Tag Archives: Islington

Dave Mason’s Traffic Jam at Union Chapel, London 3/3/17

I must confess that my introduction to the music of seminal psychedelic-tinged band Traffic was via the cover of Hole In My Shoe by Neil out of The Young Ones (Nigel Planer) in 1984. The end of the sixties was then only 15 years previously but, culturally, it seemed like a million years away. While everyone in my year at sixth form found Hole In My Shoe utterly hilarious, it did tempt me into finding out more about the original and taping a copy of a ‘Best of Traffic’ compilation LP that I borrowed from Preston Record Library.  On the album I found not only the original, still very quirky, Hole In My Shoe but a load of other treasures: Dear Mr Fantasy, Medicated Goo, 40,000 Headmen and more.

Traffic split in 1975 and Dave Mason had already left several years before. However, having enjoyed seeing Traffic’s Steve Winwood in 2013 I jumped at the chance to see Mason when his Traffic Jam tour-dates were announced – his first UK tour since the seventies he tells us tonight.

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It’s the aforementioned Mr Winwood who is most closely associated with Traffic’s legacy in Britain these days, so it’s really welcome to see Dave Mason publicly celebrating the part he played in this iconic band. The first part of the set focuses on the Traffic era, including 40,000 Headmen, Medicated Goo, Dear Mr Fantasy and Feelin’ Alright. After a short break the second half of the show focuses on both Mason’s post-Traffic career but also his influences that inspired him to get into the music in the first place, with a pounding, soaring tribute to Hank Marvin in the shape of a cover of The Shadows’ Apache. Another tribute was to Jimi Hendrix, with a stunning version of All Along The Watchtower (the Dylan song that Hendrix made his own and which Mason played acoustic guitar on.)

Mason’s voice is in fine form and he gives us some outstanding lead guitar throughout the set but special praise should also go to his keyboard player, Tony Patler, who provides some perfectly evocative Hammond tonight, as well as some really rich, bluesy vocals. My only minor complaint was about the impact of the building’s acoustics. Union Chapel can be a wonderfully iconic venue but, sitting near the back, I did find the echo of the drums a bit clattery and overwhelming in this cavernous Victorian chapel at times. However, having purchased his current ‘Traffic Jam’ album, recorded live at the New York City Winery (which Mason later signed for me) I am pleased to report a much superior sound mix and can really enjoy the contributions of all four musicians.

And what of Hole In My Shoe, Mason’s quirky sitar-based hit that led me to discovering Traffic in the first place? He hasn’t played it in years and hasn’t touched a sitar in years either, mainly because he would struggle to get down on the floor to play it these days he tells us…

Sitar or no sitar, it was a great performance tonight and it’s good to see Dave Mason rightfully staking his claim in the Traffic legacy in his home country once again.

Setlist:

40,000 Headmen (Traffic)
Pearly Queen (Traffic)
Medicated Goo (Traffic)
The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys (Traffic)
Rock and Roll Stew (Traffic)
Dear Mr. Fantasy (Traffic)
Feelin’ Alright (Traffic)

< INTERVAL >

World in Changes (from ‘Alone Together’)
We Just Disagree (from ‘Let It Flow’)
Look at You Look at Me (from ‘Alone Together’)
Apache (Shadows cover)
Good 2 U (from ’26 Letters 12 Notes’)
Shouldn’t Have Took More Than You Gave (from ‘Alone Together’)
All Along the Watchtower (Jimi Hendrix/Bob Dylan cover)
Only You Know and I Know (from ‘Alone Together’)

http://www.davemasonmusic.com/home

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Dave Davies (and Ray!) at Islington Assembly Hall 18/12/15

A couple of years ago I drew up a list of some of the bands I wanted to try and catch at least once before they (or I!) died, became otherwise indisposed or packed up for good. Black Sabbath with Ozzy, The Who, The Beach Boys with Brian Wilson, Deep Purple and, given rumours of a possible reunion, The Kinks. One by one I worked through all the bands on my list, but The Kinks reunion remained elusive. So the next best thing seemed to be to at least catch the surviving members perform solo. I’d already seen original drummer, Mick Avory, perform with several 70s-era ex-members of The Kinks. So a Dave Davies solo gig in Islington seemed like a good idea and I could hopefully get to see a Ray Davies solo gig at some future date, too.

The Islington Assembly Hall, part of the town hall complex, is not the largest of venues but it’s filled up nicely as Dave Davies takes the stage, backed by three supporting musicians. We get a nice mixture of classic 60s Kinks singles, some lesser known tracks from the band and a selection of Dave Davies’ solo material. Although his speaking voice sounds frail at times, his singing voice is much stronger and his mastery of the guitar (arguably, on You Really Got Me, the man who invented the heavy metal riff) is as powerful as ever. It’s a particular joy singing along to those old Kinks numbers especially: All Day and All of The Night, Tired Of Waiting For You, See My Friends, Death of a Clown and I’m Not Like Everybody Else.

Of course, when he came back on for an encore we could all guess absolutely what the song was going to be. What we couldn’t guess, though, was who would be joining him for that final song. “A surprise for Christmas!” announced Dave and on walked his brother Ray, the two of them sharing a stage together for the first time in 19 years. The audience as one are hit with amazement and wonderment at this beautiful and unexpected moment in rock’n’ roll history. Ray was in fine voice as he sang You Really Got Me and Dave cranked up the guitar. The audience went wild. Excitement, joy and genuine emotion as that 2 minutes and 14 seconds of one of the greatest rock’n’roll songs of all time blasted out from the stage. An early Christmas present indeed.

