Posts Tagged ‘rock’

Chrissie Hynde sings Bob Dylan at the Royal Opera House London live stream event 26 December 2021

CHRISSY 0Chrissie Hynde is clearly, like many of us, a Bob Dylan fan. I had not realised it but she had the privilege of singing Dylan’s classic “Leopardskin Pillbox Hat” alongside the great man himself in Wembley Stadium, London on his 1984 tour which I caught at St James’s Park, Newcastle. She has recently, in May 2021, released an album Standing in the Doorway: Chrissie Hynde Sings Bob Dylan. This live concert took place on the evening of 26 December, Boxing Day, in the beautiful surroundings of the Royal Opera House, London and was live streamed via VEEPS, the very same streaming platform that hosted (and on which I watched) Bob Dylan’s Shadow Kingdom show last July.

CHRISSY 5Chrissie’s band for the evening consisted of Pretenders guitarist James Walbourne, with Carwyn Ellis on keyboards and Danny Williams on upright bass. Chrissie sat on a stool in the middle of the band, playing acoustic guitar. The band sat quite closely, almost intimately, together centre stage surrounded by beautiful Christmas lights, chandeliers and a Christmas tree. Lovely!

This was not your standard Bob Dylan tribute set. Chrissie didn’t play safe by performing a set of his best-known songs. Indeed, there were several songs which I did not recognise at all. Those that I did recognise included “Blind Willie McTell”, “Love Minus Zero/No Limit” and “Every Grain of Sand”. Each song was performed acoustically with great guitar work from James CHRISSY 4Walbourne and equally well performed keyboards and double bass. Chrissie was on fine form. Her voice sounded as strong as ever and she was clearly enjoying every second of the experience. Dressed casually in a T-shirt “Don’t Pet Me – I’m Performing”! and the usual jeans and knee-high leather boots, she looked every part the lady rockstar that she always has done, since I first saw her in Newcastle Mayfair at the start of The Pretenders life. At one point Hynde admonished a lady in the audience “Switch Off That Phone”; only to have to apologise at the end of the song, when she realised the phone flash she thought she had seen was in fact the Exit sign flashing across her eyes! You couldn’t make it up!

CHRISSY 2Having completed the Dylan set, Chrissie moved on to a couple of songs which she announced as being composed by another great writer Ray Davies (a former beau) rather than announce them as Pretenders songs: “I Go to Sleep” and (my favourite) “Stop Your Sobbing”, which took me right back to those early days when she was first starting out as a musician and artist. These were the highlights of the show for me.

The band then moved on to a few songs that Chrissie had written with guitarist James Walbourne. These songs appeared on the Pretenders most recent album Hate for SaleCHRISSY 3, and were intertwined with a great version of the Hoagy Carmichael classic “I Get Along Without You Very Well” for which she put down her guitar, picked up the microphone and stood stage front. The single encore was a song, which was new to me, by French singer-songwriter Charles Trenet: “Que Rèste-T-Il De Nos Amours?”, reading the lyrics from a piece of paper, which she often needed to consult! It seemed a strange choice, but also quite fitting and marked the end of a lovely evening spent (virtually) with the musical legend, that is Chrissie Hynde.

CHRISSY 6Setlist: In the Summertime; You’re a Big Girl Now; Standing in the Doorway; Sweetheart Like You; Blind Willie McTell; Love Minus Zero/No Limit; Don’t Fall Apart on Me Tonight; Tomorrow Is a Long Time; Every Grain of Sand; I Go to Sleep; Stop Your Sobbing; Maybe Love Is in NYC; You Can’t Hurt a Fool; Crying in Public; I Get Along Without You Very Well; (You Don’t Know) How Glad I Am

Encore: Que Rèste-T-Il De Nos Amours?

Rick Wakeman Sage Gateshead 16 December 2021

I first came across Rick Wakeman when he was a member of The Strawbs. My good friend, Tony, had arick6 21 copy of the album Just a Collection of Antiques and Curios, which was recorded live at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in 1970. Rick features on the album and his distinctive neoclassical piano playing is evident throughout the record. We would sit and listen to the album again and again. I now have my own copy and played it the other night to remind myself of Rick’s early work. I next came across him when I first saw him live at Newcastle City Hall in 1972, when he had just joined Yes. I’ve been a fan and follower ever since and have seen him several times in different incarnations of Yes and on his epic solo tours including seeing him perform albums such as The Six Wives of Henry VIII.

rick2 21This tour was a Grumpy Old Man Christmas tour, incorporating Rick playing a selection of his own work, famous songs that he played keyboards on as a session musician, Christmas tunes, some Grumpy Old Man stories and anecdotes and a short question-and-answer interlude. The show was in two parts, each one hour duration, with a short interval in between.

