LONDON REVIEW INDEX
Calling Festival - 28 June 2014
Blackberry Smoke - 3 March 2014
Slim Chance / Pearl Handled Revolver - 17 January 2014
Dead Daises / Leogun / The Graveltones - 20 November 2013
Peter Gabriel - 21 October 2013
Fleetwood Mac - 25 September 2013
Roger Waters - The Wall - 14 September 2013
The Brew / Liam Tarpey - 27 August 2013
BST - July 2013
THUNDER,JOE BONAMASSA AND AEROSMITH
I have been a fan of Thunder since 1990 when I saw them on the Backstreet Symphony Tour and having seen them on a few occasions before and after the 20 year ”farewell” in 2010 and official semi-retirement, I already knew that I wouldn't be disappointed. I had spotted that the Thunder crowd had turned up on the Common from all around the UK, a wild yet friendly bunch, and when the trademark tones of ACDC's "Thunderstruck"belted out from the P.A. they duly worked themselves into a frenzy.
Suddenly the Festival had got bigger.. The band bounced onto the stage and launched into an action-packed,energy-filled45 minutes and were as good as ever. They always give 100% effort and as usual silver-haired(nothing wrong with that!) lead singer Danny Bowes was into the swing of things from the off, with plenty of energy and cheeky Cockney charm and getting the crowd involved many times, and Luke Morley emotionally tore his away around his flying V Gibson. Peter Shoulder (from Morley’s other band the Union) excelled in playing keyboards and guitar (standing in for Ben Matthews who had been struck down by tonsillitis so badly he had to have them removed!!) The set included “Dirty Love”, “Higher Ground”, “Backstreet Symphony” and the Bad Company-like” I Love You More Than Rock and Roll” while their big ballad, “Love Walked In”, showed Bowes‘s voice had lost none of its edge and that the band are still very much on top of their game.
Remains a mystery to me why a band with such good rock and roll songs, perfectly executed and sounding so good would even consider disappearing just yet !!! By the end everyone knew that they had been given a real musical treat by in my WTS opinion, the most underrated band in British rock history who never got the recognition they deserved. Thunder will always live forever in my memory (and my mp3 collection). Less is more these days where Thunder is concerned but the good news is that the semi- comeback has gone so well that the band have decided to record a new studio album later in the year.. I for one can’t wait...!!!
Next up was Joe Bonamassa who of course needs no introduction to the WRC at all. We never miss a gig of his and we weren’t going to this time either. Joe Bonamassa is a great guitar player. Fact. He's one of the fastest and -- according to his fans–the WRC included - the best alive. He lets his guitar do most of his talking and when you’re as good as him, why not? As the reigning champ of blues-rock guitarists after Clapton’s generation, Joe Bonamassa attracts notice whenever he issues new music (and to the great delight of his fans, he does this often), and here he started his set by introducing to the festival crowd a new song ”Oh Beautiful” which is destined for his recently announced September album release “Different Shades of Blue”. After a bevy of “non-main” releases that includes live DVDs, a fun funk-jazz side project and a second collaboration with blues belter Beth Hart, it feels like the right time to follow up on 2012’s “ Driving Towards The Daylight.” Fans needn’t worry, though.
In Bonamassa’s hands, this new song is 100% JB. Following the solo-sung/heavy riffing pattern made famous by Led Zeppelin’s “Black Dog,” Joe’s vocal is much more reserved, almost a blues lullaby, but that’s just foreboding. The full band crashes in with force, backing out again when it’s time for the leader to calmly deliver a few more verses. During the second instrumental section, Bonamassa tears off some urgent licks, the high point of the song. It’s obvious that JB is obsessed with detail and perfection. The level of skill on display is just over the top as usual.
Joe was joined on stage for his set by usual cohorts Carmine Rojas (bass), Tal Bergman (drums), ex Black Country Communion pal Derek Sherinian (keyboards), and Lenny Castro (percussion) to form an equally as impressive backup for Joe’s stunning skill on the electric guitar and his amazing vocals. Old favourites like “Slow Train “, “Sloe Gin” and “The Ballad of John Henry” and a BCC song “Song of Yesterday “ were performed with the usual aplomb and brilliance. He will certainly have won converts from those watching him live for the first time. In summary, you don’t have to be a guitar nerd or a big blues fan to be impressed by Joe’s talent. Joe Bonamassa has built a fan base around releasing quality music and consistently giving it his all when performing live and he stays so prolific, you can almost forget it’s been much longer than usual since he’s put out new material under his own name. After getting a taste of that via “Oh Beautiful!” fellow WRC members and myself are ready for more of that. September can’t come soon enough.
Soon it was Aerosmith time...The veteran 5-piece and best selling American rock band of all time arrived on stage to rock Clapham Common with their last show on their European tour. Steven Tyler's entrance was predictably epic, arriving on stage dragging his microphone stand. Wearing leather pants, leather vest and animal print scarves and shirt he wowed the crowd with his psychedelic dance moves and flaunting his scarf in the air like a bull fighter and his cape. He looked remarkably like Johnny Depp’s character in Pirates of the Caribbean! Opening the show with "Mama Kin", they already had the crowd at their feet. Before starting "Love in an Elevator", and after “Eat the Rich” Steven Tyler used the camera close up to do a massive belch! The tone is set! After Joe Perry's "Oh Yeah", we all started singing "Cryin" during which Steven played the harmonica and used his leopard scarf as ahead band. When did he have the time to do that? Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, aka the Toxic twin brothers, showed us that music is about friendship and a group of mates making music together despite up and downs and inter-group bitching along the way which have included stage falling injuries and stints in rehab and appearances on American Idol!
