June 2011

July 1, 2011

3 June – The first time I saw Nils Lofgren someone in the audience was stabbed and we all had to wait until the Police had made their enquiries before we could leave.

This show at St George’s Hall, Bradford is less eventful but no less enjoyable.

Nils, a great guitarist, is probably best known as a sideman for Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen but he’s a talented singer and songwriter in his own right. Accompanied by Greg Varlotta on keyboards and percussion he performs a selection of songs from his solo albums as well as selections he recorded with his band Grin. There’s also a smattering of covers: Springsteen’s If I Should Fall Behind and Because The Night, as well as the Carole King & Gerry Goffin classic Going Back. Sadly he performs nothing from The Loner, Nils Sings Neil, his recent album of Neil Young covers.

22 June – It’s 15 years since I first saw Ron Sexsmith, supporting Difford & Tilbrook at Halifax, and every time I see him I wonder why he isn’t more popular. Great songs, fantastic tunes and a unique performing style don’t seem to be enough.

But perhaps things are about to change. He is at the centre of a media squall; a documentary on his career and the recording  of his latest album; Long Player, Late Bloomer has been acclaimed and was shown on BBC4 and his songs have finally attracted the interest of BBC Radio 2. That might explain why Holmfirth Picturedrome is sold out for tonight’s performance.

Ron plays a career spanning set with excellent support from his band, including stalwarts Tim Bovaconti on guitar and Jason Mercer on bass. Particular standouts were current radio favourite Believe It When I See It, Just My Heart Talking and Hard Bargain, chosen as the title for Emmylou Harris’ latest album, along with older material like Gold In Them Hills, Snow Angel and Strawberry Blonde.

The trick now will be to maintain this momentum. If the quality of song writing is what matters then Ron should be O.K.

The opening act was a female singer/songwriter from Liverpool trading under the name Delta Maid. Her country blues went down well and she seems to be picking up some media coverage so she’s one to watch out for.

24 June – My album of 2010, without doubt, was Queen Of Denmark by John Grant. I saw him playing with a band in Sheffield in May 2010, supporting Midlake, and he was excellent. Tonight I’m seeing him at a ‘new to me’ venue, Holy Trinity Church in Leeds. It’s been used as an arts centre and doesn’t have a stage so if you arrive late and can’t get a seat in the central pews then the view is awful. Luckily a friend had saved me a decent spot.

I was unsure how the show would be when I saw just two keyboards at the front but I needn’t have worried. Grant played one keyboard and someone, who was never introduced, played the second resulting in a really full sound and his voice was as magnificent as ever. He played most of his 2010 solo debut, Queen of Denmark, a couple of new tracks and one song from his days in The Czars.

27 June – Back to the St George’s Hall to see Morrissey, one of those people who everyone seems to have an opinion about and it’s always one of two extremes: love or hate. I think Morrissey is a great songwriter and a decent singer and he always seems to have excellent bands. What I’m not so keen on is some of the folk who come to see him: not the fey wallflowers of legend but beer monsters. I’ve said it before, and no doubt will again, why do people pay good money to go out and talk through whatever music is being performed.

It’s hard to believe that Mozzer can’t get a record deal when he has no difficulty selling out concerts in minutes. And record companies wonder why they’re making no money!

There are six Smiths songs in this set as well as a cover of Lou Reed’s Satellite Of Love and two new songs Action Is My Middle Name and People Are The Same Everywhere. Irish Blood, English Heart is cut off after the first verse, after the power to the stage fails. Morrissey and the band walk off stage, whilst technicians arrive to sort out the problem. A short time later Morrissey and the band return to the stage and playing the last two songs of the set

Set list: I Want The One I Can’t Have; You’re The One For Me, Fatty; You Have Killed Me; Shoplifters Of The World Unite; I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris; Ouija Board, Ouija Board; One Day Goodbye Will Be Farewell; There Is A Light That Never Goes Out; Everyday Is Like Sunday; Action Is My Middle Name; People Are The Same Everywhere; Alma Matters; Satellite of Love; Speedway; I Know It’s Over; Meat Is Murder; Irish Blood, English Heart (First Verse only).

Encore: First Of The Gang To Die; This Charming Man.

May 2011

July 1, 2011

4 May – Laura Cantrell is someone who is difficult to categorise, and I don’t like to do that anyway, but if pushed I’d say she was a country singer. I saw her in November 2003 opening for the awesome Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys and, to be honest, I don’t remember much about that 30 minute or so set. I did try to see her during a trip to SXSW in Austin in 2005 but the queue was far too long.

Now she’s touring to support her new album, Kitty Wells’ Dresses, The Songs of The Queen Of Country Music, so I persuade the GLW to make the short trip to Sheffield’s Memorial Hall to see her.

Laura knows how to pick a cover version and, not surprisingly as her new album features nine songs (of ten) made famous by Kitty Wells,  she plays several amongst her own compositions. She opens with Trains & Boats & Planes, the song that first attracted the GLW’s attention. Among the other cover songs she plays are It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels and I Gave My Wedding Dress Away as well as some of her own compositions, such as Not The Trembling Kind, from across her career.

I hope it’s not another 11 years before I see her again.

26 May – Wilko Johnson is a force of nature. I’ve had no desire to see him since he left Dr Feelgood in 1977  as I always felt that somehow I would be disappointed. So I was a little surprised when my mate Stephen told me he’d bought me a ticket to see Wilko at the Leeds Irish Centre with him but I bit the bullet and went along.

Playing as a trio with Norman Watt-Roy on bass and Dylan Howe on drums I have to ask myself why have I denied myself this fantastic entertainment for so long? A mix of classic Wilko penned Feelgood songs: Sneaking Suspicion; Roxette; Back In The Night and She Does It Right, as well as solo tracks such as Dr Dupree and classics like Chuck Berry’s Bye Bye Johnny.

I won’t be depriving myself of this kind of entertainment in the future!