REAL GONE GOES OUT: The Replacements, Roundhouse, London 2/6/15

The Replacements broke up in 1991.  During their lifetime, they became one of the world’s greatest cult bands, gaining a legion of loyal fans, the actor Matt Dillon among them.  Following the split, bassist Tommy Stinson embarked on an interesting career, as frontman of his own bands Bash & Pop (whose sole album ‘Friday Night Is Killing Me’ an essential listen for ‘Mats devotees), and Perfect, maker of solo records and as a touring member of Soul Asylum.  Rather unbelievably, he’s also been a member of Guns N’ Roses – an odd move, certainly, but one Stinson has previously claimed pays well.  Guitarist/vocalist Paul Westerberg released a string of excellent solo recordings, some of a rather lo-fi persuasion, but always showing the songwriter’s gift for a lyric.  In a move that pretty much no fans ever expected, Westerberg and Stinson reunited in 2012 as The Replacements, played their own live shows and appeared at festivals across the US.

In 2015, the even more unexpected occurred when The ’Mats announced gigs in the UK.  For some fans this would be a great opportunity for revisiting their youth, but for many – and certainly for a huge part of the audience present at The Roundhouse on June 2nd – their first live experience of the band. A proper bucket list job.

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REAL GONE GOES OUT: Shawn Smith, Bush Hall, London 5/5/2015

In January 2014, Brad made their first ever live appearances in the UK. Twenty years after the release of their debut album ‘Shame’, you could say their visit was overdue.  Unsurprisingly, their appearances at medium-sized venues were a sell-out and their London show in particular was an amazing experience.  UK Fans finally got to hear tracks like ‘Buttercup’ and ‘Screen’ live, and the experience did not disappoint.  Given that response, it seemed possible that Brad may even return at some point, but in April 2015 something even more unusual occurred.   Their frontman, Mr. Shawn Smith, returned alone for a short run of one-man shows at a few very intimate venues, the run ending at London’s Bush Hall.

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REAL GONE GOES OUT: The New Pornographers – Shepherds Bush Empire, London 2/12/2014

On November 21st, London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire played host to arguably one of the best and most energetic gigs of 2014 when various forty-somethings said goodbye to their youths and goodbye to Carter USM at the first of their two farewell shows.  Barely a week and a half later, the atmosphere in the venue couldn’t be any further removed from that particular gig, when – on a particularly cold Tuesday night – a sparser crowd gather to see Canadian music collective The New Pornographers promoting their sixth release ‘Brill Bruisers’ with support from the relatively unknown Mini Mansions.

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REAL GONE GOES OUT: Levellers – Leas Cliff Hall, Folkestone 29/10/2014

levellers---smiling-sun-255In the summer of 2014, the Levellers issued a comprehensive greatest hits package, bringing together almost all of their single releases and promo videos in one place.  Following a few festival shows, the band’s full tour staged at the end of the year was to be a celebration those hits to date.  Tours often gain that certain something extra after a few shows, but right from this first night in a provincial theatre on the Kent coast, it’s clear from about three songs into their ninety minute set that Brighton’s favourite sons are on fine form.

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REAL GONE GOES OUT: Winger – Islington Academy, London 21/06/2014

Winger have had more than their share of knockers in the past.  In the early 90s they were blasted on an almost weekly basis by cartoon misfits Beavis & Butt-head; members of high profile rock bands weren’t any kinder with their childish jibes, while the music press were often too quick to write them off in the face of a changing musical tide.  Such things surely would have hurt, but it doesn’t change the fact that the first three Winger albums are top-notch melodic rock affairs – albums that have aged better than those of some of their peers. Nor does it change the fact that Winger were – and still are – a superb live act.

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