‘Where’s Captain Kirk?’ Spizz at THE 100 Club

100 Club, Oxford St, London 19.10.19

Took the train to London, heading for Oxford Street’s legendary 100 Club (carrying an injury and a walking pole!). Gig 62 of the year having seen 129 different bands – sometimes I think it is taking its toll.

Tonight it was Spizz….or should that be Spizz Oil, Athletico Spizz 80, Spizzenergi or the Spizzles. This lot used to change their name annually, band member turnover matching the name instability. A full range of t-shirts and badges available on the merch stand – pick which name you want.

At the heart of it all is ‘Spizz’. Last Saturday I was at the Roundhouse for The Psychedelic Furs. In the bar afterwards we noticed a guy with a leather jacket on with ‘Spizz’ on the back so I bowled over and asked if he was going to the 100 Club the following Saturday. “Hope so. I AM Spizz!” was his reply. He let me off and I grabbed a selfie after he had put his comedy teeth in and glasses on.

I AM Spizz!

How was I supposed to know? I hadn’t seen him since 1981 and which bands go around with their own names on their backs?

I can’t really remember seeing Spizz but a mate I went with from school (Nick NCo) reminded me we were at The Lyceum in the Strand. It was 1981 and the five band line up was headlined by ‘The Spizzles (Athletico Spizz80..in brackets in case we didn’t make the link)’. He reminded me we had ‘Where’s Captain Kirk’ badges: they played it and we went home happy. I remember that bit now, with prompting, and let’s face it that is what we wanted to hear tonight.

My first and only previous Spizz gig in 1981

Having reopened the Spizz vault recently I also wanted to hear Soldier Soldier, Amnesia, No Room and Red and Black. I’d start with these if opening the Spizz vault.

THE 100 Club

You would hardly know it’s there. Even if looking for it you can miss it. Just a doorway and a small sign sticking out above it, leading downstairs to the 355 person capacity museum of jazz, blues and rock. A historical vault, its walls laden with photos of the greats who have played here.

The way in. Easier to see at night.
The historic photos on the walls of The 100 Club
Terry Hall and The Specials amongst the old pics

It started as a jazz club in the 1940s and in 1964 became the ‘100 Club’ that it is today. All sorts have played here: The Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Damned, and Siouxsie and the Banshees as the punk think was exploding but also big names doing special gigs like The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney and Alice Cooper. September 1976 was the infamous punk festival.

The club’s website expands on the history here:


Hard work to keep a live music club like this going here given the nature of Oxford Street and developments that surround it in this shoppers bit of ‘tourist London’.

A lot of old punk, post-punk and Oi! bands seem to rock up here: Custer’s last stand against a tide of inevitability.

My 100 Club visits

It was the last century, just, but I didn’t visit this historic venue until 23 February 1999 when I came into town from near Reading to see ‘Straw’. Really good poppy band that released several EPs and an album before disappearing.

First visit in 1999

It was 17 years before I returned, excited, to see my first Ramonas’ gig – I was limping with a dodgy foot then come to think of it – but it had all the pace and energy of the original Ramones live. I leant on a pillar – one of the three that get in the way – and just punched the air. That was 19 March 2016 with
the interestingly named and even more interestingly dressed Pussycat and the Dirty Johnsons supporting – lead singer sporting a tail. Good. Leaping on the tables next to the stage like ..er…a pussycat.

In October 2017 I came to The Blow Monkeys with mate Dave (DPi) I’m here with tonight. We came to the sound check and I was amazed at how good they were. I really like their last album – The Wild River – mellow – well worth a listen. One of my favourite albums that year.

Blow Monkeys soundcheck
Blow Monkeys main set

Since them The Members and Chron Gen in January 2018 and the best of all, Sleeper on 23 May this year after I won a couple of tickets for a special live radio concert for Absolute Radio.

Louise Werner – Sleeper
Sleeper – Absolute Radio concert

Tonight: Spizzenergi

A gig celebrating a 40 year anniversary of Spizz. Good crowd in, of an age and smiling.

Spizz himself came on complete with accessories – laser pen, light up space-age glasses, led enhanced jacket, flashing coloured gloves – I have never seen anyone else wave a laser pen on stage like a lecturer.

Spizz in his space age glasses
The light-up gloves

After a bit of manoeuvring and pillar dodging we got to see and hear Red and Black, Soldier Soldier and Amnesia, which made early appearances. 6000 Crazy was another that stuck in my head. Spizz thanked everyone who had bought the bright yellow 40th anniversary t-shirts and invited them all on stage for a glorious rendition of ‘Where’s Captain Kirk’ with several beaming extras on backing vocals.

Guest vocals on ‘Captain Kirk’

This was a one of those gigs that far exceeded expectations. The early-bird tickets were ten quid. A marvellous celebration.

As the set came to an end we played the encore game – going back stage here involves going across the room through the punters to a door at the back so acting out the process is more practical and was delivered with more enthusiasm for it.

On a day of Brexit marches it was fitting that Spizz put the last song to a vote between second goes at Soldier Soldier and Captain Kirk. Soldier Soldier got huge support but hey, Captain Kirk was always going to be a good ‘backstop’..and that’s what we got. Once again I went home happy, 38 years after the last time…and with another badge.