I arrived just in time to catch the start of the performance, with my carer Jackie and we met up with my daughter Laura. Rick started on his grand piano with a couple of Christmas carols followed by a wonderful performance of “Morning Has Broken” on which he performed piano for Cat Stevens. This was followed by a selection of short segments from his albums, including the aforementioned Six Wives of Henry VIII, the latter performed on keyboards. He also performed a great instrumental version of the Yes classic “And You and I”.

rick prog 21The stage was set out very Christmassy with a lovely, lit Christmas tree towards the back, between the grand piano and keyboards. In between the music Rick told some quite funny stories (some quite inappropriate), largely about the problems of getting old and some lovely stories about how his entire village comes together for a Christmas party/musical evening. It sounds a great village to live in! He reminisced about his good friends, both sadly passed, and both also excellent keyboard players Jon Lord and Keith Emerson. He told a funny story about how he went to a small awards ceremony with Keith Emerson, and Keith got locked in the toilet. Then Rick climbed in over the top from the cubicle next door, and they both smashed the door outward in order to escape, much to the amusement of other celebrities who were in the gents at the time. There was then a short interval, during which I partook in a (tiny) miniature bottle of orange gin, which I had won in a charity raffle at Laura’s school. Unfortunately, I found the gin rather sickly (yak).

rick1 21The second half took a similar format, starting with “Jingle Bells” and “Away in a Manger” followed by some more of Rick’s own compositions. Then the question and answer section. On entry to the hall you could pick up a card on which to write a question for Rick. On this occasion, I chose not to do so. However plenty of people did ask questions and Rick selected a few to answer. Two I recall in particular. First someone asked a question about Yes and Rick threw the card to the floor, signifying (I assume) his feelings about the current version of the band, which does not include any original members and neither Rick nor Jon Anderson (arguably two of the most important musicians in the classic Yes lineup). Secondly someone asked when he first played Newcastle. He remembered that it was with The Strawbs in 1969 at Newcastle City Hall supporting Roy Harper. Now there’s a gig I wish I attended; but I was a little young at the time, sadly (my life is full of such regrets of shows I wish I attended). He then returned to the grand piano to play two wonderful songs he played on with David Bowie: “Space Oddity” and “Life on Mars”. Simply exquisite. He concluded the performance with a couple of songs which he did not play on, but which are particular favourites of his; the Beatles “Help!” and “Eleanor Rigby”, performed in the style of classical composers. Our taxi was due so we left at this point; however as we were leaving the hall we could hear Rick performing “Silent Night”. A fitting end to a wonderful Christmas performance by an excellent musician and all-round funny guy. This was my last gig of 2021 and a great end to my concert year.

rick3 21Setlist: Set 1: When a Child Is Born; O Holy Night; Morning Has Broken; Jane Seymour; Gone but Not Forgotten; Catherine of Aragon; Catherine Howard; And You and I; The Last Battle; Merlin the Magician

Set 2: Jingle Bells / Away in a Manger; The Dance of a Thousand Lights; Sea Horses; Space Oddity; Life on Mars?; Help!; Eleanor Rigby

Encore: Silent Night

Dave Stewart Sunderland Empire 10 September 2017

dave3Somehow this blog entry got lost in my memory. Anyway, I am putting things right by making the entry now. Dave Stewart had promised to come and play the Sunderland Empire a few years earlier; tickets were put on sale, but for some reason the concert was cancelled. At the time he promised to rearrange it, and true to his word, sure enough a couple of years later the concert was readvertised as below:

“The legendary co-founder of Eurythmics, Dave Stewart is coming home in a live concert celebrating his 65th birthday live at Sunderland Empire, for one night only.  

Dave Stewart says “I’m looking forward to playing lots of the hit songs I’ve written over the years in the legendary Sunderland Empire. I was born and grew up in Sunderland and have many great memories about my life there (I’m sure more will come flooding back). I was a struggling musician as a teenager in Sunderland so I chose to invite the three young local bands below to perform before me.””

The local bands Social Room, Lilliput and Picnic were all invited by Dave Stewart to be support acts for the concert.

