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Graham Day And The Forefathers, The Georgian Theatre, Stockton-on-Tees

  • Published in Live


It only feels like five minutes since I was at the The Senior Service single launch gig in London. What a night that was, you can read about that here. Graham Day and Wolf Howard are back again, this time with accomplice and bassist Allan Crockford. I digress; this is a different town, different venue, and indeed a different band.

As I get myself ready for a pre-gig tipple, a pretty little bird messaged me to say that support act, King Mojo, are sounding fab at the sound check, so I was looking forward to seeing what they had to offer having not been acquainted with them previously.

Also having never visited Stockton-on-Tees I wasn't sure what to expect, but it's a fair sized venue; very busy, and as expected the show has pretty much sold out. The crowd is predictably full of excitable over 30's (possibly older, but looking youthful), with a strong mod presence.  

King Mojo I'm guessing, being a local Middlesbrough band, have lots of family and friends in the audience spurring them on. This retro four piece have charisma; with no small help from a Roland VK-7 which is switched on to Hammond mode. They belt out a souped-up cover of The Small Faces 'Get Yourself Together', and continue their set with '60s British psych rock sounds and mod power pop; not forgetting a few mellow instrumentals to boot. One cannot help but draw comparisons to the headliners previous incarnations; they even finish their set (and encore) with a cover of The Primemovers' 'Crystalline' (with the blessing of the band I'm reliably informed), which was a brave and touching gesture, and luckily for them, it paid off.

There's a queue out of the door for the bar, and if you're lucky you might get a refill before the main act. The prices of drinks here are ridiculously cheap compared to the prices down south, as of course this is The Forefathers first gig up north. A fellow gig-goer, who like me has travelled from further afield, commented on the fact that it's too expensive to get drunk in venues like the Half Moon.  

There's a warm and welcoming atmosphere as The Forefathers literally leap into action with 'Good Things'; obviously glad to be here, and ready to entertain. It's full steam ahead into what seems like much more Solarflares numbers than I've heard them play previously (always delighted with that!) particularly the electrifying 'Open Your Eyes' which is like a breath of fresh air, and sounds better every time I hear it.

With the customary shouts for Prisoners songs, the band were in obliging mood and performed old favourites such as 'Be On Your Way' 'Love Me Lies' and 'Reaching My Head', and encouraged the crowd to sing along. Crockford, always the one with the cheeky banter, said something along the lines of "this next one is a real killer" possibly referring to the velocity at which they had all been performing up until that point; and with no sarcasm intended (I'm sure) they launch into 'I Am The Fisherman'. There's a couple of Gaolers numbers in there too; the rousing 'Sitar Spangled Banner' is always good value, and executed by Day with the usual scraping of the guitar neck on the monitors.

A guy behind me has been shouting for 'Hush' all night, and at the very end his wish is granted as the band return to the stage for a second encore with 'I Drink The Ocean' which blends seamlessly into 'Hush'. I wish I could have bottled that moment for him.

Rewinding slightly, the last time I saw The Forefathers play was at the Cosmic Trip Festival in Bourges, France in May 2015. It was most unfortunate that they, and other bands, such as The Baron Four, were playing on the main stage. It was far too big, the sound was all wrong, and there was little to no atmosphere… it was a shame. We knew it, they knew it; so it's great to see them tonight, back on form, and more importantly, enjoying themselves.

I can only echo what I've said before. That The Forefathers are even more dynamic now, and gave a relentless and gratifying performance. Proving once again that they are a band at the top of their game. Should there be any doubt about this; check out the photos, the camera doesn't lie... 

The Forefathers will be appearing at Le Beat Bespoke on Thursday 24th March details for that can be found here, and the the Medway Legends Weekender in San Sebastian, Spain details of which are here. The Senior Service will be launching their debut LP The Girl In The Glass Case on 18th June at The Lexington in London, details to follow.

Photographs courtesy of PJFImages.


