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GIG REPORTS 2007

Rogers personal view of the gigs he has attended
Not all are Rock'n'Roll - Roger likes all live entertainment

Disclaimer: All the views expressed herein (unless otherwise ascribed) are those of the author and may
be unsuitable for overly sensitive persons of low esteem, or irrational religious beliefs. Any attempt
to sue me over the contents will constitute an irritating social faux pas.

                       


2007

 

Lord of The Rings

Friday 28th December Fran and I drove into London to The Theatre Royal in Drury Lane to see The Lord Of The Rings - the musical.  I have been in two minds about this show.  It seemed a difficult story to make into a musical, yet all the critics reviews were positive.  We soon found out why.  Sure, the story had been abridged in places, and the songs - original Tolkien refrains - were not particularly memorable,  but the special effects and costumes were mind blowing !   The Black Riders were awesome creatures - black things on stilts with skeletal horses ; the Orcs were evil, swinging like demented apes, but with absolute menace.  The Elves were a bit naff - could have been a troupe escaped from the Cirque De Soleil - but they were entertaining; while the Ents were very tall and spindly on amazingly long stilts; and Gollum was - well, he was Gollum.

The lighting and stage effects were spectacular. The stage was circular with contra rotating sections and sections which rose or fell according to the effects - overall made to look like a huge tree stump.  The theatre walls and proscenium arch were a tangle of tree roots - but with special lighting could also look like rock or snow.  Best of all was the flame from the Balrog when - at the end of the first half - it fell into the pit of Moria with Gandalf.  There was blinding red light of huge flames, black smoke billowing across the audience and "ash" (grey confetti) raining out across the auditorium.  

Although three hours is a long time to sit in cramped seats when you have crap knees, I wouldn't mind seeing this one again.

 
Sunday 23rd December  We went with Jackie & Colin to The Royal Albert Hall to see the annual Carols by Candlelight concert.    The principal entertainers were The Mozart Festival Chorus and The Mozart Festival Orchestra; ably assisted by Sarah Tynan (soprano), conducted by David Hill and supported by prose readings from Christopher James.  The orchestra dressed in seventeenth century costume;  tights, tight knee breeches and fancy silk frock coats - topped off with powdered wigs.   This was the first of three shows they were doing on the same day !  It was an excellent production playing to a full house who revelled at participating in some of the more boisterous carols.  The chorus sang excerpts from Handel's Messiah;  Sleepers Wake;  In Dulci Jubilo and many other seasonal classics.  Sarah Tynan was brilliant, with a full soprano rendition of Or Let The Merry Bells Ring Round more reminiscent of the Last Night of the Proms than of a Christmas service.  The audience participated in half a dozen carols, climaxing with Once in Royal David's City, during the last verse of which the organist let rip with the mighty Albert Hall Organ.  Awesome. 

 
Saturday 22nd December We had a difficult choice to make.  The King Earl Boogie Band were playing at Fat Lil's in Witney and The Jackie Lynton Band were playing at The Jolly Butcher in Laleham.    It was a hard decision, but we ended up going to Laleham to see Jack.

It was a good gig - the band were very together and Jack was enjoying himself.  Mike Windus and Chris Bryant both played fantastic solos and Colin Pattenden gave us a great show, especially on Blue Suede Shoes and Matchbox .   The Jolly Butcher is a great little gig - always packed and extremely appreciative of Jack and the band.   Greg had a good night - nearly deafening the rest of the band, and Jack sang like an Angel.   Well, an angel with a deep voice anyway !

The lads played two full sets, ending with a Status Quo medley which went down really well with the audience. 

 
Wednesday 19th December I paid an extremely brief visit to the 3 B's bar in Reading to see Jason Manners, George Calvert and Mark Hill  (most of Boothill) playing.  Indeed Tami Roberts was sitting in the audience, so all of Boothill were in the room.
I was en route home from work - with a passenger en  route for Didcot - and I was still wearing a business suit.  So I didn't stop long.  Apart from a quick kiss from Tami  I didn't get to speak with any of the guys.   I saw three and two halves of numbers and it was clear that Jason was in stunningly good form - I wish I could have stayed for more.

 
Saturday 1st December was a very local gig (walking distance) at The Silver Birch pub in Bracknell.  It was a late booking for The Jackie Lynton Band.   We got there in good time and helped the band get their gear in.  The Birch was surprisingly quiet - apparently they have been in a rut with the same band every month, plus they got a new landlady five weeks ago - so she is trying to revive custom by changing things a bit.

I remember the place being so packed that it would take five minutes to squeeze your way across the room; tonight there were only about twenty of us in the audience - so I kept moving about to make it appear more crowded !

The band were on extremely good form - this was partly because Chris and Greg had been rehearsing all day , but also because they were all clearly having a good time and enjoying the music.   Both Chris and Mike played brilliant solo's and Colin Pattenden's bass line through High Heeled Sneakers (not the original Thomas Higginbotham - aka Tommy Tucker - arrangement, but the Lynton Gangs own jazz-funk arrangement) was phenomenal.  

Jack was in particularly good form, jovial and in good voice and although the "half time" gap was quite long, they performed from half past eight all the way through until half past eleven.  Great appreciation from the small audience - let's hope the venue grows stronger over the coming weeks.

Mike Windus - JLB

 

Jason and Tami in duet

Saturday 24th November Fran and I made our way over to The Seacourt Bridge Pub at Botley, on the edge of Oxford.  This is Shelley Earl's pub (eldest daughter of the lovely Colin Earl) and tonight she was presenting Boothill - featuring  Jason Manners (guitar and vocals); Tami Roberts (vocals);  Mark Hill (percussion); and George Leslie Calvert (bass guitar and vocals). 

They were amazing - an excellent evenings entertainment. George and Mark provided a power house backing - embroidered by George's jazzy rifts on the bass (has Stephanie been making him listen to too much Polar Bear recently?).  Although Tami told me before the gig that she was worried about her voice, it sounded great. She is not only a very good blues singer, but she has a vocal range which easily enables her to move around different genres of music.  Jason was superb - that man has an amazing ability with the guitar - well worth seeing if you've not heard him before.  He is not only technically good, but he plays with his heart - very moving. 

I discovered tonight that Boothill is named after an Elmore James song - which surprised me because EJ is one of my favourite blues artists* and I didn't recall that as a title which I recognised. However, the song was familiar and a bit of post gig checking out revealed that Elmore recorded it as Look On Yonder Wall.   It was renamed as Boothill when Johnny Winter covered it and a friend tells me that Stevie Ray Vaughan has also produced a seminal recording of the song under that title. I shall have to search them both out.

*The first record I ever bought was in 1962 and was a secondhand copy of Elmore James' 1947 version of Dust My Broom on scratchy old 78rpm - it's in terrible state of quality, but I wouldn't sell it for the Earth.

