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:
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!
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.
( 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...
( 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...
( 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.
( 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.