Donovan – RNCM 17th October 2015

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It had been a while since I’d been to see Donovan, and somehow the 50th Anniversary tour seemed to be the right time to go and see him again.

Sat cross-legged on a small stage with Kelly, his guitar, Donovan took us all on a trip back through his career. The first half included some more obscure early stuff, but he assured everyone that they were never more than a song or two away from something that they would know.

Purely acoustic until the final number, the set list was full of delights interspersed with tales from the past, all told with fondness and amusement at his own antics.

The show ended with Mellow Yellow, but instead of playing the song on the guitar the single was piped through the sound system while he sang along. There was a meet and greet afterwards, which gig buddy Alix stayed for, but I chose to skip out and head home.

Donovan RNCM October 2015

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Rick Wakeman – Lancaster Priory 16th October 2015

I have fallen a little behind with things, the next couple of posts are a bit of a catch-up.

In October, I went off to see Rick Wakeman with my gig buddy Phil. The concert was in Lancaster Priory and was the first of what they hope will be several Prog at the Priory gigs.

Gordon Giltrap was the warm-up for the main show. I’d never seen him before, I loved his set and sense of humour.

The Wakeman section of the evening was  a bit different to usual. Most of the regular favourites were there, including the Nursery Rhyme Concerto (I think this was only the second time I have heard it live), but due to the Priory Choir being part of the show we got a bit more 1984 stuff. The soloist also featured on Amazing Grace and The Meeting.

Lovely setting, fine show and Rick got his hands on the church organ for Jane Seymour, excellent stuff.

Rick Wakeman Lancaster Priory October 2015

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Crosby Stills and Nash – Manchester 21st September 2015

21612526311_8cd9e4a755_zVenue – Bridgewater Hall, Manchester
Gig Buddies – Stephen and Phil
Gig Booty – None, I’m still skint from my last gig!

I don’t think I’ve been let down by a CSN live show since the first time I saw them in 1992. Last night was no exception (once the sound settled down after the first song sounding like we were in an empty warehouse). First thought as they walked on stage was how great Croz is currently looking. This makes me happy as he makes such lovely music and I want him to carry on for a good while yet.

I went to this gig, tired and achy and wondering if I’d make it the end but I needn’t have worried, these guys have the power to lift me right up and by the end of the gig I was buzzing from the show.

So many great moments, but I’ve picked out a few highlights –

– I love Southern Cross so getting to hear it live is always a bonus.

– Graham dedicated Our House to the youngest member of the audience, who was seven.

– There was a good helping of newer stuff from everyone. I particularly enjoyed the Stephen Stills offering Virtual World.

– Almost Cut My Hair was epic, as usual.

– The nod to George Harrison in Suite: Judy Blue Eyes at the end. (Stills plays a bit of With In You With Out You)

Some of the audience took a while to warm up, but others were very enthusiastic. I think the two girls dancing on the front row were sat near me last time I saw them at the Manchester Arena.

I’ll leave you with some pictures.

CSN Manchester Sept 2015

 

Crosby, Stills & Nash Setlist The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, England, World Tour 2015

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King Crimson – Salford 11th September

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21313955272_725a9894be_zVenue – The Lowry, Salford
Gig Buddies – None.
Gig Booty – Two shirts, a tour book (with two CDs) and a badge set.

I still feel like I’m struggling to find the right words to describe the experience but here goes –

I’ll be honest, it had never crossed my mind that I’d have a chance to seen Crimson – I’m reconciled with the fact that a lot of the people I like are either retired or no longer with us – so when it was announced that a new incarnation of the band was to play my home city how could I not leap at the chance? (And my actual home city, not Manchester for a change!)

The Lowry is very plush and purple inside and, at least from the perspective of being seated downstairs, it feels very intimate. I was at the side of the auditorium, a handful of rows from the back and it was still a good view. At this point I am compelled to point out how fab the audience was around me. The gentleman who ended up sat in front of me was pretty tall and he actually took the time to ask if he was obscuring my view too much and tried to sit as low as he comfortably could. I can’t recall that ever happening at a gig before, at least not with someone I didn’t know. (Tall friends at standing gigs usually let me stand in front of them)

Back to the gig – the stage set up was a tad different to most gigs. The three drummers were lined up on the front of the stage and rest of the ensemble was on a riser along the back, including Robert Fripp who spent the whole gig perched on a little chair appearing almost oblivious to the fact there was an audience most of the time.

At a lot of gigs, three drummers would have been overwhelming, especially in a small venue like this, but the sound was stunning in both the emotional and technical sense. The interplay of the percussion was fascinating to watch.

The audience around me took it all in with not much more than an intake of breath at the recognition of a favourite track or an excited hiss of quick whispers during the applause. Mesmerising is the word I keep coming back to about the experience. The was no idle chatter from the stage, no faux banter, just the music.

A friendly announcement at the beginning politely requested that technology be put away for the duration, and largely it was. There was a small flurry of attempts to grab a quick snap on mobiles while the band took their applause at the end of the night but other than that the wishes of the band were mostly respected.

