Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Bruges knocked it outta the park, man. See more pictures over at my Flickr page's Bruges set, but...

Here's me drinking some beer.

Kwak and Skulls

Here's a jurk store.

Jurk Store!

And here's some nice scenery.

Bridge near van Eyk square

Have a great Christmas everyone and a fabulous 2009!

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

See, that’s love...

Regular readers will remember my story a couple of weeks ago about my mother-in-law's feelings about my tattoos. (Find the post here.)

And yet, last week the wife and I received a parcel from Italy. In it were a pandoro, a panettone, a Christmas present for each of us (including Cat), a Settimana Enigmistica for Red, a copy of the latest Dylan Dog for me, and ... a tattoo magazine. She may not dig or understand tattoos, but still she went to the newsagent and got me a tattoo mag. I thought that was very sweet of her.

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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Whoops, there goes another ear / Whoops, there goes another chandelier *

* with apologies to Billy Bragg for this twist on his lyric

So, next on Gallows' East End Invasion mini-tour was the Old Blue Last, upstairs, in what is apparently a 100-capacity venue.

Getting there by car, as for the night before, was not too taxing, despite the traffic diversions because of gas works in the area. Parking in London is always fun, trying desperately to decipher the double-Dutch signs to ensure you don't get a ticket. We were all cool, though, thankfully. And then for some pre-gig sustenance we decided on Pizza Express, just opposite the venue.

Something quick, we thought. How wrong we were. Indeed, so slow was the delivery of our food that we ended up getting the starter on the house. Which makes me wonder if this was the reason the gig had been delayed from its 9pm start time to 9:30, since while we were waiting for our food, Mr Frank Carter left the restaurant with some friends (and no, we didn't know he was there when we went in, for all you haters saying I've got a man-crush). Maybe his grub had been delayed too, and now he was late! But the little blonde girl who served us, on only her second day in the job, was very sweet, and it certainly was no fault of hers.

According to ViewLondon, "live music is where [the Old Blue Last] can't be beaten, and if you see a favourite artist perform here you won’t be disappointed". I was geared up for quite a night.

We said hello to some of the usual faces, most of those name-checked in yesterday's post, plus Sophie this time (and James later), and as they all once again grabbed their spots at the front of the stage, I secured myself a former cinema seat at the edge of the room and readied myself for standing on it for a decent view of the proceedings.

Within seconds of the first song, "Come Friendly Bombs", starting up, Frank is swinging from a chandelier at the opposite end of the room. I have no fucking idea how he got there, but by the end of the song a second chandelier has been trashed by one of the audience. Back on the stage by the end of the song, the frontman announces that the remaining one is his.

"Gold Dust" comes next, and I think this is when the first scuffle of the night breaks out. All of a sudden one guy is pummelling another in the face. He gets about three hits in before someone separates them, and by the time Franks asks what's going on, the two are making up.

Not so sweet is the resolution of the second bit of fisticuffs, midway through "London Is the Reason". Suddenly someone at the front of the stage is getting smacked in the head by Frank before the fight spills on to the floor. Several people spring into action to break things up, and Carter is holding on to the dude, saying "Come down here, I wanna talk to you and you're too fuckin' tall." He has a private word, and the bloke is evicted. It seems he'd been having a grope of the singer, something more intimate, shall we say, than one should reasonably expect. The song picks up pretty much where it left off.

I think about now comes the new song about the trials and tribulations of being in a band, "when all you want to do is be at home, drinking tea and playing XBox". I can't fully relate, not being a rock 'n' roll star, nor particularly liking tea or having an XBox. Bill Gates ain't getting my fucking money. PS3 ftw! You'd get the impression that Frank hates being in a band, but I don't really think that's true. We all moan about our jobs, I guess. I do. And yet this is the best, most cushy job I've ever had. Certainly beats being verbally abused on an almost-daily basis and having people threatening to shoot me, as in my last job, back in 1993/4. Surely being in a band can't be too bad? Indeed, last night at the Macbeth, he had said, "You gotta take the good with the bad."

For me, the band is playing better tonight than the previous night, though discussions later with some of the crowd reveal a mix of opinion in that regard. Either way, the set is different, which is great and a special treat for those who attended both nights. We get no "Black Heart Queen", despite the attendance of brother Richard Blackhole Carter, who occasionally guests on this track live. (A bit of banter between the brothers -- about facial tattoos [Frank's] and almost-fainting tattooees [Richard] -- provided a bit of light relief.) Instead, though, we get the ever-wonderful "Rolling With the Punches". To be honest, that's a trade-off I can live with.

More new songs and old intertwine seamlessly, Frank taking the opportunity to go to the bar during the instrumental track, and the show ends, as is traditional, with "Orchestra of Wolves" and general mayhem. I'm sweating enough without being in the pit. How Lags can sport a full beard and Stu can wear a hooded top without being uncomfortable is beyond me!

Oh, did I mention that the third and final chandelier got trashed? Well, it did. I guess the Old Blue Last got an extreme makeover.

