Posts Tagged ‘folk-rock’

Billy Bragg Sage Gateshead 21 October 2021

BILLY TIXIt was a strange and winding road that took me to the Sage last Thursday to see Billy Bragg. Let me reminisce a little first (after all I am an old man largely revisiting and reliving my past). The first time I encountered Billy Bragg was as part of the Red Wedge Tour, a left-wing conglomeration of bands that travelled around the country in the 1980s. Billy Bragg, along with Paul Weller, was one of the instigators of the movement in reaction to Margaret Thatcher and the Tory values of the time. I have never been greatly political, but was interested in seeing the bands which included the aforementioned Bragg, Paul Weller with Style Council, the Communards and one or two others. The big surprise of the night was an unannounced appearance by the Smiths who blew the place apart and, according to Johnny Marr, this was their best live performance ever. So thanks to Billy for bringing the Smiths along that evening. It was the last time I was to see that magnificent band.

I saw Billy Bragg once more, headlining at Newcastle City Hall, and remember enjoying the concert. My memories of him otherwise are few and lost over the years. So when I saw he was coming to the Sage I suggested to the kids (who are both grown-up and too old to be called kids anymore) that we go along. They both agreed so we purchased tickets. But to be honest I was BILLY 1going more out of interest, and for my two children, rather than as a true fan. For two very different reasons, on the evening, the aforementioned kids were unable to come along so I decided to go, with my carer Jackie, to experience Billy “on my own”(although I am never totally on my own, as like the naughty child I am, I’m not allowed out by myself).

It’s strange how things turn out and how you can enjoy events that you are unsure about. The show was in two segments with a short interval. Billy Bragg was on great form, mixing new songs with old and, as he always did, talking a lot. This was the first night of the tour and also Billy’s first night on stage since the lockdown. The tour had been postponed for one year, as many others have been. Billy explained how he had spent the lockdown year writing a new album and reflecting on things.

“It was always my intention to record a new album in 2021. I’d planned to spend most of 2020 on the road, where I could crank out ideas for new songs in soundchecks and maybe even try a few in the live set. Things didn’t quite work out that way, of course. In the past, it has been purely personal issues that have kept me off the road and I’ve sought to come to terms with those events by writing songs that draw the listener’s attention to my individual experience….. The Million Things That Never Happened isn’t about the pandemic per se, but the highs and lows of what we’ve been through provide the backdrop for the album, as they have done for all our lives over these past two years.” (Billy Bragg official site)

BILLY 3He treated us to many songs from the new album which are more about his reflections on life than his normal political songs. He also talked a lot about his experience of the pandemic and how it has given him time to focus on recording and reading books. Like me he admitted to buying many books, reading a quote or two, and then storing them away. He alluded to his acoustic Gibson guitar smelling of old books and how wonderful that smell was; a sentiment which I wholly agree with. He looked very dapper with a new hairstyle and in smart jeans (something which I still possess but can never wear). He was accompanied by a keyboard player who kept him in check about the tuning of his guitars.

In many ways Bragg reminds me of a modern day Roy Harper, or even Pete Seeger. Like Roy or the late Seeger, he is left-wing and tell stories along with singing songs. I like artists who talk to the audience and give us something of themselves. It makes them more interesting, more authentic and more “real”. So I enjoyed my latest Billy Bragg experience, much more than I expected. I also ran into an old friend who came to see me during the interval. We used to work together some 20 or so years ago; it was great to connect again and we promised to keep in touch. I also treated myself to a couple of gin and tonics, which adds to the evening.

The annoying thing about having to book taxis is that I have to give then a time to collect me. Based on the published stage timings, which to be fair are always stated as approximate, I had booked the taxi quite early and Billy Bragg was still playing as we left. Never mind, I enjoyed the evening, which was one of re-connections: meeting an old friend again and reconnecting with Billy Bragg and his music. 

BILLY BOOKI also treated myself (and my friend John) to a copy of Billy Bragg’s book “The Three Dimensions of Freedom”, as there was no programme on sale: “At a time when opinion trumps facts and truth is treated as nothing more than another perspective, free speech has become a battleground. While authoritarians and algorithms threaten democracy, we argue over who has the right to speak. To protect ourselves from encroaching tyranny, we must look beyond this one-dimensional notion of what it means to be free and, by reconnecting liberty to equality and accountability, restore the individual agency engendered by the three dimensions of freedom.”

