Monday, January 05, 2015

My musical year 2014


2014 was a very strange year. It was the first year in music where I went into the year without any kind of ‘Band’ on the go. I decided to have a go and see if I could do a solo gig a week to try and up my game at the singer / songwriter thing though I did kick off the year playing a one off show as guitarist to National Pastime this was my only show of 2014 that I played electric guitar.

In February I did the second Department Factory ‘Valentine’ show this time I was accompanied by Michael Soundy on Djembe this turned out to be the last time that I played live with Mike as he decided to leave Secrets For September. I felt that the performance was much better this year and the CD came out very well even if it wasn't a massive seller.

I had been offered a solo gig in the south east for later in the year so I decided as the solo gigs were going not too badly to do a small tour, and to go with this I also recorded some solo material. Initially was going to be just a couple singles or maybe an EP but it ended up being a full album called ‘still THINKING still DREAMING?’ Making albums are always fun to do and this one was dead easy as it was mostly acoustic based with 4 part strings arranged by a friend on a couple tracks and there was drums that I played on 2 other songs. Reception to it was good from people that heard it. I followed this up with an ep called 'Still Waiting' that included my version of John Barleycorn. 

The summer also saw me starting to play bass with my friend Scott Morrison he writes really good songs and I enjoy playing with him and Ishy.
Phonic FM in Exeter decided to do a 2 hour radio show about me and my involvement in music, was fun to do and I got to play a lot of tunes from my back catalogue as well as a couple songs live and many tunes from friends and influences.

Probably the biggest and most surprising thing that happened was being asked to join Mike Westbrooks band. I have been a fan of his music since I was a teenager and a couple years ago never thought I’d get to meet him let alone be in his band. The piece that I am involved with is called ‘A Bigger Show’ and is a fantastic piece of music. We did a test gig in the summer but since then more as been developed with the piece and it will be played live throughout the year.

I have still been doing a bit of musical film making mostly with the Westbrook band as well as some other musicians. I have built up my portable recording setup and can now do 16 tracks at once. Some of the recordings I have made I’m very proud of.

My Radio work carried on and I was even reporting live from various great shows inc Wilko Johnson and Roger Daltry in London, The Yardbirds and The Cure. I enjoy talking about new music and there has been a wealth of great albums in 2014 to talk about. My 2 albums of the year are Lana Del Reys Ultraviolence and Pink Floyds The Endless River.

I have also been going through my archive the first thing I did was dub off everything on Dat and Mini disk this included several years of Whitby Goth Weekend recordings as well as all my demos, I then moved on to dubbing off all the recordings made between 1990 and 1996 on my 6 track machine I found a lot of good stuff some of which I fully intend to do something with at some point.

In the Autumn I was very lucky to have been asked by my friend Reeves Gabrels to open for him at his show in Birmingham. This was the first time I had played in Brum for 11 years since the last time All Living Fear were there in 2003. Birmingham has changed so much in that time and the poor old Mercat where we used to play is all boarded up.  Another show that stands out for me was playing the Main stage at the Phoenix in Exeter, I only went along as an audience member but was asked to do a set, it was great to play on a really big stage with a top Pa and the set went down really well. I also ended up playing on the finale of ‘The Big Gig’ at Bictonfest.

Secrets For September only played 2 shows this year one was opening for Arthur Brown in Totnes and was the first time that I have ever played in Totnes seeing it’s so close to my home town. Though Mike had left the band he agreed to do the recording session that I had booked at Sound Gallery initially we were going to record drums for one track and then release that as a single, but I managed to get him to play a whole bunch of stuff that we tracked bass and Drums live this giving us around 12 new pieces of music to work from and added to the 4 songs that we already have recorded the best bits will form the Secrets For September album. This will be a long process but I hope that it will be released some time in 2015. Secrets has also been on the back burner as Ellie relocated to Cardiff.

I also started re assessing the All Living Fear collection as we put out a new mix of Crimson as our first release on Spotify. 

So that’s pretty much my year in music. I did do my 52 solo gigs and around a dozen shows with other people. I released 2 CD and 2 digital downloads as well as going to a lot of gigs and making a lot of friends and even saw out the year in the Pub with Andy Racher from All Living Fear whom I had not seen for 5 years and No there is no All Living Fear reunion. What does 2015 hold I have no Idea. I miss Secrets a lot and would like to get a new version of the band together and I would also like to play sessions with other bands as I do miss playing Electric guitar a lot. Lets see what happens. 

Well the year started with me being voted no 23 on the EKR Radio top 100 of 2014. http://www.ekr.net/blog/index.php/ekr-rock-stream-top-100-result-2014/

http://matthewnorth.bandcamp.com Listen to the album and buy from here
http://secretsforseptember.bandcamp.com
http://alllivingfear.bandcamp.com

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Queen and Adam Lambert one for the moaners

So the question is how many bands that have been around almost 50 years still have the same line up and have never broken up ? Answer not many the closest is probably U2. 

Most major bands have had so many line up changes over the years there may be only 1 or 2 original members left. Robert Smith is the only original member of the Cure, Dave Brock for Hawkwind, Nick Rhodes for Duran Duran & Chris Squire for Yes. Drummers Fair well in that the only long serving original members of Pink Floyd, the Yardbirds & The Animals are the Drummer. Nobody batters an eyelid in that Lynyrd Skynyrd have hardly any original members because of the fateful air crash. Or lack of original members of Big Country  or Thin Lizzy. So why last night was social media full of venom for what Queen are doing these days?

Freddie died in 1991 and the band carried on finishing off music and while John Deacon retired Brian and Roger carried on with various musical projects my answer is this Why the bloody hell shouldn’t they? It’s their job, its what they have done all their life. You don’t go to the Proms and moan because the London Symphony Orchestra should have split up when Sir Thomas Beecham Died. 

I though it was a pure stroke of genius when Queen joined forces with Paul Rodgers they were an outstanding live band and they made a brilliant studio album that the world couldn’t have cared less about. But Queen did 1 Very important thing, unlike many other bands who just used the brand name and that’s it they have ALWAYS maintained that is is Queen (Brian and Roger (and Spike)) + whoever is the vocalist. This is a very important and respectful distinction. 

The Doors were similar as they called themselves The Doors of the 21st Century (before the law suits). You will never replace Freddie, but why on earth can a band not be able to play the songs they wrote and recorded especially in a respectful way unlike the plethora of Tribute bands with Stick on Freddie moustaches where the sole intention is to make money for the tribute bands showing not an ounce of respect to the band in any way. 

The armchair Queen fans on social media last night are so into the band that they have forgotten that Adam Lambert has been involved with the band for 5 years. I also have it on good authority from a friend whom has played back up on his solo work that he has a right decent chap. 

Anyhow watching the show from last night on catch-up they put on a really good show. To my ears Adams vocal style is NOT trying to copy Freddie he’s singing in his own voice. He is Adam Lambert not a Freddie copycat. 

The set list is more of the Queens biggest hits, and I guess that’s what the audience want to hear, Me I’d live to heat the first 3 albums back to back but hey that’s never going to happen. But who cares Brian and Roger do what they do if you don’t like it stop moaning.