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Slaves

Sometimes a band comes along and you just have to listen. Slaves slapped me around the face demanding my attention when I watching the coverage of their eye watering, blistering paced set at Glastonbury 2015. I was transfixed as I watched two blokes giving it all on stage, one beating a set of drums to death and the other thrashing the hell out of a guitar. They were raucous, energetic and the best thing I’d heard all evening.

How could two men make such skin crawlingly good music and make such a racket. I wondered if they had the gift of electronic wizardry to help boost the sound, but this wasn’t the case. What you hear is a raw, live, musically talented pair without any trickery, just their talent.

I don’t like to try and push music into a genre as I usually get it wrong, most bands don’t like to be tagged as this or that and what does it matter anyway? To me, they have the energy of early punk bands with bang on lyrics, and an early mod style with a slightly skinhead danger feel when they play live…….see I told you I was rubbish at this!

Slaves are  a duo which formed in 2012. The two members are Laurie Vincent (guitar, bass, vocals) from Maidstone, Kent, and Isaac Holman (drums and vocals) from Royal Tunbridge Wells.  Sugar Coated Bitter Truth was their first release in 2012, which was an EP.

Their first single “Where’s Your Car Debbie?”, was released by Fonthill Records in early 2014. After this they signed to Virgin EMI and released a single, “Hey”, followed closely by “The Hunter”.  Also in 2014, they appeard on Later….with Jools Holland and in 2015 they were nominated for BBC’s Sound of 2015. Their debut album Are you Satisified? was released in June 2015 and it’s absolutely amazing, but then again I’m a fan so I’m bound to say that!

SLAVES – MANCHESTER RITZ – 16 JANUARY 2015

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I’d been excited about this gig for ages, after I’d bought the CD I knew I wanted to see them live, well that’s a lie, I wanted to see them after the Glasto performance.

I had to wait longer than anticipated as they postponed the gig which should have been in November, due to Issac having an unfortunate shoulder injury. So this is why I found myself on a cold Friday night in January at the Ritz, Manchester, waiting for the fun to begin.

By the time Isaac and Laurie took to the stage to the sounds of We Like to Party by the Vengaboys, the walls and pillars of this knackered old venue were dripping with condensation….teenage sweat from the moshers in the crowd down below.  I’d chosen to perch along the balcony to get the best view and try and take some photographs.

Kicking off, (quite literally in the over excited crowd) with Ninety Nine, followed by Like An Animal, it was clear that boys were going to give us something special and the people below me were going crazy. It’s a long time since I’ve seen crowd surfing in such quantities and I don’t think I’ve ever seen practically the whole place joining in a skinhead type barging session…..perhaps someone could enlighten me with the correct term, I’m too old to know these things.

Watching down over everyone was a wonderful experience, a mixture of young, old and somewhere in between were just lost in music and the sweat poured down the walls in greater quantities.

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Things go more frenzied when Sockets started up and that seemed to be the catalyst for more mayhem in the crowd. Where’s your car Debbie? led to the stonkingly good crowd rousing,  Do Something and Cheer Up London, everyone in the place singing ‘You’re dead already, dead, dead already.’ By this time I was fearing for Isaac who looked absolutely knackered. He might be a lean, mean drumming machine but Christ that must take it out of you, playing like Satan himself every night.

I’ve said it earlier on but the musicianship and craftsmanship of both these men shouldn’t be underestimated. Laurie worked his way through a variety of guitars, his playing magnificent for each and every track the sound coming out of them working wonders with the hardcore drumming of his sweaty, bare-chested partner in crime.

We had The Hunter, White Knuckle Ride and In Dog Years Your Dead and Are You Satisfied, all received with the same rapture as the opening tracks, until at the end Isaac lay on the floor, a knackered, possibly kilo’s lighter than when he started. The pair embraced at the end, Manchester applauded and left, much better for the release of tension and entertainment bestowed upon us.

Did they do an encore? Did they balls, they could barely stand!

Thank you Slaves, my only regret?…… I didn’t get to buy a T-Shirt!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hey Mr. DJ

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I can’t remember exactly when or why I started listening to BBC 6 music. What I do know is that I can honestly say its the been the biggest influence on my life music wise for many a long year.

Honestly, every day I listen to it something catches my attention and I’m constantly looking at the ‘now playing’ facility on my digital radio to find out who I’m listening to. I’ve got into so many bands thanks to this station and my life is richer for listening to it.

