With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

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

Jimmy Cliff – O2 Academy, Leeds – Monday 18th August 2014 August 19, 2014


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I bought a couple of tickets for this gig on a whim a few weeks ago. I have always liked Jimmy Cliff and I still have a ‘best of’ and the soundtrack for ‘The Harder They Come’ in my collection. Back in the olden days I owned maybe half a dozen Jimmy Cliff 7 inch vinyl 45 rpm records. My lovely wife Catherine (a.k.a. Catwoman) came with me. But I had warned her that the Academy was not a seated venue.

Anyway the lack of seats was not a problem at all as this quickly became one of the best gigs either of us had ever been to. Jimmy is a true entertainer; magnificent stage presence, fabulous rapport with his audience, an amazing band and, even after all these years a wonderful voice. It’s so hard to believe that he has been recording and playing live for more than 50 years! He opened with the sparse but supreme “Bongo Man A Come” which he seamlessly blended into a cover of the classic Ethiopians song “Rivers Of Babylon”. The proper one that includes the Far-I references, not the bland and sanitised rubbish that Boney M had a hit with in the late 70s. from the off Mr Cliff had the whole audience eating out of his hands. When he said sing, we did. When he said shout, we did. When he said wave your hands, we did. When he said jump, we did. When he said clap, yes you guessed it, we did!

jimmy cliff

All the hits were there “You Can Get It If You Really Want”, “Miss Jamaica”, “Wonderful World, Beautiful People”, “Many Rivers To Cross”, “The Harder They Come”, “Sitting In Limbo”, “The World Is Upside Down”, “Hard Road To Travel” and an excellent “Vietnam” which he used as a chance to plead for world peace by replacing the chorus with references to other world conflicts and trouble spots; Afghanistan, Pakistan, Israel and more.

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The cover versions that Jimmy has done over the years always seemed carefully selected and he performed them magnificently tonight. These included Cat Stevens’ “Wild World”, Johnny Nash’s “I Can see Clearly Now” and a rather excellent song from the Lion King, “Hakuna Matata”. Catwoman and I had sore feet by the end of the evening from all the fancy footwork we attempted. We danced the Ska, rocksteady, reggae and others like nobody was watching. There was some really mental dancing going on around us too. In fact the audience may have been more worn out than Jimmy Cliff at the end. He still looked fresh after remaining on stage for nearly two hours including three encores. When he comes back to dear old Blighty I will definitely be in the queue for tickets and I urge you to do the same. You will not be disappointed! And finally, please note that none of the pictures or the videos on this post were filmed by me. I was too busy enjoying the show! None f them are actually from this show either.

 

London Rocking It For Pakistan – O2 Academy Islington – Thursday 10th March 2011 March 16, 2011


Last week I had the good fortune of attending an excellent multi band charity gig at the O2 Academy in Islington. It was called ‘London Rocking It For Pakistan‘ and at the time of writing has raised in excess of £3,000 for flood relief in Pakistan. Not only that but four great bands for just £10. The event was sponsored by those very nice people at the NME.

First up were Lazy Lion. Apologies to them for missing their first couple of songs because what I did see was pretty damned good. It would be difficult to compare these guys and girl. The instrumentation was a keyboard player (synthesiser I assume) and an extremely talented guitarist. That combination of instrumentation and some well accomplished rapping and singing worked very, very well. I think this collective has a future!

Next on were a three piece rock ensemble with a name that for me doesn’t really work. However that’s only my opinion. The K Shaped Rooms as they are called were truly stupendous. A classic line up of guitar, bass and drums. Some superb original songs too. But perhaps their secret weapon was the bass player, not just for his excellent playing but also for his massive and effervescent personality. He looked the part too, very rockist fashion sense plus the long hair and beard. He sure knows how to work an audience. I would definitely pay to see these guys again. Reading Festival bookers are you listening?

Second on the bill were the band who for me have by far the best name I have heard in ages; Rockwork Orange. Now ordinarily I’m not too much into covers bands but this lot were brilliant. Everything from Blondie’s “One Way Or Another” to the Kaiser ChiefsI Predict A Riot” and some T Rex along the way. The female vocalist has a very strong and adaptable voice and the band were one of the tightest I’ve seen in ages. The music appeared to be directed by the bass player who  played his instrument with a plectrum. I can’t remember the last time I saw that. He switched to guitar later in the set too. Rockwork Orange know their stuff and certainly know how to rock.

By this time I was thinking can this get any better? Well let me tell you it did! Headliners the Velvetines are something else entirely; looks, sound, songs and energy, they have it all. The rhythm section keep things really well together. The bass player also rocks a really cool eastern look. Then there are the sisters who are the guitarist and the singer. I use the word sparingly but they are truly awesome! The 70s style body suits, wonderful stage presence, well rehearsed playing and really classy vocals. I really want this band to go on to bigger things. Once again are you listening Reading Festival bookers? I would definitely pay to see any of the bands on this bill again, but especially the Velvetines. If they are playing anywhere near you buy a ticket, even if you have to sell your grandmother to do so!

Velvetines Rocking It For Pakistan

 

 
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