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Ade Macrow 25th May 2008, 23:34, said:

100 Club
23rd May 2008

(5.00 / 5 overall score)

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Friday 23rd May 2008

It had been just three short months since Stackridge had played the 100 Club but, despite the short passage of time, allied with it being the start of a Bank Holiday weekend and having to compete against several big-name attractions such as Paul Weller, a goodly crowd of die hards and those seeking a refreshingly new musical experience all turned up at the famous Oxford Street venue.

The band arrived onstage just after nine . The two ladies in the band looked classy, the six chaps looked well, like Stackridge, really. James observed they had the set list for another band and suggested Keep On Running was the first number. For some odd reason, they only had Codge’s set list between them but, as usual, Mr Marsden’s list was a thing of colour and beauty.

Dora kicked matters off in typically rambunctious style, with The Last Plimsoll following on. Mutter and James observed that there was feedback between this and the ensuing Grooving Along… but the brief sounds were more like ‘squeakback’ and presumably an attempt by the equipment to emulate Sarah’s whistle-blowing at the cessation of Plimsoll. Rachel’s violin was especially sublime during this song.

Mutter informed the audience they’d had it “too good for too long”, so he was gonna sing one now. Thus, The Volunteer, replete with lusty ‘bantam appreciation’ from a certain member of the band and a very enthusiastic “no, he don’t, no he don’t” riposte from the fans. Wonderful guitar from Mr Davis during this number.

The Tommey beat fest, Anyone For Tennis preceded Happy Birthday, Dave Fisher from the band. The man had turned 50 on Monday and his sister Maggi had passed me a slip, asking if Mutter would kindly mention this on stage. Mr Slater did but I bet Dave didn’t expect such a musical tribute as well. It was Syracuse The Elephant that came along now, a song chosen for Dave’s dedication as he has had a life-long love of pachyderms.

It was then the moment for James’ “friend with a beard” to speak and so Crun told the true story of how he didn’t have any lubricant whilst fitting pipes one day, so ended up using salad cream! Dangerous Bacon and Friendliness came along, with Mutter observing of the latter, “that was pretty”. Yep. Pretty damn brilliant.

Time now to be Happy In The Lord before James turned to Crun and asked him why he wrote so many words to A Wonderful Day; Mutter pointing out how it was Maestros that rather weirdly floated Mr Walter’s boat. Then came God Speed The Plough. Sublime art needs nothing more to be added to it – it exists alone, entire, absolute and perfect. Plough is one such example.

Fundamentally Yours had made it into the first half but Mutter went into his pre-Dancing On Air spiel, with James jumping in and correcting him, Andy again produced some astonishing guitar work during this song, before Mutter’s “take it away. Please take it away” lead to his intro, now in its correct setting, for the aforementioned Dancing On Air. The set closed out with Fish In A Glass setting everything up perfectly for the second session.

And, without introduction of any kind, it was straight into Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime. The Steam Radio Song was especially popular and Lummy Days led to The Road To Venezuela, before which Wee Jim informed the audience that it was “Rachel’s birthday tomorrow”. (True). He then claimed she’d be about 12 (Untrue – but she’s not much older). A prodigious talent and a lovely girl. Venezuela was one of those rare renditions, with Andy singing the ‘whore’ alternative line.

The Stackridge Glastonbury Anthem, Teatime followed and at one point Mutter’s flute sounded like some lunatic bird, chirping. Beautiful, stunning stuff. The entire band were seamlessly in their collective stride, with Codge supplying power and subtlety, whenever each was required and Glenn in his normal role of The Man Who Does 35 Things At Once.

Speaking of GT, it was his lovely fat trombone riffs that so enhanced Save A Red Face. Mutter introduced this as being from “Mr Mick – a concept album that was misconceived. The highlight is probably the end, the very end – unless Andrew makes a mistake”. No true, of course and Mutter’s ad-libbed “George Chisholm lives!” comment during one of Glenn’s parts brought appreciative laughter from many, including no less a personage than the two-time Manager, Mike Tobin.

Andy was in loquacious mood and announced there was a “real Yattonian in the audience”. Cue Purple Spaceships Over Yatton. The observations (of Eloi or anybody else) regarding Plough equally apply here and to Andy’s Can Inspiration Save The Nation?

We were duly informed that Stackridge did know Something About The Beatles before James shouted “segue, segue” (unless it was an obscure reference to Segway – the preferred band method of self-travel perhaps) and off into Boots ‘N’ Shoes they went. Billie Jean intro and with some keyboard runs added by Glenn, some more ‘on fire’ Davis guitar and the debut of James on a ‘solo’ verse.

