Author: Simon Reed

Live: Catfish And The Bottlemen @ Guildhall Southampton

Live: Catfish And The Bottlemen @ O2 Guildhall Southampton To say that the band Catfish and the Bottlemen are on an upward trajectory would be something of an understatement. A little over two years ago, they were playing support slots in dank basement bars across the country – and now, via a top ten gold selling debut album, they have just concluded a UK tour that sold out every venue. Their two nights at London’s Brixton Academy sold out in six minutes. With a combined capacity of close to ten thousand, that’s twenty-seven tickets every second. Wow. The O2...

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Live: Tedeschi Trucks Band / Jo Harman @ London BluesFest

Live: Tedeschi Trucks Band / Jo Harman @ London BluesFest I’ve never much cared for Robert Elms if I’m honest. Finding him prone to hyperbole, when he appeared under the tent at the O2 Indigo and introduced the Tedeschi Trucks Band as “The best blues band in the world, the best rock band in the world, the best band in the world”, I did have to take time out to roll my eyes. To be fair to Elms, there is plenty of evidence to help back up such a bold claim. Husband and wife team Derek Trucks and Susan...

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Live: Buck & Evans @ Half Moon Putney

Buck & Evans Live at Half Moon Putney In the summer, I was lucky enough to take photographs at the Ramblin’ Man Fair festival in Maidstone, Kent. Optimistically scheduled against Blue Öyster Cult in an unassuming mid-afternoon slot on Saturday, the Outlaw Country stage presented a band I’d never heard of called Buck & Evans. Given the name and the stage, expectations didn’t run much beyond a bit of banjo plucking and that at least one of them would be chewing straw. How wrong I was. Buck & Evans turned out to be a powerhouse of soul-infused rock with...

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Interview: Buck & Evans. Slow Train Coming.

Buck and Evans Interview. Slow Train Coming. Formed in the valley’s of South Wales, quartet Buck & Evans have been honing their own brand of ‘rock ‘n’ soul’ since forming for what was expected to be a one off gig in London’s Soho in 2013. The ‘Buck’ is Chris Buck, a guitarist of sublime talent who has been endorsed as a player by none other than Guns N’ Roses’ Slash. The ‘Evans’ is Sally Ann Evans, a pianist and vocalist of extraordinary power and soul. An obvious and somewhat lazy comparison is Janis Joplin, but it’s hard to make...

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Live: Darwin Deez @ Wedgewood Rooms Portsmouth.

Darwin Deez at The Wedgewood Rooms Portsmouth “You Up?” proclaims the kick drum belonging to Tim McCoy, skinsman with New York indie pop-rock band Darwin Deez. Tonight’s big crowd at Portsmouth’s Wedgwood Rooms is certainly giving that impression. The band is touring the UK in support of their third studio album Double Down and tonight they are greeted by an enthusiastic, discerning and highly age-diverse audience. Whilst a number will be clambering aboard school buses in the morning, there are some people in here that are even older than me – and I don’t have the joy of being...

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Live Review: Sleaford Mods @ The Forum

Sleaford Mods @ The Forum This live music review is brought to you by the character * In March, my mate Rob Davies saw Sleaford Mods at The Bowery District, Reading: capacity 300, it wasn’t full. In June, I photographed them at KOKO, Camden: capacity 1500, sold out. Tonight, they played The Forum, Kentish Town: capacity 2300, sold out again. To say that Andrew Fearn and Jason Williamson of Sleaford Mods (they’re not mods and they’re not from Sleaford) have had an encouraging 6 months would be something of an understatement. “We sold it out, we sold it out,...

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Live: Rich Robinson @ The Jazz Cafe

Rich Robinson @ The Jazz Cafe. In the early 1990s, no self-respecting fan of good ole’ southern rock would be without a copy of The Black Crowes’ Shake Your Money Maker whizzing away in their CD player. Although the band never quite replicated the dynamic energy of their debut in later releases, there’s no denying the quality of the music that the brothers, vocalist Chris, and guitarist Rich Robinson cooked up in The Black Crowes – and their legacy is secured; listen to any US Classic Rock radio station and they are never more than 15 minutes away it...

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Live Review: Victorious Festival @ Southsea Seafront.

Southsea’s Victorious Festival is now in it’s fourth year and has seen nigh on exponential growth in that time. The site certainly is vast. Although the festival has no less than 10 performance spaces of varying size and scope – much of it showcasing local talent – my attention was focused on the two principle Castle and Common stages. With a few clashes and a not inconsiderable transit time between them, getting the best out of Victorious does take a little planning. It rained practically all day on Saturday and Castle stage afternoon acts such as Birmingham band Jaws and...

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Live Review: Heartless Bastards @ The Borderline

Austin based band Heartless Bastards brought their own amalgam of Americana influences to London’s Borderline on Tuesday night, promoting their critically acclaimed fifth album, Restless Ones. The place was a sell-out, though any claustrophobics would have been twitchy at the back as the audience oddly chose to leave a generous gap between themselves and the stage for the duration of the show. A shame for the band, as it subtracted from the intimacy of this most intimate of venues – though great for shooting pictures since there was freedom to move around at the front – and that is...

