Classic Legends of Rock and Folk Newcastle City Hall 1st March 2014

Classic Legends of Rock and Folk Newcastle City Hall 1st March 2014
classiclfyerMartin Turner plays the music of Wishbone Ash
Curved Air
Strawbs
So the Classic Legends of Rock (and Folk) came to The City Hall, the spiritual home of rock in the North East of England. This was an evening of mixed emotions for me. I’ve seen all of these bands headline the City Hall to packed houses. It was great to see them back on the big City Hall stage again, but also a little sad to see such a small crowd (I would guess there were a few hundred people there) which filled the front part of the stalls (the circle wasn’t open). So I enjoyed seeing the bands perform last night, but the memories of 40 years ago, when I stood in a capacity crowd cheering and singing along to “Blowin’ Free” (or on even earlier tours “Jailbait”), “Back Street Luv” or “Lay Down” are forever etched in my mind, and bring back memories of just how great all these acts were; back in those days which are now beginning to seem such a long time ago (which is because it was a long time ago 🙂 ). Anyway, back to the show.
Strawbs were on stage when I arrived just after the advertised start time of 7.30pm. This was the three piece acoustic version, which features David Cousins, Dave Lambert and Chas Cronk, all of whom have been with the band since 1973, and in Cousins’ case from the very start. Their short 30 minute set featured (among a few others songs) the excellent “Hangman and the Papist” (Cousins commented on the fact that old band-mate Rick Wakeman is coming to the City Hall soon, and recalled how they played this track on Top of the Pops during a period when the show featured a regular “album spot”), “Ghosts” and finished with the hit single “Lay Down”. A few minutes to change the gear and Curved Air appeared on stage. The first track was instrumental, with Sonja Kristina joining the band for “It Happened Today”. The latest version of Curved Air features Sonja (vocals), fellow original member Florian Pilkington-Miksa (drums), Kirby Gregory (guitar), Paul Sax (violin), Chris Harris (bass) and Robert Norton (keyboards). We were treated to the beautiful “Melinda (More or Less)” (a favourite of mine), a couple of new songs, a shortened “Vivaldi” and closer “Back Street Luv”. They were on stage for around an hour.
classictixAfter a short break, Martin Turner and his band took to the stage. Those of us who follow both Martin’s band and Wishbone Ash (featuring Andy Powell) will know that the outcome of a recent court case means that Martin is no longer allowed to use the name Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash and is hence now touring as Martin Turner plays the music of Wishbone Ash. I’ve seen both bands several times over the past few years; Martin in particular has been touring a lot. Because of this I wasn’t really too bothered about staying for their set; I’d come more to see Curved Air. As it happened, I was really impressed by Martin and his band last night, and staying through to the encore of “Blowin’ Free”. He has assembled a line-up which faithfully recreates the music of classic ’70s Wishbone Ash with himself as front man, vocals and bass; Ray Hatfield and Danny Wilson having the unenviable task of reproducing the twin-guitar sound, which they do amazingly well, and Tim Wilson on drums. The set included well-known Wishbone Ash songs such as “King Will Come”, “Warrior” and “Pheonix” alongside less often played tracks like “Lullaby” from the “Pilgrimage” album and Laurie Wisefield’s “Goodbye Baby Hello Friend”. A great set with a nice mix of songs; Martin and his band deserved headline status last night.
Looking back this morning on the concert last night, I enjoyed seeing all those classic songs performed again, but for me the evening was tinged with a little sadness and a wish that I could turn the clock back and relive the concerts of the early ’70s. Never mind; I’ve just watched “Hangman and the Papist” from Top of the Pops 1971 on YouTube; powerful; amazing stuff; Cousins is wearing a great coat 🙂 .
Is it really 43 years ago..? I couldn’t print my e-ticket at home then.
“Who will be the hangman in the dawn?”

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