Monthly Archive: October 2014

John Cooper Clarke + Mike Garry + Luke Wright @ Town Hall, Birmingham, 23 October 2014

Tonight we’re at the beautiful Town Hall in Birmingham, to see a full on punk-rock gig, with a twist. There is no music, no musicians, no instruments, it is the words that are the lyrics and the melody. Tonight we’re here for rock with words, the punk god-father of the satirical, the political and the scathing courtesy of Doctor John Cooper Clarke.
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Q Magazine’s Poet Laureate John Cooper Clarke remains as important these days,  as he was when he first burst onto the scene in a blaze of vitriol in the ‘70s. Thanks to his biting, satirical, and overtly political verse, delivered in a unique rapid-fire performance style, he became firmly entrenched in the punk movement and toured with the likes of The Sex Pistols and The Clash, while Joy Division and subsequently New Order supported him.

Now armed with an honorary Doctorate of Arts, he brings his treasury of punk poetry and two ‘up and coming’ poets – Luke Wright and Mike Garry – for the holiest of punk poet trinities.

Up first Luke Wright takes to the stage – giving us manic, quick fire poetry. He claims he’s  “a stay at home dandy” – he’s been out on his tour in the Autumn with ‘Fat Dandy.’ A poet and sometime broadcaster he writes a new shows each years and touts it round the country – not as some claim he says to “take poetry to the people” but because it pays his mortgage – and he loves it!  He tells us he met  Lenny Henry, asked him if he was stating in a Premiere Inn – response – “Of course not!” Henry didn’t get the irony and quick witted comedy of Wright in that one. He’s books and CDs – well worth checking out – find out more on his website.

Next up - Mike Garry – he’s from Manchester. His poetry is observational, ranting and a raving and social commentary. And he’s fast – the poetry is the rhythm of his music – the ability to recant the lyrics of his poetry at speed with no reference is pretty incredible and mesmerising to watch. He loves Birmingham. And gives us a poem about a s**t club – the Embassy – and the characters that are there, their lives are maybe what they may seem to be. He’s impressing himself here – and now for a sonnet –  another look at societies throw away attitude – ‘Pay As You Go.’ He’s here with books (a merchandising plug – he be there after his act)  and as one falls off stage he tells us not to knick it. He’s a good as stand up comedian as talented poet, next one to the local Manchester legend Tony Wilson – written after his death and performed with New Order. ‘Antony H Wilson’ another social look on life and Wilson’s impact – and the words take on the alphabet letter by letter – clever and emotive. Birmingham is beautiful, although he’s less complimentary about local councils, and at the end of his set he will jump off the stage – “un-risk-assessed”. “Have you been involved in an accident….” a satirical take on the adverts we see on TV, before a poetry eulogy to his mother who died. Funny but sad too – and we feel.

And now to THE main man. The Godfather of punk poetry – Doctor John Cooper Clarke. “Evening. ” He’s the chairman of the board, dressed in top to tail in black, blackened hair spiked, darkened glasses.

He got here late, he tells us, he’s gonna read ‘the Guest List’. “Would it kill ‘em to buy a ticket?” he quips and leaps into a fast paced rendition of everyone he knows, names rhyming. Apparently Birmingham is an ‘Atomic City.’

And tells of ‘generalisation’ ( we all do it),  which comes with two other important factors ‘Prejudice’ and ‘Judgement’ – a three pronged trilogy. And poetry to recant in full on observational vitriol as only Dr Clarke can do – “Get Back On The Drugs You Fat F**k” . He’s funny and whitty and fast paced and flies off at tangents – continually challenging, asking questions, pointing out the bleeding obvious. “Dr. Clarke how did you get here?” on birth and life and how he got here rather than the car he travelled in, before he leaps into ‘Hire Car.’

A punter’s question to “Is there a God?” doesn’t get the straight answer, but a tangent circle of responses. As he says “the public are in charge – the public is the governor” as he gives us the old and new in his poetry treasury – including his love story in reverse “T**t!” And his poetry can be two lines, limericks, sonnets, Hiaku or the long ones. He’s the “peoples balladeer; the high court judge” in newbie “The People’s Republic of Doktor Klarke.”

