Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Michael Head & The Red Elastic Band at St. George’s Hall Liverpool, Sunday December 11th 2016

Photo Copyright John Johnson
Mick Head does like to play gigs in unusual places. He's played in churches, venues threatened with closure such as The Florrie in Liverpool and even in cafés like Leaf on Bold Street and it’s these special one-off gigs that tend to mean more to fans than shows in run-of-the-mill music venues. A great example of this is tonight where he’s performing to a capacity crowd of just over 500 people in the stunningly beautiful neoclassical St. George’s Hall in Liverpool with his current project. After Shack decided to take a break Mick didn’t head off on the typical solo career but instead appeared with a new band, The Red Elastic Band to be precise. Mick explains that this is a cooperative of like-minded people with a fluid line-up that has indeed expanded since I last saw them play at the Islington Assembly Hall back in early 2016. Tonight there’s a choir, a grand piano and flute along with the trumpets and cello and the surroundings suit the lush orchestral arrangements of Mick’s music perfectly. Rather than just churn out the “greatest hits” Mick is taking the opportunity to revisit hidden gems and rarely played album tracks from all stages of his career, often reworking them with different arrangements or instrumentation. That’s not to say this is purely a nostalgia trip, far from it as The Red Elastic Band have already released one excellent E.P. “Artorius Revisited” and a 7” Single “Velvets in The Dark” and will release their debut album sometime in 2017. This new fluidity and open minded attitude makes going to Mick’s gigs nowadays unpredictable and exciting and it must also surely keep things as interesting for him and the band as it does for us, their audience. 

Michael Head, Liverpool - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog
However, despite this fresh approach, there are still reassuring nods to the past. Pale Fountains trumpet player Andy Diagram is a main stay in the Red Elastic Band and Pete Wilkinson, Mick’s bass playing side-kick from Shack, is a regular too. Unfortunately Pete doesn’t appear at the St. George’s Hall gig and his backing vocals and on-stage chemistry with Mick are missed a bit but they’ve drafted in an able replacement on the bass so the overall sound was not compromised. By the way, Pete has his own band, the excellent Aviator, who are well worth checking out. Mick looks remarkably fit and healthy these days, and is in particularly cheerful mood as he takes the stage. In between songs there’s lots of banter and in-jokes which is hardly surprising this being such a prestigious hometown show and the front row of seats are all reserved for friends and family. His daughter is in the best seat in the house, right in front of her dad and she must be his most enthusiastic fan too, getting up excitedly after one song to show him a framed black and white photo that someone had handed to her earlier. During gigs you often catch Mick off-guard with a huge grin on his face, totally caught up in the music around him and you can imagine if he weren’t singing he would be down at the front cheering on his own band! It’s moments like this and his lack of pretence that make Mick such a charming and inspirational performer. 

The Red Elastic Band, Liverpool - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog
The set-list is quite different to the Islington show where Mick delved deep into “The Magical World of The Strands” album but tonight that’s skipped completely and we are treated to an uplifting “I Know You Well” from Shack’s 1988 debut album “Zilch” as the opener and a choice selection of wonderful songs from the second album “Waterpistol”. In fact, a stripped back “Mood of The Morning” with Mick on acoustic guitar backed by some percussive bongos is one of the highlights of the evening. Mick is capable of writing some truly emotional and moving music that can bring a tear to the eye and a lump to the throat. It’s intelligent and involving songwriting with real depth and longevity, although a catchy melody is never allowed to stray too far away. Mick’s sister Joanne sings lead vocals on the beautifully haunting “Daniella” with Mick kneeling on the floor accompanying her with some impressive Flamenco guitar flourishes. More magical moments include the crowd singing along together on “Meant To Be” which sends a shiver down the spine and then there's the Psychedelic rush of “Streets of Kenny” which is simply mind-blowing tonight.

