Archive for the ‘Wilko Johnson’ Category

Frank Zappa & the Tubes Knebworth 9th September 1978

image“Oh God, Not Another Boring Old Knebworth” said the posters. Line-up: The Tubes, Frank Zappa, Peter Gabriel, Boomtown Rats, Rockpile, Wilko Johnson’s Solid Senders.
This was the second Knebworth festival to take place in 1978, following the Genesis / Jefferson Starship / Tom Petty gig earlier in the summer. I remember thinking it was a bit late in the year for an open air gig and feared the worst from the weather, but actually it was ok on the day; quite fine. I drove down with a group of mates. We argued all the way down about who was the “best” act of the day. Such things seemed to matter a lot in those days. In the car we had a big Zappa fan (me, and I was sure that Zappa was the biggest and best act and should be headlining), a newly converted Tubes fanatic, and a couple of Peter Gabriel / Genesis fans. Zappa and the Tubes were billed as joint headliners, however on the day the Tubes closed the show, which annoyed me a little. We camped and pitched our tents near a big generator (big mistake) which for some reason we didn’t really notice when we set up. However it was humming loudly all night and powering a massive floodlight which shone on our tents, so we didn’t get much sleep.
The show was opened by the Boomtown Rats, Wilko Johnson who had recently left Dr Feelgood and was fronting his new band Solid Senders, and Rockpile featuring Dave Edmunds and Nick Lowe. All class acts and a great start to the day. I’ve already written about Peter Gabriel and the Tubes in earlier posts. Both were great; the Tubes closed the festival with a massive crazy show. They were joined by Todd Rundgren for encores of Baba O’Reilly and
The Kids are alright, played in honour of Keith Moon who had died just two days before this concert.
Zappa was great, although I didn’t enjoy his performance as much as the concert I saw in Edinburgh the year before. His band had changed and they played very few songs that I knew. Still, it was a good day with a varied, and very strong line-up, although the lack of a major league headliner resulted in a far from capacity crowd.
We spent the night with a big light shining on us, a loud humming noise from the generator, and a few “Wally” shouts (although they were starting to fade away by this point in the ’70s). Very little sleep and a long drive home in the morning.
Zappa setlist: Rubber Slices (The Deathless Horsie); Introduction and Soundcheck; Dancin’ Fool; Easy Meat; Honey, Don’t You Want a Man Like Me?; Keep it Greasey; Village of the Sun; Poor Suckers (The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing); City of Tiny Lites; A Pound for a Brown on the Bus; Bobby Brown; Conehead; Flakes (part 1); Flakes (part 2); Magic Fingers; Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow; Nanook Rubs It; Saint Alfonzo’s Pancake Breakfast; Father O’Blivion / Rollo; Bamboozled by Love
Zappa band: Frank Zappa (guitar, vocals); Vinnie Colaiuta (drums); Arthur Barrow (bass); Ed Mann (percussion); Tommy Mars (keyboards); Denny Walley (guitar, vocals); Peter Wolf (keyboards); and Ike Willis (guitar, vocals).

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Reading Festival 24th – 26th August 1979

Reading Festival 24th – 26th August 1979readingprog79
This was my 8th visit to Reading. The line-up was a predictable mix of new wave and heavy rock. It was also a year of line-up changes. Two of the main bands who were billed to play: Thin Lizzy and The Ramones did not appear. Thin Lizzy pulled out at a few days notice due to Gary Moore’s departure from the band. Lizzy were replaced by Scorpions and The Ramones by Nils Lofgren. Both of these changes were major disappointments. The weather wasn’t bad and the event was well-attended, but didn’t sell out. My recollections of the weekend are below:
Friday line-up: Bite the Pillow, The Jags, Punishment of Luxury, Doll by Doll, The Cure, Wilko Johnson, Motorhead, The Tourists, The Police.
Friday was the “new wave” day. I watched all of the bands from Punilux onwards. Highlights were The Cure who impressed me even though the only song I had heard before was “Killing an Arab”, and Wilko and Motorhead, both acts going down a storm with the crowd, who preferred their rock heavier and more traditional. The Police were riding on the crest of a wave of success, and were amazing, Sting had the crowd in the palm of his hand, and the entire field sang along to the hits. It was great to witness a band at their peak.
The Police setlist: Deathwish; Next To You; So Lonely; Truth Hits Everybody; Walking On The Moon; Hole In My Life; Fall Out; Message In A Bottle; The Bed’s Too Big Without You; Peanuts; Roxanne; Can’t Stand Losing You; Landlord; Born In The 60s
Saturday line-up: Root Boy Slim; Fame; The Yachts; Little Bo Bitch (not sure that they played?); The Movies; Bram Tchaikovsky; Gillan; Steve Hackett; Cheap Trick; Inner Circle; Scorpions
reading79badgeWe spent much of Saturday enjoying the delights of local hostelries and didn’t venture into the arena until later in the day. To be honest, looking at the line-up now, it was pretty uninspiring. We made it into the festival for Gillan onwards. Gillan seemed to play everywhere at the time, and were always good fun. I’d seen them so many times that I was getting to know the new songs, but I also always looked forward to hearing Purple classics, which they did including ‘Smoke on the Water”. Steve Hackett played “I Know What I Like” which prompted a mass crowd singalong. The highlight was Cheap Trick with crazy antics from Rick Nielson and an exquisite performance by Robin Zander. A video of their performance that night is on YouTube. You can find “I Want You To Want Me” here, a bit rough, but still amazing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rTLEYcO2VnE
For the encore Cheap Trick were joined onstage by Dave Edmunds and Bad Company guitarist Mick Ralphs for a rendition of The Beatles’ “Day Tripper”. Classic 😄
Inner Circle’s reggae rhythms went down well. Scorpions were great (I really liked “Loving You Sunday Morning” at the time), but we were disappointed that we weren’t seeing Lizzy who had become a Reading favourite and were massive at the time.
readingpaper79Sunday line-up: The Cobbers; Terra Nova; Speedometers; Zaine Griff; Wild Horses; The Members; Molly Hatchett; Climax Blues Band; Nils Lofgren; Peter Gabriel; Whitesnake.
Sunday highlights for me were The Members who were in the charts with “Sounds of the Suburbs” and got a mixed reaction from the crowds with some people liking them, and others lobbing cans, and Peter Gabriel who started with “Biko” and played classic solo tracks like “Moribund The Burgermeister”, “Solsbury Hill” and “Here Comes The Flood”. Phil Collins joined Gabriel for the end of his set for “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway”. Whitesnake closed the evening and were worthy headliners (although they weren’t billed as so, with Peter Gabriel and non-showers The Ramones having shared top billing in the pre-festival publicity). They started with an amazing new song “Walking in the Shadow of the Blues” which set the tone for the evening. Ian Paice had just joined on drums and Whitesnake now had three former Purple members (Coverdale, Lord and Paice).
Whitesnake setlist: Walking In The Shadow Of The Blues; Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City; Steal Away; Belgian Tom’s Hat Trick; Mistreated; Soldier Of Fortune; Love Hunter; Breakdown; Whitesnake Boogie.
An enjoyable Reading weekend, if not one of the strongest line-ups.

