Posts Tagged ‘concert’

Jeff Beck Tribute Concert, the Royal Albert Hall, London 23 May 2023

beck tix 23Sorry for taking so long to write this review. But it was an important evening and there was so much to write about! And I apologise in advance for any typos that have crept in to this lengthy (for me, anyway) account.

Well, this was a big thing for me. I am, always have been, and always will be a massive Jeff Beck fan. To me he epitomises the electric guitar, and could get sounds out of the instrument that no other guitarist could touch. His use of dynamics, the volume control, the tremolo and his fingers on the frets, produced sounds that we will never hear again. And so, when I saw this concert advertised, I was determined to go along. It took three phones, two of us and quite a nervous wait in the queue to get tickets, which sold out almost immediately.

Royal_Albert_Hall,_London_-_Nov_2012So, on the day three of us, Jackie, Jan (my carers) and I travelled down by train to London for the show at the Majestic Albert Hall. This was my first visit to the Royal Albert Hall since my accident. My last visit there was to see Clapton at his 70th birthday concert. And tonight, it was Eric Clapton and his band who opened and, to some extent, led the proceedings. The disabled access within the building is fantastic and we had seats quite high up looking directly down on the stage. Once we got ourselves and my wheelchair positioned, we had a pretty good view of the stage. People travelled from all of the world for this concert. I met a cool oldish guy in the bar who had travelled from New York. “Jeff Beck was The Man!” he proudly told me. Of course, I agreed.

beck guitar 23The concert opened with a single spotlight on a white Fender Stratocaster standing proudly centre stage on a beautiful Indian carpet. Yes, this was one of Jeff Beck’s guitars. It was quite emotional looking down from our vantage point upstairs at the instrument. Above the guitar, a large screen showed images of Jeff Beck over the years, many displaying his beloved collection of classic cars.

beck 1 23Clapton opened the proceedings with his band and great performances of the Yardbirds classics “Shapes of Things” and “Heart Full of Soul”. Wonderful. Both favourite songs of mine and performed perfectly. Clapton took vocal duties on the former and his long-term collaborator and fellow guitarist Doyle Bramhall did a great job of singing the latter song.

beck 3 23The band was then joined by Derek Trucks on “Little Brown Bird”. Derek is an ace slide guitarist, to say the least Then Derek’s wife Susan Tedeshi did a great bluesy version of “Done Somebody Wrong” singing and playing lead guitar. I can see why my friend John is such a fan of the Tedeschi Trucks band. Susan continued to lead the band with the lovely song “The Sky Is Crying”.

beck2 23Ronnie Wood then swaggered on stage; Clapton introducing him as “here comes the scallywag” which seemed quite appropriate. Ronnie was on stage for most of the evening. He proudly took the lead on bass guitar for “Beck’s Bolero” a favourite of mine from the Jeff Beck Group. Ronnie was, of course, a member of the band along with his old mate Rod Stewart, who would join in during the second half of the show. Ronnie reminded the audience that he often played bass guitar when he was in the Jeff Beck Group.

Olivia_safeNext came a song unfamiliar to me: “Elegy For Dunkirk” with classical singer Olivia Safe on vocals and Robert Randolph on keyboards. The backing musicians changed from Clapton’s band to Jeff Beck’s band during the evening and sometimes involved a blend of both. All excellent musicians, particularly Beck’s female bass guitarist and female drummer and Chris Stainton on keyboards. Chris is a long-time member of Eric’s band. I remember seeing him for the first time back in 1972 when he performed as backing band to Joe Cocker who headlined the Lincoln Festival.

beck 10 23“Isolation” sees actor come rockstar Johnny Depp, Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett and ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons (great hat and beard) take the stage. The next song is simply fantastic; a wonderful version of the Shangri-La’s “(Remember) Walkin’ In The Sand” led on sassy vocals by Imelda May, who looks (in a slinky red dress) fantastic and sounds tremendous. A highlight of the evening. Billy Gibbons remains on stage for the rest of the first half of the show, playing some great riffs. Johnny Depp looks so cool and is in his element playing along with his heroes. And this show must be so emotional for him, having toured with Jeff Beck only last year.