Their voices have not changed over the years and are still harmonious and powerful, their songs timeless and ageless. Indeed, I would argue that Tyler’s voice has actually got better over the years, which is a rarity in rock And he made great use of the stage extension as he pretty much used it nearly every song. Perry’s guitar riffs and solos remain as good as ever and a film of him busking on Waterloo Bridge during “Freedom Fighter” was an inspired moment. ‘The Demon of Screamin' then went down and sang with lucky and hysteric fans "Same Old Song And Dance" from 1974 album Get Your Wings. During "Living on the Edge", Steven invited his friend RichieSambora to sing along as he was in the crowd having performed admirably earlier and mercissly mocked rhythm guitarist Brad Whitford about letting himself age !! The biggest crowd pleaser was obviously "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing": Everyone from front row to back of the park was singing and smiling. The band cleverly decided to pay homage to the UK with a cover of the Beatles tracks "Come Together" and “Lady Madonna”a la Aerosmith! Great stuff!!, "Dude looks like A Lady" and "Walk This Way", were just brilliant with the whole festival side of the Common singing and rocking along.
The crowd thought this was the end but of course it wasn’t and Aerosmith came back for the encore with a beautiful piano version of crowd favourite "Dream On", Joe Perry playing the guitar standing on the white piano. The very last song was "Sweet Emotion" with a big finale with confetti everywhere and Steven Tyler with fluorescent face paint and having sported costumes that no man in his mid-60s should even contemplate, let alone get away with!! But that’s what showbiz and unhinged abandon does for you i guess. He had the multi-generational audience in the palm of his hand...With a camera never more than a few feet away from him, Tyler’s narcissistic tendencies were indulged throughout and of course it helps when girls, many young enough to be his err…grand-daughters, screamed at the singer and fellow Toxic Twin Joe Perry as if they were members of One Direction!!!
Aerosmith are always the band that do indeed deliver the goods and this gig was no different. I was blown away by the energy of the band who are obviously still eager to give an epic show and entertain the fans. I have seen many a gig during my wrinkly lifetime and believe me this was right up there. Everyone's playing was tight, as you'd hope for from a line-up that's somehow stayed pretty stable for almost half a century. They're often described as America's greatest rock band, and perhaps there could have been a bit more volume but who cares. There was no wall of speakers, probably because of the proximity of houses near the Common. And this was Clapham after all.. I and my fellow Wrinklys trudged off to Clapham South tube station to confront the northbound Northern Line home very very happy having encountered and survived the bad boys from Boston!
Eat the Rich
Love in an Elevator
Livin' on the Edge (with Richie Sambora helpingout on vocals)
Same Old Song and Dance
Rats in the Cellar
I Don't Want to Miss a Thing
No More No More
Come Together (The Beatles cover)
Dude (Looks Like a Lady)
Walk This Way
BLACKBERRY SMOKE- 02 ACADEMY ISLINGTON
MONDAY 3 MARCH 2014
Well there is a first time for everything and i am always ready for surprises. This was WTS’s first encounter with Atlanta’s Blackberry Smoke – Charlie Starr on Lead Vocals, Guitar, Richard Turner on Bass, Vocals, Brit Turner on Drums, Paul Jackson on Guitar, Vocals and Brandon Still(joined in 2009) on Keyboards. Thank god I read about them and seen an interview in last month’s Classic Rock magazine. And then I find out that Wrinkly, AJ and Wrinkly the Elder are already attending via the obligatory beers in the York pub!! My god the WRC website actually works !!!!!
Starting back in 2000 in Atlanta, Georgia, it’s taken them 14 years to finally assert themselves on the UK radar. Especially the WRC radar!!! The set list featured most of third album “The Whippoorwill” along with fan favourites from previous albums. The band had no problem winning the London crowd over by performing their no-frills brand of Southern rock, that rowdier sibling to the Progressive Country movement. The blend of blues, country rock, r&b, rock, southern soul and gospel forged by pioneers like The Allmans, ZZ Top, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Black Oak Arkansas and others provided a rich terrain for the band to work.
The fact of the matter was that if you used your eyes and ears during the show, you'd strongly suspect that Blackberry Smoke was the direct descendant of the Allman Brothers Band. That would include the long hair - four of the five had long, straight hair hanging down to just about their waists while the drummer had a bandana covering his hair .The connection was not merely a matter of looks. It was also in the sound. BS shares some of the same sound as the Allmans with twin guitar attack occasionally and keyboards spicing the songs. A bit of a bluesy sound at times seeped into the material as well.While the connection was there, it also would be wrong to simply label Blackberry Smoke as knock-offs or second rate as a result. The focus was on lead singer Charlie Starr, who might have the most impressive set of mutton chops in the South; his shaggy facial hair has a life of its own, not to be outdone by his rippling mane and rugged Easy Rider fashion sense. However, Starr has an affable stage presence, higher register vocals, which could often be heard above the musical din and some sharp lead guitar work. He capably showed versatility in going for straight ahead blues in “Ain't Got the Blues”. But as with all great Southern bands, the rhythm section of bassist Richard and (drummer)Brit Turner provides the backbone on which the rest of the band can demonstrate their range, with elements of bluegrass, soul, arena rock and even a bit of gospel all thrown into the mix.
The recently released(in the UK and Europe), “The Whippoorwill”, their third studio album and first for Zac Brown’s independent label Southern Ground, proves the quintet has 14 years of road-honed musical contributions to the cause. This is made clear by tracks such as “Six Ways To Sunday” which continue that tradition. Fuelled by a Still‘s barrell house piano, and fuzz guitar boogie and blue-collar come-ons like “I’m chasing my tail, and a couple other ones too” cements the song as a staple of their live performance from years to come. Title track “The Whippoorwill” was a moment it was a privilege to share, as the crowd lent their voices to Charlie’s, and became almost choral. Written by Charlie about the memories of his grandmother.
