Archive | Live Reviews

Chuck Prophet – Nottingham Rescue Rooms (February 19, 2017)

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Chuck Prophet – Nottingham Rescue Rooms (February 19, 2017)

Posted on 21 February 2017 by John Haylock

Lip smackin’, hip shakin’, speaker bustin’, rock ‘n’ roll motivatin’, soulsavin’, jive talkin’, fancy shoe wearin’, heart liftin’, mind driftin’, string bendin’, mind sendin’, foot tappin’, hand clappin’… ladies and gentlemen I give you the hardest working man in showbusines – Mr Charles William ‘Chuck’ Prophet.

Fresh from an unexpected appearance on daytime TV politics programme, The Andrew Marr Show, Chuck and his band The Mission Express are here in the UK to save your ragged arse souls and light your blue touch paper.


They are also promoting their excellent new album, Bobby Fuller Died For Your Sins, named after the cult 1960s rock ‘n’ roller. This is Chuck’s umpteenth release or is it fifteenth (I cant quite remember)? It’s fantastic obviously.

Since the break up of the band that made his name, the legends that were Green on Red, Chuck has ploughed the fields of rock ‘n’ roll for you, unearthing musical nuggets and groovy tunes along the way. With Stephanie Finch on keyboards, vocals and inspiration, always there as his constant muse, they travel the globe with a never less than amazing band of musicians to deliver high-octane, crowd-friendly boogie.

They are the tightest but loosest gang of motherfuckers this side of Bobby Fuller’s gravestone.

A roll call of finest moments unfolds including We Got Up and Played, In The Mausoleum and Wish Me Luck, which included a sit down chat with the audience.


Crowd favourite Temple Beautiful goes down a storm, then there’s the irresistable You Did ( Bomp-Shooby Dooby-Bomp) complete with a heart stopping guitar solo.

There’s also choice cuts from the new album, including the title track,  Jesus was a Social Drinker and a tearing up the place Bad Year for Rock ‘n’ Roll.

He even finds time for a Leonard Cohen cover Iodene, from Death of a Ladies Man and a nod to the Bobby Fuller Four themselves with a cover of Let Her Dance.

Two very exciting sweaty hours of rootsy blues sounding like it was fed through torn speaker cabinets and delivered by a band so cool you could almost forgive Americans voting for Trump (but not quite).

We stayed till Chucking out time. Boom and indeed boom.

Words by John Haylock, pictures by Arthur Hughes


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Glastonbury Calling – One Day Festival in Somerset

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Glastonbury Calling – One Day Festival in Somerset

Posted on 14 February 2017 by Joe

Bristol reggae act Laid Blak and the indescribable Flipron are among the acts playing at the second annual Glastonbury Calling one day festival in Glastonbury, Somerset.

This year’s event takes place on February 25th and involves around 40 acts across six venues: The Riflemans, The Hawthorns, The Assembly Rooms, The Market House, The King Arthur and The Bocabar.

Profits from the event will go to community radio station Glastonbury FM.

Glastonbury Calling

Highlight’s include an afternoon set (14:30 -15:15) at the Hawthorns Hotel by Glastonbury based Flipron. Describing them is tricky so here’s our latest stab at it – psychedelic pop band, trapped inside a fairground organ and forced to use the power of punk to fight their way out. Others have settled for the more sober “eccentric English rock”.

Laid Blak (The Bocabar, 22:30-23:30) are another highpoint, with the Bristol band currently one of the most talked about British reggae acts, with support slots for among others, Ed Sheeran, the Wailers and Lee Scratch Perry, under the belts.

Festival organizer and Glastonbury FM presenter Ian Liversidge said: “We want to highlight the variety of great new music from the west and show off the cracking venues in the town and show that the town is always full of great music

“We love the early part of the year as there is so much music coming out and we intend to get a jump on the summer festivals and show it off. This year we have an amazing line up over all of the venues and are chuffed to have the legendary Laid Blak headlining the Bocabar.”

Tickets for Glastonbury Calling are available in advance for £10 from Bristol Ticket Shop, Jaywalk Guitars, The Bocabar and The Hawthorns Hotel, or can be bought for £13 on the day.

