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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:
GIG REVIEW – McALMONT & BUTLER
Back together to promote the 20th anniversary deluxe edition reissue of their 1995 classic album “The Sound of McAlmont & Butler”, David McAlmont and Bernard Butler played a short series of successful UK dates in November. Our LGA gig reviewer, Paul Wood, was on hand to catch the duo and their band (which included a string section) perform an impressive set before a crowd of enthused followers at the Institute in Birmingham.
“The Sound of…” album is probably the highlight so far of the post-Suede career of guitarist Bernard Butler, an intoxicating mix of his trademark guitar sounds and the impressive vocal talents of David McAlmont,
Support was provided by the Magic Numbers (or at least, three of the four members) who started the show with a stripped down pulled from their various albums before proceeding to join David and Bernard as part of their band for the evening. The compliment was returned with McAlmont and Butler lining up with The Magic Numbers for the last number of their own support set.
The set list for McAlmont & Butler was a combination of tracks from “The Sound of…” and their 2002 album “Bring It Back”, including minor hits “Falling” and “Bring It Back” from the later album. Surprise cover of the night was the 80’s soul/pop hit “Zoom”, originally released by Fat Larry’s Band.
Here’s a link to the band’s official website which contains videos of “Falling” and “You Do” plus recent live footage from shows in 2014:
The audience crammed into the slightly smaller Institute 2 hall loved every minute, and their obvious delight from both David and Bernard to the reception they were getting and the music they were creating on stage. The whole show was a treat from start to finish, with charting singles – “Yes” (UK Top 10) and “You Do” (UK Top 20) both saved for the encores.
Here’s a Youtube link to the original promo video for “Yes”:
This was a great show from a band that was clearly enjoying itself, together they put on a performance which left their fans delighted. The guitar work of Butler in particular should be of interest to all LGA students and followers. The reissued deluxe edition of “The Sound of” includes a second disc of unreleased material and a DVD. There’s even talk of a new third album on the back of the current successful tour. Can’t wait to hear it!
BAND LINE UP
David McAlmont – Vocals
Bernard Butler – Guitar
Makoto Sakamoto – Drums
Romeo Stoddart (Magic Numbers) – Bass Guitar
Sean Read – Keyboards, Saxophone
Michelle Stoddart & Angela Gannon (Magic Numbers) – Backing vocals
Strings led by Sally Herbert
- Can We Make It
- Where R U Now
- What’s the Excuse This Time?
- Different Strokes
- How About You?
- The Debitor
- Sunny Boy
- Bring It Back
- Zoom (Fat Larry’s Band cover)
- You’ll Lose a Good Thing
- You Do
BLAST FROM THE PAST
Here’s a Youtube clip of the duo playing “Yes” live on the Jools Holland Later show in their 1995 pomp. Check out the squalling guitar work from Bernard Butler as the song closes out.
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 – 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: