Thursday 29 December 2016

Best of the Year

Here are the most memorable gigs I have seen over the course of the last 12 months.

It was a busy year. Some old favourites returned alongside some faces from the past I never thought I would ever see. Elsewhere, new musical adventures opened up. There was also an emotional farewell gig by Bridie Jackson and The Arbour and the final gig of 2016 - a great Quo rock-out to end the year in style.

Patty Griffin, The Sage (Gateshead), 15.1.2016
ELO, Metro Radio Arena (Newcastle), 14.4.2016
The Dixie Chicks, Manchester Arena, 30.4.2016
Bonnie Raitt, The Sage (Gateshead), 27.5.2016
PiL, Indigo 02 (London), 4.6.2016
Frazey Ford, Barbican (London), 5.6.2016
Cyndi Lauper, Newcastle City Hall, 25.6.2016
Jah Wobble and The Invaders of the Heart, Rich Mix, Bethnal Green, 14.7.2016
Imelda May, The Sage (Gateshead), 23.7.2016
Bridie Jackson and The Arbour, The Cluny (Newcastle), 3.9.2016
Songs of Separation, King's Place (London), 9.9.2016
Patty Griffin, Cadogan Hall (London), 10.9.2016
Roy Wood, Billingham Forum, 8.10.2016
Heaven 17, The Sage (Gateshead), 24.10.2016
ABC, Sheffield City Hall, 29.10.2016
Eliza Carthy and The Wayward Band, Whitby Pavilion, 20.11.2016
Human League, Newcastle City Hall, 4.12.2016
Status Quo, Manchester Arena, 19.12.2016
What will 2017 have in store for me...?

Monday 5 December 2016

The Human League at Newcastle City Hall

The Human League
Newcastle City Hall

The Human League returned to the North East to thrill a sold-out Newcastle City Hall last night.

I saw them at the City Hall almost exactly two years ago but the view from the balcony was very poor, with half of the stage completely obscured. As The Human League show relies heavily on the visual aspect, that 2014 evening had its disappointments.

Lesson learned, a stalls seat was secured for this performance.

The hall was packed out and the audience was warm and responsive, with people on their feet clapping, singing and dancing almost from the very start.

The show started with a very loud jumping bass line, which served the delightful purpose of almost completely stopping the localised audience chatter (although some still sought to rise above it). The light show started as the band swung into action. Then Phil Oakley, unusual hairstyle long gone, strode cooly onto the stage, dressed in serious black (as opposed to the bright white sported back in 2014) and broke into Being Boiled with it's famous opening line of 'Listen to the voice of Buddha...' 

At the end of the song, Phil was joined by Joanne Catherall and Susan Ann Sulley, the singing and dancing pair famously recruited as schoolgirls in a Sheffield nightclub back in the very early 1980s. They danced - and occasionally sang - their way through the evening, making a very strong connection with the audience.

The visuals were stunning, shifting the ambience accordingly for each of the songs.

The set list brought a rare outing for some songs but retained all of the obvious crowd-pleasers.

Set List

Being Boiled
The Sound of the Crowd
Heart Like a Wheel
Filling Up With Heaven
Open Your Heart
Soundtrack to a Generation
The Lebanon
One Man in My Heart
Stay With Me Tonight
Love Action (I Believe in Love)
Tell Me When
(Keep Feeling) Fascination
Mirror Man
Don’t You Want Me

Susan and Joanne returned for the second of the encore songs, wearing slightly less than they did earlier.


The Things That Dreams Are Made Of
Together in Electric Dreams

It was an excellent and thoroughly entertaining show, acting as a counterpoint to the equally enjoyable Heaven 17 gig at the end of October, just up the road at The Sage.

We conclude with a gallery showing moments from a very entertaining evening.

Thursday 1 December 2016

Glenn Tilbrook's Arc Return

Glenn Tilbrook
The Arc, Stockton-on-Tees
Glenn Tilbrook made a welcome return to Teesside when he rocked The Arc last weekend.

He last appeared on Teesside back in 2014 and his most recent Arc appearance was in 2013.

He pleased the substantial crowd (not quite a sell-out) with a number of the expected Squeeze songs, including Black Coffee in BedTempted, Labelled With LoveTake Me I'm YoursSlap and Tickle.

He then showed an extended repertoire with a few popular covers, including Friday on My Mind and Tired of Waiting.

There was also room for songs from the underated The Cooperative album (a collabation with Nine Below Zero).

One of the evening's highlights came when Glenn issued the Difford Challenge. The challenge comes in the form of 'I'll play Cool for Cats if someone will come up and sing it.' The song isn't suited to Glenn's voice but he is often asked to play it.

'Phil' volunteered for action and proceeded to bring the house down with an extraordinarily confident performance that had the audience singing along the Cool for Cats line in between the verses. It is the third time I have seen the Difford Challenge issued and the first time I have seen it accepted. it is unlikely to ever be bettered.

Switching from acoustic to electric for the final few songs was a good plan as it ensured the show went out on a high.


The tour rolls on. Catch him while you can...

Friday 2nd Dec Berits and Brown, Coatbridge, Eurocentral

Sat 3rd Dec Hospitalfield House, Arbroath

Mon 5th Dec Heart of Hawick, Hawick

Tue 6th Dec The Brudenell, Leeds

Wed 7th Dec Foxlowe Arts Centre, Leek

Fri 9th Dec St Johns Church, Farncombe

Sat 10th Dec Windlesham Club, Windlesham

Sun 11th Dec The Halls, Blackheath

Mon 12th Dec Norwich Arts Centre, Norwich

Tue 13th Dec Apex, Bury St Edmunds

Thu 15th Dec Union Chapel, London

Fri 16th Dec The Phoenix, Exeter

Sat 17th Dec Cheese & Grain, Frome

Sun 18th Dec The Globe, Cardiff