With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

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

Latitude Festival 2022- Day 3 – Sunday 24th July August 1, 2022


First up on the Obelisk Arena on the final day of Latitude 2022 was Dylan a Suffolk-born and London-based singer-songwriter called Dylan. I was really keen to see her play as a delightful lady serving at the donut stand had highly recommended her earlier in the festival. What a great recommendation too, I wish I knew the donut girl’s name so that I could thank her. Dylan is a little like a British Avril Lavigne for these troubled times, but with less of Avril’s punk aspirations. Dylan writes some fabulous pop-infused rock songs. “You’re Not Harry Styles” and “No Romeo” were particular highlights. She and the band looked like they were having an absolute blast. The brief cover of the Guns ‘n’ Roses classic “Paradise City” was rather good indeed. Apparently, Dylan has been coming to Latitude since she was 9 years old. She is a great performer and she owned her first moment on the Main Stage. A quick trundle over to the BBC Sounds Stage for hard rock power duo, JOHN was next. They got together back in 2013 in London. The music comes from a relatively simple setup with guitar, drums, and vocals in the vein (no pun intended) of Royal Blood. They rocked like metal motherfuckers and they are damned good. Now I need to check out their 2021 album, which reached a heady number 78 in the UK charts.

Tribes took a mid-afternoon slot on the Obelisk Arena Stage. They originally formed back in 2010 and after some success, they parted ways a few years later. But now they’re back and will be releasing a new album soon. They sound like something in between a slacker Weezer and a harder-edged Counting Crows. A very tight band with a great canon of songs. Tribes are a band that it is hard not to like, they are infectious and I have the Tribes virus! Next on the Obelisk Arena Main Stage was the angel-voiced Rumer, one of my wife Catwoman’s favourite singers. Although sadly Catwoman (a.k.a Catherine) managed to miss her. Rumer is a British singer who has a voice that is comparable to Karen Carpenter in her prime. Her ability to interpret the songs of others is a thing of beauty. Her covers of Bacharach David songs and some classy 70s covers have provided some magnificent albums. But she does more than just covers, her own “Aretha” is gorgeous. Rumer was apparently once a backing vocalist for Hall and Oates which prompted a stunning live version of “I Can’t Go For That”. Mark Owen followed Rumer onto the Obelisk Arena Stage and there was no way I was prepared to hang around for him, given that he is perhaps the shittest member of Take That. Obviously, he did a couple of Take That songs which I recognised as I walked away at a pace! Presumably to take away the taste of Mark Owen the Manic Street Preachers played the Obelisk Arena Stage early evening with an unsurprisingly hit-packed set. Opening with “Motorcycle Emptiness” and “Everything Must Go” and including a soulful, searing and emotional “If You Tolerate This Then Your Children Will Be Next”. 21st Century Dublin punks Fontaines D.C. had to pull out of Latitude last year after one of the band caught that bastard Covid. But this year they were back with a seismic set to headline the BBC Sounds Stage. Now on their magnificent third album, ‘Skinty Fia’ Fontaines D.C. are growing into a punky hard rock behemoth. A particular highlight was “Dogrel” but even this was knocked into touch by the closing pair of “Boys In The Better Land” and “I Love You”. I was never going to bother with Snow Patrol, largely because I find them interminably dull, however, that did mean that I missed another Ed Sheeran appearance at Latitude to perform “Bad Habits” with Snow Patrol. It was great to be back at Latitude, my first visit since 2018. Roll on Latitude 2023!

No photos were taken using my cheap Chinese android phone on Sunday, due to low battery and alcohol! The videos were all found on YouTube. If one of them is yours and you would like me to credit you or take it down please let me know. Also a tiny confession, I imbibed a little too much alcohol during a very hot Sunday, so the reviews of Manic Street Preachers and Fontaines D.C. are composites based on speaking to a number of friends who were actually there! Thank you, Johnny, Joe, and Dom!