For more information about Glastonbury Calling and stage times visit here.


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Ben Watt & Michele Stodart – Nottingham Bodega (Feb 12, 2017)

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Ben Watt & Michele Stodart – Nottingham Bodega (Feb 12, 2017)

Posted on 13 February 2017 by John Haylock

I guess this is what they call intimate, 130 people wrapped up against the bitter cold outside, squeezed into a reverential huddle around a small stage and warmed by flowing ale and some of the most gorgeous tunes I’ve heard for many a month.

Once upon a very different time and place there was a boy girl duo who went by the name of Everything But The Girl. They were utterly sublime and wrote bedsitter soundtracks so laid back as to be invisible. You’ll probably remember Missing with its dance vibe especially.

Ben Watt and Rex

Ben Watt and Rex

But that was a long time ago. One half of the duo, Tracey Thorn, now scribes for The Guardian and has written her obligatory autobiography. Ben Watt, on the other hand continues to record and tour, hence this little soiree in Nottingham.

But before he takes to the stage, we are graced by the presence of Michele Stodart, the Magic Numbers bassist who is carving a name for herself on the Americana circuit and has two solo albums under her belt now.

With just a beautifully strummed acoustic guitar in an all too short a set she takes us down some twilight lit road

Initially she’s a little nervous but soon overcomes any jitters and by her own admission most of the tunes tonight are of the love torn relationship variety from her latest album Pieces.

Tracks Come Back Home, Ain’t No Woman, Will You Wait and Just Anyone Won’t Do are all meticulously executed, with faultless heartbreaking vocals and a deft touch on her guitar.

She really is a superlative artiste. We meet her afterwards and we find gratifyingly that she is as lovely as her songs; a more personable musician you couldn’t find.

Ben Watt is equally as mesmerising. A thoughtful, intense gent in his cap and stubble. He is every inch the troubadour accompanied tonight by the finely bearded Rex on double bass and occasional harmonies.

I knew immediately that we were in for a treat as soon as I heard the slight echo on his guitar, the bass and those lovely vocals it reminded me of the many times I saw the late John Martyn with Danny Thompson. THAT, my friends, is a comparison I don’t often make!

Songs from all stages of his career, from North Marine Drive and 25th December through to the current album Fever Dream, which I consider the highpoint of his songwriting career to date.

Also featured were a few songs from last year’s Hendra, the title track of which Ben described in upsetting detail. He wrote it in response to the death from cancer of his half sister. It was absolutely heartbreaking.

Moving regularly from guitar to keyboards he performed The Levels and a stupendous version of Gradually, New Year of Grace, Spring and Fever Dream.

All this combined for a set permeated with artistry, love and hope.

I was so impressed I bought two of his books as well.

Words by John Haylock, pictures by Arthur Hughes.


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White Buffalo & Jarrod Dickenson– Nottingham (Jan 25, 2017)

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White Buffalo & Jarrod Dickenson– Nottingham (Jan 25, 2017)

Posted on 27 January 2017 by John Haylock

This is not so much a critical review, more an advert for two of the brightest stars of Americana, or whatever the genre is called this week.

This gig at Nottingham’s Rescue Rooms turned out to be the best double bill I’ve witnessed since I saw an unknown John Grant supporting Midlake in Leicester many years ago.

Jarrod Dickenson

Jarrod Dickenson

Beards, everybody has beards, these days and Jarrod Dickenson is no exception, with his tidy and precise one, complete with moustache, giving him the appearance of a very young Loudon Wainwright the third.

Dickenson is from Waco in Texas, with a voice like honey and rum and a precision way with acoustic and electric guitar. The latter particularly was effective on Gold Rush, no not the Neil Young one. His is a tale about “the gold rush but ended up like most songs do being about Wall Street greed,” he tells the crowd.

He’s supported Jools Holland and bizarrely even The Stylistics. Check out his album The Lonesome Traveller, a lovely piece of work and contains Rosalie and a bunch of other love songs tinged with heartburn.

Dickenson is a class act and he’s coming back to the UK in March for a handful of headline dates. Don’t you dare miss him.

