Last night, in retrospect, wasn’t the best night to have scheduled a trip out to see a gig. Well, it might have been when I booked the tickets a few months ago, but by the time it actually rolled around, Geth and I were both fairly exhausted due to the preceding fortnight being absolutely non-stop for both of us.
However, I’d been waiting to see Gary Numan for a long time (I believe I was first planning to see him play at the notoriously cancelled Alt-Fest festival in 2014) and so I was determined to go out, enjoy myself and not fall asleep! It helped that we arrived just in time for doors, as it meant we were able to get a seat close to the bar and enjoy the show from further back.
The support act was Kanga. I quite liked their industrial stylings at first, although the tracks did start to get a bit samey towards the end. Both Geth and I are in a place where we’ve reached industrial music saturation point over the last year or two – this does happen periodically – and so I will keep the artist in mind for when I’m more in the mood for listening to that kind of thing again.
Once Gary Numan came on, though, the energy in the room was fantastic. He kicked off with ‘My Name Is Ruin’, which is very familiar to audiences now having been the lead single off last year’s hit album Savage. We then had a selection of tracks from pretty much every era of his career, with the ’70s and ’80s hits not really making an appearance until towards the end – being a fan of those early albums I would have liked to hear a few more, but I loved the variation in the set and appreciated the chance to hear some songs that I’m not so familiar with! The encore was also a nice touch, with some quieter songs in the mix, including a demo track (‘Intruder’) that hasn’t been released anywhere yet.
It’s a nice summery tune, but it’s pretty generic. I’m sure Post Malone appreciates the namecheck though!
I quite like the video, which is all colourful backdrops and partying with drag queens. I have to dock it a couple of points for the car-standing, though.
Normani – Motivation
Good danceable pop beat. I find the tune a little forgettable though.
The video-within-a-video has some serious ’90s vibes, and not just because Normani has her birth year emblazoned across her top half the time.
Taylor Swift – Lover
A bit acoustic-y, which is kind of a throwback to her early work. It’s a little slow for me, but it’s nicely put together.
The video IS A CHRISTMAS VIDEO EEK. A little girl sits under a Christmas tree, holding a snowglobe which turns out to contain Taylor, her eponymous lover and their weird magical house, where at one point they have a New Year party. Nice video, but released at the wrong time of year!
Headie One – Both
That Ultra Nate sample OMG! Takes me right back to 1997. The generic rap over the top is not my thing though.
The video features an extravagant mansion, a dog, a bag of cash, a retro ’70s TV and the ubiquitous car-standing. It’s a bit of a surreal one, more imagery than storyline.
Jorja Smith and Burna Boy – Be Honest
I like the summery beat, and it’s an okay tune if not a standout.
The video is about people in an urban setting trying to keep cool in a heatwave. It makes me feel a bit claustrophobic and glad that it’s not been too warm here this summer!
It’s taken me nearly a week to get round to doing this review due to all my internet issues earlier in the week. Better late than never!
South Tyneside Council puts on a lot of free gigs in Bents Park in South Shields during the summer, but Geth and I hadn’t been to one for three years. The last one we went to was the Proclaimers and Lindisfarne in 2016, on a much more changeable day that required both suncream and a brolly!
However, it was a no-brainer when we heard about this one – Midge Ure was fantastic when we saw him in November supporting the Human League, and neither of us had seen Nick Heyward before – so I bought early-access tickets (well worth it at six quid each, as it means you’ve actually got the chance to set your deckchair up fairly close to the stage) and we headed out to South Shields for the day with my beloved vintage deckchairs in tow.
The support act were a local ’80s tribute band called The Breakfast Club. They played a lot of the most well-known pop hits of the decade, which went down very well with the dreaded ‘I’m wearing an ’80s costume’ crowd (those people are an absolute scourge – I see them at every gig now!). It got a good atmosphere going, and I might go see them again if they come across to Newcastle and I fancy a cheesy ’80s night out.
Their setlist included two Duran Duran tracks, and I’m still not sure whether to be pleased as a Duranie or annoyed as a setlist purist who was always taught when learning to DJ that you should never repeat artists within a set!
