release ‘Home’ with the addition of a selection of quality covers including several from the Clifford T. Ward songbook (a big influence on the band), The Corrs and the Dixie Chicks.
Robinson-Stone consist of Danny who takes main vocals and guitar duties (and more), Dean on piano, percussion (and more including plenty of comic and musical improvisation) and Leyna on bass, Whistle, (and much more).
I can honestly say I loved every number in the two sets so picking standouts difficult but here we go.
From the new album Celtic instrumental ‘The Crew’ reminded me a little of one of Mostly Autumn’s (one of my favourite bands) early Celtic tinged numbers with a little sea shanty thrown in and ‘Bye Bye’ and ‘Forever Young’ were both delightfully catchy, bright and easy on the ear.
Also from the new album they stretched outside their comfort zone with the wonderful blues/funk of ‘Movin On’ and I loved the gospel tinged ‘Get Up Again’ which for me had touches of Chris De Burgh at his best.
Plenty of delights also from the ‘Home’ album including the gothic romance of ‘Emily’ with lead vocals superbly handled by Dean and ‘Rise and Fall’ with its superb vocal harmony work.
The covers included a beautiful ‘Gaye’ (Clifford T Ward), ‘Gone ,Gone, Gone’ originally by the Everly Brothers but performed more in the style of the Plant/Krauss version, a lively run through the Corrs instrumental ‘Toss the Feathers’ and a wonderful ‘Take it Easy (The Eagles).
A bonus and special treat to keep old rockers like me happy was a full hearted take on Bon Jovi’s ‘Who Says You Can’t Go Home’
For the encore it was fun and games and back to Clifford T Ward and in Middle Earth for a fun filled ‘Gandalf’.
Just about a faultless performance with even the guitar re-tunings giving Dean a chance to dazzle on the keys with bits of Billy Joel and a bit of Jazz.
After the show as usual the band made plenty of time to talk to the fans and sign albums etc and they really are such likeable young people.
With so much talent and the most positive of attitudes for this young band surely the sky is the limit and as well as playing again at the Artrix later this year you can catch them on the main stage at this years Napton Festival on Saturday July 9th.

Andrew Lock


WHOLE LOTTA LED
ZEPHYR LOUNGE
13/2/16
(PUBLISHED ON HOT MUSIC LIVE WEB SITE - Gig guide and magazine for local live music in Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull)

A late in the day change from the spacious Assembly to it’s smaller sister the Zephyr Lounge did nothing to hinder this full blooded tribute to the mighty Zeppelin and 2 1/2 hours of the bands most iconic tunes and a few rarities was the order of the day.
This is one of the most impressive tribute acts I have ever witnessed a 5 piece outfit (who’s counting when they were this good !) who concentrated on the music rather than going down the look-a-like route and who are this year celebrating their 20th anniversary.
The line-up included upfront impressive vocalist Lee doing full justice to Mr Plants impressive range and a great story teller to boot, Nick on lead guitar very much the rock god pulling off all the mighty Page riffs and solos with his huge rack of guitars and aircraft control like pedal set-up while at the back Charles gave a momentous Bonham like performance on the sticks, the line up was completed by Geoff on bass and Martin supplying keyboards and at times second guitar.
After a mood enhancing montage intro tape the surprise opener was a stirring ’In the Evening’ and other first half rarities included a groove filled ‘Night Flight’ and a raucous ‘Custard Pie’.
Blues fans were kept happy early doors with a down ’n’ dirty ‘You Shook Me’ (fab harmonica by Lee) and an epic ‘In my Time of Dying’ and my personal highlight of set 1 was a magical ‘Ramble On’.
From the start of the second set the audience seemed to have swelled and definitely had made their way closer to the stage and were more ready to rock and this set was chock full of stone cold classics.
On the punchy, full throttle rock side ‘Misty Mountain Hop’, ‘Heartbreaker’ and ‘Living Loving Maid’ had the first few rows boogieing and head banging and the epics returned with spellbinding performances of ‘Dazed and Confused’, a momentous ‘Kashmir’ and with the addition of the iconic double neck guitar a crowd pleasing ‘Stairway to Heaven’.
All that was needed was a strong finish and the encore was just that with the audience rocking up a storm to the one-two punch of ‘Black Dog’ and ‘Rock and Roll’.
A night to remember for Zeppelin fans performed by Zeppelin fans who just happen to be top rate performers.

Andrew Lock



2015



MOSTLY AUTUMN
LEAMINGTON ASSEMBLY 13/12/15
(EDITED VERSION PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

Billed as ‘Return To Leamington” a reference to that massive night back in 2010 when vocalist Heather Findlay played her swan song gig at this venue this was one of the most unique Mostly Autumn shows I have witnessed.
It was a afternoon start on this drizzly Sunday in December as the band would be playing three full sets as well as having a special guest.
A couple of well known faces to Mostly Autumn fans made a welcome return at this gig and great to see Angela Gordon and Chris Johnson back on stage with the band and also the shows special guest the incredibly talented violinist Anne Phoebe as well as performing her own astonishing set guested several times with the band.
First up an acoustic Mostly Autumn set which included wonderfully stripped down versions of band classics ‘Nowhere To Hide (Close Your Eyes)’ and ‘Never the Rainbow’ the latter especially an amazing transformation after years of the band performing it rocked up to the hilt with Bryan and Olivia’s famous Gillan/Blackmore like guitar/vocal duel.
This part of the evening also included one of the greatest Breathing Space compositions (Olivia’s previous band) ‘Rain Song’ with music and lyrics both by Olivia this beautiful piece worked so well in the acoustic format.
Showing the strength and depth of the band the set then went into a section of individual performances by members of the band which included drummer Alex Cromarty on acoustic guitar/vocals with a sprightly original piece about super heroes, Chris Johnson with a fabulously laid back version of MA number ‘Gaze’ and performances by Angela and Olivia.
Final flourish of this set was the band all together again for a gorgeous performance of the rarely played ‘Through the Window’.
The second set was time for Anna Phoebe accompanied by a keyboardist to blow everyone away with her astonishing violin skills.
She weaved the most incredible soundscape as she went spinning and weaving all over the stage and this was one of the most dynamic and enjoyable support sets I had ever seen.
Her music for me has plenty of Celtic touches, plenty of rock influences and also touches of Eastern/Oriental magic with one number particularly reminding me a little of the music in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
A set that dripped quality and seemed to flash by and numbers of such quality as ‘Embrace’ and ‘Nines’ make me want to check out a lot more of her work.
Set 3 was the big set of the night with a complete performance of the bands latest album, the acclaimed concept piece Dressed In Voices.
Assisted by amazing back screen projections with Anna adding her violin magic and the band on top form the emotion packed story really came to life in this big production.
An emotional piece that includes the band both at their most powerful dramatic best as with the openers ‘Saturday Night’ and ‘Not Yours To Take’ but also has moments of pure beauty the latter emphasised by the staggeringly good ‘The House on the Hill’ (for me now my all time fav MA number).
This album has grown and grown on me and this performance was the icing on the cake.
The final set of the night began with a snow packed mountain on the back screen giving a hint of the first number which was indeed a welcome return for the majestic and powerful oldie ‘Winter Mountain’ the mighty splendour of the music matching the impressive visuals.
For the next 45 minutes or so it was Pink Floyd time with a selection of that great bands finest moments and included some of the heaviest music I have ever heard the band perform.
My highlights from the Floyd set included a thunderous ‘Sheep’, ‘The Great Gig in the Sky’ with Olivia’s incredible vocal gymnastics and of course ‘Comfortably Numb’ with Bryan soloing his heart out.
Back to classic Autumn next with a truly epic ‘The Gap is too Wide’ showcasing the fabulous flute skills of Angela Gordon, another Breathing Space number but now a Mostly Autumn live regular ‘Questioning Eyes’ and to close of course a heartfelt ‘Heroes Never Die’.
With back screens now full of snow and Xmas scenes it was time for the usual Mostly Autumn christmas gig presents and these included fun versions of ‘White Christmas’, ‘I Believe in Father Christmas’ and ‘Fairytale of New York’.
Fab night as always with this band and although I would have loved a few more of the old Autumn Classics (Evergreen, Spirits of Autumn Past etc) the amount of music and the quality was top notch.
The acoustic set made me hope for a future full acoustic tour and hearing a couple of rare oldies also made me wish for the band to revisit back catalogue albums in their entirety for special shows (like Marillion do at their conventions), well it is nearly Christmas so entitled to make a list!
Saying that whatever they play I want to be there.

Andrew Lock


WALTER TROUT
LEAMINGTON ASSEMBLY
24/11/15
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

That this would be a special show (and special tour) was guaranteed just by the fact that Walter was fit enough to perform and maybe that he was even still with us.
As with most others who have seen him on stage I expected a good show but not the two hour tour-de-force he gave us.
First to the support which was a classy set by American blues guitarist Stephen Dale Petit and his two piece rhythm section which the crowd really warmed to.
Plenty of groove to the bands sound which mixed traditional blues with a modern twist of which crisp rocker ‘California’ was a good example and on the more traditional side ‘Soul Survivor’ was a heavy slice of blues rock.
In a nice touch Stephen also performed a number in tribute to the much missed B.B King and tonights headliner Walter, a well accomplished and polished set.
Walter made his entrance on stage to the most blistering reception I have ever heard and let fly with the twin barrelled rocking attack of ‘Help Me’ and ‘I’m Back’ casting out any doubts on if he was up to this tour.
At this show the fact the set was largely made up of the new album was not an issue as his new album Battle Scars is a 10 out of 10 cracker.
The album is as is well known full of stories of his recent health issues and to embellish several of the numbers we had plenty of anecdotes as with ‘Omaha’ which recounts his memories of lying in the hospital waiting for a transplant and the number itself with it’s tribal like drumming, crunching bass and fab guitar work was one of the evening’s stand outs.
Other crackers from the new album the downbeat, atmospheric ‘Haunted by the Night’ and pulsating rocker ‘Fly Away’.
Various guest guitarists joined in on the action throughout the set including an American wonder kid guitarist aged around 10 who was staggeringly good and received thunderous applause, much loved and respected blues rocker Bernie Marsden and in a nice touch his own son Jon.
Plenty of humorous banter away from the health side including when he re-tuned his own guitar and said that most guitarist would have a guitar tech run on with a change guitar but he was “a one guitar and one woman man”.
His band as well as Walter were on fire and from the thumping hammond organ and the rumbling bass lines to the thunderous drumming he could not have a better band alongside him and as for Walter his playing all set was sublime and those gloriously toned vocals made you believe every word surely he is one of the finest blues men in the world.
Left for my train as Walter was just finishing trading licks with the great Bernie Marsden on a belting ‘Rock Me Baby’ and a little bit of Chuck Berry.
What a performance and as I mentioned just did not expect the intensity and sheer power that he delivered and as with the album this gig was also a 10/10.

Andrew Lock

TOUCHSTONE / MAGENTA / LONELY ROBOT
LEAMINGTON ASSEMBLY
21/11/15
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

This was a big night for British prog rock as it was the end of the road for the current line-up of one of it’s shining stars Touchstone, over eight years this version of the band leaves a legacy of fabulous live performances and some of the genres greatest albums.
To make the evening even more special they had put together a support bill of quality, strength and depth.
First up one of the bands best friends and a star both on stage and in the studio John Mitchell performing numbers from his Lonely Robot (album title Please Come Home) project and a few knockout covers.
This was my first listen to the Lonely Robot material and well and truly impressed by what I heard including mesmerising opener ‘The Boy in the Radio’, the clever ’Construct/Obstruct’ and the beautiful ‘Oubliette’ where it was wonderful to have Heather Findlay on the stage as guest vocalist.
On to the covers and what a selection including a spellbinding ‘Life On Mars?’ and a stunning ‘Here Comes the Flood’.
A really strong set with John playing a blinder both on guitar and vocals and his good humour shining through all set - what a start.
Next up and what a treat to see Magenta back on stage for a full set (last time I saw them was for their short but sweet spot during the Trinity charity event back at the Assembly in 2014) and as Christina and band bounced on stage for a spirited ‘Glitterball’ full of bright, lively energy with that touch of Eastern promise that the band do so well knew we were in for a cracker.
No room for my favourite Anger in the set tonight but we did get a visit to the deadly sins with the wonderfully epic and uplifting ‘Lust’, and the main set ended with another epic ‘Metamorphosis’ fantastically complex with all the twists and turns you could ask for.
Back to the stirring Eastern rock soundings of the dramatic ‘The Lizard King’ for the encore and what a powerful way to end the set, a number full of passion and energy.
This was an emotional night for the mighty Touchstone being the end of the road for Kim Seviour and Rob Cottingham and so good to see the Assembly packed for such a special show.
On top of the emotion Kim was suffering with a sore throat so hats off to Heather Findlay for stepping in as vocal support when needed.
Every Touchstone album was visited which shows the strength of their back catalogue and to begin it was two huge album opening numbers ‘Discordant Dreams’ (album of the same name and with a part of ‘The Beggar’s Song’ as well) showcasing both Kim and Rob’s vocals followed by a bouncing ‘Corridors’ (The City Sleeps) such a catchy/flowing number.
Elsewhere we had a fast and funky ‘Zinomorph’ and a powerful ‘Spirit of the Age’ the latter a highlight of the bands last studio album ‘Oceans of Time’, they also went right back to early Touchstone with the fun and quirky ‘The Mad Hatter’s Song’.
The final hurrah of this special set was I am pretty sure what we all wanted with firstly closing the main set a frantic and rousing ‘Strange Days’ followed by encores of that musical juggernaut ‘Wintercoast’ surely one of the finest rock numbers ever, a perfect mix of power, light and shade.
As usual of course the whole night ended with Mr Mitchell back on stage for a full of fun bounce along and hearty sing-a-long to the bands classic cover of ‘Mad World’’ ending a magical gig that I and a lot of others, hopefully the band included will remember for a long, long time.

Andrew Lock


JOANNE SHAW TAYLOR
COVENTRY COPPER ROOMS 2
26/9/15
(EDITED VERSION PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

This was my first visit to The Copper Rooms at Warwick University and this show was in the 300 capacity Copper Rooms 2 venue, the room was well laid out, stylish and the facilities both in the venue and surrounding area top notch just a shame with the low stage unless at the very front you could not see much of the onstage action.
On to the music which was top draw starting with impressive young Manchester blues rockers Federal Charm with a power-packed, hi-octane set.
The four piece hardly paused for breath and their short set included from their latest album ‘Across the Divide’ the lively ‘Hercules’ which had the feel of a bluesier version of Rocket From the Crypt’s ‘On a Rope’ and the heavy as you like ‘Master Plan’.
Headliner and blues queen Joanne rocked up a storm with the as promised set combining numbers from her last album ‘The Dirty Truth’ with a selection picking the cream from her back catalogue.
The volume was loud and the riffs were a knockout in this perfectly paced set and highlights included the down and dirty ‘Outlaw Angel’, the soulful ‘Wrecking Ball’, and the emotionally charged ‘Almost Always Never’ which had Joanne flying solo while seated on acoustic guitar.
My standout track was the epic Led Zeppelin like at times ‘Army of One’, performed acoustically yet still full of power with a fabulous rhythmic beat and impressive guitar picking at times with an Eastern feel, another standout again showing her soulful side was the beautifully smooth ‘Diamonds in the Dirt.
The main set closed in full on rocking fashion with a trip back to her 2009 debut album ‘White Sugar’ with it’s pulsating opening number ‘Going Home’ and the encore kept up the frantic pace while coming right back up to date with ‘The Dirty Truth’ the title track of her last studio album.
Joanne was in sparkling form with the chat as well including the effect of Spanish weather and air travel care ! on her guitars and also really impressed by how she and the band seamlessly coped with a mid-number string break and change of guitar, as Joanne put it “welcome to live music”.
One of the best blues performers on the circuit Joanne and her top quality two piece rhythm section sure gave a demonstration of live blues rock at it’s very best.

Andrew Lock


PLOUGH BEER FESTIVAL 2015
THE PLOUGH AND HARROW, WHITNASH, LEAMINGTON SPA

After being impressed by last year’s festival I was pleased that I managed to get along again this year for a few hours on the Saturday.
Excellent choice of ales and ciders and the package deal of 4 pints, a festival glass and tee-shirt was a bargain at £15 and another bonus for me one of the ales on offer was one of my all-time favourites Cornish Knocker.
This year the pub as with last year put on a fantastic selection of entertainment and the three artists I managed to see were crackers.
First up not long after I arrived was a delightful country set by Paris Georgia including covers by the likes of Taylor Swift and her own material which was followed by a duo I last saw at the Warwick Food Festival (where they also impressed) Jake Melles and Harry Alexander and loved their interpretation of Abba classic Dancing Queen.
To finish my day a band I have heard a lot about and have wanted to see perform for a while now The Rushmore and I was not disappointed with their high energy brand of indie rock and quality original material and love their multi-layered full on sound.
Another successful festival and hopefully it will be back next year.

Andrew Lock


GRISTFEST 2015
THE GRIST MILL, LEAMINGTON SPA

On the 22ND and 23rd of August the Grist Mill in Leamington held its first ‘Gristfest’ a two day music event to raise money for Myton Hospice.
The music was performed both in the pubs carpark and inside the pub itself with the Saturday music being electric and the Sunday all acoustic.
I attended on the Saturday afternoon when the sunny weather had brought along a good crowd and the local artists performing included Red Root Revival with a full on rock set, singer/songwriter Levi Washington and upbeat sets by Grassroutes and The Wombats the latter with a few cracking Dr. Feelgood covers.
A great event, well attended and raising money for such for such a worthy cause.

Andrew Lock


WARWICK FOLK FESTIVAL 2015

I could only attend two days of the festival this year and by pure coincidence they happened to be the two dry days!!
The big event on the Thursday was a main stage concert headlined by the charismatic Billy Bragg bringing his unique punk/folk/protest songs to life in the ‘standing room left only’ arena.
As a warm up for Mr Bragg one of my favourite local bands, Leamington Spa’s The Folly Brothers brought their blue grass magic to the festival and soon got the crowd clapping along and the three piece did not put a foot wrong in a set combining original compositions such as ‘ Jesse James’ and clever covers including Lorde’s ‘Royals’.
Headliner time and my first experience seeing this iconic performer in the live setting and Billy Bragg really impressed me with his song writing, performance and his collection of anecdotes both humorous and political and particularly loved his comment along the lines of “I don’t write about politics, I write about what pisses me off”.
His set was performed roughly half as a one man show and the other with a fabulously talented CJ on amongst other things a steel guitar played to perfection.
Standouts for me included a rousing ‘Sexuality’, the clever and funny ‘Handyman Blues’, the thought provoking ‘Between the Wars’ and to close the expected encore ‘New England’ with the last chorus dedicated to the much missed Kirsty MacColl and the crowd in full voice was a fabulous finale.
Another of my favourite artists performed on the Saturday of the festival, the wonderfully talented singer/songwriter Kristy Gallacher and I managed to catch all 2 and quarter of her days sets (the ¼ was when she stood in with a couple of numbers at an early morning show which she was just due to compere !)
Her main sets of the day consisted of a theatre set and a courtyard outdoor set and she made both sets very different with little crossover of numbers.
Really pleased to see hear my favourite Kristy number the sprightly ‘Fending off the Frost’ and the sets also included tracks from her last two superb albums including ‘Quicksand’ and ‘Blood’ and plenty of new material made the sets which make me really look forward to her next album.
The Open Mic stage under the charge of one of the local music scenes main guys Matt Hernandez included a young lady I was pleased to see on the bill after her appearance a couple of years back at one of the Wild Boar’s “Night of the Musicians“ events and all the way from Somerset Kitty Macfarlane with her beautiful, crystal clear vocal delivery again performed magnificently and her set included a wonderful version of “Song to the Siren”.
Also on the Open Mic stage a solo appearance by Dean McDonald from Coventry band The Session and his clever interpretation of tracks by the likes of Bronski Beat and The Verve to give them more of a folk feel and a powerful traditional set by Scottish singer/songwriter Simon Kempston.
On the main stage early on the Saturday I was impressed by the vocals and guitar picking of Jess Morgan and this talented lady later guested with Stylusboy on his cracking afternoon theatre set, really enjoyed Stylusboy with his unique singing style to go with his strong song writing and the duets with Jess were a treat.
The Saturday evening main stage headliner was right down my alley as it featured the blues which of course just happens to be one of my favourite musical genres and Lil’ Jimmy Reed and his band gave a blues masterclass.
Lil’ Jimmy performed in two very different ways, most of the set sat on his stool reeling off blues runs and riffs with ease along with the haunting sound of the harmonica and his voice full of character and then in stark contrast at other times leaving the stage and playing all through the crowd in a display of fantastic showmanship.
His two piece band gelled wonderfully with the bluesman and must admit I loved every second of his set, highlights throughout but blistering versions of ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’, ‘Baby What You want Me To Do’ and ‘Early in the Mornin’ made this blues lover a very happy man.
Also great to say hi to the great man after the set and see what a gentleman he is.
There we go just a few of my highlights from my two days at this year’s Warwick Folk Festival and from the spontaneous busking in the as always fantastic beer tent area to the multitude of great and varied artists on the bill, all the fun in-between and the friendly atmosphere the festival as always delivered.

Andrew Lock



LUCY ROSE
HEAD, ROYAL PRIORS, LEAMINGTON SPA
8/7/15
(EDITED VERSION PUBLISHED IN LEAMINGTON COURIER)

Lucy Rose is a singer/songwriter who spent most of her early years in Leamington Spa, she is an accomplished artist gaining rave reviews for her work and unbelievably this performance at ‘Head’ in the Royal Priors was her debut live in the town.
The event was in support of her latest album ‘Work It Out’ which was released on Monday 6th July (I have played it to death and is one of my current favourites) and anyone who pre-ordered at the store received preferential tickets for the show.
The store soon filled up with fans and I am sure when she started a lot of other shoppers in the vicinity would have joined the throng as she sounded sensational.
Lucy mentioned that the show was a bit unusual for her as due to space restraints she could not perform as is usual with her band so this was a stripped back performance with Lucy swapping between acoustic guitar and piano during the set.
The numbers performed from the new album seem to work as well with the stripped down treatment as with the full band production on the album with Lucy’s exquisite voice even more prominent.
Highlights of her seven song set included opener ‘Like an Arrow’ which is a beautifully flowing, pure love song with an enchanting melody and the wonderfully light and breezy ‘For You’.
The wonderfully warm ‘Till the End’ with for me just a touch of the All Saints ‘Pure Shores’ with Lucy showing her prowess on the piano was another one of my personal favourites from an excellent show.
Plenty of chat from the likeable artist from the stage including the exciting news that the next day she was performing on the famous Radio 1 'Live Lounge'.
After the performance a long queue was formed for the planned meet and greet and album signing with Lucy giving everyone plenty of time for a chat and a photo op if wanted.
So pleased I discovered this artist who is a new one for me, I just happened to see the poster advertising the show in ‘Heads’ window and checked her music out on-line and immediately knew it was for me.
Lucy has a wonderfully sweet singing voice, is a true multi-instrumentalist along and a song/writer of some quality and completely deserves the success she is getting which included playing ‘T in the Park’ this weekend.

Andrew Lock



STEVE WALWYN - 'INSTINCT TO SURVIVE CD LAUNCH'
ST PATRICK'S CLUB
LEAMINGTON SPA
26/6/15

Had a great night at the launch party/gig for Steve Walwyn's first solo CD 'Instinct To Survive'.
The gig was split into 3 sections with the addition of a Q & A session on the new album, with last train issues only caught the first two sets which were Steve playing with his very first band and secondly a set of Chevy material with the help of Martin Cure and a revamped line-up for the night.
The first set included a few of my all time favourite rockers covered including 'Roll Over Lay Down', Roadhouse Blues' and 'Tush' while the Chevy era set included a roaring ' TheTaker' and a superb 'Cold and Lonely'.
A great turnout for as I have said before one of the nicest people in music and a cracking guitar player to boot.

Andrew Lock


LEAMINGTON PEACE FESIVAL
13/6/15

I always try and spend a few hours at the Leamington Peace Festival listening to and taking snaps of some of the artists performing and this year I chose the worst part of the weekend weather wise as I battled the rain on the Saturday morning and early afternoon.
However as always some of the music was outstanding including the lively indie rock of 'Mr.Georges Famous Last Words', the haunting vocals and cello work of 'Ailsa Tully', the blues set by 'Sean Taylor' and the foot tapping Bluegrass of Leamington's very own 'The Folly Brothers'.

Andrew Lock


BEN POOLE / REBECCA DOWNES
ZEPHYR LOUNGE, LEAMINGTON SPA
10/5/15
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

I could tell how much I was going to enjoy the support set by lady of the blues Rebecca Downes by the sounds of her sound check filtering through the Zephyr doors and windows while waiting outside, the power and strength of her vocals was obvious.
Rebecca’s set was a stripped down two piece with just acoustic guitars and Rebecca’s stunning vocals with her sole band member adding outstanding slide guitar work throughout the performance.
On the blues side ‘When I’m Bad’ started the evening with plenty of attitude and sassiness followed in more downbeat style by ‘Walking With Shadows’ while country like sounds made a few appearances in the set including ‘Night Train’ and set closer ‘One That Got Away’.
Really good start to the evening by a lady with a fine voice for the blues and this was a well-paced quality set.
Ben Poole had always been one of my must see artists when I used to cover The Cambridge Rock Festival and think I caught his set there three times in total so was thrilled to see him make a visit so close to my home.
Looking as confident and assured as always (as well as so cool !!) Ben and his quality 4 piece band hit the floor running with the sizzling title track from his 2012 album ‘Let’s Go Upstairs’.
While his whole set was a masterclass of the blues, for me he excels on the more laid back, slow-burning, blues ballads which here included a smouldering ‘Love Nobody No More’.
Ben also put his stamp on a number of classics and so pleased this included his fabulous take on Hendrix classic ‘Hey Joe’ (love his version which along with SRV’s ‘Voodoo Chile (Slight Return) is my fav cover of that great man’s work), the light and shade he puts into the piece always knocks me dead.
His cover of ‘Mr. Pitiful’ is also top draw and one of the evening’s standouts as was his heartfelt tribute to Gary Moore ‘Time Might Never Come’.
Of course we had plenty of Bens red hot guitar work on display with heaps of top notch solos while his band dripped quality throughout and the interplay between them was so impressive.
Also such a nice (not a great choice of words but he just is!!) young man and a real pleasure to say hi and catch up with after the show and what a quality blues performer he is.

Andrew Lock


URIAH HEEP
LEAMINGTON ASSEMBLY
26/4/15
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

Starting the proceedings this spring evening in Leamington Spa the quite unique sound of Blurred Vision, hailing from Canada and with two Iranian brothers in the line-up their set incorporated New Romantic era sounds, crashing Sabbath style riffs, large soundscape Muse like epics and a drop of Doors mystical magic.
The number that really stood out in the set for me was the magnificent epic ‘The Keeper’, sounds of the forest intro tape merging into crashing guitars then descending into a Jim Morrison land full of poetic, psychedelic wonder with an Eastern touch.
For some reason Uriah Heep are one of the few classic British rock bands I have missed in the live setting so with this visit to my home town (I think the bands first!) I was keen to make amends.
It has often been said but I will repeat it here because it is so true, the bands numerous 70’s classics seem to weave seamlessly with their later and also bang up to date material without any loss of quality.
For me it was quite a thrill to see original guitarist Mick Box in action and his performance was a spellbinding master class of lead guitar, some of his longer solos were completely mesmerising.
At front of stage on lead vocals Bernie Shaw also shone, fabulous voice just made for classic at times epic rock numbers and he also had the stagecraft to match.
Not a dull moment in an always entertaining, well paced set and it is so obvious they have put a lot of hard work into a fantastically polished but still rocking show and like all the best live bands so obviously love performing.
Standout numbers everywhere including the dramatic ‘What Kind of God’ from 2008’s ‘Wake the Sleeper’ lyrically powerful and a crashing finale complete with thunderous, pounding drum crashes, while new single ‘One Minute’ showed the bands catchy hook driven pop/rock side with a riff and chorus to die for.
On the golden oldie side the epic ‘The Magician’s Birthday’ was treated by the crowd as an old friend and was resplendent in its multi-section glory and ‘Stealin’’ gave a chance for the keyboards of Phil Lanzon to shine on this feelgood number with its great groove.
As a Sunday night had to leave early for the last train home so my final number was bang up to date with roaring rocker ‘Can't Take that Away’ from latest album ‘Outsider’.
Really enjoyed my first live experience of this classic band and look forward to seeing them again, and with having to dash early I know I missed the likes of ‘Gypsy’ and ‘Easy Livin’’ in an oldie weighted finale (damn!!) but sure they completely rocked.
A great Classic British rock band still doing the business in some style.

Andrew Lock


VOODOO VEGAS
ZEPHYR LOUNGE, LEAMINGTON SPA
3/4/15

Voodoo Vegas made another welcome return to Leamington on April 3rd when they performed at the Zephyr Lounge.
With a new guitarist in the line-up it was business as usual as the band rocked through a set combining material from their awesome debut album ‘The Rise of Jimmy Silver’ with new material hopefully destined for album number 2.
Lawrence despite having difficulties with a nasty cold took charge at the front as always and the twin guitar sound as always with these guys to the fore.
Most of my personal favourites made the set including ‘No More’, ‘Bullet’ and ‘Ferry Song’ and really impressed with newbie ‘Lady Divine’.
Coventry rockers Black Star Bullet impressed with their support set full of power and song craft and their set also included a cracking AC/DC cover.
Live and Rocking.

Andrew Lock


LAURENCE JONES
LEAMINGTON ASSEMBLY
2/4/15

This was the best yet I have seen of blues maestro Laurence Jones, the combination of a busy hometown gig, new material to show off and a chance for him to raise money for a charity very personal to the young man himself - “Crohns & Colitis UK Organisation” all had a positive effect on this outstanding performance.
Another local musical talent Shanade opened the show, and this first time out for her latest band very much impressed, her rich, powerful vocals and material for me with a touch of that classic Janis Joplin late 60’s soulful, blues rock touch went down well and great to see skilled blues guitarist Chris Gibbons in her band.
Laurence himself played a blinder and looked even more energized and up for it than usual (which is saying something!) with plenty on offer from the new album, older favorites, scorching covers and a special guest all making for one hell of a night.
Highlights! plenty of those, as always loved his Hendrix moment with ‘All Along the Watchtower’, ‘Southern Breeze’ with its early ZZ Top styling’s was magnificent, new fuel injected rocker ‘Stop Moving the House’ is fast becoming a real crowd pleaser and ‘Whisper In the Wind’ was full of emotion’
The night also included a raffle to add to the money raised and a presentation of a cheque to the charity itself, Laurence also announced that the £1000 target for the night was reached, but more than that bettered.
Fantastic night for Laurence, the charity and for the local area which as this gig proved musically has so much to offer.

Andrew Lock


LIVE/WIRE & LIMEHOUSE LIZZY
LEAMINGTON ASSEMBLY
13/3/15

Two of the flag bearers in the world of the tribute band, Live/Wire and Limehouse Lizzy made another return to Leamington and the fabulous turnout showed both the esteem in which they are held and the love of the music of AC/DC and Thin Lizzy.
Both outfits as well as mastering the music side of the rock legends also put on a real show, Limehouse Lizzy have their own version of the flashing Lizzy back display along with lashings of pyro while Live/Wire incorporate all the Angus party tricks and of course climax with the famous firing cannons.
“Are You Ready” is the battle cry from frontman Wayne (who as well as capturing Phil Lynott’s vocal style to perfection also has plenty of the great man’s charm and stage presence) as Limehouse launch into a rousing ‘Jailbreak’ and if anything the intensity rises on Lizzy’s latter day pounding rocker ‘Cold Sweat’ with that killer riff.
A crowd pleasing set included a funky ‘Dancing in the Moonlight’, a frantic ‘Killer on the Loose’ and along with the famous Coyote calls the iconic ‘Cowboy Song’.
Alongside Wayne (vocals and bass and of course) the famous Lizzy twin guitar sound is pulled off to perfection by Tim and Greg and at the back the power of Lee is especially evident on the Celtic anthem ‘Emerald’.
Towards the end of the set it was all out classic time with both ‘The Boys are Back in Town’ and ‘Whisky in the Jar’ making an appearance.
A knockout set and as a double header only halfway through the evening and now its AC/DC time.
Live/Wires trump card has always been having two vocalists covering the Bon Scott and Brian Johnson years and this was my first gig with the new Bon and really impressed with Gary’s performance in the famous denim waistcoat.
The early AC/DC years included a ferocious ‘Shot Down In Flames’, a gloriously heavy, thudding ‘Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap’ fan favourite ‘Jailbreak’ (not the Lizzy one!) and of course the gem of the Bon era ‘Highway To Hell’.
So impressed with the display by the bands Angus and this was only my second look at Ash and such an improvement in the young lad, not that last time was disappointing but here so much more confident and in control of the crowd.
With the musical style of AC/DC of course the rhythm section is all important and all bases are more than covered in that department with the work of Eddie on bass (and glorious blonde wig !), Dan on rhythm guitar and powerhouse Daz on the drums.
That only leaves one band member and that is the wearer of the black cap Pete who prowls and growls around the stage as a spot on Brian.
The Johnson years included the classic trio from one of the biggest albums of all time ‘Back In Black’, the awesome title track, a supercharged ‘Shoot To Thrill’ and one of the most recognised rockers of all time ‘You Shook Me All Night Long’.
Also really impressed that the band already have a number from the new AC/DC album under their belts, a pulsating ‘Play Ball’.
The two vocalists joined forces to great effect on ‘Let There be Rock’ which was also a real showcase for Ash in full on Angus mode and of course the ending was epic with the cannons blazing on a blistering ‘For Those About To Rock’ (We Salute You).
A night of rock heaven by two of the best tributes around and for those out there who will not give tribute bands the time of day catch these two, they may just change your mind.
Until next time I salute you.

Andrew Lock


KING KING / LAURENCE JONES
LEAMINGTON ASSEMBLY
26/2/15
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

For me a gig of two half’s, firstly I knew exactly what to expect from opener and local blues wonder Laurence Jones but had no idea what was in store from headliners King King.
Laurence commanded front of stage as always and I am as always amazed at how he keeps improving and just when you think he cannot get any better he does, with both his performance and stage presence/confidence growing at an impressive rate.
His set mixed numbers from his forthcoming third album (to be launched at the Zephyr Lounge, the Assembly’s sister venue on April 2nd – one for your diary) with cracking covers of a Lead Belly classic and a storming ‘All Along the Watchtower’.
For his usual laid back section of his set it was an emotional moment as he performed new number ‘Whisper In the Wind’ written for a recently lost family member and boy did the emotion come out in this performance which was well respected in the hall.
‘Stop Moving the House’ was a solid rocker with a humorous introduction and he closed with a slice of good time rock and roll and another new number, missed the title as was too busy rocking out !
Great to have Laurence and band treading the boards of his local large venue and a word for regular bass supremo Roger Inniss for his solid grooves and it is always a joy to watch his stage interaction with Laurence, new face on the drum stool for me but he also did a sterling job.
To say King King impressed me would be a vast understatement, somehow the band have fallen below my radar even though hardly a new outfit but on tonight’s performance I can see why the awards have been recently flooding in.
A powerhouse of a performance up there with the best I have witnessed, at times raw and rocking at others with a soulful touch, but overall more of a rock feel than I anticipated.
Strangely enough I thought I noticed echoes of classic Thunder and blues era Whitesnake to several numbers especially in the vocal approach of Alan Nimmo.
With Alan I find it hard to say what his biggest strength is as both his power drenched (touch of soul at times) vocals and explosive guitar work are top draw and he is a master of both for sure.
The forthcoming album ‘Reaching For The Light’ (out in May but pre-release copies available on the tour) is well represented including storming album opener ‘Hurricane’, ‘You Stooped the Rain’ was more laid back with a fantastic groove while the Whitesnake vibe was evident on the smouldering ‘Stranger To Love’.
Oldies included meaty rocker ‘Take My Hand’ with lashings of Hammond organ and maybe a touch of the classic blues rock bands like Free going on and the lighter ‘All Your Life’ had a Jazz/funk vibe.
The band got soulful on set closer ‘Old Love’ which included the most delicate low-key guitar work I have ever heard, at one point Alan took the volume down so you could only just hear the notes and you could have heard a pin drop, breathtaking.
Encore with a touch of gospel rock was an uplifting ‘Let Love In’ closing a gig I will remember for a long, long time, two great acts, one no surprise the other an introduction to a band in King King I look forward very much to seeing again.

Andrew Lock


LARRY MILLER
ZEPHYR LOUNGE, LEAMINGTON SPA
31/1/15
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

When you talk about characters in music there is no one around quite like Mr Larry Miller, a tour-de-force of fantastic showmanship, good natured banter, fabulous facial expressions and expansive stage movements including plenty of Chuck Berry style duck walks. To go alongside all his other attributes he is also one of the finest bluesmen around.
A tight as you like three piece Larry and band for me at times project the sound and power of early blues era Zeppelin with throbbing bass lines, power laden drum work and Larry’s superb riffs and licks.
His two sets this evening showed two sides of his material the souped up, all guns blazing rocking blues belters and his more intense slow blues workouts, the latter usually embellished with stunning extended guitar solos.
The fuel injected barnstormers included ferocious opener ‘Mad Dog’ a stirring ‘The Devils in the Detail’ and along with impressions of Rory himself (and a bit of Cliff Richard!!) a rocking tribute to Rory Gallagher on the great mans ‘Walk On Hot Coals’.
The slower material included an epic ‘The Girl That Got Away’ which showed that Zeppelin influence and a mournful, heartfelt ‘Cruel Old World’.
The sole appearance of Larry on acoustic guitar was for the thought provoking tale of trench warfare ‘Soldier of the Line’ also the title track of his latest album and full of sublime guitar picking and loved it that the audience treated it with the respect it richly deserved.
New number ‘One Fine Day’ had a fabulously funky opening before turning into a classy, heavy blues workout.
Encores began with Larry adorned with a wonderfully shaped golden guitar to give a masterclass in slide work on ‘Mississippi Mama’ before closing with another tribute to Mr Gallagher with a roaring ‘Bullfrog Blues’.
What a night and what a performer, he really gives his all on stage and so obviously just loves what he does.
An evening of power, passion, emotion and good humour from a true star of the blues and his top band in other words just ‘A night in with Mr Larry Miller’.

Andrew Lock



2014


MARILLION
LEAMINGTON ASSEMBLY
7/12/14
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)


Support was a low key but impressive performance by Canterbury based singer/songwriter Luke Jackson, a young man with great talent in both the vocal and guitar stakes and a writer of powerful, meaningful lyrics who comes across as really likeable with a fantastic audience rapport.
Elements of folk, indie and blues the later also showing a touch of gospel can be heard in his music.
Original composition’s included ‘Fathers Footsteps’ which gave him a chance to show off his impressive vocal range and his love of the blues came over on the atmospheric ‘Ghost at the Crossroads’ with its numerous blues references.
Really enjoyed his cover of the ‘Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?’ film number ‘Man of Constant Sorrow’ which gave that gospel/blues feel room to shine.
Christmas gigs give bands the opportunity to both have a little fun away from the album/tour routine and to look back over their catalogue and select a few rarely played gems and Marillion are no exception.
Also while still giving their usual high quality performance the band for me on these seasonal excursions always look extra relaxed, with more smiles than usual on their faces, play a little looser and free flowing which along with the vibe of the crowd makes for a great party atmosphere.
The set began with a cracker, the glorious ‘Gazpacho’ the bright, upbeat, zippy feel with Pete’s bass and Steve Rothery’s guitar in perfect, funky harmony in stark contrast to the darkly serious story of a fallen star, for me one of the bands greatest set openers.
Next an early chance for audience participation going right back to Hogarth Marillion album number one for the powerful and mysterious ‘The Uninvited Guest’. This opening, rocking salvo was completed by coming right up to date with one of the highlights of the latest studio album the slow burning and at times explosive ‘Power’.
I loved hearing what I would call my Marillion “guilty pleasure” (although in my opinion it is too good to be called that and one of the bands underrated gems!!), the beautiful and heartfelt ‘No One Can’ which was just awash with emotion.
Another highlight of the bands Christmas shows is they usually take a trip down memory lane to visit the Fish years and for this show it was the classic brace from ‘Clutching at Straws’ ‘Warm Wet Circles’ and ‘That Time of the Night’, numbers which Steve Hogarth always performs so well.
Other early Christmas presents given out included two gems from the ‘Happiness is the Road’ set the gorgeous 'Trap the Spark’ and the vibrant ‘Woke Up’ along with a magical ‘Man of a Thousand Faces’ which came with a humorous monologue by H on John Helmer lyrics.
Possibly the bands most performed piece ‘Easter’ still found a place in the set but more than welcome, always a set standout with it’s a strong positive message, crowd participation and of course one of Mr Rothery’s greatest ever solos.
The first touch of Xmas magic came via the lyrics from the glorious ‘Seasons End’, including “ sledging on a hill” and “it may never snow again in England” and then Xmas arrived with a bang with Mr Hogarth adorned in a festive flashing waistcoat smiling his way through ‘The Christmas Song’.
The festive mood continued with the bands recent take on John Lennon classic ‘Happy Xmas (War is Over)’ and we even had snow falling over band and audience at one point.
The night ended in full on fun party mode with first up one of the bands most up-lifting songs ‘The Release’ followed by one of their most unusual rockers the fantastically weird and spaced out ‘Cannibal Surf Babe’.
What a show, what an audience and as always what a band.

Andrew Lock



MOSTLY AUTUMN
ROBIN 2, BILSTON
6/12/14

This is by far the longest amount of time between myself and the live music of this fantastic band since discovering them way back in 2002 when they played my home town, 16 months has been far too long (never again !).
A big surprise for me was the band hitting the stage with rocker ‘Deep In Borrowdale’, true it is a quality slab of riff based rock and a cracking opening number but when I heard the band would be playing their latest, excellent concept album Dressed In Voices’ for some reason I thought it would be the first set.
Not that this mattered at all, just a surprise and plenty of happy memories of past Autumn shows in this first set including a storming ‘Never the Rainbow’ the evenings first showcase for Olivia’s spectacular vocals and going back in time to the first album with a gorgeous ‘The Last Climb’ and the classic ‘Nowhere To Hide (Close My Eyes)’.
Thankfully still room for the masterpiece that is ‘Evergreen’ and the first part of the evening closed with one of the best numbers from Olivia’s and Iain’s time with Breathing Space the emotion packed ‘Questioning Eyes’ with Olivia proving she is one of the genres best vocalists.
Must also mention how good it was to see Anne-Marie Helder back on stage with the band and another ex member Chris Johnson also in on the action.
Second set and the new masterpiece in its entirety, for me like so many albums that end up being my favourites although I really liked ‘Dressed In Voices ‘ the first few times I played it, it has now really worked it’s magic on me and is in my opinion one of their greatest works.
The whole album drips emotion and atmosphere especially when you read the lyrics along with a play back (THIS REALLY BRINGS THE STORY TO LIFE !), Olivia has never sounded better and Bryan throws a few new guitar styles into the mix to great effect.
Back to the live setting and boy does the whole thing work on stage, ‘Not Yours To Take’ and ‘Home’ are full of power, the latter soaring magnificently at one point.
Loved ‘Skin on Skin’ with its Celtic touch and the beautiful ‘The House On the Hill’ has just about turned into my favourite ever MA number, live I could feel my eyes moisten as they do whenever I play it at home, the melody is exquisite, Bryans guitar work beautifully subdued and just a completely delightful number.
As always with Mostly Autumn on stage you get both quality and quantity so after 2 sets still room for plenty of encores and first up the anthem that is ‘Heroes Never Die’ and what a delight it always is to see Bryan let rip on this number that is so personal to the great guitarist.
As for the rest of the evening, as this is one of the bands Xmas shows we knew what to expect, colourful festive headwear, lashings of tinsel and of course Xmas tunes.
Another surprise for me on the night was the first seasonal tune, the bands take on the popular number from the film Frozen ‘Let It Go’ and believe it or not it just about worked.
Back on familiar MA Xmas territory to finish the evening with ‘A Spaceman Came Travelling’ and ‘I Believe in Father Christmas’.
Boy did I enjoy seeing the band again and as always they did not disappoint, quality musicianship throughout, fab selection of classic MA oldies, the entire new concept piece and Xmas fun and games.
One of my gigs of the year and promise never to leave it so long again

Andrew Lock

DR. FEELGOOD / NINE BELOW ZERO
LEAMINGTON ASSEMBLY
14/11/14
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

The last time this two band bill played this venue back in 2011 it was it was my gig of the year and they have gone and done it again.
Both bands are classic 4 piece, all action line-ups with dynamic guitar work, rock solid rhythm sections, the distinctive sound of the harmonica and top R & B numbers and the hall was rocking from the start of the night to the last notes of the Dr Feelgood set.
Nine Below Zero were first up on this night of high energy R & B with crackers like the frantic paced ‘Tore Down’, the fun of ‘Homework’ the bluesy ‘Ridin’ On the L&N’ with it’s fabulous steam train style harmonica intro and bouncing covers ‘Rockin’ Robin’, ‘I Can’t Help Myself’ and ‘Wooly Bully’.
A big show this one for Dr. Feelgood with local boy Steve Walwyn on guitar and they exploded on stage full of energy with ‘All Through the City’ and proceeded to turn up the heat to scorching point with classic after classic as they rocked through the likes of ‘I Can Tell’, ‘Baby Jane’, ‘Milk and Alcohol’, ‘Back in the Night’, ‘Down at the Doctors’ and ‘She Does It Right’.
Vocalist Robert Kane is for me one of the best front men around, a true force of nature who never stops moving, at various points in the set he crawls over the stage floor and leans right over the crowd geeing up the audience and to go along with the showmanship he has a fabulous R & B vocal style.
Mr Walwyn one of the true gentleman of the music scene as always knocked them dead on the six string including a display of top slide guitar.
The only break in pace was for the magnificent slow burning ‘Down By the Jetty Blues’ which gave everyone a chance to take a breath but only then to marvel at Steve’s amazing solo.
Finishing in pulsating style with ‘Going Back Home’ and ‘Gimme One More Shot’ this was as close to a perfect night of R & B as you could ask for, not a dull moment in either set, outstanding musicianship, quality sound, ageless tunes, a pumped up crowd and very importantly plenty of fun.
Would love this to become an annual event at The Assembly.

