Nights Out

Tasty Hasty's picture

The Sadies and the Howling Brothers

Where: 
The Tunnels, Bristol
When: 
23rd October 2014
Comment: 
For anyone who hasn’t come across the band before, they’re from Toronto and have been coming over here for, oo, about 12 years now. I first saw them supporting Jon Langford in around 2003 and they’ve been coming back every year since. Fronted by the Good twins, Dallas and Travis, they play just about most genres during their usual 40 song sets….surf, psych, garage, country, rockabilly etc. Famous for their 13 song encores, their set comprised of old favourites, several from the latest album “Interal Sounds”, and a range of covers such as Astronomy Domine, Wasn’t Born To Follow, the amazing Third Bardo’s 5 Years Ahead of my Time from the Nuggets boxset, and finished with Love’s A House is not a Motel. Both twins are superb guitarists, Travis being more of a picker, Dallas using the pedals to great effect for the more spacy numbers. They’ve been Neko Case’s backing band and recorded with Neil Young and Garth Hudson, what’s not to like? Asked my son what he thought – “Top 5, dad!
The audience: 
The usual crowd for an Americana/Canadiana gig, mostly over 50s male, but a smattering of females and under 50s (whatever next?).
Food & drink: 
Same as the Chuck gig the week before.
It made me think: 
Saw the Hold Steady the night before at the soulless O2 Academy, the sound was deafening (even with earplugs), Craig Finn was shouting rather than singing, and folk talk of them as one of the best bands touring the world. Hah!!

Oysterband

Where: 
Only Lichfield bloody cathedral!
When: 
25/10/14
Comment: 
And to think I wasn't even going to go until SteveT asked if I was! Past it, eh? Dropping members carelessly, relying on past glories etc etc. Must have seen them too many times? Wrongity wrong. This was a band on fire, in a setting sublime. From their unamplified processional start from the back, harmonies gloriously floating upwards into the steeples, pins dropping willy nilly, to plugging in beneath the massive portal and stained glass, John Jones and co were in full control. Producer Al Scott on muscular bass and mandolin, new boy Adrian Oxaal,ex-James guitar, on cello, thundering drums from relative newbie Dil Davies, all augment the original 3, Mr Jones, Ian Telfer and Alan Prosser. Jones becomes an ever more confident frontman, ever-present black suit, T and shades, rarely picking up his melodeon these days (but what joy when he does) Telfers fiddle soars over all, underpinned by Prossers bobbing head, on acoustic thru'out, never better. Little old, much new. Joy unbridled.
The audience: 
Um, mature, but alive, singing when required, appreciative always. From beards to piercings, twin sets to tweed, all demographics covered. The Cathedral setting is fast becoming the premier gig in town, Lichfield Arts inspirational in their choices.
Food & drink: 
In a cathedral? Come off it. Well, actually, yes, the bar from the Guild hall having transplanted itself to this sacred ground. Damn fine beer ar £3.20 a pop was good enough for me and Steve, orange for Mrs Steve. I think there were crisps.
It made me think: 
Aren't places of worship traditionally linked with music and celebration? And I'd much sooner have a beer than communion wine. Someone should tell the synod.

Oysterband

Where: 
Lichfield Catherdral
When: 
Saturday 25th October
Comment: 
Opening date of a new UK tour for The Oysterband in the magnificent settings of Lichfield Cathedral. With its myriad arches the cathedral built in 1195 had the potential to offer up awful acoustics. Indeed the echo from the MC's announcement suggested the sound was going to be ropey. Fears were quickly dispelled as the band slowly ambled from the back of the cathedral to the stage playing a nice acoustic number that had the crowed hushed - it was as spine tingling an opening to a concert as I have seen in many a year. They played a nigh on 2 hour set of favourites and songs from their new album. Excellent musicianship throughout not least the violin of Telfer and the guitar of Prosser. A word for new addition Cellist ex of James. Great work throughout and he was sitting down!! Personal highlights for me were Oxford Girl, All that way for this, The Road to Santiago and new song Diamonds on the Water. Only thing missing was an appearance by June Tabor but I guess we cent have everything.
The audience: 
We were in a cathedral so definitely no crowd surfing - they were respectful and appreciative, clapped and sang when asked. No idiots there and no-one chatting through the act. Simply, how a crowd should be.
Food & drink: 
a Couple of cask bitters (Blythe ale) that were quite nice given they were in plastic glasses. Moderately priced too.
It made me think: 
Fairports are playing here in January - having experienced such a night as this I will look forward to many other concerts in this impressive building. Good company from retropath2.
James Blast's picture

