Live review: The Counterfeit Stones at St Mary in the Castle, Hastings 12/10/19

From the camp swagger of a stand-in in Mick Jagger, to the fag-in-mouth rock star posturing of a wanna-be Ronnie Wood and Keith Richards to endless tongue-in-cheek between-song banter (“Don’t worry we’re not going to be doing any of the recent stuff”) a night with the Counterfeit Stones is as much theatre as it is rock gig. However, they play just great and capture the sound of the 60s and 70s Stones really nicely.

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Photo credit: artist publicity

From the very early covers (‘Carol’ and ‘It’s All Over Now’) through to the era-defining Jagger/Richards compositions of the mid 60s (‘Time Is On My Side’, ‘Get Off My Cloud’, ‘Nineteenth Nervous Breakdown’, ‘Satisfaction’ et al) through to those perennial giants of late 60s/early 70s rock mega-stardom (including ‘It’s Only Rock n Roll’, ‘Brown Sugar’ and ‘Honky Tonk Women’) the band kept true to their word of not playing anything released in the last thirty years. The disco-funk of ‘Miss You’ from 1978 and what many consider to be the last really great Stones song – ‘Start Me Up’ (released in 1981) were the most recent material that made the set-list tonight.

Aside from their tongue-in-cheek personas and schoolboy humour stage name’s the band are highly competent musicians who play well together, the Nicky Hopkins soundalike adding a real touch of authenticity. Outfit-wise they eschewed the hounds-tooth jackets or menacing black suits of the early Stones and gone for a late 70s/early 80s Stones look.

The full band are:

  • Nick Dagger is played by Steve Elson.
  • Keef Rickard is played by Stuart Fiddler
  • Charlie Mott is played by John Prynn.
  • Ronnie B Goode are played by David Birnie.
  • Bill Hymen is played by Steve Jones.
  • Nicky Popkiss is played by Holger Skepeneit.

I work for a charity called Stay Up Late which campaigns for adults with learning disabilities to be able to choose the sort of lifestyle they want to live and we also run the successful Gig Buddies project across Sussex. Accompanying me to the gig was Daniel who is one of our participants and an active campaigner for the charity as well as being an avid gig-goer.

Daniel’s verdict: “It was brilliant. I enjoyed dancing. I thought I’d bring my earplugs just in case but I loved how loud it was. Afterwards, I managed to get the whole band’s autographs.”

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https://www.thecounterfeitstones.com/

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Interview with Gary Moat of Burnt Out Wreck

On the day Burnt Out Wreck’s new album ‘This Is Hell’ is released I caught up with the band’s front-man and former Heavy Pettin’ drummer, Gary Moat.

So the new Burnt Out Wreck album is released today. Tell us about it.

Just carrying on in the same sort of style as ‘Swallow’ – the song itself, not particularly the whole album. More a straight-ahead kind of rock n roll. It’s a bit faster paced this album. We needed some of that to go live really. And we’re really looking forward to getting out there and doing it.

Did ‘Swallow’ kind of set the template for Burnt Out Wreck then?

Yes most certainly. It’s just my favourite style of music, you know. And that’s the way I write so I had to go down that path eventually in my life. So this is it. It’s just the best form, the most enjoyable form of rock I’ve ever heard in my life. So that’s why I had to do this.

On this album particularly because we’ve got all of the new band and obviously they’re playing on it live and yeah – it just sounds good because it’s not all come out of me this time.

Was the first album you bringing in different musicians then, before you created the permanent band?

I was doing it on my own and I said to Adrian (Dunn – guitarist) do you want to come in and have a go at this but it was just the two of us. I played drums. I played bass. I played rhythm guitar. But when you put a band together it becomes a different animal, you know. And it’s far better for it I must say.

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Everyone obviously comments on the AC/DC influence when they see Burnt Out Wreck.

