Monthly Archives: May 2017

The Della Grants. The Grove Inn, Leeds. 20.5.2017

Some time ago, the Della Grants were on the Duck and Drake website, and on their own website as appearing there on the 20 th May. The D&D site then changed  to a group ‘Silence’. Seemingly the DGs were now due to be at the Grove (which was a surprise to the DGs!). Websites duly changed, then the AllStar45s announced that THEY were  playing on the 20th, as did the Grove website!  Confused? However, it was finally confirmed by all that the DGs were indeed down for the Grove.  We are not alone in thinking that the Grove would not be big enough for them, it is a tiny room.

So we arranged to meet Tez and Janet there early, 7.00 pm. (They had made the small trip from Berwick on Tweed). And some 2 hours later, we were still the only ones in the audience! Why? Maybe because the DGs played in nearby Harrogate the night before? Confusion over who/where ?  Nevertheless, they came on to a crowd which was less than the number of Lib Dem MPs (after the last election, not the one before!)

Was there any obvious disappointment at the disgracefully small turn-out ? Absolutely not. They tore into their first set as if it were the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury. Coincidentally, they had Tony Robinson on keyboards and much-travelled  trumpet, who was also on that stage in 1999 with the Beautiful South. He has also featured on, among many others, discs by the excellent Gomez. (But not, of course, Blackadder.)

As always, a great mixture of original songs and covers. The latter included songs by Little Walter and T-Bone Walker, plus a Creedence-style ‘Midnight Special’. No funky ‘Miss You’ or ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’ this time though.  Plenty of stuff from their first ep and subsequent lp, they were absolutely spot-on. One of the best gigs here, that hardly anyone saw! (Unlike the 10,000 or so that seemed to have been at Leeds University in Feb 1970 to see The Who).

Thanks for a great gig lads, and thanks for the presents too Max. Hopefully you will come back to Leeds, and for all those people out there who believe in keeping ‘live music’ alive, where the f**k were you? No good just f**kin’ saying it…

We normally have to leave early for the last bus home. It reinforces how bloody good they were when I tell you we stopped to the end. By that time we had long missed the last bus. Her Ladyship had a day ticket and I have an old duffers’ bus pass, neither of which were of any use. I gladly paid the £20 for a taxi!!  Believe me , it was not without pain.

Her Ladyship will add pics and setlist

‘Ready Ace’ ukulele

As the festival season is just round the corner, I thought I would buy a cheap ukulele to take revenge on all the tw*ts who take bloody guitars and churn out 29 minute versions of ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door’ at 2.00a.m. Full weight tw*ts!

So I was planning a Ramones a la ukulele onslaught.  BUT, I should have read first!  The above piece of wood (I cannot call it a musical instrument) was accurately panned. It is unplayable. OK, it cost me £2.99, but I won’t be taking it back or even be giving it to another charity shop. It would be evil so to do.

It is now next to our solid fuel fire , where it will soon be put to its best use. May even ask Her Ladyship to record a video of my doing a Pete Townshend impression with it.

Paul Rodgers. ‘Free Spirit’ tour. Newcastle City Hall. 7.5.2017

Before I go any further, let me say that Her Ladyship and I are serious Free fans. If I had seen this concept announced maybe 20 years ago, when Rodgers had Geoff Whitehorn et al in tow, I would have sold a kidney for a ticket. But we saw Bad Company in Sheffield in 2002, supported by the Wetton-less Asia, and it was embarrassing. PR standing on the piano for an ‘All Right Now’ singalong. We said it was the last time…and it was.  So we did not go to this gig, especially with a price tag of 60 quid or so. The review is on the basis of an audience recording so here goes.

The guitar starts up and the man makes his entrance to wild applause (did Free ever do that!?). He starts ‘Little bit of Love’ and the drummer  bludgeons his way in. Did he think the drummer in Free was John Bonham? The guitar solo has a bum note that was, ironically, very Koss-like!  ‘Ride on Pony’ is given a similar heavy-handed treatment.

Rodgers says’ I’m sure Koss is up there smiling down’. He is probably shaking his head too. He neglected to mention the other dead original of course. ‘Travelling Man’ has PR forgetting the words and a less-than-subtle outro.  ‘Be my Friend’ shows that Rodgers has forsaken his youthful rasp and replaced it with a crooner-like delivery. And for those of you who still fill up listening to Paul Kossoff on the ‘Free Live’ version, this is not for you.

