Colosseum York Crescent 27 August 2022

coltixLast night I spent an evening in the company of 1960s legendary jazz rock band Colosseum. This was quite an adventure actually, involving taking two carers for safety, Elaine and Jan, and a taxi to Durham station then the train to York station and a short walk to the venue, the Crescent. The train journey involved a guy turning up with a ramp to get me on the train at Durham and another guy at the other end to get me off the train. All worked seamlessly. The girl who got me on the train at Durham just before 7 PM said she would be waiting for me around midnight when we returned.

col4The Crescent is a lovely venue. It was a working men’s club, dating back to the 1920s. There is a great picture of the house band from those days on display in the entrance. We took a nice photograph of the picture. The Crescent has a friendly feel about it and it is great to be able to see a band up close in a small venue. It is a short 10 minutes walk from York station which we negotiated quite well, particularly over some cobbled streets which my wheelchair and I do not take well to! It holds around 250 people and was unreserved seating for the evening. When we arrived around 8 PM the venue was quite full but we managed to find a couple of seats for Elaine and Jan at the end of the second row and I took my place alongside them. We were informed that the band would be taking the stage at 8:30 PM and would play two sets with a short interval.

col3Now this was the 1969 incarnation of Colosseum (or as close to it as possible) but of course the founder, leader, the late great Jon Hiseman passed away some years ago, as did very recently, his wife Barbara Thompson who also played saxophone and wind instruments with the band. So the line-up consisted of, from the 1969 band, the great man himself Chris Farlowe on vocals and Clem Clempson on guitar. Also in the band today is bassist Mark Clarke, who joined in 1970. So three members from an early line up of the band is pretty good for me! Chris Farlowe is, of course, of “Out of Time” fame and Clem Clempson was a member of the great Humble Pie alongside Steve Mariott. Colosseum were a legendary 1960s jazz rock outfit. Sadly I never saw the 1960s band but I did see Colosseum II , which featured Gary Moore alongside Don Airey (now Deep Purple and from my hometown Sunderland).

I was really looking forward to this concert and to experiencing some 60s jazz rock. The website of the Crescent stated: “The progressive rock group will feature original members including legendary lead singer Chris Farlowe, alongside lead guitarist Clem Clempson and bass player and vocalist Mark Clarke. But it will also introduce exciting new musicians Nick Steed (keyboards), Kim Nishikawara (saxophones) and Malcolm Mortimore (drums).”

col2The website continued: “Colosseum came to fame in 1969 when the band led by legendary drummer Jon Hiseman released its debut album Those Who Are About To Die Salute You. The band soon caused a sensation with their powerful blend of rock, jazz and classical music. Their appearances at major rock festivals drew huge crowds and fans flocked to concerts as they performed epic works like the “Valentyne Suite” and “Lost Angeles”. More best selling studio albums followed, notably Valentyne Suite (1969) and The Daughter of Time is Truth (1970). Changes in personnel saw the arrival of the soulful Chris Farlowe, famed for his Sixties chart hit ‘Out Of Time’ and Clem Clempson, the young blues guitar virtuoso and vocalist and bass player Mark Clarke.”

The first set consisted of quite a few songs from their new album Restoration and some more familiar classic Colosseum material including, the late great Jack Bruce’s “Rope Ladder to the Moon” and closing for the interval with the fantastic instrumental piece, and title track of their second album, “Valentyne Suite”. Chris Farlowe has a voice which is as soulful, powerful and strong as ever. He is amazing for an 81-year-old gentleman. He demonstrates a wide vocal range in some of the more jazzy pieces. Chris did take a rest during some of the instrumental pieces, but hey, he certainly deserved it as his performance was flawless. Clempson remains an expert guitarist and the rest of the band are also all great musicians and each took a solo, demonstrating their virtuosity. Bass player Mark Clarke took the vocals on some of the songs and also demonstrates a powerful voice.

col 6After a short interval, just giving me time for another Guinness (just a half this time making a pint and half in total: very adventurous for me on an evening!), the band returned and treated us to more new and old Colosseum tracks. They began with a surprise. Clem Clempson started playing the introduction to “Out Of Time” and Chris joined in, as did the crowd. Chris told us “this is the first time, and will probably be the last that Colosseum perform that song!” Clem continued to tempt by playing the introduction to “Handbags and Gladrags” but Chris wouldn’t be drawn and they moved on to “proper” Colosseum material. This included the late great Graham Bond’s song “Walking in the Park” and Chris returning to the blues for “Stormy Monday”. In order to catch our train home we had to leave during the latter song. Checking the set list for the London show it looks like we missed the epic instrumental “Lost Angeles” and an encore of Jack Bruce’s” Theme from Imaginary Western”, a particular favourite of mine. Sad but train times had the better of us.