Me and Spizz – I recognised him this time

‘No Tears, Party Time is Here Again’: Psychedelic Furs with The Wendy James Band

London Roundhouse 12.10.19

Saturday night. Third gig night in a row and we are down in London at the Roundhouse for the finale of the UK leg of the Psychedelic Furs tour. This was a special one. We did have a focus on the support act tonight and it unfolded into a classic one.

An early start at the ‘Sir Richard Steele, powered by the Intoxicologist’ pub, just up the hill from Chalk Farm tube – tapas a good option – plenty of it – in case the pub’s name wasn’t mouthful enough.


We needed to be at the Roundhouse in time for the Wendy James Band soundcheck – booked as an extra. Passes issued at the stage door and Wendy’s tour man Ollie took us in. The band had about an hour or so to sort out and settle the sounds echoing around the empty, hard floored restored engine shed – this beautiful restored engine shed – with eight blokes in their 50s (predictably) looking on absorbed.

Wendy James Band – Soundcheck
How’s it sounding Rupert?

I find it fascinating, perhaps because I can’t play a note on anything and admire what performers can do. What an opportunity and a chance to get my Transvision Vamp vinyl – albums Pop Art (1988 peaked at no.4 in the UK chart) and Velveteen (a no.1 album in 1989 ) – signed just as the doors open and early birds flood in.

Wendy James says hello – mate Dave who engineered this grabs the pic

We went to the upstairs side bar to see what the view was like – good – more open and less equipment and speakers in the way than our previous visit for The Sisters of Mercy. It is in line with the stage so an unusual view.

No sign of the Furs anywhere, until saxophonist Mars Williams wanders through.

View from upstairs side bar – filling up downstairs

Wendy James Band

Wendy James Band site gives more detailed background to recent activity:


The band are a great collaboration, together for the tour and my second chance to see them on it. (Link to Portsmouth gig below)


So much tighter this time which Rupert from the band confirmed later – it just gets better through the tour which generally you would expect, barring upsets or technical problems.

James Scavnulos, the big man in the pink suit tonight on drums, I later learned, drums with Nick Cave and has played with The Cramps and Lydia Lunch. All the band have some pink on to be pretty in this evening.

The set is a fairly even mix of material from Transvision Vamp, Racine (Wendy’s band after TV) and newer solo material. They started with the Holly and the Italians song which Wendy made more famous with Transvision Vamp, ‘Tell that Girl to Shut Up’ – great start – on through ‘I Want Your Love’ ‘Bad Valentine’ and the last one is ‘Baby I Don’t Care’ (Reached No.3 in the 1989 UK singles chart) and the crowd are loving it. Wendy’s loving it shouting “I want more, I want more” at the end. She’ll be back with a new album early next year. This support slot opportunity with The Furs looks like a huge success to me.

The Psychedelic Furs

This was a top tour ending show for the originally London based Furs. It must feel like a homecoming at this classic rejuvenated venue.

Despite plans to move from our balcony side bar vantage point we didn’t see the need. Sound was good and we got a different perspective, even seeing into the backstage marshalling area before the bands walk up the steps to the stage.

Furs from the side members’ bar at The Roundhouse

The set was virtually identical to the Portsmouth one I blogged about earlier on the tour. ‘Sister Europe’, President Gas’ and ‘Heaven’ the winners on my card, surpassed by only the fantastic ‘India’ to finish….was that the finish?

That’s it – the night is over..

After show

….but that’s not it. With passes from The Wendy James Band soundcheck we asked if we could move over to the other bar where we could see the bands gathering – no problem. We mingled, beaming smiles and wide-eyed. Fantastic. When you get a chance to drop in on a party with bands you’ve watched, listened to and respected for decades it’s just going to be a great night.

Caught up with most of the Psychedelic Furs with some party style polite manoeuvring.😎

The Butlers started life not far from where I grew up, and I let Richard know I was born in the same hospital (he’s older than me so no chance we were switched at birth mum).

Fine products of Kingston Hospital maternity ward
…what was the b-side of Dumb Waiters again Richard?
Tim ‘brother on the bass’ Butler with two blokes he doesn’t recognise
The brilliant sax man Mars Williams

….yes we even managed to convince original Furs guitarist (sorry I didn’t realise at first) Roger Morris to take part in the lookalike competition with my mate Dave.

Furs guitarist Roger Morris, left…and right!?

We had a cracking time – hope no one noticed too much. Can’t thank The Wendy James Band enough and cheers for the chat the insights and intros.

(Pics after show by Dave/ frankly anyone passing.)

Next stop The 100 Club, Oxford Street for Spizz, next weekend.

A Peaky Blinder played by Alice Cooper, The Stranglers and MC50

Resorts World Arena, Birmingham 11.10.19

Day two of my three day gig excursion. Alice Cooper and, for me, the big added attraction of The Stranglers.

Having recently binge watched all of the Peaky Blinders tv series – and I really am not a tv watcher – I was amused to see the branding being enthusiastically adopted in the pre-gig hospitality area – yes this was a special one with gig buddy Dave.

Highly recommended

The packages and annual membership arrangements get you seats up the front in this big seated arena for which I’m extremely grateful – regulars get an early shout and we are on the front row, just to right of centre stage. Thirty years ago I could get down the front here but that was with assistance from friends on security – it is strictly policed these days by polite well-trained staff. This really is the opposite end of the spectrum to the basement of the Anvil Rock Bar the night before. I love ’em both.

