Archive for the ‘1980s’ Category

Stones in Hyde Park, July 6th 2013

Stones in Hyde Park, July 6th 2013

A week after the Rolling Stones played a much hyped show for Glastonbury, they were back in London to make history, returning to Hyde Park 44 year and 1 day after the free concert they played in 1969, that has subsequent gone down in UK rock folklore as one of the most iconic ever. Swathes of older rock music loving Londoners still refer to this event with reverence as an “I was there” moment in their lives. Did its 21st century “history making” counterpart also live up to its billing. Well mainly yes.

The Rolling Stones for a second time in Hyde Park , Saturday 6th July 2013

The Rolling Stones for a second time in Hyde Park , Saturday 6th July 2013

The ‘69 concert was not held in exactly the same spot as 2013 being located much nearer to the Serpentine but although it was called “The Stones in Hyde Park”, like the ’13 version it was in fact a one day festival comprising other bands including King Crimson and Alexis Corner’s new Church. The contemporary version also saw it fair share of promising acts such as the Vaccines, the exquisite Temper Trap , trendy new band of the moment Palma Violets and the promising Tribes who were like a more upbeat version of Primal Scream in their 90’s heyday.

But there the similarities end.

The 2013 event ground was as about as opposite as you can get from 1969’s free event with its distinctly hippy feel. The 2013 version felt more some weird gawdy fairground attraction surrounded on many parts of its periphery by false mock bars imitating the style of different countries complete with grossly inflated prices with queues seven or eight deep. Don’t even get me started on the merchandise stalls dotted around the site.

What you may ask does this has to do with the music? Well, I don’t’ know whether it was the Stones or their connections; or indeed the sponsors or organisers but they succeded in giving the events an air of corporate elitism to a degree I have seldom witnessed at any other events. The people willing and able to afford to pay several hundred pounds for their tickets were accessed in to a “golden circle” area that I estimate nearly took up 1 quarter of the site (or least that what it felt like) cloaked one side by the biggest corporate stands I have seen at any London festival. Even if you had managed to get to the front of the “cheap” (£95 per ticket) area, it still felt like being at the back of a giant arena looking at the minute stage in the distance. So the 50,000 crowd although being far less than 250,000 plus number that attended in 1969 were penned to a smalled area than previous events on the same site.

So far so negative but the redeeming factor was the music. Back in ’69 the Stones themselves admitted they pretty badly although the setlist included classics that were also played at the 2013 concert.

The concert set list from 1969 read as follows:-
“I’m Yours & I’m Hers,” “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” “Mercy Mercy”, “Down Home Girl”, “Stray Cat Blues”, “No Expectations”, “I’m Free”, “Loving Cup”, “Love in Vain”, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”, “Honky Tonk Women”, “Midnight Rambler”, “Street Fighting Man”, and “Sympathy for the Devil”.

So the music actually transformed the atmosphere and it didn’t even seem to matter about the poor viewing. Giant screens were up to make you feel you weren’t so far from the stage. A video came on at the start of the show with some references to the ’69 concert. Then band’s appearance and Mick Jagger’s in particular sent a bolt of electricity and as if on cue, the sounds of the Stones 1983 hit “Start Me Up” went ringing through the ground swiftly followed by “It’s Only Rock and Roll”.

We were off and running . You could taste the e excitement. Jagger looking unbelievably trim, swaggered around the stage and well – moved liked Jagger belying the fact he is about to turn 70. Ronnie Woods who is well known in London as a type of serial gig crashing jammer and Keith Richards looked like they having fun. Charlie Watts looked business like.

The positive vibe just built from then on. There were also nice touches with Gary Clark Junior, one the support acts during the day, being brought on to play on “Bitch” the 1971 flip side of “Brown Sugar” and in the encore with the London Youth singing the opening of “You can’t always get what you want. Keith Richards also took lead vocals for a few numbers like “Miss You”.

Confetti send off - The Stones at Hyde Park, July 6th 2013

Confetti send off – The Stones at Hyde Park, July 6th 2013

But the real crescendo was reached at the end of the main set with anthems -“Jumping Jack” , a spectacular rendition of “Sympathy for the Devil” to rival 1969 if not in duration then certainly in quality and “Brown Sugar. This is when I witnessed what the Stones could do to audience even at a ripe old age. Old and young danced around me, strangers even taking hold of one another. The atmosphere even at the distance we were standing was incredible. The evening was rounded off “Satisfaction” by which time, I had had plenty. I doubt that at the prices that are generally charged for a Stones concert I’ll shall ever go again. But make no mistake, in spite of the difficulties with the facilities, this was an awesome concert – one that will live long in the memory. The crowd dispersed into the night with many still chanting ooh, ooh. History in the Making , maybe?