Andrew Lock



HAKEN/LEPROUS
ZEPHYR LOUNGE
LEAMINGTON SPA
24/10/14
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

Due to other commitments unfortunately missed the evenings opening set by Maschine a young band that really impressed me when I saw them in action at one of the Cambridge Rock Festivals.
Arrived about halfway through the set by Norwegian band Leprus, intensely heavy, rhythmic almost hypnotic at times with the vocalist able to reach extremely high notes, really impressive but for me these turned a little shouty at times.
The bands stage set with backdrop and TV screens gave the set a strong visual impact as did the choreographed full band head banging at times.
One number had echoes of Sabbaths ‘Into the Void’ thrown in for good measure while the quietest moments of the set almost had a symphonic rock vibe.
Had only seen headliners Haken once before, also at the Assembly as a support band and good to see them progress to headline status at the same venue.
A band with a big, full sound for me style wise progressive rock/metal with the grandeur of symphonic rock at times and not afraid to thrown in plenty of quirky bits and time signature changes as proved during a powerful ‘In Memoriam’.
Impressive rocker ‘Darkest Light’ from the bands latest EP was a standout with its powerful guitar parts (top riffling) and the keyboards adding to the light and shade of the piece.
There was an atmospheric Eastern feel to ‘Pareidolia’ and the atmosphere was again evident during the epic ‘Crystallised’ which had several passages that reminded me of classic Genesis (also possibly a touch of Transatlantic) and was chock full of drama and included scorching guitar work.
For the encore another epic ‘Visions’ which had its own mood setting intro, in parts a spectacular wall of sound with contrasting softer sections, effective spoken word passages, spectacular drum crescendos and the whole thing had a grandiose feel which at times reminded me of the power of Soundgarden’s ‘Black Hole Sun’.
A powerful progressive rock set with a hard rock edge.

Andrew Lock



WINTER IN EDEN / KYRBGRINDER
ZEPHYR LOUNGE, LEAMINGTON SPA – 20/9/14
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

A double bill with two of the bands I first saw in action at one of my many visits to The Cambridge Rock Festival, each with their own style but both power packed exponents in their particular rock field.
Opening this double header the UK’s very own symphonic rockers Winter In Eden, their music full of the drama, sweeping grandeur, metal riffs and killer queen vocals that are hallmarks of this genre and for me put them up there with the Within Temptations and Nightwishes of this world.
Combining numbers from all three studio albums vocalist Vicky Johnson and band certainly blew any cobwebs away with a strong performance with the scorching guitar work, throbbing bass and intense drum work providing the power and the light added to the shade by Vicky’s glorious vocals and Steve’s keyboard flourishes.
Opener and the first of many tracks showcased from the recently released ‘Court of Conscience’ album was a storming ‘Knife Edge’ and other impressive offerings from the new opus included the intense, brooding ‘With Intent’ and ‘It’s Not Enough’ with its impressive changes from full on rock ballad to charging rocker.
From the magnificent ‘Echoes of Betrayal’ album (one of my top five albums of 2012) a real standout was a spectacular ‘Regret’ for me one of the bands anthems, powerful with gorgeous vocals, solid guitar work and a fabulous hook, a number that spreads it’s magic over a large sonic canvas.
From the same album rampaging rocker ‘Torment’ and the lighter touch of the catchy ‘Possession’ which added a pinch of quality pop/rock to the band’s sound.
From the band’s debut album the wonderfully dreamy, fantasy filled ‘Stolen Fairytale’ lively Celtic instrumental ‘Windelfell’ (very much in Nightwish territory) and the epic ‘At the Edge of the World’.
Magnificent.
Power rock trio Kyrbgrinder up next and for me one of the more unusual rock acts on the scene, dead centre of the stage on lead vocals and thunderous drum beats the master showman and Mr Charisma himself Johanne James flanked by a top draw guitarist to one side and a bass supremo on the other.
No room for ballads with power packed numbers like ‘Defiance’, ‘Kill’ Them All’ and ‘What About Us’ thundering from the speakers keeping the head bangers in the audience happy and you could not help but get carried away by the frontman’s charm and drum stick tricks.
Johanne during the set continually enticed the audience to get closer to the action and each time they moved closer with by the encores little space between artist and audience and there was also the bonus of a guest vocal appearance during the set by Winter In Eden’s Vicky.
Quality night with two bands from different parts of the rock spectrum both delivering the goods.


Andrew Lock



CHANTEL McGREGOR / DEL BROMHAM
ZEPHYR LOUNGE, LEAMINGTON SPA - 6/9/14
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

One of the gentleman of the blues and rock scene Del Bromham stepped in at short notice with a one man performance to start the evening in style delivering a set mixing material from his solo albums, numbers from his hard rock outfit Stray and a couple of blues covers.
As entertaining as always with his banter and good humour (as well of course a top vocalist and guitarist to boot!) and his set included a couple of crackers from his latest solo album with his tribute to a certain well known beverage 'The Ballad of JD' and the upbeat, happy-go-lucky 'Nine Yards'.
A standout was the slow burning ‘Slave’ from his ‘Devil’s Highway’ album which just dripped emotion both lyrically and via stunning laid back guitar work.
Chantel chose this gig as a testing ground for new material, which went down a storm, she calls this her "New Era" and this ‘New Era’ rocks especially on the high octane numbers like the ferocious 'Burn Your Anger' and 'Lose Control' while on the softer side her new offerings included an emotional tribute to Jeff Buckley on the sublime 'Eternal Dream'.
Plenty on offer from her cracking debut album including the epic title track 'Like No Other', the beautiful and exquisitely gentle 'Screams Everlasting', the upbeat and quirky pop touch of ‘Fabulous’ and the knockout encore of epic rocker 'Freefalling'.
A young lady with breathtaking talent and many awards to her name, she has an incredible guitar style, a beautiful vocal tone and a quality band alongside her.
She also has a natural humble charm that has the audience eating out of her hand while the mix of full on rock material with interludes of gorgeous laid back pieces works so well.

Andrew Lock



PLOUGH AND HARROW BEER FESTIVAL, LEAMINGTON SPA
23/8/14

The weather was a little changeable (at least on the Saturday that I went along) but there was plenty of top entertainment as well as of course great beer and ciders on offer at the pubs beer festival last weekend (23/24TH August).
Around 14 beers and ciders were available with a special festival glass to take home after the event, the beers were really well chosen by the landlord with selections from the darkest stout to the lightest summer ale on offer and the ciders included one with a sensational chilli and ginger taste and a traditional perry.
The large stage area hosted music by quality singers Rosie Samaras and Wil Neale as well as a sensational display of French Cabaret dancing (with other styles thrown in) by JP Armoire that left the audience enraptured.
Really enjoyed my visit and hope the event returns next year.

Andrew Lock



B-RUDER JAM
THE GRIST MILL, LEAMINGTON SPA
24/7/14

Quite enjoyed my first live music for a while at The Grist Mill in Leamington Spa where the new landlord is keen to get the pub back on the Leamington live music scene, last night Thursday 24th July was what was billed as a B-ruder Jam and featured several artist spots, young duo Wesley and Dan started the ball rolling and it was great to see fabulous guitarist Chris Jones play a short blues set and loved his different take on the classic 'Crossroads'.
Plenty of variety on offer with rap, ska and levellers style indie folk rock all making an appearance, the night attracted a young, lively crowd and hopefully the live music at the Grist Mill will really take off, just a shame there was no real lighting on the performers as it would have been good to see what was going on a bit more and of course I would also have a few photos to show you, but all in all a good night with a friendly atmosphere and interesting sounds.

Andrew Lock



Snakecharmer/Mick Underwood's Glory Road
Leamington Assembly
20/7/14
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

A night of classic rock nostalgia was on this evenings Assembly menu as well as new original material by the evenings headliners Snakecharmer and first up (and giving the evening a tenuous Deep Purple theme!) Mick Underwood's Glory Road (Mick being Ian Gillan's long serving solo band drummer) playing the best of that legendary vocalists solo back catalogue.
Vocalist Luca "Twitch" Ravase has a great set of lungs, manages to reach Mr Gillan's famous high notes and has plenty of stage charisma into the bargain, the set featured material from the length and breadth of the great singers solo catalogue including,'Black Sheep of the Family' (Deep Purple/Rainbow track), 'M.A.D. (Mutually Assured Destruction)', 'Vengeance', 'No Laughing in Heaven' and a fun version of rock and roll classic 'New Orleans'.
Really enjoyed this set which was full of numbers you rarely get to see performed these days.
Headliners Snakecharmer are for me the best of both worlds playing a selection of numbers from the golden, blues age of Whitesnake (the best for me !) and quite rightly too as the line-up includes former longstanding band members guitarist Micky Moody and bassist Neil Murray and they also have a selection of top quality original material to showcase.
The rest of the group makes this a proper classic rock super group with Magnum/Thunder drummer Harry James on drums, 2nd guitarist Laurie Wisefield (Wishbone Ash), vocalist Chris Ousey (Heartland) and on the keyboards Adam Wakeman (Ozzy Osbourne).
Numbers from the excellent self-titled debut Snakecharmer album which included a charging (sorry!) 'Guilty as Charged', 'A Little Rock & Roll' with it's knockout riff and the catchy 'Accident Prone' (which has picked up plenty of rock radio play) show this band have plenty to offer as well as revisiting the much loved Whitesnake classics.
But of course it is the much loved classics that bring the house down including a raunchy 'Ready An' Willing', the classic blues of 'Walking In the Shadow of the Blues', a down and very dirty 'Slow An' Easy' and a sing-along 'Here I go Again'.
For encores my number of the set and possibly the oldest a magnificent, shiver down the spine inducing, ferocious 'Take Me With You' and to finish well what else but one of the most recognisable riffs in rock history, a triumphant 'Fool For Your Loving'.
Fabulous performance and what a delight to see one of my guitar heroes Micky Moody one of the top blues rock guitarists in the world in action and his blues solo spot was a stunner.
A night of top quality classic rock.


Andrew Lock



Voodoo Vegas, Grace Solero, Laurence Jones
Napton Festival 2014
11th/12th July

Always a great value for money, friendly and well run festival in the beautiful Warwickshire countryside this year it had its fair share of rock music on display including Voodoo Vegas, Grace Solero and blues man Laurence Jones all performing over the weekend, other musical genres on offer included folk rock, indie rock and bluegrass with the addition of a chilled out acoustic stage on the Saturday.
Grace Solero were due to headline the Friday night with a full on rock set but due to unforeseen circumstances had to change their slot to an early evening semi-acoustic performance.
Grace herself is a bit of a star, her vocals are for me in the Alanis Morissette style with possibly a touch of Skin from Skunk Anansie and she makes for a striking/commanding figure centre stage communicating well with the crowd, and for this set she performed on vocals and acoustic guitar along with her bass player and drummer (with a small set up).
I was impressed with the bands set which gave glimpses of what they could produce with the full band set up and numbers which at times had a cool Eastern rock vibe included 'Eternal Love', 'St Ives' and the powerful rock ballad 'Yard of Blonde Girls', really enjoyed their performance which made a big impression on me and cannot wait to see the band in action again.
For Laurence Jones this was something of a home town gig as the sensational young blues singer/guitarist hails from this neck of the woods, and although I say this every time I see him he really does gets better and better and more polished with each performance I witness.
With his second (even better than his debut) album 'Temptation' now out the set included plenty of this newer material including the chilled, flowing sound of 'Southern Breeze' and the down and dirty blues of 'Soul Swamp River'.
A regular highlight of his shows repeated here was his incendiary Hendrix cover/tribute 'All Along the Watchtower' and he threw in another cover with an amazing version of Rory Gallagher's 'Bullfrog Blues' which kept the crowd rocking and energy levels high as well as showcasing his lightning fast fret work.
Laurence and bass player extraordinaire Roger Inniss interacted to perfection all set and one of the best blues drummers around Toby Wilson as always did not put a finger wrong, this was a crowd pleasing set by an incredibly gifted artist (and really popular young man in these parts) surely set for big things.
Saturday night headliners were magnificent Bournemouth rockers Voodoo Vegas who luckily for us locals have made many visits to this area over the last few years bringing their adrenaline fuelled, 'duel guitar attack' breed of classic rock to both the Leamington Assembly and smaller venues in the area.
As well as plenty of killer tracks from the bands stunning debut album 'The Rise Of Jimmy Silver' several newer numbers made the set as well as a couple of fabulous covers including Beatles classic 'Come Together'.
The set kicked into life with 'Out There' swiftly followed by raging rocker 'Bullet' with its 'to die for' riff and the ferocious pace of 'Mary Jane', for me 'Ferry Song' was as usual a set highlight with the band putting their original stamp on good time rock and roll.
Newer numbers 'Killing Joke', and 'Lady Divine' were quality and showed that the notoriously difficult album number two should be no problem, heavy riffing Waysted cover 'Samaritan Man' rocked and the set closed in raucous fashion with 'King Without a Crown' and 'Jimmy Silver'.
One of the best front men in the business Lawrence Case showed what a master showman he is all set long and helped to make sure that the weekends only rain showers did not dampen the crowds spirit too much and he was as always Mr Entertainment leading the audience in sing-alongs and interacting with his usual good humour.
Fantastic end to another excellent Napton festival and well done to all involved.

Andrew Lock



The Napton Festival 2014 (Review / Overview)
July 11th/12th

The weather was mostly kind, the music was fantastic as was the mix of genres and styles on offer from bands both local and from further afield and Napton 2014 was a great success.
Bands on the Friday included local singer/songwriter Nina Baker, sensational blues man Laurence Jones another local artist who even surpassed his amazing set at last years festival and hard rockers Grace Solero, the latter were due to headline with a full on rock set but had to change their set to an earlier semi-acoustic performance which still really impressed.
Taking the final spot on Friday and also a local band the rock/hip hop sounds of Leamington outfit the SixtyFours with a powerful set which had the crowd rocking and dancing away.
The sun really came out on Saturday afternoon and the cider, beer and soft drinks flowed as of course did the music and the addition of an acoustic stage in the afternoon meant even more to enjoy, I was impressed with my visits to the chilled out acoustic area which included performances by Through Riptide, Rose Marsden and Dial Emma.
The main stage on Saturday included a rocking blues set by Blues Extra, bluegrass from the popular Hatton based Folly Brothers (my top prize for hard workers of the day - 2 main stage sets and a guest appearance!), rock with a touch of Kate Bush style vocals from Derecho and modern/indie folk from Brave New Storm and Coventry stars The Fallows.
Second prize for hard working band of the day went to the excellent folk band Robinson-Stone Brothers who played as billed on the acoustic stage and also stepped up to the plate with an extra set on the main stage when one band had to withdraw from the festival late in the day.
To close the festival one of my favourite bands Bournemouth rockers Voodoo Vegas who rocked up a storm as always but unfortunately the rain also made several appearances during their set but this did not dampen the bands mood and plenty of hardy music fans stayed and rocked the night away.
A really well organised event as usual with excellent catering, plenty of stalls to visit and things for kids to do and the festival was well supported by local businesses including Leamington based Presto Classical who donated a fabulous top of the range acoustic guitar for a raffle and of course The Napton Music Festival Trust supports good causes which include helping young people musically in the area.

Andrew Lock



Joanne Shaw Taylor
Leamington Assembly
3/7/14
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

Joanne Shaw Taylor returned to the Assembly for a blistering display of blues, she has performed at the venue previously as support for both the sadly recently departed blues legend Johnny Winter and young blues maestro Oli Brown while also performing at one of the venues 'Blues Assembly' nights.
Support was supplied by hard rocking Manchester band Federal Charm whose style included snatches of blues era Led Zeppelin and plenty of rumbling bass work, 'Tell Your Friends' added a touch of soul/funk to this powerful blues/rock set and their belting cover of Golden Earring's 'Radar Love' had the audience singing along, a solid set.
Joanne has a fabulous and distinct guitar sound which is put to great use during plenty of extended solos while her vocal delivery is wonderfully smokey, full of character and just made for the blues, she also has a wonderful rapport with the audience and her band ooze quality, talking of which I must give a special mention to her bass player who after dislocating his knee in rehearsals had to perform the set seated.
With three studio albums now behind her (4th 'The Dirty Truth' arrives this September) she has a wealth of material to choose from, and for me the energy and impact of the tracks performed from her remarkable 2009 debut album 'White Sugar' best sum up how far she has come with blistering versions of 'Watch 'Em Burn' and 'Kiss the Ground Goodbye' and a simply stunning, funky 'Just Another Word'.
Highlights from her 2010 album 'Diamonds In The Dirt' included the simmering title track and a crashing 'Let It Burn' and visits to her latest album 'Almost Always Never' included the gorgeous, laid back 'Beautifully Broken', and another return to her funky side with 'You Should Stay, I Should Go'
Her dynamic version of Hendrix classic 'Manic Depression' was a real crowd pleaser (I for one stared in awe at her guitar work!) and another treat for locals was the closing number of the main set when blues sensation and local lad Laurence Jones, joined Joanne to trade licks during a run though Laurence's rocker 'Going Down', as well as playing together sensationally they looked like they were having a ball which was not a great surprise as from the stage Joanne said she thought of Laurence as her little brother.
Encore time and to close the evening it was back to the very start with album one track one for a roaring 'Going Home', to finish a gig that goes down as one of my all time favourites at this venue by for me one of the country's finest exponents of the blues.

Andrew Lock



KRISTY GALLACHER
LEAMINGTON PEACE FESTIVAL 2014

I made my annual visit to the Leamington Peace Festival this weekend, great turnout as always and of course the usual eclectic mix of musical styles on display, not surprisingly my set of the weekend was the Bandstand performance by Kristy Gallacher, for me her set list was perfect mixing numbers from all three of her albums as well as new material. 'Blood' from her latest release The Game, and two crackers from her previous album Spinning Plates 'Fending Off the Frost' and 'Until Then' were for me the cream of a fabulous performance.
Other artists I caught over the weekend that made an impression were singer/songwriters Becky Syson and James J Turner, the funk rock band Radio Relapse and finally one of the most madcap performances I have ever seen by the wonderfully eccentric and quirky Babal and their wonderful selection of props.

Andrew Lock



LAURENCE JONES
The Zephyr Lounge, Leamington Spa
4/6/14

Laurence Jones gave for me his most impressive performance to date at The Zephyr Lounge in Leamington Spa and while upstairs at The Assembly hip hope legends Public Enemy played to a full house the still youthful blues sensation and local lad Laurence and his top band entertained a fair sized audience at it's sister venue.
The confidence (although for me he has never been really short of that !) in his playing and stage craft oozes out of this young man and this set of two halves was a real homecoming triumph, material showcased from his recently released second album 'Temptation' included belting set opener 'Can't Help Living Like This' and the flowing 'Southern Breeze'.
From his debut album BB King classic 'The Thrill Is Gone' was stunning as was his cover of 'All Along the Watchtower', and as this gig was one of Steve Walwyn's 'Kelly's Night's' it was fitting to have the man himself guesting with Laurence in the second half and on a very special day, being 25 years since he joined Dr Feelgood.
Outstanding performance from a class act.

Andrew Lock



THE MOSQUITOS
THE ROYAL HORSE, LEAMINGTON SPA
25/5/14

The Mosquitos one of the top bands that perform in the Leamington area played a storm last night at the towns Royal Horse pub, Steve Walwyn (who the night before rocked The Musician in Leicester with Dr Feelgood) and crew played as hot a set as I have seen them perform, blues/rock of the highest order with Nick on vocals as always a top showman and the twin guitar work of the two Steves a delight as always.
Set full of crackers and their original 'How Could They Know ?' is for me one of their top numbers these days, difficult to pick other highlights but 'Route 66' really rocked.
The band are playing more dates over the next month or so including the big one at The Zephyr Lounge as part of Steve Walwyn's 'Kelly's Nights' ( Wed 2nd July) so try and catch them, you will be so glad you did.
I will miss seeing this band when Nick returns to his home of Thailand early in July and look forward to Mosquito season again next year.

Andrew Lock



TRINITY LIVE
LEAMINGTON ASSEMBLY
18/5/14
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

An incredible line-up and a feeling of generosity and almost family spirit in the air for this the inaugural 'Trinity Live' prog rock charity event put together to support and raise money for three Cancer charities namely 'Cancer Research UK', 'Brain Tumour Research' and 'Breast Cancer Breakthrough'.
Eight bands/artists all played their part on this fantastic day giving their time and performances free as did many of the people involved on the day and the run up to the day.
To help raise even more money for the extremely worth while causes there was also a raffle and auction of rock memorabilia with items donated by the like of Rush, Marillion, Steve Hackett, Peter Gabriel, Yes and many more and here at The CRS we donated a years membership with free entrance to a whole year of CRS gigs.
The opening two acts started the day in laid back acoustic style with first up ex Pallas front man Allan Reed playing amongst others material from his debut solo album 'First in a Field of One', exquisite guitar work and a strong vocal performance throughout, highlights included a beautiful duet with special guest and one of the genres best vocalists Kim Seviour (Touchstone) on the Twelfth Night classic 'Love Song' and a stomping Celtic tinged 'Begin Again' (almost in Fish Territory).
The second act a solo instrumental set by guitarist Matt Stevens was perhaps one of the more unusual sets on the bill, zesty, upbeat, at times experimental and effect driven guitar work of the highest order with his finger picking as fast as you like, hard to pigeon hole the sound (and why should you !) but a very different and interesting performance.
Next the most emotional set of an emotional day and also a major part of the reason for this event with Magenta taking the stage, and of course the appearance of Christina Booth received the biggest applause of the day.
Their set was superb and I had forget what an awesome guitarist Chris Fry is in action (had not seen the band since Winters End 2010), the set included a delightfully upbeat 'Gluttony' the opening number from the majestic 'Seven' album and we had the second special guest of the day on stage as Alan Reed who opened the show shared vocals with Christina on a heart wrenching cover of the Peter Gabriel/Kate Bush number 'Don't Give Up', of course not a dry eye in the house and they could not have chosen a more relevant piece of music for the day.
One of my personal favourites next Heather Findlay (playing the venue for the first time since her farewell to Mostly Autumn show) with an acoustic set accompanied by long time collaborator Chris Johnson and apart from the Parade number 'Dogs' (fabulously gritty and slightly aggressive) this was a set of Mostly Autumn material (Heather and Chris compositions of course!).
Her opening number 'Blue Light' is for me one of her most beautiful and quite a brave opening being such an exquisite, low key piece of music but treated with just respect by the audience, elsewhere in the set a brisk 'Yellow Time', my (and Heathers by the sound of it) favourite Chris Johnson penned Mostly Autumn number 'Silver Glass', a foot tapping 'Caught in a Fold' and what a stunner to finish with in 'Evergreen'.
Next up the other act on the bill to stray away from the prog rock style, the solid riffs and heavy rock of Lost In Vegas, this is probably the bands last ever performance, the previous show was supposed to be but they wanted to be a part of this special day and they rocked the hall with belters including 'Breathe' and the slower paced but heavy 'Chasing the Dragon', a set of intense power.
Next up and possibly my set of the day (my number of the day came later in the evening) was the fantastic best of set by The Reasoning, after a stirring intro it was no messing and cracker after cracker including 'Dark Angel', 'The Thirteenth Hour' and 'Awakening' and they closed in the traditional way with Moo on sausage duty !! for a climatic 'Aching Hunger', powerful music, strong male vocal parts and Rachel's beautiful vocal talents - what a set.
With their latest album, the wonderfully received 'Oceans of Time' not long out it quite rightly played a feature part in the Touchstone set including the Eastern tinged 'Fragments' and the complex 'Spirit of the Age' which although not a cover of that bands track of the same name had for me a touch of Hawkwind towards the end.
There was also a rare outing for 'Misguided Fool' from the (pre Kim) 'Mad Hatters' EP and this set included my number of the day, a magnificent, larger than life 'Wintercoast' atmospheric, powerful, full of light and shade I just love this number and for me it is one of the greatest prog rock numbers of all time.
This penultimate set also included the final special guest on stage this evening and before his main shift with headliners Arena John Mitchell plugged his guitar in for a bouncing cover of the Tears For Fears track 'Mad World'.
Headliners Arena have played the venue twice before and this was another set filled with pomp and majesty on a grandiose scale from one of the most popular bands on the UK prog rock scene.
The powerful solo voice intro to opener 'The Great Escape' with the crunching power chords that follow started the final set of the evening before this epic number really took flight, other set highlights included 'The Butterfly Man' with it's mysterious lyrics, an intense 'Rapture' and the throbbing rock of golden oldie'Witch Hunt'.
What a fantastic event and the great news is that it will be back next year.
.
Andrew Lock



Acoustic Roots
The Clarendon, Leamington Spa
04/05/14
(PUBLISHED IN LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER)

This is a monthly free event (the1st Sunday) put together by one of the Leamington music scenes greatest ambassadors Matt Hernandez, Matt always opens up proceedings in style with a few flamenco/classical guitar instrumentals and each show has a number of featured artists.
The first of this evenings performers was the only duo of the evening John Wright and Hilary Wilson, two local musicians who really seem to gel well together and also have great fun, they harmonise beautifully and their impressive set included jazz standard 'Summertime' and a visit to the James Taylor song book.
Next up Bob Cooper with a powerful performance mixing original pieces and really well chosen covers, I really liked the tone of Bob's rich vocals, and his set included the first of two visits this evening to the work of Tom Waits and Bob Dylan, the former with an emotional 'House Where Nobody Lives' and the latter a run through 'Highway 61 Revisited'. He finished by really changing the genres with a beautiful version of Bee Gees ballad 'How Can You Mend a Broken Heart'.
One of my favourite artists was next on the bill, the sensational Kristy Gallacher and with her 3rd album 'The Game' not long out this musical workaholic surprised me with a couple of brand new songs (as yet untitled) in the set that show she is still going from strength to strength.
Two of my standout numbers from her latest album made the set, the brisk, catchy 'Blood' and the more laid back, slow burning groove of 'Dark Hours', her part of the evening also included the return to the work of Tom Waits with a fabulous 'The Heart of Saturday Night' and she closed in Dylan territory as she has at a number of shows with a magnificent (for me just second to the original and the Elvis version !) 'Don't Think Twice It's All Right', fantastic set as always from Kristy.
Last on the bill someone who was not that long ago a major part of the local music scene Paul Van Ryan, and his performance was full of energy, power and a little experimental magic via effective use of delay and loops and especially impressed with his take on the classic pop number 'Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This).
An impressive line up, friendly atmosphere, great music and excellent real ale, sounds like a top Sunday night to me.


Andrew Lock


Magnum/Neonfly
Leamington Assembly
25/04/14
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

Support band, five piece melodic metal outfit Neonfly really impressed and their scorching twin lead guitar attack, front man with attitude, stage charisma and impressively high voice, knockout tunes and dramatic stage lighting all made for a strong performance which included a ferocious 'Spitting Blood' and the impressive 'Heart of the Sun'; with its Nightwish Style Gothic intro, a power packed set by a band I would very much like to see again.
From the youthful to the 'shall we say not quite so youthful', but still top of their game and one of the true legends of the British rock scene Magnum with a top performance full of their usual pomp, power, fine musicianship and of course showcasing the genius song writing talents of Tony Clarkin one of the true masters of the art.
Never a band to rest on their laurels as with previous visits to the venue the band have a new album to show off (Escape From The Shadow Garden) and on the strength of tonight it is business as usual, new numbers like opener 'Unwritten Sacrifice', 'Live 'Til You Die' and 'Too Many Clowns' the latter a real treat with it's power packed riff and catchy as hell, all treated by the crowd like old favourites already.
The rest of the set was well mixed touching on most stages of the bands lengthy career, 'All My Bridges' was joyfully bouncy, out and out classics 'All England's Eyes' and 'Vigilante' were huge crowd pleasers and plenty of the bands epic numbers made the set including a stunning 'Kingdom of Madness' and closing number 'Sacred Hour' with its sublime vocal harmonies.
Vocalist Bob Catley is still a fabulous front man and his voice seems as powerful a weapon as ever and his centre stage presence second to none, and talk about dressed up both he and Mr Clarkin were 'dressed to the nines' for this visit to Leamington and must have had a late table booked at one of our better restaurants !!
Also impressed with the bass work of Al Barrow who at times reminded me a little of one of my favourites in the field Geezer Butler, strong in all departments the extra layers were added especially to the epics with the keyboard work of Mark Stanway while the drum stool was taken by one of the best and most charismatic sticks men in the business Mr Harry James.
Quality set by a quality band see you next album/tour.

Andrew Lock


UFO
LEAMINGTON ASSEMBLY
19/3/14
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

UFO one of the biggest names in British rock choose The Assembly to launch their latest tour and the band who have now been rocking for well over 40 years left nobody in the large mid- week crowd disappointed delivering a well chosen, rocking set stretching across their lengthy career.
Support came from energetic, youthful Russian hard rockers Reds'Cool with their brand of Motley Crue style sleaze, rock and roll, a band with a powerhouse of a lead vocalist (occasional echoes of Rob Halford possibly!) and numbers such as 'Brand New Start' and 'Hey You' gained a good reception.An intro tape based on the classic Sensational Alex Harvey Band's 'Faith Healer', heralded the entrance of the mighty UFO to the stage with calls from the crowd for legendary frontman Phil Mogg crying out from the audience way before he made it to the stage and it was no messing about and straight into the classic 'Lights Out' to begin the set in some style and have the crowd on the bands side from the off.
Legendary vocalist and founder member Phil's voice is still a fabulous, powerful rock instrument in it's own right and talking of power fellow band founder Andy Parker keeps up the rocking beat on the sticks, another long serving member alternating between keyboards and guitar is Paul Raymond while completing the line-up is the newest recruit American bassist Rob De Luca.
UFO are among the bands that understand well that fans want to hear many of the classics when on tour and here most are present and correct with cracking versions of a brace of rockers with surely two of the greatest and most recognisable guitar riffs in rock history 'Only You Can Rock Me' and 'Too Hot To Handle', the slower and epic 'Love to Love' and guitarist Vinnie's show piece 'Rock Bottom'.
As well as the old favourites a few surprises such as a pulsating 'Pushed to the Limit' from their 1990's output and the material from their latest studio album 'Seven Deadly' included the bluesy 'Burn Your House Down' with exquisite guitar work from Vinnie Moore.
Encores and back to real crowd pleasers with a fabulous 'Doctor Doctor' and finally 'Shoot Shoot'.
Classic rock band still giving it all on stage and hopefully not too long before another UFO sighting in town.

Andrew Lock


The Pat McManus Band
St Patricks Irish Club, Leamington Spa
6/3/14
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

This gig took place at St Patricks Irish Club in Leamington Spa and the show was arranged by a friend of mine here in town who is also a good friend of the artist, for me this was the first time I had seen Pat perform since the early 1980's when he was a member of Irish rockers Mama's Boys when they supported Thin Lizzy at The Coventry Theatre.
Really impressed by the variety of material performed by the charismatic Mr McManus and his superb band with rock of many variety's including heavy, blues and Celtic with Pat performing on acoustic guitar, violin and an Irish bouzouki (looks like a mandolin) as well as of course the electric guitar.
Material was spread across the range of his career including Mama's Boys, his early solo albums, a selection of numbers in tribute to one of his idols Rory Gallagher and a generous helping from his latest release 'Dark Emerald Highway'.
The many highlights included the lightning fast Celtic tinged instrumental 'Juggernaut' (loved his remark about the numbers traditional Irish title!), the blues rock of 'Back in the Saddle' and the Lizzyesque 'Lazy Days' (intentional of course).
In a change of direction 'Shame On You' had a touch of funk/blues groove going on, and the bouzouki made an appearance on 'Walking in the Shadows of Giants' which pays homage to the blues.
A special mention for the emotional, stirring 'Belfast Boy' Pat's heartfelt tribute to the late, great Gary Moore, guitar work sublime and again with a Thin Lizzy feel (think along the lines of Emerald) which of course suited the number down to the ground.
For the encores a real treat for us locals as Dr Feelgood's guitarist Steve Walwyn (a much loved local lad) joined Pat for a guitar duel driven run through a couple of Rory Gallagher numbers (Steve as well as Pat is a big Rory fan).
Cracking gig in the fantastic atmosphere of a friendly club and I must admit the excellent Guinness did no harm.

Andrew Lock


Cupid's Inspiration
The Prince of Wales Hotel
Southport
16/2/14

The band were playing this glorious Victorian style hotel in the seaside town of Southport as part of a 60's music weekend which included performances by The Nashville Teens, The Swinging Blue Jeans, Union Gap and many more.
The room holding the event was just about perfect for the job, fabulous décor, a large spacious downstairs seating area, ample dance floor space, a lengthy balcony offering great views of the on stage action while the stage itself was spacious and equipped with (as the evenings performances proved) a quality PA/sound system.
Apart from the grandiose setting another thing that impressed me was the enthusiasm and friendliness of the sell out audience who were obviously enjoying a fantastic weekend of music.
This was a very special gig for the band as it heralded the return to the fold of original Cupids drummer Roger Gray after 40 odd years away from the bands drum stool and he played an absolute storm with a smile on his face throughout, although hanging around with the band this came as no surprise as they have an incredible band chemistry.
The set included the bands two hit singles 'My World' and the more well know 'Yesterday Has Gone' the latter especially sounding magnificent and fantastically received, the rest of the set was made up of a selection of well known numbers from the era and a certain Bryan Adams number with a 60''s relevance.
The band have quite a rocking sound possibly more so than some of the other bands on the 60's circuit and not surprising as guitarist Paul Shanahan and bassist Bob Poole (both part of the Cupids line-up between 1970 and 1985) have a rock pedigree with 80's 'New Wave of British Heavy Metal' band Chevy while (Mr Cool) vocalist Paul Thomas is a power packed but soulful vocalist with oodles of stage charisma.
Highlights form the covers included the brace of Stones numbers 'Let's Spend the Night Together' and 'Honky Tony Woman' which along with The Kinks 'You Really Got Me' were full of drive, power and energy and they showed the bands quieter side on a soulful 'My Girl'.
'Summer of 69' the Bryan Adams 1980's hit was an unusual but surprisingly effective choice for a 60's festival and had the audience waving their arms and singing along.
It is not surprising that this type of festival is so popular if this is the standard of the performances.

Andrew Lock


John Otway
Leamington Assembly
7/2/14
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)
(EDITED VERSION PUBLISHED IN LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER)

Mr Entertainment hit Leamington with his full band behind him adding that edge of power to his well-loved stage antics.
Myself and a friend at the show came up with an observation on a Mr Otway show “You know what to expect, yet you don’t”, you know you will get mapcap fun and games, fantastic crowd interaction, classic covers given that Otway magic and of course ‘The Hits’ but at his shows there is still that air of what will he do next?
In a brave move (reserved of course only for the major stars) John started the first of his two sets with one of his two hits, the punk/pop classic ‘Really Free’, which of course he reminded us was voted the seventh best lyric of all time. Only one way to follow this and that was to flip over the 7inch and perform the infamous and great fun B side ‘Beware of the Flowers’, unfortunately without the usual torrent of said flowers thrown in John’s direction by the faithful.
The first set also included, from his Weetabix advert days ‘Delilah’ given extra oomph with the full band set up which meant plenty of rocked up guitar work.
With his usual honesty John told us that with only two hits there would be ample room for plenty of his flops this evening.
Two of his shall we say non-hits! in the first half gave us looks at John the ‘Punk Icon’ and John the ‘Rock God’, the former with the pogo and doll assisted, fairy tale influenced ‘Rumpelstiltskin’ and the latter with a riff-tastic (not sure if that is a word but like the sound of it!) ‘We Rock’, and loved his intro describing this as a more simplistic number on the lines of Queens ‘We Will Rock You’.
Set 2 began with yet another change of musical genre as well as the second hit as he turned into a disco diva for ‘Bunsen Burner’ and he was overjoyed when he spotted the disco balls on the venue ceiling, even more so when the lighting guy turned them on.
He showed his famous theremin skills on ‘Crazy Horses’, ‘House of the Rising Sun’ (heckling version) was as always a real standout while ballad ‘Josephine’ was a chance for John the romantic to take centre stage.
Otway the master showman really took over during a riotous ‘You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet’ with plenty of climbing on the speaker cabinets, stage gambols and the whole band joining in on the fun and games.
To finish firstly John performed a solo birthday number dedicated to show promoter Chris Alexander celebrating his 50th on the night and finally with the return of his band to the stage the encore was a 100 mile an hour ‘Two Little Boys’.
As always smiles all around when Mr Otway is in town.

Andrew Lock


Dr. Feelgood
The Zephyr Lounge, Leamington Spa
22/1/14
(EDITED VERSION PUBLISHED IN LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER)

You always know what to expect at a Dr. Feelgood show, red hot, mostly short and snappy rhythm and blues with the added bonus for us Leamington fans of seeing local guitarist Steve Walwyn in action.
This is the first of the bands two Leamington shows this year as they are returning to play The Assembly on November 14th with another top blues rock band Nine Below Zero sharing the bill and the last time these two teamed up at that venue back in 2011 it was my gig of that year.
Back to this show at the smaller but atmospheric Zephyr Lounge (the little sister if you will of the Assembly) and after a well received set by local duo The Lamps, Dr. Feelgood took to the stage to a magnificent reception and for 90 minutes or so rocked the capacity crowd.
Feelgood are never a band that disappoints by leaving out well loved classics and this show included belting versions of 'I Can Tell', 'Milk and Alcohol' (their biggest hit surprisingly early in the set), 'Down at the Doctors' and my personal favourite a throbbing 'She Does It Right'.
'Back in the Night' was groove laden with knockout bass lines and Steve's delightful slide guitar, and the latter took on vocal duties for a frantic, bluesy 'Rollin and Tumblin' with yet more terrific slide work while the other showcase for the local lad was the extended 'Down by the Jetty' with plenty of vocalist Robert's ace harmonica work and soulful lead soloing by Steve and I loved the effective way he took the guitar volume right down in the mix before exploding back into life.
The four piece band as always such a tight unit who know each others playing inside out and in vocalist Robert Kane they have a true showman as well as exceptional vocalist, the rhythm section/engine room of the band bass player Phil Mitchell and stick man Kevin Morris could not be more solid while the lead guitar prowess of Mr Walwyn is well known.
The encores ramped up the rock meter with explosive covers of the Larry Williams classic 'Bony Moronie', followed by one of the most well known rock/blues standards 'Route 66' and finally a full of fun run through The Champs instrumental 'Tequila' with plenty of responses from the audience.
To close with a terrible pun this sure was a show that sure made you 'feel good' and for those that missed a great night get your tickets for The Assembly this November which could possibly be even better.

Andrew Lock


Stormy Monday Blues
The Basement Restaurent, Leamington Spa
20/01/14

Only made a brief visit to this the first of the restaurants open mic blues nights and was really impressed with the talent on display, while I was there the music not as traditional a selection of blues as I imagined but with the at times a rock edge I was personally very happy.
Among the numbers performed were 'Mama Kin' and Pink' by Aerosmith as well as a brace of southern rock tunes by Lynyrd Skynyrd 'Call me The Breeze' and a fab 'Simple Man'.
Also in the first half we had a stylish lady blues singer accompanied by a guitarist, well known local blues man Chris Gibbons and a folk/roots artist who heads an open mic night in Coventry.
Had to leave before Steve Walwyn, Sam Powell and Gary Tedstone arrived and by all accounts that is when we the blues really took over.
I hope this night continues to be a regular feature of the local music scene and if so plan to maybe attend a future evening and stay the course.

Andrew Lock


2013



Christmas Blues Show
The Zephyr Lounge, Leamington Spa
22/12/13
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

Switched from the Leamington Assembly to its smaller sister venue The Zephyr Lounge late in the day this was a top draw night of red hot blues with a 4 band bill that included 3 acts that wowed the Blues stage at the 2013 Cambridge Rock Festival, Laurence Jones, Cherry Lee Mewis and Del Bromham.
But first up a blues man I had not seen before, Northamptonshire based Greg Coulson with a set of often funky blues during which he performed on both keyboards (with a bit of a Jerry Lee Lewis flourish now and again) and guitar as well as vocals and he was well assisted by a tight 3 piece band, great start to the evening and it is a sign of his talent that he has played on the keys for two-tone band The Selector for the last 3 years.
Next up and no stranger to the Zephyr Lounge, local lad Laurence Jones who is gaining a big reputation on the blues scene and along with his fabulous drummer and bass player he had the audience in the palm of his hand with numbers from his impressive debut album 'Thunder In the Sky' and tasters from his next album.
From the debut 'Going Down' was awesome, full of rock solid, heavy drum work and full of power and aggression, new number 'Fall From the Sky' was a groove laden rocker and his set also included two belting covers Rory Gallagher's 'Bullfrog Blues' and a dynamic 'All Along the Watchtower', Hendrix version of course!
This was easily the best I have seen Laurence perform and talking to others on the night I was not the only one with the opinion that he just gets better and better, his guitar playing is dynamic, he is a showman with charm as well as oodles of confidence and if he can keep his band together and keep up performances of this quality the sky is the limit.
Next to grace the stage one of my favourite artists and a lady who always puts a smile on my face and gets my feet tapping, the fabulous Cherry Lee Mewis, who mixes blues, country, rockabilly and more in her own unique way, always performs with a smile on her face and a wink in her eye while her band just drips quality.
A lively 'He Wants More' had a touch of The Andrew Sisters about it (but rocked up!), 'Man Overboard' kept up a frantic pace and 'Sounds Like Heaven to Me' with the easy to sing along to chorus promoting 'whisky and wild women' is great fun, a thoroughly enjoyable feelgood set by a real star on the scene.
Headline time and Del Bromham's set started with a groove packed 'House of Love' from his 'Devil's Highway' album and I was so pleased to see that he had the same band onstage as he did for his triumphant Cambridge set earlier in the year, which included members of rock band Pearl Handled Revolver and Cherry Lee Mewis's fab bass player, this time on electric instead of the stand up bass he used during Cherry's set (Cherry would join the fun later).
His set quite rightly was weighted towards his excellent latest album 'Nine Yards' one of my top 5 albums of 2013, 'You Don't Know How I Feel' was smoking hot with the feel of the faster Hendrix numbers, 'Everybody Has to Sing the Blues' mixes blues with Lynyrd Skynyrd style southern rock while 'The Ballad of JD' his ode to Jack Daniels whisky was just great story telling blues.
Cherry joined in proceedings mid way through and her part of the set included a cracking version of what is fast becoming one of my all time favourite duets 'What Comes Around' and the strength and depth of this line-up really shone through on a thunderous 'Words'.
A complete showman Del took many walks through the audience during the numbers and is a master at the audience/artist stage banter, this was a fantastic night of blues from first artist to last and in the end the more intimate setting of The Zephyr lounge really worked.

