The Matt Goss Experience Newcastle Utilita Arena 21 April 2023

goss tixSecond night of a three night run of concerts. Which is, by the way, quite hectic for me these days! The first night was a concert by Mike and the Mechanics who I have already blogged about and were superb, followed by Matt Goss (more about Matt soon) and then finally, the last night of my 3 night binge was the fabulous Rasta Man Billy Ocean (blog entry to follow soon).

goss1Now imagine a concert where you just go along out of interest to see what someone is like. Of course, I remember Matt Goss as a member of Bros, teenybopper heroes who were not really my cup of tea at the time. My daughter Ashleigh was really into them however. I had read that Matt had rebuilt his career as a big Las Vegas star, singing Rat Pack, crooner type songs. Intriguing. So, I decided to go along just to see what he would be like. I didn’t really know what to expect, to be honest. So along I went with carer Jackie and guest sister-in-law Elaine. All of us wondering what Matt would be like.

goss 5To say it was a revelation is an understatement. I have never seen anyone who has turned around his career 360° and come out fighting, strong and simply superb. This guy has gone from being right up top as a youngster with his twin brother (who is also making his own success as an actor) to more or less disappearing, certainly from my view point, to rebirth as a new star in America and Vegas in particular. I have never seen anyone connect with the audience in the way that Matt Goss does. To say he reaches out to the audience doesn’t touch it. He literally walked right down into the crowd taking his time to talk to people, ask them where they came from (“Redcar, where is that? Oh, just past Middlesbrough”) and offer them a small glass of tequila to give a toast to the crowd (“keep the glass, it is a gift from me”) accompanied by his bodyguard at all times.

goss4You can just imagine him moving around the tables smoothly in Caesar’s Palace, Vegas. And then he is swiftly back up on stage singing his heart out. His voice is strong and he is accompanied by a full orchestra and excellent backing band and singers. A fantastic show. But I guess what else were we to expect given this guy goes down great in Las Vegas. We were all totally overwhelmed by it. This is a show to top all other shows. I am not exaggerating when I say it was one of the best concerts I have ever attended. No joke, this guy is the business. He has everything, no fear, totally authentic, great voice, looks just great, snazzy suit, great moves on stage and a repertoire of classic songs.

goss progSome of my favourite songs of all time from the Sinatra, Nat King Cole and Cole Porter stable. So, he sang “Luck Be a Lady Tonight”, the fabulous “Nature Boy” (one of my all-time favourite songs), Anthony Newley’s “Feeling Good” (another favourite of mine), “Birds Do It” (you know this one… Let’s Fall in Love), “Fly Me to the Moon” and (“it took me a long time to feel I earned the right to sing this one, but now I feel I can”) “My Way”. The classics keep coming. He throws in some new songs, which I obviously don’t know but sounded good; one is called “Mustang”. And he takes is back to his old band and “When Will I be Famous” and “I owe You Nothing”.

goss2Simply great. Jackie, Elaine and I are all in total agreement. We had all witnessed something special.

Set List (something like this, not necessarily in this order): Birds do it; Luck Be a Lady; Fave your feats; Nature Boy; I’m feeling good; Fly me to the moon;     Mustang; All About The Hang; Love for sale; The Day We Met; Every time we say goodbye; The Beautiful Unknown; When Will I Be Famous?; My Way; I owe You Nothing.

Mike and the Mechanics Sage Gateshead 20 April 2023

mike tixMike Rutherford has come a long way since I sat cross-legged on the ballroom floor in Sunderland Locarno watching Peter Gabriel and the rest of Genesis unfold magical tales such as “The Musical Box”, “Return of the Giant Hogweed” and climaxing in the rather spooky, swirling tones of “The Knife”. Somewhere in the background keeping the beat was the tall slender form of Mike Rutherford. And of course he also co-wrote the material. Roll forward 52 years and I have the pleasure of being in the company of Mike Rutherford once again, this time as front man and leader of Mike And The Mechanics, a band I have never, to my shame, witnessed before. At my time of life, I have decided to try and see as many people as possible including bands I have foolishly passed on previously.

mike4The announcement on the Sage website told me: “Mike & The Mechanics who have sold over ten million records worldwide – announce their  ‘Refueled! 2023 Tour – all the hits and a drop of Genesis.” Now the mention of a drop of Genesis intrigued me and further enticed me to attend the show.

mike2The website went on to introduce the band: “Mike + The Mechanics are Genesis founding member Mike Rutherford (Guitar) – one of the UK’s most prolific R&B singer, Andrew Roachford – Lead and backing vocals – (whose previous hits include Cuddly Tour and Family Man) and Canadian-born singer, Tim Howar – lead and backing vocals – who formed and toured with his band Vantramp, with the likes of Rod Stewart and Paulo Nutini. Tim shares vocal duties with Roachford and they both add a new soulful dimension to the band’s already established sound.” In fact the band also included, in another drop of Genesis, Phil Collins’ son Nic Collins on drums.

mike1Finally, I was promised: “The ‘Refueled!’ Tour in 2023, will include tracks from their critically acclaimed latest album ‘Out of the Blue’ plus some Genesis.  Their ninth album features re-workings of some of the band’s best loved tracks, including  ‘The Living Years’ and the unforgettable  ‘Over My Shoulder’, along with three brand new songs: ‘Out Of The Blue’, ‘One Way’, ‘What Would You Do’.”