Many thanks to Jackie for accompanying me, taking the photographs, and making sure I don’t misbehave too much and drink too many gin and tonics, and to Chris for coming along later and helping me into bed.

Bob Dylan Shadow Kingdom stream event 18 July 2021

DYLAN 0So this was another streaming event, this time by our old friend and troubadour Bob Dylan. I expected the event to be live, but it was clearly pre-recorded. However, this was not a disappointment and did not detract from the enjoyment of the concert, rather the pre-recorded setting of the event enabled a greater depth and atmosphere than would have been possible had it been a live performance. The streaming started late on Sunday night UK time and although I was really looking forward to it, I have to admit to wimping out and watching it the next morning.

Now I have seen Bob Dylan many times over the years, and in recent times his performances have sometimes been patchy. Don’t get me wrong, I have enjoyed each time I saw him in concert, but on occasion his voice was not so strong and I know many other people left disappointed. But this time was something very different.

DYLAN 3Picture the scene. A smoky bar somewhere in Marseille, Dylan surrounded by his musicians including guitars and double bass and performing in front of a small audience. Everyone in the audience was smoking very heavily (and it looked like genuine smoke, but I suspect it wasn’t, and I also suspect that they weren’t really sitting directly in front of Dylan). However the effect was great and looked genuine. Dylan was dressed well, sometimes there was a change of suit or jacket; sometimes he would be playing guitar or mouth harp, sometimes simply standing singing. Sometimes he would be centre stage, and for other songs he would be to the left. The credits told us that the bar was in Marseille, but this was actually fictitious. I’m sure that it was all recorded within studios in America; but nonetheless, as I have said earlier, the effect was authentic and absolutely excellent.

Dylan performed a selection of some of his older songs from the 1960s and 1970s, some better known than others. I must admit, to my shame, that there were several that I did not recognise. This, however, did not spoil my enjoyment of the performance. The show was billed as Dylan “revisiting” some of his old classic songs. And revisit them he did indeed.

DYLAN 2This was Bob Dylan, in my view, reborn. No more strange vocalising, no more “up singing”; this was Dylan with a strong, deep, emotional voice that in many ways returned to the form he was on in the late 1970s when I first saw him. This was Dylan performing, no more standing still, he would make small mannerisms with his hands; pointing and moving to emphasise the lyrics. When he sang classics (particularly the ones I recognised) such as “Forever Young” and “I’ll be your Baby Tonight” his voice was deep, twisting and turning and emotional. This took me back to the Dylan I saw in Blackbushe Aerodrome in 1978. Tremendous. I had tears in my eyes. The old Bob has returned, singing to us from his heart and his soul in a way that he has not achieved, in my view, for many years. You have to see it to understand. He really was that good, in my view.

DYLAN 1Dylan, at 80, remains a unique and indescribable presence in modern music. Long may the troubadour continue to sing to us and let’s hope the never-ending tour will soon resume so that we can witness the legend perform for us again. 

Set List: When I Paint My Masterpiece; Most Likely You Go Your Way And I’ll Go Mine; Queen Jane; Approximately; I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight; Just like Tom Thumb’s Blues; Tombstone Blues; To Be Alone With You; What Was It You Wanted; Forever Young; Pledging My Time; The Wicked Messenger; Watching the River Flow; It’s All over Now, Baby Blue.

Ian Anderson / Jethro Tull Newcastle City Hall 5 April 2018

“The train it won’t stop going
No way to slow down” (Locomotive Breath, Jethro Tull, 1971)

tull 50th tixThe sixth formers would carry LPs under their arms to school. They played them in a little room upstairs in the dining hall at lunchtime. Sometimes, if I was lucky, they allowed me upstairs to their elite “Record Club” to listen to their new, magical, psychedelic sounds. The records they carried were badges of honour and included Frank Zappa’s Hot Rats, the Crazy World of Arthur Brown album, Cream’s Wheels of Fire, Tyrannosaurus Rex’s My People Were Fair and Had Sky in Their Hair, But Now They’re Content to Wear Stars on Their Brows, and Jethro Tull’s This Was. This Was included a mix of blues, rock and strange flute playing. A year or two later, I am sitting in my mate’s house and we are playing Jethro Tull’s second album Stand Up, with it’s great sleeve which opened out to a set of pop-ups of the band. How cool we felt. Then, in 1971, we all went to see Jethro Tull at Sunderland Empire. Happy days and magical memories. The die was cast. We were all Jethro Tull fans for life.

