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setlist from live concert

Dave Mason’s Traffic Jam at Union Chapel, London 3/3/17

I must confess that my introduction to the music of seminal psychedelic-tinged band Traffic was via the cover of Hole In My Shoe by Neil out of The Young Ones (Nigel Planer) in 1984. The end of the sixties was then only 15 years previously but, culturally, it seemed like a million years away. While everyone in my year at sixth form found Hole In My Shoe utterly hilarious, it did tempt me into finding out more about the original and taping a copy of a ‘Best of Traffic’ compilation LP that I borrowed from Preston Record Library.  On the album I found not only the original, still very quirky, Hole In My Shoe but a load of other treasures: Dear Mr Fantasy, Medicated Goo, 40,000 Headmen and more.

Traffic split in 1975 and Dave Mason had already left several years before. However, having enjoyed seeing Traffic’s Steve Winwood in 2013 I jumped at the chance to see Mason when his Traffic Jam tour-dates were announced – his first UK tour since the seventies he tells us tonight.

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It’s the aforementioned Mr Winwood who is most closely associated with Traffic’s legacy in Britain these days, so it’s really welcome to see Dave Mason publicly celebrating the part he played in this iconic band. The first part of the set focuses on the Traffic era, including 40,000 Headmen, Medicated Goo, Dear Mr Fantasy and Feelin’ Alright. After a short break the second half of the show focuses on both Mason’s post-Traffic career but also his influences that inspired him to get into the music in the first place, with a pounding, soaring tribute to Hank Marvin in the shape of a cover of The Shadows’ Apache. Another tribute was to Jimi Hendrix, with a stunning version of All Along The Watchtower (the Dylan song that Hendrix made his own and which Mason played acoustic guitar on.)

Mason’s voice is in fine form and he gives us some outstanding lead guitar throughout the set but special praise should also go to his keyboard player, Tony Patler, who provides some perfectly evocative Hammond tonight, as well as some really rich, bluesy vocals. My only minor complaint was about the impact of the building’s acoustics. Union Chapel can be a wonderfully iconic venue but, sitting near the back, I did find the echo of the drums a bit clattery and overwhelming in this cavernous Victorian chapel at times. However, having purchased his current ‘Traffic Jam’ album, recorded live at the New York City Winery (which Mason later signed for me) I am pleased to report a much superior sound mix and can really enjoy the contributions of all four musicians.

And what of Hole In My Shoe, Mason’s quirky sitar-based hit that led me to discovering Traffic in the first place? He hasn’t played it in years and hasn’t touched a sitar in years either, mainly because he would struggle to get down on the floor to play it these days he tells us…

Sitar or no sitar, it was a great performance tonight and it’s good to see Dave Mason rightfully staking his claim in the Traffic legacy in his home country once again.

Setlist:

40,000 Headmen (Traffic)
Pearly Queen (Traffic)
Medicated Goo (Traffic)
The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys (Traffic)
Rock and Roll Stew (Traffic)
Dear Mr. Fantasy (Traffic)
Feelin’ Alright (Traffic)

< INTERVAL >

World in Changes (from ‘Alone Together’)
We Just Disagree (from ‘Let It Flow’)
Look at You Look at Me (from ‘Alone Together’)
Apache (Shadows cover)
Good 2 U (from ’26 Letters 12 Notes’)
Shouldn’t Have Took More Than You Gave (from ‘Alone Together’)
All Along the Watchtower (Jimi Hendrix/Bob Dylan cover)
Only You Know and I Know (from ‘Alone Together’)

http://www.davemasonmusic.com/home

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Black Sabbath at the O2 31/1/17

How do you end the most iconic heavy metal band of all time?

At one point, a couple of decades after their 70s heyday, it looked liked it might be with a constantly changing cast of replacement musicians, declining album sales, less than enthusiastic ticket sales and something of a whimper rather than a bang. But, following an initial reunion in the late 90s, a mega-successful album with ‘13’ and a hugely successful world tour which reunited three of the original four members in 2013/4, fans hoped that there would at least be one more opportunity to say a final farewell, even in spite of a hugely worrying lymphoma diagnosis for Tony Iommi.

