Nights Out

Tiempo Libre

Where: 
Jazz Cafe, London
When: 
17th July 2014
Comment: 
High quality latin gigs in London are few and far between these days, so just my luck that Miami based Cubans Tiempo Libre and Colombia’s the Meridian Brothers were playing at different venues on the same night, both bands were over to play Latitude. Radio 3’s Late Junction featured some of the Meridian brothers set from there on Tuesday night. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04b2kw8 I plumped for Tiempo Libre. They met in music school in Havana and now reside in Miami. Their time at music school clearly wasn’t wasted. This was their first UK gig. They served up a very funky Afro Cuban take on some classical pieces, Air On A G String being one of two JS Bach tunes, Cuban classics Pare Cochero and Guantanamera - Guantanamera was a sing along and they were surprised the audience knew it! The rest was hard rocking timba (a recent Cuban style of salsa), perfect for the dance floor.
The audience: 
My favourite type of audience - predominantly female and there to dance!
Food & drink: 
I have never eaten at the café. A bottle of lager is about a fiver, so an expensive night if you want to get drunk.
It made me think: 
The ‘world music’ label doesn’t do anyone any favours. Tiempo Libre are fortunate that they are not saddled with it.

Ringo Starr and his All-Starr Band

Where: 
Hard Rock Casino, Vancouver, BC, Canada
When: 
15 July 2014
Comment: 
The tickets to the show were insanely expensive, but I've never seen a Beatle live so I shelled out for it. The All-Starr band has been doing the casino circuit in North America for over a decade, but have never played here - and as far as I know Ringo was last here in 1964, with his previous band. As the guy behind me said, no one would pay to see the rest of the band if it weren't for Ringo fronting them - but it turned out to be an excellent performance. The All-Starrs (Todd Rundgren, Gregg Rolie, Steve Lukather, Gregg Bissonnette, and Warren Ham) are really great musicians, and they enjoyed taking turns playing each other's familiar songs. I've always liked bands with two drummers, and Ringo and Bissonnette were having a great time working off each other. Ringo is extremely energetic (having just turned 74!), and while no one expects him to be a great singer, it was truly thrilling to hear him sing the songs I know from having listened to the Beatles' records thousands of times.
The audience: 
Very enthusiastic geezerfest. Pretty much a full house, with lots of *very* intense Beatles fans (some scarily so). Many doing their best to video the show with their cellphones. Security threw a few people out who wouldn't stop videoing.
Food & drink: 
Looong lineup for the bars, so we didn't have anything in the theatre itself. We had a veggie burger and a veggie sandwich in the casino, $20 CDN - which wasn't too bad, except I got a chicken sandwich instead of what I had actually ordered :(
It made me think: 
I was way too young to go to the Beatles' one concert here, and I've missed or couldn't afford McCartney's shows every time he's been through. So I'm glad I at last had the opportunity to see a member of the band that changed my life and the world.

Mavis Staples

Where: 
Union Chapel, Islington
When: 
10 July 2014
Comment: 
I’d been waiting to see Mavis Staples ever since purchasing her Jeff Tweedy produced “comeback” album three years ago, so having obtained a ticket to see her, at one of my favourite venues in London, on what was her 75th birthday my expectations were high. I wasn’t to be disappointed. With a tight backing band ably led by her guitarist Rick Holmstrom and three backing singers, including her older sister Yvonne, she delivered all the classics and more with a soulful voice that despite being in showbiz 64 years has stood the test of time. There were many highlights including: the flirtatious interplay between Mavis and one of my younger (and much more good looking) friends in the front row; a rendition of “Happy Birthday To Me” following the crowd’s own raucous version and a spine tingling “You’re Not Alone”, one of the few tracks she played from her last two albums.
The audience: 
A surprising number of youngsters who, as Mavis pointed out, “weren’t born when I recorded this one”, together with a very dapper looking Kevin Rowland and the usual Islington hipsters.
Food & drink: 
I was left alone to guard the places on our bench whilst my “pew mates” retired to the bar. I was rewarded with a bag of nuts! What was that about paying peanuts? Grabbed a quick cheese and onion pasty on the way back home.
It made me think: 
There aren’t many soul legends from the sixties still around, so I felt privileged to see one in such close proximity, in such great voice and form, and exuding such warmth. Why do some people still view such great gigs through their mobile phone?
dogfacedboy's picture

