Review: Iron Maiden at London O2 Arena: Gig Review 11 August 2018

UFO’s classic ‘Doctor Doctor’ announces the band will be on imminently.  It’s all dark and Churchill’s June 1940 speech echo’s around the arena supplemented by big screen video of Spitfires in action in the Battle of Britain.  Then the Maiden guitar assault launches with a gobsmacking ‘Aces High’.  Bruce runs on and leaps over his camouflaged foldback speaker, resplendent in flying goggles, leather hat and pants.  Out of the rafters comes a 90% sized Supermarine Spitfire Mk Vb replica that manoeuvres round the stage in mock combat.  What a spectacle!  The sold-out O2 went mental.

For the first 5 songs the stage is totally covered in camouflage netting, including Nicko stuck in his drum set alcove.  Are we going to see him?  Bruce only speaks twice, once after the first few songs to give us a stirring rendition of the sacrifices the young men of the RAF made during the Battle of Britain to give us our current freedoms and again at the end of the show to say thanks (see video link further in the piece) and drink some Trooper beer.  He mentions Luftwaffe Commander-in-Chief Hermann Göring thinking they were going to overrun the English easily – “well FUCK him” – queue great applause and much cheering!  “We have our freedom thanks to the brave men who fought in WW2”.

So, the first 5 songs are all to do with war and with each song appears a fascinating new curtain backdrop mostly featuring Eddie in one of his guises.  Bruce introduces ‘The Clansman’, a song about William Wallace (Braveheart) who “stood up to his oppressors” the English in this case.

Iron Maiden - Legacy of Beast 2018 UK tour

Generally, the sound was somewhat swirly and Bruce’s vocals were not to the fore of the mixing so often it was hard to catch the words – but hey, it was a spectacle and we all know the words off by heart anyway don’t we #Maiden!

Eventually Nicko appeared for ‘Revelations’ (some irony there I think!), well sort of appeared as he was hidden behind his huge multi-coloured kit which itself was indented within the speaker stack so you didn’t really see him at all.  Nor did he get much air time on the giant video screens, just as well he’s not paid on viewing time!!  We finally got to see him at the end of the gig when he threw in a few drum sticks and drum lids to the baying audience.

There are pyrotechnics galore, bursts of flame, firework sparkles, a hand-held flamethrower, vast models of Icarus and The Beast, Eddie the trooper mock fighting Bruce, a giant swinging noose, various costume changes (depicting the songs inc. a Dracula-style cape, Venetian mask and light, a large cross with bright lightbulbs that Bruce carried around the stage), gargoyles and a brightly coloured stained-glass chapel set covering all the speaker stacks and Nicko’s drum kit.  You had to really concentrate to keep up with everything going on.  Plus ever changing backdrop curtains.

Iron Maiden’s setlist at the O2 London 11 August 2018

Winston Churchill’s Speech

  1. Aces High [Powerslave, 1984]Iron Maiden - Legacy of Beast 11 Aug 2018
  2. Where Eagles Dare [Piece of Mind, 1983]
  3. 2 Minutes to Midnight [Powerslave, 1984]
  4. The Clansman [Virtual XI, 1998]
  5. The Trooper [Piece of Mind, 1983]
  6. Revelations [Piece of Mind, 1983]
  7. For the Greater Good of God [A Matter of Life and Death, 2006]
  8. The Wicker Man [Brave New World, 2000]
  9. Sign of the Cross [The X Factor, 1995]
  10. Flight of Icarus [Piece of Mind, 1983]
  11. Fear of the Dark [Fear of the Dark, 1992]
  12. The Number of the Beast [The Number of the Beast, 1982]
  13. Iron Maiden [Iron Maiden, 1980]Iron Maiden - Legacy of Beast 2018 UK dates

Encores

  1. The Evil That Men Do [Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, 1988]
  2. Hallowed Be Thy Name [The Number of the Beast, 1982]
  3. Run to the Hills [The Number of the Beast, 1982]

Bruce end of gig speech

The Band

All three guitarists interlock on most songs, each having a quick bit in the spot light.  Janick Gers swings his guitar around his head and hop, skips and runs around the stage like a demented imp.  Dave Murray and Adrian Smith are more stationary and stay mostly stage right and do what they’ve been doing for 38+ years with immiserate skill and professionalism i.e. play great guitar licks and solos.  Steve Harris as usual is dressed in shorts and West Ham themed vest and guitar strap, in truth he plays better than them (couldn’t resist that Steve!!).  Steve and Nicko hold down the tempo on the rhythm section like their lives depended on it.  All told a bunch of musos at the top of their game and genre!  I bet it’s fun being in this band.

It’s all held together by Bruce’s omnipresent stage presence – surely one of the greatest front men of all time.  He’s just turned 60 and his hair is starting to grow longer once more since his cancer treatment.  Sweat-drenched early on he never stops running stage left/right/up/down all night.  Leaping jumping and shouting his trademark “scream for me [fill in your city here] London” he gets the devoted audience involved and singing along to the classics.  You can’t take your eyes off him and his theatrics, so it’s good that he disappears behind the set during the extended solos to give the rest of the band some admiration (plus he’s got to do the costume changes).

The Songs

60% of the songs are from 1980-4 and the rest singular ditties from a smattering of 1998-2006 LPs.  Classics and some rarely played songs.   ‘Where Eagles Dare’ has the backdrop of the famous cable car scene from the classic film of the same name.  Their mascot, Eddie, appears only once as a 12-foot cavalryman, sword fighting with Bruce during ‘The Trooper’.   On ‘Revelations’ and ‘For the Greater Good of God’ the stage transforms into a stained-glass chapel.  ‘Sign of the Cross’ ushers in monk chants and Bruce carrying a large cross around the stage dressed like Dracula.  During ‘The Flight of Icarus’ a huge winged figure straight out of Greek mythology appears at the back of the stage with Bruce having fun armed with his mic and a flamethrower in each hand (aka doing a Rammstein).  And when a red-eyed, horned satanic demon appears you got to know it’s going to be ‘The Number of the Beast’ as the band play inside a mocked-up Hades.

Iron Maiden seem to raise the bar every chance they get, and boy did they spend some money on this lavish extravaganza.  A giant swinging noose appears from the rigging during ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name’ and the climax, ‘Run to the Hills’, goes out all guns blazing, lights galore and ends with Bruce detonating a massive TNT explosive.  And so endeth this brilliantly staged, two-hour rock show – a heavy metal opera of sorts.  It covers war, religion, hell and damnation (they must surely take on the 4 horsemen next!) all done in the best possible taste. This theatrical heavy metal show is a classic, it won’t be outdone – unless that is Maiden do it themselves – are you up for a challenge boys?

So, in my mind Maiden have totally out done any of their previous shows by pushing the boat out to the limit with this fantastic theatrical set.  It’s visually their most extravagant show by a country mile.  So, if Nigel Tufnel can get his amp knob to 11 (oh err missus)  then Maiden certainly ratcheted this gig up to 11 as well!

