Monthly Archives: October 2014

Asia. The Sage , Gateshead, 28.10.2014

A small venue. Hall 2 at the Sage. Still, means you can get closer to the people on stage.

Lights go down, the ‘classical’ intro starts up, the men troop on stage to big applause, Mr Wetton picks up his bass and…nothing! No sound !  The moment is somewhat lost, but after a few minutes all is well and we are into ‘Sole Survivor’.  My favourite Asia song and I suspect I am not alone. Sadly, I am also not alone in having to say the sound was rubbish.  I could hear Carl Palmer’s snare more than anything else on stage!  Straight into ‘Wildest Dreams’, also from the first LP, before the relatively recent ‘Face on the Bridge’.  ‘Time again’ returned us to 1982, before a clutch of newer songs, ‘Valkyrie’, ‘Finger on the trigger’ and ‘I know how you feel’.  An acoustic ‘Voice of America’ from ‘Astra’ preceded Her Ladyship’s favourite ‘ Smile has left your eyes’ and it was half-time.  A very good first half , with the newer songs more than holding their own amongst the 80s classics.  John Wetton’s voice was in fine form, but, as I said earlier, the sound was very poor. Maybe it was better lower down but even Her Ladyship said that they sounded like they were playing in a biscuit tin.  A quick trip to remove some of the afternoon’s earlier refreshments, I overheard a couple of fans expressing similar sentiments re the sound (which at least reassured me it wasn’t just us)

Second half, and the excellent ‘An extraordinary life’ and ‘Gravitas’ maintain the sensible quota of newer numbers.  Geoff Downes has recently become a grandad and his solo spot reveals how criminally he is overlooked in his field. (I have to say though, Geoff,  the make-up could do with toning down!).  ‘Days like these’ from the half-hearted exploitation LP of yore was always a good song, as was Astra’s ‘Go’.  (Was it really written to order to mirror Van Halen’s ‘Jump’, as has been suggested?).  Alpha’s ‘Don’t cry’ morphed into a Carl Palmer drum solo, and being high up, it gave us the chance to see Mr P’s intricacies in full. Bloody good for an OAP!  ‘Only time will tell’ and ‘Open your eyes’ technically brought the main set to a close, but Mr W seemed to get his mates to go into ‘Heat of the moment’ without going into an encore break. Maybe the delay at the start affected the timings?

A very good performance from a very good group of musicians. Newcomer Sam Coulson is heavier than Steve Howe and in a similar way Pat Thrall made the overall sound heavier in 1990.  Mssrs Wetton, Downes and Palmer are all still giving plenty on stage and Asia’s recent studio outings have produced some creditable songs too.

Ticket prices much less than for a well-known Pink Floyd copy group! Don’t get me going , again!

Her Ladyship apologises for quality of the pictures, done on her phone. Unable to make out Geoff Downes in his drag queen get-up.

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Egypt. Boot and Shoe, Ackworth. 19.10.2014

This gallery contains 5 photos.

Egypt? You’ve never ‘eard of ’em? There are more than one outfits with the name, but go to http://www.egypt-blues.co.uk for the lowdown on this particular group. If you think back to the days of the ‘blues-rock’ power trios, then you … Continue reading

The Blazing Bobs. Medina Gardens, Marrakech. 29.09-6.10.2014

A thinly-disguised live music review, buried amongst a review of a hotel in Marrakech. I didn’t want to do it on a holiday website and have it edited or the subject of multiple comments.

Brief history lesson follows. Ever since she was 13/14, in 1968, Her Ladyship has wanted to go to Marrakech. So I booked the trip for her 60th birthday, with Thomson.  (Told you the lesson would be brief!).    I went for half board , knowing full well if it had been all inclusive , I would have been like Steve Pemberton in ‘Benidorm’!

On arrival late Monday night, a very good welcoming presentation from the hotel staff. Comments elsewhere have indicated that the first night’s top behaviour was unique and that for the rest of the week the staff were surly, especially if you were British. We found no evidence of this at all. The staff everywhere were always polite and friendly. I had brushed up on my ancient French O level just in case, and always ordered our drinks in French. (I was to have lots of practice with exactly the same sentence!). Maybe the complainants expected all the staff to be fluent in English. But it’s not hard to have a go!! Just learn to count, say ‘Hello’, ‘Goodbye’, ‘Please’, ‘Thank you’ and whatever drinks you want!  They will appreciate it.

There had been complaints about the refurb being not too good. OK, we had a bath where the surround was not quite 10 out of 10 (!), but does it matter!? Is it a major beef? Do these sad moaners watch ‘Strictly Come Decorating’!? Our room was perfectly fine. The cleaner was good and regular.

The food. Some beefs (excuse the pun) about veggie food being mislabelled . Her Ladyship is veggie and she spotted that the scrambled eggs had pieces of ham in it. Horror of horrors! It didn’t say so on the label! She didn’t make an international incident out of it, just had something else. (Fortunately she is not a blind veggie.)  The days all had a different national theme (French, Italian etc) and the choice was very good. It all tasted fine to us. Are we at fault for following Cicero’s credo that we eat to live, not live to eat? Bloody foodies!

Unfortunately, I now have to discuss the title of the posting. On Wednesday morning , I was sitting on a balcony in Marrakech, in the scorching sun, listening to a Grateful Dead concert on my mp3 player. I thought ‘ This will just do nicely, thank you’. Sadly the Dead’s ‘Deep Elem Blues’ was soon to become ‘Deep Imodium Blues’! Yes, we both got a dose of The Blazing Bobs, ie The Blazing Bob Hites, ie The Sh*tes!  Hers cleared up after a couple of days but it took until Monday morning (going home day!) for mine to subside. So I didn’t risk a Moroccan kebab, with chilli sauce, or anything other than a bit of bread and a boiled egg each day. I certainly didn’t put on any weight!  Was it just us? I overheard another couple with similar problems. However, I am inclined to give the kitchen the benefit of the doubt, as we both had a dodgy ice cream off an even  dodgier ice cream seller. We both realised it had been a bad idea.

Music. The resident duo ,Buendias,were very good. Better than the usual cheesy tosh you find at most holiday resorts (and P&O ferries!). Local musicians were included, one outfit seemed to feature a 20 minute castanet solo. (I can see why Ginger Baker decamped to Africa!).  Entertainment also included belly dancers, acrobats and a fire performer.

The staff. Thomson rep, Ahmed , was very good as was the Guest Services Manager. As I said before, no complaints here. Any suggestions for improvement?

1. Bar prices a bit steep. About £2 for a quarter litre (usually nearer a fifth).

2. Reps to give a bit more info about places being shut at certain times. Eg, we went into the ‘Square’ on Sunday, it was almost like the film ’28 Days Later’. Normally, it is mayhem. Eg, checking out on Monday when the money exchange was not open. And had I  been a few Dirhams short on my bar bill?

3. Paying £20 -odd quid for having the room for an extra few hours on check out day is not very endearing. After all, we arrived 9-ish on Monday night, so shouldn’t we have the room for exactly one week!?

But I am nitpicking. For those who like all-inclusive holidays, I would totally recommend this place. If you want sunning, sitting, scoffing, supping, swimming, splashing. it is fine. And there are no Under 16s allowed!  There is no temptation to go to a nearby bar… there aren’t any!  Before our visitation from the long-deceased lead vocalist from Canned Heat, we reckoned that all-inclusive may have been a better choice.

It all made an aging female hippy (who was too young the first time around)  very happy.After many years, she saw the’ Charming cobras in the square’ , as did Graham Nash when he wrote ‘Marrakesh Express’.