 
On Saturday 17th November 2007  I drove over to Scratchers at Godalming to and back to see Mike Windus (aka Billy Hill in this line up) playing with Cryin Out Loud

I got there just as the first set was starting.  I had only seen this band twice before - once at Scratchers and once in Mal Dann's back garden - and I really like the style of music they generate. A great big dose of Chuck Berry influence and a decent dollop of Delbert McLinton in the middle.

I was on nursemaid duty so I couldn't stay right to the end, but I watched through the first three numbers of the second set before setting off for home.   A nice gig and well worth the forty mile round trip to drink a couple of pints and listen to their music.

Cryin Out Loud

 

Blue slate bow for the KEBB

Saturday 3rd November 2007  I drove to Cornwall and back to see The King Earl Boogie Band playing at The Carnglaze Cavern  - a wonderful gig deep in an old slate mine, with the most amazing acoustics.   480 miles driving in sixteen hours - well worth the journey.

It was the annual Guy Fawkes bash at this wonderful venue - an old slate mine deep in the Cornish countryside.  It wasn't quite as crowded as previous years - although there was still a good sized audience. There seemed to be more "outsiders" groups than I had noticed before; a load from Portscatho (a KEBB enclave even further down in Cornwall) and a noisy Status Quo supporters group from Shilton in Oxfordshire - the village where John Coghlan lives; as well as the regular "WAG"s

It was a brilliant gig. the band are excelling themselves each time they play.   They started with an acoustic set (Ian on guitar because he'd forgotten to bring his mandolin), after which everyone emptied out of the cavern to eat hot dogs and burgers and to watch the firework display - which was very impressive.  Then we all returned to the depths of the mine to see two more sets - this time electrical.  The band are developing away from their core boogie and blues and moving perceptibly further into Rock'n'Roll. There were several Chuck Berry numbers and the finale was a Status Quo medley ! 

 
Sunday 28th October 2007  I thought I was going to see Dave Peabody and Colin Earl at The Jolly Farmer pub in Hurst, near Reading. 

But when I got there I found Mr Peabody in the bar with George (Les) Calvert watching another band whom I had never seen before.  Their keyboard player was exceedingly good.  After a few numbers Dave joined the band to guest a few numbers.  I only stayed for a half dozen songs, but the band were quite tight and performed well with Dave - I don't know if they had rehearsed, or had played with him before. The un-named band were, however, badly let down by the totally ropey state of their PA equipment !   Most of the time it was emitting a low hum - although this rose to be a quite loud buzz at times just to remind everyone it was there. The vocal reproduction was very muddy and (for me anyway) quite spoiled Dave's vocals.

Never mind - the audience were enjoying themselves and I had a beer and a chat with Dave and George, so it can't have been all bad.

Peabody guests

 

Ian with Simon

Saturday 27th October 2007  I took Fran to see The Ian Campbell Blues band at The Seacourt Bridge Hotel  at Botley on the western outskirts of Oxford. This pub is managed by Shelley - Colin Earl's eldest daughter and it was great to see her again. 

When we arrived we found Keith Allan and Ian Campbell sitting out the front of the pub. Inside were George Calvert, Simon Spratley and Mark (don't know his surname) talking with Tami Roberts (Mark's partner).  Mark was standing in for Simon on drums.  They eventually got the show going soon after 9pm and sounded terrific.  Considering that Mark hadn't rehearsed with them they sounded extremely tight; and Ian's guitar solos' were as brilliant as ever.   Simon also did a couple of really nice solo's as well.

We could only stay for the first half, but the band were on good form and the punters in the pub were really enjoying it.  Shelley is a brilliant hostess and produced a huge pot of Penne Bolognese at the half way interval to stop all her customers from dying of hunger during the second set.    I hope this gig grows and gathers a huge following - the bands Shelley has lined up for the future are quite amazing.

 
Wednesday 17th October 2007  I took my sister-in-law to see Matthew Bourne's production of  The Car Man at The New Victoria Theatre in Woking.   It was an exhilarating performance which left us feeling quite breathless and worn out !   Loosely based on Bizet's Carmen - and using all "the best bits" of the Opera's music with some strange, but lovely, arrangements.

The action was set in a small American town in the fifties - with a tight knit Italian immigrant community fighting and screwing and generally just being folk - until a stranger arrives in town and takes a job as a mechanic at the local garage (hence "The Car Man").   He seduces the local garage owners wife - and also seduces one of the shy young men of the town - thus disrupting two of the relationships in this small community.  Sex and Violence reign - but in a beautifully choreographed way. Some full frontal male nudity (do all male ballet dancers shave or wax their pubes?); some passionate male kissing; a lot of teenage sex and two very bloody and shocking murders !    A brilliant story - and considering that it is all dance (no spoken words) it is extremely well communicated. The dancers have to "act" as well as dance.

 

The Jackie Lynton band at The North Star

Saturday 6th October 2007 I went to see The Jackie Lynton Band at The North Star pub in Staines.  Not the World's best venue - the band play in an area smaller than my living room at home and basically face a subset of the audience comprising about eight people and a wall !  The rest of the audience are off to the sides and not in direct eye contact with all the musicians.

  However - this was one of the best Lynton gigs I have ever listened to - the band were extremely tight and loving the evening themselves.  Both Mike Windus and Chris Bryant were on top form - and both did the "best ever" solo's on Cocaine.  If I had to choose I think Mike might have been better by a whisker!  But I'm not the best judge and they were both playing brilliantly.  Later in the set Colin Pattenden wasn't the only band member to lose himself in ecstasy playing High Heeled Sneakers - the bands own "funk" version of this Carl Perkins classic.  The band all revelled in Women and Men - a great song which Jack doesn't perform often enough.  In the small room the floor was buzzing with the vibrations from the band and I think most of the audience were prematurely deafened by the wall of sound.    They ended with Chuck Berry's Let It Rock - an exceedingly good nights entertainment.   
 

Pictured below are (left to right) :  Mike Windus being cool and professional at the same time ; Mr Bryant's guitar while he was playing slide ; Chris Bryant getting excited during Let It Rock ; Greg Terry-Short enjoying smacking his big brass cymbal.
 


 
Thursday 4th October we visited The Wilde Theatre at South Hill Park to see The Puppini Sisters performing.  They are a close harmony three girl group with a penchant for nineteen forties music not to mention war time looks - pencil skirts, tight bodice jackets, stockings with high heels and piled up hair. (I would have enjoyed it if they'd all had laryngitis !)  They had a very adept backing band (Double Bass, Drums/keyboards and electric guitar) and showed their virtuosity by also playing their own instruments, violin, piano accordion, ocarina and a strange little kiddies piano which made quite a tinny noise. 

A very professional and well choreographed act, not quite following in the footsteps of Fascinating Aida, but certainly on a closely parallel path - they write some of their own stuff as well as the 1940's favourites like Chatanooga Choo Choo ; Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy and Sisters.  They have also applied their close harmony technique to more modern songs, like Wuthering heights and Heart of Glass.  I will certainly go out of my way to see this act again - they are very entertaining.

