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Stewart Copeland returns to the UK witH 'Lights Up The Orchestra'

 To be perfectly honest anything that has the name Stewart Copeland attached to it for me sparks my interest big time, i've been a fan of the man's work since the late 1970's  when I first encountered the music of The Police, This continued with the great man's film score work and then things went to a whole other level  with the supergroup Gizmodrome in the last 18 months. 

These shows promise to be something very special and I for one cannot wait to see the whole spectacular shebang in the wonderful surroundings of the Birmingham Symphony Hall on March 26th. 

Whatever you do...grab a ticket for one of these shows either in the UK or across Mainland Europe during March, don't read the reviews (and mine will be one of them) the following day and wish you had attended. 


Audiences can expect an evening packed with epic music from the post-punk powerhouse songs of The Police, to Copeland’s best known film scores including Francis Ford Coppola’s Rumble Fish and Oliver Stone’s Wall Street. From the musical odyssey of Rhythmatist to the Main Theme from The Equalizer with a dash of Spyro the Dragon for good measure. Co-arranged and conducted by musical director Troy Miller (multi-instrumentalist, composer, conductor and Ivor Novello award winning producer, who has worked with an array of artists from Jamie Cullum, Laura Mvula and Gregory Porter, as well as orchestras such as the London Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia and BBC Concert Orchestras) the performances promise to be a pulsating opportunity to journey through Copeland’s catalogue. 

With more than three decades spent at the forefront of contemporary music as a rock star, acclaimed film composer as well in the worlds of opera, ballet, world and chamber music, Stewart Copeland is a multi-talented and crucial figure in the global music scene.  

Steely Dan: Resorts World Arena, Birmingham 23/02/2019

Steely Dan & Steve Winwood: 

Resorts World Arena, Birmingham

23/02/2019


It’s fair to say that ever since I first heard Steely Dan on the radio back in the late 1970’s I’ve been a huge fan, no way was I going to miss only the bands second show in Birmingham since 2007’s ‘Heavy Rollers’ Tour (and only missed the 2009 show because I was at another gig) 


But before ‘The Dan’ hit the stage we were treated to a magnificent hour long set from Birmingham legend Stevie Winwood, and what a set it was. During that 60 mins we got songs from right across Mr Winwood’s career including tracks from Traffic, Spencer Davis Group, Blind Faith and solo songs too.


Steve Winwood kicked off with a stunning version of ‘I’m A Man’ but the highlight for me in the set was the incredible version of Blind Faith’s ‘Can’t Find My Way Home’.....to be honest you couldn’t fault any song during this faultless set and it was a real pleasure to witness ‘Keep On Running’, ‘Higher Love’ and ‘Dear Mr Fantasy’ live.....the set closed with ‘Gimme Some Lovin’ before the whole arena stood to celebrate what they had just witnessed. 


Most of Steely Dan hit the stage just before 9pm and gave us the perfect insight to the musical masterclass we were about to witness over the next two hours with the instrumental ‘Cubano Chant’, but it was emergence of the man in black that we were all waiting for.....the legend that is Donald Fagen.

 

Donald took his place behind the keys at the front of the stage as the phenomenal drummer Keith Carlock led us into the awesome ‘Bodhisattva’ (my personal favourite Steely Dan track) before wheeling out ‘Hey Nineteen’, ‘Black Friday’, ‘Aja’ & ‘Green Earrings’.....this place was seriously feeling the funky vibe tonight!!! 

After fantastic versions of ‘Black Cow’ & ‘Time Out Of Mind’ Donald Fagen welcomed Steve Winwood back on stage for a sublime version of ‘Pretzel Logic’.....this really was something to behold and the packed arena certainly made their feelings known with a rapturous ovation.


‘Kid Charlemagne’ was up next before a stunning version of ‘Dirty Work’ with the vocals supremely delivered by backing singers The Danette’s, that was followed by ‘Peg’ and ‘Home At Last’ before the band introductions during The Crusaders ‘Keep That Same Old Feeling’......and what a band it is with Jon Herington supplying those magical Walter Becker guitar licks in front of an incredible back line horn section.....this is a band of the highest order. 


Phenomenal renditions of ‘Josie’ & ‘My Old School’ closed the main set before Donald Fagen announced that they weren’t going to bother with that whole charade of going off before the encore and just kept the vibe going with an insane version of ‘Reelin In The Years’ complete with a Keith Carlock drum solo (check this guy out on YouTube.....he is a very special player) 


The band alone finished the show with a version of Joe Williams ‘A Man Ain’t Supposed To Cry’ and what a show it had been, the crowds who have flocked to see Steely Dan on this long overdue UK Tour have been treated to some amazing shows, packed full of classic tunes and played by some of the very best musicians out there.


There are critics out there who feel after the death of Walter Becker that Steely Dan should have called it a day, that is their opinion and they are entitled to it, but after this performance tonight why should Donald Fagen call it quits, will we see Steely Dan back in the UK again? Who knows.....but I tell you one thing.....they will be welcomed back by the 10,000 open arms who witnessed this stunning show tonight in Birmingham. 

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Blue Oyster Cult & The Temperance Movement: O2 Institute, Birmingham 27/02/2019

Blue Oyster Cult & The Temperance Movement: O2 Institute, Birmingham 

27/02/2019


In 39 years of attending gigs & festivals I’ve managed to tick pretty much all the bands I’ve wanted to see play live off my list.....of course there are a handful that slipped through the net for one reason or another, Blue Oyster Cult fall into that net slipping category.....time to put that right tonight.


