Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The Rolling Stones, Murrayfield Stadium Edinburgh, June 9, 2018

The Rolling Stones have been an important part of my life for over 50 years. When I was stones tixa kid, maybe 10 or 11, the public house over the road “The Colliery Inn” would sell off the jukebox copies of recent hit singles when they left the charts, or when the locals lost interest in them. My mates and I would regularly go to the side entrance of the bar, where there was a little hatch and ask the barmaid to look at the records. She would bring out a box of 45 rpm singles, each with their centres pushed out for operation in the jukebox. We would, with delight, look through the pile of records including The Rolling Stones, Small Faces, The Who and others. I can still smell the beer that wafted out of the bar; lovely! There were never many Beatles singles; someone must have held on to them. I remember buying copies of “19th Nervous Breakdown”, “Little Red Rooster”, “Have You Seen Your Mother Baby (Standing in the Shadow)” and “Paint It Black”. I had to buy plastic centres for the records in order to play them on my old record player. I would stack up the records and play them again and again; particularly “Paint It Black”. My lifelong obsession with the Rolling Stones began then.

jagger 1A few years later, I was a young teenager sitting in awe in Newcastle City Hall in 1971, watching in disbelief at my hero Mick Jagger. I couldn’t believe that I was actually saying the Rolling Stones, in real life, in front of me! From then on, I have seen the Stones many times; joining 200,000 fans at Knebworth Park in 1976, many shows in football stadiums around the country, and more recently, concerts in London’s plush O2 arena and at the Glastonbury Festival.

Tickets for The Rolling Stones have always been relatively expensive, in comparison to other bands. In recent days they have reached exorbitant rates. The Stones charge up to £1000 for prime seats. However, I decided to buy much more reasonably priced (cheapest) tickets for £100 each, in an upper tier of the stadium at the side of the stage.

stones progBefore my accident, buying tickets was very different, and much easier. I would go to my computer; a few clicks and I had my tickets! Ticket buying is very different now I need a wheelchair space. I need to locate the accessible phone line and phone that number, only to be put into a queue, listening to music until I finally got through to an operator. I am then allocated my spot in the stadium and a free ticket for my carer. Sometimes I could be in the queue for over one hour, hoping to get tickets. This is admittedly much easier than queueing for tickets which I did many times in the 1970s. I once queued 28 hours outside Newcastle City Hall to buy tickets for the Rolling Stones! The logistics of travelling to a major gig have changed since being in a wheelchair. I need to plan ahead carefully. I book an accessible taxi to the train station, accessible seats on the train and two hotel rooms (one disabled room for me, one twin room for my carers). I take two carers with me, for different shifts during the night. Booking the train involves phoning the accessible travel line and then another number to book train tickets. I need to arrive at the station early and look for the friendly guys with a ramp who assist me on to the train.stones crowd

I thought my years of seeing my heroes finished with my accident but no, here I was in Scotland, witnessing a Rolling Stones concert again. We arrived just in time to catch support act Richard Ashcroft play the Verve hits, “The Drugs Don’t Work” and “Bitter Sweet Symphony”. Soon the Stones exploded onto the stage with “Start Me Up” and didn’t let up for two hours. Jagger and Richards are amazing; the energy they display in their advanced years is unbelievable. Ronnie Wood and Keith Richards perform exciting guitar duels and Charlie Watts sits quietly at the back keeping time. The hits kept flowing: “Paint It Black” (still my favourite after all these years), “Let’s Spend the Night Together”, “Honky Tonk Women” and “Under My Thumb”. One surprise is “She’s a Rainbow” from Their Satanic Majesties Request, which had been requested by fans through the Stones website (a great choice and another one of my favourites). They finish with “Jumping Jack Flash” and “Brown Sugar”. The encores were stones ronnie 1“Gimme Shelter “and (of course) “Satisfaction”.

We (myself and my two carers Joanne and Lisa) wandered into the cool Edinburgh streets to hail a taxi. Two hours later, somewhat lost, and panicking as my chair was running out of charge, as were Lisa’s and Joanne’s phone’s! We eventually found a bus which took us back to Princes Street and a short walk to our hotel. A bit of an adventure! But we all enjoyed it.