MC50 (MC5)

Wayne Kramer is the only only original 1964 member of MC5 in the MC50 touring band. Active initially until 1972 MC5 were an inspiration to US punk rockers at the end of the decade. I didn’t know much about them but the Spotify trawl was an enlightening one and their Hendrix-like lead singer tonight brought it to life on this ‘Kick out the Jams’ tour.

Wayne Kramer – MC5 original

Kramer introduced his line up – drummer from Fugazi, bassist from Faith No More and guitarist from Soundgarden. Seasoned professionals.


I however delivered a true amateur performance by accidentally deleting all the pics from my camera after an evening of various ‘Peaky Blinder’ branded brews, including the Peaky Blinder two pint lager bucket. I had copied my Stranglers pics across to my phone before this schoolboy error and I have nabbed some of my mate Dave’s.

Hence photos of MC50 and Alice Cooper are all courtesy of Dave.

The Stranglers

My 26th Stranglers gig. A ritual that started in July 1990 and continues – I’ll catalogue the lifelong tour at the some point – I’ve been digging.

Menininblack Tour 1980 – London Rainbow and Hammersmith Odeon

The original members still touring are Jean-Jacques Burnel (bass and vocals) and Dave Greenfield (keyboards). Baz Warne (guitar and vocals) has been in the band longer than Hugh Cornwell was though. Jet Black has stepped aside for Jim MacCauley on drums and he has been touring with them in recent years. For a while Jet was coming on as a sub for a few songs but not now that I know of. Even JJ is 67 now.

JJ and Baz
Dave Greenfield

Never quite the same seeing them as a support act but a mainly greatest hits set that started with ‘Toiler on the Sea’ and finished with ‘No More Heroes’. I enjoyed it more than most of the seated masses but they were here for Alice Cooper. That’s how it is.

The Stranglers with down in the sewer backdrop
Baz Warne
Goodnight Birminghaminblack

Remaining photos courtesy of ‘Dave’ following my late night deletion error. These are from a phone!

Old Black Eyes is Back: Alice Cooper

What a showman. The old rocker just keeps going and looks good on it. Leather clad with all sorts of props he’s known for, perhaps tamed a little but we are still exposed to some dark cartoon fantasies on stage.

A fantastic selection of musicians with him, including some from the Hollywood Vampires. The drummer – Glen Sobel – was exceptional.

I can’t say I know Alice Cooper material beyond the obvious – Poison, School’s Out – but I’d been listening to a Spotify playlist I’d assembled from more recent Setlist.com tip-offs. While this can be a spoiler I prefer that if I’m seeing a band I haven’t got stuff by (not that owning stuff matters any more).


Best for me “Roses on White Lace’ and ‘No More Mr Nice Guy’. The former aided by his wife in a mock blood splattered wedding dress. Rock ‘n’ roll eh.

Encore is inevitably ‘Schools Out’ mixed in with ‘Another Brick in the Wall’. Smoke filled bubbles and an invasion of giant balloons full of confetti.

A guillotine appeared to add to the gore with Mrs Cooper enthusiastically chopping.

Goodnight Birmingham. A peaky blinder of a gig. Next we are off to London to The Roundhouse for the last night of the Psychedelic Furs tour, with The Wendy James Band.

“Oh no, they’re playing the NEC.” Birmingham’s premier gig venue revisited.

Today I am heading up to Birmingham ‘Resorts World Arena’ (that’s what they call the NEC gig venue out near the airport now) to see Alice Cooper, The Stranglers and MC5. A bit of time to dredge my NEC history as it was in my old back yard.

The NEC: a ‘cruise ship’ of venues?

The arena where bands have generally played at Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre (NEC) site is the Arena which opened in 1980. I went up to university in Birmingham in 1981 and stayed in the area, Brum and then Coventry, until 1998. In my time there the NEC was widely seen as a rather faceless modern place but time has shown its convenience has won through. Travel to it by train and car from over a wide area is easy and the car parks have always been vast, making getting out a lengthy challenge. A place for the big bands. A comfortable ‘cruise ship’ of venues which continues to be the first place on any major tour outside London. If it’s a big name then it certainly works and they come here in droves.

Occasionally the other exhibition halls have been used – I remember a very sensible grown-up ‘stay in your seats’ Bryan Ferry gig in the late 80s in one of the big Halls. I thought I was hitting middle age and left with spirits dampened. Still rocking over 30 years later though, as is Bryan Ferry. It wasn’t all over.


I found an old t-shirt the other day – in a bag of nostalgic clothing in the loft – for the Yiva Oxfam festival in August 1986. A novel indoor festival type event, at the time, with a half-sized arena using black curtains and barriers and the stage half way up. The bands were strangers to the NEC size of venues: King, from Coventry, Feargal Sharkey, Half Man Half Biscuit, Balaam and the Angel and one of my longstanding favourites, The Icicle Works.

The Yiva Oxfam event


I read that King got back together in 2015 to do some more stuff. Jim from King used to work in HMV in the centre of Coventry and me and my work mates used to play ‘HMV with Jim from King’ at 5-a-side football, tackling him respectfully. (I’m sure ungainly Chris – CMe – must have clattered him a few times.)