The Red Elastic Band, Liverpool - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog
All these great songs are worked seamlessly into a set which also takes in “Newby Street” and “Cadiz” from “Artorius Revisited”, a cover of “Wild Mountain Thyme” and some new and unreleased material too. Mick ends the main set with “Comedy” one of the most perfect singles of any genre or any era and the upbeat “Newby Street” is so good it gets played again as the encore prompting people to finally get out of their seats to dance and show their appreciation. The Red Elastic Band will be releasing their debut album “Adios Señor Pussycat” on Violette Records in 2017 and talking of Violette, another thing Mick seems to have tightened up on since starting the Red Elastic Band is that old chestnut “artistic control”. It’s great that Mick has found kindred spirits in Matt who runs Violette Records, graphic designer Pascal Blua and photographer John Johnson, as all combine to make the Red Elastic Band releases, not just musically superb, but visually striking and very special indeed. In fact, everything from record covers to gig posters to badges, limited edition vinyl, postcard “box-sets” and T-shirts are all stunning and highly collectable. But reassuringly, and most importantly, among the new material are some songs that easily match Mick's most popular and well-loved classics, “Money”, “What’s The Difference?” and “Queen of All Saints” all sounded great and promise that “Adios Señor Pussycat” will be something quite special indeed. 


The review of Michael Head & The Red Elastic Band at The Islington Assembly Hall can be found in our Blog archive here. Violette Records is the exclusive home to Michael Head & The Red Elastic Band and you can check out their web-site here. Designer Pascal Blua’s excellent design work can be found at his own website here and the Liverpool based photographer John Johnson's stunning photos are here. The essential web-site and comprehensive Mick Head archive Shacknet is here. With thanks to Matt at Violette. More photographs of the gig can be found at the Retro Man Blog Facebook page here, please hit “Like” and “Get Notifications” if you are not already following.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

The Masonics, The Baron Four & Ye Nuns at The Lexington December 21st War Child Benefit

Ye Nuns - Photo Copyright Zigpix
Following on from our November Retro Man Blog Night, The Masonics and The Baron Four were once more sharing the same stage, this time at a benefit for the War Child charity organized by Ye Nuns who were on the bill too. A packed out Lexington also had the opportunity to participate in what must be the coolest raffle ever with prizes donated by State Records, Damaged Goods Records, Weirdsville, Dirty Water Records, Faber and Bloomsbury Publishing, photographer Jeff Pitcher and artwork by The Masonics and Miss Ludella Black. Probably the most unconventional prize was a customized triangular road sign showing a Nun digging up the road and the lucky winners had the pleasure of having to carry it all the way back to the Medway on the train! 

The Baron Four - Photo Copyright Retro Man Blog


All three bands played great sets with The Baron Four in particular proving they are one of the most exciting live acts around and their new songs, in particular "Don't Need You Anymore" (which must surely be their next single!) promise that 2017 should be a very special year for them. Ye Nuns were frankly superb, on paper a tribute band to The Monks - always one of the most idiosyncratic and well, downright weird bands of the '60's Garage Rock scene - seems a strange idea. 

The Baron Four - Photo Copyright Retro Man Blog
The fact that Ye Nuns are a seven piece all-girl band taking the stage in Nun's habits just makes it all the more bizarre yet for some reason it all falls into place perfectly! The Monks clanging, abrasive songs in a way pre-dated Krautrock and I can understand why The Fall's Mark E Smith is such a huge fan as they can sometimes be as irritating as they are addictive. Tonight Ye Nuns crank up the volume and blast us with ear-busting fuzz guitar and scathing electric banjo but sweeten it all with some impressive vocal harmonizing. It's probably the band's most accessible songs "We Do Wie Du" and "Oh How To Do Now" that go down the best with the crowd and on the last song a vitriolic "I Hate You" they are joined by a second bassist to really ramp up the action even more!

Ye Nuns - Photo Copyright Zigpix
Ye Nuns - Photo Copyright Zigpix
The Masonics with special guest Miss Ludella Black treat us to their usual entertaining set of good time Garage Rock 'n' Roll including some songs from their mighty fine new album "Obermann Rides Again". All in all a great night out in the build up to Xmas and all for a great cause too so please check out more details on the War Child charity if you have chance, their web-site is here.

