Posts Tagged ‘classic rock’

Justin Hayward Darlington Hippodrome 13 September 2022

justin7Well, the last time I was at Darlington Hippodrome, it was called Darlington Civic Theatre and the performance was by none other than the Chuckle Brothers (Laura was a big fan at the time). I remember, I think it was on another occasion we saw the Chuckle Brothers at Newcastle Tyne Theatre, the late great lovely Barry Chuckle sang “Tell Laura I Love Her” to Laura as he signed her programme; which we both found quite funny and also quite touching! But that’s a story for another day.

justin4The Civic Theatre has morphed into the Hippodrome after some refurbishment which has entailed the construction of a new entrance, bar and restaurant which has lots of glass and is lovely. The old theatre remains as it was, still maintaining the lovely vintage red chairs, boxes and balconies as it did back in the day of the musical. Wonderful.

justin6But tonight was a night full of nostalgia in the company of the great Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues. Justin has toured a few times recently and I meant to catch up with him but for some reason or other never managed to. Anyway I put that right the other evening and shared a great night with the man who is in many ways the voice of the Moody Blues.

Given the passing of the only original member drummer Graeme Edge, and Justin and John Lodge each performing their own solo tours, it seems the Moody Blues no longer exist. So, experiencing Justin Hayward in performance is the closest we are likely to get to a full Moody Blues concert. We had a great view in the third row of the stalls, and the sound was perfect.

justin 1 - CopyOpening the show, with a short set of three or four songs was Mike Dawes, a simply amazing guitarist. Imagine this: he played the bass parts with his left thumb on the lower strings, the melody in chords with his left fingers, the lead guitar parts with his right hand plucking the strings and hitting the frets to create harmonics, and his elbow hitting the guitar to produce rhythmic drum sounds. All of this while he jumped around on stage. Redefining the concept of the one-man band. Unlike anything I have seen before. The guy took a short break and then reappeared as part of Justin’s band. The rest of the bad was an excellent flautist and another lady playing keyboards and providing accompanying vocals. During the short interval I took the chance to buy a nice cool Guinness, and a couple of programmes and signed posters for my friend John and I.

JUSTIN POSTER - CopyThe set consisted of a mix of Justin’s solo material and Moody Blues songs, some very familiar and some less so. Justin talked quite a lot to the audience, explaining the background to each track. After a couple of songs we were into the beautiful “Tuesday Afternoon”, one of my favourite Moody Blues tunes, from the magnificent Days of Future Passed. This was followed by more lovely melodic songs and then another favourite “The Voice” and “Forever Autumn” from Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds. This was soon followed by the classic “Question” (I still recall the Moody Blues playing this on Top of the Pops) and closing the show was (what else could it be) “Nights in White Satin”. Justin’s voice is as strong and beautiful as it ever was. The encore consisted of three songs including two more of my favourites “The Story in Your Eyes” and “I Know You’re out There Somewhere”. A great night with a great voice and a great man. Excellent. Happy days.

JUSTIN PROG - CopySetlist: The Eastern Sun; Driftwood; Tuesday Afternoon; The Actor; Hope and Pray; The Western Sky; The Voice;    Living for Love; Forever Autumn; Never Comes the Day; Your Wildest Dreams; Question; Nights in White Satin;     Encore: The Story in Your Eyes; I Know You’re Out There Somewhere; I Just Don’t Care.

It was great to see a friend from the blog who came up to say hello!

Sweet Dreams are Made of This: My Life in Music – An Evening with Dave Stewart Sunderland Firestation 9 September 2022

DAVE S TIXThis was a special evening to celebrate Dave Stewart’s 70th birthday. It was also a homecoming gig at a new venue, the recently constructed Sunderland Firestation, which is on the site of the old main fire station, next to Sunderland Empire Theatre. The venue proudly advertised the concert on its website: “We are delighted and excited to welcome Sunderland legend Dave Stewart to The Fire Station for this very special “Evening with” type event where Dave will tell the story of his life in music. Expect conversation, live music, film and much more in this especially curated event where Dave will share his experiences from his earliest musical influences growing up in Sunderland, through his stratospheric success with Annie Lennox and Eurythmics, fascinate us with stories about his many collaborations with among others, U2, Mick Jagger, Bob Dylan, Stevie Nicks, Daryl Hall, Gwen Stefani, Katy Perry, through to the release of his most recent album, the brilliant and epic Ebony McQueen and the subsequent film due to be released about his life growing up in Sunderland.”

dave s cover bookThe concert sold out almost immediately (the venue is relatively small holding only a few hundred people) and I was lucky enough to get tickets. The show was full of lots of reminiscences for me personally. First up, it was opened by old friend Malcolm Gerrie, who hails from Sunderland (Peterlee actually) and who taught at Ryhope school, where he produced school performances of The Who’s rock opera Tommy and the David Essex film Stardust. I remember many chats with Malcolm in the past. Once he told me how he went to see Led Zeppelin (possibly then called the New Yardbirds) at local venue the Peterlee Argus Butterfly, a concert that was attended by a small number of people. I was so jealous! His early experiences led to him producing the local TV show The Tube and directing many TV shows since then.

Malcolm explained how a young long-haired guy used to come into the local clothes shop, Sergeant Peppers, and sit and sing his songs. The young guy was, of course, none other than Dave Stewart. My late wife, Marie, used to manage her mother’s clothing factory which made all of the clothes for the aforementioned Sergeant Peppers. Malcolm explained how he got a phone call a few days prior to the show from Dave asking him to come over and introduce him. How could he decline such a request from an old friend? Of course, he didn’t, and was proud and pleased to be able to do so.

