THE VIBRATORS’ original line-up is to reunite for one final gig together.

Having first come together in 1976, Knox, John Ellis, Pat Collier and Eddie will take to the stage one more time for a show at London’s Islington Assembly Hall (just down the road from The Hope & Anchor, scene of so many Vibrators victories) on Saturday 26 May, sponsored by Vive Le Rock!

The original line-up remained together for the band’s classic debut Pure Mania, before bassist Collier jumped ship to be replaced on their ’78 second album V2 by Gary Tibbs, who’ll also be putting in an appearance on the night.

The show will also feature Phil Ram, Nick Peckham and Pete and Nigel Bennett from the current Vibrators line-up.

Support on the night comes from fellow first-wave punks MENACE.

Tickets priced £22.00 are on sale here.

The Vibrators on Facebook

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BARRENCE WHITFIELD & THE SAVAGES have announced a major tour for Europe, releasing their first ever video to coincide!

‘Let’s Go To Mars’ is the first single to be taken from the Boston R&B legends’ new album Soul Flowers Of Titan, which is out through Bloodshot Records this Friday. It’s available to pre-order here.

The video is the work of Eric Baconstrip, drummer with London garage sausage-mongers KING SALAMI & THE CUMBERLAND THREE, who’ll be joining Barrence and co at their gig at The Garage on 19 May.

Full tour dates are….

SAT 28 APRIL – RnB Night, Groningen NL
WED 2 MAY – Grand Social, Dublin IE
THU 3 MAY – CAQF, Belfast UK
SAT 5 MAY – Ballydehob Jazz Festival IE
WED 9 MAY – Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh UK
THU 10 MAY – The Cluny, Newcastle UK
FRI 11 MAY – Westgarth Social Club, Middlesbrough UK
SAT 12 MAY – Soup Kitchen, Manchester UK
SUN 13 MAY – Brudenell Social Club, Leeds UK
TUE 15 MAY – Academy 3, Birmingham UK
WED 16 MAY – Academy 3, Oxford UK
FRI 18 MAY – The Railway Hotel, Southend UK
SAT 19 MAY – The Garage, London UK
MON 21 MAY – Ribs’n’Blues, Raalte NL
WED 23 MAY – Le Molotov, Marseille FR
THU 24 MAY – Upload Club, Barcelona ES
FRI 25 MAY – TBC, Alicante ES
SAT 26 MAY – Mendialdea Music Festival, Vitoria ES
SUN 27 MAY – El Sol, Madrid ES
MON 28 MAY – Planta Baja, Granada ES
TUE 29 MAY – Sala X, Seville ES
THU 31 MAY – Kutxa Kultur Kluba, Donostia/San Sebastián ES
SAT 2 JUNE – Goezot in’t Hofke, Oud-Turnhout BE

Tickets are available now through Punk Rock Blues.

Barrence Whitfield & The Savages on Facebook

Pic by Scott Beseler


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Fast-rising garage-rockers TABLE SCRAPS have unveiled a brand new video.

‘I’m A Failure’ is the lead track from their just released debut album Autonomy, which is already picking up rave reviews, including a hefty 9-out-of-10 from Vive Le Rock!

Speaking about the video, the Brummie trio say, “We had wanted to make a video that affectionately referenced channel surfing for ages and inspiration struck when, as always, we realised we had no money. We did have cheap wood and socks, though: it was all we needed to put together a loving homage to Beavis and Butt-Head, the golden years of MTV and the amazing/terrible music videos of our youth.”

The band are taking the album to the masses with a bunch of shows this week, including a FREE London show at The Shacklewell Arms in Dalston this Wednesday. Full dates are….

Feb 28 – London, The Shacklewell Arms
Mar 1 – Bournemouth, 60 Million Postcards
Mar 2 – Birmingham, Hare & Hounds Kings Heath
Mar 3 – Bristol, The Trap

Released through Zen Ten Records, Autonomy is available on vinyl, CD and download from

Table Scraps on Facebook

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Italian post-punks CUT fly in this week for a series of shows in northern England and Scotland.

The bass-free trio are touring in support of last year’s critically lauded sixth album Second Skin. The band have also announced the reissue of 2006’s long unavailable A Different Beat, vastly expanded from the original 13 tracks to 24.

