Nights Out

softdog's picture

Kate Bush

Where: 
Hammersmith Apollo
When: 
27th August 2014
Comment: 
*************S P O I L E R S****************** IF YOU ARE GOING PLEASE, PLEASE DON'T READ THIS YET!! I had no expectations going in, I knew there was a performance of The Ninth Wave and I had heard rumours of an arrangement of Wuthering Heights with Hang Drums or Steel Drums (false, thankfully) and Moments Of Pleasure (also false, for which I am also glad as it surely would have ruined me). In the beginning we got a 6 song set that was played (in my mind) as if Kate had never stopped touring and had toured every five years since 1979, then things take an startlingly abrupt left turn with the Ninth Wave and we get an absolutely spellbinding EVENT, amazing lighting, cleverly designed set pieces and projections, Kate's Son Bertie plays a major part throughout the gig. An interval, then A Sea Of Honey from Ariel and another whole amazing theatrical extravaganza, then two more tracks, ending with a triumphal 'Cloudbusting' and we are left to deal with our dazed senses.
The audience: 
Overwhelmigly happy, awed, appreciative, not one camera phone the whole night, I swear, no flashes, nothing. At the beginning, every time Kate moved to the apron of the stage or made a gesture, waves of mid-song applause struck up.
Food & drink: 
One glass of red wine, £4.90 is all....
It made me think: 
I was mighty privileged really, to witness something special so early, and to have my initial expectations of a cosy 'hits' night with Kate confounded by utter craziness in places, I'm glad she still has a truly mad head and fervent imagination.

Bob Dylan in Melbourne

Where: 
Palais Theatre
When: 
Augyst 19 and 20
Comment: 
I swore I wouldn't go again after the last tour. 2 note range ,remote in a stadium - but things have changed. A lovely period smaller theatre got me in and I really like the last few albums. A lot was different -a stage in soft warm colours, low key lighting including big movie lights from the 40s-so some planning into the ambience -that's a change. And looking at the set lists there is no change bar one maybe 2 songs from night to night.No throwing the boys a song to see how they handle it. And Bob's completely given up the guitar due to arthritis so there will be no more noodling excursions from him this time. OK showtime -no Colombia recording artist spiel just acoustic guitar followed by the band and into Things Have Changed an undemanding throat warmer followed by She Belongs To Me which was subbed for Love Minus Zero the following night. You can hardly see him under that large hat brim and he is surrounded by old style mics on high stands.Continued in comments
The audience: 
broad range with a strong skew to the 50s and older
Food & drink: 
An excellent T-bone steak set me up nicely for concert 2
It made me think: 
With this new concert format that clearly is more sympathetic to his voice and his analogue values I could see him touring for a few years yet - health permitting.

Jerry Dammers Spatial AKA (and Reggae ensemble)

Where: 
Barbican
When: 
18th July 2014
Comment: 
This band started out as JD’s tribute to the Sun Ra Arkestra. Today they pay their respects to the music from and influenced by New Orleans, and that’s a lot of music. Jazz, R’n’B, Funk, Ska and hence reggae all have some roots there. They covered all of those in their three and a half hours set. The longest I have ever seen a band play for. I would estimate that there were 25 in the band, 9 of whom were in the horn section, there were lots of guitar playing mannequins on the stage too. They were joined by guests Neville Staples for a couple of songs, reggae singer Cornell Campbell, poet Anthony Joseph and terrific singer Francine Luce, a new name to me and she wore a mask throughout so I have no idea what she actually looks like. Continued in comments.
The audience: 
A very mixed Barbican audience
Food & drink: 
There is a good pub nearby the Two Brewers that allows customers to bring their own food. So I ate and drank there.
It made me think: 
The best seats were £25. It is not unusual to pay £50 for a ticket. For a £50 ticket to be value for money it would have to be twice as good as this. A gig twice as good as this!! That's not possible.

Killing Joke

Where: 
Bristol Fleece
When: 
15th August
Comment: 
This is a tiny gig for KJ, hastily arranged after a festival they were booked at was cancelled. Announced last week, it sold out a day later. Outside I chat to a fiftysomething punk with foot high spiked hair. He's hitched down from Glasgow on the offchance. I wish him luck and go on in. Support act Calling All Cars turn out to be decent, but the crowd are here for the Joke (the original line up, if you're not up on the KJ soap opera). Big Paul Ferguson's drums are thunder, Youth's dub bass stops things getting too metal, Geordie barely moves but fills the room with a constantly changing stream of guitar noise while Jaz marches around the tiny stage glaring, growling, invoking apocalypse. The sound is dense, overwhelming and brutally intense, but it doesn't bludgeon you. It picks up you up, carries you along and makes you feel you could walk with gods. It's primal and visceral, straight to the hindbrain. It's like nothing I've seen before, and it is incredible.
The audience: 
mostly middle aged punks and goths, who love a set that starts weighted towards the old, with the first five songs coming from the first two records. A lot of new gets played as well, but almost nothing from the eighties.
Food & drink: 
I had a pint of Gem. It was alright.
It made me think: 
Why on earth did I wait till I was 42 before finally seeing Killing Joke? Why isn't Geordie in the post punk guitarist hall of fame with John McGeoch? Is Change the greatest B side ever? Will my ears be alright in the morning?

