Bob Dylan. Manchester Apollo Oct 28 2015

There are some artists that you just have to see at least once in your life. And so it was that tickets for the great man Bob Dylan came into our hot sweaty little hands. The chance to strike another “legend” off the bucket list was too good an opportunity to pass up on, especially as at the age of 74 it was highly unlikely I would ever see him again so me and Beancounter jumped into the bangbus and we headed off to the Apollo in Manchester to see him.

We got to our seats a few minutes late so missed the first six minutes of the performance but there he was, looking frail and old and every single one of his 74 years. I had not expected him to be standing there with an acoustic and a mouth organ across his chest but the line up did surprise me. Consisting of drums, bass, guitar, steel guitar, violin and of course Bob on the piano. The music was great and well played even it if did have a feel of the Grand Ole Opry to it. Not what I expected at all. To be honest I was not sure what to expect but whatever it was, what I heard was not it. Anyway     after 45 minutes there was an intermission and the band walked off as the house lights went up.

After 20 minutes the band walked on and straight back into the music to rapturous applause. He and his band played for another 45 minutes before walking off stage once more from the stage without a word. Cue standing ovations and calls for the Great Man to reappear which he duly did and performed one encore before disappearing again. It is for this reason that I mentioned we were six minutes late. He did not as far as I can recall say anything to the audience at any stage. No “Hi Manchester, it’s good to be here”, “So long Manchester, it’s been a pleasure”, nothing at all. I think this is the first concert by anyone I have ever been to where the audience was not at least acknowledged.

Beancounter asked me what I thought of the show and I said the music was good but I did not recognise a single track that was played. Some of the music was vaguely familiar but I did not recognise a single track nor understand a single word he sang or should that be mumbled all night? I have to state that I have never been a great fan preferring his tracks when sung by someone else. I cannot think of any Dylan song I have ever heard over the last 50 years or so that did not sound better when performed or recorded by someone other than Bob. Hopefully this has not come across as criticism but merely a statement of the facts as I saw and heard them.

I appreciate that diehard Dylan fans will be foaming at the mouth and spitting vitriol and death threats in my direction at my recollections of the evening and some of the comments I have expressed here. However for the record I did enjoy the evening and I am glad I went to see him and his band. Would I go again? No. One night of the great man is enough for me and I will never forget this show if only for the wrong reasons.

Best wishes from Smokey

Well it has been some time has it not? Two and a half years almost. Despite rumours I have not passed away nor just got bored with blogging. However, there have been some dramatic changes in my life. The first, being a very long run in with a pack of black dogs. The second was my prolonged attempt to escape from a job that I grew to hate; in fact hate is not a strong enough word to describe how I felt. The third was the sale of Chateau Gastonbury which took over a year and finally moving in with the Beancounter at Kastle Kastanbury which is where I now live.

The Black dog which was joined by some of his friends and became what seemed like a pack. Each problem I encountered only increased the size of the pack and I ended off work and under medication. Work was the biggest problem, I liked the place, I liked most of the people, I even liked some of the bosses and the work in itself was not really of huge concern although it did contribute to the overall problem. The main cause of my intense dislike was the system I had to work under. Government changes and a succession of bosses who had either never worked on the shop floor or it been so long since they had that they had forgotten what it was like in the “field” were my biggest problem. Salvation came in the form of early retirement and the day after I retired half of the pack of black dogs faded into the distance.

Between my home going up for sale and retirement being offered Beancounters house was burgled with devastating mental effects. It took some time to come to terms not only with the loss of possessions but the realisation that the home had been violated and despite our best efforts we had not made it in the safe and fortress like haven we believed it to be. Although the insurance covered all the material goods the sentimental value of some of the items were beyond price and can never be replaced. As I tried to figure out the best forms of security by way of locks and doors another couple of dogs joined the ever growing pack that was snapping at my heels.