Elvis Costello

Where: 
Bridgewater Hall, Manchester
When: 
14th July 2014
Comment: 
Well worth 3 hours trip up the M40/M42/M6 Toll/M56! As I didn't fancy the Kew Gardens show I took the opportunity to visit the Bridgewater Hall with its superb sound. Had been drooling over the set-list from the US solo shows and tonight's 2 and half hour set didn't let me down. Old faves like 'Veronica', 'Red Shoes' & 'Shipbuilding' mixed with rarities - 'Dr Luther's Assistant' for first time since 1977, 'B-Movie' reappears, lost since 1982. New tracks, from 30 recently penned with Burt Bacharach and selections from last years' 'Wise Up Ghost' show there's life in the old dog yet. With his mini guitar army and keyboard the encore stretched for longer than the main set as even though the recent 'Spinning Songbook' shows mixed things up Elvis took the opportunity to go off piste. He punctuated the set with little tales about the songs, the careers of his father and grandfather as musicians and you feel that Elvis is coming to terms with his place in that long personal & social history.
The audience: 
Well behaved & reverential. A few calls for songs were granted although 'That Day Is Done' ("is that a request or observation?") not delivered. The enthusiasm shown was rewarded with more & more songs. Thanks to Steve T and BluePaul for their company
It made me think: 
This is my umptreethrumpth Costello show and he still has the power to surprise, revitalize old songs & be the beloved entertainer. Not sure if he has a setlist anywhere but in his head but it was thrilling tonight when the detour sign came alight.
timtunes's picture

Neil Young & Crazy Horse, The National

Where: 
Hyde Park
When: 
12/7/14
Comment: 
Relative to last year at the O2, where we had 30 minute feedback strewn versions of Psychedelic Pill tracks, this was a crowd-pleasing performance from Neil. However everything is relative, so whilst we did get Heart of Gold we still had three tracks from Ragged Glory (but not F'in Up) - all of which were still going after 10 minutes. This did make the 'British Summer Time' crowd a bit restless but not me. It was a warm evening, the sound was good and Neil Young was jamming with his buddies. It was joyous. The National, preceded playing what was advertised as a 'full set' but I hope we get more than 70 minutes at the O2 later this year. Finally saw them and wasn't disappointed - the musicianship shone out, in particular Bryan Devendorf on drums. Also caught Phosphoresecent who were playing in a theatre-cum-sauna and were far more 'in yer face' than on record.
The audience: 
It was 'Barclaycard presents British Summer Time' so a mixture of fans, the curious and the corporate entertained. No Libertines style riots. Damon Hill was standing next to us.
Food & drink: 
I was expecting the worst but still, £5.50 a pint? Bargain! Lots of food choice but all with those gag-inducing Jamie Oliver- style descriptions.
It made me think: 
a) I love Neil Young b) This is a strange gig environment c) I don't think I want to add up the total of what today has cost me.............

Lloyd Cole

Where: 
The Basement, Sydney
When: 
21st June 2014
Comment: 
Second time round seeing him at the Basement, and this time an add-on show due to popular demand, thankfully on a Saturday for a change instead of a school night. Same approach too - solo, and acoustic, the main difference being he played even more of my favourites from the solo albums, beautifully, and with the usual quiet charm and wit. I was worried about the new album title - 'Standards'...I thought he'd gone all Rod Stewart/Robbie Williams for a minute, but no. Thankfully no covers of anything.
The audience: 
gentlemen and ladies of a certain age (upwards of 40, predominantly over 50 where we were)
Food & drink: 
Lashed out on the bottled Lord Nelson. Which is always great. Had to go with food to get a table and avoid the scrum at the bar - the usual rubber chicken/airline food, except even more bland if that's possible. Waste of time and money.
It made me think: 
Wish I could see him with a full band.

Jan Garbarek & the Hilliard Ensemble

Where: 
Lichfield Cathedral
When: 
10/7/14
Comment: 
I was going to say fuckfuckfuck but, on reflection, maybe not appropriate for sacred musics at a cathedral. OK, bought the record years ago, always somewhat wonderful, never expecting the live experience. But, farewell tour, Lichfield Festival, miracles happen. And it was. Not your average everyday stuff, but, hell, oops, heaven, one to say you were at. Dapper dane in suit starts playing on an empty stage. Gradually some choral sonics start up, from elsewhere, as the 4 singers walk through the aisles, slowly onto a stage. And this was the standard effect, unmiked, Mr Garbarek wandering around the stage and the building, the singers similarly so. Plainsong in russian and armenian, even english, all with exquisite soprano sax, a proper curved jobby, none of this Kenny G clarinet lookee-likee. Stunning, moving, anything but rock n roll. Or jazz. I love churches and hate religion. This fitted with that.
The audience: 
Lichfield. Cathedral. Go figure. Met the fella from the vinyl record club, so that was good
Food & drink: 
No bar in the cathedral and no interval, so a Worth Bros, Lichfield Vintners and good folk, Sauvignon, which I unfortunately knocked over with my feet. In a quiet bit.......
It made me think: 
The Lichfield Festival has the capability of these surprising positive lapses of judgement. A good city to live in. Anyone want a ticket for Lau tomorrow?
James Blast's picture

