Archive for the ‘The Animals’ Category

The Animals and Friends Whitley Bay Playhouse 12 March 2022

animals 4So my question for today is: When Is a Band No Longer a Band? In the case of The Animals and Friends, the only original member is long-standing drummer, John Steel, who at the age of 81 has assembled a band of fine musicians around him to play all The Animals hits. “Though the band has changed, the songs remain eternal… alongside covers of Ray Charles and John Lee Hooker classics, they ensure that the nostalgic element comes with an enjoyably abrasive edge”. (From the bands website).

This tour is billed as their farewell concert tour, and if so, this may be the last time that John and his friends have performed in a local “home” venue. Support was provided by another legend from the 60s, Zoot Money.

Now I have to admit to being a massive fan of Eric Burdon; I think he is one of the greatest vocalists ever and have been to see him every chance I can including a performance at Newcastle City Hall a few years ago. Eric performs with his own band, sometimes called The Animals, which has changed over the years. He remains a fine blues singer and his performances are always excellent. He does not grace these shores very often, which is a shame. So I was interested to see this performance by John Steel and his “friends”.

animals 3I was perched at the back of the hall again, as I was for Fairport Convention a week or so ago. The view is great and the venue was around ¾ full. First up, at around 7:30 PM, was Zoot Money who performed a fine set of rhythm and blues, solo on keyboards and vocals. His set was short, but warmed up the crowd well. He finished shortly after 8 PM which gave me time to have a swift pint of Guinness during the interval.

The Animals and Friends took to the stage around 8:30 PM and treated us to just over one hour of classic songs from back in the 60s.

animals 2I can’t quite recall the full set, but I seem to remember that they started with “Don’t Bring Me Down” and played a set of Animals hits and other R&B classics including “I’m Crying”, “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”, “It’s My Life” and “Club A Go Go”(written about the legendary 60s Newcastle club where all the greats played including Cream, Jimi Hendrix and, of course, The Animals). They closed the set with “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place”. John Steel then came to front of stage and explained how he had been in the band since it first formed in 1957! He then introduced the encore which was, of course, “House of the Rising Sun”. Finally, he welcomed Zoot Money back on stage to join the band to play Zoot’s 1960s hit “Big Time Operator”, which reached number 25 in the UK charts in 1966.

animals1The concert finished around 9:40 PM. Quite an early finish time these days. The band played well. John has assembled a fine set of musicians around him who do full justice to The Animals classic 60s tracks. The front man, Danny Handley , is to be applauded for both playing excellent guitar and singing strong vocals on all the songs. I can’t quite bring myself to say that his vocals matched Eric Burdon but, hey, he came pretty damn close. So it was a very pleasant evening spent listening to some of my all-time favourite songs. After the show the band and Zoot Money were signing CDs in the foyer. I decided to purchase a fine pair of John Steel drumsticks which he kindly signed personally and in front of me; one dedicated to me and the other dedicated to my friend John in the USA who came to see so many shows with me in the 1970s.

animals 5So, returning to my original question: When Is a Band No Longer a Band? My answer is thus. Does it matter? As long as they play good versions of great songs and I have an enjoyable evening, then it is certainly worthwhile going to see them. John and his friends have managed to retain the gritty Newcastle soul of The Animals and in doing so present a show that lives up to the bands legend. A great night.

Interestingly, I found the following on Wikipedia: “In 2008, an adjudicator determined that original Animals drummer John Steel owned “the Animals” name in the UK because of a trademark registration that Steel had filed. Eric Burdon had objected to the trademark registration, arguing that he personally embodied any goodwill associated with “the Animals” name. Burdon’s argument was rejected, in part because he had billed himself as “Eric Burdon and the Animals” as early as 1967, thus separating the goodwill associated with his own name from that of the band. On 9 September 2013, Burdon’s appeal was allowed, and he is now permitted to use the name “the Animals.””

Many thanks to Vikki my carer and photographer for the evening and Chris for once again helping put me back to bed.