Chateau Gastonbury went up for sale a few weeks before my retirement. As a general election was looming and people were concerned over what might or might not happen to the financial markets and interest rates, interest was flat for six months but after the election and the subsequent return to overall power of the Tories, viewings picked up and 12months after going on the market I finally left what had been the family home for well over 60 years. Feelings were mixed as I left behind a host of memories both good and bad as I shut the front door for the final time but I had wanted to go for many years and as I moved into Kastle Kastanbury the last black dog disappeared from view.

The past two and a half years have not entirely been gloom and doom and thanks to the many friends, most of whom have been mentioned in this blog at some point, I have managed to come through the entire episode with no permanent scars. Special mention must go to Ted Magnum, Commander Riker, The Driver, a new group the Merseyriders and of course Beancounter. All of these people have put up with my rants, mood swings irrational and sometimes completely unpredictable behaviour and rarely complained.

The Merseyriders are a group of motorcyclists of mixed ages, riding abilities and riding styles ranging from boy racer and throttle fiend to the tootle along and view the scenery to hardcore all weather all conditions rider that go beyond just riding, it is a social group as well. I have been camping with these people, ridden to Belgium to commemorate the centenary of WW1, ridden to Normandy to see the beaches of the allied landings and the liberation of Europe and spent a few days out (nowhere as near as many as I would have liked) on my bike in their company. I have also spent many an enjoyable evening at events parties and social gatherings with these people. I am proud of the fact they count me among their membership and one of them. During some of the darkest moments, thinking about what we were going to get up to and planning trips away took my mind of some of the more troubling aspects of my life. It would be fair to say some of my most enjoyable periods of the last few years have been spent revving the bollox off my steed either trying to catch up with or leading this diverse bunch.

Ted Magnum has been another rock upon which I have leant rather heavily, our trips to often cold damp and miserable campsites coupled with his insufferable moaning and pessimistic outlook has often meant at least someone was unhappier than me!

Commander Riker and his other half (they got married the weekend just gone) Rock chick, have perhaps understood more than most the problems I had with work as they both worked with me for several years. The three of us all had some issues with work and at least for a period of time we had each other to lean on. Commander Riker was the first to go and then Rock chick which left me feeling isolated at times. We have now all left the “firm” and it is fair to say none of us have looked back since.

As I mentioned earlier Beancounter has borne the brunt of all my misfortunes, trials and tribulations either real or imagined and seen me at my worst. She is still here and I am as surprised as many of my friends that she stuck it out and did not boot me into the long grass a long time ago but we are now living together under the same roof. I had sworn many years ago that I would never live with another woman so this is a learning curve for the pair of us. I am sure there will be mistakes along the way but it is fair to say I am not the same man I was a few years ago. Mature, mellow, wiser and more understanding are some of the words that I am sure she would like to say in any description of me, sadly that is not the case. If anything more cynical, more pessimistic certainly more immature and a lot less tolerant would certainly be closer to the reality, however I am back maybe not with a bang but I am back.

It has not been possible to describe all of the developments and events of the last few years in a single post so I will be trying to fill in the gaps over the next few entries along with what is left of my aspirations and dreams. Till then take care with best wishes from Smokey…..

Cannich revisted part one, The plan

Having missed the ride out to Cannich the previous year I contacted the organisers early in the year to see if it was happening again. Thankfully it was and a date was set for May. Eagerly I told Beancounter we were going away to Scotland for 10 days and not to make any alternate plans. I also contacted Touring Ted who said he and his missus would like to come along but did not fancy going two up on a bike ride with camping gear for 10 days. So, a plan was hatched and with the aid of the back of a fag packet and a pencil along with a few beers for inspiration we designed a bike trailer that would take two bikes and the four of us would go in a van wiath enough camping gear to be comfortable.

By the beginning of February we had enough steel to rebuild the Titanic and work started in earnest on our engineering project. Ted has also just started a new job which meant the hours we had to construct this behemoth would be at best limited. Coupled alongside a very cold winter which meant it was freezing in his workshop during the evenings we could get together and it was becoming obvious progress would be sedentary at best. It was so cold we struggled for the first hour to get his log fire going in the garage and after a short while it was time to clean up and put all the gear away so very little happened. During hours of head scratching and teeth chattering a construction of sorts was taking change shape albeit at a tortuously slow pace.