Dave performed with his Nashville all-star players, each of whom had a very strong and illustrious pedigree: Chad Cromwell (Drums, previously played for Neil Young, Stevie Nicks, Mark Knopfler, Joe Walsh), Tom Bukovac (Guitar – Hank Williams Jr., Sheryl Crow, Don Henley), Dan Dugmore (Steel Guitar – Linda Ronstadt, James Taylor, Stevie Nicks, Loretta Lynn) and Michael Rhodes (Bass – Martina McBride, Buddy Guy, Lady Antebellum).

dave2I have lots of fond memories of seeing Dave Stewart in many incarnations. First, in local folk rock band Longdancer at Sunderland Locarno in the early 1970s. Then, some years on, with Annie Lennox in the Tourists again at Sunderland Locarno, at Newcastle City Hall and at the Reading Festival. Further on in his career, I was lucky enough to see Eurythmics perform at Newcastle City Hall. I also recall seeing Dave Stewart join Fergal Sharkey on stage for an encore at Newcastle City Hall, on Fergal’s first solo tour after leaving the Undertones. I think the last time I saw Dave Stewart before the Sunderland Empire concert was with Ringo Starr at the opening of the Capital of Culture in Liverpool, which was also the opening concert at the new venue, Liverpool Arena.

Dave Stewart has done pretty well for a lad from Sunderland. He has sold in excess of 100 million albums worldwide. He has also played with some of the biggest names in the business. It is great that he remembers his roots, and this return home concert was much anticipated by the people of Sunderland.

It was very fitting that he invited three local bands to support him in his homecoming show. They did a great job of warming up the crowd for the main act; the man himself. His entrance was preceded by local singer-songwriter Marty Longstaff, otherwise known as the Lake Poets, and the son of two good friends. Marty performed a number written about his hometown “City by the Sea”, a fitting precursor to Dave Stewart’s performance. Stewart has recently produced Marty’s album in Nashville.

Stewart took to the stage with his Nashville band and performed three numbers of his own, which were unfamiliar to me, but sounded just great: “So Long Ago”, “The Beast Called Fame” and “Magic in the Blues”. Stewart was very much “The Ringmaster”. Although I was sitting at the end of hero towards the front, I still had a great view as he prowled backwards and forwards along the front of the stage. Dave Stewart then took us through a selection from his extensive back catalogue, joined by guest singers throughout. This included several Eurythmics songs with a female vocalist performing Annie Lenox’s vocals faultlessly.

dave1Between the songs Stewart told stories of his memories of Sunderland in the 60s. It was great to hear him speak so fondly of our city. Guests included Diane Birch who took her position on piano and delivered a wonderful version of the Eurythmics classic track “There Must Be an Angel (Playing with My Heart)”. Johnny Borrell, from Razorlight sang “Don’t Come around Here No More” a song which Dave Stewart wrote with Tom Petty, no less.

Then came a big surprise, and one which was very fitting for the evening. The Easington Colliery Brass Band, who had become part of Stewarts band for the evening, performed his song written about his hometown “This Little Town”. Wonderful. Then the aforementioned Marty Longstaff joined Stewart for a great rendition of the Eurythmics song “When The Day Goes Down”.

The evening was brought to a close with everyone on stage singing “Sweet Dreams”. By now the entire Empire crowd was up on its feet, singing along. A great evening with a Sunderland legend! Bought myself a signed book as a momento of the evening.

Michael Schenker Newcastle City Hall 29 October 2021

“Doctor doctor, please oh, the mess I’m in
She walked up to me and really stole my heart” (UFO, 1974)

shenker tixBear with me while I reminisce a little. I am in Sunderland Locarno in 1974. A band I have seen several times before, UFO, appear with a new guitarist. This guy is young, German, and with very long blonde hair playing a Gibson Flying V. His name is Michael Schenker and he is on the first steps of the ladder taking him towards legendary guitar hero status. He has left an up-and-coming German band The Scorpions to join UFO. He looks cool; just great. He comes with a bunch of new songs he has written with the band. One of them, “Doctor Doctor”, starts off with a quiet, swirling guitar introduction which soon builds up into a rocky song. This song becomes one of my favourites of all time and the signature tune for UFO, who go on to great success in the years to follow. I see them, and enjoy them, many times. They become one of my favourite bands of all time. Schenker is a guitar hero and also temperamental. In 1978 he walks out on UFO.

shenk 1I am in Newcastle City Hall in 1978. Schenker has rejoined The Scorpions for a short period, reuniting with his brother Rudolf Schenker. The City Hall is packed, surprisingly I thought as this band were still largely unknown in the UK, and they were sensational.

