Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Welcome to Peter Clemon's Coventry Music Articles

This Post Remains on top as an introduction to the site. Scroll below for the latest posts.

This Blogspot is part of the Hobo (Coventry Music and Arts Magazine) archive run by Trev Teasdel.

Hobo was a Coventry music magazine c 1973 - 75 and the archives of the magazine and Hobo workshop and the general music scene of the 70's was originally on Vox blogs c 2007 until recently. Vox closed and the site is being redeveloped and rearranged here - it's still in progress so bear with us.

Photos of the Coventry Music Museum run by Pete Chambers
Do visit the museum if you are in Coventry - website

This Blog
This Hobo blogspot in particular  is for Peter Clemons Coventry music Scene articles for the Coventry Telegraph and beyond. Pete Clemons has a huge database of hundreds of gigs in Coventry from the 60's to the present. Both professional acts and local bands. He has had over 100 articles published in the Coventry Telegraph which, on his request, we've collated here and  have linked them with further material from the Hobo magazine archives.

NEW - Coventry Book Launch Documenting the Music and Entertainment Scene of 1970's by Ruth Cherrington. The Dirty Stop Outs Guide 1970's Coventry.
Available in Coventry from Waterstones and HMV or from Amazon UK here 

Hobo magazine and Workshop are well featured in the book as are many of the photos from the Hobo Archive pages here.Both Pete Chambers and Pete Clemons make a good contribution to the book as well.

  • Early posts on here - if you scroll right down - are Pete's Rock of Ages Posts - gigs in Cov through the ages since the early 60's to present.
  • Later posts are about important music venues in the city and their history.
  • Other posts are about Coventry bands from the 60's onwards.

Pete Clemons and Trev Teasdel at  BBC Radio Coventry and Warwickshire January 2016

Links to the other Hobo Coventry Music Archive sites 
Coventry Music Scene from Hobo - This is the Hub to all the sites below

Hobo - Coventry Music Archives This is the main Blogspot for the Coventry Music Archives from Hobo Magazine with archive material from HoboMagazine and other Coventry music magazines, feature articles and other documentation. This site is still in development.

Coventry Arts Umbrella Club
The archives of the Coventry Arts Umbrella Club which was opened in 1955 by the Goons and where some of the Two Tone musicians started out and literary figures like Phillip Larkin and much more. many Coventry bands played the Umbrella in the late 60's and early 70's. It also housed Coventry's first Folk Club.

Coventry Folk Club Scene 1970's  
This is the Hobo site for Coventry's longstanding and thriving Folk and Acoustic scene. It covers both folk archives from the 70's and features on some of the contemporary singer songwriters out there now along with Pete Willow's history of Coventry Folk Scene and pdf versions of  his 70's Folks Magazine 1979 / 80. Top names like Rod Felton, Dave Bennett, Kristy Gallacher, Pauline (Vickers) Black, Roger Williamson, Sean Cannon and many more.

Coventry Gigs 1960 to Present (This blogspot in fact!).

Coventry Discos, Venues, Music shops and Agencies / Studios etc.
A steadily progressing blog for a variety of other aspects of Coventry's music scene - the DJ's, Discos, Venues, Arts fests, record shops, studios, music agencies etc etc..

Coventry Musicians Who's Who 
This blog has an A to Z of Coventry musicians. It's not yet complete (if ever!) but there are many names and their bands on already. I will come back to it when the A to Z of bands is complete and add in names not on. Meanwhile if you are not on it - and you should be - or your friends and their bands or if your info is incorrect - do let us know at hobozine@googlemail.com.

Hobo A to Z of Coventry Bands and Artists
Meanwhile a huge A to Z of Coventry bands and artists can be found (again in development) here https://sites.google.com/site/bandsfromcoventry/

Roger Waters – Birmingham Arena

Roger Waters – Birmingham Arena
by Pete Clemons

For well over 40 years now Roger Waters, has, consistently been writing quite brilliant songs about inequality, mortality, religion and authoritarianism. His lyrics are in no way subtle. They pack a punch and leave you in no doubt. The message he wants to convey is totally in your face and come through loud and clear.

