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Grow up, Roger Daltrey – ‘pub bands’ gave us Britain’s greatest rockers

Our singer Ian Whiteling was recently quoted in this Daily Telegraph article about bands playing in pubs…

Not only are The Rolling Stones not ‘mediocre’, but many a great band has begun in the pub – including none other than The Who.

It’s only rock ’n’ roll… but some people don’t like it. As the Rolling Stones continue their long No Filter tour of America, the veteran rockers have been receiving little jabs of criticism from their peers. First, Paul McCartney called the Stones a “blues covers band” and suggested that The Beatles’ musical net was “cast a bit wider than theirs”. And now The Who’s Roger Daltrey has described Mick Jagger and co as “a mediocre pub band”.

Speaking to Amazon’s Coda Collection channel, Daltrey said that Jagger is “the number one rock ’n’ roll showman up front”, comparable to James Brown and Little Richard. Yet he added: “But as a band, if you were outside a pub and you heard that music coming out of a pub some nights, you’d think, ‘Well, that’s a mediocre pub band!’ No disrespect.”

I’m sure the comments are just good-natured joshing between septuagenarian rock-stars, perhaps with a few sour grapes for good measure. But they’ve raised the hackles of people who make money and entertain punters by being in actual pub bands. What’s wrong with the pub circuit? These small venues, and the thousands of musicians who cram onto their sticky-Voored stages on a nightly basis, are the beating heart of the live-music ecosystem. You dismiss them at your peril.

Ian Whiteling is the singer and guitar player with Near Death Experience, a psychedelic rock and soul band based in Ealing, the west London district where the Stones cut their teeth. Like the Stones, NDX – as they’re known – have played Glastonbury, albeit in the on-site Bimble Inn pub, rather than on the Pyramid Stage.

“I think that it is ridiculous snobbery,” says Whiteling. “Roger Daltrey should know better.” Besides, he adds: “Is there a better band out there than The Rolling Stones, if you really think about it?”
Whiteling describes pubs as “the lifeblood of music”, and says that the success of music and boozers are often interconnected. “There is a symbiotic relationship between original music and pubs, because pubs help bands build audiences. And bands helps publicans give something di[erent and something more entertaining and exciting to their customers.”

Almost every band starts out in a pub, including – in the early 1960s – a certain “jazz and jive” group called The Detours, who changed their drummer and their name to become… The Who. Mark Davyd, the chief executive of the Music Venue Trust, which represents the country’s live venues, underlines the importance that pubs play in bands’ development.

“Famous pub bands,” he tells me, “include The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Jam, Arctic Monkeys and Coldplay, all of whom played pubs with little PAs, small stages and tiny audiences, before moving into the formal live circuit where dedicated audiences pay good money to see songs written by the artist themselves.”

The Arctic Monkeys, as Davyd mentions, were paid just £27 for their drst live performance at the Grapes Pub in Sheeeld in 2003, where they played a cover of The Undertones’ Teenage Kicks. There are many more. Adele played one of her drst gigs at a small west London bar called Cherry Jam. Ed Sheeran played a gig at The Bedford in Balham (and released a live album of the show). Iron Maiden began at the Cart and Horses near Stratford. The entire punk movement started in pubs.

“It’s standard to learn your craft by playing covers for cash in your local boozer,” says Davyd. “It’s good practice, gives you conddence, and brings in some much- needed cash. Perhaps Roger Daltrey has forgotten his days honking trad jazz numbers on the trombone at the White Hart Hotel in Acton, or his days performing Beatles and Rolling Stones covers at a wedding reception at the Millet Arms, Perivale?”
Whiteling points out that purpose-built music venues – those smaller than the Brixton Academies or Shepherd’s Bush Empires of this world – tend to get no passing trade if a non-famous band is playing. Pubs, however, give bands an audience that hasn’t necessarily heard them before, but is in the main ready to be won over.

So pub bands are vital. But even if the Stones’ music did, as Daltrey and McCartney suggest, occasionally sound like the pub blues that you can hear in Red Lions and Royal Oaks up and down the country, the band have one element that you certainly won’t see down your local boozer: stadium-sized theatricality. Few acts in the world today put on live shows like the Stones, something that McCartney and Daltrey readily admit. Nowadays, all big stadium tours have vast screens, walkways and pyrotechnics.

But take a look at YouTube footage from the Stones’ 1989 Steel Wheels tour to see the scale of their showmanship and extent of their ambition. The tour was the most dnancially successful in history up to that point, and it marked the beginning of the band’s commercial comeback. Thirty years on, the Steel Wheel stage set still takes the breath away. The multi-level, smoke-spewing colossus spanned the width of the stadia in which the band played. The vision needed to create a live music extravaganza of that magnitude – and at a time when much of the modern touring infrastructure was yet to be invented – was immense. You don’t get that in the Dog and Duck.

