Monday, July 06, 2015

Review: Glastonbury Festival 2015, Part 3

It was Saturday morning at Glastonbury. Saturday is the peak day at Glastonbury. Everyone who was coming had arrived and nobody had gone home yet. It was the biggest shanty town in the northern hemisphere with about 160,000 people on site. The sun was shining and I was awake at 4.30 even before my alarm clock. Considering I had only four hours sleep I didn't feel too bad at all. I even had time for breakfast today before setting off for work. Our brave band of brothers and sisters had now bonded into a battle hardened fighting unit like the 101st Airborne Division and we tore into the work with gusto. It was a bit muddy at Arcadia after the previous days rain and those gas things had been trodden in and now the mud was drying in the sunshine they were quite difficult to dig out. That was a bit annoying but the morning went really quickly and we helped other teams who weren't as great as us. Rob and Alison sent me a photo they took during a break. (See Photo).

                                                                                         After work, on the way back to base I caught some of the Unthanks set on the Pyramid Stage. They had a full orchestra backing them led by Charles Hazlewood. They are Rachel and Becky Unthank and they combine Northumbrian folk music with other genres of music and the resulting sound is quite mesmerising and mysterious. I must get one of their albums. They couldn't have been that mesmerising though because I was hungry and left after about twenty minutes to get some lunch. The catering company that kept the workers fed was called 'International Eats' I think and as well as the food being really nice the staff were very pleasant. I asked one girl where she came from and she had come all the way from Estonia just to work at Glastonbury. Anyway, after a leisurely lunch I made my way back to the Pyramid Stage to see 'The Waterboys'.

 One of the reasons I wanted to see them was one of my Facebook friends Ralph Salmins plays drums in The Waterboys. He also used to play drums for Van Morrison which is how I first discovered him. The main reason I wanted to see them though is that they are brilliant. I have seen The Waterboys at Glasto going back to the 1980's but I think this incarnation of the band is as good as any that Mike Scott has assembled. I didn't have my notebook on me or I would have written down the set list. It has been nine days now so I can't remember all the songs but one was called 'The Nearest Thing To Hip' which I really liked. It seemed really 'Beat'  with its references to Sun Ra, Miles Davis, John Coltrane etc. The Waterboys were the perfect music for a sunny Saturday afternoon. I also really enjoyed 'Glastonbury Song' which is the best song ever written about this festival. During their set I noticed some loose change on the floor and picked up 90 pence in total. I found more money watching The Waterboys than I did in four days of litter-picking !

                                                                         I met up with my friends again at the Acoustic and enjoyed a set by a duo called 'The Lost Brothers'. I had never heard of them before. They were Irish and they did a great version of Corrina, Corrina, which I really enjoyed. Then I went back to the Pyramid to catch 'George Ezra'. I first realised how good George was when I saw him a year ago supporting Robert Plant. Of all the crop of young British male singers of the last few years such as Jake Bugg and Ed Sheeran I think George is the best. Only time will tell if he has another great album in him. After George it was the legend that is Burt Bacharach with his orchestra and singers but I couldn't be bothered listening and wandered back to camp.

                                                                         In the evening I really wanted to see the legendary 'Mavis Staples' in the bucolic surroundings of the Park Stage but I couldn't bear the thought of the long walk up there again. I was mentally and physically exhausted by now. I had also missed Gregory Porter who like Mavis has also recorded with Van Morrison recently. Instead I opted to see Nick Lowe, Paul Carrick and Andy Fairweather-Lowe. Nick is almost a Glastonbury tradition now. They were all in fine voice and as well as their own individual hits they also did great cover versions of other peoples songs such as 'Things' by Bobby Darin. It was a thoroughly enjoyable set. I needed a bit of a sit down because I was shattered and relaxed with Margaret & Wayne in the Theatre Bar before returning to see 'The Moody Blues'.

                                                                        It was seeing The Moody Blues at the Bath Blues Festival in 1970 that gave Michael Eavis the idea to have his own festival at Glastonbury in September that same year when 1,500 people attended. Little did he realise that 45 years later it would be the greatest festival in the world. I must say though at Glasto 2015 I was most disappointed. In the late sixties and early 70's I had lots of their albums. Unfortunately they started their set with four songs I had never heard of. Who wants to hear the Moody Blues new stuff?. Not me that's for sure. They should have started the set with some classics and put the new stuff in the middle and finished with more old classics. I lost interest and left. I regret that now because I have since learned that Michael Eavis joined them on stage and played tambourine during 'Question'. I think I was a bit hasty in leaving.