Setlist: Start Me Up; Let’s Spend the Night Together; It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It); Tumbling Dice; Under My Thumb; Ride ‘Em on Down (Eddie Taylor cover); She’s a Rainbow (by request); You Can’t Always Get What You Want; Paint It Black; Honky Tonk Women; You Got the Silver (Keith on lead vocals); Happy (Keith on lead vocals); Sympathy for the Devil; Miss You; Midnight Rambler; Jumpin’ Jack Flash; Brown Sugar. Encore: Gimme Shelter; (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.

Thanks to Lisa for taking the photographs.

 

Iron Maiden Newcastle Arena 14 May 2017

maiden tix may 2017Well it has been more than 30 years since The Maiden and I touched base. Too long. I have many happy memories of Iron Maiden and early days at Sunderland Locarno and Newcastle City Hall, Paul Di’Anno and early tracks such as “Running Free”, the entrance of Bruce Dickinson (who I had known as Bruce Bruce from Samson), the hit song “Run to the Hills” and, of course, the ever present giant monster Eddie.

This was one of the first concerts after my accident and I was both looking forward to it and also a little nervous about travelling so far in the back of a taxi and sitting through a rock concert. While I need not have been nervous. There was nothing to fear. As soon as Iron Maiden took to the stage I felt “at home”; a kid again; back in the swirling, magical, loud experience that is heavy rock music. Somewhere along the road Iron Maiden have evolved from pioneers of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal to a classic, almost vintage, heavy rock band.

The current members of the band are the ever present leader, original member, and super bass guitar player Steve Harris, long time guitar men Dave Murray and Adrian Smith, drummer Nicko McBrain and local hero Janick Gers on guitar. And of course, Bruce Dickinson on vocals. Iron Maiden have a style of their own; soaring, operatic rock vocals, triple guitar rock with lots of OTT solos, and a super energetic front man in Bruce Dickinson. Oh, and of course, the aforementioned Eddie who always makes an appearance, lumbering around the stage striking fear into all who dare come near him.

maiden progThey enter the stage to the music of UFO’s “Doctor Doctor” (great choice and clearly setting out their influences) and then straight into a set which draws from their entire back catalogue, and heavily from their new album The Book of Souls. There are lots of songs that are new to me, but they all sound great and when they go back to the early days and “Iron Maiden” and the first encore “The Number of the Beast”, I am on familiar territory. I was expecting “Run To the Hills” and they don’t play it, but hey you can’t always have everything. They leave the stage to the music of Monty Python’s “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”, which about sums the evening and the whole experience for me. My carer, Alan, was a Maiden virgin but really enjoyed the whole thing. A great night with a great band. It was like meeting old friends again. I was back on the rock ‘n’ roll rollercoaster; in a wheelchair, but still rocking away. Happy days are here again.

Setlist: Doctor Doctor (UFO song as intro); If Eternity Should Fail; Speed of Light; Wrathchild;    Children of the Damned; Death or Glory; The Red and the Black; The Trooper; Powerslave; The Great Unknown; The Book of Souls; Fear of the Dark; Iron Maiden. Encore: The Number of the Beast; Blood Brothers; Wasted Years. (Always Look on the Bright Side of Life: Monty Python)

KISS Newcastle Arena 14 July 2019 The End of the Road Tour

kiss tix“James Bond has a license to kill, rockstars have a license to be outrageous. Rock is about grabbing people’s attention.” “I was never interested in being a rock star. I always wanted to be Boris Karloff.” (Gene Simmons).

“A KISS concert experience is like sex or anything else that’s done with more that one person. It’s the give and take that makes it so great. When the audience takes it to the next level, we can kick it up another notch.” (Paul Stanley).