Roll-on 50 years. Only Ian Anderson remains from that original band and he is touring as Ian Anderson plays Jethro Tull, The 50th Anniversary Tour. Wonderful. What’s not to like. Why not go along and reminisce with old friends, listen to some old sounds, because let’s face it, we all like “Living in the Past”.

The current lineup of “Jethro Tull” is Ian Anderson – vocals, flute, acoustic guitar; David Goodier – bass; John O’Hara – keyboards, accordion, vocals; Scott Hammond – drums; and Florian Opahle – electric and acoustic guitars.

tull 50th progSure, Ian’s voice is not what it was and the old coat is gone, but the flute playing seems great and the songs remain as soulful, passionate, poignant and intriguing as ever. So we start at the very beginning (a very good place to start) with “My Sunday Feeling”; Track 1 Side 1 of This Was. This is followed by their first minor chart hit “Love Story”, followed by “A Song for Jeffrey” which is well known to all of us from the cheap compilation album You Can All Join In. Pure magic. The years disappear and the old songs flow over us all. These are followed by other classics from the first couple of albums. My favourites are the aforementioned “Living in the Past”, the magical flute solo which is “Bouree” and the spooky, almost scary “Witches Promise” bringing back memories of Ian’s wide-eyed madness on Top of the Pops (and didn’t our parents disapprove of him!). Set 1 closes with “Cross Eyed Mary”.

After a short interval Ian and the band return to treat us to excerpts from Thick As a Brick and A Passion Play. Then we have a run through the 70s albums moving into more more folk rock territory including “Songs from the Wood” and the Christmas song “Ring out, Solstice Bells”. Set 2 closes with a tale of that seedy tramp “Aqualung”. The encore is, as usual these days, “Locomotive Breath”. And then it is over. We quickly chat with old friends again and then go our separate ways. Until next time. Of course it will never be the same, but Ian Anderson did the Tull legacy proud, and gave us all a night to remember. Happy days.

Setlist. Set 1: My Sunday Feeling; Love Story; A Song for Jeffrey; Some Day the Sun Won’t Shine for You; Dharma for One; Living in the Past; A New Day Yesterday; Bourrée in E minor (Johann Sebastian Bach); With You There to Help Me / The Witch’s Promise; My God; Cross-Eyed Mary. Set 2: Thick as a Brick (excerpt); A Passion Play (excerpt); Too Old to Rock ‘n’ Roll, Too Young to Die; Songs From the Wood; Ring Out, Solstice Bells; Heavy Horses; Farm on the Freeway; Aqualung. Encore: Locomotive Breath

Roy Harper Sage Gateshead 20 March 2019

roy 1969And O how the sea she roars with laughter
And howls with the dancing wind
To see my stupid poetry burbling” (McGoohan’s Blues, Roy Harper, 1969)

The first time I saw Roy Harper in concert was in 1969. I was 12 years old and Roy was 27. Roy was just about to release Folkjokeopus his third album. The album is notable for the lengthy track “McGoohan’s Blues”, which Harper states was “inspired by actor Patrick McGoohan’s depiction of the establishment rebel in his TV series, The Prisoner“.

Here I am 50 years later seeing Roy once more. Roy is a sprightly 77-year-old and I am 62 years old.

The advertisement for the Sage concert stated: “Renowned folk singer-songwriter Roy Harper is celebrating 50 years of classic tracks including the famed epic ‘McGoohan’s Blues’. In 2013 his album Man & Myth was lauded by press across the UK. Uncut said “Harper’s first album in 13 years is a magnificent, ambitious rejuvenation.” Harper will joined by Bill Shanley and an ensemble of musicians.

