Thursday March 29th 11am
I'm off to watch the wonderful Tokyo Dragons playing at the 100 Club in Oxford Street in London. So having bought British Rail's Advanced Super Flexy Bumper Bargain Mega Saver (still more expensive than a penthouse apartment in Dubai!!!) I'm up and running. Despite reserving a seat, it's still very crowded and I have to fight off a bunch of student teachers on the piss, a left-wing demo heading for parliament (or the nearest pub in Westminster more likely) and a large extended family with what seems like 17 children and 20 grandparents in tow. I finally relax in my seat to enjoy the two hour journey from Wales to London. Well enjoy is a strong word but....I have my Ipod on and I am blissfully zoned out listening to Glyder, Grand Funk Railroad (Live), Neal Morse's new CD and Within Temptation's new one.
1-30pm- Arrive at London Paddington. Take the scenic route to my hotel. Accidently!!!!! Bah!!! Still the walk will do me good.
4-00pm -- Meet up with my friend Andrew Pritchard. He'll be taking photos of the Tokyo Dragons in Rehearsal and in concert tonight. Buy a beer each in the hotel bar for the price of small carribean island and then head off to oxford street.
5pm -- Enter the 100 Club. The main door is open and there is no one in the reception area. So we go in and head down the stairs and into the main room. I thought post 9/11 everyone in London was paranoid about security - but obviously not at famous old Jazz Clubs!! If we'd been renegade Country-music terrorists on a mission to wipe out rock - we'd have taken out most of the block before anyone had noticed we were there. Luckily we weren't Country-music terrorists !!! Thankfully they are a rare breed.
Once inside we're greeeted by the band. Mal Bruk (guitar) stops stringing his guitar and waves hello. The drummer, Phil Martini, breaks off from his sound-check to shout 'Hello Jeff. How's it going?" while Steve Lomax (singer and guitarist) also raises a hand and says hi. Steve and Phil are on stage going through the first sound-check. Bassist Mattias Stady is ambling around nearby. (See rehearsal and live shots of band above by Andrew)
The band run through their full sound check playing two new tracks Killing Everybody You Meet (which features some stunning harmonies) and Rambling Jack (which is marked by some excellent guitar work). The band look pleased and so they should be -- they are sounding on top form.
The 100 Club is a strange venue. The stage is to the left of the hall, which a dancefloor in the middle, including three large columns which obscure large parts of the stage. Just above the stage is a huge sign spelling out the numbers 100. The walls are painted a stark blood red. These walls are covered in photos of bands and musicians who've played the 100 club down the years.
There's a shot of the Rolling Stones on stage with Pete Townsend from February 1986. Alongside that is a blurry black and white shot of the Archie Crane River Jazz band from 1950. Whilst only 36 years apart, the photos look like they are from different centuries. The clean cut innocent looking Jazz combo seem a million miles away from the all-out rock and roll shots of The Stones. I'm joined by Phil Martini who is fascinated by another of the many pictures decorating the walls. This one shows a very very youthful looking Metallica from August 1984. Metallica played here!!! wow!
6pm -- Meet up with Andrews friend Brendan in the pub The Green Man just across the road from the 100 Club. Later we're joined by my friend David Silito, the BBC's arts correspondent for his sins. Tonight he's mastering the art of drinking. Something we all achieve with style.
8pm -- Back to the 100 club. The support act The Dirty Feel are on. These guys are fantastic. The crowd are won over by their infectious riffs. The threesome sound like early Grand Funk Railroad!! They rock. Check out their myspace page.
9-30pm. The Tokyo Dragons take to the stage. Its a very theatrical entrance with flashing lights and the song Blinded By The Light pumping out of the speakers.
They start with a new song On Your Marks before playing a crowd favourite from the first album, Get Em Off. Next up is another new song. This one really captivates the crowd. Its called Keeping the Wolf From The Door. As its followed by the mesmerising guitar work on Killing Everybody... it soon becomes apparant that the Dragons forthcoming second album is going to be something special.
On Your Marks
Get Em Off
Keeping The Wolf...
Killing Everybody You Meet
Come On Baby
If I Run...
Rock My Boat
Rocking The Stew
The band play two encores Teenage Screamers from their first album and On Fuel (which is a favourite of mine since i heard the band play it in Cardiff on The School Of Rock Tour with The Answer back in October 2005). The place is positively bouncing. After a very successful set, The Dragons join their fans for a few beers at the bar, sparing a few minutes for anyone who wants a chat or an autograph.
The new albums due out in May and should be a big success. If you like good old style 70's rock in the vein of Thin Lizzy, AC/DC or Motorhead, you'll love the Tokyo Dragons. Go out and by their first record if you don't have it and place you order for the new one!! It's gonna be a scream.
The Tokyo Dragons feature in my new book ROCK LEGENDS AT ROCKFIELD. It's out on sept 15th on University of Wales Press. It's available for pre-order now on any on the Amazon websites.