Nick Cave: 20,000 Days On Earth

Where: 
Somerset House
When: 
13 August 2014
Comment: 
This film imparts exactly the same information as any rock documentary without the lazy filler we have become accustomed to. There is no archive footage and no gushing soundbites from fans and journalists. The only narration is from Nick and the only music is from his most recent album "Push the sky away". By placing the subject into carefully orchestrated situations, he is encouraged to talk about himself and his work in an eloquent, thoughtful manner that really doesn’t feel like it’s scripted. Weather these locations and situations are real doesn’t seem to matter at all. The cinematography is just beautiful and is peppered with equally funny and touching moments without debunking or harming the Nick Cave brand. Existing fans will love it, regardless that there is no real new information or revelations, but, because of the way it is constructed, this could be about a totally fictitious character and would work as a stand alone film for the uninitiated.
The audience: 
Usual gig going crowd a bit younger than normal as I guess the older ones were put off by the back stressing/limb numbing thought of sitting down on the floor for the evening. Those in the know were well prepared with rugs, cushions and warm coats.
Food & drink: 
There was pricey food and drink available but it was refreshing to see that the venue operators allow you to bring your own choice of food and alcoholic drinks into the venue, which most people had done.
It made me think: 
…that watching a rock music documentary with a huge amount of fans present and a massive booming sound system at a cinema is much preferable to watching at home. It’s almost like a gig. Almost.
sven garlic's picture

P Floyd

Where: 
Dalhalla, Sweden
When: 
8/8/14
Comment: 
P Floyd are a long-established highly regarded, Swedish tribute band. Dalhalla is basically a huge crater in the middle of the forest. It's a disused quarry, a spectacular open-air setting. At the bottom there is a small lake in which sits the stage. The band are famous for their impressive re-creations of the classic originals, attracting an audience from far and wide, including Germany. There was a great variety of material, from Syd Barret era Astronomy Domine to later post-Waters Division Bell. The wonderfully performed music was enhanced with stunning visuals, including a plane flying at the crowd as if opening fire while special effect explosions were set off. Then there was the low-key appearance of a burning man stage right greeted by a band member who shook his hand. Oh, and lasers illuminating smoke in beautiful radiating bands of colour. It truly was an embarrassment of riches. Echoes, Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Careful With That Axe and many more... A triumph basically.
The audience: 
Ageing, picknicking, polite, on their feet for Another Brick In The Wall at the end, some bored young children.
Food & drink: 
Hot dogs, ham and cheese on crispbread, smuggled in wine (us).
It made me think: 
A Pink Floyd tribute band works particularly well as undignified impressions are not required for a band that preferred to take a back seat to sound and vision. What a fantastic back cat to pick from. Also Water's lyrics stand up. Bitter but true.

The Waterboys

Where: 
York Barbican
When: 
August 6th, 2014
Comment: 
Returning to the Barbican nine months after their <I>Fisherman's Blues</i> anniversary tour, this show had a wholly different atmosphere to the former one's convivial, celebratory vibe. This was in every sense electric - intense, raucous, poetic and, at times, a performance seemingly possessed by 'The Pan Within'. This was never more evident than on a truly epic 15-minute version of that song, and also on an astonishing interpretation of the Yeats poems "Mad As The Mist And Snow/Second Coming" where band members wore crow masks and Mike Scott ominously declaimed the latter in a disturbing, freakish three-headed mask - apocolyptic visionary-cum-prog-meets The Wicker Man. The set spanned most of the band's thirty-odd year progression, from the pre-<i> A Pagan Place</i>era to the still fondly-received <I>Fisherman's</i> period and many points between and beyond. After all the manic intensity, balm was provided by encore 'How Long Will I Love You?', rapidly becoming a cherished standard.
The audience: 
Predominantly of the grey variety, though there were a fair few representatives of the young people. In front of me was a 10-year old lad at his first concert - good choice. A lot of to-ing and fro-ing in/out to get drinks/visit the toilet/annoy me.
Food & drink: 
Usual bar and dodgy hot snacks available. There is a policy of allowing drinks into the auditorium - a very civilised notion in theory, but it leads to uncivilised and ill-mannered behaviour which impacts on others' comfort and enjoyment (see above).
It made me think: 
It amuses me that there have been more Waterboys than members of The Fall. Whatever group are brought together, they never fail to be utterly brilliant. Tonight, they were a force of nature, particularly Wickham and the wild-haired Memphis piano man.

