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Gigs 1999

I have been keeping this list of gigs I have attended and often written reviews for friends. It might interest someone so I have decided to put it online. I have tried to go to a lot of gigs in recent times as that is the only enjoyment worth aggravating my ME for but I am afraid it still affects the reviews.

Bob Catley And Emerald Rain - Midway Park Hotel Castleton - 22 January 1999

The Function Room of this Hotel was perhaps 30m by 50m with the stage on the short length and a bar up the other end. I call it a stage but it was a large riser only about 20cm high. The room was full of tables which worried the band and audience alike. It was almost like being at a wedding reception some people thought. Luckily the place filled up nicely and when emerald rain took to the stage at 9:50 people went and stood at the front forcing anyone else that wanted to stand too. Emerald rain played about 45 Minutes. I thought they were OK but someone on my table didn't like the singer's voice. I must confess I didn't register it as being that bad.

I knew their last number from sampler discs on two magazines I take and although I was not that struck by the overall discs Emerald rain's track was one I liked.

Just after 11pm Bob hit the stage and performed a cracking show. I think the set was as the Live at the Gods CD and I would recommend it to anyone based on tonight's show. I personally thought the songs on "The Tower" great but I didn't like the production or something. Live I had none of these troubles. Bob's band was Emerald rain (The vocalist now doing backing vocals and occasional acoustic guitar) plus Hard Rain's Paul Hodgeson on Keyboards. The rapport on stage was great with everyone messing about and having fun. The set being 75mins was a little to short but it was a good night out.

Blues Band - Ipswich Corn Exchange - 20 February 99

An Excellent gig. Much better than Last time since we got an Acoustic Set in support and then an Electric song. There was a surprising about of change in the set too. It is good too see how much fun the band have. And of course no Blues Band concert is complete without Paul getting the audience to "make love" as part of the sing along

Roy Wood - Norwich Theatre Royal - 8th March 1999

There is not a lot of point me writing this review as it is much the same as I have been writing since I first saw the Woody Big Band in 1992-3. I Went to Norwich expecting to hear Beautiful Daughter which has been added to the set recently. I thought great at least the set has changed. But the further we got into the set the more doubtful it was it was going to appear until blow me over he came back for the Encore of "I wish it could be Xmas". This is so very annoying. Is he trying to kill of the only gig base he has? I really don't understand Roy. The Highlight of the set for me was Roy Revenge the instrumental but that is only because it is to newest thing. The "new" tracks *are* still coming out on the Live album eventually. A feature I don't recall before was a Cup of Tea being brought out. He blew his nose again. Is this part of the act now? I don't think he had any cold this time.

The army uniforms aren't as nice as the old stage cloths but I guess not as bad a I feared.

I will probably stick up some phone on my web space at the weekend.

The set with Encore probably only just exceeds 70 mins. Of course I enjoyed what I got I just wish it had changed and was longer

Uriah Heep - The Waterfront Norwich - 10 March 1999

This is the second time I have seen Heep and the second time on this tour. This was a far superior concert to the one at the Forum in London last year. The Venue is fairly small. I guess about 15m deep and 50m wide. I suspect it could hold about 600-700 people and last night was probably 2/3's full. Hopefully enough to bring Heep back again. The Night started with Deadline as a support act. They were OK but nothing special. Praying Mantis would have been a lot better :-).

The stage area was raised a couple of foot and was also thin. So I had problems seeing Mick Box clearly but then I was stood 5m back on the right side. The Mix here was so much better. The forum had been appalling (from where I was stood). Obviously being on the Bass side of stage that was a bit up on the mix but it was still a good round sound. The set was also significantly lengthen this time. I assume the extra tracks coming from Sea Of Love and Sonic Origami. I did not register any "new" old tracks (like Sunrise which I had not heard before the Forum) to me. Looking back at the set list from the Forum we did get more Classic tracks. And Look At Yourself was expanded from stuff I have seen on previous tours.

The band were all in good humour as usual and I really enjoyed the night. I would really like to go to the forum on Saturday and see them again but since this was a standing venue I will never be recovered in time.

Porcupine Tree - Colchester Arts Centre - 8 April 1999

This was a very unusual gig for me. That last time I saw a band without knowing most of the Material that was played was Probably a Santana or Jethro Tull one years ago. (And that was only because they caught me out with unusual tracks). Actually I guess it was Squeeze last year but even with them I knew a fair bit. Porcupine Tree I have only heard 3 tracks by 3 times. There was a support act that kept talking about a Radio two session they had done but they never named themselves. They had a Sax Keyboards and Guitar and they were OK until the singer started. The music completely lacked paces and seemed to be about Atmospherics. They did five tracks (I think) and that was more than enough :-).

