Tom Russell. Brudenell Social Club. 26.11.2017

Not the first review of Tom Russell on the site and hopefully not the last. There have been times over the years when Tom must have been a casting director’s first choice for a dwarf in ‘Snow White, The Musical’, (the one whose name begins with a ‘G’), but he is comparatively Ken Dodd-like nowadays.

As usual, he has a new record (his 36th?)  to plug ( ‘Folk Hotel’), and we get plenty of tracks from it.  Many references to other songwriters/poets, viz. Ian Tyson, Bob Dylan, Dylan Thomas, Hank Williams, Leonard Cohen, Hank Williams… Plus an ode to JFK*.  Mr R always gives us an insight into each set of lyrics and there have never been any  Moon, June , Spoon – type songs.  I must add that there has been a number of observations about ‘The Sparrow of Swansea’ having a chord structure not unadjacent to a very popular Ralph McTell song though!

As well as the very good new songs, there are plenty of older singalongs for his public to get stuck into. ‘Tonight We Ride’, ‘Blue Wing’, ‘Stealing Electricity’, ‘St Olav’s Gate’ , ‘Veterans’ Day’ and ‘East of Woodstock…’ have all aged well. And ‘Who’s Gonna Build  Your Wall’ has taken on a whole new relevance. A bit of Johnny Cash in the encore was a reminder of how the late JC was a fan too.

A raconteur par excellence, he was on the main stage today, a much better place to be in than last time in the smaller room (the latter was akin to a bijou cinema).   His songwriting never falls below great and it makes it difficult to recommend a start point for any Russell virgins out there.

Invest in a ticket for a date on his UK tour and join those of us ‘in the know’.

*His intro to his song about JFK is interesting. It revolves around playing (American) football the day of the assassination. Mr R’s age is difficult to pin down. March 5 seems agreed but year of birth is down as 1947, 1949 or 1953, depending on which of three websites you look at. So at least two examples of ‘Fake News’ but which is correct?  Answers to Mrs. Jessica Fletcher please.



The Petty Heartbreakers.Duck and Drake. 9.11.2017

I came down on the 22nd October, to see them (two days after what would have been TP’s 67th birthday.)  Packed to the rafters with loads of people who had probably just been out and bought the ‘Greatest Hits’ cd. I left at halftime, it was too packed.

Tonight was very much back to their normal audience. Plenty in (mainly ‘real’ TP fans) , but with seats available and room to get to the bar and get served.   Started about 9.15pm, with ‘Kings Highway’ being the introduction to a first set  of an hour of songs from their first  to their 13th (and last) studio lp.  There was a cracking version of ‘So you want to be a rock n roll star’ and a great out-take from ‘Long after Dark’.  They even fitted in a couple of requests at short notice, ‘The Waiting’ (for yours truly) and ‘Breakdown’ (for Her Ladyship).

‘Walls’ is a much-overlooked number and their Thunderclap Newman cover is a regular feature.   ‘Don’t come around here no more’ brought the first hour to a close and it was time for us to go for our bus.  No doubt all the ‘hits’ to come after a short break and if it was as good as the first set a good time would be had by all.

I have said more than once that they are the only tribute act we go to see regularly.  ‘Nuff said.

But I would PAY BIG to see the wonderful Beatallica!

The Dream Syndicate. Brudenell Social Club. 1.11.2017

I checked back on my old ticket for when I saw Steve Wynn and the Miracle 3 in Leeds.  Can’t believe it was more than 14 years ago. Mr W has aged a hell of a lot better than yours truly.

Back then the opener was ‘Halloween’. I was blown away, bought cd and T-shirt!   Tonight it was the same opener, after a ‘Days of Wine and Roses’ intro (the Tony Bennett version?).  ‘Halloween’ is a great song, brilliantly using a one chord intro (D).  Long time buddy Chris Cacavas then joined them on keyboards. After that they could have played ‘Baa Baa Black Sheep’ and I would have gone home happy.   Followed up with new song  ‘The Circle’ and the set was pretty much the standard one featured in the tour so far. They have a new record out, so there was a mix of old and ( a lot of) new.  It would have been interesting to hear His Bobness’s ‘Blind Willie McTell’ which has previously been slotted in.

Rather than list all the songs, please go to  It already has the set  listed, it is a good site. Yes there are occasional inaccuracies but it relies on contributors’ memories, after all.

‘Days of Wine and Roses’ had a brilliant burst of complete silence in it and the encore featured a snatch of Tom Petty’s ‘Refugee’. A really great gig. They all looked really up for it.

Her Ladyship was also well-impressed. still fighting against jet lag having returned from her Great Wall of China Challenge.


Soft Machine . Fourth/Fifth CD

Bit of a lull in live gigs and Her Ladyship is currently doing a Great Wall of China Challenge walk…really!

I went into a charity shop and bought 3 cds for a quid.  ‘SF Sorrow’ by the Pretty Things, ‘Buffalo Springfield’, eponymous first LP but was struggling for a third. So in view of the test of endurance Her Ladyship was currently undertaking, I plumped for the above, with the intention of listening to the whole 2-on-1 disc. A similar test of endurance, I told myself. (See ‘A New Day’ review re Soft Machine)

I fell somewhat short of Her Ladyship’s endeavours. I set my stop watch but could only last 9 seconds. Pitiful, I am ashamed to concede absolute defeat.

