Thursday, 26 May 2016

990 ADAM ANT, Bristol Colston Hall, Wednesday 25th May 2016



And to round off my “May, Month Of Legends” gig month with the appropriate ostentatious flourish, there’s only one suitable candidate – the 70’s art-punk/ 80’s New Romantic legend and National Treasure (oh yes; for me on a par with Attenborough, Stewart and Mirren in that regard...) that is Adam Ant! My 9th such Ant-gig since his recent performance renaissance in 2011 had its’ inception in his last year’s “Dirk Wears White Sox” tour, and the subsequent announcement of the 2015 Record Store Day reissue of his sophomore and breakthrough album, “Kings Of the Wild Frontier”. A brilliant, ground-breaking blend of tribal rhythms, Burundi-style twin drum attack and Adam’s trademark yelping vocals, it saw Adam merge imagery ranging from Native American via Pirate to Mexican gaucho tough-guy chic into a new persona, reinventing himself as the first true glam pop star of the 80’s, whilst still retaining his art-punk sensibilities in the process, and providing him with his all-encompassing breakthrough into serious Mega-Stardom. It was therefore inevitable that a tour of that album would follow, so I jumped all over it when confirmed, grabbing tix early doors for me and Rachel.
 
So we headed off after dropping Kasey and her mate off at Brownies, running, rather ironically, into some “Cartrouble” as our motor developed a judder at high speed which necessitated a check at the services on the way. All looked OK, so we continued on, parking up in Trenchard Level 8 for a quick getaway, then chilling and people-watching in the Colston Hall’s large atrium, instead of subjecting ourselves to the tender mercies of the support act. Ran into old school friend Alison and her hubby Rob there for a nice catch-up, before taking our front stalls seats (yup, this one was a seated affair) as the witching hour approached.
 
Sure enough, dead on 9 the lights dimmed and the band immediately took the stage to the strains of “Gunsmoke”, in front of an “Antmusic” backdrop and immensely high twin drum risers, pounding into the opening rhythm of strident opener “Dog Eat Dog”. Adam then emerged, resplendent in his pirate/ Hussar finery, a little trimmer than of late and “on it” from the outset, leading the charge through “Dog”’s Burundi drums and the excellent, subsequent “Antmusic”s’ irresistible soaring pop chorus. All eyes were on Adam from word one of his undulating, yelping vocals, and he responded with a performance fitting the occasion, strutting, preening and revelling in the adulation. I responded in kind, up on my feet and dancing from the get-go – surprisingly I was one of very few in the front stalls to do so!
 
An eerie, haunting “Ants Invasion” was a choppy, sinister delight, the onstage strobe-lighting adding to the itchy tension of the song. However the real gem of the “Kings” run-through was “Killer In The Home”. Whilst it became obvious why other “Kings” tracks had been omitted from Adam’s recent sets (“Magnificent Five” being a bit cluttered and the funky “Don’t Be Square, Be There” messy and throwaway, and side 2 of the album generally faring less well), it’s an utter mystery why he’d not been playing this track on this evidence, as “Killer” was breathtaking and brilliant, a study of understated malevolence, creepy and deliciously sinister. Wonderful stuff, almost – almost – matched by the subsequent “Kings Of The Wild Frontier”, Adam pouring heart and soul as ever into his “manifesto” song – he means it, maaan...
 
A final “The Human Beings” chant through Native American tribal names culminated in a thus-far taciturn Adam muttering, “they ARE the human beings – we are the savages...” at its’ conclusion, before lightening the mood with a promise to, “play some of my favourites”. A thunderous, pummelling “Beat My Guest” was next up, then a perfunctory-feeling “Stand And Deliver” (Adam speaking rather than singing the vocal line) at least got everyone on their feet – finally! Adam’s promise to, “keep it historically correct with some “B” sides,” was maintained with a snarling, venomous “Press Darlings” and a lusty “Christian D’Or”, and the ironic “Cartrouble” was introduced with Adam’s recollections of, “driving in my dad’s old Riley – the rockers on bikes taking the piss.” “Zerox” was, as ever, quite magnificent, the zenith of Adam’s proto-art punk era and possibly his best song ever, the staccato guitar pattern building throughout to a huge crescendo, smashing around the auditorium. “After all that, you want a slow one – I don’t do slow ones!” he quipped, before the rambunctious “Lady” (“about something that happened in 1977 in Notting Hill – every word is true!”) segued into a rampaging “Fall-In”. A singalong “Prince Charming”, Adam leading the audience in the acapella hook repeatedly, brought an astounding set to a close, to a roaring ovation.
 
