Saturday, 27 July 2013

Mike Heron & the Trembling Bells at Exeter Phoenix

A week ago we ventured out reluctantly (given the temperatures) to see Mike Heron and the Trembling Bells at Exeter Phoenix. It had been billed as a standing gig, so we were relieved to find that the venue had actually been laid out with tables & chairs and that the evening was not going to be a repeat of the Johnny Marr sweat-bath a week or so earlier. I must admit that I wasn't familiar with the Trembling Bells and that my knowledge of Mike Heron really dated from Changing Horses - an album recorded after Heron and Williamson had given up drugs and converted to scientology which, unsurprisingly, was not regarded as one of the Incredible String Band's best.

However, from the moment that they took the stage we could see that we were in for a good night. Although most of the Mike Heron songs predated my String Band days, his unique delivery was unmistakeable and the arrangement of the songs by the drummer, Alex Neilson, was appropriately hippyish, with plenty of percussive and other folky effects. As luck would have it we found ourselves sitting next to Deb and Jez Winship. Jez has done a brilliant review of the gig on his blog Sparks in Electrical Jelly which traces the origins of many of the songs to relevant String Band albums and also fills in with information about the Trembling Bells material. So rather than try to top that (as if I could) I have just posted below a selection of photographs from the evening:

I've just looked back at my blog and it was April 2012  when we saw John Renbourn & Robin Williamson at the Phoenix. That gig was a bit disappointing (although Renbourn's guitar playing was masterful) and as a result I never posted any photos - but I may get around to doing that soon. Suffice it to say that Mike Heron and the Trembling Bells provided a far more satisfying evening and I will be looking out some of those older String Band albums that Jez mentions in his review, as well as investigating the recorded output of the Bells. To finish up, here is a taste of Mike Heron and the Trembling Bells doing Log Cabin Home in the Sky at the Hyde Park Picture House:


  1. I remember my own art college days so well.... Incredible String Band...."How sweet to be a cloud, floating in the blue...."

  2. Hi there - My own university career was shorter than most, so my ISB memories are incomplete - but I'm catching up now that I'm back at college! By the way, I follow your Euro crime posts with great interest but I'm always doing something else when I watch TV, missing the subtitles and losing the plot ... so I'm planning to try out your audio route instead

    1. I'm glad you follow my criminal thoughts... I review books for a website so for me the audio route provides alternative books (of my own choice). Also good when one has a headache and can't squint. For painting, making things, ironing or sitting in waiting rooms. No good for listening in fall asleep and no idea where you are in the book two hours later!!
      Hope that college thing is going well.

  3. A great spread of photos. I think that spotlight at the back was the one which kept sweeping over me, until I shuffled back into the shadows. Thanks for the kind words and links over to my review.