GIG REVIEW – NILS LOFGREN MAY 2018
Nils Lofgren is back in the UK with his “50 Years…Up The Road Tour” and LGA reviewer, Paul Wood, was there to catch his recent show at the Birmingham Town Hall.
Interspersed with stories from his life on the road with Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen and Grin ( and how he grew up learning to play the accordion before switching to guitar), Nils Lofgren is at ease on stage and with his fans, making plenty of time after the show for autographs and photos.
Billed as “an intimate acoustic evening of songs and stories” the format of the show was similar to the last UK tour – a predominantly acoustic set with support from friend and multi-instrumentalist Greg Varlotta.
“Code of the Road” was the show’s opener and, although played on acoustic, had Lofgren hitting the effects pedals to give the first of the evening’s many fluid but fierce solos
“Walking Nerve” comes with a trumpet backing from Varlotta and “Girl in Motion” is transformed into a guitar tour de force as Lofgren sets up the basic guitar pattern on his loop pedal before a series of breathtaking acoustic solo patterns.
Here’s a link to an online video of Nils and Greg performing “Girl in Motion” on their 2015 UK tour.
Mid-set Nils moved over to keyboard for the trio of “Wonderin’”, “Believe” and “Goin’ Back”. Fresh from a short series of dates with Neil Young in the States, “Wonderin’” was one of the Neil Young songs worked up for the recent shows but not played.
“Too Many Miles” starts with Lofgren on a Lever Harp (bought for him as a present by his wife Amy) before switching to electric guitar for the first time in the show.
Varlotta switches between keyboard, guitar and trumpet throughout the set and “I Came To Dance” had Lofgren and Varlotta kitted out in tap shoes for a tap dance “duet” (to rapturous applause) in the middle of the song.
Here’s a link to an online acoustic “live in the studio” version of “No Mercy” which was the main set closing number in Birmingham.
Biggest surprise of the night was the first encore – Nils coming out with an accordion and playing “Flight of the Bumble Bee” before moving to an electric guitar for the full rock out on “Shine Silently and his traditional one legged guitar spin finale. It was another great show which covered a wide range of numbers from his very long career.
Currently in the process of recording a new album and with the promise of the next UK tour being with a full band, if you like Lofgren (or love guitar) it’s well worth catching the “intimate” setting of the current tour.
Nils is at the London Barbican on Monday 28th May and full UK tour dates can be found here:
- Code of the Road
- Little On Up
- Walkin’ Nerve
- Man In The Moon
- Girl In Motion
- Love You Most
- Black Books
- Rusty Gun
- Goin’ Back
- Too Many Miles
- Keith Don’t Go
- I Came To Dance
- No Mercy
BLAST FROM THE PAST
Here’s a link to Nils playing “Back It Up” on the Old Grey Whistle Test in 1975:
JASON ISBELL AND THE 400 UNIT GIG REVIEW
Currently touring throughout Europe, LGA reviewer, Paul Wood caught Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit on their last UK date at the Symphony Hall in Birmingham.
Jason Isbell has been recording and touring with steadily increasing acclaim since his departure from the Drive By Truckers in 2007. His 4th solo album “Southeastern” earned him a clean sweep at the 2014 Americana Music Awards and follow up album “Something More Than Free” made top position in the Billboard rock, folk and country record charts.
Isbell’s latest studio album “The Nashville Sound” is credited to Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit and its songs are the centerpiece of tonight’s show.
The line up for the European tour comprises Jason Isbell (guitar), Derry deBorja (keyboards), Chad Gamble (drums), Jimbo Hart (bass), and Sadler Vaden (guitar). This is the band featured on “The Nashville Sound”, although Isbell’s wife, Amanda Shires (fiddle) hasn’t come over for the European dates.
The opening couple of songs had a full on rock sound with both Isbell and fellow guitarist Sadler Vaden on electric guitar. The opening sound (imagine a mix between Steve Earle in his rocky period and Bruce Springsteen) was probably a bit loud for the Symphony Hall acoustics and the keyboard was pretty much lost underneath the guitars and bass.
Here’s a link to the promo video (with lyrics) for the second song of the night “24 Frames”:
As the set pacing changed and Isbell switched to an acoustic the sound became much better balanced and the whole sound became clearer, even when it got rockier again later in the set. Here’s a link to Isbell’s promo live video of “Hope The High Road”
For quieter numbers, the band slimmed down to just leave on stage Isbell and whoever was needed, before the whole band was back again for the final series of numbers. Here’s a link to the promo video for his rather gorgeous song “Cover Me Up”
The main set drew to a close with some flashy guitar interplay between guitarist Vaden (an impressive player throughout the evening) and Isbell.
