Tom McRae @ The Cluny, Newcastle & The Wardrobe, Leeds – 2nd & 3rd October 2017

Two stunning evenings in the company of Tom McRae

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Tom McRae has released 8 studio albums, numerous live albums and demo / b-side collections.  I first heard of him on the short-lived music channel, The Amp.  I saw some infomercial type interview about Just Like Blood and was then hooked.

The Cluny

The last time I saw Tom was at The Sage.  It was a serene performance ruined at times by a drunk woman singing louder than Tom.  Andrew joined me that night as a Tom McRae virgin, as Ste couldn’t make it.  The Cluny gig was the 6th time I’d seen Tom live (although one was an in-store performance).  Ste had been with me for 4 of those.  I’m pleased to say that both Andrew and Ste were with me at The Cluny for our first proper gigamonth (proper includes essential ingredients; just the three of us, a pint, a chat and some food) since Haley Bonar in May.  The food (The Rumble Po’ Boy Jumble!) & beer (Andrew had a Wylam DH Table Beer and Ste & I had the space in between…or something like that) were up to the usual high Cluny standards.

Support act: IMG_0924Lowri Evans opened the evening supported by Lee Mason on guitar.  I enjoyed the set, which included a Welsh intro to a Welsh language song.  It was nice to hear little anecdotes and stories behind the songs spread throughout the set.

Tom McRae: Tom took the stage at about 9.30pm.  Totally unassuming.  He slowly ambled onto the stage and picked at a few guitars before letting Dave know he was ready to start.    I was instantly transfixed in the performance as Tom ignored the guitars and opened with an a capella version of Mermaid Blues.  Simply amazing.  That was soon followed by my favourite song of his latest album (album; Ah, The World! Oh, The World!), Show Them All.  Tom performed using a range of acoustic guitars, an electric guitar, a couple of harmonicas and a piano.  Every song was stripped back and completely beautiful.  Show Them All & Summer of John Wayne were both acoustic before the only use of the electric guitar on Won’t Lie.  Won’t Lie was the first of a number of audience participation songs.  The was a respectful and quiet hush from the crowd throughout, but every opportunity to get involved was taken with real intent.

2nd Law followed on piano.  Achingly heartfelt.  Next up was How The West Was Won which transformed into a cover of Free Fallin’ by the late, great, Tom Petty.  Tom Petty had died a short time earlier and his passing clearly affected the thoughts and performance of Tom.  When Runnin’ Down A Dream came on the PA after the gig, it sounded amazing and very poignant.

The High Life provided another opportunity for “angry” audience participation and Tom started taking some requests, checking in with his little red book every once in a while.

Everything seemed so relaxed.  Tom commented that the lack of a band meant it could be that way.  No need to rehearse.  Take it as it comes.  Sao Paolo Rain was sensational.

Tom seemed to warm up his on stage patter as the night went on, revelling in the recent life transforming nature of having a song covered on the Norwegian version of The Voice.

Tom indicated a new-found purpose to performing.  The world is so screwed up at the moment, that if he can just depress his audience enough during a gig, then the world might not seem so bad in comparison when they leave.

At this point in the gig, I was completely absorbed.  When he was taking requests, I wasn’t in the least bit compelled to make one.  I don’t care what he played.  He could have played anything from his back catalogue and I’d have been happy.  Yes, I have favourite Tom McRae tracks, but I didn’t need to hear them tonight.  I’ve heard them before and was just wanting to be taken away by whatever was next.  It Ain’t You, Expecting The Rain, For The Restless and Ghost of  a Shark were next.  Ghost…bled in to Please before My Vampire Heart.  None of This Really Matters was the penultimate song and only one of two played from the next album (which I’d have been happy to hear in it’s entirety).  He closed with One Mississippi.  An encore was not needed.  Lights up.  Tom Petty on.

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I’d come to gig clutching 4 of Tom’s albums to be signed, hoping he’d be out before or after the show.  I already had 4 signed albums, so was hoping to complete the set.  He kindly obliged and stopped for a serious selfie.  I left very happy.

Tom had arrived at the gig following an epic journey.  He delivered a fantastic performance.