Then came bombshell one, Teds missus could not make the voyage due to work commitments. This was followed by bombshell number two, Beancounter did not want to be gooseberry to us two running around the woods gathering firewood and making camp fires of towering inferno proportions while consuming large amount s of alcohol and she dropped out. Naturally this dampened our spirits a little as we no longer needed the trailer, we could just ride up there but the 10 hour ride was something neither of us fancied and just on costs alone the fuel required by the two bikes would be double that of the van and trailer.

Over 12 weeks and with lots of fettling the behemoth took shape weighing in at around 250 kgs and with suspension to handle 750 kgs so we named it the Brunel model. With only 1 full Sunday before the ride out we intended to finish the beast off but the weather got the better of us. We rolled the trailer out into the sunshine where the white paint reflected what was left of the fading sunshine and managed to get the two bikes onto the back and then the heavens opened. The tie down points and the size and shape of the ramp were going to be settled once we had the bikes in position. This was not helped by the fact it was parked on the slope of the work shop drive. The back of the trailer was much higher than it would have been on level ground. I was holding my own bike up while we worked out where to position the final tie down points but it was so wet and slippy that after an hour I gave up and we struggled to the get bikes off the trailer again. The trailer would not be finished or road tested before we would set off and we decided to ride the bikes up.

The plan had gone horribly wrong.

no one does austerity like we Brits.

It’s now five years since the start of the current recession and it is truly the longest lasting in my lifetime. Sadly it shows no sign of recovery and by all accounts it looks set to become worse. Companies are still laying people off and unemployment queues around the globe are increasing in size. I count myself as lucky, I still have a job and unless there is something I do not know it remains fairly secure.  Of course the recession has not left me completely unscathed, any plans I had for leaving the UK have been well and truly scuppered and it looks as though I will have to admit defeat and accept the fact I am going to have to remain here for the foreseeable future and probably forever. It is something I have felt for sometime and had hoped it would go away.

I wrote in my last post that BC and me had been to Memphis, well after  stopping in a bar called Slinky O’Sullivans in Beale street and listening to two guys entertaining the audience I became inspired enough to take up music once more. I stopped playing over 25 years ago mainly because I was not very good.  I have however wanted a Gibson SG ever since I first heard Angus Young in my teens so I decided I should strike another item off my bucket list and use up some of the money I had put away. Thanks to the recession it was not gaining any interest and no matter how hard I saved I would never have enough to leave.  So, not long after arriving home I ordered a brand new natural red wood finish SG and several days later it arrived. It is gorgeous. Not content with this purchase and chasing the same thoughts that led me to buy the SG I bought a Telecaster and was instantly amazed that it is more enjoyable to play and sounds better than the SG.

These two additions join the other guitars I have which were gathering dust under the stairs. They have all been cleaned and restrung and I now have in total 6 guitars consisting of a Gretsch Committee, A Fender acoustic, and two Bass guitars. The Bass guitars are a Fender Jazz and a Tanglewood EB, both impressive instruments. It is not my intention to play in public or even in front of company although I may play along with friends. Instead I am playing purely for my own enjoyment and amusement and my fingertips have got over the painfull stage even if they have not reached the dexterity and speed I want them to. I no longer care if I am not very proficient or good as long as I enjoy strumming away and it should give me something to keep the Black Dog at bay during the long winter nights.

It was the Drivers 50th birthday a few short days ago and BC and I went along to join him in his celebrations which had been set up with some degree of secrecy by his other half, the Drivers Mate! The Driver had an inkling that something was going on even if he did not know exactly what and it was with some difficulty that I got him to the pub to get him out of the house. During the time we were out, BC and the Drivers Mate sprang into life and transformed the house and garden into party central. It was with even more difficulty that I managed to get him back from the pub within an hour of the time I was supposed to and we half staggered back to the welcoming committee awaiting him. It was truly memorable weekend although I suspect a few of us don’t remember everything that went on.

