Archive for the ‘Rock Music’ Category

Other Top Live Song Performances of 2013

Yolanda Brown’s Bob Marley medley mix
Zaz – “On ira” and “Je veux”
Siouxsie (Sioux) “Dear Prudence”
The Rolling Stones “Paint it Black”
Paramore “The Only Exception”

From amongst the 32 concerts I went to see this there were no shortage of candidates. Kicking off the year February , MOBO award winner Yolanda Brown’s sassy sexy sax medley of Bob Marley Classics –Waiting in Vain / Is this Love etc. got the crowd going in our tiny little local theatre in Barking.

French singer’s Zaz’s deeply humanitarian lyrics for “On ira” and “Je veux” set against a bouncy up-tempo beat provided a moving performance in June at the pocket-sized Scala Theatre in Kings Cross.

Also in June, in what has to be one of the coolest gigs of the gig and only just outside my Top 10 of the year, Siouxsie (Sioux) dressed in a white latex cat suit sang some stonking post punk classics at Yoko Ono’s meltdown festival at London’s Festival Hall, the memorable of which was “Dear Prudence” .

While the open-air concert may have been overpriced and the facilities pretty terrible for concert-goers not paying the premium rates, during the hot summer the Rolling Stones did play a number of classics. A barnstorming rendition of “Paint It Black” compensated a little for a distant view and long waits at the beer and food stalls.

In Autumn, Paramore’s live performance of “The Only Exception” to the sold out crowd of Wembley Arena made my hair stand on end with the 12,000 crowd singing the chorus and waving their lighted mobile phones. Some may mind it a bit cheesy. I found an unforgettable moment.

However, head and shoulder above all those is a man at the age of 63 is a man who moved around the stage like a man 20 years younger full of spirit and verve. This is also a man who quite rightly is about to be inducted into the hall of fame. This is Peter Gabriel, a creative genius who, together with his high calibre band, produced a flawless and entertaining of his massive 1986 hit “Sledeghammer”. The nostalgia buzz was immense for me personally. Check this out.

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)

Kasabian deliver a stonking live show at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London, June 29th 2013

Kasabian deliver a stonking live show at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London, June 29th 2013

Being the inaugural headliner at a new venue if not a new festival was a challenge that Kasabian took up with relish. Given their credentials as a seriously good live band, it is surprising that they were not taken up by Glastonbury as a headliner. No invite so far but then Glasto’s loss was East London’s gain.
Having opted to see a resurgent Gaz Coombes (formerly of Surpegrass fame), whose slot had started late, I missed a good third of their set. So, it was disappointing to miss such gems as “Days are forgotten” “Velociraptor”. Nonetheless, from where I did pick the set – about 7 songs in and from what I saw, I can report that Kasabian were at the top of their game. Picking up the show at “I.D”, the atmosphere emitting from the 30,000 plus crowd was already very lively.
Tom Meighan, with several liberal doses of the F word declared himself to be buzzing and the band obviously were as well as they took us through the back catalogue with a couple of covers, such as The Korgi’s “Everyone’s got to learn sometime and Fat Boy Slim’s “Praise You” thrown in for good measure.
Meighan dedicated the foot-stomping classic “Empire” to Paul Weller who’d been on just before. The flashing lights and the barnstorming nature of the performance provoked a mass bounce-along in parts of the crowd while during “Fast Fuse” perfect strangers were dancing with each other and red flares were being lit. (I am sure that was in the plan of the site security).
L.S.F (Lost Souls Forever) wound up the main part of the gig with a mass audience sing-along that continued long after the band left the stage.

The crowd show flare at the  Kasabian Concert, London, June 29th 2013

The crowd show flare at the Kasabian Concert, London, June 29th 2013

After a short break the fun continued with “Switchblade Smiles” and a high energy version of “Vlad the Impaler”. Just to mix it up a little the band finished with a version of The Crazy World of the Arthur Brown’s “Fire” .
As evidenced by this live performance, Kasabian continue to grow in stature as a band. They take influences from across the decades, mix them up into cocktail and come out with a special flavour every time. This is the band Oasis would have liked to have been had they not got stuck in retro. Moreover, I do not believe Kasabian have yet reached their peak. Simply, for the creativity and the raw energy they generate at live performances they are one of the best live bands around. When they do reach their peak they will the best band in the country. That day is not far off. Watch out Muse.

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.

The Sounds of Change (Chime for Change) Concert at London's Twickenham Stadium, June 1st 2013, UK

The Sounds of Change (Chime for Change) Concert at London’s Twickenham Stadium, June 1st 2013, UK

Americans steal the show at the Sounds of Change (Chime for Change) benefit concert, Live review from Twickenham Stadium, London, UK, Saturday 1st June 2013, featuring Beyoncé, Ellie Goulding, Timbaland, Jennifer Lopez, Haim, John Legend, Florence and the Machine, Laura Pausini, Rita Ora, Iggy Azalea, Jessie J

Jessie J at the Sounds of Change (Chime for Change) Concert, June 1st 2013, London, UK

Jessie J at the Sounds of Change (Chime for Change) Concert, June 1st 2013, London, UK

Iggy Azalea and dancers shake a leg at the Sounds of Change (Chime for Change) concert, London, June 1st 2013,UK

Iggy Azalea and dancers shake a leg at the Sounds of Change (Chime for Change) concert, London, June 1st 2013,UK

Rita Ora shimmers at the Sounds of Change (Chime for Change) concer, London, June 1st 2013, UKt

Rita Ora shimmers at the Sounds of Change (Chime for Change) concer, London, June 1st 2013, UKt

Laura Pausini appears a tad chilly with an overcoat and scarf, Sounds of Change (Chime for Change) concert, London, June 1st 2013, UK

Laura Pausini appears a tad chilly with an overcoat and scarf, Sounds of Change (Chime for Change) concert, London, June 1st 2013, UK

Famous pop names came together at London’s national home of rugby – Twickenham Stadium on Saturday for Sounds of Change , a Gucci sponsored event that was as much about the political message as the music. That message was essentially about female empowerment and was drilled home to a 50,000 strong crowd and so, it was claimed, to global audience of 1 billion in 159 countries with a series of thought provoking short docu-videos and speeches from activists and A list celebrities such as Selma Hayek, Jessica Chastain and Madonna, the latter of whom vociferously challenged the audience “to commit to my revolution”.
These messages were interspersed throughout the musical interludes from range of pop artists leaning towards the commercial but occasionally going leftfield with contributions from Florence and the Machine and BBC Sound of 2013 winner – Haim.

Angelic vocals from Florence Welch and accompanied by her classical machine, Sounds of Change (Chime for Change) concert, London, June 1st 2013, UK

Angelic vocals from Florence Welch and accompanied by her classical machine, Sounds of Change (Chime for Change) concert, London, June 1st 2013, UK

Musically, although the billing gave a relatively even spread of UK and US artists, there is no doubt the wow factor (with the exception of Florence Welch) belonged to our over-the-pond cousins who stole the show. Each artist up until Jennifer Lopez performed about 3 or 4 songs . True Brit Jessie J kicked off the concert with the anthemic “Price Tag” and was creditable enough. Newcomer Iggy Azalea was probably too new for most people as many in the audience struggled to recognise her, though her dancing troupe was impressive enough. Italian superstar Laura Pausini, who in a heavy coat, looked more like she was dressed for winter gave a high powered performance with “Io canto” (I sing) to the delight of many enthusiastic banner waving Italians in the crowd. Spangly dressed Rita Ora was, what I can say, er, Rita Ora and no, I am no fan of heavily electronically based R n B, in case you hadn’t guessed. She performed her big hits “Hot Right Now” and “RIP” and at least the kids in the crowd seemed to enjoy it. The only Brit that really held up her end up well was Florence Welch who sang an abridged rendition of the classical music version of “You Got the Love” that was almost identical to the one described in my review of Florence at the Royal albert hall last year. She also performed “Dog Days are over” where the crowd did not prove equal to clapping in rhythm – the cause of much hilarity. Florence’s voice though, as usual was impeccable as it effortlessly filled the humongous stadium and once again caused the hairs on the back of my neck to stand up. Less impressive was Ellie Goulding who had the unenviable task of filling the slot between Timbaland and headliner Beyonce. Though probably not her fault her usually distinct and penetrating voice struggled to make headway over the erratic and at times crackly sound system (at least from where I was sitting).

John Legend lives up to his name, Sounds of Change (Chime for Change) concert, London, June 1st 2013, UK

John Legend lives up to his name, Sounds of Change (Chime for Change) concert, London, June 1st 2013, UK

Haim give out sisterly attitude, Sounds of Change (Chime for Change) concert , London, June 1st 2013, UK

Haim give out sisterly attitude, Sounds of Change (Chime for Change) concert , London, June 1st 2013, UK

J-Lo is back at the Top of her Game, Sounds of Change (Chime for Change) concert, London, June 1st 2013, UK

J-Lo is back at the Top of her Game, Sounds of Change (Chime for Change) concert, London, June 1st 2013, UK

The star turns really commenced with the arrival of John Legend on the stage who achieved the rare feat of successfully performing ”Bridge over Troubled Waters” while not being Simon and Garfunkel, so much so that it got the first ripples of a sing-a long going. But it was the song “Ordinary People” that really put a mellow vibe into the Twickenham crowd.
That may have given a pleasant chilled out feeling but Jennifer Lopez was second only to Beyonce as the star turn of the evening. The moment J-Lo stepped on stage with her dance troupe; it was like a bolt of electricity coursing through the stadium. Doing what American artists do best she worked it in a well-choreographed sexy vibrant set. Booties were shaking and numbers were being sung along to all over the stadium especially during “Love don’t Cost a Thing” and 2011 hit “On the Floor”. But without a shadow of doubt the highlight of the day was the surprise duet of “Come Together” with Mary J Blige.
Timbaland gave a crowd rousing performance of some his collaboration songs like “Promiscuous” and “The Way I Are “only without some of his collaborators which felt a bit strange – the exception being Simon Le Bon who put in a cameo appearance on a re-worked version of “ The Reflex”.

