Posts Tagged ‘concert’

Morrissey Newcastle Arena 23 February 2018

morrissey tixSo Morrissey returned to Newcastle, after quite a long hiatus since he last played in the city. Now Laura is a big Smiths and Morrissey fan; and I always liked the Smiths “back in the day” so we try and catch the great man each time he visits the region. In fact we have seen Morrisey quite a few times over the years including previous concerts in Newcastle, a couple of visits to Manchester (one for his 50th birthday concert which was simply tremendous), and concerts in Middlesbrough, Leeds and Sunderland. So this was a special night for us. And we were not alone; a packed arena was clamouring to see the return of the enigma that is Morrissey.

morrissey 2For me, the preshow videos which Morrissey projects onto the stage screen before the concert, are always very interesting and they give an insight into Morrissey’s beliefs, interests and values. This night we were treated to some great film clips including “Loudmouth” by the Ramones; a wonderful nostalgia trip (at least for me) of “Something Here in My Heart” by the Paper Dolls; a somewhat bizarre version of “How Soon Is Now” by t.a.T.u on Top of the Pops; “I’m Black and I’m Proud” by James Brown; the great rock ‘n’ roll singer Robert Gordon; Dionne Warwick; a blast of “God Save the Queen” by Sex Pistols; black evangelist James Baldwin from 1969 in London; a short extract of a talk by Germaine Greer; the excellent Four Tops on top form (pun intended) singing “It’s the Same Old Song”; “Jet Boy” by Morrissey’s favourites the New York Dolls and finally a drag queen called Lipsynka. Wow. A 30 minute blast of Morrissey’s thoughts, feelings and influences. Just sets the scene, and puts the audience in the right mindset, for for the spectacle which follows.

And a spectacle indeed it is. Morrissey is surrounded and supported by a great band and stands straight in front of a big screen which flashes black-and-white images to illustrate the themes and concepts behind his songs. Tonight we are treated to a mix of songs from the new album, a few Smiths’ classics, a (somewhat random?) cover of The Pretenders “Back on the Chain Gang” and a selection of songs from throughout Morrissey’s career. Early on in the set we are treated to “Suedehead”, from Morrissey’s first solo album. Morrissey is, of course, a great storyteller;  “Munich air disaster of 1958” is a tribute to the tragic plane crash: “On the plane was the Manchester United football team, nicknamed the “Busby Babes”, along with supporters and journalists. Twenty of the 44 on the aircraft died at the scene.” (Wikipedia) “The Bullfighter Dies” is sung in front of a somewhat horrific film of a bullfight, emphasising vegan Morrissey’s strong views on animal cruelty (see below for quote from the local paper). “Jack the Ripper” is another story, followed by a wonderful version of the Smith’s “How Soon Is Now”. The encore is “Irish Blood, English Heart” which is, itself, becoming a classic and a favourite of both mine and Laura’s. morrissey 1

““We released our latest CD, long player, cassette in Spain and it didn’t do very well. So this is what we tell them,” he announces – before performing a rabble-rousing version of The Bullfighter Dies, replete with horrific images from real-life bullfights on the big screen. Then there’s four minutes of footage of police brutality during ‘Who Will Protect Us From the Police?’”(Chronicle live)

An excellent performance, and a great return to Newcastle.

Setlist: I Wish You Lonely; Suedehead; I Started Something I Couldn’t Finish (The Smiths); Jacky’s Only Happy When She’s Up on the Stage; Home Is a Question Mark; Munich Air Disaster 1958; My Love, I’d Do Anything for You; When You Open Your Legs; Who Will Protect Us From the Police?; World Peace Is None of Your Business; If You Don’t Like Me, Don’t Look at Me; Back on the Chain Gang; I Bury the Living; The Bullfighter Dies; Jack the Ripper; How Soon Is Now? (The Smiths);  Spent the Day in Bed; Hold On to Your Friends; Everyday Is Like Sunday; I’m Not Sorry. Encore: Irish Blood, English Heart

Thanks to my carer Lisa for the photographs.

