Posts Tagged ‘R&B’

Colosseum York Crescent 27 August 2022

coltixLast night I spent an evening in the company of 1960s legendary jazz rock band Colosseum. This was quite an adventure actually, involving taking two carers for safety, Elaine and Jan, and a taxi to Durham station then the train to York station and a short walk to the venue, the Crescent. The train journey involved a guy turning up with a ramp to get me on the train at Durham and another guy at the other end to get me off the train. All worked seamlessly. The girl who got me on the train at Durham just before 7 PM said she would be waiting for me around midnight when we returned.

col4The Crescent is a lovely venue. It was a working men’s club, dating back to the 1920s. There is a great picture of the house band from those days on display in the entrance. We took a nice photograph of the picture. The Crescent has a friendly feel about it and it is great to be able to see a band up close in a small venue. It is a short 10 minutes walk from York station which we negotiated quite well, particularly over some cobbled streets which my wheelchair and I do not take well to! It holds around 250 people and was unreserved seating for the evening. When we arrived around 8 PM the venue was quite full but we managed to find a couple of seats for Elaine and Jan at the end of the second row and I took my place alongside them. We were informed that the band would be taking the stage at 8:30 PM and would play two sets with a short interval.

col3Now this was the 1969 incarnation of Colosseum (or as close to it as possible) but of course the founder, leader, the late great Jon Hiseman passed away some years ago, as did very recently, his wife Barbara Thompson who also played saxophone and wind instruments with the band. So the line-up consisted of, from the 1969 band, the great man himself Chris Farlowe on vocals and Clem Clempson on guitar. Also in the band today is bassist Mark Clarke, who joined in 1970. So three members from an early line up of the band is pretty good for me! Chris Farlowe is, of course, of “Out of Time” fame and Clem Clempson was a member of the great Humble Pie alongside Steve Mariott. Colosseum were a legendary 1960s jazz rock outfit. Sadly I never saw the 1960s band but I did see Colosseum II , which featured Gary Moore alongside Don Airey (now Deep Purple and from my hometown Sunderland).

I was really looking forward to this concert and to experiencing some 60s jazz rock. The website of the Crescent stated: “The progressive rock group will feature original members including legendary lead singer Chris Farlowe, alongside lead guitarist Clem Clempson and bass player and vocalist Mark Clarke. But it will also introduce exciting new musicians Nick Steed (keyboards), Kim Nishikawara (saxophones) and Malcolm Mortimore (drums).”

col2The website continued: “Colosseum came to fame in 1969 when the band led by legendary drummer Jon Hiseman released its debut album Those Who Are About To Die Salute You. The band soon caused a sensation with their powerful blend of rock, jazz and classical music. Their appearances at major rock festivals drew huge crowds and fans flocked to concerts as they performed epic works like the “Valentyne Suite” and “Lost Angeles”. More best selling studio albums followed, notably Valentyne Suite (1969) and The Daughter of Time is Truth (1970). Changes in personnel saw the arrival of the soulful Chris Farlowe, famed for his Sixties chart hit ‘Out Of Time’ and Clem Clempson, the young blues guitar virtuoso and vocalist and bass player Mark Clarke.”

The first set consisted of quite a few songs from their new album Restoration and some more familiar classic Colosseum material including, the late great Jack Bruce’s “Rope Ladder to the Moon” and closing for the interval with the fantastic instrumental piece, and title track of their second album, “Valentyne Suite”. Chris Farlowe has a voice which is as soulful, powerful and strong as ever. He is amazing for an 81-year-old gentleman. He demonstrates a wide vocal range in some of the more jazzy pieces. Chris did take a rest during some of the instrumental pieces, but hey, he certainly deserved it as his performance was flawless. Clempson remains an expert guitarist and the rest of the band are also all great musicians and each took a solo, demonstrating their virtuosity. Bass player Mark Clarke took the vocals on some of the songs and also demonstrates a powerful voice.