I left the gig thinking that this was the sort of performance I’d like to see again.  I wondered where else he was playing, but figured I was unlikely to go to another gig on this tour.  I’d never done that before.  Never been to another gig by a band or artist in the same tour.  Ste and I had recently discussed whether this was something we could see us doing.  We thought it unlikely.

I listened to a bit more Tom on the way home (From The Solo Lands) and thought, what if?

The next day I was in Rotherham with work.  I was taking someone with me.  At 7am they let me know they weren’t well.  Tom was playing in Leeds that night.  Well, considering I’d already travelled down, it would be rude not to.  Ticket booked.  Night two.

The Wardrobe

There was no Andrew & Ste.  I arrived in Leeds at about 5.30pm.  3 hours to kill.  My phone wasn’t going to have much battery left!  I had a nice pint of Wardrobe Pale Ale and a burger and headed downstairs to watch Lowri Evans (this time solo) at 8.30pm.  Another enjoyable set, made even better by the previous nights familiarity.

Tom joined us on stage at 9.30pm and after some guitar lead issues, he opened again with Mermaid Blues.

I was right at the front for this one.  There was a small change to the start of the set with For The Restless replacing Summer of John Wayne.  Tom described it as the best opening of set that he’d done for some time.  Who am I to argue?


The set started to change as the requests came in.  Sao Paolo Rain was the first request, at the same point in the set as at The Cluny.  I shouted for Walking 2 Hawaii with several others and that followed.  Simply stunning.  Possibly my favourite Tom song.  This version was incredible.  Simple he said.

Human Remains was another audience shout which really appealed to Tom and this was followed by It Ain’t You.  Tom then spotted a “hole” in the audience and unplugged his guitar and took a trip to the centre of floor and performed Bloodless.  The strict curfew was looming and so previous night set closers; None of This Really Matters and One Mississippi followed.  Ghost Of A Shark was then sneaked in under threat of fine and the set was closed with Free Fallin’.  Tom dedicated the night to Tom Petty.  Rest In Peace.

Ramshackle. Heartfelt. Meandering. In all the best ways. Thank you, Leeds. And all who are travelling to multiple shows! #dave #dave #dave

— tom mcrae music (@tommcrae) October 3, 2017

I travelled home, pleased to have experienced two incredible nights.  I was pleased with my spur of the moment decision and thankful to a supportive wife for not complaining!

I’d completely immersed myself in Tom’s back catalogue before The Cluny gig, listening through all the studio albums and most of the other collections.  I normally respond following a gig, by stopping listening to the band or artists for a while.  This is not one of the those responses.  Ah, The World! Oh, The World! is a stunning album, that gets better on every listen.

Tom McRae Setlist The Cluny, Newcastle, England 2017

Tom McRae Setlist The Wardrobe, Leeds, England 2017

Ryan Adams @ The Sage, Gateshead

Can Mr Snow please report to the stage door…

Ste introduced me to Ryan Adams around the time of Gold.  I loved that album and subsequently picked up Heartbreaker and then committed to investing in each album going forward…to a point.  Love Is Hell Pt.1 is an awesome album.   I continued enjoying the releases (Pt.2, Demolition, Rock n Roll, Cold Roses) through to Jacksonville City Nights, which I didn’t enjoy.  I haven’t been back to it for a while, but it put me off.  I picked up 29 and Easy Tiger and then stopped.  I didn’t give the next few much of a chance until Ryan Adams was released.  I enjoyed that, but didn’t put in too much time.  Prisoner then followed and something changed.  I know it’s been critically well received, but I mean something changed with me.  I wanted to listen to it.  Perhaps because my friend and workmate, Laura, is a huge fan.  Perhaps, because I caught Ryan at Glastonbury in 2015 and loved the set.  Perhaps, because I’m in love with music again.  Or perhaps because it’s just so damn good.

The show on Sunday took place at The Sage in Gateshead.  I feel privileged to have such an amazing venue on my doorstep.  Yes, at times, it can be a little pretentious and the atmosphere can feel a bit stilted, but the acoustics are amazing and the setting is breathtaking.  On Sunday, there was no pretentiousness, just a quality rock and roll show.

Ryan made pretty regular references to Kiss throughout the night.  Kiss aren’t / weren’t quite as big in the UK as the US, but you could tell he was channelling the rock god in an alt. country style.  V-shaped guitar and all.