The set list was a good mix of the new album (8 songs) and favourites from earlier albums, “Southeastern” (3 songs), “Something More Than Free” (3 songs) and the 2011 album “Here We Rest” (2 songs).
There was also a nod back to the Drive By Truckers with “Decoration Day” and main set closer “Never Gonna Change”.
No two sets on the UK dates was exactly the same, numbers being added or dropped out, presumably to keep it fresh for the band and for the audience, a clear number of which had caught more than one show on the tour.
Here’s a link to Isbell’s promo video for “If We Were Vampires” which was played as the first encore of the night.
Looking at the set lists from other dates on the tour, Isbell has been playing a Tom Petty song in his encore selection and tonight was no exception, the audience being treated to a slammin’ version of “Refugee”.
The Symphony Hall was clearly (almost) full with Isbell fans. His last few albums have seen him make great strides in terms of commercial success and this was a good well paced show from a guy with a growing back catalogue of impressive songs. Jason Isbell is an artist well worth checking out on his next European tour.
- 24 Frames
- Hope The High Road
- White man’s World
- Decoration day
- Something More Than Free
- Last Of My Kind
- Alabama Pines
- Cumberland Gap
- Cover me Up
- If It Takes A Lifetime
- Never Gonna Change
- If We Were Vampires
GIG REVIEW – RICHARD HAWLEY
Richard Hawley played two special evening dates this month in the rather spectacular venue of the Devil’s Arse Cavern in Castleton. The cavern is basically the underground opening to the Peak Cavern, one of Castleton’s famous underground caverns. The Caverns are normally open to the public for walks underground but had been temporarily converted for this purpose to a music venue with temporary seating and a bar.
Your LGA reviewer Paul Wood donned his Parka coat and walking boots and was there to witness the first of the two nights on the 28th April.
Neil McSweeney was the opening act on the Friday night –I’d say it was his job to “warm up” the audience but the temperature was dropping pretty fast! His 40 minute set of self compositions was well received.
Hawley took to the stage to what was almost a “home crowd” (you can catch the bus from Sheffield to Castleton) and it’s clear that everyone there was a Hawley fan. Opening songs “As The Dawn Breaks” and “Ashes on the Fire” set up the typical Hawley concert experience, strong voice, melody and excellent guitar sounds. An up tempo “Tonight The Streets Are Ours” followed, before which Hawley quipped “if you think I’ve put on weight it’s because I’m wearing 50 layers!”
The intricate “Standing At The Skys Edge” had Hawley saying how difficult it was to keep the 12 string in tune under these temperatures and then Clive Miller was brought out to join the onstage band to add tasteful harmonica to “Nothing Like A Friend”.
Here’s a link to the official video for “Nothing Like A Friend”
The rest of the onstage band were long time Hawley cohorts Shez Sheridan and Jon Trier with an occasional drum machine added to give some of the songs a rhythm boost.
Here’s a link to the official video for “Tuesday PM” featuring Shez Sheridan and Jon Trier.
Closing song of the set was a rather aptly titled “The Nights Are Cold” before the band came back for a 3 song encore. Hawley dedicated the final song (a cover of Lee Hazelwood’s “Son Of A Gun”) to his father and grandfather who had first brought him to the Peak Cavern just over 50 years ago in 1976.
Here’s a link to live footage of Richard playing “Son OF A Gun” from the Union Chapel earlier this year
The whole Devils Arse show was recorded by liveherenow and CD recordings of the concert were ready and available for purchase as you left the show.
Richard Hawley – guitar, vocals
Shez Sheridan – guitar, backing vocals
Jon Trier – keyboards
Clive Miller –harmonica (selected tracks)
The Drum Machine
- As The Dawn Breaks
- Ashes On The Fire
- Tonight The Streets Are Ours
- Standing At The Sky’s Edge
- Nothing Like A Friend
- Tuesday PM
- Remorse Code
- Leave Your Body Behind You
- Just Like The Rain
- For Your Lover Give Some Time
- The Nights Are Cold
- Heart of Oak
- What Love Means
- Son Of A Gun (Lee Hazelwood cover)
BLAST FROM THE PAST
To give you a flavor of the unique atmosphere at the Cavern, here’s a link to video footage of Richard playing “Just Like The Rain” live at the Devil’s Arse Cavern at an earlier show in 2008
GIG REVIEW – LITTLE STEVEN AND THE DISCIPLES OF SOUL
Fans of Steve Van Zandt got a rare treat as part of this year’s BluesFest in London – his first UK “solo” appearance for 27 years as “Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul”.