A 3 song encore followed, bookended with the proto-grunge workout of “Red Scab” and culminating in a speeded-up “Physical”, Adam eschewing the usual full-band bow tonight, instead dropping the mic and exiting stage right, leaving us all wanting even more, after a near-2 hour performance which simply flew by. Magnificent stuff.
 
I’d hauled my sweaty ass down the front for the final “Physical” so grabbed a list from a friendly roadie, then we bade farewells to Alison and Rob before hitting the road for a careful drive home. The brightest star of those early 80’s times underlined his star quality once again, with a performance befitting his legacy, the energy and vitality of a man half his age. Consistently the greatest performer I’ve seen over the last 5 years, and a fitting way to round off my “Month Of Legends”. Adam Ant, you, sir, are a true Legend!

Thursday, 19 May 2016

989 BRIAN WILSON PRESENTS “PET SOUNDS”, Cardiff St. David’s Hall, Wednesday 18th May 2016





My fancifully-named “Month Of Legends” continues, with a massive name; and my attendance at this one is actually really down to David Bowie. After he’d released “Blackstar” at the start of this year, his second album in 3 years after a decade-long hiatus, I was convinced the next step would be a Summer Bowie tour. Little did I know that “Blackstar” was to prove his epitaph, and days later he was gone... This to me underlined the necessity (if such delineation was really needed) to seize the day and take advantage of our stars, our icons, while we still have them; so when I (belatedly) heard that 60’s legend Brian Wilson had announced a (possibly final) tour to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Beach Boy’s seminal work, “Pet Sounds”, I moved quickly, securing a balcony ticket in Cardiff before they (allegedly) sold out, tix for the Bristol date having long since gone. 1966’s “Pet Sounds” was, and remains, a vital cornerstone in the pantheon of modern music, an envelope-pushing, iconic album whose influence cannot be overstated or adequately quantified, resonating down the years in the works of anyone – literally, anyone – who rejoices in melody, harmony and sonic experimentation. Nuff said.
 
So an unexpectedly sunny Wednesday afternoon saw me head off early, jump into the “traffic event horizon” (thanks, Dave Franklin...) that is the static M4 around Newport, but make good time thereafter, parking up on the North Road car park into the city centre (free after 6! Yay!) and taking a convivial wander in under a leafy canopy. Whiled away some time tracking down Spillers Records’ new location, then circumnavigated the maze of escalators and staircases that comprise the St. David’s Hall atrium. I’m up in the gods on Level 5, me... Took a seat on the way up and surveyed my fellow gig-goers – not yer usual crowd tonight; these were mainly older couples dolled up to the nines for an “event” night out; at 50 I felt positively youthful!
 
Eventually took my seat in the auditorium, a lofty extreme right seat overlooking the almost orchestral set-up onstage. Banks of keyboards and an extensive percussive section. A whole lot of people onstage tonight, I thought, and such was the case, as the black-clad monolith that is Brian Wilson led an 11-piece band onstage to a rapturous reception, taking his seat behind a similarly ebony-coloured piano. “We love this city and this crowd; you’re very receptive to Americans!” he announced in his halting, slightly slurred voice, before informing us of the running order; “some Beach Boys songs, then we’ll come back out and do the “Pet Sounds” album...”
 
So the “first act” therefore consisted of a scattergun run through of early Beach Boys material, ranging from the rather gorgeous harmonic vocal interplay of a widescreen, opening “Heroes And Villains”, through the unmistakeable rhythmic keyboard refrain of the sunkissed “California Girls”, to the chugging old school rock’n’roll of “I Get Around”, via the dappled lightshow of a lovely “In My Room”, the highlight of this first set. Wilson’s vocals actually held up pretty well at this point, and he seemed in finer fettle than my only previous encounter, on the “Smile” tour back in 2004; however there were occasions that he sounded like he is; a 70-something man in fragile health, with a history of mental health and drug addiction issues, a man who, frankly, we’re still lucky to have with us. However for me this was entirely understandable and to be expected, and let’s face it, he’s Brian fucking Wilson, right? He’s got absolutely nothing to prove to me, or anyone else! Also, on these odd occasions that the voice faltered, his splendid virtuoso band were able to mask this with a tumbling tide of vocal harmonies, or, in the case of superb falsetto backing vocalist Matt Jardine (possibly my MVP of the performance), seamlessly pick up the lead vocal line for the higher octaves. Matt’s dad, the flaxen-haired original Beach Boy Al, also took lead vocals for the early surfer boy classics, giving Brian a rest and still sounding surprisingly youthful himself, despite being of similar vintage to his bandleader (73 years old, the pair of ‘em...). Occasional Beach Boy and Rolling Stone touring band member Blondie Chapman, a wiry, strutting figure, also took lead vocals on a couple of funkier, Motown-tinged numbers to end this opening set; they didn’t really float my boat, but I knew the best was yet to come...
 