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The set was a little over 2 hours, powering through 23 songs with no encore.  The only breaks taken were for a few anecdotes and some lengthy end of song wig-outs.  Ryan noted a few times that he was feeling “low energy”.  If this was the case, it didn’t show.  He opened with the awesome Do You Still Love Me and proceeded to play; 7 from Prisoner, 3 from Easy Tiger, Heartbreaker & Cold Roses, 2 from Gold & Love Is Hell and 1 from Ashes & Fire and Ryan Adams and 1 new one (Tired Of Giving Up).

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I mentioned the anecdotes.  These were long, but they had a pay-off and I couldn’t help but like him a bit more after each one.  The was a fascinating tale of “Every Pirate” from an early career performance in Newcastle and another sobering tale for us all on the dangers of consuming a full bottle of Robitussin.

It’s of no surprise that the Prisoner tracks stood out for me as did those from Heartbreaker, but it was When The Stars Go Blue & Breakdown that stole the show.  When The Stars Go Blue was complete with a mirrorball and was quite possibly perfect in every way.

The set was made very atmospheric throughout by a smoke machine pumping out low levels to maintain a smokey mood.  At one point I turned to Andrew and commented that the smoke was really starting to billow out now.  Little did I realise what was to come.  Ryan explained that there was a strict curfew at The Sage and that Shakedown… should be considered as the encore.   What followed was the most polite rock n roll end to a gig I’ve ever known.  Almost as soon as the tune started, the smoke machine went into full effect.  Soon, Ryan was no longer visible and before long, nor were any of the other band members.  Still playing, it wasn’t long before the whole auditorium was filled with smoke.

The set ended behind the cloud.  The lights came on.  The doors opened.  The fire alarms went off.

Attention please.  Attention please.  A fire has been reported.  Please leave the building immediately by the nearest exit.

Trust The Sage to have to most polite fire alarm in the world and what was presumably a brilliant coded message.

Can Mr Snow please report to the stage door…

I / we went home happy.  To cap it all off, I got a retweet from the man himself.    As did my friend, Laura who has been having a tough pregnancy – I think it made her year!

I always think that any performance is so much better when the artist or band are enjoying themselves.  I sense that Ryan Adams was, judging by the number of instagram posts he made about this gig.

Prisoner will be my next vinyl purchase.

Support act: Karen Elson was pretty great too.  I hadn’t heard anything of hers prior to this gig and I definitely will be listening in the future.  She made a pretty tidy contribution to the Ryan Adams set too.

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Present: Andrew, Ste & I were all there, but Andrew didn’t mage to get down until the headline set.

Pre-gig entertainment: Ste & I went to the Hop & Cleaver.  We weren’t too impressed with the food, but the pint of Cara Munich (brewed on site) was nice.  We followed that with a coffee at the Head of Steam while discussing record & music collecting.

 

Brian Wilson presents Pet Sounds @ Times Square, Newcastle

A special evening listening to a classic album performed in full

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.

 

Glastonbury 2017 – Sunday – Day Five

The final day at Glastonbury 2017 wasn’t quite as good as the previous two, but it was still rich in quality.

On paper the final day line up didn’t quite sparkle in the same way as Friday and Saturday.  I think the main issue was that the headliner we’d picked wasn’t one that we knew inside out.  In fact, I probably knew less Metronomy tracks than any other that we watched on the Sunday (except October drift).  Ed Sheehan was not an option in case you are wondering.  Galway Girl is one of the worst songs ever recorded.

On the way to the John Peel Stage we had to drift past The Other Stage. This brought to us the truly awful sounds of Slaves. This is clearly a band I will never enjoy, but it is clear that they have an audience. We had two endure two songs on the way and could still hear them from near the JPS.

October Drift

While we watched October Drift the rain absolutely hammered down on the John Peel tent.  Fortunately it didn’t last long and what we caught of OD was pleasant enough without ever tempting a future purchase.

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Sundara Karma

Sundara Karma are an interesting live prospect.  Their debut album is really good and they have everything going for them.  This live show didn’t seem to quite match their potential, but it was enjoyable all the same.