The show is in two parts with a short interval. Set 1 consists of some new Mechanics material along with some more familiar. Also a hint of Genesis creeps in in the form of “Jesus He Knows Me”. The closing song is “Silent Running”. A great opening set.
mike3Set 2 starts off with some acoustic versions of familiar songs including the Genesis hit “Invisible Touch”. We move forward and back into an electric set with more Genesis in the form of “Follow You, Follow Me” and “I Can’t Dance”. Great versions of great songs.The band is excellent with exceptionally strong vocals from the duo of Tim Howart and Andrew Roachford.

mike5Roachford gets to sing his massive hit “Cuddly Toy” and then we move forward and towards the end with the wonderful, moving epic that is “The Living Years”, “All I Need Is a Miracle” and closer “Over My Shoulder”. The band return to a standing ovation and play a much deserved encore: “Word of Mouth”.
Throughout the evening’s proceedings the mighty Mike Rutherford stands quietly leading his band forwards through a wide-ranging set of classic songs that he has written with colleagues over the years. Now wouldn’t it be great if they had finished with “The Knife”. I can but dream


Set 1 Get Up; A Beggar on a Beach of Gold; Another Cup of Coffee; Are You Ready; Try to Save Me; Jesus He Knows Me; Let Me Fly; The Best Is Yet to Come; Silent Running;

Set 2 Wonder; Invisible Touch; Don’t Know What Came Over Me; Everybody Gets a Second Chance; Follow You Follow Me; I Can’t Dance; Cuddly Toy; The Living Years; All I Need Is a Miracle; Over My Shoulder.

Encore: Word of Mouth

The Damned Newcastle NX 7 April 2023

DAMNED TIXAnd so the mighty Damned continue forward into another chapter. Support came from the Nightingales. I must admit I am not familiar with their music but was quite impressed by them. After a short break The Damned took to the stage. I must admit there were a lot of new songs with which I was not familiar but it is some years since I last experienced The Damned live. Big mistake on my part. Anyway I was glad to be in a packed NX (formerly known as the Academy) watching the crowd go crazy for one of the best live bands around on the circuit. At one point close to the end The Captain said something like “Thanks to Brian James for putting the band together: thanks to us for inventing Punk, thanks to Dave for inventing Goth and to me for inventing Rap” now this might be a overstatement but I guess it isn’t too far from the truth. After all The Damned did release the first punk single “New Rose”, maybe Dave Vanian did sort of invent Goth, and I guess The Captain is referring to his single “Wot” which was a sort of early rap song. Whatever the truth the music business and we fans have much to thank The Damned for!DAMNED2
The first song I recognised was “Wait for the Blackout” and then there were a lot of new (to me anyway) songs. Dave was wearing a black hat with a large round brim (very stylish), dressed all in black, no white make-up (no need for it) and charged around the stage with as much energy as ever. The Captain was, as always, like a kid in a sweet shop just enjoying life and going crazy. He still wears his characteristic Tam and a hooped jumper. I recall meeting him in 1977 in Newcastle Poly. He looks just the same and is still that crazy kid who devoured a packet of crisps including wrapper in front of me! Respect!

DAMNED4The current line up of The Damned consists of: Dave Vanian; Captain Sensible; Paul Gray (on bass: I remember that name, yes he was in Eddie and the Hot Rods); Monty Oxymoron (crazy on keyboards) and Will Taylor on drums. And pretty great they remain!

DAMNED5We were soon on the home strait and the band crashed into classic after classic.”Love Song”, “Neat, Neat, Neat” moved into a mix of old songs including “Be Bop a Lula”! Class! Then “Eloise” (one of my favourite songs from the 60s, but hey guys, no one tops Barry Ryan and his version: the guy was my hero and role model when I was a kid!) “Smash It Up” and finally right back to the start and “New Rose”. These guys still know how to rock. Long may they do so.