 

Programme Cover

Tuesday 2nd October 2007 Fran and I went to The Theatre Royal at Windsor to see Tom Conti starring in a play called Romantic Comedy.  Not technically a "gig" - but live entertainment so I feel justified including a report.  It was an excellent story spanning twelve years of a relationship between two successful play writers in New York during the sixties and seventies.   Well produced and acted, the only deficiencies were that it started twenty minutes late because Mr Conti had got stuck in a traffic jam, and that he occasionally forgot to employ his American accent - not that it mattered much because it was set in New York and nobody there can speak properly anyway.

The play was originally written in America by Bernard Slade - who made his name as script writer for the sixties TV series Bewitched and The Partridge Family.   The play was written in the 1970s and was originally a great hit on Broadway with Anthony Perkins and Mia Farrow in the main roles.  I haven't seen any other versions, but this one felt as if it was written for Tom Conti, which probably reflects the excellent acting, casting and directing. We've seen quite a few plays starring Tom Conti and he is a consistently great actor.

The published programme was also one of the more memorable I have ever seen.  As well as the usual stuff about the actors, the play and the company it had some interesting articles about romantic relationships and an entertaining set of quotes from the great and good on the subject.  My favourites were:
Marriage is a wonderful invention; but, then again, so is the bicycle repair kit.   Billy Connolly
The trouble with women is that they get all excited over nothing - and then marry him.  
 Cher
Women are like elephants to me; I like to look at them, but I wouldn't want to own one.
   W C Fields

 

Saturday 30th September 2007 I went to see The Jackie Lynton Band at The Jolly Butcher near Laleham.   First gig for ages (been in hospital) and it was great to see the band in fantastic form.  It was Chris's birthday so there was plenty of red wine flowing and Jack has at last got his new CD published so he was happy to have something to sell.  It's called Rockin' In Cornwall, Rollin' in Surrey and features a lot of new Jackie Lynton songs.  All the photo's in the CD are by me (and there are quite a lot of them) although inexplicably they include several celebrities who aren't on the record ! 

The pub has a new landlord and a very appreciative audience who loved the music and the band.  Clair and Linda  were there as well and agreed it was a good gig.  We were well entertained by some of the more alcoholically challenged regulars who danced rather violently - at one stage tipping a very inebriated young lady wearing an extremely short skirt backwards over the foldback speakers and into Colin's microphone stand - which hit him in the face!  The rest of the audience was visibly relieved to be able to confirm that she was wearing knickers - although Jack did keep on about having seen an escaping hedgehog!   After a bit of a drought from live music it was a good refreshing performance and a very enjoyable evening.

 

Four Original Teens
Ray Phillips, John Allen, John Hawken and Neil Korner

Saturday 1st September 2007 was day one of The Weyfest at The Rural Life Centre near Farnham.  A Mecca for local bands, and a load of friends among them.

Fran, John Hawken and I arrived about half past four and quickly explored the front and backstage areas of the new venue for the WeyFest.  There were twenty bands appearing during the day, but our specific interest was for three of them.   I was intrigued by the programme,  most of the words describing "our" three bands were written by me and had been filched off various of my websites as were at least three photographs.

 First up were Paul Kings Skeleton Crew, who now featured original guitarist Ian Campbell because Geoff Ward was in Ireland.  We greeted Colin Pattenden, Paul King and Ian - the latter of whom Fran and I had seen less than twenty four hours before at Addlestone. Paul's performance was great, and at the end he called up Pat and another girl to play zob sticks on stage.  Overall a great stomping performance with a great big dollop of Paul's classic showmanship. 

While Paul was on stage,  Neil Korner and John Allen - both original members of the Nashville Teens - arrived; so we had a fairly robust representation from the nineteen-sixties.  Luckily the current cast of the band also turned up.
 

     

Paul Kings Skeleton Crew                              The Nashville Teens                                  The Jackie Lynton band
 

Colin stayed on stage (but with a different T-shirt) for the next band - The Nashville Teens.  At one time we had been trying to juggle this gig with a private party on the same day - but had decided to turn down the party.  The celebration of Dave Fulcher's 60th birthday wasn't going to pass without being entertained by The Teens, so Dave had bought seventy tickets for himself and his friends - and had his party at The WeyFest.  Of course he got thanked and wished Happy Birthday from the stage by Ray and later by Jack Lynton.

The Teens set was excellent, although Rays voice is still not fully repaired from his illness earlier in the year and there were one or two high notes where he looked as if he may be hurting.  John H got a break and was invited on stage to play piano for Honky Tonk Women and Paul King was invited to play harmonica on Hoochie Coochie Man. As usual I spent their set wandering around the audience to listen to the sound quality with occasional visits backstage to check everything was in order. I usually go to the front to join the WAGs for their ritual dance to Tobacco Road, but today I stayed up the back of the audience watching John, Jaffa and Neil to see their reactions to the song - after all it was they who made it famous.  Difficult to read faces, but I gauged a deal of nostalgia mixed with a tiny little bit of envy that they weren't down there on the stage pumping their own song out.   
 

John Hawken,  Jack Lynton, Steve Gibbons

 

The Teens had got the audience up dancing, and The Jackie Lynton Band came on (with Colin in yet another T-shirt) to reinforce that good feeling and fill the field even more with gyrating rock'n'rollers.  Jack was brilliant.  He has had a stressful time recently, but he managed to shrug it off and deliver a blinding performance to a really appreciative audience.   I found some time to grab photographs of Jack Lynton and Steve Gibbons immediately after Jacks set, at the same time as trying to co-ordinate getting all Jack's stuff off-stage.   I also caught sight of (though I don't yet have a copy) of Jacks new CD - "Rockin' in Cornwall, Rollin' in Surrey" - and I was surprised to find that the cover photo was one of mine and that I had been credited for it on the sleeve notes.

The final band of the evening was the Steve Gibbons Band.  We stopped to watch the first three or four numbers before we had to leave.  A very exciting little festival - much better organised than last year, and with a lot of promise to grow for the future.  The audience numbers could perhaps have been a little better , but nothing that a fortune spent on advertising won't fix.

 

Friday 31st August 2007 Fran and I went to Addlestone to The Hare Hill Social Club to see The King Earl Boogie Band.  We found Stephanie and Tami Roberts on the WAGs table and settled down to some serious catching up conversations with the gang before it was time to start entertaining the small, but select, audience in the club. 

It's ages since we saw the band together and they were great.   John Coghlan was on holiday so Mark Hill  (Tami's partner) played drums.   Since we last appreciated them live the band have added a couple of new numbers penned by Dave Peabody, and have developed the Campbell/Spratley version of Slow Down  (which is played by most of the bands which Ian and/or Simon have been associated with over the last thirty years,  including The Nashville Teens).

