Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band – Wembley Stadium June 15th 2013

16 06 2013

This was my first Springsteen gig since the Tunnel of Love Express tour show at Wembley Stadium in June 1988. The 2013 show started around 20 minutes later than advertised, with Land Of Hope And Dreams, from the 2012 Wrecking Ball album. A natural opener, with it’s anthemic chorus, the sound in the stadium was quite muddy for the first few numbers, but soon settled down.

Jackson Cage was sadly one of only two tracks from The River featured in the show, and was followed by Radio Nowhere from the recent Magic album.

From early on in the set, Bruce was constantly running to the front of the stage, and picking set-list request banners from the enthusiastic crowd, and showing the banners to band members so they knew what to play next. The E Street band members never get the chance to phone in their gigs!

Wembley Stadium June 15 2013

Save my Love, one of the key tracks from The Promise (the Darkness on the Edge of Town companion album) was up next, and a hint to what was to follow shortly in the mammoth set. Rosalita (Come Out Tonight) was played quite early on in the set, and is always a highlight of Bruce gigs. I am sure Rosalita is responsible for turning on a lot of UK fans to Springsteen’s music, via the clip shown on the Old Grey Whistle Test back in 1979.

Lost In The Flood echoed around the full to capacity stadium, a powerful song from Springsteen’s debut album, and the first time the song has been performed live in the UK since 1975.

The moving Wrecking Ball and Death To My Hometown from the latest album picked up the tempo, before Bruce dropped the biggest Boss-bomb of the evening. Asking the crowd if they wanted to stick with more requests, or let him play the whole of the Darkness on the Edge of Town album. This is my favourite Springsteen album, and luckily the crowd roared their approval at the second option.

The next 40 minutes or so was the highlight of the show for me, transporting me back in time to when I was a teenager listening to this classic album on cassette. Badlands got the entire stadium raising their hands in time to the music.

Something in the Night was stunning live, with the vocals as powerful as they were back in the days when FM was the preferred frequency of music lovers. The short, frantic Candy’s Room is one of my favourite songs of all time, and I was so glad I was here to finally here this song live and in the flesh.

Prove it all Night has stood the test of time, and sounds as fresh now as it did back in 1978. Featuring highly visual guitar theatrics from Nils Lofgren, the album playback (in order) ended with the title track from Darkness on the Edge of Town. This was apparently the first time that Springsteen has played a whole album in this way in the UK, and while it may have slowed down the set for the more casual fans, it was a treat for long-term Springsteen followers.

Brice, Steve and Roy Wembley Stadium June 15 2013

The whole stadium were back on their feet for the remainder of the gig. Wrecking Ball’Shackled And Drawn got the crowd dancing and signing along.  I’m sure the beer being thrown down people’s necks also helped. After commenting on the end of the world rain witnessed in London in the early afternoon, it was maybe tempting fate to play Waitin’ On A Sunny Day, but thankfully The Boss kept the rain away.

The title track from 2002’s The Rising is a powerful live song, and fitted well in the running order before set closer Light of Day (a song recorded by Joan Jett in 1987).

Bruce explained that “30 seconds from now, everybody in this place is gonna be dancing” and Pay Me My Money Down followed by Born to Run certainly got the remaining bums off the seats.

A rarely mentioned track from Born in the USA, Bobby Jean, sounded much better live than it’s recorded version (I hope remastered versions of Springsteen’s older albums, including Born in the USA, is on the menu at some point soon).

Dancing in the Dark signalled the now customary invitation to dance with The Boss. On this occasion, Bruce took an audience members Mum up on stage to dance with him (gratefully accepting a dollar bill stuck to the banner requesting the dance as payment) and a younger girl to bash away at a thankfully not plugged in guitar.

Born to Run‘s horn driven Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out, along with a Rocky referencing dance from Springsteen, included a poignant tribute to two departed E Street Band members,  saxophonist Clarence Clemons (the Big Man) and organ / accordion player Danny Federici.  The final song with the band was the cover of Twist And Shout that was famously cut short at Hyde Park. The E Street Band left the stage as Springsteen performed a curfew ignoring solo version of Thunder Road.

The 2013 Springsteen show was much more enjoyable than the two Wembley gigs I saw in the 80’s on the Born in the USA and Tunnel of Love tours. The show is so well paced, with something for diehard fans as well as the more casual audience. I know it’s a much repeated statement, but Bruce and the E Street Band have got to be the hardest working band in recent history, with setlists torn up mid-set and no two shows being the same.