“Pretty Little Lie” and “Everybody Knows She’s Mine” were excellent romps on romantic denial and celebration respectfully. Both songs deftly fused country and rock so organically and soulfully that they stand, not only as great songs, but as sharp contrasts to Music City’s recent pathetic attempts to create the same sound. “One Horse Town” leant toward folk before kicking into a rock groove detailing the isolation of rural living. The same vibe lured the crowd into Ain’t Much Left Of Me” as the big rock sound swept everyone along. “Leave A Scar” is a pure piss, vinegar and whiskey rave-up offering a less than PC refrain of “When I die put my bones in the Dixie dirt” and “I may not change the word but I’m gonna leave a scar. ”Kinder and gentler this aint’. No sign of any subtlety here i’m pleased to say. The perfect opening live number!!! The rock ‘n’ roll schmooze of ‘Shakin Hands with the Holy Ghost’ is receiving plenty of radio airplay at the moment and deservedly so. “Crimson Moon” is fantastic, a heavy,70′shard rock song. Turns out that this band is really good at those as well...
Finishing off the main set was a powerful “Ain’t Much Left of Me” complete with Led Zeppelin’s “When the Levee Breaks.” And that is when it hit me. BBS employs a simple drama in their show that moves the audience from song to song, emotion to emotion, crack performance to crack performance, but it is all organic and earthy, natural and fluid. This band has a plan. As “When the Levee Breaks” stopped short and the spotlight suspended Charlie Starr’s hand raised above his head, a split second of silence crashed into the theatre before the band once again grabbed “Ain’t Much Left of Me.” There was drama here with drama and precision and artistry all wrapped in good music and a party vibe. Excellent. Absolutely excellent in fact..
Southern rock continues to be maligned in the current genteel musical landscape. More for, I feel, cultural baggage rather than musical merit. The celebration of Southern history, culture celebrated sincerely without a a wink and a smirk pitiable strikes some as fodder for knuckle-draggers. In the end Blackberry Smoke makes great, well played, music loyal to tradition, to their fans. They’d sure prefer you to enjoy it, but if you don’t I’m sure they give a good goddamn.
This, ladies and gentleman, is the real deal. It may help to be friends of Zac Brown, but ultimately you have to do it on your own. Blackberry Smoke did that in spades. The band is tight as a camel’s arse in a sandstorm! Blackberry Smoke are deserving of big things, and on the evidence of this gig and a sold-out tour, big things may indeed be coming their way. I for one certainly hope so and have found a new cult band!. Think Wrinkly was also very impressed but Wrinkly the Elder had gone before the end. Think AJ also enjoyed a lot despite the best efforts of the plonker in front of him. Don’t worry mate.. There is one at every gig.......!!!
WTS’s timekeeping being its usual suspect self meant that he missed most of the first band The Cadillac Three but what he did hear sounded good particularly first single “The South” If this is any example of what’s to come from the boys then I am 100% on board. The other band were Northern Ireland rockers Million Dollar Reload who were ok and i did like “The Last Icon” a tribute to Bon Scott but personally struck me as AC/DC or Aerosmith wannabees.. I am sure their fans will disagree with me..
Wrinkly the Silver
Sometimes all you want from a band are songs about getting your nose broken in a honky tonk on the edge of town and Atlanta, Georgia’s Blackberry Smoke are only too happy to deliver them. The band were playing their second London concert, but the number of people packing out the mid-sized venue proved there is an appetite for Seventies-style country rock played by five not entirely young men in a blizzard of denim and extensive facial hair. Unsurprisingly, given the unfashionable music they play and the resigned blue-collar humour in their lyrics, Blackberry Smoke have not had an easy time of it. They formed a decade ago and spent their first few years playing 250 gigs a year to hostile or non-existent crowds, suffered more than their fair share of broken down vans and unsympathetic girlfriends and, on one odorous occasion in Maryland, were the very public victims of an exploding sewer. They have the air of hardened road veterans and that’s at the heart of their appeal.
Arriving with a guitar with the words “hey y’all” on its back and addressing the crowd as “friends and neighbours”, long haired singer Charlie Starr shuffled across the stage as he sang songs about drinking Tennessee champagne, getting into bar fights and liking the country life, while a combination of warm organ grooves and bluesy guitar licks conjured up the spirit of the Allman Brothers Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd.“Homecoming queen, about to turn 18,” sang Starr on Crimson Moon, and there certainly weren’t any hidden depths to them: what we saw was what we got. Unpretentious and as musically tight as you would expect a band that does little else but play live night after night to be, Blackberry Smoke brought a little bit of Georgia sunshine to a rainy night in London.
Slim Chance - The Borderline -17 January 2014
38 years ago I went (with WRC founder member AJ) to the Great British Music Festival at the famous Olympia venue and saw Ronnie Lane's Slim Chance. 3 years ago I went to Cheshunt FC - a dilapidated run down building - to see Pearl Handled Revolver. Now bizarrely these two strange bed fellows were on the same bill at The Borderline.
So on to the gig and I was looking forward to seeing Pearl Handled Revolver again 3 years on a recording contract. I needn't have worried. They are billed as a heavy blues outfit but they are so much more than that to me. The band are always going to be distinctive due to the throaty Joe Cocker like vocals of Lee Vernon who not only uses that attribute superbly but also commands the stage in a way that makes it difficult to avert your gaze from him as you always feel you are going miss something. The heavy blues tag is definitely a disservice not that there is anything wrong with that but the set is full of different flavours. You are transported back to the late 60s early 70s with songs that have more than a passing resemblance to Cream, The Doors and The Spencer Davis Group. Those influences added to the Joe Cocker vocals and you have a band that are more than just watchable as borne out by the very appreciative crowd who roared out for more even after an hour set. Normally an hour set by a support band would be drowned out by incessant chatter - not with these guys.
Watching Slim Chance set up filled me with mixed emotions from anticipation at seeing a band I last saw38years ago, to sadness that once set up Ronnie Lane would not be joining them on stage. That said I thought I had been transported back in time just before the set started when Ronnie sorry Stan Lane walked in front of us and took to the stage to introduce the band - more double takes and eye rubbing - I know he is his brother but what a resemblance.
