An exceptional nights entertainment at a superb venue, made for one of the best gigs of 2023 and its still only March
Before I wax lyrical about Steve and Jims gig, I wanted to say a few words about this stunning little venue in Barnoldswick (locally known as Barlick) not far from the Yorkshire Dales and the Forest of Bowland in Lancs. Visit the McCulloughs Irish Bar, and hidden away in the basement is a gorgeous venue (max 60 peeps) that has enough pictures on the wall to make any Hard Rock hotel jealous, thanks to Peter and Julie who run the place. It is absolutely brilliant, and I wish I had a local like this.
On to the gig. Apparently this is Steve’s first set of solo gigs as a performer in over 30 years and was initially advertised as a single gig. Its ended up as a mini tour with the Sunday night being the first of 2 performances at the Arts Centre
Without going into masses of detail, in a nutshell this was one of my favourite gigs in seeing ‘The Voice’ in over 34 years of seeing Wildlife, FM in their few line ups, and even SO! I don’t know how many songs the guys had rehearsed for this set of gigs, but I am guessing it was over 100 based on the list they kept pointing to. It was an opportunity to listen to songs old, and new, with everything in-between, and a shitload of stories and banter to keep everyone happy.
We were treated to the likes of songs that had not been played in some time – Don’t Stop, Tattoo Needle, Say it Like it Is, Only The Strong Survive, but fuck all from Aphrodisiac (I knew I should have shouted out for Blood and Gasoline as it was on the bloody list), and most of the songs come with an accompanying story.
We heard stories of touring with the likes of Bon Jovi, and all the big guns from back in the day, a lot about brother Chris who can knock out a blistering set of lyrics whilst being glued to the telly watching Neighbours of all things, the story of Shot In The Dark (which got nicked by Soussan and offered to Ozzy with nothing of monetary value coming back to the Overland bros), with Steve still not having a bad word to say about it (!), writing a hit song for Radio 2, how he joined FM and the 4 demos they recorded to get the deal, and lots, lots more.
We got to hear Jim sing a couple of songs, one of them a blues song that just blew me away, to a song that was on Jims Myspace page a few years ago (I had the downloads but lost them!), and some excellent bants when Jim stated he had toured the sates before Steve……3 times!
Steve dug out the first ever song he wrote as a 13 yr old and we were advised not to take too much notice of the lyrics, or the music. (Sunshine? I knew I should have taken notes!)
I think that this gig was on a par with my Lawrence Gowan gig at Crewe a few years back. Mostly audience requests from a pair of blokes who clearly love each others company and trade insults with wild and funny abandon.
Theres already a gig announced for Dec that I have missed out on, but hey, its good to give others a chance to witness this wonderful spectacle of a gig. This is one of my highlights of the year, and very little is likely to surpass it in 2023.
My Top albums of 2020. Considering the year its been, all bands deserve a massive pat on the back for getting their music out there!
Hi there dear reader, how’s it going? It’s been a bit of a shit year, well since March anyway. Covid, lockdown, mutated covid, more lockdown. Thankfully the new vaccinations will be rolled out before the mutated virus takes hold and we will be back to some form of normalcy, whatever the fuck that’s supped to be like? I just hope that gigs are a part of it because a musicians life is pretty fucked, not only because of Covid, but Brexit could put paid to overseas acts wanting to play the UK, especially as it look like no deal has been done for the performing arts, and its likely that any touring artistes to the UK will have to fork out a shit load of money before they set foot in Blighty. They will pay tax on all merch they bring in, even if they don’t sell much, and will no doubt require visas, jumping through hoops and whatever else the UK government throws at them. Only the most dedicated and higher profile bands might prevail. I just hope it doesn’t kill off the industry once and for all. We all need to support bands moving forward, through album and merch sales directly via the bands so that they see the money, and go and support live music like its never been supported before, like our lives depend on it. Even going to support bands we haven’t wanted to before because they and every band need the support. What I missed in gigs in 2020 I made up through album purchases, and I think waiting for albums to arrive at my door kept me from a downward spiral. I haven’t written much because I found it difficult, so I apologise to all the PR people who sent me stuff, I struggled to get my arse into gear and I promise you a lot more in 2021.
If you brought out an album in 2020, well done. In the most trying of circumstances, you still did it. Far be it me to slag off an album, because you fucking rocked this year in getting your music out there. Well done guys.
All the albums below are purchases made in 2020.
Enough of my opinion, let’s get down to what counts the most. Music.
15. Jim Kirkpatrick – Ballad of a Prodigal Son
We all know Jim can sing, because FM have some of the best harmonies in the business, but the man’s got soul and blues in his voice! He even ropes in fellow villager Steve Overland so you know its in a good place. It’s for fans of Bad Company. Talking of BC, check out ‘Ain’t Goin’ Down Alone’, its brilliant.
