Posts Tagged ‘concert’

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).

 

 

 

 

Ian Anderson Christmas concert Durham Cathedral 14 December 2017

jethro durham tixThe Ian Anderson Christmas concerts have become a regular part of his concert calendar. Each year he plays a few of these concerts at selected cathedrals around the country. This time we were lucky enough for him to come to the majestic surroundings of Durham Cathedral. The concerts take a similar format; a mix of festive songs, songs from the Jethro Tull Christmas album, often a special guest, and a selection of Jethro Tull favourites.

The concert was billed as “Ian Anderson plays the Christmas Jethro Tull: Ian Anderson brings his Christmas Jethro Tull concert to Durham Cathedral. A fundraising event in support of Durham Cathedral.”

Durham_Cathedral_20_July_2019So I turned up on a cold winter’s night in my taxi, with Jackie my carer, which dropped me off right at the door of Durham Cathedral. I was greeted inside by my friends Norman, his sister Barbara and our old friend Doug. Now Durham Cathedral is a wonderful venue for a concert. “Durham Cathedral is a Norman church in England, designed under the direction of the first Bishop of Durham, William of Calais. It was built to house the remains of St. Cuthbert, but also to show off the might of the new Norman rulers. Construction began in 1093 and lasted 40 years.” (study.com)

The audience were seated in the pews in the central nave of the cathedral, with the stage situated in front of the high altar. I was seated in my wheelchair, in the aisle at the end of a row, around halfway back in the cathedral, with a good view of the stage. Ian was accompanied by the rest of his “Jethro Tull” band.

1024px-Durham_Cathedral_NaveThe concert was in two halves; the first set opening with festive classics “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” followed by “Gaudete” made famous by Steeleye Span. This was followed by a selection of tunes from the Jethro Tull Christmas album, including the great single “Ring Out, Solstice Bells”. Highlight of this set was a performance of Greg Lakes’ “I Believe in Father Christmas”. The set ended with the beautiful flute solo “Bourrée”, written by Bach and featured on Jethro Tull’s Stand Up album.

After a short break, the second set featured Ian’s friend Loyd Grossman playing his former punk band Jet Bronx and the Forbidden’s single “Ain’t Doin’ Nothing”. The set ended with Tull classics “My God” (a particular favourite of mine), “Aqualung”, closing with the encore (as always now) “Locomotive Breath”.

jethro durham progIan was on great form all evening, entertaining us with his usual anecdotes and some excellent flute playing. I can’t think of a better way of spending a cold Christmas evening than one with old friends, festive music and Ian Anderson and his band playing Jethro Tull classics. A great start to Christmas.

Setlist.

Set 1: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen; Gaudete; We Five Kings (Jethro Tull); A Christmas Song  (Jethro Tull); Ring Out, Solstice Bells (Jethro Tull); Pastime With Good Company; Christmastime Romance; I Believe in Father Christmas (Greg Lake); Jack-in-the-Green (Jethro Tull); Bourrée in E minor (Johann Sebastian Bach).

Set 2: Holly Herald (Jethro Tull); Ain’t Doin’ Nothing (Jet Bronx and the Forbidden AKA Loyd Grossman); Toccata and Fugue in D Minor (Johann Sebastian Bach); My God (Jethro Tull); Aqualung (Jethro Tull). Encore: Locomotive Breath (Jethro Tull)

Image of Durham Cathedral courtesy of: Rubbish computer / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

Image of Durham Cathedral nave courtesy of: Michael D Beckwith – Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=79861899

Julie Felix Old Cinema Launderette Durham 28 September 2019

Screenshot felixI have many happy memories of the sadly missed Julie Felix. She first came to my attention in 1966, as the resident singer on the BBC television programme The Frost Report, presented by David Frost. Born in America, and of Mexican origin, Julie became the first solo folk performer signed to a major British record label, Decca Records. In 1965, she was the first folksinger to fill the Royal Albert Hall, and was described by The Times as “Britain’s First Lady of Folk”. But I remember her best for her own TV shows for the BBC (1967 to 1970). Among those featured on her show were the Kinks, The Hollies, The Incredible String Band, Fleetwood Mac, Leonard Cohen and Led Zeppelin’s lead guitarist, Jimmy Page, who played the guitar solos “White Summer” and “Black Mountain Side”. I have particularly fond memories of seeing Jimmy Page on her show.I also, of course, remember her for the children’s song “Going to the Zoo“.

