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.

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.

The Great British Folk Festival. Butlins. Skegness. 2-5 December 2016

Last review of the festival was 2012, we haven’t been since. We decided to give it another go, as the line-up looked much better than what was offered from next January’s Rock and Blues Festival. Got there in good time and went for a couple of heartstarters in The Front Room.

Friday. First on is Kelly Oliver . (guitar, vocal), to quote a Richard Thompson lp.  Mixture of traditional and original songs. Pleasant voice, there was no danger of the ladies sat near us joining in…or even paying attention. One was doing patchwork, the other crocheting.   Her Ladyship’s stomach was making noises like a pitbull with piles, so went for our evening meal.               Cara Dillon. Missed her last time , in favour of Iain Matthews, so was determined to check her out. Plenty of original songs, including ‘Shotgun down the Avalanche’. Her group included husband Sam Lakeman and well-regarded folkie John Smith. We both switched off a bit when she went into Christmas mode, but woke up when Joni Mitchell and The Pretenders got airings. ‘Beautiful Star of Bethlehem’ was the first of many ‘singalong’ requests during the weekend.           Oysterband.    One reason why we chose this weekend.   To say they are absolutely ‘the business’ is preaching to the converted or the blissfully unaware. If you amongst the latter, put them on your bucket list . Mixture of older and newer songs, ‘Walking down the Road with You’ had their devotees at the front in full voice and there was an interesting re-vamp of ‘Oxford Girl’. ‘Granite Years’ has stood the test of time, but no room for ‘Bells of Rhymney’ despite Her Ladyship’s pleas.  A great performance. Interestingly, I picked up a couple of 1993  ‘Folk Roots’ magazines from the library in Castleford (home of John Jones’ mother’s family). ‘ Oyster Band’ featured on the front cover and there was a piece inside re their ‘Holy Bandits’ lp. They were big news in the folk world as long as a quarter of a century ago. Donovan’s ‘A Gift from a Flower to a Garden’ was advertised too, as was ‘Intuition’ an lp featuring 6 female artists including a certain 19 year old young lady recently made a Freeman of Barnsley. Sorry, no prize for her identity.              Los Pacaminos (feat Paul Young).    A couple of our friends were keen to see them, being Paul Young fans. I warned them that we have seen them before and it won’t be a Paul Young show at all.   Basically a Tex-Mex type outfit with Paul Young one of 3 vocalists.   Standards like ‘Tequila’, ‘Wooly Bully’ and ‘La Bamba’ were featured, but I reckon the advertising was a bit economical by not emphasising that this NOT a Paul Young show. They were…ok .      We had missed the latest incarnation of Lindisfarne, they clashed with Oysterband, but I collared Rod Clements later on , who kindly signed my ‘Dingley Dell’ cd cover. (My late cousin Alan Brown gets a name check on the Family Tree). Re the Lindisfarne story, we know some fans from the early 70s who regard the situation as a soap opera on a par with Eastenders, has anyone called it North-Eastenders yet?  If not, I claim it. Lindisfarce even? It was refreshing to see Mr C the following morning , duly waiting in line for breakfast with the proletariat . Would Bob ‘Man of the People’ Geldof do the same on Sunday morning , or send a minion to queue up in his place which I believe he did at an airport check-in desk?    The ‘larger than life’ DJ played Fairport’s most famous song, calling it ‘Meet ME on the Ledge’. She later referred to Ray Davies’s ‘Harry Rag’ as ‘Henry Rag’.