 I had heard a lot about the controversial decision to book 'Kanye West' to headline on Saturday night so I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and judge for myself. Considering it was Saturday night I thought the crowd was small compared to the Rolling Stones two years ago or even Metallica last year. I must say that after two songs (If you can call them songs) I had heard enough. I thought he was crap and not deserving of a headline slot at Glastonbury. The real star of Glastonbury is the audience and great performers understand this. Dolly Parton was a big success last year because she took the audience to her ample bosom. For Kanye West though it was just another gig and he obviously has no understanding of the history of this great festival. My view isn't an age thing because a lot of the youngsters in my team told me that they thought he was rubbish as well. Also, it's not a genre thing either. I saw Cypress Hill here years ago and thought they were good and my friend Fred gave me a hip-hop album called 'Dirty Acres' by The Cunning Linguists which I enjoyed. If they want to book this type of music why don't they get Eminem whose lyrics I find witty and intelligent.
                                                                                           When I got back to camp I felt quite deflated after the disappointment of the Moody Blues and Kanye 'Bleeding' West but my mates around the camp-fire soon cheered me up. I had lots of good chats with Peter and others round that camp-fire, chewing the fat and putting the world to rights.As I fell asleep that night I didn't realise it at the time but the next day Sunday was to be one of the most memorable days in the history of Glastonbury Festival. It was to be absolutely amazing..................

To be continued soon.........................

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Review: Glastonbury Festival 2015, Part 2

It was Friday morning at Glastonbury. I had been on Worthy Farm for five days now and finally I had to start work. Also today the music would begin so I knew it was going to be a long exciting day. The queue was too long to get breakfast so I just had a couple of cups of coffee to wake me up. Rain had been forecast so I packed my raincoat in my little back pack. I also pulled on my bright yellow veterans t-shirt to impress the other team members. I didn't wear it for long though, I'll tell you why in a minute. Finally at 5.30 I marched off down Muddy Lane to get to Arcadia. It was quite a long walk and I was knackered by the time I got there. Arcadia is this huge metal structure that looks like a great 3 legged spider. At night it breathes fire which can be seen all over the site and they have lots of performances on it. This morning though it was deserted except the field was covered in rubbish that we had to clear up. I was worried about being late but when I arrived there was just one couple there.They were called Rob and Alison from Chatham in Kent who were there with their daughter and her friend. I had a spare litter-picking stick which I gave to Alison. All of our team were great but it was them who I talked to most over the next four shifts. Gradually all our team arrived and our leader Jeremy arrived pushing the wheelbarrow laden with boxes of rubbish bags. Over the next four days I realised that our team was the best because we had the best leader. Jeremy knew how to motivate people without getting stressed about it. There were 48 of us I think and what I liked about our team was it covered all age groups from teenagers upwards. The previous year I was in a small team where I was the oldest by about 3 decades so I didn't feel out of place this year.

                                                                        After roll call we all helped ourselves to plastic bags from the wheelbarrow. Black bags for stuff that can't be recycled, blue bags for cans and plastic bottles etc, and white recyclable bags for organic waste like cardboard cups and plates and wooden knives and forks and food etc. 47% of all the waste at Glasto is recycled which is quite an achievement. Then we all formed a line in the corner by the ice-cream van and moved across the field picking up the rubbish. In previous years I had just used my gloves to pick stuff up with but this year I had a litter-picking grabber and I got on really well with it and my back didn't ache like in other years. In areas like Arcadia one of the things you get a lot of is nitrous-oxide containers and balloons. This seems to be the craze these days, squirting the gas into a balloon and inhaling it. It all seems a bit silly to me. Anyway, the gas cylinders are really valuable aluminium material so they went in the blue bag. The time went really quickly and by 9.00 we had Arcadia looking spick and span.
 The sun came out and it started to get really hot and I discovered the problem with my bright yellow veterans t-shirt. It attracted lots of tiny little black flies. I think they were trying to pollinate me. Luckily I had another t-shirt on underneath so I reversed them which solved the problem. After Arcadia we had a welcome break and then carried on towards The Glade. Some of the worse mess was around the litter bins where they had overflowed. There are 2,500 bins at Glasto but even that doesn't seem to be enough. Anyway, our great team soon cleared that mess up. The Glade is the oldest dance area at Glastonbury. I can remember it being there in the 1990's. It is nice and shady in there amongst the trees, hence, chillin' out in the Glade. Today it was relatively easy in that area and we were more or less done by 10.30 but that was too early to go home and Jeremy got instructions that we were to help out the Park team who were struggling. It was quite a gruelling walk up the hill but we didn't mind and we worked our way right up to the Glastonbury sign and were rewarded with the magnificent view. Finally Jeremy got the word from HQ that the work was all done for the day. Jeremy signed us out and gave us our meal tickets. Our first shift was over.