Original members Steve Simpson, Charlie Hart, Steve Bingham, Alun Davies and Colin Davey are once again touring the country keeping the music of Ronnie Lane alive and from the first note the crowd are on their side. It is not out of nostalgia but simply because these guys make entertaining seem effortless. Not only that but they are there to have a party just as Ronnie did all those years ago - sadly the cheeky grin and distinctive strutting walk is no longer there but the spirit still is in the form of these talented musicians. I don't intend going through the setlist song by song as there is no point suffice as to say the 19 songs flew by and the night over far too soon. Obviously there are highlights and for me if pushed Don't You Cry For Me, How Come (even with the dodgy dancing of Wrinkly the Junior and Wrinkly the Senior) You're So Rude, Ooh La La and Never Can Tell were the pick.
The show over but not quite time to leave as AJ and myself manage to grab a few minutes with Ronnie's elder brother Stan topped off with a photo or two - one for the scrapbook and who knows Slim Chance may one day appear on a WRC Promotions bill.
Roll On Babe
Don't Try To Change My Name
One For The Road
Don't You Cry For Me
Lads Got Money
Lost / How Come
You're So Rude
Ooh La La
Way Up Yonder
Never Can Tell
DEAD DAISIES / LEOGUN / THE GRAVELTONES
THE UNDERWORLD - CAMDEN
20 NOVEMBER 2013
There are times in your life when you have to rub your eyes in disbelief - such an occasion was when I checked out the listings for The Underworld recently and saw 3 bands for £7.50!!! So what I hear you say the bands may not be up to much - true! However when I also saw the opening band were Leogun then I thought it must be a misprint - it wasn't. For those of you new to the band they have been pulling up trees at festivals all summer from Danson to Hyde Park so it was a no brainer to spend just over £20 on tickets for myself and the usual wrinkly suspects The Elder and The Younger!
Still muttering about the injustice of Leogun opening we arrived at the venue to learn that they were in fact on second - some justice there especially when the opening act The Graveltones appeared as a Duo!!! -That said I have to say they were very impressive with a Metallica like sound with just the two of them - amazing. The crowd lapped up this appetizer and they left the stage to the cries of "more" - well deserved guys.
Next up were Leogun which to be honest was the band we had paid £7.50 to see. I have been quoted many times as saying after wow!! - the last time was in 2008 and that was Joe Bonamassa - thankfully I wasn't wrong there and I don't think I will be this time.
This band bring a freshness to music and in a similar way to JB they are not stuck in one genre. Add to that a talented group of musicians including the fantastic vocal talent that is Tommy Smith - who is a Robert Plant lookalike and sound alike and you have a recipe for success.
The only thing wrong with their performance was the fact it was so short - only time for 5 songs (one of those being Medicine which is nota favourite of Wrinkly the Elder) and yet they had the audience eating out of their hands. It's not surprising as another Zeppelin trait is the repetitive riffs the band play which they manage to link with to a modern feel which adds to the freshness of their sound. They already have an anthem in Everyday which I predict will be hailed as a classic when this band hit the big time - they are already well on their way.
- My Motor
- Piggy in the Middle
- By the Reins
It was certainly a case of follow that for The Dead Daisies after a storming Leogun set. We missed the start of TDD set, chatting to Leogun, but couldn’t pass up the opportunity of renewing our acquaintance with Dizzy Reed’s keyboards and lead guitarist Richard Fortus, following Guns N’ Roses infamous O2 Arena gig. Playing 18 UK shows as the Black Star Riders’ Special Guests, this was the first time they had headlined a UK show.
Anyway, the first number we caught from their self-titled first album was ‘Washington’, with the imposing vocals of ex-Inxs post- Hutchence lead singer/guitarist Jon Stevens plus Reed already flourishing. However, it was the neat riffs of ‘Man Overboard’ later in the set that finally gave this ‘Super group’ an edge. They kept the bar raised with Stevens own composition‘Fly’ and took things down a notch with ‘Yesterday’ which if anything showcased the pedigree of the band, the remaining roster including bassist Darryl Jones no less (late of Rolling Stones Hyde Park fame), ex-Mink rhythm guitarist David Lowy and Cold Chisel drummer Charley Drayton. Their new single ‘Lock N’ Load was co-written by and featured, surprise, surprise Slash - although as expected for our £7.50 outlay, Ronnie Wood look-alike Fortus stepped up to the plate as he did for the whole of the gig. Their final track from their album - the encore ‘Writing On The Wall’ was sandwiched in between two covers – the Fab Four’s ‘Helter Skelter’ and funnily enough the Faces ‘Stay With Me’! Such a shame Wrinkly had left by then to get home in time for England’s demolition in The Ashes. In the end, a thumbs up from Wrinkly The Elder and a thumbs up from me – but given Leogun’s earlier set - no cigar. AJ.
O2 ARENA - 21 OCTOBER 2013
And so, after the excellent night at Wrinklystock 2, Wrinkly and WRC member Andy Corbett headed over to the O2 Arena to catch former Genesis man, and spritely 63 year old, Peter Gabriel for his Back to Front tour, including a playing of the whole of the multi-platinum album So. As usual the excellent Sky Backstage tickets were booked (what other way can you think of going to a concert – no queue, nice venue, reasonable beer prices just for starters.
Opening up was Norwegian singer Ana Brun, a last minute replacement for the originally booked act who could not appear due to illness. Excellent voice, but seemed a little overwhelmed by the occasion, being very meek and mild.
On to the main event, and an unusual start to say the least – Most acts open up with one of their blockbuster songs to get the mood going, but instead, a dialogue explaining how the evening would play out – A meal in three parts… Firstly, acoustic with the house lights up, then electronic with the house lights down, then the whole of the So album…
It seemed to take a while for him to get going, but by the time the So album had commenced, after the excellent Solsbury Hill, the voice – which really hasn’t changed in all of his years – moved in to full flow, with the superb Red Rain followed by Sledgehammer and all of the songs from his album that we are all accustomed. The only thing missing was the wheeling out of Kate Bush for Don’t Give Up, but even that did not detract from what ended up an excellent concert – The lighting was good, sound was excellent and the support from the original band faultless.