From is back catalogue ‘Beasley Street’ – a real life place and it’s social life, plus a an update to the way the place has changed ‘Beasley Boulevard’ – all ‘Urban Splash!’ Irony, and observation – on ‘golf audiences’ and age. “Age. The silent killer” – he’s been around our entire lives, before “Bed Blocker Blues.

He’s been experiments with Hiaku – poems of 17 syllables. he has a list and number 1 will be the final he reads to us. “Smarter than I have ever been, total idiots. I have met them all.” And his number 1. “To freeze the moment in seventeen syllables is very diffic…”

And he completes with his personal favourite – the classic ‘Chickentown’ – used in the penultimate episode of the Sopranos. When played on the BBC in ’78 the bleep operators got repetitive strain injury. Before thanks to the Arctic Monkeys, who closed their critically acclaimed album AM with a version of  ‘I Wanna Be Yours’ which we receive the Doctor Clarke version – in it’s full and scathing and dark glory.

This trilogy of social commentators were tonight, funny and witty, scathing with vitriol, yet caring and thought provoking.  The good Doctor was mesmerising in his words the hour and a half set whizzed by, with that inherent knack of making people laugh.  Doctor Clarke – part poet, part stand up. And still relevant.

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Pictures courtesy of Ken Harrison. Review for Gig Junkies and 102.5 The Bridge.

Holly Johnson @ The Library, The Institute, Birmingham, 19 October 2014

In 1984 a few people got very hot under the collar about a single. It got banned from airplay on Radio 1 at a time when most the world listened to the station. An outrage many people said. But the people behind this song grinned broadly and merrily wound them up even more. This single became the most controversial and most commercial single of the decade, selling over 2 million copies.There was even T-Shirts. We love a bit of anti-establishment at the best of times. So roll on 30 years to 2014, “Welcome” to a bit of “Frankie Says Relax” with former Frankie Goes to Hollywood frontman Holly Johnson.
Holly Johnson
Wow. It’s been 30 years since the release of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s debut album  ‘Welcome to the Pleasuredome.’ Over 30 years since that controversial single ‘Relax’. Frankie literally took over the airwaves for a brief moment in time.  ‘Pleasuredome’ had reported advanced album sales (in the days of the vinyl record) of over a million copies. Second album ‘Liverpool’ was a harder sell for a number of reasons, and Johnson walked releasing three solo albums  including his platinum selling number 1 debut solo album ‘Blast’ in 1989, ‘Dreams That Money Can’t Buy’ in 1991 and ‘Soulstream’ in 1999. And this year, 15 years on, he’s back with new album ‘Europa.’ Whilst he’s played the odd festival – this will be his first solo tour since 1987… so welcome to Holly Johnson: Unleashed from the Pleasuredome.

There’s no support tonight, although a DJ, Dave Kendrick, gives some tunes including remixes featuring Kraftwerk, Kate Bush and Heaven 17 and a snippet of Frankie. I have to say, we’re too busy chatting to take too much notice.

And just after 9, Johnson takes to the stage with full band in tow and starts off with ‘Atomic City’ and receives a big cheer from the audience – before here comes Frankie – ‘Warriors of the Wasteland’ and the rising epic ‘Welcome to the Pleasuredome.’ Johnson may have recorded these over 30 years ago but his voice remains spot on, the band tight, and we know all the words.

“I’m not allowed to talk… or we won’t get many songs done….” he says in his quiet Liverpudlian accent. Another Frankie -‘Rage Hard’ – the crowd are dancing and clapping and the cheers getting bigger. And now to a solo hit ‘Love Train’ before… “we’re gonna risk a new one on you now… Dare we?” and we’re into a segment of newbies and solo stuff.

‘Heavens Here’ – “a festival treat” and ‘Americanos’ gets us dancing and a cheer on the closing line… “In the land of the free, you can be who you want to be…”

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“Life isn’t always a bowl of cherries. There are moments when you’re feeling all alone….” “Aaaahhhhh goes the crowd in sympathy. “Not tonight!” shouts a punter. And he delivers us ‘Lonesome Town’ before “scaring us with another new one” – title track from his new album – ‘Europa.’

