Hazel O’Connor – live in Oran Mor

Hazel O'Connor Mega Plus Tour
Hazel O’Connor – Mega Plus Tour
Hazel O’Connor – MEGA PLus tour, Oran mor

It was a Friday night after what could be described as a “challenging” week at work, in all honesty all I felt like doing was sitting on the sofa and drifting off to sleep in front of the TV.

But I had tickets to go and see Hazel O’Connor and had already missed a Waterboys gig I had tickets for last month so gave myself a shake and headed out.

The gig was in Oran Mor – a great venue that I hadn’t been to in ages (the last time was for Jason and the Scorchers 2, maybe 3 years ago.) The only problem in the West End is parking…..everywhere is residents only. Eventually we got parked up, after taking an aeon to pay for the meter on my phone – issues with Scottish voice recognition I think (cue references to ”eleven” lift sketch…) and headed into the venue.

As I say, great place but £6.10 for 2 soft drinks – what the hell is that all about?

These are Decadent Days…

Anyway, as soon as Hazel O’Connor hit the stage I was delighted I’d made the effort to come out. Opening with an energetic run-through of one of my favourite O’Connor tracks “D-Days” she set the tone for the evening.

Hazel was joined by brother Neil (ex of The Flys of “Love and a Molotov Cocktail” fame – unfortunately we didn’t get that tonight) on guitar and long term collaborators Claire on Sax (an ex Belle Star) and Sarah on keyboards (ex Eurythmic) and a tight rhythm section completing the lineup.

The night was billed as the “Mega Plus” tour featuring songs from her first 3 albums – Breaking Glass, Sons & Lovers and Cover Plus. With that myriad of tunes to pick from, it was bound to be a good night.

And so it played out – a nigh on 2 hour and 23 song set, with all the hits and highlights from the 3 albums. A dazzling night’s entertainment.

Hazel O'Connor live

Will You?

It’s hard to pick my own highlights from the set but “Will You?” complete with closing sax solo was pretty special.

However, I could go on – the powerful ska of “Blackman”, the protest of “Who Calls the Tune” (written about the controversial death of teacher Blair Peach during anti-racism demonstrations). “If Only”, “Monsters in Disguise”. The searing commentary on she who will not be named who ran the country at the time of writing the song (but equally as valid today with the idiots in power in the UK and USA – “old pumpkin face”), “Big Brother”, “Writing on the Wall”, “The Zoo”, “Come into the Air”, you get the picture…

As well as the cover in the encore, Hazel also treated us to her versions of Nina Simone’s “Do What you Gotta Do” (the first single she ever bought) and The Stranglers “Hanging Around” – which prompted a reminder of their hanging around outside in the cold waiting to play this as an encore when she played in support of Hugh Cornwell.

Hazel live

the Hits and more

As well as this recollection, throughout the evening Ms. O’Connor regaled us with more tales of her experiences over the years.

Some were humorous – from escaping some over-zealous fans in her home town in a 3 wheeler Reliant Robin – her mum only had a motorbike license to her inadvertent flashing during a standing ovation for “Breaking Glass” at Cannes.

Others were poignant – introducing “I Will Give You My Sunshine” written for her mother as a gift when she was in cancer hospice care.

Unfortunately, all good things have to come to an end and so to set closer her “non-plastic paddy” version of “Danny Boy”. This segued into the triumphant “Eighth Day” before the band left the stage to rapturous applause before returning for her take on Snow Patrol’s “Chasing Cars”.

Hazel O'Connor

Post-gig Hazel appeared for a signing/photo call. It was as if the last 30 odd years hadn’t happened as the clamour and fervour from the (mainly over 40’s) crowd to see her at the end must have felt to her like the story she told of trying to escape enthusiastic fans back in the day!

All told a tremendous gig and due to venue curfews, all over by ten pm. Harking back to my shattered state before the gig, I was back home and falling asleep on the sofa by 10.30. I must be getting old….

Kiss This Tarbeach NYC in Glasgow – Review

I’m not long back from attending “Kiss This” in Broadcast and a huge thanks needs to go out to all involved. What a brilliant night.

I had been looking forward to seeing the 3 bands together for a while and none of them disappointed.

The warnings were out in advance all over social media – the gig was a sell-out, returns only and the first band would be on PROMPT at 8pm as it was an early curfew.

Sure enough, and true to the word, as I arrived at the venue with my mate, there was a queue of people waiting to pick up their tickets and the first band were already on.

The order of the bands hadn’t been advertised to ensure maximum attendance from the start and as we got downstairs, the venue was packed for the first band, who happened to be ReAction.

REACTION

Big Carson had to be careful he didn’t brain himself on the low beam right in the middle of the stage. As always the band played a flawless blinder of a set with all the ReAction favourites. They slipped in a few cracking new tracks too – “Kill Time”, “Been There Done That” – written by Scott, and “Kamikaze Baby” – destined to be one of my new favourite ReAction songs.

The early curfew meant trying to get through as many songs as possible in the allotted time – at one point Joe mentioned they still had 5 songs to play in 6 minutes. This also meant a choice on whether to play External Menace’s “Someday” or “I Wanna Be Your Dee Dee Ramone”. An impossible choice given how great both tracks are. The audience choice was “Someday”, much to Bryson’s dismay – “that’s right pick the fast one and kill the drummer!” Storming set.

It was pretty warm from the start but by the time ReAction had finished it was a sweat box. Quick opportunity to get a diet coke(!) a quick chat with Jonzip and a hello to a few folk I finally managed to meet in real life rather than in the virtual world then it was the turn of Heavy Drapes.

Heavy drapes

There were plenty of MoNkArOcKs t-shirts on display in the venue. New bass player, ex Scars guitarist, Paul Research was also resplendent in a MoNkA creation with “Heavy Bass” on it like a statement of intent. And he followed through – awesome first gig with the band.

The searing set contained all the crowd pleasers – all the Heavy Drapes staples. “Number 1”, “Into the Blue”, “Nightrippin'”, and of course, my personal favourite “(I Wanna Be) Maladjusted”. “Guest backing vocals” on “Hanging Like a Suicide” were provided by Charlie from Dublin, who was one of several folk tonight who had travelled some distances for the gig.

I’ve seen the band several times over the last year but I thought tonight they were outstanding. My mate had last seen them on this very date last year. His comment that the band had come a long way since then spoke volumes about what has happened in the last 12 months. Looking forward to the album…(and the French EP!)

THE ZIPS

Another quick turnaround and then it was the turn of the Zips to end the evenings proceedings. Kicking off with topical track “Hear Hear” – “our country, at war, with itself, and its people, this dis-united kingdom“.  The set included songs from throughout the bands back catalogue.

Every track went down a storm with a melee of bodies, singing away with huge grins, slamming into each other at the front. I wondered if we’d all be there in another 10 years singing along to “50 Years of PuNk RoCk”!

The band included an old track played live for the first time “Take Me Down” which can be purchased soon on new Gary Crowley punk/new wave box set.  Jonzip started to thank everyone who had travelled to be at the gig only to be reminded that “we’ve only got 30 minutes….”. The set ended with classic “Don’t Get Pushed Around” which was enthusiastically received – included a microphone takeover/stage invasion by several enthusiastic gig goers.

And there we have it 3 blistering sets by 3 of Scotland……….nay, the UKs finest proponents of this thing they call “punk rock”. As I walked up the stairs I realised I had been enjoying the bands so much I had no photographs of said bands to add to this post! So photos are courtesy of Chris Davis and John McLaughlin.

Can’t wait until they do it again! Just one thing though. PLEASE, next time, don’t make it on my wedding anniversary – Ha Ha.

 

Cud

Cud live in Glasgow! At long last, I’ve waited a long time for this one.

Judging by some of the folk I met tonight, I’m not the only one!