Real Estate

Real Estate were relatively new to me prior to Glastonbury. Their music has a definite feel of Teenage Fanclub and as such I was looking forward to them. Craig Potter, off of Elbow fame is clearly a fan as he was watching back stage on the John Peel Stage. The set was good, but I found myself tiring. It seemed long and the numerous instrumental wig outs seemed to go on forever. It will be a while before I can bring myself to listen to them again. Shame, because I was thinking this could be a band for me.

Laura Marling
Laura was the only act that we watched on the Pyramid Stage in the Sunday. For the first time ever, Ste and I were in the from section (sometimes referred to as the mosh pit, but that would not have been accurate for Miss Marling). We were therefore up close and personal for one of the most serene and delicate performances I’ve ever seen on this huge stage.  The crowd were respectful throughout and at times you could have heard a pin drop.  I’ve honestly never experienced an audience around me being so quiet, soaking in every nuance of this special performance. The set drew heavily from new album, Semper Femina, and I’m not too familiar with it. That didn’t matter. This was an amazing display of acoustic bliss.

Haim

The last time we saw Haim was at Glastonbury in 2013.  Just about to launch album no. 2 at the time of this performance and they were full of confidence. The three of them seemed genuinely thrilled to be on stage and their enjoyment was infectious. They barely put a foot wrong in a fantastic sunlit set on the other stage.  This was probably my favourite set of the day with Haim’s Sun-soaked Californian anthems perfect for this slot in the festival.

The Sherlocks 

A short sharp and thrilling set from The Sherlocks on the BBC Introducing Stage.  We really had to race from Haim to catch this set, but we were determined to do so. This time next year this lot will be on a bigger stage…possibly quite high up.  The set was great, filled with future anthems. We missed the first song and half of the second, but that didn’t spoil the enjoyment of the rest.

The Courteeners

The Courteeners is a band that have never struck a massive chord with me. We caught these next on The Other Stage and were struck by how many of the crowd knew every track and every word. Not Nineteen Forever got one of the best receptions I’ve ever seen on this stage.  I might need to invest a bit more time in this band in the future.

London Grammar

The John Peel Stage was the venue for the rest of the night.  When we got there, it was packed. The tent was packed, outside the tent was packed and the bar was packed. The Killers may have had something to do with this, but it made for an uncomfortable half an hour or so. We managed to get ourselves a spot in the tent (not far in mind you) for what turned out to be the surprise set of the day. It was another stunning performance that I found mesmerising despite a lack of familiarity with the tunes.  I’ll definitely be buying album 2 at some point as this was bordering on spine tingling. Fortunately for Ste & I, the Ed Sheehan effect took hold halfway through the set, and the crowd thinned out. It made for a more comfortable time, but my photos remained terrible!

Metronomy
Glastonbury 2017 closed for us with Metronomy. Not how I’d have hoped in advance, but it was the best choice we could make. I know some Metronomy songs really well, but my enjoyment of the set suffered from a lack of familiarity. Still, the tracks I knew were superb (The Bay, Love Letters, The Look) and we left reflecting on another superb Glastonbury.

Highlights of the final day of Glastonbury 2017 were all female; Laura Marling, Haim & London Grammar. It may have not looked the best day on paper, but it had at least three outstanding performances and some significant promise for the future (The Sherlocks & Sundara Karma).  We walked 19.6km on this final day.

October Drift Setlist Glastonbury Festival 2017 2017

Sundara Karma Setlist Glastonbury Festival 2017 2017, Youth Is Only Ever Fun in Retrospect

Real Estate Setlist Glastonbury Festival 2017 2017, In Mind

Laura Marling Setlist Glastonbury Festival 2017 2017

HAIM Setlist Glastonbury Festival 2017 2017

The Sherlocks Setlist Glastonbury Festival 2017 2017

The Courteeners Setlist Glastonbury Festival 2017 2017

London Grammar Setlist Glastonbury Festival 2017 2017

Metronomy Setlist Glastonbury Festival 2017 2017, Summer '08

 

Epilogue

Beer: We took 90 cans of Stella 4 with us and 8 cans of Dead Pony Club.  All were consumed.  We also had a few Pyramid Ales, which were nice enough.  We had to settle for a lager on the last day from the bar (sold out of ale), which wasn’t so good.

Food: The food at Glastonbury is usually good.  Yes, there is rubbish available, but if you pick carefully you can eat very well indeed.  We took some bread products and fruit for breakfast, but ate at the stalls for lunch and evening.  The Thai green curry platter from near the pyramid stage is always a highlight.