Brought over by promoter (and saxophone player) Leo Green to play at the “Bill Wyman 80th Birthday Bash” which formed part of the BluesFest events schedule, Van Zandt was persuaded to also play a late night Saturday evening full band set at the intimate “Indigo at the O2” venue.
Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul
LGA gig reviewer, Paul Wood, was there to catch the action and a pretty impressive night it was too.
The night’s introductions were kicked off by well known London radio presenter Robert Elms and then a surprise second introduction (specifically at Van Zandt’s request) came from ‘6os pop legend (and modern day music entrepreneur) Dave Clark (leader of the Dave Clark Five).
When the curtains opened you could see that Van Zandt, sporting his traditional long coat, scarves and bandana, had put together a 15 piece band of US and UK musicians – including a 5 piece horn section featuring promoter Leo Green (“it’s all his fault, laughs Van Zandt pointing at Green, “he persuaded me to play”) and original Disciple of Soul/former Asbury Juke, Ed Manion.
LITTLE STEVEN AND THE DISCIPLES OF SOUL GIG REVIEW
With Marc Ribler (Musical M.D. for Darlene Love) acting as 2nd guitar and onstage choreographer, the band power packed their way through a set of over 2 hours to an ecstatic crowd of Van Zandt/Disciples of Soul/Asbury Jukes and Springsteen fans.
Here’s a link to Youtube footage from the gig of the band performing “Until The Good Is Gone” (from the “Men Without Women” album):
Little Steven & The Disciples of Soul Concert
The set list was (broadly) a one third each mix of songs from the “Van Zandt/Disciples of Soul” era (the “Men Without Women” album), songs that were recorded by Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes (but written and produced for the Jukes by Van Zandt) and a selection of covers nodding to the “BluesFest” origin of the gig.
Here’s a link to Youtube footage from the gig of the band performing “Forever” (also from the “Men Without Women” album):
At the same evening in the main O2 Arena the BluesFest show was a combination of Richie Sambora and Orianthi supporting Bad Company. Van Zandt joined Ritchie Sambora and Orianthi for a song on their set and the compliment was returned later in the evening with Hook Herrera (from Sambora’s band) joining Van Zandt to play the harmonica on the Jimmy Reed cover, Walking By Myself and then Sambora himself joining Van Zandt for a long encore blast through “Can I Get A Witness”.
Here’s a final Youtube link to footage of the band playing their version of the Southside Johnny classic, “I Don’t Want To Go Home” (“the first song I ever wrote” said Van Zandt) . The night finished to loud cheers as Van Zandt announced that they were recording a new Disciples of Soul album, re-releasing his earlier solo albums next year and that they would be back over here for a proper tour in the summer of 2017. Go catch them when they come over – if the band put together for the tour resembles anything like the band at the Indigo it’ll be a great show.
- Killing Floor
- Comin’ Back
- Inside Of Me
- I Played The Fool
- The Blues Is My Business
- Until The Good Is Gone
- Ride The Night Away
- Groovin’ Is Easy
- All I Needed Was You
- Love Disease
- She Got Me Where She Wants me
- Some Things Just Don’t Change
- Trapped Again
- Down And Out I New York City
- Walking By Myself (with Hook Herrera)
- I Don’t Want To Go Home
- Bitter Fruit
- Can I Get A Witness (with Richie Sambora)
BLAST FROM THE PAST
Here’s a Youtube link to the original promo video shot for the “Forever” single from the “Men Without Women” album. The single made the US Top 100.
GIG REVIEW – RONNIE SPECTOR
The close of 2015 saw a short UK tour from the legendary Ronnie Spector under the billing of “Ronnie Spector sings the Fabulous Ronettes”. Still touring at the age of 72, Ronnie brought over her full American band to play a short series of dates and LGA gig reviewer, Paul Wood, was there to catch her show in Birmingham.
