“The Mac is back” said Mick Fleetwood. And this time it’s the real thing. With the return of Christine McVie, Fleetwood Mac are running on full power again. I’d forgotten just how important Christine is to this band. I’d enjoyed seeing the four piece Mac (Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, John McVie, Mick Fleetwood) over the past ten or so years, but the last time I saw this classic 70s line-up was way back ‘in the day’ on the Rumours tour. Christine’s return has breathed new life into the band. McVie and Fleetwood provide, as always, the perfect relentless beat; a canvas of rhythm on which Lindsey, Stevie and Christine paint their stories of angst, passion and lost love. Lindsey is the hyper dynamic egocentric child, screaming for our attention; annoying yet endearing himself to us through a series of excellent guitar solos and rock star poses. Stevie is the gypsy, the wild mysterious hippie rock chick. She is singing better than ever and morphs effortlessly from the witch Rhiannon, into the twirling mystical Gypsy still living the dream that started when she and young boyfriend Lyndsey supported Hendrix in the 60s, to the scary old Gold Dust Woman creeping around a dark stage. And Christine; so cool, calm and back with her friends, her family. I’d forgotten how many great song she wrote for Fleetwood Mac, many of which she sang for us. A great performance by a truly classic band
“A blistering two hour and 20 minute set from the classic (yes, that word is ENTIRELY appropriate) Rumours-era line-up elicits one of the most passionate responses I have seen from an audience in my life” (Yorkshire Evening Post)
Setlist: The Chain; You Make Loving Fun; Dreams; Second Hand News; Rhiannon; Everywhere; I Know I’m Not Wrong; Tusk; Sisters of the Moon; Say You Love Me; Big Love; Landslide; Never Going Back Again; Over My Head; Gypsy; Little Lies; Gold Dust Woman; I’m So Afraid; Go Your Own Way
Encore: World Turning; Don’t Stop; Silver Springs
Encore 2: Songbird
The Who Hyde Park London 26th June 2015
The 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. We 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
The Moody Blues Newcastle City Hall 22nd June 2015
I foolishly passed the last couple of times that the Moody Blues came to Newcastle; so I figured that it was about time I made amends and caught up with them again. I’m pleased that I did. The set was similar to those that I’d enjoyed on past tours, but there seemed to be a new energy to the band. This went just old guys going through the motions; I could sense that they still enjoy playing. The sound was also sharper and clearer than in the past; I’ve attended a few Moody Blues concerts where the mix was murky, and it was difficult to pick out the vocals. Not this time. I could hear every word that Justin Hayward and John Lodge sang. Hayward’s guitar seemed louder and his playing more fluid than on previous occasions. It was also good to see Graeme Edge come to the front of stage and take the lead on Higher and Higher, with some nifty dad dancing and swift tambourine moves. Those songs from Days of Future Passed always get me. Tuesday Afternoon is just as powerful and classy as Nights in White Satin and it was good to hear Peak Hour. And a Moody Blues concert just isn’t complete unless they close with Question and encore with Ride My See-saw. Great to see them again.
“Cold hearted orb that rules the night, removes the colours from our sight. Red is grey, and yellow, white, but we decide which is right, and which is an illusion.” (The Day Begins, 1967).