You know, everyone always goes on about Bon Scott and AC/DC and that’s obviously the first thing that comes to mind for them and I sing in that register. At 15/16 AC/DC were just the best thing in the world and Bon Scott was amazing. And so that’s why I sing like that, not because I wanted to copy what he was doing but just because that’s the way that my voice developed. And because I was listening to them my whole life, I suppose, I took it on in my head somewhere. There are other bands though. People forget about bands like Rose Tattoo and Krokus – Airbourne even. Some people try and have a little dig at you because your ‘copying AC/DC’ but you know all of these bands are copying AC/DC if you like. But they’re not really because they’re just blues rock bands. I keep going back to this but if you go back to bands that inspired AC/DC, you know the old blues players from America. You can’t distinguish who’s who. They’re all playing a twelve-bar blues and they all sing like each other. It was not that different in the modern era.

When did the desire to sing first emerge? Were you thinking about it back in the days you were drumming with Heavy Pettin’?

Yeah I get asked this a lot. It was there in me. I suppose it’s there in everyone to get up and have a sing. When I was becoming a teenager and started going to pubs and clubs I started getting up and singing with other bands, as well as being the drummer in the band I was in at the time. But when we started Heavy Pettin’ Hamie was obviously the choice for the frontman because I was a drummer. And I had no intention of being a singer. I didn’t want to do it. But the thing is myself and Gordon were the songwriters and Hamie was the singer so I was making the parts up… So I’ve always been singing and writing songs. But when Heavy Pettin’ split up I thought I’m going to do it myself this time. But it’s taken all these years to actually get in there and make my own style.

And, presumably, when you were writing the songs it started to feel more authentic to sing them yourself and express yourself in that way?

Oh yeah. It sounds better coming out of yourself. And people tell me that all the time, you know and that they appreciate it. They like it. And thanks very much to those people.

It was quite a gap between Heavy Pettin’ coming to an end in the late 80s and Burnt Out Wreck now – talk us through what you were doing in between.

I was writing songs, of course, and some of the songs that are on these two albums were written many years ago but not finished. Never finished until I was going to pick them up for the albums. Because you just scribble an idea down. You just get a guitar riff and put it on tape or whatever way back and you just leave it on the shelf. But I’d get around to them eventually. After the band split up way back in 1989 everybody went their separate ways and did whatever they did – got jobs, got married, had kids and just cracked on with life, you know. It took until 1992 for me and Gordon to put a band together called Mother’s Ruin and we played around for many years just on and off. We did gigs mainly around the Milton Keynes area. And then everyone went their separate ways again, going to uni and stuff. We had some younger guys in it. But some of the songs from that are on the first album. But they just sat there and eventually it got to a point where I thought I just hate these songs being left there and nobody’s heard them so I thought I’d put them out you know.

It must be nice to see those song titles finally being released.

Yes and with the first album we’ve had praise from all around the world. Everyone seems to love it and the second album looks as though it’s going to go the same way.

Gary Moat

You’re supporting the Pete Way Band this autumn. And your old band was actually named after a UFO album. Did you know Pete from UFO days back then?

No. The only time I ever met Pete Way was 87/88 when we were recording the Big Bang album and Waysted were in the studio next door to us. I went to see UFO many times, of course. They were all big heroes and influences on all of us I suppose. He told me he really likes our stuff and obviously he’s looking forward to us playing. Yeah it’s just incredible that someone you think of as one of your old heroes thinks you’re good.

You obviously come across quite a few younger bands when you’re out gigging and doing festivals. Are you pleased to see this renaissance of classic rock and the so-called New Wave of Classic Rock? And are there any of the younger bands that you particularly admire?

We do a lot of these festivals and I’ve seen many people. I don’t actually listen to music. I just write my own stuff. I’m in my own little bubble and if I hear something then either instantly it’s good or instantly it’s oh never mind. There are some good bands. I especially like Scarlet Rebels who’ve supported us.

What can we expect from Burnt Out Wreck on this latest tour? Is it a mixture of songs from the two albums? Will there be any covers?