Dave_Stewart_(6424621779)After Malcolm’s introduction, Dave Stewart came on to further explain how he used to also shop at local fashion shop West One, where he would get custom-made leather jackets! He then reminisced about his folkrock band Longdancer, who went on to get a record deal with Rocket Records, Elton John’s label. He explained how he joined The Tourists with a lady called Annie Lennox and another Sunderland musician Pete Coombs who wrote the songs for the band. Surprisingly, Dave and Annie did not compose together until they formed the Eurythmics.

I have lots of fond memories of seeing Dave Stewart in many incarnations. First, in aforementioned 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 saw Dave Stewart at Sunderland Empire at another homecoming concert and 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 (all reported on my blog).

dave sign pageDave 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.

No photography was allowed at the show, so I have illustrated this entry with a picture of his recent autobiography, which is also the name of this concert, and which I purchased a signed copy at the aforementioned Sunderland Empire concert. The photo of Dave Stewart is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and Eva Rinaldi. Dave took this through his entire career showing video footage of him composing a song over the phone with Bono, singing with Mick Jagger, and other famous collaborations. He is an amazingly accomplished guy, and has collaborated with stars including the late Tom Petty and Bob Dylan. This was intertwined with performances of some of his best-known songs by his magnificent band including a vocalist who sang the Annie Lennox parts of the Eurythmics songs perfectly. At one point a sax player appeared from the back of the audience and she walked directly beside us, then towards and up onto the stage playing the saxophone part of one of the songs. Similarly the drummer walked down from the audience to the stage clicking his drumsticks together before taking up the drum stool. Fantastic. By the end of the concert and “Sweet Dreams” everyone was up and singing and dancing along. A great evening with a local hero. You can read a full review of the show here. Review: Dave Stewart at The Fire Station – Cultured North East

Setlist: Ebony Says; Missionary Man; Ebony Mcqueen; There Must Be an Angel (Playing With My Heart); Lily Was Here; Jack of All Trades; When Tomorrow Comes; I Saved the World Today; Here Comes the Rain Again; Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)

Colosseum York Crescent 27 August 2022

coltixLast night I spent an evening in the company of 1960s legendary jazz rock band Colosseum. This was quite an adventure actually, involving taking two carers for safety, Elaine and Jan, and a taxi to Durham station then the train to York station and a short walk to the venue, the Crescent. The train journey involved a guy turning up with a ramp to get me on the train at Durham and another guy at the other end to get me off the train. All worked seamlessly. The girl who got me on the train at Durham just before 7 PM said she would be waiting for me around midnight when we returned.

col4The Crescent is a lovely venue. It was a working men’s club, dating back to the 1920s. There is a great picture of the house band from those days on display in the entrance. We took a nice photograph of the picture. The Crescent has a friendly feel about it and it is great to be able to see a band up close in a small venue. It is a short 10 minutes walk from York station which we negotiated quite well, particularly over some cobbled streets which my wheelchair and I do not take well to! It holds around 250 people and was unreserved seating for the evening. When we arrived around 8 PM the venue was quite full but we managed to find a couple of seats for Elaine and Jan at the end of the second row and I took my place alongside them. We were informed that the band would be taking the stage at 8:30 PM and would play two sets with a short interval.

col3Now this was the 1969 incarnation of Colosseum (or as close to it as possible) but of course the founder, leader, the late great Jon Hiseman passed away some years ago, as did very recently, his wife Barbara Thompson who also played saxophone and wind instruments with the band. So the line-up consisted of, from the 1969 band, the great man himself Chris Farlowe on vocals and Clem Clempson on guitar. Also in the band today is bassist Mark Clarke, who joined in 1970. So three members from an early line up of the band is pretty good for me! Chris Farlowe is, of course, of “Out of Time” fame and Clem Clempson was a member of the great Humble Pie alongside Steve Mariott. Colosseum were a legendary 1960s jazz rock outfit. Sadly I never saw the 1960s band but I did see Colosseum II , which featured Gary Moore alongside Don Airey (now Deep Purple and from my hometown Sunderland).

I was really looking forward to this concert and to experiencing some 60s jazz rock. The website of the Crescent stated: “The progressive rock group will feature original members including legendary lead singer Chris Farlowe, alongside lead guitarist Clem Clempson and bass player and vocalist Mark Clarke. But it will also introduce exciting new musicians Nick Steed (keyboards), Kim Nishikawara (saxophones) and Malcolm Mortimore (drums).”

col2The website continued: “Colosseum came to fame in 1969 when the band led by legendary drummer Jon Hiseman released its debut album Those Who Are About To Die Salute You. The band soon caused a sensation with their powerful blend of rock, jazz and classical music. Their appearances at major rock festivals drew huge crowds and fans flocked to concerts as they performed epic works like the “Valentyne Suite” and “Lost Angeles”. More best selling studio albums followed, notably Valentyne Suite (1969) and The Daughter of Time is Truth (1970). Changes in personnel saw the arrival of the soulful Chris Farlowe, famed for his Sixties chart hit ‘Out Of Time’ and Clem Clempson, the young blues guitar virtuoso and vocalist and bass player Mark Clarke.”

