With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

Music trivia, useless info, extra added random stuff and the odd rant from me

Elkie Brooks – Barbican, York – Saturday 29th September 2018 September 30, 2018

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 4:16 pm
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I always prefer to arrive at a gig early, but for this one Catwoman (a.k.a my wife Catherine) arrived earlier than either of us had previously for any gig. We actually turned up at the Barbican on September 29th 2017, last year! I had booked the tickets in June 2017 and had wrongly assumed that the show was just a few months away! Anyway we finally made it in time and on the correct day! As a young teenager one of the many posters on my wall was of Elkie Brooks in full rock mode with Vinegar Joe on the cover of the ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Gypsies’ album. But it has taken me until now before I experienced Elaine Bookbinder singing live for the first time and oh boy was it worth it. She belts out her songs with that amazing bluesy rasp and at 73 years old she blows away many of todays young pretenders. The band all look like supremely experienced musicians and they prove that with an incredibly tight and sonically tight performance.

Elkie opened with “He Could Have Been An Army” from 1979’s ‘Live And Learn’ album and the crowd were clapping along to a military marching beat right from the off. Elkie is a magnificent interpreter of the songs of others and if Rod Stewart is the finest male interpreter of songs written by other people then Elkie is the greatest female at that skill by a country mile. The first half of the show included stunning soul workouts of “Do Right Woman, Do Right Woman” and “Warm And Tender Love” originally performed by Aretha Franklin and Percy Sledge respectively. She covered Rod Stewart’s “Gasoline Alley” and made it her own. Her performance of Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love” sent shivers down my spine and was among the best takes I have ever heard of that song. While many people consider “Superstar” a Carpenters song, and to be fair Karen Carpenter’s vocals on that track are heavenly, but the song was originally called “Groupie (Superstar)” and recorded by Delaney and Bonnie. Elkie’s arrangement of the song at the Barbican sounded much closer to the original version to me. Alongside that rather stunning collection of classic song covers Elkie also rocked out and poured her emotion into some of her greatest hits; “Lilac Wine”, “Don’t Cry Out Loud” and “Fool (If You Think It’s Over)”. The latter is a fine Chris Rea song, but let’s be honest, Elkie Brooks owns the tune now. The foundations of the building were rocked to the core with a very powerful performance of “Sunshine After The Rain”.

The second half of the show and the encore turned the volume and power up to eleven. An elongated “Pearl’s A Singer” saw the biggest audience participation of the evening for what is probably Elkie Brooks’ signature tune. It was written for her by a writing team that included classic rock n roll songwriters Lieber and Stoller and staggeringly is now more than forty years old! Among a lot of the oldies was a rather excellent new song, the theme from a new British film, ‘Finding Your Feet’. There were more covers too, Bob Seger was given a proper run for his money by Elkie on “We’ve Got Tonight”. But perhaps most outstanding for me was a very skilful run through of Prince’s “Purple Rain”. It is a brave move to decided to cover such a stone cold classic and Elkie clearly has what it takes to pull it off with great style. This was a fabulous night of entertainment from one of the finest vocalists Britain has produced!

This was the picture of Elkie Brooks that adorned my wall in the early 70s

Public Service Announcement: all photos were found via Google. Videos were all found on YouTube. If you wish to be credited for any of the photos or videos or would like them taken down please let me know.

 

Graeme Clark – National Centre for Early Music (NCEM) – York – Wednesday 5th September 2018 September 6, 2018


Thanks to those excellent people at showfilmfirst myself and the wonderful Catwoman a.k.a. Catherine had the opportunity to see Graeme Clark off of Wet Wet Wet at the National Centre for Early Music in York for just a quid each! We arrived in plenty of time to see the talented Mr Finn Paul who was the support act. Finn has a self-deprecating, engaging personality and he also has some great songs. I sensed a few influences; maybe a bit of Hozier and on “Treat Her Fair” there was definitely a trace of Finlay Quaye. My favourite song from Finn’s set was “The Watcher” which is obviously very deep and possibly quite dark too. He also included a rabble rousing cover of “The House Of The Rising Sun” and an Eddie Vedder song from the ‘Into The Wild’ soundtrack.

