Sunday, 1 November 2009

27 October 2009 - Bright Light Bright Light, Shepherd's Bush

Bright Light Bright Light shines at the Bush
I've been banging on for ages on this blog about Bright Light Bright Light (aka Rod Thomas) and was lucky enough to get to see him supporting The Noisettes at Shepherd's Bush. OMG - the new set is absolute dynamite - full to bursting of upbeat, multi-layered, shimmering pop hits with vocals to die for. Some old favourites such as 'Blueprint' and 'Good Times' and a stunning new one 'I'm in love'. He won some new fans that night and with an album in the offing surely Bright Light Bright Light is about to make the break he truly deserves. Catch up with him on

Friday, 11 September 2009

18 July 2009 - Fairport Convention Reunion, Barbican Hall

English folk-to-rock pioneers Fairport Convention re-convened at the Barbican Hall to celebrate 40 years of music making. The early numbers were a bit ho-hum as the evening didn't really kick off until they reached the 1970s 'Liege and Lief' era, where the virtuoso fiddle playing of Dave Swarbrick gave the folk music the punch it needed. Trouble was, Mr S didn't show up ("artistic differences" - come on, grow up!) so it was left to Chris Leslie to do the honours. Not to diss the guy - and he was brilliant - but the whole point of a Fairport reunion was to see the original players (family illnesses excused). The glory 'Liege and Lief' tracks were brilliant - silver-haired folkies doing their own headbanging/nodding like mad.

It being a while since the 70s, there were a fair number of "children of the band" taking part, such as Chris While's daughter and of course 'Father of the House' Richard Thompson managing to field a daughter Kami, son Teddy and ex-wife Linda. (No sign of grandson Zac Hobbs, though.) Kami and Teddy duetted delightfully for 'Who Knows Where the Time Goes' and Teddy's 'Genesis Hall' can be seen here on good old Youtube.

It must have been hard to keep a bunch of talented individuals together back in the day, and easy to see why RT and others decided to branch out on their own.

Monday, 29 June 2009

27 June 2009 - Neil Young, Hard Rock Calling, Hyde Park

My Oh My ..

That's it - that was officially my best festival set ever ... Neil Young rocking out 'Day in the Life' with bonus added Macca!

I love Hyde Park - turn up, get soaked in a storm and then a great gig (see Aerosmith). Neil Young was headling this time, fresh from his assault on Glastonbury - day two of the UK 2009 Springsteen v Young Festival Smackdown. Same stage set as at Glasto (same clothes even) - mind you it was exactly the same as at the Hop Farm last year, down to the "dove from above" (wtf?), the red telephone and the "art guy" dashing off canvasses of each song.

Odd assortment of supporting acts - got there too late for The Pretenders (who deserved to be higher up the bill), puzzled by Nick Harper (who he?) and not entirely wowed by the Fleet Foxes, who seemed a bit foxed by the whole English festival thing. Not that it mattered, there was no doubt the crowd were there to see Neil Young alone - from the kids to the very proper gentlemen. Our man kicked off with 'Hey, Hey, My My' and never let up for a second. No strutting or posing here - it was all about the music, and rocking good it was too. He was on top form and clearly enjoying every minute. Prayers were answered as he ripped through favourites such as 'Heart of Gold', and for my money 'Get Behind the Wheel' (why not 'Just Singing a Song' too?) but the biggie was ' Rocking in theFree World'. If you saw the BBC coverage from Glastonbury, you'll have some idea of what it was like to have the grunge-meister enchant the whole crowd and goad it with endless joyful choruses of "rock, rock rocking in the free world" while he waved his guitar aloft and from side to side like some screaming light-sabre. (At least that's how it seemed to me and you'll have to excuse me if the detail is wonky but by that point I was very possibly under the influence of (ahem) a bit of passive smoking..)

Well, we pretty much knew that the encore would be 'A Day in the Life', but what a blast it was. Before it began, Neil went off to stage right to greet someone at the side - a pal or industry insider, we thought. When he got to the chorus - yes, on came Paul McCartney and the crowd went wild. I can't do justice to the atmosphere, or describe it properly - so you'll have to see the amazing video for yourselves -

Totally everyone came away happy and slightly dazed - strangers talking about it on the Tube on the way home, for heavens sake. Yup, it was sublime - thank you Neil, thank you Paul and thank you Festival Gods.

Footnote: the next night at Hyde Park The Boss was supposed to have his own special guest Bon Jovi, but the show overran (very strict about Sunday night curfews in the UK). So I guess that makes it Neil Young 2 - 1 Bruce Springsteen.

Set List: Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black) / Mansion On The Hill / Are You Ready For The Country? / Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere / Spirit Road / Words / Cinnamon Girl / F*!#in' Up / Mother Earth / The Needle And The Damage Done / Comes A Time / Unknown Legend / Heart Of Gold / Old Man / Down By The River / Get Behind The Wheel / Rockin' In The Free World // A Day In The Life

Sunday, 28 June 2009

5 June 2009 - Ralph McTell, Cadogan Hall

Still with the 70s, I finally get to re-visit Ralph McTell. What a classy joint the Cadogan Hall is - built as a Christian Scientist church, it has been re-fitted as a very high-quality, all seated concert hall - much like Birmingham Symphony Hall but on a more intimate scale. Superb for solo-ing folkies (Thompsons & Wainwrights please take note), Ralph liked it so much he talked of doing a show there every year.

