Sunday 28 July 2019

Sham 69 at the Georgian Theatre

Sham 69 
The Georgian Theatre, Stockton
20 July 2019
The Georgian Theatre continues to present an extraordinary and diverse range of acts, featuring all genres of music. Their latest offering was a real invitation to don the bovver boots and 'unite the kids'. Sham 69! Who would have thought they would ever come to one of Stockton's most intimate of venues.

This could almost be called the 'class of '77' version: Jimmy Pursey on vocals, Dave Parsons on guitar and Dave Tregunna on bass with Robin Guy on drums (a relative newcomer, having joined in 2012). There is another version of Sham 69 still also on active duty, fronted by Tim V, but I am, sure the majority of people would favour the full Pursey experience.

This gig had be rearranged from its originally scheduled date in March, which is why I had a particularly busy weekend and had to dash back from Gateshead to be in time for this one.

No Thrills
No Thrills set the scene nicely with a loud and energetic performance. The hall then filled up in anticipation of Sham 69's appearance.

Pursey was the last one down to the stage; stooping in front of the drums, back to the audience, he beat his hands upon and down in time with the drumming before finally turning around to be greeted by a loud cheer from the audience.

They tore through the set at great speed, whipping up the crowd to a frenzy of punk energy. The central core of the crowd side exactly what one would expect, surging backwards and forwards and displacing everything and everyone one in their way with their tidal - and tribal - energy. A couple of people climbed onto people's shoulders but they were quickly brought down by the security staff. It was the wildest crowd I had seen at the Georgian Theatre since the night of The Skids. No real menace; no actual violence; just a few overenthusiastic local yokels making sure they had a good night.

Sham 69 were on great form but they missed several songs from the set list and - to the surprise of everyone - the show was all done and dusted by 10.30 p.m. The set had lasted a little under an hour, which seemed a shade on the short side.

Nevertheless, the gallery will hopefully convey a little of the energy Sham 69 brought to the evening.

2019 is shaping up to be a good year for punk and this was worthy follow-up to my recent Bikini Kill experience in Brixton - and the year is definitely not done with punk yet, believe me.




Summertyne Americana Festival 2019 (3): 'A Band on Ship!'

Rachel Harrington
Massy Ferguson
Summertyne River Cruise
21 July 2019
From Americana to punk and back again...and this time a river cruise was added to the equation.

This was another first for me; I had seen the Summertyne cruises advertised in previous years but they had always either clashed with other headliners I had wanted to see or sold out too quickly. Indeed, this year's had sold out when I first looked but the status changed as the event drew nearer.
It was great to have the opportunity to see Rachel Harrington again, less than 24 hours after the previous occasion. Seattle band Massy Ferguson were on board too. They were new to me and I was looking forward to an introduction to their music.

With my ears still ringing thanks to Sham 69 the night before, we set sail along the Tyne and I took to the top deck with a fine cup of tea.
No sooner had I finished when I heard a familiar singing voice; Rachel had started, without any our form of announcement! (This is the only improvement I could suggest for river cruises of future years). Time to swiftly head below deck, where I was able to catch the remainder of Little Pink and then to settle properly for the rest of the set. There was not a lot of space; it was an 'up close and personal' gig (I think the music was eventually piped throughout the boat) and very enjoyable to was too.
Rachel played for around 50 minutes and there was hardly a gap at all before Massy Ferguson came on to play a very interesting and engaging set which I liked very much.

They even did some sightseeing while playing.

I was about to take another cup of tea to the top deck and watch the world go by, thinking the musical entertainment had concluded, but - no! Rachel returned almost immediately with another killer set of songs and then it was straight back to Massy Ferguson, who played almost until the very moment we arrived back at the Gateshead Quayside.

Three hours of non-stop entertainment! The river cruise was certainly excellent value for money and proved to be a fitting finale to my frantic weekend. Everyone was in a good mood, nobody was talking over the songs (we'd have thrown them overboard if they had). All in all, it was a perfect start to the Summer.

Summertyne Americana Festival 2019 (2): Rachel's Summertyne Return

Rachel Harrington
The Local Honeys
The Sage, Gateshead
20 July 2019
It had been a couple of years since I last attended the Summertyne Americana Festival, for no other reason than calendar clashes. The last person I saw there was, I believe, Imelda May (the first of my four times seeing her) and that was a very special evening indeed. Prior to that, I had been a regular attender since 2009.

