Posts Tagged ‘rock’

Rod Stewart Durham Cricket Ground 9 June 2017

In search of “Rod the Mod”. “Rod Stewart began his spectacular music career in the early ’60s, and his looks and style earned him the nickname “Rod the Mod.” As a fashion icon, he was known almost as much for his spiky hair and stylish outfits as he has been for that soulful singing voice. Musically, Stewart has always been known for creating and performing classic rock and roll, pop rock, blues rock, folk rock as well as some soul music. His signature raspy voice and limber body, jumping around on stage at live performances, thrust him into the spotlight and landed him in huge demand.” (Groovy History) rod 2016 tix

Now I was a little too young to see the original “Rod the Mod” in the swinging 60s. My first experience of Rod was in the very early 70s when I saw the Faces at Sunderland Top Rank, Sunderland Locarno (John Peel’s all-time favourite gig), the Lincoln Festival of 1972, Newcastle Odeon, the Reading Festivals of 72 and 73 and (in their later days) at the Buxton Festival in 1974. But to me he was still “Rod the Mod” in those days with his gravelly voice, his spiky hair, and some wonderful ramshackle gigs where you never knew if the band was so drunk they would all fall over on top of each other; yet they somehow how held it all together. Then I followed him throughout his solo career; seeing some great concerts at Newcastle City Hall, Glasgow Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow Hampden Park, Newcastle St James’s Park, the Olympic Torch Concert in The Mall (with special guest Ronnie Wood) and many shows at Newcastle Arena. Some may have lost faith with Rod along the way, and “Do You Think I’m Sexy” was a low point for me, but I knew that in all those concerts at some point the old “Rod the Mod” would appear and all would be great again.

Now, even as I write this, a link to Every Picture Tells a Story, Rods 1971 classic album, pops up on the phone of Chris, my carer, as “album of the week”, showing the relevance today of those classic tracks. Now is this a coincidence, something spooky, or evidence that all these devices are linked and tracking our every word? (Louder than War, Rod).

rod access strips 16So there I was, this time in the lovely surroundings of Durham Cricket Ground, Chester-le-Street, still searching for “Rod the Mod”. Would he appear tonight? After all this was now the Las Vegas era Rod, with a massive back catalogue of solo hits to draw from, a big backing band, backing vocalists, and world class visuals and lighting. I had a great view from the disabled viewing platform overlooking the stage and the evening was cool, but still light and pleasant.

The set opened with the band playing an opening song, leading into the emergence of Rod, to a rapturous reception from the massive 17,000 strong crowd. After some great crowd pleasers “Some Guys Have All the luck” and “Tonight’s the Night”; zoom… we were back in time for “Maggie May” and I was grinning from ear to ear and travelling back to my own little world. This was followed by further classics, some better than others, “Forever Young” being performed particularly well and then my time machine, and Rod, took us back to “You Wear It Well” and “the Mod” was back in the house again. This was followed by “Baby Jane”, a particular favourite of mine, “Downtown Train”, “The First Cut rod 2016 progIs the Deepest” and then rolling back again to “Ooh La La”. After a few more songs, Rod took a break while the band and the great vocalists sang “River Deep Mountain High”. Then “Rod The Mod” was back to treat us to “Stay with Me”, his voice as strong as ever. Rod finished with the aforementioned “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?” (do you really still have to sing this one Rod?), Followed by the crowdpleasing, singalong and lots of arm waving “Sailing”. Rod left the stage at this point and the band closed the show. Another great Rod experience, with glimpses of “Rod the Mod” still emerging now and then. My search goes on, and will continue to do so, as long as Rod continues to grace our stages.

Setlist: Soul Finger (band only); Having a Party; Some Guys Have All the Luck; Love Is; Tonight’s the Night (Gonna Be Alright); Maggie May; Forever Young; Rhythm of My Heart; Can’t Stop Me Now;     You Wear It Well; Baby Jane; Downtown Train; The First Cut Is the Deepest; Ooh La La; You’re in My Heart; I Don’t Want to Talk About It; Have I Told You Lately; River Deep, Mountain High (band only sung by backing singers); Stay With Me; Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?; Sailing. Encore: Enjoy Yourself (It’s Later Than You Think) (band only).

 

 

 

 

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)

 

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.

