Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Michael Schenker Group (MSG) - Ulster Hall, Belfast - 19/12/09: CANCELLED

'Due to unforeseen circumstances' the Michael Schenker Group concert at the Ulster Hall, Belfast on 19/12/09 has been cancelled. The Promoter: CDC Leisure Ltd, has confirmed (at short notice) that the gig has been called off.

Sounds like it may have been due to poor ticket sales even though the balcony seats were sold out. It's not the first time that the promoters' and the management of the Ulster Hall have been indecisive as to whether a show should be seated, or not, close to the date of a concert. I recall this happened with the Jeff Beck concert in June 2009.

Perhaps the "Spring & Airbrake" should have been used again? . . . Great venue & great atmosphere.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Jeff Beck - UK Tour 2010 & New Album: Emotion and Commotion (Release Date: April 2010)

Jeff Beck will be touring extensively in 2010 to promote his new album and is playing a string of UK shows in October 2010 culminating in a show at the Royal Albert Hall, London.

The line-up of his new band will include bassist Rhonda Smith (played with Prince and Little Richard); keyboard player Jason Rebello (CV includes stints with Sting and Chaka Khan); and drummer Narada Michael Walden (a Grammy Award-winning producer who worked with Beck on the 1976 album Wired).

Sorry to hear Tal will not be participating in Jeff's 2010 world tour because of scheduling issues. Jeff's loss, and, to me, Tal will be missed from the line-up, as will Vinnie. The Tal Wilkenfeld Quartet featuring Tal, Vinnie Colaiuta, John Beasley and Oz Noy will headline Berklee College Of Music's WesFest 5 benefit at the Roxy in L.A. on February 28th.

UK Tour Dates:

Oct. 15: Bournemouth BIC
Oct. 16: Brighton Centre
Oct. 17: Birmingham Symphony Hall
Oct. 20: Glasgow Clyde Auditorium
Oct. 21: Manchester Apollo
Oct. 22: Sheffield City Hall
Oct 24: Bristol Colston Hall
Oct. 25: Cardiff St. David’s Hall
Oct. 26: London Royal Albert Hall

Jeff's new album is due to be released on April 13, 2010. 

Disc 1: Studio
1.“Corpus Christi Carol”
3.“Never Alone”
4.“Somewhere Over The Rainbow”
5.“I Put A Spell On You” - featuring Joss Stone
7.“Lilac Wine” - featuring Imelda May
8.“Nessun Dorma”
9.“There’s No Other Me” - featuring Joss Stone
10.“Elegy For Dunkirk” - featuring Olivia Safe

Disc 2: (bonus DVD - six live tracks from Jeff's 2007 Crossroads performance)
1. Stratus
2. Behind The Veil
3. Nadia
4. Big Block
5. Brush With The Blues
6. A Day In The Life

Hopefully, Jeff will find time during the tour to play at the Ulster Hall, Belfast. The reception Jeff and his band received the last time - 30 June 2009 - was exceptional, as was the performance.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Michael Schenker to play the Ulster Hall, Belfast - 19 December 2009

Michael Schenker has confirmed the following tour dates for the UK. More dates are to be confirmed. The line up for the tour is:

Michael Schenker (Guitar)
Gary Barden (Vocals)
Wayne Findlay (Guitar/Keyboards)
Pete Holmes (Drums)
Chris Glen (Bass)

Tour Dates

DEC 18, 2009 - JB'S, DUDLEY


Michael's last performance in Belfast was at the "Spring and Airbrake" on 20/2/08. The whole band and sound was amazing. Michael's guitar playing style was original, outstanding, melodic, and his guitar tone indescribable. The venue was packed and the energy coming of the stage energised the packed crowd. Michael topped of a fantastic show by being available before, and after, the show to talk to fans. A truly great night, a great performance, a great band, fronted by one of the best exponents of guitar to grace the planet. Long may it continue.

