Reviews – Live

MPH – Prestige and Performance Motor Show 2009

14th November 2009
The NEC, Birmingham 

If I could have anything to start this review off it would have to be the Top Gear theme tune, but as you are reading this and not listening to it I’ll have to settle for the next best thing… Telling you how many sweeties I wanted in that sweet shop.

The MPH show for anyone who is unsure is all about showing off those cars that you’d buy without batting an eye lid “when you win the lottery”. Sure enough they didn’t fail to impress as there were many rare and unique cars to be seen such as Aerial, Aston Martin, Caparo, Ferrari, Jaguar, Koenigsegg, Lamborghini, Lotus, Maserati, Porsche and Pagani.

At this point I would like to point out how hard it is not to touch something that says “please do not touch”. I felt like a fly that was attracted to a bright light.

There were two breathtaking star attractions that made an appearance – Citroen DS3 and Peugeot RCZ Coupé. The Citroen was having it’s UK premiere, and is also one of 3 models from the new distinctive product range. It’s not available to buy until 2010, and is designed for the style-conscious urban individual.

The Peugeot RCZ Coupé however was seen at the show for the first time ever in the UK. It’s one of a long line of coupé’s to be produced, from which date back to the 1930’s.

Make of this what you will, I had already decided where my lottery winnings were going – Vauxhall Bathurst S. See for yourself here: What was also more invigorating about this car that was right in front of my eyes was that it was exactly the same one that was driven by Hammond.

One of the parts that I always enjoy watching on Top Gear is the part when the celebrities come on and you find out what cars they’ve owned and are currently driving. There was one in particular that made a scene at the show, which was a black Ferrari Enzo that is owned by the singer Jamiroquai. I’m not a huge fan of Ferrari, but this was one hot car. Black is certainly the best choice of colour for a sports car, but I enjoy the finer details on a car, and even just looking at the callipers and the wheels did it for me.

As I head out from the exhibition I get handed a programme with a booklet, which quickly becomes the second car that I will also buy when I win the lottery – Nissan GTR. I have to say that Nissan have really produced a number of nice cars recently, including the 350Z, and no persuasion will be needed.


The Classic Motor Show 2009

14th November 2009
The NEC, Birmingham

I am personally a classic car enthusiast, although more known as a VW Beetle anorak. I have owned 4 of them now and even though I haven’t owned another classic car apart from a VW, my interest and knowledge has spread to many other classics and I was thoroughly excited at what I was going to see today.

As soon as we head into the NEC, we grab our press passes and head straight for the exhibition. We were greeted by Vauxhall’s, MG’s, Bentleys and even some old motorbikes, but the first car that caught all our eyes was a 1958 356 Porsche. It was beyond stunning and in fantastic condition, and in a lovely Turkish red colour. It weighed just 846kg and had a top speed of 134mph. For me they really are King of the Porsche family, and one the nicest classic Porsches’ you could buy.

We move on and it’s not long before something else catches my eye – an Alvis. If I was honest, it wasn’t actually the car itself that made me stop; it was what was on the front of it. It had an eagle on the bonnet, which is a Louis Lejeune design. Louis is famous for his bronze creations, and has even produced custom mascots for The Queen and Prince Charles. Needless to say the owner of the Alvis took the mascot home every night, and who could blame him. It really was the nicest bonnet mascot I’d ever seen.

I carry on looking round and I’m impressed by what I’m seeing. There are two things that most car owners are interested in: 1, a nice looking car, and 2, speed. Although not necessarily at the same time, but it was apparent today, and I was surprised that the owners still had use of their arms after seeing how shiny most of the cars were.

Carrying on and although we’re only halfway through we’ve already seen many cars such as Porsche, Rolls Royce, Bentley, Ford, MG, Jaguar, Jensen, Chevrolet, Ferrari, Mercedes and Aston Martin.

