Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Live in 2018: Logicaltramp at Acapela Studios, Pentyrch, Cardiff on Saturday 13th October 2018


There is a lot of snobbery surrounding 'Tribute' Bands. I'll set my stall out straight away and state that I have no problem whatsoever with Tribute Bands. In many cases, these bands provide the only outlet of hearing great songs live once again in a 'Live' context. 
I've seen several tribute bands over the years. Some good, some bad. But when they do it well, a Tribute Band can give a great night of entertainment.
I've never seen a tribute band for Supertramp before so I have no benchmark for comparison. However, I doubt I'm going to see a better Supertramp Tribute Band than Logicaltramp.

They needed some serious instrumentation to bring those classic songs to life and they did so with plenty of elan and style.
Consisting of

Gary Hopkins - Lead Vocals (Rick Davies Songs) - Keyboards & 12 String Guitar
Tamas Csemez - Lead Vocals (Roger Hodgson Songs)
Anthony Clayton - Guitar
Serge Sainte-Rose - Piano/Keyboards
Laurent Hunziker - Saxophones/Harmonica/Backing Vocals
Alex Kundig - Bass/Backing Vocals
Grant Wildy - Drums

the band delivered an evening of top quality performances which did justice to the original recordings.

Concentrating on the classic albums Crime Of The Century & Breakfast In America, the band gave us two hours of classic Supertramp - with additional tracks from most of the Supertramp catalogue of albums.


The one major mistake, as far as I'm concerned, that Tribute Bands often make is that they try to imitate the vocal performances. I'm glad to say that tonight both Gary & Tamas do not try and imitate Rick & Roger but sung in their own distinctive voices and left the instrumentation to carry the vibe of the original recordings. 


From that first eerie string note and the harmonica solo of Take The Long Way Home we were off and running. I cannot compliment the band enough on the arrangements of the songs for the whole of the evening as they played hit after hit to such as consummate standard.

 

Ain't Nobody But Me came up next and showed we weren't just in for a Greatest Hits Show, the band were going to throw in some album tracks and lesser known songs. And they did it with seamless authority.
The crowd pleasing Breakfast In America got the crowd singing and I must say I was SO pleased that the Acapela audience turned out for these guys with an almost full house.


Bloody Well Right is always a crowd pleaser and back in 1974/75 could be heard blasting out of more than one bedroom window as a sign of teenage disobedience. Tonight it was just another excuse for a great singalong. It really brought it home tonight with so many of its tracks getting an airing what a great album Crime actually is - All Killer, No Filler as the saying goes.


I had a shiver of excitement as I saw Gary Hopkins unbox his 12 string acoustic. I knew immediately of two songs which this would lead into. But......



Now, if I have one bone to pick with the Band tonight it was the next section. They played Easy Does It - the opening track from Crisis, What Crisis? but unlike the album and subsequent live shows they did not follow it with Sister Moonshine - which happens to be MY favourite Supertamp song. But I hid my disappointment and whistled along anyway. And they followed this with another Crisis crowd pleaser, Lady.

Another lesser known track came next with Rick's song, Waiting So Long from Famous Last Words. And to balance the set up - the next track was also from the same album but was a little bit better known as they played a terrific version of the huge hit, It's Raining Again.




As is so gratefully accepted in Acapela performances, the Band have split the show into two halves and Part One is joyfully brought to a close with a blistering version of Goodbye Stranger. A special mention here for Anthony Clayton who provides several excellent electric guitar solos over the evening including a classic solo in Goodbye Stranger which he hits note for note while inserting some lovely flourishes of his own.


Well, we thought Part One was good - Part Two was even better when that harmonica solo begins and School emanates through the Acapela sound system. With another cracking guitar solo from Anthony Clayton the band are soon back into their stride.


Another track for the true fans came next with the song - You Started Laughing which was on the live album, Paris. Crime Of The Century once again provides the next track as the gorgeous Hide In Your Shell shows just how good a vocalist Tamas actually is. 


And not to be outdone - Gary Hopkins puts in a stellar vocal performance for the following track, Just Another Nervous Wreck from Breakfast In America in which all of the band get a chance to really rock out and brought all of the Acapela audience straight to their feet.


It was another singalong moment next as the band performed Dreamer and raised the roof on Acapela.

Just as I thought Even In The Quietest Moments deserved a mention - Gary Hopkins took to the mic and launched into an excellent version of From Now On. He then stayed at the mic to follow this with another killer album track - Rudy from Crime.



The 12 string was unboxed yet again for that other 12 string Supertamp hit from the Quietest Moments album - Give A Little Bit. Once again with 100% audience participation. 

