Posts Tagged ‘psych’

Donovan Tyne Theatre Newcastle 8th October 2015

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

David Gilmour Royal Albert Hall London 3rd October 2015

David Gilmour Royal Albert Hall 3rd October 2015
image“Flicker, flicker, flicker blam. Pow, pow.
Stairway scare, Dan Dare, who’s there?
Lime and limpid green, the sounds around
The icy waters under
Lime and limpid green, the sounds around
The icy waters underground.”
(Astronomy Domine, Barrett & Wright, 1967)
It’s a lovely bright Sunday morning and I’m sitting on a Grand Central train which is weaving its way back home up North. I am also reflecting on last night’s concert by David Gilmour at the Royal Albert Hall. Nine years have past since Gilmour’s last album “On an Island”, and since I last saw him in concert at the same venue. Well we are all almost a decade older, maybe a little wiser, and much has changed. Some things, however, do remain comfortably and reassuringly constant, one of those being the unique crying, sustained tone and crisp guitar voice of David Gilmour. Gilmour has released a new album “Rattle that Lock” which has been well received and has also done well in terms of sales, reaching No 1 in the UK and many other countries. He has also now (just) completed a short European tour to promote the album, including five nights at the Albert Hall, and a warm-up show in Brighton. Last night was the final night of the tour; he will visit the USA in 2016.
imageThe concert was in two parts, with a healthy selection of new and old tracks sprinkled throughout. After going through the ticket collection process courtesy of legendary promoter Harvey Goldsmith (no tickets were sent out in advance, and I had to show my credit card and photo-ID in order to collect my ticket), I made my way up to my cheap (well sort of, all things are relative) vantage point in the gallery (bad decision on my part by the way, I am too old to stand all night and I am very stiff this morning). The show started with “5 AM”, an instrumental and the opening track on the new album. Gilmour stood alone, lit by a single spot, the crisp, clear sound of his Fender guitar cutting through the night; filling the hall. In that moment we all knew why we had come. It took that single note, in that unique style, to cut through the years and take us back to halcyon days. His soaring tone blends blues, psych, sci-fi and surf guitar styles; I could hear the influences: Hank Marvin, Jimi Hendrix, B B King. This was followed by the title track of the new album. The fourth song, which was of course welcomed by a massive cheer, was “Wish You Were Here”. The sound was clear, loud but not too much so, and the 1975 classic never sounded better, nor more appropriate. These songs have become a tribute to a legendary band, to Syd Barrett whose vision made it possible, and now sadly to Gilmour’s friend and fellow Floyd comrade Rick Wright, who played with him at those Albert Hall concerts nine years. Other highlights for me in the first half of the concert were the “Dark Side of the Moon” favourites “Money” and “Us and Them”. The last song before the interval was “High Hopes”, the closing track from “The Division Bell”.
imageThe second part of the concert took us back to the very start. “Astronomy Domine” is the first track on “Piper at the Gates of Dawn”, Pink Floyd’s first album, recorded before Gilmour joined the band. Today it is played as a fitting tribute to Syd and Rick (who co-wrote the song) and to days of innocent English psych, of early space-rock. The hall was bathed in colour, the giant (and familiar and Floyd-like) circular screen behind the band displaying a full-on ’60s psychedelic liquid light show. The strange chord sequence built to its screaming discordant climax. Fantastic; and for me, it was worth the ticket price for that song alone, as it was something that I thought I would never see performed live. This was followed by what has become my favourite Pink Floyd song, “Shine on you Crazy Diamond”. Searing, souring guitar, that familiar riff, a song of Syd and bitter-sweet sadness, and great visuals. The rest of the set was a mix of new and Floyd songs, including “Fat Old Sun” from “Atom Heart Mother”, “Sorrow” from “A Momentary Lapse of Reason” and closing song “Run Like Hell” from “The Wall”. I am not too familiar with “Sorrow”, to be honest, but last night it stood out for me, with some particularly fine, cavernous, deep, and heavy guitar work by Gilmour, which thundered and reverberated around us.
imageFor an encore a clang of coins greeted us, tills jangled and we were, to our great delight, taken back to “Dark Side of the Moon” and “Money”. During the extended closing song “Comfortably Numb” the light show moved up a notch, and the hall became a criss-crossed matrix of green, misty, then bright, stark red, laser light. Gilmour stood in front of us, his lone figure picked out by two spots, as if he were standing above the clouds of laser light, his guitar solo meandering and taking us to the end of a tremendous show.
Well. It was a show you truly couldn’t fault. The selection of songs, the sound, the band, Gilmour’s guitar, the vocals, the lights; simply perfect perfection. Only two things would better it for me. First (and this is probably never going to happen), I would just die to see him play “See Emily Play” as a tribute to Barrett. Oh, and finally, a seat. I am never going to scrimp on the ticket price again, and stand in that gallery. I am sure I will be stiff for days. Not good for an old guy. I remember my dad having terrible back problems (think they called it lumbago back then) and I fear that I may be inheriting it.
Walking out of the venue I heard a father telling his grown up son (who was probably in his 30s) of the 1975 Knebworth Floyd concert and of the (model) plane crashing into the stage at the end of “On the Run”. Happy happy days. I really do feel like I am getting old.
Set 1: 5 AM (new), Rattle that Lock (new), Faces of Stone (new), Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd), A Boat Lies Waiting (new), The Blue (On an Island), Money (Pink Floyd), Us and Them (Pink Floyd), In Any Tongue (new), High Hopes (Pink Floyd)
Set 2: Astronomy Domine (Pink Floyd), Shine on you Crazy Diamond Parts I-V (Pink Floyd), Fat Old Sun (Pink Floyd), On an Island, The Girl in the Yellow Dress (new), Today (new), Sorrow (Pink Floyd), Run Like Hell (Pink Floyd)
Encore: Time (Pink Floyd), Breathe (Reprise) (Pink Floyd), Comfortably Numb (Pink Floyd)
Tour band: David Gilmour (guitars, vocals), Phil Manzanera (guitars), Guy Pratt (bass guitar), Jon Carin (keyboards, guitars), Kevin McAlea (keyboards), Steve DiStanislao (drums, percussion), João Mello (saxophones), Bryan Chambers, Louise Clare Marshall (backing vocals)

