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There's only one thing worse than being talked about - and that's not being talked about


German band turns van into club
so fans can rock out one at a time

German two-piece rock band Milliarden have turned a van into a club where they stage gigs for one fan at a time as a way of reaching music-lovers during the pandemic.
Separated by a plastic sheet, Milliarden (www.milliardenmusik.de) which translates as Billions, treat fans to acoustic versions of their songs, recreating a club atmosphere with lighting effects, posters and plastic roses.
Large cultural events, including concerts, have become virtually impossible in Germany due to the pandemic.
“The fact that we have the club with us, that we are the club owners, so to speak, is something we use to get to the people who are not so close to this, to this cultural landscape, who are not in the big cities,” band member Ben Hartmann said.
“We actually went to the villages and stopped in front of people’s houses and played for them. A crisis like this one brings so many opportunities that you only recognise once you do stuff. You just have to do it.”
Milliarden this month released their third studio album “Schuldig” (“Guilty”). Fans can win tickets for the exclusive shows via social media.
“I think it’s so nice that it works like this and that people respect it and accept it like that and get so emotionally connected to us here on this van. I think that is a gift,” said Johannes Aue, in charge of keyboards and clapping.
“And that’s why it is awesome that we were able to pull it off without thinking how we could earn money with it. Because we are in an immense debt with our fans.”
“I’m just happy. Just happy. It was so nice ... It was so great, it was really great,” said fan Nadine Spichal, exiting the van parked outside a Berlin nightclub.                                           25/02/2021
Riffs thanks Reuters for permission to re-create this article.

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Y'know that speck of light at the end of that really long tunnel? - well it's just increased in brightness. Just check out our Listings page where we have some reet royal rockin' in store . . .

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Anvil’s debut album Hard ’N’ Heavy is an 80s metal classic that should have turned them into superstars. Mainman Steve ‘Lips’ Kudlow looks back on a career of missed chances.
History doesn’t always get it right. While every metalhead knows that the 80s began with a flurry of classic albums from Ozzy, Priest, Maiden, Motörhead and many more, one of the most important and influential records of the decade’s first couple of years rarely gets a mention. Released in the spring of 1981, Toronto trio Anvil’s debut album, Hard ’N’ Heavy, was one of the catalysts that set metal’s wheels rolling towards the birth of thrash and beyond, influencing Metallica, Anthrax and countless more iconic bands in the process.
Today, genial frontman Steve ‘Lips’ Kudlow looks back on those early days as a time of wide-eyed enthusiasm. “When the 80s started, metal really didn’t exist, particularly in North America,” he recalls. “It was something that was mainly coming from the UK. We formed in ’78 and I guess we were kind of bringing metal to our country. We had cassette tapes that we’d run through our PA system and we’d introduce other cool bands to the audiences that we were playing for. So it was a really new thing, but to us it was just a continuation of the hard rock that we’d been listening to since we were kids. They just started to call it heavy metal and we were happy to be part of it. It was exciting, man.”
"We were always intrigued by
and loved Deep Purple"

Hindsight is a glorious thing. Looking back to the music Anvil were making in the early 80s, it’s easy to see how wildly ahead of their time they were and how, along with Motörhead, they contributed several major new weapons to metal’s creative armoury. Although Hard ’N’ Heavy was a largely straightforward hard rock record, songs such as Bedroom Game and Bondage are some of the earliest ever examples of what would become speed and thrash metal.
Robb [Reiner, Anvil drummer] and I were always really intrigued by and loved Deep Purple a lot, and the higher- tempo stuff really attracted us and inspired us to want to be able to play like that,” Lips explains. “So in doing that, instead of single bass drum beats, Robb started using double bass drum beats and I would chug the guitar in much the same way as [Ritchie] Blackmore did on Speed King or Flight Of The Rat or any of the higher-tempo Deep Purple songs. And I guess that became speed metal, but we didn’t know that’s what we were doing! That’s just what it became.”
Recorded at Quest Studios in Oshawa, Canada, Anvil’s debut album was entirely self-financed, not least because the North American music industry was yet to pick up on this new and exhilarating breed of none-more-heavy rock. As Lips notes, the songs on Hard ’N’ Heavy were written very early on in Anvil’s development as musicians and songwriters, and it wouldn’t be until 1982’s Metal On Metal that the band’s more brutal ideas started to gain traction.
“Realistically, the material that was written for that first record was written two to three years before it was recorded. So it’s really previous to metal even being called metal, if you know what I mean. What were we influenced by? Obviously English stuff and also American stuff. Bedroom Game was directly influenced by Rainbow. Then there’s Bondage, which was directly influenced by Ted Nugent. So it’s really all that stuff that was part of the 70s. It just so happened that we didn’t release it until 1981. As soon as that came out, we started writing for the second record, which came out in 1982. Metal On Metal was much more of a heavy metal record than the first one.”

"It makes sense that the first album
was so much about sex"

Hard ’N’ Heavy
was released on May 25, 1981 via Canadian rock imprint Attic Records. Lips notes that securing a record deal hadn’t been too much of a problem, but that at least one prospective benefactor at Capitol Records had flinched when confronted with the sexually charged (but slightly juvenile) lyrics to songs like School Love, I Want You Both (With Me) and, in particular, Bondage (opening line: ‘Tie me down you mean old bag!’). Lips cackles at the memory.
“Anybody between the ages of 18 and 23, that’s all that’s on your mind, right?” he muses, not unreasonably. “That guy hears School Love and he says, ‘Oh my god, that’s absolutely filthy! We’re not signing that!’ Ha ha! So it makes sense that the first album was so much about sex. The second one made a slight departure from that, because I guess it became a little less important. Maybe my hormones weren’t working as strongly, I don’t know! Ha ha ha!”
If you’ve seen Sacha Gervasi’s astonishing documentary, Anvil: The Story Of Anvil (and if you haven’t, what the fuck?) then you will know that Lips’ hopes for world domination never quite came to fruition. Despite his and Robb Reiner’s resolute determination, an initial flurry of low-key success in the early 80s never led them to a major commercial breakthrough, and due to poor management decisions and a whole stack of bad luck, the 80s didn’t turn out to be golden age that Anvil unquestionably deserved. In fact, it all sounds a bit rank.

"If you slept in those beds
you were gonna get scabies and crabs"

“Getting the first album recorded was a massive highlight,” Lips states. “But I don’t look back at the 80s with great nostalgia. I’ll be honest, I’ve had better times! Some of those days were pretty rough. Some of the hotel rooms were horrible. There were holes in the walls. You had to bring sleeping bags, because if you slept in those beds you were gonna get scabies and fuckin’ crabs. If you slept with anyone you’re gonna get a dose. It was just a dirty time and a dirty environment, so yeah, we had a lot of fun but there was some pretty awful stuff going on.”
In musical terms, Anvil plainly made their mark in those grubby early days. Glowing tributes from the likes of Lars Ulrich and Anthrax’s Scott Ian at the start of Anvil: The Story Of Anvil tell their own story about the lasting impact and power of Lips’ prescient contribution to metal history, even if the band themselves are underdogs to the last and proud of it.

"I knew what we had was special,
even back on Hard N Heavy"

“When you’re ahead of your time, it’s a real problem,” he shrugs. “You can have something extremely unique and cutting edge and you send that to a record label, and they won’t sign it because they don’t understand it. But I knew what we had was special, even back on Hard ’N’ Heavy. I was never going to give up and now I’ve been doing it for 40 years nonstop. And we are still playing School Love!”
Even as Lips bemoans the struggles that his band had to endure during their pioneering early days, he still sounds very much in love with the whole notion of playing in a heavy metal band. He’s also happy to admit that it was Sacha Gervasi’s support and the impact of his documentary that finally, after 30 years of trying, enabled Anvil to become the secure recording and touring unit that they always wanted to be.

“We fell between the cracks and that’s what caused the fall into obscurity,” he notes, cheerfully. “But it never put an end to what I wanted to do. I just waited until it came around again. In the end, a kid that we met back at The Marquee in London grew up to be Steven Spielberg’s screenwriter, and what does he do? He makes a movie about Anvil and that’s it, bingo! Had I given up in ’83, there would’ve been no history for that movie to base itself on. So you can’t wish anything different.”
"We don't want to play Glastonbury,
we want to be up close and personal"

Despite the 40th anniversary of their debut’s release in 2021, Lips and his band have absolutely no intention of wallowing in nostalgia. Their 2020 album Legal At Last upheld their mighty legacy. True to form, it failed to set the world on fire. But then Lips long ago gave up on that dream.

"We don’t want to be playing at Glastonbury, 100 feet from the nearest hand,”
he says. “I want to be right there, up close and personal. I want everyone to say that they were really in the same room, at the same place and time as Anvil. That’s the magic. I want to be the biggest club band that ever existed and then I can walk away saying that I’ve really done what I wanted to do. It’s been a long haul, but it’s better than having a day job, trust me!
[all pics taken by Riffs' Nige at Newcastle Riverside: April 14, 2016]

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Bon Scott R.I.P.   1946 - 1980

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Drugs, drink and disorder:
UFO look back at the making of Strangers In The Night

Strangers In The Night captured a great rock band at their peak, and is one of the all-time great live albums. But by the time it was released they were no longer the band who’d made it.
It seems incredible now that a live album could be a band’s defining statement – as much a relic of the 1970s as the Raleigh Chopper and only TV three channels. But so it was.
For bands who never quite achieved great consistency on studio records, or who were never quite as comfortable in the studio as on stage, the live album was the perfect vehicle: part greatest hits, part introduction for newcomers, part proof that the band really could be as good as their supporters might claim. And it worked.
Just ask Thin Lizzy for one. Or ask UFO, for whom Strangers In The Night was just as important as Live And Dangerous was for Lizzy.
“We were always more of a live band,” says UFO singer Phil Mogg. “We had a pretty cool set-list. We didn’t get to that until we reached the live album though.”
That’s important, because Strangers In The Night isn’t just a record of what UFO sounded like on stage in October ’78. It’s also a record of their transformation over five years since Michael Schenker had joined as lead guitarist – their transformation as players, as songwriters, as arrangers. It’s a record of how they became, for a while at least, a truly great rock band. The UFO that Schenker had joined were a very different group to the one he helped them become.
"We were dropping acid and going to the Roundhouse"
“Basically, they were a psychedelic rock band,” Schenker says. “Instrumentally there wasn’t much going on, it was more atmospheric. But there was a completely different chemistry [with the new line-up]. You take one piece out and put another in and you get different outcomes.”
“I think at that point we were all living in a house in Bounds Green, dropping acid and going to the Roundhouse,” Mogg told me last year. “I guess we went from there to straightening up, thinking: ‘Do you really want to do this? How serious are you?’ Basically, we got serious. Not too serious, though.”
Over the course of five albums – Phenomenon, Force It, No Heavy Petting, Lights Out and Obsession – they went from a band who were trying to find their way to one that barrelled down the road. They toured unrelentingly, generating excitement and buzz, but never quite made the leap to the top echelon.
Often, in the US, they were an opening act, but that suited their dynamism and gave them the chance to hit hard.
“We were very lucky to get some good opening slots,” drummer Andy Parker says. “We were getting exposed to larger audiences. If you do a decent job, a lot of those people will come and see you in the future, and that was working for us. I used to love that Special Guest slot, the second band on a three-band bill. You didn’t have to play for too long, the crowd was already warmed up and you could get home early. You could really hit them hard with a shorter set.”
"So paralysing was the drug that Mogg could barely move his mouth"
A shorter set and no headliner responsibilities allowed the band to indulge themselves too. Take the three shows they played with Fleetwood Mac in California in 1976. On the way to one of them, Mogg told me in 2012, they realised they were lacking in certain pick-me-ups, so they arranged to meet up with the April Wine touring party at a truck stop.
“So we got there, and this guy comes along with a briefcase chock-a-block with stuff. ‘Oh, this is great,’ we said. It was a bit like one of those movie scenes where they chop out a line that goes from here to next week. In our bravado we were: ‘Yeah!’ But by the time we reached the gig no one could talk. We were absolutely rigid. Time to go on, and we couldn’t move. We were on stage, absolutely stationary.”
So paralysing was the drug that Mogg could barely move his mouth to get the words out.
There was alcohol by the bucketload too.
“It seems comical now,” Parker says. “It was white wine for the sound-check, then beer, then on to the hard stuff in the evening. That was the good thing about the Special Guest slots, there was always booze left if you raided other people’s dressing rooms. We were doing cocaine and weed. The really heavy stuff, the really nasty stuff, didn’t come in till later. I never dabbled in that. I did quite a bit of blow, but then you end up staring at the ceiling at three in the morning when you have to be up in three hours.”
The arrival of Paul Raymond in July 1976, to play keyboards and rhythm guitar, was the thing that gave UFO the extra depth they needed.
“He completed the chemistry,” Schenker says. “He was very good at colouring in, and that made it perfect. He was an excellent songwriter, too. But he didn’t take all the credit for his writing because he had a contractual situation.”
Pete Way, the bass player who was the band’s irregular heartbeat, was writing too, and UFO became a band in which every member was making the maximum possible contribution.

"By autumn '78 the band were on the brink
of something"

“Pete was writing dirty stuff, and I would put in a melodic chorus to it, like Lights Out, that would balance it out,” Schenker explains. “The keyboards coloured it. It’s incredible how Paul Raymond did the intro to Love To Love, which started as an instrumental I wrote, then it turned into a vocal song. And the colouring in Lights Out is really good.”
By autumn ’78, although relations with Schenker were already fraught, there was a sense that the band they were on the brink of something.
“We were probably just about hitting our peak then,” Parker says. Michael was still with the band. We were at the stage where we could do decent-sized arenas on our own. We would do three nights in Chicago, which was our biggest market.
"Before, we’d been doing them with the likes of Rush and Blue Öyster Cult, Foghat, Styx and Jethro Tull and those kinds of bands as Special Guests, but by this time we were doing them on our own.
“I always thought that while we made great studio albums, if you really wanted to know what UFO was about, go see us live. We were always a band that tried to include the audience. I’ve seen so many big bands that play at the audience – it’s all about what they want to do, rather than what the audience wants – but with this band we included the audience.”

"He [Nevison] was obnoxious, but he knew what he wanted"
Strangers In The Night was recorded over two nights in October 1978, in Chicago and Louisville. Ron Nevison, who had produced UFO’s two previous studio albums, was brought in again to oversee its completion.
“He wasn’t the easiest guy to work with, but man he was good at what he did.” Schenker says. “He was obnoxious. But he knew what he wanted and he knew what the end result had to be.”
There’s no doubting Nevison’s contribution to Strangers In The Night. It’s an album on which muscle and melody are in perfect balance, from front to back (and the bonus live sets that accompany the CD version of this year’s reissue prove that UFO could cut it without the need for additional studio work).
It’s a mixture of great songs and bravura performances – the out-and-out rockers have a force and attack missing from the studio versions (Doctor Doctor, especially, makes the original sound like a demo); the longer and more emotional tracks, such as Love To Love and Rock Bottom, have an expressiveness that heavy bands at the time rarely bothered to attempt.
But even as UFO reached their zenith, things were going wrong. The exact circumstances of Schenker’s departure remain cloudy – you’ll get a different answer depending on who you ask, and possibly which day of the week you ask them.

