Tag Archives: Supergrass

2020 in Darren’s music blog – the ten most popular posts of the year

I wish everyone a happy New Year. My special thanks go to all those who have visited (and hopefully enjoyed) Darren’s music blog during 2020. Weirdly, although I originally started this blog nearly seven years ago mainly to cover live gig reviews, I’ve had far more visits to my site this year than any previous year. This is in spite of all the gigs (and the gig reviews!) stopping in March.

Anyway, as we look back over the year here are my ten most popular blog posts from 2020. Although I’ve covered the usual eclectic range of metal, folk, Americana, brit pop, rock n roll and glam rock this year, it seems that people were particularly seeking out my glam content this year. Glam ended up pulling in eight of the ten top slots. Here they are in order of popularity…

1. Veteran drummer Don Powell out of Slade

When Don Powell announced he had been sacked from Dave Hill’s continuing version of Slade it came as a shock to many, eventually being covered extensively in the music press and the tabloids. I posted the sad news up on my blog within minutes of it being announced on Don Powell’s Facebook page – I was first to report it and for the first 24 hours pretty much the only one to report it. My post went viral and was shared all around the world.

Read full post here

2. Glitter, glam and Blackpool rock: interview with glam rock legend John Rossall

Following the release of his highly acclaimed new album ‘The Last Glam In Town’ I talk to former Glitter Band legend, John Rossall. Our chat covers glam rock, show bands, growing up in Blackpool and, of course, John’s new album and the prospect of touring again post-Covid.

Read full post here

3. Sweet launch video to promote new single ‘Still Got The Rock’ and forthcoming album ‘Isolation Boulevard’

Sweet’s ‘Still Got The Rock’ single was released in digital format in December followed by the digital release of new album Isolation Boulevard. The single is reworking of a song that first appeared as a newly-recorded bonus track on the 2015 Sweet compilation album Action: The Ultimate Story, by the band’s previous line-up. The new version features the current line-up of Andy Scott, Bruce Bisland, Lee Small and Paul Manzi.

Read full post here

4. Before glam: the debut 60s singles of Bowie, Bolan, Slade, Mud and Sweet

When glam rock burst into the UK pop charts in the early 1970s the genre may have appeared all shiny and new and suitably outrageous but many of its lead players had been trying to make their all-important breakthrough in the previous decade. Five of the acts we look at here all released their debut singles in the mid to late 60s.

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5. Slade legend Jim Lea releases video footage in bid to locate recently stolen guitar

Founder members of Slade were not having much luck at the start of the year. Jim Lea’s cherished Fender Stratocaster was stolen in central London on 31st January. He released a video in the hope that it will prompt members of the public in helping reunite him with his guitar.

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6. Live review: Supergrass at Alexandra Palace 6/3/20

The only live review to make the top ten this year, this Ally Pally gig from the Supergrass reunion tour was actually my penultimate live gig before lockdown. (I managed Glen Matlock at the 100 Club the night after). Without a doubt, for me, the greatest band of the Britpop era, I was at the Brixton Academy on the Supergrass farewell tour in 2010 and ten years later I was excited to be their for the their first of two nights at Alexandra Palace on the long-awaited reunion tour.

Read full post here

7. Death of a glam icon – Steve Priest: 1948-2020

Steve Priest, bass-player with the Sweet and an icon of 70s glam rock sadly passed away in June following an illness that had hospitalised him. In an emotional post on his band’s Facebook page, former band-mate Andy Scott paid tribute to the best bassist he ever worked with. A phenomenal bass-player whose harmony vocals were an essential part of the band’s classic sound Steve Priest we salute you – a true glam rock icon.

Full post here

8. Slade at No. 8 in the UK albums chart – their highest position since 1974!

I was well chuffed to see Slade’s new greatest hits compilation Cum On Feel The Hitz go straight in at No. 8 in the UK’s album charts back in October. This was the band’s highest ranking in the UK album charts since Slade In Flame was released back in 1974. Even during the days of the band’s early 80s comeback, a decade after glam, Slade albums were still struggling to make it to the Top 40, even when they had a second run of hit singles.