My relationship with, and admiration for, Michael Schenker continues over the years. I watch him perform in his own band MSG, at the City Hall, several times in the early 1980s and he is always great. He surrounds himself with top-class musicians including Chris Glen from The Sensational Alex Harvey Band, drummer Cozy Powell and former UFO bandmate Paul Raymond, among many others. Schenker then rejoins UFO for a short time and sadly descends into a period of erratic performances fuelled by alcohol and drug addiction.

He then reappears with many different incarnations of the Michael Schenker group. My next encounter with him was many years later at the Sage Gateshead, when the man was on top form again.

Roll forward to 2021 and I am in the City Hall again with my carer Lisa (thanks for the photographs: some great images) about to witness another evening with the legend that is Michael Schenker. We arrive just in time to catch the last couple of numbers by shenk3support act Doro, former female lead singer with heavy rock band Warlock, with long blonde hair and resplendent in black leathers and chains, getting the crowd suitably warmed up with some great heavy rock including, showing her influences, a great version of Judas Priest’s “Breaking the Law”! Class!

After a short break and a suitably cool pint of Carling (no Guinness on sale) we are treated to two hours of classic Schenker with the guitar wizard taking us through a tour of his back catalogue. Michael looks just great; fit, slender and wearing a great furry hat, playing his usual Gibson Flying V. After couple of unfamiliar, but great, opening songs we are right back to the past and the aforementioned “Doctor Doctor”. It really doesn’t get any better. The evening continues to rock onward with Schenker on brilliant form, played some excellent guitar histrionics.

Michael has assembled a great band of musicians including excellent front man vocalist Ronnie Romero, who recently fronted Ritchie Blackmore’s reformed Rainbow.

Lots and lots of great UFO songs follow: “Lights out”; I used to always love it when they sang “Lights out in Newcastle” instead of “Lights out in London” and this always got a great cheer from the home crowd. No such change of lyrics tonight but still a great shenk2song. Then “Rock Bottom”, “Shoot Shoot”, “Too Hot to Handle” and closing song “Only You Can Rock Me”. Fantastic. A great band, excellent UFO classic songs, and a wonderful performance by Michael Schenker on top form. It made an old man happy.

My taxi is waiting and takes me back home and Chris and Lisa set me back in the bed with strains of “Doctor Doctor” still ringing in my ears and around my head. A great night. Happy days and happy memories.

SETLIST: Ascension; Cry for the Nations; Doctor Doctor; Sleeping With the Lights On; Assault Attack; We Are the Voice; Looking for Love; Warrior; Into the Arena; In Search of the Peace of Mind; Red Sky; Lights Out; After the Rain; Armed and Ready; Sail the Darkness; Rock You to the Ground; Drilled to Kill; Rock Bottom; Shoot Shoot; Let It Roll; Natural Thing; Too Hot to Handle; Only You Can Rock Me

 

 

The Jesus and Mary Chain Newcastle Mayfair 9 September 1987

jesus 1So, the conversation went like this. Laura: “Dad I thought you said you saw The Jesus and Mary Chain?” Me: “Yes. I’m sure I saw them at Newcastle Mayfair.” Laura: “Well it is not on your blog.” Me: “I must’ve forgotten about it. I shall add it!”

Now when I wrote my blog I took it from tickets, programmes and my memory. And somehow, I had forgotten this one. Not surprising; my memory is not great. I went straight to eBay and what did I find, but a ticket for the show which I quickly purchased. I had no ticket so presumably must’ve handed it in on the night. I heard a lot about this band and how legendary they were. I read the following on their official site:

“Few bands have had such a huge effect on musical culture, as The Jesus And Mary Chain. Their attitude alone, dressed in black, angry with the world, playing short sets drenched in feedback, set the bench mark in the post-Sex Pistols music scene of London. Their seminal debut album Psychocandy would go on to change the course of popular music, channeling the sneering angst and noise distortion of the live shows into hypnotic sweet melodies layered with dark lyrics that would beguile and bewilder. Released into the world, The Jesus And Mary Chain became the darlings of British press, as they searched to find the owner of the post punk crown in the mid 80’s.”

Pretty impressive! Now did my memories live up to this?

