I saw this article today on the BBC website. Nottingham’s Rock City has turned 40.
They’ve been shut down throughout the pandemic, and I’ve been worried they might not survive. It’d be a disaster if they closed for good.
It’s a brilliant venue. I must admit that some of the bands that play there aren’t my cup of tea, but the rock bands certainly are.
Sometimes it’s a case of seeing them before they sell out to pop or rap. Other times, it’s a blast from the past, with bands you maybe grew up with and who are still going strong.
Then you get the genuine new bands who are good at what they do. In many cases, they’re big in America, but not so well known here.
Then come the ones who are big here, but not as much so in the rest of the world.
And then there are the cult bands which most people have never heard of, but who have a huge following meaning they sell out unless you get in quick.
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been now. Sometimes it averages once a month, and I’ve been doing that for many years.
This year is one that will go down in infamy for the obvious reasons, but the future is looking a little brighter now as far as the pandemic is concerned.
So here’s looking forward to Rock City’s next 40 years!
A couple of years ago I was having a clear out and I was amazed at the number of magazines I’d collected over the years. They were mainly my Classic Rock mags, and part of my decision to have a clear out was that I’d been getting more and more disillusioned with that particular publication.
At the time, I was on an annual subscription, but Planet Rock had just launched its own magazine and that did exactly what it said on the tin – it covered rock music. Classic Rock acquired a new editor, and she made it clear in her introductory piece what she was planning. Subsequently, any rock music they covered had to include at least half female acts – meaning it became obscure and far from ‘classic’, at best – and they also decided that (as just one example) Depeche Mode somehow ticked both the ‘classic’ and ‘rock’ boxes at the same time (actually, they decided twice in the space of just a couple of months with that one example). Then they did their ‘best 100 female artists of all time’ issue, and necessarily had to include non-rock genres to fill it out. That was it from me, and I cancelled my sub.
Before any feminists start frothing at the mouth over this, I go to see lots of female artists and bands with female members. I actually seek them out if I hear them on Planet Rock and like the sound. Like Samantha Fish, Haim, Paramore, Evanescence, Courtney Love, Joanne Shaw Taylor, The Lounge Kittens… I just don’t need any feminist magazine editors trying to filter out the men for me. And if you don’t like the fact that I don’t like that fact, click the back button and go somewhere else.
Planet Rock mag suits me fine, but when the lockdown came along, it also came with a lot of extra time for reading and finding tips on how to do stuff I wouldn’t have otherwise had time for. And going out to buy magazines wasn’t an option – even if it would have been of benefit with the ‘current’ issue on sale (you usually need a series of them).
A few years ago, as a result of my quest to find some authentic German food recipes, I came across a subscription service called Readly. It carries – and this is no exaggeration – thousands of UK titles. They’re all the ones you see on the newsstands (and many you don’t), from TV Times, OK!, Hello!, through all the photography and amateur DIY magazines, through to music and musicians (including Classic Rock). They cover specialist computer and technology subjects, gaming, weddings, cycling, fishing, horse riding, pets… everything (but no X-rated adult stuff). Including back issues, too, which multiplies the content by at least ten. And as I already implied, they have similar numbers of publications from Europe, Asia, and America. They’ve also recently started including newspapers, though it’s only The Independent and Evening Standard right now.
My normal Readly subscription is less than £8 a month, but they offer a two months for free trial. Even so, at £8 a month, that’s the newsstand cost of just three magazines! If you were after foreign magazines, you’d probably pay more than that for a single issue once shipping was included.
You can get the Readly app with the offer through Amazon (it’s free), and you can read on your phone, tablet, or computer. You can also read offline by downloading the content.
Another legend from my childhood gone. Sweet were one of the glam rock pioneers in the early 70s, and one of the bands I grew up with.
The 70s was easily the best for music.
Steve Priest – one of the founding members – was the one who wore make-up and big ear-rings. RIP, Steve.
Well, that’s one down. I was due to see Bad Touch next week at the Bodega. I’d heard the band were going to reschedule, and now it’s official – the gig has been rearranged for September.
Fingers crossed things are better by then. This year was gearing up to be a big one, with lots of tickets already purchased. Some of the bigger events, like Joe Bonamassa (almost certainly off) and Hollywood Vampires (later in the year), are more likely to be cancelled than rearranged. George Thorogood, who’s been on my bucket list for years, is currently booked for July, which is borderline right now.
I have a few gigs coming up. The first is at The Bodega next week, but I hear that the band has already decided to postpone the gig (not official yet). I have several big ones at the rate of about one a month, and it isn’t looking good.
This is a sad, sad day. It is reported that Neil Peart, drummer with Rush, has died from brain cancer at the age of 67.
I was still hoping beyond hope that I’d get to see them one more time, but sadly that is no longer to be. RIP Neil. And thanks for a lifetime of memories. I hope everything is clear now.
I’ve been to a lot of gigs the last few years, though I haven’t posted any articles about them. I need to do a bit of catching up on that.
Anyway, I went to a brilliant show on Friday at Rock City in Nottingham. After Rush, my favourite genres have to be blues and Southern rock – both of which seem to be very popular these days, and Planet Rock covers them a lot. That was how I came to know bands like Blackberry Smoke, The Cadillac Three, and Brothers Osborne.
In fact, I saw The Cadillacs a couple of months ago (hell, it was a year ago!), and Brothers Osborne were supporting them. So, Osbornes announced a headlining tour of their own, I got tickets.
Take a listen to this. They played one of my favourite songs, Copperhead Road, originally written by Steve Earle. They nailed it completely.
It came out of the blue, but I recognised it after the first few drum stomps, just as the mandolin came in.
I have to say that it was easily the best gig I’ve been to in a long time. The crowd was well up for it, and every song was worth listening to. Lots of slide guitar, keyboards, banjos, and mandolins – and extended solos. Although officially a duo, they had an admirable backing band, to whom they gave generous room to perform – the backing guitarist in particular, who I believe is called Jason Graumlich.
The encore seemed unusually long – I haven’t listened to the full recording yet, but there must have been five or more songs. Most bands don’t go above three. But it didn’t matter. It could have gone on for another hour and still been great.
The band seemed awed by the reception. T J Osborne (lead vocals) said that they’d been over here a few times, and if people kept coming to the gigs like this, they’d keep coming back. I’ll certainly be there when they do.
The only slight stain on the night was of our own making – well, my mate’s. That was due to his desire to drink the better beer in the Rescue Rooms instead of the weasel piss you get in the Main Hall. OK, I can relate to that, but it meant we ended up missing all but the last song and a half by the support act, Lucie Silvas. She’s got one hell of a voice, and she went straight on my watch list for her next tour.
I got my own back in the Indian restaurant after, though, where we had the usual decent curry and an argument about Brexit (which I won, as always).
Incidentally, Brothers Osborne performed at Rockstock over the weekend, and they were interviewed by Darren Redick.
I mentioned earlier this week the sudden death of Tom Petty – yet another legendary musician taken away from us.
How’s this for an awesome tribute? A football match in Gainesville – Tom’s home town – saw 90,000 spectators singing his hit “I Won’t Back Down” in unison.
If it’s true, it is yet another sad loss to music. Reports say that Tom Petty suffered a major cardiac arrest on Sunday and was left brain dead. As a result, life support has been removed. However, in spite of reports stating that he was dead, at the time of writing (23.30 on 2 October 2017) those reports have been withdrawn and his official death is not confirmed. If he is brain dead, though, it is much the same thing.
I’m sorry I never got to see him in concert. He didn’t do the UK much until the last two years, and those appearances were at festivals, which I won’t go anywhere near, because I can get wet standing in the rain and up to the ankles in shit right here at home without having to travel to do it. But when something like this happens, you wonder if maybe you should have.
All the legends are disappearing.
Update: No longer a surprise, but I woke up to discover the official announcement that Tom has died. RIP, Tom. Thanks for the music.
Originally published 25 December 2016.
This is a bit of bad news. Team Rock Ltd. – the company behind Classic Rock and Prog magazines (amongst others) – has gone into administration. The administrators were called in five days before Christmas, and staff were laid off with no pay with immediate effect. They watched as locks were changed on the offices.
This is the shitty way companies operate (I’ve mentioned before how I was told to make a load of temporary staff redundant just before Christmas one year, when I’d pleaded with the powers that be to at least wait until afterwards).
Hopefully, the titles will be bought by someone, although I sincerely hope that the trend towards articles about Depeche Mode and other 80s/90s pop crap in Classic Rock magazine is arrested by any new owner.
Since I wrote this, I received the next issue of Classic Rock as usual in mid-January. Today, I got an email from the magazine with a link to a free Pink Floyd ebook and the news that Classic Rock is now part of Future Publishing again.
This is really good news (as long as they backtrack a bit on that Depeche Mode thing!)