Porcupine Tree came on stage around 9.20 and did a 1hr 35-40 set. I am not sure what I made of it really. After an hour it was completely going over my head (and I was desparately looking for somewhere to sit! I eventually find the back of a chair to lean on. But it didn't help I had started switching off) . It seemed very drug induced laid back music with occasional peaks of excitement. I have to say it reminding me of what the Velvet Underground must have been like in the early days. The Art centre is a converted standard UK size church and I guess it holds in the region of 300-400 and judging by the spaces between the audience was half full. It was a nice place but obviously small and friendly. It did not stop the band using lights effectively and having slides and projections of the back of the stage. The music was sort of OK but I was not convinced I would like it enough to buy a CD on the night. I found it interesting the the Guitarist/Singer is the guy that has been co-writing with Fish on his last two solo albums.

Lyadrive (With Groundhogs and Blackfoot Sue) - 30 April 1999

I thoroughly enjoyed Lyadrive who were third on the bill. I stayed for a bit of Blackfoot Sue but since I did not know their stuff my adrenaline stopped pumping and I died so I went home without seeing Groundhogs (Except in Soundcheck)

ELO Part II with the London Philharmonic Orchestra 28 May 99

We arrived for the concert about 15 minutes late after making a bad decided to cross central London on the inner ring road. Louis Clarke and the London Philharmonic had obviously started the gig at 7.30 on the dot and were half way through a set of Beatles songs. They were OK but nothing special. I think the use of a drummer makes it really cheap and tacky.

The Royal Albert Hall is of course a lovely round arena with about 4 tears of seating in the circles. All but the top layer seemed to be full. My position was perfect. 4th from the centre on the front row. I could not believe it the day I booked it and I couldn't believe it on the night. It must have been because I was tipped off about the gig on the ELO list.

I almost felt too close to the band to start with. As I have noticed at ELO gigs before the sound isn't that loud and it was only a tiny speaker the band were playing through during there lone part of the set. I was trying to hear Mik's violin in the mix to hear was he was playing and obviously starring just a little too hard as Mik noticed and seemed to acknowledge my interest in his playing. I noticed several times during the night he made eye contact when I was watching him. It was interesting to be watched watching a band :-).

At first I got the impression the band were a little stiff and going through the motions a little. There was the occasional little bit of messing about but it seemed slightly forced. I guess after 1hrs the Orchestra returned and it was interesting to see how Bev Bevan had to adjust to playing while watching Louis Clark. It also eventually occurred to me that the Double Bass section probably couldn't see Louis as the drum riser was in the way. It's didn't seem to cause any trouble though and I thought it was an excellent all round show. I love Kelly's Vocals and thought Eric Troyer's voice was good to. I wasn't so sure about Hux the new guy but I like his touches on guitar during the night.

The Band eventually did seem to get into it more and the crowd and definitely me seemed to think Concerto for the Rainy day/Mr Blue Sky was the best bit of the night. It was nice to hear songs like Eldorado being done along with the hits. I was slightly disappoint the 10538 Overture was done by the band alone as that one obviously used a lot of strings on the original. Perhaps with so many violins in the orchestra would have raised it's pitch too much. There was a violin player on the front of the left seemed to be having a good night when not playing. You don't really expect it from Orchestra members so it was good to see.

It was an excellent night and well worth going.

Rick Wakeman - Norwich and Bury St Edmunds Cathedrals - 10-11 June 99

I took in two nights of this tour and I am glad I did as my health the first night left me feeling rather unsure of the night. Taking in the 2nd night (and not have my children visit prior to the concert!) meant I was able to appreciate the concert for the excellent night it was. Also the 2nd half started differently on the 2nd night.

The opening number was Birdman of Alcatraz which showed signs of a promising sets of different numbers to the last tour.

Next up Ramon Remedios joined Rick for Await the Hour from the Gospels. He came out speaking another Language until Rick Pointed out he was from Liverpool. Rick also pointed out there had been a mistake on the poster and Ramon was now Rambo. The first night there were a few Jokes about Ramon going outside to steal some hub caps etc but not the 2nd night. It is interesting to see how the two nights differed and although Rick and Ramon obviously follow a certain routine, they are still human and therefore adlib a bit.

Nursery Rhyme Concerto was next and it was back to the familiar intro for this. The audience that have heard it before still seem to find it amusing though.

I was then slightly disappointed by Rick doing Dance of a 1000 lights while Ramon went and conducted the Orchestra and Choir out in the car park ie they played a backing tape. I guess Rick needed to promote Return at the concerts but from a fan point of view I think it would have been nice to see what he could come up with in the way of a solo arrangement. Rick is so good at doing this I am sure he could have figured something out.

Ramon returned and we got A Wish and Welcome a star with the story of Rick's first performance of the Gospels and the choir never having heard the piece in full and Robert Powell having hurt and leg and being on Morphine. Rick therefore had to nod at appropriate moments in the performance and when it started going well he accidentally nodded to say "it's going well isn't it" and they all came in wrong.

The penultimate song of the first half was Merlin the Magician complete with change of Keyboard for the last crazy patch. For this he choose someone from the audience to come up and hold his sustain peddle. I think he choose the people from the same position each night but I won't say where :-)

The final song of the set was Nessun Dorma which was used in the World Cup some years back. This was at Ramon's request and when Rick started to play he started with "Nellie the Elephant" because he had misread Ramon's letter.