So here we have it: The End – Black Sabbath’s final farewell tour which reaches it’s ultimate conclusion with a couple of dates at London’s O2 and two final concerts in the band’s home city of Birmingham. And it’s every bit as magnificent, spellbinding and heavy as Black Sabbath should be. From the familiar doom-laden chords of the opening ‘Black Sabbath’ to the unforgettable riff of ‘Paranoid’ for the encore, every single minute of this concert was special. Geezer Butler delivers those unmistakable bass-lines, Tony Iommi delivers that unmistakable crunching guitar and Ozzy Osbourne delivers those unmistakable wailing vocals – the essential and unchangeable ingredients that make Black Sabbath what it is. Yes, it’s a shame that Bill Ward is not here to participate in this final tour but drummer, Tony Clufetos, does an absolutely outstanding job with immense energy. I doubt, really, whether anyone could have done it better.

Ozzy, as always, is a fascinating character. Between songs he shuffles around the stage like the mumbling, slightly bewildered figure TV viewers came to love so much. But the second a song starts he is instantly transformed into the wailing, demonic rock god that fans of the ultimate heavy metal band have always known.

My first ever live experience of Black Sabbath was with Bev Bevan out of ELO on drums and Ian Gillan out of Deep Purple on vocals, encoring with Smoke On The Water (?!) How fitting that what is likely to be my last has Tony, Geezer and Ozzy performing Sabbath exactly the way it should be performed. It was an absolutely magnificent performance, stunning setlist and suitably evocative special effects. The atmosphere at the O2, which can be a bit lacking at times however good a band is, was absolutely electric from start to finish.

Whatever happens now this band has made it’s mark on rock music a billion times over and their contribution will not be forgotten. Thank you Black Sabbath.

Setlist:
Black Sabbath
Fairies Wear Boots
Under the Sun/Every Day Comes and Goes
After Forever
Into the Void
Snowblind
War Pigs
Behind the Wall of Sleep
N.I.B.
Hand of Doom
Rat Salad
Iron Man
Dirty Women
Children of the Grave
Paranoid

http://www.blacksabbath.com/

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Previous review:

Black Sabbath at Hyde Park

Ocean Colour Scene at Hammersmith Apollo 12/12/16

I’ve long admired Ocean Colour Scene but never actually seen the full band live before. I have seen lead singer, Simon Fowler, do a nice, intimate, laid-back acoustic set once. But tonight he is, rightly, in full-on rock star mode so it’s up to Paul Weller to do the nice, intimate, laid-back acoustic set in a lovely and unexpected surprise as support act. One of the joys about gig-going in London is that you do often get nice little surprises like this. (See my post on the Dave Davies gig in Islington this time last year when Ray decided to join his brother for an encore, for example.)

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It’s 20 years this year since Ocean Colour Scene’s Moseley Shoals album came out and to mark the anniversary the band are doing a short tour performing it in full. I’d love to be able to say I first became aware of them when they were an obscure band starting out but like, I suspect, many, many people Ocean Colour Scene only came on to my attention when the brilliantly memorable ‘Riverboat Song’ (the opening track on this album) was used by Chris Evans each week in his TFI Friday Show.

Mosley Shoals (a West Midlands-inspired pun on the famous Muscle Shoals studios in the States) is definitely one of the strongest albums emerging out of the mid-90s Britpop era. Before they get cracking with Moseley Shoals, however, they reel off a version of The Beatles’ Day Tripper’ that gets the audience nicely warmed up. Then, beginning with ‘The Riverboat Song’ it’s off for a glorious ride, track by track through Mosley Shoals.

A few years ago the whole ‘band-performs-album-in-full’ routine was in danger of getting massively over-done. But for truly iconic albums like this it’s definitely something worth seeing. Moseley Shoals is one of those albums that contains so many memorable songs that it’s more like a “best of” compilation of band classic than just another regular studio album. Unforgettable songs like the aforementioned ‘The Riverboat Song’, ‘The Day We Caught The Train’ and ‘The Circle’ have the entire venue on their feet and that continues throughout the whole performance (even though, for some reason, the Apollo decided to set up the venue as an all-seater tonight, rather than pull the moveable seating out which they often do for many big bands).

