Nick Cave Sage Gateshead 29th April 2015
Nick Cave is a dark moody man. His performances are unique experiences in which devotees lose themselves in an intense communion with the man himself. Part preacher, part demon, part artist; part cowboy; part balladeer; the rich diversity of a Cave performance can only be understood by those who have experienced it. Laura is a fan, and I am becoming one. There is so much to take in, so difficult to categorise. The solution is to give up trying to figure out whether the music is rock, country, soul, punk or pop. Does it matter? The influences are many; I can see and hear Elvis, Iggy, Johnny Cash, Screaming Lord Sutch, P J Proby, the Pistols, Tom Waits. He commands the stage, beckoning audience members to come close, touch him. He sings directly to them, so close to some that his face is almost touching theirs. Captivating, spell-binding, crazy, frightening, the guy has no fear, there are few boundaries. Another astounding performance complete with a series of extended encores.
Setlist: Water’s Edge; The Weeping Song; Red Right Hand; Brompton Oratory; Higgs Boson Blues; Mermaids; The Ship Song; Babe, You Turn Me On; From Her to Eternity; I Let Love In; Love Letter; Into My Arms; Up Jumped the Devil; Black Hair; The Mercy Seat; Jubilee Street
Encore 1: We No Who U R; Wide Lovely Eyes; Breathless; God is in the House; And No More Shall We Part; Jack the Ripper; the Lyre of Orpheus
Encore 2: Push the Sky Away.
Nick Cave Sage Gateshead 29th April 2015
Eric Clapton Royal Albert Hall London 14th May 2015
Support: Andy Fairweather Low & the Low Riders
Going to see Eric Clapton is like visiting an old friend. You know what to expect; an evening of quality music, great guitar solos, a few ballads and the blues. No surprises. Eric is 70 and is celebrating the occasion with a residency at his favourite venue, the Royal Albert Hall. His old mate Andy Fairweather Low offered friendly support and warmed us all up with a class set of blues, and solo and Amen Corner hits including “Reggae Tune”, “Wide Eyed and Legless” and “(If Paradise Is) Half as Nice”. After a short interval, Clapton wandered on stage and the birthday party started. We even sang “Happy Birthday” to him. High points were some of the best solos I’ve seen him play, a great version of “Crossroads”, “Can’t Find my Way Home” with bass player Nathan on vocals and an excellent version of “You are so Beautiful” with Paul Carrack singing. Yes, I would have liked to see him play “Sunshine” or “Badge” and the electric (rather than the unplugged) version of “Layla”; but then you can’t always have what you want. And this was Eric’s birthday, and his party, so of course it was fine that he played just exactly what he wanted to play. The programme told me that this could be the last time. My guess is that Eric won’t be able to resist playing again now and then. Hope so. Happy birthday E C.
Spent the night at David’s and then up at 5.45am to catch the early train back “up north”.
Band lineup: Eric Clapton – guitar, vocals; Chris Stainton – piano, keyboards; Paul Carrack – organ, keyboards, vocals; Nathan East – bass; Steve Gadd – drums; Michelle John & Sharon White – backing vocals
Set list: Somebody knocking; Key to the highway; Pretending; Hoochie coochie man; You are so beautiful (Paul Carrack vocals); Can’t find my way home (Nathan East vocals); I shot the sheriff; Driftin'; Nobody knows you when you’re down and out; Tears in heaven; Layla; Before you accuse me; Wonderful tonight; Let it rain; Crossroads; Little queen of spades; Cocaine
Encore: High time we went (Paul Carrack vocals, with guest Andy Fairweather Low)
Pink Fairies The Cluny Newcastle 26th April 2015
The Pink Fairies were the ultimate late ’60s and early ’70s anarcho, underground, left-wing hippy revolutionaries. Alongside the Edgar Broughton Band and Hawkwind they forged an uncompromising anti-establishment path and made some beautiful noisy rock’n’roll which paved the way for punk, new wave and (maybe) grunge. I was a big fan in the ’70s and was lucky enough to see them live on a number of occasions. My favourite songs were “When’s the Fun Begin?” and their version of “Walk Don’t Run” which twisted the surf guitar of the Ventures through 180 degrees to produce a freak-out psych classic. Well the Pink Fairies are back. Or at least some of them are. The 2015 line-up consists of original Fairies Russell Hunter (drums) and Duncan Sanderson (bass) along with Andy Colquhoun (who fronted an ’80s incarnation of the band) on guitar, Jacki Windmill on wild red hair and crazy vocals and second drummer George Butler. There may be no Twink, no Paul Rudolph, no Larry Wallis; but the new Fairies maintain the spirit of the original band and, as I witnessed last week, remain true to the loud noisy musical ethos, complete with extended psych freak-out guitar solos courtesy of Andy and loud drums courtesy of Russell and George.
