Dodgy gig in Edinburgh

Dodgy playing live at Edinburgh's Electric Circus

Dodgy playing live at Edinburgh's Electric Circus (L-R: Andy Miller, Nigel Clark, Mathew Priest)

On Wednesday evening I drove down to South Queensferry, teamed up with my brother Eddie, and the pair of us took the train in to Edinburgh Wavelery to see—what Wikipedia calls—’English power pop trio’ Dodgy in concert at The Electric Circus on Market Street (which is right next to the station).

The summer of 96

In 1996 I was working with homeless young people in London, and living in a very nice basement flat in Eccleston Square with my good friend (and former National Youth Choir of Great Britain member) Jonny Coore. We had a summer of beautiful weather. It was the summer of Euro 96, which was hosted by England, and the city was alive; the atmosphere was electric. It was the year that I got engaged for the first time. And the soundtrack to that summer of 1996 was Free Peace Sweet by Dodgy.

In many ways it was a strange choice of album for me. I was heavily into metal (still am), I was trying my hardest to avoid anything with the ‘Britpop‘ label, like Oasis and Blur, and yet here I was listening to Dodgy again and again and again.

But the song writing was fabulous, and I loved the use of acoustic guitars throughout the songs.

Live

I was always under the misconception that Dodgy were from Birmingham. Apparently they started out as a band called Purple, a trio from Bromsgrove and Redditch in Worcestershire, who moved to London had a few line-up changes and re-badged themselves as Dodgy.

So, they were in London in 1996. I was in London in 1996. How on earth did we never bump into each other?! I would have loved to have seen them in concert back then.

So I made up for it this time around. They were coming to Edinburgh on their UK tour. I live about 50 miles from Edinburgh. I bought a ticket. My brother bought a ticket. And on Wednesday evening, I stood about 10 feet from the tiny stage at The Electric Circus and grinned from ear to ear for about 90 minutes.

It was an intimate gig. Dodgy were fun, and professional, and played a fabulous set. Despite my dodgy back (no pun intended), which was really beginning to hurt by the end of the set, I could have stood and listened to them for another 90 minutes.

Guitarist Andy Miller stood stage left behind a lap steel guitar on a stand. His playing was intricate and delicate but never too much. At times his guitar sounded more like a keyboard and I loved it for that. Every now and then he would look out to the crowd and smile. He obviously seemed to be enjoying himself.

Vocalist, guitarist and bassist Nigel Clark stood centre of stage, armed for most of the evening with an acoustic guitar, occasionally taking bass for a few of their earlier hits. The rest of the evening bass duties were handled very comfortably by a friend of the band. There was a warmness and confidence about his stage presence that suited the venue.

Drummer Mathew Priest has a fabulously simple drum set-up but he plays it so melodically and with such space. If I was a drummer he’s the kind of drummer I would want to be. I enjoyed his between songs chats, and we all marvelled at his knitted drumstick warmers in what I presumed were Aston Villa colours.

Thank you Dodgy.

New album

Dodgy released a new album Stand Upright In A Cool Place earlier this year, from which this is a track

Playing live

I don’t get out much these days. That’s my choice. I have three small children and a wife to support. So when I do get out to see a live band it’s a real treat. I’m glad I made the effort this time. Dodgy live were more than I expected. The venue was much smaller than I had expected but as a result there was an intimacy and a relaxed feeling to the gig that I relished.

The gig also reminded me how much I miss playing in a band live. Maybe one day I’ll get back to it. I sure hope so.

As my brother and I stood on the platform at Edinburgh Waverley to catch our return to Dalmeny, Eddie asked me “So, have you got any other bands you’d like to see live on your… bucket list?”

If you don’t already know, a ‘bucket list’ is a list of things you’d like to do before you kick the bucket (die).

“Why?” I asked, “If I don’t are you just going to shove me in front of the next train?”

Dodgy were definitely on my list. I’ve scored them off now… but do you know what? I think I might just write “Dodgy” on that list again.

Epilogue

A few weeks ago I got a phone call from my Mum.

“Hello Mum!”

“What’s this I hear about you going to a dodgy gig?”

“The band are called Dodgy.”

“Ah… right,” she said, obviously sounding quite relieved.

DigiTech GenEdit 1.6 works in Windows 7 compatibility mode

DigiTech GNX2 GenetX guitar processor

DigiTech GNX2 GenetX guitar processor

I own a DigiTech GNX2 guitar multi-effect processor, or “Guitar WorkStation” as DigiTech called it.  Although it’s a few years old now—I bought it probably around six years ago—it’s still a really nice piece of kit.

One of the things that attracted me to this particular pedal, which I bought to replace a DigiTech RP6 that died on me a few hours before a gig, was that it promised to connect to my PC via MIDI.