Grateful Dead “Fare Thee Well: Celebrating 50 Years of Grateful Dead” live screening event Empire Cinema Newcastle 6th July 2015

Grateful Dead live screening event Empire Cinema Newcastle 6th July 2015
deadfilm“Fare Thee Well: Celebrating 50 Years of Grateful Dead”
20 years after their last concert, the remaining members of the Grateful Dead (Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh and Bob Weir) returned to Soldier Field in Chicago for a historic performance. The four members were joined by Trey Anastasio (guitar), Jeff Chimenti (keyboards), and Bruce Hornsby (piano). The Dead reunited for a series of five concerts (3 in Chicago and 2 in San Francisco where it all started), which was entitled “Fare Thee Well: Celebrating 50 Years of Grateful Dead” and grossed an amazing $52.2 million in ticket sales. The Pay to View package, which included footage from the band’s Levi Stadium San Francisco shows (attended by 151,650 fans) and the Soldier Field Chicago shows (attended by 210,283 people). The collection of live broadcasts now holds the record for the largest syndication of a live music event ever. The Grateful Dead were, of course, formed in California in 1965 and rose to become one of the best-known bands of the psychedelic movement of the late ’60s. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994 and have sold over 35 million albums worldwide. The last time the Dead played live together was in July 1995, just one month before the tragic death of the band’s lead guitarist and singer, Jerry Garcia. The demand for the reunion concerts has been incredible.
faretheewell The final Chicago concert was screened at more than 250 cinemas across the UK on the evening of Monday 6 July, the day after the last ever Dead show. It was a delayed screening – a live broadcast was impractical, given the six-hour time difference between the UK and Chicago.
I went with Laura and Dale to watch the film and joined a small group of UK Deadheads who wanted to see the band “live” one more time. I have to admit being unsure what to expect. My only other live encounter with the Dead was when they played Newcastle City Hall in 1972, and I didn’t quite get what all the fuss was about. Well, we all really enjoyed the movie. The songs, as always in a Dead concert, progressed into extended jams, but were never boring. I even enjoyed the Drums solo, which was followed by a lengthy Space piece involving trippy electronic sounds and heavy use of theremin. You could feel the love and respect that the fans have for this band, and see how moved Phil Lesh and Bob Weir in particular were by the whole event. If this was really the end, it was a very fitting way to close the final chapter of the career of a band who have meant so much to so many people, and touched fans throughout the world.
Set 1: China Cat Sunflower; I Know You Rider; Estimated Prophet; Built to Last; Samson and Delilah; Mountains of the Moon; Throwing Stones
Set 2: Truckin’; Cassidy; Althea; Terrapin Station; Drums; Space; Unbroken Chain; Days Between; Not Fade Away
Encore: Touch of Grey
Encore 2: Attics of My Life