col 6After a short interval, just giving me time for another Guinness (just a half this time making a pint and half in total: very adventurous for me on an evening!), the band returned and treated us to more new and old Colosseum tracks. They began with a surprise. Clem Clempson started playing the introduction to “Out Of Time” and Chris joined in, as did the crowd. Chris told us “this is the first time, and will probably be the last that Colosseum perform that song!” Clem continued to tempt by playing the introduction to “Handbags and Gladrags” but Chris wouldn’t be drawn and they moved on to “proper” Colosseum material. This included the late great Graham Bond’s song “Walking in the Park” and Chris returning to the blues for “Stormy Monday”. In order to catch our train home we had to leave during the latter song. Checking the set list for the London show it looks like we missed the epic instrumental “Lost Angeles” and an encore of Jack Bruce’s” Theme from Imaginary Western”, a particular favourite of mine. Sad but train times had the better of us.

We got to the train station on time and the guy with the ramp was waiting on platform 11 to help me onto the train. There were some Saturday night revellers in the station, a little worse for wear, but not causing any trouble. There are always rail police on watch to ensure the crowds don’t get too rowdy! We were soon back at Durham station where the lady, true to her word, was waiting to assist me off the train. Then it was back into the taxi, off home and the two ladies helped me back into bed. It was around 1 AM and I was quite tired; but it had been a great evening, in a great venue, with a great band!

Setlist: Set 1: No Pleasin’; Story of the Blues; Need Somebody; Rope Ladder to the Moon (Jack Bruce); Hesitation; Valentyne Suite; Set 2: Segment of Out Of Time; intro to Handbags and Gladrags; First in Line; Walking in the Park (The Graham Bond Organisation); Tonight; A Cowboy’s Song; Stormy Monday Blues (T‐Bone Walker); Lost Angeles; Encore: Theme for an Imaginary Western (Jack Bruce)

Diana Ross Durham cricket ground 29 June 2022

DIANA TIX - CopyWell this was a strange one. Diana Ross is, of course, an icon, a diva and someone I have never been lucky enough to see in the past. So I was greatly looking forward to seeing her perform at Durham County Cricket club ground which is a few miles away from my home, at Chester-le-Street. So a group of us: me, carer Elaine, Jan and Elaine’s daughter Sophie went along to experience Ms Ross. It had been raining during the day but by the time we arrived it was warm and dry, although the plastic seats were soaking wet!DIANA1
When I say was a strange concert, it was not what most people expected. Diana came onstage just before 9 PM and announced that she was going to perform the show in her “Uggs” (a reference to her Ugg boots, I guess). She was wearing a tartan lumberjack coat; none of the usual diva glitzy costumes. She opened the set with “Chain Reaction” and then launched straight into a collection of 1960s Supremes classics: “Baby Love”; “Stop! In the Name of Love” (everyone holding their hand up in a Stop position; you know what I mean); “You Can’t Hurry Love” and (my particular favourite) “Love Child”. DIANA2All sung perfectly; Diana’s voice was really strong and she was clearly enjoying herself. For some reason she had decided to miss out all the glitz, strip back the show to its basics and deliver what, for me, was the authentic Diana: just as I remembered her on Top of the Pops when I was a kid. Wonderful! These are treasured “melt down” moments.
It took me back 50 years to when I saw David Bowie on the Ziggy Stardust tour at Sunderland Top Rank. For some unexplained reason he decided not to wear Ziggy make up or gear, came onstage in a pair of Levi’s, T-shirt and leather jacket and belted out a collection of his own songs, Velvet Underground tunes and other classics from the 1960s. Many people went home disappointed that night; I knew I had seen something special and treasure that performance to this day. This was the same: a special evening with an international star, 78 years old, looking and sounding great.
Diana continued with “Theme from Mahogany”, a great cover of “Why Do Fools Fall in Love” and “Ease on down the Road”. Then a couple of songs from her new album DIANA PROGThank You and closing song (of course) “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”. Then she waved to the crowd, walked off stage leaving her excellent band and vocalists to close the show. She was onstage for just over an hour. No encore (which is apparently usually “I Will Survive”), just some great music on a nice evening with everyone singing along.
Now a lot of people were apparently disappointed, and I understand why. However for me I felt privileged to witness a concert by a true star, just having fun and singing a few songs for us. The stars from the 1960s seem to go on forever; more power to their elbow. I think we may never see their like again. Thank you Ms Ross for a great show.

