Friday, 29 October 2010

Bells catalogue

From good old FlatEric...

Who remembers the Bells catalogue? As a kid I used to send off for these and wear them out thumbing through them :-)

Page 24 - look at the bottom right hand corner - that was the first electric guitar I ever owned! My Mum and Dad helped me buy it when I was 12.

Les Paul gold top deluxe for £239 anyone!! Or a Black Custom - like mine at the top of the picture here... yours for £389!!! Although you had to pay £18.90 for a hard case!


Sunday, 24 October 2010

Lamb & Flag gig

Well I throughly enjoyed the Lamb & Flag gig yesterday.

We (that is Mrs F, Daughter-of-Furtheron and I) made our way up to London on the train and met up with my brother, his wife and daughter for a meal before heading to the venue. By the end of the meal I was into the usual pre-gig nerves which I think Mrs F could easily spot - I had been talking with my brother about the Grand Prix and other stuff but slowly started to shut down. This is my way a bit before any gig - I get to the point of wanting to a) get to the venue to check all is ok b) get on stage and get it over with!

Funny isn't it I really want to play live to get my stuff heard by people and I do genuinely enjoy it once I'm playing but before hand that day all the "Why on earth did I agree to this?", "It'll be crap", "I'll be booed off" etc. thoughts can't help but invade the brain. I've read several autobiographies of other performers who have similar issues, odd we want to do it in the first place isn't it?

Anyway - the venue is really nice - a typical old Victorian type London pub right in the heart of the West End, James Street just off Oxford Street very near Bond Street tube station. The acoustic night is held in the upstairs room which is a nice size and a really good venue, it's only disadvantage is that people have to head back downstairs to get drinks but it's no real issue. There was quiet a packed crowd. There were three solo acts and two duets on last night. Given the trek back to Kent we couldn't stay all the way through unfortunately but what we heard was really good. A great place for some acoustic showcasing if people have new, different material they'd like to try out.

Anyway I was on second on the bill between 8:00 and 8:30, I did a set of almost totally original material - at Mrs F's insistence I slipped in a cover of Phil Campbell's No Love Songs towards the end dropping a song calls Strength of Their Hearts I've yet to perform live out to make way for it. Several new songs got their live debuts, Summertime, Running in the Shadows (my solo acoustic version is somewhat different from the recorded one) and Everyday being examples.

I felt my set went down pretty well, my daughter commented on several people were "nodding and singing along" and Pete McDonnell, who is one of the organizers of these evenings, came up to me after the set and as we left and was keen to offer me some more slots in the New Year. So all in all that is really good, I look forward to playing there again and now it's a venue "under my belt", as it were, there is a chance the pre-show nerves will be less the next time :-)

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Gig this Saturday - Lamb and Flag Jame Street

I'm still in decorating mode... we have a big open plan house so once you start in the dining room you have to continue into the lounge, then the stairwell then the upstairs landing... you get the picture in the end you've pretty much decorated the majority of the house! Well you've painted at least one side of every single door in the place! Anyway the end is in sight, I've only the paper to hang on the landing now and then next week a friend is coming to do the stairwell - I haven't the right ladders etc. to hang wallpaper in a stairwell - plus Mrs F didn't trust me up a ladder with my vertigo :-)

Anyway - as a diversion I'm playing a 30 min acoustic set (all original material!) at the Lamb and Flag 24 James Street. It is just north of Oxford Street very close to Bond Street tube station. If you are at a loss or in the area come along - it kicks off about 7:30 and I'm on sometime between 8 and 9 I believe.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Gig Review - Joe Bonamassa Folkestone

Last night I went to Folkestone to see Joe Bonamassa. I went with my brother, it's been years since we went to a gig together but it was just like the old days when as teenagers we went to loads together and met a couple of friends in the queue just before the doors open.

Mr Bonamassa admitted he'd never heard of Folkestone and was confused by the venue. The Leas Cliff Hall is built, as its name implies, on a cliff overlooking the channel - on a clear day you can see to France from the roof. Now since it is built on a cliff you enter at the roof of the building and there is a little building above ground as you approach the top of the cliff... see the photo below. So Joe was looking at this little building thinking "And you are going to get 1500 people in that!".

To the gig - no support and Joe hit the stage just before 8pm and left just after 10pm. 2 solid hours with now breaks, he hardly spoke at all between numbers so in terms of value for money cannot be faulted at all. He was brilliant - he is one of the finest blues-rock guitarists around without any doubt and a good vocalist and show man to boot. My brother and I commented that it is all him the whole show - i.e. you just watch him, the band more the competently support him but he is the show.

He ended up the main set with Mountain Time which is one of my favourites of his and it was just brilliantly done - I think a woman just along from me was wiping her eyes.

Throughly great night out. If you don't know him check him out and if you get the chance go see him live.