"Schenker left just as the band were working on mixing Strangers"
Parker is certain the band knew he was going to be leaving at the end of the US tour in autumn 1978. The version that will go down in history – because it’s on Wikipedia – has him leaving shortly after the final show of the tour, in Palo Alto on October 29. But according to Schenker he didn’t leave until the band were working on the mixing of Strangers.
What isn’t disputed is that relations between him and his bandmates, especially Mogg, had been deteriorating for some time. Schenker hated touring, and drank to combat his stage fright. After the success of Lights Out, rather than celebrating a breakthrough, he told his partner Gabi that this meant years more of being trapped.
“It happens to many bands: the moment they make it big, they all collapse,” Schenker says. “And they get into a vicious cycle of being obnoxious and completely controlled by alcohol and drugs.”
He was also sick of Mogg, who he felt was violently aggressive. Indeed, even with decades of distance, mention of the singer still riles him. Five minutes after completing our interview, he calls me and embarks on a monologue that opens with:
“If you look at Iron Maiden, Steve Harris copied Pete Way, and the guitarists copied me, but the singer didn’t copy Phil Mogg. Same with Guns N’ Roses – a complete different vocal. Metallica – a complete different vocal. And Def Leppard – a complete different vocal. Strangers In The Night had an influence because of the guitar playing. It was the guitar playing that was copied by all of these bands…”
A few minutes later, he concludes: “It’s impossible for me to comprehend how people think. Why are people only seeing what they can’t get? People have a problem saying thank you. Instead of saying thank you, they say fuck you. Nobody is copying Phil Mogg, by the way. Goodbye.”
Then there were disagreements during the compiling of the album, at the Record Plant studio in New York, one being Schenker demanding they go for a different take of Rock Bottom from the one Nevison had chosen. By the time Strangers was released, on January 2 1979, Schenker was no longer in the band.
“He did an awful lot of walking, didn’t he?” Mogg says. “He used up the shoe leather. Dear oh dear. He’s always walking away from something.
"I can’t remember when he actually went. I remember him doing the album with as much enthusiasm as everybody else was putting into it. I remember that he wanted to keep replacing stuff, and in the end Ron said: ‘I ain’t fucking replacing shit. This is a live album.’ And Michael went: ‘Poor, poor Rock Bottom’, and walked out. We didn’t see him for a while."

"UFO were paid £86,000 for headlining Reading - but each band member got only £1,000"
The sad thing for all concerned was that this was happening when the band were at a high point. UFO moved on to a poppier sound. Schenker rejoined Scorpions, briefly, then formed his own band. Neither parties ever topped the music they had made up to then.
Money problems were arising, too. In 1980 UFO headlined the Reading Festival for a fee of £86,000, of which the band members saw £1,000 each, apart from new boy Neil Carter who got half that.
After UFO spluttered out in 1983, Mogg was so poor he had to go to live with a friend and sign on for unemployment benefit.
Strangers, though, was when things were special for UFO. It’s one of those rare live albums in which the interaction between all the band members is perfect – not just Schenker’s spotlit lead playing, but also Mogg’s command of the audience (interestingly, Schenker notes the “monotony” of Mogg’s voice, then observes that it combined perfectly with his own melodic sense to produce something greater than they could have been separately).
Parker’s drumming is combustible. Remember too the contributions of the two members who have passed away: Way and Raymond were just as integral to the sound of Strangers In The Night as Mogg and Schenker were. The just-released expanded version of the album stands as a tribute to the pair of them.
Nowadays even Schenker, who was merciless about its inadequacies after its release, has made his peace. “Today Strangers In The Night sounds good to me, because I’m not in it. I have distance and I hear it differently. I am affected by it differently because it became popular. And everybody likes it and you automatically become part of that wave. Everything influences your later opinion.”
Parker’s reaction is less complex: “We were at the apex of our career, and it just exemplifies the band. It will always be my favourite.”
Let’s be honest, mine and yours too, probably. It’s UFO’s defining statement.

By Michael Hann (Classic Rock)
[The tracks attached to the above images are from the Deluxe Expanded Edition which feature both Chicago and Cleveland gigs].

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The Sweet:
Is it finally time to give them the credit they deserve?

From Little Willy to a six-foot, confetti spewing penis, The Sweet had it all... except for the credibility they craved. Were these critically derided glam tarts really rock gods after all?

“We were like four dissipated old whores, mincing about on Top Of The Pops and churning out computerised pop, just being as flash as assholes. Everybody thought we were a bunch of poofs…” The above, offered by drummer Mick Tucker in 1974, is evidence of the many misconceptions concerning The Sweet, or merely Sweet as they became known once the affections of teenyboppers wore off. The four members of Sweet were actually womanising, drug taking, hell-raising, macho alcoholics. And although they burst onto the scene miming to early hits such as Funny Funny and Co-Co, then emerged as highcamp stalwarts of the UK singles with glam-rock anthems such as Blockbuster, The Ballroom Blitz and Teenage Rampage, their best music by far was created once the glitter had worn off. If you flipped over just about any of the quartet’s classic singles, a selfpenned B-side such as Burn On The Flame, Rock ‘N’ Roll Disgrace or Need A Lot Of Lovin’ would be ready to assault your eardrums.
Yes, Sweet were rockers… albeit frustrated ones. At their prime, circa the Sweet Fanny Adams and Desolation Boulevard albums, they were making records good enough to have matched any of the true giants of the 1970s, including infinitely more credible names such as Bowie, Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple. Sadly, you probably never heard any of them. That’s because Sweet were never anywhere near as cool as the icons whose respect they craved. Though unmissable, their exploits on Top Of The Pops branded them damaged, novelty goods. To make matters worse, wrapped up in their own vanity and self-importance, they often behaved like complete and utter fools. This, then, is a tale of glorious underachievers. But by Christ, did Sweet have fun while it lasted…
Gigs fuelled by a concotion they called 'The Benny Buzz'
The year was 1966. Vocalist Brian Connolly and drummer Mick Tucker formed a band called Sweetshop with bassist Steve Priest and guitarist Frank Torpey. Various small-time gigs were performed, some fuelled by a unique concoction they nicknamed The Benny Buzz. Consisting of the contents of a Benedryl inhaler and Coca Cola in a glass, it helped The Sweet (as they later abbreviated themselves) to numb the pain of seeing their first four singles all flop dismally.
Torpey was briefly succeeded by Mick Stewart before the line-up solidified with the arrival of former Elastic Band guitarist Andy Scott. Behind the scenes, Sweet had also signed to RCA and been introduced to producer Phil Wainman and songwriters Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman. Mere months later, Funny Funny had peaked just outside the Top Ten, becoming the first of Sweet’s 15 hit singles.
At the start, these were exclusively penned by Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman, who along with producer Phil Wainman insisted that Connolly should be backed by session musicians. Wigwam Bam was the first single that Sweet were actually allowed to play on, though they had been responsible for their own B-sides since the start. Naturally, these restrictions caused immense unhappiness. To further compound the situation, Sweet had agreed to let Chinn and Chapman manage them.
“What a stupid thing for us to allow them to do,” commented Steve Priest years later. “We were being controlled by a couple of novices. Mike Chapman could write what sounded like hit songs, but Nicky was brought up in a private boys’ school and didn’t know his arse from his elbow.”
Whatever anyone’s reservations, the pair’s formula proved immensely successful, and they soon began using it on such other acts as Mud, Suzi Quatro and Arrows. “Chinn and Chapman’s songs were banal and simple, but they offered endless possibilities,” admits Andy Scott now. “We wanted to start having some of our own material used, so the arrangement was never going to last forever. So other bands ended up using our rejects, though I won’t name any names.”
One of these was Mud’s Tiger Feet, a fact confirmed years later by Mick Tucker when he bitched: “Any group who’d recorded that would have got a hit. Even though it went to Number One, it was still an awful song.”
For the first and last time The Sweet topped the charts with Blockbuster in early 1973. It beat off stiff competition from David Bowie’s Jean Genie, which featured an almost identical guitar riff and was released via the same label just a week apart. “I swear I’d never heard Bowie’s song before ours was released… I was onto Nicky Chinn as soon as I heard it on the radio,” says Scott now, adding gleefully: “We felt a bit shabby about Blockbuster coming out a week later – but ours went to Number One.”
". . . purchased vast quantities of our new release
and dumped them in the Thames"

 Sweet would go on to stall at Number Two on no less than five occasions, most annoyingly in September ’73 when the Simon Park Orchestra’s Eye Level repeatedly held off Ballroom Blitz for weeks at a time. As a small child I recall sobbing in the kitchen when the single began to plummet down the charts, but as Scott rightly points out: “Sales-wise, what would have been a Number Two in those days would now top the charts for months on end.”
Steve Priest admits that certain underhand tactics were used to massage their sales. Indeed, at least one of Sweet’s early 45s may still be ‘bubbling under’, in a manner of speaking: “Nicky [Chinn] sent Phil [Wainman] and Mike [Chapman] around the country to the stores whose sales were used to compile the Top 30. Between them, they purchased vast quantities of our new release and dumped them in the Thames.” Nevertheless, the group’s bubblegum anthems and über-camp delivery established them as mainstays on Top Of The Pops (“We got to know the guy who let us into the bar very well,” winks Scott). Nobody who experienced it on the small screen will ever forget Priest batting his eyelids and mockstuttering “W-w-w-w… we just haven’t got a c… oh!” during Blockbuster or Connolly prefacing Ballroom Blitz with the legendary questions, “Are you ready, Steve… [“Uh-huh”]… Andy?… [“Yeah”]… Mick?… [“Okay”]… well, alright, fellas, let’s go-o-o-o-o-o.”

As Sweet later discovered, the dressing up and cosmetics would haunt them when they decided to get serious. According to Scott, upon seeing Marc Bolan in all his glam glory they realised they simply had to compete.
“Steve Priest very aptly summed it up,” winces the guitarist. “They already thought we were poofs, so we may as well elaborate. And it worked. Steve had fan clubs all over the world. In places like Sweden there would be bunches of geezers hanging around outside the hotel. I guess that Wigwam Bam is the one that people tend to remember, with the miniskirts and headdresses. There was definitely a sense of competition with Dave Hill of Slade and – dare we mention his name – Gary Glitter, who used to come up with daring outfits. Top Of The Pops sometimes seemed a bit like a pantomime, and The Sweet were definitely the ugly sisters!”
"Bowie would tell our make-up girls:
'No, no, no their eyes aren't right"
"At the start, we just used make-up as a giggle,
” recalled Mick Tucker years later. “We were at Top Of The Pops for Little Willy and Bowie kept telling our make-up girls, ‘No, no, no, their eyes aren’t right’. We all thought, ‘What a strange young man, taking it so seriously’. Perhaps for Bowie it was the excuse he needed to wear make-up in public, but for Sweet it was all a piss-take. “
"After a while things rapidly got right out of hand,” Tucker elaborated. “At gigs, Andy would mince onstage swinging a handbag and call himself Andre. Steven became Stephanie and I changed my name to Michelle. Brian was the only one who never really went along with the make-up thing.”
Gradually Sweet became aware that their audience was polarising. While younger sisters were playing the A-sides of their singles, older brothers were appreciating the harder, self-penned rock of flipsides like Burning and Someone Else Will. 1974s Sweet Fanny Adams is generally acknowledged as their first real album. Besides the two Chinn/Chapman compositions, the tracks Set Me Free and Sweet F.A. were undoubtedly the handiwork of a credible hard rock act. Critically panned, it barely charted in the UK, though Germany and mainland Europe were more open-minded.
Released the same year and featuring the hits The Six Teens and Fox On The Run, the follow-up, Desolation Boulevard rewarded Sweet with their first self-composed success. With Chinn and Chapman away in the US, the latter was re-recorded even without Phil Wainman and climbed to Number Two. Musically, Sweet were on a roll. They had made no secret of their appreciation of Deep Purple. Priest, in fact, had very quickly arrived at the conclusion that Tucker was in awe of Purple’s Ian Paice. “Mick had decided that he and Ian were in competition,” Steve later said. “In my eyes, this was a mistake. He expended a lot of energy trying to play like Ian, but he didn’t have to.”
However, other acts also benefited from Sweet’s innovative use of vocal harmonies. Among them were Queen. “They beat us to it,” later conceded Phil Wainman. “I saw them as a support band at Hammersmith Odeon. I went up to Roy Thomas Baker, who was producing them and had been an engineer for me. I said, ‘Roy, that band are phenomenal. I’ll swap you all my acts for that band’. He said, ‘I can’t do that’. I played Killer Queen to Sweet, and all Andy could say was, ‘Yeah, Phil, we’re being ripped off’”.
“I was scared to death when I heard Queen’s first album, because till then I thought we were doing alright,” comments Scott now. “I remember having a wry smile when I met Brian May in Los Angeles. Bohemian Rhapsody was out, and there were definite similarities. I told Brian I liked the last part of that one, that it was very reminiscent of [our own] Action. But that’s okay, you beg, steal and borrow. I’ve put a lot of Jeff Beck and Hendrix into some of the cheapest and nastiest pop singles ever, and nobody realises.”

"The most disgusting performance I've seen in 11 years" - Mecca Ballroom
The Sweet were also becoming notorious for their lewd, hedonistic ways. Each night they took to the stage to the strains of The Stripper, and Someone Else Will was introduced by the line “If we don’t fuck you then someone else will”. There were reports of a band member pulling down his strides in a lift to a Swedish teenage girl, and in March 1972 the group were banned by the Mecca Ballroom chain after John Chapman of the Portsmouth Mecca said their show was “The most disgusting performance I’ve seen in 11 years” at the venue (Sweet duly responded with the B-side Man From Mecca). Considering their audience comprised of under-age females, does Scott believe that Sweet always behaved responsibly?
“Does anybody in the music business?” he parries. “At the time what we sometimes did was considered out of order, but you only have to look at Channel 5 late at night to put it into perspective. Compared to Sex In Japan, which was on the other night, what The Sweet did was fuck-all, mate.” Nevertheless, on another early Swedish tour it was alleged that Sweet beat up a promoter, broke a window, rubbed excrement into a tablecloth and pissed in an ice bucket. “The incident you’re probably referring to was an open air show in Stockholm,” clarifies Scott. “It was pissing with rain, 15,000 fans were angry that the show was cancelled and because there were no curtains on the dressing room window we smeared some guacamole over a pane. It was also reported that we took a shit into a fucking piano… that would’ve been really stupid. But afterwards we couldn’t get a hotel in Stockholm for more than two years.”
Sensibly, Scott does not attempt to deny that there were other moments of excess. “I personally couldn’t drink and take drugs, so it was one or the other,” he explains. “There are now only two of us left [alive], so I shouldn’t need to add too much to that fact. But we definitely lived the life. Rarely a week went by without Brian being in the press for something or other.”
"Pete Townshend invited Sweet to open for The Who"
In his autobiography Are You Ready, Steve, Priest portrays himself to be something of a serial shagger. So what would be the most people that Andy ever shared a bed with? “Ha ha… my prowess wasn’t in that department,” he grins. “You should be asking that to MT or BC, the two that aren’t here.”
With kudos for their talents a rare commodity in Britain, the rock world was astonished when Pete Townshend personally invited Sweet to open for The Who at an open-air show at The Valley in south London. Alas, in one of those exploits that Scott previously alluded to, Connolly was then beaten up outside an Uxbridge nightclub. Brian had exited the club to find some youths dancing on top of his Mercedes, and upon confronting them received several kicks in the throat. While the rest of the band were sympathetic to his injury, which resulted in them cancelling their big break, they nevertheless felt that one of the most famous faces of 1974 had put himself in an unnecessary position. “Brian had apparently smiled at and been talking to this guy’s girlfriend,” explains Andy.
Some say that Connolly’s voice was never the same again, a possibility that Scott refuses to dismiss. “I’ve never heard a range drop as drastically,” he sighs. “There was no way he could get anywhere near Set Me Free when we began to tour America.” Sweet attempted to crack the States to promote 1976’s Give Us A Wink album with a 50-date US tour, but once on US soil they found themselves promoting material that was 18 months old. Ballroom Blitz, out in 1973 at home, had emerged in the middle of ’75 Stateside and Capitol Records opted to issue an amalgam of Sweet Fanny Adams and Desolation Boulevard, under the latter’s title.