Elvis Costello Sunderland Empire 3rd of March 2020

Wind back 40 odd years. Marie and I are in the upstairs bar in Newcastle Polytechnic Students Union. With us is Gary Chaplin of Penetration, Captain Sensible of the Damned and a young guy named Elvis Costello The occasion is, I think (my memory is hazy these days), the first Stiff Tour.ELVIS TIX The Captain is holding court, telling tales of the Damned on the road and how his favourite band is ABBA. He demolishes a packet of crisps in one go including the plastic pack itself! Elvis is quiet, drinking his pint. I’m not sure why the Captain was there, as he wasn’t appearing that night; I guess he must just have come along for the ride. This was the second time I had seen Elvis Costello live and I must admit I was very impressed, particularly by his second single “Alison”. I had seen him a few weeks earlier at Middlesbrough Town Hall, again on the Stiff tour. I think it must have been around November 5th and Guy Fawkes night, as I recall we were waiting outside the venue and some young kids had their “guy” against the wall and asked Elvis “Penny for the Guy?” as he passed them on his way into the Town Hall. I think he threw them a few coppers. “That Elvis Costello” I told my mates. At the time I wondered how a young guy dared call himself “Elvis”. I was soon to find out. He was soon to be in the charts with “Watching the Detectives”. A few years later, in 1980, I saw him in my home town of Sunderland, at the Mayfair. I’ve seen him a few times before and after that over the years, but I must admit I still prefer those early, rocking, concert performances by an angry young Elvis who spat out the lyrics.
Wind forward 40 years and Elvis is back in Sunderland, this time at the Empire Theatre; the venue where I saw my very first concert and where I have enjoyed many gigs over the years including those by Rory Gallagher in Taste, the Nice, T Rex, Slade, Chuck Berry, Kate Bush and many others. The support act was Ian Prowse and pretty good he was too, warming up the crowd well before our hero took to the stage.ELVIS 2
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Which Elvis would we get? The angry rocker, the middle-of-the-road crooner, or perhaps a mix? Well what we did get was a show that surpassed anything I could have expected. Elvis was backed by a great band; the Imposters, who included some old faces (Steve Nieve and Pete Thomas from the Attractions) and two excellent girl singers. For the next two hours plus we get a full selection of our favourites from throughout his career: some I am hearing for the first time but the majority I know very well. Elvis wears a silver lame jacket and is very much the rock star. The sound is loud, a little murky at first, but soon becomes clear. Elvis stands at the front, pointing his Fender Jaguar guitar at us and he spits out the lyrics as he always used to. He reminds us of that gig in Sunderland forty years ago, referring to the venue as Tiffany’s, rather than the Mayfair (but he wasn’t wrong, Tiffany’s was the sister club, next door to the Mayfair and a little more middle-of-the-road). Funnily enough I met with my friend Marianne a couple of weeks ago and she served behind the bar in Tiffany’s at the time and told me that Elvis was drinking in the club after the gig. He can’t resist dropping some names of his collaborators such as Bert Bacharach and Carole King (but who can blame him). The hits keep flowing: “(I Don’t Want to Go to) Chelsea”, “Watching the Detectives”, “A Good Year for the Roses” which has grown on me over the years, “I Can’t Stand up for Falling down”; then we are back to the very start and “Alison” and he finishes with “Pump It up”. He returns (this time the lame jacket is gold and very fetching) ELVIS 1 and sings a beautiful version of “Shipbuilding”, followed by “Oliver’s Army” with everyone standing up and singing along and finishing with an excellent version of “(What’s so Funny about) Please, Love and Understanding”. Excellent. A marathon of professionalism and much, much better than I had expected. A great night. I also ran into some old friends Ian, Pete, Mike, Maureen and John. Happy days can be here again. 🙂

Setlist: Strict Time; Clubland; Green Shirt; Accidents Will Happen; Watch Your Step; Tokyo Storm Warning; Little Triggers; (I Don’t Want to Go to) Chelsea; Unwanted Number; Watching the Detectives; Man Out of Time; A Good Year for the Roses; A Face in the Crowd; I Can’t Stand Up for Falling Down; Burnt Sugar Is So Bitter; High Fidelity; From a Whisper to a Scream; Alison; Everyday I Write the Book; Pump It Up. Encore: Shipbuilding; Oliver’s Army; (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding

Hawkwind 50th anniversary tour York Grand Opera House 11th November 2019

Time passes so quickly. It seems only a glimpse of an eye and yet it is so many years ago since I first saw Hawkwind. There I was. A young boy, running to the front of Newcastle City Hall to pick up Joss sticks and copies of International Times magazine and give them out to the crowd. They had been handed to me by, I think, Nik Turner. I sat mesmerised with my old buddy John watching swirling lights and listening to strange psychedelic beats while a naked Stacia danced in front of us. A few months later I was in Sunderland Locarno experiencing the Space Ritual tour. Happy happy days. hawkwind ticket
So I had to go to this one. 50 years of Hawkwind; still led by our Captain, David Brock and still mesmerising us with that pounding, swirling beat that only these psychedelic warlords can provide. The nearest date was in the splendid York Grand Opera House, a venue I have visited before to see Blackmore’s Night.
The trip to York was a bit of an adventure with a taxi ride to Durham station, a train to York and then a taxi to the venue. This all worked well and Lisa and I arrived at the venue in plenty of time. We had a drink in the Ken Dodd bar (the Opera House was apparently his favourite venue) and waited for the concert to begin. Our seats were close to the front, with me in my wheelchair at the end of the row. Although we were at the end we had quite a good view of the stage. Support came from The Blackheart Orchestra whose enchanting, dark tunes set the scene and the tone for the evening. After a short interval, Hawkwind took to the stage and delighted us with a set drawn from across their full 50 year career. The current line up of Hawkwind contains leader and original member Dave Brock,IMG_0623 hawk 1 longtime drummer Richard Chadwick, Old friend and wizard Tim Blake on keyboards and theremin, along with (relatively) new members Niall Hone on bass and Magnus Martin on guitar and keyboards. So we are treated to some of my favourite Hawk tunes including “Spirit of the Age”, “Born to Go” and of course “Silver Machine.” For the encore we wind back 50 years to the first album and “Hurry on Sundown.” Then another of my all-time favourites “Master of the Universe”, by which time we are on our way out, panicking and waiting for the taxi with 10 minutes to go for our train. The taxi arrives just in time! Then it’s a quick dash along the platform in York station, having navigated lifts down and back up again, and two friendly guys are waiting with a ramp to get me back onto the train. Although they are arguing a little as neither have been “trained to use the new ramp!” They managed to use it and we take our seats on the train for the short ride back up to Durham, where our friendly Station taxis guy awaits us. A short ride to pick up Chris and I am helped back to bed after experiencing another wonderful night with my hawk heroes. Happy days are here again. 🙂IMG_0622 hawk 2