The Galloping Gaucho and Slark ended the second set proper, with the latter having another highlight, with Andy singing the ‘creosote car’ and ‘Kebeeble to Kenn’ wording for the first time since the band re-formed in 2007. Time was running short, so just the one encore of Do The Stanley.

Nobody went home complaining. As ever, all were anticipating further great gigs. A victory for common sense? You betcha. Funny that, as 'A Victory For Common Sense' just so happens to be the title of the forthcoming Stackridge CD, due towards the end of this year or early next. Keep your eyes and ears open and your wallets ready. It'll be money well spent...

Ade Macrow.


Ade Macrow 26th Apr 2008, 12:31, said:

Huntingdon Hall Worcester
25th Apr 2008

(5.00 / 5 overall score)

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Blokes whittling wood. Road signs and other street furniture with black and white poles. Park keepers fearsomely patrolling their domains, wearing their beloved brown coats of office. Sandy Denny anonymously-vocalising that ever-present television advertisement, viz. “There are two men in my life/To one, I am a mother/To the other, I’m a wife/And I give them both the best/With natural Shredded Wheat”. All things you never see or hear nowadays.

Neither do you see bands that enjoy making music so much that joie-de-vivre (and other pungent French scent) shoots out of every collective pore, engulfing the audience and taking them along on an intoxicating tide; an exhilarating ride as well. But soft! I prithee and plight my troth (you didn’t know Billy Shakespeare was writing this, did you?) that Stackridge are verily one such grouping of folk.

Crashing straight into Dora The Female Explorer, the band ploughed confidently through The Last Plimsoll and Grooving Along The Highway Etc before the first of Mutter’s lead vocals on The Volunteer. Codge joined in the singing on the last verse of this and Sarah (The Rude Girl) couldn’t resist adding her vocal pipes to the last “cocks”. Must have an obsession with breeding bantams, that one…

Anyone For Tennis again rightly served as a showcase for the wonderfully talented violin playing of Rachel. Glenn even managed to playfully tap James on his right leg at one stage. Debate about the nature of the next song’s subject led to James introducing it as Syracuse The Marmoset. Codge carried out a ‘cymbal test’ during the middle of this song! A Rachel-less Dangerous Bacon and a Mutter-free Friendliness followed, with Sarah’s superb bridging vocals and overall backing again a major contributory factor to the success of the song.

It was a former chapel and Mutter couldn’t resist the opportunity to deliver Happy In The Lord from the pulpit behind. And very good he was, too. As he joked afterwards “it’s so difficult lugging that around everywhere – I think we’ll leave it here. James attempted a verbal segue into A Wonderful Day. We learned Mutter gleaned the title for God Speed The Plough from a hotel in Ludlow, whilst waiting for the others to rise and shine. They all shone on this piece.

The re-established Fundamentally Yours, followed by Dancing On Air (with Mutter’s self-deprecating references to the 1976 Old Grey Whistle Test footage on the band performing same on ‘Dildo’ or ‘MyFace’) and Fish In A Glass closed out the first set.

The second set began with Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime and then came Steam Radio Song. The “Stackridge National Anthem” (M. Slater) Lummy Days came next, swiftly pursued by The Road To Venezuela, and Fascinating World. This latter song wasn’t the newer syncopated version previously heard in 2008 but did feature new flute passages.

Save A Red Face, Purple Spaceships Over Yatton, Can Inspiration Save The Nation? and Something About The Beatles were next in line. Boots ‘N’ Shoes gets rockier and even better every time it’s heard. The Gaucho galloped in traditional fashion and even Rach was seen singing the “la la la” section of Slark. And why not? This young lady’s talent is boundless.

In a continuation of an earlier jocular reference, James began to play The Troggs’ Wild Thing as the first encore and many of the band joined in. It was another of those nights when, despite a few sound problems, bonhomie and good-naturedness were to the fore, on and off stage. Do The Stanley finally concluded another great gig.

Ade Macrow

Wonderfully atmospheric venue. Ideal for medium-sized gigs.
Ade Macrow 2nd Mar 2008, 23:16, said:

The Limelight Club
15th Feb 2008

(4.67 / 5 overall score)

Review this Gig

Taking the stage at just gone 9.15, James asked “when was the last time you were in Crewe?” Mutter accurately riposted “today!” and the band were away into a rollicking version of Dora, The Female Explorer which made a perfect set opener.

Despite the slight sense of nervousness that seemed to emanate from the band in the first few minutes, it soon become abundantly clear that this was another gig where they need have no worries about the audience reaction. Codge tossed and spun a drumstick in the air at the end of the song. He dropped it, of course.

