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Andy Long Bass Player

Four/Five/Six Strings & The Truth

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Focus live in Cardiff

I first heard ‘Hocus Pocus’ by Focus in the mid 70’s. My dad had bought the ‘Moving Waves’ album, unusual for him as he was a rock and roll fan but I think he enjoyed Jan Akkerman’s guitar. I played the album to death. I’ve always loved the band but never been to see them live.

last night (19 October 2017) I ticked that box in Cardiff as band founder Thijs Van Leer, classic line up drummer Pierre Van Der Linden, together with guitarist Menno Gootjes and the most recent member bass player Udo Pannekeet brought an outstanding set to the Globe.

They did not disappoint. The musicianship in this line up is absolutely jaw-dropping. An incredible set of blistering jazz/prog/rock. Fantastic soloing and unstoppable energy. Most of the band’s material is instrumental and I don’t always remember the titles, but included in the set were ‘Sylvia’, ‘Harem Scarem’, ‘Round Goes The Gossip’, ‘House Of The King’ and a few new tunes.

Favourite for me was the epic 23 minute (or more) ‘Eruption’ and of course an elongated and frenetic ‘Hocus Pocus’.

A few pics here, they are not great as I was not close to the stage, but enjoy!

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The Strawbs live in Cardiff

Two amazing sets from the Strawbs at the Globe in Cardiff last night (7th October 2017).  It’s been a few years since I last saw the Strawbs and that was the acoustic set back at Swindon Arts Centre.  Such a prolific band, so many great albums and a wonderful pedigree of musicianship.  The line up these days alongside Dave Cousins features Chas Cronk and Dave Lambert, the wonderful Tony Fernandez on the kit, who I have seen playing with Rick Wakeman on several occasions and a very pleasant surprise for me in the shape of Dave Bainbridge (Iona) on the keyboards.

The set opened with a track from the new album ‘The Ferryman’s Curse’, the track ‘The Nails In The Hands of Christ’ is a strikingly beautiful tale, I bought the album last night and it really is a cracking piece of work.  The set included a couple of other tracks from this album, plus lots of the classic material including ‘New World’, ‘Round And Round’ and ‘A Glimpse Of Heaven. The set closed with the classic ‘Lay Down.

Here’s a few pics

Hawkwind at The Neon, Newport, March 2017

The first band I ever saw live were Hawkwind. It was the Autumn of 1980 and the ‘Levitation’ tour came to the Colston Hall in Bristol. The line up that night was Dave Brock, Harvey Bainbridge, Huw Lloyd-Langton, Tim Blake and (honest guv) Ginger Baker on drums.  I often look back and think I was spoilt by that for a first gig and didn’t really realise how special a band it was, and especially what an icon Baker was.

I’ve been a fan ever since, although not a disciple (of which there are many), I’ve seen them half a dozen times over the years, sometimes great, sometimes not so.  Last night saw the latest line-up playing at the end of my street, so I had to go of course.

With lead vocals being taken now by Mr Dibs the band’s ever changing face sees long standing drummer Richard Chadwick and 74 year old Dave Brock joined by young bassist Haz Wheaton and a keyboard/guitars chap who might have been Niall Hone?

This was a great set that took in a lot of classic material, the band performed really well. Dave is looking well for an old git, and played well to all the other old gits in the crowd (of which I am one).  The light show was everything you would expect from Hawkwind (see pics below) and the band sounded like classic era Hawkwind, with extended jams and all those classic riffs. Mr Dibs was giving it what for on the ring modulators and other expected sound effects.

Haz Wheaton took centre stage and plays bass like a proper rock monster, he is as much a Lemmy style bassist as you could hope for, battering seven shades out of a Rickenbacker and strumming huge power chords for much of the set. Sometimes switching to a Fender for a spot of subtlety, his musicianship impressed me. Kudos to you Haz, you’re up there.

Two disappointments in this show.  Firstly the sound was not great, it’s a problem that this particular venue suffers from, I’ve never seen a show there where they got it right. In this case the vocals were suffering. Volume too low, with all the crispness and clarity of lettuce, it did spoil an otherwise good show. Secondly I had been led to believe (erroneously it seems) that Tim Blake was in this line up. Hone, or whoever it was, did a reasonably good job, but Tim Blake is Tim Blake innit?

They’re playing Bristol in May so I may well go again and see what happens.  I didn’t get the whole set list down but here’s most of what I remember:

Assault And Battery, On The Edge Of Time, Utopia, Time We Left This World Today, Into The Woods, Hassan I Sabbah, Robot, Shot Down In The Night. There were more and I think they may have done ‘You Know You’re Only Dreaming’, or I might have been only dreaming?

The four encores were:

Spirit Of The Age, Brainbox Pollution, (something else here), Silver Machine

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Anderson, Rabin, Wakeman at Cardiff

ARW at Cardiff

I’ve been a Yes fan for longer than I care to remember, (although there are plenty who’ve been at it longer than me). I bought my first two Yes albums second hand off a boy in school who didn’t like them. They were ‘Time And A Word’ and ‘Tomato’. An interesting pair to start with.

I first saw them live in Birmingham NEC on the 90125 tour in the early ’80’s. Lasers, tilting stage. Bugs Bunny Cartoons.  I’ve seen them a lot of times since then in a lot of forms. Last night saw the latest incarnation of Yes/Not Yes playing their debut show in Cardiff, so unsurprisingly I was there.

