Tag Archives: Anvil

Chris Difford & Boo Hewerdine, The Forge, 6th April 2018 – Cars and Girls

Today we finally collected our new car after several false starts during which Hyundai proved that they were incapable of mounting an efficient delivery operation. There was a tedious hand over process that had to be sat through before we could finally get the keys though.

When we arrived we handed over the keys to our existing car, which was been offered in part exchange. The salesman went off and collected the keys for our new car and on returning opened his desk draw and put them in there. No doubt this was for safe keeping and to stop us running off with them and driving the vehicle that we had paid for before all the boring paperwork was completed. Whatever the reason Helen and I found it a bit odd that he couldn’t just leave them on the desk. We’re clearly not trustworthy looking!

As the salesperson was reading down the delivery sheet he realised that the car mats hadn’t been included. These weren’t any car mats, oh no, these were luxury mats for which we had paid an additional £60 (everytime I say that sentence, and I say it a lot, it always amazes me that the garage can be so miserly over a set of mats when you are spending tens of thousands on a car). Anyway, off he went to get a set. He appeared a few minutes later empty handed. He then made his way to the i30 show car from which he took the mats and walked out past us to our car waiting outside where he fitted them! Neither we nor he mentioned it! Our excuse was that by this point we just wanted to escape. It’s not clear what his excuse was.

Finally we were allowed to leave and drive away. Our first proper journey was down the lovely A33 to Basingstoke where we were going to be seeing Chris Difford & Boo Hewerdine, the former of Squeeze and the latter The Bible.

The duo were appearing at the Anvil not in the main auditorium, that was packed out with Jasper Carrot devotees, but in the Forge. The Forge is the musical equivalent to Harry Potter’s home at the Dursleys in that it is literally the space under the stairs. It is tiny, or “intimate” as Difford regularly referred to it, holding just under 100 people. The last gig we saw at the Forge was James Grant and it seems to suit this kind of music particularly well.

Hewerdine came on first, there is no backstage at the Forge so artists have to come in through the same door as the audience, and played a handful of songs. Hewerdine is a terrific songwriter and has a lovely dry self deprecating wit which he uses to great effect between beautiful acoustic renditions of his songs. In a way he very much reminds me of James Grant, both were in bands that were minor hits in the 80’s (The Bible and Love and Money) before going off to forge solo careers writing songs that tell a real story and are powerful emotionally.

After half a dozen songs Hewerdine was off and there was a short intermission before he was back to introduce Difford. However, rather than launching straight into a run through his extensive back catalogue they first off started with a Q&A between themselves. I got the feeling that this was more to warm up Difford, who seemed a little uneasy, than to provide value to the audience. One reason for Difford’s unease might have been that his brother was in the audience which may have been off putting.

When Difford came on he was armed with an iPad which he snapped into a stand in front of him. He never again touched it all evening but was clearly looking at it so either he was watching the telly or it was prompting him for words and stories. In some ways this was a bit odd as the structure of the evening was autobiographical and I’d imagine that he does the same stories every night. Whatever it was great to hear them and hear some classic Squeeze tracks played acoustically and hear his rock ‘n roll life.

That’s three members of Squeeze we have seen live now, I’m thinking that we should go and see Jools Holland so that we can tick off a couple more!

Steve Hackett, Anvil, Basingstoke, 2015

A quick look at my last.fm profile will tell you that I am pretty fond of a bit of Genesis. While I don’t mind the Phil Collins era (I’m a fan of Duke for example) it’s the Peter Gabriel era that really floats my boat.

There have been numerous suggestions over the years that the ‘fab 5’ might eventually get back together. While today that seems as far away as ever there is still a way to hear classic Genesis played by one of the members – Steve Hackett.

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Last night Hackett and band were in Basingstoke and I was there on the front row bathing in the Genesis glory.

Starting at 19:30 caught many people out as when the band came on the auditorium was far from full with many streaming in over the next half an hour. As Hackett himself said they were their own support group playing a first half set exclusively from Hackett’s back catalogue. This included a number from the latest Wolflight.

Being quite so close to the main man was both educational and disconcerting. I hadn’t realised previously just how many sounds Hackett was capable of making with his guitar. By using his palm, scratching with a fingernail, bending strings etc. he was able to make some extraordinary noises which I had heard on record but hadn’t realised were actually from a guitar. Disconcerting? When he would look down directly at you and smile!

The second half was all classic Genesis with some really great stuff played including Cinema Show from my favourite Selling England by the Pound. All were played with great respect to the originals without being carbon copies.

Hackett has built up a really strong band to play with and Gary O’Toole is particular good on drums and fascinating to watch – any man that can drum, sing and wear a bowler hat all at the same time is a legend in my book! I was a bit disappointed not to see Nick Beggs on bass as he is always good to watch but his replacement (whose name I didn’t catch) did have fantastic hair!

If you are a fan of Genesis or of really great guitar work then seeing Hackett and the band is a must.

Mike + the Mechanics, Roachford and Genesis

IMG_8068There is a joke, attributed to John Lennon, that when asked if Ringo Starr was the best drummer in the world he replied that he wasn’t even the best drummer in the Beatles. Something similar could be applied to Mike Rutherford, the guitarist from Genesis. That accolade would probably go to first Steve Hackett and subsequently Daryl Stuermer. However, on the evidence of last night he sure knows how to bash out a catchy tune or two, not something you could accuse Starr of.

Rutherford has reformed (resurrected?) Mike + the Mechanics but with Paul Young sadly gone and Paul Carrack now busy those roles now go to Tim Howar and Andrew Roachford respectively and this seems to have given the band a whole new lease of life. This means a new writing partnership between Rutherford and Roachford/Howar along with some of the original contributors.

Given that it has been 25 years since The Living Years has been released and the considerable catalogue of hits the band has accumulated you could be forgiven for assuming that would be all we got. However, not only did we get a couple of Roachford classics (This Generation & Cuddly Toy) but also a couple of Genesis songs (Turn it on Again and We Can’t Dance).

Hearing a couple of late Genesis songs was quite novel as , understandably, Hackett only plays those he was with the band for. This does mean, however, that he plays the “classic” era Genesis and I would struggle to call We Can’t Dance a classic.

The addition of Andrew Roachford is inspired as he is such a great and energetic performer. I’ve always liked his music but only got to see him live at last year’s Weyfest and thought that he stole the show. The combination of Roachford and Hewar worked really well.

So a good night out with a sing along to some great hits – what’s not to like!