Pet Shop Boys at Royal Albert Hall April 2017

cos this is a fab review of a concert I was at, sumptuous settings, a great cause, and a lush evening…:



The Real Thing at Canvas, Bournemouth 17th March 2016

This was fab night out from the energetic band, working hard to get the crowd of mostly 40-somethings and 50-somethings dancing and cheering in a terrific venue setting (the former Bumbles). Liverpool lads all, Chris Amoo still handled the lead vocals well, assisted by main-audience communicator and brother Eddie Amoo and Dave Smith. Now into year 44 of their career, I was there for the first single I recall Vicious Circle (I feel sure it was first played on Fluff Freeman’s show in 1972) though obviously all the tracks performed stuck with the late 70’s golden disco soul period, including that trio of crowd-pleasers You To Me Are Everything, Can’t By Without You, and Can You Feel The Force. They did a handful of lesser hits, and with a great backing band, funktastic, and a fab soul lead from eddie for Children Of The Ghetto, but also kept the party moving fast with a number of 70’s disco covers.

While I would have liked to hear a few of the missing minor hits and some early stuff, it wasn’t really about that, it as about having a fun time, and they went down fabulously, energy-levels for 60-somethings (as I approach the big 6-0 myself) pretty impressive. The last time I caught them, it was backstage at the Radio One roadshow in 1986 as they were going through a remixed hit revival and I was appearing as a contestant on Mike Read’s Pop Quiz on the actual radio – he took the piss out of my jumper, and I won a mug and sweatshirt, but I managed to get some sneaky pics of The Real Thing from the back of the stage. Got some new ones now, too! If you get the chance, go to see them, it’s a great retro night out.

ABC live at Bournemouth Pavilion 28th Oct 2016

What a classy, fab evening this was! I’ve seen Martin Fry do a truncated ABC hits set about a decade ago on an 80’s tour but this was proper lush, with a full band and 40-plus South Bank Sinfonia a young-looking orchestra conducted by Anne Dudley – her of 80’s Trevor Horn art-pop project Art Of Noise. She orchestrated both Lexicon Of Love in 1981/2 and Lexicon Of Love II in 2016, and gave both projects class, and the live sound a full-bodied experience. Martin Fry was in five fettle, dapper, and the whole concert oozed romantic class.

The first half was basically the best ABC hits that didn’t feature on either Lexicon album, the fab When Smokey Sings to start with a bang, The Night You Murdered Love, equally great, How To Be A Millionaire, Be Near Me and others sprinkled in between tracks from Lexicon Of Love II. The 4 key tracks have all featured in my personal chart and are as good as anything in the first half, the terrific Viva Love, Flames Of Desire, Ten Below Zero and my personal fave Kiss Me Goodbye, just gorgeous, while I was also impressed by Anne Dudley co-write The Love Inside The Love.

Martin obviously hasn’t the range for the top notes these days, but he had fab support from 2 female singers for the more upper range bits, just as well as in part 2 they did the whole Lexicon Of Love album track by track in order, the classic hit singles require a touch of histrionics (I did my bit singing along, unhelpfully!) Tears Are Not Enough, All Of My Heart, and the show-stoppers Poison Arrow and The Look Of Love. Poison Arrow got the 40/50-something audience on it’s feet and stayed there for the reprise encore of Look Of Love (It’s impossible to follow that one). The album sounded fab – I checked my record collection and I don’t have it – yes, I bought all the singles and never got round to the album, which is something I need to correct as every track on it is a winner, a true classic album. Valentine’s Day, Many Happy Returns and Show Me could easily have been pulled off as further hit singles, for instance.

All in all, well worth the extra money to have the orchestra and a fantastic night out. Sing it loud!


Pet Shop Boys Royal Opera House July 20th 2016

image (01)Fabulous Show, Inner Sanctum, in a fabulous venue, I even bought a programme and 12″ single, something I haven’t done this century in either case, and above I even managed a photo as Chris & Neil entered in 2 large balls – I hardly ever get decent mobile phone pics so don’t bother as a rule.

The Sun gives a good review with photos showcasing the innovative stage design from the Olympics-designer:…al-opera-house/

I’d add some key tracks off Super were missing (Happiness and Say It To Me), along with many of the 80’s classics and early 90’s classics, more recent key album singles were present and correct, and many oldies were reinvented quite substantially, especially Home And Dry, a pleasant acoustic single that had a bit more depth to it in a new lush arrangement. Left To My Own Devices and others were more playful, not least the end tracks which had hordes of dancers in inflated fat suits, amusingly.