The Masonics - Photo Copyright Zigpix
The Masonics & Miss Ludella Black - Photo Copyright Retro Man Blog
The Masonics & The Baron Four photos copyright Retro Man Blog. Ye Nuns photos courtesy (and copyright) Zigpix, please check out the Zigpix web-site here for more excellent live photography. For more photos of the gig please check out the Retro Man Blog Facebook page here. For videos please visit the Retro Man Blog YouTube channel. For full sets of all three bands then have a look at the Archivist of London YouTube channel. With thanks to Delia.

Monday, 2 January 2017

The Galileo 7 - "The Complete Live-O-Graphic Session" Vinyl Release + Paul Slattery Photographs from The Garage Islington


The Galileo 7 have released "The Complete Live-O-Graphic Session" on glorious vinyl featuring ten revved up, incendiary, "nearly live" versions of previously released songs...plus two tracks not featured on the CD! During the recording of the "Cruel Bird/Nowhere People" 45 (State Records THS—023) the band played a couple of older songs to warm up - and knew immediately that they had to commit the rest of their live set to tape for posterity. These versions crackle with almost uncontainable energy, and outstrip the originals for verve and intensity. The one-take vocals and harmonies were added later in a similarly pressured and time-limited session to preserve the intense feel of the tracking session. The result is this red hot "Live-O-Graphic" sampler of some of The Galileo 7’s best songs! You can order the album from The Galileo 7's official store here.



The band supported Ebbot Lundberg & The Indigo Children at The Garage Islington on December 4th where they played a well-received set bursting with energy and including a superb mind-turning new track handily titled "Turn Your Mind Inside Out"! Legendary Rock Photographer and Galileo 7 fan Paul Slattery was there to take some pics of the action...

The Galileo 7 photographed by Paul Slattery
The Galileo 7 photographed by Paul Slattery
The Galileo 7 photographed by Paul Slattery
The Galileo 7 photographed by Paul Slattery
Thanks to Paul Slattery for the photographs. All photos copyright Paul Slattery.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

The Masonics, The Baron Four & The Beatpack - Exclusive Paul Slattery photos from the Retro Man Blog Night November 18th

The Masonics by Paul Slattery
I'd like to take the opportunity to say a huge "thank you" to all of you who came along to the last Retro Man Blog Night of 2016 at the Half Moon Putney on November 18th. Judging from all the comments it seems like you agreed with me that all three bands were on top form and I appreciate all the great feedback, it really does make it all worthwhile. Thanks of course to The Masonics, Miss Ludella Black, The Baron Four and The Beatpack, it was a pleasure and honour to be able to host such excellent bands. I also really appreciate the many recent requests from bands wishing to play at a future show but unfortunately that was my last Retro Man Blog Night for the foreseeable future. Of course things may change in 2017 but at present I am having a bit of a break from promotions to concentrate on Retrosonic Podcast. However, I have already been in discussions about a couple of very special events next year so please watch this space...!! 

Bruce of The Masonics photographed by Paul Slattery
John of The Masonics photographed by Paul Slattery
Mickey of The Masonics photographed by Paul Slattery
My Retro Man Blog colleague the Rock Photographer Paul Slattery was there to capture the action as usual and I hope you enjoy this selection of some of his great shots from the night. There are more photographs at the Retro Man Blog Facebook page which you can access by 'Liking' the page here.

Miss Ludella Black photographed by Paul Slattery
The Masonics photographed by Paul Slattery
There are also a selection of videos at the Retro Man Blog YouTube channel here and full sets from all three bands can be found at the excellent Archivist of London web-site here.





The good news is that The Masonics and The Baron Four will be playing together again very soon on December 21st at The Lexington in Islington along with Ye Nuns. This is a charity fundraiser for War Child and you can get tickets and further details from here. A nice warm up for Xmas!