I saw KISS on their first UK tour, so I guess I had to see them on their last! Now I never took them too seriously, but then I guess they never took themselves seriously either. KISS are not, never were and never will be, the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band in the world; but they are a great rock ‘n’ roll experience and one of the best nights out you can have. So, some 43 years since I first saw them at Birmingham Odeon, there I was in Newcastle Arena with my carer, Lisa, witnessing what will probably be my last ever KISS experience.

kiss 1 phoSo I went along, no preconceptions, not expecting too much and more out of interest than anything. And what did I get? Probably in terms of a concert, and experience, the greatest rock ‘n’ roll extravaganza you can imagine. You think of it and KISS do it: loud (and I mean LOUD) rock music, rising drum kit, Gene Simmons spitting blood and breathing fire (and playing some loud, fast bass), Paul Stanley coming round the crowd on a mini stage hoisted on a small crane, explosions, fireworks, rockets: you name it and KISS give you it. A total over the top experience. Wow and double Wow!

Now KISS wear their influences on their sleeves. The intro to the concert is Led kiss 2 phoZeppelin’s “Rock and Roll” (quite fitting). They march on stage and original members Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley get massive cheers from the crowd. Gene Simmons still has the longest, funniest tongue in the business and Paul Stanley remains the ultimate rock god caricature. “Lick It up” contains a short segment of “Won’t Get Fooled Again” (the Who). The songs are not the greatest, nor the most memorable, but they are great rock ‘n’ roll tunes and the spectacle overpowers the music. Of course we all know and sing along to “Crazy Crazy Nights” and (Argent’s) “God Gave Rock ‘n’ Roll to You” and for the rest of the night we get lost in the loudness, craziness and showmanship. In many ways the best rock ‘n’ roll night out you could have. Even Lisa, new to the band, came away with a big grin on her face.

kiss progSetlist: Rock and Roll (Led Zeppelin song as intro); Detroit Rock City; Shout It Out Loud; Deuce; Say Yeah; I Love It Loud; Heaven’s on Fire; War Machine (Gene breathes fire); Lick It Up (with short segment of The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” ); Calling Dr. Love; 100,000 Years (with drum solo); Cold Gin; God of Thunder (Gene spits blood); Psycho Circus; Let Me Go, Rock ‘N’ Roll; Love Gun (Paul on stage in crowd for this song and the next); I Was Made for Lovin’ You; Black Diamond. Encore: Beth; Crazy Crazy Nights; Rock and Roll All Nite; God Gave Rock ‘n’ Roll to You

Many thanks to Lisa for the photographs and Chris for converting them for me.

Blitzkrieg Bop: Various gigs 1977 and 1978

_DSC3253 [LR]Mark recently sent me some great photographs of punk bands playing locally in the late 70s and I have been including these in my posts. One band that I now realise I should have highlighted before is Teesside punk rockers Blitzkrieg Bop, who I saw many times often supporting “name” punk bands. The line-up of Blitzkrieg Bop changed several times but the main character I remember was “Blank Frank” the lead vocalist.

The core line-up of the band started as John Hodgson aka Blank Frank, Alan Cornforth aka Nicky Knoxx & Damian (Dimmer) Blackwell aka Telly Sett. After many line-up changes this trio finally emerged as Blitzkrieg Bop in February 1977, joined by Mick Hylton (aka Mick Sick) and Anne Hodgson (aka Gloria). They recorded their debut single “Let’s Go” / “Bugger Off” / “9 Till 5” and released a limited run of 500 copies in early June 1977. By this time guitarist Dimmer Blackwell had left and the band carried on as a four piece. The single sold out within days and received a good review in the NME. (Adapted from Wikipedia).

I definitely saw Blitzkrieg Bop support Radio Stars at Newcastle Poly (7th October 1977) a_DSC3235 [CROP][LR] gig in which their set was interrupted by young band Speed who would often turn up and play at gigs unannounced. I also saw them supporting Generation X at Newcastle University (11th March 1978), X-Ray Spex at Redcar Coatham Bowl (23rd April 1978) and Penetration at Redcar Coatham Bowl (8th December 1978). I also saw them supporting Penetration at Middlesbrough Rock Garden on at least a couple of occasions (possibly 27th January 1978 and/or 18th March 1978). (Thanks to the great Blitzkrieg Bop site for the dates of the gigs).

Like many of the local punk bands of the time, Blitzkrieg Bop were a breath of fresh air: crazy, kooky, cool (all at the same time!), fast, reckless, exciting and best of all LOUD! Happy, happy days.

Thanks again to Mark for his great photographs of Blitzkrieg Bop, taken at Middlesbrough Rock Garden.

