The Tubes Brudenell Social Club Leeds 11th August 2015
Recently I’ve become very bad at keeping my blog up to date. I lost the momentum that I had when I was writing an entry a day. So apologies for the lateness of this entry.
Norm, Mick and I took a trip to Leeds a couple of weeks ago, our purpose being to reconnect with those crazy Tubes guys. For me, it had been many years since I had sampled the mad delights of our heroes; the last time I saw the Tubes was at Newcastle City Hall in the early 1980s. My two companions went to a Tubes gig 10 or so years ago, when they played Newcastle Academy.
The Tubes are a strange mix of classic rock, great musicianship, punk, vaudeville, shock-rock, camp and musical theatre. Their shows worked best as big productions, and I still have great memories of their first UK tour back in 1977, and their OTT Knebworth appearance a year or so later. The venue for this show was the excellent Brudenell Social Club. I wondered how their show would translate to a smaller stage and an intimate club setting.
We arrived in Brudenell in plenty of time to sample a local hostelry just along the road from the Social Club. As we entered the bar, who should we spot but Tubes drummer Prairie Prince. Norm wandered over for a chat, and Prince kindly signed his ticket from the City Hall 1977 concert. Mick and I joined them. Mick, being a drummer himself, holds Prairie Prince in the highest regard, declaring him his favourite drummer.
Today’s Tubes feature four members from the original band: Prince on drums, our hero and manic front man Fee Waybill on vocals, the excellent Roger Steen on guitar, and Rick Anderson on bass. The Brudenell was packed full of fans from all over the North; Norm ran into some mates from work.
The show started with a short instrumental piece. Soon our hero Fee made his usual dramatic entrance in a big raincoat and hat. I wasn’t sure if he was Frank Sinatra or a Chicago gangster. Actually, no he was Gene Pitney, and soon gave us an excellent rendition of “Town without Pity”. The set was classic Tubes, drawn from throughout their early albums. The show was as theatrical as ever. Of course they didn’t have the stage sets like back in the day, but Fee made up for it in terms of costume changes, facial expression and attitude. He soon became a convict in full striped uniform, and at one point sang through the bars of a small prison cell box which covered his head. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Tubes show without Fee in full outrageous bondage gear for “Mondo Bondage”. Not for the squeamish or the easily shocked. The show came to it’s crazy full-on mad climax with Fay being reborn as Quay Lewd and we all screamed along to “White Punks on Dope”. Classic stuff. We stayed back and got the band’s autographs. Norm took some pics, I will add one later…travelling at the moment. Happy days here again.
Setlist:Getoverture; This Town; Town Without Pity; Power Tools; Rat Race; Crime Medley; Mr. Hate; Amnesia; No Way Out; Life Is Pain; Mondo Bondage; Up From the Deep; What Do You Want From Life; Sushi Girl; Don’t Want to Wait Anymore; Drum Solo (Prairie Prince); Boy Crazy; White Punks On Dope
Encore: She’s A Beauty; I Saw Her Standing There; Talk to Ya Later; Third Stone From The Sun
The Tubes Brudenell Social Club Leeds 11th August 2015
Jimmy Cliff Newcastle Riverside 6th August 2015
Seeing Jimmy Cliff has been on my bucket list for many years. Well last week I finally got to see him and The Man he didn’t let me down. The Riverside was ram packed with a lively mix of soul dudes, punks and roots rockets all ready to dance, sing and shout along with those great toons. The place was hot, Jimmy Cliff was on fire and the band were lively and loud. Great songs: “You Can Get It If You Really Want”,”Wild World”, “Vietnam”, “Many Rivers to Cross” sung with passion by Jimmy and by half the crowd too. But for me the toppest of top classic is and always will be, as The Man told us, the song which “I Man brought reggae to the world”: “The Harder They Come”. Takes me back to a day when reggae was fresh, new, exciting, raw, different. I’ve said it before and I will no doubt say it again, but the old guys are (at least to me) truly the best. Great to see a guy who lives up to his own legend. 100% class act. Respect.
Setlist (something like): Bongo Man / Rivers of Babylon; You Can Get It If You Really Want; Hard Road to Travel; Rebel Rebel; Wild World; This Is My Love Song; Under the Sun, Moon and Stars; I Can See Clearly Now; Reggae Night; Vietnam; The Harder They Come; Many Rivers to Cross; King of Kings; Miss Jamaica; Wonderful World, Beautiful People; Let Your Yeah Be Yeah; Treat the Youths Right; Rub-A-Dub Partner; Reggae Music
Encore: Special; Roots Woman
“So as sure as the sun will shine
I’m gonna get my share now of what’s mine
And then the harder they come
The harder they’ll fall, one and all” (Jimmy Cliff, 1972)
The Whitley Bay Film Festival presents “Tommy with special guest Roger Daltrey”
So Tommy, or rather Roger, came to Whitley Bay, the past home of many pinball arcades. And he watched the great 1975 movie with us. The Whitley Bay Film festival kicked off it’s sixth year of movie, culture, music and arts events with a very special 40th anniversary screening of Ken Russell’s and The Who’s classic film, Tommy. Roger Daltrey was in attendance for a conversation with music historian Chris Phipps and a question and answer session with the audience. The evening was introduced by festival patron Ian La Frenais.
Tommy is a dark, crazy, OTT ride through 1970s culture. It features a star cast of acting and musical royalty including Oliver Reed, Jack Nicholson, Elton John and The Who themselves to name but a few. The music is, of course, based on a reworking of the Who’s classic 1969 rock opera. I went along with Norm, and the two enjoyed the joys of the film all over again. We both saw the film when it was first released, but neither of us had seen it since then. I was surprise how current it seemed; its larger than life characters and images, iconography, pastiche reminding me to some extent of recent movies such as Moulin Rouge.
