Sunday, 19 May 2013

11th May 2013: Celebr8.2 Festival, The Hippdrome, Kingston-Upon-Thames (Day One)

About 10 months ago, I had a wonderful story to tell. I was in on the exciting news about the first Celebr8 festival before most other people, on the weekend itself I tried my best to sneak backstage and get in the way, I watched pretty much every set by every band, and I got mistaken for a member of Tinyfish. Yes, it was a pretty good year.

This year, however, various items have conspired to make my write-up a lot less satisfactory. No Merchboy houseguest, the bare minimum of ligging, and, unfortunately, due to personal circumstances, not a whole load of music actually seen at all. However, I’m reliably informed by one of my three regular readers (Hi Dr Nick!) that half a review is better than none, so here we go.

After the slightly disappointing Tuesday night gig, there follow a few days of sitting about the house, working from home, whilst Tim makes use of my CD and 5.1 collection and we discuss the finer points of mixing, mastering, and what the actual Shineback story is (which might have been helpful to know before reviewing the damn thing), whilst there’s also an evening where not only do we witness Robert Fripp producing ‘Love Sprinkles’ for Toyah’s tea, but we also play a board game about poo. Which Tim wins.

Tim waves farewell on Friday afternoon, and I get ready to go and see some chap with a sparkly helmet of hair play Genesis songs. You should go and read about that, if you haven’t already.

The story therefore resumes on the Saturday morning of Celebr8 with a whiny text from blog regular whipping boy Bob/Bert, who has a poor hurty foot and a sore head and can’t be arsed to carry the boxes containing 500 festival programmes to the venue from his hotel (I may be paraphrasing somewhat.) Despite the fact that I’m still in bed, I dutifully head straight on over to help him out, and marvel at just how professional the whole thing and its included CDs are, despite the fact that I wasn't asked to write anything for it. (I’m assuming there was just not enough paper in the world to get me involved.)

Go and buy one now, even if you weren't there... the CDs make it totally worth it, I promise.

Boxes safely dropped outside the venue, I take one look at the early morning chaos going on in the foyer alone and decide that that's my fill of helping for this year, so I head back home, popping back down about 15 minutes after supposed doors time to find a fair old queue still outside, as things are running a little late. Still, unlike last year, the doors do open in time for everyone to get inside in time to watch the first note of music, but not before the following priceless conversation:

Me: That’s Leon! (from Tinyfish). What’s he doing here? He hates most prog.

Rob Ramsay (also from Tinyfish): Maybe he’s come down to see someone. Perhaps he’s got a crush on Damien Wilson, most people seem to.

Damian Wilson: Hello!

Rob Ramsay (terrified):  Arrrghhh!

Luckily Damian’s doing the rounds saying hello to all his fans so we’re spared too much embarrassment, and fairly soon we’re inside and waiting for…


… who are hot off the ‘Cruise to the Edge’ ship where they've gone down a storm with the velour-prog brigade, and they also get things off to a pretty good start here today. It's hard to describe their music without using phrases which conjure up extremely negative images, like 'New-age', but it's all done very well, with enough rock and proggy sounds to merit their place here. Someone I chat to during the set tells me how much he likes the ‘dance music’ elements of their music, although I can’t actually hear any apart from some slightly cheesy spoken vocal samples which sound like they should be the intro to an Enigma song from 1995. Oh, and the last song contains a musical quote from ‘Popcorn’. Mmmmkay…

You know, you can look as serious as you like, but you're still standing next to a sign which says
'Friday Nights is Big Cheese'.

Photo: Mike Evans -

Still, Dave Cureton is a really good guitar player, and he gives us plenty of opportunity during every song to figure this out, whilst gurning and pulling as many rockstar poses as he can – which makes him the focal point of the band for a lot of the set. In fact, I've not made any notes about anyone else in the band I’m afraid, largely since I can't see them.

Oh, except of course for new vocalist Linda Odinsen, whose first gig this is, and she does a cracking job, when she's allowed to sing. I do feel a few times during the set that she's just there to look nice, especially when she's not really singing but just standing there swaying to the music and trying not to get blown off her feet by the slightly hilarious wind machine which blows constantly in her face for the first few songs. With her ‘Lady of the Lake’ white dress and gold Diana-esque tiara, she’s quite a striking presence, especially with the flowing golden locks, which in their windswept state strangely resemble some kind of Viking helmet once they've been through my crap iPhone photography.

Oh, I remember now, there was a sax player - he was very good.

Photo: Mike Evans -

All in all, IOEarth are a fine start to the day, and as soon as they’re done, I head over to the acoustic stage (which is helpfully pointed out from the stage by Bob, reprising his MC role from last year), to see Mark Spencer, but unfortunately everyone else has had the same idea. Which is a very good idea – unlike the half-baked plan to move the location of the musicians on the acoustic stage from the middle of the room by the bar to right over in the far corner over by the comfy sofas.

Last year's set-up was perfect –you could stand around the musicians while they played, or you could go and chill out on the settees and listen, or, critically, you could stand up on the raised balcony section and still see and hear perfectly. Well, not so this year – there is basically one place to see and that's right in front of the musicians. Sadly not only does the balcony position  no longer offer a good vantage point, but the PA is so quiet and weedy up there, it's positively annoying, like that guy at work who talks really softly and quietly and you keep wanting to ask him to speak up, or slap him round the chops.

Photo: Mike Evans -

I therefore try to listen a bit from the balcony, but a few people start chatting around me and pretty soon I decide to just join in and catch up with a few people before heading back next door for…

District 97

… who are making their UK debut, and what a debut it is. The youngest band at the festival by a country mile, their energy and passion are second to none, and it makes me pay attention as soon as they stop soundchecking, announce that they’re just going to go for it, and launch right into ‘Back and Forth’ from their latest album.

Now, I've said a couple of times that I don't generally enjoy the whole genre of "Ooh, see the pretty lady, do not look at the men behind the curtain", and I'm a little bit concerned that D97 might turn out to be one of these bands – but I'm immediately relieved to discover that as well as being a pretty lady, Leslie Hunt is an absolutely amazing vocalist, and with the stage presence and swagger to put her firmly in the ‘Kick-arse Frontwoman’ category instead. Let's just say after hearing her screaming "You can go to hell..." repeatedly at the end of 'Who Cares?', I wouldn't want to piss her off.

Ok, I can go to hell, I get it...

