Posts Tagged ‘music’

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.

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.

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?

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

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.

The Animals and Friends Whitley Bay Playhouse 12 March 2022

animals 4So my question for today is: When Is a Band No Longer a Band? In the case of The Animals and Friends, the only original member is long-standing drummer, John Steel, who at the age of 81 has assembled a band of fine musicians around him to play all The Animals hits. “Though the band has changed, the songs remain eternal… alongside covers of Ray Charles and John Lee Hooker classics, they ensure that the nostalgic element comes with an enjoyably abrasive edge”. (From the bands website).

This tour is billed as their farewell concert tour, and if so, this may be the last time that John and his friends have performed in a local “home” venue. Support was provided by another legend from the 60s, Zoot Money.

Now I have to admit to being a massive fan of Eric Burdon; I think he is one of the greatest vocalists ever and have been to see him every chance I can including a performance at Newcastle City Hall a few years ago. Eric performs with his own band, sometimes called The Animals, which has changed over the years. He remains a fine blues singer and his performances are always excellent. He does not grace these shores very often, which is a shame. So I was interested to see this performance by John Steel and his “friends”.

animals 3I was perched at the back of the hall again, as I was for Fairport Convention a week or so ago. The view is great and the venue was around ¾ full. First up, at around 7:30 PM, was Zoot Money who performed a fine set of rhythm and blues, solo on keyboards and vocals. His set was short, but warmed up the crowd well. He finished shortly after 8 PM which gave me time to have a swift pint of Guinness during the interval.

The Animals and Friends took to the stage around 8:30 PM and treated us to just over one hour of classic songs from back in the 60s.

animals 2I can’t quite recall the full set, but I seem to remember that they started with “Don’t Bring Me Down” and played a set of Animals hits and other R&B classics including “I’m Crying”, “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”, “It’s My Life” and “Club A Go Go”(written about the legendary 60s Newcastle club where all the greats played including Cream, Jimi Hendrix and, of course, The Animals). They closed the set with “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place”. John Steel then came to front of stage and explained how he had been in the band since it first formed in 1957! He then introduced the encore which was, of course, “House of the Rising Sun”. Finally, he welcomed Zoot Money back on stage to join the band to play Zoot’s 1960s hit “Big Time Operator”, which reached number 25 in the UK charts in 1966.

animals1The concert finished around 9:40 PM. Quite an early finish time these days. The band played well. John has assembled a fine set of musicians around him who do full justice to The Animals classic 60s tracks. The front man, Danny Handley , is to be applauded for both playing excellent guitar and singing strong vocals on all the songs. I can’t quite bring myself to say that his vocals matched Eric Burdon but, hey, he came pretty damn close. So it was a very pleasant evening spent listening to some of my all-time favourite songs. After the show the band and Zoot Money were signing CDs in the foyer. I decided to purchase a fine pair of John Steel drumsticks which he kindly signed personally and in front of me; one dedicated to me and the other dedicated to my friend John in the USA who came to see so many shows with me in the 1970s.

animals 5So, returning to my original question: When Is a Band No Longer a Band? My answer is thus. Does it matter? As long as they play good versions of great songs and I have an enjoyable evening, then it is certainly worthwhile going to see them. John and his friends have managed to retain the gritty Newcastle soul of The Animals and in doing so present a show that lives up to the bands legend. A great night.

Interestingly, I found the following on Wikipedia: “In 2008, an adjudicator determined that original Animals drummer John Steel owned “the Animals” name in the UK because of a trademark registration that Steel had filed. Eric Burdon had objected to the trademark registration, arguing that he personally embodied any goodwill associated with “the Animals” name. Burdon’s argument was rejected, in part because he had billed himself as “Eric Burdon and the Animals” as early as 1967, thus separating the goodwill associated with his own name from that of the band. On 9 September 2013, Burdon’s appeal was allowed, and he is now permitted to use the name “the Animals.””

Many thanks to Vikki my carer and photographer for the evening and Chris for once again helping put me back to bed.