DAMNED1Setlist: The Man With the Golden Arm; Street of Dreams; The Invisible Man; Wait for the Blackout; Lively Arts; Bad Weather Girl; You’re Gonna Realise; Western Promise; Beware of the Clown; Wake the Dead; Follow Me; Motorcycle Man; Leader of the Gang; From Your Lips; Born to Kill; Love Song; Second Time Around; Standing on the Edge of Tomorrow; Neat Neat Neat / 1969 / Folsom Prison Blues / Be Bop a Lula

Encore: Eloise; Smash It Up (Part 1 & 2);

Encore 2: Girl I’ll Stop at Nothing; New Rose

An evening with Priscilla Presley Newcastle Tyne Theatre 6 April 2023

pricilla tixNow this was a strange one. Should I go or not? What would she do/say? What would it be like? In the end I decided the only way to find out was to purchase a ticket and go along and see the lady myself.

Priscilla_Presley_&_Jack_Soden_-_Conversations_(4)The press release for the UK tour told me: “Actress and businesswoman Priscilla Presley today announces her first UK Tour; ‘An Evening with Priscilla Presley.’ Priscilla is the former wife of Elvis Presley, as well as co-founder and former chairwoman of Elvis Presley Enterprises, the company that turned Graceland into one of the top tourist attractions in the USA. She has starred in many classic film and TV Series including ‘Naked Gun’ and ‘Dallas’. In intimate conversation with Radio and TV presenter Edith Bowman, Priscilla will share personal stories from her illustrious career, life and marriage to the King of Rock n Roll. Audiences will be treated to never-before-seen home footage of Priscilla and Elvis Presley.”

Elvis_Presley_and_Priscilla_with_Lisa_Marie_February_1968As it turned out it was a very enjoyable evening. The night was in two parts. The first half was Priscilla being interviewed by Edith (see above) who had been with her for the entire UK tour (and Newcastle was the last night of the tour). They sat beside each other in lovely comfy chairs while Priscilla talked about how she first met Elvis in Germany in the early 60s. She was over there because her father was in the military and he was stationed in Germany at the same time as Elvis was serving as a GI over there. Somehow through a mutual friend Priscilla was invited to a party which Elvis was also attending. Her parents would not let her go, but somehow, she managed to get along and she and Elvis met and a relationship began. At first her parents would not let her meet Elvis but eventually they relented, but only on the condition that Priscilla’s father or mother accompanied her. She was 14 years old at the time.

Events_marking_designation_of_Graceland_Mansion,_home_of_Elvis_Presley,_Memphis,_Tennessee,_as_National_Historic_Landmark,_with_appearance_by_actress_Priscilla_Presley_-_DPLA_-_b7d9c55b37ad1daf8593eea53b980d (1)Priscilla told us “there was no physical relationship until much later.” Anyway, the friendship blossomed into a love affair and when they returned to The States the couple were married. All of the above was accompanied by some video footage of the time. Priscilla continued to talk about her life with Elvis, the birth of her sadly recently passed daughter Lisa Marie, and how things started to go wrong during the Las Vegas years, which saw Elvis having parties with lots of friends and girls in attendance. She talked about her love of Graceland and how, for financial reasons, they had to open the gates to the public. She is clearly still very involved with, and very protective of, the Graceland estate and Elvis’ heritage. She also spoke of her time in Dallas and showed some footage from the programme.

priscilla bookThe final session took the form of questions from the audience. You could write a question on a card and Edith selected a few which she asked to Priscilla. One that sticks in my mind was “what was it like to have Michael Jackson as a son-in-law?” Priscilla paused to think a little. She revealed that she actually saw very little of Michael, and that he would purposely hide from her if she was visiting Lisa Marie. You got the impression that she was not entirely comfortable with the relationship. Throughout the evening she was a perfect lady, she looked lovely at 77 years old and clearly was enjoying her visit to the UK. The house was full and the first few rows of attendees all had lovely little booklets; they had clearly bought VIP tickets which included meeting Priscilla for a considerable premium. In some ways I wish I had done it. Photography was strictly outlawed so the pictures I have here are courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. I purchased a book about Elvis from eBay just out of interest.

Steve Hillage Newcastle University 23 March 2023

hillage tix1 is, in his own quiet way, a guitar innovator. His pedigree is strong and impressive and last night, reminded me just what a great guitarist the man is. As usual, and no apologies, the night brought back many memories of the man himself and of the venue. Steve Hillage currently has two identities (in fact, probably more): (1) as a reborn trance hero in the band System 7 and (2) he is now out on the road fronting a new Steve Hillage band, drawing from his classic mid – 1970s albums, such as my favourite L.