Then it was time for the main man of the evening Graeme Clark, former bass player and songwriter from 80s and 90s Scottish pop Titans Wet Wet Wet. Graeme is not only a great singer songwriter and an excellent performer he also excels as a raconteur. His stories about how his songs came to be and his life with Wet Wet Wet were amusing, heartfelt and very honest. It is 31 years since Wet Wet Wet broke into the UK charts with “Wishing I Was Lucky” in 1987. Their debut album ‘Popped In Souled Out’ topped the UK album chart that same year. Graeme has just released a mini album titled ‘Radio Silence’ and he showcased most of the songs from that collection here. Everyone one of them was introduced with an origin story which had the audience captivated. “Polaroid Luv”, “Fall To Pieces” and “Caledonia Soul” are gorgeous songs but none can top the power and emotion of the emotional “Ghost” with the kind of lyric that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end, in a good way. Graeme’s vocal style has echoes of Bono’s softer side and even a feel of Robbie Williams without the histrionics. A very special mention to the outstanding fiddle playing of Fiona Cuthill who added great depth to many of Graeme’s songs.

Obviously Graeme was not going to leave us without playing any of the old Wet Wet Wet hits and he began with “Goodnight Girl” a UK number one from 1991. If you thought you needed Marti Pellow’s blue-eyed soul vocal to make this song work, then think again because Mr Clark smashed it and all of us in the crowd were singing along at full volume. He told us about his love for Pellow his friend from school days as he introduced “Somewhere Somehow”. He believes that when the song was recorded it featured Pellow’s finest ever Wet Wet Wet vocal performance. I think you might be able to guess the song that Graeme closed the show with, yes it was 1994 mega smash hit, number one in the UK for fifteen weeks, “Love Is All Around”. For the record Clark said that he still loves the song. He invited the audience to join him on stage to sing along with him and about a dozen people did. It was a more than fitting finale for a really enjoyable and intimate show in a beautiful venue.

Public Service Announcement: all photos are from my cheap android phone from China. Videos are all found on YouTube. If you wish to be credited for any of the videos or would like them taken down please let me know.

 

Catherine Rocks The Cleveland Way Part 2 June 7, 2018


Regular readers and people who know me will by now be aware that my wonderful wife Catherine has embarked on a mammoth 109 mile charity walk on the Cleveland Way in the North East of England. I posted about it recently click here for part 1. Why is she doing this? Well four years ago Catherine and I were totally devastated by the loss of two children as a result of an adoption disruption. It was clear to us that the support needed by vulnerable children was just not available. There was no money and no urgency to the long-term support that was needed. It is incredibly important to both of us that the children and young people in our community have access to the support they need to thrive and to grow into happy and resilient adults. We know that we are unable to do anything now for the children we lost, but we want to try to make a difference to the lives of other children and young people. We want to do whatever we can to try to prevent what happened to our children from happening again. Please feel free to contribute toward Catherine’s target of £10,000. Her efforts so far means that she is already at 85% of that total. Click here for the link to donate.

Anything you can add to that will be invaluable to the two charities we are supporting. Those charities are The Island (Enhancing the quality of life for vulnerable children and young people in York) and SASH (Working to prevent homelessness in young people aged 16-25 in York, North Yorkshire & East Yorkshire).

The Island offers support to vulnerable 8-13 year-olds in York who are struggling to cope at home, at school, or in the wider community, or who are experiencing difficult transitions in their lives. The Island links these young people with volunteer mentors with whom they meet on a weekly basis over the course of a year (or longer if required). This allows them to develop supportive, ongoing relationships, whilst also providing them with the undivided attention and the ‘islands of space and time’ they need to increase their confidence and self-esteem, participate in worthwhile recreational activities, and move forward in their lives.

