Thursday, December 31, 2015

Cregan & Co - Wednesday 30th December - Boom Boom Club, Sutton

An early "New Year" show from Jim Cregan and his band of merry men. A family outing for us this time, following the relative success of forcing the kids to watch Rod Stewart in Las Vegas. Here, at a packed Boom Boom club at Sutton Utd FC, vocalist Ben Mills let rip through a selection of Rod classics and highlights from "Family" (Jim's "other" band) plus Steve Harley's "Come Up and See Me (Make Me Smile)".

As ever. musicianship was of the highest standard. Drummer Harry James becomes my artist seen this year with the most acts (Thunder, Magnum, Snakecharmer and here) and a special guest appearance from ex-Bad Company guitarist Dave "Bucket" Colwell for "Sweet Little Rock 'n' Roller" ended off a great show.

Jim and Dave photo by Philip Crow

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Def Leppard - Friday 18th December - Wembley Arena

A double (or even triple) header with Def Leppard co-headlining again with Whitesnake, this time with the Black Star Riders (ex Thin Lizzy) as support.

We arrived part way through the Black Star Riders set - which sounded pretty good. Ricky Warwick's voice is stunningly similar to Phil Lynott's and the sing-a-long Whiskey In The Jar at the end was sung enthusiastically by the filling arena.

Whitesnake were up next. Supporting their latest album of Deep Purple covers, the setlist included many from that. Not being a big Deep Purple fan, many of these sounded pretty dull to me. David Coverdale's voice however seemed to be back in form and the final 4 songs of the set went down well.

Def Leppard opted to start with a song from their rather good new album and that set the scene nicely. Joe Elliott's vocals were strong and not even the site of a topless (from the start) Phil Collen could detract from the musicianship. I suspect hard-core Def Leppard fans could complain about a fairly static setlist, but for the casual fan (ie me) this hit the right balance.

Setlist - Def Leppard
Let's Go
Love Bites
Armageddon It
Rock On 
Two Steps Behind (acoustic Joe Elliott)
When Love and Hate Collide
Switch 625
Let's Get Rocked
Pour Some Sugar On Me
Rock Of Ages

Setlist - Whitesnake
Bad Boys
Love Ain't No Stranger
The Gypsy 
Give Me All Your Love
Ain't No Love In The Heart Of The City 
You Fool No One 
Drum Solo
Soldier Of Fortune 
Is This Love
Fool For Your Loving
Here I Go Again
Still Of The Night

Setlist - Black Star Riders
All Hell Breaks Loose
Are You Ready
The Killer Instinct
Bound For Glory
Kingdom Of The Lost
Finest Hour
Whiskey In The Jar 

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Status Quo - Friday 11th December - Brighton Centre

Rossi, Parfitt, Cave, Edwards, Bown: Status Quo, Brighton  2015
December. Brighton. It must be Quo. Indeed it was and a very pleasant afternoon of pubs and darts was followed by another solid show at the Brighton Centre. We've seen support Wilco Johnson enough over the last year or 2, so skipped his support slot in favour of the Chippie and a beer.

Quo were as you'd expect - no, actually better when you consider their age and comments that Rossi is feeling the strain these days. The static setlist remains the one real bugbear for so many of us - there can be no excuse for the 2 Heavy Traffic songs remaining in the set at the expense of others and does anyone pay money to want to see Quo play The Wanderer? Other than that what's not to like?

The Wanderer 
Something 'bout You Baby I Like 
Little Lady
Burning Bridges (On and Off and on Again)
Beginning of the End
Medley: What You're Proposing / Down the Dustpipe / Wild Side of Life / Railroad / Again and Again / Big Fat Mama
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 
Paper Plane
Junior's Wailing 
Rock and Roll Music / Bye Bye Johnny 

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Judas Priest - Tuesday 1st December - Brixton Academy

Breaking The What!?
Down to Brixton for the Metal Gods and a thorough test for my new acoustic earplugs!

The evening starts with Michael Schenker's latest reincarnation - the Temple of Rock. Featuring a couple of ex-Scorpions on the rhythm section and Doogie White (Rainbow) on vocals, they romped through some popular material including the Scorpions classic "Rock You Like A Hurricane" which I'm pretty certain Michael didn't play on when he was in the band!

Mr Schenker certainly cut a slightly odd figure in his bobble hat and shuffling around the stage looking a man much older than his years, Still, it's his playing that we'd come in early to see and that was good.

After a brief interval, "The Priest" were back in town, Rob Halford resplendent in an array of black cloaks, jackets and gowns. Plus the slightly weird black gloves of course. As a frontman, he spends surprisingly little time at the front of the stage. The standard favourites were in the set of course, but to me the new material merged into one to a large extent. His vocals seemed good and I enjoyed the show (although was slightly closer to the mosh-pit than intended!), but not as much as on previous occasions. Maybe the earplugs affected things too much. In our group of 6 though, I was in a minority as the rest thought it a belter.