As folk started to take up their positions stage front, I got talking to a couple of other lone gig goers. Both were from Cud’s neck of the woods originally, Wakefield and Leeds to be precise. Like me they had both waited a long time for this. For Kirsty it was 26 years since she saw them last and for Mark it was going to be the first time he’d seen them. Boy was he in for a treat, well we all were!

It had been 1990 & ’91 since I’d seen Cud live. 1990 was in King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut. 1991 was, coincidentally, having seen them only last week, at a Pixies gig. The fateful SECC gig which only lasted 3 songs before the stage collapsed. Cud had been great though (of course!)

Before Cud, it was local band Miss the Occupier. A band I haven’t come across before but have been around since 2004. Led by bass player/vocalist Roz Baynham, the band went down well with those arriving early. I found myself enjoying the set more and more as it went on. Some great songs that varied from alternative-pop (Blondie/Sleeperesque) through to punkier tunes with one song in particular having a heavy bass line reminiscent of “A Forest” era Cure. I shall be checking out their back catalogue.

Then it was Cud, and the Glasgow leg of their “Singles Tour”. Given the name of the tour, it was pretty much a given what the set list would be, so the anticipation was building for a great night.

The band took to the stage with Carl Puttnam resplendent in a peacock shirt, dark glasses, hair shorn at the sides and moustache and kicked off proceedings with 1988 single “Under My Hat”.

The band with original members Mike Dunphy and William Potter on guitars and bass and Gogs Byrn, drummer since 2012, were solid throughout (with a couple of minor false starts) forming the perfect foil for Carl’s rich and vibrant vocals.

As I said, for a singles tour it was obviously highlight after highlight. Hey! Wire, One Giant Love (specifically for me as it featured on the playlist at my wedding!) Slack Time – one of my favourite Cud songs. Magic was, well,  Magic and reminded me of nights in clubs like Fury Murrys pestering the DJs to play it. I mostly got told to f**k off, no-one would dance to it, to which my refrain was always “But I would!”

At one point Carl announced (tongue firmly in cheek) that Sauchiehall Street was his favourite street in Glasgow, perhaps even the world. Going on to have some banter with one punter who claimed to be the “Mrs McLay” who had been the landlady at a B&B the band had stayed in years ago. Cue much laughter when said punter responded that Carl was barred!

The “hits” kept coming with another of my personal favourites (and judging by the reaction for most of the crowd too). From amazing “concept” album “When in Rome, Kill Me” (check it out non-Cud believers), Only (a Prawn in Whitby) with everyone in the venue singing the refrain.

Exclusive! Apparently, the band will be going into the studio in the next couple of weeks. So Carl was keen to share! And that the next time they played they would have a new single to play. Don’t worry Carl – your secret is safe with me.

Rich & Strange, the bands biggest chart hit (Number 24 with a bullet!) followed the singalong of Through the Roof. Well, lets face it, every song was a singalong tonight. Interesting fact time from Carl! He sings the refrain “Rich and Strange” 34 times during the song. He then started to do the maths about how many times he’d ever sung it. The answer …….. I’m too old for this, infinity times. Oh and by the way the answer to the burning question from one member of the crowd who shall remain nameless. “Well are you?”(Rich and Strange). Carl – “Not even in the least”

After Carl took us high in his Purple Love Balloon, the main set was done, but of course we all knew it wasn’t over. They hadn’t played all their singles yet….

The band returned to play a rousing Robinson Crusoe and were joined onstage by an enthusiastic punter who I can only describe as a “Cud Bez”. Then into their final 2 songs. The storming covers of Lola (replacing cherry cola with local delicacy red kola) and Hot Chocolate’s You Sexy Thing. Amazing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

But, just as we thought it was all over the band launched into one final treat. The brilliant “I’ve had it with Blondes”, with witty opening couplet “I was a teenage stamp collector, I’d lay on my back and you’d stamp on my face”. It had everyone bouncing one last time and singing every word back.