Hyde Park 2013 Setlist

Start Me Up ; It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It) ; Tumbling Dice; All Down the Line; Beast of Burden; Doom and Gloom ;Bitch ; Paint It Black; Honky Tonk Women; You Got the Silver ; Before They Make Me Run; Miss You ;Midnight Rambler ; Gimme Shelter ; Jumpin’ Jack Flash ; Sympathy for the Devil ; Brown Sugar
Encore: You Can’t Always Get What You Want Play Video ; (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

The Boss at London's Hard Rock Calling, Sunday 30th June 2013

The Boss at London’s Hard Rock Calling, Sunday 30th June 2013

In a 3 hour show that never paused for breath, Bruce Springsteen, who, last year at the same festival, had the plug pulled somewhat ignominiously by overzealous official for having gone over his allotted time, produced an uplifting show that veered between American powerhouse and tunes that almost had a spiritual edge like opening number “ Shackled and Drawn”. The concert saw Springsteen reprise several tracks from 2012’s album “Wrecking Ball” – the title track. As a sports fan as well as a music lover I could feel the powerful nostalgia generated in the lyrics for the famous Giants stadium that was demolished in 2010 as well as enjoy the tinges of Irish folk music in the song.

The mid-section of the concert was devoted to playing arguably Springsteen best known international album “Born in the USA” and with such anthemic tunes like “I’m on Fire”, “Glory Days”, “Dancing in the Dark” and “My Hometown” , only someone completely devoid of musical appreciation could have failed to be stirred. The finger salutes, the dancing and the foot stomping blended perfectly with the beautiful sunset over the main stage and the Olympic 2012 velodrome and some glorious crowd singing. This was a triumph.
The nice thing about Bruce Springsteen is that although a global rock giant his humanity shines out, demonstrating as he does, a closeness and lack of pretention with his audience that is rare among performers of this stature. Many times his went down the ramp to be close with the crowd and at one point took a girl on his shoulder up onto the stage. Member of his family were also included with Springsteen doing at one a jam with his sister and a waltz with his mother.

Mum and Son, Springsteen waltzes delightfully with his mother, Hard Rock Calling festival, June 30th 2013

Mum and Son, Springsteen waltzes delightfully with his mother, Hard Rock Calling festival, June 30th 2013

Highlights in the encore, included, “Jungle Land”, a magnificent rendition of “Born to Run” and a full-on Irish knees-up celebration of emigration in “American Land”. This rip roarer contrasted sharply to the low key final acoustic of “My Luck Star”.
This was the first time I had ever seen Springsteen in concert. What I saw was a genuine entertainer who draws in the crowd with the sheer joy of sharing his music. The E-street band was also fabulous and the jamming intercourses between the musicians and Springsteen were a sight to behold. It is not hard to see why he is rightly called The Boss.

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Killing Joke, were absolutely at the top of their game for their 34th/35th anniversary concert at The Forum, Kentish Town, March 16th 2013.

It was with some dedication that I made it to the gig tonight from my part of the Capital in East London to this oft difficultly accessible enclave of North London. After having to plan my route around part of the tube stopped for engineering works and 2 major traffic jams, including one leading right up to the venue, time was against me. I eventually gave up, got off the bus and walked at a pace the last half mile through the drizzly streets. But there was no I was going to miss this event; Killing Joke is one of the grandees of industrial rock and were playing their 35th or as lead singer Jaz Coleman claimed, their 34th anniversary concert (there is still some debate about this) and this was going to be the anthology night.
I arrived at the intimate 2000 seat art deco venue very late, resigned to getting a less than ideal view. In the end I was surprised to find a good place in the balcony seating area just in front of the standing area, so it was possible to both sit and stand without impeding anyone else’s view. Believe me, the energy that was to be released at this concert perfect proved it necessary to have both options; standing because there were songs you just wanted to freak out on and seating because you drained so much energy, a breather was needed from time to time, especially at my age. Jaz Coleman was his typically outspoken self, though a fellow fan remarked that he had mellowed considerably; the 3 surviving original band members Geordie Walker, Martin Glover and Paul Ferguson and their additional tour members were rock solidly tight . The band played sometimes as if their lives depended on it. This was a loud powerful in your face concert, that demanded engagement and to that end was reminiscent in terms of its raw energy of the sex pistols 2007 reunion concert at Brixton. On that occasion, I was in the main part of the crowd towards the front in the middle of the mother of all mosh pits. The Killing Joke concert had a manic mosh and particularly went wild during some of the most iconic tracks such as “Love Like Blood”, and “Eighties”. I was grateful to be out of this but I still put in my fair share of fist pump and chanting. “Eighties” song also recalled some of the controversial figures and moments of that decade on two big screen on either side of the auditorium.
Coleman made several controversial (depending upon your point of view) references including; berating the use of mobile phones, i-pod and and i-pad before launching into “The Beautiful Dead Play; telling the audience that he that money never had been and never would be his governor – that proceeded the song “Money is Not our God”; fierily raising the issue of children living under the poverty line and then playing “Corporate Elect”. The pre-encore section culminated with a tub-thumping rendition of “Pandemonium” that had every one cheering and the whole place wanting much more. The band duly obliged with 4 more songs.
Now, in previous reviews I sometimes go into a description of individual songs. On this occasion, there is no point. The lyrics like the music are often highly charged and carry many carry a amti-establishment message. So I will confine myself to listing the songs in order. What this concert was about was raw energy that from the point of view of the senses picked you up, slapped you about and threw you down. It was about letting loose and about celebrating the 35 years or so of a cult band that has had influence on the likes of such rock luminaries as The Foo Fighters, Metallica, Nine Inch Nails and Faith No More, to name but a few.
This was gig demanding but utterly engaging and sensational. I am still buzzing several days later.
Set List
1.Requiem; 2 Turn to Red; 3) Wardance; 4)European Super State; 5)Love Like Blood; 6)The Beautiful Dead; 7) This World Hell; 8) Empire Song; 9) Chop-Chop; 10) Sun Goes Down; 11)Eighties; 12)Money is Not our God; 13) Whiteout; 14) Asteroid; 15) The Wait; 16)Corporate Elect; 17) Pandemonium; Encore : 18) Follow the Leaders; 19) Tension;
20) Change; 21) Psyche;

