Wednesday, December 26, 2007

2007 - The Best and Worst

A quick look back over the year from a "best of" and "worst of" perspective.

Best Gig 2007
1: The Scorpions - Hammersmith
A long show at London's Best Venue - Great Fun
2: Status Quo - Brighton
The best Quo show I've been to for ages
3: Paul McCartney - Roundhouse
Legend - Up close and personal and a cheap ticket!

Most Disappointing Gig 2007
1: Ian Hunter - Pigalle Club
Purely down to the venue
2: Atari's - Mean Fiddler
OK musically, visually awful
3: The Answer, Bloomsbury Ballroom
Great band, awful sound here and a poor venue

Best Venue 2007
1: Hammersmith Apollo
2: Borderline
3: Fairfield Halls

Worst Venue 2007
1: Pigalle Club
Not only the worst this year, but probably ever! You can't see unless you book dinner and can't afford to drink! (The toilets are nice!)
2: Nottingham Rock City
Much of the audience can't see the full stage
3: Bloomsbury Ballroom
Like a wedding reception with a rip-off bar

Good in 2007
1: The BBC Electric Proms
Good artists at sensible prices!
2: Tuborg
At Hyde Park and the Mean Fiddler
3: Nearly all my late-night return connections from far-away gigs worked out
Good planning and more than a little luck!

Bad In 2007
1: Drunks
A big increase recently in people completely out of it at gigs and being a nuisance (and standing near me!)
2: Rip-off ticket prices
£100+ for Bon Jovi, Rolling Stones, Genesis, Police etc. No thanks! £875 for The Eagles. Yeah, right!
3: Rip-off prices at bars and merchandise stalls
I don't want to pay £4 for a beer thank you. Nor will I pay £15 for a programme. I would buy a T shirt if they were a) good and b) around a tenner instead of poor quality and £16/£20 each !
4: People buying tickets for "big artists" purely to flog them on eBay for profit.
I never have liked touts and this is what it makes you.

Well, that's it for 2007. Hope you had a good one and an even better 2008!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Thunder - Nottingham Rock City - Wednesday 19th December

Thunder’s Xmas bash - once again at Nottingham Rock City. Always nice to see how friendly most people are once you get outside London - they actually talk to you and smile in hotels/bars… none of that nonsense at home!

After last years viewing fiasco, we made sure we got in early and got a good spot. The gig itself got off to a slow start - if anything the material was a little too obscure, even for the traditional Thunder “hardcore”. The pace picked up with the arrival of the guests - including the McDonald sisters and Peter Shoulder (who’s guitar solo on Go Your Own Way was fantastic). The 2nd half of the show picked up with a good selection of Thunder originals and some well chosen covers (see setlist). The only downside, as always, was the venue. There are a number of problems with Rock City:-

1) When the band sits down (as in the first half), if you are not in the front few rows (or very tall), you can’t see them.
2) The venue is much wider than the stage. If you are off to the right (about a third of the crowd), you can’t see.
3) If you are on the balcony and not in the front row, you can't see.
4) There is little on no signage to exits, toilets etc and the place is a maize.
5 There is a bloke in the gents demanding cash for napkins/aftershave/lollipops/ turning taps on… this is a rock venue for goodness sake, not some poncey club.
6) Hardly anyone behind the bar, so you don’t get served quickly.
7) When you do, the draft beer has run out, leaving you with a choice of a £3.50 can of (warm) Red Stripe.
8) There is only one guy on duty at the cloakroom = long queues.
9) According to other reports, security is overly zealous.

All in all, it is not a good place for a gig. It’s probably OK as a club (which it is most nights), but for live shows it’s amongst the worst venues I’ve been to. Let’s hope next years show is elsewhere!

Despite that, it was all good fun and we had a nice few hours afterwards in the Cookie Club.

Setlist:
MOMENT OF TRUTH
LONG WAY FROM HOME
ONCE IN A LIFETIME
LOVE THE ONE YOU'RE WITH
DOES IT FEEL LIKE LOVE?
SUBSTITUTE (LUKE MORLEY VOCAL) (THE WHO)
IT’S ANOTHER DAY
ANGIE (ROLLING STONES)
ON A DAY LIKE TODAY
THE THINGS WE DO FOR LOVE (10cc)
GO YOUR OWN WAY (FLEETWOOD MAC)
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SPIN DOCTOR
STAND UP
BLOWN AWAY
EVERYBODY WANTS HER
RADAR LOVE (GOLDEN EARRING)
PREACHING FROM A CHAIR
EVERYBODY'S LAUGHING
ROLLING THE DICE
DON'T WAIT FOR ME
ADDICTED TO LOVE (ROBERT PALMER)
CAN'T KEEP A GOOD MAN DOWN
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IT'S ONLY ROCK & ROLL (ROLLING STONES)
DELILAH (SENSATIONAL ALEX HARVEY BAND / TOM JONES)
SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN (SPRINGSTEEN AND LOADS OF OTHERS)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Joe Cocker - Indigo2, London - Sunday 16th December

The evening started with a pleasantly swift trip to London due to engineering works. This had the unexpected bonus of a fast train direct to London Bridge where we caught the 2nd half of Arsenal v Chelsea around Borough Market. A swiftish tube to the Millennium Dome where, unfortunately, The Spice Girls were also playing. Due to Dave’s rubbish information, we were unable to find the “Philpot” pub, either in reality or on-line for directions - mainly due to it being called the “Pilot”. So a quick one in the “Slug & Lettuce” (not normally found in such places by choice) and into the venue. The “Indigo2” holds around 2000 people and must have the highest price gig bar in England (bar the appalling Pigalle club of course). £4 for a pint of Becks Vier! Outrageous and out of principle meant no more were purchased.

