Archive for the 'Music' Category
Oh What A Lovely War With The Tenerife Swallows

In case it slipped your mind it’s 100 years since the First World War began, the Swallows Drama Group from Los Cristianos hasn’t forgotten. They staged two performances of the musical Oh What A Lovely War and after seeing the first night I can vouch that the message is as powerful as ever.

Decades before Pink Floyd The Wall and Blackadde Goes Fourth took their swipes at the absurdity of and tragic waste of young lives that dominated WW1, this musical hit the stage in 1963. I can remember seeing bits of the Richard Attenborough film version but that was such a long time ago. My Grandad used to tell me of his awful experiences  in the trenches and I always remember the sorrow in his voice.

It was a time of bizarre optimism as the war was depicted as some huge boys own adventure, a stiff upper lipped determination that all would work out well and even to think about the cost in human lives was almost treason. The contrast with the western front couldn’t have been more different and it’s this gulf in reality that the musical highlights. The cast did a grand job of mastering the old popular propaganda songs like Pack Up Your Troubles and Belgium Put the Kibosh On The Kaiser and the generals and leaders were shown as history portrays them, fools at best and guilty of sacrificing millions of young recruits to protect their privileged place in society.

The hall at the Los Cristianos cultural centre was packed with an audience of 80 plus and the stage was small and with little room for access but they kept up a good pace as the story moved from 1914 to 1918. The soldiers, many played by ladies, wore clown like costumes rather than uniforms to further show the farcical nature of the hell they were ordered into. Props were basic but the narrator’s recital of the cold stats of lives lost in each battle illustrated the points perfectly.

The illusion of happy tommies backed by a well drilled military machine under the sharpest tactical minds was gradually shattered as letters from the front told of poor planning, lack of equipment, and an almost blatant disregard for others lives from the commanders. This was when the songs changed in nature to parodies of upbeat contemporary tunes and rebellious cries for an end to the carnage. When This Bloody War Is Over and Keep The Home Fires Burning are rousing but tinged with sadness. The two hour show was a fitting tribute to the anniversary of WW1 and with proceeds going to Cancer Research Tenerife it also served a good cause. My compliments to the whole ensemble, coming from a generation that didn’t have conscription I can only think how fortunate I am.




Metal Mania At Goymar Fest in Guimar

A sultry Tenerife evening, the gentle lap of waves on the shore, a promenade kiosk for a cold Dorada, and loud, angry, ranting singers screaming against the world as guitars thrash, screech, and wail – aah you can’t beat a night at the Goymar Fest. Every type of music has its stage in Tenerife and for the fifth year Puertito de Guimar was the setting for 10 heavy metal and rock bands in a 12 hour kerrang feast of head banging and mosh pit bundles.

The General and I arrived as day turned into night, the approach roads were packed with parked cars and awesome dudes and dudess’s discussed the latest trends in body piercing as they took a breather from the action. What a shocker, after previously being a free event the organisers imposed a 3 euros entrance charge for the concreted outdoor sports court – but it included the first drink and a raffle ticket to possibly win a tattoo or an electric guitar. There are some nice posh modern dwellings in this bottom part of Guimar plus a large marina and a nautical club but they have got used to this friendly annual invasion. Uniformed security staff manned the entrance to the inner sanctum as we filed in and got our ticket and wrist band. First stop was one of the temporary bars to get our first drink, the barrels were warm and the Reina spluttered into plastic glasses with large foaming heads.

As we waited to be served I tried to work out which group was hammering out a little ditty with all the subtlety of a piledriver, I didn’t suceed but they were pretty good and one of their members was shinning up the scaffolding at the side of the stage like a dark brooding rock version of Spiderman. Drinks in hand we mingled just behind the main throng that was pressing down on the stage and chaarging at each other in a gleeful dance of darkness. The large crowd seemed to be younger this year, or am I getting older, I thought the bright green inflatable crocodiles tossed back and fore between the band and the audience didn’t fit the wild rock and roll image but noone seemed bothered so far play to them.

The bands were mainly from Tenerife, apart from 2 from Gran Canaria and one from Barcelona. Next up were The Slaughter Inc (above) their musical juggernaut of a performance really whipped the crowd up. Don’t ask me anything technical about the guitars, I only knew the black star shaped guitar looked pretty damm impressive to me. After the bands set finished there was a flurry of activity to change the stage instruments around, so to avoid another warm shaving mug of Reina we went outside to another kiosk near the beach walkway and ordered 2 cold cans of Dorada. It was very busy on the outside, quite a few tents were set up down on the sand and little groups of fans were enjoying their own parties along the beach, the music was loud enough to get them jumping at the distant lights of Gran Canaria so people weren’t missing out by taking the cooler sea air. A few tables had been put out beach side of the kiosk and a couple of local families sat there with young children enjoying drinks and snacks – much better than taking the kids for a McGrotburger and a sugar rush shake.

