ANDY FAIRWEATHER LOW & THE LOW RIDERS

Nell's Jazz & Blues
Kensington, London
Saturday 25th March 2017

Although we were about 10th in the queue to get into this "unreserved admission" gig, we were a little disappointed, once we got inside, to see about half of the seats in the venue as "reserved"!!!
Nonetheless, we managed to bag a table near the bar with a half decent view of the stage. It was clear that the majority of the audience found this "reserved" seating a tad frustrating and before long, began to take chairs stacked up at the side of the stage and put them out on the dance floor area in front of the stage.
One "reserved" table with a great review of the stage remained maddeningly empty for the first half of the show... apparently reserved for Jools Holand who didn't bother turning up! By the second half, another frustrated member of the audience commandeered it!

But on to the show.....

Andy Fairweather Low, a member of 60's band Amen Corner and a chart success as a solo artist with "Wide Eyed & Legless" gave us a great show. In between songs, we realised that he is a very witty man and does not take himself too seriously. His banter made us all laugh out loud.

Backed by the Low Riders playing  keyboards, drums, bass, 2 saxophones and a trumpet, it was a full band set. The brass really gave that bluesy/big band feel and sounded great.


Andy himself was on fine form both vocally and with plugging his CDs. We were quite pleased that the gig was not a "Best Of" and he kept the Amen Corner songs he is more associated with until towards the end of the gig, and focused more on his more recent work.


You don't get someone with Andy's wealth of experience put on anything less than a great performance. The lovely thing about this show was the wide range of styles the band played. We had everything from blues, jazz, skiffle, soul, and of course pop. All played brilliantly.

Definitely a band we'll go back to see in the future.


ME FIRST & THE GIMMEE GIMMEES

O2 Shepherds Bush
London
Saturday 25th February 2017

There were 2 acts on the bill before Me First & The Gimmee Gimmees graced the stage. The first was a punk rock band where the guitarist/vocalist infuriated us by changing his guitar after EVERY song. Afterwards we were told it was due to the fact the guitar had to be tuned differently for every song. Funny that, we thought - each song sounded EXACTLY the same and by the way, the lead guitarist didn't have to detune his guitar!!

Masked Intruder
Next up was a crowd pleasing band, Masked Intruder with a guy dressed as a camp US police officer, who constantly harangued the audience as part of his act, until finally ripping off his uniform to be left with not much more than a Borat swimsuit.

Watching from the balcony, it made us appreciate not being down on the floor. It was absolute mayhem, and felt as if things could kick off at any second.


Thankfully is was a bit different when Me First and the Gimme Gimmes came on. Opening with Gershwin's "Summertime", things went from strength to strength for the rest of the night. If you don't know the band, they do punked up versions of famous songs, making them all their own. A great fun band into the bargain.

We had songs as diverse as "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard", "Sloop John B", "Mandy" and "Crazy For You". Endless fun all night. The set finished with a song you don't hear many people doing, Mike Nesmith's "Different Drum".

For the encore we had a German version of Bowie's "Heroes", " a crowd singalong "All My Loving", "I Will Survive", "Jolene" and finally, one of their very best, a blistering version of Boyz II Men's "End Of The Road".

These guys make for such a fantastic night out, not just for the music, but they really are very funny too. Not the sort of gig we would want to ever miss. Do catch them if you get the chance.


PETE MCLEOD

Water Rats
Greys Inn Road, London
Thursday 16th February 2017

This was a chance for The Beeb to catch up with a local Coatbridge accent. Pete has been ploughing his furrow for a few years now, both at home and in LA. With a couple of fine albums under his belt, this was an opportunity to catch him playing alongside Steve Craddock, guitarist for Paul Weller's band, and Ocean Colour Scene.

This was our first visit to the Water Rats, and it certainly makes for a really nice, intimate venue. It is a pub with an excellent musical history by all accounts. Bob Dylan's first UK gig, and the first London gig for Oasis was here too.

The support act, Kascarade, from Bradford were really impressive. All the songs seemed to be fit for stadium sing-a-longs. Having siblings in the band really helped when it came to harmonies. The whole band had personality too and their set was really good. It's been a while since we were so impressed with a support band, but these guys were just great.

After a short break, Pete took to the stage with Steve Craddock. With two acoustic guitars, we got a well blended acoustic set which sounded great.

Pete has two great albums out "Rolling Stone" and "Crestfallen". "Let It Shine" and the title track from "Rolling Stone" being particularly strong songs. This was an excellent set from two accomplished musicians, and we look forward to catching Pete again with a full band.
Pete McLeod (L) and Steve Craddock (R)


The Beeb and his Coatbridge pal, Pete Mcleod

The Beeb meets Steve Craddock






THE CACTUS BLOSSOMS

Bush Hall,
Shepherds Bush, London
Monday 23rd January 2017


Click here for their website

We got to Bush Hall early enough to get a standing place second row from the front and got chatting to some characters from the same family who obviously knew The Cactus Blossoms and the whole hillbilly/rockabilly festival scene. One of the band had even come out to say hello and have a few pictures taken. Straight away we warmed to them - no airs and graces and they seemed to be really genuinely nice people.

