Garage daze revisited: The Quireboys live at the Garage, London, 18/19 July 2001

Spike, Nigel Mogg and Luke Bossendorfer live at the Garage, London, 18 July 2001“Closed my eyes, heard a Marshall stack / Swear to God, I had a heart attack”
– C’mon by the Quireboys

So, they finally sold out. Well, as near as damn it. There might be a few tickets left, but the Garage can’t be far off a capacity crowd for these two shows. Who’d have thought it, eh?

The last time I saw the Quireboys, at the old Bottom Line in Shepherd’s Bush in 1995, there was hardly anyone there, leaving me with the impression that everyone, bar a few of the faithful, had forgotten all about Spike and the boys. It was a bit of a saddener ‘cos they’d only been away for 18 months or so at this point. But now, having seen this… well, I can only assume that it was down to lack of publicity – something that definitely hasn’t been in short supply for these Garage shows. And, of course, there’s also the rise in popularity of the Internet over the last few years. Oh, and this from Spike…

“We’re not gonna give up this time. Not that we gave up last time. We were just too pissed.”

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There they go again: The Quireboys are back!

Flyer advertising This Is Rock 'N' Roll by the QuireboysWell, that was a nice surprise.

Last night (13 June 2001) was the final night of Cheap Trick’s three-gig London Garage residency. I was waiting for the support band to come on, wondering who it would be (Monday night we had the singer from Urge Overkill – very good; Tuesday was some dirgey English band I never caught the name of – not so good), when out wandered Spike and Griff.

“‘Allo, remember us?”

Yeah I do, as it happens. Nice to see ya, fellas.

Spike explained that they were in town doing some promo and had been invited to open for CT. They were joined by an unnamed keyboard player and did a half-hour acoustic set, playing Whippin’ Boy, Roses And Rings, I Don’t Love You Anymore, a couple of songs from the new album, and a medley of Just My Imagination (the old Temptations song, as covered by the Stones on Some Girls) and You Can’t Always Get What You Want.

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Nights of Mister B: Dan Baird & Darrell Bath live in South Shields, Newcastle & London, June 2001

Darrell Bath and Dan Baird live at Trillians, Newcastle, 6 June 2001“I get the feeling that most of ya here have seen the Big Three-O. If you haven’t, what the fuck are you doing watching some old man on a Friday night?”

Rock ‘n’ roll, someone once said, is a young man’s game. Absolute rubbish, of course. But it’s led to all kinds of nonsense down the years, such as the predictable “Strolling Bones” quips that tabloid newspapers wheel out every time the Stones – still one of the best rock ‘n’ roll bands out there – hit the road (if anything should be pensioned off, it’s jokes that were rubbish the first time around).

It’s probably also responsible for the self-deprecating humour of the Ian Hunters and Dan Bairds of this world. As it happens, Mr Hunter is playing the Astoria next door tonight. No doubt he’s got a house full – he usually has. There’s a sizeable crowd for Dan here in the Mean Fiddler, too.

What does this tell us about rock ‘n’ roll in the 21st century? Possibly that there’s room for everyone, young, old and every age inbetween; that’s it’s not just the youth who want to let their hair down and feel the power of The Riff; that this kind of music is just as relevant, exciting and inspired as it was all those years ago when Mr Chuck Berry first strapped on a guitar and duck-walked his way to Memphis, Tennessee.

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Pray for me mama (I’m a Geordie now): In the studio with Jason Ringenberg and The Wildhearts

Jason Ringenberg and The Wildhearts, Blackwing Studios, 20 May 2001It’s like something from a movie. A fantasy sequence in High Fidelity, perhaps?

The camera, in a low shot, glides through the studio door and into the control room. On the floor lies Danny McCormack, curled up in the foetal position, purring like a cat. Pan up over a table strewn with empty beer cans: Special Brew, Guinness, Tennent’s Super, K, Becks.

Nearby, there’s a tray of stewed coffee and a stack of unused mugs.

Tilt up to see Ginger sitting in the producer’s chair, with the engineer they call Fully at his side. They’re both rocking backwards and forwards in an excited fashion. Pan right. Stidi is sitting forward, resting his elbows on his knees. He’s bouncing up and down like someone just lit a firework near his backside. All eyes face forward.

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Afterburning love: Darrell Bath’s Sabre Jet – album review and live at the LA2, London, 13 August 2000

Same Old Brand New by Sabre JetWhen I have a spare year or two (cough), I’m going to write the secret history of 1990s rock ‘n’ roll, giving credit to those musicians who, despite playing in some cracking bands, have never got their critical dues. Darrell Bath’s going to have his own chapter. Over the past 10 years, this guy has been a part of so many of my favourite records and bands, turning up in places that have both delighted and surprised me, that I stopped worrying about him disappearing into the ‘where’s he gone?’ file a long time ago.

While I was waiting for a new Crybabys record, he turned up in the Dogs D’Amour, injecting fresh energy into the band’s performance and helping them get back on track after the burnout of the Straight tour (from which Tyla still bears the physical scars). When the Dogs split, he bounced back by joining Ian Hunter’s band, lending his distinctive style to two superb albums, and slowly but surely becoming Keef to the ex-Mott man’s Mick. And then there was the unannounced, but very welcome, return of the Crybabys.