2 Come talk to me
3 Shock the monkey
4 Family snapshot
5 Digging in the Dirt
6 Secret World
7 The Family and the Fishing Net
8 No Self Control
9 Solsbury Hill
10 Why Don’t You Show Yourself
11 Red Rain
13 Don’t Give Up
14 That Voice Again
15 Mercy Street
16 Big Time
17 We do What We’re Told
18 This is the Picture (Excellent Birds)
19 In Your Eyes
20 The Tower that Ate People
FLEETWOOD MAC - O2 ARENA
WEDNESDAY 25 SEPTEMBER 2013
We all know the backstory of the Mighty Mac, the breakups, the betrayals, the addictions and now, finally, the reunion. These days they're more like the Mellow Mac with the emotional hatchets buried, lingering hugs on stage, and tender tales of their time as struggling Seventies hippies. Few other bands, not even Abba, have mined their private lives for inspiration to the same extent. Unlike today's manufactured pop-ettes who invent relationship strife to grab column inches and make themselves more interesting (Harry Styles and Taylor Swift, I'm looking at you), heartache has always been at the core of Fleetwood Mac's music and their unique, explosive chemistry. Rivalling the likes of fellow pensioners the Rolling Stones in the longevity stakes -37 years and counting - Fleetwood’s Mac's performance, almost three hours long, was emotionally charged and entertaining and features the band in its most successful incarnation with Mick Fleetwood (drums), John McVie (bassist), Lindsey Buckingham(guitar) and the inevitable star of the show, Stevie Nicks (vocals). The mammoth23-song-set was perfectly pitched to please the near 20,000 fans packing the venue, tell the Fleetwood Mac story and even showcase the odd new track.
As the cross-generational crowd (including young hipsters paying homage in afghan coats and flares) shuffled expectantly in their seats, these old friends and lovers (Nicks dated Buckingham seriously and Fleetwood briefly) launched into arousing rendition of “Second Hand News” from 1977’s bestselling album(just the 40 million copies sold- third best of all time !!) and soft rock masterpiece, “Rumours”. As someone who spent his first working years with Stevie Nicks’s ethereal howls blasting out of my music centre(remember them ??), it was pure pleasure to see this gothic rock goddess perform live, still as bewitching as ever. “The Chain”, the most starkly autobiographical song about the group’s love tangle, retains its irresistibly simple beat and sounded as fresh as ever with the iconic bass riff familiar to all F1 fans of course. I even found myself unexpectedly tearing up as the opening notes of their classic hit "Dreams" sent the crowd into a foot-stomping frenzy. “Go Your Own Way” remains the band’s biggest sing along song and there was a rousing version here greeted with thunderous appreciation. Yes, there was the odd over-indulgent guitar solo and waffle from Buckingham about the evils of the music business and overcoming his personal demons, most of which sounded liked psychobabble. But he made up for it with a genuinely moving acoustic version of “Big Love” (from “Tango in the Night”, 1987), when he stood alone in the spotlight strumming a Spanish guitar. “The lyrics when I first wrote this song described who Lindsey Buckingham was at the time," he confessed. “I was running away from love. But, what once was a meditation on alienation has now become about the power of change.” Whatever it was about and I wasn’t sure I can tell you, the audience loved it. At times, Buckingham's new wave art rock energy, hopping up and down on the spot in tight pants and leather jacket as he rips out trippy, echoing guitar parts and sings snappy songs, it feels like he is going to combust if he doesn't get the words out. Meanwhile Stevie Nicks,, the hippie wet dream now looking like a dark folk witch, is still waving her scarves about and drawling poetic fantasies in a voice that no longer floats ethereally like it did in her prime but cuts and thrusts with the Americana grit of a female Dylan on songs like “Rhiannon”, a poignant “Landslide” (which she dedicates to founding member, gone madman, Sixties ex-guitarist Peter Green, who was in the audience) and a mesmerising “Gold Dust Woman” as the 02 was cast in a golden light. On paper, this Buckingham-Nicks combination is one that shouldn't work. Yet that sense of hanging together by a thread is part of what lends the old troupers such vitality.
This may be the least comfortable exercise in nostalgia I have ever seen and all the better for it, with a distinctly edgy but emotional feel to the whole evening. Four successive selections from the provocatively odd and unloved “Tusk” (the “difficult” follow-up album to Rumours) were odd beat ones for sure but went down surprisingly well and I thought this section was one of the highlights of the show !!! Throughout the performance, Mick Fleetwood sat majestically behind his drum kit, positioned between Nicks and Buckingham whose friendship is finally back on track after a decade-long feud. In one particularly touching moment, the pair performed a song inspired by a love poem that Nicks wrote in the duo’s pre-Mac era entitled "Without You". When Nicks and Buckingham sing into the same microphone or walk out for encores hand in hand, it is the musical equivalent of seeing divorced parents back together.
Only when the encore came did Mick Fleetwood take centre stage and showcase his drumming prowess with an impressively energetic solo on “World Turning” with a headset mic on, yelling gibberish at the crowd as his four limbs went collectively nuts. I'd always thought that Animal from the Muppets was based on Keith Moon, but now I see that Jim Henson probably had Mick Fleetwood in mind. His counterpart and long time partner-in-crime, John McVie, calmly held down the bass notes without flash or pizzazz—the eye of the hurricane, as they say. I've heard some people talk down Fleetwood and McVie's role in the band, saying that they're ultimately inessential, or that Fleetwood Mac is actually a series of bands without a common thread. This is flat-out wrong: Fleetwood and McVie are the absolute cornerstones of the band, from whatever era. There would not be a single iteration of Fleetwood Mac without these two ,looking all Chas and Dave in their waistcoats, and to overlook their contributions in any serious discussion about the band's music is pretty inexcusable. And then came the moment the crowd was really waiting for. Yes, it was true.