It was another 'shiver down the spine' moment next as that lovely piano phrase opens the epic track Fools Overture - the killer closing track of Even In The Quietest Moments. At over 11 minutes long, I didn't think they'd include it in the set - but by Jove, they did and it was absolutely brilliant as they included all of the sound effects included in the track. What a way to end a show and gave the band a well deserved standing ovation. 


There was no way that the Acapela audience were letting these guys go without an encore and sure enough they came back with other huge Supertamp hit - The Logical Song. That would have been enough but they stayed on for one more track - and what a track to end with, the title track from Crime Of The Century which they played beautifully, leading to another well deserved standing ovation.


So the end to a fabulous night of music. So many smiling faces as the Acapela Audience got a chance to sing along with these fantastic songs. And so may great ones they could have played from that fabulous Supertramp back catalogue of music. 
With Supertramp no longer around and Roger Hodgson playing only the larger venues - it's up to the passionate tribute bands such as Logicaltramp to keep these songs alive in a live context. And I have to say they did a superb job and I'd go and see them again tomorrow if I could. If they come near you, and you like the Supertramp catalogue then go and see them. You'll be surprised.





Twitter - @logicaltramp











Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Live in 2018: Beatrix Players at Acapela Studios, Pentyrch, Cardiff on Sunday 16th September 2018


In 2017 - Beatrix Players took the Prog Magazine Limelight Award - the award for the best up and coming band or artist in the Prog sphere. Tonight, they showed the Acapela audience exactly why they were worthy recipients of that esteemed Award.

Beatrix Players are - Amy Birks on Lead Vocals, Amanda Alvarez on Cello and Jess Kennedy on Piano & Backing Vocals. Accompanying them on Violin tonight was Maria Kroon.

At present, Beatrix Players have released one album, called Magnified and released several singles from said album. The majority of the album was played live tonight. And there were a couple of new songs put in the set. Even a cover song. Of which later.

rushlight

It's quite hard to categorise the music of Beatrix Players. If you check on their website - link at the bottom of the page - you'll see they describe it as an adventurous mix of Folk, Prog, Singer/Songwriter Acoustica, and Quasi-Classical Baroque Chamber Pop. Quite a potent mix, I think you'll agree.



Never Again





Showing very little sign of nerves but an engaging vulnerability, Amy Birks leads the ladies through a set of two halves. Anyone who has Magnified and enjoyed it would have appreciated that the majority of the album got an airing tonight. And it sounds even lovelier live than on record.
Obviously, with a limitation of instrumentation, the live sound is a perfect fit in Acapela where acoustic instruments sound particularly impressive. And Maria's violin added another colour to the sepia beauty of the arrangements. 


Lady Of The Lake

During the show, Amy commented that they had been playing in pubs up to a couple of years ago and it was nice to have an audience who were actually there to listen. And listen they did. You could hear a pin drop as the Ladies performed, broken only by the rapturous applause when they finished. The Acapela really is the place to go if you want to 'hear' the music. The sound quality is always excellent and it's not often that you can get Artists and Audience commenting on how good the sound was during the performance.



Molehill

To say the evening flew by is and understatement. Part One was over before you knew it. But not before the ladies presented us with a couple of surprises. A cover (the only one they play live, and one they released digitally with All That Thinking, the cover of the Nine Inch Nails song Hurt - more recently made famous by Johnny Cash.) This was followed by the last song of the half, a new song called Elsa.


It's always a pleasure to see the artists doing brisk business at the Merch Table - sign of a good gig - and the Beatrixes chose the half time interval to ply their wares to great effect.


I've tried to include several videos of the songs played in this show to give you a taste of the evening. In fact, the Beatrixes like Acapela so much that have returned there to record a video for a forthcoming new song.


Part Two included more songs from Magnified. One of my friends who attended the show commented on how much he enjoyed Amy's explanation of the lyrics and how they had enlightened him and made the songs more enjoyable. He wasn't wrong.

The ladies even managed to include another trio of new songs in the second half. First up was Road To Gordes, which was received rather well in with the more well known album tracks. Highlights of the evening for me were the really gorgeous versions of Lady Of The Lake and Molehill. I'm sure I saw a grown man wiping a tear from his eye at one point.

Road To Gordes

Part Two went as quickly as Part One and very soon it was that the trio of new songs, Road To Gordes, Ships In The Night and Catherine ( a Henry VIII song - we were told to expect a few on the new record - I hope Sir Richard Of Wakeman gets a call from the girls, as he has form where this is concerned and would be a lovely cameo) that lead us to the end of the show.



