Collateral @ The Black Heart

You know how you are sometimes a little concerned about going to see a new band? Feel a little nervous at a new venue? Well, I have found the answer to that, get out and see as much as you can! I therefore had no such fears about going to see Collateral at The Black Heart, and I was justified in that, being pleasantly surprised and thoroughly enjoying the evening.

How to describe Collateral? Hmm, heavy but with a light touch? Yeah, that will do. Think Foo Fighters & Bon Jovi and you are on the right track. Having said that, this quote from the band in an interview with The Lowdown Magazine, pretty much sums things up: “It’s all about being yourself and not what other people want you to be.” In other words, go see the band and make your own mind up, putting them in categories can be misleading.

The thing I liked best is their combination of aggressive  heavy rock numbers and power balls, which lead vocalist Angelo Tristan swapped between without missing a beat -literally! I had heard Collaterals EP Four Shots a number of times before attending the Black Heart, and I was impressed with how easy it is to get into, no need for multiple plays to catch on to the tunes. Their set was an interesting mix of songs from the EP, brand new material from the forthcoming album along with earlier material. (see setlist for details) It has to be said, the  whole set worked very well, and the band, clearly playing to a number of their friends as well as the likes of yours truly, were obviously enjoying themselves. One thing I particularly noticed was the high proportion of really good songs, with no duffers at all. To be picky, I think Angelo needs a better line of patter, rather than just gushing about how excited they all were, but that will come, and I really am being picky! Collaterals new Single, Midnight Queen, is out now, and, amongst other gigs, they will be supporting top notch rockers, Bad Touch at The Red Lion, Gravesend Friday, April 26. Be there, I will!

A thoroughly enjoyable time was had by all.

Camden has so many great musical venues, and The Black Heart fits in perfectly. Pretty much my kind of venue, down a dark ally, black walls, floor & ceiling, virtually no lighting and packed full of appreciative fans. The only thing I would say against it, as a none smoker, was that vaping is allowed, which rather surprised me. No need for a smoke machine!


Angelo Tristan – Lead Vocals, Guitar 

Todd Winger – Guitar 

Jack Bentley Smith – Bass 

Ben Atkinson – Drums 

Photo: Thanks to Richard Bolwell

Set List:

1- Calm Before The Storm

2- When Faith Breaks

3- You Were the Only One

4- *Going With The Wind

5- Coming Home

6- Move On

7- *Just Waiting For You

8- **Promise Land

9- **Merry Go Round

10- **Lullaby


11- * + **Midnight Queen

*Denotes songs from “4 Shots! EP”

**Denotes songs from forthcoming debut album

Sexy Lady & Wee Fella

Sari Schorr

I went to this gig with a friend who had seen King King some time ago, but he had never heard of Sari Schorr, let alone seen her. I’m delighted to tell you, he was not disappointed. Sari blitzed onto the stage in her trademark high-octane style. There are some who find Sari a bit unsettling. Really, I hear you say? There are some who find her sexuality a bit scary. Really? Well, sexy and aggressive she certainly is, but it definitely doesn’t frighten this reviewer, just the opposite. Is it warm in here?!! Starting with The New Revolution, a powerful song dedicated to Martin Luther King Jnr, the energy level never lets up. Even the slower numbers have an edge and a tension to them.

Assisted by her terrific band (though  missing Bob Fridzema), Sari then flew into Damn The Reason, one of my favourite tracks from her first album, and  the only one in the set not on her latest. She then boldly tackled Bad Company’s Ready for Love. The only thing better than that, would be a duet between Sari and Paul Rogers. Oh gosh, there’s an idea. By now the audience was building up and the bar was empty as a number of people got their first sight and sound of Sari. More high energy for The King of Rock N Roll, an odd title for a song about Robert Johnson and the bitter Thank You (for nothing).