I couldn’t go back to mainstream radio, I couldn’t listen to Radio 1 now when I used to be addicted to it when I was a kid. There really wasn’t much choice and I used to be there on a Sunday, fanatically taping the chart rundown on my little cassette recorder (google cassette recorder if I’m speaking another language). It was a fine art trying like mad to stop the tape at the end of the track before Alan Freeman started talking again!

Mainstream radio is well, too mainstream for me. There is a time and place for the stuff they play but for me, I get my kicks on BBC Radio 6.

The breadth of genres is astounding; Cerys Matthews on her Sunday show playing everything from bluegrass to Guatemalan banjo bands, Stuart Maconie and his freakier zone play all sorts of weird shit to the very wonderful Iggy Pop shoving anything on that he fancies, but lately it seems he’s in love with the Sleaford Mods…and why wouldn’t you be?

You’ve got Steve Lamacq kicking off the evening from 4pm, leading into the usually eardrum-splittingly loud (what do you mean I can turn the radio down?) Marc Riley from 7pm showcasing old and new music, with his favourite established and up and coming bands playing live.

On Saturday morning, I can wake up to the dreamy voice of the very lovely Mary Ann Hobbs. Her gentle enthusiasm is infectious and her way of getting the best out of her guests on the show (listen and learn Lauren Laverne) are a joy to listen to. I used to tweet her every Saturday and she always replied but I’ve stopped now – don’t want a restraining order do I?

Next up is the man with that voice  – Huey Morgan. His voice is amazing, I could listen to him reading the warning on a packet of paracetamol and still be smiling. If Jack Daniels had sound it would sound like Huey! He plays some seriously amazing music. When Huey isn’t around its usually down to Katie Puckrik to spin the discs…well push the buttons! I love Katie, she’s American, she’s rude and has a wicked sense of humour and she replies when you tweet her, which always make you feel special.

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A little while ago there was talk about the powers that be closing down BBC 6 music, there was outrage, there were petitions and tweets and a general outpouring of emotion that eventually led to the station being saved. Thank god for that say I and long may it stay with us.

It’s not only a radio show, there lots of spin offs such as the very popular 6 music festival; the show goes to various city’s putting on live music and showcasing bands both familiar and not so well known.

There’s also TV shows – Guy Garvey’s Music Box and  Marc Riley’s show All Shook Up and the brilliant documentary Music for Misfits recently hosted by Mark Radcliffe.

The station has developed a cult following with many ‘celebrities’ and musicians forming an orderly queue to host a show. It has also had it’s critics with the Mercury Music prize being a bone of contention for some people who think it’s elitist and not really for the ‘people.’

I say bollocks to that, I love it, and I urge you to give it a go if you haven’t tried it yet. If you’re a Radio 1 or Heart FM fan it might be a bit like Marmite for you…….but I LOVE Marmite!

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Beer, Balls and Disappointment – part 2

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After confessing my sins to my parents about my undercover first excursion to the holy ground, they were surprisingly OK about me going again. This could be because Celia’s dad always accompanied us but who knows. I certainly didn’t care as every fortnight I could get my fix of football and my blue clad heroes.

It soon became an obsession for Celia and me. Our fortnightly trips weren’t enough. We used to go to Maine Road when we could and walk down the back entries behind the team as they walked to Platt Fields park to train. Yes back in the day the team used to walk there in their kit and boots and walk back again covered in mud. Can’t imagine Yaya or Sergio doing that today if they had to!

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I remember one occasion we were waiting outside the main entrance to the club waiting for the team to come out after getting changed so we could get autographs. I spotted Big Helen, (the famous beehive hairdoo lady who sat in the ground ringing a huge bell at every match) clutching a large cardboard box. There were no signs of players emerging and Helen was looking anxious; making her way over to me she shoved the box in my hands. ‘Here, give these to big Joe (Corrigan) when he comes out, it’s a box of Penguin biscuits.’

I didn’t have time to argue, she was off like a shot leaving me holding the box like it was a bomb. I didn’t want the responsibility, I was only twelve, I certainly didn’t want to speak to big Joe……he was big Joe for god’s sake! I was quaking in my shoes and I didn’t want to hang around for autographs any more. What made it worse was Celia had to go home. I was left alone with a box of 50 penguin biscuits. What if I dropped them? What if they were all broken and Big Joe and Helen came looking for me??!!!

