Posts Tagged ‘concerts’

The Shining Levels the Old Cinema Launderette Durham 11th October 2019

shining levels tix durThis was my second Shining Levels experience. This one was a bit special because it was part of the Durham book Festival, and based around the Gallows Pole book by local author Benjamin Myers. The author was in attendance at the event, signing copies of the book (see my signed copy below).

gallows pole cover“Benjamin Myers was born in Durham, UK, in 1976. He is an author and journalist, translated into several languages. Published in May 2017 and now in its 9th print run, The Gallows Pole won the Walter Scott Prize – the world’s biggest award for historical fiction – was recipient of a Roger Deakin Award and longlisted for the Republic of Consciousness Prize. It has been optioned for film/TV by Element Pictures and also available on Audible.”(Benjamin Myers site)gallows pole signed

The Old Cinema Launderette is a wonderful, quirky little venue which is an actual launderette by day and (sometimes) a music venue by night. It is a lovely venue to see artists in an intimate setting and regularly features legendary names such as, for example, the late and sadly missed Julie Felix who I recently had the privilege of seeing there, not long before her passing (review to follow very shortly). The acts perform in front of the washing machines and the audience are in seats very close to the stage. You have to turn up early to get a good spot, so Jackie, my carer and I arrived just before the 7 p.m. opening time to ensure a place near the front.

The evening began with a short video telling the story of Benjamin Myers, how he grew up locally and how his writings draw from his north-east roots. There was then a short interval, at which point a bar magically appeared in the corner of the launderette, before the Shining Levels took the stage. The Shining Levels are Davy J (vocals, guitar and piano), DW (Dan) Coggins (vocals and guitar), Laura Smith (vocals and loop pedals), Christina Cuthbertson (vocals and flute) and Jenny Clewes (vocals and violin). I have written earlier about the Shining Levels and 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 shining levels 2 durtime dark and powerful, their sounds can be.

Their set takes us through the novel, the Gallows Pole , starting with the ladies taking the lead and introducing the story with the beautiful, drifting “Moonless Nights” and then over to the guys who become the “Valley Boys”, climaxing with a joyous, yet dark, “Death of the King”. The set is interspersed with readings from the book by Dan. The band receive a rapturous ovation from the crowd who hang around to speak to the musicians, buy copies of the album, have their books signed by Ben before slowly venturing out into the cold, dark streets of Gilesgate.

Setlist: Stag Dance; Moonless Nights; Tipping Of The Scale; Broken On A Wheel; Valley Boys; Progress!; Deighton; Men Of Straw; Veil of the Vale; Death of the King

Quintessential Yes: the 50th anniversary tour Newcastle City Hall 12th June 2018

So this was my second Yes experience within a few months. My conundrum continues…….When is Yes not Yes? Now this version of Yes was the intriguing yes tix 3combination of Jon Anderson, Rick Wakeman and Trevor Rabin. Jon Anderson is, of course, a founder member of the band and Rick Wakeman a member of the “classic” Yes line-up. I never saw the line-up of Yes with Trevor Rabin in the band and, I must admit, it was not one of my favourite incarnations of Yes. To me, and I guess many other fans, Jon Anderson epitomises Yes. I have an image in my mind of Jon singing “Close to the Edge” on a warm balmy evening at the Reading Festival, rising out of a smog of dry ice and smoke, wearing a smock top; his vocals soaring above the field and up into the sky. That was probably one of the best times I saw Yes, along with some wonderful shows in the early days when they were still playing covers like “Something’s Coming” from West Side Story and “Eleanor Rigby” by the Beatles. So Jon Anderson holds a special place in the Yes hierarchy for me. So was this be the true Yes that I was about to see? Why, even the ticket called the band “Yes”!