Eric Burdon Newcastle City Hall Sat 23 Jun 2018

eric tixEric Burdon is one of my all-time heroes. I have seen him many times over the years so I couldn’t resist going to see a hometown concert at Newcastle City Hall. Eric Burdon is a legendary figure with a giant, deep, soulful voice. He took The Animals from Newcastle to the top the charts, London and around the world. His growling, rasping voice featured on such great hits as “We Got to Get Out Of This Place “, “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” and, of Course, “The House of the Rising Sun”.. Then, when the band split up, he formed his own, more psychedelic version of The Animals and had further hits such as “Monterey” and “When I Was Young”. Eric then became a fully fledged member of the San Francisco scene, a friend of Jimi Hendrix and then fronted the band War in the 1970s. The drive, work ethic and sheer nerve of the guy astounds me. He took himself from the backstreets of Newcastle, around the world and became a major player on the international music scene.

eric picPublicity for the concert read: “Despite Eric being the ripe old age of 77, his voice still packs a punch and he and his band put on one hell of a show. Seriously, the guy is North East music royalty; he and his band inspired generations of artists and wrote gritty, working -class tunes about gritty, working-class subjects before it was cool to write gritty, working-class tunes about gritty, working-class subjects. You can expect all the classic Animals’ tracks from a true master of the blues vocal performance – he’s been playing music for more years than many of us have been alive and he sure knows how to do it.” (NE VOLUME)

This time around Eric fronted a new backing band with young rock/blues players, and very impressive they were too. The set comprised old Animals hits, songs from his later career and soul and blues standards. His voice remains strong, the years have added even more gravel to it; taking his delivery closer to that of the blues legends he based his career on. Indeed, he has become one of the legendary blues men himself; in the mould of the old black blues singers he followed when he was young. Judging by the superlatives I have been using, you can guess that I really enjoyed the show. It was great to see one of my heroes back in his hometown, playing in a venue that he has starred in so many times before. Simply amazing and long may he continue. My carer, Joanne, came away a fan also.

Setlist (was something like this): When I Was Young; Mama Told Me Not to Come; Inside Looking Out; Spill the Wine; Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood; Don’t Bring Me Down; Bring It On Home to Me; Bo Diddley Special; It’s My Life; The House of the Rising Sun (Click on the link before this bracket to see a great video on YouTube); We’ve Gotta Get Out of This Place; Hold On, I’m Comin’; The Blaydon Races.

My grainy photograph was taken at an earlier concert, when I witnessed an equally great performance by Eric Burdon at the Colne Blues Festival.

Great British Rhythm & Blues Festival Colne 24th August 2014 Eric Burdon, Roy Young & Jim Diamond

Great British Blues Festival Colne 24th August 2014 Eric Burdon, Roy Young & Jim Diamond
colnebluesThis year The Great British Rhythm and Blues Festival celebrated its 25th Anniversary. The festival takes place each year in the village of Colne, Lancashire and this year featured another set of great blues and R&B atcs including Eric Burdon, Lucky Peterson, Eric Sardinas, Otis Grand, Mike Sanchez, Andy Fairweather Low, The Yardbirds and Dr Feelgood. I went over last night to see Eric Burdon, who is a hero of mine and doesn’t play that often in the UK these days.
I arrived in time to catch Jim Diamond, who played an acoustic set on the international stage, which is in Colne Municipal Hall. Jim was accompanied by guitarist Gareth Mouton, and sang a set of great soul covers, and his own songs including “I Won’t Let You Down” and “Hi Ho Silver”. He went down well with the crowd, and seemed genuinely bowled over by the reception.
The Muni was packed by the time Eric Burdon came on stage. Everyone wanted to see Burdon, and rightly so. There was a short delay while the band sound-checked, and the crowd were starting to get restless, with a few slow hand claps. The sound was soon sorted and Eric took to the stage, looking and sounding great. Burdon has become one of our great legendary bluesmen, still playing some 50 years since he first started singing the blues. His American band are hot and tight and have an excellent ’60s psych/beat feel to them.eric And they were very loud; I was standing right next to the speaker stack to the left of the stage, and my ears are still ringing this morning as I write this. Eric’s set was a mix of classics from his times with the Animals, War and solo material. Great versions of “Don’t Bring Me Down”, which was the opener, and “It’s My Life”. They closed with, of course, “House of the Rising Sun” and were called back for one more, which was John Lee Hooker’s “Boom Boom”.
I stayed to watch some of Roy Young’s set, but left before the end (it was close to midnight when he started his set, and I had a two hour drive home). Roy is a true legend, and has only recently returned to playing UK concerts. He started singing and playing rock’n’roll piano in the late ’50s, and performed in Hamburg with the Beatles in the early ’60s. He then joined Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers, formed his own band, and went on to record with David Bowie, playing piano on “Young Americans” and “Low”. I remember seeing the Roy Young Band on the Old Grey Whistle Test in the early ’70s and planned to go and see him at Peterlee Argus Butterfly, but never made it, for some reason. His style is very much in the mould of Jerry Lee Lewis and he plays fine authentic rock’n’roll, they started with “Slow Down” and had the crowd dancing and jiving.
Eric Burdon Setlist: Don’t Bring Me Down: When I Was Young; Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood; Water; Spill the Wine; Black Dog; Before You Accuse Me; I Believe To My Soul; Bo Diddley Special; We Gotta Get Out of This Place / River Is Rising; It’s My Life; House of the Rising Sun
Encore: Boom Boom