Saturday. Having just mentioned Lindisfarne , first up were The Pitmen Poets. One of them is Billy Mitchell, no not an Eastender but a North-Eastender. Also part of the Lindisfarne story…and Lindisfarne Story!  The flyer says ‘An epic journey through the life and times of the people who made their living in the Northumberland and Durham coalfields. ‘ . Bob Fox, Jez Lowe and Benny Graham joined Mr M and did what it says on the can.  Her Ladyship reckoned it was like listening to her late grandfather, a Durham miner.  She thought they were wonderful, she was not alone.          Gary Fletcher Band.  The Blues Band bassist was keen to say he was not going to churn out a lot of 12 bars, he has a day job to do that. All good musicians, but we left after about 20 minutes, it just seemed to lack a bit of purpose. Quite a few left too, to check out Gryphon on the other stage, but there was a worrying stampede in the opposite direction.   Onstage were the afore-mentioned veteran folkies, reformed to present their mediaeval noodlings. Very much an acquired taste, I fear. We didn’t acquire much. We lasted about as long as ‘The Directory of Italian Second World War Heroes’.                          David Knopfler and Harry Bagdanovs.    DK left Dire Straits after the first 2 lps and his onstage patter and occasional interview reveal that he is very much incommunicado with his brother. He tells us there were 2 writers in the group…but only for about 25 minutes.  What he should  really be doing is thanking his more talented elder brother for making him a millionaire. His songs all sound like they could have been out-takes from a Dire Straits lp or MK’s ‘Sailing to Philadelphia’ and his vocal style is strangely familiar.  A strange act for a Folk Festival, he is also on at next year’s Rock and Blues Festival. Coincidentally, he is on the Rock Artist Management roster (see reviews passim). Having said all that, he and his chum were ok.                     Kate Rusby. First of her annual Christmas show dates.  We are both fans, but would have preferred her ‘regular’ show.  Her Ladyship went , out of curiosity, to check out Bob Geldof. She came back saying he was very good and the joint was rocking.            Itchy Fingers.  Local lads made good, last year’s Introducing Stage favourites.  Good end -of-night dancing stuff. 50’s swing style, Her Ladyship especially liked the percussionist’s armoury.

Sunday.  Chris Jagger’s Acoustic Roots.  Her Ladyship had gone off to see one of her favourites Fake Thakray..the recipient of the Annual Programme Spelling Mistake Award. But I stopped for Mr J. ( Fiddle, stand-up bass and acoustic guitar. Had that Parisian cafe feel to it.) Things quickened up with a Cajun number.  Proceedings slipped back into Stephan Grappelli mode for ‘Lights of the City’.   I enjoyed ‘Long Black Veil’. which the Clarence White-era Byrds used to do.   He has a good onstage patter, with very little reference to his more famous/infamous brother.    Question. What common human bodily function can Mick Jagger (according to Chris) not perform?  * Answer at the end             Slim Chance.   Saw them last time they were here. Similar set, mixing mainly old Ronnie Lane songs like ‘How Long’, ‘Debris’,  ‘The Poacher’, ‘You’re so Rude’ and ‘Ooh La La’ with some current songs.   Great good-time afternoon act for any festival.     Went out into the Pavilion and caught a bit of Crumbling Ghost, who would have been more at home at the Cambridge Rock Festival ,having  a female-fronted 5-piece.  Mind you, you could say the same about an OAP with a Black Rebel Motorcycle Club t-shirt!.       Kasim Sulton.   Another strange choice. ( Her Ladyship nipped off to check out Jona Lewie, she didn’t stay long). He has a CV almost as long as a list of reasons why Donald Trump should not be let anywhere near a building with a Zip Code 20500.   Just Kasim plus acoustic guitar, he played original songs, plus numbers from his times with The Cars, Utopia and Blue Oyster Cult. An acoustic snatch of ‘Godzilla’ was the second time we had heard the song at Skeggy, the first being via Blue Coupe (see earlier review). Both times preceded by Her Ladyship bellowing out the title.  Did ‘Across the Universe’ too.  Would have brought my Utopia cds to sign if I’d have known he was on.        Donovan. Now 70, the 60s folk troubadour gave us his familiar, fairly chronological trip through his 60s singles and lp tracks. Don, it is a touch immodest to refer to your first 2 lps as ‘iconic’.   His voice, sadly, has not always weathered well  and his phrasing during ‘Remember the Alamo’ and ‘Hurdy Gurdy Man’ was particularly dodgy. But anyone who has seen Bob Dylan live since 1992 has witnessed some terrible vocals!  Pretty much all of his hit singles from the 60s, sadly no place for the 70s and Her Ladyship’s favourite ‘The Intergalactic Laxative’.  Plenty of cds and vinyl on sale, but is it just a bit naughty charging a fiver more for a signed copy?           Holy Moly and the Crackers. Did I hear them being announced as ‘All the way from Newcastle’?  Donovan had just come all the way from New York…and not the New York up in County Durham.    7-piece, featuring 4 with facial hair and 3 without. The 3 girls were armed with trombone, fiddle and accordion. Unusual genre for relatively young musicians but a good end-of -fest choice. Not enough to keep us from our appointment in Chateau Snoozeau though.

