Gashead's Blog Wonders


Being There : Dexys Live At Shepherds Bush Empire 8th May 2012

From Dexys Shepherds Bush Empire 08/05/2012

Dexys, where do we start? I take you back to somewhere around autumn 1976 when my brother-in-law Andy was in a band called Uncle Po who were quite big on the Bristol band scene at the time. Andy the saxophone player, "Spike" the violinist and me the groupie set off around Bristol in a big van with a sliding side door. We would find a handy hoarding, paste up a poster, open the door, stick it up and be off again within the minute. Golden days, but more of that later.

On to 1980 when I was in the twilight zone between the neverending debauchery of university and the forthcoming prospect of doing a proper day's work 48 weeks a year for the rest of my life, year off, no chance. But there was a new sound that grabbed me as it did so many others, Geno by Dexys Midnight Runners. My sister used to play It's Funky But It's Live by Geno Washington from the sanctuary of her bedroom, I knew those opening chants from my childhood. Interest captured I bought the single and most of what followed. I read their advertisements in the NME, they wouldn't do interviews because they never felt they were being taken seriously or their ideas were misinterpreted. Instead we got the thoughts, poetic or terse, of Kevin Rowland and they toured as The Intense Emotion Revue, all very serious but great music. The look seemed to be either merchant seaman or that episode in Dad's Army when they all had to dress up as fifth columnists.

Early 1982 Radio 1 broadcast a concert, which I had a C120 for, recorded in Newcastle. Kevin introduced it "welcome to the in a tent emotion revue", hey, the curtains were down, this was fun. A much warmer, soulful sound emerged mixed with a violin and a beautiful cover of T.S.O.P. I listened to my tape repeatedly, the album Too-Rye-Ay didn't come out for several months. If you listen to the later CD release of the live concert, T.S.O.P. at 3:42 when the violin comes back in always gives me goose pimples. After the album finally hit the stores along with related singles I was watching Top Of The Pops, up popped Dexys performing Come On Eileen...hang on a minute, that woman looks familiar. I rang up my sister "did you just see Spike on Top Of The Pops in Dexys Midnight Runners?" Of course Marian was far too cool to be watching it by then but we compared notes the following week and Spike it surely was. The clothes had changed, dungarees, raggle taggle gypsy cum David Essex gear, but again the music was different, passionate, special.

The years passed, gradually Dexys faded away, at long last the reissues emerged, first with the odd B-side then finally with entire radio sessions and even a recording of a Projected Passion Revue show. But there were reports Kevin was in a bad place and I would never get to see them, as it were, in the flesh.

Late February 2012 I'm running through my RSS feeds in Google Reader when I spot an O2 Priority "coming soon" for Dexys at Shepherds Bush...whoa! I checked everywhere I could, no other mention of tickets on the web but a new album was in the pipeline, so it wasn't some American band stealing our heritage by reusing a great British name. I checked and checked and then the "Get Your Priority Tickets Now" popped up in Google Reader. Click, book, confirm - Row A, seats 12 and 13...Row A, I never get Row A, nobody gets Row A. "Vicky, you won't believe this!" The weeks went by and the regular message from Dexys was to dress up

We are planning a theatrical show - hence the seated venues. Look good, we will. Dexys
Dexys Official
Please feel free to use your phones to take images of the show and remember, look good. We will.
Dexys Official

This is tricky, yes Vicky and I dressed up as nuns for the final Faithless show but this time some style is required, we're in the front row and can't let the boys (and girls) down. Finally I decided on a double-breasted grey suit with a plain white shirt and snazzy tie, shoes to suit. The night before the show I grabbed the jacket then spotted a lack of trouser facilities. Several hangers along I found the matching trousers but it didn't take me long to discover some difficulties in the crotch region. Plan B, a rather louche cream jacket, a shirt of many colours, some brown trousers in case the nerves of being opposite Kevin Rowland got to me and sadly some M&S boat shoes. My house has never been a vault for Cotton Club era clothing, just as well as moths love that kind of thing. Vicky, of course, had a much more suitable attire, informed by the support act, a burlesque dancer!

The great day arrived, I took a lot of stick but attracted even more compliments for turning up at work in some semi-decent clothing for a change. I may work half way between The Queen and Prince Charles' London gaffs but my style is strictly down at heel most of the time. Arriving at Shepherds Bush Empire stopping only for a couple of mini wine bottles each in a pint glass we headed down the front and yes, we were centre front row. I had never been there before, unlike Brixton Academy it's a tough place to reach and we usually end up by the side bars stood behind visiting basketball teams.

Dexys being Dexys the support couldn't be the usual singer songwriter saying hi to his brother and mum in the balcony, step forward Luna Rosa. The crowd loved her, the cameramen crouched in front of us (thanks chaps) were grinning and I was not indifferent to her charms to say the least.

From Dexys Shepherds Bush Empire 08/05/2012

She was on and off, as were the significant part of her clothes in a breathless three minutes, appetiser enjoyed now for the main course. The band walked on as if they had never left, reshaped, split, reinvented themselves. First thrill was to see Mick Talbot who gave The Style Council their special sound then on came the man himself. Enormous cheers, grown men welling up, now could they get the fire burning again? Straight into the new album One Day I'm Going To Soar in its entirety. We were a mature audience, we came pre-warned, we were not disappointed. I discretely got my camera out with the intention of filming every second while looking at the stage, not the viewfinder.