In the next few days I shall return to some more recent gigs and cover concerts I have seen over the last few years including KISS, Rolling Stones, The Who and many more.

The Stranglers Newcastle Polytechnic Green bar 23 February 1977

stranglers1

My Ticket

This is an update of an earlier post, thanks to Mark the promoter, who sent me more details of the first three punk gigs in Newcastle. This was the second gig of the three, the first being the Vibrators and the last being Penetration; both of which I have already written about.

I first saw the Stranglers in the Green bar of Newcastle Poly in February 1977, and have a natty little ticket from the event (pictured here) which shows a victim of (I think) the Boston Strangler. The bar was completely packed. The audience was a mix of students, and locals with a smattering of people starting to wear punk gear. A group of fashion students were into the punk scene and would dress in Vivienne Westwood gear which they must have bought from Seditionaries in London. The Stranglers played a blistering performance featuring early songs, many of which were to appear on their soon to be released first album, “Rattus Norvegicus”. Their only release at the time of the Poly gig was the first single “Grip”/”London Lady”. “London Lady” was probably my favourite song of theirs at the time.

I found a bootleg listed for a performance at Middlesbrough Rock Garden, also on 23rd February 1977. The Rock Garden gig was in fact the night after, on 24th February 1977. The recording shows the set as being: Get A Grip On Yourself; Sometimes; Bitching; School Mam; Peasant In The Big Shitty; Straighten Out; Hanging Around; Ugly; London Lady; Down In The Sewer; Something Better Change; Go Buddy Go. If that set list is correct it seems that the band had already written, and were playing, tracks such as “Bitching” and “School Mam” that would end up on their second album “No More Heroes”.

_DSC3088 [CROP][LR]

Picture courtesy of Mark from a later gig at The City Hall

Mark says: “The Stranglers originally asked for more money than we had in the bank. But they made us an offer… if we put them up for the night, they would reduce their fee by £50, which made the gig possible. They were a great bunch of guys, very interesting to talk to. And they gave my and my bother a lift in their old rover car to the gig at the Rock Garden in Middlesbrough which was the next day. I recorded the Middlesbrough gig and is available amongst collectors (Aha, so that is where the aforementioned bootleg came from; it was courtesy of you Mark!) I also recorded the Newcastle Poly gig, but the sound on the recording was no good, so I didn’t keep it (the sound at the gig itself was great). All the posters had the same design, except different colours. The Stranglers sent publicity stuff, which I used for the tickets. But I designed my own poster, because I didn’t want people copying the poster to forge tickets. At that time, the Stranglers were the best known punk band after the Pistols.”

“RIP Dave Greenfield. His keyboards defined The Stranglers sound.” Well said Bryan.

The Vibrators Newcastle Polytechnic 10 January 1977

vibrators lpThis was another gig promoted by the Alternative Rock Society in collaboration with Newcastle Polytechnic Students Union, and was the first punk rock gig to take place in Newcastle. Mark the promoter says “Jan 77 was originally the Buzzcocks, but they cancelled at very short notice, and the only band we could get to replace them was the Vibrators. There were very few punk bands in existence at the time”.

I was particularly excited about seeing the Vibrators again. Marie and I had seen them a month earlier at Middlesbrough Rock Garden, and had been quite impressed by them. Their single at the time was “We Vibrate” which had quite a catchy riff to it.

“The Vibrators were founded by Ian ‘Knox’ Carnochan, bassist Pat Collier, guitarist John Ellis (who later joined the Stranglers), and drummer John ‘Eddie’ Edwards (who remains in the band to this day). They first came to public notice at the 100 Club when they backed Chris Spedding in 1976. On Spedding’s recommendation, Mickie Most signed them to his label RAK Records. Most produced their first single, “We Vibrate”. “ (Wikipedia)

They were one of the pioneering punk bands that played at London’s Roxy Club. In March 1977 , I was to see them again supporting Iggy Pop on his British tour (with special guest David Bowie on keyboards), when they played at Newcastle City Hall. Later that year, they backed ex-Mott the Hoople frontman Ian Hunter ; Marie and I saw them once again, this time at Newcastle Mayfair.

