Posts Tagged ‘gigs’

Ennio Morricone memorial concert 02 Arena London 28 November 2022

ENNIO PROGA bit of an adventure To see a celebration of the life of the composing genius and legend Ennio Morricone. And a different sort of concert to those that I am used to. The adventure started on the train down to London from Sunderland. All went smoothly, our friendly Grand Central train took us directly from Sunderland to London. Then the real adventure began. My three carers and I had found a Premier Inn with a ceiling hoist which could take me easily from my chair to the bed and even into the bathroom. However it was in Archway, a few stops away from King’s Cross on the Northern line. No problem we thought.

ennio 7Now thinking back, I knew that I had to carefully plan a journey of the tube. Things are very different since I have become disabled. You can only embark upon, and alight from, the tube at certain stations as the gap (“mind the gap please when alighting at the station”) between platform and train is too wide at some stations. Also, not every station has a lift; after all this is a very old, and very efficient, underground travel facility. I knew all this yet I didn’t plan for this journey. Something told me everything would be okay. Big mistake.

ennio 6We manage to get on the tube at King’s Cross and travel along the Northern line to Archway. However when we alight the train, we find there is no lift! We take advice and it seems the best way forward is to return to King’s Cross and get a bus to Archway. So this is what we do. The bus is very efficient, easy to get on, as every London bus has a ramp which comes out magically from the central entrance to the bus. The bus seems to stop at many different locations along the way but we are soon at Archway. We walk to the hotel which is quite close to Archway tube station. By now it is around 6 PM. After some argy-bargy about the hoist which seems to be missing the arm which the sling attaches to, and which involves finding a friendly guy who gets aforementioned arm from another room.

ennio 3I have a short rest and my carers have a short freshen up before it is time to get to the O2. We had telephoned the information line which told us that the concert started at 8:30 PM. So plenty of time (or so we thought). Another mistake. The adventure continues. The very friendly lady on reception tells us that the best way to get to the venue is to use a London taxi cab. We soon learn that all London cabs have now been updated since the last time I was in the capital and have a ramp which enables me to get into the side of the vehicle easily, leaving room for three passengers to sit on the rear seat. The taxi takes us through some very familiar street names including the Holloway Road, Stanley Road and some quite “posh areas” of London town.

Eventually we arrive at the O2. We can’t seem to find our tickets in the “wallet” on my iPhone. Sometimes I hate new technology. Anyway a friendly lady on reception soon finds them and we are in only to find that the concert started at 8 PM. It is now 8:20 PM. And we have missed some of the show. Never mind we have a great view from the wheelchair area of the arena.

ennio lpThe concert is like nothing else I have ever experienced. It is a true multimedia extravaganza with a screen showing segments of classic movies such as the Good, the Bad and The Ugly and The Mission, alongside films I have never heard of such as a Fistful of Dynamite. Familiar images of my hero Clint Eastwood pop up onto the screen as the familiar theme tune from the Good, the Bad and the Ugly is delivered by orchestra, electric band, a choir and soloist. The sound is fantastic and the visuals excellent. The choir, band, orchestra and soloists are all first class. This is a sound very different to the rock bands I am used to. But it is loud, clear and very emotive; particularly when it is accompanying clips from such iconic movies.

The whole experience is wonderful. At various points Ennio Morricone himself appears, speaking in Italian, with subtitles talking about how he developed the compositions. Others such as film directors and actors, notably Jeremy Irons, appear on screen to talk about the genius that was Ennio Morricone. The whole proceedings is directed by and conducted by the great man’s son Andrea. We are taken through film after film, each score bringing new dimensions and emotions. We all agree it is absolutely wonderful and unlike anything we had seen before or are likely to see again. And then it is over.

ennio singleI remember as a young teenager when the Hugo Montenegro version of the soundtrack theme for the Good, the Bad and the Ugly was number 1 in the UK singles chart for many weeks. I bought the single and played and played it again and again. When I finally got to see the movie I was spellbound by Clint Eastwood and how cool “the man with no name” was. I had to wait until I was a little older to see the film as it was, if I recall correctly, X-rated at the time. Even then I managed to get in to see it when I was quite young and felt so excited at seeing such forbidden treasure! It just shows you how times change. The violence of the film warranted, at the time, an adults only rating. Today it would be seen as quite mild compared to some of the violence in modern movies. The haunting theme, guitar and harmonica were simply tremendous.