One other couplet in the song states “Let me say it one more time, Things get worse when you get old”. From one happy old man tonight I would have to say not on tonight’s evidence they don’t!

Carl left the stage promising they’d be back. I hope I’m not waiting another 26 years but for tonight at least, it was well worth the wait.

Thank you Cud!

Dead Hope – Songs from the Second Floor – Album and gig

DEAD HOPE
LIVE AT THE OLD HAIRDRESSERS

I ticked 2 new boxes last week.

I went to the Old Hairdressers for a gig for the first time (tick 1). That gig was by Dead Hope who were launching their debut album “Songs from the Second Floor” (tick 2).

I’d be promising Keith that I would go to see them every time they’ve played a gig. Unfortunately I had missed every one to date. Due to a prior engagement, I wasn’t sure if I’d make this one either. In the end, I got there in time to see the last few songs by support band, Curdle.

Curdle

As I arrived the band were just finishing “Love Butt”. A song about loving Dave Gahan but thinking he’s a bit of a dick. With Sid Vicious (the My Way scene from The Great Rock ‘n Roll Swindle) being projected behind the band, it was a good start to the evening’s entertainment.

I hadn’t heard Curdle but on the basis of the few songs I saw/heard, I’ve added them to my list of bands to investigate further. They are a 4 piece all female band, with a slightly goth look.

Their sound resembles the likes of Babes in Toyland, Hole and Pink Kross. Songs like “Give me Yr Phone Number” and “Your Body, My Head”, with its beautiful vocal melodies over fuzzy guitars and sparse drums followed. Their final song (with theremin for added eeriness) sealed the deal for me making a mental note to catch them live again.

For anyone who is at a loose end and looking for a gig to go to, they are playing the 13th Note on Saturday 19th. The gig also features with Strega Pez, Anna Secret Poet, Bratakus and MISC.MEAT.

There was no between band pint for me as I had the car. I took the opportunity just to enjoy some of the between band music including PiL and Fire Engines. A good soundtrack to enjoy before the headliners.

Dead Hope

As the band took to the stage Keith kept the Sid theme going with his Sid n Nancy t-shirt. Behind the band the movie “Gummo” was projected on the wall. A dystopian film following a group of nihilistic youths trying to fill their seemingly meaningless lives in a town devastated by a tornado. It made me reflect on where the link was with Dead Hope. (The band have used images from the movie on previous gig posters and videos). Perhaps the use of film is a reflection on the band’s name?

The band consists of Scott McCluskey on vocals and guitar, Andy Crone on bass and Keith Martin on drums/percussion. They are “influenced by Crass, Raymond Carver and Orson Welles”

For a 3 piece they create a great noise. Andy & Keith are a tight unit and play a powerful, melodic rhythm. This is overlaid by Scott with an array of aggressive, angular, distorted and fuzzy guitars, helped by a selection of fx pedals. His vocals are both at times melodic and aggressive sometimes within the same songs (Hate Both Sides). I knew a couple of the songs from tunes the band had released. Specifically Truth Be Told & Swordz, but the whole gig made me feel that I had known the band and songs forever. I found I was sucked in and lost in the music at times.

They have a timeless sound easily standing side by side with classic Sonic Youth  and The Fall. Albeit with a more tuneful singer! At times they  reminded me of gigs I went to in the 90’s by the likes of Glasgow band Urusei Yatsura and their ilk.

In all, a thoroughly enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours. I left the sweatbox that The Old Hairdressers had become, with a copy of their album “Songs from the Second Floor” in my sticky mitt. As I walked to the car I hoped that I would have an opportunity to repeat the experience in the not too distant future.

Dead Hope
“Songs from the Second Floor” album

I jumped into the car after the gig and popped the album straight onto the CD player. Where I should add it has been a permanent fixture since.

Much like the bands varied musical, film and literary influences mentioned above, the album title also has a cultural reference. This time to Swedish movie of the same name. A surreal series of unrelated bleak tales which point to the often futility and at times horror of modern life. On a lighter note, it also references the bands rehearsal space which is on the second floor.

The album art features a stark black and white image from acclaimed photographer Ed Kashi. It depicts a crowd of youths jumping over a pile of burning junk on wasteground.

This is a band that has clearly thought about what it wants to say. Not only in terms of the music but in the imagery it uses to link to the music. “The devil is in the detail” (Pigs)

It is hard for me to pick out highlights. The album delivers from start to finish and has plenty of great tunes, hooks and lyrics throughout.

From the opener Pigs kicking off with its driving bass and featuring the first line  “Would it be alright, to burn you all alive”. All the way through to energetic closer Swordz I was drawn in. As that song closed, I pressed play again to start from the beginning.

The album never disappointed me. After Pigs comes Thieves and Vultures with its choppy guitar line and vocals delivered in almost staccato style. Truth Be Told, the most familiar track on the album for me, is a stand out. Not only on the album, but also stands head and shoulders above many other releases by established bands over the past few years. I particularly like the line “the pointless conversation became my inspiration for everything”. This speaks to me of not accepting the norm and doing something about it.

Freaks, where Scott spits out the lyrics with vitriol and I really believe him. Hate Both Sides which starts off melodic but the refrain is delivered with fury. By the time Name the Saints comes round, I’m disappointed that there are only 2 tracks left on the album.

Album closer Swordz includes the lines “So this is it, this is your final test” and “there’s no point to prove”.

In my humble opinion, Dead Hope have proved their point. They have passed the test with flying colours. “Hope” is certainly not “Dead” for this band. I hope to hear much more from them in the future.

That’s my opinion. Its time for you to make up your own mind. Have a listen to Truth Be Told and see what you think yourselves (link in the sidebar). I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Then buy the album!

It is now available to buy physically and digitally from Bandcamp.com . I’ve shared links to this and the band’s facebook page.

Pixies triumphant return to Glasgow

Pixies Live in Glasgow

Its Monday, what is the best remedy for a weekend dominated by back to school shopping and reading about how great Rebellion Festival was by all and sundry on Facebook? (Note to self: get to Rebellion soon…..). Well, for this Monday it was going to see Pixies as part of Magner’s Summer Nights at Kelvingrove Bandstand.

I’d been looking forward to seeing them for ages, especially after missing out in December when they played Barrowland. It would be the first time I’d seen them since Paz Lenchantin joined the band following Kim Deal’s departure. I was slightly worried about what songs which heavily featured Kim would be like, but was looking forward to the gig immensely.

Fortunately, the rain from earlier in the day had gone off and as I arrived at Kelvingrove, the sun was splitting the sky. That was a good omen. The next good omen was the pre-gig playlist. As I arrived at the venue, the first track I heard was the “Colourbox Official World Cup Theme”. This is a favourite of mine from years ago. It took me back to indie discos from the 80s/90s. The tunes continued to come in the same vein – Bunnymen, R.E.M., Sugar, Dinosaur Jr, Sonic Youth.

pixies live memories

This also led to a bit of reminiscing about Pixies gigs gone by – remembering highlights like the gig in Barrowland when the lights came up and exit music started signalling the end of the gig. Many people had started to leave, only for the band to return and launch into a blistering version of “Wave of Mutilation”.

It also raised some not so great memories – Pixies last tour before they split (first time round) at the SECC. That gig had a great support line up, including Cud and Teenage Fanclub. All had been great, Pixies hit the stage, then 3 songs in, the stage collapsed and ended the gig. It wasn’t rescheduled as they split after the tour.

However, one of my fellow gig-goers reminded me that on their first SECC gig after reforming, they returned for second encore. They announced it was for all the oldies/mums and dads at the back who had been at the previous fated SECC gig and proceeded to play a set of songs intended for that gig.