Buzzcocks cancellation

Letter of cancellation from Buzzcocks

The gig took place in the Green Bar, a small bar upstairs in the Students Union building. Marie and I were right down the front, facing Knox. The music was loud, pounding and exciting. All around us, the crowd were going crazy. Some were starting to do “the Pogo”, the new punk rock dance which involved jumping up and down while standing straight, bolt upright. Soon the crowd would start spitting at the band, although I don’t recall any spitting on this occasion. Sometimes the front man would be covered in spit; which was very unpleasant for the band and anyone close to the front (we soon started standing close to the back!) Happy crazy days! These were incredible times, I felt something new was happening in music, and was becoming converted to punk rock.

I took every opportunity to see punk bands, whenever they came to the North-East. The next gig to take place in the Green bar was the Stranglers, which I shall write about soon.

Many thanks to Mark for allowing me to reproduce the document.

Penetration Newcastle Polytechnic 4 May 1977

I am stepping back in time for my next few blogs. I have recently had some comments by Mark on my blog, reminding me of the first three punk rock gigs to be held in Newcastle, way back in 1977.

I have written quite a long about Penetration, one of the first punkPenetration poster [LR] bands in the north-east, and certainly the first to make any real impact. However, Mark has recently reminded me of these concerts and the fact that he promoted them. Martin, who is writing a book on north-east punk rock, confirms that this along with gigs by the Vibrators and the Stranglers, also promoted by Mark at the same venue, were the first three punk gigs in Newcastle.

Mark says: “There was no contract for Penetration… it was done word-of-mouth because I knew them. We’d met them at a punk gig at the Rock Garden in Middlesbrough. The three gigs were organised by a student society started by me, called the “Aternative Rock Society”. There was some resistence from the official students union entertainments committee to us putting on gigs; but to be fair, they did let us do it, when they could have just totally refused. For legal reasons, the entertainments committee provided security, signed contracts and paid bands. I negotiated contracts, made tickets & posters and did everything else.”

The Penetration gig was the third of these three concerts and, like the others, held in the Green Bar, which was a small bar upstairs in the Students Union of Newcastle Polytechnic. Marie and I went to many gigs at Newcastle Poly, usually on a Friday night; but these gigs, promoted by the Alternative Rock Society, were a bit different and a chance to see punk rock bands close-up. By early 1977 we regularly frequented Middlesbrough Rock Garden on a Friday night, the only venue in the North-East that featured punk bands.

dont dictate

Don’t Dictate

We talked to Pauline and the rest of Penetration at several gigs. I first remember seeing them at the Flamin’ Groovies and The Damned gig at Redcar Coatham Bowl in 1976. I was so jealous that they had seen the Sex Pistols several times and they were clearly well into the punk scene. Musically they were a breath of fresh air and had a great set of early songs, including their anthem and first single “Don’t Dictate“. Many of these songs developed further and were featured on the band’s first album including “Life’s a Gamble”, “Lovers of Outrage”, and “Silent Community”  all written by original guitarist Gary Chaplin and singer Pauline Murray. Another favourite at the time was their excellent version of Patti Smith’s “Free Money”.

Moving_Targets

Moving Targets

This gig gave us another chance to see the band. I remember that we were standing right at the front, as we were for the Vibrators and Stranglers gigs. Punk rock was still new to us, I had swapped my flares for drainpipe jeans and my desert boots for winklepicker shoes with side laces; Densons as I recall. Marie was wearing a black leather jacket, very like a biker’s jacket worn by the Ramones. These were exciting times and we felt we were part of a new movement.

As I recall, Penetration were excellent that night, as always. Happy happy days.

Many thanks to Mark for sending me the image of the poster, and for his memories of organising the gigs. I will report on the Vibrators and Stranglers gigs soon.

 

Brian Wilson Times Square Newcastle 6 August 2017

Support from: Seasick Steve and Martha Reeves

wilson tix

     I hate printed tickets

When I was growing up in the 1960s, there were three singles which stood out for me. Each one was a defining moment. When I heard each of these singles, I stopped doing whatever I was doing and listened intently to the music and the lyrics. Each of these three songs sounded completely new, completely different; as if they had come from another dimension, another planet, some other place. The sound, the lyrics, the music and the mood were all so special to me and remain so until this day. The records were: “Like a Rolling Stone” by Bob Dylan, “Strawberry Fields” by the Beatles and “Good Vibrations” by The Beach Boys. “Good Vibrations” later became widely acclaimed as one of the finest and most important works of the rock era (Wikipedia). So going to see Brian Wilson, the genius behind the last of these three singles is always special.

