Sunday, 28 March 2010

Ian Brown - Live Review

Another 'catch-up' live review from last year.... (we're nearly there I promise!)
Ian Brown. Live at the Cliffs Pavilion, Southend - 30th November 2009.
As quite a big Stone Roses fan (both at the time and still now), it's still a mystery to me as to why I've never got particularly excited about Ian Brown as a solo artist. I bought his first couple of albums and found them both... just OK to be honest.
For me something is missing, although I never could quite put my finger on it (actually I wouldn't mind betting that the all important missing ingredient was a certain Mr John Squire... and funny enough I've enjoyed all of his post Roses work).
For this gig Ian played a selection of songs from his 6 solo albums... a few that I recognised, and a large chunk that I didn't. It doesn't really matter though as I can't help but come to the conclusion that the ones I'm unfamiliar with sound very much like the ones I do know! It's an alright gig... Ian Brown isn't the most enigmatic artist (and certainly not the greatest singer!), and doesn't command the stage like some do... but he's stood the test of time, so I'm sure it must be me.
However the encore is my lasting memory of this gig. A truly fabulous rendition of Fools Gold (the only Roses track on offer all evening), along with another couple of tracks that I don't know... but are much better that the other tracks I didn't know!

This last 20 minutes or so redeems the whole evening for me, and I come out more impressed than I expected to be... even more so when one of my friends (who is a much bigger fan) informs me that the other encore tracks were all from his latest album. Well bugger me! There's life in the old dog yet!!

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Whats On In Southend This Week!! (erm... 47 years ago!)

(the above montage that I created of various local cinema ads is 'clickable' and comes up nice and large... well worth a look!)

As promised in the previous post, here is a little glimpse of the 'whats on in Southend and surrounding areas' list that Stephen Pickard compiled in 1963.

The list covers 9 venues: The ABC in Southend, The Odeon in Southend, The Ritz in Southend, Garons in Southend, The Essoldo in Westcliff, The Mascot in Westcliff, The Coliseum in Leigh-on-Sea, The Regal in Rayleigh and The Kingsway in Hadleigh.

I've picked the line up for this very week, 47 years ago (note the Odeon unable to show a film on Tuesday due to a live performance by Ella Fitzgerald!):

ABC Southend
Thursday March 21st for Seven Days.
"Who's Got the Action?" (Cert 'A') Starring Dean Martin and Lana Turner. Also "It's Only Money" (U) starring Jerry Lewis.
(March issue of ABC Film Review now on sale. Price 6d. Featured on cover: Elvis Presley & Stella Stevens in "Girls! Girls! Girls!")

Odeon Southend
Sunday March 17th for Six Days (Tuesday On Stage: Ella Fitzgerald).
"Nine Hours To Rama" (A) starring Horst Buccholz. Also "Sniper's Ridge" (A) with Jack Ging.

Ritz Southend
Sunday March 17th for Seven Days.
"Something Wild" (X) starring Carroll Baker and Ralph Meeker. Also "The Nun and the Sergeant" (A) starring Robert Webber.

Garons Southend
Sunday March 17th for Seven Days.
"The Wind Cannot Read" (U) Starring Dirk Bogarde. Also "Man At Carlton Tower" (U) Starring Maxine Audley.

Essoldo Westcliff
Sunday March 17th for Seven Days.
"Bridge On The River Kwai" (U) Directed by David Lean. Plus Full Supporting Programme.

Mascot Westcliff
Monday March 18th for Six Days.
"Butterfield 8" (X) Starring Elizabeth Taylor. Also "Village of the Damned" (A) starring George Sanders.

Coliseum Leigh
Sunday March 17th for One Day Only
"Private Hell 36" (A) starring Ida Lupino. Also "The Great Jesse James Raid" (A) starring Willard Parker & Barbara Payton.

Monday March 18th for Six Days.
"On The Beat" (U) Starring Norman Wisdom. Also "Tomboy and the Champ" (U) Starring Candy Moore & Ben Johnson.

