sxsw 2012

sxsw 2012
I’’m going to try to give an idea of what it’’s really like coping with sxsw. You’’ll probably find the detail wearisome and you’’ll probably be disgusted by some of the music. I have very Catholic tastes. But when I am too old and knackered to do it any more, maybe I’’ll read this back and wallow in the memories.
Getting up a 4 am to catch the 5 o’’clock coach to Heathrow was challenging, but actually there was something rather relaxing about being in town at that quiet time of day. Everybody on the coach was asleep apart from a couple at the back who had a blazing row which lasted the entire journey. What kind of energy must you have to fight at 5 am?
I’’ve never had such a lovely flight. Following the merger of Continental and United, there is over-capacity on transatlantic routes and the plane was less than a quarter full. I lay down across three seats and, after a lovely veggie lunch, used the three blankets and three pillows to create a bed and slept like a lamb for the entire flight.
Actually, I hadn’’t booked this route at all (via Newark). I’’d booked via Houston but received a casual email saying the route had been changed. This meant a very short connection in Newark, so I was hoping for a smooth immigration process. Inevitably, I chose the only queue with an over-zealous officer and a series of people with apparent problems. As the other queues were waved by with a smile, mine stubbornly refused to move. Then came security. The queue I chose was hijacked by a series of people in wheelchairs. In my panic, my natural inclination to give them the consideration they merited was almost overcome with a desire to shout “”Get out of the bloody way, can’’t you see I’’m in a hurry?”, – but not quite, of course. I literally ran all the way to the gate, huffing and puffing in at the last moment. On the plane, I sat next to a very nice Dutch agent. Unfortunately he had a streaming cough and cold and I had to try to face away from him while still maintaining a conversation. Buggered if I was going to let my sxsw be ruined by a cold.
My friend Paul was waiting at the airport and we headed straight for the Convention Centre to get my badge. As I’’d slept so well, there were no jet lag symptoms at all. I was desperate for a shrimp enchilada and luckily such an emporium was just opposite. The waitress tried to convince us that the obviously chain establishment was owned by her father.
We headed straight for the “British Embassy” at a club called Latitude just off Sixth Street. This is where, each year, a succession of usually mediocre and never to be heard of again UK bands play apparently at our expense. It certainly seems from the brochure as if many of them are funded by local councils. I wonder how many council taxpayers are aware of their cash being used for these guys to have a full scale jolly and try to further their careers in the States? In effect, all the bands just play to each other, as there is a distinct lack of local accents. “Thank you Austin,” they all chant as they announce their long-awaited final numbers. Among those playing this year were Charlie from Busted (honestly) and the ghastly Frank Turner.
One of the quirks of my annual visit is that I have to write about bands from my area for the local paper. Frank Turner is the only “famous” rocker ever to have come from Winchester (apart from Mike Batt but he does’’t count). I really am not impressed by Frank Turner. It’’s not so much that he’’s an old Etonian pretending to be a man of the people, it’’s more that the songs are so poor and the performance so full of bluster. But I had to get a photo of him, so in we went. It turned out to be a good move, because we caught a great band from Wales called Future Of The Left, who were highly political and roared like buffaloes on heat. After that, Frank Turner announced he was going to play his “hits”. I wasn’’t aware he had any.
After a nice sleep in the Homestead Suite which was home for the week, it was time to make some of the awful decisions that have to be made every few minutes at sxsw. At any given time, there are probably at least twenty bands you’’d like to see, all playing miles away from each other. Plus there are loads you never get to find out about. The daytime “fringe”, mainly situated round the South Congress area, is now at least as big as the festival itself. Daytime activities on the Day Stage of the Convention Centre have become much more exciting than they used to be, and here you can catch many of the “buzz bands” in the almost plushy comfort of this large seated venue, complete with huge, dreamy bean bags. Thus it was that we were able to see three acts in just over an hour: Michael Kiwanuka (I think it may have been his US debut) being very pleasantly soulful, the lovely Whitehorse, (Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland demonstrating their new-found technological expertise in the adjacent Brush Square) and then back to the Day Stage for the rightly much-anticipated Alabama Shakes. They fit the bill for the Adele audience perfectly and it’s not unrealistic to imagine similar success for them.
Now here’’s an odd thing. As well as the clashes, there are moments when there’’s nothing to do. Such was the case next, so we wandered over to the South Congress area. This is where all the cool art galleries and eateries are, plus the yards where band after band can be found playing, so there’s always some music to catch. After another round of shrimp fajitas (I could have them for breakfast, lunch and tea for the rest of my life), plus some happy hour beers (Dos Equis, two dollars a bottle), we hung around for some great music featuring Scrappy Judd Newcombe and an unidentified vocalist who looked as if he were about to die but sang like an angel. Then, via the already burgeoning mayhem of Sixth, we caught Jeff Klein’’s My Jerusalem at Trinity Hall.
Emo’s has been re-named The Main, which caused a bit of confusion. We got there early for Jimmy Cliff, whom I’’d never seen. It was an acoustic set, which was unexpected, and took forever to set up. And then, how do I put this? The lovely “Many Rivers To Cross”, “You Can Get It If You Really Want”, “The Harder They Come” etc. were rather spoiled by the fact that Jimmy’’s flies were gaping open throughout the entire set. Well, I’’m sorry, but it ruined the vibe, because everyone was talking about it and pointing at it but no one liked to say anything. Shame.
I’’d heard of Dry The River (or maybe it was one of the many other bands which have river in their name), so off we went to the Red Eyed Fly. Well, I hadn’’t done my research, because they weren’’t American but British. They were weird, but not in a good way. There was something disconcerting about the giant tattooed bassist leaping on and off the drum riser and then introducing the next song in a fey Home Counties accent entirely at odds with the image. I’’d expected something authentic, which this certainly wasn’’t.
It’’s always worth paying a visit to the 18th Floor of the Hilton, a tranquil oasis away from the mayhem. Freedy Johnson was lovely there at midnight, playing “Cruel To Be Kind” on a ukelele. One of the highlights of the week actually, and how nice to relax on a comfy seat.
That day’’s final madness was the misguided idea Paul had that a band featuring Wayne Coyne’’s nephew from Oklahoma must signal a secret show from the Flaming Lips. It didn’’t, but they were fun nonetheless. Not enough fun to prevent us from heading for the hotel though.
Thursday was going to be Springsteen day. Attendance at his show was to be decided by lottery. So far so good, but the winners were to be notified by email. My phone wasn’’t so technically adept, so I was reduced to asking people if I could borrow their iPhones to check. I never heard anything, but soon was cursing my stupidity.
No one knew where the concert was to take place, but I should have spotted it. I’’d noted down Low Anthem, one of my favourite bands, as a show to go to at the Moody Theater. Straight after was Alejandro Escovedo, followed by nothing. As Alejandro and Springsteen share a manager, it was bloody obvious what was going to happen – and I failed to realize. Pathetic. Anyway, first we had something else to see: Luke Doucet and a huge array of guitarists at Trinity Hall, accompanied, I’’m pleased to say, by delicious breakfast tacos courtesy of Six Shooter Records. Yum.
But time waits for no one, and particularly when it’’s a question of getting into the Cedar Street Courtyard. This is arguably my favourite sxsw venue, a small open-air quadrangle with a stage at one end, capacity about 200 I guess. The showcase I had spotted showed an afternoon sequence, in this order, of Band Of Skulls, Kaiser Chiefs and Keane. Few things are as thrilling as being very close to a huge band, even if they aren’’t necessarily your favourites. Last year it was the Bangles (bliss) and the year before it was Primal Scream (brain-scrambling). This year it was essential to be in the front row for Band Of Skulls because, guess what, they’’re from Hampshire. But to achieve all this, you have to go several hours early and tolerate the innumerable supports, because obviously a show such as this will be ridiculously over-subscribed.
Well, it’’s very annoying for someone like me, who prefers things to be as they should. Admission to this showcase was supposed to be only for those who have RSVPd in advance and received an acknowledgement, a procedure which I had dutifully followed weeks before. In the event, what actually happens is that they simply randomly let everyone in regardless until it’’s full. Luckily I knew this, which was why we arrived two hours in advance. Imagine how furious you’’d be if you arrived, having carried out all the application procedure, and couldn’’t get in because of the place being full of uninviteds? Basically, they shouldn’’t even bother with the rigmarole in the first place.
Duly installed dangerously in front of the speakers, we settled down for the afternoon surrounded by lots of affable and mildly intoxicated new friends. The first band were awful Simple Minds clones, the second were certifiably insane and the third was Band Of Skulls. They have deservedly gone mega in the States and I genuinely felt proud to come from (near) Southampton. Plus they are all very photogenic, by which I mean that photos come out showing them as they actually are, rather than gurning. Next up: Kaiser Chiefs, loads of fun, swaggeringly confident and essentially going through the motions, but still a thrill greater than you’’d get from seeing them in a stadium. Keane were quite unable to follow them. I’’m sorry, but you don’’t come to Austin without a guitar.
It goes without saying that any spaces between acts are always filled by lengthy walks, interspersed with sticking your head into venues (almost every building is a venue) and catching a moment or two of random unidentified bands. I wanted to see Portland’’s Laura Gibson but got the time wrong (just the first in series of blunders). This meant tolerating a succession of no-hopers at the Red Eyed Fly. Happily, Laura and her band brought a blessed element of subtlety and relief.
I’’d been recommended The War On Drugs, so after sitting on the kerb eating a huge lukewarm chunk of pizza, I headed to the Mohawk Patio early, fearful of crowds. I ended up crushed against the front of the stage, far too close to the speakers. In fact, my ears are still ringing a week later. It meant that the sound was so distorted that I couldn’’t work out whether I actually liked them or not. I’’ll have to give them another go.
What followed was an unexpected highlight. Billed at the Hilton (ground floor) was “”Special Guest (Framingham, UK)”. All the acts are listed together with their provenance. This could, of course, only mean Ed Sheeran, so I got there early, assuming it would be rammed, with queues round the block. Ed was doing several other shows during the week, all in much bigger venues. But that was without reckoning on the difference of tastes between the UK and the US, nor the way that careers develop at different rates in different countries. Basically, the place was half empty, and it was only a small hotel conference room anyway, laid out, cabaret style, with tables, chairs and candles. At first I blundered straight into Ed’’s dressing room and had to beat a hasty retreat. Then (I’’d had a couple of drinks), I marched straight to the front and sat down at a table by the stage. This gave a good vantage point, firstly for the excellent Marcus Foster, then for Ed himself.
Bloody hell, he’’s good. I am instinctively prejudiced against anything commercially successful, particularly if bound up with Brit Awards and the like. Also, the “solo bloke with acoustic guitar and loop pedals” concept is so hackneyed. Well, not this time. He’’s ridiculously talented as a songwriter, uses the gizmos brilliantly and brought the house down with his rapping. At the end (he always does this but I’’d forgotten), he clambered on top of my very table and did a couple of unamplified songs. He was wearing very baggy shorts and it was tempting to point my camera up them. I resisted.
By the end of the long walk home, I was knackered enough to cancel morning appointments and opt to sleep instead. Just as well, since it would be another long day. It started with the beginning of a ridiculous but magical Chuck Prophet odyssey. He was playing at the excellent Ginger Man Pub, not even listed as a venue, but centrally placed and with a great patio and stage. Here I found a nest of UK promoters, all discussing the Springsteen show. Apparently it had been possible just to walk in there unchallenged. There’’d even been empty seats. People were saying it hadn’’t been anything special – – phew. In fact, a couple of songs into Chuck’’s set, all the talk was about Chuck being significantly more exciting. Basically, you’’ve never seen a better rock band. His band is astounding and the new songs from “Temple Beautiful” uniformly appealing. And Chuck’s guitar shredding is beyond belief. So when Peter Buck stepped up and joined in the “You Did” finale, it was more that anyone could ever have hoped for on a Friday lunchtime.
Time for a bit of comfort at the Day Stage. The target was Blitzen Trapper but I arrived in time for the end of Ben Kweller’’s set. This guy was being hyped all over the place, on billboards, buses and taxis, but it was hard to see why. Blitzen Trapper were much more interesting.
Next was a long trek to a venue called Lustre Pearl. On the way, we saw a bleeding guy who’’d been knocked off his bike. More of this later. The show was organized by the same magazine as the previous day’’s Cedar Street showcase, so needless to say the same chaotic admission procedure reigned and my RSVP was cheerfully ignored, indeed laughed at. Eventually we saw snatches of Deerhof (good) and The Drums (Strokes clones) but the call of hunger was irresistible and a visit to a nearby chain burger joint reinforced what we really already knew: avoid chain burger joints.
Then I did something silly. Keen to see M. Ward, I set off for a small venue called Frank. Wandering past a quarter mile queue (they call them “lines” over there), I vaguely wondered who was causing it, until I got to the venue and realized it was the front of the queue. Bloody stupid, of course I should have realized M. Ward was far too big for a little venue and that I should have gone along hours early. Nevertheless, I joined the line but it didn’’t move at all and eventually we were informed that it was “one out, one in”. So that’’ll mean getting in some time next week then.
But there was an alternative. Over at Joe’’s on South Congress, Alejandro Escovedo’s Orchestra was about to start playing. But it was a hell of a long walk, so the time had come to try out the ubiquitous bike rickshaws. I was a little surprised that a clutch of them declined to take me when I said where I wanted to go. “”No thanks man, that’’s up a hill”,” was the response. Eventually one agreed to do it for twenty dollars. It was actually a bit hair-raising. Austin prides itself on its eco-friendliness, but it hasn’’t really got its act properly together. Taxis are not to be found in the centre during sxsw because gridlock reigns and they’’d never get anywhere. The status of the rickshaws seems vague. As we trundled along the road, motorists charged dangerously by, honking at us to get out of the way. So then we took to the sidewalk, whereupon we were quite rightly shouted at by angry pedestrians. On a couple of occasions I had to dismount because we couldn’’t get through gaps left by parked cars. Anyway, we eventually got to Joe’’s, where a huge crowd was being entertained by the orchestra. There were no “special guests” but a great version of “Rock The Casbah”.
It was back to the mayhem of Sixth for a moment, where I was tapped on the shoulder and turned to find the son of a friend of mine from Cornwall. That’’s crazy! As was Grant Hart, who I was interested to see because Bob Mould was in town performing “Copper Blue” but I couldn’’t work out where. Hart was shambling alone in front of a sparse audience and appeared to have no teeth. I lasted thirty seconds.
Shearwater was strange too. They’’ve suddenly turned into a rock band, losing two of their most important members (drummer Thor and bassist Kim Burke). They were good but had lost much of their original appeal and I wonder whether audiences on their forthcoming Euro tour will feel short-changed? I was cheered up by bumping into my friend Al James from Dolorean but shocked to find the beers at Red Seven cost 6 dollars each. Cheek!
Saturday started with something very pleasant, a secret show from Laura Gibson and band in her hotel room, complete with delicious breakfast courtesy of her record company. Things like that are so special . But the rest of the day was to be Chuck Day. Paul had decided he wanted to follow Chuck round Austin because he was so bloody good. Paul had a car, I was feeling less inclined to rush around checking out other artists and basically, the idea was irresistible. So there we were at Jovita’s, drinking beer at 1 pm (it feels deliciously decadent) and having our brains blown out by the storming Mission Express. Someone videoed lots of this show, try putting Chuck Prophet, Jovitas into You Tube. The ear to ear grins sported by the entire band tell you everything.
After a few minutes of the Waco Brothers it was off to the wonderful Yard Dog Gallery courtyard for the next Chuck instalment. This was enlivened by two power cuts, which hardly seemed to matter, because the audience just kept on singing until it was sorted out. Noticing that Ian Mclagan would be playing at the Yard Dog later, we zipped over to Maria’’s Taco Express, where the impeccably dapper Alejandro Escovedo was presiding over his annual taco party and a huge array of bands of wildly differing style and quality. Plus gorgeous food and margaritas. Back at Yard Dog, the Mekons’’ Jon Langford and the indefatigable Ian McLagan were finishing off the day in style. Austin residents and expat Brits both, they sum up the joy of being a musician in this particular town. Mac observed that he had now lived in the US as long as he had lived in London. He also invited everyone to visit Austin outside of sxsw, when there is still masses of music to choose from.
Getting towards the end now, I had a hankering to check out hotly-tipped new Scottish band Django Django, and it was worth it. Despite being at the oddly-shaped and very uncomfortable Latitude club, they impressed with their stoned synths and raging percussion. Plus their bassist was a dead ringer for Thomas Dolby (who was also in town somewhere). In fact, they were a pretty oddball bunch all round.
My plan was to finish off the week with a nice quiet dose of Hurray For The Riff Raff, but it turned out they had actually been on at 12. 30 lunchtime rather than midnight, so the trip had been fruitless. The only solution was another rickshaw (and another complaint about pedalling uphill) back to the Continental Club for a final helping of Chuck, preceded by a frighteningly loud Jon Dee Graham and Freedy Johnson, quite different from the acoustic version previously encountered. I don’’t know if it’’s true, but it’’s claimed that Elvis once played at the Continental, and it certainly feels as if the spirit of rock and roll is embedded in its walls.
And so to bed and a completely uneventful trip home. Next year i’s already booked.

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Live reviews published in Record Collector 2004 0nwards (small selection)

Kilkenny Roots

1 – 4 May 2015

Kilkenny, Ireland

View: Craic-ed up

The “friendliest little festival in the world” got off to a sensational start with a searing performance from John Murry. Looking and acting increasingly like a baddie in some deranged silent movie, Murry with his pick-up band killed Pavement’s Shady Lane before debuting new songs that indicate that his next album might even outdo the award-winning Graceless Age. Nominal Kilkenny bill-toppers were Calexico, whose panoramic and super-slick show at the plush Set Theatre ended up in mass partying. Male / female folk duos slugged it out in the form of London’s The Rails and Saskatoon’s Kacy And Clayton, both vying for the title of the new Fairports. In terms of commercial appeal, the highly-accessible Sons Of Bill seem set for mainstream success, but the band that Kilkenny clasped closest to its bosom was Montreal’s Barr Brothers. Their category-defying world / folk / blues virtuosity proved that there really is room for a harp in rock and roll.


South By South West Festival

Austin, Texas

17 – 22 March 2015

View: Dampish

After last year’s overcrowding and huge headliners, it felt like a conscious move back towards the original spirit of sxsw. With the help of some rain, it was quiet enough to return to the core task of seeking out hot new bands. American Aquarium, a Springsteenesque outfit from North Carolina, drew attention, as did Virginia’s classic rockers Sons Of Bill. On the country front, Andrew Combs looks set for stardom. At Hotel San Jose, a slightly damp showcase symbolised the genre-bending line-ups that make sxsw so special: Carl Barât, Gang Of Four and cool new band Houndmouth mixed it with The Zombies. Who’d have thought that the voice of the festival would be that of 70 year old Colin Blunstone? The best live band in the world right now is Chuck Prophet And The Mission Express, who were stalked by RC as they did nine shows in three days. Imminent breathroughs included Australia’s Courtney Barnett and Germany’s super-accessible Milky Chance, but only one outfit demonstrated the clear power to conquer the States. The ridiculously frantic energy levels and in-your-face enthusiasm of the Pogues-ish Skinny Lister mean that a Mumford-style triumph is inevitable. And you haven’t lived until you’ve been crowd-surfed over by someone playing a double bass.


Sleaford Mods

Joiners, Southampton


View: Behind a six foot seven man

If this is the future of rock, forget it. Not because they aren’t any good, but simply because of the audience’s demographic: forties and fifties. If Sleaford Mods revive the spirit of punk (which they sort of do), it’s not an introduction of punk to a new generation, it’s old punks reliving their youth. Sleaford Mods are a lot of entertaining fun. There’s Jason Williamson with a severe case of Tourettes, who jogs round in circles, gobs on the stage and wiggles his tongue, shouting like a cross between Eminem and John Cooper Clarke. Arguably even more entertaining is Andrew Fearn, whose role is to swig Corona, check his phone, do a mild grandad dance and, every ninety seconds, press a button on his laptop, like a grinning, emaciated John Shuttleworth. Williamson’s profane lyrics are actually very clever, with nifty wordplay, relevant themes and caring attitudes, rewarding repeated listening on the vinyl which, interestingly, at least a quarter of the audience walked away with. They ain’t here for the long haul (there aren’t enough real tunes for that), but go see them while they last. They sure are different, and in a bland musical environment, that counts for a lot.


Judith Owen

The Cellars, Southsea


View: Hunched on a stool

This was a strange show. Why has a flame-haired Welsh songstress recorded an album of her songs with some of the finest session musicians America has to offer? And what enables her to bring those very musicians to a cosy back street pub in Southsea? There’s legendary drummer Russ Kunkel and dreamy bassist Lee Sklar, although advertised guitarist Waddy Wachtel is inexplicably absent. It may possibly be to do with Judith’s husband, none other than Spinal Tap’s Derek Smalls (Harry Shearer). The band is promoting Judith’s new album Ebb And Flow and the show contains not only some of the rambling songs of Laurel Canyon philosophy it contains, but also some reworkings of songs by artists they originally worked with, such as Carole King’s “It Might As Well Rain Until September” and James Taylor’s “Hey Mister, That’s Me Up On The Jukebox”. More bizarrely still, Judith likes to completely rework some popular classics, in this case Mungo Jerry’s “In The Summertime” and David Dundas’ “Jeans On”. The musicians, despite barely breaking into a sweat, are sublime, but the question is, is the world ready for a cross between Tori Amos and Lyndsey De Paul? Maybe. “This is just the start of something much bigger”, says Judith, confidently. We shall see.



Salisbury City Hall


View: Air-conditioned

Desperately eager to please, it would be hard to imagine a less suitable Eels support act then toothsome duo Daughters of Davis. It was probably a typical bit of ghoulish E-style humour paving the way for a long series of what the dapper Everett called “soft rock bummers” – two minute laments such as “Parallels” from new album The Cautionary Tales Of Mark Oliver Everett, culminating in the saddest song ever written, “It’s A Motherfucker”. There was a valedictory feel to this last date of a 53-date tour (“nursing 52 hangovers”, as E put it). Bookended by two tear-jerking standards, “When You Wish Upon A Star” and “Can’t Help Falling In Love”, were energetic re-workings of Eels favourites “Fresh Feeling” And “I Like Birds”. Not since Chuck Berry has an artist been so adept at recycling his own songs while still retaining the affection of his audience. We’ll forgive him anything.


Jesse Malin

Dingwalls, London


View: Crouching

It’s been four years since Jesse Malin played in the UK and the audience was psyched up after a strong introductory set from Hollis Brown. The interim has been spent writing and recording a new album, which on first live hearing sounds to be stuffed with characteristically affecting songs. The diminutive New York road warrior exudes rock and roll charm and comes with the band that helped him record the new material, featuring guitarist Mike Montali and extremely dapper bassist Don DiLego. Apart from a confusing incident when too much instrument swopping went wrong and they lost their way, this made for a storming show with some moments of pure beauty, such as when the whole audience sat down, hippie-style, for the gorgeous “Bar Life”. Jesse has a great way with an anecdote and charmed the midweek audience with his fury at press accusations of being “alt-country”. New songs like “Addicted” and “Year I was Born” vied for attention with old favourites “Wendy” and “Hotel Columbia”. Let’s hope this marks the start of a Malin revival.


End Of The Road Festival


29 August – 21 September 2014

View: Bucolic

Considering that half the bands here have been influenced by Pavement, it was a joy to hear Stephen Malkmus, master of the contorted guitar, in action. By contrast, Jenny Lewis was as poppy as this festival gets, as the chill wind blew around her. The first exclusive was the cumbersomely-named Gene Clark – No Other Band (featuring Robin Pecknold of Fleet Foxes and the often sadly overlooked Iain Matthews, plus a Vegas-style compère). There were some truly beautiful voices here and a blockbusting encore of Eight Miles High.

New names making breakthroughs included Montreal’s Barr Brothers, cementing the role of the harp in rock and roll and sounding uncannily like The Low Anthem in so doing. Andrew Combs also charmed, as did the fragile but bewitching Tiny Ruins. Forthcoming plaudits for young Benjamin Booker as the new indie Hendrix are inevitable – and deserved. One exciting and unexpected show was the blazing psychedelia of Sean Lennon’s new band The Ghost Of A Saber Tooth Tiger, almost giving the Flaming Lips a run for their money.

Talking of whom … It was a joyful enough festival anyway, but Wayne Coyne and gang ratcheted up the happiness meter to the level of ecstasy. With their skill at turning a potential shambles into a technological multi-media masterpiece, they amazed and thrilled everyone from kids to grandparents. The organisers of this brilliant festival will have to go some to top this next year.


Oliver Gray

Wickham Festival


14 – 17 August 2014

View: “VIP”

From Bellowhead to James Blunt, Wickham Festival 2014 enhanced its reputation for relaxed musical randomness. Equally reviled and adored, Blunt boosted attendance figures to the extent that camping chairs were banned – controversial. The energetic skanking of Neville Staple (close your eyes and it’s the Specials) interrupted the general drowsiness of Friday afternoon. Hazel O’Connor is still playing Breaking Glass songs but now in a quite charming cabaret trio format. An almost unchanged Hugh Cornwell played some Stranglers numbers (close your eyes and it’s definitely not the Stranglers) and embarrassingly got an enthusiastic response when asking how many audience members read the Daily Mail. Among the enormous sub bill, two new acts stood out – Tankus The Henge and Connecticut’s Caravan Of Thieves – so good they were asked to play twice. They covered Bohemian Rhapsody and lived to tell the tale. It was left to a genial Steve Earle to be crowned as the highlight by delivering a crowd-pleasing set of hits. Wickham’s Boomers wear their bus passes with pride, and have a lot of fun on the way.


Truck Festival

Steventon, Oxford

17 -19 July 2014

View: Hobgolinned

In past years, Truck has endured travails such as floods and insolvency. Not this time, though. Happiness was the keynote of the weekend, as a sell-out crowd escaped the corporate nature of bigger festivals and concentrated on the music. The main stage paid host to a stream of slightly dated synth-based indie rock from the likes of White Lies and The Twilight Sad, all of them dwarfed by a dramatic set from local heroes Stornoway. Slow Club’s performance was frustrating, starting off enthusiastically and fizzling out in a bunch of mediocre songs, before Roots Manuva got things moving again. Of the main headliners, The Cribs were the most polished, while riotous duo Deap Vally caused the most controversy and a discreet veil needs to be drawn over the latest version of Gang Of Four. Continung the cheerful eclecticism, British soul-rockers Danny And The Champions Of The World brought the house down – twice, while musical joy could be found in adventurous sets from lesser-known (but very Truckish) acts like Chris T-T, Co-Pilgrim and the twinkling Steven James Adams (ex of the Broken Family Band). Pure fun in the sun.


The Delines

The Art Bar, Oxford

14 June 2014

View: Comfy

The vibe is that of a smoky nightclub as the Delines hit the fourth show of their debut UK tour. Intended originally as a side project from Richmond Fontaine, this band has taken off in an unexpected way, with sell-out notices every night. Amy Boone’s voice has been compared to Dusty Springfield – the ultimate accolade, and what is striking is that Willy Vlautin has written his most affecting set of songs ever. There’s a satisfyingly organic vibe to songs like Colfax Avenue and I Won’t Slip Up, country soul that grabs your heart, but the variety is clever too – from the almost trip-hop of Flight 31 to a brace of drinking songs, one of them a cover of What One Bottle Can Do by Al James of Dolorean. Bassist Freddy Trujillo chips in with his own Freddy Fender while pianist Cory Gray adds colour to some of the songs with virtuoso trumpet. You get the feeling this is a story that’s only just beginning.



Salisbury City Hall


View: Unimpeded

The significant looks when a mistake is made, the relieved grins at the end of each song – such are the tell-tale signs of the first night of a tour. Mind you, it’s forgivable when your benchmark track is the 23-minute long “Nine Feet Underground”, written in 1971 by the absent David Sinclair. Indeed, only the statuesque Pye Hastings remains from the original line-up, although stalwarts like Geoff Richardson and Jan Schelhaas have been around for a long while. Caravan have a new album called Paradise Filter and it’s not very proggy. Many of the new songs which formed the bulk of the set, including I’ll Be There For You and the title track, are actually quite conventional rock / pop tunes, played mainly with great competence by the multi-instrumentalist Richardson. Among the small selection of oldies was a rather inappropriately funked-up version of Golf Girl. Back in the day, there was much swopping of members between Caravan and Camel. Now, in the battle of the unlikely prog comebacks, Camel are winning hands down.



The Barbican, London


View: Unimpeded

When a show starts with a standing ovation before a note has been played, something special is going on. “It’s good to be here”, said Andy Latimer. “At my age, it’s good to be anywhere”. Knowing his recent history of severe health problems, there was hardly a dry eye in the house; most of the audience had thought they’d never see this day. What’s more, as sole original member, Andy is on tip-top form, his guitar playing as rich as ever in tone and melody, and tough and gritty when required. The historic run-through of The Snow Goose (the first since the mid seventies) took up the first half, the musicianship precise, the atmosphere joyful. Nothing could replace the silken Hammond of Peter Bardens, but keyboardists Jason Hart and Guy LeBlanc do a grand job. This is one band for which “prog” never meant ”pretentious”. Part two saw an eclectic selection of Camel classics, some less successful than others. An acoustic intro to Never Let Go was scrappy and Fox Hill was ill-chosen, but For Today was reminiscent of Gary Moore at his best and by the time an ecstatic audience was being entranced by their biggest “hit” Lady Fantasy, it looked, sounded and felt as if Camel is back for good.


The Hoax

The Railway, Winchester


View: Squashed

An amazing fifteen years since their last studio album, the audience thought they were witnessing a miracle as the original Hoax line-up reconvened to present their new crowd-funded effort “Big City Blues”. This was the first date and the capacity blues addict audience was pleasingly tolerant of support act Well Hung Heart, featuring Hoax bassist Robin Davey and his wife Greta, sporting – yes – a lampshade, as she covered Radiohead’s “Creep”. You had to be there to appreciate the fun. With great courage, The Hoax blasted out the whole of the new album, which consists of snappy, grunge-bluesy two minuters like “Hipslicker” and “Let It Shine”, each with the kind of attention-grabbing hooks that got people joining in even though they had never heard them before. This is a new, leaner Hoax with the guitar battles between Jon Amor and Jesse Davey now heavily edited and all the more impressive for it. The band is, amazingly, hotter than it’s ever been before.


Wickham Festival

1 – 4 August

View: Among the picnic chairs

Wickham has discovered a lucrative way to attract festival-goers: Combine a trad folk fest with a bunch of retro pop and rock acts and pull in a crossover audience. It worked, as it was a sellout. A laidback crowd of mellow grandparents enjoyed the likes of Seth Lakeman, who could use some new creative input, and Show of Hands, whose eclectic approach and super-smooth professionalism mean they are always entertaining. The Waterboys impressed on their comeback and a version of 10CC hit the nostalgia button, while Dexys riled the audience by ignoring their hits. The seemingly never-ending supply of hoedown specialists (don’t mention the Peatbog Faeries’ bagpipes please) gave way on the final day to some classic and much-loved rockers. Wilko Johnson stormed through a high-energy set and even joined the Blockheads later. Not much in the way of new bands here, it’s not that sort of festival, but Public Service Broadcasting shone like a beacon of innovation and Southampton’s Sean McGowan triumphed against some leaking sound from the dire covers band in the next-door tent.



The Palmeira, Hove


View: Trampled underfoot

You may think that a festival of UK Americana and folk would be a laid-back affair but not in this case. By the time Danny George Wilson was leading his eight-piece Champions Of The World towards the late-night climax, the Palmeira pub had been turned into a massive, sweaty, pogoing moshpit, consisting largely of artists who’d previously been on stage and were now letting their hair down. Peter Bruntnell and his electric band had just finished a set of psychedelic rock of such power that the audience, after a day of hard drinking, was almost hysterical with joy. Two stages alternated throughout the day, with acoustic sets from gruff-voiced Jack Day and Radio Two’s favourite Liverpudlian Robert Vincent. But things took off with Welsh scallywags The Caves, sounding like a cross between The Hollies and Ash, and then the beautiful, wafting songs of Devon’s Small Town Jones, accompanied by guitarist of the day, the extraordinarily gifted Dave Little. Oxford’s Dreaming Spires added an indie touch before the Champs almost literally brought the house (well, the chandelier) down. Wild stuff.


John Murry

Bush Hall, London


View: Comfy

John Murry and his band Dark Matter’s show benefited the from the intimacy of what is surely London’s most atmospheric venue outside the Union Chapel. Murry was onstage during the support, duetting with Peter Bruntnell on the lovely Handful Of Stars. Starting the set dressed in a soon-abandoned flat cap, Murry had the audience transfixed as he revisited tracks from his extraordinary Graceless Age album. The music is squally rock, not the fey “Americana” with which he has been lazily tagged and Murry’s stage presence defies description, wavering between super rockstar confidence, nervous diffidence, wry humour, baffled innocence and twitchy edginess. He also plays a mean Telecaster, entwined with the potent lead guitar of Sean Coleman. But in the end, it’s all about the songs and the story of salvation from drug addiction. While the album is lushly produced, beautiful songs like California and Southern Sky take on harsh new dimensions, with the tour de force Little Colored Balloons being one of the world’s great live music experiences. Murry gives it absolutely everything every night and the audience simply melts. How does he do it?


