Musical Summer

Those who dance are considered insane by those who cannot hear the music.” Unknown

Music was a theme running through my summer in the UK from live gigs in pubs to exhibitions and concerts. There was the abundance of live music in Edinburgh, a performance by a friends band, tribute acts galore, an exhibition honouring the success of The Jam, a summer concert at a racecourse by the Kaiser Chiefs and even a visit to the shrine of a rock legend!

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Let’s rewind to the start of the trip and the teenagers seventeenth birthday that involved us trooping up to Scotland where she attended the four-day T in the Park music festival with a large group of Abu Dhabi friends at Strathallan Castle. That gave us a perfect excuse to stay in Edinburgh which is awash with live music every night of the week. We saw upbeat trio Franco in Finnegan’s Wake Irish pub, stuck to the beer covered floor in Whistlebinkies while listening to the very popular Sea Bass Kid and left to the strains of Mad Ferret. A man and his guitar entertained the weekend crowd at Mitre Bar. a duo were centre stage in Inn on the Mile and of course let’s not forget the sound of traditional bagpipes ringing out on the streets (read more about the Edinburgh music scene and our trip in my Discover Scotland – Edinburgh post ). IMG_5092

Next up was a our first visit to the very popular The Half Moon pub in Putney, part of the Geronimo Inns chain that was within walking distance of our summer abode. This vibrant pub attracts a large crowd of live music fans with its busy calendar of events featuring bands, DJ’s, acoustic music, comedy nights. It all started back in 1963 when this backroom music venue began hosting gigs and over the last five decades many prestigious bands have graced their stage including big names such as the Rolling Stones, U2 and Kasabian to name a few.

IMG_5098After sampling a few of the beverages on offer and some pub grub, we saw Jam tribute act The Jam Movement, a group of three practised musicians who are like us, are apparently long time fans of The Jam. A great night featuring lots of Paul Weller’s best penned hit songs and some that were more new to me, we were transported back to the mod era and the glory days of ‘the best f***ing band in the world…as Weller’s dad liked to call them!

music 1At this point we should have gone home but the lure of even more free-flowing beverages and a disco, yes a disco (?!?) kept us going as we strutted our stuff to some Motown classics! Click here for The Half Moon up-to-date gig guide.

IMG_5125Feeling somewhat jaded we managed to get ourselves out of the house by early afternoon for a ‘hair of the dog’ at the local pub and a spot of lunch before we hot footed it to the inner depths of Croydon for another night of live music. This time it was the turn of our good friend and summer host to take the stage with his band for a night of covers from T Rex to Arctic Monkeys and some great classics from the decades in-between. The Rocky & Mac Band played together in their youth, reforming a couple of years ago with new a bass player and drummer. They are currently making a name for themselves on the London and Surrey pub scene so catch them if you fancy a sing-song and a boogie. Another great night with a load of good friends who travelled far and wide to support the band and see us of course!

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As a big Jam fan in my youth I spent a good few hours at Somerset House visiting the The Jam: About The Young Idea exhibition which is celebrating the all things Jam with memorabilia from the three band members themselves, unseen video footage, instruments and much more. It’s a great way to spend a few hours, I guarantee you will be tapping your toes and singing along to the well-known tracks. The exhibition is running until 27th September so get along if you can. Read my full review of the exhibition here.

IMG_5558 At this point the other half returned to Abu Dhabi so he missed out on a night celebrating another of his old favourites, David Bowie. Tribute act Absolute Bowie played at The Half Moon in Putney at the beginning of last month and as regular performers at this venue they certainly drew in a big and passionate Bowie loving crowd. They are so popular that they took over the venue for two-nights to showcase the full Bowie back catalogue with a Ziggy Stardust show on the first evening and a 80’s/90’s Extravaganza following on the second night. We went on Friday evening and I have to confess to not knowing a lot of Bowie’s songs from the Ziggy years, I did however recognise Space OddityChangesZiggy Stardust and Rebel Rebel but I did not (unlike my friend who knew EVERY word to EVERY song) like the rest of the crowd know Suffragette City and Diamond Dogs, that were sung at the top of their voices!

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Absolute Bowie is the leading Bowie tribute band in the UK and both their sound and fashion are very accurate down to the short white satin stage outfit, purple wig and face flash! Professional to the end, this band tours the country week in, week out presenting their tribute to David Bowie as a full-time career.

IMG_5831The finale of our musical summer was seeing Indie Rocker band the Kaiser Chiefs at Sandown Park Racecourse in Surrey. An Evening at the Races was presented by The Jockey Club and combined six horse races and a concert on a lovely summer’s evening. Ricky Wilson, lead singer of the band and judge on BBC One’s The Voice, was a natural frontman whipping the crowd into a frenzy with his enthusiasm and banter, continually jumping around like a madman, dancing and energetically swinging the microphone while still breathlessly singing all the lyrics.

music 4Classics such as Everyday I Love You Less and LessModern WayRuby and of course I Predict a Riot had the slightly merry crowd involved in a mass sing-a-long. Wilson and co did a brilliant cover of The Who’s Pinball Wizard that I’m sure would have even impressed Roger Daltry and the band. The three song encore culminated with Oh My God and everything was done and dusted by a very respectable 10pm as the racecourse is located bang smack in the middle of a residential neighbourhood in Esher.

IMG_6388Just before I headed back to the desert, my lovely hosts drove me to see the shrine of rock legend Marc Bolan just down the road from Putney in nearby Barnes. Marc Bolan’s Rock Shrine, as it’s officially known, is the memorial to the spot where the singer died just before his 30th birthday, when the purple mini he was travelling in hit a sycamore tree on Queen’s Ride. On the 30th anniversary year of Bolan’s death, the work done by the T-Rex Action Group was recognised by the English Tourist Board’s in their new guide England Rocks publication which features ‘Sites of Rock ‘n’ Roll Importance’ (all 113 of them) in England.

So now I’m back in the Abu Dhabi and  my musical calendar is starting to fill up with Bon Jovi and Take That already booked in next month and its been strongly reported that Brit pop band Blur will be headlining this year’s F1 finale, we are now just awaiting confirmation from Flash Entertainment with the official lineup announcements……….oooooooh the suspense……..