Another excuse to dance. “You are a bit like sardines aren’t you?” he comments on the cosy crowd, “Not much room…..you can always rub up to the person in front of you….” as we’re into ‘Dancing With No Fear.’  He was on ‘Later….with Jools Holland’ and played this one – a ballad and his favourite song on the album ‘So Much it Hurts.’

And then we’re back in time, to  Frankie song he hasn’t sung since ’87, ‘Watching the Wildlife.’ Before a song he calls “the money shot.” Asking is we are ready – hey we know what’s coming – ‘Relax’ – in all it’s beating glory. Johnson has a flashlight and shines it over the audience. We’re a-dancing and singing. Timewarp baby. Awesome rendition – massive cheer.

A quick break and he’s back – with a change of jacket. Apparently he stopped the cold war with this one (so a comedian told him). ‘Two Tribes’. Class. And then to the special one. And it’s not just for Christmas – “I’ll protect you from the hooded claw, keep the vampires from your door” – it’s the epic ‘Power of Love’ The hairs stand up on our arms and we’re singing away. It’s amazing how many of us knew all the words. Spine-chingling.

Holly Johnson is affable and funny. And he likes his songs epic. And no count, those Frankie hits were special. It was great to hear them in full totally overblown and truly glorious colour. Johnson is out for a few dates – go check him out – it’s well worth it. Hopefully, he’ll be out and about far more than he has been for the last few years.
Holly makes you smile. And you can’t ask for much more than that….. according to his website:  Holly Johnson Cosmos Mariner, destination unknown. The Odyssey Continues…

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Setlist:
Atomic City
Warriors of the Wasteland
Welcome to the Pleasuredome
Rage Hard
Love Train
Follow Your Heart
In and Out of Love
Heavens Here
Americanos
Lonesome Town
Europa
Disco Heaven
Dancing With No Fear
Penny Arcade
So Much it Hurts
Watching the Wildlife
Relax

Encore:
Two Tribes
Power of Love

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Pictures couresty of Ken Harrison – Review for Gig Junkies.

Lady Gaga @ NIA, Birmingham – 15 October 2014

So, a late opportunity to review a lesser known pop star in Birmingham. It’ll be a bit of a quiet night then. Or maybe not. This particular pop star has 67 MILLION likes on Facebook. And over 40 MILLION followers on Twitter. She’s sold over 27 MILLION albums and 125 MILLION singles. And this particular tour has already nearly sold 4 MILLION tickets. That’s a lot of MILLIONS. Popular girl then, Ms Germanotta – or as most of us know her – Lady Gaga.

Lady Gaga Image
Tonight we’re at the first night of her #artRAVE: ARTPOP Ball Tour – and as we make our way in to the National Indoor (soon to be Barclaycard) Arena, known locally as the NIA, we can look forward to queuing. It’s a tad chaotic – and punters are getting a tad wet – those who have made the effort to dress up are looking a tad soggy. Hopefully this will all be sorted for the official opening of the ‘new’ arena courtesy of Mr. Bublé.

As we take out seat the lights are down, the stage not only at the end of the arena, snakes into the centre of the crowd, is lit bright pink – and full on dance, trace, bass beats are pumping out of the speakers, getting the adoring fans in the mood.

Slightly later than anticipated the huge curtain is pulled back, the crowd scream, dancers, semi-clade in African inspired rainbow, rasta-mix bring balloons and glowsticks and throw them in the audience. And Gaga rises from the floor, dress in gold, blonde wig and furry angel wings. The scream from the crowd is huge. ARTPOP starts the show – “Birmingham” she shouts – scream go the crowd. And as she walks across the ramps to the centre of the arena – a thousand phones capture the moment.

