Posts Tagged ‘classic rock’

Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets Newcastle City Hall 3 May 2022

NICK TIXNick Mason, drummer of Pink Floyd fame, has assembled a band of fine musicians to go out on the road and play a wonderful set of early Pink Floyd classic songs, many from the Syd Barrett era. As soon I heard of this development, I was intrigued and could not resist going to say then when a north-east gig was announced some time ago. The concert had been rearranged, due to Covid, so I was keenly waiting for this event to actually take place.

NICK 2Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets are an English rock band formed in 2018 to perform the early music of Pink Floyd. The band comprises Pink Floyd drummer and co-founder Nick Mason, bassist Guy Pratt, guitarists Gary Kemp and Lee Harris, and keyboardist Dom Beken. As many fans had discovered Pink Floyd with their bestselling 1973 album The Dark Side of the Moon, Mason wanted to bring their earlier material to a wider audience.”(From Wikipedia). Bassist Guy Pratt was a member of a later incarnation of Pink Floyd and Gary Karen was, of course, a founder member of 1980s band Spandau Ballet.

The stage was set out with Nick Mason in the centre (very much the star of the show and the evening), surrounded by his band of musicians. Behind, and around them, was a very appropriate backdrop of psychedelic liquid lens images; setting the scene for an evening of early psychedelic rock. Fantastic. We arrived just in time to experience an amazing version of “One Of These Days”, the opening track of Meddle, and the very same song which I saw Pink Floyd play in the City Hall in early 1972. This was followed by going back in time to the classic Syd Barrett NICK 1song “Arnold Layne”. The band did a great job of recreating the music, ethos and atmosphere of these early classics. Gary Kemp in particular, is to be applauded for his tremendous guitar work and vocals. Indeed, each member of the band is clearly an accomplished musician and together they stunned the crowd with a concert which was authentic to the original Pink Floyd musical textures. The rest of the first set comprised a mixture of songs from early Floyd albums including less well-known tracks such as “Obscured by Clouds” and the wonderful “Remember a Day”. The first half of the show concluded with an uplifting, mesmerising version of “Set the Controls for the Heart of the sun”, complete with drum rhythms and gongs. Another song which I remember Floyd performing at that 1972 concert which now seems eons away in the distant past. The instrumentals were particularly well performed. A short interval followed during which I had time to partake in a pint of Hobgoblin (no Guinness, sadly).

NICK 4The second half opened by taking us right back to the start with classic guitar-based tunes “Interstellar Overdrive” and “Astronomy Domine”, two of my favourite early Pink Floyd tracks. We were then treated to a few less known, at least by me, songs and the second set ended with Barrett’s “Lucifer Sam” and Meddle’s standout track, Pink Floyd favourite, “Echoes”. A very appropriate closer for an excellent selection of songs.

But the crowd wouldn’t let the band leave without the song many of us were waiting to hear. For the first time I was treated to a live version of “See Emily Play”. So many memories bounced around in my head; mainly of loving the tune so much in the early 1970s when it was played constantly at Sunderland Locarno (with everyone running onto the dancefloor, except me, to do crazy handwaving hippy dances). Then more faultless instrumental psychedelic meanderings with “a Saucerful of Secrets” and the final closer Syd Barrett’s quirky, childlike tune “Bike”. David, Elaine and I all agreed it was a great concert.

NICK 5I treated myself to a signed drum skin and a T-shirt (sadly no programme). Many thanks to David for his expert photography and to Elaine and Chris for placing me safely into my bed at the end of a great evening. Thank you Nick for putting together a band worthy of the songs, their leader and the band name. Classic. Happy days.

Setlist: One of These Days; Arnold Layne; Fearless; Obscured by Clouds; Candy and a Currant Bun; Vegetable Man; If; Atom Heart Mother; If (reprise); Remember a Day; Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun.

Interval

Interstellar Overdrive; Astronomy Domine; The Nile Song; Burning Bridges; Childhood’s End; Lucifer Sam; Echoes.