I have seen Yes many, many times and they will always hold a special place in my heart, as the first band I ever saw and still one of my favourite bands of all time. So I can’t help but get excited each time I see them. This time the set list was a mixture of classic Yes and several (some of which I didn’t really know) songs from the Rabin era Yes. So it was the old favourites than I focused on, I really enjoyed and that I hoped would help me in my search for the true soul, spirit and ethos of “Yes”. The concert was in the form of two sets, just as the Steve Howe led Yes concert was I had seen a few months earlier. Similarly, the set comprised favourites and less familiar songs.yes prog 2

This time the first classic song was “I’ve Seen All Good People”, but it was “And You and I” which epitomised Jon Anderson and Yes, and was sung in the way in only Jon can sing it. In the second half “Heart of the Sunrise” again convinced me that there are certain songs that are so entwined with 1970s Jon Anderson that no one else can do them justice. “Owner of a Lonely Heart” saw Trevor Rabin come into his own, with some tremendous guitar solo work. The encore was a rocky version of “Roundabout”. And that was the root of the difference; that is the “rocking” nature of this band. This version of Yes were a little too classic rock, as a result of Rabin’s influence, for my liking. Somewhere along the line they had lost the prog rock, jazzy feel that epitomises the band for me. So which version of Yes is Yes? For me the Steve Howe incarnation of the band continues the lineage of the true spirit and ethos of Yes. But this version does justice to certain songs in a way that only Jon Anderson can. The truth is both bands are excellent in their own way and there is room for both; and of course it gives us two chances to celebrate the wonderful thing which is Yes music. Now I would love to see the two bands merge in a way that brings together Jon Anderson, Rick Wakeman, Steve Howe and Alan White. But perhaps I can only dream. But then you never know, time heals many wounds and stranger things have happened.

Setlist. Set 1: Cinema; Hold On; South Side of the Sky; I’ve Seen All Good People; And You and I; Changes; Rhythm of Love. Set 2: I Am Waiting; Heart of the Sunrise; Awaken; Owner of a Lonely Heart. Encore: Roundabout

Foot Village and Shift-Static Head of Steam Newcastle Wednesday 11 November 2009

A week or so after playing the same venue, Shift Static were back at the Head of Steam, this time supporting Foot Village. Now Foot Village are drums, drums, lots of noise, lots of rhythm and soaring screaming vocals! Pretty scary stuff actually and amazing in a small venue, where we were all surrounded by the sound of percussion and lots of drumming. Marie and I left the gig with our ears ringing!

foot2“Foot Village is a tribal noise rock band from Los Angeles, consisting of four drummers of which two also do the vocals. Band members Brian Miller and Grace Lee come from the band Gang Wizard, Josh Taylor was in Friends Forever. ” (Wikipedia)

I have written elsewhere about Shift-Static, this post is more an update to remind me of seeing Foot Village. A couple years later I was with Laura at the Alexandra Palace in London to see Portishead and PJ Harvey and we ran into the members of Foot Village, who were one of the support acts. Laura was quite touched that they remembered her after a couple years, as I recall. She got a signed copy of their album and was quite chuffed.

“FOOT VILLAGE are a thunderous drum-n-shout assembly from Los Angeles – a thick forest of whirling limbs beating out rhythms for whispers and hollers to leap and dive through. Featuring members of Gang Wizard, Friends Forever and the infamous International Voice of Reason, Foot Village are pure hardcore spirit without the spark of electricity. foot 1

Erecting civilisation with drums and voices alone, Foot Village are the first nation built after the foreseeable apocalypse. Don’t get this self-imposed restraint confused with some neo-luddite stance however, as Foot Village only want to inspire others with the wide potential of rock music. Anything becomes possible if you have an idea to run with.” (Upset the Rhythm)

 

A Rick Wakeman concert I couldn’t attend: and a mystery solved!