Andrew Lock


Fish
Leamington Assembly
6/11/13
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

This was a vibrant, powerful performance with the big man as animated as I have seen him on stage in recent years and it is so obvious that putting together the magnificent 'A Feast of Consequences' album with the subject matter so close to his heart has completely re-energised him.
The well received and top quality support duo made up of a female vocalist accompanied by an acoustic guitarist warmed up the audience nicely and alongside their original material the set included a fabulous cover of Jefferson Airplane's 'White Rabbit'.
After a recent move to smaller venue, intimate acoustic gigs (and if I remember right he even dropped hints that this could be his live show future) Fish is back on big production, rocking form, personally I love both types of Fish gig and hopefully the future will see a combination of the two.
With a talent packed band (mostly well know to Fish fans) including top guitarist Robin Boult and ace drummer Gavin Griffiths and the superb back screen images showcasing the amazing art work of long time collaborator Mark Wilkinson this was as stated a really big show although he still manages to maintain that intimate vibe through his larger than life stage presence, charisma and wonderful stories (still waiting for that spoken word tour !!).
As for that voice we all love, for me on top form and firing on all cylinders even at this show at the end of a long tour .
Material from the critically acclaimed new album was greatly received and included the powerful and dark 'Perfume River', the ode to Mother Nature 'Blind to the Beautiful' and lively rocker 'All Loved Up'.
The epic, multi-section, beating heart of the new album 'High Wood' was represented by three parts of this truly amazing piece of music introduced as he sat on the lip of the stage by a spell binding World War One based monologue, as for the music simply astonishing and at times as heavy and powerful as anything in his vast back catalogue.
With a huge selection of material to choose from after all these years you never know what oldies you will get and highlights from his solo years included a brooding 'Dark Star', a pulsating 'Credo' and with for me its dramatic Eastern influences a magnificent 'Tongues'.
The Marillion fraternity were not disappointed and early in the set it was shiver down the spine time with 'Script For a Jester's Tear', which included the fun moment when a shout rang out from the crowd before keyboard extraordinaire Foss Paterson was about to play of "Come On Mark Kelly", rockers 'Assassing', 'Freaks' and 'He Knows You Know' had the audience jumping and the 'Misplaced Childhood' anthemic like 'White Feather' was a stirring surprise.
Fun and games in the set included Fish confidant Yatta appearing on stage in drag several times and at one point wrestling the big man to the ground with an accomplice dressed as a penguin ! Great fun.
Fish also gave a little stage time for the merch / back screen guy to play a little guitar and for the sound man to sing lead vocals on Free's 'Wishing Well', this along with the other fun moments gave the show a real party vibe.
A sensational performance on so many levels which ended as so many of these do with artist, band and audience as one with a stirring 'The Company'.

Andrew Lock


Voodoo Vegas
The Zephyr Lounge, Leamington Spa
19/10/13
(EDITED VERSION PUBLISHED IN LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER)

Just a couple of months after the bands knockout 2nd stage headline slot at this years Cambridge Rock Festival Voodoo Vegas returned to bring their all action breed of rock to Leamington for a performance at The Zephyr Lounge.
Support was provided by local metal band Eighteenth Dynasty who provided a full on wall of sound with crashing riffs and pounding rhythms and for me the highlight of their set was a terrific cover of Black Stone Cherry's 'Lonely Train'.
Voodoo Vegas with a brand new drummer in the line-up treated the audience to most of the their sensational debut album and had a real bonus up their sleeve with a hot off the press brand new number.
Highlights a difficult one with a Voodoo gig as the whole set is always a highlight but from 'The Rise of Jimmy Silver' album 'No More' charged like a battering ram and away from the rest of the sets high voltage rock and roll the slower paced 'Lost In Confusion' was superb and with knockout new number 'Killing Joke' the band look like they will have no problems when it comes to put together that difficult second album.
Band all on top form with vocalist Lawrence once again proving that as a frontman he is up there with the very best in the business.

Andrew Lock


Hammered
The Grist Mill, Leamington Spa
12/10/13

Power rock trio Hammered brought their diverse collection of rockin' covers to The Grist Mill with a set which included blues, punk, new wave and heavy rock with numbers made famous by the likes of by The Jam, The Sex Pistols, Jimi Hendrix, Foo Fighters, Guns N' Roses and Cream.
A full bodied, power packed sound from just the three musicians and at times the excellent 2 and 3 part vocal harmonies really stood out, highlights included a spirited 'Crossroads' and a really rocked up run through Nirvana's 'Come As You Are', the latter a number which really suited the vocalists voice and included top quality bass work.
For the encore it was back to the 60's with their version of The Spencer Davis Group's 'Keep On Running' with at the back the man on the sticks (a busy lad who also drums for Riff Raff and The Rogues) putting everything into it.
Excellent live music and a great way to escape the miserable wet weather.

Andrew Lock


Diamond Head/Uli Jon Roth
Leamington Assembly
3/10/13

A value for money double header with firstly the ex lead guitarist of one of heavy rocks biggest bands followed by one of the leading lights of 'The New Wave of British Heavy Metal'.
First to hit the stage Uli Jon Roth the flamboyant, stylish, technical lead guitarist for the mighty German band the Scorpions from 1973-78, his band a combination of youth and experience included two guest lead vocalists at various points of the set in Persian Risk front man Carl Sentance and powerful rock vocalist Nathan James who has numerous stage and TV appearances under his belt.
This year is the 40th Anniversary of Uli joining The Scorpions so the set was made up of classics from his years with that much loved band, highlights included the epic 'We'll Burn the Sky' with it's delicate opening, 'In Trance' and 'Fly To the Rainbow'.
A fabulous first set and next up a band that I had somehow missed seeing live both in their early 1980's heyday and on the bands later return to the stage but I was very impressed with Diamond Head's no nonsense, hi-energy, balls to the wall, rocking set and far from just a wait for the justifiably classic 'Am I Evil?' the band had plenty more jewels (sorry!) to their crown.
'Shoot Out the Lights' was full frontal rock and roll, 'In the Heat of the Night' was chock full of solid riffing and of the bands more recent output 'Come Alive' had a blues edge to it and on this number particularly vocalist Nick Tart with the band since 2004 reminded me a little of class rock vocalists such as a young Robert Plant and Paul Rodgers.
Founder member Brian Tatler was having a ball and playing with a smile on his face all set and the whole band put everything into the performance.
As strong as the rest of the material was when asked before the last number what the crowd wanted to hear there was only one possible answer and so we had one of the all time rock classics the afore mentioned 'Am I Evil?' pounding from the speakers with that fantastic ominous, foreboding riff just made to head bang to and this goes down as one of the best live numbers I have ever seen performed and no wonder Metallica love it so much.
The encores included something which should not have worked but actually did as with a major change of pace and style we had the bands version of classic oldie 'Fever' famously recorded by Brenda Lee and Elvis Presley.
A solid, rocking night, two quality sets and two bands with great pedigree and plenty still to offer.

Andrew Lock


Limehouse Lizzy
Leamington Assembly
27/9/13
(EDITED VERSION PUBLISHED IN LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER)

One of the top tribute bands in the country and one that plays very much from the heart with Thin Lizzy themselves referenced throughout, especially the much missed Phil Lynott who's image takes up a large section of the impressive stage backdrop.
Hit after hit performed to close on perfection and Wayne Ellis at the front has real stage presence with much of the charisma of the Thin Lizzy leader along with powerful vocals and a fabulous look.
The band is a true powerhouse creating a full on rich sound which comes to the fore on the many explosive rockers in the set including opener 'Jailbreak', 'Waiting For An Alibi', 'Are You ready', 'Rosalie' and 'Don't Believe a Word'.
The slower more reflective 'Southbound' was beautifully performed and their version of the Gary Moore/Phil Lynott classic 'Parisienne Walkways' was breathtaking, particularly the incredible lead work of Tim Read, of course being a Thin Lizzy tribute band they need the twin guitar attack which is completed by another top notch player in Greg Alcock (also a special mention for the bands new drummer who has not been with the band long at all for a stunning display).
Very little missing from the set list for most Thin Lizzy fans with massive hits 'The Boys Are Back In Town', 'China Town' and 'Killer On the Loose' all in place and my personal favourite 'Cold Sweat' from the last Lizzy studio album 'Thunder and Lightning' was top draw.
The encores were well in Celtic territory with a spectacularly heavy 'Roisin Dubh (Black Rose)' followed by the audience bouncing along to the number that started the Thin Lizzy legend all those years ago 'Whisky in the Jar'.
A great, great gig, a Thin Lizzy live jukebox performed with quality musicianship, passion and most of all love.

Andrew Lock


Zoe’s Place Charity Gig
The Nursery Tavern
Coventry
21/9/2013

This was a free musical event organised by Coventry singer/songwriter Kristy Gallacher to raise money for Zoe’s Place Baby Hospice www.zoes-place.org.uk/coventry/ .
Money was raised by a raffle and collection boxes at the venue.
From 4.30pm until 11pm many local artists gave their time to help out providing a diverse days musical entertainment.
The bill included punk and protest numbers by the charismatic Huffy, an acapella folk set by three piece Thrup’nny Bits including a couple of hilarious numbers that had the audience in stitches and the down beat wit of Pete Jackson whose performance included several numbers by the “Essex Poet” Ian Dury including a fab ‘Sex & Drugs and Rock & Roll’.
Kristy Gallacher as always gave her usual faultless performance which included my track of 2012 ‘Fending off the Frost’ and so looking forward to her next album.
John Wright performed twice, helping out on Hilary Wilson’s excellent set and later in the evening returning for his own set which included a magnificent ‘House of the Rising Sun’.
Elsewhere during the day were performances by the youthful and talented Alyson Edwards, lively duos KC Jones and the Supine Orchestra and a Dylanesque set by Al Britten.
The last minute replacement Ian Bland was very impressive and his set included one of the numbers of the day the epic ‘Jesus of Hollywood’.
The closing set by Sarah Bennett and Dan Gascoigne was a real delight with the duo using a selection of instruments including guitars, a banjo and a mandolin and it also included a very different but equally magnificent version of Animals classic ‘House of the Rising Sun’.
A day full of local musical talent and all in a great cause, this is an annual event so look out for it next year.

Andrew Lock


The Official Receivers
The Zephyr Lounge, Leamington Spa
6/9/13
(EDITED VERSION PUBLISHED IN LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER)

An evening of cool Atlantic and Stax soul classics played superbly by a smartly turned out all action eight piece band that included a three piece horn section with plenty of choreographed moves while the set list was a who's who of the genre including numbers by Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, Ike and Tina Turner and Wilson Pickett.
Dancing at the front was pretty much from the off and during the particularly hi-tempo numbers the whole floor right up to the back doors was full of movement and this added to the interaction between the floor and the stage meant band and audience at times became one.
Plenty of foot tappers in the set including 'Shake', 'Hard To Handle', 'Mustang Sally' 'Nutbush City Limits' and 'Soul Man' with the addition of a couple of quieter more reflective numbers like the beautiful 'Try a Little Tenderness' during which out of the corner of my eye I could see an elderly couple in a loving embrace for the whole song, completely lost in the moment.
This was more of a party than a regular gig, so much energy and enthusiasm from the stage and throughout the audience and numbers most of us knew and loved, my only criticism (and it is nit picking) is that I have never seen such a poorly lit stage and it would have been fantastic to have a little more light on the performers to see more of the action and the light bouncing off the brass in the horn section.

Andrew Lock


The DT's
The Zephyr Lounge, Leamington Spa
4/9/13
(EDITED VERSION PUBLISHED IN LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER)

Steve Walwyn rocked back the years at his latest 'Kellys Night' at The Zephyr Lounge with this performance by The DT's, Steve's band prior to his position in Dr Feelgood.
This was the bands first gig in this area for over 20 years and the large audience was treated to an evening of 'throttle down', top quality blues/rock and roll, plenty of fun and games with charismatic vocalist Simon (Honey Boy) Hickling and a very special guest for the encores.
Stage centre with a case full of various mouth organs/harmonicas, Joe Cocker like facial expressions and a fabulously bluesy voice, true showman Simon controlled the stage while Steve Walwyn played some of the finest blues guitar I have seen him put down, keeping the groove tight the line-up was completed by Craig Rhind on bass and Chas Chaplin on drums .
Full of blues/rock standards this was a delight for aficionados of the genre and included pounding versions of 'Who Do You Love' and 'High Heeled Sneakers' a simply stunning, full of energy 'Crossroads' with Steve on dynamic form and talking of Steve his emotion soaked lead on the slower paced Sonny Boy Williamson number '23 Hours Too Long' was truly one of those shiver down the spine moments.
Introduced as "from the bands folk faze" 'Going up the Country' was upbeat and sprightly and in good contrast to the rest of the evenings blues material and keeping the rock and rollers well and truly happy was the brace of Chuck Berry classics 'Promised Land' and 'Nadine', the latter enhanced by the appearance on stage of legendary rocker Steve Gibbons on vocals.
While all of the 'Kellys Nights' I have attended have been quality this was one of the very best and on the evidence of this show you would have thought they had been touring for the last twenty years.

Andrew Lock


CAMBRIDGE ROCK FESTIVAL 2013 - MY HIGHLIGHTS
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

INTRO

Hot, hot, hot and that goes for both the sweltering heat (on Thursday you could actually see steam rising from the audience wafting up to the main stage ceiling!) and many of the bands/artists on display at this years festival.
As always most rock tastes were covered including heavy metal, blues, progressive, folk and much more, this was the 10th Anniversary of this my favourite of the UK rock festivals so had to be special and it was with the quality of the music on offer leading to many dilemmas over which stage to choose to rock out.
Below are my personal highlights of this years event and I am sure more artists would have made it had I managed to fit them in but that is the good news/bad news of festivals in a nutshell, fantastic choice but you can end up missing cracking sets because of bill clashes !).

THURSDAY


FRED'S HOUSE
Regular visitors to the festival and this year headlining the acoustic stage Fred's House played a delightful set, a band playing upbeat, flowing, folk style numbers full of fabulous harmonies, 'Beautiful You' had a Spanish feel starting slowly and building to a crescendo and the catchy full of fun current single 'Fine Life' was light and breezy.

ARE YOU EXPERIENCED?
This was the first time I had seen this dynamic tribute to the legendary Jimi Hendrix and John Campbell carries off the look and style of the master guitarist to perfection, with amazing guitar work, strong vocals and backed by a truly outstanding rhythm section he entertained the main stage crowd with stunning versions of 'The Wind Cries Mary', 'Machine Gun', and of course 'Voodoo Child' to name but a few.
For a smoking 'Foxy Lady' he invited the "Foxy Ladies" in the house to join him on stage and very soon he was surrounded by willing ladies dancing around him and having great fun in the process.

FRIDAY


VOODOO VEGAS
Bournemouth based classic rock band Voodoo Vegas brought the CRS stage to an explosive conclusion with a set of all action, high octane rock and roll, performing numbers from their impressive debut album 'The Rise of Jimmy Silver' and a couple of new numbers.
They had the large crowd eating out of the palm of their hands thanks to the energy and excitement on stage and vocalist Lawrence Case's showmanship.
Highlights included a rollicking 'Ferry Song' with a guest keyboard player (the band also had a sensational backing vocalist to further enhance the sound for this headline set), a storming 'Bullet' and a frantic 'Mary Jane'.
I always love a twin lead guitar attack and Meryl and Nick as always lit up the stage while sharing the solos leaving Ash and Matt to beef up the rhythm section.
I have seen these guys quite a few times but this was the best set I have seen them play and they really rose to the occasion.

KRISTY GALLACHER
Hailing from my part of the country and my favourite singer/songwriter Coventry based artist Kristy played the penultimate slot on Fridays acoustic stage.
With her distinctive vocal style and lyrics full of depth and emotion she wowed the audience with a set including 'Quicksand' with its intricate guitar picking and the gorgeous 'Fending Off the Frost' (both taken from my 2012 album of the year 'Spinning Plates'), a couple of new numbers and a crowd pleasing cover of Dylan's 'Don' Think Twice It's All Right'.
Gaining plenty of new fans most of which having their first look at this incredible talent this was a festival highlight for sure.

ADAM DAWSON
Also on the acoustic stage and making his debut solo performance at the festival after playing previous years in the bands Breathing Space and Stolen Earth this stripped down performance showcased both his vocal/guitar skills and his quality songwriting.
The beautiful 'Silver Skies' previously performed with the aforementioned bands and always an exquisite piece of music really came into its own with the solo treatment and was a highlight of the set along with a superb 'Lazy Susan'.

LOVELESS LUCK
Birmingham rockers Loveless Luck brought youth and energy to the main stage early on the Friday, running around all over the shop while delivering a set of driving hard rock/rock and roll including a cracking version of Velvet Revolvers 'Slither' and powerful original composition 'Between the Lines'.

SPLIT WHISKERS
Always a festival favourite with their combining of several different blues styles as usual this was a bouncy, fun set and highlights included 'Call Me the Breeze' dedicated to the recently departed JJ Cale and 'Sweet Little Lisa' and on stage it is always difficult to take your eyes off the flying colourful dreadlocks of bass player supreme Claudia 'Beads' Mckenzie'.

HABU, LOREWEAVER, RICHARD YOUNG & ADRIAN NATION, SAVAGE
I took many walks to the Classic Rock Society Stage and highlights included three piece Habu who mention Rush among their influences and this came across in their impressive at times experimental set which included a tribute to the Canadian threesome with their version of 'Spirit of Radio'.
Hailing from Italy the powerful Loreweaver brought their brand of progressive rock with a Gothic tinge to the CRS stage and at the front Barbara Rubin has bags of attitude and a cracking vocal style.
After a band had to cancel late in the day Richard Young and Adrian Nation stepped into entertain with an intimate set mixing outstanding vocal harmonies and twin guitar picking on a selection of well loved numbers including the Beatles classic 'Dear Prudence' and in real contrast Savage brought their breed of 'New Wave of British Heavy Metal' mayhem with plenty of power chords, dynamic rock guitar and all the rock posturing you could ask for.


SATURDAY


CHERRY LEE MEWIS
Another regular to the festival and this year Cherry was up bright and early to open Stage 2 which (along with Sunday) was dedicated to the blues and who better to put life into the festivals early risers than the breath of fresh air, the always cheerful and at times wonderfully sassy Cherry Lee Mewis a real star with one of the best backing bands around.
This lady of the blues (she throws several styles into her music though) always delivers and this was a set full of quality including a soulful 'Midnight in Memphis', a cracking cover of 'Proud Mary' and a toe tapping 'Southbound Train', so much action on stage with a Cherry set, the band interact throughout while she herself is simply musical dynamite not standing still for a second and she is always one of my favourite live acts.

LAURENCE JONES
Another artist from my neck of the woods and making a big name for himself on the blues scene Laurence Jones set stage 2 on fire with his early evening set, only 21 yet full of confidence both in his music and stage craft this was a set of full on blues rock.
Including the pedal to the floor blues rock and roll of original rockers 'Bad Girl' and 'Going Down' the powerful ballad 'Thunder in the Sky' and unique interpretations of classics 'Stuck In the Middle With You' and 'All Along the Watchtower' Laurence and his tight band did not put a foot wrong.
The first time I saw Laurence perform was guesting with Dr Feelgood's Steve Walwyn in a small venue in my home town of Leamington Spa and I knew straight away this was a real talent, lightning fast guitar work, quality vocal delivery and an exciting performer.
While not short of class blues acts in this country Laurence is up there with the best of them.

DEL BROMHAM BLUES DEVILS
A founder member of rock band Stray Del Bromham loves the blues and filled the stage with special guests for his explosive set including both the vocalist and guitarist of Pearl Handled Revolver and Cherry Lee Mewis along with her fabulous bass player.
Several numbers from his upcoming album 'Nine Yards' were showcased including his ode to Jack Daniels (both man and drink) 'The Ballad of JD', a fantastic duet with Cherry on 'What Comes Around' and a real blues stomper in 'Words'.
Full of charm and character Del has a powerful vocal delivery and with his all action guitar work and the addition of the quality performers sharing his stage this one of the sets of the festival.

CORNERSTONE
From Austria this band add a bright pop element to their brand of rock reminding me a little of Breathing Space in style, original numbers mixed with a selection of well chosen covers made up the set and the band looked and sounded fantastic, vocalist Patricia Hillinger particularly adding a visual flair to proceedings and with a voice to match while on the guitar Steve Wachelhofer is a real talent.
Of the covers 'Black Velvet' really suited Patricia's vocals and the brace of rockers 'Burning Heart' and 'Enter Sandman' had the main stage rocking.

GALLOWS GHOST
My only visit to the acoustic sage on Saturday was for a band that looked really interesting in the festival program and turned out to be just that, using a vast array of instruments including Cello, Violin, guitar, bass, tambourine and harmonica this original sounding band played beautiful, haunting and at times gloriously dark numbers with mysterious titles like 'Love is the Killer In You' and 'Ravens Void'.
Really enjoyed this beautifully performed often hypnotic set.


SUNDAY


MOSTLY AUTUMN
As with last years Mostly Autumn set the band were again introduced on the main stage by seriously injured serviceman Ben Parkinson who this year brought along his Olympic Torch and of course he received a fantastic ovation.
A welcome return to the set for the stirring, powerful opener 'Winter Mountain' and the band were as always firing on all cylinders with a set full of fan favourites, including the never fails to hit the spot 'Evergreen' and the show stopper 'Heroes Never Die'.
They showed their spiritual side on 'Simple Ways' and 'Questioning Eyes' was the usual showcase for Olivia's stunning vocals and from the latest studio album they rocked out with the solid beats of 'Drops Of the Sun'
Two members of the band have recently left and will be very much missed so thanks for the Autumn memories to Anne-Marie Helder and Gavin Griffiths.

BEN POOLE BAND
A highlight of previous festivals on stage two Ben was quite rightly upgraded to the main stage this year and with his stylishly turned out band including the backing singer ladies in smart black dresses he got the presentation down to a tee. One of the current crop of fabulous UK blues artists he dazzled the packed hall with both originals and his completely reworked/re-imagining of Hendrix classic 'Hey Joe'. A stylish and impressive set by this explosive blues guitarist/vocalist.

MAGNUM
The festival have been trying to land this band for years and this year they finally got their man (band!) and with no ballad in site this was a melodic rock masterpiece, a set full or power and pomp with classics from start to finish, 'Vigilante', 'Rocking Chair', 'Days of No Trust' and 'Kingdom of Madness' all rapturously received.
Front man Bob Catley is up there with the best of them and completely took control of the stage with guitarist extraordinaire (as well as songwriting genius) Tony Clarkin supplying the axe work.
A magnificent set and hope they return to the festival as they promised from the stage.

THE ANIMALS
Even with only the one original member in the line up (John Steel on the drums) this band still provided the perfect finish to the festival with a well performed quality set of classic Animals tunes which included plenty of anecdotes and info on the band between numbers,
Plenty of dancing and singing along during the set with the audience knowing most of the words and the hits kept on a coming 'Baby Let Me Take You Home', 'Bright Lights Big City', 'Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood', 'We Gotta Get Out Of This Place' and of course and what a tune to close a festival 'House of the Rising Sun'.

ATTICA RAGE
The festival has a tradition of giving one of the heaviest, loudest bands of the festival the opening slot on the main stage on the last day and this year Scotland's Attica Rage were given the job of blasting off the last day of the festival hangovers, full of crashing riffs this biker metal band play no nonsense heavy rock, very fast, very loud and very heavy, the set amazingly included an Osmonds number !, but relax it was 'Crazy Horses'.

IN CLOSING
Another successful year, fantastic bands many more than mentioned above, as always a friendly atmosphere and this year hardly any rain.
One of my favourite stories from the festival is of a young would be music photographer (around 7 or 8 years of age I think) being treated to a couple of minutes in the pit taking snaps of Magnum, the band saw him must have take a shine to him and after the set he was back stage being photographed with the band - it's that kind of festival.
Roll (and rock) on next year.

Andrew Lock


The Cambridge Rock Festival 2013
(SENT TO CAMBRIDGE LOCAL PRESS)

This the 10th Anniversary of what must be up there with the friendliest of the UK’s music festivals provided its usual mix of rock music covering all genres spread over three stages and also its share of golden moments.
Over the four days festival goers were treated to blues artists such as The Animals, The Ben Poole Band and Laurence Jones, progressive/folk rock from the likes of Caravan, heavy rock including sets by Magnum and Voodoo Vegas and just about every other type of rock music you can name.
For those chill out times the acoustic stage provided an oasis for anyone who wanted to escape the louder, rock fuelled main stages while also providing a showcase for talented singer songwriters such as Adrian Nation and Kristy Gallacher.
Festival favourites and regulars Mostly Autumn as usual brought large numbers of their loyal fans for their main stage performance on Sunday and as with last year they were introduced on stage by injured serviceman Ben Parkinson who this year brought along his Olympic torch.
The Festival always raises money for several charities which this year included Addenbrookes Charitable Trust, The Pilgrim Bandits and The Potters Village Orphanage, all days of the festival also have sponsors that this year included The Classic Rock Society and BBC Radio Cambridge.
The weather held out well this year so the areas outside the music marquees were packed with people relaxing and listening to the music in the open air.
The bar at this festival would leave other festival bars in the shade with the large selection of real ales and ciders on offer and the festival site also included a selection of eateries and a large Arts tent.
All of The Cambridge Rock Festivals I have attended (all since 2008) have had their share of magic moments and one of those this year was little Sam also known on site as mini-tog a young boy of I think around 7 or 8 (could be out as not very good at ages ! but small !!)who at such a tender age has ambitions of becoming a gig photographer. After being given a treat and allowed into the photo pit to take a few shots during the Magnum set on Sunday the band spotted him and really took a shine, so after the set he found himself back stage with the band posing for photos.
This is my favourite music event of the year, always put together so well thanks to the hard work of Dave Roberts and family with the assistance and dedication of a small army of volunteers, the atmosphere is always fabulous and it has already been confirmed that the event will be back next August and very much hope to be there.
Andrew Lock


Night of The Musicians
The Wild Boar, Warwick
10/8/13
(PUBLISHED IN LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER)

My second Night of the Musicians show at The Wild Boar and the third they have held at the venue, as with my previous visit the bill was made up of a varied selection of styles from some of the very best singer-songwriters around carefully selected by host Matt Hernandaz to entertain a sell out room full of keen and respectful music fans (you could hear a pin drop during the quieter numbers!).
First up with a set of delightful, short, snappy, funky and at times quirky numbers (one song she refused to call a song and called it "a ditty") the spirited Suzy Indygo, with touches of Jazz and excellent guitar picking this was an entertaining start to the evening by an engaging young artist.
Firmly in blues territory next with David Bristow and a set filled with humour and moving as well as at times sad stories from his past mixed in with the performance, a highlight was his tale of on the road passion ! 'Three Fat Ladies' while another was his take on what he called "the most beautiful song ever written" the Loius Armstrong classic 'Wonderful World'.
Next musical genre of the evening was a fusion of jazz/swing with two (three with the addition of an upcoming happy event) of The Ellen Callender Swing Cats including Ellen herself with her sensational crystal clear, stylish vocals and quality violin work backed by a superb acoustic guitarist. With its mixture of English and French lyrics this was a set full of style, 'Autumn Leaves' was simply beautiful and as promised they finished with something lively, a foot tapping 'Sweet Georgia Brown'.
To close the evening an act like nothing I have seen before, Abies Miracle Tonic, with an array of instruments guitars, washboards, kazoos, shakers and a banjo (think that is it !) this three piece played with a smile on their faces which was contagious and at times I was amazed at how they performed at such an impressively fast musical pace, hard to pigeon hole them to a style and like with the other acts on the bill there were plenty of stories relating to the songs themselves.
Dedicated to one of her Aunties 'Fly Nightingale' had a particularly interesting back story relating to the said ladies job as a wartime nurse and another highlight was the instrumental 'Limehouse Blues'.
Another night of chilled musical excellence at The Wild Boar.

Andrew Lock


The Laurence Jones Band
The Zephyr Lounge, Leamington Spa
7/8/13
(EDITED VERSION PUBLISHED IN LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER)

Fresh from blowing the crowd away at this years Cambridge Rock Festival a few days ago local blues sensation Laurence Jones returned home and in Steve Walwyns absence kept his first Wednesday of the month 'Kelly's Nights' rocking.
A classic three piece blues outfit Laurence has picked a rhythm section that could not be tighter and act as the perfect foil for his explosive guitar playing (and especially for someone so young) soulful, full bodied vocals.
Plenty of material from his impressive debut album 'Thunder in the Sky' made the set including rockers 'Going Down' and 'Bad Girl', the former foot stomping, heavy, swamp/blues and the latter a scorching, fingers flying over the frets rock work out.
Most blues artists pay homage to their heroes when performing live and Laurence is no exception including numbers by Stevie Ray Vaughn, B. B. King and Jimi Hendrix in this set, his 'Voodoo Child (Slight Return)' was stunning.
An artist with a big future and for his tender years someone brimming with self assurance and confidence, already the real deal and a complete show man on top of his musical prowess, the fact that Steve chose him for this show also speaks volumes for his talent.
I had to leave with the strains of Zeppelins 'Rock and Roll' roaring from the stage and it sure is.

Andrew Lock
Rating 9/10


Chevy
The Zephyr Lounge, Leamington Spa
3/7/13
(PUBLISHED IN LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER)

This was the third reunion show in recent years by Leamington rock legends Chevy but the first with the original line up that recorded the bands 1980 album The Taker, support was provided by The Lamps a two piece acoustic version of the larger plugged in band The Electric Lamps.
The Lamps impressive set of blues, country and rock and roll covers included 'I Hear You Knocking', 'Folsom City Blues' and a unique interpretation of 'Voodoo Child', the set ended with a Hayseed Dixie style 'Walk This Way', a really good set full of tight vocal harmonies and acoustic guitar interplay.
Chevy took the stage to a heroes reception and once again rolled (and rocked!) away the years playing the whole of The Taker album and other Chevy classics, two of the things that stand out with this band are the excellent four way vocal harmonies and the (at times Thin Lizzy style) twin lead guitar attack both of which on fine form at this show.
Individually the band also have strength throughout, Martin Cure on lead vocals is a real rock star, posturing and working the audience to perfection and that voice still really rocks, Bob Poole surely one of the smartest looking bass players around these days supplies the solid groove and back beat along with Andy (Chas) Chaplin on the sticks while the fab two of Steve Walwyn and Paul Shanahan share the fabulous rhythm and lead guitar work.
The Chevy set stormed into life with powerful album opener and title track 'The Taker' followed by the oh so catchy 'You Got Me Running', elsewhere the pace really built for a storming 'Rock City', and introduced as "two songs about cars" a belting 'Fast Car' and the bands anthem 'Chevy'.
A real highlight was fan favourite and also the bands epic 'Skybird' a soaring (sorry!) number with spectacular axe work, another treat at this show was the one album track the band had not played on their last two reunion shows 'Turn On the Light', and for 'The Wind Of Change' vocalist Martin left the stage and backed up by Bob and Andy it was guitar duel time for Steve and Paul.
A gem of a gig, band on fire, sound spot on, great atmosphere and the fun the band were having was obvious, just had time to hear a triumphant encore of 'Rock On' before we rushed to rescue the car from the car park, hope very much this is not the last time they tread the boards.

Andrew Lock
Rating 10/10


Napton Music Festival 2013
(PUBLISHED IN LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER)

After the disappointment of the weather related cancellation of last years event this year it was sunny skies and warm weather for this friendly local music festival, it started on the Friday evening with The Fallows topping the bill and I went along on the Saturday to enjoy the day.
The music on offer was very diverse and included local young band Trip To The Sun with a set of chilled out, dreamy, summer progressive rock style tunes, the going places indie rock outfit the 7.20's, the ska sounds of Cabstars and a fun set of rock tunes by the MC Pigs.
A highlight was the set by the sensational young blues guitarist/vocalist Lawrence Jones and his band, they quickly filled the marquee and this lad is set for the big time for sure, the evening ended in raucous fashion with the punk sounds of the Jellyheads to end a musical selection with something for everyone.
Away from the music there was plenty going on with entertainment for the kids, plenty of stalls and quality food and drink on offer, such a lot of work was put into this event which was run really well and the atmosphere was fabulous.

Andrew Lock


The Mosquitos
The Zephyr Lounge, Leamington Spa
5/6/13
(PUBLISHED IN LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER)

If you like your blues/rock and roll loud, passionate and in your face this was the night for you, vocalist/harmonica player Nick Rowbotham is back for his regular visit from Thailand which as usual includes a smattering of Mosquitos shows alongside Steve Walwyn and band, this show the latest of The Zephyr Lounge 'Kellys Nights' is his last gig of the year and part of the show was streamed live on Radio Warwickshire.
The Mosquitos play with such a sense of fun (and occasional mischief !) and you could feel the pure energy pouring from the stage as they delivered two sets of rocking covers and Mosquitos originals, kicking off with the Kingsmen classic 'Louie,Louie' the twin guitar attack of Steves Walwyn and Aaron was soon swapping blistering solos.
The line up for this gig was completed by Rick Medlock on the drums and Chris Wright (getting a lot of stick by Nick for being the only one in the band with hair !) on the bass, he did relinquish bass duties for the first couple of numbers of the second set to original Mosquitos bassist Keith Hancock.
A real highlight was a sensational 'I Can Tell' a number also recorded and performed by Dr Feelgood which started off the evenings rock and roll dancing, and other standouts included the Johnny Kidd & the Pirates masterpiece 'Shakin' All Over' and a stomping run through Vince Taylor's 'Brand New Cadiallac'.
Well loved Mosquitos originals 'How could They Know?' and 'Somethin' Outa Nothin' went down a storm, for me both of these hi tempo rockers have a slight punk edge which contrasted well with the two low key numbers of the night Sam Cooke's 'Bring it on Home To Me' and the emotion packed 'I'd Rather Go Blind' the Etta James classic.
The evening ended as many gigs involving Steve Walwyn do with a stunning 'Bullfrog Blues' with Steve paying homage to the late great Rory Gallagher.
My favourite 'Kellys Night' so far but of course the next one is the big one with the return of the mighty Chevy to the Leamington stage, the date is Wednesday 3rd July with support provided by The Lamps Duo and tickets (priced at £10) and further information available if you contact chevy.chevy@ntlworld.com or you can buy tickets at www.kellysleamington.co.uk .

Andrew Lock


NIGHT OF THE MUSICIANS
The Wild Boar, Warwick
Saturday June 1/6/13
EDITED VERSION PUBLISHED ON LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER WEB SITE

At 7pm on the dot the doors opened to the spacious function room of The Wild Boar in Warwick for their inaugural 'Night of the Musicians' evening, the room although a good size had a real cosy feel and the numerous shaded lamps and table candles created a truly ambient atmosphere.
The stage at the far end of the room was specially constructed for the evening and was a fantastic idea as it helped with the viewing of the action from around the seated room, so with a pint of the always first class real ale on offer at this establishment it was time to be entertained.
The evening was compared by Matt Hernandez a real advocate (as well as tireless worker on behalf of) the local music scene, especially on the singer/songwriter side, Matt of course is also a top rate musician in in his own right and he opened proceedings with a selection of instrumental Spanish flamenco numbers.
The first guest of the evening was Kitty Macfarlane a young singer songwriter from Devon who studies at a local college, she has a beautifully clear vocal style with touches of Joni Mitchell, and is accomplished on the guitar where she throws in plenty of technique including effective use of hammer ons on at least one number. The audience quickly warmed to her almost shy, softly spoken song introductions and the tale of her "claim to fame" when her song 'Bus Song' was used during a piece on Radio 4 raised plenty of smiles and laughter in the room while the song itself was a fun quirky number. Highlights of her set included the lyrically superb 'Seventeen' her take on feelings at that age and her original and very effective interpretation of Tim Buckley's 'Song to the Siren', this was an excellent set by a really talented young artist.
Next up and shown on a large TV screen above the stage was a well put together short documentary on the local music scene by film maker Jo Taylor, titled 'Live and Local' it included snippets of local artists in action as well as the insightful thoughts and opinions of the performers.
Matt returned to the stage for another short set this time adding a cracking strolling blues number 'Mississippi Blues' to his Spanish material.
The next guest on stage was the very popular Wes Finch and this my first look at this artist left me really impressed, confident, assured, charismatic with a rich powerful voice, set standouts included the powerful 'Bowl of Stars', the heartfelt 'Southern Cross' and the country tinged new number 'Ring on the Riverbed'. Our second helping of blues occurred during his set when he rocked the hall with the heavy acoustic blues of the Robert Johnson classic 'Hellhound on My Trail' and he closed his quality set with an upbeat and slightly Jazzy number which I think was titled 'The Punchline'.
To close the evening a change of style with Stourbridge duo Mellow Peaches, a band not afraid to mix the musical genres (think I noticed folk, country, bluegrass to name just three), Amit on lead vocals and guitar also came over as a bit of a comedian with numerous anecdotes which had parts of the room howling and he gels so well alongside Rich (Mandolin and Harmonica) and at times they play at such a pace. Lively, intricate instrumental 'Canary' was a real highlight along with the exquisite 'I'll Go Down With This Ship' with it's haunting harmonica work.
A really well put together show and a complete success, quality music from start to finish in a friendly setting in what must be one of the best live music venues of its type around and the next Wild Boar 'Night of the Musicians' takes place on Saturday July 13th.
9.5 out of 10

Andrew Lock


WHOLE LOTTA DC/V8
THE VAULT, RUGBY
20/04/13

An atmospheric rock venue on a side street in Rugby town centre was the setting for this pairing of one of the best (and loudest!) rock cover bands around and one of the standout AC/DC tributes out there.
First up Leamington Spa’s V8 an institution on the midlands pub rock scene with a quality set of pulsating rock and metal numbers.
As usual they kicked off with a storming ‘Slither’ (Velvet Revolver) followed by a new addition in the set (for me anyway!) a touch of punk rock with ‘No More Heroes’ (Stranglers).
Plenty of the well loved V8 favourites made this set including ‘War Pigs’ (Black Sabbath) with a stunning guitar solo by Mark and a (black!!!!) mass sing-a-long.
For me one of highlights of the night was a more recent set addition, the bouncing Ska number ‘Gangsters’ (The Specials), V8 are always a band who mix the genres well.
To close their half of this show first up the 100 miles an hour riffola of ‘Ace of Spades’ (Motorhead) followed by a return to big and bouncy with ‘Fight For You Right’ (Beastie Boys).
A rocking set quickly followed by another as Whole Lotta Dc opened their AC/DC show (Brian Johnson era) with a scorching ‘Shoot To Thrill’.
Any AC/DC fan could quite easily guess most of the set and that is no criticism as the classics is what you want to hear (possibly with one or two more surprising tunes thrown in) and that is what you get with this band and all performed to perfection.
The biggest AC/DC album Black in Black of course gets plenty of coverage and as well as the set opener we had the doom laden ‘Hell’s Bells’, the anthem that is ‘You Shook Me All Night Long’ and of course ‘Back In Black’ itself.
The Bon Scott years were paid a visit including a crashing ‘Sin City’, the groove laden ‘High Voltage’ and complete with striptease routine by Spook (the bands Angus) ‘Bad Boy Boogie’.
One of the things that standout with this band (I have also heard this comment by many friends and fellow gig goers) is the bands energy, they make you tired just watching.
They hardly miss a trick on the showmanship front including Az the evenings Brian carrying Angus around the audience on his shoulders during ‘Let There Be Rock’, he also prompts the fans to join in on the saucy ‘The Jack’ and of course Angus duck walks and struts all set even throwing in a dying fly move.
The classic ‘Whole Lotta Rosie‘ was rapturously received and the evenings encores were ‘Highway To Hell’ with one of the all time top guitar riffs and what else to end the night but a triumphant ‘For Those About To Rock (We Salute You).
My first time at the venue and it has a great rock and roll look, a good sound system and an impressive stage area with excellent lighting.
V8 as good as ever, Dave Cowan and crew never let you down and rock us year in and year out and Whole Lotta Dc are thoroughly entertaining with their authentic homage to the kings of boogie drenched heavy rock and roll.

Andrew Lock


Steve Walwyn and Friends
The Zephyr Lounge, Leamington Spa
3/4/2013
(PUBLISHED IN LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER)

The second helping of Steve Walwyn's "Kellys" nights at The Zephyr Lounge included not one but two knockout performances on lead guitar, as expected the usual masterclass by Mr Walwyn but also (for me anyway) the surprise addition of a breathtaking display by youthful local guitar slinger Laurence Jones.
Rather than the mix of 60's/70's classics performed by the Fireworks on the opening "Kellys" night last month this set by Steve Walwyn and Friends was well steeped in the blues with among others numbers made famous by the likes of Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, Canned Heat and Chuck Berry.
The line-up was the one that performed so well at last years All Saints' Arts Festival with the addition of Laurence Jones who joined proceedings for a large section of the evening.
Highlights included a rampant run through Mr Berry's 'You Never Can Tell', a bouncing 'Going Up the Country' originally by Canned Heat which prompted several bouts of dancing in the crowd and the introduction of Laurence Jones to the stage for a pounding 'Killing Floor' the Howlin' Wolf classic.
Elsewhere in the evenings two sets Steve had a break and let young Laurence take centre stage for a few numbers performing both guitar and vocal duties and Steve also played tribute to the late great (and ex band mate) Steve Marriott with a rocking 'Don't Lie To Me' a number he used to perform alongside him.
The audience attendance was again healthy for the evening and hopefully this will continue for the future as it really is a fantastic opportunity to experience the best local musicians in action, next up is Wednesday 1st May when Steve will again be leading the Fireworks but this time with special guests Chevy vocalist Martin Cure and keyboard maestro Mark Steeds.

Andrew Lock


Fireworks
The Zephyr Lounge, Leamington Spa
6/3/13

A successful start to Steve Walwyn's monthly Kellys musical evenings, the aim of which is to recreate the vibe of the regular gigs at that famous Leamington live music venue during its late 1970's and 1980's hey day.
As a music venue the Zephyr Lounge has a fabulous look, walls completely covered in music posters, an old style jukebox in one corner, two band themed pinball tables in another, a selection of hanging lights adding ambiance while the bar stocks a selection of bottled ales for us real beer drinkers.
The sound is excellent and the room is a good size but for me an improvement that could be made is for the stage to be higher to give better views from further back in the room.
The turn out for this debut Kellys night was healthy and it was good to see a host of local musicians in attendance showing their support and rubbing shoulders with the local live music fans.
The band Steve chose to play with at this prestigious opening night was the Fireworks a band that really kick started the original Kellys pub live music scene, a rocking three piece with Keith Hancock (Jaykays) bass/vocals and Chas Chaplin-drums joining our Steve who shared lead vocals with Keith as well as of course supplying the blistering guitar work.
Split into two sets the material was roughly a 50/50 mix of 1960's early 70's classics and a selection of blues numbers and included cracking versions of the Beatles 'Day Tripper', the Animals 'We Gotta Get Out of this Place' and the groove laden Humble Pie track 'Natural Born Boogie' (Bugie for you musical experts) while blues work outs included a truly dynamic 'Crossroads'.
Popular local musician Sam Powell made guests appearances on many of the blues numbers adding his stylish harmonica playing to the mix.
My highlights of the evening were a pulsating 'Roadhouse Blues' made famous by one of my favourite bands The Doors and one of Steves tributes to his musical hero Rory Gallagher the riff laden 'Laundromat.
The future is hopefully bright for this fantastic idea of Steves and we are so lucky in this town to have a musician of his quality who finds time to perform locally especially given the hectic touring schedule of his day job ! with the awesome Dr Feelgood.
Next up for the Zephyr Lounge Kellys nights on Wed 3rd April is Steve Walwyn & Friends (sensational at last years All Saints' Arts Festival) including a guest appearance by Laurence Jones.

Andrew Lock


Kristy Gallacher, Suzy Indygo, and guests
The Grand Union Bar and Restaurant, Leamington Spa
15/2/13
(EDITED VERSION PUBLISHED ON LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER WEB SITE)

The upstairs bar at the Grand Union Bar and Restaurant is a tight, intimate and very atmospheric venue for live music especially on the acoustic side and every Friday they hold a Melody Lounge featuring a selection of local artists, they also have other musical events.
This Friday's headliner and in my opinion one of the best singer songwriters around was Kristy Gallacher but apart from her performance we had a wealth of musical talent on display.
Beginning the evening a gentleman who does such a good job keeping the local music scene alive Matt Hernandez with a small selection of well played classical acoustic guitar pieces and it was then onto the singer/guitarists with first up John Wright who's small set included a chilled out version of the George Gershwin number 'Summertime'.
Time for the girls next with first up Suzy Indygo with a jazzy, funky, sassy set, looking very stylish she wowed the crowd with her set which ended in rousing fashion with the uptempo original 'Shuffle', my first look at this lady and she really impressed.
I have seen Kristy perform a few times over the last few years and she has fast become one of my favourite artists, a superb songwriter as well as performer and her latest album 'Spinning Plates' was one of my top 5 albums of 2012, her next album is due for release around September this year and I cannot wait.
We had a few tasters from her next album at this show including 'Hearts For Orpheus' and 'Blood' and it was clear to see that the standard of her previous album is alive and well, I was so pleased she included my favourite number from Spinning Plates 'Fending Off the Frost' in her set a number that just rolls along with it's beautiful heartfelt lyrics.
To close her set and both a live favourite and rare cover her fabulous rendition of Bob Dylan's 'Don't Think Twice, It's All Right', it was really good to see Kristy play in Leamington and very much hope she returns soon.
As an added bonus we had another performance to finish the night when Tec Ward closed the evening and the highlight of his set was his excellent take on the instrumental 'Classical Gass'.
A quality nights music in a room obviously filled with music lovers, I will try not to leave it long before I return.