The first set consisted of quite a few songs from their new album Restoration and some more familiar classic Colosseum material including, the late great Jack Bruce’s “Rope Ladder to the Moon” and closing for the interval with the fantastic instrumental piece, and title track of their second album, “Valentyne Suite”. Chris Farlowe has a voice which is as soulful, powerful and strong as ever. He is amazing for an 81-year-old gentleman. He demonstrates a wide vocal range in some of the more jazzy pieces. Chris did take a rest during some of the instrumental pieces, but hey, he certainly deserved it as his performance was flawless. Clempson remains an expert guitarist and the rest of the band are also all great musicians and each took a solo, demonstrating their virtuosity. Bass player Mark Clarke took the vocals on some of the songs and also demonstrates a powerful voice.

col 6After a short interval, just giving me time for another Guinness (just a half this time making a pint and half in total: very adventurous for me on an evening!), the band returned and treated us to more new and old Colosseum tracks. They began with a surprise. Clem Clempson started playing the introduction to “Out Of Time” and Chris joined in, as did the crowd. Chris told us “this is the first time, and will probably be the last that Colosseum perform that song!” Clem continued to tempt by playing the introduction to “Handbags and Gladrags” but Chris wouldn’t be drawn and they moved on to “proper” Colosseum material. This included the late great Graham Bond’s song “Walking in the Park” and Chris returning to the blues for “Stormy Monday”. In order to catch our train home we had to leave during the latter song. Checking the set list for the London show it looks like we missed the epic instrumental “Lost Angeles” and an encore of Jack Bruce’s” Theme from Imaginary Western”, a particular favourite of mine. Sad but train times had the better of us.

We got to the train station on time and the guy with the ramp was waiting on platform 11 to help me onto the train. There were some Saturday night revellers in the station, a little worse for wear, but not causing any trouble. There are always rail police on watch to ensure the crowds don’t get too rowdy! We were soon back at Durham station where the lady, true to her word, was waiting to assist me off the train. Then it was back into the taxi, off home and the two ladies helped me back into bed. It was around 1 AM and I was quite tired; but it had been a great evening, in a great venue, with a great band!

Setlist: Set 1: No Pleasin’; Story of the Blues; Need Somebody; Rope Ladder to the Moon (Jack Bruce); Hesitation; Valentyne Suite; Set 2: Segment of Out Of Time; intro to Handbags and Gladrags; First in Line; Walking in the Park (The Graham Bond Organisation); Tonight; A Cowboy’s Song; Stormy Monday Blues (T‐Bone Walker); Lost Angeles; Encore: Theme for an Imaginary Western (Jack Bruce)

The First Orgone Tour: Kala, Kingdom Come? and Ange Sunderland Locarno 13 April1973

kala2A strange one this, and a bit of a mystery. I saw this advert, which is a cutting from Melody Maker, for sale on eBay. As it was for a concert which I have vague memories of attending I could not resist buying it. The advert is for The First Orgone Tour and featured a date at Sunderland Locarno, a ballroom which I frequented almost every week at the time. Now Kala were a spin-off from the band Quintessence, who played Indian influenced progressive rock and of whom I was a big fan at the time. I’m not quite sure whether I actually ever got to see Quintessence, I have vague memories of seeing them at the Locarno but can’t be sure. I also almost saw them at the Reading festival in 1972, where they were second on the bill to Ten Years After on the Sunday night. However, the proceedings ran late and Quintessence were forced to play after Ten Years After to allow Alvin Lee and his band to headline at a decent time (I think there may have been a stage curfew of midnight or so). Quintessence came on stage after a great performance by Ten Years After, but because it was so late I’m not certain that they were actually allowed to perform. I had to rush off for my train back to London as I recall. Anyway I had the Quintessence album In Blissful Company and loved the tracks “Notting Hill Gate” (“Things look great in Notting Hill Gate”) and “Pearl and Bird”. Happy days.
Now Kingdom Come were, of course, my hero Arthur Brown’s post Crazy World band. I recall seeing a simply magnificent performance by Kingdom Come at Sunderland Polytechnic around the same time as this gig which featured Arthur being crucified on a massive cross and a Brain running around the ballroom floor chasing the Pope (it had to be seen to be believed!) I am certain if Arthur Brown and his mad company had supported the aforementioned Kala I would have remembered it. I do recall seeing Kala and they were led by Raja Ram from Quintessence and performed a similarly Indian influenced form of prog rock, featuring lots of flute and were pretty great.

I found this about Kala: “Although Quintessence played many hundred of concerts and festivals all over Europe, they never made it to the United States. Although a concert at New York’s Carnegie Hall was already lined up in early 1972, they didn’t make it because Shiva and Maha Dev were asked to leave the band by Raja Ram in spring 1972. Shiva and Maha Dev went on to form the short-lived outfit called Kala. With ego clashes and problems on many frontiers, Kala quickly folded and Quintessence, now trying to make it the body without a head, and bereft of a sense of purpose, direction and being victims of the changing times, played on into the eighties, then slowly drifted into limbo.” http://www.acidvisions.com/musiccatalog/k/kala/index.html

I looked up Orgone and found this (isn’t Wikipedia wonderful): Orgone is a pseudoscientific concept variously described as an esoteric energy or hypothetical universal life force. Pretty hippie stuff, which just matches the mood of the time exactly.

First on the bill that night were a French band, about which I found this: Ange (English: Angel) is a French progressive rock band formed in September 1969 by the Décamps brothers, Francis (keyboards) and Christian (vocals, accordion, acoustic guitar and keyboards). Since its inception the band’s music has been inspired by medieval texts and fantasy. Again, pretty fitting for the time, and it seems the band still exist. Sadly, I have little recollection of seeing them that night.

So, an evening full of mystery and Indian influenced progressive rock hippie music. Very much of its time. Happy days. Wish I had a better memory and that I had kept a diary.