If you get the chance to catch Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band on this tour, you really should take that chance while they are still performing. Nothing lasts forever.

Wrecking Ball 2013 tour poster

Setlist in full:

Land Of Hope And Dreams
Jackson Cage
Radio Nowhere
Save My Love
Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)
This Hard Land
Lost In The Flood
Wrecking Ball
Death To My Hometown
Hungry Heart
Badlands
Adam Raised A Cain
Something In The Night
Candy’s Room
Racing In The Street
The Promised Land
Factory
Streets Of Fire
Prove It All Night
Darkness On The Edge Of Town
Shackled And Drawn
Waitin’ On A Sunny Day
The Rising
Light Of Day

Encore:

Pay Me My Money Down
Born To Run
Bobby Jean
Dancing In The Dark
Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
Twist And Shout
Thunder Road (solo acoustic)

Buy the Wrecking ball deluxe edition on Amazon UK

Buy the excellent The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town Documentary [DVD]

Buy The Promise – The Darkness On The Edge Of Town Story (3 Cd+3 Dvd boxset)

Buy London Calling: Live in Hyde Park [Blu-ray]

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no-man live at the Assembly, Leamington Spa

5 11 2011

no-man played live for the first time since 2008 as part of the online record label Burning Shed’s 10th anniversary event on 14th October 2011. This was the same line-up of musicians that the band used for the three European mixtaped shows, the only change was the use of acoustic, instead of electronic, drums.

Whilst the show was noticeably shorter than the Bush Hall show I attended in 2008 (the 2011 gig weighing in at around 45 minutes), it was a much more cohesive, powerful and assured performance.

no-man have been my favourite band since stumbling upon their Loveblows & Lovecries – A Confession album in 1993 (not having heard a note of the band’s music but being hypnotised by the sleeve-notes and album art-work).  With each album, I’ve grown to love the band’s music more – which is unusual, as a lot of band’s peak with early releases and go downhill, desperately trying to recapture past glories. Not so for no-man, whose recordings have shifted away from it’s electronic roots and constantly evolved over the years, though the live appearances slowed to a trickle. Whilst I caught an early Porcupine Tree show (in a tiny local pub in Kent, with about 30 people in the audience), I did not get to see no-man live until Tim & Steven performed at another Burning Shed event, this time in Norwich in 2006, then finally seeing a full no-man show when the band performed at Bush Hall in 2008.

The 2008 Bush Hall show was certainly a memorable and emotional evening, captured perfectly by Richard Smith’s excellent mixtaped dvd.  But for me, the real no-man experience was this magical 45 minutes at Leamington Spa.  I’ve seen hundreds of different live shows across many genres, committing many individual live performances to memory, and of all these performances I have seen since my first live show back in 1979 (Thin Lizzy at Hammersmith Odeon, in case you are wondering),  I have compiled a list of  my favourite gigs (Thin Lizzy never made it into the top 10, though it was a great first gig). Vivid memories of performances by the likes of The Stranglers at The Rainbow, The Police at Lewisham Odeon, Kate Bush at the London Palladium, The Who at Wembley Stadium, Prince & the Revolution on the Parade tour, Nine Inch Nails a couple of years ago and more, have now been joined by this no-man show.

The performance was more confident than the last no-man gig, and was helped by the addition of acoustic drums, which gave the band so much more power and percussive depth. Opening with a track the band had not performed live before, the sweet pop of wild opera‘s my revenge on seattle, with it’s slow build-up, was a wise choice of opener. By the time the bass drum kicked in during the latter stages of the song, you could feel the excitement in the audience.

The bass heavy, lyrically disturbing time travel in texas ratcheted up the noise, and was a perfect example of where this line-up of no-man could go if transferred to a studio environment (which I hope happens one day).  The 2011 version was so much more powerful, and added a real sense of menace to the song.

all the blue changes was the personal highlight of the gig for me.  together we’re stranger is the album that took a long while to finally hit home, at one point it was my least favourite no-man release but it’s now one of my most cherished albums, what the hell do I know? This edgy live version displayed some wonderful interplay between the musicians and transported the band to a different level on the night. A real shiver down the spine moment.

pretty genius (the third wild opera song of the evening, and no-man’s least popular album according to Tim) felt more like the album version, mainly due to the more powerful drum sound, and then there was lighthouse. A key track on the returning jesus album (and the band’s most “progressive” song) lighthouse retains its power and beauty in a live format, and the instrumental coda after the organ break always sends me somewhere. If they had played just this one track, I would have still left the venue a happy and content man.