With Jon, Rick and Trevor were go-to prog bassist Lee Pomeroy and American drummer and Rabin cohort Louis Molino III.  This was a much anticipated set amongst progrock diehards and did not disappoint.  It was great to see and hear Jon singing Yes material again. I’ve enjoyed the recent tours of the current Yes line-up but Jon’s voice is a unique enigma.

Rabin and Wakeman play really well together, despite not having been in Yes together (with the exception of Union). Trevor is an almighty rock guitarist, wailing solos and lightning fast runs are peppered liberally throughout his playing. He’s very different to Steve Howe and if anything I missed Steve’s classical, virtuosic sensibility, Trevor gave the material a very different sound, but it worked well.

Rick Wakeman, resplendently caped, was stunning as always, effortlessly (or so it seemed) flowing through the material, flitting around amongst numerous keyboards and even going for a stroll in the audience with a keytar, whilst Trevor went up the adjoining isle and met him at the back for a barrage of selfies.

Moulino and Pomeroy were a fantastic rhythm section together, I’ve seen Lee play with Rick previously and last night the band paid tribute to Chris Squire and Lee played a beautiful arrangement of ‘The Fish’, recreating that familiar Rickenbacker klank perfectly.

If you’re the kind of person who gets off on set lists I think I’ve got this right:

Cinema, Perpetual Change, Hold On, All Good People, Lift Me Up, And You And I, Rhythm Of Love, Heart Of The Sunrise, Changes, Long Distance Runaround, The Fish, Awaken, Owner Of A Lonely Heart, (enc) Roundabout

Excellent show, hope I get to see the next one, whoever is in it.

John Wetton and Deke Leonard

Sad to see the passing away of two more great names from the rock world this week, bass legend John Wetton and Welsh guitar great Deke Leonard.

John Wetton is one of those names that has always been there for me, so many of the band he played with over the years have been, and always will be, amongst my favourite listens, albums that are on constant replay in my life.

I bought the first Asia album on picture disc vinyl when it was released in 1982 and his work with King Crimson marks my favourite era of the band (although I love all their stuff.

The riff to ‘Great Deceiver’ is still mind blowing.

Deke Leonard, though less known, was nonetheless a long standing key member of Man for most of their career, just a few breaks here and there, and featured on the majority of Man albums.

Whilst Man have not been a band that I’ve listened to a lot over the years, thy are undoubtedly iconic here in Wales and I really enjoy the few albums that I do own, notably ‘Rhinos, Winos And Lunatics’ and ‘Slow Motion.

 

 

Three Prog Rock Tracks For Hallowe’en

Here’s a few of my favourite creepy songs for your weekend playlist. Enjoy!

  1. Van Der Graaf Generator ‘Darkness (11/11)

Lyrics

How could you make a list, even such a small list as this, without including Van Der Graaf Generator?  Hard to choose which song to include but this is a pretty scary moment, even for them.

Wicked little Scorpio, doomed to die a thousand times before he lives!

2. Atomic Rooster ‘Death Walks Behind You’

Lyrics

One of my favourite bands for years, probably their best album, with William Blake’s ‘Nebuchadnezzar adorning it’s front cover. A moment of genius from Vincent Crane.

3. Genesis ‘The Musical Box

 

Lyrics

Peter Gabriel in one of his more disturbing moments tells the story in which Cynthia knocks off Henry’s head with a croquet mallet, from there on it it gets more twisted and bizarre until both are killed by the nanny.

Feel free to add your own recommendations to the list

 

Could be looking for a gig…

We’re taking a bit of a break from the Tim Crahart Blues Band, which has left me at something of a loose end, bass-wise for the moment.

Hence I am looking for some musical opportunities in or around the Newport area. I quite fancy doing something a bit prog rock as that’s my passion, musically. But in the past I’ve played a lot of blues, rock ‘n’ roll. jazz, rock etc so could be up for anything.

Laying my cards out on the table at the outset – I’ve got quite a responsible day job which takes a lot of my time, so I don’t want a band that plays five nights a week. Just something occassional would be nice. I am not now and never have been looking to conquer the world in any musical capacity. 

So if you are about to embark on a world tour or just signed a ten album deal, probably best not to get in touch with me.

on the other hand if you play a couple of times a month and have the kind of laid back attitude that only comes with great age and you could do with a half-competent bass player, maybe give me a shout via the contacts page.

redfront

 

Roye Albrighton and Nektar

I was very sad to hear that Roye Albrighton, lead guitarist and vocalist of the classic band Nektar has passed away at the age of 67.  Nektar are a band that have been a big part of my musical journey ever since my mate Chris introduced me to them over thirty years ago.  They made some fantastically pompous prog-rock albums and were often labelled as Krautrock despite being an English/Welsh band.  They were always much more popular in Germany and mainland Europe than they were over here.

Roye Albrighton
Roye Albrighton

They broke up around 1980 and I never got to see them, so when they reformed in 2002 I was thrilled to get to see them in London, with a full nostalgic light show, I caught them again live a couple of years later, although the line up had changed a bit by then.

I’ve got most of the stuff they released on CD over the years, below are a few of my all-time favourites. The album art always contained something circular for some reason.

 

2016 and losses to music

Like a lot of people I have been saddened and shocked at the number of great musicians that have passed away in the early months of 2016. So this is just a short picture tribute to help us remember the lights that have dimmed. I’ll update this as time goes on but let’s hope I don’t have to add too many more.

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