Archive for the ‘Concerts of 2004’ Category

I have just heard the saddening news that one of my all time favourites of American music has died following possible complication after a liver transplant. I’m in total shock. I have no doubt that when historians comes to write the history of late 20th music, Lou Reed will stand as a colossus of that time, not just for his outstanding contribution but also for the influence he had many names in music – big and small. He was one of the most influential musicians of his generation whose music keenly observed and captured the atmosphere and spirit of early-mid 1970’s New York. My abiding fond memory of him will be the encore at his Hammersmith Apollo concert on Tuesday 17th August 2004 in London where he performed 3 most iconic tracks back to back, Satellite of Love with the whole ground floor audience stood up and sang along, Perfect Day and Walk on the Wild, the latter of which saw the chords and melodies change around but was still very recognisable by the rhythm. In tribute, here is the full set list from that concert.

1.Turn to Me, 2.Modern Dance 3.Guardian Angel 4.Magic and Loss 5.Why Do You Talk? 6.Venus in Furs (The Velvet Underground song). 7.Dreamin’ 8.Jesus (The Velvet Underground song)
9. Ecstasy 10.A Wild Being From Birth 11.The Valley of Unrest 12.The Day John Kennedy Died 13.Vanishing Act 14.Power and Glory 15.The Blue Mask

Encore:
16. Satellite of Love
(The Velvet Underground song)

17. Perfect Day
18. Walk on the Wild

R.I.P Lou Reed (March 2, 1942 – October 27, 2013)

Amy Winehouse Tribute review – Recollections of her 2004 Brixton Concert

Way back when in November 2004, I had the privilege of attending Amy Winehouse’s concert at Brixton Academy. The concert was not a sell-out and although the downstairs was quite packed only half the Balcony was full. Of course, if you had been lucky enough to get a ticket for a concert this year 2011, you would have found not only the venue sold out but it would have cost you an arm and a leg. My ticket was around £20 and upon reflection proved to be excellent value for money.

So let’s set the context:  Back to Black was still far off in the future;  Amy Winehouse had  been nominated for the Mercury Music prize  for the album Frank but did not win. That honour went to Franz Ferdinand’s self titled album. Her greatest glories and tragedies were still to come.

As for me, I had not started writing reviews at this stage. I had only started going again to concerts a year before in 2003 after an absence of 10 years. I was like any other gig goer, just going for the fun and the buzz of it. I still go for those reasons but I like to record the experience as well which I why I started writing in 2007.  Back in 2004, there were no notes, no photos just my memory which thankfully happens to be very good.

So back to the gig. After a performance from the support act that didn’t impress me or my friends, we dulled the event with a pint or too of tepid lager from the bar.  The ground floor level had had the atmosphere of a festival : lots groups of friends and some couples sitting  down on a sticky alcohol  imbued carpet. As the ground level steadily filled up people had to stand up.  20 meters up the gentle rake of the auditorium from the stage was a great place to stand.  Amy tottered on stage about 9:15pm in amazing high heels and dressed in a white very short summer dress looking sensational. She did not have yet have her synonymous beehive. Her black hair was combed straight and worn at shoulder length. Less the rock star and more the girl next door dressed up on a night out, even then she had a stage presence and her voice was engaging and seductive. Now, at this stage, 7 years down the line I do not recall the exact order of the set list but I remember individual numbers. She sang most of the songs from Frank and there are certain tracks I remember more than others.  On “Stronger than Me” you could have believed yourself transported into a smoky jazz club rather than being at Brixton Academy.  The control and contrast of Amy’s voice was amazing to behold: at one moment you had her deep laid back American jazz voice in conjunction with the sassy sound of the brass and then in the chorus the lighter touch fresh soprano girly sound.

 I equally liked the laid back grandeur of “Take the Box”, the vocal dexterity of “No Greater Love” which incidentally got massive applause and the drama of “In My Bed” whose  darkly danceable rhythm filled the vaulted space of the Academy while exuding the feel of the sexual tension within the story of the gradual breakdown of a relationship. The musical arrangement on this was masterful and even thinking about it now puts my hairs on end.

What is remarkable is that this song was sung at the Contralto level but Amy could easily fly up the scale almost to Soprano as she did on one of the choruses of “You Sent Me Flying”.  Hearing this unexpected change live was spine-tingling.

My final favourite of that wonderful was “Amy Amy Amy“which stylistically and vocally recalled Nancy Sinitra’s These Boots were made for walking” towards the end of the concert was a cheeky self reference to her love of men and falling to temptation.  If only she had stuck to the men and not fallen to the temptation of anything else.

“Frank” has been a very overlooked and underrated album amid the hype of “Back to Black” but her show-casing of it that night was sublime and greatly appreciated by all who attended. If you don’t believe this though, I happened by chance to be standing next to Johnny Vegas the comic that night and his partner. I asked him what he thought and in his very down to earth northern way he replied “Yeah, she alright, ain’t she” with a glint in his eye. Well the years and her untimely departure caused me to recall this concert and she was already a good deal more than alright. At that time she was on the cusp of being one of the all time greats but she still retained a kind of innocent beguiling charm.

No words will, of course, do the level of  Amy ‘s talent justice but these ones are my tribute to a great artist who had so much more to give and who has been taken from the world before her years.

RIP AMY WINEHOUSE September 14TH 1983 –  July  23RD 2011