The Red Album is no red herring..

I remember when From Without came out I wrote about that difficult second album – the original Ferocious Dog self-titled album was a canon of years of built up song-writing, and a lifetime to date of experiences to draw upon for subject matter.  Subsequent works are always gonna deal with less life back-history, and with more weight of pressure.  But well, I feared in vain – From Without was an undoubted triumph – so I should’ve learned really and not worried about The Red Album, but still, you just can’t help it can you?

I’d heard bits and pieces of live performances, rough cuts and sneaky peeks, but hadn’t heard the final product in earnest ’til Dean popped it on the minibus on the way to The Netherlands last weekend, and even then the excitement of our impending trip (or desperation of Mark’s bladder situation as we blasted into Hull right up against the deadline for the ferry) meant that it probably wasn’t the environment to really sit and take it in.  Luckily when I arrived back from the trip it was waiting for me on my doormat so I’ve quickly been familiarising myself with it, and by gosh, they’ve only gone and done it again.

Unlike From Without, which was an expensive endeavour in a swanky studio with recognised producers and masterers, the band have looked closer to home and recorded it at Electric Bear Studios under the watchful eye of Phill Wilbraham.  Having seen Phill at work he does more than just record tracks and choose levels, even in the couple of hours I spent in the studio he was making lyrical suggestions and tweaks, and extrapolating the logistics in rendering recordings that would be replicable on a live stage.  He’s a clever guy, and the quality of the recording is a real testament to his skills.

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Freeborn Al / 24th November 2017 / Band, Music, Other Bands

Finalé..

What a way to end a tour!  For us the day started with a wander across Nottingham from our hotel to Annie’s Burger Shack and Freehouse.  As Matt has recently turned 40 celebration was very much the order of the day – and appropriately around forty of us piled into the basement bar thanks to Dave and Nadine’s organisational skills for a few beers and some epic burgers served up in a buffet style, so whilst you don’t quite get the extravagance of the restaurant offering, boy do you get a superb plate full of scran!

It was great to see Matt’s family and friends mingling with the gig-going types and having an awesome time – probably the most amusing bit of proceedings for me was daring the two Daves into eating the scotch bonnet I’d bravely picked up then cowardlyly deciding not to eat – it’s fair to say that one of the Daves clearly has a higher spice threshold than t’other!  With plates cleared there was time for some cake cutting (an epic violin-shaped creation!) and Happy Birthday singing before we started to make our way gig-ward.

By the council house we bumped into Lee doing promotion for EM-Con complete with a dalek, a quick catch up and we wandered up to The Tap n Tumbler, where we found a few early starters – with more arriving all the time.  The jukebox got a bit of hammer – probably a decided step to the strange for any regular pub goers there expecting a decidedly more rock-based playlist!  It was great to catch up with the folks who’d not been around the rest of the weekend – I’m not gonna start listing ’em, I’ll miss some out, haha!

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Freeborn Al / 23rd April 2017 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos

Groundhog night?

Ah, day two.  Groundhog night? Not a bit of it really. This time the evening started in a hotel, waiting for Ella’s train to get in – once we’d got ourselves checked in and sorted we nipped up to the marvellous Tap and Tumbler for a few drinks and general catching up with folk.  There was a nice atmosphere about the place, and I finally succumbed to the temptation I always have in there to buy a pint of Trooper – Iron Maiden produced beer, and very nice it was too.  With plenty of folk on hand to talk to, it was a splendid way to start the night.

Better still, who should be stood next to me at the bar but Cliff – who I mentioned yesterday.  I’ve literally not seen him for a good many years, and it was absolutely fantastic to get the chance for a prolonged natter at the bar.  Reminiscing, putting the world to rights and occasional introductions – it was great.  As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog (which gave me my record views in a day since the blog’s inception – thank you!) Cliff tutored me through firewalking and glasswalking back in the day – both amazing experiences on different ends of the adrenaline scale.

The only pitfall was as time did its inevitable thing we realised we’d propped the bar up and talked our way through the support slot of Louise Distras which is very remiss of me, my humblest apologies to her.  In the venue we headed up to the balcony, Ella was planning on taking in the gig from on high – whilst unlike yesterday I was planning on getting smashed around the moshpit for an hour and a half.  Which gave Ella dual duties of set list noting and carrying my assorted breakables.  So it’s thanks to her that I have the song order, haha!

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Freeborn Al / 22nd April 2017 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos

Wakey Wakey..

Last weekend’s gig followed a really informative day at the same venue beforehand, which is something that I might return to when I’ve had a bit more ponder time.  The closest thing I have to a mining background is playing around the Gedling Colliery site as a young ‘un, and my brother’s ill-timed ambition in the mid eighties (at the age of about 4-5) of being a coal miner.  And years of abuse from Yorkshire football fans for being a scab, what with being a Forest fan.  The ramifications of the strike were something alien to me until it featured in my university studies – I’m not really qualified to write about it with any authority, but then of course this isn’t really a vessel of authority anyway – but it’s a topic that needs treating appropriately.