Encore: See Emily Play; A Saucerful of Secrets; Bike

Robert Plant and Saving Grace Middlesbrough Town Hall 25 April 2022

SAVING GRACE TIXMy head is still reeling with the music and sounds from last night. And the concert raised so many questions for me. Why is the rock legend, rock god, who is Robert Plant playing small venues such as Middlesbrough Town Hall and not singing any Led Zeppelin songs? After all he could reform Led Zeppelin, as many promoters and ex-bandmate Jimmy Page would apparently like him to do, and earn megabucks. Yet he chooses not to. And why do so many people turn out to see Robert Plant sing with a relatively unknown female vocalist, Suzi Dian (who has an exquisite voice by the way), and perform a set of mostly obscure songs which the majority of the audience would not be familiar with? Yet why did I come away from the concert feeling so fulfilled, elated and exhilarated?

It is some years since I have been to Middlesbrough Town Hall. The last time I was there was to see Morrissey with my daughter, Laura. I wondered how I would get in to the venue in a wheelchair. I need not have worried. No longer is there a requirement to walk up a large flight of stairs to take you into the venue. They have built a new accessible entrance around the corner which took me to a lift and upstairs into the, very familiar, main hall; a lovely old panelled building in which I have seen many acts over the years including Siouxsie and the Banshees, AC/DC, Van Morrison, Procol Harem, the Hollies and too many more to list (or remember). Lisa my carer and I were led to our seats close to the stage. I was seated at the end of the role, a little squashed, but with an excellent view of the stage. First up was singer-songwriter Scott Matthews who opened the proceedings with a set of fine tunes which warmed up the crowd well. Following a short interval, during which I chatted to an old friend and colleague and had a lovely cool pint of Guinness, Saving Grace took to the stage.

saveing graceSaving Grace is very much a band. Of course people had turned out to see the main man, Robert Plant. But Robert is simply a singer in the band along with Suzi. The rest of Saving Grace comprises two guitarists and a percussionist; all excellent musicians in their own right and also providing some backing vocals. Lisa mentioned that the main hall may have been a church in earlier days (I must check this out). It certainly has stained glass windows on one side and a large church – like organ behind the stage. Tonight it certainly became “a church” in which we all enjoyed a spiritual and soulful journey led by a man who has explored spiritual themes throughout his career; “Stairway to Heaven” being one obvious example. The set comprised songs which Robert, unashamedly, has chosen because they have influenced him and touched him over the years. So there were the traditional such as “The Cuckoo” and “Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down”, old blues songs and classic progressive/psychedelic tracks including “It’s a Beautiful Day Today” by Moby Grape and (one of my all-time favourite songs) “Season of the Witch” by Robert’s old friend Donovan. The stage setup was quite basic with a simple curtain backdrop naming the band and unobtrusive lighting. But the music was exquisite, challenging, soulful and beautiful. Robert shared the vocals with Suzi and, in many cases, took us through the story of the song and what it meant to him. He even forgot which song he was introducing at one point and Suzi came over and whispered in his ear; tactfully correcting his mistake. There were references to performing at Redcar Jazz Club in 1966 with Long John Baldry. Many of the audience clapped, showing their age! “Season of the Witch “, led by Suzi, transformed into “For What It’s Worth” by Buffalo Springfield at one point; another reference point to Robert’s roots. The final song was an old Richard and Linda Thompson track, again taking us back to the late 60s/early 70s. The lights went up to signify the end of the show. But the crowd weren’t ready to leave just yet. Everyone stood up and cheered until the band returned.

SAVING GRACE 2Oh, and I must not forget that they sang a couple of songs by new American band Low. Robert spoke highly of them; another thing to check out. I learned lots of things last night. The final song was performed a cappella with the band all coming together at the front, arms entwined, singing the beautiful “And We Bid You Good Night”. Robert playfully said “see you soon at Kirklevington country club”. For some moments I believed this to be serious. But then I don’t think the wonderful venue that was referred to as “the Kirk”, and was 10 miles or so south of Middlesbrough, exists any more. Of course, Robert played there with his band the Honeydrippers many years ago. We wandered out into the cool dark Middlesbrough night, everyone chatting and looking at each other, each of us knowing we had just had the privilege of experiencing something very special and unique. The 45 minute taxi ride flew over and I was soon safely back home.

