Sunday 22 October 2023
Friday 20 October 2023
The three tickets for last night's Supersuckers gig at The Rescue Rooms had been sitting in my phone for weeks. As soon as I saw they were doing a few UK dates I grabbed 'em quick. And so, on what turned out to be one of the wettest nights of the year, Steve, Neil and yours truly aquaplaned to the venue, and after a few beers and a catch up, made our way to the stage. Showtime.
The band's lineup may have changed (multiple times) in the thirty something years they've been going but singer and bass-man Eddie Spaghetti has remained constant. His trademark cowboy hat never* leaves his head all night and the band play a rabble rousing set that rarely falls below 100mph; though as you can see from the clip below, sometimes they can drop a gear (Coattail Rider normally sounds like this) and sometimes they play acoustic (sometimes they even go full on country). But whatever the lineup, whatever means of amplification are to hand and whatever head gear is or isn't worn the Supersuckers remain The Greatest Rock and Roll Band In the World.
Supersuckers - Coattail Rider (Live on The Fox 101.7 in 2017)
Tuesday 17 October 2023
In 1976 there was a musical hurricane approaching. What had started out in a few north London watering holes was now gathering momentum and making inroads in the provinces - the blue touch paper that had been lit by pub rock, via high energy R&B acts like Doctor Feelgood and Eddie & The Hot Rods, was about to explode in a cavalcade of three chord punk hedonism and gob; with a few safety pins thrown in for good measure. Step forward Johnny Rotten and Joe Strummer (and bring your contingent with you).
There was only one snag, however: not everyone got the memo. Or if they did, it got lost in translation. Or, maybe, just maybe, some recipients just chose to ignore it. Which leads me nicely to the Rubettes. In 1976 the wheels had well and truly come off their hit-making machine. As had their trademark white berets. Sugar Baby Love couldn't save them now. The red warning light was flashing angrily and they were in what can only be described as limp home mode.
So what do they do? Not having read said memo, they blagged their record company into letting them record a fourth album (bearing in mind platters 2 & 3 had tanked) and in so doing recorded this rather fetching folk rock (minor) classic with, listen for yourselves, some proggy noodlings in the middle. Did it save them? Of course it didn't. It too tanked. Spectacularly.
The Rubettes - Sign of the Times (1976)
Thursday 12 October 2023
Just got back from an amazing four days away in Dublin. It'll probably come as no great shock to learn that Dublin is my favourite European city; since 2016 and the whole Brexit shitshow, the affinity I have to my maternal home (on both sides of its border) has just got stronger and stronger.
So, I thought it would be cool to wrap a little holiday around the Unthanks gig at the Liberty Hall Theatre on Monday night; and so it came to pass. Fifty minutes from East Midlands Airport and I was rubbing shoulders once more with fellow Europeans. Everything seemed to fall into place. From the first day when we caught the opening of a visiting Andy Warhol exhibition at the Hugh Gallery (over 250 original pieces including some of his most iconic* work to his earliest pencil sketches when he was still finding his style) to the fascinating conversation I had with our taxi driver on the way back to the airport.
Anyway, you know the griff, time's too tight for gushing reviews; here are my Match of the Day highlights with a few snaps thrown in for good measure.
Best pub. Oh, come on, really? OK, well, it's a toss up between John Kavanagh a.k.a. The Gravediggers, Neary's, The Flowing Tide and The Confession Box. And tI'm barely scratching the surface. But if I had to choose one, I'd go Gravediggers. Run by the same family for seven generations it's a pub that defies anything and everything to do with the modern world. And I got to meet the actor currently playing Peter Pan at the Gate Theatre.
As you can imagine, eating out is a huge deal when you'e away, so two very quick shout outs to Sofia's - the best breakfast caff in Dublin bar none (their Full Irish takes no prisoners) and Montys of Katmandu whose Nepalese food was, to quote Greg Lake, "spectacular, spectacular.''
Best non Warhol exhibition of the holiday - American Portrait Photography at the Irish Museum of Modern Art. This sculpture typified their equally sculpted gardens.
Best 'graffiti' - that's easy. PHIL!
Best train journey; the great little train journey from Dublin's Connuolly Station to Greystones - a small seaside town an hour down the coast.
The building trying its hardest to look like Battersea Power Station. Ah, that would be the distillers Roe & Co. (Exquisite brickwork btw.)
The best Art Deco building in Dublin. Archer's Garage, as was. Here's the back story. (That's right, not all is at it seems.)
Two quick asides. The best vintage car spot and the best front doors in Dublin. The car was easy - this classic Citroen with its engine idling outside Benneton was a photo op I couldn't pass on. And the doors. Let me tell you about Dublin doors: I could spend a whole month photographing nothing but the front doors of Dublin. Seriously. Every style, type, size and, yes, colour. Here's four off the bat, but I could easily have posted a hundred and four.
And finally, the main event. I've seen the Unthanks a couple of times now (and indeed I've been lucky enough to have met them) but I always knew seeing them in Ireland would be special. And it was. Very moving. Very uplifting. Very intimate. Almost spiritual. As you might expect, it was a sell out (I think I blagged the last two tickets) and everyone in the room, I know, was as transfixed as I was, such is their stage precence. So, no, I wasn't going to break the spell and take their photograph. Nobody wants to be that guy.
* Sorry, C!
Sunday 1 October 2023
For October's Photo Challenge I sent out an APB which simply read "Expanses of glass. Windows; round, square, arched, stained, big, small, old, new, broken..."
After last month's amazing collection I really thought 2023's continuing exploration into all things pictorial had peaked; surely the quality of photographs couldn't continue on an upward trajectory. How wrong could I be? Seems like the only way really is up!
In time honoured tradition our friend Rol is first out of the traps: "Hi John, I struggled a bit this month - I don't seem to have taken many photos of glass edifices. I had a few stained glass windows, but the shots were rather unremarkable. Then I found this, which I have named Summer Glass. It should at least provide a little variety. Take care, Rol." Yep, this is pretty much how I'll remember Summer, Rol. Thank you, as ever.
We go north of the border next with Stevie from Charity Chic. "Hi John, I suspect you'll receive a few stained glass windows (surprisingly not actually, CC). This belter is from the Holy Trinity Church in the centre of At. Andrews." Thank you, Stevie. She is, indeed, a belter.
Another latecomer, albeit a most welcome latecomer, is Ben Dakin: ''Am I too late?? I reckon no matter the theme I can crowbar a phone box into it!'' As I said to Ben in my reply, you can never have too many phone boxes!