Tag Archive: Wolves Civic

Erasure + Shelter @ Wolverhampton Civic, 29 November 2014

It’s the end of November and Christmas is approaching at a million miles an hour. Here at Gig Junkies, we think we’ve been good little guys and gals so we’ve busily been writing our little Christmas list for Santa Claus. We’ve asked for a barn-storming, sing-a-long poptastic full-on party! And Santa – he say yeah! Yippee! So tonight we’re here at Wolves Civic for a full, over-the-top party with a electronic synth god and a guy with a voice to die for – courtesy of Erasure.

Erasure-14
So right at the turn of the eighties, people dreamed of being in bands.  Once upon a time there was a guy, who formed in a band that went on to have stratospheric success – one of the biggest bands in the world (aka Depeche Mode). But this guy left after the first album. Then he formed a duet with a truly unique blues singer (Yazoo with one Alison Moyet) – more huge success. Two years, two albums later, that too was over was over. Then another act, with a former Undertone (Feargal Sharkey) and yet another hit. Moving on. He placed an advert in the Melody Maker and came across an unknown singer, a young lad called Andy Bell. With a pretty good voice. This time it’s lasted, a music marriage made in heaven…..

Tonight’s support is duo Shelter - who give us synth poptastic music to bop along to, to get us in the mood. They have a debut album out – ‘Emerge’ and play several songs for us including ‘Diablo.’ They had singles out earlier in the year ‘iPop’  and ‘beautiful’ with Andy Bell – check them out on the Ministry of Pop – the UK’s newest independent label for great pop and dance music.

Tonight’s gig is sold out. And the eclectic crowd are well up for the party. One lass is stuck outside – a ticket problem – and is kicking off  and doesn’t appear to make it into tonight’s gig. She’s not happy. Meanwhile back in the venue – lights down and here they come – Clarke suited and booted behind his techno gadgets, and the gregarious and charismatic Bell in top hat, sparkly jacket and shades. First track ‘Oh L’Amour’ is danced up, but that makes no difference – we’re already singing and bopping away.

Bell: “ Good evening everyone! Feels like I know everybody individually you come here so much – looks like we have a full house tonight!!” [Big cheer from the crowd].

And the light’s are a-blazing, pink, white, purple  and we be dancing and singing at the top of our voices. Bell is dancing, joined vocally by two backing singers – his voice floating. And we get a couple of tracks from new album ‘The Violet Flame’ – ‘Reason’ is. we’re told, their take on Northern Soul…

As Bells strips off his jacket – the crowd cheer, and he’s soon in Blonde t-shirt and spangly shorts.  And the hits keep coming – ‘ You Surround Me’,… “We’ll be together again….” we’re into ‘Stop!’,’Victim of Love’ – and we singing away – “Just one psychological drama after another, You are guilty [GUILTY we shout as one] and how you ever entered into this life, God only knows, the infinite complexities of love….”

The beautiful ‘Ship of Fools’ is danced up – well hey, few bands have the genius of Clarke – and he’s clearly been inspired to ‘modernise’ and dance up several tracks here tonight. And more and more, the hits – they keep on coming;  Erasure and giving the fans exactly what Santa ordered  ‘Blue Savannah’, ‘Chains of Love’, ‘Love to Hate You’ – their take on the classic spurned love song  ‘I Will Survive.’ Hey hey indeed. ‘Chorus’ is morphed into a fun on rave, drum and bass – Clarke’s gone all Ibiza. We blame Depeche Mode synth god Martin L. Gore – who Clarke teamed up with in 2011 for VCMG.

Encore and they give us ‘Always’ and ‘Sometimes’ and we’re singing: ”Ooh sometimes…”

Erasure live are a great celebration of life!  Clarke, the genius, has written phenomenal pop songs, I defy you not to sing  along to.  Bell’s voice is a real delight and continues to have a phenomenal range. Erasure were here to gig us a party – and indeed they did and then some – I’ve rarely seen a gig were everyone is dancing and singing at the top of their heads with gigue grins in such a manner. You will dance, you will bounce, you will know pretty much ALL the songs you can sing along to. And you will smile.

A total Christmas uplifting treat thank you Santa!  Don’t stop! Go and party! As Always – More than a little respect….

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Setlist:
Oh L’Amour
Star
Reason
Breath of Life
You Surround Me
Elevation
Stop!
Drama!
Victim of Love
Ship of Fools
Sacred
Breathe
Dead of Night
Blue Savannah
Chorus
Love to Hate You
A Little Respect
Chains of Love

Encore:
Always
Sometimes
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Listening:
The Circus (1987)
Total Pop! The First 40 Hits (2009)
The Violet Flame (2014)

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Pictures courtesy of Ken Harrison. Review for Gig Junkies and 102.5 The Bridge.

Manic Street Preachers + Wolf Alice @ Wolverhampton Civic, UK – 6 April 2014

Tonight we’re back in Wolverhampton to see a band who took on the world, and then refused to go away. From the Gig Junkies team on our musical journey of the UK,  we bring you the boys from the Welsh valleys; formed nearly 30 years ago, in Blackwood, Wales, these guys are here to show us their best – that this is their truth – and they’ll be preaching Manic Street Preachers style.