Returning to my questions which I can now partly answer. Why is Robert playing intimate venues with a set of semi-obscure songs? The answer lies in the man that is Robert Plant. He sings because he wants to and he has to; singing lies deep within his soul. And he chooses to share with us some of the songs which are important to him, hoping in doing so that we will enjoy the concert experience and learn a little more about the man and his music. And why do we all turn out to see Robert Plant? Because somewhere over the years his music has touched each and everyone of us in a different place, and a different time. For me it lies in important memories of seeing Led Zeppelin in 1971 at Newcastle City Hall and Sunderland Locarno; in Earls Court in 1975; Knebworth in 1979; more recently at the O2 Arena and solo many other times. There is a magical quality about Robert Plant. Long may he invite us to share evenings of his songs and memories.

Many thanks to Ned my taxidriver, Lisa for accompanying me to the concert, and Chris for helping me back into bed. And thanks once more to Robert Plant for sharing some of his songs, his memories and his soul with me; one more time.

Setlist (something like this, with several missed out!):

Angel Dance; The Cuckoo; I Don’t Wanna Hear It; Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down; Everybody’s Song; It’s a Beautiful Day Today; Monkey;  As I Roved Out; Too Far From You; Chevrolet; Season of the Witch, For What Its Worth; House of Cards.

Encore: Down To the Sea; And We Bid You Goodnight

 

The Lindisfarne Story Gala Theatre Durham 23 April 2022

lynd tix 2022It is almost a month since my last concert and I was feeling quite ready for another evening out. I decided a couple of months ago it was about time I caught up on the legendary Lindisfarne again. Well, as those of you who are fans will realise, there are in fact two versions of the band in operation at the moment. The first, which I went to see last night, is The Lindisfarne Story which features original drummer Ray Laidlaw and long-time friend of the band (and a member of offshoot Jack The Lad and sometimes a member of the later incarnations of Lindisfarne) singer and acoustic guitarist Billy Mitchell. The other version of Lindisfarne features bassist Rod Clements and a full band featuring various ex-members of later versions of the legendary band. I have tickets to see them in a couple of months time.

lynd flyer 2022The Lindisfarne Story, as the name suggests, features Ray and Billy telling the story of the band and singing acoustic versions of some of their better-known songs with Billy on vocals and guitar and Ray on bongos, drum box, and a small drum kit. On their current tour Ray and Billy are focusing on the 50th anniversary of the Fog on the Tyne album, telling the story of the band, that particular album and discussing, and playing, each track in consecutive order. The concert started at 7:30 PM prompt, the first half featuring side 1 of the album, followed by a short interval and a second-half taking us through side 2 of the album. The show is well presented using old video of the band to great effect and also clips of friends old and new such as local heroes Bruce Welch, Sting, Billy Nail and Sam Fender. The history behind each track, who wrote it and the lyrics is explained in some detail followed by a great rendition of each song. So they start with track 1 which is “Meet Me on the Corner” and carry on track by track. Many of the songs are well-known to me, others less so but I certainly learned a lot about the history of each track on this massively successful album. I had also forgotten just how successful the album was! Along the way they treat us to other Lindisfarne favourites such as “Lady Eleanor” and old blues songs, and 60s hits, which Billy Mitchell used to sing in a local band and in working men’s clubs such as “Needles and Pins” and “Hi Ho Silver Lining” (both of which got the crowd singing along; excellent!)

lynd 2 2022Some facts I found about the album, on Wikipedia:”Fog on the Tyne is a 1971 album by English rock band Lindisfarne. Bob Johnston produced the album, which was recorded at Trident Studios in Soho, London, in the mid-1971 and released in October that year on Charisma Records in the United Kingdom and Elektra Records in the U.S..