Regal Rayleigh
Sunday March 17th for One Day Only
"Ten Tall Men" (U) starring Burt Lancaster. Also "The Man Who Couldn't Walk" (A) with Peter Reynolds

Monday March 18th for Three Days.
"A Prize of Arms" (A) Starring Stanley Baker. Also "Girl On Approval" (A) with Rachel Roberts.

Thursday March 21st for Three Days.
"The Amorous Prawn" (U) starring Ian Carmichael & Joan Greenwood. Also "The Unstoppable Man" (U) starring Cameron Mitchell.

Kingsway Hadleigh
Sunday March 17th for Three Days (closed Monday).
"The Spiral Road" (A) starring Rock Hudson. Also "Band of Thieves" (U) with Acker Bilk.

Thursday March 21st for Three Days.
"Phantom of the Opera" (A) starring Herbert Lom & Heather Sears. Also "Captain Clegg" (A) with Peter Cushing.

This week in the West End of London:
March 18: "Sammy Going South" (U) Directed by Alexander MacKendrick, starring Edward G. Robinson, has a Royal Film Performance at the Odeon, Leicester Square.

Here's what was on in the final week of March 1963 (great to see two different Tony Hancock films getting an airing at the same time!) :

ABC Southend
Thursday March 28th for Seven Days.
"The Punch & Judy Man" (Cert 'U') Starring Tony Hancock. Also "Hand in Hand" (U) starring Kathleen Byron & Finlay Currie

Odeon Southend
Sunday March 24th for Seven Days.
"Barabbas" (A) starring Anthony Quinn. Plus Full Supporting Programme.

Ritz Southend
Sunday March 24th for Seven Days.
"Witness For The Prosecution" (U) starring Charles Laughton & Tyrone Power. Also "The Far Country" (U) starring James Stewart.

Garons Southend
Sunday March 24th for Seven Days.
"The Rebel" (U) Starring Tony Hancock. Also "Apache Territory" (U) Starring Rory Calhoun.

Essoldo Westcliff
Sunday March 24th for Seven Days.
"The L-Shaped Room" (X) Starring Leslie Caron & Tom Bell. Also "Spike Milligan On Treasure Island W.C.2." (U)

Mascot Westcliff
Monday March 25th for Six Days.
"Carmen Jones" (A) Starring Harry Belafonte & Dorothy Dandridge. Also "Carousel" (U) starring Gordon MacRae & Shirley Jones.

Coliseum Leigh
Sunday March 24th for One Day Only
"The Wonderful Country" (A) starring Robert Mitchum. Also "Ten Seconds To Hell" (A) starring Jeff Chandler.

Monday March 25th for Six Days.
"Sodom and Gomorrah" (X) Starring Stewart Granger & Stanley Baker. Plus full Supporting Programme.

Regal Rayleigh
Sunday March 24th for One Day Only
"Up Periscope" (U) starring James Garner. Also "In The Money" (U) with Huntz Hall & The Bowery Boys

Monday March 25th for Three Days.
"Pillow Talk" (A) Starring Rock Hudson & Doris Day. Also "Operation Petticoat" (U) starring Cary Grant & Tony Curtis.

Thursday March 28th for Three Days.
"The Iron Maiden" (U) starring Michael Craig & Anne Helm. Also "Locker 69" (U) An Edgar Wallace Thriller.

Kingsway Hadleigh
Sunday March 24th for Seven Days.
"Spartacus" (A) starring Kirk Douglas. Plus Full Supporting Programme

This week in the West-End, London:
"This Sporting Life" (X) starring Richard Harris & Rachel Roberts continues it's run at the Odeon, Leicester Square.

If you'd like to see the complete listings for the first three months of 1963, you can download Stephen's list here.

Thanks Stephen for sharing your history with us.