Even in these times, you can listen to an album where Roger has contributed with his lyrics and you can relate those lyrics to events in the world today. And given their relativeness, a lot of those songs that I guess Roger felt were still relevant today and connected to each other lyrically have been dusted down and given a fresh airing.

The music, split across two sets, was bookended by huge chunks of ‘Dark Side of the Moon’. Sandwiched in between are songs from ‘Wish You Were Here, ‘The Wall’ along with a couple of the epics from ‘Animals’. An introduction of the band, that included, established members from previous outings along with those that helped Roger create his latest release. A finale of ‘Comfortably Numb’ and off the band went to huge applause from an audience who were being showered in thousands of tickets that displayed the word ‘Resist’. So I did and didn’t fight to grab one.

Roger had dragged out those lyrics, some written many years ago, breathed new life into them, and combined them with his more up to date messages that can be found on his most recent from his latest album where he questions: ‘Is This the Life We Really Want?’. And that’s exactly what Roger was attempting to do during his current world tour which recently called in on Birmingham.

I did think however, that a lot of these messages were being diluted by the overtness of what was happening off stage. Instead of this being a chance to admire and reinforce such wonderful music and thought provoking lyrics the gig kind of turned into a huge political rally.

A good deal of the audience appeared to be simply amused by it all. With photos or video’s being taken at every opportunity of every back drop image, every appearance of some radio controlled flying object and every on stage tea party. Combine all of that with huge whoops of delight at each and every lighting effect and the whole thing slowly became a little lost on me. Down the centre of the arena there were even some drop-down murals of Battersea Power Station which, in recent years, has been extensively refurbished and has now designated as a mixed use neighbourhood.

Roger was already preaching to the converted, that’s why we were there. I just felt though that the extensive use of theatricals were all a bit too much and unnecessary. But at least the music was still wonderful to hear live again with no expense sparred for the magnificent quadrophonic system used to deliver it.

Maybe the heat outside had gotten to me and I am certain that I am in a minority. But the chatter on the way out of the arena seemed to confirm my thoughts as it was all about the flying pig and suchlike and not so much the audio. Which was a shame really, as it had been a fantastic gig but, for me, kind of summed it all up.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Rock of Ages - Pete Clemons with Coventry Gig Listings of the Past.

Here are the Rock of Ages Columns by Pete Clemons, published in the Coventry Telegraph c 2010 / 11
(Spreadsheet Pete!)

Covering monthly gigs from the 1960's to 20011

Published December 2011

Published November 2011

Published October 2011

Published September 2011

Published August 2011

Published July 2011

Published June 2011

Published May 2011

Published April 2011

Published March 2011

Published February 2011

Published January 2011

Published December 2010

Published November 2010

Published October 2010

Published September 2010

Published August 2010

Published July 2010

Published June 2010

Published May 2010

Published April 2010

Published March 2010

Published February 2010

Published January 2010

The Ramrods Attempt to Gate Crash the Godiva

The Ramrods Attempt to Gate Crash the Godiva.

by Pete Clemons.

I have never been a great fan of music contests. I kind of get the idea of what they are for, particularly for bands that lack experience or are just starting out, and are looking for possible pointers from experienced judges as how to improve and develop. But, for me, music is an art form and not a sport and these contests have never sat comfortably in my mind at least. 

As such, I have always tended to give contests a wide berth. That was, however, until I heard that legendary Coventry band The Ramrods had entered one in order to get a shot at the Godiva festival. Never having had the inclination before, my curiosity immediately got the better of me as to how it would all go for them.

And out of respect to the other bands that have to go through this tortuous route, I have held back releasing these words so as not to affect or sway any of the results.

It just seems so inconceivable, to me at least, that an established band like The Ramrods, were having to audition themselves by playing their way through a series of heats in order to prove that they are worthy of a festival in their home city.

At the heart of this band is Danny Cunningham a stalwart of the Coventry music scene has a wealth of experience. Whether it was with his bands that include The Ramrods, Major 5, Gdansk, or as a solo artist, Danny has been a part of the fabric of the music scene within Coventry for over 40 years now. And here he was, or so it seemed to me, having to prove that point.

It turns out that Danny wanted to go back to basics. He wanted to play his electric guitar and go back to the days when he was in a band that would deliver short sharp songs. And with brother Barny alongside him on rhythm guitar, Steve Barney on bass and Jamie Bicknell on drums, this they set out to do.

The thing is though was that they were up against a system where, in addition to judges, social media came into play with phone voting having a big impact. Where is a 35 year old band going to get a coach load of fans to vote for them by text or whatever means. This competition feels loaded to start with.

However, somehow they managed to win their way through the heats and into the final. Several bands played at the final. With the length of their songs, The Ramrods set came and went in a flash. At the end of it all and, unsurprisingly, The Ramrods had failed. But when the results of the final were announced, they didn’t go down too well. It was very noticeable there were a lot of unhappy people.

The only conclusions I can come up with about these music contests is that, at the end of the day, the only real competition involved, actually has nothing at all to do with the talent or the music. It has in fact got everything to do with who has the bigger fan base and who can persuade their friends to buy the most voting slips.

I asked Danny why he got involved. His intentions turned out to be truly genuine and the Godiva Festival does seem to have missed a trick here. “About entering I thought it would be good to have a band with a sense of history who can evoke memories in people of gigs played in venues that may not exist In Coventry anymore?” He continued “Grassroots bands like Ramrods, Dub Jam Force, Army of Skanks, Dill from I, the alternative sounds crew and many more?” Really thought provoking stuff to which I can only think…………he has a point, doesn’t he?

Read more about The Ramrods in one of Pete Clemons's earlier articles here - 

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Elvis Costello – Blenheim Palace

Elvis Costello – Blenheim Palace

by Pete Clemons

On an overcast but, thankfully, rain free summers evening, set within the majestic surroundings of Blenheim Palace, Elvis Costello and his band The Imposters recently performed a diverse yet career defining selection of songs confirming his status as the main attraction of a series of events billed as the Nocturne Festival.

The stage they played upon had been constructed within the courtyard of this Oxfordshire country retreat. The positioning for the audience seating was arranged in such a way that you are surrounded, on three sides by the grandest of eighteenth century architecture, and on the fourth, to your left, by lush rolling fields, lakes and trees as far as the eye could see.

The event began with a solid performance’s firstly from Nick Lowe and then a band I admit to being unfamiliar with, The Waterboys. Given the nature of the gig and some of the songs played it passed my mind that Dave Edmunds may have been waiting in the wings for some kind of guest appearance. But my thoughts were, as suspected, fanciful and more in hope than expectation.

Soon after 9pm, and without any hesitancy, the band meandered onto the stage and went straight into ‘Wonder Woman’ recorded from his period with Allen Toussaint. This was followed by songs that included ‘Girls Talk’ and ‘Radio Radio’ and a reworked ‘Tears Before Bedtime’. Clearly, Elvis was very comfortable to be in the familiar company of Steve Nieve on a whole range of keyboards, Pete Thomas on drums and Davey Faragher on bass.

At one point, in between songs, Elvis mentioned that it had been very nice to be invited to perform in such a grand venue. He had had his toenails painted and had taken an afternoon nap in one of the four posters. He also pointed out that this would be the nearest he would ever get to playing at the palace. I assumed he meant the other one, 65 miles southeast.

The middle section of the gig was where Elvis played more stripped back and less frenetic tunes. Songs getting this treatment included ‘Watching the Detectives’, ‘You Shouldn’t Look at me That Way’, ‘(I Don’t Want to Go to) Chelsea’, ‘Every day I Write the Book’, ‘Pump it Up’ and the ever wonderful ‘Alison’ where he was joined by backing singers Kitten Kuroi and Briana Lee.

Not that I am guessing Elvis would have noticed, but during this time, the audience were also being treated to the most wonderful of sunsets where the sky was almost red in colour.

Gradually the band began to re-join Elvis on stage. Firstly Steve Nieve accompanied him on another re-worked classic ‘Accidents Will Happen’. By the time we had got into ‘Waiting for the End of the World’ and the finale of ‘(What’s So Funny ‘bout) Love, Peace and Understanding’, a song that Nick Lowe had also performed earlier, the full contingent had reappeared.

