Concert Review – Ray Davies and Band – Birmingham Symphony Hall – October 8th 2005

Ray Davies and Band – Birmingham Symphony Hall – October 8th 2005

One of England’s most influential, creative singer-songwriters played to a sell-out audience at Birmingham Symphony Hall when Ray Davies and his three-piece band played a wide selection of songs from Davies’s back catalogue.

The Sixty-something songwriter first came to prominence and renown, when, along with his Brother, Dave he put together the Kinks in the 1960s. In the four decades since this time, he has grown as a songwriter, having a definite and unquestionable influence over bands that followed. While Oasis drew on the Beatles, the Kinks, who were contemporaries in the 1960’s beat boom proved to have a lasting influence over musicians such as Paul Weller, Blur, and Pulp.

Davies started his energetic, nearly three-hour show with a range of new songs, which still had the same energy, and targets as his back catalogue. New songs such as ‘After the Fall’, ‘The Tourist’ and his song about a stand up comic all provided workouts for his young band, providing, complex and shifting patterns that perfectly complimented the barbed and witty comments of their writer.

Early Kinks hits such as ‘Dedicated follower of Fashion’, and ‘Sunny Afternoon’ were turned into an acoustic sing-along, which the mature audience seemed to enjoy. This treatment worked particularly well on a stripped-down version of ‘Days’ which the band joined in for the last verses, adding a majestic strength to the sentiments within the song.

The set ended with ‘All of the Day and All of the Night’ and ‘Lola’ bringing the full hall to full attention, and to its feet.

He encored with classic, high energy versions of ‘Waterloo Sunset’ and ‘You really got me’ which had the audience singing along with every word of these songs that have stood the test of time surprisingly well.

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Concert Review – The Nick Dewhurst Band

Concert Review – The Nick Dewhurst Band

The talented quartet of pianist Daan Temmings, drummer Dave Tandy, bass player Paul Robinson and leader Nick Dewhurst on trumpet and guitar played to an appreciative audience when they appeared at Lichfield’s Cathedral Hotel on Wednesday September 23rd.

Respecting all of the safety measures, of masks, and social distancing, the audience was by necessity a lot smaller than it would have been only a year ago, but the group played well, tackling a series of well chosen standards, and some of Nick’s own compositions.

They started proceedings with Without a Song, the expansive setting of the piano, and sympathetic bass and drums gave Nick a broad canvas to play over. Love for Sale was also well played, with a much more rock based arrangement, owing as much to soul and the blues as it would to jazz. The original Stuck in Spain took inspiration from both Covid 19, and Chick Corea, with some fine piano accompaniment. Nick changed to guitar the standard Misty, a slower ballad with filigree playing throughout.

The second set started with the sonic excursions of Blues for Dave, allowing for some fine soloing from all members,  with Nick sounding like both Jon Scofield and Jeff Beck during his guitar solo. Another original, Fusion Line was also well played, the changing time signature and catchy trumpet parts adding a lot to the sound mix, whilst the near ten minute cover of Herbie Hancock’s Cantaloupe Island took the familiar piece into new sonic territory, with exciting soloing from all of the group members.

Although many music fans will have found the attractions of live streaming during Lockdown, this concert was a reminder of how much difference a live band and an audience makes to the enjoyment of music, albeit socially distanced, and talking through masks.

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Concert Review   Paul Buchannan – Birmingham Symphony Hall – 22nd May 2006

Concert Review

Paul Buchannan – Birmingham Symphony Hall – 22nd May 2006

4.5 out of 5 stars

The songs of one of pop music’s most critically groups were played to an audience of ecstatic fans when Paul Buchannan performed the songs of his band, The Blue Nile at Birmingham’s Symphony Hall.

Support for the evening was provided by up and coming singer-songwriter Hayley Hutchinson, who performed a selection of new songs, the highlights being ‘Somedays’ and ‘Love song for the enemy’. With just vocals and guitar, the songs were stripped down but would have sounded better with the full and richer dynamics that a full backing band could provide.