On searching through my ticket stubs, my elder daughter Ashleigh came across this signed ticket, for a concert by Rick Wakeman at South Shields Customs House. Looking at the date; the concert came a few days after my accident. In fact so close to my accident that it was impossible that I had attended the show. Now I can recall going to see Rick Wakeman with my younger daughter, Laura, at a fantastic concert at Newcastle City Hall which we both greatly enjoyed. But I have no recollection of ever having tickets for this concert in South Shields. Reading the ticket stub, it seemed that someone had gone along to the concert, met Rick Wakeman and asked him to sign the ticket with a kind “Get Better!!!” message dedicated to me. rik

To my shame I have no recollection of any of this, and I could not remember who on earth had got the ticket signed for me. In my defence, I was in intensive care at the time, high on morphine, and didn’t really know what was going on! I racked my brains which of my friends could have done such a kind thing for me. But I could not identify the friendly culprit.

I happened to mention my predicament to Laura, who managed to solve the problem immediately. “It was Ian” she said. Now Ian is a friend of both Laura and me, a fellow rock fan and concertgoer and also a very accomplished musician who leads a band in which Laura sometimes accompanies him on vocals. So the problem is solved and a big Thank You to Ian for being so kind to me at a very difficult time, and to Rick Wakeman for signing the ticket for me. Ian apparently told Rick the full sorry tale of my accident and the extent of my predicament at the time. I hope I get the chance to see Rick Wakeman again one day and thank him myself personally.

Yes Sage Gateshead 18th March 2018

yes prog fWhen is Yes not Yes? (or is it No?). Having lost founder member, some would say leader, and unique bass player Chris Squire; Yes have now no original members in the band. I realise, of course, that guitarist Steve Howe has been in the band since the early 70s and that he was a member of the classic lineup of Yes. However, when I first saw the band in 1969, the guitarist was Peter Banks. And of course keyboard player Geoff Downes was a member of the band at the time of the Drama album when he and Buggles colleague, Trevor Horn joined the band in quite a strange incarnation of Yes. And drummer Alan White remains in the band and was a member of the classic line-up. But the fact remains that, since the sad passing of Chris Squire, the current line up of Yes contains no original members. Now there are many classic rock bands with one original member including Deep Purple (drummer Ian Paice), the Moody Blues (drummer Graeme Edge), Uriah Heep (guitarist Mick Box) and Status Quo (singer/guitarist Francis Rossi). But I can think of no other well-known rock band with no original members. In the case of Deep Purple and the Moody Blues it was the second incarnation of the band who are recognised as the classic lineup and the same is somewhat true of Yes. There are a few 60s bands with no original members including The Fortunes and Marmalade.

yes tix 2Anyway back to my conundrum: when is Yes not Yes? I have written elsewhere (Smith, 2016) about how the soul and spirit of a band can transcend the members, using The Who as an example; and I think only in performance can this truly be judged. So I went along with great interest to see if the current lineup maintained the spirit, soul and ethos of what I recognise to be Yes. A few weeks later I was due to see Jon Anderson, Rick Wakeman and Trevor Rabin play “Quintessential Yes: The 50th Anniversary Tour” at Newcastle City Hall. So I was bound to make comparisons between the two incarnations of the Yes band.

The publicity for the tour said: “The year 2018 marks half a century since the formation of the legendary group YES, one of the biggest bands in prog-rock history and true pioneers of the genre. To celebrate this remarkable milestone, YES will embark on a 10-date UK Tour in March 2018 – #YES50. On this not-to-be-missed tour, YES [Steve Howe, Alan White, Geoff Downes, Jon Davison (vocals) and Billy Sherwood (bass)] will feature not only many of the band’s classic hits, but performances of Sides 1 and 4 and an excerpt from Side 3 of their 1973 album, Tales From Topographic Oceans, which was the first YES album to top the UK Album Charts.”

“Much has changed since I joined Yes in 1970, but the core elements of the band have remained consistent,” shares guitarist Steve Howe. “We want to mark this anniversary with a tour that encompasses some of our best-loved work and revisit a few classic pieces that have been lost for a while. We look forward to sharing the 50th anniversary with the fanbase, playing classic songs that celebrate the broad musical style of Yes.”