“It is rare that London’s massive O2 Arena hosts an evening of intimacy. But so it was last month when The Official Concertennio 5 Celebration of the work of Ennio Morricone played for one night to a full house. ….Under the baton of Morricone’s son Andrea, a selection of extracts from just a few of the 500+ scores that the Maestro had penned were played by the Flanders Philharmonic Orchestra, the programme having been largely devised and curated by Morricone himself prior to his sad passing in July 2020.”(From Jonathan Baz reviews site).

ennio 4After a short wait we are back into another taxi and off to the Premier Inn Archway. I am hoisted into bed and decide that I’m hungry. Another big mistake. I wait forever for a pizza delivery which finally comes at 1:30 AM by which time I am falling asleep as my carer tries to feed me cold slices of pizza. I fall asleep. Before I know it is time to get up have a slice of toast and a quick wash and off we go to King’s Cross on the bus. Soon our friendly Grand Central train takes us back up north and the adventure ends. So, a whistlestop tour of London, an excellent, very different, concert and overall an exciting adventure. Happy days.

Setlist: The Strength of the Righteous (The Untouchables); Victorious (The Untouchables);   Deborah’s Theme (Once Upon A Time in America); Poverty (Once Upon A Time in America); Main Theme (Once Upon A Time in America); The Legend of 1900 (The Legend of 1900); Main Theme    (The Sicilian Clan); Main Theme (Metti una Sera a Cena); The Man with the Harmonica (Once Upon A Time in the West); Main Theme (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly); Jill’s Theme (Once Upon A Time in the West); Sean Sean (A Fistful of Dynamite); The Ecstasy of Gold (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly);     Theme for Ennio (With Hauser); The Last Stagecoach goes to Redrock (The Hateful Eight); Chi Mai    (Maddalena); Main Theme (Cinema Paradiso); Love Theme (Cinema Paradiso); Inchini iprociti e disperazione (Malèna); Main Theme (Malèna); The Battle of Algiers (The Battle of Algiers);     Investigation of a Citizen above Suspicion (Investigation of a Citizen above Suspicion); A Brisa do Coraçao (Sostiene Pereira); The Working Class goes to Heaven (The Working Class goes to Heaven)    ;  Abolisson (Queimada); Gabriel’s Oboe (The Mission); Falls (The Mission); On Earth as it is in Heaven     (The Mission); Here’s to You (Sacco and Vanzetti); The Ecstasy of Gold (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly); On Earth as it is in Heaven (The Mission).

Tony Christie Whitley Bay Playhouse 4 June 2022

tony tixNow this is a guilty pleasure. After the wonderful guitar work of Jeff Beck and the excitement of seeing Johnny Depp, two days later I am in Whitley Bay Playhouse to see none other than the great Yorkshire man Tony Christie. I have harboured a secret desire to see Tony for some time and a few weeks ago I finally took the plunge and bought tickets. I was encouraged by my carer Jan who is also a fan and accompanied me to the concert. Tony Christie was on stage sharp at 7:30 PM and played two sets with an interval, finishing at 9:30 PM. An early night for once, which suits me just fine at my age. Talking about age Tony Christie is 79 years old and still looks and sings great. He was accompanied by an excellent band all of whom are great musicians in their own right.

tony1
Tony started the evening with a single written for him by Jarvis Cocker who also comes from Sheffield, Tony’s home town. I didn’t recognise the song but it sounded great. This was followed by his first hit from 1971, “Las Vegas”. He then went on to sing a mixture of ballads including covers of well-known songs by the likes of Frank Sinatra. Tony was very much the smart guy about town wearing a natty three-piece whistle complete with smart tie and top pocket hanky. His voice is strong and he clearly enjoys singing to a crowd. I had in my mind that he would be like a club singer, but he is so much more than that. Tony told us about his many successes including singing in the West End and his worldwide tours. The first set also included Tony’s great smash hit record “I Did What I Did For Maria”. Nuff said. Lots of fun!

tony2During the second set we were treated to more ballads including Sinatra’s “Come Fly with Me”. This time Tony’s suit was even more impressive, glistening, nice and shiny. I would love to wear one like that! We all sang along to “Avenues and Alleyways”, the theme tune from TV show The Protectors. Of course the closing song had to be “Is This the Way to Amarillo?” and we all sang along again. Tony explained that Neil Sedaka had offered him two songs: “Amarillo”and “Solitaire”. Tony’s manager did not like the latter of those two songs and persuaded Tony not to record it. Of course Andy Williams went on to have a worldwide smash with the song. An opportunity missed. Such is life. A great evening with some great songs. Not your classic rock, but lots of fun delivered by a real professional who has entertained crowds around the world for many years and I’m sure will do for many years to come.

Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets Newcastle City Hall 3 May 2022

NICK TIXNick Mason, drummer of Pink Floyd fame, has assembled a band of fine musicians to go out on the road and play a wonderful set of early Pink Floyd classic songs, many from the Syd Barrett era. As soon I heard of this development, I was intrigued and could not resist going to say then when a north-east gig was announced some time ago. The concert had been rearranged, due to Covid, so I was keenly waiting for this event to actually take place.

NICK 2Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets are an English rock band formed in 2018 to perform the early music of Pink Floyd. The band comprises Pink Floyd drummer and co-founder Nick Mason, bassist Guy Pratt, guitarists Gary Kemp and Lee Harris, and keyboardist Dom Beken. As many fans had discovered Pink Floyd with their bestselling 1973 album The Dark Side of the Moon, Mason wanted to bring their earlier material to a wider audience.”(From Wikipedia). Bassist Guy Pratt was a member of a later incarnation of Pink Floyd and Gary Karen was, of course, a founder member of 1980s band Spandau Ballet.

The stage was set out with Nick Mason in the centre (very much the star of the show and the evening), surrounded by his band of musicians. Behind, and around them, was a very appropriate backdrop of psychedelic liquid lens images; setting the scene for an evening of early psychedelic rock. Fantastic. We arrived just in time to experience an amazing version of “One Of These Days”, the opening track of Meddle, and the very same song which I saw Pink Floyd play in the City Hall in early 1972. This was followed by going back in time to the classic Syd Barrett NICK 1song “Arnold Layne”. The band did a great job of recreating the music, ethos and atmosphere of these early classics. Gary Kemp in particular, is to be applauded for his tremendous guitar work and vocals. Indeed, each member of the band is clearly an accomplished musician and together they stunned the crowd with a concert which was authentic to the original Pink Floyd musical textures. The rest of the first set comprised a mixture of songs from early Floyd albums including less well-known tracks such as “Obscured by Clouds” and the wonderful “Remember a Day”. The first half of the show concluded with an uplifting, mesmerising version of “Set the Controls for the Heart of the sun”, complete with drum rhythms and gongs. Another song which I remember Floyd performing at that 1972 concert which now seems eons away in the distant past. The instrumentals were particularly well performed. A short interval followed during which I had time to partake in a pint of Hobgoblin (no Guinness, sadly).

NICK 4The second half opened by taking us right back to the start with classic guitar-based tunes “Interstellar Overdrive” and “Astronomy Domine”, two of my favourite early Pink Floyd tracks. We were then treated to a few less known, at least by me, songs and the second set ended with Barrett’s “Lucifer Sam” and Meddle’s standout track, Pink Floyd favourite, “Echoes”. A very appropriate closer for an excellent selection of songs.

But the crowd wouldn’t let the band leave without the song many of us were waiting to hear. For the first time I was treated to a live version of “See Emily Play”. So many memories bounced around in my head; mainly of loving the tune so much in the early 1970s when it was played constantly at Sunderland Locarno (with everyone running onto the dancefloor, except me, to do crazy handwaving hippy dances). Then more faultless instrumental psychedelic meanderings with “a Saucerful of Secrets” and the final closer Syd Barrett’s quirky, childlike tune “Bike”. David, Elaine and I all agreed it was a great concert.

NICK 5I treated myself to a signed drum skin and a T-shirt (sadly no programme). Many thanks to David for his expert photography and to Elaine and Chris for placing me safely into my bed at the end of a great evening. Thank you Nick for putting together a band worthy of the songs, their leader and the band name. Classic. Happy days.

Setlist: One of These Days; Arnold Layne; Fearless; Obscured by Clouds; Candy and a Currant Bun; Vegetable Man; If; Atom Heart Mother; If (reprise); Remember a Day; Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun.

Interval

Interstellar Overdrive; Astronomy Domine; The Nile Song; Burning Bridges; Childhood’s End; Lucifer Sam; Echoes.