Two songs in one of the security guards had different ideas and informed me I was not allowed to film the concert. Oh well, just enjoy the new songs and sing along to the couple of old ones we were likely to hear at the end. As promised it was very theatrical. Running throughout was the theme acted or rather sung and facially expressed with Madeleine Hyland. Whatever it was Kevin had done Madeleine was determined to make him suffer no matter how many times Kevin held his hands up and tried to appear contrite. Eventually he appeared to get away with "it", whatever "it" was.

From Dexys Shepherds Bush Empire 08/05/2012

Pete Williams appeared to know.

From Dexys Shepherds Bush Empire 08/05/2012

As a piece it worked superbly well, quite probably because of the seated audience rather than the usual crush common to the venue. The music never stopped but you felt you had seen a play into the bargain. Sustained applause, cries of "brilliant", the audience loved it and the band looked best pleased. The media whores at Latitude will love it if they finish their full English round at Emma and Richard's in time.

So what else will we get? Quite a bit in fact. Old, Until I Believe In My Soul, Tell Me When My Light Turns Green and, despite Rowland being such a cantankerous old git, even Come On Eileen though no Spike.

In all the excitement I forgot to avoid singing along, having decided to chance my arm with a few more home movies, so apologies if my voice spoils your listening pleasure. The whooping is Vicky, she spent much of her teens in California so that's only to be expected.

Of course they had to come back on again, it was still early and they had the crowd eating out of their hands. I Couldn't Help It If I Tried, Liars A To E (I was in row A and I tell the truth matey boy) and finally the wonderful This Is What She's Like which filled my body with pleasure.

Yes it was one of those very special nights, a small venue, a band visibly beaming with the joy of their music and a crowd who would text, tweet and generally piss off their long-suffering friends for many days to come. If they were ever better than, they just couldn't have been.

From Dexys Shepherds Bush Empire 08/05/2012



Obama And Cameron Decide The Big Issues

Sometimes, despite hours of negotiation between diplomats, senior ministers and world leaders geopolitical decisions remain unresolved. Yesterday, stood on a chair half way up the stairs between the second and third floor of my office, I was privileged to witness some behind the scenes negotiation between US President Barack Obama and UK Prime Minister David Cameron. What they were negotiating will remain a mystery, Turkish entry into the EU, sovereignty of The Falkland Islands, the next Chelsea manager? Their methods, however, were clear to see.

Round One

From Obama - Jeff-s Pictures

Unfortunately Dave played his paper hand too early here and Barack immediately replied with scissors, round one to the US President.

Round Two

From Obama - Jeff-s Pictures

Dave thought he would play a sly one and offer paper again, Barack banked on Dave changing his tactics, round two no change.

Round Three

From Obama - Jeff-s Pictures

This time Dave plays a blinder offering his rock to Barack's scissors, all square after round three, first to pass two points will win this particular argument.

Round Four

From Obama - Jeff-s Pictures

At last, a decision is made. Barack's paper beats Dave's rock, the will of the US President prevails, Dave heads back inside, inconsolable while a triumphant Obama leaves hoping to employ his skills further at the upcoming G8 conference.

From Obama - Jeff-s Pictures

Thanks to my anonymous colleague for this set of pictures, you can find some of mine below :

Barack Obama Visit To London 2011


“Premium” Coaches

Would you pass this on to the person responsible for monitoring
driving standards within your organisation please.

I was cycling along Buckingham Palace Road around 8.40 this morning
between Eccleston Street and Lower Belgrave Street. A large Premium
Coaches vehicle with Hairspray advertised on the back and registration
number FJ06 ZLX was in the left hand lane in front of me before the
Eccleston Street junction and making little progress so I moved into
the middle of the right hand lane of the dual carriageway and
attempted to pass. When I was closer to the front of the coach than
the back the coach crossed into my lane with no signal, I would have
been completely visible to the driver in his wing mirror. In order to
avoid being pushed into the railings in the middle of the road I had
to stop cycling. As the left hand lane was clear I moved into that
lane only for the coach to change into that lane directly in front of
me, again with no signal.

At the lights before Lower Belgrave Street I rode alongside and
shouted to the driver, as his window was closed and he appeared to be
oblivious to me looking at him, that he had twice tried to kill me. He
opened the window and addressed me as "big mouth". I told him he had
twice nearly knocked me off my bicycle. His response was "your mates
cut across in front of me". I had no "mates" in the area I was aware
of but I assume he was referring to other cyclists trying to get in
front of his coach which was accelerating away from the lights
extremely slowly. I told him again what he had done and he told me to
"bugger off" twice. At no point did he apologise, his only explanation
for his action was the road habits of other cyclists, assuming they
are the "your mates" he referred to.

From his response about "my mates" and their actions it appears to me
the driver looks upon cyclists as a collective group. His inexplicably
careless actions could then be interpreted as an attempt to punish me
with potential death for the actions of other cyclists he was unhappy
with. Either way his driving appears to be completely unsuitable for a
driver of such a large vehicle and his offensive response when I
questioned his driving was a disgrace to your company.

Could I ask somebody in your organisation to ask this man to use his
mirrors and indicators for their intended purpose, to refrain from
believing he can use his vehicle to collectively punish cyclists in a
life-threatening manner and to refrain from using offensive language
during the course of your business.

Thank You
Alistair Burns

### Update 30/09/2010 ###

Today I received a reply as below :

"Thank you for the email. I have forwarded this to our operations department who is in charge of all our drivers. The issues you have raised are serious and need to be addressed - please allow us to apologise for this. Premium Tours does not tolerate inappropriate behaviour from any members of our staff and we can assure you we will further investigate the matter to make sure things like this would not occur in the future."

This was good to receive, particularly in view of the fact that my statement isn't supported by any third-party witnesses. I'm not looking for a witch hunt but would be reassured to hear the driver has had the error of his ways pointed out.