World Party

Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth


View: Among friends

A rotund but chipper figure, Kark Wallinger shared the stage with a stripped down World Party consisting of the Blockheads’ Jon Turnbull on guitar and regular violinist David Duffy. The big mystery was how such a canon of genius songs can’t even fill a little venue like this. The avuncular Wallinger, seemingly a picture of contentment, took charge of every song from his substantial back catalogue, and out they tumbled. An interlude at the piano featured a celebratory “She’s The One”, while Duffy switched to mandolin for “Is It Like Today”. There wasn’t a person in the house not bellowing out the uniquely irresistible choruses of “Put The Message In The Box” and “Ship Of Fools”. The band were clearly relishing every moment and by the time they were encoring with Way Down Now, the audience was consumed with a wave of emotion, shouting out their love for Wallinger. “Don’t be silly now” was all the self-deprecating star would say, as the audience continued to bellow the Stonesian “whoo whoos” out into the night.


Ray Davies

Southampton Guildhall


View: Installed in the stalls

Why does Ray Davies keep running off stage every few minutes? Speculation was rife. Surely not drugs at his age? A weak bladder, maybe? Suddenly, someone spotted it: “Look, he’s changed his shoes!” This was a fun, nostalgic evening of hits, but the workmanlike band made it a long way away from the excitement of the Kinks. You definitely had the feeling of a job being done the same way as every night, with singalongs encouraged and compliments paid to the wonderful Southampton crowd (same as any other). The most poignant moments came not with the throwaway versions of the hit singles but rather with the beautiful and still tear-jerking “Celluloid Heroes” and a lovely acapella version of “Days”. Ray almost met his match in the form of support act Small Town Jones, drafted in at the last minute to melt the audience’s hearts and empty their pockets at the merch stand.


Alabama Shakes
Birmingham HMV Institute
11 May 2012
View: Squashed

Alabama Shakes must be feeling strange right now. Just months after their UK debut in a London pub, here they found their show being upgraded from the Institute’’s smallest room to its largest. With just the one Boys And Girls album and less than an hour’’s worth of music to play, they faced a rowdy and inattentive Friday night audience and, frankly, didn’’t deliver. The number of people complaining about their neighbours chatting loudly through all the (many) quiet sections must reveal something about the band’’s ability to grip an audience. The most common comment in the room was “”Give it six months and Brittany Howard will be a solo artist”” and the most noticeable thing about the band was the complete absence of any interpersonal communication or indeed enthusiasm. Which is a real shame, because Howard is an undisputed talent. She uses that extraordinary voice in clever and subtle ways (perhaps too clever for this goodtime crowd, who only seemed to recognize “Hold On”) and her underrated guitar playing is particularly impressive. The band? Well, remember the expression Sleeperblokes? They’’re back, folks. Those expecting Adele-style rapture were deeply disappointed.


Richmond Fontaine / Richard Buckner / Peter Bruntnell
Cecil Sharp House, London
View: Reverential

The folkies of Cecil Sharp House had never heard the like. Guitarist Dan Eccles was on all fours as a good five minutes of controlled feedback provided the coda to an extraordinary re-working by Richard Buckner of The Cars’’ Candy-O. This was the climax of a show which reinvented the package tour, as Buckner, designated driver Peter Bruntnell and the Richmond Fontaine duo of Eccles and Willy Vlautin first did their own sets and then linked up for the finale. Bruntnell’’s invariably excellent songwriting went down well (new songs included London Clay and Caroline). Using all manner of guitar trickery, Richard Buckner presented a career-spanning set in the form of clusters of five or six songs, merging into each other in mesmerising fashion. As for Richmond Fontaine, there’’s a uniqueness in the way their gripping songs of death and disappointment are presented in an atmosphere of the utmost good humour. This rainy London evening provided fantastic value for the sold-out crowd.

Kathleen Edwards
Islington Academy
View: Plush balcony

It was one of those never-to-be-forgotten moments. Alone on stage, battling to articulate the meaning of her song “House Full Of Empty Rooms”, Kathleen Edwards gives up. “”Shit, fuck”,” she spits, and the tears begin to flow both from her and the audience. Such a sassy, confident, stomping stage performer and yet so vulnerable to pent-up emotion. Something about London seems to bring out the best in her, as she seemed truly emotional about the audience’’s reaction to her performance. Starting with a cool double whammy from the new Bon Iver-produced Voyageur album (Empty Threat and Chameleon / Comedian), Kathleen satisfied all wishes with a chunk of new songs and a ready scattering of favourites such as Asking For Flowers and a truly storming Back To Me. She sure knows how to pick a band too. Long-standing bassist John Dinsmore is joined by drummer Lyle Molzan, Daniel Ledwell on keys (causing hysterics on stage and in the audience with emergency mid-song repairs) and a stunning replacement for Colin Cripps in the form of long tall guitarist Gord Tough. Cool and calm, his soloing nevertheless elicited several outbursts of mid-song applause. Kathleen has a beautiful voice, intriguing onstage manner, gorgeous songs and she bows a mean violin too. It was quite a night.

Windmill, Brixton
View: Slightly damp

Taylor Goldsmith has got the frontman thing down to a tee. Unbroken eye contact with the front row and others behind ensures that the ladies in the audience gently melt (almost literally, as the heat means that droplets of warm rain are falling on their heads). Then, as he throws out the very precise and tuneful guitar solos which pepper each song, the musos are entranced as well. Add in an entire album’s worth of killer songs and you have a band whose future is secure. Goldsmith has a happy knack of pronouncing all his lyrics in such a way that you can hear every word – – very unusual in rock and roll. No wonder Dawes’ fans and collaborators include Glen Dampbell and Jackson Browne. Playing pretty much the whole of their aptly-titled “Nothing Is Wrong” album (although not necessarily in the right order) means that one melodic gem after the other tumbles out, accompanied by an audience which knows them all by heart. Not even a recalcitrant Wurlitzer can ruin the general joy, with drummer (and brother) Griffin Goldsmith providing vital extra vocal muscle and a languid backbeat worthy of Mercury Rev. Following a truly majestic “So Well”, the climax is reached with the lyrically surreal “Time Spent In Los Angeles”. One of those “”I was there”” gigs.

Mark Eitzel / Richard Buckner
Buffalo Bar, Cardiff
View: Over a Buffalo Burger

A triple bill of extraordinary quality was kicked of by Sacri Cuori, an Italian minimalist instrumental trio with strong Calexico connections. Next up, the brilliant Mark Eitzel. Currently between albums, Mark here displayed his torch singing ability with classics like “I Left My Heart In San Francisco” and favourites such as “Gravity Talks” and “Nothing Changes”. If he sings anything new, he says, it’’s leaked on the internet within hours.
Performing his first UK shows in eight years, Richard Buckner was worried about following Eitzel, but it worked out fine. Backed with sympathetic precision by Sacri Cuori, the big man’’s downbeat, laconic melodies as displayed on his new album “Our Blood” were an understated treat.
A certain awkwardness about addressing the audience was summed up by an incident involving an injured finger and a snack in the front row. “”I’’m bleeding over your nuts”, observed Buckner wryly. “I bet you don’’t hear that every day”.

Truck Festival
Steventon, Oxford
22 – 24 July 2011
View: Sun-kissed

Big names were absent from the expanded Truck, unless you count Graham Coxon or St Etienne. Instead, the voguish Americana mode was embraced, making for a pleasant, low-key event. The over-clever Bellowhead contrasted with a triumphant set by the folk-soul of The Duke And The King, arguably band of the festival. Flop of the weekend was Philip Selway, who managed to empty the tent of people who were not angry, just bored. Following on, John Grant showed his accolades are deserved. There was an exciting breakthrough by the innovative Sea Of Bees and a life-affirming set from a hearteningly sprightly Edwyn Collins with his great session band. Caitlin Rose and Richmond Fontaine had acoustic fun in the sun, while, on the pop front, Young Knives revealed a debt to Blur. Interesting new acts included Oxford’s Spring Offensive and young Danes Treefight For Sunlight (although they should have refrained from destroying “Wuthering Heights”). Not a bad way to spend a weekend at all.

The Flaming Lips
Eden Project, Cornwall
30 June 2011

Free admission to the domes and an all-day programme featuring the likes the excellent OK Go (full marks for the multicoloured outfits) made this a grand value day out. And what more appropriate setting could be imagined for Wayne Coyne’’s traditional audience excursion in his very own geometric dome? The balloons, confetti and general bonhomie ensure that the audience is up and in a state of hysteria before the show is three minutes old. Among the newer material they resurrect “She Don’’t Use Jelly”, allowing some breathing space before a storming “Yoshimi” and encores of the ever-stunning “Race For The Prize” and “Do You Realize?” bring us back to fever pitch (not to mention a tear to the eye). Still endearing is the falsetto “”Thank You”” that Steven Drodz uses to acknowledge the adulation. He is the evil genius behind it all, after all. Meanwhile, they’’ll still be picking up the confetti from the Cornwall countryside this time next year.

Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter
Monto Water Rats, London
21 April 2011
View: Close

It was one of those classic London gig scenarios featuring noise leaking in from next door and endless support bands from hell, but nothing could faze these seasoned Seattle pros. Boldly easing themselves in with a lengthy instrumental (Weight Of Cancer), they had the audience entranced from the off. Playing almost all of their new album Marble Son (which deserves success of at least Fleet Foxian proportions), guitarist Phil Wandscher is very much to the fore with brilliantly broody, effect-laden soling. On the proggy Pleasuring The Divine he sounds much like the criminally under-rated Andrew Latimer of Camel. Between all this come Jesse’’s atmospheric close harmony songs such as Be It Me Or Be It None and the Sykes classic The Air Is Thin. A picture of concentration, she warms the audience’’s collective heart with her ethereal presence and her other-worldly voice. It’s only a matter of time.

The Low Anthem
Queen Elizabeth Hall, London
11 / 4 / 11
View: Closer than expected

Talk about snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. The most charming and memorable section of the Low Anthem’’s set came when they descended into the audience for fifteen minutes of acoustic songs while frazzled engineers battled with an imploding sound system. “Don’’t go back”, pleaded the audience, recognizing the obvious truth that this wonderful band simply doesn’’t require amplification. They accepted it themselves too: “We don’’t need any of this gear”, admitted Ben Knox Miller, promptly ceding the stage to a clarinet trio that could have come straight from a school assembly. A venue like this suits the band’’s intimacy but not their loud interludes, which they really should consider dropping. Completely at one with their audience (who dutifully accompanied This God Damn House with their mobile phones), they remained low-key after the interruption, climaxing with the brilliant Oh My God Charlie Darwin and Cohen’’s Bird On a Wire. How reassuring that such original, calm, understated music commands such a large following.

The Duke And The King
Electric Ballroom, London
27 / 10 / 10
View: Cosy

When people ask what The Duke And The King are like, the nearest I can get is a cross between Neil Young and Marvin Gaye. Certainly, their jaw-droppingly soulful singalong finale of Young’’s “Helpless” is one of current music’’s unique moments. This London show was slightly muted on account of a family bereavement in the band, but it felt like a breakthrough show for them nonetheless.
The musical pot-pourri of indie-cool Simone Felice, violin-toting soul diva Simi Stone, mountain minstrel Bobby Bird and yearning funk drummer Nowell Haskins (he’’s the son of P/Funk co-founder Clarence “”Fuzzy” Haskins) starts with what seems for a moment to be a standard alt-country strumalong with “If You Ever Get Famous”, then flattens the audience when Nowell’’s vocals kick in and you realize you’’re at a soul concert. It’’s spine-tingling, and it continues for over an hour, with all four members taking lead vocals and harmonizing barber-shop style.
And afterwards, of course, the band are all out socializing with their audience. It’’s a unique relationship, destined to be a long-lasting one.

C.W. Stoneking
Mr Kyps, Poole

View: Safely away from the talkers
Experiencing C.W. Stoneking is a bit like watching The Wire: for the first half you don’’t understand a word but by the end, you’’ve adjusted and relaxed into it. The Buster Keaton lookalike and ex-ventriloquist (he hardly opens his mouth throughout) has tales to tell as he delivers his “jungle blues” with the help of a battered tenor banjo, a National steel and a Dixieland brass section of cornet, trombone and tuba. Handyman Blues storms along, while Jungle Lullaby nearly morphs, Paolo Nutini-style, into I Wanna Be Like You. Even incorporating Jimmie Rogers-style yodelling into the spuriously explained jungle concept, it’s no wonder the folks of New Orleans were baffled by the arrival of the Australian bluesman and could only offer him a job in a hoodoo shop.
It’’s all charmingly entertaining but probably, in the great scheme of things, more of a novelty than a great work of art.


Southampton University

9 / 3 / 05

It’s lovely for the folk of Southampton to have a band to champion at last. Previously, they had to pretend to be proud of Craig David. Warmed up by the gorgeous retro chic of Winchester’’s Scarlet Soho, the crowd felt like one big family as the appropriate intro music of the Stones’ “We Love You” wafted out. Like a cross between the Four Seasons and the Small Faces, these guys are so tiny that they are almost obscured behind the bouncers standing a metre lower than them. “You And Me”, the first track on the new album (which the audience mysteriously already knows by heart) demonstrates Greg Gilbert’’s falsetto in all its glory. This is classic pop summed up in three minutes, and with two albums under their belts, they have an array of glittering tunes to choose from. New single “Valentine” breezes along like Odyssey-era Zombies. Behind the faded glamour there’’s real craftsmanship at work; they know their way round a hook, but they can rock out and charm an audience as well. Little blokes with bouffants rule, yes?


Royal Festival Hall, London

23 / 5 / 05

Since Eels concerts have been known to feature fist fights because of E’’s insistence on a seated, silent audience, the RFH must be his ideal venue. And the “special guests” turn out to be a Russian animated children’’s film. Eels’ unpredictability is almost becoming predictable. To be fair, he couldn’’t turn up at some rock dive with this Butch-less (i.e. drummer-less, not really Eels at all) band, complete with nubile string quartet. Hardly a song on “Blinking Lights” is more than two minutes long, so there’’s very much a “classical” feel, with each brief “movement” being politely applauded. With his crumpled Charlie Chaplin suit, cane and ever-present cigarette, it’s purely the E Show, although something that is new and works brilliantly is the blending of strings, pedal steel and saw. Apologizing for maybe disappointing us (he even disguised “Bus Stop Boxer”, “Birds” and “Dog Faced Boy” as requests for the Queen), E really needs to learn that he can actually do what he likes and we WON’’T MIND!

The Hollies

Basingstoke Anvil

20 / 10 / 05

View: From the Bus Stop (only kidding, folks)

Stylish threads, snappy guitars, cracking tunes and cool haircuts: … it could only be Franz Ferdinand. Or, indeed, the Hollies. With a new deal, their first original album in two decades due in February, and offical endorsement from the likes of My Morning Jacket and Fountains of Wayne, the Hollies are on quite a roll. Peter Howarth might have been born to front the Hollies, so perfectly does he fill the role. In among all the hits (many now expanded from three to four part harmonies), he unexpectedly inserts solo acoustic adaptations of “Here I Go Again” and Springsteen’’s “Sandy” which contend with any of today’s singer-songwriters and knock spots off James Blunt (ironic, in view of the fact that their best new song is called “So Damn Beautiful”). Both Bobby Elliott and Tony Hicks have drunk from the fountain of youth, and the new young Hollies members have rejuvenated the band. To be chucking in vital-sounding new songs and reinterpreting most of the old ones is pretty energetic stuff after 42 years on the road. And as Hicks launches into a spectacular Lynyrd Skynyrd style coda on “Look Through Any Window”, you wonder why they’’ve never been treated with the respect they deserve. Michael Eavis, put them on the Pyramid Stage on Sunday afternoon at Glastonbury 2007. Imagine that lot singing along with “He Ain’’t Heavy, He’’s My Brother”.

Cerys Matthews

Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

21 / 7 / 06

Cerys claimed that she’’d been the first band member to reach the hotel lobby, so keen was she to get onstage after a six-year absence. How pleasing it is to report that what seemed to be one of the UK’’s lost treasures is back in style, beauty, good health and fine voice. A small frisson passed over the crowd as, three songs in, Cerys and her crack band of long-haired instrument-swopping Nashville musos treated us to “Lost Cat”, but it was the only reference to either her Catatonia past or her more recent country dabblings. Clutching a guitar for most of the hour-long set, and with the occasional false start and nervous glance revealing that this was the start of a new project, she proved she certainly hasn’’t lost her way with a tune. With both the little girl lost falsetto and the Rhondda Roar fully intact (albeit with an accent which combines Tennessee and Swansea), a good-humoured Cerys gave notice that her new “Never Said Goodbye” album is going to be a cracker and that her new career is going to be as exciting as the old one. Who’’d have thought it?

End Of The Road Festival

Dorset, UK

17 / 9 / 06

View: Scrumpy-addled

Just when we thought there was no gimmick left to plunder, we realize we’’d overlooked tap dancing. The unfairly pulchritudinous Tilly On The Wall are certainly the first band since Mungo Jerry to feature miked-up stomping boards. It would scream “short-lived gimmick” were it not for some super Abba-style tunes and harmonies. Howe Gelb can be either slick or shambolic. Today (sans moustache and gospel choir), he was in semi-shambolic mode, but that’’s when he is at his most endearing. His version of PJ Harvey’s “The Desperate Kingdom Of Love” squared the circle between Arizona and Dorset. Despite (or probably because of) Ryan Adams’ “drumming”, Jolie Holland was a major disappointment, but Richard Hawley’’s modern-day crooning cheered things up a lot, as did the harmony pop of Jim Noir, by no means as bleak as his name might imply. Plus, he had stolen Howe Gelb’’s moustache. As Ryan Adams’ carpet techs hit the stage (don’’t ask), the word was that he was “being “an arse”” backstage, but this turned out to be a measured and incident-free performance. Neal Casal has brought equilibrium with him and traded extended licks with the main man on “Cold Roses” and on numerous examples of what Adams terms his “”new jams””. Inspiring stuff, and a great coup for a new festival which, in the words of Chris T-T, is “run by human beings and not a beer company”.

Steve Winwood

Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

25 / 4 / 2007

The warm atmosphere and the billing of this three-hour show as “An Evening With Steve Winwood” revealed Steve as a man comfortable with all stages of his career. In no particular order, we were treated to Spencer Davis hits (a throwaway “Somebody Help Me” and a monstrous “Gimme Some Loving”), Traffic classics from early (“Medicated Goo”) to later (“Light Up Or Leave Me Alone”) via Blind Faith (“Can’’t Find My Way Home”). Landing at the Winwood solo years, his most commercially successful period (“Higher Love” etc.) now sounds his artistically weakest, while the latest album shows an artist at the peak of his powers (his cover of Timmy Thomas’’ “Why Can’t We Live Together” being an unexpected highlight of a set with may highs). The evergreen Winwood can afford to surround himself with the cream of sessioners, and by any standards, saxist Paul Booth and stand-in guitarist Tim Cansfield are sensationally funky. From the very first note, the silken Hammond, the glorious work on the bass pedals and that voice – seemingly unchanged since he was sixteen – caused the audience to pinch itself at being so close to a legend. Dear Mr Fantasy indeed.

Spencer Davis Group

100 Club, London

3 / 2 / 07

View: Very close

The current version of the Spencer Davis Group has been together far longer than the original one, and contains such great musicians that it’’s a mystery why their profile isn’’t higher. The answer is, of course, No Winwood, but Eddie Hardin remains as excellent a replacement as he was in 1967, teasing out the huge Hammond sound to accompany the towering guitar of the evergreen and ever-dexterous Miller Anderson. The genial Colin Hodgkinson on bass gels nicely with the newest member, drummer Stef Porzel, while Spencer … well, he remains Spencer, the catalyst figure, still addicted to life on the road when he could well have been forgiven for slipping into a comfortable retirement. Warmed up by a fantastic London mod trio called The Turn, SDG’s act is the hits and more, of course, with my favourite being Hardin’’s reflective interlude “Deep In My Despair”. As they blasted out “Gimme Some Lovin’’”, the sweaty R & B atmosphere was probably much as it was when they were playing such subterranean London clubs in the Sixties. How nice to know that some things never change.

The Twang

Joiners Arms, Southampton

March 28 2007

View: Unimpeded

This should have been a lot better. The Twang is the new buzz band – (front of the NME after just one single, for goodness’’ sake) – but there was a surprisingly low-key atmosphere among the mostly male and -– whisper it – – largely middle-aged audience. The sparse instrumentation and Brum-accented spoken vocals attempt to give a 2-Tone feel but the effect is more The Streets played by Duran Duran. Yes, the dated guitar effects are pure eighties and laughable if we were’’t convinced that these are cool dudes. They aren’’t even convinced themselves, with front man Phil Etheridge only waking up two songs before the end and the guitarist and bassist looking terrified throughout. The audience only recognized one song, unsurprisingly the single “Wide Awake”, and there wasn’’t much in the set of similar quality. One doesn’’t like to be pessimistic, but a long and successful career seems unlikely.

Isle of Wight Festival 2007

The festival started with a tenth-rate Supertramp (The Feeling) and some music for TV ads (Groove Armada). Snow Patrol’’s anthems were too squeaky-clean for their headlining slot. Saturday featured the original IOW troubadour, Donovan. The mass singalong to “Sunshine Superman” suited the mood perfectly. The impressive funk and ska of the charming Amy Winehouse had the whole field jumping. Total fun, as were Wolfmother, who brazenly usurped the approach of the island’s honorary patron saint, Jimi Hendrix. Ash blew it by trying out new material on an inappropriate occasion, while Kasabian came close to stealing the show with a set of deceptive subtlety. Sadly, this competed directly with the island’’s own brilliant Bees. Muse’’s preposterous pomp-rock triumphed because of its sheer bravado, the Persil-white Matt Bellamy being second only to Jagger in the showmanship stakes. The plan was to blow the audience away, and it worked. Sunday was a delightful mish-mash of contrasts. Country Joe followed by Melanie C, anyone? The distressingly bland James Morrison caused mass dozing, but more exciting was cheery Scotsman Paolo Nutini, with his sideways approach, cool image, daft demeanour and willingness to rock. The frantic Fratellis seem to be in a career cul-de-sac like the similar (but better) Supergrass. Keane’’s huge singalongs and undeniable quality made them a perfect warm-up for the rock and roll maelstrom that was to follow (see this page). Wonderful music, great organisation, nice environment; this was one damn good festival.

End Of The Road Festival

Dorset, England

14 – 16 September 2007

Voted Best New Festival of 2006, this year’’s End Of The Road reaped the reward with a hugely increased audience and fine weather conditions. Being entirely about music, there are no big stars or egos, as artists jam with each other and pop up for impromptu sessions all over the place. The setting, in the beautiful Larmer Tree Gardens, is surely one of the loveliest festival sites in the world, and the line-up of mainly Americana, indie and folk artists was adventurous and clever. The most exciting things about EOTR this year were the unexpected surprises. Here are some of the highlights: Jeffrey Lewis’’ multi-media show featured wall-to-wall covers of songs by Crass. Dawn Landes concluded her set with a joyful duet with the unbilled Josh Ritter. The good-natured genuineness of blues plucker Charlie Parr succeeded in trumping the less subtle excursions of flavour-of-the-moment Seasick Steve. On a noisier note, the three-piece Charlie Bronson Outfit almost equalled the mad eclecticism of Yo La Tengo, who rampaged between the quietly melodic and the sonically insane. Howe Gelb curated the first day, guesting with every artist he presented, including the crazy but sensational Albini-prouced Scout Niblett, PJ Harvey collaborator John Parish and the magnificently atmospheric Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter, arguably the best band of the weekend. Howe Gelb’’s own set on the main stage featured gorgeous lounge piano excursions. The grooviest, most danceable band of the festival was undoubtedly the Isle of Wight’’s Bees, whilst new discoveries included My Brightest Diamond, a Drugstore for the 21st century, the Flaming Lips-lite of Sweden’s I’’m From Barcelona (beaten in the quirkiness stakes by Misty’’s Big Adventure), the Proclaimers-like harmony anthems of King Creosote and the ethereal beauty of Midlake, all the way from Denton, Texas. That’’s just for starters, and all of them put the bigger names like Super Furry Animals and British Sea Power, both of whom seemed to be over-egging the “professionalism”, in the shade. EOTR 2007 was a non-stop feast of music with no pretensions and no airs or graces. What a privilege to have been there.

Richard Thompson Band

The Brook, Southampton

9 / 8 / 07

“”What a band!” enthuses Richard Thompson at the end of the first song. “”What? A band?”” adds double-bassist Danny Thompson, sardonically. Yes, it’’s rare for RT to tour with a band nowadays, so this sold-out performance was a thrilling way for the Brook to announce that it’’s back in business. All the real and would-be guitarists in the audience were in ecstasy, and it’s true that there can’’t be a guitar player in the world to match Thompson today, playing all those extraordinary sequences of notes which shouldn’’t work, yet are somehow perfect. The emphasis was very much on the new album “Sweet Warrior”, standouts being the Iraq war song “Daddy’’s Gonna Kill Me” and the less serious but equally engaging “Too Late To Come Fishing”. There’’s something for fans of all aspects of Thomson’s career, from the acoustic whimsy of “Al Bowlly’’s In Heaven” to perennial favourite “Vincent Black Lightening 1952”, but he’’s always at his best on the twisted electric guitar ballads like “I Still Dream”. The evening climaxed with the irresistible sing-along of “Tear Stained Letter” which turned into a Pete Zorn saxophone wig-out. Thompson is a national treasure and never lets us down.

Joseph Arthur

Talking Heads, Southampton

22 November 2007

Panicking about a PA buzz and adding a six-song encore are all part of the show for Joseph Arthur, whose live performances go on sale in CD form at the end of each gig. A DVD might have been a better idea on this tour though, as his band consists largely of enthusiastic supermodel rock chicks (one of them pricelessly called Sybil), who contrast dramatically with the downbeat, greasy-haired, trilby-hatted image of the man himself. Looking like a younger Richard Ashcroft and sounding like a mixture of Jesse Malin and David Gray, Arthur’’s voice is certainly striking, even if the lyrics and some of the song structures are disturbingly AOR in style. The most enjoyable moments, apart from the Stonesy “Diamond Ring” and “Let’s Just Be”, were his solo acoustic efforts and when, for a momentary relief from the onslaught of echo and extended codas, he handed over the vocals to guitarist Kraig Jarret Johnson. The response to the show from the assembled Arthur fans was surprisingly muted, almost as if the intended spirit hadn’’t made the journey from stage to audience in the way his solo performances can.

Andy Burrows

Union Chapel, London

28 May 2008

Razorlight drummer Andy Burrows’’ charming new charity album “The Colour Of My Dreams” is a charity record in aid of children’’s hospice Naomi House. The full-scale launch of this initially low-key idea came out of left field, elevating Johnny Borrell’’s co-writer to a pre-eminent position, yet it is typical that the project is altruistic, self-effacing and unpretentious. It’’s a measure of Andy’’s popularity among his peers that the Union Chapel’’s stage was occupied by the likes of Fyfe Dangerfield (Guillemots), Dom Howard (Muse), Tom Smith (Editors) and the Bluetones’’ Mark Morris, whilst the hot dogs were served by Jamie Oliver. Harmonizing with each of the guests, Andy’’s songs came across as concise vignettes with little to do with rock and roll and everything to do with empathy and humanity. He displayed unexpected guitar skills and a voice which makes comparisons with the late Elliott Smith not as unlikely as they may seem. In the “secret” Razorlight finale, even the unfairly maligned Johnny Borrell seemed perfectly content to be playing second fiddle to his mate (and the raffle). In short, a magic evening.

Johnny Flynn

Railway Inn, Winchester

13 / 5 / 08

Frank Turner, Andy Burrows and now Johnny Flynn: Respectable young gentlemen from Winchester are the cool new thing; – who would have thought it? Whoever decided to invest in the young charmer with the folksy vibe, the Prince William good looks and the already faithful following has made a wise move. The age of the multi-instrumentalist is back (Johnny displays skills in guitar, banjo, mandolin, violin and some pretty spectacular trumpet, while sister Lillie looks after flute). Johnny’’s songs are wry and lyrically unconventional and he has a pleasingly un-showbiz manner, the only current problem being an over-busy drummer turning almost every song into a shuffle. When he moves to keyboards and the cellist tackles the drums (are you following this?), more possibilities immediately open up. If you thought “new folk” was a passing fad, the imminent success of Johnny will extend its currency.

Hop Farm Festival


5 / 7 / 08

Only Rufus Wainwright singing Leonard Cohen’’s “Halleluja” could make you feel warm and cosy during a monsoon in Kent. My Morning Jacket’’s silken amalgamation of Crosby, Stills and Nash with Lynryd Skynryd was well up to following Rufus, and ideal for this audience. Jim James finished the show as a demented, caped falsetto vampire. Flatteringly introduced by Steve Lamacq as “a national institution”, Supergrass (who, like everyone else, sacrificed much of their sound to the wind) were their usual selves: tuneful but unexciting. By this time, a serious chill was setting in, so the cockle-warming rock and roll of the ever-reliable Primal Scream was spot-on. They may be old-school but they’ll be cool forever. Uniquely brilliant and worshipped by all, Neil Young’’s lengthy set included a pleasing number of favourites like “Needle and the Damage Done” and “Heart of Gold”. One moment, he’’s wrenching out astonishing guitar effects, the next he’’s sitting at a pipe organ like a cross between Rick Wakeman and the local parish organist. The jaw-dropping climax consisted of a 25 minute version of “No Hidden Path” with an endless coda that you genuinely didn’’t want to stop, followed by a truly mind-blowing take on the Beatles’’ “A Day In The Life”. Apart from the car parking fiasco (organisational incompetence, basically), this was a great day out.

White Denim / Micah P. Hinson

Borderline, London


In this battle of the Texan titans, it was a points victory for the self-effacing flat-capped romantic over the sonic bully-boys. White Denim certainly are impressive, incredible virtuosos rather wasting their talents on screamed rifferama with few hints of a tune. Guitarist and singer James Patralli is obsessed with wah-wah and double-tracking, making the overall effect a cross between the Jesus and Mary Chain, speeded-up Explosions In The Sky and Motorhead. At the end, you felt satisfied with the short set and generally bludgeoned into submission. The solo Micah, on the other hand, apologized for sounding like Simon and Garfunkel compared to the lush instrumental depth of his “Micah P Hinson and the Red Empire Orchestra” album, but he still held the room spellbound with his quietly emotional songs, sparse yet still full of resonance. It was ironic that, afterwards, his was the performance you remembered.


Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth


It seems like no time since Ash were pipsqueak upstart sixth-formers, yet already their audience consists of paunchy middle-aged blokes like me. They can still innovate though, with their schedule of 26 singles in a year. New songs like “Space Shot”, “True Love 1980” and “Return Of White Rabbit” cleverly spruce up the Ash sound without straying too fear from the traditional template, which is basically just a fine way with a tune. You realize what an amazing back catalogue they have when they can launch their set with the killer double whammy of “Walking Barefoot” and “Girl From Mars”, with Tim Wheeler still looking like a teenager and lanky bassist Mark Hamilton, despite illness, doing his admirable double-jointed stick insect impersonation. Masters of the singalong anthem, songs like “Oh Yeah” and “Shining Light” mark Ash down as the ultimate summer band.

Juliette Lewis

Talking Heads, Southampton, UK

19 / 5 / 09

Five dates into a year-long world tour and Juliette Lewis is already looking the worse for wear, not to mention profoundly scary. The disappointing truth is that she doesn’’t sing very well. The last person to perform so consistently flat was Louise Wener of Sleeper, although Louise wouldn’’t even have attempted Juliette’’s Janis Joplin-style blueswailing on “Hard Lovin’’ Woman”. She still puts on an entertaining show, though. With a new band (the New Romantiques) which wouldn’t look or sound out of place in your local pub, she has audience empathy in abundance, leaping into the crowd as often as possible, removing and replacing sunglasses and sparkly veil, leering suggestively and sweating like a waterfall. Featuring a raft of not very tuneful new songs from the Terra Incognita album, it certainly is rock and roll, and the sardine-like crowd does indeed love it.

White Denim

Talking Heads, Southampton

5 / 7 / 09

A pleasingly young audience belied a distinct seventies vibe on this evening, heads shaking and dandruff cascading. Some of us old lags were trying to find a reference point for a noodling power guitar trio like White Denim. Taste? Similar energy but more bluesy. Groundhogs? Similar attitude but a bit more psychedelic. Spirit? That’s more like it. In the figure of bandana-ed guitarist James Petralli there’s even a hint of Randy California. A White Denim show consists of three “medleys”, in which songs from their albums “Workout Holiday” and “Fits” merge into each other in a bewildering series of time signature changes which keep the head shakers on their toes. In great jazz tradition, there’’s strict discipline in the arrangements, leaving room for improvisation between musicians who are impressively attuned to each other. Ugly Betty bassist Steve Terebecki and elaborate drummer Joshua Block are a powerhouse rhythm section very much in the mould of Bruce and Baker, while Petralli yelps enthusiastically in a mix of soul and garage styles. Sounds unlikely? Well, this band sure is different and it makes for exciting viewing and listening. Whether the general public will become so enthused remains to be seen.

