Jeff Lynne’s ELO party like it’s 1979

After working nearly 24 hours over the weekend in Speyside, the prospect of a four-hour drive home to Edinburgh late on Sunday was not an enticing one. It was dark, I was knackered, I had little money, food or energy. The packet of crisps, bar of chocolate and can of glucose beside me was of little comfort. But then I switched on the radio, and quite unexpectedly and magnificently my mood lifted completely. Jeff Lynne and the Electric Light Orchestra made it happen, such is the wonder of his music. Continue reading

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Frankie Boyle – shock and awe in aid of Reprieve

In 2011 the Daily Mirror wrote a pile of shite about Frankie Boyle, so he sued them, and was awarded £54,650 as a result. Those defamatory words read by millions may have stuck in the minds of the British public, but quite probably a far less known fact is that he donated his ‘winnings’ to Reprieve, to back their landmark legal attempt to sue the MI6 over accusations that they castigated Shaker Aamer, who after more than twelve years is still imprisoned at Guantanamo, USA’s 9/11 revenge-based human hell-hole, without charge or trial. Continue reading

Rock Regeneration – a question of passion, skill and integrity

I can hold on no longer. It has to be said. The sentiment, the message, the reason for writing this particular piece has been resting uneasily with me for far too long. It’s a monkey on my back that is at last losing its grip. I must write with honesty about subjects close to me – music, writing, creativity and grammar – for I am passionate about all four. Yes, grammar included. I’m a sucker for punctuation. Having spent nearly six years writing about and promoting music in my former hometown of Bournemouth, the subject is close to my heart. Now having spent the last few years watching and reading from a distance, this never-ending bugbear has to be exorcised. Continue reading

Grant Sharkey – life, laughs, love and Free Nuggets

I’ve known Mr. Grant Sharkey for about ten years. His Southampton-based band Toupé were regular visitors to venues in coastal neighbours Bournemouth, and over the six or so years I was involved in promoting music I booked them as often as I could, being as they were one of the most spontaneously vivacious bands you’re ever likely to see. Toupé were a three-piece, featuring a twin-bass bombardment from Grant and Karl Evans, their on stage banter being almost as much of the appeal as the music itself. Continue reading

The Beautiful Cosmos of Ivor Cutler

I cannot pretend to be a theatre critic as much as I have no claim to be overly knowledgeable about the life and works of Ivor Cutler, my limited insight into whom comes from some John Peel listening, Beatles reading and various friends talking and performing. But, I know how I felt when I left the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh a few days ago, having just seen The Beautiful Cosmos of Ivor Cutler – totally charmed, thoroughly elated, and more than a little emotional.

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Saturday Sun – Orixé

Since the age of 18 I’ve watched ‘local’ bands with a heightened interest. Initially this was due to an obsession with music in general, for the last six or seven years it was my job as well as my passion. I managed music venues and through my own business promoted and encouraged local musicians and bands. I watched local artists maybe four or five nights a week, made many friends and saw some incredible talent, much of which received virtually no recognition outside of my then home county of Dorset. I left Bournemouth well over two years ago now, and at the time there was a band from Swanage (a sleepy, picturesque coastal town in the south-east of Dorset) who had been playing locally for less than a year, primarily in their own remote neck of the woods. I’d heard whispers of the luminosity and brilliance of Saturday Sun from a few who had already seen them – such mutterings I had heard many times before – so I booked them to play purely on hearsay. Continue reading

Michael Rattray – ‘Human Life’

I know Michael Rattray a little. A rare, intimate live appearance last year brought a tear to my eye whilst our occasional communication has shown him to be a gentle man with a kind and generous soul. He also exudes both creative talent and wit in abundant, generous measures. But, this artistic flair and admirable disposition hide – as is often the case with a rare talent – a darker side, a more troubled man filled with personal foibles and a heavy soul. This side of Michael’s persona is opened up and exposed at its fullest in his new album Human Life. Continue reading

Tony Law – shouty bollocks

Today was my second dose of Tony Law. I flew solo to The Stand last weekend, arriving late and finding one of just a few vacant seats. A sell-out crowd for a half-past-midday performance on Sunday (a regular occurrence apparently for this daily show) is no mean feat, even with forty-nine million people currently visiting Scotland’s capital. I enjoyed his “shouty bollocks” immensely, so much so that I bought three more tickets for Michelle, Cal and a school chum of his. I wanted them to see what I thought – recent reviews had said the same – was a Fringe highlight. Yesterday, Cal and his pal bailed out, preferring instead to earn some cash, stewarding. That left two tickets spare. Well I grabbed one, happy to see more Mr. Law, and one was snapped up by a lovely friend of ours. All set then. Continue reading

Artwork by Frederik Tyson-Brown

I used to live in Bournemouth, and when I did I enjoyed watching and writing about local music. One of the bands I most enjoyed seeing perform were Henry’s Phonograph, a flamboyant, psychedelic, new wave combo from Wimborne who sported (especially on the slender frame of lead vocalist Frederik Tyson-Brown) a fine array of taches, cuban heels and general military getup. Fred move to London to study art, the band continued for a while I believe, but there my knowledge begins to muddy. Continue reading