Liverpool V London: The Beatles Disastrous Aldershot Concert

284 miles south of Liverpool is the Hampshire town of Aldershot (pop. 36,000). As the “Home of the British Army” Aldershot has seen its fair share of historic events. Royal visits and military tattoos are regularly augmented with anniversaries of battles and various other reasons to have military bands marching through the town.

However, the event which probably attracts most discussion on the “Historic Aldershot” Facebook page took place on the 9th December 1961 at the Palais Ballroom. The poster for the event reads “Big Beats…presenting a Battle of the Bands, Liverpool v London”. The band representing London in this contest was Ivor Jay and the Jaywalkers. The band representing Liverpool was The Beatles in what Neil Aspinall described as their first gig down south.

For a small town, Aldershot has punched above its weight in terms of musical venues hosting early gigs by acts from Jimi Hendrix and Peter Green to PJ Harvey and the Stone Roses. Despite this, a gig which deserves no more than a footnote in the history of the Beatles or of Liverpool has found a prominent place in Aldershot culture and folklore.  

The event was promoted by Liverpool promoter Sam Leach who, unfortunately failed to get the advert to the Aldershot News in time. As a result, only six people were waiting outside when the doors opened and the gig was attended by just 18 people in total in an evening that started badly and generally got worse.

The Palais Ballroom was, in fact, a small hall on the edge of the town centre which had the size and facilities of a village hall rather than a ballroom. John Lennon has been quoted as describing the venue as such in one of his many tirades from the stage. In the subsequent decades, the building has been a dance studio and a ballet school and is now a fitness gym.

One record of the gig itself comes from Pete Best’s 1983 autobiography Beatle.

He wrote, “Halfway through one number George and Paul put on their overcoats and took to the floor to dance a foxtrot together, while the rest of us struggled along, making enough music for them and the handful of spectators.

“We clowned our way through the whole of the second half. John and Paul deliberately played wrong chords and notes and added words to the songs that were never in the original lyrics.”

No set list survives and it seems that Ivor Jay and the Jaywalkers never turned up. In fact, I can find no record of Ivor Jay and the Jaywalkers although there was an East-Anglian band at that time called Peter Jay and the Jaywalkers who had toured with the Beatles.

What is known about that night is that, despite a crowd of only 18 people, a fight broke out, not an uncommon occurrence in Aldershot to this day. What followed is largely hearsay. 

There is no record of the Beatles being directly involved in the fight but one story tells of them being transported by the police to the edge of Aldershot and told never to come back. Another story is that they went on to play a gig in London the same night where they all ended up under arrest for disorderly conduct.

Terry McCann, who had driven the Beatles down to Aldershot, has said in several interviews that with so few people there, the Beatles stopped taking the gig seriously. 

The drummer at that time was, of course, Pete Best and at one point, McCann took over the drums from Best despite not being a drummer and just bashed his way through a few songs. By about 9.30, the Beatles had given up playing altogether, Sam Leach had produced some beer and everyone just spent the rest of the evening drinking.

The day after the gig, the Beatles were back in Liverpool attending the third of three meetings at NEMS with Brian Epstein when it was agreed that he should become their manager.

Sam Leach had booked the Beatles to return to the Palais the next week but they cancelled. The Liverpool band who replaced them were Rory Storm and the Hurricanes with Ringo Starr on drums.

 In 1961, The Beatles had little enough reason to like Aldershot, but for one Beatle it would get far, far worse. On the 12th January 1968, in Aldershot, a little girl was born. Her name was Heather Mills.

Words by Simon Harper, photography of the Beatles by Dick Matthews, image of the venue by Simon Harper.

Peter Hook and Ministry Collide With “Dancing Madly Backwards” Cover 

Legendary Joy Division and New Order founding bassist Peter Hook and the iconic industrial metal heroes Ministry have collided on a new double A side split cover of 70s space-rock classic “Dancing Madly Backwards“.

It’s unthinkable, we thought, the former New Order and Joy Division bassist Peter Hook and the industrial titans Ministry working on a split single together? 

Well it’s happened with the two taking on the 1972 space-rock classic “Dancing Madly Backwards” by Captain Beyond in their own ways.