We usually play (Heavy Pettin’ song) ‘Rock Ain’t Dead’ but I don’t think we’ll be playing that any more. We’ve two albums worth now so we don’t need to be slapping that out now, even though it’s a big crowd pleaser and we’re certainly very good at playing it. But yeah we’re really excited and dying to get out to play live and to play some new material. Because we’ve been out on the road for three years, basically, and we’ve just been playing that one album. And we’ve been itching to get into the new one. We knew it was coming but I didn’t want to go out and play it until it was actually out. So we just waited and it will be a mixture. But more leaning towards the new album because er.. we just love it!

This Is Hell released 11 October 2019 on Burnt Out Wreck/Cherry Red
Burnt Out Wreck tour dates here https://www.burntoutwreck.com/tour

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Related reviews:

Anvil / Burnt Out Wreck / VOiD at The Underworld 2018

Four Sticks – Classic Rock All Dayer at the New Cross Inn

Four Sticks Classic Rock Weekender at the New Cross Inn

Pete Way interview

News: Scottish folk band Skipinnish celebrate twentieth anniversary

Scottish folk band Skipinnish celebrate their twentieth anniversary this year. The band’s origins may have been modest, gigging in pubs and bars and village halls but their rise in recent years has been phenomenal – with prestigious venues selling out, many millions of streams on Spotify and other platforms and their latest album Steer By The Stars reaching number 4 in the charts. And that was not some obscure specialist folk chart but the actual official UK mainstream charts .

Now the album has been nominated for Album of the Year at the Scottish Trad Music Awards. Fans of the band can vote for the album here: https://projects.handsupfortrad.scot/scotstradmusicawards/voting/

Visiting familiar themes for the band of ocean, island, landscape, love, hope, mortality, friendship and the pull of home the album was officially launched to a packed house at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall back in May this year and has gone on to attract many enthusiastic reviews.

The band’s twentieth anniversary is officially marked with a special performance at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on October 25th and that will be followed by a short tour of Scottish venues in December.

https://www.skipinnish.com/

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Folk: album review – Bird In The Belly ‘Neighbours and Sisters’

Sifting through a stack of new folk CDs that arrived in the post for review over recent weeks, this one immediately stood out.

Bird in the Belly are a Brighton-based traditional four-piece and their debut album The Crowing, which was released in Spring 2018, caused something of a stir – picking up numerous plaudits including the Sunday Express’s album of the year.

Neighbours and Sisters immediately impressed the moment I put it on, putting me in mind of a pre-amped up, early Steeleye Span in some ways. The collective is made up of Ben ‘Jinnwoo’ Webb (vocals), Laura Ward (vocals, flute), Adam Ronchetti (percussion, acoustic guitar, shruti) and multi-instrumentalist Tom Pryor (violin, guitars, organ, banjo, bass, additional vocals). With eight traditional songs and two originals they’ve delved deep into the folk song index and unearthed some wonderful, but not particularly well-known, nineteenth century ballads and applied some breathtakingly good arrangements. Webb’s voice is as gravelly and full of character as Ward’s is pure and enchanting. Together they are a perfect fit. This sounds like an album I’ve been playing for years and fell in love with a long, long time ago – and I’ve only had it on twice so far…

An album of character, presence and purpose combined with superb vocals, effortlessly brilliant instrumentation and excellent song choices, Neighbours & Sisters is set to be one of the stand-out folk albums of 2019.

Released: 18th October 2019 by GF*M Records

https://www.birdinthebelly.com/

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Interview with Pete Way – ahead of his UK tour Darren talks to the former UFO bass supremo

This interview was published by Get Ready to Rock here

It wasn’t that long ago that the only news we’d be reading about Pete Way was in connection with his various ongoing health battles. But now, following a well-publicised autobiography in 2017, he’s back on the road performing. A UK tour begins later this month and a new album ‘Walking On The Edge’ is due out at the end of January. Always a charismatic stage presence in his UFO days (the archetypal motionless bass-player mode was never one for him) one of rock’s most colourful characters and, improbably, one of the great survivors of to-the-limits rock ‘n’ roll excess is now back as front-man of his own Pete Way Band.

What can fans expect from the tour?