Eric Burdon Newcastle City Hall Sat 23 Jun 2018

eric tixEric Burdon is one of my all-time heroes. I have seen him many times over the years so I couldn’t resist going to see a hometown concert at Newcastle City Hall. Eric Burdon is a legendary figure with a giant, deep, soulful voice. He took The Animals from Newcastle to the top the charts, London and around the world. His growling, rasping voice featured on such great hits as “We Got to Get Out Of This Place “, “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” and, of Course, “The House of the Rising Sun”.. Then, when the band split up, he formed his own, more psychedelic version of The Animals and had further hits such as “Monterey” and “When I Was Young”. Eric then became a fully fledged member of the San Francisco scene, a friend of Jimi Hendrix and then fronted the band War in the 1970s. The drive, work ethic and sheer nerve of the guy astounds me. He took himself from the backstreets of Newcastle, around the world and became a major player on the international music scene.

eric picPublicity for the concert read: “Despite Eric being the ripe old age of 77, his voice still packs a punch and he and his band put on one hell of a show. Seriously, the guy is North East music royalty; he and his band inspired generations of artists and wrote gritty, working -class tunes about gritty, working-class subjects before it was cool to write gritty, working-class tunes about gritty, working-class subjects. You can expect all the classic Animals’ tracks from a true master of the blues vocal performance – he’s been playing music for more years than many of us have been alive and he sure knows how to do it.” (NE VOLUME)

This time around Eric fronted a new backing band with young rock/blues players, and very impressive they were too. The set comprised old Animals hits, songs from his later career and soul and blues standards. His voice remains strong, the years have added even more gravel to it; taking his delivery closer to that of the blues legends he based his career on. Indeed, he has become one of the legendary blues men himself; in the mould of the old black blues singers he followed when he was young. Judging by the superlatives I have been using, you can guess that I really enjoyed the show. It was great to see one of my heroes back in his hometown, playing in a venue that he has starred in so many times before. Simply amazing and long may he continue. My carer, Joanne, came away a fan also.

Setlist (was something like this): When I Was Young; Mama Told Me Not to Come; Inside Looking Out; Spill the Wine; Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood; Don’t Bring Me Down; Bring It On Home to Me; Bo Diddley Special; It’s My Life; The House of the Rising Sun (Click on the link before this bracket to see a great video on YouTube); We’ve Gotta Get Out of This Place; Hold On, I’m Comin’; The Blaydon Races.

My grainy photograph was taken at an earlier concert, when I witnessed an equally great performance by Eric Burdon at the Colne Blues Festival.

UFO Last Orders 50th Anniversary Tour Newcastle Academy 28 March 2019

UFO TIX

UFO have always been one of my favourite rock bands. I saw them in the very early days when (I think) Larry Wallis was on guitar, and then slightly later with the great Michael Schenker on guitar, the late great enigmatic Pete Way on bass (his bass guitar almost down around his knees) at Sunderland Mecca and Newcastle Mayfair in the days when “Doctor Doctor” was simply class, and remains one of my favourite songs to this day. They soon graduated from ballrooms to headlining Newcastle City Hall and the Reading Festival once, as I recall. Their classic take on rock with poppy “hooks” made them stand out from other rock bands of the time and they had some great songs, particularly those on the Lights Out album. These included “Love to Love”, “Rock Bottom” and “Shoot Shoot”. The one constant throughout this period, and to this day, was, and is, singer Phil Mogg who has fronted the band for some 50 years. Sadly, this era is coming to an end as Phil Mogg has announced his retirement and this tour was thus named the Last Orders tour. The tour was announced: “This decision has been a long time coming. I’ve considered stepping down at the end of UFO’s previous tours in 2016,” Mogg explained. “I don’t want to call this a farewell tour as I hate that word, but this year’s gigs will represent my final tap-dancing appearances with the band.”

UFO PIX 3I caught up with the tour, with my carer Jackie, when they visited Newcastle Academy last year. To get into the venue in my wheelchair we had to squeeze into one small lift which took us up to the bar level of the venue where our places were waiting for us, with a great view of the stage, looking over the heads of the crowd in front. The venue was packed, with lots of familiar faces from the days of the Mayfair Friday night rock nights. The band came onstage to the sounds of Alex Harvey’s “Faith Healer” as an introduction (great choice) and then launched into a set of old favourites and newer songs, some of which were less familiar to me. But the classics were all there; the aforementioned “Lights Out”, “Love to Love” and “Only You Can Rock Me”. They closed the set with “Rock Bottom”. Perfect. The volume was loud and the songs as classic as ever. We all knew they were going to return and we also knew that there would play “Doctor Doctor”. This was followed by the final song, the great, rocking “Shoot Shoot”.