14. Room Experience – Another Time And Place
Solid work again from Firmo and the gang. They certainly like a power ballad and mix it up with some heavier numbers. Its this heavier numbers that whetted my appetite. Check out ‘A Thousand Lies’ and ‘Another Place and Time’
13. Perfect Plan – Time For A Miracle
Heavier than the debut, and its a cracking second album. They evoke bands like Foreigner, Giant and Bon Jovi and in Kent Hills they have one of the finest singers in the business. Check out ‘Nobody’s Fool’
12. The Spectre Beneath – The New Identity Of Sidney Stone
Sophomore album from these guys, who’s debut I loved last year. Paz has followed it up with some brutal riffs, and has unearthed a gem in Lockser. The killer track for me is ‘The Premature Burial’.
11. FM – Synchronized
Probably the second best album of FM Part 2 which started back in 2010 with Metropolis. FM are in a golden period, and are one of the finest British rock acts of this or any other generation. It saw a slightly different approach and showed that they are not resting on their Laurels. In ‘Change for the Better’ and ‘Pray’ the future of FM is there for all to see.
10. Pain Of Salvation – Panther
These guys never do anything by halves and live up to the meaning of ‘progressive’. Its not their most accessible, but after a few listens you truly appreciate the magnitude of the songs on offer. Highlights are ‘Wait’ and the epic ‘Icon’ and magnificent ‘Icon’.
9. Deep Purple – Whoosh
Who would have though that two of the best albums of 2020 are by bands that were founded many, many decades ago! First up from the oldies is Purple with probably their best album since Perfect Strangers. Ian Gillan still sounds great, Morse is superb, and when you have Airey, Glover and the master (Paice) making up the band, they can play anything. Now in their SEVENTH decade, long may they continue. Check out ‘No Need To Shout’
8. Stryper – Even The Devil Believes
Since the last decade began Stryper have been on a metal journey, with every one of their albums being ‘more metal’ than the previous one and I for one am loving it. I just wonder what kind of band they would be had they taken this current path some forty odd years ago. They still remain a novelty band to some, but to me they are one of the finest metal bands on the planet. Thats metal, not Christian. Check out ‘For God and Rock ’n’ Roll’ and ‘Make Love Great Again’ and ‘This I Pray’
7. Cryptex – Once Upon A Time
Think Queen crossed with Meatloaf, Jethro Tull, Tim Burton and the Brothers Grimm and you might have an idea of their music. Its all the brain child Simon Moskon, but they are one of the best 3 pieces this side of a DFS sale. ‘Once Upon A Time’ and ‘Bloodmoon’ are fantastic
6. H.E.A.T. – II
Heat have been good with Gronwall, bordering on great. They have tried to grab the audience kicking and screaming by the lapels to listen to their very infectious brand of music. They have had the tunes, the personality and the determination to succeed, but ut hasn’t quite happened. Gronwall recently bailed and original singer Lekremo is back in the fold. The next album needs to be a belter. Check out ‘One by One’ and ‘Rock Your Body’
5. Lionheart – The Reality Of Miracles
Another veteran band to make the list. Their last album was my fave of the year back in 2017. As soon as Lee Smalls sings ‘Rock and roll is gonna save ya!’ You know the stall is well and truly set out. Great harmonies, great songs. Only Vega in the melodic rock genre did it better this year. Check out the title track ‘The Reality of Miracles’ and ‘High Plains Drifter’
4. Larkin Poe – Self Made Man
I was introduced to these two gems by my son. They have been building their reputation in the UK with each album, and ‘SMM’ is no exception. Probably the best Blues outfit you haven’t heard yet! Check out ‘She’s A Self Made Man’ and ‘Back Down South’. Wonderful!
3. Vega – Grit Your Teeth
Vega went big with “GYT’ with a capital B.I.G! And it worked. Easily their best album to date. Huge anthems, harmonies to die for and Workman is in top form. These guys should be big by now and I don’t know why. Im hoping that 2021 will be their year. Check out ‘Blind’ and ‘Grit Your Teeth’
2. Ayreon – Transitus
Mr Lucassen never lets me down. He came back with a cast of old and new and ripped up the rule book for symphonic, bombastic storytelling. He even roped in the fourth Doctor, Tom Baker! Check out ‘Listen To My Story’ and ‘Talk Of The Town’. Deserves to be made into a Broadway show!
1. AC/DC – Power Up
I’ve never been a massive DC fan and have dipped in and out over the years, mainly because amongst all the truly great stuff, there has been some bog standard stuff along the way. I’ve got to the point in my life where a 65 year old in a school uniform just looks fucking freaky! A couple of years back I thought they would slip away gracefully especially after losing lynchpin Malcolm Young, and then seemed to kick Johnson into the Shady Acres Metal Singers Retirement Home. I had no desire to listen to an Axl fronted DC, so when the PR started appearing everywhere across the web, I was intrigued to see if they could still cut it without Malcolm Young, and boy did they deliver. Obviously there is nothing new here, but that’s AC/DC in a nutshell. But when they get it right, they are brilliant. Check out ‘Shot In The Dark’, ‘Demon Fire’ and ‘Realize’.