Robin Trower Stockton Arc April 7th 2015

Robin Trower Stockton Arc April 7th 2015
trowertixRobin Trower pursed his lips, sucked in his cheeks, closed his eyes, gave that familiar grimace and squeezed sounds out of his Strat that only Trower can. The wah wah peddle rose slowly to prolong those chords, and the unique blend of rock, funk and soul that has become Trower’s trademark kept a packed Arc enthralled. Robin Trower celebrated his 70th birthday a few weeks ago, and he continues to tour and record. This was the first time I’ve seen Trower live for a few years and his band has reverted to the familiar power trio format that he favoured throughout the 1970s, and returning to that format seems to have injected renewed power and energy. trowerflyer
Robin has a new album, and the set includes songs from the new release along with those old classics he just has to play. Why, he even takes lead vocals on a few of the tracks, his deep, raspy voice adding a bluesy edge to the songs, and reminding me a little of Tony McPhee and the Groundhogs.
I was standing close to the front and was totally mesmerised by his performance; the guy is playing as fluidly as ever. And the band is strong and powerful with a young bass player from the James Dewar school of soulful voices. Highlights of the night were, for me, the old familiar tunes. “Bridge of Sighs” never fails to impress, and “Day of the Eagle” rocks the same as it always did. The first encore was the track that first got me into Trower’s music; “Too Rolling Stoned”. Excellent. Support came from Joanne Shaw Taylor whose blues rock set won over a lot of new fans.IMAG0924
Setlist: Somebody Calling, Rise Up Like the Sun, See My Life, Daydream, Lady Love, Something’s About to Change, Day of the Eagle, Bridge of Sighs, Confessin’ Midnight, The Turning, Not Inside – Outside, Little Bit of Sympathy
Encore: Too Rolling Stoned, For Earth Below

Many thanks to Mitch for his photo of Robin and band

The End

The End
the-endWell I’ve done it. I started this project sometime in 2009; blogging sporadically when I went to see a band. At the end of 2011, I decided to cover all of the concerts I have attended , and started blogging every day on 1st January 2012, using my ticket stubs and programmes as a guide. I then worked through each band/act (roughly) alphabetically; I finally got to the letter “Z” a week or so ago.
Over the years I’ve written about many great bands from different genres; ranging from ABBA to Z Z Top, covering Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, the Who, Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones along the way. In total I have written 1,387 posts about 1,352 bands or acts. During the year 2014, my blog was viewed 94,488 times by 44,627 visitors; each visitor averaging 2.12 views. My top 25 bands (the ones I have written about, and hence seen, the most) are: Status Quo, The Who, Yes, Genesis, Lindisfarne, The Groundhogs, Wishbone Ash, Hawkwind, Uriah Heep, Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Jethro Tull, Elton John, Roy Harper, Thin Lizzy, Slade, Deep Purple, Penetration, Rod Stewart (including The Faces), Rory Gallagher, Roxy Music, Queen, The Hollies and U2.
Looking back I realise that my early posts are not as well presented, nor as detailed as the more recent ones. I have definitely got better at doing this over the years. There are also many inconsistencies (which now annoy me; but there you go … I should have planned and designed this project more carefully at the outset). I wish I had been more precise and consistent in the categorisation of bands and the way that I have recorded dates, venues, ticket prices, setlists etc. Some times I have included more than one concert in a post; depending on my interest in the band, or how important I think they are. For “major” artists like The Stones, The Who and Dylan, I have written about every single concert I attended. So in the case of The Stones the blog statistics tell me I have seen them 17 times, and likewise the statistics say that I have seen The Who 22 times. Actually, however, there are some duplicate posts (e.g. I have written a post on the Who at Live Aid, and then also written a separate post on the Live Aid event itself, which also mentions the Who). I think I have actually seen The Who 19 times and the Stones 12 or 13 times. The blog tells me that I have seen Status Quo 31 times, and the total is actually close to 50; I combined some concerts because there were so many. Sadly, this makes it difficult to use the blog as any sort of database of concerts, or to get any precise measures out of it. One day I may go back and try to recategorise things, to make it all consistent, but that would be a big job. For now, to be honest I’ve become a little tired of doing it, and I am looking forward to a little rest from my blogging activities.
Many thanks to all of you who have followed me and encouraged me on this journey. Thanks to those who commented along the way; particularly Mitch and Neil, Jeff, Dawn, Hockey and Tony. Thanks to Mitch for sending me many great images from some of the concerts, and providing setlists. Thanks to John for reminding me of some of the gigs we went to many years ago, and for providing insights into rock’n’roll in the USA. Thanks to Norm and Will for having better memories than me and keeping me right about some of the gigs. Its frightening how poor my memory is becoming. Thanks to Doug for help on Jethro Tull and to Ian, Dave, Terry, Pete, Gilly and all the other people who came to see bands with me over the years. Still some bands out there to see. And thanks to Marie, Ashleigh, David and Laura for coming on family outings to concerts over the years. Oh, and thanks to WordPress for providing a great platform on which to do this. And apologies if I have forgotten to mention anyone; my memory really is going ….
I’ve enjoyed writing about the concerts. It has forced me to try to remember the details. Where there was a gap (and there often was), the internet has been amazing in helping me find reviews, setlists and line-ups of the time. Sometimes I had to guess things; often I got things wrong. The exercise has reminded me of some great concert experiences, and allowed me to create a record which I can refer to, and remind myself of happy happy days and great bands. I’m not even going to try to think about which was the best concert, or the best band. They have been so many great experiences :)
I am now going to spend some time thinking of what to do with this blog, now that it is finished. I did think of converting it into a book, but I’m not sure that would work. What I would like to do is to use it as the basis of a lecture course on the history of rock music, or more precisely perhaps, the history of rock performance. I’m going to spend a little time thinking about how I might pursue that particular avenue.
I will of course, continue to blog as and when I go to concerts. So this isn’t really the end, just another chapter to the blog.
Thanks again. Time for a rest, at least for a few days …

