Archive for the ‘Dave Stewart’ Category

Dave Stewart Sunderland Empire 10 September 2017

dave3Somehow this blog entry got lost in my memory. Anyway, I am putting things right by making the entry now. Dave Stewart had promised to come and play the Sunderland Empire a few years earlier; tickets were put on sale, but for some reason the concert was cancelled. At the time he promised to rearrange it, and true to his word, sure enough a couple of years later the concert was readvertised as below:

“The legendary co-founder of Eurythmics, Dave Stewart is coming home in a live concert celebrating his 65th birthday live at Sunderland Empire, for one night only.  

Dave Stewart says “I’m looking forward to playing lots of the hit songs I’ve written over the years in the legendary Sunderland Empire. I was born and grew up in Sunderland and have many great memories about my life there (I’m sure more will come flooding back). I was a struggling musician as a teenager in Sunderland so I chose to invite the three young local bands below to perform before me.””

The local bands Social Room, Lilliput and Picnic were all invited by Dave Stewart to be support acts for the concert.

Dave performed with his Nashville all-star players, each of whom had a very strong and illustrious pedigree: Chad Cromwell (Drums, previously played for Neil Young, Stevie Nicks, Mark Knopfler, Joe Walsh), Tom Bukovac (Guitar – Hank Williams Jr., Sheryl Crow, Don Henley), Dan Dugmore (Steel Guitar – Linda Ronstadt, James Taylor, Stevie Nicks, Loretta Lynn) and Michael Rhodes (Bass – Martina McBride, Buddy Guy, Lady Antebellum).

dave2I have lots of fond memories of seeing Dave Stewart in many incarnations. First, in local folk rock band Longdancer at Sunderland Locarno in the early 1970s. Then, some years on, with Annie Lennox in the Tourists again at Sunderland Locarno, at Newcastle City Hall and at the Reading Festival. Further on in his career, I was lucky enough to see Eurythmics perform at Newcastle City Hall. I also recall seeing Dave Stewart join Fergal Sharkey on stage for an encore at Newcastle City Hall, on Fergal’s first solo tour after leaving the Undertones. I think the last time I saw Dave Stewart before the Sunderland Empire concert was with Ringo Starr at the opening of the Capital of Culture in Liverpool, which was also the opening concert at the new venue, Liverpool Arena.

Dave Stewart has done pretty well for a lad from Sunderland. He has sold in excess of 100 million albums worldwide. He has also played with some of the biggest names in the business. It is great that he remembers his roots, and this return home concert was much anticipated by the people of Sunderland.

It was very fitting that he invited three local bands to support him in his homecoming show. They did a great job of warming up the crowd for the main act; the man himself. His entrance was preceded by local singer-songwriter Marty Longstaff, otherwise known as the Lake Poets, and the son of two good friends. Marty performed a number written about his hometown “City by the Sea”, a fitting precursor to Dave Stewart’s performance. Stewart has recently produced Marty’s album in Nashville.

Stewart took to the stage with his Nashville band and performed three numbers of his own, which were unfamiliar to me, but sounded just great: “So Long Ago”, “The Beast Called Fame” and “Magic in the Blues”. Stewart was very much “The Ringmaster”. Although I was sitting at the end of hero towards the front, I still had a great view as he prowled backwards and forwards along the front of the stage. Dave Stewart then took us through a selection from his extensive back catalogue, joined by guest singers throughout. This included several Eurythmics songs with a female vocalist performing Annie Lenox’s vocals faultlessly.

dave1Between the songs Stewart told stories of his memories of Sunderland in the 60s. It was great to hear him speak so fondly of our city. Guests included Diane Birch who took her position on piano and delivered a wonderful version of the Eurythmics classic track “There Must Be an Angel (Playing with My Heart)”. Johnny Borrell, from Razorlight sang “Don’t Come around Here No More” a song which Dave Stewart wrote with Tom Petty, no less.

Then came a big surprise, and one which was very fitting for the evening. The Easington Colliery Brass Band, who had become part of Stewarts band for the evening, performed his song written about his hometown “This Little Town”. Wonderful. Then the aforementioned Marty Longstaff joined Stewart for a great rendition of the Eurythmics song “When The Day Goes Down”.

The evening was brought to a close with everyone on stage singing “Sweet Dreams”. By now the entire Empire crowd was up on its feet, singing along. A great evening with a Sunderland legend! Bought myself a signed book as a momento of the evening.

Feargal Sharkey Newcastle City Hall 9th February 1986

Feargal Sharkey Newcastle City Hall 9th February 1986
feargaltixIn 1982 Feargal was becoming tired of fronting Irish new wave post-punk posters The Undertones. So it was no more boy next door image, off with the pullover and jeans, and on with a trendy Armani suit, a Swatch watch (see later) and styled quiffed hair. Ad hey presto young Feargal was a fledgling pop star. And pop star indeed he was. Feargal’s debut single was “Listen to Your Father” which reached No. 23 in the UK chart in 1984. The track was a collaboration with members of Madness and he performed it on Top of the Pops with members of the nutty boy band. But his biggest hit came the following year when “A Good Heart” went to No. 1 in several countries including the UK. He also had a UK Top 5 hit in 1986 with “You Little Thief”, which was out at the time I saw him on tour. His debut album reached No. 12 in the UK Albums Chart.
I saw Feargal Sharkey at Newcastle City Hall in 1986. This was his Swatch tour, and an early example of tour branding and marketing tie-ins. The back cover of the programme declares “Feargal Sharkey Swatch tour. Music by Feargal. Time by Swatch”, alongside a picture of our cool hero sporting trendy shades and, of course, a neat black Swatch.
feargalFrom the programme: “At first I didn’t feel it. I just sang. The difference later on was that I learned more about life. I now plough past experiences for songs, especially on my album where the songs are all bitter sweet. I’m now more of a manic singer than ever before. ……Feargal belongs on stage in front of an audience…..Ladies and gentlemen, Feargal Sharkey. The waiting is over”
The concert was good fun and focused on Feargal’s hits and debut solo album, along with some great covers including “When a Man Loves a Woman” and “It’s all Over Now”. He had quite a large band with a couple of backing singers and a small brass section. His mate and local north east hero Dave Stewart came on for the encore, very much the swaggering rock star. Support came from Fruits of Passion, a Scottish indie band.
The next time I saw Feargal Sharkey he walked past me, as he was wandering around the area in front of the stage at Live 8 in Hyde Park. By then he was very much the suited business man, and chair of the UK Government task force the ‘Live Music Forum’. In 2009 he was placed No. 56 in The Guardian’s MediaGuardian 100, which is an annual guide to the “most powerful people in television, radio, newspapers, magazines, digital media, media business, advertising, marketing and PR”. The boy from Derry has travelled a long way.