Posts Tagged ‘folk’

Bob Dylan Manchester Apollo 28th October 2015

Bob Dylan Manchester Apollo 28th October 2015FullSizeRender(2)
Bobby; he keeps reinventing himself. These days he has become a crooner, the ultimate smokey lounge singer, paying tribute to all those great balladeers who went before. It sort of suits his croaky gravelly rasp. Like he has found his way back home. His latest album “Shadows in the night” covers songs made famous by Frank Sinatra. It has been a big success; reaching Number 1 in the UK album charts and achieving rave reviews. The Telegraph declared it Dylan’s “best singing in 25 years.” The crowd at Manchester Apollo knew the score. Two nights sold out in the blink of an eye. Everyone wants to go see Bobby sing those sad winding poetic tunes. FullSizeRender(5)From Rolling Stone: “He felt that a lot .. of it was written from the heart …He felt there was a lot of spirit in that music. …. ‘I’m not gonna write a song; I’m gonna pay homage to what shook me as young boy.'” So no “Like a Rolling Stone” or “All along the Watchtower” this time around, although we were treated to “Tangled up in blue”, “She belongs to me” and, for an encore “Blowing in the Wind”. The rest of the set was drawn from Dylan’s recent albums. But hey I’m not complaining. Bob Dylan is singing great; better than he has been for years. Sure; I never dreamed I would see Bob Dylan sing Irving Berlin’s “What’ll I do”, but it works, and seems so natural. Dylan’s voice fits these songs like an old glove. Of the more recent Dylan tunes, “Scarlet Town” is dark and powerful. Closing classic “Autumn Leaves” was truly emotional, and a great way to end an excellent and enjoyable concert. As we made our way out of the Apollo, I could hear everyone around me commenting how good it was. Very different to shows I attended 10 years ago, which left some people disappointed. Me; I went back to my little hotel room in Piccadilly and got some sleep; I had to get up at 5am to catch a train to London for a meeting. Till next time Bobby.
Set 1: Things Have Changed; She Belongs to Me; Beyond Here Lies Nothin’; What’ll I Do; Duquesne Whistle; Melancholy Mood; Pay in Blood; I’m a Fool to Want You; Tangled Up in Blue
Set 2: High Water (For Charley Patton); Why Try to Change Me Now; Early Roman Kings; The Night We Called It a Day; Spirit on the Water; Scarlet Town; All or Nothing at All; Long and Wasted Years; Autumn Leaves
Encore: Blowin’ in the Wind; Love Sick

