The Workman's Club is an atmospheric small venue on the Southside of the Liffey on Dublin's Quays. The building, next door to the U2-owned Clarence Hotel, is over 160 years old and was home to an actual working mens club from 1888 to 2003. It has been a live music venue since 2010 and has won the Hot Press/IMRO Live Music Venue of the Year Award.

It was the opportunity to see Tonstartssbandht live that had me heading into the place and I found myself thinking how nice it was and that I should go there more often. Storm Doris had been causing havoc and the start of the show had been pushed back by an hour as the band had been delayed on the ferry coming over.

Support was by Elliott Vincent Jones, who sang along to a laptop and danced with flailing arms. He sounded vaguely like Talking Heads and some girls were dancing enthusiastically. He performed his own music, but it was nonetheless too karaoke for me.

What little I knew about Tonstartssbandht I had found online. They are a duo consisting of brothers Edwin Mathis White and Andy White, originally from Florida, now based in Brooklyn. They started in 2007 and have released an unusual large volume of music since then. They are also members of Mac Demarco's band Their curious name is pronounced tahn-starts-bandit and was the result of Edwin randomly stringing letters and words together. I cringe at band names with deliberate misspellings, so the strange name did not endear them to me. After the support act it was a relief however to see a drum kit and a guitar set up on stage: Proper instruments, always a plus.

It is difficult to describe the music and that seems to be the guys' intention. At times the vibe was 60-ish, a bit reminiscent of the Doors. The songs were very long, built up out of very different sounding parts. There was no verse/chorus structure. The guitar was sometimes nice and jangly; the drums were powerful, with plenty of echo. It all sounded like long jams rather than actual songs. The brothers sang in falsetto voices at times; the vocals were on the thin side, buried in the otherwise fairly heavy music. For only two musicians they produced a big sound.

The band said that it was their first time playing in Ireland and they were appreciative of the turnout. Edwin told us about his ferry experience and his bout of seasickness. He had been staggering around like a drunk and once he sat down he saw the horizon go up and down through a window for the remainder of the journey (tip from an experienced ferry traveller: Go outside next time).

As a live act Tonstartssbandht are entertaining. It would not be the kind of music I would listen to at home. I do not really see the point of constructing pieces of music out of many disjointed parts. There is no accounting for taste of course.   



Tonstartssbandht. 'Sorcerer' comes out on 24th March 2017 via Mexican Summer.


Well, Monday nights don’t get much better than this. A new venue for us, and what a great venue (apart from the usual O2 fare of Tubourg and Heineken) the Institute in Birmingham is. Capacity of 1,500 this is an intimate place and a host of fine bands regularly tread these boards. Great views of the stage, this really is the, 'seeing a big band, in a small venue' gig.

Great to see Israel Nash back on stage and hopefully there is a new album soon. Just with a pedal steel guitarist tonight, the duo unleash a firestorm of acoustic music for half an hour or so, finishing up with a gritty version of The Band’s ‘I Shall Be Released’

Band of Horses, last seen at the Shepherds Bush Empire in 2016, where songs from the new album ‘Why Are You Ok’ got a live airing in the UK. Now a few months on and the band are back in the road groove and the tightness is clear. A set around 1 hour 45 mins, has a liberal sprinkling of better known songs throughout . It’s a nice trip through the band’s history as they enter their second decade.

Formed in Seattle in 2004 their full length debut was the 2005 release of ‘Everything All the Time’ which remains their touchstone however, the four albums since and various band member changes has not diluted the superb songwriting or live sound.

This is a cracking show, loud, raw and rocking, this 5 piece turn a Monday night into a Friday night with ease!


Set List

Dull Times/The Moon
The Great Salt Lake
Solemn Oath
Casual Party
Marry Song
St. Augustine
Country Teen
Throw My Mess
Blue Beard
Cigarettes, Wedding Bands
In a Drawer
No One's Gonna Love You
Islands on the Coast
NW Apt.
Is There a Ghost
The General Specific


The Funeral

American Football have become regular visitors to the UK over the past couple of years and with the release of LP2 in 2016 they have returned for a show at “their favourite venue” The Shepherds Bush Empire.

The gig is a real winter warmer. Support comes from New Jersey native/Chicago inhabitant Evan Thomas Weiss AKA; Into It. Over It.

