Gig Review: Midge Ure and Nick Heyward at Bents Park, 28th July 2019

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.

Vintage deckchairs
I love these chairs. Around since my childhood (and probably before) and still going strong!
The Breakfast Club

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

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

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!

Bouncing ahead

I know I shouldn’t wish my life away, but today is the day I always start to get excited about autumn, my favourite season of the year.

It’s the first of August – just a month away from meteorological autumn – and while I know most people are still enjoying the summer (I’m not sure how, given that after last week’s brief heatwave the weather has since returned to a constant cool, grey dampness that means Geth can’t mow the lawn), I’m already dreaming of darker evenings and Hallowe’en chocolate and getting my ’80s jumper collection out again.

The BBC are starting to announce the first few Strictly contestants, and I’m stepping up my training for the Great North Run, and I’m already busy planning out my writing for all the fiction and poetry competitions I’m going to be entering from September to November. I’ve got a lot of gigs lined up for that period as well – it’s going to be a really great autumn this year!

In the meantime, I’ve got one last summer trip away to enjoy this month. It is Shetland, though, so I’m not hopeful for the weather (last time I was there, it rained the whole time).

A nice normal Thursday today now that we’ve got the internet back – Geth and I went to the earlier Slimming World group today so that we could be in when the new router arrived, and we’ve got boardgaming guests coming round this evening for more adventures in the Lord of the Rings universe.

OOTD 1st August 2019
OOTD: weigh-in top with added cosy hoodie due to the cooler weather. Glasses Emporio Armani (2017), hoodie Gildan for Resistanz (2016), vest top Primark (2018).

Today’s earworm playlist:

Haim Saban and Shuki Levy – The Mysterious Cities Of Gold Main Theme
Ed Sheeran – Castle On The Hill
A-ha – Take On Me
Andy Taylor – Broken Window
Lizzo – Truth Hurts
Gunship – Dark All Day

A more traditional summer day

I was out most of today watching bands play in a large outdoor space, which is the number one thing I used to associate with summer. I’ve deliberately not done much of it this year because it’s also the number one thing I used to associate with drinking. However, today went really well. I did occasionally feel uncomfortable due to drunk people in my vicinity, but on the whole it was a really nice day out and a good gig – and I will actually remember the whole thing! Review to come later this week.

Internet is still being problematic, but it looks like we will have our new router either tomorrow or Tuesday, so fingers crossed the remaining disruption will be minimal.

OOTD 28th July 2019
OOTD: gotta wear a Duran shirt for an ’80s-related gig! (Unless it’s Spandau Ballet of course.) Glasses Emporio Armani (2017), t-shirt Amplified (2018), jeans H&M (thrifted from Steff 2016).

Today’s earworm playlist:

Katy Perry – Never Really Over
Duran Duran – Burning The Ground
Janet Jackson – Whoops Now
Bobby Brown – Two Can Play That Game
Ultravox – Dancing With Tears In My Eyes
Nick Heyward – Take That Situation

Connection disruption

After I got back from my hospital appointment this morning, I was annoyed to find that our router had seemingly given out. It meant I couldn’t do any of my planned activities for the afternoon. I did catch up with a lot of reading though! Geth called BT to try and fix the problem, and it was ascertained that the router is working (to an extent) but not transmitting a wi-fi signal. As a result, we now have ethernet cables trailing everywhere and the internet connection constantly cutting in and out, like it’s the ’90s or something. I may have been driven mad by the time they send us a new router.

Geth and I are going to an outdoor gig tomorrow, so hopefully I will have a less frustrating day.

OOTD 27th July 2019
OOTD: too wet and grey for an outdoor picture, but I’m really pleased with my new Rio vest top! Vest top Redbubble (2019), leggings Primark (2018).

Today’s earworm playlist:

Martin Garrix, Macklemore and Patrick Stump – Summer Days
Sigala and Becky Hill – Wish You Well
Duran Duran – Pressure Off
Manic Street Preachers – A Design For Life
Ylvis – The Fox
Gunship – The Mountain

Gig Review: Rod Stewart at Newcastle Arena, 9th July 2019

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 so I 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.

Johnny Mac & The Faithful

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!

Rod Stewart

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.

Out on the town again

The Rod Stewart gig last night was a lot of fun. I’ll post a review later in the week!

Another night out tonight (this is not like me at all!) as it’s the end-of-term ukulele concert, and so I’ll be performing with the beginners’ group. I really enjoyed it last term, as you get to see all the more advanced groups playing.