Back in the concert Pio band An Endless Path (above and top) took to the stage, probably the best of the bands we saw, their lead singer was as skinny as a yard of pump water but leapt around the stage like a mad thing as his guitar wielding friends added a thudding backing to his tirade of a delivery. Most of the bands were very hardcore, not so much of the punk influence from previous years, but down in the mosh pit heads were bowing in frantic reverance. Another noticeable difference was a marked increase in the number of female worshippers, rock chics were diving in the mix in front of the stage and giving as good as they got, on another trip outside a couple of tattooed young ladies were getting a bit of a clean up from the attending ambulance after a clash of heads. Several chaps were sporting small gas masks, the latest must have in metal circles I assume, black t-shirts displayed mainstream influences from Metallica to Anthrax, and as the whole concert was being videoed souvenir stalls were selling recordings of last years bash.

The last band we saw were familiar to us from previous Goymar Fests, Thrashtorno (above) have long been a fixture on the Tenerife circuit and have a large following, many of them had clearly been waiting for their slot on the bill. The bands seemed to be geting longer on stage as they worked their way up the pecking order, a couple of more beers and we were ready to leave as the clock headed for 1 am. Heading back to the car fans were spread all over the nearby area and all still in good friendly spirits. I should imagine early TF 1 motorway drivers would be slightly distracted by a stream of tired, sweaty rock fans heading up early next morning, it was good to see that this annual pilgrimage continues to thrive and cater for the less mainstream music fans on the island.


Schools Out For The Red Hot Chili Peppers In Los Cristianos

A few tourists stopped in their tracks when they heard the music of the Red Hot Chili Peppers wafting over the Los Cristianos promenade from the Plaza del Pescadora. They probably wondered who the mix of musicians were on stage but as there were no posters (more great non publicity) they were left in ignorance. The constantly rotating line up on the small stage came from the Candelaria school of modern music and this was their tribute concert to the American band.

As course work goes it can’t get much better than performing live and they certainly made sure that everyone got theirr moment in the spotlight, from young teens to the more mature teachers. Not only did the line up change after each number, several performers worked their way around the stage on vocals, drums, and guitar. But what of the music – it was a bit of an unsure start but once in their stride they relished their challenge. Tracks like Californication, Under The Bridge, and By The Way rubbed shoulders with covers like Stevie Wonders Higher Ground and a REM number thatt I vaguely recognised.

My personal musical ability barely stretches to a few basic tunes on a Rolf Harrris stylophone (ask your grandad) and a very short drum course at school because I had the hots for a young female student teacher with stunning bongos. You know your getting old when the drummers look younger and at this gig each song saw a younger and smaller drummer take up the sticks and peer over the symbols. At the other age of the scale one of the adults arrived to play saxaphone and strode onto the stage – sadly for him he tripped and smacked his knee on the makeshift wooden floor. A collective whince gripped the crowd but trying to look cool he hopped up and played his sax with all the composure he could muster, we noticed afterwards he was sat on a step with an ice pack on his leg – let’s hope none of his students found it amusing.

It was a pleasant evening, the latest of several unheralded performances in the Plaza del Pescadora, maybe they could have a regular slot of maybe every other Friday for a local band or group, then they could have a small information board showing the next event. Is that being too hopeful, well I do still believe in Father Christmas and the Loch Ness Monster.


Slumber Party In Santa Cruz

The crunch of the blades and the swish of the ice, it took me back to my days of supporting Ice Hockey but there wasn’t a hip check or a bench clearance in sight at Sleeping Beauty On Ice, just some skillfull dancing, dazzling costumes, and rampant music from Tchaikovsky. With the opening night performance of La Bella Durmiente to review for Tenerife Magazine I headed up to Santa Cruz Auditorium mid afternoon to pick up the tickets,the girls were coming up later.

It was a scorcher and feeling that jeans would be more in place for a night out than shorts, my little legs endured a warm time under wraps. Besides the stunning visual impact of the concert hall it’s a great setting on the sea front between the old Castillo de San Juan where Nelsons troops landed before being repelled, and the busy port of Santa Cruz. The cafe in the Auditorium opens from 9 am to 3 pm daily and an hour before any show and they fold back the doors so that people can spill out onto the steps and concourse wth their snacks and drinks.