I have some personal experience of standing outside a building and hearing the Stones play. Back in 2018, they secretly rented a small theatre close to my house in south London for rehearsals for the opening leg of the tour they’re still on. Standing on the pavement as, behind me, oblivious dog-walkers strolled by, I spent hours listening to Jagger, Richards, Wood and Watts – sadly, no longer with us – as they and their touring band run through Angie, Shine a Light, Bitch and more on the other side of the wall.

Shorn of any visuals, of any ‘show’, the songs still sounded fantastic. A touch muned, perhaps – but “mediocre”, as Daltrey suggests? He’s talking utter nonsense. “No disrespect.”

NDX believe in the rhythm in slow burning new single ‘Religion’

Near Death Experience (NDX) kick start the summer with the release of new single
‘Religion’
– a brooding, steamy, grooving slice of addictive rock’n’soul that
builds from throbbing bass to guitar-screaming crescendo via a soulful chorus that’s
so infectious you’ll never shake it off – even if you’ve been double vaccinated.    

The religion in this case is the rhythm, which singer Ian Whiteling preaches like an
evangelical clergyman, drawing you in with a velvet growl that builds to a climax in the chorus where he demands: “I’m a believer, believe in me!”

Guitarist Bill Marten counters Whiteling’s chorus melody beautifully with a lead line
that’s straight out of the glam 70s. NDX also wear their influences on their sleeve with
a series of rising horn passages that ramp up the tension in psychedelic soul fashion
before the chorus hits. 

Meanwhile, the funky drumming and Moroder-esque bass line, delivered by Amar
Grover, wrap ‘Religion’ in a delicious warm groove, that continues to drive the song
forward towards its thrilling climax of rising guitars and howling vocals. The rhythm is
indeed the king!  

Watch the ‘Religion’ video

Download song files, images and more at the ‘Religion’ EPK portal bit.ly/NDXReligionEPK

Filthy, groovy and funky psychedelic soul pop!

How our January 2021 single ‘Everything’ has been received by the music bloggers…

Less than 1k followers

“A smooth psychedelic throwback that’s perfectly fine being around in 2021. It’s this just-post-Woodstock funky groove with matching vocals from Ian that makes it really unique in this modern day and age.”

Talk About Pop Music

“London based band Near Death Experience ‘roll’ into 2021 with their brilliant new single, which blends strong, powerful vocals with a laid back rhythmic backing track that combines the very best of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s for a great all round sound.”

Edgar Allen Poets

“This song is titled ‘Everything’ and you can really tell that it has everything. A fascinating song in the classic style of this band, it gives you great energy to take on the day ahead. It makes you feel really good.”

Fruitsonic

“Everything” shows off the intrepid skill of Near Death Experience (NDX) in crafting a sprawling universe that feels uniquely their own. A mixture of old and new styles filters into the mix giving it a timelessness. There is a tremendous spirit behind the performance as it all swirls and churns about in a cyclical, hypnotic trance like state.”

Music for the Misfits

“A combination of funky drums, a laid back attitude towards perfection, screaming guitar lines and soaring, catchy vocals with a chorus that is so easy to sing along to that it is impossible to resist make Near Death Experience’s new single an amazing new release!”

“Filthy, groovy and funky psychedelic soul pop!”

NDX dial up the psychedelic soul for funky new single ‘Everything’

Near Death Experience (NDX) kick off 2021 with the release of new single ‘Everything’ – an irresistible slice of funky psychedelic soul dripping with their now trademark layered guitars, grooving rhythm section and infectious melodies delivered in singer Ian Whiteling’s warm, growling croon.    

The song opens with Mike Sarjeant’s uniquely funky drumming, laid back to
perfection, before Bill Marten’s screaming lead guitar heralds a soaring singalong refrain. After this builds to a shuddering climax, the song drops back to the slow sparse groove of the verse, driven by Amar Grover’s uber cool bass line. 

Whiteling’s neo-cosmic lyrics tell the story of an encounter that takes him higher than ever before. It sets his spirit free and opens the doors to unlimited possibilities, yet is ultimately inescapable, giving this uplifting song a mysterious dark undercurrent. This is emphasised by the hypnotic chorus where “every single step I take leads me back to you”.

Closing with the opening refrain that drops once more into Sarjeant’s laid back beats
before taking off in a whirlwind of funky wah-wah guitar, Everything’s clever arrangement leaves us desperate for more. A craving that will be satisfied on NDX’s forthcoming album featuring the full-length version of the song. 

