Billy Idol

Yup. That’s right. Billy Idol.

One of the many reasons I like going to watch older bands/musicians is precisely because of their age. If they’ve been touring for 20 odd years, chances are, they’re gunna be good. I know there are a lot of new bands on the scene that have fantastic live shows, some even make their names with their live shows rather than releasing a mountain of singles and a couple of albums. Such as the correspondents. Anyway, we seem to be getting a bit off topic.

I was good for this gig, I arrived at 4, and doors didn’t open ’til 7. I had time to eat some food, and got a hot drink to keep myself warm while waiting in the queue. I meet a lovely couple while waiting, who had traveled up from Cornwall to see Billy. The guy was a Billy Idol look-alike. He had the hair, the spikes, the random pieces of metal sticking out of his face. They were lovely, and kept topping up my chai tea with brandy, which made the waiting a lot less painful. We also made friends with another girl waiting in the queue, and when we got into the gig all four of us were constantly looking out for each other. It was nice. It felt like a little family. A weird family, but a family none the less.

It was at the Apollo, in Hammersmith. I’ve seen a number of shows there, from Queen (and Adam Lambert – who are playing again in January) to Russell Brand (my opinions on whom are complicated) and Tim Minchin. It’s a great venue, and have utilised the trick of ‘the sloping floor’ so that everyone has a chance at seeing, even if they’re right at the back.

The support act were…interesting. A band called ‘the Dough Rollers‘ hailing from the Big Apple. They had a very punky vibe about them, but the lead singer seemed to be very into ‘the music’ and paid little heed to the audience. Many of the older members of the audience weren’t impressed, but I thought they were a genuine punk band, and worked well as an opener.

Billy himself was…amazing. The whole show was grand. He had about 5 costume changes throughout his two hour set, and came very close to the crowd, constantly making eye-contact with people in the front (including me) which helped keep the gig personal. (Even if it was staged). I know he’s be doing this a long time, and you can tell (not just because of the wrinkles). He had signed set-lists he personally gave out to the front row (which I sadly did not get) and Stevie Stephens (the lead guitarist) had a seemingly endless supply of picks, which he kept throwing out to the audience (I did not get one of these either). Stevie is a brilliant guitarist. He entertained the crowd with heart-stoppingly good solos while Billy was changing into yet ANOTHER outfit.

All in all, great gig. I’m using it as my warm up for Die Toten Hosen, who I am going to see in December. I feel the crowd will be a bit more violent with them.

I’m pretty proud of these photos. I seem to have come out with a number of good shots. (Well, I did take 577 photos, so one or two good ones is to be expected, even if it is just luck)

Lindsey Stirling

I’m a bit behind, this gig actually happened last week, and I have since been to two other gigs, which you will hear about in due time.

So, let’s start at the beginning. Or at least, pick up from where we left off.

For those of you that don’t know who Lindsey Stirling is, I really recommend that you check her out. She first reached the public eye when she took part in America’s Got Talent *audible gagging sound*. I know, I know, eugh. But, she didn’t win, and has gone on to make AND SELL wonderful music, largely without a label, which – in my books- is an achievement. (NB She’s now has the same manager as Lady GaGa, Troy Carter. Put simply, she plays the violin (her own compositions, as well as covers) while dancing in a way that seems almost impossible. With some heavy Drum & Bass thrown in for good measure.

Lindsey has performed a couple of times in and around the UK, I just seem to have missed her every time. I was really excited about seeing Lindsey, not only because I love her music and her style, I also knew it was going to be an amazing spectacle to watch.

And I was right. There was a fantastic light show, dry-ice (which seems almost compulsory these days) along with two exquisite backing dancers (who often took the limelight off Lindsey, which is not an easy feat). Though this, paired with Lindsey incessant moving, made it incredibly difficult to take any pictures that weren’t saturated in purple or blurred. But, there are a couple of good ones there.

What was nice about the whole show is that it had the potential to become pretentious. Ok, maybe ‘crazy dancing violinist’ doesn’t tick many boxes at the elite entertainment club, there was always the danger of it becoming too refined for it’s fans. This was avoided, however, by Lindsey cracking jokes between songs, and making light of the whole show. She did a great on-stage costume change, in which she was dressed by her dancers in a lime green tracksuit, while trying to explain to us what was happening – apparently a reinterpretation of a Lady GaGa show. This worked well to break down the barrier between audience and performer. The lime green outfit was used in her next song, where the lights were ultra-violet, and only her body and the electric violin could be seen, and effect that couldn’t be capture on camera. Well, not mine anyway.

The (Kast Off) Kinks!

Ok, so yeah, I saw the Kinks.

It was FANTASTIC! The venue was the Half-Moon in Putney, a lovely, unassuming pub just down the road from Putney bridge. I say unassuming. It’s only unassuming if you’re under 60. Back in it’s hay-day it was a hotspot for rock (and occasionally punk) bands. And when I say hotspot, I MEAN hotspot. A list of people who’ve played? Hmm, I dunno, how about The Who, The Stones (Ya’know, the ones that roll as well as rock) and everyone’s favorite album droppers, U2. So, this is where the big boys played, before they died/had a bigger fanbase or, in Bono’s case, reached a point where every show has to be played in a stadium so he can fit his ego in.

The Kast Off Kinks are an amalgamation of Kinks members throughout the ages. Think of it as seeing the Sugarbabes now. Or, actually, any point in the last 10 years. But with people who can actually play instruments. They still have their original drummer -Mick Avory, and an assortment of ‘kinks through the ages’ members – Jim Rodford on Bass, Ian Gibbons on Keys, and John Clarke on Lead vocals and Guitar.

So after mingling with the rest of the audience, I gauged that this was not a young people gig. I did get interrogated by a number of people, all accusing me of being an official photographer or a friend of the band. Each as unlikely as the other. The crowd where all lovely, all had their hearing-aids on full, and waving their walking sticks in the air. Yeah, that kind of crowd.

When the (Kast Off) Kinks came on it was clear that though they are perhaps past their best years they still have an adoring fanbase. Their voices aren’t up to usual standard, but, let’s be honest, they’re not the kind of band you listen to for their superior vocals. As Clarke took to the stage he pointed at the audience, asking if we were ready. His hand was shaking. However, this didn’t stop him from playing incredibly well throughout their 2 hour set.

They all took turns at singing the lead for various songs, with Avory coming out behind the drum kit to sing the vocals for ‘Dedicated follower of Fashion‘, wearing a fantastically sequin-y jacket. Gibbons, rather fittingly, sung ‘Apeman‘ as well as ‘Muswell Hillbilly’ and Rodford sung on ‘See my Friends‘.

A very big fan – Bruce MacQueen – had come down from Washington DC (that’s right, DC guys) for his 60th(?) Birthday. (I’m pretty sure it was his 60th). The band had heard about this, and their respective partners had got together and baked him a cake. It was huge, and everyone got a piece. A very good way to make sure a gig is enjoyed more. For Bruce’s birthday, he’d asked them to play ‘Misfits‘, which they’d never played before, but they happily obliged. There’s some fairly decent youtube footage of it, the video was shot by Macqueen himself.

After they finished the band were pretty happy to talk to fans while they packed up their equipment. Which I thought was lovely. Anyway, as always, too much talking. Here are some pretty pictures. (Most of these are black and white because the light/colour was slightly off, however, I think they’ve come out pretty well) Let me know what you think.