Tag Archive: london


Own a piece of (burnt) London

I’ve kept schtum about the moronic hoards that have destroyed hard-working people’s businesses, properties and communities during the past few days. In the past, the disenfranchised rioted because they had nothing or were rallying against a political idea or even massed against injustice. But over the last few days, there’s been none of this. It has been opportunist chaos, a chance to raise hell and not face the consequences. It’s sad because the only people they are hurting are themselves because it is their own communities that have been damaged. Money will drift out of the area and those businesses won’t return – the infrastructure weakened, you turn your community into a ghetto. Well done, have a banana! Pat yourself on the back with the self-satifised glow of idiot glee.

The fallout (and I mean literal fallout) has been huge chunks of ashes from the local riots drifting out to us. In the garden and around our property are large chunks of burnt wood – the remnants of the riots.

Should I put them on eBay and give others the opportunity to own a genuine piece of the action?

A genuine piece of burnt London

Own your own piece of the action...contact me for details!

Concert Review: Madness at The Royal Festival Hall, 17 June 2011

Madness 17-06-11 Ticket

Madness, yes they call it madness...

Last night I slummed it, dear reader. Yes, instead of stroking my chin to 20-minute progressive rock epics about starship troopers or killer fish, I was bopping to some two-tone style classics.

It’s hard to review a band with Madness’s pedigree. They are a multi-limbed juggernaut of hits. They cannot be stopped. They will just roll over you like a steam roller, so it is best just to wallow in the nostalgia, enjoy the new stuff and do your best to sing along.

It was my first visit to the RFH since the refurbishment thanks to my self-imposed exile and I was duly impressed with the changes and the comfort of the new seating. Of course, there’s never enough legroom, but what can you do about it? Hire a wheelchair and do a “Lou and Andy” in order to get to the best seats. That has crossed my mind on numerous occasions…

The striking thing about the night was not the band or the music, it was the audience and their complete lack of co-ordination. For I have never witnessed such a shambolic attempt at “dancing” in my life. It was as if five bus loads of lobotomised, highly-sedated, old age pensioners had been shoved into the hall and instructed to “do their stuff”.

Then there was the hooray henry behind me who had been to grammar school, owned all the albums and proceeded to bore his female associate/girlfriend with his knowledge of Ray Davis, Madness, the Meltdown festival and any other subject that might come his way. His mouth was lubricated by a large pinot grigio “I saw the small, and the medium and realised that the large was the only way to go,” he said as his voice seemed to get louder and louder. Throughout the concert he would shout, holler and whistle and generally be the twat of the gig, and I had him behind me. I’d had a couple of gigs like this before, and this is why I prefer to be sober at concerts because if I’d had a few sherberts inside me I think I would have told the toe-rag to shut his pie-hole and enjoy the music. Unfortunately, this would have been accompanied with a threat of violence.

But yes, the audience was predominantly OLD and I kept hearing Pete “It was for research” Townshend’s words “I hope I die before I get old” echoing in my head, which is a bit trite from someone who has just entered middle-age. Fuck me, I’m middle-aged! No-one sent me the manual…

The band were impeccable, thundering through all the hits and were what you expected. I paid for an evening of Madness doing their thing and that’s what I got, and cannot be disappointed with that. Ray Davies actually introduced the band, but it was hard to follow what he was saying because Mr Pinot Grigio behind me was too busy flapping his mouth about the Kinks and Jerry Dammers and whatever.

While many of the audience decided to rise to their feet and jigger about at the very beginning of the concert – much to the consternation of the row of disabled punters whose view was blocked and the families with children who were too small to see and busied themselves trying to move themselves to a better vantage point – I decided to keep my powder dry and only shake my money maker towards the final stage of the concert, when the big hits were out – Our House, Baggy Trousers and It Must Be Love, etc. That way, while the oldsters were all flagging and searching for their cod liver oil tablets, me and the Missus were fresh and bopping like youngsters. Ha, epic win!