It gave the group their breakthrough in the UK, topping the album charts early in 1972 for four weeks and remaining on the chart for 56 weeks in total. “Meet Me on the Corner”, one of two songs written by bassist Rod Clements, reached No. 5 as a single. The title track became the band’s signature tune. Simon Cowe made his debut as a writer, contributing the song “Uncle Sam”.”

lynd cd 2022During the interval carer Jan and I treated ourselves to a drink from the bar and purchased 2 CDs, of 50 years of Fog on the Tyne, one for me and one for my friend John in the USA. We were soon back in our seats and into side 2 of the album, which features the wonderful Alan Hull classic “January Song”. I forgotten that they had covered one of Scottish folk singer Rab Noakes songs on the album. I saw Rab Noakes many times supporting Lindisfarne “back in the day”, and really enjoyed him (mental note to myself: check Rab Noakes website to see if I can go and see him any where, any time!) And so it continued, track by track, concluding with a great singalong of, of course, “Fog on the Tyne”. A great show, well executed, by 2 guys who have been there since the early days. We both really enjoyed it and learned a lot about the band, the songs and their history. On the way out Ray and Billy kindly signed my CDs. A great end to a perfect evening. Roll-on my next Lindisfarne outing.

Track listing of Fog on the Tyne:Lindisfarne-FogOnTheTyne
“Meet Me on the Corner” (Rod Clements)
“Alright on the Night” (Alan Hull)
“Uncle Sam” (Simon Cowe)
“Together Forever” (Rab Noakes)
“January Song” (Hull)
“Peter Brophy Don’t Care” (Hull, Terry Morgan)
“City Song” (Hull)
“Passing Ghosts” (Hull)
“Train in G Major” (Clements)
“Fog on the Tyne” (Hull)

Van Morrison Sage Gateshead 24 March 2022

van tixVan the Man and I go back a long way! I’ve been a fan for many years, since the early 70s when I saw him a few times at festivals and in Newcastle City Hall, once at a particularly triumphant show when he played with the Caledonian Soul Orchestra and was simply tremendous. My last encounter with the great man was on a cold August night on Newcastle racecourse during covid restrictions. It was an outdoor socially distanced “arena” concert and worked quite well. Van was, as he usually is these days, on top form that night.

For me, the guy is simply a genius. I rate him alongside seeing Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones and many other great artists from my past. Everyone I go to see is quite old these days, but then so am I, and like fine wine many of these artists have matured with age. They have come to terms with their back catalogues and frequently draw from them; whereas in the 80s they would often neglect some of their own excellent classic songs. Van has a very distinctive voice, and uses it to great effect. I have heard his voice described as transcendental, spiritual; he uses his voice as the true instrument that it is.

van 1The Sage is packed, completely sold out, demonstrating the staying power of Van Morrison. We all know what to expect. The advertised stage times are 8 PM start; 9:35 PM finish and Van sticks to that more or less exactly. The set is a mixture of old favourites and some new songs from his Latest Record Project album. Van looks quite dapper in blue suit and matching hat. He is surrounded by excellent musicians and like any great bandleader a wave of his hand or a simple flash of his eyes signals to a band member to start, or finish, their solo spot. The band open the proceedings before they are soon joined by Van Morrison who is in fine voice and looks well. He plays quite a lot of saxophone, perhaps a little too much for me, but overall the mix is fine. His guitarist, female singer and vibraphone player are worthy of particular mention. The keyboard player also takes a lead on many of the songs, playing what looks to me like an old Hammond organ. The double bass player and drummer are also excellent (apologies if I missed any other band members!) Van accompanies his singing with his usual jerky up-and-down arm movements, choreographed in time to the music.

Classics like “Days like This” and “And It Stoned Me” sound as fresh as ever. Towards the end Van leavesvan 3 the stage, soon to return and delight the audience with the classic tracks “Brown Eyed Girl” and, finally, the Them 60s hit “Gloria”. Van leaves the stage again, this time for the last, and the band continue jamming on “Gloria” for 5 to 10 minutes, each member taking a solo. Of course we all know that that is the end, but everyone stays until the last note is played. As we file out, I see a lot of smiling faces: everyone enjoyed the show. After all, we all know what to expect and these days Van always delivers his best. Me, I would have liked to have heard “Into the Mystic”, “Moon Dance” and “Here Comes the Night”, but maybe I am just being greedy! The concert and the man were as great as ever. Long may he return to sing for us.

van 2Someone once told me that Van Morrison returns home on his private plane back to Ireland every night after the show. I often wonder if this is true. The man is a genius, an enigma and we are lucky to be able to witness him perform his magic. Happy days.