Manic Street Preachers, like I need to say, are James Dean Bradfield, Nicky Wire and Sean Moore. Formed in ’86 – they started out full of punk and indie angst – with a mentality of short-term take on the world, with critical intellectual social lyrics and a view of we’re not going to be doing this beyond 30. Well life takes a curious course, if at times truly difficult course. The Manics rose out of indieness for their  ‘Everything Must Go’ ’96 album, using lyrics from recently disappeared Richie Edwards. Through their career had 11 top ten albums, 15 top ten singles and have been back recording recently, with so much stuff to say they’re issuing it in two parts. ‘Rewind the Film’ came out in 2013 to critical acclaim, ‘Futurology’ is due to be released shortly. Tonight’s gig we’re promised songs from ‘Rewind…’ , a selection of their old back catalogue and a preview of the future.

Tonight’s gig is sold out. 3,000 punters will be here tonight, and as the Hall fills, we expectantly wait as support Wolf Alice, take to the stage. Wolf Alice are a four-piece hailing from North London consisting of  Ellie Rowsell, Joel Amey, Joff Oddie and Theo Ellis. Releasing a self titled EP and single ‘Leaving You’ they gained air play from BBC Radio 1 and plaudits from NME. In October they issued new EP ‘Blush’ and official single ‘She’, and in may they will release next EP ‘Creature Songs.’ With female lead Rowsell, they are indie at times, or full of angst, whilst others more heavy. Think Hole meets Cocteau Twins meets Naked and Famous. They get a good response from the crowd.

ManicsSo at 9.10, on the huge screen that fills the backdrop behind the set – a video of a soldier girl walking through hills and street – and words…‘Future is our only objective.’ We watch and wait – the expectant crowd clapping as the Manics take to the stage.

First up ‘La Tristessa’ as we sing and join in – Wire in shades and black suit – Bradfield singing in grey suit. Big cheer from the crowd as they enjoyed listening, followed by another which we all sing loudly, every single word: ‘You Stole the Sun from My Heart.’ “I love you all the same….” we sing.

So let’s make it a trio – as they deliver ‘Mototorcycle Emptiness.’ The Manics are cranking out the hits: the crowd sing ever louder as we watch the screen of old footage, video footage of the band from the time – including Richie. He’s still here in spirit.

“Hello there,” welcome Bradfield, “Thanks for coming out on a Sunday and making it feel like a Saturday – great to be back in such a rock and roll mega city…” as they roll into recent single ‘(It’s Not War) Just the End of Love’. We clap along.

And so to the preview of the future – from the forthcoming album “raging against the dying of rights and all that bollocks…” this track features German singer – who isn’t here tonight. As it’s in German and Bradfield tells us his German skills are bollocks  we should expect to hear her voice through the speakers and imagine that she was here. This is not the first time a guest vocalist who is on a track is not here – Bradfield tells us we’ll have to put up with him instead. But as usual he delivers a great performance regardless. And so to this German Track ‘Europa Geht Durch Mich’ – English translation adorn the screen over her German words.

‘Everything Must Go’ we’re in full voice agin – the packed crowd enjoying themselves. The screen shows 3D squares and houses and building and corridors.

“Give yourselves a break – and your heads a rest” as we’re into title track of their previous album ‘Rewind the Film’. As stated above Richard Hawley isn’t here – so Bradfield is on vocal duties, as we watch a film of a man opening a social club, the locals laying bingo and then closing up. The Manics still remain in reflective social observational mood.

Bradfield asks us if they played here on ‘The Holy Bible’ tour – “harding f***ing core” and dedicates the next track to the “… superb f***ing intellect of Richie Edwards” as they take us into ‘Die in Summertime’.  Bit of a f*** up as Bradfield gets the setlist order wrong – apparently by this time in a tour he’s usually done this five times by now – but this is the first. “Must be the suit..” quips Wire. And we’re back on track with the correct track ‘Your Love Alone is Not Enough.’ And so the track Bradfield announced previously – written in a big Chateaux in France – ‘Enola Alone.’

As the set turns red, we immediately recognise the next track – ‘If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next’ – and we sing as the track rolls and rolls.

The band desert Bradfield he’s left alone, mid stage with acoustic guitar. He’s not taking requests. ‘This is Yesterday’ morphs into ‘From Despair to Where’ – we join his singing – before he delivers us ‘This Sullen Welsh Heart’ (which should actually feature Lucy Rose, who incredibly recorded it in just two takes, but as previously said is not here tonight). Bradfield vocals are the usual reliable sublime yet powerful.

Band back on and we’re delivered ‘Masses Against The Classes’ – before the Manics go back to their angry against the world youth with ‘You Love Us.’ ‘Tsumani’ washes over us, before ’30 year War’, ‘Motown Junk’ completed by ‘Design For Life.’