It was a Wednesday night and I had heard quite a lot about The Jesus and Mary Chain. So, I decided to go along, by myself, to the Mayfair to see what they were like. I recall stark black-and-white lighting and lots and lots of drums and noise. I would like to say I was blown away by the birth of grunge, but the truth is my memory of the concert is quite sketchy. I remember thinking that they were different, loud, stark, very “in your face” and quite scary in a way. I wasn’t familiar with the material but enjoyed the show and came away quite impressed. I have since watched some of their material on YouTube, such as “Kill Surf City“, which completely drags the Jan and Dean classic through punk into grunge and wish I could go back and watch the gig again!

Setlist: In a Hole; Fall; You Trip Me Up; Happy When It Rains; Cherry Came Too; Nine Million Rainy Days; Just Like Honey; The Hardest Walk; April Skies; The Living End; Taste of Cindy; Everything’s Alright When You’re Down. Encore: Kill Surf City; Never Understand

Genesis Newcastle Arena 30 September 2021

“”Can you tell me where my country lies?” said the unifaun to his true love’s eyes.” Dancing with the Moonlit Knight (Genesis 1973)

GENESIS TIXSo Genesis emerged one more time, for a final tour of the world. The band has retained its massive popularity over the years and sold out two nights at the vast Newcastle Arena. I went along on the first night, intrigued to see how my old heroes would perform after all these years.

It is more than 50 years since I first saw Genesis and, for me, the original prog rock group is still the best incarnation of the band. However, you have to hand it to Phil Collins who with old sidekicks (and only remaining original members) Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford took Genesis to even greater heights than those achieved by the Peter Gabriel version of the band. Now the set list looked promising and tempting. Earlier performances revealed that the band were playing quite a few old tracks including “the Lamb lies GENESIS 1Down on Broadway”, “I Know What I like”, “Carpet Crawlers” and excerpts from “Dancing with the Moonlit Knight” and, once or twice, even “The Musical Box”. Now these songs represent the true soul of the band for me. I dream of them playing “The Knife” as the encore, but I knew this was not to be.

Phil Collins is clearly not well. You have to admire him. Earlier reviews and YouTube videos reveal that he spends the evening seated, singing but not drumming. The drum stool is now taken by his son who, apparently, does a great job and does his father justice.

So on Thursday I went along to the arena with my carer Jackie, both of us carrying our Covid passes on our phones to prove we had been double jabbed. As it happened, we were not actually asked to produce these. We took our seats on the disabled platform close to the front of the auditorium with a great view GENESIS 5of the stage. Having read all the reviews I knew what to expect, the band were due on stage at 8 PM with a 10:30 PM finish and no interval. It took some time to check all of the crowd into the arena and thus Genesis did not take the stage until around 8:15 PM.

Jackie went off to purchase a large glass of red wine for me. For some strange reason, the bar staff interpreted this as a bottle of red! Big mistake and too much temptation for me. The wine went down nicely, just as the performance progressed well also. Soon the band were on stage, Phil Collins not walking well (using a stick) and taking his seat at the front of the stage flanked by companions Mike Rutherford on bass and guitar to his left and Tony Banks on keyboards to his right. Phil’s son was behind the three front men, on his raised drum platform. The rest of the band comprised vocalists and long-term guitarist Darryl Streumer.

GENESIS 2The light show was pretty amazing, with massive video screens behind the band showing each of the performers “up close”. They started with an instrumental and then it was straight into the hits “Turn It on Again”, “Mama” and “Land of Confusion”. Now these songs were never my favourites, but on the night they sounded just great and Phil Collins did an excellent job on vocals. But for me it was the old Genesis that remained the best. So I particularly enjoyed “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway” and, of course, “I Know What I like”. It always surprised me, and still does, how similar Phil Collins voice can be to that of Peter Gabriel. I remember the first time I saw Genesis with Phil Collins as lead vocalist, at Glasgow Apollo, I was amazed how well he took on the mantle of front man and recreated Gabriel’s singing parts. Of course, he always took on some backing vocals duties, even in the early days, so perhaps it wasn’t so surprising. Anyway, he certainly did justice to the old classics which took me back 40 odd years. Before we knew it we were on the home stretch, with more hits such as “Throwing It All away” and the closing song “Invisible Touch”. Excellent. And somehow my bottle of wine was now almost empty and I felt pretty merry (to say the least).

Soon they returned to play “I Can’t Dance”, a short excerpt from the wonderful “Dancing with the Moonlit Knight” and closing with “The Carpet Crawlers”. A triumphant return by an excellent band with a twisting,GENESIS 4 turning history that has taken them from prog rock heroes to almost middle-of-the-road pop/rock stars. And a particularly triumphant performance by Phil Collins, who clearly in ill-health, pulled off a magnificent showing. If this was to be the last time, then they couldn’t go out any better.