Before he plays bass for American Football, Evan gets an extensive solo set, suffering from ‘Man flu’ like symptoms his singing voice remains intact and with three albums of material, he delivers a fine solo set.

American Football sound as dreamy live as they do on record. LP2 is played front to back and in order for the first half of the gig. Perhaps playing the songs in order is a bit uninspiring (unless it’s a 20th anniversary tour) but,, it really does suit this particular band. The music is intense, relationships, ups .. mainly downs ... so when listening to LP2, you listen to the whole album again and again, so for the live show, you can experience the same emotions.

The band formed in1997, with LP1 disbanded in 2000 and then reunited in 2014, with LP2 as already mentioned being released ilast year. There is a certain mystique about the band so, when Mike Kinsella say’s something like “You’ve had your money’s worth”, you wonder if the gig is coming to a premature close. Thankfully it’s just a break (not sure why they would need one) and after fifteen minutes they are back for songs from LP1 and the ninety minutes of the show are effectively sublime.


Set List

Where Are We Now?

My Instincts Are the Enemy 

Home Is Where the Haunt Is 

Born to Lose

I've Been So Lost for So Long

Give Me the Gun

I Need a Drink (or Two or Three)

Desire Gets in the Way

Everyone Is Dressed Up 


The One With the Tambourine

Stay Home 

For Sure

I'll See You When We're Both Not So Emotional 

The Summer Ends 

Never Meant

New dates added for more shows in the summer:

1 Sep 
- Brigton Concorde 2
2 Sep 
- Albert Hall

3 Sep - 

4 Sep -  Button Factory

 Dublin, Ireland

It's 27th May 1967 the first line-up of Fairport Convention play their first ever gig at St. Michael's Church Hall in Golders Green. Some 25 members later and Simon Nichol (who is the one remaining original member though he went for a mid 1970's wander), Dave Pegg, Ric Sanders, Chris Leslie and Gerry Conway who have been the band since 1998 celebrate Fairport's 50th year. The celebratory year starts with the traditional Winter tour criss-crossing the country during February and March.

Fiddle player Ric Sanders introduces tonight's support Sally Barker, who you may know from a recent series of The Voice, but for many years she has been a member of The Poozies and sings with the re-formed Sandy Denny's Fotheringay, which provides a neat link to an early Fairport Convention line-up. Sally plays folky-country-blues songs from her most recent solo album 'Ghost Girl' along with tracks from earlier in her varied career.

There's a beautiful country song possibly called “Two Hearts”, which she's considering giving to Dolly Parton to record. 'Talk About The Money' gets a good rapport with the audience tonight. The tradition is that before starting their set, Fairport accompany the final track of the support's set which tonight is an excellent track called 'I'm Not Whole' which was written by Sally's son.

Fairport Convention start their first set with a new track 'Our Bus Rolls On' from the new album 50:50 @50, which acts as a bio for the current band members echoing the themes of 1971's 'Angel Delight'. Whilst Chris Leslie has been the band's main songwriter since 1996, the band always recognise their significant earlier authors. 'Genesis Hall' is introduced as written by Richard Thompson when he was “ .. just out of nappies ....which he'll be going back into shortly ... well it happens to all of us” a Swarbrick/ Thompson track “Now Be Thankful” (one of my personal favourites) is sensitively and beautifully played with Chris taking lead vocals.

There's a preamble to explain the origin of the next track which is a new arrangement of the instrumental 'Danny Jack's Reward', which goes something like this ; Ric “ I phoned Peggy and told him I wanted to make a new arrangement of Danny Jack's Reward for us to play at Cropredy with some additional musicians”, Peggy replied “How many additional musicians do you want ? “, “I replied 43!”. What follows is the arrangement which Joe Broughton's Conservatoire Folk Ensemble (all 43 of them) played at Fairport's 2014 Cropredy festival and is now known as the expensive version, although tonight we get the cheap version played by the five piece it's still a great new arrangement.

The second half of the show begins with a couple tracks from the back catalogue, the traditional track 'Sir Patrick Spens' and Sandy Denny's composition 'Fotheringay'. Sally Barker returns to take Sandy's vocals on 'Rising For The Moon'. There's 'Farewell, Farewell ' from the multi-award winning 'Liege and Lief' album really brings out the beautiful twin fiddle playing of Ric Sanders and Chris Leslie.

