Opening with The Crying Scene he proceeds to mine his rich seam of material, from Aztec Camera classics like Killermont Street, We Could Send Letters, Oblivious, Walk Out To Winter and Pillar To Post to later solo songs like Western Skies and Sun. If there is a consistently better Scottish songwriter I’ve yet to hear him or her. He plays one new song, White Pony, which stands comparison with anything else he plays tonight and admits that he should write more.
He starts the encore acoustically. Taking a request from the audience for On The Avenue he promptly forgets the words but, unfazed, he soldiers on to the end. Then he plays Down The Dip, How Men Are and closes with a band version of Somewhere In My Heart and the sold out crowd go home happy!
11 October – The following night I’m at Sheffield City Hall to see two more classic songwriters, Crosby & Nash. Seasoned campaigners – both have been doing this since the early 60s – they know how to give an audience what they want. Tonight’s song list is primarily material one or both of them wrote or co-wrote whilst in The Byrds, Crosby, Stills, Nash (& Young) or for their solo or duo albums. Many of them are classics. Generally Nash writes the pop songs – Marrakesh Express, Our House and Teach Your Children – and Crosby the “weird shit”– Almost Cut My Hair and Deja Vu. They don’t play a bad song and even the one new song they play, Slice Of Time, meets their high standard. The real highlights for me are What Are Their Names? and Orleans, both from Crosby’s first solo album If I Could only Remember My Name, and possibly my all time favourite song, Guinnevere.
First Set: Eight Miles High, I Used to Be a King, Marrakesh Express, Lay Me Down, Old Soldier, Just A Song Before I Go, Slice Of Time, Don’t Dig Here, Critical Mass, Wind On The Water, Long Time Gone.
Second Set: Simple Man, Guinnevere, Almost Cut My Hair, Our House, In Your Name, They Want It All, What Are Their Names?, Blackbird, Orleans, Cathedral, Broken Bird, Deja Vu, Military Madness, Wooden Ships.
Encore: Teach Your Children.
15 October – I first saw Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes in 1977 when they supported Graham Parker & The Rumour at St George’s Hall in Bradford and then again not long after when they headlined at Leeds University. A nine piece band including a four player horn section, they had been signed by Epic on the coattails of the success of fellow New Jerseyite Bruce Springsteen. That made sense as they were pals and Springsteen wrote songs for them, as did Miami Steve who also produced their first three albums. Those albums, particularly the third Hearts Of Stone, were fantastic. Unlike Springsteen they were much more of a R&B/soul band and although live they were fantastic that, as with so many other bands, didn’t translate into record sales.
So with memories of those two shows I persuaded the GLW to accompany me to Holmfirth to see them again. I really wish I hadn’t bothered! The sound was awful, far too loud and muddy. Unusually for me I left after 40 minutes so it must have been bad. I still think they were great in the 70s so I’ll stick to playing those first three albums in future.
28 October – Bluegrass is a type of country music I love so I’m not going to miss the chance to see one its finest exponents Chatham Co. Line at The Brudenell. I saw them for the first time at the same venue in September 2010 with the GLW and she needs no persuading to accompany me again. Luckily, given the disappointment of Southside Johnny, they’re on top form and she has a great time. They’re not promoting a particular album this time around so they play some songs from earlier in their career that I hadn’t heard live before: Route 23, Gunfight in Durango, Parlour Light. They don’t neglect their more recent songs and play my particular favourite, The Carolinian, which was my introduction to them when I saw their appearance on Later. Here‘s a clip of them playing it. Great songs, performances and funny between song chat – what’s not to like? I can’t recommend them highly enough.