Monthly Archives: November 2014

Van Morrison – Lit Up Inside – Concert Review – The Great Hall – Downpatrick – 22 November 2014 – BeardedRadio – Nanno

Photo by Nanno

Photo by Nanno

Photo by Nanno

Photo by Nanno

Photo by Nanno

Photo by Nanno

Photo by Nanno

Photo by Nanno

We jump into a taxi and are whisked away from our Hotel, with trees flashing by at speed, and corners being cut by the driver but I guess that’s what you do on country lanes. We pull into the grounds of an old Psychiatric Hospital in which a small theatre sits. Apparently it was originally used for shows and performances for the patients. The theatre is lovely, warm and inviting and intimately seats about 200 people.

We grab our seats in the 3rd row and wait. The stage is all set to go, but Van’s entourage are running in and out back stage. At one point one of them passes us by with large white bags, and runs behind the curtain. A few minutes later, there is a strong aroma of Chinese food. I hear people around me muttering “surely he’s not having a Chinese takeaway before he starts”. Suddenly, there is an announcement demanding everyone to take their seats, and that mobile phones must be switched off at all times. Everyone frantically rummages in their pockets and bags for fear of expulsion.

On stage are keyboards, trumpets, trombones, a clarinet and Saxophones of various shapes and sizes.
There was also to be found a double bass, a couple of base guitars, and 7 lead guitars, quite an ensemble. Van has both his mic stands in gold/brass, whilst everyone else has the bog standard black. Fair enough I think.

The band arrive, begin to play and then out Van marches onstage straight to the mic and into song. No one would have any other expectation of this man with a notorious reputation for non recognition of his fans and crowd, but as the audience clapped and cheered him, he gave an unexpected ‘thank you’. Woohoo, so far so good.

Van Morrison is in complete control from the very beginning. The lead guitarist doesn’t even face the audience, instead directly facing Van. He is clearly conducting everyone from his position on stage. All the band members are concentrating on his every move. He conducts them from crescendos to diminuendos. They watch him with such intensity as he can change his mind at any point as to how they are to play. It was like watching a symphony orchestra.

The musical ability of this man and his deliverance of it are sublime. I was hooked, as everyone else in the room appeared to be. Most of the music travelled down the blues route. Van was clearly having a great time, and loved the direction he was taking it. At one point, a ukulele was brought on stage and he immediately ushered it away. It was obvious that any previously arranged set was blown out the window. There was no Moondance nor Brown eyed girl, but you would have hardly noticed. There were 4 guitars in front of Van and he never touched one all night. He played his trusty Sax many times and of course his harmonica, using a distortion mic along side it that he also used for changing his vocals. There was at no point any real communication with the audience, but when recognition was showed for a particular tune, he did say “thank you” or nod. It was very unexpected from Van really.

There were a few times when his well known stage attitude came to light, when there appeared to be something he didn’t like from the drummer and bass player, which was unnoticed by the audience of course. He showed signs of irritation and quickly whipped them into shape. He doesn’t attempt to shade his voice from the mic. Its all about the music and if something isn’t to his satisfaction, he will let it be known. Likewise he also vocalised when he liked something. ‘ Nice, I like that, that was good, do it again’.

During instrumentals, Van occasionally took to the mic and rambled background talk. At one point, he randomly quotes Mae West as Lady Lou “Is that a gun in your pocket or are you just glad to see me”. He made people laugh. Yes you have read it correctly. He made people giggle, several times I might add.

This was a performance I will never forget. I danced in my seat all night and wished it had been a standing only performance as the music absorbed me. I wouldn’t usually be that enticed by blues alone, but I was hooked and had wanted to move. Then an hour and half in, Van says thank you and walks off. The audience erupts; everyone rose to their feet and chanted him back. Back he came to the ever-famous “G L O R I A”.
Everyone was delighted and danced throughout the song. Towards the end of the tune, Van pointed to the band and said  “The band” and walked off. It was pretty clear he wasn’t coming back. The band seemed to breath a sigh of relief, and they each in turn did a solo. It was awesome that  they had the freedom to do it their way, and their way they did it. It was immense and highly appreciated by everyone.

Van Morrison you are a genius!
Next time I see you on Holywood high street, I won’t say hello.