Fews

Back to tonight’s gig and first up was Fews, who were a new one on me. I wasn’t expecting much when I saw the man-bun on one of the guitarists, and the lead singer strapped on his guitar like Nick Heyward.

I was pleasantly surprised though and quite enjoyed their set. Nothing ground breaking. Shades of Ride at some points and bass lines that made me think of The Cure/Joy Division (don’t get excited it was only for a second).

There were a couple of good tracks.  The band did put everything into their performance. (Evidenced by the state of the singers shirt after their short set.) They received a mixed reception from the people around me who were perhaps impatient for Pixies?

Pixies

As per the great organisation I’ve come to expect the events at the Bandstand, Pixies took to the stage at almost dead on 9pm. They launched into “Gouge Away”, followed in quick succession by “Wave of Mutilation”, their well-received cover of East Kilbride’s favourite sons, Jesus and Mary Chain’s “Head On”, “Rock Music” and “Isla De Encanta”.

That was the tone set for the rest of the gig, tune after tune with no irritating gaps or inane between song banter. Just start tune, play tune, finish tune, and launch into next tune.

The 30 song career spanning set was full of crowd pleasers drawn from across their whole back catalogue. While they played for a solid 90 minutes finishing at 10.30 due to curfews, they could have played for another 90 minutes with some of the tracks they didn’t manage to fit in. Tame (which one punter shouted for in Black Francis style on several occasions!), Gigantic, Debaser, I Bleed and the like. That isn’t a criticism as the set was fantastic and newer songs sat perfectly beside older classics from Come on Pilgrim, Surfer Rosa & Doolittle.

Every track was well received by the partisan crowd with especially loud cheers reserved for the likes of “Monkey Gone to Heaven”.

The lighting was impressive throughout the gig too, with vivid red lights for “the devil is 6” lines in “Monkey”. Nimrod’s Son was another that was particularly well received with thousands singing/shouting the infamous lines – “you are the son of a mother****er” and “you are the son of incestuous union”!

Everyone in the band got their moment and chance to shine, drummer David Lovering taking vocal duties on the Doolittle track “La La Love You”. Joey Santiago taking the applause and shredding his guitar and playing it with his cap during “Vamos”.

Of course Black Francis shone all the way through, swapping to acoustic guitar for the last section of the the set. This didn’t mean any less intensity (with Joey still on lead), but when he launched into “All the Saints” from Head Carrier, the sun had gone down, the full moon was glowing through the trees behind the stage, and the surrounding trees were lit up different colours, which gave quite a poignant atmosphere for the lyrics of the song.

This was followed up with another crowd pleaser, “Here Comes Your Man” before the aforementioned “La La Love You”. Then the closing trio of “Nimrod’s Son”, the classic “Where is My Mind?” and “Vamos”.

Encore

The band took their bows, and the applause of the appreciative punters before the dry ice started pumping from the stage and they launched into their final song for the night “Into the White”. Any doubts I had that Paz would be able to cut it dissipated as she took on Kim’s role like a boss which contributed to a storming set closer.

Not a bad way to start the week. As I walked away from the gig with a huge smile on my face, I felt a pang of jealousy for anyone that was going to the second sold out show on Tuesday.

Set List
  1. Gouge Away
  2. Wave of Mutilation
  3. Head On
  4. Rock Music
  5. Isla De Encanta
  6. U-Mass
  7. Caribou
  8. Tenement Song
  9. Cactus
  10. Magdalena
  11. No. 13 Baby
  12. All I Think About Now
  13. Classic Masher
  14. Monkey Gone to Heaven
  15. Um Chagga Lagga
  16. I’ve Been Tired
  17. Bel Esprit
  18. Bone Machine
  19. Subbacultcha
  20. Hey
  21. Mr Grieves
  22. Dead
  23. Ana
  24. All the Saints
  25. Here Comes Your Man
  26. La La Love You
  27. Nimrod’s Son
  28. Where is My Mind?
  29. Vamos
  30. Into the White (Encore)

Open in Spotify