This review was orginally published in 2008 following the Human League’s triumphal December 2007 tour of their most recognized album Dare.

Twenty-six years after in January 1982 The Human League stood at No1 in the UK album charts with their album Dare, the audience were treated to the first performance ever of this work in its entirety and went away completely satisfied. Blending haunting robotic synth riffs, pop melodies and accessible lyrics, the album was and remains a breakthrough, representing the transisition from art based abstract sythesiser music and to the melodic synth pop of the eighties. This genre has now been revived in modern Indie rock and electonica of the 2000’s but the League were most definitely one of its original exponent.

From the moment the show opened with The ThingsThat Dreams Are Made Of (the first track on “Dare”) large sections of the audience were up moving in typicial 80’s style or wiggling in the trademark style of singers Susan Sulley and Joanne Catherall as the League moved relentlessly in strict order through the album, which of course contained many soaring hits such as Open your Heart, Sounds of the Crowd and Love Action. 80’s iconography flashed behind with images of personalities such as Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. The slower tempo “I am the Law” gave a brief respite before the finishing the first part of the show on the hit that sealed their place in world pop history “Don’t you want me” which prompted a mass singalong from, at least, the 1000 or more dads present.

During the 10 minute break the musicians kept playing while Oakey, Sulley and Catherall changed into something more comfortable. In the case of Phil Oakey this consisted of a lounge suit and nothing more then glitzy shimmering very short cocktail dresses for Sulley and Catherell who looked fantastic . This costume change added class and sexyiness in equal measure to the proceedings. In the second part there was no experimenting with songs from recent albums as in the 2003 tour. They gave the public what they wanted and it was greatest hits all the way. A belting rendition of the League’s first venture into political pop, the still highly relevant The Lebanon was followed by 1986 hit Human. To the delight of a happy crowd they closed with Mirror Man. In the encore Oakey truly rolled back the years with the trance –like Being Boiled – the League first single release 30 years ago , then finished in triumphant fashion with the Giorgio Moroder penned Together in Electric Dreams. Not even an unwelcome intruder on the stage right at the end could spoil the overall feelgood nostalgia factor that emanated from this truly special gig celebrating “Dare” an album that some commentators have called synthpop’s equivalent of Sgt Pepper.

as first featured on the Safeconcerts.com website

THE CHRISTIANS, MILLFIELD ARTS CENTRE, EDMONTON, LONDON, MARCH 2ND 2007  (as first reviewed in Safeconcerts. Com)

(This was my first ever independent review at the time. I’d done a couple for Blues and Soul magazine and one was about to be published a few after this review in a daily newspaper. Its also one I’m proud. In a tiny theatre not holding more than 300 The Christians rocked out and played their anthology like it was an arena concert. What an amazing experience to be there and I got to say Hello to Gary Christian afterwards)

It has been 20 years since The Christians scored their first major single success with Forgotten Town. This seminal track marked their move into pop’s premier league being regarded as the leading exponent of British Soul in the late 1980’s whose lyric’s provided edgy social commentary. This lead to a successful debut album and a No.1 UK album Colours and a successful European Tour in 1990. So, its was strange to see a grossly underated and talented group playing in a 400 seat theatre. That said, the small venue and a dreary rainy night outside did not dampen the quality of the performance inside. This gig proved to be a greatest hits fest for those priviledged enough to be present. “Whats in a word”, “Born Again”,  “Ideal World” were all on the classic menu. The haunting arrangement of “Words” was particular memorable.  The only modern deviation was “Prodigals Sons” from 2003. In between songs, there was also some entertaining banter. Tongue  firmly in cheek, Garry Christian bemoaned the hardships of ageing by citing the difficulty of climbing the stairs, to which a member of the audience cheekily riposted “Buy a bungalow”.  Through his warm and generous personality he managed to get a somewhat aged audience to sing a along (if somewhat, shakily)  to “The Bottle” and up onto their feet to clap and move to Harvest for The World (no small feat). A grand performance was finished fittingly with perhaps their most socially incisive and anthemic song “Hooverville”.  Throughout,backed by an enthusiatic and competent band,  Garry Christian’s  rich soulful voice was mesmerising and transcended the humble surroundings.  In an era when so many former 80’s band are jumping on the revival bandwagon, The Christians really are a band that deserve to be rediscovered.