Setlist:(Something like this) Caledonia Swing; Latest Record Project; Deadbeat Saturday Night; Double Agent; Days Like This; Someone Like You; Magic Time; Precious Time; Laughin’ and Clownin’; My Time After a While; Ain’t Gonna Moan No More; These Dreams of You; Sometimes We Cry; And It Stoned Me; Enlightenment; Broken Record; Brown Eyed Girl; Gloria

Many thanks to Jackie, photographer for the night, and Elaine for helping me into bed; the garage beat of “Gloria” still pounding in my head.

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.

Status Quo Stockton Globe Theatre 3 March 2022

Status Quo. A band I have a long, enduring history and friendship with. A night of nostalgia and emotionSTATUS TIX on many fronts. I will recount these below.

The Venue. Stockton Globe is a legendary theatre. I remember hearing of it in the late 60s and the early 70s. Many, many great bands played there before it closed: The Globe is a Grade II listed Art Deco theatre, in Stockton-on-Tees, England. From the 1950s to the 1970s the Globe was a premier venue hosting many famous acts, such as Buddy Holly, the Rolling Stones, the Animals, Cilla Black, Lonnie Donegan, Cliff Richard and Chuck Berry. The Beatles twice played at the Globe, the first on the day U.S. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. As late as the 1970s, bands such as Mud, Showaddywaddy and the Bay City Rollers played there. Whilst the theatre played host to these famous bands, it was also a cinema. One strange coincidence, the guy a few seats along mentioned to us: Status Quo were the final rock band to play there in December 1974, which is confirmed by Wikipedia. It is strange Francis didn’t mention this. Maybe he was not aware of the fact. The doors of the Globe closed only to re-open as a bingo venue for a few years until closing for good in 1997. However, it has recently undergone a £4 million renovation, maintaining its wonderful art decor features and reopening a few weeks ago. It holds around 3000 people. (Some of this courtesy of Wikipedia).

STATUS 3Status Quo. I must’ve seen Status Quo more than 50 or 60 times since the first time I was lucky enough to witness them close up in Sunderland Locarno in 1971. Since then I have seen them again in the Locarno, Sunderland Top Rank Suite, Sunderland Empire, graduating to Newcastle City Hall where I saw them many, many times on their annual tours, several festivals including Lincoln 1972, Reading many times (including at least one headline appearance), headlining Donington Monsters of Rock, opening Live Aid at Wembley Stadium, splitting up and reforming, and then seeing them at Whitley Bay ice Rink, the Sage Gateshead, back to the City Hall many times, open-air summer shows, Harrogate centre, the return of the frantic four at Manchester Apollo, Newcastle Arena, Birmingham NEC and so many other places over 50+ years. I love this band and their music and they never let me down. Some people view them as a “joke”. But they are a great rock ‘n’ roll band; the best UK boogie band there is.

Francis Rossi. This guy is one of my heroes. His banter with the crowd is well-known; the cheeky Cockney chappie comes through and he always has a bit crack on and joke with the audience, talking to us as if we are old friends (which of course, many of us are). Tonight is no different. He talks about being off the stage for the longest time ever because of that “dodgy cold” (his words, not mine). A few years ago, when STATUS 2Rick Parfitt sadly passed, I felt strongly that Francis should not continue without his old mate. Rick was simply the best rhythm guitarist and one man boogie machine that has ever lived. In many ways I felt the soul of the band was gone; after all it was always about those two friends together. However, I now believe he was right to continue. Francis has assembled a lineup with old and new members, which does continue the rocking soul of the band and plays tribute to Rick and his legacy. It is strange to see new people sing old favourites such as “Rain “, but somehow it works. So more power to your elbow Francis; please do keep this band going for as long as you can. The loud, rocking boogie machine which is Status Quo continues.