The Baron Four photographed by Paul Slattery
The Baron Four photographed by Paul Slattery
The Baron Four photographed by Paul Slattery
The Baron Four photographed by Paul Slattery
The Beatpack photographed by Paul Slattery
The Beatpack photographed by Paul Slattery
The Beatpack photographed by Paul Slattery
Finally don't forget the night was the launch party for The Masonics excellent brand new album "Obermann Rides Again" and if you weren't at the gig to pick up a copy then you can order on-line from here. The Beatpack also have a cracking new E.P. out on State Records too and you can get hold of that over here. Thanks again to everyone for the support over the past year! Cheers!



Thursday, 17 November 2016

The Satelliters, The Razerbills and The Ladybugs at Weirdsville Mexican Day of The Dead Halloween Party

The Razerbills at Weirdsville - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog 2016
Well, yet another superb night courtesy of Weirdsville and testament to why I wanted to pay my own little 'tribute' to their fantastic set up at our next Retro Man Blog Night at the Half Moon Putney on November 18th with The Masonics, The Baron Four and The Beatpack. Mr A and Alex just keep on putting together stunning line-ups of international Garage Rock, Surf, Psych and Weirdo acts from the far flung corners of the globe at the Fiddler's Elbow in Camden on the last Saturday of every month. At the regular Weirdsville club nights and their yearly version - the Hipsville Weekender festival - I have seen acts, mostly for the first ever time, from places as diverse as France, Brazil, Switzerland, Japan, Italy and more. Tonight was a great example of their eclectic and multi-cultural pick 'n' mix that always seems to blend together perfectly as we had bands from Japan, Germany...and Bradford! This was a Halloween special with a Mexican Day of The Dead fancy-dress twist and as usual loads of people really went for it and some of the outfits were stunning and pretty damn scary too! I must admit as I went to the venue straight from the football, I didn't have chance to dress up and I felt a little bit out of place - although the comments about me winning the scariest Halloween mask of the night have been noted...!

Weirdsville - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog 2016
The Ladybugs at Weirdsville - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog 2016
So, starting off tonight were The Ladybugs, a three-piece all girl Punk Rock band from Japan featuring Ai on bass, Miyuki on Guitar and Junko on the drums and lead vocals. They charmed the crowd with their huge smiles, police outfits and tuneful Punk Rock. Of course it's easy to draw comparisons with their fellow Osaka residents Shonen Knife but then they don't have a monopoly on catchy buzzing guitar pop tunes with singalong choruses do they? Well the choruses would be singalong if the lyrics weren't in Japanese I suppose but we gave it a try nevertheless! With songs like "A Pint of Bitter" and "A Cup of Tea in Baker Street" - you can sense the girls were happy to be in London and they proved their musical influence was also somewhat Anglophile with a cracking version of the Buzzcocks "I Don't Mind" too.

The Ladybugs at Weirdsville - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog 2016
The Ladybugs at Weirdsville - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog 2016
Their last song "Hello, I Love You" was a great way to end their short, sharp and sweet set, they are a great band and lovely people too and we will definitely keep a check on what they get up to in the future. To get up to date news and order their CD's and 7" vinyl releases please check out their official Facebook page here. Guest DJ's Mole & Lois from State Records, The Embrooks, Galileo 7 and The Baron Four (not sure how they have enough hours in the day...!) played a great selection of 7" vinyl before, between and after the bands and their choices went down a storm with the crowd.

The Razerbills at Weirdsville - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog 2016
Next up were The Razerbills from Bradford who took the stage decked out in capes, mysterious masks and black fez's and then proceeded to send shivers up and down our spines with spooky organ driven instrumentals, dropping in special effects and clips from Sci-Fi and Horror movie soundtracks along the way. They put on a great show and their take on the Joe Meek sound mixed in with a pinch of Garage Rock and Horror & Sci-Fi theme music really went down well on the night.

The Razerbills at Weirdsville - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog 2016
It was a mostly instrumental set but they did throw in a great version of The Legends late-60's Fenton Records garage stomper "I'll Come Again" which really hit the spot. I think the band have a bit in common with Speedball Jnr, The Sine Waves and Graham Day's recent side-project The Senior Service but at the moment they don't have any records out unfortunately but hopefully that will change soon so keep a check on their news at their Facebook page here.

