Monday, November 19, 2012


The English Beat cane to town with The Ruckus, a band that plays Ska/Funk/Soul out of Manhattan, Kansas.  The ticket was a gift of a friend and I met up with several others to enjoy yet another night with some great music performed by Dave Wakling and his band.  Some made it into the dressing room where all were smoking "cigars."  What I did notice was now that Amendment 64 passed legalizing marijuana in Colorado, the whiff of that fine herb we evident in the air throughout much of the show.

As always, the altitude gets to Dave, requiring a breather between songs while sweat pours out of his skin.  He's always entertaining and the music kept everyone in the packed house dancing on their feet.  The audience loves the band, the band loves the audience, Dave and his crew taking the time to shake hands with all after the show.  We appreciate his appreciation!

I biked back to the office where I found my secluded spot under the cottonwood trees along the creek where I spent a quiet, restful night.

The English Beat were one of 'ten best concerts listed for this weekend.  They described them as:

Inspired by the first wave of punk in the U.K., the Beat combined the social critique of punk with the broader emotional and sonic palette of reggae. Formed in 1978, the English Beat (so named when the band made its way across the Atlantic) released three classic albums before Dave Wakeling and Ranking Roger moved on to form General Public, where they realized great commercial success. The two eventually parted ways to front their own versions of their original band.

This regular Westword feature is great to learn about who's playing here in the Denver area.  As shown on this top 10 list, there were plenty of great bands performing here this weekend that I would also have liked to seen.

Download the mp3 @ 320 kbps here:

Friday, November 2, 2012


On Monday morning I took Amtrak to San Diego from Union Station. Wanting to travel light, I ditching most of my stuff in the Stillwell Hotel in LA. In about two hours time I was standing in the downtown area of San Diego a very short distance from the water front. First stop was to their Museum of Contemporary Art. Best of all was Isaac Julien’s movie exhibit “Ten Thousand Waves,” an intriguing video project on nine screens throughout the room making for an experience in which I felt I was standing in the middle of the action occurring in this 50 minute long show that continuously looped.

“Julian weaves this folk tale together with the Morecambe tragedy to create a spectacular visual poem displayed across nine enormous screens. Images of modern Shanghai intercut with 1930s film noir shots of the city; images of the remote Fujian landscape, shrouded in clouds just like ancient Chinese scroll painting; scenes of Mazu floating over the hypnotic, rolling sea, looking for the sailors; and in the background a poem especially commissioned for the film is recited in Chinese.”

The film’s original musical score is by fellow east Londoner Jah Wobble and the Chinese Dub Orchestra and Maria de Alvear. As we all know Jah Wobble was the original bass player in PiL in the late 1970s and early 1980s. What a nice coincidence!

I spent considerable time at the end of the nearby wharf that stuck out into the bay, smoking a cigar and watching the bustling harbor. Several aircraft carriers parked nearby. Helicopters and jet aircraft buzzing the sky. Jets continually taking off at the nearby airport. It was an impressive sight but caused an uncomfortable feeling within me, like I was sitting inside this unstoppable monster-like military machine that was destined to serve only one bloody purpose, regardless of the people's will.

I had dinner at a restaurant not too far from the House of Blues. Once again I was at the foot of the stage in the theater shortly after 7 PM. A local punk band, Retox, warmed up the audience with a half hour of loud and fast songs, one blurring into the other.

PiL took the stage sometime after 9:30, returning me to that sweet spot in my mind as I tried to absorb every bit of the music and resulting experience. San Diego was the better of the two shows for me, perhaps because of my location (on the barricade) and choosing to limit the use of the camera in order to just experience the show. There were two events during the show I will always remember. The first was in between songs when I yelled out "You are a legend!," to which John stood there thoughtfully for a moment and then replied with something like, "I am humbled into silence," before heading off into the next song. Even better...throughout both shows between songs Johnny would take a swig of water and swallow, followed by a swig out of a bottle of liquor (Courvoisier?) that he would then spit out into a bucket in front of the drum kit. Well, I remembered what he always scolded the audience for in shows during the 80's and shouted out "No gobbing!" as he spat out the drink. What he did next was press his finger on his left nostril, tilted his head and then blew out the contents of his right nostril into the bucket/onto the floor to the audiences pleasure, followed by "All these years and you're still f*cking shy of me." I think he recognized me from the show the night before. I got the distinct impression he was turning a lot in my direction with direct eye contact, like he was performing especially for me. That too made this show a very personal experience.

