Brian Wilson presents Pet Sounds @ Times Square, Newcastle

A special evening listening to a classic album performed in full

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When it comes to writing these reviews / blogs I usually write them chronologically from the start of the event to the end.  With this one it seems only fitting that I start with the great man himself…

Brian Wilson

We booked tickets for this event as soon as they went on sale.  Ste & I had seen Brian Wilson at Glastonbury in 2005, which was a gorgeous performance in the Sunday afternoon sunshine.  This was a different prospect 12 years later.  Brian is 75 years old and it would be fair to say that his health isn’t what it once was.  To come out on a world tour is nothing short of amazing and it brings some context to the performance.  The Beach Boys always shared lead vocals amongst the group and this performance was no exception.  The band that Brian Wilson surrounded himself with were nothing short of awesome.  They brought all of the tunes to life with an array of instruments and vocals.  It was great to see Al Jardine on stage with Brian, but it was his son, Matt, who stole the show for me.  Every time he took over vocal duties it sounded amazing.  Brian’s voice isn’t what it once was, but for every slight disappointment (Don’t Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder)’s spoken word chorus) there was a delight (God Only Knows was very touching).

Pet Sounds is my favourite Beach Boys album (& in my top 50 albums) and Good Vibrations is one of my favourite ever songs.  This was an opportunity not to be missed.  I’m not the biggest fan of listening to lots of surf songs in a row, but all have their moments.  I never thought of myself as a band of Help Me, Rhonda, but that was honestly my highlight of the night.  The whole of Times Square seemed involved when that was played and I wouldn’t have minded if they’s extended it for repeat play.  Good Vibrations seemed oddly wanting, but there was a bit of a crowd distraction at that point (see later).

I’m almost certain I’ll never see Brian Wilson live again.  I don’t need to.  This was a special night with a man whose genius will live on through this album for centuries to come.

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Brian Wilson Setlist Live from Times Square 2017 2017, Pet Sounds 50th Anniversary World Tour: With Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin

 

The rest…

Seasick Steve was the main support act.  I’ve seen this man perform at Glastonbury 2 or 3 times and enjoy his performances each time.  That said, I’ve never really felt compelled to listen to any of his albums.  Tonight was no exception.  It was a really enjoyable set full of “guitar” changes.  One fan had certainly listened to all of his albums…on repeat.  It was great to see a big fan be selected to go on stage with him and be given a signed LP.  Nice touch.

 

Martha & The Vandellas

Umbrella gate.  It seems astounding to me that people with eyes can’t tell that if they put up an umbrella, that no-one behind them will be able to see a thing.  Not one thing.  Fortunately umbrella gate seemed to die down for Seasick Steve and Brian Wilson as people showed more respect as the night wore on.  The other support acts didn’t have such respect shown as the rain came down steadily and heavily.  Martha’s set was not one for the likes of me.  I enjoy a track of theirs when it comes up on a compilation or on the radio, but this was 6 or 7 songs too long for me.  Other people loved it, so I won’t complain.  Martha indicated that she came to “make love to y’all” and at the age of 76 you can’t hep but admire the energy and humour that goes into this type of performance.  Her tambourine had seen better days and if I could offer any advice it might be that there was a serious infection control risk with that instrument.

 

Lanterns On The Lake

I really want to love Lanterns on the Lake.  I enjoyed their last album, Beings. I also had the pleasure of seeing them perform with the Royal Northern Sinfonia last year at The Sage. They have all of the ingredients that I’m looking for in a band.  Powerful tunes with an original sound.  However, they sometimes seem to fall short of delivering.  It must have been a difficult crowd at Times Square and they only had a short set (5 songs I think).  They were just getting the crowd going (and me going) with Through The Cellar Door and The Crawl, but then slowed things right down with the final tune to leave me wanting that rousing finish which never came.  I never envy a support act for a crowd like this. A crowd waiting for a legend. In the rain.  I suspect the next album may well be the one to truly hook me in.

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Lanterns on the Lake Setlist Live from Times Square 2017 2017

Cattle & Cane

It was lovely surprise to see Cattle & Cane added to this bill.  There’s probably nothing I can say about this band that I haven’t said in other blogs, but if you haven’t heard them, you really should.  The set was a perfect highlight reel of their latest album, Mirrors, with a cover and live favourite, The Poacher, thrown in for good measure.  For an independent band from Teesside to share a stage with a legend must be a very special feeling indeed.

