Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Jeff Beck UK Tour Dates - October 2010 / Live at Tokyo International Forum -12 & 13 April 2010 / Les Paul’s 95th Birthday

Jeff Beck and his band are undertaking a short UK tour during October 2010. Anyone who has never witnessed Jeff playing 'live' - and is attending one of the following concerts - will witness an amazing guitar player and a mind-blowing concert. I am disappointed Jeff is unable to include Belfast in his schedule. Perhaps Jeff will include the Ulster Hall, Belfast on a future tour.

I am attending the Brighton concert and will be posting a review.

UK Tour Dates 2010

15 Oct 2010 - Bournemouth International Centre [BIC] - Bournemouth
16 Oct 2010 - Brighton Centre - Brighton 
17 Oct 2010 - Symphony Hall - Birmingham
19 Oct 2010 - Guildhall - Preston
20 Oct 2010 - Clyde Auditorium - Glasgow
21 Oct 2010 - Apollo - Manchester
22 Oct 2010 - City Hall - Sheffield
24 Oct 2010 - Colston Hall - Bristol
25 Oct 2010 - St David's Hall - Cardiff
26 Oct 2010 - Royal Albert Hall - London
27 Oct 2010 - Royal Albert Hall - London

The line-up of Jeff's band includes 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 Jeff on the 1976 album Wired).

Rhonda in full flight

 Videos of Jeff & Co. "live" at Tokyo International Forum -12 & 13 April 2010

Jeff Beck commemorated 'Les Paul’s 95th Birthday'  at the Iridium Jazz Club. Click on link for details, photos: Jeff beck Live at The Iridium, NYC June 8th & 9th 2010

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Robin Trower - UK and European Tour - Sep & Oct 2010

Robin Trower and his band will be undertaking a UK and European tour during September and October 2010. Don't miss the opportunity to witness 'live' a truly creative guitarist with a distinctive sound and inspired song writing ability.

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 am attending two concerts and will be posting a review of one of the shows.

Concert Dates:

11/09/10 - Academy, Glasgow
14/10/10 - TBA, Monaco

An important aspect of the tour will be the set list. Robin says it will include some new songs and [perhaps] restoration of some old favourites that are truly atmospheric live, for example, "Daydream" - a classic song.

Best wishes to Robin and the band for an enjoyable and successful tour in 2010.

This footage is dedicated to Robin, Pete, Davey, and Glenn. Thanks for the music and the vibe.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Concert Review: Robin Trower - Komedia, Bath - 22/9/10

I've attended good concerts and great concerts. Myself and my wife, and others whom we meet afterwards, agree we have witnessed an outstanding one. A compelling performance from beginning to end; a terrific triumph for Robin, Pete, Davey and Glenn (who astound with their energy, passion and musicianship) and for the audience an emotional, unbeatable, roller coaster ride.

I glance at Robin's set list and believe it is one of the strongest Robin has put together for recent tours in the UK. The strong riffs and rhythm of "Confessin' Midnight" followed by "Lady Love" will enable Robin to solo with a degree of aggression and passion right from the start and for the band to hit a tight rhythmic groove early in the show. I'm pleased a deep favourite of mine "Daydream" is included in the set. The first time on this tour. The gods have fortuitously shone down on me once again. Somehow I feel this is the right place, one of the right gigs to be at.

As the number of people flocking into the auditorium grows there is an increasing air of excitement and anticipation, and the slight electricity of whispering that occurs before such events. When Robin and his band appear on stage the audience give them a warm boisterous welcome.

"Confessin' Midnight" sounds razor sharp. The band come together and the song goes off like a flashbulb. Robin's guitar tone sounds amazing, especially when he hits the wah-wah pedal. Davey's vocals are superb and distinct tonight. In fact, his singing is a revelation and he wins many plaudits. Robin's soloing bites, twists and turns, and is pleasantly aggressive. A problem with a monitor is soon fixed by Laurie at the end of the song. Without losing ground the band launch into "Lady Love" which keeps the crowd energized. It says something about Robin's unique guitar style that songs from early in his career still retain a freshness and vitality on each hearing. Pete on drums and Glenn on bass combine to provide a sweeping, smoldering, strong rhythm which delights and catches hold of your spirit at the same time.  