The Satelliters at Weirdsville - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog 2016
Headliners The Satelliters from Germany are just one of those bands that have 'it'. They have the look and the stage presence and they certainly got the beat but most importantly they have the songs! And what superb catchy songs they are too, with their own compositions such as "Lost In Time" and "Outta Here" quite rightly holding their own among those more well known 60's Garage & Psych classics that must have influenced them along the way.

The Satelliters at Weirdsville - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog 2016
The band remind me of The Music Machine and Shadows of Knight with their spindly intricate guitar riffs which lead you on a merry dance and stick in your head for days after. Lead vocalist Steve is kept busy all night, juggling the organ, harmonica, maracas and tambourine - unfortunately not all at the same time - and this all adds to their ultimately danceable rhythm. A truly great live act and I would really recommend seeing them as soon as you get chance. The band's latest album "More of The Satelliters is well worth getting hold of too. For more info check out their web-site here.

The Satelliters at Weirdsville - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog 2016
Weirdsville is held on the last Saturday of every month at the Fiddler's Elbow in Camden/Chalk Farm, for more information on their upcoming shows please check out their facebook page here. The yearly festival version Hipsville-A-Go-Go has now been confirmed for 2017 in Margate on the bank holiday weekend April 28th, 29th and 30th. For more info and announcements on the bands who will be appearing please check out the great Hipsville web-site here. Our next Retro Man Blog Night at the Half Moon Putney on November 18th is a kind of 'tribute' to Weirdsville. It's the launch party for The Masonics brand new album and features special guests Miss Ludella Black, The Baron Four and The Beatpack, who will also be celebrating the launch of their new E.P. on State Records, so we hope to see you there! Book in advance to save money from the ticket link here.

The Satelliters at Weirdsville - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog 2016
Here's some videos of the three bands, there are more up at the Retro Man Blog You Tube channel.






For more photos of the night please head on over to the Retro Man Blog Facebook page.


Thursday, 13 October 2016

Oh! Gunquit: New Vinyl Single "Nomads of the Lost" out on Trash Wax Records + New Video


Hot on the heels of their excellent "Hot Cross Fun" cassette only E.P. Oh! Gunquit are unleashing more new material on us, this time in the shape of a lime green vinyl 7" single. The single will be released on Trash Wax Records and features two tracks "Nomads of The Lost" and "Walking The Street" and it will be issued in a limited edition of 100 copies in lime green vinyl before reverting to the more traditional black vinyl. You can order the single direct from Trash Wax Records here.


Here's the great new video for "Nomads of The Lost".



You can hear another new track from the "Hot Cross Fun" E.P. in Episode 25 of Retrosonic Podcast.



Monday, 3 October 2016

Graham Day & The Forefathers & The Len Price 3 at Retro Man Blog Night - Exclusive Paul Slattery Photos

Graham Day & The Forefathers photographed by Paul Slattery
I'd like to take the opportunity to say a huge 'thank you' to all those who came along to our sold out Retro Man Blog Night with Graham Day & The Forefathers, The Len Price 3 and DJ Lee Grimshaw from the Spin-out Show, especially those of you that travelled some distance to be there. I'm sure all of you would agree that all the bands and Lee really put on a superb night's entertainment. Thanks to the Half Moon staff and to Eric from King Salami & The Cumberland 3 for the excellent gig poster and Glen Jordan for the superb video of the whole set which you can check out on YouTube here. When I went backstage before the show to see the Star Trek tunics hanging up I knew we were in for something special. The first time I saw The Prisoners was on the great Channel 4 music show The Tube way back in 1984 as part of a feature on the underground Garage Rock scene of the time along with The Milkshakes, The Tall Boys and The Sting Rays.

The Len Price 3 photographed by Paul Slattery
The Len Price 3 photographed by Paul Slattery
DJ Lee Grimshaw set the scene with a selection of great vinyl and got everyone warmed up for The Len Price 3 who put in another classic display with a set crammed with some rarely played oldies such as "Lai Ha Lam" and "Sailor's Sweetheart" along with some very promising new and unreleased numbers from their forthcoming album. The band are currently in the studio working on the album and of course we'll keep you updated on news of the planned release date as soon as possible.

