Friday, 11 April 2014

Ten Gigs I Would Happily Have Missed.

People love to talk about the great gigs they have attended. Well just for a change, what about the gigs you'd have been more than happy to miss: those miserable events when you'd much rather have been at home, sorting your sock drawer. Here's ten that got on my tits:

The Rolling Stones at Twickenham stadium: prior to the gig, a large group of us were sat in the pub, with the beer and conversation flowing. It was lovely and I knew the gig would never match up. Unfortunately I was right.

Jackson Browne at Hammersmith Odeon: memorable only because I briefly fell asleep. Never mind, "Take it easy", I felt like I'd taken temazepam.

AC/DC at Reading Festival: I have a vague recollection of Angus spinning on the stage like a catherine wheel, but apart from that nothing. Absolutely zilch and I was watching from the side of the stage.

Country Joe at Bulmershe College, Reading. This guy may have been a smash at Woodstock, but he counted for nothing in the Thames Valley. In my book, he was up there as one of the most miserable hippies I've had the misfortune to meet.

Van Morrison: Another happy bunny, this one with an attitude the size of Canada. Such a pity I had to suffer three miserable live gigs before learning my lesson: the lesson being that I could enjoy the man's music without having to share a venue with him.

Stevie Winwood at UEA: oh dear, rarely have I been so disappointed. The gig may well have been a technical master class, but mainly it was just plain dull.

Frank Zappa at Wembley Arena: what was I doing there? Who did I go with? What was I thinking? The highlight of the evening was leaving.

Bryan Ferry at Ipswich Regent: got a lot of time for early Roxy Music and I like some of Mr Ferry's Dylan interpretations, but in a rock'n world he conveys all the danger of a wet sock. And he's not an easy person to watch, not when every move suggests a complete lack of rhythm.

John McClaughlin, Billy Cobham, Chic Corea and Weather Report at Hammersmith Odeon: do I need to say more? If you like this stuff (and sometimes I do), my advice would be - listen to it at home.

The Bootleg Beatles: tribute acts - a crime against humanity. Ten minutes in and I wanted to shoot myself, the band and the audience.

Is there a gig you wished you'd missed?

Location:Manor Gardens,Great Yarmouth,United Kingdom

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Bill's Hideaway

Thinking back, I don't understand why we didn't look there first ......

We're in Reading on Thursday and at two minutes after eight o'clock, Sue and I arrive at Bill's for food and a catch up with friends.

Bill's, for those of you who are not familiar, is a standard chain restaurant where interestingly, they put the emphasis on the decor rather than the food. They are particularly fond of putting stuff round the walls and they like lots of exposed brickwork. I quite like it.

After a perfunctory glance round, we grab a table for six, order drinks and wait.

By 8.20, Sue is bad-mouthing the entire male population, because of their inability to turn up on time.

At 8.25 and under some pressure, I step outside to make that, "Where are you?" phone call.

Looking about as I dial, I notice a guy, inside Bill's, pick up his mobile just as my call engages. It's Geoff and he's looking at me and smiling, because he has realised, that for the best part of half an hour, we have been sitting, some eight feet away, separated by a bit of Bill's wall: and he's with Pete and Chris and they've got drinks and starters and it looks like they are already having a whale of a time.

Finally united at one table, it's all smiles, knowing we've got another precious story in the memory bag.

And here's some restaurant advice: Don't be a dick - always check behind the brick.

Location:Manor Gardens,Great Yarmouth,United Kingdom

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

It's No Wonder Pubs Are Closing

Let's be honest - most pubs are awful. In my experience they're generally loud, dirty and about as welcoming as winter in Warsaw. What's more they serve piss-poor beer at rip off prices. Generally my advice would be - don't bother.

Recently however I have taken a fancy to the Triangle pub in Lowestoft. Many I guess would be put off by the frontier location, the decor and some dodgy looking punters. I'll be honest - it's pretty basic. If fact it's borderline third world. We're talking a front and back room, wooden tables and benches, with room for just two at the bar. Rest assured, absolutely no money has been wasted on fancy decoration, unless you count the collection of beer mats and the display of boots belonging to former drinkers.

Of course I wouldn't be writing this unless there were some positives. A big one is having an owner who actually gives a damn: who brews just down the road and who has mastered the trick of doing one thing really well: namely the production of some fine ales at prices that won't break you.

As a result this place attracts a steady flow of Lowestoft's finest: acid casualties, funny farm escapees, second rate musicians and an array of travellers who have been to places even the Red Cross wouldn't go; even a few burnt out teachers. In fact my kind of people.

So if you're thinking life is too short to drink Fosters, then maybe investigate the Triangle, a place without pretence and high falutin' talk. Instead you get great ales, wonderful ciders, a nice wood burner and you're welcome to enjoy your Chinese/Indian takeaway while having a beer. Why, a regular, last week, was having cheese and crackers with his pint of Ripper.

Rest assured, this is a place where you can drink and hold forth to the peak of your fabulousness.

Location:Manor Gardens,Great Yarmouth,United Kingdom

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Just Plain Weird

This story, courtesy of James Heckels won't detain you long.

Regular readers may recall, that whilst in the USA, we visited Austin and that's where Sue took the opportunity to buy her eldest son a, "Keep Austin Weird' T shirt.

...... now it's ten months later and James is standing in a lengthy queue, buying supplies for the Wherry Hotel, where he works: and being dress down Friday, he is wearing his XL, dark blue, "Keep Austin Weird" T shirt.

Next and without warning, James is loudly heckled by a member of staff: one of those, shiny, happy breed who say exactly what's on their mind, regardless of the fallout.

" Why are you wearing a T-shirt that says,"Keep Autism Weird? That's disrespectful."

As you can imagine, this garners everybody's attention. Suddenly standing in the queue, at a Lowestoft Cash and Carry, has got interesting.

With considerable presence of mind, James spins round to reveal the ,"Texas Rocks" logo on the back of his shirt, before carefully explaining, to an attentive crowd that Austin and (not Autism) is a city in the great state of Texas: a place where they like to do things different.

Not unlike Lowestoft then!

Friday, 21 March 2014

For A Friend

I can't believe Rob Rose is dead. Let me tell you a little bit about him ...

Back in the late seventies and living in Reading, my good friend Geoff and I managed a band called the Romantix. The singer was a quiet, sweet-natured guy called Rob Rose and for a while we spent a lot of time together. We weren't natural buddies, but we did share a love of music. The fact was, we were both lonely and struggling: struggling with girls, with work and with life. I really don't know who was in the worse state. Of course, being blokes, none of this was discussed.

I remember that for the best part of a year, round at his flat, he would make a  Sunday roast, while I played soul classics. And this is how I grew to love cabbage and he grew to love Motown.

Soon after, I moved to Norfolk and we lost touch. It was something of a very big surprise then, when Geoff told me (25 years later) that Rob was living with Alison Rolls. Now half of Reading fancied Alison, and it was my old friend, who could never talk to girls, who was living with her. Well good for him.

Fortunately, through Facebook, we made contact and were able to exchange a few photos and stories. I like to think there was a quiet appreciation of how we'd helped one another at a difficult time.

Rob continued with his music career and my plan was to turn up one evening at the Eldon Arms when he was playing. And now that's not gonna happen.