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Live: Ramblin Man Fair @ Mote Park

“We believe there’s a Ramblin’ Man – or Ramblin’ Woman – in all of us, who wants to wander and listen to great music, drink fine beer, eat great food and have the best of times”. So read the tagline for this inaugural Ramblin’ Man Fair  festival of Classic Rock, Prog, Country and Blues hosted by The Rock Collective and TeamRock and held at Mote Park in Maidstone over the weekend of 25th & 26th July. To be honest, I needed a little convincing. Mote Park might reside within the Garden of England but downtown Maidstone is hardly Woodstock...

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Live: Hamilton Loomis @ 100 Club

I really like the 100 Club. I like the history that’s embedded in its DNA. I like that you can practically touch the ceiling. I like that there are tables dotted around the periphery looking less trustworthy under load than the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. I even like there being a view-sapping pillar with the conspicuity of a Brachiosaurus that resides smack bang in front of the stage. Get stuck behind that and you’re in for a fun night – it pays to arrive early. I like the music they put on and I like the punters that go there....

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The Ecstasy of Wilko Johnson. London Film Premiere.

The last three years of Dr Feelgood guitarist Wilko Johnson’s life have been well documented: Terminal cancer diagnosis, farewell tour, rapidly recorded Gold selling album Going Back Home with Roger Daltrey, intervention from cancer specialist and music photographer Charlie Chan, radical surgery at Addenbrooke’s Hospital and ultimately, survival. In 2009, award-winning documentary film maker Julien Temple made his critically acclaimed Oil City Confidential, recalling the rise of Dr Feelgood through the pre-punk era of the early 1970s. Johnson’s quirky character shone in Oil City and it established a rapport between the two men. When Johnson and Daltrey needed a...

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Interview: Hamilton Loomis. Texas Star.

If you made a Venn Diagram that had rings with Blues, Rock, Soul, Funk, Pop and Jazz on it, there would be precious little room in the middle – but one of very few names that could occupy the space would be Hamilton Loomis. Loomis, who hails from Galveston, Texas, somehow manages to shoehorn all these genres into his music. When asked to describe his sound he even struggles himself, referring to it as a “gumbo” of styles, settling finally on: “Modern Texas soul music; definitely rooted in the blues, but more modern”. That explains it then. Loomis has...

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Live: Suzanne Vega @ The Anvil.

Hammersmith Odeon. Wembley Arena. Wasn’t it nice when these venues could just be called what they’re called without being obligated to have the name of a multinational conglomerate inelegantly crowbarred into their title? I mention these places not out of nostalgic respect to times past, but because it was upon their stages that I first saw Suzanne Vega perform in the late 1980s. Indeed it’s testament to the explosive impact her first two albums made on the UK music scene that she was booked to play in such iconic venues, with such large capacities. In 2015, Vega has returned...

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Live: Virgil & The Accelerators @ 100 Club.

Following the Autumn 2014 release of their critically acclaimed second studio album Army Of Three, there are few bands in the blues-rock arena that are currently stirring up as much interest as Virgil And The Accelerators. Support slots with veteran acts such as Uriah Heap and Michael Schenker have helped build an audience and the band are now headlining venues as they strive, seemingly inevitably, towards bigger things. Now then, is perhaps the best time to catch them in the intimate surroundings of a space such as London’s iconic 100 Club, a music venue that has history dripping off...

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Live: Ben Poole @ The Maltings.

Last month I was lucky enough to photograph the Ben Poole band in the expansive surroundings of London’s Shepherds Bush Empire. Ben was the support act on the UK leg of Kenny Wayne Shepherd’s spring tour. I say ‘photograph’ and not ‘see’ because the ‘three songs and out’ rule at larger venues meant that after around 10 minutes I was escorted to and shown the wrong side of the stage door whilst waiting for Shepherd’s performance. My experience of Ben Poole prior to 21st May then primarily consisted of watching dusk envelop a dingy Shepherds Bush alleyway with a...

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Rock Media: The Blockheads.
Beyond The Call Of Dury

Ian Dury and the Blockheads were a band that knew adversity. Drummer Charley Charles died of cancer in 1990 and front man Dury succumbed to the same fate 10 years later. In the absence of Dury, ‘The Blockheads’ continue to perform both the classic songs from the 70s and 80s as well as material from their own three albums, but the conventional wisdom seemed to be that devoid of the seminal man at the front, The Blockheads would be a lightweight, low-viscosity version of their former selves. Mick Gallagher, ace keyboard player and a Blockhead from the very beginning...

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Live: Larry Miller @The Borderline.

Larry Miller once played guitar in my front room. Around 20 years ago, he answered an ad in Melody Maker (for anybody under the age of 30, an ‘ad in Melody Maker’ was something that existed before the Internet) for a guitar I was selling and had come round to check it out. I’d never heard of him, but when he picked up my instrument, it was soon apparent that I was in the presence of guitar greatness. In the end, he never bought it. He advised me that to save me from myself he couldn’t buy it from...