We got to the train station on time and the guy with the ramp was waiting on platform 11 to help me onto the train. There were some Saturday night revellers in the station, a little worse for wear, but not causing any trouble. There are always rail police on watch to ensure the crowds don’t get too rowdy! We were soon back at Durham station where the lady, true to her word, was waiting to assist me off the train. Then it was back into the taxi, off home and the two ladies helped me back into bed. It was around 1 AM and I was quite tired; but it had been a great evening, in a great venue, with a great band!

Setlist: Set 1: No Pleasin’; Story of the Blues; Need Somebody; Rope Ladder to the Moon (Jack Bruce); Hesitation; Valentyne Suite; Set 2: Segment of Out Of Time; intro to Handbags and Gladrags; First in Line; Walking in the Park (The Graham Bond Organisation); Tonight; A Cowboy’s Song; Stormy Monday Blues (T‐Bone Walker); Lost Angeles; Encore: Theme for an Imaginary Western (Jack Bruce)

6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Alun Rees on August 29, 2022 at 2:48 pm

    Sounds like a great night. I was lucky enough to catch Colosseum at Huntingdon Hall, Worcester 15-20 years ago, Dick Heckstall-Smith was supposed to be playing with the band but was unwell (he died not long after) and Barbara Thompson stood in. It was a great evening. If you are a fan of the band I suggest that you have a listen to DH-S’s solo album “A story ended” which features Hiseman, Farlowe, Clarke plus Chris Spedding, Caleb Quaye, Dave Greenslade and Graham Bond. If you know the album I apologise for my presumption. Farlowe continues to amaze.


    • Posted by vintagerock on August 30, 2022 at 11:43 am

      Hi Alun thanks for your comment. I’m a big admirer of Dick Heckstall Smith. I first saw him with Keef Hartley in about 1970 at Sunderland Empire. Thanks for the heads up on the album, no I don’t know of it and the line-up sounds tremendous. And yes Chris Farlowe remains excellent and very underrated. For me he is one of the best male vocalists we ever produced. A great night with some fantastic music. Happy days Peter


  2. Posted by John on August 30, 2022 at 6:59 am

    Hi Peter,

    Thanks for this excellent write up. (It is also interesting to know just how well the trains are running and helping at this time.) This was great line up of musicians. Chris Farlowe’s version of Out of Time is still a favourite of mine it represents the sixties music for me ( I still have the single), even though I was a big Stones fan it was better still than the Stones on Aftermath. I hadn’t realized Barbara Thompson had passed away. I still have a tape of music she played in Scaborough given to me by a friend who saw her (I think she played at what was then a pub called the Captains House on Eastborough) in the eighties. I wish I had seen them play in their heyday. I remember the name well, but I suspect I didn’t see them, although I might just have seen them in the Penthouse! Thanks again.

    Best wishes, John


    • Posted by vintagerock on August 30, 2022 at 11:32 am

      Great to hear from you John, as always. Yes I agree Chris Farlowe is very underrated and for me is one of the best male vocalists of all time. I absolutely love Out Of Time and try and see him every time he plays in the north-east. But I also was a fan of Colosseum and it was a great night in a lovely city. Happy days Peter


      • Posted by John on August 31, 2022 at 6:40 am

        Hi Peter, I couldn’t find my tape of Barbara Thompson and I now wonder if she did play in the Captains House (which is now an art gallery, I think). York is lovely. When I was student I always wandered around the parts near the station while waiting for my train connection. John

      • Posted by vintagerock on August 31, 2022 at 12:45 pm

        I would love to have seen Barbara Thompson John But I never did so. My loss. Yes York is lovely. It was a shame we only spent a few hours there. Best wishes Peter

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