The Pogues and Kirsty

More atmosphere was generated when they halved the size of the Arena and made a big standing area – referring to it as the Forum. A particularly riotous application of this set up was a Pogues gig just before Christmas – 12 December 1988 – a cracker with me and my mate Sean in full voice (SMu). Guests on stage were The Specials from down the road in Coventry and Kirsty MacColl at the height of her popularity. She sang Fairytale of New York in a duet with Shane MacGowan – absolutely of the moment – a special one. Both surprise guest acts had emerged from a giant ‘fridge’ amid dry ice, as a drunken MacGowan opened the door for a beer.

The best version of Fairytale of New York I’ll ever hear

Jarvis v Jacko

Several friends and acquaintances worked at the NEC in the late 80s, early 90s which was handy for getting in last minute to good seats – that was how I made it to the front rows for UB40 and Frankie Goes to Hollywood and somewhere in the arena for the unmentionable Gary Glitter.

Then there was the brilliant Pulp gig at the Forum on 22 February 1996 – frontman Jarvis Cocker the anti-hero after his assault on the stage at the Brit Awards ceremony earlier in the week, during a nauseous Micheal Jackson showcase moment – surrounded by a battalion of smiling children.

Link to Jarvis story with video: https://vanyaland.com/2016/02/19/20-years-ago-today-jarvis-cocker-crashed-michael-jacksons-performance-at-the-brit-awards/

An early R.E.M tour – OK not that early but their first big album tour for ‘Green’ – was another good ‘un.

Beautiful South

The last visit I recall when living in the West Midlands was for The Beautiful South. I went on my own and bought a ticket outside – bit lightweight but I was a Housemartins fan and listened to all their stuff as well. The drummer fell of stage at the end of the main set and broke his arm.

My return: a few recent ones

When I moved south in 1998 I didn’t see that I’d have any reason to return to the NEC to see a band, but in recent years my gig buddy Dave (DPi) has come up trumps with some irrresistable tickets for things up here: Kings of Leon – who managed to make it feel like a more intimate gig in Tennessee somehow – and an extraordinarily memorable night seeing The Hollywood Vampires in June 2018 with meet and greet before, with Johnny Depp and all. The Damned and the Darkness were supporting that night.

Johnny Depp and Alice Cooper
Johnny Depp, me, Alice Cooper and don’t forget Joe Perry at the Hollywood Vampires gig June 2018

That completes my NEC/Resorts Arena Birmingham lookback. Tonight we are here for Alice Cooper, the Stranglers and MC5.

Maybe you have some favourite NEC gigs – or some horrors?

The Professionals pack ’em in

Anvil, Bournemouth 10.10.19

The start of three gigs in three days for me. The venues couldn’t be more diverse and in three towns and cities. Tonight, my 59th gig of the year, is a short hop on the train to Bournemouth and the tiny Anvil Rock Bar for The Professionals with Poole punks The Mistakes and Self-Abuse as the support bands.

The Anvil Rock Bar

Small venues

The venue can’t hold more than about a hundred in its basement bar. It opened around 2011. I didn’t know about it as a venue until going to see The Ramonas and The Skones here earlier this year, in March.

Not sure about the precise capacities but there are a couple of other classic small venues in this region – I’m not sure I have been to anything smaller than the Winchester Gate in Salisbury, where I also saw The Ramonas in April this year – surely no more than 60-70 able to squeeze in there. Then there is The Railway near Winchester Station which is about the same as The Anvil. I saw Kirk Brandon do an acoustic gig there with a guy playing a cello a few years back. These are great places.

There must be some crackers out there waiting for me still. Any more I should check out?

The Anvil Rock Bar

The Anvil is half a mile down from the main Bournemouth train station, going towards the town, in a bit of a student heartland. The Old Fire Station is opposite, another venue – next size up.

Tonight a substantial merch stand greets on entry instead of downstairs. Fabulous range of t-shirts tonight but these are on the aging punks rather than the merch stand. (I’ve gone with a Pete Shelley number.)

The Anvil’s street level bar, with its wow factor engine block beer taps and decent beer range – including a the Anvil Stout (£3.50 a pint) – is the landing stage before being invited down to the basement.

Engine block beer taps

Tonight’s support bands

First, Self-Abuse (make up your own jokes) from Bournemouth with a chance to play about six songs to this full house… and use Paul ‘Sex Pistol’ Cook’s drum kit.

First up: Self-Abuse

Original material – plenty to draw on I’m told – with ‘Over the Top’ the winner for me. Lead singer was soon back down the front very actively enjoying The Professionals.

Next, from Poole, The Mistakes. They have been having some success in Europe and supported the UK Subs in a rare Wimborne gig recently – which I went to – a lot of familiar faces from that gig here tonight (including Rob from Wimborne Square Records).

There was substantial piece about them in Vive Le Rock in the Summer.

The Mistakes in the gloom

The Professionals

The Professionals were bulging out of this small packed venue from the start. The 4 inch high stage could barely contain them. Loud and punchy. ‘Silly Thing’ and ‘Kick Down the Door’ the big ones with plenty of new stuff in there. We got enough but wanted more.

Tom Spencer – The Professionals

Not great for pics in the cosy basement so more of an image to confirm my presence.

