Nights Out

Peter Hook & The Light

Where: 
The Ritz, Manchester
When: 
25/09/2014
Comment: 
I was doubtful when Hooky insisted he was going to perform every New Order and Joy Division song live but here he is, performing an immaculate 'Lonesome Tonight' a seldom heard hidden gem in their canon. He's already played a (sort of unnecessary but very enjoyable) brace of Joy Divison classics as a preamble and the obscure New Order single 'Murder' faithfully recreated complete with samples from 'Caligula' and '2001'. Aided by an excellent band including his son on 2nd bass, and David Potts (ace guitarist and occasional high notes Hooky can't reach with his gruff voice which is closer to Ian Curtis than Barney) he plays almost everything New Order recorded from 1984 to 1987 via 'Low Life' and 'Brotherhood'...neither could be called a classic LP but both feature euphoric moments that New Order never revisited, such as 'Face-Up' which sounds like a hit single that never was and even a throwaway album track like 'Angel Dust' becomes a twin-bass driven monster.
The audience: 
Rammed and very hot. A mixture of New Order Vikings who lapped up the kind of setlist New Order haven't played since the mid 80s and lots of teenagers in Joy Division t-shirts.
It made me think: 
Hooky seems very driven by his animosity toward you know who, but he translates that into pure passion which the audience responded to by going bonkers. This is beyond a nostalgia trip and unlike the 'real' New order..he means it maaan!
Carl Parker's picture

Mary-Chapin Carpenter & the London Concert Orchestra

Where: 
Royal Albert Hall, London
When: 
Monday, 29th September 2014
Comment: 
I can't think of any other show I've seen that demonstrates such a vast gap between a recording and live performance. "Songs From The Movie" is a pleasant but unnecessary orchestral reworking of songs from MCC's back catalogue. The same album performed live with a full orchestra and not a guitar in sight is a magnificently different proposition. The way the strings carve out the melodies, the rush as the brass section literally vibrates your ribcage, the punctuation of the tympani and other assorted percussion bring the, mostly old, songs back to life reshaping them into a gorgeous, vital, aural experience. The album is played almost exactly as on record. From the opening lyric "A river starts with a drop of rain somewhere in this world..." I'm embraced by the emotion of the music. It's moment after moment of heartstopping beauty. Variation from the album comes wih the addition of Stones In The Road and 10,000 Miles, before Goodnight America plus The Hard Way as the single encore.
The audience: 
We're mostly on the downhill side but that doesn't dampen enthusiasm. Totally respectful, there's hardly a whisper once Vince Mendoza taps his baton. It seems to be much more multi-national than I've noticed before.
Food & drink: 
We went to Sole Luna by South Ken tube which is our usual pre-RAH eaterie. Why? Because it's a reasonably priced, family run Italian restaurant. The food is good, the ambience is pleasant and it's very handy.
It made me think: 
Mary looks positively svelte in her evening gown. She seems happy and totally engaged. Playing in front of an orchestra is a different discipline. Praise also to conductor Vince Mendoza who orchestrated MCC's music allowing last night to happen.

Tanya Donelly

Where: 
Islington Assembly Hall
When: 
25/09/14
Comment: 
Although Throwing Muses were the headliners, Tanya D was the main attraction for me. I first saw her live in 1989 - after having fallen in love with her after seeing a pic in Melody maker in 1987 - with TM and have kept an eye on her solo career ever since (although I wasn't a fan of belly), and it was striking just how much she has developed as a performer over that time. Over the course of almost an hour, she and her three band mates performed a wonderful set of mainly Americana songs, featuring unusual time signatures and gorgeous accompaniments; but it was that voice that stood out. Strong, versatile, and yet still with traces of the 'girlish' tones that marked her earlier solo work, it was simply swoon-inducing. She later played a few tracks with the Muses - who were also magnificent, by the way - and added an element of magic to the proceedings. And although we are both now 48, she has aged considerably more gracefully than I have!
The audience: 
A good mix of ages, from the obviously-around-for-the-early-stuff crowd to numerous students and hipsters. All having a fabulous time and respectful of the music (i.e. no obnoxious chattering, at least where I was).
Food & drink: 
No food that I could see, but a choice of Hobgoblin or Fursty Ferret for us ale drinkers at £4.50 a bottle. Water just a quid a bottle, to my surprise. That counts as quite good in my experience.
It made me think: 
That I should be watching the gig in a bar in Austin...and I'm still in love with her!
Poppy Succeeds's picture