Set 1: Gemini Dream; The Voice; Steppin’ in a Slide Zone; You and Me; Gypsy; Nervous; Say It With Love; Peak Hour; I Know You’re Out There Somewhere; The Story in Your Eyes
Set 2: Your Wildest Dreams; Isn’t Life Strange; Tuesday Afternoon; Higher and Higher; The Actor; I’m Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band); Late Lament; Nights in White Satin; Question
Encore: Ride My See-Saw
Patti Smith & Band play Horses Manchester Apollo 8th June 2015
I hate the M62. There are always roadworks, traffic jams or accidents. Well this day was no different. Laura and I left home at 3.30pm; plenty of time (I thought) to drive the 130 miles or so to Manchester to see Patti Smith later that evening. I should have known better. The overhead motorway signs and the radio traffic alerts soon revealed what was in store for us. There had been an accident on the M62; and the westbound carriageway was closed between junctions 24 and 21. I checked, yup, just as I had feared; this would affect us. I started to plan alternative routes; but the traffic alerts warned me that they were all snarled up too. So off down the M62 it was. As we reached junction 24 we joined the queue; which filled every lane. It was around 5.30pm. By 7pm we had reached the junction and we were diverted off the motorway, still nose to tail in a queue of cars which was hardly moving. I decided to leave the queue and try to make my own way to Manchester. We headed into the centre of Huddersfield, then followed signs to Oldham and over Saddleworth moor into Manchester. We arrived in the city around 8pm, just as Patti was due on stage. By 8.10pm we were parked up and in the Apollo. As we took our seats Patti and the band walked onto the stage. “Jesus died for somebody’s sins but not mine ….” “G L O R I A” Woh we were off ….In an instant the stress of the journey disappeared. The Patti Smith Group was on stage and rocking. I was transported back to the ’70s; and the days when I first heard “Horses”. “Free Money” and “Gloria” were always my favourites; but last Monday every track sounded classic. Patti was on fire, and had some great cheeky Patti banter with the crowd. She recalled playing Manchester in 1978 (I saw you at Reading and Newcastle City Hall that tour Patti), walking into a guitar shop (“it looked like the one Bob Dylan walked into in Don’t Look Now” said Patti) and buying a Rickenbacker (which she told us she still has).
Patti took a break after “Horses” while the band played a Velvet Underground medley (“the greatest band from New York City”). She returned to sing the end of “White Light, White Heat” and then “Dancing Barefoot”. A guy shouted for “Piss Factory”: “I can’t do that now ….OK I’ll try a little”. The anthemic “Because the Night” had the entire hall singing. “People have the Power” closed the show, as it always seems to now; can’t say that it is my favourite Patti song, but it is growing on me.
For the encore we were back to the ’70s again for a crazy, wailing, totally manic, possessed version of the Who’s “My Generation” which ended with Patti trashing her Fender Strat; breaking each string one by one. As she snapped the last string; which was the thick brass sixth string, she flung the guitar to the floor. Patti and the band left the stage to the sound of the feedback ringing out through the hall. Stunning. Hail the new wave.
Setlist: Gloria; Redondo Beach; Birdland; Free Money; Kimberly; Break It Up; Land (including reprise of Gloria); Elegie; Privilege (Set Me Free); Velvet Underground medley (Rock n Roll – I’m Waiting For The Man – White Light, White Heat); Patti returns towards the end of the medley; Dancing Barefoot; Piss Factory; Because the Night; People Have the Power
Encore: My Generation
Georgie Fame & the Blue Flames Newcastle City Hall 30 May 2015
Georgie Fame walked onto the stage of Newcastle City Hall, sat at his Hammond organ and started to reflect on his first visit to Newcastle. That was apparently in 1960, and a young Georgie Fame was playing piano on the Eddie Cochran /Gene Vincent tour. Georgie couldn’t quite remember the name of the venue, but a couple of members of the audience helped him out. “The Empire” shouted one, while another kept insisting (No, it was the Odeon”. I checked it out (isn’t Google wonderful) and it was indeed the Empire, in Newgate Street.
Georgie was soon accompanied by his sons on drums and guitar, and the trio performed Booker T’s “Green Onions”. Before too long the bass, vibraphone, trumpet and sax players all joined in. A wonderful start to the evening.
A sparse, but enthusiastic, crowd had gathered for this concert which was the final night of Fame’s tour. “Get on the Right Track Baby” and “Cool Cat Blues” (dedicated to Mose Alison) kept the groove going. We were then treated to Georgie’s 1965 No 1 hit single “Yeh Yeh”. This was preceded by a great story of how Fame and his band arrived in Stockholm 50 years ago, to find hundreds of girls waiting and waving at the airport. Sadly they soon discovered that the crowd was, in fact, actually waiting for “the Saint” Roger Moore; who also happened to be on the same flight. The next song was a version of Bob Dylan’s “Everything is Broken” to which Fame had added the line “Its all F**ked Up Maann” and which we all had to sing :) The first half of the show closed with Willie Nelson’s “Funny How Time Slips Away”, after which Georgie introduced each of the band members before they all left the stage for a short break.