hillage adFirstly, memories of the venue came flooding back partly as I tried to work out in my head where Newcastle University Students Union Ballroom (or equivalent) might be these days. The last time I frequented said venue was during the 1980s witnessing great performances by bands such as Rip, Rig and Panic (featuring a fledgling Neneh Cherry, who had just left the Slits, and sometimes her father Don), Haircut 100 and The Cure. All of those concerts took place in the larger upstairs ballroom; a venue where I witnessed some great punk gigs during the 1970s including the Clash White Riot tour. (Tour advert from Steves site)

hillage picSome of the concerts including Sandie Shaw (rejuvenated by a collaboration with Morrissey at the time as I recall), Punishment of Luxury and the Au Pairs took place in a lower, smaller, hall named “The Canteen” (because that is exactly what it was during the day!). I was told that wheelchair access was via a lift through the students union building and the Co-op shop! Actually, those directions worked well and some helpful students directed me and my carer Jackie towards a lift which took us downstairs to the venue; I half recognised the hall, it may have been what I once knew as the Canteen. Anyway, sorry for going around the houses to say that we managed to get to the concert okay. However, by the time we arrived the hall was full and the best vantage point we could find was at the side of the stage. (picture of Steve from my ticket)

hillage 4Secondly, Steve Hillage, psychedelic guitar wizard and inventor of the “glissando guitar” as exemplified by Steve’s wonderful soloing on his reinvention of the Donovan classic “Hurdy-Gurdy Glissando”. I have seen Steve Hillage several times over the years and he always strikes me as a quiet unassuming guy, and yet he has in his own quiet way achieved so much and forged a rich career along the way. I first came across Steve Hillage when he was a member of Khan, an early psychedelic band who I think I saw supporting Caravan in the early 1970s. I then saw him as a member of Gong and as part of Kevin Ayres band.

He soon ventured out on his own and released a clutch of great albums including the aforementioned L. During this period, I saw him headlining Newcastle City Hall on a couple of occasions, supporting Queen at their free concert in Hyde Park and somewhat bizarrely, joining Sham 69 on stage at the Reading Festival, a concert that was marred by fights in the crowd, although Steve’s performance with Jimmy Pursey of Sham was meant to signify that progressive rock and punk/skinhead music can stand together (“If the Kids Are United”).

hillage 3Roll forward to the Steve Hillage band 2023 in concert. Shortly after we arrived the band took to the stage, with lots of colourful lighting, wailing saxophone and electronica/psych keyboard wizardry courtesy of Steve’s long-term partner Miquette Giraudy. I am unsure who the rest of the band were, but I suspect they consisted of some current members of Gong, who continue to perform without any original members but with the blessing of Hillage and founder member, the late great Daevid Allen. After some wonderful twirling, swirling sounds the music soon took shape and morphed into Steve’s cover of the Beatles “It’s All Too Much” from L.

hillage blueAn excellent start to an evening of great music mixing tracks from throughout the band leader’s career. Some I recognised, several not, but they all featured great guitar dexterity from Mr Hillage. One he introduced as a Kevin Ayres song, in tribute to his former band leader. I suspect there was also a Gong track or two in the mix. Steve stood quietly centre stage sporting a short haircut (very unlike the 1970s proto-hippie Hillage we all know and love) and an intriguing looking guitar with no top stock. Soon we were at the end which featured further excellent guitar on “Hurdy-Gurdy Glissando”. The first encore started with some techno psych leading into The Move’s “I Can Hear the Grass Grow”.

hillage 5As we left, the band came back for a second encore (I think from reports of other shows on the tour this may have been Jimi Hendrix’s “Are You Experienced?”). The lift we came down on didn’t seem to work anymore, however a friendly guy soon took us to another much smaller lift, which we squeezed into, arriving at a different part of the University. We followed a few ramps and soon found our taxi, waiting to take us home.

Support came from Utopia Strong featuring none other than Steve Davis snooker star (thanks to Terriersfan for pointing this out to me: see comment below)

The Manfreds Customs House South Shields 10 March 2023

“5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1…… It was the Manfreds”

manfred ticketA night of nostalgia. The Manfreds are basically the 1960s Manfred Mann band without Manfred Mann; that is before he left and eventually ended up fronting the Earth Band which he does to this day. The ManfredS take two forms: one with both singers Paul Jones and Mike D’abo fronting and the other with Paul Jones alone fronting the band. Tonight it is the latter of the two formations, which is more of a hits/jazz/blues combo as you might expect from the great man Paul Jones who is now in his early 80s and still on great form.