Setlist included, roughly in this order:
Come Friendly Bombs
Gold Dust
London Is the Reason
I Dread the Night
Kill the Rhythm
Abandon Ship
Rolling With the Punches
In the Belly of a Shark
Orchestra of Wolves
plus some other new songs, including the instrumental.

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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

“Is that all you’ve got?”

Could those words be Gallows' equivalent of the famous Sex Pistols question: "Ever get the feelin' you've been cheated?" But hopefully this doesn't signal the end of the group that has so re-energized my interest in gig-going.

Frank Carter sounds pissed off and he spits out the words. He forcefully throws down his mic, the thud of it hitting the stage booming through the sound system, and he leaps on to the floor and into the circle pit that he is so disappointed by. He had asked for the biggest circle pit possible, but clearly this was too small or too tame. He was gonna mix it up a bit.

We are just over halfway through Gallows' set at the Macbeth pub in London's East End, and this is the first of two special "East End Invasion" pre-Christmas gigs sponsored by Atticus clothing. Apparently the gigs are also something of a warm-up before the recording of the vocals begins next Monday for the new album. This task has been put on hold after Frank fucked up his throat and was told to rest it a few weeks back.

After buying a limited-edition print and a T-shirt at the venue, Red and I chat with some familiar faces, such as Paul, Dim, Steve, Donna, Weene, Linda, Mark, Geoff, Robbie, and Jak (and meet a couple of new ones, Pat and, later, Dan). We all have our excited faces on. This pair of gigs are the first Gallows shows since August, and both sold out within 10 minutes. As the kick-off time of 9pm draws closer, those brave enough (or should that be young enough?) head towards the front of the crowded venue (capacity about 150-170).

The band take their positions, and it quickly becomes clear that our vantage point is a bit shite. [That said, it's no worse than the "gig of the year 1995" of PJ Harvey and Tricky. Both are total dwarfs, and I could barely see a thing that night.] Nevertheless, I'm here for the music, and while it's great to see the band too, sometimes that just ain't possible.

They kick off with the recent, download-only 60-second-long "Gold Dust", to which most in the crowd seem to know all the words. This is a great high-octane start to the evening. (Grab your copy of this track for free over at Gallows' MySpace.) And with very little ado, they then head straight into the classic "Abandon Ship".

This early on, it's clear that at the very least we are gonna get reasonable views of Frank, even if we can't see much of the rest of the band -- hence my pictures being pretty much of Frank only. During the course of "Abandon Ship", he makes his way, via the bar and some vertical ceiling supports, to the mixing-desk area right beside my head.

The awesome "Kill the Rhythm" follows, then we get two more new songs -- "London Is the Reason" and "I Dread the Night" -- in a 15-song set that actually boasts more new songs than old.

Frank advises us that he wants to see carnage. He wants us to "be able to tell your bastard offspring that you stage-dived from the bar of the Macbeth. I'll be checking Facebook tomorrow to see how many say they did," he says, before adding, "Well, Lags will. I don't have a Facebook account." Apparently they shut his down, though one is left to guess quite why.

During the course of the evening, while halfway up one of the ceiling props, a few voices start chanting "Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can." Frank tells us that he's "fitter than him. He's old and fat." Personally I always thought Tobey Maguire was in good shape. Clearly, there's no hope for me in the cruel, fattist world of rock 'n' roll!

New and old songs continue well mixed throughout, though it's hard to remember quite how some of the new ones go. I do remember an instrumental, but maybe it had no words cos Frank was busy dry heaving and "puking up acid". I thank the maker for my limited POV. During one of these new tracks, though, the refrain "I know where you live!" makes a frequent appearance.

At some point, bassist Stu Gili-Ross is crowd-surfing, bass in hand. I could swear I hear a thud as the head of the instrument thwacks against one of the room's uprights. I'm sure that did it some good! Lags seems to have learned his lesson at the Underworld in August, where, after a crowd-surf-with-guitar, he admitted it hadn't been a good idea.

I'm glad to hear "Sick of Feeling Sick" and "Black Heart Queen", which are fast becoming two of my favourite Gallows tracks, while "Come Friendly Bombs" and "In the Belly of a Shark" are also always a pleasure.

For the last song, we are told Frank doesn't want to sing. We are to do the honours instead. We know what song it's gonna be: album closer and gig closer "Orchestra of Wolves". We do as we are told, and Frank "treats" us to a microphone masturbation on the top of the bar for the lines leading up to and including "while you're washing my cum off your fuckin' face". The young girl and her boyfriend beside me are singing along with just as much enthusiasm as I am.

There's one question the audience certainly can't put to Gallows tonight: "Is that all you've got?"

Gold Dust
Abandon Ship
Kill the Rhythm
London Is the Reason
I Dread the Night
Come Friendly Bombs
Mama's Kettle
In the Belly of a Shark
Sick of Feeling Sick
Car Chase
Black Heart Queen
Suicide Goals
Orchestra of Wolves.

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