There is a rumour and whisper it in hushed tones, but summer may have at long last arrived in the UK. It has not rained for several days and the sun has been out. I have actually managed to cut the grass and trim hedges. I have even seen Roger Moor out in the garden and his patch of land has been transformed from Wildlife Park to something you would be proud to sit in. There are even pretty young things parading in short summery skirts and skimpy tops!  Whilst my friends in OZ are complaining that it is bitterly cold and it is only 25C we are baking in temperatures of 20+C. We need to make the most of it.

The London Olympics is almost finished and while I am not a fan of them I have felt proud whenever the national anthem has been played. The opening ceremony which was created on a fraction of the budget that Beijing had four years ago has been held to critical acclaim worldwide and I actually felt proud to be British for once. It seems our quirky sense of humour and history may not have been understood by all across the globe but it was admired. They may have been dubbed the austerity Olympics but no one does austerity like we Brits.

The Fourth Reich may be a joke but…..

What a month! I returned from a two week holiday in Memphis at the end of May and life has been non stop since then. My brother and his wife arrived and stayed for a week and while I love my brother and it was great to see him it was almost seven days of non stop lung and liver abuse. My internal organs must have breathed a collective sigh of relief when he drove off. As Usual the British summer has been a washout, in fact since I started this blog five years ago each summer has been successively worse than the last one. Indeed it does make one wonder whether or not I have jinxed our weather by continuing with this on line collection of thoughts and events.

 The garden is looking so forlorn as the weeds take hold and the grass shoots up accompanied by the hedges that now require a petrol trimmer to keep them in shape. As for crops forget it, I have decided to leave the garden fallow for this year. I have not even been able to take Rhonda out as the conditions are so miserable and she does require some TLC. A service is due soon and again that will be weather pending.

 Regular followers of this blog will remember the entry about Shell Island last year and the disaster with the tent. You may also remember I bought another large tent and enough gear to live in one permanently. What I did not have was a vehicle large enough to carry all this gear around in. My faithful old Ford Focus had 130,000 miles on the clock and it was time to replace the old girl. I swapped the focus for a Citroen Berlingo plus cash from my mate Ted Magnum and now I have the means to transport tents, beds, field kitchens, wardrobes and furniture around but not the weather to go any where. Bean Counter is not exactly pleased with my choice of vehicle and has likened it to an orange on wheels due to its gold colouring. I have discovered it is easy to find in a car park.

 Enough of the weather, it is depressing writing about it, it must be equally depressing reading about it. Between BC and myself we took over four hundred photographs from our trip to the States which will feature in a series of entries in the travel section. As users of digital cameras will know a number is assigned to each photo which does not give any one any idea of what the photo was about. So I have spent what ever time I can renaming over four hundred photographs and when that is complete I will then upload a selection of them into the gallery with appropriate captions. I can say the trip was life changing and changed some of my thoughts and preconceptions about music, barbecue, civil rights and the American dream, mainly for the good but a small percentage for the worse. It was interesting to hear the views on Europe as whole and particularly Britain from several people we met. In general it was not flattering.

 I can understand and relate to how things must seem to the outside world especially as Spain has just received a large bail out for its banks, the fourth country to ask for financial aid from the European central bank and European monetary fund. Cyprus although a very small country is also asking for aid because its economy is tied into the Greek economy which is so bad it is almost terminal. No one is talking any bets on whether Greece will leave the Euro it is a case of when. This leaves Italy which it has been rumoured will also require a bail out. Should this happen the Euro will be truly dead and buried and the biggest social experiment in History will be declared to have been an abject failure. In spite of this many Europhiles have demanded that the cure is not less government interference and fewer rules and regulations but more and there should be just one government for the continent and one set of rules and financial policy which would apply to all members of the European Union.

