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.

 

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!

 

 

A Night To Remember – York Barbican – Saturday 3rd March March 10, 2018


As the oft used recent phrase says ‘some heroes don’t wear capes’; Ian Donaghy a.k.a Big Ian is one of those heroes. He is the man behind the excellent musical variety gig ‘A Night To Remember’ in York. It has just entered its fifth year with an incredibly emotional and fun show last Saturday, 3rd March. OK so why is Ian a hero for putting on shows like this, because he does it to support some amazing local charities and since 2014 his initiative and passion have helped to raise more than £100,000 for some very worthy causes; St.Leonards Hospice, Dementia Projects in York, Bereaved Children Support York & Accessible Arts & Media. All the very talented roster of artists gave their time for free for yet another sell out show. I have no idea why Mr Donaghey is called Big Ian but it is certainly clear that he is a man with a really big heart.

Artists who gave some excellent cover versions on the night included Heather Findlay, Jess Steel, Chris Helme (off of the Seahorses), Graham Hodge, Boss Caine,  Beth McCarthy, Annie D, Kieran O’Malley, These Jaded Streets and the inimitable Las Vegas Ken. Backing them all was a superb band of musicians led by George Hall. Big Ian was a fabulous host on the night and he also gave us some top tunes himself. He had us all loudly singing along at the end of the evening to the Joe Cocker arrangement of “With A Little Help From My Friends“, but for me Ian knocked the ball out of the park with a stunningly soulful take on Rag ‘n’ Bone Man‘s “Human”. The night was kicked off with a rather amusing and very supportive video from Ricky Wilson off of the Kaiser Chiefs there was another brilliant video later from DIY SOS kingpin Nick Knowles. That one certainly had a number of the women around me swooning. But the best videos were from people who will benefit directly from the money raised; the Bereaved Children Support Group told us all about the impact made on their lives by the group’s founder Jo Cole. “I Just Love Maltesers” helped explain how we should treat people living with dementia, through what was an amusing and very emotional clip.

Jess Steel put on her full Dusty Springfield vocals for a storming “Son Of A Preacher Man” and Ian’s daughter Annie showed her vocals could one day be a great match for her Dad’s with “This Is Me” from the current film ‘The Greatest Showman’. Boss Caine a.k.a. the very talented Dan Lucas interpreted two classic songs in a way that only he could. His “Tiny Dancer” was a great cover of a truly great song. Elton would have been very happy with that. Chris Helme was joined by Alan Leach off of Shed Seven on Drum’s for a chilled out sing along of “Que Sera Sera” and an electrifying “Never Tear Us Apart”, the INXS song. Chris Leach’s daughter was playing keyboards for them. We were also treated to a couple of songs from Archbishop Holgate’s School‘s production of ‘School Of Rock’. This had been postponed at the school by the snow, so Big Ian gave these lads and lasses a great opportunity to play to a massive crowd. Those kids took it well, I particularly enjoyed “Stick It To The Man”. Then of course how could Las Vegas Ken’s rendition of “My Old Man’s A Dustman” failed to have got you singing and dancing? I hurt my throat hollering that chorus. But my personal favourite highlight, and it was a close thing with so many excellent artists performing, was These Jaded Streets epic remodelling of Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al”.

If you couldn’t make it on the night it is not too late to contribute to these fantastic causes, just click here and give whatever you can as Big Ian himself said on the night, don’t have that takeaway, give the pizza a miss and give a few quid here!

 

 

Imelda May – Barbican, York – Tuesday 16th May 2017 May 22, 2017

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 10:30 pm
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The last time I saw Imelda May play live was at the height of her ‘Rockabilly Queen’ years at this very venue, York‘s Barbican back in November 2011. She was a powerful presence and explosive performer back then and frankly she still is, only now she has extra added diva power and so much soul. Her new album ‘Life Love Flesh Blood’ showcases just how great a vocalist she truly is. The fifties style dresses and skirts of Imelda’s past are replaced by a more sophisticated black number and that trademark pulled back, white streaked hair is now a gorgeous black straight style with bangs.

She recently reached a significant age that I passed many, many years ago and on top of that she is coming out of the break up of an eighteen year relationship. Has this played a part in how she pours her heart and soul into her new songs? Very likely I think. She opens the set with a delicate and sparsely backed “Call Me”. That and every track from her new album got an airing tonight which proves that she is not one to rest on her laurels. She obviously didn’t disappoint the longer term fans and delved into her back catalogue for rousing versions of “Mayhem” and “Johnny Got A Boom Boom” towards the end of the show.