                                                                         When I got back to Tom's field I found  the queue for lunch was too long, it was going out the door. There were 1,800 hungry litter-pickers in our field. I decided not to bother, I had places to go and people to see so after a quick wash at the tap I headed back down the lane and bought a delicious vegetarian Cornish pasty. I didn't eat meat once at Glasto, the vegetarian food was that nice. Then I wandered on and I wanted to hear some music. It was a music festival after all. I went to the Leftfield stage because I had heard that there was a 'Pussy Riot' going on which sounded very exciting but when I got there all I found was some Russian women talking about what a bastard Vladimir Putin is (Joke!)  I got bored after about 20 minutes, I'm sure Vladimir isn't any worse than David Cameron. They are all as bad as each other in my opinion. I carried on to the Theatre field. I love the theatre bar where I stopped for a drink because you only have to sit outside it for a few minutes and something amazing will happen. Sure enough two men dressed as Arctic explorers came by and I had my picture taken with them. Then I saw this man who I had seen last year. He was dressed like a character from Dickens and plays an upright piano but it moves along by him cycling a device underneath. This year he had a girl who was about 8 years old standing in the piano dressed as a cat and singing a song called 'It Ain't Wot You Want, It's Wot You Get'. That is why you don't need drugs at Glasto, reality is amazing enough.

                                                                        I had arranged to meet Margaret and Wayne at the Acoustic Stage bar at 2.00 and as well as them it was great to see my niece Lee and her friends and Neil and his mate Dominic from Westbury. On the stage I saw a nice band called 'Red Sky July' who are a 3 piece band formed of ex members of Texas and Alisha's Attic. I thought they were really good playing Country/Americana type music. After that we watched 'Stornoway' who were great. As you know Stornoway is in Scotland but when the band were formed they had never been to Stornoway, they come from Oxford but they had heard Stornoway on the Shipping Forecast and liked the name.
 I'll tell you the real reason I spent so much time at the Acoustic Stage on Friday afternoon. It was because the predicted rain had started and I had stupidly left my raincoat in my tent so I was trapped in the Acoustic Stage. I didn't mind though because the music was great. I particularly enjoyed the set by 'Duke Special'. I have had the pleasure of meeting him on a couple of occasions and some of my friends are big fan's of his and I have promised them I'll write an individual review of his show. I'll do that after I have completed this mammoth review. After Duke I saw a bit of 'J.D.McPherson' which was really good but the rain was easing off and I was determined to get some dinner after missing breakfast and lunch. As I marched back up the lane I could hear 'Motorhead' singing The Ace Of Spades on the Pyramid Stage.

                                                                          After dinner I had a nap in my tent and woke up at 9.00 in time to see a magnificent show by 'Christy Moore' who headlined the Acoustic Stage. It was so great I wrote a whole review of his show and since I published it a few days ago Christy read it himself and sent me a nice message. If you scroll down you can read my Christy review if you want.I finally got in my tent at 12.30. It had been a fabulous day but Glastonbury 2015 was to get even better the following day........................


To be continued soon...............................
                                                                                         

Friday, July 03, 2015

Review: Glastonbury Festival 2015, Part One.

The sound of rain on the window woke me up on Monday morning. It was that time of year again and I was off to Glastonbury. Even 36 years after my first Glastonbury I still get festival fever when it is time to head to the beautiful Vale Of Avalon. Margaret and Wayne picked me up at 10.00 and we set off. The gates didn't open for another two days but we were going early because we were site crew. They were stewards on the gates and I was recycling crew. The roads were clear and within an hour we were parked up behind the Oxfam compound which was Margaret & Wayne's home for the next week. As soon as we arrived the rain stopped and it didn't rain again for another four days. I arranged to meet them later and headed for the recyclers cabin outside Pedestrian Gate B where I was given my wrist bands and once again I was back on Worthy Farm my spiritual home. It was only a short walk to Tom's Field where I was camping. Tom was actually a horse that used to live in this field. At the office I got registered and given my veterans T-Shirt which is awarded to people who have done this job for 5 years so I was quite proud of that achievement.

                                                                        It didn't take me long to put up my little tent which has been my home at Glasto for over 10 years now. Then I set off on a long walk all over the vast site. It was really nice to stroll about with very few people around to disturb the tranquillity. The grass in front of the Pyramid Stage looked really green and lush. In a few days time it would have 130.000 people walking all over it. I met up with Margaret & Wayne again at the Bread And Roses Saloon in the evening and then we went to the backstage bar at the Acoustic Stage and had a few drinks in there. Later that night I just chilled out round the camp-fire back in Tom's Field. I made some really good friends around this fire over the next few days.