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.

Tom Jones Darlington Arena 29 August 2021

TOM TIXSo I finally made it! My first proper gig for a long, long time. And what a gig. None other than Sir Tom Jones himself. I last saw Tom at Newcastle Arena around 20 years ago with Marie. At that time he was still, at least in my mind, very much a pop star. Now, at 81 years old he has become “a national treasure”, and a veteran pop/soul/R&B star. His voice has deepened and become richer with age and his profile has, if anything, grown; partly due to his appearances on TV talent show The Voice.

Tom has matured gracefully, in my view. No longer the dyed hair, what stood before us a couple of days ago was a man proud of his own legend, his back catalogue and, on his new album, not frightened to explore the songs of his contemporaries, such as Bob Dylan and Cat Stevens and add his own deep, soulful, rich textured voice to transform them into his own unique Tom Jones style.

The venue for the concert was Darlington Arena, housed in what was the old Darlington football ground, built by local businessman (now disgraced) George Reynolds. The venue holds 25,000 people; on the night I would estimate that there was around 10,000 to 15,000 people in attendance; some on the pitch and some up in the stands. I took a taxi for the 45 minute journey to Darlington with my carer, and sister-in-law, Elaine.

The Darlington Arena website announced the concert thus: “Global superstar Tom Jones is set to perform at the Darlington Arena… in what promises to be an unforgettable evening of entertainment. Fans in the North East are certain to be delighted! Tom Jones’ 50+ year career has remarkably gone from strength to strength. Along with sustaining his popularity as a live performer and recording artist for five decades, he garnered at the age of 75, the best reviews of his career for his most recent albums Long Lost Suitcase, Spirit In The Room and Praise & Blame.”

TOM 2We arrived around 7 PM just in time to catch the support acts the Dunhills and Megan McKenna, star of reality TV shows The X Factor and The Only Way Is Essex. Both acts put on a good performance and warmed up the crowd for Sir Tom.

The disabled area was at the front of the terraces, to the side of the pitch. Our position wasn’t great so we moved up a little to get a better view of the stage and the screens. Tom Jones took to the stage around 9 PM, opening with his big hit “What’s New Pussycat?” This was followed by another trip back to the 60s with his first number one hit “It’s Not Unusual”. Great openers, sung with the usual powerful Jones voice. An excellent start to a great concert. What followed was a mixture of covers from his new album and some further trips down memory lane. “Windmills of My Mind” has always been a great favourite of mine and Tom’s treatment of the song didn’t let me down. Similarly, his rendition of Bob Dylan’s “One More Cup of Coffee” was also excellent. Soon we were back in the 60s again and, another favourite, “The Green Green Grass of Home”. It was quite emotional for me, seeing Tom Jones perform the songs again. Similarly, the epic “Delilah” was delivered with power and soul as always. Great.

Now can an 81-year-old sing “Sex Bomb” with any credibility? I thought not, and I really hoped that he would not attempt this song. However, I must admit I was pleasantly surprised. He slowed the song down, and his deep voice somehow made it feel okay. The crowd certainly loved it and everyone in front of us was dancing away.

We were treated to other hits including Randy Newman’s “You Can Keep Your Hat on” and Prince’s “Kiss”. And soon it was over. After one hour 10 minutes Tom Jones left the stage. The reception from the crowd had been rapturous throughout. The people of the north-east certainly enjoyed the visit of Tom Jones. Soon he was back on stage and we were treated to a three song encore, closing with “Strange Things Happening Every Day”. A nice autumnal evening spent in the company of a true living legend.

TOM 1Getting out on the venue was a little bit of an adventure. The officials were not allowing any vehicles into the car parks. This was to enable the park-and-ride buses and people on foot to leave safely. However, it also blocked my taxi from getting in. The taxi was stuck in a massive queue of cars somewhere down the road. With some clever to-ing and fro-ing on our phones we managed to locate him and, once we were out of the long traffic jam we were safely up the A19 and on our way home, arriving safely around midnight.