julie felixI first got to see Julie Felix live at a free concert in Hyde Park in 1974, which was headlined by Roger McGuinn and also featured an epic performance by Roy Harper, accompanied by David Gilmour, John Paul Jones and Steve Broughton. Julie was just great that day in Hyde Park, singing a selection of folk songs and getting the crowd to sing along to “Going to the Zoo.” I went to the concert with my friend Will and have written about it in an earlier blog entry.

The next time I saw Julie Felix, again with Will, was at her 70th birthday concert at the Sage Gateshead. This time Julie did a much longer set than that which I had experienced in Hyde Park, reminiscing about her friend and protégé Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan and other friends and fellow folk singers.

So when I saw she was appearing at the Old Cinema Launderette in Durham I couldn’t resist the opportunity of seeing her again in such an intimate venue. I arrived at the venue with my carer, Joanne, just after the doors opened and managed to get a place close to the front. First up for the evening was local folk singer Bethany Elen, who got the audience singing along and warmed us up nicely for the main performance. Julie performed two sets, singing a selection of folk songs from across the decades. Julie Felix had a unique, beautiful voice which remained strong, even though she was 81 at the time of this performance. felix debut

It was wonderful to see her again in such a small venue. Sadly, it came to an end all too soon, as my taxi arrived and Joanne and I had to leave the concert before the end, picking up Chris along the way to help me on my way into my bed.

Julie Felix sadly passed away on March 22, 2020 after a short illness, and we lost yet another of my 60s heroes.

The set list was probably something like this (to my shame, I can’t recall the exact songs she sang and I had to leave before the end anyway 😦 ): Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right (Bob Dylan); Masters of War (Bob Dylan); Pack Up Your Sorrows; Valenzuela; Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye (Leonard Cohen); Chimes of Freedom (Bob Dylan); Anything Less Than Beautiful; Universal Soldier (Buffy Sainte-Marie); Woman; El Condor Pasa (Simon & Garfunkel); We Wish You Love; Rock Me Goddess; Healing Hands; Going to the Zoo; This Land Is Your Land; Peace Is A River

 

The Shining Levels Darlington Library 22nd November 2019

From the original blurb on the excellent site Tracks Darlington

HARK! The sound of stories. An evening of music inspired by tales from times past. Historical. Mythological. Folkological. Fill your ears and your souls with songs of stagmen, golden apples, coiners, diamond rings and murder for love. History is darker than you think.

THE SHINING LEVELS: Presenting music inspired by the award winning novel The Gallows Pole by Ben Myers. Haunting harmonies and beautiful folk fusion, interspersed with readings from the book. Written on the edge of the Northern English moors and using rural folk musicians, loops and electronics, their debut album is a heady brew of gritty landscape hymns, ethereal acid-folk, borderlands ballads, 70s folk horror atmospherics, moor-top drones and much, much more.”

hark tixA taxi from Sunderland to Darlington (return) is expensive. But, what the hell, my lovely daughter Laura was singing in the band The Shining Levels at Darlington Library. Well I had to go, didn’t I? So my kindly Station Taxis driver drove me, along with my carer Jackie, waited for me, and then drove me back home afterwards.

“The Shining Levels are a brand new music collective based in Durham and Northumberland, who record on the edge of the Northern English Moors and seek inspiration from books. Their new album, Music Inspired By The Novel The Gallows Pole (a novel written by Durham-born author Benjamin Myers) uses rural folk musicians, loops and electronics, takes influence from the likes of Pentangle, Sandy Denny, Tom Waits alongside a love of ambient music, hip-hop production and musical obscurities. The result is music that is as exquisite as it is interesting.” Narc The Shining Levels are Davy J (vocals, guitar and piano), DW Coggins (vocals and guitar), Laura Smith (vocals and loop pedals), Christina Cuthbertson (vocals and flute) and Jenny Clewes (vocals and violin).laura shinning levels

Jackie and I arrived at Darlington library, entered a lift which took us from the street into the library itself, where the performance took place surrounded by shelves of books; quite a strange and unique, yet very appropriate, setting for an evening of book readings and folk roots world music, some of which was inspired by a book (namely the Gallows Pole).