The opening track from the new album is 'Eleanor's Dream' which is a rockier number in the style of 'Myths and Heroes'. Final track with the now familiar banjo intro from Chris is of course 'Matty Groves' ,which tells the story of doomed love between a lady of the manor bored with her husband and the handsome man she sees in the church (the years and the venues may change but the theme remains). Sally Barker returns (place a bet on her appearing at Cropredy this year) to sing a verse of 'Meet on the Ledge' as we bid farewell to old friends and promise to see them them again because as the song finishes “if you really mean it, it all comes round again”.

The Winter Tour continues until 5th March, there's a special 50 years celebration of the first show at the Union Chapel in London, and Fairport's Cropredy Convention is 10th -12th August in a field in Oxfordshire.


Alisdair Whyte


Martin Simpson is listed in Gibson Guitars' Top 30 Acoustic Guitarists of all time, and Acoustic Guitar readers voted him number 12 guitarist in the world”- thus read the blurb advertising this concert. Undoubtedly Martin is that, and in addition he is a songwriter, a fine singer, storyteller and a kind of music historian, who could keep an audience enraptured even if he did not play anything at all.

I have been a fan of Martin's since first coming across him at the Cambridge Folk Festival in 2007, at the time of his 'Prodigal Son' album. I have followed him since, seen him many times over, mainly at Cambridge, and bought every subsequent release, yet he never seemed to come to Ireland - unless I missed it of course, but I do watch gig listings rigorously.

The Hot Spot Music Club in Greystones, a venue above a pub/restaurant, was sold out for this rare performance. I arrived really early as I very much wanted a front row seat. This was partly a muso audience. Men around me were discussing technical guitar stuff that I have no understanding of. I take it from friends knowledgeable in these matters that Martin is an absolute master on the guitar.

Support came from a sympathetic singing fisherman from Wexford. Then some local musicians played, and the audience readied themselves - drinks, rest room, everything out of the way so as to not miss a minute of the gig. Martin himself was sitting on the edge of the stage, looking down and seemingly getting himself mentally ready, in the way I have seen musicians do this at house gigs, where there is also no dressing room to provide privacy. Martin was flexing his fingers and I noticed he was wearing one leather glove, on his right hand. He looked up and shot me a smile. Then an audience member walked over and they talked animatedly for a bit. After that Martin stood up and the gig started, without fanfare.

What followed was a dream of a show. It was a joy and a privilege to be there. Martin played the entire set on one guitar, tuning in between songs in his unique way. His tuning is like short instrumental intermezzos. He played three songs before addressing the audience, but from then on he talked at length about the songs. His introductions are an integral part of the gig and to me he is like a favourite teacher. I could listen for hours. And so it seemed to be for everybody present. If only audiences could be so quiet and appreciative at all gigs!

'Dark Swift and Bright Swallow' from the Simpson Cutting Kerr album was an early highlight. 'The Plains of Waterloo' from the same album was played as well. Martin had no setlist and did not pause at all, only to tune. He just kept playing. There were no requests, we did not have to sing. Everybody simply listened intently.

Martin talked about his father and his family and played what he described as his hit, 'Never Any Good'. He also talked about his time in the U.S. and played, 'Delta Dreams' and one of my favourites, 'An Englishman Abroad'. He spoke about Leonard Cohen and the wonder of his late career renaissance, followed by a beautiful cover of 'Stranger Song'.

As the gig went on I was aware that we would be missing the last train back to Dublin, but leaving was out of the question. In the end my partner and I were rescued by a kind American who let us share his ride. This man was over in Dublin on business and presumed that Martin plays here regularly. Not so.. I asked Martin afterwards why he does not come over to Ireland more often, to which he replied, "I should really. People don't seem to be opposed to me being here". An understatement if ever there was one.

Martin has a new album coming out this year and it seems he will once again be back at my favourite festival.



A truly life affirming gig. Three hours, fifteen musicians on stage most of the time and a real musical camaraderie amongst the troupe.

Transatlantic Sessions revisits shared roots between Celtic and Americana musicians, so it say’s on the tin and indeed that is the blend of the evening. The project’s founding musical directors are Dobro maestro, Jerry Douglas, and Shetland fiddler and all-round legend, Aly Bain who lead a band that includes John Doyle, Danny Thompson, Michael McGoldrick, Russ Barenberg, John McCusker, Donald Shaw and James Mackintosh.