Photo: Mike Evans -

She’s not alone in the band either, as all the players are absolutely mesmerising to watch, from guitarist and second vocalist Jim Tashjian with his tight metal-ish riffs and blistering solos, to drummer Jonathan Schang, who is clearly what Tinyfish's Leon Camfield would have looked like if he could have played drums like he plays now at age 12. Bass player Patrick Mulcahy is rock solid and crunchy throughout, and keyboard whizz Rob Clearfield plays solos like his life (or maybe his plane ticket home) depends on it.

Just when it can’t get any better, they pull out a cover version of King Crimson's ‘Great Deceiver’ which defies all belief, being completely D97-ised, following which they announce that they're on tour in Europe right now with John Wetton himself, and will be playing more Crimson numbers. Beg, borrow, or steal a ticket. Or just buy it, actually.

If I were to have one criticism, it’d be some of their quite obtuse material  – although they're an amazing live band to watch, with infectious energy and joy, I’d trade one or two solos or riffs here and there for a touch more melody – when they do play what Leslie describes as "A little pop song" in the shape of ‘Can’t Take You With Me’ from their debut album, it’s a fresh, tuneful breeze, preparing us for the next prog onslaught. But their very rhythmic and complex approach makes more sense to me now, having just learned that drummer Jonathan is the main writer of the music - and he certainly plays like he means it.

Photo: Mike Evans -

I have to hand it to Leslie though, being able to sing in such a soulful, melodic style over such complex music. It mostly works extremely well – apart from when they finish their stoppy-starty penultimate number and Leslie has to explain that the song actually has really finished now, and that we could perhaps clap now if we felt like it. It’s a confident and assured performance which deserves the praise I hear from everyone I speak to afterwards, and once it’s over there are more goodies to behold on the acoustic stage, but after having been caught out last time and desperately wanting a good spot at the main stage, I decide to go and grab a place at the front for…


... instead. I might have mentioned Frost* and Jem Godfrey once or twice before, so I don’t think you need to hear much from me on this occasion. However, there's always some angle with a Frost* gig which makes it unique. Maybe John Mitchell is stuck in traffic on the motorway and they have to play a setlist which is completely devoid of his guitars or vocals. Or perhaps they've not had any soundcheck and they can't hear themselves onstage. Or maybe they’re filming a DVD and someone forgot to check the sound levels, so the whole thing has to be scrapped.

This time, Jem has become the victim of his own bizarre gardening accident and dropped a concrete trough on his finger, so is playing the set one handed (or at least 9 fingered on a couple of songs, which apparently hurts him more than it hurts us.)

Photo: Mike Evans -

What this means is that there are some nice surprises in the set which rely a little less on Jem's keyboard wizardry, such as the Peter Gabriel sample heavy version of ‘Snowman’ which is performed mostly by Jem's left hand and John Mitchell, as is new song ‘Lanterns’ which goes one better and has Jem and John singing along to what seem to be the new album recordings on his laptop. It's a fine song, and nobody cares that Jem sings his heart out whilst mostly leaning idly on his keyboard.

When the usual big Frost* numbers do come out, they're slightly re-arranged, including an outstandingly exciting electronica-intro to ‘Hyperventilate’, and a jazzy middle section which relies more on John Mitchell since Jem's not really able to do a lot apart from standing about and reading a book about gardening.

Photo: Mike Evans -

Mind you, he proves elsewhere what he can do with his left hand (ooer) by playing some of the solos as a southpaw, showing once again just what a versatile player he is. And yes, alright, the rest of the band are as stonkingly good as usual – including funky and precise bass man Nathan King and Craig ‘Blunderbot’ Blundell on drums outclassing the competition yet again and proving just what can be achieved with an acoustic kit.

The rest of the set consists of stalwarts ‘Falling Down' and 'Dear Dead Days’, B-side ‘Forget You Song’ and the same two new songs which we heard at Christmas, ‘Heartstrings’ and ‘Fathers’, only this time the soundman doesn't have courgettes rammed in his ears so we can hear something other than distorted mush, revealing both tracks to be a nice progression in the band's sound rather than the ‘Pocket Sun'-alikes hinted at last time out.

In fact the sound for the whole set is great, especially (and ironically) since I can actually hear Jem's keys loudly enough for the first time ever at a gig. Top marks to the sound guy, and may your ear canals remain ever free of cucumber-related vegetation.

Photo: Mike Evans -

The now traditional band intros allow us to worship Nathan “Your love is” King and Craig “Blunders style” , along with actual legend in his own lifetime John Mitchell, playing the first of two sets this weekend (he'd get bored otherwise, I assume) – this time greeted not only by the Toreador’s march but also a ’JOHN!’ T-shirt which Jem reveals at the opportune moment.

Fan-favourite ‘Black Light Machine’ closes the main set for the first time that I can remember, and also prompts the appearance of the ‘Big Banana’ (a fan joke based on the ‘Big banana’ riff in the middle of the song) – an inflatable toy which has travelled some 25,000 miles around the globe to be signed by Frost* fans and the odd celeb too, and is presented to Jem just before the song as a get-well soon gift.

"So, um, how many people's germs did you say were on this?"

Photo: Mike Evans -

A short encore of ‘The Other Me’, and they’re away, with the minimum of fuss, nary a bow or curtain call. I do hope Jem's not fed up with the performance, as against all odds, the band is still improving with every gig. Still, he can’t fail to notice that MC Bob thought it was ok, given his use of the word ‘amazing’ precisely 13 times in his "Wasn't that amazing? Give it up amazingly for the amazing Frost*" speech once they've left the stage.

"Now then, now then, ladies and gents, how's about that then, wasn't that amazing?"
Photo: rjforster -

Although Simon Godfrey's "Shineback" album now starts playing over the PA and sounds absolutely immense, the acoustic stage beckons, as Knifeworld are about to play a set, and I've heard great, great things about them. However (and I’m kicking myself now that I've heard their track on the Celebr8.2 CD) – I suddenly notice that there are lots of people around that I'd like to chat and say hello to, so I start on that with the intention of popping along for the end of the set, but then something magical happens.

Over by the Merch Desk, there’s Greg Spawton from Big Big Train, hanging about chatting to Nellie. Regular readers will know I have a running “joke” about him being a great mate of mine despite not actually having met him, so I decide it would be entertaining to actually go up and introduce myself. Well, imagine my surprise when he spots me first. “James!” he says (which, luckily is my name or this would have been a very odd story.) After I've checked behind me to make sure there's nobody else he could be talking to, we shake hands and have a very nice chat indeed. And I'm not just saying that because the first 5 minutes basically consist of him talking to me about this blog and how much he likes it. (although I am perhaps just a little.)