Joe Jackson

Shepherds Bush Empire

2 / 3/ 08

Three songs in, the incongruous sound of “Chinatown” with completely inaudible piano and bass led to fears of the show being slaughtered by the soundman. Luckily Jackson (together with the faithful and fantastic rhythm section of Dave Houghton and Graham Maby) remains one of the most thrilling live performers anywhere in the world. His persona – a strange mixture of lanky, lugubrious, serious and convivial – draws in the crowd and the songs are allowed to blossom in the sparse trio setting. Irresistible oldies like the cold war commentary of “The Obvious Song” and “Stranger Than Fiction” (with the brilliant line”“love shows God has a sense of humour”) mingle comfortably with a selection from the new album “Rain”, of which the finest track is the first, “Invisible Man”. An inspired choice of covers (“Knowing Me Knowing You” – – really – – and “Scary Monsters – – honestly), plus the obligatory climax of “Is She Really Going Out With Him?” and the tear-jerking “Slow Song” insured that victory was indeed grasped from the jaws of disaster.

Jason Lytle

Islington Academy

28 / 5 / 09

What a relief it is for Grandaddy followers that Jason Lytle sounds exactly like his ex-band. He’’s on record as saying he was uncomfortable with the sheen of professionalism forced on them by major label status, but with his current band of downbeats, it’s right back to the seat-of-the-pants glory days of early Grandaddy. The only slick item on show was the lengthy and dramatic intro tape, leading into probably one of the lowest-key shows this venue has ever seen. Shoulders hunched, with head down and obscured by the omnipresent cap, Lytle crouches stage right, seemingly joined at the hip with main cohort Rusty Miller. It’s hard to equate the figure with glorious songs like “Yours Truly The Commuter” and “Brand New Sun”, eccentrically glittering gems from his new album. What with the between song backing-track mayhem, the gear all held together with pink gaffa tape, it took a good kicking administered to a recalcitrant synth to finally allow them to splutter into their rapturously-received original greatest hit “AM 180”. Thank goodness there are still a few true rock and roll characters about.

South By South West Festival

Austin, Texas

18 – 22 March 2009

Each year you think sxsw can’t get any better and each year it confounds you. Where else could you wander in the sunshine between the hillbilly folk of Justin Townes Earle and the studded leather jumpsuits of Hot Leg, Justin Hawkins’’ post-Darkness parody? If you wanted, you could queue for Metallica or Kanye West, but as usual, the most fun was to be had stumbling on unannounced gems on the fringes. Here you could find the two drummers of a crazed And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead being outgunned by the five bass guitars of Shout Out Out Out Out in the multiple instrument stakes, or the pomp of the Decemberists being outclassed by the sublime shoegazing of Shearwater. Ah, Shearwater. They made me fear the alcohol had finally taken too much of a toll on me. Having heard their late-night performance at the plushy Hilton Garden Inn, I walked the next morning the hour and a half to the Mean Eyed Cat, to find them in the middle of performing the same (very good) show to a different audience. Talk about Groundhog Day. RC readers are well aware of Toronto’’s Six Shooter Records and their artists. Equally legendary is the Tequila-drenched annual afternoon hootenanny they host at Headhunter’s Club, where their artists, hung-over but still buzzing from their label showcase the night before, play short sets of their favourite songs. The likes of Luke Doucet, Melissa McClelland and NQ Arbuckle spread the fun around. The previous evening, Elliott Brood had issued the audience with baking trays and wooden spoons, creating percussion mayhem. Other oddities were the surreal experience of Bauhaus goth hero Pete Murphy, complete with uncool bald patch and eccentric speechmaking. In a similar vein, the Blue Aeroplanes’’ Gerard Langley was reading his lyrics from a printed crib-sheet, much like a politician with an autocue. Portland’’s Peter Broderick is the first virtuoso of the saw since Mercury Rev’’s Jonathan Donahue. And of course, there were the inevitable disappointments. I walked miles to catch current vogue bands The Soft Pack, Black Lips and Delta Spirit, and all of them were nondescript. Selecting highlights is tough, but here goes. Best new discovery: Copenhagen’’s Asteroids Galaxy Tour, who have charm, beauty, cool pop songs and funky horns. Most exciting moment: nearly being asphyxiated in the moshpit for a gloriously decadent Primal Scream in a venue the size of a matchbox. Most moving music: A massively hung-over Jason Lytle making his post-Grandaddy comeback at the Mohawk Patio at Saturday lunchtime. Best show: A knockout blow by PJ Harvey and John Parish, completely flattening the capacity crowd at Stubbs, previously baffled by a washed-up Razorlight. Now surely sxsw 2010 can’t get any better?

The Asteroids Galaxy Tour

Luminaire, London

15 / 5 / 09

The likes of Little Boots and Lady Ga Ga had better watch out, because in the pulchritude stakes, they are about to be obliterated by the extraordinary Mette Lindberg. Copenhagen’’s finest ever band have the lot: funky horns providing Stax riffs, some pleasingly catchy and irresistibly danceable songs and the knockout blow of a riveting visual and vocal presence. Mette can warble Bjork-like but doesn’’t over-do it, instead sweetly avoiding Mariah Carey-style woah woahs in favout of brief and punchy ohs and heys. It’’s unique and totally charming. Nominally a duo of Mette and Lars Iversen, live, the band is a nicely analogue six-piece collective with an eccentric dress sense. Among a treasure trove of songs, “Push The Envelope” and the iPod commercial, “Around The Bend” are that rare phenomenon, tunes that you go home singing after just one hearing. This Tour truly is heading for the stars.

PJ Harvey and John Parish

Bridport Arts Centre

12 / 3 / 09

Among family and friends in this quaint converted chapel is the traditional point of departure for all PJ Harvey world tours. Addressing the wardrobe issues caused by her belted shroud with good humour, Polly was on sparkling form, safely surrounded by some of the world’s most outstanding musicians. Sporting more trilbies and mafia suits than a Leonard Cohen convention, John Parish and his colleagues helped Polly to take flight on almost all the new album and, pleasingly, a good chunk of 1996’’s Dance Hall At Louse Point as well. Extraordinary variety was the keynote, from the gentle falsetto of “Leaving California” to the expletive-laden lunacy of “A Woman A Man Walked By” and the genuinely barking “Pig Will Not” (yes, she barks). Particularly exciting was the revival of fantastic older songs like the lugubrious “Rope Bridge Crossing” (one of this duo’’s finest hours) and “Circles Around The Sun”, but most thrilling of all was the confirmation that music of this outstanding quality can still command a large and enthusiastic audience. A satisfying triumph all round.


Chuck Prophet

The Miner’s Arms, Lydney

9 / 8 / 09

Skirting round the Hell’s Angels and into the skittle alley of this Forest of Dean pub, Chuck had caused consternation by demanding the removal of chairs from the venue. A half-and-half compromise having been reached, the solo Chuck hit the stage for a warm evening of conviviality which included a Q and A session (of which the most hilarious section was a convoluted answer to the question “”Why are you here?””). Adapting the rockers from his new “Let Freedom Ring” album to an acoustic environment proved no problem for a virtuoso like Chuck, with simple beauties such as the title track and “Sonny Liston’’s Blues” nestling comfortably alongside back catalogue classics like “You Did” and “Balinese Dancer”. An audience made up of keen fans who had travelled and locals who had never heard of him warmed to a man whose career looks as if it is about to hit a very belated high. He’’ll be back in the UK with his band in the Autumn, but for now, this was a rare and treasured cameo.

Bad Company

Brighton Centre

10 April 2010

View: Centre of the Centre

Most of us have the odd school reunion but with Mott and Bad Company, Mick Ralphs has had two of the highest profile reunions imaginable in the space of six months. Chipper and cheerful, he can’’t quite match the extraordinarily youthful Paul Rodgers in the svelteness stakes, but the chops are still there, aided by Howard Leese of Heart, who fleshes out the harmonies so that arguably this Bad Co is better then the original. The main secret of the power lies with drummer Simon Kirke, still as much of an object lesson in economy and power as when he was blasting out “Fire And Water” with Free forty years ago. It takes confidence to open with your greatest hit, and when the heartbeat intro tape segued into “Can’’t Get Enough” and the neon logo flashed up, the whole place jumped into action and didn’’t let up for an hour and ten minutes of pretty much solid gold. Whether it was ballads like “Seagull” or classics like “Ready For Love”, Rodgers’’ voice and style have not declined in any way. “We love you Paul”, they still shout, and no wonder.


Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

30. 6. 10

View: Crammed in the crowd

This was an evening for serious music lovers. With nary a rock pose in sight, these musicians are all about conveying songs and atmosphere. John Grant of the Czars performed his lyrically intense torch songs to rapt attention (standout being “The Queen Of Denmark”), before the intellectual Texans Midlake charmed the audience with ninety minutes gleaned almost entirely from their last two albums “The Trials Of Van Occupanther” and “The Courage Of Others”. Citing such impeccable influences as early Fairport Convention, Grandaddy and Richard Thompson (to which could be added seventies proggers Camel and Caravan, each equally adept at integrating the sound of the flute), Midlake never patronize their audience. A seven piece band playing essentially quiet music in a loud environment is always going to be a challenge, but Midlake, expressing undying love for Pompey, pulled it off in charmingly understated manner. When will Bella Union go wrong?

Eastleigh Music Festival

Leigh Park Eastleigh

10 – 11/ 7 / 10

The sun shone on Eastleigh’’s two-day music festival at Leigh Park. Friday’’s “Folk Night” featured, for all but the most devout folkies, a slight surfeit of fiddles and squeeze boxes. The likes of Cara Dillon (great when unaccompanied) and Lau (great when slow and majestic) too often allowed things to lapse with the dreaded words “”Now for some jigs and reels””. Saturday daytime featured a host of local bands playing for free. The quality inevitably varied but of particular note were Winchester’’s flamboyant Scarlet Soho and the casual excellence of Our Lost Infantry, a real find from Aldershot. The evening showcase highlighted the super-precision suites of Field Music. The music of the multi-instrumentalist Brewis brothers is ultra-cerebral but manages not to be too clever for its own good. As for Badly Drawn Boy, the disappointment was painful. Accompanied by a band made up of road crew and complete with cheesy drum machine and lyric crib sheet, he sought to blame his hapless performance on the sound crew (who had been impeccable all weekend). Badly Performing Boy, more like. Nothing, however, should take away from the impeccable organization of this hugely enjoyable event, which continued throughout the joyous Mela on the Sunday.


Railway Inn, Winchester

August 1, 2010

View: Nearly suffocating

For a band whose main antecedents are Spirit Of Eden-era Talk Talk, i.e. deadly serious and willfully uncommercial, Austin’’s Shearwater have some enthusiastic and energetic supporters. The band take the most enjoyable elements of prog, namely multiple time changes and incessant swopping of obscure instruments, but leave out the annoying noodling bits. Any band whose singer has a degree in ornithology and whose drummer is an Axl Rose lookalike called Thor, who doubles on oboe, can’’t fail to be interesting. Jonathan Meiburg is the unlikeliest of rock stars but his startling voice range generates enormous intensity. The audience, already stunned (in a nice way) by having German improvisational classical pianist Nils Frahm as support act, vascillated between enthusiastic idiot dancing on songs such as Hidden Lakes and rapt attention during the glockenspiel battle between Thor and bassist Kim Burke on Corridors, both from their latest pastoral epic The Golden Archipelago. It all sounds very unlikely but it adds up to a quite thrilling musical experience.

Read More

Gary Revilo’’s Gigs

If you can’t be bothered to read VOLUME (available from, the gig list provides a summary of the horrors contained within. Just read this instead.

This selective list is far from being exhaustive. Several hundred were crummy pub-rock bands which have not been listed because they were not of sufficient merit. Lots of gigs have got lost in the mists of time. For example, I know for a fact that I saw the Blue Aeroplanes at least eight times but I can’t identify a single precise date.

For bands like The Time, the Outsiders and the Agency which I saw repeatedly, only a few selected shows are mentioned.

Gigs by the bands I “managed” (Thieves Like Us and The Secret) are not listed.

Festivals include only some of the bands I actually saw at them.

Sudden gaps indicate managing bands, bringing up children or sojourns abroad.

* indicates that I can’t remember the exact date.

I calculate that this list represents about 75 percent of the actual gigs I have attended.

Complete accuracy is not guaranteed. Anyone spotting errors is invited to correct them.


*The Hollies, Cheltenham Town Hall

Quiffs intact. Graham Nash played an unamplified acoustic guitar.

*The Sharks, Schöningen, Germany (several times)

Unfeasible trousers but great R & B.


*The Hollies, Cheltenham Town Hall

We sat on chairs positioned round the edge of the dancefloor and didn’t dare ask anyone to dance.


*TJ – Tours, France

TJ, a black American organist, played in the same club every night for a month. He claimed to have written “Night of a Thousand Dances”.

1968 – 1969

*The Young Tradition, University of East Anglia, Norwich (13.2.68)

Early exposure to finger-in-the-ear folk. Peter Bellamy had the longest hair I’d ever seen.

*Wynder K. Frogg, University of East Anglia, Norwich

Hammond Heaven.

*Mike Cotton Sound with Lucas, University of East Anglia, Norwich

Better than Geno Washington but not half as famous.

*Herbie Goins and the Night Timers, University of East Anglia, Norwich

More of the same: UK soul.

*Jimmie James and the Vagabonds, University of East Anglia, Norwich

And again, but with a white singer.

*Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera, University of East Anglia, Norwich

Getting near to psychedelia now.

* Bonzo Dog Doo-Da Band / Roy Harper, University of East Anglia, Norwich

The original line-up. Not as funny onstage as on record.

*Third Ear Band / Ron Geesin, University of East Anglia, Norwich

Everyone sat on the floor, including the band.

*Jeff Beck Band, University of East Anglia, Norwich

Rod the Mod long before he was crap.

*The Move, University of East Anglia, Norwich

A truly great band. Even Carl Wayne acted the part.

*Savoy Brown, University of East Anglia, Norwich

They got big in the States because the Americans have such good taste.

*The Pyramids, University of East Anglia, Norwich

Innocent, up-tempo reggae.

*Spooky Tooth, University of East Anglia, Norwich

“Sunshine Help Me”.

*Moody Blues, Royal Festival Hall, London (29.6.68)

They did make a good album, once. Pity about the moustaches.

*Tyrannosaurus Rex, University of East Anglia, Norwich

“Elfin-like”, that’s what they always say about Marc.

*Cream Farewell Concert, Royal Albert Hall, London (26.11.68)

Didn’t they go on.

*Deviants, Progressive Club, Norwich

Yes, but could they play their instruments?

*Pink Floyd / Fairport Convention, University of East Anglia, Norwich

Some double bill!

*Joe Cocker and the Grease Band, University of East Anglia, Norwich

I predicted he would go solo. He did.

*Free, University of East Anglia, Norwich

One of the most perfectly-formed bands of all time.

*The Nice / The Idle Race, University of East Anglia, Norwich

Never mention Roy Wood to Jeff Lynne.

*Fairport Convention, University of East Anglia, Norwich (8.3.69)

We’d seen them at Colchester in the interim. Sandy Denny told me to fuck off.

*Roland Kirk, University of East Anglia, Norwich (11.7.69)

Or rather, Rahsaan Roland. Never did get into jazz.

*Fleetwood Mac, Industrial Club, Norwich

They almost made our ears bleed and Mick Fleetwood wore a pair of wooden testicles on a string.

*Chris Farlowe and the Thunderbirds, Teacher Training College, Norwich

I think Albert Lee was in the band.

*The Barbecue, Earlham Park, Norwich with The Hollies, Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky Mick and Tich, Soft Machine, Marmalade and others. (10.5.69)

“What did the students think of us?” – “Er …”

*Blind Faith, Hyde Park, London (7.6.69)

If I hadn’t rescued Stevie from the pond, this band would never have been formed.

*The Rolling Stones, Hyde Park, London (5.7.69)

“Okay, see you in Hyde Park then.”

*Arrival, Rolle College, Exmouth

They had just had a big hit with “Friends”: “We all have friends who have friends by the river”. No we don’t.

*Mogul Thrash, Rolle College, Exmouth

A bit like the Average White Band with guitar solos. Probably the best band John Wetton was ever in.

*Osibisa, Rolle College, Exmouth

“Don’t talk about my girlfriend like that”, I should have said.

*Blossom Toes, University of East Anglia, Norwich

Jim Cregan, later Rod Stewart’s guitarist,was the leader of this sweetly-named combo.

*Bakerloo, University of East Anglia, Norwich

Well-smoothed Dave Clempson’s priceless trio.

*Jon Hiseman’s Colosseum, University of East Anglia, Norwich

Too much in the way of soloing, especially the old “double saxophone” bit.

Late 1969

4. November: Spooky Tooth, Mensa am Westring, Kiel, Germany

Luckily, rugby songs are a rarity in Germany.

15. November: Ten Years After, Chicken Shack, Ernst-Merck-Halle, Hamburg

He’s fast, isn’t he? And that Chistine Perfect was a bit of all right.

12. December: Bach Weihnachtsoratorium, St-Johanniskirche, Lüneburg

The only classical concert I’ve been to in my life. I coughed all the way through and a nice old lady gave me a sweetie.


3. January: Aspidistra Flying Blues Band, Blue Note, Wilhelmshaven

Who? Well, I was there and it was bloody cold.

7. January: Hardin and York, Mensa am Westring, Kiel, Germany

The World’s Smallest Big Band.

21. January: Soft Machine, Mensa am Westring, Kiel, Germany

Robert Wyatt did his funny falsetto bit.

10. March: Steamhammer, Mensa am Westring, Kiel, Germany

Whatever did happen to Steamhammer?

10. April: Renaissance, Mensa am Westring, Kiel, Germany

Rather nice pastoral sounds from Keith Relf and his sister Jane.

15. April: The Flock, Ernst-Merck-Halle, Hamburg

“The Sound of the Seventies”, said the ticket. Jerry Goodman ended up in the Mahavishnu orchestra.

22. May: Hardin and York, Mensa am Westring, Kiel, Germany

The ticket price had gone up by 2 DM in four months. This can happen when you’re Big In Germany.

28. May: Deep Purple, Ostseehalle, Kiel, Germany

The support was Alex Harvey. I thought he was brilliant but the audience hated him. A sign

of things to come?

21 / 22 June: Hamburg Big Gig Festival: Colosseum, Black Sabbath, Famiuy, Rare Bird, Humble Pie, Uriah Heep, Gentle Giant

We slept under that stars and woke up covered in dew.

10. July: Free, Spektrum Club, Kiel, Germany

Paul Rodgers pinched a bottom to celebrate the band’s first hit.

25. September: Caravan / Jackson Heights, City Hall, Salisbury

An outing from the farm. The support was Lee Jackson from the Nice, but there was hardly anyone there.

21. December: Strawbs / Hardin and York / Al Stewart, Royal Albert Hall, London

A benefit for the “Conservation Society”. An ill-matched bill failed to create much atmosphere.


March 23: Yes, Norwich Lads’ Club

What was the name of that irritating acoustic solo Steve Howe used to do?

April 4: Bronco, University of East Anglia, Norwich

It may be a loo roll to you, but to me it was my introduction to Jess Roden.

April 30: Michael Chapman, Norwich Folk Festival

And he’s still on the road right now.

May 12th: Traffic, Norwich Lads’ Club

It looked like members of this band would soon start to die. They did.


*MC5: Edo-Osterloh-Haus, Kiel, Germany

“Excuse me, what means ‘Kick Out Ze Jemms, Muzzerfuckers?”

*Man: Edo-Osterloh-Haus, Kiel, Germany

You thought the Manics were the original Welsh windbags? No, Man were.

*Alexis Korner: Pupille, Kiel, Germany

I couldn’t afford to go but I heard it through the floor.

*Frumpy, Förde-Hochhaus, Eckernförde, Germany

Inga Rumpf, Frumpy’s singer, is now a Christian evangelist.

*Brian Auger Trinity / Status Quo, Stadthalle, Neumünster

Quo were cool. No longer a pop band and not yet a joke.


*Free, Colston Hall, Bristol (15.10.73)

Heartbreaking performance to promote “Heartbreaker”.

*Rory Gallagher: Colston Hall, Bristol (31.10.73)

A nice line in lumberjack shirts.


*Stackridge, Victoria Rooms, Bristol

“The Stanley is for you and me.” Mutter Slater wisely declined to take part in 1999’s misguided reunion.

*John Entwistle’s Ox, Bristol University

However did they get all that equipment up to the first floor?

18. September: Deep Purple, Stadthalle, Bremen, Germany

I’m afraid I always thought that Ritchie Blackmore was over-rated.

27. October: Nektar, Stadthalle, Bremen, Germany

Deutsch-Rock vom Feinsten.

4. November: Gong, Post-Aula, Bremen, Germany

Featuring Steve Hillage in woolly hat mode.

12. December: Mungo Jerry, Revolution, Bremen, Germany

Fantastic! Someone in the audience kept buying the band Jägermeister and they kept drinking and playing until they could no longer stand. The next night, the club burned down.

16. December: The Sweet, Stadthalle, Bremen, Germany

My snobby friends refused to attend on the basis that the Sweet were a “teenybop” band. Nonsense! Fabulous glam rock, with the drummer having a drum battle with a back projection of himself. They beat the Flaming Lips to this concept by 25 years.

* Alice Cooper, Stadthalle, Bremen, Germany

This was the classic Steve Hunter / Dick Wagner line-up featuring a guitar battle that drew blood.


29. January: Soft Machine, University of Bremen, Germany

Robert Wyatt did his funny falsetto thing (again).

12. March: Country Joe and the Fish, University of Bremen, Germany

It wasn’t exactly Woodstock revisited.

9. May: Genesis, Stadthalle, Bremen, Germany

The Lamb Lay Down on Broadway.

18. August: Kevin Coyne, Post-Aula, Bremen, Germany

Andy Summers was in this band.

27. September: Camel, Reithalle, Cloppenburg

I put up posters in Bremen to advertise this. We had to sit on bales of hay and pick our way carefully though the horse shit.

29. October: The Who, Stadthalle, Bremen, Germany

Just what the doctor ordered! The main story in the local paper detailed how Moonie smashed up Bremen’s poshest hotel.


8. February: Status Quo, Stadthalle, Oldenburg, Germany

Third time lucky (?) after the previous two shows had been cancelled.

27. February: Uriah Heep, Stadthalle, Oldenburg, Germany

I had a row with Birgit’s sister-in-law after she falsely claimed that David Byron was a good singer.

14. March: Udo Lindenberg, Stadthalle, Bremen, Germany

What a shame this great character didn’t catch on outside Germany. At one stage, he even recorded an album in English, but to no avail.

4. May: The Rolling Stones, Stadthalle, Bremen, Germany

I recall that they had a giant penis.

2. June: Smokie, Dorfhalle, Ritterhude, Germany

Sometimes, one gets desperate.

21. June: Rolling Stones, Knebworth

I think they were there somewhere.

23. July: Heavy Metal Kids / XTC, Brunel Rooms, Swindon

I don’t remember what I was doing when JFK died, but I do remember what I was doing when Gary Holton died. XTC played “All Along The Watchtower”, incidentally.

August: Reading Festival 1976 with Rory Gallagher, Gong, Van Der Graaf Generator, Camel, The Enid, Black Oak Arkansas

The year the Enid took the festival by storm! No, honestly.

17. October: Jess Roden Band, Southampton University

Funky British soul. His backing band came from Southampton, you know.

29. November: Kiki Dee, Gaumont, Southampton

She was briefly able to fill theatres like this. Kiki had an appealing vulnerability.

1. December: Caravan, Southampton University

For Girls Who Grow Plump In The Night.

10. December: Steeleye Span, Gaumont, Southampton

They should have kept it under their Hat.

17. December: Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, Gaumont, Southampton

Big In Germany.


28. January: Supercharge / Ultravox, Southampton University

This was the original Ultravox with John Foxx (better than any subsequent versions).

9. February: Jethro Tull, Gaumont, Southampton

Flamingos can stand on one leg as well.

13. February: SAHB without Alex Harvey, Top Rank, Southampton

Clever name, eh? Quite good even without the main man, because of Zal Cleminson.

5. March: Pat Travers Band / Doctors of Madness, Reading University

The doctor had a bassist called Stoner who dressed up in a skeleton suit.

9. March: Graham Parker and the Rumour, Guildhall, Portsmouth

Brinsley Schwarz is a cool name, don’t you think?

15. March: Gordon Giltrap, Southampton University

There must be better things to do with a guitar.

21. March: Bandit, Village Bowl, Bournemouth

I went because dear old James Litherland was in the band. The singer was Jim Diamond, who later had a hit with “I Should Have Known Better”.

13. April: Tribo, Mirandela, Portugal

Hiching though Portugal, I was befriended by this band which specialised in Camel covers! They gave a performance specially for me (which can happen if you are an Englishman abroad). The bassist Manuel is still a good friend today.

4. May: Widowmaker, Souhampton University

Super-cool, motionless Luther Grosvenor had turned into crazed glam-rock axeman Ariel Bender.

7. May: Ian Gillan Band, Southampton University

I got to interview the man who has more brain that meets the eye.

11. May: Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers, King Alfred’s College, Winchester

I’m probably prouder to have been at this gig than at any other ever. The appeal escaped most of the assembled student teachers, however.

20. May: The Damned / The Adverts, Southampton University

Mark Eitzel of American Music Club was at this gig. Not that I knew that.

27. May: Queen, Gaumont, Southampton

The tickets cost £2. What a rip-off.

4. June: Caravan, Farnborough Recreation Centre

Never go and see a band at a recreation centre.

16. June: 10CC, Gaumont, Southampton

Apart from Eric Stewart, they just couldn’t look the part.

21. July: Weeke Jokes, Henry Beaufort School, Winchester

My band, man.

30. June: Roger Ruskin Spear, Southampton University

He had a Kinetic Wardrobe.

3. July: Bad Company, Earl’s Court, London

The end of the affair. Paul Rodgers was already putting on weight and wore a stetson, for goodness’ sake.

6. July: Crawler / Boxer / Moon, Guildhall, Portsmouth

What they call a package show. Roll on recycling.

21. July: Roogalator, Winchester Art School

Chunky R & B from Danny Adler.

12 August: Freshly Layed Band, Queen Inn, Burley

The introduction.

August: Reading Festival 1977 with Thin Lizzy, Graham Parker, Nazareth, Ultravox, Electric Chairs, Racing Cars, The Enid, The Motors

The Motors had some of the most expensive promotion any band has ever received. It didn’t help them much.

25. September: The BA, Riverside Inn, Winchester

“Bus Garage Café, well it’s okay.”

29. September: Camel, Southampton Gaumont

Well, I honestly thought the Snow Goose was good.

30. September: Kursaal Flyers, Southampton University

Not very exciting pub rock promoted above its station.

1. October: The BA, King Alfred’s Boys Club, Winchester

First and last gig at this youth club. (There was a minor riot.)

2. October: The Pirates, Glen Eyre Hall, Southampton

Who’d have thought dear old Mick Green would end up at the Cavern with Macca? Good choice, though.

4. October: Ian Gillan Band, Guildhall, Portsmouth

Their bassist appeared to be a heavyweight wrestler.

8. October: Freshly Layed Band, The White Buck, Burley

First of many trips into a forest hippie enclave.

11. October: Throbbing Gristle, Winchester Art School

I remember it well. Not many tunes, but Cosey Fanni Tutti looked a picture.

12. October: Phil Manzanera’s 801, Southampton University

Good album but he never followed it up properly.

18. October: Dr Feelgood, Portsmouth Guildhall

Got to interview Lee Brilleaux, now in the Great Travel Lodge In The Sky.

19. October: Racing Cars, Southampton University

They had some kind of hit.

26. October: Caravan, Southampton University

Still out to pasture. Do you know that Pye Hastings is now a sales rep?

27. October: Wishbone Ash / The Motors, Gaumont, Southampton

We got in on account of the aforementioned massive promotional push being given to the Motors. (Push the Motors, geddit?)

15. November: Status Quo, Gaumont, Southampton

At the end of the show, their leads were all tied up in a knot in the middle of the stage.

26. November: The Ba, Winchester Art College

Someone took a great photo of this.

28. November: Wilco Johnson, Village Bowl, Bournemouth

It surely can’t have been worth the journey?

6. December: Freshly Layed Band, Riverside Inn, Winchester

Watch those floorboards.

7. December: Thin Lizzy, Gaumont, Southampton

On the ticket, it said Thin Lizzie.


6. January: The Enid, Basingstoke Technical College

At the time, they seemed revolutionary. They actually played “Land of Hope and Glory” and (blush) I actually enjoyed it!

22. January: Rich Kids, Glen Eyre Hall, Southampton

If only Midge Ure had got frozen in this state. Mind you, they were furious at people gobbing at them, and quite right too.

25. January: Talking Heads / Dire Straits, Southampton University

That is not a misprint. The tickets cost £1 each.

3. February: Tyla Gang, King Alfred’s College, Winchester

That’s Sean Tyla, not Liv Tyla.

6. February: Split Enz, Southampton University

Before they wuz Crowded House. Better, too.

11. February: Colosseum II, South Stoneham Hall, Southampton

Gary Moore was in this band.

18. February: Krazy Kat, King Alfred’s College, Winchester

In perfect harmony (but not with the Ents Officer).

19. February: The Enid, Victoria Palace, London

Did we really do this?

24. February: The Soft Boys, Winchester Art School

Wading through a ventilator.

27. February: Rush, Gaumont, Southampton

What about the voice of Geddy Lee, how does he sing so high?

11. March: Freshly Layed Band, Riverside Inn, Winchester

Slight return.

15. March: Eddie and the Hot Rods, Top Rank, Southampton

Barrie Masters did some good acrobatics on the lighting rig.

17. March: David Coverdale Band, Basingstoke Technical College

This is definitely a misprint.

22. March: John Miles, Village Bowl, Bournemouth

Music is my first love, and it will be my last.

30. March: Freshly Layed Band, White Buck, Burley

For the sake of the rainforests, an editorial decision has been taken at this stage not to mention the rest of the Freshly Layed gigs we attended (17 in all).

2. April: The Soft Boys, Nashville, London

Robyn Hitchcock didn’t recognise me.

17. April: Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, Guildhall, Portsmouth

Still big in Germany.

25. April: Graham Parker and the Rumour, Mecca Ballroom, Portsmouth

Hold back the night.

26. April: Rory Gallagher, Gaumont, Southampton

Not a lot different from last time.

29. April: UK, Southampton University

That Bill Bruford, he can play a bit.

5. May: The Tubes, Gaumont, Southampton

A novelty band which can really play, that’s rare.

12. May: Lesser Known Tunisians, The Saints, Southampton

First encounter with Wickham’s answer to North Africa.

18. May: Steve Hillage, Poole Arts Centre

Surely it wasn’t the same woolly hat?

19. May: Lesser Known Tunisians, Tower Arts Centre, Winchester

We promoted this one.

3. June: Black Sabbath, Gaumont, Southampton

Another misprint.

4. June: Sham 69 / Stratejacket, Top Rank, Southampton

Like Madness later, Sham 69 didn’t deserve their awful fans.

17. June: The Blades, Riverside Inn, Winchester

Previously the Amazorblades.

29. June: Lesser Known Tunisians, Old Mill, Holbury

The night of the Sounds review.

30. June: Artemis, Cricklade College, Andover

Greg Watkins was still playing Camel covers.

15. July: The Picnic, Blackbushe Airport, with Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Joan Armatrading.

First ever laminate on a string!

16. July: Whirlwind, Jumpers Tavern, Christchurch

Got a rather nice free T-shirt from this rockabilly band.

26 – 28 August: Reading Festival 1978 with Spirit, The Motors, Status Quo, Sham 69, The Jam, Patti Smith Group

A rather unpleasant atmosphere reigned, as the line-up might lead one to anticipate.

16. September: Staa Marx, Winchester Rugby Club

The sons of Mrs Aardvark. They were great.

20 September: The Polar Bears, The Cricketers, Winchester

Support came from the Erections, one of whose members was called Dr. R. Slicker.

21. September: 10CC, Gaumont, Southampton

I decided that “Dreadlock Holiday” was a dodgy piece of racism. I’m not in Love with 10CC any more.

23. September: Camel, Gaumont, Southampton

The “Breathless” tour, first sticky Backstage Pass!

26. September: The Stranglers, Gaumont, Southampton

Now that’s what I call a band.

29. September: The Warm Jets, Riverside Inn, Winchester

Nothing to do with Brian Eno and nothing to do with the Nineties Warm Jets either. There you go.

6. October: Thieves Like Us, Riverside Inn, Winchester

Literally a life-altering experience.

11. October: Climax Blues Band / Fabulous Poodles, Southampton University

This was the sort of strangely mis-matched double bill which was around in those days. I am certain that the other support was Elvis Costello’s Flip City, but I can’t prove it.

20. October: Press-Ups, Riverside Inn, Winchester

One of our less wildly successful promotions.

21. October: Identical Strangers, Tower Arts Centre, Winchester

They begged me to review the gig and then moaned when they didn’t like what it said.

27. October: Staa Marx, Riverside Inn, Winchester

Bognor rock.

28. October: Boomtown Rats, Gaumont, Southampton

It must be said, he didn’t look like a future knight of the realm.

3. November: The Enid, Basingstoke Technical College

Oh, come on.

25. November: The Aliens / Hazzard, Theatre Royal, Winchester

The first show for a decade at this un-renovated theatre. When people danced, they stirred up so much dust that you couldn’t see the stage. Or it could have been dry ice.

6. December: Ian Gillan, Southampton University

The all-in wrestler was still there.

23. December: Tours, Brewer’s Arms, Poole

Something stirs in Poole. Tourist Information, please.