Ronnie was in fine form and, although the Town Hall was not sold out (the gig had been moved from Symphony Hall), she gave the crowd of assembled devotees a set which was a mix of hits, cult classics such as “Paradise” and “I Wish I Never Saw The Sunshine”, plus her interpretation of other songs, both old (“Time Is On My Side”) and new (“Back To Black”).
Here’s a Youtube link to the original single version of “Paradise” (written by Harry Nilsson and with the full Phil Spector Wall of Sound production behind it)
Although the show had an unexpected delay before starting, Ronnie quickly had the crowd hanging on her ever word – she started the show with “Be My Baby” and her trademark voice was still strong.
Here’s a link to footage of Ronnie singing “Be My Baby” at the Jools Holland New Year show in 2014/5.
Between songs Ronnie sat down and treated the audience to various short stories from her career with the Ronettes, accompanied by archive footage and photos on the big screen behind the band. The Ronettes first came over to the UK in the early 60s where they toured with the Rolling Stones and met The Beatles. The Ronettes were given top billing over the Stones on their 1964 UK tour, and were later to meet up again (and support) the Beatles in the States after Beatlemania had broken out..
Here’s a link to footage of Ronnie singing “Walking In The Rain” at the Jools Holland New Year show in 2014/5.
Ronnie’s first ever career retrospective came out last year (Playlist: The Very Best of Ronnie Spector) and the disc includes “Baby I Love You”, “Be My Baby”, “I Can Hear Music”, “Try Some, Buy Some”, “Say Goodbye to Hollywood”, “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory” and more. It’s well worth buying, and Ronnie tells the audience that she’s hoping to have a new album called “English Heart” out next year too!
Encores captured the Christmas theme with “Frosty The Snowman” and the set closed with her version of “I Can Hear Music” (which was the last single released by the Ronettes on the Philles label in 1966).
For news of upcoming releases and tour dates check out her website and Facebook pages at:
Baby I Love You
Keep On Dancing
What I’d Say
Time Is On My Side
Is This What I Get For Loving You
Do I Love You
Chapel Of Love
Walking In The Rain
Best Part of Breaking Up
I Wish I Never Saw The Sunshine
You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory
Back To Black
Be My Baby
Frosty The Snowman
I Can Hear Music
BLAST FROM THE PAST
Here’s a link to footage of Ronnie in her late 1970s comeback singing “Be My Baby” with Sha Na Na on their TV show:
Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour Gig Review Royal Albert Hall London.
David Gilmour has been playing since he was 9 and @ the Royal Albert Hall he showd that he was perhaps the greatest electric guitar its on the planet! All the the key elements came together to make this Royal Albert Hall a truly brilliant performance. There is something quite majestic about the way Gilmour sweetly bends his notes effortlessly making each not swing so sweetly . The guitar is a magical thing and when you hear the seminal Wish You Where Here in a magnificent venue like the Royal Albert Hall you know the guitar is the finest most versatile instrument in existence. The new single Rattle That Lock, is the strongest single featuring electric guitar since Daft Punks Get Lucky.
“Comfortably Numb” was simply magnificent with Gilmour soloing fluidly & freely playing what is considered by some to be the greatest electric guitar solo of all time.
During the Albert Hall show he performed several Pink Floyd classics including “Us and Them” live for the first time. As expected, each note-perfect, each tune a gigantic version of the studio version, which is why the Floyd songs inevitably stand tall above almost every rock song of the last 30 years. Overall its fair to say we loved the show and without question Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour is a must see for all guitar lovers!
David Gilmour’s SETLIST
5 A.M. (featuring GILMOUR playing a Gibson Les Paul)
Astronomy Domine Pink Floyd
Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts I-V) (Pink Floyd)
Fat Old Sun (Pink Floyd)
On an Island
The Girl in the Yellow Dress
Sorrow Pink Floyd
Run Like Hell (Pink Floyd)
Time (Pink Floyd)
Breathe (Reprise) (Pink Floyd)
GIG REVIEW –DAN PENN AND SPOONER OLDHAM
Legendary Memphis singer/songwriters Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham made a rare visit to the UK last month and your LGA reviewer, Paul Wood, caught them in the rather splendid environment of the Union Chapel.
The current tour was the pair’s first visit to the UK in 9 years and was timed to coincide with the re-release of their previous live album “Moments From This Theatre” which has been repackaged in a deluxe CD edition (“The Complete Duo Recordings”) which combines the original album with a live DVD recorded at their 2009 gig in St James’s Church, Piccadilly. A gig attended by both the current reviewer and the London Guitar Academy maestro, James Stratton.