Tuesday, 16 March 2010

From Southend to Disney: The story of a life in movies!

I've said it before and I'll no doubt say it again, the Internet is an amazing thing! A couple of weeks back I was contacted by a guy called Stephen Pickard. He'd stumbled onto the site whilst searching for information on the Southend Odeon, and had came across my post. A few emails whizzed back and forth, and Stephen told me he used to live in the area. He has been a big film fan from a child, and eventually became a projectionist at the Odeon in the 60's. I chanced my luck and asked if he would be prepared to put a few words down from his time in Southend, and he kindly agreed. I found his story fascinating, and his recall of the times is simply amazing! Amongst many other tales you can hear about a Beatles world exclusive in Southend, an iffy 'initiation ceremony', and just who was that urinating in the Odeon dressing room??!
Stephen still remains in the industry, although rather than showing them, he makes them these days, and he currently works in LA for Disney Studios! So without further ado, over to you Stephen......

I moved to Eastwood with my family in January 1959, when I was 10 years old. At first my family took me to the various cinemas in Southend on the bus, but within a year I was going on my own. I had to find the courage to ask adults to take me into the cinema when they were showing 'A' certificate films, as being under 16 I had to be accompanied. As for the 'X' category, well that was a lot more difficult! I grew a liking for science-fiction fantasy and horror films as well as the traditional family films. I was a big Steve Reeves fan who was enjoying huge popularity around this time with his playing of Hercules and other muscular roles. I first saw Reeves in the initial "Hercules" film at the Southend Essoldo in mid 1959.
(Southend Essoldo, Warrior Square - Built 1909 (as a skating rink), Opened as a cinema 1911, closed 1960)

I recall walking down a long narrow alleyway off the high street which led to a tiny back road which ran down the side of the Essoldo. Directly opposite this alleyway was an alternative entrance with paybox to the auditorium. (the main entrance was on Warrior Square). I used to be fascinated by the walls of the alleyway and the walls of the cinema in the tiny side road as they were lined with glass frame cases of quad sized film posters of forthcoming releases. At this time, we were just coming out of the golden age of the fifties of science fiction and horror films and the Essoldo were running lots of them. What was distressing to me is that they were mostly 'X' certificate films and it would probably be years before I was able to see most of them. I did get to see "The Amazing Colossal Man", with my sister at the Essoldo, as it only had an "A' certificate. It's sequel, "Terror Strikes!" (aka: "War of the Colossal Beast") got an 'X'. Barred again!

In the early autumn of 1959, my family took me to the Southend Odeon.

(Southend Odeon, High Street - Opened 1935, closed 1998)

Each year the Odeon ran a live show of the crowning of the Carnival Queen, a Southend tradition. On these occasions the lucky lady was usually crowned by a member of the Film or TV Entertainment Profession. A new film was chosen, usually a new Rank release, and in this case it was "The Heart of A Man" starring Frankie Vaughan. He was also the guest chosen to crown the Queen. At this time I was a big Frankie Vaughan fan and was eager to see him live on stage. Right up to the arrival at the theatre we were expecting to see him but while sitting in the packed auditorium, a taped recording was played over the loudspeakers. It was Frankie Vaughan's voice in a very apologetic tone, apologising for not being present as he had been called away to Hollywood to star with Marilyn Monroe in 20th Century Fox's CinemaScope musical "Let's Make Love". So co-star Tony Britton took his place. We were all very disappointed that he was not present. It is also sad that Frankie's move to Hollywood did not prove successful, after only two films. On his return to Britain he did not find quite the level of success that that he achieved in the fifties.

Hammer Horror films were also achieving great success at this time, although I knew very little about them. They mostly ran at the ABC (Rivoli) Alexandra Street and the alternative Rank theatre on Pier Hill, the Ritz.