The hypnotic, funky rhythm of "Somebody Calling" is particularly noteworthy powered by Robin's lead guitar work. Combined with Davey's vocals and enthusiastic backing by Pete and Glenn this song sounds better live than I expected. Robin's vibrato is used to killer effect alongside beautiful rhythmic chording and chord changes.

It's obvious that Robin loves to continually write and record new music. The inclusion of three "new" songs in the 14 song set, "Find Me," "The Turning," and " Not Inside - Outside" are well received by the audience. "Find Me" really kicks in when Davey sings in sync with Robin's guitar. During the song Robin plays beautiful understated solos which rise to a crescendo. This should be an interesting composition to listen to on Robin's forthcoming CD regarding the guitar parts and overdubs.

"Extermination Blues" has been dropped from tonight's show; a slow song which I believe can lose an audience no matter how great the guitar playing may be. I'm pleased it's been replaced by the classic "Daydream." Tonight "Daydream" is haunting and unforgettable due to Davey's outstanding vocal and Robin's graceful guitar playing and lush sound. The bass and drums sound just right and combine to make this one of the highlights of the show.

Robin's mastery of the guitar is highlighted to great affect on "Bridge of Sighs". He improvises with great feeling; moving from soulful tenderness to moving aggression. I'm glad this version was captured on film. Another new song, "The Turning" sounds excellent. The main riff, chord sequencing, rhythm - and the slow coda - make this a finely-crafted composition. The haunting beat from the outset creates an intoxicating sound. A truly memorable riff weaves its way through the song and make it impossible to remain still until the coda. A coda which is soft, beautiful, and gets large cheers from the audience.

Pete in full flow

Robin's Set List

The people I spoke to post-concert agreed this was one of the finest performances by Robin, Davey, Pete and Glenn they had witnessed. A great set list enabled Robin to ply his exceptional monster bends, licks, and classic vibrato with incredible energy for the whole concert. At 65, Robin deserves high praise for continuing to create music and play guitar at a level second to no other living guitarist.

Davey's singing was top notch and the sound mix was great for the audience. Pete's heart, soul and finesse shone in his drumming and Glenn's funky bass lines were a revelation. A truly superb performance by Robin and the band which produced many great musical moments to cherish. "Daydream" was the icing on the cake.

Postscript: The venue was great and all the staff were friendly and supportive. This helped to make the concert superb and unforgettable.

Davy Smith, Alan Howard, Ronnie Kerrigan (post concert)


Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Concert Review: Robin Trower & Jack Bruce - The Music Hall, Worpswede, Germany - 1 March 2009

The venue for the concert is 25km north of Bremen. The village of Worpswede is intimate, quite and beautiful. As my brother and I walk towards the The Music Hall I am intrigued that such a  music venue exists so far from noisy, densely populated towns and cities. It is 5.30pm and the band are going through a sound check. The songs are "Seven Moons" and "Lives of Clay" and sound great. At the rear entrance to the hall there are a number of vans with cables running from the stage area. The performance is being recorded for broadcast on Radio Bremen.

I meet a music journalist from Hamburg and we talk about the broadcast and the venue. My brother and I talk to a number of people from different parts of Germany and Sweden who are big Jack Bruce fans. It's good to see Laurie Brace (Road Manager/Sound Engineer for Robin Trower) and Steve Russell (responsible for Jack Bruce's instruments and amplification). We talk about tonight's gig, the previous night's performance in Nijmegen, Holland and exchange a few pleasantries and jokes. Two great guys kept busy making sure all the musical equipment is working, in the right place and ready for the musicians to perform. Also, ensuring that the sound balance is as close to perfection as possible given the restraints of the venue.