manfred 2So tonight’s concert, which is in two parts with a short interval consists of a mix of old (pre-Mike D’abo; that is Paul Jones) era Manfred Mann hits, plenty of vintage blues, and some Paul Jones new solo album material mixed in. The first set is mostly blues with some great vocals and mouth harp from Paul Jones who looks good, sounds good and twists some great blues licks from his large collection of different key mouth blues harps which perch on the mic stand. Interspersed with that is the Bob Dylan cover (one of several which were a hit for Manfred Mann) “Just like a Woman” and the McGuinness Flint hit “Malt and Barley Blues”. Tom McGuinness is a member of the band (he was in Manfred Mann before forming McGuinness Flint) and turns out to be one of the stars of the evening with some great guitar work. They also sing Burt Bacharach’s “My Little Red Book” which was covered by Manfred Mann in the 1960s. Somewhere along the way there are plenty of blues songs including classics such as “Smokestack Lightning”. The closing song on the first set is one of Manfred Mann’s massive hits the wonderful “Pretty Flamingo”. Just great.

manfred 1During the interval I catch a drink and purchase a couple of Paul Jones CDs which the man himself autographs for me; one for myself and one for my friend John in the USA. I am careful not to drink too much as I am still suffering from my misbehaviour the evening before at the Martin Carthy concert (see previous blog entry to read of my misbehaviour). The second set opens with another big chart hit “5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1”. We are soon treated to another classic song “Oh no! Not my Baby”, this one written by Carole King. Then Tom McGuinness comes up front for the McGuinness Flint hit “When I’m Dead and Gone” which, he reminds me was written by Gallagher and Lyle who were in the band alongside Tom McGuinness and Hughie Flint, before they went on to have many solo hits. I last saw McGuinness Flint supporting Humble Pie (or was it Wishbone Ash) at Newcastle Odeon in the early 70s. Then the band complete the show with “The Mighty Quinn” (another Dylan song, and sung originally by Mike D’abo, as I recall) and “Do Wah Diddy Diddy”. The encore is (most appropriately) “If You Gotta Go Go Now” (yet another Dylan song). And so it is over. A great night of classic 60s hits, and some great blues. At the end of a busy week of three concerts: Graham Gouldman, Martin Carthy and the Manfreds.

Thanks to Jackie for taking the photographs.

Set list.

Set 1: Tengo Tango; The One in the Middle; Sha La La; Malt and Barley Blues; Just Like a Woman; Choose or Cop Out; My Little Red Book; People Get Ready; I’m Your Kingpin; Smokestack Lightning; Losing You to the Blues in Me; Pretty Flamingo.

Set 2: 5-4-3-2-1; Watermelon Man; How Lucky Can One Man Be; Oh No! Not My Baby; Diamond in the Sand; Got to Be the Blues; Put It Where You Want It; When I’m Dead and Gone; Quinn the Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn); Do Wah Diddy Diddy.

Encore: If You Gotta Go, Go Now.

Martin Carthy Durham Launderette 9 March 2023

carthy ticketThe last time I had the pleasure of being in the company of Martin Carthy was when I saw him, then a member of folk rock band Steeleye Span, supporting Jethro Tull at Sunderland Empire in 1971. Roll on 52 years and I am once again witnessing a performance by a man who has, quite rightly in my view, earned the title of “the Father of British folk music”.

The Durham Launderette is a quirky, exquisite venue. It is by day an ordinary launderette, used by the public to bring along their bags of washing. By evening it transforms into an intimate venue, which hosts concerts by folk artists and others. It cannot hold more than 60 or so people. My daughter, Laura, has performed there twice with her band the Shining Levels.

carthy 3The Laundrette announced the concert thus: “For more than 50 years Martin Carthy has been one of folk music’s greatest innovators, one of its best loved, most enthusiastic and, at times, most quietly controversial of figures. His skill, stage presence and natural charm have won him many admirers…….Trailblazing musical partnerships with, amongst others, Steeleye Span, Dave Swarbrick and his award-winning wife (Norma Waterson) and daughter Eliza Carthy have resulted in more than 40 albums… [Including]… 10 solo albums. [He has]…influenced a generation of artists, including Bob Dylan and Paul Simon.”

“Arguably the greatest English folk song performer, writer…… of them all’ Q Magazine

“Carthy is a master of the ballad of substance, songs that tell stories, whether they are traditional, his own or from contemporary writers.’ The Telegraph

And so it was that my carer Elaine and I joined a packed house of Carthy fans and devotees to see a folk legend in the first of two nights at the venue. Martin was supported by a young lady who had come over from the Netherlands to study at Newcastle University on their highly regarded Masters in Traditional Folk Music. She has since stayed on as a performer of traditional English folk. She performed (to my shame her name escapes me) some lovely songs including an exquisite version of “The Sparrow”.

carthy 2Martin looked great wearing a brightly coloured shirt, a red scarf which he removed and placed on his guitar case, and two gold earrings in his left ear. He is a great storyteller, starting each song with a prolonged introduction setting the scene for the tale which would unfold in the song, and explaining to us from where, and from whom, the song originated. Sometimes he might have to think a little in order to remember the names of the songs origins, but hey, respect to the guy who is now in his early 80s. Each song comes from a poem, an old folktale, or an ancient ballad. He crafts each one carefully. He includes the traditional “Scarborough fair” which features on his first, early 1960s, album and was since made famous by Simon and Garfunkel, Paul Simon probably having picked up the song from Martin when he toured the UK folk clubs in the 1960s.

