Memories of my first ever live gig – Slade at Donington August 81 by Darren Johnson

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supplied by Darren Johnson

When I went to Monsters of Rock at Donington, aged 15, in 1981 it was not only my first ever festival but also my first ever live rock gig of any type. It still remains my favourite gig of all time, in particular the set by Slade that afternoon.

We arrived at Donington a little late and by the time we had parked and got into the arena the band More were most of the way through their set. The next band on were Blackfoot who I have no real recollection of at all. What I do remember is the anticipation of waiting for Slade to come on. After several years in the doldrums Slade had burst back into the charts a few months earlier with ‘We’ll Bring The House Down’. Their storming performance at Reading Festival the previous year (when the band replaced Ozzy Osbourne at the last minute) had already become legendary and this all meant that in the space of a few months Slade went from being a band that sang about Christmas that I vaguely recalled from my childhood to being my number one favourite band in the whole world. And that was even before I witnessed what would become (and still remains) the most remarkable live performance I’ve ever seen. Loud guitar-driven rock, commanding showmanship, unforgettable songs and sheer over- the-top-eccentricity, it was an absolute master-class in compelling live performance.

story continues here… https://darrensmusicblog.com/2017/03/13/memories-of-my-first-ever-live-gig-slade-at-donington-22881/

Sunny Afternoon The Kinks musical – review by Darren Johnson

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I’m not normally a huge fan of musicals. However, I am a huge fan of The Kinks so when the opportunity to see Sunny Afternoon came up I was never going to say no. With most musicals I generally find the mix of dialogue and song unconvincing…. continue reading here…

https://darrensmusicblog.com/2016/12/23/sunny-afternoon-the-musical-based-on-the-story-of-the-kinks-at-the-theatre-royal-brighton-221216/

Alan Esdaile… I’ve seen a few clips and looks great. I always thought that The Kinks would be the ideal act to appear on the new pier. Especially now the brothers are talking again. Rumours that they may appear at Glastonbury next year.

Darren Johnson…. Apparently the rumours of a Kinks reformation have been dismissed but they have acknowledged they are discussing working together!

Andre Martin… Well they visited us back in 1964 when on the way up, so an appearance again would be very much in keeping with the track record of the Pier – will have to watch the space that sticks out into the sea !

Darren Johnson… It would be wonderfully apt to see them do a Hastings Pier gig together. I was lucky enough to see Ray join his brother on stage in Islington last year for a blast of “You Really Got Me”

Dave Weeks… Going Wednesday

 

Jimi Hendrix flat at 23 Brook Street London – review by Darren Johnson

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supplied by Darren Johnson

One of the things that has long frustrated me about London is how little effort it puts into celebrating it’s rock ‘n’ roll heritage (certainly compared to Liverpool). This is in spite of London being (after Memphis the birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll) probably the most important city on the entire planet in terms of rock history when one considers the number of globally influential bands who either formed in this city, built their reputation in this city or recorded in this city.

Hopefully, things are starting to change and that’s why, I was delighted to see Jimi Hendrix’s flat at 23 Brook Street, where he lived between July 1968 and March 1969, being restored and opened to the public this year…..

read more here….

https://darrensmusicblog.com/2016/11/30/review-the-hendrix-flat-at-23-brook-street-london/

 

Iain Matthews (ex Fairport/Matthews Southern Comfort/Plainsong) review of private house gig in Etchingham last night by Darren Johnson

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photos: Darren Johnson

more info… https://darrensmusicblog.com/2016/11/19/iain-matthews-in-etchingham-181116/

Iain Matthews in Etchingham 18/11/16

“Of course I’m interested! Let m know.”

“Yes, there’s a place for you. The guy who’s organising it says he knows you from years back.”

So went a series of texts between myself and a friend. And why I found myself in the house of an old acquaintance I hadn’t seen for around twenty years to witness a performance by former Airport Convention/Matthews Southern Comfort/Plainsong singer, Ian Matthews.

It’s a really intimate affair: just twenty-odd people crowded into a room, Matthews and his guitar. But his material and manner is just perfect for a gathering like this. A few songs in he confesses he very rarely performs solo, normally performing either in a band or as a duo. This really surprises me because not only is he a superb singer-songwriter-performer he’s also got that knack of instant engagement and rapport with an audience, however small. He’s got some fascinating stories to share, reflecting on both his long career and the songs he performs.

Material-wise, we get some great material from throughout his career, both covers and originals. Highlights include Matthews’ own ‘Ballad of Gruene Hall’; a beautifully laid-back cover of Van Morrison’s ‘Brown Eyed Girl’; a song from Gene Clark’s magnificent solo album ‘No Other’; and some lovely Richard Farina covers from the newly-revived Plainsong’s 2015 album ‘Re-inventing Richard’.

That golden voice that sang along with Sandy Denny on the original version of ‘Meet on the Ledge’ will probably always be the thing I associate most with Matthews, however. And at the end of the set it can be heard singing out that song, once more, as a final encore for this small but enthusiastic gathering. A perfect end to the evening.