The surprise of the evening was the performance of beaten by love, an (unreleased by no-man) song from 1987.  A very dark song, that would not have sounded out-of-place on wild opera or a recent NiN album even, which sort of threw a curveball into the set. Though it went down well with the crowd, the inclusion of an unfamiliar song maybe interrupted the flow a little, but no-man like to challenge and stimulate their audience, so I’m not complaining.

wherever there is light received the warmest response of the evening, and was closer to the schoolyard ghosts studio version than the 2008 live incarnation.  Sad songs are definitely the most uplifting.

The set ended with another track from the last no-man album, the slow-burning mixtaped, a song so much more powerful live than in its recorded form.

The audience summoned the band back for an encore, flowermouth‘s things change, the perfect no-man show-stopper. Tim jumped down from the stage when his vocal duties were over, watching the end of the song, including the wonderful violin solo from Steve Bingham, with the rest of the audience.

And that was it. Hopefully it won’t take another three years to get no-man back together again, and when it does happen, it’s clear the current no-man live band deserves to remain unchanged, as this line-up has got a unique chemistry and a real empathy for the material.

“You’d kill for that feeling again…”

my revenge on seattle
time travel in texas
all the blue changes
pretty genius
lighthouse
beaten by love
wherever there is light
mixtaped
encore: things change

Somewhere in the Midlands, no-man happened to be: Tim Bowness (vocals), Steven Wilson (guitar), Michael Bearpark (guitar), Pete Morgan (bass), Andy Booker (drums), Stephen Bennett (keyboards) &  Steve Bingham (violin).

***Update December 20th 2011: the concert is being released on CD as Love and Endings by Burning Shed in February 2012 – listen to lighthouse (live) from Love and Endings below***

Listen to lighthouse (live) on iPhone or iPad

no-man store on the Burning Shed
mixtaped / returning DVD at the Burning Shed

no-man website

no-man Twitter

no-man on Facebook

listen to no-man on Soundcloud

all photos on this page by Charlotte Kinson

Blog post from no-man live band member Steve Bingham





Tim Bowness – live at the Estonian Embassy, London 19th April 2010

27 04 2010

Tim Bowness and his band – Michael Bearpark (Guitars), Steve Bingham (Violin / Loops) and Peter Chilvers (Piano / Textures) played a private show at the Estonian Embassy in London at the request of the Ambassador, Dr Margus Laidre.

The 45 minute set opened with the no-man song, Only Rain, which was a similar arrangement to the version played live by no-man in 2008, with Steve Bingham adding layer upon layer of looped violin.

Only Rain sequed into the first of two new songs (or new / old songs, more later), in All These Escapes.

The first of two Bowness / Chilvers California Norfolk songs came next, in the glacial Winter With You. Possibly my favourite California Norfolk song (with Post-Its a close contender), Winter With You has always been a piece of sparse beauty, and it worked well in this beat-free set.


no-mans Wherever There Is Light (from the 2008 album Schoolyard Ghosts) lost none of its emotion in this stripped back arrangement, and was one of the songs that suited the other-worldy feel of the wood-panelled room where the concert was taking place.

“Walk in and out of rooms, fall in and out of love” 

California Norfolk’s Days Turn Into Years was a real surprise, as it was presented as an epic 10 minute re-reading, and was subsequently very different from the album version. The song was driven by plucked violin strings, and deviated from its original arrangement about three-quarters of the way through the performance, building towards a gradual, powerful crescendo.

I always associate Days Turn Into Years with the lonely squalor of a bedsit existence, so it was a little strange hearing this particular song in the safety and comfort of the Embassy.

The third and final no-man song, Flowermouth‘s Watching Over Me, has almost become a signature tune at recent no-man / Bowness concerts, and the song has not aged at all, and I’ve yet to hear a bad performance of this song.

Unprotected was the only song from the My Hotel Year era, and was a b-side (does that term still exist?) from the Sleepwalker single. It worked well, even when shorn of all the electronica of the studio version.

The set ended with the debut live performance of Towards The Shore. This song, along with All These Escapes, was a song from Tim’s pre no-man band, Plenty. Towards The Shore, though written in the mid-80’s, is thankfully free from the midi-madness of that decade, and sounds as organic and as emotive as much recent Bowness related material.