A group of people hung out at the stage exit door watching the road crew load equipment on the trailer, hoping to meet the band as they made their exit. But alas, the band departed from another door on the other side of the building, leaving us to watch the road crew board the bus and head off to their next destination in Arizona. People express disappointment and then disappear into the fog enveloping the city. I grab a bite to eat and then head on down to the train station in anticipation of catching a 6 AM ride, only to learn that the station is locked up, probably to prevent the many homeless from turning it into their overnight home. I “slept” on a bench at the station, wrapped in a plastic trash bag to warm me from the cool, damp air coming in off the bay. I eventually board the train and return to LA where I catch my flight back to Denver. So many miles traveled in such a short amount of time. I was exhausted that evening and slept well.

Retox opened up the show for PiL:

"I realized that there were no other opening acts listed so I figured I would see if we [Retox] could get on the bill as an opener. Our agent got a hold of the promoter and they said we could play but they could not pay us since PiL's guarantee was fairly large and would not be met," says vocalist of Retox, Justin Pearson, in our chat after the gig. The deal was, Retox could have as many guests as they wanted. "Now that probably means something different to most people. But we had no problem at all getting our list up to triple digits. And, well, they [House of Blues] were a bit bummed. But we were not getting paid and it was in writing, so they honored it."

Read it here:

Asphalt, power lines
Highway, rooftops, spewing stacks
Human cancer spreads

Sparkling blue ocean
Gentle waves break and rush forward
Caress the sandy shore

Wide as the ocean
Life of unfulfilled desires
Drifts from shore to shore

Led to the ocean
Find not the journeys promise
But waves of sorrow

Our humanity
No longer understand it
Think like a machine

Rows of powerlines
Like giant robots in the sky
Long armed monsters march

Download the mp3 show here:!download|831p10|1648740902|MP3%20San%20Diego%20October%2029_%202012%20320%20kbps.rar|283004|0|0

Download the flac show here, parts 1 and 2:!download|301p3|1612065758|FLAC%20Part%201%20San%20Diego_%20CA%20October%2029_%202012.rar|396384|0|0!download|772p6|1435569044|FLAC%20Part%202%20San%20Diego_%20CA%20October%2029_%202012%202.rar|363212|0|0

Thursday, November 1, 2012


I had a pair of tickets in hand as soon as I learned that PiL had scheduled a US tour, for the shows in Los Angeles and San Diego. I would have preferred they stop in Denver, but that was not to be. Needless to say, I was psyched up for another opportunity to see them live. Plans were made well in advance: the flight to LA, hotel and the Amtrak ride between the cities.

A bonus prize was made available the night before my departure when PiL’s October 27, 2012 show in Reno was broadcast live, allowing me to begin the party a day early. Even though the quality of the audio and video was not the greatest, it was a free show and I watched the livecast from beginning to end, pretending as though I were right there in the audience.

On Saturday the 28th I flew to LA, took the Metro downtown, checked in at the hotel and saw a movie that put me on the other side of midnight. Last thing to do was smoke a cigar on the hotel fire escape. I wandered the streets of LA Saturday morning and afternoon, visiting the Museum of Contemporary Art, Little Tokyo and a bookstore on the way back to the hotel. Some really good exhibits at the MOCA, a few inspiring me to do something different and to begin a project I had been meaning to do for years.  The trick is always the follow through.

I prepared for the Sunday night show, had dinner and found myself in front of the stage at Club Nokia by 7 PM. While waiting in line the fliers posted on the walls made it clear that they would be videotaping the show as part of a PiL documentary. I was also surprised to learn that there would be no warm up band, PiL being the one and only act to perform this evening. They took the stage around 8:30 PM and the moment I was waiting for began, the show beginning with their classic “This Is Not A Love Song.” I was in heaven for the two hours from beginning to end. I’m sure Johnny noticed the Sid Vicious t-shirt I was wearing since I was standing center stage, a couple rows behind the barricade. Johnny kept on calling out to Walter to turn up the bass multiple times throughout the show, picked up by the audience as well, sending me into a frenzy.

After the show I had a late night meal at The Pantry up the block on Figueroa Street followed by a cigar on the roof of the hotel, accessed via the outdoor fire escape. I was savoring the experience of the last few hours.

