Sunday, 19 February 2017

Mega 2016 Catch-Up ( Gigs ) Part Three - Bruce Springsteen and various others


To prevent these 2016 catch-up posts spreading into 2018, I'm going to quickly run through some memorable gigs from last year. First up is my second visit to the Ricoh Arena in Coventry to see the mighty Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band on their River Tour, 03/06. ( Photo above courtesy of Backstreets.com )
After major traffic problems on the M5 I got to the gig extremely late ( after also dropping Sarah off at a hotel in Coventry )  -  meaning I'd missed 11 songs (!) including two of my absolute faves, Sherry Darling and Hungry Heart. In fact, I could hear Bruce playing Out In The Street when I was Out In The Car Park  -  not good. When I finally got into the arena he was bashing out some good ol' River rockers in Crush On You and You Can Look ( But You Better Not Touch ) which got me in the party spirit. Although maybe not the best performance I've seen from the E Street Band, there were still plenty of gems: a vicious Murder Incorporated, a spine-tingling take on The River, a beautiful Drive All Night ( the first time I've heard this live and miles better than the recorded version ) and a rip-roaring cover of Creedence's Travelin' Band being highlights. After some old favourites ( Badlands, Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out, a full-band Born In The USA and, of course, Born To Run ) the set finished with a wild, exuberant cover of Shout and a lovely solo-Bruce encore of the majestic Thunder Road to send us home with a warm glow. And here's a photo of my view of the stage. showing just how far back I was after arriving so late:
By complete contrast, the week before going to this 50,000 capacity venue, I'd gone to see the wonderful Slow Club at the Lantern in Bristol with my good friend Tom alongside only a couple of hundred other punters. The Lantern is a small venue within the Colston Hall and is ideal for more intimate gigs. And this certainly was intimate as the core duo of Slow Club, Rebecca and Charles, had dispensed with their touring band and were giving a very stripped-down performance. Playing songs from their new album, One Day All Of This Won't Matter Any More ( clunky title! ), plus some more familiar tunes, the low-key format meant we could focus more on the words and their beautiful singing voices. It really was a treat to hear these two sing live again and to enjoy their warm, onstage banter with each other and the audience. Great gig, great company.
Of course, I've recently posted about my trip to beautiful Amsterdam to see the Dandy Warhols last May. Two weeks after that they were again playing in Bristol, so I couldn't resist the chance to see them at a more local gig :-)
Glenn and I carried on our sordid mission to stalk the band, but this time dragged along Sarah and Glenn's partner Beki as well. It was another cracking gig from Portland's finest, maybe not quite as special as the one in Amsterdam, but good fun none the less. They played all the usual faves, including probably the best version of Good Morning I've yet seen from them, absolutely haunting. And we yet again met some of the band after the gig  -  this time the terminally cool but friendly Courtney ( vocals ) and the ever-smiling Brent ( drums / vocals ) who were hanging out in the Hatchet pub, just over the road from the venue. Dandy's Rule OK!
Moving on to August, Sarah and I went to Gloucester's Sport Beat 2017 festival. This strange combination of music and sport ( the clue's in the title! ) has been running for a few years but we've always somehow missed it before. I was determined to go this time because the lineup seemed very cool in an '80s / '90s revival kind of way. Even though it was bloody cold and wet, hundreds of people turned out with the intention of partying to some bangin' choons ( as I believe they're called ) on a muddy sports field. After some fine modern pop-Metal from the up-and-coming Coasts we were treated to the spectacle of the masked DJ known as Jaguar Skills mashing up dance classics and retro TV theme tunes, whilst spraying the crowd with confetti  -  loads of fun... with added Chuck Norris!
After all this technicolor lunacy the focus shifted to stately Gothic blisspop as the legendary
Echo & The Bunnymen took to the stage in a fog of dry-ice. Although I've never been that familiar with the Bunnymen beyond their big hits I've always wanted to see them play live and they certainly didn't disappoint. Not the most dynamic of live bands, they make up for this with a wonderfully all-encompassing sound and the stratospheric personality and still-solid voice of Ian McCulloch. It was fantastic to hear such Goth classics as The Killing Moon, Seven Seas and The Back Of Love washing over the crowd. And the highlight of the set for me was an absolutely jaw-dropping version of The Cutter  - proper shivers down the spine! I'll definitely have to see them again.
We moved from Liverpool to Madchester for the headline act as the irrepressible Happy Mondays came out to mess with our heads. The 24 Hour Party People may only party for 23 1/2 hours these days and then head home for their cocoa and slippers but they put on a hell of a show for the muddy Gloucester audience. Shaun, Rowetta and Bez were on fine form  -  bickering, dancing, singing and rapping like some strange, E-flavoured sitcom  -  while pulling out classic tune after classic tune. Hallelujah, Kinky Afro, God's Cop, Loose Fit and, of course, the mighty Step On had the crowd up and dancing... "mad fer it" in fact. A delirious ending to a mostly great day.
I was sad to hear that one of my favourite bands of recent years, The Sunshine Underground, were calling it quits so I made sure that I caught them on their farewell tour last October. On a boat...
This was Bristol's famous floating venue, the Thekla. I can't believe I'd never been there before so it was high tide... sorry, "time" that I got on board. And it's a really cool place too. Sarah and I had seen TSU a few years ago at the Gloucester Guildhall and loved them so it was good to see them for one last time. Their euphoric dance-pop was just as exciting and invigorating as before and I can't believe they want to split up. There was certainly no feeling of these gigs being any kind of wake as the band put 100 % into the show and their brilliant songs had everyone dancing, with Finally We Arrive, Don't Stop and Something's Gonna Happen being the stand outs. Without a doubt one of the best gigs we've been to in recent years and quite bittersweet when it was over  -  let's hope for a reunion!
I can't finish this series of posts without a mention or two for our favourite venue, Gloucester's fabulous Guildhall. I saw some great gigs there last year, starting with The Beat ( bloody fantastic as always ) last February. Unfortunately I don't have any photos of that one  -  I was too busy dancing to the red hot ska sound! However, I do have some pics of the following:
From The Jam
( June ) Yet another stop-over in Gloucester for FTJ  -  they seem to be constantly touring! A cracking set of Punk-Mod tuneage as ever. I dragged Sarah along to this one and she enjoyed her first brush with the Setting Sons...
The Damned
( August ) I was really in two minds about this one as I've been put off The Damned by a few lacklustre performances in recent years, as well as Captain Sensible's sour-grapes mutterings about the Pistols and the Clash, and some appalling treatment of support bands that I've heard about, and of fans that I've witnessed. Anyway, as they were celebrating their 40th (!) anniversary, I thought I'd give them one last go. And I'm glad I did because it was a great gig! They were very tight and energetic, had lots of banter with the crowd and played a fine selection of classic songs  -  including the groovy Disco Man, which compelled me to leave my mate Caz behind ( sorry Caz! ) and head down the front to get crushed. As I say, a great gig, but I'm probably going to part ways with the Damned now and let them go out on a high...
Dodgy
( November ) Another blast from the Britpop past! Dodgy were one of those second-tier '90s bands that I somehow never caught at the time. So, when they rocked up at the Guildhall I thought "Why the hell not?" And so did Sarah, Glenn and Cliff who came along too for some sparkling, Who-influenced, muscular pop. A very enjoyable set, a bit slow to start but they eventually pulled out some crowd-pleasing anthems like In A Room, Staying out For The Summer and Good Enough  -  with the title track from their new album, What Are We Fighting For, boding well for the future too.
Ash
( December ) Great to see one of my all-time fave live bands back at my fave venue! That's a lot of faves! This gig had been rescheduled from back in June (!) so it had been much anticipated. Ash never disappoint and the set was a perfect mixture of old faves ( there's that word again! ) and material from their last album Kablammo! In fact, a lot of their new songs ( like Let's Ride, Cocoon and the beautiful Free ) stand tall in the company of classics like Kung Fu or Girl From Mars. The band played with their customary good humour and exuberance ( and volume! ) and finished with a note-perfect version of The Undertones' classic Teenage Kicks  -  a lovely tribute from one great Northern Irish band to another.