The Manics have had one hell of a journey since they started out in the mid 80’s as angry young Welshmen preaching of culture, alienation, boredom and despair. Edwards may be long gone – but he’s certainly not forgotten – he remains the core, the floating spirit of the band. So from anarchy to commerciality – they went on to have great success, critically acclaimed, but have never lost the need to say something. To use intellect in their lyric not mundanity. The Manics ‘live’ have never disappointed, solid, professional – a reliable performance to enjoy – from old to new and then the future.

There was no need to tolerate tonight’s gig – the Manics gave us an insight into who they are and what they stand for in their own unique way. Looks like the future is ‘Futurology’ indeed.

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Setlist:
La Tristessa
You Stole the Sun from My Heart
Motorcycle Emptiness
(It’s Not War) Just the End of Love
Europa Geht Durch Mich
Stay Beautiful
Everything Must Go
Rewind the Film
Die in Summertime
Your Love Alone is Not Enough
Enola Alone
If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next
This is Yesterday
From Despair to Where
This Sullen Welsh Heart
Archives of Pain
Futurology
The Masses Against the Classes
You Love Us
Tsumani
30-Year War
Motown Junk
A Design for Life

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Review for Gig Junkies; Pictures by Ken Harrison.

Therapy? + Lonely the Brave @ Wulfrun, Wolverhampton Civic, UK – Friday 4th April 2014

Here at Gig Junkies we’re busy, busy, busy and this weekend is the first of three over three days for this little team – as we cover bands from across the UK. First gig of the weekend comes from the Emerald Isles courtesy of a Northern Irish alternative metal band, who according to their website have been ‘helping the afflicted since 1990.’ They are here to bring us their most successful and very possibly legendary album, celebrating it’s twentieth anniversary release – ‘Troublegum’ – we, the afflicted are here for a bit of Therapy?

Therapy? hail from Larne in Northern Ireland. Formed in ’89, line-up consists of guitarist and lead singer Andy Cairns, bass player Michael ‘Evil Priest’ McKeegan and thundergod Neil Cooper. While Therapy? may no longer touch the commercial world of the charts these days – they’ve continued to record and tour on a regular basis and throughout their career have sold over 2 million albums. Inspired by metal stalwarts Metallica – it was ’93’s ‘Shortsharpshock’ EP which brought Therapy? to our attention. The following year came ‘Troublegum’. Award winning, it’s 20 and to celebrate comes this UK mini tour along with the prerequisite reissues.  As for the ? In their name. A design quirk – a space filler when Cairns was Letrasetting (back in the days when artwork was done by hand) the band’s first record sleeve.

So for tonight’s gig we’re promised the album in full with additional smatterings of ‘B’ Sides and songs from their early EPs: ‘Shortsharpshock’, ‘Face the Strange’ and ‘Opal Mantra’.

Support tonight comes from Lonely The Brave. Hailing from Cambridge, they are “…four men trying to be someone…” These four men being Gavin Edgeley (drums), Mark Trotter (guitar), Andrew Bushen (bass) and David Jakes (who sings). Rock Sound believe they could be the biggest band on the planet, the NME say their name will be up in lights, whether they like it or not. Kerrang! think they’re phenomenal. No pressure then. The tour PR have told us to take a look they’re so good. So here we are early and waiting with eager anticipation. LTB are polite, but musically are metal with rising, rhythmic melodies – there is indeed something fresh about them – something different. Energetic, powerful, indie metal, singer Jakes has an uncomfortable edge about him, singing sideways from the audience – hands clasped in front of him. For the audience who knew little to start of with buy the end of their set – they get a good response – there is definitely something addictive here – and worth checking out their album and seeing them live if you get the opportunity. These new upstarts have a new album ‘The Days War’ due out on 2nd June 2014 and are supporting Therapy? throughout this mini-tour.

Tonight’s Wulfrun Hall is getting pretty full, a lot of metal-heads are here – T-shirts a-blazed with Judas Priest, Van Halen, Machine Head, NIN. The set is well lit – with a simple vinyl backdrop of the Therapy? logo – large and obvious and in your face. Big cheer as the lights go down, as a voice gives a long introduction…. “…this is Therapy?”

To violins as the guys take up their instrument, and we’re off – loud and bangy – metal in full flow – it’s ‘Knives’ which receives a huge cheer. Then get frenetic, run like a million miles an hour – shout: “I’ve got nothing to do but get screwed up on you…” – ‘Screamager’.

“Hello Wolverhampton”. This Northern Irish Men in Black make a HELL OF A LOT OF NOISE sound for just three of them. And they are clearing enjoying it – McKeegan spins in circles – as he delivers ‘Hellbelly.’ – “F***ing brilliant Wolverhampton – lovely to be back – we do appreciate it….” he tells the equally appreciative crowd. “Let’s make some f***ing noise tonight…” as the punters are encouraged to clap – ‘Stop It You’re Killing Me’ before the with the Pistol’s ‘Pretty Vacant’ inspired intro – we’re into ‘Nowhere.’

