3 September – At the moment there is no one I’d rather see than Ron Sexsmith so a chance to see him & his band at Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall is not to be missed. Still riding the wave of success following the showing of the Love Shines documentary on BBC4 and radio play on Radio 2 Ron is starting to play bigger venues. The Bridgewater Hall is an excellent place for Ron to play as the acoustics are so good. As ever his band: Tim Bovaconti (guitar), Jason Mercer (bass), David Matheson (keyboards) and the returning Don Kerr (drums) provide a sympathetic support. Tonight’s set list is a well-balanced mix of old favourites including Secret Heart, Believe It When I See It, Lebanon Tennessee, Cheap Hotel and Hard Bargain and songs from Long Player Late Bloomer including Get In Line, Nowadays, Late Bloomer and Love Shines. Tonight’s surprise cover version is Sam Cooke’s Cupid. A fantastic evening’s entertainment.
8 September – My mate Dave keeps going on about Caitlin Rose so when she announces a date at The Brudenell Social Club I decide to go test his judgement, and embarrass him in to coming along. Twenty-four year old Ms Rose is the daughter of two movers and shakers in the Nashville music scene. Luckily for her and us she has the talent as a singer and songwriter to justify the critical acclaim she’s receiving. On this tour she has a four piece band who provide a fine support for her songs. These are written in a classic country style and she sings in the tradition of Country greats such as Loretta Lynn, Kitty Wells and Emmylou Harris. After the show I buy a copy of her EP, Dead Flowers, and I recommend it wholeheartedly, I can’t get the title track, a cover of The Rolling Stones song, out of my head for days and this causes my one regret about the show – that she didn’t play it.
13 September – brings a trip to the O2 Academy in Sheffield to see The Bluetones farewell tour. They’re playing Leeds later in the week but I’m not able to go and I refuse to miss a last chance to see them. The Bluetones are, in my view, the great underrated band of the Britpop era. Every movement in rock has its greats, its underrated and its bandwagon jumpers. For example, Mersey beat had The Beatles, The Searchers and Freddie & The Dreamers. So Britpop had Oasis, The Bluetones and Menswe@r. It’s a shame that somewhere in the shuffle The Bluetones got lost after their outstanding debut, Expecting To Fly.
Tonight they play songs from across their career and five albums. Standouts are Bluetonic, Slight Return, Cut Some Rug, Sleazy Bed Track and Never Going Nowhere. They return for their first encore and play a cover of KC and the Sunshine Band’s Give It Up. The audience had a great night and, while Mark Morriss continue to pursue his solo career, I for one hope they change their minds and play an annual tour but, if not, they leave me with some great memories.
21 September – Richmond Fontaine have taken the brave step of releasing a ‘concept’ album, The High Country, that links songs, spoken pieces and snippets of sound to create a musical novel. It succeeds admirably. Augmented by singer and keyboardist Amy Boone, from Austin band The Damnations, they start by playing the new album in its entirety. Boone’s vocal provides a welcome contrast to Willy Vlautin’s throaty delivery. After a short break they return with a selection from their earlier albums, including Post To Wire a particular favourite of mine. Afterwards I buy Willy’s latest book Lean On Pete. Another excellent night at The Brudenell.
27 September – sees me back at The Brudenell to see Danny & the Champions Of The World finally headline a show. They’re touring in support of their new album Hearts & Arrows and play pretty much all of it. The album is more of a straight ahead rock album, with Danny showing probably more than ever his Springsteen influence, and this show reflects that. This new version of the Champs has some great players in it, none more so than guitarist Tony Poole, formerly of Starry Eyed and Laughing. Stand out songs tonight are Brothers In The Night, Too Tough To Cry, Every Beat Of My Heart and Can’t Hold Back.
The chances are that in six months or so they’ll be the best live band in England so it’s a pity there weren’t more here to see them tonight.