Setlist (Michael Schenker's Temple of Rock)
Doctor Doctor
Live and Let Live
Victim of Illusion 
Vigilante Man
Lord of the Lost and Lonely
Rock You Like A Hurricane 
Rock Bottom 

Setlist (Judas Priest)
Metal Gods
Desert Plains
Victim of Changes
Halls of Valhalla
The Rage
Turbo Lover
Redeemer of Souls
Beyond the Realms of Death
Screaming for Vengeance
Breaking The Law
Hell Bent for Leather
Electric Eye
You've Got Another Thing Comin'
Living After Midnight

Monday, November 30, 2015

Scouting For Girls - Monday 30th November - Sherpherds Bush Empire

The full tour show from Scouting For Girls and we have seated tickets in the 1st tier at the Shepherds Bush Empire. Decent view, but had to get here early to secure unreserved seat. A decent set from the boys, including a nice cover of Bon Jovi's "Livin' On A Prayer". Ray's voice seemed a fraction more strained than normal, but not to any detriment.

A few new songs (some played at Kingston a month or so back) fitted in well with the old favourites and the crowd was in good voice throughout, but especially during 1+1.

I really like these guys as a band, but I do have one (albeit minor) criticism. It all feels a bit rushed - almost as if they daren't leave any time between songs and feel the need to fill any potential lull in the crowd volume. If they just slowed down a bit between songs when they changed instruments, spoke to the crowd (as they do really well) and introduced stuff in a slightly less manic way then it would make the show 5 minutes longer (no bad thing as their shows are quite short) and just make the whole thing look more polished.

Otherwise, hard to fault.

Bad Superman
Still Thinking About You
Life's Too Short
I Wish I Was James Bond
Love How It Hurts
The Airplane Song
Michaela Strachan (Short Version)
Posh Girls
Elvis Ain't Dead / (I Can't Help) Falling In Love With You
This Ain't A Love Song
Livin' On A Prayer 
Christmas In The Air (Tonight)
She's So Lovely

[Follow up: Shepherds Bush Empire now closed for the "rest of the year" for urgent repairs! - details here ]

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Snakecharmer - Friday 13th November - Islington O2 Academy

This years London Snakecharmer show was still in Islington - this time at the O2 Academy - which is becoming one of my favourite venues. We swapped from our normal bar-side to stand in front of Micky Moody as the sparse crowd made access throughout the floor very easy. It's a shame it was so quiet - especially for a Friday - maybe the fact the band are still trading on their only LP is a factor? Still, they contain 2 of my favourite drummers and bassists (Harry James and Neil Murray) and the set selection of Whitesnake numbers and self-titled LP highlights was solid, albeit a little short maybe.

So all good, but I'm not quite sure what the bands strategy is to move themselves forward to bigger and better things. The answer might be that they don't need one and are happy doing what they do.

Guilty As Charged
A Little Rock & Roll
Ready & Willing 
Accident Prone
Falling Leaves
Ain't Gonna Cry No More 
Nothing To Lose
Crying In The Rain 
Moody's Blues [Mick Moody slide guitar solo, accompanied by Harry James on drums]
Slow And Easy 
My Angel
Here I Go Again 
Fool For Your Loving

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Dan Baird & Homemade Sin - Friday 6th November - Bush Hall

My second of the-end-of-year Homemade Sin shows - back at the Bush Hall which it has to be said was considerably less busy than last years equivalent show. It was what you'd expect though - loud, sweaty and good.

Shame the bar isn't up to much - overpriced bottles only (of Meantime) - but we're not here for the drink, it's the music that was key. Different setlist from Winchester (again sadly not recorded by me) and my ears were ringing afterwards. I purchased the new CD and Vinyl on the way out which Dan was kind enough to sign for me. Must have a look through his solo stuff that I own - I probably now have more signed than not!

Same again next year?

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Tom Robinson - Friday 30th October - Harpenden Public Halls

A busy October comes to an end with another new venue for me (and indeed new town) - and a Thameslink trek across town to the Harpenden Public Halls.

I had been impressed with Mr Robinson a month or 2 back and with Mrs B keen to see him too, this was the only accessible show for us on the rest of the tour.

The show was in a different show to the new album showcase in London. It was still in two halves, but followed a more traditional mix of hits interspersed with new material.

Again it was really enjoyable. The view was good, with a very high stage and sound quality excellent. Tom's personality comes across really well with the in-between song stories and the musicianship was, once again, of high standard. There was even an improvised "Grey Cortina" in response to an audience request, which possibly wasn't on the original setlist. Sadly, we had to leave at the end of "2-4-6-8 Motorway" to get the train and missed the "surprise" encore, but again a fun evening was had in what looks to be a nice town. I shall return.