Ex-member Christine McVie (ex-wife of John, remember !!) re-joined the band for a guest appearance to a rapturous reception for one of her own songs, the classic "Don’t Stop", having exited in 1998. The “famous five” were back together for the first time in almost 16years, if only for one song...Who cares ?. It was another moment in rock history for this wrinkly rocker to enjoy... And the rest of the crowd absolutely lapped it up too.. The show should really have ended there, but for some reason they decided to raise our hopes of a last minute rendition of another classic such as “Little Lies”, with a second encore, only to disappoint with the little known “Silver Springs” (the B-side of “Go Your Own Way”), and “Say Goodbye” from 2003’s “Say You Will” album, which is about Buckingham finally letting go of his love for Nicks. Just as Fleetwood Mac have allegedly moved on, so too have their fans, and by that point in the evening I had enough of hearing about their emotional issues and left.!!. Playing out to a rapidly emptying arena can’t have been the finale they were hoping for. Fingers crossed that if the rumours about the band appearing at Glastonbury in 2014 are true, they use that opportunity to shut up and play a few more of the hits. With Christine McVie of course!!!
01.Second Hand News
02. The Chain
04. Sad Angel
06. Not That Funny
08. Sisters of the Moon
10. Big Love
12. Never Going Back Again
13. Without You
15. Eyes of the World
16. Gold Dust Woman
17. I’m So Afraid
18. Stand Back
19. Go Your Own Way Encore:
20. World Turning
21. Don’t Stop(with Christine McVie) Encore2:
22. Silver Springs
23. Say Goodbye
ROGER WATERS - THE WALL
LONDON WEMBLEY STADIUM
SATURDAY 14 SEPTEMBER 2013
There are not many rock musicians who could fill a venue this large, and even fewer grey-haired, 70-year-old ones who could.What's particularly remarkable is that Roger Waters wasn't even the most charismatic member of Pink Floyd, a band who achieved global renown despite being utterly anonymous at times. And yet here he is, the original grumpy young man – one of his cues for writing the double-album opus that has been upgraded from arenas and erected at stadiums like Wembley was an increasing antipathy towards his audience – revelling in his role as master of ceremonies, commanding the attention of tens of thousands (nearly70,000 in this case) and fronting a spectacle with the authority of a benign dictator.
This is an even more tricked-out version of the show that Waters has been touring since 2010, performing over 200 times to close to 4 million people in arenas all over the world . This is the show i saw on that famous night of 12th May2011 at the London 02 Arena when my dream of seeing the three remaining members of Pink Floyd sharing the same stage again actually came true. This is the show that made him the third most successful live artist after Bruce Springsteen and Madonna last year. The contrast between colourful multimedia visuals and the music itself is now even more stark: Waters' highly personal, bleak, dour and downbeat musings on the alienating effects of conflict and stardom here become a series of hi-tech bombardments of the senses. And with this stadium Waters has a bigger canvas than ever on which to make his points, enabling him to enlarge the Wall concept with visuals critiquing the corporatisation of culture while also demonstrating the awful majesty of war: the Luftwaffe Stuka fighter plane crashing into the wall, and the resulting explosions and pyrotechnics, is as impressive (and doubtless expensive) as anything you'll see at a pop concert. The Wall was so big (40ft) that it made Wembley seem cosy and in return Wembley at night certainly was made for the Wall !!!
The Wall might be partly about Waters' loathing of systems, whether of the school or military variety, and the triumph of despots within them, but he plays the part of the totalitarian rock star with aplomb. If anything, tall and rake-thin, all silver mane and shades, he suits the part better than he did when the album was first performed in 1979. And when he dons a black trench coat and, with a look of manic glee, takes a machine gun to rapid-fire bullets into the night, the crowd lap it up. Bashful? The very thought is, like Waters himself, a bit rich!!!
As a live concert event, they don’t come more spectacular than this. Atone end of Wembley stadium (across the entire width) is a wall made of 400white blocks. There are gaps in the middle, as the first part of the concert takes place, the gaps are gradually filled brick by brick until the entire stage is one huge wall 240ft wide and 35ft tall. Part two is played out almost entirely with the band playing behind the wall and Roger in front. Throughout the Wall is used as a blank canvass onto which the story unfolds.
If I was the sort of person to participate in the use of illegal substances then I would definitely have done it tonight. Even without them, the incredible image-mapping techniques and animations projected onto the wall are mind-enhancingly breath taking. Today’s technology advancements (and the artist who have created the amazing visuals) serve to drive the narrative of the story with such verve and aplomb that despite the fact that Roger advancing years now numbering 70, is way ahead of anything else ANYONE in popular music is doing right now. There are quite a few ‘Wow’ moments and for sheer scale, .
Oh yes, I nearly forgot. Then there is the music too. The touring line-up still includes legendary ex-Pink Floyd live band member, Snowy White on guitar and Roger’s son Harry on keyboards. They are flawless in their delivery, from the first ‘I’m Spartacus’ chant to the syncopated melodrama of ‘Another Brick in the Wall’ (complete with local school kids singing their hearts out) to ‘that’ guitar solo in ‘Comfortably Numb’, From the menacing ‘Run Like Hell’ to the folky acoustic ‘Outside the Wall’ performed in the rubble once the wall comes down with a banjo and Roger on trumpet, not one note is misplaced or wasted. These combine with incredible sound effects such as gunshots and helicopters; it’s like the ultimate widescreen TV in 3D with surround sound, but in real-life. Atone point modern day Roger performs ‘Mother’ as a duet with himself of a video recorded from the Earls Court show 30 years ago. He apologises if it appears narcissistic”, and it probably is (a bit)but if anyone has earned the right to a little artistic self-indulgence, Roger Waters is the man.