4 comments:

John Pitt said...

One heckuva line-up there, Simon!
Whilst watching "Brucie" night on BBC4 last week, I had to think that he is a prime candidate for a heart attack ( Heaven forbid! ), as he puts SO much into every single performance. He plays every single gig as if it were the most important of his life and he always has done! It looks exhausting!
From The Jam - is that Bruce Foxton's lot? ( as Rick Butler's lot used to be called The Gift ).

cerebus660 said...

John, I have to agree with you about Bruce - I've never seen another performer put so much into each gig. ( Probably the closest would be Joe Strummer, who I saw late in his career / life with his band the Mescaleros, and also Geno Washington, classic soul singer. ) It may be sacrilegious but I sometimes wish Bruce would slow down a little and concentrate more on the singing...

From The Jam are indeed Bruce Foxton's band, and I believe Rick Buckler drummed for them in an earlier line-up. They're well worth seeing if you get the chance - they play a great set of Jam songs, mixed in with Foxton's new stuff. I've seen them 4 or 5 times and they are always great fun. I actually met them back stage a couple of years ago and they were very welcoming to a bunch of middle-aged fanboys :-)

Paul McScotty Muir said...

Wonderful selection of gigs Simon taking in some of my favourite bands. We saw Bruce in Glasgow (Hampden Park) on a beautiful summers day it was one of the best gigs I have been to, and the trip in to the concert, parking and the trip home were really well marshalled (took no time at all - not the norm). As John says it really is breath taking the energy he puts into his performances even his interaction with the audience it a joy to behold - and a brilliant band (that saxophonist was out of this world) Bruce is a top bloke. Echo & The Bunnymen are one of my all time favourites I have probably seen them more than any other band (though not for a while) they always do a great set well. One of my best gig experiences last year was seeing a Bowie tribute act at the Ferry in Glasgow, as a massive Bowie fan I was a bit apprehensive but they were really good.

cerebus660 said...

Hi Paul. The E Street Band are still, in my opinion, one of the finest live bands in the world. Jake Clemons, the sax player, is indeed wonderful and a worthy successor to his late, great uncle, the Big Man, Clarence Clemons. I was glad to finally see The Bunnymen and hopefully I'll see them again - I suspect they're the kind of band who suit an indoor gig better than a muddy field :-)

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