A reverential crowd was delighted to see the veteran performers in fine form. The on stage banter between the two reflects the 50 year period they’ve been recording, performing and writing together. Oldham’s greeting to the audience of “this is a mighty fine place you’ve got here” is followed by a razor sharp response from Penn “if this was the USA it would have been torn down long ago”.
The opening song of the set (and album) is the classic – “I’m Your Puppet”. The uptempo version of the 60s version by James and Bobby Purify is slowed right down to give it a classic soul gospel feel. Penn’s still strong vocals are underpinned by Oldham’s light but immaculate presence on keyboard. Here’s a link to a TV studio version of the song:
Hit follows hit, “Sweet Inspiration” (the Sweet Inspirations), Cry Like A Baby (Box Tops), Do Right Woman (Aretha Franklin) before Spooner takes the lead vocal on his “Lonely Women Make Good Lovers” (a country hit for Bob Luman in the 70s and then Steve Warriner in the 80s). Spooner’s fragile vocal delivery is listened to by the audience in spellbound silence, ending in tumultuous applause as the last notes fade away.
It’s then back Dan on vocals for “It Tears me Up” and stone cold classic “Dark End of the Street” (“you can never beat a good cheatin’ song” quips Penn). Here’s a link to Dan doing this song on the David Letterman show (with the recently deceased Bobby Emmons on keys):
A version of “You Left The Water Running” leaves Dan Penn slightly dissatisfied “I’d like to have done that a little better, but sometimes you do and sometimes you don’t”
“Out of Left Field” clearly has Penn back on fine form and then it’s the Memphis funk and humour of “Memphis Women and Fried Chicken” with Penn and Oldham trading vocal chicken clucking noises as the song draws to a close.
Here’s a link to the studio version:
Having played almost all of the “Theatre” album, Penn takes a wander through his extensive back catalogue with versions of “Is A Bluebird Bird” (his first hit, written for Conway Twitty, while Penn was still at school) and “Nobody’s Fool” (the title track of his 1973 solo album) – “I don’t think many of you will have got this album” says Penn.
Spooner gets another shot on vocals with “My Goodness” (co-written by Oldham with Donnie Fritts) and the pair close with another stone classic in “Zero Willpower”. There’s no encore, Penn tells the audience “Our knees won’t cope with coming back up and down these steps to the stage” , but it doesn’t matter. The crowd have loved every minute of the show and it’s a delight to see the old troubadours back in the UK again.
If you didn’t catch Dan and Spooner while they were over here, buy the new CD/DCD package to see what you’ve missed.
I’m Your Puppet
Cry Like A baby
Do Right Woman, Do Right Man
I Met Her In Church
Lonely Women Make Good Lovers
It Tears me Up
Dark End of the Street
You Left The Water Running
Out of Left Field
Memphis Women and Fried Chicken
Woman Left Lonely
I’m Living Good
Is A Bluebird Blue
Oh My Goodness
Nine Pound Steel
Take A Good Look
BLAST FROM THE PAST
Here’s the Dan Penn 1965 Muscle Shoals demo version of “I Do” which has recently been released on “Dan Penn: The Fame Recordings” on the ACE label
GIG REVIEW – FLAMIN’ GROOVIES
Undeterred by the absence of any UK dates on the recent European Tour by the reformed Flamin’ Groovies, our LGA gig reviewer Paul Wood dusted off his passport and Beatle boots to catch the last 2 dates of the tour in Italy.
The reformed Groovies feature three members from the classic Jordan/Wilson era line up which were signed to Sire Records/United Artists in the 1970s. Original members Cyril Jordan (guitar/vocals) and George Alexander (bass/vocals) are reunited with Chris Wilson (vocals/guitar), and the rejuvenated trio are joined by long time fan and mighty new drummer, Victor Penalosa.
Your LGA reviewer caught the Groovies in La Spezia and Alessandria.
The La Spezia show was part of the Spazio Boss programme of musical events that takes place between June and August. Also on the programme over the summer are Radio Birdman and King Khan & the Shrines. The Groovies show was an open air set in the gardens on the sea front promenade.
The Alessandria show was billed as the Primavera Beat Festival. The show (again, outdoor) was set in the quadrangle of a former Military Hospital (which looked as though it dated back to the Medieval ages) and the Festival included stalls selling vintage clothing, books and vinyl. The Alessandria show was the last night of the tour with the Groovies heading back to the States early the next morning.