Graham Day & The Forefathers, 229 Great Portland Street, London

  • Published in Live


I've been an avid follower of Graham Day's music for more years that I care to remember. How time flies! But I haven't seen Graham Day, Allan Crockford and Wolf Howard play together since the formation of the Forefathers last year. The last time was as The Solarflares in the early '00s. I figured it was time to put that right, and when I was given the opportunity to review this gig I grabbed it with both hands, and booked my flight.

I arrive at the 229 venue on Great Portland St. around 9pm, full of excitement. There is a distinct buzz and general good vibe in the air. The Fallen Leaves are halfway through their set already, nicely warming up the crowd - and is it just me or is the stage really high? There's a good crowd here. Predominantly male and middle aged mostly dressed in '60s attire - more about that later; and I'm pleased when I see some fellow females dancing down at the front.   

Lest we forget that tonight's gig also marks the band's official album launch. Good Things is a much aniticipated compilation of re-recordings which spans the careers of The Prisoners, The Prime Movers (first album), the painfully underrated (and my favourite) Solarflares, with a few more recent Gaolers numbers thrown in there for good measure.

Once the Leaves have wrapped up their set (with a nice cup of tea - you had to be there!), there is a short break for DJ Dave Edwards to spin a few '60s British tunes, leading us nicely onto the main attraction.

The Forefathers open, appropriately, with the no nonsense 'Good Things'. Then onto a relentless and groovy Solarflares number 'You Want Blood' - filled with Day’s trademark screams - "hold onto to the seat of your pants" I tell myself. The excitement of the crowd is palpable, and they’ve only been on stage for 8 minutes! They carry on with a couple more Solarflares numbers (hooray!), until Prisoner's classic - 'Be On Your Way' with its unmistakable 'Midnight To Six' on speed intro. The crowd erupts at this point - I have the feeling that a lot people here have been devoted fans of The Prisoners / Day since the early '80s, and I'm not kidding when I say that I'm feeling the love in the room. I look around, and I can't honestly see anyone that isn't singing along. 'Open Your Eyes', (a personal favourite from The Solarflares era) is next, and Day comments afterwards that B sides are always better than A sides. We, the crowd, concur; but it has to be said the A side 'Reflections' is also a killer.

'Sitar Spangled Banner' goes down a storm, Day and Crockford both man-handling their guitars at this point, throwing them this way and that. Day's rubbing his guitar all over the speakers. I watch his foot as it skillfully works the various effects pedals - wah-wah and fuzztone, you are truly spoiling us.   

It is however The Prisoners songs that really move the crowd this evening. They play the poppy and melodic 'I Am The Fisherman', but things really reach an epiphany with a passionate rendition of 'Coming Home'. The crowd is going bonkers at this point, in a good way. I look around and see a wave of buttoned-down males surging forward, hugging each other and singing their hearts out. Crockford says at one point "let's see you bust some moves over your beer guts!" a playful and affectionate dig at the said middle-aged crowd, followed by "oh alright, just your beer guts then"! Cheeky monkey.

This is where it gets a bit sketchy; I was too busy dancing around at this point and lost all interest in writing the tracks down on my trusty notepad.  

The Forefathers return to do two final numbers; fabulous Barry Grey-esque instrumental 'Lunar Girl', and finishing aptly with a final Prisoners song 'Reaching My Head'. Exit stage left. A couple of guys in the crowd shout out "Nags Head!", I can only presume that they are referring to the pub in Rochester, and I'm only aware of this because I have recently read the excellent The Kids Are All Square - A History Of Medway Punk by Ian Snowball & Bob Collins (but that's another review).

With the combination of Day, Crockford and Howard there appears to be no pretence, no frills, no ego, no act. They are just doing what they do, and it's so true and pure - triple distilled if you like. They are surely at their peak, sounding better and stronger than ever. Day recently said in an interview that writing lyrics was hard work, but look at the results. I'm hoping, I'm sure like the rest of the crowd, that there will be more to come in the way of new releases, perhaps new material? The Forefathers are so unified in what they do, they are a wall of sound that could knock you off your feet, not to mention blow your mind.  

Good Things is available from amazon & iTunes.

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