  I didn't have any work to do till Friday but Tuesday morning I was awake at 5.00 because I wanted to get in the habit of getting up early. It was a beautiful sunny day and the birds were singing in the trees as I strolled down what has become known at Glastonbury as 'Muddy Lane'. In the real world I would never dream of getting up at 5 o'clock in the morning and going for a five mile walk but that is exactly what I did. I walked all the way through the Park, past the Ribbon Tower right up to the Glastonbury sign and took in the incredible view over the site.Then I visited the Tipi Field and the Stone Circle and the Field Of Avalon. Kim used to love the Tiny Tea Tent which has been a fixture here since 1992 so I stopped here for a cup of tea for old times sake. I got chatting with a really nice lady called Sophie. She was based in the Green Crafts Field giving lessons in stained glass making. She was beautiful and really friendly. A lot of people who have never been to Glastonbury think it is all about the music and they miss the whole point. People love Glastonbury because they get a community spirit which is lacking in modern society. At Glasto people are really friendly and they talk to each other and communicate. Anyway, I thought Sophie was great,I asked a passer by to take our photo and I resolved to visit her again in Green Crafts.More about Sophie later in part two.

 Later backstage at the Acoustic Bar we bumped into an old friend Barbara and one amusing incident was that we met a man who was painting the base colours for the rubbish bins. He told us that when he got the job he didn't tell them that he was colour blind. They have fifteen artists following him painting designs on the bins and some of them are quite spectacular. They had asked him to paint some bins terracotta and he had painted them pea green because he couldn't tell the difference. After that I returned to Tom's field for lunch and was really pleased to see my friend Odele arriving. She is really nice. I met her here two years ago and we have met since at the Larmer Tree Festival and Glastonbury Abbey. Anyway, I asked Odele if she would be in my quiz team later and we arranged to meet at 8.00.

They had arranged a quiz for the workers in Tom's Bar. Around the campfire I had met this great guy from Bristol called Peter who has also been going to Glasto for over 30 years. Also in the team were Viv & Julie who were the best friends of Kim and I when we worked with them in 2005. Odele has been coming to Glastonbury since 2003 and the other member of the team was called Robin who was a friend of Odele's. All the questions were about the history of the festival and I knew with our combined knowledge we had a chance of winning. We were called 'The Glastafarians' and we smashed it !. We won easily. I was over the moon. I celebrated by getting really drunk but I didn't care. God knows what time I finally crawled into my tent. It had been a great day.

 I emerged from my tent all bleary eyed and goopy at 8,30 the next morning and decided to see how long it would take to walk to Arcadia which is where I would be working in two days time. It took about half an hour. The gates were now open and tens of thousands of  people were pouring into the site every hour. It was incredible how fast the camping areas were filling up. I had bought some postcards and sat outside a bar writing them. I sent an offensive one to my mate Smithy which must have given his postman a good laugh. One amusing incident took place then. Two young people dressed as condoms came along and they were handing out free condoms to anyone who wanted one to promote safe sex. They gave everyone on the next table to me a condom but when they got to my table they took one look at me and proceeded to the next table. I was most hurt. I felt like saying, "Hey, you ageist little pricks, are you under the impression that people of my age don't have sex?". I decided to let it lie but it would have been nice to be asked though. I went back to base for lunch. The food for the workers was delicious as usual by the way. When I was sitting by my tent two guys came along and asked if I would like a Glastonbury design stencilled on my tent. This is to encourage people to take their tents home because thousands of them get abandoned at Glastonbury every year which is a crying shame. Anyway, I think it looks great (See Photo).

 That evening I took my torch to the Stone Circle because I heard that they were going to create a huge torchlight CND sign in the field to celebrate the long association between Glastonbury and CND (Campaign For Nuclear Disarmament) but I didn't find it. Also I wanted to see a group of Mexicans called The Volodores doing a Meso-American ceremony with dancers on a thirty foot pole but sadly that was ending as I arrived. I did see a choir of about 100 people performing though. God knows where they came from. It was well worth the walk  because I witnessed one of the most amazing sunsets I have ever seen and I noticed a couple of security people guarding an entrance and when I asked what they were doing they told me they were stopping people from pissing in the stream by the dragon.Pissing in the hedges and streams is a real problem because if people do it then it ends up in the river and kills the fishes and plants and I was pleased to see a couple of people who did it being publicly humiliated by other festival goers.
 I went in and found this incredible stone dragon about 30 foot long sitting in the stream. Apparently it has been there since 1992 and I never knew it existed before. I sat outside a bar listening to a man playing an accordion and then walked to Shangri-La and the Unfairground which is really bizarre late at night. We call it 'The Naughty Corner' because all sorts of strange things go on in there. Finally I went home because I was exhausted. I told loads of jokes around the campfire and when I finally said that I had to get to bed one of my friends who had kept the fire going and made the benches etc said, "Don't worry folks, he's here all week", which was nice.