Sadly, a couple of weeks after seeing the band, longtime guitarist and keyboard player Paul Raymond passed away. The sad news was broken on his Facebook page. “Hi to all the fans and people who knew Paul! This is Sandra, Paul’s life partner speaking,” she wrote. “With a desperate and broken heart, fully in tears and pains that feel like they will kill me I have to tell you that my most beautiful and beloved darling Paul Raymond has passed away today……. He absolutely enjoyed the last couple of weeks touring with UFO in the U.K. & Ireland and he was looking forward to the rest of this year’s tour.”

RIP Paul Raymond. Great memories of a great musician and a great band.

UFO 19 PIXThe tour continues (currently halted because of the coronavirus). The official statement after Paul’s passing was: “On April 13, 2019, the UFO family got the tragic news that our bandmate Paul Raymond had died of a heart attack. It had been just a week since we finished the first leg of our Last Orders tour in the UK. While mourning his loss, sadly we also had to face the reality of what to do with the band. We feel moving forward with the tour is the right thing to do. We all know this is what Paul would have wanted us to do. We are therefore very pleased to announce that our friend and former bandmate Neil Carter has agreed to join us again and take over the keyboards/guitar and vocals slot for the remainder of the tour…. We want to make sure that all our amazing fans get a fantastic experience out of it one more time.“

The current lineup of UFO is Phil Mogg (vocals), the excellent Vinnie Moore (guitar), long standing member Andy Parker (drums), Rob De Luca (bass) who plays a similar Gibson Thunderbird bass to Pete Way, low down on his knees in true Pete Way style and returning member Neil Carter (guitar).

Setlist: Faith Healer (Sensational Alex Harvey Band song as intro); Mother Mary; We Belong to the Night; Messiah of Love; Ain’t No Baby; Lights Out; Baby Blue; Only You Can Rock Me; Burn Your House Down; Cherry; Love to Love; Makin’ Moves; Too Hot to Handle; Rock Bottom. Encore: Doctor Doctor; Shoot Shoot

Van Morrison Newcastle Virgin Money Unity Arena 3 September 2020

So this was my first concert since seeing Elvis Costello in March and my first socially distant concert! Quite a different and in some ways daunting experience. The arrangements all sounded very well organised with everyone attending being in their own little cell, in my case myself along with my carer, Jackie.

van tix

The advertising for the event said: “Get ready for the UK’s first dedicated socially distanced music venue arriving in Newcastle this summer! If you’ve missed live music, the thrill of a shared experience and are ready to get out in Newcastle – you will need to be at this summer’s biggest music event.”

The Virgin Money Unity Arena is based at Gosforth Park, just a 5 minute drive from central Newcastle. The arena is designed to be safe and encourage social distancing with organised car parking, safe queuing systems into the arena and a dedicated area for car-loads of friends or family to enjoy the event.

van 1

The line-up for the series of concerts at the venue was strong but for me, one name stood out: that of the legend that is Van Morrison. Van Morrison is a true artist, and like any true artist he has his highs and lows. He has given me some of the best concert memories of my life, but I have also seen him deliver performances which were disappointing and where it appeared he wished he wasn’t on the stage. However, I would also rate the time I saw him at Newcastle City Hall with the Caledonian Soul Orchestra in the early 70s as one of the best 10 concerts of my life. But that is part of the magic and mystique that is the artist Van Morrison. You can never quite predict how well he will perform or indeed what he will perform but, for me, the experience is always worthwhile.