Andrew Lock

Verdict - Quality music in an intimate setting



FAIRPORT CONVENTION
THE ROYAL SPA CENTRE
LEAMINGTON SPA
8/2/2013
(EDITED VERSION PUBLISHED ON LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER WEB SITE)

In my covering of the Warwick Folk festival over the last 4 or 5 years I have gained a growing appreciation for the folk music genre but until tonight had never seen one of it's leading lights and regular visitors to the town folk rock giants Fairport Convention.
The newly refurbished Royal Spa Centre is such an improvement on the old set up with the raised stalls seating sweeping upwards in an arc giving fantastic views all over and with this show being a sell out (as is usual I gather with this band) and the hall buzzing the scene was set for a night of musical excellence.
The evening began with Yorkshire man John Watterson and his one man crusade to keep the music and humour of singer/songwriter Jake Thackray alive, an easy going performer with a twinkle in his eye this was a perfect support slot to get the crowd comfortable and in good spirits.
Highlights of his set which had the audience chuckling throughout included 'Tortoise' a tale of confusion between said animal and "crunchy pies" ! and the funny and sweet "love song to a dog" 'Our Dog'.
With my rock background I enjoyed his little Led Zeppelin spoof which included snippets of 'Stairway To Heaven' and for his finale headliners Fairport Convention walked on and joined in on 'Sister Josephine' a tale of a transvestite nun ! the violins of Chris Leslie and Ric Sanders really adding to the overall sound.
From this point it was all Fairport Convention and from the off the quality of the band was obvious with their flowing, warm, rich sound and each and every varied instrument played to perfection, their two sets mixed sad mournful tales and upbeat celebratory tunes perfectly, while the banter from the stage and the various greetings and dedications to audience members produced a feeling of real family and warmth in the room.
Highlights of the first set included a beautiful and delicate 'Fotheringay' with its exquisite acoustic guitar and violin work, Albert &Ted' a jaunty instrumental with cracking bass guitar work by Dave Pegg (a stunning bass player, several times during the night he played the bass like a lead guitar) which was introduced humorously as a fusion of of country and rap and the first half closer the lively foot tapping 'Walk Awhile'.
After a short refreshment break it was back to business with the second set which included a spirited 'The Wood and the Wire','Sir Patrick Spens' a sea faring tale from the bands 1970 album 'Full House', and after admitting it's inappropriate place in the set (not at the end of the show !) the vocal harmony showpiece 'Farewell, Farewell' a number taken from the bands most famous album 'Leige and Lief'.
'Mercy Bay' a track from the bands most recent album of new material 'Festival Bell' was for me one of the standout numbers of the evening, an atmospheric true life seafaring tale with the superb lead vocals of Simon Nicol well assisted by impressive vocal harmonies by the rest of the band and the performance was also enhanced by impressive, moody stage lighting.
One of the most emotionally charged parts of the evening was the simply gorgeous and heartfelt 'Who Knows Where the Time Goes' bringing back memories of the great Sandy Denny during which you could not hear a pin drop and then all to soon it was time for the evenings encore and only one song would do the job, the folk classic 'Meet on the Ledge'.
An evening of complete musical excellence from a band now an incredible 46 years in the business who generate a warm friendly, almost family like atmosphere into the bargain.
Andrew Lock

Verdict - A masterclass of a performance from the original folk rock pioneers



2012



Nina Baker
Head Records
Royal Priors
Leamington Spa
3/11/12
(PUBLISHED IN LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER)

Talented singer/songwriter Nina Baker currently hard at work putting the finishing touches to her first full length album which will be titled 'Quite Frankly' which is due for release early next year performed a late morning/early lunchtime set in Leamington's Head Records, a store that is no stranger to putting on live acts from time to time.
Nina's profile is high at the moment as she has recently been nominated for an MTV unsigned artist award and is also a BBC Coventry and Warwickshire artist of the month
This was a solo performance with Nina on keyboards and vocals combining original material and covers which kept the Head customers well entertained, 'With or Without You' from the U2 songbook opened proceedings and was well suited for Nina's distinctive, at times delicate vocals as were all the covers chosen which included the Emeli Sande number 'Read All About it' and a beautiful rendition of Elton John classic 'Your Song'.
On the original side she performed the fun, upbeat, lyrically clever 'Single Bed' and the heartbreaking 'When I'm Not With You', Nina is a confident stylish performer with an exceptional voice, she is also a fabulous songwriter and well worth catching live if you can.

Andrew Lock


Fish Convention
The Assembly
Leamington Spa
20th and 21st October 2012
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

After his highly successful 2009 Convention at this venue the big man returned to Leamington Spa for his 2012 gathering of the faithful with another fantastic value for money event which included no fewer than four sets by the man himself, two top quality support bands and all of the usual convention fun and games.
Both convention afternoons included Fish acoustic sets where he was accompanied by long time regular guitarist Frank Usher and Foss Paterson another band regular on keyboards, also making guest appearances on the keys over the weekend in the acoustic sessions were Mickey Simmonds and Tony Turrell.
Saturdays acoustic outing included fan favourite'State of Mind', an emotion packed 'Family Buisness', a pulsating 'Brother 52' and the always magical 'Sugar Mice' the first of many Marillion numbers to be performed over the weekend.
The acoustic treasures on Sunday included 'Jumpsuit City' with a moving introduction on the sad stories behind the lyrics, a superb 'Raingod's Dancing' and the fabulous Marillion trio of 'Torch Song', 'Incommunicado' and 'Slainte Mhath'. '.
Two cracking sets, very intimate and personally I always love to hear Frank Usher play that acoustic guitar (the electric as well of course !).
As mentioned two excellent special guests enhanced the weekend and for the Saturday it was prog, pop rock band It Bites.
Their set combined material from latest album 'Map of the Past' and the bands, for the main part bouncy, fun set included from the new album, possible single release, the lively and catchy 'Cartoon Graveyard', a heartfelt 'Send No Flowers' and rocking oldie 'Kiss Like Judas'.
Support on Sunday came in the shape of Welsh prog/rock band The Reasoning with a set full of power and passion, their set included tracks from recently released album 'Adventures in Neverland' and back catalogue classics.
Oldies 'Dark Angel' and 'The Thirteenth Hour' went down a storm as did new album track 'No Friend of Mine' which had a stunning guitar solo by new boy Keith Hawkins. .
The set finished with a flourish as Touchstone bass player Moo (the two bands have just finished a double header UK tour) joined the band on stage on backing vocals and sausages !!! for a pulsating 'Aching Hunger'.
Fish's two electric sets over the weekend could not have left anyone disappointed as he mixed lashings of Marillion classics with the cream of his solo back catalogue with the added bonus of a few tasters from his next album 'Feast of Consequences'.
Their was also of course the small matter of a much anticipated performance of a certain early Marillion epic to look forward to and we did not have to wait long as 'Grendel' opened the Saturday night set in some style, from the first few bars of the well known guitar intro the Assembly was in uproar and what a fabulous performance of this famous/infamous piece of music, its many segments performed superbly and Fish and the band looked like they had a ball.
This opening number was indeed a hard act to follow but what a set list and highlights included an intense 'Credo' a full of energy and drive 'Assassing', the rarely performed 'Jungle Ride', 'Moving Targets' and a monstrous 'Fugazi'.
Really impressed with the tasters for the next album firstly a segment from a large piece titled 'The High Wood', the part played was I think 'Crucifix Corner' and a superb atmospheric piece of music it was, this was in real contrast to the second preview from the next opus 'Fucked Up People' an angry rocker and maybe even a distant cousin to Fugazi.
Fish's showmanship really came to the fore during a stirring 'Vigil In a Wilderness of Mirrors' during which he walked through the crowd while singing his heart out.
If anything the Sunday night electric performance was even better and again opened in spectacular fashion with the crowd helping out on early Marillion classic 'Script For a Jesters Tear', plenty for Marillion fans to saviour this Sunday night including renditions of 'He Knows You Know', a heartbreaking 'Jigsaw', 'Freaks' and a bouncing 'Market Square Heroes'.
His solo years were represented on the Sunday by amongst others a spirited 'Lucky', the intense, brooding 'Dark Star' and complete with plenty of dancing both on and off stage a rousing 'Internal Exile'.
A real treat towards the end of the set was another performance of 'Grendel' and no one minded this repeat.
Away from the musical side plenty to do over the weekend including a screening of the very funny new movie 'Electric Man' which stars of course our favourite Scotsman and sessions of improvised chat and fun by Fish and special guests.
He also held his usual Convention Q and A session, we had a fun version of 'The Weakest Link' and artist fantastic Mark Wilkinson had an exhibition of possible artwork for the next Fish album.
Incredible value for money, classic after classic performed by the big man in front of an audience of die hard fans and plenty going on to keep The Company entertained all weekend.

Andrew Lock


THE PINEAPPLE THIEF
The Robin 2, Bilston
16/9/2012
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

The support slot for this gig was a dream like, tranquil set by Howard James Kenny on acoustic guitar and vocals including live looping of his on stage sounds which produced a beautifully mellow at times hypnotic performance.
The stand out number, which for me had occasional slight touches of Pink Floyd's Echoes (produced by Howard sliding his hand over the guitar strings) was 'My Wrongs' with it's exquisite guitar picking and gentle vocal performance, this was a really chilled out, quite original and cleverly worked set which had the majority of the audience spellbound for it's duration.
The evenings headliners British prog rock band The Pineapple Thief are a band that the more I listen to and see the more I enjoy, they make fantastic use of light and shade (love they way they can switch from mellow chilled out to crunching guitar work in an instant), turn on the power when they need to and vocalist Bruce Soord has surly one of the best and most distinctive rock voices around.
While they have a sound and style of their own they remind me just a little of Muse and Radiohead at times.
This show included all of their recently released album "All The Wars" while the reminder of the set was mainly taken from their superb 2010 album "Someone Here is Missing".
The laid back but full of power 'All the Wars' itself was first up followed by the first visit to 'Someone Here Is Missing' with 'Wake Up the Dead' a ridiculously catchy number with a cracking beat (could not help a little gentle headbanging) and when the guitar crashes in it gets even better, an immense number with a fabulous groove..
New album highlights included a spirited'Burning Pieces' with it's at times quirky time signature, the solid riff based 'Build a World' full of heavy bass guitar and the intense and gradually building 'Reaching Out' with it's rocking Crescendo.
Away from the current release the evenings highlights included a pulsating 'Show a Little Love' and a truly stunning 'Someone Here Is Missing'.
The encores were pure dynamite starting with a frantic, power packed 'Nothing at Best' and finally a gorgeous and simply haunting 'I Will Light Up Your eyes', a set of powerful intelligent rock (progressive or not does it really matter !) by a band with real strength,energy and depth producing a fantastic multi-layered sound.

Andrew Lock


MARILLION
WOLVERHAMPTON CIVIC HALL
13/9/2012
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

Support DeeExpuss impressed me with their set of heavy prog rock material, both powerful, melodic and full of impressive guitar work, the highlights of their set for me the epic trilogy 'The King pts 1, 2 and 3', and set closer 'Memo'
Marillion have again hit real heights with current album "Sounds That Can't Be Made" which is right up there with the bands very best Hogarth era releases and for me it even has the quality of the mighty "Marbles".
They have also on the live front, on the strength of this performance hit a rich vein of form.
The thudding intro to 'Splintering Heart' started proceedings but when the band hit the stage it was not to perform this "Holidays In Eden" classic but with the help of a couple of blistering smoke/flash bombs the set began with the heartbreaking 'Gaza' it's powerful subject matter assisted by Eastern sounds and some of Steve Rothery's heaviest guitar work in years, this the new album's opening number simply drips with emotion, gets the audience's mind working and is an absolutely stunning piece of music.
The band (including possibly the most animated and energised Mr Hogarth I have seen), played a blinder showing the hunger and energy of a much younger band, that the audience applause and cheering after the first number went on for what seemed like 5 minutes only seemed to spur them on.
I had no idea what to expect from the set list (apart from of course a few new numbers!) but they delivered a well thought out mix of new material and old favourites.
From the new release 'Sounds That Can't Be Made' the title track itself was an uplifting energetic number, 'Power' possibly as good as anything the band has ever produced (and my personal favourite from the album) was as impressive live as on CD, stirring, powerful with a beautifully arranged chorus, and 'The Sky Above the Rain' was absolutely epic.
Of the older material the set included welcome returns for 'This Town' and '100 Nights' the former one of the best rockers the band have ever produced really got the band and audience bouncing while also giving H the opportunity to play to the crowd in his unique style.
The mighty "Marbles" album was (and hopefully always will be) well represented with the catchy sing-a-long pop classic 'You're Gone', an exquisite 'Fantastic Place' and moved from its usual end of main set position the always stunning 'Neverland'.
Also included in the set a power packed 'The Other Half' dedicated to a Wedding Anniversary in the audience and a poignant 'A Voice From the Past' also a dedication but this time to the great John Lennon.
The main set ended with another old favourite and in my opinion one of the bands greatest ever compositions 'The Great Escape', always so powerfully uplifting with surely some of Mr Rothery's greatest ever guitar work.
The first encore echoed the theme and feel of the opening number with Steve Hogarth model machine gun in hand for a stirring 'A Few Words For the Dead', said gun returning to H to hold aloft with a flower down the barrel during the "Or You Could Love" section.
A real treat to close the evening with the band returning to the early days (the crowd of course assisting) for a beautiful rendition of 'Sugar Mice'.
A magical gig by a band bang on form, Marillion simply make quality music, constantly produce the goods on stage and always look after their fans who in return, myself included love them for it, roll on the UK convention at this venue next year.

Andrew Lock


Mostly Autumn
Robin 2, Bilston
2/9/2012
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

After the superb best of set at this year’s Cambridge Rock Festival it was time for Mostly Autumn to unleash their mammoth latest album ‘The Ghost Moon Orchestra’ on the live arena.
The set was of course also peppered with older fan favourites but for long time followers of the band the main anticipation was for the new material.
Mostly Autumn are regular visitors to the Robin so plenty of familiar faces around the venue especially front of stage as the lights dimmed and the classical music intro tape set the scene, this merged into the powerful instrumental and fan favourite opening number ‘Distant Train’.
The band wasted no time getting to the new stuff and first up was the latest album’s opening number ‘Unquiet Tears’ which began with Olivia Sparnenn's beautiful vocals accompanied by gentle keyboards before Bryan Josh and the rest of the band raised the tempo turning the number into a truly epic piece of music.
Also performed from the new opus, ‘King of the Valley’ a real rocker with a stirring Chorus, ‘The Devil and the Orchestra’ with its touches of Gothic rock and ‘Tennyson Mansion’ for me possibly the strongest number on the album, a truly haunting piece of music full of the explosive emotional clout you expect from this band and Mr Josh's guitar solo is simply a joy to behold.
While of course the band have had to drop some of their older material to make room for the new, they worked their usual set list magic so amongst others we still had all out rocker ‘Dark Before the Dawn’, the sublime ‘Passengers’, the gentle and magical ‘The Last Climb’ and the bands signature tune ‘Evergreen'.
One number making a welcome return to the set was ‘Never the Rainbow’, both an excuse for old rockers like me to shake their head and also of course a show piece for Olivia’s stunning vocal range.
Encores delivered quite a change to proceedings, of course the emotion packed ‘Heroes Never Die’ was present but for a change not as the final number, to finish the evening we had a couple of numbers from the bonus disc of the Special Edition of the new album ‘A Weather For Poets’, the short almost intro like acoustic instrumental ‘The Last Train’ and finally the solid riff laden ‘Tonight’.
Another great Autumn night, a fabulous set list mixing the old and the new, band as always firing on all cylinders and I highly recommend you catch this tour if you can.

Andrew Lock


Acoustic Night
The Black Bull
Godmanchester
30/08/2012

It was great to run into a little live music while I was working away in Godmanchester, the venue was The Black Bull and it seems to have a good name in the area for live music.
The evening I attended was a Thursday acoustic/open mic style evening and featured around half a dozen local artists including Katy Watts, Chris Smith and Alice Brien.
I had seen Katy perform briefly the previous week when I popped into the pub for a short visit with work colleagues and I was impressed with her singing style, stage presence and original compositions.
The pub has a good live vibe and feel to it along with an enthusiastic bunch of live music loving regulars and I very much enjoyed all of acts on my visit, plenty of quality vocals, acoustic guitar, percussion and quality song writing along with a few well performed covers.

Andrew Lock


Cambridge Rock Festival 2012
My Highlights
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

INTRO
Another festival with the odd down pour this year but of course that did not dampen the spirits of the Cambridge faithful, the four days was full to the brim of excellent live acts, some festival regulars, others new to the event, I was also impressed with the decent sized acoustic stage this year. As I walked through the festival entrance it felt like home and I was pleased to be greeted by friends I had made at previous festivals and of course fellow snappers, of course the laid back friendly vibe is what makes this festival so very special, along of course with the always fantastic acts on display, talking of which here are just a few of my personal highlights.

THURSDAY

JOANOVARC - STAGE 2
Boy did this band bring back memories for me, those of a 17/18 year old rocker watching Girlschool rocking my home town theatre on their Demolition tour, they were I believe helped on their way by the legendary Motorhead and this has been nicely turned around with Joanovarc being mentored by Girlschool.
Style wise they are a mix of Girlschool and infamous female rockers The Runaways with lead guitarist Shelly in looks and style a dead ringer for Joan Jett, Sam on bass/lead vocals is a real star and full of confidence up front, rhythm guitarist Laura seems the quiet one of the group but keeps it solid and I have never seen a drummer enjoying playing as much as Debbie, the smile not leaving her face for a second.
The music is a punchy, full of attitude guitar driven mix of heavy metal, punk and rock and roll combining quality original numbers and crowd pleasing covers, band penned ‘Say Sayonara’ a ballsy full on rocker really stood out and of the covers I was particularly impressed with their heavy rock version of Eurythmics pop classic ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)’ and their quality performance of ‘Free Bird’.
An electric set by something lacking on the scene at the moment, a full on female rock outfit.

THE ZZ TOPS – STAGE 1
These guys look and sound like the real thing (even real beards for God's sake!) and they perform ZZ Top tracks taking in the early blues years, the golden mega hit MTV 80’s era and even go bang up to date with material from the forthcoming ZZ Top album.
Headlining the main stage on the Thursday the guys bought a real party atmosphere to the festival whether hitting the blues groove with early classics like ‘Dust My Broom’, ‘Tube Snake Boogie’ and 'La Grange’ or bringing back memories of that car, those girls and the magic keys with ‘Gimme All Your Lovin’, ‘Sharp Dressed Man’ and ‘Legs’.
Show wise they pull all the iconic ZZ Top stage moves and gestures and the fluffy white spinning guitars even made an appearance and just like their musical heroes The ZZ Tops bring a real sense of fun to the stage along with quality musicianship.

FRIDAY

STARS OVER SHADOW – STAGE 2
An impressive new young band playing melodic prog rock with shades of indie now and again, the highlight of the set was the epic brace of 'Secrets, Rumours & Hidden Shadow Parts 1 and 2' with, for me just a touch of Muse these are huge expansive pieces of music, also impressed with ‘Breaking the Bond’, this emotive number started gently but picked up the pace, has a fantastic groove and is an emotive, full of passion piece of work. I also noticed during the set one number had echos of ‘Now I’m Here’ which is not surprising as they mention Queen as being one of the bands main influences.
A lively, fresh sounding band with their own original stamp on progressive rock and on meeting them they turned out to be very enthusiastic and friendly guys.

VIRGIL & THE ACCELERATORS - STAGE 1
This electrifying young blues guitar wizard has been astounding audiences with his prowess for a few years now, joining the bulging ranks of blues talent in this country. Here at Cambridge he blew the crowd away with a set of real power and drive including a pulsating 'Bad Girl' which reminds me of prime ZZ Top blues and a stunning run trough Stevie Ray Vaughn classic 'Scuttle Buttin'. A dynamic set and Virgil's electrifying lead guitar breaks had the crowd smiling in admiration.

HEATHER FINDLAY – STAGE 1
A past CRF regular with Mostly Autumn of course Heather returned to the festival as a solo artist after last years triumphant performance and again wowed the crowd with her professionalism, stage craft and top quality band performing a selection of her solo material and Autumn classics.
The set roared into life with Mostly Autumn rocker ‘Black Rain’ and her many years with that great band were also covered by among others a beautiful ‘Half a World’ and ‘Caught In a Fold’.
A superb ‘Red Dust’ and her solo epic ‘Phoenix’ were both standouts from her debut EP released last year and it goes without saying that Heather looked as stylish, confident and in control on stage as always, equally matched by her outstanding vocals, it was also great to see guitar wizard Dave Kilminster, and ex Autumn favourite Chris Johnson still in her (fantastic) band line up.

SANKARA – STAGE 2
Sankara featuring ex members of both The Reasoning and Blue Horses performed a quality set on the Classic Rock Society sponsored Stage 2, heavy with material from debut album 'Guided By Degrees' including the powerful, anthem like drum and bass heavy ‘In God We Trust’ and the set highlight for me was the gorgeous, uplifting ballad ‘Never Felt So Alive’ a track in the vein of top USA melodic rock bands especially Journey. A quality set by this new band on the scene.

WINTER IN EDEN – STAGE 2
This was possibly the biggest surprise of this year's festival for me with Winter In Eden coming over like our very own version of the European Gothic Symphonic rock style so well portrayed by the likes of Nightwish and Within Temptation.
Full of crunching guitar work and catchy rock melodies they really set the 2nd stage alive, band vocalist Vicky Johnson is a real star, powerful vocals and perfectly theatrical for the style of music while the band rocked up a storm.
Not a weak number in a set with the momentum kept up throughout and highlights included a chilling ‘Suffer In Silence’, ‘What We Leave Behind’ with it's almost Gothic pop/rock sound and the full on power of ‘At the Edge of the World’ .
Fabulous set by a band destined for greatness.

SARAH LOUISE GILES – ACCOUSTIC STAGE
A complete change of pace with this visit to the acoustic stage for part of the set by young singer/guitarist/songwriter Sarah Giles, hailing from the Cambridge area her set had elements of folk with a pop edge and combined impressive self penned numbers with a handful of covers which included a superb take on Ed Sheeran's ‘Lego House’.
Full of confidence at such a young age and she already has her own distinct style.

TYGERS OF PAN TANG - STAGE 1
Once again bringing their high quality, fun filled, full on rock and roll style of New Wave of British Heavy Metal to the main stage the Tygers did not disappoint. They played a non-stop roller coaster of a set full to the brim of good time vibes including blistering versions of ‘Don’t Touch Me There’ and ‘Rock and Roll Man’.
No ballads no drawn out epics just crowd pleasing, dance and smile inducing rock.

FOCUS – STAGE 1
After Winter in Eden and Joanovarc for me the biggest surprise of the weekend was the set by Dutch legends Focus. I was expecting to only take real notice of the fabulous ‘Hokus Pocus’ during their set but how wrong I was, completely original in style, mostly high tempo lively numbers, a variety of weird and wonderful instruments on display and the whole set played with the best good humour possible.
Charismatic band leader Thijs Van Leer had the crowd in the palm of his hand and highlights included ‘Eruption’, ‘Sylvia’ (possibly the bands 2nd most famous number), and as expected of course ‘Hocus Pocus’ was a mad, crazy delight which had the crowd in rapture.
A truly fabulous set and I am hooked, they have made a new fan for sure.

SATURDAY

WILL JOHNS – STAGE 2
My first visit to stage 2 on the Saturday was well timed as self proclaimed CRF virgins Will Johns and his band performed a set of blues/rock excellence.Talking about well timed the slow tempo sizzler ‘It Never Rains’ a blues/jazz number was introduced just as the heavens opened (thankfully CRF stages are under cover), another highlight was a ballsy powerful cover of ‘Need Your Love So Bad’.

STOLEN EARTH – STAGE 1
One of several bands making a return to the festival after playing last year, Stolen Earth with more live shows under their belt and their top quality debut album 'A Far Cry From Home' getting rave reviews improved on their impressive festival appearance in 2011.The bands music for me has touches of folk rock and also has an uplifting positive vibe running through it.
The set included impressive slide guitar during the exquisite ‘Into the Virgin Snow’ and the laid back ‘Siver Skies’ is an absolute gem of a number, beautiful lyrics and a killer chorus this number just flows along.
Lead vocalist Heidi Widdop is yet another in what seems to be an era for top quality female rock vocalist’s (most of whom performed at this very festival) and the whole band contribute to Stolen Earth's distinct sound.

PANIC ROOM – STAGE 1
Led of course by one of the musical treasures of these here lands Anne-Marie Helder Panic Room now with three quality albums under their belt completely owned the main stage with yet another top quality display.
Standouts included a belting ‘Freedom To Breathe’ with Anne-Marie making fun gestures towards the photo pit, the keyboard heavy ‘Screens’ and a superb ‘Chameleon’ both crackers from their excellent new current album 'Skin'.
One of the bands CRF trademarks appears to be Anne-Marie's ever changing stylish head wear which this year happened to be an impressive red Indian headdress,
The usual set of real variety, dark at times with plenty of melody and power, Panic Room are a band climbing high and gaining new fans all the time.

CHANTEL McGREGOR – STAGE 1
There are plenty of impressive young blues artists in this country plying their trade both with scorching shows and excellent albums but none quite like Chantel. She is always so unassuming and humble and appears to be constantly blown away by the crowds response to and appreciation of her performance. However behind this almost shy exterior beats the heart of a true blues artists who performs from the soul, a powerful vocalist electrifying on the guitar and she is simply a human dynamo on stage.
Several tracks from her debut album made the set including the catchy ‘Fabulous’ (the title track) the rocking ‘Freefalling’ and the blues classic ‘Help Me’ complete with an outstanding bass display.
Another highlight was her incendiary version of ‘Voodoo Chile’ which blew the entire audience away, a fantastic set by this ever smiling Goddess of the blues and her two partners in crime.

SUNDAY

MASCHINE – STAGE 1
I was not sure where to start on the final day of the festival but decided to make my way to the main stage to see what was going on and it was a great choice as I witnessed one of the best new bands I have seen. Maschine are a very melodic rock band with outstanding harmony vocals and play light, breezy numbers for me at times in the style of Solstice.
Front man Luke on lead vocals and soaring lead guitar works really well with the female keyboard/vocalist in the harmony department and this was the perfect upbeat way to begin a day of festival music.

MR SO & SO – STAGE 1
This bands' set was one of my highlight performances from last years festival and again they really stood out for me, another upbeat band they brought a breath of fresh air to the main stage. They have just released their latest album Sugarstealer produced by Marillion’s guitar God Steve Rothery (who also provides a guitar solo on one track) and great to see the man himself in the audience supporting the band. They are another band who have a magnificent lady upfront in the ever happy Charlotte, who gave her always bouncy performance.
The new material sounded superb in the live setting especially 'Oh Look! A Rainbow!!' and this was another top set.

TOUCHSTONE – STAGE 1
I was very lucky this year having several of my favourite bands at Cambridge and Touchstone are one of those, a band strong in all departments, musically and lyrically, they also have a fantastic stage craft and fun style all of their own. The awesome, cinematic epic ‘Wintercoast’ started proceedings and the set was full of crackers concentrating particularly on the bands' last two well received albums.
Highlights everywhere and I particularly enjoyed a frantic ‘Zinomorth’, ‘The City Sleeps’ the other epic in the set (also title track of their latest album) and their always fun cover of ‘Mad World’ which had the audience dancing away.
Always a great band to watch in action with the delightful Kim as always charming the audience with her stories, anecdotes and her interactions with the other band members.
One of the sets of the festival as expected.

MOSTLY AUTUMN – STAGE 1
Like last year Mostly Autumn's set begin with an emotional introduction by seriously wounded soldier and huge fan of the band Ben Parkinson, this began with video screen footage of Ben on his leg of the Olympic torch relay and after this moving start Ben made his entrance onto the stage using his new artificial legs and there was not a dry eye in the house.
With Bryan keeping the material from the new album 'The Ghost Moon Orchestra' for the bands upcoming tour, tonight was a set of fan favourites and for me the selection was spot on and although I say this every year, was possibly their best CRF performance to date.
Stirring instrumental ‘Distant train’ opened the set followed by a rocking ‘Answer the Question’, the magnificently grandiose 'Evergreen’ (in a sign of how strong their catalogue is) made an unusually early appearance and went down spectacularly as always.
The bands' previous album 'Go Well Diamond Heart' was represented by a storming ‘Deep In Borrowdale' and the emotional ‘Hold the Sun’. 'The Last Climb’ was as always magical, ‘The Dark Before the Dawn', rocked the hall and the sublime ‘Questioning Eyes’ (originally a Breathing Space number but now firmly a MA live favourite’ ) was a real knockout blow.
As always only one way to finish and all too soon ‘Heroes Never Die’ this time dedicated to much missed Deep Purple keyboard maestro Jon Lord closed proceedings in spectacular style.
I admit I am slightly biased but this band are one of the shining lights of the British music industry and never ever disappoint – they had better be back next year.

SNAKECHARMER – STAGE 1
Last year this band was billed as The Monsters of British Rock but now with the much better moniker of Snakecharmer Micky Moody, Neil Murray, Harry James and co returned to bring back memories of classic blues era Whitesnake and also with a couple of new numbers.
With old rockers in heaven the set included Whitesnake classics ‘Walking In the Shadow of the Blues’, 'Ready an' Willing’, ‘Slow and Easy’, ‘Crying in the Rain' and ‘Here I go Again’.
The crowd choir were in full voice for the magnificent ‘Aint No Love in the heart of the City’ and the new numbers ‘Smoking Gun’ and ‘Accident Prone’ (think that was the title) really impressed and bode well for the bands' future.
There was plenty of spectacular blues guitar including impressive slide work by the fabulous Mr Moody and the band really is full of quality.
Closing number ‘Take Me With You’ was a full on rock juggernaut and a fitting way to close the set and indeed the festival.

IN CLOSING
Another four days of incredible music, meeting old friends and making new ones at surely the best rock festival in the country, next year is the 10th anniversary and I expect something very special indeed and I do not think for a second they will disappoint.

Andrew Lock


The ZZ Tops
Warwick Cavern
9/8/12
(PUBLISHED ON LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER WEB SITE)
First impressions on entering The Warwick Cavern on my first visit were very positive, the venue has a real rock and roll vibe/atmosphere with its intimate basement setting, colourful wall designs of artists from all genres of music, plenty of small tables spread around the room and a spacious semi- circular stage with an added nice touch, two electric guitars stuck to the ceiling above.
I was here to see the fabulous ZZ Top tribute band The ZZ Tops (or as they also bill themselves "that lil' Ol' band from Devon"), exactly one week before I had seen the band go down a storm headlining The Cambridge Rock Festival, at the Cavern obviously a much smaller turn out but they still rocked the room. The band look like the real thing in every sense, Nik Ryan billing himself as Billy Bigguns is a dead ringer for Mr Gibbons, shades, distinctive head wear and beard all spot on, bassist Col Gray (also with superb beard) and drummer Matt Jones also play their characters perfectly. Of course all of this is great but what about the music, no worries there as sound wise it could very easily be the Texas legends themselves as they swept magnificently through a set covering the early blues years and the MTV video assisted chart busters.
Vintage early ZZ Top classics included 'Francene', 'Party on the Patio', the saucy 'A Fool For Your Stockings' and 'Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers', while later material included the famous trio from the huge selling Eliminator album 'Gimme All Your Lovin', 'Sharp Dressed Man' and 'Legs'.
The band showed their knowledge of the ZZ Top catalogue by asking for any requests of which there were several, I was really impressed that they managed a spot on version of my request,one of my particular favourite but not that well know numbers 'She's Just Killing Me'.
As well as being spot on in the musical sense the band pull off all of the signature ZZ Top stage moves including the white fluffy spinning guitar and bass.
Two out and out pure gold classics 'La Grange' and 'Tush', ended a quality set in some style.

Andrew Lock
Verdict - Top band and what looks like a top local venue in the making


Steve Walwyn and Friends
All Saints’ Arts Festival
All Saints’ Church
Sunday 1st July 2012
(PUBLISHED IN LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER)

To close the second All Saints’ Arts Festival in style Steve Walwyn and Friends with very special guests rocked the packed out church in fabulous style, I had already made a visit to the festival on Saturday for the upbeat, colourful, fun filled afternoon performance by The Sambassadors of Groove and their guest dancers and then that evening I returned for a chilled out night of Jazz by The Vintage Jazz Band.
Steve and his bands Sunday evening performance was split into two sets, first half acoustic, second half electric, part one standouts included a spirited version of Canned Heat classic ‘Going up the Country’, and another real highlight with the first special guest of the evening Sue Cleaver joining the band on violin was a rip roaring ‘You Never Can Tell’ the Chuck Berry classic which partly thanks to the movie Pulp Fiction is always a crowd pleaser, so the dance area was well used.
Between the two sets of blues another special guest for the evening took to the stage hailing from Coventry (so almost one of our own) the immensely talented singer/songwriter Kristy Gallacher performing numbers from her recently released album ‘Spinning Plates’ including one of my tracks of the year ‘Fending Off the Frost’, a couple of new numbers and her classy cover of the Bob Dylan penned ‘Don’t Think Twice It's All Right’.
Blues time again with Steve and the boys but this time in full on electric mode and joining the band on stage another special guest, this time from the mega Coventry ska band The Specials Horace Panter on the bass, again plenty of dance action at the front and on the sides of the church as the band stormed through a set including 'No Particular Place To Go' and 'Stagger Lee'.
Steve and his band as always played a blinder, such a top quality outfit and our very own Steve is of course one of the country's finest blues guitarists of which local music fans are rightly very proud.
This was an excellent evening and I hope very much the festival returns next year, all of the people involved artists, church staff and behind the scenes helpers deserve a pat on the back for running such a friendly, well organised event and I love the church being used in this way giving the event and the church itself a real community feel, other attractions at this year’s festival included a Photographic Exhibition, Chamber music and an Organ Recital. .

Andrew Lock
Verdict – The church was rocking


The Firm
The Grist Mill, Leamington Spa
02/06/2012

This was my first look at The Firm, a local band with true pedigree as the line-up includes two members of Chevy and one of The Likely Lads.The bands material is mainly 1960’s covers of the rockier variety with a selection from other decades thrown in, highlights included versions of the Small Faces number ‘All or Nothing’, the Otis Redding classic ‘Too Hard To Handle’ and a rocking ‘Shakin' All Over’, one of the best rock and roll tracks ever released made famous of course by Johnny Kidd and the Pirates.
The band appear very comfortable performing together and play off each other really well, Paul Shanahan's lead guitar work really shone all night, the other Paul in the band Mr Thomas (Peppermint Circus) is a powerful front man and vocalist while you could not ask for a tighter rhythm section than Bob Poole and Martin Burt.
The evening also included away from the 60’s the bands excellent cover of Bob Seger’s ‘Hollywood Nights’(one of my friends and fellow live music fans swears it is better than the original!), and the Bryan Adams penned ‘Summer of '69’ they also managed to get a few people up dancing particularly during the rock and roll numbers like Little Richard’s ‘Lucille’ while the more laid back numbers included ‘Stand By Me’and ‘(If Paradise Is) Half As Nice’.
A very enjoyable night of retro tunes performed by a quality band.

Andrew Lock


The Mosquitos
The Grist Mill
Saturday 26th May 2012

Great to see The Grist Mill back to its very best on the live music front with this the final gig of the year for the fabulous Mosquitos, the last because vocalist/harmonica player Nick Rowbotham is returning to his home in Thailand where he also performs in a blues/rock band (unfortunately a bit of a trek for the Leamington fans!).
The line-up consisted of Nick, twin guitar slingers Steve's Walwyn and Aaron, from Chevy on the drums Ted Duggan and on bass Keith Hancock of The Jay Kay Pees.
Also a special gig this one with a guest appearance by original Mosquito's drummer Andy Bentley for a few numbers.
Chris Wright looked after the sound and possibly made a cameo appearance on bass (not sure, it was that kind of night!).
This was the usual hi-energy, hi intensity performance you expect from the band only more so this being the last for a while and included rockers 'I Can Tell', 'Route 66', 'Brand New Cadillac' and 'Mosquito Blues', with just the one chilled out slow it down interlude being a superb 'I Would Rather Go Blind' with a simply stunning guitar display.
The audience were on fantastic form especially during riotous runs through 'Gloria' and 'Sell My Monkey' and the night ended with Mr Walwyn's showpiece 'Bullfrog Blues' complete with plenty of false endings.
What a magnificent night and Steve Walwyn is back in action with a Steve Walwyn and Friends line-up at this years All Saints' Arts Festival on Sunday July 1st.

Andrew Lock
Verdict - A scorching night of blues/rock


Kristy Gallacher, Minky G and Rosco, Izzy Ferris
The Venew
Wednesday 23rd May 2012

This was the second musical event put on at The Venew by Connection Promotions and like the first it was a value for money three artist line up, this time consisting of young Leamington singer/songwriter Issy Ferris, Australian folk, jazz, pop act Minky G and Rosco and headlining one of the leading lights of the local music scene the exceptionally talented Kristy Gallacher who hails from just up the road In Coventry.
First up this hot, sticky and balmy evening, with summer having (temporarily I am sure!) arrived was bubbly and far too confident for her age hometown songstress Izzy Ferris, her bright and breezy vocals accompanied by her acoustic guitar (and for one number harmonica) work.
There are quite a few female singer/songwriters on the local scene at the moment and Issy is another one with plenty of promise, obviously very comfortable performing and her original compositions including ‘When You Come Home’ written about her relationship with her sister were well written and performed. She also added a few covers to her set including an excellent version of ‘Oh My Sweet Carolina’ the Ryan Adams number and I also loved her idea of putting together a melody of her favourite songs which included a snippet of The Beatles number ‘Twist and Shout’.
Next and up billed as a two piece, Minky G and Rosco from way down-under actually performed as a threesome with the addition of a special guest on stand-up bass and theirs was a very enjoyable, lively set mixing jazz, folk, pop and even blues to great effect. Their part of the evening included cracking covers of the Bill Withers classic ‘Lovely Day’ (very apt!) and after joking that they are often asked because they are Australian if they play any AC/DC (they don't!), instead in tribute to their homeland they gave us a superb version of the Crowded House number ‘Weather With You’.
On the original side I really enjoyed (hope I have the title right!) ‘Grey Skies’ written when they first arrived in the UK.
Plenty of variety in this set including Minky G, swapping her guitar for a ukulele for one number and Rosco showing his prowess on blues guitar on another, this show is part of a UK tour and sure they will go down well wherever they perform.
Headliner time and Kristy began her set with her top class rendition of the Bob Dylan penned ‘Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right’ followed by a magnificent ‘Fending Off the Frost’ in my opinion the best track on her stunning latest album 'Spinning Plates’, the guitar work on this number is fabulous and it just rolls along (always find myself singing along to this one, only not in tune!).
No surprise that plenty of material from her new album aired at this show including the powerful ‘Annie Said’, the uplifting ‘Beautiful Bouquet’ and the last track of the evening (and as perfect for that as it is as album closer) the beautiful and poignant ‘Until then’.
Never tire of seeing Kristy perform, her unique, powerful and emotional vocals combined with sublime guitar work and song writing of such quality, depth, emotion and melody always make for a top gig and she never seems to slow down, constantly gigging and even with the new album still hot off the press she is already adding new material to the live set including the impressive ‘Blood’, loved her comment that after the fun and up-beat previous set she comes on and announces "now for a new sing called Blood ".
The usual high quality performance you can expect from Kristy and you can catch her in action at The All Saints’ Art Festival in Leamington on Sunday 1st July and at this year’s Warwick Folk Festival and I would like to stress that while there are Folk elements to her sound she is simply just one of the best singer/songwriters around.

Andrew Lock
Verdict – Another quality, great value evening of live music.


The Bon Jovi Experience
The Assembly
Saturday 19th May 2012
(PUBLISHED ON THE LEAMINGTON SPA COUREIR WEB SITE)

The Bon Jovi Experience are aptly named as they go all out to reproduce a Bon Jovi gig, going as far as introducing themselves as the real Jovi band members later in the evening.
The stage looked mightily impressive with a huge drum riser draped in the Stars and Stripes flag, the rear wall full of backdrops and racks of guitars on the stage as the guys made their entrance and launched straight into a rousing 'Raise Your Hands', and obvious from the start that as expected the bands ace in the pack is their front man who in looks, voice and audience manipulation is a dead ringer for the real thing.
It would have been very easy to guess most of the evenings set list and that is far from a criticism as everyone I am sure wanted to hear the stadium filling hits and they were all in place including 'You Give Love A Bad Name', 'Born To Be My Baby', a funky 'Keep the Faith' and 'Wanted Dead Or Alive' complete with tonight's Richie on double necked guitar.
Possibly surprise inclusions in the set were going back to the very early years 'Runaway' and Jon Bon Jovi's solo hit 'Blaze of Glory'.
The crowd was one of the best and liveliest I have seen yet at the venue, clapping, singing-a-long and arm waving for practically the whole set, and it was a fantastic turn out with a large percentage of ladies (but then again the girls all love Jon!).
The evening ended with possibly Bon Jovi's most popular and greatest tune 'Livin' On A Prayer', tonight started a capella style before it lifted off into the rocking crowd pleaser we all know and love.
Cover bands are not to everyone's taste but when as much fun and up to the mark as these guys it makes for a great night out.

Andrew Lock

Verdict - A fun, crowd pleasing, feelgood night out.


Altered Images
Leamington Assembly
Saturday May 12th 2012
(PUBLISHED ON LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER WEB SITE)

This was a fun filled gig which took me right back to the 1980's, while usually into rockier material I fell in love with the quirky pop music of Altered Images and of course Claire Grogan herself back in that era.
Before we get onto the fabulous headline set a few words on the evenings support which was Stratford-Upon-Avon based musician Johnny Normal performing with the also superbly named Pshyo Pete, an unusual sound which combined Johnny's Soft Cell, Depeche Mode style synth work with the rock guitar work of Pete, and I particular liked the clever humorous sometimes verging on punk style lyrics, stand out numbers 'How You Destroy Me' and my personal favourite 'Time' with plenty of killer guitar riffing.
An entertaining set and there is another chance to see Johnny in action when he supports Blancmange at the Assembly on Friday 18th May.
Nostalgia time Altered Images style began with Claire making her entrance in one of the most original fashions I have seen, when instead of taking to the stage she made her way to the Assembly floor and went around the audience shaking hands, saying hi and even posing for photos while the Happy Birthday intro rang around the hall, she looked like she was having so much fun already and the gig had not even started.
Claire finally made her way to the stage and she looked spectacular in a full length, glamorous evening dress and she has lost none of her bubbly enthusiasm dancing and moving all set and all over the spacious stage, all the 80's favourites present and correct and the tempo did not fall all set, 'I Could Be Happy', 'See Those Eyes', the far to catchy 'Don't Talk To Me About Love', the punk sounds of 'Insects' and of course 'Happy Birthday', Claire insisted she had to perform the latter but wanted us all to join in.
A couple of well selected covers also made the set, The Supremes classic Baby Love' and a rocking version of Lady Gaga's 'Born This Way', plenty of anecdotes between numbers including the fact that the bands first single 'Dead Pop Stars' also performed in the set was released the same day that John Lennon died and that 'Insects' was a favourite of the late great John Peel.
Her band has changed since the 80's and is now a quality all girl line up while Claire's voice has really stood the test of time and if not quite so hi-pitched (for me she still only missed one note all night) more than makes up for that in extra depth, she looks fabulous, has a powerful stage presence and the audience responded in style giving the whole night a party like atmosphere.
Looked like everyone had an absolute ball, audience and band alike, but none more than Clair, for myself not managing to catch them live back in the day but always being one of my favourite 80's pop acts this was a real treat.