Other tales included “Napoleon’s Dream” a traditional song with a long, interesting history: “Gale Huntington… commented: “This is another of the songs that show so clearly the strength of the Napoleonic myth. The line, “From that land of your fathers who boast they are free,” seems to indicate that this particular Napoleon song is American. But most of the song has the feel of an Irish lament.” (From the website: Mainly Norfolk: English Folk and Other Good Music). Martin spent a lot of time telling us about Napoleon, his life and ultimate downfall. Fascinating stuff from a masterful storyteller.

carthy 4Another song was about Bendigo: “The Noble Fox-Hunting, also known as Dido Bendigo and The Duke’s Hunt, is a hunting song from England. English folk song collector A.L. Lloyd describes the song: “A stirring old hunting song known all over England from Cumberland to Cornwall.…… and, though the name of the sporting Duke may vary, the list of hounds stays much the same. Country people must have loved to roll the grandiloquent syllables of names like Dido and Bendigo around their mouths… The song has had a long life and still flourishes.” …… “Dido Bendigo describes the excitement of a noble fox hunt: the Duke of Wellington and some of his noble friends set out with their brave fox hounds, and each fox meets with a dreaded fate as they try to escape.” (From site). Again, Martin spent time explaining the story, its history and origin and the name of the guy who originally “gave it to him”. Another major lesson in storytelling both in word, song and music.

Martin treated us to two sets with a short interval. Quite unlike me, but hey I enjoyed it, I had a bottle of Budweiser at the start of the evening, a large glass of red after the young lady’s set and a gin and tonic during Martin’s interval. My head was reeling by the end of the evening. I am not sure how much of this was from the power of the stories and how much was down to the alcohol!

Sadly, our taxi was awaiting us, so we had to sneak out before the end, which was a shame. A wonderful evening, with the legend, folk singer, storyteller and lovely gentleman that is Martin Carthy.

And thank you Martin for signing my ticket which I will treasure.

Graham Gouldman – Heart Full of Songs Fire Station Sunderland 07 March 2023

gouldman tixThis man is a walking jukebox! Not only did he write/co – write all of the hits of the magnificent 10CC, he also penned many of the hits, all songs I loved and still love, from the 60s. So, when I saw he was appearing at the Fire Station in Sunderland I just had to go along.

The Fire Station announced the concert thus: “It is only between 10cc’s sell-out, bi-annual UK tours that the band’s co-founder Graham Gouldman is able to fully indulge his Heart Full of Songs project and take it on tour. The semi-acoustic four-piece performs a broad spread of Graham’s song-writing catalogue, including chart hits for 10cc, the Hollies, Herman’s Hermits, the Yardbirds, Jeff Beck and his time in Wax with Andrew Gold. The band line-up comprises Graham, 10cc live band members Iain Hornal and Keith Hayman, and Dave Cobby. When Graham formed what became Heart Full of Songs nine years ago, it was purely for the pleasure of playing his songs in their simplest form, acoustically. For lovers of perfectly-crafted music performed by the composer, a Heart Full of Songs concert is truly an exquisite experience.”

Gouldman2Graham started acoustically with one other guitarist Andy song which I didn’t know he had written: “Pamela, Pamela” which was a UK hit for the late Wayne Fontana. A simple song with a very catchy tune. Lovely. Then he started to sing a series of songs which mean so much to me and were such an important part of my youth. With each song, Graham introduced a new band member until the stage was full of a set of four excellent musicians. And so he delivered: “Heart Full of Soul” which was a hit for the Yardbirds, the late great Jeff Beck’s guitar solo still jangling around my brain; the bittersweet tale that the note in a milk bottle can bring (Graham explained his father brought him the title for the song after seeing a milk bottle with such a note one day): “No Milk Today”, a hit for Herman’s Hermits, and then moving forward to a 10CC hit “Good Morning Judge”. It doesn’t come any better than this.

640px-Graham_Gouldman_2010A few more songs in and then another classic, again inspired by a conversation with a family member about looking through windows as the bus passed by each house: “Look through Any Window” a big hit for The Hollies, one of my all-time favourite bands. Graham explained that when he was inducted into the rock ‘n’ roll Hall of Fame there was only one song he could choose and that had to be his favourite (and mine) “Bus Stop” which he wrote, again for the Hollies. Another excellent 60s pop song. Somewhere in there he sang a big hit which, to my shame, I had forgotten: “Bridge to your heart” which he co-wrote with the late great Andrew Gold in their short lived collaboration band Wax.