10. February: Supercharge, South Stoneham Hall, Southampton

There was a bloke with a beard who played sax.

14. February: Gruppo Sportivo, Southampton University

They didn’t sound Dutch, but they were.

3. March: Fischer-Z, Southampton University

Big In Germany, but this time deservedly so.

4. March: Van Morrison, Portsmouth Guildhall

Peter Bardens was playing with Van this time around.

16. March: Screeens, Salisbury Technical College

Yes, that’s three “e”s. Thieves Like Us supported.

21. March: The Hollies, Portsmouth Guildhall

There is a place for nostalgia.

22. March: Graham Parker and the Rumour, Southampton Guildhall

My friend Volker called him a little weasel. A tad unfair, I thought. Possibly a stoat.

23. March: Freshly Layed Band, Bournemouth Town Hall

This was their last ever gig. “Come and get the rest of the Ploughmans!”

24. March: Identical Srangers, Crown Hotel, Eastleigh

They wanted me to re-assess them. There were only two other people in the audience.

4. May: Mark Andrews and the Gents / The Lens, Top Rank, Southampton

Charity show. The Lens became IQ, a quite well-known prog-rock band.

5. May: The Enid, South Stoneham Hall, Southampton

Backstage was fun for a change, because they were breaking up and yelling at each other in a most ungentlemanly way.

11. May: XTC, Glen Eyre Hall, Southampton

I could see that Andy Partridge had stage fright. No, really. It takes one phobic to know another.

15. May: Mark Andrews and the Gents, Portsmouth Polytechnic

Although the personnel kept changing, this band was always great.

19. May: Piranhas, John Peel, Gosport

First of many sightings of these dangerous creatures.

30. May: The Tubes, Gaumont, Southampton

Still good musicians. Still high heels.

7. June: 64 Spoons, Old Mill, Holbury

I think they had a famous guitarist.

8. June: Writz, Bishop Otter College, Chichester

We went to check out the venue for a forthcoming Thieves gig. It turned out to be a formal ball, so we stood out a bit!

9. June: Mungo Jerry, King Alfred’s College, Winchester

They were sober. How disappointing.

23 June: Eric Bell Band, Theatre Royal, Winchester

Grand re-opening of the venue. After The Fire cancelled and this was a poor substitute.

5. July: Joe Jackson, Locarno, Portsmouth

A meteoric rise from the John Peel, Gosport

13. July: The Stranglers, Gaumont, Southampton

They didn’t exactly have a charismatic stage show.

26. July: Lip Moves, Knight’s, Eastleigh

Local band which might have made good.

12. August: Nightshift, Jumper’s Tavern, Christchurch

The new band of Roger “Fatman” Hunt from Freshly Layed.

27. August: Last Orders, Magnums, Basingstoke

I think I reviewed this one.

August: Reading Festival 1979 with The Cure, Motörhead, The Police, Cheap Trick, Peter Gabriel, The Ramones

These were the Readings we liked.

1. September: The Outsiders, Pinecliff, Bournemouth

This time it was Tim Holt from Freshly Layed who had a new band.

10. September: Patrik Fitzgerald, Melkweg, Amsterdam

The Thieves sent me and Birgit to Amsterdam to recover from the strain. We sat behind Bob Geldof and Paula Yates in the tram.

27. September: Leo Sayer, Gaumont, Southampton

Merely in the line of duty.

28. September: Siouxsie and the Banshees, Gaumont, Southampton

This must have been shortly before the split.

29. September: The Outsiders, Pinecliff, Bournemouth

They wrote songs then that the Agency still play today.

5. October: Camel, Poole Arts Centre

Autographed backstage pass! Unfortunately there were hardly any original members left.

17. October: Camel, Gaumont, Southampton

And it isn’t shome mishtake.

31. October: Caravan, Southampton University

A sales rep. Honest!

2. November: Tours / Martian Schoolgirls, Tower Arts Centre, Winchester

Fateful show. We promoted this one and some of the audience abused the venue. My relationship with the venue’s director hasn’t recovered to this day.

18. November: The Jam / The Vapors, Poole Arts Centre

Not that long before, the Vapors had been at the Old Mill, Holbury.

25. November: The Enid, Bournemouth Winter Gardens

They had turned into a parody of a parody.

6. December: The Piranhas, Crown Hotel, Eastleigh

I don’t want my body (’cos it’s so bloody shoddy)

13. December: Last Orders, Crown Hotel, Eastleigh

Definitely reviewed this one for Musicians Only.

16. December: The Police, Gaumont, Southampton

Of course it was me they were screaming at.

26. December: Blondie, Stateside Center, Bournemouth

One of the most joyful gigs ever.


1. February: Merger, Basingstoke Technical College

Thieves supported. There were gigantic day-glo posters, but not a gigantic day-glo audience.

3. February: Tom Robinson’s Sector 27, Poole Arts Centre

A lunchtime gig!

8. February: Renaissance, Southampton University

One of those bands of imposters.

10. February: The Clash, Poole Arts Centre

The backstage pass was quite useful because it was a battlefield out front.

28. February: Joe Jackson, Gaumont, Southampton

I disapproved of the acapella “Is She Really Going Out With Him?” but now I realise it was quite good.

3. March: Gillan, Southampton University

Another interview. Whatever did we talk about?

13. February: The Clash, Top Rank, Southampton

No backstage pass, but a safe spot on the balcony. Below, it looked like the pitch at Twickenham.

14. February: Bobby Henry and the Risk, Knight’s, Eastleigh

They could have gone far. They didn’t.

27. February: The Tourists, Gaumont, Southampton

I couldn’t understand why such a crummy band had such a high profile.

15. March: The Limos, The Saints, Southampton

This was an ambitious musician called Mark Easton. He later joined Mark Andrews and the Gents.

19. March: The HGBs, Railway Inn, Winchester

Chris Willey from Attic Theatre put together this R & B band.

10. May: Inside Story, Jumpers Tavern, Christchurch

Roger Hunt had already moved on from Nightshift.

22. May: Da Biz, Brewer’s Arms, Poole

Ronnie Mayor from Tours with a new but very similar band.

31. May: Mark Andrews and the Gents, Portsmouth Polytechnic

They were so professional they made me jealous.

3. June: Whitesnake / Gary Moore’s G-Force, Gaumont, Southampton

I can’t really explain this.

27. June: John Otway / Wild Willy Barrett, The Griffin, Southampton

You needed to take out personal insurance to be in this audience.

22-24 July: Reading Festival 1980 with Samson, Iron Maiden, Slade, Whitesnake, Def Leppard

Reviewed it for Musicians Only! Favourite occupation: Dodge the Piss Bottles.

8. August: The Blazers, The Saints, Southampton

Good name. Can’t remember the band.

20. August: The Time, Plough, Durrington

The beginning of a long and happy relationship.

22. September: Ebony Rockers, Top Rank, Southampton

Charity show with good local reggae band.

26. October: Joe Jackson, Bournemouth Winter Gardens

I’d forgiven him by then. Shouldn’t have doubted him in the first place.

4. November: Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, Gaumont, Southampton

They were boring and lightweight. Synth-pop, nein danke.

13. November: Sad Café, Gaumont, Southampton

They had a singer called Paul Young. How confusing.

18. October: The Time, Waterlooville Football Club

Big venue. Were they going to break through?

29. October: Exploding Seagulls / Bitter Lemmings: Solent Suite, Southampton

One of many gigs I attended (lost the details of the others) promoted by an enterprising label called Stick It In Your Ear.

13. November: The League of Gentlemen, Royal Exeter Hotel, Bournemouth

Robert Fripp on home ground. Very intense, naturally.

15. November: The Enid, Town Hall, Eastleigh

Down and very nearly out.

24. November: The Damned, Gaumont, Southampton

Yes Yes Yes! Neat Neat Neat!

30. November: The Planets, John Peel, Gosport

Super band which I assume was messed up by the indusrty.

6. December: The Time, Sussex Hotel, Bognor

This one was recorded live.

12. December: The Kinks, Gaumont, Southampton

Eye contact, that’s what makes Ray Davies such a great live performer.


8. January: The Outsiders, Railway Inn, Winchester

One of our promotions. A new venue, still going strong today.

15. January: The Time, Railway Inn, Winchester

This is where Richard Williams was inspired to enter the world of rock and roll.

30. January: The Piranhas, King Alfred’s College, Winchester

They’d had a gigantic hit with “Tom Hark”, which didn’t represent them at all. To show their annoyance, they played a brilliant set of heavy dub reggae, which upset the audience (but not me).

14. February: The Troggs, Rock Garden, London

Valentine’s Day with Reg.

15. February: The Time, Royal Hotel, Guildford

There was a terrible fight.

26. February: The Time, Cumberland Tavern, Portsmouth

Kevin sang one song from the gents’ toilet.

28. February: Camel, Poole Arts Centre

The “Nude” tour this time. Rapidly losing patience!

6. March: The Time, John Peel, Gosport

I stayed the night and got a Chinese takeaway. Interesting stuff, isn’t it?

7. March: Dr Feelgood, Southampton University

This line-up featured John “Gypie” Mayo.

11. March: The Skavengers, Railway Inn, Winchester

One of ours. Good sub-Police white reggae.

16. March: The Who, Poole Arts Centre

With Kenney Jones, the band just didn’t feel right any more.

18. March: Games To Avoid, Railway Inn, Winchester

A serious-minded and really good band from Southampton.

21. March: The Time, Joiners Arms, Southampton.

According to the diary, I proposed to Birgit after this gig. It was obviously an inspirational gig.

25. March: The Time, Railway Inn, Winchester

One of our promotions.

1. April: Exploding Seagulls, Railway Inn, Winchester

Nick Jacobs, later of the Blue Aeroplanes, was in this band.

3. April: The Press, New Queen’s Head, Winchester

Local band which pestered me to review them in this horrible pub.

5. April: Zip Code, The Victory, Southampton

A new venue. This was a new Winchester band.

21 April: Xena Xerox, Gilbey’s, Southampton

They were furious because I didn’t think they were as good as they thought they were.

4. May: Cosmetics, Royal Exeter Hotel, Bournemouth

More like it. Richard Mazda, ex of Tours, had a great band here.

11. May: The Time / The Secret, The Victory, Southampton.

We caused a sensation by getting Tony Oxley (or was it Kevin Robinson?) to announce that we were getting married the following day.

12. May: Duballup / The Secret: Floater’s, Southampton

Oh Lord, forgive me. I went to a gig on my wedding night.

25. May: The Time / The Secret: South Parade Pier, Southsea

Not many people in a very large room.

30. May: The Time, Railway Inn, Winchester

This was Baz Mort’s mate’s birthday party but it ended in chaos when somebody tried to attack me.

3. June: Status Quo, Gaumont, Southampton

Again and Again and Again.

23. June: The Jam / The Time, Guildhall, Portsmouth

On this tour, the Jam selected local bands to support them. In Portsmouth, The Time were the obvious choice.

1. July: Zip Code, Railway Inn, Winchester

One of ours.

8. July: Headless Horsemen / The Secret, Railway Inn, Winchester

First sighting of John Parish’s first post-TLU venture.

15. July: The Skavengers, Railway Inn, Winchester

One of ours.

22. July: The Time, Railway Inn, Winchester

One of ours.

31. July: The Time, The John Peel, Gosport

Home territory.

28-30 July: Reading Festival 1981 with Girlschool, Gillan, Nine Below Zero, The Kinks

I had been relegated to the Hants Chronicle, Musicians Only having closed in November 1980.

1. September: Joe Jackson’s Jumpin’ Jive / The Time, Locarno, Portsmouth

The critics didn’t like this good-time band, but I thought they were fun. Brilliant rhythm section: Graham Maby and Larry Tolfree.

23. September: Cosmetics, Railway Inn, Winchester

A last-minute booking. Richard Furter from Freshly Layed was in Cosmetics by now, making them seriously funky.

2. October: The Bomb, Stowaways, Southampton

What a strange night. This was an unrehabilitated Peter Green, three-inch fingernails and all, playing with local Southampton musicians.

9. October: Cosmetics,Bournemouth Town Hall (with Alternative TV)

ATV were hilariously incompetent.

22. October: The Time, Joiners Arms, Southampton

The venue was completely laid waste by Portsmouth football thugs.

29. October: Exploding Seagulls, Winchester Art School

They were on the Fried Egg label, you know.

30 October: Biz Internationale, Jokers, Bournemouth

First encounter with a storming seven-piece band consisting of Dabiz plus a brass section.

3. November: Madness, Gaumont, Southampton

The ANL leaflets said “Support Madness, Not Racism”. Well said.

13. November: Bad Manners, Gaumont, Southampton

Only because Magnet Records gave me free tickets.

22. November: IQ, Park Hotel, Southampton

I had given a bad review to a heavy metal band called Berlin. Someone pointed me out to their leather-clad supporters, so I did a bunk.

27. November: Rick Wakeman, Gaumont, Southampton

I was very, very rude about this.

16. December: Squeeze, Top Rank, Southampton

Now this really was a band with everything going for it..

19. December: Four People I Have Known, Railway Inn, Winchester

Ex-members of Zip code, including Paul Bringloe, were in this interesting band.

24. December: Tom Robinson Band, Marquee, London

Sweaty end-of-year show, backed by Cosmetics.

31. December: Outsiders, Pinecliff, Bournemouth

Birgit didn’t like the fact that complete strangers insisted on kissing her. I didn’t like that fact either.


1. January: The Time, Cumberland Tavern, Portsmouth

Or maybe this was the one where Kevin sang from the bog.

8. January: Sadista Sisters, Quartier Latin, Berlin, Germany

They were scary on stage but I got to chat to them afterwards and found them charming.

24. February: Four People I Have Known, The Victory, Southampton

This band was beginning to catch on.

13. March: Budgie, Winchester Recreation Centre

Some naive promoters lost their shirts on this one. The curse of the Recreation Centre struck again.

21. March: Haircut 100, Poole Arts Centre

“Love Plus One” is still one of my all-time favourite singles.

28. March: XTC, Gaumont, Southampton

Terrible sound problems and far too loud.

6. April: Headless Horsemen, Cathedral Hotel, Salisbury

The début of John Parish’s Spiderman pullover.

8. April: Graham Parker, Gaumont, Southampton

He had a new backing band and had lost all his sparkle.

11. April: Four People I Have Known, Folly Market, Petersfield

We flogged a lot of cassettes.

16. April: Headless Horsemen, Crispin Hall, Street

A “Sheep Worrying” Showcase. Apart from us, there were two paying customers. What is more, Street, being a Quaker town, has no pubs.

17. April: Biz Internationale, Midnight Express, Bournemouth

A cool new club with a cool new band.

24. April: Cosmetics, Midnight Express, Bournemouth

A cool new club with a cool not-so-new band.

28. April: Headless Horsemen, Joiners Arms, Southampton

Getting around a bit.

5. May: Four People I Have Known, Saddle Bars, Bransgore

Nice venue in a New Forest barn.

21. May: The Time, Pinecliff, Bournemouth

They didn’t go down so well in Bournemouth for some reason.

22. May: Camel, Poole Arts Centre

That was it. I’d had enough.

26. May: Biz Internationale, The Waterfront, Southampton

The single was forthcoming.

1. June: Rory Gallagher, Gaumont, Southampton

Much the same as last time.

25. June: Rolling Stones, Wembley Stadium

I nearlygot piles.

26. June: Burnt Offerings Showcase with Four People I Have Known, Headless Horsemen and The Time, Tower Arts Centre, Winchester

I’ve got a live tape of this. It was bloody good.

30. June: Ideal, The Venue, London

The best representatives of the Neue Deutsche Welle. I tried to start a roll in Musicians Weekly, but it didn’t catch on.

7. July: High Risk, John Peel, Gosport

Heavy rock with its just about acceptable face on.

6. August: Biz Internationale, The Waterfront, Southampton

Now the single was out.

7. August: Tiger Tiger, Ad Lib Club, Kensington, London

Some stunning girls from Alresford. One of them went out with that blonde curly-haired drummer who’s in Status Quo and we went to tea with them.

12. August: Joe Jackson, Gaumont, Southampton

All eyes were on his superb percussionist Sue Hadjopoulos.

11. September: Chinatown, Theatre Royal, Winchester

An absolutely terrible show-off heavy rock band.

25. September: Gerry Hackett and the Fringes, John Peel, Gosport

The latest incarnation of The Time, playing hilarious Sixties covers to pay off some debts. Quite priceless.

2. October: The Beat, Poole Arts Centre

Margaret didn’t Stand Down, but they gave it their best shot.

4. October: Wishbone Ash, Guildhall, Southampton

Never! But here it is in black and white.

5. October: The Damned, Guildhall, Portsmouth

Rat Scabies. Now that really is a good name.

5. November: Look Back In Anger, Havant Arts Centre

A Goth character called Jim Newby kept pestering me about his band. They briefly looked as if they might go somewhere.

13. November: Two Finger Zen, West End Centre, Aldershot

Performance art from Fred Bolton and other ex-Exploding Seagulls.

18. November: Talk Talk, Gaumont, Southampton

This mincing load of ninnies was later to throw off music biz conventions and turn into one of the greatest British bands of all time.

24. November: Siouxsie and the Banshees, Gaumont, Southampton

They had a brilliant light show.

3. December: Gillan, Poole Arts Centre

Bathing In Safe Water, said the headline. I though Gillan might one day do something interesting, but now he’s back in Deep Purple.

10. December: Whitesnake, Gaumont, Southampton

A Bite To Sicken, said the headline. It’s rare for me to walk out of a gig, but I walked out of this one.

19. December: The Kinks, Bournemouth Winter Gardens

We were in the front row and by the end I felt as if Ray Davies was my best friend. “Low Budget” was a bit of a classic rock song.

11. January: Factory, Forum des Halles, Paris, France

On a course in France and in desperate need of a musical injection.

18. February: Games To Avoid, Joiners Arms, Southampton

Still plugging away.

25. February: Biz Internationale, Midnight Express, Bournemouth

Still plugging away.

3. March: Thin Lizzy, Gaumont, Southampton

It was great the way Phil Lynott reflected the spotlight off the scratchplate of his guitar back onto the audience. Well, I thought so anyway.

6. March: U2, Guildhall, Portsmouth

I thought they were pompous then and I still think they’re pompous now. Bono scaled the balcony and planted a flag. Why?

9. March: Gerry Hackett and the Fringes, The Waterfront, Southampton

The Fareham Creek beat.

11. March: Fun Boy Three, Poole Arts Centre

Someone in the foyer said, “What’s that old bloke doing here?” I turned round and discovered she was talking about me.

12. March: 10CC, Gaumont, Southampton

Hardly recognised a soul.

15. March: Van Morrison, Bournemouth Winter Gardens

What everybody should experience at least once: a terrible performance from a genius who has “off” days.

26. March: Gerry Hackett and the Fringes, John Peel, Gosport

Don Your Moptops.

2. April: Spandau Ballet, The Pavilion, Bournemouth

I thought Spandau Ballet were really good. All their effete followers came down from London and there was lots of tartan in evidence.

30. April: Weapon of Peace, Portsmouth Polytechnic

If it wasn’t for the fact that I reviewed them, I wouldn’t remember a thing.

4. May: Gerry Hackett and the Fringes, Railway Inn, Winchester

Birgit was more than a bit pregnant, so we held a “Quick Before It’s Too Late” Party.

12. May: Roman Holliday, Bournemouth Academy

They wore sailor suits.

21. May: Gerry Hackett and the Fringes, Sparshalt College, Winchester

Unfortunately, the students were all far too young to recognise any of the songs.

8. June: Après Ski, The Waterfront, Southampton

A variation on Biz Internationale with a new frontman. Ronnie Mayor had finally given up and emigrated to Australia.

10. June: Chris Rea, Guildhall, Southampton

Only because Magnet Records sent me free tickets. His allure evaded me.

20. June: Steve Winwood, Théâtre Municipale, Luxembourg

In my Top Ten gigs of all time. After this, he became involved in Corporate Rock and went rapidly downhill.

28. June: Eurythmics, Gaumont, Southampton

Not much better than the Tourists.

30 June: Four People I Have Known, Mash Tun, Winchester

On the way down

8. July: Weeke Jokes II, Henry Beaufort School, Winchester

My band, man (again, but a different one featuring Mr Richard Williams.)

16. July: Steve Winwood, Gaumont, Southampton

Birgit being unavailable, I went with the girl next door. A mistake, since she spent the evening telling me about the Alan Parsons Project.

3. August: Après Ski, Waterfront, Southampton

It just wasn’t the same.

5. September: Gerry Hackett and the Fringes, Cumberland Tavern, Portsmouth

I’ve got it. THIS was the one where Kevin sang from the bog.

24. October: Automatic Dlamini, Bristol Bridge Inn, Bristol

A rare opportunity for me to do a bit of “mime mixing”.

6. November: Gerry Hackett and the Fringes, BBC, Southampton

This was a recording of something called the Cellar Show, presented by John Sessions. He done well, didn’t he?

26. November: The Primary / Big Bear Little Bear, New Bridge Inn, Southampton

Paul Bringloe was in Big Bear Little Bear and I liked them.


3. February: The Hollies, Guildhall, Portsmouth

Tony’s flattened hamster was in good nick.

10. February: Laughter In The Garden, Joiners Arms, Southampton

A spin-off from Lip Moves.

27. March: Views From A Park Bench, Henry Beaufort School, Winchester

Students danced to my rendition of “Watch It” in this Dance production. It wasn’t exactly “Dance Hll at Louse Point” but the principle was similar.

13 and 14 April: REM, Knust Club, Hamburg, Germany

I still have the poster on my wall.

15. April: UB40, CCH, Hamburg, Germany

Confirmed as the most boring band of all time.

8. May: Camel, Guildhall, Portsmouth


21 May 1984: The Sound, Marquee, London

I shed tears when Adrian Borland died. A shocking case of unrecognised talent.

2. June: King, La Sainte Union College, Southampton

Pop-art Doc Martens were sported by this lot. Paul King became a pop TV presenter.

11. June: Tim Barron, Greyhound, London

Tim teamed up with an ex-member of Suzi Quatro’s band, but it didn’t work out.

22-24. June: Glastonbury Festival with Ian Dury, Dr John, The Smiths, Elvis Costello

I built up my biceps pushing the buggy around.

9. July: Status Quo, Gaumont, Southampton

… and Again and Again and Again …

28. July: Automatic Dlamini, Antelope Hotel, Sherborne

Aha! Something stirs down in Dorset.

17. November: Lords of the New Church / Wall of Voodoo, Portsmouth Polytechnic

Richard Mazda had produced an album for Wall of Voodoo. That was the connection.


4. January: Rocking Erics, Pinecliff, Bournemouth

A short-lived project by Tim Holt. Not many gigs this year? Having a baby and spending half the year on secondment in France is the explanation.

7. February: Killing Joke, Southampton Guildhall

They were supposed to be terrifying but were loud and uninteresting.

27. April: Richard Thompson, Dominion Theatre, London

This was the one where poor Richard was booed off by rampant Pogues fans. “Richard Thompson, who the fucking hell is he?” Sad. The Boothill Foottappers wre also on the bill.

22-24. June: Glastonbury Festival with Ian Dury, New Model Army, Style Council

“The Year Of The Mud”. We survived, although it took two days to clean up the buggy. At least it was character-building.

6. July: Alvin Stardust / Mud, South Wonston, Winchester

In the line of duty for the Hants Chronicle.


4. January: Sting, BIC, Bournemouth

In his jazzy phase. Andy Summers put in a guest appearance, of course.

1. February: The Bangles, Portsmouth Polytechnic

Now this was a privilege. They were brilliant live.

15. March: Wall of Voodoo, Marquee, London

However did they get their cactuses through customs?

16. March: The Merseybeats / Marmalade: Theatre Royal, Winchester

Rather poor Sixties package tour.

8. May: Talk Talk, Hammersmith Odeon, London

Living In Another World. They were indeed.

20-22. June: Glastonbury Festival with The Pogues, Psychedelic Furs, Robert Cray, Simply Red, Level 42

Extract from review: It’s 3 a.m. and the wind is blowing an icy gale, gusting violently at storm force speeds. High up on the hillside, a lone emaciated figure, clad only in a pair of flimsy underpants, struggles to prevent his flapping tent from disappearing over the precipice. Images of Stone Age Man are evoked as he bravely hammers at the bent tent pegs with a rough hewn flint.

Of course, my wife and one-year old baby slept through the entire thing.

26. July: The Agency, Pinecliff, Bournemouth

First appearance of the Soul Searchers, made up of various Bournemouth stalwarts. The world’s best party band.

12. October: Curtis Mayfield, Top Rank, Southampton

A fine man.

22. October: Mighty Lemon Drops / Pop Will Eat Itself, Southampton University

The support was a tad more interesting than the headline.

27. October: Tom Robinson Band, Salisbury Arts Centre

Our secret weapon to ensure that Lucy would be interested in music. Birgit was seven months pregnant. They played “War Baby” before it was released and I’m proud to say I predicted it would be a hit.


1. February: Robert Fripp, Nuffield Theatre, Southampton

The League of Crafty Guitarists. Fripp seemed to have lost his sense of humour.

29. March: Hollies, Guildhall, Portsmouth

They didn’t get any better, but they didn’t get any worse either.

3. April: The Agency, Twyford Parish Hall

The first of a great many visits to our home village.

19-21. June: Glastonbury Festival with Richard Thompson, Elvis Costello, New Order, The Communards

Christ! A DOUBLE buggy! It was exhausting.

10. July: The Agency, St John’s Rooms, Winchester

Typical bloody Winchester. This Winchester Hat Fair show was ruined by beermonsters.

18. September: Kelly McGuinness Rhythm Method, Boar’s Head, Wickham

A new blues venue which had opened in a country and western club called the Poderosa. It felt like being in an American roadhouse.

28. October: Flik Spatula / Who’s In The Kitchen, Southampton University

Two really good Southampton bands.

2. November: Bad News, Guildhall, Portsmouth

The Comic Strip being comic. The TV joke did not transfer well.

4. November: 10,000 Maniacs, Basins, Portsmouth

A horrible venue at the top of a multi-storey car park voted Europe’s ugliest building. A loss-leading gig for a fine band from the US.

11. December: The Agency, Henry Beaufort School, Winchester

They got lost and arrived late but played a stormer for the staff “do”.

14. December: Automatic Dlamini / Betty Pages, Railway Inn, Winchester

Aha! One of ours. The greatness of this band was becoming apparent.


26. January: Stitch, Joiners Arms, Southampton

This was the first-ever Next Big Thing gig. Stitch had previously been Games To Avoid and[1] had shortened their name from Stitched Back Foot Airman.

3. February: Roachford, Basins, Portsmouth

A promo for “Due South”. Sensibly, the band refused to play until they got paid.

9. February: Blurt, Joiners Arms, Southampton

First of three Joiners appearances from Bristol avant-garde screechers.

24. March: Automatic Dlamini: Railway Inn, Winchester

Back again and more and more exciting.

20. March: FSK, Joiners Arms, Southampton

“I Wish I Could Sprechen Sie Deutsch” sang these John Peel favourites on a rare visit to Blighty.

22. June: M Walking On The Water, Joiners Arms, Southampton

Another groovy German band. I have NINE albums by M Walking On The Water, even though one of them tried to chat up my wife.

23. August: Rainbirds, Riverside Studios, Hammersmith, London

This was where that horrible Chris Evans recorded TFI Friday. Yet another German band, and one that made two really good albums.

17. September: Duck Soup, Twyford Parish Hall

Portsmouth r & b band played at a 40th birthday party for me and Will Thallon.

5. October: Steve Winwood, Royal Albert Hall, London

I got vertigo in the upper balcony. And Winwood had lost it.

14. October: The Hollies, Poole Arts Centre

Jochen Schmidt and his girlfriend Vicky turned up out of the blue. Oliver: Vicky, what did you think of the Hollies’ version of ‘Purple Rain’?” Vicky: “It was Scheisse”.

27. October: Roachford, Quartier Latin, Berlin, Germany

“Cuddly Toy” sounded good.

19. November: The Agency, White Buck, Burley

New Forest Frolics.

25. November: Billy Bragg / Michelle Shocked / Beatnigs, Guildhall, Portsmouth

The ultimate package tour. The Beatnigs attacked sheets of metal with electric saws, just like Einstürzende Neubauten.


12. January: Wolfhounds, Joiners Arms, Southampton

They were supported by the Mild Mannered Janitors from Portsmouth.

11. February: Throwing Muses, Portsmouth Polytechnic

A great band which opened the doors for a whole lot more great bands.

11. March: The Agency, Mean Fiddler, Harlesden, London

I took Craig Whipsnade, but he wasn’t keen on them.

19. April: REM, Portsmouth Guildhall

Wonderful double bill with the Blue Aeroplanes. Michael Stipe appeared to be wearing a staightjacket.

23. May: Big Dipper, Joiners Arms, Southampton

Good American band. Supported by Strange Fruit, later to become Trip.

16-18 June: Glastonbury Festival with Suzanne Vega, Van Morrison, Elvis Costello

Extract from the review: I observe a curry stall for half an hour and do some sums. Veg curry and pitta costs £4. There are six people serving, on average, one customer a minute each. This means they’re making £1440 an hour. Nice work! One festival a year and the rest of the year on the Costa Brava.

26. July: Senseless Things, River Park, Winchester

Winchester’s pathetic attempt at a “festival”.

6. August: The Templemeads, Mash Tun, Winchester

What a great name. A truly likeable “raggle-taggle” band, which made an album with the marvellous title “Ate My Kitchen”.

26. August: The Agency, White Buck, Burley

More stirrings down in the Forest.

9. September: Flik Spatula / Eat, Joiners Arms, Southampton

Later, Flik’s guitarist actually joined Eat.

14. October: Van Morrison, Gaumont, Southampton

Back to top form. My ribald friend Malcolm Payne pretended he thought it was Jim Morrison.

14. December: Automatic Dlamini, Railway Inn, Winchester

The first ever sighting round these parts of Polly Jean Harvey.


11. January: Automatic Dlamini, Joiners Arms, Southampton

I videoed this classic gig. Support came from ex-Chesterfields the Betty Pages.

15. February: Giant Sand, Joiners Arms, Southampton

Howe Gelb found an old upright piano and spent most of the show improvising blues on it. He couldn’t have hated me because we’d never met.

18. March: Kevin Coyne, Tower Arts Centre, Winchester

His hair had gone white but he still had the magic.

27 March: The Brilliant Corners, Joiners Arms. Southampton

First of four Joiners appearances from these under-recognised Bristolians.

7. April: The Hollies, Mayflower, Southampton

Sorry Suzanne.

14. June: Whisky Priests, Railway Inn, Winchester

Bloody typical Winchester again. There was a punch-up, wasn’t there.

23-25. June: Glastonbury Festival with The Cure etc.

On the way home we crashed into exactly the same bridge outside Salisbury that the Rolling Stones had crashed into decades earlier. I promise I didn’t do it on purpose.

9. July: Spirit of the West, Railway Inn, Winchester

An American band at the Railway. Blimey!

28. August: An Emotional Fish, Joiners Arms, Southampton

Hilarious. They brought an articulated lorry full of gear and got it stuck in St Mary Street. Serve them right.

5. September: John Otway, Railway Inn, Winchester

He couldn’t get far up the step ladder because the ceiling was so low.

10. October: Die Toten Hosen, Subterrania, London

Mad German punks. “Dead Trousers” – that’s a good name.

10. November: Van Morrison, Mayflower, Southampton

When he’s good, he’s very very good.

15. November: The Becketts, Joiners Arms, Southampton

John Parish produced this Bristol band which specialised in controversial posters.

24. November: Happy End, Hope Centre, Bristol

Improvised jazz in the mould of Loose Tubes.This was interesting. It was the first evidence that John Parish was a star in Bristol. Every two minutes, people came up to shake his hand.


11. January: The Agency, Bournemouth Pavilion

It was a trifle chilly on the seafront.

2. February: Return to the Forbidden Planet, Cambridge Theatre, London

The return of Tim Barron, starring in this blockbuster musical.

14. February: Trip, West Indian Club, Southampton

They’d just been signed and everything was set fair.

23. March: Maria McKee, Academy, Manchester

Maria can knock Spots off all the Alanis Morrisettes of this wirld.

25. May: BAP / Bob Geldof’s Vegetarians of Love, Hamburg, Germany

A sort of festival. Dave Stewart’s band played as well. All the music was lemantable and I froze half to death.

31. May: Joe Jackson, CCH, Hamburg

The Laughter and Lust tour. Not much of either, unfortunately.

5. August: John Otway / Attilla the Stockbroker, Guildhall, Winchester

Hat Fair Cabaret, compèred by Arthur Smith.

22. August: Trip, West Indian Club, Southampton

Never was a band more “up for it”.

29. August: Thin White Rope, Joiners Arms, Southampton

This was the 200th Next Big Thing gig.

8. September: The Blues Band, City Hall, Salisbury

Chilling. In the audience was the Languages Adviser who for years ensured that I didn’t get promotion. If she was a Blues Band fan, I couldn’t be.

26. October: Runrig, Modernes, Bremen

Christmas in Germany makes you desperate. One good thing: The roof of the venue swung open to reveal the stars.

21. December: PJ Harvey, Joiners Arms, Southampton

Hadn’t we seen this girl somewhere before?

29. December: Cropdusters / Trip, East Point Centre, Southampton

A horrible old school hall.