beck 11 23Then the mood changes substantially towards jazz and the elder statesman of the guitar, Jon McLaughlin who plays two instrumentals from the Wired period of Beck’s work. McLaughlin takes guitar playing to another level. He really is a master of his craft and looks a cool gentleman at 81 years young. Billy Gibbons continues to lead the band after McLaughlin departs, and the first half of the show concludes with a rocking version of “Train Kept A Rollin’” bringing back memories of the appearance of the Yardbirds in the 100 Club during the classic 60s film Blow Up, featuring Johnny Depp, Kirk Hammett, Ronny Wood, Billy Gibbons, Imelda May and the Jeff Beck Band. A great finish to the start of the proceedings.

beck9 23During the Intermission there is a little time for some people watching and another double whiskey topped off with some lovely salted popcorn! The screen shows more video of Jeff Beck and many clips of fellow guitar heroes commenting upon his genius including fellow Yardbird Jimmy Page.

beck 18 23Soon we return to the music with Eric Clapton and his band. “I Put A Spell On You” features fantastic, soulful vocals by Joss Stone. ”‘Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers” and the very cool looking Gary Clark, Jr. adds more bluesy guitar to the mix.

beck 16 23A song or two later Ronnie Wood’s old mate Rod Stewart takes to the stage, starting with “Infatuation” and then moving into two songs which he sang with the Jeff Beck Group: “Rock Me Baby” and “I Ain’t Superstitious ”. It’s great to see the two old mod rockers jamming together again. Brings back memories of The Faces.

beck 20 23The concert closes with the entire cast performing the Curtis Mayfield classic “People Get Ready”, followed by “Going Down” which ends the concert and brings back memories of the first time I saw Jeff Beck live at Grangemouth Festival in 1972; I feel sure Beck, Bogert and Appice played that song there.

As we left the Hall, the sound system played Jeff Beck’s sublime version of “Moon River” with Clapton on vocals. It took me back to the Clapton/Beck concert at the O2 Arena in London which I attended some years ago and during which they performed the song much to my surprise and delight. A fitting way to close the evening. After a short wait we caught a cab back to the hotel. The next day we caught the train back up north, memories of a great night still ringing through my head.

beck7 23It really couldn’t have been much better and was a fitting tribute to a true guitar warrior and legend. Yes, I would have liked to have heard “Morning Dew”, “Hi Ho Silver Lining” (but then Jeff never really liked the song) and it would have been great if Jimmy Page had appeared. But none of that mattered. I will remember this concert for the rest of my life.

Thanks to Jan for taking the photos and to Wikimedia Commons for the picture of the Royal Albert Hall.

beck 13 23Setlist: Blue Rainbow; Shapes Of Things; Heart Full Of Soul; Wee Wee Baby; Little Brown Bird; Done Somebody Wrong; The Sky Is Crying; Beck’s Bolero; Elegy For Dunkirk; Isolation; Walkin’ In The Sand; Goodbye Porkpie Hat; You Know You Know; Stratus; Rough Boy;  Rice Pudding; Train Kept A Rollin’

– Intermission –

beck phto 23Freeway Jam; I Put A Spell On You; ‘Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers; Let Me Love You; Infatuation; Rock My Plimsoul (Rock Me Baby); I Ain’t Superstitious; People Get Ready; Going Down

This picture of Jeff Beck is from the Sage Gateshead which is the last time I saw the great man in concert. RIP Jeff Beck. We will never see your like again.

Francis Rossi Whitley Bay Playhouse 19 May 2023

rossi tix 23This tour was entitled “Tunes and Chat” as opposed to the previous Francis Rossi tour which was called something like “I Talk Too Much”. So, this time round Francis was accompanied by another guitarist, his guitar technician I believe, and the emphasis was more on the songs, and less chatting. Francis is a cheeky chappie, that we all know and love, and tonight was no exception. Plenty of quips, jokes (some of the ruder variety) and general chitchat about his past.