(The Ritz, Top of Pier Hill - Opened 1935, closed 1972, demolished 1981)

The Odeon rarely showed horror films as it was Rank's leading showplace in Southend. Hammer type films were distributed usually to the 'Guamont' circuit and the Ritz was the equivalent to that. My first exposure to Hammer Films was in January 1960 at the Rivoli.

(The Rivioli, Alexandra Street - Built 1896 (as the Empire Theatre), Opened as a Cinema 1920, Closed as a Cinema 1998, Now The New Empire Theatre)

It was "The Stranglers of Bombay" which had an 'A' certificate. My Mother took me to see it on the Monday afternoon before I returned to school on the Tuesday. I am ever grateful to my Mother for it was my official introduction to Hammer Films, I never got over it!

In 1960 my parents took me to the Empire, Leicester Square to see "Ben-Hur" in the West End of London and introduced me to big screen presentations. Southend at this time had no 70mm installations, so I visited the West End frequently from then on where they had plenty in supply. I saw most of the big 'Roadshow' reserve-seat presentations in the West End such as "How the West Was Won", "Lawrence of Arabia", "It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World", "Mutiny on the Bounty", "Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm" etc.

I used to go to the cinema two sometimes three times a week as, unlike today, there was a lot to choose from. By the time I was 14, in 1962, I could usually get into 'A's without much trouble. During this transitional period I was attending the 'Saturday Morning Pictures' at the Regal, Rayleigh and was caught up in the Batman serial.

(The Regal, Bellingham Lane, Rayleigh - Built 1937, closed 1973)

At the same time on Sundays they were running 50's science fiction and horror 'X' films (nobody under 16 permitted). So one Sunday afternoon I went along to the Regal and mustered up the courage and went up to the paybox and asked for a ticket. The little Scottish lady took one look at me and asked if I was sixteen and I replied yes. Immediately the ticket spat up out of the flat tray in front of me and I took the ticket and wasted no time in getting into the auditorium! The Regal was just a small cinema with no balcony but it had plenty of atmosphere. Soon, I had the courage and was able to get into 'X' films at most of the cinemas!

When the ABC (or Odeon) in Southend had finished their run the films would usually move to Westcliff (Essoldo) then Leigh (Coliseum) then Rayleigh (Regal) then Hadleigh (Kingsway). When the Rivoli closed for redecoration, most, if not all their releases went to the Westcliff Essoldo. The Mascot across the street usually ran 'B' films. All the 'roadshow' releases on the Rank circuit had unlimited runs at the Ritz on Pier Hill. The normal 'A' releases went to the Odeon. I kept a log, from 1963 for a year or so, of all the local cinemas and what they showed and I still have them.

(The ABC, Alexandra Street. Formally The Rivioli... see previous photo!)

(Westcliff Essoldo, London Road (picture taken when it was still the Metropole), Opened 1939, closed 1991)

(Leigh-on-Sea Coliseum, Elm Road - Opened 1914, closed 1965. Became a Bingo hall, and is now a hairdressers)

(Kingsway, London Road, Hadleigh - Opened 1936, closed 1970)

(The Mascot, London Road, Westcliff - Opened 1912, burnt down in 1964)

Movies were firmly in my blood and I knew that I wanted to get into the film industry. Due to the limitations set-up by the film unions it was a closed shop. The only way in was to enter a cinema training programme at the Wandsworth College once a week for 4 years and I would be employed at a cinema which would enable me to join the NATKE projectionist's union.

In January 1964 I started as a trainee projectionist for Granada Theatres at the Century Cinema in Pitsea.

(Century, Pitsea - Opened 1930's, closed 1970. No picture of the Century seems to remain. Here is a shot of it as a bingo hall in the 1990s).