The gig was a good evening out and nothing else. For me, there was a distance between the music and myself probably because at the beginning the sound mix was very muddy and it took the sound people three or four songs to get the balance right. Plus, it didn’t help having the hooray behind me playing at being the poshest Madness fan in the hall.

But I heard all the hits, saw the band and even had a dance – so I guess it was a successful evening. As their guitarist said before his attempt at murdering Ray Davies’s “Where Did All the Good Times Go?” – “It’s not like there’s anything good on the telly tonight, is there?”

‘Nuff said!

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It is hard to believe, but it has been four and a half years since my last gig. My self-imposed exile meant that I have not been able to worship at the shrine for such a long time, so it was quite apt that such a musical banquet was served up to me last night.
I had been looking forward to the concert since it was announced because it was my first chance to see the Portico Quartet who I’ve admired since hearing their first album two years ago and it was also the first proper London outing for the Penguin Café, but more about them later.

The music of the Portico Quartet is straddles genres – the use of saxophone and upright bass puts the band firmly in the jazz camp, while the utilisation of the hang drum adds a new age/world music slant to their output. The band is purely instrumental and we were treated to performances from both their debut and follow-up albums, “Knee-Deep in the North Sea” and “Isla”.

The performance was truly mesmeric. The music, for me, transporting and expansive – showcasing the unique sound of the band. Tunes played included, “Lifemask” with its strange looping beginnings, “News from Verona”, “Line” and “Clipper” – there might have been others by my memory isn’t want it was and I don’t remember their tunes by name, just by familiarity.

I was surprised just how much use of looping there was by the band with both the saxophonist and drummer preparing and triggering loops, and sending ethereal noises into the sonic backdrop. The drummer also appeared to be responsible for some live mixing on the set as he often was seen scrambling to adjust his mixer whilst playing.

I thought it was a truly superb performance and I felt old and “over the hill” seeing these young fellows being so adept at their craft. The music was so engaging that by the end of the hour-long set, I felt emotionally drained and exhausted by the performance – in a good way, of course.

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After a short interlude, whilst road crew scurried around removing equipment and preparing the stage, the Penguin Café headed by Arthur Jeffes took the stage. What is the Penguin Café? It’s not the Penguin Café Orchestra, for that was a completely different beast. It is not a cover band. It’s not a reboot (although Arthur Jeffes coined that terminology during the set). It’s similar but different – like looking at the world through a new set of eyes, or listening to the Penguin’s albums with someone else’s ears.
The strength of goodwill and positive feeling washed upon the stage and it was a good night. I thought it took the band a few songs to hit their stride, but it didn’t matter, for this was a special night and a night I thought I’d never see happen. To imagine that I’d hear these songs again performed live was fantasy since the untimely death of Simon Jeffes and for his son to pick up the reins was an incredibly brave thing to do.

What to say? If you love the Penguin Café Orchesta, you will love this band. It just has to be. You will forgo the complaints that the guitar playing on “Dirt” isn’t as good, or that Arthur’s ukulele playing needs a little work and that there appears to be too many people on stage at once, because it’s not about that. It’s about celebration, for the concert was more than just a run-through of a few old songs, it felt like a celebration of the music and a way of preserving the musical legacy put-down by Simon Jeffes.
Arthur Jeffes is a personable young man with a deft line in rambling, humble stories and he does a grand job as band leader. The band itself is a sprawling mess of talent, with many of them dressed as if they’d just escaped from a Victorian lunatic asylum, which is kind of jarring when they first hit the stage. Of course, this is stage craft and very few bands these days try to attempt to engage with their audiences in this way.

All the old favourites were performed such as “Telephone and Rubber Band”, “Music for a Found Harmonium” and “Perpetuum Mobile” as well as new tracks from the freshly-released Arthur Jeffes-penned “A Matter of Life…” album.
I thought it was a truly wonderful evening of music and a rich feast for a cultural starved man as myself. It was good to be a part of it and one of the best concert experiences I’ve ever had and one I will remember for a long while.

And to be a total publicity whore, for those of you visiting via Google, feel free to check out my music at iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/darren-lock/id4151062