Of course, he also had to sing: “I’m Not in Love” the epic 10CC song which he co-wrote with Eric Stewart. And it sounded great, even without the 1000 or so over layered voices that featured on the original single. “For Your Love” again by the Yardbirds was his first big hit and deserved to be so. Other hits followed, ending with another story “Dreadlock Holiday”.

Pictures courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Setlist (maybe not in this order, however): Pamela, Pamela; Heart Full of Soul; No Milk Today; Good Morning Judge; Sunburn; Love’s Not for Me; Look Through Any Window; Daylight; Dancing Days; Bridge to Your Heart; Floating in Heaven; I’m Not in Love; That’s Love Right There; Bus Stop; Ariella; The Things We Do for Love; Standing Next to Me; Memory Lane; For Your Love; Ready to Go Home; Dreadlock Holiday.

It’s my life… An exhibition of Mod & 60s culture Newcastle library 25 February 2023

About the Event (from their website):

exibit1“Jools and Paul Donnelly have been avid collectors of all things vintage since the late 70s with a particular focus on the 1960s mod scene.  Both Jools and Paul have a passion for mod culture and since first meeting they have combined their collection some of which will form part of this exhibition at Newcastle City Library.  The collection includes vintage ladies and men’s mod clothing, shoes and accessories, ‘mod’ magazines, records and books. Their love of the 60s era motivated them to successfully lobby Newcastle Council for a heritage plaque at the site of the legendary Club a ‘Gogo. They have also written a book on the Club a ‘Gogo and the mod scene of 1960s Newcastle, on sale now.”

ex6Jools And Paul kindly invited me to their exhibition at Newcastle Library which, I must say, is pretty impressive to say the least. The couple have amassed an excellent and extensive collection of all things mod in Newcastle in the 1960s. The exhibition brought back lots of memories of my own early teenage years in Sunderland when I would go to Sunderland Top Rank Suite (the Rink) on a Saturday morning and dance along (yes, I had the bottle to dance in those days, which I lost somewhere along the path of life) to great pop/mod classics as Small Faces “All or Nothing”, Love Affair’s “Everlasting Love” and Barry Ryan’s epic operatic “Eloise”. I thought I was a young mod in my hipsters and Paisley “Rave” shirt. I even got dressed specially for the occasion, wearing a Vivian Westwood T-shirt with lovely ballerinas all over it, my best new Beatles Chelsea winklepicker boots and a pair of tiny round John Lennon sunglasses. You can never keep an old mod down! Jools and Paul kindly stood next to me for some selfies. Many thanks.

exhibit 1exhib2The exhibition contains records, 60s magazines and classic clothing from the era. Much respect! Encouraged by their collection, I went home, straight on to eBay, and bought a couple of folders containing Record Song Books from “back in the day”. The exhibition runs until the end of the month and I recommend you go along and see it. Aye, it takes you back. Wonderful.

club bookMany thanks to Jools and Paul for signing my copy of their excellent book which tells the story of everything mod in 1960s Newcastle. Wonderful! It’s a great read and takes me right back to the 60s and many of the bands I wish I had seen back in the day! Never mind I have tried to catch up since

From their website: “Through extensive interviews with the original mods and club goers of theclub signed North East, they tell us their story, a story of what it was really like to be young in those glory years of Newcastle’s musical history. Newcastle in the 1960s was known as a ‘Mod Mecca’ the book describes the mod haunts, the clubs, the scooters, the music and of course their love of clothes. Covering also Newcastle’s Beat and jazz scene and the early days of The Animals. But above all this is the story of the thrill of being a teenager and of their sheer joy for life spent in a Newcastle that sadly no longer exists. For anyone who has an interest in the mod scene and of the social history of 1950s and 60s, Newcastle this book is a must.”

Seriously, Jools and Paul have put together a great concept and project which chronicles everything mod and 60s. Do visit their site there is lots going on there!

Thanks again Peter

Black Star Riders Newcastle City Hall 24 February 2023

blacktixSometime in 1971. Sunderland Locarno upstairs bar. I see a tall black guy in the corner of the bar and wonder who he is. I go up and have a quick chat. An hour or so later the band take the stage and the same tall black guy is fronting them. They are called Thin Lizzy and are pretty good too! The black guy is, of course, Phil Lynott. I am 14, Phil is 21.

whiskey1973 and I’m watching Top of the Pops. Thin Lizzy appear, playing “Whiskey in the Jar” which is in the chart at the time. I go out and buy the single.