Gaga’s set is full on energy, she’s dancing, she’s jumping, she’s singing with her crew of dancers. Yes there’s a lot of choreography,and she continually shouts at the audience to c’mon and jump… “turn the f****** music up – I want to see you on your feet!” The language is expletive ridden. ‘Donatella’ we’re in fashionesta baby – the dancers prowl – she wants us to dance, put our hands in the air, the higher the better so she can see everyone of the 13,500 fans that have turned out tonight.

Disappearing under the stage, she re-appears in full Beyoncé big hair wig and tiny spangly bikini. “Celebrate your talent and creativity… and crazy dreams can come true….” she encourages. ‘Venus’ gives us dancers and sining and lasers and inflatable plants. Yes plants – that’s what I think they are? She loves her fans so much she has another tattoo – of fans hands on her back – she shows us. As a mark of loyalty to her fans to allow her to achieve what she has done as a woman, in this age. She declares that over the past six years that we have given birth to the greatest fan base on the planet.  She preaches equality – that is her mantra – and the artistic freedoms of pop – “I will not be told how to dress, what songs to record…..if you make art tonight your are an artist.”

And this is between the full on dance and singing routines – the music at times is more than pop, it’s rock, it’s trance – whatever – the fans are partying. And a segment of dancing that includes hit ‘Poker Face’.

For ‘Paparazzi’ she reappears on stage in a Dalmatian spotted, curvy Tim Burton-esque swirl creation – and as she does on every costume change – the additions are taken away within a song to a bikini, leotard, minimal dress. There a Union Jack on stage and she picks it up and dances her way to the ice piano in the middle of the auditorium. This is just GaGa and piano. And this stripped back GaGa demonstrates what a talented Lady she indeed is – powerful vocals (which on single releases you don’t necessarily hear) on ‘Dope’ – a ballad about alcohol and drugs – she stops and talks. When she’s not drunk or a mess she’s soberish she quips. ‘Dope’ is an apology to everyone, but after she wrote it she found it was an apology to herself.

“You and I’ is about what we’ve given her over the last six years; the band is back out and in the middle of the hall. The track rocks out – it’s pretty heavy. She dancing and ends up collapsing on the stage – covered by the Union Jack.  After a couple of minutes, fans screaming with delight, she rises and walks to a piano picking up a letter. Reading the letter out aloud, it’s quite long, relates the life of a boy, isolated whilst young, brave enough to come out as gay and he’s here tonight, with his boyfriend. Gaga chokes as she reads it. He’d expected the letter to be read after the show, he’s a massive fan, she’s an inspiration. “Ha!Ha!” she laughs and invites Jason to come on stage with his boyfriend. “This kid has balls of steel.” As they sit beside her, she dedicates this song to him and his parents (who are also here tonight). A piano rendition and vocals alone of ‘Born This Way’ – impressive. Gaga is a well know gay activist – “If you are gay – hold your head up proud.”

And we’re back to the dance and the craziness.

Lady Gaga, yes put’s on a hell of a show. There’s dancing and partying and crazy clothes and just craziness – everything that you would anticipate from a Gaga gig. But may what sets her apart is the engagement with her fans. They are first, they are her priority. The set is designed so she’s in the middle of them, she’s continually crouching down to shake hands – she’s chatty and engaging, yeah kooky, but she has the ability to relate. And the audience tonight – a wide range of people, old and young, gay and straight, such a diversity. And the standard-out is Gaga stripped back – just her, singing and her piano. The OTT of everything else is just a front for her wacky creative mind.

ARTPOP is Music Fashion Dance Party. Indeed.  This Birmingham show was the first in her tour of the UK – if your missed the party, check it out on the next few dates – and she’ll be back at the NIA on 13 Nov 14…

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Setlist:
ARTPOP
G.U.Y.
Donatella
Venus
MANiCURE
Just Dance / Poker Face / Telephone
Paparazzi
Do What U want
Dope
You and I
Born This Way
The Edge of Glory
Judas / Aura
Sexxx Dreams
Mary Jane Holland
Alejando
Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)
Bad Romance
Applause
Swine

Encore:
Gypsy
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Review for Altsounds, Gig Junkies and 102.5 The Bridge.

An Audience with John Lydon @ Adrian Boult Hall, Birmingham Tuesday 14 October 2014

In the 70’s this chap and his fellow punks took on the music industry and gave it a swift kick in the b******s, whilst sticking their fingers up to the establishment. For a brief moment in time, him and his band scared the s**t out of everything the establishment held dear and shook up the world of ‘popular’ music forever. And once that trip was over, he set up a different band – creative, innovative, still doing their unique thing today. And that’s just his musical side. With a new autobiography out – ‘Anger is an Energy: My Life Uncensored’ – we’re here to see the irascible character that is John Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten.

John Lydon_Audience-7
The Sex Pistols shook up the world and then some. Probably the world’s most notorious band ever, Lydon as their lead singer, became vilified by the press and scared politicians so much, he was even discussed in the Houses of Parliament, under the Traitors and Treasons Act, which still carries the death penalty. PiL (Public Image Limited) - his musical true love have been his outlet – on a truly personal basis on so many levels  – a musical challenge  and journey. Over the years PiL have had over 49 members (“a college of Further Education” Lydon quips tonight, some going onto more success than others) and to see them live is a joy in the true passion and professionalism that they deliver.

Meanwhile he’s turned up on TV on adverts selling butter (for which monies earned brought PiL back to life after hiatus) and ITV’s “I’m A Celebrity – Get Me Out of Here” which he would have won by a country mile, if he hadn’t walked, full of integrity and for all the right reasons.

He’s just released a new book ‘Anger is an Energy: My Life Uncensored’ -his autobiography of a fascinating life. Tonight’s event is just one of three theatre dates – all total sold out. And he’ll be interviewed by friend and BBC Radio 6 Music presenter Matt Everitt. His book goes from his childhood to present day and tonight, there’s no reading, just Lydon’s thoughts and questions from the audience.  Why the book?

‘This book is about the life of a risk taker. I make things safe for other people to follow in my wake’ – John Lydon

So two seats, a table and bottles of water adorn the stage as Everitt appears to introduce the ‘icon’ (a word he knows Lydon will just hate). Lydon stomps onto the stage, adorned in crumpled designer suit and bags like he’s walk off the street – to rapturous applause.  He’s a “bit ill” (clearly flu-laden), the Boots bag contains medication and a box of tissues. Oh and a bottle of brandy.  After relating he’s ill, he says “Hello. I’m John. But at least I’m here…..” with that menacing grin of his. Everitt asks him if he likes Birmingham – “Are you trying to ruin this interview?” he quips – he likes us here in Brum – we ignore those major newspapers; a conversation about Brum soap “Crossroads’ and the “access” he’d like to get to Ms Diane… He’s written about his life before; this book is about his life and is part of an extremely long end (he’s 58 and intends to gone on ’til he’s at least 100). His life is “half-done” and unlike the Stones song – he has no intention on dying before he gets old – he wants to be extremely old!

John Lydon_Audience-9

Scandal has been looking for him all his life – it’s surrounded him – and clearly his book will be a fascinating read. Few will have challenged society so much that his home was regularly raided by the Police; he even knew the Police Officers by name – he’d see them in the pub and they’d say hi and reluctantly indicate they would raid his home later that week. He was notorious and continues to have that menace about him. But as we can relate,  Lydon is harmless, he’d never hurt anyone, as he attests his political hero is Ghandi.

He’s saddened by the death of Robin Williams – he could relate to Williams creative mind – that bounces all over the place all of the time. His does the same. All of the time. As a child he had meningitis which left his comatose for 4 months and left him with no memory, no movement, no voice. Parents he didn’t know or recognise. It took him 4 years to recover. Doctor’s told his parents not to mollycoddle him – to make him angry. And that anger still drives him today.  And as he discusses the pain of life and of the death that has impacted on him – he’s very honest. A tear. We feel for him. He doesn’t want sympathy, but we are empathetic – we feel his pain – his honesty and the man behind the notorious image. A chap in the audience related he told his mother, suffering with dementia, he had told her he was seeing John Rotten tonight. “Do you still like him?” came the response. Lydon sends his love and to his mom – and agrees to and handshake and a hug that makes this guy’s day – he’s been a fan for 30 years…

“Do you think brandy goes with Night Nurse?” (Or Day Nurse – he has both in his bag).