View: Michael Schenker - The Interview

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Concert Review: Michael Schenker & Friends - Spring and Airbrake, Belfast - 20 February 2008

I last witnessed Michael Schenker playing live at the Ulster Hall, Belfast in October 1983 when he was touring with the Michael Schenker Group (MSG). He was warmly welcomed by fans who were transfixed by his guitar virtuosity, warm tone, and melodic and fluid playing. I believe his group that night included Gary Bardon (vocals), Chris Glenn (bass), and Ted McKenna on drums. The keyboardist may have been Andy Nye. However, the band were in top form and the concert was outstanding. Michael's performance was a masterclass in melodic rock guitar playing. Untouchable.

The "Spring and Airbrake" proved to be a great venue to see 'Michael Schenker and Friends'. It is a small, intimate venue, and a rocking and appreciative crowd combined to create a great atmosphere. I spoke to Michael before the gig about his guitar playing, song writing, and how grateful I was he had returned to Belfast to perform. He looked in great shape all dressed in black.

From the opening number "Assault Attack" it was clear the band - with the superb Leif Sundin on vocals - would play an integral part in the show tonight. They combined to create music that was tight, emotional, rich in sound, yet full of tension, delicacy and subtle balances that made the music vibrant and intoxicating. There wasn't a weak song in the set list which comprised fourteen songs, and each one had the crowd singing, clapping and cheering throughout the performance. When a song ended it was clear to Michael and the band that the crowd was in the mood to rock to great music.

"Let it Roll" and "Lights Out" were superb with Michael soloing in his own distinctive memorable style. He plays such strong fluid melodic runs and subtle bends he is amazing to watch. A particular favourite of mine is "Into The Arena" which was outstanding tonight. Most of the crowd sang along with Lief Sundin on most of the songs, especially "To Hot To Handle" and "Only You Can Rock Me" creating an unbelievable atmosphere.

After rousing renditions of "Armed and Ready" and "Attack Of The Mad Axeman" it was evident the crowd was not going to let Michael and his friends of the stage without hearing more music. It was great to see Michael getting the attention he truly deserves, and to see him looking and sounding as good as ever. The whole band was incredible - especially Leif Sundin on vocals - and they provided excellent support for Michael to work his magic.

The band returned for an encore which included " Doctor Doctor" and "Rock Bottom". By this time nearly everyone was singing along with the lyrics and thumping the air. The riff to "Rock Bottom" is an all-time classic. If you don't feel like moving your body to it, and it doesn't transfer you somewhere intoxicating and special - well, frankly - there's no hope for you. The soloing during "Rock Bottom" was full of well-controlled vibratos, soft harmonic runs. and blistering lead runs. Need I say more. Michael's back and this time he means business.

Michael returns to Belfast on 19 December 2009 to perform at the Ulster Hall, Belfast. Should be a truly great night.

Michael's signed Set List - Belfast 2008

Michael Schenker and Ronnie Kerrigan

Sylvia Kerrigan And Michael Schenker

Michael's pedals

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Jeff Beck to play London O2 Arena with Eric Clapton - 13 & 14 February 2010

Jeff and Eric will take to the stage at the O2 Arena on 13 & 14 February 2010 to each play a retrospective set followed by a joint performance.

Jeff Beck said the two "had a blast" playing together in Japan, while E.C. heaped praise on his friend. "I've always considered Jeff to be one of the finest guitar players around. He's a friend, a great guy, and a truly gifted musician. We had such a fun time in Japan that it seemed natural to play together again."

Tickets for the O2 Arena gig go on sale on 28/9/09.

No doubt this project will prove beneficial and a success for both Jeff and E.C. I prefer to see Jeff playing on stage with his own band for the whole show. We are all exceptional cases, of course. I must confess I find Eric's appearance the only low-point on the DVD, "Jeff Beck: Performing This Week - Live At Ronnie Scott's" which tends to make the CD a bit special.

Double8Tickets was selling tickets cheap [sic] if you had the cash. When musicians you admire charge such high prices for a concert, and in the throes of an economic recession, you begin to wonder. The blame doesn't reside solely with "independent ticket brokers" ...