The arrangements worked well on the night and lived up to promise. Our taxi driver was led through a special entrance round the back of the racecourse and after a swift entry we walked along a track which had been laid across the grass to avoid my wheelchair sticking in any mud (which would not be good) and were taken to our little private cell near the front of the stage. We had been asked to arrive between 6 PM and 7 PM, and the concert started at 8 PM. We arrived at 6:45 PM, which worked well and meant we didn’t have too long to wait. I was soon fortified by a pint of pale ale and, with blankets wrapped around me (it was a little nippy) I was all set up and ready for a night with my hero. It turned out to be a nice night (I was dreading rain); cool, but pleasant.

van2

Van Morrison took the stage just after 8:15 PM resplendent in a long, dark coat and complete with a hat with ear coverings and shades. Very well set up for the night ahead. Tonight we were presented with Van on true, top form. Accompanied by a great, jazzy band tonight we saw Van play lots of saxophone and mouth harp and sing a selection of songs drawn from throughout his career, and including some jazz and blues standards, in his best soulful voice. Quite a lot of scat singing (“bit, but, bat”; I think you know what I mean) but it all fitted together well. Early on in the set we were treated to the early Them classic “Baby Please Don’t Go” and a great version of “Moondance”. We were then treated to a set of rhythm and blues and soul classics including “The Party’s Over” and “Have I Told You Lately”. The set drew to an end with “Brown Eyed Girl” with the band playing while Van left the stage. The band played on, looking over to the left of the stage to see if the main man would return. He did, and closed the set with a tremendous version of “Gloria”. We were soon led along over our little track, the theme G L O R I A ! still bouncing around my head.

Our taxi was waiting to take us back home again, picking up my carer Chris along the way, so that he and Jackie could help me get into bed still thinking how great it had been to be in the company of Van Morrison once again. For me, the man stands up there as a true artist/genius, alongside contemporaries Bob Dylan, David Bowie, John Lennon and Pete Townshend. You really can’t get much better on a nice cool, summer night. I just read that Van Morrison played at the Electric Ballroom in London a few days later and was accompanied on stage by Chris Farlowe. Now that would have been something to see!

Setlist was something like this: A Shot of Rhythm and Blues; Three Chords and the Truth; Baby Please Don’t Go; I Can Tell; Moondance; Carrying a Torch; Wild Night; Did Ye Get Healed?; Have I Told You Lately; Ain’t Gonna Moan No More; Precious Time; Sometimes We Cry; Whenever God Shines His Light; Enlightenment; The Party’s Over; Broken Record; Jackie Wilson Said (I’m in Heaven When You Smile); Brown Eyed Girl; Gloria

Rod Stewart Newcastle Arena 9 July 2019

Rod the Mod goes to Vegas and back to Newcastle.

rod 2019 tixI continue my search for the old Rod (the Mod) Stewart, as I have previously written about. Whatever twists and turns there have been in Rod’s career I know that deep inside of the guy there remains a 60s and 70s core that loves rock ‘n’ roll and soul music, and that his voice is still as gravelly, soulful and amazing as ever. And sometimes, in every concert I go to, that mod soul singer who loved Sam Cooke, the Isley Bros and football comes out, the years roll back, and all is good in the world again. I guess you realise by now that Rod is one of my heroes, and always will be. Period.

Well this time Rod has been showing off his wares in no other than Caesars Palace Las Vegas. I have spoken to two people who went to Vegas on holiday and went to see his show. One is a good friend and the other is one of my regular taxi drivers. They were both totally knocked out by the songs, his voice, the performance, the stage show, the band, the singers and the spectacle of it all.

ROD 2019 PIXAnd now Rod returns back to Newcastle, bringing some of Vegas with him. This is a big Vegas type show. The screens are massive, the videos superb, the backing band top notch and the girl singers range from rock through soul through gospel. This is a number 1 spectacle, with our number 1 hero out front. My carer Jackie loved it and we were both totally knocked out.

So Rod starts by taking us back to his roots with Sam Cooke’s “Having a Party”, followed by a few well-known hits performed in full Vegas style and then….Bam!….Its Faces time and “Stay with Me”, coming surprisingly early in the set, but very welcome nonetheless. A few more songs and another one I love “The Killing of Georgie”. A few more standards and then back to the roots we go again with Etta James, via Chicken Shack, and “I’d Rather Go Blind”. The old ones keep coming: “Reason to Believe” (bringing back memories of seeing Tim Harden so many years ago at Sunderland Empire), “Dirty Old Town” the Ewan MacColl classic. A few more songs and we are reaching the end. Rod leaves the stage while the band perform “She Works Hard for the Money”. Rod returns and sings “Baby Jane”, which I still love, “Sailing” (sorry Rod but I never did like this one), “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy” (do you really still have to sing this Rod?) And finally “Maggie May” and all is good again! I go home happy.

rod 2019 progSo once again Rod delivered. This time in true Las Vegas style. Until next time.