The Len Price 3 photographed by Paul Slattery
It was Graham's birthday and as such The Forefathers had a few surprises up the sleeves of their Star Trek tunics. Jon Barker of The Senior Service, The Gaolers and The Daggermen was in the line-up and it was the first time The Forefathers had played with a Hammond organ. That meant we got treated to a lot of old Prisoners classics that rarely get played live by the band these days. Kicking off with the instrumental "Come To The Mushroom" from The Prisoners' debut album we then got served up a superb version of "The Drowning" followed by "Nobody Wants Your Love" both from the classic "Last Fourfathers" album. There was just the one Solarflares track tonight, the scorching instrumental "Lunar Girl", but The Forefathers have tended to concentrate more on the Solarflares material so I wasn't too disappointed especially with the treats that were coming up.

Graham Day & The Forefathers photographed by Paul Slattery
Wolf Howard of Graham Day & The Forefathers photographed by Paul Slattery
There was a brief pause when I presented Graham with a bottle of Jameson's and the crowd joined in an impromptu chorus of 'happy birthday to you' and the band slammed into The Gaolers "Pass That Whiskey" (not stage managed in the slightest...!) and "Just A Song". Then we got some prime Prisoners favourites including a stunning "Thinking of You (Broken Pieces)", "Whenever I'm Gone" and a mind-blowing version of "Hurricane" from "The WiserMizerDemelza" album.

Graham Day photographed by Paul Slattery

Allan Crockford photographed by Paul Slattery
Then we had a special guest appearance from The Senior Service, Darryl getting on stage to take over bass duties from Allan and they played "Bone Jacked" and the single "Depth Charge" to an eager and pleasantly surprised audience. Then there was another swift line-up change, Darryl passing the bass to Jon and we had a little tribute to The Daggermen with Allan taking over Dave Taylor's place on guitar and vocals. They played three tracks, two from the album "Dagger In My Mind" (which is surely due for a reissue) and "One More Letter" from their debut E.P. "Introducing The Daggermen".

Tribute to The Daggermen photographed by Paul Slattery
Darryl Hartley and Jon Barker from The Senior Service photographed by Paul Slattery
Graham was down the front enjoying the short blast of The Daggermen's Garage Rock songs, singing along but was soon back on stage. to run through yet more great tracks from The Prisoners faultless back catalogue including rare outings for "Till The Morning Light" and "Far Away". There was a raucous run through of The Gaolers "Begging You" which sparked a one man stage diving (well stage jumping...) invasion by Andy from The Past Tense and the set wound up with a viciously powerful "Melanie". For the encore the band came back and played a brilliant "Reaching My Head" - the track that they famously played back on The Tube in those Star Trek outfits - and a medley of "I Drink The Ocean" and "Hush" and I'm sure I wasn't the only one in the crowd with a lump in my throat.

Jon Barker photographed by Paul Slattery
Photo by Paul Slattery
Here's a video of "Melanie" from the night, please check out our Retro Man YouTube channel for more original "up close and personal" videos from this and many other gigs.


Our next Retro Man Blog Night at The Half Moon Putney will be on Friday November 18th and we are very pleased to announce that it will be the showcase/launch party for The Masonics new album "Obermann Rides Again". We've sorted another superb supporting line-up of The Baron Four and The Beatpack and tickets are available to order in advance now for the bargain price of £11.50 from the Half Moon, either on-line here or by phone on 0208 780 9383. You can hear an exclusive track from The Masonics new album in Episode 25 of Retrosonic Podcast along with chat about the Forefathers gig and songs by The Senior Service, The Daggermen and The Dentists among others. Subscribe for free at iTunes or listen/download for free from our Soundcloud site.



Thanks to Paul Slattery for the excellent photos as always, for more pics check out the Retro Man Blog Facebook page here, hit "Like" and "Get Notifications" to keep up to date on future gig news.

Graham Day photographed by Paul Slattery