Well, I’m delighted to report that the DigiTech GNX2 still connects to my PC running Windows 7 Professional (32-bit).  The trick is to right-click the shortcut icon, select Properties and on the Compatibility tab select “Run this program in compatibility mode for Windows XP (Service Pack 3)“.

As soon as I did that I saw this:

DigiTech GenEdit 1.6a

DigiTech GenEdit 1.6a

In the past I’ve found GenEdit 1.61a really useful as it allows you make adjustments to user presets while sitting at my desk, guitar on my knee, rather than hunched over a floor pedal twittling the small controls on the “guitar workstation”.

Update

I switched on my DigiTech GNX2 this morning for the first time in a couple of years, to be honest (we’ve had twins, you know!) and … the presets kept randomly ‘flickering’ between one and the next.

So, for example, I’d be on factory preset #1 and while playing the GNX2 would quickly switch to factory preset #2 and then back to #1. Repeat.

My heart sank. I was really looking forward to getting back into playing, until baby #3 arrives and I’ll have to put it on hold for another couple of years.

However, a quick factory reset later and all appears to be well so far.

And what has this to do with GenEdit?  I backed-up all my custom user presets via MIDI in about a minute. Something that would have taken me hours to do with my old DigiTech RP6 as I would have had to manually scroll through each preset and write down all the settings. Genius!

Vox Amplugs

Vox amp plugs

These little gadgets look cool: Vox Amplugs are headphone guitar amps that come in three distinct flavours:

  • Vox AC30 (based on a Vox AC30 Top Boost amp)
  • Classic Rock (based on a UK-made amp head)
  • Metal (based on a California-made high-gain amp head)

You plug the Amplug into your guitar and a set of headphones into the Amplug, and then get rocking! An additional Aux-in socket allows you to jam along to your CD/MP3 player.

Seemingly one set of two Alkaline AAA batteries gives up to 15 hours of battery life.

They retail for around GBP £30.

Brian May guitars – spot the difference

Brian May's Red Special
Brian May‘s original Red Special

Ace Pro AE106
Ace Pro AE106 “Brian May Style Electric Guitar”

Ace AE106

I spotted the Ace Pro AE106 while flicking through a guitar magazine the other week. It caught my eye. “Ooh! a Brian May guitar,” I thought.

I had a closer look. It wasn’t. It was the Ace Pro AE106, which claimed to be a “Brian May Style Electric Guitar”.

By “Brian May Style” I guess they mean that it’s roughly the right colour, has three Burns tri-sonic-looking pickups, a black scratchplate and … er, that’s about it.

Here’s the full run-down of features:

  • Chrome Hardware
  • Diecast Tuners
  • Two Way Truss Rod
  • Hard Maple Neck
  • Rosewood 25-1/2
  • Set Neck
  • Basswood Body
  • Modern 3S, 1V, 1T, 5way
  • Fulcrum2 Tremolo
  • Contoured body Arm lays

You can buy the AE106 at The Music King for only £99. I really want to know what it sounds like now.

Brian May Guitars

You can buy a real Brian May style guitar via Brian May Guitars for around £500.

It’s features are:

  • Mahogany body (with acoustic chamber) with Pinstripe binding
  • New two-piece scratch plate
  • Mahogany neck
  • 24″ scale (Depth: 22mm at 1st fret … 24mm at 12th fret)
  • 24 fret – ebony fingerboard (width 45mm at 0 fret … 57mm at 24th fret)
  • Grover GH305 locking tuners
  • Dual truss rod
  • Graphite nut
  • New bridge & Brass saddles
  • BM Custom tremolo arm
  • 3 x Burns Tri-Sonic pickups (series wired)
  • Master Volume & Tone controls
  • Original BM switching system
  • Individual pickup IN/OUT phase plus Individual pickup ON/OFF

I know which I’d prefer … oh, I forgot! I already have one.

Steve Lawson in the living room

Steve Lawson playing bass guitar in our living room

Steve Lawson‘s gig in our living room last night was a roaring success.

While only six people turned up, it didn’t detract from the enjoyment of a relaxed evening in the company of friends, with plenty of good wine, fine chocolates, beautiful music and much laughter.

I videoed the entire gig, including Steve’s Q&A at the end, which will no doubt creep onto YouTube in due course.

In the meantime, here’s one video from the gig last night, which I recorded on my Fuji FinePix S5600. This is a video of Steve playing his track called “Scott Peck” from Behind Every Word (2007).

And then, all too soon, Steve had to drive home. (To Steve: it was truly wonderful to see you again, lovely man!)

Shortly after he left I discovered that he’d left his scarf here. Maybe I should auction it on eBay for charity: “Rock star’s Dr Who-style scarf”. Steve would, obviously, have the opportunity to bid for it himself, if it means anything to him!

See more photos of the gig at Flickr: Steve Lawson house concert