Marko [12 August 2018]

Ps – a massive thank you to AEG from whom I got free tickets for the gig.  They are a new client of my company and I cheekily asked if they had any spares 24 hours before the gig – you don’t ask you don’t get!! Two great seats waiting for me at reception.

PPs – they were supported by a band called Killswitch Engage.  Not for me, it sounded the same for every song and the only person that gets away with shouting on songs is alas no longer with us – RIP Chester Bennington.

Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy concert review [2 Aug 2018] ‘Under the Bridge’ London gig

Wow, stunning, exciting, powerful, electrifying, spell binding, 1hr 50 mins of total wonderment! 

As I’m writing this I’m still in awe of last nights performance.  Stunning musicianship from people at the top of their game.  As I went down the stairs I immediately saw Carl’s somewhat reduced drum kit (well it’s not the 70’s any more 😊) centre stage and that was it.  Keyboards? What no keyboards, surely some mistake?  Correct no keyboards!  Instead Carl was brilliantly supported by two outstanding guitarists in the form of Paul Bielatowicz (guitars) and Simon Fitzpatrick (bass and Chapman stick).  Add a bit of technical wizardry, and some hocus pocus black magic and you get keyboard sounds played on guitar!  Bloody marvellous, you can’t fail to be impressed.  Also, as I was to find out NO vocals either.  As it happens this didn’t detract from the show one tiny bit.  It was still mesmerising to watch.

Now then as is my want I can always see a looky-likey in the band and Paul looks like an early cross of Steve Howe/Steve Hillage and Simon has a passing resemblance to Novak Djokovic.

Under the Bridge, is a great venue (under the East Stand at Chelsea FC Stamford Bridge stadium) where you can get right up to the band.  It was say 80% full with grey haired and bald prog rockers of a certain age (yes they were all old enough to have seen the great bands in the 70’s) plus a smidgen of their offspring and partners.

Carl Palmer ELP Legacy logo

The band generated a wave of sound playing their instruments as if their lives depended on it.  Carl is no spring chicken at 68 but by hell he pounded the living daylights out of his drum kit.  Fit as a fiddle the bloke is.  They all looked to be having such fun together playing some classic prog tunes to a wildly appreciative audience. Paul in particular was constantly smiling (probably thinking I can’t believe I’m in Carl’s band I’ve got the best bloody job in the world).  I’ve always admired a guitarist who plays every single note with his mouth! His face contorting wildly to every note he played.  His technical ability is stunning and his onstage presence was infectious!  Steve, is a typical bassist i.e. not much movement, but hell can he play the 6-string bass and 10-string Chapman stick.  And then there’s Carl holding it all together with his years of experience.  He’s a powerhouse of complexity and energy – still one of the best drummers around!

They started with “Abaddon’s Bolero” in darkness until halfway through when the lights came on.  They then kicked into a storming “Karn Evil 9”.  Between most songs Carl popped out from behind his kit and introduced songs or gave us some anecdotes about his old band members, Keith and Greg who sadly both passed away in 2016, before once again disappearing behind the drums to apply sheer vigour pounding the skins.  Things slowed things down a bit during the complete version of “Trilogy”.  

Each band member did a solo (well it is prog rock after all!!).  Simon on the Chapman stick doing a medley of “Take a Pebble / Maple Leaf Rag / From the Beginning”, playing rhythm and lead simultaneously – wow!  Paul’s guitar solo was Debussy’s “Clair de Lune”, his fingers flowing across the frets like Tinkerbell spraying fairy dust all over the strings.  Carl obviously nailed his drum solo getting a big roar every time he hit the huge gongs behind his seat. 

He introduced a song Greg wrote, an extraordinary bombastic version of “21st Century Schizoid Man,” which had everyone in delirium.  The songs were chosen carefully i.e. ones without too many vocals but when he gave us the story of “Lucky Man” breaking them big in America I was wondering how are they going to pull this one off?  I’m still not sure how they did it with the instruments doing the ‘singing’ but they did with aplomb!  They wrapped it up with “Fanfare for the Common Man” and encored with a bastardised version of Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker” aka “Nutrocker”.

Setlist (click link to view YouTube video)

  1. Abaddon’s BoleroCarl Palmer ELP legacy [2 Aug 2018]
  2. Karn Evil 9: 1st Impression, Part 2
  3. Tank
  4. Knife-Edge
  5. Trilogy complete
  6. Bass Solo
  7. Canario
  8. 21st Century Schizoid Man
  9. Guitar Solo
  10. Hoedown
  11. Lucky Man
  12. Tarkus
  13. Carmina Burana
  14. Fanfare for the Common Man
  15. Nutrocker

The musicianship throughout is just incredible, exactly what you’d expect from a prog band!  I was astonished by the mind-blowing musicianship on stage tonight.

At the end, time for one last beer and then of to the merch stall and meet the band who kindly took time out to meet and greet their fans and sign stuff, pose for photo’s and chat.  Yes I’ve now proudly got a Tarkus drum skin, all signed, proudly sitting on my wall and am waiting to frame the pic of Carl and yours truly!

IMG_2939

The spirit of Emerson, Lake and Palmer lives on through Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy, as the song says “You’ve got to see the show, it’s a dynamo.  You’ve got to see the show, it’s rock and roll”.  “Ooh, what a lucky man I was. . .”.

Thank you Carl, prog royalty in deed, for keeping the ELP flame burning brightly.  Long may you continue to charm audiences.  I for one will be going again!  For £25 it’s the bargain of the year!  As my mate Nick said, “sometimes you’ve just got to put your phone down and watch”. 

Before I forget, the new band logo is just a brilliant bit of inspiration.  Keeping the classic ELP logo and juts extending the L to Legacy.  10 out of 10 for the guy on Photoshop!!

Marko [3 Aug 2018]

 

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds |Concert review | Greenwich Music Time [7 July 2018]

So, a couple of summer outdoor festival gigs for Noel and his High-Flying Birds in support of their ongoing ‘Stranded on the Earth World Tour 2018’ to showcase the ‘Who Built the Moon?’ LP.  Yesterday Scarborough today Greenwich and it’s England World Cup quarter final day!  Yes, you guessed 30° sunny, pubs open and loads of pissed up blokes singing “It’s coming home” all day/night – music, booze, football what’s not to like?

The gig is next to the Thames/Cutty Sark in the Old Royal Naval College grounds and we’re on the Artist guest list for tickets – it’s all about who you know right folks!!  Relax in the cordoned off champagne bar or for the paying punters a selection of overpriced alcohol in plastic glasses, long queues for the food stalls and dodgy toilets – it pays to know the right people!!

On a hot muggy night, it was pretty much a sell-out crowd (quite a few empties in the freebie area at the front mind).  Most of the mixed bag of old/young, trendy/hipster/footy attired audience were in shorts/skirts and had clearly had a few sherbets!  Although it was a seated event, no one was actually seated throughout the entire gig.  Up on your feet, bopping along to the more up-tempo songs such as ‘Holy Mountain’, swaying hands in the air and big sing-alongs to all the anthemic Oasis tracks. Nostalgia rules!  I don’t know whether I should mention it here but I preferred Blur in the 80’s.  I kind of guess that the audience was split in two camps, those wanting a trip down memory lane and those who are into his new incarnation.  It was certainly the memory lane tunes which brought the biggest applause and mass euphoric sing-a-longs.