Set 2 at Norwich started with Rick mentioning he had helped David Bowie arrange Hunky Dory. However at Bury St Edmunds Rick came back on from the back of the Cathedral in his KGB uniform and gave a long story about how he got it out of Russia. I don't know why it didn't happen the first night and I forgot to ask Rick. It was a nice bonus for me to get something extra the 2nd night though. He then played Space Oddity and Life On Mars. He must be getting used to them now as he was not relying so much on the piece of music or chord sequence he has pulled out on previous tours. Again that is something has baffled me in the past and I wished I had asked about it.

Next up was Morning Has Broken with the usual intro. It was nice to see this with a vocal from Ramon.

Jane Seymour was again the highlight of both shows for me. I have played the original on Six Wives of Henry VIII and it was OK but to hear it all done by just Rick in a Church/Cathedral with great Organ sounds is really something special. I have often wondered why it doesn't close a set. Perhaps it is because Rick doesn't feel church audiences no his own tunes as well as the others he plays.

Ramon wanted to do the Barber of Siville but again Rick misread Ramon's letter and had written a new piece called Barber of Wigan which was very funny but perhaps a little long for something that was not to me musically that great. It was a very good parody though and Ramon was very good in it. It was also interesting to see Rick smiling so much. I haven't noticed Rick's grin before. I took a roll of film the 2nd night so I might have some decent shots when I get round to adding them to my page.

Then we moved into the area I was most unsure of, the last 5 songs. They were Help and Fool On The Hill with Ramon and then Eleanor Rigby as the set closer. Then for an encore The Hymn (from 1984) and The Day Thou Gavest Lord Has Ended both with Ramon. The first night I was absolutely shattered before I had even got to the gig and I was incredibly disappointed that Help was still done in the slow Tribute style. I did notice that Ramon was making the words seem very meaningful but 4 slow songs out of 5 seemed a very bad way to end the set and I then went home with the impression the whole night had been slow paced. The 2nd night however I knew what to expect and was dreading Help and Fool on a Hill but to my amazement I found I really enjoyed them and I got the feeling a lot better. I am interested to see how others viewed the choice of these five songs as the ending. I was also surprised my memory of the previous night had been so wrong with regards the pace of the concert and everything. I think Ramon's voice has cracked a bit during A Wish and Welcome A Star so I suspect the first night was the better performance but I definitely preferred the 2nd night and as I said earlier was so pleased I had opportunity to take in two shows on the trot. If you had the chance to go and didn't bother I think it was a shame. It was also very nice to meet up with Chris Smith after the Bury Show. It is always nice to meet people you have spoken to on the net :-)

Deep Purple and Friends - Royal Albert Hall - 26 September 1999

I was not in the best state of health for this concert and I was excepting an interesting night but nothing to special. My memories of the original Concerto for Group and Orchestra were that it was OK but didn't seem to integrate the band and orchestra to well. I therefore have the CD but don't play it much. (Mind you my collection is so big now that is true of most discs!)

It is with great delight that through out the evening I was totally bowled over by how much I enjoyed things. Especially the Concerto.

Let's start at the beginning though. First on were the London Symphony Orchestra to play us Four Scottish Dances by the original Group and Concerto conductor Malcolm Arnold. These were good warm up pieces. I am not a great fan of classical music a home but when I can see a whole orchestra playing it is fascinating to hear how the different sections work.

Jon Lord was then introduced to a standing ovation (Some thing every Purple member got as they came and did their turns). Jon performed two pieces from his current solo album. I wasn't sure about the start of Pictured Within which was the first track but by the end I was starting to appreciate it. The thing that put me off was Miller Anderson (Who is he?) was the vocalist and he sang the words "Pictured Within" and Sam Brown from the backing vocal position echoed it and that was it for about 4 minutes (or so it seemed.) I was baffled.

Then Sam Brown came down to the front and sang Wait A While. I sort of like her breathy singing style but am not quite sure if it annoys me at the same time. I enjoyed the song which was much more standard in format.

I was then surprised that Ronnie James Dio appeared and sang two pieces from the Butterfly Ball. Again a side project I hadn't heard before. The piece seemed a little cartoon like at times but I thought Ronnie really sang well especially the section that was a little like Fly to the Rainbow in beauty. I normally like Ronnie in the studio but not live so I was pleased he managed to change my opinion.

Ian Gillan's turn next and I was extremely pleased to hear Via Miami from the excellent Gillan/Glover album Accidentally On Purpose. This was followed by "That's Why God Is Singing The Blues" from his last solo album. There had been a brass section on for several numbers by now. The orchestra had also been playing on some songs and it was good to see Paul Mann the conductor generally enjoying the music when he had no part in the song. Oh I was also pleased to see Gillan's guitarist Steve Morris on stage for the Gillan tracks. He unfortunately had problems with his Acoustic guitar but Gillan took it well and tried using his mic to get the sound out

Now it was The Steve Morse Band's turn. Steve had played earlier in the night but this was his section. He first played Night Meets Light which has apparently been used on the Radio for years and is the song that got Gillan to give him a call when Blackmore left. Then we got a song called Take It Off The Top. This one I did know. I had no idea it was by Morse though. It is the music Tommy Vance uses to introduce the VH-1 Rock show in the UK. Apparently his radio shows too. You live and learn. Excellent stuff both tracks.

Finally to round of the set it was Ian Paice's turn and he did a jazz/big and version of Wring That Neck. Again very interesting to see and hear.

I would have gone home very happy having seen what I had so far but after the interval it was the Concerto. This was truly excellent. I loved every minute of it. Steve Morse did the Blackmore role very well and managed to restrain his usual tendency to throw in too many fast runs. He also visibly enjoyed the orchestra sections which was good to see. I love see how band members interact with each on stage.

Despite repeated requests to keep quiet during the classics pieces I was extremely embarrassed to be part of a crowd that clapped after a Steve Morse solo in the 1st movement. I suppose the only consolation was that the Clarinet play also got applause after his solo. It also took some doing to get the crowd to shut up long enough to start the 2nd movement. Apparently things were worse the first night but there were far too many Jerks in the audience that just couldn't resist being a lone voice in the crowd and shouting out. I was pleased when the crowd got to shushing the prat's. Things from then on were very good so I hope it is the 2nd night that is used for the video release (supposedly in Jan 2000)

To close the set were got four purple tracks with the occasional orchestra part and the backing singers and brass section to. Great stuff. The highlight for me being Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming. A song I hope remains in the set for years. I am still not sure about Watching The Sky though.

For the Encore it was everyone back for Smoke On The Water. It seemed very odd seeing Dio on stage with Gillan. I guess Dio's problem was with Ozzy in Sabbath but it felt strange all the same.

So a truly great night I am so glad I decided to go. If I hadn't seen the Praying Mantis reunion this year I suspect this would have been my best gig if the year. I just hope Rick Wakeman can get to fill his dream of performing with an orchestra and all the singers on his last album at Wembley in January. Seeing bands play with Orchestra makes a wonderful nights entertainment.

Amazing Blondel/Annie Haslam/Caravan - 1 October 1999

This was a dreadful venue for me as it was standing. Also I was here to see Annie Haslam so the bands were on out of order. IMO.

First up were Amazing Blondel it seems a trio all fairly old and doing an acoustic set. They have one chap playing a recorder and other all sorted oddities from I guess medieval days. It was sort of interesting but very samey with the guitar strumming and beat. I am sure I have them on a compilation CD and I suspect they played that track tonight. Interesting idea but very average to me.

Next up was Annie Haslam with fellow Renaissance member Michael Dunford and ex Mike Oldfield/Fish/Camel man Mickey Simmons. He is apparently on the newly recorded Renaissance album of which we got a preview of one song. It seems to be just a Piano and Annie song although it was co-written with Dunford

Carpet Of The Sun which was a slightly sloppy start from Annie as she dropped earring and missed some lines in the song. She was very chirpy all night though and amused when she asked if the English crowd was better than Americans ones and got a typical subdued English response. It has to be said because the crowd weren't sure what reaction she was after

I Think Of You Think Of Me was next

Then Midas Man. A favourite of Annie's apparently but it used midi files. The Oh-Oh-Oh parts from Annie seemed at too loud and correct for the distance Annie was singing them so I have my doubts as to weather they were sung live or not.

Seashell eyes was next. Since it was keyboards and strummed guitar it sounded very much as per the Brazilian skies live album. And in general like Annie's recent album's.

I was surprise how little Dunford took the spotlight. There were no real guitar solos etc. And a person I was quizzing to see if Caravan were worth staying for turned out to be like me and there for Annie. He was very disappointed by the set and I can take his point if he hadn't heard the low musician set up of Annie's recent appearances.

Next up was Blessing In Disguise. It was interesting how Northern Annie still sounds but she did decided she had said Renaissance the American way rather than the English. She seemed able to put on a stronger Northern accent at will. I really liked this track. Apparently it is about her recovery from breast cancer.

I was then surprised at the choice of Moonlight Shadow. But given it Mickey was probably with Oldfield at the time it was recorded I guess it was no big surprise. And of course it is a good song.

Brazilian skies followed with it's Song For Guy type rhythm.

Eva's Pond (or something) was the new song I have already mentioned.

Finally to round of the set was Northern Lights which was the song that got me into Renaissance so very appropriate.

To me it was an enjoyable set put it would have been better with a full band backing. Annie's voice is just as beautiful as ever and that is what I was therefore so I have no complaints really

Eventually I did find a Caravan fan and they sounded like they were worth a listen from there instrumentation. I was not impressed there were lots of people on the seats in the balcony but it was still closed. Anyway Caravan were an average sort of band but had very good players. The young guitarist in particular was good and very old school so enjoyable to my ears. The Violin player also played Flute and Mandolin type guitar so was quite versatile. He didn't quite capture me like he should though. I also enjoyed the keyboard player on the odd moments when he was allowed to let rip. Someone by coincidence told me they had a Caravan album in there top ten albums of all time. I think I might give it a try sometime. The lead singer seemed unremarkable and he also played simplish guitar. One of the early songs was apparently from a recent album and about a friend who the audience gave me the impression was in the crowd. I hope he wasn't as this was a very sad direct attack on him called Liar. I wonder if he was an ex-member or manager. I found it interesting that they had a drummer and a percussionist but I spotted a gap against a well so made a dive for it even though it meant not being able to see him. The set it has to be said was for me pure grit teeth endurance and I am never good at hearing "new" bands so I am sure Caravan are or were a lot better band in their day than I was able to judge.

