Monthly Archives: July 2014

The Beach Boys, York Racecourse, 25.07.2014.

For those not familiar with the soap opera ‘The Beach Boys’, just a few pointers. After Carl Wilson’s death in ’98, Mike Love pretty much took control. Al Jardine left, reportedly unhappy that Love wanted to turn the group into a ‘party group’. Love subsequently took Jardine to court to stop him using the ‘Beach Boys’ name (does that sound familiar to Wishbone Ash and Animals fans?).  Brian Wilson was none too complimentary about Mr Love too, but a couple of years ago they all kissed and made up with a 50th Anniversary Tour. But now, it is back to a group featuring Love, Bruce Johnston and some hired hands.

Glorious sunshine, and after some irritating local radio man, on they come to ‘Do it Again’. With barely time to breathe, we get ‘Goin’ to the beach’, ‘Little Honda’, ‘Catch a wave’ and ‘Hawaii’.  ‘Surf City’, the Jan and Dean hit that catches out lots of PQT’s (Pub Quiz Tw*ts), makes up a surf trilogy with ‘Surfin’ Surfari’ and ‘Surfer Girl’.    Arguably the world’s best ever ‘B’ side, ‘Don’t worry baby’, is next, followed by a batch of ‘car’ songs, namely ‘Little Deuce Coupe’, ‘409’, ‘Shut Down’ ,’I get around’ and ‘ Ballad of old Betsy’. ‘Why do fools fall in love’ and another hit single  ‘Darlin’ follow , with (I think), ‘Don’t back down’ in close pursuit and , to the amazement of all there, on then comes Roy Wood for ‘Fire Brigade’!!!*

The second hour carries on with ‘Cottonfields’, and a 12-string guitar introduces ‘California Dreaming’ ( a much-overlooked single which featured Roger McGuinn). ‘Sloop John B’ ( a tune suggested by Al Jardine which sat uneasily on ‘Pet Sounds’) preceded the classic chiming intro to ‘Wouldn’t it be nice’ . Strangely, the same fly that zoomed into her Ladyship’s eye then attacked my eye too! How bizarre!   No let up in the party atmosphere, with ‘Then I kissed her’, ‘ California Girls’ , before a poignant ‘God only knows’ featuring the vocals of Carl Wilson on a back drop. The best single ever made?  It is for me. ‘Pisces Brothers’ is a surprise inclusion, but ‘Good Vibrations’ certainly is not. ‘Kokomo’ was a surprise US No.1 in 1988, and ‘Help me Rhonda’, ‘Do you wanna dance’, ‘Barbara Ann’ and ‘Surfin’ USA’ brought a hit-packed set to a close.

Encore featured ‘Wild Honey’ and Roy Wood came back out for ‘Fun, fun, fun’.   So what about the scores from the judges?  It was far better than I expected, close to 10 out of 10.  OK, maybe not quite up with what for me was one of the best gigs I have ever seen (The Beach Boys at Wembley in 1975, blowing Elton John completely away), but well up there. Was there anything missing? ‘In my room’, ‘I can hear music’, ‘Heroes and Villains’  maybe, but that would be nit-picking.

Mike Love (and Mr Johnston) have assembled an excellent touring Beach Boys outfit (as have Graham Gouldman and David Nelson with 10cc and the New Riders of the Purple Sage respectively). All the hired hands sing and play really well. They put on a great performance of Beach Boy classics, and if you can’t quite come to terms with the manner in which Mr Love has conducted his affairs, remember Her Ladyship’s mantra. ‘It’s the art, not the artist’. People such as Tony Hancock, Steve McQueen, John Denver, Leonard Rossiter and John Thaw were notoriously (allegedly)  ‘difficult’ ( Van Gogh too?), but it doesn’t stop people liking their craft. And, dare I say it, I thought Gary Glitter was great!  How does that fit in?!

A brilliant concert, one that I only discovered by chance and would have been gutted to have missed.

* I am always aware that I may make some factual errors in my reviews, but I don’t get paid for the reviews. So interesting that the York press featured a brief review stating that the Roy Wood contribution was ‘Blackberry Way’!!  And presumably the person is a paid member of staff.  So …a ) I am wrong, it wasn’t ‘Fire Brigade’ or b) The reporter was there and is  ridiculously erroneous or c) The reporter gave his/her press pass to a friend , who also hasn’t got a clue, and subsequently gave his/her  partner in crime duff info .   I can assure you the answer is not a).


Summertyne Festival, Post Script

On reflection, maybe I was being just a bit too negative regarding the free Sunday concert (see previous post). In fact, I reckon that paying to see Chuck Prophet on Friday night, then paying to see The Jayhawks on Saturday night, then paying to see The Bluefields straight after in the smaller hall, plus watching 3 free afternoons , then going home Sunday tea-time would have made a very good 3 day festival line-up, good enough  to challenge anyone else! But we couldn’t.