The Winter of '79
Too Good to Be True
Cry Out
Never Get Old
Up Against the Wall
Merciful God
War Baby
Meet Me Half Way [Duet with Lee Forsyth-Griffiths]
Home In The Morning
Don't Jump, Don't Fall
Atmospherics: Listen to the Radio
Glad to Be Gay
Risky Business
The Mighty Sword Of Justice
Grey Cortina
2-4-6-8 Motorway
Power in the Darkness
Only The Now

Friday, October 30, 2015

Dan Baird & Homemade Sin - Thursday 29th October - Winchester Railway Inn

A new venue for me - the Railway Inn in Winchester. Earlier in the day we'd had a wander around the Cathedral town and despite the rainy weather found it very pleasant. Highlight was "The Black Boy" pub where we had our first ever game (in 30 years of pub going!) of "Ringing The Bull". See links below.

The venue at the Railway Inn was smaller than I'd expected - I guess it holds around 125 when full? There we around 90 tonight (including some familiar faces from London shows) and it was bl**dy loud! Indeed my ears were still ringing well into Friday, but then again we were very near to Warner's speakers.

Dan and the boys never play a dud show, but this one had less in the 2 hour setlist for me than previous years. That is not a complaint - I love the way the band mix up the set tour after tour and even show after show. What was interesting was the lack of covers thrown into the middle of other songs - for instance this must be the first version of "Sheila" without a break into anything else that I've heard since about 1990! That said, maybe that is the norm for shows outside of London?

"I Love You Period" and "Mon Cherie" saw the audience in fine voice - but I'm now wishing I'd written the setlist down. Anyone out there have it please?

I'll have to pick up my merchandise (new CD and Vinyl) at next week's London show due to a quick dash for the fast London-bound train. A good day.
[of 15 throws, score is MB 1, RB 2 - seems we need 21 to make a game]

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Joanne Shaw Taylor - Monday 26th October - Jazz Cafe, London

Monday evening is never the best for gigs, but an evening with Joanne Shaw Taylor makes for a worthwhile trip to Camden and the Jazz Cafe for an evening of blues. The venue had reliable stage times (Brooklyn Bowl take note!) and we were in place in the back corner of the sold out venue 10 minutes before showtime. And what a good show it was. Joanne's playing was excellent and ably supported by the excellent 2 other members of the three-piece. Slightly unnervingly, 2 people collapsed quite close to us half way through - we think because of the very hot temperature (the air conditioning was turned on shortly afterwards). The young Jazz Cafe staff did a really good job of treating those affected, getting them water and helping them outside - thankfully just about back on their feet. Obviously hope they were OK.

The music came from a selection of JST's back catalogue - the more recent influenced by a recent boyfriend in slightly disparaging terms. As I said, the soloing in particular was great and I'm sure appreciated by the decidedly middle aged crowd. The one thing I would add is that I can't remember any other act I've seen where no-one sings along to any of the songs - I think the emphasis is on the guitar and maybe the lyrics get lost somewhat in the music. A bonus "Ling-alert" point (you'll have to read earlier blogs to see what that is about!) and a good evening was completed by use of the gents in a nearby hostelry followed by a frame of pool against a patron who could barely speak or stand up (I won). Didn't stay long enough to find out if I was being hustled.

Mud, Honey
Outlaw Angel
Wrecking Ball
Tried, Tested & True
Jump That Train
Diamonds In The Dirt
Almost Always Never (acoustic)
Army of One (acoustic)
Watch 'em Burn
Time Has Come
Tied & Bound
Going Home
The Dirty Truth

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Hayseed Dixie - Friday 23rd October - Brooklyn Bowl, O2

So, the main reason for booking for this show was the presence of Rhino's Revenge as main support (ie 2nd of 3 acts). A check beforehand on stage time claimed doors at 7pm and music at 8pm. When we arrived at the venue at just after 8:15 therefore, it would not have been unreasonable to expect to catch the first act, mid-set. However, much to our frustration, we caught the second to last song of Rhino's set! Apparently, he had come on around 7:20! No indication of whether the first act had bailed out, but if a venue is going to publish stage times, they should at least be close to correct! Very frustrating, especially as the band seemed on good form, judging by their "Bad News" finale. We will have to revisit the Edwards clan in February next year instead.

Hayseed Dixie are a southern US group who specialise in "bluegrass" versions of rock classics - think AC/DC, Bon Jovi, Journey etc with acoustic guitars and banjos. The singer seems to have a good stage presence and was entertaining as was the impromptu version of "name that tune" we played with each intro. Good fun and lapped up by the audience. Not sure I'd go to see them again on their own - the "joke" may wear a bit thin (and that is not being disparaging to their musical ability, which was excellent), but as a package with another band I wanted to see, I certainly might.