Pink Fairies The Cluny Newcastle 26th April 2015

Pink Fairies The Cluny Newcastle 26th April 2015
pinkfairiesbadgeThe Pink Fairies were the ultimate late ’60s and early ’70s anarcho, underground, left-wing hippy revolutionaries. Alongside the Edgar Broughton Band and Hawkwind they forged an uncompromising anti-establishment path and made some beautiful noisy rock’n’roll which paved the way for punk, new wave and (maybe) grunge. I was a big fan in the ’70s and was lucky enough to see them live on a number of occasions. My favourite songs were “When’s the Fun Begin?” and their version of “Walk Don’t Run” which twisted the surf guitar of the Ventures through 180 degrees to produce a freak-out psych classic. Well the Pink Fairies are back. Or at least some of them are. The 2015 line-up consists of original Fairies Russell Hunter (drums) and Duncan Sanderson (bass) along with Andy Colquhoun (who fronted an ’80s incarnation of the band) on guitar, Jacki Windmill on wild red hair and crazy vocals and second drummer George Butler. There may be no Twink, no Paul Rudolph, no Larry Wallis; but the new Fairies maintain the spirit of the original band and, as I witnessed last week, remain true to the loud noisy musical ethos, complete with extended psych freak-out guitar solos courtesy of Andy and loud drums courtesy of Russell and George.
So 100 or so old-timers and a few modern hippy hipsters congregated in the Cluny on a Sunday to see what joyful noise the Pink Fairies 2015 could produce, and whether they could still corrupt our youth and try to overthrow our government. Laura accompanied me to this fun event. We were not disappointed. This wasn’t musical perfection by any means (and it wouldn’t be the Fairies if it was) but it was great raw, loud, rock’n’roll with rambling psych guitar straight from early ’70s Ladbroke Grove courtesy of the West Coast of the USA. I recognised most of the songs ;although I wasn’t sure what the opener was. The second song was “Do It” which was the B side of their (non) hit single “The Snake. This was followed by “War Girl” with manic vocals by Jacki. Then Russell took the mike and came forward to the front of the stage while the rambling discords of “When’s the Fun Begin” built to a crescendo. Wonderful. The Fairies then took us to the Larry Wallis era for the punky “Police Car”, followed by “Waiting for the Ice Cream to Melt”. Then it was right back to the start and the Velvet’s “Waiting for the Man”; a song the Fairies have been covering since their early days, followed by another old Fairies favourite; their cover of the Beatles “Tomorrow Never Knows” which was a pretty extreme discordant cacophony; by now Laura was confused. Then followed a couple of new songs; “Naked Radio” and “Skeleton Army”. The last number was Pink Fairies classic “Uncle Harry’s Last Freak Out”; Duncan told us the story of the drug bust in Ladbroke Grove which led to the song. “Last Freakout” descended into a lengthy jam, as it always used to. And then they were gone. We lingered a little hoping for an encore (I wanted to see them play “Walk Don’t Run”) but left after it began to look like they weren’t coming back. The ’70s underground lives on. Peace man.

Durham Dome Festival 1973 – 1980

Durham Dome Festival 1973 – 1980
chrisjaggerDurham Dome fest took place during the years 1973 to 1980. Several pleasant sunny afternoons and evenings were spent down on the Riverside Race Course in Durham.

From local alternative hippy North East zine Mother Grumble, which organised the Durham Dome fests:
“Durham Domefest 1st July 1973
So many people, magical music, listening in the sunshine, smiling, free.
And there was free music.
And there was lite and love.
Riding bureaucratic storms to do this together, so many people helped make this happen, and will again.
Policeman, friends, lovers, strangers all together down at the riverside.
Old folks, young folks, we’re going to grow and grow, help them who can’t come and do another show.
Contact Mother G to plan and build the next one, new faces, new bands
Loudest sound in Durham town, the people can never let the people down.
There are no words, we can all see there, we have all been there, see you next time.
Durham’s first free open air music for the people, by the people – it’s all too beautiful
Meet you at the next one.
And don’t be late.”