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Live: Skinny Lister @ Academy Islington

English folk/pop/punk outfit Skinny Lister released their second album Down On Deptford Broadway in late April. The band, who are a staple ingredient at a number of UK festivals and who have picked up airplay on both 6Music and XFM, have been touring the UK in support of the new record and played to a sold out O2 Academy Islington crowd on May 7th. I must be honest and admit that I was a bit late to the Skinny Lister party, both metaphorically and literally. I didn’t really know their music, other than to be peripherally aware that they...

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Live: King King @ Jazz Cafe

Glasgow based King King released their third album Reaching For The Light on 4th May. If a bulging trophy cabinet were their only measure of success, you’d be forgiven for wondering why they bothered. With best band, best album (for 2013’s Standing In The Shadows), best drummer, best bass player and best male vocalist snapped up in the 2014 British Blues Awards, they’re a collective with little to prove – but King King aren’t famed for resting on their laurels and the new record is already their most critically well received to date. The band recently played London’s Borderline,...

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Live: Wilko Johnson @ Shepherds Bush Empire

I first saw Wilko Johnson play guitar when I was 16 years old. He was guest on a BBC show called *Rockschool that taught impressionable teenagers such as myself how to play in a band. The programme aired in the mid 1980s – long after the peak of interest had waned in his band Dr Feelgood (a band I was only aware of peripherally anyway, and I’d certainly never heard of Johnson). He explained his technique – a technique that famously made him sound as if he was playing rhythm and lead guitar at the same time. He made...

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Live: The Wombats @ Brixton Academy.

The Wombats released their long-awaited new album Glitterbug on 13 April. To celebrate they held a party in Brixton and invited 5000 people to it. The band, who met at the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts, might not be particularly prolific writers (Glitterbug is only their third Long Player, with A Guide To Love, Loss And Desperation debuting in 2007 and This Modern Glitch following in 2011), but they have a manically loyal fan base that insured their solitary London performance sold out in short order. There were two supports in the form of COMPNY who were playing their...

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Live: Kenny Wayne Shepherd @ The Empire.

It’s a balmy, unseasonably warm night in west London. Shirtsleeves abound on Shepherds Bush Green but at the O2 Shepherds Bush Empire across the street, the temperature outside won’t match that in the auditorium. The Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band is in town and headlining a night of potent blues-rock. In his past, Shepherd has been accused of being too derivative, a Stevie Ray Vaughan clone running on auto. This strikes me as a little unfair. The blues scale contains six notes only (hexatonic) and no matter how you string them together, a degree of cross-pollination is surely inevitable. The...

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Live: Daniel Lanois @ Islington Assembly Hall

Whilst Daniel Lanois is an accomplished musician in his own right, he is certainly best known for his music production credits. Lanois has collaborated extensively with Brian Eno and has produced albums for artists as disparate as Bob Dylan, Peter Gabriel, U2 and Willie Nelson. With records as ubiquitous as Gabriel’s So and Us and U2’s The Joshua tree and Achtung Baby on his CV, there are an awful lot of people who have at least one of his albums on the shelf. His solo works offer a contradictory ambient sound scape – at times beautiful and melodic, at...

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Live: Ian Siegal @ The Jazz Cafe.

Ian Siegal could well be the most accomplished blues musician you might possibly have never heard of. Born in Fareham in 1971, it’s been said that if Siegal had been performing and recording in the 1960s, his name would likely now resonate alongside such luminaries as Joe Cocker and Van Morrison. Given the hatful of prestigious awards and plaudits he has received, (too long to list fully, but ‘British Blues Awards Male Vocalist of the Year: 2011, 2012 and 2013’ and “One of the most innovative, gifted and engaging blues performers on the planet today” – MOJO Magazine aren’t bad...

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Live: OK GO @ KOKO

Los Angeles based OK Go are at least as well known for their innovative and technically grand music videos as they are for their eccentric brand of alternative pop/rock. The videos, always visually spectacular and often hewn from a single shot, are a viral phenomenon: Here It Goes Again (nimble choreography on multiple treadmills) – close to quarter of a billion YouTube views; This Too Shall Pass (increasingly manic paint chucking Rube Goldberg Machine) – close to half a billion. The videos are such an intrinsic part of the operation that it’s hard to tell whether OK Go are...

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Live Review: Waxahatchee @ St Pancras Old Church.

St Pancras Old Church is a beautiful place to experience live music – described  as “London’s most spectacular intimate live music venue”, it really does justify that assessment. It’s toasty within; convection heaters blast warm air up the walls and make for the perfect antidote to the January chill outside. Hundreds of tealights add to that warmth and help keep the place nicely underexposed – though at the business end the artistes do at least get a pair of table lamps and some left over Christmas lights (well, it is a church) to help them find their way around....

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