I could get picky and dissect Roger’s over-simplistic views to solve world peace, and he steers clear of the current political hot potato in Syria, instead preferring to use the benefit of hindsight in such cases as the Jean Charles de Menezes shooting at Stockwell tube station by police in the wake of the 7/7 attacks, by adding the very moving new “Ballad of Jean Charles de Menezes”, During this song, The Wall is used to project a fast moving tube train along its width. It stops, seven gunshots are heard and the train moves on again. Spellbinding. In fact the imagery is incredibly powerful throughout and some original footage is intertwined with ultra hi-def video to produce a unique piece of art and story-telling. Oh yes, of course, there is also a giant inflatable flying black pig.!! At one point, a plane projected onto the giant wall dropped hundreds of Stars of David, Crucifixes, hammer and sickles and even the corporate logos of Shell (who are they, wouldn’t catch me working for them !!)and Mercedes-Benz.
A noticeable percentage of the 70,000 Wembley stadium crowd seemed to be fathers bringing their young sons and daughters in tow, so the average age of the audience was younger than you would expect and intriguingly many watched the gig through the screen on their camera phones which I found baffling. They might not get it all at the moment (and even now sometimes I still don’t), but I’m sure more than a few will be telling their kids about the time they saw Roger Waters perform ‘The Wall’ one day, and the musical baton will be handed on to the next generation, a sign that the Floyd are probably cooler today than at any time in their history. Amazing and inspirational, and captivatingly brilliant. Tear down the Wall!! You don’t even have to be a die-hard fan of Pink Floyd to have left the two hour 25 minute performance convinced you’ve never seen nor are likely to see a show quite as memorable again.
]The Ballad of Jean Charles deMenzes
Wrinkly the Silver
The Brew / Liam Tarpey Band
100 Club - 27 August 2013
For me one of the best things about the WRC is that it gives us the opportunity to meet and be involved with great bands and great people. Not only is this on a professional basis but in the process we have created many friendships. No more so than Liam Tarpey who we first met at the 100 Club a year ago - so impressed we invited him to appear atour first Wrinklystock and he produced a storming set for us. It was a no brainer for us therefore when he invited us back to The 100 Club to see his final gig before he jetted off to Australia. Unfortunately yours truly was under the impression that it was for good and it was therefore a bit embarrassing when we presented him with a card and Canvas Print from the Carlton Centre and Celebrations Theatre Group (The charities he played for at Wrinklstock) wishing him all the best in his new life when in fact he is only going for a year!!! - Ooooops!!!
On to the set and the great thing about Liam Tarpey is that not only is he a genuinely nice guy he is a superb and mature guitarist who lists his influences from Country to Hendrix and that shows during the set. Tarpey released his debut album Warm Up My Bones last year and he believes in the tracks on there with over half his set made up from it. His traditional instrumental opener On My Neck is quickly followed by Hands Off and one of my favourites Pride and Joy. By now the "home" crowd(I am sure friends and family had come to see him off) were lapping up his choppy riffs and rightly so.
New to me live are Pennies, ZZ Top and Lorraine which Tarpey has cleverly put together in the middle of his set punctuated by the classic Walking By Myself which was always one of my favourite Gary Moore live tracks. Tarpey is joined by Bass Guitarist Anthony Channer on vocals for this one and it provides a contrast in vocal style which works very well.
The set finishes with three heavyweight songs in Krypto Blues, Warm Up My Bones and the classic Hendrix track Hey Joe. A great way to bow out for now - personally I certainly hope it is only one year before this talented young bluesman returns.
On My Neck
Pride and Joy
On Her Own
Walking By Myself
Warm Up My Bones
Must admit that we did not look much past Liam Tarpey’s support spot given the occasion – although I did get a bit excited when Wrinkly mentioned Calvin Jones might be headlining. Wrong! Similarly, silence during LT’s set when he enquired whether the assembled crowd were looking forward to ‘The Brew’ didn’t inspire me with confidence either. Wrong! To be honest we caught a neat solo sniff of guitarist/vocalist Jason Barwick during the sound check and if we had done our homework (blame the BluesFest) we would have been intrigued by The Brew’s connection to a certain WRC favourite.
Anyway, more on that later.
Supported by father and son team, Tim Smith (bass) and Kurtis (drums), Jason was up and bouncing from the off with the catchy heavy rock riff of ‘Six Dead’ and subsequently it was a case of “Turn It Up” on ‘Every Gig Has A Neighbour’. ‘Ode To Eugene’ cemented the rock bridges of the 60’s and 70’s with a touch of psychedelia thrown in for good measure. “Are you with us?” shouted Barwick.
Yes we were – my favourite of the night. The title track from their last studio album ‘The Third Floor’ was followed by the heavily ‘Who’ influenced ‘Imogen Molly’. Quality. Jason’s versatility was complete with a violin bowing intro on the excellent ‘A Smile To Lift The Doubt’ which also featured an amazing Smith drum solo – hands and all. No time for a piss here. In fact, anyone uncomfortable with the thought of having your Dad in the same rock band as you, should have seen the enjoyment on Kurtis’ face and Tim’s for that matter – the undoubted driving force behind ‘The Brew’. ‘The Brew’s’ encore was their new single ‘Trouble Free’, which no doubt will feature on their new forthcoming album. And that connection? Well in July 2009, The Brew appeared at Rockpalast in Cologne and, due to headliner Joe Bonamassa's reluctance to do a TV recording, their entire set was broadcast live on German WDR TV and led to European fame. Based on the turn-out at the 100 Club, it’s evident that deserved fame has not crossed the Channel – although similar to2009 – we were also in the right place at the right time on Tuesday night!