Steve Russell, Ronnie, and Laurie Brace

The program and posters outside and inside the venue intrigue me. The only musician displayed is Jack Bruce. It appears Jack is the main act and Robin and Gary are supporting musicians. I understand this is the way the music industry sometimes works. Two formidable musicians collaborate on three albums, organize a short tour in Europe, and only one musician is given recognition and billing. When I discovered the set list included the entire Seven Moons album I tried to curtail judgment, but couldn't. The album has a number of great songs, but also has its share of average, unmelodic tracks.

I notice Robin's Deja Vibe is absent from his pedals. This rules out the possibility of the trio inserting other songs in the set to provide contrast: up-tempo, funkier rhythms; the chance to hear Jack playing bass and singing on "Bridge of Sighs" or "Day of the Eagle."  A view shared by numerous Robin Trower devotees and musicians at the front of the stage. Indeed, the absence of songs from earlier collaborations - BLT & Truce - is a major talking point before, during and after the concert with fans. Tracks such as: "Into Money," "No Island Lost," "Won't Let You Down," "Gonna Shut You Down," "Gone Too Far," "Fall In Love," "Little Boy Lost" would have enhanced the set and experience.

Frankly, I despair of CD/DVD/concert reviews which make you wonder if the person was at the concert. or has listened to the music on disc. Some reviews on the internet, and in magazines appear to be “cut & pasted” and follow a familiar pattern with comparisons of Robin to ... well, you know who. A review bereft of originality and sincerity does a disservice to any impassioned and skilled musical artist. 

The show started around 9:00 pm to a hall packed with eager fans. At the outset Robin's guitar sound seems low in the mix. This fails, however, to make "Seven Moons" or "Lives of Clay" any less engaging. Two powerful tracks back to back. Robin's soloing is a revelation. In fact, it is noticeable that Robin and Jack are enjoying playing together.

The sound is uncluttered and Robin's guitar sound becomes more visible during the pedestrian "Distant Places Of The Heart". During the song Robin uses his considerable vibrato and guitar voicings to great effect. A wonderful, creative journey. A masterclass in sensitive, passionate soloing. The outro solo is stunning. Jack Bruce at the finish of the song says, “Life isn't so bad after all ...”  I believe, for the moment, he's right.

Tonight Robin's Strat is plugged into a 100-watt custom built Cornell amp. I prefer his guitar tone when he uses Marshall. In fact, towards the end of the set Robin's guitar sound appears to oscillate in volume; a combination of amp and faulty connections, perhaps.

After a passionate and enthusiastic version of “Sunshine of Your Love” the tempo slows for a rendition of “Carmen.” The live version misses the guitar overdubs and outstanding vocal Jack produced on the original recording. Not an easy song to sing, whatever your age, or state of health.

At some point I begin to feel Gary Husband is prone to over-drum - a la Buddy Miles - and the sensitivity of some songs, while still moving, are executed with undue rigidity.

Following “We're Going Wrong,” “So Far To Yesterday,” “ Just Another Day” the infectious rhythm of “Perfect Place” enables Robin to use the wah pedal to create haunting, biting, riffs that make the song seem too short. During the song the trio create a wondrous groove which the audience share with vocal enthusiasm.

I'm grateful that supreme musicians such as Robin Trower and Jack Bruce still grace this planet, share their music, their gift, and voice wherever, and whenever, possible. Both musicians have enriched my life and those of numerous others. I hope they tour together again without constraints and a different set list. I acknowledge they call the shots. Me? I'm someone who enjoys music played "live" with passion, vigor and creativity. So who am I to talk? I knew you would understand.

Link to photographs of the performance on 'The Music Hall' site: Photos + Videos

The concert was recorded and broadcast by Radio Bremen. Click on the following link for the whole concert: Robin Trower & Jack Bruce 

Set list signed by Robin Trower and Jack Bruce