[Unknown country song]
Hells Bells 
Kirby Hill
You Shook Me All Night Long
War / War Pigs
Hangovers Hurt More Than They Used To
Medley: Eye of the Tiger / Redemption Song / Eye of the Tiger
Don't Stop Believin' / Ohne dich
Medley: In the Backyard / Ramblin' Man / Watching the Detectives / In the Backyard
Ace of Spades 
Eine kleine trinkmusik
Medley: Bohemian Rhapsody / I'm Keeping Your Poop / Bohemian Rhapsody
Schnaps, das war sein letztes Wort
We're Not Gonna Take It 
Corn Liquor
She Was Skinny When I Met Her
The Merchandise Song
Medley: Dueling Banjos / Michelle / Lucky Days / Dueling Banjos 
Die richtige Zeit für Schwarzbier
Medley: Hotel California / Careless Whisper / Hotel California / Holy Diver / Sweet Child O' Mine / Livin' on a Prayer / Don't Talk to Strangers / Eternal Flame / Dancing Queen / ? / Reise reise / ? (Norwegian) / The Rider Song / Hotel California / Comfortably Numb / Highway to Hell / Free Bird / Tiny Dancer / Highway to Hell

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Belinda Carlisle - Saturday 10th October - Indigo2

More Belinda Carlisle, this time at the Indigo2 in London. Decent 4th row seats acquired meant no need to be in the venue especially early, meaning time for a nice meal at the Prospect of Whitby in Wapping and a quick drink in the "rooftop" bar of a restaurant in front of the O2.

As at Brighton, Belinda's audience was mixed - with a predominantly middle aged crowd mixed with some fabulous campness!

She was once again on great form - although it is a shame that the setlist was shorter than many of the recent US shows. "Mad About You" was included which was a highlight and there was much singing throughout from the audience - apart from maybe during "Bonnie & Clyde" which was possibly the only lull in proceedings. 2 really enjoyable shows from the former Go Go's star - let's hope there are more on the horizon. Rumours of some shows with Susanna Hoffs - now that would be great!

Runaway Horses
(We Want) The Same Thing
I Get Weak
Circle in the Sand
In Too Deep 
Bonnie and Clyde
Vision of You
La Luna
Summer Rain
Mad About You
Leave a Light On
Heaven Is a Place on Earth
Big Scary Animal
We Got the Beat
Live Your Life Be Free

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Belinda Carlisle - Saturday 3rd October - Brighton, St George's Church

A new venue for me. It's good to see some working churches being put to addition use within their community and this looked a very pleasant venue whilst the support was on. However, the problem with a non-purpose built venue became apparent as soon as Belinda hit the stage and the audience stood up. She is not exactly a tall lady (particular in the flat shoes she wears for shows) and the "stage" was less than a foot tall. The result meant that no-one beyond the front 5 rows could see a thing. I was half way back and at 6ft 3" could only get a flash of reddish hair occasionally. Everyone was in the same position and so we all did what a typical middle-aged British crowd would do - moved ourselves to somewhere we could see - ie down the front.

The security didn't quite know what to do. On one hand people refused to go back to their seats and one the other, there was absolutely no risk to Belinda or the band. A happy truce was reached where security just tried to keep the aisles clear - with mixed results.

Once we were able to see, the show was great. Belinda looked and sound fabulous and the setlist was full of hits. One other slight disappointment was that whilst she did play one encore, she didn't reappear for the scheduled second one printed on the setlist. I am seeing her again next week in London and really looking forward to it.

Runaway Horses
(We Want) The Same Thing
I Get Weak
Circle in the Sand
In Too Deep
Bonnie and Clyde
Vision of You
La Luna
Summer Rain
Leave a Light On
Heaven Is a Place on Earth
Big Scary Animal
We Got the Beat 
Live Your Life Be Free

Friday, October 02, 2015

Scouting For Girls - Thursday 1st October - Kingston Hippodrome

Having not been to the Kingston nightspot for years, I'm now back for the 2nd time in 2 weeks. This being Freshers Week, I'm even more out of kilter with the average age - strangely no proof of ID for me on the way in.

Still, regular readers will know that I'm a fan of London popsters Scouting For Girls and this show followed a brief acoustic set at Banquet Records which unfortunately I couldn't make.

The venue was quieter than I'd expected, but filled a little by the time the boys came on stage around 10:40. A brief 50 minute set was a pleasant mixture of songs from the soon to be released new CD (included in the bargain £10 entrance fee) and some old classics, including "Elvis Ain't Dead", "Posh Girls" (Ray Stride informs audience member that is is "technically impossible" to be from Portsmouth and be posh) and, of course, "She's So Lovely". Sadly no "James Bond", but the audience gave a brief version themselves as the band left the stage. Great value and a good night as always.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Tom Robinson - Friday 18th September - Queen Elizabeth Hall, South Bank

Having enjoyed Mr Robinson at the SAS band Christmas bash last year, I was looking forward to this show. Refreshingly honest, he was upfront with the audience from the off, saying that all the hits would be played in part one of the show, Part two would be the soon-to-be released new album songs, so come back for that "only if you want to".

Well the first half was really good. I only really know his top 3/4 songs (and I'm the only person in the UK who doesn't know "War Baby" apparently!), but all was good. The stories between songs were entertaining and it's hard to believe Tom is 65 - he has aged remarkably well.