The group remains as abrasive and forward-thinking as ever, whether offering new genre-bending songs or staples from its past. Billed as an evening with PiL, the latest return of Lydon and his cohorts – including late ’80s collaborators Lu Edmonds (guitars) and Bruce Smith (drums) – to the L.A. Live venue Club Nokia, where they previewed their Coachella set two years ago, found the quartet working through a two-hour, 15-song set filled with captivating moments that made you wonder why they ever stopped in the first place.
Lydon, one of the more compelling singers in rock history, was a fireball of energy and hyper-kinetic movements as the synthesizer stabs of “This Is Not a Love Song” kicked off the main set. Filled with wild gesticulating and altered pitch, Lydon’s vocals for “Deeper Water” (one of four selections from the current disc) resonated throughout the room, the overall mix perfect for this sometimes spotty sound trap.

Read it all here:

The piercing sound of John Lydon's voice is still like no other. During Public Image Ltd.'s two-hour concert at Club Nokia in Los Angeles on Sunday night, he sang with a mixture of biting antagonism and real vulnerability, filling the theater with a fiery wail and compelling new songs from the reunited post-punk originators.

Sunday's concert came near the end of the band's three-year touring journey, which included the release this year of This Is PiL, the band's first new album in two decades and a return to form, as Lydon demonstrated in L.A. "We come from chaos/ You cannot change us, " he shouted during the album's "One Drop" against sharply echoing guitar lines of Lu Edmonds. "Cannot explain us/ And that's what makes us."

Dressed in a two-toned shirt, bright orange suspenders hanging behind him, Lydon comfortably mixed his past and present, with song choices stretching back to PiL's 1978 debut, First Issue, recorded shortly after he left the Sex Pistols. The sides of his head were cropped short, leaving a blond tuft of hair on top, and earrings dangled from both sides. Between songs, he soothed his throat by lifting a liquor bottle to his mouth, taking a swig, gargling and spitting it out.

The new album's "Reggie Song" shook from searing guitar with an Arabic flavor as Lydon sang, his hand raised. He grunted his words through a stretched-out "Bags" (from 1986's generically titled Album) over a deep bass rumble with slices of guitar. When a fan slurred back a lyric between songs, Lydon turned with a wicked grin. "With a voice like that, that why I'm up here and you're down there."

The concert was filmed as part of an ongoing documentary project on the band, which Lydon unexpectedly reconvened in 2009 after a long hibernation with the lineup of Edmonds, drummer Bruce Smith and bassist Scott Firth (who also operates the laptop). It was a homecoming for Lydon, who has lived in Los Angeles and Malibu since the Eighties, and he teased locals for cheering not quite loudly enough: "Laid back as usual? That's OK, la la. I live in la la."

Lydon has spent many of the last 20 years working on television, and reunited first with the Sex Pistols in 1996, but he has been unwilling or unable to create new songs with the groundbreaking punk act. His history with PiL is much longer, and it was the outfit in which he expanded and experimented with his voice. The PiL reunion inspired him to write again, and he is already making plans for another album with them

Read more:

I went to Club Nokia to see a fucking legend; Johnny Rotten. John Lydon hasn’t been Johnny Rotten for a very long time, but there were glimpses of that surly politically incorrect rude son of a bitch that fronted a band that altered the course of musical history on Sunday night forever, when the Sex Pistols exploded onto the scene in the late 70’s and became the pioneers of Punk Rock.

Although the Pistols were gone within 3 years of their formation, they changed the world. Some would say for the better, and some would say for the worse. The Sex Pistols were a drunken, heroin influenced train wreck. Their front man couldn’t carry a tune, and didn’t care to try, their Bass Player, well he wasn’t really a Bass Player at all, offed himself on heroin and the band was dead and gone by 1978. But make no mistake, they were one of the single biggest influences on music and culture of the past 40 years. That, to me, was worth a trip to see Johnny and PIL on Sunday Night.

Read it here:

Stone balcony ledge
Busy ants crawl to and fro
The rim of their world

Ancient scrub cloaked rock
Mountains that rose from the sea
Watch the city grow

Miles of graffiti
Seen through trains scratched windows
Broken people sit

Police sirines wail
Refuge in the buildings shadow
Cool oasis of green

Preach with conviction
Their ignorance and hatred
In the name of God

Download the mp3 show here:!download|769p6|1220631036|MP3%20Los%20Angeles_%20Club%20Nokia%20Ocxtober%2028_%202012%20320%20kbps.rar|296686|0|0

Download the flac show here, parts one and two:!download|614p12|2455751314|FLAC%20Part%201%20Los%20Angeles_%20Club%20Nokia%20Ocxtober%2028_%202012.rar|368829|0|0