There are those that come in for his ire – those in ‘management’ at the time of the Sex Pistols – “ those clothes makers”; punk’s ‘new’ look Green Day get a sneer; Simon Cowell get’s a slating; former PiL members Kevin Levin and Jah Wobble also get the Lydon sneer; Town Council’s he derides – we should go and call them to account – spend less time watching TV – go and party in the council chambers – stop these ‘normal’ people dictating how we should live; UKIP and Farage – “barrage – they’re preying on the stupid”; The Clash – now don’t ask Lydon about The Clash. That’s not a good move.

A question on Jimmy Saville – a famous comment Lydon made in ’78 – “We all knew way back in ’78” and derision towards the BBC and other establishments that allowed this and other such similar atrocities to happen.

What’s next for PiL? Once this book tour is over, he’s off to the Cotswolds with his beloved band for a new album. There’s no demos in advance, the creative process is organic; inspiration of the moment. While the Sex Pistols changed the world – punk could be copied (and in droves, and badly he thinks). PiL is his baby, it is unique and never copied. And he loves that idea.

The potential theatre opportunity of being in ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ was a surprise to him. He loved the challenge and  the family aspect of the team of the cast, even though the promoter eventually pulled it. As if he was a vegetarian after being in the jungle – his comment was that he wasn’t “unless you mean vegetables like Jordan.”

A couple of people dare to walk out (not because they are leaving) and have to pass in front of the stage. “They’re not hiding their face from the 400 of you, they’re hiding from one of me,” he chortles. And after they take some time to return: “Are they doing drugs?”

Blowing his nose – the flu is not good even with the brandy and night nurse – and promptly lifts the tissue in the air and shout’s “Ebay!” – we laugh.

Lydon is brutally honest. He tells it like it is. He is incapable of lying. Honesty in full and glorious Technicolor. And we love him for it. He trusts everyone. Until they lie. He surrounds himself with only those who are truthful.  Nora, his wife, who he adores, get a mention. He says she’s as unique as him – and while they should grow apart over the years they just get closer.

And after an hour and 15 he suddenly stands – he needs a “s**t” – and it’s the end. And audience members rush to the stage to see if they can shake his hand and he’s rushed off stage.

Lydon is fascinating; a true character – at times deep and introspective – fully aware of his own failings yet brutally honest in his own explicative worded manner. And he says exactly what everyone thinks anyway. Get the book – it’ll be well worth the read. He’s loveable, yet remains menacing, but totally approachable. There’s no flies on Johnny. Just never piss him off.

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Pictures courtesy of Ken Harrison. Review for Gig Junkies and 102.5 The Bridge.

Level 42 + Will Stapleton @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – 7 October 2014

Okay so Birmingham City Centre is busy this evening. Kylie may be tripping the light fantastic at the NIA, but we’re off to the delectable Symphony Hall to see stalwarts of 80’s funk pop. With endless hits, word wide success and a recent EP full of newbies, we’ll be funking out with Level 42.

