Sunday, 3 December 2017

The Moonlandingz at Bristol Trinity

Sometimes, seeing a band with no prior knowledge or preconceptions can be a disappointment and a waste of money... but sometimes, happily, it can be one of the best gigs in years, which was the case with The Moonlandingz last week in Bristol.
My mate Glenn had a spare ticket for this gig and recommended the band so I jumped in the car with Glenn, Gail and, er, Barry ( possibly ) and his dog ( it's some indication of my age that I can't remember this guy's name a week later... ) and headed down to Bristol. Specifically to the Trinity Centre, an old converted church that I'd strangely never visited before, but which  -  after much frustrating searching for a parking space  -  turned out to be a really cool venue.
Support came from a young band called Sweat who played some very upbeat, pop-inflected indie. Although still at the "talking to your mates in the audience" stage and employing a little too much ill-advised autotune they had a great sound and are certainly a band to watch.
And then The Moonlandingz landed...
Apparently The Moonlandingz were a "fictional" band, created for some kind of art project involving Sean Lennon, who enjoyed being together so much that they went on to become a "real" band and actually put out records, tour and do the other things that real bands do. ( Which probably accounts for the late start of their set... ) Well they certainly seemed ( sur )real on the night...

They played a frenzied mixture of electro pop, psychedelia and rock 'n' roll, blurring genres right left and centre and kicking up a hell of a racket in the process. Front man Lias Saoudi wandered onto the stage carrying a bottle of wine and wearing what looked like his dad's old suit from the 1970s and then proceeded to give one of the most deranged performances I've seen in an age. After the first, relatively low-key, song the band launched into the sky-scraping Black Hanz and the gig took off like an electrobilly rocket bound for the Planet Gonzo. Shaking, twitching, screaming and bouncing around the stage, Lias stripped his rail-thin torso bare ( much to the delight of many in the audience ) and reminded us all how exciting a proper rock star can still be in this age of bland, corporate "acts".
Behind all this lunacy the band were super tight  -  the bassist was the spitting image of a younger Bill Bailey and was cool as frack, the keyboard player contributed some sonorous vocals as well as some cosmic sounds maaan, while the perma-pouting guitarist Mairead O'Connor was a fretboard goddess. And the drummer was a drummer. Actually he was pretty bloody good too.
Amongst the highlights were the Glam stomp of Vessels, the Cramps-gone-Kraftwerk of Glory Hole and the twisted singalong pop of The Rabies Are Back. At one point the bass guitar died and had to be replaced, prompting Lias to lead the band and the audience in an acapella folk song about "shovelling shite"  -  I remarked to Glenn that, alone in this crowd of urban hipsters, I was probably the only person with actual shite-shovelling experience.
For the epic Velvets-referencing, girl-group-gone-bad ballad The Strangle Of Anna, Lias invited half of the female population of Bristol onstage to sing along with him. On record the vocals are handled by the awesome Rebecca Taylor from Slow Club ( it's the Sheffield connection ) and the ladies who filled in for her weren't quite up to her vocal standard but had great fun none the less, as pictures show. The quietly fuming security bloke at the side of the stage wasn't having so much fun...

All too soon we were told "you won't like it but this is our last song" and, after an insane Man In Me Lyfe with Lias virtually bellowing his lungs out onto the stage and the crowd going equally nuts, the short but sweet 50 minute set was over with no encore. Talk about leaving 'em wanting more!
Without a doubt one of the best gigs of the year and that ain't no fiction...


Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Bronze Age Beauties - Sorcerers, Spies and the Supernatural