The Professionals play the Anvil

An ex-Sex Pistol in the Anvil in 2019. Wouldn’t have predicted that one.

Paul Cook was escorted upstairs and away afterwards. What a legacy the Pistols left and he was part of it.

Last year in Birmingham

As I haven’t been recording my rock’n’roll manoeuvres very long, I’ll just park a few photos here that I took at their O2 Academy gig in Birmingham last summer, supporting Billy Idol.

Tom Spencer – The Professionals 21.6.2018
Paul Cook – Professional Pistol – Birmingham O2 Academy –
June 2018

Psychedelic Furs back in the UK and back in Pompey

Pyramids Centre, Portsmouth 3.10.19

The Pyramids Centre – the venue

The Pyramids Centre is on the sea front at Southsea and boasts “fun leisure pools, funky flumes, wacky waves, pool inflatables and a three-level soft play adventure world filled with mazes, climbing nets and ball pits”. Perfect for a King Kurt gig maybe but is this the right place?

The not so ancient
Pyramids of Portsmouth

In the venue pyramid there is what I thought beforevwas a sports hall but it is carpeted (was it before) – new pyramid design carpet – chewing gum ban in place (cloakroom tickets issued for every pack found). This is tonight’s venue. It holds 1200 and is unsurprisingly square given the pyramid building thing.

Doors open. Inside the pyramid.
New pyramid themed carpet inspires chewing gum ban

Doesn’t sound that inviting does it but this complex was opened in 1988 in a move to make Portsmouth more of a leisure destination. The leisure centre works and bands came to play. It remains a convenient popular venue on the middle tour circuit an its relatively short history (by venues’ standards) has included Hawkwind, Muse, Kasabian, Radiohead, and The Prodigy. I’ve been here previously, not for several years until tonight’s ‘Furs’ gig, to see The Stranglers, Shed Seven and Killing Joke.

I prefer this to the O2 branded Southampton Guildhall echo chamber. There is free evening on street parking around on the wide roads of Southsea Common. Trains to Portsmouth Harbour or Fratton do mean a bus, taxi or long walk though. Excellent foodie pub The Florence Arms, Florence Road, is a few hundred yards away or there is the more prominent Jolly Sailor. The bonus is views of the Isle of Wight and a busy stretch of The Solent from The Esplanade – if you get there in the light (which we did, before visiting The Florence). Always tempted to stay over when in Portsmouth as it’s a bit of hack back to Poole on a ‘school night’. No choice this time. On to the gig.

The Wendy James Band featuring… Wendy James!

Wendy James
of Transvision Vamp fame

Tonight’s support is The Wendy James Band, that’s Wendy James of late 80s post punk popsters Transvision Vamp, with…a band, a good band, a really good set of musicians, but of course Wendy James is what this is about – old Transvision Vamp hits – and they were hits – remember…. ‘Tell That Girl to Shut Up’ , ‘Baby I Don’t Care’, ‘I Want Your Love’? – along with some more recent solo material. This is a really good choice for support on the tour – a bonus. I’ll leave it there for now as there’s another date on the tour I’ll be at.

My Furs experiences

My Psychedelic Furs listening started while at school. I picked up the first album, on cassette, from the sale bin at Sunbury Cross library, so it had already been played to the point of near destruction I guess. The Furs seem to have been my cassette fetish. Obviously I’ve had to buy stuff all over again at the turn of the century due to technological difficulties and my audio modernisation program.

Although at the time I was aware that the Psychedelic Furs were ‘from London’ and lead singer and songwriter Richard Butler was at art school somewhere nearby, I only recently discovered that he was born in Kingston, as I was. His brother, bassist Tim, was born in Teddington. These guys must have lived around me and my school mates….I’ll find out where at some point. Perhaps it was all too suburban to mention. After a few albums, in 1982 they were off to America anyway and there they stayed. Meanwhile I returned to Sunbury Cross library to buy their third album, Forever Now, from the used items sale bin.

The Furs – cassette years

Richard Butler is a pretty successful artist (painter) and has been for many years, now living in New York. Portraits of others in which he portrays himself seem to be his thing. I found this piece gave a good insight:


I managed to see The Furs twice, in the Midlands, before they stopped touring for eight years in 1992. Being U.S. based for so long opportunities haven’t come that often.

Birmingham Hummingbird 1990
Leicester Polytechnic 1991

The official video for the wonderful ‘Sister Europe’:


After mainly touring in America, where they were based, I was keen to get to see them and went to Kentish Town Forum with my mate Chris (CMe) for the Talk Talk Talk album in full and more, with all those wonderful trademark hand gestures from Butler R (and my mate Chris), acting out all the lyrics.

Two years ago my Furs appreciation was still re-booming and I went to two gigs on their October tour, at the small O2 place in Bristol and back at the Forum in London for another evening of hand gestures from Butler…and my mate Chris.

Indulgence over with. Some pics from tonight’s gig. 😎

Live in Portsmouth 3.10.19

The Furs at Portsmouth Pyramids

Not a sell out tonight in Portsmouth. A bit of room to move about and get to the two bars.