HARPER TIXOn why he has decided to tour again, Harper said: “Partly because many of the things I wrote about in McGoohan’s Blues in 1968 are still very relevant 50 years later, and partly because my third record was a watershed moment in my recording life, it’s been long in my mind that I should dust it off and bring it on tour again.”

The concert was in two sets and drew from throughout Roy’s extensive back catalogue. Roy was on good form, chatting with the audience as usual; although he didn’t get quite as much banter (or heckling) in response as he usually does. His voice remains strong and soulful and his passion and commitment is as undiminished as ever. Roy was accompanied by a small string section which gave an added texture to the songs.

So we were treated to some of my favourite Harper songs such as “Don’t You Grieve”, the classic “Another Day” and “Highway Blues”. Roy closed the set with “When an Old Cricketer Leaves the Crease”. The encore was a more recent song “I Loved My Life”. It was great to see Roy again, still touring and still a delight. I would love to have heard him Roy-Harpersing “I Hate the White Man” but, hey, you can’t always get what you want. Jackie my carer is now a Roy Harper convert, which is great. Me, I had a lovely evening, spent with an old friend.

Setlist. Set 1: Hors d’oeuvres; Time Is Temporary; Don’t You Grieve; Man In the Glass Cage; McGoohan’s Blues. Set 2: Another Day; Drawn to the Flames; The Wolf at the Door; Highway Blues; Hallucinating Light; When an Old Cricketer Leaves the Crease. Encore: I Loved My Life

The Shining Levels Darlington Library 22nd November 2019

From the original blurb on the excellent site Tracks Darlington

HARK! The sound of stories. An evening of music inspired by tales from times past. Historical. Mythological. Folkological. Fill your ears and your souls with songs of stagmen, golden apples, coiners, diamond rings and murder for love. History is darker than you think.

THE SHINING LEVELS: Presenting music inspired by the award winning novel The Gallows Pole by Ben Myers. Haunting harmonies and beautiful folk fusion, interspersed with readings from the book. Written on the edge of the Northern English moors and using rural folk musicians, loops and electronics, their debut album is a heady brew of gritty landscape hymns, ethereal acid-folk, borderlands ballads, 70s folk horror atmospherics, moor-top drones and much, much more.”

hark tixA taxi from Sunderland to Darlington (return) is expensive. But, what the hell, my lovely daughter Laura was singing in the band The Shining Levels at Darlington Library. Well I had to go, didn’t I? So my kindly Station Taxis driver drove me, along with my carer Jackie, waited for me, and then drove me back home afterwards.

“The Shining Levels are a brand new music collective based in Durham and Northumberland, who record on the edge of the Northern English Moors and seek inspiration from books. Their new album, Music Inspired By The Novel The Gallows Pole (a novel written by Durham-born author Benjamin Myers) uses rural folk musicians, loops and electronics, takes influence from the likes of Pentangle, Sandy Denny, Tom Waits alongside a love of ambient music, hip-hop production and musical obscurities. The result is music that is as exquisite as it is interesting.” Narc The Shining Levels are Davy J (vocals, guitar and piano), DW Coggins (vocals and guitar), Laura Smith (vocals and loop pedals), Christina Cuthbertson (vocals and flute) and Jenny Clewes (vocals and violin).laura shinning levels

Jackie and I arrived at Darlington library, entered a lift which took us from the street into the library itself, where the performance took place surrounded by shelves of books; quite a strange and unique, yet very appropriate, setting for an evening of book readings and folk roots world music, some of which was inspired by a book (namely the Gallows Pole).

We were seated at the side of stage with a great view of the performance. The evening started with some book readings, followed by the exquisite Storm Chorus, a duo from the edge of the North Yorks moors whose music is a haunting mix of folk and Goth. Then the Shining Levels took the stage and delivered a set of songs, written by Davy and Dan, which draw from the book the Gallows Pole, laura black n whiteand transfixed the audience in their haunting, swirling mix of sounds. The eclectic combination of folk music, book readings and mix of flute, violin, a female trio of vocals and male vocals has to be experienced to understand just how beautiful, yet at the same time dark and powerful, their sounds can be. Live in London Of course I am biased, being the very proud father of Laura, but the review above also demonstrates just how haunting a combination it is. Jackie and I are both getting to know the songs and the music and each time we experience it we notice new nuances and textures. The performance was over far too soon and then we were off downstairs in the lift, after a quick word to congratulate Laura and the others, and into our waiting taxi. Soon we were back home, having picked up Chris, who helped me back into my bed, the music still swirling around in my head.