Paul Buchanan was touring for the first time in ten years, a fact that was alluded to many times, with members of the audience vocally agreeing.

The band have always been critics favourite, known for the perfection of their music, and the warmth and soul of Buchanan’s voice. As he had not toured for a while, the audience was older than is sometimes the case at the gig but no less enthusiastic. The ovation that Buchanan and his band got at the beginning of the concert was a testament to that.

Paul Buchanan himself was in fine form vocally, and musically, and any nerves that he may have felt were quickly ignored, as he grew into the performance as the gig went on. He was even able to make light of how it was him singing on a recent Texas song, but the part being performed in the video by the comedian Peter Kay.

The Blue Nile was always a band of subtlety, of whispering rather than shouting. The performance eschewed all of the regular performances of a rock gig, there were no keyboard or guitar solo, only hushed, precise performances.

All of the songs were warmly received, but songs such as ‘From a Late Night Train’ and one of their best-known songs ‘Tinseltown in the Rain’ receiving the best reactions. The band also made use of new technology, with samples and other musical techniques filling in the sounds on the record. This was particularly noticeable on ‘A Walk Across the Rooftops’ where samples were used to fill out the sounds that the five-man band could not play.

Two new songs were also performed. ‘A day in a Northern town’ will hopefully make it onto his new album.

Songs such as ‘Tinseltown in the Rain’ ‘Saturday Night’ and ‘Heatwave’ received a more robust treatment than they did on the record, with keyboard, drums, bass, and two guitars helping to provide a vibrant and laidback coda to many of the songs.

The band played ‘Headlights on the Parade’ as the last song of their main set, before the group left the stage to a rousing standing ovation. The encore was of the first live performance of ‘The Downtown Lights’ in ten years. The fans knew all of the words, singing along to this little known pop gem. Paul Buchanan said at the end that he will be back. At least he knows that after 10 years, he still has a loyal audience, as quality music tends to.

 

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CD Review – You Reflect Me by Rocketnumbernine

CD Review – You Reflect Me by Rocketnumbernine

When a band is described as being experimental, it sometimes means that they have forgotten to pack the tunes, so you can imagine my trepidation when first listening to this CD.

The duo consists of the brothers Ben and Tom Page, who between them play synthesisers, electronics, drums and percussion. I believe they have more players on stage for live shows, where they perform in front of the visuals of Justin Badhand and are making themselves a good name for their live shows.

Stripped of a visual counterpoint, the music is not as I feared. It is highly rhythmic, and although unlikely to appeal much to people who think Ronan Keating is a musical adventurer, there is much to like and admire here.

From the opener Cretin with its insidious throbbing keyboard sounds, to Doodlebug, which at times sound like a private conversation between a drum kit and a Mobile Phone, to the xylophone sounds that decorate Rene (Forgive me) or the seeming drum duet of Pages, there is something for people who like their Jazz to be brooding, or their brooding music to be Jazz.

For more information about the band, and forthcoming gigs and releases, visit their Myspace page at www.myspace.com/rocketnumbernine

 

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CD Review – Red Hot Chilli Pipers – Bagrock to the Masses   REL Records – 722932 056121

CD Review – Red Hot Chilli Pipers – Bagrock to the Masses

REL Records – 722932 056121

Bagrock to the Masses sees the Red Hot Chilli Pipers fusing highland Bagpipes with several rock instruments in an album that while spirited, does not always work.

The group, which first came to prominence after winning the BBC’s Britain’s Got Talent, have been steadily building a name for themselves with their spirited live shows. However, only one live track, ‘The Hills of Argyle’ is included, but it is a perfect track. The track features the piano playing of Chris Russell, and the guitar of Gregor James, but still leaves plenty of space for the bagpipes of Stuart Cassells, Willie Armstrong and Kevin MacDonald.

