Wednesday, 11 October 2017


Leeds Brudenell  1/8/2017

Twenty seven years!
  Twenty seven years it's been, twenty seven long dry years since we were privy to the magnificence & 'in yer face' onslaught of The Vaynes performing on stage.
  However my dears; getting yours truly to the show with his camera was not the easiest of quests. The road was fraught with danger & many a peril. Call this a cautionary tale if you will, for 'tis a yarn which has brought yours truly full circle, back to where he was twenty seven years ago!

As a relatively young man some twenty five years previous, your old mate Flash landed well & truly on his plates of meat by marrying into some serious wealth.To cut a long story short, yours truly is now the lord of the manor of Lower Whistlingrott, owner of a twenty six bedroom manor house, father of eleven ungrateful children by her ladyship & five bastards by four of the scullery maids!
Last but by no means least, I found my self lumbered with an insane father-in-law, who has a penchant for roaming the manor & grounds with a fully loaded antique blunderbus hoping to bag himself any intruders & in his own words, 'would be fornicators'.

 'Twas on the morn of the glorious 1st. Aye sir, the 1st of August 2017, the day when the stars aligned & the gods saw fit to bring The Vaynes back to their hometown for their first & only show anywhere in twenty seven years.Yours truly was giddier than a Whitby trawler full of kippers on viagra.
 After a busy morning of estate affairs, y'know, shooting a few small animals & beating some of the more unruly peasants with a strop, I took it upon myself to tumble one of the chambermaids in the broom cupboard. Ingrid, ahhh sweet Ingrid; shoulder length golden hair, legs longer than my overdraft, breasts which defy gravity & pert, firm butt cheeks which under any other circumstances I would be using to crack walnuts by the fire on a cold winters eve.
So there was I firmly entrenched in ecstasy as it were, when the mother of all rude awakenings happened upon me. "BY GOD SIR I'LL HAVE YOUR BALLS FOR THIS DAYS WORK" There was I, face pressed to the barrel of a rusty old blunderbuss. At the other end of said blunderbuss was a manically quivering ill kept handlebar moustache & those raging yellow & bloodshot eyes which hadn't been at home to a sane thought for at least thirty years.
 As I hastily pulled up my roughshod breeches, I begged, I pleaded, I wept like a little girl & wailed like a grieving Arab.
 After much pleading, begging, grovelling, sweating & ribald threats, I heard a word which pricked up my ears. "RETAINER"  Retainer, retainer? By god, the old scrote's paying me off!
 With that I lifted my snivelling frame from the horizontal to the vertical, looked him straight in the credit card & with an unexpected surge of confidence retorted, "well why didn't you say?".

So it was, that after grabbing up a few of my hand tailored suits, my priceless collection of Jeffrey Wests & my trusty old rangefinder, I bundled 'em in the back of my old mate Doms patiently waiting, 1920s open toppped Bugatti,  jumped in the passenger seat & hollered "get me the hell out of here".
"Where the hell are we going" quoth he. "Leeds" I yelled as I fingered my more than substantial cheque. "LS6 to be precise".

Upon our arrival at the Leeds Brudenell, where our usual parking spot is, stood a queue around the block of gargantuan proportions. "Lawks a lawdy & stap me vitals" I uttered. "I know this is a much anticipated show but this is incredible".
 After parking the old jalopy half a mile away & googling a plenty, we discovered the epic queue was for some old mumbler from the Dangerous North or some such other artiste.
Now talk about a sight for sore eyes. It was like a who's who from every gig in Leeds I ever attended betwixt the late seventies & the early nineties. Many friendly old faces from the past, copious amounts of the golden throat charmer & much pressing of the flesh to do brought us to the witching hour of 9.30 (ish). 
 BOOM! Just like they'd never been away, ripping into 'Sick of you' & 'Television man' like a randy pit bull on steroids, hot on the heels was 'Rock 'n' roll' crime'. Oh baby!!
My old mate Dom & me were grinning from lug 'ole to lug 'ole.
 However if you think I'm going to spiel off the set list you can forget it. Check it out yourself below!

Let me tell you something my fluffy little swamp ducks. Time does not appear to have withered these cats in any way, shape or form.They still look fantastic after nearly three decades.

Gerry Famous, Still every inch the consummate rock star. Made ever more appealing by the fact he's still using that home made metal guitar, no doubt honed from the finest Valyrian steel!

Martin Aylward. The only non-original member on drums. Did a sensational job & made that stool his own.

Jessica Fischer, cooler than a Northern Westeros winter on bass guitar. However, despite all the abundant coolness, after twenty seven years this lady still looks hot-Hot-HOT!!!

Stevie Vayne, the self proclaimed king of the wide eyed faces, rabid ringmaster of all things Vayne &
Frontman extraordinaire with no equal. But hark dear reader, as if this wasn't enough our Stevie pens a pretty damn fine tune & is a graduate of the highest echelons of word smithery! (Take a close listen to some of the Vaynes/Dead Vaynes back catologue & you'll see exactly what I mean).

Mick Vayne, the mild mannered foil to the manic frontman & deft exponent of the meatiest, most gut churning, ripping, guitar sound you've ever heard wrung from a plank of wood.  For those of us brave souls who dared to venture anywhere near the front, one can only say that you don't so much hear it as feel it. It's the closest you'll get to being physically assaulted without being bruised & bloodied. If you want further proof of this just slip 'Baby cruel' on the turntable, turn up the volume & absoooorb!!