Five minutes passed which seemed like an age, then the big doors opened and a man as big as a house came strolling out. Big Joe was stood in front of me. My knees were shaking, I thrust the box at him, ‘Helen the Bells got these Penguins for you.’ He looked down, smiled at me, patted my shoulder and uttered the words ‘thanks love.’ then he was off. I was rooted to the spot as I watched him go, wishing Celia had been there to watch my proudest moment.

 

 

Read it in Books #1

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I love books, not just reading them but holding them, enjoying looking at the covers and reading the blurb. Most of all, I love the mystery that unravels at the turn of a page.  I couldn’t own a Kindle, I’d feel like a traitor to my best friends; silly I know, but there you go.

I don’t remember being taught to read at school. I just remember the teachers being amazed at how quickly I could read new words and plough through books. Later in my school days they’d be amazed at how shit I was at everything else, hey you can’t have it all!

In my blog, I’ll share will you my favourite books, thoughts on why I like certain authors and if I get the courage I’ll post the chapters of my latest novel as I complete them.

Let’s start at the beginning though shall we?

The Once and Future King – T.H White 

 

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This was the first book I ever devoured from cover to cover. I was around thirteen years old, I’d read loads of books, but this one was a turning point in my reading pleasure.

The Once and Future King was the story of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. It was the original (and best) game of thrones without the tits and ice.

The story tells of how Wart (Arthur) meets Merlyn who gives him a very different sort of education; turning Wart into a bird of prey, a fish and an ant. Why did he do this? To teach him about social groups and the order of things and it makes perfect sense to me. Could you imagine that today! OFSTEAD would have a fit at such unethical teaching  practices. Turning children into creatures would never make it to the curriculum even if it were possible, imagine the health and safety breaches!!

At times it was hard reading for me, there were lots of deep messages about relationships and such that I didn’t understand; for a children’s book it was very deep and dark. I think that’s why I loved it. I hadn’t read anything so fanciful before and the way it was written just appealed to me.

The second half of the book was particularly tricky, the harsher side of life, love and responsibility came to the fore and it didn’t seem as comforting in the latter chapters. The end of the book is terribly sad and I remember sobbing for ages until I decided to read it again almost instantly.

It’s a lovely book with great tales and important messages of kindness, loyalty and love. I’ve read it many times since and I would highly recommend it.

 

Clean Plates and Empty Glasses #1

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Over the next few blogs I will sharing with you my passion for food and drink. I will post some of my favorite recipes, tell you of the wines that tickle my tastebuds and post some reviews of places I love to eat.

Bon Appetit and Down the Hatch!!

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I love food, not in a gluttonous way  you understand but in a passionate sort of way. I love recipe books and articles about food in the Sunday papers. It’s strange then that I don’t like cookery programs; I’ve got no inclination towards the Hair Bikers or The Great British Bake Off, they just don’t cut the mustard (excuse the pun!).

For me, it’s all about the sacred act of cooking a meal; whether it’s for one, two or twelve, there is an art to cooking and this art should be respected, enjoyed and embraced in flour coated open arms.

I love eating out too. One of my friends on Facebook recently posted ‘do you ever eat at home?’ the answer is yes of course, but I like to worship food at different alters from time to time……..oh bollocks, lets be honest, lots of the time!!

DOWN THE HATCH

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Eat, drink and be merry. It’s hard to have a decent meal without a lovely bottle or three of something to go with it. Let me clarify again, I haven’t got a drink problem but I do love a drink.

If I could drink just one alcoholic drink every day it would be Champagne. Now before you go off on one let me explain. Don’t worry dearies, I’m too short, fat, and I’ve not got enough hair to be a WAG or a Real Housewife of Cheshire, so I’ve not taken leave of my senses.

My love of fizz comes from the fact that I genuinely love the taste, it doesn’t give me a hangover and a bottle could last all night….depending on the night and the company!  I’d rather have a bottle of Champagne (or Prosecco) and enjoy it than have several pints of cider just because they might be cheaper, which actually half the time they aren’t!

I’m quite at home drinking the house stuff in bars, though I wouldn’t turn my nose up at a bottle of Tattinger Nocturne if you insisted. I’m also quite happy to drink (horror of horrors!) Aldi’s finest fizz. I love the mellow taste, the bubbles on my tongue and the dry after taste. Plus I look more elegant when I’m not downing pints!!

I love Champagne glasses too, flutes, coupes, they all look so lovely and add something special to the drinking experience.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my fizz but I’m also happy with a pint of Stowford Press down the King’s  Arms on a Saturday afternoon.

Over the next few posts I’ll share some of my favourite drinking dens and tipples……….unless I’m too drunk to type!!