rossi flyerArrived in time to have a nice double whiskey. No merchandise this time around. Accompanied by carer Elaine and old mate Norm.So Francis started at the beginning with some tales of his Italian origins and Italian songs such as “Papa Pickalino” (or something like that) and how they introduced him to music, songs and the guitar shuffle which would be the backdrop to many of the Status Quo tracks. He talked about how psychedelia and pop led him to write “Pictures of Matchstick Men” and then moved on to explain how Status Quo became more rocky and the shuffle became songs like “Spinning Wheel Blues” and “In My Chair”. Then we got the great “Gerdundula”, “Down the Dustpipe” and others. “Burning Bridges” (“some people like it, some people hate it” said Francis) closed the first set. Time for ice cream (Ben & Jerry’s; lovely)

Francis-rossi-2007-07-18During the interval the merchandise stall was selling the latest Francis large format coffee table signed book, which I already have courtesy of his website. Before I forget to mention it, the second guitarist was excellent and played quite a lot of lead guitar; both men on similar looking electric guitars. The second set comprised more tunes and some questions from the audience. One in particular sticks in my mind. Francis’ sidekick read the questions from cards collected from a pile placed on the stage by audience members. “What makes you so successful and to have continued success over so many years?” After a little thought Francis replied “Well I am basically insecure. I always wanted to be famous and to feel loved. And I still do feel that way. So to fulfil my dreams and overcome my insecurities I have to keep coming out and performing to audiences like yourselves”.

Francis_Rossi,_Bula_Quo,_London,_2013_(straighten)Another question. “Which do you prefer? Large arenas or small theatres?” Again, after a pause, “I suppose I like the intimacy of smaller venues where I can actually see the audience and sing and talk directly to them”. Then we are into the final stretch and Status Quo favourites “Margarita Time”, “Rockin’ All over the World” and finally “Caroline”. All good fun. Elaine, Norm and I all enjoyed it. But hey Francis time to get the Quo back on the road.
Photography was not allowed so the images are stock photos courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

640px-Status_Quo_-_2019156201319_2019-06-05_Zeltfestival_Rhein-Neckar_-_Sven_-_1D_X_MK_II_-_0370_-_AK8I5331Setlist: Set 1: Pictures of Matchstick Men; (April) Spring, Summer and Wednesdays; Spinning Wheel Blues; In My Chair;  Gerdundula; Rock ‘n’ Roll; Claudie; Break the Rules; Down the Dustpipe; Burning Bridges

Set 2: What You’re Proposing; And It’s Better Now; Nanana; Tongue Tied; Marguerita Time; Rockin’ All Over the World; Caroline

The Searchers Whitley Bay Playhouse 18 May 2023

search tix60 years on and you can’t keep a good band, like The Searchers, down. As Frank Allen explained they intended to retire but after a year or more of DIY, painting and gardening he and founder member John McNally were getting bored. Frank phoned John and said “do you fancy playing again?” John quickly admitted that he too missed the shows and the audience. And so this “thank you”/farewell tour emerged. And a packed Whitley Bay Playhouse audience were glad they did so. These guys are 100% professionals. No need for any support act. With all the hits, covers of favourite songs and album tracks, they can easily fill two sets with a short interval in between.

search4These are the songs of my childhood and youth. Yes this band may not be 100% “cool” but hey who can forget the jangle of “Needles and Pins” or the thumping bass of “When You Walk in the Room”? Pure 1960s pop classics. By the way, check out the originals by Jackie De Shannon (there are some great videos of her performing the songs on YouTube). John McNally, now 81 (wow!) still plays a mean 12 string Rickenbacker and Frank Allen, new boy to the band (he joined in 1964 and is 79 years young) is the consummate front man. “New Comer” Spencer James who joined in 1986 takes the honours in singing lead vocal on most of the songs. And a great job he does too.

serch progWe arrive in time to buy a couple of programmes, one for me and one for my friend John in the USA, a T-shirt and a fridge magnet for my eldest daughter who loves to collect small memorabilia, a double whiskey to get me in the mood and quickly to our seats down the front. They start, well right back to the start with “Sweets for My Sweet” and the wonderful “Don’t Throw Your Love Away” and then John gets a chance to really jingle jangle his 12 string on the Byrds/Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man”. More hits follow including another favourite of mine “What Have They Done to the Rain?” followed by “Goodbye My Love” a great version of Del Shannon’s “Runaway” and “Someday We’re Gonna Love Again”. Yes they did have loads of hits during the period 1963 – 1966. They close the first half by returning to their roots and covers of “Peggy Sue”, “Oh, Boy!” and “Running Scared”.

