Monday, February 08, 2016

Mark Chadwick / The Sweet Black Angels @ The Beehive, Honiton – Saturday February 6th 2016

The last time I saw Mark Chadwick I was surrounded by a couple of thousand other punters at the Birmingham Academy and he was surrounded by the band he formed way back in 1988, The Levellers. This evening he was flying solo and audience numbers were a more modest 200 or so, at least one of whom had travelled all the way from Cardiff to be here. What’s the Welsh for dedication...hold on...’ymroddiad’ apparently...hey, who says the internet’s just a vapid pool of porn and pictures of cats that look like Hitler eh?

First up though local band The Sweet Black Angels, indie country folksters with some instantly hummable tunes and a bit of an Oasis twang here and there, minus the OTT Manc swagger thankfully. Well worth catching if you get the chance.

Ambling onstage at around 8-ish Chadwick launched into what amounted to a greatest hits set that was refreshingly relaxed and informal, especially for an artist with six gold discs and a number one album in his back pocket...yep, I kind of forget that don’t you? It was a timely reminder for anyone there who wasn’t a superfan (a fair portion of the crowd were judging by the enthusiastic word perfect singalongs) though just how many great tracks The Levellers have and it’s a real shame that, so far at least, they’re perhaps not held in the same esteem as, say, yer Billy Bragg, one of the few other artists for whom politics and social issues aren’t dirty words.

Despite one of the organisers encouraging him to have mid set break so he could get his merch out he played on, noting that he wasn’t “that mercantile” and that if anyone wanted anything his Skoda was parked out the back with the doors open and they could just help themselves. From anyone else this would merely sound like an amusing joke but you kind of got the feeling that he was being genuine. Bless him.

Set highlight, the truly anthemic  - and for once the word’s justified - One Way predictably went down a storm (even if it did only reach number 51 in the charts way back in 1991) and Mark even managed to inspire a mini moshpit, albeit one of the gentlest moshpits in the history of moshpits.

Gently teasing the crowd throughout the set for living in ‘Hobiton’ and having nothing to worry about apart from interior design issues (gawd knows what he’d make of Whimple...we’ll have to get him down here to find out) he blazed through the hits with the same kind of passion and oomph that he brings to the band (“I don’t know what they do in February” he mulled midset “don’t think I want to know either”) even bantering with the crowd and taking the odd request towards the end. That’s the (One) Way to do it.

Tickets for The Levellers very own Beautiful Days Festival are on sale right here, right now. 

Friday, February 05, 2016

Maurice White RIP

And so it goes on...2016 really does seem to be intent on wiping out some of the most talented souls around, this time it's Earth, Wind and Fire's founding father Maurice White, producer and lead vocalist on the utterly fabulous disco funk classic Boogie Wonderland. Now if that isn't a tune for a Friday afternoon dance in your pants then I don't know what is. RIP.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Boat to Row – Handsome Beats

Another perfect piece of post pastoral folk from Boat to Row together with a video that, now I’m living in the wilds of Devon, sparked more than the odd pang of nostalgia for dear old Brum (even if the ‘planners’ are currently doing their level best to screw it up...RIP the ‘ziggurat’).

Over the past few years Boat to Row have been quietly slipping out one gentle gem after another and Handsome Beats is another ‘string’ of beauty (and the beats), a melancholy masterpiece in fact, “we’re broken beats so scattered, some end well most of us don’t” sings lead Boatman Michael King, “so I pull open the curtain on a day when others won’t”. Coming so soon after the passing of the legend that is Mr Paul Murphy (who I believe was also an admirer of the band) that’s a line, for me at least, that comes loaded with added poignancy. Beautiful stuff.

PS: You can catch Boat to Row out on tour in February and March. Dates here!

Friday, January 29, 2016

Paul Murphy RIP

Well this year is really taking it's toll on the legends. Now one that I had the very great fortune to know personally (albeit ever so slightly), Mr Paul Murphy. Perhaps best known to many as the force of nature lead singer for The Destroyers he was also an actor, poet, novelist, playwright and, most importantly of all, a ruddy lovely human being. I had no idea he'd been ill but it seems he was diagnosed with cancer last August and very sadly passed away yesterday morning. As several people have already noted today there is indeed a hole in the universe. RIP Mr Murphy. x

Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Day Ends...and begins

Okay, had enough of death already this year, time for a birth for a change...and change is clearly in the air with Miles Perhower, Rose of Bearwood and Fibass's new outfit, The Day Ends, Miss Halliwell's bastard offspring that's emerged kicking and screaming in this tantalising behind the scenes clip. Regular readers will know how much I rate Mr P and his one man mission to mess with the music 'biz', it's what the world needs right now more than ever. Coldplay awarded the NME's Godlike Genius award?! You're having a laugh right? Lester Bangs must be vomiting in his grave. Truly it's the end of days...

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A Black day...RIP Colin Vearncombe

Whilst it was expected the sad news that Black aka Colin Vearncombe died yesterday after suffering serious head injuries in a car crash two weeks ago was still a shocker. Wonderful Life was an relatively early album purchase for me and the title track that spoke to me as a 17 year old still resonates today as I nudge 46. Of course there was so much more to the man than just that one song and it's well worth setting aside an hour or two to cop a listen to over 31 years worth of music making. He may have had his ups and downs but, musically at least, it really was a wonderful life. RIP.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Animal Collective - FloriDada

And the award for the most addictive track of January 2016 goes to...drum roll please...Animal Collective with FloriDada. Bonus points for the semi-pornographic seizure inducing video too, good work dudes. If you don't wake up in the wee small hours with the chorus going round and round and round...and your head over and over again it'll be a miracle.