Steve Hackett

Where: 
Armadillo, Glasgow
When: 
25/10/14
Comment: 
GASP! It was truly amazing! And to hear all those tunes from my youth relayed with such skill and fire. Special mention to the drummer who was on fire. Steve was really relaxed and entered into conversation with the crowd. He has himself a crack band, I hope he holds onto them. Just one question: who was playing the stomach rumbling bass pedals? She/he deserves a mention. Tracks: Dance on a Volcano; Sqonk; Dancing with the Moonlit Knight; Fly on a Windshield; The Return of the Geant Hogweed (see what I did there); Fountain of Salmacis; The Musical Box; I Know What I Like in Your Wardrobe; Firth of Fifth; Horizons; Lilywhite Lilith; The Knife - this was a shocker, I nearly fainted; Suppers Ready; Watcher of the Skies; fanny aboot; Los Endos A really well balanced set with only a couple of surprises: The Knife, Horizons and Fly. Okay, okay, Nik Beggs was superb!
The audience: 
thinning hair, expanded waistlines, occasional GILF and MILF
Food & drink: 
Bar shut very early tonight, so didn't manage to get up a full head of steam. Didn't really matter as hearing and seeing Steve with his wonderful band made up for it.
It made me think: 
Gawd! I still adore all those Genesis songs
salwarpe's picture

Kirsty McGee

Where: 
La Victoria, Bonn
When: 
23/10/2014
Comment: 
Once a year Kirsty comes to Bonn, with a different accompanist, this time with a pedal steel/mandolin player, Alan Cook, (www.alancook.net). She has such a warm voice, alternately soft and powerful, that suits the intimate atmosphere of the small pub room - with songs veering from a cappella gospel to moody pieces straight out of Twin Peaks (the eerie sounds of the pedal steel mixing with her trusty semi-acoustic 'Fritz' and requested whistling from the audience). The songs were mainly from her new album (Those Old Demons - review to follow), sounding good on first listen, though not yet as 'embedded' as the pleasing oldies she added in - Omaha, Sandman, I Burn for You (my current favourite) and a Tom Waits cover (Pony). Her between-song banter was refreshingly artless and engaging, and the gig built to a justified climactic series of encores. She deserves a much bigger audience, though I am happy to have the chance to see her up close and in person as long as I can. Wonderful gig!
The audience: 
A youngish, studenty crowd (about 50) including a family with 5 children - people seemed to know each other. I was near the front, and looking back, caught the rapt focus on every face, apart from the increasingly restless children, of course.
Food & drink: 
A couple of weizen beers ordered early meant no need to navigate the maze of chairs in the interval. Plus I got to chat to Kirsty about her influences, upcoming projects and to show her the positive feedback she's got on the Afterword site!
It made me think: 
Each time I've seen her, she's had different instruments and accompanists - creating subtly different musical experiences. What is so great about her is her self-assured sense of adventure and exploration, unafraid of exploring and mixing genres.
HouseOfLard's picture

John Mayall - 80th Anniversary Tour

Where: 
Assembly Halls, Tunbridge Wells
When: 
21/10/2014
Comment: 
My 1st Mayall show. I can’t claim to be a huge fan – I have the Clapton / Green / Taylor albums but that’s all – but I was excited to see a bona fide blues legend in the flesh. Support came from King King who were fronted by Alan Nimmo, a huge bear of a man in a red kilt with cargo pockets on the sides. They made a fantastic blues-rock noise augmented by some lovely B3 / Leslie work. Included the first guitar solo I have seen where the guitar was played while turned off. As you might expect, Mayall has surrounded himself with some excellent musicians including a shit-hot guitarist called Rocky Athas who was a school friend of Stevie Ray Vaughan. There was plenty of soloing from everyone, which made it feel like a jazz gig at times. They played material from across Mayall’s career, including several from the new album but frankly they all sounded timeless. Mayall looked chipper, his voice sounded great and he played guitar, harp and keys at various points. A wonderful show.
The audience: 
A lot of snow on the roof, but warm and appreciative and both bands got a standing ovation. Nice to see the venue staff tackle the few that waved their mobile phones about.
Food & drink: 
£6.10 for a Spitfire and a small diet coke.
It made me think: 
John Mayall is 80 and still out there working like crazy. He has something like three days off in the next month. He may love what he does, be skint, or both. Whatever, you should go and see him while you can. You won't be disappointed.
Skirky's picture

Steve Hackett

Where: 
Ipswich Regent
When: 
21/10/14
Comment: 
After his occasionally spiteful kicking in the Genesis documentary aired recently it was extraordinarily welcome to see guitarist-de-force Hackett and his exemplary band take the early catalogue by the scruff of the neck and give it a good seeing-to live. Largely faithful to the (lengthy) originals, there was still space to funk up "I Know What I Like" to a "Sledgehammer"-like degree while generally maintaining the bass pedals & dry ice magnificence of the 70's arrangements. Vocalist Nad Sylvan was an admirable Gabriel/Collins stand in, his coquettish performance (channeling Frik-out-of-Merlin) barely undermined by an occasional resemblance to Angus Deayton in a Coverdale wig. Replicating Mike Rutherford's bass & guitar parts stage left (and emphasising what a great player and composer he is), none other than Nick Beggs - a hoary rock monster capable of standing in for Scott Gorham in a police line up these days. The evening was Hackett's however - deservedly stage centre for once.
The audience: 
Many, and enormously pleased at the composition of the set list. Occasional clapping along (tricky when you know what's coming is in 12/8) and some enthusiastic lyrical participation ("...a flower?"). Did spot one in a satin tour jacket in row N.
Food & drink: 
I only live up the road, so I did chicken and chips for tea at home before I left. The show ran until just before eleven, so we missed last orders at The Dove afterwards.
It made me think: 
"Squonk - what was *that* all about..?" pondered Steve at one point. Now you mention it...

