The Power of Lanois – in retrospect

Well I hold my hands up, had I heard of Daniel Lanois? The answer was no! Well I hadn’t but what an impressive musical history this man has.

Lanois is an established recording artist in his own right. although he is probably best known as a producer to such artists as Bob Dylan, Peter Gabriel, Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris and Brian Eno.  He also produced albums for U2 this includes the album The Joshua Tree.

Daniel has won seven Grammy awards and been nominated for a further four… Impressive credentials, most definitely.

I walked into the packed arena not quite knowing what to expect. The crowd were not your typical saturday night rockers. In fact they were rather an eclectic bunch – pretty quiet too. But once Lanois started playing I could hear why. This man mesmerised the crowd with his eclectic musical style that was somewhere between  country, tribal, rock and rave. I couldn’t quite put my finger on the sound – but did I need to? I think not. His music spoke for itself. the trippy visual extravaganza in the background only added to the experience.

I didn’t know this guy, but, oh boy! Did I know his music. His musical influence is so great that his set (a pretty ad hoc one, so his keyboard player told me) seemed familiar. Rolling Stone called Daniel Lanois the ‘most important record producer to emerge in the eighties.”

I can honestly say that I was moved to tears during his performance. He played the steel guitar beautifully and a dreamlike ambience filled the auditorium.

An eclectic performance that went from the almost angelic to electronic drum machines and white noise crashing down strangely reminiscent of a 90’s Spiral Tribe event.

The Encore was beautiful Lanois and the band were joined by Rocco DeLuca and performed DeLuca’s track Congretate – it was this that drew me to tears… This was an experience I am unlikely to forget.

Lanois music has both energy and power. He is a man that is totally at one with whatever instrument he chooses to play. I came away in total awe of this guy, that hid beneath the peak of his baseball cap most of the night.

I can only apologise for the lateness of this review. but it is something where I just did not know where to start… Now thats a first!

Daniel Lanois  at Islington Assembly Hall London on 14 April 2015

March On The Stranglers

The Stranglers March On at the Roundhouse Friday night at the Camden Roundhouse was bustling with excitement for the March On Tour of the iconic band The Stranglers. The venue was packed to the brim and ready to rock with the band. Setting the scene for the evening furor of music and mayhem was the Manchester punk band The Membranes.  John Robb – front man gave a spirited performance to a reciprocating audience.

The Rezillo’s are a punk, new wave band highly influenced by the 60s garage sound. Their performance was volcanic. Fay Fife gave her all resulting in a red-hot performance. Eugene, Fay and the band were animate and vocally strong. Jumping around the stage to their fervent sound. And of course the chart topper – Top Of The Pops engendered a positively zany crowd reaction. They brilliantly lit the way for The Stranglers. Who are the Stranglers? I hear you say. Well excuse me but where have you been for the last four decades? The Stranglers have had over 20 UK top 40 singles and 17 UK top 40 albums. They are one of the most continuously successful bands to come out of the era of the 70’s. Their unique style was instrumental in paving the way for the Punk rock movement. The band entered the arena in darkness: The stage was without light only a slight glow from the back of the Roundhouse. There was a feeling of tension in the arena as the audience waited for the band to make its entrance. Well you could have stood at the other end of Camden and heard the raucous roar of the fans as JJ made his appearance, followed by Baz Warne and the rest of the crew. The set was long but never boring and it held captive the most spirited and vivacious audience that I have seen in a long while. Get A Grip On Yourself absolutely delighted the fans – including myself jumping up and down in the photographer’s pit, gaining an approving smile from JJ himself. Jean-Jacques distinctive cynical bass playing along with the bordering melancholic keyboards of Dave Greenfield engendered memories of another time, another place a testament to an enigmatic timeless sound, that what is the Stranglers. They are the only band I know that can flip from a typical hardcore punk sound to a Baroque style and still have the old-school punk rock crowd enthralled. The magic that is the Stranglers is still there. Yes, they have Baz as lead man. Does he have the same pensive style of Cornwell? Well, no he doesn’t, he has a more upbeat style and presence, but he is a great and strong addition to the band. The set included the huge hit Golden Brown always a captivating sound and today just as beautiful and contemporary as it was when first released. The classical baroque sounds coupled with haunting vocals certainly sent shivers down the spine. I for one just closed my eyes and drifted to a far off place and I am sure I was not the only one. The crowd were calling for Jet Black and he was welcomed with thunderous applaud. His drums where positioned in such a way that you could see him through the transparent skins. Jet Black is a living legend among drummers and despite health issues plays part of the set with the stranglers where the stage is big enough to hold two drum kits. It was a thrill and honor to hear him play. Jean-Jacques has a profound stage presence and his unmistakable bass guitar riffs are synonymous with the sound that is the Stranglers. His bass guitar skills, somewhat sabulous and gritty vocals and enigmatic looks are captivating. JJ is the embodiment of The Stranglers in many ways. There were two encores and the final song was probably the song that most people in the audience identify the Stranglers with – No More Heroes. I don’t think there was a still person in the Roundhouse. The fans were an undulating sea of people. And they where still screaming for more. The Stranglers are a band that makes distinctive and intelligent music. They are non-conformist and certainly are not followers. The Stranglers are a concept and it matters not who the present members are. They are an idea of intelligent music that can only expand the mind.