Glastonbury 2017 in numbers:
38 bands seen 🎸
10 stages 🎪
90 cans of beer 🍻
£238 face value ticket price 🎫
95.45km walked 🚶🏼
1010km travelled by car 🚗

I’m not sure where this Glasto ranks in respect to the other 6 we’ve been to.  It probably wasn’t as good as 2015 which may well have been my favourite, but perhaps this is because it didn’t quite go to plan.  The Monday involved another huge trek across the site with all of our gear in the blazing sun. We got to the car and set off at about 10-10.30. It seems that we lucky. Reports on Twitter on the way home suggested that our car park was gridlocked about 30 minutes later.  I always feel ridiculously tired after Glastonbury and always wish I’d taken the Tuesday off.  I still want to go back for more.  Roll on 2019.

Glastonbury 2017 – Saturday – Day Four

Day four, of the best festival in the world, brought 14 quality bands across 7 stages – 24km of walking with one or two beers to keep hydrated.

The Saturday of Glastonbury was pre-identified as an action packed day.  There were a few clashes around, but Ste and I pretty much agreed what we were going to tackle.  The day started with some rain and I couldn’t help but hope the Bootleg Beatles would play a cover of Rain.  I didn’t happen.  Lost opportunity.  We headed out with waterproofs on and made the controversial decision not to bother with chairs.

The Bootleg Beatles with the Pepperland Sinfonia

With a cup of tea in hand we headed for the Pyramid stage.  The Bootleg Beatles were awesome.  Focussing entirely on Sgt Peppers and Magical Mystery Tour era meant a splendid time was guaranteed for all.  Hearing A Day In The Life with an orchestra was pretty special and something I won’t forget in a hurry.  Paul’s patter was perfect, although his look and singing voice isn’t quite there.  John was pretty much spot on.  A top start to the day which also ended as the rain ended.

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Joseph

Our first and only trip to the Acoustic Stage.  We arrived early to hear the sweet sounds of Joseph.  White Flag has become my youngest daughters favourite tune and I can’t stop watching the version they did on Jools Holland.  We oddly caught the soundcheck which drifted into the main set.  I didn’t know everything, but being on the front row meant it was a pretty intimate and special performance.  I’ll no doubt invest in the latest album soon.

Wildwood Kin

Keeping with the all girl band theme we sped to the Avalon Stage for the first and only time.  We caught Wildwood Kin syupporting The Oh Hellos last year and were pretty impressed,  I love a band who really look like they are enjoying themselves on stage.  We missed the first song, but the rest of the set was sumptuous.  They noted that they had previously been reviewed as being “pleasantly awkward” on stage.  There’s something really apt about that description.  Their new album is out in August and I’ll certainly be making a purchase.

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British Sea Power

It’s a little bit of a cheat to say we saw BSP.  We wanted to, but also wanted to cram in other bands.  We saw the end of one song on the way round one side of The Other Stage and then caught Keep On Trying (Sechs Freunde) on the way past the other side.

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The Amazons

We specifically trekked to the John Peel Stage to see these.  We hadn’t been able to make up our minds in advance over whether this was a band for us or not.  I think our collective conclusion was “not”.  We probably only stayed for 2 or 3 songs, but had time to sneak in two puns.  Ste noted that “they never fail to deliver” while I acknowledge that we didn’t have a prime spot.

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Wild Beasts

We left The Amazons and headed back to The Other Stage to see Wild Beasts.  We arrived during track one, but were quickly able to get to the front.  They gave a good performance.  I don’t have an extensive knowledge of their stuff, but there was a couple in front who literally song along to every word.  I’m always amazed how there are always superfans for every band.  We headed back to the tent after this one to deposit the waterproofs and replenish the beers.

Kaiser Chiefs

This was a band we almost couldn’t be bothered for.  KT Tunstall was playing the acoustic tent.  We’d have both preferred that, but couldn’t bring ourselves to trek from the tent to the Acoustic Stage (probably the longest possible journey).  Instead we trudged to watch the Kaisers (after debating whether to skip them and just head to the Park Stage for Temples).  They were fine.  Nothing more, nothing less.  It seemed like Ricky Wilson had snorted a couple of lines of coke before he came on stage as he was a little wired and very up for it.  I Predict A Riot was the inevitable highlight.

