Rolling Stones London Stadium 22nd May 2018
As a 25 year old, I was quite astounded when Sir Mick told me how he and the boys started “at the Marque Club in 1962”. That’s 56 years ago. My lifetime,doubled, and then some.
And it really was an evening of numbers. 6 decades of shows, 300 birthdays, 2 hours of hits, and 65000 fans, whose age gap was as large as the bands repertoire. They really are, in the words of Liam Gallagher (The Stones’ very well received support act), the ultimate rock ‘n’ roll stars.
Starting early, they jumped straight into “Street Fighting Man” and within seconds, everything seemed so familiar. Every movement, mannerism and sound from each individual synonymous with popular music history.
15 songs later, the show really built to a crescendo. The final sprint of “Start Me Up”, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and “Brown Sugar”, before an encore of “Gimme Shelter” and “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” was live music at its very best.
As a guitarist, did I worry if the boys could still play? Of course. However, not only did Keith’s bluesy noodling soon put me at ease, but something else became clear. The sheer gravitas of the band I was lucky enough to be stood in front of would outweigh any technical difficulties these 70 year olds now face.
They had a great contingency plan too. Flanked with talented session musicians, led by Chuck Leavell (The Allman Brothers, Eric Clapton, George Harrison, David Gilmour, John Mayer), The Stones could relax and enjoy themselves, and it showed in their performance. Special mention to Sasha Alan who sang the legendary top line in “Gimme Shelter” perfectly.
One thing that needed no back up was Sir Mick Jagger’s showmanship. It was a full course of dancing, clapping, “YEH”-ing and hosting. The original and ultimate frontman.
With Gibson going bankrupt last week, and the absence of guitars in the charts, it’s easy to hop on the “guitar is dead” train. However last night fills me with confidence. At every turn you saw air guitars from young and old, teenage girls with Keith Richards lighting up their iPhone backgrounds, and Ronnie’s guitar solos awarded the loudest cheer. It may only be Rock ’n’ Roll, but a lot of people still like it.
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Rolling Stones London Stadium 22nd May 2018 As a 25 year old, I was quite astounded when Sir Mick told me how he and the boys started...
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ALBUM REVIEW: SOULFIRE – LITTLE STEVEN
Last year at his O2 Indigo show in London, Little Steven announced that he was going to be back in 2017 with a new album and another European tour. The only UK date that’s been squeezed into his schedule was Manchester but the promised new album is now out and it’s a scorcher!
His first solo album for 18 years (“Born Again Savage” appeared in 1999), the new release marks a return to the sound of “Men Without Women” (his first album with the Disciples of Soul) and the first three albums for Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, which he produced and provided a lot of the original material. So you know what you’re going to get – lots of brass, big production, classic 50s and 60s R & B and striking rock guitar
The 15 piece band includes top horns man Eddie Manion (from the Asbury Jukes) and guitarist Marc Ribler (the musical director for Darlene Love), and it’s primarily the band that played over here at the London Blues Fest.
It’s not what you would call a “brand new” album – most of the Van Zandt material has appeared in some form previously. It’s effectively Van Zandt pulling together a set of songs that can be seen as his story so far – and it makes you realise what a good songwriter/producer/arranger Van Zandt is.
You get Van Zandt’s take on 5 of his own compositions (or co-writes) which were first recorded by Southside Johnny – I’m Coming Back, Some Things Just Don’t Change, Love On The Wrong Side Of Town, I Don’t Want To Go Home (the first song he ever wrote) and Ride The Night Away. Also featured is an update of “Standing in the Line of Fire” (originally recorded by Gary US Bonds)
The “old” songs are good and anyone familiar with the Southside Johnny versions isn’t going to be disappointed. “Love on the Wrong Side of Town” is the most changed version- it gets a “Byrds style” intro before the familiar brass parts kick in, and then the instrumental section goes for an altogether different sound which is strikingly different from the horns on the Jukes version.
Even more interesting are the less familiar songs –“Soulfire” the album opener is a co-write which was recorded previously by The Breakers – a band on Van Zandt’s own label. It’s a strong opener and sets out the tone of the album that follows – a big sound and Van Zandt’s trademark vocals and guitar.
Here’s a link to Little Steven’s Youtube site to hear “Soulfire”:
“The City Weeps Tonight” is a new Van Zandt original – and it’s a gorgeous piece of updated doo wop. “I Saw The Light” is another Van Zandt original (not the Todd Rundgren song) which has never appeared before.
There’s an excellent choice of covers – first up (track 3) you get the “Blues Is My Business” a strong blues rock number first recorded by Etta James. This is the track for all you LGA students to plug in the guitar and play along to. Clocking in at over 6 minutes there’s plenty of licks and riffs to get your teeth (fingers!) into. You can play along here at Little Steven’s Youtube site:
The album also features a cover of “Down And Out in New York City” – the James Brown track from the movie “Black Caesar”. Marc Ribler gives it the full-on ‘70s “Shaft” wah-wah guitar sound.
“Saint Valentine’s Day” is another Van Zandt original that was originally given away and recorded by The Cocktail Slippers. It also featured in a stripped down rocky format in the rock movie “Not Fade Away” but this version brings in the full band and horn section to keeps this version within the sound of the album as a whole.
You can hear it here:
If you like the “Men Without Women” album (or Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes) this is definitely an album to go and buy.
- I’m Coming Back
- Blues Is My Business
- I Saw the Light
- Some Things Just Don’t Change
- Love on the Wrong Side of Town
- The City Weeps Tonight
- Down and Out in New York City
- Standing in the Line of Fire
- Saint Valentine’s Day
- I Don’t Want to Go Home
- Ride the Night Away
BLAST FROM THE PAST
Here’s Youtube live footage from the current European tour with Southside Johnny joining Little Steven & the Disciples of Soul for a sing-a-long version of “It’s Been A Long Time” (written by Van Zandt and originally recorded by Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes on their excellent 1991 comeback album “Better Days” )