Wild rock – with a couple of ballads. For the shows there’s stuff from the album, stuff from The Plot – the album with Michael Schenker, there’s the Amphetamine album, I do a little bit from Waysted and I do the obvious songs, the ones that everyone remembers, from UFO. You know people buy a ticket and they want them. I was talking to Phil (Mogg) recently and he said the same: ‘you have to do them’.

Out of all the classics that you had a hand in for UFO which are the ones you are most proud of?

Oh that’s difficult to say really. We do ‘Shoot Shoot’. We do ‘Too Hot to Handle’, ‘Doctor Doctor’…

And so you’ve been getting a good response from audiences so far then?

Oh incredibly so, yes. I mean we go out of our way to do that. There’s no indulgent excess but people come along for a guitar show. I mean there’s a lot of lead guitar. Playing in UFO or Waysted there was also a lot of guitar. The thing is there’s nothing too egotistical. We just play the songs.

Do you play bass throughout the show or is it just certain songs?

Here and there. I could be 100% vocals or I could be 100% bass and get another singer in. But, you know, I wrote all the words when I wrote these songs. Apart from, obviously, the UFO songs where it was with Phil. You would have to give Phil a very precise melody and he would write the words as he saw it to fit – but I would give Phil the melody.

On the tour you have Burnt Out Wreck supporting you – another band with musician- turned-frontman in the form of former Heavy Pettin drummer, Gary Moat.

Yeah Gary is very talented. I mean, yes, I see the AC/DC influence but they write all their own songs. They compliment what we do. All my songs are about my experiences in life which is a bit like something from a Quentin Tarantino film. They balance that out with what they do.

You’re clearly still in touch with Phil. Could you imagine sharing a stage with UFO now?

Nah. My main focus now is on vocals. Everybody says to me you’ve got character in your voice and, you know, it seems to work so I’ve got to get on with it. My heroes are not the vocalists who sound like opera singers. They are people like Bon Scott and Bob Dylan.

Your autobiography ‘A Fast Ride Out of Here’ in many ways is that familiar tale of middle-class suburban kid becoming wild rock star. But the wildness started fairly early on didn’t it? You say in the book you first smoked heroin at 13, for example.

When I first met Phil I was, like, 15. The people we hung out with were the people who were older. It’s like David Bowie said – we did things that other people thought incongruous. But I felt comfortable in that role and in going into things with that attitude to life. But, of course, the icing on the cake was actually getting to America. Suddenly, we’d got money, you know. But we were professional in that we always gave a good show. Because if you’re in a shambles it’s always easy to mess up. But we were totally focused on the show and it was only afterwards when we’d get fucked up. It really was a journey. I could blow half a million in a year but, you know, we always gave a good show.

In your book Joe Elliott of Def Leppard is quoted as saying: “If you threw Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood in a bucket and mixed them up you’d end up with Pete.” Is that a fairly accurate description of you?

Oh, Joe and I go back a very long way. Myself and Ross Halfin are always having a bit of a laugh at Joe and, you know, he would say anything about people to go (adopts mock Yorkshire accent) ‘I’ll fucking get him back for that’.

After all the health battles you went through: addiction, cancer, heart attacks – there must have been times when you thought you wouldn’t be performing on stage again. What does it feel like to be out on the road again?

Great. It was three or four minor heart attacks but the prostrate cancer was the main thing. And you don’t know you’re ill until you find out from a professional. For me if I was feeling a bit under the weather I’d just have another drink or do another line or something but it gets to that point where you have to get checked out. It took me a long time to grow up. I still haven’t really grown up. And so it was a health battle of my own making. And now, ironically, I have to take medication because of all the drugs I used to take. But I’ve written some good songs and I’m looking forward to getting the album out there and getting out there with the show.

