November 2010

December 5, 2010

11 November – Raul Malo at The Arts Theatre, Nottingham. Although probably best known as the front man of The Mavericks there has always been more than just country music to Raul as he’s sought to blend it with latin, jazz and rock’n’roll. Tonight he’s performing with the excellent accordionist Michael Guerra. Highlights include Lucky One, Crying Time, Something Stupid and particularly Hot Burrito #1. A lighter note was his introduction to Roy Orbison’s Crying, which featured an Orbison style version of Puff The Magic Dragon.

17 November – Gaslight Anthem at The Leeds O2 Academy. It’s a Wednesday so the show starts promptly as they have to get us all out to start the club night that follows. I miss the support but that’s not unusual these days. A Bruce Springsteen connection and a recommendation from my nephew-in-law (is there such a thing?), Brian first drew my attention to the Gaslight Anthem but having caught it it’s their music that retains it. Their latest CD, American Slang, is a fine recording and is well featured with 8 of its 10 tracks being played tonight. What I particularly like about them, and haven’t seen for a while, is the way they grab the audience and just refuse to let go.  For me the standouts, from a 27 song setlist, were Old White Lincoln, Meet Me By The River’s Edge, Great Expectations, The ’59 Sound, new song Goodnight Irene and American Slang. These boys rock in a way few bands do these days. A great night out with Brian, I’m looking forward to seeing them again.

26 November – The Lightning Seeds/Squeeze at Leeds O2 Academy. I’ve said it before, and no doubt will again, but the Leeds Academy is probably my least favourite venue in the country. In addition to the usual non-stop talkers tonight I’m treated to the sight of two jokers relieving themselves in to plastic beer glasses and then just put them on the floor!

The Lightning Seeds are a perfect support band for Squeeze – classic pop songs, such as Life Of Riley and Lucky You get the audience in just the right mood for the headliners.

I’ve seen Squeeze more times than I care to remember and every time they deliver a great show. Their latest CD, Spot The Difference, is a collection of note for note re-recordings of their best known songs, apparently done for copyright reasons. Tonight, as ever, they play those classics but throw in some unexpected gems from their back catalogue. Highlights for me included: having Steve Nieve back on keyboards, starting with Black Coffee In Bed instead of leaving it for the encore, Tempted, Hourglass, Goodbye Girl, Model, Slap And Tickle, It’s So Dirty and Slaughtered, Gutted & Heartbroken.

By the way, if you’re a Squeeze fan it’s worth seeking out a copy of Spot The Difference as the European edition includes a bonus disc recorded live at The Fillmore on their 2010 American tour.

Some more comedy this month too. Chris Addison at the West Yorkshire Playhouse and Dara O’Briain at Leeds Grand Theatre are both very funny, showing why they are so well regarded. Highly recommended.

Madness – Leeds, 8 December 2009

December 13, 2009

Thirty years on, the Nutty Boys are still going strong!

The crowd in a sold out Academy are ready to skank as Madness appear on stage. Starting with – what a surprise – One Step Beyond, the audience get exactly what they want. Drawing from their back catalogue the problem must be what to leave out. The set list comprises most of the songs you would expect from a group that had 21 top twenty hits between 1979 and 1986, when that actually meant something. I was disappointed that they didn’t play Yesterday’s Men, a particular favourite of mine, but they do a great version of Bread and Breakfast Man from the first album which compensates.

But Madness are not just a nostalgia act, songs from the new album, The Liberty Of Norton Folgate, sit easily alongside the classic material that’s played tonight. Particular standouts are Forever Young and NW5. They finish with a storming version of Night Boat to Cairo, the place goes mental and everyone goes home happy.

It’s 25 years since they last played Leeds, Suggs can’t remember where – The F Club or Tiffanys are his guesses – but let’s hope we don’t have to wait that long again!

Morrissey – Leeds, 29 October 2009

November 1, 2009

MorrisseyThis is The Swords Tour to promote the album of the same name, a collection of B-side from his last three CDs, excluding the live album and the Greatest Hits collection. The set list reflects his preoccupation with his latest work, of his solo material he performs only two songs that pre-date You Are The Quarry, The Loop from World Of Morrissey and Why Don’t You Find Out For Yourself from Vauxhall and I.

The show? Well it was tremendous! It is really well paced and consists almost entirely of up tempo material. Morrissey was in fine voice and seemed to be enjoying himself. His band is first class, particularly guitarist Jesse Tobias. The big surprise is the six Smiths songs he performs; This Charming Man, How Soon Is Now?, Cemetery Gates, Nowhere Fast, Is It Really So Strange? and Death At One’s Elbow. A third of the set list! I think the reason that he is now playing so many Smiths songs is that he finally has a guitarist in his live band who, while not being Johnny Marr, has the ability to play them really well.

The sell out crowd, quite rightly go nuts! The standouts for me? The Smiths material, particularly Cemetery Gates, I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris, Irish Blood, English Heart and a particularly riotous version of First Of The Gang To Die, served up as the encore.

Franz Ferdinand – Leeds, 20 October 2009

October 21, 2009

Franz FerdinandWhen I checked the O2 Academy web site before setting off to the show, in an attempt to find stage times, I noticed that the ‘buy tickets’ button was, surprisingly, still active. When I entered the venue it was packed full!

As a general rule once a band get to their third album, tour set lists tend to favour the early and better known songs. Nothing general about Franz Ferdinand though. The songs played tonight are spread fairly evenly across their three albums with their latest, Tonight, getting its fair share. The highlights, as you might expect, are the singles; Take Me Out, The Dark Of The Matinee, Michael, Do You Want To, Walk Away, Ulysses and No You Girls, but all the material is very strong.

At their best, and tonight they’re very good, Franz Ferdinand manage to mix intelligent rock with pop and then add a funky (for white boys) edge. They remind me in some ways of Talking Heads, particularly around the time of Fear Of Music, and that’s always a good comparison.

The thing that annoys me tonight is the audience, or at least a part of it. I’ll be writing a separate post soon about the O2 Academy and what I think of a number of the people who attend shows there.