But we weren't going to let the Ladies off the hook without an encore and sure enough they returned to give us a spine tingling version of Roses to finish off a rather special evening of music. What was also pleasing was that the ladies all took a turn in the limelight, although it is obvious that Amy as vocalist will always get the spotlight, the backing vocals and Piano work by Jesse was such a pleasure throughout. Amanda & Maria provided the colour throughout the evening adding glorious flourishes and drama as they intertwined through the vocals and piano. Oh and a special mention for Amy's special little device which provides a thunder-like drum sound for added dramatic effect.

Roses



It was great to see the ladies go from strength to strength as they build up their growing portfolio of live performances, post Prog Awards. Word is starting to get out and I'm sure they'll be playing to huge audiences of their own. But Ladies, remember you promised to come back to Acapela and I'll hold you to that promise.








Twitter - @BeatrixPlayers



Sunday, 9 September 2018

Favourite Albums Of 2018: Kamasi Washington - Heaven & Earth ( & The Choice)


How the Hell do you follow an album you've named The Epic? Well, you come up with another Epic album - simple really.
Spread over two cds, or if, like me, you've also chosen the Vinyl option, 4 glorious lps - in fact, if you open the perforated section in the middle of the gatefold sleeve, you'll find an additional 'Secretly Hidden' album called The Choice. Clever, huh? And it's a disc you'll not find on the cd version of the album. Vinyl only - oh and download obviously!!







Between this new album and the release of The Epic in 2015, Mr Washington also released an EP/Album called Harmony Of Difference in 2017 - so he hasn't been resting on his laurels.



Looking for a term of reference for my Jazz listening, I have always enjoyed the output of the ECM Label. Where sound quality is king and much of the output has a glacial, cerebral purity and approach. But Mr Washington has a much more passionate and organic approach. If he thinks the track needs the kitchen sink, then in goes the sink! It's a much grander tapestry of sound and is as big as the man himself. When you go back and listen to The Epic, as an example, you realise that he  really couldn't have called it anything else for his first major label release.

Now, anyone who looks to produce music on a grand/epic scale will immediately get my attention. That's just the way I roll. But Mr Washington needs this space to display his true musical vision.


Trying to pick out individual tracks on such an expansive album will be totally missing the point. Mr Washington has always said his music really should be listened to as a whole and to get the true feeling of what he is trying to reveal then he probably has a point. It'll take a couple of tracks to get into the zone and into his groove but once you're there the beauty of the Music really starts to reveal itself. If you don't like or appreciate Jazz then this album won't change your mind and there are many more accessible albums you should try before you get stuck into a piece like this.

With most of the 8 tracks of Heaven clocking in at an average of 8 minutes in length, there is plenty of opportunity to immerse yourself into the world of Kamasi Washington and this large band of musicians, singers and choirs.

And the Earth side is even bigger with several tracks hitting the 10 minute mark plus.



The Album is presented as two separate listening experiences - one Heaven, the other Earth. Mr Washington explains it thus, 

“The Earth side of this album represents the world as I see it outwardly, the world that I am a part of, The Heaven side of this album represents the world as I see it inwardly, the world that is a part of me. Who I am and the choices I make lie somewhere in between.” 


I would never ever claim to be a Jazz aficionado but I know what I like. And I like this. Full of huge ideas, huge sweeping themes, big, big sounds and fine musicianship. You can see why innovative artists such Kendrick Lamar are seeking him out to work with him. He brings a gravitas and sonic landscape that attracts the more intelligent artists out there searching for something different. It takes thought to go and visit Mr Washington's musical home but you'll be so rewarded when you do.



Twitter - @KamasiW



Saturday, 8 September 2018

Favourite Albums of 2018: Curtis Harding - Face Your Fear


OK - I KNOW this Album was released in late 2017 - but seeing as I didn't have the Blog up and running for the Best Of 2017 I thought i'd include a few that would have gone into that list.

Anyone who knows me will have realised by now I like  bit of Soul. Not your processed pop R&B that has mutilated the charts for the last 10+ years. No, I like my Soul Old School. Taking it's inspiration from it's 60s & 70s heydays when it was as innovative as any Prog Band of the time.



There are a few really good artists but I think Curtis Harding has the chops and attitude that raises him above the rest. 

Soul Power - Curtis' first solo album was released to critical acclaim in 2014.



Face Your Fear is a Soul Powerhouse of an album. As many of the classic Soul albums of old, it covers several styles over its two sides. It kicks of with the smouldering Wednesday Morning Atonement - which highlights Curtis' soaring falsetto. Non compromising, an arrow straight to your soul.