The Astoria was a strange place no band got an Encore despite fan requests. It seems there is a 10.30 curfew (which I guess I approve since I have trains to catch) but it does seem wrong not getting an encore from the main act.

Now I wonder if there are an Black Sabbath tickets left. It would be a good place to see them. Except the sound seemed to be only coming out of the left bank of speakers from my slightly left off centre position for Annie. The venue is a wide shallow place so everyone gets a reasonable view.

Def Leppard/Lukan - Wembley Arena - 14 October 1999

Well what can I say about this that is fair? I only attended because one of my chauffeurs had a spare ticket and wanted me to go. I normally avoid bands I don't know. Especially now I am ill. I have seen Leppard twice before once in 1981 when I was a fan of the first album. And once in 1986 when I had definitely lost interest. It is therefore a long while since I have seen them. I guess they where OK and the crowd certainly enjoyed them. They are twin guitar and a decent old style of playing. But overall they just left me cold. It was amusing how Joe Elliot did most of the Gig in Cardigan. Vivian Campbell was my side of the stage and seemed to throwing the normal poses and in good humour. He reminded me of Tino Troy and that lead me comparing them with Praying Mantis. They are this sort of line up if only it was them there or even as support. Rick Allen the one armed drummer was interesting to watch. And I thought overall he was better integrated with the band this time. It was lots of drumming to Midi files last time. There was an enormous Union Jack as a back drop and being Wembley the lighting was good but not spectacular. I guess overall it was OK and perhaps a fraction better than I expected but I was glad when the main set finally ended and I knew it was going to be over soon.

The chauffeur Rob Ford insists his view is expressed. This gig was a pleasant surprise since the bands recent album has not sold well in the UK and the Bands profile is diminished. Coming off yet another highly successful USA Tour with healthy album sales to boot it's must be very frustrating when you have the biggest selling album by any British act for four years to come back to the UK where the record company has fouled up the promotion in every way possible. However the band seemed up for it from the start and pleased the 10,000 or so die hard fans with a familiar set containing only 3 tracks from the new album Euphoria and only the title track from the previous album Slang. The gig finished with the surprising inclusion of Wasted and Let It Go from the first couple of albums. This rounded of not a classic but a very good Leppard performance..

Can't you just tell he is in the Music business!

 

Main Set

Rock Rock Till You Drop, Action, Demolition Man, Women, Make Love Like A Man, When Love And Hate Collide, Hysteria, Foolin', Animal, Paper Sun, Slang, Promises, Love Bites, Armageddon It, Photograph, Rocket, Pour Some Sugar On Me, Rock Of Ages

1st Encore

Let's Get Rocked

2nd Encore

Wasted, Let It Go

Schindler/The Stranglers - Ipswich Regent - 21 October 1999

This is another odd gig for me to go to. I originally booked it because I didn't have any gigs coming up and their first album was OK. I had have also got a recording of them done for German TV and I was impressed how much they used the keyboards in there sound. Also it was Ipswich so no tiring travel.

Schindler (at least that is what an usher said they were called) were a standard 4 piece unit. The singer (a loose term) sounded like he was a Geordie. The band played a typical sounding punk set and I guess were OK. The vocalist while not great had a good sense of humour and kept trying to get the crowd to react to him by pretending he was going to spit and them or dive into them. The place looked really empty at this point in the evening and I was generally disappointed that a town with the catchment area of Ipswich can't motivate itself to go to concerts. I was in the circle as I expected the audience to stand and that is the last thing I needed. I only had 30 or 40 people up their with me. My mate said that they should have played the smaller Corn Exchange which is mainly Standing and I figured as usual when it comes to knowing the music market he was right.

At 9:15 the Stranglers came on stage and I am told their were just two originals left. This surprised me as I had got the impression of Teletext that Hugh Cornwell??? the original vocalist had rejoined them for the tour. He had apparently played 60 people at the Colchester Art Centre 4 nights previously. The two originals were the drummer and bass player. This surprised me as the guitarist looked a lot older than the base player. The vocalist I thought did a pretty good job of copying Cornwell singing attitude and certainly put a lot of energy into his performance. The crowd must have all been in the bar as a lot of people turned up with five minutes to go and they all stood at the front so I made a good choice going to the circle.

I had been rather disappointed as the lack of size of the PA system but it actually turned out to be a very loud concert. The keyboard play was playing in chain-mail and had a sword. I don't know why. The bass player and guitarist were both throwing poses all night but in a Punk Style not a Metal one. This made a change for me.

The lighting too was very usual to me. It was very dim and mono coloured for a lot of numbers but occasionally they would switch on the moving lights. This I would like to comment on but I can't since I am photosensitive and sudden lights in contrast to a dull background was really disturbing me.