The festival would feature a host of local bands playing on a domed stage, with a few name bands joining in. I recall sing Chris Jagger, Jack the Lad, Isotope and Global Village Trucking Company play alongside Arbre, Hedgehog Pie, Steve Brown Band, Village (think they won the Melody Maker contest?) and Raw Spirit. Prefab Sprout played at one of the later festivals, and I read that Supertramp also played at one of the Dome fest, although I don’t recall seeing them. I went to several of the Dome fests, including the first, although I don’t recall which ones I actually attended.
I recall a real buzz about Chris Jagger who turned up unannounced and played on a sunny afternoon. It was at the time of his “You Know the Name but not the Face” lp, which places it around 1973. And pretty good he was too.
The Dome fests were happy friendly events; you would turn up, chat to friends and lie in the sun on the grass by the river, listening to some music. You never knew which bands would play, and that was part of the fun of it. Everything seemed so much simpler. Happy Days 🙂

Frank Zappa Newcastle City Hall 13th February 1979

Frank Zappa Newcastle City Hall 13th February 1979
zappatix79After many years of not visiting the UK, Frank Zappa made up for it by coming every year during the period 1977 to 1979. In 1979 I saw his concert at Newcastle City Hall. I went with a group of mates and we had seats quite close to the stage, and a great view of Frank and the band. This was an excellent performance, easily on par with the concert I had seen in Edinburgh a couple of years earlier. Zappa’s guitar playing was simply outstanding and I was delighted that they played the old Mothers’ favourite “Brown Shoes Don’t Make It” and “Peaches en Regalia” from “Hot Rats”.
I found this great discussion about the tour and the setlist: “The setlist for this tour was rather odd – you’d expect an artist who’d released 4 albums (including Sheik Yerbouti, which would come out in the middle of this tour) to be playing the songs from those albums. Frank, however, had been playing some of those songs since 1975-1976, and was ready to ditch them and work on the songs he’d introduced in the previous Fall 1978 tour. zappaprogHe also was doing more and more interviews and business stuff, and so Arthur Barrow, the bass player, was left in charge of most of the rehearsals. This meant that much of the setlist had a tendency to be Arthur’s favorites, as they’re the ones he wanted to spend time on. Hence the appearance of a lot of the One Size Fits All album. The band was the same as Fall 1978s, mostly.” (from Sean Gaffney’s Suitable Case for Treatment blog).
Setlist: Treacherous Cretins; Dead Girls of London; Ain’t Got No Heart; Brown Shoes Don’t Make It; Cosmik Debris; Tryin’ to Grow a Chin; City of Tiny Lites; Dancin’ Fool; Easy Meat; Jumbo Go Away; Andy; Inca Roads; Florentine Pogen; Honey, Don’t You Want a Man Like Me?; Keep It Greasey; The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing; For the Young Sophisticate; Wet T-Shirt Nite; Why Does It Hurt When I Pee?; Peaches en Regalia; Yellow Snow Suite (Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow / Nanook Rubs It / St. Alfonzo’s Pancake Breakfast / Father O’Blivion / Rollo); Dinah-Moe Humm; Camarillo Brillo / Muffin Manzappamitch
Thanks to Mitch for the photo which he took at this concert.
Frank Zappa left us far too soon on December 4th 1993, and the music world would never be quite the same. Son Dweezil does an excellent job of playing his dad’s music to a whole new generation of fans.

I’m going to jump out of sequence again for the next week or so. I have a few events to cover that I promised myself I would write about before I completed my project. They are mostly rock related, but one or two aren’t quite. There are about 10 of them, and then I’ll return to Z with Z Z Top to finally close this daily project. Not far to go now.