We were stopped dead in our tracks, again. It was a 1988 AC Cobra, and we drooled, lots. The guy who currently owns her, Dallas Poley, originally took her in 2 years ago to do restoration work for the previous owner. It was requested that she was updated to a 1960’s period, so she went from a Volvo blue colour to black, with a kidney red interior. Although this car is not the lightweight version, the dash board from a lightweight was fitted in, which then was followed by many custom made creations. Such as the 3” exhausts each side, the rear lights that were taken from a MK1, of which the bottom flashes orange when you indicate and red when you break, and they can also work at the same time. There is also a custom made indicator stalk, which has now been made into 1 stalk to give it a more classic look. She is rolling on 15” rears and the tyres had to be imported from America. To top it all off she is packing a 5 litre stage 3 engine, with a 5 speed gear box. The car is now up for sale, along with many other restorations that have been completed by Dalas Poley, Clinton and Jonny Haigh. More information can be seen here:

At this point we are now working up an appetite, and it’s not just to head out a burn rubber. We head for some food. As we do so we sit and look through the programme, at which point we only just realise that there isn’t just 1 hall to the exhibition, there’s 4. We eat faster and head back for some more.

Just when I think I’ve worked up enough adrenaline from the cars I’ve seen so far, it just started to rise again. What was in front of me? It was in fact the Jaguar XKR. But not just any Jaguar XKR, no. It was in fact the one that was driven by James Bond villain Zao in Die Another Day. I couldn’t contain my excitement when I realised I was able to sit in it and have my photo taken. Why is it that it’s always the bad guys that get the nicest cars in films?!

We carry on around the rest of the show, with Hunter and Matt still feeling as snappy happy as when we first walked through the door. There truly were some real classics to be seen, and of which all the owners were proud of. So they should be too, because any car owner will tell you what a money pit owning a car is, but when you have such interest, love and passion it really doesn’t matter. Not only is it nice to see cars that have been saved from the dreaded scrapper, but it’s nice to see that hardly any cars go down in history as extinct.

As we carry on swimming through the masses of shiny cars there’s one in particular that catches my eye. It was indeed another Porsche, but this one had racing stripes on it, used tyres and an oily engine. As a previous classic car owner you wouldn’t believe how happy I felt seeing a car doing what it was intended for, being driven. I fully respect those who like to keep their restorations under cover until the show seasons starts, and understand why they would cry at the sight on rain dropping on their vehicle, but at the same time for me it’s like keeping a toy in its box forever. There’s no need, let the damn thing breathe. The owner, John who has owned the car for a year and a half admitted to not doing anything to it since owning it apart from buying new tyres and driving it. I told him about the classics that I had owned, and once he started telling me about his, it must have been the excitement in my face that shown him how much I wanted to sit in his car. The one bit of advice that always sticks in my mind that was given to me when buying my first car was that you need to sit behind the wheel of it to realise how much you want it. I sat there, and I wanted. Even though there was no way I could move the seats forward, as they were bolted down I was still able to get a nice feel for being behind the wheel of that car. John, if you’re reading this – Thank you!

Music Live 2008

Saturday 8th November 2008
The NEC, Birmingham

Finally it’s arrived – the long awaited Music Live 2008 show. One of the premier “expos” for musicians from around the UK, with live music, and all of the major companies exhibiting there, complete with clinics and seminars.

We eagerly make our way into the NEC and find our way to the press office to get our passes as we are gained entry an hour before the general public, which is great opportunity for us to get what we want before the crowds. As we are arrive we await Alison’s arrival so we can collect our passes. We have to wait 15 minutes, and I have to try and calm Hunter ( down just like you do when your dog sees the postman. We were given our passes and we head off in search of guitars, bands and “items of interest!”

Just as we walked through the door into the cavernous halls, I decide that a good place to start is to get my camera out its bag, but by this point all I hear is “Oooo Fair Deal Music are here”. We have now been here approximately 15 minutes and its probably the biggest impulse buy I’ve ever seen as Hunter hands over cash in return for a white Ibanez RG350DX. It’s now time to start working.

We wanted to get an interview or two with some of the acts, and as there are different acts on the main stage over the three days we were pretty much spoilt for choice. I spotted that the Chairmen were playing on the main stage and decided they would be great to interview as they are a Leicester band (from Hinckley) and I had already seen them live before and knew how impressive they would be. I had spoken to a friend of mine before who knew a lot more about the band than me to get a bit more information and as he had also mentioned to me that they won the Surface unsigned act this year, I walk past the Surface stall. I had all the information I needed.