Encore: See Emily Play; A Saucerful of Secrets; Bike

Ducks Deluxe Marquee club London 20 June 1975

ducks marqueeI am now at the point of adding entries to my blog, when I suddenly remember a concert from many years ago that I have yet to write about. This comes about for two reasons. Firstly, I created the blog by working systematically through my tickets and programmes. Secondly, however, this means that I missed concerts along the way if I did not have a ticket or a programme or a strong memory of the gig. So every now and then one pops into my mind. This gig, is one such example. Some of these are already listed briefly in a post entitled “Other Memories”. But now is the time to write about those other memories!

This gig was the night before a group of us went to see Elton John (with strong support from the Beach Boys and Eagles, among others) at Wembley Stadium. I drove down to London early with a friend in my small red MG Midget sports car and we were staying at a friend’s flat in Acton. He had just moved to London and we were keen to go down and see how he was getting on in the big city. He would regularly go to the Marquee Club, which made us very jealous, as it was a legendary venue from the 1960s onward. The image above, courtesy of Picachord via Wikimedia Commons, shows the site of the original club in Wardour Street. 

“The Marquee Club was a music venue first located at 165 Oxford Street in London, when it opened in 1958 with a range of jazz and skiffle acts. Its most famous period was from 1964 to 1988 at 90 Wardour Street in Soho, and it finally closed when at 105 Charing Cross Road in 1996, though the name has been revived unsuccessfully three times in the 21st century. It was always a small and relatively cheap club, located in the heart of the music industry in London’s West End, and used to launch the careers of generations of rock acts. It was a key venue for early performances by bands who were to achieve worldwide fame in the 1960s and remained a venue for young bands in the following decades. It was the location of the first-ever live performance by the Rolling Stones on 12 July 1962.” (Wikipedia, accessed 28 June 2021)

ducks1And so it was that I, and two friends (who shall remain nameless for reasons which will become obvious); one from Sunderland who had come down to London with me, and another who had recently moved to Acton, went along to savour the delights of the Marquee Club and the pub rock band Ducks Deluxe. I had heard of Ducks Deluxe, although I had never seen them before and I had also heard of the developing pub rock scene, which saw new rock, blues and country based bands playing small clubs and pubs across the capital. This was offering a welcome alternative to seeing our heroes and idols in massive arenas, such as Earls Court (where I had recently seen Led Zeppelin) and Wembley Stadium (where I was about to see Elton John, the following day). The pub rock genre took music back to the basics, back into the pubs and clubs, and back to the people.

I was quite surprised how small the Marquee Club was and how ordinary the entrance appeared. It was a small door and frontage in Wardour Street, Soho. Nevertheless, it was exciting to become part of the London scene, even if only, for one night. I was also surprised that the venue was far from packed. We arrived early to catch the support band and waited for Ducks Deluxe to take the stage. 

“One of the first pub rock bands, the Ducks played basic American-style blues and boogie with remarkable panache and thorough disregard for convention. They were hugely popular but their records sales did not compare with their live success. Nevertheless, they had a heavy influence on the English punk scene that was right around the corner before their members went on to found other far more prominent bands like Graham Parker & the Rumour, the Motors and the Tyla Gang.” (Ducks Deluxe site, accessed 28 June 2021)

I recall Ducks Deluxe performance as being a mix of country rock and rock ‘n’ roll, led by the guitarist Martin Belmont, who had been a roadie for Brinsley Schwarz. This was at the time of their second album Taxi To The Terminal Zone. However, I was not to see the full performance by Ducks Deluxe that evening. As the evening progressed, my friend who had come down to London with me, disappeared into the toilets. He was later to reappear, telling us that he was not feeling well and that he had taken a tablet which later, he admitted, was probably some (presumably bad) acid (that is, LSD). He soon became very unwell to the extent that we were concerned enough to call for an ambulance. The ambulance soon arrived and we were taken to a nearby hospital (I don’t recall which one). The doctors soon recognised the problem, and told us not to worry and that he would soon be okay. However, we spent the whole night in the hospital while he shouted for me, asking for help. By the time the morning came he was okay, discharged from hospital, and we made our way back to Acton for a few hours sleep before leaving for Wembley ducks2Stadium and the Elton John concert (a story which I have already blogged on).