The title track Face Your Fear is slow and slinky - with that choppy Soul guitar and sympathetic strings.



After lulling you into a false sense of security with the first two tracks of reflective beauty Curtis picks up the pace for track 3 with the upbeat On and On with it's girlie backing vocals and insistent Soul beat. 'I gotta get into this Groove' indeed.

Go As You Are takes Curtis in a different direction yet again. It has a spacey, psychedelic vibe with Curtis providing an almost confessional vocal over the echoes and Wah Wahs.

Til The End could almost be the theme song for a 70s Blaxploitation movie. Marvellous stuff.




Next up is probably the most commercial track on the album, Need Your Love, a gorgeous slice of Soul loveliness that gets your foot tapping from the off and doesn't let up for a second. It really is so simple and so fabulously effective. 3 minutes of total class.



Dream Girl is another spacey, slinky song with Curtis giving it his full falsetto croon.

Welcome To MY World changes the sound yet again with it's acoustic backing and 60s keyboard textures providing the backdrop to Curtis' fabulous voice.



Ghost Of You is very much in the same vein as the previous track but includes layers of backing vocals and more string touches.

Need My Baby sounds as if it has been directly lifted from one of those classic 70s Soul albums I mentioned earlier.



The closer As I Am could have come right from the Best Of Marvin Gaye Songbook. Yes, it's that good. A slow burner of a track with brass and string touches throughout. A classy ending to one classy album.



Curtis has released a new song in 2018 - It's Not Over - check it out.



If you have a spare 72 minutes to spend and you've enjoyed what you've heard so far - check out this show. It's an excellent concert and shows just how good Curtis Harding is. He's one artist I have yet to see live. I hope to sort this out in the future.


Twitter - @Curtis_Harding



Friday, 7 September 2018

Favourite Albums of 2018: Ray LaMontagne - Part Of The Light


Part Of The Light is Ray LaMontagne's seventh album in 13 years. And a beautiful thing it is too. If there is any thread to my Favourite Albums of 2018 it's that they all contain some really beautiful music.
I've loved Ray's music ever since I first heard the title song and first single from the album Trouble.


It was produced by the now famed producer and multi-instrumentalist Ethan Johns - as were his next two Albums, Till The Sun Turns Black (2006), which remains one of my favourite all time albums & Gossip In The Grain (2008)

Be Here Now - from Till The Sun Turns Black


2010's God Willin' & The Creek Don't Rise won the Grammy for a Best Contemporary Folk Album and was the first to be produced by Ray alone.

In 2014 Ray released his next Album, Supernova which took a turn to a more 60s electronica  psychedelic approach with heavy influence from Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys in the producer's chair.




Jim James of the band My Morning Jacket took the helm of Ray's next albums, 2016's Ouroros. Another departure in sound and approach with several songs being over 6 minutes long. It was even more experimental than the previous album and took Ray into a more Progressive arena.


Always astride the bridge between Folk and Americana, Part Of The Light sees Ray back to the more stripped back folky tones of his debut. The opening track To The Sea is an absolute killer, full of acoustic optimism and sunshine.




The musicianship and sound of the record are up to the usual excellent standard showcasing Ray's sometimes breathy multilayered vocals.

Part Of The Light, It's Always Been You and Let's Make It Last shimmer with a lovely swaying intensity. I haven't heard Ray being this lovely since his second album Till The Sun Turns Black. It's Always Been You holds a special place for me as a song that brought me some light in a very dark time.


But Ray still has that desire within him to break free of his acoustic shackles and As Black As Blood Is Blue sees Ray once again strap on the electric and revisit some of the sounds of his previous two albums on a growler rocker, well, as rocky as Ray gets anyway. But it still has some lovely harmonic touches.



Such A Simple Thing is a mainly acoustic track before the bluesy workout of No Answer Arrives. Another intense track of multi layered vocals, electric guitars and flashes of electronica.

And trust Ray to leave the best until last with the Epic track Goodbye Blue Sky. 7 minutes of classic Americana in the style of The Band. Wonderful stuff indeed.


This album probably flew under the radar for most people in 2018 - but I urge you to seek it out. It finds an artist continuing to grow and reaching to be the best he can be. On the whole, he achieves it.



Twitter - @RayLaMontagne











Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Favourite Albums of 2018: Bennett Wilson Poole - Bennett Wilson Poole


It's not often that I'm surprised by Music any more. Too much information available now via all of the different online outlets. How Bennett Wilson Poole (BWP) managed to keep this project a secret deserves an award in itself. But, keep it a secret they did and managed to produce THE Americana Album of 2018 - for me anyway.