STATUS PROG 22Andy Bown. Andy joined Status Quo in the early 1970s and became a full member during the 1980s. He has been playing keyboards and sometimes guitar for the band for almost 50 years. As such, he is the longest serving member after Francis.It was great to see him coming up front alongside Francis and the others. He was up front more this time than usual, I think, which is a good thing; it felt right seeing him up and more in the spotlight. Andy was, of course, a member of the classic 60s band The Herd, alongside Peter Frampton; who produced a wonderful trio of singles; the quite strange, psychedelic, proto-Gothic “Paradise Lost” and “From the Underworld”, along with the much more pop oriented “I Don’t Want Our Loving to Die”. Now wouldn’t it be great if Andy sang one of those songs with Status Quo? What do you think Francis?

The Performance. It was as good as ever. The set list was predictable, but so what! Yes, they started with the usual “Drone” intro, followed by “Caroline” and finished with “Rockin’ All over the World”. In between they played the usual mix of old and new, four from the latest album, some very old tracks such as “Softer Ride”, a medley of greatest hits, “In the Army Now”, “Down Down”, and others. The place was packed, which I found quite surprising to be honest; the fan base continues to be strong, all decked in denim and STATUS 1Quo patches. And they were loud, very LOUD: great! Sadly, but understandably, everyone stood up. We were right down the front but I couldn’t see much from my wheelchair with everyone standing around me. But such is life. The encore was “Paper Plane”. Status Quo were simply first-class, as good as ever; everyone strolled out of the theatre into the cold, dark night; happy and satisfied. Another great night with an old friend and a great band. Happy days.

Oh, and a special mention for the excellent support act Laurence Jones, who performed a fine set of blues rock, finishing with an excellent version of Hendrix’s “Purple Haze”.

Setlist: Caroline; Rain; Little Lady; Softer Ride; Beginning of the End; Hold You Back; Backing Off; Get Out of My Head; What You’re Proposing / Down the Dustpipe / Wild Side of Life / Railroad / Again and Again; Mystery Song; The Oriental; Cut Me Some Slack; Liberty Lane; In the Army Now; Roll Over Lay Down; Down Down; Whatever You Want; Rockin’ All Over the World

Encore: Paper Plane

Many thanks to Jackie the photographer and Chris for turning out late to help get me into my bed for the evening, my ears still ringing and memories of Quo swirling through my head.

Mike Garson’s Bowie celebration live stream event 8 January 2022

This live stream event was the second produced by Mike Garson, former pianist with David Bowie forScreenshot (194) much of the 70s. I virtually attended Mike Garson’s previous event, which was excellent and consisted of a great collection of contemporary artists, all Bowie fans themselves, performing some of David Bowie’s best songs. This live stream event promised a similar collection of Bowie classics, performed by a different collection of artists including Joe Elliott with Def Leopard and solo, Living Colour, Simon Le Bon and John Taylor of Duran Duran, Noel Gallagher, Ricky Gervais and Gary Oldman, the latter two are of course both actors.

Screenshot (176)This was an equally splendid event with Joe Elliott clearly wearing his David Bowie fandom badge near his heart and Simon Le Bon putting in excellent versions of David Bowie classics. Gary Oldman once again performed astoundingly as a vocalist and Ricky Gervais spoke tenderly of his interactions with David Bowie, particularly in relation to his Extras TV programme. Mike Garson was, as before, an excellent master of ceremonies and compere for the entire event. Living colour, a band I am not familiar with, again surprised me with powerful and passionate versions of selections from David Bowie’s massive back catalogue. The house band, featuring Duran Duran’s John Taylor, gave excellent support to the solo vocalists.

Screenshot (179)Setlist: Fame (WALK THE MOON); Young Americans (Living Colour and David Sanborn); I’m Afraid of Americans (Living Colour); It Ain’t Easy (Judith Hill); Five Years (Gaby Moreno); Space Oddity (Billy Corgan); The Jean Genie (Bernard Fowler); Goodnight Mr. Jones (Joe Elliott); Time (Charlie Sexton and Gaby Moreno); Lazarus (Charlie Sexton); Golden Years (WALK THE MOON); Starman (Gretchen Parlato); As the World Falls Down (Evan Rachel Wood and The Worm from Labyrinth); Drive-In Saturday (Def Leppard); Ashes to Ashes (Charlie Sexton); Slip Away (Gary Oldman); Let’s Dance (Simon Le Bon and John Taylor); Wild Is the Wind (Bernard Fowler and Judith Hill); All the Young Dudes (Joe Sumner); Valentine’s Day (Noel Gallagher); Shadow Man (Gail Ann Dorsey); Under Pressure (WALK THE MOON); Modern Love (Jake Wesley Rogers); Life on Mars?  (Jake Wesley Rogers); Changes  (Rob Thomas); Heroes (Rob Thomas).

