Thursday, 22 November 2012
To say I was looking forward to this concert would have been a big understatement. It was one of the first of my 40th birthday gifts to be bought and one of the last I got to experience. (Thank you Stephen!)
The evening began with a quick blast of Kanye West’s track Power which features a sample of King Crimson’s 21st Century Schizoid Man. This obviously led into it being the opening song from Mr Lake himself.
This show was very much a solo performance with Greg playing along with a pre-recorded backing track. It’s impossible to recreate these songs alone on stage so this was a reasonable solution which also allowed the concert to retain a very intimate feeling.
Stories were shared about each song including a fabulous tale of seeing Elvis in the 70s which led into an impassioned rendition of Heartbreak Hotel.
For me the highlight of the first half was a rather lovely version of the King Crimson track I Talk To The Wind which was then followed by a singalong version of The Beatles’ Hide Your Love Away that took us to the break.
Part two brought us a couple of ELP classics including Still You Turn Me On which I’m more than a little partial too, before Greg took on the Q&A portion of the evening. I don’t think any of the questions stumped him very much and all led to great tales about various aspects of his career. In the middle of this bit we got an acoustic rendition of I Believe In Father Christmas. I’m a sucker for a good Christmas tune and this is one of my favourites.
Other highlights of the second half included the sublime C’est La Vie and the inevitable, but still fab, Lucky Man before Greg took to the keyboard to close the main part of the show with a cover of People Get Ready.
The encore made full use of the haze and onstage lightning rig with we were treated to Karn Evil 9 1st Impression Part 2 to end the evening on a fairly triumphant high for the audience before we all disappeared out into the night for our various transport home.
Click here for flickr set of photos from the evening.
Saturday, 10 November 2012
It’s taken me a while to pen this review. I think I wanted to continue to just revel in the moment and not get too over analytical about it. After all I never thought I’d ever get to see a Nez solo show, let alone one in my home town.
So right now the concert is, in my mind, in a weird place in time. I know it was only just under two weeks ago, but it’s already hurtling far into the past as I try to hang on to it all in my memory.
Before I list my own personal highlights I feel compelled to comment on the amount of technology on the stage. It was interesting to see computers and ipads in use in a concert context. I was intrigued as to what was sampled, pre-recorded and played there and then. I know there was a few people who have found this not to their taste but I have to say that I didn’t really mind at all. Maybe it is because I am used to electronic sounds, loops, samples and keyboards that sound like lush strings or stinging brass rather than just plinking out a tune. I will concede that the percussion track occasionally felt intrusive but only occasionally, and I was putting that down to the fact that I was on the front row and that’s not exactly the best position for sound at concerts. Other than that the stage sound was really well mixed and produced.
Something that did strike me with all the tech on stage was that the musicians all had proper music stands with proper paper sheet music on it, which added to the feeling that was an evolution in performance methods rather than a revolution.
On the way back from the gig I posted to facebook that “He had me at Propinquity.” This wasn’t strictly true, but it sounded good and I like the word Propinquity. He had me from the opening number. Papa Gene’s Blues was a regular tune on the playlists I would create to accompany the editing and printing processes of my now defunct 60s fanzine, Brand X. It was one of a brace of Monkees tunes we got that night, the other being Tapioca Tundra.
I said I’d list my personal highlights didn’t I? I don’t think I can. It was all a highlight! I liked the idea that we were given a scenario to envision as each of the songs were played. I had avoided looking at set lists for the pervious two gigs but could work out what song we were about to get from these little scene setters in most cases.
It was lovely to be reacquainted with songs I hadn’t heard for a long time, such as Casablanca Moonlight and the trio of songs selected from The Prison, as well as getting to hear familiars friends like Grand Ennui, Tomorrow and Me and Laugh Kills Lonesome.
The encore of Thanx For The Ride included a sample of the late Red Rhodes on the Hawaiian pedal steel guitar, which was a rather nice touch.
As with any concert by an artist with an extensive back catalogue there’s a plethora of tunes that could have been on the set list, but the selection we got was more than satisfying, besides there are a few tunes that would have simply reduced me to a small emotional mess – *cough* Wax Minute *cough*
Thursday, 25 October 2012
This CD should come with a warning sticker, the consistent string of hooks and powerpop stylings could easily overwhelm an amateur listener. Thankfully after a decade of attending International Pop Overthrow Liverpool I am able to listen to it in one sitting and come out the other side a little breathless but relatively unscathed. You really do have little time to catch your breath before being plunged into another aural adventure.