Beyond the sea wall there is a Music Hall Of Fame painted on the rocks by a local grafiti artist. It crosses all barriers of nationality and era, Bono, Michael Jackson, Barbara Streisand and Elvis all looked up at the Auditorium wishing they were playing inside. I also spotted favourites like Kurt Kobain, Dave Gilmour, and Jimi Hendrix all sharing the serenity of a sunny Santa Cruz afternoon. Several manky thin cats were also prowling among the musicians (Cat Stevens maybe) fishermen were launching their lines, and a few blokes were even swimming in the less than clear looking Atlantic water.

Anyway with some time to kill I headed into the main shopping area of Santa Cruz to grab some food and check out the vibe, then one of my usual calls, the port. Only one cruise ship in but a new one on me, Costa Luminosa is from the same Itaalian stable as the ill fated Concordia and has the same big yellow funnel. This monster, built in 2009 is 450 metres long and carries 2,260 passengers, the capitaal has done very well out of cruise passengers this last year, sometimes five ships racked up at a time.

Going down to dock level I headed for a flash modern yacht that was gleaming in the by now 28 degree sunshine. This was Titan, a 78 metre long palace launched in May 2010, only 7 cabins but probably with show jumping facilities in each room, and a speed of 16 knots. The flag indicated the Bahamas, that was bourne out by the name Hamilton, capital of Bermuda, on the side, a later study told me it was in the top 50 luxury yachts in the World – wrap me up a dozen.

Finally it was showtime, so after meeting the girls at the bus station we went over to the Auditorium just in time to meet Imperial Ice Stars artisitic director Tony Mercer, a Mancunian based in Moscow with his family and team of dancers. I interviewed Tony last year before the Swan Lake opening night, a busy and talented chap who started out as a football goalie with Droylesdon. On with the show, read the review here.



Bands Rock But Arona Doesn’t Roll Out The Welcome Carpet

Six vibrant Tenerife rock bands, a seafront stage in Los Cristianos and a total lack of advance publicity added up to a great night for those present but another missed opportunity to promote a different side of Arona culture. To be fair it wasn’t just the Rock And Roll Una Noche En Verano that was left to its own devices, the whole Virgen del Carmen celebrations were a hit and miss affair.

Back to the music and I arrived just in time to hear the last number from the first band, a young group (didn’t catch their name) that sounded good but a bit lacking in polish. The small stage at the back of the Plaza del Peascadora often hosts music and while the shade of the trees gives it a nice intimate feel, it does help to hide the performers a little from those walking along the promenade or just coming off the beach. Some of the bikers from the afternoons rally were still dishing out paella and the last remains of their beer and the early evening sun attracted a small crowd of the curious of various ages. Los Positivos (above) were not on the original listing but burst onto stage with power and passion and launched into some classics like Route 66 and the Sex Pistols Pretty Vacant. There were quite a few young rockers near the stage with suitable dark t shirts bearing the names of grunge and metal bands. As I mingled on the edge of the plaza I met a young lady chasing a strutting cockerel (I will resist the 1001 obvious cock jokes) the rock chick caught her pet and explained to me that its name was Nirvana.

Los Positivos charged the crowd and the lead singer added a touch of theatre by donning a hot looking demonic mask. It wasn’t the only change as the bass player arrived late and strolled on stage with his cased guitar slung over his shoulder, of course we gave him some good natured stick. The smoke was pumping from the stage and the masked singer was writhing on the ground in between leading impressive covers of Bowie’s Suffragete City and then a repeat of Route 66 and Pretty Vacant before an encore of Wild Thing. In the day the plaza is a popular resting place for some older members of the community and I was stunned to see that a little old lady sat on a bench just away from the stage for the entire evening, maybe she was deaf?

The next group up was Momento Beat, I listened to the first two numbers from them but they were a lot less manic and lost the attention of the small but select audience. With the sun setting slowly I had a wander to see what else was going on, the church was holding a religious ceremony for the Virgen with the doors open onto the plaza where rows of attentive worshippers were paying homage. Heading back the other way around by the fishermans moorings there was more music, this time from a couple of fishing boats that were hosting picnics as they were being decked out for Sundays trip out to sea for the Virgen, neither event had been pushed through the local Canarian media.