Last Plimsoll was second, before Miss Rachel Hall was introduced, having aged to 14 now and Grooving Along On The Highway, On A Monday Morning, Once ensued.

It is invidious to single out individuals, especially when each and every member is so vital a component of that wondrous thing that is Stackridge but mention must be made of Andy Davis. He seemed to grab this gig by the proverbial horns from the start and his double-handed holding of the mike during the singing of Plimsoll was straight out of the approved ‘rock god’ book.

Kudos too to David ‘Son’ Tommey, sound man extraordinaire, who mixed Andy’s guitar well to the fore. A wonderful decision, as Andy was – to use the vernacular – ‘on fire’ all night and many of us couldn’t recall a previous occasion when his guitar-playing had been quite so inspired.

Anyone For Tennis saw an athletic leap from the riser at the back of the stage that housed Sarah, Rach and Codge to the front from Glenn ‘Dad’ Tommey. He’s an incredibly fit and spry man and his fitness totally belies his 74 years.

Syracuse The Elephant followed. Really warming to the audience, Mutter mentioned the fact that The ‘Ridge were now ‘flesh rippers’ but, back in the day when they weren’t, Dangerous Bacon was written. For those who like to keep notes, Rach, Sarah and James are vegetarians. See all the extra snippets you get in a review like this?

James wasn’t to be denied, suggesting that the next song should be entitled Dangerous Friendliness. It was the harmony-fest (and harmony-feast) that is Friendliness. Happy In The Lord and Wonderful Day, with a much-shortened Crun spoken word intro, before the superb piece that is God Speed The Plough and then Dancing On Air, which had the “sailing on air” and whistled ending. Fish In A Glass closed off the first set.

Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime opened the second half. How heartening it was to see that about 95% of the audience knew all the words to each song, including the Weekend material. Lummy Days and then Steam Radio Song arrived, with Codge enthusiastically conducting the crowd clapping by tapping his sticks together above his head. After travelling to Venezuela, James again claimed the tempo of Teatime was “too fast” so it began again. Then came Fascinating World, in all its retooled splendour, with the faster, syncopated rhythm and Mutter flute solo.

Save A Red Face has been incorporated so well it seems as if it has been part of the set for eons. Glenn’s big fat brassy punctuation works a treat and his ‘dancing’ – along with that of Rachel and Sarah – didn’t go unnoticed. Maybe his GP said such exercise would be beneficial for those joints…

Does anything have to be written about Purple Spaceships Over Yatton? It was the first time reverb on flute had been featured since Pete Donovan’s days. Can Inspiration Save The Nation? was the question posited. The answer was a resounding ‘yes’.

Temporary confusion reigned when James decided to do Something About The Beatles, rather than the next number on the set lists but flexibility is good. Boots ‘N’ Shoes started but they realised they hadn’t begun with the first few bars of Billie Jean, as per quirky tradition, so it began again with its ‘proper’ intro reinstated.

The glorious thing about this concert was how much fun everyone was evidently having on stage. Andy ‘Codge’ Marsden (drums) was an understated powerhouse; James ‘Crun’ Walter (bass) was playing bass in that often underrated way of his; Glenn Tommey (keyboards/trombone/vocals) was harmonising, playing and doing a million other things; James Warren (rhythm and occasional lead guitar/lead vocals) was giving it everything – and doing it supremely well, as always; Mutter Slate (flute/castanets/lead vocals) was covering every inch of the stage front and singing and blowing up a storm; Andy Davis (lead guitar/keyboards/lead vocals) was astonishing, completely astonishing (even to we grizzled and veteran Stacko-watchers).

Rachel Hall (lead violin) was simply awesome. So much talent in a woman of such tender years. It’s frightening to think how good she’ll be when she hits puberty. (Sorry – ‘JW’ style joke there. The humour is infectious). As for Sarah Mitchell (second violin/harmony vocals/whistle), they say the human body is comprised of 98% liquid. Not SM. She’s made up of Voice, Lungs, Smile, Bounce and Talent.

How infectious is the band? Well, there was a bloke on crutches who proceeded to wave them in the air throughout the gig, with joyous disregard for his heath or ability to even stand up. Never mind “walking upon the water” as in Fascinating World – this band can bring injured people back to full health, rather like Lazarus arising from the dead!

The Galloping Gaucho galloped, roared along by the crowd and Slark did his worst but this gig was a huge celebratory event from start to finish. The single encore was Do The Stanley. Many did and the band took their merited curtain calls and it was all over.

Ade Macrow

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