Posts Tagged ‘concert’

Lindisfarne Pavilion Theatre Yarm 17 September 2022

lindistixLindisfarne have an intriguing and somewhat confusing history. There are, in practice, currently two versions of the band touring at the moment. The first, the Lindisfarne Story, comprises founding drummer Ray Laidlaw along with later vocalist and long-term friend of the band, Billy Mitchell who tour as a duo telling stories and singing acoustic versions of the Lindisfarne repertoire. I was lucky enough to see them quite recently at Durham Gala Theatre and have reported separately on that concert.

LINDIS5The second version of Lindisfarne is a fully electric band which tours the country playing all of the well-known songs that Lindisfarne are so famous for. Until a few years ago this band was fronted by Ray Jackson, former front man, singer and harmonica player who has now retired to focus upon his other passion, drawing and painting. I recently purchased a signed print of his “Fog on the Tyne” work, which  is excellent! This version of the band is now fronted by original member Rod Clements and features past members of Lindisfarne. It was this, electric version, of Lindisfarne that I was seeing in Yarm.

The following extract from the Pavilion Theatre‘s website summarises the bands history thus:

“LINDISFARNE emerged from Tyneside in the 1970s and quickly carved out a unique place for themselves as one of British rock’s most original bands. Their pioneering sound, combining acoustic instruments like mandolin and fiddle with their electric blues roots, proved the perfect medium to deliver the catchy, memorable songs provided by the band’s resident writers Alan Hull and Rod Clements.

LINDIS3Their first hit, the Clements-penned “Meet Me on the Corner”, paved the way for their classic Fog on the Tyne to become the UK’s top-selling album of 1972. LINDISFARNE’s unforgettable songs, powerful live performances and unpretentious style led to worldwide success and an enviable reputation as festival favourites, and the annual Christmas concerts they presented in their native Newcastle became the stuff of legend.

The original band finally called it a day in 2003, but now LINDISFARNE are back with a classic five-piece line up of long-time members fronted by original founder-member Rod Clements (vocals, mandolin, fiddle, slide guitar) and Alan Hull’s son-in-law Dave Hull-Denholm (vocals, guitars). “ Other members are: Steve Daggett (vocals, keyboards, acoustic guitar and harmonica) who has been in the band since 1986; Ian Thomson (electric and double bass) a member since 1995 and Paul Smith (drums) who joined more recently in 2021.”

“With a repertoire of much-loved songs like “Meet Me on the Corner”, “Fog on the Tyne”, “Lady Eleanor” and “Run for Home. “…

The Princess Alexandra Auditorium is a stunning venue on the Yarm School site. “A visit to the Auditorium is memorable, with beautiful views of the River Tees”. And memorable, indeed, it is. This beautiful venue is hidden behind Yarm school and has been open for 10 years. It really is a stunning venue and I am surprised that I have never heard of it before.

LINDIS 1We had great seats in the front row and got there just in time to see Lindisfarne (no support act) begin the proceedings with old favourite “No Time to Lose”. The concert was in two sets with a short interval between them. What can I say! The new (-ish) band play all the old favourites and do them 100% justice. Rod Clements is a quiet yet charismatic front man who introduces many of the songs. Dave Hull-Denholm performs his father-in-law’s songs with the reverence they deserve and his vocals sound very much like Alan Hull. Steve Daggett sings quite a few of the songs and again does justice to the Lindisfarne repertoire. So in the first set we get great tunes such as the enigmatic, melodic early classic “Lady Eleanor”. This song always intrigues me. The lyric “in came Roderick Usher with the lady Eleanor” is not quite true to the Edgar Allan Poe tail “The Fall of the House of Usher”. The lady in question is actually Madeline not Eleanor. I wonder why they use that particular poetic licence? Other favourites are “Road to Kingdom Come” and, closing the first set, “January Song”.

LINDIS 2The second set begins with another great Lindisfarne classic “Alright on the Night”. Soon we get a wonderful, atmospheric performance of the much underrated “Dingley Dell”. This brings back lovely memories of seeing Lindisfarne at Newcastle City Hall on the Dingley Dell tour. I went both nights as there were different supports each night and I was a fan of each band: Stackridge and Genesis! Happy days. Then, my particular favourite which still makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck: Dave performing “Winter Song”. Soon we are into the hits: “We can Swing Together”, “Fog on the Tyne” and “Meet me on the Corner”, followed by the massive hit Lindisfarne reunion song “Run for Home”. And the closer, yes it had to be “Clear White Light”. I am transported back to the first time I saw Lindisfarne in the City Hall sandwiched between headliner Van der Graaf Generator and new up-and-coming band Genesis. All for 25p as I recall! Happy days

A great night spent with a great local band. Wonderful. The taxi takes around one hour to get me back home and soon I am in my bed thinking how wonderful Lindisfarne remain.