During the second set Tami got up to do a couple of blues numbers (for picture of Tam see 8th June below).  A good evening although the band might have felt better if there had been a few more humans in the audience.

The King Earl Boogie Band

 
Saturday 18th August 2007  The Nashville Teens trekked down to East Prawle in Devon for a night at The Pigs Nose Inn. We took with us John Hawken - original keyboard player for The Teens and we all had a great - although very tiring - time. 

Spud and Ken took Trish and Cola with them and had the foresight to travel down on Friday and stay over. Simon went on his own because he was acquiring a new car at Poole en route to the gig and didn't want our "help".  Colin, Ray, John, Wesley and myself crowded into Colin's people carrier and then took nearly seven hours to fight our way through the solidifying holiday traffic.  We arrived about six o'clock and were greeted by Dave Wade (Dave-The-Sound) who immediately provided me with a beer. What a lovely man !    The sound check quickly turned into a rehearsal, because tonight was to be the first public outing for The Joe Cocker Medley (see 21st July below) and nobody had thought to bring the written arrangement.  It was great to see Peter & Lesley again and all the staff at The Nose.  Pip was there on the door, with her new man. Val & Zippy were there and Stephanie drove down from Winkleigh to join about two hundred other people for the evenings entertainment.

It was a great reunion for Ray, John and Pete Webber - landlord of The Nose - who used to be The Teens roadie in the good old days.

Dave provided excellent sound as usual and tonight was showing off by working the lights as well.  The show eventually got underway at about a quarter to ten.  It was a great audience and the band rose to the occasion and played their hearts out.  John came onto stage to play Honky Tonk Women while Simon got a beer; and The Joe Cocker Medley went surprisingly well because only the professionals in the audience noticed the few little mistakes.  Ray got a tremendous reaction to Put A Spell On You.  We are trying to get Ray to do this as a duet with his daughter Vanessa (see 4th August below) for the next time we managed to record anything.  Toward the end of the show  Peter and one of his lady friends appeared on stage and joined in for the false tab and finale numbers - Tobacco Road and Born To Be Wild.  A wonderfully emotive end to the performance.

We drove back overnight and I eventually hit the sack just before 6am.  Worth it for an excellent evening with good mates (not to mention ten hours squashed in the car with some of them!) and all  thanks to all the folk at The Pigs Nose.  Can't wait to be invited again !

Nashville Teens with John Hawken guesting on keyboards

John Hawken - too tall for Simon's keyboard

 

 

The Lynton Band with Gordon on bass

Saturday 11th August 2007 I went to Laleham to The Jolly Butcher to see the Jackie Lynton Band

Unfortunately I could only stay for the first set, but the band were extremely good at their music.  Chris wasn't so good on dress sense, and wore some baggy shorts which didn't do his pulling power any favours !   Colin was away so Gordon dep'd on bass guitar.  The band were very buzzy and tight - despite Gordon's inexperience of the numbers; a tribute to his skill at catching on quickly !

Mike had a particularly good night and played some stunning solo's' while Chris showed no sign at all of having fractured his wrist only ten weeks before ! He has a nasty scar along his left wrist where they plated his bones back together, but it doesn't seem to have reduced his dexterity.  Greg was solid on drums and Jack was in Elvis mood (this week is thirty years since the death of his hero). 

The set was great, starting with Chuck Berry, winding through a couple of Jack's own compositions, touching on his Joe Cocker arrangement of Unchain My Heart, and ending with Mess Of The Blues - which is one of Jack's favourites.  I'm sorry I couldn't stay until the end because I'm sure they will have gone out on Let it Rock, which is one of my favourite pieces - especially Chris Bryant's interpretation of the Chuck Berry solo's.

 
Tuesday 7th August 2007 a gang of us took a hire car in to Putney to The Half Moon pub to see The Electric Strawbs with John Hawken.   The journey there and back is a story in itself - but the gig was very good indeed.   This must be one of the few currently performing bands who have the same line-up they had in the seventies.   Dave Cousins and Dave Lambert were amazing on vocals (and of course on rhythm and lead guitars respectively).  John was awesome on his array of keyboards and his moog - and he delighted in flying his damned seagull around the room for four bars longer than the record in the opening of AutumnChas Cronk smiled to himself as he played his bass and from where I was standing I couldn't actually see Rod Coombes on drums, but his timing and tempo were impeccable.
As well as being part of the band's warm-up for The Cropredy Festival later this week, this was actually a "last night" for the Half Moon, which has now closed down for refurbishment.  I got to talk with Chas and Dave C afterwards - Dave recalled that his daughter had told him of meeting me at a photographic course we both attended at Nikon.  I also chatted with John and met his son who is over from the States for a week or two.  I look forward to picking up with John when this tour is over. He plans to stay in the UK for a month and to come to a couple of Nashville Teens gigs. 

Hawken, Cronk and Cousins

 

Vanessa and Peach

Saturday 4th August 2007 - we went to The Percy Lambert pub in Weybridge to see Peach  who are a tight little band fronted by Vanessa Phillips, Ray's daughter.  The band were excellent - very talented musicians with a very tight presentation. Vanessa was equally good - she has her fathers innate talents , not just for singing, but for public performance.

Although we've known Vanessa since she was a schoolgirl, we've never seen her sing or perform on stage before and I suppose I shouldn't be surprised at some of the similarities to her Dad.  She has some of the same mannerisms. Although she doesn't do her Dad's famous pose of covering the microphone with her forearm  (which is a nightmare for the sound engineers because it causes horrible feedback).  Like her Dad she keep time by patting her diaphragm, and on the very rare occasions where she fluffs a line she flashes a stunning smile at her colleagues and then sticks out the tip of her tongue as if she had meant to do it!  She handled her act very confidently and - most importantly - she actually looked as if she personally meant all the words she was singing.  Her voice was good all round, but best on soul songs and on emotional numbers, like Ironic (Alanis Morissette's number).

The rest of the band were great as well - they tackled a very wide range of music and had a very professional air to them.  The drummer kept very good time and bass player obviously had a flair for his instrument - he reminded me in style of George Calvert (who used to play with Alexis Korner, so he's pretty good). Lead guitar and backing vocals was a guy named John.  He was very proficient on the guitar, playing a variety of styles and apparently effortlessly throwing in quite complicated licks and riffs. I guess from some of his work that he might even be classically trained. We will certainly go and see this band again, so I hope I'll get a chance to ask him.

A great little band - we'll certainly make space to go and see Peach again.

 
Saturday 21st July 2007 - not strictly a gig - but a private performance from The Nashville Teens at a rehearsal they had at Southhill Park in Bracknell on Saturday morning.

