Gig Review: @Wonk_Unit , The Viking Club, Corby, 25th June 2016

The intimacy of a D.I.Y. Punk show can’t be beaten, seeing such talent up close and personal with an audience of around 100 is simply awesome. Personally, I’ve never felt so comfortable at such a small gig. I have in the past felt overwhelmed being so close to the action, but Wonk Unit were so at ease with their own presence that I forgot how small the venue was and about my proximity to the band.

DSC_9751

Alex is one of the most self-assured frontmen I’ve ever encountered – he is what he is, nothing hidden, nothing wasted. The man is a poet and proved as much when he recited Bricks to me as I was buying a t-shirt. With chops that were tighter than the locks on Edward Snowden’s window and a wit sharper than a papercut, he brought lashings of poetic humour into the entire show.

DSC_9763

Guitarist Benny Banana’s hairstyle is fascinating. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it – so striking, like a London Punx version of the Hair Bear Bunch.

DSC_9754

Favourite songs of the night were the mantra-like “Nan”, the staccato, spirited “Horses” and a punk anthem in the form of “Lewisham”.

DSC_9774

These guys are a breath of fresh air. Brutally honest, switching between genres with the frequency that a bored kid changes TV channels, genuinely unique and hilarious without even trying to be. I have grown incredibly fond of Wonk Unit in a very short space of time.

DSC_9667

Can’t wait to see you again soon, my friends.

DSC_9690

Gig Review: @BadReligion at Hammersmith Apollo @EventimApollo June 22nd 2016 – words by @GuitarTutorRich

I’m currently sporting bruises upon bruises from the front of stage pit; my 14th Bad Religion gig was as it should be – carnage.

I’ve been watching these guys for a quarter of a century now, right back as far as their second ever UK Show at Tufnell Park Dome on July 3rd 1991.

DSC_9488

Over the years the line ups have changed and the music has become more sophisticated and multi-faceted, but the essential melodic punk backbone has remained very intact.

DSC_9457

Adhering to a murderous pace, BR smashed out 18 songs in short order with little time for either band, or moshpitters to draw breath. As is the norm, we are presented with a set replete with unexpected ingredients – 7 tracks from the magnificent “Suffer” album, including the bombastic “Delirium of Disorder” and the pertinent “You are the Government” as well as neck breaking versions of “Atomic Garden” and “Modern Man”.

DSC_9514

‘The Serb’ (on 2nd guitar) seemed fuelled by Amphetamine flavoured chewing gum as he slashed and burned his way through riff after riff – the wiry cool looking dude is also a marathon runner, and it shows!

DSC_9538

New boy Jamie Miller on traps lacks the articulate precision finesse of Brooks Wackerman, but offers us a bludgeoning presence more in the vein of Peter Finestone, BR’s original drummer.

DSC_9527

Bad Religion’s following and fanbase has always been of the most loyal and obsessive kind – lyrics are important from such a band, and this crowd knew every goddam word, ranting them hoarsely back at the stage. Jay Bentley is a giant of a man, standing at least 6 ‘5” he dominates stage left and summons up a bass sound to disembowel bison with.

DSC_9515

Hammy Odeon is a nice big old London auditorium – I imagine singer Greg Graffin will feel he can sleep comfortably tonight now that his band have played the legendary Hammersmith venue.

DSC_9501

There are feverish rumours of a new record in 2017, and with it a fervent prayer that Bad Religion will stick around for a 40th anniversary tour from this much beloved band.

Words by Richard Mackman

Photos by Fi Stimpson

Gig Review: Bryan Ferry at Burghley House, Stamford, 11th June 2016. @BryanFerry @BurghleyHouse

On Saturday 12th June 2016, Bryan Ferry came to Stamford town… with a band amounting to the population of a small village, he was certainly well prepared for the 10,000-odd people who had turned up to see the former Roxy Music singer.

DSC_8182

Kicking off with “Avonmore”, Ferry shifts smoothly into “Driving Me Wild” and follows it up with a swoon-worthy performance of “Slave to Love”. It’s difficult to believe that moments beforehand he was reportedly having a snooze backstage. If that’s true, there was no evidence of post-nap wooziness! What a pro!

DSC_8386

The remainder of the set list did not disappoint, with a mix of his solo work, popular and much-loved Roxy Music songs and covers that he and his incredible band (those backing singers – they got soul! Amazing voices!) made their own.

DSC_8337

DSC_8263

DSC_8277

DSC_8222

DSC_8333

DSC_8217

The crowd were on top form – fuelled by a slightly boozy, slightly hazy, slightly drizzly afternoon and whatever delights were on the picnic tables, they were singing every word and dancing the night away. All the while, thousands of adoring eyes were locked on Bryan Ferry’s every deliberately mesmerising move.

Highlights of the show were “While My Heart is Still Beating” and “Virginia Plain” – it’s verging on the surreal to hear songs you know and love in such majestic setting, and I won’t forget it in a hurry!

Set List:

Avonmore

Driving Me Wild

Slave to Love

Ladytron

Don’t Stop the Dance

Beauty Queen

Oh Yeah

Bob Dylan’s Dream

Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

Bete Noire

Zamba

Stronger Through the Years

Tara

Take a Chance with Me

While My Heart Is Still Beating

If There Is Something

More Than This

Avalon

Love Is the Drug

Virginia Plain

Both Ends Burning

Let’s Stick Together

Jealous Guy

Do the Strand

Editions of You

DSC_8202

DSC_8345

DSC_8243