Setlist: Having a Party (Sam Cooke); Young Turks; Some Guys Have All the Luck; Tonight’s the Night (Gonna Be Alright); Stay With Me (Faces); Forever Young; Rhythm of My Heart; The Killing of Georgie; It Takes Two; Tonight I’m Yours (Don’t Hurt Me); I’d Rather Go Blind (Etta James); Rollin’ and Tumblin’; Going Home: Theme of the Local Hero (band only); Grace; Reason to Believe (Tim Hardin); Dirty Old Town (Ewan MacColl); I Don’t Want to Talk About It; Have I Told You Lately (Van Morrison); She Works Hard for the Money (Donna Summer; band only); Baby Jane; Sailing; Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?; Maggie May

 

Ian Hunter and the Rant Band Whitley Bay Playhouse 3 July 2017

In Seventy-one all the people come
Bust a few seats but it’s just in fun
Take the Mick out of Top of the Pops
We play better than they do…..

Do you remember the Saturday gigs
We do, we do
Do you remember the Saturday gigs
We do, we do” (Saturday Gigs, Mott the Hoople, 1974)

ian hunter‘Unter is back in town. The guy who has given me so many wonderful memories over the years. The guy who has rock and roll in his blood. Forgive me while I reminisce a little, but seeing Ian Hunter brings so many memories flooding back of so many happy, happy days and nights. I owe this guy so much.

This is the guy who had long curly ginger locks and his iron cross guitar and sang about “Walking with a Mountain” and “Rock ‘n’ Roll Queen” and blew us away with proper rock long before “Dudes” and who I saw at Sunderland Mecca with a young up-and-coming prog band called Genesis as support. Who caused so much mayhem at Newcastle Mayfair that the bouncers brought Alsatian dogs in to control the crowd. This is the guy who brought his Rock ‘n’ Roll Circus to Newcastle City Hall with none other than Max Wall as support. This is the guy who couldn’t make his mind up whether he was Bob Dylan, Little Richard or Jerry Lee Lewis, when actually he was Ian Hunter and that was enough in itself. Who brought us “All the Young Dudes” and the band was reborn.

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

Who sang to me from the stage at the Buxton Festival about “The Golden Age of Rock ‘n’ Roll” complete with grand piano and a candelabra on top at what was to be Mott’s final UK gig (I think), while I stood in the mud and the rain. Who then teamed up with his old mate Ronson for a great single “Once Bitten Twice Shy” and a great concert at the City Hall. This guy then went solo, returned to the Mayfair with a grand piano at the height of punk rock, and had the Vibrators as support. Who reformed Mott the Hoople and gave me a great night at Hammersmith Odeon sat one row behind none other than Mick Jones of the Clash, a big Mott fan. And throughout the years his passion, rock ethos, drive and love for rock remained undiminished. Sorry for my rant, but this guy is one of my heroes (as you may have gathered).

So there I was, with Alan my carer, on the end of a row near the front in my wheelchair at Whitley Bay Playhouse ready to see my hero again. The audience was a mix of ages, ranging from faces I recognise from the Mayfair in the early 70s, through punks, Mott the Hoople fans and people who just like genuine heartfelt rock. And ‘Unter delivered, again. Two hours of great rock ‘n’ roll with a band of class musicians who provide a relentless backdrop for Ian’s vocals. The hair is not quite so ginger or curly, but the voice is as strong as ever. Two songs in and we get the aforementioned “Once Bitten Twice Shy”, a string of Hunter solo songs, now becoming classics themselves, then the opening guitar of “Roll Away the Stone” blows me away as it always has done. He closes with a nudge back to the past and one of his influences Lou Reed with “Sweet Jane”. The encore includes, as it has to and should, “All the Young Dudes” and the final “Good Night Irene” which seems to have become the closer at the moment.