Fowler’s voice is as strong as ever and Steve Cradock really gives it some welly on lead guitar, with some nice solos. With three of the four of the original line-up still with the band, it gives the performance some genuine authenticity. Paul Weller returns to the stage again for ‘The Circle’ – one of the tracks on which he performed on the original album.

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The crowd sing along with each track and once the band are done with the album they continue with a well-chosen selection of band classics, including an emotional communal sing-along to ‘Profit In Peace’.

As the previous generation of rock icons fill the obituary pages on an almost daily basis it’s now up to the Britpop generation to start assuming some of their imperial majesty in celebrating our rock history. Ocean Colour Scene have certainly risen to that challenge tonight.

Setlist:
Day Tripper
The Riverboat Song
The Day We Caught the Train
The Circle
Lining Your Pockets
Fleeting Mind
40 Past Midnight
One for the Road
It’s My Shadow
Policemen & Pirates
The Downstream
You’ve Got It Bad
Get Away
Foxy’s Folk Faced
This Day Should Last Forever
Better Day
Profit in Peace
So Low
Get Blown Away
Travellers Tune
Robin Hood
Hundred Mile High City

http://oceancolourscene.com/homepage/

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Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls at De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill 10/12/16

My review was originally published on The Stinger independent music website here

Having been warmed up very nicely by the support acts, Felix Hagan & The Family and Esmee Patterson, the place is absolutely throbbing when Frank Turner comes on stage.

“I believe first impressions count,” declares Turner a couple of songs in. And bang – he certainly achieves that. Opening with ‘I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous’ from his 2008 album ‘Love Ire and Song’ he combines anger, affection, passion, celebration and wry humour – and that’s all in the space of a single song. In terms of delivery and audience response it’s more like an encore than an opening song but that level of energy is maintained song after song after song.
1035x1035-mi0003888505-313x313Six albums into his solo career, it has only been the two most recent that have made it into the top five and his singles have hardly ever troubled the charts. Yet he’s built up an absolutely devoted fan-base. Deservedly so, from tonight’s performance.

Turner and his excellent band pack in many highlights from his solo career in a two-hour set, including a good smattering of songs from his latest album ‘Positive Songs For Negative People’, in addition to an old Million Dead song ‘Smiling at Strangers on Trains’ as part of his encore.

From a well-connected, well-to-do family, Turner’s libertarian brand of politics has attracted strident criticism in some quarters, and he’s been notably hammered as a right-winger in the Guardian. I can’t pretend I’ve analysed Turner’s philosophical beliefs in great detail but of his between-song interventions tonight three could be described as vaguely ‘political’ in one way or another.

The first was a plea urging support for the charity War Child, an undeniably worthy humanitarian cause. The second was a passionate speech in support of the Safe Gigs for Women campaign, highlighting the unacceptable nature of the harassment and abuse that far too many women are forced to endure while trying to enjoy a live gig. And the third was pretty much a theme that ran through his chat throughout the course of the evening; namely the very collectivist ideal of urging the audience to look out for one another and to take some of that spirit away with them into the outside world.

Indeed, the only performer I’ve seen place a similar degree of emphasis on that whole ‘audience-as-community-thing’ was the avowedly-socialist, veteran folk singer, John Tams. What Tams never did was follow that through with stage-diving into the audience and being transported from one side of the hall to the other by a rapturous sea of fans, but you get the point…

A passionate advocate for live music, Turner tells us that tonight is his 1,995th solo gig. Judging by tonight’s performance one suspects there will be many thousands more, and he’s promised to come back to Bexhill soon.

The greatest voice on the contemporary music scene? Probably not. One of the most charismatic and compelling performers of his generation? Almost certainly.

More info on War Child can be found at: warchild.org.uk  

More info on Safe Gigs for Women: sgfw.org.uk

Setlist:
I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous
The Next Storm
I Still Believe
Losing Days
Try This at Home
Long Live the Queen
Glorious You
Polaroid Picture
Silent Key
Plain Sailing Weather
Wessex Boy
Mittens
Cleopatra in Brooklyn
The Way I Tend to Be
The Opening Act of Spring
The Road
If Ever I Stray
Out of Breath
Photosynthesis
Smiling at Strangers on Trains
Recovery
Get Better
Four Simple Words

dlwp-frank-turner-and-the-sleeping-souls-840x561Photo credit: official tour publicity

http://frank-turner.com/home/

John Cooper Clarke & Hugh Cornwell, Kentish Town Forum 29/11/16

“The most surreal gig I’ve ever been to”

Most gigs I go to I either have a reasonable idea what to expect or know exactly what to expect. But ex-Strangler, Hugh Cornwell and Manc punk poet, John Cooper Clarke, on stage together with the latter singing – actually singing – I had absolutely no idea what to expect. Initially, when I saw the tour advertised and booked tickets I had simply assumed that it was a double headliner tour with both of them doing a set each. But no, they are both on stage together with John Cooper Clarke singing…

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To big cheers Cornwell and Cooper Clarke walk on stage with their band and immediately launch into ‘It’s Only Make Believe’. Now had I tried to guess what tonight had in store for us John Cooper Clarke aping Conway Twitty’s Presley-esque crooning would not have been anywhere on my list. But there’s plenty more: Jerry Leiber and Phil’s Spector’s ‘Spanish Harlem’, Macather Park ‘someone left the cake out in the rain..’, John Leighton’s ‘Johnny Remember Me, ‘Love Potion No. 9.’ It’s a veritable celebration of late 50s/early 60s pop culture and it is, my gig companion for the evening whispers to me, “the most surreal gig I’ve ever been to.”

Sound-wise the band really gets into the vibe of the era, particularly when it came to the gloriously eccentric ‘Johnny Remember Me’ which channels the other-worldly weirdness of Joe Meek’s original production to the full. John Cooper Clarke has a magnetic stage presence, some hilarious between song banter, combining absent-mindedness, self-deprecation and biting sarcasm in equal measure, and a just-about-passable singing voice. As they leave the stage to huge applause I think to myself it’s not a spectacle I’d want to go and see very often but I’m really glad I’ve witnessed it at least once.

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We’ve got the great Hugh Cornwell here though, and so I’m hoping, really, really hoping he’s going to come back on and rattle through a few Stranglers classics while he’s here, too.

Cornwell and band are soon back on stage, Cornwell telling us that this was only the third time that Cooper Clarke had sung in public in his entire life. “Now it’s up to me to try and lift it back up…”

He launches into ‘Black Hair, Black Eyes, Black Suit’ from his 1999 solo album, followed by a brilliant ‘Nice and Sleazy’ with the bass pumping loud and sleazy just like it should. We all get the chance to sing along to ‘Walk On By’ as well. And then Cooper Clarke is back on stage back in normal punk poet mode to give us ‘I Wanna Be Yours’ and ‘36 Hours’ with great backing from Hugh and the boys. Cooper Clarke stays on stage to take lead vocals on a raucous ‘No More Heroes’. At this point two guys at the front start pushing and knocking everyone over. Yes, this may have been great when you were slight, skinny, adrenalin-pumped 16 year olds, but now you are beer-bellied blokes in your mid 50s you just come across as selfish, obnoxious arse-holes. The women around them rightly give both of them a huge bollocking. Never mind, it’s still a great song and a great end to the set before we get them all back on stage for a final encore of ‘Get a Grip on Yourself.’

Surreal. Just surreal.

http://www.hughcornwell.com/
http://johncooperclarke.com/

Setlist:
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AC/DC at The Olympic Stadium, London 4/6/16

After successfully purchasing two tickets for this AC/DC gig the minute they went on sale last December I was gutted to later learn that a number of dates were being pulled because of Brian Johnson’s hearing problems, but also mystified to read in the announcement that they hoped to resume the tour “likely with a guest vocalist.” Just how was that going to work out?

A huge amount of controversy ensued about the way Brian Johnson had been treated, about whether the band was right to carry on and if (in the light of also losing founder, Malcolm Young, and drummer, Phil Rudd) the dignified thing was to call it a day once and for all and put the AC/DC name to rest. The subsequent rumours and then confirmation that it was to be Axl Rose replacing Johnson for the remainder of this tour merely stoked the controversy even further.