In the meantime I’m just having a quiet day getting on with my writing.

OOTD 10th July 2019
OOTD: nice to be a bit more dressed up! Dress Polo Ralph Lauren (2018), shoes Carvela (2018).

Today’s earworm playlist:

Aerds – Deadline
Donna Summer – She Works Hard For The Money
Duran Duran – New Moon On Monday
Rod Stewart – Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?
Duran Duran – Winter Marches On

And a bonus track that Geth was humming earlier:

Bronski Beat – Hit That Perfect Beat

Looking forward to a night out

In contrast to yesterday, I was awake super early this morning. This was for the best, as I had to trek into town to collect a gig ticket from the box office at the Newcastle Arena due to it not showing up in the post. Looking forward to going out to the gig tonight! I’m on my own as it’s Rod Stewart and Geth’s not a fan. I’ll do a review later in the week.

Just getting on with a few admin and writing tasks this afternoon before I head out.

OOTD 9th July 2019
OOTD: it’s too cold and wet for an outdoor photo today! Top LK Bennett (2018), jeans Levi (2018), shoes Vivienne Westwood Anglomania for Melissa (2018).

Today’s earworm playlist:

Martin Garrix, Macklemore and Patrick Stump – Summer Days
Duran Duran – Too Late Marlene
The Cure – The Walk
Heaven 17 – Let Me Go
Elton John – I’m Still Standing
The Carpenters – Top Of The World
Duran Duran – Come Undone
Rod Stewart – Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?
Ramz – Barking
Duran Duran – Pressure Off
Trevor Something – All Night

Gig Review: Martin Kemp DJ Set at Wylam Brewery, 26th May 2019

Spandau Ballet are having a bit of a quiet period at the moment. Following Tony Hadley’s departure, they did do some gigs with Ross William Wild as frontman, but it’s just been announced that he’s leaving the band, so…not sure when we’ll next get a Spandau tour, or who’ll be singing (Shapers of the ’80s have a rather bleak take on things here). However, it does mean that the individual members currently have free time to pursue their own projects – and in Martin Kemp’s case, that means touring up and down the UK with a hits-laden ‘Back to the ’80s’ DJ set! I am all about this kind of thing, so I bought tickets to the Newcastle event as soon as they went on sale.

The set was bookended by warmup and afterparty sets from the resident Wylam Brewery DJ, Tommy, so there were already some good ’80s tunes going when Geth and I walked into the venue. The main set didn’t start until ninety minutes after doors, so I had plenty of time to settle in and drink lots of Fentimans Rose Lemonade.

Martin Kemp DJ set
Martin Kemp, getting the party started.

Once the set did get going, it was pretty much a non-stop singalong and a great night out! The music tended towards ‘cheesy ’80s’ rather than ‘synthy ’80s’, but I knew every word (unlike some of the people there who were clearly a bit older than me and should have been able to remember the music properly – sort it out and learn the second half of the When Will I Be Famous chorus!) and I had a hoarse voice and sore feet by the end of the night.

As was predicted and welcome, Martin finished with Spandau Ballet’s Gold. Well, not quite, as we then got a bonus track: the Proclaimers’ I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles). I love the Proclaimers and consider I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) to be the unofficial Scottish national anthem (it’s a far better choice than the problematic Flower Of Scotland and the dirge-like Scotland The Brave). However, I can’t stand it being sung by a roomful of drunk people because EVERYBODY gets it wrong – there is no ‘da da la da’ chant after the first chorus, it just goes straight into the second verse, but everybody starts singing the ‘da da la da’ bit anyway and it DRIVES ME UP THE WALL. When it was played on Sunday night, even Martin got it wrong! You’d think that if he finishes with that song every time he does a DJ set, he’d get it right!

Anyway, apart from people not having done their ’80s singalong homework, it was the best night out I’d had all year. I’d been worried that my singing-along-and-dancing days were over after I quit drinking (I actually covered this subject in one of the poems I performed last Wednesday, as it’s really been playing on my mind), as I was always so self-conscious about it without a drink in me. However, I really felt able to let go on Sunday, so I’m feeling a bit more positive about future nights out now. The power of ’80s pop!

Martin Kemp is playing Wylam Brewery again on the 31st of October, so I think that might be my Hallowe’en night out sorted for this year!

Updated Band Aid baby bucket list progress: song artists 5/37 (13.5%); message artists 2/7 (28.6%); total artists 7/44 (15.9%).