The set sounded like it must have contained a lot of stuff of the earlier albums. I recently got the Greatest hits disc up to 1990 and after Golden Brown they seemed to have softened a lot. This was little sign of it in this set and I found it interesting watching the different drumming style and the monotony of some of the riffs etc..

I think I probably expected them to be slightly more musical than they were based on what I have heard of them but overall they played my favourites and were an OK night out. I had considered seeing them last November as Gowan was there support act. Unfortunately that was the day after my return from Japan. How Gowan got on a bill with the Stranglers now has be completely baffled. I wonder what the audience made of him. Not a lot sadly I feel.

Gary Moore - Norwich UEA - 29 October 1999

As usual I approach the gig with trepidation. I was run down and it was a standing gig :-(((( Luckily when I got there I discovered there were no special guests. So that was a relief. The only other concern was what sort of set Gary would play. He has just released a trendy album which is rather weak according to the press. We were worried we might get a drum and bass set.

We got two new numbers I think and while they weren't great they were OK. Gary Moore is one of the few guitarist I can sit and listen too solo all night. The other main ones being Carlos Santana, Tony Iommi and the Mantis guys.

The first thing I noticed when Gary came on stage is he is a guitarist whose face feels the guitar. I.e. he pulls faces as he bends the notes. I absolutely love this. I get bored by slow blues but add an electric guitar and wind it up and let it go and I love it.

Tonight was a classic example. I can't recall the last time I let myself go at a gig and headbanged getting my hair in my face. I was enjoying it so much I could barely watch the 2nd half of the set. I was in Air guitar heaven. Perhaps it helped that someone somewhere in the crowd was smoking Pot but I doubt it. I am sure it was Gary. The were some numbers in the set I didn't like eg Let Me Stand Next To You Fire which was a very poor follow up to my favourite of the night Still Got The Blues For You. That was definitely where I really forgot where I was and drifted off to another place. Other numbers I found a little pointless were the I Need Your Love So Bad and My Baby Don't Love Me which were covers that most pub bands play.

His supporting musicians didn't get a chance to shine except on one number when the keyboard player got to solo and exchange riffs.

I am glad I choose to taken in this gig. It was a great night out. I saw Gary once before as 2nd on the Bill to Marillion when I went to see Jethro Tull at Milton Keynes in 1986. He impressed me that day to but I never got an album until I accidentally heard Still Got The Blues in a Record shop. That was the only time I can recall buying an album having heard the music. I think perhaps the night could have been improved if it had been BBM. I.e. Jack Bruce (whose voice I like more) And Ginger Baker on Drums. But what the heck it was a great night. Also being blues every other song seemed to start like Pretty Woman. I didn't care once it got to the solo.

Roy Wood Army Spectacular - 26 November 1999 - Brentwood Leisure Centre

It' s a long while since I have been to the Brentwood Leisure Centre. The last time might have in fact been the first time I saw the Roy Wood Big Band around 1992.

The support act tonight were Dangerfield. They gave me a good chuckle I couldn't believe I was attending a gig where I was expected to sit through a support act doing standard cover songs in a very standard manner. Why aren't they playing in a pub in their hometown?

The Brentwood Centre is a long thin sports hall venue. It therefore had lots of room on stage and it was nice to be able to see the horns staggered on the stage. I was very central in the audience and I think this was the first time I have been able to see the whole band with ease. I think everyone could though. I estimate 700-1000 people were in a place that can hold possibly 2000. This said I reckon this was an average crowd as a lot of seats would be obscured by the speakers etc.

The first think I noticed about the band was a new bass player. He sadly was less of a character than the old one. The next think of note was the Army were no longer in the Army attired of the last tour. It was all black trousers and jackets. Woody seemed to be in the same clothes as last time though. Are they fazing out the Army bit?

The program and T shirt were both new and I thought very good. I did have to laugh again at some of the comments on Woody's page though. It mentions the Army like they were a different band to the Big Band and it also talks about new material Woody is writing for them. There are lots of good photos of previous tours as a good souvenir. Gill (I assume) has done a very good job on this.

I wasn't too impressed with the crowd's enthusiasm. They seemed to be exceptionally quiet. Norwich seemed a lot more lively last time and I am surprised to say this since I think East Anglian crowds are often very tame.

Woody claimed to have a cold again and was saying how tiring it was. I guess he is getting old but does he really have a cold every gig or is it just the standard intro to House Of Love? He didn't seem to bad this time anyway.

My views of this gig overall are as previous reviews. Someone said the arrangements seemed more Jazzy or something this time but I couldn't hear any difference. One thing I did notice however was the volume seemed to go up on the "New" songs. Do the Brass have more to do or just enjoy those songs more. I was disappointed to see more people going to the Toilet during Roy's Revenge but I guess it had been implied it would contain a drum solo. Even so I enjoy the bit before and after it and people were going during the start. Strange.