The other thing that I think is worthy of mention here, and of consideration, is a question. There are, in effect, two versions of the Beach Boys touring. Which one is the genuine article? There is Brian Wilson, the driving force and genius behind the early Beach boys and all those great hitswho is touring with, original Beach Boys guitarist Al Jardine, and The Beach Boys touring band which is fronted by original member Mike Love and Bruce Johnston, who joined the band in 1965 when Brian Wilson stopped touring. Now Mike Love wrote the lyrics to “Good Vibrations” while Brian Wilson composed the music and they were both original members of the band. But many people believe without any of the Wilson brothers, there is no Beach Boys.

York_Racecourse

Source Wikimediacommons Dr Bertrande

Not too many years ago, I went to see the Mike Love touring version of The Beach Boys with Marie at York racecourse. The band played after the horseracing and Marie and I stayed in a lovely hotel directly opposite the racecourse. The Beach Boys played all the hits, and did a pretty good job of doing so, and it was a pleasurable evening (although we did lose on every race). But something was missing. Without Brian, and the true genius of the band, for me The Beach Boys are not complete. I also saw The Beach Boys in the 1970s when Carl and Dennis Wilson were both alive, and Brian was not touring at the time, and they were tremendous. So I think there is a place for both bands, but saying that Brian Wilson is something special; he is the genius behind this band and carries with him the soul and essence of The Beach Boys.

Anyway, to the concert. David, Shauna, Laura, my carer Alan and I all went along to this Brian Wilson concert which took place in Times Square Newcastle, an open-air venue at the Centre For Life. The support acts were pretty strong in the form of soul legend Martha Reeves, and country blues icon Seasick Steve. It was a very rainy day, so to our shame, we decided to miss out on the support acts, stayed dry, and turn up just in time for Brian Wilson’s set. When we did arrive, we were a little squashed on the disabled platform but managed to squeeze in. Brian Wilson’s set was in three segments. He started with some great Beach Boys classics: “California Girls” followed by another of my all-time favourites “I Get Around” and several other classics.

PetSoundsCoverThen we were treated to the album Pet Sounds in its entirety.  Promoted as “the most progressive pop album ever“, Pet Sounds attracted recognition for its ambitious recording and sophisticated music. “It is widely considered to be among the most influential albums in the history of music” (Abjorensen, 2017). The opening song “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” is a classic and great favourite of mine. Other standouts from the album are “Sloop John B”, “God Only Knows” and the closing song “Caroline, No”. Brian closed the set with another segment of Beach Boy hits including the aforementioned “Good Vibrations” (the theremin still gets me), “Barbara Ann” (which I remember being a big favourite of mine and my friends at the time it came out; we all sang it again and again in the play yard), “Help Me, Rhonda”, back to the very start and “Surfing USA”, another great favourite of mine “Fun, Fun, Fun” and they closed with “Love and Mercy”,  the opening track to Brian’s 1988 debut solo album.

wilson prog

My programme

Brian has assembled a great band around him and the songs sound as authentic as the originals. We all really enjoyed the concert, and had a great evening; although Laura was a little on edge and on the phone constantly to Dale as this was the first time she had left Phoebe’s side, as Phoebe was only four weeks old at the time. A lovely evening spent with family and in the presence of a true genius. We are looking forward to going to see Brian Wilson again at the Sage Gateshead in June 2021 post (we hope) coronavirus. Roll on “the new normal”.

Setlist: California Girls; Dance, Dance, Dance; I Get Around; Darlin’; Surfer Girl; Don’t Worry Baby;    Wild Honey; Sail On, Sailor.

Pet Sounds: Wouldn’t It Be Nice; You Still Believe in Me; That’s Not Me; Don’t Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder); I’m Waiting for the Day; Let’s Go Away for Awhile; Sloop John B; God Only Knows; I Know There’s an Answer; Here Today; I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times; Pet Sounds; Caroline, No.