Support for The Sweet was Back Street Crawler
On the US tour’s closing night at Santa Monica Civic, Sweet were joined onstage by Ritchie Blackmore. Back Street Crawler had been the advertised support act, though just 24 hours earlier Paul Kossoff had died. “I hope that if Paul was watching, he didn’t think it too disrespectful that at the end of the show, a six-foot dick [stage prop] came swinging down from the ceiling, spraying the audience with confetti,” related Priest. “It was a realistic looking affair, with all the attributes of the male appendage. It was huge, with coloured veins and a subtle 1,000-watt bulb inside.”
Sweet were still making great albums and scoring hit singles. Give Us A Wink featured Action, later covered by both Def Leppard and Scorpions, and The Lies In Your Eyes, though they reached just 15 and 35 respectively. The graffiti on the record’s sleeve also bears the legend: “Queen are a bunch of winkers”. The track Yesterday’s Rain described an encounter with a hooker (“She gave me love for a fiver/Up to my balls inside her”), further proof not only of the quartet’s salacious underbelly, but also that they were leaving the singles market behind.
Sure enough, Fever Of Love and Los Angels both vanished without trace from the next album, Off The Record, and with their attempt to become an album’s band foundering, Sweet were in serious danger of falling apart. “There was a certain indifference in our attitude while we were recording,” admitted Scott in an interview shortly afterwards. “I think what was missing was honesty.”

Perhaps addressing Scott’s admission that “Brian’s vocals were no longer all they could have been”, Andy and Steve shared the singing with Connolly on their band’s first album for new label, Polydor. An incredible 300 bottles of wine were consumed in just a month upon decamping to Clearwell Castle to record the Level Headed album. Their inner circle all knew that Connolly had been drinking too much since the mid-70s. But by the time, his alcoholism had almost completely ostracised him from the rest of the group, and he took up residence in a separate area of the castle.
Brian had been telling anybody who would listen of a plan to jump from his bedroom window, and land fully unscathed some fifty feet below. No attention was paid until a night when the band and crew were eating. After a series of loud bangs and crashes – one of which resulted when he thudded from the roof of the mobile recording studio – Brian limped into the room and proudly boasted: “See, I told you I could fucking do it.” The incident earned Connolly the nickname of Spiderman.
Brian’s depreciation also caused him to return to the sessions from a weekend at home armed with a shotgun. From his window he proceeded to take potshots into the bird sanctuary behind Clearwell – over the heads of his incredulous band-mates who at the time were playing cricket. Describing the band’s stay at Clearwell, Priest later commented: “After downing up to a dozen bottles of wine at dinner, we would rush to the pub and imbibe some of the local brew. The rest of the evening was spent fornicating.”
Against all the odds, Level Headed turned out to be a fine, adventurous album when issued in 1978. Happier still, Love Is Like Oxygen provided Sweet with their first Top Ten hit in three years. “The verses in Oxygen…, the ones that Brian sang, were some of the best he’d done in years,” says Scott.

"Cocaine was beginning to ruin our lives"
 Buoyed by their return to the charts though sensing the last chance saloon was looming, Sweet undertook another US tour. With hindsight, it said plenty that JJ Cale’s Cocaine had been introduced into the set. Priest and Tucker had discovered the drug while recording Give Us A Wink in Munich, but by the time of Off The Record as Steve admits: “It was beginning to run our lives.”
By this point Sweet had recruited second guitarist Nico Ramsen and keyboard player Gary Moberly, and with Priest and Scott handling more and more of the vocals, Connolly often had nothing to do onstage. However, this was no excuse for his behaviour in America, where the band were supporting labelmate Bob Seger. A deposition from Capitol Records flew to check up on their charges in Birmingham, Alabama, and returned to their bosses with absolute horror.
“Brian had absolutely no idea where or who he was,” related Priest in his book. “It looked like he had taken some serious downers. The show had to go on, but I wished it hadn’t. We struggled through Love Is Like Oxygen, but eventually had to call it a day and left the stage.”
“Being drunk onstage in front of 20,000 people was the final straw,” agrees Scott sadly. “Brian was dragged off after one song, and Ed Leffler [US manager] was still shouting at him an hour later.”

"Connolly due to be replaced by Ronnie James Dio"
The next couple of shows proceeded well enough, but in Atlanta the same problems emerged. With Scott lobbying the band to sack Connolly and appoint former Rainbow frontman Ronnie James Dio in his place, Brian vowed to behave and somehow scraped through the dates, but invaluable options to extend their touring in the US had to be declined. Bridges with Capitol were unceremoniously burned. Back home, the singer tried and failed to dry out, and after the band tried to begin work on a new studio album he was given the ultimatum of quitting with a semblance of dignity or being dismissed. In February 1979, he accepted the former option, claiming to have been planning a solo career for three years.
Although Andy says he “definitely spoke to Ronnie Dio” about replacing Connolly and received positive interest, Sweet eventually elected to continue with Priest and Scott doubling up on vocals. The trio’s debut offering, Cut Above The Rest, continued their creative growth. More mature than previous albums, songs like Play All Night and the anti-dance music diatribe DiscoPhony retained much of the original group’s charisma, but Polydor showed precious little enthusiasm in promoting them as a trio. Although Steve Priest somewhat uncharitably said that it “sucked”, 1980s Water’s Edge was another excellent collection of songs, though again there were neither adverts nor live appearances. And with Steve relocating to live in New York and Mick Tucker attempting to pick himself up after his wife Pauline was found dead in the bath, things looked bleaker still.

Just as their fans were giving up hope, the three-piece Sweet played an incredible comeback gig at London’s Lyceum in January of 1981. An unknown act called Duran Duran were billed as support, though for unknown reasons they pulled out. Besides playing all their hits, two new numbers were previewed. One of these, Identity Crisis, was sung by Priest with all the schizophrenic affectation at his command, and was pure vintage Sweet. Such was the impact generated by the Lyceum show that a dozen more UK shows were quickly arranged, though it was all in vain when Polydor only released the Identity Crisis album in Germany.
The UK tour had sold well, but at a show in Nottingham a disturbance ensued that involved a youth, Andy Scott and an wanted pint of beer, which resulted in the guitarist storming from the stage. Priest later commented: “Mick and myself had to busk for 20 minutes before Her Royal Highness would return. It was not the first time, but it was definitely the last. I felt that we made three very creditable albums after Brian left,” Scott reflects. “But of course it was never gonna be the same. The Lyceum show was incredible and we could have turned things around, but because the record company were dragging their heels we never managed to capitalise upon it.”
"Scott produced for Iron Maiden"
Sweet finally bowed to the inevitable. Besides releasing several solo singles, Scott moved into production, becoming involved with Iron Maiden in their earliest stages. However, interest in 1984s Cherry Red Record compilation Sweet 16… It’s It’s… Sweet’s Hits and a 12” Disco Club Megamix of the singles Blockbuster, Fox On The Run, Teenage Rampage, Hell Raiser and Ballroom Blitz almost succeeded in reuniting the classic line-up. The situation had become unworkable.
Kevin Smith, a long-time Sweet fan who ended up becoming their tour manager from between 1983-1996, has his own theory about why they never fulfilled their immense potential. “They had absolutely no qualms in telling people to fuck off, even if things were being done for their benefit,” he says. “In the early days there was a controversy at Top Of The Pops when they turned up wearing jackets with ‘Fuck You’ and ‘Bollocks’ written on the back. The cameras just shot them from the front, but they weren’t invited back onto the show for several weeks, despite their single selling well.”

"Reformed Sweet to feature Maiden, Heep and Weapon members"
At around the same time that Connolly resurfaced with his New Sweet, Andy was assembling his own Sweet line-up. According to Kevin Smith, Steve Priest had even “made noises about re-joining” a grouping that featured Tucker, plus former Iron Maiden frontman Paul Mario Day and future Uriah Heep keyboard player Phil Lanzon. Promo photographs were even taken with Priest supposedly featured ‘live from New York’ on a TV screen, though eventually they had to settle for ex-Weapon bassist Mal McNulty instead. But the reunion would not last.
Things reached a nadir when a prime time TV documentary followed Connolly as he played a show at a holiday camp. For those who recalled the band at their peak, it was painfully tragic viewing. Brian hobbled to the stage, seemingly oblivious to the small children that were mocking him in the background. Indeed, the show made such an impression upon Scott that he phoned Connolly afterwards.
“Brian was understandably livid because he’d been ill and his backing band had played a gig as The Sweet without him,” he states. “I told him the only solution to everybody’s problems was for him to come and play some gigs with my band. We’d play the first half of the set and he’d come on for the last part. He was really into the idea.” Scott’s call was made around Christmas of 1996, but by the following February Connolly’s illness had worsened and he died. A stroke had led to liver failure. Members of Queen, Def Leppard and Slade all paid tribute to the singer, with Ritchie Blackmore commenting: “He was a great singer and a fantastic man.”
“I still have great memories of Brian, and without warning sometimes they still make me laugh out loud,” says Andy. “Things like the hotel receptionist calling our tour manager and asking to retrieve him from a corridor, where he’d been found spread-eagled and bollock naked. He’d mistaken a pot-plant for his bathroom door, peed on it, and passed out.”
Equally tragically, Mick Tucker succumbed to complications related to the leukemia he had been suffering from for five years. “Mick had had his own problems with alcohol; generally with the lifestyle,” offers Scott now. “It amazes me how are Aerosmith and the Rolling Stones are still out there doing it? Compared to bands like those, we were novices.”
Despite the occasional niggle expressed in this article and Steve’s reluctance to tour, don’t be surprised if Scott and Priest work together again someday. Confides Andy: “At Mick’s funeral I told him, ‘The next one of these could be yours or mine, let’s not wait till then’. There’s life in the old dogs yet, and we are working on project together.”

For the moment, Scott has his hands full with his own Sweet activities. Last year, his latest incarnation of the band (bassist/lead singer Jeff Brown, guitarist/keyboard player Steve Grant and drummer Bruce Bisland) released Sweetlife, a marvellous slice of melodic, anthemic pomp rock that somehow managed to slip under the world’s collective radar, and a UK tour beckons in the early part of 2003. The current Sweet are also about to issue Chronology, a re-recorded collection of the band’s best songs. Even with 30 million records sold, and with Ballroom Blitz having re-entered people’s consciousness via Wayne’s World, Andy Scott is aware that there are many brick walls ahead, but he’s determined to overcome them.
“When we go on the road we frighten people. Like the original band, everybody now sings,” he says proudly. “We can re-create all the old stuff as well as the things from Sweetlife. The nostalgia tag simply does not bother us, we’re happy to play music from all eras of the band… even some of the stuff like Funny Funny and Co-Co that we didn’t do for a while. Musically, The Sweet always kept the fans guessing. There definitely aren’t many other bands that have had careers like ours.”
By Dave Ling (Classic Rock)


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Interesting quote from dj Kid Jensen on today's (10th) Sky News. He is now suffering considerably from Parkinson's Disease.
"Scientists are now becoming the new Beatles."


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At last - some local news (hats thrown in the air, blast of trumpets, roll of drums . . .)

This concerns the release of
"Norrthumbrian and Proud", an album that was recorded and produced during lockdown 2020.

It was conceived and put together by local musicians, with lyrics by Jackie Davidson who sings about his memories of Northumberland. It's described as "a mix of rock, pop, folk and blues-penned tunes." Produced by Steve Coates at Red Tape music, the album is now for sale online for a total price of £9.50 which includes postage and packing.

There are two ways to pay: by Paypal to Idavidson1@sky.com, click 'sending to a friend'. (Riffs recommends you use that email first to contact Jackie just to check you have the correct address); or by bank transfer using: Mr J. Davidson   sort code 60-08-45    acc 73365009.  And please remember to forward Jackie your full postal address.

If you want a snippet from the album then YouTube have three videos available; 'Our River North Tyne', 'Tynedale Boy Soldiers' and 'We Are Northumbrians'.



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Why I ❤️ Led Zeppelin's debut album

by
Budgie's Burke Shelley
The first listen of which was “an experience that can never be beaten”.
"I heard Led Zeppelin for the first time on John Peel’s Saturday afternoon radio show, and was so shaken up that I had to buy their debut album.
I loved the way they riffed along, propelled by John Bonham’s incredibly tight drumming. But what struck me most about the Led Zeppelin album was Robert Plant’s voice. They used it as more of an extra instrument than just somebody singing. There are a lot of gaps in the band’s music, but they whack on the delay and use them perfectly.
Led Zeppelin may be old, but certain albums will always stand the test of time. A song like Communication Breakdown lasts alongside any contemporary rock music.
I suppose if you wanted to pick a few technical holes then that’s possible; it was recorded in 36 hours, after all. I was never a great fan of the band’s lyrics – Robert sometimes sang ‘Baby, baby, baby’ or ‘Oh woman’ too often – but it didn’t matter.
Two years later, when Budgie’s self-titled debut album was released, some critics likened us to Black Sabbath and Grand Funk Railroad. Without being disparaging, those comparisons were both completely inaccurate. But we were proud to have been influenced by Led Zeppelin. Although we didn’t have anything like that voice, we were already riffing away ourselves.
Some of the tracks on Led Zeppelin sounded like they were being jammed, but there’s a real magic in that. Good Times Bad Times is the perfect way to kick off an album; and I prefer the studio version of Dazed And Confused to the live one on The Song Remains The Same.
I also like what they did with Willie Dixon’s You Shook Me, although their electrified versions of Chicago blues songs caused some to accuse them of plagiarism. To me, that was complete rubbish. Zeppelin were covering songs by artists whose time had gone, bringing them new respect. No way did any of their treatment of those songs sound like black Delta bluesmen.
Some of my all-time favourite Zeppelin tracks, like Kashmir and Black Dog, are on other albums, but hearing the band for the first time was an experience that could never be beaten. A bit like your first girlfriend, I suppose.
Led Zeppelin changed everything in rock music. It was an ending to what had gone before and a whole new starting point. Ritchie Blackmore once admitted that after hearing Planty’s voice, Deep Purple had to get rid of Rod Evans and find someone like Ian Gillan who could scream. That, to me, says it all.
"

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Soz everybody peeps but there is just no news coming in................ and, unlike the NME, we don't make it up.

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Over 23 million people in the US now have the Corona Virus.

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Well, here we are, hurtling into 2021 (and by hurtling, I mean crawling miserably). But if there's one positive we can all take from the experience of Covid 19 it's the fact that we've been nursery sloped for the real medical apocalypse we're all about to face; the planet-wide collapse of anti-biotics. Soon, bacterial death will be delivered with no effort on our part at all, from the slightest paper cut or a light case of cystitus, everybody's last words will be . . . "ow".

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"We are Motorhead, and we play Rock 'n' Roll"
R.I.P. Lemmy.


A Christmas Message from Riffs . . . HERE

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Just remember - Covid doesn't give a fuck about Christmas (in common with a lot of us, no doubt).

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Whoever thought that being on your own at Christmas would become such an advantage..........?! 


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Not sure what to get for Chrimbo for your Heavy Rock and Metal friend/relative? This may help . . .

https://loudwire.com/rock-metal-holiday-gift-ideas/

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Local lads STAN have just released their new album. Details . . . https://stan.bandcamp.com/album/love

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The Shaggs, 'Philosophy of the World' (1969)
Made up of sisters Dorothy, Betty and Helen Wiggin, the Shaggs were an obscure power trio that nearly remained in the dustbins of history. Their father, convinced of his children's talents, put them in a recording studio in 1969 to record an LP, 'Philosophy of the World.' Issued on their own Third World label, it immediately went nowhere. In 1980, mega fans Terry Adams and Tom Ardolino of the band NRBQ, convinced Rounder Records to reissue this long-lost work. "Better than the Beatles – even today,” claimed Frank Zappa on the back of the LP sleeve. The title track makes the observation that "the rich people want what the rich peoples want, and the poor people want what the rich peoples want," contrasting fat and skinny, boys with cars and those with motorcycles and so on, before arriving at the conclusion that "you can never please anybody in this world." Later, they ask the existential question, "Who Are Parents?" before giving us the tale of "My Pal Foot Foot." Ultimately, the girls come to terms with this philosophy of the world declaring "We Have a Savior." Not only were their lyrical observations intriguing, but musically, they influenced Sonic Youth and many other indie rock bands with their distinctive guitar tunings.