The two versions are now available to be listened on Bandcamp with a limited edition split vinyl release is ready for pre-order now. 

Featured image by SFN‘s James Ainsworth, taken during Peter Hook & The Light‘s visit to Liverpool in March 2017. 

The LA’s 1987: Interview with Paul Hemmings 

Fans of The La’s have a great deal to be excited about this year with the 30-year anniversary of a very important period in the band’s career. Although their now legendary self-titled album was not released until 1990, 1987 found them at their creative peak in terms of writing and producing the songs that would eventually make the cut.

The songs at this early stage may lack the polish of the finished album, but fans and band members alike agree that this raw sound is perhaps closer to the band’s intentions than Steve Lillywhite’s version. 

Mike Badger and Paul Hemmings, formally of The La’s.

The Viper Label, the majestic Liverpool label, co-owned by ex-La’s members Paul Hemmings and Mike Badger, are releasing The La’s 1987 on vinyl and extended CD on September 22. The release will include tracks recorded at The Picket and The Stables, an extensive session recorded by the late Pete De Freitas, (Echo and The Bunnymen), and two live sessions from The Royal Court and the much-missed Café Berlin on Bold st.

To coincide with the album, an exhibition of photographs by Jake Summerton will be held at The Florrie in Liverpool before moving to Redhouse Originals Gallery in Harrogate. The exhibition will show rarely seen images of the band during this crucial point in their careers, including their performance at The Marquee.

I caught up with Paul Hemmings to discuss how this celebration came to fruition, and to re-consider the legacy of one of Liverpool’s most crucial and enigmatic bands.

Paul makes it clear that the idea for the exhibition came first after chatting with Jake Summerton who had travelled with The La’s on their first tour, and Martyn Campbell from The Lightning Seeds, and it soon became clear that this 30 year time period was important to mark in some way. “It just seems the right time for all of this to come out, altogether… also the places that some of those tracks were recorded are no more, The Stables (next to Strawberry Fields) have been converted into a house.”

Martyn had pointed out “You do realise this is thirty years, and you know” Paul admits “I was too close to it all.”

Paul’s working relationship with the band ended before they became famous, Mike Badger also left before that point. Mike went on to become a solo artist and form The Onset, whilst Paul joined The Lightning Seeds and continues to perform with various collaborators including Tommy Scott from Space and Top’s Paul Cavanagh

This gives him an interesting standpoint to view the development of the band, “A lot of those songs were developed in the stables, and there weren’t many new songs written after that time. I’d not really thought about it to be honest, but Mike Badger had left and our set was only about 20 minutes long and we had to write more stuff”

This is apparent in the fact that the 1987 sessions are pretty much made up of the tracks that eventually made up The La’s 1990 album.

Viper have already released a fair amount of La’s rarities and demos, I ask Paul how this new release differs, “Some of this stuff is already available on the net, I had all this stuff on cassettes, I just wanted to get this stuff out there as an album, for completists, it sounds a lot better than the stuff on the net”

We talk about the importance now with music collectors and the presence of completists, Paul adds, “Being in The La’s, it’s a lot like being in Captain Beefheart’s band you know, you’re never going to escape from it. I tried for years to distance myself from it but there’s no point, but you don’t want to overdose on it though.”

Paul does not appear to regret leaving the band when he did and rejoices in the time he spent there, “1986, ‘87 was a great time to be in the band, we were moving in the right direction, the band were on the way up, playing bigger venues, the audiences were increasing and the songs sounded great. Lee was coming up with an idea and musically John would lead there every day, We’d fathom out arrangements and we’d be trying out our new songs in the Pen and Wig every Tuesday.”

“Things only got difficult when the band were signed. It was the wrong time to sign a band like The La’sPaul continues “The whole production style then was like gated drums, and everything was recorded separately, there was no organic thing of putting up one mic and having the band record it live in one room. Now loads of people are doing that, it was just the wrong time for us in the 80s.”

I ask Paul if he was happy with the actual album when that came out, “Any band who plays the same set of songs with different members continually for four years, it’s not really going to sound as fresh as when you first recorded it, no matter who was in the band.”