A brief interlude to catch our breath, Cairns acknowledges Kurt Cobain (who killed himself 20 years ago today), legendary Thin Lizzie vocalist Phil Lynott, and the maverick statesman and MP Tony Benn – as we ‘Die Laughing’:  “I think I’m going insane, I can’t remember my own name…” and as the song completes the crowd chant back – “Can’t remember…..can’t remember…. can’t remember…”

An intro to the ‘Evil Priest’ (aka McKeegan) as we cross our arms in the air to acknowledge THE ONE, as we continue our journey through the album with ‘Unbeliever’. Cairns asks if anyone was here in 1994 when the album was released. A few cheers go up and we’re frenetic once again: “Trigger Inside” which indeed is “… one in the eye for the beautiful people….”

For the next one we only need to sing one word – “Christ!” – which indeed we do – (and probably the rest of the lyrics) but we’re happy to should this one in particular, with venom and spleen – ‘Lunancy Booth’ – probably the best delivered track of the night.

‘Isolation’ we bounce: this is a great nostalgia trip for metal heads. It’s heavy and frenetic – and makes you remember what a class album ‘Troublegum’ was. ‘Turn’ delivers, ‘Femtex’ gets a intro to outlaw domestic violence: “Time to f***ing stop it..” with a derogatory comment about the Police. This is thrash Metallica inspired – almost ‘One’-like. This part of the set is completed with ‘Unrequited’ and ‘Chainsaw’ – what an album.

Quick break – the next part of the set gives us E.P.s and B-Sides – of ‘Evil Elvis’, ‘Misery’, ‘Opal Mantra’ and Priest’s ‘Breaking The Law….’

So what have we learnt from tonight’s metal gig. Lonely The Brave live up to the plaudits – and will be interesting to watch out for. Whether the Metal Gods with shine their little ray of light and give them the break, or whether they will do it the hard way – gig after gig after gig after gig (see Twin Atlantic for this recent journey) – only time will tell. Listen out in June – check out their album.

As for Therapy? When ‘Troublegum’ was released indie music had tuned cool (or uncool) depending on your point of view and given us Britpop, Seattle music kicked back against the mainstream and went cool (or uncool) and few bands toured as there was no money in it. There also was few decent sized venues in the Midlands  – around this time only the Civic was around.  As grunge grew then faded, and Cobain sadly demised  Therapy? issued ‘Troublegum.’ Angry, manic, 3 minute pop-twisted, metal inflicted classic. We’ve all brought albums (back in the day I guess) – and with most, there was always a couple of stand outs tracks – you got bored with the rest. ‘Troublegum’ gave us it all and then some from from start to finish – tonight everyone knew all the words, to EVERY song. Cheers Therapy? – you may not have conquered our affliction, maybe contributed to it – but you’ve certainly encouraged us to dig through the cobwebs and dust and find that album of your. Don’t stop it –  you’ve not killed us quite yet.

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Lonely The Brave Setlist
Black Saucers
Victory Line
Trick of the Light
Bass Start
Deserter
Backroads
Call of Horses

Therapy? Setlist:
Troublegum:
Knives
Screamager
Hellbelly
Stop It You’re Killing Me
Nowhere
Die Laughing
Unbeliever
Trigger Inside
Lunacy Booth
Isolation
Turn
Femtex
Unrequited
Brainsaw
[You Are By Sunshine]

B Sides, EPS and additional songs
Evil Elvis
Auto Surgery
Misery
Pantopon Rose
Totally Random Man
Speedball
Bloody Blue
Accelerator
Opal Mantra
Breaking The Law [Judas Priest]
Potato Junkie

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Review for Gig Junkies; Pictures by Ken Harrison.

Fun Lovin’ Criminals + Klasside @ Wulfrun Hall, Wolves Civic, Wolverhampton UK – 19 January 2014

So on a January eve the boys that make up the Fun Lovin’ Criminals are back. They’ve kinda not been away – just lower profile as a band. The boys from New York City are in Wolverhampton City tonight, with their laid back, humorous and tongue-in-cheek approach to life.

FLCSo exactly who are FLC. They’ll be vocalist and guitarist Huey Morgan, Brian ‘Fast’ Leiser on all sorts of instruments and Frank Benbini on drums, percussion and vocals. Formed 21 years ago, it was their 1996 debut album ‘Come Find Yourself’ that found us smoozing to ‘The Fun Lovin’ Criminal’, King of New York’ and snacking on ‘Scoobie Snacks.’ Their album spent a year in the UK charts, but failed to make any impact in their native US. ‘98s ‘100% Columbian’ was grittier and included ‘Love Unlimited’ a tribute to the legendary Barry White. Albums keep coming and they’ve continued to release and play live, which band members have got involved with other things. Morgan is a regular on BBC radio (notably BBC6 Music and Radio 2), whilst the other members have done side projects.

So tonight should be a fun gig and we’re looking forward to it.