Listen and follow on Spotify 

More news…

A rare gem of a Christmas song

Praise for our Christmas 2020 single ‘Lord’ from the music blogger community… (see what we did there?)

The Edgar Allan Poets

“Music that makes you fly. The choirs are fantastic and manage to take the choruses to another level by making you explore heights you are not used to.”

FVBlog

“‘Lord’ is the magnificent indie-rock single by NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCE (NDX). A must-hear release this Christmas.”

Subba Cultcha

“A rare gem of a Christmas song, Lord confirms NDX as real contenders on the soulful, funky indie rock scene.”

Music News

“Lord is a modern-day spiritual that evolves into a rousing choral anthem.”

NDX deliver a rousing modern-day spiritual for a COVID Christmas

Near Death Experience (NDX) present Lord – their third soulful, uplifting single in six months – to help offset pandemic gloom. Opening with driving acoustic guitar and a beautiful chiming electric lead line, Lord is a modern-day spiritual that evolves into a rousing choral anthem, appealing to the world’s innate spirit to shine for the good of all.

Always humbled to call the beautifully restored St Mary’s Church in Ealing their rehearsal home, little did the band know that it would gift them a Christmas classic. Searching for words to lay over a new chord run the band had started jamming, singer Ian Whiteling began singing through an old order of service left open on the lectern. With a few tweaks, Lord was born.

The low register verse and soaring chorus display Whiteling’s impressive range, with Bill Marten hypnotising with his warm wandering lead guitar. Meanwhile, NDX rhythm section – bassist Amar Grover and drumsmith Mike Sarjeant – wrap Lord in an irresistible slow groove that guides the song to a climactic organ-filled crescendo. All in all a very merry NDXmas!

More news…

Leaves us itching to hit replay to get another fix!

How music bloggers are getting their groove on to our August 2020 single Moves…

From Sophia With Love…

“‘Moves’ is a soundtrack for the summer. It is an indie gem with contagious melodies. Cling to it for dear life!”

Breaking and Entering

“It is hard not to find yourself moving to Moves’ infectious beat and nail-biting rhythm. NDX prove that they have enormous strength musically, it is almost like the group were born to come together to make music. Overall, a top-class rock hit.”

That Blogger

“Infectious and hard-hitting. Leaves us itching to hit replay to get another fix.”

Music Notion

“Refreshing to hear a band bring back a sound which was popular decades previous, but also add a contemporary hook which makes it stand out in the modern music fuss. Very melodic, warm and captivating.”

All I Need Is Music

“An exquisite rock piece relevant to modern times and delivers one of the biggest and artistic climaxes to an indie track.”

Listen to Moves on Spotify…

Check out the Moves video…

The feelgood track we all need right now!

Find out how we ‘Conquer’-ed the music blogger scene with our May 2020 single…

Subba Cultcha

“‘Conquer’ is the feel-good and uplifting track we all need right about now.”

7th Level Music

“Killer guitar hooks and a sublime vocal.”

The Musical Hype

“Colossal! One thing is for sure, the band came, they saw, and they conquered.”

Is This Music?

“Fancy listening to something which is going to brighten your day and get your body pumping in no time? The rhythm section could even get your granny, tapping her foot. Musically, they are in top form.”

Listen to Conquer on Spotify…

Watch the Conquer video…

The Psychedelic Collection…

In case you hadn’t already guessed it, the psychedelic Sixties are a major influence on the NDX sound, along with soul, funk and garage rock. In a tribute to the psychedelic era, our bass player Amar ‘The Groovemeister’ Grover has developed some striking versions of an image shot at one of London’s most iconic venue The Fiddler’s Elbow last year.

Liberally wielding digital photo effects, he’s created a short burst of vibrant – almost – blinding pictures, which you can find on our Facebook page.

Simply click here to check them out…

 

The best songs from teen movies

Whether you’re old enough to remember them or not, the classic teen movies of the 1980s are worth checking out – if only for the fashion and, of course, the music!

Led by US director John Hughes, they launched a genre that has proved enduring ever since. Arguably the original and best was The Breakfast Club soundtracked with the classic Simple Minds anthem Don’t You Forget About Me. Although the band we’re about to venture beyond their sell-by date, this remains a great song and sets the scene for what is a masterful coming-of-age flick.

Brat packers Emilio Estevez, Molly Ringwald, Ally Sheedy, Judd Nelson and Anthony Michael Hall led the cast and proved to be a blueprint for what followed.

(Re) Discover the best sounds that brought these movies alive with the Guardian’s take on the best songs from teen movies below. Which are your favourites?

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/mar/15/the-best-songs-from-teen-movies-ranked?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other