The HFB comprise an 11-piece combo (bass, drums, 2 guitars, keyboards, 3 brass instruments, plus 3 ladies – singer, keyboard, and tambourine/phone – don’t ask!).  Given that 6 of the ensemble were used intermediately I’m not sure of their value to the gig.  Quite frankly Noel in a standard 5-piece band would have been quite fine.  Two of the ladies pretty much did nothing most of the time – how exactly do you get a gig like that – ah yes you know someone!!  The singer was had a pretty good voice but she was only used a few times.  I can understand the brass section as ‘Who Built the Moon?’ is a bit of a departure from his older stuff (mid-tempo anthems and Beatles) and has a funkier feel.  Good man, it’s good to experiment and try new things out.

Now I was lucky enough to be stood right in front of Noel centre stage. He was at his moody cocky snarly best.  The band came on at 20:30, finished at 22:22 and entertained the whole time.  Dressed in a laid-back short sleeve shirt, Noel’s guitar powered through a feast of new and old tunes and he genuinely looked like he wasn’t going through the motions. I’m guessing he quite enjoyed it but he’d never let on!  The backdrop video screen added a bit of sparkle though nothing majorly ground breaking.  Just as well coz the lighting was nothing to write home about.

He said nothing for the first hour, it was just song after song.  He then engaged with some of the audience with sarcastic banter “you’ve come over from America for this gig, bet your glad it wasn’t Scarborough – aka shithole”, “have you put two blow up swords together to form some scissors”, “hello sailor” to bunch of guys wearing sailor hats and a number of references to the football result and the constant singing in-between songs of ‘It’s coming home’ – “Seriously, though – it fucking so isn’t.  It fucking is not. It is not.”  Que loads of boos, he then added: “You fucking know it, and I know it.”  Obviously, the Irish in him doesn’t allow and English sentiment.  Mind you he doesn’t mind covering his speaker stack in a huge Man City flag – football still rules!

Set List (not exact order! Check out video links)

  1. Fort Knox [Who Built the Moon?, 2017]
  2. Holy Mountain [Who Built the Moon?, 2017]
  3. Keep on Reaching [Who Built the Moon?, 2017]
  4. It’s a Beautiful World [Who Built the Moon?, 2017]
  5. In the Heat of the Moment (Oasis)
  6. Little by Little (Oasis)
  7. The Importance of Being Idle (Oasis)NGHFB - Greenwich 7 July 2018 p
  8. If I Had a Gun… [Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, 2011]
  9. Riverman [Chasing Yesterday, 2015]
  10. Dream On [Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, 2011]
  11. Ballad of the Mighty I [Chasing Yesterday, 2015]
  12. Cast No Shadow (Oasis)
  13. Lyla (Oasis)
  14. Dead in the Water [Who Built the Moon?, 2017]
  15. Half The World Away (Oasis)
  16. Supersonic (Oasis)
  17. She Taught Me How to Fly [Who Built the Moon?, 2017]
  18. Wonderwall (Oasis)
  19. AKA… What a Life! [Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, 2011]

Encore[Stub] Noel Gallaghers High Flying Birds [7 July 2018] Greenwich

  1. The Right Stuff
  2. Go Let It Out (Oasis)
  3. Don’t Look Back in Anger (Oasis)
  4. All You Need Is Love (Beatles)

The drummer was excellent throughout starting off most of the songs to a 1,2,3,4 on his drumsticks and pounding down the powerful rhythm.  Bass and lead guitar (with the Paul Weller haircut) kept it tight all night and followed Noel’s every move slickly.  The keyboards simply added to the expansive propulsive sound with the exception of ‘Supersonic’ which was stripped of its energy and drive as Noel did it acoustically.  I preferred the more up-tempo songs, they are quite empowering.

Noel can certainly write a song that’s not up for discussion.  Anthemic stadium rock if you will.  So, a 50/50 mix of old and new, slowly moving his audience into fresh fields.  A few more HFB albums and I wonder if he’ll still perform any of the old Oasis classics?

The set ended with the mass singalong to The Beatles ‘All You Need is Love’ and Noel said goodbye with an assured “See you soon” – he might, he might not.

Neon Waltz (support band)

This young 6-piece indie band hailing from Scotland were surprisingly good.  It’s always a plus sign when you have a charismatic enigma for a lead singer.  He took a bit of stick about the football (tee hee), from a sparse crowd but those who watched and listened appeared to enjoy it.

They were a bit Courteeners/Vaccines in musical style and were pretty engaging.  Good luck chaps!

A flag draped over the keyboards XV Brigada Internacional No Pasaran references paramilitary units manned by foreign volunteers the Spanish Civil War. I’m guessing one of the band had family involved in this?

I videoed a couple of songs – check them out:

Marko [9 July 2018]

The Tiger Lillies: Devil’s Fairground | Review |(Wilton’s Music Hall London)

Off to see The Tiger Lillies again and this time as it happens a rather lovely venue that’s a real London hidden treasure.

So how to describe ‘The Tiger Lillies’?  Well unique fits the bill well, no body else does what they do to my knowledge.   Other good descriptions include: Brechtian, punk, Weimar Republic cabaret, junkie opera, theatrical, alternative cabaret, sinister, surreal, offensive and cult band!  Mix it all together and you’ve got the wonderful trio of ‘The Tiger Lillies’.

I currently have 7 of their LPs and as far as I can tell most of their songs are really stories dealing with the low life of town – prostitutes, pimps, drugs, squalor, death, sex, torture, murder, cynicism, gypsies, drunks, sadness, religion, hell, dark comedy, sin, vaudeville and underground culture.

Their core sound is accordion, double bass and drums and they hide their true selves behind their distinctive face paints.  Each tour, some different combination of the macabre.  Think Mexican day of the dead and you are pretty close.

They have always been a threesome, and currently comprise:

  • Martyn Jaques Vocals, Accordion, Piano, Guitar (since 1989)
  • Adrian Stout Double Bass, Saw, Theremin, Guitar (since 1995)
  • Jonas GollandDrums/percussion (since 2015)

Martyn, the leader and main song writer, sings falsetto very nicely and can shout “drugs” as well as any man.  Adrian, the cool one, hops about between strange instruments producing eerie sounds whilst Jonas, wild eyed behind his mask, tinkles away on the drums and assorted trinkets.

Adrian, if you are reading this please let me know where you buy you suits, they are bloody great!

Wilton’s Music Hall hosts a two-week residency with the group is performing their new album Devil’s Fairground plus assorted classics and audience favourites (as shouted out).

A full Wilton Music Hall was dimly lit and the small stage pretty much taken up with the bands plethora of instruments.  The backdrop was pretty not existent (which is strange as they are well known for their visuals), blank walls and huge red drape curtains.  Small blue and red spots in the background and white spots in the foreground aimed upwards at the band producing eerie dancing shadows across the ceiling.

