Tag Archives: Brighton

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:

Jim Lea For One Night Only – At The Robin
Interview with Jim Lea
Slade at Donnington 1981
Slade, strikes and the three-day week: the greatest Christmas record ever made
Slade at White Rock Theatre, Hastings 2015
Giants of Rock, Minehead 26-29 January 2018

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Sunny Afternoon (the musical based on the story of the Kinks) at The Theatre Royal, Brighton 22/12/16

I’m not normally a huge fan of musicals. However, I am a huge fan of The Kinks so when the opportunity to see Sunny Afternoon came up I was never going to say no.

With most musicals I generally find the mix of dialogue and song unconvincing. The one musical I have properly enjoyed prior to this was Buddy, telling the story of the rise and fatal crash of Buddy Holly & The Crickets. This at least made sure that the only musical parts of the dramatisation were when the characters were realistically engaged in rehearsing, recording or performing.

With his love of love of music hall and vaudeville, however, this was never going to be an option for Ray Davies and it’s very much a musical in the fullest sense of the word – with choreographed dance routines, whole-cast sing-alongs, chunks of dialogue delivered in song and the full works. Normally, the sort of thing that would make me run a mile. But, as well as good, loud, convincing performances of many Kinks songs there was much I found to like in this production. It ostensibly tells the story of Ray Davies’ battle between artistic integrity on the one hand, and the demands of the 60s-era music business on the other. But the fiery relationship between Ray and brother Dave is also examined. (Why do nearly all brothers in bands have such fiery relationships?). Although there is a temptation for the Dave character to come across as a two-dimensional wanna-be-rockstar-cum-actual-rockstar he is brilliantly played by Mark Newnham and some of the complexities of the character and his relationship with his brother are convincingly explored.

Some of the more overly-theatrical elements of the show irked slightly but there were some really powerful scenes, too. My favourite bit is towards the end when the band are in the studio laying down the parts to Waterloo Sunset. It’s genuinely moving seeing the characters lay down hostilities and come together in this scene, emotionally as well as artistically. Overall, even for a hardened sceptic on this whole theatrical genre, I found Sunny Afternoon hugely enjoyable.

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http://sunnyafternoonthemusical.com/

Related review:
Dave Davies (with Ray!) Islington 2015

Hawkwind at The Old Market, Hove 29/9/14

Although I’d seen various Hawkwind offshoots composed of various combinations of ex-members, tonight is the first time I’d seen the band, formed in 1969, that continues to carry the Hawkwind name to this day. The Old Market is a small to medium sized venue and is absolutely jam-packed this evening. The audience are suitably attired, looking pretty much exactly as you would expect at a Hawkwind gig, even if some of them have walking sticks. However, there is a healthy smattering of 20- and 30-somethings  throughout the crowd, too. Proof that the band are still reaching new audiences, even today.

I’d not caught Hawkwind themselves before and I’ve never taken LSD before either. However, the light show, a constant backdrop of swirling fluorescent computerised graphics (on top of numerous pints of the venue’s guest real ale) started to give me a reasonable approximation of what it might be like. Talk about putting you in the right mood. The band themselves are great. All the classic ingredients of the trademark Hawkwind  space-rock sound are present: the pounding, rumbling bass; the whoops and bleeps; Dave Brock’s ever present guitar as well as strong and convincing vocals from current lead singer, Mr Dibs. Of the songs, there is a good selection of classic Hawkwind material: Assault and Battery Uncle Sam’s on Mars, Orgone Accumulator, Motorway City all made an appearance. Sadly though, there was no Silver Machine this evening, the band encoring with Reefer Madness instead. My one main quibble.

Wikipedia painstakingly lists thirty-nine different line-up of this band throughout its history, guitarist Brock being the only constant member. However, the current line-up put on an entertaining show that is faithful to the spirit of Hawkwind for anyone who’s had more than a passing interest in the band and well worth seeing.

http://www.hawkwind.com/

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