Not Q.P.R but Hippopotamus Heavy

Who: Sparks

Where: Shepherds Bush Empire, London

When: 27th September 2017

The boys in blue-and-white hoops are here but this is not Loftus Road and this is not Queens Park Rangers. But we are in West London. No, this is Sparks, some 45 years into their career returning to the city that they say is their second home.

Sparks are enjoying their second summer of critical or commercial success. Strike that. Perhaps their third or fourth.

Continue reading

And a Wasted Youth is Better By Far Than a Wise and Productive Old Age…

Rock and Roll meets the Kids From Fame in the West End

What: Bat Out of Hell – The Musical

Who: Jim Steinman et al

Where: The Coliseum, London

When: July 2017

I remember everything! I remember everything as if it happened only yesterday…

About a life time ago I was playing football on the front lawn of my friend, Richard Chipchase. During a break in the game, he mentioned that his brother had seen a new band on “The Old Grey Whistle Test” the night before. He said that their name was “Meatloaf” and his brother said we ought to look out for them. Neither of us realised that Meat Loaf wasn’t a band but the singer.

Not long after, I picked up “Bat Out of Hell”. Then “Bad For Good” (composer Jim Steinman’s own album). Then “Dead Ringer” (remember buying that one in Casa Disco on the day it came out, assistant grumbling that she was fed up with taking the empty album sleeve back to the rack).

After that you realised that Meat relied on Steinman to come up with the songs to be at his peak. There was a long wait until “Bat Out of Hell II” and then another falling out between Steinman and Mr Loaf which surrounded “Bat Out of Hell III”.

There was a general deterioration in Meat Loaf’s health and voice and then another Meat Loaf / Steinman disc, “Braver Than We Are”.

And then there was “Bat Out of Hell – The musical” in Manchester and then it moved to London, the city where I live.

Musicals are not my thing – although I was in a touring musical once (that was years ago when I was young and foolish) so I decided to give this one a wide berth.

But then I was asked to go along and see the show and offer some comments prior to a possible transfer. So with some trepidation I decided to do just that.

Continue reading

Valli Scales the Heights

Who: Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons

What: Greatest Hits Tour 2017

Where: Bournemouth International Centre

When: 21st April 2017

A few years ago if you’d asked the average man on the street in the UK to name the legends of rock’n’roll, he would have begun with Elvis Presley and the Beatles but he might not have ever got to Frankie Valli or the Four Seasons. Since then a musical called “Jersey Boys” has become a phenomenon on Broadway and in the West End.

Now people’s awareness of how many great songs Valli and Seasons’ writer, Bob Gaudio are responsible for, has increased beyond recognition. And Valli and his current band, who were once reduced to playing medium-sized venues, are now back in the big leagues as a live draw.

Continue reading

The A1111 and Other Songs

What: My Last Will and Tasty Mint

Who: John Shuttleworth

When: 21st February 2017

Where: Leicester Square Theatre, London

What could be better than a John Shuttleworth concert? Well, perhaps a John Shuttleworth concert with lots of recently written songs and an invigorated artist.

Continue reading

Music: The principal of pleasure (1978-1980)

A guy that I’ve met wrote a list on Facebook which has been running ’round my head for the last few hours. Quite a simple idea really – the albums he was listening to in his teenage years. It sparked something within me and took me back to another time and so I’m up in the night writing a list of my own but also exploring things that in some ways I’d rather not think about it – a very different time – and some things I guess I’d rather forget.

But in the midst of it there was always music.

Continue reading

Like A River That Don’t Know Where It’s Flowing

Who: Bruce Springsteen & the E-Street Band

What: The River Tour 2016

Where: Wembley Stadium, London

When: 5th June 2016

My track record with the music of Bruce Springsteen has been a little chequered. I discovered his music early in his career and love the first four albums – “Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.”, “The Wild, The Innocent and the E-Street Shuffle”, “Born to Run” and “Darkness on the Edge of the Town”. “The River” was an interesting album. Bruce felt it needed to be a double record. Listening to it in Yorkshire in England, I always felt it would have been better as a single album. Loved “Point Blank” but couldn’t get excited about what Mr Springsteen refers to as his “bar-room songs” especially pieces of fluff like “Crush on You”. But there was some real meat in there and I remember listening to that album a lot.

Continue reading

Already Gone – A Natural Progressions Update

Glenn Frey

When I was at High School he seemed like the coolest guy on the whole planet.

Continue reading