Roger Daltrey Newcastle City Hall 13 July 2022

ROGER0This tour was entitled Who Was I? It was announced as: “A special evening of Who classics, rarities, solo hits and fan Q&A. One of the UK’s greatest singers and legendary frontman of The Who is striking out across the UK this November, a return to performing that cannot come soon enough for The Who legend.

“The truth is singers need to sing,” says Roger, “Use it or lose it”. “Throughout my life I have sung with so many great musicians, from the heavy rock of The Who and Wilko Jonson, to the Irish lilt of The ROGER4Chieftains. On this tour I want to take the audience on a musical journey through my career as a singer, with a show of songs and sounds that explores and surprises. I look forward to having closer contact with my audience than festivals and arenas allow. Leaving time to chat. The show, which will comprise a unique mix of music and conversation, is built around Roger’s musical journey and encompasses nearly every style imaginable – including blues, rock, country, soul and metal. [Not sure I agree with you about the metal music, Roger].

ROGER7During the evening he will dig into his incredible back catalogue pulling from his nine solo albums, his album with Wilko Johnson, and even reinterpreting a few Who classics and rarities. This is a show for real music fans and will give a unique insight into how all these great songs came about; what the influences were and where the sounds originated. As with everything Roger does, it will be totally real and authentic and lots of it – a plethora of songs with some questions answered and rock n roll stories along the way – nothing phoned in!”

The tour was eventually postponed because of Covid, but I held onto my ticket and went along to the rescheduled date.

ROGER1I wasn’t sure what time Roger Daltrey started so I arrived early this time. The support act for Roger was American singer-songwriter Leslie Mendelson. For once, I was in time to watch the entire set of a support act and I was pleased that I did. Leslie’s music brought back memories of many different female singer-songwriters. “All Music writes that Leslie evokes “1970s songwriter influences in the vein of Carole King and Carly Simon,” while The Aquarian calls her “the closest thing one can get to a truly honest musical experience.” (From Leslie’s website).

ROGER8Roger’s band for the UK tour was: Simon Townshend on guitar and vocals (Simon is of course well-known as a member of The Who’s wider touring band, Pete’s brother and a long-term member of Roger’s band); Doug Boyle on guitar; Geraint Watkins on keyboards; John Hogg on bass; Jody Linscott, who was simply outstanding on percussion; Billy Nicholls providing backing vocals; Steve Weston on harmonica; Ben Townshend (Simon’s son) on drums; and Katie Jacoby on electric violin. So, although this was Roger’s gig, the links to Pete Townshend and The Who were very clear! Excellent. Simon has, for me, become almost a Pete “stand-in” which is probably grossly unfair to his talents and his motives for being out there with Roger playing. Having said that it does seem that when Pete doesn’t want to tour, Roger will go out on his own and Simon will join him for the ride.

Surprisingly, the City Hall was not quite full for this concert. To be fair I did arrive early and watched the support act at which time many people were still in the bar. By the time Roger took to the stage the hall was much more full. Lots of Who T-shirts in evidence. Great!

ROGER2Now there was a time when I felt Roger’s voice was going and I feared we might be getting close to the end for The Who. But somehow, almost miraculously, he has rebuilt the strength and power in his voice and at 78 years old he is doing amazingly both vocally and physically. The man is a legend, as is, of course his partner in crime in The Who, Pete Townshend. And as the man says above “Use It or Lose It” which seems to be true, and also seems to work! Good man Roger!

Roger did answer a few questions which had been written out for him by audience members, but the evening was mainly devoted to music. The question-and-answer session basically consisted of Roger picking a few questions from a pile which he held in his back pocket answering some, and throwing some away that he chose not to answer! I can’t remember any spectacular revelations I am afraid.
ROGER6The set consisted of a mixture of Roger solo songs, some taken from the films he has starred in such as Mcvicar (a career criminal who was in Durham jail for a period) and quite a few from his collaboration with Wilco Johnson. Highlights for me are the classic Who songs “Tattoo” (“Welcome to my life, tattoo I’m a man now, thanks to you”), “Who Are You”,” Baba O’Riley” and the great Leo Sayer song “Giving It All Away”. Roger covered a lot of early Leo Sayer songs and was one of the people who helped him make it big. Leo Sayer is now seen as a bit of a joke in some circles but if you look back at his first album Silverbird it is really great with some classic tracks such as “The Dancer”. Listen to it if you get a chance. Very underrated as a songwriter and artist. Roger closes with “Young Man Blues” which takes me back to saying the whole in the 1970s: “Well A Young Man Ain’t Got Nothing in the World Today…… He Got Sweet F**k All!” Pure class. The guy still has it!