At one point in his set Matthews talks about his giving up completely as performer, assuming his career had run it’s course by the early 80s. But then he recalls a few years later an emotional Robert Plant grabbing him backstage at Fairport’s Cropredy festival and lecturing him about the importance of getting back out there on the road. “You owe it to your fans,” urges Plant. “What fans?” asks Matthews. “Get out there and you’ll find they are out there,” Plant responds. Indeed they are. Keep on playing Iain…

by Darren Johnson

http://www.iainmatthews.nl/news.html

SMART coffee meet 29 – 1st July 2016

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Darren Johnson… I missed the last meet-up in Hastings. But this why…

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https://darrensmusicblog.com/2016/06/22/review-sun-studio-tour-memphis/

Elaine Roberts… Sorry we won’t be at today’s coffee meet – The Black Sheep have a short-notice gig at The Jenny Lind tonight. If any Smart members fancy coming along we’d be delighted to see you 🙂

Mick O’Dowd… Come on you SMARTIES!

Ronnie Spector at The Stables Milton Keynes 13/6/16 review by Darren Johnson

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Darren Johnson… Ronnie Spector was supposed to be at the De La Warr Pavilion last month but this was sadly cancelled on medical advice from her doctor who was advising her not to fly. However, I caught up with her last night on a later leg of the tour in Milton Keynes. Review here

https://darrensmusicblog.com/2016/06/14/ronnie-spector-at-the-stables-milton-keynes-13616/

The Rolling Stones “Exhibitionism” The Saatchi Gallery reviewed by Darren Johnson

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I’ve been to a few rock music archive exhibitions over the years and thought I knew the score. A room or two of old programmes, concert posters and record covers, a few old stage costumes here and there, perhaps a guitar or two and then you’re ushered into a room to watch an video that you could probably have found at home doing a quick search on Youtube.

With Exhibitionism, however, The Stones have set the bar extremely high and in the process of taking over The Saatchi Gallery have utterly rewritten the template for what a successful rock memorabilia exhibition should look like. At £24 per ticket it’s not exactly cheap but for any Stones fan, or indeed any follower of rock history, it represents excellent value for money. Room after room after room is laid out with absolutely fascinating archives that go way beyond the old “concert posters and record sleeves in glasses cases” approach. It’s beautifully themed and gives a fascinating insight into the life of one of the world’s most iconic rock n roll bands over the past five and a bit decades. There’s a recreation of the Edith Grove flat that Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Brian Jones shared in the early days, gloriously capturing all the hideous squalor of sixties bedsit-land. There’s a recreation of the recording studio where they recorded some of their classics and there are huge and extensive displays of guitars and other instruments, meticulously archived original recording contracts and legal documentation and a fascinating display of stage costumes through the decades. I was struck by how pristine and smart the bands sixties suits still look compared to how bedraggled and tatty some of Mick Jagger’s nineties stage outfits now appear. Clearly, they don’t make em like they used to.

For me, however, one of the most poignant moments was walking into the room set out as an exact replica of the Stones backstage area: the admin, the technical gizmos, Mick Jagger’s make-up tent… For a minute it really felt like you had walked in on something very, very private that few get to see.

Allow at least ninety minutes to properly take in all of the exhibition. If you are so inclined you can then spend an exorbitant amount of money in the gift shop but I consoled myself with a £3.99 branded re-usable Exhibitionism shopping bag. A little souvenir of an exhibition that has set a new global standard in rock ‘n’ roll archives.  https://darrensmusicblog.com/2016/05/11/review-the-rolling-stones-exhibitionism-at-the-saatchi-gallery/

http://www.saatchigallery.com/current/rolling_stones.php

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Slade at White Rock Theatre Hastings 14th November 2015 review by Darren Johnson

dave-hill-hastings-2 photo credit: Dave Kemp

Tonight was my twenty-third Slade concert. After seeing them three times as a teenager in the early 80s the band abruptly stopped touring. But since guitarist Dave Hill and drummer Don Powell revived the band in the early 90s, sans Noddy Holder and Jim Lea, I’ve seen them most years since. Yes, I miss Holder’s unmistakeable voice. Yes, I miss Lea’s musical dexterity. And yes, I miss the combined songwriting talent of the two of them which produced all of the big hits but isn’t producing any new ones. But going to a modern-day Slade gig means I don’t miss out on hearing those wonderful songs being performed live still. And it means I don’t get to miss out on the sheer, unadulterated, wacky, crazily eccentric sense of fun you get from a Slade gig.

The set-list has hardly changed much in the last twenty years but it’s great to be punching our hands in the air to Gudbuy T’ Jane, throwing toilet rolls across the stage during Mama Weer All Crazee Now, applauding Dave Hill showing off his“superyob” guitar during Get Down and Get With It, swaying along to Everyday and My Oh My and jumping up and down with wild deranged abandon to Cum On Feel The Noize.

In the nicest, friendliest, most good-natured way the whole place was pretty much going crazee. Everyone, that is, apart from two gents on the front row who complained bitterly throughout the concert about people dancing about, jumping up and down and waving their arms in the air. I don’t think they quite got the whole Slade concert business. Never mind, they were gone before the band came back on for Merry Xmas Everybody. A month too early? No way! I don’t put together Slade’s winter tour schedules but mid-November is surely near enough to Christmas for the crowd to be singing along to the greatest Christmas song ever made.

For fifty years Dave and Don have been playing together now. Let’s toast them.

Setlist:
Gudbuy T’ Jane
Lock Up Your Daughters
Take Me Bak ‘Ome
Look Wot You Dun
Everyday
Coz I Luv You
Run Run Away
Far Far Away
My Baby Left Me
Mama Weer All Crazee Now
Get Down and Get With It
My Oh My
Cum On Feel The Noize
Merry Xmas Everybody

by Darren Johnson      https://darrensmusicblog.com