Jethro Tull - Ipswich Regent - 27 November 1999

This was perhaps the forth or fifth time I have seen Jethro Tull and I have to say the one I enjoyed most. I first saw them in 1986 third on the bill to Gary Moore and Marillion. It was good but I didn't know a lot of the set. This has been the case at most of the gigs since then but at last I am starting to know the enough of the early material. Strangely the era I have ever caught up on.

The local paper sponsored the gig and I wondered if this was because tickets hadn't been selling or they were selling out. In the past I am sure the gig sold out fairly early. Luckily when I got to the gig I was pleased to see the venue looked fairly full if not totally sold out. I am glad Tull still have their pulling power.

I wasn't particularly into J-Tull Dot Com. It is OK but I thought the previous album Roots To Branches was better and this seemed to be a sight step back to my hearing. I don't think my view changed after seeing tonight's set and I don't think we got anything off Roots To Branches which was a shame.

Tull are quality performers but they don't take themselves too seriously. They like to litter the performance with odd bits of humour such as a telephone call in one song. A fight between the Keyboard player and Bass Player for a microphone and a Rabbit looking for it's glasses.

I was on the front row for this gig. I must remember not to choose this location again. I love watching the band so close but I feel terribly exposed and when everyone stands up I stick out like a sore thumb because I am trying to save my energy and am very reluctant to stand. Luckily the crowd were kept from going to the stage until about ten minutes before the encore so I had no problems seeing. I have to say not being able to stand at a Tull gig is something that puts my little brother off going. When the crowd could stand it was only during the encore they did and then to my surprise most people sat down again just leaving an annoying line (for me) of 1 row of people standing at the stage.

Another thing I noticed about being on the front row was the sound seemed to be coming completely from the back line. It was actually quite confusing as the guitar seemed to from where the Bass player stood on the left of stage. The number of times I went to look for the solo and looked the wrong place!

I don't recall seeing the Keyboard player before. He was a real character. I don't know if he was a frustrated drummer or something but he seemed to be doing good impressions of Animal from the Muppets. I couldn't really see his playing but he was all over the place with his feet.

All of the band seemed to enjoy throwing exaggerated posses. I have always loved watching Ian Anderson's flute playing and how he throws in extra vocal noises in his breaths. Being so close it was good to watch eyebrows and general eye movements.

Praying Mantis - 10 Year Party - Dean Swift - 18 December 1999

To celebrate tens years of the current core line-up of Praying Mantis the band decided to hold an invite only party. The band did no rehearsals for the gig since they are still busy working on he next album. About 7 songs are now in a pre-mix stat of completion, so before Mantis played the main set they put the tape on. Unfortunately it wasn't very loud compared to the packed pub. So I didn't really pick up an impressions about it. One song sounded like a "Remember My Name" type slow song. Apparently Dennis has written two songs and co-wrote one with Chris. Chris has done 6 altogether. Tino about two. And Tony has done the lyrics and melody for one song.

Tony had been due to come down and record during the previous week but unfortunately he had been laid out with a cold. It was very unclear if he would make the gig or not. Luckily he did and I thought he sang very well. I couldn't really tell he was feeling ill (A feeling I see in others about me all the time so I am sure he still felt very rough.)

The band set up their gear and played a warm up around 7pm. It was very obvious they hadn't played the songs since the tour of November 98. By the time they played the official set at 9pm though the one time play through and almost completely sorted them out. Amazing! Lovers To The Grave on the warm up had proved the most difficult but although the band noticed a few problems and spent a few minutes remembering who was playing which harmony they were still pretty good.

Leon Lawson was back on the keyboards and I know ten days before the gig he had not played the songs and couldn't remember them at all. He had had to get a set list and re-learn all the parts from scratch. Being a guitarist until 6 months before the last Mantis tour, he was still in the early stages of playing keyboards. He was a quick learner and having an extra year of practising Rick Wakeman and Patrick Moraz techniques he was looking forward to playing even more this time. It was also the first time he had played Lovers To The Grave. Not that he had caused any of the problems in the warm-up. They seem to have been mainly lyrical problems. Very surprising since Tino and Chris had only been singing them during the summer. It was interesting to see the difference between how Steve Carroll handled this song and how Dennis did it. Perhaps I am remembering a different song but in the fast section I seem to recall both Steve and Tino were on the arpeggios half way up the neck of the guitar but Dennis seemed to play a completely different backing at that point. Both sounded great.

The Dean Swift is a 30m?x20m? box room with the bar taking up large amount of space in the centre of the back wall. The band were therefore positioned on the long side in front of it. Leon on the far left in one section. Dennis next in another and then Bruce, Tony, Chris and Tino in the main section.

The mix or lack of it was actually very good. I was positioned slightly to the left of Dennis and I didn't get the full effect of Tino but everyone else was perfect.

For the main set the pub was packed (Even though the guest list looked to have limited numbers and the pub was officially closed for the night)

After the Mantis set we got a few covers from a sort of Paddy Goes To Holyhead/Mantis. The drummer and singer from Paddy's join Tino and Chris both also in Paddies. Steve Mann who used to be in Lionheart and MSG took over Dennis's guitar. And Leon remained on keyboards. Tony and his Wife Jaz did a few backing vocals on a couple of songs and a great deal of fun was had by all.