ROGER3Setlist: Let My Love Open the Door (Pete Townshend song); Freedom Ride (Taj Mahal song); Squeeze Box (The Who); Waiting for a Friend; Another Tricky Day (The Who); Who Are You (The Who); Giving It All Away (Leo Sayer song); The Kids Are Alright (The Who); Tattoo (The Who); After the Fire; Days of Light; The Way It Is (Simon Townshend song); Going Back Home (Wilko Johnson & Roger Daltrey song); Some Kind of Hero (Wilko Johnson & Roger Daltrey song); As Long as I Have You; I Keep It To Myself (Wilko Johnson & Roger Daltrey song); Baba O’Riley (The Who); Without Your Love; Young Man Blues (Mose Allison song covered by the Who)

Tears for Fears and Alison Moyet Newcastle Arena 7 July 2022

TEARS TIXThis was a strong 80s double bill. It has been many years since I had seen either of these acts and, to be honest, I had forgotten just how great they both are. Tears for Fears were absolutely massive and I remember seeing them at the time “Shout” was in the charts at Newcastle City Hall and they were simply tremendous. Everyone walked out of the venue that night singing “Shout” at the top of their voices. A magic moment. And Alison Moyet, I remember seeing her in both Yazoo and as a solo artist. But enough of the past.TEARS 3
The first thing I noticed was just how full the venue was. I would say more than three quarters of the seats were taken. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. Two great acts on the same bill. Alison Moyet was first to take the stage and did a set of her own songs and Yazoo hits. The venue was almost full from the start; no ordinary support act this one, the bar must have been empty. Alison was dressed all in black, looked well and her voice was as strong and soulful as ever. If anything she has become a little darker in her approach, the songs taking on an almost Gothic style (that may be a slight exaggeration). The crowd gave her the great reception she deserved. A fantastic opening act, but the best was yet to come.TEARS 4
Something is different about Tears for Fears these days. In my memory (and I could be quite wrong) Curt was almost the front man and sang all the hits when I saw them “back in the day”. While Roland took more of a back seat. There seems to have been some sort of change around, at least for the newer songs. Roland looks very different with long white hair and a white beard and seems to almost have become the leader, talking a lot more than his partner. Roland jokingly said that he had been compared to Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen or a well-groomed Bill Bailey! The set was a mix of old and new. I had forgotten just how many hits they had. They drew heavily from their new album TEARS 1The Tipping Point which has been several years in the making and has returned them to the top 5 of the American album charts. This band are massive around the world. The hits just kept coming: early on we got “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” and the wonderful “Sowing The Seeds of Love”. We were soon taken right back to the start and “Mad World” along with “Pale Shelter”. The encores included “Change” and the closing song was (of course) “Shout”. Everyone went home happy. A truly great 1980s double bill.

I was lucky to catch the tour. Shortly after I saw them the following announcement was made: “The remaining dates of Tears For Fears tour have been cancelled today because of Curt Smith’s rib injury. Ticket holders are advised to contact their point of purchase.”

TEARS 2In the three dates where Alison Moyet performed, she got massive praise from the press: “The Express newspaper noted “Pop chanteuse Moyet… put on an incredible last-minute headline performance”. The Blackpool Gazette welcomed “an uplifting evening of electro torch songs” and described Alison’s performance as a “triumph”. And All Music Magazine praised Alison as “a flawless performer”.”

Alison Moyet Setlist: I Germinate; Nobody’s Diary (Yazoo); Do You Ever Wonder; Beautiful Gun; All Cried Out; Wishing You Were Here; Situation (Yazoo); My Best Day; Only You (Yazoo); Love Resurrection; Don’t Go (Yazoo)

TEARS 6Tears for Fears Setlist: No Small Thing; The Tipping Point; Everybody Wants to Rule the World; Secret World; Sowing the Seeds of Love; Long, Long, Long Time; Break the Man; My Demons; Rivers of Mercy; Mad World; Suffer the Children; Woman in Chains; Badman’s Song; Pale Shelter; Break It Down Again; Head Over Heels / Broken.

Encore: End of Night; Change; Shout.

Many thanks to Jackie for the photos and Chris for helping me into my bed. A great night.

Yes Newcastle City Hall 26 June 2022

yes5Well it finally happened. I contracted Covid! Possibly when I went to see the Rolling Stones at Anfield (at least I was in good company as a certain Sir Mick Jagger also went down with the nasty virus). Luckily we are both clear now although it took me a week to get there, that is before I tested negative. In the meantime I missed a few concerts but I was so wiped out I couldn’t possibly have attended. Still I was feeling just about well enough to venture out last night to see one of my favourite all-time bands, Yes.

Now they say that one forms allegiances to the bands that you see when you are young. This has certainly been the case with me. I first saw Yes in 1969 when I was all of 12 years old and they were supporting the Bonzo Dog Band (who had just been in the chart with “I’m an Urban Space Man”). The music was loud, exciting, bright and like nothing else I had ever experienced before. I went on my own and I was in the front row a few feet away from the band who, in those days was Jon Anderson (vocals), Peter Banks (guitar), Chris Squire (bass guitar), Tony Kaye (keyboards) and Bill Bruford (drums). Completely different from the lineup I saw last night.

yes2From that night on I was a lifelong Yes fan and must have seen them many, many times over the years since. The lineup has changed along a winding, meandering road with Steve Howe replacing Peter Banks on guitar in 1970 and Rick Wakeman and Alan White joining on keyboards and drums respectively, shortly afterwards. Then came many lineup changes, lots of classic albums, and mega prog stardom. Along the way Jon Anderson left, as did Rick Wakeman, and Steve Howe left and then rejoined the fold. Chris Squire and Alan White both sadly passed away; local hero Alan White very recently (he hailed from Chester le Street). But the true story of Yes is much much more complicated than that!