Leading up to the main film event, the festival team held a month long pinball tournament, which ran throughout July, and culminated in the final held in the foyer, immediately prior to the film screening. Our pinball champion was Matt Morrison of Whitley Bay, who was presented with his award by Roger Daltrey. After the movie we were all treated to a question and answer session with Roger, sat next to a lovingly restored pinball machine, and who admitted: “I’m the worst pinball player in the world.” Roger was introduced festival patron, comedy writer Ian La Frenais, originally from Whitley Bay and whose work with writing partner Dick Clement includes The Likely Lads and Auf Wiedersehen, Pet. Ian told us: “I had my first snog in this building”. Roger told several stories of the making of the film including how he was the target of a fire hose which left him “black and blue”, thrown in a cold bath and laid on an ironing board while Cousin Kevin tortured him. He also admitted “Ann Margaret was supposed to be my mother, but that was a tough acting job on my part.” A unique night and an opportunity to see a hero up close.
“That deaf, dumb and blind kid, Sure plays a mean pinball!” (Townshend, 1969).
Well as well as being a tit man (at least according to his dad) Rufus Wainwright is also a pretty crazy, cheeky, funny guy. Oh, and he has some great songs too. Laura is a fan, and she was the main reason we were part of an attentive crowd who packed into Whitley Bay Playhouse for an intimate evening with Rufus Wainwright, as part of the Mouth of the Tyne festival. This was a solo show, Rufus alone with his grand piano, and sometimes on guitar, in great voice and on great form. The evening enjoyed visits from guests “Liza Minnelli” and “Judy Garland”. Yes both of them together! Actually they looked suspiciously like his sister Lucy Wainwright Roche (who was the opening act) and Patrick Duffy (one of the Rufus road crew). A couple asked for a picture and were invited on stage for group selfies during “Me and Liza”. Sister Lucy came back for the encore of “Pretty Things” and “Hallelujah” leaving Rufus alone to close the show with “Poses”. A great concert and great fun. I can see in Rufus some of the same zany humour which is characteristic of his dad, who would have been proud. I am starting to “get” just what Rufus is about, which Laura, of course, already knew.
Setlist: Beauty Mark; The Maker Makes; Vibrate; Grey Gardens; Out of the Game; Jericho; Want; Sanssouci; The Art Teacher; Sonnet 20; Les Feux d’Artifice; Schoenberg-style Improvisation; Me And Liza; April Fools; Gay Messiah; Going to a Town; I Don’t Know What It Is; Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk
Encore: Montauk; Pretty Things; Hallelujah; Poses
Grateful Dead “Fare Thee Well: Celebrating 50 Years of Grateful Dead” live screening event Empire Cinema Newcastle 6th July 2015
Grateful Dead live screening event Empire Cinema Newcastle 6th July 2015
“Fare Thee Well: Celebrating 50 Years of Grateful Dead”
20 years after their last concert, the remaining members of the Grateful Dead (Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh and Bob Weir) returned to Soldier Field in Chicago for a historic performance. The four members were joined by Trey Anastasio (guitar), Jeff Chimenti (keyboards), and Bruce Hornsby (piano). The Dead reunited for a series of five concerts (3 in Chicago and 2 in San Francisco where it all started), which was entitled “Fare Thee Well: Celebrating 50 Years of Grateful Dead” and grossed an amazing $52.2 million in ticket sales. The Pay to View package, which included footage from the band’s Levi Stadium San Francisco shows (attended by 151,650 fans) and the Soldier Field Chicago shows (attended by 210,283 people). The collection of live broadcasts now holds the record for the largest syndication of a live music event ever. The Grateful Dead were, of course, formed in California in 1965 and rose to become one of the best-known bands of the psychedelic movement of the late ’60s. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994 and have sold over 35 million albums worldwide. The last time the Dead played live together was in July 1995, just one month before the tragic death of the band’s lead guitarist and singer, Jerry Garcia. The demand for the reunion concerts has been incredible.
The final Chicago concert was screened at more than 250 cinemas across the UK on the evening of Monday 6 July, the day after the last ever Dead show. It was a delayed screening – a live broadcast was impractical, given the six-hour time difference between the UK and Chicago.
I went with Laura and Dale to watch the film and joined a small group of UK Deadheads who wanted to see the band “live” one more time. I have to admit being unsure what to expect. My only other live encounter with the Dead was when they played Newcastle City Hall in 1972, and I didn’t quite get what all the fuss was about. Well, we all really enjoyed the movie. The songs, as always in a Dead concert, progressed into extended jams, but were never boring. I even enjoyed the Drums solo, which was followed by a lengthy Space piece involving trippy electronic sounds and heavy use of theremin. You could feel the love and respect that the fans have for this band, and see how moved Phil Lesh and Bob Weir in particular were by the whole event. If this was really the end, it was a very fitting way to close the final chapter of the career of a band who have meant so much to so many people, and touched fans throughout the world.
Set 1: China Cat Sunflower; I Know You Rider; Estimated Prophet; Built to Last; Samson and Delilah; Mountains of the Moon; Throwing Stones
Set 2: Truckin’; Cassidy; Althea; Terrapin Station; Drums; Space; Unbroken Chain; Days Between; Not Fade Away
Encore: Touch of Grey
Encore 2: Attics of My Life
“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