The Rising Sun Arts Centre,
Silver Street, Reading

Saturday 19th August 2017

We have seen many Surfin' Lungs gigs over the years and never get tired of seeing them. Tonight it was a special gig to celebrate the launch of their latest album, Surf Factor 8 on red Vinyl.

Two support acts, Horse Rock an amusing, masked surf instrumental band and Psych punk band Go Go Cult warmed everyone up (literally as the room was very hot!) before the Surfin' Lungs powered through a brilliant set of old and new songs.

 Their musical career spans 30 years so there is a wealth of material to pick for a set list and tonight it was really balanced between songs from their very first vinyl release "Cowabunga" ("389", "Who Stole the Summer", "Quasimodo a Go Go" and "Down At The B-Club"), and then one or two from each subsequent release, right up to songs from that new vinyl Surf factor 8 and a few covers thrown in too. 

The encore was "Pray For Sun", again from their first release and a cover, "Peppermint Twist".

Highlights were "Where Young Men Go To Cry" which has a great "Be My Baby" Hal Blaine drum beat, the mafia influenced instrumental "The Godfather" which is definitely one of Minty's favourites and from their new album, "Don't Take My Baby". 

"The Beach Will Never Die" and "Pray For Sun" went down very well.

A good thing about the Lungs is that they have always kept true to their sound  which means that one album is just as good as another and their set lists flow really well.  They are high octane, fast paced but filled with great melodies and harmony. Think The Ramones meet The Beach Boys and you've got their sound.

Loved every second of this gig.

Surfin' Lungs (L-R Clive, Chris, Steve and Ray) promote the red Vinyl of "Surf factor 8"


4 dates:
Galway International Arts Festival - Sunday 23rd July 2017
Bord Gais Energy Theatre, Dublin - Wednesday 26th July 2017
Hammersmith Eventin Apollo, London - Tuesday 1st August 2017
Kelvingrove Bandstand, Glasgow - Thursday 3rd August 2017

Rather than capture our thoughts on each concert individually, this is an overall view across our "mini tour".
Brian Wilson - London

Beat Root Revival - London
For all of the gigs we caught, there was a support act - Beat Root Revival, a duo made up of Ben Jones and Andrea Magee. We were really excited to hear that this duo, who are originally from Kent and Northern Ireland but are now based in Austin Texas,would be opening the Irish shows as we have known about Ben for  quite a number of years.

We have seen his previous bands The Lovedays and The Rifle Volunteers, as well as performing as himself at some of the International Pop Overthrow Festivals in Liverpool and London. A few years ago he went over to perform at one of the IPOs in the US and then made his home in Texas, where Beat Root Revival play regularly.

Beat Root Revival - Glasgow
The pair are two great personalities who really engage with the audience and they sounded great too.

For the main part, Andrea played the Bodhran (that's the handheld Irish drum to a layman!) whilst providing some superb vocals and Ben amazed us with his slight of hand on the guitar, loops to give the extra backing, drum pedal to give that extra oomph and also some stunning vocals.

We can hear the influence from Fleetwood Mac in their sound and indeed they included a cover of "Dreams", which Andrea played the tin whistle on which really added their own Beat Root Revival flourish on it to make it their own.

Their own material is pretty fantastic too, and after seeing them play four times, we had some really firm favourites, such as The Cheese Song (officially "Forever"), "Instincts" and "Before It Gets Too Late" and we got their whole back catalogue from the Merch table.

Their signing off song was a tribute to the Beatles, with a cover of "Come Together" which apart from the "shoot me" and the chorus, sounded nothing like the original, it was really refreshing. Eight minutes of Beat Root's take on the Beatles, performed in Glasgow can be seen at the bottom of the blog. Check out Ben's dexterity on the guitar!

The people of Austin are lucky to be able to have the chance to see this pair play frequently in their adopted town. A few of the Brian Wilson fans we caught up with after the gigs commented on how good this duo was and how much they had enjoyed seeing them.

What we really liked was their obvious delight at being asked to cover the support slot for Brian's shows. After years of attending Brian Wilson concerts as fans and being among the audience, to be able to share the stage must have been a dream come true.
A chance to say hello to Andrea and Ben in Galway

And... to the main attraction........ The Brian Wilson shows were in two parts and each show was pretty much the same set with the exception of the Glasgow where the show was a bit shorter. Kicking off with "California Girls", the recognisable opening chords got everyone cheering and got the show off to a great start.

Brian Wilson - Galway
Matt Jardine hits the falsettos
Brian was quite prominent on lead vocals for much of the performance, with Matt Jardine taking the falsetto parts in Pet Sounds, and the lead on "Don't Worry Baby" and "Let Him Run Wild". We were quite impressed with Matt on this tour and our appreciation of him grew considerably. We could see how much more comfortable he is with filling those higher notes when Brian trails off.