Families and early influences was a thread running through the choice of songs. We didn't get 'Nana's Song' (dedicated to his wife) but instead the charming 'Growing Old with Naomi' about the long-lasting love between his grandparents. For the musical influences Ralph credited a long list of Blind Willys and Blind Jimmys etc and he put on some very intricate blue-grass finger-picking to prove it. His Dylan homage 'Zimmerman Blues' - "Oh Lord I got the Zimmerman blues!" was hugely enjoyable for me. You see, Ralph's voice is still strong and he interacts with his audience in a good-humoured way - unlike his Bobness. I have the utmost respect for Dylan the poet, but I should tell you that I saw Dylan at the O2 in April this year and was so disappointed in the show I couldn't bring myself to post about it. Until now.

Even "that song" got an airing. As he said, 'Streets of London' had made so many things possible in his life, so couldn't really begrudge playing it. 'Oh England' was green and lovely, 'Long way from Clare to here' was poetic - but no 'Ferryman'? Oh well, maybe next time.

Sunday, 31 May 2009

28 May 2009 - Cat Stevens, Shepherds Bush

Cat's still cool

Baaba Maal nearly stole the show, Bono tried to steal it, but the modest man himself came shining through - part of Island Record's 50th birthday events.

Fronting the opening act (Noxshi) was a tall, leggy young fella, face hidden behind a curtain of dark wavy hair - reminded me of a typical 70s singer - you idiot, YGB, that's the main man's son, Yoriyos. Nice touch, a sort of Father and Son reunion. Then like I said, the next act, Senegalese Baaba Maal, played a fantastic French-African set, more Graceland than Paul Simon's and loads of infectious (African) drums - these guys really let rip and BM's voice is something else.

And yet - the audience had been waiting a long time (in some cases, ahem, a very long time) to see Yusuf Islam/Cat Stevens. Maybe not quite the Second Coming (ref. Led Zep) but his songs have been humming along in most people's subconscious for ever. Remember that sone you sang in school assembly/church - 'Morning Has Broken'? - yup, that's one of his. Anyway, once Bono had finished his "surprise" guest appearance/encore with Baaba Maal, the show finally got down to business. It was much like seeing Leonard Cohen at the O2 last year - the audience and artist equally delighted to be there and Cat/Yusuf had much the same gentle graciousness at Mr C. Not that it was a "soft" set - we got a couple of 'Yusuf' songs from his latest album "Roadsinger" and a hefty chunk of 'Cat' back catalogue. At one point he paused to tell the story of his recent deportation from the USA when a gung-ho Department of Homeland Security mistook him for a terrorist suspect (similar name, different spelling). He held up a Wanted poster of Cat Stevens, saying "I am not that man .. I am a man of peace". 'Peace Train' rounded off a very special evening - make sure you catch the clips of the show on Youtube.


  • Welcome Home
  • Lilywhite
  • Don't Be Shy
  • Where Do The Children Play?
  • Thinking 'Bout You
  • The Rain
  • Just Another Night
  • Miles From Nowhere
  • To Be What You Must
  • The Wind
  • Wild World (dedicated to his granddaughters)
  • Boots and Sand
  • Ruins
  • Roadsinger
  • Father and Son
  • Peace Train

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

10 March 2009 - Rod Thomas with Band, Hoxton Bar

'Until Something Fits' tour
Rod again making the very most of having his band in tow, belted out an up-beat set of older favourites - 'Your Love is a Tease', 'You Get Goodbyes', 'Good Coat' etc - while showcasing some of his very latest tunes. 'Blueprint' is a stormer, as before, but the focus was on the new tracks written with Boom Bip - 'Disco Moment' passing my "three plays and it's stuck in my head" test. The crowd lapped it all up and stomped the floor for more - an acoustic version of 'Until Something Fits', sung down among the folks. Check out his Myspace page - - for the latest offerings.
Next stop New York and then SXSW in Texas - best of luck, Rod!

Friday, 27 February 2009

Rod Thomas off to the USA!

From Liverpool Street Underground to New York and SXSW in Texas - wow, what a progression! I shamelessly missed the recent fundraiser gig at the Wilmington, but it's great to see that Rod is on his way to the USA. Busking again any time soon? - I think not, he's far too busy. Anyways, see if you can catch his pre-USA gig at Hoxton on 10 March (and elsewhere). Go see the noise here. Way to go, Rod!

Thursday, 5 February 2009

2 February 2009 - Richard Thompson's 1000 Years of Popular Music, Barbican Hall

Another Thompson gig, I know, but what the heck - just glad that January's gig-drought is over. This show was a light-hearted - but expertly delivered - "steamroller ride" over 1000 years of popular music: as the man pointed out, the nobs' music was written down, but the peasants' songs were passed down by word of mouth and had to be darned good to survive. So RT began in the 800s, playing a hurdy-gurdy if you please, going by way of protest songs, such as 'Blackleg Miner', via Cole Porter and Abba, finishing up with those 20th Century favourites The Beatles; not a psychedelic medley a la Neil Young, but some kicking early stuff such as 'I wanna hold your hand' to remind us what a breath of fresh air they were in 1960-something.
Mind you, you have to pay close attention to the chat at a Thompson gig, those witty/caustic asides coming thick and fast, and he whisked us through Latin, French, Middle English and Renaissance Italian "colloquial Renaissance Italian", mind you. Bet you didn't know that Richard I was the John Denver of his day. And yay for James Warren's hit with the Korgis, 'Everybody's Got to Learn Sometime', even if RT doubted that Bath was too nice a place for such creativity - "all those teashops".
Am I fixated on Thompsons? Well, you'd think so if you scrolled down this blog, they're a very talented clan. I think Linda's next on my wish list.