Ultimate Rhythm and Blues show Sage Gateshead 4th March 2014

Ultimate Rhythm and Blues show Sage Gateshead 4th March 2014
The Zombies, The Yardbirds, The Animals, Maggie Bell, Dave Berry
r&B A great concert with a host of acts from the 60s. Much more enjoyable than I expected. Two things stick in my mind from last night, and will be the themes of my blog entry today. The first is the subject of authenticity and the question “when is a band not a band?” (if you see what I mean 🙂 ), and the second is just how powerful a performer Maggie Bell is.
First up were The Animals and Friends which features original Animals drummer John Steel, keyboards player Mickey Gallagher (who replaced Alan Price in 1965), Danny Handley on guitar and Pete Barton on bass and lead vocals. Now you have to admire Pete Barton, he is an amazing front man, and has a growling, powerful voice which actually matches and rivals the original vocals of Eric Burdon. He also has the unenviable position of not only taking the position of the powerhouse Burdon, but also making announcements like “We’re going back to the Club A’Gogo” and introducing songs from 1964 (when he was actually 2 years old at the time). Amazingly, he pulls it all off and leads the band in authentic (there’s that word) renditions of all those great songs: We Got To Get Out Of This Place, Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood, and of course House of the Rising Sun. So although on the one hand, this version of the Animals features only one original member, on the other hand, the spirit and passion remains true to the roots of the ’60s band, and the performance comes over as authentic, true to the rich legacy and is delivered with passion and humility. A great start to the evening.
maggie The Animals were joined first by Dave Berry, who has replaced Spencer Davis on the tour, as Spencer is not well at the moment. I wondered at first whether Dave would fit well with this bill. In my mind I link him with the ’60s revival package pop tour, rather than a R&B package. But, as Dave reminded us, his roots lie in the Sheffield (and UK) R&B scene in the early ’60s, and he geared his short set towards this. He sang a few R&B classics and finished with an excellent version of “The Crying Game”. His performance was professional and slick, and he came over as a pretty cool guy.
Now when I was a young teenage kid, I stood a few feet in front of Maggie Bell and Les Harvey at Sunderland Locarno at a Stone the Crows gig. My mate and I were totally blown away by her voice and her performance that night. The lady simply oozed the blues, and sang with a passion and authenticity which came from deep in her soul. Now I haven’t seen her since the ’70s and wasn’t expecting what I saw last night. Maggie was simply sensational in every way. Much better than I could have hoped. Her voice remains strong, her performance electrifying, and she looks great. She sang a few blues classics including I’d Rather Go Blind, and finished with a an amazing duet with Pete Barton (by now I was starting to really admire that guy) of P J Proby’s “Hold Me”. I’d forgotten that Maggie hit the charts with a version of this on which she dueted with B A Roberston. Stunning.
maggietixAfter a short interval, next up was the latest line-up of the Yardbirds. Again the subject of authenticity comes to mind. This line-up features original drummer Jim McCarty and, back in the band after 50 years (!), original guitarist Top Topham who was in the band in the very early years and was replaced by Eric Clapton. The rest of the line-up are all relatively new: Ben King on lead guitar, Andy Mitchell on vocals and mouth harp, and David Smale on bass. Original rhythm guitarist Chris Dreja has recently left the band because of ill health. Like The Animals, this line-up remains true to the roots of the music and delivered pretty flawless versions of all those classics; “For Your Love”, “Heart Full of Soul”, “Over Under Sideways Down” “Shapes of Things” and an amazing version of “Dazed and Confused” (I’d forgotten that this was a Yardbirds song which Page took with him into Zeppelin).
The evening closed with a performance by the Zombies, who remain pretty authentic in that they feature two of the main originals in Colin Blunstone (vocals) and Rod Argent (keyboards, or was in “organ” in those days? 🙂 ). The Zombies took us through all the hits, including Argent’s Hold Your Head Up, Blunstones’ Say You Don’t Mind, and the classis Time Of the Season. The closed the evening with She’s Not There. Great stuff.
From the promotional material: “Relive the musical revolution of 1964 as the chart-topping stars of the 1960s, including The Zombies, The Animals, The Yardbirds, Dave Berry and Maggie Bell perform some of their greatest hits. This amazing line-up have collectively, over 50 years, delivered 37 hit records and held chart-topping positions for more than 300 weeks.”