Chrissie Hynde sings Bob Dylan at the Royal Opera House London live stream event 26 December 2021

CHRISSY 0Chrissie Hynde is clearly, like many of us, a Bob Dylan fan. I had not realised it but she had the privilege of singing Dylan’s classic “Leopardskin Pillbox Hat” alongside the great man himself in Wembley Stadium, London on his 1984 tour which I caught at St James’s Park, Newcastle. She has recently, in May 2021, released an album Standing in the Doorway: Chrissie Hynde Sings Bob Dylan. This live concert took place on the evening of 26 December, Boxing Day, in the beautiful surroundings of the Royal Opera House, London and was live streamed via VEEPS, the very same streaming platform that hosted (and on which I watched) Bob Dylan’s Shadow Kingdom show last July.

CHRISSY 5Chrissie’s band for the evening consisted of Pretenders guitarist James Walbourne, with Carwyn Ellis on keyboards and Danny Williams on upright bass. Chrissie sat on a stool in the middle of the band, playing acoustic guitar. The band sat quite closely, almost intimately, together centre stage surrounded by beautiful Christmas lights, chandeliers and a Christmas tree. Lovely!

This was not your standard Bob Dylan tribute set. Chrissie didn’t play safe by performing a set of his best-known songs. Indeed, there were several songs which I did not recognise at all. Those that I did recognise included “Blind Willie McTell”, “Love Minus Zero/No Limit” and “Every Grain of Sand”. Each song was performed acoustically with great guitar work from James CHRISSY 4Walbourne and equally well performed keyboards and double bass. Chrissie was on fine form. Her voice sounded as strong as ever and she was clearly enjoying every second of the experience. Dressed casually in a T-shirt “Don’t Pet Me – I’m Performing”! and the usual jeans and knee-high leather boots, she looked every part the lady rockstar that she always has done, since I first saw her in Newcastle Mayfair at the start of The Pretenders life. At one point Hynde admonished a lady in the audience “Switch Off That Phone”; only to have to apologise at the end of the song, when she realised the phone flash she thought she had seen was in fact the Exit sign flashing across her eyes! You couldn’t make it up!

CHRISSY 2Having completed the Dylan set, Chrissie moved on to a couple of songs which she announced as being composed by another great writer Ray Davies (a former beau) rather than announce them as Pretenders songs: “I Go to Sleep” and (my favourite) “Stop Your Sobbing”, which took me right back to those early days when she was first starting out as a musician and artist. These were the highlights of the show for me.

The band then moved on to a few songs that Chrissie had written with guitarist James Walbourne. These songs appeared on the Pretenders most recent album Hate for SaleCHRISSY 3, and were intertwined with a great version of the Hoagy Carmichael classic “I Get Along Without You Very Well” for which she put down her guitar, picked up the microphone and stood stage front. The single encore was a song, which was new to me, by French singer-songwriter Charles Trenet: “Que Rèste-T-Il De Nos Amours?”, reading the lyrics from a piece of paper, which she often needed to consult! It seemed a strange choice, but also quite fitting and marked the end of a lovely evening spent (virtually) with the musical legend, that is Chrissie Hynde.

CHRISSY 6Setlist: In the Summertime; You’re a Big Girl Now; Standing in the Doorway; Sweetheart Like You; Blind Willie McTell; Love Minus Zero/No Limit; Don’t Fall Apart on Me Tonight; Tomorrow Is a Long Time; Every Grain of Sand; I Go to Sleep; Stop Your Sobbing; Maybe Love Is in NYC; You Can’t Hurt a Fool; Crying in Public; I Get Along Without You Very Well; (You Don’t Know) How Glad I Am

Encore: Que Rèste-T-Il De Nos Amours?