Full post here

9. Slade’s Don Powell recovering from stroke

The run of bad luck for Slade icons in the early part of the year continued. Don Powell, suffered a stroke on Saturday 29th February at his home in Denmark. Fortunately, his step-daughter Emilie, a doctor, was with him when it happened and was able to act swiftly to call an ambulance and get him to hospital. His wife Hanne released a statement and Jim Lea and Andy Scott both sent their best wishes.

Full post here

10. ‘Confess’ by Rob Halford – a gay heavy metal fan reviews the Metal God’s autobiography

As someone who became a Judas Priest fan not long after my dad brought home a newly-released copy of ‘British Steel’ back when I was a young teenager, and as someone who has known they were gay from around that same time I was particularly keen to read Halford’s memoir. There is a fair bit of revelatory gossip and down to earth black country humour but there are many segments that are deeply, deeply moving, too. One of the best rock biogs in ages.

Read full post here

Related post:

2019 in Darren’s music blog

Alt-rock/Britpop: album review – Supergrass ‘Live On Other Planets’

A pun on their similarly titled 2002 studio album, Live On Other Planets is a live double album from Supergrass celebrating the band’s long-awaited reunion. Supergrass (and their fans) were incredibly lucky that they were able to complete the majority of their tour (at least the UK and European legs of it) just prior to COVID-19 putting a huge spanner in the works for them and the rest of the music industry. Rather than capturing a single concert the sleeve-notes state the album was recorded at various locations. Moreover, the CD version comes with an additional bonus disc that was recorded at the band’s livestreamed Summer lockdown gig at Oxford’s Bullingdon Arms.

I was at Alexandra Palace back in March for one of the band’s two London dates. Indeed, it was my penultimate live gig before lockdown and this album definitely captures some of the excitement and buzz of those reunion concerts, not to mention pretty much the entire set-list. Beginning with a magnificent ‘In It For The Money’ all the obvious crowd-pleasers are included from across the band six-album career. However, as with the reunion tour there is a big emphasis on songs from the very first album I Should Coco which celebrates its twenty-fifth anniversary this year. Gaz Coombes is in fine voice, there’s a ton of energy coming from all four members and the crowds sound just as enthusiastic as I recall they were at Ally Pally.

All live but with no live audience in the room the third disc, meanwhile, is a like a modern-day version of those old Radio 1 sessions that bands used to do for the BBC in the late 60s and early 70s. “Weird but like a good weird,” as Gaz says. It makes for a lovely bonus disc.

Released on the band’s own Supergrass Records label the album has been mixed by long-time collaborator John Cornfield who worked on the band’s first three albums. All proceeds from the album go to the #SaveOurVenues campaign.

Live On Other Planets is a brilliant memento for anyone who made it to the reunion tour – and if you are still awaiting the rescheduled gigs (including a much-anticipated slot at Glastonbury) it’s a great taste of what’s in store.

Released 27th November 2020

https://www.supergrass.com/

Related reviews:

Supergrass Live at Alexandra Palace 2020

Gaz Coombes at ULU 2018
Gaz Coombes at the Roundhouse 2016
Gaz Coombes – Matador
Vangoffey at the Social 2016

Live review: Supergrass at Alexandra Palace 6/3/20

Without a doubt, for me, the greatest band of the Britpop era, I was at the Brixton Academy on the Supergrass farewell tour in 2010 and ten years later I find myself in a state of some excitement for their first of two nights at Alexandra Palace on this long-awaited reunion tour. Given there was no particular acrimony when the band originally broke up, and certainly no Gallagher-style public feuding, in the intervening years I’d long suspected (and certainly hoped) that a reunion would happen at some point.

Formed of members of Gorillaz and The Feeling along with producer and Libertines collaborator, Ed Harcourt, support act Loup Garoux are a supergroup of sorts and their alt-rock take on stoner rock is well-received but I suspect most of tonight’s crowd are still making their way up the hill to Ally Pally while they play their half-hour opening set.