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The David Bowie World Fan Convention 2022 – Day 2 June 19, 2022


All of us hard-core Bowie fans flocked back to the Mountford Hall in Liverpool on Saturday for day 2 of the magnificent David Bowie World Fan Convention. Proceedings were kicked off by Bowie specialist and author, Kevin Cann, If you ever had to choose someone who might truly be the font of knowledge for all things Bowie, Kevin might well be it, followed closely by Nicholas Pegg. Kevin’s rather excellent presentation centred on Bowie’s early years, particularly his childhood and early manager Ken Pitt. He shared some very rare clips and photographs that absolutely delighted his audience. Woody Woodmansey’s appearance on day 1 was incredibly funny, but early Bowie drummer John Cambridge’s session on Day 2 took the humour to another stratospheric level. What a wonderful raconteur he is and his memory definitely borders on photographic. He stayed in touch with David over the years and some of their interactions, particularly the emails he shared showed that both Cambo and Bowie possessed great comedy talent.

Nicholas Pegg was back on stage to facilitate the next session which featured Professor Alex Sharpe and Doctor Bethany Usher alongside John Cambridge and Woody Woodmansey. Woody clearly enjoyed the first day so much that he stayed on! Although we had two wonderfully talented academics on stage this was also quite a fun session too. It was really interesting to hear Professor Sharpe’s personal take on how Bowie had been so important in her journey as a transgender woman. Dr. Usher’s story about living opposite Roker Park in Sunderland as a young child and hearing David Bowie play there in the 80s started her own Bowie journey. John Cambridge confirmed what many of us probably believed that David Bowie was an alien. Obviously, I took that as a cast-iron fact! The day’s proceedings closed with Kevin Cann hosting a panel that included Carlos Alomar, Robin Clark, Gail Ann Dorsey, and Donnie McCaslin. This was perhaps the most emotional session we have experienced so far with all four of the panel sharing intimate memories of their friendship with Bowie including their very last conversations with him. My new friend Jeremy suggested that this might have been quite cathartic for them and I think he is right!

After that, we all dashed back to our hotels to sparkle up for the Bowie Ball. My wonderful wife Catherine and I used the theme of “put on your red shoes and dance the blues”. Check out our pictures below. There were some truly amazing costumes on show and so many people had made a huge effort to look great. Many of us are more all the old dudes (and dudettes) these days, but that didn’t stop us from having a great time enjoying some great film footage from Nacho (check out some of his fab Bowie videos below) and singing and dancing to a great Bowie tribute act, Rebel Heroes. We left just as the Bowie DJs started playing. Why so early? Well at our age we need the sleep! The venue, St. Georges Hall is a stunning and in places labyrinthian building. The size is breathtaking as are the stained glass windows. Day 3 will, I am sure be another epic day!

Catherine, me, and Jeremy jazzin’ for Blue Jean at the Bowie Ball
What a lucky man I am 🙂

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The David Bowie World Fan Convention 2022 – Day -1 June 16, 2022

Filed under: Observation — justwilliam1959 @ 8:10 pm
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Hello constant readers and music lovers, I am now in the fantastic city of Liverpool with my wonderful wife Catherine (a.k.a. Catwoman) for the David Bowie World fan Convention 2022. Three days of immersion into the extraordinary life and work of Dame David. I will get the opportunity to interact with many people who worked with Mr. Bowie, including Woody Woodmansey, Gail Ann Dorsey, Carlos Alomar, and many others like Nicholas Pegg who wrote the marvellous ‘The Complete David Bowie’ Perhaps it is quite fitting that I am writing this on the 50th anniversary of the release of the iconic ‘Ziggy Stardust’ album too. Is there anything you would like me to ask any of the guests? Just message me if there is and I will do my best to get a response for you. We have VIP tickets so that means early entry to most things. We are also looking forward to Saturday night and the star-studded Bowie Ball, we will be making extra effort to look like strange ones, maybe I will even dye my beard, paint my nails, and put on some makeup. There will be pictures! I will not be dressing like any particular period Bowie, our theme will come from a classic Bowie lyric, but I promise you that what Catwoman and I turn up in will be colourful! I plan to post daily about this wonderful event. Are any of you going? If so give me a shout! Love on ya xxx Bill