It was a quaint little 'stalls only' theatre that ran 'second-run' films. I learned how to clean the projection room, which was no easy chore, polishing floors and brass, dusting everywhere. It was like being in the army. I worked twelve hours a day five days a week. The lavatory had an opening at the bottom of the door and my initiation ceremony was to be locked in and be exposed for a short time to the smoking burning fumes of nitrate film wrapped in burning newspaper! As it turned out, the Century was an ideal training ground and amongst the interesting experiences was to see a fellow projectionist partially mangle his finger in the intermittent sprocket, during the screening of the Norman Wisdom Comedy "A Stitch In Time", in an attempt to avoid stopping the film when the film ripped on the projector. The only time I saw this film in colour was when the film was being repaired on the rewind bench stained with his blood! During my time at the Century Cinema I had an offer to work at the Odeon in Southend, but felt I wasn't ready. In September 1964 I finally accepted and, looking back, spent the two happiest years of my working life there.

When I worked at the Odeon, everything was done right. I was trained properly. Showmanship and presentation really mattered. At first it was a frightening thought that I would be involved in presenting films to a maximum crowd of 2200 people, but surprisingly enough I gained confidence very quickly and moved up from trainee, who would 'float' between two shifts, to being assistant to Leonard Himsley, the second projectionist. The chief projectionist was George Gorham. Among the first films shown when I first started were Hitchcock's "Marnie" and Wilder's "Irma La Douce". We took a pride with presentation back then. We had 'carbon-arc' lamps for the screen light source. It was a sin if we showed the bare screen, or showed the film temporarily 'out-of-frame'. We had an 'act-drop', as it was called, instead of traditional curtains. These curtains floated to the top of the stage, although they could be opened the normal way which we did for live shows. There was 2,284 seats in all and they were often filled. It was a wonderful atmosphere. Audiences generally knew how to behave and they respected each other and as a result made a much more enjoyable cinema going experience.

We had a 52 foot CinemaScope screen and it looked great when we ran films like "Lawrence of Arabia", "It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" and the Fox films. Unfortunately we weren't equipped with stereo or 70mm, which came later after I had left when the theatre was twinned. We screened "Goldfinger" for five weeks, and I remember we had a new screen during that time as the old one was thick with cigarette nicotine. I also had my first and only film rip on that one. It was quite an experience as it played to packed houses for days. I would often go downstairs to the back of the circle on my break to hear the enormous crowd reaction. Audiences in large numbers knew back then how to behave and enjoy a film together. The Head projectionist's office had a glassless porthole so you could hear crowd reaction, quite something to behold when you had a full house with 2000 plus people!

As time went by and I gained experience, I would voluntarily come in early (7 to 7:30am) on the first day of the new week's films (Thursday) and put the entire program together. This involved taking the individual elements, (feature, second feature, short - usually "Look At Life" - adverts and trailers) and splice, examine and make out a condition report. Usually, being a 'pre-release' theatre we would get our films just after the London West End and, before the first leg of general release which was North London, they would be brand new 35mm prints, some I.B. Technicolor and others De-Luxe or Eastman.

In 1965 on July 29th we ran the Beatles' film "Help!" concurrently with the World Premiere run at the London Pavilion. They started the film in the evening, so we showed the first ever public screening of the film in the world! I made sure I made up the program that morning, screen the first performance entirely and the watch the next performance from the auditorium before the World Premiere performance that evening! The week prior we had a live show with Cliff Richard, and all the staff had their picture taken with him in the circle foyer. Afterwards I walked down the stairs to the main foyer with Cliff in full view of a huge banner of the following Thursday's program of "Help!" and he expressed great enthusiasm in seeing the film.

Stephen has kindly provided me with the following two photos taken at the Southend Odeon from his personal collection (he is standing next to Cliff Richard in the first photo, and standing in the middle at the back in the second) I remember helping out on the stage shows, either on the spot lights in the projection room or down on stage with the artistes, often walking in with the curtain so it wouldn't get caught on stage equipment. As well as Cliff Richard, I remember meeting Lulu and seeing one of the Hollies peeing into the wash basin in the dressing room, not always a luxury meeting pop stars!