The cavernous Great Hall, however, rapidly fills up for The Coral. An inspired choice by Supergrass, they proceed to deliver a masterclass in making the most of a half-hour support slot with devastating efficiency. Giving the crowd a tour de force of some of their best-loved songs (‘Jacqueline’, ‘In The Morning’ et al) by the time they finish with a glorious, crowd-pleasing ‘Dreaming Of You’ they leave the stage to the sort of thunderous applause that most headline acts would hanker after.

After The Coral’s storming set we don’t have to wait too long for Supergrass, however – and what else would you possibly want to open with on a much publicised and presumably lucrative reunion tour when you’ve written a song called ‘In It For The Money’?

“Gaz has done his neck in and we were advised to cancel these gigs,” drummer Danny Goffey tells the crowd. “But instead we found one of those London rock ‘n’ roll doctors who’s pumped him full of drugs.”

The rock ‘n’ roll doctor clearly knows what they are doing. Gaz Coombes and his band-mates go on to deliver a blistering, joyous and uproarious celebration of the Supergrass legacy.

When I last saw Supergrass, on their 2010 farewell tour, the set-list was carefully constructed with a representative selection from each of their six albums – all presented in reverse chronological order. Tonight, however, the set-list is heavily dominated by songs from their first album, the hyperactive teen insanity of I Should Coco is celebrated in all its glory with a whopping ten songs from this 1995 debut. It makes sense. While it’s ten years since Supergrass originally came to and end, it’s actually twenty-five years since I Should Coco first hit the shelves. And, phew, they include ‘Alright’, too, the crowd going suitably crazy as keyboardist Rob Coombes bangs out the familiar intro of that unforgettable slice of mid 90s pop perfection. I was getting close to 30 by the time this came out and, looking around, I’m about a decade older than most people in the room. So this was not exactly a teen anthem for me but, hey, I’m not too musically snobbish to say it will always be one of my favourites.

Crowd-pleasers from the band’s other albums aren’t neglected though and as well as a good smattering of songs from their second album (‘In It For The Money’, ‘Going Out’, ‘Late in the Day’, ‘Richard III’, ‘Sun Hits the Sky’) there’s still plenty of room for later hits like the introspective ‘Moving’ and the glamtastic ‘Grace’ and, of course, the unmissable ‘Pumping On Your Stereo’ which is the grand finale of the encore.

What do you do a reunion for? In it for the money? Or in it for the adoration? Supergrass probably got a very healthy wodge of the former tonight but they most certainly got a huge room full of the latter as well.

Set-list:

In It for the Money
I’d Like to Know
Mansize Rooster
Mary
Moving
Seen the Light
Time
Sitting Up Straight
Late in the Day
Richard III
Rebel in You
St. Petersburg
Going Out
Lose It
She’s So Loose
Grace
Alright
Sun Hits the Sky
Lenny
Caught by the Fuzz
Strange Ones
Pumping on Your Stereo

supergrass tour

https://www.supergrass.com/

Related reviews:

Album review – Supergrass ‘Live On Other Planets’

Gaz Coombes at ULU 2018
Gaz Coombes at the Roundhouse 2016
Gaz Coombes – Matador
Vangoffey at the Social 2016

Live review: Gaz Coombes at ULU, London 28/2/18

Doing a handful of UK warm-up dates prior to the release of the album ‘World’s Strongest Man’ and a full UK tour in May, I catch up with Gaz Coombes and his band at the old University of London ULU building, now rebranded Student Central.

Stepping out on to a stage so packed out with twinkling retro sound equipment, kitsch standard lamps and vintage keyboards that the uninitiated may have mistaken it for a particularly camp car-boot sale, Coombes is clearly delighted that the crowd have braved the snow and ice to turn out for him.

My fascination with Gaz Coombes began when Supergrass first burst on to the scene in the mid 90s as that cheeky, wacky, slightly zany antidote to Blur and Oasis’s ongoing battle for the crown of Britpop. And since the band’s split in 2010 my fascination has continued as I’ve followed Coombes through his solo career – where he’s just about to release his third album ‘World’s Strongest Man’.