Setlist: (something like) What’s New Pussycat?; It’s Not Unusual; Popstar (Cat Stevens); The Windmills of Your Mind (Noel Harrison); Green, Green Grass of Home; One More Cup of Coffee (Valley Below) (Bob Dylan); Talking Reality Television Blues; I Won’t Crumble with You If You Fall; Tower of Song (Leonard Cohen); Delilah; Lazarus Man; You Can Leave Your Hat On (Randy Newman); Sex Bomb; If I Only Knew; Kiss (Prince)

Encore: I’m Growing Old; No Hole in My Head; Strange Things Happening Every Day

Many thanks to Elaine for the photographs (she also really enjoyed the concert).

The Nashville Teens and the Downliners Sect? Sunderland Polytechnic Wearmouth Hall 1971?

The_nashville_teens

Now this one is something of a conundrum. I will explain why shortly.

Every week, on a Saturday night in the early 70s my friends and I would venture down to the Saturday night dance at Sunderland Polytechnic in Wearmouth Hall, which was the students union building. We would never know which bands to expect; all would be revealed written in chalk on a blackboard in the entrance. So every Saturday was something of a great surprise. We would come along and see famous names written on the board: Arthur Brown, Screaming Lord Sutch, Shaking Stevens and the Sunsets, the Wild Angels, and many more. Some of these I have already blogged on; some I will write about in the weeks to come.

Well one Saturday night we came along and the names on the board were “The Nashville Teens” (who I had heard of) and the “Downliners Sect” (who I had vaguely heard something about).

“We were quite influenced by the Downliners Sect” – David Bowie referring to David Bowie and the King Bees in Q Magazine. “The first British R&B I heard was the Downliners Sect. It was at the Ken Colyer Club, they were really doing it then. I heard the Pretty Things later but the Downliners Sect were IT “- Van Morrison (Official site)

Now The Nashville Teens were a band from the 60s who had been in the charts with their big hit “Tobacco Road“, so I was quite excited about seeing them. And the Downliners Sect were a legendary rhythm and blues band, also from the 60s. Now here comes the conundrum. Everything I’ve read about the Downliners Sect tells me that they split up in the late 60s, around 1968, and didn’t reappear until the later 70s, reforming off the back of the pub rock and punk movement. But my memory tells me that I definitely saw a band called the Downliners Sect that night. Whether I did or not, and who the personnel were, is, as they say, lost in the mists of time and in my failing memory.

I recall, the Downliners Sect played a set of rhythm and blues standards and were quite good. But the main attraction for me was witnessing the legendary Nashville Teens and seeing them play “Tobacco Road”. I do remember thinking that all of the members, other than the singer (who was presumably the original singer Ray Phillips) looked quite young, had long hair, and looked a little out of place in a 60s band. Nonetheless, they played a great version of “Tobacco Road”.

So there we go. A good night was, as they say, had by all. But the conundrum remains in my mind. Such things drive me crazy every now and then; but then I realise there is nothing I can do about it. Unless someone out there can enlighten me?

“I was born in a trunk.
Mama died and my daddy got drunk.
Left me here to die alone
In the middle of Tobacco Road.” (John D Loudermilk, 1959).

Picture of the Nashville Teens courtesy of Pop Weekly, via Wikimedia Commons

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.