Second half was as promised ("If you've just come in, you've missed 2-4-6-8 Motorway - sorry!") and whilst I'm not convinced I'll rush out and buy the new album, was perfectly fine. Tom mentioned he'd been away for 19 years - please come back soon.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Wheatus - Thursday 17th September, Kingston Hippodrome

It now seems traditional for Wheatus to start any UK tour in Kingston. And for a £5 ticket, I am more than happy to "get down with the kids" at the Student Nightclub! Much emptier than on previous occasions, but no less fun because of it. The band started off with a few songs fronted by guest Mike Doughty (who has an interesting history - look him up on Google)

We got the full debut album plus a few more highlights. And even a Taylor Swift Cover ("Shake It Off") from the backing singers.

Singer (and only original member) Brendan B. Brown engaged well with the crowd and happily tells the crowd the title of each song and the album it's from. Sadly, I didn't write any of that down, so you're on your own for the setlist!

Good fun.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Taylor Swift - Wednesday 26th August - Staples Center, Los Angeles

Taylor Swift & Selena Gomez
Another family presale grab - The last night of Taylor Swift's 5 sell out nights at the impressive Staples Center in LA. I've only been here for sporting events previous, so it was good to hear such clear sound quality even from our position at the back in the gods. Free wristbands were also attached to each seat which provided a controlled light show during the show - very clever.

Support came from Vance Joy (pleasant enough) and Haim who's version of Fleetwood Mac's "Oh Well" was spot on (and very heavy!)

Taylor is promoting her "1989" global mega-album. I've got to say, I don't think it's her best work, but it mainly worked well in a live environment (I think it helped that she's been on "repeat" on the car stereo since we booked). One thing she has instigated during the tour is a run of special guests each night. I think it fair to say being the last night in LA we got the best of the bunch.

Smelly Cat!
First up was Taylor's friend Selena Gomez, duetting on her recent hit, "Good For You". Later, Taylor introduced "a friend who normally only plays coffee houses - Phoebe Buffay!", which led to Lisa Kudrow duetting on the Friend's "classic" - "Smelly Cat" complete with mass audience participation!

Last up was probably a great coup as special guest - Justin Timberlake. The shrieking from the audience was deafening! The show overall was impressive. Musically I preferred the older stuff - "Mean", "Love Story" and the heavier version of "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together". A predictable sing-a-long of "Shake It Off" bought a fab evening to a conclusion. I think Taylor is a great role model for her young fans and I think she'll be enjoying pop mega-stardom for a while yet.

Kids verdict - "Awesome!", "11 out of 10".

Welcome to New York
New Romantics
Blank Space
I Knew You Were Trouble @Info[Remix]
I Wish You Would
How You Get the Girl
I Know Places
Good for You (with Selena Gomez)
Mean [Acoustic]
Love Story [1989 Remix]
Smelly Cat (with Lisa Kudrow)
Mirrors (with Justin Timberlake)
Bad Blood @Info[Remix]
We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together [Rock Version]
Wildest Dreams @Info[contains an element of "Enchanted"]
Out of the Woods
Shake It Off

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Rod Stewart - Saturday 15th August - Colliseum, Caesars Palace, Las Vegas

Las Vegas, Nevada and Rod Stewart is on the second from last night of his residency at Caesars Palace. It would seem rude not to see such a Rock and Roll icon in such surroundings and we had nabbed presale front row balcony seats a few months previously which seemed better value than the large scale arena prices to see Rod in the UK. Caesars must make up for this with their drinks prices - little change from $50 for 2 alcoholic and 2 soft drinks!

One of the things I like about Rod is that he does change the setlist around slightly from show to show. The slight downside of that was we got off to a slow start here. To my ears, "Infatuation" wouldn't squeeze into my top 250 Rod Stewart songs! And a song I do normally like, "Twistin' The Night Away" was a little pedestrian. Thereafter, things improved and it was a great night. You forget that Rod is just about 70, so we can forgive him for the couple of breaks he took during the show, although a lesser kind hearted soul than I could argue that we paid to see him and not his daughter Ruby + partner or the backing singers entertain us as they tried to for 2 songs mid-set.

Revitalised after the breaks, Rod went walking around the audience during "Sweet Little Rock & Roller" and kicked autographed footballs into the crowd during "Stay With Me". One even reached our level - sadly 20 yards or so to our left.

All in all, fantastic fun - even our kids who had been dragged along under duress admitted that it had been "better than expected"! High praise indeed.

Twistin' The Night Away 
(I Know) I'm Losing You 
You Wear It Well
Tonight's the Night (Gonna Be Alright)
Can't Stop Me Now
Rhythm of My Heart
Forever Young
Gasoline Alley
The First Cut Is the Deepest 
Have I Told You Lately
Sweet Little Rock & Roller 
You're in My Heart (The Final Acclaim)
Stay With Me 
Maggie May
Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Answer - Wednesday 29th July - Borderline

The Answer - what to make of them? If you look back at the entries I've made over the years of this blog, you'll get the impression I don't know if they are a great band who are on my essential "to see" list each tour or frustrating in that I can take or leave them. This show unfortunately veered towards the latter for me.

The band have "downsized" for this show to the intimate Borderline - usually one of my favourite venues, but unpleasantly crowded on the floor here. Predictably loud, this could have been a great show - with the ingredients of great vocalist, excellent lead guitar and fine musicianship all round. So why wasn't it? Setlist and songs.