And so, that was my introduction to the Marquee Club, pub rock and London nightlife. Quite fun looking back, although quite worrying at the time. Ducks Deluxe were, from what I saw, excellent. This was, in a way, the start of things to come for me. The following year I would see the Sex Pistols for the first time and my eyes would be opened to a new form of rock music, born out of the likes of Ducks Deluxe and the pub rock scene. “Nostalgia for an age yet to come” (Buzzcocks, 1978). Happy days.

Stan Webb and Chicken Shack The Cluny Newcastle 27 April 2018

Stan Webb is the Man! Although best known for their rendition of “I’d Rather Go Blind”, featuring Christine Perfectchicken tix (later McVie of Fleetwood Mac fame), the man behind Chicken Shack was, is, and always has been the great Stan Webb. Stan is, without question, one of the greatest and most underrated guitarists of all time. For me, he stands up there with the UK greats including Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Alvin Lee and Peter Green. His use of tone, dynamics and his dexterity on the fretboard is second to none. Stan understands, and feels, the blues just as much as any of the great old black bluesman. His reinterpretations of classics such as “Thrill Is Gone” and “If I Were a Carpenter” are excellent; he starts off quietly; with long, meandering guitars solos which lead into loud, heavy, introductions to the songs accompanied by Stan’s unique vocals.

Now celebrating over 50 years of Chicken Shack, Stan continues to play and tour and on this evening, graces the Newcastle Cluny with his presence. Entering the Cluny in a wheelchair is pretty straightforward; the staff turn up at the door, expecting me, and place a ramp over the step so I can enter the venue. My carer Jackie and I are then led through a small door at the side of the bar which takes us into the lower part of the concert room, not far from the stage. And with a great view of Stan and Chicken Shack.

Stan treats us to an evening of the blues, with his usual guitar dynamics. Sometimes he will hold his hand to his ear in the style of the old folk singers.

I recall him opening with “Thrill Is Gone”, much to my delight and playing two of my favourites: “Poor Boy” which utilises the aforementioned guitar dynamics, building from a quiet start to a rousing, almost deafening climax and “Daughter of the Hillside”, a Chicken Shack favourite which is also quite loud. We were also treated to a great version of “Nightlife”, the B-side of “I’d Rather Go Blind”. Excellent. The rest of the set comprises a mix of blues classics. Stan closes, as he often does, with the Chicken Shack hit record from 1969 “I’d Rather Go Blind“. Another great evening with a classic rock and blues guitarist.

Set list (something like this!): The Thrill Is Gone; Going Up Going Down; You Shook Me; (You Are) The Sweetest Little Thing; Prisoner; Night Life; Poor Boy; Too Late to Cry; Doctor Brown; Daughter of the Hillside; Encore: I’d Rather Go Blind.

Shining Levels Pop Recs Sunderland 7 June 2019

How could I forget to review this concert? The Shining Levels are a band that features my own daughter, Laura, and who has been performing songs based on the book the Gallows Pole by Benjamin Myers. I saw them several times before the lockdown and this concert was very local, in Sunderland, and only a few streets away. The concert took place at Pop Rex, which some of you will remember as The Bunker, a recording studio and, in its previous location, a venue where I saw anarcho-punk bands such as the Poison Girls and Dirt.

Pop Recs Ltd is an independent record shop, which also has an art gallery, shop, and steaming cups of coffee. Pop Recs Ltd, which is owned by local band Frankie & The Heartstrings, is currently located on Stockton Road. In its time at its previous location on Fawcett Street, Pop Recs Ltd played host to some of the most exciting live music gigs in Sunderland, pretty much every week and more often than not for free. Great bands playing gigs at Pop Recs Ltd have included Badly Drawn Boy, Maximo Park, Edwyn Collins and James Bay.

What can people expect from your show at Pop Recs on Friday 7th June? (NARC, June 4th 2019)
An hour or so of complete musical escapism, we will set the tone for meditation, a musical seance which we can all enjoy together.

And that is exactly what we got, the lovely swirling vocals of the three girls, complete with flute and violin and the earthy, grounded vocals of the two boys. Unfortunately, we arrived late, at least in terms of getting a good space, and I was seated at the back in my wheelchair unable to see much over the heads of the people standing in front of me. But such is life nowadays, nonetheless, I could hear the lovely sounds which filled the room and made their way out into the dark street outside.