A short intermission (during which I wandered to the front of my balcony and made friends with the soundman below – more on that later...), then the band were back on for “Pet Sounds”, Matt Jardine taking the lead for “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” and propping Brian’s lead up noticeably on the lush, plangent “You Still Believe In Me”, before a lovely flute- and pounding drum-driven “Waiting For The Day”. Again, excellent lighting accompanied the quite brilliant “Sloop John B” – this time spinning broken discs embellishing each band member as Al Jardine sung this all-time classic. “That was the end of side one of “Pet Sounds”, and here’s side two,” announced Brian, and we knew what was coming next...
 
The unmistakeable and utterly magical keyboard and horn opening interplay introduced a reverentially-played and all-too-short “God Only Knows”, one of the greatest songs EVER written, the perpetual round harmony overlay of the outro in particular bringing a lump to the throat, and the longest cheer of the night at its’ conclusion, prompting Brian to remark, “I knew you’d like that one!” Inevitably, the set thereafter seemed anticlimactic, although the poignant “I Wasn’t Made For These Times”, Brian manfully ploughing through the lead vocal with Matt again propping him up, and the discordant, haunting riffery of the instrumental “Pet Sounds” were highlights. As the elegiac “Caroline No” brought the set to a close, Brian shuffled offstage, helped by a minder/ roadie as the taped background train noise rumbled on...
 
For encores, flautist Paul Mertens introduced the band back onstage for the inevitable and rather wonderful “Good Vibrations”, which for me should have ended the evening there and then, a medley of further surfer boy classics punctuated by “Fun Fun Fun” seeming unnecessary. To bring the evening to a close, Brian chose the more recent (if you can call 1988 “recent”) ballad “Love And Mercy”, saving up a good vocal performance for this, clearly a meaningful song for him. The entire band took a bow thereafter, following a 2 hour + onstage performance that although a little over-populated, never disappointed, and occasionally stroked the hem of genius. That wasn’t it, though...
 
I wandered back down to the front of the balcony, being handed a set-list by my friend the soundman; then managed to stop Al Jardine on his way offstage and get him to sign my list. At least, partially... my pen ran out partway through, Jardine handing the list back up to me with the instruction, “go over it yourself!” I also bothered son Matt for a quick word and signature, remarking, “what a wonderful show!” Because it was. A quick walk back to the car and journey home saw me back by 20 past 12, reflecting on a gig finally worth my “Month Of Legends” epithet. Thank you Brian, thanks Matt and Al... and thank you David. If only you were still here too...

Monday, 16 May 2016

988 CLOSE LOBSTERS, Lemonhaze, London Oxford Street 100 Club, Saturday 14th May 2016

This should have been an utter triumph. The first time in over 25 years of seeing Close Lobsters, the class act of the mid 80’s “C86” DIY home-made jangly pop movement; a band who injected their own brand of deliciously cynical menace into the genre; a band who subsequently produced an utterly majestic album in 1987’s “Foxheads Stalk This Land” (which for me remains one of my top ten albums of ALL TIME); indeed, a band who would have been absolute topliners in any given musical age or movement. A couple of sightings back in the day were imbued with magnificent drunken chaos, so I’d been looking for the opportunity to see them again since their 2012 reunion, even at one point considering a trip up to their native Scotland (!). So this one, to my knowledge their first foray “down South” since said reunion, was an absolute must, and I booked myself a ticket as soon as I found out about the show – back in August 2015, 9 months previously!
 