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Viva LA(2) rock! Dan Baird live at the LA2, London, 13 August 2000

Ken McMahan and Dan Baird live at the LA2, London, 13 August 2000I’m afraid I’ve not got time to write this one up properly as I’m in the middle of moving house at the mo’ (anyone wanna buy a load of old clutter that I’ve just found under my bed?), but seeing as it was one of the best darned live shows I’ve seen in ages, I wanted to get these pics out to y’all and at least say a few words about this momentous event.

I mean, Dan Baird just played London for the first time in seven years! I’d still be rubbing my eyes in disbelief if my ears hadn’t convinced me that it really was him.

Okay, let’s get the technical details out of the way first. With Dan on vocals and guitar (natch), Ken McMahan on guitar, Kyle Miller on bass and Nick Forchione on drums, the band tore up a complete storm for almost two hours, though it felt more like one. Ken was a particular revelation for me, having never seen the guy play before. His scorchin’ lead breaks and super-slinky slide did Dan’s material proud. In a word: he rocked.

Okay, so that was two, but he deserves it.

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Pieces of silver: In the studio with Ginger Wildheart, 26 November 1999

Black Leather Mojo by Silver Ginger 5Ginger strikes a match.

“Stop doggin’ meeeeeee…”

The final note of his vocal goes on forever. Babies are conceived, born and reach school age; governments rise and fall; continents drift. And… relax.

Ginger lights a cigarette with what’s left of the match.

“Aw, he’s too cool, isn’t he?” says a smiling Roger Tebbutt, the engineer for the SilverGinger sessions. I can see his point.

The lights in the recording area are dimmed (for atmosphere, I presume). Ginger is standing alone in front of a microphone. He’s been there for about an hour now, “doing the bastards” as he puts it – recording high harmony vocal lines for a song called Doggin’, a bonus track for the Japanese version of the album and a possible single B-side. It’s not a task that he’s been particularly looking forward to, hence the decision to hold it back until the rest of the album’s vocals had been completed.

“Never again,” he jokes between takes. “It’s a blues album, the next one.”

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Kashmir sweaters: Tyla and Dregen live at the Kashmir Klub, London, 29 May 1999

Tyla and Dregen live at the Kashmir Klub, London, 29 May 1999“Do you really know, do you really see, do you really give a fuck what’s happening here?”

Chance would be a fine thing for the 100 or so people who don’t have anything approaching a front row view of tonight’s proceedings. I’m thankful almost to the point of disbelief that I do have such a view, though I start to panic when a seven-foot tall guy (no kiddin’) dressed all in leather pushes his way past my left shoulder. Luckily, he’s heading for an empty, recently vacated seat (the girl who was previously sitting there having decided to move to a spot where she could get a more photogenic view of Dregen) and I breathe an audible sigh of relief. But yeah, the Kashmir Klub could certainly do with a stage – though, with a ceiling this low, it’s really not possible.

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Whatever happened to the teenage dream? In defence of Velvet Goldmine

Velvet Goldmine DVD sleeveVelvet Goldmine, Todd Haynes’ new film set in the early 1970s’ UK glam-rock scene, seems to have polarised opinion amongst rock and movie hacks like no other film in recent memory. The reviews have either been glowing like the brightest star in the galaxy or reeking of musty old second-hand record shops. Oddly, the most scathing reviews have come from the music press, or are at least – as in the case of one popular film mag’s review – written by part-time music journalists.

Having finally seen the film myself and fallen in love with almost everything about it – the performances, the story, the music, the look – the music press’s failure to get to grips with the movie worries me slightly. Well, it worries me a lot actually – enough for me to have spent the last week seriously mulling over the relationship between fans and press. There’s a delicious irony in the music press slagging off Velvet Goldmine – an irony that I’m sure isn’t lost on Haynes, its author and director. But we’ll come to that a bit later. To begin with, I’d like to tell you why Velvet Goldmine is one of the best rock ‘n’ roll movies I’ve ever seen.

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Bouncing back: A chat with Danny McCormack and Neil Phillips of The Yo-Yo’s, 24 September 1998

Danny McCormack and Neil Phillips of The Yo-Yo's, live at the Garage, London, 24 September 1998“Sorry, but you can’t take your drinks outside.”

“Okay, fine, we’ll go back in.”

Danny McCormack – attempting to lead me, Tara and Yo-Yo’s guitarist Neil Phillips past the Garage’s front-door security to the pub for an interview sesh – turns on a sixpence and marches back inside… straight through the backstage door and out the rear exit, drink still in hand. Something about the unruffled, unthinking way in which he performs the manoeuvre tells me he’s done this 1,000 times in 100 venues. I’m impressed and amused.

Just five minutes before, the Garage’s overzealous security had asked me and Tara to leave. When we told them we had permission to be there, they moved on to hassle Danny’s brother, Chris. It seemed to be a case of shoot first and ask questions later. Probably a London thing.

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