Kate Bush

Where: 
Hammersmith
When: 
25/09/2014
Comment: 
A brilliant four-song opening salvo is spoilt by the rapid descent into Shrek: The Musical territory, including terrible sections of dialogue (of which the novelist David Mitchell should be ashamed), ill-advised cameo appearances and a note-perfect band that never quite plays from the heart. There are outbreaks of utter brilliance (Running Up That Hill, King of the Mountain, Nocturn, Cloudbusting) when Kate lets the music fly and all that wavy-chiffon spectacle is rendered silly and redundant. But the sad fact is that they're all-too rare.
The audience: 
Very respectful and well-behaved bridge-and-tunnel set, keen on outbreaks of clapping along that thankfully didn't quite catch on.
Food & drink: 
Oh, you know.
It made me think: 
"Helicopter? Call that a fucking helicopter?!"
mikethep's picture

The Bombay Royale

Where: 
Spiegel Tent, Brisbane Festival
When: 
24.9.14
Comment: 
Back to this wonderful space for the equally wonderful Bombay Royale. Beneath the joky exterior - the Robin the Boy Wonder Masks, the Admiral's uniform, the silly hats - there is a band of wondrous dexterity. A thunderous brass section, a rhythm section that's as tight as a really tight thing, a keyboard player who can produce any sound he wants out of his little Bontempi thing (and does a brilliant turn on harmonica), constantly changing instrumental textures (e.g. tremolo-laden surf guitar, electric sitar, mandolin) and rhythms - and that's without mentioning the two singers, Parvyn Kaur Singh and Shourov Bhattacharya, whose vocals mesh perfectly and who pull off some pretty nifty Bollywood dancing as well. They're a terrific band to watch as well as hear. They kicked off at the slightly odd hour of 7:15 in front of a politely enthusiastic audience; by the end, 75 minutes later, the crowd had gone crazy, and I was thinking of suggesting the couple next to me got a room.
The audience: 
All ages, right up to even older than me. Given the time, a hefty sprinkling of straight from the office types, but a few numbers in, and we were all one big happy family.
Food & drink: 
Lots of it, reasonably priced by Brisbane standards. I had a couple of bottles of Rogers and a couple of mini-hamburgers, since you ask.
It made me think: 
If you only see one Bollywood/funk/surf band this year (or any other) make it this one. Their waxings are great, but they need to be seen live.

Joe Bonamassa -when too many notes are barely enough

Where: 
Palais Theatre, St Kilda Melbourne
When: 
Friday September 19,2014
Comment: 
I said I wasn't going to go to this show. I'd seen him before at Byron Blues Festival and after a while I got sick of his endless displays of guitar pyrotechnics. But I was having a DVD night with some mates and watched Joe play some simply sublime blues solos in the classic style of the late sixties blues explosion - a Les Paul played through a Marshall stack and before you know it I'm on the phone booking tickets. Joe is a divisive figure in the blues scene between those who see him as carrying the torch for classic blues rock and those who think he is just a show off - too many guitars, too many notes, too many albums - 11 live albums alone, too many DVD sets just too much of everything. So here I am in row J8 wondering which side I am going to line up on by night's end. Joe is smart enough to mix things up, one tour a brass section, the next Beth Hart does the vocals. This time he has an acoustic set first half and an electric set to follow. Review continues below
The audience: 
Blokes, lots of em. Older blokes pointing at guitars and closely watching fingers move very fast
Food & drink: 
Bowl of soup at the Vine bar /restaurant over the road - very civilised
It made me think: 
Over the course, I expect Bonamassa will go back to doing pure blues tours because the audience may be smaller but they are more loyal.

Rudy's Rare records

Where: 
Birmingham Rep
When: 
Saturday 20th September
Comment: 
Originally a Radio 4 show Rudy's Rare Records co-written by and starring Lenny Henry is now an uproarious stage show. It chronicles the story of a Birmingham record shop owned by a Jamaican immigrant and his family that has fallen on hard times and is vulnerable to an offer from Planners trying to redevelop the inner city area that it is situated in. The stage is the type of record shop many Afterworders would dream of owning in more record-friendly times. Rudy is the star of the show - played by Larrington Walker he has a deep Jamaican patois that is initially hard to understand but which we quickly acclimatise to. His humour is bawdy throughout but the glint in his eye quickly endears him to the whole of the audience. There is a love interest, social commentary on acceptance of the West Indian community and a new challenge from more recent immigrant groups that is tackled with friendly humour. Roughly half of the audience was Afro Caribbean and they were in raptures. Also great music
The audience: 
Lenny Henry was genuinely moved by the audience warmth to the show and the cast - he remarked that it had been like this every night of the 3 week run. The auditorium was packed and everybody left thinking they had seen something special.
Food & drink: 
Just a pre show coke and an interval Icecream - standard Theatre fare.
It made me think: 
It made me proud of the multi culturalism in this country. The loudest laugh was for a comment by Rudy saying he had let two UKIP Canvassers into his house but had spiked their coffee with laxatives.
timtunes's picture