Andrew Lock

Verdict - A fun filled trip back to the 1980's


Record Store Day
Head Records,
The Royal Priors, Leamington Spa
Saturday 21st April 2012
(PUBLISHED IN LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER)

Record Store Day was an outstanding success at Head in the Royal Priors on Saturday 21st April, with music fans flocking to take advantage of the vast amounts of vinyl (currently making a fantastic come back) on sale, to enjoy four fabulous local live acts and to take in the sounds of the vinyl only DJ's between the sets. The event also raised money for Myton Hospice through collection buckets, a cake sale and a music photography raffle.
First of the live performers was singer/songwriter Nina Baker, who has recently moved into the area and she was a real star of the day as she stepped in to perform at short notice after one of the scheduled acts cancelled at short notice, performing on vocals and keyboards she showcased tracks from her Teacup in a Storm EP including the delightfully quirky 'Single Bed' and the beautiful ballad 'When I'm Not With You', a confident stylish set.
Much loved Leamington artist up next Shanade Morrow showcasing songs from her next release including a powerful 'Loved First', Shanade who also played acoustic guitar and had a backing percussionist for several tunes has a powerful, soulful voice and like Nina the previous artist is a top rate song writer.
Next up and just about fitting on the window front stage were Coventry band Charles Dexter Ward and the Imagineers with a rocking set of tunes with touches of blues and county rock and their set included a cracking version of the rare Rolling Stones track 'Sweet Virginia'.
Closing the live music for the day in sensational fashion Leamington based Coves a two piece outfit with a very distinctive indie rock sound, they have recently been signed up by a record label and from this performance that is no surprise, the exquisite lead vocals of Beck Wood mixed with the electrifying guitar work of John Ridgard plus well used samples made for a cracker of a far too short set, they also have a fabulous visual look especially when John has his moments of guitar god mayhem. The band release their debut EP 'Cast a Shadow' in May from which they performed several numbers.
A special mention to all the performers, both live acts and DJ's giving their time up and to all the excellent staff at Head working really hard all day, lets hope for a repeat day next year.


Andrew Lock
Verdict - Fabulous local live music and DJ's raising money for a great cause - Win Win Win


The Mosquitos
The Fox, Leamington Spa
Sunday 8/4/12
(PUBLISHED IN LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER)

This was a steamy, loud, rocking night of red hot rhythm and blues at The Fox by a band I remember seeing in the early 1980's down at Kellys, then one of the towns premier live music venues. It may not have been the exact line up as talking to the band on the night they explained that they had a flexible side at times with whoever was available stepping up to perform on the night.
The Mosquito's played The Fox last year when vocalist/harmonica player Nick Rowbotham who now resides in Thailand made a return visit to Leamington and this gig and a couple of others have been set up to coincide with his return visit this year.
The pub was packed to the rafters for both the chance to see Steve Walwyn of Dr Feelgood fame (and Chevy for some of us) in action but also to see a fabulous blues/rock outfit in its own right fondly remembered by many local music lovers.
The line up for this gig was the twin guitar attack of Steves Walwyn and Aaron, Chris Wright on bass, Rick Medlock on the sticks and up front on vocals, various harmonicas and cool shades the charismatic Mr Rowbotham.
The music suited the atmosphere and hot sultry conditions perfectly, high tempo, high energy scorching blues, two sets made up of classic numbers and a couple of original compositions.
Highlights of the evening included awesome blues work out 'Killing Floor', Dr Feelgood's 'I Can Tell' , a pulsating 'Shake Your Hips' with Mr Walwyn on slide guitar and a special appearance by another much loved local rock and roller Sam Powell on harmonica and vocals.
The evening ended in good natured, boisterous style with the audience in full on dancing mode as firstly a group of backing singers (friends of the band) found their way to the stage area for an explosive 'Gloria' (Van Morrison/Them) followed by a cranked up version of Rory Gallagher's 'Bullfrog Blues' and finally a blistering version of the bands self penned classic 'How Could They Know?'.
A very special evening, live music at it's most ALIVE, crackling with energy, fun and loose but a blues masterclass at the same time.


Andrew Lock


Prita,
Support - Hollie Aires and Chris Tobin
The Venew, Leamington Spa
Leamington Spa
4/4/2012
(PUBLISHED IN LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER)

It gives me great pleasure to be able to say what a delightful musical evening this was at a venue that has had its fair share of problems (they are not alone of course, never an easy thing running live music venues/shows) and this could very well be the start of a run of successful events.
The evening which was put together and compared by Roland Payne (Connection Promotions) consisted of three artists who while all quite different in style gave the evening a Folk theme but with at times the addition of Soul, Hip Hop, Funk, Blues, Country, Boogie Woogie and even traditional Australian music to the mix (not bad for one night of music !).
Considering it was mid-week and the first event Roland has put on at The Venew the turnout was very healthy and the room and stage (as it always has) looked magnificent, bang on time the music started with15 year old Hollie Aires a singer songwriter from Rugby.
Hollie's delicate but crystal clear vocals, excellent guitar work and confident but easy going manner soon charmed the audience and her set mixed strong original material with well-chosen covers. Original numbers included 'Home' a gentle flowing folk number and 'In Disguise' (hope I have the titles right if not apologies !) and her cover of the Nine Inch Nails track ‘Hurt’ (of course also a much loved song because of the Johnny Cash version) was a real showstopper (not a dry eye in the house indeed).
Very much enjoyed Hollie's performance and would certainly like to see her perform again.
From a young artist to (and I hope he will not take offence) a more seasoned performer, Chris Tobin with one of the most fun filled sets I have seen for a while which included plenty of audience participation and a very unusual set list which included Johnny Ray’s ‘Just Walking in the Rain’, rare Bobby Darin B side ‘Jailer Bring Me Water’ and most unusual of all ‘The Trail of the Lonesome Pine’ made famous by Laurel and Hardy. I must also mention his original composition and very moving personal tribute to John Lennon 'Your Life'.
Chris worked the audience exceptionally well, has a warm rich voice, his set was very entertaining and he really got the audience involved (even had a sing-a-long myself).
Headline set time and Prita hailing from Australia gave us a dynamic, full of originality performance covering several genres effectively incorporating live loops (so all of the music produced on the night) which added numerous layers of extra vocals and guitar to some numbers, not used all the time and for some songs we just simply had Prita's gorgeous voice and guitar work flowing over us..
Standout numbers in a set of real quality included the laid back 'Mellow', the haunting rhythmic sounds of the emotional 'Jungandi Wardu' (really moving and obviously about a subject very close to Prita's heart) and making fantastic use of the live loops the funky 'I Got the Fire'.
Of the many different influences to her work the one that stood out for me was Tracy Chapman especially during the powerful 'My Home' her take on the refugee/boat people issues in Australia and the fact that apart from the Aborigines everyone in the country arrived on a boat or plane.
One of the most original pieces of stage craft I have witnessed at a show occurred during this set when Prita invited a member of the audience onto the stage and asked him to say any words he liked into the live loop machine (sure it has a more technical term!) and she would then incorporate the repeating recorded words into a song, she did this twice so we had spontaneous performances on the subjects of "When a man loves a woman" and "Science revision".
What a cracking set to end a fantastic evening of live music I can honestly say I enjoyed every number, a night of such variety of sounds and genres with top musicianship all round, the whole night a complete success and proving what we all know live music is best (if you disagree I am afraid you are wrong).

Andrew Lock


Kristy Gallacher
SPINNING PLATES album launch gig
The Nursery Tavern
Coventry
31/3/2012

An absolute honour to be invited along to this album launch for Kristy’s new album Spinning Plates, the venue was the friendly Nursery Tavern public house in her home city of Coventry, a charming pub with a fantastic selection of real ales.
The back room was packed way before the stated performance time with family, friends and fans, the new CD (fresh of the press) was up for sale, Kristy walked around thanking people for coming along and everyone was set for a good night.
Starting off the music was another young singer songwriter/guitarist,15 year old Sophia Warren who hails from Kenilworth full of confidence at such a young age and her short set included original material and her imaginative take on Blondie’s ‘Sunday Girl’, a talent worth looking out for.
I have been a fan of Kristy’s from the first time I saw her perform which was during The Warwick Folk Festival in 2010, when she performed a lunch time set in the Catalan restaurant in the town, I was immediately impressed with her vocals, guitar work and her well-crafted songs.
Time for Kristy to take the stage (in front of a very stylish black with silver logo back drop) for a very special set treating us to a performance of the new album in its entirety and a couple of encores, the sound quality/acoustics were spot on and for a few numbers she was joined on stage by violinist Lisa Nowak and Dan Gascoigne on guitar/banjo.
While I have loved her previously recorded material she really has hit all the marks with this collection which is simply stunning (full review to follow soon), standouts from the Spinning Plates performance hard to single out as every track a blinder but the re-recorded version of one of her real live classics, the emotionally charged ‘Beautiful Bouquet’ was a delight, as was the uplifting 'Annie Said', the title track itself a beautifully mellow catchy almost jazzy number also really stood out.
The first encore was fan favourite 'Emotional Gun' one of the real gems from her first album and the final track of the night played in tribute to the late local Folk legend Dave Bennet was an up tempo version of Bob Dylan’s Don't Think Twice It's All Right' (love this number and the rare Elvis Presley version particularly), she left the stage to tremendous applause from an audience who knew great music when they heard it.
No time to relax for Kristy who went straight to her CD table for a signing (hopefully also a well deserved glass of wine) and a chat with her friends, family and loyal fans.
A knockout performance from one of the Midlands if not the country’s very best singer/songwriters.
I only really discovered Folk music by photographing the Warwick Folk Festival for the last four years and my appreciation for this genre is growing all the time, but to appreciate Kristy's music you do not really have be into Folk music, just into good music. Kristy's lyrics are clever, contemporary and her vocal delivery is for me fabulously unique, she is also a highly skilled guitarist and ranks for me with the best of the (admittedly very) strong collection of female singer/songwriters at the moment in the UK.

Andrew Lock


The Doors Alive / Voodoo Vegas
The Assembly
Friday 17th February 2012
(PUBLISHED LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER WEB SITE)

Outstanding rock band and regular visitors to Leamington, Bournemouth based Voodoo Vegas got the evening rolling with a set of original catchy rockers including fan favourites 'Mary Jane' and 'So Unkind', a cracking set by a top young British rock band who as always received a fantastic crowd response, and they promised from the stage to visit Leamington for a gig later in the year.
Time next for a jump on the time machine with The Doors Alive, a tribute of course to the legendary Doors, upfront the vocalist looked (including trade mark leather trousers), talked and most importantly sang uncannily like the late great Jim Morrison, he even growled and screamed like the Lizard King himself.
The whole band captured the sound and the look of a Doors gig and with just a little bit of imagination you could easily be transported back to a smoky, sweaty late 60's Doors show.
The set included all the classics you could ask for including epic set opener 'When the Music's Over', an electrifying 'Break on Through', a full of atmosphere 'Riders On the Storm' and a pulsating 'Roadhouse Blues'.
Closing the main set a spin tingling 'L.A. Woman' that had the audience in full on dance mode and as our Jim for the night announced from the stage, there was only one way to end a Doors gig and that was with the dark and brooding 'The End' itself.
The Assembly has a knack of putting on high quality tribute acts and this band were up there with the best of them, and a master stroke getting such a top quality support band in Voodoo Vegas on the bill.

Andrew Lock
Verdict - Voodoo and a Shaman, a magical night


2011



Acoustic Roots
with Matt Hernandez, Kristy Gallacher and Chris Gibbons
The Clarendon, Leamington Spa
Sunday 4th December 2011
(PUBLISHED ON LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER WEB SITE)

Amazingly this was my first visit to The Clarendon for live music but I am pretty sure I will now become a regular visitor, the place has real character and plenty of atmosphere, all in all an ideal live music venue.
One Sunday a month (usually the first Sunday of the month but with New Years Day falling on the 1st - Sun 8th January is the next date) they hold an 'Acoustic Roots' evening with several local artists/performers. For this session host Matt Hernandez kicked things off with a selection of Spanish flamenco/gypsy guitar instrumentals before the first of the featured artists took to the floor.
Coventry based Folk artist (with a contemporary style) Kristy Gallacher is surely one of this areas musical jewels, an exceptional songwriter as well as singer/guitarist and she wowed the main stage at this years Warwick Folk Festival,
Her set included a superb version of her showpiece 'Beautiful Bouquet' as well as a couple of previews from her next album due out early 2012, including her final number the fabulous 'Until Then', the usual impressive set by Kristy who I am sure is destined for big things.
The second feature act of the evening was a rare solo set by local blues singer/guitarist Chris Gibbons who has played with a selection of the biggest names in the music industry, he performed a selection of material from his Blues on the Road album including that albums cracking opening number 'Dustbowl', top quality guitar work and Chris's rich vocals made for an impressive set.
To finish the evening host Matt returned for a couple of numbers one Spanish and a beautiful classical piece, a quality musical evening and I have found another excellent live music venue.


Andrew Lock

Verdict - Top quality music - Top quality venue


For Those About To Rock
Live/Wire and The ZZ Tops
The Assembly
26/11/2011


The regular For Those About To Rock show hit Leamington on Saturday 26th November headlined as always by the fantastic AC/DC tribute band Live/Wire.
A change of opening act this year, last year it was Thin Lizzy tribute Limehouse Lizzy but this year it was Texas style with The ZZ Tops and their authentic ZZ Top show, and these guys really looked the art full (real) beards, the trademark head wear, cheap sunglasses and even at one point fluffy guitars. The set covered the early ZZ Top years including 'Party on the Patio', 'Tush' and 'La Grange' as well as the bands 1980's revival tracks such as 'Gimme All Your Lovin' and 'Sharp Dressed Man', an excellent reproduction of a ZZ Top show.
Live/Wire have been performing their AC/DC tribute for a long time and really have it down to a tee, even with the introduction this year of a new Angus in 17 year old wizz kid Ash who seems to have settled in perfectly.
As usual the headliners set was split into two with the early Bon Scott years represented by amongst others opener 'Live Wire', 'Touch Too Much' and of course 'Whole Lotta Rosie' and the Brian Johnson era including after atmospheric steam train sound effects 'Rock N Roll Train', 'Hell's Bells' and a new addition to the set 'Money Talks'.
Two different vocalists take the roles of the two AC/DC singers and they both took part in the encores which of course climaxed with cannons blazing during 'For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)', ending the evening in explosive style.

Andrew Lock

Verdict - Top draw live entertainment


V8
The Heathcote, Leamington Spa
Saturday 19th November 2011
(PUBLISHED IN LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER)

This was a special show for local rock favourites V8 as it was band front man Dave Cowan’s birthday gig which meant an excellent turnout of family, close friends, V8 fans and Heathcote regulars.
I have seen the band countless times over the years but have never seen them perform better, the band firing on all cylinders rocked through two sets full of rock covers including usual favourites such as Thin Lizzy’s ‘Cold Sweat' and AC/DC classic ‘Sin City’ but also included lesser played material such as ZZ Top’s ‘Tush’, Metallica’s ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’ and if my ears did not deceive me a version of Black Stone Cherry’s ‘White Trash Millionaire’.
The perfect way for a rocker to celebrate a birthday, in a pub, with family and friends and rocking up a storm.

Andrew Lock


Dr Feelgood / Nine Below Zero (SHORT REVIEW)
Leamington Assembly
25/11/11
(PUBLISHED IN LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER)

This was a magical night as Leamington Spa's musical son, lead guitarist extraordinaire Steve Walwyn performed at The Assembly for the first time with his band, blues icons Dr Feelgood.
First on stage another top rock / blues outfit Nine Below Zero who had the packed hall rocking with a set including opener 'Mechanic Man', 'Hootchie Cootchie Coo' and 'Can I Get a Witness', towards the end of the set Steve Walwyn joined the band on stage for a couple of numbers including a pulsating 'Wooly Bully'.
Headliners Dr Feelgood hit the stage firing on all cylinders from the word go and straight into my all time top Feelgood track 'She Does It Right', so much energy in this number, the band could not have chosen a better set list, full of the bands classic numbers and well chosen blues / rock standards.
Feelgood classics included 'Roxette', 'Baby Jane', 'Back in the Night', the bands anthem 'Down at the Doctors' and of course the 1979 hit single 'Milk and Alcohol', while the standards included 'I Can Tell', a show stopping 'Route 66' and Steve's guitar showpiece, Muddy Water's 'Rollin' and Tumblin'.
Before his showpiece number Steve told the fabulous story about his stunning looking metal guitar which was made by a french fan and presented to him because his playing was such an inspiration to this guy, and his explosive axe work on this great old blues number showed why.
The fantastic turnout for this gig really pleased Mr Walwyn and they played an enthusiastic part in the performance, chanting "Steve- O, Steve- O" between numbers and joining in on mass on many of the well known and loved classics.
As mentioned earlier this was a special night and one of the few shows I have attended which really could not have been improved on, a fabulous opening band Nine Below Zero, Feelgood playing a blinder, a perfect set list and a really good sized crowd, also of course the added bonus of this being a show by one of our very own.
All too soon it was encore time, which was a cracker, a mix of the Larry Williams classic 'Bony Maronie' and the equally classic Mexican rock and roll staple 'Tequila' to end a fantastic night in some style.

Andrew Lock


KMFDM
Leamington Assembly
18/11/2011

The theme for the night was rock / metal mixed with dance music style keyboards and samples at times with an industrial feel. On entering the Assembly three piece band Goteki were already on stage, up front the bands face painted lead vocalist dealt with the sparse attendance (mainly because of the bands early start time) with professional good humour. As with the rest of the evenings bill the music is a mix of the fore mentioned styles and standout numbers included 'Shoot Me Dead' and their cover of the Skinny Puppy track 'Assimilate', an impressive start to the evening and for a three piece they had a full on sound.
Next up on stage and a real shock to the system deadfilmstar who had a real character at centre stage in a scary looking vocalist who would make a perfect pantomime villain, dressed all in black, dread locked hair down to his waste,cursing at the audience and throwing water over himself, most of the stage and the front row, this band had a strong Gothic edge to both the music and their overall look, a standout of their set was an impressive inspired take on David Bowie's 'Fashion'.
Italian industrial dance band Army of the Universe next on stage made a big impression on me, the three piece outfit mixed arty dance music with at times crunching heavy metal lead guitar, up front they had a real star in vocalist Lord K, who started the set looking like a stylish Liam Gallagher and who stripped off above the waist a piece of clothing at a time during the set, finishing bare chested by the end of the performance, apart from his showmanship he also had a powerful rich vocal delivery. Davil on lead guitar also impressed me with his old school style rock lead guitar and highlights included latest single 'Goodnite' and a cover of Bjork's 'Army of Me'.
After 10-15 minutes of doom laden intro music droning around the hall it was time for headliners KMFDM to hit the stage and the first thing that struck me was what a colourful, diverse selection of characters make up this band. Centre stage the bands two vocalists (and much more besides) Sashca Konietzko in punk attire and Lucia Cifarelli dressed in striking black and red rubber / leather complete with spiked bra/bodice could easily have stepped out of the Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome movie, the rest of the band including red hot guitarists Jules Hosgson and Steve White while not quite as gloriously outlandish still stylishly attired.
The sound the band produced was one of the loudest/fullest I have heard at the venue and the pace did not drop for the whole set, for me the band at times reminded me of Lucuna Coil with the swapping of main vocal duties between the front two, but with added dance music / techno rhythms, the hypnotic effect of some of the tracks also had for me a touch of Hawkwind / Hawklords.
The headliners set included tracks spanning their 27 year career and started with Sashca at the helm for explosive rocker 'Krank' the bands latest single, taken from the bands latest album WTF? other numbers from the new release included the more dance (still a rocking edge though) orientated 'Amnesia' with lead vocals by Lucia and the powerful dark political number 'Spectre'.
Older material included the frantic pace of 'A Drug Against War' from 1993, 'Attak / Reload' from the 2002 release Attak and from the album of the same name 'WWIII' full of cranked up guitar riffing.
Sashca and Lucia made full use of the stage, Lucia particularly, interacting with the front row to great effect, I had know idea what to expect from KMFDM, but really impressed with their high energy, full on, take no prisoners attitude to their music and performance.

Andrew Lock


Adam Ant
Leamington Assembly
12/11/2011

This was my first gig of the year at The Assembly without a photo pass so really a night off the photo / review game but such a good night I wanted to put together a short write up.
Two excellent, rocking all female support bands got the evening started, Georgie Girl & Her Poussez Posse and Dressing For Pleasure, both bands stylish, full of attitude and both with the punk vibe, the latter’s set included a fabulous take on Zeppelin’s ‘Whole Lotta Love’.
The Assembly must have been at nearly full capacity by the time Adam Ant made his entrance with his The Good the Mad and the Lovely Posse and they delivered a cracking set, no long drawn versions of the hits with endless solos, but a set jam packed with his greatest anthems and early punk releases.
As Adam said from the stage of course he wants to play the hits as he wrote them, and play them he did including ‘Dog eat Dog’, ‘Stand and Deliver’, ‘Prince Charming’ and ‘Puss’n Boots’, earlier material highlights were ‘Naked’, ‘Deutscher Girls’ and ‘Car Trouble’.
Adam himself looked fantastic, voice as good as ever and he was in very confident form chatting to the crowd between numbers.
Adam and his top quality band were rockier, punkeir and much more high energy live than I imagined they would be and the line -up included his traditional two drummers and adding a touch of glamour and fun to proceedings two very attractive backing vocalists/dancers, he gave the crowd a couple of teasers from his next album due out early 2012 and the final track of the night was a rocking cover of the T.Rex classic ‘Get It On’.
A really good night full of energy and excellent music with the crowd also playing their part, joining in on some of the chorus’s and with many sporting Adam Ant style face markings.

Andrew Lock


Steve Walwyn and Friends
The Coventry Arms, Leamington Spa
Friday 28th October - 2011
(PUBLISHED IN LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER)

This was an opportunity to see one of the countries finest blues/rock guitarists Steve Walwyn perform in the intimate surroundings of a Leamington pub, Steve has been lead guitarist of the renowned Dr Feelgood since 1989 and during breaks in their heavy touring schedule, and as he lives locally he likes to get together with local musicians and friends and play low key gigs around Leamington.
Steve's friends at this gig were Craig Rhind and Chas Chaplin two of his band mates from 80's local band The DT's (I remember seeing them play down at Kelly's on many a Monday evening), Steve's regular harmonica player for his pub shows Sam Powell and helping out on lead vocals the sensational Martin Cure, lead vocalist with both Chevy (Steve was also the original lead guitarist with Chevy and also performed in their recent reunion shows) and The Rogues.
The evening was split into two sets, no acoustic numbers, all electric and consisted of traditional blues tracks and a few rock classics, numbers included Howlin' Wolf's 'Killing Floor', a rocking'Watching the River Flow'',The Stevie Ray Vaughan number 'The Sky is Crying' and the Canned Heat classic 'Going down the Country'.
A real fun night of top quality blues/rock, and the next chance to see Steve Walwyn in action locally will be at the Leamington Assembly on Friday 25th November with the mighty Dr Feelgood, also on that bill fellow blues band Nine Below Zero.


Andrew lock


MOSTLY AUTUMN / IT BITES (SHORT REVIEW)
THE ASSEMBLY
26TH OCTOBER 2011
(PUBLISHED IN LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER)

The "I'll Meet You In the Autumn" double headline tour pairs magnificent York based rock band Mostly Autumn with 80's progressive rock/pop giants It Bites, with the bands alternating on who would open and close the shows.
Mostly Autumn who were first up on the Leamington leg of the tour have been regular visitors to the town and this is the bands 6th performance in Leamington, the second at The Assembly, last year at the venue they performed a very special farewell gig for lead vocalist Heather Findlay.
Mostly Autumn opened their set with the dramatic instrumental 'Distant Train', followed by rocker 'Answer the Question'.
Olivia Sparnenn who has been part of the band for many years is now at the helm as lead singer following Heather's departure and has really settled into the role, her high pitch vocal performance towards the end of charging rocker 'Deep in Borrowdale' was spectacular, the band's set also included fan favourites 'Evergreen', the beautiful 'The Last Climb' and the gentle 'Passengers'.
It Bites mixed tracks from their 1980's output with more recent material and highlights included epics 'The Wind that Shakes the Barley' and 'Old Man and the Angel', current single 'Map of the Past' and the catchy pop rock of 'Kiss Like Judas'.
Final number of their set and the evening was their huge 80's hit single 'Calling all the Heroes', to close a cracking evenings entertainment which with two full length sets was also great value for money.

Andrew Lock


G2 (Definitive Genesis)
Leamington Assembly
Thursday 8th September 2011
(PUBLISHED IN LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER)

Hot on the tails of last months Think Floyd show at the same venue this was another superb band paying tribute to a rock giant, this time G2 performing the early years of the rock band Genesis.
As vocalist Terry Day (Phil Collins voice and stage movements spot on) announced from the stage they do not impersonate the look of the individual Genesis members, just concentrate on reproducing the music, which they did in some style.
This was musicianship of the highest order, sound quality first class, fantastic crowd interaction, with the show further enhanced by spectacular use of the venues lighting system and atmospheric swirling dry ice.
No support act just 2 and a half hours of classic Genesis split into two sets, highlights from the first half included show opener ‘Watcher of the Skies’ and a beautiful 'The Cinema Show’.
The second set included my favourite Genesis track the magical ‘Afterglow’ an excellent ‘Your Own Special Way’ and a complete perfectly played performance of the epic ‘Supper's Ready’ (all 20 plus minutes) introduced with great humour as “an easy one”.
This was a true fans set (no easy option of just the hits) and while I was not familiar with all of the numbers performed I thoroughly enjoyed this very professional show from start to finish.

Andrew Lock


Guns 2 Roses
Leamington Assembly
Friday August 19th 2011

Not sure this was the perfect bill for local hard core metal band Gethika who never the less played a set of their trademark brutal rock, this was a different line up to the last time I saw the band perform, previous lead vocalist not present.
As a support to a much heavier band I am sure they would go down very well (as a three band bill for some reason did not think this one worked as well as some), good though to see a local band at the venue.
Next up Evarane a fairly good rock band more in the classic rock style with a charismatic female vocalist, and they impressed me enough to want to see them again in the future.
Guns 2 Roses have two members from the sadly disbanded UK Guns ‘N’ Roses in their line who have rocked the venue twice in 2010, and while they had their moments especially the out and out rockers such as ‘You Could Be Mine’ and ‘Paradise City’ they do not seem to be quite up to the UK’s versions standard.
The short headline set of around 1 hr 10 minutes did not help and for some reason the audience were fairly reserved, but when the band were good they were very good and sure they will settle down with what is a after all a fairly new line up and possibly return to rock The Assembly again..

Andrew Lock


Think Floyd
Leamington Assembly
Thursday 18th August 2011

This was without doubt the best Pink Floyd tribute I have ever seen, and while they do not use the stage gimmicks some of the other bands employ they have got the important things spot on, firstly of course the music and secondly an impressive light show to enhance the performance.
Split into two sets they performed numbers from all stages of Floyd's career, the first half after an atmospheric intro tape started with a fabulous ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’ and also included Division Bell classic ‘Take it Back’, the epic ‘Echoes’ and closed in sing-a-long style with an emotional ‘Wish You Were Here’.
The second set started with a complete performance of the classic album Dark Side of the Moon, played to perfection, particularly impressive a rocking‘Money’ and a spellbinding ‘The Great Gig in the Sky’ which included a spine tingling, powerful vocal performance by the bands outstanding female vocalist, aside from the fantastic Dark Side material another highlight of the second half was a stunning ‘Coming Back to Life’.
Encores included a pounding ‘Run Like Hell’ and complete with the tracks trademark lead guitar work, a magical ‘Comfortably Numb’, this was the kind of performance that gives tribute bands a good name, a musically excellent show by a band who obviously care deeply about the music they perform and have put in a great deal of time getting it just right.

Andrew Lock


THE CAMBRIDGE ROCK FESTIVAL 2011
4TH - 7TH AUGUST
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)


Thursday

THE SKYNYRD EXPERIENCE
Kicking off this years festival on Thursday (traditionally the opening evening includes several rock tribute acts) a midlands based band with their tribute to the kings of southern rock Lynyrd Skynyrd. Their set included authentic versions of 'Gimme Three Steps', ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ and of course the classic ‘Free bird’, an excellent start to the years festival and a well received and performed opening set.

ULTIMATE EAGLES
Another top tribute band and I must say one of the best I have ever seen, this time of course playing the music of the well loved country/rock band The Eagles, a spirited performance which included ‘Witchy Woman’, a fabulous ‘Lyin' Eyes’ and of course ‘Hotel California’ all delivered with top musicianship and outstanding vocal harmonies.

FRED'S HOUSE
My only visit to the second stage on Thursday introduced me to the delightful folk/rock sounds of Fred's House, highlights included an excellent original number which I believe was titled ‘Goodbye Sweet City’ and their jazz/folk take on Michael Jackson's ‘The Way You Make Me Feel’.

THE HAMSTERS
Sadly 2011 is the farewell year for this outstanding as well as hard working blues rock three piece who as always had the audience rocking with their main stage headline performance, as is often the case with this band a Hendrix classic was one of the stand out numbers, this time an explosive ‘Voodoo Chile’ a real showcase for the magnificent lead guitar work of Slim who is surely up there with the finest rock and roll/blues guitarists in the country. Other highlights in this crowd pleasing set included 'Cadiallac Walk' and 'Live and Die Rock and Roll', this band will be very much missed.


FRIDAY

NEURONSPOILER
This band were a real wake up call, opening the main stage at the early hour of 11am with a set of high energy/powerful metal anthems at times in the vein of Iron Maiden including solid rocker ‘Freedom to Fight’ and the excellent 'Dying Worlds'. An excellent old school style rock band with strong material who throw all the rock star poses while having an absolute ball doing so.

HEATHER FINDLAY
One of my sets of the festival this one with ex Mostly Autumn vocalist Heather and her top quality band which included the stunning guitar work of Dave Kilminster (who has recently finished his stint on the Wall Tour with Roger Waters) performing a superb set mixing numbers from Heather's outstanding debut solo EP with classic Mostly Autumn numbers.
The Phoenix Suite EP tracks included the up tempo‘Cellophane’ and a stunning ‘Red Dust’ while her Mostly Autumn years were celebrated by amongst others a lively ‘Caught in a Fold’, the beautiful ‘Blue Light’ and an imaginative take on 'Yellow Time'. Heather and her band on fantastic form and I am convinced she will only go from strength to strength.

JOHN OTWAY BIG BAND
John as always the consummate entertainer had the main stage audience in the palm of his hand with his humorous numbers and mad cap antics, a bouncing ball of energy he jumped and gambolled all over the stage using numerous props in a set that included of course his two hits ‘Really Free’ and ‘Bunsen Burner’, pure fun and smiles all around.

EDDIE & THE HOTRODS
Turning back the years, Eddie and the boys produced a main stage headline set full of energy with a selection of high tempo rock/punk classics including of course the bands anthem and huge hit ‘Do Anything You Want To Do’. Other highlights of the set an excellent ‘The Kids are Alright' and a rocking ‘Once Bitten Twice Shy’.

THE CLAN, MORPHEUS RISING AND PAUL MENEL
The second stage was named The Classic Rock Society Stage on Friday and I was particularly impressed with three of the acts, firstly the three piece power rock outfit The Clan playing a set full of solid rock riffs, the good old British classic rock sounds of Morpheus Rising which included in it's ranks Mostly Autumn’s Andy Smith on bass and lastly the stylish prog set by ex IQ vocalist Paul Menel which included a stunning performance of the epic ‘Human Nature'.


SATURDAY

CHERRY LEE MEWIS
Opening the proceedings on Saturday (the strongest day of the festival) the bright and breezy blues/country/rock and roll sounds of Cherry Lee Mewis, what a performer this girl is with a rich powerful voice as well as excellent stage craft all backed up by a killer band.
Her set included the soulful ‘Midnight in Memphis’, ‘Wade in the Water' with its gospel touches and the groovy upbeat ‘All You Need’.

EBONY TOWER
For me one of the more original bands at the festival and also a band full of visual flair, all of their numbers are based in the world of Alice in Wonderland but with a contemporary touch including ‘White Rabbit’ and ‘Mad Hatter'. Style very much progressive/classic rock with plenty of light and shade and I was very impressed with my first look at this promising band.

STOLEN EARTH
In a brave move this was the first live performance by Stolen Earth a band put together by several members of Breathing Space after the break up of that much loved band. This was a supremely confident set led from the front by vocalist Heidi Widdop full of impressive material including strong opening number 'I live', the excellent 'Silver Skies' and the simply beautiful ‘Tuscany Sky'.

PANIC ROOM
Anne-Marie Helder and band as always delivered a faultless set full of their stylish, powerful and stunningly original rock numbers including the hard hitting ‘Freedom to Breath’, the moody magnificence of ‘Dark Star’ and the truly epic ‘Satellite’, the sky is surely the limit for this so talented group of outstanding musicians.

CHANTEL McGREGOR
Much loved lady of the blues Chantel next with her winning combination of breath taking blues guitar and strong vocal delivery all delivered in her own distinct style. Always humble and modest to a fault she as ever had the audience spellbound with her outstanding talent, particularly impressed with the laid back ‘Daydream’ and her show stopping version of Joe Bonamassa's ‘Sloe Gin’.

LARRY MILLER
One of the best performances of this years festival for me, blues rock of the highest order with the ever smiling Larry playing in front of his huge stack of speaker cabinets (front row must have been fearing for their ears !) one minute and the next running all over the stage belting out his blues.
Highlights included ‘Blues Man’, 'Cruel Old World‘ and a stunning Hendrix combo of ‘Voodoo Chile’ and ‘Star Spangled Banner’.
My personal highlight of an incredible set was the incendiary three part instrumental Led Zeppelin tribute mixing to great effect ‘Whole Lotta Love’, 'Heartbreaker’ and 'Rock and Roll’ , spectacular stuff.

THE QUIREBOYS
Closing the main stage on Saturday the good time sleaze/rock and roll of The Quireboys, they walked on the stage to an intro tape of ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’ then intro tape off they exploded into a live version of this classic number. Spike throwing the mic stand around as always led the band through a rocking set which of course included the mega hit ‘Hey You’, a perfect close to Saturday's proceedings.

SUNDAY

EMPIRE OF FOOLS
Hailing from the counties of Cornwall and Devon, Empire of Fools are a new rock band full of energy and enthusiasm and kicked off proceedings on the main stage on the final day. Their set combined strong original material and well chosen covers, stand out number on the original side fast paced rocker ‘Down To Earth’ and of the covers an excellent ‘Slither’ originally by Velvet Revolver’.

CRIMES OF PASSION
Another set of good old school rock/metal next with Crimes of Passion, led by Dave Lee Roth look alike Dale they rocked and rolled through a set full of head banging anthems including ‘Hell and Back’ and next single ‘Blown Away’. Their set ended in style with a tribute to the late great Ronnie James Dio with the bands version of the awesome ‘Holy Diver’.

CREDO
The excellent progressive rock band Credo, playing for me in the style of early Genesis and Marillion also impressed me with their set which included the epics ‘Staring at the Sun’ and ‘From the Cradle to the Grave’.

MR SO & SO
One of the fun sets of the festival for me and a real breath of fresh air, Mr So & So, a band with a touch of folk rock to their sound, with the charismatic Charlotte front of stage looking like she was having the time of her life. Highlight of the set for me ‘Comp De Grace’ with its Celtic influences.

BEN POOLE
So glad I caught at least some of the set by this outstanding young blues guitarist/vocalist on the second stage, in fact I caught his set half way through his explosive take on ‘Hey Joe’. Ben finished his set in spectacular style walking through the audience then standing on top of the bar counter at the rear of the tent while still playing, showmanship of the highest order.

MOSTLY AUTUMN
Finally in this selection of highlights a band that are in my opinion one of the finest rock bands in the country Mostly Autumn, they have recorded a collection of magnificent albums and have a reputation for cracking live shows that is very much deserved.
This band is full to the brim with talent including band leader and guitarist extraordinaire Bryan Josh and top rock vocalist Olivia Sparnenn leading the front line in some style.
As with last year the band were introduced on stage by seriously injured soldier and Mostly Autumn fan Ben Parkinson this year helping out with the excellent Care For Amputees charity Pilgrims Bandits www.Pilgrimbandits.com.
The set included many of the bands most loved numbers including dramatic set opener ‘Distant Train’ the emotional ‘The Last Climb’ and of course the epic ‘Evergreen’.
The bands outstanding latest album Go Well Diamond Heart was also well represented with amongst others the rocking ‘Deep in Borrowdale’ the beautiful ‘Hold the Sun’ and my personal favourite from the album ‘Ice’.
The number chosen to end another triumphant Cambridge Rock Festival set in style was of course the bands anthem ‘Heroes Never Die’.

In Closing

These are just a few of my highlights of another excellent weekend of rock in Cambridge, my thanks and respects to all the organisers and volunteers, all the fantastic bands and everyone who attended what was again I am sure the friendliest rock festival in the country. Roll on 2012.

Andrew Lock


Cambridge Rock Festival 2011 (4th - 8th August)
Plenty for the Mostly Autumn fan and then some
(PUBLISHED IN AUTUMN LEAVES MAGAZINE)

This year as always a fantastic festival for Mostly Autumn fans with as well as Mostly Autumn's usual Cambridge appearance we were also treated to sets by Heather Findlay, Panic Room and the debut live performance by Stolen Earth.
There were of course many other bands performing at this years festival outside of the MA family so I will start with a few of my other festival highlights.
On the opening Thursday I really enjoyed the Ultimate Eagles, tribute bands are not everybodys' cup of tea but this was one of the highest quality and musicianship, they performed a faultless set of the well loved bands memorable tunes including my own personal favourite 'Lyin Eyes', my other opening day stand out was the main stage headline set during this their farewell tour by the magnificent hard working blues/rock three piece band The Hamsters.
An early start on Friday with a high energy rock/metal set by young band Neuronspoiler really blowing the early cobwebs away from the main stage where later in the day the full of fun, mad cap John Otway as always had the audience in stitches.
Saturday was a day of real quality on the main stage and again started bright and early for me with one of my favourite artists opening proceedings, the blues/country/rock and roll sound of Cherry Lee Mewis and her outstanding band and as always she took control of the stage and the audience with an excellent set including the upbeat 'All You Need' and the soulful 'Midnight in Memphis'.
Next a truly original sounding band, the stylish and full of visual flair Ebony Tower, their clever songs are based on the world of Alice in Wonderland but touch on contemporary issues, titles included the excellent 'White Rabbit'.
My other two stand out performances of the day were both blues acts of the highest order, firstly the incredibly modest and down to earth goddess of the blues guitar Chantel Mcgregor with her usual set of the highest quality classic blues including the slow moving 'Daydream' from her debut album and her show stopping cover of Joe Bonamassa's 'Sloe Gin'. Finally with one of my sets of the festival, the explosive set by possibly the most cheerful upbeat performer in blues rock(should be a contradiction there !) Larry Miller, a human dynamo of a performer playing in front of a huge stack of speaker cabinets, highlights included opener 'Outlaw Blues' and an inspired three part instrumental Led Zeppelin tribute consisting of 'Whole Lotta Love', 'Heartbreaker' and 'Rock and Roll' absolute magic.
Bands that stood out for me on the final day Sunday, the bouncing fun set on the main stage by Mr So & So and yet another hot young British blues artist Ben Poole on the 2nd Stage.



STOLEN EARTH

Like a lot of Autumn Leaves readers I will very much miss Breathing Space, a band who leave behind them three excellent albums, countless classic numbers (some of which bring a tear to my eye thinking that I may never hear them live again) and excellent live shows. On the positive side we now have a band that has risen from the ashes of Breathing Space, Stolen Earth who took the brave step of having their live debut on the Cambridge main stage.
While understandably there are slight echoes of Breathing Space and possibly Mostly Autumn in the bands sound they seem to have a style all of their own, vocalist Heidi Widdop as she proved in her short tenure fronting BS is a talented vocalist with an impressive centre stage presence.
The set opened with rocker 'I live', followed by the more sedate 'Bitterness Fades' other standout numbers included the full of atmosphere 'Silver Skies' and the beautiful and dreamy 'Tuscanny Sun' with some sumptuous lead guitar.
This was a very impressive confident debut performance and as well as Heidi it was fantastic to see ex Breathing Space members Paul, Adam and Barry back on stage and to welcome keyboard player John Sykes to the family.

PANIC ROOM

Highlights of Panic Room's impressive set this year included the powerful and thought provoking 'Freedom to Breath' the laid back 'Sunshine' and the one two punch combination of the closing numbers, the heavy gothic 'Dark Star' and the epic dynamic piece of music that is 'Satellite' a number both powerful and beautiful at the same time, it was also a real treat to hear again the bands inspired completely reworked in their own style cover of Emerson, Lake and Palmer's 'Bitches Crystal'.
A magnificent set by a band strong in all departments with as we all know Anne-Marie one of the most versatile performers around at the helm (no cat mask this year but a stunning red boa to match her outfit), Paul Davies again proving he is a guitarist full of class and style, the always smiling and bouncing Yatim Halimi with his excellent bass work, and one of the best and hardest working drummers around, the magnificent Gavin Griffiths, and last but not least playing top class keysboards as well as sharing main songwriting duties with Anne-Marie, Mr Johnathan Edwards.
Panic Room are a band who seem to improve with every performance and in Satellite still have in my opinion one of the best albums of the last few years so looking forward to album number three.

Heather Findlay

This was my first show by Heather Findlay as a solo artist since her departure from our beloved Mostly Autumn, and after being more than impressed with her Phoenix Suite EP I was really looking forward to her Friday afternoon set on the main stage.
Heather's set as expected included a selection numbers she had writtem while in Mostly Autumn (and one written by Chris Johnson, now a member of her band) as well as numbers from her debut release.
From the magnificent Phoenix Suite the set included top performances of the quirky 'Cellophane', the intense 'Mona Lisa' and powerful rocker 'Red Dust' all sounding every bit as faboulous as on the EP.
Mostly Autumn fans in attendance were completely spoilt during this set and from one of the bands finest albums Passengers were treated to surely one of Heathers finest MA compositions the magical 'Caught in a Fold' always of course a live favourite in her days with the band, and from the Storms Over Still Water release a strong performance of 'Heart Llife'.
Still more to come from Heathers MA days with three visits to the Heart Full of Sky album, Heather's breathtakingly beautiful 'Half a World' the equally beautiful 'Blue Light' written by Chris Johnson and for me possibly his finest composition from his days with Autumn, and closing a triumphant set in spectacular style a total reworking of 'Yellow Time', light and breezy on the album but here rocked up and to my ears included echoes of Iggy Pop's Lust For Life.
A fantastic set by as we all know one of the finest female rock vocalist and writers around, Heather in fine voice, looking very happy, confident and at home on stage as always with a top class band playing alongside her and what quality she has in the lead guitar department with Dave Kilminster who recently finished his Wall duties with Roger Waters, some of his guitar work was just out of this world.
I predict a great future for both Heather and Mostly Autumn, maybe the change has invigorated both and for us the loyal fans we now have even more great music to look forward to from the ever growing Mostly Autumn family.

MOSTLY AUTUMN

As with the bands 2010 festival set Mostly Autumn were again introduced on stage by seriously injured soldier and Mostly Autumn fan Ben Parkinson, this year also helping to promote the excellent care for amputees charity The Pilgrim Bandits (Sunday's Festival charity) - www.pilgrimbandits.com.
An excellent start to proceedings with the atmospheric and haunting instrumental 'Distant Train' with lead vocalist Olivia leaving the boys to shine alone, then as on the Passengers album without a pause for breath it was straight into the full on rock of 'Answer the Question' during which Olivia to great applause took to the stage. Next and very early in the set and surely a contender for their greatest ever number the epic 'Evergreen' which as ever always worked its magic including Bryan's soaring guitar work and Olivia's awesome vocal delivery and for this show it was touchingly dedicated to Heather Findlay and family.
The first of many visits in the set to the excellent latest album Go Well Diamond Heart album next with one of the albums stand out rockers 'Deep in Borrowdale', before a change of pace (but with a similar theme) and back to the bands debut album with the heartfelt 'The Last Climb'.
Next in this as usual perfectly constructed MA set was my personal favourite (both musically and lyrically) from the latest album the full of emotion 'Ice' (noticed the judge dancing away on the side of the stage during this one), before back to hi energy rock with live favourite 'The Dark Before the Dawn'.
The moving 'Hold the Sun' introduced as a story about the beautiful memories of people we love was up next and then for the final run in two absolute cracker's, firstly bringing back memories of Breathing Space that bands award winning 'Questioning Eyes', written of course by Olivia and Iain, the set of course ended as all MA shows really should with the Tour De Force of power and emotion that is 'Heroes Never Die'.
The band as always played a blinder, Bryan Josh simply as good as a guitarist as you will ever see, Olivia perfectly settled in to her lead vocalist role and what a voice and stage presence she truly has, Anne-Marie as always doing about four jobs perfectly including as always excellent flute work and Liam a guitarist of such skill most bands would jump at the chance for him to be their lead axeman. Bass maestro Andy moved around the stage more than I have ever seen him, threw all the rock god poses and kept the rhythm engine room rocking, along with the ever enthusiastic and highly skilled Gavin on drums and last but not least Iain adding his usual layers of keyboard magic.
The usual knockout MA performance and of course a real highlight of another excellent Cambridge Rock Festival, and this was also the release day of the bands latest live album Still Beautiful recorded on the Spring 2011 tour.
Fingers crossed the band reappears at The Cambridge Rock Festival again next year, it would just not be the same without them (a few of the other MA related bands would be great as well).