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Rick Astley – First Direct Arena, Leeds – Thursday 29th October 2021 November 8, 2021

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 1:05 pm
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Regular readers might think a Mr. Astley gig is a strange choice for me, but I have never been averse to a blast of decent pop music as long as it is good. Was it good? Well, you will find out later in this review, but first I need to tell you about the wonderful stellar support act, KT Tunstall. Earlier this year KT cancelled her summer shows due to concerns about her hearing, but she is most definitely back now. Armed with a guitar, effects pedals, and supreme looping skills (her faithful loop pedal even has a name, “Wee Bastard”) she won the crowd over quickly and we stayed with her for her whole set, clapping, singing, and dancing throughout. All the hits were on show including two particular highlights for me in “Suddenly I See” and “Black Horse And The Cherry Tree”. She also stormed through a haunting and emotive cover of the late, great Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down”.

This gig has been a long time coming, thanks to Covid. I bought tickets as a Christmas present for my wife Catherine a.k.a. Catwoman for Christmas 2019. The show was, like many others, rescheduled, postponed and rescheduled a few times. Was it worth the wait? Absolutely, Rick is a perfect performer. He is comfortable with his pop past and his newer songs show the depth and real soulfulness of his voice. A huge shout out to his fabulous band and the amazing backing singers. Obviously all the early hits were there, including a double dose of “Never Gonna Give You Up”. He kicked off the show with a softer, jazzier excerpt from it and then, as expected, closed the encore with a full everybody on their feet and dancing version. “Keep Singing”, “Beautiful Life” and “Cry For Help” were highlights for me and really showcased what an incredibly talented vocalist Rick Astley is. Meanwhile his cover choices were inspired, “When I Fall In Love” (which was expected) and a superb and authentic rendition of the Temptations classic, “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg”. But to top both of those Rick did a a gorgeous and at times ethereal cover of Harry Styles “Watermelon Sugar High”. Not only is Rick Astley a great singer and performer he also comes across as a really decent bloke. If the opportunity arises I will definitely see him again!

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Katy J Pearson – The Crescent, York – Saturday 5th June 2021 June 22, 2021

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 9:29 pm
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This Covid bastard has been hanging around too long, but we will get to the other side. Anyway there is still the occasional socially distanced gig to attend and this was one of those, from the wonderful Joe Coates of Please Please You. This would be my first experience of Katy J Pearson. But before that it was the turn of support act Elkyn. I have seen Elkyn, a.k.a. Joey perform before and I have also previously reviewed a couple of Elkyn singles. I am most definitely an Elkyn fan and I was looking forward to this set. However I was somewhat disappointed, there was a real lack of clarity on the vocals, particularly on the bottom end. It felt like the sound wasn’t mixed well for Joey’s voice. Did he get a sound check? Was he singing too close to the microphone? Was it just where I was sitting? I don’t think it was the latter because the sound for Katy J Pearson was great. I don’t know what it was, but I really felt for him, the crowd, as expected, were very polite. But overall I felt it didn’t really work. So sorry Joey, this is simply my opinion and I remain a fan. The next time will work better I am sure! But regardless of my opinion do check out Elkyn’s music, some other reviews of the night paint a very different picture. (If you want to check out my previous reviews of Elkyn click here, here and here!)