“You swim towards the shore,
just as she drowns again.” 

Towards The Shore was another song that is likely to be a staple of the set-list for a long-time to come, and featured plenty (excuse the pun) of improvisation from the band, and layers of Bowness vocal loops towards the climax of the song.

2010 is shaping up to be a promising year for Tim Bowness fans, with the Plenty sessions, the ever evolving Memories of Machines project with Nosound’s Giancarlo Erra, and the first tentative steps towards a new no-man studio album.

Only Rain
All These Escapes
Winter With You
Wherever There Is Light
Days Turn Into Years
Watching Over Me
Unprotected
Towards The Shore 

Many thanks to the Ambassador, Dr Margus Laidre, for hosting the event at the Embassy.

Lyrics quoted © Tim Bowness
Tim Bowness website
no-man website
Burning Shed Tim Bowness store
All pictures on this page by Charlotte Kinson





Patrick Wolf Live

24 11 2009

Sunday Night at the London Palladium

Sunday November 15, 2009

My first gig at this famous London Theatre since Kate Bush in 1979. Though I might have seen a family musical about a big flying car at this venue a few years back. Moving swiftly on.

In fact, parallels could be drawn between both these shows and Patrick Wolf’s performance. Fair enough, there were no child-catchers or flying cars in the Wolf show, but the performance really had a feel of musical theatre, with plenty of costume changes, glitter and atmospheric lighting.

I think Kate Bush is certainly an influence on Patrick’s music, particularly in some of the arrangements. Kate made good use of the large stage back in 1979, and so did Patrick in 2009. The first three-quarters of the show was remarkably restrained and intimate, with Patrick’s vocals really given the chance to breathe.

Highlights of the first half of the set included two of my favourite Wolf songs, Wind In The Wires & the haunting Bluebells.

“Deep in this dream
I let the calmness keep spinning”

Thickets from 2009’s The Bachelor made full use of the accompanying musicians, expanded on the night to to include a choir and string section.

“Just a little further up the hill boy
you’ll be home soon enough”

And then came the promised guest appearance. Marc Almond was unable to perform due to illness, and Patrick kind of gave the identity of the guest away on his Myspace blog “I’m sure my amazing duettist will raise it up! If you know what I mean.” So it was no surprise to see Florence Welch (without her Machine) duetting with Patrick on The Bachelor.

Patrick Wolf & Florence Welch at the London Palladium - by Ravenblakh
Patrick Wolf & Florence Welch

German techno uber-lord Alec Empire brought his box of many synths and trailing wires onto the stage for Battle & Hard Times. The latter song saw the whole crowd rise to their feet, where they remained for the majority of the evening.

The lush, string-driven forthcoming single Damaris was surely made to be performed in an ornate venue such as the London Palladium. The delicate The Sun Is Often Out was dedicated to two departed friends, and the show ended on a real high-note, with the decadent electro-pulse of Vulture, featuring Wolf spinning under a glitter-ball, adorned in sequins and looking like he had stepped straight out of Velvet Goldmine.

A clearly emotional Wolf kept referring to this show as being the best he had ever performed, and how he found it hard to believe that he was headlining the venue after being turned away from the Palladium 10 years ago, where as a teenager, he had had hoped to review a Bjork show.

Patrick Wolf performs "Vulture" at the London Palladium - by Ravenblakh
Patrick Wolf performs “Vulture”

The was a real air of celebration at this gig, and a feeling that Patrick Wolf is shifting up a gear. If finances permit, I’m sure Patrick will want to use strings again in a live setting, as it brought a real depth to the live show. Heres to 2010, a new album and more shows of this quality.

“The Boy is doing fine”

Set-list

Divine Intervention / Overture / Wolfsong / Wind In the Wires
Oblivion / Paris / Thesus / Who Will / The Shadowsea / Bluebells
Pigeon Song / Thickets / The Bachelor / Epilogue / Count Of Casualty
Battle / Hard Times / Libertine / Damaris / Tristan / Eulogy
Magic Position / The Sun Is Often Out / Vulture

All pictures on this page © Ravenblakh

To see the full set of Ravenblakh’s pictures of
Patrick Wolf at  London Palladium please visit Flickr

Patrick Wolf CD’s on Amazon UK
The Bachelor
The Magic Position
Wind in the Wires
Lycanthropy








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