I'm the first to admit I am a casual fan - owning most of their albums, but not all. I also don't know all the songs. However, I would have expected to know at least a few of these. In fact it wasn't until the very end that we got something even close to what would be on anything I'd call their "best of". And the reason for that is the songs. They are almost all forgettable to my ears. I probably have many on CD, but couldn't tell you without looking up the titles. I've said it before, it's a real shame for a band this talented.

Sadly an excellent "Under The Sky" and Cormacs's earlier efforts to rouse the crowd with a bit of wandering could not salvage the evening for me.

I Am What I Am
Demon Eyes
Gone Too Long
Long Live the Renegades
Last Days of Summer
Strange Kinda' Nothing
New Horizon
Raise a Little Hell
Nowhere Freeway
Under the Sky

Sunday, July 26, 2015

T'Pau - Saturday 25th July - Jazz Cafe

Carol Decker
A few weeks on from the acoustic show, here's the full T'Pau show - a rearranged affair at London's Jazz Cafe.

The band were in "rock" mode tonight and a lively (but brief) set appeared to be enjoyed by all present. I do think for £26, the crowd can expect to see a bit more than just over an hour of headline act though. Still, quality beats quantity and this was possible the best of the T'Pau shows I've seen over the last couple of years. Carol's vocals were spot on and the band seemed very up for it this evening.

Picking the best of the new "Pleasure and Pain" album alongside the classics from "Bridge of Spies" plus a view highlights from other albums presented a good mix and I'm very much looking forward to the 2016 tour.

Thank You For Goodbye
Secret Garden
Monkey House
I Will Be With You
Read My Mind
Say You Will
Running Away / Sex Talk
Bridge Of Spies
Heart & Soul
China In Your Hand

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Roxette - Monday 13th July - O2 Arena

A welcome return to the UK for Swedish hitmakers Roxette. The lower half of the O2 Arena was packed (good to see for a Monday night) and we had managed to nab half-decent seats in the 4th Row.

The show started with the slightly dis-concerning sight of Marie Fredriksson being led to her seat on stage, clearly walking with difficulty. Obviously, she has overcome a major illness over recent years and it is fair to say she was shown a lot of love from the crowd. Marie remained seated for the whole show, whilst partner-in-crime Per Gessle took on the more active roles in running around the stage, encouraging the crowd plus amusing band intros.

Vocally, Marie took a little while to hit top gear, but after a few songs the spine-tingling voice that gave us power ballads such as "It Must Have Been Love" & "Listen to Your Heart" was back to it's recognisable self. The musicians in the band were excellent too and some improvised AC/DC guitar licks plus a storming "God Save The Queen" added to the fun.

Per likes to throw plectrums into the crowd during most songs, although it was a shame that whoever was sitting centrally in row 10 must have got pretty much all of them - maybe we was aiming for someone specific!

It is listening to a set such as this you realise what great material Roxette have. I particularly enjoyed "Fading Like A Flower" and "Dangerous". The sing-a-long from the audience suggested I was not alone.

Sleeping in My Car
The Big L.
Spending My Time
Crash! Boom! Bang!
Crush on You
She's Got Nothing On (But the Radio)
The Heart Shaped Sea
Watercolours in the Rain / Paint
Fading Like a Flower (Every Time You Leave)
How Do You Do!
It Must Have Been Love
Dressed for Success / Dangerous
Joyride (with "God Save the Queen" intro)
Listen to Your Heart
The Look

Monday, July 06, 2015

Pete Townshend's Classic Quadrophenia - Sunday 5th July - Royal Albert Hall

So, a bit more Who-related music, this time in the fine setting of the Royal Albert Hall and a box no less, courtesy of a kind colleague of Richard.

The classic Who rock piece has been given an orchestral makeover and score by Rachel Fuller, partner of composer Pete Townshend and was presented here in it's entirety with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Main vocals were supplied by Alfie Boe, ably assisted by Billy Idol, Phil Daniels and Mr Townshend himself, albeit only occasionally.

Now, I wasn't quite sure how this was going to be. On the album, Alfie Boe's vocals are quite a culture shock compared with the Roger Daltrey sound we know so well singing these songs and the mix seems to lack some of the music. Presented here though, it all sounded a better blend of sound and there is not doubt of Mr Boe's vocal talents.

An enthusiastic audience lapped it up - Billy Idol was in good voice and Pete Townshend looked very suave in his tux. We knew he only appeared for a handful of songs, but the crowd reaction when he did paid homage to the event and the material.

So a thumbs up from me - having played the album again at home, it's unlikely to get much of an airing compared to either the original or soundtrack versions, but a good night none the less.