Setlist: Motorway City; Flesh Fondue; Last Man on Earth; The Song of the Gremlin; Born to Go; 65 Million Years Ago; In the Beginning; Spirit of the Age; The Fantasy of Faldum; Silver Machine; Assault and Battery; The Golden Void; Right to Decide. Encore: Hurry On Sundown; Master of the Universe; Welcome to the Future.

Soft Machine Kendal Brewery Arts Centre 19 March 2016

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

The Who Wembley Arena 13th Feb 2016

The Who Wembley Arena 13th Feb 2016
imageLast night The Who returned to their home turf to play a one-off gig at Wembley Arena. Roger Daltrey has been suffering from viral meningitis, which resulted in the postponement of the last leg of their American Tour, and this gig was slotted in by way of a warm-up before the band returns to the USA to play the rearranged dates. I’m pleased to report that Roger looks and sounds well, although he did tell us that he wasn’t 100% and that his “legs weren’t fully there”. Well it didn’t show. This was another classic Who performance, easily on par with, if not surpassing, their Hyde Park show last Summer. A sold-out crowd of locals and die-hard Who fans from across Europe gave the band the rousing London welcome they deserve. The Who Hits 50! Tour is a celebration of the amazing legacy of a legendary band who have given us so much over the years. This was my 21st (I think) Who live experience, and the third time I’ve seen them on the current tour, having caught the first leg of the tour at Newcastle Arena in late 2014 and the Hyde Park gig last summer. The set is largely the same, although it has become slightly shorter with openers “I Can’t Explain” and “Substitute” being dropped, as has their early attempt at a mini opera “A Quick One (While He’s Away)”. Last night we were treated to the inclusion of the instrumental “The Rock” as part of a trio of songs from “Quadrophenia”.
imageThe evening started with a slide show which took us through the history of the band, and featured many great images of the late Keith Moon and John Entwistle. This tour is a celebration of their legacy and contribution, as well as a run through of some of the Who’s greatest songs. The band walked on stage and launched straight into “Who Are You?” and away we went on another amazing journey through so many classic tunes; a history of this extraordinary band, and also of our own lives and memories. The giant screen behind the stage displayed powerful full-face images of Roger, Pete, Keith and John, along with clips of the Who in the ’60s and the ’70s and clips from Quadrophenia. The sound was crisp; I was sitting halfway back on the terrace to the left of the stage, and every note was very clear. The first part of the set featured early classics: “The Seeker”, “Picture of Lily”, “The Kids are Alright”, “My Generation” and my personal favourite “I Can See for Miles”. Then we moved swiftly to the ’70s and the haunting “Behind Blue Eyes” followed by “Bargain” from “Who’s Next”, “Join Together”, and “You Better You Bet”. The aforementioned segment from “Quadrophenia” followed. “Eminence Front” is not my favourite track, so I took the opportunity to have a walk around the arena, finding a spot downstairs on the floor towards the back. I spent the rest of evening there, enjoying the band and observing the crowd singing along, dancing and generally going crazy. imageThe songs from “Tommy” followed, culminating in a powerful crowd singalong to “Listening to You” which always gets me. I knew we were on the home stretch. Roger’s voice was holding out fine, and Pete was full of power and angst, twirling and twirling his arm, and squeezing great solos out of his Fender Stratocaster. The familiar minimalist synthesiser intro signalled “Baba O’Reilly” which then lead into closing song “Won’t Get Fooled Again”; as raw and relevant as ever. Pure class. Pete introduced the band, and they left the stage at around 10.30pm. I took the 2 minute walk across the road to the Wembley Hilton. Pete said at the end “Hope to see you again.” Yes indeed, hope so.
Setlist: Who Are You; The Seeker; The Kids Are Alright; I Can See for Miles; My Generation; Pictures of Lily; Behind Blue Eyes; Bargain; Join Together; You Better You Bet; I’m One; The Rock; Love Reign O’er Me; Eminence Front; Amazing Journey/Sparks; Pinball Wizard; See Me Feel Me/Listening to You; Baba O’Reilly; Won’t Get Fooled Again
I’m typing this on a very slow train (engineering works on a Sunday) which is gradually taking me back home ‘up north’. Next stop is York. I’m feeling quite tired and stiff this morning; must be starting to feel my age.