Author: Simon Reed

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: Dan Patlansky @ The Borderline.

South African born blues guitarist Dan Patlansky is comparatively unknown in the UK, although he has an extensive back catalogue of material and has certainly attracted the attention of music critics worldwide. His latest recording Dear Silence Thieves was voted Number 1 Blues Rock Album in the World by Blues Rock Review USA. Beating out competition from artists such as Joe Bonamassa and Rival Sons, there must be something about him. Patlansky’s talents were obviously recognised by Bruce Springsteen too when he received the honour of being asked to open for the New Jersey institution during his recent South...

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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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