I have attended a few rehearsals with the band before, but this was the first time I had seen them being overtly creative - even arguing about how songs should sound.   We had all resolved some time ago that they need to add back a few of their old original numbers into their standard set, and maybe a few new medleys.  Today was the invention of the "Joe Cocker Medley" - essentially a blend of The Letter and Unchain My Heart. Both in the same key so the main issues of joining them via piano and guitar solos were to do with timings.  A major problem was that haunting riff from Unchain My Heart - which most of the guys play with other bands they appear with - but in different places - so this took a bit of getting used to.  After three hours with only a short break for the two smokers,  the medley was done and sounded wonderful.  We just need to keep practising until the next gig !

Colin, Simon, Ken and Ray - Spud was off camera to the right

 

Fran McGillivray & Mike Burke

Bloco de Carnaval

Saturday 14th July / Sunday 15th July.  Fran and I visited Hitchin in Hertfordshire and the Rhythms Of the World Festival which was being held all over the town on Saturday and Sunday. The whole town is closed to traffic and there are a variety of stages around the place. Fascinating for me because although I went to school there until 1967, I have rarely ventured back into the town since then.  Most of the performances are by local bands and are - as the title of the event suggests - multicultural.  A bit like WOMAD used to be in Bracknell and then Reading.

We saw many interesting performances, and I'm sorry to say that many of them didn't impress us too much - but I guess all bands have to start somewhere.  Before I confess to grumpy old man syndrome,  I should state that I actually do like modern rap and hip-hop - provided it is musical and presented professionally.  However at this festival two performances stood out for me personally.

One was the Bloco De Carnaval - a group of about a hundred performers who created a Brazilian type of street carnival procession.  All dressed in red and white with about forty women dancers leading sixty mixed sex drummers.  There were four conductors that I could count - making hand signals and blowing shrill little whistles - who controlled the incessant, but tunefully variable drumbeats.  Ahead of then were forty or so ladies who "processed", in a synchronised gyration, through the street to the rhythm of the drums.  It was spectacular, well choreographed, and looked a lot of fun !

The other amazing performance was by Fran McGillivray & Mike Burke, in the hallowed echoes of St Mary's - the medieval church in the Town Centre.   They performed some classics, including an amazing rendition of Willie Dixon's Spoonful, as well as a lot of excellent songs of their own.  When introducing her songs Fran seemed to know a lot about blues roots history and I found out later that she knows Dave Peabody (As well as doing stuff for The King Earl Boogie Band, Dave also lectures "The Blues" at the Royal College of Music).  Their music was good and we played their CD all the way home (three times through!).  I strongly recommend them to anyone who likes jazz/blues/folk fusion and I have started adding their gigs to this webs gig list and to If The Devil listings. 

 

Friday 6th July saw us visiting the playing fields of The Cleve School at Weybridge for the traditional annual King  Earl Boogie Band picnic. After weeks of heavy rain it was at last fine and dry.  George (Les) Calvert couldn't be there because the clutch on his Mondeo had at last succumbed to all those miles he's putting in between Reading and Winkleigh, so Colin Pattenden dep'd for him.  This year the young musicians were on first, and some of them were very good, aged between 10 and 15 they played remarkably professionally.   Then the band took over to demonstrate how it should be done.  An amazing line up,  Ian Campbell (Nashville Teens, Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Thin Lizzy) ; Dave Peabody (three times acoustic blues guitarist of the year); Colin Earl (Mungo Jerry,  Foghat); John Coghlan (Status Quo, Diesel) and Colin Pattenden (Manfred Mann's Earth Band).

As if that wasn't enough, they were joined in the second half by Paul King (Mungo Jerry) and Ray Phillips (Nashville Teens) to make a fairly mind blowing collection of musicians - including a rare appearance of both "King" and "Earl" in the Boogie Band.   An excellent performance, kids and adults alike loved it.  The only downside was that the automatic focus on my camera failed so the picture is blurred.

Blur ! 

 

Backstage view - The teens Rock

Sat 16th June The Nashville Teens appeared at a private party at Titchfield in Hampshire.  The venue was a huge marquee set in a beautiful garden miles from anywhere which might complain about the noise!  It was Naomi's wedding and Colin, Spud and I arrived early to set up the stage and test the sound.  We were joined by Simon and Ken about half past four, so we managed an instrumental soundcheck before the wedding party arrived for their dinner and speeches.
As the bride. Groom and guests started to arrive we made ourselves scarce and headed for a local pub, where we rendezvoused with Ray and we all had some food and drink before returning to the wedding party just after nine in the evening.
The band was loud, the band was tight, and the sound was exceedingly good (despite being in a marquee) - we all had a wonderful evening.   The audience were extremely receptive and the dance floor was consistently packed.
When the gig was eventually over (all too soon) Spud and I struck the drum kit, loaded them into my car and raced for home - leaving poor old Colin to strike the rest of the stage by himself. I decanted Spud and his drums about 1:30am and then raced for home in time to catch an early morning  taxi to the airport.

 
Sunday 10th June - An unexpected gig while surveying the current Antony Gormley art installation at The Hayward Gallery on the South Bank with my friend Stephanie.  There was a weekend carnival going on to celebrate the opening of The Royal Festival Hall after two years refurbishment.  There was plenty of live music. We saw/heard dancers, choirs, and a jazz band - but most memorable was a half hour concert by Billy Bragg.   All very green and third worldly - but excellent despite the political overtones.

 
No pictures, but we paid good money to see Polar Bear at Southhill Park on Saturday 9th June.  A memorable performance, we went with George and Stephanie.  The guys who play in this band are part of a contemporary jazz collective and a favourite with Stephanie.   The music was exciting and as well as traditional instruments - drums, double bass, and tenor sax's - there was a good mix (no pun intended) of electronic music from a skinny guy with the enigmatic name of Leaf-Cutter John  who was sampling the other instruments and a few of his own and playing them back through his laptop and a small mixing deck.  His instruments were a bazuki, a cymbal played with a rosined bow and something which looked very much like a games console).  I am not a natural fan of modern jazz, but I enjoyed this performance very much.  There was one very long number where I lost track of the theme (and started to clap when it wasn't the end!) but even then, although I perhaps didn't appreciate the music - I could see, hear and appreciate the virtuosity and togetherness of the ensemble.

Meanwhile we shall never know whether Leaf-Cutter's name refers to his drug habits, or perhaps his green heritage. Or perhaps his parents were hippies ?  Whatever the reason - he's damned good.

 
On Friday June 8th  we went to The Jolly Farmer pub at Hurst, near Reading to see Boothill play.   Les Calvert provides the driving bass for this gutsy blues band which is fronted by a great singer named Tami Roberts.  Tami cut her teeth as a backing vocalist for Adam & The Ants and Mungo Jerry (which is where George met her).  The band also featured Mark on drums and John  on lead guitar.  It was John's swansong as he is about to emigrate to Spain.  Their gain, he is a very good lead guitarist.  The band were supported for about half their numbers by Jason Manners - who is an amazingly good guitarist.  As well as being very professional and awesomely fast fingered, Jason connects with his audience with passion and soul.  I really look forward to hearing him again at this years Sunsplash Festival .