Although Chris Wilson was playing through the pain of a badly swollen hand (which was subsequently found to have a fracture) the band was in fine form throughout and a good number of local Groovies fans were in attendance at both shows.
It took a while at La Spezia for the onstage sound to sort itself out (drummer Victor Penalosa was complaining about the sound in his monitor for the first 4 songs of the set) but the in crowd sound was generally fine given the outdoor setting.
The sound at Alessandria was better from the off and, possibly because the walls of the hospital gave the show more of a contained sound, the vocals were clearer in the mix.
Here’s a link to fan footage of the Groovies minor classic “Between The Lines” from the Alessandria show:
When you think of the Jordan/Wilson era Groovies you sometimes tend to focus on the Beatles/Byrds style guitars and harmonies and forget how hard the band can rock. When the band kicked into what Cyril Jordan described as the “rock’n’roll” part of the set, the band showed they really can rock with the best – “Tallahassee Lassie”. “St Louis Blues”, “She Said Yeah”, “Don’t You Lie To Me” and “Married Woman” (on which George took the lead vocal) got the crowd in both venues to really rock along with the band.
Here’s a link to fan footage of “Tallahassee Lassie” from the Alessandria show:
The Groovies have cut three bona fide rock classics that should be everybody’s collection and these were put together by the band to be the closing numbers and first encores on both dates – “Slow Death”, “Shake Some Action” and then (as an encore) “Teenage Head”.
Here’s a link to fan footage of “Slow Death/Shake Some Action” from the Madrid date on the tour:
The first encores closed with a song described by Chris Wilson as being “the first song Cyril and I ever wrote together” – “Let Me Rock”. It’s another Groovies rock classic – never properly released before by the Groovies (a rehearsal version appeared on Skydog in the 70s). The song has been re-recorded by the current line up to appear on their new album which the band are hoping will be out at the end of 2015/ beginning of 2016.
Alessandria saw the band come back for a second encore – “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and then they were gone – but there was on-stage talk of another US tour and more European dates. Look out for these and catch them if you can.
A brand new track (“End of the World”) has already been put out by the band on the internet as a taster for the new album. Here’s a link:
The main set list for both nights was the same with Alessandria getting the benefit of an additional encore in the shape of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”.
Feel A Whole Lot Better
You Tore Me Down
I Can’t Hide
I Want You Bad
Please Please Girl
St Louis Blues
She Said Yeah
Don’t You Lie To Me
Yes I Am
Married Woman (George on lead vocals)
Between The Lines
Shake Some Action
Encore – 1
Let Me Rock
Encore – 2 (Alessandria only)
Jumpin’ Jack Flash
BLAST FROM THE PAST
Here’s a French TV clip of the Groovies doing “Roll Over Beethoven” from 1972:
GIG REVIEW – STONE FOUNDATION
The month of May saw the return to London of the Midland’s finest band – the mighty Stone Foundation. Camden’s Jazz Cafe was the venue and London Guitar Academy gig reviewer Paul Wood and LGA’s very own James Stratton were there to see one of the buzzing names at the moment.
The Jazz Cafe date was part of a short European tour by the band which included dates in France, Germany and the Czech Republic as well as the UK.
The band treated the sold out crowd to a set which was a mixture of old favourites and new material from the band’s upcoming album “A Life Unlimited” – nine of the ten new tracks get an airing on the night, and they’re all goodies!
Simon Wells did a short opening set, preceded and followed by tunes spun by DJ Robert Elms (BBC London). You can always tell the quality of the DJ by the songs on offer – and anyone who plays a Eddie Hinton track is clearly on the right musical lines as far as I’m concerned.
By the time Stone Foundation appear the place is packed. First off is the one new track that fans may have already heard – “Beverley” – the song/video of which has already appeared as part of the pre-launch for the new album. The song features in a new film of the same name, produced by Cass Pennant and directed by Alexander Thomas. The film is about a mixed-race girl growing up in Leicester in the 2-Tone era. Here’s a link to the official video:
Next up is cruncher from the “To Find The Spirit” album – “Bring Back The Happiness” – the band move up the gears on this one (and a key change), with the horn section (including new man Adam Stevens) demonstrating why the band are currently one of the best live club attractions in the UK. Here’s a link to the official video:
Early favourite “No More The Fool” leads the way into a trio of songs from the new album – “Learning The Hard Way”, “Pushing Your Love” (great use of dynamics in this number and a top class vocal from Neil Jones) and “The Night Teller”.