We hadn’t been organised enough to bring lunch, so we scraped enough change together for a couple of portions of chips from one of the food stalls. I need to remember to take some snacks with us next time we go to one of these things.
Nick Heyward was on next, performing a very well-balanced set of two big hits (‘Love Plus One’ and ‘Take That Situation’), followed by a bunch of stuff you’d have to be a fan of his to know, followed by another two big hits at the end (‘Favourite Shirts (Boy Meets Girl)’ and ‘Fantastic Day’). I really enjoyed this set, largely because the people in front of us weren’t standing up to dance during the middle bit so I could actually see! I’m not familiar with his catalogue other than the ’80s hits, but they were all very nice tunes and I’ll have to look into them some more.
Midge Ure finished the day with his usual hit-laden set – highlights for me included ‘Vienna’, ‘Fade To Grey’, ‘If I Was’, and an epic crowd singalong to ‘Dancing With Tears In My Eyes’. It was a slightly rockier performance than when he was playing with Electronica in November (Geth dubbed it ‘if Ultravox had been prog’), but I enjoyed it just as much.
Already hoping that there’ll be some exciting choices of artists for next year’s Bents Park gigs – it’s always a good day out when the weather holds!
Nice summery dance beat, but the tune’s not that inspired.
The video is all about Rita Ora leading a group contemporary dance routine in a neon-lit studio.
Remedee, Notes and Young Adz – Love Of My Life
Some interesting synthy things going on with the backing track, but there’s no tune to speak of.
The video features lots of shuffling around a London tower block and, of course, some standing around in front of cars.
Krept & Konan, Headie One and K-Trap – I Spy
Annoying squeaky voices on the backing track, repetitive rap. Not my thing.
Some interesting bits in the (NSFW-due-to-close-up-twerking-towards-the-end) video – there’s a chat show host involved and some random flamenco outfits – but it’s mostly a fairly generic haze of bling, exotic mansions and car-standing.
This was released back in February and was a fairly frequent earworm for me in the early spring, but I’ve not heard it in months so I’m a bit surprised the Now! compilers have held it over for this compilation. It’s another one that annoys me now.
Track 7: Meduza and Goodboys – Piece Of Your Heart
I still quite like this tune! (I’m also endlessly confused by the lyric ‘I’m in Toronto and I got this view/But I might as well be in a hotel room’ – if he’s visiting Toronto, and he’s not in a hotel room, then where is he? Staying with a friend who has a really good view? Why is this not explained in the song?)
Track 10: Mark Ronson and Camila Cabello – Find U Again
I’m still gutted that, other than this track and a brief appearance by Catfish & The Bottlemen, there has been absolutely no rock music in the charts in 2019. I’m really hoping this trend reverses itself at some point during the 2020s!
I can’t stand this one. It’s way too saccharine for me, and the lyrics contain James Arthur’s favourite ‘romantic trope’ about holding girls’ hair back while they vomit due to overconsumption of alcohol. I have very little patience for that kind of message.
It’s another straightforward cover – Taron Egerton’s voice is sort of similar but not identical to Elton’s, which gives it a slight uncanny valley feel.
Track 44: Himesh Patel – Yesterday
Here’s another soundtrack song – this one is from the soundtrack to Yesterday, which got to number 40 in the album chart.
Like the Elton covers, this is arranged pretty identically to the Beatles original, which, as I understand it from reading about the film’s plot, is to be expected.
Track 45: Grandmaster Flash and Grandmaster Melle Mel – White Lines (Don’t Do It)
We’ve already had this track on Now! #3…because the Now! compilers are doing exactly the same thing as they did on the last compilation, and so the last few tracks are all bonus tracks that originally appeared on the third release back in 1984! Now! #3 is also being re-released today, on CD for the first time. I really need to start picking up these re-releases again – I got Now! #1 on CD last summer but haven’t bought Now! #2 yet.
Because the Now! company was posting Duran Duran pictures in order to tease the re-release on social media, I was hopeful that they’d include The Reflex as a bonus track, but sadly there was no love for it this time round – I’ll just have to enjoy the original White Lines (famously a DD cover a decade later) instead!