And now, as I’m standing in the Olympic Stadium watching the Axl Rose-fronted AC/DC, I’m reminded of something that my dad said to me at the time of Bon Scott’s death when I was just 13: “They might find another singer but no-one is ever going to sound as dirty as Bon Scott.” That’s not to berate Brian Johnson, who was a hugely powerful vocalist who delivered some brilliant rock anthems and who embodied the spirit of AC/DC for well over three decades. But he had a different style of vocal delivery to his predecessor and as I’m listening to Axl Rose belting out the likes of Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap and High Voltage I can’t help feeling he’s absolutely nailing those old Bon Scott tunes and bringing back some of that elusive “dirtiness” that my dad was always looking for. Perhaps, especially given I’d seen a brilliant AC/DC set at Wembley Stadium last year with Brian Johnson still at the helm, I’d probably have liked a few more Scott era classics in the set-list but that’s a minor quibble. Rose handles both the Scott and Johnson material with aplomb.

Musically, the band are as together as ever: blinding solos from Angus Young, crunching rhythm from Stevie Young (Malcolm’s successor), ever reliable bass-lines from Cliff Williams and powerhouse drumming from Chris Slade. The effects are all present and correct, too: the over the top lighting show, the crazy video shorts, the clanging bell, the firing cannons…

I’m genuinely pleased that I approached this gig in a spirit of optimism and open-mindedness. Axl Rose would certainly never have been my immediate thought for a replacement frontman for AC/DC. But he and the rest of the band gave us a night to remember. A credible band with a credible lead singer delivering a truly astonishing show. Long live AC/DC.

Setlist:
Rock or Bust
Shoot to Thrill
Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be
Back in Black
Got Some Rock & Roll Thunder
Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
Rock ‘n’ Roll Damnation
Thunderstruck
High Voltage
Rock ‘n’ Roll Train
Hells Bells
Given the Dog a Bone
If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It)
Sin City
You Shook Me All Night Long
Shot Down in Flames
Have a Drink on Me
T.N.T.
Whole Lotta Rosie
Let There Be Rock
Highway to Hell
Riff Raff
For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)

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http://www.acdc.com/

Previous review: AC/DC at Wembley

Brian Wilson at The London Palladium 20/5/16

The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds remains one of the most iconic records of all time and demonstrated just how far the rock’n’roll sounds of the early 60s beat era groups could evolve in such a short space of time. It celebrates it’s 50th anniversary since its release this month so what better way to celebrate my own 50th birthday than going to to see Brian Wilson perform Pet Sounds in full.

The first half of the show sees Wilson, his touring band and special guests run through a whole slew of Beach Boys classics: Heroes and Villains, California Girls, I Get Around, Surfer Girl, Wild Honey and many more. The sound is lush and full. Original Beach Boy, Al Jardine, demonstrates what amazing shape his voice is still in more than half a century after first appearing on Beach Boys records. Former Beach Boys touring guitarist, Blondie Chaplin, also provides some nifty lead guitar work.

The charismatic stage presence of some performers dominates every moment of their live show, regardless of who happens to be sharing the stage with them. For the introspective and softly spoken, Brian Wilson, however, you certainly don’t get that. Although billed as a solo tour it’s very much a band performance and he’s clearly happy to let a number of his colleagues share the limelight. But as he sits at his grand piano you do get a real sense of Wilson’s presence being the creative glue that holds the whole thing together.

After a short break the second set resumes with the band performing the whole of the Pet Sounds album in full. Pet Sounds contains some of the most memorable songs of the slower, more reflective side of the Beach Boys (as opposed to the “girls and cars” side): Wouldn’t It Be Nice, Sloop John B, I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times, Caroline No… The album is rightly celebrated for its lush soundscapes and its hugely ambitious range of instrumentation and musical textures. And I’m struck tonight by just how much love and attention has gone into replicating those sounds of fifty years ago here on stage tonight: the horns, the percussion, the glockenspiel.

For the encore Brian and the band return to the stage for a magnificent Good Vibrations, followed by an energetic and hugely enjoyable run-through of party hits like Help Me Rhonda, Barbara Ann and Surfin’ USA.