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If anyone is interested in supporting music venues then this link may be of interest

https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/save-our-venues-red-list




Former Uriah Heep keyboard player Ken Hensley has died at the age of 75.
Hensley wrote several of the London rock band's early tracks, including Easy Livin', Stealin', and Lady in Black - which he also sang on.
He died "peacefully" on Wednesday evening following a short illness, his management confirmed.
Former bandmate Mick Box said his music "will be in people's hearts forever".


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Well, if the area in which I live is a snapshot of the rest of the country, we're in trouble. Many homes around me are still being visited daily by family and friends during this Lockdown - putting the efficacy of these regulations seriously in question. Due to the selfishness of the few, we will either have the Lockdown not being as effective as it should, or the country's stability suffering acutely - with the ensuing closures and redundancies. Who was it that said "There is absolutely no point in having a rule if it cannot be enforced."


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SATURDAY NOVEMBER 7: The US is now on the verge of hitting a truly frightening infection rate of 200,000 per day - that's two hundred thousand human beings becoming infected with Covid 19 every single day.
We must hope that the UK's national lockdown is being observed by each and every one of us.
(Unlike my next door neighbour whose daughter came and picked her up yesterday to take her out for lunch!!).
Lunchtime today: Workers/owners
in a builders' van visiting family at home. Unashamedly parked in full view in the driveway. If you're going to break regulations probably not a good idea to do it with the builders name plastered all over your van!
Is it any wonder we are struggling to combat this virus!!!!!!!!

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There seems to be a lot of people who are finding the Government's advice on this terrible worldwide epidemic ambiguous and confusing. So Riffs would like to help out by not only making it very clear, but even shouting it so it gets through . . .
WASH YOUR HANDS     WEAR A MASK      KEEP 2 METRES AWAY FROM EVERYBODY.


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Over 80% of all Covid infections come from friends or family.


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Lurgy update Sunday November 1:
From Thursday Nov 5 a National Lockdown will be in force.
For details check out the Government website:

https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
To check on rules for your local area check out the BBC website:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-54373904
For more information just access any of the main free News channels. CNN is mainly US election news now; Euronews is good for worldwide news; Sky News is good for across the board; BBC News seems to leave out more than it includes.
And above all: Wash your hands often; wear a mask; and stay 2 metres away from anyone and everyone. Or, of course, you can ignore one or all of these measures and prolong the lockdown well into 2021.....

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CORONA VIRUS UPDATE TODAY SATURDAY OCTOBER 31
America sets world record: highest ever daily infection rate since the virus began.


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CORONA VIRUS UPDATE TODAY THURSDAY OCTOBER 29:
Many countries, including France and Germany going into Lockdown due to 'unprecedented' increase in infections. American scientists now indicating that mask-wearing to become mandatory "or we will suffer the consequences". Also, same scientists saying the country to be nowhere near 'normal' till at least 2022. As for the UK - we're struggling. And yet Taiwan has no - NO - cases; for over 200 days. They put this down to very early track and trace and then immediate isolation.


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PURE FUN AT HARTLEPOOL BEER FESTIVAL
Well it seems it’s happening,
outrageous funsters of Rock Fizzyfish will be closing out Hartlepool Round Table's Beer Festival “Webstival”.

Amongst 30+ hours of bands, including the Electric Sheep on Friday and entertainment, Fizzyfish will be playing two online sets on Halloween from 8:30 – 9:15 and then 10:15 – 11:00.

More details from here https://www.facebook.com/roundtablehartlepool.

They are also endeavouring to get beer packs delivered, probably just in the Hartlepool local area but if you’re interested get in touch with them, all for a great cause. As Alan Fizzyfish told Riffs when asked if any monies are changing hands: "Hell no, we are doing it just for the pure fun of it".




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Corona Virus update Monday 19
: Many countries now adopting the 'circuit breaker' or 'short sharp shock' of a total lockdown for two to three weeks. Wales included. This is looking more and more likely for England as time goes by. Virus infection now reached 40 million worldwide. Some countries seeing a doubling of infections every week.

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There is a petition on behalf of musicians and live music venues which Riffs urges you to sign. Check it out  . . . HERE


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Corona update Sunday 18th: My niece works for M&S and has recently been put on 'door duty'. She says the level of stupidity and ignorance of the public is frightening. She has to practically urge and cajole customers to disinfect their hands; one of whom said "You can't force me to do it". They ignore floor markings which are there purely for their own benefit and often bump into one another. Many do not wear masks and even try to get into an argument with her on why they won't. She was reprimanded the other day when she lost her cool when a customer asked if she had the right to force her (the customer) to wear a mask. My niece replied: "No, I don't, but if you want to be the reason for many people to die by you not social distancing or wearing a mask or disinfecting your hands then you just go ahead".
I despair of people, I really do. Who was it that said: "I like company, I just don't like people".


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(Sat 9.10am) If it wasn't so serious I'd be laughing: Sky News has just shown (live) a meeting of cyclists (forget exactly where) who had ridden in from around the area for a big meet. They were all congregating with no social distancing on a paved area and I didn't see one person wearing a mask. Not one.   And we wonder why we're not beating this virus . . .

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A Fish's Eye View

LIKE MANY BANDS we are sitting around waiting for the latest restriction and whilst we full appreciate the need for controls and safety we also understand the utter frustration that limited freedoms are bringing, especially in this industry!

"We all have to work together to survive"
Avoiding politics….. all we can do is be ready, be as accommodating as we can be to venues who are facing a bleak future in many cases, we all have to work together to survive and we are committed to doing what we can.
"Beer Festival over the internet"
Announcing gigs seems to be a waste of everyone’s energy at times, and we know Hartlepool Round Table are trying to resuscitate their Beer Festival as an online event, it was due to be last weekend but events overtook events, they are now looking at Halloween weekend with us doing a couple of socially distanced sets on Friday 30th broadcast over the interweb.
"We miss being match fit"
Much like your piece from the lads in The Force we miss being match fit and our only gig since March was outside, mainly distanced and was great to be playing again, but we did add in 8 new songs just in case Dr Adrenaline didn’t turn up, but he did, so it was all a bit “without a net”. For the future we are just focussing on people having a good time as bloody hell it’s needed now more than ever!
"Let us in and be noisy"
I know we have a few venues on our remaining bookings list hoping to let us in and be noisy and we hope they can go ahead, we have an open but quite barren 2021 calendar but like I said, our venues have supported us in the past and we will be doing the same going forward because our industry really does need to pull as one as it's clear we are all in “this” together.
Cheers, Alan, Fizzyfish

Fizzyfish will be playing their own brand of chaotic Rock/Pop tonight (Friday) at The Maggie Bank. Tickets on sale at the bar, but give them a call to check if you can just roll up:  0191 312 1407.

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SO . . . WAS IT AS GOOD FOR YOU?
Not sure about anyone else, but I rather like hearing feedback on gigs that have taken place. It's one thing seeing them on the Listings page, but as soon as that gig has been and gone we tend to forget all about it. But what was it like? Were the band any good? Is it a good venue to play?
We all know that difficult question "How was it for you?" And the reply: "Well, it was okay, but I've had far better". Oh, how we laugh about it now . . .

Anyway, these lockdown rules have forced changes in how we go see bands - but how do the bands find gigging now? Thanks to Norman Force we have an insight into that very question.
I won't insult anyone by giving a background on
The Force, suffice to say you don't get to play for as long as they have, in as wide a variety of places, if you're not damn bloody good at it.
I know a few bands (mention them Nige, go on, mention them) who still have the attitude "well, that'll do, it's close enough". Or think that playing on auto won't be noticed by the crowd. How wrong. Phil, Mick, Geordie and Dave are perfectionists and now not only play with an edge that most bands would give their eye-teeth for, but look as though they enjoy it too. (Although a while ago it was pointed out that they looked too serious when on stage - in fact, I think that was . . . er, well, let's move on now . . .)
But I digress, back to good ol' Norm who got in touch with Riffs with an insight into how the band has found playing their last three gigs: Hartlepool Steels Club, The Rose Inn in Wallsend and Thornaby Sports and Leisure.

Hartlepool Steels Club was their first gig back, which consisted of three separate sets: Self penned, then a set of pure Rush, then some Classic Rock. A candid admission by the lads that it wasn't quite that easy getting used to playing together again after a long lay-off. But the big plus was the sell-out audience who were really enjoying themselves, so much so that they had to be reminded that there was no dancing. "Brilliantly organised and marshalled", said Norm. So a big thanks to Tommy Wormald.
The Rose Inn, Wallsend was the band's second gig and, if you remember, the venue has their very own Rock Club so all members are known to the venue. Due to the new, tighter restrictions, there were many punters unable to get in, but those who did were "very vocal and appreciative". As with their previous gig at Steels Club the lads specifically mentioned the organising of the gig "
Brilliantly managed & hosted by Mick & Jilly - who plied the boys with drink and food." Now, this I find to be very important when dealing with bands, as I learnt when Val organised bands for the Earl of Warwick in West Auckland. She always "fed and watered" the band, believing that if the band were happy and content then they played better, punters enjoyed them more, and then bought more beer. Everyone's a winner babe, that's no lie.
Last but certainly not least we have Thornaby Sports and Leisure which had the lads finishing by 9.30pm. Again, The Force played to a full house and did their full three-set performance which "went down well to an appreciative and enthusiastic audience." The band members never feign perfection and readily admit that now, three gigs in, they are feeling "close to being 'gig fit' again"

I'll give Norm the final and candid say on the three gigs:
"
Following the long layoff the band really enjoyed all of the gigs and had really missed it. Playing together they realised that being 'gig fit' takes a while especially with some of the more complex numbers. However, under the new restrictions it did feel strange to have the whole audience sitting and not dancing or right 'in yer face' in front of the stage. But they still get a real buzz out of doing what they do and the reaction it gets."
The next gig by The Force is Saturday 17th at Heaton Buffs - but is now totally sold out. Soz.
Ooops, nearly forgot: I didn't take any of the above pics, they were all supplied by The Force.


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BLACK ROSE GUITARIST REVEALS SHOCK TRUTH
ABOUT NEW ALBUM
These restrictions affect people in so many and varied ways.
On a musical note, completion of the new Black Rose album is now held up. Guitarist Kenny tells Riffs:
"I've got two songs to finish off the guitar solos & fills on, but I can't get round to the studio to finish it until lockdown rules change for the better."


Pic from last year when Kenny (right) and the lads were rockin' at the Bay Horse in Bishop Auckland.

Okay, so it's not headline news, but hardly anything's coming in to Riffs at the mo', so if you've got something slightly more earth-shattering - then let us know...   riffsonline@gmail.com


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Corona update Tuesday 13th:
Scientists are recommending a national and total lockdown (circuit breaker) for at least three weeks to stem the spread of the virus, but the Government is fighting this tooth and nail.
"We are going to have to learn to live with this virus as it is not going away anytime soon" - W.H.O.

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Corona update Sunday 11th:
Heard something very interesting on Sky News: If we ceased all lockdowns and got everyone back to work, we could test every person in the country regularly and it would cost just £2m a month - a fraction of what the current situation is costing the country. The Prime Minister is to make an announcement today regarding further restrictions...


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Corona update Saturday 10th:
W.H.O.: "The spread of the virus is down to a large minority of the public totally ignoring safety recommendations."

It is now being recommended by the BMA that mask wearing will be compulsory in all workplaces and even outside where social distancing is not applicable. Could be announced over the next few days.
A warning:
Covid 19 could be just the start - watch this video (narrated by Stephen Fry) . . .HERE


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"The more contact you have with people, the more likely you are to contact the virus".

Not rocket science, you don't need a weatherman to tell you which way the wind's blowing. Not just that, but we are finding out that survivors are left with organ complications that they will have for the rest of their lives.
900 students confined to a building. Over 100 have tested positive. Hardly any students in the building wearing masks. Are we really surprised the infection rate is growing so quickly?!

Do these three things over and over and over and over again:
WASH YOUR HANDS
WEAR A MASK
KEEP 2 METRES FROM ANYONE
If we'd all have done this from the very beginning we wouldn't be in this mess now.                    Just saying.


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COVID UPDATE TODAY WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 7:
All bars, restaurants and cafes are to close totally from Friday 9th. This is in Scotland only at this time. And Marshals to ensure the use of face masks are now being used in many public buildings. If these restrictions prove effective in controlling the infection rate of the virus then it is likely that the same or similar restrictions may be used in the rest of the UK.

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Eddie Van Halen died today (Tuesday 6th) aged 65. He passed away due to throat cancer.
One of the world's greatest guitarists.

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The World Health Organisation announced today (6th) that they believe ten per cent of the world's poplulation may have been infected with Covid 19. That's around 700 million people. One out of every ten. May be something to bear in mind next time you're in a group of ten or more . . .

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Can anyone watching the various News channels available to us have any doubt about not only the voracity of this virus but also the incompetence of those dealing with it. Only today (5th) we have our very own 'experts' accidentally omitting over 15,000 cases from statistics - which of course means none of these contacts were traced, and President Trump (confined to hospital with the virus) actually leaving the hospital to do a drive around the building waiving to supporters. You couldn't make it up. One prominent doctor exclaimed: "His irresponsibility is outstanding."
And France, as of today, is in lockdown for 14 days.
Focussing on our local situation; don't expect change anytime soon. It's gonna be quite a while before our Metal hunger's fed.

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*I think we need to look no further than the President of America. This is what happens when you dis the virus.

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Any gig that gets cancelled is a big disappointment - for the band, the venue and not least for the punters who are Hungry For Rock. So the Qween lads are doubly disheartened as both their sell-out gigs at the Mayfair Centre in Hartlepool have been cancelled.
However, all is not lost as Rob from the band has been able to re-schedule the gigs at the same venue early next year. Hang on to your tickets as no doubt arrangements will be made regarding those. Rob told Riffs: "
Of course we are devastated that the gigs are not going ahead as planned this year. But our ever-increasing Qween fanbase will be delighted that the gigs are to be rescheduled for next Feb / March 2021 - I will update you with the finalised dates. We have been invited to America next year to do some shows albeit with the current health situation we can only hope that things will get better. To all our loyal Qween fans - dont worry 'The Show Will Go On'."

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Like a lot of people, I have no surprise at the sporadic and local lockdowns we are forced to endure in an attempt to stop the spread of Covid 19. My personal experience is that too many people are totally ignoring the rules - whether it be complacency, ignorance, or they just don't give a shit. Because of these morons the virus has got away from us and we must now suffer because of these idiots*.

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UPDATE TUESDAY SEP 29: There are now just over one million people dead worldwide because of the virus.


Well, not all of us have been wasting our time during Lockdown. Local lads Diablo have been working on their forthcoming album, and Riffs has been given a sneak preview. Have A Lovely Day
https://youtu.be/hs0w7naqc7I


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Up to today, Saturday 26th September, over 32 million people worldwide have been infected with Covid 19.
A curious and interesting fact: From the beginning of the outbreak, If every single one of us washed our hands, wore a mask and observed a 2metre distance, the virus would be totally under control today.

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Corona Virus update Tuesday September 22: All retail and hospitality staff to wear masks. Venues to close at 10pm. In a nutshell this is the very last chance we have got before a total lockdown. Wear a mask, wash your hands, observe social distancing. If we don't  - and we can all see how many people are ignoring these rules - we will inevitably have a total lockdown and the devastating effect that will have. "Complacency will be our undoing."