Never say Never is, of course, the title track from Saris’ second album. It was written in the 90s by Ian McLagan, and featured on one of his solo albums. It is a sombre,”never loved anyone but you” type of song, and it has found its perfect interpreter in Schorr, with a performance conveying a deep sense of loss combined with anger and resignation. The set was finished by Maybe I’m Fooling and the thunderous Valentina – a song about the downside of life after the fame has gone and including the unforgettable line ‘we love you but your name we can’t remember’. The reception for Saris’ set was terrific, and I believe she made a lot of new fans tonight. My friend and fellow gig-goer, Darrell, was straight onto his phone to let his wife know they have found a new artist to follow.

Different gig, same effect. Wow

Set List:

The New Revolution

Damn The Reason

Ready For Love

King Of Rock n Roll

Thank You

Never Say Never

Maybe I’m Fooling



The Wee Fella

This is, clearly, not an accurate description of Al Nimmo, but it’s what his big brother Stevie calls him, so let’s not argue! I’ve been following King King since their formation, and have seen them numerous times. I have a fair idea what they might play, so it was a pleasant surprise tonight to hear songs from albums spanning their whole career, many of which they have not performed live before. No pressure!

Along with classics such as Rush Hour, Waking Up, Broken and the always mesmerizing You Stopped the Rain, we were treated to Betrayed Me, Take my Hand and Old Love, all performed with the usual high energy. Nimmo is an irresistible force when in motion and as usual, he was driven along by Proctor, Coulson and Dyke, who once again proved that, whilst Nimmo is very much the Boss, they are also a very effective unit, everyone having a major part to play. This will be co-founder Coulsons’ last tour with the band, as he wants to spend more time with his family, and this is clearly an emotive issue. Losing such an integral part of the band will be hard to deal with. Good luck to the person whom they find to fill the bass playing role.

My favourite songs tonight were in direct contrast with each other. I’ve always loved (Rest Your Eyes) I’m coming Home. It is a beautiful song, with an almost dream-like tune and one of the few songs yours truly actually sings along to! The contrast is the almost tragic Find Your Way Home, a powerful song about relationships going wrong. Al dedicated it to all the Dads and Children in the audience, a song written from direct experience, perhaps? Whatever the facts, this was yet another fine gig and a thoroughly enjoyable set. I am sure this will not be the last time I see King King, but I wonder what the line-up will be like in a year or two.

Set List:


Heart Without a Soul

Rush Hour

Heed The Warning

Coming Home

Betrayed Me

(She Don’t) Gimme No Lovin’

Waking Up

Take a Look


You Stopped The Rain

Find Your Way Home

Take My Hand

Old Love

A little footnote: On all my previous visits to Rock City, the decor has looked as if it hasn’t been painted for decades, and it has been hard to lift ones feet, due to the rather sticky floor. This time, the floors had been cleaned and there was a distinct smell of disinfectant and cleaning fluid. Some might consider this an improvement, some might not. For me, the jury is out!

A splendid time was had by all.

Four Pockets!

Sugaray & Jo!

How do you describe Sugaray Rayford? Virtually impossible, but a good way to start would be to refer to his band, whose previous credits include a Who’s Who of the music industry. Guitarist Alistair Greene was formally with the Alan Parsons Project, as well as fronting his own band; Keys player Drake Shining played with Deep Purple & Al Green; drummer Lavell Jones has worked with Neil Diamond, Seal, Little Milton and Lucky Peterson among others; Sax & trumpet players Aaron Liddard & Giles Straw were both part of Amy Winehouse’ band and bassist Allen Markel has spent many years playing and recording  with artists in Jazz, Latin, Blues Soul etc etc. With a band like that, what could go wrong? Well, nothing.