For that most American of musicians from that most American of bands, Britain has always had a soft spot Brian Wilson. Indeed, when Pet Sounds first came out it was much better received over here than in the States. And for all his natural awkwardness on stage it’s clear that Wilson does have a special love for performing to London audiences and that mutual love is on display, once again, tonight.

Setlist:

Our Prayer
Heroes and Villains
California Girls
Dance, Dance, Dance
I Get Around
Shut Down
Little Deuce Coupe
Little Honda
In My Room
Surfer Girl
Don’t Worry Baby
Wake the World
Add Some Music to Your Day
Do It Again
One Kind of Love
Wild Honey
Funky Pretty
Sail On, Sailor
Wouldn’t It Be Nice
You Still Believe in Me
That’s Not Me
Don’t Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder
I’m Waiting for the Day
Let’s Go Away for Awhile
Sloop John B
God Only Knows
I Know There’s an Answer
Here Today
I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times
Pet Sounds
Caroline, No
Good Vibrations
All Summer Long
Help Me, Rhonda
Barbara Ann
Surfin’ U.S.A.
Fun, Fun, Fun
Love and Mercy

http://www.brianwilson.com/

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Procol Harum at Giants of Rock, Minehead 30/1/16

At any music festival with multiple stages, as a punter you’re bound to be faced with the odd dilemma about which act to choose when two you really like are on at the same time. But the only clash I really dithered over at Giants of Rock 2016 was between Steve Harley and Procol Harum. In the end we plumped for Procol. I’d seen (and massively enjoyed) Harley at Reading Festival thirty-odd years ago, my two companions had seen neither but in the end we all agreed on Procol Harum. A choice none of us regretted. They were top class.

All the trademark features you would expect from Procol are present: the double keyboards with the delicious interplay between hammond organ and piano, the steady authoritative bass lines, the majestic tunes and, of course, Gary Brooker’s commanding vocals. If some rock vocalists make life hard for themselves by adopting a vocal delivery in their early 20s that gets more and more difficult to pull off as they hit their 70s, then Gary Brooker chose wisely. Brooker’s cool and melancholic vocals are as strong tonight as they were in 1967, when the band first hit the charts with A Whiter Shade of Pale.

While I love the unique sound of Procol Harum I must confess to only ever having owned two albums of theirs: a best-of compilation bringing together many of their late 60s and early 70s classics and the band’s most recent album – 2003’s The Well’s On Fire, which I picked up for the princely sum of £1 at Skegness Butlins two years ago. But I’m pleased to say there’s many songs I recognise tonight from the former, and at least one from the latter.

So after taking us on a stunning journey through the likes of Shine on Brightly, Cerdes (Outside The Gates Of), A Salty Dog and Homburg there was just one song left. They leave the stage. They come back on to thunderous applause. But, oh dear, Brooker can’t remember how it goes! They tease the audience with a snatch of When A Man Loves A Woman and then with a surprisingly brilliant rendition of Bob Marley’s No Woman, No Cry, before finally the band hit on the familiar chords of A Whiter Shade of Pale, one of the most recognisable, most majestic and surely one of the most beautiful songs of the late 60s. A powerful end to a magnificent performance.

Setlist:
Bringing Home the Bacon
Homburg
An Old English Dream
Dead Man’s Dream
Kaleidoscope
Whaling Stories
Pandora’s Box
Nothing But the Truth
All This and More (which wasn’t played: The VIP Room instead)
Cerdes (Outside the Gates of)
A Salty Dog
Conquistador
A Whiter Shade of Pale

http://www.procolharum.co.uk/

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Gaz Coombes at The Roundhouse 28/1/16

If the size and prestige of venues says anything about an artist’s career then Gaz Coombes is on an upward curve. After seeing Coombes perform in some iconic venues in the Supergrass days, smallish (and as they say “more intimate”) club gigs have been the order the day for much of his post-Supergrass career thus far. And while those were great shows it’s nice to see him perform to a capacity crowd in Chalk Farm’s infamous Roundhouse tonight for the first in their current In The Round series.