Rich, Roseanne, Sinead & Van

Where: 
Cherry Hinton Park, Cambridge
When: 
1, 2 & 3/8/14
Comment: 
At bloody last! Bucket list tick ticked, no expectations dashed, no delusion lost. And what a one to choose, the 50th Cambridge Folk Festival, with a line-up that puts to shame the lists of any other I've considered, been or seen. So you are going to have to indulge me, I'm going to evangelise, I'm going to go on a bit, I'm going to go next year. I don't know why I've never made it before, it's always been there for more than my adult life, beckoning in the distance, as I wilfully put other whippersnappers, Glastonbury, Cropredy, ahead of this old master.To be fair, I thought I'd hung up my tent pegs, the twin lures of respectability and responsibility scratching their false identity on my rhorschach. Out, false prophets, I see you for the distortions that you are. Anyway, there's no fool like an old fool, and I bought a ticket, solo Retro on tour. Here's what I found, old friends RT, Oysterband, grumpy Van Man and Sinead O'Connor, and new chume, Roseanne Cash, Jason Isbell and more.
The audience: 
20k capacity apparently, in a surprisingly compact area, 3 main stages and a few tiddlers dotted about, with surprisingly few bottlenecks. Genuinely all ages, children, grandchildren all hauled along with their elders (and that's just the Thompsons).
Food & drink: 
Usual festo fare, the foods of the world. I ate lebanese, filipino, mexican and italian: OK the latter was the best pizzas I've had for yonks. And black pudding/egg baps for breakfast, a meal I usually eschew. An ale tent, a guinness tent and cider.
It made me think: 
Folk is such a conveniently loose term, perhaps exactly the reason I used it to describe the music I liked to my mother, when she asked, gifting a veneer of suitability compared to that there rock and roll. This weekend covered every base in my taste

David Bromberg & Larry Campbell

Where: 
Band on the Wall, Manchester
When: 
03/08/14
Comment: 
A glorious performance from 2 old pals over here for the Cambridge Folk Festival and due to fly home shortly after this gig. I've seen them both before at Merlefest, but never together. The connection is that Campbell produced Bromberg's last CD. As Bromberg described it "we're both accompanists, and we're taking the opportunity to accompany each other". They played 2 hrs and 25 mins, starting and finishing with blistering bluegrass guitar workouts. In between Bromberg sang lots of blues, and Campbell did a fine version of a spooky Skip James song. He played lots of mandolin and fiddle, plus a gorgeous solo guitar take on O'Carolan's Blind Mary. Bromberg (who was Jerry Jeff Walker's band for many years) did Mr Bojangles, and a cracking version of the murder ballad Delia. He played mandolin once, for about a minute of frenetic duelling with Campbell. Both guys did some original material, but mostly Americana oldies. They clearly winged some of it, and it was joyous to watch & hear
The audience: 
Dismal showing. I downloaded tickets the day before the gig, getting 33 and 34! There were 50-60 there but the headliners didn't seem to mind. Clearly some long-time fans there judging by the requests, and nobody feeling short changed
Food & drink: 
Blonde beer with citrus flavours; nice! I've been to BotW a few times but never eaten. Their menu looks good and decent value too
It made me think: 
Larry Campbell may well have been born with a stringed instrument in his hand and a smile on his face. There may be better guitarists than these two, but not many and not by much. A real treat to see performers having such fun for our entertainment
tiggerlion's picture

The Rudy Royston Septet

Where: 
The Village Vanguard, New York, USA
When: 
25th July 2014
Comment: 
This was a pilgrimage for me, to the venue where many of my favourite albums were recorded; where Coltrane, having found his wings with Miles, discovered in which direction to fly; where Bill Evans defined the sound of the piano trio; where Art Pepper affirmed his triumphant rehabilitation and where Sonny Rollins was pushed to the limits by Elvin Jones' peerless drumming. Rudy is a drummer himself and his septet, many poached from Dave Douglas, bore the weight of history with a cheerful modesty. The gentler tunes are beautifully atmospheric but they are at their best when they get into a groove when Royston's dynamic aggression drives the soloists on, underpinned by the imaginative basses of Yasushi Nakamara and Mimi Jones. Nir Felder's guitar is bluesy, Jon Irabagon is joyfully unpredictable on sax and Nadje Noordhuis's trumpet is delicately subtle, whilst Sam Harris explores any pockets of space with his piano chords. It appeared the group enjoyed the set as much as the audience.
The audience: 
The venue holds 125 souls. This was a matinee performance, attracting a surprising mixture of people. I don't think I was the only one making a pilgrimage and some partners had been dragged along but there was enough youth to keep the flame alive.
Food & drink: 
A drink is a compulsory purchase. No food. More importantly, the acoustics are perfect. It's a tight, acute-angled triangle with little room for the act. Rudy started by brushing his cymbals. Even without microphones, the resonance was exquisite.
It made me think: 
Jazz moves me more than any other kind of music these days. It was an emotional experience. Rudy's septet maintained the tradition of great musicians giving their all for their art and the audience. I now have a T-shirt and a signed CD to treasure.

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