Donovan Tyne Theatre Newcastle 8th October 2015

Donovan Tyne Theatre Newcastle 8th October 2015
FullSizeRenderDonovan is out on the road again, working his way down the country on a 22 date 50th anniversary tour. He started in his home town of Glasgow, worked his way through Edinburgh and Dundee and then stepped over the border to come and play to us in Newcastle. From there he continues to Scarborough, Leeds and onward further south.
Now, Donovan is a bit of a story-teller and he is also a bit of a name-dropper. If you have ever been to one of his concerts you will know exactly what I mean. You are guaranteed to hear stories of the ’60s and of all the friends he made. At the Tyne Theatre Donovan tells us of his folk influences Buffy St Marie and Shawn Phillips as way of introduction to their songs “Universal Soldier” and “The Little Tin Soldier”. He mentions, of course, The Beatles and how George Harrison contributed a verse to “Hurdy Gurdy Man” and asks “Would you like to hear George’s verse?” to which we reply a rousing “YES”! He talks of his old friend and fellow traveler Gypsy Dave; and how they would have to run from crowds of screaming girls, comparing the scene to that of the Beatles running through the station at the start of “Hard Day’s Night”. Gypsy asked Donovan “Why are we running? Let’s stop and let them catch us!”. And he tells us of his muse and wife Linda, the subject of many of his songs; one of which “Madrigalinda” he sang for us. Linda and all the “Donovan clan” came to the Glasgow concert, “flying from every corner of the world” he declared proudly.
Donovan-Donovan's_Greatest_HitsDonovan sat alone cross-legged on a carpet laid across a raised platform, as he must have done many times over the years. He told us that we would “never be more than two or three songs away from a hit” and he was true to his word. He started the show with “Catch the Wind” and then went straight into “Colours”, many singing along with him. The mood then moved from “The Voice of Protest” from his 1975 7-Tease album to “Sleep” a lullaby from “Cosmic Wheels”. Then he took us back to 1965 and one of my favourites “The Little Tin Soldier” the “Fairytale” album. “Jennifer Juniper” was followed by the title track from 1976’s “Slow Down World”. Donovan then told a story of how “we all went to Jamaica” for a rest and a holiday during the ’60s and he came back with a new song “First There is a Mountain”. The first half of the concert closed with two old songs “To Try for the Sun” from “Fairytale” and “Donna Donna” from his first 1964 album “What’s Bin Did and What’s Bin Hid”.
After a short interval Donovan returned and sang “Universal Soldier” which sounds just as powerful today as it ever did. This was followed by the beautiful traditional folk song “The Trees they do Grow High”, “Madrigalinda” for Linda and the excellent “Hurdy Gurdy Man”. “Hurdy Gurdy Man” took me right back; I used to have the EP of the same name, and I played it endlessly. FullSizeRender(1)As introduction to “The Promise” Donovan told us of his lovely green guitar,”Kelly”, which was designed for him using the colours of the Book of Kells. This led into a story of how he once visited Jimmy Page’s house, and how Jimmy had 300 guitars all lying across the floor in their cases, all in tune because, as Jimmy told Donovan, “You never know when you might need to play one”. “The Promise”, said Donovan, is to be played by “Kelly”, always live, and will never be recorded. The ballad “Lalena” led into the jokey fun “Intergalactic Laxative” from “Cosmic Wheels”. Then came the inevitable singalong of “Happiness Runs” with the men singing “Tralala…”, the women singing “Happiness Runs”, and Donovan singing the verse of top; all a bit too embarrassing for me. I didn’t join in (sorry Donovan). “Sunshine Superman” took us safely back to the hits. Now it I thought “Happiness Runs” was embarrassing, the final song took the meaning of the word embarrassment to whole new level. For “Mellow Yellow” Donovan finally took to his feet, and mimed and danced awkwardly to a recording of the original track. Still, you have to forgive him. It was great to see Donovan again. He has a tremendous back catalogue of tunes, and his stories are always fun (even if I have heard most of them before).
Set 1: Catch the Wind; Colours; The Voice of Protest; Sleep; The Little Tin Soldier; Jennifer Juniper; Slow Down World; First There is a Mountain; Try for the Sun; Donna Donna
Set 2: Universal Soldier; The Trees they do Grow High; Madrigalinda; Hurdy Gurdy Man; The Promise; Lalena; Intergalactic Laxative; Happiness Runs; Sunshine Superman; Mellow Yellow

Backhouse Park concerts Sunderland Summer 1974 Jack the Lad, Brinsley Schwarz & Chilli Willi

Backhouse Park concerts Sunderland Summer 1974
brinsleyFor three Saturdays in Summer 1974 a stage appeared in Sunderland’s Backhouse Park and a series of concerts were held. The park was filled with music from a host of local bands and headliners Jack the Lad, Brinsley Schwarz & Chilli Willi & the Red Hot Peppers. Local heroes Saltgrass played at each event and a grand time was had by all.
13th July 1974 Jack the Lad
When Lindisfarne’s split and main songwriter Alan Hull went off to follow a solo career (and eventually reform Lindisfarne with Ray Jackson) the remaining members: Rod Clements, Si Cowe and Ray Laidlaw formed Jack the Lad with their old friend Billy Mitchell. Jack the Lad followed the folk sound of their former band, and in many ways remained truer to their roots, while the new Lindisfarne went down more of a pop/rock road. Jack the Lad live were great fun with a lot of humour, traditional folk and a set full of jigs, reels, singalongs and dancing which went down well on a sunny afternoon in the park.
27th July 1974 Brinsley Schwarz
Brinsley Schwarz were stalwarts of the pub rock scene. This gig came towards the end of their career, and their line-up was Brinsley Schwarz, Ian Gomm, Billy Rankin, Bob Andrews, Nick Lowe and Carlos Luna. They had just released their sixth and final album “The New Favourites of… Brinsley Schwarz” which featured Nick Lowe’s classic “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding”.
The Brinsleys were heavily influenced by The Band and Eggs Over Easy, had a laid-back country-rock sound, with some catchy poppy songs, and were a great live act, and gave us another great afternoon in the sun. They split in 1975 and Schwarz and Andrews joined Graham Parker & the Rumour; Rankin joined Terraplane, and Nick Lowe joined Dave Edmunds in Rockpile. Lowe of course then went on to have a very successful solo career and “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding” became a hit for Elvis Costello.
3rd August 1974 Chilli Willi and the Red Hot Peppers
The last of the trio of concerts featured Chilli Willi and the Red Hot Peppers, who were one of the main pub rock groups, and were very popular during the early 1970s. They released three albums and toured as part of the 1975 Naughty Rhythms tour with Dr Feelgood and Kokomo. Their members were Phil “Snakefinger” Lithman, Martin Stone, Paul “Dice Man” Bailey, Paul “Bassman” Riley and Pete Thomas. After they split in 1975 Thomas became the drummer for Elvis Costello, Riley played with Graham Parker; and Stone played with the Pink Fairies.