Page Burkum
Despite having different family names, The Cactus Blossoms are two brothers, originally from Minneapolis who really show how keeping it in the family generates a special blend of vocals.

Much as the boys would like us to compare them to artists other than The Everly Brothers, you cannot escape the fact that they do sound like Don & Phil - it is obviously a family thing.

However, other influences such as Hank Williams and Woody Guthrie and that whole 1940's country sound really shone through their whole set.

The Beeb was quite taken with the 1950's authentic wee guitar Jack was playing. A real piece of vintage beauty.

They highlighted songs from their excellent album, "You're Dreaming", produced by JD McPherson. This album has so many great songs on it, the upbeat "Stoplight Kisses", the beautiful "Powder Blue", and maybe the best live performance of the night, "Adios Maria". this last song had the whole of Bush Hall singing along.

For an encore they dedicated Chuck Berry's "Brown Eyed Handsome Man" to Barak Obama, managing to namecheck Michelle too. It was pretty clear what they thought of their new President!

I think we have been lucky to catch them in such an intimate venue. The next time we see them its a certainty that will be bigger venues they play. Who knows....the Albert Hall?


Page (L), Jack (R)

Jack Torrey


COLIN BLUNSTONE

The 100 Club
Oxford Street, London
Sunday 22nd January 2017

Colin Blunstone is like a fine wine...... gets better with age!

We have seen Colin perform many times, both in his solo shows and as part of that great 60's band, who have had a new lease of life since the turn of the Millennium, The Zombies, and we were really looking forward to seeing him on stage at one of the most iconic London music venues, the 100 Club.

Emma Stevens
The support act was Emma Stevens, someone we had first come across when she played at the London IPO festival in 2013. At that time she was bubbly, energetic and had a clear passion for music and enjoyed every minute of her performance.

Almost 4 years on, in which time she had some great exposure on Radio 2 and in particular from the late great Terry Wogan, she has not changed a bit. She is still bubbly and comes across as absolutely loving being a musician and very grounded as well.

Tonight we had a set of her own songs, playing guitar and for a couple, ukele. There is something infectious about Emma - she always manages to keep a happy vibe throughout her songs, even when the underlying topic is tinged with sadness, such as the song she wrote to remember her Mum by.

A great set and it went down very well with the audience too.

Colin was backed tonight with the touring Zombies' drummer Steve Rodford, plus a bass player, keyboard player and an exceptionally expressive guitarist. Usually as you age, the ability to sing as well as you did when you were in your 20's fades quite rapidly. For some reason the opposite is true with Colin. His voice just seems stronger and stronger every time we see him.

The venue was packed (and extremely hot!), and our "space" was just right of centre stage so we had a good view. A set of solo songs mixed with some Zombies songs, was perfectly balanced and sounded great.

Colin, at home behind the microphone

The gig was filled with lovely little anecdotes from Colin as well as that wonderful singing voice. Colin is never slow when it comes to praising the song-writing talent of his friend, Russ Ballard. "I Don't Believe In Miracles" is ALWAYS a highlight.

Misty Roses is another bit of a show stopper every time.

The set list is shown below, so you can understand what a great show this was.




RUBINOOS & SURFIN' LUNGS

229 The Venue
229 Great Portland Street, London 
Monday 9th January 2017


It has been 37 years since powerpop giants The Rubinoos played in the UK and with support from our favourite UK pop punk band the Surfin' Lungs this was a much anticipated gig.

Rain, a late change of venue and a rail and tube strike did not deter the audience who attended in abundance and there were a few familiar faces in the crowd too. The place was a sell out.

Surfin' Lungs
Wearing their trademark white jeans, surf shirts and converse sneakers, the Surfin' Lungs did a fantastic job at warming the audience up.

They powered through their set, giving us a mix of songs from their recent album and some core favourites from their extensive 30 year back catalogue.

The sound was good, great vocals, twangy guitar, everything you come to expect from this great foursome. The crowd were dancing - just fabulous.


Always a treat to see these guys play live and really pleased they got this gig.

The Rubinoos were one of our early connections when MySpace was all the rage but in all fairness we were not overly familiar with their songs. The merch table put that right as we snapped up a few CDs.

Jon and Al from The Rubinoos
They demonstrated their versatility, opening with all four members grouped together doing an acapella "Mr Sandman" before the powerpop was turned on.
"I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend" had some of the guys in the audience wishing they were teenagers again.
They did slow things down a little when we were treated to another acapella song - this time a version of The Temptations "My Girl".
As if THAT wasn't enough, a note perfect version of the old Flamingos classic "I Only Have Eyes For You" was just stunning to hear.
"Run Mascara Run" and "Shake Some Action" really rocked too.

Although we sensed a faux reluctance to do it, they did include their version of "I Think We're Alone Now" in their high octane, brilliant set.

What a night to remember. This was the best gig of 2017, even though we are still only in the first couple of weeks of the year- we really don't think another one will top this, for the sheer reaction of the audience, pure pleasure and fun we had and the fact we met up with so many friends.

Hope they come back for more gigs some time soon.

The Beeb meets the Rubinoos

The Beeb with Al