Archive for the ‘Elkie Brooks’ Category

Elkie Brooks Sunderland Fire Station 18 November 2022

elkie tixA night of memories and reminiscences once again. This time I am in the lovely new local venue the Sunderland Fire Station for an evening of music with none other than Elkie Brooks. As usual, I am going along to renew my acquaintance with a great performer who I have not seen for many years. I first saw Elkie Brooks when she was a member of the jazz/rock/blues fusion band Dada at Newcastle City Hall in 1971.

elkie2Dada were first on the bill below Yes and headliners Iron Butterfly. I decided to treat myself to a copy of their album (see image) to remind myself of their music. They were a large band (I think around 10 piece) with a brass section and Elkie singing as front person, alongside ultracool soul man Robert Palmer.I remember being very impressed by the overall power of the band and, in particular, by Elkie’s raucous blues/jazz vocals. I was very much a young gig goer of 14 and sat in awe, by myself, feeling I was part of a big adventurous journey into the realm and world of live music which was just beginning.

elkie 1The next time I ran into Elkie was in the band Vinegar Joe. She had become the wild, gypsy front person, again alongside Robert Palmer on vocals and her husband of the time Peter Gage on guitar (that is him, standing to the right of Elkie on the front cover of the album. Pretty cool guy, with great long hair and who played some wonderful slide guitar, as I recall). I was lucky enough to see Vinegar Joe several times during the early 70s at the Lincoln Festival, the Reading Festival, and local venues including (I think) Sunderland Locarno, Newcastle Mayfair and most notably supporting the legendary Free at Sunderland Top Rank. Vinegar Joe were quite a while raucous rock/blues band and we all sat in awe of the force of nature that was Elkie. Again, I bought a copy of one of their albums to remind myself of these Rock ‘n’ Roll Gypsies and their music. “They were an electrifying live act and quickly became a staple of the UK’s then-thriving university circuit.” (Louder than sound)

elkie3The next time I saw Elkie was headlining as a solo artist at Sunderland Empire Theatre. This was in the late 70s and Elkie had become more of a middle of the road (and very successful) rhythm and blues singer hitting the charts with “Pearl’s a Singer”, “Sunshine after the Rain” and many other successful singles.

So, roll forward around 40 years and Elkie is now 70 years old. There is no support act, Elkie chooses to perform the entire show herself with a short interval separating two sets which blend her chart hits with jazz and blues classics. Elkie Brooks was born Elaine Bookbinder in Manchester and began her career at the age of 15, performing jazz and blues and at one point supporting the Beatles. Elkie took the stage in a slinky silver lame long dress treating us to a selection of her hits and jazz and blues standards. She looks great and her voice is tremendous, powerful and soulful.

elkie4This is also another night of renewing friendships, through something of a coincidence. I was just telling my carer for the evening Jackie about when I saw Elkie in Vinegar Joe supporting Free at the aforementioned concert when along comes an old friend Paul, who I have not seen for many years and says “Do you remember seeing her in Vinegar Joe at the Rink? ” We chat about that great concert and how wonderful she was “back in the day”. Great to see him again.

elkie6Both sections of the show are impressive in their own way. The mix of classic soulful chart hits and raucous blues is fantastic. Elkie still has a very powerful voice. Although I can’t recall the entire set list, I do remember thinking how many hits she has had, some of which I had forgotten, such as “Don’t Cry out Loud “and “Lilac Wine”. During the first half she also does an excellent version of the Rod Stewart classic “Gasoline Alley”.

elkie7The second half of the concert comprises more hits including the Chris Rea song “Fool If You Think It’s Over” but, rather than finishing with her massive chart success “Pearl’s a Singer” she chooses to give us a great rendition of this song halfway through the second set. She closes the evening with a series of blues classics, belting them out in a powerful voice and showing what her true roots are. By the end everyone is up on their feet, lots of dancing, and a standing ovation for Elkie, which is well deserved. A great night full of many memories. Happy days.

 

Elkie Brooks Sunderland Empire 1978 & memories of Vinegar Joe

Elkie Brooks Sunderland Empire June 4th 1978 and memories of Vinegar Joe
I have good memories of Elkie Brooks gigs during the period 1971, when I first saw here in DaDa, through Vinegar Joe, to the last time I saw here as a solo artist in 1978. The first time I saw Elkie she was in a band called DaDa, and was first on an Age of Atlantic package tour with Yes and Iron Butterfly. The concert was at Newcastle City Hall, and it was the first time I went to a gig at that venue. DaDa featured her husband Pete Gage, and her singing partner Robert Palmer and were a jazz-rock fusion band with lots of members and a brass section. Those three soon left DaDa to form Vinegar Joe, who I saw at Sunderland Top Rank (supporting Free; thanks for the reminder John), Sunderland Locarno, Reading Festival, Lincoln Festival and Newcastle Mayfair (on a bill with Chicken Shack if my memory is correct; which it may well not be…). Vinegar Joe were a class R&B act, and Elkie was tremendous vocally and in terms of her stage act. She was truly a wild woman of rock in those days, with swirling skirts and crazy dancing. By 1975 Elkiehad had gone solo and soon had chart success with Pearl’s a Singer and other singles. By the time I saw her again at Sunderland Empire, she was selling out concert halls across the country. By this point she was becoming a little middle of the road; however her live show was still great. I haven’t been to an Elkie Brooks concert since those days, and keep meaning to do so. She still tours and has become a national treasure. Writing this convinces me that I need to go and see her again soon. Thanks to John for mailing me the scan of the Vinegar Joe poster, which must have come from a Manchester University gig in the early 70s.