Before BOC hit the stage there was the matter of ‘support act’ The Temperance Movement who’ve I’ve seen 7/8 times over the last few years and Interviewed on many occasions, it’s fair to say I’m a fan of the band. 


The Temperance Movement are a stunning live act, each show is full of energy (Phil Campbell was like a whirling dervish) and they have the songs to back it up too, the set list tonight concentrated on the first & third albums.....nothing from the second, but when you cram tracks like ‘Only Friend’, ‘Ain’t No Telling’, ‘Take It Back’ & ‘Built In Forgetter’ into a 45 minute support slot.....who cares, this was a cracking set, I reckon TTM grabbed a load of new fans last night.....and rightly so. 


The O2 Institute was packed to the rafters for the visit of BOC and the atmosphere had built nicely during the switch over between sets, the lights dimmed and the band sauntered onstage to the music from ‘Game Of Thrones’ which went on a little too long.....this sadly was a feature of the evening. 


Basically last night BOC put together a decent show, there were some real high points such as ‘Before The Kiss, A Recap’, ‘Harvest Moon’ & my personal fave of the show ‘The Vigil’ which I thought was magnificent.....the band are all fine musicians and clearly have a whale of a time playing together, which at times they tended to labour that point. 


‘Bucks Boogie’ was enjoyable and so was ‘Then Came The Last Days Of May’ from the bands debut album, both fine tracks and both performed perfectly but there was something missing from the show.....the interaction between Eric Bloom & Buck Dharma towards the audience just wasn’t there, they surely couldn’t have envisioned getting packed houses so late in their career, especially when they’ve not produced new material in a long while.....they’d do well to remember that. 


The end of the main set was what some parts of the crowd had mainly come to see.....the curious ‘fan favourite’ track ‘Godzilla’ (never seen the appeal) certainly livened up some members of the top balcony crowd but they were pulled back down almost instantly with the overly tedious Buck Dharma guitar solo.....then it was time for the ‘hit’......it was ‘Reaper’ time.....it’s a nailed on classic and quite rightly so, it’s the song that BOC are and will always be remembered for. 


The encore tracks ‘In Thee’ (a tribute to original member Allan Lanier) and the Richie Castellano led ‘Hot Rails To Hell’ brought the evening to a close.....the evening generally had been a big success, the majority of the crowd went home happy (the couple next to me though had differing views on the performance) and I had managed to tick BOC off my huge gig list, I’m glad I did but I wouldn’t be rushing to see them a second time.....it left me feeling like I had seen half of a great gig, and half a gig of a band going through the motions at times.


The Temperance Movement were just awesome though......as a member of the audience yelled out to them, and she was bang on!!!!! 

Dave Matthews Band 12/03/2019 @Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith

It’s been four years since DMB hit the UK and in my opinion it’s been way too long, I’ll be brutally honest.....I absolutely love this band and have no problem travelling to see them whenever they hit these shores, I will say though that as it’s been 9 years since the band have played Birmingham & 10 years since they hit Wolverhampton.....a Midlands date is long overdue. 

What you get at a DMB concert is a masterclass of musicianship, a song that is six minutes long one night could very well be eighteen minutes long at the next show, the DMB don’t exactly follow any kind of rules.....they play by feel, and that is what makes them one of the greatest live bands on the planet. 

‘Seek Up’ is the opening song of the night and at almost twenty mins long is an interesting introduction for any newbies tonight in Hammersmith, this is followed by the powerful and completely brilliant ‘Don’t Drink The Water’.....a song that every time I hear it gets the hairs standing up on the back of my neck, such is the passion that Dave puts into each word. 

It’s my tenth time of being in the same room as Dave Matthews (8 as the DMB and 2 under the Dave & Tim mantle) and I’ve never seen anything that even resembles a similar set list to the previous show, I was blown away by the storming version of ‘Louisiana Bayou’ a track I’ve not seen live since 2007.....’You Might Die Trying’ & ‘Samurai Cop’ were utterly mesmerising.....what a show this was turning out to be. 

The bands version of The Zombies ‘Time Of The Season’ is always very welcome in the set and this was followed by the brilliant ‘Stand Up’ in which Dave prowls around the stage with his now trademark crazy dance moves, all this as he gives those guitar strings a real work out. 

The first time many of us in the UK came across the DMB was in an advert when some random girl was giving her far too high rendition of ‘The Space Between’ (can’t remember what the ad was for) but there was no out of tune notes tonight as Dave and the guys filled this iconic venue with a superb version of the song from the 2001 album ‘Everyday’

‘Excellent versions of ‘Can’t Stop’, ‘Lying In The Hands Of God’ & ‘Funny The Way It Is’ were played on the home straight of the show before the opening bars of my personal favourite track ‘#41’ filled the hall.....there are good tracks, there are great tracks and then there is ‘#41’......it’s only been the fourth time I’ve visited this wonderful venue but I’ve never heard anything sound as good as this song did tonight in this hall. 

‘Rapunzel’ was the final track of the main set.....a real fan favourite and it was lapped up by the not quite but as near as damn it capacity crowd, the encore was a two song affair.....’Sister’ and the DMB’s well trodden version of ‘All Along The Watchtower’......and then that was it, night one of a two night residence done & dusted, I feel rather envious of the folk who have tickets for the second show!!!! 

My only complaint of the evening is that I really wish that people would not use concerts as an opportunity to have stupidly loud conversations with their friends......you know who you are, so do us all a favour and go down the pub instead, don’t ruin other people’s evenings with your boring stories of meetings & office politics.....because we really don’t need to hear it at a concert!!!! 

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