So 100 or so old-timers and a few modern hippy hipsters congregated in the Cluny on a Sunday to see what joyful noise the Pink Fairies 2015 could produce, and whether they could still corrupt our youth and try to overthrow our government. Laura accompanied me to this fun event. We were not disappointed. This wasn’t musical perfection by any means (and it wouldn’t be the Fairies if it was) but it was great raw, loud, rock’n’roll with rambling psych guitar straight from early ’70s Ladbroke Grove courtesy of the West Coast of the USA. I recognised most of the songs ;although I wasn’t sure what the opener was. The second song was “Do It” which was the B side of their (non) hit single “The Snake. This was followed by “War Girl” with manic vocals by Jacki. Then Russell took the mike and came forward to the front of the stage while the rambling discords of “When’s the Fun Begin” built to a crescendo. Wonderful. The Fairies then took us to the Larry Wallis era for the punky “Police Car”, followed by “Waiting for the Ice Cream to Melt”. Then it was right back to the start and the Velvet’s “Waiting for the Man”; a song the Fairies have been covering since their early days, followed by another old Fairies favourite; their cover of the Beatles “Tomorrow Never Knows” which was a pretty extreme discordant cacophony; by now Laura was confused. Then followed a couple of new songs; “Naked Radio” and “Skeleton Army”. The last number was Pink Fairies classic “Uncle Harry’s Last Freak Out”; Duncan told us the story of the drug bust in Ladbroke Grove which led to the song. “Last Freakout” descended into a lengthy jam, as it always used to. And then they were gone. We lingered a little hoping for an encore (I wanted to see them play “Walk Don’t Run”) but left after it began to look like they weren’t coming back. The ’70s underground lives on. Peace man.
PP Arnold & Chris Farlowe @ Solid Silver ’60s Show The Sage Gateshead 19th April 2015
I promised myself some time ago that I wouldn’t go to any more ’60s shows. Too much singing and clapping along to cover versions of great tunes, which often lack the power and energy of the originals. Too many bands with hardly any, or no, original members. But this show featured two artists, who remain true to the soul of the ’60s, and remain artists; namely P P Arnold and Chris Farlowe. What the hell, promises are made to be broken. So along I went to the Sage, making sure to arrive early as both my heroes featured in the first half of the show.
The evening was opened by the New Amen Corner who, although don’t seem to feature any original members of the Amen Corner, are a class act of excellent musicians with a strong ’60s heritage, and play authentic versions of old classics. They are also providing backing to both P P Arnold and Chris Farlowe on this tour. Tonight they played “Bend Me, Shape Me” and the Turtles “Eleanor” before welcoming PP Arnold to the stage. After an embarrassing false start during which New Amen Corner played the intro to “Angel of the Morning” several times and PP didn’t arrive on stage as expected …. she finally did join us, and apologised explaining that she was waiting back stage and hadn’t heard her call. PP is the mod ace face soul sister, who arrived in the UK as an Ikette backing Ike and Tina Turner on a Stones’ tour, and was then asked by Mick Jagger to stay on and become a solo artist. She then formed a strong bond with Steve Marriott and the Small Faces, and performed with them on classics like “Tin Soldier”. This lady has class. She started with “Angel of the Morning”, and then sang Steve Wonder’s “Uptight.” Great stuff. Next she talked about how she recorded with the Bee Gees, singing “To Love Somebody” which PP covered on one of her albums. The next song was “If You Think You’re Groovy” which was written for her by Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane; I think the Small Faces also backed her on the single. She dedicated the song to Marriott and the rest of the Small Faces. “River Deep, Mountain High” was dedicated to Tina Turner, who started PP off on her career. PP was suffering from a bad cold and was drinking ginger and honey to help her throat, but still sounded great. She then explained how after the Stones tour Mick Jagger invited her for a walk in Regents Park where he “made a proposition to her”. The “proposition” was of course to become a solo artist and join the new Immediate record label which was being launched by Andrew Loog Oldham, the Stones’ manager, and which also featured Chris Farlowe and the Small Faces. This was as way of introduction to her first hit single, which was Cat Steven’s “The First Cut is the Deepest”. Excellent.
PP was then joined by Chris Farlowe for a duet of “Private Number”, introducing Chris as “the Voice”, and demonstrating the high regard in which he is held by fellow artists. Chris then launched into a set of soul and R’n’B classics: “Giving it Up for your Love”, “Stand By Me” were first. He then introduced a new song “Don’t Want to Love You Anymore” before performing “Handbags and Gladrags” as only Chris Farlowe can. Marriott featured again, as Chris dedicated “All or Nothing” to the legend. There was one song left that just had to be sung; he finished with a great rendition of “Out of Time” (No. 1 for Chris in 1966).
The final act in the first half of the show was ’60s stars the Merseybeats with their familiar trademark Gibson Firebird guitars, and featuring original members Bill Kinsley and Tony Crane. These guys had some hits, and some great songs “back in the day”. Their set was: “Just a Boy from Liverpool”, “Wishin’ and Hopin'” (No.13, 1964), “Hey Baby” (introduced as a favourite back in the days of the Cavern lunchtime spots), “Don’t Turn Around” (No. 13, 1964), a cover of Del Shannon’s “Runaway”, the Everly’s (“their is only ever one duo”) “Let it Be Me”, “Singing the Blues”, and “I Think of You” (No. 5, 1963). They closed with “Sorrow”, which they recorded as the Merseys (reached No.4 in 1966) and which was covered by David Bowie (No. 3, 1973). The Merseybeats returned for an encore of “Hi Ho Silver Lining”.
I’d had my ration of ’60s nostalgia for the evening, so left after the first half, missing Mike Pender’s Searchers and Billy J Kramer (sorry).
The old ones can still be the best (at least they seem so; to an old guy like me :) ).
Robin Trower Stockton Arc April 7th 2015
Robin 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.
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.
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
Well 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 …