Back to the stage and the next performers were up and ready. Mr Day Tripper (above) got some of the momento back with some obscure English language rock from recent years, my learned friend Bob identified songs from Wolfmother, and The Subways, both unknown to me. A lot of the passing listeners had passed by leaving a hard core fuelled by cheap beer from the local supermarket. Some local regulars tried to cash in on the gathering, a few Chinese with the inevitable sky rockets and trinkets and even a clown bending ballons into swords and hats whilst slipping in the odd bit of fancy footwork in time to the music.

Mr Day Tripper were pulling out the stops with red smoke casting them in eerie shadows and they stoked up what fire was left in the “tired” onlookers. As they took their final bow I felt the pull of the pub, I was in two minds about staying for the final two bands especially grunge band No More Carrots but felt I had done my bit. Hopefully more music will pass this way and a concerted publicity effort might even see a crowd more fitting to the talent on show and the effort put in to run the event.

Getting A Damm Good Thrashing At Guimar Rock Festival

Beers in hand we parted the sea of long hair, body piercings and leather to get a good view of the stage, the lights throbbed, the smoke billowed and Thrashtorno let rip with guitars blazing. Just a quiet evening on the seafront at El Puertito in Guimar for the Goymar Fest of rock and heavy metal.

Myself and The General had both been a previous year on the way back from football in Santa Cruz so had a good idea what to expect. The venue was an outdoor concrete sports court and the music had started at 2 in the afternoon and was set to go on until 2 am. Coming into Guimar the road sides were parked tight with cars but we headed to the beach area by Club Nautico and found a suitable slot. The large expanse of sand was peppered with a few wild revellers enjoying a drink and some special cigarettes, the cool breeze was very welcome after another scorching day, some of the fans must have been pouring with sweat in the afternoon wrapped in their denims.

At this point you may be thinking wild hairy rockers beer and a free festival, sounds like a recipe for a riot, well things are a lot more laid back in Tenerife and there were no police anywhere and just one low key security guard on each entrance to the performance area. There was quite a mix in the crowd, some were clearly curious tourists and a few old gits like The General and me but everyone was friendly and welcoming. There was one wild fan who kept charging at the stage and his fellow revellers during the Thrashtorno set but after several attempts to guide him out and reason with him he melted into the night. Thrashtorno , real locals from Guimar,lived up to their name, loud no nonsense thrash metal, at one stage their guitars dissapeared under cascades of hair as they lost themselves in their music.

The next band on, didn’t get their name, had a bit of a punk influence and were all the better for it, as we watched the swirling mosh pit rise and fall one of the organisers sold us some raffle tickets. One of the prizes was a free tattoo, could have been interesting if I won it, maybe I could have Club Deportivo Tenerife inked on a very intimate place or maybe I would have to settle for CDT. At the end of the second bands set they did the rafle draw on stage, a bit bizarre as they were most concerned to get all the winners before carrying on with the music. With the brief lights up and rest in the music I was able to scan the crowd and appreciate some of the rock chicks although there were a few more hefty ladies with piercings in all sorts of places.

Next up were Guerilla Urbana from La Laguna, a wild mix of traditional rock, punk and metal, they had quite a following and several of their fans body surfed over the crowd and pushed through the flimsy barrier to get on stage, at one point they did a great version of The Who’s I Can’t Explain. By the end of their set all pretence at a band audience divide had gone out of the window and the stage groaned as they bounced up and down singing a delightful little ditty about paying the Pope a not so friendly visit – very topical in Spain at the moment. By then, gone midnight, a good few hours had passed and happy to have sampled some alternative entertainment we left the venue and headed back south with loud kerrrangs ringing in our ears.

Gabba Gabba Hey, Pornosurf Pay Tribute To The Ramones

Maybe too much sun has toughened my skin, I just couldn’t get the safety pins through my nipples, and my attempts to rip open the knees of my jeans didn’t work so I went in plain clothes to see local band Pornosurf play their tribute to New York punk legends The Ramones at the Underground rock pub in El Medano.

The General drove us down there, don’t think I have been to El Medano at night before, I was impressed by the twinkling lights inset in the road at the pedestrian crossing it was something I hadn’t seen before in Tenerife. It was pretty busy around the main plaza, most bars had a decent crowd outside and the strong winds that make this a kite surfers heaven were having a night off. The Underground pub was easy to find, just off the plaza to the left as you face the sea, it was just after 10.30 and not very busy, a good indication that the 11 pm start for the gig was a very loose guide. Bottled Doradas were 2 euros and with Nirvana and Motorhead belting out from the speakers we were happy to wait. The bar is a long tube shape, hence the name, and as more people poured in I spotted a good range of rockers and rock chicks in their 20’s and 30’s.