Rick Wakeman Sage Gateshead 16 December 2021

I first came across Rick Wakeman when he was a member of The Strawbs. My good friend, Tony, had arick6 21 copy of the album Just a Collection of Antiques and Curios, which was recorded live at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in 1970. Rick features on the album and his distinctive neoclassical piano playing is evident throughout the record. We would sit and listen to the album again and again. I now have my own copy and played it the other night to remind myself of Rick’s early work. I next came across him when I first saw him live at Newcastle City Hall in 1972, when he had just joined Yes. I’ve been a fan and follower ever since and have seen him several times in different incarnations of Yes and on his epic solo tours including seeing him perform albums such as The Six Wives of Henry VIII.

rick2 21This tour was a Grumpy Old Man Christmas tour, incorporating Rick playing a selection of his own work, famous songs that he played keyboards on as a session musician, Christmas tunes, some Grumpy Old Man stories and anecdotes and a short question-and-answer interlude. The show was in two parts, each one hour duration, with a short interval in between.

I arrived just in time to catch the start of the performance, with my carer Jackie and we met up with my daughter Laura. Rick started on his grand piano with a couple of Christmas carols followed by a wonderful performance of “Morning Has Broken” on which he performed piano for Cat Stevens. This was followed by a selection of short segments from his albums, including the aforementioned Six Wives of Henry VIII, the latter performed on keyboards. He also performed a great instrumental version of the Yes classic “And You and I”.

rick prog 21The stage was set out very Christmassy with a lovely, lit Christmas tree towards the back, between the grand piano and keyboards. In between the music Rick told some quite funny stories (some quite inappropriate), largely about the problems of getting old and some lovely stories about how his entire village comes together for a Christmas party/musical evening. It sounds a great village to live in! He reminisced about his good friends, both sadly passed, and both also excellent keyboard players Jon Lord and Keith Emerson. He told a funny story about how he went to a small awards ceremony with Keith Emerson, and Keith got locked in the toilet. Then Rick climbed in over the top from the cubicle next door, and they both smashed the door outward in order to escape, much to the amusement of other celebrities who were in the gents at the time. There was then a short interval, during which I partook in a (tiny) miniature bottle of orange gin, which I had won in a charity raffle at Laura’s school. Unfortunately, I found the gin rather sickly (yak).

rick1 21The second half took a similar format, starting with “Jingle Bells” and “Away in a Manger” followed by some more of Rick’s own compositions. Then the question and answer section. On entry to the hall you could pick up a card on which to write a question for Rick. On this occasion, I chose not to do so. However plenty of people did ask questions and Rick selected a few to answer. Two I recall in particular. First someone asked a question about Yes and Rick threw the card to the floor, signifying (I assume) his feelings about the current version of the band, which does not include any original members and neither Rick nor Jon Anderson (arguably two of the most important musicians in the classic Yes lineup). Secondly someone asked when he first played Newcastle. He remembered that it was with The Strawbs in 1969 at Newcastle City Hall supporting Roy Harper. Now there’s a gig I wish I attended; but I was a little young at the time, sadly (my life is full of such regrets of shows I wish I attended). He then returned to the grand piano to play two wonderful songs he played on with David Bowie: “Space Oddity” and “Life on Mars”. Simply exquisite. He concluded the performance with a couple of songs which he did not play on, but which are particular favourites of his; the Beatles “Help!” and “Eleanor Rigby”, performed in the style of classical composers. Our taxi was due so we left at this point; however as we were leaving the hall we could hear Rick performing “Silent Night”. A fitting end to a wonderful Christmas performance by an excellent musician and all-round funny guy. This was my last gig of 2021 and a great end to my concert year.

rick3 21Setlist: Set 1: When a Child Is Born; O Holy Night; Morning Has Broken; Jane Seymour; Gone but Not Forgotten; Catherine of Aragon; Catherine Howard; And You and I; The Last Battle; Merlin the Magician

Set 2: Jingle Bells / Away in a Manger; The Dance of a Thousand Lights; Sea Horses; Space Oddity; Life on Mars?; Help!; Eleanor Rigby

Encore: Silent Night

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.