Posts Tagged ‘rock’

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.

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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)

In 10 years of gig continuous gig going there has always been one venue that has stood out from the rest in London or anywhere for that matter. Sure, venues like Wembley or the O2 have size and scale on their side and that can lend an impressive atmosphere to the place and there are small boxy venues like the Garage or the Jazz Café that put you close up to the artist. However, for a combination of feeling being at a gig of importance but also with an intimate atmosphere, for me you cannot beat the 2000 seater, Shepherd’s Bush Empire. For these reasons, out of the 350 or so gigs that I’ve lucky enough to attend in the past ten years, 56 have been at this super cool venue. The building itself was built as an Edwardian music hall theatre in 1903 and continued in this form for the next fifty years, even surviving World War II relatively unscathed. From 1953 to 1991 it was owned by the BBC who produced many famous light entertainment shows there, including Hancock’s Half Hour, The Generation Game, This is your life and , of course famous UK chat show of the 1980s Wogan. After 3 years of renovation, the venue saw itself transform into a music venue in 1994 and next will see it celebrate its 20th anniversary as such. I was fortunate to attend during its 10th anniversary series where I saw Mike and the Mechanics and the performance was videoed. This was one among many memorable performances I saw but which made the grade to be worthy of inclusion in my Top 5. It has been very difficult to choose but finally here is my list.


Number 1 – Ray Davies, February 11th 2006

A worthy Londoner for a worthy London gig venue. In 2005, now without The Kinks since 1997, Ray Davies was on the comeback trail, recording his first commercially successful album – “Other People’s Lives – for a number of years. The hit the charts early February 2006 at the time of the gig and a seven song segment from the album was played during the show demonstrating Davies masterful songwriting and observational skills particularly in connection with London and English life. He then finished up the gig with such Kinks classics “All day and All of the Night”, “You Really Got Me”, “Waterloo Sunset” and “Lola”. I cannot describe the atmosphere so highly charged was it; the whole of the Empire audience getting to their feet, singing and dancing. Davies also received standing ovations. Without a doubt this was the greatest gig ever at this venue.

Number 2 – Kaiser Chiefs, March 4th 2007

The Kaiser Chiefs were at the height of their early powers. Ricky Wilson proudly announced at the show that their second album had just gone to No.1 in the UK charts and a week before “Ruby” had been the No.1 single. Though still a great band and one of my personal favourites, The Kaisers have never quite been able to recapture the heady triumph of those days. This gig, though, was an “I was there” moment. At one point, Mr Wilson dived off the stage into the frenetically swaying crowd which buckled under him. Standing on the first balcony was an equally unnerving experience and you could feel it moving underfoot to the vibrations of the beat and the pogoing crowd. ” I predict a riot” almost felt like one. This gig was one of the most high octane events I have ever witnessed. Fantastic energy.

Number 3 – The Human League with John Foxx supporting, December 18th 2003

This one is very special to me on a personal level for several reasons. It is the first gig I ever went to with my wife either at Shepherd’s Bush or anywhere. For all you lovers of Ultravox it also had John Foxx supporting. It was an absolute thrill to hear the glorious soaring synth of “Underpass” booming out filling up the theatre. Curiously, it’s also one of the very few times I’ve seen any trouble break in what is normally a problem free theatre. Some guy got into a row with a couple in the row below and thought it would amusing to throw a drink at her which , of course kicked things and involved the intervention of security. Just goes to prove, situations like this can arise anywhere if you’re unlikely. That said, it did not spoil our enjoyment of the League who played what was, in effect their anthology. It was great to sing along to belting tunes like “Mirror Man”, “Sound of the Crowd” and “Don’t you Want Me”?

Number 4 – The Killers (as a support act), March 5th 2004

I have already written in my previous blog entitled Londongigger’s Top 10 support acts that this was by far the best support gig I ever saw. That has not changed. With only a few hundred people in the audience, the band ran through most of the tracks from “Hot Fuss” thrilling the small crowd. None months later, The Killers were number one in the UK Album charts and the rest as they say, is history.

Number 5 – Juliette Lewis and the New Romantiques, October 23rd 2009

This gig was hard work physically and the last standing gig I did at this venue. Yes, Miss Lewis, renowned Hollywood actress and very credible rock and roll indie artist, made us work hard for a taste of her work. Standing through 4 support acts, 2 of whom were fun, 1 crap and 1 of which was so loud, I thought I’d had a free ear syringe was not the most enjoyable experience in a sardine packed crowd. However, it proved to be worth the wait and the pain on the feet as she absolutely tore the place down. Bedecked in a flamboyant outfit with feathers, and coming out with phrases like “if you’re too shy to shake your hips then shake your tits”, she exuded boundless energy , even coming down of the stage with no fear and singing and dancing with fans. It’s not everyday you see a Hollywood star do that. The gig was 65 minutes of pure mosh pitting bliss climaxing with title track of the album “Terra Incognito”. At £14 a ticket, this was probably also the Best Value for Money gig I’ve seen.

Paramore triumph at Wembley, Sept 27th 2013

Paramore triumph at Wembley, Sept 27th 2013

I am always astonished when I go to a gig expecting a certain of crowd or a specific genre and then get an expected vibe. In this respect Paramore are a group that continue to surprise and delight. True, half the audience could be in a teen advert for Converse trainers, especially the type where a sudden flash dance mob appears or in a vibrant hair colour commercial but as a whole the audience remained mixed saying much about the group’s cross-over appeal. Reading recently about the slightly acrimonious departure of 2 band mates and spiteful accusation of the band being “manufactured” did nothing to dampen my spirits and judging from the performance I witnessed I saw nothing contrived about them. The effervescent Hayley Williams jumped around the stage like an enthusiastic Jack-in-a-box and band mates Jeremy Davis and Taylor York hardly covered any less ground of Wembley’s wide stage. Plenty of material from the new self-titled album was covered including open song “Grow-Up”, the epically defiant “Now” and “Daydreaming” that gave a nod in tempo and rhythm to Blondie’s “Dreaming”. “Ignorance” provided the opportunity for a bit of fist punching and there were quirky moments on “I’m Not Angry any more” with a banjo. However, I’m a sucker for a whole group of people waiving mobile phones and/or lighters to an atmospheric slow and that’s exactly what happened when “The Only Exception” was played. There was something magnificently moving about seeing thousands of lights swaying at Wembley and the whole of the arena singing the chorus.
It was also a nice touch to send a tribute out to Fleetwood Mac on the weekend that that group were playing in London. Having myself seen Fleetwood Mac only 3 days before, Williams voice was uncannily similar to that of the great Stevie Nicks as Paramore played a snippet of “Landslide”. Another great moment was to see Hayley pull fan called Amber up onto the stage to sing along side her at the on “Misery Business”. All 3 of the band received a hug from the somewhat feisty fan who looked a little horrified when asked by Hayley if she knew the words.

The biggest surprise of the night was how many people put their hands when asked it this was their first Paramore show. The first-timers were then very fortunate to witness something special.
With few exceptions this gig was a high-tempo affair fusing elements of indie, metal and pop with the very appealing emotional quality of Williams voice. All in all, a very entertaining and atmospheric evening.

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.