Frank Zappa Edinburgh Playhouse 14th February 1977

Frank Zappa Edinburgh Playhouse 14th February 1977
zappa77tix“Welcome to our first Edinburgh concert !” Frank Zappa coming on stage in Edinburgh to a massive roar from the Scottish crowd.
This was Zappa’s first visit to Scotland. He played Glasgow Apollo one night, and Edinburgh Playhouse the next. I attended the Edinburgh concert; I had actually bought a ticket for his concert at Hammersmith, but then when he added the Edinburgh date, I decided it would be easier to make the trip north of the border, rather than go to London. In those days there was a late night train from Edinburgh to Newcastle (it doesn’t run now), which meant you could go to a gig at the Playhouse, run round to Waverley station (you had to be quick to catch the train) and be back home in the early hours of the morning. I’d been a big fan of Zappa and the Mothers since I first heard “We’re Only in it for the Money” and “Lumpy Gravy” in the late ’60s. Now those were the coolest of cool lps to carry to school under your arm; I remember having to order my copies of “Lumpy Gravy” and “Uncle Meat” from a local record shop (Bergs) and waiting ages for them to arrive. I was also a big fan of the “Hot Rats” album (another iconic sleeve). I’d been wanting to see Frank Zappa live for ages, and was so excited that I was finally getting the chance to do so. The set was a mix of material from throughout Zappa’s career including the magnificent “Peaches en Regalia” which is my favourite track on “Hot Rats”, back to the start with the Mothers cooky “Big Leg Emma”, full on Wah Wah on “My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama” and an amazing solo on “Black Napkins”. That night I realised that there was much more to Zappa than nutty songs, political statements, doowop, and childish toilet humour; that Frank Zappa was actually an excellent guitarist. Ran into my friend John who was studying in Edinburgh at the time. Had to run to catch the train home, totally knocked out that I had actually seen a genius and one of my all time heroes live in concert.
Setlist: The Purple Lagoon (intro.); Peaches en Regalia; The Torture Never Stops; Big Leg Emma; City of Tiny Lites; Pound for a Brown; Jones Crusher; My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama; Tryin’ to Grow a Chin; Broken Hearts Are for Assholes(with “Little Deuce Coupe” ); Dong Work for Yuda; Manx Needs Women; Titties ‘n Beer; Black Napkins; Dinah-Moe Humm; Camarillo Brillo / Muffin Man
The Zappa Band: Frank Zappa — guitar, vocals; Ray White – guitar, vocals; Eddie Jobson – keyboards, violin; Patrick O’Hearn – bass & Terry Bozzio – drums, vocals. It was great to see local hero Eddie Jobson playing violin with Zappa, it was only a few years earlier we were all dancing to him playing “Hava Nagila” with the excellent Fat Grapple in Sunderland Locarno.
A strange thing. My ticket shows that I had a seat in the front row of the stalls. Now in my memory I can picture myself sitting upstairs in the circle. I’m sure I would have remembered if I was in the front row. All I can think is that my seat was right at the side of the stage and a poor view and that I wandered upstairs and found an empty seat. But hey who knows.

John’s memory: “I can remember going to the show and had a ticket fairly near the front.I did not know much of his material except for the vintage Hot Rats which had been a popular “cool” album in the early 70’s.I went mainly based on his reputation and the fact that he did not play very often. I remember really enjoying the gig and thinking he was an exceptional player , despite not being familiar with a lot of the material. I think Eddie Jobson was in his band at the time. The set included Peaches en Regalia and the highlight of for me was City of Tiny Lites.”