White Buffalo

White Buffalo

White Buffalo is the stage name for another bearded troubadour, Jake Smith. He’s a larger than life one-man nuclear powerplant. A big lad with a voice that could kill cattle at 600 paces.

Accompanied by two superb musicians, Matt Lynott on drums, who looks a bit like Dave Gorman in a cowboy hat, and on bass Tommy Andrews, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Holger Czukay from Can.

Together they make a formidable wall of sound, even more remarkable when you consider Jake only sports a violently abused acoustic guitar. But by God does he give it some stick.

Word has travelled fast. Internet word of babble, plus Smith’s contributions to Sons of Anarchy and Californication soundtracks make for a great turnout.

The band respond in kind by giving their all in an exhausting epic set of almost Springsteenesque proportions. This greatest hits set includes Come Join the Murder, Last Call to Heaven, Joe and Jolene and especially Wish it Were True. All were delivered with passion and anger.

So there you go, a double bill of rare quality. I’m still exhausted 24 hours later. Promise me you’ll check these guys out, you won’t regret it, I’m off for another lie down.

Words by John Haylock, pictures by Arthur Hughes


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The Flaming Lips – Manchester Academy (January 22, 2017)


The Flaming Lips – Manchester Academy (January 22, 2017)

Posted on 24 January 2017 by John Haylock

You know what its like, you go for a walk in the woods and fall down that bloody rabbit hole again.

As you fall you remember the last time this happened; you almost became imprisoned by the Red Queen, you know, the one that walks backwards and lives above a kebab shop in Lazytown. Luckily you were saved by a somewhat sweaty Japanese student in a giant black gorilla outfit.


You finally land uncomfortably on a bed of rice and a sea of beer and stumble toward a big cow shed made of drugs and dry roasted nuts. There’s two girls on a stage playing not very good music so you watch a fight and go and look for unicorns.

A wizard with a grey beard appears and you party like it’s 2099, driving an invisible car made of milk chocolate into a cave full of weeping men. A small yellow duck appears on your head, its powers will be revealed later. Steve Coogan laughs and you sing Space Oddity at the top of your voice.


Stars explode and a giant rainbow appears. The wizardy man floats off inside a bubble of love and you solve the Fermi Paradox.

Where are all the aliens? ?

They’re already here.

Look! A man on a somewhat immobile unicorn.

Making contact using variable sound vibrations, The Flaming Lips have a message for humanity. But you are so primitive you cannot understand it. Fortunately that small yellow plastic duck of destiny translates for you and the assembled throng. Sadly no one is listening as everybody is dancing badly to something that sounds like Passover by Joy Division.


The wizardy man makes deep pronouncements. A keyboard blows up and you find the words ‘make it a double please’ coming out of your mouth with increasing regularity.

Vertical curtains of illuminated light send beams of pure joy into the throng. There are cannons. There is a ticker tape supernova.


You’ve seen it all before. You love it. You forget there is a big ginger twat in The Whitehouse. You live briefly in a world of light, love and unity (and shit unicorns).

Do you realize? was so fucking moving. But it always is, just ask Alice.

Words by John Haylock, pictures by Arthur Hughes


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The Pretty Things – The Leicester Musician (Dec 22, 2016)


The Pretty Things – The Leicester Musician (Dec 22, 2016)

Posted on 28 December 2016 by John Haylock

As 2016 draws to an end, a 12-month period in which we have lost so many great artists, it’s only fitting that my final review of the year is spent in the company of the legendary The Pretty Things.

Two members of their current incarnation, guitarist Dick Taylor and vocalist Phil May, were there in the early 1960s, inventing the future.


They broke barriers and in their own sweet way changed the face of music, taking American blues and morphing it into rock ‘n’ roll shapes previously unheard.

Here are two true originators of this music we so love today and were the equals of The Rolling Stones. Indeed Taylor, now 73, started off on bass in a formative version of the Stones.

They recorded the very first concept album S F Sorrow, were always on the cusp of the big time and when Led Zeppelin created their Swansong record label in 1974 The Pretty Things were one of the first bands they signed up.

Sadly, their name is still not particularly household friendly, which is such a shame as tonight’s set illustrates that they had many great songs.