The taxi ride home was a bit of a blur, courtesy of the expensive (but cheap) red wine, as was being put back in the bed by Jackie and Chris. Similarly the blur and sickly feeling continued into the next day, as did the memories of Genesis. No more bottles of red wine for me!

GENESIS PROGSetlist: Behind the Lines / Duke’s End; Turn It On Again; Mama; Land of Confusion; Home by the Sea; Second Home by the Sea; Fading Lights; The Cinema Show; Afterglow; That’s All; The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway; Follow You Follow Me; Duchess; No Son of Mine; Firth of Fifth; I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe); Domino; Throwing It All Away; Tonight, Tonight, Tonight; Invisible Touch. Encore: I Can’t Dance; Dancing With the Moonlit Knight; The Carpet Crawlers. 

Many thanks to Jackie for taking the photographs.

Nick Cave and Warren Ellis Sage Gateshead 24 September 2021

Nick Cave is an enigma. A uniquely passionate, authentic performer. A preacher. A vampire. Someone nick 1whose fans are 100% devoted and committed to him. He’s all these things and more. So Laura, Dale, Jackie my carer and I went along with fellow pilgrims to experience the unique event that is a Nick Cave concert.

There was massive security around this concert. Not because of Covid, but rather because of Nick Cave’s desire to ensure that no tickets were resold. His following has become larger and larger over the years and the inclusion of his song “Red Right Hand” as the theme tune to Peaky Blinders has opened up his music to a wider audience. So the Sage is now a small venue in which for Nick Cave to perform. His last tour, with his band The Bad Seeds, took in arenas around the country. So even with the majority of tickets having a hefty price of £93, the concert sold out very quickly. Thus, come the evening of the event, the lead booker had to turn up with the rest of the party, carrying photo ID and proof of address. A check was made that nick 2these matched the details on the tickets and we were all issued with wristbands before we could gain entry.

This time Nick was accompanied by Bad Seeds guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Warren Ellis, he of the manic electric violin, mesmerising keys and crazy beard. The duo were augmented by three vocalists and a bass player. Now Laura and I have both seen Nick Cave several times before, both solo and with The Bad Seeds, and we are familiar with most of his more well-known songs. However, this time many of the songs were unfamiliar to us. Nick was very much in the preacher mode, alternating between front of stage and his grand piano. There was no support act and they performed for almost 2 1/2 hours, without an interval. Nick was on great form, prowling stage front, NICK 2021 1dressed in his usual smart black suit and white shirt, jabbing at the front rows with his hands, his wiry frame moving swiftly from one end of the stage to the other. The songs were dark, doomy and delivered with the usual Cave passion. One particular highlight for me was a very emotional version of T Rex’s “Cosmic Dancer”. The crowd loved it, cheering him on and watching closely his every move. There is something about this man which commands respect and devotion unlike any other act. As usual, we left feeling we had just experienced something quite special. For a short couple of hours on 24 September 2021 in Sage Gateshead Hall 1, God was in the house.

Setlist: Spinning Song; Bright Horses; Night Raid; Carnage; White Elephant; Ghosteen; Lavender Fields; Waiting for You; I Need You; Cosmic Dancer (T. Rex); God Is In The House; Hand of God; Shattered Ground; Galleon Ship; Leviathan; Balcony Man.

Encore: Hollywood; Henry Lee.

Encore 2: Into My Arms; Ghosteen Speaks.

Thanks to Jackie for taking the photo

The Zombies live stream event on Veeps from Abbey Road studios 18 September 2021

VEEP ZOMBIES 1The concert had a few different segments, Including quite a few songs I knew well and others that I was hearing from the first time. The setting was the famous Abbey Road studios. It was great to see the band performing live in those legendary settings in front of a small audience which, I suspect, consisted of invited guests, relatives and friends. I am, of course, a great fan of both Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone and have seen them many times in various incarnations of their bands including the Zombies, Colin solo, Argent, Rod solo and Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone as a duo. Rod Argent is a fantastic organist and keyboard player and Colin Blunstone has a very distinctive voice: strong, yet soft at the same time.