Robert Plant Newcastle Academy 18th Nov 2014

Robert Plant Newcastle Academy 18th Nov 2014
robertplantadYou just know that Robert Plant is enjoying himself.
The Newcastle Academy was completely packed last night; packed to the walls, so you couldn’t move at all; probably the fullest I’ve ever seen it. I was right down at the front crammed close to the stage, and there were lots of Zeppelin veterans around, everyone talking about their memories of that legendary band. One guy was relating stories of Zeppelin gigs at the Mayfair and an early City Hall show in 1970. Two other guys were talking about Earls Court and Knebworth. The respect for Plant remains solid, immovable, deep and immense. But a Plant performance these days isn’t simply a Zeppelin tribute act; far from it, The Sensational Space Shifters are a band, and each of the members are great musicians in their own right. The set is a mix of tracks from the new album, blues, folk (“there is lots of folk music tonight”) and Zeppelin classics reworked (a little, but not too much). Shape Shifter music is an eclectic mix: the world music side is clear and exemplified by Gambian Juldeh Camara’s contribution to the performance on the “riti” (a single-string fiddle) and Robert and the others playing those large tambourine-like instruments (are they called a “daf”?), but it isn’t as simple as combining african instruments and rhythms with rock. robertplanttixThere is also rockabilly, particularly from crazy rock-out guitarist Justin Adams, psych, and the blues runs through everything, and screams from Liam “Skin” Tyson’s guitar. Oh, and of course, those familiar Zeppelin rock riffs come thundering through every now and then, as if we needed to be reminded where this guy’s roots lie. Plant looks great, his lion’s mane of hair intact and swaying, his voice as soulful, powerful and gentle as ever. You can feel that he is enjoying life and the music; he smiles and chats and jokes with the crowd, who give the band a roaring reception. The Sensational Shape Shifters give Plant the freedom, opportunity and space to safely bend the blues, rock, world music, mix it with excerpts from his back catalogue, and throw in all of the other musical influences which obviously run through his head, within a safe environment. The crowd know what to expect, and love it. We even get a snippet of House of the Rising Sun which prompts a massive singalong from the Geordie crowd. Amazing. Possibly the best time I’ve seen Plant in recent years.
Setlist was something like this: Friends; Spoonful; Turn It Up; Going to California; Embrace Another Fall; Rainbow; What Is and What Should Never Be; No Place to Go; Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You; Little Maggie; Fixin’ to Die; House of the Rising Sun; I Just Want to Make Love to You / Whole Lotta Love. Encore: Rock and Roll

Traffic Newcastle City Hall 24th April 1974

Traffic Newcastle City Hall 24th April 1974
trafficposterConcert going was a much less expensive hobby in the 70s. I saw lots of great bands, and it didn’t cost me the fortune it does these days. For £2 I had my train fare, a good seat, a pint or two and a programme. John and I went to see Traffic at Newcastle City Hall on 24th April 1974, and the tickets cost £1 each, and well worth it too 🙂 Traffic were just about to release their ninth, and final (for then, anyway) album “When the Eagle Flies”, and the line-up of the band was Steve Winwood (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Chris Wood (flute, sax), Jim Capaldi (drums, percussion), Rosko Gee (bass) and Rebop (percussion and crazy bongos). Support came from husband and wife duo Richard and Linda Thompson. My enduring memory is of a long-haired Stevie Winwood singing “John Barleycorn”, accompanying himself on acoustic guitar. It remains one of my favourite songs. My other memory is of an incredible performance by Rebop, as he hopped from bongo to bongo, beating out crazy rhythms, dazzling us with lightning-fast percussion work. John’s comments on the gig: “I only saw Traffic once and it was towards the end of the bands career when the band when they were struggling to keep it all together and perhaps were not at there very best. That said, I have great and very happy memories of the show. The tour was to promote the album “When the Eagle Flies” and I believe the support was Richard and Linda Thompson (who closed their set with I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight, which was the title track of their current, and best, album). traffic74The City Hall was not full and we had great seats pretty near the front and to one side of the stage. A set list is shown from the Rainbow show and I can recall a number of the songs – John Barleycorn was just great, followed by 40,000 Headman, Empty Pages, Pearly Queen and the outstanding Dear Mr Fantasy, which is one of the best extended jams of the period and a favorite of mine to this day. They played a number of tracks from the new album, as was the standard practice for the time, but I can only recall the title track. While the setlist from the Rainbow differs, I thought they closed with Low Spark of High Heeled Boys but I may be getting this mixed up. [My memory is of an encore of Feelin’ Alright?, but that could be my imagination]. A great band whose contribution to 70’s music is often overlooked and I am grateful to have caught them (almost) at their prime.”
Traffic setlist from London Rainbow May 1974: Heaven Is in Your Mind; John Barleycorn; Forty Thousand Headmen; Graveyard People; Empty Pages; Pearly Queen; Vulcan ?; Dear Mr. Fantasy; When the Eagle Flies; Walking in the Wind; Dream Gerrard; Memories of a Rock ‘n’ Rolla.
I saw Traffic once more, when they headlined the Reading festival a few months later in August 1974. It was another great set with some lengthy but nver boring jams (thanks in great part to Rebop’s antics), and exactly the right sort of music for a dark summer evening at a rock festival, the music drifting across the riverside fields, as the cool breeze made us all shiver a little.
Reading setlist: Empty Pages; Graveyard People; Who Knows What Tomorrow May Bring; John Barleycorn; Forty Thousand Headmen; Love
When the Eagle Flies; Walking in the Wind; Dream Gerrard
Thanks to John for the image of his poster.