17. January: Robyn Hitchcock / PJ Harvey: ULU, London

Poor Robyn was upstaged and the press was out in force. I had a nasty experience in the bar. A bloke called Jon Driscoll from Waltham Chase, who years before had successfully hassled me to plug his fanzine “Teenage Kicks”, had become a music media darling by the name of Jon Beast. I spotted him and went over to congratulate him on his success. He blanked me.

15. February: Gallon Drunk, Joiners Arms, Southampton

The support band was Asphalt Ribbons, later to become Tindersticks.

12. March: John Cambell, Boar’s Head, Wickham

In my Top Ten gigs of all time.

13. March: Birdland / Trip, Southampton University

I cycled there and left after my boys.

28. March: The Hamsters / The Producers, Boar’s Head, Wickham

The Hamsters did annoyingly pointless Hendrix covers.

24. April: The Fall, Grosse Freiheit 36, Hamburg

I nearly died. See the book.

5. May: Dr Feelgood, Boar’s Head, Wickham

Farewell, Sir Lee. We shall not hear his like again.

27. May: PJ Harvey, Pyramids, Portsmouth

This was shattering. Got to go again tomorrow.

28. May: PJ Harvey / Automatic Dlamini, Bierkeller, Bristol

So I did. John Parish nearly fell off the stage when he saw me leering out of the audience.

3. June: Automatic Dlamini, The Gardens, Yeovil

A night club complete with palm trees. I scattered flyers to the winds.

26-28 June: Glastonbury Festival with Van Morrison, Lou Reed, PJ Harvey, Shakespears Sister

Watching PJH, my children had their first view of crowd surfing.

14. July: Rolling Stones, Wembley Stadium

Actually it was Wilco Johnson. Some idiot lost the Stones tickets.

24. July: K-Passa, Gosport Festival

“Bollocks”, they shouted.

3. August: The Fall, Pyramids, Portsmouth

Less eventful than Hamburg.

25. August: Eugenius / Urge Overkill, Joiners Arms, Southampton

There was little sign that the American support band would end up in the charts.

7. September: Throwing Muses, Pyramids, Portsmouth

Good birthday present.

9. October: Joe Ely / Coal Porters, Boar’s Head, Wickham

Right, I must go to Austin, Texas. Immediately.

28. October: Guitar Orchestra / Passing Clouds, BID, Berlin, Germany

I attended this in an effort to promote the Dlamini album, and bumped into ex-pupil Adam Green as well.

26. November: That Petrol Emotion, Pyramids, Portsmouth

Another band which deserved to do far better than it did.

8. December: The Sundays, Pyramids, Portsmouth

It was hard to see what made this band at all special.

15. December: Automatic Dlamini, The Cricketers, Oval, London

This was their last ever gig. I was the only paying customer.


12. January: Otis Grand, Boar’s Head, Wickham

He did a guitar walkabout and nearly trampled me to death.

13. January: The Wishplants, Powerhaus, Islington, London

After the band had gone off, they pulled a curtain across the stage and started up a disco.

2. February: Stereo MCs, Pyramids, Portsmouth

They took ten years to make a second album.

23. February: Belly, Pyramids, Portsmouth

Belly had a gorgeous heavy metal bassist.

24. February: Suede, Pyramids, Portsmouth

Concave stomachs a go-go.

3. March: The Auteurs, Joiners Arms, Southampton

They thought they were pretty wonderful. Last time they had played at the Joiners, they had been supporting Suede.

9. March: Birdland, Joiners Arms, Southampton

Funniest Joiners gig ever. They asked Mint to turn out the lights so they could make a spectacular entrance. Unfortunately, they forgot to ask him to turn them on again and thus played their first two numbers in complete darkness.

22. April: The Heartthrobs, Joiners Arms, Southampton

A great band built around the Carlotti sisters. Should have been a lot better known.

22. May: PJ Harvey, Guildhall, Southampton

Support gang Gallon Drunk were destroyed by the soundman. PJH were inspiring.

12. June: The Agency, Twyford Parish Hall

The support band, Moosehead, featured Mark Meredith and his brother Guy.

24. June: Arthur Brown, Joiners Arms, Southampton

No flaming headdress. A poor advertisement for the rock & roll lifestyle.

25-27 June: Glastonbury Festival with Donovan, Barenaked Ladies, Midnight Oil and The Kinks

I have a video of this weekend.

20. July: Underground Lovers / ILA, Joiners Arms, Southampton

ILA was a school band I was looking after.

24. July: Richard Thompson, Gosport Festival

He annoyingly didn’t bring a band with him.

26. July: The Blues Band, Gosport Festival

Phew! No sign of the Languages Adviser.

24. August: U2, Pairc Ui Chaoimh, Cork, Ireland

This involved a lengthy journey though the night. Was it worth it? Was it heck.

18. September: Richard Sinclair’s Caravan, The Gantry, Southampton

They were all in an awful state. Andy Ward, Camel’s original drummer, was unrecognisable.

24. September: Smokin’ Joe Kubek / The Hoax, Boar’s Head, Wickham

Sometimes, a band is just a revelation. The Hoax was such a band.

4. October: Clive Gregson, Railway Inn , Winchester

Some folk is good.

7. October: The Breeders, Pyramids, Portsmouth

The Deal sisters looked like they’d done a few too many Deals.

28. October: The Wedding Present, Joiners Arms, Southampton

Indie cult favourites. Not with me.

21. November: Robyn Hitchcock, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

Not many people present. He will never be more than a cult, admit it.

2. November: World Party, Portsmouth Poly

Actually I do Wanna Sail In This Ship of Fools.


15. January: The Soft Boys, Astoria, London

How sweet: a reunion. It sold out, too.

27. January: Cornershop, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

I loved their wilful non-commerciality. What a thrill when they finally got a hit, much later. On this occasion, there can’t have been more than 30 people there.

7. February: The Blue Aeroplanes, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

It looked as if they were finally going to achieve a breakthrough. The place was packed. Almost exactly six years later in the same venue, you couldn’t give tickets away.

9. March: Trans-Global Underground, Southampton University

Everybody appeared to have been taking Ecstasy or something.

11. March: Paul Weller, Guildhall, Portsmouth

He had that bloke from Ocean Colour Scene with him.

18. March: Silver Rattles, Twyford Parish Hall

A Beatles tribute? Why? Because Phil Campbell, from The Time was on bass. I very nearly electrocuted myself.

21. April: Walter Trout Band, Pyramids, Portsmouth

A horrible over-the-top guitar show-off.

2. May: Oasis, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

“Marginally less interesting than a slumbering lugworm”. I don’t feel ashamed of this verdict. It just took everyone else a few years to catch up with the truth.

8. June: Peter Perrett and the One, Joiners Arms, Southampton

Having never seen the Only Ones, this was the next best thing. But he was a bad advert for heroin.

24-26. June: Glastonbury Festival with Nick Cave, The Levellers, Paul Weller, James

Not one of the most memorable festivals.

19. July: The Agency, Twyford Parish Hall

Back again.

16. September: The Steamkings, Joiners Arms, Southampton

Good local band which kept plugging away for years.

27. September: Pretenders, Guildhall, Portsmouth

Nobody can wear leather trousers like Chrissie can.

4. October: Radiohead, Pyramids, Portsmouth

I don’t remember whether they were any good. But they were sniffy about playing “Creep”. Shouldn’t have bloody written it then.

13. October: Sugar, Pyramids, Portsmouth

The trouble with Bob Mould is that after a while it all begins to sound the same.

22. November: Electrafixion, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

Effectively it was Echo and the Bunnymen. And it wasn’t very good.

25. November: Tom Robinson, Tower Arts Centre, Winchester

Now completely solo. Support was TV Smith from the Adverts.

21. December: The Agency, Twyford Parish Hall

Public demand.


6. January: The Surfing Brides, Boar’s Head, Wickham

They came highly recommended, but they weren’t that good.

20. January: Joe Jackson, Guildhall, Portsmouth

The “Night Moves” tour. It began brilliantly with “Home Town” starting to coincide with the chiming of the Guildhall clock.

9. February: Supergrass / Bluetones, Joiners Arms, Southampton

A typically inspired Mint double bill. I preferred the Bluetones.

14. February: Richard Thompson, Pyramids, Portsmouth

Why doesn’t he ever bring a band? How can you prromote an electric album with an acoustic set?

6. March: Sleeper, Joiners Arms, Southampton

They did several Joiners shows, including a free one in 1993.

11. March: PJ Harvey, Shephards Bush Empire

Tricky was the support act. He didn’t get on with Island Records either.

17. March: John Otway, Tower Arts Centre, Winchester

Not exactly the most responsive audience.

19. March: David Thomas and Two Pale Boys, Joiners Arms, Southampton

Almost like having Pere Ubu in your living room.

4. April: Elastica, Pyramids, Portsmouth

Hard to believe that we’d have to wait five years before a chance to see them again.

11. May: PJ Harvey, The Forum, London

We went there via Swindon. Unintentionally.

22. May: Kirsty McColl, Pyramids, Portsmouth

A little Twyford charabanc outing, culminating with fish and chips.

15. June: Bettie Serveert, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

Really good band from Holland, who turned out to have a surprisingly large UK following.

24-26. June: Glastonbury Festival with Oasis, PJ Harvey, Portishead, Pulp

This was the year of the pink catsuit.

6. July: Elastica / Gene, The Forum, London

An NME Brat show. They purposely positioned the lights to highlight Justine Frischmann’s breasts.

18. July: Black Grape, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

This was one of their first ever shows. A good moment to catch them, as they were still bursting with enthusiasm and something approaching good health.

19 July: Duffy, Joiners Arms, Southampton

Yes, Steven “Tin Tin” Duffy. An artist who deserved more recognition. The audience kept calling out for Duran Duran numbers! Drummer James Powell (Georgie Fame’s son) had played with, guess who, Automatic Dlamini.

24. July: Tom Robinson, Gosport Festival

He brought a band with him but they weren’t much good.

5. August: The Feile Festival, Cork, Ireland, with M People, Sleeper, The Boo Radleys and Blur

What a shame! There was hardly anyone there, so the girls got to be on Irish TV just by dancing around in front of the stage. In a Guinness-fuelled frenzy, I finally got my ear pierced.

10. August: Kinky Machine, Joiners Arms, Southampton

Later to become Rialto, they played at the Joiners four times.

11. October: Sleeper, Pyramids, Portsmouth

I took my friend Trevor but he wasn’t impressed: “She can’t sing!”

19. October: Echobelly, Joiners Arms, Southampton

Drummer Andy Henderson had been in Automatic Dlamini. Me, I tried to square the apparent picture of innocence that was Sonja Aurora Madan with a lascivious interview with her which I had read in that week’s NME.


17. January: Perfume, Joiners Arms, Southampton

They had five different styles of promotional postcard. Five!

22. January: Björk, BIC, Bournemouth

We first had to sit through the Brodski Quartet caterwauling for an hour.

24. January: Placebo, Joiners Arms, Southampton

My idea of a truly terrible band.

25. January: Catatonia, Joiners Arms, Southampton

First sight of Cerys in action and one thing was obvious: This is a star.

5. February: Northern Uproar, Joiners Arms, Southampton

A lot of fuss about nothing.

11. February: Number One Cup, Joiners Arms, Southampton

Is this a bra size?

22. February: Alan Price and the Electric Blues Company, Bridport Arts Centre

Awful to behold. Here were musicians who had once been worthy of respect.

23. February: The Producers, Tower Arts Centre, Winchester

First taste of something very rare: A Brit blues band with taste and flair.

26. February: Echobelly, Pyramids, Portsmouth

They had a fantastic soppy slow song at the end.

3. March: Audioweb / Mansun, Joiners Arms, Southampton

One of those “whoo” moments. Mansun are absolutely my kind of band. “We are destined to be stars and nothing will stop us”.

4. March: Screeper / Velcro, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

Screeper’s manager Tony Rollinson reminded me so much of me in Thieves days that I suspected I’d died and been reincarnated.

12. March: The Bluetones, Pyramids, Portsmouth

They found the transition to a big stage problematic.

2. April: Tiny Monroe, Joiners Arms, Southampton

Four piece in the style of Echobelly / Sleeper. Great stage presence.

14. April: Catatonia / Space, The Brook, Southampton

Some Welsh double bill. Unfortunately, this super venue is now used almost exclusively by bloody tribute bands.

17. April: Aimee Mann, Shephards Bush Empire, London

In the audience was Tony Banks, a future government minister. A good reason to vote Labour, then.

27. April: Pete Harris Blues Band/ XL5, Twyford Parish Hall

An unpromising name for actually a quite swinging dance band. Dear old Mark Andrews fronted ZXL5.

17. May: Bottomless Pit Orchestra, The Eagle, Winchester

This was Chris Willey back again, playing in a fleapit.

26. May: Essential Festival, Brighton with Audioweb, Bis, Drugstore, Echobelly, Baby Bird, Whipping Boy

I went with Lucy and it pissed all day. Whipping Boy were brilliant, whatever became of them?

6. June: Sleeper, Southampton Guildhall

They failed, like every other band, to overcome the acoustics.

16. June: Freakpower, Portsmouth Polytechnic

This time I went with Annabel and the bouncers were awkward. We had a backstage pass, however, courtesy of the bassist Jesse, who had been in a musical with Tim Barron. Norman Cook is a better rhythm guitarist than a DJ, he was great.

17. June: Mansun, Joiners Arms, Southampton

Headlining now.

5. July: The Agency, Twyford Parish Hall

More soul searching.

17. July: Tiger / Linoleum, Joiners Arms, Southampton

I put my name on Linoleum’s mailing list and for the next few years, I kept receiving bits of lino through the post. I nearly accumulated enough to finish the kitchen floor.

20 – 21 July: Womad Festival, Reading

Lots of good people whose names I can’t spell.

26. July: Bottomless Pit Orchestra, The Eagle, Winchester

More fleas.

4. September: Sneaker Pimps / Screeper, Joiners Arms, Southampton

One of the Sneaker Pimps took a call on his mobile phone on stage. Cool or what?

7. September: Howe Gelb, The Pit, Farnham

My birthday treat. As he was a friend of John Parish’s, we offered to help Howe get to the nearest railway station, but he refused. He doesn’t like me.

9. September: Robyn Hitchcock / Homer, Joiners Arms, Southampton

Someone wrote an incomprehensible letter to the Chronicle about Homer.

18. September: Linoleum, Joiners Arms, Southampton

I spotted a brilliant guitarist in this band, and lo and behold, he later joined Elastica.

24. September: Longpigs, Pyramids, Portsmouth

A Crispin and a Crispian within a fortnight. What’s rock & roll coming to?

27. September: XL5, The Bridge, Shawford

Not even Mark Andrews could awaken the audience in this “Ignore the band” pub.

1. October: Kula Shaker: Pyramids, Portsmouth

When I went to the bar, I looked to the left and saw Richard Branson (record company boss). Then I looked to the right and saw Sir John Mills (Crispian’s grandfather).

2. October: Nils Lofgren, The Brook, Southampton

Quite nice to drive ten minutes down the road and see a legend in a pub.

5. October: John Parish and PJ Harvey, The Cavity, Bridport

The best night of my life.

6. October: The Hoax, The Brook, Southampton

Would they break through? They’d already been on Later With Jools Holland.

8. October: John Parish and PJ Harvey, Fleece and Firkin, Bristol

We stayed at a guest house in Whitchurch called Revilo. It wasn’t very good.

12. October: The Producers, The Brook, Southampton

They kept playing until they more or less had to be carried offstage.

13. October: Nut, Joiners Arms, Southampton

A girl singer briefly touted by some record company. The name wasn’t too promising.

16. October: Audioweb, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

The press hated this band but I thought the combination of soulful vocals and chunky guitars was quite clever.

4. November: Drugstore, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

The crowd was small but the amount of red wine consumed on stage was large.

5. November: Catatonia, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

The buzz was growing fast now.

16. November: Edward II, RKL Club, Gosport

The most danceable band on the planet, it said. Unfortunately, the audience was clinically dead.

18. November: Scheer, Joiners Arms, Southampton

Good band from Northern Ireland. “Head” from Yeovil was doing the sound.

30. November: La Cucina, RKL Club, Gosport / K-Passa, The Brook, Southampton

A trawl for a danceable band to play in Twyford.

12. December: Peter Green Splinter Group, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

Cozy Powell was on drums!

20. December: The Hoax, Salisbury Arts Centre

Also in my top ten gigs ever.

21. December: The Producers / XL5, Twyford Parish Hall

Paul Dominy got me drunk and I couldn’t remember if I’d locked up the hall. Had to go back in the middle of the night to check.


11. January: The Producers, The Brook, Southampton

More of the same.

21. January: Super Furry Animals, Kenickie, Astoria, London

This was an NME Brat show. Kenickie were just beginning to attract attention.

2. February: Screeper, North Pole, Winchester

Their manager, Tony Rollinson, wrote a book about music in Portsmouth, not by any means as short a volume as you might think.

5. February: Candyskins, Joiners Arms, Southampton

Oxford band on the way down.

6. February: John Parish and PJ Harvey, Queen Elizabeth Hall, London

Sumptuous surroundings for the Louse Point dance show.

12. February: Silver Sun, Joiners Arms, Southampton

Spunky harmony pop.

26. February: Gene, Guildhall, Southampton

The Supernaturals supported and were better than Gene.

28. February: The Agency, The Producers, Winter Gardens, Bournemouth

A fund-raiser for Bournemouth Football club!

6. March: Rosa Mota, Joiners Arms, Southampton

Certainly the loudest band ever to play the Joiners.

12. March: Pavement, Pyramids, Portsmouth

My favourite US band at the time. Check out the mad drummer.

20. March: Symposium, Joiners Arms, Southampton

Spoilt brats.

25. March: Gorkys Zygotic Mynci, The Brook, Southampton

Gorkys on top form before record company tomfoolery.

28. March: T-Rextasy, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

Ugh! A tribute band. Paul made me go.

3. April: K-Passa, The Brook, Southampton

Mass pogoing.

15. April: Goldblade, Joiners Arms, Southampton

My pet goths Gretschen Hofner supported and were more interesting than the self-aggrandising Gold Blade.

20. April: Billy Bragg, Salisbury Arts Centre

Very special Bragg show: It was two nights before the General Election!

21. April: Gorkys Zygotic Mynci, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

An upward trajectory.

23. April: Catatonia, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

And another.

25. April: La Cucina, Twyford Parish Hall

The conga went right the way round the hall. One of those bands where it’s impossible to believe that such thrilling music can’t make a living for itself.

1. May: Mansun, Pyramids, Portsmouth

The perfect rock & roll attitude.

13. May: Ian Hunter, The Brook, Southampton

Not nearly as good as his past had led one to believe.

14. May: Feil Garvie, Joiners Arms, Southampton

Adam Green’s latest effort. Even less likely to succeed than the previous ones.

17. May: Jackie Leven, Tower Arts Centre, Winchester

I really wanted to be positive about Jackie. He was good but still a sour-faced old git.

20. May: Kenickie, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

At their best. It wouldn’t last long.

21. June: Pete Harris Blues Band, Twyford Parish Hall

This was Birgit’s 40th birthday party. Support was the first (and sadly not the last) performance by Revilo and Ricardo. I demonstrated my love by forcing myself to go on stage and sing “Stay”, “The One I Love” and “Don’t Ask Me”. We got an encore.

23. June: Ash, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

Glastonbury warmup bedlam.

24. June: Primal Scream, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

Every Sister is a Star. What a brilliant, brilliant band.

27-29 June: Glastonbury Festival with Sting, Radiohead, The Prodigy, Primal Scream

I fail to see the charm of Radiohead. It seems I am not in the majority.

4. July: World Party, Guildhall, Portsmouth

Hello Jumbo.

10. July: Vex, North Pole, Winchester

They got “Indie Album Of The Month” in MOJO.

12. July: La Cucina, The Brook, Southampton

All their families were there.

19. July: The Agency, Twyford Parish Hall

They brought the hall down as usual.

26 – 27 July: Womad Festival, Reading

We had a go at a drum workshop.

6. September: Paul Jones and Dave Kelly, The Pit, Farnham

My birthday present again. The food was awful.

13. September: The Cage, Tower Arts Centre, Winchester

The grand debut of Richard’s band. I was in a furious mood because of having been refused admission to see Eric Bibb the previous night on account of arriving five minutes late. My ceaseless unremunerated plugging of the Tower had never been acknowledged and that was the last straw.

24. September: Tanya Donnelly, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

Considerably less confrontational music than last time round.

2. October: Stereolab, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

I love a band that sets up its own gear.

8. October: Spiritualized, Pyramids, Portsmouth

I hated it. Dunno why. Within a couple of months I’d decided they were brilliant.

9. October: Strangelove, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

Fantastic. Patrick Duff was a complete natural. Fail to understand why he’s so unpopular with the press. Maybe because he’s got a brain?

28. October: Seventeen Reasons Why, Hotel Utah, San Francisco

A visit to the home of American Music Club. We ate salsa and corn chips.

13. November: Flaming Stars, Joiners Arms, Southampton

The natural successors to Gallon Drunk. Nice seedy skinny blokes in dark baggy Oxfam suits.

14. November: The Hoax, Salisbury Arts Centre

Birgit’s brother Harald flew in from Germany specially to see them. It was worth it.

2. December: Echobelly, Pyramids, Portsmouth

They had really sweet twinkly lights on their backdrop but all their albums sounded the same.

3. December: Robyn Hitchcock, Joiners Arms, Southampton

Our feet nearly froze to the floor.

13. December: The Producers, Twyford Parish Hall

Xmas special.

18. December: Chris T-T: Railway Inn, Winchester

My brave ex-pupil, striking out on his own.

29. December: The Hoax, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

Videoed for posterity. I can see all my friends in it (well, not all of them).


17. January: The Agency, BIC, Bournemouth

Gulp! A Harley Davidson convention!

20. January: Spiritualized, Salisbury Arts Centre

So this is what it’s like to take drugs!

22. January: Richard Thompson, Salisbury City Hall

He didn’t bring a band, only his son Teddy.

29. January: Catatonia, Wedgwood Rooms, Portsmouth

You could hardly get in there.

5. February: User / Screeper, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

“Showcase” recording for a TV show called SFX.

18. February: Colin John, The Cavity, Bridport

I met a couple I’d last seen on the Rochdale canal. We unforgivably chatted in loud voices all the way through the performance.

23. February: Sleeper / Rialto, Pyramids, Portsmouth

“But she can’t sing!”

21. March: The Hollies, Mayflower, Southampton

Please don’t tell me I look as old as this audience.

27. March: Asian Dub Foundation, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

What sprung dance floors were invented for.

28. March: La Cucina, Twyford Parish Hall

They broke up soon afterwards. No connection.

30. March: Bobby Mack and Night Train, The Brook, Southampton

He said the competition in Austin, Texas is so fierce that he can’t get a gig there. We gotta go to Austin!

31. March: Drugstore, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

They have an album out and even the prospect of a hit single with Thom Yorke. Success for Drugstore? That would ruin everything.

18. April: Preacher Boy, The Brook, Southampton

From Tenderloin, San Francisco.

25. April: Catatonia, Southampton University

We took Annabel. She was amazed by the crowd surfers. This band was about to go ballistic.

28. April: Jesus and Mary Chain, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

They seemed a bit bad tempered.

2. May: Creamfields Festival, Winchester with Beth Orton, Finley Quaye, Primal Scream

Surrounded by wild-eyed maniacs shouting “Ello Mr Gray! What’re you on then?”

6. May: Heather Nova, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

She was marvellous and had a really good band as well.

31. May: Kenickie, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

They were terrible and obviously about to break up.

2. June: Embrace, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

I wouldn’t want to cuddle them.

5. June: Billy Bragg, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

The crowd was unconvinced by the Woody Guthrie stuff. Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it eventually.

14. June: Eric Bibb, The Brook, Southampton

Got to see him at last but he was a bit too Mr Perfect for me.

16. June: The Cage, Tower Arts Centre, Winchester

The plan was to sell lots of CDs. The plan failed.

26 – 28. June: Glastonbury Festival with Blur, Catatonia, Pulp, Robbie Williams

Independent on Sunday! Fame at long, long last!

1. July: Spleen. The Thekla, Bristol

A fantastic noise from Rob Ellis and co. On a ship, as well.

4. July: Preacher Boy, Red Eye Club, London

I don’t recommend wandering round Kings Cross late at night, unless you’re getting paid for it.

5. July: Party In The Park, Hyde Park, London, with Tom Jones, All Saints, Boyzone

I got to stand in a queue with Sir David Frost. Lucy got David Duchovny’s autograph and then spoke to Prince Charles. The music was shite.

11. July: The Hoax, Twyford Parish Hall

The summit of my village promoting career. People said they were too loud and I just didn’t care.

18. July: Noel Redding Band, Tower Arts Centre, Winchester

Probably the most depressing gig of my life. How could a rock legend demean himself so?

25 – 26 July: Womad Festival, Reading

I remember dancing to “White Lines” at 2 am.

3. August: PJ Harvey, Bridport Arts Centre

An intimate warm-up for the “Is This Desire?” tour. Great support band too: White Hotel.

10. August: Ian Dury, Dingwalls, London

On great form despite ill health.

11. August: Lodger, Dingwalls, London

Island records showcase for a new signing. Just for once, I looked around at all the journalists and thought, “I’m one of you!”

15. August: The Producers, The Brook, Southampton

You’d think one would get bored. One wouldn’t.

5. September: Thieves Like Us, The Agency, Trip, The Cage,, Twyford Parish Hall

Or maybe this was the best day of my life. My 50th birthday party.

19. September: Bop Brothers, Ashcroft Arts Centre, Fareham

Checking out a Brit Blues outfit for a possible booking. The venue was a school hall. Shudder!

27. September: Jackie Leven, The Brook, Southampton

He told a lot of rude stories.

28. September: Daheebiejeebies, Lucy’s Retired Surfer’s, Austin, Texas, USA

Jet lagged and in heaven.

29. September: Maceo Parker, Antone’s, Austin, Texas

Funk Overload! The Real Thing! And we met someone who had been at Glastonbury.

30. September: Monte Montgomery, Saxon Bar, Austin, Texas

Tequila overdose! The next day, I bought his album.

3. October: R.L. Burnside, House of Blues, New Orleans

Genuine toothless blues.

4. October: John Carey, Tipicino’s, New Orleans

Kill that digital sound system.

8. October: Hurricane No. 1, Joiners Arms, Southampton

One of these ended up in Oasis.

12. October: Rialto / Lodger, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

Overblown and over-hyped.

14. October: Ash, Guildhall, Portsmouth

Ash have one of the wildest audiences ever, but the songs were great and Charlotte Hatherley had transformed the band.

19. October: Grandaddy, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

The lowest-fi imaginable. A quiet electric band – how refreshing.

20. October: Mansun, Guildhall, Southampton

Annabel fell asleep.

26. October: Bob Mould / Mercury Rev, Reading University

Just a minute, who’s that support band? The candelabra gave them away. I made the fatal mistake of going to the front during Bob Mould’s set and couldn’t hear for a week.

27. October: Silver Sun, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

Well, I like harmony vocals.

11. November: Morcheeba, Pyramids, Portsmouth

Quite pleasant to listen to but not much of a live spectacle.

16. November: Roddy Frame, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

Quite a revelation. Just as lively and inspired as in Aztec Camera days.

26. November: Edward II, The Brook, Southampton

Could we afford to book them? No.

28. November: John Cooper-Clarke, Tower Arts Centre, Winchester

Bernard Manning lives.

2. December: Drugstore, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

Yes, well, by now it had all gone horribly wrong, of course.

11. December: PJ Harvey, Colston Hall, Bristol

We all went down in a gang. We walked out of the car park and someone threw a bottle at us. Thanks a bunch.

12. December: The Producers, Twyford Parish Hall

They stayed over and played a lunchtime gig at the Bugle the next day, despite having consumed the best part of a bottle of whisky before going to bed. Hard livin’ bluesmen.

18. December: PJ Harvey, Olympia, Dublin, Ireland

I stayed in Swords, where Boyzone come from. Howe Gelb still doesn’t like me.


8. January: Orko, Railway Inn, Winchester

Briefly managed by Mint. Probably a mistake.

9. January: Reconsider, Talking Heads, Southampton

A young blues band. So bad that I decided not to review it for fear of being too offensive. Getting old at last.

19. January: Mercury Rev, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

Putting in a bid to be my favourite band of all time.

25. January: John Parish, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

A live version of his “Rosie” film sountrack. It really worked.

8. February: Heather Nova, Salisbury Arts Centre

Twyford village outing. Heather is a suitable role model for any teenage girl.

13. February: Miller Anderson, Vintage Inn, Shedfield

And this was the man who wrote all the Keef Harley albums.

20. February: Colosseum,The Brook, Southampton

Oh God! Dave Clempson was half bald and wore glasses. They hadn’t progressed at all in 25 years. No need to insult the audience like this.

24. February: Los Pacaminos, The Brook, Southampton

Paul Young’s hobby Tex-Mex band.

26. February: The Creatures, Salisbury Arts Centre

The audience seemed to have taken a wrong turning from the Rocky Horror Show.

5. March: Wilco Johnson, Tower Arts Centre, Winchester

He wasn’t getting any better either.

9. March: Rumdum, Joiners Arms, Southampton

The grand re-opening of the Joiners after re-furbishment. They put the stage against the only wall which hadn’t been tried before.

16. March: Glenn Tilbrook, The Brook, Southampton

You can’t half singalong to those old Squeeze songs.

20. March: Bop Brothers, Twyford Parish Hall

Undemanding blues evening.

1. April: PJ Harvey and John Parish, Improv. Theatre, London

They were sensational. It was supposed to be John Peel’s birthday party but turned out to be the first of many. Echo and the Bunnymen were so bad that Birgit was yelling “Boo, get off” like the guys in the Muppet Show.

9. April: K-Passa, Talking Heads, Southampton

Should I book them?

12. April: Rosita, Joiners Arms, Southampton

Kenickie spin-off, hardly worth the bother.

13. April: Bobby Mack and Night Train, The Brook, Southampton

Southampton, Texas, what’s the difference?

16. April: The Hoax, The Brook, Southampton

Recording their farewell live album.

19. April: Ultrasound, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

Fat people being not very good. My unerring antennae for a band about to break up proved reliable again.

27. April: Howe Gelb, The Cumberland, Bristol

He STILL doesn’t like me.

9. May: Handsome Family, Tower Arts Centre, Winchester

Murder in the woods. Sylvia Sims is a big fan (You’ll have to read the book).

10. May: John Cale, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

The fact that it was billed as a “Spoken Word” event didn’t put people off calling out for Velvet Underground songs.

12. May: dEUS, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

Belgium’s finest. They’d gone a bit “alt-country” but none the worse for that.

15. May: Colin Blunstone, The Brook, Southampton

The Zombies’ “Odessy and Oracle” is one of my favourite albums. Colin was encouragingly elegant and unravaged.

29. May: Homelands Festival, Winchester, with Dot Allison, Asian Dub Foundation, Black Star Liner

More pop-eyed maniacs.

30 – 31 May: Bishopstock Festival, Exeter, with Taj Mahal, Buddy Guy, Magic Slim

It rained and there was hardly anyone there, but it didn’t matter because this weird event was bankrolled by rich people for their own entertainment. There are certainly worse things to spend your money on.

3. June: The Producers, Tower Arts Centre

They’d just been voted British Blues Band of the Year.

6. June: A, Joiners Arms, Southampton

It was very rumbustuous but not much else.

17. June: Scott 4, Joiners Arms, Southampton

An unsuccessful attempt to appear cool in stetsons.

20. June: Tom Robinson, Tower Arts Centre, Winchester

He downloaded some of his own lyrics on the internet in the interval.

22. June: Wilco, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

Jeff Tweedy wins my vote for seediest rocker of the century. He also hurled himself backwards through the drumkit during the enncore.

25 -27. June: Glastonbury Festival with Hole, Blondie, REM, Manic Street Preachers

But more importantly, Marianne Faithfull.

10. July: The Agency, Twyford Parish Hall

Probably their best ever performance. They wanted to make up for being pissed on my birthday.

23 – 25 July: WOMAD Festival

We handed out 2000 Robyn Hitchcock flyers.

14. August: Chris T-T, Railway Inn, Winchester

Still brave. If I didn’t know better, I’d have offered to manage him.

26. August: Ten Benson, Joiners Arms, Southampton

Loony local support, Rumdum, were better.

27. August: Robbie McIntosh, The Brook Southampton

Desperately disappointing solo effort from Macca’s sideman.

1. September: Death In Vegas, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

One of those wild nights, full of excitement. Spiritualized revisited.

4. September: Willard Grant Conspiracy, Melkweg, Amsterdam

Robert Fisher assured me: “When we come to England, we’ll be visiting some small towns like Manchester, Birmingham and Winchester.” They did.

5. September: Luscious Jackson, Melkweg, Amsterdam

Luscious indeed.

6. September: Sparklehorse, The Garage, London

John Parish wangled me in. People annoyingly talked in the quiet bits.

9. September: Edward II, The Brook, Southampton

We definitely couldn’t afford to book them. And then they split up.

10. September: Llama Farmers, Joiners Arms, Southampton

Trevor’s “stag night”! Forever to be known as a Llama Night.

11. September: Trevor’s wedding, Oxford

A live performance by me of a re-written version of “Clever Trevor”. All because I was too scared to make a speech.

13. September: Arab Strap, Wedgewood Roms, Portsmouth

I didn’t care at all about that ugly Scottish bloke’s troubled love life.

