Monthly Archive: July 2014

Hall & Oates + Longfellow @ The Symphony Hall, Birmingham UK – 22nd July 2014

With huge hits, these guys permeated the radio during the 80s and took over MTV. We know all the words, we sang all the songs. So as a blast from the past we have the luxury of spending a beautiful summers eve in the delectable Symphony Hall, with guys who have the acclaimed status of being the number one selling duo in history* (*RIAA) – we’ve here fora bit of Hall & Oates.

With a career spamming over forty years, Daryl Hall and John Oates signed to their first label in the early 70’s releasing ‘Abandoned Luncheonette’ in ’73. A top ten hit beckoned with the soulful classic  ‘She’s Gone’, which has been covered by multiple artists since. A different label spawned a series of multi-platinum albums and a succession of number one hits including ‘Rich Girl’, ‘Kiss on My List’, ‘Private Eyes’, ‘I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do), ‘Maneater’ and ‘Out of Touch.’ And that excludes a long list of top ten singles. Hall also wrote ‘Everytime You Go Away’ – noticeably a number 1 hit in the UK for Paul Young in ’85. In the same year they were part of Live Aid – singing on US single ‘We Are The World’ and closing the Live Aid show in Philadelphia.

And now in 2014, for the first time in a decade, Hall & Oates bring their show to the UK – tonight’s Symphony Hall gig being the closing date of their UK tour. And it’s totally sold out.

These days Hall presents a multi-award winning monthly web series ‘Live From Daryl’s House’“It was a light bulb moment,” he says of the show’s genesis. “I’ve had this idea about just sitting on the porch or in my living room, playing music with my friends and putting it up on the Internet.” Indeed a LONG list of stars from Smokey Robinson to Fall Out Boy’’s Patrick Stump to new upstarts Neon Trees, pop in for a bit of nosh and a jamming sesh. In the US it’s syndicated by a TV channel – you’ll have to take to the interweb to view it here.  Hall has also gone all “George Clarke: Renovation Man”  and has renovated several 17th century properties both in London and the USA.. Oates meantime continues to play and record – recent solo album ‘Mississippi Mile’ gained critical acclaim, whilst he’s plugging new album ‘A Good Road To Follow’ . While their last ‘new’  recording as a duo may have been way back in 2003 with ‘Do It For Love’- they are clearly still best known in the UK for what we’ll see tonight- as the legends that are ‘Hall & Oates.’

So tonight starts off with youth – Longfellow are a bunch of lads from London of a genre nearer to Coldplay or Keane – who have the potential to be rising stars. Tonight’s audience are indeed 40+ something, but the young lads go down well. They are plotting an album due for release in 2015 – check out their website for more information.

So at 8.45pm the lights go down, the band take to the stage. And the bass starts up. And we’re encouraged to clap, we’re standing already as the sax is playing. Hall & Oates take to the stage and we’re off with “Ooooohhhh here we come….” it’s indeed ‘Maneater.’ We sing along to this classic – Hall & Oates are accompanied by sax player Charles De Chant, who’s been with them since ’76. Akin in white suite, he look’s like Mick Fleetwood’s older brother, but no matter, the sax tune is bang on and the song ends to huge applause.

Hall & Oates are engaging and chatty – between songs two white spotlights shine on each of them and at times the house lights comes up so they can clearly see the audience. Next up ‘Out of Touch’ – Hall still has the recognisable voice and the duo’s vocals are still beautifully harmonised. And we’re singing along: “You’re out of touch, I’m out of time, I’m out of my head, when you blow my mind.…”

Cheers and wolf whistles from the crowd – the guys feel complimented to receive such a response. “So far so good….” grins Hall. And we sing some more – as we’re into the dark ‘Family Man’ – “Leave me alone I’m a family man, and my bark is much worse than my bite…”

“Welcome to last show on UK tour…” says Oates, as he alludes to the dizzying height of the venue and his own diminutive statue… “I bet I look taller from up there. Next up a song from the 70s….” As they take us into the soul blues with ‘Back Together Again’ followed by “one for the gamblers amongst us” - ‘Las Vegas Turnaround.’

