Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott – Leeds Arena, 19 March 2016

March 28, 2016

Heaton & AbbottAfter 31 years of releasing records, many of them hits or fan favourites, it must be difficult putting together a set list. If you’re Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott, wanting to persuade the concert goer who only knows The Beautiful South or, at the older end of the demographic The Housemartins, to listen to the two excellent albums you’ve released since getting together as a duo in 2013 it must be even harder.

Tonight only a quarter of the setlist is from the period after The Beautiful South – one song from What Have We Become, eight from Wisdom, Laughter And Lines and nothing at all from Heaton’s three solo albums. I think that’s a shame because that means not hearing a lot of good songs.

Having said that the audience are treated to some lesser known Housemartin and Beautiful South tracks – Heaton says he hasn’t played Anxious for 29 years!

A great show then, excellent songs played by a first class band, what more could you want?

Support is from Trudy, a young three piece who have clearly never played to an audience of this size before. They hold their own and the tracks on their Soundcloud page are worth a listen.

Setlist: Wives 1, 2 & 3; Pretenders to the Throne; (Man Is) The Biggest Bitch of All; Have Fun; The Horse And Groom; Five Get Over Excited; Prettiest Eyes; Sundial In the Shade; The Queen of Soho; Old Red Eyes Is Back; I Don’t See Them; Anxious; Rotterdam (Or Anywhere); I’ll Sail This Ship Alone; The Austerity of Love; Good as Gold (Stupid as Mud): D.I.Y.; Happy Hour; Perfect 10; Caravan of Love.
Encore: A Little Time; Don’t Marry Her.
Encore 2: Heatongrad; You Keep It All In.


Blood River by Tim Butcher

March 27, 2016

Blood RiverBlood River tells the story of Tim Butcher’s attempt to recreate the journey of the Victorian explorer Henry Stanley to track the Congo river from Lake Tanganyika to the Atlantic.

While it is an excellent travel book, a genre I don’t generally read, it is much more than that. He examines the history of Belgian colonisation and relates it to the current inability of the post independence Congolese to create a functioning and cohesive state.

The casual violence and endemic corruption are genuinely shocking.

This book is an essential read for anyone interested in the legacy of colonialism and is highly recommended.

I really like Laura Nyro …

March 6, 2016

… a classic example of an artist who is loved by critics but doesn’t have a great deal of commercial success.

Although she never achieved a U.S. top 50 single, her highest position being No. 92, her songs were hits for other artists, particularly The 5th Dimension, Three Dog Night and Barbra Streisand. Despite releasing nine studio and three live albums in her lifetime she only had one Top 40 album, New York Tendaberry. A particular favourite album of mine is Gonna Take A Miracle, a collection of covers recorded with Labelle.

Laura died from ovarian cancer, aged 49, in 1997.

Here’s a Spotify playlist of some of Nyro’s song covered by other artists, finishing with her cover of It’s Gonna Take A Miracle, originally recorded by The Royalettes.

Let’s Try Again

March 1, 2016

Let's Try AgainWhen I started writing this blog it was intended to be about anything that interested me. Somehow it became about reviews of live music shows. What had happened to the other things I’m interested in?

Where was the sport? Just one piece about the 2009 RL 4 Nations.

And the other things – film, books politics, and TV? It never happened.

Then I stopped. This happened for two main reasons: firstly, I thought no one was reading it; secondly, it had felt like a chore.

Recently I’ve been asked when I’m going to start again so someone must have been reading. I’m going to give it another go, and this time I will write about those other things. Let me know what you think.