Andrew Lock


Cambridge Rock Festival 2011
Thursday 4th- Sunday 7th August
A Few of my Highlights
(PUBLISHED IN RECORD COLLECTOR MAGAZINE NOV 2011))

This was my fourth year at this the friendliest of the countries rock festivals, a feast of rock covering all genres with over a hundred bands playing across four stages, a beer festival running in the main stage area and the usual collection of stalls spread around the festival site, including of particular interest to readers of Record Collector several places to pick up rock vinyl.
The festival is run very smoothly by a friendly hard working group of volunteers who do a fantastic job every year.
Musically so many highlights to pick out over the four days, on the opening day Thursday I would like to mention two bands, The Ultimate Eagles one of the finest tribute bands I have seen and top class blues rockers The Hamsters often tagged the hardest working band in the country, unfortunately this is their farewell year, they will be very much missed.
Highlight of Friday and one of my highlights of the festival itself the fantastic, stylish set by ex Mostly Autumn (now solo artist) vocalist Heather Findlay, her band included one Dave Kilminster on lead guitar who has just finished playing the Wall tour with Roger Waters. Must also mention the hilarious set by John Otway performing here with his big band, as always he had the whole audience crying with laughter and is one of this countries real stars.
Saturday was the strongest day of the festival and kicked off for me at 11am with the fabulous blues/country/rock sounds of Cherry Lee Mewis, also very impressed with Ebony Tower, their clever and full of visual flair set of progressive rock songs were based in the world of Alice in Wonderland but touched on contemporary issues.
Saturday also included Stolen Earth choosing the festival for their debut gig and performing with great confidence, this impressive new rock band has risen from the ashes of the popular but now disbanded Breathing Space.
Later in the day Panic Room fronted by Anne-Marie Helder, performed a powerful set with their unique mix of different rock genres.
My other two standout sets on Saturday were both of the blues variety, Chantel McGregor surely one of the most talented as well as humble artists around, she is a young blues guitarist/vocalist of immense power and musical skill, not many performers could follow her outstanding set but luckily we had the equally impressive blues rock of Larry Miller, classy original numbers and his three part Led Zeppelin instrumental had the place rocking and this was another of my sets of the festival.
On Sunday I was very impressed with the feel good, high energy set by Mr So & So and also with my first look at young British blues sensation Ben Poole when I caught part of his dynamic set on the second stage.
My set of the festival was the Sunday evening performance by Mostly Autumn a first class, rocking, full of emotion performance which mixed the bands classics with material from their latest album Go Well Diamond Heart, Cambridge Rock Festival regulars, they like me have a real fondness for this festival.
These are just a few of my highlights from this year but there is only one way to see how fantastic a festival this really is and that of course is to head down to Cambridge in 2012, hopefully see you there.

Andrew Lock


Heather Findlay
Cambridge Rock Festival 2011
Friday 5th August
Main Stage
(EDITED VERSION PUBLISHED ON GET READY TO ROCK WEB SITE)

This was my first live experience of Heather Findlay's new musical project since her departure from Mostly Autumn, and after being very impressed with her debut EP The Phoenix Suite I was really looking forward to her set on the main stage Friday afternoon.
Only having a limited amount of solo material to perform, her set as expected (and of course hoped for) included a number of her Mostly Autumn penned numbers and one written by Chris Johnson, now a member of her band (he also engineered and produced the excellent The Phoenix Suite EP).
From the Phoenix Suite the up-tempo quirky 'Cellophane' sounded fabulous as did the powerful rocker 'Red Dust', visits to her Mostly Autumn years included one of the finest compositions from her years with the band from the Passengers album the magical 'Caught in a Fold' which was always a stand out number live in her days with the band.
We were also treated to a quality threesome of numbers from the Heart Full of Sky album, two breathtakingly beautiful compositions Heather's 'Half a World' and in my opinion Chris Johnson's finest composition from his days with Autumn, the exquisite touchingly gentle 'Blue Light', and finishing the set in spectacular style a complete reworking of 'Yellow Time', light and breezy on the album but here rocked up and to my ears echoes of Iggy Pop's Lust For Life running through it.
A fantastic set by one of the finest female rock vocalist and writers around, Heather in fine voice and as confident and at home on stage as always with a top class band playing with her and what quality in the lead guitar role with Dave Kilminster who has just finished his Wall duties with Roger Waters, some of his guitar work was just out of this world.
I see a big future for both Heather and Mostly Autumn, maybe the change has invigorated both and for fans we now have even more great music to look forward to from the ever growing Mostly Autumn family

Andrew Lock


Panic Room
Cambridge Rock Festival 2011
Saturday 6th August
Main Stage
(EDITED VERSION PUBLISHED ON GET READY TO ROCK WEB SITE)

A welcome return to the festival for Panic Room after their debut Cambridge Rock festival slot last year, led by the magnificent Anne-Marie Helder, they are hard to categorise as their sound touches on various genres of the rock spectrum but the one thing both the bands albums and live performances all have in common is quality.
Their set this year included material from both of their albums (the majority from the excellent Satellite released in 2010), a few new numbers and their inspired completely reworked cover of ELP.S 'Bitches Crystal'. Standout numbers in the set for me, the forceful and thought provoking 'Freedom to Breath' the gentle 'Sunshine' and the one two punch of the closing numbers, the heavy gothic 'Dark Star' and the exceptionally dynamic piece of music that is 'Satellite' both powerful and beautiful at the same time.
A magnificent set by a band strong in all departments with Anne-Marie one of the most versatile performers around, Paul Davies a guitarist full of class and style, the always smiling and bouncing Yatim Halimi with his excellent bass work, and like Anne doubling up as a member of Mostly Autumn one of the best drummers around Gavin Griffiths, and last but not least keyboard wizard and along with Anne-Marie the main songwriter in the band Johnathan Edwards.

Andrew Lock


Stolen Earth
Cambridge Rock Festival 2011
Saturday 6th August
Main Stage
(EDITED VERSION PUBLISHED ON GET READY TO ROCK WEB SITE)

After the demise of Breathing Space it was great to see several of that much missed band back playing together in a new project Stolen Earth, and incredibly this set on the main stage at the festival was their debut gig (no pressure then !!), not that you would know it from their performance.
The band seemed supremely confident in their music and while there are slight echoes of both Breathing Space (quite understandable) and possibly Mostly Autumn they seem to have a style all of their own and in lead vocalist Heidi Widdop have an impressive centre stage presence.
The set opened with lively rocker 'I live', before showing the other side of the band with the slower paced 'Bitterness Fades' other highlights included the atmospheric 'Silver Skies' and the beautiful 'Tuscanny Sun' with some sumptuous lead guitar. Apart from Heidi it was great to see ex Breathing Space members Paul, Adam and Barry back on stage and to welcome keyboard player John Sykes to the family the only one in the band not from the Breathing Space days, another excellent band to keep an eye on.

Andrew Lock


Steve Walwyn and Friends
All Saints' Arts Festival
All Saints' Church, Leamington Spa
Sunday 19th June, 2011
(published Leamington Spa Courier web site)

What a unique way to close the first Leamington All Saints' Arts Festival and after a diverse selection of events over the weekend, Art exhibition, Poetry reading, Jazz dinner dance and various music recitals the festival finished with a bang with a set of rhythm and blues by one of the towns musical gems Steve Walwyn with a little help from his friends.
The Church made a fantastic setting for a rock and roll show with candles all around and subtle stage lighting on the band, also as expected the acoustics were of course first class.
The show by the Dr Feelgood lead guitarist’s local blues outfit Steve Walwyn and Friends was divided in to two sets the first acoustic and the second electric, Steve started the first set on his own with 'Pistol Slapper Blues' and then one by one introduced the other members of the band a track at a time. Other highlights in the first set included the Leadbelly track 'Midnight Special' and the Canned Heat number 'Going Up the Country'.
The second electric set well and truly rocked and included 'Sweet Home Chicago', 'Sell My Monkey' and a real guitar show piece in the Rory Gallagher penned 'Bullfrog Blues'.
I have now seen this band perform a few times and they really are a superb blues outfit, always playing with a smile on their faces and having a really good time, even more so at this very special performance. Many people got up to dance during the evening and the show had a very special atmosphere.
I attended a few of the other Festival events over the weekend and was very impressed with both the organisation and with how friendly everyone involved with the festival was and hope very much they considered it a success.

Andrew Lock


Wharfbam Beer and Music Festival
The Wharf Inn
Fenny Compton
Saturday 18th June, 2011
(published Leamington Spa Courier web site)

The first ever Wharfbam Beer and Music Festival was an eclectic mix of musical acts performing under a marquee in the garden of The Wharf Inn in Fenny Compton to raise money for the Breast Cancer Campaigne and washed down with excellent real ale and cider.
This was a fabulous event and hopefully will become a regular feature of the local music festival calendar.
The day started with the vocal talents of Tracey Coetzee performing a selection of covers from popular female artists including Adele, followed by new Rhythm and Blues outfit The Boat Blues Band who’s set included a rocking ‘Riot in Cell Block No.9’.
A timing change to the program next as V8 originally billed to go on just before the headliners had to perform early due to unavoidable circumstances and as always they rocked the place with rock classics including ‘Ace of Spades’. It was great also to see ex lead guitarist Fred step in for current axeman Mark.
For me the surprise of the day was how much I enjoyed the Lady Gaga tribute, The Gaga a very theatrical set which started with her being carried through the audience onto the stage in a black coffin by some of the punks from the audience and emerging onto a stage full of dramatic dry ice. The audience seemed to really enjoy the performance which was full of the Lady’s hits including ‘Poker Face’ and ‘Bad Romance’, there was one more surprise in store, for the finale flames shot out of a special made bra, pure entertainment.
Time for a bit of punk next firstly a band with plenty of attitude Summat Else who for me have a touch of Sham 69, with a set mixing covers and original material, particularly impressed with 'Working For the Weekend', they also had a number of fans in the crowd so there was plenty of good natured madness with the punks charging and piling onto each other at every opportunity.
A mix of rock and punk up next with The Cookie Monsters, always a solid live band with a superb lead vocalist, their set included a cracking version of The Cult’s ‘Sanctuary'.
Change of genre next with a set by one of my favourite local bands the rock-a-billy sounds of The Scatsville Busters, this was the first time I had seen them play with their new female vocalist who added another dimension to the bands already great sound. The Scatville's set included rock and roll/rock-a-billy classics including the Gene Vincent classic ‘Say Mama’ and numbers that showcased the new vocalist such as ‘These Boots are Made For Walking’.
Two tribute acts finished the day, firstly playing the best of Faith No More, Faith No Man performing powerful faithful versions of the originals and last but by no means least the excellent AC/DC tribute act Whole Lotta DC, no strangers to the area having played the nearby Napton Festival on several occasions. This band are as close to the real thing as you can find and had the marquee rocking with a set including ‘Hells Bells’, ‘High Voltage’ and ‘Highway To Hell’ and the bands very own Angus is a real live wire and pulled off all the trade mark moves.
A fantastic first Wharfbam festival and I think a real success, thanks to all the artists, the Wharf’s management and staff, Dave Cowan festival organiser and to everyone that helped on the day, and also to the good natured enthusiastic music loving audience, I hope very much it returns next year.

Andrew Lock


Morre
The Venew @ Leamington Spa
16th June 2011
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

As part of an acoustic tour of Europe Canadian band Morre payed a visit to Leamington Spa's new live music venue The Venew, and special thanks to The Classic Rock Society who organised the UK leg of the tour.
Morre a three piece band hailing from Toronto throw numerous styles into the mix including splashes of country, Spanish/Mexican, progressive rock, eastern rhythms and rock and roll all delivered alongside fabulous three part vocal harmonies.
Morre consists of two singer/guitarists Adrian Tonceanu and Igor Lazebnik with Tyler Koch on drums and they play off each other extremely well and are outstanding musicians/song writers, at the Venew in spite of a poor turnout they produced an acoustic set of real quality and depth.
The band played two sets and performed a selection of tracks from their first two albums, Out There released in 2010 and Contrast released earlier this year including rocker 'Stray Dogs' the emotional 'I Can't Remember' and the light and breezy 'Times are Changing' as well as a powerful take on David Bowie's 'The Man Who Sold the World'.
Had a chat with the band before and after the show and it would be hard to imagine a more enthusiastic bunch of guys (as well as being extremely friendly) as we discussed the bands music and their influences which included amongst many others Neil Young, Rush and Led Zeppelin, all in all a fantastic band, a great new venue just a shame about the attendance.

Andrew Lock


The Venew @ Leamington Spa
Friday 3rd June, 2011
The show must go on
(published Leamington Spa Courier web site)

I arrived at The Venew hoping to see the advertised Elvis/Neil Diamond tribute show but due to circumstances completely out of the control of The Venew, the scheduled entertainment had to be cancelled, so showing his true professionalism, entertainment manager and fabulous singer/performer in his own right Tim managed with a little help from local 7 year old Elvis tribute artist Little Elvis Sylvain to put on an evenings entertainment free of charge to everybody that turned up.
Tim using a selection of backing tracks performed numbers of many genres, swing, rock and roll, soul and even a touch of disco and the evening included the Dean Martin classic 'Little Old Wine Drinker Me', Van Morrison's 'Moondance', Eddie Cochrans 'C'mon Everybody' and disco time with 'Car Wash' and 'Disco Inferno'.
Tim also threw in a couple of Elvis classics as this was of course originally one of the themes of the evening, including with a little help from the audience 'The Wonder of You', but the main treat for the Elvis fans in attendance was a couple of numbers from local 7 year old Elvis tribute artist Little Elvis Sylvain who recently appeared on televisions Blue Peter. Sylvain dressed in a spectacular white tiger jumpsuit (just like the real thing) took to the stage and throwing all the trademark Elvis poses charmed us all with his performances of 'Trouble' and Elvis's 70's concert version of Chuck Berry's' 'Johnny B. Goode'.
The great old adage of "The Show Must Go On' was definitely in evidence at The Venew.

Andrew Lock


Marillion
Weekend UK 2011
Leamington Assembly
6th - 8th May
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

The opening night set of the The Marillion Weekend UK event (run alongside the bands conventions in Holland and Canada for the first time) was a complete performance of the 1990 album Holidays In Eden, starting with the spine tingling atmospheric 'Splintering Heart', followed by the perfect pop/rock of 'Cover My Eyes'.
Playing this album in its entirety meant that rarely played live Marillion numbers had an airing including the beautifully romantic 'No One Can', 'Dry Land' and the uptempo rocking title track itself.
From this, in my opinion often under rated release other highlights included the epic 'This Town' trilogy and a stunning performance of the emotion filled 'Waiting To Happen', after the album run through they performed two of the album singles B-sides,'How Can It Hurt' and the sinister 'A Collection'.
Fridays encores were fan favourites 'Beautiful' and 'Man of a Thousand Faces' the dance style version of 'Memory of Water' and they closed the opening night of the weekend with the intense 'The Invisible Man', with H suitably dressed for the part.
Saturdays marathon set was an A - Z run through of Marillion numbers, full of many surprises including the blues of 'Born To Run', the rocking 'Under the Sun', a scorching 'The Wound', the up-lifting breezy 'Half the World' and the catchy 'Deserve'.
The Marillion time machine was also in use and we were whisked back through the years for 'Pseudo Silk Kimono', 'Sugar Mice' and 'Jigsaw' (the latter beautifully sang by the audience with Mr Hogarth taking a break).
The evening also included a stunning version of surely one of their finest tracks 'Fantastic Place', the power packed punch of 'King' and along with plenty of crowd interaction, a fun 'Three Minute Boy'.
A little cheating was in order for the letter X with XTC guitarist David Gregory joining the band on stage for a version of 'Senses Working Overtime' and also a little improvisation for Z with a Marillion Zeppelin sandwich consisting of 'Separated Out' wedged between the Led Zeppelin classics 'Black Dog' and 'Kashmir'.
Sunday was another set with a difference, for the majority of the evening the crowd (using a system of waving glow sicks and cheering) choose between two tracks, winners included the emotion packed 'Afraid of Sunlight', a bouncing 'Between You and Me' 'Brave' the title track from the bands1994 concept masterpiece and one of my all time favourites the rarely performed 'One Fine Day' from the This Strange Engine album.
As the response for both 'Out of this World' and 'Estonia' was too close to call we had stunning performances of both, and the weekend ended with four absolute crackers, the magical 'Neverland' (a real showcase for the axe work of Mr Rothery) the epic true story of the sea ‘Ocean Cloud', Steve Hogarth's autobiographical 'This Strange Engine' and finally with the confetti flying 'Happiness Is The Road'.
Three more excellent sets from a band that never disappoints, the band and the fans seemed to enjoy every minute of the weekend, hopefully during future convention years the band will continue to slot in a UK weekend, and as The Leamington Assembly once again proved what a fantastic venue it really is fingers crossed that my home town will again be in the frame.

Andrew Lock


KATIE MELUA
BIRMINGHAM SYMPHONY HALL
27/4/2011

A gig without my camera for a change, to see one of my favourite artists Katie Melua, originally set for last December at the NIA the tour was postponed and when re-arranged the Birmingham show was switched to the Symphony Hall.
Support for the evening came from Jonathan Jeremiah showcasing tracks from his debut album A Solitary Man accompanied by a string duet with Jonathan himself on vocals and acoustic guitar, performing a set of soulful, folky self penned numbers.
A short but impressive set with for me at times a touch of Cat Stevens to Jonathan’s vocals and I was particularly impressed with the title track itself.
The headline set started with Katie singing the opening lines of ‘The Closest Thing To Crazy’ from behind a black curtain, before making her entrance as the curtains opened and walking down a short flight of steps.
After performing the rest of this beautiful opening number her band walked on to the stage to take their places.
From the off Katie’s voice sounded fantastic and she looked fantastic in her choice of attire for the show a stunning slightly Gothic looking short black dress, she also interacted extremely well with her audience throughout the evening.
Katie’s current tour is to promote her latest album The House, another quality collection of material, with at times a slightly darker, rockier edge than her previous releases.
Most of her excellent new album was performed with both the magnificently epic first single ‘The Flood’ and the light bubbly ‘A Happy Place’ enhanced by footage from the accompanying videos (but without Katie as we had the real thing of course) played on the huge screen at the rear of the stage.
Other highlights from her latest work included the exquisite ‘Red Balloons’, a bouncing ‘Tiny Alien’ with amusing and charming space invader video game footage on the screen and the very dark love song ‘I’d Love To Kill You’.
‘The House’ the fabulous title track of the new album was beautifully performed in front of artistic moving images of a Chinese style house seen from all angles.
Plenty of oldies in the set as well including an absolutely wonderful performance of my favourite Katie Melua track ‘If You Were a Sailboat’, this number also just about winning the prize for the best back screen projection with enchanting footage of a sailboat sailing slowly across the screen.
Other back catalogue numbers performed included the heartfelt ‘Call of the Search’, a rocking ‘My Aphrodisiac Is You’, and a powerful performance of ‘Lilac Wine’.
Replacing her usual live cover of Canned Heat's ‘On the Road Again’ was a storming version of the same bands ‘Going up the Country’.
Encore time and first up a performance of her huge hit single ‘Nine Million Bicycles’, and after bows, Katie’s band left the stage to leave her to close the show as she opened it, with a solo performance, this time with the haunting ‘I Cried For You’.
One of the best shows I have had the pleasure of attending, Katie is without doubt one of the most talented performers around, with an exquisite voice, she is also is a fabulous song writer and interpreter of other song writers lyrics.
She also must have one of the best backing bands in the business including the special guitar talents of Luke Potashnick and her long serving drummer Henry Spinetti.
The huge back screens which when not in use had a closed blind effect were put to great use throughout the performance and obviously a great deal of thought had gone into the footage, from the God v the Devil duel during ‘God On Drums, Devil On the Bass’, to the screen filled with red balloons of all sizes, for yes you guessed it ‘Red Balloons’ they really added to this fantastic musical performance.
Very impressed with my first visit to The Symphony Hall as well, stylish, comfortable, excellent sound and helpful staff.
Here’s to the next tour Katie.

Andrew Lock


Chevy
The Assembly
Fri 8th April 2011
(PUBLISHED ON LEAMINGTON COURIER WEB SITE)

Following on from last years triumphant 30 year reunion show at The Royal Spa Centre, local musical heroes Chevy returned to the Leamington stage, this time to play at the fabulous Assembly.
Support for the evening came from the ever popular local blues outfit The Hangover Blues Band fronted by vocalist and harmonica player Sam Powell who as always performed a set of quality traditional blues standards including 'Fannie Mae' and ‘Farther Down the Road’ with Steve Walwyn guesting on a couple of numbers.
As with last years show Chevy’s 1980 album The Taker made up the majority of the set including the storming title track, ‘You Got Me Running’ which opened the set, ‘Sky Bird’ the albums show piece and a frantic ‘Rock On’, numbers not taken from the album performed included the out and out rockers ‘ Fast Car’ and ‘ Rock City’.
I am so pleased that the band reformed for a few shows as I only managed to see one Chevy gig the first time around and they play such a large part in the musical heritage of this town.
So thanks to Martin, Bob, Paul, Steve, Baz and Ted for the gigs and if this was the last Chevy show we will hopefully still see Martin singing with The Rogues, Bob, Baz and Ted rocking it up as The Motorvators (including The Gristmill on Sat 16th April). Steve will be playing with the mighty Dr Feelgood at The Assembly on 25th November and will also be performing with a few friends in a Leamington charity show this summer.

Andrew Lock

Verdict - Rock On, really enjoyed the reunion shows.


VOODOO VEGAS
THE HEATHCOTE INN
SATURDAY 19TH MARCH 2011

Voodoo Vegas returned to the town on Saturday 19th March for a show in a very different setting to their last two visits, swapping the spacious Assembly stage for the more intimate surroundings of the Heathcote Inn.
Hailing from Bournemouth the band have picked up plenty of local support after their two special guest slots to UK Guns 'N' Roses at The Assembly during 2010 and a number of them made it to the Heathcote gig.
The band brought along good friend and talented singer/songwriter Si Genaro with them from the south coast to open proceedings with a collection of original material and well selected covers, originals included the impressive 'Firefly' while for me the standout among the covers an inspired version of Radiohead's 'Creep', his good humour also shone through in a well received set.
Time for the headliners Voodoo Vegas, a tip of mine for big things in 2011, they brought with them an impressive array of equipment and proceeded to rock the joint with their smoking collection of original rocking numbers (cannot wait for the debut studio album hopefully out later this year).
They opened with two out and out rockers, the frantic 'Tied Up' and the heavy riffing of 'Out There' and apart from the one slow number the aptly titled 'The Ballad' (Si joined in on this number) it was rock and roll in the vein of Guns 'N' Roses/Aerosmith for the whole night, including the bands anthem 'Mary Jane' and the 100 miles an hour encore 'Jimmy Silver', they also performed a stunning cover of (I'm a) Roadrunner.
The band put everything as always into the show, Lawrence is up their with the best front men around and a real showman, the powerful twin guitar attack of Meryl and Nick, and the solid rhythm section of Ash and Martin, thanks to all the band for popping back to Leamington to entertain us.

Verdict - Explosive rock at its very best

Andrew Lock


Steve Lukather
Leamington Assembly
Thursday 17th March 2011
(ABRIDGED VERSION ON GRTR WEB SITE)

This was the opening night of a short three date only UK tour for the superb guitarist/vocalist, founder member of the legendary AOR rock band Toto and renowned session musician Steve Lukather.
Performing alongside him on this tour a top notch 3 piece band consisting of a powerhouse drummer, a stylish lady bass player and a keyboard wizard.
Fairly early on in the set Steve touched on the subject of Toto and expressed his feelings that as he still tours with the other members of the band, playing all the hits, he did not want his own shows to be in his own words “Toto Karaoke”, and as disappointing as this may be for some I could very much understand and respect his decision, and he sure had a wealth of strong material to fill an outstanding set and he did perform the excellent Toto number 'Extinction Blues', fairly early on.
Steve’s latest solo album All's Well That Ends Well was strongly represented with tracks including the opening number the epic 'Darkness In My World' which is also the albums opening track,two driving rockers in 'Can't Look Back' and 'Flash In the Pan' and the gritty dark blues of 'Brody's'.
We had an emotional tribute to the sadly missed Gary Moore with anecdotes from Steve and he dedicated the Jimi Hendrix number 'Up From the Skies' to him, he also paid tribute to another of his musical heroes George Harrison later in the set, with a sublime version of ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ with the bass guitarist taking the lead vocals.
This really was an evening of various musical styles, of course predominantly AOR Rock but also we had touches of blues, funk and jazz rock during the performance.
Steve also visited his earlier solo material including the funk filled 'Stab in the Back' from the Ever Changing Times album and for me one of the evenings highlights was his breath taking instrumental version of the Hendrix classic ‘Little Wing’.
Steve really pulls all the guitar hero tricks out of the bag, string bending, tapping, tremolo work, soloing at the edge of the stage and at times he made the guitar literally talk, he is up their with the best technical guitar players I have had the pleasure of seeing but he also plays with plenty of heart and soul.
I am sure it would never come to it but if Steve Lukathar ever decided to give up music he would make one hell of an inspirational speaker, his honest and heartfelt tales of coming through a bad recent bad spell and his realisations of the things that are important in life were special moments in the evening, he really did come across as one of music’s good guys.
The final number saw Steve take to the stage alone with an acoustic guitar for a moving solo performance of 'The Road Goes On' with the crowd not for the first time in the evening joining in and this ended another fantastic night of top quality entertainment at The Assembly, a venue that really flies the flag for live rock music.

Andrew Lock


The Launch Party
The Venew @ Leamington Spa
Friday 11th March 2011
(PUBLISHED IN LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER)

The Venew is a stylish entertainment venue and it looked magnificent for this the launch party, with a glitter ball throwing beads of light over the ceilings and walls, candles on the tables and looking to me very much in the vein of a cabaret club.
The launch night was a free event but you needed to sign up to be on the guest list, those that did had a fabulous evening of top entertainment starting before the main event with close up magician Magic Rich walking around the tables amazing the patrons with his close up magic tricks.
The music for this opening party was supplied by Tim Laws and the Town Talkers, Tim is also the charismatic entertainment manager of the Venew as well as an accomplished vocalist and entertainer and to start the main entertainment of the evening we had a quintet of young musicians from The Town Talkers band playing a selection of jazz/funk instrumental pieces full of solos and improvisation.
After a short break the stage was filled for the headline set with a 9 piece band, 2 sax players, trumpet, trombone, guitar, keyboards, stand up bass, drums and of course Tim on vocals for a first set full of classic swing and soul tunes including stylish versions of Van Morrison's 'Moondance' and the Ray Charles classic 'Georgia on my Mind'.
Two numbers that stood out for me in the first half, the bands very different version of The Eagles 'Desperado' and to quote Tim "a more dramatic" take on the Frank Sinatra hit 'My Funny Valentine", I thought I could hear elements of the great Billy Fury's dramatic ballads during this performance.
After another short break the band returned with a more rocking set of uptempo soul, Motown and rock n' roll, including 'In the Midnight hour, 'I feel Good', 'Soul Man' and on the rock and roll side 'Blue Suede Shoes' and 'Great Balls of Fire'.
We also had plenty of fun and games during the evening with Tim at one point having a gentleman up on stage to recite very difficult tongue twisters, if he succeeded the audience all had a free drink, of course with hilarious results he failed but was a sporting gent, towards the end of the evening Tim also had a collection of audience members up on stage as backing dancers, also great fun.
There was a good turnout on the evening, plenty of dance floor action and if this is the quality of the entertainment to look forward to at The Venew then we have another entertainment venue to be proud of.

Verdict - Top quality launch of a new venue

Andrew Lock


V8
The Exchange, Leamington Spa
Sat March 5th 2011
(PUBLISHED IN LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER)

This was my first visit to The Exchange for live music and found it to be a welcome addition to the collection of live music venues in the town.
The pub has a good sized stage at one end of the room and with the tables and chairs moved around there is a decent amount of space available in front of the stage to view the performance as well as seating available further back.
The band for my first visit, one of my favourite local bands V8, a rock covers band who never disappoint and this gig was no exception with the band blasting through a collection of rock classics made famous by the likes of AC/DC, Metallica, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest and Rage Against the Machine. Personally I was treated to my favourite V8 cover Cold Sweat a track from the final Thin Lizzy album, which has recently been reintroduced into the set.
The Exchange have live music most Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings of all styles including rock, punk, indie and Folk and V8 regularly perform in various venues in Leamington.

Verdict – Impressive venue and V8 rocking as always.

Andrew Lock


Steve Walwyn and Friends
The Red House, Leamington Spa
Sunday 27th February 2011
(PUBLISHED ON LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER WEB SITE)

The Red House on Radford Road was the intimate setting for a special performance by one of Leamington’s leading musicians, Dr Feelgood and Chevy lead guitarist Steve Walwyn, the gig was arranged as a leaving party for the landlady of this popular public house who was at school with Steve.
Steve was performing a set of blues standards with members of the high quality local blues outfit The Hangover Blues Band, and they were billed as Steve Walywn and Friends.
Split into two sets with Steve on guitar and lead vocals the evening began with Mr Walwyn sat on a stool with an acoustic guitar and performing the likes of Lead Belly’s 'Midnight Special' before changing to the fender and then treating the packed room to an evening of full on electric blues including 'The Sky is Crying' by Elmore James, also famously performed by Stevie Ray Vaughan.
This was an evening of blues magic with a masterclass of blues guitar(of course), Sam Powell, as ever a maestro on harmonica and Chris and Kelvin from the Hangovers all on top form.
Of the many other delights for the blues aficionados in the audience, particular standouts for me a rocking Chuck Berry’s ‘No Particular Place To Go’, the classic ‘Route 66’ and the Canned Heat gem 'Going up the Country'. Steve also performed his own composition 'Sweet Louise' an impressive soft rock and roll/blues number for the first time live and introduced many of the evenings numbers with anecdotes of the original performers some of which he had performed and shared bills with, there were also special guest spots including the bass player of Steve’s first ever band.
A very entertaining evening and Steve and Friends will also be performing at The Coventry Arms on Friday March 4th as well as headlining a local charity event this summer.

Verdict – Blues at it’s very best

Andrew Lock


10cc
The Assembly
Leamington Spa
22nd February 2011
(PUBLISHED ON COURIER WEB SITE)

10cc are one of the biggest bands to play The Assembly and they arrived in town on Tuesday 22nd February to perform a show full of professionalism, musical talent and memorable songs. As an appetiser for the main set founder member Graham Gouldman performed an acoustic set of hits he has composed for other artists, with various members of 10cc joining him on stage.
Highlights in this high quality collection included 'Heart Full of Soul' a track he penned for The Yardbirds and 'Bus Stop' made famous by The Hollies, as would be the case with the 10cc set to follow the vocal harmonies were stunning.
After such a strong opening selection the anticipation in the room was immense as the lights dimmed and on walked one of the top bands in the business 10cc to open the main set with one of their many huge hits 'The Wall Street Shuffle' and the classics hardly stopped flowing all night and was followed by the perfect pop of 'The Things We Do For Love' and a rocking 'Good Morning Judge'.
The rest of the set included yet more huge selling singles including 'Art For Art's Sake', the multi-layered 'I'm Mandy Fly Me' the bands first hit single, the 1950's style 'Donna' and of course the beautiful 'I'm Not In Love'.
Apart from the hits they also performed some of their greatest album numbers including 'From Rochdale to Ocho Rios' and one of my favourite 10cc tracks 'Old Wild Men', but it was back to the hits to finish the main set with the reggae beat of 'Dreadlock Holiday' along with plenty of audience participation.
Encore time and first a touching tribute to John Lennon with a superb version of the Beatles classic 'Across the Universe', and to finish the evening in rocking style and with everyone on their feet, a bouncing 'Rubber Bullets'.
Make no mistake about it musical nights do not come any better than this, a superbly talented group of musicians playing at the top of their game and with a collection of solid gold hits to match.

Verdict - Stunning performance

Andrew Lock


The Paris 1940s
The Windsor Club, Leamington Spa
Friday 4th February 2011
(PUBLISHED IN LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER)

The gig was in the basement room of the Windsor Club on Warwick Street, and was the perfect scene for an evening of Jazz (but with a unique twist), with its subtle lighting including strings of icicle lights, it really makes for an atmospheric venue.
The Paris 1940s, named after the start of the European Jazz scene are a 5 piece band, vocals, guitar, stand up double bass, drums and one of the band doubling up on keyboards and sax, two of the band hail from Leamington and they are all graduates of the Birmingham Conservatoire. Their musical style is hard to completely pigeonhole but for me they play Jazz blended with indie, rock, funk with a pinch of the Frank Sinatra and Bobby Darin big band swing sound thrown in the mix, which all combines into a very original sound which has already gained them fantastic reviews and responses from around the country.
The set began with a superb reworking of Oasis's 'Wonderwall', I had the pleasure of seeing vocalist Tom perform this number as a solo peice last year at a local Open Mic evening and it is a refreshingly original take on a modern rock classic, this was followed by the smooth jazz of the bands version of Ellie Gouldings 'Starry Eyed'.
The talent and professionalism of the whole band shone through all evening with the sensational vocal style of Tom Kirkpatrick, the smouldering guitar work of Joe Archer often playing off the pumping double bass playing of Martyn Spencer who along with Jim Bashford (perfect name or what!) on drums kept great rhythm and last but not least Harry Lightfoot shining on both keyboards and exceptional saxophone playing.
Among the other musical delights on offer we had an impressive original number which I think was titled 'Primrose Hill', a foot tapping take on Estelles 'American Boy' and a real treat for the rocker in me a 100 miles and hour jazzed up version of Motorheads 'Ace of Spades' of which I think Lemmy would surely approve.
I am sure this band has a big future ahead of them, they have their own unique brand of Jazz played with such style and musical prowess, each of the performers a master of their particular instrument and The Windsor Club was standing room only which could soon be a regular event around the country.

Verdict - Original and breathtakingly good.

Andrew Lock


Gazpacho
The Leamington Assembly
Sat 29th January 2011
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

I first experienced the music of Gazpacho when they played at the Marillion Convention in 2002, I also remember a moving performance by the bands vocalist Jan Henrik Ohme in the "Play with the Band" section at one Marillion convention where he replaced vocalist Steve Hogarth on a version of 'Afraid of Sunlight'. Jan had been at the bar on the convention site after the main evening shows singing his head off with the rest of the late night convention party animals (including myself) until around 5am the day of his performance (mostly on repeated takes of The Beatles classic' Hey Jude'), and his voice was rather croaky which just added to the emotion of the track.
Gazpacho hail from Norway and are a stylish, artistic, progressive rock band, for me very much in the vein of Muse with occasional touches of Hogarth era Marillion and Radiohead, the current tour is in in support of the bands latest album Missa Atropos a concept album with an overriding theme of solitude which has received excellent reviews in the rock press and is full of powerful, emotive, multi-layered pieces of music, surely the highlight of their recording career so far.
The show started with a selection of material from the new album and first up after the atmospheric into tape the rocking 'Defense Mechanism' followed by two slower more delicate numbers 'Snail' and 'Vera' and finally the complex 'River', another stand out track performed from the new album during the set, the epic 'Splendid Isolation'.
The band also visited their back catalogue and stand outs included the title track from the 2009 album 'Tick Tock' (again a concept album, this time on the subject of a long distance record attempt) another of the bands epic pieces with the sound of a ticking clock throughout only adding to the atmosphere of the music and from the same album they also performed 'The 'Walk'.
Gazpacho can switch between heavy guitar driven rock and mellow subtle moments with absolute ease, vocalist Jan has a distinctive voice full of emotion, Jon-Arne Vilbo is a guitarist of real ability and in a band full of talent a special mention for Mikael Kromer alternating between violin and mandolin.
This show had a very artistic look, the music enhanced by a huge back screen showing constantly changing still images and video footage to tie in with the themes of the music, the whole band played a part in an excellent performance and hopefully with the positive reaction to the Missa Atropos album and performances like this one they will increase their following in the UK.
They are also really friendly laid back guys and came out to spend plenty of time chatting with the fans after the show, always a big plus in my book.

Andrew Lock


Gazpacho
The Assembly
Sat 29th January 2011
(PUBLISHED IN LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER)

This was only my second Gazpacho show having seen the band previously play a support set at the Marillion convention in 2002. Hailing from Norway, Gazpacho are a six piece, stylish, modern sounding progressive rock band for me in the vein of Muse with certain members of the band influenced by Talk Talk and Marillion. The show had a very artistic look with the music enhanced by a huge back screen showing ever changing still images and video footage to tie in with the themes of the music.
The music itself was multi-layered with plenty of light and shade (as good prog should have) switching between heavy guitar driven rock to mellow subtle moments with ease, vocalist Jan Henrik Ohme has a magnificent voice full of emotion, Jon-Arne Vilbo is a guitarist of real ability and giving the band a distinctive sound they have Mikael Kromer alternating between violin and mandolin.
The set was weighted heavily with material from the bands latest album Missa Atropos - a powerful concept album with a theme of solitude, including set opener the rocking 'Defense Mechanism' and the more delicate 'Snail', they also visited their back catalogue and highlights included two numbers from their 2009 album Tick Tock the epic title track and 'The Walk'.
Gazpacho deserved a far bigger audience than the one that made it to the venue on Saturday but those in attendance were enthusiastic, joined in at every opportunity and had a great evening, hopefully in the future their exposure in this country will rise.

Andrew Lock

Verdict - A night of exceptional quality and musicianship.


2010



V8 Xmas Gig
19th December 2010
The Windmill
Tachbrook Road, Leamington Spa
Leamington Spa
(PUBLISHED IN LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER)

This years V8 Xmas gig took place at the Windmill on Tachbrook road and as expected the extreme weather did have an effect on the turn out, but a few of the hard core following the band have built up over many years managed to trek their way to the venue.
As always with this band you get what you expect, loud, well played rock covers and plenty of fun, tonight was my first V8 gig since the departure of guitar wizard Fred but as always they have a smoking frets man in the band with Mark Patton, a previous member of the band.
The night consisted of two sets and with a change of line-up we also had a few different numbers in the set, highlights in the first half included old favourites Breaking the Law , Man in the Box and Sin City, but for me the standout was their fabulous cover of Thin Lizzy's Cold Sweat, a track not played since Mark's earlier spell with the band. Another new V8 number for me in the first half a doom laden version of Metallica's For Whom the Bell Tolls.
Second half had the head bangers shaking their heads at the front as the real heavy guns of the night were played including Killing in the Name of, Enter Sandman and Pantera's Walk.
Another rocking V8 gig and good news that the band are now in the studio recording some of their numbers.

Verdict - Still firing on all cylinders

Andrew Lock


The Hamsters - Jimi Hendrix 40th Anniversary Memorial Show
Leamington Assembly
Thursday 16th December 2010

The Hamsters possibly one of the hardest working bands in the business brought their famous Jimi Hendrix tribute set to The Assembly as part of the bands 40th Anniversary Memorial Tour, performing as well as Jimi's more well known numbers, rarer album tracks and covers that he performed in concert.
The evening was split into two sets and the show started with Howlin Wolf's Killing Floor followed by classics Are You Experienced, Fire, and The Wind Cries Mary followed by a version of Jimi's lesser known tribute to Bob Dylan Highway Child.
From the album Jimi was working on at the time of his death First Rays of the New Rising Sun we next had a track written about one of his girlfriends Izabella, other highlights of the first half a stunning The Wind Cries Mary, a jazzy Manic Depression, a funky Burning of the Midnight Lamp and a rocking Foxy Lady.
After a short break the second set began with Stone Free which included plenty of extended lead solos by extraordinary guitarist Slim who along with the other two members of the band, on bass Zsa Zsa and on the sticks Rev.Otis had the Assembly rocking all night and thier love for Jimi and his music shone through all evening.
Other highlights of set two included another track often performed live by Jimi, Earl King's Let the Good Times Roll, If 6 Was 9 one of the stand outs from Easy Rider, the spine tingling Voodoo Child (Slight Return), a change of pace with the gentle Little Wing, a Slim showpiece with Star Spangled Banner and a crowd sing-a-long during The Troggs number Wild Thing.
The show ended in style with two absolute classics Purple Haze and All Along the Watchtower and for the encore, apt for a Xmas gig a beautiful Angel.
A great nights music by three top draw musicians in front of a another good sized Assembly crowd, The Hamsters are really a British music institution loved by most of the rock and blues fans in the country and another band I would love see return to the venue.
Andrew Lock


Touchstone / Panic Room
The Robin 2
Bilston
12th December 2010
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

This was a fantastic value for money double header by two of the most promising live rock bands in the country, both with recently released stunning albums under their belts.
First on stage the always impressive Panic Room, and it was great to see Anne-Marie just about recovered from her arm injury, she mentioned that this was her first gig playing the guitar since the accident.
Starting with the opening track from the album Satellite the rocking Freedom to Breathe they performed more of a very special guest role rather than the support set I expected.
The band had asked for suggestions of songs to play at this gig on the bands web site and two of the most requested numbers happened to be in my opinion the best two tracks on the Satellite release, the powerful Dark Star and the beautiful tug at the heart strings that is The Fall.
The band also visited their debut album Visionary Position during the set including that albums opening track, the contemporary sounding Elektra City and the mellow beauty of Firefly.
They also gave another airing to their inspired ELP cover Bitches Crystal and for the final number Anne-Marie filled the Robin with Christmas spirit with a goose bump inducing version of a seasonal number that I think was titled O Holy Night.
Another excellent Panic Room set, and special mention to the bands charismatic bass player Yatim, a real character bouncing all over the stage (and off it at one point) as well as a fantastic musician.
Only a good band could follow Panic Rooms set, and luckily we had a great band. Touchstone and Panic Room to me have a lot in common they have both followed very good albums, Visionary Position (Panic Room), Discordant Dreams (Touchstone) with stunning follow up releases Satellite and Wintercoast respectively, both bands improve all the time as live acts and of course also have two of the best female vocalists in the rock field with Anne-Marie Helder and Kim Seviour.
The Touchstone set began with Prelude, from the Wintercoast album, then they launched into the heavy brooding album title track, a cracking piece of music and a live classic already followed by a trip to the previous album with the fast paced Shadow with its great hook and guitar riff, next back to the latest album with the first part of the epic The Witness and then one of the many highlights from the same release, the catchy Joker in the Pack.
The set was a good mix from the bands last two albums and five of the next six numbers were from Discordant Dreams, a track not performed for a while the pop-rock of See The light, a powerful Blacktide, the moving Dignity, the rocking title track itself and The Beggar's song.
Mixed in with the last set of numbers a real surprise and also a great early Xmas present, a taster for the upcoming new album titled Throw Them to the sky, an awesome track and if anything to go by I cannot wait for the release date as it seems they will be following Wintercoast in some style.
Encore time and first up the frantic Strange Days with plenty of hands in the air clapping along and to end this Xmas party in style a fun version of Greg Lake's I believe in Father Christmas.
One thing I did notice firstly at Winters End and again at this gig, is that I don't think any band I have seen interact in such a fun way with each other as Touchstone, it is so obvious how comfortable they are both artistically and personally as a unit.
This was one of my last shows of 2011 and I can honestly say it was one of the best double headers I have ever seen, pure quality from start to finish by two bands that deserve to be huge in the rock scene, and in front of a big crowd already in a Xmas mood enhanced by the Santa Hats given away on entry to the venue.

Andrew Lock


Steve Hackett
Leamington Assembly
Sunday 21st November 2010
(PUBLISHED IN LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER)

This was Steve Hackett's second show at the Assembly and is in support of the ex - Genesis guitarist latest album, the very well received Out of the Tunnel's Mouth.
The intro music was of atmospheric eastern style including haunting pipes and this eastern theme was kept for the opening number Valley of the Kings an instrumental with its origins in Peter Gabriel era Genesis and slightly reminiscent of Led Zeppelin's Kashmir.
The set included a good selection from his current album including the gentle beauty of Emerald and Ash, the blues work out of Still Waters, the melodic Sleepers and the out and out rock of Tubehead which began with fantastic guitar bow work by Mr Hackett.
Highlights from his other solo works performed included the dramatic The Golden Age of Steam with its lyrics set during the second world war and the journey back to his first solo album from 1975 for the lively Ace of Wands.
Treats of course for the Genesis fans in the audience and these included a sublime Carpet Crawlers with plenty of audience participation, and from the Selling England by the Pound album a majestic Firth of Fifth.
The superb guitar work of Steve Hackett is truly something to behold and this along with his easy going stage manner, a top draw band of excellent musicians which included the talented guitarist/vocalist Amanda Lehmann and excellent drummer/vocalist Gary O'Toole, both performing backing and lead vocals during the set made this a night to remember.
A special mention also to multi instrumentalist Rob Townsend playing almost an entire orchestra of instruments, including some stunning saxophone and also the other two members of the band, on bass Nick Beggs and keyboards Roger King, hats off also to the Assembly for possibly the best lighting display I have seen at the venue.

