Rock ‘n’ Roll Heaven In Pattaya

What a fantastic couple of weeks I have enjoyed as far as music is concerned. Firstly, I went to see Helmut and Friends at the wonderful Hemmingways in Jomtien, where the band blew me away, with some amazing cover versions of soul, blues and rock tunes.

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Helmut is a guitar maestro and handles everything from Mark Knopfler to Gary Moore. In fact, the whole band are superb and if you haven’t seen them and you are in the Pattaya area, head along to Hemmingways on a Thursday evening from 20:00 and observe an awesome band in action.

The food in the bar is rather tasty too, I hasten to add.

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However, this post is about a certain Jerry Lee Carlson from Sweden and Håkan Nelson, from the same country. The pair played four gigs in Pattaya and I was fortunate to see two of them.

Initially I ventured out to The Triangle in central Pattaya, where a large crowd gathered to enjoy the show and secondly at New Country Road Bar (NCR) in Rompho, which is located in the Rompho Complex in Jomtien area of the city.

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Many people said the event would never work in Rompho but my friend Martin asked me to promote it for him and I did just that. Firstly with posters and flyers then numerous videos supplied by Sweden’s number one rock ‘n’ roll star, Jerry.

Jerry has played all over the world, including tours of Europe with his legends show, featuring tributes to Elvis, Roy Orbison and of course Jerry Lee Lewis.

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He has recorded a number of albums, appeared on TV and radio and is simply, one of the best entertainers you will ever see.

A lot of planning and preparation went into the NCR event, hours of hard work, hiring equipment, tables, covers in case it rained, food and so much more. Was it worth it?

Damned right it was.

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NCR attracted 102 people seated, plus 16 inside the venue and approximately 40 bystanders, who watched from the sidelines, due to either a lack of seating or they were enjoying the event from another bar.

Jerry kicked off the show as always with thundering rock ‘n’ roll classics from his hero Jerry Lee Lewis. He sang the hits of Elvis, Fats Domino, Hank Williams and even did a rendition of a Robbie Williams hit, just to show his versatility.

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Rock, country, blues and boogie woogie tunes all blasted out from the venue. Håkan Nelson on drums was his usually faultless self ashe followed Jerry’s left hand to keep the tempo going.

People came from other bands to watch the gig. Local media in the form of Pattaya People were present to record video material, which will air shortly. Love Pattaya were represented too and kindly supplied the bar staffs shirts.

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Bar owners came from pubs in Pattaya and Rompho to enjoy a fantastic show.  Many people came to Rompho for the first time and hopefully they will return with other new faces for future events.

Jerry sang “Great Balls Of Fire”, “Whole Lotta Shaking”, “High School Confidential”, Hound Dog”, Bonnie B”, ” Mean Woman Blues”, “Lewis Boogie” and many more classics from the golden era of music.

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If ever there was a man born to entertain, Jerry Carlson is that man. He is a genius on a keyboard/piano and sounds identical to a certain Mr. Lewis, when the legend was in his prime.

He also does a great impression of Andy Kaufman’s fictional character Latka Gravas from the hit US sitcom “Taxi”.

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Jerry also impressed with a version of “Take Me Home Country Roads” with a “NEW” added into the lyrics, just for the bar. He sang ” Blueberry Hill” replacing Blueberry with Phratamnak to give the song a local feel about it. Phratamnak Hill is a popular area in Pattaya with tourists.

Yours truly even acted as compere for the night, introducing Jerry and Håkan. Not something that was planned, I can assure you but it’s amazing what you can be persuaded to do following a few Smirnoff Midnight’s.

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Jerry did three sets and even came back for an encore or two once he had washed the sweat from his face because it was incredible hot on Saturday evening.

Like many others, I felt disappointed when the show came to its conclusion. The guys had entertained us for a couple of hours but I would have happily listened for another two hours.

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I love rock ‘n’ roll and rockabilly, especially when it is produced to this standard. But all good things have to come to an end – till next time that is. Jerry and Håkan’s return cannot come fast enough and rumours are rife that they may return as a trio. I hope so!!

Next up NCR have Rock ‘n’ Roll Stephanie, who will feature at Martin’s birthday party. Steph, like me, is Scottish and does a fair bit of hip shakin’ during her act.

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If that event proves successful it will pave the way for further live music events at NCR, which can only help to attract visitors to the area, which in turn will benefit the many other bars and restaurants in the complex.

I happen to know a few great singers and bands in the UK, who if they ever fancied a busman’s holiday to Pattaya, could be catered for.