Set for re-release on 15 March on gatefold vinyl, CD and download, it’s available to pre-order here.

Formed in Bologna in 1996, Cut have shown an industrious approach to gigging, covering Europe many times, including several visits to the UK. Along the way, they’ve shared stages with the likes of Iggy & The Stooges, Mudhoney, Violent Femmes, The Hives, Guitar Wolf and the Jim Jones Revue.

Their 2010 album Annihilation Road was recorded and mixed by Matt Vert-Ray of Heavy Trash and mastered by Richard Hell & The Voidoids guitarist Ivan Julian, while Second Skin featured a guest contribution from Minutemen and Stooges bassist Mike Watt.

Check out ‘Too Late’ from Second Skin.

Cut land in Liverpool on 1 March, eventually winding up in Preston on 10 March. Full dates are…

01.03.18 LIVERPOOL Sound
02.03.18 BOLTON Alma Inn
03.03.18 MANCHESTER Star & Garter
04.03.18 GATESHEAD The Black Bull
06.03.18 EDINBURGH Leith Depot
07.03.18 GLASGOW 13th Note
08.03.18 NOTTINGHAM JT Soar
09.03.18 SHEFFIELD The Delicious Clam
10.03.18 PRESTON The Ferret

Cut on Facebook

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Dutch hardcore mob THIS MEANS WAR! have just released their debut EP and are premiering this video exclusively with Vive Le Rock! and Down For Life.

The video for ‘Use It Up’ is the work of director, animator and producer Chris Curtis of Dropkick Murphys and Green Day fame.

Veterans of the Dutch live scene, This Means War! came together in 2016 when members of Discipline, Hidden Guns, Superhero Status and Convict answered an Internet ad. They recorded the 5 -track EP in Amsterdam with producer Igor Wouters (Gold, Backfire!) before having it mixed at Getaway in Boston by Jason Maas.

The self-titled EP is out now on 10″ vinyl through Pirates Press.

Catch the band on the road at….

24 MARCH – Cafe den Tip, Vorsselaar, Belgium
2 JUNE – Rebellion Amsterdam 2018
7-8 JULY – Sjock Festival, Belgium
1 SEPTEMBER – Namur, Belgium w/ Lion’s Law

This Means War! on Facebook

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GINGER WILDHEART has just unveiled a video for the song ‘Paying It Forward’ from his new acoustic album Ghost In The Tanglewood.

Striking a mellow country vibe, it’s a bit different from his usual stuff, but Ginger’s well known for having many arrows in his quiver, and his way with a good tune can be turned to practically any genre.

Ghost In The Tanglewood is out through Graphite Records on 2 March and you can pre-order it here.

As previously announced, Ginger will be hosting the first ever Vive Le Rock Awards at the O2 Academy, Islington, London on Wednesday 28 March.

Tickets, including a special VIP package, are available here.

Vote for Best New Band and Best Live Act here.

Ginger Wildheart on Facebook

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Australian guitarist SUZIE STAPLETON has a new single out this week, and she’s premiering the video exclusively with Vive Le Rock!

Described by the Melbourne musician as “an isolated protest in an oversaturated world where the powerful feed on the powerless,” ‘Negative Prophet’ was recorded and produced by Stapleton with the help of guest bassist Fred Lyenn Jacques of MARK LANEGAN’s band.

Set for release on Thursday 22 February, the single will be available as a FREE download from

Since relocating to the UK in 2015, the Melbourne musician’s been working hard making a name for herself, sharing stages with Lanegan, MICK HARVEY and JIM JONES & THE RIGHTEOUS MIND, as well as appearing at Camden Rocks.

Currently touring Australia, she plats dates in the Czech Republic and France before returning to London for a show at The Finsbury, Manor House on 11 May. Full dates are….

1 Mar – The Junk Bar Brisbane, AUS
2 Mar – MoshPit Sydney, AUS
3 Mar – The Yarra Melbourne, AUS
10 Mar – MONA Hobart, AUS
23-24 Mar – Zizkovska Noc Festival, Prague, CZ
13 Apr – Le P’Tit Minou Brest, FR
14 Apr – Venue TBC, Nantes, FR
15 Apr – Blue Devils, Orleans, FR
11 May – The Finsbury, London, UK

Suzie Stapleton on Facebook

Pic by Aaron Thomspon

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Punk iconoclasts THE MEMBRANES have announced a one-day minifest in Manchester this spring.

Following the success of last year’s The Membranes & Friends event, the band have decided to make it an annual occurrence.

The Membranes & Friends II will take place at Manchester’s historic Ritz dancehall on Saturday 5 May. The band will once again be joined by the 20-voice BIMM Choir and will de debuting songs from their forthcoming double album due in September.

Other acts on the bill include THE LOVELY EGGS, EVIL BLIZZARD, THE CRAVATS, ONE SIDED HORSE and SINK YA TEETH, with several more acts to be announced.

Tickets for the event priced £21.50 are available here, with 50p from each ticket going to the Ritz Restoration Fund.

The Membranes on Facebook

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UNDERCOVER FESTIVAL is returning in April to the unique setting of Dreamland, Margate in Kent, a venue and experience that defies all other conventions and festival templates. Not only do we have a cracking line up but festival-goers can experience many retro rides and amusements, plus it is once again held undercover i.e. not outdoors, so if it’s peeing down come April, it’s not a problem and your beer won’t get diluted. Leave your wellies at home, and enjoy one of the best small alternative festivals the South has to offer!

The 2-day line-up includes some cracking local bands and so much more over two stages. It’s shaping up to be an unmissable event. We believe we have most bases covered. Two more bands to go and the line-up will be complete.

THE BLOCKHEADS: Ian Dury’s legendary outfit are lined up to headline the main stage with a full band and full set of at least 75 minutes, and when we say at least, we mean it, as with this band you never know when they will stop once they have started.

SHAM 69: the Original Hersham Boys with Jimmy Pursey and the band headlining the Saturday at Undercover.

“I know it’s taken a long walk to talk the talk in the garden, we have taken a long time to listen to Mick Moriarty asking us to come to Undercover Festival at Margate. Well alright, see you there in April we are looking forward to it!” – Jimmy Pursey, Sham 69

The festival is one that prides itself on taking an independent and grassroots approach to things, and is always determined to be different from mainstream events, with two days of alternative action from bands you’d be highly unlikely to see on most other festival line-ups.

“When we said it was the home we were looking for since we started as a festival in 2013, we meant it and I am pleased to be able to announce that we will be back at Dreamland Margate for 13 and 14 April 2018.”

It looks as if the move to April is working and appealing to many, our advice is get in quick as it looks like this one will be selling out soon…

Plans are in place for an even better Undercover VI, we are putting the finishing touches to what we believe is a mouth-watering alternative music event.

“I thought we could not beat the line-up we had for 2017, but I think we may have, our message to everyone is come along and see what all the fuss is about,” said Festival Organiser Mick Moriarty.

General admission tickets on sale online, by post or from several outlets. As we say at Undercover, “See Ya Down The (Sea) Front!”

A mouth-watering alternative line up of…



Plus Wyrd Sisters back at Buskers Corner (turn up and have a go) and cracking DJs over both days for a veritable multi-genre festival feast.

Line up subject to change etc etc

Tickets on sale here.


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Vive Le Rock is joining forces with Rock & Roll Cinema, AEG Presents and Cadiz music in the creation of a brand new film festival for London.

Bringing together a programme of new music documentaries, live shows and Q&As, Soundscreen Music & Film Festival will take place from 21 to 27 March at some of the capital’s most iconic venues, including the 100 Club, Koko and Regent Street Cinema.

The festival will culminate in the first ever Vive Le Rock Awards at the O2 Academy, Islington on Wednesday 28 March.

The opening night of Soundscreen will feature the premiere of Uncaged, the story of Brix Smith and The Extricated – the band featuring Smith and fellow ex-Fall members Paul and Stephen Hanley – at the 100 Club. The
screening on 21 March will be followed by a live performance by the band.

Thanks to their sweary rants about modern England, Nottingham duo Sleaford Mods have been called “The Voice of Britain” by their fans, “Britain’s angriest band” by the Guardian, and “The world’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll band” by Iggy Pop. Jason Williamson, beatmaker Andrew Fearn, and their manager Steve Underwoodhave won over fans with their brutally honest lyrics and DIY ethos. Christine Franz’s documentary Bunch Of Kunst follows them on their journey from Sherwood to chart success, taking on the music business on their own terms. Franz and Underwood will undertake a Q&A at the screening taking place at Mile End’s Genesis Cinema on Tuesday 27 March.