It was a shame that we have to book accommodation, and Friday and Saturday in a hotel was beyond us…but Sunday night wasn’t, so that is what we did.

Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band next year please, plus Pure Prairie League, New Riders of the Purple Sage and Poco.   Now that IS authentic Americana.


Summertyne Americana Festival. The Sage, Gateshead. 20.07.2014

Sunday afternoon, free outside 7 hour concert.

Midday, first up are local outfit Fickle Lilly. Described as ‘swinging jazz, hot country and sizzling blues’. Not a bad choice of words, although I struggled to find much evidence of ‘country’. Lots of rock ‘n’ roll though. Bit of Kirsty McColl, a snatch of ska via ‘Monkey Man’ and plenty of banter. A good start.

Young blues man, Dan Owen, is next. Kicking off with ‘Walking Blues’ he follows it with a couple of original songs, complete with energetic percussion via his two feet. His husky voice did indeed throw a few people, but after a while his faux American growl started to grate on me a bit. ‘Little Red Rooster’and ‘Girl from the North Country’ got an airing, but his final offering ‘Ballad of Hollis Brown’ maybe went on just a bit too much?  Most there gave him a great roar of applause though, so I was in a minority.

Buffalo Skinners. First three songs featured three different lead vocalists, and their final number featured a fourth. OK, The Eagles have four vocalists too, as do CSNY, but these lads are not quite in their league! At times , they were decidedly iffy. ‘Infectious concoction of 60s rock’n’ roll, country and folk’??  No, not quite, Mr Programme Man. Her Ladyship started to read her latest Dean Koontz book and then went for a walk. Bass was far too loud too. Sorry lads, not for me.

Martin Stephenson. Local lad made (fairly) good, still got a cult following long after his work in The Daintees. Now he IS infectious!!  Merciless Chubby Brownish taunting of anyone careless enough to walk past him, and although Her Ladyship reckoned the banter was great, she thought he should have delivered the songs without it.  Decent songs though, with a blast of Doc Watson to finish and a tribute to Alan Hull.

Danny and the Champions of the World. Saw them at Cropredy once, reckoned they were okay, but nothing startling. Can’t really agree with ‘Authentic, heart-on-sleeve soulful Americana’ though!!  I reckon they are closer to Neasden than Nashville. (They do have a pedal steel though). A song about Elvis and Colonel Parker seemed to to go on forever, as did their next song. And that was it.

I draw slow. Programme notes returned to more sensible description ( mentioning Appalachian, Irish traditional and bluegrass). Bass player’s instrument self-destructed during first number but they weren’t fazed. Couple of numbers sounded a bit samey, but they went down well.

Finally, Davina and the Vagabonds. Word ‘jazz’ mentioned in the programme, not a good start for me!  I’m too young for this type of stuff, and I certainly prefer Cheap Trick doing ‘Ain’t that a shame’ to this version. We got some excruciating vocal/trumpet interplay which had us heading for the exit. From inside we got the sound  of ‘I’d rather go blind’ being dismembered so headed off to the Crown Posada for refreshments.

Overall, the music wasn’t all to our taste. Previous events have featured Tom Russell and The Handsome Family, but there wasn’t anyone in their league today.  BUT, it is a free show, so top marks to the organisers on that front. I am sure we’ll be back next year and, to the lady behind us who hollered approval of every act, remember that it wouldn’t do for us all to have the same opinion.


Do$ch. Duck and Drake, Leeds. 13.07.2014

Sunday gig, which is great for us as we don’t have to bale out at half-time for the last bus home.

So, no messing, Mr Bartram starts up with his great, off-the-wall guitar intro, which made me think of their fellow Sheffield person, Monty Python’s Michael Palin being here and saying ‘NO ONE expects…Route 66’. A cracking start, and if anyone there had a 40 year-old Dr Feelgood set-list, much of what followed would be more than familiar. ‘Hog for you baby’, ‘All through the city’, ‘Roxette’, ‘I can tell’, ‘Going back home’, ‘Back in the night’ and ‘She does it right’  were all blasted out, with Mr Bartram dashing around the room wielding his Telecaster.  Fans of the MK 2 Feelgood line-up weren’t left out either, via ‘Down at the Doctors’ and ‘Milk and Alcohol’, and we also get Wilko’s ‘Dr Dupree’.

They are far from just a Feelgood tribute act though, and they throw in some of their own distinctive songs about… a Jaguar, rebuilding motorcycles, working down the pit (complete with audience headlamps), the loss of smoking rights, the women in their lives and being seventeen.