LINDISFLYEROn the way out we are given a flyer for the Newcastle City Hall Lindisfarne Christmas concert, following the tradition of many years. I went to what I think was the 1st Christmas concert at Newcastle City Hall in 1971. Sadly I am unable to attend this year as I will be seeing Rod Stewart at Newcastle Arena on the same night. Such dilemmas always annoy me and sent to try me! This was one of the reasons I made the trip to Yarm to see Lindisfarne. Many thanks to carer Jan for taking the photos. No merchandise to buy this evening.

So I am left with the question: who provides the better evening; the Lindisfarne Story or Lindisfarne? A question which is of course impossible to answer. They are both excellent bands who both hold a rightful place in the history and legacy of Tyneside’s greatest band. We should celebrate that we have two opportunities to hear and sing along with, those great classic songs that are such an important part of my youth.

Setlist: Set 1: No Time to Lose; Turn a Deaf Ear; Scarecrow Song; Song for a Windmill; Lady Eleanor; All Fall Down; Anyway the Wind Blows; Marshall Riley’s Army; Road to Kingdom Come; 100 Miles to Liverpool; January Song.

Set 2: Alright on the Night; Together Forever; Dingly Dell; Songbook; Winter Song; Numbers (Travelling Band); We Can Swing Together; Fog on the Tyne; Meet Me on the Corner; Run for Home; Clear White Light.

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)

ABBA: Voyage The ABBA arena London 1 September 2022

abba 1Apologies for the break in transmission which I felt appropriate during the time of mourning for our Queen and the transition to King Charles.

How do you explain the inexplicable? Did I really see what I thought I did a couple of weeks ago in London? This was an experience like no other and one that has to be seen to be believed.

“Blending cutting-edge technology, spectacular lighting, and some of the most beloved songs ever written, ABBA take to the stage in a whole new way. In a stunning, purpose-built arena, one of the most popular groups in history appear as digital avatars in a ‘ground-breaking’ (Metro) concert that really ‘needs to be seen to be believed” (BBC).

I saw ABBA in concert, once only, in 1979 at Stafford Bingley Hall which was an old cattle market. It smelt of cattle and sheep and I swear that I saw bits of straw on the floor. I went there twice, once to see The Who (the first concert there as I recall), and once to see ABBA. For The Who concert it was standing everywhere; for ABBA it was set out with plastic chairs across the floor. My friend Davey and I were seated quite close to the front and ABBA were, as you would expect, sensational. They were at the height of their success and sang all the hits. I have reviewed the concert on my blog elsewhere (enter ABBA in the search box).

abba 2Now going to a concert these days takes some organisation. There are quite a lot of logistics involved including booking assistance on the train to make sure that a friendly guy appears with a ramp to get me on and off the train. On this occasion three carers accompanied me, all of us excited at the experience. We travelled direct from Sunderland to London via the lovely Grand Central service. The guy with the ramp appeared like magic both there and back on the journey. Once at King’s Cross we checked in to a Premier Inn which is directly opposite the station. After a quick rest we were off to the ABBA arena via a fast train from St Pancras to Stratford International and then a Docklands Light Railway (DLR) to Pudding Mill Lane station. Again, this all worked well with passenger assistance helping me out with a ramp without any pre-warning on the fast train. The DLR is similar to a tube train and I can easily navigate my wheelchair straight on. All no problem. Excellent! The ABBA arena is then a short walk over the road.

abba progOnce we got inside I bought some merchandise including a couple of programmes for my friend John and I, and some badges for my daughter. We picked up our drinks and then took our seats in the arena. What happened next was a revelation. Somehow, using magical technology, the ABBA people have managed, using avatars, to recreate the four members of the group just as they were in 1979. All four are there in front of us singing the hits. You can get a feel for the show from the link contained in this review in the Guardian. Lights and mirrors appear from the ceiling, rotating, and moving screens display the group while they lead the songs from the back of the stage. An excellent band accompanies them. Each member speaks to us, their faces appearing exactly as they looked “back in the day”. Unbelievable.

