Thursday, September 28, 2006

Hello, London...

Coming soon, to a music venue (possibly, sorrily) near you... (Well - The Dignity, in Finchley, this Sunday; Storm, off Leicester Square, October 18...): someone who has the audacity to inflict such newly-polished-off songs as contain the following, feeble (first-draft) lyrics...

For once in my lifetime
I'm driving it right
Slowing down for the speed cameras
And the traffic lights
Changing gears, and oh-so-steady schlepping
All the way from Gunnersbury to Epping

Any stretch can do it
Inspire that special feeling
From Barking mad
To sexual Ealing
My Henlys Corner "naked lady" lover
Points to Ikea one way, and Ikea the other

Hello, how are you, and how's tricks?
Everybody can get their kicks
On the A 4 0 6.....

Left on the highway
Clothes from either sex
Who may lose their heads
And who lose their keks
I drive over a hat, boot, shirt and skirt
How they got there? I guess it must have hurt

See the Neasden Temple
It stands out just a tad
By the Park Royal Estate -
Guess it doesn't look too bad
The Dollis Brook leads to the River Lea
Sid and Doris Bonkers, and Ron Knee

Hello, how are you, and how's tricks?
Everybody can get their kicks
On the A 4 0 6.....

Ring-a-ring-a-ringway
A mini-M25
A 26-mile car park
Makes you glad to learn to drive
Clock the Clockhouse, where John Lennon stood
But now that Beatle's flown, Norwegian wood

I pity the people
Who step outside their gate
To find the rush-hour rushing
9am to 8
The flower-sellers, setting out their stall
Yet never selling one, let alone them all

Hello, how are you, and how's tricks?
Everybody can get their kicks
On the A 4 0 6.....

The Ace Cafe's still serving
Any passing Mod
Or greasy teenage hipster
Who talks about 'The Quad'
Their scooters rattle and their trousers fray
But Be-right-on couldn't seem more far away

Every bulletin talks of
A jam at Charlie Brown's
Well, you deserve what you get
Straying anywhere near Hackney Downs
I'd rather take the turning for White Hart Lane
The Harem Dine'n'Dance is tempting again

Hello, how are you, and how's tricks?
Everybody can get their kicks
On the A 4 0 6.....

Keep your Peripherique
Going round gay Paree
'Cos hang on, Hanger Lane
Well, it does it for me
But the best thing the North Circular might give ya
It'll go so far
But it won't go south of the river...

Hello, how are you, and how's tricks?
Everybody can get their kicks
On the A 4 0 6.....

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

"You spoilt the game..."

Hmm, apologies for this self-absorption, but while looking up my old review of the cheery Chas and Dave at the Worthing Pavilion a few years ago, I came across this one of Steve Harley at the same oh-so-rock'n'roll venue, and will repeat it here just to remind myself of the crushing disappointment felt at the performance, the person...

In the dark, on-stage, no one can be quite sure whether you’re being frivolous or furious.
“I don’t mind. Every other date on the tour sold out”, Steve Harley frowned at the one-third-filled Worthing Pavilion, before abandoning the next song mid-way through in “delirious” laughter at such a poor turnout.
At times he chucklingly claimed to be indulging in “end of the pier” high spirits, but there were uncomfortable moments when he seemed more bristling than bantering.
Gone was the attractively cocky self-assurance familiar to viewers of 'Top Of The Pops 2' or other nostalgia shows which rerun the Seventies footage of Harley bare-chested beneath a leather jacket, nonchalantly chewing gum while half-singing, half-speaking his most famous song.
In its place was a ponderous self-satisfaction and off-putting gracelessness as he delivered rambling rants against easy targets such as Hello! magazine, reality TV, the singles chart and Kerry McFadden.
While the swaggering, still-handsome Harley’s cheekboness have aged well, many of his best-known hits have not.
All that’s more embarrassing than lumbering melodramas such as ‘Sebastian’ and ‘Riding The Waves (For Sylvia Plath)’ is the smug pride obviously taken by Harley - eyes clenched shut, head nodding earnestly - in their supposed intensity.
Never the most expressive of vocalists, too many songs sounded like dirges, dragged along by his rasping like a Cockney Bob Dylan.
Curiously, his speaking voice - while struggling with Rs, as in his singing delivery - veered insincerely between actorly RP and transatlantic drawl.
He was much more entertaining when he and his nifty acoustic band delivered tight, chirpy folk-pop fare such as 'Mr Soft' and 'I Believe (Love’s A Prima Donna)'.
Oh, and some obscure little ditty called ‘Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me)', predictably saved until the end of the set and predictably enjoyable.
Sadly, however, the lyrics lingering longest after a heavy-going evening were not three words from that title and chorus, but from one of the verses:

What a bore...