As I said I knew next to nothing about Katy J Pearson, other than she is from the West Country. This date was among a number that were lined up to continue to promote her rather excellent album ‘Return’. If you like US West Coast country rock from the early 70s, or Americana and alt. country nowadays then I reckon you will love Katy J Pearson. She has the slightly warped pop sensibility that Nick Lowe possessed in abundance. On the first song she rocked like a folk rock Clare Grogan. I suspect that for some her voice might be a little Marmite, in that you’ll probably love it or hate it. Personally I love it! “Beautiful Soul” was definitely a highlight for me, a stunningly gorgeous song. “Tonight” also has the makings of a great classic. The US West Coast vibe was most apparent on “Hey You” where Katy channelled Linda Ronstadt with a small vein of Imelda May. The band were incredibly tight and really seemed to be enjoying themselves. Give her album a listen and catch her live when you get the chance.

All the photographs and videos were found on line if one of them is yours and you would like me to credit you or remove it please let me know!

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Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls – City Hall, Newcastle – Wednesday 27th November 2019 December 2, 2019


This was the twelfth time that I have seen Frank Turner live, fourteenth if I count one Möngöl Hörde show and a Million Dead gig. This was also the first time that I had been to any gig in Newcastle. I was accompanied by my wonderful wife Catwoman a.k.a. Catherine, she is also a fan of Mr. Turner. I was also lucky enough to catch up with top bloke and all-round decent geezer Scott, who I met through those nice folks at 3 Songs & Out. So from a social and personal perspective which looked like a great night, the venue was pretty classy too. So how was the music? The first support was Australian singer-songwriter, Emily Barker. She gave us a beautiful and highly accomplished acoustic set. She gave a towering acapella performance of a Sister Rosetta Tharpe gospel song and “Sister Goodbye” a song about Rosetta Tharpe from the perspective of a woman who might have been her lover, Marie Knight (more of Rosetta later). Emily’s own songs are particularly classy and very deep lyrically, particularly “No. 5 Hurricane” and “Sunrise”. Emily also covered the Boss with a sharp take on “Tougher Than The Rest”. I will be checking out more of Emily Barker’s stuff and I recommend that you do that too.

Well, there was no second support act as such because Frank Turner was his own second support act. Kicking off proceedings with an acoustic set of songs from his latest album ‘No Mans Land’. It featured more than half of the songs from the record and had Frank telling the stories behind each song in a truncated version of the podcasts that accompanied the release. The tales are of women who are either not recognised in history or certainly not given as much credit as they deserved. There are some wonderful stories in these songs, far too many for me to tell here, so click this link and take a listen to the podcasts. He kicked off with a rousing “Jinny Bingham’s Ghost” the story of a woman who resided in Camden hundreds of years ago and is said to still haunt the Worlds End pub and the Underworld night club. It has taken me a long while to warm to the ‘No Mans Land’ album but hearing the songs in this environment really made me appreciate them so much more. Particular highlights for me were “I Believed You William Blake”, “The Hymn of Kassiani” and “Sister Rosetta”, essentially the stories of William Blake’s wife, Kassiana the woman who turned down a King and very unsung guitar hero and pioneer Rosetta Tharpe. However the closing “Lioness”, about early 20th century Egyptian feminist leader Huda Sha’arawi and contains the awe-inspiring lyrical couplet “She isn’t going to hide her face anymore. She isn’t going to know her place anymore”. I think that “Lioness” is one of Frank’s best songs.

After a short break, Frank returned to the stage for a seated unplugged style set with the Sleeping Souls. This set was a mostly chronological walk through the Turner back catalogue giving the stories behind many of his well-known numbers and quite a few of the deeper album cuts. The twenty song set was mostly lively and upbeat, although the energy dropped a little for me in the middle. The band opened with a pair of songs that got the audience ready to rock and dance, although we all remained seated until very near the end, how polite are us British folks? Those songs were “The Ballad of Me and My Friends” and “I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous” from 2007 and 2008 respectively. Frank told us a tale of first coming to live in London as a teenager and wandering around introspectively in a trenchcoat trying to be different but essentially looking just like every other teenage hopeful or chancer, that introduced the stirring and clever “One Foot Before The Other”. We were also treated to the best live performances of “Reasons Not to Be an Idiot” and “I Am Disappeared” that I have experienced to date. But for me, the best was saved to last and the faux encore which began with “Photosynthesis” which is a song that it is impossible to sit down to, so we didn’t, everyone got up for that. The first line of the chorus is “I won’t sit down”, how could anyone ignore such a call to arms (or should that be a call to feet). I don’t know why but “I Still Believe” always stirs me to tears, admittedly they are happy tears and both Catwoman and I gave ourselves sore throats singing along to it. Frank and the Sleeping Souls closed with perhaps one of the finest songs of their recent releases, “Be More Kind” a heartfelt message to those of us surviving this sad, mad, bad modern world. So whatever you do try to aspire to that song and “be more kind, my friend, try to be more kind”