Phil Moog of UFO was in the audience and they tried to get him to play Doctor Doctor with the band. Unfortunately the Paddies drummer didn't know it so it didn't happen. I am told a couple of members of Tank were in the audience too but I didn't notice them myself.

Dennis had most of his family there including the daughter that was pictured on Only The Children Cry. I would never have guessed she was there if I hadn't asked as obviously she is no longer a child and has had a haircut.

Tino's wife Sarah arrived towards the end of the set. She is pregnant with their second child who is due in March. Bruce's new wife was in the audience to.

 

Warm Up

Children Of The Earth
Can't See The Angels
A Cry For The New World
Lovers To The Grave
Turn The Tables

 

Main Set

Can't See The Angels
A Cry For The New World
Lovers To The Grave
Children Of The Earth (There was a classic moment in this in which Bruce forgot they slow part near "Time has no meaning times tells no lies" and Dennis had to grab his shoulder to slow the drum fill down! Tino had a guitar solo to play so could only smile while the rest of the band creased up. At the end of it he then had a good laugh at Bruce too.)
Turn The Tables
Smoke On The Water
Rock'n'Roll

T-Rextasy, BC Sweet and Slade II - 19 December 1999 - Ipswich Corn Exchange

It had slipped my memory that this gig was tonight. When my friend phoned to asked what time to meet I was horrified at the thought. I was absolutely wrecked at the Mantis gig so it was going to be hard to impress me. I have seen forms of all three bands before and wasn't particularly impressed. Slade in the early 70's were one of my favourite bands so I originally thought I would make an effort and go since it was my local again.

T-Rextasy I have seen at least twice before and they are a good tribute band. They dress up and make an effort to have fun. Sadly I don't like T-rex's music so they were never going to get me motivated no matter how enthusiastic they were. They certainly did a good job and got the crowd on their feet from the first song. That was extremely frustrating for me and I thought I would never enjoy the night.

The Corn Exchange must hold about 1,000 people and I suspect it was close to capacity. A lot had come out to have a party and I was amazed at the age range there. Teenagers to OAP's (Sitting next to me and dancing most of the night to really put me to shame!).

The last time I saw a version of Sweet they were 2nd on the bill to Mud and I went to the gig at the last minute and only saw a couple of their songs. Very annoying as I hate Mud! The Sweet I saw didn't look the part and I didn't think they sounded good either. I therefore thought this BC Sweet would be really sad. They were Brain Connolly's (the original Sweet Vocalist) backing band. Sadly he died a few years back so now there are no original members in this band. The Praying Mantis drummer Bruce Bisland is a member of Andy Scott's (Original Sweet guitarist) Sweet. They struggle to get UK work so I thought BC Sweet might be the one setting a bad example. But when they came on I have to say I was very impressed. This band were all glammed up. They used a few fireworks and they sounded reasonable to me. They played all the expected hits and again the crowd had a good time. I would certainly see them again if they came to town.

So to Slade II the last time I saw these was a few years back in Colchester. In fact it was the last gig I stood in the crowd at the front at. Now that is a rare thing in itself as I don't think you can see well etc. I had been due to see the Original Slade in 84? but it got Snowed off and I decided to sell my ticket before it was rearranged. Something I have always regretted but I guess I was short of cash still being in sixth form. I didn't like Slade II's vocalist particularly last time or Slade Live in general. My views in recent years have changed slightly and I do in fact like Slade Live now. I also recently put a Slade II radio show to CD-R so I have now got used to Noddy Holder's replacement. When they came on stage I thought they were slightly disappointing in appearance. Unlike the other bands they didn't have their name on a back drop and only Dave Hill and the Bass player looked slightly glammed up. Dave Hill however was as flamboyant as ever. He started of in a Shiny cape, black hat and Metallic red shirt. Moved to a different coloured waist coat and large Mad Hatter hat. He eventually went on to a silver long coat and guitar and then a basic Father Xmas hat for the end. There were two Boxes put on stage so that the Bass play and Dave in particular could preen and show off. The bass player in fact went through some clothes changes to but I didn't spot that as much. The changes happened when the singer and Don Powell were working the crowd etc. About 3-4 songs from the end the roadies came out and started throwing Toilet Roll streamers into the crowd. This simple thing was really effective. The crowd were throwing them back and hitting the band a few times and they were also wrapping themselves up in it. A good laugh. There was one Slade II original song played and most of the Slade hits in a set lasting 70 mins or so. The other bands had 40 minutes.

The tickets for the night were 16.50ukp which seemed a little expensive before the show but I think overall we got good value for money. Especially if you liked the music of all three bands. Despite previous comments about Roy Wood I think a double header show with Slade II would make a terrific night out. I guess the effort to Glam up impresses me more than it should but what is the point of a show of Glam Rock era bands playing their hits if it is not for the nostalgia value. It certainly made me wonder what it would have been like to see what these bands were like in the mid 70's.


2008 Jon Hinchliffe. E-mails welcome!