Arena Floor - (Block A) VERY FRONT ROW - £795.00!

Arena Floor - (Block A) - £395.00!

Who's that with long hair and white shirt - centre stage - enjoying the show? Ronnie Kerrigan? Surely not?

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

CD Review: Crest of a Wave - The Best of Rory Gallagher (Release Date: 25 August 2009)

I'm not a fan of compilation CDs or DVDs whether the artistic form is rock, blues, or classical music. It brings out the worse in those involved in the music business: record companies, managers and marketers. In essence, everyone except the artists who created and recorded the music in the first instance. This is not the first compilation to be made using Rory Gallagher's name or 'brand'.

The Best Of Taste - Amazon - (16 tracks)

This current double disc highlights Rory's tremendous musicianship, outstanding guitar playing and artistic passion. In the music business these attributes do not always equate with happiness and success. Rory was a cult hero to his fans. In fact, Rory attracted extraordinary affection and warmth; a mutual bond with his audience which few musicians attain throughout their career. While Rory always pushed himself to the limit on stage, I believe he never reached the pinnacle of success he sought, or deserved. It takes a rare talent, courage and extreme energy to create the music, sing the songs, play the guitar, and to be the main focus of a band over decades.

CD Tracklisting  

I'm thankful that Rory received a degree of success. It must be hard to survive in the music business without moments of despair, and the mental and physical exhaustion that comes with creativity and the pressure of live performance.

It's great for Rory's many fans that the Internet exists. Sites such as YouTube and Rory Gallagher's official website enable individuals to share footage of Rory and Taste in concert. New listeners can explore Rory's outstanding musical talent on videos posted by his many fans worldwide. The live performances capture a phenomenal guitar player who was truly inspired on stage. And who took his audience with him to indescribable heights of elation during each concert.  

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Concert Review: Jeff Beck, Royal Albert Hall, London - 4 July 2009

It is Sunday, 5 July 2009. The sun has come out and reflects strongly on the buildings, windows, buses, and cars below as I gaze from my hotel room. I'm interested to hear who Kirsty Young's castaway will be this morning on "Desert Island Discs". As I drink tea I'm pleased to hear it is the impresario and promoter, Harvey Goldsmith CBE - Jeff Beck's manager from January this year. I sit down and listen. As he speaks, it is clear he is knowledgeable, intelligent, determined, temperamental, someone who deals with conflicts and obstacles swiftly and effectively, and has a talent for organisation, and getting things done.

I am intrigued regarding his choice of music ranging from "Kasmir" (Led Zeppelin), "Baba O'Reilly" (The Who - his favourite 'live' band at their peak with Keith Moon), to the live version of " Nadia" of Jeff's amazingly, successful DVD/CD, Performing This Week - Live At Ronnie Scott's. His insights into the music industry, management, and the organisation of large-scale events proves compelling. Indeed, his passionate statements that Jeff Beck is a "genius," and that "... the artist has to change emotions inside you. Few musicians have this ability ..." are painstakingly legitimate.

Jeff Beck has become one of the most striking performer's in the history of the guitar. While he has played the guitar for several decades he continually seeks new ways to ply his art, develop, and renew his music. Indeed, his musical output, and guitar playing, is a delicate fusion of all the influences he has sought, explored, and absorbed. He is a guitar player with a "real" difference who tends not to sound bland. No easy task. 

Jeff's return to The Royal Albert Hall has attracted fans from around the globe. Outside the venue I spoke to some people who had traveled from Sweden, Italy, and New Jersey. An exuberant, tribal gathering had come to secure Jeff's place as one of rock's genuine icons. Inside, the hall was packed to capacity; the audience murmured with expectation. I was fortunate to be seated in the eighteenth row with a clear view of the stage.