The Pete Way Band’s #ExpectTheUnexpected UK tour begins on October 23rd. Full tour dates here: http://www.peteway.co.uk/tour-dates/4594565419

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Related posts:

Review: UFO at Shepherds Bush Empire 2018

Review: Michael Schenker at Shepherds Bush Empire 2017

 

News: All change at The Sweet

Vocalist/multi-instrumentalist, Tony O’Hora, has left The Sweet. In a statement put out by the band on social media the musician is said to have left for “personal family reasons”. Led by Andy Scott, one of the two surviving members of the classic-era foursome, the band’s line-up had been stable for a  good number of years and attracted many favourable reviews for the sheer professionalism and quality of their live shows. However, lead singer/bass-player, Pete Lincoln, left earlier in the year and is now followed by O’Hora. Old Sweet hand, Steve Mann, is stepping in once again to assist the band on their remaining 2019 dates. Lee Small comes in as a permanent member playing bass.

The band’s full statement is reproduced here:

“Tony has left Sweet. A month ago Tony handed in his notice to quit Sweet citing personal family reasons. We were unsure how to deal with his request as it had happened previously. This time however it was serious and though difficult, we have had to make changes to move forward. We respect his decision and wish him well for the future. So with the future in mind I can now reveal how the band will look going forwards to 2020. Let me start by saying that having to replace two members in quick succession is not something I would recommend to anyone but it gives one great satisfaction when it comes together. Steve Mann will be rejoining Sweet for all dates in November and December including the “Still Got the Rock Tour UK”. Our last show in Kelbra in September featured Steve and it was brilliant to have him on stage with us again. Our “newbie” is Lee Small. He will play bass and add another brilliant voice to the band. To say I am very pleased is an understatement. Paul Manzi will now be the Frontman, lead vocals and occasional guitar. Anyone who saw us perform at Kelbra will have seen him in full flow. So there it is – Sweet – looking forward to the future and seeing you at one of the 34 shows in November and December. Not forgetting our Australian fraternity and our upcoming appearance on Rock the Boat 2019 departing Sydney 19th October.”

I’ll be catching the band on their 2019 UK winter tour – watch this space for a review.

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Tony O’Hora (right) with Andy Scott (left)

Related posts:

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Folk-rock: DVD review – Merry Hell ‘A Year In The Life of Merry Hell’

Evolving out of an ad-hoc reunion of 90s folk-punk band, the Tansads, Wigan-based folk rockers, Merry Hell, have been making a decisive impact on the UK’s folk and festival scene over the past nine years. With several albums under their belt they now come at us with a DVD. Titled ‘A Year In The Life of Merry Hell’ it’s a documentary that follows the band between February 2018 and February 2019 – and when we say documentary it is very much a carefully-crafted film worthy of the name rather than a video of concert footage with a few dressing room interviews tacked on to the end.

Made by the band themselves and produced, directed, filmed and edited by Merry Hell fiddle player, Neil McCartney, it’s a fascinating insight into this tightly-knit band of close family members and long-term friends.

We see the band on the road – at festivals and backstage at various venues – but we also see individual members at home, in pubs or visiting some of their favourite places. We get to hear about musical influences (punk, Susan Vega, Nick Drake and hymn melodies…) but we also get to hear about literary influences, too. Orwell looms large, and not just for Wigan Pier, either.

Engaging, funny, moving, and highly personal, as band documentaries go ‘A Year In The Life of Merry Hell’ stands head and shoulders above many films about far, far more famous musicians. In fact, I’d go so far as saying that even if you’d never heard of Merry Hell and you had zero interest in folk rock, this documentary would still be compulsive viewing for the warm and very human portrayal of its subject matter.

Released: September 2019 

http://www.merryhell.co.uk/

documentary-cover

Related reviews:

Album review: Merry Hell ‘Anthems To The Wind’

EP review: Merry Hell ‘Bury Me Naked’

EP review: Merry Hell ‘Come On England!’

 

 

News: ‘Say It All The Time’ – East Sussex duo Milton Hide release fund-raising single to raise awareness of male suicide

Released: 10th October 2019 (World Mental Health Day) in digital formats

Prompted by a bleak mood that came over him during a walk on the South Downs one day and the subsequent death of a musician friend who had tragically taken his own life, East Sussex-based singer-songwriter, Jim Tipler, was inspired to write a song putting all those feelings into words. Recording it with his wife and musical partner, Josie, the duo joined forces with acclaimed producer and musician, John Fowler, and talented local film-maker, Alex Thomas. Proceeds from sales of the single will go to CALM – the Campaign Against Living Miserably. CALM is leading a movement against suicide, the single biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK. They run a confidential advice line seven days a week.