Andrew Lock

Verdict - Guitar Heaven


FUNKY SOCKS / The KING HENRY VIII BIG BAND
Leam Jazz
Leamington Rugby Club
Wednesday 17th November 2010
(PUBLISHED IN LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER)

The Leam Jazz club was formed in September 2009 by a group of friends taking part in a Jazz evening class, they meet at The Leamington Rugby Club on the middle Wednesday of every month, putting on shows by local and national performers.
Both of the acts on this evening, playing in front of a good sized audience were made up of pupils from King Henry VIII School in Coventry and aged between 13 and 18, first up a Jazz Funk band called Funky Socks a 10 piece outfit made up of sax, trumpet, flute, keyboards, drums, lead guitar and bass, under the guidance of musical director and teacher Holly Jones, their set was made up mostly of Holly's original compositions and two inspired covers.
The original numbers included the up-tempo Too Hot and Inner City with my favourite being the slower funk sound of Midnight, the covers were both Rage Against the Machine tracks Wake Up and Killing in the Name of and they really showed off the bands superb lead guitarist. A very competent fun band getting the evening off to a good start.
In no time at all most of the members of Funky Socks had been joined by other pupils and we had a 25 piece Jazz band to entertain us, called the King Henry VIII Big Band and directed by Andy Davey, the floor area was filled with multiple trumpets, saxophones and every instrument associated with this musical form.
The sound was full and rich and the set was a good mix, a few Jazz standards including Birdland and How High the Moon but mostly foot tapping popular numbers like the Beatles melody of Lady Madonna/Day Tripper, Sesame Street, an excellent version of Michael Jackson's Thriller and the encore number a sizzling Sir Duke.
All in all an excellent evening of music with both bands full of talent and enthusiasm, the venue ideal for such an evening with plenty of room for even a 25 piece band to set up and perform and the Leam Jazz club itself seems a very friendly association.

Andrew Lock

Verdict - All that Jazz


The Graham Fulford Charitable Trust Charity Gig
The Leamington Assembly
Sunday 14th November 2010
(PUBLISHED IN LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER)

Raising money to help raise awareness of Prostate Cancer and at the same time enjoying the various musical styles of some of the best local artists was a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
In all we had seven local acts on display starting bang on12 noon with the versatile Bob Poole from Chevy playing his one man guitar and vocals show and warming the crowd up with his usual selection of covers including Whiskey in the Jar and Stand By Me.
Next up the rock covers band Ace Trucking with a high energy collection starting with Van Halen's Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love and including a great version of Suffragette City.
A real change of direction next with the modern Jazz sound of Jazulu with a selection of amongst others the works of Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, a technically superb band with a fantastic Sax player, they were followed by Molly Brown including popular local musician Kelly Elliott on stand up bass, for this gig playing a set with a difference, tracks chosen by the band and the fun diverse selection included Tainted love and a ukulele version of The Prodogy's Firestarter.
Molly Brown also introduced a special guest the always impressive singer/guitarist Clayton Denwood and this part of the set included his powerful composition Tryin' to Resist.
Indie rock next on display with a professional performance by The Tide, a real high energy set, all original material with an impressive front man and a great guitar sound, they seemed to have brought plenty of their fans to the venue and I was very impressed by their set especially the catchy track which I think was titled Wasted.
The stage was full of musicians for the next act the motown/soul sounds of Cath Nightingale & the Hi-Tones, with an outstanding collection of sing-a-long tunes including Stop in the Name of Love and Chain of Fools all perfectly performed and they have a real star on main vocals with Cath.
To headline the show The Rogues one of the very best local bands around, featuring top vocalist Martin Cure from Chevy and they performed their usual rocking set of covers including Mercury Blues, School Days and encored with a red hot version of Neil Young's Rockin in the Free World.
A fantastic days music which also included a raffle with top prizes, including tickets for shows at The Assembly donated by the venue, if you would like any more info on the The Graham Fulford Charitable Trust you can contact them at gfcharitabletrust@tiscali.co.uk

ANDREW LOCK


FOR THOSE ABOUT TO ROCK
Live/Wire and Limehouse Lizzy
Leamington Spa Assemby
11th November 2010
(PUBLISHED IN LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER)

First band of the night Limehouse Lizzy played the greatest hits of the legendary Thin Lizzy, they started their set with Jailbreak complete with flash bombs and then performed a set full of Lizzy classics including a rocking Waiting For an Alibi, Dancing in the Moonlight, Do Anything You Want To, Don't Believe a Word, the epic Whiskey in the Jar. and of course The Boys are Back in Town. Wayne Ellis played the Phil Lynott role to perfection and the trademark twin guitar sound was supplied by Greg Alcock and Tim Read with Andy Fox on drums giving the large crowd of around 600 a set of Thin Lizzy magic.
Next up making their second visit to The Assembly Live/Wire performed the best of AC/DC, they have two singers portraying the Bon Scott and Brian Johnson eras of the band, Jon Belford and Pete Eccles respectively, a fantastic Angus in Lorne Shippen along with a red hot Rhythm section in Eddie, Shaun and Daz.
Again the crowd was treated to a collection of classic numbers including Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, Whole Lotta Rosie, You Shook Me All Night Long, Highway To Hell and they closed with For Those About To Rock (we salute you) with the appearance of the famous cannons.
An excellent night of rock music from two of the best tribute bands in the country both on top form.

Andrew Lock

Verdict - Rocking double bill


The Blues Assembly 2
The Assembly
Sunday 7th November 2010
(PUBLISHED IN LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER)

This was the second of what will hopefully be a series of these fabulous blues events at the venue and another great success, bringing five outstanding acts to the Assembly stage.
First up and as I recently discovered a Leamington girl (she lived here until the age of two) the talented and versatile Cherry Lee Mewis with her act which combines blues with touches of country and rock-a-billy, she has a fun easy going stage presence and her set included many tracks from her outstanding latest album Southbound Train including the title track, the foot tapping All You Need and the groove of Midnight in Memphis.
Another lady of the blues on stage next, from Bradford the electrifying blues/rock guitar of Chantel McGregor who along with her band performed a powerful set, if anything even better than her performance at Cambridge earlier in the year, highlights included Free Falling, Help Me and an electrifying version of the Joe Bonamassa track Sloe Gin.
Time for the gentleman to entertain, first up the full on blues rock of Glasgow band the Nimmo Bros featuring red hot guitar slinging brothers Alan and Stevie who really had the hall rocking with numbers such as Long Way From Everything and a belter of a closing track The Shape I'm In, where the audience well warmed up by this time joined in on the chorus after a little prompting.
Matt Schofield next up who has been voted one of the ten best blues guitarists in the country, he is a true master of blues guitar as he proved in a set full of traditional blues work outs, extended solos and virtuoso playing the stand out tracks for me Betting Man and Ear to the Ground.
Headliner time and after a warm up buy his excellent band on walked Mud Morganfield son of blues legend Muddy Waters to take a high seat centre stage, wearing a spectacular gold shirt and with a voice rich and full of character he delivered a faultless set of blues classics backed up by his superb band including of course several numbers made famous by his father including Baby, Please Don't Go, Walkin' Thru the Park and a show stopping set closer Mannish Boy.
For the encore a rolling Got My Mojo Working finished proceedings in style to end another great night of the blues here in Leamington, same next year please.

Andrew Lock

Verdict - The Mojo was definitely working


Zed Lepp
The Heathcote, Leamington Spa
25th September 2010
(PUBLISHED IN LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER)

As Led Zeppelin are one of my favourite bands I had been looking forward to seeing the recently formed local tribute band Zed Lepp and managed to catch them at the Heathcote on Saturday night. This was only their 5th or 6th gig and with such a small amount of performances under their belts I was very impressed with both the performance and the show they put on, playing a selection of well known Zeppelin classics and rarer album tracks.
All the Zeppelin elements were in place Chris pounding away on the drums, Paul riffing and soloing on various guitars including the famous double neck and even using the famous bow at some points, Pete ex V8 keeping the groove on bass and Luca giving a solid vocal performance.
Starting with the driving Immigrant Song they proceeded to deliver a powerful set of Zeppelin material including Heartbreaker, How Many More Times, Dazed and Confused and of course the classic Stairway to Heaven.
The band encored with the bluesy Bring it on Home and finished with the brooding atmospheric Kashmir.
They also put on a show with a tv screen digital back drop, plenty of dry ice and a small laser light, very impressed with my first live music visit to the Heathcote.

Andrew Lock

Verdict - Rocking


Chevy 30 Year Reunion Show
Royal Spa Centre
Wed 22nd September 2010
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

This was a very special show for the Leamington Spa music scene, being the 30th reunion of Leamington's very own NWOBHM band Chevy, and also an opportunity to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support.
Local celebrity and ex-wrestler Tony "Banger" Walsh took to the stage to give an entertaining introduction before the long wait was over and Chevy were back where they belong, on stage and rocking the place.
Starting with the title track from their 1980 album The Taker the set was split between album tracks and numbers that would have made the second album and included Too Much Loving, the epic masterpiece Skybird, the bands catchy anthem Chevy, and the super-charged pair of Rock On and Rock City.
The band were all on great form making full use of the spacious Spa Centre stage and highlights included Ted's amazing drum solo, a four way lead guitar/bass dog-fight with Steve, Baz, Paul and Bob trading licks and of course Martin Cure's vocals as powerful as ever.
This really was a night to remember and over £2500 was raised for Macmillan with a very enthusiastic crowd of over 400 people, the good news is that the band are playing the town again next year at our award winning venue The Assembly on Friday 8th April.

Andrew Lock


Chevy 30 Year Reunion Show
Royal Spa Centre
Wed 22nd September 2010
(PUBLISHED IN LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER)

This was a very special event for everybody with an interest in the local music scene, the main event being the 30th reunion of Leamington's very own 80's rock greats Chevy, the concert was also an opportunity to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support.
The turnout was excellent as was the atmosphere in the hall, and at around 7.30 the MC for the evening Tony "Banger" Walsh took to the stage to welcome everybody and to introduce the first band of the evening the Jay Kay Pees, the well loved three piece who launched the evening off to a rocking start with a selection of 60's classics including You Really Got Me, Gloria, Lazy Sunday Afternoon, Out of Time and an excellent version of the Elvis show stopper Suspicious Minds.
Second band of the night Riff Raff kept up the momentum with a full on selection of classic rock and punk numbers, standout tracks for me the Guns N' Roses pair of Sweet Child O' Mine/Paradise City, ZZ Top's Tush, a fired up Pretty Vacant and finishing their set with a scorching Rocking in the Free World.
Time for the headliners and after an entertaining introduction by Mr Walsh, the long wait was over and Chevy were back where they belong, on stage and playing a blinder.
Starting with a pumped up The Taker the set consisted mainly of tracks from Chevy's 1980 album of the same name (now released on cd for the first time) and a few numbers that would have made the second album, from the classic album the set included the full on groove of Too Much Loving, the epic and fan favourite Skybird, the bands anthem Chevy and set closer Rock On.
Tracks that would have made the 2nd album included a fired up Rock City, Wind of Change and Fast Car.
The whole band played superbly and seeing the interaction between them you would have thought they were finishing a large tour rather than playing a one off show, the Spa Centre stage was spacious with impressive lighting, the sound quality was excellent, and I was particularly impressed by Ted's drum solo and the three lead guitar fight out that followed it, Steve, Baz and Paul trading licks and solos with Bob on bass also joining in. Martin Cure on lead vocals played the rock star to perfection as always and his voice seemed as powerful as ever.
This really was a night to remember and early indications are that around £2000 was raised for Macmillan with over 400 people attending, hopefully the talk from the stage of doing it again next year was more than just talk.

Andrew Lock

Verdict - A triumphant return


Voodoo Vegas
Leamington Assembly
September 12th 2010
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

Hailing from Bournemouth, Voodoo Vegas appear to be a rock band with a big future ahead of them, they have an excellent collection of self penned rockers, a really big full on sound, a polished stage act and a very stylish look. This was the bands second show at the venue this year both times as support to the UK Guns N' Roses and if anything they were even better than back in February.
They had the Leamington crowd rocking from the off with a set of tracks mainly taken from their excellent live album released in 2009 (looking forward to their first studio album hopefully in 2011), but had the confidence to start with a new number the powerful Bullet.
Particularly impressive tracks on the night, the catchy rocker Out There with its powerful main riff, the full groove of So Unkind, the beautiful The Ballad "a love song with balls" and the bands anthem the frantic Mary Jane.
For me the bands sound has touches of Guns N' Roses, Aerosmith and The Quireboys and is a blend of good time rock and roll, classic 70's rock and sleaze rock but they still manage an overall original sound and vibe.
Lawrence on vocals is a superb front man running around the stage often twirling his mike stand around and is excellent at getting the crowd involved, they have two outstanding lead guitarists in Nick and the lovely Merylina, a real character on Bass with Ash and a powerful sticks man in Martin.

Andrew Lock


UK Guns N' Roses
Leamington Assembly
September 12th 2010

This was the second visit to the venue this year for the outstanding UK Guns N' Roses and if anything even more of a success than their appearance in February.The band were really on fire for this show again giving the crowd the full on GNR live experience.
After the atmospheric crowd noise intro tape it was straight to business with a pumped up Nightrain, followed by another Appetite for Destruction classic Mr. Brownstone, before the first visit of the night to the Use Your Illusion albums with the explosive Live and Let Die.
A real guitar work out next with Estranged with our Slash for the night pulling off all the tricks, followed by the powerful Civil War, and then the chilled laid back part of the set the beautiful but still rocking Patience.
Our Axl really turned the next number, the awesome Welcome to the Jungle into a real crowd pleaser as he left the stage and performed the whole track in amongst the crowd, a real rock and roll moment, the momentum was then kept going with the frantic threesome of It's So Easy, Out Ta Get Me, and You Could be Mine.
A track for the" kinky people" in the audience next with the Use your Illusion 2 number Pretty Tied Up, followed by the infamous Rocket Queen and a real crowd sing-along with Knockin' On Heavens Door.
Fantastic set, all the GNR favourites, every member playing his part to perfection and countless costume changes by our Axle for the evening and to finish the show in style we had It's Alright, Sweet Child O' Mine, my personal favourite November Rain and a roaring Paradise City.
A fantastic night of fun and rock and roll by a tribute act at the top of their game.

Andrew Lock


Rockabilly Night
The Scatsville Busters/Voodoo Kings
The Grist Mill, Leamington Spa
Friday 27th August 2010
(PUBLISHED IN LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER)

I have always had a soft spot for Rockabilly going back to my love of The Stray Cats in the early 1980's so I was very pleased to see an evening devoted to this musical style at my local pub/live music venue The Grist Mill.
Two bands on show tonight the first being Leamington's very own rockabilly band The Scatsville Busters, a four piece led by Paul Harwood on vocals and double bass, who play traditional 50's rockabilly style music with a touch of psychobilly in the mix.
The Busters were certainly up for fun as they came on in garish hawaiian shirts and Elvis style wigs and stormed into the surfing classic Wipe Out originally recorded by the Safaris.
There set was a combination of classics, original compositions and well know tracks given the rockabilly treatment, standout tracks for me the Sonny Curtis penned I Fought the Law, the driving original Rockin' Or Out (opening track on the bands EP) and their inspired Hayseed Dixie style take on Bruce Springsteen's I'm On Fire.
Second band of the evening from Coventry the Voodoo Kings, a very slick three piece band who add country and straight rock to their brand of rockabilly, they play almost all originals, the only cover I think was their excellent take on Jimmy Reed's Baby What You Want Me To Do this along with the catchy Voodoo Car the laid back I'm Not Blind and the rocking Easy Street, the latter three all taken from their latest EP were the standouts in a stylish set.
A very successful night and something different for the town, two fantastic bands and a responsive crowd.

Andrew Lock

Verdict - Rockabilly Rules


Fish
Cox’s Yard
Stratford-Upon-Avon
Sunday 15th August 2010
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

This was an acoustic show with Fish accompanied by long serving band members guitarist Frank Usher and on the keyboards Foss Paterson.The set was a combination of highlights from his solo years and a choice selection from his days with Marillion some of which completely reworked for the format.
A very unusual start to proceedings with Fish walking on-stage unaccompanied and performing an acappella version of the Raingods with Zippos track Chocolate Frogs showing right from the outset that his voice problems seem to be behind him.
From his solo output, amongst others we had a stuning Vigil, the dramatic and tense Family Business, Jumpsuit City, State of Mind, Just Good Friends, Lady Let it Lie and the beautiful and romantic A Gentleman's Excuse Me.
For the many Marillion fans in the house the big man had plenty of delights to offer, the first a stirring Slainte Mhath, followed later in the set by a completely revamped and very successful Fugazi, and three tracks that gave the crowd plenty of opportunity to sing along Sugar Mice, Kayleigh and Lavender.
As usual Fish was Mr entertainment between the songs with the usual funny anecdotes and his sometimes serious and poignant introductions, I have never seen him so relaxed on stage and the three of them work so well together which helped to give the gig a fabulous atmosphere.
I was very lucky and managed to have a few words with both Fish and Frank Usher after the show and you could tell how much they both enjoyed the night, it will go down as one of my gigs of the year for sure.

Andrew Lock


CAMBRIDGE ROCK FESTIVAL 2010
MY HIGHLIGHTS
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

My third Cambridge Rock Festival and another fantastic event, full of great performances and the friendly atmosphere that is always a huge part of this festival, and I would like to give you a few of my highlights

Friday

2nd Stage

Crimson Sky
I saw this band for the first time at this years Winters End Festival and again I very much enjoyed their brand of prog/gothic rock.The set was a combination of tracks from the debut album Misunderstood including live favourites The Sea and the rocking Turn it up and a few tasters from the next album. Another strong/confident festival performance from vocalist Holly Thody and band in front of a good sized crowd on the 2nd stage.

Main Stage

Danny Bryant's Redeyeband
Back to the main stage for a set by one of the regular fixtures of The Cambridge Rock Festival and a true master of blues guitar Danny Bryant who along with his band had the big tent well and truly rocking.As usual his set was split between original pieces and inspired covers such as Knockin on Heavens Door and a full on version of the Jimi Hendrix classic Voodoo Chile complete with all the guitar pyrotechnics.

Deborah Bonham
From one powerhouse performer in Danny Bryant to another with the fabulous powerhouse vocals of Deborah Bonham, a lady who really commands the stage and with her polished band performed tracks from The Old Hyde and Duchess albums including her show stopping take on the classic Stay With me Baby. She produced a real piece of festival magic when she encored with a knockout version of the Led Zeppelin classic Rock and Roll, a real shiver down the spine moment as the drum intro exploded into life.

Tygers of Pan Tang
A real surprise package for me this year, the Tygers played a set of unapologetic NWOBHM syle rock and roll, cracking guitar riffs galore, all of the rock star shapes and poses and never stopped running around the stage all set (apart from the drummer of course!) a real good time full of fun band. There really was not a dull moment in a set which included red hot rockers Hellbound, Hot Blooded and Dark Rider, a great choice to close Fridays main stage.

Saturday

2nd Stage

Emerald Sky
My first band on the 2nd stage on Saturday Emerald Sky are three sisters Aislinn bass/vocals/keyboards, Ceara guitar/backing vocals and Siobhan drums/backing vocals, who play melodic rock with pop touches.My stand out numbers from an impressive collection of original material and well chosen covers were the self penned Insurrection the all out rock of Hellraiser and their versions of Enter Sandman and Back in Black.Really liked this band, all very talented musicians, impressive vocal harmonies and a sound for me on the softer side of female rock bands such as Girlschool.

Taildragger
I have seen Taildragger at the previous two Cambridge Rock Festivals and always enjoy their set of traditional blues rock and again very much enjoyed their whole set this year, especially their takes on Buddy Guy's Mary Had a Little Lamb the classic Money (that's what I want) and ZZ Tops Tush.

Main Stage

Wolf Law
A perfect nice and early start to Saturdays festivities on the main stage with the up tempo and full of youthful energy Wolf Law playing a set of to my ears power rock in the vein of The Wildhearts and The Almighty. Being a huge Elvis Presley fan I have to take my hat off to the cheek of coming on stage to the strains of the kings 1970's concert intro music Also Sprach Zarathustra as used in the movie 2001 A Space Odyssey, a band to watch out for and their rocking early morning set included tracks from their EP Swingin' the Bottle.

Chantel McGregor
We are privileged in this country to have an abundance of young blues talent and here is another name for the list Chantel McGregor, I had been looking forward to her own set after she came on and performed briefly with Deborah Bonham during her Friday perfromance.She is a marvel, practically a blues master at such a young age and Bridge to Better Days, Freefalling and a stunning version of the Joe Bonamassa track Sloe Gin were just a few of the many highlights from her set.


Four Wheel Drive
These guys were possibly the most manic over the top band I have ever seen and just like the Tygers of Pan Tang did not stop running all set, if anything more so.They play sleaze rock along the lines of Motley Crue and Poison and also have a dash of the tongue in cheek approach of Steel Panther and dare I say it Spinal Tap.The numbers were all short sharp rockers including Big Fat and Ugly and a storming cover of Johnny b Goode, this could very well be the ultimate rock and roll party band.


Oliver Dawson Saxon
Closing the main stage on Saturday two bands that really brought back memories for all of the old rockers in the audience (have to face facts I am now an old rocker) first up founder members of Saxon, Steve Dawson and Graham Oliver with their version of this great british rock band.They played a few new tracks but of course they knew what people wanted to hear so we had a set filled with Saxon classics including Princess of the Night, 747 (Strangers in the Night), my personal favourite Saxon favourite Dallas 1 PM and of course the classic Wheels of Steel.A well played and well received set.

Monsters of British Rock
Following Oliver Dawson Saxon another memory inducing band this time including from Whitesnake Micky Moody and Neil Murray and a band full of rock talent including ex-members of Thunder and Wishbone Ash.The set was full of classic Whitesnake numbers, of course all extremely well played including Here I Go Again, Don't Break my Heart Again,Fool For Your Loving, Ready an' Willing and a sing-a-long Ain't No Love in the Heart of the City.

SUNDAY

2nd Stage

Cherry Lee Mewis
Cherry is a powerful blues singer from Wales with a truly engaging stage presence, she adds a touch of country and Jazz and rock and roll to her blend of the blues and with her smoking band gave the 2nd stage crowd a set to remember with a large selection of material from her Southbound Train album including the toe tapping All You Need, the rock and roll of Western Star and the cool groove of Kissin' In the Dark.
A real showcase for her vocals was her take on the Janis Joplin classic Mercedes Benze, a real show stopper, I see a very bright future for this talented young artist.

Main Stage


Panic Room
Panic Room have a very distinctive sound with elements of pop, progressive and alternative rock and they also of course have the very talented Anne-Marie Helder fronting the band and for this show on Sunday lunchtime she made a dramatic entrance wearing a decorative and stylish gold face mask.This years sensational album Satellite was the base for most of the set including the powerful Freedom to Breathe, the brooding and heavy Dark Star and one of my tracks of the year the beautiful heartfelt The Fall.
A very talented band in all departments, outstanding guitar work by Paul Davies, the keyboard flair of Jonathan Edwards and impressive base work from Yatim Halimi on bass replacing the departed Alun Vaughan just a few of their strengths and with the impressive set they played at Cambridge I am sure they picked up plenty of new fans.

Breathing Space.
A very special set by Breathing Space, as the band have a new vocalist Heidi Widdop (part of the Mostly Autumn family already as a vocalist in the bands early days) and guitarist Adam Dawson and after Olivia leaving to front Mostly Autumn I am so pleased to see this band continuing as the three Breathing Space albums have such a wealth of stunning material.
Heidi particularly excels at the rockier numbers, has a powerful singing voice and fronts the band with confidence and Adam filled the lead guitar slot with style.The set started with two rockers Below the Radar, the title track from the bands latest album and then then the gentle starting Coming up for Air.
The only number from the debut Breathing Space album and a change of pace in a mostly up-tempo rock set the beautiful and delicate No Promises with outstanding work by the keyboard king Iain Jennings.
Further proof that the band has a great future came with the addition of two new tracks in the set Silver Skies written by new boy Adam and Lips.
Heidis's top performance in the set was when she really let rip in the powerful Searching For My Shadow and my personal highlight and one of my all time favourite pieces of music was the sensational When I Hold on to you, fantastic set from a fantastic band.

Mostly Autumn
Another special set as with Heathers departure Mostly Autumn now have a new leading lady with the talented Olivia Sparnenn stepping up from backing vocals to lead singer and while this was not Olivia's first performance up front with the band it was by far the biggest crowd.
As usual the powerful intro tape to Fading Colours heralded the arrival of the band to the stage with Olivia looking surprisingly cool and relaxed for such a big show and she soon took command of the stage.
Their set included plenty of the much loved Autumn live favourites, full on rockers including The Dark Before the Dawn and Answer the Question, and of course absolute epics in Evergreen and Spirit of Autumn Past (part II).
There were surprises in the set as well with the return of The Last Bright Light and the haunting Dreaming from the Heart Full of Sky album, Olivia's Breathing Space show piece and award winning Questioning Eyes and for me the stand out track on Bryan's solo (Josh and Co) album Through These Eyes, the bluesy Slow Down.
A very moving scene before the encore with seriously injured soldier Ben Parkinson introduced on stage to make a presentation of gifts to the band (the band have helped raise money for the Help For Heroes) Bryan then dedicated the last number of the evening Heroes Never Die to Ben and his comrades. A special end to a special show and of course the end of another fantastic Cambridge Rock Festival.

Andrew Lock


Julian Marley
The Assembly
Thursday 29th July 2010
(PUBLISHED IN LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER)

Support tonight came from the Stratford-Upon-Avon band ACS with a lively set of reggae/rock which really set the mood for headliner Julian Marley, the multi instrumentalist reggae artist and son of the late great king of reggae Bob.
The set was well split between Julian's own material from his three albums including a large number from his latest release Awake including Sharp as a Razor and Things ain't Cool, and material from his Lion in the Morning and A Time & Place albums. Julian looks and performs like his father but also injects his music with a modern feel has a great rapport with the audience and an extremely talented band playing alongside him.
I suppose quite a large section of the crowd were looking forward to a few Bob Marley classics and on this Julian certainly did not disappoint including from the classic Exodus album set opener Natural Mystic, the beautiful Waiting in Vain, One Love and Exodus and from the Burnin' album Get Up, Stand Up.
A very entertaining evening and a fantastic atmosphere summed up for me by a gentleman at the front dancing with his wheelchair during the encores.

Andrew Lock

Verdict - A Reggae party


Marillion
High Voltage Festival warm up show
The Assembly
Leamington Spa
Friday 23rd July 2010
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

This show was a warm up for Marillion's headline set on the Prog stage of The High Voltage Festival and the Assembly in Leamington Spa was packed with the loyal Marillion army, many I am sure heading to London for the festival appearance on Sunday.
The opening number was the powerful, brooding, intense The Invisible Man before a change of mood and tempo with the up-beat live favourite Cover My Eyes (Pain and Heaven), complete with large orange pumpkin style balloons bouncing through the crowd.
Next the only visit in the set to the Fish era with a magnificent Slainte Mhath and it was truly a case of classic after classic in this magnificent set with next up the explosive King, followed by the absolute epic This Strange Engine.
The main set closed with three stunning pieces of music from what are generally regarded as the three best Hogarth era albums Afraid of Sunlight from the album of the same name, The Great Escape from the magnificent concept album Brave and closing with another epic, Neverland from Marbles.
Encore time started with the complex This Town/The Rakes Progress/100 Nights trilogy from Holidays in Eden for the first encore, the band then returned with The Other Half, Three Minute Boy and they finished the evening in style bang up to date with the title track of the latest studio album Happiness is the Road.
This was possibly the strongest set I have seen the band play, full of live favourites, plenty of light and shade, at times rocking at other times chilled and laid back and as always performed to perfection.

Andrew Lock


Marillion
High Voltage Festival warm up show
The Assembly
Friday 23rd July 2010
(printed in leamington spa courier)

Marillion chose The Assembly in Leamington as the venue for the warm up show for one of the bands biggest shows in years, headlining one of the stages of The High Voltage Festival in London on Sunday July 25th.
The band played what I am sure will be a perfect festival set mixing long complex progressive pieces with shorter tracks, the longer pieces included opening number The Invisible Man the first track on the 2004 Marbles album the stunning This Strange Engine and the epic Neverland.Shorter rocking numbers included the sing-a-long Cover My Eyes complete with a barrage of orange pumpkin balloons, the powerful King and they even visited the Marillion of original vocalist Fish with Slainte Mhath from the 1987 Clutching at Straws album.
The show as always with this band was musically a joy to the ears, vocalist Steve Hogarth had his usual fun with the audience, and of course as the tickets were sold through the bands web-site the crowd was full of loyal Marillion fans from all over the country and beyond, helping to create a fantastic atmosphere.
This was a very special evening and as the band left the stage to the crowd still singing the chorus of the closing number Happiness is the Road I must admit to feeling proud that they choose my home town for the show.

Andrew Lock

Verdict - Happiness is Marillion at The Assembly

The Survivors
The Grist Mill, Leamington Spa
16th July 2010
(PUBLISHED IN LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER)

The Survivors have been together for around 18 months and are all veterans of the local music scene having played in the past for bands including The Likely Lads, they are a five piece band playing on the whole late 1950's and 1960's rock and roll.
They put on a high energy performance with lead vocalist Sid bopping around the stage as if he was 30 years younger, in fact the whole band played with an energy sometimes missing from much younger bands.
The set read like a who's who of rock and roll and was full of classics including Sweet Little Sixteen, Twist and Shout and Be-Bop-A-Lula and they also threw in a few rarer covers such as I'll Never Get Over You by Johnny Kidd and the Pirates and the Larry Williams track Bony Moronie.
Plenty of jiving in front of the stage helped in creating a great evening of rock and roll.

Andrew Lock

Verdict - Never to old to rock and roll.


Pendragon
The Musician
Leicester
May 30th 2010
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

The Musician in Leicester a fabulous little live music pub, walls decorated with music posters and memorabilia made a great venue for a very up-close look at one of the most in form bands in Prog rock Pendragon, still riding high on the wave of the success of last years Pure album.
The set tonight included all of the Pure release and the usual impressive selection of Pendragon classics.
The catchy Indigo and the rocking Eraserhead the opening pair from Pure started the set followed by one of the tracks of the night the exquisite masterpiece Paintbox from possibly the band's finest album The Masquerade Overture.
Next another classic, the atmospheric emotional If I Were the Wind, which included outstanding keyboards by Clive Nolan, before a cry of "ready to rock" introduced firstly the three part epic Comatose followed by The Freak Show both from Pure.
At this point of the review I would like to say having seen the band three times in the last year what a complete outstanding unit of a band they are, NIck Barrett's guitar work as good as it gets with vocals to match, Clive Nolan adding such body to the bands sound with his keyboard layers, add to this Pete Gee's outstanding bass work and the powerful stick work of the real character that is drummer (and new boy!) Scott Higham, and you have a band really at the top of their game.
Back to the epics next with Not of this World and the bouncing Nostradamus (Stargazing) a fan favourite from The Window of Life album and from the same album the stunning Breaking the Spell which includes some of Nick's finest guitar work, then finishing the main set by revisiting Pure with the powerful moving It's Only Me.
Encore time and time to keep hold of your beer glasses for the mass jump along to Masters of Illusion an out and out classic and a perfect encore.
A surprise for the final track of the evening as Nick puts his guitar away and just handles the vocals (including singing most of the track amongst the crowd) on 2am from Kowtow, a great way to end a great gig.

Andrew Lock


My first Progeny Festival
By Andrew Lock
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

Progeny 3
Main Festival The Assembly - Fringe Festival - Robins Well
Leamington Spa
May 7th - 9th 2010

What a weekend my first Progeny Festival turned out to be with 14 bands covering every style of progressive rock you could think of.This was my first Progeny festival and below are some of my thoughts from a great weekend.

FRINGE FESTIVAL

For the first time the festival had a fringe event, it was held in the basement bar of the Robins Well pubic house.Four mostly acoustic sets were played at this venue with Chris Fry and Christina Booth from Magenta starting the proceedings on the Friday night with a set mostly made up of numbers from Tina's Forthcoming solo album Broken Lives and Bleeding Hearts including Free Your Soul and the wonderful Deep Ocean.They also treated the audience to selections from the Magenta back catalogue including beautiful stripped down versions of Anger and I'm Alive.
Two sets on the Friday the 2nd treat being a set by John Mitchell and John Beck from It Bites included the classic It Bites number The Tall Ships and inspired covers of Life on Mars and In the Air Tonight.
The Saturday Fringe performance was by the highly entertaining and humorous rock band Tinyfish who bill themselves as the smallest prog rock band in the world.
A full of fun set this one impressive front man Simon Godfrey and band in fine form and a couple of stand out tracks for me were Wide Awake at Midnight complete with the story behind the lyrics and the epic encore All Hands Lost.
Special mentions must also go to spoken word artist Rob Ramsay for his contributions complete with various costume changes, the exceptional lead guitar of Jim Sanders, and the sterling work of Paul Worwood on bass and Leon Camfeild on drums and general madness.
The last fringe show of the festival was performed by two artists I know very well and both from the Mostly Autumn universe, Chris Johnson and Anne Marie Helder.
The set was based strongly on the outstanding debut album The Fabric from Parade ( Chris Johnson's new project ) which despite the number of effects used to great effect on the album really works in the acoustic format.
Starting with the powerful album opener Come Alive other highlights included the intense The Dogs, the beautiful High Life and The Diamond.The multi-talented Anne- Marie on guitar,drums,flute and backing vocals during also performed lead vocals on a couple of her solo numbers.

FESTIVAL - SATURDAY

First act of the main festival Future Kings of England playing a set of lengthy,space rock,progressive instrumentals.The set also included a first in my gig attending the playing of a saw during one of the numbers I believe the track entitled See Saw.
Next up possibly the most unusual band I had ever seen Circulus, with a style I would call medieval,space,folk,prog rock.The band were all dressed in medieval costume ( looking a little like Ritchie Blackmores' current backing band ) and played a variety of weird and wonderful instruments.
The set started with front man Michael Tyack on his own performing a spoken word piece entitled Gothic Me Gothic You touching on the subjects of astral projection and aliens before he called his knaves ( medieval for backing band ! ) onto stage.
The I believe 2nd track Piva was introduced as an Italian lute/village dance piece and very jolly it was.
At one point the knaves were dispatched to bring him a maiden from the village and they returned with a weeping maiden dressed like little red riding hood, Michael then played a song to her before she removed her hood and joined the band on backing vocals, bringing even more colour and variety to the stage .A very different kind of set indeed.
Here and Now next up with yet another variety of prog this time with funk and sometimes reggae influences .Throbbing bass lines,rock solid drumming and scorching lead guitar from the off set.
First track an impressive instrumental titled Jam set the tone of the set with other standout tracks What you See and Backless, really enjoyed this set.
Time now for the surprise that was not really a surprise, that being that The Elves of Silbury Hill was actually most of the current Hawkwind line-up including the legendary Dave Brock.
The Elves played a fluid set with different musicians arriving and departing between numbers and they mixed slow laid back numbers and storming Hawkwind rockers to great effect with heads banging and dreadlocks flying during the heavier tracks like the awesome Kings of Speed.The set also included the Hawkwind classics Brain Strom and The Right Stuff - great stuff more like!.
Headliners Twelfth Night arrived on a spectacularly lit stage with an impressive back screen image of the planet earth to a tremendous reception .A much loved band of progressive rock lovers and to me a band in the style of early Fish era Marillion.
Starting with the double whammy of Ceiling and K and Q they played a superb set full of drama and passion.
Lead vocalist Andy Sears early in the set appeared dressed up in a business mans hat wielding an umbrella which he threw into the photo pit at the numbers climax( us photgraphers all survived to tell the tale ) .
Two members of the band Galahad were filling in for the missing members of the band on their current tour including stunning lead guitarist Roy Keyworth. .
Highlights in the headline performance included The Craft and Collector.
For the encore a special guest was introduced ex Pallas vocalist Allen Reed to assist with a stunning Lovesong.
A great set with a stunning light show,superb stage craft and top musicians to close the first day of the festival in style.

FESTIVAL SUNDAY

Sunday started with a fairly recent addition to the festival line-up and probably the most all out rock set of the festival with 25 Yard Screamer, a three piece band with hints of thrash metal in their sound at times .Heavy riffs the order of the day and their impressive set began and ended with segments from a work entitle Cassandra. A band to watch out for,
Change of style again next with Solstice a band playing folky/hippy style prog with stunning lead guitar by Andy Glass, the equally impressive Emma Brown on lead vocals and adding to the sound the tremendous fiddle work of Jenny Newman.
The band has a great look and style, to go with the music and looked like they were having great fun throughout the set.
Numbers I particularly enjoyed included opener Morning Light and Flight.
Back to prog rock next with the emphasis on rock with Pallas and one of the first gigs for new vocalist Paul Mackie, plenty of comments from the stage on how nervous Paul was about this show but he showed non of it with a confident powerful performance.
The band played a selection of classic Pallas tracks including Executioner and a superb Midas Touch and a few tracks from the upcoming album XXV.A powerful dramatic set and one of my highlights of the weekend.
Prog of the Jazz side next with the international group of musicians The Tangent, outstanding musicianship,long solos and plenty of key changes the order of the day in this set full of complex pieces of music.
What a band to end the festival, Mick Pointer's Recital of the Script a prog super group put together by original Marillion drummer Mick which includes Pendragon guitarist and vocalist Nick Barrett.
The band play Marillions' classic first album Script For a Jesters Tear in its entirety and they also treated us to probably the most famous/infamous piece of music in progressive rock history the mighty Grendle.
They had the place rocking with the final number of the main set Market Square Heroes and kept the pace going for the encore with the very entertaining Scottish anthem Margaret.
The band put a real show on with all the props on display including the of course the famous mask during Grendel, and of course a few front row fans and for this show a pit photographer got well and truly grendeled.
This band really put on an authentic reproduction of the early Marillion material with vocalist Brian Cummings a charming front man often saying from the stage how privileged he felt being a part of this band.
Well my first progeny festival,a fantastic weekend and thanks to Miles and all at the CRS for the opportunity and as usual thanks to our fantastic music venue here in Leamington Spa - The Assembly and all of the staff.

Andrew Lock


Mick Pointer's Recital of the Script
Progeny 3
The Assembly
Leamington Spa
Sunday May 9th 2010

I must admit this was the band I had been looking forward to seeing from the moment the Classic Rock Society gave me the opportunity to review and photograph the Progeny 3 festival, I consider myself a massive Marillion fan but unfortunately after buying both the Market Square Heroes and Punch and Judy singles, I lost track of the band until the Hogarth Years so never managed to see the 'Fish era' Marillion live.
I had the pleasure of previously seeing this set in the intimate setting of Riffs the great rock pub in Swindon, a fantastic night seeing the songs from the first Marillion album come to life, the bigger stage of the Assembly and the venues usual impressive stage lighting only added to the magic.
The main part of the set was of course a track by track run through of the first Marillion album Script For a Jesters Tear, a fabulous piece of music which this band, lead of course by the original Marillion drummer Mick Pointer does complete justice.
Starting with the moving title track itself the band were on terrific form, Mick's powerful drum work, lead vocalist Brian Cummings (Carpet Crawlers) complete with Fish style face make up playing the part to perfection, one of the best lead guitarists in the world Nick Barrett (Pendragon) making the solos look far too easy and the rest of the band a joy to the ears.
Hard to pick stand out tracks from such a classic album played so well but Garden Party had the venue rocking and the soldier props during an atmospheric Forgotten Sons worked exceptionally well.
A real treat at a Recital gig is the playing of probably the most famous/infamous piece of music in progressive rock history the mighty Grendel, of course not played by Marillion (except for Mr Rothery teasing the crowd to the first few bars at a certain convention warm up show I attended) for a very long time. As all of the relevant props are included in the show we of course had the famous mask during Grendel and a few front row fans and a photographer got well and truly Grendel'ed!
The main set ended in rocking, bouncing style with Market Square Heroes and the pace was kept going for the fun rendition of the Scottish anthem Margaret to close a real triumph of a set, for me of course the highlight of the festival.

Andrew Lock


Thea Gilmore / Deborah Hodgson
Leamington Assembly
Thursday May 6th 2010
(PUBLISHED IN LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER)

This was an evening of fabulous music showcasing the outstanding vocal talents of two female artists both supported by top of their game musicians.
Although both acts in the folk field the styles were noticeably different, one on the mellow gentle side of folk and the other on the folk rock and at times protest side.
First up a performer with strong Leamington ties having previously worked in the town for around five years, singer song writer Deborah Hodgson.
While their are many fantastic female vocalists out there I must say I have not heard a clearer or more beautiful voice than Deborahs.
This was her first show playing with Eva Cassidy's brother Dan on fiddle and completing the line-up was accomplished guitarist Simon Othen.
While obviously influenced by Eva Cassidy, I also noticed a touch of Katie Melua on some of the tracks.
The set began with the exquisite and gentle Taigh Allain which set the tone for the set, her excellent vocals supported by haunting fiddle work and subtle guitar picking.
Other standout tracks in her set included the more up-tempo Truth of the Matter, the emotion packed Autumn Leaves and a superb cover of the song Elvis Presley called "probaby the saddest song I've ever heard" I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry.
Really looking forward to her debut album released later in the year.
Headliner Thea Gilmore and her three piece backing band who as I have mentioned were more in the folk rock tradition also delivered an excellent acoustic set including the stirring Icarus Wind, the catchy Juliet and a rocking over of Pink's Get the Party Started.
She also performed a track written by her husband and guitar player in her band Nigel Stoner the lyrically clever You and Frank Sinatra.
The encores started with a track written the evening of the gig based on her worries over that evenings General Election results and performed remarkably well in the circumstances.
The low key but powerful The Lower Road ended a superb evening of live music.

Andrew Lock

Verdict - A musical evening of amazing Folk talent.

Charity Band Night
The Grist Mill, Leamington Spa
Sunday 2nd May 2010
(PUBLISHED IN LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER)

This was a musical evening to raise money for The Myton Hospice a charity the pub supports as often as possible.
It was a night of great musical variety kicking off with the impressive young punk band Rewards and Revenge with their usual mix of punk classics and original material.
The Session a band from Coventry next, a very talented rock band I enjoyed very much at last years Peace Festival. They performed tracks from the recently released album Stamp Out Reality including the outstanding rocker When She Smiles.
One of my favourite musical styles on display next Rockabilly and also the debut gig for The Scatsville Busters and they had the place well and truly rocking.
Always love the stand-up base especially when played as well as it was and highlights from their set included Endless Sleep and Ubangi Stomp.
The Harry Ragg band next with a set 60’s covers including a bunch of spot on Kinks tunes including Waterloo Sunset and You Really Got Me.
The night closed in rocking style with the local 1970’s rock band Barnabus a 3 piece playing a set of heavy progressive rock originals including the epic America and for an encore their version of the Lynyrd Skynyrd masterpiece Freebird.
An excellent night of varying musical style with over £300 raised from a raffle for the Myton Hospice into the bargain.

Andrew Lock
Verdict – Punk, Rock, 60’s,Rockabilly and Progressive Heavy Rock – what a selection.


UFO
The Assembly
Wednesday 28th April 2010

Fantastic that the Assembly is continuing to bring classic rock music to the town and this gig was no exception with one of the greatest British rock bands touching down.
UFO have been rocking the world for well over 30 years recording classic after classic many of which they performed at this show.
Band on great form with original vocalist Phil Mogg’s powerful vocals fully intact and tonight’s set consisted heavily of tracks from the bands 1979 live album Strangers in the Night highly acclaimed as one of the best live albums of all time,
To name just a few highlights in the set form this famous album the roaring set opener Let it Roll the rock anthem Only You Can Rock Me, the 100 miles an hour Lights Out and Doctor Doctor one of the greatest rock tracks ever recorded.
The band also performed numbers from their latest album The Visitor including a superb Stop Breaking Down.
Another outstanding night of rock music at The Assembly.

Andrew Lock

Verdict – Out of this world.