Gig was solid - Mr Cocker certainly starting to look his age, but vocally still impressive. All the expected hits were played - I was especially please to hear “When The Night Comes” and “She Came In Through The Bathroom Window”. I lost big-time in the bet with Richard on the number of unnecessary “screams”. I went 12 or under - we lost count somewhere around 30!

Once again found ourselves next to a couple (in their 50’s) who were totally legless and unable to stand without supporting each other (just). To avoid getting too annoyed, I moved away - thankfully 10 minutes later they had staggered elsewhere. 2 blokes behind us (also in their 50’s) were in a similar state. That has been one of the bad things this year - people turning up at gigs absolutely slaughtered. As you know from these pages, I’m all for making the gig a social occasion - but surely the idea must be to be in some sort of state to enjoy / remember it!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Status Quo - Brighton Centre - Thursday 13th December

My prediction was that they'll have dropped "Gravy Train". Failing that, the set will be the same as at Southend & Croydon. We shall see...

Wrong on both counts!! Gravy Train in and "Burning Bridges" added.

This was my 3rd (and last) show of the tour and by far the best. Francis seemed really up for this one and some of the improvised solos were excellent. I'm not normally a fan of Burning Bridges, but when you get the "guitar version" like last night (as opposed to what I term the "keyboard version" which often gets played), it really rocks!

All in all a great night! (also funny to see security asking Rhino what he wanted them to do with the bloke who tried to climb on stage. "Throw him out" was the obvious reply!)

We also did a nice mini-crawl of the Kemp Town area of Brighton beforehand - especially liked the Hoffbrau in the Hand In Hand and the huge female > male ratio in the St James!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Chas & Dave - Chicago Rock Cafe, Sutton - Wednesday 5th December

Yes indeedy, Charles and David - live in Sutton on a Wednesday evening! Now before I hear you scoffing, let's just say this was actually really good fun. I hadn't been to Chicago's for years, but it had a nice friendly crowd and felt more like a weekend. Everyone was in the mood for a Cockney sing-along and that's what we got for about an hour and 10 minutes.
 
Quite a late start (10:30) which gave us time to watch the Geordies grab a deserved draw with the Gooners. The set list was pretty much what you'd expect, with all the hits played. They are also the only artist I've seen (I think) who have had just piano, bass and drums. We were trying to work out how old they are... a bit of surfing suggests Chas and Mick are 64 (Mick looks older!) and Dave is 62.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Thunder - London Astoria - Sunday 2nd December

A late afternoon departure - slightly delayed due to Richard getting the timetable mixed up with Saturday! Went to the "Beehive" in Vauxhall for a couple of beers and the 2nd half of Spurs v Birmingham. Good entertainment and a cracking winner from Birmingham in injury time. Then a quick trip up to Waterloo (despite Richard trying to board the southbound Surbiton service!) and a bus across the bridge (Waterloo Sunset - the best ground-level view in London?).

First port of call, the Nell Gwynne, was unfortunately closed.. not sure if this is permanent (which would be a shame) or just for Sunday. So, instead, a mini-International crawl visiting the Maple Leaf (Canada), Walkabout (Australia) - with Steinlager on draft and Bok Bar (South Africa) before a bit of live Jazz (nice!) in the historic Lamb and Flag. After another swift half, it was off to the venue (we'd been informed by the guy who answers the phone for the Astoria - he's been there for years and knows everything!) that Thunder would be on at 8.25. They were!

Venue was very busy - must have been pretty much sold out. We just squeezed onto the floor on the left where the view was OK and the sound pretty good. A solid show - albeit slightly reliant on more recent material. Certainly a fair few of the people near us didn't seem to recognise much of it. Danny Bowes (vocals) was on good form and the band were as on the ball as ever - some great solos from Luke Morley and Ben Matthews. In the absense of "Dirty Love", Richard and I had our "Higher or Lower" bet on "Can't Keep A Good Man Down". Richard went for 12 minutes. I went "lower" and won - it was around 9 minutes 30 - could have made all the difference if they'd gone into "Get It On" as sounded likely at one stage. A 16 song set in just over an hour and 45 minutes shows that some of the songs are quite lengthy compared to the studio originals.

At the end of the show we made a quick getaway (via the stairs to the Ladies toilet! and the attractive female security - "Yes, of course we were told to come out this way") and were home in good time via Victoria. All in all, a good evening - looking forward to the Christmas Party in Nottingham.

Set List:
Dirty Dream
Last Man Standing
Higher Ground
I'll Be Waiting
The Devil Made Me Do It
Robert Johnson's Tombstone
River of Pain
Flawed to Perfection
Like A Satellite
Chain Reaction
Backstreet Symphony
Love Walked In
You Can't Keep A Good Man Down
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(Somebody Get Me A) Spin Doctor
Low Life In High Places
I Love You More Than Rock & Roll