 

Cattle & Cane Setlist Live from Times Square 2017 2017

The Lake Poets – these were up first and I can’t tell you much about them. Ste & Amy had the tickets and were running a bit late.  I watched from outside and sent sad pictures to them of me in the rain. Not to worry, it was all worth it in the end.

 

I referenced a crowd distraction earlier.  This came in the form of a drunken young lady who sidled up to Andrew and Ste and repeatedly encouraged them to dance with her. As stoic men they were having none of it. Neither was she. Not taking no for an answer, she continued to harass them until Ste told her definitively that her behaviour was unwanted and unacceptable. I was in tears with laughter stood just behind them, all the time fearing that I was her next target!  Classic.

Deer Shed Festival 8

An awesome family festival that I’d recommend to anyone. Loads to do, great music, great atmosphere and great company.

This is the third year in a row that we’ve been to the Deer Shed Festival and we’ll be going again next year.  Amy nudged us all in the direction of this “family friendly” festival back in 2015 and it’s now a permanent fixture on the calendar.

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DS6 & DS7 were superb and this probably topped them both.  The line-up isn’t packed with household names, but it’s fair to say that for me the music is a bonus as there is so much else to do there.  The website notes this as a family friendly festival and it most certainly is.  There’s so much to do and explore that every year we reflect on how much we missed.  The organisers do a fantastic job of making sure there is something for everyone and it would be fair to say that the kids activities are for the big kids too!

This year our kids did the following activities; fashioned a bow and arrow in the wilderwild, created “arty stuff” (screen print & designed bunny kids), did a forensic investigation, slack lining in the sports field, fairground rides, made paper airplanes and a paper dodecahedron…

You literally could spend all day in the sports field, science tent and wilderwild, but then there’s music across 4 main stages on top of that.

Deer Shed 8

Present at this one: Clare & I with Lana & Erin, Set & Amy with James & Ewan and Andrew with Mayu and Shumei.  The kids are aged from 4 to 9, but there’s something for everyone of any age.

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Food: the food is always great.  There’s a broad range of foods available from a variety of cultures.  I had Mac n Cheese, Red Thai Curry & an awesome steak & ale pie & mash.

Beer: probably the one frustrating thing about DSF is that you aren’t allowed to take any alcohol into the arena.  I know that’s standard at most festivals, but I’ve been spoiled at Glastonbury.  Nevertheless, that’s a minor complaint and the beer on offer is great.  Unfortunately I didn’t get as far as the Obelisk bar which had around 30 ales available.  I stuck with the main bar and enjoyed a few pints of the excellent Mary Jane and the specially brewed Wilderwild.

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Music: as always we created and shared a spotify playlist in advance.  I hadn’t heard of many of the bands in advance and so have now picked up a number of new favourite bands / artists.  I was looking forward to Teenage Fanclub anyway, but most of the others were pretty new to me and in fact many of the ones I did know were just because of previous DSFs.  Unfortunately I didn’t get to see anyone on either the In The Dock or the Obelisk stages, but that’s the perils of having a family!

Friday

Happyness turned out to be the first band I caught on Friday.  I was familiar with a couple of tunes from the playlist and the played to a crowd that was beginning to build as the day wore on.

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Honeyblood were the main support on the main stage.  They’ve got some great tunes and have a good stage presence.  They can certainly make some noise!

I then caught a bit of Jesca Hoop on the Lodge Stage before the main headliners.

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Teenage Fanclub were awesome,  I saw them back in November and they were equally good tonight.  It was a career spanning set with a focus on their latest album, Here (4 out of the 16 tracks were from this one).  The tracks from my favourite two TF albums were my highlights (Grand Prix & Songs From Northern Britain), but it was all good.  Shame there was no encore, but it was still a treat.

Teenage Fanclub Setlist Deer Shed Festival 2017 2017

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Saturday

Two all female groups kicked off the music on Saturday.  The Big Moon were in fine voice and She Drew The Gun started the poetry theme that spanned to the headline slot.  I enjoyed both and will certainly be following The Big Moon in the future.

Sandwiched in the middle, Ste & I managed to catch the second half of the Roddy Woomble set on the Lodge Stage.  It was enjoyable, although I was hoping for a sneaky Idlewild track.  He may have played one and we just missed it.  I plan to check out some of his solo stuff after seeing this.

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King Creosote was next (after a fast spin on the Ferris Wheel), followed by Ibibio Sound Machine.  ISM aren’t my thing, but they certainly got the crowd dancing.