Let's go through the members

Robin Bennett - is formerly a member of Danny & The Champions, Goldrush and with his brother Joe and drummer Jamie Dawson has produced some glorious albums with The Dreaming Spires including the sublime Searching For The Supertruth which was my Album Of The Year back in 2015.




Danny George Wilson is the leader of his current excellent band Danny & The Champions Of The World. He has also been a member of Grand Drive and produced his own solo albums.




Tony Poole is the UK Rickenbacker supremo and producer who has previously been in the excellent Starry Eyed & Laughing - that's him with the glasses on the right.






Live - the band are augmented by Society's drummer Fin Kenny and Robin Bennett's brother Joe on Guitar, Keys & Vocals


As you might imagine - all of the players bring their considerable skills to the party and boy there are so many joys on this album.

The first track released from the album and track one is the tuneful Soon Enough - in the video there is definitely a nod to The Travelling Wilburys and you'll also find that in the sound too.


Tony Poole's Rickenbacker is certainly to the fore in this first track and appears throughout the album to bring a distinctly Byrdsian flavour to the mix. Indeed, the boys never shy away from showing their influences on the project including The Byrds, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Buffalo Springfield, The Travelling Wilburys and Tom Petty.




BWP The Album comes across as three guys who had a drink one evening and thought, do you know what, I bet we could produce a great album together. And they certainly have.

It's great fun playing spot the influences and it encourages you to go back and search out the previous recordings by the individual members. Too many great tracks to mention individually although a special mention must go the the opening Soon Enough and the Epic closing track Lifeboat (Take a Picture of Yourself)


I haven't heard another album so far this year with as much Joie De Vivre as BWP. You can tell in the grooves that the boys have had a blast laying down these tracks. The playing is first class, the songwriting is first class. All of the guys get to sing lead vocals at some point and the harmonies take you straight back to CSN.



There is a good balance to the more reflective acoustic ballads and to the more upbeat tunes. Lots of glorious retro touches such as organ lines and sounds too. Plenty of lines to reel you in and hooks galore to have you singing after a couple of plays.

Although the references may be somewhat nostalgic, it is very much an album of today. An album of quality and distinction. Every song is worthy and played with class. I've got it on Vinyl and it sounds gorgeous. Warm and welcoming. Just get out there and buy it and be thankful that album number 2 is being planned.



Twitter

Bennett Wilson Poole - @benwilpoole

The Dreaming Spires - @dreaming_spires

Danny Wilson - @Dannythechamp

Tony Poole - @Thought_Talk






Thursday, 14 September 2017

Live in 2016: Austin Lucas & The Dreaming Spires at Acapela Studios, Pentyrch on Sunday 16th October 2016



A TOUGH DECISION HERE. I'VE JUST FOUND THIS POST THAT WAS DESTROYED BY SOMEONE THE FIRST 10 MINUTES I POSTED IT LAST YEAR. WHICH IS WHAT LED ME TO STOP BLOGGING FOR SOME TIME SINCE. UNFORTUNATELY THEY WIPED OUT ALL OF MY TEXT FOR THE EVENING'S PERFORMANCE. THAT WAS A CHANGE AS THEY NORMALLY REMOVED VIDEO OR PHOTOS. THAT MEANS I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT WAS PLAYED. BUT I'VE DECIDED THAT SOME OF THE PHOTOS AND PERFORMANCES WERE WORTHY ENOUGH TO BE SEEN.


IT WAS THE FIRST TIME AT ACAPELA FOR BOTH AUSTIN LUCAS AND THE DREAMING SPIRES. THE SPIRES FORMED AUSTIN'S BACKING BAND FOR THE EVENING. BUT BEFORE THAT, THEY PLAYED THEIR OWN SET.

THE GUYS WERE ON GREAT FROM AND THEY DESERVED A BIGGER AUDIENCE THAT NIGHT. BUT THEY GAVE IT THEIR ALL AND AS OTHER GIGS AROUND THE COUNTRY PROVED, THEY WERE WELL RECEIVED.

SO I WILL LEAVE THIS JUST AS IT WAS BEFORE THE WORDS WERE REMOVED. I HOPE YOU LIKE IT FOR WHAT IT IS.

Everything All The Time








The House On Elsinore



Dusty In Memphis



Searching For The Supertruth




unbroken hearts




Kristie Rae



wrong side of the dream


call the doctor









Alone In Memphis




Twitter - @AustinLucasIND

@dreaming_spires