Good Vibrations; Barbara Ann; Help Me, Rhonda; Surfin’ U.S.A.; Fun, Fun, Fun; Love and Mercy

Abjorensen, Norman (2017). Historical Dictionary of Popular Music. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. p. 40. ISBN 978-1-5381-0215-2.

 

 

 

The Hollies Sage Gateshead 14 April 2018

hollies tix 2018Okay. So they come around a lot, and the songs are always quite similar. But never quite the same. There are always a few small changes, which never cease to delight me. After all they have so many great hits to choose from. Sure, I was just a kid at the time, but that’s exactly the point. The Hollies were part of my childhood. A very important part. Every time I see them memories flood back; memories of Saturday mornings at the Top Rank Suite, choosing Paisley Rave shirts with button-down collars, plastic wide two pronged belts from Woolworths, buying cheap coarse hipsters that made you itch all the time, swapping bubblegum cards in the schoolyard, talking about the latest hit records and who we’d seen on Top of the Pops on Thursday night.

The Beatles, the Stones, The Who, and the Hollies. Yes to me this band were a very important part of the 60s music scene. The line-up may have changed over the years, and the singer is no longer the great Alan Clarke, but the soul, the ethos, the power, the choruses and those great harmonies, those voices remain. As the band often say themselves, the Hollies were always about voices and songs. Great songs.

Mars01

Mars Attacks! Trading bubblegum cards in the school yard

The Hollies current line-up is: Tony Hicks – lead guitar, backing vocals (1963–present); Bobby Elliott – drums (1963–present); Ray Stiles (ex Mud) – bass (1986–present); Ian Parker – keyboards (1991–present); Peter Howarth – lead vocals, rhythm guitar (2004–present); Steve Lauri – rhythm guitar, backing vocals (2004–present).Tony Hicks still looks as young as ever (he surely must have a portrait in the attic) and Bobby Elliott is omnipresent in cool, black hat, proudly wearing the Hollies moniker on his drum kit. And singer Peter Howarth brings his own style to the songs, now so well-established in the band that he has the confidence to do so.

bus stopThis is no embarrassing 60s package show; rather it is a two-hour celebration of hits spread across two sets. They start off with “King Midas in Reverse”, the song that so disappointed Graham Nash when it wasn’t a hit, that it was one of the reasons for him eventually leaving the band. Still a great song today. Then off we go into a stream of hits; some sang individually, some mashed together as a medley: “I Can’t Let Go”, “Sorry Suzanne”, “Jennifer Eccles”, “On a Carousel”. This band really were great when at the top of their game in the 60s; and the hits still sound great today. The first set finished with one of my favourites, starting with a classic guitar intro from Tony Hicks: “Look through Any Window”.

In the second set we are treated to more classics and even more of my favourites: “Bus Stop”; I played and played that single until it was worn out; “I’m Alive” (their only number one hit); followed by the very underrated “The Baby”. Then then tell a story, which I have heard so many times now, of a crazy night in a club with Eric Burdon (the Egg Man: but that’s another story) and The Animals as an introduction to “Stop! Stop! Stop!”. When we reach the harmonica introduction to “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” and Tony’s great guitar intro to “The Air That I Breathe”, I know we are close to the end. The encore is the rock ‘n’ roll song “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress”; not a great favourite of mine, but still good to end on. And that’s it. Another evening of 60s classics. Until next time. “The road is long………”hollies prog 2018

Setlist. Set 1: King Midas in Reverse; I Can’t Let Go; Sorry Suzanne; Jennifer Eccles; On a Carousel;    Gasoline Alley Bred; Listen to Me; Magic Woman Touch; Weakness; We’re Through; Priceless;  I Can’t Tell the Bottom From the Top; Just One Look; Stay; Look Through Any Window. Set 2: Here I Go Again; The Day That Curly Billy Shot Down Crazy Sam McGee; Yes I Will; Bus Stop; I’m Alive; The Baby; 4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy); Carrie Anne; Stop! Stop! Stop!; He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother; The Air That I Breathe. Encore: Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress

 