Great British R&B Festival Colne August 26th 2013. Chris Farlowe, Climax Blues Band, The Pretty Things, and Wilko Johnson

Great British R&B Festival Colne August 26th 2013. Chris Farlowe, Climax Blues Band, The Pretty Things, and Wilko Johnson
band Marie and I spent the bank holiday Monday afternoon at the Great British R&B Festival, which is held each year in Colne, Lancashire. Yesterday afternoon’s line-up was particularly strong, featuring Chris Farlowe, Climax Blues Band, The Pretty Things, and Wilko Johnson on the International Stage which is in the Municipal Hall on the main street.
The Norman Beaker Band opened the proceedings at 2pm. Or rather the proceedings were actually opened by the crazy compare, wearing a fluorescent suit and hat. The guy did a great job on introducing the bands, changing his suit and hat throughout the day, getting more and emore outrageous as the day went on. Norman and the guys played a couple of songs before they were joined by Chris Farlowe. It’s a few years since I saw Chris. His voice was as soulful as ever, and the years haven’t diminished his energy or style. They played a set of favourites including Stormy Monday Blues; Tough on you, Tough on me; The Small Faces’ hit All or Nothing, and Handbags and Gladrags. They closed with (of course) his big hit Out of Time. The guy remains a master of R&B. Pure class and a great way to start the day.
Next up was The Climax Blues Band. Now if its a few years since I saw Chris, it’s even longer since I saw these guys in concert. In fact I think the last time I saw them was probably I the mid 70s. The line-up has changed many times over the years, with no-one remaining from the early days of the band. The current band continues the Climax traditional of recreating an authentic Chicago blues sound. We slipped out for something to eat,but got back in time to catch the end of their set, including their hit single Couldn’t Get It Right. colneprog The Pretty Things are a big favourite of mine, and they never let me down. The current line-up of the band features originals Phil May on vocals, tambourine and maracas, and Dick Taylor on guitar, along with long standing Pretty Frank Holland on guitar and mouth organ. They started the set with a couple of old R&B tunes, and the classic Cries From the Midnight Circus. Phil then explained that, although it was a blues festival, they had to play something from their classic album S F Sorrow. So next up was S F Sorrow is Born and She Says Good Morning. The three front men then switched to acoustic mode to sing a couple of old blues: Come on in my Kitchen, and Little Red Rooster, featuring some excellent slide guitar from Dick, growling vocals from Phil and great blues harp courtesy of Frank. These guy know how to sing the blues, and they just held the place spellbound. Then it was back to their old rock roots for Mona, and Midnight to Six Man. Great stuff. The Pretty Things were swiftly followed by the great Wilko Johnson. Wilko’s situation has been well documented, and his recent appearances have apparently all been joyous celebrations of his music and legend. Thankfully Wilko is still able to play and, in his own words: ‘It seems that I am still being spared the final onslaught of my terminal cancer. As the memory of the Farewell Tour recedes I am feeling again the desire to get up on stage and do my thing while health allows – so it is that I have decided to make some festival appearances during during the summer’. wilko He had asked specially to play at the festival, having done so several times in the past, and everyone present yesterday was delighted to see him. First Wilko was presented with an award for British Blues legend, he then started his set with the Feelgood’s song All Through the City, and also included the Feelgood classics Going Back Home, Roxette, Back in the Night and She Does It Right. The crowd clearly love the guy, and it was a very emotional show, with Wilko strutting his stuff back and forth across the stage, chopping away at his telecaster with those familiar riffs. Its many years since I’ve seen Wilko in concert and I felt privileged to have the opportunity to do so once more. I must also mention Norman Watt-Roy whose bass playing was simply stunning. Again, its many years since I’ve seen Norman perform, probably since I he was with Ian Drury and the Blockheads. The encore was a very emotional Bye Bye Johnny, with everyone waving Bye Bye to Wilko. The crowd were on their feet for a full 5 or 10 minutes after he finished, giving him a real standing ovation. Strong stuff.
We left after Wilko’s set, and drove back up north to pick Laura up and then return home.