I presume the set will be similar throughout the tour. It draws from their albums through the decades. There are few bands where I can listen to the whole set and know every song by name – there was one I didn’t know the name of. I think more analysis and comparison when I’ve been to the London gig at the end of the tour. It was all there though: Sister Europe, President Gas, Dumb Waiters, Into You Like a Train, Love My Way, of course the predictable Pretty in Pink, Heaven and last was India as an encore.

Gesturing fully up to strength – lyrics in mime. No chat, just artistic gestures. Saxophone and oboe magnificent. Some in your face bass from Tim Butler, stalking the stage.

‘Heaven’ ? …maybe. Songs in mime by Richard Butler
Must be ‘Sleep Comes Down’

All home happy on a rainy Thursday night.

One test is which song do you wake up ‘singing’ around the house to while getting ready for work the next day, in a rasping voice….mine was ‘Heaven’.

Here’s a video of it, with lyrics, to have a singalong to: https://youtu.be/VcINmpMR7e4

I caught up with both bands again later on the tour in London: https://gigswithivan.home.blog/2019/10/15/no-tears-party-time-is-here-again-psychedelic-furs-with-the-wendy-james-band/

Live and Unheard – in Poole – Part Two

Poole Lighthouse 2.10.19

On Wednesday evening I returned to Poole Lighthouse for another ‘Live and Unheard’ session in the Sherling Studio. Three local acts given a showcase in surroundings where everyone can focus on the music and the artists, rather than accommodating the distractions of a rowdy pub gig – not quite everyone respects that of course – and free of pressure for crowd pleasing covers.

These evenings are presented by Matt Black. What a great idea. This one is a sell out – the studio seats about 100 – and my partner put us on the reserve list and we got the call 30 mins before the start.

Matt Black introduces….

I did wonder about recording this evening in my blog. I don’t hold myself out as a music critic – there are plenty of places out there doing that. I don’t see it is for me to criticise artists, all of whom I have huge respect for just for getting up and playing, never mind writing their own stuff. These are not big name acts. But this blog is about the experiences of ‘a grey haired gig goer‘ and having seen another hat-trick of acts, making a note and posting some pics is irresistible, for myself if no one else.

Tonight we were introduced to ‘TOBIAS IN FLIGHT’, ‘HENGISTBURY’ and ‘DD ALLEN’.

Tobias in Flight

“27 years playing guitar”, TOBIAS IN FLIGHT played solo but referred to playing with a band as well. Original songs reminiscent of Radiohead’s high pitches.

Tobias in Flight

More Tobias in info:



Pete and Jessie: Hengistbury

A country duo, that are much more than just that. What appealed to me was that this was a genuine duo with shifts between the two of them rather than the country singer with a bloke in tow thing.

Pete, with a voice like Passenger at times, got the banjo out along with a sit down guitar (a lap steel as referred to in their link below).


They are described on their website as ‘charmingly country’. They were.

D D Allen

In the Sherling Studio at Poole Lighthouse

What a find and thanks Matt Black for getting DD ALLEN to top tonight’s bill.

More on DD: https://ddallen.com/bio

Great rock’n’roll songs, including a few solo ones. This lot and this guy should be out there on tour with some big bands. I can see it working.


Really obviously impressive bass and lead guitarists. All of the band are talented, with DD Allen himself at the heart of it. I cannot see how this lot can’t go on and on to bigger things – he/they have already played some smaller festivals and recorded with some known producers.

Another successful ‘Live and Unheard’ at Poole Lighthouse.

DD Allen’s Spotify link:


80s Classics – China Crisis

Engine Rooms, Southampton 27.9.19

China Crisis at The Engine Rooms

Can there be anyone more classically early 80s than China Crisis? I associate their synth pop sound with 1982-83-84….. and I had largely left it back there until recently. I saw them support The Thompson Twins at Hammersmith Palais on 12 April 1982 and later in ’82 supporting Simple Minds at Birmingham Odeon in December 1982. Despite hearing their singles at every student night out going and listening to my Brum housemates’ albums, I didn’t buy any of their material.

Earlier this year in Basingstoke

For me they remained back in the 80s until April this year when we popped up to the rock ‘n’ roll town of Basingstoke to see them at The Haymarket Theatre. Vocalist Gary Daly had lots of stories and jokes – almost stand up at times – great sense of timing. He got the audience going at a mention of Brexit at one point, asking for a show of hands on a few key questions and nearly whisking the audience off on an unwanted tangent before calming them down with another gentle 80s hit.

Haymarket Theatre in April 2019
A snap from the back of The Haymarket Theatre

It was a quiet seated gig and we were near the back so I thought I’d take the opportunity to see them again on a Friday night, at Southampton’s Engine Rooms.

Tonight’s venue: The Engine Rooms

This venue is in an even less likely location than Southampton’s 1865 and looks even more like a light industrial unit – this one on the inside as well – ventilation pipes and all – it is an industrial unit. It is Unit K on the Quay Road Industrial Estate, just beyond IKEA down towards the docks in a street off to the right. A 0.7 mile walk from Southampton Central train station through the retail park or if driving you can park at the cinema complex, next to the casino visible on the main road. There is a bar in Franky and Benny’s in the cinema complex (this later closed permanently) TGI Fridays is just up the road but these are not really pre-gig pub substitutes. Wetherspoons (The Standing Order) down the bottom of town is a bit more of a walk away.