 

Donovan Tyne Theatre Newcastle 8th October 2015

Donovan Tyne Theatre Newcastle 8th October 2015
FullSizeRenderDonovan is out on the road again, working his way down the country on a 22 date 50th anniversary tour. He started in his home town of Glasgow, worked his way through Edinburgh and Dundee and then stepped over the border to come and play to us in Newcastle. From there he continues to Scarborough, Leeds and onward further south.
Now, Donovan is a bit of a story-teller and he is also a bit of a name-dropper. If you have ever been to one of his concerts you will know exactly what I mean. You are guaranteed to hear stories of the ’60s and of all the friends he made. At the Tyne Theatre Donovan tells us of his folk influences Buffy St Marie and Shawn Phillips as way of introduction to their songs “Universal Soldier” and “The Little Tin Soldier”. He mentions, of course, The Beatles and how George Harrison contributed a verse to “Hurdy Gurdy Man” and asks “Would you like to hear George’s verse?” to which we reply a rousing “YES”! He talks of his old friend and fellow traveler Gypsy Dave; and how they would have to run from crowds of screaming girls, comparing the scene to that of the Beatles running through the station at the start of “Hard Day’s Night”. Gypsy asked Donovan “Why are we running? Let’s stop and let them catch us!”. And he tells us of his muse and wife Linda, the subject of many of his songs; one of which “Madrigalinda” he sang for us. Linda and all the “Donovan clan” came to the Glasgow concert, “flying from every corner of the world” he declared proudly.
Donovan-Donovan's_Greatest_HitsDonovan sat alone cross-legged on a carpet laid across a raised platform, as he must have done many times over the years. He told us that we would “never be more than two or three songs away from a hit” and he was true to his word. He started the show with “Catch the Wind” and then went straight into “Colours”, many singing along with him. The mood then moved from “The Voice of Protest” from his 1975 7-Tease album to “Sleep” a lullaby from “Cosmic Wheels”. Then he took us back to 1965 and one of my favourites “The Little Tin Soldier” the “Fairytale” album. “Jennifer Juniper” was followed by the title track from 1976’s “Slow Down World”. Donovan then told a story of how “we all went to Jamaica” for a rest and a holiday during the ’60s and he came back with a new song “First There is a Mountain”. The first half of the concert closed with two old songs “To Try for the Sun” from “Fairytale” and “Donna Donna” from his first 1964 album “What’s Bin Did and What’s Bin Hid”.
After a short interval Donovan returned and sang “Universal Soldier” which sounds just as powerful today as it ever did. This was followed by the beautiful traditional folk song “The Trees they do Grow High”, “Madrigalinda” for Linda and the excellent “Hurdy Gurdy Man”. “Hurdy Gurdy Man” took me right back; I used to have the EP of the same name, and I played it endlessly. FullSizeRender(1)As introduction to “The Promise” Donovan told us of his lovely green guitar,”Kelly”, which was designed for him using the colours of the Book of Kells. This led into a story of how he once visited Jimmy Page’s house, and how Jimmy had 300 guitars all lying across the floor in their cases, all in tune because, as Jimmy told Donovan, “You never know when you might need to play one”. “The Promise”, said Donovan, is to be played by “Kelly”, always live, and will never be recorded. The ballad “Lalena” led into the jokey fun “Intergalactic Laxative” from “Cosmic Wheels”. Then came the inevitable singalong of “Happiness Runs” with the men singing “Tralala…”, the women singing “Happiness Runs”, and Donovan singing the verse of top; all a bit too embarrassing for me. I didn’t join in (sorry Donovan). “Sunshine Superman” took us safely back to the hits. Now it I thought “Happiness Runs” was embarrassing, the final song took the meaning of the word embarrassment to whole new level. For “Mellow Yellow” Donovan finally took to his feet, and mimed and danced awkwardly to a recording of the original track. Still, you have to forgive him. It was great to see Donovan again. He has a tremendous back catalogue of tunes, and his stories are always fun (even if I have heard most of them before).
Set 1: Catch the Wind; Colours; The Voice of Protest; Sleep; The Little Tin Soldier; Jennifer Juniper; Slow Down World; First There is a Mountain; Try for the Sun; Donna Donna
Interval
Set 2: Universal Soldier; The Trees they do Grow High; Madrigalinda; Hurdy Gurdy Man; The Promise; Lalena; Intergalactic Laxative; Happiness Runs; Sunshine Superman; Mellow Yellow