When our American cousins watch this drama unfold it is easy to see why they think we are in the grips of radical socialism and their closest ally is in danger of being swamped by Germany which is the largest and currently healthiest economy in Europe. UK news commentators are openly jesting about the Fourth Reich. While this may be politically incorrect they are commenting that Germany has swapped tanks and battle ships for a calculator and a balance sheet and are in danger of achieving the same result for far less outlay. President Obama may be the most powerful man in the world but the most powerful woman is Angela Merkel. The Fourth Reich may be a joke but…..

The Answer. Manchester 2012

The band            The Answer
The venue          Manchester Academy
Location             Manchester
Date                      13/03/2012

Back in February 2009 I took Bean counter to Paris to see ACDC at the Bercy stadium. Supporting the main act that night were an Irish band by the name of the Answer. I was impressed enough by the support to decide if they ever toured the UK as a headline in their own right I would go along and see them. As luck would have it in mid March 2012 they headlined at the Manchester academy along with a support act of their own and me and BC went to see them. In fairness it should be pointed it was a double headline act but the Answer finished the night and as far as I am concerned that means topping the bill.

If you not seen or heard of the Answer they are a 4 piece full on rock outfit consisting of drums, bass, guitar and vocals with the ability to bang out a good blues track every now and then. The vocalist is a bundle of energy in the Angus Young mould of never standing still and managing to look like cousin IT from the Adams family with St Vitas dance. He dived into the audience during “Preacher” and managed to get everyone around him to sit in a circle. This sort of thing is quite normal up north and does not happen a lot in the Hammersmith Odeon. The set list consisted of something old, don’t follow me and too far gone with lots of new stuff from the revival album. As a night it was pure rock with the venue packed to the rafters enhancing the atmosphere. I was jumping up and down like an 18 year old on crack by the third song. If you have not seen this outfit, go and see them now before they reach stadium level where they will be the size of matchsticks. I am sure you will not be disappointed. Check out their website for more details

Of course the crowd had been warmed up by the previous band the Union.  Formed by Luke Morley thunders ex guitarist this is a powerful rock band with a couple of albums under their belt. Check out their debut album Union and the follow up Sirens song.  The vocalist (Pete Shoulder) dominates the stage with a throaty powerful voice and the ability to tell a tale. His story of how the band were stopped by the police on the way down to Manchester and probably faced a hefty fine on their return went down well. I was in party mood long before they left the stage. I had not heard of this band before but their albums are on my Xmas wish list.

Well before we arrived and shortly after booking the tickets the pair of us decided we would stay the night in Manchester so we could have a drink and something to eat rather than face the drive home and the associated traffic. What we required was a place not too far away from the Academy and not too noisy. And so it was that I stumbled upon the Martin Luther king hotel which fitted in with what we needed and with the price being right I booked for one night. I never gave it a moment’s thought until we arrived in the grounds of the hotel and I thought this looks like an old college or school. And so it was that I had booked us into a theological retreat. I suppose the name should have given it away but I just assumed it was a trendy name like Mandela walks which are given out randomly by the “right on” PC brigade.

I can tell you it in is fact a charming place and if you ever want peace and quiet within the inner city this is the place to go. I could see me staying there for a couple of days to recharge my batteries and unwind but probably not for much longer than that. With an epic concert and a comfortable bed it really was a great night.

Pinstripe terrorists

Yes yes I know it has been some time but there are mitigating circumstances. Firstly things happen so fast that by the time I get chance to write them down they are already old news. Secondly my ISP YAK YAK has gone on the blink again. Honestly they should be called MUTE MUTE. They are indeed the worst ISP I have ever had. Ok I can hear you saying why does he not change provider then? Well, the location of Chateau Gastanbury means that the nearest exchange is miles away and the copper cables will not get me any better speed regardless of what ever ISP I choose to go with. Secondly each one wants a contract of a minimum of 12 months and in the case of BT it is 18 months. This means if I move I will be paying for a contract I cannot use and cannot get out of. So I am stuck with the worst service provider in the UK. Don’t even get me started on ringing up their helpdesk. The screen apes read from a script and then after an hour or so proudly tell you they cannot fix the problem but they are moving you up to a level two service engineer who will call me back but they can’t say when. I hope YAK YAK go into liquidation and each screen ape ends up signing on they are as useless as the company they work for.

