After a quiet April May has been almost hectic!
3 May – Seeing The Strypes at The Cockpit reminded me of seeing Dr Feelgood for the first time in 1975 at St George’s Hall in Bradford. The live music scene then was a desert of prog rock bands and over sensitive singer/songwriters so the Feelgoods were a welcome shock to the system. I remember thinking that watching them must have been like seeing the Stones give a good shoeing to the Dickie Valentines and Donald Peers of the world in 1963.
But of course we’ve moved on since 1975 and The Strypes bring us up to 1966 and The Yardbirds! They play, in fine style, some R’nB’ standards – I’m A Hog For You Baby; Stormy Monday; You Can’t Judge A Book and I’m A Man – mixed with a smattering of originals such as current single Blue Collar Jane and have the sold out crowd eating out of their hands. And any band that closes with Nick Lowe’s Heart Of The City has to have something going for them.
This very young four piece, from Cavan in Eire, may not be the future of Rock’n’Roll but they may well be its past!
8 May – If there is a better Country singer than Emmylou Harris please point me in her direction. She’s worked with Rodney Crowell, a fine singer and songwriter, on and off since he first joined her Hot Band in 1975 and finally they’ve recorded an album together under their own names, Old Yellow Moon and now they’re touring to support it. It’s a fine collection of songs and they play most of it as well as songs from across their careers, including one of my favourite songs of all time, Till I Gain Control Again. Emmylou continues to pay tribute to her mentor, Gram Parsons, by singing songs written by or associated with him.
Because of its acoustics the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester is a great venue for this type of show. Every instrument counts and you can hear them.
Here’s a Spotify playlist of Emmylou singing songs written by Rodney, and yes it includes Till I Gain Control Again.
9 May –When my friend Stephen suggested going to see OMD at the O2 Academy I must confess I had my doubts. I first saw them at the first Futurama Festival in 1979, when they were still a duo using a tape machine to provide percussion, and then a couple of times after that, lastly at the converted tram shed that was Leeds Queens Hall on an extremely snowy night in 1981 on the Architecture & Morality tour. The reason for my reluctance was that I didn’t want to be disappointed. Thankfully I decided to go and I wasn’t disappointed. Andy McCluskey is probably singing better than ever and with songs as good as Tesla Girls; Souvenir; Joan of Arc; Maid of Orleans; Talking Loud and Clear; Enola Gay and Electricity they can’t go far wrong.
I was still disappointed they didn’t play Red Frame/White Light though.
Support is from John Foxx and The Maths, who play a decent set.
11 May – John Grant made my favourite album of 2010, Queen Of Denmark. He’s now released its follow up Pale Green Ghosts, which is good but not equal to its predecessor, live though the songs sound much better and don’t suffer in comparison. Ably backed by a five piece band he plays his brutally personal songs to an appreciative audience. In contrast to the songs his between song chat is amusing and he told a very funny story, possibly apocryphal, about Ernest Borgnine in introducing the song of the same name. It’s a cliché but he really can sing anything and make it sound great.
17 May – The Mavericks are particular favourites of the GLW so it’s back to the Bridgewater Hall. I think they’re an underrated band, not given credit for their fusing of Country and Latin styles due to the fact they’ve had hit singles. The audience don’t care about that though. A band with this much musical talent and the voice of Raul Malo are not going to go far wrong. Hard to pick standouts from the set but there is a great cover of Springsteen’s All That Heaven Will Allow.
21 May – My concern about going to see Georgie Fame at The Brudenell Social Club was that it would be too ‘jazzy’. Stephen’s persuasive power convinced me to go with him and I’m glad I did! He plays as a trio, with Georgie on Hammond Organ and his sons James and Tristan on guitar and drums, and treats us to a set of songs and some amusing anecdotes about his career and people he has worked with and met, my favourite concerns Hoagy Carmichael. The opener is Green Onions, the song that inspired Fame to buy a Hammond. He plays some of his hits: Get Away, Yeh Yeh and The Ballad of Bonnie And Clyde as well as some soul and blues standards. There’s a Rugby League mention too as Georgie makes two references to former Leeds centre Syd Hynes, famously sent off at Wembley in 1971 against Fame’s home town team, Leigh.
23 May – The Handsome Family are always a delight to see, especially in an intimate venue like the Brudenell. They have a new CD, Wilderness, out and play most of the tracks from it mixed in with some of their ‘ought to be’ classics such as The Bottomless Hole. A treat at their shows is the between song chat and tonight they’re as funny as ever. Always highly recommended.