Support comes from Midlands band Klasside. According to their website they formed in 2011 and combine elements of rock, funk, rap and folk into a melodic, modern sound. They have an EP out – if you like ‘em – message ‘em on Facebook and they’ll send you a copy for free. This six piece including acoustic guitar player, come across quite surprising not as heavy as their own individual person tastes – which certainly cover the indie rock genre – tracks involve lots of “yeeeaaaays”. They’re pretty tight. Last track up is their take on House of Pain’s ‘Jump Around’ an ecletic mix of the original backing track and them playing over it in their own unique style. They’re consistently touring around the Midlands – they’ll be back at the Slade Rooms on 16 Feb – more information – check out their website: www.klasside.co.uk

FLC’s tour hasn’t had all the rig-ma-roll of many tours; the date was just announced and the Wulfrun is full with an truly eclectic mix of fans. And as we waiting tracks such as ‘Hit the Road Jack’ are remixed with a smooth Columbian vibe that gets a feet a-tapping.

Just before 9 – the lights go down and on they come. “How ya doing Wolverhampton…. Yay baby…” as suited and booted in Blues Brothers style they’re bouncing round the stage rapping in true Run DMC style. “Wolverhampton, how you been – it’s been a while – gonna say I can’t hear you… but I can. Really good to be here.” Huey is SMMMMMMOOOOTTHHH baby, chatty, engaging and funny, this is no retro tour; the boys are here to charm – and genuinely to party.

Now we get the bluesy fuck that is ‘King of New York’ – for a three piece they are hugely professional. “Wolves in the house…. Bringing the love in all forms…” Frank’s mom is in the house tonight, we are assumed that they won’t curse too much out of respect.

The tracks they play are an eclectic mix, as they morph from rap, to bluesy Columbian style with a bit of cheeky gangsta, to full on rock – Huey being applauded at times for his axemanship. For all their smoothness there’s the alternative view of their New York blues – ‘Southside’ is heavy, even nears a screaming repetitive chorus, and a remixed grind.Huey’s in conversation with a female in the audience “… well I never… sweet thing, girl…” as he raises a glass to the audience.

The promoter gave them a nice bottle of tequila (more like rocket fuel were told), so the boys are happy. As we get into the intro: “Everyone be cool, this is a robbery! If any of you f*****g pricks move and I’ll execute every motherf*****g one of you…”

We’re into ‘Scoobie Snacks’ and we dance and sing away – track goes down well with the crowd, to big cheers. ‘Were the Bums Go’ finds us in full on traditional punk territory – “wooooaahhh” go the crowd. And between the smooth, the rock, the punk and the rap – we get skiffle as we’re into the punky tinged ‘10th Street.’

Huey is the words and axesmith, but don’t let Fast and Frank be outdone, Fast at one point is playing keyboards and trombone at the same time, while Frank takes on guitar and drums. We’re enjoying the gig, they’re enjoying it – what more could you ask for. Encore and we get the Barry White’s with ‘Love Unlimited’ and “yeeeeeehhhhhaaaaarrr” – The Fun Lovin’ Criminal.

And as they take their leave, to rapturous applause “… the shows over, you know what I mean?” Huey can’t resist shaking hands, saying thanks and thoroughly enjoying it.

Tonight we got ‘Fun’ in bucketloads, ‘Lovin’’ – hell yeah baby, ‘Criminals’ oh definitely in a very cheeky way, each charismatic band member has a big grin and wicked sparkle in the eye. Can’t deny that it was ‘Scoobie Snacks’ and ‘The Fun Lovin’ Criminal’ that were standouts – but this is a gig you left with a gig grin and infectious tunes running through your head too, that you just couldn’t shake off. Let’s hope they’re back soon. Go and see, go and play. It’d be criminal not to.

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 Review for Gig Junkies; Pictures by Ken Harrison.

Skid Row + Ugly Kid Joe + Dead City Ruins @ Wolverhampton Wulfrun, 2 November 2013

We’re here to rock tonight in Wolves with two nineties rock bands back out on the road. Really a double headliner, we have Californian surfer dudes Ugly Kid Joe up first in ‘support’ of screaming stalwarts of trad metal rock Skid Row, as part of a 29 date over 36 day intensive tour of the UK and Europe.

Tonight’s gig at the Wulfrun is very nearly sold out. Unfortunately we’re not here in time to catch the early support on at 7pm; Australians Dead City Ruins we hear, have gone down well. Whit Crane from Ugly Kid Joe alluded to the fact they are touring in a little black van, to feed them and to the girls in the audience to give ‘em a place to sleep. 2013 has brought them their long awaited second self titled album and this tour. They are “… a working class hard rock band fuelled by what life throws at them from good times, bad times, disappointments, achievements and life in the cruel f***in city!” Find out more about them on their Facebook page.

So at 8pm, Ugly Kid Joe take to the stage. The band returned to the scene last year after totally disappearing for 15 years. In the day, these Californian rockers had two top ten singles and in the day were all over MTV. Reappearing last year in the UK as support for Alice Cooper’s Hallowe’en tour, they were band that stood out for just how bleedin’ good and how much fun they were. And they’ve not stopped; they’ve continued to tour and released ‘Stairway to Hell’, a 6 song EP. We should realise “… one VERY important thing about UKJ; they mean every goddam note, every goddam riff and every goddam moment they deliver.”