Rod Stewart Durham Cricket Ground 9 June 2017

In search of “Rod the Mod”. “Rod Stewart began his spectacular music career in the early ’60s, and his looks and style earned him the nickname “Rod the Mod.” As a fashion icon, he was known almost as much for his spiky hair and stylish outfits as he has been for that soulful singing voice. Musically, Stewart has always been known for creating and performing classic rock and roll, pop rock, blues rock, folk rock as well as some soul music. His signature raspy voice and limber body, jumping around on stage at live performances, thrust him into the spotlight and landed him in huge demand.” (Groovy History) rod 2016 tix

Now I was a little too young to see the original “Rod the Mod” in the swinging 60s. My first experience of Rod was in the very early 70s when I saw the Faces at Sunderland Top Rank, Sunderland Locarno (John Peel’s all-time favourite gig), the Lincoln Festival of 1972, Newcastle Odeon, the Reading Festivals of 72 and 73 and (in their later days) at the Buxton Festival in 1974. But to me he was still “Rod the Mod” in those days with his gravelly voice, his spiky hair, and some wonderful ramshackle gigs where you never knew if the band was so drunk they would all fall over on top of each other; yet they somehow how held it all together. Then I followed him throughout his solo career; seeing some great concerts at Newcastle City Hall, Glasgow Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow Hampden Park, Newcastle St James’s Park, the Olympic Torch Concert in The Mall (with special guest Ronnie Wood) and many shows at Newcastle Arena. Some may have lost faith with Rod along the way, and “Do You Think I’m Sexy” was a low point for me, but I knew that in all those concerts at some point the old “Rod the Mod” would appear and all would be great again.

Now, even as I write this, a link to Every Picture Tells a Story, Rods 1971 classic album, pops up on the phone of Chris, my carer, as “album of the week”, showing the relevance today of those classic tracks. Now is this a coincidence, something spooky, or evidence that all these devices are linked and tracking our every word? (Louder than War, Rod).

rod access strips 16So there I was, this time in the lovely surroundings of Durham Cricket Ground, Chester-le-Street, still searching for “Rod the Mod”. Would he appear tonight? After all this was now the Las Vegas era Rod, with a massive back catalogue of solo hits to draw from, a big backing band, backing vocalists, and world class visuals and lighting. I had a great view from the disabled viewing platform overlooking the stage and the evening was cool, but still light and pleasant.

The set opened with the band playing an opening song, leading into the emergence of Rod, to a rapturous reception from the massive 17,000 strong crowd. After some great crowd pleasers “Some Guys Have All the luck” and “Tonight’s the Night”; zoom… we were back in time for “Maggie May” and I was grinning from ear to ear and travelling back to my own little world. This was followed by further classics, some better than others, “Forever Young” being performed particularly well and then my time machine, and Rod, took us back to “You Wear It Well” and “the Mod” was back in the house again. This was followed by “Baby Jane”, a particular favourite of mine, “Downtown Train”, “The First Cut rod 2016 progIs the Deepest” and then rolling back again to “Ooh La La”. After a few more songs, Rod took a break while the band and the great vocalists sang “River Deep Mountain High”. Then “Rod The Mod” was back to treat us to “Stay with Me”, his voice as strong as ever. Rod finished with the aforementioned “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?” (do you really still have to sing this one Rod?), Followed by the crowdpleasing, singalong and lots of arm waving “Sailing”. Rod left the stage at this point and the band closed the show. Another great Rod experience, with glimpses of “Rod the Mod” still emerging now and then. My search goes on, and will continue to do so, as long as Rod continues to grace our stages.

Setlist: Soul Finger (band only); Having a Party; Some Guys Have All the Luck; Love Is; Tonight’s the Night (Gonna Be Alright); Maggie May; Forever Young; Rhythm of My Heart; Can’t Stop Me Now;     You Wear It Well; Baby Jane; Downtown Train; The First Cut Is the Deepest; Ooh La La; You’re in My Heart; I Don’t Want to Talk About It; Have I Told You Lately; River Deep, Mountain High (band only sung by backing singers); Stay With Me; Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?; Sailing. Encore: Enjoy Yourself (It’s Later Than You Think) (band only).