All the photos apart from the gig poster were taken on my cheap android phone. The videos were all found on YouTube if one of them is yours and you would like a credit or for me to remove it please let me know.

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Imarhan – The Crescent, York – Sunday 11th August 2019 August 17, 2019


Imarhan are an Algerian Tuareg rock band formed in 2006 in Tamanrasset, Algeria. They are this generations Tinariwen. They released their first and self-titled album in 2016 followed up by ‘Temet’ in 2018. I was lucky enough to catch them on the UK leg of their tour at one of York’s best music venues, the Crescent. There was no support band, but we were warmed up for the show by an incredibly intuitive DJ whose set crossed Africa, the Middle East, and Jamaica. He played a cover version of Bob Marley’s “War” by a female vocalist which was stunning. (I need to find out who that singer was if you know please tell me – UPDATE – check the comment below from the DJ, Dave Atkin a.k.a. Drummie Dave, the song is by Neyssattou & Likkle Mai ).

I had listened to some of Imarhan‘s current album before the show, but I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but they were highly recommended by a few of my friends, thank you, Dan Lucas! There is a definite middle eastern vibe throughout their music, with an obvious African influence all of which is underpinned by some western rock music stylings. The lead singer and guitarist could probably play any Santana track just as well as Carlos himself. The bass player was among the funkiest that I have ever seen or heard, he sure knows how to get his desert groove on. If there is such an establishment then this guy will have graduated from the Larry Graham Academy of Bassology! Ask your Grand Parents about Mr. Graham kids. The drummer was incredibly talented but also looked like the most chilled dude that I have seen in years. Very special mention to the percussionist who played a range of instruments some of which I had never seen before. It was clear to me that Imarhan are at the top of their game and they were really enjoying themselves on that stage. The vast majority of the crowd, including me and my wonderful wife Catherine a.k.a Catwoman danced the night away. It has to be said that like many Brits I only speak English so I have no idea what Imarhan are singing about, but that really does not matter, this just proves once again that music really is a universal language that transcends the need for a common spoken language. Check out any of Imarhan’s albums and if you get a chance to see them play live take it!

All the photos apart from the gig poster were taken on my cheap android phone. The videos were all found on YouTube, if one of them is yours and you would like a credit or for me to remove it please let me know.

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With Just A Hint Of Mayhem is ten years old! Part 10b (The Singles) February 9, 2019


With Just A Hint Of Mayhem’s birthday celebrations are nearly over. Today is day 10 and it is February 9th which is the official 10th birthday…. WOO HOO, here’s to ten more years! Today you get two top tens in two separate posts this one is my top ten favourite singles and part 10a features my top 10 albums.

Regular readers will know that so far I have shared with you top ten most viewed posts on the blog since it began back in February 2009, the top ten countries that have given With Just A Hint Of Mayhem the most views, rock/ music related books, biographies and autobiographies, my top 10 Bowie songs, my 10 favourite bands of all time, my top ten favourite male artists, the ten greatest gigs that I have been to, my ten favourite music related films and yesterday my top ten favourite female artists.  (Click here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here to view those again). So this is it for the 10th birthday celebrations but there is, I hope, much more to come from With Just A Hint Of Mayhem in the coming months and years, watch this space!

