11 November – Raul Malo at The Arts Theatre, Nottingham. Although probably best known as the front man of The Mavericks there has always been more than just country music to Raul as he’s sought to blend it with latin, jazz and rock’n’roll. Tonight he’s performing with the excellent accordionist Michael Guerra. Highlights include Lucky One, Crying Time, Something Stupid and particularly Hot Burrito #1. A lighter note was his introduction to Roy Orbison’s Crying, which featured an Orbison style version of Puff The Magic Dragon.
17 November – Gaslight Anthem at The Leeds O2 Academy. It’s a Wednesday so the show starts promptly as they have to get us all out to start the club night that follows. I miss the support but that’s not unusual these days. A Bruce Springsteen connection and a recommendation from my nephew-in-law (is there such a thing?), Brian first drew my attention to the Gaslight Anthem but having caught it it’s their music that retains it. Their latest CD, American Slang, is a fine recording and is well featured with 8 of its 10 tracks being played tonight. What I particularly like about them, and haven’t seen for a while, is the way they grab the audience and just refuse to let go. For me the standouts, from a 27 song setlist, were Old White Lincoln, Meet Me By The River’s Edge, Great Expectations, The ’59 Sound, new song Goodnight Irene and American Slang. These boys rock in a way few bands do these days. A great night out with Brian, I’m looking forward to seeing them again.
26 November – The Lightning Seeds/Squeeze at Leeds O2 Academy. I’ve said it before, and no doubt will again, but the Leeds Academy is probably my least favourite venue in the country. In addition to the usual non-stop talkers tonight I’m treated to the sight of two jokers relieving themselves in to plastic beer glasses and then just put them on the floor!
The Lightning Seeds are a perfect support band for Squeeze – classic pop songs, such as Life Of Riley and Lucky You get the audience in just the right mood for the headliners.
I’ve seen Squeeze more times than I care to remember and every time they deliver a great show. Their latest CD, Spot The Difference, is a collection of note for note re-recordings of their best known songs, apparently done for copyright reasons. Tonight, as ever, they play those classics but throw in some unexpected gems from their back catalogue. Highlights for me included: having Steve Nieve back on keyboards, starting with Black Coffee In Bed instead of leaving it for the encore, Tempted, Hourglass, Goodbye Girl, Model, Slap And Tickle, It’s So Dirty and Slaughtered, Gutted & Heartbroken.
By the way, if you’re a Squeeze fan it’s worth seeking out a copy of Spot The Difference as the European edition includes a bonus disc recorded live at The Fillmore on their 2010 American tour.
Some more comedy this month too. Chris Addison at the West Yorkshire Playhouse and Dara O’Briain at Leeds Grand Theatre are both very funny, showing why they are so well regarded. Highly recommended.