In the current incarnation of the Zombies, Rod and Colin are joined by (I believe) Steve Rodford – drums, Tom Toomey – guitar and Søren Koch – this guitar. Steve Rodford is the son of the late, sadly missed, bass player Jim Romford who was a founding member of Argent and also a long-term member of The Kinks and of course, the Zombies.

veeps zombies 2The opening song, which I didn’t know was great, an excellent piece of British RnB, blues influenced music. British bands of the early sixties have such an honest approach to blues and rock and roll. Rod Argent’s electric piano was particularly good. The band then went on to play several songs that are great, but unfamiliar to me. They were a mixture of old and new. One song in particular was interesting. Although I didn’t recognise the song, they announced that Tom Petty had covered it and so they went on to play “their own cover of a Tom Petty cover of a Zombies song”. Colin Blunstone also performed the haunting hit song of his “so you don’t mind”; written by Denny Laine. This was followed by a few songs featuring a string quartet which added an additional dimensional and texture to the music.

This was followed by a short selection of songs from the Odyssey and Oracle album. Now I love this album so hearing four songs from it was just great. The final song of the four was, as you would expect, the wonderful US hit “Time of the Season”, which still amazes me to this day. The use of breathy vocals and clapping around the main song is unique and gets me every time.

veeps zombies 3The next segment contained new songs which featured excellent playing by Rod Argent and strong vocals from Colin Blunstone. We were then on the home strait and into Argent’s “Hold Your Head up”, which still gives me great memories of dancing on the tables when seeing Argent back in the early 1970s at Sunderland Top Rank. Finally, the best was, as it should be, kept to the last and we were treated to “She’s Not There” which still sounds fresh since I first heard it in the 1960s.

Many thanks to my old friend and colleague Ciaran, from Limerick, who also watched the event and allowed me to use some of his words in my review above. Ciaran summed up the last couple of songs well: “I know ‘Hold your Head Up’ of course, but the live version was terrific – I much preferred it to the record: the organ solos were great here. The band was in great form on this one, and again on ‘She’s Not There’ which worked really well too, more great instrumental breaks.”

The set closed with an encore; a moving duet of Colin and Rod which rounded off the evening well. I’m quite getting to like live streaming events. Of course, they are not the same as “the real thing”, but they have a unique attraction of their own. My next live streaming event is to watch Paul McCartney being veeps zombies4interviewed about his Lyrics book at the Southbank Centre, London. Now, in the past before my accident, I would have been tempted to travel to London for this event. This is now no longer very practical for me, so live streaming allows me to “be there” virtually, which is the next best thing. The other great thing about some live streaming events is that I can watch them the next day, or again, if I wish.

To summarise, a great performance by a classic 1960s band with two legendary and very accomplished musicians. The 1960s produced some unique, excellent music which lives on to this day.

Setlist: Moving On; I Want You Back Again; Edge of the Rainbow; I Love You; Say You Don’t Mind; Different Game; You Could Be My Love; I Want to Fly; Tell Her No; Care of Cell 44; This Will Be Our Year; I Want Her She Wants Me; Time of the Season; Merry Go Round; Run Away (For All My Life); Hold Your Head Up; She’s Not There. Encore: The Way I Feel Inside

Patti Smith Veeps live stream from Electric Lady Studios 10 September 2021 2 AM BST!!

patti lady tixThis was (I think) my third live streaming event by Patti Smith. This was a little bit special as it was billed as a one-off live streaming event (no re-watching afterwards) from the famous Electric Lady Studios. There was one problem. It was at 2 AM BST (British Standard Time). Now my days of being awake, or getting up, at 2 AM are well past. I am just too old for this lark! It was different when I was younger and I was lying in a station bench in King’s Cross, Edinburgh Waverley or Victoria, but these days this was a real test of strength and willpower. Anyway, a little against my better judgement, I bought my ticket from Veeps. On the night before the event I drank my usual evening tipple, one can of draught Guinness, and went to sleep around 10 PM. At 1:45 AM my carer for the evening, Chris, woke me up, perched the computer above me in bed and switched it on ready for the show to start.

patti lady 3The event was billed as: “Patti Smith returns to Veeps for a very special collaboration with Electric Lady Studios and Spotify: streaming from the legendary recording facility on September 9th. A message from Patti “We are very proud to be part of this very special series at our favourite recording studio. It was a unique challenge and offered us an exciting and innovative platform”.”

This was particularly interesting and tempting because of the venue. Electric Lady Studios is a famous recording studio in Greenwich Village, New York City. It was commissioned by Jimi Hendrix in 1968. Hendrix spent only ten weeks recording in Electric Lady before his death in 1970, but it was later used by many famous artists from the 1970s onwards, including Led Zeppelin, Stevie Wonder, and David Bowie.

Patti has recently recorded a short album at Electric Lady Studios, and this event was a live performance of that album.

