Archive for the ‘Steve Cropper’ Category

The Animals and Steve Cropper The Sage Gateshead 15th Sep 2011

The Animals and Steve Cropper The Sage Gateshead 15th September 2011
On Thursday I went to see The Animals and Stax legend Steve Cropper at the Sage in Gateshead. To be honest, it was Steve Cropper’s appearance on the bill which had drawn me along to the concert, rather than local heroes The Animals. The latest UK incarnation of The Animals does not feature Eric Burdon and comprises original drummer John Steel, keyboard player Mickey Gallagher (who replaced Alan Price in 1965), Pete Barton on vocals and John Williamson on guitar. Their full title is actually Animals and Friends, and they have been touring consistently for the last few years, sometimes alongside special guests who have included Spencer Davis, the late, great Mick Green of the Pirates and, on this tour, Steve Cropper. The concert was in Hall 2 of the Sage, which is the smaller of the two main halls. The sold out crowd was a mix of local oldies who had obviously turned out to see the Animals, and some who, I guess, had come specially to see Steve Cropper (for example: one guy in the front row was proudly sporting a Stax t-shirt).
The Animals (and Friends) were first up and played a set of greatest hits including We gotta get out of this place, Don’t let me be misunderstood, Don’t Bring me Down, and Its my life. These were played pretty true to the originals and Pete Barton’s strong voice did justice to those great 60s R&B tunes. I’ve seen this line up once before at Bents Park in South Shields and wasn’t too impressed on that occasion. However, I thought they were on great form on Thursday. John Steel (who is 70 this year and looks great on it) stepped out from behind his drum kit at one point and told us how nervous he was playing to a home crowd (he used to live in Gateshead, just a few streets away from the venue). Pete Barton is a good front man, and must be living a dream singing songs that he grew up with. Mickey Gallagher has a strong musical pedigree; as well as his spell in The Animals, he was a member of Ian Dury and the Blockheads and played on The Clash’s London Calling.
After a short interval The Animals return, accompanied by Steve Cropper. Steve (also 70 this year) is (from Wikipedia) “best known as the guitarist of the Stax Records house band, Booker T. & the M.G.’s, and has backed artists such as Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Carla, Rufus Thomas and Johnnie Taylor, also acting as producer on many of these records. He later gained fame as a member of the Blues Brothers band. Rolling Stone lists him 36th on their list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.” They start with Time is Tight, with great keyboard playing from Mickey Gallagher. Steve’s guitar playing is as you would expect: sparse, choppy, rhythmic and spot-on professional. Steve introduces each song with a story which gives us some background. Listening to these stories you begin to realise just how important a place this guy has in the history of rock. Stand-outs were In the midnight hour, Dock of the Bay and Soul Man. A class act. The greatest hits were kept for the encores: House of the rising sun and Green onions. The old ones are the best ones after all.
The Animals and Friends website
Steve Cropper website


flyer for the show