On Thursday I knew I had to be sensible because I was starting work the following day so I laid off the booze on Thursday. I spent a lot of time up the hippy end in Permaculture and Green Futures etc where there were lots of interesting displays to see. Wandering through a market area I got 'Chugged'. Chugging is where you get mugged by a charity. ( Thanks to Dave for explaining that term to me) I was looking at some T-Shirts on a stall and wondering if I should buy one as a present for my friend Jacquie. This very attractive girl approached me and said, "I see you are admiring our T-Shirts". I explained that I was thinking of buying one for a friend and asked how much they were. "Oh, they are free actually, we give them away to supporters of our charity". Ten minutes later I had signed away £4.00 a month to support the RSPB (Royal Society For The Protection Of Birds) I walked away clutching a t-shirt, a book about birds and a magazine and £48.00 per year worse off. I fall for it every time. I must support more charities than Bill Gates. I am the ragged trousers philanthropist. At a bookstall I bought a book about Van Morrison by Griel Marcus which I have owned before but never read and after I had a much needed shower and lunch I sat in the sunshine reading it because all the walking was tiring me out.

                                                                         After dinner that evening it was the Recyclers annual party. They had a really good live band on and there was a great atmosphere. I was sitting outside having a cigarette and who should come strolling along looking lovelier than ever in the evening sunshine but Odele. As we sat there chatting a scruffy old Jeep pulled up only yards from us and the greatest man in Great Britain emerged. It was Glastonbury Festival supremo Michael Eavis whose land we were privileged to be on. Michael always comes to the recyclers party to thank them for the hard work. I have met Michael several times before but this was an opportunity too good to miss. I whipped out my camera and asked Michael if we could have a quick photo and Odele took a photo of me and Michael and I did the same for her. He was very patient and courteous as usual. What a great man he is.

That night I was in my sleeping bag by 10.30 because I was worried about not getting up for work which would be a disaster. I had already been at Glastonbury for four amazing days which had passed in the blink of an eye. Tomorrow the music would begin. As I drifted off into restful slumbers little did I realise what destiny had in store. The real magic was about to begin..............

To be continued in Part 2 Coming Soon............


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Review: Christy Moore At Glastonbury 2015

I have been going to Glastonbury Festival since 1979 but I must say that Glasto 2015 rates amongst the best festivals I have ever attended for many reasons which I will explain later. The highlight for me was seeing His Holiness The Dalai Lama twice in one day, once in the Peace Garden in the Sacred Space and later on the Pyramid Stage with the great Patti Smith. Musically one of my absolute favourite performances was seeing Christy Moore when he headlined on the Acoustic Stage on Friday night. I promised my good friend Hilary that I would write a review of Christy's set so this is what happened.
                 It had been a long day. I awoke at 4.30 to begin work on the litter-picking team at 6.00. We finished work at 12.00 and in the afternoon I managed to see Red Sky July, Stornaway and Duke Special and a little bit of JD McPherson and walking back to base caught a little bit of Motorhead's set. Like Christy, Lemmy of Motorhead is 70 this year, quite amazing really. After dinner in the recyclers restaurant I fell asleep in my tent so I would be fit for the evening.When I awoke, "Oh no", it was 9.00. I pulled on my wellingtons and marched down Muddy Lane and turned left heading for the Acoustic Stage. All The Proclaimers fans were leaving.I was disappointed because I had hoped to catch some of their set because my friend Dave had given me a copy of their recent album which is really good. However, it did allow me to walk up the side of the audience right to the front and then weedle my way into the centre right on the front barrier. This is the nearest I have ever been to Christy when he is singing live. While waiting for Christy to begin I got chatting to a nice lady who lives in Glastonbury town and I told her that I would write a review so I hope she likes this.