Hall, Oates, Yorkio, fangie, her sister and bespectacled friend

Where: 
Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
When: 
8/7/14
Comment: 
First up sorry for not remembering fangie's mates' names and a big thank you to John (Yorkio not Oates) for pushing this auld fart about and keeping him furnished in bevvy. Bit of a 'heavy weather' day in Glasgow, I wasn't really up for it, but as soon as I met John my spirits (and spirit intake) upped. We had a good chat in the Laurieston about our music (we have a great deal in common) so I'm pretty sure I have a new mate via Afterword. Cab up to the Concert Hall, wheels for me then an elevator to the main bar. Immediately bumped into Angela and her posse. Good chat then they went off to see the support Longfellow. John and me got intae some bevvy. Quick piss call for both of us, more music chat then on with the action. H&O were just fantastic, I honestly felt I was in the presence of greatness. Sound wasn't so good where we were sitting, but what the hey. I had to miss the encore as the lift got jammed, but I was happy to get into the cool night for a fag. It was a special night.
The audience: 
Loadsa MILFs, sorry WOCAs (Women of a Certain Age, ta fangie) most with men in tow, drat! Much dancing, singing along, smiles, clapping and a general good vibe. Not an empty seat in the house.
Food & drink: 
Large vodkas & coke for me, some Avalanche bier and a free Scotch pie & mushy peas for John. He was most impressed with the Laurieston, it is the finest of hostelries. Vodka & cokes up the concert hall for me, John took it easy with the odd Beck's.
It made me think: 
Daryl Hall should not look and sound like he does - great in both cases. John's voice is ace too and you can hear why they need each other. Wall to wall hits, they could still be playing a set of solid gold classics now, 2hrs after the concert ended

Aretha Franklin at Radio City Music Hall

Where: 
Radio City Music Hall
When: 
Sunday 15 June 2014
Comment: 
She's still got it. Began with "Higher and Higher" and then we got "I Say A Little Prayer" - amazing! Swooping all over the melody, proving once again that Burt Bacharach's right about her doing the best version of her song - she dipped into a lesser known (to me) lower register, it was exhilarating. It didn't exactly go downhill from there but there was a lot of waffling around of the "let's have a good time' variety, and she brought on a couple of guys to whip up the gospel feeling while she went off for (yet another) costume change. This was definitely not a Greatest Hits show. More like a gospel revival meeting, in which she spent a lot of time telling us how the doctors MRI scans showed trouble and then she prayed to the Lord and then the doctors looked at the new scans and hey the trouble wasn't there and how did that happen and she said praise the Lord - etc etc. She only played piano on "I Will Always Love You", wish she'd played more. She did do "Chain Of Fools" though.
The audience: 
Mixed - lots of old buggers like me, lots of women, older and young
Food & drink: 
Expensive red wine but got to take it in to the auditorium
It made me think: 
I was kind of relieved that she still had it. Amazing voice. And even though I wanted to hear "the hits" in the end I'm glad she just did what she wanted to do - ie a gospel show.

World Party

Where: 
The Triple Door, Seattle, Washington, USA
When: 
23rd June 2014
Comment: 
We found out about the show entirely by chance, the week before we were to visit Seattle. I saw World Party play in Vancouver in 2006, during their first tour after Karl Wallinger's recovery from his brain aneurysm. This was the same three-man lineup as that show (Wallinger, guitarist John Turnbull, and fiddler David Duffy) and the trio have only gotten better since then. Amazing how the three of them can sound as rich and deep as the multiple musicians on the records. A run through most of WP's greatest hits, some obscurities, and a few newer songs, all fantastic. They seemed to enjoy it as much as the audience. And the Triple Door (a former cinema, now a supper club with table/counter seating) has excellent sidelines and an exceptional sound system. See a show there if you ever get the chance.
The audience: 
Only the last row and a half of tables were partially empty. Mostly people who knew World Party from college in the 80s/90s but some younger patrons as well. All very well behaved and enthusiastic, with a standing ovation at the end.
Food & drink: 
A "pan-Asian" dinner menu. The people next to us had Peking duck which smelled great. We ate beforehand, but enjoyed a draft IPA and a pale ale ($6/US each) brewed especially for the venue by Seattle's Elysian Brewery. Both were exceptional.
It made me think: 
Karl Wallinger's voice is just as good as it was in World Party's heyday, he plays guitar and keyboards, had a go at the drums during the encore (and was surprisingly excellent). So much talent and such an inspiring story.

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