60s Gold Show The Sage Gateshead 31 Oct 2012

60s Gold Show The Sage Gateshead 31 Oct 2012
Steve Ellis, The Animals, P J Proby, Gerry and the Pacemakers
I’m not a big fan of 60s shows. They tend to be a bit too cabaret for me, but this line up was so strong I just couldn’t miss it. This time the 60s Gold tour featured two of my favourite artists: Steve Ellis and P J Proby. I’ve blogged about P J before and have the greatest respect for the man; his voice is astounding and he is one of the best performers I have ever seen. But tonight I was particularly looking forward to seeing Steve Ellis who I haven’t see since the 70s when he fronted Widowmaker, along with Ariel Bender. To me Steve is still the cheeky young cocky cockney mod who exploded on my TV screen on Top of the Pops and blew me away with his performance of Everlasting Love in Love Affair all those years ago.
The show was introduced by compere Ally Bally (told you these shows are cabaret) and Steve Ellis was first up, backed by The Pacemakers. Steve looks great; from where I was sitting I swear he looked no different to how he did in the 60s. He still sports some pretty sharp gear, very much the mod, and his vocals were really strong. His performance was great, but I felt he could deliver so much more. He has one of the best soul voices, and commands respect for keeping the mod flag flying. I’d love to see him do a full set, as I know he performs soul classics as well as the Love Affair hits. For me, Steve Ellis is up there with Steve Marriott, and other 60s mod legends. Setlist: Day without love; Bringing on back the good times; All or nothing (dedicated to Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane); a version of The Beatles’ Please please me which was performed as a slow ballad; Rainbow valley; Everlasting love.
Ally Bally returned to tell us some facts about 1963, such as our favourite TV show at the time was Steptoe and Son. He then introduced The Animals. I’ve seen this version of the band a few times now and they do a very respectable job of playing the old hits. The band features original drummer John Steel and keyboard player Micky Gallagher who replaced Alan Price in 1965. Singer and frontman Peter Barton has a deep voice which sounds a lot like Eric Burdon and does justice to the songs. Setlist: Baby let me take you home; It’s my life; I put a spell on you; Bring it on home to me; Don’t bring me down; Don’t let me be misunderstood; We’ve gotta get out of this place; House of the rising sun. After the interval it was P J Proby’s turn to take the stage. P J always puts on a strong show, and tonight was no exception. He was backed by the Pacemakers, along with a sax player. Setlist: Price of love; My love; Hold me; Three steps to heaven; If I can dream; The night has a thousand eyes; Somewhere. Ally Pally then returned with more facts from 1963. Did you know that Dr Who first appeared on our TV screens during that year? Or that a new Ford Cortina would cost you £670? As I said earlier, I’d come along largely to see Steve and P J, but was pleasantly surprised by Gerry Marsden. I’ve seem him once before on a 60s show, around 20 years ago, and also enjoyed him on that occasion. He really is a total pro, and his old hits still sound good. Setlist: How do you do; I’m the one; The way you look tonight; It’s gonna be alright; The rose (the Bette Midler song); Midnight hour (sung by the bass player); I like it; Don’t let the sun catch you crying (just beautiful; a classic and one of my all time favourite songs); Shot of Rhythm and blues; Ferry cross the mersey; You’ll never walk alone (lots of crowd singing along, and arm swaying). All in all this was a good evening with some top class performers, who still know how to entertain. And Steve the mod is still a cool guy. On my way out I bought a great psych/mod repro poster from a 60s Love Affair gig, and signed by Steve for £7. Bargain!