2017-tour-ian hunterAmazing. One of the best times I have seen him. The guy was pushing 80 at the time but still has more energy, passion and drive than many half his age. I bump into Pauline and Rob of Penetration, who are surprised to see me in my wheelchair and I explain my predicament. Another night of memories, to park in the Mott/Ian Hunter collection. Till the next time, Ian. Let’s hope it is soon.

Setlist: That’s When The Trouble Starts; Once Bitten Twice Shy; Fatally Flawed; When I’m President; Saint; The Truth, the Whole Truth, Nuthin’ but the Truth; Morpheus; Just Another Night; Fingers Crossed; All American Alien Boy; Standin’ in My Light; All the Way From Memphis; Ghosts; Roll Away the Stone; I Wish I Was Your Mother; 23A, Swan Hill; Bastard; Sweet Jane. Encore: Dandy; Long Time; Life / All the Young Dudes / Goodnight Irene

Many thanks to Jim Summaria for allowing use of his image of Ian Hunter through Wikimedia Commons.

 

 

Ian Anderson / Jethro Tull Newcastle City Hall 5 April 2018

“The train it won’t stop going
No way to slow down” (Locomotive Breath, Jethro Tull, 1971)

tull 50th tixThe sixth formers would carry LPs under their arms to school. They played them in a little room upstairs in the dining hall at lunchtime. Sometimes, if I was lucky, they allowed me upstairs to their elite “Record Club” to listen to their new, magical, psychedelic sounds. The records they carried were badges of honour and included Frank Zappa’s Hot Rats, the Crazy World of Arthur Brown album, Cream’s Wheels of Fire, Tyrannosaurus Rex’s My People Were Fair and Had Sky in Their Hair, But Now They’re Content to Wear Stars on Their Brows, and Jethro Tull’s This Was. This Was included a mix of blues, rock and strange flute playing. A year or two later, I am sitting in my mate’s house and we are playing Jethro Tull’s second album Stand Up, with it’s great sleeve which opened out to a set of pop-ups of the band. How cool we felt. Then, in 1971, we all went to see Jethro Tull at Sunderland Empire. Happy days and magical memories. The die was cast. We were all Jethro Tull fans for life.

Roll-on 50 years. Only Ian Anderson remains from that original band and he is touring as Ian Anderson plays Jethro Tull, The 50th Anniversary Tour. Wonderful. What’s not to like. Why not go along and reminisce with old friends, listen to some old sounds, because let’s face it, we all like “Living in the Past”.

The current lineup of “Jethro Tull” is Ian Anderson – vocals, flute, acoustic guitar; David Goodier – bass; John O’Hara – keyboards, accordion, vocals; Scott Hammond – drums; and Florian Opahle – electric and acoustic guitars.

tull 50th progSure, Ian’s voice is not what it was and the old coat is gone, but the flute playing seems great and the songs remain as soulful, passionate, poignant and intriguing as ever. So we start at the very beginning (a very good place to start) with “My Sunday Feeling”; Track 1 Side 1 of This Was. This is followed by their first minor chart hit “Love Story”, followed by “A Song for Jeffrey” which is well known to all of us from the cheap compilation album You Can All Join In. Pure magic. The years disappear and the old songs flow over us all. These are followed by other classics from the first couple of albums. My favourites are the aforementioned “Living in the Past”, the magical flute solo which is “Bouree” and the spooky, almost scary “Witches Promise” bringing back memories of Ian’s wide-eyed madness on Top of the Pops (and didn’t our parents disapprove of him!). Set 1 closes with “Cross Eyed Mary”.

After a short interval Ian and the band return to treat us to excerpts from Thick As a Brick and A Passion Play. Then we have a run through the 70s albums moving into more more folk rock territory including “Songs from the Wood” and the Christmas song “Ring out, Solstice Bells”. Set 2 closes with a tale of that seedy tramp “Aqualung”. The encore is, as usual these days, “Locomotive Breath”. And then it is over. We quickly chat with old friends again and then go our separate ways. Until next time. Of course it will never be the same, but Ian Anderson did the Tull legacy proud, and gave us all a night to remember. Happy days.