Milton Hyde’s Jim Tipler comments:
“The inspiration for Say It All The Time was in fact a short film called ‘Black Tuesday’ which I made for a competition entry a couple of years ago. It was a three-minute long movie of a walk on the South Downs. I was in a very bleak mood and I just started filming what I saw and then came up with a script. I’ve never felt ‘suicidal’ but on that day, for no apparent reason, my mood was very dark. I don’t usually write songs about feelings. They tend to be more kind of story or situation-based but the lyrics of this song tie in quite closely with the script of the movie and speak of how many of us, particularly men, hide our feelings, when actually the ‘brave’ thing to do is to share them. I came up with the idea for turning the script into a song shortly after the shocking news that a fellow musician and friend that I had only recently got to know had taken his own life. This was only a few months after a member of my extended family had done the same.”

“I’m really hoping the record and video boost awareness of what can only be described as an epidemic of male suicide and will maybe raise some money towards running a helpline that could save a life or make life a little more bearable for those who have lost loved ones this way. CALM seemed like a great fit. Josie, my wife and bandmate, and I have three grown-up sons so we are only too painfully aware of the terrible statistics around male suicide.”

Simon Gunning, CEO of the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM), said:
“As an organisation that has always worked closely with the music community, we’re delighted that Milton Hide have chosen to support CALM with their new single. Music can be a powerful forum for conversation and expression, so it’s great to see the band sharing such a positive message and using their platform to raise awareness of the issue of suicide and of the services that are available to anyone who may be going through a tough time.”

Reflecting on the process of recording the song and filming the accompanying video, Jim, comments:
“John Fowler’s treatment of the song is incredible. He is such an amazing musician and producer. He discussed what he wanted to do with it in terms of giving it an epic sound whilst retaining the dreamy ethereal quality of Josie’s voice. He did most of the instrumentation, with me doing my acoustic guitar thing and backing vocals. those people that have heard Milton Hide before might be a little surprised but we are so excited by what he’s achieved. Independently of that, a talented film-maker friend of ours, Alex Thomas, said he really wanted to do a video of it. We thought it churlish to refuse both of these generous offers and thought that we could repay that generosity by helping a charity. We roped in loads of mates to help depict a party scene where the host is the centre of attention but feels isolated. A brilliant way of showing the loneliness we can all experience in a crowd.”

Information about CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) can be found at: https://www.thecalmzone.net/

Milton Hide is Jim Tipler and Josie Tipler

Website: https://www.miltonhide.com

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Live review: Slade at Concorde 2, Brighton 21/9/19

Put together in the early 90s following the demise of the original band, Dave Hill and Don Powell’s version of Slade has now been around even longer than the twenty-five years that the classic Noddy Holder-fronted line-up managed. The band are at Brighton’s Concorde 2 for a rescheduled date following a cancellation last Christmas when drummer, Don Powell, was hospitalised after his legs gave way and both tendons snapped.

Since their last gig at this venue in 2016 there’s been a few changes. Don Powell is absent tonight. He’s making a good recovery, Dave Hill tells us, but is still under doctor’s orders not to resume work behind the drum-kit just yet. Stand-in drummer, Alex, does an admirable job filling in. The more lasting change, however, is that former lead singer and rhythm guitarist, Mal McNulty, has gone – to be replaced by keyboard player/vocalist, Russell Keefe. This has had a significant impact on the band’s sound and set-list.

On the plus-side it means that several of the hit singles that were built around Jim Lea’s piano-playing can be performed in a way that’s a far closer approximation to the original recordings. The likes of ‘Look Wot You Dun’, My Friend Stan’, ‘Everyday’ and ‘My Oh My’ do sound far, far better on stage with keyboards. On the minus side Keefe is really not a very appealing singer at all. Noddy Holder had a famously gravelly vocal delivery but there was a warmth to Holder’s voice and there was a fantastic range. Keefe’s voice is gravelly alright but has none of the latter and very little of the former.