Nanno

Moondance (Expanded Edition)
Ultimate Van Morrison Collection

Led Zeppelin IV – Deluxe Edition – Re-mastered

Led Zeppelin IV (Remastered)

The great guitarist and rock legend Jimmy Page, has been quite vocal recently with his desire to return to the studio and indeed tour once again. Judging from front man Robert Plant’s continual rejection of such a notion and he himself busy on tour, it looks like the prospect of a full scale Led Zeppelin reunion is clearly ruled out. In the meantime, Jimmy Page has been keeping himself busy by meticulously re-mastering the Led Zeppelin back catalogue and offering bonus material comprising of alternate musical arrangements of each album. Led Zeppelin IV & Houses of The Holy, Deluxe Editions were released 27th October. Each Deluxe Edition of albums, I, II, & III have been hugely enjoyable, with some interesting and alternate mixes. I would recommend checking them out. I wanted to go into more detail with Led Zeppelin IV. It is without a doubt one of my desert island disc choices, in my top five favourite albums, and I have never tired of it after years of continual play.
I was more interested to see what the bonus material and alternate mixes would entail.
The alternative mix of each of the eight tracks made for a pleasant and positive listening experience. What struck me most was its stripped back and raw approach of familiar tracks, offered officially for the first time by Jimmy Page. “Black Dog” was certainly back to basics with guitar overdubs, whilst “Rock and Roll” had a somewhat grungier garage style, not as finely polished as the original.
“The Battle of Evermore” and “Going to California” were the two personal highlights offered as instrumental versions, of incendiary guitar and mandolin playing. It is two compositions where you can really appreciate John Paul Jones and Jimmy Page’s musical arrangements. These are two tracks that I have always felt showed Led Zeppelin’s softer, smooth style, that fits in so perfectly side by side with heavier songs. In contrast to this, John Bonham demonstrates in both “Four Sticks” and “When the Levee Breaks” , his infamous and booming ability as an accomplished drummer which are the backbone to both songs. Again I found these to be raw mixes which are not too dissimilar to the originals, and hey why would they be? On “Misty Mountain Hop”, I honestly did not notice much difference at all, perhaps a heavier drum beat and slight varation on Plant’s singing.
Finally the masterpiece, “Stairway to Heaven” is one of the most famous songs of all time, apparently the most played song ever on radio. Robert Plant’s voice is the clear winner on this alternate sunset mix. The best way to describe it to you, is that it sounds as though Led Zeppelin had set up in a huge Cathedral and the almost echo sound quality of Plant’s voice was captured as it sneaked into a huge space. The great guitar solo as the song reaches it climax has some extra guitar thrown in by Jimmy and Bonham’s beats also sound clearer on this version. I really enjoyed this alternative mix, and being able to appreciate each instruments contribution to the overall composition.
I think it’s fair to say, that I might be a little biased when it comes to Led Zeppelin. I’ve grown up with them and their back catalogue. I still feel as strongly and as passionately as I did when I first discovered them all those years ago. The new Deluxe Edition is thoroughly enjoyable and it has been an interesting experience,  being able to hear what these songs could well have sounded like. If you a big Led Zeppelin fan, I would definitely recommend checking out the new offerings. However if you are a novice when it comes to them, Led Zeppelin IV is the place to start, whether its 1971’s or 2014’s version, I don’t think anyone could be disappointed.

Stephen.

Led Zeppelin IV (Deluxe Edition)
Houses Of The Holy (Deluxe Edition)

Led Zeppelin (Deluxe Edition)
Led Zeppelin II (Deluxe Edition)
Led Zeppelin III (Deluxe Edition)

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Kylie – Kiss Me Once -12th November – The SSE Hydro – Glasgow – Concert – Review

Photo by Dejaybird

Photo by Dejaybird

Photo by Dejaybird

Photo by Dejaybird

Photo by Dejaybird

Photo by Dejaybird

Kiss Me Once is the 12th studio album from author, fashion designer, talent show judge, actress and pop legend Kylie Minogue. When released in March of this year, it appeared to be a career stalling move with a bad choice of super producers, mixed reviews and moderate sales world wide. However live, the phenomenon called Kylie still remains a hot ticket and the 12th of November saw the triumphant return of the “showgirl” to the SSE Hydro Glasgow on her world tour.

As usual with a Kylie concert, the stage is elaborate and the costumes designed by Dolce & Gabbana, Jean Paul Gaultier and Julien Macdonald are eye catching to say the least. The musical director is long time collaborator Steve Anderson and along with William Baker back on board as creative director. However these are just the ribbons and bows around the gift. Kylie could take the stage with a single light bulb and have the audience eating out of her hand. She is gifted with the ability to make every single person in a big arena feel part of the show with her warmth and enthusiasm touching everybody, from the people at the front to the very back of arena.

