Thursday 23 October 2014

Memories of Franki Valli on the birthday bash

Teleman: Heaven, 22 October 2014

My Sis and I aren't getting each other birthday presents any more. Instead, twice a year, we're going to a gig together. And last night, watching Teleman, my mind went back to the first gig we went to together. I've realised it was 38 or 39 years ago. OK, we were kids, but all the same; long time...

So we were understandably concerned about the 'in-crowd' last night at a with-it, hip venue. (Alright; stop that. You never talked like that, even in the 70s). No need to worry though. Music's changed and the people in the band are now just as likely to witness their parent's generation in the audience, possibly moshing. 

The band we went to see in the mid-seventies? Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. And strangely, a few weeks ago, Six Music played a track of theirs; The Night. And what a song that is. I often think of "Oh what a night; December 1963", mainly because I was one at the time and it was a very cold winter apparently. But if you listen to the Night, you'll see that Franki has legacy.

He could have easily come on stage and performed with Teleman last night, who were better than when I saw them at the Green Man festival in August. (OK; it sounds like I'm a Teleman groupie, but remember I'm old enough to be their Dad). They played a longer set and that can sometimes spell disaster. But, in this case, more was definitely more. I just hope they can build on the momentum and one day I can say that I saw this big band at a small venue. 

Happy birthday Sis. Let's book another. 

Tuesday 16 September 2014

ELO and that Adidas bag

Jeff's Lynne's ELO: Hyde Park, 14 September 2014

I just got back from a downtown party.....The lure of ELO playing their first gig in 28 years was enough to see me leaving a tout almost in tears as I got a bargain last-minute ticket. (If only he knew I'd have paid much more...) I'm so glad I made the effort, not least because mixed with the nostalgia was a fantastic sound. Jeff Lynne and Richard Tandy, the two ELOers present, were on top form. This, despite their three-decade-absence. 

And during 'Livin' Thing' I turned from being 51 to 15. The memories flooded back:

  • Matthew gives me Chris's copy of 'A New World Record' (there was a taping rotation system). He has it in his Adidas bag. I tell him that is a poor transit vehicle for an LP. The cover's edges are buckled
  • Chris writes the track names of the above record on a tape box (so perhaps he taped it for me. What about the rotation system? Bear with me; these are old memories)

  • Chris and Richard laugh when I wear my 'Wish I was a Wild West Hero' badge at school
  • My Sis and I go to Wembley Arena to see ELO in the big spaceship hamburger

It would have been amazing and nostalgic on Sunday even if they’d been rubbish. But it was a great stage show, every bit as good as Wembley in 1978. My brother-in-law and I kept looking at our watches as we both started to worry that 80 minutes wasn’t nearly long enough for the back-catalogue we wanted to hear. So, there was no ‘Rockaria’ and no ‘I Wish I was a Wild West Hero’, among others. No matter; I’ve been listening to 'I Wish I was...' on repeat every since and I’m still really in a classroom 36 years ago with my home-made badge on. Thank you ELO. 

"Ride the range all the day till the first fading light.
Be with my western girl round the fire, oh, so bright.
I'd be the Indian's friend, let them live to be free,
ridin' into the sunset, I wish I could be."

Wednesday 30 April 2014

Yes: New Oxford Theatre; 29 April 2014

In 1980 I shelled out 99p on a second-hand album at J and J Records, Hatfield. Last night I slogged my way through tube-strike-hit London, and on to Oxford, to see the band who made that album. And last night, they played that self-same album in its entirety.

The band? Yes. The album? Close to the Edge.

Getting into Yes in the 1980s was deeply unfashionable. Why didn't I listen to Depeche Mode or Siouxsie and the Banshees? Well, I did listen to those bands as well, but Yes are my guilty pleasure. And I was hooked from the moment I heard the title track of Close to the Edge. Last night was a challenge as it was the first item that they played on the first night of the tour. It was a bit rusty. But half way through I had a "hairs on the back of the neck moment". 

The big thing was Steve Howe's guitar. I went all the way to Oxford because their London gig is at the Albert Hall, where the sound is awful, because amplified electric guitars bounce badly off those mushrooms in the ceiling. Last night I had a great view and the sound was perfect. Steve is 67 years old and he played his guitars like the man in his prime that he surely is. The hairs on the back of the neck were practically turning into a 70s long hairdo all by themselves.

So, the moral of the story is: Don't turn down the opportunity to spend 99p. OK, that might be difficult in the 99p shop, but, perhaps you know what I mean. Because 34 years later, I bless the day I made an impulse buy in J and J Records, Hatfield. 

Monday 10 March 2014

John Grant; Roundhouse 9 Mar 14

John Grant; Roundhouse 9 Mar 14
Armistead Maupin described big, bearded gay men as "bears" in his Tales from the City books. There were plenty there last night but the bear-in-chief is John Grant. I have wanted to see him for a while because I'm a sucker for his ballads, but it was his vocal range, and the band's banging out of the numbers, during smoky silouettes, that was the surprise. The two best songs, in my humble, non-bearlike opinion, were "It doesn't matter to him" and the title track from album two, "Pale Green Ghosts". The voice and the tempo made them the winners. The one-we'd-been-waiting-for, GMF, disappointed. In fact, the only downer was perhaps the longish encore. The ABBA number was potentially superfluous, but, as everyone knows, if a bear arrives at the (round) house, you feed it..................