A more than satisfactory setlist, a truly astonishing performance and a very appreciative audience made the whole thing my favourite gig of the year so far.

King Crimson Setlist The Lowry, Manchester, England 2015, The Elements of King Crimson

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Elvis Costello – Liverpool 15th June 2015

2015-06-16 08.54.40-tiltshiftVenue – Liverpool Philharmonic Hall
Gig Buddies – Stephen and Ellie
Gig Booty – none, though I was tempted by guitar picks.

The ticket said no support, but there was indeed a support band in the form of Larkin Poe. I didn’t see their support slot as I was waiting with Ellie’s ticket to get in. However, they did come back on stage later to join Elvis for a few songs.

I love seeing Costello. I’ve never been disappointed by a gig. A quick count up reckons that I’ve seen him around eight times now, possibly nine.

Armed with a series of guitars, a piano, a fantastically dressed stage set, and an occasionally used loop pedal we were treated to a career-spanning set list. I’m sure I’ve expounded on the subject before so here’s some photos and the set lists (both the one from the tech desk showing the song choices available and one from setlist.fm showing which ones were performed.)

Elvis Costello 2015 (edited pics)

Click the arrows to browse images.

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Elvis Costello Setlist Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool, England 2015, Detour

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“You better duck down the alley way”

The day after seeing the Bonzos was spent sight-seeing in London and one of the places that Ellie took me to was the location for the Bob Dylan video “Subterranean Homesick Blues”

It was filmed behind the Savoy Hotel on a tiny street named Savoy Steps, just off Savoy Hill Road.
It was too good a photo opportunity to miss, even if all I had was a notebook rather than cue cards.
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50th Anniversary of The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band – 17th April 2015

Venue – Koko, Camden, London.
Gig Buddies – Ellie, Neville, Carol-Anne, Tony and Graeme.
Gig Booty – 50th Anniversary Tshirt
I loved the 40th Anniversary Bonzos concerts and felt a little sad that I couldn’t get to the last Three Bonzos and Piano show in Milton Keynes last December, so when a Bonzos 50th Anniversary shindig was announced for Camden with the The Rutles as support and the date was doable, how could I not go?!

The tickets were purchased, travel plans hatched, accommodation acquired and as an added bonus a few extra buddies let me know they were going along too! Let The Good Times Roll indeed!

camerancollage2015_04_23_104147A leisurely train ride from Liverpool and a reasonably simple journey to our Travelodge in Vauxhall meant Ellie and I weren’t particularly rushed or harassed upon our arrival at Mornington Crescent tube station.

One photo opportunity later we were in the Lyttelton Arms and had already stumbled across our first pal of the evening, the lovely Neville and his friend Nick. Carol-Anne and Tony joined us just before it was time to wander across to Koko and there was even a brief encounter with Ellie’s friend Jayne who was en route to see Ray Davies. It was quite the social whirlwind.

Once inside Koko I managed to find my smashing online chum Graeme and his brother for a brief hello before taking up our position for the show I have known Graeme for several years via various social media but this was the first we’d actually met.

The Koko is a lovely looking venue and considering this was at reasonably short notice for getting everyone together they did a good job with the staging of the show, however it wasn’t really the right kind of venue for either the act or the audience. The Bonzos bits were extremely visual which is a bit of a bugger when you can’t see much in an all standing venue. Plus there were times that the band were seated resulting in the audience seeing even less.

The Rutles, well two of them, Ron and Barry, entertained the thronging crowd with a mixture of
material from both the original soundtrack album and the slightly more recent Archaeology release. There was a memorable drum solo from Mr Wom, which I am still giggling about, and he also got to show off his newspaper tearing skills. There was dancing and singing along a-plenty from our merry band of Rutlemaniacs!

Instead of thinning out a little in the break the audience became more compact and squished as we waited for the Bonzos. I had hoped to chat a bit more to Graeme but there was no room to move around us. I hadn’t expected such a crush for this gig at all.

The Bonzos, sans Innes for this bit, launched in Jollity Farm with gusto and then led us through some of their more anarchic numbers aided by Legs “Larry” Smith and punctuated with pieces by a street theatre outfit called Desperate Men. As I said, much of this was very visual so from our point of view most of those around us were unaware of the ventriloquist shenanigans during Little Sir Echo or the fact that at the end of Falling In Love Again Vernon Dudley Bohey-Nowell was giving it some welly on a musical saw solo. I knew because I remembered those bits from the 40th Anniversary shows.

Losing the visual context really did affect things but it was still a tonne of fun. I was particularly amused near the end of this section when Legs appeared resplendent in a turban decorated with an ornate peacock pin (yes I couldn’t see very well, but I do have a very good zoom on my camera) and began to sing I’m The Turban Spaceman before being warned by the others to stop as the composer was in the building! Ending with a gorgeously shambolic Sheik of Araby, Roger promised that some of them would be back shortly with Neil.