The gig was in 2 sets approximately 90 mins with a 20 min interlude (this seems to be rather common now, or is it that both band and audience are getting older together and it’s not as easy as it once was!).  As usual, Martyn does not interact with the audience at all and we go from one song to another.  I’d have liked it if he had at least introduced some of the new songs and told a little about them e.g. ‘and here’s another song about drugs and hookers!!’.  The first set I’m assuming was the new LP ‘Devil’s Fairground’, which was being promoted.  The second set was some classics from their pretty huge back catalogue and then a few songs shouted in by the audience – one of the only times Martyn spoke “does anyone have any requests you’d like us to play”.  The only other time he spoke was to introduce the band!  I suppose he lets the music do the talking.  Some balls, fancy if they can’t remember how to play a request – but I suspect they only pick the ones they know.

The Tiger Lillies - Devils Fairground flyer front

Songs constantly swing between slow sad piano ballads to up tempo rowdy eastern European gypsy bedevilled tunes.  Me I prefer the shouty ones where the audience songs along “drugs, heroin, cocaine” and you can tap your feet.  The slow ones, good as they are, are better heard when you can listen properly to the lyrics – some of the voice mixing not being that great on the night.

On the night all are smartly dressed and wear hats throughout.  Martin dressed in black with a nice ruff and his ponytail bound and down to his arse.  Adrian in a great checked suit and black shirt and Jonas in shirt and waistcoat.  Faces all whited out with black in fills and I think Jonas was in fact wearing a Venetian mask.

Martin hops about between accordion, piano and the smallest guitar ever, I’d say 18” max.  Think guitar back to front with no body, just the headstock (bit at the end of the guitar where all of the strings end) plus a short neck with a few frets.  He still manages a good tune out of it mind.

The audience is as diverse as usual, there were even some normal looking folk there (tee hee), certainly not your average PC crowd!  Let’s offend and be damned!

Normally, I’d include a set list at this point but a few days later I’ve absolutely no idea of the songs played on the night.  Anyone help me out here?  Either way, it was a bloody good night out.  The band played brilliantly and the audience loved it.

The band legged it off stage at the end to get to the exit where the merchandise was. Thanks for the pics and signing the LP/CD chaps!

The Tiger Lillies are a law unto themselves – long may you reign chaps!!   For £22.50 I task anyone to find me a better night out in London!

Marko [25 May 2018]

Spear of Destiny live concert review [13 May 2018] 229 The Venue, London

I was kind of excited about this gig, new LP recently out (very good reviews), touring ‘Grapes of Wrath’ 35 years anniversary and at a really good venue.  Plus two support acts, the Crazy Pink Revolvers and Folk Grinder and all for £15 – astounding value¬!!

I last saw them in 1984 and ‘85 so it’s been quite a while and Kirk is now the only band member remaining (well it is his band after all) from those early post punk days.  Now if

Tontine - UK tour 2018
Kirk Brandon Spear of Destiny – [13 May 2018] 229 London
my memory serves me well their shows were always pretty raucous affairs and the die-hard fans know all the words and sing along drunkenly, the band play great and we all go home happy and elated.  As it was then, so it is now, nothing has changed much apart from we are all a touch older – greyer, balder or dyed.  Mind you that didn’t stop an excitable crowd having a bish-bash time in the mini mosh pit, all trying to keep their feet on the lager enriched skating ring of a floor.  The mosh got bigger as the gig progressed and I must admit that my mate and I were carried away with it all and dived in ourselves during the encores!  So much for growing old gracefully I hear you say?Spear of Destiny Set list - 13 May 2018 229 London

Kirk stated on Facebook that they were ‘gonna make a racket !!!’ at the 229 and I can assure you all that they most certainly did.  Right on time at 9:45 the band hit the stage.  Their 75 minute set consisted of mainly showcasing songs from their new LP Tontine (weird name so checked it out on that interweb thingy and it is apparently an investment plan for raising capital, devised in the 17th century – you live and learn) plus the Grapes of Wrath and a few anthemic classics.

Set List (click on link to view video on YouTube)

  1. Brighton – [Tontine, 2018]Spear of Destiny - Tontine 2018 UK tour
  2. The Preacher – [Grapes of Wrath, 1983]
  3. Flying Scotsman – [Grapes of Wrath, 1983]
  4. MK Ultra – [Tontine, 2018]
  5. Medievalists – [Tontine, 2018]
  6. Second Life – [Tontine, 2018]
  7. Roof of the World – [Grapes of Wrath, 1983]
  8. The Murder of Love – [Grapes of Wrath, 1983]
  9. African Proverb – [Tontine, 2018]
  10. Solution – [Grapes of Wrath, 1983]
  11. Grapes of Wrath – [Grapes of Wrath, 1983]
  12. Mr. Livingston I Presume – [Tontine, 2018]
  13. World Service – [World Service, 1985]
  14. Come Back – [World Service, 1985]

Encore

  1. The Wheel – [Grapes of Wrath, 1983]Spear of Destiny - Tontine @ 229 the venue , London [13 May 2018]
  2. King of Kings – [Dead Ronin, 2000]
  3. Liberator – [One Eyed Jacks, 1984]

I’ve not heard Tontine but based on the gig I’ll be purchasing a copy sometime soon.  ‘Brighton’, ‘MK Ultra’ and ‘African Proverb’ were instant hits for me.  It’s good to get reacquainted with Kirk’s music again.  He’s another one of many bands I like that really should have been much bigger.  Their 80’s heydays might be past them but they put on one hell of a show all backed up by damn good tunes and they have a loyal following.  In my opinion they are still a class act!

The current line-up consists of Kirk Brandon – guitar; Adrian Portas – guitar; Craig Adams – bass; Phil Martini – drums (looking like a refugee from Lords of the New Church); Steve Allen-Jones – keyboards.  This accomplished bunch of musos have played earned their stripes with plenty of other indie bands in their time and as such strolled through the set with professionalism, passion and enthusiasm.  Kirk and Adrian’s dual guitar show mixes single note sparseness with a sprawling soundscape to devastating effect.  Kirk kept the between song banter to a minimum but he did give us plenty of chances to go mental and sing-along on various catchy tribalesque tunes.

I rocked off back to the tube with the echoes of people singing ‘Come back, come back all is forgiven’ and ‘Liberate’.  All in all, a wonderful drink fuelled evening!  Bless you Kirk for still giving a toss!

The Support Acts

Folk Grinder

Great start to the night, two blokes (acoustic guitar and accordion) gave a great rendition of bawdy sailor days of the past.  A pair of salty seadogs evoking skull and crossbones symbolism – an enchanting mix of drunken revelry.  They dressed the part, the accordion player having more than a passing resemblance to Jean Paul Gaultier in looks and dress, whilst Koozie Johns (the main man) resembled the press-gang commander.

I’d never heard of them before but now having seen them they strike me as a mix of The Urban Voodoo Machine and Alestorm (symbolism/lyrics though not music).   I’m unsure of what they played but I managed to video a couple of songs which were pretty darn good – see the video links below:

Songs for a drunken ale house of yore with an interesting modern lyrical twist.  Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum.  I found them very entertaining and will defo check them out again.