JJ Burnell

JJ Burnell

stranglers rezillos_0741 stranglers rezillos_0778

The Stranglers

The Stranglers

Aeons update

Well peeps! I haven’t posted much recently, barely anything at all. However I have been a busy little dancing photographer bee and have actually covered many events. Here is a quick sneaky peek at one of my reviews that will be online in the next few days.

I am sure you will enjoy the images and the write ups.

Anyway! I have covered the amazing Stranglers and they were certainly one of the greatest bands I have ever seen. The fantastic Dave Barbarossa and Cauldronated, the superb Wooden Arms and the incandescent band Desperate Journalist were all brilliant and either have write ups or photo reviews.

I also have an album review, but for now here is a teaser image. It is the enigmatic Jean-Jacques Burnel of the Stranglers.

Oh yes! signing off for now.

Nadine The Dancing Photographer

Proud and Shy!

The Proud Camden is an intimate venue bathed in lambent blue light, that played host to the Shy Project on Wednesday evening. The ambience was perfect for an evening of exquisite vocals and meaningful lyrics. The artists put on an eclectic show of R&B and Dance music that certainly impressed the mid-week audience. Each artist sang roughly a 20 minute set to showcase what they were all about – they were certainly talented; each artist, in fact, were sui generis, every one unique in their approach to music. They all displayed a love and enthusiasm for what they do.

Supporting MikeShy were the artists Florieme – her lyrics were soulful and she reached the high notes impeccably, delivering a contemporary jazz folk fusion of music, along with her acoustic guitar man. Sheanne Breas’ heavenly vocals captivated the cozy audience as she soulfully expressed every note. Will Hatton was incredible to watch and to listen to – I have seen many drummers and some of them among the best in the world, this guy was not only a drummer but a showman with it. He was dancing with the drumsticks, throwing them in the air and not missing a single beat.

MikeShy was the last act. He is the co-founder of a music art form that is known as The Shy Project. MikeShy has  grown up with  condition called Chlosteatoma – that has caused permanent deafness in one ear. He has not let this deter him from his love of music in fact rather than give in to this condition he chose to embrace it, drawing inspiration from the wellspring of experiences and emotion, this is evident when you see him perform and hear the soulful lyrics. MikeShy is totally at one with his music. It was short set, but full of intense emotion each note was pitch perfect interlaced with catchy riffs whilst evocative melodies cobwebbed the mise-en-scene.

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MikeShys ‘Graveyard Shift’ will be released on the 31st of January on ITunes and and E.P called ‘Escape’  will be released in the next couple of weeks. When I asked MikeShy about the impending E.P he told me that it represents a musical embodiment of his minds journey throughout the duration of the anaesthetic: MikeShy has had six operations under general anaesthetic. He is certainly gifted as he writes, sings and co-produces. This guy is certain to go far and definitely one to watch out for.

The Sweet Life and the Sunshine Jive Band

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I have been a lover of all things jazz, jive and swing for most of my life, yet I had never been to the world famous Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club. Well, what a wonderful experience i had on Sunday: featuring in the lunch time show at this most welcoming of venues, was one of Britain’s top jive and swing bands on the circuit – the Jive Aces.

The Jive Aces with their trademark sunshine yellow suits and suitably matched smiles are probably one of the most fun bands there is to experience at the moment. Never let it be said that bands have an easy life – these guys are always on the go. They are either, touring, recording or raising money for charity and still squeeze in time for family life and royal tea parties. One of their recent charity events was a gig for the charity Crisis where they played to the homeless over the Festive period. Yet despite all of their hard work they still find time to smile and make great music. These guys are adaptable and are equally at home on the big stages in Vegas or at the more intimate venues such as Ronnie Scott’s.

They played two – forty five minute sets to a mixed audience – many of whom had been queuing for hours to get a seat. Needless to say it was a full house. They started the entertainment with the jumpy tune Rock That Boogie that certainly set the tone for the rest of the afternoons entertaining extravaganza. Much of the Jive Aces set was comprised of covers presented in their own unique musical, slapstick style. Ian Clarkson the lead man has a facetious manner and characterizes this as part of the entertainment with one-liners, he may project a slapstick style but he is one seriously talented showman, musician and singer. The rest of the band are equally talented and perform with precision and style.

Singing with the Jive Aces today was Cassidy Janson, currently one of the busiest actresses on the theatre circuit – being in the original cast of Wicked as stand in Elphiba and the final cast of Avenue Q, playing Kate Monster/Lucy the Slut. But today she was the touch of beauty with sang with passion. Clarkson and Janson bounce of each other – they sing the Louis Prima and Keely Smith hits, Just a Gigolo, Hey Boy–Hey Girl and Nothing’s Too Good For My Baby, they deliver the duet – not with the comical vs straight laced style of Prima and Smith but with their own animated and bantering style – the audience loved them. Incidentally Keely Smith once sang on stage with the Ian at a Jazz festival. The Jive Aces even turn their hand to skiffle and very fine skiffle they play too. Alex gets out the thimbles and washboard as they start their rendition of Mama Don’t Allow – a song that was popularized by Washboard Sam.

The Jive Aces also have an extensive repertoire of their own original music and today the Ronnie Scott’s crowd were treated to their soon to be released single -La Dolce Vita. Ian tells me that he always wanted to recreate a tongue-in-cheek adaptation of the famous fountain scene from the Fellini film of the same name. Just after hearing of the passing of Anita Ekberg, Ian says, “Our music vid was gonna be a homage, I guess it’s a tribute now.” The audience was delighted with the song.

They are also releasing a new album that contains a lot of their own material in April, called Spread a Little Happiness. And spread a little happiness they did judging by the sea of smiles that was leaving Ronnie Scott’s that afternoon. The audience really did feel part of the whole show and were suitably warmed with a little sunshine music, ready to face the cold London air.

Oh and before I forget, happy birthday Ken!

All photography and article Nadine Wood

J Mascis – Grunge Rock Guitar God

Thursday night at the Scala, London was totally jam-packed for one man with an acoustic guitar. Well this just wasn’t any man with a guitar this was J Mascis, ranked number 86 in Rolling Stone’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time”, and was twice asked by Kurt Cobain to join the band Nirvana. Mascis is probably most noted for his band Dinosaur Jr and his shredding guitar playing style.

Here is this guy with a guitar walking onto a stage, with nothing but sheet music and a customized microphone that had mythical creatures etched onto it, and a couple of plectrum’s customised in the same ilk – between himself and the audience, dressed in a tee-shirt, jeans and a baseball cap. His long white hair framing his face and shoulders – he had rather a mystical look about him and could have easily fitted into any mythological land.

He starts his set with a couple of gentle numbers from his albums ‘Tied to a Star’ and ‘Several Shades of  Why’. The guitar style was beautiful and melodic with interchanging chords and fingerpicking, and the voice was guttural yet pleasing.

His live version of Every Morning certainly picked up the tempo in the place. The Dinosaur Jr. track “Get Me” WOW!!! Once he started playing that guitar the whole world could have stopped rotating on its axis and start to spin in the opposite direction, it had that much power. You would never believe that this Guy whose outward appearance was akin to  a hippie roadie, could throw out such a sound with an acoustic and his fuzz pedals, this guy loves to play loud, definitely loves distortion and the audience were wowed and taken into their own spaces, with random private air guitar jam sessions taking place, as a physical response by some of the  audience.  If you closed your eyes you could have easily imagined yourself in a field in front of the main stage at Glastonbury, in any era between 1971 to the present day, instead of being inside the Scala.

Among his set were a couple of covers the one that sticks in my mind was a beautiful rendition of Mazzy Star’s ‘Fade into You’, it was sung in his laid back, gentle style accompanied by ethereal folksy fingerpicking that permeated the arena and evoked a sense of drifting away on a lazy summer afternoon.

This musicians’ repertoire is vast. His music is drawn from many genres and his expertise and talents shine through the unpretentious exterior. Who needs props and styling when you have the  talent and charisma of this man.

Mascis and the Plectrums

Mascis and the Plectrum’s

The evening for me was a journey in the musical land of Mascis, it was mind-blowing experience and one that is not to be forgotten any time soon. Mascis is certainly every bit the grunge rock guitar master.

Rotten Roll at Indigo2

The Indigo2 was certainly the place to be on a freezing cold December night in London town and it was a perfect venue with a bar that stretched all along the back wall – a cavernous space with excellent acoustics, just right for the one-off Public Image Ltd gig. The evening promised to be an iconoclastic musical experience. The BibleCode Sundays opened the evening. They are a gutsy 6 piece contemporary London Irish band. Devilishly handsome fellas too, all with a glint in their eye and a cheeky grin. Their music is passionate – a hybrid of Anglo-Celtic traditional music laced with influences from the Brit-Irish rock genre. If you take The Pogues, Oasis and The Clash and put them all in one band, you would end up with something like The BibleCode Sundays.  Their music is highly addictive and exciting; my feet couldn’t help but move to the Celtic rock rhythm of The BibleCode Sundays.

The BibleCode Sundays

The BibleCode Sundays

The lads were joined on stage by guest vocalist, Cathy McManamon (sister of Tommy from the Popes), a red haired beauty with a husky voice that was just right for the rendition of ‘The Fairytale of New York.’ The Codes finished their set with ‘Maybe It’s Because I’m an Irish Londoner’ an original song penned by Ronan MacManus, that reflects the feelings of the London Irish community – they certainly grabbed my attention and that of the crowd, setting the tone perfectly for Lydon and PiL.

John Lydon aka Johnny Rotten entered the stage with Public Image Limited. Here stood a sharp-dressed and well-groomed man, in a plaid suit an embodied image of the aristocracy – I wonder if it was a statement to say, ‘Here I am – this is me, don’t judge me from the outside but look within, because we are all equal.’ – a visual allegory to the song ‘Public Image” perhaps. The crowd could not hold back the adoration and respect that they have for this man,  the venue filled-up  with raucous cheering, a manner of which I had not previously experienced at any of the gigs that I have attended or photographed. “Allo! My name is John,” he said. The audience fell silent, apart from one heckler that shouted “wanker” and unwittingly entered himself into a North London rhetorical Jujitsu match; a match that Lydon with his quick-witted North London banter incidentally won. No harm was done – its all punk rock, or is it?

The first track was taken from PiLs’ latest album ‘This is PiL’ – ‘Deeper Water.’ The wax and wane of Lydon’s undulating tones flooded the arena of Indigo2 along with the spinous guitar riffs, the rise and fall of the bass guitar and rhythmic drumming. Lydon performed the track with an intense passion that seized the attention of the crowd. Lou Edmonds was on Lead guitar, Scott Firth played on bass and Bruce Smith on drums, they were brilliant and their sound was nothing less than enthralling.

John removed his jacket and waistcoat much to the delight of the crowd. Lydon’s trenchant vocals spliced through Indigo2 ‘This is Not a Love Song’ engendered the animation of the crowd and a lone crowd surfer that almost landed on me in the pit.  Lydon’s performance was riveting and consumed the audience entirely. The fans loved every moment. This was more than a gig, it was a whole production of carefully coordinated musical pieces, that fitted together to form nothing less than a contemporary and powerful operatic performance.

There was a moment of silence, John had stopped performing and stated, “Never let anyone tell you to act your fucking age.” he then walked off the stage: The fans momentarily appeared to be in stupefied state, they actually appeared lost – there was none of usual shouts for an encore, in fact a deathly silence was in the air for a few brief moments, then the silence was broken as one of the fans – me, in fact hollered at the top of my voice, “Come on John!” That was it everyone started cheering for more.  He returned to the stage with the band. ‘One Drop’ was the first song of the encore set; a song that discusses the current state of the nation and draws parallels with the song of the same name from Bob Marley. The encore set included the classic ‘Public Image,’ ‘Rise’ and ended with the belting tune ‘Open Up,’ the Lydon-Leftfield thumping hardcore classic that reverberated through the halls of the O2 complex.

This gig was a celebration of all that is Public Image Ltd. Their music is constantly evolving and always innovative there is nothing reticent about this man and his music. Yes of course there were retrospective pieces and why not, however the evening was not a moment to remember days gone by, but a showpiece of everything that is PiL. lydonaeon

Here before you is this geezer called John, a working class man proud of his roots, he comes straight to the point, life is too short to mince words. He does not sing in the conventional way. His music is a message for everyone. He is not afraid to speak his mind using his most powerful tool, his music – that which is his art.