Such is the depth of their back catalogue, though, and the quality of the new material, the PSB’s are NEVER Being Boring (and yes that one was missing too!). I may be biased, but they’ve never let me down in concert or on record yahoo.gif…nd-bff7dca.html

The main surprise is that In The Night (Clothes Show TV theme from the 80’s) hasn’t been done before in concert! That was always the track I liked to play when friends said “I hate the Pet Shop Boys, everything they’ve done” then get them to say, “ooh I like that one, who is it?” before they backtrack about it being neil’s voice they have a problem with.. laugh.gif


My highlights:

1. Love Comes Quickly

2. Burn

3. Se a Vide Es

4. Left To My Own Devices

5. Domino Dancing

6. The Sodom & Gomorrah Show

7. Go West

8. It’s A Sin

9. The Pop Kids

10. Inner Sanctum

11. Love Is A Bourgeois Construct

12. Love etc

13. Twenty-Something

14. West End Girls

15. In The Night

16. Home And Dry

17. Vocal

18. Always On My  Mind

19. New York City Boy

20. The Dictator Decides

21. Inside A Dream

22. Winner


Jon Bon Jovi live in Bournemouth 1997

Jon Bon Jovi singing Livin’ On A Prayer King’s Park, Bournemouth 1997 August.

I’ve finally got round to uploading stuff to youtube – and this is the first one. It’s a video I took from the side of the stage (I had work colleagues who organised the Radio One Roadshow each year, who knew I was and am pop mad – they still work for the local Council, as do I – so I got quite up close to special guest star Jon Bon Jovi, flown in the lunchtime live broadcast). Simon Mayo was host, Jon was acoustic, and there was a support live act, 90’s minor popstars The Supernaturals. It was a good day, and the highlight was easily this song….

NIK KERSHAW, GO WEST and T’PAU at Bournemouth Pavilion 7th Nov 2015

NIK KERSHAW, GO WEST and T’PAU at Bournemouth Pavilion 7th Nov 2015

31 years since I first saw young Nik Kershaw in Bournemouth, and over a decade since I saw Peter Cox on tour with Tony Hadley, it’s a surprisingly great low-key evening of oldies and more recent covers, with support from Carol Decker as T’Pau on board to act, as she said, fluffer for the boys. She did good, still in fine voice and looking great, and though I was never a huge fan T’Pau’s best trio of tracks were present and correct, Valentine’s Day, Heart And Soul (which I adore, but was always going to be tough to match in concert) and of course China In Your Hand, which I overdosed on at the time, but shows itself to be a great song and an audience motivator. The new stuff was the equal of the other oldies, some great guitar work too, almost a lost art form these pop days.

The format of the concert from here was unusual, and it worked beautifully, essentially Nik, Peter and Richard did joint covers old and new, then 2 each Go West and Nik Kershaw, then repeat till the climax when they did one each alternated for the big ones. Despite a pretty rubbish sound quality from where I was sitting, side balcony, they put on a great show. It would be fair to say the boys, and those of us in the audience, weren’t looking as young and fresh as we once did, but Peter Cox still has a great soulful voice, and Nik Kershaw still has charm and quirky individuality for a pop star. He never sounded much like anyone else, and had his own music style which still pretty much sounds like no-one else, and in a very good way. I was reminded just how good some of the back catalogue was and picked up new appreciation for some tracks I’d never been big on at the time: Don Quixote especially came over fabulously.

Go West’s finest moments for me were Call Me, Don’t Look Down and the classic “Pretty Woman” soundtrack King Of Wishful Thinking, which really when down a treat along with eternally popular We Close Our Eyes, while they also covered Sam Sparro’s Black And Gold and one of Nik’s oldies, and he in return covered one of theirs. On those Peter sung with Nik, there were a few 80’s faves such as Everybody Wants To Rule The World and Would I Lie To You, Seal’s Crazy, Nik’s great song for Chesney Hawkes’ monster hit The One And Only, and Birdy’s Wings, which came over all grungy and would make a terrific single (hint hint) for those of us that found Birdy’s version a little too simpering. As Nik quipped, up next is a Birdie Song – not that one! Nik’s catalogue impressed, Wide Boy, I Won’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me and especially the fantastic The Riddle and Wouldn’t It Be Good. Finally, the encore was an unexpected joint cover Kings Of Leon treat, Sex On Fire, which went down as well as any of their own stuff, and was a cracking version. The band were excellent, and a everyone went away very happy. Now, all I want is an album of corking contemporary covers by Go West Nik Kershaw!, or GWNK a la FFS (Franz Ferdinand Sparks)!