•Level 42-14
Taking their name from A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Level 42 formed way back in 1980 on the Isle of Wight. Lead singer and bass player, Mark King, became one of the stand-out musicians of the day, especially for popularising the 70’s ‘slap style’ of playing his instrument. King’s vocals along with keyboard player Mike Lindup’s falsetto vocals gave L42 hit after hit after hit. It was their fourth and more commercial album ‘Standing in the Light’ that gave the band the first UK Top 10 ‘The Sun Goes Down (Living It Up)’; 87’s ‘Running the Family’ album gave them worldwide success, making Top 10 in numerous countries. But by ’94 they decided to call it a day permanently. Or maybe not. King carried on solo, increasingly playing L42 hits live and in the early nougties came to an agreement to continue with the name Level 42, before Mike Lindup re- joined the band once again a few years later. In 2013 Level 42 released a six track live studio EP ‘Sirens’ and tonight is part of a series of dates promoting it.•Level 42-12
Support tonight comes from singer songwriter Will Stapleton, solo with guitar, inspired by Level 42. He’s played around London for the past few years; a soulful sound with poetic lyrics. He has a single out ‘I Understand’; he’s engaging and goes down well – check out his website for further info.
Bang on 8.45, L42 take to a darkened stage – King slapping his bass like crazy – the neck of which is glowing in the dark, emblazoned with lights. And as the lights come up, the band are dressed retro, retro – in spangly, sequinned black shirts. Full band on stage tonight, with a trio on brass and rhythm cranking up the sound.
First part of the set tonight is lesser known – one for the fans: ‘Love Games’, ‘Are You Hearing (What I Hear?)’ – as the songs funk out and roll into each other, as the band groove down in true L42 style.
“Hello! How are you? Fantastic!” say King, as he quips that sequins are coming of his spangly shirt. And they’re on on their musical journey again – track from ‘Sirens’ – ‘Mind on You’ before an old one, ‘Kansas City Milkman.’ The ‘Sirens’ EP is well played tonight – all tracks get featured over the set, keeping up with the L42 trademark sound. The crowd are taking it all in, mostly seated bar a few boogying on down on the balconies. A hit – ‘Leaving me Now from 85’, then to ‘Tracie’ from ’87.
“W.T.F?” King is still having issues with his sequins. And the audience get to their feet, dancing and clapping away to ‘Living It Up (Sun Goes Down)’. And take to their seats as we’re back with a track from ‘Sirens’. “Any stars kids out there?” and they deliver us ‘Starchild’, before UK #6 hit from ’85 ‘Something About You.’ and we’re into a hit medley and dancing one again, with ‘Lessons in Love’ – go back in time to 12” vinyl inch record, mega mega remixes, which go on and on…. and you’d be on the money. ‘Sirens’ track ‘Build Myself a Rocket’, prog-funk-rock rolls on as one band member after another leaves the stage.
Encore – features ‘Hot Water’ and ‘Chinese Way’ where all individual band members get the chance to fun out under an individual spotlight of music, and the encore rolls on and on.
Level 42 are going strong on their funk-pop vibe – tonight’s gig was one for the fans – the bands hits being the clear stand outs as the crowd danced the night away. Level 42 may have been going for 30 odd years – but they’re certainly to out of sight or out of mind.
Meanwhile (and as a footnote to this review) as tunes continue roll through our little brains – we succumb to the traffic nightmare of Birmingham City Centre. As much as we like Brindley Square, over an hour and a half stuck in the car park after the gig really wasn’t our cup of tea. Methinks someone should be in ‘Hot Water’ over it!
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Listening:
Running in the Family [1987]
Staring at the Sun [1988]
Guaranteed [1991]

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Photos Courtesy of Ken Harrison. Review for Gig Junkies and 102.5 The Bridge.

 

NEWS: Michael Bublé set to open the new Barclay Card Arena, Birmingham in December 2014

After 18 months of refurbishment the National Indoor Arena (NIA) in Birmingham will be relaunched as the Barclaycard Arena after a £26 million pound refurbishment.

NIA
The redevelopment at the arena will see an increase in capacity, comfier seats, a substantially improved concourse for food, drink and entertainment, improved food outlet providing a greater choice and far greater toilet facilities! The Barclaycard Arena will have spectacular glass frontage, with Sky Needles, the tallest standing 46m high, standing out in the skyline of the city centre.

Buble
Michael Bublé is set to open the new venue on the 2nd and 3rd of December, as the opening dates to his UK December tour. Tickets are on sale now – but are likely to sell out very quickly! Last year Bublé sold out his 10 day residency at 02 Arena in London, as well as concerts in Manchester Birmingham and Glasgow.
‘To Be Loved’ is Michael Bublé’s sixth studio album following his ‘Christmas’ album which sold seven million copies internationally and was the second biggest selling album of  2011. Now closing in on 700,000 sales in the UK alone where the album was his first to go straight to #1. The album also earned Michael his fourth Grammy Award when it won Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album.
For more information visit the NIA Barclaycard Arena website.  

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