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So here are my top ten favourite singles of all time, ask me next week and the list may change, although almost certainly not the number 1. I did deliberately ignore David Bowie for this list otherwise he might have occupied three or four places. If you are interested my favourite Bowie single at the moment is “Where Are We Now?”

1. No Woman No Cry (Live) – Bob Marley and the Wailers – In my opinion the greatest song and the greatest version. This will be my funeral song, unless of course I turn out to be immortal!
2. Strawberry Letter 23 – Brothers Johnson – The great Shuggie Otis wrote this but the Brothers Johnson made it their own.
3. I Want You Back – Jackson 5 – This is possibly one of the finest pop songs ever committed to vinyl. That opening piano flourish is magical.
4. White Man In The Hammersmith Palais – The Clash – For me this was the Clash’s finest hour both musically and lyrically.
5. Don’t Let Me Down – Beatles Amazing to think that this was just a B Side. It is my go to song to sing at volume when I am very drunk.
6. Do Anything You Wanna Do – Eddie And The Hot Rods – A truly inspirational song which still inspires me even in my advanced years!
7. God Save The Queen- Sex Pistols – Fear and conspiracy kept this from the number one spot in the Queens Silver Jubilee week in 1977. For me this should be the true UK national anthem.
8. Theme From A Summer Place – Percy Faith Orchestra – You might say that this is one of my guilty pleasures, well maybe, but it is a beautiful piece of music. It was also used to great effect in the TV adaptation of Stephen King’s ‘Rose Red’.
9. Mack The Knife – Bobby Darin – I love story songs and this is easily one of the best. The law says that you have to tap your feet and click your fingers to this, right?
10. Into My Arms – Nick Cave – As love songs go this might be quite strange but it is undoubtedly beautiful too. This was also the first dance at my wedding to my wonderful wife Catwoman a.k.a Catherine.

 

 

Absolute Bowie – Fibbers, York – Saturday 26th January 2019 January 31, 2019


Regular readers will know that as a die-hard, life long David Bowie fan it took ages for me to finally cave in and see a Bowie tribute act. That particular tribute act is Absolute Bowie and 2019 marks the third year in a row that I have seen the magnificent spectacle of an Absolute Bowie show. When I first came to see them at Fibbers back in 2017 I was determined not to like them, but I bloody loved them and still do. The show is empathetic, sympathetic and a stunningly well put together tribute to the late, great Dame David. This show was very special as it featured not just the usual two Bowie’s from my experiences, but no less than four different Bowie incarnations. Obviously Ziggy and the Spiders was first, kicking off proceedings with an explosive “Watch That Man” followed by many Ziggy period classics including another from ‘Aladdin Sane’ that I hadn’t heard for a while, “Panic In Detroit”. There were many highlights in that first set particularly the perfect rendition of “Aladdin Sane (1913-1938-197?)” including the warped jazz tinged Mike Garson piano licks from the supremely talented Alex Paolillo. When Bowie (John O’Neill) picked up the 12 string guitar I knew a treat was in store and I was not wrong, first a great version of my favourite Bowie song “All The Young Dudes” and then a crowd pleasing take of “Starman” which had the crowd singing at full volume.

After a brief interval the band returned in full Serious Moonlight mode and smashed 80s Bowie with rousing and authentic early 80s anthems; “Let’s Dance”, “Ashes To Ashes” and “China Girl”. The 80s was never my favourite David Bowie period, but it is impossible to deny that some of the songs are guaranteed party starters and the audience agreed and threw themselves into singing and dancing with gargantuan glee and amazing abandon. I am sure there were plenty of sore throats and aching muscles the next day. John O’Neill left the stage as 80s Bowie while the stupendously talented band carried on before he returned as a 90s Bowie and wowed us with “Hallo Spaceboy” and what you might call a deep cut, “Look Back In Anger” from the 1979 David Bowie album ‘Lodger’. I was intrigued about what the encore might be after the band left the stage. I was blown away. They kicked off the final three songs with a note perfect recreation of “Black Star”, a song that the real Bowie never got to perform live. O’Neill looked the part wearing the bandage style mask with those eerie black dot eyes. Taking on that song was for me one hell of a brave move, but it paid off, it was excellent and beautifully performed. How could Absolute Bowie follow such a mountainous peak? Quite spectacularly actually. Firstly with another outing for the 12 string on “Space Oddity” and a very passionate and moving “Heroes”.