A unique double bill featuring separate documentaries on each of the legendary Davies brothers from The Kinks, in the presence of the director Julien Temple,  Ray Davies – Imaginary Man and Dave Davies – Kinkdom Come will be shown at the Regent Street Cinema on Friday 23 March at 7pm.

Saturday 24 March at Regent Street Cinema sees the UK premiere of The Go-Betweens: Right Here, a documentary about the people who created this seminal rock band. Unflinching, insightful and at times painfully honest, the film tells the story of The Go-Betweens from the inside out, from the people who lived it, and from those whose lives were transformed by it.

A Shot Of Whisky, on Sunday 25 March at Regent Street Cinema, is the incredible story of the legendary LA club, Whisky a Go-Go. This is where reputations were built, moulds were broken, rules were torn up and legends were made. No other venue has nurtured generations of music legends such as Led Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac, Frank Zappa, Love, The Doors, Buffalo Springfield, Smokey Robinson, Earth Wind & Fire, The Temptations, Blondie, The Go Go’s, The Knack, Guns ‘N’ Roses, Motley Crue and many more.

Descent Into The Maelstrom, the story of Australia’s legendary 70s Punks, Radio Birdman, reveals how the band changed their nation by inspiring not only the fans, but also a golden age of independent music, firing up the likes
of Cold Chisel, Midnight Oil and more.

Also confirmed is Here To Be Heard: The Story of the Slits, which tells the story of Ari Up and company from their inception in 1976 to the band’s end in 2010 and the death of Ari. Featuring Tessa Pollitt, Palmolive, Viv Albertine, Bruce Smith, Adrian Sherwood and many more, it’s essential viewing.

Madness’ saxophonist, song and lyric writer Lee Thompson will perform live at a screening of the hilarious One Man’s
Madness rock / mockumentary at the 100 Club. Lee Scratch Perry will also make a rare London live appearance alongside a screening of his trailblazing documentary Lee Scratch Perry’s Vision of Paradise being shown on the big screen at Koko.

Full details of all screenings can be found at at

Tickets for the Vive Le Rock Awards are on sale here.

Soundscreen on Facebook


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London glam-punks THE DeRELLAS return with a new single and a bunch of UK dates taking them through the summer.

‘High Rise Supersize’ is the band’s first release to feature new singer Joey DeRella and was produced by legendary producer and ex-Vibrator, Pat Collier.

The single is backed with ‘Got Something To Say’ and a cheeky cover of SWEET’S ‘Fox On The Run’. It will be available on &” vinyl, CD and download from 6 April through the band’s own Rockaway Records, and precedes a new full-length album later in the year.

On the same day, the band head off on their High Rise Supersize Tour, kicking off at Duffy’s Bar in Leicester. Along the way they’ll be playing dates with the UK SUBS, CHELSEA and SLAUGHTER & THE DOGS as well as putting in an appearance at this year’s Rebellion Festival. Full dates are…..

April 6 – Duffy’s Bar, Leicester
April 7 – The Chameleon Arts Café, Nottingham
April 12 – The Thunderbolt, Bristol
April 13 – The Three Horseshoes, Bradford on Avon
April 14 – The Dolls’ House, Abertillery
April 20 – Suburbs, Guildford
April 21 – The Arts Centre, Reading
May 10 – Patterns, Brighton (w/UK Subs)
June 1 – The Vic, Swindon
June 2 – The Prince Albert, Stroud
July 13 – The Prince Albert, Brighton (w/Chelsea)
July 14 – The Underworld, London (w/Chelsea)
Aug 3-6 – Rebellion Festival, Blackpool (exact date TBA)
Aug 11 – 100 Club, London (w/Slaughter & The Dogs)

The DeRellas on Facebook

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Reinvigorated South London post-punks BAND OF HOLY JOY return to their old stamping ground for an intimate show in April.

The band, still fronted by charismatic Newcastle iconoclast Johny Brown, celebrated one of the most successful of their 33 years in 2017 with high profile dates around the release of their widely acclaimed new album Funambulist We Love You.