I Am the Sea 
The Real Me
Cut My Hair 
The Punk and the Godfather 
I'm One 
The Dirty Jobs 
Helpless Dancer

Is It in My Head? 
I've Had Enough 
Sea and Sand 
Bell Boy 
Doctor Jimmy 
The Rock 
Love, Reign O'er Me 
The Real Me (with full cast)

Friday, July 03, 2015

T'Pau - Thursday 2nd July - Royal Vauxhall Tavern

T'Pau's first ever acoustic-only show. The venue was the Royal Vauxhall Tavern - one of London's premier gay venues. Maybe not unsurprisingly this was a venue I'd not been to previously - it's not your typical rock club. As 2 straight blokes, we were probably not the standard clientele, but staff were welcoming, bar was good and an excellent view of the stage obtained. Plus what can you say about a hall with 6 glitter balls! An enthusiastic audience lapped up Carol Decker's in between song chit chat - much of which seemed adapted for the venue!

Anyway, she was in good voice, the band on good form and the hour long set was great fun. A surprise cover of the Eagle's "Hotel California" was a highlight and the other songs worked well in a stripped down format.

Looking forward to the full electric show next month.

Secret Garden
Monkey House
Make Love To Me
I Will Be With You
Say You Will
Read My Mind
Demolition Man
Hotel California
Heart & Soul
China In Your Hand

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Who - Friday 26th June - Hyde Park, London

I Can See For Miles. And we needed to.
So, probably my last Who show of the year (4 in a couple of months isn't bad going). An unpleasantly busy Hyde Park and a massive Golden Circle area (£100 + a ticket) meant that even being only 7-8 yards back from the main barrier, we were still at least 130 yards from the stage. Even being near a speaker this meant with Hyde Park's ridiculous noise restrictions the audience could chat or sing easily over the volume of the band - and we are talking The Who here - not some acoustic folk outfit.

It really is not a great environment to see anyone. Earlier, I'd caught the end of the Kaiser Chiefs from about half a mile away - I think they were predicting a riot of some sort, but it was too quiet to be sure. Paul Weller was good, but the reaction to the Jam material (2 songs only) must tell him he needs to include more in a festival set.

The Who, from what we could hear, were good, if not at their devastating best. The fear is that this could be their last ever London show, so it was at least captured for a DVD. The view from the stage must be great, but surely London can find a more appropriate outdoor summertime venue.

Final note on the state of some people leaving the venue. Many were passed out or literally being carried / dragged by friends or family due to over indulgence. Really - what is the point? You can imagine their conversation:-
Q: What did you get up to at the weekend?
A: I went to see the Who - cost me £75 and the same again on beer.
Q: What was it like?
A: No idea.

I call that a Bargain...

I Can't Explain
The Seeker
Who Are You
The Kids Are Alright
Pictures of Lily
I Can See For Miles
My Generation
Behind Blue Eyes
Join Together
You Better You Bet
I'm One
Love, Reign O'er Me
Eminence Front
Amazing Journey
Pinball Wizard
See Me, Feel Me
Baba O'Riley
Won't Get Fooled Again

Thursday, June 25, 2015

ZZ Top / Thunder - Wednesday 24th June - Wembley Arena

Drummer Frank Beard and colleagues
A rare jaunt these days to Wembley - or the SSE Arena as it appears to be branding itself. Whatever they call it, they need to sort out their catering - 20 minute queues to get a beer is not on. Competent staff and a bit of pre-pouring isn't difficult surely!

We were here primarily for Thunder. Having grabbed a decent spot near the front, they entertained with a decent (but short) set of classic hits and new material. All seemed to be well received.

Having moved a bit further back for the headliners, the first 3 or 4 songs were good. Then I thought we hit a bit of a lull. I've seen ZZ Top 4 times previously over the last 25 years and it's always been hit and miss for me - sometimes great, but sometimes a little self indulgent and the songs merge together. Thankfully this time around, the lull was brief and from "My Head's in Mississippi" onwards the show was fantastic. Jeff Beck joined for the encore on his birthday - looking much more youthful than his 71 years and was rightly given an ovation (and some cake!).



Dirty Love
River of Pain
Black Water
Wonder Days
Backstreet Symphony
Love Walked In
The Thing I Want
I Love You More Than Rock 'N' Roll

ZZ Top
Got Me Under Pressure
Waitin' for the Bus
Jesus Just Left Chicago
Gimme All Your Lovin'
I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide
I Gotsta Get Paid
Foxy Lady 
Catfish Blues 
Cheap Sunglasses
My Head's in Mississippi
Sharp Dressed Man
Rough Boy (with Jeff Beck)
Sixteen Tons (with Jeff Beck)
La Grange / Sloppy Drunk Jam (with Jeff Beck)
Tush (with Jeff Beck)

Monday, June 08, 2015

Spike's Free House - Sunday 7th June - Borderline

Luke Morley & Spike Gray
Spike from the Quireboys is a big fan of Frankie Miller and 70's legends Free. This show was designed to showcase the material of both the Scottish Rocker and Free. Andy Fraser - Free's bass player was due to be in the band, but his untimely passing a few months ago turned this into a fitting tribute to his music as well.