Ryan Adams

Where: 
Shepherd's Bush Empire
When: 
18th September 2014
Comment: 
Ryan Adams was in good spirits last night. Being churlish a bit too much banter, that wasn't that funny (and why is it that peoiple laugh uproariously when anyone opn the stage says anything even vaguely meant to be humourous?). THe stage set-up emphasised it was his band with bassist and second guitar squashed over on the right to give him the full limelight. However it made for a great gig. The band all sounded good and his voice was in fine fettle - the setlist featured the new album quite heavily, but fortunately chose the right tunes from it. Most tunes were done & dusted fairly quickly - some stretched out and were the better for it, in particular Shadows from the new album. Bizarre was the sight of what looked like Lenny from Mice & Men lumbering on, drunk, with a guitar for the encore. Transpired to be his new bff, Johnny Depp (actually I thought his guitaring sounded alright). Setlist etc here http://www.gigwise.com/news/94395/johnny-depp-joins-ryan-adams-on-stage-at-she
The audience: 
Fairly wide-range from 20s to 50s. Woman behind talked constantly throughout both the support and Ryan - and proved to be oblivious to my increasingly unsubtle turning round, glaring etc. God it's annnoying - why do people talk during gigs? Grr etc.
Food & drink: 
Yesterday was a 2 day on the 5:2 so nowt
It made me think: 
He still looks young - he must have been an embryo with Whiskeytown
mikethep's picture

Steve Nieve

Where: 
Spiegeltent, Brisbane Festival
When: 
10.9.14
Comment: 
Brisbane by the river at night looks like something out of Blade Runner, but the wonderful old Spiegeltent, all polished wood and stained glass, fits right in at the river's edge. It's a perfect venue for Steve, just one man and a piano. He wanders onstage diffidently and launches into one of his own tunes. Then Shipbuilding kicks off a row of Elvis, including Accidents Will Happen, Oliver's Army, Shot With His Own Gun and others I didn't recognise - Steve is a bit random with the introductions. Occasionally he tosses in an amiable Elvis anecdote, including a tantalising snippet about after-show shenanigans with Olivia Newton-John. Rock 'n' roll it ain't - it's as if he's channelling Franz Liszt at his most elaborate, with occasional guest appearances from Debussy and Satie. It's wonderfully entertaining, though - astonishing skill and musical imagination, full of light and shade, myriad little touches that come out of nowhere and rock you back in your (incredibly uncomfortable) seat.
The audience: 
Mostly well-heeled over-50s as you might expect, with a sprinkling of pork-pie hats, Amish beards and drainpipe trousers.
Food & drink: 
Lots of up-market snack stuff - pulled pork, mini-burgers etc - served on boards. Anything to drink your little heart could desire, set up outside the tent. Cheap(ish) by Brisbane standards.
It made me think: 
Elvis was lucky to find him all those years ago. And I can't play the piano, AT ALL.
tiggerlion's picture

Earth Wind & Fire

Where: 
Liverpool Echo Arena
When: 
9th September 2014
Comment: 
An Earth Wind & Fire concert is life-affirming. They are the musical embodiment of love, hope & joy. They are special because they are driven by the fonkiest engine of a rhythm section and are blessed with the heavenly voice of Philip Bailey. Tonight we were treated to some 'deep cuts' from their long catalogue; acoustic ballad I'll Write A Song For You and infectious groove Let Me Talk. First, hit after hit, groove after groove, please the dancers. Then, the spotlight falls on Bailey. He must have been pissed off in the sound check because his eyes are ablaze. He tests himself with four ballads whose top notes are beyond any other human being. It is as though he is in the eye of a storm, perfectly still and focussed at the centre of a frantic show. I'd say it's the single best live vocal performance I have ever witnessed. Otherwise, there is plenty of fun with chief playmaker, Verdine White, as energetic as ever on bass and Ralph Johnson stoking the crowd. What a band! What a show!
The audience: 
Nobody is getting any younger. They leave with their ears ringing, hands stinging, feet throbbing, hearts singing and beaming smiles, the physical effects of dancing and singing all night. I bet it was way past bed-time when they finally got home.
Food & drink: 
As you'd expect but the docks are next door. Plenty of middle-aged couples indulged themselves with a nice meal before the stage lights came on.
It made me think: 
Philip Bailey is a natural wonder. There isn't a singer alive anywhere near as good. Maybe, if Marvin Gaye had lived? But why tease the UK with just three gigs (Liverpool, Bournemouth & the proms)? Plus, new guitarist, Serge, slotted in perfectly.

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