Posts Tagged ‘gig’

Yes Newcastle City Hall 26 June 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

yes3Setlist:

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

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

Encore: Roundabout; Starship Trooper.

The Rolling Stones Anfield Liverpool 9 June 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jeff Beck Sage Gateshead 2 June 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Whitesnake, Foreigner and Europe Newcastle Utilita Arena 14 May 2022

white tixTo my shame, I arrived late and missed. I have never seen them and “Final Countdown” is a great rock song and one of my daughter Ashleigh’s favourite songs. She told me off later for missing their set. My carer Jan and I arrived just in time to buy a couple of programmes and take our seats as had just started their set. This was not your regular “support act”. Foreigner are, of course, a massively successful band and worthy of headliner status themselves. Therefore they played a full length set comprising major hits including “Cold As Ice” and closer singalong “I Want to Know What Love Is”. It is a long time since I have seen Foreigner, the last time being as support act for Led Zeppelin at their reunion concert in the O2 London. Before that I think it was at the Reading Festival in the late 1970s when they were just breaking through as a major act. I had forgotten just how great they are, how many classic rock songs they have produced and I must say I was incredibly impressed by them; their songs, the performance and the musicianship. The band’s lineup has changed many times over the years and now comprises only one original member, Mick Jones who hails from the UK. Mick was originally a member of Spooky Tooth, a 1960s progressive rock band, before he left for America, wrote a bunch of great songs and formed Foreigner to perform them, along with ex-King Crimson member Ian Macdonald (who left the band a long time ago).

white 1The rest of the members of the band are all American, hence the name Foreigner (the band being UK/American and thus “foreign” in both countries!) I was looking around the stage, wondering where Mick Jones was. He came on to join the rest of the band for the last three songs playing guitar and keyboards. I am not sure if he is unwell, but he looked great and it was wonderful to see him again with the rest of his band. By the way, this takes me back to my long-time question “when is a band not a band?” Before Mick Jones joined the band on stage the Foreigner performing in front of us had no original members. However this did not detract from their performance. Many of the crowd may not have realised or even cared. To summarise, Foreigner were excellent and the 10,000 capacity crowd were really hyped up for the final act and headliner, Whitesnake.

David Coverdale, Whitesnake and I go back a long way since I first saw him fronting Deep Purple as their new vocalist on the Burn tour at Newcastle Odeon in 1974. I remember being very nervous and curious, wondering how anyone could replace Ian Gillan as lead vocalist. I need not have worried. David Coverdale came onstage and blew us away with his tremendous presence and powerful vocals on now classics such as title track “Burn” and my personal favourite “Mistreated “. I then saw him in an early band at Redcar Coatham Bowl (Coverdalewhite prog comes from Saltburn in the Middlesbrough area) and in various incarnations of Whitesnake at Newcastle City Hall, Reading Rock Festival and Donington Monsters of Rock. Throughout the years the line-up of Whitesnake has changed, starting off with a UK lineup featuring former Deep Purple members Jon Lord and Ian Paice, alongside guitarists Mickey Moody and Bernie Marsden. Coverdale then went to the USA and surrounded himself with a new American band. Worldwide fame followed! Throughout these times David Coverdale has continued to front the band taking the lead with tremendous soaring, screaming, screeching, excellent vocals.

white 4Coverdale was on excellent form, taking total command of the audience who sang along with him and followed his every move, as he threw the mic stand up in the air and led his band through classic tracks including my favourites “Ain’t No Love In the Heart of the City”, “Fool For Your Loving” and “Here I Go Again”. I was hoping he would sing “Mistreated” but instead Whitesnake closed with an incendiary version of the Purple classic “Burn”. Just as good. Coverdale’s voice was as powerful and strong as ever. Amazing. Jan and I both agreed it had been a fantastic concert.

white5One final Whitesnake memory. Coverdale and his band headlined the final, Sunday night of the Reading Festival in 1980. My friend Davey and I returned to our tents. “I’m sure my tent was here” I said to Davey. I walked round and round and sure enough there was an empty space where my tent had been. Someone had stolen my tent! I crawled into Davey’s small tent where we both lay squashed for the evening. Happy days.

Whitesnake Setlist: Bad Boys; Slide It In; Love Ain’t No Stranger; Hey You (You Make Me Rock); Slow an’ Easy; Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City; Fool for Your Loving; Crying in the Rain; Is This Love; Give Me All Your Love; Here I Go Again; Still of the Night; Burn

Gary Numan Newcastle City Hall 11 May 2022

nu tixThis was a return to experiencing Gary Numan in a couple of ways. The last time I was at a Gary Numan concert was in 1981 at Wembley Empire pool (now Wembley Arena) for his farewell concert. This was a fantastic end to a short career which started with his massive initial breakthrough hit “Are Friends Electric?” Numan was something completely new and different set against the background of punk and new wave in the late 1970s. I was lucky enough to see his first tour at Newcastle City Hall, followed by the “cars” tour at the same venue. Then he decided to retire and I made the pilgrimage to Wembley for his final show. Happy happy memories.

numan 6The second return to experiencing Gary Numan was for my sister-in-law Elaine. My late wife and I took Elaine as a youngster, to see Numan on that wonderful first tour where a robotic Gary mesmerised us with his new blend of electronica, rock and pop music. Flanked by robot figures and a wonderful light show with music unlike anything we had heard before it was a great introduction to the world of Gary Numan. Elaine, then a teenage girl, just loved it. So this was her first outing to see Gary Numan since that experience of his initial tour.