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Please - don't be a twat
Covid 19 is a world-wide deadly epidemic that has killed many thousands, hospitalised hundreds and hundreds of thousands - and this misery and heartache has affected everyone around them from mothers, daughters, fathers, brothers etc and their many friends. Bands in the North-East have acted magnificently, and venues have bent over backwards to accommodate the ever-changing restrictions and rules. But Riffs has heard of morons attending live gigs making a fuss about what they are required to do. So please, please, if you enter a venue and find yourself being just a tad put out by these safety measures, don't be a twat. Feel for the people so much worse off than you who don't even have the opportunity to get out. Or the people grieving, or the people who are house bound. And feel for the venues who are having to walk a ridiculously fine line between sticking to the Government regulations but desperately trying to stay in business. Wear a mask, wash your hands often (soap destroys the protective coating of the virus and then the virus dies quickly) and go along with what you are asked to do. And then, perhaps, we may survive this horror until a vaccine is available for mass distribution (some time early next year with fingers crossed). So by all means enjoy yourself, but spare a thought for the people who are unable to do so............


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SUPPORT OUR LADS AS THEY ENTER BATTLE
There's been some cancellations and start times amended for this weekend.
Both the gigs for High Howden Social Club have been cancelled (so no Shannon or London Calling), but David from the club hopes to have 'some sort of compromise' for the following weekend. Tubesnake for Friday cancelled.
Both Force gigs have been cancelled, but as Norm Force informs us (don't know where those lads would be without you Norm): "Both were sold out and both venues (Steels Club and Easington Colliery Club) have said tickets will remain valid for the next Force gigs at the venues (in Steels case 18th December and Easington 28th November)".
And a slight amend to the Overdrive gig this Sunday from 7.45 to the earlier time of 7pm.
It's very satisfying to know that there is a hardcore of Rock bands that bravely lead the vanguard
on behalf of us all against this wicked virus . Michael Overdrive stoutly proclaims: "We will wield the sword and fly the flag till the bitter end !!"


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CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: There will be an announcement today (17th) by the Health Secretary concerning the lockdown of the North East of England from midnight tonight due to a significant rise in cases. It is possible that many gigs may still go ahead but early closing is likely so we strongly suggest you contact the venue for details. We will update today with further details.......... Mind you, it's worth noting that if everyone in the area stuck to the rules (mask, and 2 metre distancing) then we would not be facing a lockdown.

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 Just to clarify the Government's recommendations which may affect live gigs. The rule of six stands. However, "Training, Education, and Covid-secure venues or establishments are exempt."

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With reference to the statement from the Prime Minister today, Wednesday September 9, concerning the maximum number of people allowed to congregate. If you are in any doubt whatsoever about a gig taking place please contact the venue directly for detailed information.

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The poster tells all, but Riffs has just added two gigs in October featuring quite a few well known North East musicians who have got together to form AIR4CE, paying tribute to the one and only Ginger Baker - music from Cream, Blind Faith, Air Force, and more of Ginger's solo work and collaborations.

Saturday 17th October at Redcar Blues Club

Saturday 24th October at Platform 1, Bedlington

Both fantastic venues who are doing everything possible to promote great live music in these 'strange times'. Mind you, we're not sure where 'Recar Blues Club' is!!

For further details, or to book tickets, contact air4ce2020@gmail.com.

Oh, and if you want to see the drummer from Air4ce - Tom Atkinson - before these gigs, then nip along to the Tuns in Gateshead this Friday (11th) where he will be doing an acoustic session and quite definitely, no way, not on this Earth, not in a million years, not a hope in Hell will he be doing anything from Ginger Baker's massive back catalogue where he can pick from Cream, Blind Faith, Ginger Baker's Air Force - although he does concede the number one rule of a live gig is ya gotta send your punters home happy...............


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Rockin' at The Rose

The Rose Inn, Wallsend has taken a novel approach to gigs: As they are limited to only 30 persons because of current distancing guidelines they have initiated a private Rock Club. Members get first refusal to attend, so there's no entry to strangers or pay on the door, and the venue knows everyone who is attending. So basically it's 'sold out' as soon as the gig is announced. Seems strange at first but the longer I think about it, the more logical it seems. So The Force gig there on Friday October 9th is sold out. Straight away. Full house. I imagine it makes for a very friendly and comfortable - and relaxed - atmosphere. [Until the guys take to the stage and raise the bloody roof].

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WHAT'S BETTER THAN A WHOLE NIGHT OF QUEEN?
TWO WHOLE NIGHTS OF QUEEN!!

Any Queen fans who missed out with the near-instantaneous sell out of the
Qween gig on Saturday October 10 in Hartlepool need cry no more, as the venue have given the band chance for a second gig - and it is the very evening before (that's the 9th if you're too excited at the news that you can't work it out). So the lads are gearing themselves up for two consecutive nights at the 'pool where mothers will be tied, magic will be made, and no doubt there will be some girls with rather fat bottoms....








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I was just about to have a Riffs whinge about nobody sending in any News - anything to cheer up the Rock-going public; and then in pops this totally live recording by FM from their recent gig at The Turf in Consett. Riffs was rather more than just a tad impressed with this. Just goes to show why FM is one of the North-East's most trusted and reliable bands for a bloody good rockin' night. "I think it sums up just where everyone is with live music at this moment" explains Dave from the band. To listen to the track just click . . . HERE

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Bloody hell - if it's not Covid putting the kybosh on things it's the damn weather. My heart goes out to bands and venues who, at long last, thought we could re-introduce some much-needed Rock. The venues have been outstanding in their efforts - and the bands are itching to get those riffs a-rockin'. This time last year it was an average of 25 degrees. One step forward and two steps back; but we WILL get there.


"We've found something . . . something in the ice"

To be honest, not heard much about local lads
Fossil - well, not until today (Tues) when a snippet of info came Riffs way. We understand the band includes Rich Manley-Reeve who was in (and most likely formed) a Thin Lizzy covers band, Tyne Lizzy from way back. Fossil are playing at Steels Club on Sat 19th September. We hear from a very reliable source who actually booked Tyne Lizzy a few times . . . well, I'll give you the exact quote that we got: "Rich is a solid, switched on guy and an excellent guitar player. If he's involved it'll be a tight, well-rehearsed gig."  [pic taken at Murton, not by Riffs - was in our file but God knows where we got it from!]

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I'M SO EXCITED - AND I JUST CAN'T HIDE IT
Rock in the North East just wouldn't feel right if THE FORCE wasn't involved so check out the Listings Page as we have just added four Force gigs. Mind you, I had to admonish Norm Force for typing the venue names in all caps. How soon we forget! "I just got so excited that I blasted them to you from our website" explained Norm.

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And a follow up to the
Newcastle Buffs gigs as Robert explains the set up from now on:
"As you can see we are back up and running and we can't wait until we open the concert room doors once again on 29th August. We have been inundated with questions since we announced the first date, when The Pre-Amp finally make their debut at The Heaton Buffs. We have decided NOT to make these gigs ticket only. We are very lucky to such a large concert room and feel we can accommodate the vast majority who wish to attend. Our concert room held about 250 before the lockdown, now we believe we can safely seat 120 with strict social distancing in place.
We have set seats out in 2s, 4s, 6s & 8s, when you arrive at the club there will be a chaperone at the door, simply tell him how many are in your group (bubble) and he'll show you to a suitable table.
All are welcome at the club, you don't have to be a member and, its not compulsory to play bingo......yet 😉
Oh, and we've also reduced the price of beer 🍺 "
http://www.heatonbuffs.com



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Looks like live music is under threat at The Schooner in Gateshead. Recently bought by Paul Tuns (of The Three Tuns), he has been busting a gut to get live Rock and Punk running at The Schooner, but a spanner may just have been thrust into the works. Full story which appeared in the Chronicle here. [thanks to UK/DC for bringing this story to Riffs' attention].

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Another entry for this weekend - Saturday 22nd in the Beer Garden at the Mallard in Seaham. An acoustic act by The Missing Cats Duo. It all kicks off at 7.30pm. Be there or be square (yeah, still got it, down with the kids).

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Iron Maiden and Rush’s Geddy Lee have joined the flood of tributes to legendary
UFO and Waysted bassist Pete Way, who died on Friday (14th August) aged 69. Pete Way’s untimely death came just two months after the passing of his UFO and Waysted band mate Paul ‘Tonka’ Chapman, and 16 months after UFO guitarist and keyboardist Paul Raymond’s death. Testament to his revered status in the rock world, numerous musicians have paid tribute to Pete Way including Michael Schenker, Metallica’s Kirk Hammett, Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott, Black Sabbath’s Geezer Butler, Sons of Apollo’s Mike Portnoy and Motley Crue’s Nikki Sixx

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AC/DC POP IN FOR MALLARD MINI-FEST - AS IF!
A sharp eyed Riffs reader emailed furiously to point out that it is highly unlikely that the Mini-Fest at the Mallard in Seaham on Sunday August 30 has AC/DC on the bill. Well, you do hear about mega bands playing little gigs . . . but just me hitting the wrong keys again I'm afraid. It is, of course -
UK/DC. Bon commented: "I know we're good, but we're not there yet. We're much younger too!". Feather in Bon's cap for checking (but all the bands do that - don't you?!!). And speaking of UK/DC, their last minute inclusion for the Schooner this Sunday is now a last minute EXclusion, as it is off. Cancelled, finito, expunged, it is no more. It is an ex gig. Paul Schooner put this down to "objections/problems with the local council". Make of that what you will. Mind you, still waiting for Paul to let Riffs know . . .

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And another one popped in - it's
OVERDRIVE, adding to their gig at St Peters Social in Newcastle on Sunday Sep 20, they now have one at Trimmers Arms in South Shields for Friday Sep 25. Once hailed as 'Riffs most hard working band' the lads are just happy to be out and gigging. Michael from the band told Riffs: "List's a little shorter than usual but I'm counting everything and anything as a blessing. Big thanks as always."

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IT'S A LONG WAY - BUT WE'RE GETTING THERE
You can now treat yourself to a bit of Heavy Metal this Sunday (23rd) at 5.45pm with the strains of young Bon belting out the classic era AC/DC, courtesy of local lads
UK/DC.

Get along to the Schooner in Gateshead for an outdoor treat.

Tickets from venue. They will all go I have no doubt so get along and snap yours up toot suite (think that means quick or straight away, it's French - hands across the water and all that. We're pretty sophisticated here at Riffs Towers, we've got nothing against those cheese-eating surrender monkeys)..




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Now this is what we like to shout about - another venue dipping their toes into the live music water. So a big welcome back to Platform One in Bedlington. Two gigs booked:
MULHOLLAND DRIVE Friday Sep 4; WEST COAST BAND Friday Sep 11 and BIG RIVER Friday Sep 18. Details of times and prices on the Listings page. [pic not taken by Riffs; of Mulholland Drive - somewhere]

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Hot on the heels of The Turf in Consett opening with North-East stalwarts of Classic Rock FM this Friday (21), we now have St Peters Social in Newcastle opening with this Sunday the renowned 101. It's ticket only (from the venue) and start time is 7.45pm and finish will be around 10pm. Tony is happy to point out that future gigs will be in the bar not the Concert room which, as he explains, the bands should be happy about as there are no stairs to battle with. And he adds "no bingo, no quizzes - just great live music". Ahh, a man after my own heart. "Any bands already booked between now and start of 2021 will have there gigs honoured, if able, empty slots I will try to fill with those that have had cancelled gigs." In these difficult times, no-shows can be quite disastrous for an already struggling venue and Tony has come with a novel way of limiting no-shows. He explains: "I have limited seats available (no standing) to assist social distancing so gigs will require tickets to gain entry, priced at £5.00 - this will be returned at door with £5.00 worth of drinks tokens. I will contact all bands with gigs to confirm situation and their booking."
And from now on please take it that social distancing is in operation whether we mention it or not because - some of you may have noticed - we are in the midst of a world-wide pandemic, so don't complain if you are just a tad put out.

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We've just heard that The Turf in Consett is opening today (Tuesday) and their first band on is rockers
FM for this FRIDAY 21st at 9pm. Social Distancing rules apply.
FM also played at the second Rose Inn mini-fest. And did you know that FM supplied staging, lighting and 20k rig for the two mini festivals at the Rose Inn Wallsend? Both days were a huge success and they are available to offer their services as long as the weather window for outdoor events continues. Contact Dave or Steve and all your outdoor gig concerns will be sorted:
Dave Johnstone 07841 340986. Steve 07488 284905.

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Mega kudos to Michelle from Usworth and Washington Gardeners Club, Industrial Rd Washington who are dipping their toes into the 'new normal' with three nights of live entertainment - Friday 21, Sat 22, Sun 23. Just to see how it goes, so get along and support the brave ones (that's not a band, you understand, it's those who are . . . well, you get the gist). It should go without saying (and a lot of people have said that about me) but all social distancing rules will be strictly followed - we don't want to be thrust into lockdown. So please be compliant. Details about those three nights are on our Listings page.

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Slowly but inexorably the gigs are dropping in - this time it's those whacky funsters
FIZZYFISH, who have snapped up a gig in the Beer Garden at Hornseys Bar, Seaton Carew. It's on Saturday September 5 with a 7.30pm start, and to say the Fizzies are looking forward to it is a tad of an understatement. Vocalist and 'chief entertainer' Alan told Riffs: "We are changing tack again especially as the scene will naturally be more competitive so we are going back to majoring on higher energy well known songs; it’s still fairly rocky, but we are including some more indie and fun stuff. People have had too much misery of late, they don’t want a po-faced band surely? We are entertainers - or at least we try." Alan did include a quite exhaustive list of all the bands they cover. Suffice to say I'm not exaggerating when I say whatever band you like - Fizzyfish cover a song by them!   [above is a recent pic supplied by the band]
So just a reminder of the band: this is a Riffs review and some pics from a gig they did at Bishop Auckland's Grand Hotel way way back . . . er last year. But to kick off I have included a review of the band from 2006 done by Colin Smoult - all pictures by Riffs.

        
        

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Back to 2009 for a brief reprise of
Bad Reputation at The Hearts of Oak.
        
           


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This is your lot then, no more previously unused pics of Val with bands (well, not the ones suitable for publication - let's leave the lass with the microscopic amount of dignity she may have left). These are the last -
Powerage, KooKooNauts and Witchkraft. I'd much rather post news of what local bands are up to - as little as it may be - but if nothing comes in then I'll find some pics to post from Riffs archives...
        

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No more news from bands coming in to Riffs towers, so we continue with our Powerage theme with pics backstage at their Newcastle City Hall gig and other nefarious places, and talking of nefarious, all gigs feature Riffs regular shrinking Violet.

        
        

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NOW CONCLUDED
URGENT FOR TONIGHT (Friday) AT THE SCHOONER, GATESHEAD. THEY NEED AN ACOUSTIC ACT. Call
0191 4777404. [If you get the gig please let us know so we can advertise it and also save wasted calls].