18. September: The Hoax, South Parade Pier, Portsmouth

Nearly the end.

24. September: Robyn Hitchcock, Tower Arts Centre, Winchester

All the elements were there: Guest appearance by Kimberley Rew, nearly a fight in the audience and Robyn Hitchcock still didn’t recognise me.

30. September: Chris T-T, Railway Inn, Winchester

No, no, I won’t be tempted.

6. October: Campag Velocet, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

Objectively, not a promising format. Subjectively, hugely enjoyable because the attitude was so good.

13. October: The Hoax, Astoria, London

The absolute end. The autograph session continued afterwards in Tottenham Court Road.

16. October: Sonny Black and the Dukes, Tower Arts Centre, Winchester

Anaemic Brit blues in a cabaret style.

18. October: Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham, Tower Arts Centre, Winchester

Quelle scoop! The old boys and their Do Right Women done good.

3. November: Reg Presley, Tower Arts Centre, Winchester

He said he knew where to mine for gold. But since “Four Weddings and a Funeral”, he doesn’t need to bother.

8. November: David Gray, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

Good name, good bloke.

12. November: Eugene Hideaway Bridges, Tower Arts Centre, Winchester

Hideaway? Good idea.

16. November: The Flaming Lips, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

Brilliant performance art. In my Top Three ever.

25. November: Paddy Casey, Joiners Arms, Southampton

A bit like Marc Bolan. Are we coming full circle?

11. December: John Otway / K-Passa, Twyford Parish Hall

See introduction.

26. December: The Agency, Liquids, Bournemouth

Finishing the Millennium in traditional style.


23. January: Bellatrix, Joiners Arms, Southampton

Good point: what happened to Bellatrix?

26. January: Blue Aeroplanes, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

They were even better than ever, if that’s possible. But their following had dwindled.

28. January: Rachel Stamp, Joiners Arms, Southampton

Good point: what happened to Rachel Stamp?

30. January: Freedy Johnson, Tower Arts Centre, Winchester

I have fond memories of our cat, Freedy, who was run over by a lorry. Butof Freedy Johnson I have no memory at all.

31. January: Elastica, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

This was the period when they were all allegedly on drugs and the press thought they were crap. I though they were fantastic. That Justine was still a bit of all right.

7. February: Savoy Brown, Bottom Line, New York.

How embarrassing. Arriving at what, to a UK punter, would have seemed a reasonable time, I found I had missed not only the support act but all but the last ten minutes of the headliners as well. The doorman took pity on me and let me stay for the second house. Kim Simmonds was still impeccably smoothed but poor old Dave Peverett had died.

26. February: Peter Bruntnell, Tower Arts Centre, Winchester

Early exposure to a musician destined to become one of my favourites.

5. March: Day One, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

Good point: whatever happened … (Oh, shut up!)

10 March: Eels, The Pyramids, Portsmouth

The funniest gig of all time. The magnificent Mr E insisted that we should all sit down in silence for the duration of the show. Scuffles broke out in the audience when some people refused to comply.

15. March: The Wannadies, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

Not bad for Scandinavians.

18. March: The Producers, Twyford Parish Hall

They played a blinder. Voted UK blues band of the year three years running.

20. March: Cay / Crashland, Joiners Arms, Southampton

Cay were kinda krusty.

2. April: Terris / Coldplay, Joiners Arms, Southampton

Aha! It was obvious to all the thirty or so people present that Coldplay were going to be gigantic.

4. April: The The, The Pyramids, Portsmouth

Matt Johnson had gone grunge and it was neither a pretty sight nor sound.

11. April: Hefner, Joiners Arms, Southampton

Sorry, I thought they were twee and over self-conscious. The singer was unbearable.

23. April: The Dandy Warhols, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

Nice to see them in the charts about 18 months later.

4. May: Cousteau / Chris TT, Tower Arts Centre, Winchester

The first time you see Cousteau they really impress you with their suaveness. Unfortunately, they never seem to learn any new songs.

5. May: Chicken Shack, Tower Arts Centre, Winchester

I shook Stan’s had and it was all limp. You wouldn’t think that of a gnarledbluesman, would you?

12. May: The Flaming Lips / Built To Spill / Wheat, Royal Festival Hall, London

The RFH is an absolutely terrible place to see a band. That’s all I’m prepared to say.

20. May: Neal Casal / Peter Bruntnell, Tower Arts Centre, Winchester

Guess who blew whom offstage?

27. May: Bishopstock Festival, Exeter

It clashed with Homelands, it pissed with rain and the signs were there that all was not well in the state of Bishopstock. But Steve Earle was a revelation.

3. June: The Agency, Holdenhurst Village Hall

Tim Holt’s birthday. Here I met Tom Oldham, who reviewed the first edition of this book and started a bit of a roll for it. Respect!

8. June: Chris Hillman, The Brook, Southampton

Disappointingly wholesome. In the audience was Sid Griffin from the Long Ryders, who was drunk.

22 – 25 June: Glastonbury Festival

There was a problem with overcrowding and I was caught up in it. Having just seen the Flaming Lips on the “New Band” (!!) stage, my only thought was, at least I’ll die happy.

8. July: John Otway / The Nightporters, Twyford Parish Hall

Oh heck, another of those. Not even the brilliantly entertaining Nightporters could follow Otway.

13. July: Pat McDonald, Abaixadors Deu, Barcelona

Talk about mañana. John Parish was here, producing Sparklehorse, and did this show with Pat McDonald which didn’t get started until so late at night that I only heard half the first song before having to leave to catch a train.

16. July: Eels, Southampton Guildhall

Thankfully a less rowdy audience. Here, we learnt that you must never leave an Eels show until you are absolutely sure it’s over. And I got a crush on Lisa Germano.

17. August: Mansun, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

Check out a silver-haired Tommy Winstone doing the tour managing. But Mansun seemed to have come to a bit of a full stop.

24. August: Asian Dub Foundation, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

My idea of a truly great band.

25. August: Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings, Gosport Festival.

They don’t come any more dismal than this. Mind you, I got hate mail for saying so.

29. August: Omar and The Howlers, The Brook, Southampton

We missed them in Austin so they came to us.

2. September: The Agency, Ferndown Community Centre

Launching their new album which I daringly helped to finance. It sold so fast that I got the money back in about a week.

7. September: Drugstore, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

Who on earth finances them?

17. September: PJ Harvey, The Hope and Anchor, Bridport

This crazy lunchtime gig was the world début of the “Stories From The City …” songs. Too weird to describe, really, but it got me back in the Independent on Sunday. The Hope should be an English Heritage site.

18. September: PJ Harvey, Bridport Arts Centre

The official début, featuring the psychedelic mini-skirt which turned out to be about the most restrained garment Polly wore all year.

28. September: Alan Clayson, Tower Arts Centre, Winchester

It was a lecture about the Beatles. Does this count as a gig?

30. September: Naughty Rhythms Tour, Perins School, Alresford / The Gliders, Tower Arts Centre, WInchester

We checked out Otway and co in a school hall before catching half the Gliders show. Sean Lyons, ex-Soft Boy, was in this very good band.

5. October: Elliot Smith, The Forum, London

I was on a total high, having just been on the Johnny Walker Show on Radio Two. I danced round Portland Place, which wasn’tvery dignified.

12. October: The Delgados, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

They had the seediest chain-smoking string section imaginable.

19. October: Wishbone Ash, The Brook, Southampton

Paul made me go. (A different Paul, this time).

21. October: Vigilantes of Love, Joiners Arms, Southampton

A pretty good cult band from the States but there were only twelve people there.

9. November: Chris TT, Joiners Arms, Southampton

Chris was getting better and better. His second album contained a great song called “Dreaming Of Injured Popstars”.

25. November: Black Blue Fish … Very Beautiful, Railway Inn, Winchester

The return of Rumdum. Possibly the weirdest band I’ve ever seen, and charming because they aren’t all clever-clever, just mad.

27. November: Grand Drive, The Borderline, London.

My first exposure to the godlike Hawksley Workman. And Grand Drive were wonderful too.

29. November: Willard Grant Conspiracy, Joiners Arms, Southampton

That Robert Fisher is a bit of a character, but you wouldn’t want to spend too much time with him on a tourbus.

3. December: Hardin and York, Café Hahn, Koblenz

The ultimate nostalgia trip. The whole family flew there just for the gig and yes, it was worth it.

9. December: The Agency, Twyford Parish Hall

It wouldn’t be Christmas without them, would it?

10. December: Nine Below Zero / Amor, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

The new band of Jon Amor from the Hoax. We arrived just as he was saying “Thank you, goodnight”, stayed for two songs from the headliners (interestingly featuring the ex-Rory Gallagher rhythm section) , then went home again.

13. December: Vacant / Inner Sense, Railway Inn, Winchester

Vacant were a college indie band who backed Annabel, Hannah and Sara. Yes, my daughter is in a band. Whoopee! The two styles didn’t exactly gel, but the audience didn’t seem to notice.


13. January: Kent Duchaine, Tower Arts Centre, Winchester.

A bit too slick.

31. January: And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead / The Strokes, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

I’m proud to have been at this one, because it was almost the Strokes’ first UK show. The audience was flattened by their refreshingly casual brilliance. The much-vaunted headliners turned out to be a bunch of pussycats.

3. February: Grandaddy / Lowgold, Southampton University

Such tunes, such beards, such surreal back-projections.

9. February: Amor, Mr Smiths, Bournemouth

Still not the right place to see Jon. The sound was awful and his mike stand kept falling over.

10. February: Thirst / Cooper Temple Clause, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

Cooper Temple Clause turned up in a gigantic tourbus, to support a local band. Lots of money going into the CTC and I fervently hoped it would all be wasted.

11. February: PJ Harvey, Shepherds Bush Empire

Richard and Sharon, whose views I hold in great respect, walked out and went to the pub. The reason? Those two irritating grunge guitaristsruining the band. It started on a tremendous high with a solo Polly and then went downhill.

12. February: John Elliott, Royal Seven Stars, Totnes

Yes, John Elliott from the Lesser Known Tunisians. He hadn’t changed, I’m pleased to say.

16. February: Inner Sense, Railway Inn, WInchester

Another blinder.

17. February: Joe Jackson, Royal Festival Hall

Before the show, he was interviewed by Barbara Ellen. I was pissed off because I didn’t see why we should pay to experience this, but the actual show was so fantastic that I forgave him completely. What a sublime musician.

1. March: Inner Sense, The White Swan, WInchester

We just about made it out of there alive.

6. March: Drugstore, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

I only attend Drugstore gigs to demonstrate solidarity with their plight.

8. March: Ray Davies, The Anvil, Basingstoke

I’d seen him die a death doing this show at Glastonbury, but it went down much better here.

13. March: Terris, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

Poor old Terris. Coldplay had gone ballistic and they hadn’t.

29. March: Sixteen Horsepower / John Parish, Dingwalls, London

A spooky band. Apparently they’re religious, but I found them frightening. JP’s huge new guitar band (thirteen members, I think) supported and Hugh Coltman from the Hoax had travelled from Paris specially to see 16 Horsepower.

30. March: Paul Lamb and the King Snakes, The Brook, Southampton

Their reputation was good but they were absolutely terrible.

2. April: Mo Solid Gold, Joiners Arms, Southampton

These Animal Men, to be exact. One album and goodbye, as usual.

11. April: Spencer Davis Group, Ronnie Scotts, Birmingham

Roy Wood was in the audience. Roy Wood!

12. April: Inner Sense, The White Swan, WInchester

There was a dispute about payment.

14. April: Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent, The Brook, Southampton

There was an unnecessary lead guitarist who spurted all over every song, including, heaven help us, ”She’s Not There”. Poor Colin had to bellow (which of course he can’t do) and Rod Argent insisted on making smug speeches.

16. April: Tom Ovans / The Good Sons, Joiners Arms, Southampton

The smallest audience the Joiners has ever seen. Four people, of whom only one paid.

18. April: Cosmic Rough Riders, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

Tuneful but boring. I always thought Alan McGee was a loser, and this proved it.

20. April: Tony Benn, Winchester Guildhall

I do realise that this is cheating and could render the entire gig list invalid, but it was as big a thrill as any rock show. Even the Tories present treated him as a hero.

25. April: Ash, The Pyramids, Portsmouth

Heavymetal for people who don’t like heavy metal. I’d vote for Charlotte Hatherley over Courtney Love as feistiest woman in rock.

29. April: The Soft Boys, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

Pretty surreal, huh? But despite the greyness of their locks, they were better than ever and even had some new songs.

4. May: Errol Linton’s Blues Vibe, Tower Arts Centre, Winchester

Only once have I seen a band more stoned than this. It was on December 7th 2001.

17. May: The Handsome Family, The Brook, Southampton

Who’s that support act? Why, it’s the godlike Hawksley Workman again.

26. May: BVI Music Festival with Maxi Priest, Cane Carden Bay, Tortola, British Virgin Islands

The fact that it looks so impressive doesn’t make it any less true.

3. June: Regular Fries, The Brook, Southampton

Whoops! I told a lie on 4. May.

7. June: J. Mascis and the Fog, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

Hector was in paradise, but I had to drive. We had a burger on Portsdown Hill.

11. June: Proud Mary, Joiners Arms, Southampton

They were as dire as any review you may have read. And the rest.

22. June: John Otway, Twyford Parish Hall

Someone else was promoting the show, which made a change. Otway did his “birthday set”.

4. July: Inner Sense, Railway Inn, Winchester

I could have been the audience’s great grandfather.

5. July: Larmer Tree Festival with Van Morrison and The Agency

And guess who blew whom offstage?

7. July: Radiohead / Supergrass, South Park, Oxford

It was chucking it down when they finished but Lucy wanted to stay for the encore in case they played “Creep”. I assured her there was no waythey would play that particular song and got into awful trouble when we heard its strains wafting over the fence five minutes later.

11. July: Thirst, Railway Inn , Winchester

I want to like them a lot but an indefinable something holds me back.

14. July: Ed Harcourt, Joiners Arms, Southampton

Sorry, but this smelt of hype.

16. July: Haven, Joiners Arms, Southampton

Managed by the Smiths’ manager, apparently. I quite liked them but the music press was doubtful.

19. July: The Blockheads, Bullington Arms, Oxford

An eventful evening. Phill Jupitus took Ian Dury’s place brilliantly. Then (Clever) Trevor got so drunk I had to carry him home. A passing cyclist called out “Fucking faggots!”

24. August: Reading Festival 2001 with PJ Harvey, Eels, The Strokes and others.

We were there to see PJ Harvey and Eels. It felt really strange, because I wasn’t reviewing it … but then, all of a sudden, I was, because of unexpectedly linking up with a super American music magazine called Amplifier.

28. August: Eels, The Forum, London

I’m afraid that E is a genius.

29. August: Heather Nova / Cousteau, Shepherds Bush Empire

This was a bit silly (see 21. October). What’s more, Cousteau still hadn’t learnt any new songs.

7. September: Ben Waters / Rock Bottom, The Pit, Farnham

Annual birthday outing. Something awful happened a week later: Rock Bottom dropped down dead.

9. September: Harry Skinner and Dave Saunders, our garden

Inner Sense supported. It was bloody cold, but it worked.

21. September: Amor, The Brook, Southampton

Finally got to experience a full set and booked him for December 15th.

23. September: Elliott Murphy / Iain Matthews, The Botanique, Brussels

I genuinely thought I was booking to see Elliott Smith! But actually, these two old stagers were good, if not exactly new millenium cutting edge. I would have reflected on seeing Iain Matthews back in 1968, but unfortunately the Belgian beer had already taken its toll.

27. September: Trip, Railway Inn , Winchester

A Trip reunion after all this time. They only played three songs, but the old fire blazed.

30. September: The Music, Joiners Arms, Southampton

Stupid hype.

7. October: Spiritualized, The Pyramids, Portsmouth

I’d gone off them again.

10. October: Inner Sense, Railway Inn, Winchester

Magic but unmanageable.

21. October: Heather Nova, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

I had been to see Heather and her band in London, not knowing that they’d be touring. The London show was okay (with special mention for the grungy female German guitarist) but this stripped-down acoustic version was sensational.

25. October: Eels, Brixton Academy

I finally got to meet Butch and Mr E. Do you know he recorded the definitive version of the Hollies’ “Jennifer Eccles”?

28. October: Thea Gilmore, The Brook, Southampton

She was unmemorable and then there was a fight.

31. October: Mercury Rev, Anson Rooms, Bristol

If they didn’t come to me, I’d have to go to them. There has been no better band in history.

7. November: David Kitt, Joiners Arms, Southampton

See Ed Harcourt. Nick Drake’s already been done, David.

9. November: Handsome Family, Tower Arts Centre, WInchester

The joke was wearing a bit thin.

14. November: Inner Sense, Railway Inn , Winchester

They should be signed for a million quid. They won’t be.

20. November: Lift To Experience, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

A Texan cross between Mogwai and Pavement. The kind of band that Trail of Dead wish they were.

6. December: The Producers, The Brook, Southampton

Farewell, then, guys.

7. December: Peter Bruntnell, Railway Inn, Winchester

Stoned Love.

15. December: The Agency / Amor, Twyford Parish Hall

We had actually planned to stop doing these shows, but temptation is a difficult thing to resist.

17. December: Naughty Rhythms Tour, Winchester Guildhall

Canned Heat didn’t appear because Fito de la Parra had tennis elbow!


10. January: User, Hope and Anchor, Islington

Strange to be back here after so many years. It’s gone a bit up-market butI preferred it when the stage was made of beer crates.

17. January: Pete Yorn, The Water Rats, Kings Cross

Strange to be back here after … hang on, just said that. There was a long and complicated story to this gig, but the main question is: why do record companies put so much into music which, while enjoyable, is such old hat?

1. February: Bap Kennedy / Mark Nevin, Tower Arts Centre, Winchester

There was a funny atmosphere and the show didn’t take off.

5. February: Ee-blee / The Sense, Joiners Arms, Southampton

A slightly mismatched bill but a chance for the Gurlz (Complete with name change) to get their live set recorded at last.

15. February: Goldrush / Buffseeds, Joiners Arms, Southampton

More post-Radiohead bands. Thank goodness the Strokes and other Americans are riding to the rescue with some different music.

6. March: Electric Soft Parade, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

They have the same gimmick as … Trail of Dead, in that the drummer and guitarist swap instruments and lead vocals.

7. March: Spiritualized, Southampton Guildhall

Having hated them, loved them and hated them again, this time I found them sort of okay. Probably not a band you ought to see too often.

10. March: Spencer Davis Group, The Troggs, the Yardbirds, The Anvil, Basingstoke

By no means as dreadful as it sounds. All three bands had a couple of original members and were on good form. Afterwards, we hob-nobbed with them in the Basingstoke Hilton. Very Alan Partridge, I’m sure.

13. March: Billy Bragg, Salisbury City Hall

A sublime evening of real warmth and pleasure for all concerned. Watching and hearing Sir Ian McLagen in action was like a dream. If you’re lucky, you can sometimes catch him and Billy jamming in the Three Horseshoes, Burton Bradstock.

14. March: Bill Sheffield, The Brook, Southampton

First visit to these shores by Georgia bluesman, accompanied by ex-Producer Dave Saunders.

16. March: Amor / The Sense, Railway Inn, Winchester.

One of ours, and bloody gratifying. Amor simply ripped the place apart. This was definitely going to be their year.

29. March: Uninvited Guest, Fishbonz, Tulsa, Oklahoma

Definitively the worst band I’ve ever seen. I could describe it to you but it would make you ill.

30. March: Shaking Tree, Fishbones, Tulsa

I felt so sorry that the audience ignored them that I bought two of their CDs (but have never actually listened to them).

11. April: Dem Brooklyn Bums, Fibbers, York

NYC ska-punk. Don’t ask, but drunkenness and cigars were involved.

17. April: Ken Hensley and Free Spirit, The Brook, Southampton

Proud Words, but the shelf had got dustier.

22. April: Mercury Rev, The Event, Brighton

This was a garish disco but not even that could spoil the magic.

30. April: Durango 75, Railway, Winchester

I remember that Richard Williams got cuddled a lot.

1. May: Lambchop, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

A bit quiet for me. I got “sshed” at for creaking the door and allowing my mobile phone to go off.

7. May: Doves, Portsmouth Pyramids

I don’t care what anyone says, they DO sound like Camel.

7. June: The Manfreds, Portsmouth Guildhall

A sort of package show. Not much cop.

11. June: The Somatics, Railway, Winchester

Quite a retro band. I liked them but they don’t seem to have much of a future.

13. June: Stag / The Sense, Railway, Winchester

Supposed to be a showcase for some music industry people. Unfortunately, they turned up after The Sense had finished, much like Wilson Pickett did in the Commitments.

18. June: Black Blue Fish … Very Beautiful: Railway, Winchester

Endearingly bonkers as usual.

20. June: The Bees, Joiners Arms, Southampton

The first band to come out of the Isle of Wight since Level 42. Really, really enjoyable, too.

27 – 30 June: Glastonbury Festival with The White Stripes, The Vines, Faithless, etc., etc.

Oh, and Roger Waters. I got into trouble for being non-complimentary about him.

6. July: The Sense, The Broadway, Winchester

Open-air show. The pinnacle of their career (so far).

14. July: Little Dixie / Billy Bragg, Bridport Arts Centre

Amazingly, this was Mutter Slater (from Stackridge) and his blues band. They backed Billy on “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight”.

18. July: Larmer Tree Festival with Jools Holland and The Agency

Jools Holland’s orchestra were not on form, so guess who blew whom offstage?

20. August: The Sense, Railway, Winchester

The supported themselves, as it were.

30. August: Amor, Mr Smith’s Bournemouth

They’d unexpectedly turned into a 4-piece.

6. September: Goatboy, Railway, Winchester

They were barking mad but really exciting (and very different).

12. September: Goatboy / Black-Blue Fish, Joiners Arms, Southampton

A double helping of lunacy.

24. September: Joe Jackson Band, Wedgwood Rooms, Portsmouth

Quite a night. Astonishingly, they were even better than in their “heyday”.

25. September: Derrin Nauendorf, The Brook, Southampton

Shows how low expectations are in this area. He was flagged up as sensational but was anything but.

3. October: Amor, The Brook, Southampton

I can’t actually remember anything about this, so they can’t have been on top form.

10. October: The Jeevas, Joiners Arms, Southampton

I was never much of a Kula Shaker fan, but Crispian’s new band rocked like hell.

12. October: The Sense, Cherry Jam, Notting Hill

The night the girls were discovered by the manager of All Saints and the Sugababes. Unfortunately, he promptly forgot he’d discovered them.

16. October: The Soft Boys / Mark Andrews, Railway Inn, Winchester

One of ours and probably the most stressful night of my life, as Robyn Hitchcock (who didn’t recognise me) got himself lost in Winchester and nearly missed his own gig.

17. October: The Soft Boys, Mean Fiddler, London

I’d been in too much of a state to appreciate them the night before.

22. October: The Arlenes, Railway Inn, Winchester


23. October: Serpico, Railway Inn, Winchester

This was the other band of The Sense’s drummer Pete.

28. October: British Sea Power, Joiners Arms, Southampton

Probably among the worst five bands I’ve ever seen. Leave them trees alone!

30. October: Nizlopi, Railway Inn, Winchester

I think that’s how you spell them. They’d be famous a couple of years later.

14. November: John Parish, Columbiafritz, Berlin

A long way to travel, but worth it.

19. November: Bill Mallonee.


27. November: Amor, The Borderline, London

Their big album launch.

30. November: Peter Bruntnell, Railway Inn, Winchester

Plenty of new songs here. Will the public catch on to Peter?

1. December: The Sense, Rock Garden, London

Their finest gig to date.

14. December: Amor / Little Dixie: Twyford Parish Hall

Jon Amor climbed a step ladder and was consumed by vertigo.

21. December: Rufus Stone, Guildhall, Winchester

This was actually a friend’s wedding. Terrible to relate, the marriage lasted three months.


8. January: The Dawn Parade, Talking Heads, Southampton

Indescribably dismal.

18. January: The Sense, Cherry Jam, Notting Hill

A good one, but no moguls present.

21. January: Jesse Malin, The Borderline, London

Just fantastic and unforgettable.

27. January: The Soft Boys, Zodiac, Oxford

They broke up again shortly afterwards

1. February: Amor / Samo, Railway Inn, Winchester

We packed ‘em in until it was practically impossible to breathe.

5. February: Dave Sharp / Harvey Brothers, Railway Inn, Winchester

He used to be in the Alarm, you know. But the Harvey Brothers blew him away.

7. February: The Thrills / The Polyphonic Spree / Interpol / The Datsuns: Portsmouth Pyramids.

They were all crap apart from the Polys.

9. February: The Warlocks, Joiners Arms, Southampton

They were so pompous they needed a good slapping.

19. February: Echoboy, Joiners Arms, Southampton

All right but not going anywhere.

22. February: Tom McRae, QMU, Glasgow

Such a great atmosphere that I forgot to notice whether he was any good or not.

12. March: Maserati / Kinski / Jungle Brothers / And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, SXSW, Austin, Texas


13. March: Peter Bruntnell / Voyager 1 / The Features / Blur / Kathleen Edwards / Sonny Landreth, SXSW, Austin, Texas


14. March: Peter Bruntnell / Trachtenberg Family / Grandaddy / Grand Drive / Peter Bruntnell again / The Frames, SXSW, Austin, Texas


15. March: Joe Jackson Band / Polyphonic Spree / Pineforest Crunch / Rye Coalition / Camper van Beethoven: SXSW, Austin, Texas


16. March: Guy Forsyth, Antones, Austin,Texas

Got him at last!

17. March: Bob Schneider, Saxon Pub, Austin, Texas

A slacker but fun.

1. April: The Star Spangles, Joiners Arms, Southampton

Over-hyped Americans, an emerging pattern for 2003.

2. April: The 22-20s, Joiners Arms, Southampton

I got into a fury, because this absolutely shit band was being praised in the music press as the big new stars of the year. Is tenth rate pub-blues the Next Big Thing?

6. April: Billy Bragg / Amor, Bridport Arts Centre

What a nice day out. Billy and Jon encored with “I Fought The Law” but we missed it.

9. April: Burning Brides, Joiners Arms, Southampton

A nice exception in the form of a really hot new US band.

11. April: The Coral, Portsmouith Pyramids

Pretty good, but not as good as people say they are.

12. April: Amor, Joiners Arms, Southampton

Not the right venue for them.

14. April: The Bandits, Joiners Arms, Southampton

I stupidly chose this gig rather than the Rapture at the Wedgie. Can’t remember anything about the Bandits at all.

28. April: I Am Kloot, Joiners Arms, Southampton

Super little band from Manchester whom I would love to see succeed.

30. April: Soledad Brothers, Joiners Arms, Southampton

See April 1st.

1. May: Peter Bruntnell / Horse Stories, Railway Inn, Winchester

Richard and I put on this excellent Loose Records package, but we lost money on it.

7. May: Kathleen Edwards, Borderline, London

She’s good. Great night, because Peter Bruntnell, completely bladdered, blagged me and Birgit backstage.

10. May: The Sense, Cherry Jam, London

Another goodie.

11. May: The Raveonettes / Stellastarr*, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

Raveonettes: See April 1st. Stellastarr*: Magnificent.

19. May: The Sleepy Jackson, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

Barking but fun.

7. June: Amor, Archway Tavern, London

Only about five people there but I had a nice curry round the corner.

9. June: Mark Gardner and Goldrush: Joiners Arms, Southampton

Now balding ex-Ride person. Enjoyable but undemanding evening.

10. June: Peter Bruntnell / Vera Cruise, 100 Club, London

Loose Records birthday party which was marred by people largely ignoring the bands.

12. June: The Kills, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

Down with duos … er, but not this one. They show the Raveonettes what they are doing wrong (everything).

20. June: Spencer Davis Group, Kiel, Germany

Does this look mad? It was, but remind me to tell you about Miller Anderson’s Woodstock story some time.

24. June: Sarah Sharp / Rachael Dadd / Kate Stables / The Sense, Railway Inn, Winchester

Our most successful promotion so far. Sarah, whom I had met in Austin, was absolutely brilliant.

27-29. June: Glastonbury Festival with Radiohead, Moby, Manic Street Preachers …

None of whom I saw, but I DID see The Damned, Yes, Grandaddy, The Rapture and Richard Thompson, all of whom were wonderful in their different ways.

12. July: Sparklehorse / Beth Gibbons, Somerset House, London

Sparklehorse re-established themselves as one of my favourite bands, and the setting was incomparable.

19. July: The Holmes Brothers, Titchfield Abbey

These old-stagers could still cook.

20. July: The Barbs, Railway Inn, Winchester

A really enjoyable punky three-piece.

23. July: Steve Winwood, Shephards Bush Empire, London

This was quite a hot ticket and the Hammond man was back on top form with a brilliant band.

25. July: Gilbert French, Joiners Arms, Southampton

Lovely night with re-formed Winchester punks being melodic and good, complete with their extended families.

14. August: Pernice Brothers, The Borderline, London

Featuring James Walbourne from Peter Bruntnell’s band.

15. August: PJ Harvey / Elbow, Eden Project, Cornwall

The best gig of the year, in the best setting imaginable.

21. August: Stellastarr*, The Garage, London

I modestly guess I kinda discovered this band in the UK. Pity the Garage is such a shitty dump.

22. August: Amor, Joiners Arms

This went better but still not the sort of crowd they deserve.

12.September: Amor / The Semi-Automatics, Tower Arts Centre, Winchester

The Tower had upgraded all its gear, making it a much better gig experience.

13. September: Amor / The Sense / Trip /The Usual / The Social Club, Twyford Parish Hall

Was I crazy to book five bands for my birthday? Yes.

1. October: The Davey Brothers, The Brook, Southampton

Can’t say what I thought, in case they should happen to look at this list.

3. October: Six By Seven, Joiners Arms

I had to leave on account of not being able to cope with the strobes.

8. October: Lowgold, Wedgewood Rooms


9. October: Buddy Guy / Amor, Shephards Bush Empire

We handed out hundreds of Amor flyers.

11. October: Frank Black and the Catholics, Wedgewood Rooms

They rocked.

19. October: Jim Bob / Harvey Brothers, Railway Inn, Winchester

Some Railway nights really work, and this was one of them.

21. October: Damien Rice, Wedgewood Rooms

Very good, but far too much like David Gray for my liking.

24. October: Flaming Lips, BIC, Bournemouth

Being smashed in the face by giant rubber balls and showered with fake blood, fun? You bet!

26. October: The Sense, Rock Garden, London

Hmm … They were hung-over.

30. October: Clearlake, Wedgewood Rooms

They were supporting Electric Soft Parade, but I didn’t hang around for the headliners.

1. November: Nina Nastasia / Brothers and Sisters, The Venue, Edinburgh

Nina was depressing and the support band were fantastic, but I don’t think they liked me.

2. November: Chris TT, Railway Inn, Winchester

Andy Burrows’ Stag were supposed to support, but had split up.

7. October: Amor, Railway Inn, Winchester

Completely riotous evening.

15. October: The Blockheads, Zodiac, Oxford

Funky as hell, but we remained relatively sober.

20. October: Jay Farrar / Peter Bruntnell, Dingwalls, London

You know who upstaged whom.

23. October: Ben Weaver, Railway Inn, Winchester

From Minnesota. I think we gave him the best show of his tour, which he described as “shit”. Apparently, the highlight was having his sleeping bag pissed in by a sleepwalker in Manchester.

24. October: Bruce Katz, Black Boy, Winchester

A load ofblues musos cosying up to each other.

27. November: Ikara Colt, Railway Inn, Winchester

Big band in a little venue, few things are more fun.

2. December: Grandaddy / Electric Soft Parade, Ancienne Belgique, Brussels

Two fantastic bands, both on tip-top form.

13. December: John Otway / The Agency, Twyford Parish Hall

At last, a band that could follow Otway! A convivial, Pots Ale-sodden evening.


13. January: Fleeing New York, Joiners Arms, Southampton

An alleged “A & R feeding frenzy”. Yeah, well …

18. January: Black Keys, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

Brillliant start to the year with magnificently noisy blues duo.

21. January: Primal Scream, Southampton Guildhall

Mani: “Goodnight Portsmouth!” Cue mayhem.

4. February: Spiritualized, Southampton University

Not much of a crowd but they were better than ever.

6. February: NME tour with Franz Ferdinand, The Rapture, The Von Bondies and Funeral For A Friend, Portsmouth Pyramids

Brilliant night out with three of the four bands being outstandingly good. (Work out who wasn’t.)

7. February: The Hollies, Mayflower, Southampton

Nothing wrong with catholic tastes. Quite a lot wrong with Carl Wayne, but I got to meet Bobby Elliott after 39 years and he was a delight.

12. February: Amor, South Parade Pier, Southsea

I took a friend whose marriage was breaking up. He loved all their most miserable songs.

18. February: Battle of the Bands, Theatre Royal, Winchester

This was sweet, because we’d known most of them since they were in nappies.

28. February: The Sense, Neighbourhood, Notting Hill.

One of those endless daytime showcase events where the audience is the other bands.

29. February: The Usual / The Vaults, Railway, Winchester

The Usual is fronted by my GP’s son. Plenty of good reviews for them, then.

6. March: The Phil Beer Band, Arts Centre, Totnes

Against expectations, they were absolutely excellent and defied all my preconceptions.