From the moment the band took to the stage, and began the whispered, rhythmic accompaniment to "Beck's Bolero" - Jeff entered "stage right" clad all in white, playing the melody on his cream and white strat - it was clear the sound was warm and mixed to perfection. Not as loud as in Belfast, but the band performed with incredible confidence, bar some momentary glitches. While Jeff's confidence is clearly at an all time high - long may it last - there were moments during the concert when Jeff - and fellow band members - appeared overly conscious and, to a degree, overawed by the intimacy and atmosphere of the occasion. However, an exchange of smiles, a flurry of nimble fingers, and drum sticks, restored calm, and once more the band scaled new heights of musical triumph.

The hypnotic rhythm to "Pump" made you want to clap your hands, stand up, and rush the stage. Not acceptable behavior at the venue, I'm sorry to say. However, the combination of
Tal Wilkenfeld's bass playing and sound, combined with Vinnie Colaiuta's drumming was intoxicating. Then Jeff entered with his beautiful tone, melodies, and virtuosity which the rest of the group complemented, driving him to play licks that astound, confound, inspire, taking you on a beautiful journey.

A run of songs let Jeff and the band explore different rhythms and sounds which were a delight to the eyes and ears. From the achingly beautiful melodies and rhythms, of "Behind the Veil," "Angel," and "Nadia," to wonderful, intricate, drumming by Vinnie, the characteristic weaving of lines by Tal on her bass, overlaid with keyboard voicings by
Jason Rebello, made "Space Boogie," and "Led Boots" alternatively sweet and nasty. 

Sometimes the music appeared to be stretched in a particular direction - like an elastic band - to a point where it is about to break, then it turned, and retracted in another direction. Jeff continually displayed an ability to play with restraint and subtlety, without losing intensity.

Sometimes when Jeff plays the introduction to "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" I wish he would play the full version as included on the Wired album, and play "Brush with the Blues" separately. Tonight belonged to Jeff and his band, and perhaps my preference for only "one guest" on stage was at variance with others in attendance. So be it.

After a great, fast, rocky version of "Blue Wind" the band was joined by Imelda May to sing "Lilac Wine," (a song written by James Shelton in 1950). In my opinion, however, Imelda does not possess the raw, haunting voice required 'live' to create the emotion and passion the song deserves.

The music Jeff and his band played tonight went beyond black and white. It contained a myriad of different colours and shades that danced and stimulated an engrossed audience. Jeff, Tal, Vinnie, and Jason bowed, and left the stage amid resounding applause, and a standing ovation. Tonight Jeff, and his band not only touched the hearts of the faithful, but - I believe - those witnessing them for the first time.

For two of the encores, Jeff and his band were joined on stage by David Gilmore to perform "Jerusalem," and "Hi Ho Silver Lining". Some fans speculated that Jimmy Page, or Eric Clapton, would participate at the event. In the end David Gilmore proved to be a good choice. Both guitarist's seemed to enjoy playing together, and while each has a distinctive style and tone, they proved inventive, and appeared to play their guitar's without effort. Jeff returned and played "Where were You". His performance was emotional and beautiful.

After the show I walked to the stage door where a considerable number of fans were waiting for Jeff to sign albums, CDs, DVDs, and other memorabilia. Most people seemed to be singing or humming "Hi Ho Silver Lining," while others' talked about the emotional and entertaining performance. I heard strands of, "How does he play like that?" Several fans took photographs of Jeff's set list I had acquired from the stage.

I was aware an "after-party" may be in progress to celebrate the success of the event for Jeff, the band, the crew, and organisers'. Needless to say, some fans had flights to catch in the middle of the night. I caught the bus to King's Cross, and made my way to Islington. As I walked, the breathtaking music from the concert flooded through my mind.

Jeff's Set List

Jeff, Vinnie, Tal, and Jason in full swing

Blowing up a storm

I just happen to be the guy with the long hair and the white shirt center stage - the first to get out of his seat and go to the front before the encores. What a great night.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Seven Moons "Live" - Robin Trower with Jack Bruce

The "Seven Moons" live album is now available to order at delivered free in the UK with Super Saver Delivery.