Was also good to see Keith Allan in the audience, although he hadn't thought to bring his harmonicas so he had to just watch (and drink in time to the music).

Boothill

 

Mike, Colin and Jack

Sunday May 27th  saw a performance by  The Jackie Lynton Band at Scratchers in Godalming.    The band were fresh out of the studio, having spent that afternoon laying down the final two tracks for their next CD - which meant that guitarists Mike and Chris were in particularly good form - both played blinding solo's when called on.

And they were a bit loud.  Colin had one of his "I can't hear the bass so it can't possibly be loud" evenings - which means the foundations of the four hundred year old building probably suffered a bit.  Jack was suffering from a nasty cold and a bad cough , but "The show must go on" - and his vocal range wasn't affected that much.  It also gave him something to whinge about to the audience.  The whole band were extremely tight and despite the odd cough from Jack, we were treated to a brilliant performance.    

There was a big audience, which as well as the usual WAGs included Steve Kemp - whom I last saw in Totnes at two in the morning a few weeks ago - and Keith-The-Stalker,  who seems to have been inexplicably absent for ages, but it's nice to have him back.

 
Saturday 26h May Fran and I visited Sadlers Wells Opera House, for a matinee performance by The Ballet Rambert.  There were two presentations, plus a lively introduction by Mark Baldwin, The ballet's artistic director, and a short presentation of typical warm up exercises for both classical and contemporary dancers to demonstrate the differences in technique.   Because it was a Saturday matinee Baldwin addressed himself to the many children in the audience, but we're all kids at heart and before we all knew it he had the entire audience doing fifth position with our arms !

The first piece was called Anatomica #3, which was a very busy piece which incorporated a little dressing up (the seventeen dancers initially were all dressed as The Queen) and also involved a small mountain of mattresses which the dancers could run up, fall off and jump over.  It was very contemporary in style (lots of torso movement).  As you might guess from the title, it was all about the ways in which the body can move, balance and twist - and was very "gymnastic" in places. An impressive and entertaining piece of dance.  The accompanying music was percussive - drums, pipes, a piano and "some metal bowls from Ikea" !

The second piece was a mixture of contemporary and classic, with a high content of "core" movement (like classical ballerinas) tempered with interesting torso stuff. The music was the four movements of Mozart's Gran Partita. Which, like most of his work, had no percussion and involved wind instruments only.   The ballet was choreographed to the music rather than having the music growing with the dance (as was the case for the Anatomica piece). The theme was "The Grand Party" (Gran Partita) demonstrating a fascinating mix of formal human interaction with informal flirtatious touching and unexplained comings and goings.  Sounds weird, but it was a fascinating and beautiful dance and worked well. The Choreographer was Karole Armitage, who was responsible for arranging the dancing on Madonna's Vogue video.

Overall an excellent piece of entertainment, and I wouldn't mind seeing both dance sets again.

Gran Partita

 
Saturday 19th May at Donington GPLive 2007, I worked with Colin P to provide sound and lights for this excellent King Earl Boogie Band Gig.   No pictures because my camera is still with Mr Nikon for repair (think I will look at Canon next time I upgrade).
The event was the first Veteran Grand prix racing weekend in the UK - sadly not as well advertised as it could have been so the numbers were much smaller than anticipated - but we still got a fine bunch of people into the pit lane in the early evening to dance to the KEBB.   Colin Earl, John Coghlan and George Calvert are all "petrolheads" so they thoroughly enjoyed the day inspecting the static displays of veteran F1 racing cars and enjoying the races. 
The event is not only about veteran racing cars - but about "access" to see how things happen behind the scenes, so we positioned the mobile stage right in the pit lane, and when the gig did start in the early evening the band were all on form.  Both Ian, Dave and John played some blinding solo's and the whole atmosphere was electric.   Unfortunately it was also cold, and after the sun had set the temperature dropped radically, decimating the audience - it was still a good evening though, and a fascinating venue.

 
Sunday 6th May we drove to Shilton in the Cotswolds to see The King Earl Boogie Band performing at John Coghlan's local,  The Rose and Crown.  This was a special gig because it was Colin Earl's 65th birthday.  We all celebrated by singing Happy Birthday To You, and then sang along while the band played In The Summertime.  

The pub is quite small and was packed.  As well as Fran, Stephanie, Jane and Gilly,  we also saw Dave (John's drum roadie) and his partner Suzie - and we were pleased that Keith Allan turned up on his smart red Ducati motorbike.   He brought his harmonica with him and guested with the KEBB to sing and blow Hoochie Coochie Man.   The gig rolled from just after 4pm until almost 7pm - a great entertainment.

Keith singing with The KEBB

 


Soundcheck in Totnes

Saturday 28th April - I set off mid morning with a car loaded with drum kit and amplifiers to set up for the evenings gig at The Royal Seven Stars Hotel in Totnes, where The Nashville Teens were playing at a private function that evening.  Colin had arrived the previous evening with PA and lighting rigs. He came and joined me when I arrived at 1pm and by 6.30pm we had built the stage, the PA, the lighting, found all the band members and done a fairly comprehensive soundcheck - not bad going. 

A fascinating bunch of people came to celebrate Sally's fiftieth birthday.  The weather had been still and warm all day making the room very hot so during the pre-music buffet bit of the party quite a lot of our potential audience had wandered outside to cool off in the evening air on a large balcony area next to the hall.  The music quickly brought them back in and the dance floor was full for most of the night.  We performed two 45 minute sets ending at 11:30pm.  The job of striking the stage cannot really start until everybody had gone, but I did manage to get the drum kit packed away into my car before the final disco had wound up.  It still took Colin and I from midnight until 2:30am to get all the PA and lighting equipment packed, carted downstairs and loaded into his car.  That is thirteen and a half hours work (excluding travelling - which made it up to a twenty hour day) just to put on 90 minutes of music.  It is worth it though - they are an exceedingly good band !

 
Thursday 26th April  We attended Jim Carswell's funeral and then the wake - which was held at The Stag and Hounds at Binfield. It was a wonderful affair because it really celebrated everything Jim loved - and one of those things was live music - so the wake featured The Ian Campbell Blues Band who rocked the mourners from 8pm till 11pm and by the end of the day all we were all remembering Jim as he was before his awful accident.

 
Thursday 19th April  We drove to Oatlands Village near Weybridge to see Paul King's Skeleton Crew playing The Prince Of Wales Pub.   This was much better than the gig I attended here with John and Chas (see Thursday 8th March) because we were in the front bar where the acoustics are great.  

 

The Nashville Teens at Fat Lil's

Saturday 17th March - Easter Saturday - we made the pilgrimage to Fat Lil's Nightclub in Witney, to see The Nashville Teens play a stupendous gig.  I went early with the Band - although we arrived in Witney later than planned because of the "curse of the horsebox" en route.  The girls turned up at a much more civilized hour, just in time to catch the performance; and it was great to see Sarah and Alan there, all the way from Herne Bay in Kent !