BST - HYDE PARK
A year after they literally pulled the plug on Hard Rock Calling at Hyde Park, AEG Live grasped the nettle with their Barclaycard British Summer Festival spread over ten days. With five different stages and three themed and specially designed areas it certainly looked impressive but did its musical fayre hit the mark? First up on Friday was Bon Jovi. Having seen them three weeks earlier at the Isle Of Wight Festival this was going to be an early win for BST and sure enough the Sambora-less ensemble duly delivered. The irony of opening with Fogerty/Quo’s ‘Rockin’ All Over The World’ was not lost on those who also saw Springsteen’s gig last year.
The set list was the same as the IOW except for the exclusion of their cover of ‘Start Me Up’ – Jon acknowledging that they were in fact “opening for the Stones” – the set ending with my favourite of the night ‘Bad Medicine’ with guitarist Bobby Bandiera joining in with a ‘Pretty Woman’ and ‘Roadhouse Blues ’interlude. Quality. The ‘Please Kiss & Make Up’ banner held up aloft by one of the faithful didn’t deter replacement Phil X, as he, JBJ, Bandiera ,keyboard/vocalist David Bryan, bassist Hugh McDonald and the ‘Beat Of Bon Jovi’ drummer Tico Torres, launched into, not one, but two encores – predictably the first including ‘Wanted Dead Or Alive’ and ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’- the second seeing a number of camera phones held up in the air for ‘Always’. As the man himself said - what an opener! Follow that – well actually my appointment with the Rolling Stones was for the second Saturday although Wrinkly The Silver was there on the first night – his summary of “truly excellent” fuelling my anticipation. I’m afraid JLS headlining the Beach Boys was another no show for me on the Sunday (went to the Danson Festival in Bexley instead – more about that later) although I did dip my toe into the Serpentine for the free festival with its various events on the Monday – although the absence of any live music was a surprise! Roll on Friday and the big news was that Elton John had pulled out due to illness and the support bill had duly been pushed up the order in what was now a free-ticketed gig – fair play to AEG. First up on The Great Oak Stage was Elvis Costello, which resulted in one of those inevitable “Didn’t realise he had so many hits” cliché’s. Elvis not only reeled off ‘I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down’, ‘Watching The Detectives’, ‘Oliver’s Army’ and ‘I Don’t Want To Go To Chelsea’ but also had time for a ‘She’ cover (much prefer the Jeff Lynne cover) and also sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to his Mum. Wrinkly and I both felt that we had nipped out early at our favourite Uncle’s singalong as we headed towards The Bandstand to see Leogun- who had blown the roof off the Danson Festival stage five days earlier (see setlist pic). Over to Wrinkly: Thanks AJ - The thing is when a mate of 38 years standing keeps banging on about a band you either think he's starting to loose his marbles or you sit up and listen - I was caught in the middle on this one but when I heard AJ had a ticket for me I thought I had better check them out.. Now after all these years it's not often I have a wow moment - the last time was when I first saw Joe Bonamassa in 2008 and I wasn't wrong there. I know I am not wrong on this occasion - these guys are the real deal trust me. The proof came twofold - firstly the crowd grew from the bands faithful to 100s deep - that takes some doing, and at the end the queue to buy their debut album "By the Reins" was nearly as deep - superb!!!
Follow that 2 – and it was former Kinks front man Ray Davies who brought proceedings to an end on The Great Oak Stage. Ray might well be 69 and some might say his voice now reflects it – but his entire set was unashamedly a Kinks back catalogue – and how the crowd lapped it up in the sun. Who could go wrong with ‘Sunny Afternoon’, ‘Waterloo Sunset’, ‘Apeman’ and of course ‘You Really Got Me’? However, my abiding memory of the night was the Leogun’ set plus Wrinkly and I walking off into the sunset to the sound of ‘Lola’. Classic.
Another irony of BST was that before Friday night, the previ
ous free concert in Hyde Park was The Rolling Stones on 5July 1969. Step forward the 2013 incarnate, not before I had seen the impressive Yellowwire in the literally cool Village Hall and listened to Jake Bugg while queuing up for half an hour to get a couple of cheeky beers. Aback projection of footage from ’69 heralded the Stones arrival, just a paltry65,000 paying punters this time, compared to half a million freeloaders, going wild as Keith Richards guitar launched into ‘Start Me Up’. Apparently it was the first time ‘Emotional Rescue’ had been performed in Europe, ‘Street Fighting Man’ was chosen by a fans text poll and we even saw Jagger donning a guitar for 2012 release ‘Doom And Gloom’! Jagger, Watts and Wood all took a backseat as Richards took lead vocals on ‘You Got The Silver’ and ‘Happy’ but it was of course the energy of Jagger – 70 this week – who caught the eye, particularly on the catwalk with vocalist Lisa Fischer on ‘Gimme Shelter’. Proud to have the same birthdate as you Sir Mick! One poignant moment of the night was Mick Taylor turning the clock back 44 years -just days after the death of Brian Jones – returning to the scene of his Stones debut with ‘Midnight Rambler’. Sensational.
However, at the end of the day it was the classics that young and old alike wanted to hear and we were not disappointed with ‘It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It)’, ‘Ruby Tuesday’, ‘Paint ItBlack’, ‘Honky Tonk Women’, ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ and ‘Brown Sugar’. The Voice Chamber Choir sang the intro to the encore ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ but they saved the best for last. When you talk about your ‘bucket list’ and witnessing iconic songs, such as Lynyrd Skynyrd performing ‘Freebird’ or seeing Carlos Santana playing the opening notes to Black Magic Woman – The Stones ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’ has to be right up there. With Taylor again thrown back into the mix, it was a memorable ending to the gig and their’50 & Counting Tour’. For those who have not seen them – I just hope that the “this was their last ever gig” rumour was just ticket agency tittle tattle.
Follow that 3 – well you couldn’t – so made my excuses and bade farewell to BST2013 before Lionel Richie and J Lo appeared on the Sunday – looking forward to BST 2014 though