Monday, February 04, 2008

Bearstock 3 gig review - The Hive, Brentford FC 3rd Feb 2008

An early start, well 3pm on a Sunday afternoon, as the sound experts did their stuff and I err just moved some chairs and tables around. Two big worries whenever you organize a gig or event, one will the artists turn up and secondly will any audience appear! Luckily come 4.30pm half of the Veneex arrived and soon after followed the host for the evening Robert Rankin, accompanied by his lovely wife. Of the other performers they all turned up and big kudos to Robb Johnson was doing a ‘Great Railway Journey’ style trip from Brighton – three hours each way by train with the infamous bus replacement service.

Sound checks were done, the doors were open and there were people coming in – yippee! During the course of the evening we had 104 paying punters through the door and add to that the musicians the crowd was a healthy 140-150 – the busiest the Hive has been for ages!

First up the Magpies (who featured my wife and daughter’s guitar teacher) and they were stunning! Superb guitar playing accompanied by bongos and then their tour de force as one played the guitar neck whilst the drummer played a beat on the guitar’s body whilst they threw a shaker between each other and carried on playing.

In between each act Robert Rankin did a few songs and poems plus introduced us to the marvels of the Buff – a remarkable piece of head/neck ware which he moulded into many shapes with his take on Badly Drawn Boy and the noose which he called the Saddam. He really was an excellent host and his Flying V ukulele added a real touch of rock ‘n’ roll to the proceedings.

My daughter Jasmine and her friend Alex Jenkins were on next. Alex played a trumpet medley with Jasmine doing two numbers on her guitar. Both went down a storm with the crowd and good to see two young musicians (they are both only nine) starting out on the live circuit.

Rhode Island Red, a duo, played a set of their own material including ‘Butterfly Girl’, a truly great tune and one cover ‘Nobody’s Fault But Mine’ (some band called Led Zep apparently made this famous?). Like acoustic Rolling Stones, minus Mick Jagger’s lips…

Stepan Pasicznik, the accordion player with the Ukrainians, played a fine set mixing traditional Ukrainian songs with some in English and everyone knew his Ukrainian version of ‘Rasputin’, which was a hit for Boney M. Needless to say Stepan’s version was much better! An excellent set and very enjoyable.

More toot from Mr Rankin! This included his tribute to fellow ukulele wizard George Formby. Absolute genius the way he fits his own words into Formby’s. Of course being an author and knowing what shy, modest types they are he was relentlessly plugging his new book ‘The Da-Da-De-Da-Da Code’, available now I believe from all good bookshops and those friendly online types Amazon.

The Veenex managed to snake an electric guitar onto the stage but being fair their heavy edgy alternative rock needed it and luckily it wasn’t too loud for the neighbours. A good set of tunes – reminded me at times of Hundred Reasons mixed with a bit of the Foo Fighters. Nice touch as well as their lead singer is a Brentford season ticket holder.

Next up is Brentford legend Robb Johnson (and Robert Rankin was chuffed to appear on the same bill as of course his new book features the blues musician Robert Johnson – see how it all connects?) who featured some football themed favourites plus a few new tunes of his excellent new album, All The Way For This’ including ‘Moronland’. Another Brentford legend Graham Larkbey joined Robb for a couple of songs as well!

Raffle time, with ten prizes of which the star prize was a signed copy of…‘The Da-Da-De-Da-Da Code’! Then onto Paul Stead of Scared Heart, who was appearing solo but as luck would have it the band’s former bass player Darren was in the audience and joined Paul on guitar. Great to hear these songs acoustically including ‘Lay It On The Line’ (complete with a few ad libs from Paul!) and ‘Lost’.

One final word from Robert Rankin who was accompanied by his wife on ukulele for his version of another George Formby classic ‘When I am Cleaning Windows’. But his version was about writing fantastic fiction! I have to say personally Mr Rankin was the star of the show as he kept the whole evening running and anyone who does the Prodigy’s ‘Smack My Bitch Up’ and ‘Firestarter’ on ukulele is tops in my book!
Headlining was Swill Odgers of the Men They Couldn’t Hang accompanied by a fiddle player, Phil Martin (Bitter Springs and The Long Decline, formerly with the Subway Sect). Swill is a very talented singer/songwriter in the folk/indie rock genre and he also played a couple of songs with lyrics penned by Robb Johnson. I was that impressed I bought a CD!

With the raffle added on the night raised £632 for the four charities (that’s £158 to each charity) – Diabetes UK, the Parkinson’s Disease Society, Spelthorne Crossroads for Carers and Bees United. Thanks to all who came along and supported the event and BIG thanks to Brentford FC for allowing me to use the venue for free so every penny raised on the night could go to the four charities. A perfect night for me seeing people enjoy live musicians (all of whom were excellent) and raising money for charity.

Jason Ritchie

PS I am still raising money for two other charities throughout 2008…

The roll of honour/thanks…

First off all the artists who appeared and gave their time for free and a special mention to Robert Rankin for being the best host you could wish for.

My wife, Nabila and daughter Jasmine; Alex Jenkins; Matt Davis, Peter Gilham, Tony Ashley and all at Brentford FC: mum & dad; Simon the PA wizard; Esther Angel for getting Robb Johnson & Swill Odgers onto the bill; the Stripes/Hive gigs crew of Tim ‘Top Cat’ Collinson, Feltham John, Kath, Bryan Clark (check out his monthly jazz nights at the Hive every first Monday of the month) and Pete Crook; Graham & the great bar staff; Jo Fletcher at Orion Publishing; Heathrow Villager; Staines & Ashford News; Staines Guardian; Feltham Chronicle; Hounslow & Richmond Times; Radio Wey; Radio Jackie; Hayes FM and those who supported the night, you are all stars!


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