Setlist. Set 1: My Sunday Feeling; Love Story; A Song for Jeffrey; Some Day the Sun Won’t Shine for You; Dharma for One; Living in the Past; A New Day Yesterday; Bourrée in E minor (Johann Sebastian Bach); With You There to Help Me / The Witch’s Promise; My God; Cross-Eyed Mary. Set 2: Thick as a Brick (excerpt); A Passion Play (excerpt); Too Old to Rock ‘n’ Roll, Too Young to Die; Songs From the Wood; Ring Out, Solstice Bells; Heavy Horses; Farm on the Freeway; Aqualung. Encore: Locomotive Breath

The Pretenders Newcastle City Hall 30 September 2017

“I’m special, so special,” (Brass in Pocket, The Pretenders, 1979)

pretenders tixChrissie Hynde is as sassy, soulful, passionate and uncompromising as ever. No longer a young rocker who grew out of punk, new wave, working in Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood’s shop in the Kings Road, who almost married Sid Vicious, and did marry her hero Ray Davies, Hynde still strikes a commanding pose and comes armed with a set of rocky, jangling songs which are as relevant and as much fun as they ever were.

Laura, Jackie my carer and I went along to the City Hall looking forward to hearing a string of hits, some great rock ‘n’ roll, and seeing the living icon that is Chrissie Hynde. The girls sitting beside us were a little worse for wear, singing along with every song and every now and then threatening to fall on top of, and flatten, Laura. All the ingredients for a fun night out, on the town (or should I say “the toon”).

And a fun night it was. The Pretenders treated us to a set of new songs, old hits, Chrissie Hynde solo tunes and more. After a couple of songs I didn’t recognise the old classics started to emerge: “Message of Love”, the exquisite “Talk of the Town” and then we were back to the start and “Kid” with images of the young Chrissie being soaked in beer thrown over her by members of the crowd at the Mayfair in the late 70s flashing through my mind.

The band may be different with only Hynde and drummer Martin Chambers remaining from the original Pretenders but the sound and the songs remain the same. The new members bring new life and continue the soulful, edgy, rock ‘n’ roll that is The Pretenders.

pretenders prog“Don’t Get Me Wrong” was followed by “I’ll Stand by You” and then after a few more songs my mind was flashing back again to the first time I saw the band in the Mayfair with the Kinks classic “Stop Your Sobbing”. “Back on the Chain Gang” took us towards the end.

But we knew it wasn’t really going to be the end. The encore included the classic ballad “I Go to Sleep” and finished with (of course, what else but) “Brass in Pocket” taking me back to a Friday night in Newcastle Polytechnic Students Union, the week the song was number one in the charts, standing on the tables with Marie, while the place erupted around us. It was so many years ago and yet in many ways it seems only like yesterday.

The girls next to us finally fell on the floor. We went out into the cold night and got in to our respective taxis, Laura back to her house in Newcastle and Jackie and I back to Sunderland. Happy days.

Setlist: Alone; Gotta Wait; Message of Love; Talk of the Town; Down the Wrong Way; Let’s Get Lost;   Kid; Private Life; Don’t Get Me Wrong; I’ll Stand by You; Night in My Veins; Don’t Cut Your Hair;  Boots of Chinese Plastic; Hymn to Her; Break Up the Concrete; Stop Your Sobbing; Adding the Blue;  Back on the Chain Gang; Mystery Achievement. Encore: I Go to Sleep; Middle of the Road; Thumbelina; Brass in Pocket

 

 

Roy Harper Sage Gateshead 20 March 2019

roy 1969And O how the sea she roars with laughter
And howls with the dancing wind
To see my stupid poetry burbling” (McGoohan’s Blues, Roy Harper, 1969)

The first time I saw Roy Harper in concert was in 1969. I was 12 years old and Roy was 27. Roy was just about to release Folkjokeopus his third album. The album is notable for the lengthy track “McGoohan’s Blues”, which Harper states was “inspired by actor Patrick McGoohan’s depiction of the establishment rebel in his TV series, The Prisoner“.

Here I am 50 years later seeing Roy once more. Roy is a sprightly 77-year-old and I am 62 years old.

The advertisement for the Sage concert stated: “Renowned folk singer-songwriter Roy Harper is celebrating 50 years of classic tracks including the famed epic ‘McGoohan’s Blues’. In 2013 his album Man & Myth was lauded by press across the UK. Uncut said “Harper’s first album in 13 years is a magnificent, ambitious rejuvenation.” Harper will joined by Bill Shanley and an ensemble of musicians.