“Inspired by the real life events of 18th century Yorkshire criminal gang the Cragg Vale Coiners who operate in the Upper Calder Valley in the Pennines, the album’s source material, The Gallows Pole by author Benjamin Myers, has rapidly become a modern cult classic. It is the first novel to be signed to Jack White’s Third Man Books and will be published in the US/Canada in November 2019. It has also been optioned for film adaptation.

Drawing on a shared childhood and background with the author, The Shining Levels’ music explores themes from the book: an England divided, the potency and mystery of remote rural landscapes, industrial progress, the changing seasons, shifting fortunes, self-delusion and self-aggrandizement, poverty vs wealth, societal power structures – and strange visions of mythical creatures….. the bucolic meet the technological, and the rural collides with the digital to thrilling effect. “There’s certainly a nod towards what many may consider English folk, certainly in Laura’s beautiful plaintive voice,” elaborates Davey [of the band]. “But there’s also pounding drums, overdriven electric guitar, loops, and samples all over the place. So I think to call it folk music would actually be doing it a disservice. It’s a set of quite different songs and moods forming a larger soundscape that hopefully takes the listener on a unique journey.” (Piccadilly Records, 2019)

Another lovely evening with a fantastic band who I look forward to seeing again once we are out of the lockdown. I know that the band is working on new material which I look forward to seeing them perform very soon.

Ian Hunter and the Rant Band Whitley Bay Playhouse 3 July 2017

In Seventy-one all the people come
Bust a few seats but it’s just in fun
Take the Mick out of Top of the Pops
We play better than they do…..

Do you remember the Saturday gigs
We do, we do
Do you remember the Saturday gigs
We do, we do” (Saturday Gigs, Mott the Hoople, 1974)

ian hunter‘Unter is back in town. The guy who has given me so many wonderful memories over the years. The guy who has rock and roll in his blood. Forgive me while I reminisce a little, but seeing Ian Hunter brings so many memories flooding back of so many happy, happy days and nights. I owe this guy so much.

This is the guy who had long curly ginger locks and his iron cross guitar and sang about “Walking with a Mountain” and “Rock ‘n’ Roll Queen” and blew us away with proper rock long before “Dudes” and who I saw at Sunderland Mecca with a young up-and-coming prog band called Genesis as support. Who caused so much mayhem at Newcastle Mayfair that the bouncers brought Alsatian dogs in to control the crowd. This is the guy who brought his Rock ‘n’ Roll Circus to Newcastle City Hall with none other than Max Wall as support. This is the guy who couldn’t make his mind up whether he was Bob Dylan, Little Richard or Jerry Lee Lewis, when actually he was Ian Hunter and that was enough in itself. Who brought us “All the Young Dudes” and the band was reborn.

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

Who sang to me from the stage at the Buxton Festival about “The Golden Age of Rock ‘n’ Roll” complete with grand piano and a candelabra on top at what was to be Mott’s final UK gig (I think), while I stood in the mud and the rain. Who then teamed up with his old mate Ronson for a great single “Once Bitten Twice Shy” and a great concert at the City Hall. This guy then went solo, returned to the Mayfair with a grand piano at the height of punk rock, and had the Vibrators as support. Who reformed Mott the Hoople and gave me a great night at Hammersmith Odeon sat one row behind none other than Mick Jones of the Clash, a big Mott fan. And throughout the years his passion, rock ethos, drive and love for rock remained undiminished. Sorry for my rant, but this guy is one of my heroes (as you may have gathered).

So there I was, with Alan my carer, on the end of a row near the front in my wheelchair at Whitley Bay Playhouse ready to see my hero again. The audience was a mix of ages, ranging from faces I recognise from the Mayfair in the early 70s, through punks, Mott the Hoople fans and people who just like genuine heartfelt rock. And ‘Unter delivered, again. Two hours of great rock ‘n’ roll with a band of class musicians who provide a relentless backdrop for Ian’s vocals. The hair is not quite so ginger or curly, but the voice is as strong as ever. Two songs in and we get the aforementioned “Once Bitten Twice Shy”, a string of Hunter solo songs, now becoming classics themselves, then the opening guitar of “Roll Away the Stone” blows me away as it always has done. He closes with a nudge back to the past and one of his influences Lou Reed with “Sweet Jane”. The encore includes, as it has to and should, “All the Young Dudes” and the final “Good Night Irene” which seems to have become the closer at the moment.