Home again

After a week of being back and forth between Newcastle and Edinburgh, I drove us home today. It’s nice to be back.

This evening we went out to the Martin Kemp DJ set at Wylam Brewery, which was the best night out I’ve had in ages! I’ll do a proper review in the next few days.

A nice quiet day tomorrow to get caught up with everything!

OOTD 26th May 2019
OOTD: still love the colour of this blouse. Blouse C&D (vintage 1980s, bought at vintage fair 2017), jeans Vivid (2018).

Today’s earworm playlist:

The Midnight – Days Of Thunder
Fleetwood Mac – Dreams
Buddy Holly – Raining In My Heart
Idina Menzel – Let It Go
Arcadia – Say The Word
Elton John – I’m Still Standing
Wilson Pickett – Mustang Sally
Duran Duran – Planet Earth

And a bonus track that Geth was humming earlier:

Ava Max – Sweet But Psycho

Gig Review: Tears For Fears at Leeds First Direct Arena, 9th February 2019

I’d been looking forward to this one for a long time.

I first became aware that Tears For Fears were doing a tour when they appeared on the Strictly results show during the 2017 series. To my disappointment, I couldn’t get tickets at the time (see my longwinded story about that here), but when the tour was postponed from 2018 to 2019, my ticket hunt had a happier outcome.

A major bonus was that Alison Moyet was supporting. I’ve loved her stuff since I was a kid, ’cause Mum and Dad had her Singles compilation and used to play it in the car all the time. As such, I made sure that Geth and I were at the venue promptly, ’cause I knew it would take a while to get in (security at big arenas has been understandably beefed up ever since the Manchester attack, so it takes longer to get into gigs these days).

(There was a bit of unintentional comedy thanks to Geth’s utter astonishment that this huge concert arena had ‘suddenly appeared’ in the middle of Leeds! He spent a lot of time in Leeds when living in York between 2000 and 2004, but the First Direct Arena was only opened in 2013.)

After grabbing a Tears For Fears badge pack from the merch stand (I love badges and have collected loads – I need to do something with them at some point) – we found our seats and settled in for the show!

Alison Moyet
Alison Moyet. Gig photography only semi-blurry for this one ’cause we had quite good seats!

Alison Moyet’s set had been advertised as an electronic set, but overall it was probably a fifty-fifty mix of Yazoo classics and her more modern blues-type tracks. I would have liked to hear more of her post-Yazoo ’80s electro stuff, but I really did enjoy the modern songs even though I wasn’t familiar with them, so I can’t complain.

My absolute highlight was obviously Only You. It’s one of my favourite songs of all time, to the extent that I walked down the aisle to it in 2012. Getting to see Alison Moyet perform it live was a really, really special thing for me.

Alison Moyet setlist:

I Germinate
Nobody’s Diary
Do You Ever Wonder
Beautiful Gun
All Cried Out
The Rarest Birds
The Sharpest Corner
Situation
Only You
Love Resurrection
Don’t Go

An interval and some more drinks later, it was time for the main event!

Tears For Fears
Tears For Fears. It was so awesome to see these two live!

Tears For Fears were doing a shameless greatest hits set – signalled from the start when they came onstage to Lorde’s cover of Everybody Wants To Rule The World and then launched into the original version – and they have a lot of hits, so there were very few tracks I didn’t recognise. It was all enjoyable singalong numbers from start to finish, which was exactly what I wanted to hear.

It’s hard to choose a highlight, but I’m going to go with Mad World, which has been a favourite of mine for decades now (it was on the first ’80s nostalgia playlist I created back in the ’90s, and I remember in 2003 trying to convince my brother that the original was better than the Michael Andrews version). Again, it was such a nice moment to hear it live at long last.

Unusually, there was only one track played as part of the encore – but it was Shout, and it went on for ages, so it was a suitably epic finale!

Tears For Fears setlist:

Everybody Wants To Rule The World
Secret World
Sowing The Seeds Of Love
Pale Shelter
Break It Down Again
Everybody Loves A Happy Ending
Change
Mad World
Memories Fade
Suffer The Children
Woman In Chains
Advice For The Young At Heart
Badman’s Song
Head Over Heels
Shout

Overall a great gig to start the year’s live music, and it will take some beating. A bonus was that Geth was really impressed by the First Direct Arena, so he’s now very happy to join me in my endless ’80s musical indulgence when bands play in Leeds. We’ll be back there for A-ha in November!