Other memories ……

Other memories
il_570xN.500152569_3ounI’m now at the end of my project and tomorrow I’ll do a final summing up and reflections on the whole thing. But today I wanted to cover some of the bands that I have missed along the way. These are bands that I have seen, but for one reason or another I haven’t written about; mostly because I didn’t have a programme or a ticket stub to remind me of seeing them, so they sadly got lost during my (largely) alphabetically driven journey. In fact, I could probably have continued posting for a few more weeks, covering these acts, but I had to call a halt at some point. The truth is my memories of these gigs are scant, and I would have found it difficult to construct a post for each one. Most of them were/are very fine bands so apologies for not including them as a post of their own; but as I say, I had to draw a line under this project somewhere, and today is it!
So ….. I also have memories of seeing:
Cozy Powell’s Hammer who hit the charts with “Dance with the Devil” and featured Bernie Marsden (guitar), Clive Chamen (bass), Don Airey (keyboards) and Frank Aiello (Bedlam) on vocals. Cozy Powell again in Bedlam who were a great, loud and really heavy band with Dave Ball (ex Procol Harum) on guitar.
The great and legendary Geno Washington (“Hipster Flipsters, Finger Poppin’ Daddies”) playing to a sadly pretty small audience at Kirklevington Country Club some time in the ’70s.
The Saints (Australian punk band, known for “Stranded”) at Seaburn Hall Sunderland.
The Passions, around the time of “I’m in Love with a German Film Star”, at Middlesbrough Rock Garden around 1981.
Southern Comfort (“Woodstock”), but I think after Iain Matthews had left.
Bell ‘n’ Arc featuring the awesome Graham Bell on vocals, and also with local heroes John Turnbull, Mick Gallagher, Kenny Craddock and Alan White..
Great prog acts like T2 who released the legendary album “It’ll All Work Out in Boomland”, Ginhouse and the carzy Principal Edwards Magic Theatre.
Pere Ubu with the enigmatic David Thomas at Newcastle University, around the time of “The Modern Dance”.
Elephants Memory (they were one John Lennon’s backing bank in the USA) at Sunderland Mecca.
Dirt, Poison Girls and Rubella Ballet at Sunderland Bunker.
The awesome England, from Cumbria with the great Olli Alcock, who played a twin neck and was a simply incredible guitarist, and is still playing around Cumbria (someone I should really try and see again). They released a self-titled limited private issue album in the ’70s; I found a signed copy at a car boot 10 years or so ago; bought it for 50p and sold it on though eBay for £100! Result. Wish I’d kept it actually.
Ducks Deluxe at the Marquee Club in London; I think England may have been support. One of our party got incredibly drunk and an ambulance was called; we spent the night in the local hospital.
The Pleasers who were a heavily early ’60s Beatles influenced power pop act, who were around in the late ’70s and were amazing.
Trapeze featuring Glen Hughes (and after he left), a few times. A very under-rated band.
Steve Tilston in the bar at Sunerland Poly.
Great support acts like A Band Called O, Byzantium, SNAFU and Sassafras.
The truly awesome Flying Hat Band featuring Glen Tipton before his days with Judas Priest. I remember standing right in front of Glen, totally knocked out by his guitar skill.
Guilty pleasure. The Rubettes around the time of “Sugar Baby Love” wearing the caps and co-ordinated suits: amazing! Showaddywaddy: great teddy boy suits and rock n roll that going everyone dancing. Hot Chocolate; I was a fan of their early hits; “Love is Life” and “Emma” in particular; they gigged loads in the early ’70s and I saw them many times.
The Nashville Teens (Tobacco Road) on a double bill with the Downliners Sect; great R’n’B.
The rock n roll revival act Wild Angels featuring the little bundle of energy Mal Gray.
So apologies to all those acts for not devoting a day and a blog post to them, and to all the other bands I have seen and forgotten to list; and there will be lots of them…..
Tomorrow I’ll do a summing up and reflect on my project, to finally draw it to a close.