The band return to play The Ivy House in Nunhead on Friday 6 April, with support from QUARTERLIGHT, the current band from PENETRATION co-founder Gary Chaplin, and atmospheric art-punks PENDENNIS. MC for the evening will be DOCTORS OF MADNESS frontman Richard Strange.

Brown promises, “A night of beastly beatitude and other sonic deviances at the Ivy House, London’s first co-operatively owned pub with the best back room and stage in London. Come and join us for some good old bohemian beatnik post-punk kicks…”

Tickets are on sale here.

The Band Of Holy Joy on Facebook



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Vive Le Rock is teaming up with ace London gig promoters Some Weird Sin to bring you a weekend of summer fun with our own powerpop festival!

Pump It Up! A Powerpop Weekender is taking place at North London venue The Finsbury over the weekend of 28 & 29 July.

Topping the bill on the Saturday are legendary London hitmakers THE BARRACUDAS, celebrating their 40th Anniversary with their first London show in 3 years and in fact their only show in the capital this year. They’ll be joined by LOS PEPES and TV CRIME.

The Sunday night sees fast-rising New Yorkers DIRTY FENCES closing the night with support from Belfast legends PROTEX and ROLE MODELS. Plus there’s more acts to be announced on both days!

Tickets are on sale now at an insanely reasonable £25 for the weekend or £15 for the Saturday and £12 for the Sunday. Book early as this will sell out!


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Post-punk legends THE CRAVATS and FOLK DEVILS join forces for dates this spring.

Originally signed to iconic label Small Wonder, The Cravats last year released their first new album in 35 years, the acclaimed Dustbin Of Sound through Overground.

West Londoners Folk Devils made a surprise return in 2016, to play shows in support of the retrospective anthology Beautiful Monsters on Optic Nerve.

Both bands will be dusting off classic tracks from their back catalogue as well as demonstrating new material at shows in London, Bristol and Brighton. Full dates are….

Thur 5 April – The Thunderbolt, Bristol (w/ Otalgia) tickets
Fri 6 April – The Water Rats, London (w/ DJ James Endeacott) tickets
Sat 7 April – Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar, Brighton tickets

The Cravats on Facebook

Folk Devils on Facebook


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CITIZENS OF NOWHERE are a new band featuring 3 ex-members of THE GODFATHERS.

The trio have just unveiled their debut single and video and a preparing to play their first ever gig together in London this spring.

Guitarist Del Bartle had been in Godfathers precursors THE SID PRESLEY EXPERIENCE, later joining the reformed band in 2009, where he played alongside drummer Grant Nicholas on the Live At The 100 Club album. Guitarist Burrows, meanwhile, had replaced original guitarist Kris Dollimore for 1991’s Unreal World, the band’s last album for Epic.

‘Free Life’ is the first track from the forthcoming debut album May You Never Hear Serf Music Again, which was mixed by punk/metal guitar legend Bernie Tormé, set for release through Credible Hulk Productions later this year.

‘Free Life’ is available now through iTunes.

The band make their live debut at New Cross Inn, London on Thursday 12 April with support from THE NURSES and PRISONERS OF MOTHER ENGLAND.

Tickets are on sale here.

The Citizens Of Nowhere on Facebook


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Essex legends EDDIE & THE HOT RODS recently announced that 2018 would be their final year of touring.

Ahead of the band’s show next week at Northampton’s Roadmender club, Vive Le Rock‘s Peter Dennis caught up with the band’s drummer Simon Bowley for a chat….

Peter: Hi. Please introduce yourself and the band.
Simon: My name is Simon, I manage the band and play drums. Dipster plays bass, Rich plays guitar and Barrie Masters is the original vocalist.

Peter: Can you tell me about your musical journey? What was your earliest memory and what made you want to pick up an instrument?
Simon: My uncle is Steve Nicol who along with Barrie formed the band in 1975. Steve was the original drummer so my earliest memory is of them being played on the stereo and watching them on TV. I was 7 when I went to the Rainbow to watch them. I started playing drums properly at the age of 8 or 9. At the age of 13 I joined a show band and did some TV work. All through school I played in different youth bands. When I left school I formed a heavy rock band called Enigma, we were managed by my uncle and we signed to Virgin Records but unfortunately nothing happened. At the age of 26 I joined Eddie and the Hot Rods and 21 years later I’ve toured all over the world, played some of the biggest festivals and had a right good time.

