Posts Tagged ‘pop’

“Tommy” with special Guest Roger Daltrey Whitley Bay Film Festival 1st August 2015

The Whitley Bay Film Festival presents “Tommy with special guest Roger Daltrey”
tommytixSo Tommy, or rather Roger, came to Whitley Bay, the past home of many pinball arcades. And he watched the great 1975 movie with us. The Whitley Bay Film festival kicked off it’s sixth year of movie, culture, music and arts events with a very special 40th anniversary screening of Ken Russell’s and The Who’s classic film, Tommy.  Roger Daltrey was in attendance for a conversation with music historian Chris Phipps and a question and answer session with the audience. The evening was introduced by festival patron Ian La Frenais.
whitleybayfilmfestivalTommy is a dark, crazy, OTT ride through 1970s culture. It features a star cast of acting and musical royalty including Oliver Reed, Jack Nicholson, Elton John and The Who themselves to name but a few.  The music is, of course, based on a reworking of the Who’s classic 1969 rock opera. I went along with Norm, and the two enjoyed the joys of the film all over again. We both saw the film when it was first released, but neither of us had seen it since then. I was surprise how current it seemed; its larger than life characters and images, iconography, pastiche reminding me to some extent of recent movies such as Moulin Rouge.
Leading up to the main film event, the festival team held a month long pinball tournament, which ran throughout July, and culminated in the final held in the foyer, immediately prior to the film screening. Our pinball champion was Matt Morrison of Whitley Bay, who was presented with his award by Roger Daltrey. After the movie we were all treated to a question and answer session with Roger, sat next to a lovingly restored pinball machine, and who admitted: “I’m the worst pinball player in the world.” Roger was introduced festival patron, comedy writer Ian La Frenais, originally from Whitley Bay and whose work with writing partner Dick Clement includes The Likely Lads and Auf Wiedersehen, Pet. Ian told us: “I had my first snog in this building”. Roger told several stories of the making of the film including how he was the target of a fire hose which left him “black and blue”, thrown in a cold bath and laid on an ironing board while Cousin Kevin tortured him. He also admitted “Ann Margaret was supposed to be my mother, but that was a tough acting job on my part.” A unique night and an opportunity to see a hero up close.
“That deaf, dumb and blind kid, Sure plays a mean pinball!” (Townshend, 1969).

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Rufus Wainwright Whitley Bay Playhouse 8th July 2015

rufusWell as well as being a tit man (at least according to his dad) Rufus Wainwright is also a pretty crazy, cheeky, funny guy. Oh, and he has some great songs too. Laura is a fan, and she was the main reason we were part of an attentive crowd who packed into Whitley Bay Playhouse for an intimate evening with Rufus Wainwright, as part of the Mouth of the Tyne festival. This was a solo show, Rufus alone with his grand piano, and sometimes on guitar, in great voice and on great form. The evening enjoyed visits from guests “Liza Minnelli” and “Judy Garland”. Yes both of them together! Actually they looked suspiciously like his sister Lucy Wainwright Roche (who was the opening act) and Patrick Duffy (one of the Rufus road crew). A couple asked for a picture and were invited on stage for group selfies during “Me and Liza”. Sister Lucy came back for the encore of “Pretty Things” and “Hallelujah” leaving Rufus alone to close the show with “Poses”. A great concert and great fun. I can see in Rufus some of the same zany humour which is characteristic of his dad, who would have been proud. I am starting to “get” just what Rufus is about, which Laura, of course, already knew.
Setlist: Beauty Mark; The Maker Makes; Vibrate; Grey Gardens; Out of the Game; Jericho; Want; Sanssouci; The Art Teacher; Sonnet 20; Les Feux d’Artifice; Schoenberg-style Improvisation; Me And Liza; April Fools; Gay Messiah; Going to a Town; I Don’t Know What It Is; Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk
Encore: Montauk; Pretty Things; Hallelujah; Poses