As for the new songs it would be really difficult to find a dud, so I won’t even try. “Levitate” was stunning in this live environment and “Black Tears” I am sure brought tears to many an eye in the Barbican. Other highlights from the new record were, for me “Love And Fear”, “The Longing”, “Should’ve Been Me” and “How Bad Can A Good Girl Be”. I love “Human” and it is one of my favourite tracks from the album, but live it transcends its recorded version by a mile, a stupendous song.

The encore featured a fragile and beautiful acoustic version of “Girl I Used To Be” followed by a magnificent cover of the Shangri-Las “Remember (Walking In The Sand)”. Just when we thought the night had ended on a high the band powered into another new song, “Game Changer” and pretty much everyone was up and bopping to that. I hope that I don’t have to wait more than five years for my next Imelda May gig, because this lady gets better and better.

Just a brief word about the talented support act Irish singer songwriter Jack Lukeman. It didn’t take him long to have pretty much the whole audience participating in some great singalongs, a very brave move for a support act, but one that paid off incredibly well. His cover of Jacques Brel’s “Amsterdam” is one of the best that I have ever heard of that classic song. And finally a brief shout out to the sound in the Barbican, sometimes I have felt let down by the sound quality at this venue, but tonight I would give it an eleven out of ten.

Public Service Announcement – all the pictures were found via Google searches and the videos are all on YouTube. I took no pictures or video myself, because why would I miss such a stunning gig by hiding behind my phone?
 

The Specials – York Barbican – Tuesday 1st November 2016 November 3, 2016


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Once again I have attended a gig at the York Barbican where the sound was not great quality. Maybe that has something to do with relocating the sound desk to the side of the stage and therefore behind the main audience speakers. The support band for this gig were General Roots, an excellent reggae band from London. Initially I put the sound down to just not allowing sound check for a support band, but I doubt that was the case. They did come across as a very talented band even with the poor sound production. The biggest impact on them was not being able to hear their MC Mr Minister. I particularly liked their songs “Special” and “Walk Tall”. My beautiful wife Catherine (a.k.a. Catwoman) also loved the latter.

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Now i did have some misgivings about seeing the Specials with only three original members left (Terry, Lynval and Horace). I last saw them in around 1980 and I have always felt that Jerry Dammers was the real heart and drive behind the band and I was disappointed that he chose not to get involved in the reunion back in 2008. Dammers had a writing credit on the majority of Specials songs. Having seen them again for the first time in 36 years I don’t believe that this incarnation of the band is a patch on the original line up for the first two albums.

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As with the support band the sound was not of great quality and at times lacked clarity and was a little ‘muddy’. They kicked off their set with “Ghost Town” which was probably their biggest hit based on chart positions around the world. It was also their second UK number one. It remains a great song but as the set progressed I felt like they had played their set list in reverse and in my opinion peaked (if indeed they did peak) much too soon. Terry Hall was by his own admission in a shitty mood and for me this was reflected in his sullen and at times spoilt brat performance. In my opinion I felt like we were watching an average Specials tribute band. There were some highlights, notably Steve Cradock who played to his usual high standards. Lynval’s acoustic rendition of Bob Marley’sRedemption Song” was alright.

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I know that many people will not share my opinion given by the volume of people who sang and danced the night away. But in my opinion this is a band that should not have reformed I think they are a very pale imitation of what they were, more like The Averages than The Specials. Sorry boys but that really wasn’t a great gig in my opinion, I gave it an hour before leaving but I doubt that myself and Catwoman will be coming to see you anytime soon.

 

Adam Ant – Kings Of The Wild Frontier Tour – Barbican York – Tuesday 31st May 2016 June 1, 2016

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 8:17 pm
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Adam Ant A5

I must confess that this is only the second time that I have seen Adam Ant play live. The first time was back in the late 70s, probably 1978 in London. I remember thinking of this relatively new band, Adam and the Ants, that they were ok and had a good name. I certainly never expected the Ants Invasion that followed a few years later. Nor would I have predicted that I would be watching Mr Ant play a gig in my adopted home city of York all these years later. More of the headline show in a moment.

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But first let me say what a stonkingly brilliant support act there was last night. It was a young band called the UK Feds who hail from somewhere near Birmingham I believe. They play superbly crafted power pop punk songs with the gravitas and style of great bands like the Ruts, the Members, the Clash and early Manic Street Preachers. The UK Feds are a political band, but in a good way. Personally anyone who states that they believe that this country is run by a bunch of pricks is alright with me. They have some excellent songs, many of which are included on their exclusive tour CD which I bought for a mere £10 and which has been my commute to and from work soundtrack all day. “Pissed Up World” and “London” are my current favourites. The Feds also played a deft, tight and brilliant cover of Prince’s “Sign Of The Times”. If you are going to see any of the Adam Ant shows on this tour then make sure you turn up in time to see the UK Feds. They have the potential to go a long way. I for one would definitely pay to see them again. Well done lads!