We began to get hints of a more mature, more introspective side to Coombes’ writing with the release of Supergrass’s third album, via tracks like ‘Moving’, and this is very much the path that his solo career has continued along. Coombes has eschewed any temptation to become a one-man Supergrass tribute and, save for the odd rendition from his former band like the aforementioned ‘Moving’, he’s tended to stick resolutely to solo material for his live shows. And, clearly, he’s now getting to the place where he’s got a really strong and growing body of work to draw from. Coombes’ first solo album ‘Here Comes The Bombs’ showed some real promise but was a somewhat austere electronica-influenced affair that took many by surprise. The second, the Mercury prize-nominated ‘Matador’ with its fuller production, beautiful melodies and sensitive song-writing understandably drew considerable praise from many quarters. With Coombes’ third album, however, it may well be that he’s on to something even more special.

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Photo credit: Steve Smith

Tonight’s set-list includes songs from all three albums but, unusually for a live gig promoting any new or soon-to-be-released album, the new songs were amongst the strongest and the most memorable and dare we say it the biggest crowd-pleasers. In terms of highlights tracks from the new album like current single ‘Deep Pockets’ sit really well alongside earlier material from the such as ‘Buffalo’, ‘Hot Fruit’, ‘20/20’ and ‘Matador’. And there’s no risk of austerity in terms of sound on this tour either: we have lush sonic textures on the keys, a captivating rhythm section and a divine-sounding trio of female backing singers supporting Gaz’s unmistakable voice and nifty guitar-playing.

Just as, nearly a quarter of a century ago, Supergrass grabbed my attention because I thought that they were doing something more interesting than either Blur or Oasis at the time, so it seems when it comes to the matter of solo careers, too. I am tempted to conclude that Coombes is doing something more interesting than either Damon Albarn or Noel Gallagher these days and I do think we are going to be in for a real treat when ‘Worlds’ Strongest Man’ is released.

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Photo credit: Tom Rose

http://www.gazcoombes.com/

Related reviews:
Gaz Coombes at the Roundhouse 2016
Gaz Coombes – Matador
Vangoffey at the Social 2016

Vangoffey at The Social, London 14/3/16

Few who were following popular music in the mid 90s will forget Supergrass bursting on to the Britpop scene with Alright. But the band were always a multi-faceted animal. And since they split in 2010 lead vocalist, Gaz Coombes, has clearly carried the flame for the more reflective, soulful side of Supergrass into his deservedly well-received solo career. And the loud, spiky more punkish side of the band looks to have been taken on into bass-player Mick Quinn’s post-Supergrass outfit, the DB Band. But what then of the quirky, zany, wacky, britpoppy side of Supergrass? The side of Supergrass that most of us came across first before we were even aware of any other. Well step forward Danny Goffey. The erstwhile Supergrass drummer has re-emerged as the frontman for Vangoffey. And after a short tour in support of their debut album last year, Goffey and the band are back with a handful of dates showcasing their brand of chirpy, humorous indie pop-rock.

The Social is a long, narrow basement bar in London’s west end with a tiny, tiny stage at the far end. Indeed, it’s quite a cram getting Goffey, bass-player Drew McConnell (of Babyshambles), two guitarists and drummer, James Yates, on that stage. The band launch into Trials of a Modern Man, definitely one of the stand-out tracks from the album and probably the one that most closely channels the spirit of the hook-laden, slighly manic but instantly catchy Britpop-era Supergrass. I absolutely love it.

Race of Life – a funked-up Ian Drury-esque tale of the life of a sperm is less my cup of tea but the Ray Davies-esque Alfie Loves the Birds most certainly is. There’s plenty to enjoy here and Goffey is a witty and inventive songwriter who is more than capable of writing some catchy hooks. In this small but crowded venue the band are very well received. After working their way through all ten tracks on the album there are calls for an encore but that’s our lot. “We haven’t got any more songs yet,” explains Goffey.