Timbaland works up the crowd, Sounds of Change (Chime for Change) concert, London, June 1st 2013, UK

Timbaland works up the crowd, Sounds of Change (Chime for Change) concert, London, June 1st 2013, UK

Despite sound issues, Ellie Goulding pulls it off, Sounds of Change (Chime for Change) concert, London June 1st 2013, UK

Despite sound issues, Ellie Goulding pulls it off, Sounds of Change (Chime for Change) concert, London June 1st 2013, UK

Then after Ellie Goulding, it was time for the main act– the Artistic Director of this event – Beyonce herself. She strolled down casually but purposefully down the centre of the stage flanked on her right by a 6 player string section. The concert did not follow the lines of the current Mrs Carter world tour. Instead, echoing the political theme of the event she started with an impeccably delivered version of “A Change is Gonna Come”. The string accompaniment gave a relaxed air to the opening. This vibe continued with a cover of Etta James’s “At last”.

Beyoncé - Star turn of the show,  Sounds of Change (Chime for Change) concert, London, June 1st 2013, UK

Beyoncé – Star turn of the show, Sounds of Change (Chime for Change) concert, London, June 1st 2013, UK

The set shifted up gear with “Run the World” (a very appropriate song for the event ) and thereafter it was hits all the way with “Survivor” , “Irreplaceable” with the slightly naff “To the left , to the left” hand movement done on mass by the 50,000 crowd , “If I were a Boy” and “Crazy in Love”, which saw Jay –Z make a quick appearance to do the rapping part and give his wife a quick peck on the cheek. The crowd obviously went wild to this. As we moved through the reduced hour long set, the lights dazzled and flashed, the choreography was energetic and slick and the crowd on one occasion forgot the words on a sing-a-long. However, at times, it felt like a roller coaster ride as there several interludes where more videos were played concerning worldwide womens’ issues – good for getting your point across but it does kind of dampen the flow of the concert. Nonetheless, we are talking Beyonce here and such was the quality of the performance that you were not going to come away feeling short changed. The last songs “I Will Always Love You” which “Mrs Carter” dedicated to Whitney Houston and “Halo” gave the Twickenham audience a rousing send off.

Tour de Force -Beyoncé's set reinforces the message of female empowerment, Sounds of Change (Chime for Change) concert , London, June 1st 2013, UK

Tour de Force -Beyoncé’s set reinforces the message of female empowerment, Sounds of Change (Chime for Change) concert , London, June 1st 2013, UK

I am not generally a great lover of mixing politics with music (other than in the lyrics of songs) but this show was well-constructed, the messages concerning women’s empowerment were balanced and put forward an important issue in a succinct and informative way, stopping just the right side of being preachy. Another nice touch was that all the proceeds from the tickets sales go to women’s projects and you can chose which you want the value of your ticket to go to. Did this benefit concert achieve what it set out to? Yes, I think so. Musically, it please most of the people most of the time and got its message out about the importance of world-wide female education and empowerment.

Beth Hart rocks out the Forum, Kentish Town, London, November 16th 2012

Beth Hart rocks out the Forum, Kentish Town, London, November 16th 2012

Beth Hart’s exuberance was a delight to watch as she came bounding onto the the Forum stage looking very excited. Mind you, with the audience having been kept waiting longer than expected, you could feel the crowd getting fidgety as some small ripples of slow-handclapping were heard. Not to worry, it was worth the wait as Beth was to prove. Practically bursting onto the stage, Beth started off with a relaxing piano ballad with “With You Everyday” but soon went into hot rocking mode and after that her energy knew bounds. The atmosphere cranked up with “Better Man”, a mid-tempo rock ballad – with a tinge of drama whose deliciously accusatory lyrics to a no good old flame revolve around description of life in a better relationship.

From then she had so such much enthusiasm she looked like she was going to explode. Two awesome americana rock songs followed – “Well Well” and “Delicious Surprise” that saw Beth, dressed in a knee length red dress marching and gyrating around different parts of the stage like she was about to burst. But then bringing the tempo right back down, she demonstrated her vocal versatility and subtlety on “Caught Out in the Rain” with a raw soulfulness akin to that of Randy Crawford at her height. As she smooched and swooned in front of the blues guitar, the solo was from this instrument was sublime.
There was humour too. While introducing the song “The Ugliest House on the Block” Beth recounted a story of her and her husband needing to find a cheap place to stay in Los Angeles , finding a cheap place online and it being horrible but stated that they are living still there.
Other highlights included a thrilling performance of Something’s Got A Hold of Me” with such an up-tempo beat that it could have come out of a Tina Turner songbook and the jaunty piano rock of title track of her latest album Bang Bang Boom Boom.

Then just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, as gift for the British audience , Beth and the band blasted us in the encore with a full-on version of Led Zep’s Whole Lotta Love .
We thought that was it and many started to leave but Beth came back to her piano and sang one last glorious tune “My California” conveying a glorious soulful feeling of nostalgic homesickness, that a London crowd could appreciate. This was a truly magnificent gig from Beth Hart and a long one at just over 2 hours. “Thank god you came” she said almost in a whisper at the end of the song as a compliment to the crowd. No Beth, it is for us to thank you for coming.