I haven't posted anything about comics here for a while ( in fact, I haven't posted much full stop ) so I thought I'd share a few recent-ish purchases with you, Dear Readers. ( See, I still kid myself that people actually read this 'ere blog... )
We'll start with Doctor Strange's last appearance in Marvel Premiere from March 1974, just before the Sorcerer Supreme regained his own comic book. This is the finale of the Cagliostro / Sise-Neg / Genesis epic by the titanic team of Steve Engelhart and Frank Brunner.
Doc and arch nemesis Baron Mordo are on a mind-bending trip back in time with the futuristic magician Cagliostro ( aka Sise-Neg ) who is absorbing magical energy as he goes, becoming stronger all the time, with the ultimate ambition of arriving at the beginning of the universe and becoming God. A very cosmic, quintessentially 1970s story which would probably have been unthinkable a decade before under the then restrictions of the Comics Code... or indeed a decade later when the so-called Moral Majority were making their censorious presence known in the USA. This is a fine example of Bronze Age Marvel at its peak with plenty of Engelhart's philosphical musings amidst all the psychedelic action and some beautiful artwork from Brunner and inker Dick Giordano...
And, for a change of pace, next are a couple of issues of Marvel's most successful entry into the martial arts craze The Hands Of Shang-Chi, Master Of Kung Fu  -  or MOKF for short...
Issue 28 ( May 1975 ) has a striking ( literally! ) Gil Kane cover but unfortunately the interior artwork is by a committee of second-tier artists, due of course to the ever present Dreaded Deadline Doom which affected so many Marvel Comics of the time. Luckily the story by MOKF stalwart Doug Moench makes up for the weak artwork, giving us insights into Shang-Chi's past and his relationship with his devious half-sister Fah Lo Suee...
The next issue sees the series back on track with the return of regular artist Paul Gulacy and a change in direction as the strip becomes more espionage-based and less about Shang's war with his father, the Devil Doctor himself, Fu Manchu.This is the point at which Gulacy's artwork goes full Steranko and also, seemingly, full Bond  -  secret bases, evil masterminds and glamorous women all become mainstays of the series from here on in...
Incidentally, both of the covers of these two issues depict scenes that don't actually happen in the comics themselves  -  par for the course for the times, but at least they're eye-catching, exciting images that almost command you to hand over your money and buy the damn things...
As a contrast to all that Marvel-ous action here's a moody masterpiece by the great Neal Adams for DC's Phantom Stranger no. 16, Nov-Dec 1971. A classic example of the "clutching hand" trope, this is a restrained but still effective image with Adams' flair for design in evidence. ( Notice the Stranger's shadow looming across the logo. ) The interior is nothing too special, unfortunately. The lead story has some nice Jim Aparo artwork but a fairly humdrum plot, and there are a couple of back-up strips  -  a Doctor Thirteen tale by Len Wein and Tony DeZuniga and a Mark Merlin reprint from the '50s  -  neither of which start the pulse racing.
Over at Charlton Comics we find Ghostly Haunts no. 31, April 1973. Although not one of the best examples of Charlton's horror comics it's a fun issue with some typically idiosyncratic artwork from Don Perlin, Steve Ditko and Jack Abel. The cover's by Abel too and is a beauty  -  check out that eyeball on the giant squid thing! And isn't "Sewer Patrol" a job we've all wanted at one time or another? No? Just me then...
Finally, the pick of the bunch for me: Haunted Love no. 6 from October 1974. This short-lived excursion into Gothic romance is always difficult to track down so I was pleased to pick up this issue.  ( I actually bought the two Charltons and the Phantom Stranger for £1.50 each in a junk shop in St. Ives. ) The main draw was of course the fantastic cover by that madman Tom Sutton  -  very spooky! The witch alone is enough to give you the cold sweats...
Sutton illustrates the main story that this cover is based on and it's a suitably overwrought tale of cursed love in Fin De Siecle Paris, with the occasional nod to Aubrey Beardsley  -  great stuff!
And here's the Wuthering Heights-esque corner box by the stupendously talented Joe Staton...

Right, I'll have to go now  -  I need to read some comics...

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Chuck Mosley


Very sad today to hear of the passing of former Faith No More vocalist Chuck Mosley. He was one of the most memorable front men I've ever seen, a ball of energy and passion. Faith No More at the Bristol Bierkeller back in the late '80s was one of my all-time top 10 gigs. And here's a link to one of my old Favourite Gig Fridays posts about that self-same night.
Strangely enough, in the last couple of days I've been playing FNM's fantastic second album Introduce Yourself on repeat in my car, thinking about what an idiosyncratic, compelling vocalist he was, not realising he had passed away. RIP Chuck...


Sunday, 5 November 2017

Trapped In A Cult

A few weeks back I finally decided enough was enough and dropped out of society to join a mysterious cult. Well, only for about two hours on a Sunday afternoon...
This was actually my debut as an extra in the video for the mighty Borrowed Time's new song Trapped In A Cult. Here are my fellow cult members above. ( I'm the one flicking "Peace" signs... I think... )
I turned up at Two Rivers Studios in Cheltenham for my indoctrination into the cult and instantly found myself on bubble-blowing duties. ( Please try not to think of that outrageous old Michael Jackson joke at this point. ) Yes, I had to stand in front of the band while they were filming a "psychedelic" middle-eight and blow bubbles from one of those cheap kids' bubble-blowers until I was blue in the face. All for about 1/2 a second of screen-time :-)
Here are four of the 5 BT boys in full hippie regalia, going for a Bohemian Rhapsody vibe:
The band had by this point finished their filming ( they'd been there all day ) and now it was time for the cult to assemble. Drummer Marcus assumed the role of cult leader and stood on the stage gesticulating ( he's that kind of bloke ) while us cultists marched forwards and reached out to our leader as if he were the messiah, and not just a very naughty boy. The director filmed various different takes of this from many different angles and then filmed us miming the letters "C -U -L -T" like some kind of Punk Rock Village People. It was all good cult-y fun. Finally Marcus put his hippie rags back on and surrounded himself with groupies. It's hard work being a revered leader...
And here are two fully paid-up cult members for life, the lovely Carol and superstar Chinese Burn bassist Ed...
It was great fun being a cult member for an afternoon and interesting to see behind the scenes of a video shoot. And below is the finished article which I think is pretty bloody good. ( If you squint really hard you can see me in the centre of the screen around the 1:36 mark, reaching up for absolution from my guru... )


Monday, 25 September 2017

Super... Boy?

This young man turns 18 today ( the one on the right )

Happy Birthday James! Love from Mum, Dad, Sophie, Hero and Jasper xx

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Vintage Glamour

Because the world could do with some more beauty at the moment...

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