Then comes the guests, ex-Civil Wars man, John Paul White, Singer/Songwriter, Tift Merritt, multi-instrumentalist Dirk Powell, legendary singer, Jim Lauderdale, the lovely Irish folk singer Karan Casey and from Scotland the ever wonderful Eddi Reader.

The two part show either sees the main band in full instrumentation jig flow or one of the guest artists up front with the band playing along. Most people on the stage seem to have new albums out (this is a running joke all night, even if someone has not got a new album out, they say they have!) so, there is plenty of new music to hear.

Throughout the night most people get four songs each and it’s a real contrast is styles between them all, there is never a moment where the enjoyment dips.

Tributes to Guy Clark and some other lost souls of 2016 are handled beautifully. The key to the night is the humour, stories and banter between everyone on stage.

This was the first visit to Cambridge for this annual tour so, let’s hope they are back next year. A truly wonderful show.

credit: Murdo Macleod



With well over forty years of gigs under my belt and finding my musical feet in the Seventies, it is hard to understand why I have never seen Black Sabbath live before. When tickets went on sale last year for ‘The End’ tour, there was one last chance remaining so, I grabbed it with both hands and brought a ticket for the last show on the tour in their hometown of Birmingham.

The Genting Arena is on the site of the NEC and is a fair way out of the City but it is a great arena size venue which holds 15,000 people yet, without you ever feeling you are standing in an Aircraft hanger.

Rival Sons from Long Beach, California kick off the show with a rocking set that really sets the mood. Regular touring partners for Black Sabbath, they are an excellent live outfit.

There are no great fanfares tonight, the place is full to bursting and, you just get the feeling that the main event is going to be what we would expect. A no frills workmanlike show, solid, intense, powerful, nothing less than Black Sabbath always deliver.

8.40pm and the lights go out, the bells toll and the curtain drops as the band kick off the set with ‘Black Sabbath’ from their 1970 debut. It’s a menacing start. ‘Fairies Wear Boots’ from Paranoid is next and it’s like a time machine! What is instantly obvious is how tight this band still is and what an amazing guitarist Tony Iommi remains.

The set has been constant during this final tour but, friends who had been to the London shows said that that tonight’s show saw the band on their best form of the tour and the sound mix, certainly the finest.

The set list speaks for itself, even a nod to that question “Name the best four best metal albums of all time”; Answer, “The first four Black Sabbath Albums” .

‘War Pigs’ mid set and N.I.B., are absolute gems as is ‘Hand of Doom’ from ‘Paranoid’. It’s a real treat to hear this song. We really need a four hour show to get all the songs in, ‘Sabbath Bloody Sabbath’ is an instrumental and a drum solo takes care of the toilet break for the older members of the band.

The final section includes mighty versions of ‘Iron Man’ and an epic ‘Children of the Grave’ plus a shower of black and purple balloons, (which is just fitting for this show, nothing flashy, the music does the talking).

The band return for a final and sonic version of ‘Paranoid’ with, Geezer Butler sporting an Aston Villa Bass guitar in front of 15,000 pairs of arms held aloft (for the band, not Aston Villa, I must add).

An outstanding, never to be forgotten show. It was being recorded but, perhaps for those there, just let it sink into the memory where over the years, it will obtain an ever greater status of magic in your mind.


Set List

Black Sabbath,
Fairies Wear Boots,
Under the Sun/Every Day Comes and Goes,
After Forever,
Into the Void,
War Pigs,
Behind the Wall of Sleep,
Hand of Doom,
Supernaut/Sabbath Bloody Sabbath/Megalomania,
Rat Salad,
Iron Man,
Dirty Women,
Children of the Grave



When I read that Margo Price was coming to Dublin I bought a ticket instantly. I had only heard one or two songs at that point and did not own a copy of her excellent album 'Midwest Farmer's Daughter' yet. There was a buzz about her though and I felt I had to go and see her.

For those who have not heard the back story: Margo is indeed a Midwest farmer's daughter who dropped out of school and moved to Nashville, where she worked odd jobs, started doing music and met her husband. She had her share of hardships. The death of a baby drove her to drink and depression and she even spent time in prison. She pawned her wedding ring and sold her car to be able to record her album in Memphis' Sun Studios.

