Arriving early at The Borderline, just off Charing Cross Road in London's West End, it was good to see a few familar Quo faces waiting for the club to open. A bargain 5 pound entry fee paid, we headed into the underground bar of the club to find the members of Little Egypt already mixing and having a drink. While chatting to Nick Rossi, his dad (that's Francis!) arrived with his wife to see Egypt in action. Described by Time Out magazine as "Euro Rock", we had to wait a while for Little Egypt to take the stage as last-minute stand-in support band "Rooster" did their stuff. Fairly typical Brit-pop based fodder from them but an interesting twist was added in the form of a violin player and they received ripples of applause from the swelling crowd after their 20 minute set. The more senior member of the Rossi family looked remarkably unmoved by their performance!
Egypt took stage at just after 9.30 to a nicely filled Borderline, a crowd of about 50 in the small room. Their set was a mixture of "Eyes of the World" tracks, a few covers and some new material. The emphasis this time was on the new material and it sounded on the whole quite promising. Nick said they were currently working on 12 tracks, enough for the new album. The planned recording of some live numbers for the album failed to come to fruition thanks to equipment breakdown at the club, which was a shame. They played for just under 90 minutes with only a short break and an encore. While their performance was not as tight as I've seen them before, it was nevertheless an accomplished and very professional performance to a keen and receptive audience. Francis stayed for most of the gig, accompanied by our very own Mike Paxman. Speaking to Nick after the gig, he thought it went well and let's hope someone in that audience takes note of the potential of the band.
Nice to see another list member, Matt Fearn, come along (see http://members.tripod.com/~RetroNews/Music/egypt.htm for his review) and great to see the Rossis (Francis, Nick and Kieran) all together in such relaxed surroundings. Watch this space for further info on the planned mini-tour in March and the new album.Revisit the January 1998 event list
The large and rather stately surroundings of Ardingly College, a boarding school near Haywards Heath, provided the backdrop for a Jeff Rich drum masterclass evening on Monday 19th January. His venue was a large, old, high-roofed hall and he brought along a fine array of percussion instruments with which to fill the evening. Arriving early, I had a few words with Jeff who was surprised to see me there and took up a seat in the front row for a good view. By the time he got started at 7.40, the hall was nicely filled with 75-100 people, mainly 7-12 year olds with Mums and Dads tagging along and a few drummers too.
Jeff started off by giving a brief history of his own career, which was particularly interesting as he detailed his early career as well as how he became part of Quo. Did you know he played on jingles for Corn Flakes ads?! To follow, Jeff called on his "props", a fine array of drums from ancient times to the present. The development of the drum from simple hollowed-out logs in Africa to his latest Premier kit was described in an entertaining and fascinating way. He involved the youngsters by letting them play some of these bizarre instruments too, which was great. The different kinds of drum also displayed Jeff's versatility, from playing with his hands alone to playing a drum used in the bush telegraph, amazing sounds. A short session on basic drum techniques also showed Jeff's true potential, which maybe isn't seen in Quo.
Jeff's green Premier/Paiste kit came under scrutiny next, with him describing each drum of the kit and then each type of cymbal. But the only way to really get a feel for all this theory and exposition was for a Jeff Rich drum solo, completely ad-libbed and truly amazing. Sitting only a matter of a few feet from his kit, I got the full force and impact of his efforts. Breathtaking.
To get everyone involved, Jeff concluded with a big percussion session with himself on drums and everyone else with one of an array of instruments, from triangles to tambourines. It was wonderful to see all the youngsters getting involved and having so much fun. According to Jeff, drumming is all about "FAT" - Fitness, Attitude and Timekeeping, but also about fun too.
A short question and answer session followed in which Jeff attempted to answer a diverse range of questions (apart from the one asking him how much he earned!). Did you know, for example, that since Quo have been using in-ear monitors, Jeff now has "thumpers" in his drum stool so he can "feel" his bass just like when he had a big monitor behind him? Fascinating.
A very enjoyable 90-minute presentation by Jeff, thoroughly enjoyable and, for me at least, informative. Also incredible to see Jeff play at such close quarters and to really feel his power in a way which a Quo concert cannot convey.
Speaking to Jeff afterwards, he wasn't giving much away about the new album except to say it was stuff like Quo used to do, which sounds promising. A long queue of keen young autograph hunters later, time for a quick photo before heading off home after a great night out - got to be a bargain at 3 quid !!Revisit the January 1998 event list
This review comes courtesy of Matthew Bradshaw (see his excellent collector-oriented web site at http://www.bradmj.demon.co.uk).
I got to the Half Moon in Putney at around 9:00 with my brother (another Quo fan). We paid £6 each on the door and the four piece band came onstage just before 9:30. The look of the band was obviously based around how Quo looked circa 1980, with a non-ponytailed "Francis", a blue demin-shirted "Rick" and a moustache-less "Alan". The drummer we were told was new (his first gig with Piledriver) and looked nothing like John Coghlan! Guitars were correct too, green and white telecasters for most of the set. Even the amps were Marshall ones.
Still, you don't really want to know what they looked like, do you - what about the sound? Well, instrumentally it was pretty damn good - almost spot on in fact. Vocally, it didn't really sound like Francis or Rick ("Alan" didn't take lead vocals), but were perfectly acceptable nevertheless.
The set consisted of exclusively pre-1980 Quo material and probably contained songs which many would love to hear the real Quo do today. Songs like Mystery Song (full version), Rain, Big Fat Mama, Don't Waste My Time, Mean Girl (full), Bye Bye Johnny etc, as well as "classics" like Whatever You Want, Roll Over, Lay Down and Rockin' All over the World. The band played for about an hour and 25 minutes in front of a reasonable crowd of just over 100 and were well received.
As a postscript, we were able to have a chat with the "Rick" from the band afterwards. Many people emailed me to say that "Piledriver" originated from Germany. If so then this is NOT the same group (there must be 2!). The lads all come from Kent, England and play quite regualarly in Sidcup (look in Time Out for details). They have never played Germany, nor do they have a CD out at present. All the guys in the band are obviously Quo fans although a couple don't go every tour as the prefer the older stuff (surprise, surprise). The new drummer was described as a "Quo nut".
Finally if you get the chance to see them then go - you'll enjoy it!Revisit the January 1998 event list