Ziggi – your audience awaits you 🙂

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Rock ‘n’ Roll Steph Recordings

A good friend of mine from Scotland but currently living in Pattaya, Thailand, recently went into the recording studio to produce a new tune for her many fans.

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Stephanie Quinn has been rocking around Thailand and beyond for a number of years and has in fact numerous recordings to her credit.

Steph is also a trained nurse and school teacher so has many strings to her bow.

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I photographed her at a bar in Pattaya a few months back and I am delighted to say that Steph was pretty happy with the results.

We met up recently at the Crew Bar and Cloud9 Bar in Pattaya’s Soi Buakhao area for a chat. When she informed me of her new venture into the studio, I thought I would offer her some publicity.

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Stephanie recently appeared on Sky TV (UK) and can often be heard on Rockabilly Radio, which is a popular Internet radio station for Rock ‘n’ Roll and Rockabilly fans, which runs 24 hours per day.

Want to hear Steph’s latest recording Red Alert? Simply click here to listen to her latest release.

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Red Alert was written by Steve and Heather Taylor and recorded at Oceanwave Studios in Thailand. It will be available from Amazon, Spotify, Itunes and Nimbit.

Watch Steph on the Janey Kirk TV Show (SKY TV). Click to view.

Steph is a huge fan of 1980s star Shakin’ Stevens and covers many of his and other rock ‘n’ roll legends music. Listen to her tribute to Shaky. Click here.

If you wish to hire Rock ‘n’ Roll Stephanie you can contact her via her Facebook Page here.

If you love rock ‘n’ roll music and want to keep it alive, please share this post.

Keep Music Live.

PS: The beers are on you Steph 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rockin’ In Pattaya With Jerry Lee Carlson

One of the things I miss about the UK is the gigs I used to attend, especially rock ‘n’ roll and rockabilly genres. Before departing the shores of Scotland, I was working at gigs at least five times a month and taking in many other small venues, wherever there was good live music to be found.

So when I heard about Jerry Lee Carlson’s event at The Robin Hood Tavern in Pattaya, I was swift to act upon the news.

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I contacted the bar to request permission to take photos and the stage was set.

Before heading out, I watched a couple of YouTube videos of Jerry to see what I was in store for and I was presently surprised. Not only was the music good but he was receiving rave reviews from anyone who had seen him playing live.

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So with great anticipation and excitement, I jumped in a taxi to see what the fuss was all about and whether or not would live up the hype.

I arrived early and enjoyed a meal at the bar washed down with a Tiger Light Beer. I noticed Jerry as he wandered through the bar into the lounge area, so I followed him to see if I could meet the man and maybe get an interview.

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He suggested I came back during the interval between his two sets, for he was busy with preparations for the gig. His wish was my command and so I returned to my seat to await the arrival of Mr. Carlson on stage.

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There was a slight delay in his appearance due to a few technical difficulties with the PA System, which was resolved as quickly as possibly before the show commenced.

Jerry blasted out pure rock ‘n’ roll at its very best, pounding his keyboard with almost every part of his body.

Great balls of fire, Whole lotta shakin’, Rock around the clock, Johnny B. Goode and Breathless resounded around the spacious tavern.

He worked the keyboard with rapid hands, often too fast for the eye to comprehend. He used his feet and his backside as he demonstrated he is a truly accomplished piano/keyboard player, who knew how to play to an audience.

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He had the crowd exactly where he wanted them for the man is a true showman.

between songs, he chatted away with comical remarks all to the enjoyment of those in attendance.

You can tell when an artist has his or her audience secured and under their spell, for there is no talking while they perform and the only deviation from that was an abundance of cameras recording his songs.

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I looked around and almost every table had at least one phone camera recording video footage, probably for Facebook purposes or to show their friends what they had missed.

Pattaya People were present with their TV camera, so Jerry will be on their news programme soon and there was another photographer there for the duration of his show.

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Following part one, he was true to his word and invited me through to the lounge to have a chat.

Jerry informed he hails from a small town in the south of Sweden called Landskrona, which is on the coast between Helsingborg and Malmo. However, Jerry now resides about 300 KMs north of Stockholm.

He tells me he is 32+ years of age and refused to speak any further on the subject other than to laugh.

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Jerry began his professional career back in 1996 and has continued to belt out rock ‘n’ roll, country, boogie woogie and blues ever since.