All in all , a very good weekend. Some great acts , some a bit less than great. So a few extra thoughts

  1. Staff. All very efficient and friendly. Apart from one barman who overcharged Her Ladyship. He wouldn’t admit it, and she went back the following day to have another go and called for the manager. She got her refund!
  2. Artists. Pretty good, although difficult to see some as ‘folk’
  3. Disabled access. Ridiculous on first night where wheelchairs couldn’t get past people sitting on the floor.  At one point on final night though, I was surrounded by 3 Sherman tanks plus ‘carers’ One of them nearly ran over my bloody foot. . Well done to the man who was sitting and played hell when one of them just stood right in front of him.  All for equality , but it is not a bloody one way street.
  4. Heat.  I had to clap during Chris Jagger’s set just to keep warm.
  5. Queues. Even worse than before. Sunday evening, doors open at 7.00pm. Queues started at 4.30pm!!! Two and a half bloody hours!!
  6. Floors. The Front Room pub was like walking on treacle, and all the venues were like that. Her Ladyship said one of the toilet floors was filthy.
  7. Food. Perfectly fine, has been for ages.

Still a good value  and popular weekend

*Whistle

Onboard the Craft. Stoke Prior. 9-10.9.2016

Our second OTC festival and last year’s review shows we enjoyed it.  Weather forecast looked windy so we chose to take our middle size tent, which turned out to be a spectacularly poor decision! The stage is inside the County Club , with camping on the adjoining field.   So…

Friday. First on is Tom Spacer. One man show , a bit like Don Partridge does Rave.         BB Lonedog.  Another one man band, but without his predecessor’s effects.  In a strange coincidence, we were discussing how Her Ladyship had ordered a ‘Feed Your Head’ t-shirt and had arranged to pick it up here. Sadly the t-shirt man hadn’t turned up…and BB launched into ‘White Rabbit’, the very same song which inspired the t-shirt.  ‘Locomotive Breath’ went down well too.       Wizards of Delight.   Back to a regulation 5-piece rockers line-up. They brought to mind Def Leppard when they started up and occasionally got funky in a Black Crowes vein.  Her Ladyship detected a hint of the theme tune from Ulysses, which our kids used to watch. Very good, we both liked them.       PRFB.  All instrumental foray into the cosmos.            Dr Hasbeen. The good doctor and his chums informed us early on about those little green men. Archetypal space rock with a dash of punk.            Neck.   Irish music played by Irish men.  At least one up on the plethora of Plastic Paddies which the Pogues and the Levellers have spawned.  I know I have been in possession of my aural faculties for coming up to old age pension class, but I never understood a bloody word of what the singer said all night.  Their fast and furious version of ‘Fields of Athonry’ is a staple of their set and they have a good following. Rhythmic Raymond was in serious groove mode. I am not a big fan of this stuff and I did actually understand one word the man said. ‘Punk’.  We got the Clash’s ‘White Main in Hammersmith Palais’ and it annoys me how the Clash acquired this punk gods status. Joe Strummer was the son of a Foreign Office diplomat who had already been playing and recording  semi-pro at least with the 101’ers. Paul Simonon was the son of an amateur artist and a librarian and was a wannabe artist. Mick Jones had already been treading the boards in various groups. Topper Headon who replaced original drummer Terry Chimes was a jazz fan and had been in a prog rock outfit that supported Supertramp.  Quite a bit removed from the working class, poverty-stricken, 3-chord DIY outfits that ‘punk’ was all about. And , like Dire Straits, Eric Clapton, 10cc and Steely Dan they latched onto reggae as being ‘cool’. OK, rant over.  And to cap it all, Her Ladyship was batting vainly against catching the Last Train to ZZZsville. I was struggling too, so we had to give Psi Gong a miss and were soon in bed.  Sorry lads, was looking forward to it.