We were seated at the side of stage with a great view of the performance. The evening started with some book readings, followed by the exquisite Storm Chorus, a duo from the edge of the North Yorks moors whose music is a haunting mix of folk and Goth. Then the Shining Levels took the stage and delivered a set of songs, written by Davy and Dan, which draw from the book the Gallows Pole, laura black n whiteand transfixed the audience in their haunting, swirling mix of sounds. The eclectic combination of folk music, book readings and mix of flute, violin, a female trio of vocals and male vocals has to be experienced to understand just how beautiful, yet at the same time dark and powerful, their sounds can be. Live in London Of course I am biased, being the very proud father of Laura, but the review above also demonstrates just how haunting a combination it is. Jackie and I are both getting to know the songs and the music and each time we experience it we notice new nuances and textures. The performance was over far too soon and then we were off downstairs in the lift, after a quick word to congratulate Laura and the others, and into our waiting taxi. Soon we were back home, having picked up Chris, who helped me back into my bed, the music still swirling around in my head.

 

Hawkwind Sage Gateshead 20th October 2018

Hawkwind returned to the Sage with a fantastic show which only they could produce. hawks tix2This extravaganza had everything a Hawk fan such as myself could dream of; the band played a set of classy psychedelic rockers which spanned their entire career coupled with a new concept album The Road to Utopia, an orchestra conducted by super Womble Mike Batt and return of their old friend and my own hero, Arthur Brown. What more could an old, knackered, true Hawk connoisseur ask for?

So we took our seats (me literally, as the Sage kindly removes a seat to make space for my wheelchair); carer Hannah and I for this never to be forgotten Hawk experience. For me, this was one in a long series of experiences of both Hawkwind and Arthur Brown concerts; for Hannah it was her first experience of both (and she had also never heard any of the music of either performers). The concert began with an expanded, extended, dynamic version of “Assault and Battery”; a song which once seemed new to me and now has earned its place as a true Hawkwind classic. Captain Brock remains at the helm, as always, but gone is long time band member Mr Dibs; the Hawkwind family continues to change over time, but the spirit and the soul of the band remains as true to its psychedelic roots as ever. arthur brown

The orchestra added a new dimension to the songs. This, complemented by excellent lighting effects, a laser show and a backdrop displaying a Futurescape of the road to Utopia, made for an experience on a different level to previous Hawkwind concerts.

Arthur Brown was as manic as ever, his booming operatic voice taking the songs to a new level. His narrative to “Sonic Attack” gave the song new relevance in an age where we were about to be thrown into a world with a future as unknown as ever before. His costume changes were as bizarre as always, the long staff returned to be banged on the stage floor and his silver foil hat and cape was my favourite. We sat transfixed Hannah (yes she loved it) and I; the whirring, swirling sounds weaving their magic around us. The encores were “Spirit of the Age”, “Hymn to the Sun” and (of course) a tremendous, thundering, majestic closing song “Silver Machine”. Mesmerising. Video

Setlist: Assault and Battery; The Golden Void; Shot Down in the Night; Paradox; We Took the Wrong Step Years Ago; The Black Corridor; The Watcher; Sonic Attack; Damnation Alley; Zarozinia; Intro the Night; Down Through the Night; Have You Seen Them; Arrival in Utopia. Encore: Spirit of the Age; Hymn to the Sun; Silver Machine.