For the guitar anoraks he used a lot my list from memory is
  • Dark Sunburst Bonamassa Les Paul
  • Blue Sunburst Bonamassa Les Paul
  • Gold top Bonamassa Les Paul (plastic h/w changed from stock black to more standard style cream
  • 2 cherry sunburst Les Paul Standards (one his so called "Gary Moore" guitar)
  • Musicman Albert Lee three humbucker, rosewood necked guitar
  • A green sunburst Musicman Luke model
  • Acoustic - not a Yamaha and sorry for once I didn't know... I think maybe a Yairi as it had a split bridge like I've seen on them and diagonal inlayes on the headstock, again I think I've seen Yairi's like that

Post publish note... thanks to Richard for pointing out my missing guitars...
  • Gibson Korina Flying V (58 model)
  • Ibanez 70s destroyer - i.e. Korina Explorer copy

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Gig Reviews - Supertramp The O2 and Mumford & Sons Hammersmith Apollo

In the middle of a bit of a gig fest at the moment... 3 gigs in 4 days! I finish off with Joe Bonamassa at Folkestone tonight but here are my reviews of the first two...

Supertramp - The O2

This was billed at the 70 - 10 All the Hits and More tour. 70 - 10? For those that don't know Supertramp formed in 1970 so this year is their 40th anniversary. It has been some years since they toured and to be frank I thought that Rick Davies had had enough and was happy to put his feet up in retirement living out his days in the USA. Luckily not... some context... Supertramp were a hugely important band for me, in 1974 I heard Dreamer on the radio and was like - who/what was that? They were one of the first bands I discovered for myself and got into rather than others leading me to them if you see what I mean. Crime of the Century was a stunning album I thought, and still do. The opening harmonica of School through to the dying chords of the title track it is just brilliant. However in my friends I was really the only 'tramp fan so I never got to see them live when younger, BBC sight and sound etc. appearances excepted. Roger Hodgeson (the other founder member who made it to the big times with the band) left in 1982 after the Famous Last Words album. So the band is not what it was in it's heyday. That all said what of the gig?

Brilliant. Okay these songs mean a lot to me, they are part of my growing up etc. but the musicianship on display was top drawer. They did play all the hits and more, the leaning was, not surprisingly more towards the Rick Davies side of the recorded record but Hodgesons big ones, Logical Song, Dreamer, Give a Little Bit etc. were capably handled but a couple of additional singers - esp Bob Siebenberg's (drummer) son Jesse.

They played a good part of the Crime album which really pleased me - School being the start of the encore set.

So finally I got to see one of my fav bands of all time and I'm so pleased I did as this may well be the final time as Mr Davies isn't far off 70 now and no doubt doesn't really need the cash I suspect. Roger Hodgeson is touring next year and has been vocal that the old Supertramp experience is captured in his solo gigs... maybe but frankly this gig was as good as Supertramp can be in my opinion. Rick Davies might have an idiosyncratic singing style at times but that is all part of it really - listen to Paris (live album just after Breakfast in America) and you'll see what I mean.

Mumford and Sons - Hammersmith Apollo

From the old to the new, just like that! If you are not yet familiar with Mumford and Sons do yourself a favour and search them out. They are a cross over folk band with catchy tunes, interesting lyrics and brilliant vocal arrangements to complement the well constructed instrumentation.

After two support acts they played an energetic 1 and a half hour set. Now these guys might be quiet new to this but their live act is really top notch. They are very very tight as a band, the vocal harmonies were especially very impressive - there are many bigger name acts who I've heard live on TV etc. who could learn a lot from these lads. They added to their four piece set up with a three piece brass section and a celloist on a couple of tracks.

The multi-instrumental nature of the members shown through with guitar, banjo, drums, bass, mandolin etc. all being swapped about between numbers. Again hugely impressive.

The new songs they played bode well for the new album they are soon to start recording, I think they should not suffer with a poor second album based on that evidence.

During the encores they came out from behind the microphones and played a totally acoustic number - no amps or anything. Brave in any sized venue but the Apollo is hardly small and doing that as well as they did was one of the highlights.

They all hail from Fulham so Hammersmith was a bit of a home coming from them and playing such a well know venue as headliners was clearly very emotional for them, brilliant to see them so wrapped in the emotion of it all.

Finally a quick note on the support acts for Mumford and Sons... well one in particular Matthew and The Atlas - we got there just in time to see them take the stage and we were all blown away by them, my daughter in particular. So a little like Mumford and Sons but more folky perhaps, touches of 70s Brit folk in there too a la John Martyn and others. Really well worth checking out, they have an ep available on Spotify and a new one to be released in November.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Book Review - The Messiah Secret by James Becker

Now if you like modern globe trotting ancient relic hunting thrillers ... this is quiet a good one.

The scene is set by the prologue that indicates nearly 2000 years ago a bunch of pretty hard men go through a lot to conceal something in a pretty desolate location, but we don't know what, where or why.

Fast forward to the 21st century and an old British stately home owner is being tortured to give some information he doesn't have about something his father is supposed to have been searching for.

Thus starts the romp. Three protagonists are chasing the relic (whatever it is), one is a British Museum worker and her policeman ex-husband, the second is a very very nasty man - i.e. the one who tortures our home owner and a USA multi-millionaire.

So they shoot off here and there in the world and what they are searching sort of changes as well as you follow more the English couple as they try to catch up and over take the others searching for the relic.

Some bits totally unbelievable - others not so... not a bad read I found.