Absolute Bowie were very worthy and deserving winners of the ‘Best Bowie Tribute’ and ‘Best Tribute Band in the UK’ at the Agents Association of Great Britain Awards last summer. On tonights performance they must be in with a good chance of winning many more awards. I should mention the people who form this magnificent band too. Obviously there is John O’Neill as Bowie, Chris Buratti on Guitar and as a very credible and believable Mick Ronson, Alex Face drummer extraordinaire who would almost certainly make Woody Woodmansey proud, Fabio Cascio a bass player who knows his way around classic rock bass lines and the previously mentioned keyboard wizard Alex Paolillo. If you have never seen Absolute Bowie then I urge you to do so. Even if you are like I used to be; a die-hard fan who hated the idea of a Bowie tribute. This lot is well worth the ticket price. My beautiful wife Catwoman joined me tonight and she loved it as did our good friends Nikki and David. I am sure that all four of us will be back next year!

Public Service Announcement: All the pictures, apart from the tour poster, were taken on my cheap android phone. The videos were found on YouTube. If any of the videos are yours let me know if you would like a credit or if you want a video removed.

 

‘Beautiful – The Carole King Musical’ – Stephen Sondheim Theatre, New York, USA – Wednesday 2nd January 2019 January 15, 2019


Seeing a Broadway show was never on my bucket list, but it was a part of my beautiful wife Catherine’s list! So while in the Big Apple we had to do it and we chose ‘Beautiful – The Carole King Musical’. It was at the rather amazing Stephen Sondheim Theatre on 43rd Street, a theatre that is mostly underground!

The show tells the story of the rise of the former Carol Klein from a starry-eyed and understated yet ambitious 16-year-old into the incredibly talented superstar singer songwriter Carole King. The show deals with the ups, downs and heartache of her relationship with her early songwriting partner and husband Gerry Goffin. Back in those early days she composed the music while Goffin provided the lyrics. There are some wonderful scenes where the pair have their songs recorded by the Drifters (“Some Kind Of Wonderful”) and the Shirelles (“Will You Love Me Tomorrow”). The affection of Carole’s friendship with fellow songwriters Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann is depicted in a beautifully heartwarming and humourous way. The guy who played Don/ Donnie Kirshner; Paul Anthony Stewart is a very classy actor, although no singer, well not that he was required to sing of course. So maybe he can hold a tune. Evan Todd brought home a brilliant emotional performance as an often troubled Gerry Goffin.

I should also give a very special mention to Mike Longo who covered three parts; Neil Sedaka, Lou Adler and Bill Medley. The latter off of the Righteous Brothers. There were many highlights for me; Little Eva (one time babysitter for King and Goffin who became an overnight sensation with the pairs “The Locomotion”. Eva was played by Gabrielle Elisabeth. Ben Jacoby’s performance overall, but particularly “Who Put The Bomp” and “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” he really nailed Barry Mann’s initial disdain for the future Righteous Brothers smash. But the best part of the show for me was Sara Sheperd’s performance. She totally stole the show as Carole King. The finale of “It’s Too Late”, “You’ve Got A Friend” and “Beautiful” was truly awesome and regular readers know that I really do use that word sparingly. Not only that but Sara is an understudy to the usual lead Jessie Mueller. Sara is also Dance Captain, although I must confess that I have no idea what that is. But Sara Sheperd is most definitely immensely gifted and talented. I totally loved this show and coming from someone who is really not a fan of musicals that is high praise indeed, believe me! If you do get a chance to see this show, especially in New York City then do not miss it!

Catherine On Broadway!

 

 
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