Fleetwood Mac Leeds Arena 30th June 2015

fleetwoodmactix2015
“The Mac is back” said Mick Fleetwood. And this time it’s the real thing. With the return of Christine McVie, Fleetwood Mac are running on full power again. I’d forgotten just how important Christine is to this band. I’d enjoyed seeing the four piece Mac (Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, John McVie, Mick Fleetwood) over the past ten or so years, but the last time I saw this classic 70s line-up was way back ‘in the day’ on the Rumours tour. Christine’s return has breathed new life into the band. McVie and Fleetwood provide, as always, the perfect relentless beat; a canvas of rhythm on which Lindsey, Stevie and Christine paint their stories of angst, passion and lost love. Lindsey is the hyper dynamic egocentric child, screaming for our attention; annoying yet endearing himself to us through a series of excellent guitar solos and rock star poses. Stevie is the gypsy, the wild mysterious hippie rock chick. She is singing better than ever and morphs effortlessly from the witch Rhiannon, into the twirling mystical Gypsy still living the dream that started when she and young boyfriend Lyndsey supported Hendrix in the 60s, to the scary old Gold Dust Woman creeping around a dark stage. And Christine; so cool, calm and back with her friends, her family. I’d forgotten how many great song she wrote for Fleetwood Mac, many of which she sang for us. A great performance by a truly classic band
fleetwoonmacprog2015“A blistering two hour and 20 minute set from the classic (yes, that word is ENTIRELY appropriate) Rumours-era line-up elicits one of the most passionate responses I have seen from an audience in my life” (Yorkshire Evening Post)
Setlist: The Chain; You Make Loving Fun; Dreams; Second Hand News; Rhiannon; Everywhere; I Know I’m Not Wrong; Tusk; Sisters of the Moon; Say You Love Me; Big Love; Landslide; Never Going Back Again; Over My Head; Gypsy; Little Lies; Gold Dust Woman; I’m So Afraid; Go Your Own Way
Encore: World Turning; Don’t Stop; Silver Springs
Encore 2: Songbird

The Moody Blues Newcastle City Hall 22nd June 2015

The Moody Blues Newcastle City Hall 22nd June 2015moodyblues2015
I foolishly passed the last couple of times that the Moody Blues came to Newcastle; so I figured that it was about time I made amends and caught up with them again. I’m pleased that I did. The set was similar to those that I’d enjoyed on past tours, but there seemed to be a new energy to the band. This went just old guys going through the motions; I could sense that they still enjoy playing. The sound was also sharper and clearer than in the past; I’ve attended a few Moody Blues concerts where the mix was murky, and it was difficult to pick out the vocals. Not this time. I could hear every word that Justin Hayward and John Lodge sang. Hayward’s guitar seemed louder and his playing more fluid than on previous occasions. It was also good to see Graeme Edge come to the front of stage and take the lead on Higher and Higher, with some nifty dad dancing and swift tambourine moves. Those songs from Days of Future Passed always get me. Tuesday Afternoon is just as powerful and classy as Nights in White Satin and it was good to hear Peak Hour. And a Moody Blues concert just isn’t complete unless they close with Question and encore with Ride My See-saw. Great to see them again.
“Cold hearted orb that rules the night, removes the colours from our sight. Red is grey, and yellow, white, but we decide which is right, and which is an illusion.” (The Day Begins, 1967).
Set 1: Gemini Dream; The Voice; Steppin’ in a Slide Zone; You and Me; Gypsy; Nervous; Say It With Love; Peak Hour; I Know You’re Out There Somewhere; The Story in Your Eyes
Set 2: Your Wildest Dreams; Isn’t Life Strange; Tuesday Afternoon; Higher and Higher; The Actor; I’m Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band); Late Lament; Nights in White Satin; Question
Encore: Ride My See-Saw

Georgie Fame & the Blue Flames Newcastle City Hall 30 May 2015

Georgie Fame & the Blue Flames Newcastle City Hall 30 May 2015
georgiefameGeorgie Fame walked onto the stage of Newcastle City Hall, sat at his Hammond organ and started to reflect on his first visit to Newcastle. That was apparently in 1960, and a young Georgie Fame was playing piano on the Eddie Cochran /Gene Vincent tour. Georgie couldn’t quite remember the name of the venue, but a couple of members of the audience helped him out. “The Empire” shouted one, while another kept insisting (No, it was the Odeon”. I checked it out (isn’t Google wonderful) and it was indeed the Empire, in Newgate Street.
georgietixGeorgie was soon accompanied by his sons on drums and guitar, and the trio performed Booker T’s “Green Onions”. Before too long the bass, vibraphone, trumpet and sax players all joined in. A wonderful start to the evening.
A sparse, but enthusiastic, crowd had gathered for this concert which was the final night of Fame’s tour. “Get on the Right Track Baby” and “Cool Cat Blues” (dedicated to Mose Alison) kept the groove going. We were then treated to Georgie’s 1965 No 1 hit single “Yeh Yeh”. This was preceded by a great story of how Fame and his band arrived in Stockholm 50 years ago, to find hundreds of girls waiting and waving at the airport. Sadly they soon discovered that the crowd was, in fact, actually waiting for “the Saint” Roger Moore; who also happened to be on the same flight. xgeorge-fame-film-pic.png.pagespeed.ic.wupD0hASGtThe next song was a version of Bob Dylan’s “Everything is Broken” to which Fame had added the line “Its all F**ked Up Maann” and which we all had to sing 🙂 The first half of the show closed with Willie Nelson’s “Funny How Time Slips Away”, after which Georgie introduced each of the band members before they all left the stage for a short break.
The second set started with Carole King’s “Point of No Return” which features on one of Fame’s early lps. The next song, which Fame dedicated to his friend Spike Milligan, was Louis Jordan’s “Don’t Send me Flowers when I’m in the Graveyard”, followed by (I think) “Love is going to take me away” and “Listen Here”. Then we were treated to an excellent version of the Bobby Hebb classic “Sunny”, which was also a hit for Fame. The concert closed (at 9.45 wow; I love early finishes) with Mose Alison’s “Was” (“When I become was and we become were ….”). A great concert by one ’60s music greats who remains the coolest of the cool.
Georgie Fame’s modern Blue Flames are: Guy Barker (trumpet), Alan Skidmore (tenor), Anthony Kerr (vibes), Tristan Powell (guitar), Alec Dankworth (double bass) and James Powell (drums). Tristan and James are Georgie’s sons (his real name is Clive Powell).