After many rejections none other than Jack White decided he liked the album and it was released on Third Man Records. It scored high in many end-of-year lists and if there was any justice Margo should have been nominated for a Grammy alongside Sturgill Simpson.

So I found myself in the Button Factory in Temple Bar on a Sunday night. The stage was set up for the main act - 'Margo Price' written on the bass drum, a pedal steel to the right. It was only when an unassuming guy with a guitar walked on stage that I realised there was going to be a support act. He started playing and I found myself thinking that he was uncommonly good. After a few songs he mentioned that he was Margo's husband. Jeremy Ivey then played what he said he considered his best song, 'Loner', and I could not agree more. It sounded like something Townes Van Zandt could have written. Margo joined him for two songs and they duetted wonderfully.

The headline show was fantastic. Margo was accompanied by a superb band compromising drums, bass, electric guitar and pedal steel. Margo herself played acoustic guitar and tambourine and Jeremy dropped in and out on guitar and harmonica. They played a total of 18 songs including most of the album, as well as some newer songs, including the great 'It ain't drunk driving if you're riding a horse', written by friend of theirs who holds down a day job in a grocery store, as per Margo.

Highlight of the show was her masterpiece 'Hands Of Time'. What a song that is.. It got a prolonged ovation from the crowd. And even if Margo had not lived the life and written such great songs, she could have made it as a singer alone, which was particularly evident on her cover of Dolly Parton's 'Jolene'. She also covered Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings and the band did a lovely version of Bob Dylan's 'Nashville Skyline Rag'.

The encore included 'Me and Bobby McGee', which I particularly enjoyed as I had listened to my one and only Kris Kristofferson CD only a few days earlier, following the rumour that he will fill this year's Glastonbury legend slot (yes please!). A friend of mine who saw Margo last year had said he enjoyed her show but that rapport with the audience was a little lacking. I can only presume that her confidence has grown as this successful tour continues. Perhaps not as natural a stage presence as her husband, Margo nonetheless addressed the audience frequently and also came down into the crowd to sing and dance from there towards the end.

Gig of the year so far! If I come across a better one I shall report back, but this will take some beating.



This show was part of the The Music Network tour featuring, Julie Fowlis, Kris Drever, Pádraig Rynne, Aoife Ní Bhriain. Music Network is an organisation that organises nationwide tours of Ireland with musicians that they invite over especially (trad, folk, world and classical). Often they bring groups of musicians together specifically to get them to collaborate. In their programme they liken it to matchmaking.

I wonder whether it is skillful choices or luck as to whether these unique partnerships work out. I have been to quite a few Music Network concerts over the years and the groupings are nearly always good, sometimes great, but it can also happen that individually brilliant musicians actually are not that suited to sharing the stage.

This criticism could not at all be fired at tonight's line up, which combined the talents of Scots Gaelic singer Julie Fowlis, singer/songwriter Kris Drever from Orkney, young concertina player extraordinaire Pádraig Rynne and Dublin violinist Aoife Ní Bhriain.

The quartet met initially in Inverness to get to know each other and develop a repertoire for this nine date tour. My options were either going to the second show, in the Sugar Club, a lovely venue a stone's throw from where I live, or to go to the last show at the Pavilion, a sympathetic theatre with nonetheless terribly cramped seating out in Dún Laoghaire. I went for the latter, since trad collaborations do get better with time.

Julie Fowlis was my main reason for going and once the musicians took the stage I recognised Pádraig Rynne from Triad (with Dónal Lunny and Sylvain Barou).  Kris Drever I have seen him many times as he tends to guest with musicians I like. Aoife Ní Bhriain was the surprise of the night. She plays both traditional and classical violin and as per the programme she has played with many renowned orchestras and won numerous competitions.

Aoife's solo slot got the biggest cheer of the night. She talked about a project she has been involved in featuring songs collected by a Canon Goodman from Dingle. This man compiled a manuscript collection of traditional tunes that is now kept at Trinity College. These are often very well-known songs, that have been preserved in earlier, often slightly different versions. They played a variant of 'The dawning of the day'.

Both Kris Drever and Pádraig Rynne are musicians known to work with loops and other trickery, but for this show these gadgets were left out. Pádraig impressed with his virtuoso concertina playing, including some tunes he composed himself, with his skillful accompaniments and also his sense of humour. I liked Kris' guitar playing. 'Capernaum' (“Edinburgh, Edinburgh”) was his standout song. Julie Fowlis sang backing vocals to some of Kris' songs. It is curious to hear Julie sing in English, given that I have many CDs with her singing exclusively in Gaelic.

