Adventures in Birmingham: OxJam

Last year, OxJam was not only one of my best Birmingham discoveries but one of my favourite days of the year. Last year we caught a few soloists like Neil Ward but the highlight was city favourite Tom Peel at arguably the best venue, The Victoria.

So I am very much looking forward to this year although there are less ‘live music venues’ and more coffee shops. As you know, I love music in coffee shops but feel that should be an addition; we should still have premier venues such the Victoria. Having said that, compared to last year, I got to see a lot in the Yardbird this year; the much talked about Musgraves at the Yardbird were as good as I imagined – they sound so familiar in fact that I feel I have seen them before after all.

The Scholars were as good as I remember them from a This Burning Age gig after which, the schedule was thrown out because Free School had problems setting up their laptops (not rocknroll as we know it). When they were ready to perform, they put on masks which from where we were sitting spooked us out. Furthermore, the impact would have been greater had they come on wearing said masks rather than slipping them on on-stage in full view, but erm, interesting.

The planned highlight of my day is The Young Runaways. I’ve seen both their acoustic and regular sets before and feel it’s a treat to see both on the same day. The late afternoon set at Café Blend was excellent and the Yardbird set to launch the EP was equally good. Then they performed a hateful Beyonce number and I couldn’t see a hint of irony. They played another track after that but unfortunately I already had a bad taste in my mouth (and not from my first ever Ostrich burger from the hut outside which was actually OK).

All in all, OxJam is a fantastic idea and if I’m still in Birmingham, I hope the organisers book early and we get the Victoria back on the menu in 2012.

Music Monday: The Last Party

I’m bemused and delighted when unsigned bands email to introduce themselves. It sure saves me the trouble of getting to every gig early to see all three or four bands (although I’ll do that anyway!).

Wouldn’t it be great though if we heard them in clothes shops, coffee houses and most crucially the radio? I don’t get why radio has separate shows for ‘unsigned bands’. Surely if you just throw odd tracks into the mix all day, it will bother no-one and deserved bands will get the exposure. What does it matter if unsigned bands are in the blend when music is so readily downloadable in the time it used to take to get the cellophane of a CD?

Anyway, the Last Party, apart from the negative sounding name (!) are upbeat and poppy – party-ish in fact! I can hear a little of the Style Council with the melodies of the Coral and softness of The Thrills and such like. Music for a sunny day, or to pretend it’s a sunny day.

With yet another new band from Manchester approaching me, I can’t help thinking this is all linked to the web space I devote to my beloved Cherry Ghost. I do wish Birmingham bands were this pro-active!

The Last Party (I’ve already started loving the name – I get it, music you’ll play at the last ever party) having just formed in late 2010 are already doing dates nationally and do I hope they come to Brum soon.

More on the Last Party

Music Monday: Birmingham Vintage Fair

Naked Remedy

All photos by fotograbs@gmail.com

I’ve spent weeks looking; this is one area that I wouldn’t compromise. For me, to give BVF a festival vibe, the music had to be at the centre of it and not just any band but one that accentuated the 1970s vibe. In the last two months I have been to every gig early to catch the support bands. After contacting every promoter, band, radio presenter, music college and music fan, I have not one but two PERFECT bands.

Naked Remedy to me represented the turn of the decade and I love every minute of their set. They’re a popular live band and had gigs either side of this event so I’m lucky not just to have them perform but they sure set the tone for the day too and not just with the psychedelic backdrop! I visibly saw people stop what they were doing as the energy poured out from the stage and there was a lot of noise from three people. Oh and a drummer who sings and converses with the crowd – who new!

Naked RemedyNaked Remedy    

    

In addition, the Naked Remedy family are a great bunch of guys and it’s a joy to have met them. They have earned more fans from the BVF audience and I for one am so looking forward to seeing them again. And I love that I like a band that gig a lot!

 
 
 
Dakesis

Hair, there, everywhere

                                                        If Naked Remedy started around 1970, Dakesis moved along the decade perfectly. Instead of their progressive metal set, they entertained a delighted audience with some classic rock covers of which the highlights for me are ‘Rebel Rebel’ and of course, ‘20th Century Boy’. I was delighted when I saw this in their set list as the track had become a point of reference for me when searching for the band. Gemma and the band are a pleasure to work with and on stage, they tick every box outside the fantastic set; guitar solos, hair, theatrics, everything I expect and then some. I cannot wait to see their full set.

From an audience perspective, both bands fitted in perfectly. From an organiser’s point of view, they both saved and made the day. LOVE

Dakesis

So that’s two more bands added to the ‘must see every time they play Birmingham’ list. HAPPY.

Music Monday: T is for Talk Talk

For a while, Talk Talk were right up there with Duran Duran, c 1982 and much derided for also having a double name. Matters weren’t helped by sharing the same recond label and producer but there were a few double names around at the time, The The spring to mind.

 Funny how hugely respected Mark Hollis is now and how the young’uns love Talk Talk.

1. Talk Talk

2. Today

3. It’s My Life

4. Today

5.  Life’s What You Make It

Talk Talk on Amazon

Music Monday – S is for Bruce Springsteen

It’s safe to say, this has taken some effort. It was so hard, I couldn’t even face it the first time ‘S’ came around on Music Monday. 40 years of back catalogue cannot be put into a top 5, that’s just wrong. So the Boss get’s the Madonna treatment, categories of best tracks.

When researching to make sure I hadn’t missed any I saw Springsteen genre desribed as ‘Jersey Shore’ and ‘Heartland Rock’ and I love them both; undeniably American.

Before I start, die hard Boss fans will dispute this list but it’s my list. So:

Best of the best

1. Born to Run – one of the most inpsiring songs ever recorded

2. Tunnel of Love – I just love it, from my favourite Boss album which takes the roof off live. (Fact that we were outdoors not relevant)

3. Hungry Heart – guaranteed smile on anyone’s face

4. Brilliant Disguise – a class tune

5. The River – old school classic

Best Live

1 Trapped – this is actually one of my favourite Boss tracks anyway but it heads the live list

2 Santa Claus is Coming to Town – one of the best Christmas songs of all time

3 Because the Night – made a classic by Patti Smith & only just released as studio version so for long, we just knew this from live shows

4 I’m on Fire – brings the house down and the lighters up (back in the day)

5. Radio Nowhere – a modern live classic already

Anthems

1. Born in the USA

2. Murder Incorporated

3. The Rising – will always remind me of being in America both for the presidential elections and the Inauguration 2008/9

Old School

1. Mary’s Place – relatively new but with the old school vibe

2. Badlands

3. Thunder Road

4. Out in the Streets

5. All That Heaven Will Allow

Poptastic

1. Girls in their Summer Clothes

2. Human Touch

3. Working on a Dream

4. Waiting on a Sunny Day

5. One Step up

Special mention

Outlaw Pete

From the 2009 ‘Working on a Dream’ album, it’s too new to be an all time favourite but I love it. It reminds me of ‘I was Born for Loving You’ by Kiss, which helps.

Best Album

Tunnel of Love – for all the above reasons

It’s also the soundtrack of my marriage and divorce and seems like that was also the case for Mr & Mrs Springsteen No: 1

Secondly, the first time I went to see the epic 4 hour live shows of old was the tour for this album. Ulitmately, it’s because the album is ram-packed with fine tunes.

More on the Boss