Crazy Pink Revolvers

They are basically Stan Stammers (who he – ed) 80’s band, now recently reformed.  So why not renew your acquaintance with Kirk and do some support gigs.  Some of the songs appeared to be good but alas whoever was on the mixing desk did a dog’s diner with the sound.  Their look reminds me of a bunch of Michigan grease monkeys from those auto shows on cable tv.

Now it’s the first time I’ve ever seen a band with 2 bassists, with Stan on a wonderful 5 string.  Overkill?  I’m not sure it helped the overall sound or contributed anything else to the music.  I obviously don’t know any of the songs, but I’m sure they will get better with more shows under their belts.

Marko [14 May 2018]

The Waterboys London Palladium |[27 April 2018] Concert Review

The Waterboys have a pretty impressive back catalogue of tunes, so what would they choose to delight us with?  They have tried so many varied musical styles since their inception and believe me tonight they didn’t disappoint a pretty much full house at the London Palladium.  We are in the presence of two genius’s in the shape of Mike Scott and Steve Wickham, old sparing Celtic folkies playing good old time R’n’R.

As always, Mike wears a hat during performances, very dapper indeed.  They are always nicely tilted over this glasses and I’m guessing it really helps to keep the spotlights our of his eyes.  Steve also wears a selection of hats, but always with sunglasses!  For the first set Mike has a nice blue suit and for the second set he goes all cowboy Americana, a nod to his experiences and influences of his time in the states.

Mike gives an exemplary performance, his voice and passion as fierce as ever, on guitar and keyboards.  ‘Don’t bang the Drum’ with just Steve on fiddle and Mike on piano was earth shatteringly haunting and boy what a noise the two of them made – worth the entrance fee alone!

This tour sees them out as a seven-piece (two singers) sort of promoting last year’s ‘Out Of All This Blue’ triple LP (of which I have a signed copy – big smile!).  Now my wife and I were chuckling at the resemblance of some members of the band to other relatively famous people e.g. on bass = Josh Homme; on keyboards ‘Brother’ Paul Brown = 1960s bastard offspring of Tiny Tim/John Gorman; on drums Ralph Salmins = Roy Kinnear.  Mike and Steve are themselves on course!

The evening is split into two halves (8:00 – 9:00 and 9:25 – 10:30) with a 25-minute intermission which gives the band time to change clothes and have a well-earned rest after a rollickingly powerful heavy hitting first set (well none of us are getting any younger are we?).  They started loud and pretty much continued in that rock-oriented vein throughout with Steve and the flamboyant American keyboardist ‘Brother’ Brown getting chances to show off their skills with extended jams.  Mike makes sure not to hog the limelight whilst the sublime Steve Wickham fiddles (tee-hee couldn’t resist that one) and Paul tinkles on the ivory’s as if his life depended on it.

We start at the beginning with the classic ‘Medicine Bow’ and rocking ‘All the Things She Gave Me’ before Mike does a little 30 second ditty on guitar “We’re at the London Palladium coz we couldn’t sell enough tickets for Wembley Stadium”.  “They are all love songs” Mike announces as they launch into ‘We will not be lovers’ a rhythmic almost Shaman like trance of a song – turn up the volume and let it flow through you. Only 4 songs in, can it possibly get any better than that?  The next bunch of songs are more recent, from the last two LPs and non-the less any less enthralling.  Now from the banter it would appear that Mike and ‘Brother’ Paul Brown get on rather well, so much so that Mike wrote the next song about him – yes folks ‘Nashville, Tennessee’ and literally in Paul’s case “My soul is in Memphis, But my ass is in Nashville, Tennessee”!  Keyboard players need to do something to steal the limelight, and Paul does it to aplomb – hair, attire, enthusiasm, gestures and southern drawl accent (yes, he needed sub-titles) – a typical over the top American.

The second set is far more sedate by comparison and goes back to his Celtic, folky, mystic roots.  Plenty of tunes that are more 12 string acoustic and fiddle based such as on ‘The Christ In You’, ‘When Ye Go Away’.  Alas ‘Too Close to Heaven’ is slightly spoiled by the constant squeaking sound of Mike moving his fingers along the strings in-between chord changes – a problem all guitarists will have come across when the same chord shape moves along the frets quickly.  Mike and Steve have the stage to themselves for songs 16 & 17 (see the set list below along with associated statistics) and then the band re-appears to finish with an extended full on version of ‘Long Strange Golden Road’.  Class act, tight band, totally immersive and enjoyable gig A+!

Set 1 (Click on links to view the YouTube videos in 4k)

  1. Medicine Bow – (This is the Sea, 1985)The Waterboys - Out of all this Blue UK tour 2018
  2. All the Things She Gave Me – (A Pagan Place, 1984)
  3. If the Answer Is Yeah – (Out of All This Blue, 2017)
  4. A Girl Called Johnny – (The Waterboys, 1983)
  5. We Will Not Be Lovers – (Fisherman’s Blues, 1988)
  6. Nashville, Tennessee – (Out of All This Blue, 2017)
  7. Still a Freak – (Modern Blues, 2015)
  8. Man, What a Woman – (Out of All This Blue, 2017)
  9. Morning Came Too Soon – (Out of All This Blue, 2017)

Set 2

  1. The Christ in You – (Universal Hall, 2003)Waterboys Set List Statistics 27 Apr 2018
  2. When Ye Go Away – (Fisherman’s Blues, 1988)
  3. Dunford’s Fancy – (Fisherman’s Blues, 1988)
  4. Nearest Thing to Hip – (Modern Blues, 2015)
  5. Santa Fe – (Out of All This Blue, 2017)
  6. Too Close to Heaven – (Too Close to Heaven, 2001)
  7. The Raggle Taggle Gypsy – (Room to Roam, 1990)
  8. Don’t Bang the Drum – (This is the Sea, 1985)
  9. Long Strange Golden Road – (Modern Blues, 2015)

EncoreSet list for mixing desk - not followed!!

  1. The Whole of the Moon – (This is the Sea, 1985)

They finished with only one encore ‘The Whole of The Moon’ which was somewhat lacklustre to my mind (although the audience were all on their feet, dancing and singing along and having a jolly good time) and totally outshone by much that came before it.  With so many other classic songs not even aired perhaps Mike might have the balls to consider omitting this track in future?

I’m kind of glad they never really made it into the big league, given Mike’s talent they really should have been much bigger, but on the flip side we get to see them close up and personal in decent sized venues without the need of field glasses!

I love The Waterboys, I have the majority of their output, and have now seen them 7 times since 1989.  Keep going Mike, you are rare & precious but certainly not gone!

Marko [28 April 2018]

Jethro Tull Live Review – Royal Albert Hall 18 April 2018

A bit of history to start – over the years there have been 36 band members with Ian (now 70) the sole remaining member of the original 1968 line-up.  Their first gig was 2nd Feb 1968 at the Marquee Club in Wardour Street.  Prog rock royalty, playing at the Royal Albert Hall – ‘last night of the proms’ anyone?  So here we are on the 50th Anniversary tour.