Knebworth Festival 1980 – A very late review…!

beach boys clip click here and scroll down
Saturday 21st June 1980: Knebworth Festival

Paul drove Ian and I to Stevenage, and a stop-off at a Little Chef for Paul to clean-up after his packet of sauce burst in his pocket (Ick!). Knebworth was BIG, lots of stalls, lots of current and recent music playing over speakers, and a mass of people were already there when we arrived. I didn’t like our early positions near the back of the crowd (sat down) so went scouting for photo positions and nearer spots. Found one! THE BLUES BAND (Manfred Mann’s Paul Jones) were on first, and the sound was better here (even if the view was a bit restricted). they were pretty good, actually even though I’d not rated what I’d heard from them before. The next up were LINDISFARNE, Paul’s faves, and the crowd crowded more towards the front. I got to recognise many in the crowd from my frequent trots to take photos: “weird woman in shorts and top” “topless hippie in shorts” “guy with swinging beer container” and so on. Lindisfarne went down well, fairly lively with greats Lady Eleanore, Meet Me On The Corner, Fog On The Tyne and Run For Home.

SANTANA were up next: Santana’s very laid-back groove got a couple of hippies in front of us dancing and grooving to it, as other stoned-hippies wandered about glassy-eyed. The day was getting hot and sunny. She’s Not There, Samba Pa Ti were good but largely it was fairly unexciting to me (and it would be another 20 years before I became converted) – the World War II yankee bomber displaying overhead to the Jackson 5’s Skywriter impressed me more. ELKIE BROOKS BAND up next, very much in a rock-chick blues stylee was a powerful singer, but did none of her singles disappointingly. Paul reported the toilet facilities were holes in the ground with planks to stand on, which didn’t impress me at all as my shy bladder would be in crisis. By the time I got home at 2 in the morning I was in agony and unable to pee, despite a roadside toilet stop on the way. Ouch!

MIKE OLDFIELD was next, a bit more laid back, and a pissed bloke with Rod Stewart hair-do tried to pee during the set without bothering to go to the toilets. Couldn’t blame him, but it was amusing to us. Guilty and Tubular Bells were up, we moved forward, very good sound and set, and a good view of the stage – which took ages to set up as it started to rain for the full British festival experience. Oldfield was “brilliant, best of the day, with Lindisfarne” and finished with Portsmouth and Blue Peter. As darkness drew in we decided to move forward for a great view of the headliners, and a long list of “hand-related records” to go with the blow-up hand bobbing about on stage, such as Angel Fingers (Wizzard). Dry-ice, lights, cameras (It was filmed) and…action!

THE BEACH BOYS were brilliant, and they even had Brian Wilson on stage with them, it was the classic line-up all together plus regular Beach-Boy friend Bruce Johnstone for a whole non-stop run of famous songs (plus a couple of new ones). “Classic, excellent, magic” and other superlatives dropped out of my mouth, as my jaw dropped to greats, and that was after a medley of tracks such as California Girls/Darlin’/Do It Again/Heroes And Villains – so many hits they can spare a few thrown away together. Lady Lynda, their big comeback hit, was done twice, before the non-stop dancing of Help Me Rhonda, Surfin USA, I Get Around and others which got the crowd going, and got me going. The encore, though, Good Vibrations, Barbara Ann and Fun Fun Fun were climactic, rather suitably. I’ve seen the video of the concert since, and it doesn’t capture the feeling of being there properly – Live concert experiences are never the same on TV, it’s so difficult to capture the mood and noise and feeling of being in the crowd. The sound isn’t explosive, and you’re not moving about living it. This was the concert that persuaded me going to concerts was well worth it. The finale was a big fireworks show, followed by a lesson in crowd-control: it’s useful to have some. Basically, the whole crowd tried to exit through one narrow entrance, you were swept along whether you like it or not, and it was getting to seriously piss me off as everyone squeezed in on me more and more. “Beam me up Scotty!” shouted one wag, which was amusing, but I could see how easily crowds can get ugly and unmanageable and decided to avoid getting inside one that big again without proper controlled exits and entrances. I was miffed at the organisers for not having more exits.