Setlist:
Ripping Up
All Day and All of the Night
She’s got everything
Creeping Jean
Tired of Waiting For You
See My Friends
In You I Believe
Strangers
Flowers in the Rain
Young and Innocent Days
The Man He Weeps Tonight
Death of a Clown
Living on a Thin Line
Dead End Street
Where have all the Good Times Gone?
I’m Not Like Everybody Else
You Really Got Me (with Ray Davies)

http://www.davedavies.com/

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Snakecharmer at O2 Academy Islington 13/11/15

Bluesy heavy rock fronted by ex-Deep Purple vocalist, David Coverdale, Whitesnake in the late70s/early 80s were utterly brilliant. One of the first rock albums I ever bought as a teenager was Ready an’ Willing. Whitesnake evolved into something quite different but the early vintage of Whitesnake was always the one I was most interested in. Ex-Whitesnake members, guitarist Micky Moody and bassist Neil Murray, are keeping the flame alive with Snakecharmer, playing a mix of Whitesnake classics and newer material in that similar melodic, bluesy heavy rock similar vein.

The Whitesnake veterans have teamed up with ex-Wishbone Ash guitarist, Laurie Wisefield; the son of Rick Wakeman and keyboard supremo in his own right, Adam Wakeman; and Thunder drummer, Harry James. They are joined by vocalist Chris Ousey who handles the David Coverdale material perfectly, yet resisting the temptation of becoming a Coverdale trinute act.

I’ve seen another former Whitesnake member, Bernie Marsden, perform solo on several occassions and it’s nothing less than an absolute joy. But while Marsden’s shows these days duly celebrate the Whitesnake legacy there is a real emphasis on the slower blues that is his love and passion. A Snakecharmer gig, however, is more in the spirit of the heavy rocking nature of early Whitesnake, with the added bonus of a top-class lead vocalist and, of course, Micky Moody’s irreplacebale slide guitar playing. And anyone who thinks that an extended drums and slide guitar solo spot is a tad self-indulgent and over the top needs to het along to a Snakecharmer gig to see just how good this can be.

There’s some great new material. But, more than anything it’s those old Whitesnake numbers we are at this gig for. And how glorious it is singing along to Ready an’ Willing, Here I Go Again and Fool For Your Loving. I was 15 again, deftly manouevering myself to the very front row at Donington with my mate Gareth. The simple, life-affirming, communal joy of live rock music.

So how devastating it was getting home after the gig and finding out about the terrible events in Paris: other rock fans, like me, just wanting to enjoy the simple pleasures of a night out at a live gig. But tragically, unlike those of us at the Islington Academy tonight, many of them never coming home. I was reminded immediately of the emotive words of another of David Coverdale’s erstwhile colleagues, Glenn Hughes. Only a couple of weeks earlier on the final night of his UK tour Hughes spoke emotively and passionately about the beauty of music and its ability to break down barriers and bring people together, even when there is so much hate in the world. Terrorism will not stop that.

Setlist:
Guilty as Charged
A Little Rock & Roll
Ready an’ Willing
Accident Prone
Falling Leaves
Ain’t Gonna Cry No More
Nothing to Lose
Crying in the Rain
Moody’s Blues (slide guitar & drums solo spot)
Slow an’ Easy
My Angel
Here I Go Again
Fool for Your Loving

http://www.snakecharmer.org/

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Marina Florance at The Islington (Emerging Talent Showcase) 4/11/15

For sheer passion in terms of promoting new artists, there cannot be many outfits to beat Folkstock, the small “boutique” record label that’s helped bring a number of acts to wider attention. Tonight’s event in Islington is one of two nights that are being hosted under Folkstock’s “Emerging Artists” banner as part of the London Folk & Roots Festival. All of the acts showcased in the two live shows also feature on Folkstock’s “Downtown” album, which has a track contributed from each of the artists. Tonight the theme is Americana and we hear from three solo acts: Katie Rae, Marina Florance and Ben Smith as well as the headliners, five-piece band, Fred’s House.

With many artists you have a pretty rough idea of what they are going to sound like and a reasonable guess at what their musical style is going to be as soon as they take the stage. When the engaging but down-to-earth singer-guitarist, Marina Florance, takes the stage I have very little idea what to expect. But wow what an incredible, incredible voice. And in a strong field tonight, for me, she is the stand-out act of the evening. Florance came to live performance late in life but has been receiving plaudits wherever she’s played and sung. Her rich, heartfelt, expressive voice has been compared to everything from Stevie Nicks to Johnny Cash and is a joy to listen to, both on the more mournful, melancholic countrified numbers like Little Black Cloud (her contribution on the Downtown compilation CD) as well as the raunchier, bluesier songs like Big Legged Woman (from her latest EP: Triple A Side). Some great luscious, dexterous acoustic guitar-playing, too, compliments her voice perfectly. You can catch a video of her and the previous act, Kaity Rae, here

The only downside of an event like tonight is that when you do come across an emerging talent like Florance, you don’t quite get to hear enough of them before it’s time for the next act. Before she leaves the stage, however, the next artist, Ben Smith, joins her for a couple of songs. They make for a powerful musical combination and it’s gratifying to discover Smith plays on a couple of tracks on Florance’s latest EP.

She is the oldest of our emerging talent acts tonight by some way. But whoever said there was any age limit on when an artist can emerge: Marina Florance – I’m a fan!

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http://www.marinaflorance.com/