We all then went to see John Smith on the Lodge Stage.  He was great.  I hadn’t heard of him before the line-up was announced and I can see myself getting an album before long.  I might have got one that night in the march tent had events not conspired against me.  I had Erin on my shoulders for the last 3 or 4 songs and she was enjoying the sweet sounds.  She was obviously enjoying it so much that she drifted off.  We were all amused as she continued to stay asleep as the set ended and we left the tent.  The heavens then opened…

…as we headed to our base in front of the main stage.  With Erin asleep and clearly struggling, Clare and I decided (as did Andrew and his kids) that we wouldn’t brave Kate Tempest.  Not our thing anyway, but the weather took a turn for the biblical.  We were all saturated by the time we got back to the tent.

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Sunday

The festival has a shortened Sunday and consequently you get a feeling that the weekend has gone very quickly.  You can stay over on Sunday night for an extra £50, but we’ve only done that the once.  We only caught two bands on the final day as we emerged ourselves in the Wilderwild and the sports field.

Teleman were one of my most anticipated new (to me) bands.  They didn’t disappoint.  There’s something joyous about finding a new band that you take to.  It’s an almost certainty that I’ll have bought Brilliant Sanity within the next few months.

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The Sunday night headliner was another band that I’ve never really “got”, but you could tell that most of the crowd certainly did.  The Divine Comedy ended proceedings and left us all adding the early bird DS9 ticket sale date to our diaries.

Weather: the weather was variable.  The Friday was pretty awesome, Saturday was pretty patchy and then insane rain.  Sunday was pretty good with the odd showers.  If you come prepared with wellies, then it really doesn’t matter.

Thank you to everyone involved in making this a great festival.  See you next year!

 

Elbow @ Tynemouth Priory & Castle

Elbow on top form with another fantastic album to showcase

After missing the “secret” Elbow set at Glastonbury (clash with The xx), I was really looking forward to this one.  The prospect: an outdoor Elbow gig…in the sun…in the grounds of a priory.  What’s not to like?

The weather forecast in the early part of the week looked dodgy with biblical storms prophesied.  As it turned out, this was not the case and the evening went ahead with no rain and a good bit of breakthrough sunshine.

Present at this one were Ste and his wife (Amy) and my wife (Clare), and I.  We went separately, but met up after some food.

Food: I had some amazing fishcakes and chips (Clare went for fish bites and chips) from … outside the venue.  Ste & Amy went for some burgers inside the venue from the Fat Hippo van.

Support: The Cornshed Sisters. Not my cup of tea, but a pleasant, gentle and melodic introduction to the evening.  For a brief period we speculated whether the set would be adorned with corn-on-the-cob related props, but alas, this was not the case.

Venue: the grounds of Tynemouth Castle & Priory were an amazing setting for the gig. The stage essentially seemed like it was on the edge of a cliff with the fret stymied sea view providing the incredible back drop.  This gig was one of a series of 4 days making up the Mouth of Tyne Festival.  Tickets for each day were separate.  Elbow were up first.
The one slightly odd aspect to this being a “festival” was the resulting atmosphere.  A significant proportion of the crowd had brought chairs, picnic rugs and other accompaniments, despite the fact that the doors didn’t open until 6pm.  It really felt like people were setting themselves up for a full day, rather than a 3 hour gig.  Not to worry, though, as this enabled us to get a spot very near the front (after navigating ourselves through the various picnic related obstacles).

What were Elbow like?
Awesome. Review complete.

Elbow really have found themselves a home in the heart of the British public.  An everyman lead singer who is as at home downing a pint of guiness (although this was done by Pete on the night) as he is getting the audience repeatedly chant “LOVE”.  I’m certain that this forms part of most Elbow reviews, but Guy Garvey is, without a doubt, the musician I would most like to go for a pint with.

Elbow opened with the classic Any Day Now, starting what turned out to be a good career spanning set with at least 1 song off every studio album (1 from each of; Asleep In The Back, Cast of Thousands & Leaders Of The Free World.  2 from Build A Rocket Boys!, 3 from The Take Off and Landing of Everything, 4 from The Seldom Seen Kid and 5 from the most recent album, Little Fictions).  The set lasted almost exactly 2 hours and I wasn’t restless once.

Mr Garvey kept the crowd interested throughout leading much arm waving, hand clapping and mantra chanting.  He followed the crowd in baiting Pete Turner to down his pint of Guiness which he gamely did after a couple of attempts. It’s not big and it’s not clever, but it’s always a crowd pleaser!