Stage left keyboards and bass, stage right drums and lead guitar, yes you guessed it Ian in the middle!  The backdrop was the biggest damn video screen I’ve seen (covering the full stage) – take note other artists!  The gig started promptly at 19:30 with a mock TV screen showing clips of world and music events from 1968.  Tull in their youth were undoubtedly a hairy and crazy eyed bunch if ever there was one.  Think bad backcomb dragged through hedge backward look with beard housing various hedgerow creatures.  It was a two-set affair 19:30 – 21:45pm (with a 15 minute interval).

The band comprised – David Goodier (bass), John O’Hara (keyboards), Florian Opahle (guitar), Scott Hammond (drums) and surprise virtual guests courtesy of the video screen.  But the star is Anderson, a consummate professional with towering stage presence.  All eyes are drawn to him like magnets.

I must go on about the video screen it was bloody great.  Easy to view from all angles and heights and constantly in use with great videos depicting the songs; Tull performing in front of screen footage of their younger hairier selves playing the same songs (Ian syncing the lyrics to the background vocals – obviously been practicing that until perfect!); guest vocalists singing part of songs and various R’n’R celebs popping by to say Hi and introduce their favourite songs.  Really, they have thought this through to perfection – none of these fancy graphics just floating around the screen.  It all really added to the spectacle, stunning – well done chaps!  A nice touch and very 21st century as opposed to the 18th  – best check out who Jethro Tull really was (blame their agent for the name)!

Ian was on top form with his amusing anecdotes, song introductions, flute/guitar playing and general prancing about only in the way he can on stage.  His energy, stage presence and wacky sense of humour is just perfect for a well-spoken country gentleman.  His only let down is his own distinctive voice as many of the lyrics are lost and not every note is clearly audible, which wasn’t helped by the voice mix being below that of the other instruments.  But you can’t complain at 70 it’s not going to be the same as many years before. Even he knows not to try to reach certain notes, and for the tricky ones he uses guest singers on the video screen.

P1000197
Jethro Tull – Royal Albert Hall [17 April 2018] – 50th Anniversary tour
We start off right at the beginning with 5 songs from 1968 including the first 4 songs from the ‘This Was’ LP.   Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond popped up on the big screen to say hello and introduce ‘A Song for Jeffrey’.  Then Ian goes into ‘Dharma For One’, previously a Clive Bunker mega drum solo, that had a much briefer workout from Scott Hammond thank god (from someone that had to sit through a Ian Paice one recently!).

Then the oft-told tale of how manager Terry Ellis asked him to write a hit single to keep the home fires burning back in Blighty whilst on their American tour.  So off he goes to his hotel room thinking sod this I’ll write something totally uncommercial in 5/4 time.  As Ian said “well bugger me senseless with a red hot poker” when it went to no. 3 in the UK charts – yes folks ‘Living in the Past’.  He also recalls when Tull became unlikely targets of middle America bible-bashers, who took a dim view of My God. “It wasn’t intended to give offence,” he insists, “maybe I wrote it wrong”.

Joe Bonamassa introduced ‘A New Day Yesterday’; Tony Iommi ‘Bourree’; Steve Harris ‘A Passion Play’; Joe Elliott ‘Ring Out, Solstice Bells’; John Evans ‘Heavy Horses’ and Slash ‘Aqualung’.   Conspicuous by their absence the colourful Dee (formerly David) Palmer, and second longest-serving member Martin Barre.

Now being a total bore I did an Excel Pivot table and these are the results 75% of songs were from their first 6 years. The first set spanning only 3 years.  The band has an extensive back catalogue but Ian obviously thinks their best stuff was clearly done early on.

Set 2 starts with an abridged version of Thick as a Brick (i.e. the best bits). At 70, he is still sprightly and can still stand on one leg and play the flute like no other! The set gets heavier (and in my humble opinion much better) as it progresses, with ‘Heavy Horses’, ‘Farm on the Freeway’ and ‘Aqualung’ where young sprog Florian Opahle can show of his guitar solos.
Finally, the encore, the screen shows old American and UK steam trains thundering down tracks and yes you guessed it ‘Locomotive Breath’.

Set 1: (Click on links to view video – update YouTube have removed them due to Licencing!!)

  1. My Sunday Feeling – (This Was, 1968)Jethro Tull 50 Anniversary 2018
  2. Love Story – (Living in the Past, 1972 – 1968 Single)
  3. A Song for Jeffrey – (This Was, 1968)
  4. Some Day the Sun Won’t Shine for You – (This Was, 1968)
  5. Dharma for One – (This Was, 1968)
  6. Living in the Past – (Living in the Past, 1972 – 1969 Single)
  7. A New Day Yesterday – (Stand Up, 1969)
  8. Bourrée in E minor – (Stand Up, 1969)
  9. With You There to Help Me (Benefit 1970) / The Witch’s Promise (Benefit 2001 version)
  10. My God – (Aqualung, 1970)
  11. Cross-Eyed Mary – (Aqualung, 1970)
    Set 2:
  12. Thick as a Brick excerpt – (Thick as a Brick, 1972)Jethro Tull 50 Anniversary UK Tour 2018
  13. A Passion Play – excerpt (A Passion Play, 1973)
  14. Too Old to Rock ‘n’ Roll, Too Young to Die – (Too Old to Rock ‘n’ Roll: Too Young to Die!, 1976)
  15. Songs From the Wood – (Songs from the Wood, 1977)
  16. Ring Out, Solstice Bells – (Songs from the Wood, 1977)
  17. Heavy Horses – (Heavy Horses, 1978)
  18. Farm on the Freeway – (Crest of a Knave, 1987)
  19. Aqualung – (Aqualung, 1970)
    Encore:
  20. Locomotive Breath – (Aqualung, 1970)

The packed out RAH audience was mainly people of a certain age (grey hair or bald diehard Tull fans) with a healthy spattering of ladies.  All pretty much knew all the words to the songs which were all greeted with affection and much applause.  The audience responded with a well-deserved standing ovation and were talking very fondly about it all the way to the tube!

Marko – 18 April 2018

Blancmange gig review [9 Mar 2018] – Under The Bridge, London

Barely 5 months since I last saw them, here I am again on the 2018 leg of the Unfurnished Rooms tour.  Yes, they were that good last time!

The good news is that Neil mixed up the set list and changed a couple of the tunes (alas my Twitter request for ‘That’s Love That It Is’ never made it!).  The opener ‘The Fall’ was dedicated to Mark E. Smith of The Fall who died in January.  Neil had given Mark a demo of their 1st EP (1980) at a gig and said “It would be really nice if you listened to it”.  He duly did and wrote a long letter back to Neil which helped inspire the band.  And they played a brand-new ditty called ‘In Your Room’ which was pretty damn good, glad to see they haven’t been resting on their laurels.

Prior to the gig, Neil made a guest appearance for the support chap Jez Bernholz. Even that didn’t save the act!  He basically had everything pre-programmed and stood pressing buttons, twiddling knobs (Roland SP-404 SX for the nerds) and sang. Yes kids you can all do this at home with some software!  The bass was mixed so loud the entire place was thumping and bottles of water were shuffling across the stage with no sign of a magician 😊.  Quite frankly I was glad when it was all over.