The gig is a lovely little club in Witney - well appointed and extremely musician friendly (free beer, pizza etc) - sadly it wasn't very crowded which must have been a financial burden for the couple who manage it.  However, the audience did include an extremely noisy and outgoing bunch of girls celebrating a birthday - so the dance floor was always packed and everybody had a great time.  Paradoxically, the place began to fill up after midnight (the live music licence runs until midnight - it is a disco then until 3am.)

The performance went very well despite Spuds wrist injury and Rays laryngitis.  He made it all the way through, but his friends could tell he was having difficulty with chord changes and was fighting uphill for the last three numbers.  Let's hope his voice repairs before the next gig in three weeks time.

 
Monday 19th March  I drove myself over to Oxford to The Bullingdon, a pub on The Cowley Road, and home of Philip Guy-Davis's Famous Monday Blues Club

I arrived about 8 o'clock in time to witness the end of the sound check for The King Earl Boogie Band.   The gig didn't start until 9pm so we all trekked round the corner to another pub where the beer was cheaper and there was some football on the TV.  It was good to see everyone, especially George (Les) who had just returned from Devon with news from my friend Stephanie.  John Coghlan was in good form - looking like a sort of Gipsy gansta in his homburg hat.  It was good to catch up with Dave and Colin, but Ian had managed to go to the wrong pub-round-the-corner!  However, he apparently managed to enjoy himself without us and I had to catch up with his news in the gig.

The band have some new works - more Dave Peabody songs - which are very impressive. I watched the first half and took a load of photo's to bring their web site up to date,  but unfortunately had to leave at half time because I was planning to be out and away early next morning and the combination of a midnight finish followed by a forty mile drive home just didn't seem viable.

The KEBB play to an appreciative audience

 

Sketch

Saturday 17th March Fran and I were guests at a private party at The Moat House Hotel at Shepperton where we saw Sketch, a four piece band with a interestingly catholic spread of music.
Their repertoire was good, but the presentation was unpolished - this is perhaps an unfair judgement because most of the bands we go to see are supremely professional and have all made - and some still are making - a living from music, while these guys were talented amateurs.  The singer had also only been with them for a matter of weeks.  The imbalance perhaps seemed greater because we were sitting on a table with three very professional musicians who have all had top twenty (and several number one) hits. (Manfred Mann and Hermans Hermits)
Sketch's drummer was solid and kept good time, the singer was very good for most of the night, but had run out of steam and was just shouting by the time we got to the end.  He did handle the microphone well and had a good stage presence.  The lead guitar was competent, but kept turning up the volume. He also delivered some cringe making and discordant, key changes when progressing through the medleys they played, but didn't seem to notice.  The bass player appeared to be on  different planet and spent most of the evening pretentiously playing the neck of his five string Warwick. Sadly he seemed to be playing a different tune (the same one all the time) whatever the number, with the exception of their Chuck Berry medley, where he suddenly woke up and played his guitar properly.
Overall they were good entertainment, and although they flagged towards the end, they produced some fine music of the modern idiom - their Kaiser Chiefs,  and Razorlight stuff was very good;  and the singer did a very good cabaret act around their version of The Kinks You Really Got Me,  in which he got Chrissie White to bang a tambourine while he danced around the dance floor singing to her.  A good job he didn't know that Christine knows the original band personally !

 
Thursday 8th March I went to Weybridge with Colin Earl (Mungo Jerry) and John Hawken & Chas Cronk (The Strawbs) to see Skeleton Crew playing at The Prince Of Wales pub.  The band were good, but it is just about the worst venue for music I have ever experienced.  About 40 or 50 people crammed (and I mean uncomfortably jammed)  into the small front bar could actually hear the music; the rest of us just couldn't make it all out.  We were not more than twenty-five feet away, but shielded by a wall and the heave of people so we only really heard the bass.  Chas even commented at one point that he thought Paul must be taking a break because he couldn't hear the bass anymore.
Most of our gang left at the end of the first half,  I stayed through a couple of numbers from the second half, talking to a really nice couple named Paul and Alison, but the music was lost in the crappy venue so I eventually left.  I don't think I'll make that thirty five mile round trip again - the venue really doesn't do Paul's magnificent music any favours.

 
Drove to Godalming on 4th March 2007 to Scratchers (The Three Lions) to see the first Jackie Lynton gig since his operation.  I had intended staying for only the first half of the gig - but it was so good that I had to stop until the end.  Everyone was blindingly good on their solos and really tight when together. The band were all having fun, in fact during his "funk" solo in High Heeled Sneakers, Chris snuck in the riff from Summer Holiday which made everyone else laugh.  Jack's vocals were on top form and for once the landlord didn't keep asking Colin Pattenden to turn down !   Because I hadn't intended stopping I didn't have my camera with me - so no pictures for this report.  

 

Cio Cio San - Madame Butterfly

March 3rd 2007 a classical gig.  I took my Mother and her friend Rosemary to The Royal Albert Hall to see the matinee performance of Madame Butterfly.  An excellent opera which was on this occasion performed "in the round".  I had taken my mother and her friend, so we had  first balcony level seats on the disabled platform with a first class view of the acting area and a great view of the orchestra.

The show was sung in English which is not my favourite language for opera because you can understand too many words!  I find that this distracts me from the energy and passion of the emotion of such works.  Despite it being sung in English, I was surprised that the lady who sang Cio Cio San was actually Japanese !    It was a first class show and we were breathless when Cio Cio San committed suicide - horribly realistically - in the centre of the arena.   The entire cast were good and the scenery was absolutely right for this interpretation.  The stage arena was flooded with a central wooden stage area surmounted by an open "house" with paper blinds and long curtains which were used to both reveal and hide the centre of the house.  There were several wooden walkways crossing the "lake" to allow people to enter and leave the set and the whole "lake" was surrounded by a walkway upon which odd characters sat or wandered by, just as if the action was happening in a real neighbourhood with other activities going on around.

Sadly this is almost the end of the run - last night is 4th so it will be over by the time anyone reads this.

 
Not really a gig - but a lot of fun with a load of musicians !  March 2nd was a surprise dinner for Jackie Lynton at The Commodore restaurant in Byfleet.    There was a musician - a quite useful bloke with a good vocal range who sang (just a bit too loudly) for three hours in a corner of the restaurant.  I don't think he knew who his audience were because he sang at least two songs which had been written by people in the restaurant ! 

Among the audience were Paul King (Mungo Jerry); Colin Pattenden (Manfred Mann's Earth Band); Ray Phillips (Nashville Teens);   Chris Bryant (Crazy World of Arthur Brown); Greg Terry-Short and Mike Windus (Jackie Lynton Band) and Grahame White (Wombles).  We had apologies from many who couldn't make it, including Rick Parfitt of Status Quo.  Jack is without doubt a "musicians, musician". 