The current members of Yes are: Steve Howe – guitars (first joined in 1970); Geoff Downes – keyboards (first joined in 1980 for the Drama album in a strange incarnation of the band where he and Buggles compatriot Trevor Horn joined for a short period); Billy Sherwood – bass guitar (since 2015); Jon Davison – lead vocals (since 2012); Jay Schellen – drums (has been playing drums with the band since 2017, sometimes deputising for Alan White who sadly passed away in May 2022).

yes1The tour had originally been billed as a recreation of the Relayer album; however (and to my delight) something changed their minds and it became a recreation of the Close to the Edge album. A much better choice! The show started with something of a very pleasant surprise. Illustrator Roger Dean, creator of the Yes logo, many of their album covers and several other progressive rock LP covers, walked on stage and took us through a slideshow of his life as an illustrator and with Yes. Fantastic! This was followed by a fitting tribute to Alan White with many nice images of the great drummer appearing on the backdrop.
The band then took to the stage and started the first half of the show with a set comprising songs from throughout the band’s career. This includes to my delight “Yours Is No Disgrace” and “No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed” the latter coming from the second album Time and a Word, an album on which none of the current members featured! This song, a cover of a Richie Havens track, with its swirling keyboards playing excerpts from the Western film The Big Country was always a favourite of mine in their early days. Other great songs were “Wondrous Stories” and an excellent rendition of “Clap” by Steve Howe. We were also treated to a couple of tracks from the latest Yes album The Quest, which seems to follow in the great tradition of Yes music. I have often asked “when is a band no longer a band?” In the case of Yes I think the latest incarnation does full justice to the great heritage of Yes music. The vocals are very reminiscent of the great John Anderson, who also fronts his own version of Yes music along with Rick Wakeman and Trevor Rabin, all former band members. Curiouser and curiouser! Anyway to answer my question “yes (no pun intended)” this grouping of musicians do indeed deserve the name. The first half of the show concluded with another great favourite “Heart of the Sunrise” from the Fragile album.

yes4During the interval I partook in a pint of lager (no Guinness I am afraid) and bought a couple of copies of the programme/book (one for my friend John in the USA) which is a sumptuous product celebrating the 50th anniversary of Close to the Edge and taking the reader through the whole history of the band.
The second set comprises the great album Close to the Edge played in its entirety. I had forgotten just how wonderful the tracks on this album are. The encores take us back to the early days and “Roundabout” followed by closing song “Starship Trooper”. A fantastic evening of Yes music. I hope I can experience many more such evenings.

Many thanks to Lisa for the photographs and Elaine for helping me into my bed. I must admit I was rather tired; to my shame I was finding it difficult to keep my eyes open towards the end of the set; Covid has taken its toll on me and it will take me some time to fully recover.

yes3Setlist:

First set: On the Silent Wings of Freedom; Yours Is No Disgrace; No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed; Does It Really Happen?; Clap; Wonderous Stories; The Ice Bridge; Dare to Know; Heart of the Sunrise.

Close to the Edge Set: Close to the Edge; And You and I; Siberian Khatru.

Encore: Roundabout; Starship Trooper.

The Rolling Stones Anfield Liverpool 9 June 2022

Stones tixSo this was a dream trip for me. Every time I think “This Could Be the Last Time”. But of course it never is. And I hope it never will be. These guys just go on and on for ever. And for me that is just great. The Stones are, without question, my favourite band and worthy of the title “The Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Band in the World”. This is my 15th Stones experience since I first saw them in 1971 at Newcastle City Hall for the princely sum of 15 shillings/75p (decimalisation was just coming in and they printed both prices on the ticket. I was 14 and went to the early 6:30 PM show (they played 2 shows a night back in the day) and paid £1 for the ticket outside. From that night on I became a massive Rolling Stones fan.

Frontage_of_Liverpool_Lime_Street_railway_stationSo we went down: me, Lisa, Elaine and Jan courtesy of Trans Pennine Express on Thursday afternoon and took a short walk to our hotel close to Lime Street station. After a couple of hours rest I was up again and we took a bus to Anfield where we were shown to a nice lounge with food and drink prior to taking our seats for the show, which we did to catch the last couple of songs of Echo and the Bunnymen, the support act. We had nice seats in the disabled area with a good view of the stage and Jan just in front of us.

stones charlieAfter a short wait, just before the Stones took to the stage the screens lit up and showed a lovely tribute to Charlie Watts, with video footage from throughout his career showing him, always dapper and cool, back in the 1960s through to his last days with the band. This received a well-deserved cheer from the Anfield crowd. RIP Charlie. Much missed. It was 9 PM and the Rolling Stones took to the stage, starting with “Street Fighting Man”. Jagger was as energetic as ever running up and down the walkway right out in the crowd. Flanked by Keith (as cool as ever and forever my hero) and Ronnie Wood; both looking and playing great. Mick Jagger’s vocals were as powerful as they ever have been. Like a fine wine these guys seem to get better with age. They never cease to astound me and always exceed my expectations. Mick announced “This is our 60th anniversary tour and the first one we have done without our drummer Charlie Watts. So we dedicate the show to Charlie”, followed by a massive cheer from the crowd.

stones5This was a perfect set list for me, drawing heavily from the 1960s: “19th Nervous Breakdown” followed. When I was a young kid I remember buying this single for a shilling or two (or maybe less) from the public house over the road from my home. It would sell ex-jukebox singles and we would go over every now and then to buy classic records from a little box which the barmaid would bring out to the off sales window. Then we were treated to “Get off of My Cloud” and “Tumbling Dice”. Then came the surprise: in tribute to the Beatles Mick introduced their early hit (of course written by the Fab Four) “I Wanna Be Your Man”. This was apparently the first time they had played the song since I saw them perform it at the O2 Arena in London in 2012.