By early 1966 I had the urge to move on. I had viewed many films first run in London's West End and visited many of the luxurious theaters' projection rooms. I visited the Dominion when they were playing "The Sound of Music", the Metropole, during it's run of "Lawrence of Arabia" and the Odeon Leicester Square when they showed "What's New Pussycat?". The Odeon Leicester Square was the Rank Organisation's 'flagship' theatre, it's beautiful interior and top notch presentation impressed me the most and I was determined to find employment there. Unfortunately, this was not to be. Due to the fact that the suburban and West End theatres were separate divisions I was prevented by Rank to cross over into the West End. Instead, in September, 1966 I went to work at the Odeon, Dalston to train on the new projection technology called 'projectomatic'.

By December, 1966 Rank would have ready a brand-new theatre in Elephant-and-Castle in South London, to replace the luxury Trocadero. This new theatre was intended as a preview of the future. No screen curtains. Instead, a 'floating screen' with no visible signs of support. The houselights turned off first from the rear and progressively worked their way toward the screen, leaving the floating screen filled with multi-colored lighting. Gone were the stalls and circle, instead, a stadium designed auditorium was built. The projectionist's duties were changed dramatically. Gone was the manual showmanship approach. In it's place was the latest in automatic projection technology. A large console stood in the middle of the floor which contained a rotating drum. It was full of holes where split pins would be strategically placed which would then trigger relays as the drum turned. Each relay controlled lights and all projector operations. Tiny pieces of metallic tapes placed on the edge of the film would pass over a roller and rotate the drum once. We still had carbon arc lamps, but each film reel ran a whole hour which enabled us often to have to leave the projection room to check heating and air-conditioning levels. This was a one-manned show which meant the projection room was often left empty for short periods of time, previously unheard of, if any technical problems arose in the theatre as there were no engineers. During this time we had a personal appearance of Oliver Reed to promote his film "I'll Never Forget Whats'isname".

I remained at this theatre for about fifteen months, but decided that the changing ways of theatres was not for me. So in April 1968 I moved into the film studios, at MGM Studios, Elstree in Borehamwood, Herts.

A big thank you to Stephen for a really interesting piece, and what a great memory too!! Stephen has also kindly provided me with a copy of his log of films shown in the Southend area in 1963, and I'll add a sample in a future post.


Wednesday, 10 March 2010

The Missing Piece Of The Jigsaw!

My dad is away at the moment, and I'm keeping an eye on his gaff.... When I popped round the other day I saw his box of old photographs and couldn't believe the one sitting right on top. Taken at a family party sometime in the latter part of the 1970's, it completes the saga of the Essex Brothers tapes a treat, as everyone involved is there!
  • Front Row, either side of my nan and grandad are my uncles Mick and Don (The Essex Brothers);
  • In front of them is Aunt Winnie (the Dagenham Girl Piper!);
  • The gent in the middle at the back is Uncle Ted, the man who recorded that radio show on his reel-to-reel recorder;
  • In front of him in the white is his wife (Aunt) Margaret, who will discover the tapes in the loft almost 50 years later!;
  • Far right Is Uncle Alan and his Wife (Aunt) Kathleen - Alan has just unearthed a 78RPM record of the brothers;
  • Back row in a white shirt is my uncle Tony and his wife (Aunt) Hazel - Tony has also recently found 2 records of Mick and Don (Tony and Alan were also twins oddly enough!);
  • and finally, all squished up in that busy top left hand corner is my Dad (who wrote one of the songs unearthed on that reel-to-reel) and my much missed Mum.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Motorhead\Damned\Girlschool - Live Review

Here's another one of my belated live reviews:

Motorhead, The Damned and Girlschool. Live at the Cliffs Pavilion, Southend - 24th November 2009.

