Elkie Brooks – Gig Review

Harlow Playhouse – 22 October 2016

Well Elkie is in a good mood and the near sell-out crowd at Harlow is also.  You’d never believe that Elkie is now 71 but boy does she look and sound good.  Thankfully her band don’t have much of a PA stack (given the majority of the audience have free bus passes and go on Saga holidays – tee hee) so sound levels are comfortable and her extraordinary voice soars.

Now I must admit I know very little about Elkie apart from her days with Vinegar Joe, and my wife got the tickets, so I don’t actually know her own material (apart from the hits).  The ‘British Queen of Blues’ had a two-part set – both interspersed with a mix of her songs and excellent covers. The first part was generally more mellow showcasing her voice and the sax, whilst after the interval it was more up tempo RnB and rock based.

Her piercing voice has its own ‘pitch-perfect’ sound (ask the drummer who looks like he should be in Iron Maiden by the way) and is well supported by some good musicians.

Songs I remember from the night (apart from her own material) include:poster-elkie-brooks-22-oct-2016-harlow-playhouse

  • Fool If You Think It’s Over; Sunshine After the Rain; Lilac Wine; Pearl’s A Singer (crowd sing-along favourite); Gasoline Alley; We’ve Got Tonight; Purple Rain; Nights in White Satin and by far away the best bit of the night a cover of The Doors classic Roadhouse Blues.

At one point she held a high note for 20-30 seconds, then fell back into the song without missing a beat.

Elkie has aged like a fine wine (not lilac obviously) – probably down to Nivea cream (she mentioned that she has contemplated plastic surgery and had used all the most expensive creams but all were useless compared to Nivea).  Then added that when you’re in your 70’s you “don’t give a shit anyway!”.

I don’t own any of her songs (apart from Proud to be a Honky Woman with Vinegar Joe) but I would wager she comes into her own live on stage as opposed to vinyl – the power of her voice is a beauty to behold.  At 71 she can still strut her stuff and is ‘fit as a fiddle’ as showcased on Roadhouse Blues.  She looked like she was having a great time.

A simple set, no gimmicks, no flash lighting and typical no messing (telling one lady in the front row to “I’m distracted, stop videoing me please I can’t focus”) from a northern gal.

I went with some friends who were all suitably impressed. So much so that one of them commented on Twitter “Wow. Wonderful evening. Had to put my beer down to applaud”.   Faint praise indeed!

She was in a good mood and by the end so was the whole audience.  Ageing with attitude – come back soon Elkie.

Marko 23 Oct 2016

The Tubes – Under the Bridge gig review

Mondo Pulp 2016 UK Tour

‘Under the Bridge’ gig – Friday 7th October 2016

I bought the 12” single ‘White Punks on Dope’ in 1976, probably off the back of reading about them in the music press, and was suitably impressed. A mighty fine ditty! Time passed and I got the Remote Control LP and again time passed (37 years…) and I saw they were on tour so thought why not. As it turns out it was one of the best evenings out in a long while and a snip at £28.50.  I’m also going to explore their back catalogue now – I missed out on a lot.

I’d never been to the ‘Under the Bridge’ venue before (part of the East Stand at Chelsea FC) and what a little gem of a place it is. A wonderful small venue where you can get up and personal with the band!

It’s the first night of their Mondo Pulp 2016 tour (UK leg) but they are well drilled, tight knit on top form and look to be enjoying themselves (well they have already played Germany and Holland so they’ve had practice!). Roger and Prairie Prince (resplendent in a “Trump is a cunt” t-shirt – wonder who he’s voting for?) grab the musician’s limelight with their solo’s and persona but are expertly accompanied by Rick on bass and David on keyboards. Rick lends a hand with Fee’s wardrobe changes during the set as well as providing much needed balance for a certain Mr. Quay Lude.  These are excellent musos at their peak!

Their theatrics are unsurprisingly scaled down but the immense Fee still dons a succession of costumes, transforming his persona and clothes from Zoot suit; Lunatic straight jacket, Venetian mask, Pill head, Johnny rocker, Gimp, Cowboy, Game show host, himself and the infamous Quay Lude to suit the songs. Fee’s certainly a born showman.  For a band all in their mid-60’s they deliver a powerful 2 hour 20 minute set full of hits and omissions (e.g. TV is King, Don’t Touch me There, Prime Time).

Set List – I think?

  1. Overture
  2. You Never Can Tell (Chuck Berry)

    Mondo Pulp 2016 UK tour
  3. The Monkey Time
  4. Tip of My Tongue
  5. James Brown Medley
  6. Overture Reprise
  7. Mr. Hate
  8. Amnesia
  9. Turn Me On
  10. Golden Boy
  11. Gimme Dat Harp Boy (Captain Beefheart)
  12. Stella
  13. Mondo Bondage
  14. Why Can’t I Walk Away?
  15. What do You want from Life?
  16. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (Gene Pitney)
  17. Love’s a Mystery
  18. Tubes World Tour
  19. White Punks on Dope
  20. She’s a Beauty
  21. I Saw Her Standing There (Beatles)
  22. Talk to Ya Later

The band loves London and England (Fee repeats it frequently) – to be fair we adopted them when their native America were somewhat ambivalent.  An eclectic audience of young, old and normal (surely some mistake -ed) are enthralled with the imagery and musical styles.

During No Way Out Fee dons a cardboard box (a TV with prison bars made from drug bottles) to deliver his message that the drug companies have taken over commercial TV advertising with cures for problems you never knew you had.

The whole audience is loving it and singing along. But we are all waiting for the great drugged-out, platform-booted Quay Lewd so we can exaltedly scream out ‘White Punks on Dope’ repeatedly. We are not let down, Quay appears in all his ‘glam’our long hair/mirror glasses/24” heels and false penis throbbing through his silver spandex trousers.

Highly entertaining, visually exciting and they still seem unique even after 44 odd years of excess.  The Tubes should be declared a national treasure!

Thanks boys – a brilliant night.
Ps – my step daughter came along with me, she had never heard of you before, but she said she loved every single moment. A new fan is born.

Marko – 8 October 2016