A polite 40 minutes late Pornosurf took to the performance area at one end of the bar and launched into a high octane journey through the best of the Ramones, it was good to hear Rock and Roll High School early on. Projected on the back wall was a pic of Joey Ramone the lead singer who died 10 years ago from lymphoma, a type of cancer, all three main ramones Johny, Joey and Dee Dee are now dead. A few years ago Marky Ramone played a gig in Santa Cruz but he was pretty much a fringe member of the band. Talking of fringes, there were several Ramone floppy fringes on show in the audience and even a small mohican.

The tight confines of the bar made it quite hot, Pornosurf were matching the fans in Dorada demolition and they certainly earned it with their full on style and the briefest of gaps between songs. The toilets are just to the side of the bands area so the tide of music lovers lapped quite close to the speakers and guitars, I took the opportunity to grab some photos from the side as I returned from syphoning off some excess beer, my ear was close to one of the speakers and took the full decibels of Cretin Hop. Pornosurf are a good band and clearly have a loyal following and The Ramones were always a favourite of mine so it was a winning combination. Highlight of the night for me was a rip roaring trip down memory lane with Rockaway Beach, a track that used to get played liberally at my old sixth form discos oh so many years ago.

It’s always good to see live music and there is quite a healthy local band scene in Tenerife, Pornosurf were a top band in a top venue, I feel I may be paying a return visit to the Underground.

Glitter Boots And Flying Pigs At Rock Story

Shine On You Crazy Diamonds is not only my favourite Pink Floyd track, it’s also the perfect length for downing an illicit afternoon pint. I discovered that when working in an Oxford office, the pub was a short back door exit away and that jukebox track was the length of the afternoon tea break. Fast forward about 20 years and I had the pleasure of attending Rock Story at Exit Palace in San Eugenio, Abba, Pink Floyd and Queen tributes in one show. It was my first time at this Tenerife venue and I was impressed from the courtyard complete with fountain and bar, to the large circular hall fanning out from the stage.

I’m at that age now where I don’t have to worry about trying to appear trendy, so I can admit that I quite liked Abba and had a few of their records. Of course I was quite partial to the girls, Agnetha and Anni-Frid and the two ladies filling those roles were very attractive and good singers. Some of their constantly changing costumes were nicer than others but I was taken with the silver dresses with knee length glittering boots to match. There were 4 backing musicians instead of the bearded twosome and they did a fine job as all the hits paraded by.

After just over 40 minutes Abba went to meet their Waterloo and I went to meet the inside bar during the first break. I had feared extortionate captive audience prices but 3 euros for a pint of Reina wasn’t much dearer than the nearby bars in this part of Las Americas. Refreshed I took a pint back to my table just as the haunting opening of Is There Anybody Out There struck up, the stage burst into light and video screens and lasers came into play. A dancer/ acrobat at centre stage attached himself to a dangling hook and net and ascended slowly to girate in the cascade of light as the music played out. The band gave pleasing renditions of Money, Shine On You Crazy Diamonds and Wish You Were Here as the visuals held my attention, at one point an inflatable pig passed overhead, this one not destined to escape above Battersea as the original bands promotional stunt had. This tribute was part of a full show that ran elsewhere called The Pink Wall and they even managed to do a stunning re-enactment of Gerald Scarfes animated sexually charged plants thrusting and entwining to Empty Spaces. This involved two suspended acrobats in body stockings weaving their seemingly naked bodies far above the stage as the band gave the song its full passion. Another highpoint was a soaring performance by a female singer of The Great Gig In The Sky.

By the time The Wall was torn down and the next break arrived, I was ready for another pint. Returning to my place this time, who should come roaring down the aisle on a motorbike, Freddie Mercury, ready to launch into Queens back catalogue with the help of the rest of the surrogate monarchs. Suitably loud, proud and pruning like a peacock, Freddie led the way through Radio Ga Ga, It’s A Kinda Magic, Bohemian Rhapsody and many more. There was even time for a duet of Barcelona with a top notch diva scaling the high notes in place of Monserrat Caballe. It was all good stuff and lapped up by a decent sized audience, Abba and Queen delivered the goods but it was my Pink Floyd Greatest Hits CD that I reached for the next morning. Funnily enough my headache was shining on like a crazy diamond too.