search2The interval allows time for a lovely Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and more hits and covers: “Ain’t Gonna Kiss Ya”, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone”; back to the start again with “Sugar and Spice” and another favourite of mine that I have on an EP somewhere “Love Potion No. 9”. A few more covers and they close with “Needles and Pins” and “When You Walk in the Room”, followed by their version of the Isley’s “Twist and Shout”. Finally we get a medley of all the hits together: “Sweets for My Sweet; Don’t Throw Your Love Away; When You Walk in the Room; Love Potion No.9; Sugar and Spice; Needles and Pins”. That’s it. Will it be the last time. I suspect not.

serach1Music and performing is in the blood of these guys. They just can’t stop. If you told me when I was 15 that at 66 I would be watching a band of “pop” stars in their 80s still singing their hits I would have said you are crazy. But hey why not. It’s all good fun. Happy days. “I saw her today, I saw her face, it was a face I loved, and I knew I just had to run away, and get down on my knees and pray, but then they begin….” You just can’t beat it. Pure magic.

Setlist: First set: Sweets for My Sweet; Don’t Throw Your Love Away; Mr. Tambourine Man; Take Me for What I’m Worth; What Have They Done to the Rain?;  Goodbye My Love; Runaway; Hearts in Her Eyes; Farmer John; Someday We’re Gonna Love Again; Bumble Bee; Peggy Sue; Oh, Boy!; Running Scared; Seven Nights to Rock.

search3Second set:  Ain’t Gonna Kiss Ya; All My Sorrows ; Where Have All the Flowers Gone; Sugar and Spice; Somebody Told Me You Were Crying; Love Potion No. 9; Four Strong Winds; Have You Ever Loved Somebody?; The Rose; Young Girl; Needles and Pins; When You Walk in the Room; Twist and Shout; Medley of Sweets for My Sweet; Don’t Throw Your Love Away; When You Walk in the Room; Love Potion No.9; Sugar and Spice; Needles and Pins.

Joe Bonamassa Newcastle Utilita Arena 13 May 2023

joe tixIt is some years since I first saw Joe Bonamassa perform at Newcastle City Hall. So I figured it was about time that I went to see the man again. And some man he is. Joe is a blues guitarist extraordinaire, to say the least. This time he has moved up to the Newcastle Arena, although the setup was designed so that it did not quite take up the entire arena. This made the show quite intimate in terms of the cavernous venue. Still, I can remember when he was playing local blues clubs in pubs in the North-East. The guy has worked consistently, diligently, to build his craft and his fan base internationally over the years. And much credit to him for doing so. He deserves his success.joe 1
I was perched, with my carer Jan, up towards the back of the arena with a great view overlooking the entire stage. We arrived just in time for me to have a tray of chips and a pint of lager. Not being a true aficionado of Mr Bonamassa, to my shame his songs are unfamiliar to me. Unlike the rest of the audience who hang on to his every note, are familiar with every song and give him loud cheers and applause for each solo. For some reason I always try and locate artists in my mind by comparing their work to that of others. In the case of Joe Bonamassa there are so many comparisons I could make.

joe 3The obvious one is Eric Clapton. My friend, John who hails from the North-East and now lives in the USA, is a massive Joe fan and has seen him many times. He feels that Bonamassa is on par with Clapton at his best and I can’t disagree. I also see and hear music that reminds me of all of the great blues guitarists: Jimi Hendrix, Alvin Lee, Peter Green, Jeff Beck and, of course, Paul Kossoff. Joe Bonamassa is a big fan and disciple of Paul Kossoff and owns at least one of his guitars.