As we were walking around the event there were different acts playing at different stalls, and as we walk towards the Gibson tour bus we spot the Gibson stage that is quite impressive as it stood out from a lot of the other stalls and was covered in Gibson guitars. Playing on the stage were two guys who are called The Mexicolas, and from what we heard were quite impressive with some soaring solos accompanied by some solid rhythm guiar work, and have since then been playing their single on Wiggle FM!

As we head over towards the live stage through the large crowds we checked to see the weekend’s events and who we could expect to see on the live stage that day.

We had about an hour and half before the Chairmen were due on stage so we take the opportunity to have a look at the really cool pointy guitars. Hunter is disgusted by this term of reference and points out they are in fact mainly BC Rich guitars, imported by a well known firm, Rosetti.

It was then time to go and have a look at the drums, and as we were heading over to a really nice gold glittery drum set we spot two other members of The Jitty and who also make up two of the three members of J3 Media, Josh and Josh.

At 11:00 ‘The Chairmen’ are due on the ‘Live’ stage, so we make our way to see how one of Leicesteshire’s promising bands are sounding. With the help of the PR firm ‘Red Pepper’ we manage to get an interview arranged with the band after their set in the “Green Room”.

The guys played a brilliant set and really got the crowed going, playing a couple of new songs that I hadn’t heard before. I’m quite excited to see where the future takes the lads as a band because their music has got that little “something” that’s different, making for an enjoyable set.

As they leave the stage all hot, sweaty and with adrenaline still pumping, the interview with us is finalised, and we agree to meet them in the Green Room in 10 minutes time once they had cleaned themselves up, and have a minute to gather themselves together.

Afer the interview with a brilliant set of lads, Hunter then decided we should go and see if Dave Mustaine was around doing any signings, sadly though, this proved to be someting of a mission impossible. A member of staff in the main hall informed us that he wasn’t around that day.

It was them time to head over to the Gibson tour bus, which we have been itching to do since the start of the day but weren’t allowed to go on before it had been cleaned. As we head over we pass a band that are playing some live songs and we can’t help but stop and watch as not only is their music sounding good, but the lead singer and guitarist was certainly setting the floor alight with his body movements, guitar in hand and coming back up to sing his lyrics. The band are called the Lucky Strikes and were good enough to talk to us as they were quite adamant that they can travel and wanted our details for the Jitty so they could get in touch with us.

We approach the Gibson tour bus, smiles on our faces as we see a small queue to get on. As we are waiting for our turn to enter the bus we take the opportunity to speak to Gibson’s Head of PR who tells us that the buses are usually housed in Paris. I guess that explains the small scrape that I spotted on the front of the bus.

There are no words that could explain what I was feeling as we entered the bus. It might be down to the fact that I’m use to air-cooled engines and four gears, but this bus was certainly something special. There was leather interior throughout, widescreen TV, Gibson guitars mounted to the walls and at the centre of the bus were photographs of rock icons and amplifiers stacked up.

We’re half way through our visit and so far we’ve had a brilliant day that’s been filled with guitars, guitars, subway, guitars, guitars, bands, interviews, guitars, buses and guitars. For any musician, whether they’re just starting out or are old hands, the sheer wealth of expertise in attendance, offering live sets on small stages to some hands on workshops, is an absolute god send!

It’s now time to see what the drums have to offer. As we look around at the drum kits I was very surprised as I’d seen what different styles could be done to a guitar, but for me I didn’t think there was too much that could be done to a drum kit. Little did I know! There were some fantastic kits about with many different paint finishes and styles of symbols. Maybe I had found the instrument for me!

It was now time to head home. It has been a long but very eventful day for us, so there was nothing left to do but to collect Hunter’s Ibanez. As we head back over to the Fair Deal Music stall Hunter gets talking to the manager who gives us a little insight to the store and where they are based. We learn that many companies come back to this Expo annually, with it’s recognisable brand name and impressive turnout filling a sizeable chunk of the NEC, to miss it quite frankly is unthinkable.

We would like to thank the wonderful Alison and Jordan of Red Pepper PR for their invaluable help, The Chairmen for being a great band to interview, Fair Deal music for selling Jim his nice new Ibanez, and Stacy for leading us around to the Live stage.