Monday 31 December 2018

Influential Music of 2018

Music has always given me so many hours of inspiration and enjoyment. I have listened to hundreds of albums this year (without exaggeration) and here are the stand-outs.

Why not give them a try for yourself?

Caro Emerald: Acoustic Session
This album was released in 2017, but was toured during 2018, giving it every reason to be included here (the same applies to the next one on the list).

Caro Emerlad's gig at the York Barbican was one of the events of the year; a real show with superb music and the atmosphere of an evening-long party.

Imelda May: Life Love Flesh Blood
I was in the very fortunate position of being able to see Imelda May for the third time earlier this year. She sang through most of Life Love Flesh Blood, which sees her leaving behind the rockabilly roots to present a full set of thoughtful, touching and beautiful songs, which should definitely connect with all listeners on some level. One of the best albums of any year.

Dawn Lanes: Meet Me At The River
The intimate surroundings of The Basement in York gave me the perfect opportunity to spend an evening wrapped up in the music of Dawn Landes. A fabulous singer/songwriter with a really lovely voice, Dawn deserves to be much better-known in the UK.

Christina Aguilera: Liberation
I like music to challenge me; its an essential duty. This diverse album is not exactly easy listening but it is a real 'grower', demanding attention, focus and an open mind. It is no good using this album as background music while doing anything else! In a world seemingly awash with mush, this will make you think.

The Damned: Evil Spirits
Remarkably, The Damned returned to their top form in 2018 with their first album in a decade, backed up by a major tour (one of the gigs of the year). The album is full of excellent songs - Standing on the Edge of Tomorrow, Look Left and Evil Spirits, to name but three - and should act as a real eye-opener for those who have neglected The Damned.

Pistol Annies: Interstate Gospel
The Pistol Annies (Miranda Lambert, Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley) have returned with their third album. Country and Gospel - with a very sharp cutting edge. Miranda Lambert was sensational in concert last year, when I saw her in Hammersmith, and I am hoping this innovative trio will be putting together some UK dates for 2019.

Sounds of the Sirens: For All Our Sins
The vocals of Abbe Martin and Hannah Wood are powerful and the songs are excellent. They are all set to make a big impression in 2019, so now is the time to give their music a try. Pop/folk, for those who must have everything neatly pigeonholed.

Hailey Tuck: Junk
Hailey Tuck! A remarkable talent. Brilliant 'live' (as proved in Middlesbrough earlier this year) and hugely charismatic, Hailey invites you to step back to the 1920s - the era of the Flappers - while keeping one foot in the present. We need more tour dates next time!

Jah Wobble: The Butterfly Effect
Jah has had a very productive year. The current incarnation of The Invaders of the Heart are helping to push the boundaries and their almost constant touring has led to very fruitful studio time.

The Butterfly Effect offers a series of challenging songs and tunes that simply need to be listened to. Yes - of course - Jah goes all the way back to the days of Punk with PiL, but leaving the musical analysis there may be the choice of many, but it is downright lazy. The genres embraced and enhanced by this extraordinary man and The Invaders of the Heart deserve much more attention.

Hollie Cook: Vessel of Love
I found this wonderful album by searching out more material by Jah Wobble, who is present on some of the tracks. 'Tropical Pop', if you like...full of dreamy Reggae, powered by worthy bass. A soundtrack to my Summer, this album will prove uplifting.

Confessin' the Blues - Curated by The Rolling Stones
The Stones know the Blues - and here they are, curating a superb collection of originals (some of which they covered in their time) to offer up two discs brimming with extraordinary music. Get back to the roots!

Lauren Daigle: Look Up Child
Lauren Daigle is going to take 2019 by storm. This extraordinary album is absolutely full of brilliant songs. Lauren's voice has been likened to Adele's and it is easy to see why - at least on first impression. Yet a few more listenings should be more than enough to tune into Lauren's unique personality and inspirational ethos. Go and listen to it and then try telling me the songs don't make you feel something. Fingers crossed for UK tour dates in 2019, as I'm sure it will definitely prove to be one of the gigs of the year.

Best of the Year: 2018

At the end of every year I always end up thinking it has been the best-ever for fabulous gigs.

As the calendar starts to get busy for 2019, it is time to take a backwards glance to pick out the highlights of an excellent 2018.

Some old favourites returned and I was delighted to be able to see numerous superb artists for the very first time, in a variety of venues from massive stadiums to the most intimate of 'small rooms upstairs.'

Here are some of my favourite moments, representing approximately half of the gigs of 2018.