1975 – late 1970s. The Lizzy, with a new line – up featuring twin lead guitars, one of whom has really cool, long, blonde hair and is an American called Scott Gorham become absolutely massive. I see them many times at Newcastle City Hall and headlining the Reading Festival. They are an absolutely first class live band. “The Boys Are Back in Town” becomes an anthem for us all.

Phil_Lynott_Statue_at_Bruxelles_Dublin 2023Early 1980s. Middlesbrough Town Hall. Quite empty. Phil Lynott’s Grand Slam are appearing. Phil doesn’t look well. His face is bloated. The performance is not very inspiring.

4 January 1986. Phil Lynott passes away. He is 36. The cause is heart failure and drugs. Such a waste.

10 years or so later. I visit Dublin once a month for several years through work. I proudly have my picture taken next to a statue of Phil. Somewhere along the way I lose the photograph. However, I include here an image of the start you courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

black6Early 2000s. Thin Lizzy are headlining Newcastle City Hall again. This new version of the band comprises Scott Gorham, drummer Brian Downey and front man Ricky Warwick, who sounds quite a lot like Phil Lynott. They are surprisingly good and do justice to the Lizzy legacy.

black52012 and Thin Lizzy become Black Star Riders after writing new material and the departure of Brian Downey. Somewhere along the way Scott retires and the band continues. The new material sounds true to the Lizzy style and they continue flying the Lizzy flag high. They have become the natural progression in the next part of the Thin Lizzy saga.

2023 and Black Star Riders are headlining Newcastle City Hall. It is their tenth anniversary tour and Scott has re-joined his bandmates for this tour. Support acts are Michael Monroe (formerly from Hanoi Rocks) and Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons (Phil Campbell was guitarist in Motorhead).

black7We arrived late and Michael Monroe was already on stage climbing up onto the balcony. By the time I said to my carer Jackie “Quick. Take a photo” Michael was hanging down from the balcony and dropping back onto the stage. He was just as I imagined, a manic blonde showman. I never got to see Hanoi Rocks but I can imagine them as a crazy glam punk power rock band. The closing song is Credence Clearwater Revivals’ “Up around the Bend”. I tell my daughter Ashleigh who was a big Hanoi Rocks fan. That’s a Hanoi Rocks song she tells me so I figure they must have recorded it! It gets a great reception from the crowd who probably also think of it as a Hanoi Rocks song rather than a classic by Credence Clearwater Revival. John Fogarty is one of my heroes and one of the best gigs I ever went to was seeing him at Manchester Apollo. But that’s a story from a past blog entry! I buy Ashleigh a signed Michael Monroe CD and she is over the moon with it!

black4After a short wait, at 9:30 PM spot-on time, the Phil Campbell backdrop disappears and is replaced by a very impressive Black Star Riders drop. I suppose I’m amazed how much of a following the band has amassed in its own right. This is not the remnants of Thin Lizzy or a Thin Lizzy tribute band. This is a fully fledged rock band of its own right, led by the very impressive Ricky Warwick who continue the Thin Lizzy legacy in their own way, producing new songs which hark back to Lizzy and yet have a significance of their own. Magical. Phil must be up there proud of how his legacy continues to thrive and move onward and forward.

black3A few songs in and they perform a wild heavy version of the Osmond’s “Crazy Horses”. Well, I always knew it was a heavy rock song! After a few more songs they are joined by Scott Gorham who looks older, and yet cooler and still playing great guitar. His long mane of blonde hair has somehow been transferred to the young guitarist in Black Star Riders. There really is some sort of magic in the air! At one point in the set, they are joined by Phil Campbell and later on Michael Monroe comes on for one song also.

black2A few more songs into the set and we are treated to Lizzy’s “Don’t Believe a Word”. Class; it all takes me back to the 1970s. Towards the end they play “Jailbreak”. One more song and then it is 11 PM and time to go home, content in the knowledge that the legacy of Thin Lizzy remains safe in the hands and voice of Ricky Warwick and the rest of Black Star Riders. You have done a great job Scott, continuing to fly the Lizzy flag and somehow, miraculously, managing to hand it safely over to the Black Star Riders. I wonder what that young 21-year-old Phil I chatted to over 50 years ago would make of it all? Happy days

Setlist: Pay Dirt; Another State of Grace; Better Than Saturday Night; When the Night Comes In; Riding Out the Storm; Wrong Side Of Paradise; Crazy Horses; All Hell Breaks Loose; Bloodshot; Soldierstown; Don’t Believe a Word (with Phil Campbell); Blindsided; The Killer Instinct; Before the War; Testify or Say Goodbye; Tonight the Moonlight Let Me Down (with Michael Monroe); Kingdom of the Lost; Bound for Glory; Jailbreak; Finest Hour.