Saturday.  My decision re tent type had proved to be as good as my decision to put a tenner on Middlesbrough to win the Premiership. It rained like hell during the night and our tent (mainly Her Ladyship’s half) was like a swimming pool.  Emergency repairs and off to catch  John the Baptist and the Second Coming. Invisible bass player, very earthy vocal style. Very quirky but good musically and interesting visually. A good start.           Silver Trees. A very, very long opening instrumental based on E and D chords. Female singer on guitar, it was more than a touch soporific. The Velvet Underground set the mould 50 years ago, and did it much better.            Buff.   3-piece power trio line-up, but with spacey effects. Imagine Motorhead with the guitar pedal stuck on ‘cosmic’ setting.  (Although I have to say that there were times when Lemmy had got his goolies in a set of mole-grips, but it didn’t detract from the set.)  They came from ‘up North’ and were an enjoyable row, albeit occasionally over my ageing head!    Good blokes, thanks for posing for a photo for Her Ladyship!         Do Not Panic.   A Hawkwind tribute act from God’s own county , specifically York.  We have seen them before in Castleford, when we thought they were good.  So we were interested in what Rhythmic Ray thought , as he loathes copy acts and is a huge Hawkwind fan!  They actually passed the test, I saw Ray taking photos and having a bit of a twirl.  The bassist having a Motorhead-era Lemmy appearance is definitely anachronistic, but they finished strongly with ‘Urban Guerilla’ and ‘Silver Machine’. They encored (and soundchecked) with ‘Needle Gun’ which Hawkwind rarely play.  Probably the biggest crowd of the weekend.             Babal.  Very heavy on the visual aspect, with a female singer and female side-kick and Ming the Merciless on guitar.  He had a style reminiscent of Earl Slick in his Bowie period.   Very entertaining, they put a lot of thought , time and work into the show.               Third Quadrant. 80s prog outfit who reconvened a few years ago. Bassist had that very 80s (and,sorry,  awful!) sound.   Somewhat more grizzled now, of course, I assume they are not intent on conquering the world but are doing it for pleasure. Hopefully not on the basis of our hearing the guitar or drums, which were both non-existent early on.  Bloke behind us with a Bearded Theory t-shirt had nodded off, we decided to go and sit outside.             Heard the duo that is the Magick Brothers start up.  Violin plus keyboards/vocalist who also did some didgeridooing.   Singer told us that they only played one gig last year.             The Fierce and the Dead.  Early announcement from this 4-piece that it was to be all instrumentals.  They already have 2 cds and 2 eps.  For me, desperately crying out for a singer and lyrics.      Zub Zub.   Another lot with collective laryngitis it seems , after about 30 seconds I asked Her Ladyship to wake me up in about  an hour, or 59 minutes past Rave o’clock.                       Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash.   Apologies to any particular person if I have got the name not quite right. It seems to have changed a couple of times and I didn’t quite catch the announcer’s speech, so I took the name off my copies of New Live Dates Vol 1 and Volume 2.      They opened their ‘festival’ set with the title tune from their recent award-winning lp (which means the name of the group is not Wishbone Ash). Then pretty much back into the 70s. ‘The King will come’, ‘Warrior’, ‘Throw down the Sword’, ‘FUBB’, ‘Mystify Me’ (from the latest lp, very much in classic Wishbone Ash style), ‘You see Red’, ‘Blind Eye’, ‘Living Proof’, ‘Doctor’ and ‘Jailbait’.  Martin’s vocals held up pretty well ,and he gets good support from Danny and Tim.

A cracking end to a very good weekend. Ticket price good. The beer was reasonably priced, and the staff were really friendly. Very little noise on the campsite at night. The portaloos were fine. Security? Didn’t really need any. All very calm and serene.  There seems to be a change of venue for next year according to the poster. Any reason why? This is a great little site.

Her Ladyship forgot her camera. Photos were taken, but using her phone.