                                                                         As in Bristol a few weeks ago Christy was assisted by Declan Sinnott on guitar,Jimmy Higgins on percussion and Vicky Keating on backing vocals. Being this near the front I was able to see Jimmy's deft work at close quarters for the first time but I sometimes think maybe Vicky's vocals could be turned up a smidgen in the mix. Declan who I occasionally think looks a bit serious was beaming all over his face tonight and Christy obviously loves Glastonbury and seemed really pleased to be back. The stewards at the front held up signs saying 'No Flash Photography Please' so I had to respect that request but towards the end of the set I did move to the back and took a couple of sneaky ones.They aren't very good so I have only used one.
      The performance began with A Pair Of Brown Eyes' which was great and made me think how nice it would be if Shane McGowan would return to Glastonbury one day. The City Of Chicago was next and was followed by Ride On which the audience sang along with. "You're singing well", said Christy. McIlhatton was next and then Yellow Furze Woman in which I was really impressed with  Declan's great electric guitar playing. Natalie Merchant's beautiful song Motherland followed. The next song was a highlight for me. It was Ewan McColl's Go,Move,Shift. Christy introduced it by saying that this was his fifth Glastonbury and his second was 1985 which coincided with the notorious Battle Of The Bean-field exactly 30 years ago which happened right here in Wiltshire. After the coal miners strike Thatcher was obsessed with 'The Enemy Within' and gave the nod to the police to brutally attack a convoy of New Age Travellers who were trying to get to Stonehenge to celebrate the Summer Solstice. Their vehicles were diverted into a field and then the police went on the rampage. I remember it vividly. There were many low points of Thatcher's regime and that was one of them. It showed to me what a great memory and awareness of the history of Glastonbury that Christy has. The next song was also by Ewan McColl which is the one he wrote to win back Peggy Seeger The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face. Next up was Missing You and at the end Christy said, "I'm Missing You Baby" which I found quite moving for personal reasons.

                                                           Somebody in the audience shouted out a request for Joxer Goes To Stuttgart and Christy said "Joxer will be here in about half an hour, he is backstage with Kanye West having the craic", which was hilarious.The great Spanish Civil War song Viva La Quinte Brigade followed which the crowd really enjoyed and Christy said, " This is the biggest Folk Club I've ever played in !". North And South Of The River followed and then Christy said he would like to sing a Scottish song as a tribute to The Proclaimers which was Black Is The Colour Of My True Loves Hair by the late Hamish Imlach. Declan's acoustic guitar was quite outstanding on this one. The audience loved the sing-along Don't Forget Your Shovel. Christy then asked Declan to sing a song which I hope is called Little Light Box. It was really nice and I'm sure if I get any songs wrong then young Colm from Kerry will put me right !. Christy then played the bodran and sang Well Below The Valley which took me right back to seeing him sing this song on the Pyramid Stage in the 1980's. Jackson Brown's great Before The Deluge was next but today I think it was after the deluge because we had two hours rain earlier in the afternoon but the weather was great for the rest of the festival. Declan and Jimmy were both outstanding on this song. Ordinary Man and the very profound Yellow Triangle  followed and then Richard Thompson's fabulous Beeswing. Another sign of Christy's great generosity and humility is that he tells the audience who wrote the songs. A lot of performers don't give the songwriters the credit. I knew that the show was coming to an end when Joxer Goes To Stuttgart finally appeared and the crowd went wild. Some of them were sitting on their friends shoulders and singing along. Christy and his three companeros all took a bow but I knew he still had a couple of tricks up his sleeve and sure enough they returned for the classic Nancy Spain and finally the best song ever written in celebration of a festival Lisdoonvarna. All four took another bow and left the stage in triumph with the applause ringing in their ears.

                                                                                    As I trudged back up the hill I could hear Florence And The Machine playing in the distance but I wasn't interested. Back at base I sat around the camp fire drinking cider and telling jokes with my camp-fire mates and finally crawled into my rancid sleeping bag at 12.30. It had been a 20 hour day and another epic day at Glastonbury was only 4 hours away. Thank you very much Christy Moore for making Friday night so memorable.     
                                                                                                           
                   

Monday, June 29, 2015

Review: Christy Moore & Declan Sinnott. Colston Hall Bristol 10/5/2015

I saw the great Christy Moore again on Sunday night. I went with my friends Jacquie, Pat, Smithy, Judy and Sian. Christy came on stage at the Colston Hall at the early time of 7.30. As usual he was accompanied on guitar by Declan Sinnott. To help out he also had Jimmy Higgins on percussion and Vicky Keating on backing vocals. I had never seen Vicky before so that was a nice addition. The show began with Jackson Browne's great song Before The Deluge  Christy is a great interpreter of other peoples songs as he proved with the next one which was Richard Thompson's beeswing. Jimmy Macarthy's Missing You followed and then the very moving On Morecambe Bay written by Kevin Littlewood. I think Smithy would have really enjoyed this one as it is part of his own repertoire. Christy started singing I'm A Bogman next but it all went wrong and he said to Declan "I'm making a balls of this one", much to the amusement of the audience. This changed into Motherland from his 2003 album Burning Times which was written by Natalie Merchant.

