Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Quireboys - Saturday 28th January - Bedford Esquires

It's Griff's birthday celebration in Bedford where the Quireboys are "Keeping Rock And Roll Alive" with an electric show in his home town. It turns out to be an epic adventure.

I plan to meet Rich at Kings Cross to watch Arsenal thrash Southampton on TV and the "helpful" Thameslink staff in the ticket office refuse to sell me a "from boundary zone..." ticket for Richard as he is not with me and I don't have the travelcard part of his ticket. This leads to a "discussion" where I point out that all I need to do is to "go round again" and show my ticket to buy the same thing again. I am told this is "illegal!". As there are only 2 desks open and would be easily spotted, we wait until later to get the other ticket, thus almost missing the train.

And the train. 5 coaches (inc 2 first class). No seats. Thank you East Midland Trains, so we stand all the way to Bedford. At least it's quick and funnily enough when the inspector checks our tickets and passes, they are correct.

We have enough time for a game of darts in a town centre pub and a visit to the surprisingly spacious Wetherspoons. And then onto Esquires where we are puzzled by the fact that the Quireboys are not in the room we saw them previously. Instead, they are upstairs and in a larger hall. And it's pretty busy. Still, we got to the bar and got a half decent spot. The electric show was really good, Spike and the band on good form and (relatively) sober. The crowd were not. I had the best part of 2 full beers spilt over the lower half of me (to be fair, the culprits were very apologetic). Despite that, the gig was enjoyable.

We knew that the downside of being 55 miles from home was that we'd probably have to miss the encore to get the last train. We'd double checked the last one (23:27) with the (more helpful) lady at the Bedford Ticket office. Technology these days means that you can check the running before you leave. 15 minutes before the encore it was "on time". 5 minutes before "delayed" with an eta 33 mins later. There was also a previously undocumented Thameslink "chugger" at 23:40 which was not on the ticket office list.

We stayed for the encore whilst tweeting EMT to see if the train would actually run. We were told it would, but now it would be 45 mins late. Previous experience suggests that when things are that late (and still not moving) they often turn to "cancelled"! So a quick dash for the "chugger" and a slow "all stations" trip back to St Pancras (we got in 2 mins after the late arrival as it turns out, but at least had several seats and toilet facilities!).

And on to St Pancras. London has recently added a "night tube" on the Victoria and Northern lines for Friday and Saturday Nights. So there is no excuse at an International Station for the entrances to all tubes to be boarded up. As relative locals we were able to guess that the entrances in nearby Kings Cross may be open (they were), but why on earth no signs telling the people with suitcases trying to navigate around St Pancras that? Tube was efficient, but very busy on the Northern Line from Stockwell.

I say goodbye to Richard at Morden and wait for a 93 bus. the Countdown board says "18 minutes" - grrr. 25 minutes later it says "16 minutes". FFS! The bus eventually arrives 45 minutes later after the World's most frequent night bus (the N155) had arrived 6 times!

I had thought when I saw the 18 minutes not moving that an "Uber" cab was a good option (£7.50 and 3 mins away), but as my phone was down to 1% battery I had no confidence that it would stay on long enough to confirm the booking, identify the cab or be called by the driver.

So, eventually I get in at 2:45 am - three and a quarter hours to travel 55 miles. That's the price for "Keeping Rock And Roll Alive". Welcome to transport in Britain folks!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Joanne Shaw Taylor - Friday 27th January - Shepherds Bush Empire

My first show of 2017 and it's on the first floor of the Shepherds Bush Empire for Joanne Shaw Taylor. For reasons I'm not quite certain of the Empire nearly always make the first floor unreserved which means you have to get there early for a seat or a standing view from the side above the floor. We opted for the latter, which meant getting a decent view of the support band - who's name I have instantly forgotten. Shame as they were actually pretty good.

JST and her minimalist backing band appeared - good to see the old tradition of Guitarist and Bass play standing on rugs being kept (!) and it was a really high quality show. Mainly showcasing the excellent "Wild" album, the vocals were clear and the playing of the highest order. Joanne goes from strength to strength and my guess is the next time she plays here the upper tiers will be open.

Dyin' to Know
Nothing to Lose
No Reason to Stay
Jump That Train
Diamonds in the Dirt
Tried, Tested & True
Watch 'em Burn
Time Has Come
Wanna Be My Lover
Ready to Roll
Wild Is the Wind
Tied & Bound
Going Home

An enthusiastic (and more thorough) review of the show is here

Thursday, December 29, 2016

End of Year Reflections

Rick Parfitt - Brighton 2015
Normally at this time, I compile a list of best shows, venues of the year etc, but I'm not going to this year. 2016 has been the start of what I fear will become a trend as the years go by of the musicians I grew up with steadily passing away. I appreciate that is life as we know it, and whilst it is sad, it does give us a chance to reflect on the enjoyment we have had from seeing these great musicians. In the past 12 months, these artists that I have seen perform live are no longer with us:-

David Bowie, Prince, Glenn Frey, Andy "Thunderclap" Newman, Leon Russell, Leonard Cohen, Dale "Buffin" Griffin, Steve Byrd, Scotty Moore, Rick Parfitt & George Michael

Probably the one that hit me most (although not entirely unexpected) was Rick Parfitt on Christmas Eve. You do grow a certain attachment for a guy you've seen perform well over 100 times, met and have autographed photos on your wall.