Julie's songs were fabulous. She has a beautiful, crystal clear voice and nice stories to go with her songs. She played tin whistle and the shruti box; a smaller, more portable type of harmonium, which she travels with so as to have more space for shoes in her suitcase, she said! Though its drone is similar to that of the pipes, it is actually an Indian instrument. Highlights of Julie's performances were a two part song about seals and the encore, which was some of the traditional mouth music that she is most famous for.

All in all a fantastic night of music. There were signs saying that the performance would be recorded. I wonder whether this is just for the Pavilion's archives or with a view of making this available to the public?



The annual Bristol Xmas gig notwithstanding, this is the first live dates, and tour from the Aeroplanes for what seems like forever, and thankfully they made a pit stop up North in Sheffield.

Sheffield is not unknown to Gerard Langley, as he and Wojtek went and met at Uni here a few decades earlier, and the decent turnout in the back room of the Leadmill were anticipating a night of classic tunes, and tracks from recently released new album Welcome, Stranger!

The night began with the customary spine tingling intro of aeroplanes passing overhead, before the band kicked things off with new track Dead Tree, Dead Tree! A surefire future live favourite and almost immediately the audience is swaying along.

It’s at this point that I realise that I’m here watching the Aeroplanes on a last, a tour, and they are playing as tight and rehearsed than I’ve seen for years and years, and what a joy that is. Wojtek is doing his thing, both on and off the stage, and he’s getting a lot of attention from the first timers in the crowd, who are mainly here with the your girl who opened the night.

The set is a mix of old favourites, with some surprises such as Missy Lane, which I’m not sure I’ve heard live before, and the wonderful And Stones, sounding as vibrant as it ever has, but the main message of the evening is that this is the Aeroplanes mk plenty, and this mix of young and not so young, talented musicians are elevating the band to new heights.

It’s clear the band are really enjoying themselves and after new album favourite Here Is The Heart of All Wind Things, it’s time for the main set to come to a close, and we all know what’s to come from the encores...

Mixed in with old live favourite Fun, and new gorgeous album closer Poetland, are 2 covers. Dylan’s I Wanna Be Your Lover, and the epic, iconic Tom Verlaine cover Breakin’ In My Heart. Like Jacket Hangs, an (almost) ever present in the set. The band are going nuts on stage - Mike and Bec are playing guitars on 2 platforms stage left and right, Wojtek is on and off the stage like a whirling dervish, while the rest of the band are shuffling restlessly around each other back on stage. The track, and the night ends with the last chord being played by Mike as he launches himself off the bass drum.

Exhilarating, exciting, refreshing, and almost tear inducing to this long time fan. The Aeroplanes are back, back, back, bigger bolder and brighter than ever, with some killer tunes that sit alongside their back catalogue as if they were recorded 20 years ago. With the promise of another album and tour later in 2017, this is going to be some year to be an Aeroplanes fan.



Band Website

A night of quality hard rock was on the agenda at Manchester Academy 2 with the legendary Glenn Hughes touring in support of last years well received, and really rather fabulous album Resonate. His first solo album in 8 years.

The support band, maybe chosen because they were fellow midlanders, were the Walsall based Stone Broken. Yes, they’ve got the riffs, the looks and they can play, but most importantly they’ve got the tunes. This is a young new band, who clearly have a great rapport with their audience and genuinely happy to be doing what they do. Check out debut album All In Time.

So onto the main event, and on strode the mid 60’s but looking about 40, Glenn Hughes. Every inch the rock star - shades, shaggy hair and pearly white teeth, bowed to his adoring fans and launched into Flow from latest album Resonate. The temperature and adrenaline was turned up a notch, especially when running straight into Muscle & Blood from his collaborative album with Pat Thrall, and the battered old bass he had round his neck was put through it’s paces.