 Then Christy paid tribute to the great Ewan McColl whose 100th anniversary is this year with three songs Go, Move, Shift,The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face and Companeros. Just what I needed after the election results. City Of Chicago and Shane McGowan's A Pair Of Brown Eyes were followed by a John Spillane song but I don't know how to spell it. (Hilary tells me it is called Gortatogort which is the place in West Cork where his mother came from). I did once read that John Spillane went to Africa and made a documentary with African musicians and wrote in his journal about the evils of the slave trade and I am sure that Christy is aware of the fact that the Colston Hall is named after Edward Colston who made his money from the slave trade. There was a big debate a few years ago about changing the name of the hall but it never happened. Then it was Delirium Tremens, Farmer Michael Hayes, Ride On and Viva Le Quinte Brigade. All great songs. I had to go to the toilet and I missed a song by Declan which was a shame and I might have missed one more as well, North And South Of The River was the first song when I got back in my seat followed by the beautiful ballad Black Is The Colour and the very moving Does This Train Stop On Merseyside. Declan played some great guitar during Smoke And Strong Whiskey. 
Christy then sang a request from somebody right near the front. I don't know what the song was called but it mentioned Hull and Halifax in the lyrics.( Hilary just told me it is The Dalesman's Litany, I should have known that because I have heard Christy sing it before. It is written by Dave Burland). Another request followed for Caitlin or is it Cathleen or Kathleen?, anyway it was very moving and called So Do I. The hilarious Honda 50  was followed by the classic Nancy Spain. A song from the Graffiti Tongue album Yellow Triangle was very sombre and powerful. They all left the stage but returned to sing Ordinary Man, another song with a powerful political message. A great show of two hours ended with Mandolin Mountain/ Water And The Well. 

Thank you very much Christy, Declan, Vicky and Jimmy for a great show and I'll see you again at Glastonbury in a few weeks time.


Sunday, May 31, 2015

Review: Graham Robins, Parish Papers & Short Stories.

It has been four long years since I discovered the music of Graham Robins when I first heard his album 'The Shipping News' but finally the long wait for a new album was over when a signed copy of his new album 'Parish Papers & Short Stories' came through my letterbox. I eagerly opened the package and I must say I like the sleeve design which depicts Graham browsing in a second hand bookshop. He is obviously a man of my own heart because I spend a lot of my own time scouring bookshops looking for bargains. In the sleeve notes Graham tells us that this album is a collection of old songs that he has tweaked, enhanced, re-recorded or remixed. That is fine by me because they are all fresh and new to my ears.
             The title track Parish Papers is the opening song. The Parish Papers was a collection of short stories by Victorian writer George MacDonald but I don't know if that is where Graham got the idea for the song title from. Anyway is is a great pop tune to open the album with. Lots of sha la la de da's in the chorus. It is very catchy and I especially like the contribution of the horn section of Paul Devonshire and Matt Wych. If I was on Juke Box Jury I would definitely vote it a hit. Starting Over Again is another great track with a driving beat featuring Ronnie Johnson who is a great guitarist and Chris Savage is also excellent on keyboards and lets not forget the backing singers of Lee Devine and Sue Gray. Martine by contrast is very different in mood, sombre and brooding featuring Lou Short on guitar. It is a very dark song and makes me want to reach for the bottle but I really like it and Graham's bluesy soulful voice sounds great. Lonely Heart is one of my favourite songs on the album, sparse and effective featuring Graham's acoustic guitar and Mike Adcock on keyboards.It is a beautiful ballad, quite outstanding and to me Graham's voice has never sounded better than on this track. The words are great as well, very moving.I have posted a video of this song below which I urge you to listen to. Elysium Fields is the next track. The Elysium Fields was a concept of the ancient Greeks of the afterlife. To quote Homer in The Odyssey- ,'Where life is easiest for men, no snow is there, nor heavy storm, nor ever rain,but ever does ocean send up blasts of the shrill-blowing west wind that they may give cooling to men'. so there !. Mr Robins is obviously very well read. I love the imagery in this song and the string arrangements of Claire March, Liz Guest and Marion Hill deserve a mention as well.