Joe spoke about his influences in an interview (Guitar Messenger, 2014): “You know, my heroes were the English guys – Paul Kossoff, Peter Green, Eric Clapton. There’s so many – there’s Gary Moore, Rory Gallagher – another Irish musician who played the same things, but don’t tell him that. But those guys were my guys – Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page. There’s a certain sophistication to their approach to the blues that I really like, more so than the American blues that I was listening to. B.B. King’s a big influence – he’s probably my biggest traditional influence. joe2I love Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson and T-Bone Walker and stuff like that, but I couldn’t sit down. I was always forcing myself to listen to whole records by them, where I’d rather listen to Humble Pie do “I’m Ready” than Muddy Waters, you know? I think, the English interpretation of the blues just hit me a lot better, you know?”

Joe has assembled an excellent band of musicians to accompany him comprising of two wonderful female singers, a second guitarist, drummer, bass player and a keyboard player who pulls out some 1970s swirling tunes from his Hammond organ. Of course, they are all there to support the leading man.

joe4His songs are his own, yet firmly grounded within the tradition of the old blues man alongside the aforementioned 1960s and 1970s artists who brought the blues to a wider international audience. There are many guitar changes from Stratocaster to Les Paul to Gibson Flying V, and many long but enjoyable guitar solos. Each solo takes the audience away on a journey deep into the blues, returning to the song with Joe delivering lyrics himself, accompanied by the lady singers. He closes the set by proudly talking about the first time he played at London’s Royal Albert Hall, a UK memory of which he is clearly very proud, and rightly so. The encore is a slow soulful blues ballad entitled “Mountain Time”. I really enjoyed the concert and I intend to invest more time getting to know Joe Bonamassa’s songs before I go and see him next time round.

Many thanks to Jan for taking the photographs.

Setlist: Evil Mama; Dust Bowl; Love Ain’t a Love Song; Self-Inflicted Wounds; The Heart That Never Waits; I Want to Shout About It; Double Trouble; I Didn’t Think She Would Do It; A Conversation with Alice; Happier Times; Lonely Boy; Just Got Paid

Encore: Mountain Time

Lulu Whitley Bay Playhouse 10 May 2023

lulu tixMuch respect to Lulu. She has achieved so much throughout her career which now spans 6 decades since she 1ST hit the charts with “Shout” as a young, wee Scottish lass who came down from Glasgow and hit the lights and 60s magic of the big city, London and met other people from the North such as the Beatles. But more of this later. The show was a mixture of Lulu recounting her memories and excerpts from the songs which made her famous along the way.

lulu 3The Playhouse website promoted the show thus: “Lulu has made music and memories with the greatest of all time. Elton John wrote songs with her, Bowie produced and recorded with her, McCartney duetted with her and one of the Bee Gees married her. It’s a story that has to be told and provides a once-in-a-lifetime insight into some of the world’s musical legends. Join Lulu as she shares, for the first time, many untold stories, her memories and experiences with the greats – and enjoy with her the music that has been her constant companion. This is Lulu – For The Record.”

Lulu 2She started, well, at the start, with an excerpt from “Shout”, the 1960s, and images of her with the Beatles and other stars from the era. And that was how the show progressed. The format was Lulu talking about her life and her music, interspersing her story with images and excerpts from the songs. She was accompanied by a keyboard player. So, for the 1960s she talked about her TV show and the famous night where Jimi Hendrix appeared. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was perched in front of the TV with my parents while Hendrix played “Hey Joe”, his current hit single. However, he had just heard that the mighty Cream had split and he soon had other ideas. “Enough of this”, he said, “I would like to play something as a tribute to Cream” and broke into “Sunshine of Your Love” which he went on to play well after he was due to finish. Apparently, the BBC technical staff and management went crazy, the guy was playing much longer than planned and eventually they had to roll on the closing credits while he kept playing.

SIR WITH LOVELulu told us that he was, as a result, banned from BBC TV and radio for some time afterwards. Then she spoke of the opportunity that was her appearance in the iconic film To Sir with Love, and which broke down racial barriers featuring the wonderful Sidney Poitier, and then singing part of the title song which was a number one hit for her in America. One of my favourite songs, which brought tears to my eyes. She then went on to talk about her short marriage to Maurice Gibb, and how as a result she sat in on a Bee Gees’ recording session which led into her singing an excerpt from “To Love Somebody”.