We all had a great evening and marvelled at how Jack was recovering so quickly from his operation (about ten days ago).  He is planning to sing on Sunday - you can't keep a good man down.

Jackie Lynton ,  Ray Phillips,   Paul King

 

Geoff Ward, Ray Phillips, Colin Pattenden and Paul King

17th February 2007 Fran and I drove to The Pyrford Working Men's Club to see Paul King and Skeleton Crew forging ahead with their comeback to the Home Counties. 

I continue to be blown away by this band. I've heard a lot of Paul King records, but not seen a lot of his work until the last few months - and I am amazed at what a great voice - what a great performer - what a great song-writer Paul is.  His music mix is very reminiscent of the earthy folk/rock feel which used to pervade Les Cousins Club in the sixties - which is my idea of Heaven.

As well as some of his own stuff, Paul still sings a lot of "favourites" like Midnight Special; San Francisco bay Blues and Dust Pneumonia Blues;   and he also throws in three or four Bob Dylan songs, which he interprets really well. I was particularly impressed with the bands rendition of A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall - which is one of my favourite pieces of poetry.

Ray Phillips of The Nashville Teens was in the audience and Paul couldn't resist inviting him up to sing a couple of numbers in the second half.  A brilliant evening all round.

 
On 10th February 2007 Fran and I took ourselves into London to visit  The Royal Opera House in Covent Garden.  We actually had two visits; the first was a conducted backstage tour in the afternoon , and the second was an evening visit to see  The Royal Ballet performing Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake.  All this was a wonderful Christmas present from Fran.

The backstage tour was excellent.  We saw the design and costume departments as well as one of the six full stage size rehearsal rooms for ballet dancers. We learned just how huge the Royal Opera House is, and how many pianos they have (53 !). The piéce-de-resistance was seeing the backstage area which is AWESOME.  It is like a huge warehouse a good ten times the stage area (which itself is quite big at 225 square metres) and twice as high as the proscenium (the flies actually go up three times as high into a purpose built fly tower.)  The scenery is all built on 15x3 metre pallets which slide about the floor of this huge warehouse area like a gigantic "slide the squares" puzzle - all computer controlled.  While we were there the stage was in use for a full dress rehearsal of the BAFTA Awards scheduled for the following night. We were planning to see a performance of Swan Lake in just three hours time and the scenery for it's four acts was already set up ready to roll.   By comparison, the auditorium is just a small room stuck onto the side of this huge warehouse space !

From the inside the auditorium is warm red velvet and apparently huge in its own right (it seats well over 2000 and is usually sold out).  The performance started promptly at 7pm. The orchestra were great, the ballet dancers were all brilliant, especially the leading lady, Zenaida Yanowsky  as Odette/Odile and Kenneth Greve as prince Siegfried - both incredibly tall for ballet dancers. The sets were wonderful - a sort of organic baroque - mostly wire or tubular metal shapes with a very Art Nouveau feel but clearly placed in the seventeenth century. I think this may be the best performance of Swan Lake I have ever seen - it was totally mesmerising.
 

Zenaida Yanowsky as Odette

 

 

Skeleton Crew above, Lynton
band below.

 

3rd February 2007 I took myself over to Laleham, near Staines, to the Jolly Butchers pub to see The Jackie Lynton Band playing. there was a promised guest appearance by Paul King so the pub was packed - with loads of old friends and loads of Mungo Jerry fans. The WAGs were out in force, Jackie, Pat and Martha (who always drags me up to dance and then talks to me in Irish which I don't understand) as well as the usual crew of JLB supporters. Sadly Fran didn't make it because of her current knee trouble.

Jack was very good - as usual - and told the whole audience about his pending visit to hospital (which we have all been a bit quiet about, obviously unnecessarily). We were all pleased that Chris Bryant is much improved since the last gig - where he had to play sitting down because of his motor bike crash. 

About half way through Jack's performance he stopped and invited Paul King and Geoff Ward to step in and join Colin Pattenden - making up the current line up of Skeleton Crew.  They also kept Greg Terry-Short on drums and brought Chris Bryant back in for a couple of numbers - it was a short, but turbo-charged Skeleton Crew performance starting with a fantastic rendition of one of my favourite Dylan numbers - A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall.

After five numbers from the augmented Skeleton Crew, Jack returned to the floor to complete his set, but he invited Paul up to accompany him on harmonica for the last two numbers. A fantastic evening.
 

 
20th January 2007 I raced on from the afternoon event at Windsor (see below) to the Knaphill Working Men's Club to see my first live musical performance of 2007.  It was The Jackie Lynton Band

This is the first time they have played this venue and it's very nice with a sociable crowd who enjoyed dancing.  The band were very good although off stage you might think they would need re-naming as "Jackie Lynton's Geriatrics" !   Chris Bryant had to play sitting down because he had torn lots of muscles in his back in an horrific motor bike accident a few weeks ago - he is lucky to still be alive ; Colin was nursing his cranky knee;  Jack is soon going into hospital for a minor operation, but was obviously feeling very mortal ; Mike - like Chris - is diabetic and was continually checking his blood sugar level; while Greg was just plain morose for no better reason than he hadn't played for five weeks!  He soon cheered up though because tonight he played brilliantly, and perked up a lot to tell me how proud he is of his son who is drumming at the Musical Academy in Guildford.

Having relayed all that -  from the audience point of view they would never have guessed the apparent problems backstage because the band all played brilliantly and all agreed that it had been a good gig.  the audience loved them too.

 

 

20th January 2007   We went to The Theatre Royal at Windsor to see the matinee performance of TREATS.  A three person play starring Billie Piper.  The set and lighting were terrific, the acting was good.  You couldn't really fault the casting because Piper was the only female character.  However her character was a "victim" in a ménage a trois, so she was playing a passive role rather than the lead. Unfortunately for all the cast, the play itself was very weak.  It started well with good potential, introducing the three characters and positioning their relationships in a love triangle with each other very well,  but then - instead of developing a story, or mapping a change of the character of each of the participants - the play just went on to show that the female character was still a victim. There was no moral other than "if you are a victim it is pointless to rebel".

The set was interesting - instead of a regular curtain there was a huge gift wrapped parcel facing the audience, entirely filling the stage.  The lid lifted to become the sloping ceiling of the living room set in which all the story was placed. and the front of the parcel slid up into the flies rather like a well wrapped safety curtain.  In fact, this was the only "treat" in the whole play !    After the interval there was a malfunction and the "lid" opened lopsided and prevented the "curtain" from rising.  The manager hastily announced a ten minute extra interval while they fixed it.   

I still rate Piper as one of the best emerging actresses of the decade, she has already demonstrated that she is very talented as a pop star and a TV actress - but she has picked a very pedestrian vehicle in which to showcase her stage talents. I hope she does well.


START OF 2007