UKJUKJ are the charismatic Whit Crane (vocals), Klaus Eichstadt (guitar), Dave Fortman (guitar), Cordell Crockett (bass) and Shannon Larkin (drums). And as they take to the small stage, Crane appears to huge applause and bows to the crowd and they’re into first track ‘V.I.P.’ UKJ are hugely energetic; every centimeter on the stage is used and Crane takes the first of several opportunities to get up close and personal with the crowd, by dropping down into the pit. Crane conducts the audience with the minimum of effort; for ‘Neighbor’ he’s effectively ‘pulling the crowd’ to get them to sing “…gonna be my neighbor…” and the bass player is high up on one of the amps. UKJ are totally inclusive too, even inviting the photographers to climb up on stage and take pictures from there. The band rock out, encouraging every audience member to jump; “let’s see if we can get this floor moving…”

“So this is the Black Country…. the home of Zeppelin and Black Sabbath… the home of all things metal… we’re from California… without these guys we wouldn’t be here….” For Panhandlin’ Prince we’re told to put our hands in the air “…. and do what I do…” As Crane starts to clap, so do we. Crane can only see the first couple of rows and insists that the house lights are on so the band can see everyone. “… Hey everyone, how are you? Nice to see you all….” For ‘So Damn Cool’ the band rock on, Crane paces the stage like a caged tiger, continually engaging with the crowd, getting us to cheer, to clap, to way our arms from side to side. For ‘Cats in the Cradle,’ the houselights are still up, he implores everyone to sing with him on this song, and once again we do – it’s the chorus before Crane joins us.

For ‘Tomorrows World’ the houselights are off because “… this song is more sinister….” and the beating rhythm of the song rolls on. ‘Goddamn Evil’ is the last song in this part the set… Crane: “I have to be honest with you, pretend we have left the set, and start chanting, like we have never heard before….” this is an imaginary encore, except the band stand motionless like statues on the purple lit darkened stage. Then restarting to a question; would you like to hear one song or two. “Two…” is the overriding response from the crowd. “Your wish is my command….” and the chords strike up and we’re into the manic ‘Everything About You.’ “Go f****in’ crazy!!!!” as we, the crowd, shout the last line of the track…”Hate everything… about you…” “Nice…” says Crane, before the band leap into a rip-stonking rendition of Motorhead’s ‘Ace of Spades’ – giving it the full credit the track deserves.

UKJ’s set is over. Humble, yet awesome, UKJ deliver and then some. They’ve clearly had a blast and clearly wanted us all to have a blast – which we did. So, next up Skid Row – will they be able to delivery to the same level as UKJ?

Skid Row hail from New Jersey. Rachel Bolan and Dave’ Snake’ Sabo formed said band recruiting Scotti Hill. Sabo and some bloke called John Bon Jovi were mates and they had a deal to help each other if they made it in the music business, Bon Jovi’s manager signed the band and a young Sebastian Bach joined as vocalist.  By the end of ‘96 they’d opened for Jovi, sold 20 million albums, toured the world, took a hiatus and fired lead singer Sebastian Bach.

Skid RowOriginal members Sabo (guitar) and Bolan (bass) along with Hill (guitar) are the core of the band with ‘new’ singer Johnny Solinger (who joined way back in 2000) and Rob Hammersmith (drums) who joined in 2010. In 2013 Skid Row released the first of a series of EPs ‘United World Rebellion: Chapter One’. The audience seems a tad thinner; clearly a few were here to see UKJ only. Onto Intro track ‘Let’s Go’ by The Ramones, followed by an air raid siren, here comes Skid Row. Sabo and Hill still have waist length locks, Bolan having taken his looks from Scott Weiland (circa Velvet Revolver era) and they start off with ‘Big Guns.’ ‘New’ singer Solinger has good vocals, albeit slightly lower than Bach’s, although he does have the ability to squeal. The band are clearly tight and clearly enjoying being out touring and playing live – there’s a big cheer from the crowd. “Look at all you crazy f***ers here man…. we’ve been waiting a long time to see you… the wolves of Wolverhampton…” Solinger certainly has that American rock band gift of the understated gob.

Skid Row songs, unlike UKJ, haven’t stood the test of time in the same way; they are indeed, as Solinger points out ‘old school.’ Hit ‘18 and Life’ takes place with Solinger mostly not on stage and he doesn’t have the extreme vocal range to deliver as the original. However, the crowd aren’t fussed, they all sing, a nostalgic sing-along to a song from their youth and the band get a good response.

Solinger: “Its been 24 years since the first Skid Row album came out….” he speaks like he was there at the outset as they rock and rumble through ‘Thick is the Skin’ and ‘Kings of Demolition.’ Then Bolan speaks: “You have never let us down, thank you for your unconditional support and I mean that…” as him and the rest of the guys go into The Ramones ‘Psycho Therapy’, Bolan on vocals – he’s clearly the punk of the band.

