Monthly Archives: June 2015

Blur at Hyde Park 20/6/15

To say that much of the music of the 80s left me cold is something of an understatement. Even though it was the era I came of age in, exploring music and bands of earlier decades held much more appeal. But when Blur and Britpop appeared my appetite for new music and new bands was dramatically awakened, like hitting a second bout of teenager-dom. I’d just started Uni in my late 20s as a mature student and Parklife was rarely off the juke box in the Goldsmiths college bar in 94.

And two decades later Blur are going strong and headlining Hyde Park once again, something they have done more than any other band according to the official blurb for this summer’s series of gigs in the Royal Park. And having seen them here in 2009 for their fantastically received reunion it’s good to be seeing them again. Unlike 2009, however, Blur have a new album to promote and they open with Go Out from this year’s The Magic Whip. Imagery from the album cover (featuring a big Mr Whippy) dominated the graphics on the big screen and they even have an ice-cream van on stage with Damon Albarn handing out cornets to hungry punters at the front. They play five songs from the new album tonight. It’s a strong album with strong tunes but the sound and feel is unmistakably Blur and they fit in well to the overall set. That not to say, however, there’s not a huge selection of classic Blur that everyone can sing along to, including There’s No Other Way, Beetlebum, Tender, Song 2, This is a Low and, of course, Parklife, with Phil Daniels coming on stage to reprise his famous spoken commentary (and hand out a few ice-creams, too, of course…)

The crowd is hugely good natured and it’s very much a communal celebration in Hyde Park. These songs have stood the test of time and are rightly held in great affection, as are the band who play them. Blur helped give a much-needed shake-up to a dreary and uninspiring UK music scene twenty-odd years ago and the love for the band tonight is testimony as to why they have been so important. Now let’s hear it for a Supergrass reunion…

Setlist:

Go Out
There’s No Other Way
Lonesome Street
Badhead
Coffee & TV
Out of Time
Beetlebum
Thought I Was a Spaceman
Trimm Trabb
He Thought of Cars
End of a Century
I Broadcast
Trouble in the Message Centre
Tender
Parklife (with Phil Daniels)
Ong Ong
Song 2
To the End
This Is a Low
Stereotypes
Girls & Boys
For Tomorrow
The Universal

http://www.blur.co.uk/

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Fotheringay at Under the Bridge, London 19/6/15

Sandy Denny was the finest British female singer-songwriter that ever lived. Fotheringay was the short-lived band she formed in 1970 on leaving Fairport Convention.  It lasted less than a year, but forty-five years on the surviving members have reformed for a short tour and are playing their first London gig since 1970. Band reunions can elicit mixed reactions and some questions went through my mind on this one. However talented the remaining musicians are, would this be a worthwhile exercise with the band’s two main front-people, Sandy Denny and her husband Trevor Lucas, long since deceased? As soon as the band come on stage, though, and open with Nothing More, the opening number on the original Fotheringay album, all doubts are set aside.

Joining original Fotheringay members, Jerry Donahue, Gerry Conway and Pat Donaldson, are Sally Barker and Katheryn Roberts doing the Sandy parts and PJ Wright stepping into Lucas’s shoes. I’ve long been impressed with Katheryn Roberts but Sally Barker I was rather rude about when I saw her guesting on a jarring version of Denny’s Who Knows Where the Time Goes with Fairport last summer. But both were hugely impressive tonight. While avoiding doing a “Now Matthew I’m going to be…” impersonation they nevertheless deliver the songs faithfully, passionately and beautifully. I’ll take my criticism of Barker back – she was utterly wonderful tonight in bringing alive these four decade-old songs. Singer/guitarist PJ Wright could not have been a more appropriate choice for singing those songs that Lucas had originally written and performed also, his rich voice perfectly capturing the spirit of the original Fotheringay recordings. Jerry Donahue’s beautifully expressive guitar work is always wonderful to hear, and I’ve seen him with numerous combinations of musicians in the past, but this was very special.

Fotheringay’s short but remarkable life meant their back catalogue was never extensive. But they play all the songs any follower of the band would expect and special highlights for me included John the Gun, Knights of the Road, Late November and a sing-along Peace in the End, the closer before the final old—school rock ‘n’ roll encore.

Apart from the occasional guests, Denny’s most famous ex-band, Fairport Convention, always eschewed the temptation to recruit another female vocalist on the grounds that Denny is irreplaceable. That she is irreplaceable goes without saying. But what the Fotheringay reunion demonstrates is that Denny’s songs undeniably sound many, many times better delivered with a female vocal, as they were originally conceived.

Well done Fotheringay, old and new, for putting this reunion together and for pulling it off so magnificently.

Setlist:

Nothing More
The Sea
Ned Kelly
Winter Winds
John the Gun
Gypsy Davy
Knights of the Road
Banks of the Nile
Bold Jack Donahue
The Way I Feel
Solo
I Don’t Believe You
It’ll Take a Long Time
Too Much of Nothing
Late November
Peace in the End
Memphis Tennessee

http://www.fotheringay.com/

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