I could really say – just look at my previous Blancmange blog as that pretty much covers it.

Neil was once again in his trademark dark suit, this time with nice white trainers.  The guitarist was barefoot, well better that than him wearing his decidedly uncool Birkenstocks on stage!  As usual a good tight performance with banter in-between songs.  Neil certainly knows how to get his dedicated crowd going, singing enthusiastically along to all the classics (especially the Nah Nah bit of ‘Living on the Ceiling’).

As has become somewhat of a trademark, he once again nabbed a mobile from an unsuspecting lady (videoing him of course) and spent the rest of the show playing with it occasionally and finally gave it back during the encore.  He also, spends a great amount of time playing with his earplugs and in-ear monitor.  Frequently the right ear plug is out and the monitor is either in his pocket or he’s holding it in his left hand. Interesting viewing!

A really good evenings synth-pop entertainment – thank you Blancmange.  £25 a bargain night out!!

SETLIST (and links to Videos on my YouTube channel)

  1. The Fall – (Semi Detached 2015)
  2. Unfurnished Rooms(Unfurnished Rooms 2017)
  3. We Are the Chemicals(Unfurnished Rooms 2017)
  4. Game Above My Head(Mange Tout 1984)
  5. In Your Room – New song
  6. What’s the Time?(Unfurnished Rooms 2017)
  7. Last Night (I Dreamt I Had a Job) (Commuter 23 2016)
  8. Waves (Happy Families 1982)Blancmange - Unfurnished Rooms Tour 2018
  9. Gratitude(Unfurnished Rooms 2017)
  10. Anna Dine (Unfurnished Rooms 2017)
  11. Running Thin(Happy Families 1982)
  12. I Can’t Explain(Happy Families 1982)
  13. Old Friends(Unfurnished Rooms 2017)
  14. Living on the Ceiling (Happy Families 1982)
  15. Feel Me(Happy Families 1982)
  16. Blind Vision (Mange Tout 1984)

Encore:

  1. The Day Before You Came(Mange Tout 1984)
  2. Don’t Tell Me(Mange Tout 198)

To cap it all, Neil did a signing after the gig and my step daughter was so excited to get her photo taken meet him and get her CD signed.  She was bopping along merrily all night. She’s gonna spread the word to all her fellow teachers – Go watch Blancmange!   Oh and I got a signed LP, which is now resting proudly next to my other signed LPs in the stairwell.

Marko – 10 Mar 2018

Live Review: Flunk – 100 Club [24 Jan 2018]

Flunk Live gig review

Sometimes the stars are aligned and a gamble turns into a treat, thus was my first exposure to Flunk.  In fairness I’d never heard of them until I received one of my usual emails denoting various upcoming gigs.  I just loved the flyer (as it turns out it was the cover of their Chemistry and Math LP) plus it was the 100 Club which I’d managed to avoid all these years, plus it was £12.50 (surely a typo!).  What could go wrong?

So rather than do the usual and Google the band to find out what they sound like, my friend and I took the gamble and just turned up.  So here goes:

The 100 Club

For those who have not been there it’s synonymous with music since the 1940’s, having hosted many now famous bands during their formative years.  It’s underground, on Oxford St, and has a long narrow stage with a low ceiling and bars at both ends.  A few strategically placed pillars keep it up and at the same time obscure the stage for the 350 punters if full.  The gent’s toilets are proper R’n’R – graffiti covered and extremely dodgy – take a look at the pics (even the cockroaches had the good sense to leg it 😊).  I can imagine it getting pretty hot and sweaty, but not tonight, Flunk are not that type of band.  Hence the seating throughout, plus people sitting on the floor in front of the stage.

Rumours (support band)

As I’ve mentioned, we turned up for this gig totally blind and the first band on mentioned that this was their acoustic set – so we assumed this was Flunk doing 2 sets – durr!  It turned out to be a band called Rumours (not the Fleetwood Mac tribute) a five-piece comprising drummer, keyboards, bass and 2 singers – Marion and Mark.  They have been around since 2015, formed in London, and are an ‘electro pop indie’ combo with Mark Borgazzi, Federico Bigonzetti and Marion Solheim as the mainstay (Italy and Norway then!).   I’ve no idea what the set comprised of but the songs were interesting and mellow with the lead singer looking like he’d verge on the side of Hip Hop at any moment.  Alas the vocal microphone mix was pretty poor so you couldn’t really make out what they were singing about.  But overall, I enjoyed a set of low key keyboard driven melodies and sometime catchy pop.  If you heard their songs in the background at a party you’d think this is pretty good, must check them out.  They have one EP out ‘Shapes’ and a single ‘Invitations’ with a great sleeve cover, might even download it!!

Flunk

So, if you’ve been following the blog thus far, yours truly thought there was no support.  So, the stage was decluttered of Rumours gear and a totally different bunch came on – yes this was Flunk.  A traditional 5-piece from Norway comprising:

  • Erik Ruud – drums
  • Anja Øyen Vister – vocals, guitar
  • Jo Bakke – guitar
    Flunk - 100 Club [24 Jan 2018]
    Flunk – 100 Club [24 Jan 2018]
  • Ulf Nygaard – programming, vocals
  • Ole Kristian Wetten – bass

I had a grand stand view of the minimalistic stage, leaning on a pillar just spitting distance from the band.  Anja wore a very colourful jacket and had many multiple coloured beads around both wrists – think M&Ms on a string you’ll get the idea!  Unfortunately, her mike stand was positioned badly and she spent an awful lot of time singing with her arm in the air covering her eyes from the lights (remember low ceiling!!).  Note: to Anja – next time move the stand or take the mike off when not using the guitar.

They were promoting their latest LP so 40% of the tracks were from ‘Chemistry and Math’, interspersed with songs from their back catalogue going back to 2004.  Again, the vocal mix wasn’t great and you couldn’t really make out what Anja was singing, just noise really.  On the whole they were pretty tight with Jo excelling with his guitar work, especially on the solos before landing back to a bleaker keyboard/vocal laden vibe. Ulf was in control of the programming sequences on the Apple laptop and was sort of half in half out of the band for the night. I’m sure he’s integral to the band but I don’t think pressing a few keys on a laptop qualifies as musician status (he did a bit of backing vocals mind).

I wasn’t long before I was tapping my feet to a number of rather catchy tunes.  I’ve seen them described as folktronica, but live they certainly are not that – too many riffs and solos.  I took quite a few videos and they are now on my YouTube channel if anyone is interested.  Alas, time is tight and I can’t be bothered to work out which songs they were (note: if anyone knows please let me know so I can update them).