Many of the tracks take on famous rock songs, so there are bagpipes and wah-wah guitars duelling on Hendrix’s Voodoo Chile, perhaps one of the most potent wah-wah guitar parts of all time. They also have duelling guitars and bagpipes opening up a medley of Deep Purple’s Smoke on the Water, and Thunderstruck by ACDC.

The tracks where the combination works best is in the slower, mellower pieces, such as Coldplay’s Clocks, or the famous ballad The Dark Island.

Although much of the album works, and it is a brave attempt at injecting something new into some of these old songs, the album falls between two stools. There probably is nothing to entice the hard-core Bagpipe fan, and listeners wanting to hear something new with these songs may well be disappointed. It feels like a gimmick, and I don’t know where the band may go after this.

 

 

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CD Review   Pure by Wired to the Moon  – Cooking Vinyl – 711297 15042

CD Review

Pure by Wired to the Moon  – Cooking Vinyl – 711297 15042

6 out of 10

Pure, the only album released by the duo of Singer Roisin Malone and Multi-instrumentalist Lee Enefer, with support from a moving cast of backing musicians was one of the lost albums from 1997. Its mix of gentle vocals with folkish musical tendencies was never really going to stand up against the arrogance of the Brit-pop movement at the time.

The clear vocals of Malone sound like a cross between Kate Bush, and many folk singers, while Enefer on instruments such as electric and acoustic guitar, harmonica, mandolin, bouzouki and banjo adds a myriad of styles to the mix.

The album of 10 songs contains several genres. There is indie-pop on set opener Hold Me, Indie Rock on No Way Home, Pure which features an acapella opening, is a gentle folk song,  pseudo bluegrass banjo features on Same Old Story, ballads in All the Time and Harry’s Letter and pure pop on Promises, but even this has a country and western lilt to it.

The sentiments of the lyrics are often twee, which shows that the duo was only in the process of growing up in public. The lack of further albums cannot reveal how the group would have developed.

The arrangements are all mature and well played, with the talents of Enefer being particularly to the fore. The use of a tabla on the song Believes also helps to add something new to the mix. The album is rare now but is still available on such sites as Amazon, and it is worth investigation, even if to see what else was happening in the British recording industry which did not involve the Gallagher Brothers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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CD Review   Paperboys – The Road to Ellenside –

CD Review

Paperboys – The Road to Ellenside –

Stompy Discs – EAN – 20638 0440 – 2

7 out of 10

The Canadian band Paperboys mixed elements of Irish Folk, Mexican and Spanish music, as well as more modern forms on their 2006 album to good effect.

The group, which is led by singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Tom Landa plays a spirited fusion of music, mixing banjo’s, tin whistles, and fiddles with instruments more usually found in the soul, such as Hammond Organ, and brass. The instrumental ‘Sheep’s Ass’ is particularly effective in this instance, mixing tin whistles and Saxophone solos together in one song, with a rhythmic bed of drums, percussion, banjo, guitars and bass.

Paperboys mix spirited, energetic instrumentals, such as String of Horses, and the aforementioned Sheep’s Ass with songs such as the U2 like Fall Down with You, Water Dreams, the ballad Comfort and Kind, and Waiting, with its bluegrass banjo, Cajun Accordion, tin whistles, lively percussion and stacked harmony vocals.

The group at times sound like the Pogues, and Van Morrison, with perhaps shades of Counting Crows, but without the melancholia. For fans of high-quality musicianship and good song-writing, this release could find a safe home in their record collection, and it is worth further investigation.

