Thursday, 27 January 2011

The UFK City Rollers

Poco Loco – Chatham
21 January 2011

ARTISTS (in below)


Poco Loco – Chatham
21 January 2011

I was looking forward to this event on the one hand, with great excitement and on the other, with some trepidation.

Some great artists and a promise of a fun evening in store, but also tinged with sadness on account of the recent passing of my good friend Andy Fraser’s (of UFK) wife Rio, who was indeed a good friend of mine too.

Tonight was not going to be some sombre wake, where everyone would look at the floor while tales of Rio’s deeds were retold in quiet tones. It was meant to be business as usual as a tribute to her and how indeed I am sure she would have wanted it.

Rio attended and recorded for posterity on her trusty camcorder many gigs in and around Medway and Kent in general and I must admit, I did miss her presence, good company and words of wisdom.

So with all this in mind, a bit of a review of the evening’s entertainment.

“Andy White” kicked off as usual, with his engrossing batch of covers and a smattering of original stuff. I love Andy’s style and musicianship, he always makes the songs interesting and has such a vast collection of songs memorized, and he always manages to surprise, by pulling out a unusual song to cover or a well known standard to sing along to.
Andy is always consistently so good and entertaining, I always enjoy his performances, tonight was no different.

“Reavsey” (Me). Seems strange reviewing myself, but here goes. Took me about 2 and half songs to get going, probably a combination of nerves and not hearing the vocals too well. Once I upped the volume on the vox, which also seemed to fix the nerves, I think I did ok. (editors's note....Reavsey did majestically and brought a few tears to the proceedings with his song for Rio)

I had written a song for Rio after she passed away and wanted to play it tonight. I have had a little of my own personal tragedy recently, and with that and the reality of Rio passing, singing a song about her and with my own personal situation, was not going to be easy. I thought about Andy Fraser, Rio’s husband, and how strong he had been and still was, and how my problems probably pale into insignificance when compared to losing one’s wife and my predicament seemed a whole lot easier. I don’t know what it sounded like to the people watching, but I was happy with it overall. I managed to get through the song “Wild Child” which I wrote for Rio without crumbling, receiving some nice comments from Andy after, which made my night.

“Dave Read”. I liked Dave’s stuff a lot and anyone even slightly familiar with the Medway music scene will know of Dave via that great band “The Claim”. A consummate performer, Dave effortlessly glided through his set, or so it seemed, even covering “Just like Oliver Reed” by the Dentists, whose guitarist Bob Collins sat about 6 feet away from him. A brave move from Dave...but he pulled it all off brilliantly.

“Twydall Tea”. A friend of the UFK family...a gem...straight out of the UFK Dollshouse. Like a home counties John Cooper Clark, his observational poetry was excellent. Loved his style and delivery and the content, as far as I am concerned, was as good as anything I have ever heard, very clever stuff. The material contained great depth, wry, cutting and very very funny. I sort of guessed at the Midget poem’s content before it happened; I was hoping he would go there, and he did, bloody marvellous!

“Tony Wilkinson”. A very short set by Tony,who has been on the local scene with The Bulletproof Detectives and The Crashtones, and who also played in a 90's incarnation of Andy's 80's band...Death In Venice. I really enjoyed the songs. Reminded me of The Jam a little on the first song, nice story based material and a good solid performance, would have been nice to hear more from Tony....who's guitar work also features on UFK's 2004 album ''

“Bob Collins”. An impromptu short performance by Bob, who was very entertaining. Covers tonight for Bob, mainly ELO songs plus a great version of Joe Jackson's “Is she really going out with him”. I think it is fair to say that Bob was a little worse for wear, and at one point said something like “I don’t remember the words to this song, but that doesn’t matter”. He did remember the words and it was an interesting little set, which I enjoyed!

“Gavin Alexander/Rachel”. Gavin is a great performer who can do catchy own penned numbers along with covers. Very strong vocally and a great musician, fine performance tonight, joined by Rachel after his solo slot, who energetically covered some modern standards. Rachel was joined at one point by Andy White to accompany her on guitar.

“UFK”. UFK are Andy Fraser and Nautical Nick Hughes. I think I am right in saying that this is the first proper UFK gig since Rio...Andy’s wife... passed away. Tonight’s performance was a tribute to her.

Andy bedecked in UFK Tee shirt and Tartan Scarf, an accessory added in honour of Rio's love of Tartan. UFK were renaming themselves for one night only, “The UFK City Rollers”.
Nick was dressed in the manner of a Canadian logger complete with hat and checked shirt, which may have been to reflect the tartan theme of the evening, or maybe due to the fact that he has always wanted to be a lumberjack, but he’s ok.

UFK launched into the leviathan of a song called “Made in Russia”. This is a big song, with a exceptionally catchy refrain at the end.

Another UFK Staple “”, I love to see a crowd who haven’t seen UFK before when they suddenly realise what Andy is singing about, the lyrics are just brilliant and have people falling about laughing...and tonight was no exception. Not just people new to UFK of course, but part of the attraction of UFK is the lyrical content and its masterful delivery by Mr Fraser.

A very funny moment occurred during this song, when Andy fell to the ground in mock shock, whilst being confronted lyrically, by a photograph sent to him by a lonely heart. “Ughhh, pass the sick bucket”. Hilarious!

“To Whom It May Concern” a particular favourite of mine well performed also and Nick on guitars was excellent, improvising at every opportunity, with more pent up energy than a recently split atom.

“Underground worker” followed. Some people danced, some sang along, some just laughed.

“Happy Xmas”. Andy, aided by the mass of cards he nearly always uses to illustrate a song , proceeded to recount tales of all of our Christmases in a very charming manner. Again it’s the words that grab you, very evocative, bringing back memories long forgotten with a nice tune to accompany them.

“Life in My Town” the synergy between Nick and Andy is amazing, like two Weebles they wobble and dart across the stage avoiding each other by split second timing, telepathy or sheer luck. Whatever it is, they don’t fall down. Comic asides and false stops abound.

“People”. Another UFK favourite of mine, a great sing along track, wry, perceptive lyrics and well performed. Some nice banter with the audience during this and other songs.

“The Seventies”. A marathon of a song about....yes you guessed it...
A glove Puppet of Sooty was produced by Andy F and subsequently thrown to the floor and stamped upon; cries of “NO!” went up from the audience. Cooper may have chicken necks to bite, Ozzy will forever be known for chewing off a bat's head, but Fraser knows how to really hit the psyche, by destroying the childhood favourite of many a person. Maybe this had a deeper symbolic meaning and was a figurative sign of the ending of innocence which summed up the seventies for many? Or maybe it was just a cheap gimmick to get a laugh...You decide ;o)

The Seventies, is a very wordy song, that, like many UFK songs, gains and loses versus at every performance. Andy...played on as usual... illustrating the lyrics with his colourful cards, soon discarded in what looked like a small mountain of colour, piled up along with all the others from previous songs, stage left.

“Everybody's telling me to go to bed” was met with the audience response “Go to bed!”

Tonight was a lovely evening and I enjoyed it very much. Some great performances and a good laugh, just how Rio would have liked it. Well done to Andy for doing this gig, it cannot have been easy, but UFK did great, as did everyone.

Rio wherever you are, no one who knew you will ever forget you.

The Poco Loco is a great venue which I really like and they are great hosts. The work in progress for what will be the new stage area is a great development and I look forward to going back there again in the near future.