Monday, December 24, 2012

Special Xmas Gigs

Meeting up on tour this week with several German visitors over for the annual Christmas Quofest, led me to ponder the whole topic of the traditional Christmas gig. Given there's still time to attend a future Quofest, which other past one would I like to have been at given the chance to board that rock time machine … Undoubtedly, being at one of the Beatle fan clubs shows at the Hammersmith Odeon in ’64 or ’65 would be high on the list – though they were actually held just after Xmas. Queen also performed a couple of special shows at the Odeon in the mid-70s that were apparently memorable ( The Who offered their fans a choice of three nights at the Odeon in 75 as ‘A Xmas Present from the ‘orrible ‘oo’. But I'd not be choosing from the Odeon gigs alone. There was the famed ‘Christmas on Earth’ gig at the Olympia ’67; Pink Floyd, Hendrix, Traffic, The Move; now that has some appeal … I’ll also wager there were some memorable Christmas parties at the Marquee, UFO and Roundhouse in those halcyon 60’s and early ’70, too. Melody Maker journo and London rock tour friend, Chris Welsh, could probably remember a few of those for us. But my Xmas Number No.1 gig? No argument; the one I’d have loved to have been at was the 'Xmas Party at the Patti Pavilion’, Swansea, 1972, thrown by Welsh rockers, Man, with the incomparable Dave Edmunds.
There’s a great live album of this available but surely no real substitute for being there. Not London, I appreciate, but Wales produces some great rock too! Happy Christmas, or as they say in Wales, Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd dda!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Master of Abbey Road

Top on the ‘dream list’ of probably every Beatle fan is a visit to the actual studio at Abbey Road where most of the magic was created (about 90% of their output). Perhaps unsurprisingly, EMI doesn’t encourage fans to get closer than the (sometime) white wall these days. However, there are two ways in… The studio offers a very narrow window of opportunity over two, three-day periods in March. For £80 a person you get to hear presentations by Brian Kehew and Kevin Ryan (authors of the critically acclaimed, definitive book ‘Recording the Beatles’), tour Studio 2 itself, see how mixing is done and view equipment and instruments used by the Fab Four. Tickets are available through There’s another alternative; hire the facilities! Full session hire would be enormously expensive but as Coelho, member of popular Brazilian band "Biquini Cavadão". (and friend of London Rock Tours) discovered recently, completing a final mastering there doesn’t cost much more than a couple of tickets for the ‘Inside Abbey Road’ tours. What’s more, like Coelho, you get to take a piece of vinyl home with you and your next single can boast ‘mixed at Abbey Road’ on the label!
Coelho is pictured here with a copy of an acoustic version of the single "Entre beijos e mais beijos" from the album "Roda-Gigante", using the same facilities as were used on several Beatle productions.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Capital Covered

Continuing the quest for album covers that feature London locations as part of the cover art, I stumble upon another rarely photographed site - at least when used for rock'n'roll; Olympia Grand Hall. It's often forgotten that Olympia was at one time a major rock venue. With a capacity of around ten thousand it was a favoured venue for indoor 'festivals' vying for business against the similarly-sized Ally Pally on the other side of the city. In the late 60s and early 70s it hosted some amazing line-ups including, topically, an all day and night event on 22 December 1967. 'Xmas on Earth' featured The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Pink Floyd with Syd, Traffic, The Move, Soft Machine, Tomorrow and Eric Burdon & The New Animals. Oh, for a time-machine! By 1975 it, and rock, was well established and Olympia was the venue for the Great British Music Festival. The line-up for this 4-day event included Procul Harum, Bad Company, Status Quo, Thin Lizzy and Pretty Things, along with the less well-remembered SNAFU, Ronnie Lane's Slim Chance and John Miles. Not bad at £3.50 for a day.
The Chemical Brothers 'Surrender' album captures a moment in time at the Olympia. Fans sit 'groovin' in the great hall while in the foreground a lone 'idiot dancer' does his own, probably chemically induced, 'thing'. You can see why the shot was chosen. It is rumoured, by the way, that somewhere there's film of the Xmas on Earth gig; now finding that would be a Christmas present to remember!