The Who Wembley Arena 13th Feb 2016

The Who Wembley Arena 13th Feb 2016
imageLast night The Who returned to their home turf to play a one-off gig at Wembley Arena. Roger Daltrey has been suffering from viral meningitis, which resulted in the postponement of the last leg of their American Tour, and this gig was slotted in by way of a warm-up before the band returns to the USA to play the rearranged dates. I’m pleased to report that Roger looks and sounds well, although he did tell us that he wasn’t 100% and that his “legs weren’t fully there”. Well it didn’t show. This was another classic Who performance, easily on par with, if not surpassing, their Hyde Park show last Summer. A sold-out crowd of locals and die-hard Who fans from across Europe gave the band the rousing London welcome they deserve. The Who Hits 50! Tour is a celebration of the amazing legacy of a legendary band who have given us so much over the years. This was my 21st (I think) Who live experience, and the third time I’ve seen them on the current tour, having caught the first leg of the tour at Newcastle Arena in late 2014 and the Hyde Park gig last summer. The set is largely the same, although it has become slightly shorter with openers “I Can’t Explain” and “Substitute” being dropped, as has their early attempt at a mini opera “A Quick One (While He’s Away)”. Last night we were treated to the inclusion of the instrumental “The Rock” as part of a trio of songs from “Quadrophenia”.
imageThe evening started with a slide show which took us through the history of the band, and featured many great images of the late Keith Moon and John Entwistle. This tour is a celebration of their legacy and contribution, as well as a run through of some of the Who’s greatest songs. The band walked on stage and launched straight into “Who Are You?” and away we went on another amazing journey through so many classic tunes; a history of this extraordinary band, and also of our own lives and memories. The giant screen behind the stage displayed powerful full-face images of Roger, Pete, Keith and John, along with clips of the Who in the ’60s and the ’70s and clips from Quadrophenia. The sound was crisp; I was sitting halfway back on the terrace to the left of the stage, and every note was very clear. The first part of the set featured early classics: “The Seeker”, “Picture of Lily”, “The Kids are Alright”, “My Generation” and my personal favourite “I Can See for Miles”. Then we moved swiftly to the ’70s and the haunting “Behind Blue Eyes” followed by “Bargain” from “Who’s Next”, “Join Together”, and “You Better You Bet”. The aforementioned segment from “Quadrophenia” followed. “Eminence Front” is not my favourite track, so I took the opportunity to have a walk around the arena, finding a spot downstairs on the floor towards the back. I spent the rest of evening there, enjoying the band and observing the crowd singing along, dancing and generally going crazy. imageThe songs from “Tommy” followed, culminating in a powerful crowd singalong to “Listening to You” which always gets me. I knew we were on the home stretch. Roger’s voice was holding out fine, and Pete was full of power and angst, twirling and twirling his arm, and squeezing great solos out of his Fender Stratocaster. The familiar minimalist synthesiser intro signalled “Baba O’Reilly” which then lead into closing song “Won’t Get Fooled Again”; as raw and relevant as ever. Pure class. Pete introduced the band, and they left the stage at around 10.30pm. I took the 2 minute walk across the road to the Wembley Hilton. Pete said at the end “Hope to see you again.” Yes indeed, hope so.
Setlist: Who Are You; The Seeker; The Kids Are Alright; I Can See for Miles; My Generation; Pictures of Lily; Behind Blue Eyes; Bargain; Join Together; You Better You Bet; I’m One; The Rock; Love Reign O’er Me; Eminence Front; Amazing Journey/Sparks; Pinball Wizard; See Me Feel Me/Listening to You; Baba O’Reilly; Won’t Get Fooled Again
I’m typing this on a very slow train (engineering works on a Sunday) which is gradually taking me back home ‘up north’. Next stop is York. I’m feeling quite tired and stiff this morning; must be starting to feel my age.