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It was then time for the main attraction Adam Ant and his band played the whole of the classic 1980 album ‘Kings Of The Wild Frontier‘. From album and show opener “Dog Eat Dog” everyone stood up and pretty much most of us never sat down for the rest of the night. Yes even at our advanced ages! As well as the first song the other singles “Ant Music” and “Kings Of The Wild Frontier” went down a storm. But for me some of the other tracks were enhanced in a live environment. Notably “Los Rancheros”, “Making History” and “Jolly Roger”. The latter two being among my favourite Adam Ant songs. Adam waited until after an amazing run through of the whole album before speaking to the audience, very much his audience. This is a man who is totally at home on stage and who totally understands his audience. If there is such a thing then Adam Ant is a true showman.

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His stage antics are not those of a 61-year-old man. I hope I can move as well as him when I am his age in three and a half years! Although I doubt that I would look as good in leather trousers. The second half of the show was made up of a great mix of big hits, B-sides and obscurities. When you hear just the big hits you realise what a great talent the former Stuart Goddard is. He played “Stand And Deliver”, “Desperate But Not Serious”, “Prince Charming”, “Vive Le Rock” and “Goody Two Shoes” and I would have left satisfied with just that and the entire album from the first half. But on top of that we got “Car Trouble” and “Never Trust A Man With Egg On His Face” from the early days and classic B-Sides “Physical” and “Press Darlings”. The crowd sang along to every song even if they (including me) couldn’t remember all the words. Adam Ant turned “Prince Charming” into a proper crowd sing along even allowing us a short a capella moment. I must also mention his incredible band including the expected two drummers providing that loud Burundi style beat.

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One of the encore songs was a surprising but rather good cover of the T Rex number one “Get It On”. Let me end with a message to Adam Ant; thank you for a truly excellent show which ranks among the best gigs I have seen and I’m sorry it took so long to see you again. My good wife Catwoman also loved the show and that is high praise indeed and obviously I mean that in a very, very good way. There are still a few UK dates left on this tour and if you’re not already booked then I suggest you get hold of a ticket by any means necessary, well as long as no one gets hurt. Also selling your Granny might not be a good idea as she might want to come to the show with you! Adam Ant a legend among Ants and Men. Enjoy a few videos courtesy of YouTube, starting with some recent live recordings and followed by some classic Ant videos. (Pictures were all taken using my bashed up Nokia phone.

 

Paul Weller – York Barbican, Friday 20th March 2015 March 21, 2015


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Paul Weller is without doubt a legend and one of the coolest people in the music business. Even more so now that he has a slightly more normal haircut. Last night at the Barbican was the second time I had seen him perform as a solo artist. I had also seen him as a part of the Jam and as a part of the Style Council back in the olden days. Last night I was there with my good friend John Williams. We both really enjoyed the support band, the Sundowners from the Wirral. I would describe them as something like Fleetwood Mac in a psychedelic mood whilst on some really strong acid. Their lead guitarist is phenomenal. But they are well worth checking out in my opinion.

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As for Mr Weller, well what can I say that hasn’t been said many times before? Not a lot really but I think he is clearly one of the finest musicians of his generation. He and his band maintained a high level of energy throughout the show which was around two hours in total and included two encores. Interestingly he played no Style Council or Jam songs. But then he has such a wealth of solo songs it hardly matters at all. He played some new and relatively new songs; “Saturn’s Pattern” from his forthcoming new album and “Brand New Toy” which was an exclusive Record Store Day release from last year. The highlights for me were storming versions of “Peacock Suit”, “Uh Huh, Oh Yeh” and “From The Floorboards Up” and a really soulful playing of “You Do Something To Me” and “Broken Stones”. However the pinnacle for me came in the second encore when Weller and the band brought the house down with a superbly executed “Changing Man”. I am pleased to say that the sound at the Barbican has improved immensely since my last visit. Paul Weller has picked some great musicians to for this band. Especially Steve Cradock who is an incredibly talented guitarist.

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During the first couple of songs a fight broke out, that is something that I haven’t seen at a gig for a while. Weller remarked that this was ‘just like the old days!’ If I have one complaint it is the hundreds of phones and iPad style tablets that became a constant presence as punters filmed as much as they could. For all of those of you guilty of that I say put your electronic equipment down and watch the gig you morons! If you have never seen Paul Weller the I want to know why? I will definitely be seeing him again sometime!

And finally another one of those pesky public service announcements. None of the pictures or videos in this blog post were taken or filmed by me!

 

 
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