Solingers back and taking; “There was no cellphones to speak of when Skid Row started out…we had to catch up with the kids, use your phone to send us your pictures on Facebook – Tweet us your neighbour, a selfie or me….” And we’re into Skid Row’s ballad – ‘I Remember You.” The audience all sing along but Solinger’s vocals don’t again quite hit the mark.

So tonight may have been two rock bands from the nineties, that each audience member can look back with a nostalgic viewpoint on a particular time that meant something in the day. And fair play to both bands coming out and giving it and more than some on such an intensive tour. But there is a difference between UKJ and Skid Row. UKJ give it all, to each and everyone in the audience. They have the ability to connect in whichever city they play, to make people smile, to just have one hell of a party. And they also have that other thing; like Faith No More who disappeared for over a decade before re-appearing, the time gap they were away has just disappeared and they remain current and relevant. Skid Row were indeed big, in their day. The band remains hugely talented; the guitars and rhythm tight and they’re clearly enjoying it. But, the tracks haven’t really stood the test of time – a middle aged band singing ’18 and Life’ and ‘Youth Gone Wild’ was always gonna be hard – they have become (scarily) old school. And while Solinger has great vocal range, he can’t reach the dizzying vocal heights of Sebastian Bach (although I doubt that even Bach could these days).

UKJ will be back and are well worth seeing for any rock fan that loves the fun energetic metal funk side with rip-roaring vocals. Skid Row are more akin to those of that time period – if you like 90s big hair rock than take a punt – but note that Solinger’s delivery is not Bach’s. Accept that, run with the nostalgia of the old, embrace the new and you will enjoy.

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Ugly Kid Joe Setlist
V.I.P.
Dialogue
Neighbour
Jesus Rode a Harley
C.U.S.T.
Panhandlin’ Prince
So Damn Cool
No One Survives
Devil’s Paradise
Cat’s in the Cradle
I’m Alright
Tomorrow’s World
Milkman’s Son
Goddamn Devil
Everything About You
Ace of Spades (Motorhead cover)
Skid Row Setlist
Let’s Go
Big Guns
Makin’ a Mess
Piece of Me
18 and Life
Thick is the Skin
Riot Act
In a Darkened Room
Kings of Demolition
Psycho Therapy (Ramones cover)
I Remember You
Monkey Business

Encore:
Slave to the Grind
Youth Gone Wild

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Listening:
Ugly Kid Joe:
America’s Least Wanted [1992]
Menace to Sobriety [1995]
Skid Row
Skid Row [1989]
Slave to the Grind [1991]

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Review for Gig Junkies. Photos: Ken Harrison

 

Simple Minds @ Wolverhampton Civic, 5 April 2103

Simple Minds flatly refuse to give up and go away. Na no. Stadia shows may be a few years ago (although arenas are a’ beckoning later in the year) this is the second time in just over 12 months they’ve played a mid-sized venue, playing all their hits from days gone by. And by all accounts it’s a great idea – tonight’s gig is totally sold out.

Last trip out was ‘5 from 5’ – five tracks from their first five albums. This time we have the full spread of hits – from the classic cult dance hit ‘I Travel’ right through to brand new tracks on their new greatest hits release ‘Celebrate.’ The 2 set CD features 36 songs, from 12 albums over 34 years.  Go up a notch – the 3 set CD features 50 songs off 13 albums over 36 years. As you do. According to Mr. Kerr as part of the press release: “One of the things I’m most proud of is that people say to me what Simple Minds are you talking about? The avant-garde, the art-rock, the pop, the ambient, the instrumental group, the political, the folk, the stadium band? We’ve been on one hell of a journey. To play all those different styles but at the same time be quintessentially Simple Minds is an amazing thing.”

Tonight is indeed a time warp, go back to the time of the ‘New Romantics’ when mobile phones were those red telephone kiosks on street corners, Apple had just released the Macintosh computer, you brought an album on cassette tape and on the round black stuff and social media entailed a pen, paper, a stamp and a few days to get a response. We’ve all come a long way since then – tonight is an opportunity to put on the rose tinted glasses and remember those ‘fab’ good old days. I would suspect many who attempted the new 7 shades of social class calculator probably come out in the category of ‘New Affluent Worker or above – average age 44, economically secure, go to gigs, live in the Midlands….

To a potted bit of Simple Minds history – formed way back in ’78, they took an eclectic journey up to ‘82, from the dance classic cult  ‘I Travel’ right through the big sound of the ‘New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)’ album, with splashing of arena-filling 80’s hits. Success became stratospheric – by the mid/late eighties Simple Minds were huge, playing not just arenas, but stadia, comparable to U2 in success.

According to their Twitter profile: “Simple Minds are Scotland’s most successful rock group to date. Having topped America’s Billboard chart, the Glasgow band have achieved six UK No.1 albums.” But for Simple Minds this ridiculously huge commercial success began to wane, not that has stopped them; they’ve continued to this day, both recording and playing live, and tonight here, once again in an intimate venue to celebrate with their loyal fans.