HARPER TIXOn why he has decided to tour again, Harper said: “Partly because many of the things I wrote about in McGoohan’s Blues in 1968 are still very relevant 50 years later, and partly because my third record was a watershed moment in my recording life, it’s been long in my mind that I should dust it off and bring it on tour again.”

The concert was in two sets and drew from throughout Roy’s extensive back catalogue. Roy was on good form, chatting with the audience as usual; although he didn’t get quite as much banter (or heckling) in response as he usually does. His voice remains strong and soulful and his passion and commitment is as undiminished as ever. Roy was accompanied by a small string section which gave an added texture to the songs.

So we were treated to some of my favourite Harper songs such as “Don’t You Grieve”, the classic “Another Day” and “Highway Blues”. Roy closed the set with “When an Old Cricketer Leaves the Crease”. The encore was a more recent song “I Loved My Life”. It was great to see Roy again, still touring and still a delight. I would love to have heard him Roy-Harpersing “I Hate the White Man” but, hey, you can’t always get what you want. Jackie my carer is now a Roy Harper convert, which is great. Me, I had a lovely evening, spent with an old friend.

Setlist. Set 1: Hors d’oeuvres; Time Is Temporary; Don’t You Grieve; Man In the Glass Cage; McGoohan’s Blues. Set 2: Another Day; Drawn to the Flames; The Wolf at the Door; Highway Blues; Hallucinating Light; When an Old Cricketer Leaves the Crease. Encore: I Loved My Life

Wishbone Ash 50th anniversary tour Sage Gateshead 6 November 2019

wish 50 tixSo many of my favourite bands are reaching their 50th anniversary now. It just shows how old I am. This was a night full of memories for me, taking me back to the early 70s. Andy Powell has continued to fly the Wishbone Ash flag high for all of those 50 years and arrived to a packed Hall 2 of the Sage, Gateshead and delighted the audience with two sets, spanning the entire Wishbone Ash catalogue.

Jackie, my carer, and I were seated close to the front with a prime view of the stage; and marvelled at the twin guitar melodies and the vocal harmonies of a set of classic songs. The first set opened with “Real Guitars Have Wings”, and then we were back to Argos and the early days with “The King Will Come” and “Throw down the Sword”. In an instant I am back halfway up the lighting tower at the Lincoln Festival in 1972, 15 years wish pixold with my long hair blowing behind me and next to me is my sadly missed old mate Clive. The band may have changed over the years, but my memories remain, and to me the songs sound as glorious as they ever did. A few more great songs and the first set closes with another classic “The Way of the World”.

After a short interval, during which Jackie and I partook in some gorgeous ice cream (they do particularly nice creamy flavours such as butterscotch in the Sage), the band return. And we are back to the very start; Side 1, Track 1 of the first album: “Blind Eye”; simply unbeatable, the closing discordant guitars still ring in my ears now. A couple of more songs lead us into the guitar epic “The Pilgrim” from the second album Pilgrimage. Soon we are rocking away in “Living Proof” and then the closer “Jailbait” which for some reason brings back memories of standing at the back of a packed Sunderland Locarno ballroom (the Mecca) watching the Ash finish their set with the same song. The encore is, what else could it be but “Blowing Free”.

A wonderful night of great songs, great guitars, great harmonies and great memories. wish pix 2Jackie came along full of interest and left, a convert and a fan. I am having so much fun converting my carers into fans of classic rock bands! One omission: the epic “Phoenix”, but then you can’t have everything.

Andy Powell closed the evening by announcing that Wishbone Ash would be returning to the Sage in January 2021, with Jan Ackerman, in the larger Sage 1 Hall. The next day I bought tickets. Job done!

Thanks to Jackie for taking the photographs of the band.

wishbone progSetlist:

Set 1: Real Guitars Have Wings; The King Will Come; Throw Down the Sword; Sometime World; We Stand as One; In Crisis; The Way of the World.

Set 2: Blind Eye; Deep Blues; Enigma; The Pilgrim; Tales of the Wise; Living Proof; Jail Bait.

Encore: Blowin’ Free.