2017-tour-ian hunterAmazing. One of the best times I have seen him. The guy was pushing 80 at the time but still has more energy, passion and drive than many half his age. I bump into Pauline and Rob of Penetration, who are surprised to see me in my wheelchair and I explain my predicament. Another night of memories, to park in the Mott/Ian Hunter collection. Till the next time, Ian. Let’s hope it is soon.

Setlist: That’s When The Trouble Starts; Once Bitten Twice Shy; Fatally Flawed; When I’m President; Saint; The Truth, the Whole Truth, Nuthin’ but the Truth; Morpheus; Just Another Night; Fingers Crossed; All American Alien Boy; Standin’ in My Light; All the Way From Memphis; Ghosts; Roll Away the Stone; I Wish I Was Your Mother; 23A, Swan Hill; Bastard; Sweet Jane. Encore: Dandy; Long Time; Life / All the Young Dudes / Goodnight Irene

Many thanks to Jim Summaria for allowing use of his image of Ian Hunter through Wikimedia Commons.

 

 

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 Rolling Stones, Murrayfield Stadium Edinburgh, June 9, 2018

The Rolling Stones have been an important part of my life for over 50 years. When I was stones tixa kid, maybe 10 or 11, the public house over the road “The Colliery Inn” would sell off the jukebox copies of recent hit singles when they left the charts, or when the locals lost interest in them. My mates and I would regularly go to the side entrance of the bar, where there was a little hatch and ask the barmaid to look at the records. She would bring out a box of 45 rpm singles, each with their centres pushed out for operation in the jukebox. We would, with delight, look through the pile of records including The Rolling Stones, Small Faces, The Who and others. I can still smell the beer that wafted out of the bar; lovely! There were never many Beatles singles; someone must have held on to them. I remember buying copies of “19th Nervous Breakdown”, “Little Red Rooster”, “Have You Seen Your Mother Baby (Standing in the Shadow)” and “Paint It Black”. I had to buy plastic centres for the records in order to play them on my old record player. I would stack up the records and play them again and again; particularly “Paint It Black”. My lifelong obsession with the Rolling Stones began then.

jagger 1A few years later, I was a young teenager sitting in awe in Newcastle City Hall in 1971, watching in disbelief at my hero Mick Jagger. I couldn’t believe that I was actually saying the Rolling Stones, in real life, in front of me! From then on, I have seen the Stones many times; joining 200,000 fans at Knebworth Park in 1976, many shows in football stadiums around the country, and more recently, concerts in London’s plush O2 arena and at the Glastonbury Festival.

Tickets for The Rolling Stones have always been relatively expensive, in comparison to other bands. In recent days they have reached exorbitant rates. The Stones charge up to £1000 for prime seats. However, I decided to buy much more reasonably priced (cheapest) tickets for £100 each, in an upper tier of the stadium at the side of the stage.

stones progBefore my accident, buying tickets was very different, and much easier. I would go to my computer; a few clicks and I had my tickets! Ticket buying is very different now I need a wheelchair space. I need to locate the accessible phone line and phone that number, only to be put into a queue, listening to music until I finally got through to an operator. I am then allocated my spot in the stadium and a free ticket for my carer. Sometimes I could be in the queue for over one hour, hoping to get tickets. This is admittedly much easier than queueing for tickets which I did many times in the 1970s. I once queued 28 hours outside Newcastle City Hall to buy tickets for the Rolling Stones! The logistics of travelling to a major gig have changed since being in a wheelchair. I need to plan ahead carefully. I book an accessible taxi to the train station, accessible seats on the train and two hotel rooms (one disabled room for me, one twin room for my carers). I take two carers with me, for different shifts during the night. Booking the train involves phoning the accessible travel line and then another number to book train tickets. I need to arrive at the station early and look for the friendly guys with a ramp who assist me on to the train.stones crowd

I thought my years of seeing my heroes finished with my accident but no, here I was in Scotland, witnessing a Rolling Stones concert again. We arrived just in time to catch support act Richard Ashcroft play the Verve hits, “The Drugs Don’t Work” and “Bitter Sweet Symphony”. Soon the Stones exploded onto the stage with “Start Me Up” and didn’t let up for two hours. Jagger and Richards are amazing; the energy they display in their advanced years is unbelievable. Ronnie Wood and Keith Richards perform exciting guitar duels and Charlie Watts sits quietly at the back keeping time. The hits kept flowing: “Paint It Black” (still my favourite after all these years), “Let’s Spend the Night Together”, “Honky Tonk Women” and “Under My Thumb”. One surprise is “She’s a Rainbow” from Their Satanic Majesties Request, which had been requested by fans through the Stones website (a great choice and another one of my favourites). They finish with “Jumping Jack Flash” and “Brown Sugar”. The encores were stones ronnie 1“Gimme Shelter “and (of course) “Satisfaction”.