I had a calendar clash this year too, but adapted my plans when I found out Rachel Harrington was going to be back for Summertyne, for the first time since 2010.

The weather brought a hot weekend, with a couple of sudden downpours (as already mentioned, here.)

Sage 2 its where the action started, with Rachel appearing as part of a double will with The Local Honeys.

Rachel's return coincided with the release of her new album, Hush the Wild Horses.

It has been seven years since the release of Rachel Harrington and The Knock Outs for which one of the supporting tour dates was, of course, an especially memorable evening here on Teesside.

I had only heard small snippets of the new material before Summertyne as I wanted first to experience the songs 'live' for maximum effect. Love and memories have informed the new songs and  horses gallop majestically through the music too, neatly bookending the new album, from the opening Hush the Wild Horses through to the concluding If Wishes Were Horses. It was so good to hear the new songs for the first time and we even had a slice of audience participation sing-a-long for Drop Zone. It left me wanting to hear more and fortunately I was able to indulge further the very next morning. (Incidentally, for further details of Rachel and her music it would make sense to head for the Marsh Towers Rachel Harrington index.)

Meanwhile, back to Sage 2, and The Local Honeys (about whom I knew nothing prior to the event) were on next and they treated us to a fabulous and hugely enjoyable set, during which several things became very apparent. They have great stage presence, excellent humour, are very proud of Kentucky and have a whole set of songs that entertain, instruct and educate in equal measure.

It all added up to an excellent double bill but there was no time to savour any more of the Saturday line-up as I had to dash back to Stockton for an evening gig...

Meanwhile, here are photographs from Rachel's fist Summertyne to the most recent.


Summertyne Americana Festival 2019 (1): A Bridge Too Far

It certainly wasn’t my intention to start the Summertyne Americana Festival smelling of kittiwake droppings, but that’s just the way it goes sometimes.

There now follows a cautionary tale for all those in the area.

On my way to The Sage I decided to seek shelter from a sudden deluge of rain and chose the underneath of the Tyne Bridge for the purpose.

Unfortunately, the intense rain dislodged some of the aforementioned droppings, converting them to a fine spray, after which gravity forced it all downwards, as is its wont.

Once I discovered the problem I had to walk into the deluge to clear it all off again.

Fortunately, upon arrival at The Sage, my excellent friend and top music aficionado, Helen Mitchell, kindly delved into her voluminous bag and brought out two sprays, which masked any lingering...doubts about the situation, at considerable cost to the ozone layer.

Tread warily, dear readers, and stay a-wake to the feathery hazard.

Thursday 18 July 2019

Kylie Minogue at Edinburgh Castle

Kylie Minogue
Edinburgh Castle
15 July 2019
Well, what else is there to say about Kylie Minogue...? After all these years she is still entertaining her old fans while continually attracting more.

Rave reviews continue to follow her shows.After wowing everyone at Glastonbury it was soon time bring the tour to Edinburgh Castle for two sold-out nights of pure pop and I was there for the second evening.

It was almost exactly one year since my first concert at the castle, which was the middle of my three Bananarama gigs (and one of the very last before Siobhan made it one banana less again, to resurrect Shakespeare's Sister about which more later in the year).

One of the many fabulous aspects about a gig at the castle is the way in which the scenario changes as the sun goes down. The growing darkness of the night sky shows up the flaming torches around the outside of the castle.

Everyone was in a good mood for this one and even when the row of east immediately in front of me collapsed, taking the people with it and leaving behind a welter of trapped coats, temporarily lost phones and stray hot dogs, it didn't take very long at all for everyone to be relocated and smiling again.

Local girl Nina Nesbitt opened the show and did a very good job.

Kylie's tour is based around the release of Step Back in Time: The Definitive Collection, which spans her 30-year career of top hits and she certainly went through the card. All the favourites were present and correct as she crammed 22 songs into the set just before the castle curfew of 10.30 a.m.

There were plenty of fast costumes changes, dancers, colour and routines. Nothing deep, obviously; this was as pop as it gets, all catchy tunes and happy people. A fine evening's entertainment, and no mistake.