Despite having performed in Italy, Spain, America and of course Thailand to name a few countries, he has yet to make an appearance in the UK. So if any of my friends who promote rock ‘n’ roll shows around the country fancy bringing an amazing performer over to the UK, give Jerry a call. He would love to do a tour of Scotland, England Ireland and Wales.

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He is aware that there is a huge interest in rock ‘n’ roll in the UK so get booking folks.

The rocker is in Pattaya for fourteen days performing a handful of gigs around the city. I for one will be attending at least one more, two if I can manage along.

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He is heavily influenced by the legend that is Jerry Lee Lewis but told me, like his idol, he also covers a lot of other artists such as Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Bill Haley, Chuck Berry and many others.

Growing up in Sweden he was inspired by people like Pete Johnson, a boogie woogie, blues and jazz pianist from Kansas City, USA and Fats Domino amongst a number of other piano players from that era.

I mentioned that there were a number of really good boogie woogie pianists from Europe. He said “I doubt it very much.”

He quickly followed with “There is one very good one I know of.”

“What is his name?” I asked.

“Jerry……. Jerry Carlson” as he burst into laughter.

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He continued “I am not being big headed. I am just having a laugh with you, a bit of humour.” This was evident throughout the evening both on and off stage.

I mentioned the failure of the PA System before his first set commenced. He confessed it was a regular occurrence when he is relying on equipment supplied by another band or third party.  One of the pitfalls of travelling the globe I guess.

Jerry prefers playing with a band behind him but it is not always possible due to the expense involved or lack of musicians being available. Personally I would love to see him with a good four or five piece group backing him.

Jerry returned to do his second set to an excited audience, who thoroughly enjoyed his show.

After the event, he was happy to mingle amongst people, conversing wherever he was invited to do so, stop for photos and enjoy the rest of the evening’s entertainment.

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I found the Jerry to be an excellent entertainer, a talent musician and a friendly, humorous man.

If you haven’t seen him play, watch out for him. He is well worth making the effort to go and see.

The second act of the night was a trio called “Rose and Thorn” who were brilliant too. Jerry Lee had them rocking before this trio followed him with some classic rock and dance hits.

Congratulations to The Robin Hood Tavern for giving Pattaya exactly what it requires – an excellent music venue with some top entertainers.

More live music please 🙂

Videos of Jerry Carlson live

Jerry Lee Carlson Live Click to view

Jerry Lee Carlson Legends Show Click to view

World’s fastest boogie woogie player Click to view

Jerry singing Roll Over Beethoven and Whole Lotta Shakin’ Click to View

I saw her standing there Click to view

High School Confidential Click to view

 

 

Concerts How I Miss Them

One of my favourite aspects of photography is live events such as concerts and gigs or to be fair, anything that involves working with people.

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That may include studio, sports, streetwork, I have no preference to be honest as long as I have interaction with the human race.
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I was given an introduction to covering gigs when I was asked if I would like to attend “The Battle Of The Bands” in Glasgow and having never ventured into the realm of live music previously, I considered it to be a fantastic opportunity that may well open doors along with other avenues to explore.

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The main problem I soon discovered was lighting or lack of it. Many smaller venues have poor illumination available, probably because of the cost of installation and having an experience lighting engineer to hand when bands are on stage.

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I soon found out that expensive lenses and cameras were required and in the worst scenarios, I would have to resort to using flash, which I personally abhor at concerts. Flash is often unwelcomed by the artists on stage too, as they find it distracting or blinding as the bright light leaves them visually impaired for a short time, if directed straight at them. It is always desirable to bounce the flash whenever possible for this reason, should you have to use it at all.

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The event had seven acts, who if memory serves me correctly were vying for a place in the final, which was to be held a few weeks later.

My first impression was they were some pretty talented and unique people on show, which was not what I was expecting. It had been some time since I last attended a live show of any nature other than your Friday or Saturday night tribute and covers bands, who often provide excellent entertainment but are never going to break into the big time. No disrespect to these acts for they provide wonderful entertainment and value for money and keep music live around our pubs and clubs. We require clubs to provide us with live music and without them, we would not have enjoyed the likes of the Beatles and many other legends of the 60s and 70s especially.

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As more opportunities were presented to me, I soon discovered there was a wealth of talent around the UK, which was untapped mainly due to TV dross such as the X Factor. These bands I was seeing were real musicians, lads and lassies who could perform in front of a live audience without putting a sob story out to gain popularity before they donned the stage.

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Some were youngsters with huge potential and fine tuning their art, others had been trying for years to make the breakthrough but enjoyed what they do, so keep plugging away in the hope that their big day will come.