At long last the short cold winter months have finally gone to be replaced by the cold damp if slightly longer spring months. To be fair there have been one or two good days since the solstice but the thermostat on the heating system tells the real story and the gas is burning constantly to keep the house to a reasonable temperature. Yet more work has taken place at Chateau Ghastanbury and the bay window over the living room has been re-felted and sealed. There really is not much more to do, it is a case of finding the inspiration and that has been sadly lacking during the current financial climate which shows no sign of abating despite what the financial commentators of the day say.

Just to prove spring has arrived my old friends the collared doves are back and they are battling it out with a squadron of Magpies for the right to live in the silver birch tree at the bottom of the Tilers garden. Currently the Magpies are winning on sheer numbers alone however Genghis and the local cats seemed to have ganged up on the Magpies as well. When I was little I used to think that Magpies were lovely creatures but now I have come to hate them. They are loud, brash, bullying and cruel showing no mercy to anything that stands in their way. The only thing I can credit them with is the fact they will take on creatures much bigger than themselves, indeed they are no cowards.

In the “could not make it up” stakes, the financial affairs of Europe are in such a state they hardly cause concern any more. Yes the Greeks have had two bail outs so far and we know there will be more, the betting is on when Spain and Italy will present the begging bowl. The great experiment called the Euro zone single currency looks doomed to failure. This in itself seems to be a generational problem as the youngest in our society do not seem to understand what the fuss is about and the older ones cannot understand why anyone even tried to create a single currency across so many foreign and diverse cultures and financial systems. It probably sounded great when someone thought we could all have North European wages, Southern European hours, Irish taxes and East European prices.

Should any of my friends who left these shores for sunnier climes and fame and fortune doubt the decision they made, let me remind them of the price of Petrol in the UK. It is £6.31 a gallon. That is the cheapest I can find it in any of the areas around here. When the Tiler left here it was under £4 a gallon. In some places it is considerably more and a threatened tanker drivers strike induced panic buying and over three days most garages ran out of fuel. On more than one occasion I could not take Rhonda out for a spin because I could not obtain any fuel. If the price of petrol is causing palpitations wait till you hear about gas and electricity. Four years ago my combined gas and electricity bill were around 450-500 pounds a year. Today they are over a £1000 in spite of insulation and the sparing use of each commodity. It is hard to understand why prices have risen so much. I think everyone understands about inflation and we all expect a small increase in prices year on however commodities have rocketed beyond inflation leading to a belief that prices are increasing due to speculators whims.

This would put commodity brokers and speculators on a par with bankers in the popularity stakes but the reality is that they are lining their own pockets at the expense of those who can least afford it. Tales of tankers anchored off shore waiting for petrol prices to rise before they land and discharge their cargo are not uncommon around oil terminals and ports. Wheat and flour is being stored until prices rise to maximize profits for the lucky few. Freedom fighters and martyrs may be causing mayhem but in the background is a bunch of commodity brokers slowly starving the West into submission, indeed they may as well be classed as a pinstripe terrorists.

Rush October 2007

The Band:                   Rush
Venue:                         MEN
Location:                     Manchester
Date :                          14/10/2007

For what seems like the first time in Ages me and the bean Counter went to Manchester and stayed overnight. “The occasion?” I hear you ask, A concert by Rush to celebrate 30 years together and what a concert it was. The best light show I have ever seen in an indoor arena. As for the music well it was everything that rock n roll stands for. Self indulgent solo’s, long complicated tracks and deafening noise and a blistering 3 hour set. The tour was to publicise Rush’s new album “Snakes and Arrows”. While the new material is excellent the loudest applause was of course for the old stuff such as “Passage to Bangkok”, “Spirit of Radio”, “Tom Sawyer” etc. To be fair it was not about sex, drugs and rock n roll. If you want that kind of stuff go and see ACDC or The Who.