 

Queen tribute WE ARE CHAMPION now have gigs lined up for August - all of which are now on our Listings page. But for at-a-glance ease they have kindly supplied a photo with all of their current gigs. Even with the restrictions, they are still putting on a full show. Paul from the band told Riffs: "Things can't go on like this as these gigs are so expensive to put on due to limited capacity and extra expenses that everybody involved from the band, the crew, promoters and the venues are doing it at a vastly reduced fee. Indoor gigs may be impossible for a long while yet due to costs of putting on a show to such small audiences being non-viable. It really is a desperate time but we hope you can come out and support these few gigs and have some kind of summer and fingers crossed we can be back properly sooner rather than later."
Paul also supplied a link to a video the band did during lockdown -

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1ivOAY67dI
 

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THE SCHOONER IN FULL SAIL
You know things are shifting when Paul Tuns is at the helm; The Schooner in Gateshead is now up and running with live bands. He has been verbally slapped for not getting this info to his favourite online magazine sooner! Little tinker. Live music tonight (yes, that's Friday 7th) with Taylor Payne, then Saturday they have THE WHODLUMS and RIGID DIGITS. Queen cover band WE ARE CHAMPION for Sunday is now completely sold out. check out The Schooner's gigs on our Listings page.  [Both pics Rigid Digits by yours truly]


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UK/DC STEP IN LAST MINUTE

And for those of you who have got out of the habit of checking the Listings page . . .
This Sunday (9th), those electrically charged Rockers UK/DC are setting Hartlepool alight in the Beer Garden of the Steelworks Club, Westbourne Rd, Hartlepool TS25 5RB. Stepping in to help out when a band cancelled, Rock n Roll Singer Patrick from UK/DC told Riffs: "
Enjoyed watching Giroscope play there last weekend and it attracts a really appreciate rock crowd". For this gig the band have Jimbo Jordan from The Beatles Unplugged joining them. Patrick continued: "We've got a "Starr" performer on drums for tonight. No rain forecast, cheap beer, looking forward to the gig!" Band on stage 5.30pm. It's a cover charge and first come first served so all we can say is - be soon!
[Oh, forgot yet again, I didn't take the above pic, it came in courtesy of The Seaham Silverback]

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The Mallard mini fest for Sunday August 30 is NOW FULLY SOLD OUT



The Rose Inn (Wallsend) Mini Rock Festival Part - 2
Happening this weekend Saturday 8th Aug. Due to the enormous sell out for the first one on the first of this month, a second festival has now been planned.

Doors 2pm
4pm-5pm TBC
5.15pm- 6.15pm SKULLDUGGERY
6.30pm - 7.30pm WHITCHKRAFT
7.45pm - 8.45pm GIROSCOPE
9pm - 10pm LITTLE DEVIL

Tickets are available on the bar on a first-come first-served basis. Open every day from noon except Mondays.
Further info 07922 379475 or message the venue.
The venue explains: "We are interested in groups of six, as we cannot have just two people at a table. Track and trace will be in operation and temperatures will be taken upon arrival.
Government guidelines are being observed so please be aware of this as details will need to be taken when buying tickets."

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Well, you were warned. All these pics - apart from including Riffs chief harlot - have one thing in common; Powerage. One of the best Bon Scott era AC/DC cover bands. Ever. Oh, and Brian Johnson makes an appearance too.
        
        

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Well, we've had some brilliant news recently concerning live gigs - let's keep it up. Come on bands, tell us your excitement, your trepidations, your concerns about venturing back out in this new Covid world. If we have no news then it's gonna mean me uploading more pics of Candy Creampie with bands. This is a respectable site so let's keep it that way..............


SHEEEEEEER HEART ATTACK!
It may be more than two full months away, but we desperately need light at the end of our musical tunnel.
We've had the Wallsend mini-fest, we've got The Force this month on the 9th, The Mallard 'Rock the Lockout' on the 30th (and there may be even more that Riffs has not been informed of ['surely not' I hear you say as one]), and now we have a gig for October featuring Queen tribute - QWEEN.


It's on Saturday 10th Oct at The Mayfair Centre, Tees Road, Hartlepool TS25 1DE,   01429 861230.
Tickets are £10 from venue or c/o Andy Husband Promotions - (Billy West’s Qween Live https://facebook.com/events/s/qween-live/612568952843761/?ti=icl ) doors open 7pm.
Rob from the band told Riffs: "We are so excited to be back on the scene. The show will be spectacular in every sense of the word and tickets are selling fast!"
Oops, forgot to say, pics supplied by Qween.

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HUNGRY FOR ROCK
"It makes me scream, it makes me wanna get up and shout"

Hardly minutes passed since I posted the below pics of The Carnival et al, when in pops an email concerning
yesterday's mini-fest at Wallsend featuring TRILOGY, FM, THE WHODLUMS, FOSSIL, ASSASSIN and headliners UK/DC. (above pic from yesterday's gig courtesy UK/DC). And it was 'Bon' from UK/DC who reports that the day not only went well, but the crowd greedily lapped up every morsel of Rock on offer. So much so that poor ol' Bon was suffering this morning. "Great to be out and about playing to a "live" audience and they were certainly lively by the time we went on! Got a bit of a croaky voice this morning . . . nothing prepares you for the full-on onslaught."
Glutton for punishment the band must be as they are reprising their full-on rockin' set at the end of this month (Sunday 30th) at the Mallard in Seaham - another mini-fest, this time in support of Northumbria Blood Bikes. See poster.
https://www.facebook.com/events/1219387091743308/
UK/DC Bon also reports that The Schooner in Gateshead seems to be edging towards regular live music nights too. One to keep an eye out for....


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The first three pics are of the magnificent 'Carnival', the guitarists of whom battled it out on top of the bar at the venue - to the utter surprise of the staff - when myself and the Terrible Twosome journied sarf. A brilliant night and a great down-to-earth bunch of lads. But looking at the pics it seems Gina G-string has changed her top . . .
        
        

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UK/DC HEADLINE WALLSEND OPEN AIR MINI-FESTIVAL

The Rose Inn at Wallsend is putting on a mini-festival outdoors on Saturday 1st Aug. It's now completely sold-out.   

3pm - 4pm TRILOGY
4.15pm-5.15pm FM
5.30pm- 6.30pm WHODLUMS
6.45pm - 7.45pm FOSSIL
8pm - 9pm ASSASSIN
9.15pm - 10.15pm UK/DC
Soz for the late info but we were informed only very early this morning! (Friday)

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Hope this Covid nightmare fades out soon - I'm running out of photos!!
        
        

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MISSING CATS - FOUND!!

We are cock-a-hoop to announce another live gig - TODAY - FRIDAY 31st at The Oddfellows Arms, 57 Church Street, Seaham, SR7 7HF. It's only a duo but, let's be honest, a live gig is a live gig and a refreshing change when considering the most exciting thing we can do at present is to sit in a different chair. It's The Missing Cats and they will be playing outdoors from 8pm. More info on the band at http://www.facebook.com/themissingcatsduo . There’s loads of live video, pictures and more information there including a ‘live’ video they did just recently which was streamed as part of The Rosiefest Festival on July 11th as the original event was cancelled due to the current situation. Dave from the band told Riffs exclusively: "They’ve asked us to play there next year too on 3rdJuly - well at least we’ve got something in the diary for 2021!"
And if you're thinking a duo may not quite do it for you, Dave lets on that they usually sneak in some Zep and Sabbath . . .

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Witchkraft at the premier Gateshead music venue, The Three Tuns (pics taken over two gigs).
        
        
        
     

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More pics from the two-day Washington mega gig, day two:
        
        
        
        
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You can only go so long without a Boobarella fix - those milkshakes still bring the boys to the yard . . .
        
        

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In my continuing and desperate attempt to give Riffs readers a reason to log on, I've resurrected some pics that were, for one reason or another, omitted from original reviews but, due to better Photoshop techniques, are now just good enough to upload. So here we go . . . all taken at Washington - day one:
        
        
        

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Never need an excuse to show a truly talented rockin' band. RIOT at The Three Tuns.
        
        

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Another assortment featuring Mandie Milf and North-East musicians, including Cue, Disregard and, last but not least, a pic taken at XXXX Bikers do - I only know this cos I can see the 'Titty-Stamper's' work on those bulging bosoms.
        
        

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Regular emailer James (and arguably Penelope Passion's number one fan) mentions her tightly packed blouse and compliments her on her sartorial choices. She wouldn't deny she was a little overweight, but never seemed to have any issues with clothes - except finding them afterwards.
The first two pics feature a gentleman from Middlesbrough (Tom?) who, if I remember correctly (and please forgive me if I have the details wrong), ran Middlesbrough's premier live music venue, the Ladle, and sadly passed away from cancer (the Ladle is no more and is now blocks of flats). Two pics on the second row are Matrix (Pandora Peaks wouldn't have appreciated the cigarette though - it's not big and it's not clever), next from last is Blueshouse who, incidentally were big, and very clever.

       
        

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An assortment of pics from Gateshead's Three Tuns Battle of the Bands.
        
         
        

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Yet more pics, dug up, cropped, colour corrected and put through Photoshop and uploaded for your delectation. Second pic is one of Candy Cleavage's favourite peeps, Big Al. Second row is two of Dr Sunshine, next five is Disposable Heroes (last three backstage at their City Hall gig), culminating in the final one with 'unknowns'.
        
        
       

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Some pics from Stormin' 07 and some from The Grand in Bishop Auckland.
        
       
           

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WE'RE ROCKIN' AGAIN
Now this is the news that we wanted to hear. Get ready for it - A LIVE GIG!!!
Yep, that's right, a live gig by rockers THE FORCE, to be held at
ROUTE 72 CAFE, The Preserving Works, Shelley Rd, Newburn, Newcastle on Sunday, August 9th. It's outdoors, ticket only and social distancing rules will be enforced.  07808 660433     https://www.facebook.com/route72bar/
And on the off-chance you've forgotten what a rock band looks like here's some pics of Charlotte the harlot with the aforementioned boys and some pics (Riffs of course) from their gig at Newcastle City Hall. Still pics not enough and you crave to see them in action? check 'em out here then.

     
     
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More of the same. Which, incidentally, is what Charlotte the harlot has been heard to reply when asked "What do you want to do tonight?"
           
 
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The first row are unknowns - obviously. Well, I say obviously because if you were well known you'd more than likely think twice about being photographed with naughty Nina the nympho night nurse. Some, however, seem to relish the opportunity . . .
        
        

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Last of the non-Riffs reviews -
     

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We haven't featured trailer trash for a while and we have been absolutely flooded with an email requesting more pictures of her (no accounting for taste) so here's more than a handful - which, coincidentally . . .
        
     
That's a devilish grin from saucy minx on the pic with Loaded Ian. Unlike her to get up to anything untoward. Oh, look, out the window, that winged pig..........

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And for those of you who have just joined us (that's the right parlance I am led to believe) more reviews done by non-Riffs. Not me, not Pussy Galore.
        

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Well, according to the current news it looks like there is a good chance that live music in pubs could be allowed around October. Lots of ifs and coulds though. Needless to say we're always here for you to tell the world (well, ya gotta think big) what you are up to, whether you are planning to burst back on to the music scene with some blistering rock - or have you decided to call it a day. When the time comes, let your fan base know either way. And, as always, pics pics and more pics are mega helpful. You could supply one of yourself hanging up your guitar to show that the band is packing it in. Or a photo of your band all ready and waiting to gig (or in rehearsals) - anything to encourage others to do the same and for punters to pour back into pubs and relish those heady days of live rock in a buzzing atmosphere. Or you could just do fuck all and fester away in that comfy chair (always good to have a Plan B).

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Gonna show some reviews now from way back - but not by Riffs. These are not written by me nor Patti Peaches but sent in to Riffs by people we trust to pen an objective and unbiased review. The pics are taken by my good self but all text is exactly as supplied.
        

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The first two pics here feature our very own sweater stretcher with Matrix, the rest are her with The Amazing Spacefrogs Bugsy and Steve when she was invited down to sing (and I think they used that word very loosely) to a Teesside recording studio when the band were laying down tracks for their new album.
        
     

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Many thanks to Dave F for sending in this interesting communication:


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Next lot is from Stormin' when Plain Krazy were headlining. Val explained: "The singer made it very . . . er . .  plain, that there was only two things he was interested in on that night - and they were both attached to me! I went along with it but it was starting to get just a tad creepy."
        
     

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Another selection of snaps with some 'unknowns'. But I'm fairly sure yellow t shirt guy on second row is from Blueshouse (patently not impressed with a cuddle from Fiona funbags), next pic  is at the Kings Head, Stanley. As always, if anyone can name names then we'll give you a big mensh.
     
     
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Steve H to the rescue again and I will quote him exactly:  "1st pic might well be band called Too Tired. Guy on right is definitely Keith Johnson, Houghton le Spring's best ever drummer"

Any ideas anyone?

        

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Just heard from 'new boy' Miguel from Uncle Gilbert (he's been with them a mere eight years!) and, along with band member Brian and Mike, are keen to "getting back rocking" as soon as they possibly can. I think I can say on behalf of every Riffs reader that they'll be more than welcome...

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More 'unknowns' although I have a vague recollection the final two may be Summerlands.
     


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Three more 'unknowns' pictured with Riffs resident eye candy. Although pic three looks a lot like Ronnie from The Duke........
     

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Just heard from Steve H with an update on these two pics: Steve Ireland on the left and the band is The Croutons. Steve went on to join FM soon after these pics were taken.

Slightly embarrassed because yes, I should know who this band is, and I seem to recognise them . . . but . . . Have even showed them to Beelzebub's offspring and she can't remember either . . .
     

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Time for a review methinks, and this one is of Uncle Gilbert who myself and Titiana caught at The Station in Redcar in March. Again, not sure of the year.
     
     

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And yet another row of pics featuring Felicity funbags to take us back to the good ol' times . . . first is Sticky Fingers, and the other three are all 'unknowns'.
        

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Just found this Tubesnake pic that had slipped between the cracks in the woodwork - poor guy just couldn't suppress the discomfort of a kiss from Riffs' resident MILF.


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These pics feature 'known' and 'unknowns'. All except second row feature Riffs' yummy mummy and we start with Len from Tubesnake, next two are early incarnations of Tubesnake (the second one I think was at Durham Snooker Club), then next row Tubesnake again all at Stormin 05. Next row we have Big Al with fellow bandmember but not knowing the date, I can't guess at which band he was in at this time, next two are unknowns and first one on last row is also an 'unknown'. Next is Loaded 44 from the 1999 Redcar Battle of the Bands, and lastly we have sweet cheeks with Loaded Dave. As always, if anyone can help us out with the unknowns we'd not only be grateful - we'll even give you a mensh.
     
        
     
     

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And what a warm welcome strawberry cream and I received at the Kings Head in Stanley in the late 90s to catch the ever-outrageous Hipthrusters. Pic second left shows main man Dinksy (aka 'Pavement Hound') belting out some rockin' blues - but it wasn't just those men with the thrusting hips that were outrageous that night as snow bunny was in her element and arguably not only took centre stage, but also moniker of bad kitty of the night.
        
        

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Another band that gave a great performance and were loads of fun - LITTLE PINK POLLIWOG. Not sure where and not sure when but if any of them see this - then let us know! And the third one is Betty Boobs with 'unknown.'
     

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This was another stupendous night at the Three Tuns in Gateshead. Landlord Paul knows a quality Rock band when he sees one. And Vendetta went down a storm. A magnificent performance.
     
       

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No mystery here, well, perhaps just the one. On the left we have Warren with some arm candy and, because of the age of the pic, I think this may be when he was fronting Scream Dream. Next is busty Bertha with Thompa, and Ronnie who booked the bands. And of course the last one is Riffs' mischievous moll with Paul from the Three Tuns. And can I say how nice it is to have two of the North-East's most respected landlords in the same line-up
- I think the last time was in front of Newcastle Magistrates, but we've yet to get to the bottom of that . . .
     

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Big shout out to 'Dave'; who thinks second left is Spectrum.

Four total unknowns here, although I think the first one may, just may, have been at the XXXX Crew do (come out of there before you suffocate). And the last one was at Redcar's 1999 Battle of the Bands - yeah, the poster does give it away some. But who is the guy? As always, any help would be most appreciated . . .

     

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This was one double bill at The Three Tuns myself and Val will never forget. Both bands were on sparkling form and proudly played their musical hearts out. Both Remedy and Razor Sharp played brilliantly and each turned in a magnificent set. A superb evening's entertainment.
       
     



00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000

Ian (Fuzzy or The Fuzzy) Fulton, bass player in NWOBHM Avenger, who tragically died in a motorcyle accident on the 1st of June was buried Friday June 26.