According to Rodgers, ‘Soon I will be Gone’ was never played live. Those of you out there with live recordings from the Tetsu and Rabbit era may beg to differ. ‘ Song of Yesterday’ suffers from being too heavy and ‘Travellin’ in Style’ could have done with a bit more of an acoustic feel. First singalong of the night (again, did Free indulge in singalongs?).  I only have one live version of ‘Love you So’, where PR goes a bit Mariah Carey. One of my favourite Free songs, which should be left fairly and squarely on ‘Highway’

‘Come together in the morning’ was a regular feature in the Free Mk 2 set, before it got butchered for one of the Free compilations (by the producer).  ‘My Brother Jake’ featured an attempt at recreating Fraser’s jaunty piano and Kossoff’s minimal contribution (by then he was merely ‘the guitarist’). Another singalong.  ‘Stealer’ started out promisingly, and the guitarist wisely avoided the bone-cruncher chords that Kossoff used at times.

Then it is ‘Mr Big’. For me, there are certain rock songs that should remain with the original perpetrators, and this is one of them. It was effectively a tour-de-force for Fraser and Kossoff. See also ‘And you and I’, ’21st Century Schizoid Man’ and ‘Sister Ray’. Good topic for the pub tonight.  ‘Woman’ was clumsy and too fast. ‘Fire and Water’ had a similar ‘feel’…all the right notes in the right order but soul-less. And Rodgers still not out of 2nd gear really. Main set finishes with ‘The Hunter’, taken at the ‘Tons of Sobs’ speed rather than the ‘Free Live’ tempo.

First encores are ‘Wishing Well’ and ‘All Right Now’. I can’t even listen to the originals now, having seen every ‘Classic Rock’ pub covers group slaughter them. Both with obligatory singalongs, of course.   Second encores are ‘Walk in my Shadow’, again at ‘Tons of Sobs’ speed and a fairly harmless ‘Crossroads’. And that was the 90 minutes worth.

When I saw the set-list, I couldn’t have argued with it, but having listened to the show, I reckon’ Heartbreaker’ would have been a fitting finale, sadly.  ‘Free Spirit’ was exactly what it wasn’t. The right notes, mainly, but devoid of the spirit! The back-up group were basically Deborah Bonham’s group. I am not a fan of tribute acts at all, but I reckon Rodgers would have done far better using Freeway, whom we saw many years ago at Cambridge Rock Festival.

I have put the recording onto 2 cds, with a half hour or so of PR doing an acoustic set in Madrid from 2002 (including ‘All Right Now’!).  If any of our festival chums want it, it is yours, for ‘free’!  I won’t be playing it again.

Grateful Dead. Cornell University. 8.5.1977

The recording has just been released via their own ‘deadnet’ website, although it has been doing the rounds among deadheads for decades.

So is the ‘official’ recording worth lashing out mucho dollars on, either in cd or vinyl form?  5 lps or 3 cds (it doesn’t quite fit on 2 cds.)

First up, I am a fan, but I much prefer the contents of their first sets (relatively short songs which included the occasional cover version) to the second set numbers (long jamming numbers, usually involving percussion sections).

I managed to cobble together most of the first set, with ‘New Minglewood Blues’, ‘El Paso’, ‘Deal’ and the like , with 17 minute versions of  ‘Not Fade Away’and ‘Morning Dew’ from the second set onto a single cd. Plus the ‘One More Saturday Night ‘ encore.

So ‘Scarlet Begonias’, ‘Fire on the Mountain’, ‘Estimated Prophet’ and ‘St Stephen’ fell under the editor’s knife.

The set seems to have garnered semi-legendary status and generally achieves nearly all 5 star reviews from deadheads. Me?  I own up to not listening to the bits I omitted but the rest didn’t jump out and assault my wedding tackle. My favourite GD lp was ‘American Beauty’, in fact one of my favourites by anyone!  And my favourite GD live number is ‘Bertha’. Neither of which featured here. ‘El Paso’ always seemed very cheesy,  but the lengthy ‘NFA’ and ‘MD’ were pretty good.

If you have never heard the Dead, this release won’t blow you away (in my opinion). But they weren’t one of the biggest outfits in the USA for nothing, so take advantage of their generosity in allowing tapers to roll , and find some downloads.