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‘Friends of Hovis Night’, Commerce House, Bolton, 27th June 2015.

9 Jul

10498493_10152930500195770_8362558069246030522_oAlmost a fortnight too late for me to be immediate with my excitement, but after several years of lamenting the dwindling local music and social scene in Bolton, it was so good to see an event that surpassed all expectations. The event, a night in honour of the late Bolton comedian Richard ‘Hovis Presley’ McFarlane, was a resounding success, and for anyone who grew up within the once vibrant alternative scene of the town, it was a grin inducing return to form. Organised by Bolton stalwarts, including DJ Paul Tattersall (Pauly T), the night included punk poetry, real ales, a huge hall for dancing and general socialising (the wonderful Art Deco Commerce House), and live performances from Badly Drawn Boy and The Smiths Ltd.

The emphasis on the local made this all the more special (Badly Drawn Boy grew up in Breightmet, Bolton, and The Smiths Ltd. pay homage to arguably the most revered Manchester band). Badly Drawn Boy (alias Damon Gough) offered his usual lengthy anecdotes, which if I’m honest, can sully an otherwise entertaining set of acoustic gems. As for The Smiths Ltd, they were far more in tune with the audience’s expectations of an indie Saturday night, encouraging much Morrissey-esque dancing and singalongs. Some very good vocals there from the actual band leader, but also excellent guitar work from Alex Gaskell, who I’m happy to name drop as a friend of mine. His Johnny Marr ‘impersonation’ is so good you’ll almost forget it’s not him, plus the attention to detail gives you a real sense of The Smiths in 1987 (all their instruments and equipment match that used on the Smiths’ final tour), although as with many tribute bands we’re faced with the odd sight of a lookalike band who are slightly more mature than the band they are paying tribute to.

But ultimately what makes a great evening is the people, and the Bolton indie and rock community came out in their droves, and that includes faces old and new. Hopefully this is a new beginning for a town that used to offer so much, and not a false dawn. More of this please!

All donations from this concert went to the charity Shelter. If you would like to make a contribution to Shelter, please click the link below:


11 Mar


I had the absolute pleasure of watching My Bloody Valentine in concert last night, at Manchester Apollo (always a great live venue). MBV’s return, with a new studio album (their first for 22 years) cunningly entitled MBV, was one of the nicest music surprises of the year alongside Bowie’s re-emergence. Lead guitarist and song writer Kevin Shields had finally pulled some new material out of the bag, and I’m glad to say it’s great. Not a radical departure from what they were doing before, more a logical extension of it.
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What the World Is Waiting For, or Fools Gold?…The return of The Stone Roses

20 Oct

15 years after they split, and still with something to prove.

The Stone Roses have been resurrected. Ian Brown, John Squire, Reni and Mani have done what few thought could be done, and reformed one of the most seminal British bands of the last 25 years. It was a long time coming, and all four members had previously said it was never going to happen, but the band that defined an era have actually returned. The only other event that could surpass this in stature or unlikeliness is the reformation of fellow Mancunians The Smiths. Now, I could say that that has absolutely no chance of happening, even if Morrissey and Marr are now on speaking terms. But we could have said a similar thing about The Stone Roses until very recently.
On Tuesday the band announced their intention to perform again (and perhaps even record some new music), and this was done in their usual irreverent manner. Continue reading