Track Listings:

01. Seven Moons
02. Lives Of clay
03. Distant Places Of The Heart
04. Sunshine Of Your Love
05. Carmen
06. She's Not The One
07. So Far To Yesterday
08. Just Another Day
09. Perfect Place
10. Bad Case Of Celebrity
11. The Last Door
12. Come To Me
13. White Room
14. Politician

It is strange this album is not listed at the official Robin Trower Store - or that Jack Bruce is not included on the "Links" page of Robin's official site. I'm not suprised that "We're Going Wrong" and "I'm Home" are not included on the 'Live' CD - they sounded listless and lacking in atmosphere in concert. Jack's vocal delivery on both tracks was poor live, and I was grateful when both songs ended.

The release of "What Lies Beneath" - in my view - overshadows Robin's recent collaboration with Jack Bruce in the studio, and in concert. I'd like to see Robin touring again with Livingston Brown on bass and vocals, and Pete Thompson on drums. Call it "The What Lies Beneath" tour. Robin has reached new heights of creativity on his recent album, which I believe, surpasses most of the music of "Seven Moons".

Monday, July 27, 2009

Future Rock Legends - Vote to get Robin Trower into The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

After playing with The Paramounts and Procol Harum in the ‘60s and early ‘70s Robin Trower recorded his seminal album "Twice Removed From Yesterday" in 1972. The subsequent tour in 1973 highlighted how far Robin had progressed as a guitarist, performer and songwriter. His second album, “Bridge of Sighs”, was certified gold without promotion of a single release. Future albums, and regular touring, continued to emphasize Robin’s guitar playing prowess.

Undoubtedly Robin is endowed with talents that include being a truly creative guitarist with a distinctive sound, and inspired song writing ability. Robin is one of the top guitar players of all time; up there with Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Rory Gallagher, and Peter Green [et al].

He possesses a rare power and spirit that has not been diminished by his long musical career. His music and playing continues to have an indefinable purity – blending blues, soul, funk, R&B, jazz, etc., with a passion and fire other musicians only possess in their dreams.

Recent tours and albums have proved highly successful in the UK, Europe and US, and Robin continues to ply his art with genuine feeling. I consider Robin to be one of the finest musician's to originate from England, and he is one of the few to make a big impact in the US. Some talented musicians grow into maturity and then decline swiftly or slowly. Robin isn’t one of those – he continues to mature musically, play with creativity and passion, and is an inspiration to musicians , fans and music lovers alike.

I believe Robin, on merit, deserves to be inducted into the "Rock and Roll Hall of Fame". Please cast your vote for Robin using the link below:

Thanks for voting!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Robin Trower and Jack Bruce - O2 Shepherds Bush Empire, London - 5/8/09

According to Jack Bruce the set list for the current short tour with Robin Trower will comprise all - or most - of the eleven tracks from their collaborative album, "Seven Moons". The rest of the set will include the usual "classics" from Jack, 'Politician,' 'White Room,' 'Sunshine of your Love,' 'We're Going Wrong.' Only 'Carmen' from "B.L.T." will be included in the set. It is disappointing Robin and Jack have elected to play again - live - the whole of the "Seven Moons" album which, I believe, has its share of unmelodious songs, and dismal lyrics.

Some of the songs from the "B.L.T." or "Truce" albums - both released in 1981 - deserve inclusion in the set, and would provide a much needed change in tempo, light and shade, during the performance. During the earlier short tour, the music was - at intervals - pedestrian. Robin and Jack possess the skill, virtuosity, and confidence, to create a set that highlights their collaborative body of work in better light. It is evident Jack's vocal delivery on some of the tracks 'live' cause him some difficulty; the keys to some songs have been changed to decrease the stress on Jack's vocal chords, and, indeed, overall health.

It's a shame Robin and Jack never found time in their busy schedules to tour together during the ' 90s. Whether the current concerts, and the album "Seven Moons," stand the test of time is anyone's guess.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Concert Review: Jeff Beck - Ulster Hall, Belfast - 30 June 2009

Belfast is anything but dull. The city centre oscillates between menace and refurbished high culture. The recently renovated Ulster Hall is a fitting venue for Jeff Beck's first concert in Ireland. The Victorian Hall has played host to some of the finest artists and groups to grace this planet, including Rory Gallagher, Taste, Led Zeppelin, The Kinks, and Fleetwood Mac with Peter Green.