After the day’s speeches and discussion groups though some very in-theme musical entertainment was on offer – all three acts fronted by former mineworkers.  First up was The Star Botherers, or well, The Star Botherer in this instance – it was Bart in solo guise who took to the stage first, unusually opting to stand up for the set.  It was a big old room, bedecked with banners from the different mines around the area – heraldic, proud and defiant, much like the tone of the day – maybe it’s right that Bart was standing up!

He kicked off with Just Around the Corner, the sound in the venue was great and with the lights low in the crowd and the stage lights picking him out it was impossible not to be drawn to the performance – it was a confident one too.  Of course we missed Dave but the songs and lyrics in particular cut through the room bringing plenty of smiles.  If I was a Tory was always likely to go down well in this particular crowd, and it certainly did here (I’m sitting typing this whilst watching I, Daniel Blake – it feels strangely apt to be remembering Bart’s scathing lyrics whilst the film plays.

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Freeborn Al / 6th March 2017 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos

The year the music died?

Image credit: christhebarker

2016 will probably go down as one of those years where sad news overshadowed the good – certainly that was true for me both in personal terms, which I won’t cover here, but also the seemingly relentless march of famous icons being taken by the grim reaper.  Just as we were coming to terms with Lemmy passing away at the end of 2015, in 2016 we’d be constantly reminded by social media of a glittering parade of cultural icons shuffling from this mortal coil.

David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Glenn Frey, Jimmy Bain, Terry Wogan, Harper Lee, Frank Kelly, George Martin, Keith Emerson, Frank Sinatra Jr, Paul Daniels, Ronnie Corbett, David Gest, Victoria Wood, Lonnie Mack, Prince, John Berry, Nick Menza, Muhammad Ali, Henry McCullough, Anton Yelchin, Caroline Aherne, Kenny Baker, Dalian Atkinson, Gene Wilder, Pete Burns, Leonard Cohen, Andrew Sachs, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Rick Parfitt, George Michael, Liz Smith, Richard Adams, Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds.

That’s not an exhaustive list, I’m sure, but that’s not really what I wanted this blog post to be about – but you can’t really do a review of the year without mentioning the elephant in the room.  As with seemingly most things these days it caused ruckuses on Facebook with folk taking to social media to express their sadness whilst others get irked at seeming over-emotionalness.  Certainly there’s a lot in that list who whilst I’ve never met have had huge influences over my life, and I felt genuine sadness at them moving on – some seemingly far too early, others having reached a ripe of age.

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Freeborn Al / 30th December 2016 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Dream gig?

slide1By a considerable margin I’ve not seen any live act as much as I’ve seen Levellers, Ferocious Dog and Gaz Brookfield – but I’ve never seen them all on the same bill, much less one after the other in the cozy confines of Rock City.  It’s doubly fitting as if it weren’t for my enduring love of the headliners, I wouldn’t have discovered the other two (well, maybe I would eventually) – so Sunday’s trip to Rock City felt like a poignant and fitting way to close a circle of sorts.

Being a geeky data mangler by profession I couldn’t resist a cheeky Venn Diagram!

img_0549Unfortunately a season of festivalling and gallivanting off around Europe meant I didn’t have holiday from work to spare for the day after – coupled with a bit of mosh pit flu starting to kick in, driving to and from the gig seemed the way forward for Ella and I.   That said, we were keen to get into Nottingham early enough to join the socialising in the Tap n’ Tumbler – immediately faced with Mark Chadwick surveying the swelling crowd of other familiar faces.  It’s funny, I still find it really difficult to go and chat with members of Levellers unlike the other two acts on the bill.  No reflection on them, just me being a starstruck wuss!

img_0551Elsewhere in the pub it became increasingly packed with countless gigging and festival friends – it was great to see Wez back amongst us in particular.  Being in non-drinking mode and mindful of an early start I’d planned on spending the gig further back and taking in the show – until Dean beckoned me over.  “I need a word with you, Al” he said, looking a bit stern – after last year’s Rock City mix up he was insistent I needed to surf on him for Freeborn John to make amends – not that it was necessary, it’s a signal honour though.  Looks like I’m in the mosh pit then!

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Freeborn Al / 29th November 2016 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

They did the mash.. it was the Münster mash!

img_0490We set off early for Münster, it was a pretty quiet bus all told, all the more reason to appreciate the Herculean efforts of Dean and Stu who got us from place to place whilst we either messed around or slept.  On arriving in town we spotted gig posters on the walls, and soon enough we were pulling into the car park of the hotel (hurrah!), which was right next to the venue – Jovel (double hurrah!).