Z Z Top Rocking the Castle, Donington 17th August 1985

Z Z Top Rocking the Castle, Donington 17th August 1985
zztopdoningtontixLine-up: ZZ Top; Marillion; Bon Jovi; Metallica; Ratt; Magnum; Tommy Vance (DJ)
Donington 1985 became “Rocking the Castle” rather than “Monsters of Rock”, presumably because the line-up was a little more mixed than the usual heavy metal fare. Z Z Top returned to the festival after playing third on the bill a couple of years earlier. They were joined by a strong clutch of bands including Bon Jovi and Metallica, both of whom who would go on to be headliners in their own right. It was a beautiful hot day; one of the best Donington festivals I attended, in terms of the weather. Don’t remember much about Magnum or Ratt, although I have always been a fan of Magnum. Metallica seemed very thrash metal to me at the time; they hadn’t yet developed the subtlety that was to come later. Bon Jovi were amazing; you could just tell that they were going to be massive. ZZ-Top-RockingCastleAt some point during the afternoon the Z Z Top car flew over the crowd, carried by a helicopter; this resulted in a massive cheer, and a hail of bottles and cans, none of which (luckily) managed to get high enough to touch the limo. This was the era of the can fight…. Marillion were the hit of the day, and went down really well with the crowd. They were at the tipping point of their career, having just released “Misplaced Childhood” and with major chart hits “Lavender” and “Kayleigh”. But the day belonged to boogie kings Z Z Top who were one of the biggest acts on the planet at the time, and effortlessly tore the place up with those classic songs, tongue in cheek humour, and unique style. Classic.
Z Z Top setlist: Got Me Under Pressure; I Got The Six; Gimme All Your Lovin'; Waiting For The Bus; Jesus Just Left Chicago; Sharp Dressed Man; Ten Foot Pole; TV Dinner; Manic Mechanic; Heard It On The X; I Need You Tonight; Pearl Necklace; Cheap Sunglasses; Arrested For Driving While Blind/Hit It Quit It; Party On The Patio; Legs; Tube Snake Boogie; Can’t Stop Rockin'; Jailhouse Rock; La Grange; Tush.
Two days to go ……

Z Z Top Newcastle City Hall 23rd November 1983

Z Z Top Newcastle City Hall 23rd November 1983
zztopcityhalltixThose sharp dressed Z Z Top dudes moseyed on down to Newcastle City Hall on 23rd November 1983 to give us a taste of real Texan boogie. The beards were long yet carefully groomed (respect :) ), the stetsons were big and grand with the widest brims you had ever seen, and the relentless boogie was ….. well it was relentless. They rocked, they boogied, the City Hall shook, and they rocked and boogied some more.
Z Z Top had just released their eighth studio album, “Eliminator”, and they were hot and on the toppest of top forms. “Eliminator” sold 10,000,000 copies and remains their most successful album. The car from the cover of the album roared onto the stage at the end of the concert. Just perfect.
Wow is the only word for it.
zztopprogSetlist was something like this: Got Me Under Pressure; I Got the Six; Waitin’ for the Bus; Francine; Sharp Dressed Man; Ten Foot Pole; TV Dinners; Manic Mechanic; A Fool for Your Stockings; Dust My Broom; Pearl Necklace; Cheap Sunglasses; Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers; Just Got Paid; Arrested for Driving While Blind; Party on the Patio; Tube Snake Boogie; Jailhouse Rock; La Grange; Tush. I took the set list from a published setlist for the “Eliminator” tour. Surely they must have played “Gimme All Your Lovin'”?
Z Z Top were, and are, Billy Gibbons, Frank Beard (the one without the beard) and Dusty Hill. Support came from Australian band Wendy and the Rocketts.
Three days to go ….