Peter: What other bands were you in before the Hot Rods? How did you join the Hot Rods and how do you feel the new line up gels together?
Simon: I joined the Hot Rods as a stand-in for the guy they had at the time, the band were just doing odd shows and not taking it too seriously. I eventually got the job full-time when the band were offered a 76 date tour with Dr. Feelgood.

Peter: That whole Canvey Island scene was magical with a host of great bands. How does that whole scene compare now with then?
Simon: Dr. Feelgood kick started the whole Canvey Island scene and the music press latched onto it, a bit like the Madchester scene with Oasis. These days there are still good bands coming from the Island but unfortunately they’re stifled by the music press.

Peter: ‘Teenage Depression’ is often cited as the link between pub rock and punk rock. How do you feel about the albums legacy? Do you consider the band to be a pub or punk rock band? Neither? Or something in between?
Simon: I feel the album does have a place in history as the link between pub and punk rock. It was recorded in just a week and sounds raw and energetic. The Hot Rods were a rock band who likened themselves to bands like The MC5. They never got into the whole punk look and never liked the punk tag. Even today we are a high energy rock band with a punk twist.

Peter: You attract a wide demographic to your shows. How does it feel to see young people who weren’t even born in 1977 digging your music?
Simon: It’s great. They often come up to us and say, “My dad told me I must come and see you and I’m so glad I did.” It’s nice that we can still connect with the younger generation.

Peter: You recently toured with John Otway. What was it like touring with such an energetic performer? Were you worried that he might upstage you or did that spur you on?
Simon: It’s funny because John is actually a quiet, sensible chap off stage. No we never feel upstaged and we never go out to upstage anybody either. We appreciate that people have spent their hard earned cash coming to watch us and just try to give them a great show. We have known John for a long time and his show is very different from ours. It’s all great fun.

Peter: You’ve gigged all over the world. Where was your best reception? How to over seas crowds compare with the UK? Any new territories you’d like to play?
Simon: I think I would have to say that the USA is the best, purely because we still appeal to a younger audience over there, they are pretty crazy gigs. Foreign audiences are good. I think they appreciate that we still travel to their countries. The UK audiences are still great too. I would’ve liked to play Australia before we stop but that’s looking unlikely now as 2018 is our final farewell. We don’t generally mind who our touring partners are. I think these days the package tours of bands from the same era do very well.

Peter: The band haven’t played Northampton for a while. How do you feel that this tour is going to hit the town?
Simon: I remember visiting Northampton and The Roadmender on the Naughty Rhythms Tour back in 2000. Strange really because that one went on the ‘must visit again soon’ list. Is it 18 years already?! It was a great gig and venue. The people were really friendly and up for the gig, so were really looking forward to playing there again.

Catch Eddie & The Hot Rods on the road at…

Sat 17 Feb – Roadmender, Northampton
Fri 9 Mar – Hapenden Hall, Harpenden (w/ Department S)
Fri 13 Apr – Undercover Festival, Margate

Tickets available here.

Eddie and The Hot Rods on Facebook

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Vive Le Rock Award nominees THE PSYCHEDELIC FURS return to the UK for a handful of dates in June.

The shows mark a prompt return for the expat post-punks who played their first UK dates in several years last September. Support n all dates comes from DOCTORS OF MADNESS frontman Richard Strange.

The ‘Pretty In Pink’ hitmakers play the following dates…

Tues 12 June – O2 Academy, Leicester
Wed 13 June – Tramshed, Cardiff
Sat 16 June – O2 Academy, Liverpool

Tickets are on sale here.

The Furs are on of five nominees in the best live band category in the Vive Le Rock Awards. You can vote here.

Tickets for the the Award Ceremony at the O2 Academy, Islington, London on 28 March – including both standard and VIP packages with access to the exclusive backstage bar and aftershow – are available here.

Psychedelic Furs on Facebook


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French rock’n’roll legend Johnny Hallyday sadly passed away at the end of last year. You can read our full tribute to the great man here….