                                                                             I suppose in the old days of vinyl Walking In The Footsteps Of A Soul Man would be the opening track of side two on the album. Like the first song this is a great slice of up-tempo pop. If you were looking for a hit single I would put this out as a double A side with the first song. The tragedy is though that this sort of music doesn't have hit singles any more. The brass section are great and Sue Smith helps out with  backing vocals. Going Down To Georgia follows. What is it about Georgia that inspires such great songs?. Otis Redding gets a mention here. Richard Symonds keyboards and James Litherland guitar are both excellent on this song. Strong is the right title for the next song because believe me this song is strong. I love it. It has an eerie bluesy mood. The guitar work of James Litherland is outstanding. It reminds me of someone else, maybe Gary Moore and that is quite a comparison to make.The keyboards are great as well. This is one of the best songs on the album. Hold On To The Light is another very moving ballad. A great simple love song which gives full justice to Graham's vocals. Crossing The Rubicon brings this great album to a close. As you know The Rubicon is a river in Italy that was crossed by Julius Ceasar and his army but it means that you have committed yourself to a certain course of action and there is no turning back or as Van Morrison might say " It's too late to stop now". This is another wonderful song in which Judy Garland has a cameo role and Kansas City gets mentioned as well. I'll put a video of this song below so you can judge for yourself. Also I have re-posted my previous review of 'The Shipping News' below because that is another great album that I urge you to listen to.
                                                                       In short I must say that I think this album is quite wonderful, There isn't a bad track on it and in this age of Pop Idol and X-Factor this album proves that Britain has got talent and its name is Graham Robins. You can find out more about Graham if you go here-http://www.globalsessions.co.uk/

                                                                                               

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Review: The Shipping News by Graham Robins.


It is always a pleasure to receive something in the post from Simon Gee.It used to be the excellent Wavelength magazine but on Friday morning it was the new CD from Global Sessions the new music label that Simon has set up which hit my door mat. The CD is the third album by Graham Robins and is called The Shipping News and I must say that after a depressing week of riots news and stock market news The Shipping News is a breath of fresh air.As soon as I heard the first track 'Back To The Heartland' I knew I was in the presence of something special. It features some wonderful flute and uillean pipe playing by John Devine. 'Walking In Silence' follows which is a very upbeat spiritually uplifting song with lots of religious imagery. A great song for Sunday mornings or any morning for that matter. 'Now All Of The Heartaches Gone' follows and and has a nice American sound with great pedal steel guitar by Cliff Weston and violin by Cliff Ward. I love it,I'd like to hear this music live at a festival. 'The great songs continue with 'Snow Blind'. When i first heard the opening notes on upright bass I thought of Under The Boardwalk by the Drifters. Graham excels himself on the harmonica on this track. The eponymous 'The Shipping News' is next and is a tour de force with Dave Baldwin playing some very atmospheric Hammond organ and piano. I love the name dropping of the great explorers such as Columbus and Vasco Da Gama and even Irish lady pirate Grace O'Malley. In complete contrast 'A Letter From Paris'has a very Jazzy feel and I love Olly Dowlins upright bass sound and Dave's piano. Paris has been a great inspiration to many great writers and artists and Graham has obviously soaked up the vibes as well. 'Drown In Your Eyes' is much more soulful and Graham is joined by Jade Rhiannon Ward on backing vocals.If some exponent of broken-hearted soul like Adele had recorded this song it would sell millions.It reminds me of I would Rather Go Blind by Etta James.On an album without one bad song I would say that song is possibly my favourite.
The mood changes completely with 'The Gangsters Of Rock n Roll which has a nice Tex Mex feel to it with the pedal steel guitar to the fore.I really like 'Roll Back The Years',Graham must be a similar age to me because it takes me back to Ready Steady Go,Radio Caroline,and even reminded me of buying Ben Sherman shirts in Harry Fentons shop. Grahams terrific harmonica playing opens 'The Comfort Zone' which is another powerful soulful song.I always thought the'The Heights Of Abraham' were in Canada but a friend of mine told me tonight that they are in Derbyshire in England's green and pleasant land with the hammond organ and John Devine's delicate flute playing accompanying Grahams soulful bluesy voice and some of these songs  remind you of when Britain used to produce a wealth of great soul and Blues bands. 'Waiting On The Healing' brings the album to a close in magnificent style and the lyrics remind me very much of another great singer from these Isles who also took Blues,Soul,Jazz,Country and Irish and turned them into his own unique sound. In the absence of a new album from that singer I think this CD is the best thing out there.There isn't a bad track on the album,it is quite brilliant.This is an album to buy for someone you love and you won't go far wrong..