numan 4Now I had seen that Gary had been touring again for some years now and kept meaning to go along and see him. His return to the City Hall, where we saw those early shows, was just too much to resist. And Elaine was looking forward to see what the new Gary would be like. I also was intrigued to experience Gary Numan again. So, lots of memories of great shows from a long time ago. Time, the lives of myself and Elaine, and Gary, have moved on. What would the show be like?

numan 7First up was support act French band Divine Shade. They were an electronic/heavy bass band clearly influenced by Gary Numan. Think a heavy Gary Numan/dark Depeche Mode/LOUD. They were really loud and we were down the front next to the speakers. We could feel the vibration running through us; just like old times and the first time I saw Black Sabbath when Geezer Butler’s bass hit me in my stomach. Excellent! A great start to the show. They clearly enjoyed it also. From their Facebook page: “Thank you Newcastle ! It was great ! Cool fact from the nice security gard, our little dressing room was the Beatles favorite one.” Now there is a fact I didn’t know!

numan 3I wasn’t sure what to expect from Gary Numan this time around. To say he didn’t disappoint would be an understatement. He was fantastic from the very start, keeping the pace up right until the end. The set was a mixture of old and new. I was delighted that the second song was my old favourite “Me! I Disconnect from You” the lyrics of which now take on a new meaning in light of the fact that Gary has publicly mentioned his shyness. It brought back memories of that Wembley show over 40 years ago when I remember it as a standout song. Gary is very much the front man now, revealing more of himself to us, much darker, dressed all in black with red stripes running down his face. His music is louder, rockier and darker. He is flanked by a bass player and a guitarist each with shaven heads, wearing black skirts and large black boots. Quite menacing, dark and Gothic.

numan 1I hadn’t realised just how much Gary Numan’s music had changed over the years. I was clearly out of touch. He has stripped things down to the basics and produced a much darker, heavier sound. In front of us was a new, louder, more intense front man than the young boy Elaine and I experienced all those years ago. The old songs were given a much heavier treatment and included some of my favourites such as “Down in the Park”, “Cars” and closer “I Die, You Die”. Throughout the show Gary stood on stage sometimes pulling back on the mic stand, going down on his knees and then throwing his arms up in the air. Very much the show man. The crowd loved it and gave him one of the warmest receptions I have seen for a long time. Fabulous.

He returned for two encores, the last of which was “Are Friends Electric?” Elaine, Jackie my carer and I really enjoyed it. Elaine said it was a better show than the first time and I didn’t disagree.

Setlist: Intruder; Me! I Disconnect From You; Halo; The Gift; Metal; Ghost Nation; Is This World Not Enough; Films; Pure; Resurrection; Down in the Park; And It Breaks Me Again; Dead Sun Rising; Cars; My Name Is Ruin; Love Hurt Bleed; The Chosen; I Die: You Die;

Encore: Remind Me to Smile; Are ‘Friends’ Electric?

John Cooper Clarke Sage Gateshead 30 April 2022

COOPER TIXWent to see an old friend the other night. John Cooper Clarke. He of punkish poetry and 1970s Manchester fame. Laura and Dale came too. Have had the pleasure of his company many times. Since the late 1970s. Cool he was then. And now. The MC for the evening was a Cockney guy. He was clearly of the punk ilk; very coolish too. The support act was another poet. Mike Garry. From the Manchester area. Long hairish, also quite punkish. Recited from his book. Does readings in schools, prisons, with communities and internationally. Clever use of voice and rhythm. Cool guy. Strange to see the Sage stage with only a mic stand in the centre. No gear. Very minimalist. Soon a short interval came upon us. Time for a pint of Newcastle Brown. Brown dog.

COOPER 2“John Cooper Clarke, also known as the Bard of Salford, is a phenomenon: Poet Laureate of Punk, rock star, fashion icon, TV and radio presenter, social and cultural commentator – he’s one of Britain’s most beloved and influential writers and performers.” (From the man’s website).

Then our man cometh. Joined the pleasantly full hall. Full of devotees. And cool he was. As ever. Cool hair. Cool cap. Cool black jeans. Cool jacket. Matched cap. Coolest of all: winklepicker, Cuban heel, Chelsea boots. Like mine. Mine don’t fit me anymore. Sad. Lots of poetry filled the hall. Very funny. Quick pace. Fast rhythm. Almost rap. Manchester twang. Carer Jan laughed a lot. Crowd knew and loved him. Hung on to every word. Very clever words. Read a lot from new book. Finished with some familiar ones: “Beasley Street”; “Evidently Chickentown” (lots of swearing: excellent); “T**t”. Great show Dr John. Thank you for your words. Thank you for your company. Thank you for your wisdom. Through your words we see you and understand you.COOPER CLARKE 1

Thanks to Jan: photographer for the evening. Thanks to Chris: put to bedder for the evening. Poetry rhythm resounding through my head.

Setlist (something along these lines): Hire Car; Get Back On Drugs You Fat F***; The Luckiest Guy Alive; Bedblocker Blues; She’s got a metal plate in her head; Beasley Street; Beasley Boulevard; Pies; I’ve Fallen In Love With My Wife; Evidently Chickentown.

Encore: Tw**; I Wanna Be Yours

Robert Plant and Saving Grace Middlesbrough Town Hall 25 April 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Lindisfarne Story Gala Theatre Durham 23 April 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

Van Morrison Sage Gateshead 24 March 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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