A band called the Trips stole the show that inaugural night and are featured in my opening images.

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The photos are not in order of the times the events/concerts occurred but more of an arrangement that I discovered them amongst the thousands in my collection. For instance I attended many rock ‘n’ roll and rockabilly gigs, where dancers and colourful dresses could be seen in abundance. Jivers who would entertain you in their own right. Some old, some very young, as young as 10 years old and as elderly as 70 plus. There is no restriction when it comes to dancing other than physical fitness.

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When you add wonderful rocking music to the skills on the dancefloor, you have a superb night out for all in attendance and a photographers dream.

I covered many gigs which featured bands from punk rock to country and western, from rock to ska and even blue grass. I find that when I attend a live musical offering, it is very rewarding if those on stage are talented and I have been very lucky in that respect. Rarely have I been to a gig where the bands were complete dross.

Even if it was not my type of music, I still enjoyed the occasion because they were good at what they did. Talent will always win over the sceptics.

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Take Rusti Steel and the Startones pictured above. Their brand of music was not what I would describe as something that I would aspire to go and see but a free invitation is never going to be turned down, especially when I can get the camera working.

To my amazement, I thoroughly enjoyed their renditions of songs I knew and many I had never heard before. They described themselves as authentic rockabilly, western swing, hillbilly and blues musicians but I would say they are all of these but only touching on rockabilly, hence I was apprehensive before they appeared on stage. Like I said, they were phenomenal and brought the house down. Go and see them if you have the chance.

Another band of similar ilk that will blow your mind with their skills are the Hot Shot Four. Multi-instrumentalists each and every one of them.

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There are always DJs present at these rockabilly type gigs, many pride themselves on only playing original vinyl recordings. Personally I don’t mind if its an MP3, a CD or a Record as long as the music is good to listen to or it gets people on the dancefloor.

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Along the road I was asked if I would attend a charity gig in Glasgow featuring four punk rock bands. Now this was far removed from my knowledge of punk rock and if the truth be told, I don’t think I recognised a single tune.

Nevertheless the bands were once again – superb. One in particular stood out from other others – Jock Sparra. Not because they were superior as musicians or sang more in tune but because the lead singer was to put it bluntly – a head case!

This man was Mr. Entertainment. He was like the Freddie Mercury of punk rock. His long spiky hair, the fact that he was dressed in a kilt and spoke with a broad Scottish accent and more importantly, his interaction with his audience, had to be seen to be believed.

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He came down on to the dancefloor and got involved in the mosh pit, pushing, shoving, dragging people around in mock battles of supremacy. The crowd loved it and joined in, retaliating to the point that it looked like a punch up could ensue but that was never going to be the case the case. A high tension atmosphere controlled by the man in the middle with the microphone. I never did catch his name but according to Facebook he goes by the name of Pablo. A genius at working an audience.

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I continued to travel around Glasgow and its surrounding neighbourhood to watch and photograph other live bands, mainly rockabilly, which is my favourite music genre.

I was treated to spectacular shows from those who have been around the block to the new upstarts making their way into the performance trade. They came from as far away as Australia and as near as Glasgow itself.

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The Tennessee Hotshots, The Revolutionaires, Cow Cow Boogie, Esperanza, Strange Blue Dream, The Atmospherics, Roddy Radiation, The Trips, Death To Indie, The Kicks, The Shiverin’ Sheiks, MaryJean Lewis, Emma and the Ragmen, The Lost Rockers, The Fuck Ups, Jack Rabbit Slim, The Groove Diggers, Mitch Humphrys and the Hot Shot Four, The Hot Rod Sinners, The Valvetones to name some but not all of the bands I have worked with.

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Of course I will apologise to those I have not mentioned above but my memory is not what it used to be but each and every band or artist that I had the pleasure to work with will always be in my heart. It was an honour to be associated with such talent. I Have not included the bands that I photographed in bars, for that would take up a post on its own.

I have plied my trade at some awesome venues in my travels around the UK including many of the o2 venues, such as Manchester, Newcastle, Warrington and Glasgow. I took great satisfaction of photographing the Sex Pissed Dolls at the Blackpool Tower Ballroom. The Grand Ole Opry in Glasgow was another favourite of mine and the many smaller clubs and halls that hosted live music. Towns and cities such as Kendal, Preston, Durham and Edinburgh, Blackpool, St. Annes were visited but there could have been so many more, had the financial rewards been in place.