I'm sitting in the sixth row - centre stage - I give in to nostalgia, and think of some of the great concerts I have experienced at this venue. I visualise the artists, and hear fragments of their music with each beat of my pulse. After the support act, I believe the absence of a vocalist will not be missed when the main act takes to the stage. The auditorium is silent, in semi-darkness; the stage looks larger. I gaze at the red backdrop which creates a sunken world of calm and expectation. The lights dim.

Tonight a sold-out audience is treated to an absorbing performance by Jeff Beck and his powerhouse of a band incorporating drummer, Vinnie Colaiuta; keyboardist, Jason Rebello; and bass guitarist, Tal Wilkenfeld. Time to forget the 'Credit Bubble', the Internet, DVDs, CDs, vinyl: most fans want to see their musical heroes in the flesh. And there is no substitute for the atmosphere, tension, and emotion, an inspired and engaging band can generate live in concert.

The success of Jeff's recent release, 'Jeff Beck: Performing This Week - Live At Ronnie Scott's' on DVD, Blu-Ray and CD, the celebrated performance at the "Crossroads Guitar Festival' in Chicago, 2007," Jeff's induction into the "Rock and Roll Hall of Fame" on 4 April 2009, and new management - Harvey Goldsmith - have helped to invigorate Jeff's career, and standing in the music industry.

Tonight, Jeff walks onto the stage dressed in black, with a white scarf draped around his neck, and cradling his cream and white stratocaster. The applause is deafening, heartfelt. I believe Jeff and the band are genuinely taken aback by the warm reception. The band starts the performance with 'Becks Bolero' and it is clear the sound balance is excellent, and each band member is crystal clear in the mix. Somehow, Jeff and his band make the music sound fresh, as if woven for the first time.

What makes a good performance? Perhaps, dialogue between the musicians on stage. While creating their own voice and space - each musician, tonight - seems to bend and shape the music to maximum effect, and the combined output goes straight to your emotions, your soul. Something, not all musicians achieve.

Vinnie and Tal begin the hypnotic rhythm to 'Pump', and Tal's bass sound is beautifully warm; you could listen to it all night. A lot of people comment on her playing - which speaks for itself - but the diverse tones she gets from her bass, amps, and effects pedals are astounding. During the sixteen-number set it is evident the deep intuitive skills displayed by Vinnie, Tal, and Jason, provide a strong canvas for Jeff to paint a colourful array of sounds from his guitar.

Jeff plays with warmth, finesse, and an impish quality which permeates the group, and creates an extraordinary bond with the audience. The band truly seem astounded by the warm reception after each song, and exchange smiles. A great version of 'You Never Know ' follows, which sets the high standard of musicianship, and sound, that Jeff and his band reach during the rest of the performance.

Who could not be moved by the sublime 'Cause We've Ended as Lovers' - beautiful sounds and melodies emanating from Jeff's guitar, and inspired soloing by Tal. It digs deep into the twilight room of the soul, creating a dizzy sense of magic.

Does music get better than this? I doubt it. During the set Jeff moves around the stage, sometimes changing direction when the music changes course. Periodically, he exchanges a cheerful smile with a fellow band member, and continues to play his guitar with a naturalness few guitarist's attain. Each song was a highlight.

Jeff and his band were visibly moved by the two 'five minute' standing ovations they received.

After the concert Jeff, Tal, Jason and Vinnie are generous with their time and in great spirits. The warm and passionate reception they received tonight will be just as engaging if they return to Belfast again. I hope they do.  

Jeff Beck's Set List, Belfast

Jeff Beck Signing the Set List

Tal Wilkenfeld and Ronnie Kerrigan - Stage Door , Belfast

Tal Wilkenfeld