The good news, however, is that Keefe only performs lead vocals for around half the set. Bass-player, John Berry, whose vocals began taking on a more prominent role in Slade’s stage-set during the latter period of McNulty’s years, takes lead vocals on many of the slower numbers. Keefe, meanwhile, is left to murder the out and out rockers, singing on the likes of ‘Gudbuy ‘T Jane’, ‘Bangin’ Man’ and ‘Get Down and Get With It’. My advice to Dave Hill is this: get John Berry doing vocals on everything. He’s got a great voice, he’s been a loyal member of the band for a good number of years now and while he never pretends to sound like Noddy Holder he’s got an authentic delivery and a passion to his vocals that suits Slade’s style.

Dave Hill is, of course, Dave Hill. Eccentrically-dressed as ever: a diminutive figure bouncing all over the stage, delivering the familiar solos and holding the whole thing together. The crowd respond accordingly. Both he and they genuinely look to be having a really great time. I am delighted he’s still out on the road and still giving his all to Slade. Hopefully, both Dave Hill and a returning Don Powell have a few more years of Slade left in them yet. I do just hope that they get to rethink the situation with the vocals somewhat.

https://www.slade.uk.com/

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Related posts:

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Giants of Rock, Minehead 26-29 January 2018

Live review: Justin Hayward at De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill 18/9/19

Strolling along the seafront earlier this summer I spot a poster advertising a Moody Blues tribute band at Hastings’ White Rock Theatre and a few paces along I spot another poster advertising Justin Hayward doing a solo gig at Bexhill’s De La Warr Pavilion. Hmm a difficult one – £22.50 for a tribute or £39.50 for the lead singer of the real thing. Unsurprisingly, I forked out the extra seventeen quid and plumped for the latter.

It’s a stripped-down but not quite acoustic set from My Hayward tonight. With the man himself on vocals and guitar he’s accompanied by young guitar virtuoso, Mike Dawes, keyboard player, Julie Raggins, and flautist, Karmen Gould. Hayward’s voice is a deeper register than the one we know on the classic recordings but it’s still in very, very good shape and still instantly recognisable.

At one point in the proceedings he talks about being haunted by a ghost – the ghost of Justin Hayward, young singer of the Moody Blues between 1967-1973 – as he contends that every media interview he does, after a few pleasantries about what he’s up to these days, immediately moves on to extensive questioning about what exactly was going through his mind in great detail at very precise moments during those heyday years. A cardboard cut-out of the young ‘ghost’ in question is brought on stage to emphasise the point. Though Hayward confesses he struggles to recall much of the period, it doesn’t stop him from giving us a few choice anecdotes. And of course, it doesn’t stop him from delivering some gorgeous versions of many of those classic songs. This ‘All The Way Tour’ promised an extensive look-back at Hayward’s back catalogue and, indeed, delivers.

‘Tuesday Afternoon’, ‘Voices In The Sky’ and, of course, ‘Nights in White Satin’ among many others from the Moody Blues catalogue, ‘Who Are You Now?’ from his recording work with John Lodge, not to mention ‘Forever Autumn’ from Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds. Even in more stripped-back mode without a full electric rock band behind them the songs are still lush and beautiful and highlight what a fearsomely talented song-writer Hayward is.

Coming back on stage for an encore he picks up his red electric for a wondrous rendition of ‘Blue Guitar’. It’s back to the acoustic for ‘The Story In Your Eyes’ and ‘I know You’re Out There Somewhere’ and Hayward and his band-mates leave the stage to rapturous applause.

Set-list:

Who Are You Now?
Dawning Is the Day
Tuesday Afternoon
Voices in the Sky
The Actor
Are You Sitting Comfortably?
Haunted
The Western Sky
Forever Autumn
Never Comes the Day
Your Wildest Dreams
Question
Nights in White Satin
Blue Guitar
The Story in Your Eyes
I Know You’re Out There Somewhere

http://www.justinhayward.com/