Al Jardine covered the car song medley, and "California Saga"  along with his leads on some of the Pet Sounds songs, his signature tune being "Sloop John B". He still has a great vocal range and a strong voice which really does add to the shows.

Al Jardine - London

Blondie Chaplin - London

Blondie Chaplin, a Beach Boy in the early 70's during the Holland era, turned everything psych rock with his Shamen style moves, guitar shredding and strong vocals on "Wild Honey", "Sail On Sailor" and "Feel Flows" - the latter one being a surprise and an absolute treat to hear.

He even sneaked onto stage during some of the other songs to lead the audience into a handclap during "Little Honda", or just shimmy around the stage playing the tambourine like he was casting some kind of magical spell over the show.

During the Dublin gig, we saw him to the side of the stage, out of normal view, dancing wildly to the car songs!!!

Darian Sahanaja (with Nelson in the background) - Galway

Darian Sahanaja has really made "Darlin'" his own now, taking the lead vocal at all of the shows and the acapella ending is just superb.

The crowd went wild after each performance and he genuinely appeared to be very humbled at such a great reactions. The man is too modest!

Some other songs outside of the usual hit factory were in the set and sounded great, like "Aren't You Glad", "Salt Lake City" and "Let the Wind Blow" (which was an addition for the London and Glasgow shows).

The second half of the show was the entire "Pet Sounds" album. We have always loved this album and have seen it performed many, many times since over the last fifteen years. We think it is marvellous how it is recreated so authentically on stage, despite the intricacies of the instrumentation and harmonies produced on the record.
Brian - Dublin

The stand out song is always "God Only Knows" when the crowd start to cheer at hearing the first note from the French Horn played in the intro. The crowd sing "God only knows what I'd be without you" back at Brian so loudly, it drowns the band out and Brian just stops and absorbs it all. He can feel the love from the UK and Irish crowds and it is no wonder he can smile to himself. The reaction of the crowd once the last note has faded away is nothing short of immense, a standing ovation that lasts for a long, long time, until Brian asks the audience to "please be seated". That produced a chuckle in Galway as it was a standing gig!
The backdrop in Galway - Brian in profile from 1966
After the humourous band intros, the encore is the standard fayre of "Fun, Fun, Fun", "Help Me Rhonda", "Good Vibrations", "Surfin' USA" and "Barbara Ann" and ended with the get home safe song "Love & Mercy".

There has been comment in press reveiws about whether Brian should still be touring. His voice is obviously weaker than it was when he started to tour again in the UK in 2002 and at times he sort of speaks/sings and can be a bit breathless. But he really looked comfortable during all of the shows we saw. Being really high up in Dublin, we had the birds eye view and could see he was actually tinkling away on the old Joanna throughout the show too and his demeanor did not suggest he was having to deal with any demons or voices in his head whilst on stage.  He smiled a lot and joked around and when he wasn't singing, he was really absorbing everything.

A nod must go to the rest of the band who have not been mentioned above. The rest of the band excelled in all of the shows. They are great on all of the "hits" but they really do shine throughout the whole Pet Sounds set. Without their attention to detail, the show would not work.

Probyn Gregory - Glasgow

Multi-instrumentalist Probyn Gregory holds so much of the instrumentation together, switching so smoothly from guitar to trumpet to trombone to theramin to the exquisite French Horn on the opening of "God Only Knows", AND adding backing vocals.

He is amazing to watch and never seems to drop a beat. He must have an extra arm somewhere to cope with the pace of the instrument changes! He is pivotal to the show.

Nelson Bragg is stunning on percussion and fascinating to watch in action, He is like the Tasmanian Devil, creating a whirlwind around himself as he single handedly takes on all of the many pieces of percussion needed to recreate that authentic "Pet Sounds" sound mastered by Brian Wilson and the Wrecking Crew 5o years ago.

Nelson Bragg - Dublin
His energy is something else as he chimes the triangle, shakes the tambourines, taps the cowbell, shakes sleighbells, clinks finger cymbals, bangs the tom drums, shakes the shakers to name but a few of the various instruments he plays and don't forget the "beep beep" of the bicycle horn at the end of "You Still Believe In Me"

Mike D'Amico has really turned into a great Pet Sounds drummer and is master of the Floor Tom and Bass drum all the way through the rendition of the iconic 1966 album. He is right at home behind the rig, with the Brian Wilson drumhead. As Brian Wilson yells "Let's hear some drums!!!"

Mike D'Amico - Dublin
The interaction between Mike and Nelson is very evident, side by side, working off one another and culminating in the drum off on the instrumental track "Pet Sounds". This just gets better and better every time they do it and attracts such a loud roar from the crowd and some comments of admiration from the Big Guy Brian Wilson himself. Check it out for yourself in the video below, from Galway.

The Drum off - London

Nelson Bragg - Mid "drum off" - London
Paul Von Mertens - Galway

Musical Director, Paul Von Mertens is surrounded by a multitude of wind instruments: flute, oboe, harmonicas and saxophones and has the opportunity for a few sax solos where he takes the spotlight at the front of the stage.

Nicky Wonder - London

Nicky "Wonder" Walusko commands not only the lead guitar but also the baritone guitar and his opening on "Pet Sounds", (that song without words), is sublime. The acoustic on "In My Room" shone through.

Bob Lizik is a quiet and unassuming bass player who seems to be quite at home keeping the rhythm.He has played with Brian for so long it must be intuitive now. Off stage he is a pretty good guy too.
Bob Lizik - Glasgow
Gary Griffin - Glasgow

Gary Griffin on keyboards has been a more recent addition to Brian's band, but he fits in well. He can also boast of being in the screen biopic "Love and Mercy" playing one of The Wrecking Crew!

Standing alongside one another, Gary and Darian interact and swap places between  two sets of keyboards and vibes, delivering some great vocals and playing the odd tambourine too.

Gary Griffin and Darian Sahanaja - Dublin
The sound was really good on this tour, even the marquee and outdoor shows in Galway & Glasgow respectively. London was a little muddy, but a special mention has to be made about the sound in Dublin. It was so crisp you could hear every note played, every word sung, every breath taken and every handclap added in backing. Did you know the sound guy, Chris was the subject of an article about being in charge of the sound on Brian Wilson shows in "Sound on Sound". Check it out.

After Glasgow, the band were racing off to the next venue, and it was left to a small crowd of fans to continue the party until around 3am the next day.
"See you all next time"

The Beeb with Darian and Nicky - Glasgow

Minty and Darian - Glasgow

The Beeb and Bob Lizik - Dublin

Minty with Wondermint Nicky in Dublin

The Beeb bumps into Blondie and Nelson around Dublin

Below is the video of Beat Root Revival doing their take on the Beatles "Come Together".

And here are the band introductions, compered by Paul Von Mertens


The Forum
Kentish Town

Tuesday 11th July 2017

Rockabilly Riot
Tickets for Brian Setzer's Rockabilly Riot sold like hotcakes when the show was announced, being the only UK show on his tour and we were very lucky to be able to nab tickets. Unreserved seating on the Balcony meant getting there early to be first in line to get a good seat at the front! It was pouring with rain but this did not dampen any spirits.

Brian Setzer is looking fit- a few pounds shed since we last saw him, dressed in a pinstriped suit and sporting his trademark blonde quiff he kicked off his London Rockabilly Riot with a Carl Perkins cover "Put Your Clothes On".

With a career spanning the best part of 30 years, there is no way you can cram all of the old favourites into a single gig, but the set was a really balanced mixture of covers, solo stuff and Stray Cats songs.

He was looking good, he was sounding great and his riot band of drummer, double bass player and a boogie woogie piano player were superb. He changed guitars a few times, from orange to black to green - all Gretsch as he powered through this blistering set. The Quiff had melted by the end of the show!

The encore included a great version of "Sleepwalk" and everytime we see Brian Setzer play this tune, it is always different as he adds his own twist to it. Tonight was no exception and you can see the video of this below.

Thank You London

Sleep Walk - Setzer Style

Set List:
1 Put Your Cat Clothes On  (Carl Perkins cover)
2 Rumble in Brighton  (Stray Cats song)
3 Vinyl Records
4 Stray Cat Strut  (Stray Cats song)
5 Nothing is a Sure Thing, Baby
6 Stiletto Cool
7 Cry Baby  (Stray Cats song)
8 '49 Mercury Blues  (The Brian Setzer Orchestra song)
9 Whatshername
10 Drive Like Lightning
11 Slow Down / Folsom Prison Blues (Johnny Cash cover)
12 Gene and Eddie  (Stray Cats song)
13 Blue Moon of Kentucky (Bill Monroe and The Bluegrass Boys cover)
14 Runaway Boys  (Stray Cats song)
15 Jump, Jive an' Wail  (Louis Prima cover)
16 Fishnet Stockings  (Stray Cats song)
17 Let's Shake
18 Sleep Walk  (Santo & Johnny cover)
19 Rock This Town  (Stray Cats song)


The Borderline
Mannette Street, London

Thursday 15th June 2017

It was a basic set up - a drum kit, stand up double bass and Darrel Higham with his rockabilly quiff and guitar to give us just over an hour of some great rockabilly tunes. No need for fancy stage sets or guitar pedals. This is pure raw rockabilly music.