As Oates states, this song is one of those songs that always feels like the first time they’ve played it – it’s always fresh. And a huge classic indeed – ‘She’s Gone.’ Full of soul and blues – not bad for white boys, as they used to say; a song that rolls on and on… ‘Do What You Want, Be What You Are’ is a blues RnB ballad that rolls. Hall’s vocals dance as much as the sax does as it morphs into ‘I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)’ – and we’re clapping; and they’re jamming; the sax player is now fluting; and we’re singing. I defy you not to…

And as the hits are performed  – “Com’on y’all sing it…” encourages Hall as he conducts us before the band jam on and we spy  fellow Gig Junkie amongst the crowd, one Mr Daron Billings getting his groove on and boogying on down baby!  Now the percussionist is in a vocal challenge with Hall. Before the song rolls on and we’re in a blues sax mellow chill zone…. he gets us clapping before carrying and taking it up a gear and we’re back in the funky tune…

The encore brings us ‘Rich Girl’ and ‘You Make My Dreams’, then a tiny break. Back on Hall alludes to his other activities while Oates quips that he has his own show about inflating tyres. He’s waiting for the call from the TV channels for syndication. Meanwhile he’s making music – which we, in the UK, can download. If you want hard copy – that’ll be a visit to the States.

And here we go ‘Kiss on My List’ which morphs into ‘Private Eye’ totally seemslessly. And we chant “Private eyes. Are watching you. Are watching your every move….” Clap. Clap- Clap. Repeat. And the set over, the band are grinning and bowing, Hall takes time to smack the hands of the punters at the front of the stage.

Well, well, well. I can’t say that Hall & Oates are my preferred genre of music if you like but in my teenage years they permeated the airwaves, took over MTV. It was their 80’s hits we sang – ‘Maneater’, ‘Family Man’ –  I knew all the words, and I too was bopping along with the best of them tonight. Given that they are both over mid-sixties (Hall’s been battling with Lyme’s disease for a few years too) they look great; they sound great and they were indeed a pleasure to see. I did indeed go for that (And I’m so glad I did).

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Setlist:
Maneater
Out of Touch
Say It Isn’t So
Family Man
Back Together Again
Las Vegas Turnaround
She’s Gone
Sara Smile
Do What You Want, Be What You Are
I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)

Encore I:
Rich Girl
You Make My Dreams

Encore II:
Kiss on My List
Private Eyes

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Listening:
Private Eyes [1981]
H20 [1982]
Big Bam Boom [1984]

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Review for Gig Junkies.

Extreme + Leogun @ 02 Academy Birmingham, UK – 7 July 2014

So let’s take ourselves back in time to 1990 as a over 2,000 people head into Birmingham to see veteran (this makes me feel old) rockers as they bring their classic album, Pornograffitti to town. They be performing it from top to bottom in it’s entirety in track order. Get your singing voice ready and be prepared to rock with Extreme.

Extreme were formed in the mid 80s in the Boston area of Massachusetts, USA. After initial success they got the deal and recorded the album they are performing tonight, ‘Extreme II: Pornograffi’  featuring the mega ballad ‘More Than Words’ that struck a cord in the UK making Number 2 in the charts in ’91, let alone world wide acclaim. The band went on to release a further 2 albums before disbanding in ’96. Lead singer Gary Cherone went on to join Van Halen (following in the shoes of Dave Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar) before going solo; Nuno Bettencourt, the uber-talented guitarist and multi-instrumentalist, also went solo between forming  bands, – before Extreme sporadically come back together over the years, performing and producing their fourth studio album in 2008. Extreme 2014 edition are Gary Cherone (vocals), Nuno Bettencourt (guitar and keys), Pat Badger (bass) and Kevin Figueiredo (drums).

So when Extreme has this success in their hey day, they were at odd with a grunge obsessed rock scene. I saw Extreme at this time, at Wolves Civic. It was at a time when a) bands stopped touring because there was no money in it (!) and b) there was NO venues in Brum (!!) – literally the nearest venue mid sized venue was Wolves Civic. It was half empty and most the people were there to see a set they thought would variation on the ‘More Than Words’ theme. But to their shock it was a heavy rock gig and I remember most the audience being totally flummoxed. I enjoyed it. But then again, I like the alternative / heavy side. And it was a rare gig at the time.

Support tonight comes from Leogun – pronounced ‘Leo-Gun’- which according to their Facebook page – “Believed to be a were-lion, LEOGUN was a half man, half lion.” 