1969 saw Lulu representing the UK in the Eurovision Song contest, singing an excerpt from “Boom Bang a Bang”. She went on to win the contest. Then she talked about her collaboration with David Bowie, treating us to a short segment from “The Man Sold the World”. Next, we moved to the James Bond film theme “The Man with the Golden Gun”. This lady really was busy in the 1970s!

lulu panto 1Swiftly into the 1980s, playing in pantomime, Peter Pan with the great Ron Moody and performing in the West End.

After a short interval Lulu took us through her later collaborations, several of which I was unaware including working with Elton John and writing a song for Tina Turner! Then her famous collaboration with Take That and more recent activity moving us forward to the present day and this latest project which will lead to the publication of her autobiography in the near future. So, there we have it. A whirlwind tour through the life and times of a much underrated artist who has achieved much throughout her career.

lulu 1The show wasn’t quite what we (I, my carer Jackie and guest carer Jan) expected. We were hoping for more full versions of the songs and less talk. However, what we got was equally enjoyable and I certainly learnt a lot about the lady and her many accomplishments.

No photography was allowed so the pictures I have used have come courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and from my own collection.

Setlist (all songs are excerpts): Set 1: Shout; Hound Dog; To Sir With Love; Boom Bang-A-Bang; Run to Me; To Love Somebody; The Man Who Sold the World; The Man With the Golden Gun; I Could Never Miss You (More Than I Do)

Set 2: Independence; I Don’t Wanna Fight; Where the Poor Boys Dance; Teardrops; Shout; Relight My Fire.

John Otway and Wild Willie Barrett Durham Launderette 5 May 2023

Otway is a pop star. Well he must be because he says it’s true. After all he resigned himself to his future as a pop star icon when he otway tixwas young watching Top of the Pops. He didn’t dare reveal his true ambition to his mother who would not have believed him so he kept it quiet until he met his friend Wild Willy Barrett and the two of them embarked upon a lifelong career, all with the ultimate aim of making John Otway a true pop star. Sometimes along that journey the two would fall out but destiny would bring them back together again as they are today. The strange marriage has now reached its 50th birthday (wow! Can it be true) and the odd couple are travelling the roads of England singing their songs to cult followers old and new.

otway3Now it is long long time since I witnessed Otway and Barrett. I have seen Otway advertised solo many times over the years but have passed on the opportunity of joining our true pop star in concert until now. The last time I saw the duo was probably in Newcastle Cooperage on a tour where to gain entry, free, you had to take along their latest 45 rpm single. Or maybe it was at Maxwell’s nightclub in Tynemouth (long since gone). Whatever, it was in the late 1970s or early 1980s. So, time to renew my acquaintance with the one and only true pop star, John Otway.

OtWAY 1Jackie, my carer, and I arrived early and on time to snatch a couple of seats close to the front (well actually everyone is close to the front in the Launderette). In fact, the kind man on the door made sure that I had plenty of room in my wheelchair and that we had a great view of the stage. Soon our heroes took to said stage and it was not long before Otway delivered his hit, which made him a pop star “Really Free” and brought the duo into our living rooms on the Old Grey Whistle Test and Top of the Pops. Otway was on top form, really getting into the angst of his ballads, ripping his shirt open, and being, well, a pop star.

otway 2After a short interval, during which I was pleased to meet my old friend Mitch, who would often comment on my blog, we were away again with “Somewhere over the Rainbow”, “Two Little Boys” (yes the song which became a hit for he who shall not be named, but Otway sang it before that) and the wonderful “Beware of The Flowers… Coz You Know They are Going To Get You… Yeah!”. Soon we are close to the end and Otway tears out his heart in front of us to the beautiful Bob Lind ballad “Cheryl’s Going Home “; I can feel the emotion in his voice and his typically over-the-top melodramatic performance is well; just wonderful.” Choo-Choo “goes the train down the track taking Otway’s love Cheryl away for ever. My heart goes out to my favourite pop star. Melodramatic magic.