In the midst of the unbearable deep pain that his family are suffering, they were truly heartened by the outpouring of support they have received. "The biker convoy following the hearse warmed our hearts" Ian's father Dave told me. Ian's family received 100s of cards "and each one is special" added Dave.
The following example shows just how much Ian was loved and respected, and I quote directly from Dave: "[we received a card from a] Dutch guy named Eddie van Vugt who had seen the band a few times and with whom Ian had struck up a friendship. Eddie tells us Ian always made a point of coming and speaking to him and remembering his name even though Eddie was only a teenager when they first met. This guy didn't know where we lived, but sent us a beautiful card via Avenger, having made the effort to get a postal address for the band who forwarded it to us. We'd never met the guy, but his condolences mean a lot to us."


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So who's this little devil squeezing (or should I say 'strangling') the life out of poor lil ol' Val then?
 

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As promised, here's some of Val and Nick and Heavy Load - the band went through many changes but Nick's dedication was always the driving force and kept the focus to enable Heavy Load to capture the nuances and feel that was Free and Bad Co. - and just so you don't get Val overload ('not possible' shouts Jim) I've included some of the band in action.
     
     
     

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Soz everybody peeps, but I never actually explained why all these old pics have Val on them. Well, all our old pics were in paper folders marked with the band's name (where known), but during a couple of house moves, and sending some back to the bands in question, a lot were lost. Now, initially, Val asked me to remove from the set, the ones with her in them. These were kept together, all wrapped in an elastic band, and have survived. And it's these that I am sifting through now, to post the interesting ones. Regardless of whether Val is on them or not, they show interesting people and places. And as we have all moved on, then it's fun to look back. So there you have it. I've just found some of Nick and Heavy Load so I'll do them next . . .


Found some pics of The XXXX Crew with Val on a Harley.
I also realise now why there was such a queue for the 'titty stamper' job. I remember Val saying "Do I really need this many stamps?" Such a sweet, naive and innocent girl [well, one out of four isn't bad].

She thoroughly enjoyed the attention and I understand she went down very well. The year? Hmm, may need some help with that, but gotta be 98 or 99.
   
   

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Newly scanned in: First one After Midnight, the brilliant Eric Clapton tribute but not sure where, second was Val being shown how to mix it at a recording studio somewhere on Teesside, third and fourth I recognise superb axe-man Ken but not sure of which band it is when these two pics were taken. Any help would be appreciated.

     

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Someone's just asked why I'm so hazy about the pics I took and why Riffs photographs are not catalogued: 'Don't you have a photograph archive?'  It was just nights out for Val and myself, taking pics and reviewing bands. Oh yeah, all meticulously labelled by date, artist, place . . . but they're in another building on the seventh floor, right at the back and, due to the strict Covid regulations I now don't have access to them. Plus, because Val's on them, the floor has had to be re-strengthened. Photo archive!!! I love a good titter.
And talking of titters, I've scanned the first few of pics of Val with 'unknowns' so we'll see if anyone can help with info.


Just found these liitle gems. My memory is well shot (Val breathes a sigh of relief), but I seem to remember that the pics (right) of Black Dog were outside the Duke of Cumberland. No idea regarding the wherabouts of the Black Rose pic though but amongst the myriad of numbers on the reverse of the pic I can see 17AU, could be 17th August, and I suspect 1999.
I've just unearthed a big wadge of photographs wrapped in an elastic band that I took of Val chatting with bands, band members, and even venue owners and managers. Trouble is, no identification on any one of them. There will be some that I recognise, but the majority I'm gonna need help with. I'll post a few a day and hope that someone out there is able to shed some light on who she is pictured with . . .

    

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Now for a bit of Punk, courtesy of The Demi in Consett, all in aid of 'Give Tilly A Hand' campaign. Featuring No Way Out, Stottin' Headaches, Ultracore and The Next Pistols.
Review and pics by my good self - Val had 'other commitments'. Not sure who he was though. [Probably neither did she]
   
     

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Aha!! So there is a few peeps out there still reading Riffs - as is shown by sharp-eyed Jim (or should I say sharp-memoried) cos it was he who pointed out that there was a photo of busty Val with Last Minute that I took at the Turbinia in 2010, so why didn't we use it!? Jim admits he is a big fan of Val and hopes to see more of her in future (I'm biting my lip here). Actually I took two pics, and I suspect they may have been not only taken earlier but were not even of Last Minute, but more likely the brilliant Blueshouse, which Val and I caught at a gig at Durham Snooker Club in February 1999. So especially for you Jim, here they both are in all their glory (the two pics I mean, not Val's . . . er . . . yeah, ok, move along now, nothing to see here).

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For the first four pics we are jumping back a mere 18 years to the Duke in Felling for the innovative Meanstreak.
And, directly below, two pics I took at The Rock Bar with local legend Russ Tippins joining Meanstreak on stage. And, after a bit of searching, I've found a couple of pics of Russ and Meanstreak Ken talking to Val while she was managing the Earl of Warwick in West Auckland (that's the pub - not the person).

      
  
  

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These are, quite definitively, THE LAST MEN ON EARTH , October 2004, no idea where though. [yeah, I know I was there, and yes, I did take the pics . . . your point?]
       

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Well, I can narrow down this review of LAST MINUTE to Saturday 3rd July. Unfortunately I can't be so accurate with the year. Photo info says 2010 so let's go with that.
     

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The 16th of February 2008 saw a charity gig at Crook Town Football Club, all in aid of the Great North Air Ambulance. Doyle stole the show with a truly phenomenal performance - and I took pictures a-plenty, and that remind me, Val penned the review .
. .

    
     
   


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Zooming back in Riffs time machine to Thompa's gaff, the Duke of Cumberland for an exhilarating night with SLF tribute Rigid Digits from, if my photos time stamps are correct, 2006. But I suspect they aren't so I am open to an alternative. Great night though, and pics of the audience going wild (mind you, they started off a bit wild too) I think captures some of the atmosphere that the band created. Oh, and at Val's insistence I include a photo of her and Thompa - esteemed purveyor of JD and Coke and all-round cracking landlord.
     
        


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Hardly seems five minutes since THIS MACHINE received a top acolade from none other than Saxon, over their powerful rendition of Wheels of Steel, that the dreaded lockdown was enforced and the band were forced to confine any wheels they had, steel or otherwise, to the garage. But here are some pics to keep us talkin' . . . uh . . . yeah . . .
        
       
   The Byfords at home singing . . . you know what!

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Lucky ol' Sheiks got a second review from top girl Val - and I tagged along to take some pics - as they had a major band shake-up(!) from just the year before, and many were interested to see just how this would affect the dynamics within the group.
     

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Well, Ian may be up there jammin' with Kilmister, Scott, Dio, Gallagher, Harvey, Moon, Peart, Bowie, Joplin, Richard, Berry and many, many others.
The list goes on and on - and of course, those who never actually made it 'up there'. No matter how much time passes, or how many photos we show, how many reviews we host, it won't completely obscure our sadness.
That list is one helluva gig that I would love to be in the front for - perhaps not just yet though. And that leads me into another beast of a band. Our own Beast from the North East: -

I remember Val and myself collaborating on this review for absolutely ages - well in excess of ten minutes - but nothing we wrote could convey the awesome power and force this band delivers on stage. And in an act of desperation it was Val who said: "Well, you're always bleating on about 'a photo is worth a thousand words', so why not just use your photos?"

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I am truly shocked and deeply saddened to report that Ian Fulton, bass player in NWOBHM Avenger, died in a motorcyle accident on the 1st of June. A local lad, whose parents are now trying to come to terms with their devastating loss.

I have also learnt that when things get back to normal, Avenger intend to do a special gig in honour of Ian.
I really cannot imagine what pain and anguish his parents are going through, and I am aware there is nothing I can say or do that will lessen their suffering. His family can be justifiably proud of a guy who, through his music, gave immeasurable pleasure to a multitude of people.
Myself and Val had the pleasure of catching Heavy Metal band Avenger at the Office in South Shields in 2005 and, in memory of Ian, we host our pictures of the band here. To see the band in action, his father has kindly forwarded to Riffs these links -

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bID2LHKHp2c

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ROnDqVnWfc0

     

     


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Further back now to the Moonshiners MCC Rally. Again, no idea what year. Now, I know we did a review, as one of the pics is marked 'head' and I do that for the main picture on the review. But back in those far-off heady rocky days I just didn't save them. I know, shame on me. But the superb 4 Kinnells did the business...
        
       


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Steve Priest, bass player and founder of Glam Rockers Sweet has died. As part of the group which had hits including Hellraiser, Teenage Rampage and The Ballroom Blitz, Priest enjoyed a classic sex, drugs and rock n' roll lifestyle - something he was never shy discussing when talking about his time in the spotlight. 'If it breathed and was female, it was fair game,' he once told the Guardian.

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JUMP THE GUN, at The Grand Hotel in Bishop Auckland, 2008 (I think). Val at the helm.

        
      

 
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Ok, I know we say 'supporting live Rock music . . .' but Val did actually nip out to Gateshead to catch SkaBoom at The Three Tuns - and took her own photographs!! I did my best to clean them up. I mean, c'mon, even Photoshop has its limitations . . .
        
    

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And on the subject of fine musicians, just read what Val had so say about the superb Mississippi Sheiks when we caught them at The Lord Nelson in Stockton in 2008...
     
     

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A brilliant night in the company of some fine musicians - TT BLUE. 'Where?' you may ask, and 'when?' you may also ask. And you know what I'm going to say . . .
     
      

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Now we jump forward three years from those Stormin' pics - 2008 for those who just can't be bothered - for these pics that Val took at the Grand Hotel in Bishop Auckland. Don't know if I was there and no idea who the bands are! (I'm now aware that there are guys out there thinking 'cheeky buggers come along to the gig, take pics, we don't get a review, and they don't even remember who we are. Muthafuckers'.)
     
     

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Scrolling down these photos, it underlines how important it is for bands to have some pics taken - at gigs, at rehearsal, anywhere! A written review is fine, but it's over and done with. Whereas a picture...
And now I'm so glad I took as many and varied pics as I did, as we can all now look back at what was - dreading that it may never be the same again.


Dug out some pics I took at Stormin' the Castle which doesn't seem so long ago, but we're talking fifteen years for these. See how many local bands you recognise . . .
      
      
       
   
         

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Dr Sunshine at the Daisy Hill in, er . .  over in . . . well, everyone knows where the Daisy Hill is. This gig would have benefited from a better atmosphere, but a plain, rectangular room and disinterested punters made this an evening I had forgotten.
     
     

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A band that needs no introduction, so they don't get one. Think this is the Office, late 90s.
      
   

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Thought we'd jump forward a bit this time, to 2009 to be precise, and a visit to Houghton Buffs for RELOAD.
    

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More pics from Riffs archives. Shields Office host to the frenetic 1977 where myself and Val were treated to a host of punk classics. '97 or '98...
         
         
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Back to the Blaydon Music Venue now with some of Riffs early pics of No Dice - again, 1997 or 1998:
       
      

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Now, I remember this gig - not only was it a great gig by New Age Jam at the Office in Shields (late 90s) - but I remember it cos I pissed Val off big time! At the break, Val and I usually interview the band, ask them how things are going, get some group pics etc, but on this occasion Val was nowhere to be seen so, thinking she was chatting to some musos about this and that, I proceeded to accompany New Age Jam around the back of the Office and chat to the band. A few minutes later Val appeared with a face like thunder (the weather condition - not the band) but replaced it instantaneously with a lovely smile. We both had a great natter with the lads, including some pics, until it was time for the second set and they left to go on stage. It was then that I got a vicious tongue-lashing about why couldn't I wait till she had come out of the loo, and this is a joint thing, and not to edge her out again, etc. But the air was cleared and within a minute we were back inside enjoying the second set. Memories eh? There was a time when I could remember my memories, but now it's just a memory.
   
      

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It's not easy to live this way
Just an hour and a fleeting kiss

A photographic retrospective with THE GRUMPIES

Rock in the North-East just wouldn't be the same without them (well, yeah, I know we're without them now - well, it's not the same is it?) Stalwarts of the live music scene, and always ready to rock, I have had the pleasure to snap away at them from way back in 1997, up to their appearance at Stormin' the Castle and beyond: at The Duke, The Three Tuns, Washington, The Office, Stormin' - and probably your back yard (but didn't get any pics cos I was upstairs with your mum) . . . And we also have a review of the band by someone who's always abreast of live music - our very own Val. So enjoy - cos you ain't gonna see them on stage for quite some time.

         
        
         
               
      
           
           
      
The last two rows of pics courtesy of The Seaham Silverback

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I'm aware that I've just featured pics from an early gig by out and out rockers, Blast, but I remember Val and myself were so impressed, we caught them just months later at The Duke.
So here is just a taste (which is about the amount of Coke in one of Thompa's JDs).
We could be late 90s here or early 2000s. Note just how much the band are enjoying the gig too . . .

          

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'97 or '98 for both of these pics.
Wow, someone's got a good memory "how come you didn't include the pic of Val with Len in the Tubesnake pics?" A quick search unearthed it. Happy?
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Ere's some late 90s pics of the Zeppelin-touting Black Dog which I suspect - because of the pic of Val squeezed between Thompa and Ronnie - were taken when myself and Val caught the band at the Duke of Cumblerland in Felling. Many great nights we had there and I can state that Thompa Cumberland, along with Paul Tuns, were the two most gracious hosts in the North East. Mind you, Thompa was a terrible barman - for me and Val he always got the amounts of JD and Coke the wrong way round. . . bless his little cotton socks.
         
       


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And talking of Baz, just found this odd pic, sitting there, in the archives - with no other pics of the night. How bazarre:


So, is it just me who didn't know that our local lad Baz Warne not only is a guitarist in the Stranglers, but is also lead singer? Oh, it is.


To the email enquirer: Yes, every single picture in this column I have personally took - at the gig, on the night. If for whatever reason I use someone else's picture I ALWAYS mention it, otherwise, they are ALL taken by myself. Soz, thought this was common knowledge. Val and myself have always prided ourselves on the personal touch (well, especially Val) and we hope that it's this detail that lends a certain intimacy and reality to our reviews and pics....
Now, back to just another night at The Office.  Don't have nightmares . . .
             
           
       


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Next batch of pics which I hope I'll have ready to upload tomorrow feature a nightmare at the Office . . .


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A few pics from the much-acclaimed but short-lived UUFO,
not sure of the year.
        
    

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Here's a couple of the earliest Riffs pics of the brilliant Tubesnake . . .

    

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Well, I could have sworn that I had already added to this News page the review of Baz Warne in Robot Elvis at Paddywhacks in Sunderland - but scrolling down the News page I just couldn't see it anywhere, so I guess I must have dreamt it, which is strange, as the majority of my dreams don't include band reviews.........


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More Riffs archive dipping finds the inimitable Baz Warne and the Sun Devils at the Office - photos taken on March 16. How about that for accuracy eh?! Oh, you want the year do you? Bugga. Could be 1997 or 1998 . . . And I also include the poster for when Baz played a special gig for Val when she was running the Earl of Warwick in West Auckland (this was a few years later after Baz had joined The Stranglers). Also (just to be as accurate as poss) the pic of Baz and Val was taken at Paddywhacks in Sunderland a few years later.
      
      
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Trying desperately now to narrow down the date of these old pics. With confirmation from Big Al though, I can say that these pics are from 1998 at The Office in Shields.
      
        


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Epic games are offering Civilisation VI FOC until the 28th to help folk get through the lockdown:
https://www.epicgames.com/store/en-US/product/sid-meiers-civilization-vi/home#

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Well, look what I found - pics of the night Dark-Glam trans-gender band from Minneapolis, Minnesota appeared at the Office in Shields. The band, All The Pretty Horses, featured Venus DeMars. The band blend the influences of artists such as David Bowie and Sex Pistols with a dose of heavy, guitar rock and outrageous costumes, into a self-described style called dark-glam.
If I hadn't taken the pictures I just wouldn't have believed that this gig took place. To say it was an eye-opener is an understatement. Trying to narrow it down but I reckon late 90s. Probs 1997 or 8.
       