SASH run supported lodgings schemes which help young people develop the skills they need to live on their own. They provide an emergency nightstop service that makes a difference to young people’s lives when most needed.

The final leg of her journey is tomorrow, Friday 8th June where she is due to take the final step of those 109 miles at around 5:30 pm. I cannot begin to tell you how proud I am of this very special lady. I love her down to her bones and apparently those bones are aching like hell at the moment! So dig deep and contribute whatever you can 🙂 To spur you on here are a few walking related songs.

 

Catherine Rocks The Cleveland Way! May 26, 2018


Many of you who know me will by now know that my wonderful wife Catherine will very soon be embarking on a mammoth 109 mile charity walk on the Cleveland Way in the North East of England. A map of the Cleveland Way is shown at the very end of this post. Why is she doing this? Well four years ago Catherine and I were totally devastated by the loss of two children as a result of an adoption disruption. It was clear to us that the support needed by vulnerable children was just not available. There was no money and no urgency to the long term support that was needed. It is incredibly important to both of us that the children and young people in our community have access to the support they need to thrive and to grow into happy and resilient adults. We know that we are unable to do anything now for the children we lost, but we want to try and make a difference to the lives of other children and young people. We want to do whatever we can to try and prevent what happened to our children from happening again. Please feel free to contribute toward Catherine’s target of £10,000. Her efforts so far means that she is already at 46% of that total. Click here for the link to donate.

Anything you can add to that will be invaluable to the two charities we are supporting. Those charities are The Island (Enhancing the quality of life for vulnerable children and young people in York) and SASH (Working to prevent homelessness in young people aged 16-25 in York, North Yorkshire & East Yorkshire).

The Island offers support to vulnerable 8-13 years olds in York who are struggling to cope at home, at school, or in the wider community, or who are experiencing difficult transitions in their lives. The Island links these young people with volunteer mentors with whom they meet on a weekly basis over the course of a year (or longer if required). This allows them to develop supportive, ongoing relationships, whilst also providing them with the undivided attention and the ‘islands of space and time’ they need to increase their confidence and self-esteem, participate in worthwhile recreational activities, and move forward in their lives.

SASH run supported lodgings schemes which help young people develop the skills they need to live on their own. They provide an emergency nightstop service that makes a difference to young people’s lives when most needed.

Both charities need your support. They only exist because people in our community care enough to help them do what they do. Please click here to find Catherine’s Virgin Money Giving page. Now obviously this blog is essentially a music blog so I have picked ten walking themed songs (ok the first one loosely links to Catherine’s walking route) I hope that you enjoy them. In fact feel free to listen while you donate 🙂

 

 

Beans On Toast – The Crescent, York – Tuesday 8th May 2018 May 13, 2018


Having seen Beans On Toast a.k.a Jay McAllister at the Latitude Festival I knew that I would definitely take the opportunity to see him again. So as soon as I heard that he would be playing live in my adopted home city of York I was among the first in line for tickets. This gig at the Crescent was part way through a UK tour. The support for this tour is none other than Dan Lucas a.k.a Boss Caine, one of York’s finest musicians and songwriters. Boss Caine’s set was an understated masterpiece including songs new and old. He opened with “Ghosts and Drunks” an excellent new song, well new to me anyway. Perhaps my favourite was a little ditty about a friend with an addiction problem and how breakfast was with that person. It was called “Morphine And Marmalade” and it needs to be on the next Boss Caine album (are you listening Dan?). “Leaving Victoria” which Dan dedicated to Whispering Bob Harris is in my opinion one of Boss Caine’s finest tunes and it provokes so many emotions in me. While this was a Boss Caine solo acoustic set Dan was joined by a talented trumpeter for a rollicking romp through “Champagne” from his new album. This was a classic Boss Caine set that lined us all up nicely for Beans On Toast.

