Sunday, August 26, 2012

50-Years of 'Beat', 50-years of 'Bossa'

There’s always great excitement at Liverpool’s annual August Matthews Street Festival and International Beatle Week, but this year there’s been the added spice of it being fifty-years on from a few notable Beatle anniversaries. One of the most important dates in Beatle history was the 18th August 1962, the day Ringo made his debut at a small venue in Port Sunlight, a town near Liverpool. On board the rock tour this week we had ‘Help’, one of Mexico’s top Beatle tribute bands. As part of Beatle week they are playing at the same Port Sunlight venue. Beatle week brings ‘Beatle-nuts’ in from far and wide; we also had the ‘Tefeatles’ from Guatemala on board an afternoon tour. Yes, Guatemala! Perhaps the most interesting Latin American connection, however, was a performance by the Brazilian band ‘Clube Big Beatles’ at Bem Brazil, a Brazilian restaurant in Liverpool, in a gig sponsored by The Beatle Story attraction. Just another tribute band? Hardly. Not only was the band absolutely terrific, adding Brazilian rhythms (and instruments) to the original arrangements, but Andreas Kisser from Brazilian heavy metal heroes, Sepultura’ stepped up to the plate to take on lean guitar role and vocals on a couple of numbers, including ‘Get Back’. Powerful stuff! Kisser is the first Brazilian artist to have a 'fame' brick enscribed to him on the Cavern Wall. There’s a certain irony in this Brazilian tribute. It was also fifty-years ago that the Bossa Nova was born; August 02 1962 was the day that Tom Jobin and Vinicious de Moraes launched ‘The Girl from Ipanema’. Despite this song being the second most recorded song after ‘Yesterday’, the rest of the Bossa movement was effectively drowned out by the success of The Beatles and associated beat music.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Hendrix, Stones & Marley... in a day

Rock fans visiting London over this next month can visit no less than three major exhibitions – even if you have limited time and money. First up, in the heart of Covent Garden, there’s an amazing Hendrix exhibition on loan from Seattle’s Experience Music Project. Flamboyant shirts, hand-written lyrics, posters and photographs grace the exhibition space of The Hospitality Club (a cool hang-out for creative types), 24 Endell Street. My favourite piece, however, is what remains of a highly-decorated, Fender Strat that he smashed at the finale of his performance in front of the Beatles at their own Saville Theatre. Coincidentally, that theatre is only a stone’s throw away as is the Beatles first fan club office. The exhibition only runs until the end of AUGUST so you have to be quick to catch this one. And talking of stones … and indeed another stone’s throw away at Somerset House (on the Strand) is the celebratory exhibition, ‘The Rolling Stones 50 Years’. This is an amazing collection of fantastic photographs, many previously unseen, spanning their career years. There are a couple of crackers of contrite-looking Jagger post-drug bust, and a great shot of the bacchanalian launch party they had in Kensington’s Gore Hotel for the launch of Beggars Banquet. It’s not only a free exhibition, but if you can make it while the Olympics are on you get the added bonus of seeing some live Brazilian music as Rio has taken over this lovely building to host its cultural centre. Now to complete the perfect day, hop on the underground’s Jubilee Line to the British Music Experience at the O2, Greenwich. Take it from me, this is an easy run taking no more then 15 minutes. The O2 is worth visiting in its own right but until mid-October there’s the added attraction of a rare Bob Marley exhibition. In addition to lots of photographs and memorabilia, there are also panels explaining the Jamaican roots of reggae and how it became so much an integral part of the UK’s music scene. There’s a nice youtube promo for it (with apologies for my own ‘two penneth’ accidental contribution!) I especially loved the BME’s exhibition, especially recently having had the opportunity of actually seeing the flat Marley lived in for a time while recording at Island’s Sarn Studios in Notting Hill. So there you are; three terrific exhibitions in three terrific locations. That’s the thing with rock tourism – it gets you places you’d never otherwise see!