There was this new lad who turned up at a place I used to work. He’d got a job on the shop floor like the rest of us, which was unusual cos most new employees started off in the warehouse and would be promoted to the shop floor after he’d served his time and if he was any good. None of us liked him; he was cock sure of himself and we didn’t like the fact that he was earning the same money as us when he was still wet behind the ears.

‘How come he can walk into this job, when we had to slog it in the back there to get here today?’ We’d cry.
The same lad went onto to become an area manager for the same company within a very short space of time. We still didn’t like him, but it was more through envy than anything else.

Sound familiar?

It should do, well the first part will because that’s what’s happened with Der Bomber since they swaggered onto the scene having first rehearsed five months ago. There was uproar, ‘How come they get to play Pigstock and we don’t? We’ve been around for years and they’ve been around for five minutes.’ It was me who got them on at Pigstock. Well its not entirely true, I saw them last month, liked what I saw, suggested to the band that if they could get a load of gigs under their belts that I’d recommend them to the Pigstock organisers and Der Bomber did the rest. They went to Denbigh and played the warm up nights, made new friends in a town where outsiders are frowned upon. Der Bomber are the band everyone is talking about and those who hate them are playing right into their hands. It doesn’t matter what you say about them, the very fact you’re talking about them pays dividends, it gets people interested, it gets radio sessions and festival slots, because mark my words Der Bomber will be headline material next year if they keep this up.

I usually get one Pigstock choice a year. In the past I’ve sent them Pocket Venus and Gintis and would’ve sent someone else this year had this bunch of cocky little twats not turned up at Bar Blu one night. Let’s be fair, if I was left to organise the Pigstock line up (now there’s a thought!) it would be twelve hours of all those I hold true to my heart, and a good indication will be what you’ll see on the forthcoming link2wales compilation CD – but that’s another story.

Tonight I stumbled upon Hendre Hall in Tal-y-Bont. It’s always a tricky one to pull off because of the location – like my house, it’s in the middle of fucking nowhere! My sister (Jane Crud) has been to those drug crazed dance weekends they held at Hendre and camped on the grounds with 500 other people. I’ve been here and there’s been 250 present and I’ve been here when 25 have shown up. Today was somewhere between the two. When the announcement went up about this festival, all dayer, whatever, and I saw the names Lantern and Der Bomber on the same bill, I thought they had kissed and made up after going through the message board compulsory spat that everyone does with Lantern (see above about playing Pigstock). We got there to see the very talented but under-worked Gary Hubble strum his funky stuff, with a good ending to be joined by a banjo waxing friend and an impromtu Jamie Cardno on harmonica (who plied me with Rum afterwards). Hubble, a one time member of Alien Matter is now back rehearsing with the band after they decided to try and resurrect the brillance they once shared.

Then it was the pretentious Der Bomber who played 25 minutes of… well, read my message board… The band themselves said, ‘Our set was fucking kryptonite and its a shame the organisers got so heavy handed with us because you can’t buy quality’

And they were right about the kryptonite bit so far as effort is concerned, the set is gelling nicely and they’ll look back and cringe at their early gigs so far as the playing is concerned as they’re still filling their nappies. That’s not a disappraisal as Der Bomber are leagues ahead of a lot of bands already, but you know and they know that the more times they play, the tighter and harder they’re gonna be, and those seven songs will probably not make it into their set in times to come. As for the the rigmarole that ensued, I had to cadge a lift home by then, but there’s no reason to disbelieve the complaints and I think its all fucking ace!

I love band rivalry, its great to have a cat to throw at the pigeons, a bull for the china shop or a loose cannon to ignite. The scene needs a band like Der Bomber to ruffle a few feathers and if I was on stage and they were taking the piss out of me it would make me play harder – let the football do the talking, as they’d say when someone was trying to kick you off the park. I certainly wouldn’t be crying the next day about it, and yes, someone did stick their neck out and all the plaudits should go to them for putting on such a great event and long may they continue. But if someone wants to step out of line and have a few pot shots at the other bands then so fucking what? This isn’t Christian Aid week is it?

This of course has played right into Der Bomber’s hands – the message board has been crammed with their detractors and the bulk of this review has been centred around them.

So you kinda feel for the other bands, like Sona who followed them without a bassist (who’d gone AWOL), but still put on a good enough set to keep those watching interested (was that a 15 year old Bono on drums?).

And then Kobe who lost their vocalist Guy last year to Army of Crows. So they shared the singing between themselves and did a pretty good job at it. Yes, in Guy, they had a perfect and charismatic frontman and the set does suffer because of the lack of him. But lets not dismiss the superlative guitar skills that John just spits out. I remember seeing Kobe a couple of years back and thinking of changing my brand of tea as they just weren’t my cup, but since last year they are PG Tip pyramids and I fully recommend you have a sip!

With my lift calling I made my excuses and left having sexually assaulted some hick in the bogs on the way out of the Royal Welsh Show last week and threatened him with a no lube fisting unless he reviewed the second half of tonight’s event. He took the fisting anyway and did the review – not sure if he understood exactly what was going on but this is what he had to say…

Now then. I meet Neil at the local chapter meeting of the Denbighshire not-so-young Farmers Group a couple of weeks ago and having discovered a mutual love of music (mainly country for me with an occasional airing of 70’s prog) I had agreed at his insistence to have an evening out at this “night of rock”. Well, the last time I was at Hendre Hall was in about 1984, when a medieaval banquet affair turned ugly (started ugly to be honest) when we found New Zealand lamb on the barbeque, but that’s another story.

Anyway, when I arrived I asked after Neil only to be told he’d already left, in the company of an attractive blonde. I found this very hard to believe but there was a message asking me to write to him about the later bands, which I was glad to do, as I am often writing into various newspapers with amusing anecdotes of country life up on the Denbigh Moors. Those mushroom pickers, what characters.

There was a lot of setting up going on but I was a bit confused when a young lad called Duncan started playing by himself. I half expected other musicians to join him but it became evident he’d replaced them with some electronics and carpentry robotic affair that was beyond my comprehension. Now I’m used to solo musicians in the sense a folk bloke in the local but maybe this was the 20th century version of the same. He certainly made a fair racket, though he craftily would put more tuneful bits in the middle to keep you guessing. I didn’t know if I was coming or going at the end and I think the elegant compere of the evening summed it up nicely in one word. Mindnumbing.

We like a good flynching up in the backwoods so I thought the next combo would be on the right lines. They certainly were the rock as I understood it. Proper drums hit hard, a guitarist with “guitar hero” on his shirt, (no place for false modesty in rock), a bass guitar player with a good haircut and a star on the keyboards. I’m sure I’d seen him in a movie at some late night do but couldn’t quite place him from this angle. His true prog style made the band for me, they should try giving him a bit more to do. Was pleasantly surprised to hear a song I knew from the lovely Tiffany “ I think we’re alone now”, which brought back special memories, although there was a bit in the middle of this version when it all went a bit dark, and would certainly have put me off that night in the back seat of the Morris Minor

Lantern were certainly the most popular with the teeny-boppers here. Fresh faced young lads, they were also quite lively and loud. They seemed to have an awful lot of guitars between them, I think it’s a bit selfish when there might be someone somewhere going without. The singer could hold a tune, but kept getting really angry for some reason, I was worried he was shouting at me. Mind you, he was a bit poorly, someone should have borrowed him a hanky. They were also getting abuse from some witty types in the crowd, must have been scousers. This didn’t deter them though from getting very rocky, finishing first with a cover of a “rage again the machine” song (I was going to see them at Buckley Tivoli nightclub once, but they cancelled in favour of superstardom) and then some jazzy surf-rock that suited the summer. Apart from the rain.

It was getting very late now and my thoughts were straying to squeezing a teat in the morning but I’d been tasked with reporting the events by my friend so grimly clung on. The last band must have been one of these drum and bass acts that I’ve heard about, as they did have just drums and a bass. I don’t know why they got rid of a perfectly good drum-kit and replaced it with some strange contraption that looked like it had been constructed out of bike parts and my old threshing machine, but there you go, the old ways just aren’t enough for these youngsters. Speaking of threshing the bass guitar player would be a liability around any agricultural machinery with his long though very well kept hair. There were some strange rumblings that had me worried but turned out to be the start of their collection of songs, which did feature a lot more disturbing sounds. The two singers, one a tall chap who needs a bit more sunshine (he can work out in the fields at mine) and a young flame haired lass (clad in some shocking get-up a bit like I saw in a magazine I found in a hedge once) were very good duetting together but again, seemed extremely cross about things, to the point of blaspheming which once may have been to much for me, but I haven’t been to chapel since February so I have to accept others faults as well. I quite liked a ballad they played third song in, but really this was soon buried under waves of noise and aggression.

An eye-opener for sure, if this is what rock is today I shall have to spend more time with my friend Neil to understand what the hell is going on, boy.