Local heroes: Brass Alley & Lucas Tyson

Local heroes: Brass Alley & Lucas Tyson
hartrockrecordI couldn’t finish my blog project without saying a few words about these two bands.
Brass Alley and Lucas Tyson (along with Beckett who I have already covered in earlier posts) were arguably the top North East bands in the early ’70s, playing in ballrooms and clubs around the region.
Brass Alley were a heavy rock band with a bluesy edge, fronted by singer Dave Ditchburn and featuring Barry Alton (guitar), Frankie Gibbon (bass), and Howard Martin (drums). They were heavily influenced by Free, and always included a few Free covers in their set. I saw them loads of times at Sunderland Locarno (Mecca), Newcastle Mayfair, in several working mens’ clubs and supporting touring acts at the City Hall. I remember that they had, for a short period, a Sunday night residency at Sunderland Top Rank. I can picture us all now, standing on the tables chanting for “The Hunter”; which was their encore at the time. The guitarist would do a great instrumental version of the “Theme from Exodus”.
Lucas Tyson were a much more guitar-oriented band fronted by the excellent, Hendrix-influenced, Pete Barclay. Pete played a Fender Strat, made heavy use of wah-wah and fuzz, and was a guitar hero for many of us young guys. I also saw Lucas Tyson play at Sunderland Mecca, Newcastle Mayfair, Sunderland Poly, and at the City Hall. Pete would do great Hendrix covers (“Voodoo Chile”, I think) and other guitar-led tracks. I remember seeing them support Edgar Broughton one night at the Mecca, when they played an awesome version of the Floyd’s “Astronomy Domine”.
Brass Alley and Lucas Tyson both feature on the single pictured above. I still have a copy and it’s a gem of early ’70s rock psych. The 45 EP features four tracks: “Daylight Child” by Lucas Tyson https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57TSW5w1j6s&list=PLRBjLK_SZFghJcBolYpCMkTVt9L60TtCv&index=1 ; “The Hobo Song” by Yellow; “Pink Pills” by Brass Alley https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DeR7xmNupF8 and “I Know You Well” by Trilogy. The single was released to promote Hart Rock, a 1971 rock festival held at Hartlepool football ground which featured these four local bands, plus others and was headlined by Arrival and Beggars Opera.
Four days to go.

Ken Dodd London Palladium June 1967

Ken Dodd London Palladium June 1967
kendoddprogAnother early memory which doesn’t quite relate to vintage rock, but which I wanted to cover before I finish my project.
I was in London with my parents for a short holiday and they decided that we would “go to a show” as one does when one is in the capital. Ken Dodd was starring at the Palladium, for a return series of shows after a very successful run a year or two before. We had seats in the circle. I remember being totally in awe of the wonderful venue. I was so excited that I was actually sitting in the London Palladium, a venue that I had seen so many times on TV, during “Sunday Night at the Palladium”. I could hardly believe that it was happening.
Doddy was great. He had his tickling stick, told us “how tickled I am” and that it was all “tattyfilarious”. It was magical. He sang “Tears” and kept the theatre laughing all evening. But the most magical moment was when he was joined on stage by the Diddymen. As a kid, I was totally knocked out and fascinated by those colourful crazy little guys who weaved their way around Ken Dodd and talked in silly squeaky little voices. The Diddymen were Dicky Mint, Mick the Marmalizer, Stephen “Titch” Doyle, Little Evan, Hamish McDiddy, Nigel Ponsonby-Smallpiece, Nicky Nugget, Sid Short and Smarty Arty., and they came, of course from Knotty Ash. They sang their song: “We are the Diddy Men, Doddy’s little Diddy Men, We are the Diddy Men who come from Knotty Ash”. Wonderful.
Great memories which now seem so long ago. I still have the programme.
That’s the last of my silly memories. I’ll return to rock music tomorrow. Thanks for bearing with me. Only a few days to go now … 4 or 5 I think. :)

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