As this was my first live Glenn Hughes gig, firstly I wasn’t sure what to expect from the setlist, and secondly from the man himself in terms of his relationship with the fans. Was this going to be a trip down memory lane in homage to his stints in Trapeze and Purple, or would it be a more forward looking contemporary set ? The answer I’m pleased to say was a happy mix of both. And as for his chat and messages to the fans, I’m not sure I’ve witnessed a more warm, human and downright “normal” approach to band/audience interaction. The main message of the night (even from Stone Broken too) was that we should all celebrate life and love, and we only get one chance at this game, so make the most of it. It was genuinely heartwarming when Hughes explained he had written most of Resonate while recouperating from a double knee transplant, and that tomorrow he was back to his mothers hospital bed as she’s rather unwell. There was a genuine feeling of we’re all in this together, and there was no barrier between band and audience....Hughes exclaiming at one point that he had come tonight to see us...

Deep Purple song Getting Tighter was when the fabulous Mellotron was put through its paces for the first time by Jay Boe, and tributes were paid to lost masters of the machine Jon Lord and Keith Emerson. God bless you both.

The only Trapeze song of the night was the swirling, brooding Medusa, a song I admit to not knowing, however clearly a precursor to what was to come with Purple.

Much to my delight was the Black Country Communion song One Last Soul, and even better news was that BCC4 is on the horizon and due for an Autumn release. Black County from the same band closed the main set, and this black country reviewer was wondering why I hadn’t seen Mr Hughes live before.

Deep Purple favourite Burn closed the night, which obviously bought the house down and also showcased that despite the inevitable passing of years, Hughes’ voice is as incredible as the hell does he hit those high notes ?

What a great night...what an entertaining night. This was surely a lesson to any aspiring new rock bands of how to behave on stage, keeping the audience engaged throughout, and showing some personality coming through. Obviously it helps to have an amazing back catalogue to draw on, and magnificent musicians backing you, but this was a masterclass in stage craft.



A cult band and an iconic venue that’s soon to could any music fan resist?

So we travelled deep into the beating heart of Harlow and into in the car park of this humble, welcoming venue as we reflected on it’s loss to the local music community, so that developers can build 69 new flats. Its maybe not the most beautiful place, but what a history, all the bands who played here, all the careers spawned and new dreams created. Bar staff and security are friendly, the sound is great, sightlines are good and there is space to watch standing or, sit as you wish.

Seems appropriate that the Blue Aeroplanes are almost the last act to play here (that honour goes to Eddie and the Hot Rods and venerable locals the Newtown Neurotics). Like the Square itself, they seem the product of another, happier time (this was Trump inauguration day). Their original blend of art rock, pop, poetry and performance influenced bands like Radiohead. They are having a resurgence, with excellent new album Welcome, Stranger (reviewed elsewhere on this site by Keith) getting rave reviews, and a big tour winning them new fans.

Their set started with a fanfare, then straight into standout track from the new LP, Dead Tree! Dead Tree! There are three original members, Gerard the poet/singer, John the drummer, and Wojtek, who doesnt play anything but does energetic dances to every song. It is fair to say these 3 are not as young they used to be, but somehow this makes them more distinguished and measured in their performance, especially Gerard, and even Wojtek...on the 2 past occasions I saw them I found his dances irritating, but now I am totally impressed by his energy.

The other 4 band members all play guitars, and 3 of them sing a song each. ..they seem like good friends having a great time, rocking out at the end of even the most poetic numbers. It is certainly Gerard who holds it all together, with his stage presence and understated vocals. Twice he makes the point that this is not "an exercise in nostalgia", and many of the best songs are from the new album...'Nothing will ever happen in the Future', 'Elvis Festival' and 'Here is the Heart of All Wild Things' were my favourites, standing up to the classics they played like 'Jacket Hangs'.

I found it quite endearing that he carried a big book of lyrics lest he forgot any, and was most impressed by his ‘shades roadie’ who swapped his glasses around for him after a few numbers. They ended the first of two encores with the dedicated to Nobel prize winner Mr Dylan, followed by Poetland, which closes the new album, about where Bob might now live.

A special mention for support Blazing Zoos. A self styled country(not Americana) band from London, they had a great stage presence, with many songs linked to the sports of his native Australia by main man Andrew, and one about a terrible festival they once played. He had a great interaction with the crowd, and much banter with bassist Lara, whose fans included her 7 month old son in the crowd. After their slot Lara kindly introduced me to their charming drummer Gen...who turns out to be from Jesus Jones! He gave me not just an autograph for a friend who is a big fan, but added his own blood from a minor drumming wound to his knuckles. I bet that is worth something on ebay!

Kevin Hand

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