The crowd then get the title track from last year’s “To Find The Spirit” and another new number (“These Life Stories”) before a rather tasty conga intro from Rob Newton leads into the mid set masterpiece of “Don’t Let The Rain” with its excellent bass line from Neil Sheasby, alto sax solo from Gary Rollins and dramatic vocal call/response interaction between the band and audience.
Long time classic “Tracing Paper” (“this one’s for the dancers” shouts out Neil Jones) is followed by a number (the title of which now escapes me) with a keyboard intro from Ian Arnold on his Nord Electro 3. We then get two other newbies (“A Love Uprising” and “Something In The Light”) before the band close the set with the pure drama of “That’s The Way I Want To Live My Life”. Here’s a link to the official video:
There’s no way the band are leaving the Jazz Cafe without an encore and Neil Jones initially comes back on stage alone to thank the audience and to ask for a little quiet for the first encore. This will be the closing track (Old Partners, New Dances) from the new album and it features just Gareth John on trumpet and Ian Arnold on keyboards. A brave choice to follow the pure adrenalin rush of “Life” with a very atmospheric and quiet piece – but it’s conclusion brings a loud cheer from the crowd. If you haven’t heard it yet, the new number has got the same feel of (say) Springsteen’s “Meeting Across The River” from “Born To Run” – a poignant moment amongst the larger than life stories that sit around it.
The full band is back for second encore “Speak Your Piece” but Neil Jones has ditched the guitar and he testifies across the stage like a man possessed. Drummer Phil Ford keeps it all together like the Mighty Max Weinberg and the band close the night in style. Awesome roars greet the finale. Nobody at the Jazz Cafe is going to forget this concert in a hurry. If the band comes anywhere near your town – go see them.
The new album “A Life Unlimited” is available on pre-sale in various formats with bonus tracks from:
Neil Jones – Vocals/Guitar
Neil Sheasby – Bass
Philip Ford – Drums
Ian Arnold – Keyboard
Gary Rollins, Gareth John, and Adam Stevens– Horn section
Rob Newton – Congas, Percussion.
Bring Back The Happiness
No More The Fool
Learning The Hard Way
Pushing Your Love
The Night Teller
To Find The Spirit
These Life Stories
Don’t Let The Rain
A Love Uprising
Something In The Light
That’s The Way I Want To Life My Life
Old Partners, New Dances
Speak Your Piece
GIG REVIEW – STEVE GIBBONS
Last month saw Birmingham legend Steve Gibbons gigging at the Robin 2 in Bilston and our LGA reviewer, Paul Wood, was there to see the latest incarnation of the Steve Gibbons Band put on a mighty fine show for his Midlands fans.
A four piece band with Steve playing rhythm guitar as well as vocals/harmonica and featuring Howard Gregory on guitar and violin, the show at the Robin showed that Steve (now in his 70s) has lost none of his on stage presence.
With roots tracing back the 60s with bands such as The Ugly, Balls and Idle Race, his successful chart period in the 70s with the Steve Gibbons Band and his more recent involvement in The Dylan Project, Steve Gibbons has a repertoire of songs that could fill a lengthy residency with always changing material.
Like most recent shows by the Steve Gibbons Band the set list was a mix of Gibbons own favourites plus a selection of songs from other artists that Gibbons appreciates – some well known (Bob Dylan, Chuck Berry), others less so (Brendan Croker).
Here’s a good live clip from Sweden last year (with John Casswell on bass, and Howard Smith on drums) with a selection of songs from the current set;
A key feature of any Steve Gibbons show is the long spoken introductions, mid song asides and street cool persona. All of these ingredients are still intact and with fine (fierce and fluid) guitar leads from Howard Gregory, the band put on a good show for the Gibbons devotees in the crowd.
As a reminder, here’s the original album version of “Mr Jones”:
and a 2009 live version of “No Spitting On The Bus”:
A full list of upcoming gigs is featured at http://www.stevegibbonsband.com/ , with the next London date being the Half Moon in Putney on the 9th May.
For more info on The Dylan Project see http://www.dylanproject.co.uk/
Not a full set list but the Robin set included:
Down In The Bunker
No Spitting On The Bus
No Money Down
Blast from the past
Here’s a live clip of the band playing “Tulane” from The Marc Bolan TV show in 1977: