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Showing posts from October, 2015

Beach House, Manchester 271015

This has been a hard one to write.

The problem was I'd been to see Simone Felice in Leeds the night before and had been totally blown away.
Beach House, from Baltimore, Maryland, a band I've liked for a few years now, and had wanted to see for a while, just happened to rock up at the wrong time, as I was still caught up in the previous night's music.
After an intimate gig in a small, cosy venue like the Brudenell Social Club, in front of maybe 150 people at most, where we were able to chat and pose for pictures with the musicians for a while, and then going to a sell-out event with 1,500 people at the Ritz in Manchester the following night when the band kept themselves remote and in the dark with only the backdrop being illuminated was not really where my head was!
Which, with hindsight, is probably not a fair reflection. I managed to get a good space on the top balcony, at the front with a good view. The band came on, played a lot of tracks off their new album 'Depression…

Scarecrows and Water Spiders: Simone Felice in Leeds

Still trying to get back down to earth after last night's amazing gig by Simone Felice at the Brudenell Social Club in Leeds.

Dave Kennedy, lead singer with the Rainey Street Band had invited me along to see someone who has greatly inspired and influenced him. Whilst I hadn't heard Simone - pronounced 'Simon' - perform before, I was familiar with a number of his songs as they are regularly included by the Rainey Street Band in their set - 'Radio's On, 'Whiskey into my Whiskey' and 'One More American Song'.

The day had started quietly enough with a pint in Spoons in Brighouse, where I met Dave, ace harmonica player and multi-instrumentalist, Ian Crabtree, and his wife Chris, prior to catching the train over to Leeds. A few quality pints then ensued in the pubs of re-vitalised Holbeck - the Northern Monk Refectory, the Cross Keys and the Midnight Bell - before we headed back into town where we met Dom, and then Tom Firth, another man of many instrum…

Chinese Takeaway?

I can't say about I'm happy about the current bowing and scraping (or 'kowtowing' in the word borrowed from the phrase 'kau tau' in Cantonese) to the Chinese by our government.

The welcome bestowed on Chinese leader Xi Jinping grates on a day that has seen more redundancies announced in our own steel industry, with cheap steel dumped from China as their own demand has slowed down being blamed as having a serious impact. Add to that human rights issues in many regions such as Tibet, the undermining of the special arrangements agreed jointly between Britain and China for Hong Kong, frequent episodes of cyber-espionage, and you have to ask the question is this the sort of partner with whom you want to develop a close relationship.

Yes, taking a top line view, the supposed £30 billion of business and trade sounds great. But at what price? Should we not be supporting our own industries to compete, encouraging our own people to develop their businesses? Yes, some jobs …

The Rails: On Track in Hebden Bridge

One of my favourite albums of all time is 'I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight' by Richard and Linda Thompson, a timeless classic from 1974 which still sounds as good now as it did then, and which is still a source of inspiration for musicians today. I went to see the Thompsons back in 1975 at Manchester's Free Trade Hall during my student days and although I have only vague memories of the evening, the music has always been a source of pleasure.

I was reminded of that gig the other day when I went to see The Rails, featuring Richard and Linda's daughter Kami, perform at the Trades Club in Hebden Bridge. I first came across them last year when Mark Radcliffe played 'Jealous Sailor' on the Radio 2 Folk Show, and from there I bought their debut album 'Fair Warning', co-produced by Edwyn Collins, and featuring fiddle from Eliza Carthy. And in another throwback to the past, it was the first album released in the Island Records pink imprint since the head…

Festival Time!

It's that time of year again.

The nights are drawing in, the leaves are starting to change colour, there is a cool nip in the air. And, up and down the country, every weekend, beer festivals are taking place in pubs, clubs, church halls and many other varied places and spaces.

It's not purely an autumnal affair, as many festivals happen at other times of the year. It is just that Autumn seems to bring them thick and fast, and decisions have to be made about which to visit, and which ones you miss.

A couple of weeks ago I was the Rastrick Beer Festival, at St John's Church, then last week I was at the Todmorden Beer Festival at the cricket club. Unfortunately, I had to miss the Navigation at Mirfield then, and the Huddersfield CAMRA Festival this weekend due to other events.

So why go to a Beer Festival when so many pubs these days serve a wide choice of beers? Is it not just a throwback to the days of the '70's when they were a welcome refuge from the mass of keg-only …