Beans On Toast has a habit/ tradition of releasing a new album every year on his birthday in December and this tour was to support the tenth anniversary of ‘Standing On A Chair’ his debut album from 2009. What? 2009? That’s not ten years I hear you say. Well Jay pointed out he miscalculated and hadn’t counted 2009 as year zero. But by the time he had realised everything had been booked. But 9th anniversaries are the new in thing aren’t they? As well as an incredible collection of amazing songs Jay provides some incredibly interesting between song stories. He opened with the delightful and very English “Afternoons In The Sunshine”. This was followed in quick succession by “Don’t Believe The Bullshit” and “Fuck The Smoking Ban”. Jay said that he had split the set into couplets of three songs but then he realised that couplet actually meant two not three. Self deprecation is a virtue and Beans On Toast has it in bundles. Incidentally he is now no longer in favour of fucking the smoking ban as he has given the nicotine up. He has a song about that too!

The song “Lizzie’s Cooking” (Lizzie is his partner) came about with an appearance on a German cooking TV show for which no one had told him that he was there to produce a meal from his recipe. Sticking with the culinary theme next up was “Eggs Benedict” which is in fact a song about sex with an older woman. He told a bloody hilarious story about a chant that began at a festival he had played, that chant was ‘get your dick out’. Jay tried that and almost dropped himself in it, but thankfully he lived to play another day and his tackle remained covered at all times! For me “M.D.M. Amazing” is one of my favourite Beans On Toast songs. Incredibly Jay revealed that some of the story in that song is bullshit. No way, surely  not! The magnificent Walker Sisters provided some excellent gymnastics to support the hilarious “Unlikely Gymnast”. “Nanny Mac” and “Major Oak” were poignant, beautiful and thought provoking. For “No Charlie” we were offered the chance to ‘make our own adventure’ and we chose for Jay to perform this brilliant slice of folky, acoustic reggae in a reggae voice. Bloody brilliant! I am a carnivore, but “The Chicken Song” does make you think how cruel meat processing is. Not many people have summed up the Royal Family in a song as well as Beans On Toast captures in “Harry In A Helicopter” about, yes you guessed it, Prince Harry. This was one of those wonderful gigs were I couldn’t stop smiling and singing for ages after leaving! My wonderful wife Catwoman a.k.a. Catherine absolutely loved the show as well! If you haven’t yet experienced a live set by Beans On Toast, you need to change that!

Obligatory public service announcement: all photographs were discovered via Google searches. If you are the photographer I am more than happy to credit them to you. All videos were found on YouTube.

 

Isaac Gracie – The Crescent, York – Monday 16th April 2018 April 17, 2018


Another school night, another gig at the fabulous Crescent in York. Tonight was another excellent show from Northern Radar this time headlined by Isaac Gracie. But before I give you my opinion of Mr Gracie how about a big hand for the most amazing support act Matt Maltese. He has an album coming out in June and after seeing him play live that is a very, very exciting prospect. He is like a lounge version of Rufus Wainwright who wears his politics on his sleeve in 72 point bold font. “As The World Caves In” is an incredible song and a very worthy single, a copy of which I bought on the night. Matt’s between song bonhomie and sardonic wit is wonderfully original. I think perhaps that “Guilty” was my favourite highlight, but there were many, so that might change if you ask me again. I would unreservedly pay to see Mr Maltese again.