otway4Now I must make mention of the many guitars and other instruments including a violin and a set of Bagpuss bagpipes played largely by Wild Willy and sometimes by Otway. And I just have to mention Wild Willy’s brown dustbin which he opens frequently to reveal a loud amplifier hiding within. Willy closes the set by sawing his guitar in rhythm to the music, hitting the same guitar with a claw hammer (I kid you not) and then stamping on it. He sells the guitar to a guy in the audience for £31.99 and promises that if you bring two of his smashed guitars along to a gig, you will be admitted free. And he means it. A couple of encores and then our two heroes are gone. Jackie is now convinced that Otway is indeed a pop star.
Thanks to Jackie and Mitch for the photos and Mitch for the set list (thanks, much appreciated)

Set List: Louisa on a horse; Gypsy; Really free; Best dream; If I did; Separated; Misty mountain; Bluey green; Body talk. INTERVAL. Somewhere over the rainbow; Two little boys; Real tears from both eyes; Beware of the flowers; 21 days; The snowflake effect; Come back darling; Cheryl’s going home.

Encores (sort of) – Racing cars; Geneve.

Billy Ocean Newcastle City Hall 22 April 2023

ocean tix“Billy is a Geordie”. So the chant went from the Newcastle crowd. Billy joined in and danced around while the crowd kept chant going. This occurred halfway through the set and demonstrated the love and respect the Newcastle crowd have for Billy Ocean. He has appeared at the venue several times before and to my shame, I have always thought about going, but for some reason always passed up the chance.

ocean4This time I went along and the impetus came from the man himself. I saw pictures of him and he looks so cool these days. He is reborn as a Rasta Man with long grey dreadlocks right down his back, almost to his waist. Completely unrecognisable from cool soul singer of the 80s. So when I saw recent pictures of Rasta Billy I decided I should go and show my support for the cool guy. And after all, I do know lots of his songs.

ocean suppThe City Hall was packed. Carer Jan and I arrived during the set of the support act, a young female singer Anthonia Edwards who was just great. I discovered afterwards that she was the winner of the UK TV show The Voice in 2022. She warmed the crowd up well. After a short interval Billy took to the stage and everyone was up on their feet singing and dancing from the start. The hits just kept on coming. I had forgotten how many hits this guy has had over the years. Some great songs and some really massive worldwide smashes. The second song in is “Love Really Hurts Without You”. Lots of singing along and dancing. Billy is Mr Cool, with a cream suit, collar and tie, natty little jacket pocket hanky and those wonderful dreads going right down his back. Respect. A few more songs in and another massive smash that we all singalong to: “Get Outta My Dreams, Get into My Car”. Roll forward a few more and “Red Light Spells Danger” is another fantastic crowd pleaser.

ocean2Then he returns to his true roots, Bob Marley, and he does justice to “no woman, no cry”. My thoughts run back to the hot summer of 1976 when Marie and I were dancing along to Bob Marley performing that very song in Leeds Students Union Refectory. Billy brings back magic memories. The ballad “Suddenly” is just lovely. Billy the Geordie leaves us with, of course, “When the Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going”. Another massive singalong, the capacity crowd simply love the guy and his performance is superb. For many of the songs he holds his microphone towards the audience who take over the singing.

ocean progNow sometimes I don’t like it when an artist allows the audience to take over, but the vibe between Billy and the City Hall crowd is so strong and there is so much love for the guy, it works well. It is like we are all with him, the artist and the audience together as one; as it should be. A few moments later and he is back. There is only one song left to perform: “Caribbean Queen”. We all singalong with Billy the born-again Rasta man Geordie. Magic.ocean3
So that concludes my three days of concerts: Mike and the Mechanics, Matt Goss and Billy Ocean. Three very different acts and all excellent in their own way. A bit of a rest before my next concert.

Setlist: One World; Love Really Hurts Without You; Nights (Feel Like Getting Down); There’ll Be Sad Songs (To Make You Cry); Love Zone; Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car; “Billy Is A Geordie”; The Colour of Love; Red Light Spells Danger; No Woman, No Cry; Mystery; Suddenly; Loverboy; When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going.

Encore: Caribbean Queen (No More Love on the Run)

The Matt Goss Experience Newcastle Utilita Arena 21 April 2023

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mike and the Mechanics Sage Gateshead 20 April 2023

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Encore: Word of Mouth

The Damned Newcastle NX 7 April 2023

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

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

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

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

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

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