 

 

 

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CD Review – Roaring at the Bear by The Tony Goldsmith Blues Band

CD Review – Roaring at the Bear by The Tony Goldsmith Blues Band

Bluebear Records – 8 out of 10

‘Roaring at the Bear’ is a live document from the four-piece Tony Goldsmith Blues Band. The unusual line up of Pianist Tony Goldsmith, vocalist and guitar player Dave Illingworth, lead guitarist Paul Hartshorn and tenor Saxophonist Ray Colomb add a new dimension to many of the songs. The lack of a conventional rhythm section is made up for with inventive arrangements and jazzy flourishes on sax. At the same time, the acoustic and electric playing of Paul Hartshorn sits perfectly well as a foil to the rhythmic second guitar and accomplished piano and keyboard playing of the band’s leader. Although there are few surprises in the setlist, it is well thought out, and the recording is of seriously high quality, for a mostly acoustic band playing in a live pub setting.  Songs such as ‘Hop, Skip and Jump’, ‘See you later Alligator’ ‘Good Rockin’ Tonight’ and ‘Hedacol Boogie’ are mixed with slower songs, such as ‘Randy Newman’s ‘Guilty’ and the traditional ‘St James Infirmary’ and there is plenty for the blues lover, with such songs as Dr John’s ‘You Lie too Much’, ‘No Rollin’ Blues’ and the album’s one original track, written by Dave Illingworth, ‘I can do it for myself’. All in all, this is a release that the group can be proud of, particularly the musicianship, and the level of engineering, and it would be suitable for all fans the genre.

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CD Review – Poor Boy – Almost Broke

CD Review – Poor Boy – Almost Broke

7 out of 10

The feelgood blues band ‘Poor Boy’ have released a sold set of Blues and Rock covers in  ‘Almost Broke.’

The five-piece is led by the singer and harmonica player Paddy Wells, and also features the guitar players Tim Firth and Gary Whitaker, and the engine room of drummer John Kemp and bassist Frederick Hieber. They invest well-worn blues covers such as ‘You don’t love me’ with a confident swagger, and inventive musical interplay, while the album closer of ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’ is a soulful version, featuring emotive harmonica and guitar in its extended coda.

A funky, complex version of ‘Nickels and Dimes’ gives the rhythm section, and the guitarist something to get their teeth into, while Charlie Musselwhite’s ‘Sundown’ is an unusual choice for the band, but makes perfect sense in this arrangement.

‘Cold shot’ is taken at a slower pace than SRV did, but is once again a worthwhile addition to a lively album that is well worth tracking down, but once again, with the blues, the band are probably best seen live.

For more information, visit: www.myspace.com/poorboyleeds or www.poorboyblues.co.uk

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CD Review   ‘Footprints’ by the Phantom Blues Band

CD Review

‘Footprints’ by the Phantom Blues Band

7 out of 10 – Delta Groove Records – 850021 00119 3

‘Foot-prints’ is the latest album from the Phantom Blues Band, and finds the band playing several standards, as well as their own material,

The album features special guests Jon Cleary on Keyboard, taking time out from working with Bonnie Raitt and his own band The Monster Gentlemen, and blues legend Taj Mahal.

A brass section adds to the spirit of many of these pieces, such as their cover of ‘Look at Granny Run’, and ‘See See Baby’, which features the piano playing of Jon Cleary and the lively vocals and guitar of Johnny Lee Schell.

Several slower pieces help to break up the album, ranging from the minor chords and harmony vocals on ‘Leave Home Girl’ and the ballad ‘Cottage for Sale’. Two tracks,  ‘Fried Chicken’ and ‘My Wife Can’t Cook’ sound like they were a lot of fun to record but are insubstantial. The ballad ‘Your Heartbreaks are over’ is has a similarity to Curtis Mayfield’s ‘People Get Ready’, although it contains a perfect Van Morrison like horn part.

‘When Malindy Sings’ takes on the acoustic blues territory occupied by performers such as Eric Bibb and Keb Mo’ and features a soulful vocal performance from Larry Fulcher and backing vocals from Julie Delgado.

‘A Very Blue day’ features excellent musicianship, but the groove and chord progression is perhaps a bit too close to Herbie Hancox’s ‘Cantaloupe Island’.A similar response can be given to the album closer ‘When the Music Changes’ which borrows a bit too heavily from Paul Simon’s ‘Mother and Child Reunion.

All told, this is a good album, featuring an outstanding performance from all of the players, and there are a pleasing range of styles tackled, but it does not really bring anything new to the table.

 

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