The venue holds between 400 and 800 people (says the website) and there is a divider curtain that can make the bar area bigger or gig area bigger to suit. With a band on I would think 600 max with the stage up.

Doors open – room undivided tonight

A packed Charlatans gig here in February 2016 opened my eyes to the place – how they landed that one I don’t know. They get some good medium popularity acts and older well known acts. I’d heard the sound wasn’t that good but this seems to depend where you stand – I’ve been several times now (Undertones, Ride, Nick Lowe, Sleeper, Graham Parker). I don’t think standing next to a side wall is a good idea and, as usual, hanging around the mixing desk area is a good bet.

The stage is quite low and some neck straining to see sometimes but it goes with the small venue experience and this place is bringing the bands to Southampton.

(All photos in my blogs are my own unless stated – sometimes I get lucky and sometimes I don’t but they’re mine.)

Tonight’s performances

No support band and two 50 minute sets tonight. The first one less familiar tracks and second half with the better known hits but both sets well received. This is ‘hard not to like’ 80s classic synth pop.

Setlist link below:


Lead vocalist Gary Daly does nearly all the chat. He’s a cheeky comedian having a mock dig at 80s ‘rivals’ like OMD with ‘even less live instruments on stage’ and pulling his hair down over one side of his face in a pop at Human League’s Phil Oakey.

Gary Daly

Eddie Lundon on guitar does lead vocals on some songs and he is the face and voice I remembered most from the old pub video juke boxes, but Gary Daly is the main vocals man, still with a beautiful voice.

Here’s Eddie Lundon on the 1983 video of ‘Wishful Thinking’:


Eddie Lundon

Joining originals Gary and Eddie on tour are a talented young keyboard player, Jack Hymers and saxophonist, Eric Animan. Brilliant. (Thanks to Kim on China Crisis Appreciation Soc Facebook group for their names.)

Jack Hymers on keyboards
Eric Animan on sax

The second half included favourites King in a Catholic Style, Christian, Wishful Thinking and Black Man Ray. These are great songs. Mellow and nostalgic.

The thoroughly 80s video for ‘Black Man Ray’: https://youtu.be/7WOAyDLxD9g

Lead singer Gary Daly

The room is fairly busy but still space to get close for a few pics. I do like the freedom to be able to wander about in a gig and get a few different views and sounds. No sweaty crush tonight.

Eddie on guitar
A pair of 80s legends from Kirby

What a lovely night and friendly feel. I wonder if Sham 69 will be like this? 😎We hung around for a bit and grabbed a few selfies. My partner Sally asked for a poster from the box office (thank you guys) which she got signed. The benefits of a smaller local venue eh. I’m sure we’ll be back here soon.

Me and Eddie Lundon

New solo material

Gary Daly has released some new solo material this year. CDs on sale at the gig and downloads available through Music Glue link below which was posted on the China Crisis Facebook pages.


The Sisters of Mercy: out of the darkness

London Roundhouse 20.9.19

Eldritch – the Prince of Darkness

Fighting Cocks 1983

One night in January 1983 (I looked it up – it was 21 January), I wandered into the Fighting Cocks pub in Moseley, Birmingham to see the Sisters of Mercy, the princes of 80s darkness. They played from within clouds of dry ice in the pub’s upstairs gig room. I was with my student house mates Andy (AMu), Nige (NCh) and Steve (SLe) – we think – Andy is here tonight along with Wayne (WMo), from school/ teenage gig years, and Dave (DPi).

I can’t remember much about that Moseley gig. It was dark, smokey and over 36 years ago. We were probably wearing second hand big coats and jackets – dead men’s gear from ‘the Digbeth tailors’.

My student housemates returned to the Fighting Cocks in 2015 and had lunch and a few beers there. Some framed posters of 80s gigs were up on the walls, including the legendary Smiths one we missed – we heard about it an hour after it finished, having been in another pub down the road in Balsall Heath…perhaps by pre-mobile carrier pigeon or someone passing on horseback.

The barman sensed our nostalgic excitement at the old Fighting Cocks gigs and asked if we wanted to go up to where the bands used to play. “What? It’s still there?”. “Yeah. No one uses it now: come and have a look.”

He unlocked the door and up we went. It was left virtually untouched from the last gig, decades ago. Dusty old glasses and cans. Holes in the well pounded floorboards. A wonderful accidental museum of rock, indie and post-punk.

Me and Andy survey gig history at The Fighting Cocks

After 1983 I didn’t see the ‘Sisters’ again. I listened to them. I had long since mangled and thrown away tapes. No vinyl and picked up some CDs much later. I managed a ‘Mission’ gig in Birmingham with ‘Sisters’ exile Wayne Hussey clambering all over the speakers in Birmingham’s Hummingbird in Dale End….but no ‘Sisters’ gig until tonight.

My ticket for the speaker clambering Hussey gig

The Roundhouse

On to tonight’s gig in London. Fabulous structure, The Roundhouse. A now revamped and reborn arts centre that was once a train engine shed with a turntable prescribing its roundness.

In my teenage London gig going years I never came here despite the lure of half The Stranglers’ Live X-Certs album being recorded here. I finally got to see The Stranglers here about seven years ago and have also made the trip up from Dorset in recent years for The Damned, Killing Joke, House of Love and the magnificent return of The Skids. Top mid-sized venue.