Clannad

Where: 
The Hexagon, Reading.
When: 
17/10/2014
Comment: 
Having never seen them in their prime this was my 3rd Clannad gig in 18 months. With a new album out, it wasn't just a Greatest Hits show, and the new songs sound wonderful anyway. Moya Brennan is sounding better than ever and the band are in fine form. The 5 of them are augmented by keyboard player Ian Parker and the fantastic drummer, Ged Lynch. The sound is crystal clear, with Lynch's drums perfectly balanced so that they don't overpower the quiet, almost delicate songs but have enough muscle on the more uptempo numbers like Closer To Your Heart. Newgrange is a personal favourite because we've been to the amazing, ancient site in Ireland (it knocks Stonehenge into a cocked hat, IMHO) and the beautiful, haunting song is perfectly pitched to summon up memories of the place. When we get to Harry's Game they sing it so beautifully you would swear it was a new song. Moya finishes it and points out that Gerald Seymour, who wrote the book Harry's Game, is sitting behind us. Great gig.
The audience: 
Old fogeys, hippies and duffers. My kind of people.
Food & drink: 
A glass of wine and a bottle of water? £11.20 sir. Scandalous. We had eaten at Jamie's Italian in Reading beforehand, which was brilliant.
It made me think: 
Over 30 years in and this band sound as fresh and different as they always did. Some (Moya) may have aged better than others but they clearly enjoy what they do and are a really great musical night out.
illuminatus's picture

Andy Zaltzman

Where: 
ARC, Stockton on Tees
When: 
October 18
Comment: 
Everyone's favourite Art Garfunkel/Three Stooges lookalike and co-Bugler rolls up in the birthplace of the safety match and satirises to order. The material is cerebral, but also beautifully silly, with an audience who are willing to heckle (politely and constructively, it must be added). It's clear he has some pre-prepared ideas and uses a little time to weave them together with pre- sent emails (I sent one), and more semi-improv stuff on the night. He does a good job, though even Zaltor baulks at wringing levity out of TTIP. Zaltzman is not to everyone's taste, but if you want to listen to a clever, metropolitan, lapsed-Jewish cricket and snooker fan riffing on the Scottish referendum, "we're all in it together", KP and why Jesus is responsible for the 2008 crash, inter alia, then Zaltor is your man (albeit from a small number of options). He very much happens to be to my taste.
The audience: 
Mixed, though tending towards the bookish, let's say. Quite a few teachers in too, as it happens.
Food & drink: 
Decent selection at the ARC and not extortionate, though I stuck to the Fentimams D&B as I was driving.
It made me think: 
He's wonderful, but God it must be hard work to wonder if there's a career to be carved out in something the mainstream finds so alien right now. The venue was moved to a smaller studio space, though the audience tonight was receptive and good fun

Nerina Pallot

Where: 
Komedia, Bath
When: 
15th October 2014
Comment: 
Nerina Pallot is one of those artists that I always quite liked, and is one of my wife and I's car journey favourites(see also Crowded House). She hasn't always fit in with my listening, but as her back catalogue has grown I've become more and more fond of her work. She's occasionally a bit slick, but if she was a man I suspect people would compare her to somebody like Costello. Strong songs with strong lyrics that say a bit more than moon/june and a powerful distinctive voice. This evening at the Komedia, a tiny venue in the centre of Bath was a vocal/piano/guitar evening, with Nerina on stage by herself, filling the venue with great versions of songs from all through her career. Backed by a screen showing Harold And Maude. The visuals sometimes worked with the songs, sometimes against but it worked well. Nerina kept us entertained between songs with some nicely witty and enchanting chat. A very nice way to spend an evening.
The audience: 
Very mixed bag, quite restrained, we were all seated.Average age was probably equivalent to Nerina herself,ie nearer to 40 than 30 and above.Lots of people looking like Afterworders, lots of middle aged couples and a sizeable gay following present.
Food & drink: 
The Komedia is a comedy club, so just a normal bar with plastic glasses. Friendly bar staff. Not too expensive.
It made me think: 
Haven't been to a gig since forever,last time I went to one I was drunk.This time I was on soft drinks because we were driving home to relieve babysitting grandparents!Also reminded me that I saw Nerina years ago at the sadly missed Kashmir Club.

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