Ronnie Spector Sage Gateshead 30 Nov 2015

Ronnie Spector The Sage Gateshead 30 Nov 2015
imageNow there are those that we call legends, and those who really are legends. Ronnie Spector is definitely in the latter category. The self-styled wild child of rock and roll, the rose of Spanish Harlem, one of “the” voices and faces of the ’60s, is still going strong, voice and beehive intact.
I’d waited some years for this. I recall reading a review of one of Ronnie’s comebacks in the ’70s and vowing then to see her. I finally kept my promise to myself, event if it has taken me 40 or so years to do so. I had a ticket for a gig in Edinburgh a few years ago and it was sadly cancelled, so when this time round Ronnie came over for a full tour, calling at the Sage, I was determined to catch her while I can.
I went along wondering whether she would still be able to do it. I needn’t have worried. I am delighted to report that Ronnie Spector can perform, sing and hold an audience in the palm of her hand for an entire evening.
The concert was a run through Ronnie’s life. Between each song she sat down and told a little story, illustrated by some great images and videos shown on a big screen above the stage. The balance between stories and songs was just right, as was the way in which Ronnie told the stories. Sometimes these shows sound like name dropping. This one didn’t; it worked really well. Her band consisted of three girls (who could be the young Ronettes) in red taffeta dresses, and a drum/ guitar/ bass/ organ/ sax combo. Perfect. She looked great, sporting the biggest hairdo you can imagine.
First up was the Ronettes classic “Baby I Love You”. Ronnie explained how the young girls were just desperate to sing and dance, telling a story of how they lined up at the door of the Peppermint Lounge, were mistaken for the dancers, were invited in and then bravely took to the stage with no rehearsal. Of course, they knocked the crowd out and it everything started. Cue “Keep on Dancing” followed by “What’d I Say”. Next Ronnie told us how she loved DooWop, which led into “I’m so Young” by early DooWop group the Students. We then moved to the UK and the Ronettes first tour of this country, on which they were supported by the Rolling Stones. “Time is on My Side” was sung in front of a picture of herself with Brian Jones and Keith Richards. Pure magic. The next couple of songs showcased great songwriters: “Is that what I get for Loving You?” by Goffin and King and “Paradise” by Harry Nilsson. Ronnie next celebrated another major milestone in the lady’s career: a video of the Ronettes first US TV appearance on American bandstand followed by the song they sang on the show all those years ago: “Do I Love You”, followed by “You Baby” and “Chapel of Love”. For the next two songs Ronnie paid tribute to one great lady singer who was a friend; and another who was her sister and a great influence. For “Walking in the Rain”, Ronnie talked about Dusty Springfield who she shared a dressing room with in the late ’60s. And for “(the best part of) Breakin’ Up” she told us about her sister Estelle who lived the Ronettes journey with her.
Ronnie explained how she left showbiz in the late ’60s to return in the ’70s. “I wish I never saw the sunshine” was followed by “You can’t put your arms around a Memory” which was written for her by Johnny Thunders, andrecorded with Joey Ramone. “Back to Black” paid tribute to Amy Winehouse who was, undoubtedly, influenced by Ronnie.
Next was the song I had been waiting for all night. “Be My Baby” sounded just great; still powerful; not at all cheesy. For encores we got an early Christmas in the form of “Frosty the Snowman” and the Ronettes last single, the Beach Boys “I Can Hear Music”.
A class act. It was great to witness a legend who for once truly lived up to expectations, and much more.

The Who Hyde Park London 26th June 2015

The Who Hyde Park London 26th June 2015
thewhoThe Who. Hyde Park. London. 50 years. David, Shauna and I scrored some cheap tickets outside. It don’t get much better. We enter the park and catch the end of PUl Weller’s set. 65,000 people sing along to opener Can’t Explain and we are all off on our own Amazing Journey. The hits just keep coming: The Seeker, I Can See for Miles, The Kids are Alright, Pictures of Lily (for special guest Weller, Roger tells us). What happened to Substitute? Never mind; we can’t always get we we want. Pete is on top form, windmill arm twirling and swirling. Roger’s voice is strong; the songs still sound fresh even after all this time, particularly with the Hyde park choir helping them along. Roger and Pete seem genuinely pleased to be back home playing in London, just a few miles from where it all started. “We are the Mods” sing the old guys behind us. £22 for a bottle of Pino Grigio; are they having a laugh? Class visuals take us through Tommy and Quadrophenia, with lots of shots of Keith and the Ox. Won’t Get Fooled Again closes it, after which Pete and Roger spend quite a few minutes thanking everyone. thewhohydepark2015We wait around but there is no encore (what happened to Magic Bus?). Musn’t be greedy. My 20th Who show, and if this really was the last time that I’ll see this great band, it was a pretty excellent show on which to finish my Who journey.
Setlist:I Can’t Explain; The Seeker; Who Are You; The Kids Are Alright; Pictures of Lily; I Can See for Miles; My Generation; Behind Blue Eyes; Bargain; Join Together; You Better You Bet; I’m One; Love, Reign O’er Me; Eminence Front; Amazing Journey; Sparks; Pinball Wizard; See Me, Feel Me; Baba O’Riley; Won’t Get Fooled Again