Tuesday, November 12, 2019

The Raincoats at EartH, Hackney on Sunday Night

It's almost impossible to describe the atmosphere at the gig on Saturday. The venue, which holds 1000 people, was packed with people of all ages, genders and cultures, all come out to support the anniversary of the first Raincoats album.
The venue looks like something from the set of Metropolis: cavernous, grey, with formal-looking animal panels on the ceiling, massive abstract wrought-iron panels on the walls at the back, a huge PA rig, and vast stylised lights that look like old-fashioned X-Ray machines.
Tiny Shirley appeared on the stage to introduce the gigs, and soon Gina, Ana, Anne and their guest drummer arrived on stage to play through the entire album as the first part of the evening. From where we were sitting the sound was odd, but the spirit was there and the songs came across beautifully. There was a VIP area down the front where we could have sat, but up on the football terraces (wooden steps where cinema seats had once been) you got a good view and also got to sit next to Karina and Andy. I suppose I thought I would be able to catch up with people at the after party but that was not to be (more about that later).
There was lots of history there: Vicky was in the audience and Lora Logic was invited on stage to play. Tall, elegant and note-perfect, she triggered quite an emotional response from the audience (including me: such a long tine since interviewing her for the book, when more people were alive and I suppose I thought there would be more of us around to celebrate this moment).
The first of the guests was Green from Scritti Politti, aided and abetted by Rhodri Marsden, the world's most session musician for the simple reason that he plays everything like he means it. Green's voice remains simply divine and this was a wonderful surprise, as was the next guest band, Big Joanie playing seated and semi-acoustic. The simplicity of their delivery came across really well; I'd never seen them live and I thought they were fantastic. They were well-rehearsed, they have great songs and a sense of humility that is really refreshing (they thanked The Raincoats for inspiration), in a world full of music-school arrogance. Brilliant.
The second Raincoats set was completely informal and released the audience from their tiered seating: there was a flood to the front of the theatre. Honey Birch joined the group for a new song called 57 Ways To Die, employed for her whistling skills; Ana took to the mini synthesiser, and Anne continued her multi tasking as guitarist, violin player and additional vocalist (what a complete asset to the group she is). Despite the audience's enthusiasm, the gig had run over time and there was no encore.
What a great atmosphere!
I missed the last train home, and have rediscovered the plethora of back streets in north London and Barnet on a freezing cold rattly little bus in the depths of the night: but it was all worth it!

Friday, November 08, 2019

All I Want Is The Sun To Shine For You


And I DJ-ed at the after party at Soho Radio!

Gina Birch: 'I'm Glad I'm me Today'

This is my favourite song that Gina has written. She was in excellent voice last weekend at the Doc'n'Roll screening of her films at the ICA. Lucy O'Brien did the Q &A, and was well-prepared as always to bring the best out of the conversations they had between films.
The films were shown in three sections, and the ones that I liked best were the New Order video that featured Jane Horrocks lugging an ever-growing suitcase, puffing and panting through rough landscapes, finally climbing into it when it got too large to carry any more; and the short film Jenny about a shoe-shop assistant's longing for fame and acclaim, and eventual fear of taking the opportunity when it arrived, which was particularly poignant given the context of Gina's life trajectory. There is such a thing as the wrong kind of fame, and Gina definitely has achieved the right kind. The final section showed some of her paintings, which deal uncompromisingly with rape and male power. The whole evening was intensely moving and greatly appreciated by the audience.
We loved it all, Gina.

Monday's Mood

More postings coming including Gina's film screening last Saturday.
I have been working like crazy at the University of the East this week....
I found this on my computer when I was testing some new (second hand, but utterly fabulous) headphones.
Good track for a Friday?

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

The Lovely Basement in Easton, Bristol

Somehow I'll catch up with what went on at the weekend...
Here's a little video of the Lovely Basement on Friday. Such songs! They played a particular beautiful new one about Lake Ontario where the twin guitars spoke to each other in a perfectly... well, lovely way. The bass player's ten year old daughter helped out on percussion (you might see her with her pineapple shaker in the shadows).
Thanks for coming along Rocker, Mark Wainwright and Tina from the Brighton punk scene (we haven't seen each other for 30 years) who looks about a year older than the last time we saw each other. And thank you to the couple who gave me a lift back into Bristol- I'd got lost on the way there after receiving directions from a woman who thought left was right, a man who thought a flat road was a hill, and a phone satnav that got even more lost than I was.
It was nice to play Big Brother Is Watching You as an encore, in response to The Lovely Basement's social media song. I haven't played that one for a while.
Big luv to The Lovely Basement for inviting me over!
The fairy lights around the microphone stands were perfect.

Friday, November 01, 2019


I discovered that my turntable plays too fast.
Big thanks to Richard for calibrating his, and testing the Pea Soup test pressing!
It's gone into production.
Stupidly, I bought a red ink pad for the rubber stamps, and will have to get another one.
Turntables... on the list to get a new one. My playing system is quirky to say the least.
Turntable line into old CD/cassette player, put on top of emptied kitchen cupboards to act as bass bins. The actual sound is great (so different to putting the player on top of the fridge) but the speed, not so great.
On the list.
Everything is kept in the chest of drawers until the need arises: socks, microphones, jumpers, leads, pop shield, interfaces, turntable, trousers.
I'm surprised the moths have managed to find anywhere to rest their dusty little silver heads, and indeed there are less and less of them as time passes.
Time passes: yes, just waiting to leave for Bristol. No spare arms for an umbrella, so it's going to be a wet journey.
Luckily, skin is a waterproof layer and my singing won't get wet.

S* L*ng Br*ns*n!

Getting his ideas off the ground again, this is dedicated to the eternal V*rgin and his team of spacetronauts. I will play it tonight!

Bristol Tonight!

Bristol's gig tonight is at the invitation of The Lovely Basement, songsmiths extraordinaire, upstairs at The Greenbank Pub, Easton. Hope to see all you Brissols there!

Thursday, October 31, 2019


Actually, I'm very happy because so many of the students I'm teaching have found work placements.
Yes, extremely happy!😀


I'm trying to convince myself (again) that losing one earring doesn't matter.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019


There's a new song on the way, to begin new sets with next year.
I had a great idea for the chorus- then realised I'd used that melody already.
Ha ha!
It's all the more fun to dodge around that and find something different.
What am I doing at the bottom of a well though?
That's where the lyrics have gone.
I'll listen to the echoes for the answer.

Friday at The Greenbank, Easton, Bristol

I will be playing in Bristol this Friday with The Lovely Basement at The Greenbank Pub in Bristol.
They are a great band and I might even play some new songs. Upstairs, from 8 p.m.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019


I scheduled a tutorial for Dave yesterday.
I asked and asked, but he never piped up.
It turned out that there is no Dave in the class.
I must have misread the class list, but I like the idea of an invisible student and I will continue to teach him for the rest of the year.
Every University needs a Dave!