Overall the whole evening felt of one of contentment. There was not quite the fire, that had once been, when a lot of these songs were written. But then Elvis Costello is approaching his mid-60’s so why would there be. Let’s celebrate his achievements.

That said though, there was more than a certain irony, I guess, in hearing songs like, the ever thought provoking ‘Shipbuilding’ and ‘Oliver’s Army’, being played at this impressive venue which had once been frequented by Sir Winston Churchill.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Gary Numan

Gary Numan
by Pete Clemons

Now 60 years old it is good to see Gary Numan back in vogue again. An appearance on the recent ‘for one night only’ remake of the Old Grey Whistle Test drew in a surprising number of positive comments. This up lifting feedback led to a late decision to see him recently at the Warwick Arts Centre which was in support of his latest album ‘Savage’.

One of Gary’s first bands, Tubeway Army, came together during 1977. They signed to the Beggars Banquet label and during 1978 released the singles ‘That’s Too Bad’ and ‘Bombers’. I remember buying these singles because, and it seems strange now I guess, but the attraction was that I noticed on the sleeves that the main man, who had bleached white hair, was called Valerian. Valerian, of course, turned out to be Gary.

Tubeway Army’s debut album was released during November 1978. It came at a time when the initial furore of punk was quietening down. And Gary Numan, apparently, had been a punk rocker and a bit of a loner. However, reading interviews, it turned out that he had not felt comfortable with the punk thing. Also, it seemed he never got caught up in all the drinking and smoking that a lot of us blindly did back then. Gary claims that deep down he was at odds with punk as he didn’t really speak for the people as genre expected. He just wanted to make music.

Gary was though open to musical ideas and it was whilst in the studio that Gary was introduced to a Minimoog keyboard. And this, in turn, gave Gary a realisation as to the power and the depth of sound that was available while in control of such an instrument.

A second album ‘Replicas’, a concept album based around songs about human like androids, was released during April 1979. It was radically different to his previous releases. The music world then exploded on 24 May 1979 when Gary Numan appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, onto the TV screens via Top of the Pops with his band Tubeway Army performing ‘Are Friends Electric’. Here was a guy wearing Max Factor 28 foundation along with eyeliner and creating this huge stir.

It was a sensational look and sound that quickly grabbed the nation’s attention. Comparable, in a way, to which David Bowie had several years earlier. And it was after that Top of the Pops appearance that things escalated at great speed. Both the single ‘Are Friends Electric’ and album ‘Replicas’ hit number one in their respective charts. Gary’s visions were well ahead of their time.

Despite Gary Numan being a member of the Musician Union (you had to be one to appear on TotP) they, as ludicrous as it now seems, tried to ban him and his synthesisers from appearing. There was definitely envy and fear towards the form of electronic music Gary was now pioneering and subsequent vitriol towards him possibly curtailed his career.

By the time of the next single ‘Cars’ the Tubeway Army name had disappeared, and so had Gary’s white hair. It was now jet black. Subsequent record releases were credited to Gary’s name only, as did his next album ‘The Pleasure Principle’, released during September 1979. Additionally, by the time of ‘The Pleasure Principle’ it was not only the band’s that had been removed. There was no sign of any guitars. 

‘Cars’ came about, it seems, after an incident in London where Gary felt threatened and locked himself in his car to avoid a beating. 10 million sales of that particular song followed.

A sold out tour ‘The Touring Principle’ called into Coventry Theatre on 23rd September 1979. For this he was joined by special guest Billy Currie of Ultravox on polymoog, violin and electric piano amongst other instruments. Due to the nature of the set however, and the inclusion of some Tubeway Army songs, guitars were present on stage. I do remember that a good few punks turned up that night. I am not sure if they had done their homework on Gary and the fact he had changed his style. But there was a definite hostility in the air. And I do seem to recall some minor tensions amongst the attendees.

It wasn’t as though Gary Numan had invented electronic music. He definitely did not. But he certainly brought it to a wider audience. U.K. based bands like Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (who supported Gary at the Coventry Theatre), The Human League, Ultravox and others before them were all playing electronic music, long before Gary, that had been inspired by the German music scene that sprang up in the late 1960s.