Rest In Peace all.

Sadly, there will be more in 2017, so enjoy them while you can folks. I've been to 37 shows this year - one less than the last two years, but the vast majority have been really enjoyable - both the big arena shows and the small clubs. My bank balance may have taken a pounding, but there's no substitute for quality live music.

Here's wishing all readers of this blog a safe and enjoyable 2017.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Status Quo - Tuesday 14th December - Brighton Centre

More Quo - and more driving to Brighton due to another train strike. My last show of 2016 and support once again comes from REO Speedwagon (as on Sunday). They were OK again - they played their 3 hits - but boy, does the lead singer fancy himself! Everyone was made more than aware that he wrote the big hits! Still, as a support act, I'm glad I've seen them (twice!), but probably wouldn't choose to invest to see them as headliners.

A standing show meant a decent spot in the crowd for Quo, but a reasonable number of annoying people around (either barging to the front or in the case of one nearby - singing the entire setlist into the face of his mate whilst acting out the words in a sort of "I know the song, you don't" type of way. Watch the ****ing show and let your mate enjoy it!).

Show very similar to the O2 and very enjoyable again.

Setlist (REO Speedwagon)
Don't Let Him Go
Take It on the Run
Keep Pushin'
Can't Fight This Feeling
Son of a Poor Man
Time for Me to Fly
Back on the Road Again
Ridin' the Storm Out
Keep On Loving You
Roll With the Changes

Setlist (Status Quo)
The Wanderer
Something 'bout You Baby I Like
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
In the Army Now
Drum Solo (The Caveman)
Roll Over Lay Down
Down Down
Whatever You Want
Rockin' All Over The World
Burning Bridges (On and Off and on Again)
Rock and Roll Music / Bye Bye Johnny

Monday, December 12, 2016

Status Quo - Sunday 11th December - O2 Arena

Latest Quo entry takes Mrs B and I to the O2 Arena in Greenwich for the "Last Night of The Electrics". This was my first viewing of Richie Malone (standing in for Rick Parfitt following his most recent heart attack) and he acquitted himself well. Sadly, not many other changes had been made. Which doesn't mean it wasn't excellent (it normally is), it's just the age old complaint about the static set list - still, too late to change their ways now.

Francis Rossi was on good form - Rhino was better than expected on the vocal parts normally sung by Rick and it was all very enjoyable. The older man next to me had not taken my stance on refusing to pay £6.50 for a pint of Stella and was absolutely hammered. His attempts to video portions of the show on a phone he couldn't work meant accidentally calling many of the people in his contact list. By the end of the show he had 10 "missed" incoming calls and 12 text messages. The one I saw was asking if he was OK as he kept calling them. I was amazed he made it through the show - he certainly won't remember much of it.

The Wanderer
Something 'bout You Baby I Like
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
In the Army Now
Drum Solo (The Caveman)
Roll Over Lay Down
Down Down
Whatever You Want
Rockin' All Over The World
Burning Bridges (On and Off and on Again)
Rock and Roll Music / Bye Bye Johnny

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Magnum - Tuesday 6th December - Brighton Concorde 2

Thanks to the incompetence of Southern Rail and their inability to engage with their staff, we couldn't risk the train to Brighton on the basis we may not get home on a strike day (nice of Thameslink - same parent company - to cancel so many of their trains with no explanation too). That meant a drive to the south coast and a battle with the "pay online only" parking challenges around the Concorde 2 venue.

Magnum were on a second mini-leg to their recent tour (5 nights) and I enjoyed this more than the London show. Decent view and sound - with a small number of set changes to accommodate "Lonely Night" from the forthcoming ballads compilation. Despite slightly too much new material still, the band were on good form - Bob's vocals standing up well and Tony's guitar impressive as always. Harry, Mark and Al were provided the expected level of expertise behind them.

News in the car on the way home that our train had indeed been cancelled vindicated our decision to drive!

Soldier of the Line
On a Storyteller's Night
Sacred Blood “Divine” Lies
Freedom Day
Dance of the Black Tattoo
Crazy Old Mothers
Blood Red Laughter
Your Dreams Won't Die
How Far Jerusalem
Unwritten Sacrifice
Twelve Men Wise and Just
Les Morts Dansant
All England's Eyes
Kingdom of Madness
Lonely Night
When the World Comes Down

[PS - 2 days later brings the shock news that keyboard maestro Mark Stanway has quit the band. Reasons not clear, although it appears that there must have been a massive falling out to leave after 36 years with 3 dates only to go. In which case that is a real shame]

Sunday, December 04, 2016

SAS Band - Saturday 3rd December - Guildford G Live

Spike Edney's SAS Band return for their annual Christmas knees up. With guests Tom Robinson, Midge Ure, Toyah Wilcox, Madeline Bell and Patti Russo, this fitted into the standard show - classic rock covers played by exceptional musicians. Only slight dispointment was - like  last time around - the "other special guests" didn't materialise. Still, those we had were good - the version of "2,4,6,8" was possibly the best I've heard. For me, Midge Ure stole the show with the trio of "Vienna", "Dancing With Tears In My Eyes" and "The Boys Are Back In Town". Toyah and Jamie Moses did a decent version of Fairytale of New York and there were nice musical tributes to David Bowie and Leonard Cohen.