stones4Then another great favourite of mine, which was a charttopping hit for the great Chris Farlowe “Out Of Time”. You can’t beat the old classics. Then another classic “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” followed by the less familiar “Living in a Ghost Town” and then back to the 1960s for “Honky Tonk Women” (I told you this was a perfect set list!) Next, as always, Keith took front of stage for “You Got the Silver” and the less familiar “Connection”. Mick was soon back for a great singalong with “Miss You”, followed by another of my favourites “Midnight Rambler”. He no longer whips the stage with his belt, as he did in the 1970s, but uses his jacket instead. For this song he really turns it up a notch, running up and down the walkway into the crowd singing the chorus again and again. Next another great classic “Start Me Up”.

stones3The next song “Paint It Black” always gets me. For me, the perfect Stones song with Ronnie Wood playing electric sitar bringing back memories of seeing Brian Jones on TV sitting cross-legged with his own sitar. Now I knew we were on the home strait. The stage turns dark red and the familiar chants of “Sympathy for the Devil” start to fill the night air. Another great crowdpleaser. They close with “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”.

Next another magic moment. The Anfield crowd spontaneously sing their anthem “You’ll Never Walk Alone”. The band seemed to allow them time to complete it before they return to play “Gimme Shelter” and finish the show, as always, with “Satisfaction”. The perfect end to another great concert by “The Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Band in the World”. After a short time queueing we are back on our bus and of to Lime Street. Till the next time.stones2

Setlist: Street Fighting Man; 19th Nervous Breakdown; Get Off of My Cloud; Tumbling Dice; I Wanna Be Your Man; Out of Time; You Can’t Always Get What You Want; Living in a Ghost Town; Honky Tonk Women; You Got the Silver (Keith vocals); Connection (Keith vocals); Miss You; Midnight Rambler; Start Me Up; Paint It Black; Sympathy for the Devil; Jumpin’ Jack Flash.

Encore: Gimme Shelter; (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

Thanks to Lisa for the photographs and to Wikimedia Commons for the image of Lime Street Station.

Jeff Beck Sage Gateshead 2 June 2022

jeff tixJeff Beck is a big hero of mine. I have given a lot of thought to this and I am convinced that he is probably the best living guitarist, alongside Hank Marvin. Jeff Beck can produce sounds out of his Fender Stratocaster like no one else. His use of tone, vibrato and moving up and down the fretboard involves incredible technique that he makes looks so simple. He makes a lot of use of his little finger turning the volume control up-and-down to create fade, alongside intricate use of the tremolo arm to produce almost symphonic sounds. And yes I can hear the influences of The Shadows and Hank Marvin throughout. At the same time Jeff Beck can rock out, suddenly producing loud and fuzzy chord sequences. His introductions to certain tunes use harmonics and play around with the melody until it, almost secretly, emerges into the song as it was originally intended to be heard. So I take any opportunity to see Jeff Beck in concert.

beck5We have waited a couple of years for this concert to take place, because of Covid. But, as always, Jeff didn’t let us down and delivered a performance to be remembered for the music and for other reasons of which I will write shortly.

Jeff started the set with his usual eclectic choice of instrumentals, each of which was different yet great in its own right. Some I recognised; some were unfamiliar to me. Then, after half a dozen songs, the surprise we were all expecting actually happened.

Now famous Hollywood idol Johnny Depp had flown over from America after his recent court case to join the Jeff Beck tour. I was not aware of it, but Jeff Beck and Johnny Depp have been collaborating for a few years now. Johnny Depp had already appeared at several shows on the tour and we were all waiting to see if he would grace the stage of the Sage. When he was spotted drinking on Newcastle Quayside with Jeff Beck and local hero Sam Fender it became obvious that he would be joining beck4the Gateshead concert. Immediately, any remaining tickets were sold. Such is the legend that is Johnny Depp. People were queueing outside the Sage for many hours to catch a glimpse of Johnny Depp, or even an autograph (and some fans were lucky enough to score a signature). My carer Lisa was really excited at the prospect of seeing Johnny Depp. Now my view is that Johnny Depp is a secret closet rockstar wannabe. All of this is to his credit, by the way, in my opinion. He is a massive fan of Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones and sings and plays in a band called The Hollywood Vampires with Alice Cooper. But I was unaware of the Jeff Beck connection.

beck2Johnny Depp came on stage to a massive cheer from the crowd. The pair then proceeded to deliver a short set of songs with Johnny Depp on vocals and guitar and Jeff Beck providing his own inimitable accompaniment. Now people have different views on Johnny Depp as a musician. He is not the greatest singer on the planet nor is he a wonderful guitarist but he puts his all into the performance and, for me, his vocals are quite emotional. They started with a song called “Hedy Lamar”, which I am not familiar with, followed by “Isolation”, a John Lennon song which again I don’t know. Then came a wonderful version of the Everly Brothers ballad “Let It Be Me” which I found quite emotional. Exquisite. Then another great song and a great rendition of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going on “, followed by Hendrix’s “Little Wing” and a song by Killing Joke which was again unfamiliar to me. Johnny Depp left the stage: as he did, the two friends hugged each other. Jeff explained at one point “I met this guy five years ago when he came to my dressing room and said “Hello” and we have never stopped laughing since!” He also explained that they have been working on an album which will be released next month. Jeff Beck concluded the concert with two more instrumentals, ending with “Corpus Christi Carol”. Fantastic.

beck6People have mixed views on this collaboration and on Johnny Depp’s appearance with Jeff Beck. Some fans appeared on local television questioning why Jeff Beck would “spoil” his concert by collaborating with someone who cannot sing too well (their view, not mine). Others were simply knocked out by having the opportunity to be in the presence of a major Hollywood star. Now this is my view: Jeff Beck is no fool. He does not need Johnny Depp to sell tickets. He does have his own legend to protect. But he simply likes the guy and enjoys the collaboration and it can’t do his reputation any harm. Indeed it will introduce many new fans to his music. So this is a win-win collaboration. I was certainly glad, and excited, to witness it.

beck badA wonderful concert, and a wonderful evening. Thank you Jeff and Johnny.