Supplemented nowadays by a superb band of musicians, Charlie Chuck look-a-like Frank Holland on guitar, Jack Greenwood on drums and the looming giant of a man George Perez on bass, they recreate all the almost hits and give their all in a lengthy set which encompasses psychedelia, pop, proper R ‘n’ B and acoustic blues.

A lengthy and exuberant set included SF Sorrow Is Born and the defining pop-psych masterpiece Defecting Grey. The Same Sun, I See You and Mama, Keep Your Big Mouth shut kept the momentum up.

In a beautifully paced show they transitioned seamlessly into their blues mode with versions of Robert Johnson’s Come On In My Kitchen and a version of Little Red Rooster.

Then there’s a nod to Bo Diddley with Mona and You Can’t Judge a Book By Its Cover, with a little bit of Who Do You Love thrown in for good measure.

For the final few lengths they get heavy with Don’t Bring Me Down, a tremendously extended workout of LSD, there was even a drum solo from Jack. I haven’t enjoyed a drum solo since a Talk Talk gig back in 1989. I think I am allergic to drum solos but this was head bogglingly amazing, such stamina and dexterity was a wonder to behold.

Spent and exhausted they finished with Rosalyn.

In another world if circumstances had been only slightly different it would have been The Pretty Things that would have headlined Glastonbury 2013 and not Sir Mick of Jagger.

Oh well it’s only rock n roll.

But I like it, yes I do.

Words by John Haylock, picture by Arthur Hughes


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Primal Scream – Rock City, Nottingham (December 11, 2016)


Primal Scream – Rock City, Nottingham (December 11, 2016)

Posted on 15 December 2016 by John Haylock

I hate Primal Scream, with their dreary posturing pretend rock ‘n’ roll. It’s designed for people who drive a Vauxhall Insignia and think that Later with Jools Holland is the foremost of cutting edge music programming.

Led by the stick insect-like and professional jammy bastard that is Bobby Gillespie, who despite being shit in the Jesus and Mary chain and singing like a wheezing, going down balloon, can still talk the talk, walk the walk and never fails to show everybody how fantastic his album collection is.

So how come this show was the best gig I’ve seen all year?


Let’s look at the evidence. There was a remarkable support band called Bo Ningen, a mysteriously hairy four piece from Japan but who all coalesced in London a few years back. They cook up some intense boil in the bag sonic soup; there are elements of Sonic Youth and Acid Mothers somewhere in there but boy do they take it one step further. Theirs is a gratuitous and glorious overload of a rock racket.

Visually they are compelling. Guitars are mere acrobatic accessories and they sound like Godzilla with a severe migraine destroying Tokyo. Best support band of the year, no question.

As for Primal Scream, they have transformed themselves from fucked up indie wasters into a sleek, silver machine that exudes confidence, power and utter concentrated Rockness!

Tonight Bobby is a serious stubbly grim faced man on a mission. He owns the stage, not an easy thing to pull off when you’re sporting a pink jacket and rubbish trousers.

Guitarist Andrew Innes is a total riff machine. His precision chordage was immense on Loaded and Trippin’ on your love.

At times his playing reminded me of the great Tony Iommi (peace be upon him). The new songs from the fabbo new album Chaosmosis sounded great. None more so than Where the Light Gets In, which is destined to become a classic.

They work through Movin’ On Up, Accelerator and Shoot Speed/Kill Light with irresistible majestic prowess.

Higher Than The Sun, despite a false start got the crowd into gear.

We went crazy apeshit doolally for Swastika Eyes. I expected the roof to levitate by the time they got to Come Together. For Rocks I needed a defibrillator.

The next is a ridiculous statement I know, but the more I think about this the more I’m convinced this was the best ‘rock’ show I’ve personally witnessed at Rock City since Nirvana at the same venue many, many, many years ago.

It pains me to say this but Bobby, ‘I was blind, now I can see, you made a believer out of me’.

By John Haylock


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The Cure – SSE Arena, London ( December 3, 2016)


The Cure – SSE Arena, London ( December 3, 2016)

Posted on 05 December 2016 by John Haylock

Anyone remember The Cure?

They were big in the 1980s, a bit like Duran Duran. But with worse hair and a reputation for depressing songs about photographs and cats.

I like them, I have several of their albums and no less than two cats myself now.

A journey to London to see them seemed like a good idea nine months ago. What I forgot to factor in was 12,500 people also thinking it would be a nice pre-Christmas day out.

What a great thing the London underground is, it can take you to A to B with the minimum of fuss, fellow passengers are so friendly and talkative and the use of an Oyster card makes paying a stress free transaction, and the seats are so spacious and comfortable. I love sarcasm don’t you ?

I have never walked the length of one of the corridors of the huge, pretend Nostromo deep space mining craft (Alien). But the dangerous and lengthy walk to the allotted seating area at the SSE Arena seemed life threateningly perilous. We were assailed by airborne hot dogs as well as tidal waves of overpriced lager and only managed to find our sets by the use of undignified kneeling on the steps and looking with magnifying glasses for microscopic seat numbers.


At 8:15pm we finally squint to see some tiny figures on the horizon, which I am reliably informed is The Cure. There then followed a marathon goth endurance test. Almost three hours of peaks, troughs and horrible guitar solos, but not necessarily in that order.

Robert Smith (aged around 107) has turned into the chap on the Uriah Heep album sleeve ‘Very ‘Eavy, Very ‘Umble’ (that is the last time i’ll ever mention Uriah Heep on this website, promise).

The last time I saw him was as a temporary member in Siouxsie and the Banshees in 1979, a mere callow youth and sadly time has not been kind. Fortunately Smith’s visage is not of great importance, it’s the music we’re here for. But if they do Lovecats I’m leaving.

In a set of no less than thirty two songs there’s something for everyone, including plinkety plonkety nursery rhyme rock such as Close to Me and Why Can’t I Be You

There’s great big rollocking tracks like Push and Never Again and an especially monstrous version of Shake Dog Shake.

There’s the sad, doomed angsty epics  Photos of You and Open. For the tortured souls among us (that’ll be me then ) a terrifying  A Thousand Years, complete with a backdrop of harrowing war images, probably borrowed off Morrissey, and a lengthy and menacing A Forest.

Yet not surprisingly it’s the massive poppy hits like Friday I’m in Love, In Between Days, Caterpillar and Just Like Heaven that get the greatest crowd response.

One new track only, It Can Never Be the Same, which was quite brilliant.

The final flurry of numbers finally get me off my arse: 10.15 Saturday Night. Three Imaginary Boys, a superb Boys Don’t Cry and finally Killing an Arab. This is always a great track and here made even better by being given a totally over the top treatment.

In the end we learn two things.

The Cure are basically music for girls who still believe in the conceit of romantic love and that hot dogs are not aero-dynamically designed to fly in indoor arenas.

Oh! And no Lovecats…result !

By John Haylock



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Eliza Carthy & The Wayward Band – Glee Club, Nottingham (Nov 27)


Eliza Carthy & The Wayward Band – Glee Club, Nottingham (Nov 27)

Posted on 28 November 2016 by Joe

We are in the presence of folk royalty tonight watching Eliza Carthy, the daughter of two legendary pillars of the English folk scene, Martin Carthy and Norma Waterson.

As befits a royal occasion her subjects are many and vociferous, loyal and ready to dance like drunken dervishes.

I counted around 11 in her big band. They were difficult to add up as they were all over the place. How they all managed to get onto the Glee Club stage without major pedestrian congestion I don’t know.


On stage there were cello players, fiddlers, two drummers, a bassist, a lead guitarist and a horn section. It was a remarkable sight and a no less remarkable sound.

Amidst the throng were members of The Availables, Mawkin, The Emily Portman Trio, Blowzabella and the fantastic Sam Sweeney from Bellowhead.

Eliza Carthy got these guys together in 2013 to promote the Wayward Daughter album but such was their chemistry they undertook, collaborated and created the forthcoming album Big Machine. A more appropriate title you’d be hard pressed to find, everything about this tremendous band is big.

It’s a tremendously exciting reinvention of traditional folk, subverted with an energy and brash aesthetic not usually associated with a musical genre more known for its pipe and slippers and a finger in your ear. The word brash comes to mind.


They open with Devil in the Woman, a glorious riot of fiddles and ensemble joy.