Paul explores further, why the final cut doesn’t sit right, “I think Steve Lillywhite did the best job possible and was the right man for the job, under the circumstances. I heard those early demos before I joined the band, they got passed round, and they were fantastic, they contained something. Any band, who plays new songs for the first time, achieve something magical I think. You definitely lose it four or five years later.”

I ask how Lee and John feel about the reissues. Paul isn’t in touch with Lee, he hopes he will come to the exhibition but is not holding his breath. “John is really excited in hearing the stuff, a lot of it is on the net anyway like I said, but he hasn’t seen the pictures. They are fantastic and they have come on a long journey as well, it’s great that Jake has this exhibition. I saw these photos back in the 90s and they were only on slides, you had to hold them to the light, and I’m thinking are they as good as we think they are? Seeing them now, the clarity! These are classic shots. Looking at those shots in The Marquee, I can’t really believe it now, when you think of that place you think of The Rolling Stones, you know, and it’s gone now, it’s a moment in history”

The album is available on Viper’s website to pre-order and the exhibition will run from September 15 – October 7 at The Florrie, and from Oct 14 -28 at Redhouse Originals Gallery in Harrogate.

Toots and The Maytals, Liverpool Olympia 08/08/2017

Just as the legendary Toots and The Maytals waltz into the Olympia in Liverpool, SFN‘s Jack Cinnamond finds himself in the company of reggae royalty. 

“It’s been a long time!” exclaims the legendary frontman of The Maytals, Toots to an adoring crowd at the always-stunning Olympia as he cranks out another classic from the catalogue. 

Toots in the man who coined the word “reggae” and he proves it with every step. 

His band are tight, welcoming us to the set with a jazzy instrumental intro. He’s introduced as Toots as his band let’s the pressure drop, actually with “Pressure Drop“.

We’re already moving, Toots and his Maytals hit with song-after-song to keep us moving. 

Their cover of Richard Berry‘s “Louie Louie” is an early highlight, we know the words and Toots let’s us join in on every chance. 

He’s an amazing frontman, always has been but now we can see him in his way. 

Towards the end of their enduring set, a very personal cover of John Denver‘s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” with his replaced lyric of “West Jamaica” to show his love for his home. 

He returns after the end for his encore, preforming their iconic “64-46 That’s My Number” with us involved in the entire time. Toots asks for us seven times, and we oblige, “nobody has ever done seven times!” he yells. 

At the end, we’re extremely happy to have been with Toots for the night and he’s very thankful for being with us. Everything we really want in the gig, simple fun. 

Hope & Glory 2017: Review, a Rant and a Thank You

We’d love to say that in ten years time we can look back and laugh while saying to ourselves “we were at Hope & Glory, that shitshow”, but it’s not as simple as that.

It sounds woeful, but if this was a smaller festival in the likes of we’d be annoyed but it wouldn’t be as upset as we are today. 

It’s not a great day for our city’s music scene and you know what, it’s not even our fault. 

Arriving at Hope & Glory yesterday, based at city centre landmark area St. George’s Hall, we were met by a gigantic line reaching around the block. The fact the gates had been open for about two hours by that point, was a bad sign. How weren’t they getting people in? 

Reaching the gate, we noticed that the gate was smaller than it should be, for a capacity of 12,500 people anyway. 

Entering was the worst part. The bottleneck area showed this festival’s unpreparedness and general dismay for safety. Entering trough the only entrance straight into the way of the main bar area, into a crowd. 

I quickly noticed that The Membranes were finishing. The band were meant to be playing long before we arrived. We noticed the times were all off.

Unsure if that’s because of gates or just general awful stage management. 

The Pigeon Detectives took the stage, preforming song after song quite quickly. “Welcome to Hope & Glory, where nobody owns a fucking watch” exclaimed frontman Matt Bowman, there were already alarming signs so early. However, the band played to their best ability with awful sound quality. 

Following them, Badly Drawn Boy played a small set after stating “none of this is working but I’m not going to get mad, going to stay calm”. He was really speaking to us, but tried his best preforming a small set doing what he could. 