Spike had assembled a first class band - featuring members from many of my favourites - Luke Morley (Thunder), Mark Stanway (Magnum), Simon Kirke (Free) and Nick Malling (Quireboys). Spike was full of his normal summer spirit and entertained the crowd between songs with a few comments. The music was King here though and an entertaining set was of the highest quality. It would have been great to have been a little longer, but I guess if the aim was to send the crowd home wanting more then it was mission accomplished.

There did seem to be a few people under the influence (indeed there was an unpleasant smell of vomit in the venue) and a few female audience members barely able to stand. Shame they won't remember much of this. Finally, 1 point scored for a Ling-alert!

Be Good To Yourself
Wishing Well
My Brother Jake
A Bottle Of Whisky
Intensive Care
Mr Big
The Other Side Of Town
Living In A Cheap Hotel
The Hunter
Cold Cold Nights
The Brooklyn Bridge
All Right Now

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Scouting For Girls - Saturday 23rd May - Leestock

A longer-than-anticipated family trip to deepest Suffolk for the 2015 Leestock festival. We were attending primarily to see "Scouting For Girls", but we were in time to add another chart act to our list by seeing "Dodgy" as well. Earlier bands in the day were mainly of the local variety and with children in tow, we thought that attention spans may be tested too far with lots of unknown music.

Dodgy were OK - they saved their 2 hits until the end, which got people up on their feet. Their drummer added a bit of chat between songs, some of which wasn't entirely appropriate for the youngsters in the crowd.

Scouting for Girls were excellent - choosing a festival friendly set of hits (largely from their excellent first album) and a couple of choice covers - "Live and Let Die" and a surprise of "Livin' On A Prayer" in the encore. The set was only just over an hour which was a shame, but from the crowd reaction, everyone seemed happy. A swift exit during the last song ensured we were out of the car park and on the long journey home just before 11pm.

Read all about the Leestock festival here.

Setlist (Approximate only!)
[new song]
Posh Girls
I Wish I Was James Bond
Live and Let Die 
Elvis Ain't Dead
Keep on Walking

Livin' On A Prayer
Michaela Strachan (short version)
She's So Lovely

If anyone can give the actual setlist then that would be appreciated!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Johnny Warman - Monday18th May - Bull's Head, Barnes

This "Total Who Show" to celebrate 50 years of the Who was billed as "unplugged". The venue is the rear stable-type room at the rear of the excellent Bull's Head in Barnes. When seated, the capacity looks to be less than a hundred and the usual Monday evening events are of the blues and jazz variety.

The evening started with a young female singer - songwriter (sorry I can't remember her name) who, armed with an acoustic guitar, sang some of her own material interspersed with some covers including a very nice version of Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time". All very pleasant.

Caught out by the very quick turn-a-round, I was at the bar when the band opened with Baba O'Riley. Acoustic it was not. Returning to our front table seat, we then enjoyed 100 odd minutes of classic, ear shattering versions of Who classics. Phil Spalding was guesting on lead guitar and his effortless playing was spot on. Bass, Drum & Keyboard duties were more than competently filled too and Johnny Warman's usual excellence enthralled the small crowd, some of whom politely heckled about "when is the unplugged bit?".

Actually, that does raise a semi-serious point. I was looking forward to hearing the Who songs in an acoustic setting and had bought tickets and travel on that basis. I really enjoyed the evening as it was played, but what if I hadn't? The show had been especially billed to highlight the unplugged aspect.

Anyway, a moot point for me as it was excellent anyway. I shall be back for more - with volume or without.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Elio Pace - Thursday 7th May - Epsom Playhouse

Having seen Elio previously in Sutton, we knew that Richard would enjoy his "Billy Joel Songbook" show and dragged him along to this. The show is a fine run-though of classic Billy Joel material, interspersed with stories about the songs and the musical make up of them. The band had changed a bit since our last viewing, but provided excellent backing to Elio's piano skills and fine voice.

We had decent seats and the only disappointment was that the venue wasn't fuller. Maybe the fact it was Election Night put people off?

If you are a fan of the Piano Man, you should do yourself a favour and check this out in a theatre near you.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Status Quo - Thursday 30th April - Royal Albert Hall

Back for more Quo? Why? Well one, I know it'll be good and two, there were some amazingly good tickets came online well after the front blocks had sold out.

We'd always wondered what it would be like to be in the 2 seats at the front row of the stalls, next to the stage. Well the answer is that you are effectively on the stage and almost feel part of the band. And for an acoustic show like this there are no sound issues either.

You won't be surprised to know that the setlist was the same as on Sunday, but the band seemed quite relaxed - I think they are getting used to playing the material in this way.

My personal highlights in this format are Rock 'n' Roll, All The Reasons, Reason For Livin' and the brilliant Nanana.

And It's Better Now
Break the Rules
Again and Again
Paper Plane
Mystery Song / Little Lady
Rock 'n' Roll
What You're Proposing
Softer Ride
Down Down
Pictures of Matchstick Men
Down the Dustpipe
All the Reasons
Reason for Living
Rollin' Home
Don't Drive My Car
Marguerita Time
Whatever You Want
Rockin' All Over the World
Rock 'til You Drop
Burning Bridges (On and Off and on Again)