Thanks to Lisa for the photographs and to David, my son, for helping me into bed and looking after me for the evening.

Setlist (something like this): Star Cycle; You Know You Know (Mahavishnu Orchestra song); Stratus; Nadia; Rumble (the wonderful Link Wray instrumental); Mná na hÉireann; Big Block; Brush With the Blues; (Johnny Depp comes on stage to a great cheer); Heddy Lamar; Isolation (John Lennon song); Let It Be Me (the wonderful Everly Brothers ballad); What’s Going On (lovely Marvin Gaye song); Little Wing (the great Jimi Hendrix song); The Death and Resurrection Show (Killing Joke tune); (Johnny Depp leaves the stage) Cause We’ve Ended as Lovers; Corpus Christi Carol.

Encore: (with Johnny Depp) A Day in the Life (instrumental version of The Beatles song)

 

The Crazy World of Arthur Brown Whitley Bay Playhouse 26 May 2022

arthur tixWelcome to the Crazy World of Arthur Brown. A rare treat experienced by a group of middle-aged (and older) followers, along with some younger devotees, in the seaside town of Whitley Bay. Even Arthur partook in some fish and chips and found them to be to his liking. This is the show that Arthur always wanted to deliver to us. The vision was always there. Back in the early days where he ascended up on a crane wearing his crown of flames at the Plumpton Jazz Festival or when I was so lucky to experience a performance by his band Kingdom Come in the early 1970s at Wearmouth Hall, Sunderland Polytechnic Students Union and he emerged from a coffin, was tied to a massive cross and was dragged off stage in a straitjacket. I thought it was one of the weirdest and craziest things I had ever witnessed. Now technology has enabled Arthur to deliver the full concept to us in all its splendour.

arthur bdgThe first half consisted of Arthur performing the majority of his first Crazy World of Arthur Brown album, including “Fire Poem” which leads into his anthem “Fire!” Everyone knows this one: “I am the God of hellfire and I bring you – – – Fire! I take you to burn”. The reaction of people when I told them I was going to see Arthur Brown. “Who is he?”, or “is he still around?” When reminded most people did remember “Fire!” He also included some new material and some classic Kingdom Come songs. Lots of costume changes. And, a real crown of fire! That is something I have never seen him wear before. Psychedelic backdrop showing liquid lens videos of Arthur in his prime in the late 1960s. Mannequins wearing spooky masks. The band wearing crazy costumes and headgear with feathers just as I remember Kingdom Come back 50 years ago. Gauze, flimsy, drapes adorning the stage.arthur 4

Arthur creeping about and moving off and on stage during costume changes. A theremin with its own mannequin and spooky, psychedelic sounds. Swirling, 1960s Hammond organ. In other words the full concept. Psychedelic. Fully encaptivating. Crazy. Drawing us into his crazy world. Amazing. Strong screams. Deep, soaring operatic voice.

Arthur reveals he is 80 next month. He is fit, lean and dances like a whirling dervish. His voice is as strong as ever. He finishes the first set with the classic “Time Captives” which I have seen him sing several times with Hawkwind. My friend Norman just reminded me of this and the time we went to see them (Arthur and Hawkwind, that is) at the Magna Centre in Sheffield. Everyone dressed as robots! Now that was a crazy evening as well.arthur 1

“Without Arthur Brown there would be no Alice Cooper”: Alice Cooper. “Arthur Brown has the Voice ofarthur 5 Death”: Bruce Dickinson – Iron Maiden. “Arthur Brown was a man ahead of his time”: Elton John. “Arthur Brown is as much a dancer as he is a singer”: Pete Townshend – The Who. (All quotes from Arthur’s website)

The second half is just as encaptivating. Less costume changes, just as crazy dancing. A medley of Arthur’s roots. “Be Bop a Lula”, “Hey sinner man where you gonna run to?” Some obscure; many crazy. He finishes with “this one you will know”: Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall”. I have seen Arthur perform this Dylan classic several times. I remember David and I went to see Arthur at the Compass Club in Whitby (Arthur’s hometown) and he emerged from the back of the hall dressed all in black with a large top hat and banging a long staff on the ground singing this song. His treatment is immaculate. And then he is gone. Leaving us with memories of his crazy world and a night spent in the company of a true artist who has just shared with us his vision of madness, darkness and Fire! The crowd gave him a standing ovation, which is richly deserved. Laura declared it “amazing”. The last time we saw him together was at York Fibbers club more than 10 years ago. But this was the pinnacle. Thank you Arthur for an amazing evening. But then why would I expect anything less?arthur3

Many thanks to Jackie for her exquisite photographs and Chris for helping me back into my bed. A final memory. When I was 12 years old, with my Christmas money I treated myself to two albums. The first was the Who’s Tommy double album rock opera. The second was Tyrannosaurus Rex and their second album Phrophets, Seers and Sages; The Angels of the Agesarthur 2. The third was, of course, Arthur Brown’s first album The Crazy World of Arthur Brown. I loved that album and played it and played it. One omission, Arthur, if I dare to be so greedy: I wish you had played Screaming Jay Hawkins’ “I Put a Spell on You” from that album. But then you can’t always get what you want (now there’s another song!)