7. March: Stellastarr*, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

Oooooh, I just love ‘em.

17 – 20. March: South By South West Festival, Austin, Texas, with a cast of thousands including Franz Ferdinand, Clearlake, The Sleepy Jackson, etc., etc.


23. March: Gene Parsons / Julian Dawson, South Parade Pier, Southsea

We had hoped to put Gene on at the Railway but it fell through. I went with Andy Burrows, soon to join Razorlight.

24. March: Jimmy Smith, Jazz Café, London

During the interval, Jimmy’s minder selected a girl from the audience to visit him backstage. The interval was quite long.

28. March: Billy Bragg, Southampton Guildhall

A thousand sitting ducks for Wreckless Eric flyers and I forgot to take them.

31. March: NME tour, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

The idea was to re-assess the 22-20s, but they were still crap.

6. April: The Rutles, The Brook, Southampton

Fun to see them at last, but they did seem to be doing it a bit half-heartedly.

8. April: The Creekdippers / Ben Weaver, The Borderline, London

Ben was great as usual but I could only stomach a couple of whingeing Creekdippers songs.

21. April: Wreckless Eric, The Railway, Winchster

Could I possibly be forgiven for going to a gig on the evening of my mother’s funeral? That’s just the way I am. And there was almost a fight.

30. April: Ian McLagen, The Brook, Southampton

Featuring the magnificent “Scrappy” Jud Newcombe. I regretted not being able to afford to book the Resentments for the Railway.

4. May: Franz Ferdinand / Fiery Furnaces / Sons and Daughters, Portsmouth Pyramids

Renewed acquaintanceship with Sons and Daughters but I think they see me as a farty old git (which I am). FF were brilliant and Birgit and Annabel thought so too.

10. May: Explosions In The Sky, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

Good but a bit too Mogwai.

12. May: Jesse Malin, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

Nice to see the good old boy again, and got a nice interview too.

13. May: Mungo Jerry, The Borderline, London

A long story to this, involving Frankfurt-Hahn airport and the closing of Helter Skelter in Denmark Street. And it was lunchtime!

14. May: Minuteman, Railway Inn, Winchester

One of those “four bands in two hours” gigs. They looked tremendously unhealthy.

18. May: Charlemagne / Chris TT / Kate Stables, Railway Inn, Winchester

One of our shows and a bit of a triumph for this charming Loose act from Wisconsin. “Gig Of The Week” in the Independent! Afterwards, eight people stayed at our house.

21. May: American Music Club, Concorde 2, Brighton

An awayday in the sun to give Richard Williams the biggest treat of his life, as AMC played their first UK show in nine years.

23. May: Jon Amor, Joiners Arms, Southampton

A new name for the band and a very lively crowd for a Sunday night.

26. May: PJ Harvey, Zodiac, Oxford

Another awayday for half the population of Winchester. The warm-up had to take place in Oxford because the good folk of Bridport had been complaining about the noise!

27. May: Peter Bruntnell and James Walbourne, Railway Inn, Winchester

A warm and wonderful sell-out, with Peter and James on tip-top form.

1. June: Jon Amor, Borderline, London

Oh God, they just ripped the place to pieces. You’ll never find a better band anwhere.

2. June: Spencer Davis Group, The Hexagon, Reading

Quite a dismal venue, but people seemed to like Eddie Hardin’s autobiography, which I co-wrote..

4. June: The Sense / The Bluetones, Royal Holloway College, London

The girls on a big stage at last. Another of the bands wasa Darkness tribute called The Dampness!

8. June: Razorlight, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

Great excitement here, because our dear and much-loved friend Andy Burrows had joined this fast-rising band on drums. Never was success more deserved by anybody.

13. June: Spencer Davis Group, The Anvil, Basingstoke

Well, had to flog some books somehow. This sedate event bizarrely ended in a post-football brawl which spilled in from the street outside!

17. June: Spencer Davis Group, The Pavilion, Bournemouth

I do like them though.

20. June: PJ Harvey, Stadio Olimpico de Tennis, Rome

A blast. This involved getting lost, getting drunk and getting lost again. But it proved that she’s found the perfect band at last.

26 – 26. June: Glastonbury Festival with Paul McCartney, Oasis and my favourites, My Morning Jacket

Very muddy.

26. June: The Sense, Spydafest, Portland, Dorset

Yes, two festivals in one day. Windswept but fun.

29. June: Stellastarr*, The Zodiac, Oxford

Had a nice chat with the charming Shaun Christensen in the Bullingdon afterwards.

3. July: Arthur Brown, Railway Inn, Winchester

Pleasingly un-ravaged.

7. July: Juliet Turner, Railway Inn, Winchester

Apparently she is a megastar in Ireland but here the audience numbered about ten.

July 25th: Truck Festival, Oxfordshire

This was a bit incoherent and also bloody cold.

July 28th: K Festival, Polzeath, Cornwall

This was amazing: The Fun Lovin’ Criminals playing in a big top in a field. And Huey got in a strop and the band stormed off. And it marked my debut as a live reviewer for Record Collector.

August 2nd: Bo Diddley, Jazz Café, London

I was completely star struck by bumping into Bobby Gillespie in the audience. Wreckless Eric was there too.

August 20th: Athlete, Shepherd’s Bush Empire

Little did I realise that this was a band at the height of its powers and heading for a steep decline.

August 26th: Mark Lanegan Band, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

The tattoos were better than the music.

September 4th: Jersey Live festival with The Thrills, Delays and Razorlight.

The best festival I have ever attended – really. We “hung” with Andy from Razorlight.

September 16th: Richmond Fontaine, Railway Inn, Winchester

Jon Amor supported and the place was rammed.

September 20th: Smog, The Komedia, Brighton

At the risk of being lynched, I found Bill Callahan a pretentious twat. But I had fun getting drunk with Chris TT and his manager.

September 21st: Laura Veirs, Railway Inn, Winchester

Charming people, great music.

October 8th: Goldblade, Railway Inn, Winchester

Wild and woolly.

October 10th: Wreckless Eric, Railway Inn , Winchester

He’s really good, why can’t he draw a crowd?

October 15th: American Music Club, Islington Academy, London

And of course we had an “all you can eat for £2.99” curry first.

October 20th: Richmond Fontaine, Neal Casal, Mean Fiddler, London

Part of the “Spirit of Austin” festival.

October 21st: Giant Sand / Scout Niblett / John Parish, Bush Hall, London

What a nice place to play!

October 23rd: Franz Ferdinand / The Kills: Portsmouth Guildhall

FF were great, but I almost enjoyed The Kills more

November 3rd: The Subways, Joiners Arms, Southampton

Elfin-like bassists a go-go

November 8th: Mercury Rev, Grand Drive, The Bierkeller, Bristol

Another saga. Suffice to say, I nearly got beaten to a pulp by a bouncer.

November 15th: dEUS, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

Hard to see quite why they did this little tour. The atmosphere was a bit odd.

December 11th: The Wildcards, Twyford Parish Hall

After a panic over the PA, this Xmas gig went with a swing.

December 19th: Scarlet Soho, Railway Inn, Winchester

Home town band who deserve success.

December 23rd: Jon Amor, South Parade Pier, Southsea

Tears flowed at this final gig for my favourite band of the past decade.


January 16th: Athlete, Portsmouth Pyramids

This band had turned froma quirky and intriguing outfit into a sub-Keane bore. I smell record company interference.

January 31st: The Dears, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

They’re a rum lot.

February 8th: The Bravery, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth


February 9th: K.T. Tunstall, Joiners Arms, Southampton


February 10th: Tom Vek, Railway Inn, Winchester

More hype.

February 17th: Mark Morriss, Railway Inn, Winchester

Bluetone on the solo circuit.

February 23rd: Willy Mason, Joiners Arms, Southampton

Aha – worth the hype!

February 24th: Deadstring Brothers / Thee Exciters, Railway Inn, Winchester

Teetering on the edge of a riot.

February 27th: Laura Veirs / Gina Villalobos, Railway Inn, Winchester

Opened by the god-like Karl Blau.

February 29th: Laura Veirs / Gina Villalobos, Purcell Room, London

Gina really needs to buy a new guitar.

March 8th: Bright Eyes / Rilo Kiley, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

Rilo Kiley are my type of pop group. They totally destroyed the whingeing, petulant Mr Oberst, anyway.

March 16th – 20th: South By Southwest, Austin, Texas, with Kaiser Chiefs, Ash, Embrace, Robert Plant, etc, etc.

Bands bands bands bands bands bands bands bands bands

March 23rd: Georgie Fame, Tower Arts Centre, Winchester

He played with his two sons and had some great stories.

Apil 14th: Kathleen Edwards, The Fleece, Bristol

An epic journey to see Peter Bruntnell, who supported, but Kathleen was brilliant too.

April 22nd: Chuck Prophet and the Mission Express / Mark Mallmann, Railway Inn, Winchester

Let’s just say it was intense, but it worked. I decided Mark Mallman was the future of rock and roll and set out on my traditional doomed attempt to convince the music industry of this fact.

April 26th: Ben Weaver Band, Railway Inn, Winchester

Poor turnout on account of it being a torrential Tuesday, but Ben and co were on fine form.

April 29th: Sarah Sharp, Railway Inn, Winchester

Whalebone Polly supported and The Sense re-formed.

May 4th: The Futureheads, Portsmouth Pyramids

I’m not as conviced of their brilliance as everyone else is.

May 5th: Peter Bruntnell, Railway Inn, Winchester

All together now, “We love Pete!”

May 15th: The Resentments, Railway Inn, Winchester

We turned the Railway into the Saxon Pub for this Austin supergroup. Magic!

May 19th: Chris TT, Railway Inn, Winchester

We came from seeing Sonny Black at the Rugby Club!

May 23rd: Eels, Royal Festival Hall, London

Cool, up on the train, a quick pizza, see the show, back on the train.

May 25th: South San Gabriel, Hanbury Ballroom, Brighton

Well, the mountain wouldn’t come to Mohammed.

May 27th: Loomer, Talking Heads, Southampton

As Loomer came on so late, I was able to double up with Babyshambles at the Joiners. At one stage, I was doing the door on my own!

May 30th: Joe Jackson / Todd Rundgren, Portsmouth Guildhall

Joe was great, Todd less so. What was shocking was the small size of the audience.

June 14th: The Cribs, Joiners Arms, Southampton

Support band the Chalets were better.

June 18th: Sons and Daughters, Joiners Arms, Southampton

They seemed to have “issues”, which upset the audience.

June 24 – 26th: Glastonbury Festival, with Coldplay, Keane and zzzzzzz

Mud! Thank God for Brian Wilson, and to set the record straight, I decided that Athlete were in fact the best band in the world after all.

July 14th: Richmond Fontaine, Railway Inn, Winchester

They spent most of the night wrestling on my lawn. Blame the Aldi bourbon.

August 3rd: Athlete, Somerset House, London

They were terrible. It’s not down to my mood, just that their performances vary so wildly in quality.

August 4th: Jon Amor, South Parade Pier, Southsea

The PA was useless, so unfair to comment.

August 5th: The Saw Doctors / Kosheen, Eastleigh Festival.

Well-organised event with bland music.

August 6th: The Secret Agency, Thomas Tripp, Christchurch

Everybody was extremely drunk.

August 19th: The Blockheads, The Brook, Southampton

Not on form at all.

August 23rd: sxsc Summer Party, The Railway, Winchester

Stocks and Powell played and we got through eight carrot cakes.

September 7th: The Sense, CC’s Club, London

A gangsta rap showcase. Lord help us.

September 18th: Max Bona, Horse and Groom, Alresford

Mark Andrews is still a star.

September 22: John Parish, The Railway, Winchester

I get quite emotional thinking about this. He and his band were so good, all our friends were there and … oh sob … isn’t this the happiest you can be?

September 29th: Jools Holland Orchestra, Koh Samui Festival, Thailand

You’re just gonna have to believe it.

October 1st: UB40 / The Wailers, Koh Samui Festival, Thailand

Bet you’re jealous.

October 13th: Mark Mulcahy, The Railway, Winchester

Have you noticed that I don’t go to other people’s gigs any more because I’m too busy organising my own?

October 14th: Richmond Fontaine, Bush Hall, London

I missed half of it because of having to catch the train home.

October 15th: Laura Veirs, Joiners Arms, Southampton

Too big for us now, na-ne-na.

October 20th: The Hollies, The Anvil, Basingstoke

Here’s a turn-up. They’ve got a great new singer and a new album on the way. The best Hollies show I’ve seen since the Sixties.

October 26th: Johnathan Rice, Joiners Arms, Southampton

He can’t spell his own name, he was backed by a horrible pub rock band, but support Eileen Rose was great.

November 3rd: Darden Smith, Traders, Petersfield

How sweet. A gig in a Thai restaurant.

November 5th: The Ralfe Band, Caledonian Backpackers, Edinburgh

Definitely no fireworks. A crap band in a vile venue.

November 12th: Peter Bruntnell Band, The Railway, Winchester

They were on fire.

November 15th: Centro-Matic, Engine Room, Brighton

Sad to experience such a great band, so far from home, playing to hardly anyone.

November 20th: Jon Amor, Three Horseshoes, Burton Bradstock

Jon played in front of a crackling log fire.

December 6th: Amy Rigby, The Railway, Winchester

Hey, she’s going out with Wreckless Eric! And her bassist is Kevin Coyne’s son! And support act Luke Doucet is amazing!

December 8th: Razorlight, The Railway, Winchester

Imagine how exciting this was. Now quadruple it. You’re still not there.

December 13th: John Parish, L’Aéronef, Lille

Afterwards, we all turned into Grappa-monsters.

December 16th: Sarah Sharp / Darren Black, Cecil Hut, Twyford

One of the best nights of my life – I mean it.


January 10: Green On Red, Astoria, London

And of course a pint in the Pillars of Hercules beforehand.

January 12. The Nightingales, Joiners Arms

This was to cheer up Mint, as he was ill.

January 29: Eileen Rose, Railway Inn

She had a stonking band with her.

February 3: Americana Triple Bill, Railway Inn

If I remember, this was Steve Dawson, Bill Mallonee and someone else, and no one came.

February 14: Neal Casal, Railway Inn.

This was quite a coup for Valentines Day.

February 18: The Boy Least Likely To, Joiners Arms.

I don’t quite remember why I took such a dislike to this lot. Probably because they were posh and being hyped.

February 20: Two Gallants, Wedgewood Rooms.

Great new US duo.

February 22: Stellastarr*, Wedgewood Rooms.

I still carry a torch for this band. For their bassist, mainly.

March 9: Nuru Kane, The Studio, Petersfield

Strangely impersonal venue for African star managed by my old friend Pete Holden.

March 9: Delays, Southampton University.

Love ‘em. Probably the peak of their popularity and supported by the ever-lovely Scarlet Soho.

March 16 – 19: SxSW, Austin, Texas.

Bliss and more.

March 26: Clearlake, Railway Inn.

There was a bit of a “mighty fallen” feel about this.

March 28: Mark Gardener, Railway Inn.

See March 26.

April 1: Kirk Brandon, Railway Inn.

See March 26.

April 7: Broken Family Band, Railway Inn.

I flew down from Manchester just for the gig, got horribly drunk and flew back at 6 am. Was it worth it? Sure was!

April 18: The Storys, Railway Inn.

A sell-out crowd for this Welsh band but we preferred opener Jason McNiff.

April 25: Deadstring Brothers, Railway Inn

The Detroit rockers came to our place for tea and table-tennis first.

April 29: John Parish, Railway Inn.

A homecoming of sorts for our friend and his lovely Franco-Italian band.

May 5: Deadstring Brothers, The Lamb, Farnham

Ghastly venue.

May 12: Tom Jones, MGM Grand, Las Vegas.

It was our 25th wedding anniversary.

May 27: The Agency, BIC, Bournemouth

Big bash for the soul searchers’ 21st birthday but there were hardly any bar staff.

May 30: Mary Lee’s Corvette, Railway Inn

But more importantly, the godlike Luke Doucet opened.

July 1: Thieves Like Us, Nunhead, London

It was Tim Barron’s 50th, so a reunion was in order.

July 2: The Who / Razorlight, Hyde Park, London

I objected to the litter and rip-of prices. Plus Townshend having a backing guitarist, what’s that about?

July 5: Volume, Railway Inn

I pretended I was planning to sue them for breach of copyright on the name!

July 7: Chris TT, Blissfields Festival, Basingstoke

A sweet little festival that later got too big for its boots.

July 8: Scarlet Soho, Railway Inn

I did a review for Record Collector, which pleased the band.

July 14: Jon Amor, Bell By The Green, Devizes

Album launch party. I stayed in a crummy B and B and fell victim to a dodgy curry. Avebury was lovely though.

July 18: Thomas Truax, Railway Inn

He was plain silly, but Co-Pilgim opened the show in style.

July 21: Cerys Matthews, Wedgewood Rooms

She was just fantastic.

July 22: Howling Bells, Wedgewood Rooms

Antipodeans, I believe.

August 4: Wickham Festival with Richard Thomson

Who was solo but wiped the floor with everyone else.

August 8: Kate Stables, Railway Inn

Sweet-voiced folk.

August 12: Dead Dead Dead, Joiners Arms

Local band erroneously tipped for fame. Good though.

September 3: Spencer Davis Group, Regent Theatre, Deal

A tortuous train journey was undertaken in a vain attempt to sell some Eddie Hardin books.

September 15: Stewboss, The Railway

They rocked.

September 16 – 17: End Of The Road Festival, Blandford

Now that’s what I call a festival. Ryan Adams – whoo!

October 1: Sparklehorse, Wedgewood Rooms

Astonishing that the room was only about a quarter full.

October 3: Eileen Rose, The Railway

A quick return.

October 8: Patty Hurst Shifter, The Railway

Raleigh’s finest enjoyed their tour of Twyford’s drinkeries. Bassist Jesse is Harry Enfield’s double.

October 12: Bastard Sons Of Johnny Cash, Talking Heads, Southampton

I had expected them to be a whole lot better.

October 16: Patty Hurst Shifter, Borderline, London

Second Helping required.

October 20: The Heights, Railway Inn

Ephemeral indie band.

October 22: Peter Bruntnell Band / Rachelle van Zanten, Railway Inn

Two of my faves.

October 15: Killing Heidi, Melbourne, Australia

Ex-eighties stars playing in a country pub.

October 16: Teddy Thompson, Melbourne, Australia

Promotional lunchtime show in a subterranean record shop we just happened to walk past.

December 9: Charlemagne, Gilbert Room, Twyford

Remember Carl Johns? Back for a Xmas show.

December 14: Rachelle van Zanten, Railway Inn

My Canadian “discovery” back with her ex-Goldrush band.

December 17: Jon Amor, Scarlet Soho, Joiners Arms

I had written Access One Step, the Official History Of the Joiners Arms and this was the launch party.

December 19: Mark Eitzel, Railway Inn

Omigodomigodomigod. Mood swings a go-go.


January 17: Supersuckers, Joiners Arms

Sweaty as hell.

January 21: Dear Mr Fantasy, The Roundhouse, London

Jim Capaldi tribute with Winwood, Weller and many others.

January 30: The Klaxons, Joiners Arms

A great moment to catch this brilliant band. There was a film crew doing a piece about my Joiners book too, so it was all pretty satisfying.

January 31: Rival Joustas, Railway Inn

Can’t remember anything about them.

February 3: Spencer Davis Group, 100 Club, London

The best thing about the 100 Club is the Dyson hand dryers.Very effective.

February 11: Richmond Fontaine / Endrick Brothers, Railway Inn

And now we are friends for life.

February 24: Ed Tudor Pole, Railway Inn

Washed-up old punk, I’m afraid.

February 25: The Black Keys, Old Fire Station, Bournemouth

We had the privilege of seeing Black Kids open the show but the venue was horrible and the bloke next to us ran out having received a phone call to say his mum had died.

February 27: Justin Rutledge, Railway Inn

We would see more of him.

March 1: John Otway, Railway Inn.

Still a genius.

March 6: Richmond Fontaine, Brighton

I unfortunately can’t remember the venue’s name but I did a truly rock and roll thing: puked up a curry in the Travelodge.

March 14 – 17: SxSW, Austin, Texas

I joined a random queue and got the see the Flaming Lips in a tiny club on 6th Street. Ecstasy.

March 28: The Twang, Joiners Arms

Over-hyped bunch of bruisers.

March 31: Good Time Charlies, Railway Inn

Nish’s Pompey garage band.

April 4: Laura Veirs, 100 Club, London

They wore awful brown suits and the Dyson hand dryer was out of action.

April 13: Hummingbird, The Tower, Winchester

Girl trio destined for … not much, actually.

April 21: John Parish, La Nef , Angoulême

A mad journey but worth it. Pretty much the furthest I have travelled for one gig.

April 25: Steve Winwood, Wedgewood Rooms

No idea why he played such a small venue but it made for an amazing show.

May 12: Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter, Railway Inn

Pretty much fell in love with Jesse’s music this night.

May 15: Elliott Brood, Railway Inn

Brilliant Toronto maniacs who drank the whisky rider before going onstage and tore the place to bits (musically).

May 20: Richmond Fontaine, Talking Heads, Southampton

Plus … lock up your daughters … Bob Frank and John Murry.

May 21: Wilco, Shepherds Bush Empire

Goldhawk Road tube station at midnight is not a good place to be. Great show, though.

June 8 – 9: Isle of Wight Festival

The Rolling Stones. Keef was playing more wrong notes than right ones but they were still majestic. Plus we had some kind of VIP pass.

June 14: Roger Chapman, The Brook, Southampton

Elderly musicians often need the lyrics on a music stand in front of them. It’s the rock and roll lifestyle that’s done it.

June 19: Endrick Brothers, Railway Inn

We loved these Glaswegians but there was no audience.

June 23: The Agency, Twyford Parish Hall

My magnificent wife’s 50th birthday.

July 4: The Hold Steady, Wedgewood Rooms

I went with Rich and we were only people in the room who failed to “get it”. Would love to give them another go.

July 5: The Dodge Brothers, Talking Heads, Southampton

Southampton’s local hero Mark Kermode (of quiff and film review fame) plays double bass in this rockabilly outfit.

July 16: Silent League, Joiners Arms

Cult US band, not much cop.

July 25: Hard-Fi, Joiners Arms

Crammed warm-up show, the Joiners at its best.

August 17: Max Bona, Eastney Tavern, Portsmouth

Mark and Phil’s covers band.

August 23: Loomer, Talking Heads, Southampton

Canadian country.

September 4: Polly Paulusma, Railway Inn

For some reason this was a tremendously emotional evening. We liked her a lot.

September 9: The Police, Twickenham Stadium

I’m sorry because this was a birthday present from Birgit, but they were piss poor. And we had to sit through Sting’s son’s crap band as well.

September 14 – 16: End Of The Road Festival, Blandford

Brilliant fun.

September 18: Redlands Palomino Company, Railway Inn.

All I can remember is that this is the only band we’ve ever had get lairy on us. It was about them wanting to get take-outs after the bar had closed.

October 3: Chuck Prophet and the Mission Express, Talking Heads, Southampton

John Murry tried to strangle Jan, the tour manager.

October 7: Six Shooter Triple Barrel Tour, Railway Inn, Winchester

Namely Luke Doucet, Justin Rutledge and NQ Arbuckle, troupers all.

October 11: Richmond Fontaine, Luminaire, London


October 21: Miles Hunt, Railway Inn

A bit sad, I’m afraid.

October 29: Handsome Family, Unit 22, Southampton

They played in the window as the ocean liners steamed by.

November 6: Damo Suzuki, Railway Inn

Every bit as surreal as it sounds.

November 10: The National, Portsmouth Pyramids.

Not really the place to see a band like this.

November 11: Peter Bruntnell and the Murder of Crows / Ox

Pete’s brilliant new direction plus visitors from Canada = alcoholic mayhem.

November 16: The Bluetones, Joiners Arms

I do have a soft spot for them.

November 22: Joseph Arthur, Talking Heads, Southampton

Wow! His backing band consists of superstar models who I later had the pleasure of looking up on the internet.

November 26: The Holloways, University of Winchester

This was supposed to herald a new era for music in Winchester. It didn’t and the band was sub-Levellers.

December 3: Jesse Owen Youngs, Railway Inn

Annoying people (mainly support bands) talked all the way through.

December 9: SAS Band, The Brook, Southampton

This was actually great fun, with Toyah Willcox in full-on panto mode.

December 22: Sarah Sharp, Gilbert Room, Twyford

Her little boy Alistair was crying, so she did the encores with him in her arms. Not a dry eye in the house.


January 5: Owen Tromans and the Elders, Railway Inn

He’s good, you know.

January 17: Kill Henry Sugar, Railway Inn

Joan Baez’s backing band!

January 24: Carolyn Mark, Ashcroft Arts Centre, Fareham

She hadn’t worked out the exchange rate and was trying to sell her CDs for £20. Fat chance.

January 25: Steve Earle, Basingstoke Anvil

Awful sloppy stuff with his wife.

February 7: Dead Rock West, Railway Inn

There was even an audience.

February 9: Kathleen Haskard, Railway Inn

Interesting evening, dominated by Southampton newcomers The Family.

February 13: American Music Club, Dingwalls, London

This was the line-up that didn’t work and the sound was excruciating.

February 17: Deadstring Brothers, Railway Inn

Motor City Toughs back again.

February 26: Phil Campbell, The Cellars, Eastney

Confusing. I went with Phil Campbell to see Phil Campbell.

March 2: Joe Jackson Band, Shepherds Bush empire

He truly is a genius.

March 12 – 15: SxSW, Austin, Texas

The most enjoyable one ever, on account of just chilling and not chasing round after hot bands.

April 17: Centro-Matic, South San Gabriel, Railway Inn

And then Texas came to us!

April 22: Chuck Prophet and the Mission Express / Willy Vlautin and Paul Brainard, Railway Inn

Life could scarcely get better.

April 23: Chuck Prophet and the Mission Express / Willy Vlautin and Paul Brainard, Fiddlers, Bristol

Oh – it just did!

April 24: Frank Turner, Railway Inn.

Back to earth. Everyone loves this bloke except me.

May 11: Jesse Sykes and Phil Wandscher, Railway Inn

They had a great barney at the sound check and the tension led to an extra fine show.

May 13: Johnny Flynn, Railway Inn

A tip for the top.

May 28: Andy Burrows, Union Chapel

Charity show by my – dare I say protégé? No, I don’t dare.

June 21: Mia, Goethe-Institut, London

Not THE Mia but a German one. Have you noticed we don’t go to Glasters any more?

July 6: Hop Farm Festival in Kent, with Neil Young, My Morning jacket, Primal Scream etc.

Cold and wet, but joyous music. Don’t mention the car park though.

July 9: Laura Veirs, Winchester Discovery Centre

A really nice new venue, who’d have thought it?

July 10: Eighties Matchbox B Line Disaster, Railway Inn

Another “mighty fallen” scenario. Absolutely terrible.

July 13: The Blue Nile, Somerset House, London

Beautiful music from Scotland.

July 14: White Denim, Borderline, London

I should get a bloody South West Trains season ticket. A bit proggy and noodly for me, but support Micah P Hinson was better.

July 28: Peter Bruntnell, Borderline, London

Plus boozing in the Pillars of Hercules, natch.

July 29: Kylie Minogue, O2 Arena, London

To my chagrin, she didn’t even notice I was there.

August 1: Ian McLagan and the Bump Band, Railway Inn

Words can hardly convey the joy of this evening.

August 27: REM, The Rosebowl, Southampton

I just can’t accept them as a stadium band.

September 2: The Autumn Defense / Plush, Railway Inn

These Wilco members were rather upstaged by the extraordinary support.

September 7: Graystonbury Festival, Twyford Parish Hall, with Jon Amor, Chris TT, etc.

This 60th birthday celebration was supposed to be an open air event but the weather intervened.

September 12 – 14: End Of The Road Festival, Blandford

We chickened out of some of it because of the mud. Blush!

September 16: American Music Club, Railway Inn

We had emails from people saying this was the greatest night of their lives, and who could disagree?

September 26: Josh Cockerell, Mitzis, Toronto

A good excuse to share Jägermeister with Justin Rutledge and John Dinsmore.

October 16: Laura Veirs, Laurelthirst, Portland, Oregon

A drunken night out with the Richmond Fontaine guys. Laura was doing a Happy Hour residency with Chris Funk of the Decemberists.

October 22: Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland, Railway Inn

A marriage made in heaven. Why aren’t these two huge?

October 25: Deadstring Brothers, Railway Inn

Quite a wild night.

October 28: James Yuill, Railway Inn

Load of old rubbish.

October 29: Adam Ficek, Railway Inn

Babyshambles’ drummer! Really entertaining too.

October 2: The Sadies, Railway Inn

Brilliant Toronto road warriors. I’ve never seen a band sweat so much.

November 7: Peter Bruntnell, Jeb Loy Nichols, Michael Weston King, Winchester Discovery Centre

This one was hysterically funny for all the wrong reasons.

November 12: Mercury Rev, Academy, Bristol

Maybe it was because I had a run-in with a meat head bouncer, but I hated one of my favourite bands this evening.

November 18: Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine, Joiners Arms

An emotional evening for all, as our dear friend Mint Burston was remembered.

November 25: Selfish Cunt, Railway Inn

Well I’m sorry, that’s what they are called.

November 28: Thea Gilmore, The Tower, Winchester

After you’ve seen Melissa McClelland, anyone else seems tame.

December 3: Kathleen Edwards, Bush Hall, London

Apart from Kathleen Edwards, that is.

December 6: Jon Amor, White Horse, Litton Cheney

Country pub.

December 7: Imelda May, Railway Inn.

Over-rated Jools Holland protégée.

December 13: Justin Rutledge, Mary’s Cellar, Twyford

Xmas feast of music.

December 17: Rick Wakeman, The Tower, Winchester

It was actually a talk, but he is a rock star, after all.

December 19: Ukelele Orchesta of Great Britain, The Point, Eastleigh

Loadsa fun.


January 8: Ben Weaver, Railway Inn, Winchester

Ben on good form, supported by Brighton’s Jane Bartholomew.

January 18: Peter Bruntnell Band, Grey Horse, Kingston

Wild grey horses.

January 31: The Only Ones, The Brook, Southampton

By a miracle, that were all alive and very good.

February 6: Gregory Isaacs, The Heptones etc, Pegasus Hotel, Kingston, Jamaica

Bob Marley’s birthday celebrations. LOUD and undoubtedly proud.

February 24: The Phantom Band, Railway Inn, Winchester

Fantastic band from Glasgow. Within three months, they had become too expensive for us to book.

February 28: Neville Staple, Railway Inn, Winchester

Great, sweaty night of Specials songs played by a proper Special.

February 29: Elliot Brood, Railway Inn, Winchester

Canadian hellraisers.

March 10: Peter Bruntell Band, Emily Barker, Railway Inn, Winchester

Packed and groovy.

March 12: PJ Harvey and John Parish, Bridport Arts Centre

The traditional homely warm-up for a world tour promoting a brilliant new album.

March 17 – 22: South By South West Festival, Austin, Texas

PJH and JP were sensational, as were Shearwater, Primal Scream and Asteroids Galaxy Tour.

April 11: Kill Henry Sugar, Railway Inn, Winchester

Native New Yorkers.

April 14: And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

They had been on much better form the month before in their home town Austin.

April 21: PJ Harvey and John Parish, Shepherds Bush Empire, London

A get-together of old friends.

May 12: Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland, Railway Inn, Winchester

Celebrating Melissa’s album release.

May 14: The Beat, Tower Arts Centre, Winchester

Ranking Roger and his son, Ranking Junior

May 15: The Asteroids Galaxy Tour, Luminaire. London

I took Andy Burrows, who claimed to be texting the managing director of Mercury Records in the middle of the set saying “Sign this band!” He had a good point.

May 19: Juliet Lewis, Talking Heads, Southampton

Now this really is embarrassing. I got confused and thought this was going to be Jenny Lewis! Juliet was truly atrocious.

May 28: Jason Lytle, Islington Academy, London

My hero!

June 1: Counting Crows, Brixton Academy

They just weren’t very good.

June 3: Machetes, Railway Inn, Winchester

The fact that they were from Canada didn’t stop them being crap.

June 4: Ash, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

I’d forgotten how brilliant they are.

June 16: Jason Isbell, Luminaire, London

I had to leave after two songs to catch a train!

June 18: Ella Edmonson, Railway Inn, Winchester

Daughter of Ade and Jennifer Saunders. Really quite good.

July 2: That Petrol Emotion, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

Very sprightly.

July 5: White Denim, Talking Heads, Southampton. Noodly, but a nice atmosphere.

July 10: Eddi Reader, Eastleigh Festival

Yes, that does say Eastleigh Festival.

July 18: Willy Vlautin, The Basement, Brighton

My goodness, he’s good.

July 24: PJ Harvey, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

This was a Bestival warm-up and Polly was visibly upset by wankers talking all through her solo set.

July 28: Arbouretum, Railway Inn, Winchester

Thrilling music from Baltimore. They turned us on to The Wire.

August 9: Chuck Prophet, Miners Arms, Lydney

Chuck solo in a pub in the Forest of Dean. You couldn’t make it up.

August 21: Jeffrey Lewis and the Junkyard, Hamptons, Southampton

A strange venue and I had to miss half the set to catch a train.

September 6: sxsc Festival, Railway Inn, Winchester

Our first festival, starring Richmond Fontaine, Peter Bruntnell and a cast of thousands.