 

Soft Machine Kendal Brewery Arts Centre 19 March 2016

Soft Machine Kendal Brewery Arts Centre 19 March 2016
brewery-arts-centreWhen I was a teenager I would listen intently to “In Concert” on the radio. There are three broadcasts that I recall very strongly. The first was by Led Zeppelin, recorded at the Albert Hall; the second Fleetwood Mac; and the other was Soft Machine. It will have been 1970 or 1971. Of the three, the Soft Machine concert was, for me, the most memorable. I still remember the impact it had. The strange sounds coming out of my radio intrigued me; I immediately became a fan. The music was so different to that of other bands, and to anything else I was listening to at the time. If I remember correctly, the concert was introduced by John Peel, who championed Soft Machine at the time. Their “songs’ sounded like long improvisations; however I now realise that was the nature of the band’s music and the songs were probably more planned than I thought. I think they may have played “Moon in June”, “Facelift” and a few other tracks from “Soft Machine 3”.
I only got to see Soft Machine live twice. Both occasions were in the mid-70s; by which time Soft Machine had completed its transformation from psychedelia to jazz-rock. The first time I saw the band was at the Reading Festival, and the second at Newcastle Guildhall as part of the Newcastle Jazz Festival. Last night I took up on the chance of seeing Soft Machine again; when the latest line-up performed at Kendal Brewery Arts Centre.
The current line-up of Soft Machine was launched (initially as Soft Machine Legacy) in 2004. The line-up consisted of Elton Dean, Hugh Hopper, John Etheridge and John Marshall: four long-time members from different eras of the legendary group. In 2006 Elton Dean sadly passed away and his place on sax and flute was taken by Theo Travis, who has an association with Gong and David Gilmour and is a long time fan of Soft Machine’s music. Hugh Hopper sadly passed away in 2008. His place was taken by veteran bass player Roy Babbington, who first joined the group in 1970. This reunited 3/5ths of the 1975-77 Soft Machine line-up. SoftMachine_2016Since 2010 the band has recorded a new, and highly acclaimed album “Burden of Proof” and they continue to tour. “Burden of Proof” is (from the venue website): “a collection of songs that basically has something for everyone; challenging jazz-fusion, adventurous prog-rock, bits of chaotic free-jazz, atmospheric instrumental pop-jazz, and even a little hard rock. Extraordinary!”
I had an uneventful drive over to Kendal, and took my seat in the Malt Room of the Brewery Arts Centre. Last time I was here was to see Marianne Faithful; which was some years ago. It’s a great venue and regularly features some classic acts. I have to admit that I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from Soft Machine; I guess I thought I might find the jazzy instrumental nature of the songs a little hard going. But I also knew that it was going to be worth the effort in order to reacquaint myself with the music of Soft Machine.
The band came onstage just before 8.30pm and launched straight into “The Steamer” from the 2006 Soft Machine Legacy album “Steam”. The sound was clear, crisp. The music a mix of jazz and prog. Guitarist John Etheridge introduced the songs and seemed to be taking the lead. He explained how the last incarnation of Soft Machine had seen former members put old disputes behind them, and how time had allowed that to happen. He also explained that veteran Soft’s drummer John Marshall was unwell, suffering from a bad back and unable to make this tour. The guy standing in did an excellent job.
FullSizeRender(7)The concert comprised two sets and drew from Soft Machine’s extensive back catalogue, going back to 1970 and “3” for “Facelift” and to “4” for “Kings and Queens”. The music was much more varied than I had imagined, and ranged from guitar-riff-driven hard rock, through jazz (with mucho sax) to atmospheric flute-led prog; the latter songs being my own favourites. The musicianship was excellent, and Etheridge joked and talked to the audience a lot more than I had anticipated. In fact, he explained that “back in the day” the members of Soft Machine would never speak to, or acknowledge, the audience. The evening passed quickly, and I realised that I had after all enjoyed it; actually a lot. It was very much a concert; rather than a rock gig; but hey that’s just fine for me these days.
The concert finished shortly after 10.30pm; I was back home around 12.30am. I’ve spent this morning playing my vinyl copies of Soft Machine “3” and “4”. Happy days.
Set 1: The Steamer; Hazard Profile; Chloe and the Pirates; Voyage beyond Seven; Song of Aeolus; Grape Hound
Set 2: Burden of Proof; Facelift / the Last Day; Kings and Queens; Relegation of Pluto / Transit
Encore: Gesolreut