Before the next segment of the show we were treated to a showing of an art school film by Neil Innes, a silent movie featuring Roger Ruskin Spear and the much missed Vivian Stanshall. Fascinating to see and a nice way to include Viv in the evening’s proceedings.

The second slice of The Bonzos was a slightly less chaotic affair featuring Neil, Roger and Michael Livesley who has been doing the Rawlinson End stuff. A lot of this bit seemed to involved most people on stage being sat down so once again not much of a chance of seeing anything. There was a belting version of My Pink Half Of The Drainpipe and a rousing rendition of The Equestrian Statue, but it was Urban Spaceman that, unsurprisingly, received the loudest reception of the evening. The b-side of that single rounded off the show, including a divine belch from Roger before The Intro and The Outro was used to let us know just who had been entertaining us all night.

Before we escaped out into the night the whole ensemble turned their backs on us while they were photographed with the sold out venue in the background. It was only when I saw some of those photos later that I realised there was a couple of packed out balconies above us!

It really was the end now and time to head out. Saying good-bye to everyone outside Koko, the plan was to head straight back to the hotel but upon discovering that Graeme was near by, we stopped off to say goodbye and grab a photo of me and him on the memorable occasion of our first meeting. He said lovely things about this blog too, must have been the drink!

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Huge thanks to Neville Stannard for the set lists.

A full set of my photos from the evening can be found here on flickr.

 

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CD Review – In Animal Character by Bruise

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I received this CD around Christmas time but have only just been able to give it the time it deserves.

On their social network sites Bruise describe themselves as Nu Folk (facebook) and Progressive Folk (twitter), but my only labels for them are Jim and Isobel who I have known now for several years. (Which is my way of declaring a little bit of bias.)

I was enchanted from the opening track by the vocals, the arrangements, instrumentation, the melodies. Seriously, I know it sounds like I’m just gushing, and to be honest, I am. The songs already feel like old friends as I play it through for the second time. The opening track, Dreamland, is the kind of tune that is going to lodge itself into my subconscious and echo around in there at random moments for quite some time. And as I listened to the second track, I Am A Dancer, I was already recommending the album to family members! My Favourite Hurricane sounds brilliant played loud through my headphones, and even as I pick out tracks for comment I feel I shouldn’t be leaving the other tracks out.

You can buy In Animal Character here direct from the band via Amazon, or if you prefer the instant gratification of a download you can get one by clicking here.

And don’t just take my word for it about this album, check out these tweets from Gordon Giltrap.

giltrap

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Asia – 29th October 2014 – RNCM Manchester

2014-10-29 20.31.08-2Venue – Royal Northern College of Music
Gig Buddy – Emma
Gig Booty – A pre-signed photo.PhotoGrid_1414845566059-2

First of all I’d like to say how much I love this venue. It has an
intimate feel, comfortable seats and even a cafe for pre-gig food. (In fact Geoff Downes was chatting to some friends on the table next to ours in the cafe before the gig and my gig buddy didn’t notice.)

There was no support band and Asia took to the stage around about 8 o’clock launching directly into Sole Survivor. The set, which included a short intermission of about 15 minutes, was liberally peppered with hits as well as a few more recent tracks from the new album Gravitas and from the previous album XXX which held their own amongst the classics.

Stage chat was amiable and minimal leaving the songs to do the talking. New boy Sam Coulson acquitted himself very well with only one small mention of his youthfulness.

It was all over by about 10.15 and we all disappeared off into the night to make our way home feeling fully musically sated.

Asia - Manchester October 2014

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Neil Young – Liverpool Arena 13th July 2014

Screenshot 2014-07-18 at 22.40.31 - Edited  The list of people I am willing to go and see at the Arena in Liverpool is a short one. It’s one of my least favourite venues ever. However when Neil Young comes to town and brings Crazy Horse with him you just have to go along.

As you can see from the set list there was a good range of stuff. I was particularly pleased that I got to hear Psychedelic Pill live as I love that track. The cacophonous
sounds through the electric bits were something to behold. They vibrated throughout your entire body as guitar licks were traded.

The acoustic bit included a Dylan cover, as featured on Screenshot 2014-07-18 at 22.38.15 - Editedthe latest album from Neil, as well as Heart Of Gold which was obviously a crowd pleaser. (Well at least everyone seemed to know that one)

Actually there was certainly more back catalogue stuff in the set than I was expecting, though apparently not enough hits to appease some critics.

Screenshot 2014-07-18 at 22.36.43 - EditedThe finale of an amazing, way out there jam of Like A Hurricane was marred slightly from my point of view by the bloke in front of me lighting up a cigarette (could have even been a joint) and when security arrived trying to fight them off before being escorted off the premises. Anyway, once him and equally drunk/high girlfriend were gone there was a chance to properly enjoy the creative, buzzing mess of a ending. Strings were snapped and minds were blown. I loved it! I was particular amused when I was leaving and over heard a local fan declare “he was alright till he started f***ing about at the end” – but that was the best bit!

Neil sounded great, and looked like he was having a great time on stage, and it was awesome to finally see him with Crazy Horse.

(Screen grabs courtesy of whichway)

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