Category Archives: Live reviews

We see a couple of bands each month, apart from over the summer months where we see a couple of dozen. Here’s what we thought of them.

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 the Wood Brothers,  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…

Not the first review I have done on these lads, but like the belated ad from the Grove Inn says, it won’t be a free gig for much longer.

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.

 

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.

Recent activity

Not much at all, sadly.  We chose not to go to Skeggy Rock and Blues, we didn’t rate the line-up. Not been anything else in the ticket drawer either.

Am sure I can find something to rant about though!

Jack Sabbath. Duck and Drake. 28.01.2017

On Thursday 26 January, the Leeds Arena had Black Sabbath on as part of their ‘final’ tour.  Her Ladyship has been a fan of early Sabbath since the beginning, but having listened to some recent concert recordings she reckoned that Ozzy would have been too embarrassing so didn’t want her fond memories scarred by going. So we didn’t.

So, coincidentally, Yorkshire’s No 1 Sabbath tribute act (their words) were at the Duck and Drake so we gave them a go.

They were there early, set up and soundchecked at about 8.50 pm. The vocalist started up and we turned to each other with that ‘ Am I imagining this?’ look.  He was singing in a completely different key to what his bandmates were playing. The Clash sprang to mind, ‘Should I stay or should I go?’. The beer was good, as always, so we decided to wait for the gig proper.

But it was much of the same. It was so bad Her Ladyship was crying with laughter.  It really was so spectacularly off-key we were wondering if it could have been a deliberate Les Dawson-like display.

We have seen some pretty awful people on various stages over the decades but even a day later I am still wondering how they have got t-shirts, a website and loads of (admittedly shit-faced) people cheering and singing along.

And for those out there who are of the ‘If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all’ mindset, the musicians were fine. They seemed to play all the right notes and played with much enthusiasm.  The singer was hugely enthusiastic but it needs to be pointed out that his singing was as flat as Mother Teresa’s baps. Surely his bandmates must hear it? (And no ‘problem with monitor’ excuse please).

Nothing would have pleased me more to have been able to post a glowing review but I am not going to be disingenuous.

Update. 8 Feb 2017.  Bass player has decided to leave.

Great British Rock and Blues Festival 2017. Butlins, Skegness

First time for many a year that there is no review, because we chose to give it a miss this year.

Her Ladyship’s glances on Facebook over the weekend revealed quite a lot of ‘wonderful weekend’ comments, but there seemed to be a lot more ‘disappointing weekend’ comments. (The actual adjectives used in the latter were somewhat more earthy).

Whatever your opinion, get onto Butlins and express it.

I did hear a brief snatch of the expanded Nine Below Zero, featuring a female vocalist. Someone reckoned it was good, but please don’t try and enforce that opinion on us.  9BZ…R.I.P.

Long Ryders.10.11.2016. New York

The Long Ryders gig in Leeds earlier this year was one of my favourites of 2016 (see earlier review). However I wasn’t at the Bowery Ballroom in NYC for this one.

The reason it is here is courtesy of http://www.nyctaper.com.  It is a great sounding recording of the Long Ryders in full flight on their latest reunion tour.  The set list is slightly different to the Leeds gig, but is a really good example of their free-flowing playing with no record company pressures.

Sure they have a definitive box set to plug, which means they could have played for twice the 90 minute set and still missed somebody’s favourite song.

No need for a blow-by-blow account of the show, the set-list will follow. Go to the website (as above) and download the entire gig , fans won’t be disappointed. There is also a Glenn Tilbrook solo 2014 gig there , but ‘don’t dillydally on the way’.  Older recordings (eg Roger Waters) have ‘expired’.

Thanks again to http://www.nyctaper.com

Set list.   Tell it to the Judge on Sunday/Lights of Downtown/A Stitch in Time/Gunslinger Man/You don’t know what’s Right/Years long ago/Run Dusty Run/Ivory Tower/The Light gets in the Way/Masters of War/Two kinds of Love/I want you Bad/I had a Dream/And she Rides/Final Wild Sun/Man of Misery/You just can’t ride the boxcars anymore/Sweet Mental Revenge/State of my Union/On the way home/Looking for Lewis and Clark

2016 Musical Summary

No more tickets in the cupboard so…

  1. Best gig. Some really good ones, especially in the spring. And from US visitors. Television, Flaming’ Groovies, Long Ryders, Dan Stuart and Corky Laing all deserve plaudits, but outstanding was Neil Young and Promise of the Real.
  2. Best festival. We enjoyed them all, in their own ways. In a photo finish, first place to Blind Cat.
  3. Worst performance. Not ‘worst’, let’s say ‘disappointing’. Nine Below Zero at A new Day Festival.
  4. Biggest surprise. Acoustic version of ‘Godzilla’ by Kasim Sulton.
  5. Could have been even better.  If the great Webb Wilder could have brought his full group.
  6. Most annoying concept.  Great British Rock and Blues Festival deciding that their audience should be subjected to jazz. It looks like they have had a rethink.