The Teardrop Explodes Newcastle Mayfair 25th June 1981 & Newcastle City Hall 2nd February 1982

The Teardrop Explodes Newcastle Mayfair 25th June 1981 & Newcastle City Hall 2nd February 1982
teardrop81The Teardrop Explodes were a great pop group. Although they emerged as part of the post-punk / new wave scene of the late 1970s, their music was very clearly influenced by ’60s psychedelia, and was labelled “bubblegum psych” or “bubblegum trance” by the music press. Led by charismatic, and fascinating, front man Julian Cope they exploded out of the Liverpool scene; friends of Wah! and the Bunnymen. I loved the singles “Treason” and “Reward” which remain classics of the genre and continue to influence bands today. I saw The Teardrop Explodes on three occasions, at Newcastle Mayfair on 25th June 1981, at Newcastle City Hall on 2nd February 1982, and supporting Queen at Elland Road on 29th May 1982. I have strongest memories of the Mayfair gig. The Teardrop Explodes had been high in the charts with “Reward” and the band, and Julian Cope in particular, were on top form. Julian was on the brink of becoming a major pop star. He was his usual exuberant, fearless, unashamed, “little boy lost” blonde bob self. And why wouldn’t he be; after all he was on the verge of becoming his hero Scott Walker. “The whole idea of the Teardrops to me is nice, nice melodies and lyrics that, while they’re always sung hopefully, have dark secrets in them when you start listening to them.” (Julian in Record Mirror, 1981). teardopprogA packed Mayfair crowd gave the band a crazy reception; it was a great night; swirling, whirling waves of sound and colour lifted us all and taking us along for the ride. The 1981 programme proclaims the tour “Out of the Culture Bunker”. Julian explained what this was about in Record Mirror (1981): “I have a new song called ‘Culture Bunker’ that’s about the way we all reacted to other people trying to make it in Liverpool. We’d say we really want you to make it but we don’t, the whole thing is so smiley, smiley, stab you in the back. David Balfe is always slagging me off for smiling at people, and saying hello when I’m not interested in them but it’s just the way I’ve been brought up. I’m not one of, those people who declare ‘I’m honest, I’m frank, I tell people that they’re shits’.”
By the time I saw the band again at the City Hall things didn’t seem quite the same. Don’t get me wrong, it was still a great, enjoyable gig, but it lacked the edge and power, and joy, of the Mayfair concert the previous year. This was due, in part, to the lack of craziness which results when moving from a ballroom to a concert hall, but also I suspect because things weren’t too good in the band; there had been several line-up changes, and there was ill-feeling between Julian and some of the other members. The music was changing as well, and according to reports Julian was experimenting heavily with LSD. Julian’s mood felt darker; he was no longer Scott Walker, and was becoming a moody Jim Morrison. The evening before in Edinburgh the gig had ended on a dark note: “What I do recall very clearly is the interminable nonsense of the final encore: Sleeping Gas. Never a tune I have ever had much time for, the piece degenerated into an embarrassing ten minute Cope rant. The singer ended up on the floor towards the end burbling on about savaging the audience, and I am sure I was not the only one in the place thinking “Julian! For F**’s Sake. Behave yourself” (from ). Such was Julian Cope at the time. teardrop82The last time I saw The Teardrop Explodes they supported Queen at Elland Road. It wasn’t a great day for them. The crowd started hurling bottles and cans at Julian and he spent a lot of time arguing with everyone. “Not sure who was first on, probably Teardrop Explodes, Julian Cope, I remember while they were throwing bottles at him, picked one up and started hitting himself with it and stretching his arms out saying he was an Argentinian bomber or something. It was during the Falklands war, remember.” (from a Queen fan forum). It was like watching a band self destruct in front of your eyes.
I like to remember The Teardrop Explodes as they were that night at the Mayfair; joyous, uplifting; a celebration of a young guy from Liverpool who was living out his dreams, and let us come along for the ride.
Julian Cope continues to perform and remains a unique, highly creative, individual.