Any of the ten tracks could be held up as an example of how to craft a 3 minute pop song that, although brand new to the listener, already feels like an old friend. The Popdogs blend hints of classic REM with the ringing guitar sounds often found in 60s instrumentals for example the guitar on Wake You Baby wouldn’t be out of place on a Tornadoes track. The instrumental track Mild Mannered J is very Joe Meek in style, with a liberal smattering of Dick Dale and sounds like some lost classic that you find cropping up on Tarantino movie soundtracks.
Play it on the way to work on a rainy Monday to make it feel like a Friday afternoon in summertime.
Sunday, 7 October 2012
Saturday, 30 June 2012
The power of social media first brought this project to my attention. The first track on the album, Freeway, was posted on Soundcloud and a link to it was posted on the Trevor Horn facebook page. As soon as I heard the track I couldn’t wait for the album to be released.
As you would expect the album is perfectly produced and mixed. Just as you are thinking that a track could with a little “something” right there….there it is!
The opening track is full of driving pop riffs and is instantly catchy. Some of the other tracks need a little time to grow but as far as I’m concerned there isn’t a dud amongst them.
For me, the highlights (apart from Freeway) are Every Single Night In Jamaica, which sounds like a lost Buggles song in places, Stay Elaine, a very catchy little acoustic tune, Garden of Flowers (see soundcloud link below), and Watching You Out There.
I already know that this album will soundtrack several bus journeys to work, particularly on grey Mondays when I need a little musical sunshine.
But wait – there’s more! I bought the deluxe version which comes with a second disc. Two of the five tracks don’t feature on the main CD, and the other three are extended/alternate versions. And if you stay tuned after the Extended version of Freeway there’s a “hidden” track in the form of a live version of them playing the backing track to the Frankie Goes The Hollywood hit, Two Tribes. It was worth getting the deluxe version for that bass riff alone. The version on the CD is fully plugged but here’s an acoustic rendition from youtube.
If you like well produced, well written, well played pop tunes you’ll get a kick out of this album.
Saturday, 19 May 2012
Friday, 18 May 2012
Silent Girlfriend, Stop Your Crying and Lonesome Cowboy.
Richard Snow and the In Laws always make pleasing noises. Tonight even with technical and hearing difficulties the joyous sound of the Rickenbacker resounded in the Cavern Pub. Some would say it was Beatle-esque but I find it erring more towards the Byrds, The Searchers and The Rutles.
The Pub set was shortened due to the afore mentioned technical difficulties, but it was fab as always. I enjoyed it all but special mentions for Silent Girlfriend, Middle Class Girl and Am I Really That Boring?
Wednesday, 16 May 2012
Tuesday, 15 May 2012
Cavern Front Stage.
Having a slow start to IPO, I need a bit of a long run up to the longer stints these days. So after a pub tea, Donna and I trundled off down the Cavern to see The Dockers.
This trio owe a lot to classic rock bands like Boston and Survivor in their riffs and hooks but blend It with interesting harmonies and scouse wit. The songs were catchy enough for a couple of people to get up and dance along to!
A fine start.
The show opened with a blistering collection of tunes fired off one after the other, sadly it was the last of these when the sound finally settled in and stopped it from sounding like everyone was playing in an aircraft hanger.
From here on in the idea was that the show was technically in the lap of the gods, or at least the hands of the willing victims who took to the stage to spin the wheel of songs. However there was a wee bit of cheating, but when the cheating means you get Shipbuilding nobody really cares that much.
Perhaps this a good place to point out the odd juxtaposition of the showbiz glitz of the show with it's glamour girls and gogo cage with the seriousness of some of the songs presented on the night. Odd, but it worked.
Even with the wheel format there was always going to be a liberally smattering of hits. The set list was never going to disappoint.
Ian Prowse from the band Amsterdam took to the stage as Tiny Steps morphed into Ferry 'Cross The Mersey, and he was back for the grande finale of What's So Funny About Peace Love and Understanding.
The outstanding and abiding moment of the gig, however, was Tramp The Dirt Down, listened to in silence and followed by rapturous applause. An unsurprising reaction from a Liverpool audience.
I have come to expect a good performance at Elvis Costello gigs and I wasn't let down. Plus extra points are awarded for there being a theremin on stage!
With thanks to Stephen Bailey for the use of some of his photographs.
Tokyo Storm Warning
Pump It Up & What's So Funny About Peace Love And Understanding (with Ian Prowse)
Sunday, 13 May 2012
I confess to not knowing very much about Jethro Tull or the albums but I loved the show. It could easily have been performed with a bucket load of pomp and posturing but instead it was all gloriously tongue in cheek and performed with great humour.
Sunday, 29 April 2012
I try not to go into gigs with any expectations but for this concert I expected a thoroughly professional show. This was from experience, and I wasn’t disappointed.