Sunday, September 17, 2006

"Home-baked loaves and wood-burning stoves, Shirley MacLaine and White Hart Lane..."

... That's What I Like.

And anuvver...

... maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner, but I love Chas and Dave.
Uncool they may be, but they remain dazzlingly accomplished musicians, witty and surprisingly sensitive songwriters and, well, a bleedin’ good laugh.
The first half of this Herts-home(ish)coming at the sold-out Wyllyotts Centre in Potters Bar combined spoken reminiscences with considered covers, dipping into blues, country, folk ballads and music hall.
They paid tribute to Big Bill Broonzy, Eddie Cochran, Jimmie Rodgers and Lonnie Donegan - another past master in putting a jaunty English spin on the American music canon.
In fact, Lonnie D was deferentially referenced by both first-half-opener “Bring A Little Water, Sylvie” and first-half-closer, er, “Lonnie D”, the duo’s own lyric-listing tribute to a man who had so much more going for him than his old man being a, er, dustman.
Okay, so a request for questions to fill in a few of the between-banter gaps didn’t quite work, a predictably-chaotic and gradually-more-drunken mass-holler being the only outcome.
But for all the (always-impeccably authentic) Cockney cliches, sunglasses-toting by Chas and cheery twinkling by Dave, it was also a pleasure to watch the caressing of the guitar necks and frets, the country-tinged finger-picking and surprisingly-sweet balladry.
The second half was more familiar boogie-woogie as Chas Hodges plundered his piano with gusto, Dave Peacock stabbed his bass as if playing lead and flat-capped drummer “Give-it-some-stick” Mick, well, did just that.
The lusty likes of Rabbit, Gertcha, Margate and London Girls - the song the Beach Boys would have written, had they come from Bethnal Green ("... and they've always got a pound, to buy their round, when it's their turn up the bar...") - bore the stomp of greatness... even if I actually prefer to the familiar hits the lower-key early-recording versions of Strummin‘ and (the-then-titled-not-to-be-confused-with-a-Holland-defender) Oortcha from debut album One Fing 'n‘ Anuvver...
Okay, an incessant, attention-seeking conga-line across the front of the stage by what appeared the beered-up long-deservedly-lost daughters of the Roly Polys looked a little unnecessary (I think Chas thought so too, his lazy eyes somehow firing a little impatient behind those shades; Dave just kept peering down each passing blouse…) And some of the heavy-beery-breathed taunts gave Tottenham fans an unsavoury name.
But Snooker Loopy was a refreshingly mad reminder of the days when Chas and Dave were bona fide Top Ten hitsters, in their own unique way.
And after a brief Petticoat Lane barrow-boy pitch for the signed CDs they would hawk from a suitcase, they ended with the majestic and - honestly - beautiful There Ain’t No Pleasin’ You.
Sadly for this Spurs fan, there were no rousing choruses of “Ossie’s going to Wembley, his knees have gone all trembly” or “We’re off to Wembley ‘cos we beat the Arsenal”.
Apparently the boys have another Cup Final classic in the vaults, but not to be touched until the under-achieving Lilywhites prove themselves worthy again.
Well, so they insisted to me when I got to chat to Chas, as Dave drove on to the next pit-stop on an otherwise-dreary Wednesday back in 2001, as Spurs prepared to face the Scum in an Old Trafford semi-final. Hmm, what a grim day that turned out to be.
But enough of that.
We’ll be back at Wembley one day. Honest.
And I happily suspect Chas and Dave will continue gleefully rockney-and-rollin’ until then.
However long it may take.
Lovely jubbly.

Friday, September 15, 2006

"Love comes and goes away..."

The path of true love apparently ran anything but smoothly for one of the Seven Brides at London's Haymarket Theatre on Wednesday evening.
As the first half approached its end, so flagged the actor playing Ephraim (Ephraim? Funny name for an, er, white - sorry, Derek and Clive...), and he slinked off-stage to leave merely six brothers and one among seven brides feeling rather at a loss and like a spare part...
Only for an understudy to bravely take over at half-time, restoring the brides'n'brothers balance, yet rather interfering with the basic mathematics of it all.
Hmm, doesn't quite sound the same: Seven Brides For Seven, Then Six, Overall Eight Brothers...

Thursday, September 14, 2006

A wise woman told me: "Probably when a blog becomes a been there/done that account or when there are more posts with videos and pictures than the actual text, it's time to stop."

Ah, sage advice... But maybe one more, eh, Kim?
No need to look so excited...