A couple more recently released videos for current chart hits.
Miley Cyrus – Mother’s Daughter
NSFW video full of intersectional feminist imagery. I can’t get over the fact that Miley seems to be wearing Britney Spears’ catsuit from the Oops…I Did It Again video though!
Mark Ronson and Camila Cabello – Find U Again
This is a cracking video with an actual storyline. It’s black and white, and we start off outside a motel, which gives me some nice Psycho vibes. However, instead of a slasher horror, the story is an endearingly daft tale about bounty hunters who are being hired to take out Camila Cabello. They’re all told about their job through the use of retro telephones, which of course I absolutely love.
Mark Ronson is one of the bounty hunters, and is the first to find the club where Camila is performing. He irritatingly parks his car across two parking spaces, and then there’s a completely unnecessarily prominent advert for Marc Jacobs eyewear when he removes his glasses. However, he’s too intrigued by Camila to kill her, and so when the rest of the bounty hunters show up, he rescues her instead and they drive off into the sunset.
So nice when a video has an actual coherent narrative!
It’s been a while since I went to a gig by myself. Geth wasn’t interested in going to see Rod Stewart, so I just bought the one ticket. I still had a great time, though – concerts for me are about enjoying the music rather than socialising!
The venue had advised showing up promptly for doors at six o’clock, and I can understand why – when Geth and I went to the Culture Club gig we arrived a bit later and it took ages to get through the queues. This has been an understandable feature of big arena gigs in the UK since the Manchester Arena attack a couple of years ago, as everyone has to be scanned and bag-searched and metal-detected before they go into the venue. However, because I showed up bang on six o’clock, the queue was still small and soI was in my seat by ten past six, even with my brief stop at the merch stall to buy a set of badges! It was another hour and twenty minutes before the support act were due to come on, so I settled in with my 3DS to pass the time.
The support act for this tour were Johnny Mac & The Faithful, who had co-written a song on Rod’s latest album, Blood Red Roses. I hadn’t heard of them prior to the gig, but they were the epitome of what I would describe as a ‘BBC Scotland’ band – a Celtic rock act from Glasgow, whom I wouldn’t be surprised to see on the BBC’s Hogmanay coverage at some point. They started off with a couple of original songs before launching into a series of traditional Celtic standards such as Galway Girl and The Irish Rover – I hadn’t expected this type of music at a classic pop/rock gig, but it was very high-energy and enjoyable. They then moved onto a couple of Rod Stewart covers in order to get the audience pumped, before moving onto Howling At The Moon (which my Duranie brain misheard as Howling Like The Wolf) and finishing with a track called Johnny Rod, in which the aim was apparently to crowbar as many Rod Stewart titles into the lyrics as possible.
I’ve been to a lot of gigs but I have never seen such a good effort made by a support band at ‘being a support band’ – it was all about getting the audience excited for the main event! They were obviously very grateful for the support slot, and they put me in the mood to start listening to some more folky stuff again.
Johnny Mac & The Faithful setlist:
Little Wild Heart Took A Train Galway Girl Pay Me My Money Down The Irish Rover Ooh La La Handbags And Gladrags Howling At The Moon Johnny Rod
After they’d finished, we didn’t have long to wait for the main event. A series of impressive visuals on the big screen heralded the entrance of Rod and his band, who immediately launched into the music – it was a couple of tracks before Rod greeted the audience and introduced the band. Although the current tour is in support of the Blood Red Roses album, the show was really a greatest hits set, which is to be expected from artists who have been going for decades. I certainly wasn’t complaining!
The early part of the set included solo hits like Young Turks and Faces classics such as Stay With Me, as well as a rendition of Rod’s ’90s duet with Tina Turner, It Takes Two. Tina’s half of the duet was ably covered by the lead backing singer, one of six women in Rod’s current touring band, the ‘White Swans’. When the six of them had arrived on stage at the beginning, dancing in matching outfits, I’d assumed they would just be doing dance routines, but it turned out that three were backing singers and the other three were multi-instrumentalists, playing violins, mandolins, drums, and many other things. They were really good, as were the rest of the band, and I wish I could find out a bit more information about the performers online.