Sugaray himself, has a wonderful line on outrageous but not vulgar patter. There is much talk about big legged, big booty women, including the phrase “I like a booty so big, the jeans need four pockets on the back”!! You get the picture. All of this is delivered with a smile and a raucous laugh that defies you to be offended. Judging by the squeals of laughter from the heavily female audience, I don’t think offence was taken. And, he sings as well! He is one of those singers who seems to put so little effort into his singing, but the audience reaps the reward. Soulful, bluesy and jazzy, his style encompasses songs as varied as his own “Stuck for a buck”, “Keep her at home”, “Big legs, short skirts”, “Depression blues”, along with a menacing cover of Bill Withers “Who is he and what is he to you?” and that classic William Bell song “Born under a bad sign”. All of this blended so well together, it felt like all the songs were his. To prove Sugarays’  bold statement his band could do “any song I ask them to”, Drake took the lead vocal on a funky version of “Comfortably Numb”, and, yes, it did work. It must be a joy for a sideman to work with someone like Sugaray, as he is generous in affording solos to each member of the band. Above all, everyone on stage looks like they are having a really good time. The audience certainly were.

Ah, but that’s not all. Kicking off the evening was as great a contrast in style as you can imagine. Jo Harman, known for her live album “At Hideaway” and her recent studio album “People we become”, played a very paired down set which contrasted nicely with  the brash almost Big Band sound of Sugaray. Accompanied by just guitar and keyboards, Jo did versions of her own songs “No one left to blame”, “I shall not be moved”, and “When we were young”. In addition, she performed a wonderful version of Goffin & Kings “Will you love me tomorrow?”. The set was all to brief, in my opinion, but it was good to see Jo live at last. Her powerful and versatile voice and confident singing style were a sharp contrast with her shy, almost nervous chatter with the audience, but even that had its own appeal. Jo Harman achieved something rare tonight; she made the notoriously chatty 100 Club audience shut up and just listen to her beautiful voice. This was no little achievement and much appreciated by those of us who just like to listen!

A Splendid night

Another Half Moon

Ben Poole rocks Putney, or It’s out there, you just need to find it!

People ask me how I come across so many new artists for my radio show? Well, the answer is getting out there and finding them. There are plenty of them around, but it needs people to turn out in numbers to keep it going. That said, it was terrific to see so many people out to see Ben Poole at The Half Moon in Putney on December 12,  2018. Ben was at the end of a long tour and looking forward to some time off.* There was no slacking in his performance, though, and the packed house was treated to a wonderful night of rock, blues and soul with a strong English twist.

Although the blues-rock scene in the UK is relatively small (compared with a) how it used to be and b) the general pop scene) this has the advantage of many musicians having multiple roles and bands. Such is the case here, with Ben Pooles’ drummer (and producer) being  Wayne Proctor, of King King fame. It’s great to see a band as tight as this, with all four musicians working together with such a strong understanding. This was particularly true of the spellbinding version of Have you ever loved a woman, which started as a gentle number, with Ben almost in the audience, and accelerated into a rousing hard blues that had us all mesmerised. Pooles voice is hardly more than a whisper at times, but is very effective, as is his superb guitar playing, which rangers from heavy rock to subtle soulful blues with equal ease. Swapping riffs with his keyboard player was a highlight and the addition of keys always makes for a much fuller sound. Speaking of sound, it was particularly clear tonight, loud but sharp. Thank goodness and quality speakers for an end to the ringing in the ears of gigs gone by.

Most of the songs tonight came from Bens’ latest album Anytime You Need Me, a cracking album, packed with joyful, rocking numbers. My own favourite, and one I play a lot on Harborough FM, is Start The Car, though there were terrific renditions of five other songs from the album.

Venues such as Wembley Arena and the O2 have a great appeal and atmosphere, and I am sure all bands would love to play there, but for me, gigs at venues like this are the best. Thanks to Ben Poole and his band for a splendid evening.

Set List

Take It No More

Start The Car

Have You Ever Loved A Woman?

The Question Why?

Further On Down The Line

Don’t Cry For Me

Let’s Go Upstairs

Stay At Mine

Anytime You Need Me

Dirty Laundry

Thanks to Patrick Haveron for the set list


*He didn’t get it, though, as at the time of writing he was on tour in Europe, and in May 2019, he will be special guest on Ana Popovic’s UK tour! Keep listening, Keep it Live



Joe Bonamassa in Memphis!

Ok, so I have seen Joe Bonamassa several times, and, after seeing him at the Orpheum Theatre in Memphis on November 14, I have to ask myself some questions:

Does he stay the same? Er, no!