September 11 – 13: End Of The Road Festival, Dorset

Fleet Foxes, Explosions In The Sky, etc, etc. I like it more than Glastonbury now.

September 16: She Keeps Bees, Railway Inn, Winchester

Great new duo.

September 17: Richmond Fontaine, The Garage, London

A nostalgic day trip round old Islington haunts.

September 21: Jon Amor, Bulls Head, Barnes

Album launch in a legendary music pub.

September 23: Charlotte Hatherley, Unit, Southampton

Why was she playing this dismal dump? Sack the agent.

October 2: Deadstring Brothers, Luminaire, London

Ryan O’Reilly supported. Deadstrings’ mojo seems on the wane.

October 6: Mark Eitzel, Tower Arts Centre, Winchester

With Marc Capelle on the grand piano.

October 28: Stiff Little Fingers, The Brook, Southampton

We got free tickets from a friend who was Jake Burns’ best man … at both his weddings.

October 29: Emily Barker and the Red Clay Halo, Railway Inn, Winchester

Gorgeous evening.

October 30: Jim Jones, Borderline, London

Our hero.

October 31: Owen Tromans and the Elders, Railway Inn, Winchester

Four gigs on successive days, Quite like old times.

November 10: Flaming Lips, The Troxy, London

Cool venue, brilliant band. That’s it.

November 14: Mint Memorial Show, Joiners Arms, Southampton

Sadly rather a poor turnout.

November 17: Monsters of Folk, The Troxy, London

Apparently we missed the best bit, when Conor Oberst accidentally knocked the keyboards and drums off the back of the stage.

November 18: The Fall, The Brook, Southampton

I knew a lot more about Mark E. Smith, having just read a very long and boring book about him.

November 22: Charlotte Hatherley, Railway Inn, Winchester

This more than made up for the horrible Southampton gig.

November 26: Danny Schmidt and Carrie Elkin, Prince Albert, Brighton

This was the last-ever Gilded Palace Of Sin show.

December 4: Ryan O’Reilly Band, The Lantern, Romsey

Despite being in a school hall, this was fab fun.

December 5: Dreadzone, The Brook, Southampton

A village outing. Dreadzone frighteningly reminded me of UB40.

December 6: New York Dolls, Talking Heads, Southampton

Now this IS rock and roll. Triumphant.

December 9: Chris Difford, Railway Inn, Winchester

Accompanied by a Powerpoint presentation!

December 12: Jim Jones, Mary’s Cellar, Twyford



January 20: Jon Amor, South Parade Pier, Southsea


January 27: Laura Veirs, Union Chapel, London

Would she give birth on stage?

February 9: Willy Vlautin, Roundhouse, London

The Launch of Lean On Pete.

February 13: Coal Porters, Railway Inn, Winchester

Punk bluegrass.

February 18: Holly Williams, Tower Arts Centre, Winchester


21 February: Jon Amor / Mutter Slater, /The Producers, Freshwater, Bridport

A Haiti benefit.

25 February: Billy Bragg, Harbour Lights, Southampton

The launch of Jail Guitar Doors.

27 February: Richmond Fontaine, Railway Inn, Winchester

The famous Double Show. In the afternoon, they played the whole of Post To Wire.

4 March: Richmond Fontaine, Bush Hall, London

Sound problems.

16 – 20 March: South By Southwest, Austin, Texas


7 April: Abandoman, Spitalfields, London

Amazing improvisational rap.

10 April: Bad Company, Brighton Centre

Nostalgia trip.

April 16: Jon Amor, Tower Arts Centre, Winchester

Seated gig. Probably a mistake.

April 17: The Duke and the King, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

A fantastic new band from the Catskills. What a treat.

April 18: Sarah Borges and the Broken Singles, Railway Inn, Winchester


May 5: Chuck Prophet and the Mission Express, Railway Inn, Winchester

How come they get better each time?

May 13: Band Of Skulls, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

Cool new band from Southampton. Pardon?

May 15: Chuck Prophet and the Mission Express, Tingewick Village Hall


May 25: Fairport Convention, Railway Inn, Winchester

Disappointingly smug. Someone I can’t name thought they were the support band.

June 2: Rachelle van Zanten, Railway Inn, Winchester

Worked out great after we found her a drummer.

June 39: Midlake, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

Fantastic evening (flutes!), opened by John Grant.

July 1: Hawksley Workman, Trafalgar Square, London

Canada Day.

July 2: Blissfields Festival, Basingstoke

Very sunny.

July 9: Cara Dillon, Eastleigh Festival

Musically doubtful but a lovely event.

July 10: Badly Drawn Boy, Eastleigh Festival

I love Eastleigh (it must be the ley lines) but BDB was a pile of poo.

July 19: Giant Sand, Tower Arts Centre, Winchester

A privilege and a joy.

August 1: Shearwater, Railway Inn, Winchester

Controversial booking – I loved them but some of the audience foolishly considered them too proggy. Support Nils Frahm was a classical pianist!

August 6: Emily Barker, Tate Britain, London

And I also spent five minutes in Folk In A Box. Intense.

August 18: Simone Felice, Railway Inn, Winchester


August 21: Forest Sun, Railway Inn, Winchester

Californian troubador having a rotten damp summer in the UK.

August 25: The Sense, Belushis, Camden, London

They’re back!

August 27: The Pretty Things, South Parade Pier, Southsea

Finally catching up on those I missed in the Sixties (those that are still alive).

August 28: Caitlin Rose, The Musician, Leicester

An all-day train safari adventure to see a future star. Local support Richard Warren excellent too.

August 31: This Is The Kit, Railway Inn, Winchester

Kate Stables by any other name.

September 5: sxsc Festival, Railway Inn, Winchester

Our second annual festival with Elliott Brood, Sam Baker, Danny and the Champions of the World and a host of others.

September 7: Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick, Railway Inn, Winchester

These two pretty well ruined my birthday, droning and caterwauling away for hours.

September 9: Calm Of Zero, Railway Inn, Winchester

Echobelly with a new name and acoustic direction! Pretty much spoilt by a talkative audience.

September 10 – 12: End Of The Road Festival, Dorset

My annual treat and even better than usual, thanks to the Low Anthem and the brilliant Wilco.

September 14: I Am Arrows, Joiners Arms, Southampton

Andy Burrows’ post-Razorlight band. Fingers crossed for success.

September 18: Les Shelleys, Swiss Cotttage, Twyford

Tom Brosseau and Angela Correa in our garden shed – mentioned on Radio 2 and 6 Music! Sublime evening.

September 19: Robin Trower, The Brook, Southampton


September 20: Sam Baker, Luminaire London

I went because I wanted to hear his stories (omitted from his short festival set). On balance, I preferred him just to get on with the songs.

September 24: Justin Rutledge and Amelia Curran, Railway Inn, Winchester

Well, I loved them but the turnout was woeful.

September 26: I Am Kloot, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

I didn’t enjoy them as much as everyone else did.

September 28: Wreckless Eric,Railway Inn, Winchester

Now teamed with Amy Rigby.

October 1: Deadstring Brothers, Talking Heads, Southampton

Dismal evening. Bad performance from Kurt with poor pick-up band, plus a knobhead audience.

October 2: Eilen Jewell Band, Railway Inn, Winchester

Good band slightly tempered by being favourites of David Cameron! It’s EE-LIN, by the way.

October 9: James Lusby, Beach and Barnicott, Bridport

In the corner of a wine bar.

October 15: Delays, Southampton University

Completely destroyed by the sound man. We had to leave.

October 17: Austin Lucas, The Windmill, Brixton

Not the most salubrious venue.

October 19: Luke Doucet, Railway Inn, Winchester

Luke with a band – brilliant. Also enjoyed Richard Warren, who came down from Leicester.

October 20: Crooked Still / Emily Barker, St Peter’s Church, Petersfield

Let us pray.

October 27: The Duke And The King, Electric Ballroom, London


October 29: Peter Bruntnell, Swiss Cottage, Twyford

Did it get drunken? Yes, it did.

November 3: Chesney Hawkes, Railway Inn, Winchester

The one, and indeed, the only.

November 10: Buddy Whittington, Railway Inn, Winchester

Fantastic blues from ex John Mayall sideman.

November 12: Dr Feelgood, Railway Inn, Winchester

No original members but not bad.

November 29: The Sadies, Railway Inn, Winchester

My goodness, they rock.

December 12: Stephanie Finch and Chuck Prophet, Railway Inn, Winchester

Plus the magnificent Kelley Stoltz. The visit lasted longer than expected as they got snowed in!.

October 19: Ryan O’Reilly, Mary’s Cellar, Twyford

Village Xmas celebrations.


January 14: The Beat, Railway Inn, Winchester

Skanking with Ranking Roger and Ranking Junior.

January 29: Justin Townes Earle, Union Chapel, London

James Walbourne introduced me to Chrissie Hynde and I nearly died. I also got involved in a controversy about whether JTE uses backing tracks. He doesn’t.

February 4: Ben Weaver, Swiss Cottage, Twyford

A nice way to celebrate Ben’s birthday.

February 6: The Phantom Band, Railway Inn, Winchester

All the way from Glasgow and really, really good.

February 8: C.W. Stoneking, Mr Kyp’s, Poole

Too gimmicky for me but nice to get to Kyp’s after all these years.

February 11: Ben Waters, Discovery Centre, Winchester

Yes sir, he can boogie.

February 12: Emily Barker and the Red Clay Halo, Coombe Bissett

That’s what you call atmospheric. A lovely house concert.

February 17: Dolly Varden, Railway Inn, Winchester

Greatly enhanced by the last-minute addition of Portland’s Dolorean to the bill.

October 19: Betsey’s Winterlude, Conway Hall, London

Mini festival but I had to leave before Danny And The Champs – the band I’d come to see.

February 22: Teddy Thompson, Joiners Arms, Southampton

Not as good as I’d remembered. Support David Ford was better.

February 27: PJ Harvey, The Troxy, London

Devastated to find I didn’t really enjoy the album everyone else was raving about.

March 2: Dan Michaelson, Railway, Winchester

He has a very, very strange voice.

March 19: Dead Rock West, Railway, Winchester

They rocked this town and then spent the rest of the tour with food poisoning. Nothing to do with us.

March 6: Albert Lee, Railway, Winchester

A legend who didn’t live up to expectations.

March 9: Jon Amor, Railway, Winchester

Rockin’ the Attic.

March 19: Malcolm Holcombe, Farncombe

Nice venue but small audience.

March 12 – 20: SXSW, Austin, Texas

Heaven on earth. Front row for The Bangles!

March 19: Arbouretum, Borderline, London

The evening I ordered a Margarita cocktail from a pizza menu!

March 28: I Am Arrows, Railway, Winchester

Homecoming show for Andy Burrows.

March 30: Peter Bruntnell Band, Railway, Winchester

Followed by some heavy-duty shenanigans at our place.

April 11: Low Anthem, Queen Elizabeth Hall, London

They had to do half the show acoustically after the PA blew up.

April 13: Simone Felice, Railway, Winchester

A country walk followed by three standing ovations.

April 17: Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter, Railway, Winchester

Totally and utterly brilliant. Phil Wandscher is God.

April 21: Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter, Water Rats, London

Inevitable let-down owing to crap venue.

May 21: Hurray For The Riff Raff, Railway, Winchester

That happy serendipity of booking the right band at the right moment.

May 28: “Winchstock”, Twyford

It had to happen eventually. A festival in our garden.

May 30: Frank Turner, Railway, Winchester

Seldom has anyone been so ridiculously over-rated.

June 8: Trevor Moss and Hannah-Lou, Railway, Winchester

Too twee.

June 12: Lazy Bishop Festival, Farnham

I felt so sorry for the guys organizing this event, which was destroyed by rain.

June 14: We Are Scientists, Assembly, Leamington Spa

Unashamed ligging with Andy in a super venue with a super band.

June 17: Mungo Jerry, Railway, Winchester

Do you know, they were bloody good.

June 24: Dead Rock West, Swiss Cottage, Twyford

Massive fun.

June 30: Flaming Lips, Eden Project, Cornwall

Perfect setting for still my favourite band.

July 1 – 2: Blissfields Festival, Woodmancott

Gorgeous weather, lovely event and yes – the amazing Jim Jones Revue.

July 6: Dead Rock West, The Hope, Brighton

Few things can be as enjoyable as walking along a sunny Brighton seafront with Cindy Wassermann.

July 8: Travelling Band, The Point, Eastleigh

They supported Leisure Society and blew them offstage.

July 13: Richmond Fontaine Acoustic, Railway, Winchester

Willy and Dan in the Attic. Intense and very, very hot.

July 22 – 24: Truck Festival, Steventon

Great weekend notable for a triumph by The Duke And The King. Little did we know the festival was in the process of going bust (although the signs were there).

July 26: Ed Sheeran, Railway, Winchester

Interesting because he was number 3 in the charts at the time. He rather sweetly performed on a beer crate in the middle of the room. He reminded me of Finley Quaye – folk with beats and constant references to dope. Career trajectory likely to be similar too.

August 2: Sidmouth Fringe Festival

Notable for lovely food, the presence of Small Town Jones and Peter Bruntnell, and an almost complete lack of audience. And the fact that I got all the way there by bus, and for free.

Augustly 8: Ian McLagan, Railway, Winchester

I was star-struck again. Mac stopped for a piss in the car park on his way to the stage. Two days before, he’s been performing to 100,000 people at Fuji Rock with The Faces

August 17: The Low Anthem, Hare and Hounds, Birmingham

A Winchester outing to a sweet warm-up for Green Man.

August 18: Mark Morriss, Railway, Winchester

The Bluetones front man was a tad inebriated which made him an excellent raconteur.

August 27: Buddy Whittington, Railway, Winchester

He’s not small.

August 28: Peter Bruntnell, Black Lion, Surbiton

Pete with his covers band.

August 31: Matthew and the Atlas, Railway, Winchester

A bit clever for me.

September 11: Sam Baker, Railway, Winchester

Trouble for me. People were buying me tequilas, as it was my birthday. When I got home, whoops, I knocked a rather valuable ornament off the wall.

September 10: Peter Bruntnell, The Palmeira, Hove

Birgit very nearly fell asleep at the wheel on the interminable journey home.

September 12: Jason McNiff, St Pancras Old Church, London

Jason’s album launch in a lovely, if hard to find venue.

September 26: SXSC Festival, Railway, Winchester

Our annual all-dayer, and the focus of my life for months. I was a wonderful day. The magnificent Richmond Fontaine headlined.

September 24: The Agency, Twyfod Parish Hall

Just like the old days – except, thank goodness, someone else organized it.

September 27: Richmond Fontaine, Scala, London

Their big show, and a general triumph.

September 28: Beth Jeans Houghton, Railway, Winchester

Absolutely bloody brilliant, although they looked like street children, sitting on the floor of the car park before the show. I went home and looked for them on You Tube – scandalous video they have.

October 5: Ghostpoet, Railway, Winchester

Rammed, as he had just been nominated for the Mercury Prize. I went with daughter Lucy and Ghostpoet was very, very good.

October 9: Israel Nash Gripka, Railway, Winchester


October 11: Roddy Wooble, The Point, Eastleigh

Lovely venue and a good but slightly soulless performance.

October 12: Lotte Mullan, Railway, Winchester

Actually very charming – an Ed Sheeran-style breakthrough is not out of the question.

October 15: Alejandro Escovedo, Railway, Winchester

Austin’s finest, an unadulterated joy.

October 20: Richard Warren, the 12 Bar, London

Richard’s album launch. A dingy but atmospheric place.

October 23: Singing Adams, Railway, Winchester

Steven from the Broken Family Band on cracking form.

October 25: Richmond Fontaine, Café Atlantik, Freiburg, Germany

One of my madder escapades. Their rider was a fridge full of beer called Fucking Hell.

October 28: Travelling Band, Discovery Centre, Winchester

I was sure it wouldn’t work in this venue but I was wrong.

October 31: PJ Harvey, Royal Albert Hall, London

A night out with daughter Lucy. Finally getting used to Let England Shake but I still don’t believe it’s her best album.

November 3: The Selecter, Railway, Winchester

Earlier in the evening we saw Charlie Parr at the new Berry Theatre in Hedge End. The contrast could hardly have been greater.

November 6: Richard Buckner, Railway, Winchester

One of the most rewarding shows we have done (not financially, sadly). Italian backing band Sacri Cuori were a scream.

November 8: Eilen Jewell, Railway, Winchester

Welcome return.

November 9: Mark Eitzel, Richard Buckner, Buffalo Bar, Cardiff

Impossible to resist.

November 16: Low Anthem, Roundhouse, London

I was proud that support Simone Felice got me into the “VIP area”. Made a swift exit when the “VIP”s talked all the way though.

November 25: Amelia Curran, Swiss Cottage, Twyford

House concert. Jason McNiff supported and I think it got quite drunken.

December 9: Franz Nicolai, Chris T-T, The Bargate, Southampton

Officially the coldest gig I have ever attended. Cheered by the presence of Emma from Band Of Skulls.

December 14: Stephen Fretwell, The Railway, Winchester

Very very good indeed.


January 16: Laura Gibson, The Social, London

Dump of a venue at which I could neither see nor hear.

January 31: Whitehorse, The Railway, Winchester

The new name for Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland. Lots of loops and effects took some getting used to.

February 8: Rich Robinson, The Brook, Southampton

Black Crowes guitarist on good form.

February 14: Danny and the Champions Of The World, The Railway, Winchester

Romantic evening with Danny and the boys (and girl).

February 17: Dawes, The Windmill, Brixton

First exposure to a band destined to become one of my favourites. Sweaty and joyful.

February 18: The Deep Dark Woods, The Railway, Winchester

What a weekend of music. Another new band that simply blew everyone away. This was their first ever UK show.

February 22: The Lucy Strikes / Ox, The Railway, Winchester

Southend’s finest, supported by our old friends from Canada.

February 28: Kathleen Edwards, The Academy, Islington

Emotional evening. Kathleen with full band. At one stage, both she and the audience were in tears.

March 7: Peter Bruntnell Band, The Caves, The Railway, Winchester

Pete with his great new Welsh backing band The Caves. Plus Davey Lemonade of course.

March 13 – 16: South By South West Festival, Austin, Texas

I saw Chuck Prophet five times in two days.

March 21: Richmond Fontaine, Peter Bruntnell, The Chapel, Bath

Willy’s story of how he first met Peter Bruntnell on an alien planet brought the house down.

March 29: The Hollies, G Live, Guildford

I think the most exciting day of my musical life. Bobby Elliott gave us wine backstage in plastic cups and Tony Hicks sort of nodded at me.

April 1: Aynsley Lister, The Railway, Winchester

Not a good joke.

April 2: Shearwater, The Cellar, Oxford

They’d lost their most interesting members and turned into a grungy rock band.

April 6: Simone Felice, The Railway, Winchester

With Simi Stone and Matt Boulter. Intense.

April 11: Miller Anderson, The Railway, Winchester

Hardly anyone there but Miller was cheerful and positive.

April 14: Chuck Prophet and the Mission Express, The Railway, Winchester

Two shows in one day, enlivened by a wedding party.

April 27: Simone Felice, Bush Hall, London

Tour climax.

May 1: Richmond Fontaine Duo, Richard Buckner, Peter Bruntnell, The Railway, Winchester

Some of my favourite people, being brilliant.

May 6: Slow Club, The Railway, Winchester

Died a death.

May 7: Richmond Fontaine Duo, Richard Buckner, Peter Bruntnell, Cecil Sharp House, London

Birgit caused a stir by having a back spasm and having to lie down.

May 12: Alabama Shakes, 02, Birmingham

This was supposed to be a wedding anniversary treat but the venue was crap and the band off form.

May 24: Eastleigh Festival

The festival had moved indoors. Lanterns On The Lake were good.

June 4: Ryan o’Reilly, The Bugle, Twyford

Jubilee celebration.

June 4: David Thomas Broughton, The Railway, Winchester

Can’t remember much about him, to be honest.

June 13: Nashville Babylon, The 12 Bar, London

I think Richard Warren played.

June 14: Wreckless Eric and Amy Rigby, The Railway, Winchester

A better turnout than usual.

July 1: Alejandro Escovedo and the Sensitive Boys, The Railway, Winchester


July 11: Dawes, The Scala, London

Quite a step up from the Windmill.

August 31 – September 2: End Of  The Road Festival, Dorset

The best festival ever – Midlake, Deep Dark Woods, Jonathan Wilson, Grandaddy – and that’s for starters.

September 9: sxsc Festival, The Railway, Winchester

It all went swimmingly apart from a minor Eitzel strop.

September 20: Malcolm Holcombe, Neil Halstead, The Railway, Winchester

Holcombe is a crazed genius.

September 22: Emily Barker, The Swiss Cottage, Twyford

What a privilege! Emily was joined by her brother Joel.

September 30: Slim Chance, The Railway, Winchester

The spirit of Ronnie Lane.

October 2: Wooden Sky, Evening Hymns, The Railway, Winchester

Evening Hymns trounced the headliners.

October 4: Peter Case, The Railway, Winchester


October 5: Tom Paley, The Discovery Centre, Winchester

Charming old boy.

October 6: Ray Davies, The Guildhall, Southampton

Why did he keep going on and off stage?

October 21: Scritti Politti, The Railway, Winchester

Quite a turn up for the books!

October 21: Jim Jones Revue, The Wedgewood  Rooms, Portsmouth

No idea why they weren’t quite on form.

October 24: The Mastersons, The Railway, Winchester

Steve Earle’s backing band. Excellent, and support Hymn For Her were cool too.

October 29: World Party, O2 Academy, Oxford

Brilliant but two thirds empty, on account of astronomical ticket price.

November 4: Arbouretum, The Railway, Winchester

We love these guys. How come not many other people do?

November 11: Small Town Jones, The Railway, Winchester

Jim’s first headline show in Winchester.

November 16: Sea Of Bees, The Railway, Winchester

Hardly anyone came.

November 19: Lucy Rose, The Railway, Winchester

Ghastly hype. The music industry at its worst.

November 21: Emily Barker, Union Chapel, London

Emily’s big breakthrough.

November 25: Elliott Brood, The Railway, Winchester

Return of the Crazy Canucks.

December 1: Elliott Brood, The Palmeira, Hove

Had to go back for more.

December 1: Ben Waters, The Railway, Winchester

He was accompanied by his 12 year old son!



January 27: Focus, The Railway, Winchester

What a way to start the year. FOCUS! At the Railway!

January 30: John Murry, The Railway, Winchester

My hero.

February 7: Jason Lytle, The Scala, London

Solo. Always prefer him with a band.

February 19: Andy Burrows, The Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

Me old mucker.

February 20: And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, The Cellar, Southampton


February 21: Elliott Brood, The Windmill, Brixton

Sold out.

February 22: Robert Vincent, Benjamin Folke Thomas, Jack Day, The Railway, Winchester

Quality bill.

February 23: The Agency, Centre Stage, Bournemouth

Andy’s birthday.

February 24: Owen Tromans, The Railway, Winchester

Have you noticed that’s six gigs in six days? Life in the old dog yet!

February 26: Arbouretum, The Railway, Winchester

Just can’t say no.

March 9: The Coal Porters, The Railway, Winchester

Class bluegrass. Dave from Richmond Fontaine supported.

March 12 – 16: South By South West Festival, Austin, Texas

The best ever! (Always say that.) This time I stalked Dawes.

April 17: John Parish, Exil, Zürich

Was it self-indulgent to travel all this way for a gig? Yes, but worth it.

April 20: Jess Klein, The Swiss Cottage, Twyford

Austin to Twyford! Fun.

April 23: King Creosote, The Railway, Winchester

Dare I say over-rated?

April 25: Ruts DC, The Brook, Southampton

Triumphant return. I had no idea the bassist was also in Alabama 3.

April 29: Chuck Prophet and the Mission Express, The Cellar, Southampton

Bitter-sweet. After a great show, Chuck had his tour book stolen from the stage. Amazingly, it was returned 10 days later.

May 1: Malcolm Middleton, The Railway, Winchester

Dare I say over-rated?

May 3: The Deep Dark Woods, The Railway, Winchester

Great to have them back, and nearly a sell-out too.

May 8: John Murry, Bush Hall, London

Genius. Peter Bruntnell supported, too.

May 11: Hurray For The Riff Raff, The Railway, Winchester

Lovely to have them back.

May 12: Hiss Golden Messenger, William Tyler, The Railway, Winchester

What a weekend of top music.

May 15: Terry Reid, The Railway, Winchester

Hmm, not quite sure.

May 20: Allah-Las, Dingwalls, London

Good, but a one-trick pony. I preferred support Dead Coast – watch out for them.

May 24: Ginger Baker, The Railway, Winchester

I was star struck but luckily, not physically struck.

May 30: Stiv Cantarelli and the Silent Strangers, The Railway, Winchester

Country punk from Italy.

June 1: Palmfest, The Palmeira, Hove

Was that really me pogoing? I’m afraid it was.

June 13: Martin Harley, The Railway, Winchester

He’s a clever guy.

June 14: Willy Mason, The Joiners, Southampton

I gave him a copy of Access One Step and he asked for my autograph. Honest!

June 27: 65daysofstatic, The Railway, Winchester


June 30: Patrick Duff, The Platform Tavern, Southampton

I used to adore Strangelove and Patrick is a riveting performer.

July 11: Andy Fraser, The Railway, Winchester

I was star struck to be in the presence of a member of Free, but this was a very strange show, focusing on his protégé Tobi, who wasn’t very good. The presence of Chris Spedding brightened things up.

July 17: Dawes, The Borderline, London

Absolutely brilliant evening with good friends and a great band.

July 18: Larmer Tree Festival, Blandford

Blown away by Richard Thompson (electric) and skanking to The Beat.

July 27: Simone Felice, The Railway, Winchester

Simone entrances the Attic.

August 1: Band Of Skulls, The Joiners, Southampton

A warm-up show in their spiritual home.

August 3 – 4: Wickham Festival, Wickham

I camped and got drunk.

August 8: Ben Folke-Thomas, Waterstones, Winchester

This was the launch of my mega-selling (not) novel Zander. Ben brilliantly covered Zander’s greatest hit, “Mad And Bad”.

August 15: Arbouretum, Tiki Bar, Plymouth

Last time to see this wonderful band, now split up.

August 28: The Hoax, The Railway, Winchester

Still love ‘em.

August 31 – September 2: End Of  The Road Festival, Blandford

Brilliant as usual.

September 5: Bob Lind, The Railway, Winchester

His butterfly may be elusive but he’s an odd cove.

September 8: sxsc Festival, The Railway, Winchester

Day after my 65th birthday and I choose to have a day of (rewarding) stress.

September 17: Ben Folke-Thomas Band, The Railway, Winchester

Love the naughty Swede.

September 27: North Mississippi All Stars, House Of Blues, Chicago

Horrible rip-off venue.

October 25: Mark Eitzel, The Art Bar, Oxford

He was having an off day.

October 25: The Agency, Twyford Social Club

Soul searchin’.

October 28: Camel, The Barbican, London

Amazingly, Andy Latimer is alive and they are arguably better than they’ve ever been – brilliant evening.

October 28: Peter Bruntnell, Water Rats, London

Pete would have brought the roof down but it had already collapsed anyway.

November  2: Grant Hart, The Railway, Winchester

This was really rewarding. Grant turned out to be a sweet, charming and hugely intelligent gentleman. We had a get-together in the Light Of Bengal beforehand.

November  13: Emily Barker And The Red Clay Halo, Discovery Centre, Winchester

There was hardly room to squeeze in their gigantic tour bus.

November  15: The Coal Porters, The Railway, Winchester

Really good fun.

November  23: Laura Veirs, Islington Assembly Hall

Back in my old stomping ground. A visit to Indian Veg was inevitable.

November  25: Billy Walton Band, The Railway, Winchester

Lively evening with Southside Johnny sideman.

November  28: Martin Simpson, The Railway, Winchester

Almost too perfect and therefore lacking in soul.

December 3: Danny and the Champions Of The World, The Railway, Winchester

Headline show from UK country-soulers.

November  2: James Yorkston, The Railway, Winchester

Thought I would like him but didn’t.


January  15: Peter Bruntnell, Danny George Wilson, Neil Halstead, The Railway, Winchester

This cosy “in the round” triple bill worked brilliantly.

January  23: Deer Tick, The Garage, London

They were rather well behaved.

January  24: House Of Trees, The Swiss Cottage, Twyford

Our house concerts seem to attract Swedes for some reason.

January  30: Willy Vlautin, Rough Trade East, London

Willy’s book launch for The Free. I spooked him by leering out from behind a pillar.

February  8: Eleanor McEvoy, The Railway, Winchester

Had wanted to see her for years but was disappointed. The stakes have been raised in the singer-songwriter business.

February  11: The Deep Dark Woods, The Railway,

Winchester I was worried because they didn’t have the amazing Geoff Hilhorst, but they delivered magnificently.

February  16: Austin Lucas, The Railway, Winchester

I set this up with the help of Emily Barker and it was a cosy, intimate evening mostly played unplugged.

February  17: Anais Mitchell, The Railway, Winchester

This is what I mean when I say the singer-songwriter stakes have been upped.

February  27: John Murry, Islington Assembly Hall

Would this be the breakthrough we’d all been anticipating?

March  1: John Murry, The Railway, Winchester

Considering I believe him to be a genius, it was pretty exciting to have him playing a sold-out show in the Swiss Cottage followed by another in the Attic.

March  2: Kelley Stoltz, The Railway, Winchester

The weekend all my Christmases came at once.

March  4:  Sons Of Bill, The Railway, Winchester

Guess what, they really are Bill’s sons!

March  4:  Caravan, Salisbury City Hall

Would they still deliver like Camel did? No, they bloody well didn’t. And they were obnoxious too, so sod ‘em.

March 11 – 16: South By South West, Austin, Texas

Another mixed but generally positive experience.

March  19: Sam Brookes, The Railway, Winchester

Outstanding young singer songwriter.

March  21: Chris Helme, The Railway, Winchester

You might think that “ex-Seahorses singer” doesn’t sound promising, but he was fabulous. March

22: Ben Folke Thomas, The Betsey Trotwood, London

Lively farewell do for Ben, heading back to Sweden. We got a parking ticket.

April 18: Malcolm Holcombe, The Railway, Winchester

I’ve run out of words to try and describe him.

April 19: Simone Felice Band, Swiss Cottage, Twyford

The Swiss Cottage stars just keep getting bigger!

April 18: Dan Stuart, The Railway, Winchester

Accompanied by the inimitable Antonio Gramentieri of Sacri Cuori.

May 14: Terry Reid, The Railway, Winchester

Unruly audience members caused a funny atmosphere.

May 15: Black, The Railway, Winchester

Not particularly Wonderful.

May 20: Courtney Barnett, The Joiners, Southampton

One of those great Joiners nights with upcoming Australian artist.

May 25: Boo Hewerdine, The Railway, Winchester

He keeps getting better.

June 5: Nick Oliveri, The Railway, Winchester

You shouldn’t try to play metal solo with an acoustic guitar.

June 9: The Delines, Rough Trade East, London

I just found a new favourite band. What an unbelievable human being Willy Vlautin is – and the others are amazing too.

June 19: Jeffrey Lewis and the Jrims, The Railway, Winchester

Ridiculously gifted.

June 24: Hatfitz and Cara, Talking Heads, Southampton

Duo from Australia, managed by my neighbour. Now they keep their gear in my garage.

July 5: Blissfields Festival, Basingstoke

I felt out of place.

July 6: Ian McLagan, The Railway, Winchester

I didn’t feel out of place. And neither did Mac. God, it was hot.

July 12: Neil Young, Hyde Park, London

And also Phosphorescent, Caitlin Rose and Midlake. One of the best days out I can remember.

July 18-19: Truck Festival, Steventon

Rescued from the ashes. An odyssey by bus.

July 20: Chuck Prophet, The Cellars, Portsmouth

A very rare Chuck and Stephanie duo show. I provided the keyboard.

July 24: Hans Chew, The Railway, Winchester

Boogie pianist.

July 25: John Fullbright, The Railway, Winchester

Outstanding singer songwriter from Oklahoma.

July 27: Eels, Salisbury City Hall

Still amazing.

July 31: Provincials, The Railway, Winchester

Polly Perry’s new band.

August 8: Jim Crawford, The Champ, Appledore

Gorgeous acoustic blues in my new favourite town.

August 14 – 17: Wickham Festival, Wickham

Dog’s dinner of a line up but Steve Earle was great.

August 25: Vena Portae, The Swiss Cottage, Twyford

Emily Barker’s lovely new  band, supported by Co-Pilgrim.

August 29 – 31: End Of The Road Festival, Blandford

Lovely weather and wonderful music. Flaming Lips!

September 7: sc4m Festival, The Railway, Winchester

A new name for my annual birthday present to myself with Danny and the Champs, The Rails and The Travelling Band.

September 10: Tiny Ruins, The Railway, Winchester

Beautiful music from New Zealand.

September 26: Small Town Jones, The Thatch, Croyde

Jim on home territory, supported by the ever amazing Bruntosaurus.

September 27: Wayne Hussey, The Railway, Winchester

Not bad, but I ended up going upstairs to watch Julie Felix. She’s 76, you know.

September 30: Jess Klein, The Prince Albert, Stroud

Good stuff but I didn’t like the venue being full of smelly dogs.

October 2: Jim Jones Revue, The Old Market, Brighton

Their farewell tour. I persuaded Phil to go and he HATED every moment!


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