Photo: Nellie.
Neither photographer nor subjects seem particularly at ease with the situation.

But don't worry, I soon repay the compliment with regards to Big Big Train's meteoric progress over the last 4 or 5 albums and quite soon it becomes an embarrassing mutual appreciation society, so we move onto something else and pass a very interesting 15 minutes or so chatting about all sorts of things. None of which I can remember, obviously – it's a bit rude to pull your phone out and start making notes while you're talking to someone (I think.) You should see what this blog would look like if I didn't make notes during gigs – or maybe you'd thank the lord for the merciful brevity of such entries.

Anyway, chatting and buying a copy of the programme which I lugged down to my car this morning by the boxload take up the entire of the time before Threshold, who you really can’t fault – they’re tight, they’re heavy, and Damian Wilson (who I promise I do not have a man crush on) is an amazing vocalist. And he has lovely, lovely hair. Ok, maybe I do have a man crush on him.

Photo: Mike Evans -

Prog metal isn't really my usual cup of tea, but I enjoy the first few tracks until my back, feet and stomach all begin to complain at exactly the same time that I spot some friends popping off for food, so I gatecrash their party and get to check out some Lebanese food for the first time. It's basically a kebab and chips, but I'm certainly not complaining about that. It *is* a really good kebab and chips.

Returning back to the venue, Threshold are just finishing, and I have to choose between going back in to say goodbye to everyone I've met or seen again today, and sloping away quietly back to poor Karin who's stuck looking after her mother this weekend rather than enjoying a fine weekend of music along with me.
I decide slopage is the best option in the long-term, and head back through the rain, simultaneously overjoyed at the great experiences I've had today and gutted that I'm missing tomorrow completely.

Still, you won’t miss out – the “other” James has promised to review Day 2 in great detail… Head on over and check it out (man.) 

We are promised that Celebr8 will return next year (and perhaps in a venue without day-glo cogs on the ceiling), so go and make sure you like and follow them on Facebook and Twitter respectively so you don’t miss out.

Missed the festival this year? Never fear, you can still get the glossy programme complete with 2 excellent CDs containing great and/or rare songs from all this year’s artists from . It’s genuinely a great compilation (and I’m not just saying that because I carried them all down 3 flights of stairs), and making it sell out will ensure the festival can return next year. Dooooo it.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

7th May 2013: Spock's Beard / Sound of Contact / Beardfish - Garage, London

There comes a time in every music blogger’s life when he has to man up. Yes, it’s all very well to just pretend that whole sets you don’t enjoy very much never actually happened, and only review the support band, but at some point you have to find a way to review something you found about as exciting as the M25.

It’s all good fun to take the piss properly when you’re dealing with a super-megastar like Mr. Sumner who’s never going to read his character assassination in a million years, but the prog world is pretty small. People know people. And they know people. Facebook’s a surprisingly small place sometimes.

Anyway, my “almost-week” (what would you call that, a “wee”?) of prog (which culminates with Celebr8.2) begins on Tuesday, when the merchboy and production legend Tim “Mouse” Lawrie turns up to crash at ours, and we head off together on a delightful man-date to see a potentially very exciting triple-header of modern progressive rock at the Garage in Highbury. Note the use of the word “potentially”.

The queue outside is like a veritable family reunion, as various people greet each other like long lost relatives, especially fellow blogger Alison Henderson, who officially knows everyone in the world, including a lady who’s just arrived off the plane from Australia and come straight to tonight’s gig. I wonder how long she stays awake. Oh, and there are Twang and Geoff doing yet more last minute flyering for Celebr8.2. Hold up, chaps, I think there’s a tramp across the street who doesn't yet have one… oh no wait, he does. Makes a delightful hat.

Once inside, Tim and I decide to head right for the front, as there’s no way we’re missing any of…


… who begin their all-too-short set with a lengthy number from the ‘Mammoth’ album, appropriately enough, given their own wooliness in the face department. Keyboard player and vocalist Rickard Sjöblom (awww, it means 'Lake flower') has shorn his locks somewhat to restore the follicular balance, although what he does still have is tied up in a neat little pineapple on top of his head. It’s perhaps to get it out of his way when he starts freaking out on his organ, hammering the keys and darting up and down the board like a man possessed – not that we’re complaining, as we both agree afterwards that they’re the most energetic band tonight and all the better for it.

Bass player Robert Hansen pummels his frets whilst looking distinctly like a caveman (although less so than earlier in the week where he also removed his shirt, apparently), drummer Magnus Östgren plays with precision and flair, and guitarist David Zackrisson is just too cool for school over on stage right, with his closely cropped hair, checked shirt, and rocking riffs, ranging from Deep Purple esque blues-rock to crunching metal.

The fun that the band has playing live makes up for any shortcomings of performance, not that there really are any, at least not from the perspective of the very front row, from where everything can be heard nicely and the beards can be observed all too well. Tim’s favourite instrumental 'Seventeen Again' is a highlight of the set, and they finish up with opening track from ‘The Void’, 'Voluntary Slavery', which seems to get the non-faithful in the crowd going just in time for them to thank us all and leave the stage all too soon. More please! How about a headline London gig sometime soon, chaps?

We decide to stay in place for…

Sound of Contact

… who, if you don’t know, are a band fronted by Simon Collins, who is not one of the Canadian Peter Gabriel impersonators I mentioned the other day, but rather the actual Canadian Phil Collins. Yes, you’d only have to look at him to figure out whence his Genesis (ha, see what I accidentally did there?), with his-circa Seconds Out Phil Collins hair, his moderately less impressive beard, and his all-too-familiar forehead.

However, in case you hadn't worked out that he was Phil Collins’ son, he also comes out on stage, plays drums in the style of Duke-era Phil for the first instrumental number, then jumps to the microphone to sing for most of the rest of the gig, picking up a tambourine for the choruses and leaving an actually superior touring drummer to play most of the songs. The vocal stylings aren't really that similar tonight, but he does have a good powerful voice, which is enjoyable to listen to, even though the somewhat AOR material is probably a bit more slow-burning than I expected.

Anyway, enough about Collins Jr, there’s a bona fide legend up on stage in the form of John Wesley of Porcupine Tree. It’s always a pleasure to watch Wes doing his thing, although sadly he doesn't get much chance to shine on this material, adding textures and harmony vocals for the most part, only being allowed to let rip on a few solos here and there. As with Beardfish, I’d like to see Wes back soon doing some more of his own stuff. Maybe they could do a double headliner. He does have his own beard, so it might work.

Lastly, but not leastly, there’s the rest of the band, consisting of a bass player in giant aviator shades which distract me completely from what he’s playing, and keyboard player Dave “Squidz” Kerzner, who played with Kevin Gilbert and Nick D’Virgilio in Giraffe, but this evening impresses me chiefly by managing to be pretty much the opposite of Rickard from Beardfish, as his hands move about smoothly and almost imperceptibly, but the rest of his body is almost completely stock still throughout. I wouldn't even have thought it possible.

The set’s enjoyable enough, and doesn't outstay its welcome – even when Simon decides we might have forgotten that he’s Phil Collins’ son, so hops back on the drums to play ‘Duke’s Travels’ to close the set. Well, it’s not actually that, but it might as well be. It’s fun and enjoyable and finishes things off on a high note.
At this point, I’m feeling old and Tim wants to go and find Beardfish, so I go up to the back near the bar and wait for…

Spock’s Beard

… who, I should say, are one of my favourite prog bands, in all incarnations, and whose new album is actually excellent, but tonight is just not their night, let's say.

Things start well as they arrive onstage to a great big roar, but then they start playing, and as Tim points out, it seems like someone’s turned the PA off. There’s a weedy sound in the middle of the room which is about as powerful as a pensioner trying to bench press a rhinoceros, and it translates into a complete lack of energy coming off the stage, with everyone looking like they’re playing the right stuff and having fun, but sounding anything but.

A couple of songs from the new album start the set, and go down pretty well, although new frontman Ted Leonard seems to be struggling a tiny bit with his vocals. They’re good songs, but somehow I just can’t get into them. A few more pass, including ‘Crack the Big Sky’, an overlooked classic from the ‘Day for Night’ album, which prompts the following reaction in my tired brain:

Oh, they’re playing that song.

I like that song.

I think I’ll go and get a drink.

In the end, the combination of exhaustion and, I’m sorry to say, boredom lead me to head outside, where I find several people smoking, and expressing the same opinions.  I spend a while outside, and come back just in time for ‘Distance to the Sun’, another great song, but there are some tuning issues in the trademark Spock’s harmonies tonight, and it’s unfortunately not a great rendition.

On the basis of wanting to give Spock’s Beard the benefit of the doubt, I decide to leave it there, and Tim and I head off into the night, just in time to wave at John Wesley and Richard Barbieri through a pub window on our way back to the station.  On record, Spock’s Beard are still great, and Ted Leonard is an excellent singer, but tonight just doesn't work for me.

Hang on a minute – nobody in Spock’s Beard has a beard. Mystery solved.

Monday, 13 May 2013

10th May 2013: Steve Hackett - Genesis Revisited - Hammersmith Apollo

Right back in post numero one of this blog, which nobody read, I hinted at the story of my adolescent musical awakening at the hands of a bald drummer who didn't divorce his wife by fax. That's a story which still needs to be told, but suffice to say that for me and gig-buddy-then-and-now Graham, there's something extremely special about seeing a bona fide member of Genesis live on stage, even if they don't play any Genesis songs - and let's face it that's something we've had even less chance to see since 1994. Apart from the two times we saw Genesis. And Phil Collins. And Steve Hackett. And Mike and the Mechanics. Obviously none of those count.

But it's a very special night tonight, marrying the singalong, nostalgic atmosphere of a sweaty tribute gig in a student union with the superiority and lack of shame which comes from knowing that tonight's tribute band contains one of our long-time musical and coiffeurial heroes.


There's a school of thought that says it's a bit sad to go out on tour, trading off a catalogue of songs from a band you left 35 years ago- it's a rather snooty school of thought, with prefects and fagging and probably the cane- so to that school of thought, this evening I say "Yah Boo Sucks", for three reasons:

1) Nobody else from the band in question is remotely interested in touring with this material, if at all. 

2) The man co-wrote and played on what is arguably the most enduring material from the band's legacy - and he does at least only play material he was actually involved in creating (Oh, Hi Ray, didn't see you there...) 

3) People pay good money to go and see tribute bands containing Canadians and Italians doing Peter Gabriel impersonations - so why shouldn't Steve go out on the road with a Swede doing a Pheter Gabrins impersonation and get a slice of the action?

4) He's still got the most hair out of anyone in the band, so he's the perfect choice to bring the music to a whole new generation of men who (like our party of four this evening) are only approaching, rather than leaving middle age. In fact the barnet is resplendent this evening, the light show behind him catching the edges of the tonsorial helmet at various points, making him look like he's wearing giant sparkly headphones. (Not a very serious look - you wouldn't catch, say, Robert Fripp looking like he's wearing giant sparkly headphones, oh no.)

Tonight's tickets proclaim "NO SUPPORT" and that the show will start promptly at 7:30, which confuses everyone when we arrive bang on time and find that most of the audience are still mingling in the bar. Unfortunately, there seems to be nothing to indicate when Mr Hackett actually will be putting in an appearance, which is probably why half the crowd are still quaffing lager in the foyer when the famous sci-fi opening to "Watcher of the Skies" announces that this evening's shenanigans are most definitely on the way. 

Tonight's party is comprised of the aforementioned Graham (he of the record shopping confessions) and his two younger brothers, who were literally children playing on the floor with fire engines when we were getting into this stuff, but are now fully-fledged humans with fiancees and jobs and mortgages - which is always a nice reminder of how OLD you are. It takes the entire Overture of 'Watcher' to get the stragglers into place, although as one of our party points out, at least the grand Mellotron intro makes a rather nice way to announce our entrance.

Safely in place, we settle down just in time for the song proper to start, and it's an impressive start with It Bites and Take That man Lee Pomeroy's meaty bass (one of the fattest I've heard in a while), and Gary O'Toole's powerful drums setting the foundation for a note-perfect but not too much so opening number. Oh, and there's some guy on guitar too, who gets centre stage and a bank of spotlights, but doesn't ever open his mouth to sing... the cheek of it. Wide smiles creep across 3,000 and something faces in the room this evening, and stay firmly in place for the next 2 and a half hours (no interval either, meaning Steve's bladder is definitely much stronger than mine.)

The night progresses with classic song after classic song - selections from all the Genesis albums which Steve played on and co-wrote, continuing on with 'The Chamber of 32 Doors', 'Dancing With the Moonlit Knight' and a medley of songs from 'The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway', culminating in a teasing snippet of 'Cuckoo Cocoon' before leaving us all hanging. But not to worry, there's an absolute belter up next, as Steve introduces tonight's first special guest, Nik Kershaw (he of 'Wouldn't it be Good?' fame and Genesis-acolyte through his solo work with Tony Banks, which nobody bought, as Tony would probably like me to remind you at this point...) - Nik's here to reprise his wonderful rendition of 'The Lamia', always one of the most haunting songs from 'The Lamb' and definite highlight of Steve's most recent album of Genesis reworkings, thanks to Nik's new vocal take on things which defiantly doesn't just consist of doing a cabaret Peter Gabriel impression.

This is blatantly a photo of 'Blood on the Rooftops' - I just thought
it had been a while since you'd had a picture to break up my waffle.

In fact, I owe Nik an apology because his vocals on the album are so controlled and precise in their tone, I ranted elsewhere about the possible use of autotune - but it's exactly the same story tonight, a vocal tour-de-force which we're extremely lucky to witness. And as if that wasn't enough, from out of the shadows at stage right appears Marillion's Steve Rothery, to recreate the guitar duel which closes the reworked version on the CD, battling with Steve over the extended closing section of the song. It's so good, it gets a standing ovation, which I'd like to think is for going a bit beyond a recreation of the original - although 'The Musical Box', which is up next with its screen graphics depicting playing cards and demonic babies is a very faithful rendition of the 'Genesis Live' version and gets an even bigger ovation, so what do I know?

There are a few things which set tonight's Genesis renditions apart from a tribute band like The Musical Box - firstly, there's room for a little interpretation, though not too much, to the relief of the man behind us whilst filing out who was "concerned that he was going to take extreme liberties with the material". Steve's updated many of his guitar solos, there are the various vocal interpretations we hear tonight, and then there are the places where keyboard solos are replaced by the fantastic woodwind of Rob Townsend - such as on the goosebump-favourite 'Blood on the Rooftops'. It'd be easy to bristle at the idea of iconic synth sounds from the 70's being replaced by cheesy sax, but firstly I imagine if they'd had a real woodwind instrument to use in the late 70's, they might have done it - and secondly and mostly thankfully, tonight's woodwind is less Kenny G and far more VDGG. 

Rob can stay - and so can his fellow hat-wearing band member Gary O'Toole, who's a great drummer and a good vocalist, although he does shout some of the vocals to the song in a most bizarre fashion, which suggests that the similar performance on the album was a stylistic choice and not because someone dropped a piano on his foot at an inopportune moment. The song's a triumph though, as agreed by someone across the way who yells out:

"Steve, thank you for choosing Planet Earth!"

I'm really struggling for useable photos here, bear with me.

Another un-tributey thing about this evening is that nobody dresses up in costumes, thankfully. Well, apart from main vocalist Nad Sylvan. His costumes range from undertaker for 'Watcher', to the South American gigolo outfit of lace-up frilly white top and leather trousers which he wears for most of the rest of the set. Nad's an interesting one - on the album I was less than impressed with his diction and "interpretation" of the lyrics (prompting a nameless friend to suggest that it sounded like he was swallowing his tongue) - however this evening you actually can't fault his vocals, they're on key and powerful and, sure there are a few pronunciation slip ups ("Today's a day to cellar-brate?") but he's no worse than his compatriots Abba, and nobody ever complains about them. Not for that reason, anyway.

No, on this showing, Nad's actually a great singer, managing to pull off both the Gabriel and Collins material. It's when you start looking directly at him that things become a little more tricky - he's obviously seen some videos of Gabriel's odd stage movements back in the 70's and decided to ape a few of them but pretty much just looks like he's having some kind of unfortunate fit for much of the set, especially at the start of 'The Musical Box' where I suspect he's attempting a kind of jack-in-the-box type thing but looks more like someone really uncool trying to dance 'the Robot'.

There's that standing ovation I mentioned earlier.

And then there's 'Eleventh Earl of Mar', where he comes out dressed like some kind of circus ringleader with a cane and all, starts the song by going "Wuuuuurrrrrgggghhhhhhhhhthe sun had been up for a couple of hours..." and starts on a bizarre little jaunty dance when he's not singing - prompting the following conversation between me and Graham:

Me: This doesn't really go with the subject matter, does it?

Graham: No, I'm pretty sure it's not a song about being a complete twat.

There are a couple more special guests this evening - firstly Steve's sister-in-law Amanda Lehman who joins the band to sing one of the very few non-Genesis songs played this evening, 'Shadow of the Hierophant', with its majestic, building closing section still managing to keep the audience rapt with its continual cycling of the same couple of chord patterns. And then John Wetton appears to belt out 'Afterglow' at the end of the 'Unquiet Slumbers / In That Quiet Earth' medley, during which the whole band shines, but especially note-perfect keys man Roger King. John absolutely nails the vocal, then hugs Steve and scoots offstage to leave the band to finish the song.

Yes, I know that could be any two men hugging on a stage. Just trust me.

After a rip-roaring run-through 'Dance on a Volcano', which is an absolute showcase for the whole band, as they tackle without difficulty the tricky ending section which Genesis themselves dropped as soon as they could, it's time for this evening's last guest. Jakko Jakszyk's vocal on 'Entangled' is a highlight tonight as on the album, harmonising wonderfully with Nad and Amanda, and providing a beautiful foundation for the spine-chilling woodwind and keyboard solos which wrap up the penultimate song of the main set. But what could possibly be left to play?

Well, of course, there's just under half an hour of the set to go, and it must be time for the main course, so we settle back and get ready for 'Supper'. The screens at the back of the stage have been adding background ambiance throughout the set and I've not really been paying much attention to them so far, freaky mutated babies aside, but it's at this point that one of my gig buddies points out the unseeable - that the images and videos for 'Supper' are perhaps a little too literal? Hence, on the line "the moon gets very bright", up comes our favourite lunar object, then there's a cross, then... yes, you're there already aren't you? "It's been a long long time..." oh, there are some spinning clocks. And so it continues into the second section of the song, as the farmer who looks after the farm is represented by some, um, dandelions, moving gradually into a field of wheat which then starts to burn as the fireman looks after his fire.

It's at this point that I decide to go back to ignoring the screens - the original Lamb show had it just right: appropriate but arty imagery, with some downright bizarre stuff and story enhancement mixed in for good measure - never was it quite so prosaic as tonight's demo reel for This minor niggle forgotten about in a matter of seconds, we can concentrate on the music, and it's just as well we do, or we'd miss one of the finest things to be seen in London all year.

When you think you'll never see Genesis live and you therefore go to as many tribute gigs as I once did, it's very easy to get blasé about 'Supper's Ready', or in some cases actively dread its appearance with the fear normally reserved for someone slaughtering your favourite song at Karaoke. (I hope 'Sledgehammer' isn't your favourite song, otherwise that person was once me.)

However, there's something impossibly amazing about seeing it performed tonight by an actual member of Genesis, and a band whose every member is a master in their field and not just a bloke from down the pub who can hold an instrument. We're taken away on a wave of emotion (and yes, nostalgia, of course) and are reminded of what a wonderfully fine piece of music this is, why it's rightly held in such high regard, and why it's spawned 376 imitations and counting. It's not even spoiled by the re-appearance of Nad Sylvan at the end of 'Apocalypse in 9/8', "air-scribbling" with a feather ("He's writing the lyrics of a brand new tune", you see) - whilst the video screens behind him show parchments covered in words. ("I hope those are the lyrics to 'Invisible Touch',"  says Graham.) Box-head mask and black cloak, it ain't.

But the closing section of 'As Sure as Eggs is Eggs' is a showcase for this evening's main attraction, as Steve himself laps up the wonderful energy in the room, giving us a tour of his guitar mastery as the band fades away and brings this amazing main set to a close.

After this, anything else might seem an anticlimax, but there's the small matter of 'Firth of Fifth', and those iconic keyboard and guitar solos which Roger and Steve deliver with passion, prompting one man down at the front to get up and start dad-dancing before being mercifully carted away by security. Sadly the same cannot be said of Steve himself, who also partakes in a spot of awkward boogieing before his solo. But then, he does play that solo, and all is forgiven.

And then there's a closing medley of 'Myopia' and 'Slogans' from Steve's solo albums wrapped around 'Los Endos', which the band jam on before it comes crashing to a close in a wall of screeching sax and guitars, but not before Nad Sylvan redeems himself by belting out the "Angel standing in the sun" lines which, again, Genesis didn't bother with live. We even allow him a little freestyle improvisation on them - only a little, mind.

The band take their bows, all the special guests come back out for another wave, and we're left shell-shocked and ready for home. 2 and a half hours of unremittingly excellent classic prog could seem a little too much in anyone else's hands, but Steve's assembled the right band for the job, and his own performance is simply spellbinding. He seems almost overwhelmed and grateful for the reception he gets all night, but his place in musical history means he deserves a little recognition at last. The lord of lords, the king of kings has returned to bring his music home (along with a man dressed as a circus gigolo.)

Tribute bands - your argument is invalid.

Steve Hackett Setlist:

Watcher of the Skies
The Chamber of 32 Doors
Dancing with the Moonlit Knight
Fly on a Windshield
Broadway Melody of 1974
The Lamia
The Musical Box
Shadow of the Hierophant
Blood on the Rooftops
Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers
In that Quiet Earth
I Know What I Like
Dance on a Volcano
Eleventh Earl of Mar
Supper's Ready
Myopia/ Los Endos/ Slogans / Los Endos

Monday, 6 May 2013

Album Review - Shineback - Rise Up Forgotten, Return Destroyed

Number 2 in a very occasional series of "imaginary conversations with my musical heroes"

The other night, I was in bed, dreaming lovely dreams about the days when Phil Collins looked like a werewolf, when my curtains were all of a flutter and I felt a worrying disturbance in the force...


A bearded ballet dancer, climbing in through the window: Hello!

Gigging Forever: What the actual feck?

The hirsute stranger in a tutu: Wotcha! I'm your Mother God-Fairy, and I'm here to grant you three wishes.

GF: Isn't it genies who grant wishes?

Mother God-Fairy:  You're the one who tried to turn my name into a torturous wish-based pun that nobody will even get.

GF: Good point. Why are you wearing a tutu?

Simon Godfrey (for it is he...) Well, I am the Prog Princess.

GF: Princesses don't wear tutus. Do fairy godmothers even wear tutus?

SGProbably not. Look, do you want these wishes or not? I'm a busy man since I turned full-time professional Faceboo..., er musician.

GF: Well, I suppose I might as well. Can I wish for anything at all?

SG: Hmm, try me.

GF: Can you make it so that 'Tormato' doesn't suck?

SG: That's way beyond my powers, I'm afraid.

GF: How about making it so that Robert Fripp doesn't ever appear on All-Star Mr. and Mrs?

SG: Too late.

See these lovely cakes? I bet you'd like to eat one, wouldn't you?
Well you CAN'T! Ahahahahaha!
Or, you can, but I'll probably sue you.

GF: You're quite a rubbish Fairy Godmother, aren't you?

SG: To be honest mate, I'm not even sure that Fairy Godmothers are supposed to grant wishes at all, so I don't know which scary part of your brain dreamed me up.

GF: Okay then, let's try something a bit simpler. Can you make me an album?

SG: James, you know perfectly well I've just made an album and my record label has sent it to you to review, and quite frankly I'm getting fed up with you wasting valuable words on not reviewing it. People will think it's rubbish and you're just trying to avoid saying so...

GF: Simon, for the purposes of the whole review concept, could you maybe just say "Yes, James, I reckon that's one thing I CAN do!"

SG: Yeah, ok then, sure.

GF: Go on then.

SG: James, nothing would give me greater pleasure than to spend my every waking moment creating an album just for you - entirely tailored to your musical taste, and every whim and fancy.

GF: That sounded kind of sarcastic, but fine.

SG: Right then, we've got a blank piece of paper here and an empty hard drive - where would you like me to start?

GF: Ok. Well, you know I'm a sucker for anything which mixes up sounds that don't normally belong together...

SG: Like Katie Price and a recording studio?

GF:... no, not quite like that - I was thinking more like orchestras plus bands, pop music with middle eastern influence...

SG: Oh, I see where this is going. You'd like a europop concept album about the Sultan of Brunei?

GF: ... not exactly. I was thinking, as my two favourite genres of music are prog and electronica-slash-dance music, it's about time someone made an album mixing those two things together?

SG: Prog... and electronica? Progtronica! I'm so copyrighting that.

GF: Knock yourself out. So, what do you think?

SG: Weeeelllll, that's actually a cracking idea. I could just take my brilliant Tinyfish-style songwriting, and then just stick a few bleeps and bloops over the top of it. Bish bosh, sorted.

GF: You don't actually say stuff like "Bish Bosh, sorted" in real life, do you?

SG: No, not at all. I don't know what you're doing to me here, mate.

GF: Sorry. Anyway, No. NO NO NO.

SG: No what?

GF: A few bleeps and bloops are not going to cut it. If you're going to do this, it needs to be proper. I want mega dancefloor smashes. I want screeching Justice-style keyboard riffs. I want pounding drum 'n' bass beats, and samples which go kind of "Wuuuurrrrggghhhhh" in a really deep voice. Actually I didn't know I wanted those but if you were to give them to me, it would turn out that I really, really enjoyed them. I want beautiful vocal harmonies, I want innovative sound treatments and effects, and I want a dash of Kraftwerk-esque minimalism here and there too. But most of all, I want the sound of someone doing whatever the heck they want and not caring about what anyone else is going to think about it. (Apart from me, obviously...)

SG: And... and... I could call up my Tinyfish bandmate Rob Ramsay to work on the story and lyrics, and we could make it into a concept album about child abuse!

GF: You two are quite strange people, aren't you?

SG: Sorry.

"Come with me, as I explain the wonders of the universe... you promise you're going to
put the graphics on in post production, right?"

GF: No, it's ok, I said you should do whatever the heck you want within my extremely narrow predefined criteria - so just go for it. I'm sure you can make it work. And even if you can't, nobody will mind. Nobody knows what "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" is about, and that doesn't seem to matter.

SG: It's about this Puerto Rican street kid who... um...

GF: Yeah, anyway, I need to get back to sleep, so can you, um... fly away home or something?

SG: Ok, I'll be back when you least expect it to show you what I've done so far.

GF: When I least expect it will be 'any time soon'.

SG: Git.

GF: Sorry.

When this is made into a film, I think there should definitely be a montage at this point of Simon starting work, scribbling down ideas on blank sheets of paper which get tossed into a bin, sitting around in his pants watching Jeremy Kyle, having a karate lesson with a small Japanese dude, and then having a sudden flash of inspiration and tapping away at his computer like a mad professor. Maybe playing some instruments or something, but that would be optional.

Wibbly "Time passing" effect


SG: I'm back! I've done it!

GF: Great! Where are we?

SG: What do you mean?

GF: I mean, we've not set the scene, I could be anywhere. I could be in the bath and you would have just appeared in it next to me, frankly I'm not sure I want that image in anyone's mind.

SG: It's your bloody blog. You decide.

GF: Okay, we're on the number 281 bus going to Tolworth.

SG: Am I still wearing a tutu and fairy wings?

GF: No, I'm not that cruel.

SG: Okay then. So, er, do you want to hear what I've done?

GF: Well, I don't know. I'm a little bit worried.

SG: How so?

GF: Well, let's see... You've told me you're making an album which you think is going to be right up my street. Also, the last album you were involved in making is one of my favourites of all time. Plus, although "Tutu Simon" is a figment of my imagination, the real you is actually kind of a mate, and if I didn't like it, it would be awfully embarrassing to have to say so, especially if you'd sent me a pre-release copy to review. I'd have to write a whole load of pointless guff just to skirt around the issue.

SG: More pointless guff than you usually write?

GF: Oh, that does it - you're totally getting the Sting treatment. Go on then, tell me about the album.

SG: It's bold. I've really gone all out and not bowed to what I thought anyone would expect from me.

GF: Even less prog-rock than Tinyfish?

SG: Oh yes. Although, the title track is over 10 minutes long and is almost a kind of electrofied version of 'Wide Awake at Midnight'. And there's something that sounds suspiciously like Mellotron flute on 'One Last Perfect Day'.

GF: Well that's ok, The Beatles used mellotron flute, they weren't prog.

SG: You really want to get into that whole "Is Abbey Road the first prog album" debate?

GF: No, ok, good point. So, no twelve string guitars, Rickenbacker basses or Mini Moogs?

SG: Absolutely not.

GF: And no rip-offs of 'Supper's Ready', with widdly keyboard solos and climactic, post-apocalyptic endings?

SG: Why the heck would I do that?

GF: Good question. Why would anyone? So, um, how is it a progressive album without any of that stuff then?

SG: Why don't you listen to the damn thing and find out?

GF: What a superb suggestion.

I think this is vocalist Danny Claire.
Either that or one of the members of Tinyfish has had quite a makeover.

There follows a lengthy pause where I drift off into a world of musical delights...

GF: Blimey. The first 4 tracks are quite a statement of intent - trance-style vocals from Danny Claire kick things off immediately into unexpected territory, for those who haven't been paying attention along the route at least - and then we're suddenly catapulted into super-mega-rifferama, as first song proper, 'Is This the Dream' kicks in. But what's this? The heavy, dark riff mirrors the start of this most difficult of stories without the audible use of a single guitar. What's more, it then immediately ushers in popp-y drum beats and an upbeat tune which breaks down halfway through into a mashy, glitchy section before the the catchy chorus comes back in to complete the song.

'Under My Feet' is a brief linking section with beautifully harmonised treated vocals recalling Imogen Heap's 'Hide and Seek', and it gives us a welcome respite before one of the most powerful tracks of the whole album. 'Bedlam Days' starts by rolling along on a gentle bed of sequenced keyboard notes, before assaulting the unwary listener with another Jan Hammer-esque keyboard riff which is then rudely interrupted by what can only be described as Pendulum style drum 'n' bass, breakbeats and the aforementioned "Wuuuurgggghhhh" noises.

It's at this point that it's easy to imagine the unwary prog rock fan ejecting the CD in abject fear and disgust,  and hiding it away in a place where it can never again encourage them to think unclean thoughts about the music of "the young folks". But they'd miss the most Tinyfish-like song on the album, as 'Faultines' is a beautiful, straight-ahead ballad of the kind you'd most expect from Simon and his acoustic guitar, the only difference being the synthesised percussion. How like Simon, to confuse us by doing what we'd expect after such a genre-defying opening.

Another linking piece (named after one of our heroine, Dora's blogs), soothes the senses in preparation for yet another aural assault, as 'Here Come the Envoys' will quite possibly end up being one of the most divisive pieces on the album- as following its dark, synth and beat-heavy opening with one of the first guitar solos to be heard on the album, it then breaks down into a kind of 90's Europop take on 'The Colony of Slippermen', as the eponymous characters from the song's title make their appearance into the story, to drag Dora off into the dream world of The Memory House to confront her demons, which she seems to want to do through the medium of clubbing, if the music of 'Crush Culture' is anything to go by. Yet another monster electro-riff propels the catchiest track on the album - a song which is surely destined if not for the charts then at least for fans to have a bit of a jump around at gigs. "Memory House, give it up for Dora!", yells the MC, as the crowd go wild. And that's just 'Side 1', in old money.

This is where the magic happened.
Photo: James Allen

SG: *Cough*

GF: Oh, hello.

SG: Have you forgotten I'm here? Why are you talking like that? It almost sounds like an album review.

GF: Ah, yeah, sorry, won't happen again.

SG: You like it, then?

GF: I think you could say I'm a fan. You've pretty much achieved exactly what I hoped you would - proper songs in an electronic style, with the inventiveness of actual progressive music, and a healthy dollop of your usual songwriting brilliance. And let's not forget the rock sounds you've managed to get in there too - amazing guitar solos when they're called for, notably at the end of what is fast becoming my favourite track, 'Fears Aren't Toys', and some pretty awesome real drums on the epic title track.

SG: Um, to be fair, neither of those were me.

GF: They weren't? You cheat.

SG: I prefer to think of it as 'widening the net of experience to bring ultimate musical synergy with a view to focusing on value added tasks'.

GF: Uh-huh.

SG: I've got Matt Stevens to do quite bizarre things to a guitar on 'Bedlam Days', Dec Burke played that solo on 'Fears' which you just enjoyed so much, and Henry Rogers played the real drum track on 'Rise Up Forgotten, Return Destroyed', as well as two guitar solos from Andy Ditchfield and Hywel Bennett.

GF: Hen played the guitar solos by Andy Ditchfield and Hywel Bennett?

SG: You knew what I meant.

Look into the eyes, the eyes, not around the eyes...

GF: And the bass part on the title track is excellent, too, did you get Paul Worwood from Tinyfish in to do that?

SG: Ha! No, actually I did that all myself. But I did get Paul in to do something.

GF: Not the creepy voiceover of Dora's father on 'Xo Va Yu'? You cruel, cruel person. How are that poor man's kids ever going to sleep again when they hear that?

SG: Not my problem. Anyway, are you going to explain the story a bit?

GF: I kind of thought I would leave it as a surprise for when people hear it for the first time.

SG: You didn't pay proper attention to it, did you?

GF: Aw, that's unfair, you know how rubbish I am at paying attention to and understanding lyrics - especially of concept albums. I definitely got the gist, though. There's some pretty dark stuff going on here. I might suggest instead that people head over to your Facebook page to read your track-by-track explanations.

SG: Cop-out.

GF: All I will say, is that anyone who enjoyed the story aspect of 'The Big Red Spark' won't be disappointed with this, even if Rob's voice doesn't actually appear anywhere. Not that I detected, anyway. His legendary scariness, however, pervades and cannot be escaped.

No Biggles on this album, though.

SG: So, it sounds like you pretty much liked the loud/fast/upbeat tracks the best. That's so you.

GF: Partially guilty as charged, but there are so many goodies to choose from that it's easy to focus immediately on the "big numbers". However, I will say that once you've been through the album a few times, the linking/storytelling sections really start to reveal their hidden treasures - firstly 'The Clock of the Long Now', which is just beautiful in its quiet simplicity and almost Floyd-ian keyboard noodling, but most notably 'I Called Him in Vain (Blog 4)', whose chords are only a tympani roll or two away from recalling the quiet ending chords of Yes's 'Awaken'.

SG: Are you calling me a plagiarist now as well?

GF: Oh, c'mon.  I'm complimenting you on managing to use such heavenly and complicated sounding chords throughout the album, despite the sometimes more simple instrumentation than prog fans might be used to.

SG: Shucks. What about the last song? I was umming and ahhing between two choices...

GF: I think it works nicely as a happy-ish ending, the music is certainly suitably climactic, in a totally non-'Supper's Ready' kind of way. I do like the 'sad' alternative you also played me, though.

SG: Well, you know, if you pre-order the album from The Merch Desk right now, you can get that alternative ending as an exclusive track to listen to IMMEDIATELY.

GF: Sounds like everyone should head over there rightaway.

GF: Also. I hope it doesn't offend anyone if I say that this is by far the most professional sounding recording I've heard from any of the SG projects. It sounds like a lot of time has been spent on getting the sounds just so - it certainly sounds lovely on a nice pair of cans.

SG: I don't need to know about your lovely pair of cans, thanks. Nah, to be honest, I just brought in Tim "Mouse" Lawrie to help with production- he came in with his qualifications and all, and made it sound spangly and proper.

GF: Did he pay you to say that?

SG: Yeah. Did he pay you to mention him in the review?

GF: I am completely editorially independent. Apart from the time we went to that gig and you paid me not to mention the thing with the goat.

SG: Oh, yeah, god, thanks.

So, what do you reckon, then? Did I manage to grant your wish?

GF: Yep - I reckon you did, and then some. It's bold, it's inventive, it sticks at least two fingers up at the status quo (and at Status Quo), it makes me want to dance, laugh, cry and rock out all at the same time (which would no doubt be highly attractive) - but most of all it's the very definition of bonkers genius. You and Rob should be very proud.

SG: Ooh- you forgot something - you haven't mentioned one of the best tracks on the album, 'Passengers'.

GF: Oh yes.. it's almost as if I knew this would be going live on the day that 'Passengers' is released as a free download single.

SG: Spooky.

GF: It's a cracking song, and it can be yours for the very special price of nothing. Head over to the Bad Elephant Music Bandcamp page and download it now... don't delay, or they'll throw in a free copy of 'Love Beach' with every one.

SG: Who are you talking to now?

GF: Not really sure, to be honest.

SG: You know what? You've still got two wishes left.

GF: So I have. Hey, I know what, can I wish for a Shineback gig?

SG: It's funny you should say that, it's almost as if you knew this would be going live a week before my acoustic slot at the Celebr8 Music festival in Kingston-Upon-Thames on the 19th of May.

GF: Go figure.

SG: What about the last one?

GF: You know what, let's save it for later. You never know when I might decide I do want that Sultan of Brunei thing after all.

"Rise Up Forgotten, Return Destroyed" by Shineback is released by Bad Elephant Music on the 1st of July 2013.

All music is written by Simon Godfrey of Tinyfish and Men are Dead, and lyrics are by Robert Ramsay also of those parishes.

All instruments are played by Simon Godfrey except for some rather jolly spiffing guest appearances, and production is by Simon Godfrey and Tim "I have an actual qualification in this stuff" Lawrie.

Pre-order now to get an exclusive bonus track and pay for Simon to get home from Philadelphia in time for his acoustic set in Kingston Upon Thames on Sunday 19th of May at the Celebr8 festival.

Now, as we're a little ahead of schedule, there's just time for a little album sampler, which you can use to judge whether or not I've been talking out of my arse for the last 3,327 words.