The setlist of the concert was a celebration of 25 years plus of glorious pop. “Spinning Around”, “In Your Arms”, “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head” and simply breath taking version of “Slow” were met with delight from an ecstatic Hydro crowd. Another hugely entertaining part of the concert was a highly camp medley of her early PWL hits which included Kylie singing “I Should Be So Lucky” in a bath full of bubbles.

What really surprised me the most was how well some of the material from the “Kiss Me Once” album came across live. An example of this was the song “Beautiful” which on the album was a lumpy auto-tuned ballad, but shimmered and shined live with Kylie’s vocal giving it a whole new emotional depth. Other songs from the new album faired equally well. Opener “Les Sex”, Kiss Me Once” and the encore “Into The Blue” all pulsated live gaining an enthusiastic response from the Glasgow crowd. However my one minor grumble was the inclusion of “Sexercize” which was a mess on record and not even the kiss of life from Kylie live could save this dogs dinner of a song.

Malcolm

Kiss Me Once
The Abbey Road Sessions
Aphrodite

Chvrches – Concert Review – Edinburgh

Photo By Cat

Photo By Cat

Photo by Cat

Photo by Cat

The 5th of November, bonfire night, and the last Scottish date Chvrches played in their sold out UK tour.

“We know there are other activities you could have done tonight. Fireworks. Sparklers..” says an exuberant Lauren Mayberry. “But you’ll have to make do with a fuckload(large amount) of lasers instead!” Interjected keys player Martin Docherty. And my oh my, it really was an explosive evening to remember. Streams and patterns of multicoloured lasers and strobes dazzled and wowed the electrified crowd throughout the entire set.

This being the bands final UK tour in support of their debut album “The Bones Of What You Believe” at Edinburgh’s Corn Exchange, the crowd of thousands were of course fired up for favourites ‘Gun’, ‘Recover’ and ‘The Mother We Share’. Another great highlight to the evening was when Martin Docherty took the mic to perform ‘Under The Tide’.

The bands new single ‘Get Away’ (out 8th December) went down very well with the thrilled crowd as they jumped and danced along.

‘The Bones For What You Believe’ debuted in the top 10 UK chart back in 2013 and the band became a sensation over night. It charted #12 in the US Billboard top 200 and it has now sold over half a million copies.

Another of the bands new songs ‘Dead Air’ is set to feature in the upcoming hunger games movie ‘The Hunger Games – Mockingjay Part 1’ (out 17th Nov).

It’s safe to say we are very excited by the success of this Glaswegian electronic idie pop threesome, and are very much looking forward to the next chapter.

Cat

For tour dates & tickets, videos, social media, music store and all the latest news from Chvrches, visit the website.

The War On Drugs – Lost In The Dream – album review

Lost In The Dream

One of the most exciting live music events for Edinburgh in 2015, will be the appearance of “The War Against Drugs” at the Usher Hall on 28th of February. I’m embarrassed to say I’m a little bit late to this party, but thanks to a friend playing me some of the excellent new album “Lost In The Dream”, I’m now greatly enjoying discovering this outstanding band and their back catalogue.

“The War On Drugs” are an American rock band fronted by guitarist/vocalist Adam Granduciel. Formed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 2005. They have since gone onto release 4 albums “Wagonwheel Blues” in 2008 then “Future Weather” in 2010 followed by “Slave Ambient” in 2011 and “Lost in the Dream” in March 2014.

“Lost In The Dream” pays homage to the classic 70’s American rock sound with the listener being reminded of Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan or Tom Petty, particularly in the vocal style. However Adam Granduciel manages to carve his own vocal identity on the songs with a heartfelt and sometimes passionately fragile delivery.

This is an album loaded with memorable hook lines, especially the songs “Under The Pressure” and “Red Eyes” which worm themselves into your brain quickly. However this is also an album that is willing to take risks and successfully gifts the listener with songs, some lasting well over 6 minutes long with a prog rock influence which are never boring or overblown.

The outstanding moment for me in this sea of treasure is a song called “Disappearing”. After listening to this album for a couple of weeks, this song still gives me shivers with the exquisite guitar playing, synthesizer textures and brief but despairing lyrics.

It will be interesting to see how the material transfers from record to the live stage. I personally can’t wait until I see them on the 28th of February and hope to see you there.