15/06/1943 – 05/12/2017

Known as the “French Elvis”, Johnny Hallyday sold more than 110 million records and was famous across generations. Although he wasn’t well known outside of the French-speaking world, he was music royalty in his homeland and was the biggest French rock ‘n’ roller ever. With a career spanning over half a century, he sadly passed away in December from lung cancer, aged 74. He released 50 studio and 29 live albums. Following his passing, French president Emmanuel Macron stated, “we will never forget the name, face, the voice or above all the concerts of Johnny Hallyday.” He later added on Twitter, “we’ve all something of Johnny in us”, a reference to Hallyday’s 1985 hit ‘Quelque chose de Tennessee’ (Something of Tennessee). France paid tribute to the man and mourned his loss, with a headline in L’Obs magazine reading “The king is dead” and the Duroc metro stop in Paris being renamed Durock Johnny.

Born Jean-Philippe Smet in Paris to a French mother and Belgian father, he was abandoned as a baby by his parents and raised by his aunt, surrounded by cabaret singers and performers. As a teenager he took to the stage, taking the name Hallyday from an American relative. At the age of 14 he saw Elvis Presley’s ‘Lovin’ You’ at the cinema which he later claimed determined the course of his life.

He briefly lived in London as a child, when the relatives who raised him were working there. He also stated that he recorded in the capital of England frequently and had some famous friends. “I was very good friends with Jimi Hendrix, I knew Mick Jagger, John Lennon. Rod Stewart is a friend. We’d all record in the different studios and meet for tea.”

Hallyday was signed to Vogue Records in late 1959 and his first was released in March 1960. The second single from that four-track EP, ‘Souvenirs Souvenirs’, which he performed on television, was his breakthrough hit. His ‘Viens Danser le Twist’ launched the transatlantic dance craze in France and his first album, the hugely successful ‘Salut les Copains’ on Philips resulted in a major tour and near-hysterical fans. President Charles de Gaulle was disgusted at the corruption of France’s youth and suggested they be drafted into road-gangs “because they clearly have too much energy to spare”.

Hallyday went from a young heartthrob who introduced France to American-styled rock ‘n’ roll in the ’60s to an ageing bad boy of French pop, wearing black leather, metal skull jewellery and rarely seen without a cigarette. His music was varied, covering everything from rock ‘n’ roll and blues to country and ballads, even though more than a quarter of his recordings were French adaptations of English language songs. However, Johnny Hallyday was best loved for his energetic and unforgettable live performances. Everything from hip-swinging and smoke and flames to being winched down into a stadium from a helicopter, he was a master performer. Over the course of more than 50 tours he played to more than 28 million people (roughly a third of the population of his homeland) and was so famous in France that Jimi Hendrix once played as his support act. His last legendary (and free) performance was on Bastille Day 2009 at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, with a live audience of between 800,000 and 1 million people.

His immense popularity led to alcohol, orgies, fights, tax scandals and fast motorbikes and cars (he walked away from a 125mph crash in his Lamborghini). He was dogged by insecurities and struggles as a result of being abandoned, going on to survive an early suicide attempt in 1966, suffer from depression, need cocaine to work and battle years of health problems. He had four marriages, and gossip magazines followed him around, even though he presented himself as a regular guy.

He wasn’t just a musician either, having acted to critical acclaim in numerous films and once for the auteur-director Jean-Luc Godard in the 1985 film ‘Détective’. Hallyday even won an award in 2003 for his role in Patrice Leconte’s ‘L’Homme du Train’. He was also personal friends with French politicians, including Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy.


Receiving a diagnosis of colon cancer in 2009, that was followed by an operation on a herniated disc resulting in him being put in a medically induced coma for three weeks. When the news broke the doctor who did the surgery was attacked in his home by a masked gang. However, Hallyday recovered and released the 2012 album ‘L’Attente’ in 2012, which resulted in his first ever gigs in the UK, at London’s legendary Royal Albert Hall. Two more followed in 2014 and 2015, as well as a 90-date tour Rester Vivant (Staying Alive) that only finished last year. Speaking of the 2012 Royal Albert Hall gigs, which he cited as his best memory on stage, he recalled, “there was a very ‘rock and roll’ atmosphere. People were getting on to the stage, like they did in the 1960s. I hadn’t seen that for some time.”
Latterly living in Los Angeles with his wife Laeticia and their two daughters, he lived the rock ‘n’ roll dream for over five decades. Rock in peace.

Check out Johnny singing ‘Laisse les Filles’ in 1960

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