The Waterboys Newcastle Tiffany’s 30th April 1986

The Waterboys Newcastle Tiffany’s 30th April 1986
waterboystixMike Scott and his Waterboys were on a rock’n’roll journey from “The Big Music” to the raggle taggle gypsy Celtic folk band that they became in the late 80s. This was Mike and the band at the top of their game, not long after the success of “Whole of the Moon”, yet choosing not to play that song and instead sweeping a ram-packed Tiffany’s along with joyous big swirling sounds, and a few carefully chosen covers. “The Big Music” filled the ballroom; I was standing on the balcony looking down onto the stage and the packed sweaty dance floor below, and it felt like any minute the roof would come off. Mike was one minute the rock star, the next a folk troubadour, and then he became a seer taking us all on a spiritual journey through the kaleidoscope of his music. He was Dylan when he sang “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight” for us, and then Tex Ritter leading a country band into “The Wayward Wind”. And then we were transported to the Streets of Dublin, dancing to a Celtic fiddle band. This was one of those gigs where we all walked out into the cold night knowing we had experienced something pretty special.
Setlist: Medicine Bow; Be My Enemy; Medicine Jack; Fisherman’s Blues; The Thrill Is Gone / And The Healing Has Begun; Meet Me At The Station; A Girl Called Johnny; The Pan Within; I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight; We Will Not Be Lovers; Spirit / The 4 Ages Of Man; Savage Earth Heart; This Is The Sea
Encore: The Wayward Wind; A Pagan Place; Can’t Help Falling In Love; Red Army Blues
Encore 2: Death Is Not the End

Loudon Wainwright III Newcastle City Hall 16th Sep 1979

Loudon Wainwright III Newcastle City Hall 16th Sep 1979
loudontixLoudon Wainwright is a funny guy.
“Loudon Wainwright III is a direct descendant of Peter Stuyvesant, renowned one-legged Dutch Governer of New York. Loudon I was an insurance salesman, Loudon II is a mild mannered reporter for a former great metropolitan magazine. And Loudon III is a “post-psychedelic beatnik” who has been lauded far and wide as a writer-performer of uncommon wit, intelligence and insight, and with a unique capacity for capturing irony and absurdity in his work, that sets him apart from the great majority of similar entertainers” (from Loudon 1979 programme).
I went along to this gig with a group of friends from college. One of the guys, Vaughan, had recently become a big fan of Loudon Wainwright and sand many of his crazy songs to us. He persuaded us all to go along with him to see Loudon when he came to the City Hall (not that I needed much persuading to go along to a concert in those days). The concert wasn’t well attended, but those of there spent an enjoyable evening listening to Loudon’s crazy, funny songs and stories. Loudon was promoting his 8th album “A Live One”, which had been recorded during his 1976 UK tour.
Personal Note (from Loudon 1979 programme): “Loudon Wainwright III is now living in California. He is the father of two children, Rufus and Martha. He has written songs for both of them – “Rufus is a Tit Man” and “Pretty Little Martha”. Loudon is a sports fanatic, and drives a 15 year old blue Checker.”
lourdonprog“Crossin’ the highway late last night, He shoulda looked left and he shoulda looked right,
He didn’t see the Station Wagon car, The skunk got squashed and there you are,
You got yer, Dead skunk in the middle of the road,
Dead skunk in the middle of the road, Dead skunk in the middle of the road,
Stinkin’ to high heaven, Take a whiff on me that ain’t no rose,
Roll up yer window and hold yer nose, You don’t have to look and you don’t have to see,
‘Cause you can feel it in your olfactory.”
(Loudon Wainwright III, Dead Skunk, 1972).
Note 1. “Dead Skunk” was a hit in the US singles chart reaching No 12.
Note 2. The “olfactory” system is the sensory system used for the sense of smell.