I still hold out hope for a fully-fledged Supergrass reuinion at some point. But in the meantime it’s nice to see Danny Goffey come out from behind his drum kit and front a band. You wouldn’t want to see every drummer try this. But Danny Goffey pulls it off – the Phil Collins of Britpop…

Setlist
Trials of a Modern Man
Sucker
You, You, You
Alfie Loves The Birds
Race of Life
Beta Man
Episode
The No. 9
Phil’s Dummy
Spilt Milk

http://www.vangoffey.com/

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Gaz Coombes at The Roundhouse 28/1/16

If the size and prestige of venues says anything about an artist’s career then Gaz Coombes is on an upward curve. After seeing Coombes perform in some iconic venues in the Supergrass days, smallish (and as they say “more intimate”) club gigs have been the order the day for much of his post-Supergrass career thus far. And while those were great shows it’s nice to see him perform to a capacity crowd in Chalk Farm’s infamous Roundhouse tonight for the first in their current In The Round series.

For the first few numbers it’s just Gaz and his guitar on stage. Some beautifully intimate, stripped-back acoustic versions of Oscillate, Hot Fruit, Needle’s Eye and To The Wire from his two solo albums. Then he is joined, not only by his backing band but a full string ensemble. And the stage just fills with sound for a stunning version of Buffalo, the opening track from his latest solo album – the Mercury Prize-nominated Matador. While there’s evidently a certain degree of continuity with some of the more reflective tracks from later-era Supergrass, Coombes’ writing is maturing and tonight’s packed auditorium (not to mention the Mercury Prize nomination, of course) is a sign of the growing recognition of this. We are presented with lush, beautifully instrumented versions of songs from Here Come The Bombs and Matador. Highlights for me included a heartfelt Detroit, a lovely Girl Who Fell To Earth and a fabulous White Noise, probably one of the most Supergrassy songs of his recent career.

Although Coombes has rigorously avoided becoming a one-man Supergrass tribute act, endlessly churning out the back catalogue, he has often treated audiences to one or two renditions of iconic Supergrass material like Moving or Caught By The Fuzz. We get none of that tonight though. But what we do get is a glorious version of David Bowie’s Five Years. We can’t complain at all. The perfect and fitting encore to a stunning evening.

Setlist:
Oscillate
Hot Fruit
Needles Eye
To The Wire
Buffalo
Sleeping Giant
These Days
Detroit
White Noise
Seven Walls
The Girl Who Fell To Earth
20/20
English Rose
Matador
Five Years

http://www.gazcoombes.com/home/#ZIQPwIIF2P4KOtAo.97

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Previous review: Matador album review

Rock: album review – Gaz Coombes ‘Matador’

Released in January 2015 I’ve come late to this but I’ve been following Gaz Coombes’ career pretty much since Supergrass burst on the Britpop scene with Alright in the mid 90s. Matador is Coombes’ third album outside Supergrass. The first, a covers album with Danny Goffey, released just before Supergrass called it a day, had the sound and feel of Supergrass in all but name. His next (and first solo album) Here Comes The Bombs, was a starker and more experimental affair, with Krautrock electronica influences clearly present. Matador continues in that vein to some degree but has a more mainstream feel to it. More accessible certainly but altogether a stronger album with stronger tunes.

It’s mature, quality songwriting. It is unmistakably Gaz Coombes, though, and listerners will recognise many of Coombes’ classic trademarks: reflective, sensitively delivered Bolanesque vocals leading up to frenzied, more manic delivery on the hook lines. Opening track Buffalo is a case in point and wouldn’t sound unfamiliar to anyone acquainted with some of the later era, more reflective Supergrass material. Detroit is another beatiful track in the same vein. The Girl Who Fell To earth with some gentle acoustic guitar, lush instrumentation and lovely vocals is another track I instantly warmed to.

This album is proof that the post-Supegrass Gaz Coombes is making a valid contribution to the UK music scene and it’s little wonder it’s been nominated for this year’s Mercury prize. Will I play Matador as much as play I Should Co-Co, In It For The Money or Life On Other Planets? Probably not. Will I play it lots? Absolutely.

Released: January 2015

http://www.gazcoombes.com/home/#SRhaijYRWdeqyA83.97

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