Because it was a long set, there were quite a few ‘transition songs’ that went on while Rod went offstage for a costume change. One of these was a cover of Mark Knopfler’s Local Hero, which, as I mentioned in my most recent Music Video Monday post, is a revered local anthem in Tyneside, and Rod (famously a football fanatic) introduced it by making reference to Newcastle United. I assumed that they must have chosen a locally important song for each stop on the tour, but apparently they also played Local Hero in Paris a few days previously, so it must just be part of the regular set for some reason. Another of these songs was a cover of Donna Summer’s She Works Hard For The Money, performed by the backing singers. I’ve had it my head for four days as a result!
After a series of slower songs, some of which were tracks from the latest album and some a lot older (a notable standout was a cover of Ewan MacColl’s Dirty Old Town, which Rod first recorded and released fifty years ago this year), the show finished with four mostly-more-upbeat tracks that are arguably Rod’s biggest hits – Baby Jane, Sailing, Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?, and Maggie May. The third of these was a lovely kitschy moment that involved pink neon leopardskin visuals onstage and hundreds of giant balloons falling from the ceiling. The final song, Maggie May, was technically an encore, but it was a bit confusing – the curtain only went down for a few brief seconds before rising again between the last two songs, and Rod never said anything along the lines of ‘thank you and goodnight’, and the lights didn’t go up for a good several minutes after the band went offstage for the last time…so there was a lot of clamouring from the audience for an encore that never came. I don’t think anyone could have complained about the set though.
Rod Stewart setlist:
Having A Party Young Turks Some Guys Have All The Luck Tonight’s The Night (Gonna Be Alright) Stay With Me Forever Young Rhythm Of My Heart The Killing Of Georgie It Takes Two Tonight I’m Yours (Don’t Hurt Me) I’d Rather Go Blind Rollin’ And Tumblin’ Local Hero Grace Reason To Believe Dirty Old Town I Don’t Want To Talk About It Have I Told You Lately She Works Hard For The Money Baby Jane Sailing Da Ya Think I’m Sexy? Maggie May
A great hit-laden set and a great night out! I’m always really grateful that legendary artists like Rod are still out touring (rather than retiring like normal people!), as it means we can all continue to enjoy them.
It’s a bit repetitive for me, but it’s got a great rhythm.
In the video, Lizzo gets married…or possibly not? There are a lot of people not forever holding their peace. Either way, it looks like a great wedding disco.
Dave and AJ Tracey – Thiago Silva
2016 track, never a hit till now but has entered the charts because of Dave fan Alex who got pulled up onstage to rap at Glastonbury. Not melodious enough for my liking but the beat’s very noddable.
The video is the two artists plus mates hanging around the streets of London and Paris, which is a nice showcase for the two cities.
Freya Ridings – Castles
Freya Ridings benefiting from the Love Island soundtrack effect again. This one’s a lot more upbeat than Lost Without You – I quite like the singalong chorus but on the whole it’s a bit saccharine for me.
The video is all about wandering the streets in floaty dresses and playing fancy pianos. There’s a bit of a rooftop dance routine as well!
D Block Europe – Home
I like the atmospheric piano on the backing track.
The video takes place in a flat (rather thematically), filled with gold discs, drugs and dogs.
Mist and Fredo – So High
It’s got a good atmosphere, and I like the ’90s-sounding female vocals that are interspersed throughout the track.
The video is a shady drug-smuggling (I think? it’s not clear) story involving swimming in pools with dollar bills floating in them, Jeep chases through the jungle, and expensive-looking mansions and helicopters.
Post Malone and Young Thug – Goodbyes
Another good atmospheric backing track.
The video is NSFW but worth watching! In 1950s small-town America, Post Malone gets stabbed to death in a knife fight and then comes back as a zombie. I expected him to take brains-eating vengeance on the gang who killed him but instead he just wanders into a bar where a pompadour-clad Young Thug is performing and scares everyone away except his grieving girlfriend. So it’s a zombie love story…I suppose?