The only downside to the evening was the venue. Thrombosis inducing seats, no room to stretch or carry out any of the exercises the airlines advise on long haul flights. You can no longer stand at seated arenas for fear of the wrath of the Nazi Elf n Safety marshals threatening you with ejection if you don’t sit down again and then there is the design of the building. The main corridor is a circular affair with the toilets and food stalls and merchandising stands spread out along its length. This means that if there are queues at any of the stands you can’t get past to walk around with any ease. Added to this the marshals will not let anyone leave the building even to obtain fresh air and it was stiflingly hot in there. If you do you will not be allowed back in again. It was my third time at the MEN and it will be my last.

Peter Frampton November 2011

The Band             Peter Frampton
Venue                  Bridgewater Hall
Location               Manchester
Date                      11/11/2011

For those too young to remember, Peter Frampton was one of the biggest selling rock artists of the 70’s. A member of the Herd for 3 years before forming Humble Pie with Steve Marriot and after 5 albums he left the Herd to became a solo artist. His most successful album, probably his greatest and the one he is usually remembered for is “Frampton Comes Alive” released in 1976. It was this album that first brought him to my attention.

To celebrate the 35th anniversary of the double album “Frampton Comes Alive” Pete took to the road to perform all of the tracks from the ground breaking album live. The Celebration tour kicked off in Manchester and I was lucky enough to get tickets to see him. The hair may have gone and the waist may have thickened ever so slightly and but the talent is still there and so is the voice. The dexterity in his fingers shows no sign of slowing down or loss. The whole of the double album was played in one sitting and was as faithful to the original recording as it was possible to be. “Do you feel like we do” still had the hairs on the back of my neck standing up even after 35 years. 35 years? Where does the time go? Sadly Bob Mayo is with us no more but this was excellent vintage stuff.

After the “live” album set list was finished there was an interval and then our hero strode onto the stage and performed: Asleep At The Wheel, Restraint, Float, Boot It Up, Double Nickels, Vaudeville Nanna And The Banjolele, Road To The Sun, Black Hole Sun, Four Day Creep, Off The Hook and While My Guitar Gently Weeps. All in all a blistering set performed with craft that rolled back the years and belied his age. I may never get the chance to see him again but I won’t forget this concert in a hurry.

For more information check out Pete’s website.

Mothership February 2012

The band:            Mothership
The venue:         Pacific Road Arts Centre
Location:             Birkenhead Wirral
Date:                     03/02/2012

When you go to see a tribute band you know roughly what you are going to get. In some cases it is the nearest you may come to seeing your real life heroes. I never saw Led Zeppelin live and it is now impossible to see ever see the original line up even if those who are left were to play again. So when the opportunity came to see a Zeppelin tribute band I thought why not. I have been to see a lot of tribute bands in the past including the Australian Pink Floyd and Limehouse Lizzy. Some of the bands have been great and some have been decidedly so so.  Sadly this fantastic venue is under threat of closure so it was possibly a last opportunity to see anyone perform here.

The last Zeppelin tribute band I saw here were Awholelottaled and they were OK if not surprisingly the “real deal”. I had high hopes for Mothership and the band came straight on with no support to warm the crowd up for them and launched into their set which included classics such as Rock’n’Roll , Black Dog, Whole lotta Love and of course Stairway to heaven, never my favourite track at the best of times. A storming set of 2 hours was only marred by technical problems with the sound. At times all I could hear was the ringing of Hi Hats and at others the speakers in the PA sounded as though the cones had been ripped out. The acoustic section of the performance was held up while they found a new battery for the pick up on the jumbo acoustic.

Some excellent guitar work accompanied vocals that were at times the nearest thing I had heard to the original so far. When they were good they were very good and when they were not so good they were still OK. Kashmir and the Lemon Song were for me at least the highlights of this performance and yes I would go and see them again