Sunday, 27 November 2011

Carl Palmer - Manchester Club Academy 26th November 2011.

Last time I was at the Academy the security couldn't be more helpful, however on this occasion they seemed to have very little patience and as I arrived at the venue had just turfed everyone out into the cold to queue up for half an hour. Not sure why the union bar wasn't open but it would have made a few bob before everyone went in. Then when we did get in we were left milling for a second not knowing which bit we were going to, which seemed to annoy the security people. Some actually signs to the different sections would be really handy you know!

Venue griping aside this was a really entertaining night. Me and gig buddy had a pint or two and browsed the merch stall before the show began. The merch seemed really reasonably priced. I forked out a mere £30 and came away with a t-shirt, a signed drum head and a pair of drumsticks.

The venue wasn't packed which made it possible to get a good way down towards the action. I'm usually slightly shorter that the rest of the audience so I'm used to a limited view at standing gigs.  Nobody pushed and nobody shoved, it was quite lovely.

Opening with the familiar "Welcome Back" section from Karn Evil  9 the set list moved through a selection of well known ELP pieces. The sound from trio was tremendous. Closing your eyes you would have been hard pushed to believe there was only a guitarist, bassist and drummer on that stage.  Paul Bielatowicz made some amazing sounds on his guitar, pulling the best "rock guitar" faces I've seen in a long time. And bass player  Simon Fitzpatrick was also superb, particularly during his bass solo bookended by "Take A Pebble"

Carl Palmer, as you would expect, was faultless on drums, and percussion and big old gongs! He really looked like he was having a ball up there on stage.

The tour is to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Pictures At An Exhibition. The band did their own version of the piece, which although obviously not exact (there is no keyboard player or vocalist) was an excellent piece of work of itself.

We didn't stick around to meet Carl afterwards, instead it was out into the chill November air to head home after a thoroughly entertaining night out.

With thanks to Paul Dean for the photos of the set list and my gig booty!

Monday, 14 November 2011

Yes - Manchester Apollo 13th November 2011

I just checked the date that the tickets for this show were purchased - 15th December! I think 11 months is probably the longest I have waited for a Christmas gift. Still, as far as I'm concerned it was worth the wait.

This was my second Yes concert. Both have featured "new boy" Benoit David.  First time it felt like he was trying to fill a Jon Anderson shaped hole, but this time was different - backed with a huge chunk of new material he appeared more confident and like he was trying to win the audience over.

The set list featured four tracks from the new album including the epic Fly From Here which I will come back to later.

The first new track bought about a minor evacuation to the toilets (I've seen this before at gigs, and they all end up running back to their seats because it's nearly always a popular one that follows a new one) which is a shame as that was the point that the whole thing really hit its stride.

On the whole I found the new material to be the real stand out moments in the set. Not that the rest was bad, far from it, but I just felt the new stuff was somewhat better.

Fly From Here was was captivating from beginning to end. So much so that you really didn't seem to notice how long the whole thing was. By the end I felt breathless from the drama of it all rather than exhausted from the length.

Throughout the concert I became quite enthralled by the choreography involved with Steve Howe's guitars.  The tech had the moves down to a fine art, moving the right instrument into place at the right time.

Let's get down to the highlights shall we - all personal opinion of course!

  • Second song in was Tempus Fugit. It's one of my favourites and it was pretty damn cool to get to see Geoff Downes playing on a track from the Drama album. (In fact the only downside of the gig was the we got Heart Of The Sunrise rather than Machine Messiah, not that Heart of The Sunrise was shabby in anyway.)
  • The afore mentioned Fly From Here, with added bonus points for a video guest appearance by Trevor Horn on the accompanying footage projected onto the screen behind the band. 
  • Into the Storm - another one off the new album which easily slotted into the set among the better known songs.
  • Geoff Downes on keytar. There was already a plethora of keyboards on stage, that's never enough right, so he strapped one across his chest. Made my day! 

The set list was fleshed out with plenty of classics tunes that wouldn't go amiss on a Best Of compilation, including Starship Trooper which is another personal favourite if you haven't gathered that from the name of this music blog.

After the obligatory encore of Roundabout it was off out into the night, clutching my new band  shirts, to get the coach back to Liverpool ready for work the next day. Both the to and from bus journeys on Monday featured Yes on the mp3 player.

Many thanks to Stephen for taking the photographs and letting me use them.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Five Songs (a recurring meme)

This is a recurring blog thing that does the rounds every now and again. Basically you list five songs that currently seem to inhabit your ear space. They don't have to be your favourite songs or even by your favourite artists. They are simply songs that currently rock your world, or have special meaning, attached to recent events or just persistant earworms thatplay in your head at inopportune moments.

Here's mine! If you do your own let me know where you've posted it so I can go and have a look.

Johnny And The Monorail - The Buggles
This is probably my favourite track on the album The Age Of Plastic. I like the simplistic line "oh my my you are so sci fi" because everything sci fi back then had a monorail! ;-)

And You And I (Alternate Version) - Yes
Available as a bonus track on the CD of Close To The Edge, this version never fails to send shivers of sheer joy down my spine. I can't quite put my finger on how it does it, but I'm glad it does.

Blinded By The Light - Manfred Man's Earth Band
A fairly simple song elevated to loftier proportions by the arrangement. It features of lots of my travel playlists.
Ballad Of Bilbo Baggins - Leonard Nimoy
A cash in on the popularity of Tolkien? It's about as Un-Spock as you can get and I quite like it, however it would be nice if it didn't burrow into my head quite so often!

Nightbus - Matt Stevens
The first track on the latest release from Matt Stevens grabs you straight away. To me it sounds like a modern reworking of a long lost classic TV show theme probably involving spies and pithy comments. Check out Matt's music at

Full credit goes to Tim at Where Worlds Collide who usually starts off the wave of Five Songs posts, I hope he doesn't mind me going first this time. My past Five Songs posts can be found in the archive at my music blog
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