I wasn’t the only one this enthusiastic, either; old friend Paul Crowfoot, on hearing about this one, arranged some work time at his company’s European offices, and flew over from Seattle (ostensibly) for the gig! So it was that I picked him up from his ‘rents place mid-afternoon, and we took a sun-drenched drive up to Heathrow, dumping his stuff in his hotel for his flight back to Toulouse tomorrow and killing time with some plane spotting. his window overlooking the main landing runway! We eventually dragged ourselves away from the planes, driving in to The Bush as usual, parking up a bit further away from the usual spot, tubing in and hitting the venue at 7.30, just as it opened up (thereby being 2nd and 3rd through the door!). We took some seats stage right for some entertaining and animated catch-up chat which quickly whiled away the time before Glaswegian support Lemonhaze joined us at 8.45, to a muted response from the crowd, which elicited the dismissive response from the vocalist, “that was pish!” Nonetheless, they played an eminently passable set of gloomy, post-punk influenced moody rock, with 2nd number in, “Feel”, an intriguing tumbling drum-led epic embellished by some chiming, Editors-like guitar, and the subsequent one an angular, morose mood-piece which appropriated the riff from Television’s “Marquee Moon”, displaying some good taste in plagiarism if nothing else! The preening, midriff-baring vocalist clearly holds himself in high regard, and tried some inappropriate stadium-rock style audience call-and-response, but put in a good shift with some energetic dancing and has a decent resonant voice for this type of material. Seen much worse…
 
Took a wander down the front and pitched up stage left as the stylishly black-clad Johnny Cash wannabee (!) Lobster guitarists came on to tune up, sticking an “Under London Skies” legend over the bass drum’s “Lemonhaze” logo in the process. Eventually, they signalled their readiness, the black jacketed- and sunglassed up Lobster mainman Andrew Burnett taking the stage last for their set at 9.45. After a short instrumental bedding-in number, the choppy, chuntering jangle of “Loopholes” kicked in, the years falling away immediately, the band sounding thrillingly tight and taut. Then an early “I Kiss The Flower In Bloom”, (“inspired by the Birthday Party!” according to Burnett) possibly my most enduring favourite track from that classic “Foxheads” album, was magnificent, an object lesson in wallowing melancholy with that monotone yet absorbing hook. If only things had stayed at that level…
 
The band remained “on it” throughout, the bass and drums utterly rock-solid, and the twin guitar interplay magnificent, adding depth and gravitas to the Rickenbacker chimes, which jangled more than the pocketful of change sported by my gig buddy (and rather amusingly spat out earlier by the tube ticket machine!). However, the subsequent new number “Wander” (a 3 parter “inspired by [Lou Reed’s] “Street Hassle – we can aspire to those heights”) was understated, and featured some particularly off-key extra guitar work from Burnett, prompting his fellow guitarist to ask him to disregard said instrument for the subsequent double of “NYC” and “Under London Skies”. Worse though, Burnett’s vocals, a deliciously detached and entirely appropriate nasal sneer on record, were similarly veering off-key, often into an annoying karaoke bellow, sadly bringing to mind Ian Brown’s ham-fisted vocal performance with the Stone Roses at Reading 1995. And even worse still, Burnett himself seemed occasionally disinterested, as if going through the motions for this London crowd. As per Lush last weekend, for me it’s not just enough to “be” there… you have to BE there. Really mean it, maaaan…
 
“Let’s Make Some Plans” (which was apparently played on BBC’s “Homes Under The Hammer” last week, Burnett remarking, “and now [the programme has] been axed – the Close Lobsters kiss of death, ladies and gentlemen!”), possibly their recorded high watermark, was disappointingly thin, the only number of the night where the band sound was lacking. However set finale “A Prophecy” roared back like a lion, the guitar fulsome and vibrant, with Burnett’s vocals settling down to a more apt roar. Then encore “Just Too Bloody Stupid” rounded off an uneven performance, and one which it honestly seemed the boys onstage were glad to bring to an end.
 
We left quickly and debated this all the way back to the car, and on the way to Paul’s hotel, before bidding my old friend farewell and heading wearily off home. I’m really uncomfortable even writing this, as I love this band – and that perfect debut album – so damn much, but I have to call it like I see it. The band were spot-on tonight, and it was great to at least hear a smattering of that classic material; it just felt as if they – and we – were let down by their leader. And it really should have been a triumph… maybe next time?