For the first few numbers it’s just Gaz and his guitar on stage. Some beautifully intimate, stripped-back acoustic versions of Oscillate, Hot Fruit, Needle’s Eye and To The Wire from his two solo albums. Then he is joined, not only by his backing band but a full string ensemble. And the stage just fills with sound for a stunning version of Buffalo, the opening track from his latest solo album – the Mercury Prize-nominated Matador. While there’s evidently a certain degree of continuity with some of the more reflective tracks from later-era Supergrass, Coombes’ writing is maturing and tonight’s packed auditorium (not to mention the Mercury Prize nomination, of course) is a sign of the growing recognition of this. We are presented with lush, beautifully instrumented versions of songs from Here Come The Bombs and Matador. Highlights for me included a heartfelt Detroit, a lovely Girl Who Fell To Earth and a fabulous White Noise, probably one of the most Supergrassy songs of his recent career.

Although Coombes has rigorously avoided becoming a one-man Supergrass tribute act, endlessly churning out the back catalogue, he has often treated audiences to one or two renditions of iconic Supergrass material like Moving or Caught By The Fuzz. We get none of that tonight though. But what we do get is a glorious version of David Bowie’s Five Years. We can’t complain at all. The perfect and fitting encore to a stunning evening.

Setlist:
Oscillate
Hot Fruit
Needles Eye
To The Wire
Buffalo
Sleeping Giant
These Days
Detroit
White Noise
Seven Walls
The Girl Who Fell To Earth
20/20
English Rose
Matador
Five Years

http://www.gazcoombes.com/home/#ZIQPwIIF2P4KOtAo.97

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Previous review: Matador album review

Dave Davies (and Ray!) at Islington Assembly Hall 18/12/15

A couple of years ago I drew up a list of some of the bands I wanted to try and catch at least once before they (or I!) died, became otherwise indisposed or packed up for good. Black Sabbath with Ozzy, The Who, The Beach Boys with Brian Wilson, Deep Purple and, given rumours of a possible reunion, The Kinks. One by one I worked through all the bands on my list, but The Kinks reunion remained elusive. So the next best thing seemed to be to at least catch the surviving members perform solo. I’d already seen original drummer, Mick Avory, perform with several 70s-era ex-members of The Kinks. So a Dave Davies solo gig in Islington seemed like a good idea and I could hopefully get to see a Ray Davies solo gig at some future date, too.

The Islington Assembly Hall, part of the town hall complex, is not the largest of venues but it’s filled up nicely as Dave Davies takes the stage, backed by three supporting musicians. We get a nice mixture of classic 60s Kinks singles, some lesser known tracks from the band and a selection of Dave Davies’ solo material. Although his speaking voice sounds frail at times, his singing voice is much stronger and his mastery of the guitar (arguably, on You Really Got Me, the man who invented the heavy metal riff) is as powerful as ever. It’s a particular joy singing along to those old Kinks numbers especially: All Day and All of The Night, Tired Of Waiting For You, See My Friends, Death of a Clown and I’m Not Like Everybody Else.

Of course, when he came back on for an encore we could all guess absolutely what the song was going to be. What we couldn’t guess, though, was who would be joining him for that final song. “A surprise for Christmas!” announced Dave and on walked his brother Ray, the two of them sharing a stage together for the first time in 19 years. The audience as one are hit with amazement and wonderment at this beautiful and unexpected moment in rock’n’ roll history. Ray was in fine voice as he sang You Really Got Me and Dave cranked up the guitar. The audience went wild. Excitement, joy and genuine emotion as that 2 minutes and 14 seconds of one of the greatest rock’n’roll songs of all time blasted out from the stage. An early Christmas present indeed.

Setlist:
Ripping Up
All Day and All of the Night
She’s got everything
Creeping Jean
Tired of Waiting For You
See My Friends
In You I Believe
Strangers
Flowers in the Rain
Young and Innocent Days
The Man He Weeps Tonight
Death of a Clown
Living on a Thin Line
Dead End Street
Where have all the Good Times Gone?
I’m Not Like Everybody Else
You Really Got Me (with Ray Davies)

http://www.davedavies.com/

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