They had a few rooms ready, so we were able to drop bags off and freshen up and await the rest whilst grabbing a quick drink from the hotel bar.  Once everyone was ready we decided to risk public transport again and grab the bus into the town, this went much more smoothly than the tram in Amsterdam, and was really reasonably priced too – we’d got ourselves to the centre in no time at all and off the bus.

img_0493Münster is a very scenic place – markets bedecked the streets and we had a nice wander around, having failed dismally in Duisburg to eat anything of note I was dead excited to get myself some currywurst, and very nice it was too before heading to a local pub to sink a few beers (and assorted local spirits).  We went back via the market again, Mick bought a soap which he thought was a lump of cheese (ha!), whilst Jacquie and I found some stagewear for The Star Copiers.

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Freeborn Al / 24th November 2016 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Here I Am(sterdam!)..

img_0481The concensus on the bus was that we wanted to set off earlier than normal to allow for us to do a bit more sight-seeing in Amsterdam.  A sensible idea, one I still hold by, but by gosh the excesses of the night before made it a challenge!  I made it up for some breakfast, Mark wasn’t looking too clever, it was a quiet journey for most of us – much of it I spent asleep hunched in the corner of my back row seat!

By the time we arrived in The Netherlands the storm that had apparently been ravaging England days before was sweeping over the lowlands.  We headed into our destination watching leaves being blown in mini tornado patterns, mercifully the rain seemed to have subsided by the time we found our hotel – a short stagger from the venue, the iconic Melkweg, and right on the tram line to get into town.

We’d booked parking at the hotel, but alas the bus proved a bit too big so poor Stu and Mark had to do a few laps of the city – which upon walking around it was bloody bedlam – before eventually changing on one right outside the door (and an epic piece of reverse parking to get in it).  A bonus, as it meant we didn’t actually need to pay owt for parking in what is generally a pretty expensive place to leave a vehicle any length of time (unless it’s a bicycle or a moped which littered every pavement!).

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Freeborn Al / 24th November 2016 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Photos / 0 Comments

Ich bin ein Düisburger..

Dogging in Düisburg - sponsored by Killepitsch!

Dogging in Düisburg – sponsored by Killepitsch!

Breakfast in Kortrijk was a little disappointing, but welcome nonetheless – and sustenance was pretty important.  We didn’t have to leave too early so it was good to load up on caffeine and food before heading back onto the minibus for the next leg.  I think I pretty much slept the whole journey to Düisburg – a place I was only aware of because of League of Gentleman character Herr Lipp and semi-celebrity Nottingham Forest fan Ebby.  Upon arriving outside our hotel we nearly ran over Addie and Jane!

The hotel was bloody stunning, it was a shame we’d see so little of it really!  I shared a room with Deano for this one, we got ourselves showered and sorted and wandered out into a bloody lovely city.  We headed straight to the German market (or, more accurately, since we were in Germany, ‘the market’) which was full of lovely smelling and looking things – keen to locate the venue we carried on walking and settled in the bar next door to the venue.

Our British custom of standing at the bar doesn’t really work in Germany, there they conduct table service and mark your beer mat to keep track of your tab.  Eventually we found a table we could occupy for a while and sank a few beers, and, oh dear, a litre bottle of Killepitsch between us – in the same vein as Jagermeister but a different regional variety.  Plenty of familiar folk were descending on the place – not least Mark, Charlie and Mark from Levellers who were already propping the bar up when we walked in.

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Freeborn Al / 23rd November 2016 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Groovers on manoeuvres.. part one.. Belgium!

An idiot abroad..

An idiot abroad..

I’ve been half dreading half looking forward to writing this, I’ve decided to split the four European dates into separate blog posts because I fear nobody would sit and read them all in one sitting!  Last night on getting home and basically crashing it was daunting, but now the laundry’s on, the dinner’s been eaten and I’m ready to begin.  I think.  Our adventure started on Thursday evening, after work I popped home to finish up chores before heading up to Mark and Amanda’s to pick them up.

From there we went to Kenny and Karen’s – ostensibly our plan was to get our heads down there for a bit before leaving at 3:30am to convene at Dean and Sarah’s to pick up the minibus.  Our merry band of fifteen people had all been merrily making life as easy as possible for each other with car and roof sharing, although the bulk of the credit goes to Sarah, Dean and Stu who booked and organised everything – and in the case of the latter two, did all of the driving too.

Of course, we never went to sleep – we wiled away the hours nattering, Mark and Kenny playing guitar, Kenny learning some last minute German phrases to say when he was on stage and watched daft videos.  Ken left with the dog bus at 1am, we just carried on, Amanda tried to get some sleep, Karen did – soon enough it was time for us to go – five of us piled into my car (Trudi had rejoined us at this point) to head over to our next rendezvous.  With the car parked up it wasn’t long before the minibus arrived courtesy of Stu and we piled on.

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Freeborn Al / 23rd November 2016 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

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