The influence of Hank Williams and Eddie Cochran is very transparent in Darrell's solo material. His set tonight had a few covers included but it centred mainly on his latest two album releases, "Hell's Hotel" and "One For The Road" which was great as we had not heard anything from the "One For The Road" album before.

The songs are short, punchy, with that simple drum beat, bass slapping and guitar twang that is synonomous with the rockabilly beat, but each individual enough to avoid sounding like the same song over and over again.

We really enjoyed this gig. Not only for the music but for the intimate setting too as The Borderline is a small venue.

After the gig, Darrel was extremely generous with his time to say hello to people, have photos taken and sell his CD's which seemed to be flying off the merch table. Would not hesitate to see him play again.

Darrel's back up guitar - the White Falcon teasing us.

Video of "And The Angels Cried"


Bush Theatre
Shepherds Bush, London

Sunday 4th June 2017

"Said he was giving me a Taffeta dress.... that's Just What I Always Wanted" - the opening lyrics from what is one of Minty's favourite songs and the theme of the gig which celebrated the 25th Anniversary of the release of this iconic 80's song.

The gig was a total sell out and no wonder, as Mari pulled out all the stops, with a full band and backing singers to support her, including original Wilsation Saxophonist Stewart Curtis, and James Nesbitt who has been the staple guitarist in her solo shows for a few years now. The big band really made for a great party atmosphere as Mari lead us through what has been a brilliant musical career .

Her first album "Showpeople" was really celebrated as well as her most recent release "Pop Deluxe", a covers tribute to all those fantastic 60's girls who ruled the charts, such as Dusty Springfield, Cilla Black and Petula Clark.

She can belt out those classics when she needs to and then she can sit perched on a stool and deliver such a soft, slowed down version of "24 Hours From Tulsa" which leaves you with the hairs standing on the back of your neck, and too scared to breath lest the sound break the hush that fell over the mesmerised audience. The reaction to "24 Hours From Tulsa" was amazing.

The crowd were delighted when long time friend of Mari's, Marc Almond joined her on stage to duet on two classic Dusty Springfield songs, "I Close My Eyes & Count To Ten" and "I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself".

She has a great sense of humour and a cheeky laugh and kept the audience entertained in between songs, not that there was much of a break between songs mind you, as the whole set flowed so smoothly and included 4 costume changes. Mari has the knack of finding great outfits for her gigs. Starting out in a 60's style sequinned mini dress, she also wowed us with an orange and red chiffon combo, sexy black leggings and sparkly top and jacket and her final costume, a lovely little black dress with sequin trim. Truly stunning in all of them.

The encore of 3 songs ended with that 80's Pop Classic "Just What  Always Wanted" which had everyone on their feet and brought the show to close. What a brilliant night.

Cry Me A River, with Stewart Curtis on Sax

A mention has to be made about the support act. This was a solo Rockabilly gal, Emily Cappell with a rather good looking guitar. A pure young talent, who really entertained us with her self penned songs and a great wit. Each song had a story, mostly humorous, which made everyone giggle (wonder if her first love will ever find out!) and it was a great 20 minutes of entertainment. Here's hoping we get the chance to see her again, and hopefully she'll become a very successful singer/songwriter.

Emily Cappell


St Lukes

Saturday 27th May 2017

The BMX Bandits do not play live very often, and with a new album just released, this launch party gig was one not to be missed. By the time the BMX Bandits took to the stage, the place was packed and we found a bit of space at the back by the sound desk, which is always a good place to be!

Members of The BMX Bandits come and go, each contributing to their piece of the band's history and back catalogue which is vast, spanning just over 30 years. This is a line up we have seen a few times now, so it's pretty stable.

Davey Scott
The one constant is Duglas T Stewart, his gentle soul and his apple (although tonight, he also had a banana). His sidekick, Chloe fills the female vocal parts very well, as well as playing a bit of guitar, keyboard and some percussion.

Great backing vocals are provided by the rest of the band and tonight we got the added bonus of Pearlfisher, Davey Scott who joined Duglas on stage for a few songs which was great to see and hear.


With 30 years in the bag, the set list for a gig must be hard to decide on.

Tonight we got a good selection of songs from the new album "Forever" and some great songs from yesteryear including staples such as "Serious Drugs" and "Your Class" which has been in the set for the last few gigs and has become a very firm favourite with us.

Oh, and the new album is wonderful. Full of classic Bandits songs already.

After the Gig - The Beeb with Chloe, Duglas and Stu Kidd

The Beeb and Duglas