Still no words on how they’re making up time, by our count we won’t be able to see all the main stage bands before the 10:30pm curfew, yet the festival refuses to inform anything with anybody. 

Embrace, photography by James Ainsworth.

Embrace were scheduled to be next. They walk on to Guns N’ Roses‘ “Welcome To The Jungle” and the crowd erupts, while the festival is already shocking, the bands are trying their best. 

…and their equipment doesn’t work. They wave and leave. We’re unsure about what the fuck is actually going on by this point. By time they come back on, the band cracks out four songs in brilliant fashion having the crowd sing-a-long the entire time. 

Fantastic performance before they’re ushered away. 

The View bounces on, almost forty minutes later (still no information). Their performance is wild, their punky rock gets the crowd bouncing around and singing almost every word. 

The View, photograph by James Ainsworth.

Their hit “Same Jeans” goes down like a bloody storm, barn burner in-fact. Their electric performance is a highlight of the festival and we’d love them back soon.

Finally, we get somebody informing us about the times. The screen showed none of the times anymore and was missing Charlotte Church’s Late Night Pop Dungeon

The stage hand informed us about when the next bands would be on, but didn’t mention the removal of Church. We were disgraced to hear that she had been kicked off. 

The Fratellis entered next, fifteen minutes after their rescheduled time. The band crashed onto the stage playing a set to seemingly adoring fans. 

Their forty minute set was brilliant from start-to-finish, playing the usual greats from their catalogue like “Chelsea Dagger“, “Henrietta” and loads more. 

The Fratellis, photography by James Ainsworth.

However, noticing the side of the stage we saw the sound guy, who was doing a dreadful job all day anyhow, yelled at the Fratellis‘ bassist. 

Razorlight were up next, a band who many years ago headlined shows at Manchester Arena and sold-out tours are now out of their peak. 

Although, you wouldn’t think so watching them. 

The band bouncing out tunes from yesteryear while an adoring crowd sung every word, from “In The Morning” all the way to “America“. 

However, I decided to take a walk and find myself in the brilliant EBGBs basement to see Charlotte Church’s Late Night Pop Dungeon (who were fucking brilliant, by the way) while our photographer James Ainsworth took writing duties for headliners James
Then the stange Manchester indie rock legeends hit the stage, of course later then expected, as is the theme of this festival. Though we’re sure not James’ fault. Netherless, James came on to a huge round of applause as the crowd had been waiting for this all throughout this long, delayed day. 

Lead singer, Tim Booth lapping all of it up. He said a qucik hello the crowd and jumped right into it, obviously not wanting to waste any more time. Booth was his usual self, thrashing around the stage like a demented pigeon, putting on a hell of a show. During the second song, Booth jumped into the pit, being held up by his leg by an estactic member of the audience. 
James of course played the usual classics such as “Sit Down”, “Getting Away with It” and “Nothing But Love“, despite being cut short and unable to play their hit “Laid”. It can be said that in spite of the awful events of the festival. James gave us the show we’d all been waiting for all day, and gave us the perfect end to a not as perfect day.

James, photograph by James Ainsworth.

Speaking to the festival promotors and organisers, namely Lee O’Hanlon, I’d just like to say a decent heartfelt sarcastic thank you. 

Thanks for creating a bad image for our city in a matter of days, from putting our city’s music goers and even visitors in danger at your so-called “festival” to being an utter unprofessional, unpleasant swine on your social media accounts. 

The striking fact is that you’ve informed us that you’re a professional and were capable of holding this festival, while the actual fact is none of those were true. You knew before people arrived that the site wasn’t set up, and knew when we were watching the bands that danger could be afoot and you let everybody in and stay. 

Now it’s somebody else’s blame? 

That’s brilliant, sure we’ll believe you and we’re sure you’ve ran home with your pink flamingos in-tow and we’ll never see you in the city again, well unless this develops into a court-type deal which I wouldn’t blame people on creating. Hell, I had a press pass for the weekend and I want my money back, the money I didn’t pay. 