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Now as most of you who read this dross will know, I now live in Thailand and at present I have no intention of returning and leaving my new home. But if there was one thing that could attract me back to the UK, it would to work in the world of music and stage, in a paid capacity I hasten to add.

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I miss my music, and taking bands, singers or dancers into the studio. I would dearly love to work at this level or above and if that meant returning to the UK then sobeit.

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Now arguably the biggest or best known band that I worked with was an all female punk rock band known as the Sex Pissed Dolls, their name being a play on the original punk band featuring Johnny Rotten, The Sex Pistols. They have a huge following considering they are mainly a tribute or covers band. Putting this lot together was genius but I don’t believe anyone associated with the band, would have foreseen the success they would enjoy before the first note was played.

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I contacted the band having seen a video of them singing Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” but in a Sid Vicious style. I asked if I could be permitted to take photos at their planned show in Edinburgh a few weeks later and to my amazement, I was invited along after sending some sample images.

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Unfortunately that gig was cancelled but I was asked if I wished to attend their first major gig at The Layton Institute in Blackpool. Of course I said yes because I saw it as a window opportunity.

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I arrived in Blackpool a day ahead so I could plan the shoot in more detail. I discovered to my delight that there were four other bands on show. The Cobras, Roddy Radiation of the Specials, who were a huge Ska act in the late 70s and early 80s, The Atmospherics and of course the Dolls.

The Cobras opened the show and did a variety of cover songs, before the legendary Roddy Radiation came on stage, just him and a guitar.

Then we were treated to some class. A bunch of boys from Blackpool entered the arena and blew the audience away with not only covers but many of their own songs. These youngsters have gone on to make recordings of their own material, play more frequently at large venues and even appeared on BBC radio. Watch out for them, they will make a huge impact one day.

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At first, having never seen the Dolls before, I was concerned for them, that maybe they could not follow the Atmospherics. However I had nothing to worry about. The girls came out on stage one at a time, each one receiving a massive round of applause and roars, mainly due to their chosen attire. Five stunning ladies with odd names such as Nancy Doll, Kitty Vacant, Connie Rotter, Jily Idol and Anna Key, all plays on punk rock songs or singers.

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The audience went wild and I realised my gamble travelling to Blackpool was going to be worth it.

It was sexy. It was raunchy. It was dirty. It was edgy. It had the lot! They strutted about the stage in an alluring fashion, teasing the audience with suggestive moves. Their clothing, whilst revealing was not overly tarty as the girls wanted to be known as musicians first and foremost but I doubt if the audience cared a jot.

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Sheena is a punk rocker, Anarchy in the UK, God save the Queen, I predict a riot and many more anthems blasted out as the mosh pit went wild with anticipation of every song.

Whilst the girls are all accomplished musicians, it was the antics of the provocative and talented singer Nancy Doll that truly captured the auditorium, which hosted around 400 people.

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The sound was extraordinary from an all girl, unknown band and enhanced by colourful lighting, which added to this spectacular show. The girls brought the house down and so began for many, a trip back in time to their youth. Many of the fans that night have attended almost every gig the Sex Pissed Dolls have played, covering almost every corner of the UK and even the Isle of Wight.

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I attended eight or nine, traveling around the midlands of England and my home country of Scotland.

Despite numerous changes in line up, they appear to get stronger with every gig. The fans base expands on a daily basis and the size and importance of their venues and gigs grows, and seems to know no bounds.

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How long they can last for is anyone’s guess. They have replaced the drummer on three occasions, lead and rhythm guitarists have come and gone but the core of the bass player and vocalist remain. The nucleus of the band is without a shadow of a doubt Nancy Doll. When she hangs up the microphone, there surely can be no more SPD. She also does an impressive Amy Winehouse tribute.

How about the Sex Pissed Dolls live in Pattaya? Now that would be awesome. There are plenty of expats living here who would love to see a raunchy all girl punk band and most Asian nations adore punk and rock ‘n’ roll.

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I will leave you with two of my favourite photos from my time covering gigs in the UK. The second from last is of the Death To Indie drummer, who was a complete and utter nut job and I mean that in the kindest possible way. I could have trained my camera on this man all night if time was afforded to me. A true star who put on a strange but wonderful display of drumming and foolery.

The last image is one I took on the spur of the moment. I noticed the Sex Pissed Dolls roadie working tirelessly setting up the stage, and the way the lighting was hitting him or lack of it I should say, provided a silhouette of the man, that is Nige Bethwaite. A gentlemen and like many roadies go unnoticed by the audience, for their work is carried out before and after the events. This picture is a tribute to him and all roadies across the world.