Eric Burdon Newcastle 1976

Eric Burdon Newcastle 1976
Eric Burdon is a bit of a hero to me. His blues/soul voice is second to none, he has written some great songs (particularly in the late 60s, at the time of his hippy/San Francisco new-Animals phase), and he hails from the North East of England! I’ve seen him in concert quite a few times over the years, with several incarnations of his band, and with the reformed original Animals in the early 80s. I saw him a couple of times in the mid 70s, once at Newcastle Mayfair ballroom, and also at this gig at Newcastle City Hall in 1976 as part of the Newcastle Festival. Eric has had many line ups backing him over the years and his albums in the mid 70s were in a hard rock / funk vein. However I am pretty sure that the band and set for this gig was straight blues and included material such as Bring It On Home To Me; We Gotta Get Out Of This Place; Paint it Black; Tobacco Road and House Of The Rising Sun. I’ve never seen Eric do a bad performance. I have seen one or two times where he looked pretty worse for wear, but he has always delivered and his voice remains strong and soulfull to this day.

The Animals reunion Newcastle 1983

The Animals reunion Newcastle 1983
The Animals reformed in the early 80s for a tour, and to record a new album. This was the original line up of Eric Burdon, Alan Price, Hilton Valentine, Chas Chandler and John Steele, augmented by a few other musicians including Zoot Money. The tour took in two North East dates at Newcastle City Hall and Middlesbrough Town Hall. I went along to the City Hall date.The set was a mix of classic hits, such as Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood; House Of The Rising Sun; It’s My Life; Don’t Bring Me Down and We’ve Gotta Get Out Of This Place, plus R&B standards and tracks from the new lp. I remember I was somewhat disappointed that there weren’t more older tracks in the set. Perhaps not surprisingly they didn’t play any of the later Eric Burdon tracks which were hits for later versions of the Animals, such as Good Times, When I was Young etc. It was great to see the original line up playing back in their home town.

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

Eric Burdon at Maryport Blues Festival July 26 2009

Eric Burdon and the Animals
Maryport Blues Festival July 26 2009
Marie and I went across to the Maryport Blues Festival on Sunday specially to see Eric Burdon and his new Animals. We hadn’t planned on going to Maryport this year, but when I heard that Eric Burdon had been added as a late replacement for Taj Mahal, we decided to make the journey over to Cumbria to see him. We last saw Eric at Newcastle Tyne Theatre a good few years ago and his visits to the UK are all too rare these days.
We arrived in Maryport during the afternoon and had a few drinks in a couple of pubs on “the trail” catching a few bands on the way. We made our way up to the main marquee just before 7pm and took our places in the front row of people, right on the barriers. Eric and his band took the stage at aorund 7.15 starting with When I Was Young. Eric looks and sounds great, his voice is still strong. The set was a great mix of old songs. Eric was followed on stage by Ruby Turner, and by this time the marquee was full. We left around 10pm ; got home aorund midnight.

A great night

Setlist (something like, have probably missed some):
When I was young
Don’t bring me down
San Franciscan Nights
Don’t let me be misunderstood
The Night
Boom boom
I believe to my soul
It’s my life
Paint it Black
We gotta get out of this place
House of the rising sun