It was good, and I enjoyed it, but the amount of spare room in the standing area was possibly a reflection of the high ticket cost and the familiarity of the guests.

Setlist anyone?

Monday, November 21, 2016

David Essex - Sunday 20th November - Drury Lane Theatre

View from the Gods
David Essex announced that this would be his "farewell tour", so it seemed like a good opportunity to see the 70's superstar again before he bows out. This is the 3rd time I've seen David and I seem to be getting higher and higher in each venue I see him! This despite paying (well) over £10 for the first time for his ticket! The show was effectively a greatest hits sing-a-long, with Richard and I very much towards the lower age range for the audience. The view was OK(ish), but the sound was clear, vocals good and the material as expected.

I would put myself very much in the "casual fan" bracket regarding Mr Essex, but the passion of his true fans really showed - hundreds even standing out in the rain by the stage door afterwards to get a glimpse or photo.

Beautiful Day
If I Could
All the Fun of the Fair
Hold Me Close
Me and My Girl (Nightclubbing)
Oh What a Circus
A Winter's Tale
Picture This Sky
On and On
Rock On
Imperial Wizard
Ships That Pass In The Night
Gonna Make You a Star
Silver Dream Machine
Here We Are All Together
It's Gonna Be Alright
I'll Be Missing You

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Ian Hunter - Friday 11th November - Shepherds Bush Empire

Ian Hunter and the Rant Band
I had been looking forward to seeing Ian again and was even more pleased when I remembered that we had decent floor seats for this one. Support came from Graham Parker and Brinsley Schwarz who were pleasant enough - but somehow I expected that I'd recognise at least a couple of their songs. I didn't! Still, it was fine and Graham came across well with some self depreciating humour to the fore.

Mr Hunter has been touring for a good few years now with his Rant Band and the set tonight was a good mixture of old classics and newer favourites. Ian was in fine voice and effortlessly switched between guitar and keyboard. The crowd lapped it up (after almost being dragged to their feet initially by 2 somewhat overexcited fans - who presumably wanted to get "down the front"). If I do have one reoccurring issue with Ian's shows, it is the front of house sound. Now, it could be mitigating that we were in the 4th row, but it took several songs before the vocals and in-between speech became clear (and lifted above the instruments). Also when special guest Paul Cuddeford joined in for "All The Way From Memphis", it took an age for the desk to realise that he was playing a solo and to turn him up so the audience could hear it. I'm sure being the sound man is a far from easy job, but there are few recurring shows I go to these days where the vocals start so muffled.

Despite those reservations, I really enjoyed the show and it was nice to be able to hear "All The Young Dudes" without a stage invasion by Joe Elliott!

That's When The Trouble Starts
Once Bitten Twice Shy
When I'm President
The Truth, the Whole Truth, Nuthin' but the Truth 
Cleveland Rocks 
All American Alien Boy 
Fingers Crossed
Honaloochie Boogie 
Just Another Night 
Bow Street Runners 
Shrunken Heads 
American Spy 
Michael Picasso 
23A, Swan Hill 
Sweet Jane 
Irene Wilde (Snippet)
All the Way From Memphis (with Paul Cuddeford)
All the Young Dudes 
Goodnight, Irene (Snippet with Graham Parker)

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Dan Baird & Homemade Sin - Saturday 5th November, Bush Hall

Who's Got The Hat?
The now (at least) annual London show from Dan and the boys. Back to Bush Hall, where a slightly stressful 5-modes of transport journey got us there slightly after nine. Thankfully proceedings seemed to be running a bit late and we caught half of the main support act with Warner E Hodges on guitar. They had a couple of catchy numbers, but the main vocals were a slightly acquired taste.

The late start and strict curfew meant a reduced headline set. Dan prides himself on choosing the set each night (and mixing it up on the fly). In general, this works really well, but tonight it didn't quite have the desired effect for me - probably the weakest show I've seen from the guys for a while. Quite a lot of similar songs and too many elongated. Surely a 12 minute version of Railroad Steel to finish was not the best use of limited time especially when it followed a lengthy "Dan Takes Five" (which is basically the same song!)

Still, "Mon Cheri", "Sheila" & "I Love You Period" were great. "Two for Tuesday" was a sad omission, but to be fair, even a slightly under-par show from this band is still good.

Dan was kind enough to sign a copy of the new Live DVD/CD - "Live At The Sweden Rock Festival" for me which was much appreciated.

I didn't note the exact set, so if anyone did - could they please post?