The second set started with Carole King’s “Point of No Return” which features on one of Fame’s early lps. The next song, which Fame dedicated to his friend Spike Milligan, was Louis Jordan’s “Don’t Send me Flowers when I’m in the Graveyard”, followed by (I think) “Love is going to take me away” and “Listen Here”. Then we were treated to an excellent version of the Bobby Hebb classic “Sunny”, which was also a hit for Fame. The concert closed (at 9.45 wow; I love early finishes) with Mose Alison’s “Was” (“When I become was and we become were ….”). A great concert by one ’60s music greats who remains the coolest of the cool.
Georgie Fame’s modern Blue Flames are: Guy Barker (trumpet), Alan Skidmore (tenor), Anthony Kerr (vibes), Tristan Powell (guitar), Alec Dankworth (double bass) and James Powell (drums). Tristan and James are Georgie’s sons (his real name is Clive Powell).
Lulu Sage Gateshead 15th May 2015
In 1963 a young 14 year old Marie McDonald McLaughlin Lawrie saw Alex Harvey (before he was officially sensational) sing a storming version of the Isley Brothers “Shout” in a Glasgow ballroom. The experience clearly made a big impression; Marie McDonald soon became Lulu and recorded her own version of “Shout”, taking it into the UK top ten. An eminent rock journalist would later write: “It is still probably the best rock ‘n’ roll performance by a woman in the history of British pop.”
The ’60s was a magical time and Lulu was a big part of that magic. She was a major figure in British pop, recording a series of classic pop hit singles. In 1967 she featured in the film “To Sir With Love” singing the title song which reached No 1 in the USA (and is still one of my favourite all-time songs). In 1969 Lulu sang “Boom Bang-a-Bang”; the UK entry to the Eurovision Song Contest, and was the joint winner. Come the ’70s she was back in the charts with her version of David Bowie’s “The Man who Sold the World”.
Roll on 40 or so years and Lulu is touring again, singing a set of R&B classics and a selection of songs from throughout her career. I saw her concert at the Sage a couple of weeks ago. To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but was pleasantly surprised just how good she was. Lulu is still in great voice, looks stunning and has lots of stories to tell. She has a new and well-received album, “Making Life Rhyme” for which she wrote most of the songs (along with her brother who she has worked without throughout her career). She kicked the concert off with a version of the Republica hit “Ready to Go”, followed by “Relight My Fire” which she recorded with Take That, and then “Faith In You”, the opening song from her new album. The highlight of the first set was, for me anyway, a perfect version (i.e. true to the ’70s original) of “The Man who Sold the World” which took me right back. Other highlights were “I Don’t Wanna Fight” which was written by Lulu and a hit for Tina Turner (something that I hadn’t been aware of), and an acoustic set of Bee Gees numbers including “To Love Somebody” and “I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You”. Lulu explained how, married to Maurice at the time, she was present when the songs were written and recorded by the Gibb brothers. I’d read that she would sing a reggae version of “To Sir With Love” and was a little nervous that this wouldn’t seem right; but it actually worked well, and I enjoyed her new treatment of the song. The sad news of B B King’s passing had just broken, and Lulu sang an excellent soulful “The Thrill Is Gone” in tribute to the great man. I wondered if Lulu’s voice would still stretch to singing “Shout”, but stretch indeed it did (and more). She performed the song as if we were all back in the ’60s; and for a short period; we were. Lulu and her band closed with the Edwin Starr hit “25 Miles” and everyone was up on their feet, singing along. Good fun; and much much more enjoyable that I had imagined.
The Barron Knights @ Chelsea Flower Show 21st May 2015
Marie is a keen garden fan, which led to us spending a pleasant day at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show. But rock’n’roll is never far away, and to my secret delight what should I discover but vintage comedy popsters The Barron Knights playing in the concert area. Now I remember laughing at these guys singing “Call up the Groups” on Top of the Pops (was it really over 50 years ago?). So we took our seats around lunchtime and were treated to great comedy routines, a medley of Everly Brothers hits, their inimitable version of the William Tell Overture and many other ’60s tunes. These guys can still put on a professional, slick show. The Barron Knights formed in 1959 (wow!) and the current line-up features original member Pete Langford.