Classics such as ‘Slow Down’, ‘Werewolves of London’, ‘Please don’t touch’ , ‘Jack the Ripper’, ‘I can tell’ and ‘Walking the dog’ are all do$ched up for us too and although there was a football match on in South America, the artistry here on view made it a minor intrusion.

We’ve seen Do$ch many times in the past decade, with differing rhythm sections, and they have never failed to deliver the goods. We both reckoned that this time they even surpassed their usual peerless performance.  Her Ladyship managed to remain seated for most of the night, but ‘Back in the night’ proved too much for her ambience!

Come back again soon Andrew, please.

Grillstock. Manchester. 29.6.2014

Our second year coming to Grillstock. First impression, with beer at £4.50 a pint isn’t great! Cans at £4.00 !?  Bit naughty. Does David Cameron think people in Leeds are going to be dashing over here on a new HS3 to pay that much?

Anyway, some youngsters are making a row on the smaller stage while the main stage starts. Ok, only a soundcheck, but there was still an overlap of some minutes. All around us were querying the (lack of) organisation by having the 2 stages only a few yards apart.  Richie Syrett (?) is the man on the main stage. He and his group seem to play that early 70s soft rock epitomised by Matthews Southern Comfort and America, and even though the smaller stage has finished , why are we getting music over the tannoy to interfere with the main stage?!

Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band.  There are 8 reasons why we came here today, and coming onstage are reasons 1,2 and 3. I stumbled upon the good Reverend and his cronies a couple of years ago and was looking forward to seeing them in the flesh. Various attempts to categorise them use the words blues, Americana and hillbilly. I am not going to try. Check them out on Youtube would be my advice. I would suggest, however, if there is anyone still out there who bought Captain Beefheart’s ‘Safe as Milk’ LP back in the 60s on a budget label…and (like me) has a cd copy in the car, go and see them.    We got much of what they have been playing Stateside (why can’t they bring Delfest to Yorkshire?!), ie ‘My old man’s drunk again’, ‘Easy come , easy go’, ‘Devils look like angels’, the saucy ‘Front Porch Trained’, ‘Clap your hands’, ‘Pot roast and kisses’, ‘Mama’s fried potatoes’, Bo Diddley’s Willie Dixon-penned ‘You can’t judge a book…’ , finishing off with ‘Two bottles of wine’.   The Reverend’s hillbilly persona belies a stunning virtuosity on his many stringed instruments and Mrs P on washboard is a great foil.  Great entertainment. If your idea of live music is paying £50.00 to see the Australian Pink Floyd and telling everyone how they sound just like the real thing, that’s your prerogative. But this lot just might not be for you!

Urban Voodoo Machine. More people on stage than UB40, playing ‘Gypsy Blues Bop ‘n’ Stroll’. I couldn’t work out exactly what audience they are aiming at, or who exactly would buy a cd . They certainly weren’t lacking in confidence re their merchandise, they must have had a bigger range of T-shirts than the Rolling Stones. Seemed very accomplished and went down well though.

Then got a long award ceremony for the various food categories. OK, the event is ‘Meat Music Mayhem’ so fair does.

Hayseed Dixie. Reasons 4,5,6 and 7 for our visit  (reason 8 was grandson-sitting).  We saw HD quite a lot in the middle of the last decade, and I was unaware that the Reno brothers had left fairly recently. It seems they are now in Reno and Farrell, although I suspect that bluegrass purists would add ‘The Next Generation’ maybe? Did they leave because, having turned 50, they wanted to do it ‘properly’ and dress in shirts and ties like the Kentucky Colonels? Anyway, thanks for many fun years boys.   We got the tried and tested covers ‘ Dirty Deeds…’, ‘You shook me all night long’, ‘War Pigs’, ‘Paranoid’, Poison’, ‘Ace of Spades’, a brilliant 100mph ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’/’Let’s get it on’. A classical tease preceded ”Fat Bottom Girls’, with ‘Walk this way’ , ‘Duelling Banjos’ and ‘Highway to Hell’ closing proceedings. Interspersed were a few originals, incl ‘Poop in a jar’.   So how were they? I was a touch underwhelmed. I think a bit due to having to move back from the front, where the sound was a bit piercing, to nearer the back where some young men were messing about and getting on a lot of people’s tits. The ‘new’ members?  The mandolin man ran around a lot , and stuck his tongue out. The banjo man didn’t. (He was like Bill Wyman with a banjo). Still spot-on musically, and even though a one trick pony, it is a good trick.   They have spawned an entire industry of similar acts, eg The Bad Shepherds, Everly Pregnant Brothers and ‘Barsteward Sons of Val Doonican’, so much thanks for that.  The days of our paying to see them in their own right have gone, I fear, but they are great festival fare.

Overall, some small reservations but a good day out.