The set list is everything you could wish for. After a couple of songs I didn’t recognise we are into the hits: “SOS”, “Knowing Me, Knowing You”, “Fernando” and so it goes on. One of my favourites “Eagle” is accompanied by a computer-generated video of a young boy marvelling at an eagle flying “high in the sky”. The hits just keep coming. For “Waterloo” they choose to show footage of the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest which they won and took place in the UK, in Brighton. I don’t mind admitting I had tears in my eyes at this point. Everything was perfectly recreated. They close with “Thank You for the Music” and “Dancing Queen”. By this point I am melting down; I find the whole experience highly emotional. It takes me back to a time when things were very different and when ABBA were wonderful. And tonight they are abba 3wonderful again. By now the girls are clapping and dancing, as is the entire arena. Finally we are treated to an encore of “The Winner Takes It All”. Then another piece of magic happens. The avatars become the group as they are now. They come to the front of the stage and thank us for coming along to the show.

Then we are out into the dark night and the journey back to the hotel via DLR and the fast train all work smoothly. We stop off for some supper of burgers/hot dogs and chips in Five Guys at King’s Cross. Then I am soon back in bed, the whole experience swirling round in my head, not believing what I have just experienced.

So is this the future of rock concerts? Will this technology enable us to see The Beatles in concert? It opens up all sorts of possibilities. Will my grandchildren be treated to avatars recreating the Rolling Stones, The Who, Fleetwood Mac, Eagles, Bob Dylan; the list goes on as do the possibilities. Will arena shows based on virtual reality replace tribute bands in the future? The technology is there now and proven to work. After its very significant run of shows in London the ABBA arena will grace major cities around the world. This show could go on for ever, treating fans to a glimpse of the past and bringing history back to life.

The next morning we have some breakfast, and then we are up and back on our train to Sunderland. All works well. And “a good time was had by all”, to coin a well-known phrase! My trip back to 1979 was pure magic and if you get the chance please go and see the show. It is as good as everything you read about it. Happy days!

Setlist: The Visitors; Hole In Your Soul; SOS; Knowing Me, Knowing You; Chiquitita; Fernando; Mamma Mia; Does Your Mother Know?; Eagle; Lay All Your Love On Me; Summer Night City; Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight); Voulez-Vous; When All Is Said And Done; Don’t Shut Me Down; I Still Have Faith In You; Waterloo; Thank You For The Music; Dancing Queen.

Encore: The Winner Takes It All

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.

Diana Ross Durham cricket ground 29 June 2022

DIANA TIX - CopyWell this was a strange one. Diana Ross is, of course, an icon, a diva and someone I have never been lucky enough to see in the past. So I was greatly looking forward to seeing her perform at Durham County Cricket club ground which is a few miles away from my home, at Chester-le-Street. So a group of us: me, carer Elaine, Jan and Elaine’s daughter Sophie went along to experience Ms Ross. It had been raining during the day but by the time we arrived it was warm and dry, although the plastic seats were soaking wet!DIANA1
When I say was a strange concert, it was not what most people expected. Diana came onstage just before 9 PM and announced that she was going to perform the show in her “Uggs” (a reference to her Ugg boots, I guess). She was wearing a tartan lumberjack coat; none of the usual diva glitzy costumes. She opened the set with “Chain Reaction” and then launched straight into a collection of 1960s Supremes classics: “Baby Love”; “Stop! In the Name of Love” (everyone holding their hand up in a Stop position; you know what I mean); “You Can’t Hurry Love” and (my particular favourite) “Love Child”. DIANA2All sung perfectly; Diana’s voice was really strong and she was clearly enjoying herself. For some reason she had decided to miss out all the glitz, strip back the show to its basics and deliver what, for me, was the authentic Diana: just as I remembered her on Top of the Pops when I was a kid. Wonderful! These are treasured “melt down” moments.
It took me back 50 years to when I saw David Bowie on the Ziggy Stardust tour at Sunderland Top Rank. For some unexplained reason he decided not to wear Ziggy make up or gear, came onstage in a pair of Levi’s, T-shirt and leather jacket and belted out a collection of his own songs, Velvet Underground tunes and other classics from the 1960s. Many people went home disappointed that night; I knew I had seen something special and treasure that performance to this day. This was the same: a special evening with an international star, 78 years old, looking and sounding great.
Diana continued with “Theme from Mahogany”, a great cover of “Why Do Fools Fall in Love” and “Ease on down the Road”. Then a couple of songs from her new album DIANA PROGThank You and closing song (of course) “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”. Then she waved to the crowd, walked off stage leaving her excellent band and vocalists to close the show. She was onstage for just over an hour. No encore (which is apparently usually “I Will Survive”), just some great music on a nice evening with everyone singing along.
Now a lot of people were apparently disappointed, and I understand why. However for me I felt privileged to witness a concert by a true star, just having fun and singing a few songs for us. The stars from the 1960s seem to go on forever; more power to their elbow. I think we may never see their like again. Thank you Ms Ross for a great show.

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.