Seat belts are on and the set just whizzes by. Gallant Hussar from 2005’s Rough Music was an unexpected joy. There’s time for Ewan MacColl’s Fitters Song and Hug You Like a Mountain by the criminally under rated Rory McLeod.

The new single Fade and Fall was magnificent. At one point Eliza Carthy invites a young chap onstage to do some of that there rapping that the kids do nowadays. He was called D J Dizraeli and helps out on You Know About Me, which offers a rare positive slant on the refugee crisis.

The encore is wild. A rousing version of the Cobblers Hornpipe (I kid you not) and the band are bouncing around and obviously having so much fun it’s ridiculously infectious. At the end an exhausted Eliza remarks on her ample bosom ‘best not do any more, if these things go off I’ve got three weeks washing in here’.

The big machine, well oiled, steaming and so hot you’ll need gloves.

Support tonight came from Eliza’s cousin Marry Waterson, the daughter of the late Lal Waterson. Marry is joined by David A Jaycock, a wonderfully sublime musician and vocalist with the deftest of acoustic guitar touches.

Marry’s voice is a more traditional one, deep, resonant and beguiling. They perform tracks from their new highly regarded album Two Wolves. Very nice it was too and so nice to hear The Watersons’ classic song Some Old Salty as the encore.

 Words by John Haylock, pictures by Arthur Hughes.

For more information about Eliza Carthy click here.


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The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing – Rescue Rooms, Nottingham (Nov 21, 2016)

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The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing – Rescue Rooms, Nottingham (Nov 21, 2016)

Posted on 23 November 2016 by John Haylock

Warning contains plot spoilers. If you only see one Victorian themed punk band this century make sure it’s The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing, whose whole repertoire consists of a set of hard core punk tunes (with added Cockney knees up) all based around Victorian England.

Their flawless execution makes them world leaders of what is commonly known as Steampunk, a catch all title that includes literature, art, and fashion (goggles an optional extra).


This is the third time we have seen them. On previous occasions we watched them play to a bunch of scientifically bemused kids in the children’s field at the Greenman Festival. Then to a mad drunk crowd at Bearded Theory Festival.

But this was the first time we have caught them in a small, intimate venue and what a difference it was. We were treated to a more expansive set list and a great sound (shout out to the Rescue Rooms mixing desk crew!).

Visually arresting guitarist and very funny stand up comedian Andrew O’Neill looks more rock ‘n’ roll than Guns ‘n’ Roses and Van Halen combined.

The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing bassist Marc Burrows on the other hand is either very fit or on steroids. He jumps around like a bloody madman, bashing out some mighty rumbling bass riffs. The drummer Jez Miller keeps a low profile but maintains the engine room perfectly. He’s at the back probably multi-tasking and doing a sudoku puzzle.


Andy Heintz is the focal point and probably the most heavily bearded person in the room (apart from the woman to my left). With his long black coat, top hat and cane (not to mention the saw) he’s like a demonic grizzled and slightly pervy ringmaster in a punk rock circus.

Their lyrics are just so inspired. You don’t know whether to laugh or headbang (so I do both).

There are songs about inadequate sewerage systems, kids up chimneys, Isambard Kingdom Brunel and George Stephenson and yet amidst all the surreal shenanigans there is pathos and sadness tucked away inside numbers like Poor Georgie, How I became an Orphan and the brilliant This House is Not Haunted.

As part of the encore The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing cover The Kinks Victoria, a song so blindingly fucking obvious it went straight over my head.

You might think its all a bit of a novelty act, but the underlying themes of some of these songs still prevail: poverty, illness, class warfare and moronic, monarchist flag waving twats. There are resonances and echoes down the ages.

At times it was like a history lessons with guitars, or The Time Team on acid/gin. For example, half way through the set Marc performs one of his tunes called Princess Charlotte. I learnt more listening to that than in five years at secondary school. Hey! educational punk rock is the future.

What did the Victorians ever do for us? Apart from subjugate large swathes of the sub continent, popularise cock-rings and preside over the emergent industrial revolution, they inadvertently created one of the most innovative bands on the circuit.

Words by John Haylock, pictures by Arthur Hughes.


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