Concerts are like buses sometimes... I'd had nothing for ages and then four of the buggers came along in one month. This was number 3 of my November gig-fest, and to be honest was one that I didn't really expect to be going to... Y'see, the News that Motorhead were playing in my home town had been announced several months before I purchased a ticket. But it wasn't until The Damned wee announced as the support that I all of a sudden became interested!
Some gigs can be better than you expected, others can be a disappointment. This one however panned out pretty much exactly as I expected...
There used to be an old adage about giving the support act a shit soundcheck so that the main band would sound that much better. That ploy was certainly in evidence on this night, and the sound quality for Girlschool was nothing short of rotten! The lead guitarist was so low in the mix that you couldn't even hear her (how can that happen these days?), and I have to say I felt a tad sorry her, as she was obviously oblivious to the fact that she was completely inaudible... She was giving it her all whilst covering every page of the book of rock guitar hero poses and face actions. Bless. Despite the weedy mix, the gals go down pretty well and exit to very generous applause.
Next up are the Damned... and the only reason I'm here really. It's over twenty years since they last played this venue (1985 and 1986 - I was at both), although lead singer Dave Vanian is the only member of today's line up that was present back then.

Their set is perhaps a little more one dimensional than when they headline, but it's completely understandable. They are, on the whole, not playing to their own audience on this tour, so have tailored the songs to suit a Motorhead audience... i.e. all the 100mph noisy ones! (New Rose, Neat Neat Neat, Looking At You, Love Song, Smash It Up etc etc). But to their credit they do still manage to slip in a couple of slower treats in the shape of 'Under the Wheels' from the latest album, and amazingly 13th Floor Vendetta from the Black Album.

As I've mentioned in a previous live review, this line-up of the Damned is quality. The Captain and Vanian steal the show (as always) but the input from Pinch (drums), Monty (keyboards) and Stu (bass) should not be underestimated. It's great to see them perform on a larger stage than they often get the chance to these days, and it gives Vanian a chance to prowl the boards like a tiger stalking its prey. Again, the set is marred by a poor mix and almost non-existent lighting, but the band themselves are mesmerising.
Motorhead are exactly what I expected... ridiculously loud (even with ear-plugs, my lug-oles are ringing for almost the next 48 hours).
For someone who I have always found to be such a great and unique character, I'm surprised at the lack of stage charisma emanating from Lemmy Kilmister. Other than actually walking on stage (and walking off again at the end!) the guy literally doesn't move for 90 minutes! He's like a waxwork dummy (although admittedly one that plays a pretty mean bass!), but then I guess he is an OAP these days, so I shouldn't really complain.

However, I do find the first few songs immensely enjoyable.... then the next few songs were OK... then the next few songs sounded like the last few songs..... and then I started to drift a little. After 45 minutes I actually popped off to finally bag the beers I'd attempted (and failed) to get on 3 separate occasions earlier in the proceedings. Oddly the bar wasn't as deserted as I was expecting it to be, and even more oddly there were big hairy fellas in Motorhead t-shirts propping up the bar having a chat... Are Motorhead a little samey even for the converted these days?
One of the highlights for me was when the band come out for the encore and play an acoustic number, Whorehouse Blues (I think!). This grabbed my attention once more, and the change in pace and noise was most welcome. But it was short-lived, and we were back to the more traditional sound (and speed!) with the very next song. If you're not particularly a Motorhead fan then, like me, you are likely to only know 3 of their songs, and predictably, we had to wait until the end for the pay-off of Bomber, Ace of Spades and Overkill (Ace of Spades was a cracker though!).
The two other members of Motorhead are great value for money, and are actually much more interesting to watch than Lemmy. They smack a little of 80's ROCKKKK cliches (with haircuts to match), but it's good entertaining fun.

Over the next few weeks I bump into literally dozens of people who were at this gig (at least 6 from my office were in attendance). The one thing I heard time and time again was how impressed people were with the Damned. In fact, even a couple who went along only for Motorhead came away thinking the Damned were better.

I'm glad I finally got to see Motorhead, although I'm guessing I probably should have seen them a few years earlier for best results....