So back to my conundrum again; when is Yes not Yes, or rather is Yes still Yes? As I say, the answer lies somewhere in the performance. Now this time, the tour was publicised as a set of greatest hits and excerpts from Tales from Topographic Oceans. Now, Tales from Topographic Oceans was never my favourite Yes album. I saw the tour and was somewhat bored that evening. I do possess a vinyl copy of the album (which I have played once or twice). yes prog b

So I went along to the concert, with my carer Hannah, with some trepidation. As it happened the concert was much better than I expected. There were two sets, the first comprising well-known Yes classics and the second comprising excerpts from Tales from Topographic Oceans. So we took our seats in a box close to the stage and soon the concert started with a familiar opening song: “Yours Is No Disgrace” performed just as it should be and just as I remembered it. Excellent. This was followed by another Yes classic, again performed well: “I’ve Seen All Good People.” Then we were right back to the start, with “Sweet Dreams”, a song written and recorded before any of the current members were in the band and bringing back so many happy memories to me. The next song “South Side of the Sky” was less familiar to me but we were soon back on familiar territory with Steve Howe performing his guitar solo extravaganza “Mood for a Day”, which I spent many an hour trying to learn how to play on my old 1962 Fender Stratocaster (why did I ever sell that? 😦 ) Then we were treated to the truly wondrous “Wondrous Stories”, followed by another unfamiliar song “Parallels” and then a song which has grown on me over the years and is now one of my favourites “And You and I”, which closed the first set. After a short interval, and a lovely butterscotch ice cream, the second set featured excerpts from the aforementioned Tales from Topographic Oceans. I must say I enjoyed it much more than I expected. The encores were a wonderful, swirling, version of “Roundabout” and an uplifting “Starship Trooper.” My verdict? This was a powerful performance by Yes that was true to the jazzy, progressive rock roots of the band. So yes, Yes remain Yes and to my mind, deserve the title. Wonderful, uplifting, soaring and classic, bringing back memories of so many happy, happy days. Next up an evening of “Quintessential Yes.” So more to follow: yes yet more musings of Yes for another blogging soon.

 

Setlist: The Firebird Suite (intro). Set 1: Yours Is No Disgrace; I’ve Seen All Good People; Sweet Dreams; South Side of the Sky; Mood for a Day; Wonderous Stories; Parallels; And You and I. Set 2: The Revealing Science of God (Dance of the Dawn); Leaves of Green; Ritual (Nous sommes du soleil). Encore: Roundabout; Starship Trooper

Smith, P. (2016). An analysis of The Who in concert: 1971 to 2014, in Gennaro, R & Harrison, C. The Who and philosophy, Lexington, pp 209 – 222

 

Status Quo Newcastle City Hall 6th December 2017

Francis has done some naughty things lately, in my view. Firstly, I miss Rick. In fact I miss Rick to the extent that I thought Status Quo shouldn’t continue when he passed away. I am a long-term Status Quo fan since I first saw them in 1971 and I must have seen them at least 30 times since then, maybe even 40 or 50; I have lost count. I thought I couldn’t bring myself to go and see Status Quo without Rick, but there I was in the City Hall quo tixwaiting to see what the new band was like. And secondly, Francis told us that the Last of the Electrics tour, would be just that; the last electric rock Status Quo tour. In fact, if you look at the ticket, you will see that the show was originally announced as an acoustic tour, Aquostic. Somewhere along the line, Francis decided to go back to the rock show. Now I was partly looking forward to the acoustic concert, but I was also secretly pleased that this was going to be a rock tour. Anyway, as I said, there I was, a little against my better judgement, sitting in my chair at the end of the row waiting for my first dose of the new Status Quo, with my carer Jackie.

