Archive for November 2015

Gig review – The Waterboys, Venue Cymru, Sunday 29/11/15

The Waterboys logoHaving seen The Waterboys several times in the last three or four years, I had a reasonable idea of what to expect. What I expected was a rousing performance, with passion and virtuosity wrapped around leader Mike Scott’s strong songs. They are one of those bands that, for me anyway, are always best appreciated in performance, rather than on the stereo in the living room. And in all of these respects, it was the case last night.

Scott’s current band has a very strong line-up – Zach Ernst on lead guitar, Muscle Shoals sessions bass player David Hood, “Brother” Paul Brown on keyboards, with stalwarts Ralph Salmins on drums and Steve Wickham on fiddle. They all gelled extremely well, and it was obvious that they were massively enjoying playing together.

The set lasted about an hour and 45 minutes, and consisted of a fairly even mixture of old and new material, with number of songs from their new album, “Modern Blues”. with “Rosalind (You Married The Wrong Guy)” being particularly memorable. But it’s unfair to single one song out of such a strong set. The only oddity was a cover, played straight, of Chuck Berry’s “Roll Over Beethoven” – good enough, but a little out of keeping with the rest of the songs.

The only disappointment was that the support act, Jarrod Dickenson, pulled out of the gig due to illness – hopefully not serious. Having to wait around for the hour between the start of the support slot and the scheduled time for The Waterboys could have been more productively spent, but it passed eventually, and the gig ended up being well worth the wait.

There are still several dates left on the current UK leg of The Waterboys tour, so if you get a chance to go, I recommend it – you won’t be disappointed.

Set list:

Destinies Entwined
Still a Freak
A Girl Called Johnny
We Will Not Be Lovers
Nearest Thing to Hip
Rosalind (You Married the Wrong Guy)
Medicine Bow
Glastonbury Song
Roll Over Beethoven
Song of Wandering Aengus
Wonders of Lewis
The Return of Jimi Hendrix
Don’t Bang the Drum (Mike Scott & Steve Wickham duo)
The Whole of the Moon
Long Strange Golden Road


How Long Will I Love You?
Fisherman’s Blues

Keep an eye out for these “free” CDs, music fans

Tubular Bells - Tubular Bells - free CD from The Daily Mail

Free Tubular Bells CD from The Daily Mail

They don’t seem to be so common now, but just a few years ago, newspapers were falling over themselves to give away free CDs. Most of them were compilations, built around either decades or genres, or sometimes both – “Soul Hits of the 60s”, that kind of thing. The duplication of the mostly cheesy songs between these CDs was huge, and as there were literally hundreds of the blessed things, you could end up with the same tracks many times over, destined never to be listened to.

Occasionally, though, they’d give away proper albums or EPs by single artists or bands. And not just dreck, either – some of them were absolute classics. Some of the ones that I know of are listed below, but if you didn’t know about them, and they’d somehow managed to pass you by unnoticed, all is not lost. They often turn up in charity shops – I volunteer in one, and my role is to sort out the donations of music and video. (I know – dirty work, but someone has to do it…)

I have about forty of them and they form a significant part of my music collection. Some of the best of the ones that I have come across include:

  • “Tubular Bells” – Mike Oldfield
  • “Strange Days” – The Doors
  • “Oxygene” – Jean-Michel Jarre
  • “iSelect” – David Bowie
  • A Roxy Music Greatest Hits collection
  • Peter Gabriel – this one is particularly wonderful
  • Crosby, Stills and Nash
  • Carly Simon
  • Art Garfunkel – at least two different ones
  • “Live in Los Angeles” and “Memory Almost Full” – Paul McCartney
  • Elton John – a double CD set of Elton John’s legendary covers from early in his career
  • The Everly Brothers – a double CD set of their hits
  • John Lennon
  • plus many, many more by artists such as Pet Shop Boys, Ray Davies, Madness, Simple Minds, Paul Weller, Dusty Springfield, Simply Red, Badly Drawn Boy, David Gray, Tina Turner, Tom Jones, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye – the list goes on and on. But this far from an exhaustive list.

Just pop into the charity shops in your area and have a look. You may just be in luck! Most charity shops charge a pittance for these CDs; as they were give-aways to start with, many charity shops don’t “charge” for them, but ask for a donation instead.

The nice thing about buying them this way is that, as most of them were given away by some of the crappier newspapers, you don’t have to actually buy the papers that gave them away. It is slightly disappointing that it was the rags that tended to issue them.

You can find fairly exhaustive lists of these CDs at – just search for the name of the newspaper, and the list of releases will be shown under a “pseudo-label”. Here, for example, is the Daily Mail’s list of releases at

There were many, if not more, full-movie DVDs given away. I’ll post about this sometime soon.


Resuming in 3, 2, 1…

I’d not posted for a while, not least because the blog went toes-up after updating WordPress to 4.2.2 – one of the plug-ins was incompatible and brought the whole house of cards down. Having been a bit busy with other stuff, my attention was diverted somewhat, and it took a while to get around to sorting it out.

Nonetheless, here it is, back in all its tawdry glory.

On attending a protest demonstration

I was privileged to attend my first protest demonstration for many years in Llangefni on the Isle of Anglesey last Saturday, 21 November 2015. The event, entitled A Day To Celebrate Diversity, was a rally intended to counter a rally by a neo-Nazi group calling themselves The North Wales Infidels.

It was a cold day, with a little bit of sleety rain, but not too inclement. I had no idea how many people might turn up, only having heard of the event myself the day before, via Facebook. However, in light of recent events, not just in Paris, but wherever in the world they take place, I considered it a kind of duty to get out and show my opposition to the sort of hate-rhetoric that fascists like to spout in response.

As it turned out, the event was very well-attended, at least on our side. On the fascists side, not so much. There were only about 40 of them, and we outnumbered them, even by conservative estimates, by about ten to one. I think they were even outnumbered by the uniformed police that were on duty.

They conformed to their stereotypical image perfectly, right down to the significant number of overweight, shaven-headed, scarf-masked, knuckle-dragging specimens, radiating malhomie. One or two obliged with Nazi salutes, and even one swastika tattoo on the back of a thick neck. Lovely.

But in the interview that one gave to ITV News, he was careful to point out that he wasn’t racist. No, of course you aren’t.

By contrast, the counter-protesters were an amiable, well-behaved and diverse bunch, representing all ages groups and social backgrounds. There were lots of speeches by politicians, organisers and even a secular speech by a church leader. Tea and coffee were drunk, and cake eaten (kindly provided, free of charge by a local catering van operator), drums were banged (loudly) and love and tolerance was espoused by all. No hint of hatred or trouble.

This was all fine and good, and when the crowd dispersed, everyone went away with, no doubt, a rosy glow of having done something worthwhile. And so we had. But I don’t doubt for one minute that we made not the slightest dent on the tiny minds of those that we were protesting against.

I wonder what sort of society the fascists want to see. Judging by the symbols that they adopt, the language they use, and the politics that they promote, I guess it’s a return to something like the Germany of the 1930s, where minorities and specific groups of people are scapegoated for the perceived ills of the wider society, and are openly persecuted for it. They, of course, would be its stormtroopers.

Perish the thought.