So it will be in the camping stuff next year for a new home. Mind you, it looks brand new!

Poco. City Winery. NYC 13 Sept 2017

A very intimate venue, light years away from last night’s visit to the Barclays Centre. Ironic that back in 1970, Poco were arguably bigger than Pink Floyd in the USA. We saw them back in 76 at York University, with only Rusty Young remaining from that line-up.

Chelsea Williams opened proceedings with a brief set, starting with ‘Fool’s Gold’ from her ‘Boomerang’ lp . She got a good reception.

Not long before Poco took the stage, starting with ‘Call it love’ (including a false start!). The more recent ‘All Fired Up’ was next. There were quite a few songs from Rusty Young’s new solo lp, which was getting its official launch.  ‘Rose of Cimarron’ featured a guest appearance by Ms W, it is Her Ladyship’s favourite.  They delved into the Buffalo Springfield as well as their own first lp. The two hits from ‘Legend’ got an airing as did the ‘Neil Young’ song from ‘All Fired Up’. And , yes, I too once believed the fake news that they were brothers!

The set finished with ‘Good Feeling to Know’ and the encore was’ Keep on Tryin’.  A much more low-key event than last night, maybe we could have had one or two more slightly older songs?  Rusty’s new record and the recent-ish ‘All Fired Up’ occupied the majority of the evening. Strangely Rusty never played his pedal steel.

But a good night all in all, glad I saw them again after forty-plus years.

Roger Waters. Barclays Centre. NYC. 12 Sept. 2017

Long queues to get in, as security was very tight. 8.00pm start, we were just trying to find our seats way up in the ‘gods’ when it kicked off. Fortunately, we were given much better tickets by a female employee as Mr Waters was making his way through ‘Breathe’. ‘One of these days’ followed, and the rest of the first set featured more from ‘DSOTM’ side 1, a couple from ‘WYWH’, a chunk of new songs from his recent record and extracts from ‘The Wall’ to finish.

The second set started with two  ‘Animals’ tracks and pretty much the rest of ‘DSOTM’.  The visuals took on another dimension! Another new song was fitted in and the encore returned to ‘The Wall’, culminating with ‘Comfortably Numb’.

Mr W has assembled a pretty good team, the two girl singers are possibly the best on stage since the release of ‘DSOTM’.  His politicising may certainly have upset some of the US president’s followers!  The visual aspect of the show was stunning. At times it actually deflected attention from the stage.  In fact. it wasn’t just a ‘gig’, it wasn’t even just a ‘show’, it was a ‘phenomenon’.

At present, no shows announced for the UK, but it really is a ‘must-see’ event. He seems to have come to terms with the fact that people are there primarily to listen to classic Floyd and he gives them it in spades. His recent record sounds like it too. I tried to avoid details of the set list in case anybody is going and prefers not to know, but the internet makes the idea pointless nowadays. Same applies to Her Ladyship’s photos.

I always feel that ‘DSOTM’ is better when played continuously in its entirety, but it was still an amazing night.

Whitwell Festival of Music. Whitwell. 8-10. Sept. 2017

This was the ninth festival, but only our first.  Got there in good time and were greeted in a very friendly manner by a couple of volunteers (rather than being grunted at by some minimum wage youths).

The weekend had an eclectic feel, with a mixture of metal (Oliver/Dawson Saxon), folk (Morris and Watson, Will Whisson), reggae (Easydread), folk-punk-roots (Headsticks), rock ‘n’ roll-rockabilly (The Vegas Six), old school punk (Verbal Warning) , spoken word (Pete Drake, Attila the Stockbroker) and tribute acts (London Calling, Slade UK).  Best of Fest award went to the growling blues of the frighteningly young Tom McCartney. (This was only what we watched, of course. There was plenty more.) Unfortunately we couldn’t stay on Sunday as we were flying off to New York, check out Her Ladyship’s photos from the next review.

Decent choice of food on offer and Festival Ale @£2.50. If they can manage t-shirts @£8.00 it makes you wonder why other festivals charge £15.00.    The event is in the Community Centre (a converted school) with indoor and outdoor stages, the latter (on the old playground) only used on the Saturday. There was also a Spoken Word room.

It is a charity festival, the Arts Council funding seemingly has stopped this year? Of course, if it was in London and featured ballet and opera, it would have had millions of pounds thrown at it (and a high speed railway line to get there too).

It really is a great little festival, with profits going to charity and a small amount held over for the following year.

Looking forward to the tenth festival next year, many thanks to Neal, Val and all the unpaid volunteers that really do make it ‘Derbyshire’s Best-Kept Secret’

Late PS. Re the funding comment, the Whitwell Festival of Music Facebook page points out they have not had any for 4 years!  They also point out the critical role played by local sponsors so please check out their page for details.  Apologies for not highlighting the funding situation enough!