Bill Nelson The Hepworth Wakefield 20 Sep 2013

Bill Nelson The Hepworth Wakefield 20 Sep 2013
unityhall Last night I spent a fascinating couple of hours in the company of Bill Nelson in Wakefield, the city in which he was born and grew up. This was a one off performance that showcased Bill’s instrumental soundscapes, accompanied by live projections. The location of the gig was especially apt as it was once home to Be-Bop Deluxe’s own rehearsal space. The gig took place in the Calder building of the Hepworth, an art gallery just outside the centre of Wakefield. It was a charity gig to raise money for a restoration project for Unity Hall. The venue for the concert was a new annexe to the Hepworth, situated in an old textile mill on the banks of the river Calder. Attendance was limited to 300, apparently for health and safety reasons, although the venue could have held many more, and the event sold out some weeks ago. There were some seats, although not nearly enough for everyone, with most people having to stand. hepworth I bought myself a badge and a signed programme from Bill’s last 2004 tour, which I missed.
The evening started with a screening of Memory Codes, a very personal film created and soundtracked by Bill which looked back at his early life and at Wakefield in the ’50s and ’60s. It was interesting, if a little like a home movie, with old photos of Bill and his family, as he grew up in Wakefield.
billn1 The concert started at 8.30pm and was a set of instrumental performances, each one played on a different guitar (I counted 10 guitars, and there were 12 songs so it wasn’t quite one per song). Bill’s guitars have to be seen to be believed. They really are beautiful, exquisite instruments, all of with tinges of 50s and 60s in their design. The music is difficult to pigeon hole, as is the man himself. You can hear the influences, which Bill discussed at one point; The Shadows, Duane Eddy, Santo and Johnny. Add to that echo, futuristic, soaring solos, some funk, and some rock. The video images of the evening included many which I recognised from my youth: Dan Dare, Rupert the Bear, Torchy the Battery Boy (my favourite TV programme when I was a kid), Amazing Worlds, Sci Fi, MarvelMan, old film of Be Bop Deluxe.
biln2 Setlist: ‘Gloria Mundae’ accompanied by images of the sonambulist from the Cabinet of Dr Caligari, and which Bill explained was first performed in Wakefield in 1990 on the Bandstand with his brother.
‘I always knew you would find me’; ‘Blue Amorini’; ‘Think and you’ll miss it’; ‘The boy who lived in the future’ a new number played on the Stratovariouse(?) guitar; ‘The girl on the fairground waltzer’; ‘Beyond these clouds the sweetest dream’; ‘Sleepwalk’ A cover of the Santo and Johnny track. This was simply astounding. It was difficult to believe that it was one guy on stage producing all those sounds. I found it just stunning. Maybe that was because it was the only song which was familiar to me. ‘Golden dream of circus horses’; ‘A dream for Ian’ dedicated to the memory of Bill’s brother. ‘Artifex’ which featured the voice of William Burroughs; and the last song ‘For Stuart’ in memory of Stuart Adamson, with tinges of Big Country running through it. Bill produced Stuart’s band The Skids.
hepwroth2 Bill explained that he would normally perform an encore, but that the back stage area was so far away at the rear of the building, that it would seem silly walking right across their only to return; and hence For Stuart was the encore.
A great performance. It is over 30 years since I last saw Bill Nelson in concert, and his performances are rare occurrences these days. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I certainly wasn’t disappointed; the show made me realise what a tremendous guitar player Bill Nelson is.
sculptureThe event was a total success and a great homecoming for Bill, with lots of family and friends present, including Bill’s mum, nephew and son and youngest daughter; and fans who had travelled from very far afield, including the USA (which makes my 100 mile drive seem nothing at all :))
Stopped off for sausage and chips at the Wetherby Whaler on the way home. Pleased to see that it is still there, and still making fine fish and chips; must be 10 years or more since I last called in; it used to be a regular calling point when David played hockey in the Yorkshire league. Got home just before midnight.

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