Sunday, 19 October 2008

In Concert: Elkie Brooks, Newport Riverfront, 2008

I was introduced to Elkie Brooks music when she was a guest on The Two Ronnies TV show for several consecutive Saturday nights back in the 1980s. Her mix of jazz, blues and rock vocals were as much an eagerly awaited treat on a Saturday evening for me as Messrs Barker and Corbett’s comedy, so it was great to have some of that magic reignited at Newport Riverfront on Saturday evening.

The years rolled away as Elkie stepped onto Newport Riverfront’s stage to the sound of rapturous applause and backed by a six strong band of talented musicians. Looking elegant in a silver dress, she belted out a cross range of blues standards, rock classics and a pick of her greatest hits for nearly two hours.

Launching into the upbeat track Hurricane, Elkie performed with energy and enthusiasm displaying that she still has what it takes as one of the greatest voices in British Rock. She then paid homage to Percy Sledge with the bluesy Warm and Tender Love. This was followed by the first of several hits from her back catalogue, her classic rendition of Chris Rea’s Fool if You Think It’s Over from 1982.

It was apparent Elkie was thoroughly enjoying performing and caught the audience’s attention throughout. At one point she even held a note for well over a minute, I wonder how many of today's so called stars could achieve that?

Rocking the Riverfront up a bit in the second half, Elkie paid tribute to The Doors with a fantastic version of Roadhouse Blues and then treat the audience to more of her hits including Lilac Wine, Sunshine After The Rain, We've Got Tonight and her anthem Pearls a Singer.

Rather than likening Elkie to a Pearl , I’d say by her performance on Saturday evening, she is still one of the finest jewels in the crown of the British Music scene and would recommend that if you get a chance to catch her in the future, you should book early before she sells out again!

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

In Concert: Jethro Tull, St David's Hall, Cardiff, 2008

"Some big and bad noise is gonna happen" promised Jethro Tull front man Ian Anderson to a packed house at St David's Hall. The mixture of acoustic blues, classical music, jazz and prog rock that followed certainly delivered.

The show kicked off with special guests, Welsh band, The Crook family performing tracks from their new CD including the memorable and catchy track A Twisted Kind Of Love before Ian Anderson and veteran Tull drummer Doanne Perry joined them on stage for a few numbers.

After a brief change over period, Ian Anderson along with Martin Barre, John O Hara , David Goodier and Doanne Perry took the audience back forty years to the beginnings of Jethro Tull, kicking off with That Old Feeling and then straight into their 1969 hit Living in the Past.

It was great to see that Ian Anderson still carries as much charisma on stage as he appeared to back in the early days, frequently dancing around and standing on one leg while playing his flute.

Other tracks performed were One for John Gee their tribute to the aforementioned Marquee club manager who gave the band their big break back in the 1960's and So Much Trouble, a popular track from an early John Peel session. Another highlight was a version of Bach's Bouree which brought classical right into mainstream.

Other tracks from albums Thick as a Brick , Crest of a Knave, Stand Up and Heavy Horses made this retrospective concert an enjoyable evening and demonstrated why Jethro Tull are still top of their game four decades on from their initial success.

  • A version of this review by Andy Howells was published in the South Wales Argus during April, 2008

Friday, 1 February 2008

In Concert: The Barron Knights, Newport Riverfront, 2008

At a recent ‘surprise’ concert Barron Knights front man Pete Langford heard a bewildered woman utter “The Barron Knights? Are they still alive?” Well, as the gig at Newport Riverfront proved last night, yes they are, and 48 years into their career, still kicking too!

Formed in 1960, The Barron Knights are one of the few groups to have the distinction of actually touring with both The Beatles and The Rolling Stones in the 1960s. Starting off as a serious band they became legendary in the music business for satirising contemporary groups of the day through hits such as Call Up The Groups and A Taste of Aggro.

Fans were not disappointed by The Knights set list which opened with a rousing version of Eddie Cochran’s C’mon Everybody. A medley of The Knights greatest hits followed including a humorous tribute to Camilla Parker Bowles and their take on the Boney M hit Rivers of Babylon (There’s a Dentist in Birmingham).

There was a great mixture of classic rock’n’roll with tributes to The Coasters, The Everly Brothers, Lonnie Donegan and The Crickets with some comedy thrown in for good measure.

Highlights included the orchestral version of the William Tell Overture, a cover of The Beatles song Blackbird, and a flamenco piece played by Pete called Malaguena. A track originally banned by the BBC satirising David Bowie’s cat Birth Control to Ginger Tom was also performed to everyone’s delight.

As they approach their half century, The Barron Knights proved they've still got what it takes to deliver a very entertaining show. Long may they reign!