So there you have it boys & girls. A good hour we were promised & a good hour we received. 
  To the Vaynes; you were magnificent, tearing it up just like you'd never been away. Adding fuel to the theory that 'Rock'n'roll is not a day job or just something you choose to do, but a calling or perhaps something that is firmly rooted deep within. 
 Whatever 'IT' is the Vaynes still have 'IT' in abundance.
 As Dom & I casually sauntered back to the old Bugatti on this balmy August eve, I got to thinking on how much of a mess I'd made of my life for the sake of a quick wriggle with the hired help & all in the space of a day. Stevie Vayne & 'Big Cities'  still rattling round my head. "WHAT'S THE POINT IN GOING TO THE TOP WHEN THE BOTTOM'S GOT ALL IT'S GOT".
A damn fine lyricist, that lad!

 By god that Ingrid was good, think I'll give her a ring on the morrow!

Thursday, 5 June 2014


Manchester Soup Kitchen: 21-5-14

Oh my, oh my, oh my!
  I do like to be pleasantly surprised my dears but nothing, I repeat nothing, could have prepared me for this. There I was, going about my business & getting on with my life in general, when my old mate Bob gave me a call & told me to get round to his place & to be bloody sharp about it!
 'Ok' I thought, he'll probably be wanting to show me his latest purchase in the endless sea of gadgets which seem to be taking over his house.
 After fighting my way past his mad slobbering dog, I found dear old Bob hovering over his computer with dark hollow eyes like a man who hasn't slept for days & a shaking finger poised over the play button on 'Youtube'. 
 'LISTEN TO THIS' he roared. Well who am I to argue? I listened & I watched. Who is it? I asked, some guy goes by the name of Benjamin Booker he said. Well he sounds bloody good quoth I (quick with the repertoire) is he playing any dates? Manchester in two days. Ok then, we're going & that's settled!

Cutting the longest of stories short, Bob & I found our way across the Pennines & into Manchesters' Soup Kitchen, having a swift libation at the bar prior to braving our way into the dungeon like darkness of the cellar bar where unbeknownst to us we were mere minutes away from having what can only be described as a near religious experience!
 I recall feeling a little deflated as there was no lighting rig, just a couple of dim spots. Lucky for me I'd packed the 35mm 1.4 lens & decided to do the best I could under the circumstances. 

  The flaky painted brick walls of the Soup Kitchen cellar bar cast a coolness over the sparsely populated room. Bob & I were starting to feel a good vibe, a kind of anticipation of what was to come. 
 Having no prior knowledge of Benjamin Booker, I was quite surprised to see that they were a two piece band, of course comparisons to another rather successful two piece of recent times will no doubt be thrown in their direction. But please let all comparisons end right here.
   Two well mannered, unassuming young guys, hailing from New Orleans who were very amiable towards anyone who came along to chat, became something of a behemoth when one picked up his guitar & the other perched himself at his drums. The transformation was almost magical! 'Tis surely alchemy, when one can fill another with awe & wonder.

 Bob & I are hard bitten old souls who've witnessed many bands & shows & you begin to think you've seen it all but never have I been so moved. This was intense, like a knife fight in a phone booth! 
 Benjamin Booker attacks his instrument like his life depends on it, he sings with a vocal rasp, paint stripper raw, which lies somewhere between a young Paul Westerberg & a present day Jim Jones. Wonderful to see someone so lost in his own performance, baring heart & soul to the world through a neanderthal, blues infused Rock'n'Roll.

If ever a young man had the world at his feet then this is he. He has the good looks & dazzling smile which can break hearts & moisten gussets in equal measure with nought but a sideways glance!
 The other half of this dynamic duo is powerhouse drummer (& fellow rangefinder aficionado) Max Norton & boy; if two people ever complemented each other on a stage, then this is they. With his rolling thunder style of drumming the sound is filled out to perfection on the faster more raucous numbers. Hey, those drums ain't there to be tickled!
 It's on the more mellow songs where Benjamin comes into his own. Here is a cat who appears to be carried off to another dimension, totally oblivious to his surroundings & believe me my fluffy little cherubs, it really is something to behold '& let no man put asunder'.

So it was with a song in our heart & a spring in our step, that Bob & I wandered off into the Manchester night after we bade our fond farewells, for we both knew we had witnessed something quite special. In the years to come, the sixty or so enlightened souls who were present here on this night, will be able to impress people at parties by telling eager, doe-eyed listeners how they saw Benjamin Booker at the Manchester Soup Kitchen.
 Me, I wanna tell the whole world about it right now!!
Here is knowledge my fluffy little chickens; not being one to wish my life away, the date 19th August 2014 cannot come soon enough. Why, do I hear you ask?  Why? Why that is the release date of the debut album from Benjamin Booker. If any of you fine upstanding individuals have any modicum of common sense & taste (& I know you do because you are reading this 'ere blog right now) then you will follow this link & pre-order the album without a moments hesitation! 

Just copy & paste it kids & while you're about it, you'd better hang onto your hats because this could turn out to be one hell of a ride!!

Chin Chin!