Backhouse Park concerts Sunderland Summer 1974 Jack the Lad, Brinsley Schwarz & Chilli Willi

Backhouse Park concerts Sunderland Summer 1974
brinsleyFor three Saturdays in Summer 1974 a stage appeared in Sunderland’s Backhouse Park and a series of concerts were held. The park was filled with music from a host of local bands and headliners Jack the Lad, Brinsley Schwarz & Chilli Willi & the Red Hot Peppers. Local heroes Saltgrass played at each event and a grand time was had by all.
13th July 1974 Jack the Lad
When Lindisfarne’s split and main songwriter Alan Hull went off to follow a solo career (and eventually reform Lindisfarne with Ray Jackson) the remaining members: Rod Clements, Si Cowe and Ray Laidlaw formed Jack the Lad with their old friend Billy Mitchell. Jack the Lad followed the folk sound of their former band, and in many ways remained truer to their roots, while the new Lindisfarne went down more of a pop/rock road. Jack the Lad live were great fun with a lot of humour, traditional folk and a set full of jigs, reels, singalongs and dancing which went down well on a sunny afternoon in the park.
27th July 1974 Brinsley Schwarz
Brinsley Schwarz were stalwarts of the pub rock scene. This gig came towards the end of their career, and their line-up was Brinsley Schwarz, Ian Gomm, Billy Rankin, Bob Andrews, Nick Lowe and Carlos Luna. They had just released their sixth and final album “The New Favourites of… Brinsley Schwarz” which featured Nick Lowe’s classic “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding”.
The Brinsleys were heavily influenced by The Band and Eggs Over Easy, had a laid-back country-rock sound, with some catchy poppy songs, and were a great live act, and gave us another great afternoon in the sun. They split in 1975 and Schwarz and Andrews joined Graham Parker & the Rumour; Rankin joined Terraplane, and Nick Lowe joined Dave Edmunds in Rockpile. Lowe of course then went on to have a very successful solo career and “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding” became a hit for Elvis Costello.
3rd August 1974 Chilli Willi and the Red Hot Peppers
The last of the trio of concerts featured Chilli Willi and the Red Hot Peppers, who were one of the main pub rock groups, and were very popular during the early 1970s. They released three albums and toured as part of the 1975 Naughty Rhythms tour with Dr Feelgood and Kokomo. Their members were Phil “Snakefinger” Lithman, Martin Stone, Paul “Dice Man” Bailey, Paul “Bassman” Riley and Pete Thomas. After they split in 1975 Thomas became the drummer for Elvis Costello, Riley played with Graham Parker; and Stone played with the Pink Fairies.

Country Joe McDonald Sunderland Locarno 8th November 1974

Country Joe McDonald Sunderland Locarno 8th November 1974
countryjoeWe’d all seen him in the Woodstock film:
“Listen people, I don’t know how you expect to ever stop the war if you can’t sing any better than that. There’s about 300,000 of you f**kers out there. I want you to start singing. Come on.”

And then the sing-a-long style bouncing ball followed the lyrics which ran as subtitles along the bottom of the cinema screen.

Well for one night a few years later we had our own little piece of Woodstock in a ballroom in Sunderland.

“Give me an F
Give me a U
Give me a C
Give me a K
Whats that spell? Whats that spell? Whats that spell?
Whats that spell? Whats that spell?”

“And it’s 1, 2, 3, what’re we fighting for?
Don’t ask me, I don’t give a damn
Next stop is Vietnam
And it’s 5, 6, 7, Open up the Pearly Gates
Well there ain’t no time to wonder why
Whoopee! We’re all gonna die.”
(I Feel Like I’m Fixing to Die Rag, Country Joe and the Fish, 1967).