Breathing Space
Robin 2
Bilston
4th April 2010
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

This was a special performance as the last with the band for vocalist Olivia Sparneen and Bryan Josh, but I was very happy to hear Iain Jennings say after the show that the band would continue and hopefully Iain will soon be hard at work auditioning replacements.
Tonight's two sets included numbers from all 3 Breathing Space albums and also a few of Iain's Mostly Autumn compositions.
Four rockers started the show, Forgive Or Surrender from the debut album, The Senses and Coming up for Air from the second release and Clear from latest album Below the Radar.
Band in top form, Olivia up front held the crowds attention as always, Iain Jennings displayed his usual dazzling keyboard skills with help from brother Ben, Bryan knocked out the solos and solid rhythm work supplied by Paul Teasdale and Barry Cassells.
Next up in my opinion one of the highlights of the Mostly Autumn back catalogue Hollow from The Last Bright Light album, with fantastic lyrics, subtle chilled musical backing and breathtaking lead guitar, a track I have always believed would have made a great single.
The dramatic Rain Song next with it's heart breaking lyrics sang beautifully by Olivia and then back to hi-tempo with the catchy pop/rock of Run From Yourself before closing set 1 with the haunting You Still Linger.
Olivia changed from her bright red dress into what someone in the crowd called her beautiful mermaid outfit (well named) for the 2nd part of the evening which again started with a rocker Time Tells all the Unknown.
This was followed by 2 tracks from the debut album the emotion filled ballad Belief and one of the albums strongest numbers the epic Wasted all the Time.
A real power ballad next The Night Takes You Home before one of my favourite Iain Jennings keyboard intros, simple but stunningly effective started the excellent Searching for my Shadow which also included scorching guitar work from Mr Josh.
We then had 2 slow burning crackers from Below the Radar Drowning and Dusk followed by the number that has been Olivia's showpiece when performing with Mostly Autumn Never the Rainbow which as usual rocked from start to finish, tonight without the Blackmore/Gillan style guitar/vocal duel but still a rocking delight.
The main set finished how it began fast and rocking with Below the Radar and my personal favourite Breathing Space number the uplifting When I Hold on to You.
A real gem for the first encore a track most of us wanted and possibly expected to hear tonight, Iain's Mostly Autumn masterpiece The Gap is Too Wide, the word epic hardly does this track justice just an outstanding piece of music.
Final number of the night with Olivia thanking everyone who had voted for it in the Classic Rock Society awards 2009 where it was voted best track,Questioning Eyes a stunning number completely deserving of its award.
A great night and while sorry to see Olivia and Bryan leave the band hopefully we can look forward to more great music both recorded and live by this outstanding band and of course best wishes to Olivia in her new role with Mostly Autumn.

Andrew Lock


Mostly Autumn
The Assembly
2nd April 2010
(PUBLISHED IN LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER)

Such a treat to have this show at our fabulous venue The Assembly, a perfect place for a rock band with a special place in my heart with its large high stage, impressive lighting and excellent sound system. This was a very special gig as this was the last performance with Mostly Autumn for lead vocalist Heather Findlay, about to start a solo career and all Autumn fans wish her all the very best for the future.
Not long after 8.00pm house lights dimmed, and the show started with the atmospheric, lead into Fading Colours the powerful opening track from the Heart Full of Sky album.
Last on stage dressed in a stylish red dress and black hat with a short veil and to a great reception, the lady of the moment Heather.
After the stunning opening number the rock tempo was kept going with Caught in a Fold , the foot tapping Flowers for Guns and the rocking Unoriginal Sin.
Other highlights in the first set included The Spirit of Autumn Past (part 2) always a fan favourite with plenty of audience participation and Heather's vocal show piece Shrinking Violet.
The second set started with a Carpe Diem the moving track written about the tragic Boxing Day tsunamis of 2004 - followed by the stirring Winter Mountain.Highlights in the second set included oldie Nowhere to Hide (close my eyes) , the gentle Half the Mountain and the 2 Mostly Autumn epics Mother Nature and Heroes Never Die
Encore time with the delicate Above the Blue, and possibly the bands best ever song Evergreen to close the show, after which band presented Heather with a beautiful bouquet of flowers
What a night 2 stunning sets, all the classics, band all playing a storm, a big enthusiastic crowd of around 800 and a great venue.
All the best in the future to both Mostly Autumn (sure Olivia will do a great job fronting the band) and Heather in her solo work (will be there for both).

Andrew Lock

VERDICT - THE END OF ONE STORY THE START OF ANOTHER


The Jellyheads
The Grist Mill, Leamington Spa
Friday 19th March 2010
(PUBLISHED IN LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER)

Tonight first up we had another fine support set by the young local punk band Rewards and Revenge playing their usual up-tempo and well received set.
On to the headliners, I witnessed a great set by the Rugby based punk band The Jellyheads at last years Napton Festival and have been looking forward to seeing them again.
They are a talented bunch of musicians who obviously love what they do, which is playing cracking versions of punk classics and tonight that included a few Jam tunes including In The City and Eton Rifles, Sex Pistols numbers Pretty Vacant and God Save the Queen and a rocking version of the Elvis Costello classic Pump it Up, as well as numbers by The Damned, The Clash and the Stranglers
Apart from the great music a Jellyheads gig is a lot of fun with some of the audience taking part in the ritual of throwing pieces of jelly at the band, one of their biggest fans acting as cheerleader to keep the audience dancing and singing and plenty of mad action on the dance floor.
Another great night of live music in the town.

VERDICT - GREAT NIGHT OF CLASSIC PUNK

Andrew Lock


WINTERS END FESTIVAL
THE SPACE
STROUD
13-14TH MARCH 2010
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)


Thanks to getreadytorock I found myself on Leamington Spa railway station at 7.00am on a crisp Saturday morning on my way to the inaugural Winters End Festival in the Cotswold town of Stroud.
The event was co-organised by The Classic Rock Society and the team behind the Summers End festival. The event was also supported by the Stroud town Council particularly "rocking Mayor" Andy Read who approached festival organiser Stephen Lambe with the idea of a mini Summers End festival.
Arrived in sunny Stroud (apt for a festival marking the end of winter) at around 10.30am and after quickly finding my hotel made my way to the venue in plenty of time for the 12.00 doors.
The Space is part of The Art Centre, an impressive looking building next door to an equally impressive church, and the festival took place in an upstairs room which looked easily big enough to cope with a hopefully capacity 200 audience.
The room was well laid out with a good sized stage at the far end, bar and catering towards the rear, a very impressive collection of cd's and dvd's on sale by the progressive rock specialists progrock.co.uk on one side and the CRS stand and tables for band merchandise on the other.
All in all an ideal set up for what should be 2 days of great progressive rock, so on to the acts. One thing that impressed me above all others was the varied styles on display, progressive rock really does cover a wide range these days.

SATURDAY

ELIZA TALE
A three piece which I would describe as pop/punk/prog kicked off proceedings, Eliza Tale played a set consisting mainly of up-tempo fairly short rock numbers with a touch of the Ramones including (think I got this title right) Get Away For the Weekend and Watch Your Corner. Being a trekkie the stand out track in their set for me was Captain Kirk with Shatner Star Trek original series dialogue as an introduction and a very catchy number it was, enjoyed the first set of the festival band they were very tight and also rather fun.

LEE ABRAHAM AND BAND
Lee Abraham and his band were playing their first ever gig and performing Lee's latest album Black & White in its entirety and in album order - quite an ask for gig number 1!
This band had an epic prog feel and as the album title suggests plenty of light and shade in the music, with scorching guitar solos and a strong vocal performance by Sean Filkins.
After the restrained opener And Speaking of Which... we had the powerful Face the Crowd and my personal favourite of the set The Mirror starting with gentle keyboards, vocals and distant guitar and then building to full blown prog rock then returning to the gentle style and ending with a stunning guitar solo.
Celebrity Status next up had a light and breezy sound contrasting well with the rest of the material and to close the set the 2 title tracks Black and White, epic in every sense of the word including powerhouse drumming, swirling keyboards, great guitar and intelligent thoughtful lyrics.
What a first show and speaking with Lee and Sean after they seemed really pleased with how it all went.

MERMAID KISS
Another change of style next with the dreamy, folk prog of Mermaid Kiss with a truly haunting chilled out set, the beautiful rich vocals of Evelyn Downing a real delight, for me a little bit of Kate Bush in the sound but with a folk rock edge.
Great use of the wind instruments played by Wendy Marks on stage to add more layers to the material and two of the stand out tracks for me, the number described as their Cowboy song Ghost Rider and the beautiful Walking With Ghosts one of the best tracks from the Etarlis album.
A very clever suite of songs based around American cities was also impressive with LA, Seattle (which was a real show case for Evelyn as a solo vocal performance) and New York (with fabulous guitar picking).
Very much enjoyed the vibe of this band and not for the first or last time over the weekend made a dash for the merchandise tables at the end of the set.

JAMES HOLLINGSWORTH
Yet another change of style next with James a solo singer/guitarist full of charisma and star quality singing his folky/rock numbers in for me the manner of Cat Stevens who I am sure would have been proud to have written some of the material on display. Really enjoyed the up-tempo Way Down South and the very atmospheric Still Lights Up the Rain complete with the story behind the song, both from his 2007 CD Coming Home to Stay.
James combined rich vocals, excellent guitar and great humour between numbers, he played a strong set set finishing with 2 real gems Faster Than Light and the epic Mothership.

MOON SAFARI
Next up one of the most anticipated sets of the weekend the first UK performance by the Swedish band Moon Safari with possibly the best harmony singing I have ever heard with all of the band involved.
The set started with Moonwalk, a multi layered, beautiful, full of joy instrumental from current album [blomljud] this was followed by Yasgur's Farm from the same album, a tribute to the famous home of Woodstock and another bright and breezy track.
As mentioned the vocals were amazing and in Pontus Akesson they also have a lead guitar player of real talent and this really showed on the 31minute Other Half of the Sky.
The band sounded great and looked stylish, interacted well with the crowd and the a cappella encore was breathtaking, hope they visit these shores again soon.

MAGENTA
Time for Saturday's headline act and as I expected they blew me away, had heard a few impressive tracks of theirs recently and they play my favourite kind of prog with the emphasis on rock. Tonight was a very special if sad show for the band as bass player Dan Fry's last gig and from his performance tonight he will be greatly missed, he is easily the most animated bass player I have ever seen bouncing over the stage like Tigger!
After a rocking opening number Speechless a catchy single released in 2007 the band unfortunately had an equipment problem so while being sorted it was over to vocalist Christina to entertain us with her great wit.
Problem sorted and back to the music, next up the first of several of the deadly sins from the Seven album in the set, Gluttony a track with delicate keyboards vocal harmonies and plenty of tempo changes. The other sins on stage tonight were Lust, Pride and the exquisite Anger which began with Christina accompanied on acoustic guitar by the bands incredible lead guitarist Chris Fry sitting on the edge of the stage with the rest of the band joining in later in the track.
Other stand out tracks in the set were the delicate and powerful Demons, edited versions of the epic numbers from latest album Metamorphosis, The Ballad of Samuel Layne and the title track and what in a perfect world would have been a huge hit single the rock anthem that is I'm Alive.
Encore time and all tracks from the 2001 album Revolutions Man the Machine, The Warning and the superb The White Witch.
Loved this set and how I have missed seeing them live before I have no idea (shame they are having a small break now) Christina Booth is a sensational singer and front person, rhythm section tight as you would like and what an explosive talent they have with Chris Fry on lead guitar, showing all the tricks in the book.
Fantastic set and by now I seriously need a new bag to hold my cd's.

What a day 6 very different bands, one bands first gig another bands first appearance in the UK and the headliners last show with their bass player, Sunday has got something to live up to!

SUNDAY
Early start for me with a walk in to town and then around the outside of venue itself including the church and grounds, with camera in hand of course, before making my way to the venue.

SANGUINE HUM
Opening Sunday a young indie/funky/experimental style band Sanguine Hum with a set of humorously titled numbers such as Cat Factory, It's Pissing Don and Ointment for Flies. One of the highlights in the set was the very different Dead Cheese introduced as "Heavy Metal Samba" which did exactly what it said on the tin, a samba beat mixed with rock style guitar. A very enthusiastic band and by the sound of their next single Diving Bell performed in the set they may have a bright future.

CRIMSON SKY
Time to rock again with Crimson Sky, today playing without Keyboards as Chris Cadey is about to or has just become a father, best wishes to the family.
The band played tracks from their impressive debut album Misunderstood and their set was another of the highlights of the weekend for me (old rocker!) they are obviously influenced by the best british rock and prog rock bands, I also see in them a touch of European gothic metal bands like Lacuna Coil and Nightwish.
Lead vocalist Holly Thody has a strong stage presence, great style and rocking vocals, while Martin Leamon on guitar, riffs and solos with the best of them.
Rockers Turn it up and Season's End (not a Marillion cover!) had the hall rocking and real highlights were 3 pieces of the mammoth/complex Misunderstood Suite from the debut album, these being The Sea and Misunderstood parts 2 and 3 which the band performed magnificently especially considering the number of keyboard parts on the album version.
A band I will definitely keep an eye on.

I O EARTH
For some reason (maybe pieces they played in the warm up and all the wind instruments on stage!) I had the impression that Birmingham based I O EARTH were a prog/jazz band and while their were elements of jazz in the sound they really rocked.
Hard to pigeon hole their sound, very guitar oriented with Dave Cureton pulling off all the guitar hero tricks and striking all the poses in a set including plenty of rocking instrumentals and they really have a sound of their own. Several tracks featured the vocal talents of Claire Malin and the saxophone playing of Luke Shingler adding a completely different sound to the mix.
Dave has a superb wit, and between songs shared anecdotes on topics including Mother's Day and Elvis, as an Elvis fan I particularly enjoyed the latter especially when Dave started the band playing the opening riff of Elvis's Las Vegas style version of the American blues classic See See Rider.
One of the standouts in the set for me, if I remember correctly introduced as a heavy metal song the rocking Light & Shade, not the set I expected but one I ended up really enjoying.

TOUCHSTONE
This is the only band I had seen from the bill prior to the festival, at one of the excellent Cambridge Rock Festivals, and again my cup of tea with the emphasis on the rock side of the progressive spectrum.
Touchstone were tonight's co-headliners with Galahad and the band did a really generous thing, originally booked to close Sunday night they allowed Galahad to close the show as their set was to celebrate their 25th anniversary-a lovely gesture from one band to another.
After dramatic intro music it was straight into the opening number and the first of many from their highly rated latest album Wintercoast with Strange Days full of classic rock riffing, l love everything about this band, Kim Seviour's powerful vocals, Adam Hodgson's guitar work, the fantastic funky fretless bass work of Paul Moorghen, the keyboard magic of Rob Cottingham and the rock solid drums of Al Melville.
The set was split fairly evenly between the latest album and its predecessor Discordant Dreams with a suprise for the last encore.
The other stand out tracks from current album Wintercoast the gentle/delicate Original Sin a real showcase for Kim's vocals, the funky (thanks to Paul) rock of Zinomorph and with Kim spookily lip synching the eerie spoken intro (with a real War of the Worlds feel) performed by the great actor Jeremy Irons, the awesome Wintercoast itself, a monster of a track including a killer riff at the start of the number.
From the previous album Discordant Dreams the tracks that stood out for me, the epic title track, the pop rock gem Shadow and the moving lyrics of Dignity.
A real suprise for the last track of the set with a full on rock version of the Tears for Fears track Mad World, which worked really well.
Now completely hooked on this great british rock band.

GALAHAD
As mentioned before to close the festival we had the 25th Anniversary gig of english prog rockers Galahad a band formed in Dorset in 1985 and who have just released the critically acclaimed Empires Never Last album.
The bands roots for me lie in the Genesis/early Marillion type of rock mixed with a symphonic/heavy metal/industrial metal approach. They certainly took the prize in the visual and theatrics sense over the weekend, with a back screen showing album artwork and photographs spanning their career on a repeating cycle, both before and during the performance. To add to the theatrics we had lead singer Stuart Nicholson making his stage entrance in bright pink ladies wig and when this was removed stylised face make up was revealed. In a clever trick vocalist Stuart left the stage and seemed to return in military get up and gas mask however during the number on walked the singer and the gas mask wearer was revealed as one of the CRS guys.
On to the music and two real stand outs from the cracking latest album were Termination and the magnificent This Life Could be my Last....
and as this was an Anniversary show they of course visited their back catalogue, including the track Bug Eye from the Following Ghosts album and included in the encores was a version of the Faithless dance classic Insomnia.
A powerful colourful set to mark 25 years in the music buisness.
What a fantastic weekend of live music thanks so much to everyone involved.

Andrew Lock


V8
SPAYCE BAR, Leamington Spa
FRIDAY 5TH MARCH 2010
(PUBLISHED IN LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER)

Like many other local music fans this building has special memories,mostly of the days it was called Kelly's and it is great to have it back open as a live music venue.
Now called Spayce the only change I noticed was a good one with more viewing room in the centre near the stage.
The evening started with a support set from a great young local band who used to be called White Lie and are now Rewards and Revenge, this was the third time I have seen these lads play and they are improving all the time. A three piece punk band they play up-tempo originals and throw in a few covers, standout tracks tonight for me the self penned Let it Out and Breathless and for us oldies a rocking Johnny B.Goode.
V8 are one of my favourite local bands and tonight we had the usual selection of rock covers performed in their unique style including Bark at the Moon, Alice What's the Matter, The Boys Are Back in Town and the bands awesome version of the AC/DC classic Sin City.
As always the standout number, showcasing Fred on lead guitar was Black Sabbath's War Pigs with the breathtaking solo handled to perfection as always.
As usual the band varied the styles with tracks by artists such as The Foo Fighters, Metallica and Alice in Chains.
Fantastic to have yet another live music venue in the town and great to have one of the institutions of the Leamington music scene V8 back in action.

Andrew Lock

Verdict - Firing on all cylinders


Nazareth
The Assembly
Leamington Spa
Friday 12th February 2010
(PUBLISHED IN LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER)

Nazareth a band that has been at the top of their game for over 40 years visited The Assembly last Friday.
Support came from Deborah Bonham sister of the late great Led Zeppelin drummer John and and her set mainly consisted of material from the 2004 album The Old Hyde (named after the farm John Bonham bought in the 1970's and where Deborah lived) and the 2008 release Grace.
Deborah commanded centre stage with that fabulous voice of hers, full of character and soul as well as powerful with to my ears a touch of Janis Joplin in the sound.
Standout tracks in her set included The Old Hyde,a full of soul version of the Lorraine Ellison classic Stay with me Baby and brand new track I Need Love.
Headliners Nazareth with original member's vocalist Dan and Pete on bass (2 of the friendliest musicians I have ever met by the way) walked on to an atmospheric bagpipe intro tape and a stage full of dry ice and a spectacularly lit drum kit.
The set was full of classics including the out and out rockers Bad Bad Boy and Hair of the Dog the awesome My White Bicycle, their first hit single Broken Down Angel, and of course their huge hit version of power ballad Love Hurts.
More recent Material included The Gathering from the last studio album The Newz and for encores we were treated to the all time Nazareth tunes Razamanaz and This Flight Tonight.
A fantastic gig great support set form Deborah and Nazareth - Dan McCafferty,Pete Agnew,Pete's son Lee on drums and on superb lead guitar Jimmy Murrison played a cracker of a headline set.
Verdict - Two rocking bands - one rocking show

Andrew Lock

The Chris Jones Band
The Grist Mill, Leamington Spa
Sydenham Estate
Friday 5th February 2010

Interesting gig for me this one as leader of the band Chris Jones used to teach me guitar a good few years ago and this was my first look at his new band.
He has a very strong line-up for the new band with Ted Duggan currently playing with amongst others The Motorvators on drums,Sam Powell who plays with The Hangover Blues Band on harmonica and playing great bass guitar Tony Walsh's son Adam.
Chris Jones plays guitar and lead vocals and the bands style is mainly blues with a little funk added to the mix.
The set was a mixture of original material and covers but the covers are complete reworking's of the material including revamped versions of Robert Johnson's Crossroads and the Elmore James blues standard Dust my Broom.
One of the stand out tracks was a stunning version of the Jimi Hendrix classic Red House with spectacular fretwork by Chris.
Another great gig and another top local band - it really is a good time for local music at the moment.

Andrew Lock

VERDICT - TOP QUALITY BLUES


HEAVY ROCK SHOWCASE
THE GRIST MILL, LEAMINGTON SPA
SATURDAY 30TH JANUARY 2010
(PUBLISHED IN LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER)

New format for tonight's live music at The Grist Mill with four sets by local rock bands and boy did it work with the pub at times at times the busiest I have seen it.
First up playing only their second ever gig Leamington band Nero playing a spirited collection of covers including Jumping Jack Flash and Crazy Little Thing Called Love.
Next up Valhalla Smith with a collection of powerful original material including one great track I think called A Portion of Blame and a cracking version of The Queens Of The Stoneage track- No One Knows.Very stylish band this a mix of classic and new age rock with touches of early Ozzy Osbourne to the vocals at times.
Heroin Hospital next a young band I first saw performing at The Leamington Peace Festival last year with their brand of indie style rock performing a high energy set of original material with one of the stand out tracks being My Flame Red Eyes.
On to the headliners Gethika a band I also saw for the first time last year in this case at The Napton Festival and what a class act they are professional in every sense the music, stage presence and crowd interaction all in place.
They play very heavy metal music again all original and for me in the vein of Pantera,Slayer and as a friend pointed out to me Lamb of God.
Stand out tracks in the headline set included Solace In Silence and Roots Take Hold and very much looking forward to the debut EP release which happens very soon.
Fantastic idea by The Grist Mill for a music night and a real success.

Verdict - Loud and Rocking

Andrew Lock


Open Mic Night
Wednesday 20th January 2010
The New Inn, Leamington Spa
(PUBLISHED IN LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER)

A new addition to the local music scene and a very welcome one The Open Mic Night at the New Inn in Leam Terrace takes place every second Wed with the next one on 3rd February.
The compare who also performs several tunes solo and with other performers is the very talented Bob Poole the well known Leamington musician previously with the successful rock band Chevy and now a member of new band The Motorvators.
Tonight Bob's tunes included Bad Moon Rising,Sloop John B and an excellent version of Lead Belly's Midnight Special.
Plenty of willing musicians came forward to perform, including a set of excellent witty original material by Duncan Lockerby and a welcome return from a lady who performed at the New Inns first Open Mic Bethan Brooks who has a fantastic rich soulful voice and her set included a breathtaking version of Wicked Game.
Plenty of jamming sessions on display as more musicians arrived including both fiddle and tambourine players joining the collection of singers and guitarists already in attendance.
The night included a very mixed bag of musical styles rock,folk,blues and country included and other standout tracks on the night a unique interpretation of the Oasis track Wonderwall, a sing-along American Pie a rocking I Saw Her Standing There and a powerful Son Of a Preacher Man.
Look forward to attending many more of these nights in the future the atmosphere was warm and frindly,beer as good as ever and the music outstanding.

Andrew Lock

Verdict - A great night of Real Music.


The Cookie Monsters
The Grist Mill, Leamington Spa
Friday 8th January 2010
(PUBLISHED IN LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER)

A perfect escape from the cold and icy weather a night of rock and punk tunes played by the rocking 4 piece midlands band The Cookie Monsters at The Grist Mill.
The well chosen set of over 20 tracks included plenty of punk with tracks such as Pretty Vacant, Alternative Ulster and American Idiot, classic rock supplied with amongst others Paranoid, a superb You Shook Me all Night Long and All Along the Watch Tower.
The band mixed all of this high energy rock with more complex pieces including Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here and the Rolling Stone's Sympathy For the Devil and even gave us a strong original track Right to Survive.
They finished the show with a powerful version of The Cult's Sanctuary to close an excellent gig.

Verdict - Rock of the finest order

Andrew Lock



2009



The Wishing Tree
Bush Hall
London
20th December 2009
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

A very chilly evening in Shepards Bush helped by a good pint of Green King in the closest pub to the venue and of course the anticipation of a real musical treat ahead.
The Bush Hall is a quaint little venue with stylish decor, impressive chandeliers and red carpet throughout with a good high stage at one end, tonight's gig was all standing with what looked like an audience of 200-300 people.
The gig was also treated as a belated 50th birthday party for Steve Rothery so instead of a traditional support we had Steve and various friends playing rock and blues covers.
First up we had a couple of tracks with a band that included Marillion bass player Pete Travas (who played all night) they played a funky version of the Chuck Berry classic Nadine and BB Kings The Thrill is Gone with superb blues guitar by Steve.
A line-up change next with the band Stranger by the Minute on stage with Steve. This set started with a rocking White Room and from the happy look on Steve's face he is having a great time already. Beatles time next with Come Together and to finish the short but excellent set Mustang Sally and a full of audience participation Make me Smile (Come up and See me).
The Wishing Tree is a band which combines the emotional soulful guitar of Marillion's Steve Rothery and the haunting vocals of Hannah Stolbart, playing music in a folk-progressive rock style also occasionally I can see a touch of Blackmores Night but without the Medieval touches.
I loved their debut album Carnival of Souls released in 1996 and current release Ostara is even better, tonight was a rare opputuinity to see the band perform live.
On a stage with a nice xmas touch (Hannah's mic stand adorned with fairy lights) the Wishing Tree set started with two tracks from their new album - Seventh Sign and Fly.
Next up and back to the bands debut album for the sublime Evergreen, one of the stand out tracks from that album and to follow one of the highlights from Ostara Kingfisher, a more up-tempo piece than most of the album which included a trademark emotion filled solo by Mr Rothery.
A suprise guest on stage next to join Steve's wife Jo already on stage on backing vocals his daughter Jennifer improving the already fabulous vocal harmonies coming from the stage and joining the band for a cover of the Mazzy Star track Fade Into You.
The main set finished with three more Ostara tracks including Hollow Hills, the track first used as a teaser for the new album and the epic title track itself.
Encore time and a couple of xmas crackers in the shape of two well chosen covers starting with Fleetwood Mac's Dreams which suited Hannah's vocals perfectly and to close a treat for all us old rockers Comfortably Numb which of course well suited the guitar prowess of Steve.
A great evening, real musical excellence in a chilled out venue with the only problem on the night being trouble with the electric drums which was professionally handled.
Would love to see The Wishing Tree perform in the future, Hannah is such a talented vocalist the rest of the band tight as a drum, great backing vocals and the lead guitar player is not to bad either !!!!

Andrew Lock


Josh & Co. Limited
The Robin 2
Bilston
Sunday 13th December 2009
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

Being a Mostly Autumn fan their was of course only one place to be on Sunday 13th December and that was here in Bilston at the excellent Robin 2 to see Josh & Co. Limited perform the outstanding album Through these eyes.
The support band was Parade which included familiar faces to Mostly Autumn fans including the talented Chris Johnson who wrote and produced the debut album, the excellent multi tasking Anne Marie Helder and on drums Gavin Griffiths.
Parade have just released their excellent first album The Fabric from which they performed a selection tonight including the excellent slow burning High Life,Feedline and one of the stand out tracks on the album The Dogs.
Headliners Josh &Co along with the man himself included more familiar faces from the Mostly Autumn camp including Iain Jennings on keyboards and the incredible vocals of Olivia Sparnenn.
The first track was the slow burning but powerful Land of the Gods followed by the rousing The Appian Way then onto the haunting We Graze which included beautiful backing harmony vocals by Oliva,such lovely heartfelt lyrics on this track.
The uptempo rocker Black Stone next up and then the track I cannot seem to get enough of at the moment and which for me includes one of Bryan's greatest riffs Slow Down an awesome piece of music with a touch of classic blues rock to it that had the Robin well and truly rocking.
Next a track that really comes to life on the stage the title track Through These Eyes with its unusual name dropping spoken verses and catchy Mostly Autumnesque chorus and lyrics that seem to tell a tale of the afterlife complete with a line-up of a band that could play that greatest of venues. It is with the addition of three covers connected with this fantasy band that the track completely takes off- All Along the Watchtower with electrifying fret work from Mr Josh of course, Behind Blue Eyes and a roaring Rock and Roll complete with a fantastic vocal performance by Olivia and splendid guitar work by Chris Johnson.
Other set highlights included the show piece for Olivia's vocals the gentle understated Old Friends first encore track Carry me and to close the show in xmas style Bryan leading the crowd through a sing-a-long of The Bing Crosby classic White Christmas.
So glad I managed to get to a Josh & Co. gig loved every minute of it quality music all evening as usual a guitar master class by Bryan and this is another night that proves what musical talent their really is in the Mostly Autumn universe.

Andrew Lock


Pendragon Xmas Show
Leamington Spa Assembly
12th December 2009
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

The famous Pendragon Xmas show lived up to all expectations on its first outing at The Assembly on Saturday 12th December.
The evening started with German progressive rock outfit Sylvan, a band with a great sound combining both power and a melodic delicate touch. The band released their first album in 1999 Deliverance and so far have released seven studio albums, the latest being Force of Gravity. Their set kicked off with the stirring title track from their latest album and other highlights included the multi-layered Vapour Trail the tender The Colours Changed and the brooding rock of One Step Beyond. I was very impressed with the whole band lead vocalist Marco Gluhmann has both a fantastic voice and a
strong stage presence and the whole band played their part in a great set.
Pendragon gave us a three hour plus set the first half a run through of latest album Pure, which has a slightly heavier sound than some of their earlier releases but still full of that distinctive Pendragon light and shade. They performed Pure in album running order so after the atmospheric intro tape it was into opening track Indigo followed by the up-tempo Eraserhead. Next it was time for the first epic of the night the three part masterpiece Comatose, the out and out rocker The Freak Show finishing the set with the moving It's Only Me.
After a small break the band returned and played another complete show full of highlights and treats from their earlier works.
This set started with Learning Curve from the 2005 album Believe and other highlights included The Last Man On Earth the beautiful Am I Really Losing You both from The Window of Life album and two tracks from The Masquerade Overture the emotional Paintbox and a powerful version of The Shadow.The set also included material from their debut album The Jewel Oh Divineo ,The Black Knight and Leviathan and If I Were the wind from the Not of this world release.
Encores tonight the epic Masters of Illusion the rarely played 80's rocker Red Shoes and a fun version of Fairytale of New York with help from guest vocalist Tina from the band Magenta
The sound the band produce is powerful, melodic and full of passion with solid bass and drums from Peter Gee and Scott Higham respectively, layers of keyboard magic supplied by Clive Nolan and first class lead guitar from Nick Barrett who also handles the lead vocals. The impressive stage lighting and back screens only added to a fantastic show.
The band came out and mixed with the fans after the gig chatted and signed for about an hour, talking to them I think they enjoyed the night as much as we did and hopefully this will not be the last time we see them at The Assembly here in Leamington Spa.
Andrew Lock

Pendragon Xmas Show
Leamington Spa Assembly
Saturday 12th December 2009
(PRINTED IN LEAMINGTON COURIER)

The famous Pendragon Xmas show lived up to all expectations on its first outing at The Assembly on Saturday 12th December.
The evening started with a set by the highly regarded German progressive rock outfit Sylvan a band with a great sound combining both great power and at times a melodic delicate touch. Their set included tracks from latest album Force of Gravity and older material including the tender The Colours Changed and brooding rock of One Step Beyond.
Pendragon kept to their word and gave us a three hour plus set with the first taken up with a run through of their latest highly acclaimed album Pure including the out and out rocker The Freak Show and the epic Comatose.
After a small break the band returned and played another complete show full of highlights and suprises from their earlier albums. This was a night of fantastic progressive music and a band right at the top of their game with the exquisite guitar work of Nick Barrett just one of the key ingredients.
The delights in the second set included The Last Man on Earth from The Window of Life Album and the stunning Paintbox from The Masquerade Overture.
Real fun for the encores with the rarely played rocker Red Shoes and to close being the festive season a version of Fairytale In New York with help from guest vocalist Tina from the band Magenta.
Verdict - A great early Christmas present.

Andrew Lock


The Motorvators
The Grist Mill, Leamington Spa
27th November 2009
(PRINTED IN LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER)

What a debut gig this was by new local band The Motorvators with a fair sized attendance of both Grist Mill music night regulars and friends of the band including a large number of fellow Leamington musicians.
No first night nerves in evidence as they stormed through a two part set full of classic rock and blues covers including Hoochie Coochie Man, Whiskey in the Jar, Let's Work Together and Wishing Well.
They slowed things down with an excellent version of Jimi Hendrix’s Little Wing and really had the joint rocking with the Rory Gallagher track Bullfrog Blues and the Chuck Berry Classic Johnny. B.Goode.

Verdict – What a night
Andrew Lock


Bob Poole
The Grist Mill, Leamington Spa
9th October 2009
(PUBLISHED IN LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER)

A blast from the past tonight being entertained by a gentleman I last saw in the early 80.s rocking Kelly's with the band Red on Red and previously with Leamington Spa's entry for the New Wave of British Heavy Metal - Chevy.
Bob Poole played bass for both these bands amongst others and has been living in Germany for the past 18 years or so but is now back to as the Stray Cats put it "Rock This Town."
A one man show with Bob on vocals and guitar he played a selection of songs mainly from the 50, s and 60's including A Hard Days Night, Oh Boy, Brown Eyed Girl, Whisky in The Jar, Take me Home Country Roads and Maybellene.
The material covered country, rock and roll and rock all extremely well played with plenty of crowd sing-a-longs with Bob thanks to his wireless equipment at times performing amongst the audience. He delivered on his promise of "Real music for real people" had a great rapport with the crowd the sound was excellent and it turned out to be a real fun night.
Welcome home Bob.

Andrew Lock


Magnum
The Assembly
Saturday 7th November 2009
(PRINTED IN LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER)

A good sized turnout at The Assembly for a show by the much loved midlands classic rock band Magnum now into their forth decade of making great music.
The support band for the evening were the very impressive Cambridge based progressive metal band Awake bringing their full on wall of sound and hi-energy show to a responsive crowd.
As well as a few older numbers Awake performed a few tracks from their impressive latest album Illumination including the rocking Dream Within the Symphonic rock of The Price You have to Pay and the Sabbath like riffs of the title track.
Headliners Magnum always a favourite of classic rock lovers have been performing and recording now for well over 30 years and have a wealth of material from which to form a set.
This summer they released Into the Valley of the Moonking from the quality of this album it is obvious that the band have last none of their power, splendour and song craft. The set included a large selection from the new release with the atmospheric intro tape leading into the album opener Cry to Yourself followed by the outstanding rocker from the album Take Me To The Edge. The band performed six tracks in total from the album including the power ballad A Face in the Crowd and the epic The Moonking.
With such a back catalogue the band are surely spoiled for choice when it comes to the older material and the set included material from at least six of their earlier albums.
Stand out tracks from the main set included the anti-war classic Les Morts Dansant from their best known album On a Story Tellers Night, Dragons are Real from the 2007 album Princess Alice and the Broken Arrow and the sheer power of the all time classic Vigilante.
The encores two absolute gems the 10-minute epic that is Don't Wake the Lion and the equally epic and regular closing number Kingdom of Madness.
Band on great form with front man Bob Catley in great voice commanding centre stage with the ridiculously talented guitarist and song writer Tony Clarkin to one side and Al Barrow on bass on the other. On keyboards was the excellent Mark Stanway and on drums as well as one of rocks greatest characters one of the masters of the art ex Thunder sticks man Harry James.
The venue again did the town proud and the sound especially on the vocals was spot on and the lighting as always top notch — another great Leamington gig.

Andrew Lock


NAPTON FESTIVAL 2009
Saturday July 4th

The quaint Warwickshire village of Napton again played host to a music festival this year a more low key event than the previous three.
Instead of taking place in a large farmer’s field as in previous years artists were performing at three venues, a main stage behind the Village Hall, the car park of The Crown pub and the main bar of The Victory Club.
The Victory Club took the role of the chill-out room on the day with quieter, mainly acoustic acts including Clayton Denwood and Sarah Carlow.
The Crown stage started with two very young energetic acts in the indie rock vein Hang The DJ and This November.
Other acts at the Crown included the punk covers band Betty Swollocks performing, amongst others, tracks by The Sex Pistols and The Clash and the headliners Gethika (a very heavy rock band) playing all original material and coming over like Slipknot with Sabbath riffs.
The Main stage started with a late stand in band ironically called The Last Minute, with a selection of covers including The Cults “Sanctuary” and The Who’s “Substitute”.
We also had a punk covers band on this stage the Jellyheads and what fun they were too, they had a good sized following who insisted on throwing jelly sweets at the band for the first three numbers. They certainly had the main stage rocking with amongst others Sham 69, Ramones and Pistols tracks and the dancing was lead by the bands super fan the one and only Moses.
Indie style rock bands including Scrapbook Heroes and Men in Caves were in abundance on this stage until the headliners the superb AC/DC tribute band Whole Lotta DC took the stage.
Having played this festival three times out of its four-year history we knew what to expect, spot on covers of classic AC/DC tracks including “Hells Bells”, “You Shook Me All Night Long” and “Whole Lotta Rosie”.
I had a really good day with some great bands and met lots of nice people and am so glad the festival is still going and looking forward to what they have in store for 2010.
Verdict – Another successful festival

Andrew Lock



2008


Reykjavik / Paul Van Ryan
The Talbot Inn, Leamington Spa
Saturday 12th September 2008
(PUBLISHED IN LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER)

The venue The Talbot on Rushmore Street a much changed pub from my visits for Jamaican Independence Day in years gone by but still a good local which always has a good selection of real ales — always a plus in my book.
The music — a warm up show by Leamington band Reykjavik for their upcoming support slot for the highly regarded progressive rock band The Enid at The Assembly on the 26th September.
Support came from the very talented singer, guitarist and song writer Paul Van Ryan one of the shining lights of the Leamington music scene tonight playing a solo set without his usual backing band The Late Knights.
As debut album "Man of the Pee-Pole" has recently been released he played a good selection of tracks tonight including Go the Distance, the quirky Every Girl is Beautiful (for me like a male Lilly Allen track), the soon to be released first single Find The Right Preacher and the outstanding album opener Niagara Falls.I really enjoyed the set all original material lyrically very clever and emotive with his sense of humour often to the fore, Paul hosts a showcase of live music at The Moorings on alternate Fridays if you want to hear him and is playing The Assembly on the 20th December.
Reykjavik have a big show on the 26th with The Enid to look forward to and if tonight's set anything to go by they should go down very well, they admitted after that the nerves had set in for the first couple of numbers but when they settled down they were superb.
They describe there style as "spacey experimental rock" I agree and for me I would add they are as original a band as I have seen. The line consists of three female vocalists Dani, Margit and Claire, Dave on guitar, keyboards and vovals, Nigel on bass and Greg on drums. The music is hard to pigeon hole for me there are hints of Hawkwind/Pink Floyd style space rock but with layers of female vocals, a touch of Stone Roses and maybe its just me a little bit of eastern style Led Zeppelin especially on some of Dave's fantastic guitar solos.
Opening number Spooky Salad a great choice up-tempo and haunting and even better when they repeated it at the end of the set with the nerves well under control this was followed by two slower burning tracks Conjuror and Blurry both great showcase 's for the groups vocal harmonies.
The rest of the set was Chemical Head, Boris, Para Ti and a rocking Old Jam then as I mentioned earlier they went through Spooky Salad again — not a bad thing as this is an outstanding piece of music. Two great performances tonight and I hope that Reykjavik have a good night supporting the Enid they should pick up a lot of fans there.
Andrew Lock


The Expendables
The Talbot Inn, Leamington Spa
Sunday 24th August 2008

This was my second opportunity to see The Expendables live in the last two weeks and they were on as good form as the first.
The venue was The Talbot Inn, Rushmore Street which has changed a lot since my days of attending The Jamaican Independence Day festivities but has still maintained its friendly community spirit. Inside it has changed quite a lot with a main bar area with wooden flooring and just off from this a comfortable lounge area. I was very impressed with the range of ales which included three real ales (which seem to change frequently) and if my memory serves me the same number of ciders. Service excellent, staff friendly and as the day seemed to be an anniversary of the landlord/lady at the pub they also laid on a tasty selection of barbecue food and salads.
On to the music by The Expendables, in my opinion a fantastic Leamington blues/rock band and today playing three sets rather than the usual two so seemed an opportunity to hear a couple of different tracks.
The band consisting of Tony Guitar/Vocals, Howard Bass/Vocals and Rob on drums playing as well as my previous show took us on a journey through the works of amongst others ZZ top, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix and Cream with to name just a few standout tracks for me "Pride and Joy" by Stevie Ray Vaughan,"Tush" by ZZ Top and "Hideaway" by John Mayall and the Blues Breakers (featuring Eric Clapton).
At the end of the show comes the finale that I think has to be seen to be believed the bands cover of Jimi Hendrix’s "Foxy Lady "with Tony on guitar playing the instrument behind his head, behind his back, with his teeth and even against speaker cabinets a real Hendrix tribute and great fun all that is missing is the lighter fluid and a match at the end but this could work out expensive.
All in all great venue, beer, food and of course music.

Andrew Lock


BAND-The Expendables
VENUE - The New Inn,Leam Terrace,Leamington Spa
DATE - Saturday 10th August 2008
(PUBLISHED IN LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER)

Made a note in my diary when I first noticed the band advertised in the pub possibly 4 or 5 weeks ago and very glad I did. The New Inn itself has quickly turned into my favourite Leamington pub, great beer, good food a very well kept establishment with an excellent land lord, land lady and friendly staff and so the addition of a night of one of my favourite forms of music blues rock made it to good to miss.
Have never seen The Expendables before but the promise of music along the lines of Hendrix, ZZ Top, Cream and Stevie Ray Vaughan advertised on the bands posters was extremely promising and the band did not disappoint. The band are the classic 3 piece set up of guitar, bass and drums and the vocals are shared between the guitarist and bass player they are a very tight band (and not in the getting the beers in department)! and really play as a unit.
The set panned out as promised including Hendrix's Purple Haze and Red House, ZZ Tops La Grange and Tush and a few excellent Stevie Ray Vaughn numbers, also included were storming covers of old blues/rock standards like Good Morning Little School Girl and Matchbox.
The band were certainly on fine form and the lead guitarist was sensational all through the set pulling all the tricks out of the hat during the last number including guitar played behind the head and with the teeth — pure rock and roll.
I had a very quick chat with all three of the band and there manager after the show a great bunch of people and left with a promise to see them again very soon, a really good night.

Andrew Lock


Mostly Autumn
Cambridge Rock Festival 2008
(PRINTED IN AUTUMN LEAVES MAGAZINE)

While being fully aware of not everything going perfect for MA at this event I personally had such a great day I would like to share a few thoughts with you.
As I stated what a day taking pictures of bands all day long thanks in part to a photo pass for the day and listening to great music from 11am to nearly midnight a day combining two of the loves of my life Rock and Roll and Photography also (I nearly forgot there the third) the occasional pint of really good ale.
Made my way into the photo pit for the customary first three number photography deal and after what seemed a few delays in setting up the familiar strains of Fading Colours powered its way out of the speakers a track so strong and atmospheric I think it will take something pretty special to replace it as set opener. From this point apologises if I have mixed the running order of any of the tracks (or even left out or added a track!!) I was concentrating so much on the camera I may have become confused but if memory serves me well next up was the up-tempo Passengers fave Caught In A Fold as good live as ever before the first Glass Shadows track Flowers For Guns 'three songs which got the set off to a rocking start.
Well that was it for the pit I was so thrilled to have the chance I wanted to play by all the rules so went out into the crowd to enjoy the rest of the set and take a couple of longer distance shots' of course we are all aware how short this set turned out to be! but that said the remaining three tracks all corkers beginning with for me the stand out live track that I I have heard from the new album Unoriginal Sin one of my favourite all time MA riffs and hopefully a live favourite for years to come.
I don't have say too much about the last two songs in the set the titles say it all Evergreen and Heroes Never Die in my opinion two of the best rock tracks ever recorded which live with the best of Purple, Zeppelin and on and on----- and it was lovely for Heroes to be dedicated to Howard Sparnenn .
A short set but for me very sweet and loved that the band came out and mingled for what seemed the rest of the evening really nice to see Heather so happy and healthy (of course why shouldn't she!) feeling as hot as I did while queuing to say hi I was a little concerned it would be too hot for her (must be all these years under hot stage lights prepares you for the heat of mammoth MA fan meets and greets!!) but she insisted she was fine and made my day by saying she and the band were very pleased with my article in the local papers before the Leamington show' as I told her there is very little I would not do for this band.
Overall I really enjoyed the day spent at the festival some great bands special mention to Breathing Space and Marillion of course favourites of mine but also thought The Reasoning were outstanding and of the other bands particularly enjoyed the wakeup call that was Taildragger (blues at 11. am!! worked for me) the prog rock of Touchstone and of course the lunacy that is Mr Otway but all bands gave great entertainment. Thanks also to the organisers all the very friendly staff and all the MA fans who kept me company at various times of the day you’re a great bunch, I hope very much to make it a longer stay at the event next year and hopefully Mostly Autumn will be back on the bill and maybe a longer set.

Andrew Lock