         
     

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Seems a lot of these old photographs I've been resurrecting have time details that may have been corrupted - as most say 2001 (reasonable), November 14 (hmmm) and then 2pm (unlikely) so, basically, I now don't have a clue when they were taken!! Still, probs more exciting . . .?

Anyway, back to
The Cluny with Loaded 44 . . . fuck knows when.
       
     
 
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Cover Story at the Boldon Lad, late 90s.
      
    

     

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So just how much would you pay for a line-up like this?

The Doors, Pink Floyd, the Faces, Family, Curved Air, Atomic Rooster, The Kinks, Rory Gallagher, Uriah Heep, Country Joe McDonald, Buddy Miles, Status Quo, Brinsley Schwarz, Spencer Davis, The Strawbs and Humble Pie all appeared at the 2nd British Rock Meeting, Insel Grun, Germersheim, West Germany. 1972.

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When the world was rockin' . . .

       
       
Does anyone remember where this was? I'm suspecting 1997 or 8.

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Stormin' 2004



Jackl. I know it's at 'The Masons Arms' but, not 100% sure where. Any ideas?

   


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And while I was rummaging, what year do you think this was at Stormin' the Castle? - without looking at the picture details!         It was 2007.       Somebody emailed to say we have a picture of some Stormin' boobs! I must track down that one....
  


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Nice to hear from Big Al who, I think, is bass player for North-East stalwarts, Witchkraft, with amazing axe-man Mal.
Val has extreme respect for Al and called him "A gentleman among gentlemen". He is one of that rare breed of men who you not only never got sick of talking to, but always learn so much from.
So, after a quick rummage, I dug up this pic of the two aforementioned, dating back to November 2004, which Al reminds me was taken at the Rock Bar in Easington.
Oh those heady days of deciding which Rock band to go see . . .










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Ten years ago yesterday (Saturday) we lost an unbelievably stunning Rock voice - the one and only RONNIE JAMES DIO. So sadly missed, what a phenomenal voice this guy had.
These pics I took at a venue in Durham (I think) in 2005. [Memory isn't what it used to be!]
  
     


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Knew there had to be somebody out there. Seriously though, just heard from Dave from the Graham Henderson Experience to say he is biting at the bit to get back out there
after all this voodoo hoodoo and re-create the thriving live music scene that we all miss so much. In the meantime let's remind ourselves of the band in full flow at the Penny Gill in Spennymoor . . . https://youtu.be/Y8Goiam0xW0

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After a deluge of mail from readers (well, I did actually get one) so for all the people still reading Riffs, this is for both of you.........the sensational BLAST from 2001 at Shields' Office.
      
   

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We're back to 2001 again, this time it's Left Hand Drive at the Rock Garden in Easington Colliery . . .
   
  

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The phenomenal Blackout from October 2002 at The Office in South shields; all Riffs pics and all by yours truly.....


  
  

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Back to 2007 and Darlington's Quaker House for another Riffs review from Val . . .



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Well look who dropped in to the Powerage gig . . .
 
  
 
POWERAGE - NEWCASTLE CITY HALL, SEPTEMBER 28, 2001 . . .

    
   

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Back to September 28, 2001, when Disposable Heroes - belting out some quality Metallica - supported Powerage at Newcastle City Hall . . .

   
        
Will get the Powerage pics from this same gig uploaded in the next day or two...............and also pics of the special visitor the band got who just happened to be gigging in the same city on the same night . . .

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More pics from the past, this time NO DICE from the Blaydon Music Venue in 2002.
    


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Dug out these pics of Avatar from the Three Tuns in Gateshead back in 2008.
 
    


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Here's another review from those heady days of blistering nights out surrounded by talented musicians (oh how long ago that seems right now). This is from 2009

Miss ya Nick.

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Back to 2008 and a special event at The Three Tuns in Gateshead...................



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A mensh for UFOs Paul Raymond who passed away due to a heart attack one year ago Monday 13th.

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Arch Enemy and Blind Guardian at Bloodstock 2008, review shown here in memory of Gary Harwood who recently passed away.
   



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Rejection always hurts . . . but this must sting like a mutha:

Thanks to The Silverback for sending this in.

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One of Riffs' reviews from a bygone age - but wouldn't you have thought the writer would have mentioned the date?!! No idea when this was written (although around 2008 is a rough guess) . . .



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"Growing up in the 60s I’d always leaned towards the rockier side of music, preferring the Stones, Kinks and the Who to the Beatles and the Tremeloes etc. I’d seen local bands but the first major band I had the chance to go and see was The Who, in the Rink at Sunderland - for the princely sum of 50p. At the time I was an apprentice at college full time with a weekly wage of about £5.30 so by the time I’d paid my mam her share, this probably constituted 25% of my weekly pocket money without taking into consideration my bus fare there. (Some of my mates walked there and back to Houghton to save money for a couple more beers).
Queuing up to get in, Roger Daltrey pulled up and drove down the side to the load in area in his Jensen Interceptor, no chauffeur, just the man himself behind the wheel. Apparently, Keith Moon arrived in a mauve Bentley, but I missed that.
It was the first time I’d been in the Rink and I was mesmerised; dimly lit, UV lights around the room, loud music playing over the PA and loads of long haired yoof, just like me. Excellent. I’m racking my brains to remember, but I think the support band were called Cochise and as I recall they were pretty good, though I can’t remember anything they played. (This was 50 years ago!).
This gig was just 2 weeks prior to the release of the iconic “Live at Leeds” album so the set by the Who featured most of the tracks on that great album, the excerpts from Tommy were immediately recognisable along with stuff from their already extensive back-catalogue. Woodstock was less than 12 months previous and we’d all seen the movie released in March 1970 so the fringed jacketed, mike swinging Daltrey was bang on form and just what we had come to see along with the windmill-armed Townshend. Moony was his usual thrashing self, throwing his stick in the air and catching them on the way down apart from one time when one stayed up in the low ceiling above the stage. The band also played “won’t get fooled again” from the “Who’s Next” album that wouldn’t be released for another year, Townshend had this huge reel to reel tape recorder on stage playing the synth intro. That track sticks in my mind, but I have a vague recollection there were other tracks from the forthcoming album played that nobody had heard before.
The volume was like nothing I’d ever experienced, I’d never known the flat feeling in your ears after a loud gig, I thought I’d been deafened for life but still thought it was worth it. That gig was definitely a turning point in my life and so different from what I’d imagined it would be like, it was visceral, exciting and the first time I’d shared the crowd power that an event like that brings out in you. Many more were to follow."
The Piebald Lizard

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LET'S HEAR FROM YOU LOT
The Seaham Silverback came up with an idea for those of you who, like a lot of us, reminisce the good times of Rock. That one gig that sticks in your mind (or for those of us who spent most of our young life at a Rock or Metal gig, try and narrow it down to a special one!). Put fingers to keyboard and let Riffs know your most memorable gig - we won't publish your name if you don't want us to [you could always use a pseudonym]. Personally, there has been a gazillion as every gig is memorable in one way or another. But just yesterday I was downloading the discography of The Heavy Metal Kids and it jogged my memory of seeing them at the City Hall in Newcastle in the 70s on a double bill with Nutz. It was £1 door but just 50p if you showed the voucher from Sounds. I can still remember Gary Holton strutting around the stage sporting a jockstrap with a massive penis extension. Aye, good times............. Then the night I arrived at Middlesbrough Rock Garden, knocking on a locked door and hearing bolts pulled aside, and a guy leaning out, looking left and right and then pulling me in . . . that was the Spots gig (Sex Pistols). Oh, and a Nazareth gig where the sound was distorted all night...... so plenty to go on.........          riffsonline@gmail.com

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That's it then!

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The Garden Farm in Chester-le-Street has had their fair share of party cancellations and as such their function room is free most nights for any band wishing to practice - free of charge. If you would like to use it then contact the pub on 0191 3882064 and ask for Natalie or Grant.  Alternatively get in touch via email, thegardenfarmhotel@gmail.com, or Facebook.

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A big 'thank you' to bands and venues for keeping Riffs updated during this hectic time of cancellations and replacements.................. I can usually get the amends done within minutes; and keeping the punters informed is the most important thing we can do . . .


More bad news I'm afraid: Platform 1 in East Bedlington has now shut and no bands will be performing there for the forseeable future. All their gigs on the Listings page have been marked as cancelled but, just in case I have missed one, no gigs will be held there from today. We will, of course, let you know when they re-open.

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***NOTIFICATION TO  BANDS***
Riffs has just learned courtesy of On The Case Music that The Black Rose Pub Group are cancelling all Live entertainment for the next few weeks due to the present circumstances.
On The Case clients affected are The Crown in Whickham and The Greens Sunderland.
If you are booked to play at any of these pubs in the near future the gigs are now cancelled (hopefully to be rescheduled once things get back to normal).
BLACK ROSE PUBS include :
The Ox Inn
Durham, DH9 7LR
The Elephant
Ashington, NE63 0SZ
The Guide Post
Gateshead, NE9 7RR
The Cross Keys
Washington Village, NE38 7AB
The Townhouse
Whitley Bay, NE26 2TG
The Millstone Hotel
Newcastle, NE3 1QL
The Black Bull
East Boldon, NE36 0SG
The Victoria
Whitley Bay, NE26 2TE
The Black Bull
Morpeth, NE61 1PE
The Greens
Sunderland, SR1 3PY
The Lambton Arms
Durham, DH3 3BJ
Ship & Royal
South Shields, NE33 2HT
The Crown
Gateshead, NE16 4DT
The Prior
Moorside, Sunderland, SR3 2SW
Britannia Inn
Houghton Le Spring, DH4 4AL

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We should call it the Battle of the Queens, but hey, thriving live gigs can not be frowned upon - just celebrated. Which is exactly what the Qween Live lads are doing right now as they wind down from another prestigious sell-out gig at The Exchange Theatre in North Shields. Rob told Riffs: "Absolutely amazing night - it was really nice to meet and greet a lot of our fans after the gig - we are playing in Norwich this Saturday as the headline guest Queen tribute band - everyone is so excited!" And if you missed them locally then you have one last chance this month: catch them at The Westovian Theatre South Shields on Sat 28th.


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On this day (Monday) in 2007 this happened . . .
Brad Delp lead singer of Rock band Boston committed suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning at his home in the New Hampshire town of Atkinson. He died from the smoke of two charcoal grills he’d lit inside his sealed master bathroom. He was found by police lying on a pillow on his bathroom floor with a note paper-clipped to his shirt which read: "Mr. Brad Delp. I am a lonely soul."

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We Are Champion update Monday 2nd - ALL tickets have now been sold for Bedlingtonshire Golf Club gig. ...

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And talking of Queen . . . what's better than a Queen tribute band? Two Queen tribute bands!
Rob from
Qween tells Riffs that their recent gig at Billingham Sythonia Suite was also a sell-out (two pics from that night showing), and that their next gig at The Exchange Theatre North Shields this coming Saturday 7th March has only a few tickets left on sale. Queen fans must think all their Christmas and birthdays have come at once.

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SEASIDE RENDEZVOUS
  
We love good news here at Riffs so we're really chuffed to bring you some - but it's tinged with bad news too, so we'll mention that first!
If you were looking foward to seeing We Are Champion in the next few weeks then, unless you snapped up tickets toot suite, you are going to be mightily disappointed as their next three gigs (Gateshead, Doncaster [well, ya might have], and Stockton) have all sold out. Soz, but y'know what they say 'He who hesitates is lost'.
Paul from the band told me: 'We do feel sorry for fans who have been unable to get tickets.
It's been a bit of a whirlwind really, we have had some amazing gigs; selling out the majority of them. And getting to play some huge venues inc Leeds and Newcastle O2 Academies.'
The first bit of good news for disappointed fans is We Are Champion have just added three new dates in April - Hartlepool, South Shields and Ashington. And I suspect the lads are going to be on full rockin' form as they will no doubt be still buzzing from having secured a really prestigious gig - no less than being asked to appear at the Official Queen Fan Club Convention down in Mablethorpe. Paul continued: 'We are thrilled - not to mention deeply honoured - to have been asked to perform at probably the pinacle of Queen tribute band gigs. We would never have believed when we started this band just over a year ago that we would be so heartily accepted by the Queenie community.' Paul went on to say: 'This is the biggest event of the Queen Fans calendar where fans from all over the globe come to party to all things Queen. We have our sights on loads of big festivals over this summer so can't wait to grow this thing even bigger.'
The event takes place at Haven Golden Sands Holiday Park in Mablethorpe first weekend in October.


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“These guys do the nasty blues like the devil hisself was hurting"
Tommy Hartlepool does it again. That guy is the forefront of Bluesy Rock in the North-East with his hand-picked quality bands. I'm in the middle of designing some boxed ads for his up and coming gigs and, obviously, try and get a feel for the band before doing the ad - and it's so difficult to stay detached when the bands he books - some from other continents! - are so damn good. Personally, my DNA is Metal, Rock and Punk, but quality music is quality music. [Reminds me of long ago when Val and I used to go out to see bands for a live review and pics, and if we were on the way to a Blues gig she would often say "is it Rocky Blues or Blues you slit your wrists to?"]. Thankfully the 'Blues you slit your wrists to' gigs were few and far between and I know her fave venue now would be Tommy's Hartlepool Supporters Club where the Blues is 'grimy, lean, mean and soulful' which brings me neatly to the description of . . . wait for it . . . Crow Black Chicken. I've snatched this from their website, but give it a read and then tell me you're not tempted. All I've got to say is their two main influences are Skynyrd and Zeppelin: [enough for me]

Wrap year listening organs around that slide guitar!!!
This power trio combine elements of folk and hard rock with the blues rock of bands such as Gov’t mule, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Led Zeppelin. The band was formed in 2009 in Cork city when lead singer Christy O’Hanlon met the former rhythm section of Clonmel Punk Rock outfit Aural Ammunition, Stephen McGrath ( Bass ) and Gev Barrett ( Drums ). The band immediately jelled and went on to perform on the BBC Introducing stage at Glastonbury 2011. The band released their first raw blues rock and roll album in 2012 which was produced by Producer Philip Magee ( Kodaline, Aslan, The Blizzards ). The bands second album Rumble Shake was released in 2014 and debuted at number 12 in the Irish album charts. Recorded in Westland Studios Dublin, this album was a more roots and blues affair than the first record, heavily influenced by the bands work with Texan Americana singer Ray Wylie Hubbard and legendary Austin Producer the late George Reiff. In 2015 the band went on to release their first live album entitled Deep South which was voted top 5 live albums of 2015 by Classic Rock Blues. In 2016 Crow Black Chicken opened for ZZ Top at the Marquee in Cork which brought them face to face with the Texan compatriots whom they often drew so many comparisons to. Always determined to create a sound all of their own the band continues to tour all over Europe and have since released a 4th studio album Pariah Brothers in 2017.

“These guys do the nasty blues like the devil hisself was hurting and rock like they’ll skate come judgement day”  Ray Wylie Hubbard
They're on at Hartlepool's Smallcrafts Association on April 10. Tickets £12/14. 07535 979658 or ents24 website.


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Not sure what has happened to Ronnington publicity machine but it's only thanks to Patrick from UK/DC and Obsession that we were forwarded the poster for this year's Ronnington Charity Fundraiser 2020 . . .


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TRIBUTE TO RUSH THIS FRIDAY

News just in . . . [sound of tele typesetting machines clattering away in background] The Force’s gig this Friday (21) at The Voyager, South Shields, we have just been reliably informed, will be slightly different from the usual Force setlist.
As a tribute to Neil Peart and Rush, the first half will be all Rush numbers – the second half Classic Rock. An absolute mega-treat for all Rush fans. Expect class, expect perfection, expect a phenomenal gig.


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Shepherds Rest Alnwick