This tour was at the time of his self-titled solo lp (pictured here), so I guess we were treated to tracks from that album, along with old favourites like “Janis” and of course he just had to  lead us all in the “Fish Cheer” and sing “I Feel Like I’m Fixing to Die Rag”. We all sang along.
Don’t think we stopped any war, but we sure had a good time 🙂

The Waterboys Newcastle Tiffany’s 30th April 1986

The Waterboys Newcastle Tiffany’s 30th April 1986
waterboystixMike Scott and his Waterboys were on a rock’n’roll journey from “The Big Music” to the raggle taggle gypsy Celtic folk band that they became in the late 80s. This was Mike and the band at the top of their game, not long after the success of “Whole of the Moon”, yet choosing not to play that song and instead sweeping a ram-packed Tiffany’s along with joyous big swirling sounds, and a few carefully chosen covers. “The Big Music” filled the ballroom; I was standing on the balcony looking down onto the stage and the packed sweaty dance floor below, and it felt like any minute the roof would come off. Mike was one minute the rock star, the next a folk troubadour, and then he became a seer taking us all on a spiritual journey through the kaleidoscope of his music. He was Dylan when he sang “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight” for us, and then Tex Ritter leading a country band into “The Wayward Wind”. And then we were transported to the Streets of Dublin, dancing to a Celtic fiddle band. This was one of those gigs where we all walked out into the cold night knowing we had experienced something pretty special.
Setlist: Medicine Bow; Be My Enemy; Medicine Jack; Fisherman’s Blues; The Thrill Is Gone / And The Healing Has Begun; Meet Me At The Station; A Girl Called Johnny; The Pan Within; I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight; We Will Not Be Lovers; Spirit / The 4 Ages Of Man; Savage Earth Heart; This Is The Sea
Encore: The Wayward Wind; A Pagan Place; Can’t Help Falling In Love; Red Army Blues
Encore 2: Death Is Not the End

Loudon Wainwright III Newcastle City Hall 16th Sep 1979

Loudon Wainwright III Newcastle City Hall 16th Sep 1979
loudontixLoudon Wainwright is a funny guy.
“Loudon Wainwright III is a direct descendant of Peter Stuyvesant, renowned one-legged Dutch Governer of New York. Loudon I was an insurance salesman, Loudon II is a mild mannered reporter for a former great metropolitan magazine. And Loudon III is a “post-psychedelic beatnik” who has been lauded far and wide as a writer-performer of uncommon wit, intelligence and insight, and with a unique capacity for capturing irony and absurdity in his work, that sets him apart from the great majority of similar entertainers” (from Loudon 1979 programme).
I went along to this gig with a group of friends from college. One of the guys, Vaughan, had recently become a big fan of Loudon Wainwright and sand many of his crazy songs to us. He persuaded us all to go along with him to see Loudon when he came to the City Hall (not that I needed much persuading to go along to a concert in those days). The concert wasn’t well attended, but those of there spent an enjoyable evening listening to Loudon’s crazy, funny songs and stories. Loudon was promoting his 8th album “A Live One”, which had been recorded during his 1976 UK tour.
Personal Note (from Loudon 1979 programme): “Loudon Wainwright III is now living in California. He is the father of two children, Rufus and Martha. He has written songs for both of them – “Rufus is a Tit Man” and “Pretty Little Martha”. Loudon is a sports fanatic, and drives a 15 year old blue Checker.”
lourdonprog“Crossin’ the highway late last night, He shoulda looked left and he shoulda looked right,
He didn’t see the Station Wagon car, The skunk got squashed and there you are,
You got yer, Dead skunk in the middle of the road,
Dead skunk in the middle of the road, Dead skunk in the middle of the road,
Stinkin’ to high heaven, Take a whiff on me that ain’t no rose,
Roll up yer window and hold yer nose, You don’t have to look and you don’t have to see,
‘Cause you can feel it in your olfactory.”
(Loudon Wainwright III, Dead Skunk, 1972).
Note 1. “Dead Skunk” was a hit in the US singles chart reaching No 12.
Note 2. The “olfactory” system is the sensory system used for the sense of smell.