It would be somewhat of a cliché to say that I have seen the future of rock ‘n’ roll, let’s face it Jon Landau said that about Bruce Springsteen in 1974. However I have seen a very bright future for British music in the shape of Isaac Gracie. Twenty One year old Gracie is a former chorister with the Ealing Abbey Choir. He first came to the attention of the music industry after “Last Words” a song recorded on GarageBand in his bedroom was unleashed into the world in 2015. His songs are far more mature than his years and on top of that he comes across as wonderfully affable and self-deprecating on stage. For me he has all the finest qualities of a young Jeff Buckley. I had the privilege of seeing Buckley at the Reading Festival many, many years ago and Gracie has the same qualities in his songs, performance, raw talent, passion and demeanour. Check out his cover of Radiohead’s “No Surprises” and the Arctic Monkeys “Fluorescent Adolescent” on YouTube and see the ghost of Buckley made real. My wonderful wife Catherine a.k.a. Catwoman doesn’t come to many gigs with me, but she was blown away by this one.

His first album is a truly accomplished début “Terrified”, “Last Words”, “Reverie”, “Running On Empty” and “Silhouettes Of You” all feel like classic songs that have been with you your whole life and Isaac played all of them tonight. There was not a single dud song in his set, my particular highlights were “All In My Mind” and the haunting song of sadness that is “Darkness Of The Day”. “Was our love a work of art, before the painting fell apart”, is that not one of the best lyrical couplets ever written? It is almost 46 years since I attended my first gig and there have been hundreds since then, but this is without doubt one of the finest shows that I have ever seen. If Isaac Gracie does not become a world straddling star then there is something horribly wrong with this planet.

 

Kim Wilde – Barbican, York – Sunday 15th April 2018 April 16, 2018


Tonight I had the pleasure of seeing Kim Wilde perform live. It was the first time I had seen a this fabulous artist who let’s face it is a part of UK Pop’s aristocracy. Before I tell you what I thought of her show let me say a few words about the talented support act Lawrence Hill. He is an engaging performer who has some excellent songs of his own. He also played a George Ezra cover and a very smartly done cover of the 1993 Robin S chart smash “Show Me Love”. I think it is always tough for a support act on a tour like this with many of the audience only there to see the headliner. But he certainly had the vast majority of the audience with him. His looping skills are also a cut above many. Definitely a singer songwriter to look out for.

Cover art by Scarlett Wilde

Kim Wilde is touring off the back of ‘Here Come The Aliens’ her first album in nearly five years and her first UK top 30 album for more than 25 years. I have listened to the new album quite a few times before this show and what is so great is that Kim is not just treading the 80s revival circuit. ‘Here Come The Aliens’ is a classy pop album and as good if not better than much of her competition in the pop arena. I believe that Kim set the template back in 1981 for the more modern female pop singer, she was a massive success before Madonna, Kylie and the Spice Girls.

Photo by Catherine Adamson

She has an excellent band, including two drummers, her brother Ricky on guitar and her niece Scarlett Wilde (Ricky’s daughter) on backing vocal duties. Kim rightly described them as a great rock band, which is exactly what they are. I should also mention Kim’s stage costume which was stunning, apparently she cleaned it in the bath the day before! They played some choice cuts from the new record; “1969”, “Pop Don’t Stop” and “Yours ‘Til The End” were particular highlights for me and my wonderful wife Catherine a.k.a Catwoman. Kim also gave as a hard-hitting version of her cover of the Supremes “You Keep Me Hanging On” which really showcased just how good her band are. She played a softer take on one of the Gibb Brothers finest songs and previously a hit for Yvonne Elliman, “If I Can’t Have You”.

 

Obviously Kim was never going to do a show without many of her biggest hits and there were many “Cambodia”, “You Came”, “Chequered Love”, “View From A Bridge” and even her 1987 duet with Junior Giscombe “Another Step (Closer To You)” with Scarlett taking the Giscombe parts on with passion and soul. You can probably guess what the closing number was, it was indeed the magnificent “Kids In America“. Most of us in the audience had been on our feet dancing from quite early on, but “Kids In America” had almost everyone up and singing along. Kim comes across as a self-deprecating, caring and frankly lovely person. I have no doubt that I will be seeing Kim Wilde in concert again some day. If you haven’t then you really ought to, it was a great night out!

 

 

 
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