The Simple Minds of today are made up of original members Jim Kerr (vocals) and Charlie Burchill (guitar/keyboards), Mel Gaynor (drummer – who’s been in the line up pretty much since ’82), Andy Gillespie (keyboards – ditto since 2002) and Ged Grimes (bass – newbie and formerly a founding member of Danny Wilson).  And tonight it’s just them, no support. Times for a double-setted gig – 7.45pm-9pm – twenty minute break (we need one as we’re all getting on I guess) – then 9.20pm til 10.30pm.

So 15 minutes late (according to the above released times) on a darkened dry ice covered stage, to a dramatic entrance Simple Minds appear through the clouds. Encouraging the crowd to clap, Kerr dressed in black, draped in pink scarf, starts off the set with new song ‘Broken Glass Park.’ “We’re please to come and visit you in Wolverhampton… let me see your hands…. say hello to…. Charlie Burchill….. 1…2….3….4…” and we’re into ‘Waterfront.’ The crowd buzzed as the track rambles with that bass riff. Huge cheer as we’re then plunged into total darkness. Kerr’s voice emerges with “Everything okay?” before we’re into ‘Once Upon A Time’ which merges seamlessly into ‘Up On The Catwalk’. The crowd chant back the chorus “I will be there, I will be there, I will be there” as we’re all transported back to early 80s memories of ‘being there.’ ‘Catwalk’ is the standout track so far.

Kerr: “How are you? Thanks every one of you for coming to see Simple Minds…. We’ll do this set and then take a little break so you can get your energy back…. First time in Wolverhampton, unless anyone can tell me otherwise. We’ve been in Dudley…..” (a reference to the OLD blackened ‘garage’ that was the legendary JB’s methinks). And then we start to roll, to the dance track that achieved cult like status in it’s time, when as kids we went to discos…. “I Travel”. 12” (vinyl) extended edition.

First part of the set over, we take the break. Then after around 15-20 minutes, they’re back – instrumental ‘Book of Brilliant Things’, followed by their cover of Kraftwerk’s ‘Neon Lights.’  It’s song three before a white floppy shirted Kerr is back on stage for the song with the S’s ‘Someone Somewhere in Summertime.’

Couple of later career hits and then the new – ‘Blood Diamonds’ – before back to the old – ‘The American’ – as the crowd chant the chorus – this is what they crave for. Again from Kerr: “Everyone okay” as we return to the bass riff and  ‘Love Song’ another standout track. And then we get to dream about watching movies, curled up with pop and popcorn – ‘Don’t You (Forget About Me)’ theme to The Breakfast Club. And a kinda interlude as Kerr has a go at some over-enthusiastic fans pushing too much and crushing others at the front. Fair play by all accounts.

The set finished on a smattering of time-warp – ‘Promised You A Miracle’, ‘Glittering Prize’ and ‘New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)’. The crowd are loving it. Break and then an encore – ‘Sanctify Yourself’, ‘Space’ and to finish up ‘Alive and Kicking’. And as the set finishes Bowie’s ‘The Jean Jeanie’ blasts from the speakers – the line “So simple minded” the inspiration for the band’s name.

Simple Minds were indeed mega-huge, but unlike U2 who conquered the world and then some, it didn’t quite play out in the same way. The major hits were certainly mostly during the 80’s and so tonight was a celebration of true nostalgia and most were here to hear tracks from a couple of decades past. And very probably for most here tonight – the older the track the better.

Tonight’s gig wasn’t cheap – tickets were between about £38 and £48 each, then you could buy the T-shirt (£20), the program (£10) and the regularly plugged ‘limited edition’ CD recording (£20 on the night) of tonight’s performance (only available at this and two other gigs on this tour). Putting this aside – it was clear everyone in the audience had a blast.  And if you are an avid fan undoubtedly you already have a ticket to their NIA gig in Birmingham on 29th November 13 (tickets up to £55) with support – superstars of moody electronica the reformed and resurgent Ultravox. So another opportunity to timewarp – it’ll be a New Romantic electronic extravaganza.

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Setlist:

  1. Broken Glass Park [New]
  2. Waterfront
  3. Once Upon A Time
  4. Up On the Catwalk
  5. Let There Be Love
  6. All The Things She Said
  7. War Babies
  8. I Travel

[Break]

  1. Book of Brilliant Things
  2. Neon Lights (Kraftwerk Cover)
  3. Someone Somewhere in Summertime
  4. She’s a River
  5. This is Your Land
  6. Blood Diamonds [New]
  7. The American
  8. Love Song
  9. See the Lights
  10. Don’t You (Forget About Me)
  11. Promised You A Miracle
  12. Glittering Prize
  13. New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)

[Encore]

  1. Sanctify Yourself
  2. Space
  3. Alive and Kicking

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Listening:

Celebrate (Greatest Hits + Collection) [2013]

Sons and Fascination / Sister Feelings Call [1981]

New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84) [1982]

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Reviewed for Gig Junkies.

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