The band are heralded onto stage with the usual drone, which leads into those opening chords of “Caroline” which always hit me emotionally and new guitarist, Richie Malone, does justice to Rick’s power chords. The set is a mixture of old favourites such as “Little Lady” and “Softer Ride”, and new (and now becoming classics in their own) “Creepin’ up on You” and (the mildly racist) “The Oriental.” The usual Status Quo medley of hits quo progcontains some other old favourites “Down the Dust Pipe” and “Railroad” and is swiftly followed by the loud, driving chords of “Down Down” and I know we are on the home strait now. They end with, as they always do now, “Rockin’ All over the World.” The encore starts with the classic “Don’t Waste My Time “from the equally classic album Piledriver, followed by (the little too middle-of-the-road/poppy for me) “Burning Bridges” and they finally end with, as always, “Bye Bye Johnny.” Well you know what, that was actually pretty good, and I forgive you Francis for all your recent naughty deeds (as referred to above). So Status Quo are back, and you know, they are actually pretty good. I even bought tickets to see them again at the Sage Gateshead later this year (if we ever get out of this crazy lockdown safely) and I am really looking forward to it. And…… I even rejoined the fan club. So, in the lyrics of “Beginning of the End”, “Happy days are here again.” 🙂

Setlist: Caroline; Something ’bout You Baby I Like; Rain; Little Lady; Softer Ride; Beginning of the End;    Hold You Back; What You’re Proposing / Down the Dustpipe / Wild Side of Life / Railroad / Again and Again; Paper Plane; The Oriental; Creepin’ Up on You; Don’t Drive My Car; In the Army Now; Roll Over Lay Down; Down Down; Whatever You Want; Rockin’ All Over the World. Encore: Don’t Waste My Time; Burning Bridges; Rock and Roll Music / Bye Bye Johnny.

Hawkwind Sage Gateshead 18th April 2016

I have been a great fan of Hawkwind for many many years, since I first saw them in the early 1970s. I followed the band throughout the 1970s and 1980s, but foolishly lost faith in my Hawk heroes during the 1990s, but returned to the fold around 20 years ago and have seen them several times ever since. In recent years I have tried to catch every visit they make to the North-East of England.hawkwind_pic_1294320474-1380x269
On this occasion they turned up in the glorious surroundings of the Sage Gateshead, in the larger Hall, Hall 1, and the downstairs area was almost full. These days, the band is led by original member Dave Brock and the psychedelic warlords usually take us through a set which draws from throughout their back catalogue of psycho beat favourites. However, this time things are different and we were treated to a new album and a new concept.

This time the concept was: “Hawkwind present The Machine Stops Tour – A live concept show from their new studio album based on the sci-fi classic. E.M. Forster’s dystopian vision of the future is brought to life in classic Hawkwind style through a spectacular array of music, lights, dance and visual effects. Join the legendary Lord of space Rock Dave Brock and Hawkwind on their journey from the surface of this world, to the centre of the next…with time for a few old favourites along the way. ” (Tour promotional information). forster

“”The Machine Stops” is a science fiction short story by E. M. Forster. After initial publication in The Oxford and Cambridge Review (November 1909), the story was republished in Forster’s The Eternal Moment and Other Stories in 1928. In 1973 it was included in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume Two. The story, set in a world where humanity lives underground and relies on a giant machine to provide its needs, predicted technologies similar to instant messaging and the Internet.” (Wikipedia).

I was a bit unsure as to how much I would enjoy the show, given everything was new to me. However the concept and the visuals supported a set of new songs which flowed together well, and I thoroughly enjoyed the new show. I was pleased to hear my old favourite “Silver machine” as the final encore. All in all, this was another great concert by Hawkwind.hawk tix

Setlist: All Hail the Machine; The Machine; Katie; King of the World; In My Room; Thursday;    Synchronised Blue; Hexagone; Living on Earth; The Harmonic Hall; Yum Yum; A Solitary Man; Tube;    Lost in Science; Orgone Accumulator; Utopia. Encore: You’d Better Believe It; Silver Machine