Flunk Setlist (Note chord changes for Anja)

  • Personal Stereo[Personal Stereo, 2009]
  • TMTTUOT[Chemistry and Math, 2017]
  • If We Kiss[Personal Stereo, 2009]
  • Petrified[Chemistry and Math, 2017]

    Flunk London Setlist
    Flunk London Setlist – 100 Club 24 Jan 2018
  • Common Sense[This Is What You Get, 2009]
  • Your Beautiful Lies[Chemistry and Math, 2017]
  • Play[Morning Star, 2004]
  • Six Seven Times[Morning Star, 2004]
  • Hello. Planet Awesome[Chemistry and Math, 2017]
  • Outsiders[Chemistry and Math, 2017]
  • Queen of the Underground[Lost Causes, 2013]

Encore

  • On My Balcony – [Morning Star, 2004]*
  • Only You – [Cover Ups – The Home Recordings, 2016]
  • Blue Monday – [For Sleepyheads Only, 2002]
  • Sit Down – [Personal Stereo, 2009]*

*These were not played on the night.  

At the end of the evening both bands hung around and chatted with the punters (you’re never going to get this at a big-ticket gig) did photos and signed stuff.  They all seemed lovely people and hanks to Anja for photos and signing my CD.

So, to summarise – Flunk, and to an extent their support band, pretty much evoke the musical landscape of the sounds you’d make if you lived near the Arctic circle without daylight for months at a time and consumed the odd spliff or six.  Words like bleak, angry/edgy, whimsical, melodic, ethereal, chilled all readily come to mind.

A real treat, loved the ambience, the music and at £12.50 a real steal!  Now to check out their back catalogue!

 

Stub - Flunk [24 Jan 2018] 100 Club London
Flunk [24 Jan 2018] 100 Club London

Marko, 26 January 2018

Ps – I would have done this sooner but the following day was taken over by a severe hangover!

Gig Review: Deep Purple – London O2 [23 Nov 2017]

So finally, I get to see Deep Purple, 45 years after buying the seminal ‘Made in Japan’.  Life got in the way, timings were bad etc. but I’m glad I managed to get to see them – albeit there are some reservations, read on.

Next year it will be 50 years since they started and as of today their average age is 69, combined age 344 (don’t you just love Microsoft Excel) with Glover and Gillan in their early 70’s.  As it happens Ian Paice is the only member who has been in every incarnation of Purple.

So, given their ages, we are treated to songs (lots of classics omitted) that give members their spot in the limelight whilst the others ‘have a rest’ and also nothing too strenuous on Ian Gillan’s vocal chords – he ain’t gonna hit the high notes on ‘Child in Time’ any more for example.  That said his voice is still rather good.  Ian also gave us some small talk in-between songs – nothing too enlightening – Ian joking about the floor seats “I’m sorry they’re not sofas or futons”, which got a bit of a laugh.

The stage itself was a simple affair with a bank of speakers/amps in a straight line with Ian Paice and Don Airey in the middle and loads of room in front.  All that room was a bit too much for Steve Morse as he rarely left his spot with the foot pedals whilst Roger and Ian were a bit more active!  There were two medium sized video screens at either side of the stage and a huge screen backdrop behind the band which showed intermittent live band images, videos e.g. newspaper/TV images of the Montreux fire during ‘Smoke on the Water’ and some rather simple graphics.  In the twilight of their careers Deep Purple have updated their classic Mount Rushmore ‘In Rock’ LP cover with the band members’ faces etched into a giant iceberg (let’s hope it’s not melting!).  Nice – next live LP cover anyone?IMG_4

It might be their ‘Long Goodbye’ tour but it’s also an excuse to plug their new LP ‘inFinite’ quite a lot.  From where I was up in the gods, you could clearly see Ian looking down at the floor when singing the newer numbers (zooming in you could see a bunch of sheets of paper stuck to the floor presumably with the lyrics on them).  He might be getting old but his eyesight is ok!

The core mainstays of Roger (resplendent in his time-honoured bandana), and both Ian’s actually look pretty good for their ages and looked like they were enjoying themselves in front of a 90% full O2 crowd (top tier at the back was curtained off).  This year I also saw Richie Blackmore’s Rainbow, which was pretty crap – see my review, and Purple were infinitely better!

They play together instinctively, tight or loose with clever interplay.  After all these years on the road I wouldn’t expect anything different.  Riff here, riff there on a pretty good mix of new and old classics for the hardcore fans.  Everyone was singing once those famous chords were hit – all together now “we all went out to Montreux…”

Now I know these guys are all virtuoso musicians but in my humble opinion I didn’t need to have a damn extended guitar/keyboard/bass/drum solo quite so frequently. To me it didn’t enhance the show, it was too self-indulgent ‘hey look how good I am’ and in the end got really annoying and boring.  Don Airey was the chief protagonist of this and from where I was sat in Row A of the gods all I could see on the video screens were his stubby arthritic fingers pounding away on the ivory’s. He has no change of ever removing his wedding ring!

If they had just stuck to the songs as per the LP versions, they could have probably included at least another 3 iconic songs on the night.  It was billed as the Long Goodbye tour so I was expecting more of their classics – the songs were good but they were not the songs I wanted to hear!  Don’t get me wrong, they were exceedingly good e.g. ‘Fireball, Space Truckin’, Smoke’ on a number of songs.  When they decided to be clever and jam or solo that’s when it got irritating.

Setlist (click on link to watch the video)

  1. Time for Bedlam[inFinite, 2017]
  2. Fireball [Fireball, 1971]
  3. Bloodsucker [Deep Purple in Rock, 1970]
  4. All I Got Is You [inFinite, 2017]
  5. Uncommon Man (for Jon Lord) – [Now What?!, 2013]Deep Purple - Long Goodbye Tour 2017
  6. The Surprising[inFinite, 2017]
  7. Lazy[Machine Head, 1972]
  8. Birds of Prey[inFinite, 2017]
  9. Knocking at Your Back Door – [Perfect Strangers, 1984]
    Keyboard Solo
  10. Perfect Strangers – [Perfect Strangers, 1984]
  11. Space Truckin’[Machine Head, 1972]
  12. Smoke on the Water[Machine Head, 1972]*
    Encore:
  13. Peter Gunn (cover)
  14. Hush[Shades of Deep Purple, 1968]
    Bass Solo
  15. Black Night [7” Single, 1970]
    Drum Solo

*copyright Maria D’Innocenzo

The demographic of the audience was hard core fans and their offspring.  Call me old fashioned but having seats on the floor is just not R’n’R.  However, most people seemed to be standing throughout, so what’s the point?

It would be less of a long goodbye if they didn’t want to show off!

The support band were Europe, not my bag or other people’s either as they played to a half full crowd doing their best to get them going.  They had a few hard-core fans at the front who cheered and sang along throughout.  The Swedish rockers played a tight set of their well known stuff and newer tracks from their ‘Walk The Earth’ LP and finished with their most iconic track ‘The Final Countdown’.  Alas, the damn song is still imprinted on my brain – will this torment ever stop!

Addendum
Merchandising was hidden away on the first floor.  Funnily enough I saw a picture of the merch stand at the B’ham gig on the internet. One of the many goodies was a limited-edition drum skin autographed by all band members selling at £60.  In London it was priced at £80!. That really is taking the piss guys – not got enough money already?  I bought nothing in silent protest!Deep Purple merch

Marko – 25 Nov 2017