Sunday, 8 May 2016

987 LUSH, Spectres, London Camden The Roundhouse, Saturday 7th May 2016


“Lush are hot hot hot and they’re gonna be huge huge huge!” I wrote that back in the day (gig 160, March 1990!) when Lush’s crush collision between Cocteau-ish dreamscapes and wild off-kilter (Throwing) Muse-ic made them the brightest new star in the rock firmament. A band who, for me, never quite lived up to that initial heady rush of burgeoning promise, diverting from the superb, scathing “Scar” EP into wispier, more ethereal soundscapes (in the process being dubbed vanguard members of the “Shoegaze” movement), often at the expense of the tunes. A final album of irreverent “blazing pop tunes” (again, as I referred to them back in the day) saw them raise their profile in those Britpop mid-90’s, before the shocking suicide of drummer Chris Acland (a man whom I’d met at their earlier gigs, chatting about his beloved Spurs and finding him a level-headed, personable chap) brought the Lush story shuddering to a tragic and untimely close. Now (and perhaps spurred on – pardon the pun – by Ride’s similar successful return last year) another band scratching that reunion itch, it’ll be interesting to see which version of Lush will turn up tonight…
 
The initial Roundhouse reunion show sold out in double-quick time, but I sorted tix for the more favourable Saturday second night, heading off at 5 for a stuffy drive up to London on the hottest day of the year. A crap journey – hold-ups on the M4 due to an overturned car – saw me eventually hit the Roundhouse dead on 8, just as support Spectres were taking the stage. A harsh, visceral laze-rock sonic assault, this lot were obvious disciples of the likes of Mould, Mascis and even Killing Joke, in the art of guitar abuse for the purposes of making an unholy and cacophonous racket. Their 3rd number “Pushing On The Signs” was a hazy, druggy slow-burn wig-out in contrast to the faster-paced rest of the set, but the subsequent number was a careering dystopian hell-ride with an insistent repetitive hook (“I’ll never… forget it…”) and the best number in the set. The noise assault may be their primary focus, but scratch the surface and there’s melodic promise there. Their brutal final number featured tumbling drums and the vocalist/ guitarist using a bottle as a guitar pick!
 
Ran into gig buddy Andy Fenton and his mate Nigel Stone – they’d caught a train up earlier, hitting the World’s End pub early doors and were therefore suitably, erm, “well-refreshed”. Some lairy and entertaining rock chat (basically the boys persuading me to go to “Indietracks”!) passed the time quickly before the lights smashed to black and Lush took the smoke-swathed stage at 9.20. “Wow!” exclaimed Lush vocalist Miki Berenyi, “lovely to see everyone in such a good mood!” as the band eased into the chiming guitar opening of a lovely “De-Luxe”. This was followed by the pounding drums and shimmering guitar work of “Breeze”, the harmony evolving into a call-and-response vocal interplay, with guitarist Emma taking the harmony line. All going well at this point, with the ever-personable Miki in good fooling as well (admitting, “against my best intentions, I got absolutely hammered last night!” asking, “anyone here last night? [If so,] sorry about the same outfit,”, and remarking, “we’re hanging in Camden on a Saturday night – it’s like the last 20 years never happened! Actually, we’re so un-rock’n’roll right now – our guest list is full of school governors!”).
 
However, notwithstanding a resonant, echoey “Etherial”, embellished by Burundi-esque drumbeats, much of the set thereafter drifted by in a gossamer haze – a nice vibe, but insubstantial and short on tunes or even variation. Even the moody, off-kilter strumalong opening of oldie “Scarlet” was rendered very politely, far from the sinister, seething beast on record, and all too often it felt a bit “cruise and collect”. For me, it’s not enough to simply “be” back, you need to return whole-heartedly with intent to do full justice to your legacy, or even better, add a few extra chapters to it. It just felt this was happening less frequently tonight than I’d expected… or hoped.
 
“For Love”, dedicated to Chris (“remember [him] as the happy happy person he was”), showed signs of revival, although the well-intentioned newie “Out Of Control”, dedicated to victims of bullying, was pleasant but flimsy. Miki then announced, “have a little dance to this one,” to the flippant, Britpop-darling period “Ladykillers”, documenting a different type of Camden Saturday night, and giving the gig the shot in the arm I felt it needed. “Downer”, next up, was excellent – a lustrous, punkish careering thrash overlaid by gorgeous harmonies. Another lovely “Sweetness And Light” chimed out an overall uneven set, a couple of encores unnecessary bookends for me, but enabling Miki to gush thank you’s to all and sundry for this “celebration”.
 