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Liam Gallagher

Following KC was the big man himself, LG as you were.  The last time Ste or I saw this man live was at Glastonbury in 2004.  Oasis were terrible that night and Liam’s voice really hasn’t been the same for well over a decade.  He opened with Rock n Roll Star and transitioned into Morning Glory.  He then mentioned new songs, so we headed on our merry way.  The crowd was truly huge.  Watching back on TV, I don’t feel we missed anything, but the closing Don’t Look Back In Anger was pretty special.

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Temples

A quick March to The Park stage for Temples.  Nothing stands out about this set.  It was good, but wasn’t special or memorable.  In fact we had a sit down for the last few songs (a much needed sit down!).

The Avalanches

This was a wildcard.  Our first EVER trip to the West Holts stage.  What a strange trip it was.  It felt like a party stage.  No one seems inserted in the band, but everyone was drinking.  You couldn’t get anywhere near the from (or at least we couldn’t spy a route), so we watched from a distance.  Despite the big screens being available and functional, they were not utilised.  Instead you had to try and pick out people on stage from a distance.  We decided after a couple of tracks that this wasn’t for us.  We probably should have delayed the decision for 5 more minutes as Frontier Psychiatrist started playing as we were well on our way to the Pyramid.

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The National

Pretty much caught the whole of this set.  I don’t remember a lot about it.  I don’t remember being particularly drunk, but memories of this and Father John are certainly Misty.  The National were good, if not sparkling.  I’m pretty certain Ste enjoyed them a little more than me, but they were certainly good.

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Father John Misty

FJM is a bit of an enigma.  This was a good set, but he is a strange dude.  We had a poor view, but the screens are decent in The John Peel tent.  Everything that he played from I Love You, Honeybear (the album) was fantastic.  His more pop tendencies have more appeal for me.

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∆ alt-j

The Foo Fighters were headlining the Pyramid.  This wasn’t a difficult decision for Ste or I.  Neither of us owns a Foos album and ∆ are one of the best bands in recent times.  We arrived nice an early for this one and got pretty close to the front.  The Foos clearly had the lions share of patrons, but this was a pretty iconic performance to be at.  The set was little more than an hour,  but I’m pretty certain they played everything you’d want to hear at a festival set.  They were pretty static for the whole performance and didn’t talk much.  That said, despite a lack of engagement through that medium, the songs spoke for themselves.  I was mesmerised as was everyone around me.  Matilda stood out as a particular highlight, but I don’t think there was a low point.  I wasn’t restless for a second.  If i was a Kraftwerk fan (own one album that I’ve never got into) then this is probably what watching them would have felt like.  Compelling viewing.

Warpaint

The Park usually ends last (although not on Sunday) and when you don’t want the night to end, its worth a hike.  I’ve never fully got into Warpaint, but they have some fantastic tunes.  I think we caught that last 4 or 5 songs.  New Song was fantastic and made me wish I’d seen more.

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The highlights of day four, for me, were alt-j, Joseph, Wildwood Kin and Warpaint.  We walked 24km on the Saturday, purposely seeing 14 bands across 7 different stages.  Our most impressive glastonbury haul ever.  It even included some downtime between Wild Beasts and Kaiser Chiefs!

The Bootleg Beatles Setlist Glastonbury Festival 2017 2017

Joseph Setlist Glastonbury Festival 2017 2017

Wildwood Kin Setlist Glastonbury Festival 2017 2017

The Amazons Setlist Glastonbury Festival 2017, Summer 2017

Wild Beasts Setlist Glastonbury Festival 2017 2017

Kaiser Chiefs Setlist Glastonbury Festival 2017 2017

Liam Gallagher Setlist Glastonbury Festival 2017 2017, As You Were

Temples Setlist Glastonbury Festival 2017 2017, Volcano

The National Setlist Glastonbury Festival 2017 2017, Sleep Well Beast

Father John Misty Setlist Glastonbury Festival 2017 2017, Pure Comedy

alt-J Setlist Glastonbury Festival 2017 2017, RELAXER Tour

Warpaint Setlist Glastonbury Festival 2017 2017