News & Reviews
MIKE BERRY WROTE
I think I met Blast Off in 1997 only a year after the band was formed, but you could have fooled me, they were that tight! (I had to buy them lunch and all their drinks!) When their manager got in touch to see if I would do some gigs with the boys I was very apprehensive and quite frankly not too keen. In fact on the way to our first rehearsal together, I was already making my excuses and trying to think of the politest way to say 'Thanks but no thanks!'... How wrong can you be?
We have been gigging together ever since and although I still work with 'The Outlaws' I always look forward to my gigs with Blast Off. I was very sorry to see Nick leave the band to become a responsible parent with his lovely partner Emma, and thought that might be the end of Blast Off. but I underestimated the boy's determination, and having gained and lost one replacement in the space of 48 hours without as much as playing so much as a note together, they almost immediately found Tim and what a find he was!
There are some similarities between him and Nick but he's very much his own man and will make plenty of the other guys on the rock 'n roll circuit sit up and take notice. He certainly holds his own, if you excuse the expression! Driss sent me a copy of the "Cry Wild" CD and I was bopping around to it in my car, all the way up to North Wales, shortening the journey by a couple of hours at least. Anyone watching me must have thought I was barmy! So what's new!!! What a great mixture of originals, courtesy of Driss's pen and standards, some of which I've never heard, but then I have led a very sheltered life!
The Festival Inn at Trowell, near Nottingham, is probably one of our better venues and we do have an awful lot to go at in this area. With plenty of seating on a carpeted area surrounding a decent size wooden floor, a large bar running down one side, a raised stage, and on a good night over 250 people in attendance.
At 7.30pm, the room was nicely filling up, the band was doing their sound check and even that came over powerful, you sensed you were in for something special! Everybody was busy chatting, fetching their drinks and getting nicely settled in when just before 8pm, Rockin' Ray introduced the music and played a selection of some easygoing tracks. 'Morse Code Of Love' then enticed the early jivers to the floor; the place was starting to Fizz!
If you ever want 'Lift Off into 'Orbit' then Blast Off are your band and these great bunch of lads took to the stage at 9pm. They let loose with 'Route 66' an opening number with the 'wow' factor and continued with 'I Knew The Bride; 'Slow Down; 'Why Do Fools Fall In Love; a very catchy jiver this, 'Honey Hush; Marie Marie; all performed in their own inimitable style. Fitting in three sensational strollers then gave the men a chance to watch their partners strut their stuff, excellent!
Straight back into the flow with 'Ice Cold; two fabulous Stray Cat numbers '59' and Rock This Town; so ending the first set on a terrific high.
Back to Rockin' Ray - could he keep the floor packed after this mind blowing start? Yes he could and did so for the next 40 minutes. This then gave us the opportuity to interview Driss, the lead singer with the band. First we asked him who influenced his career in the early days and he said, "Elvis, then later watching the Jets and Stray Cats on TOTPS and liking the idea of singing with a double bass." What bands do you currently like? I asked. He answered bands that perform doo-wop." Why did you decide to sing songs from the 70s and call yourselves "Heroes" which turns you into another band? "Because this was New Wave music and what we grew up with and they are our heroes."
We understand you are a big fan of Dean Martin, What draws you to his type of singing? He replied "listening to a guy years ago singing his songs in a pub, I went out and bought all his CDs and was fascinated by his melodic voice." Finally what's your favourite venue? Driss said " weekenders, especially the Teddy Boy Shake, Rattle 'n' Roll one and the Ritz Ballroom at Brighouse."
Now it was back to the action with Blast Off hitting us with 'Please Don't Touch' and 'pretend' before Driss gave a nice dedication to Bill and Sue Wardle who share the same birthday and it was also their wedding anniversary. After 'Hot Dog' and 'Twenty Flight Rock' they brilliantly ripped into their showstopper, 'The House Is Rockin.' The drive from the guitar intro itself is simply riveting; this has to be one of the best jivers on the circuit, sheer magic, and one of our favourites! 'Baby Please Don't Go; 'Gene And Eddie' and 'Old Black Joe; this music had the audience captivated, arms waving, feet moving and that was just folk sitting!
Finally, 'Fishnet Stockings' was to be the last number with the floor still packed to capacity, what a blinding performance they have given everyone tonight. What you get from Blast Off is raw and exciting rock 'n' roll from start to finish. It was 11.15pm and no-one was going early, you savour every minute of a night like this.We can slowly descend back to earth now!
Whilst there was a lunar eclipse on 3rd March, at the same time the Kent band, Blast Off diverted my attention from this phenomenon - I have no doubt that most of the Festival Inn Rock 'n' Roll crowd were similary entranced and sent into another stratosphere by this exciting Rock 'n' Roll trio!
The band started with 'Route 66' and the jivers quickly appeared. This was followed by the great Dave Edmunds song, 'I Knew The Bride' and 'Slow Down'. By this time the floor was packed with jivers who were making the most of Blast Offs driving rhythms. This experienced band are convincing in all departments, none more so than the lead guitarist on his Gretsch guitar. Forever associated with Eddie Cochran, this guitar is particularly suited to the Rock 'n' Roll sound. In the hands of a fine guitarist, stunning and exciting effects can be produced and Tim Bradley is such a player. Within the music he produced a virtuoso performance much envied by 3 chord rhythm players such as myself!
The set continued with a stroll version of 'Ubangi Stomp'. Personally, I prefer the faster more jive oriented version of Warren Smith, but this certainly brought the strollers out and went down well. '59' was another outstanding song, brilliantly performed.
The second set saw much more fine work by this popular band including 'Queen Of Hearts', another Dave Edmunds classic, together with 'Blue Days, Black Nights' and 'Twenty Flight Rock'.
The performance concluded with 'Old Black Joe' and 'Fishnet Stockings' by which time some of the jivers were visibly wilting from the evening's effort which they had put in!
A final word for the band - keep up the fine work lads. It was a great night and I look forward to seeing you the next time.
The House Is Rocking
The Festival Inn, Trowell - Saturday, 3rd March 2006
Review & photo's: John & Margaret Street, Bulwell, Nottingham.
Blast Off Send The Festival Into Orbit!
By John Hart, Nottingham