The Skids at the Georgian Theatre, Stockton
Big Country at the Georgian Theatre, Stockton
Rosanne Cash at the Union Chapel, Islington
Bananarama, Edinburgh Castle
Altered Images, Edinburgh Castle
The Rolling Stones, Twickenham Stadium
Sam Lavery at the Georgian Theatre, Stockton
Natalie Imbruglia, 02 Academy, Liverpool
The Damned, 02 Forum, Kentish Town
...with support from Slim Jim Phantom!
Gary Numan - Middlesbrough Empire and then Newcastle City Hall
Sherdian Smith, The Sage, Gateshead
Kim Wilde, York Barbican
UK Subs at the Georgian Theatre, Stockton
Eilen Jewell, Gulliver's (Manchester) and The Lexington (London)
Imelda May, Symphony Hall, Birmingham (with Texas and Ward Thomas)
Shania Twain, Manchester Arena
Jilted John, Middlesbrough Town Hall
Hailey Tuck, Middlesbrough Town Hall
Dawn Landes, The Basement, York
Caro Emerald, Barbican, York
Rachel Harrington, The Old Cinema Launderette, Durham
Sweet at Arc, Stockton
The Cardigans, Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith

2019 has a hard act to follow, but plans are already falling into place!

Monday 26 November 2018

Project 30: Results and Draws for Round Two

Round one has now been completed in both sections. By all accounts, the games in both events were very competitive and enjoyable. Here are the results.

KO Championship
Round 1

Paul Weightman 1-0 Sean Cassidy (after two draws)

Graham Edwards 0-1 Richard Harris

Peter Harker 0-1 Mike Creaney

Rayelynn Posadas 1-0 Kevin Waterman

Mike Pointon 0-1 John Garnett

Brian Whitaker 0-1 David Baillie

Royce Parker 0-1 Sean Marsh

Matt Jackman 1-0 Bye

Rapidplay Match Championship
Round 1

Graham Edwards 0-2 Sean Marsh

Royce Parker 0-2 Mike Pointon

Peter Harker 1.5-0.5 Richard Harris

David Baillie 2-0 John Garnett

Bernie Price 0-2(d) Rayelynn Posadas
Unfortunately, Bernie had to withdraw from the event due to other commitments.

Kevin Waterman 0-2 Mike Creaney

Sean Cassidy 2-0 Paul Weightman

Matt Jackman 2-0 Bye

The draws for the respective second rounds were made by the juniors who recently visited the World Chess Championship

KO Championship
Round 2

Paul Weightman - Sean Marsh

Richard Harris - 
John Garnett

Mike Creaney - Rayelynn Posadas 

David Baillie - 
Matt Jackman

Each of the rounds will feature one game played at the normal time limit (36 moves in 90 minutes followed by an extra 15 minutes on each clock to play to a finish). Colours will be decided immediately before the games in the usual fashion.

Drawn games will require a replay with colours reversed, which can be played at any time limit agreed by both opponents. If both players cannot reach agreement then the aforementioned timings will be used.

Rapidplay Match Championship
Round 2

Rayelynn Posadas - Peter Harker 

Sean Marsh - Sean Cassidy

Mike Pointon - 
David Baillie 

Mike Creaney - Matt Jackman 

This round will feature Rapidplay matches of four games, the semi-final will feature six games and the final will feature eight games, with all of these rounds following the same tiebreak method as the first round (if required).

All games in both events should be completed by the end of February 2019.

Monday 19 November 2018

Gary Numan at the Newcastle City Hall

Gary Numan
Newcastle City Hall
On 5 April 2018 a new tour announcement on Gary Numan's website:

''I’m so happy to be able to announce a string of UK dates in November 2018

The regular band will be joined by The Skaparis Orchestra for 6 exclusive shows taking place in Cardiff, Birmingham, Newcastle, Manchester, London and Glasgow. The shows will feature songs drawn not only from the highly successful ‘Savage’ album, but also key songs from my back catalogue.

I have often felt that my music has had, at times, a filmic quality but, with The Skaparis Orchestra joining us for these six shows, that mix of hard electronic and soaring cinematic atmosphere will finally come fully to life. I can’t tell you how pleased I am to this come together.

In addition I will be showcasing the biggest and most extravagant light show that I’ve taken on the road for over three decades, designed specifically for these special orchestral performances.''

I was fortunate to be able to attend one of the six dates to notch up my fifth Numan gig (York, Liverpool, Brixton, Middlesbrough and now Newcastle.)

Chris Payne - former Numan band member and co-writer of Visage's Fade to Grey, was there as the support act to enhance the electronic feel to the evening.

Numan's light show had to be scaled down for the City Hall but remained spectacular.

It was very clear as soon as he took to the stage that he was very happy and there is no doubting that he is on terrific form. The 'Savage' material is exceptional and the older songs have been revitalised.

The Numan band is tighter than ever, thanks to the extensive touring of the last few years and the Skaparis Orchestra certainly added an extra dimension. The evening flew by at a terrific pace.

Gary Numan is absolutely at the top of his game and I want to see him again as soon as possible.

Set List

Ghost Nation


Bed of Thorns


Everything Comes Down to This

Pray for the Pain You Serve

Down in the Park



Here in the Black

My Name Is Ruin



My Breathing

Are 'Friends' Electric?


This Wreckage

The End of Things

A Prayer for the Unborn

It Will End Here

Here is a gallery of some moments captured from the sensational evening.