However now I want to actually thank the city’s music-minds who are usually underground or behind curtains actually creating a safe, live music experience for city-livers and those who come for fun.

Yesterday morning we had quite a lot of people attempting to fix the fuck-up caused by Hope & Glory. From Liverpool Loves, Cavern Club, The Magnet and all sorts offering stages, to Popped Music, even ourselves trying to find gigs for bands left in the dirt to restaurants and bars offering major discounts to festival goers all the way to the Zanzibar and EBGBs for hosting gigs for free in the night. 

We shouldn’t have to fix your mess, but that’s what our city’s music scene does. We’re often a tight-knit, band-together City who will do nothing but make it work and make people happy. 

Yet Hope & Glory gets all the attention for their fuck up. The non-scouse enterprise who decided to come to Liverpool and create an utter mess and then leave it for everybody else to fix. 

In ten years time, I’d love to look back and laugh at this saying “oh, I was at Hope & Glory” and I will. However, I’ll also be thinking “and remember when EBGBs threw Charlotte Church on at last minute, and the Red Rum Club the next night? Remember when The Lightning Seeds and Clean Cut Kid played the Zanzibar? Remember when we tried to fix it.”

Refunds and everything else is still on-going and likely will for a while now, hell even the abuse of James frontman Tim Booth may stay on-going by the Hope & Glory promoter on Twitter? 

…but we’ll leave you with the thought that Liverpool will do three things: A quick moan (we’re great at that!), help one another and laugh about it profusely.

Review and aftermath words by Jack Cinnamond, photography and James‘ review by James Ainsworth.

Lightning Seeds, Clean Cut Kid Play Zanzibar Show TONIGHT

After the shambolic cancellation of Hope and Glory Festival, The Lightning Seeds have announced a free gig to festival goers tonight at the Zanzibar with Clean Cut Kid

Doors are at 7pm for the gig and Hope and Glory goers who were left in the dirt by the festival are able to get in for free. 

Charlotte Church’s Late Night Pop Dungeon, Liquidation @ EBGBs 05/08/2017

After being binned by the scary-mess Hope & Glory Festival, Charlotte Church proved she won’t be kept from having fun. Jack Cinnamond ran from Hope & Glory to catch a blast of fun at Liquidation at EBGBs.

I’m not going to preach you on how woeful and dangerous Hope & Glory Festival was on opening day (yet) but I will explain that after hours delay between bands and curfew reaching quicker, organisers cancelled Charlotte Church’s Late Night Pop Dungeon without even telling us. 

Charlotte Church instead brought her Late Night Pop Dungeon specially to the weekly Liquidation club night at the ever-wonderful EBGBs as a special, last minute treat free to those with festival wristbands or simply £3 on the door. 

Which for a band who light the festival scene on fire over the last few years and have destroyed headline shows at the likes of Manchester‘s Gorilla and London‘s Roundhouse, it’s a treat to catch them at a place like EBGBs and in a dungeon-like biker bar-esque location like EBGBs, it’s very fitting. 

For their set, Charlotte Church’s Late Night Pop Dungeon pulled out an array of pop and rock classics that just melted and collided perfectly to create a pure party atmosphere, and it works so well. From their slamming version of Black Sabbath‘s “War Pigs” to their collision of Rock Master Scott & the Dynamic Three‘s “Roof Is On Fire” and the classic Talking Heads track “Burning Down The House“. 

Church shows not only is she a true pop-star, but that her knowledge of perfect pop bangers are almost magician like, with sections like playing “Vitimin C” by CAN to song-ending snippets of rock classics like “21st Century Schizoid Man” by King Crimson and even slick versions of the likes of The Beatles‘ “Lady Madonna“. 

Charlotte Church proves she’s not playing about now, she’s had her turn in the pop-industry machine and now wants to play it her way. In the end, Charlotte Fucking Church as fans yell joyously, stands tall. 

Neared the finish, we catch a perfect mash-up mainstay from her set, Destiny’s Child‘s “Bootylicious” mixed with “Killing In The Name” by Rage Against The Machine, which unlike how it sounds, works very well and goes down like a storm. 

Words by Jack Cinnamond, photograph by Jess Sharpe