Does his music and musicianship continue to grow? Well, yes.

Is this the best gig by him you have seen? Yes, amazingly, it was.

One of the great things about Bonamassa is his versatility, not just musically, but also in the role he plays within the band. Unlike many star musicians, he can be very generous in the time he gives his sidemen and women. This Concert was a prime example of such generosity. Backed by Lee Thornburg on trumpet, Paulie Cerra on sax, Reese Wynans on keys, Anton Fig on drums and Michael Rhodes on bass, as well as backup singers Mahalia Barnes & Jade McCrae, he gave solos to all, most especially to Wynans, who has the remarkable distinction of having played for Joe Bonamassa AND Stevie Ray Vaughan. If you can find a better pair of guitarists, then please let me know! Fig plays drums with an attack that makes you feel he is making up for all those years in TV studios, and the sight of the wraithlike Rhodes trading riffs with Bonamassa is a sight to behold.

The show started with a barnstorming version of King Bee Shakedown and roared on from there. There was a really slick feel about this show, why, the singers and horns even had choreography! The audience was really receptive and knowledgeable, unlike some audiences, who seem to think yelling “You the man” every song, or standing and blocking people’s view  somehow contributes to the success of the evening. Just thought I’d get that dig in!

The setlist was well balanced between originals and covers, with dynamic versions of several songs from his latest album, Redemption. Despite the quality of Bonamassa’s studio recordings, the live versions are often even better, and the breathtaking version of Self Inflicted Wounds was a case in point. Performed very close to the original, but with extraordinary vocals from McRae at the end. Hopefully, a live version will be released at some point, as it really has to be heard to be believed. I can still feel the shivers down my spine! Perhaps the standout song, however, was the ten minute plus version of Breaking Up Someones Home, which featured solos from Wynans and Bonamassa, as well as additional vocals from McRae, Barnes and Thornburg.

The previous time I saw Joe Bonamassa, he was on his British Blues Explosion tour. I really enjoyed that concert, but it is always nice to see him play outside any boundaries, and that is exactly what he did tonight, playing with that combination of control and abandon that the best guitarists have. I look forward to seeing Joe many more times, and really hope this particular version of his band stays together.

A splendid time was had by all.


Corky Laing!

Live at The 100 Club October 9 2018

There are some acts and musicians you think of as being just part of your past, and should be confined there! Then there are some, whom you just can’t resist seeing, even if the part they played in your life was a long time ago, but it meant a lot to you at the time. Corky Laing is one of the latter. I remember the influence Mountain had on myself and many of my contemporaries in the late 60s/early 70s, so I jumped at the opportunity to see him at The 100 Club on October 9. Corky was accompanied by Mark Mikel on bass & vocals and Chris Shutters on guitar, flute and vocals.

More later, as before Corky there were, as is usual at the Tuesday night blues clubs, two other acts on the bill. First up, the slightly oddly named John Doe Trio, led by Phil Woollett on vocals and guitar, withCraig Ferguson on Bass and Paul Townsend on Drums. Good sound, good songs and a nice edge to the band that set them aside from the usual.

Here is their CD

Next up were Southbound, whom I had seen just a few days before at the Half Moon in Putney. My initial impression of them was amplified (literally!) here. For such a young band, they have a great feel for and understanding of the music of The Allman Brothers (early days), Peter Greens Fleetwood Mac, and Santana. Imagine a funky Allman Brothers without the interminable jams and solos, and you are pretty much there. The addition of a keyboard player, described by vocalist Tom Ford as their schools maths teacher (!) further broadened their sound, and I am sure they have a great future. A strong line in London patter doesn’t hurt either. You will be able to see them at the Foxton Locks Festival on June 16 2019, though you would be wise to catch them before that if you can.