Lulu Sage Gateshead 15th May 2015

Lulu Sage Gateshead 15th May 2015
lulutixIn 1963 a young 14 year old Marie McDonald McLaughlin Lawrie saw Alex Harvey (before he was officially sensational) sing a storming version of the Isley Brothers “Shout” in a Glasgow ballroom. The experience clearly made a big impression; Marie McDonald soon became Lulu and recorded her own version of “Shout”, taking it into the UK top ten. An eminent rock journalist would later write: “It is still probably the best rock ‘n’ roll performance by a woman in the history of British pop.”
The ’60s was a magical time and Lulu was a big part of that magic. She was a major figure in British pop, recording a series of classic pop hit singles. In 1967 she featured in the film “To Sir With Love” singing the title song which reached No 1 in the USA (and is still one of my favourite all-time songs). In 1969 Lulu sang “Boom Bang-a-Bang”; the UK entry to the Eurovision Song Contest, and was the joint winner. Come the ’70s she was back in the charts with her version of David Bowie’s “The Man who Sold the World”.
Roll on 40 or so years and Lulu is touring again, singing a set of R&B classics and a selection of songs from throughout her career. I saw her concert at the Sage a couple of weeks ago. To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but was pleasantly surprised just how good she was. Lulu is still in great voice, looks stunning and has lots of stories to tell. luluprogShe has a new and well-received album, “Making Life Rhyme” for which she wrote most of the songs (along with her brother who she has worked without throughout her career). She kicked the concert off with a version of the Republica hit “Ready to Go”, followed by “Relight My Fire” which she recorded with Take That, and then “Faith In You”, the opening song from her new album. The highlight of the first set was, for me anyway, a perfect version (i.e. true to the ’70s original) of “The Man who Sold the World” which took me right back. Other highlights were “I Don’t Wanna Fight” which was written by Lulu and a hit for Tina Turner (something that I hadn’t been aware of), and an acoustic set of Bee Gees numbers including “To Love Somebody” and “I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You”. Lulu explained how, married to Maurice at the time, she was present when the songs were written and recorded by the Gibb brothers. I’d read that she would sing a reggae version of “To Sir With Love” and was a little nervous that this wouldn’t seem right; but it actually worked well, and I enjoyed her new treatment of the song. The sad news of B B King’s passing had just broken, and Lulu sang an excellent soulful “The Thrill Is Gone” in tribute to the great man. I wondered if Lulu’s voice would still stretch to singing “Shout”, but stretch indeed it did (and more). She performed the song as if we were all back in the ’60s; and for a short period; we were. Lulu and her band closed with the Edwin Starr hit “25 Miles” and everyone was up on their feet, singing along. Good fun; and much much more enjoyable that I had imagined.

The Barron Knights @ Chelsea Flower Show 21st May 2015

The Barron Knights @ Chelsea Flower Show 21st May 2015
barron knightsMarie is a keen garden fan, which led to us spending a pleasant day at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show. But rock’n’roll is never far away, and to my secret delight what should I discover but vintage comedy popsters The Barron Knights playing in the concert area. Now I remember laughing at these guys singing “Call up the Groups” on Top of the Pops (was it really over 50 years ago?). So we took our seats around lunchtime and were treated to great comedy routines, a medley of Everly Brothers hits, their inimitable version of the William Tell Overture and many other ’60s tunes. These guys can still put on a professional, slick show. The Barron Knights formed in 1959 (wow!) and the current line-up features original member Pete Langford.