This three-piece hail from Londinium, and deliver an eclectic mix of  blues, soul and one hell of a whole lotta rock & roll.  Leogun are funky, rocking and grinding it down – old style rock and roll with stoner rock thrown in for good measure, their mob-heads head-banging to their rock funk sound. Definitely a band for the future – expect to see far more of them – and the audience really appreciate them tonight.

So as the lights go down and there’s very big cheer, the speakers pump out thunder and pianos, the audience clap clap clap – and the guitar cranks up….

Cherone version 2014 has the all hair back, and Bettencourt remains great eye candy for the ladies. First track is ‘Decadent Dance’ all funked up and chanty – though maybe hasn’t stood the test of time musically too well. Regardless the crowd love it – the light’s are on the crow, the band grinning like Cheshire cats.

And as they roll through the rock funk album, Extreme remain musically tight – vocals fully harmonized; rocking on down. Pornograffitti ‘live’ is far heavier than on vinyl, CD, digital (whatever the current options!) and Cherone know’s which city he’s in – ‘Birmingham’ as he encourages the audience.

Then the bass boots up, the guitar cranks in and we’re into the track with the ‘replacement’ word – we’ll be ‘Getting the Funk Out’ then. The crowd sing the chorus nice and loudly.…  “If you don’t like what you see here, get the funk out; we won’t try to force-feed you, get the funk out….” Accompanied by this chant, Bettencourt completes with a guitar epic and receives a big cheer.

Bettencourt’s the one doing the talking, he’s chatty and seated and his acoustic guitar has appear ed on stage. There just Bettencourt and Cherone, the later now with his hair tied back. And here we go…’More Than Words.’ The crowd sing – every word. Bettencourt stops playing and watches in wonder; Cherone conducts. As a recent artist I reviewed commented: every band, no matter how big has a magic moment. And this be Extreme’s. No lighters waving from side to side these days – just everyone feeling the need to film… “Beautiful’ acknowledges Bettencourt. And huge applause – this track maybe Extreme’s albatross, that single track that identifies them about above all the rest, but they are milking it for very moment – and the crowd love it.

There can be problems when bands perform albums in track order – because the set can dip – and the next few we’re back into their rock n roll funk – Cherone is enthusiastic, energetically pacing the stage, encouraging the audience – Bettencourt in full on axe merchant at times – is ludicrously talented. ‘It(’s a Monster)’ gets us bouncing along. “How are you feeling tonight ‘cos you sound incredible…”

Seated again – things calming down from the frenetic rock funk – Bettencourt does chopsticks on a piano – before he goes all classical and blues, Cherone joining in on vocals  – a total departure in genre – ‘When I First Kissed You.’

Bettencourt quips he can no longer do what he is about to do – yeah right – as he gives us a frenetic guitar rendition of ‘Flight of the Wounded Bumblebee’ as he becomes full on axe-merchant and the band continue with ‘He-Man Woman Hater.’

And then we get sing-a-long-Extreme-in-Brum – with full on harmonies “…all for one and one for all…”. Outside on Bon Jovi, Extreme have got to be one of the most sing-along bands.

Thank you for making us feel so much at home… sing along with this one please…”  ‘Hole Hearted’(ly) we do. This is exactly what Extreme do best.  And then we get a snippet of acoustic version of Queen’s ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’ – we’re still singing!

Extreme are a band clearly love playing live.They’re energetic and enthusiastic – each member showing of their individual musical prowess in bucket-loads. This album was released right in the middle of grunge – in some ways out of time for such a glam-pop-funk-rock themed album. And you have to say, while Extreme rock out as good as any band, it is their sing-a-long hits ‘Hole Hearted’ and ‘More Than Words’ that are the clear standouts by a country mile. Extreme are fun – and if you like your music on the lighter side – be warned at times they are heavy and loud. Did we get the funk out? We partied indeed – we didn’t get outta there. Worth seeing – if they’re your thang – more than words can say.

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Setlist:
Decadence Dance
Li’l Jack Horny
When I’m President
Get the Funk Out
More Than Words
Tie Your Mother Down (Queen cover)
Money (In God We Trust)
It (’s a Monster)
Pornograffitti
When I First Kissed You
Suzi (Wants Her All Day What?)
Flight of the Wounded Bumblebee / He-Man Woman Hater
Song for Love
Hole Hearted

Encore:
Play with Me
Rest in Peace
Am I Ever Gonna Change
Midnight Express
Cupid’s Dead

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Review for Gig Junkies; pictures Katja Orgin