Man, it’s crowded up here, Southbound

And so to the main event. Whatever else one may have thought about tonight, there is no doubt that Corky Laing is still a remarkable drummer, a kind of controlled Keith Moon, and the guys were proof that three piece bands can be subtle as well as powerful. Okay, there were problems with the sound, and, it being late at night a number of people had left well before the end, but it was still a really good gig, with the stand out track an unusual but very successful version of Nantucket Sleighride. Corky had a nice line in chat, and I liked his story about failing to get the girl at a certain gig, but getting to write Mississippi Queen about her afterwards!  A good night all round. Corky Laing setlist is attached below.

Heres to many more nights like this at the 100 Club

What a drummer!

Half Moon/Full Moon

Stevie Nimmo back in Action.

The last time I saw Stevie Nimmo, he was wandering around in a sling, hoping for an operation to correct his right arm, following injuries sustained in a  mountain bike accident. Nine months later, he is still waiting for the operation! His arm has improved to the point where he can now play for ‘about an hour’ and so, trooper that he is, Nimmo is back out on tour and braving  the pain.

The tour started at the Half Moon in Putney on Thursday October 4th. Despite the obvious pain from just lifting the guitar, Stevie did not disappoint a packed crowd. If you didn’t know about the injury, you would not have guessed it, as his playing was as fluent and potent as ever.

A new album should have been for release this week, but that is on the back burner for the foreseeable future. Nonetheless, Stevie performed tracks from his previous two albums, including my favourite “Roll the dice again”,  ‘Change”, “Running on back to You” and “A good day for the Blues”. The last track in particular highlights Stevie’s powerful and melodious voice, which, to me at least, has always been as key an element in his performances as his guitar playing. Let us hope the rescheduled operation finally goes ahead and sorts things out for Stevie, and that he is back fully in action in the new year.

The support act were a band called Southbound, about whom more in the next post!





The Gaslight Anthem Return

I first saw Gaslight Anthem in 2011, sinking into the mud at the Feis Festival in Finsbury Park. I was sinking, not them, you understand. Seemed for a long time as if that would be it, as they have been on a long hiatus, but No!, here they were, back together on tour and playing at the Eventim  Apollo, Hammersmith. Packed, it was, with a rowdy Saturday night crowd who had come almost in adoration to witness a great event. And we did just that, though I was glad I had a seat in the balcony rather than be in the mosh pit downstairs!


The reason for the tour was in celebration of ten years since their breakthrough album, ’59 Sound. After 4 introductory tracks and a, to be honest, largely incomprehensible monologue from Brian Fallon (“If you didn’t understand that, then you probably weren’t supposed to”?), the band launched into the whole of the ’59 Sound album.

It is hard to describe the sound and style of Gaslight, they are a loud combination of good-time Rock n Roll, aggressive garage rock, with a punkish edge. All this allied to some great lyrics and a sense of just having fun. The intensity never lets up, and I felt exhausted  as well as happy by the end.

The only downside was The Comic Book Guy (i’m sure it was he!) who insisted on standing in the aisle blocking the view of many, despite being asked to sit down on more than one occasion! Its a good job Gaslight Anthem are not a visual band!

I bet he went home to his lonely bedsit and told both his friends what a fine time he had.

Hard to pick out a favourite song, but ’59 Sound, Film Noir, Even Cowgirls Get The Blues (closest they come to a ballad) and Queen of Lower Chelsea come to mind. OK, I know the latter is from American Slang.

We were told that this tour was just an opportunity to play together one last time, using the 10th anniversary as an excuse, and that no new music will follow, but that would be a shame. I have a compromise, Mr Fallon, what not come back for the 10th anniversary of American Slang? Just sayin’.

Set List:

  1. (with Dave Hause)

Earlier in the evening, we were entertained by Dave Hause (rhymes with Pause) whose high-power, angst-ridden set included his classic “Autism Vaccine Blues”, “We could be Kings”, and a splendid cover of Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down”.  I had never heard of Dave (shame on me) but much of the audience clearly had, as their excited singing along to his songs almost equalled the reaction to TGA, proof, once again, that it is worth getting there for the support act.

And just what have You been up to, djbraine?

Introducing bands is something new to me, but I sure got enough experience at The Foxton Locks Festival in June.