So, there I was, now fully awake and alert, waiting for Patti Smith to appear. It is always interesting at these live streaming events reading the chat box to see who else is watching alongside me (metaphorically). So, I notice messages such as “hello Patti from Tokyo”, “hi from London”, “hi there from Berlin”, “waiting for you Patti, from New York”, and so on… You get the idea.

patti lady 1Soon Patti did appear and we were treated to a great performance of the songs from the album. The aforementioned album contains a selection of old Patti Smith’s songs and some covers including a wonderful version of Dylan’s “One Too Many Mornings”. The lady was on top form and was backed by her usual musicians including long-time collaborator Lenny Kaye. Great! Now, a few people in the chat box were questioning whether the performance was really live or pre-recorded. To be honest, the way the songs blended from one to the next did feel like a pre-recorded performance and Patti had little to say on the evening. However, to me it didn’t matter; it was still another opportunity to see the great lady performing at her best. The set was short, matching the length of the album. Some people in the chat seemed disappointed at this. Me, I was quite satisfied, and in some ways, a little relieved that I could return to my sleep; dreams of Patti Smith live swirling around in my head. I awoke the next morning, a little tired, but actually none the worse for my experience.

patti lady 2Setlist: April Fool; Ghost Dance; Blame it on the Sun; Broken Flag; Birdland; One Too Many Mornings; Peaceable Kingdom

Showaddywaddy Sunderland Locarno 15 November 1974

showad 2Now this really is a guilty pleasure! For a few weeks in 1973 and 1974, Friday night at Sunderland Locarno became a pop night, rather than the usual progressive rock night. During those times I remember seeing the Bay City Rollers, Mud, Hot Chocolate (I have previously written about these bands), and the Rubettes (I will write about them soon). There may have been others, I don’t remember. Many of my friends decided to pass on these events, however, I decided to go along, partly out of interest, to see what the bands were like, and secretly out of fun because I actually enjoyed many pop bands. One other band I saw around this time was Showaddywaddy.

From the band’s biography on their official website: “Showaddywaddy were formed in 1973 in Leicester, from two groups, Choise and Golden Hammers…. Choise and The Hammers played regularly far and wide across the UK… during early 1973, the bands got up on stage together to play a rock ‘n’ roll revue” which became Showaddywaddy.

In 1973, Showaddywaddy appeared on the TV programme New Faces, which, as many of us will recall was a sort of Opportunity Knocks – type show where various acts performed (often including solo vocalists, groups and comedians) and a winner was eventually selected. Showaddywaddy was successful in winning one episode, and then went on to be runners-up in the “All Winners Final”.

Showaddywaddy released their first single “Hey Rock ‘n’ Roll” in April 1974 and it reached number 2 in the UK charts. After that they went from success to success, hitting the UK charts another 22 times until late 1982, making them one of the most successful UK singles groups of all time. Their style was a mix of originals and covers, rock ‘n’ roll and doo-wop.

showad 2As I recall when I saw them, which was quite early in their career, there were a lot of members on stage with two vocalists, two bass players and two drummers. They wore full Teddy Boy gear with colourful drape jackets and crêpe sole shoes (I remember once buying a pair in the late 70s during the punk era) and were lots of fun. There was lots of dancing, both by the band and the audience, and lots of good old – time rock ‘n’ roll and doo-wop. Great stuff. Of course, I stood in the bar, playing it cool, peering down at this stage, secretly enjoying the whole proceedings. I would not admit this to my friends at the time. How silly it was to be so snobbish about certain bands/groups (when did groups become bands?). But that’s how it was at the time. My recollections are patchy but are of lots of colour, lots of dancing and great fun music by a fun band. After that Showaddywaddy went on to greater fame, no longer playing clubs and ballrooms, moving upward to filling concert halls such as Newcastle City Hall. I remember that they often performed at Sunderland Empire. But of course I was too “cool” to go along and see them again. What a silly boy I was!

“At their peak, they were doing 200 gigs a year, often gigging 7 days a week, and playing both matinee and evening performances on the same day.”

As usual, I just had to go onto eBay and buy a copy of their album Showaddywaddy to remind myself of the band and their singles (see images). It brought back memories of my youth and of all their hits and how they were always on Top of the Pops. Showaddywaddy continue to perform and tour to this day. There have been many line-up changes over the years; however the current version of the band consists of only one remaining original member, Romeo Challenger, the drummer. They continue to rock their way around the UK and Europe and will soon hit their 50th anniversary, in 2023.