Malcolm

Lost In The Dream
Wagonwheel Blues

Future Weather
Slave Ambient

Mylittlebrother – If We Never Came Down – Album Review

Photo by Dan Mason

Photo by Dan Mason

I told Nanno at BeardedRadio some weeks ago,  I’d been listening to “Mylittlebrother”, she correctly pointed out, that in over 20 years of knowing me, I’d never mentioned him before. I don’t have a younger brother, I do have “If We Never Came Down” the Début album by “Mylittlebrother” a tightly-knit group of friends from Cumbria, all sharing a love for music. Formed as recent as 2012,  Singer-songwriter and mighty fine musician Will Harris and the rest of the band Cath Davies, Bertie Fritsch, Dee Hanking, Sarah Joy, Martin Lee, Dan Mason, Amy Tweddle (With Jude Connelly and Simon Walker) have wasted no time earning their stripes, gigging regular and often, along with a hugely successful festival season, great reviews and an ever increasing presence on our airwaves.

I decided to put “If We Never Came Down” to the test, listening to this album daily for a month, sometimes whilst out walking, perhaps in the afternoon with a pot of Assam or occasionally in bed. I had no idea if these 12 songs would become tired and allow my tendency for distraction to take over.

Warm and welcoming “Lovers Of Life, Unite” opens the album up perfectly, “NoseDive” takes the vibe from a sway to more of a shuffle, enjoying a tense build-up and down dramatically with both the music and vocal. Completely inside the album now, lyrical masterpiece “Over The Hill”, a song with absolutely nowhere to hide, sang beautifully by Will. Swiftly picking things up again with “Gold”, “My Hypocritical Friend” leading to worthy album title track “If We Never Came Down”, before slipping into “Slow Dance” a well timed  and placed instrumental. “Profiteroles”,“Zeus” and “Sane Girls Are Boring”, a funny song, brings us to one of my favourites, “PaintWork” leading to the closing number “A Song About Amsterdam”, this album finishes how it started.

“Mylittlebrother” are now comfortably fixed into my music collection, I’m excited to see what the future holds for them. I thoroughly enjoy how elements of this album prompts me to reminise and tap into memories of decades past, equally its an authentic collection of songs produced in a very palatable and current style.

Joe

If We Never Came Down

 

 

Pink Floyd – The Endless River – Album – Review

The Endless River

The release of the latest, and ‘allegedly’ last ever Pink Floyd album was something I regarded with slight suspicion, and a sense of dread. The foundation of the album was based on Richard Wright’s outtakes lying around after “The Division Bell” sessions almost 20 years ago. In recent years, it has become an alarming trend by record companies to scrape the bottom of the barrel of posthumous artists/bands outtakes to create albums of frankly substandard material to fleece the fans of their money. So when I heard “The Endless River” had being created from bits and pieces, I did feel slightly alarmed. Also I must confess I have not been the hugest fan of post Roger Water’s Pink Floyd, particularly 1987’s album “A Momentary Lapse Of Reason” which I thought lyrically, was a bit of a mess.

However, “The Endless River” decides to play to all the remaining 3 members of Pink Floyd’s strengths, and due to the mainly instrumental nature of the album, it avoids the frankly embarrassing lyrics that spoilt some of their recent albums (anybody remember “Dogs of War”). This record is closer to previous albums such as “Meddle” or “Wish You Were Here” with its beautiful synthesizers and fluid guitar playing. However there is nothing on the album as outstanding as “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” or “Echoes”, but it does provide a pleasant cohesive listen from start to finish. As always, David Gilmour’s guitar playing is exquisite taking centre stage on most of the album, while Richard Wright’s synthesizers add textures and depths to this suite of music.

“The Endless River” does provide a fitting epilogue to one of the greatest bands in British music and is a suitable tribute to the late Richard Wright. Pink Floyd have avoided chasing tacky trends such as getting hip producers in to update their sound, instead they’ve finished the book with an album that reminds fans of the many reasons why we fell in love with them in the first place. However it must be said a small part of me still wished for an appearance by Roger Waters but that ship sailed down “The Endless River” sadly a long time ago.

Malcolm.

The Endless River
The Dark Side Of The Moon Experience Edition (2011 - Remaster)
Wish You Were Here [2011 - Remaster] (2011 - Remaster)
The Division Bell (2011 Remastered Version) [Explicit]

Emily Barker and The Red Clay Halo – October 2014 – Belfast

Almanac

Emily Barker and The Red Clay Halo Photo By Nanno

Emily Barker and The Red Clay Halo Photo by Nanno

Emily Barker and The Red Clay Halo
Photo by Nanno

On a Cheeky wee Wednesday night out to Elmwood Hall, Queens Universtiy, Belfast, as part of the Belfast Festival at Queens. I didn’t have much knowledge of Emily to begin with and so was in for an unknown treat.

Emily, an Australian born singer songwriter, moved to the UK in 2002 and teamed up with Rob Jackson. They quickly formed the band The-low-country and released two albums together. In 2005, Emily worked on her first Solo album Photos.Fires.Fables that led to her teaming up with The Red Clay Halo which is made up of Anna Jenkins (Violin, viola, vocals), Gill Sandell (Accordion, piano, flute, vocals) and Jo Silverston (Cello, bass, banjo, vocals).

They then released an album together named ‘Despite The Snow’ where the track ‘Nostalgia’ was used as the theme tune for the hit TV series Wallander, starring Kenneth Branagh. They then released a second album together, which again had another song ‘Pause’ chosen and featured in the series The Shadow Line, starring Christopher Eccleston.

From the moment the girls walked on stage and picked up their instruments, they immediately had my full attention. I wasn’t quite sure how a Cello, a Violin and an accordion accompanying a guitar was going to come together. Once they began I couldn’t get enough of them. Their ability to transform a tune and bind it all together was nothing short of perfection. Emily’s songs are a mix between folk and country with lyrics that take you someplace. The harmonies they produced were faultless and their voices complimented one another.

I spent much of the evening dodging the heads of the folk in front of me, this was so I could keep track of who was playing what and where. When Jo put her bow or finger to the strings of her cello I was in awe of her ability to change the soul of the songs. At one point there was a strong beat that seemed to appear from nowhere, until you noticed Emily’s right leg using a foot pedal of sorts whilst singing and playing the guitar.

This was one of my most favourites of recent gigs and I couldn’t have enjoyed it more. For me having a love of various instruments, I embraced the music from every angle, from words, beats, bows, voices and the combination of them all.

If you get the opportunity to see Emily Baker and The Red Clay Halo, you can expect nothing but a wonderful musical massage to your ears. They are professional, beautiful and have talents between them that could only be envied, from Emily’s writing to the tunes and voices they all produce.

Nanno

Photos. Fires. Fables.

 

 

Clannad – Concert Review – October 2014

Nádúr

Clannad are an Irish band, formed in Gweedore, County Donegal in 1970. The original line up featured siblings Moya, Enya, Pol and Ciaran Brennan along with their twin uncles Padraig and Noel Duggan. However, Enya left the band in 1981 to pursue a highly successfully solo career. Since their formation, Clannad have released 16 studio albums, achieved international success selling over 15 million albums worldwide, won countless awards including an Ivor Novello, BAFTA, Billboard and a Grammy. 2013 saw the release of Clannad’s new studio album “Nádúr”. Their first since “Landmarks” in 1997 and they embarked on an extensive tour to promote the new record, including a show at Alhambra Theatre, Dunfermiline on the 25th of October.

The setlist consisted primarily of songs from the outstanding “Nádúr”, alongside an assortment of classics from their popular albums of the 1980s and 1990s. Opening with “I Will Find You”, the love theme from the motion picture “The Last Of The Mohicans” and including such classics like the haunting “Theme From Harry’s Game”, “In A Lifetime” and an array of songs from the “Legend (Robin Of Sherwood)” album. Clannad’s setlist of old and new compositions combined, proved to be the right move judging by the audience reaction. The crowd responded to songs from “Nádúr” with the same warmth and enthusiasm as the old favourites which is a testament to the strength and quality of the new material.

The concert was a truly magical experience with the listener being transported back in time to Sherwood Forest or Newgrange in Ireland and attending this show felt like the closest I will ever get to having a trip in a TARDIS in my life time. A Clannad concert becomes a celebration of the rich heritage of story telling through song, sharing tales of romance, love, loss and bravery in times gone by.

Without a doubt the jewel in Clannad’s crown is the ethereal vocals of Moya Brennan. From the moment, she walks on stage you are charmed by her warmth and humour and utterly blown away by the enchanting depth and quality of her voice. Like Kate Bush, Moya is steeped in the Celtic tradition of story telling through song and she inhabits the characters she sings about bringing them to life on the stage. I was frequently awe struck during this concert that it was possible to have 5 such talented people in one family. However particularly the multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Pol Brennan struck me as a driving force in the band live. He comes across as a charismatic front man blessed with enthusiasm and passion that immediately engages the audience.

As always with Clannad, it was a truly outstanding evening of beautiful music,  I can not recommend seeing them perform live highly enough.  The next time you get the opportunity, buy, beg, borrow or steal, do what you have to do, to get a ticket.

Malcolm.

The Best Of Clannad

Banba

Legend