Indiana Jones Pinball

I love pinball.  The lights, the sounds, the graphics – all so exciting.  I can take or leave arcade games (and I don’t even own a single home gaming console), but there’s something irresistible about playing pinball.

It’s just so damn cool!  I mean, The Who didn’t write a song called “Space Invaders Wizard”, did they?

Not that I’m any good at it, oh no.  Tommy I ain’t.  But it’s fun to have a game every now and again.

Sadly, however, pinball machines seem to be disappearing from sight.  My usual silver ball haven – Rhyl – which has several amusement arcades, used to have a handful of pinball tables.  Now I don’t know of any pinball machines in the town, and some of the arcades are shutting down too.

It seems that the lure of the table is no match for their more modern arcade game competitors.  Pinball is going the way of What the Butler Saw machines and Punch and Judy.  Though bizarrely, the penny waterfalls and fruit machines are still in rude health.  Why, I just don’t know.

The Indiana Jones table shown here was photographed five years ago, in the amusement arcade at the end of Llandudno pier.  By 2017, it wasn’t even plugged in, it just stood there like the sort of forgotten relic that Indy would go in search of.

This year, it had disappeared altogether.

A real shame – it was a cool game that had great playability, as well as looking fantastic.  Check out the ball launcher for a start – it’s shaped like Indy’s pistol, and when you fire it, it makes a gunshot sound!

My quest for pinball machines will continue.  I know they’re out there, waiting to be rediscovered.

Dead Wolf Club and Saltwater Injection Gig Review

Dead Wolf Club + Saltwater Injection

Thursday 26th February 2015

The Compass, Chester

Back to the Compass in Chester for some more rock’n’roll!  I was able to catch local band Saltwater Injection again, plus new discovery Dead Wolf Club.

Saltwater Injection makes a reliably noisy racket with just a bass guitar and a drum kit.  The bass stirs a sludgy broth of Melvins style aggressive punk, while the drums thrash away relentlessly.  It’s not all noise – beneath the cacophony, the audience can define melodies as well as crushing riffs. Catchy, sing along melodies, even!

The set gives us original songs in this vein, plus a Beatles tribute infused with a punk Monty Python spirit.  Add in a song written on the spot, following a title suggestion from the audience; and genuinely funny, self deprecating stage banter and you’ve got a concoction that is quite infectious.  Great band and one to catch!

Up next are head liners Dead Wolf Club, a four piece with a similar punk rock approach but different delivery.  This band offers an intense, swirling sound that develops from a Joy Formidable accessibility to a crushing Joy Division cinematic scope.

It’s post hardcore performed with an admirable earnestness and honesty.  Dead Wolf Club’s songs – part Steve Albini, part Fugazi, part grungey indie – build and build, showing a sense of scale and ambition.  Unfortunately it’s over too soon, and everything suddenly seems far too quiet…

Another blinding night at the Compass, which has grown into an intimate venue for in-your-face rock music.  Good beer, friendly staff and a fantastic AC/DC pinball machine don’t hurt either!

The Compass website is here.

The Saltwater Injection website is here.

The Dead Wolf Club website is here.

Buffalo Wings and Beer

Buffalo Wings & Beer, Cloverly MD

Continuing the American theme from my last post, this time I’d like to tell you about a very special place.  It’s my favourite bar – possibly of all time.  Though it’s been a long time since I last paid a visit, I have some very happy memories.

Back in 2000, I went on “vacation” to Maryland, USA – and again the following year.  Some relatives of mine were living in the area, and I was lucky enough to be invited over to visit.  So my family and I made the trip from Wales to America.  We had a fantastic time catching up with our family and being amazed by the country itself.  An unforgettable part of the trip was when we were introduced to the BWB.

BWB stands for Buffalo Wings and Beer – which is, quite simply, what the establishment offers.  It’s a bar, and a local of sorts to my relatives, and we were to visit there quite a few times!

IMG_3114

Recreating BWB at home recently with wings and Sam Adams beer. Note BWB shirt and cap!

Quite different to the pubs we’re used to at home, the BWB is a sports bar also offering food.  So unlike our boozers back home, you can have a few (or several) beers and you don’t need to leave to get food.  When you get hungry, you can order food right there!  Now we have restaurant pubs in the UK, but at the BWB you can order food at later times not just during the restaurant opening hours.  No need to run off to the kebab shop here.

Great food too – I became a big fan of the chicken wings in particular.  But not too hot!  This was also where I grew to love Samuel Adams Boston lager too.  Not to mention the buckets of beer – literally of bucket with ice and several bottles of booze!  Fine ale and good food – it couldn’t get better.

Except it could.  BWB also housed the coolest jukebox ever, pool tables, pinball, dart boards, arcade games – awesome stuff.  As a sports bar, the TV Screens showed sports, but as this was the US the entertainment was not what I was used to.  I even saw a vert skateboarding competition being shown there once.

It must be said that the people in the BWB were great also – welcoming, polite, fun – both customers and staff.  They were pleasant and genuinely interested in us as visitors to the country.

If you’re ever in the area, make sure you visit.  There are a few BWBs in the chain, the one I visited was in Cloverly.  Awesome place.  I hope I get to go back there someday.

With thanks to Lesley, Simon and Ben Stagg, who introduced us to the world of BWB!

Buffalo Wings & Beer Cloverly, 15412 New Hampshire Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20905

The BWB website is here.

The BWB Facebook page is here.