There were highlights throughout the set and it’s a credit to the new songs that they already feel at home amongst the established tunes.  Magnificent (She Says) and Little Fictions were particular highlights for me from the new album with Sad Captains, Station Approach, Fly Boy Blue / Lunette, The Birds, Lippy Kids and Grounds For Divorce standing out in post-gig analysis.  To be truthful, that list could just be the entire set as they didn’t put a foot wrong.  The gig and new album have inspired me to start an Elbow vinyl collection which I’m sure will grow rapidly.

There wasn’t a huge amount of merch on offer (just a few t’s), so no one partook.

Other entertainment came in the form of the surrounding audience members.  One woman who was clearly in the “picnic spirit” was so drunk she managed to fall over and spill her drink on at least two occasions with seemingly little provocation.  There was also a large amount of low level middle class heckling of Guy’s various on stage musings.  There were definitely a few mutterings about his more left wing call backs with the crowd.

Ste and I were talking about the consistency of Elbow.  7 studio albums into their career and there hasn’t been a bad one.  In fact, I genuinely love them all and feel like they are the sort of band that could continue to produce great albums for another 15-20 years.  I hope they do.  This was the seventh time I’ve seen Elbow live (that puts them 4th on the most often list) and I wish there had been more.  Roll on the next Elbow gig.

 

Take That @ Metro Radio Arena

Manc man-band deliver belated Christmas present

I still remember the sinking feeling shortly after hitting the “buy” button. Was that really £398 I’d paid for two tickets to see Take That?

Tickets to see Take That were suggested as a Christmas present idea. Having procrastinated for too long and missed the regular scramble for tickets, I resorted to a secondary ticketing website. After spending an age comparing and contrasting different seating options and prices on each of the sites, I settled on my choice. I continued with purpose to the payment screen, acutely aware that the clock was ticking and I may lose the prized tickets if I delayed. I clicked “buy” and sat back, quietly satisfied with myself.

Hang on, was that not supposed to be around £290? Undo undo undo! Where did the £82.38 “booking fee”, £9.95 delivery fee and £16.48 VAT come from? You swines! Can I return them? “It’s not possible to cancel or exchange tickets once a purchase has been made as orders are considered final. If you cannot use the tickets you purchased and there is still time before the event date, we advise you to re-list them by clicking on the “Sell” link on the event that you have tickets for.”

So the moral of this tale is to always read the total before you click “buy”. And that secondary ticketing sites are the work of the devil.

Christmas arrived and a print-out of the confirmation email had to serve as the gift.

A few months later and the gig finally arrives. A nice meal beforehand at George’s Great British Kitchen with a bottle of Haviestoun Bitter & Twisted.

All Saints provided the support and did a nice little set encompassing all of their big hits from the 90s. Gone are the cargo pants but the synchronised shimmying and striding remain the same. They finished with Pure Shores which sounded great.

The oestrogen levels were palpable as Take That prepared to take to the stage at around 8.30pm.

The gig was performed “in the round”, so all parts of the arena had a decent view. The band emerged separately at opposite ends of the arena and made their way down narrow gaps in the crowd to the stage, whilst performing opener Wonderland.

Throughout the show there was constantly changing scenery, lighting and projected images and a seemingly endless stream of dancers and performers. There was some loose concept around the performance (which went over my head) interspersed with spoken word interludes. The band themselves sported some unusual clothing lines; Mark was rocking some high heeled boots to give him an extra lift, Howard sported some MC Hammer clown pants in a range of colours, Gary was no-nonsense.

The music spanned their career but mostly concentrated on their material from after their rebirth as a stadium indie/electro pop band. The energy levels barely dropped throughout the set, only slowing slightly when a tabla player joined the band for an acoustic medley section in the middle of the set.

The light show for The Flood was particularly impressive (should have shot the video below in landscape). They finished with Never Forget and Rule The World, with mobile phone lights aloft around the arena.

It was impressive stuff – more of a theatrical production than a gig in many ways but with tickets priced at £95 (face value) you want to see something special. All in all, a really good evening’s entertainment and well worth £398 of hard earned cash (hmmm). Next time I really must remember to be on the ball when tickets go on sale.

Deer Shed Festival – Deer Shed 7

Amber Arcades Lodge
Beth Orton Main
C Duncan Lodge
Cattle & Cane Main
Ed Harcourt Main
Everything Everything Main
Fronteers Main
Lanterns on the Lake Main
Misty Miller Main
Richard Hawley Main
White In The Dock

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Of Monsters and Men @ O2 Academy

Support act: Highasakite

Food from: Coop

Of Monsters And Men, icelanding it up at the O2

Of Monsters and Men Setlist O2 Academy Newcastle, Newcastle, England 2015