Traffic Newcastle City Hall 24th April 1974

Traffic Newcastle City Hall 24th April 1974
trafficposterConcert going was a much less expensive hobby in the 70s. I saw lots of great bands, and it didn’t cost me the fortune it does these days. For £2 I had my train fare, a good seat, a pint or two and a programme. John and I went to see Traffic at Newcastle City Hall on 24th April 1974, and the tickets cost £1 each, and well worth it too 🙂 Traffic were just about to release their ninth, and final (for then, anyway) album “When the Eagle Flies”, and the line-up of the band was Steve Winwood (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Chris Wood (flute, sax), Jim Capaldi (drums, percussion), Rosko Gee (bass) and Rebop (percussion and crazy bongos). Support came from husband and wife duo Richard and Linda Thompson. My enduring memory is of a long-haired Stevie Winwood singing “John Barleycorn”, accompanying himself on acoustic guitar. It remains one of my favourite songs. My other memory is of an incredible performance by Rebop, as he hopped from bongo to bongo, beating out crazy rhythms, dazzling us with lightning-fast percussion work. John’s comments on the gig: “I only saw Traffic once and it was towards the end of the bands career when the band when they were struggling to keep it all together and perhaps were not at there very best. That said, I have great and very happy memories of the show. The tour was to promote the album “When the Eagle Flies” and I believe the support was Richard and Linda Thompson (who closed their set with I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight, which was the title track of their current, and best, album). traffic74The City Hall was not full and we had great seats pretty near the front and to one side of the stage. A set list is shown from the Rainbow show and I can recall a number of the songs – John Barleycorn was just great, followed by 40,000 Headman, Empty Pages, Pearly Queen and the outstanding Dear Mr Fantasy, which is one of the best extended jams of the period and a favorite of mine to this day. They played a number of tracks from the new album, as was the standard practice for the time, but I can only recall the title track. While the setlist from the Rainbow differs, I thought they closed with Low Spark of High Heeled Boys but I may be getting this mixed up. [My memory is of an encore of Feelin’ Alright?, but that could be my imagination]. A great band whose contribution to 70’s music is often overlooked and I am grateful to have caught them (almost) at their prime.”
Traffic setlist from London Rainbow May 1974: Heaven Is in Your Mind; John Barleycorn; Forty Thousand Headmen; Graveyard People; Empty Pages; Pearly Queen; Vulcan ?; Dear Mr. Fantasy; When the Eagle Flies; Walking in the Wind; Dream Gerrard; Memories of a Rock ‘n’ Rolla.
I saw Traffic once more, when they headlined the Reading festival a few months later in August 1974. It was another great set with some lengthy but nver boring jams (thanks in great part to Rebop’s antics), and exactly the right sort of music for a dark summer evening at a rock festival, the music drifting across the riverside fields, as the cool breeze made us all shiver a little.
Reading setlist: Empty Pages; Graveyard People; Who Knows What Tomorrow May Bring; John Barleycorn; Forty Thousand Headmen; Love
When the Eagle Flies; Walking in the Wind; Dream Gerrard
Thanks to John for the image of his poster.

Steeleye Span Middlesbrough Town Hall 22nd August 1977

Steeleye Span Middlesbrough Town Hall 22nd August 1977
steeleyetix77 Steeleye Span brought in producer Mike Batt (best known for his work with the Wombles) to work on their eighth album “All Around My Hat”. The single release of the title track reached number 5 in the UK Charts in late 1975, giving them their biggest chart success.
The next time I saw Steeleye Span was at Middlesbrough Town Hall on 22nd August 1977. The Town Hall was packed, and my mate and I had seats right down the front, in the second row. My enduring memories of the gig are of two things. The first is just how rocky the band had become. Of course they played “All Around My Hat”, which is actually a rock’n’roll song, but I was surprised how many of the other songs had an electric boogie rhythm. They even did a great version of Buddy Holly’s “Rave On”. And the second memory is of Maddy dancing. She was wearing a long, pure white skirt which swirled around as she danced and twirled. She danced across the stage, and down into the audience, up one aisle, across the back of the hall and back down the other aisle. That night Maddy was our English maid, with the voice of our green and pleasant land, and dancing the morris dance for us all. A great concert, and the best time I saw Steeleye Span.
The line-up of the band at the time was: Tim Hart (guitars, vocals), Maddy Prior (vocals and dance), Rick Kemp (bass, vocals), Nigel Pegrum (drums, percussion), the return of Martin Carthy (guitars, vocals) and John Kirkpatrick (accordion, vocals)

“Doesn’t it move you just a little bit?
And if you watch I think the chance is
That it will lift your heart a little bit
Ooh, well I mean, when Maddy dances
Ooh, well I mean, when Maddy dances”
(When Maddy Dances, by Ralph McTell)