Support band Amenra’s dramatic lighting illuminates the Roundhouse structure

Support band: Amenra

We watched the Belgian (!) support band, Amenra, described by varied metal genres, from the upstairs side bar (members pass gets you in). Hard to take your eyes off this onslaught. The lighting made everything look like an old photo. Neck jerking stuff: lead singer with his back to the crowd for long periods. Maybe the best Belgian rock export since Plastic Bertrand.

Neck jerking energy – Amenra
Amenra – Sludge Metal and more
Amenra lighting give Roundhouse crowd a sepia look
Amenra – lead singer back to the crowd

The Sisters

Sisters of Mercy

Out of darkness they come. Andrew Eldritch and his current Sisters of Mercy: the band has been a very stop-start affair with a considerable turnover of members…including Tony James of Generation X and Sigue Sigue Sputnik (who went to my school in Hampton I discovered recently – where is the blue plaque?).

Maybe our ears are getting worn out but the sound was a bit quiet to start. Maybe too close to the balcony so we moved in a bit. I’m clearly not as well versed in the Sisters’ material as I thought but the early gem for me was ‘Alice’ with ‘Marian’ shortly after. (Full setlist linked below.) ‘Mother Russia’ and ‘Lucretia My Devotion’ were other highlights. Temple of Love was fast and topped by the wonderfully predictable finale of ‘This Corrosion’…”hey now, hey now now”, in our deepest voices…not as deep as Eldritch’s, obviously.

Link to full set list: https://www.setlist.fm/setlist/the-sisters-of-mercy/2019/roundhouse-london-england-5b9cc32c.html

The band were barely visible at times, appearing occasionally in beams of white and red light, with Eldritch’s unmistakable deep voice penetrating the gloom. This wasn’t a retro look back. Not a greatest hits parade. This had the atmosphere of an 80s gig.

Later Eldritch disgarded his black jacket to become the most brightly dressed guy in this dark place, revealing a flowery shirt….even goths have one in the back of the wardrobe then.

They are on for two nights here. I would have loved to have gone to the second, hoping for another variation on tonight’s set list.

Food and drink nearby

No shortage of pubs and other places to eat on Chalk Farm Road. The Enterprise Bar opposite the venue is a lively pub with good ales on but it can get packed and hard to get served before blokey Roundhou8se gigs. Joe’s bar slightly further down on the same side is my preference, especially afterwards with a selection of retro DJ nights running through the week.

We tried the Muang Thai, only 100 metres from the venue for food. Good. I’m sure we will return. Prompt, as required. The Vietnamese down the road near the bridge at Camden Lock is excellent – Thanh Binh. Both good for healthy choices.

Chalk Farm tube station on the Northern Line (Edgeware branch) is best for The Roundhouse but if you have the time a walk up Chalk Farm Road from Camden Town tube station, and the lock if time is on your side.

Spear of Destiny – One Eyed Jacks 35 years on

The 1865, Southampton 11.9.19

I took the train….to Southampton on Wednesday night to see Kirk Brandon in Spear of Destiny mode.

The 1865 is just over a mile from the central station, down the bottom of town in a well signposted but unlikely looking street when you get to it. Wetherspoons’ Standing Order is a handy nearby pre-gig watering hole.

From the outside the 1865 looks like some sort of industrial unit – it can’t be here can it? Inside it’s warm carpet and black curtains – felt a bit like being in a 70s Double Diamond advert. I like it. Only been once before .

The 1865, Southampton
Support band Feather Trade – view from the raised bar area

I like the location of the bar here, up stairs away at the back of the venue. You can stand up there and survey the place, including the merch stand have chat and it not be in the way or disruptive for the stage. Perfect to see a support band from. The stage entry is odd, with the bands coming on through the crowd and up a few steps at the front. Crowd parting to let bands off.

The club holds around 700 and it ends up half full tonight. With frontman Kirk, in Spear of Destiny are Craig Adams on bass (The Mission/Sisters of Mercy), Adrian Portas on guitar (New Model Army/Sex Gang Children) Phil Martini on drums and keyboardist and sax players also. (I have to look these things up – I recognise people from different bands but would rarely get names.) Full on ‘Spear’ sound. Adrian Portas was stand out brilliant on guitar.


One Eyed Jacks is the best SoD album for me and most so it was great to have the whole album played on this 35th anniversary tour. There is a re-recorded version on sale and available on the merch stand. It’s one of the vinyl albums I played repeatedly when it came out. Lots of rousing choruses.

On the merch stand there were two SoD CD boxed sets that looked good if CD is an option wanted. One of first three albums and one of another four. £20 each.

After the One Eyed Jacks airing some other classics with my favourite being ‘Grapes and Wrath’ off the first album but the whole set was really good – good sound.

Adrian Portas on guitar – brilliant guitar

This was a mid-week gig. Not wild. A room of largely men in our 50s feeling nostalgic and occasionally punching the air. I’d happily go again tonight.

I went along to this one with mate Chris (CMe) from Coventry days and Andy (AMu). I think we were doing a good punk rock version of Last of the Summer Wine. These are great ways to spend Wednesday night in September.

Always worth taking away a some haircut styling tips from Kirk Brandon so this last photo is one I can show to the hairdresser next visit….

Can you just do the back like this please? Kirk – legendary hair cuts