But what Tubeway Army had done was appear to slip in on the blind side of a lot of the music listening public. Plus Gary became a pin up boy for the genre. John Foxx who, at the time of ‘Replicas’ release was still a member of Ultravox, described Numan’s brand of electronic music, at that time, as ‘perfect’.

After the success of Gary Numan, and I am not saying that it was a result of it, bands such as Human League and Ultravox began to reinvent themselves as the music decade of the 1980s began. Looking back now, what Gary brought was a game changer and I now kind of realise what a turning point that ‘Pleasure Principle’ tour had been and how hugely lucky I was to see that gig at Coventry Theatre.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

You Can Sometimes Get What You Want - Review of the Rolling Stones and Specials Concert by Pete Chambers

MUSIC MATTERS: You can sometimes get what you want.

Review and Photos by Pete Chambers BEM

You can sometimes get what you want.

You wait for a iconic band and two come along together.

Well that was the scenario last Saturday when Coventry welcomed not just the Rolling Stones, but our very own Specials.

The Specials, never fail to excite, though being the warm up to ‘The greatest rock n roll band In the world’ is no easy feat, especially in such a cavernous space. However this was our 2-Tone band in our 2-Tone city. Of course they got a huge reception, and you can bet Gangster, Rudy, The Man at C&A and the Monkey Man all worked for the rat race and did the dog at the Nite Klub.

Then came The Stones. It seemed like most of Coventry had turned out, but what a night, what a spectacle.

Mick had obviously took a crash course in Coventry history, and his comments about Jimmy Hill, pie and a pint, The Sky Blues, The Matrix all hit the mark.

They may be a massive band headed up by a knight, but they are still in touch with their audiences. I admit I was whooping at all the Coventry references, especially the City of Culture 2021 ones, oh and “The jewel in the West Midlands”.

They will always be expected to play ‘The Hits’ at every gig, but they do it like it’s the first time that song has had an airing.

‘Honky Tonk Women’, ‘Sympathy for the Devil’, ‘Midnight Rambler’, ‘Miss You’, ‘Satisfaction’, ‘Brown Sugar’ and of course the incredible ‘Gimme Shelter’ all sounded fresh as can be and played by a band that actually wanted to play them.

I was backstage very briefly, and there you can see what goes in to the staging of such a show and all the people involved.

I personally want to thank the Stones people for looking after myself and my wife so well. Some old rockers once sang “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”, well I wanted to see a band who were beyond iconic perform their greatest body of work.

I wanted to see a proud city embrace them, like only Cov kids can, I wanted to come away knowing I had witnessed some music history.

Well tonight, guess we all got what we wanted, and Coventry will probably never be quite the same, and us rockers will talk forever about this special night.

‘We’ll Live and Die in These Towns’

I love seminal moments, early stages of a project, when ideas you have been holding close to your chest suddenly become public, and there is no turning back.

One such seminal moment was the press launch at Coventry’s Empire for the forthcoming play ‘We’ll Live and Die in These Towns’.

The play is a gritty musical using songs from The Enemy’s first album (still the area’s only chart topping album). The play is written by the very talented Geoff Thompson with (Enemy lead singer) Tom Clarke as Musical Director and Artistic Direction by Hamish Glen.

It’s a project made in heaven and it’s inspiring to see Tom take on a brand new challenge like this, and I can’t wait to see who will be cast in the lead role.

Tom Clake said: “Part of the reason I’m so excited to be involved is because one of the main themes is overcoming anxiety, and that’s something I’ve gone through myself.”

Of course not too much was given away on the day, but we now know that our lead character is musician Argy and he is part of some clever subtext that refreshingly takes the story out of the expected rock n roll damnation scenario.

The sort of clever mind games you would expect from the calibre of Geoff Thompson. Watch this space as things unfold.

We’ll Live & Die in These Towns runs at the Belgrade Theatre September 29 – October 30. Look out for ticket details coming soon!

The Specials Do the Dog - Ricoh - Coventry 2018

The Rolling Stones at the Ricoh