Sadly we were short one brother for the show as Wayne had a stroke before the tour began and the doctors wouldn’t let him fly over. Even with a man down the show must go on and the delivered song after song of classics with a few tracks for their new CD thrown in for good measure.
The second they hit the stage the first few rows moved forward. I moved to let others on my row past to get to the stage but I was quite happy where I was especially as I had a good view and plenty of room to dance.
I admit to singing along to everything but the new stuff. We won’t talk about how loudly I sang along to Long Haired Lover From Liverpool, but it does loom large in my music related legend.
The band have a media created image of simply being a schmaltzy boy band, so some more casual bystanders may have been surprised by how many songs were upbeat and more in the vein of Crazy Horses than Love Me For A Reason, there was even a rock drum solo from brother Jay.
These guys have been entertaining since birth, or at least that’s how it seems, and they are extremely good at what they do. This was their farewell tour as The Osmond Brothers, but I suspect there’s a bit more to come from the individual brothers.
Video playlist of five tracks from the night.
I don’t mind admitting how much I like McFly. I’ve enjoyed watching them develop from the first catchy pop tunes through to the epic feel of the last album Above The Noise.
Despite buying the music I hadn’t seen the band in concert since around the time of their second album. It was mostly children in the audience back then, but that audience has grown up along side the band and they have obviously widened their appeal judging by the number of blokes in the audience.
The gig was fantastic. The band bantered amongst themselves with much teasing from Harry and Dougie over their recent reality TV successes. They know how to work their audience and delivered cracking performance after cracking performance covering their whole nine year career. The new songs they offered up showed that the new album is going to be highly anticipated by their fans. (So many already knew the words to the new songs!)
They have most certainly broken free of the stigma of “flavour of the month boy band” and by seizing control of their own careers have turned into a powerpop band to be reckoned with.
Before I even begin to talk about this show can I applaud Vanity Fare who are on stage throughout the show, that’s a long day when there’s a matinee show too! I admire their stamina!
Vanity Fare open the show with their hit that wasn’t the one about hitchhiking and from the first note the Liverpool audience were up for it and very lively. I’ve been to some of these shows where it takes a while for the audience to warm up, but not this lot! The chap next to me was clapping and singing along all night and having a whale of a time. I think this was probably my favourite SSSS audience ever!
Brian Poole received a warm welcome to the stage and enticed a few audience members up to dance while just about everyone else was dancing in their seats. The highlight of his set was Someone Someone – the whole audience seemed entranced.
Closing the first half of the show was Chris Montez. I don’t think he stayed still for a single second during his set. He was all over the stage and exuded an infectious enthusiasm. He unleashed several well-known songs including a few made famous by Ritchie Valens. Ending with Let’s Dance he leapt from the Philharmonic stage join some of the ladies in the audience who were up and out of their seats for a chance to dance with him. He was very popular while signing stuff during the interval too, but then again every signature came with a kiss for the ladies.
Some splendid a capella singing opened part two, with Vanity Fare covering the Billy Joel classic The Longest Time. There most famous hit Hitching A Ride once again had the audience singing along before Brian Hyland took to the stage.
Accompanied by his wife and son, Mr Hyland offered a fine selection of rock ‘n’ roll as well as his famous hits, Sealed With a Kiss and Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini. The latter being quite a crowd pleaser.
Topping the bill was Peter Noone. This man was the reason I went to my first Solid Silver Sixties Show way on back in 1995, and is therefore responsible for a number of people I have met through these shows that I am pleased to called my friends. It had been nine years since Peter last did one of these tours, but it was like he had never been away. His child-like enthusiasm spilled out on the stage and infected the audience, who were largely up on their feet dancing from the second he hit the stage. All the favourites were there including Mrs Brown, Sentimental Friend, Something’s Happening and my personal highlight, Sunshine Girl.
All the acts returned to the stage for the finale, Land of A Thousand Dances. Audience participation and dancing was compulsory. As the show came to an end it was clear that everyone had had a fabulous time.
Video playlist features - Brian Hyland, Chris Montez and Peter Noone.
Wednesday, 25 April 2012
Wednesday, 4 April 2012
My musical year got off to a slow start, but photos and brief reports from the two gigs I have been to so far (Solid Silver 60s and Mcfly) are coming soon.
Keeping it eclectic my upcoming gigs this year include The Osmond Brothers, Ian Anderson, Elvis Costello and Greg Lake.
Next month sees the tenth annual International Pop Overthrow Liverpool. This event is the highlight of my year, and I can't wait for my IPO family to be in town. I may try and rustle up some guest bloggers for the event. If anyone attending fancies scribbling something down let me know.