Mr Badger & Mr Jones set up HFMs’ stage on friday evening

Foxton Fest is a bit of an oddity, in that it is a country festival, featuring Ferret racing, kids dancing, Medieval Combat re-enactments, dog shows, crafts, Fun Fair etc, and a music festival. Two stages this year, one for the acoustic acts, and one for the heavier sort. Needless to say, there were complaints from some, about the ‘mis-match’ of styles and ‘sound imbalance’ but yours truly felt that the balance was just about right, though the positioning of the stages may need some re-thinking. Harborough FM were heavily involved in the main entertainment arena, as well as both music stages.

They are just pretending!

As a frequent player of the music of King King, I was delighted when the music organiser, Will Norton, informed me that through listening to my shows on HFM, he had become a big fan and booked them to headline. Not surprisingly, I bagged introducing them,as well as the other bands, who included, Goldwater (a hard to describe band, part Grunge, part Marilyn Manson, unusual to say the least), The thoroughly entertaining Hashtags, direct from their World Tour, including Nippon Budokan, Madison Square Garden and Ridgeway School (well, that’s what their tour bus says!), excellent local singer/songwriter, Tom Lewitt, Blue Skies in June(whose edgy, sexy set actually stopped the rain!), and many more. Such a cross-section of folk, pop, rock and the amazing Chi-Town blues style of Hubcap, made for a varied and thoroughly enjoyable days music, watched by thousands of people from the Harborough area.

King King in Foxton!

As I said in my intro to them, if you hadn’t seen King King before, you were in for a treat, and if you had, well, you were still in for one as they never disappoint, and they certainly didn’t this time. Songs included: (She Don’t) Gimme No Lovin’, Waking Up, You Stopped The Rain (of course), Long History Of Love (with the wonderful Johnny Dyke on Hammond solo),Lose Control, Rush Hour  and Let Love In. An hour is never long enough for a band so much at the top of their game, but weather and the lateness of the hour required an 11.30 curfew. Nonetheless, the sheer brilliance of the bands playing left everyone in a state of high excitement. Can’t wait to see them again! They are out on tour in september supporting Europe, so look out for them then, and stay in touch for details of next years festival. And by the way, introducing bands is really good fun, and only mildly terrifying!

Al Nimmo & King King from Backstage

Feeling Good?

As someone who remembers the rise of Pub Rock, it may seem odd that until last week (April 12) I hadn’t seen its most famous progeny, Dr Feelgood. I have, however put that right, and am so pleased I did so. A packed house at The Half Moon in Putney was treated to a splendid night of old school RnB. Although all founder members have long since moved on, the current lineup includes Phil Mitchell on bass, Kevin Morris on drums and Steve Walwyn on guitar, and they have all been in the band since the eighties! Steve was unavailable this night, so his place was taken buy his predecessor, Gordon Russell, who hadn’t played with the band since 1989, but you certainly wouldn’t have guessed.

Robert Kane provided powerful vocals, and an almost Wilko-like eccentric touch as the band ran through all the usual hits like Milk and Alcohol, As Long as the Price is Right, Back in the Night, All Through the City, along with covers of Stupidity, Who Do You Love etc. Robert also provided a supreme put down when someone booed the announcement of Russell on guitar. “Who said boo? What F*%king difference is that gonna make to the world? This is the man who was Steves predecessor” (huge cheer from the audience) “so now say boo, small man”! Like that.

Although Kane does the chat and is a dynamic front man, the band are very much a unit, and with a rock solid rhythm section and Gordon providing inspired, extended solos, the band treated us to a terrific evening, as the hits kept coming with Down at the Doctors, Roxette, Shotgun Blues and She Does It Right. If you haven’t seen Dr Feelgood, go along as soon as you can, you will not be disappointed.

The evening started with the perfect compliment to the Feelgoods, three young men from Maidstone known as The Gallerys. They have a 2018 spin on pub rock, along with influences by The Jam & Elvis Costello. For once, the audience was pretty full for the support act and the three guys were very well received.