Grabbed a set-list thanks to a friendly security bloke, then hung out (ultimately in vain) for my 2 drunken gig buddies before wearily crossing town, back to the car for midnight and home at a red-eyed 1.20. Reflecting on the performance, it was probably pretty much what I expected, with the (very) early material (particularly “Downer”, the highlight of the night) and later stuff (“Ladykillers”) shining albeit for different reasons, and the more textural shoegazey mid-period nice, but... It’s great that they’re back, don’t get me wrong, just don’t expect them to be hot hot hot and huge huge huge now...

Sunday, 1 May 2016

986 THE SHUDDERS, Fake Walnut Dash, Swindon The Locomotive, Friday 29th April 2016




Can we squeeze another April gig in? OK, why not, considering it’s Tim’s band of alt-Americana troubadours The Shudders, whom my friend Rich Craven rather accurately recently described as “The Violent Femmes of the West Country”. Albeit maybe with fewer backwoods murder ballads…! Anyway, another local one then, and quite a late one as well, given that Rach was swimming mid-evening, and in any case the musical festivities don’t kick off at bottom-of-town bar venue The Locomotive until 10 p.m., so no rush to head on out!

Early evening was spent watching “SHIELD” and the excellent “Daredevil” before Rach arrived home just after 10, just having enough time to question my sanity on my late departure as we passed, like ships in the night, at the front door! Parked up behind The Mail Coach and wandered in about 10.15 to find support Fake Walnut Dash already under way. Pleasant surprise No. 1 was that the gig was very amply attended, my attempts to maintain entertaining discourse with the likes of Tim, promoter Dave Franklin and Dean, being punctuated by a number of, “excuse me, pardon me,”s from punters squeezing past in this admittedly compact and bijou room. Pleasant surprise No. 2 was Fake Walnut Dash themselves; apparently their first ever gig, they played a funk-beat heavy, delta blues melange which evoked a New Orleans honky tonk bar band at times, a little schizophrenic sonically, but a band determined to have a good time and pass that same vibe on to the assemblage. Pleasant surprise No. 3 was that one of the dual vocalists (in matching “Shoop” t-shirts) was the esteemed Mr. Gaz Brookfield’s lady, Mr. Brookfield being in attendance himself to support her.

Unfortunately, it appeared that much of the crowd were likewise part of the opening band’s entourage, as once they finished, there suddenly seemed to be a chunk more room to move around, as The Shudders set up for their 11.00 start. Also, I was once again irritated by the proliferation of drunk people (mainly scantily-clad women, sadly) entering, exiting and entering again, jostling repeatedly and uncaringly past my stage-front spot in their lairy beer haze. Was I ever that vacuous in my cider-soaked youth? Actually, no, scratch that… I was probably worse...

So, a late one, with a thinned-out crowd, including a smattering of disinterested and lairy slappers swaying around, present to herald the band onstage. Hardly ideal circumstances for The Shudders, but they came out of the traps purposefully, noisily and stridently, kicking off with ramshackle, singalong oldie “Words Of A Fool”, and following that up with the intricate guitar and bouncy harmonic powerpop of “Sorry”. An early “Sunrise” was the one token slowie, the maudlin delicacy of this 70’s US West Coast vibe-drenched number the best sounding song of the set, but at odds with the rootsier, rockier rest of the performance. This wasn’t a time to fuck about with the ballads, as a subsequent, Replacements-style bar-room blues-riff powered “Thought I Saw You” attested to. Time instead to rock! Brand newie “Star Bright” (“hot off the presses – please don’t judge us if we don’t play this properly,” remarked Danny) had a delicious ascending riff and a stomping drum-propelled choral hook, and the boys even delved back in time to the fiddly diddly Irish jiggery-pokery of “Lost And Broke” and the groovier, raw-boned bluesy rock of “Yellow Flower Stare”. Final number, a strident, well-judged cover of Neil Young’s classic “Rocking In The Free World”, closed out an entirely apposite, perfect Friday night bottom of town bar rock set, the boys resisting calls for an encore. Job done, no need!

A few words with the boys, and also with Messrs Franklin and Brookfield afterwards, before the time bumped up to my parking expiry and I headed off with Dean in tow.  A tough one, this, but in trying circumstances The Shudders, for me, pulled off a minor triumph and should be pretty pleased with themselves for tonight’s work. Well done boys!