We (myself and my two carers Joanne and Lisa) wandered into the cool Edinburgh streets to hail a taxi. Two hours later, somewhat lost, and panicking as my chair was running out of charge, as were Lisa’s and Joanne’s phone’s! We eventually found a bus which took us back to Princes Street and a short walk to our hotel. A bit of an adventure! But we all enjoyed it.

Setlist: Start Me Up; Let’s Spend the Night Together; It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It); Tumbling Dice; Under My Thumb; Ride ‘Em on Down (Eddie Taylor cover); She’s a Rainbow (by request); You Can’t Always Get What You Want; Paint It Black; Honky Tonk Women; You Got the Silver (Keith on lead vocals); Happy (Keith on lead vocals); Sympathy for the Devil; Miss You; Midnight Rambler; Jumpin’ Jack Flash; Brown Sugar. Encore: Gimme Shelter; (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.

Thanks to Lisa for taking the photographs. 

Sadly, this was the last time I saw the Rolling Stones with the great Charlie Watts on the drum stool. Charlie sadly passed away yesterday 24 August 2021. He was one of the world’s greatest rock drummers; providing a steady, solid beat to the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band in the world. No big showmanship, no long drum solos; just perfect drumming for the perfect rock band. Things will never be the same again. The remaining three stalwarts Mick, Keith and Charlie are now down to two. Charlie you were one of my all-time heroes. RIP Charlie Watts.

Iron Maiden Newcastle Arena 14 May 2017

maiden tix may 2017Well it has been more than 30 years since The Maiden and I touched base. Too long. I have many happy memories of Iron Maiden and early days at Sunderland Locarno and Newcastle City Hall, Paul Di’Anno and early tracks such as “Running Free”, the entrance of Bruce Dickinson (who I had known as Bruce Bruce from Samson), the hit song “Run to the Hills” and, of course, the ever present giant monster Eddie.

This was one of the first concerts after my accident and I was both looking forward to it and also a little nervous about travelling so far in the back of a taxi and sitting through a rock concert. While I need not have been nervous. There was nothing to fear. As soon as Iron Maiden took to the stage I felt “at home”; a kid again; back in the swirling, magical, loud experience that is heavy rock music. Somewhere along the road Iron Maiden have evolved from pioneers of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal to a classic, almost vintage, heavy rock band.

The current members of the band are the ever present leader, original member, and super bass guitar player Steve Harris, long time guitar men Dave Murray and Adrian Smith, drummer Nicko McBrain and local hero Janick Gers on guitar. And of course, Bruce Dickinson on vocals. Iron Maiden have a style of their own; soaring, operatic rock vocals, triple guitar rock with lots of OTT solos, and a super energetic front man in Bruce Dickinson. Oh, and of course, the aforementioned Eddie who always makes an appearance, lumbering around the stage striking fear into all who dare come near him.

maiden progThey enter the stage to the music of UFO’s “Doctor Doctor” (great choice and clearly setting out their influences) and then straight into a set which draws from their entire back catalogue, and heavily from their new album The Book of Souls. There are lots of songs that are new to me, but they all sound great and when they go back to the early days and “Iron Maiden” and the first encore “The Number of the Beast”, I am on familiar territory. I was expecting “Run To the Hills” and they don’t play it, but hey you can’t always have everything. They leave the stage to the music of Monty Python’s “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”, which about sums the evening and the whole experience for me. My carer, Alan, was a Maiden virgin but really enjoyed the whole thing. A great night with a great band. It was like meeting old friends again. I was back on the rock ‘n’ roll rollercoaster; in a wheelchair, but still rocking away. Happy days are here again.

Setlist: Doctor Doctor (UFO song as intro); If Eternity Should Fail; Speed of Light; Wrathchild;    Children of the Damned; Death or Glory; The Red and the Black; The Trooper; Powerslave; The Great Unknown; The Book of Souls; Fear of the Dark; Iron Maiden. Encore: The Number of the Beast; Blood Brothers; Wasted Years. (Always Look on the Bright Side of Life: Monty Python)