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I have been to many, many gigs in my time ranging from Queen to Alvin Stardust and Bowie to Glen Campbell, I even saw the Carpenters, so it was quite a struggle to keep this opinion short enough to actually submit. I have chosen these particular ones for all sorts of reasons and I have tried to explain those reasons to you. I hope you enjoy reading about them – I’ll try not to go on TOO much!
My next problem was how to present the list and after deliberation I decided to go for chronological order, as my feelings and reactions changed as I got older. I must just say that my memory for dates isn’t brilliant so please forgive me if I’m a year out on any of them.
Roxy Music – Birmingham Odeon – 1974 This was in the days before the NEC was built and the Odeon in Birmingham was THE primary music venue for the city. Bryan Ferry in black trousers, white shirt and gaucho hat, music as good as the recordings and the place was rocking. We were on row D in the front stalls and still had to stand on the seats to see. That’s what you did at gigs in those days. I went to a lot of concerts in the 70’s, but this one stands out both because the band is one of my favourites and because the atmosphere was electric. I saw Roxy Music again at the NEC a couple of months ago and they were still brilliant!
Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel – Birmingham Odeon – 1975 We were on the front row for this one, in front of banks of speakers the size of wardrobe doors and the seats vibrated with the sound when they played the guitars! Steve Harley was very wary of the audience at first. He’d apparently had a bad time there the previous night, but we were all there to have some fun and enjoy the music. It was fascinating to watch him relax and feed off the audience’s enthusiasm. As he felt better, he performed better and we reacted even more. By the end of the gig the whole place was electric!
10CC – Cardiff Castle – 1975 Now we’re really talking. 10CC were my favourite band of the seventies, when all four of them were still together and I saw them live many times. We went to Cardiff to see them at an open-air gig with Thin Lizzy and Steeleye Span and it rained and rained. 10CC were top of the bill and, before they came on, we were warned ad nauseum about keeping away from anything electric for safety’s sake. When they finally came on stage, they played the opening note on the guitars and flares went off all along the front of the stage. We thought the whole thing had blown up! That was 10CC for you, a great band with a great sense of humour. We were up to our ankles in mud singing Rubber Bullets at the tops of our voices and it was great. As the Melody Maker put it at the end of their review at the time ‘and the rain? What rain?’
David Bowie – Empire Pool Wembley – 1976 This was the Thin White Duke tour promoting the Station to Station album and the only time I have seen Bowie live. The stage was set in the middle of the auditorium and Bowie was dressed all in white. He had the audience in the palm of his hand right from the start. This man is one of the all time greats without a doubt. He sang tracks from the new album together with a lot of his major hits. It was well worth the journey down to London even if we did almost miss the last train back!
Queen – NEC – 1980 This was the second time I had seen Queen and I am so glad now that I got to see them on stage. Freddie Mercury was the ultimate showman, with unbounded energy. He had the whole audience singing Love of my Life acapello and it sounded wonderful. We sang, we danced, we rocked – an amazing gig. I must just say that the tribute band, Killer Queen, do a damn good tribute gig, not as good as the real thing, but as close as you’ll get now that we have lost Freddie.
Moody Blues – Sheffield City Hall – 1997 A friend of mine has always been a Moodies fan and he took me to see them at Sheffield. I had recently been through a bad patch emotionally and this gig was a turning point for me. The Moodies took the stage and began with the ‘dream’ speech from the album On the Threshold of a Dream. ‘….As new life will come from death, love will come at leisure. ….. In return a wondrous yearn of a promise, almost seen…..’ If you’ve never heard this, borrow the album and listen to the whole thing and you’ll know what I mean. This was the first time that I had heard it and it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. The gig was superb. The audience is obviously the most important thing to this band – they even allow cameras and positively encourage photography. The music is spot on and I have been an avid fan ever since that night.
Alison Kraus – Wolverhampton Civic – 1997 This is someone you may not have heard of. The same friend who took me to see the Moodies introduced me to her music and I love it. Remember the recent number one – When I say nothing at all? That was written and originally recorded by Alison Kraus. This gig was the sort of gig where you sit down and listen. Her band of about 5 musicians, playing mainly stringed instruments supported her. During the gig there was an electrical problem on stage and they had to do more than half the gig as an acoustic set. They played out of their skins to compensate with the result that this was a brilliant gig.
Cliff Richard – NIA – 1999 I have been a fan of Cliff ever since he started his musical career (yes, I’m that old!) and have seen many of his concerts but this one was a classic. He sang hits from all 5 decades of his career. His old friend Hank Marvin, amongst others, accompanied him. He was, as he always is on stage, perfect! Who else could get a sell out audience at the NIA all singing The Lord’s Prayer at the tops of their voices?
Moody Blues – Royal Albert Hall – 2000 We had seats on the arena floor and a fantastic view. A full orchestra accompanied them, and the majesty of the setting and the music of the overture had me in tears before the Moodies had even taken the stage! The tour was to promote the Strange Times album and they played a lot of tracks from it, together with most of my favourites of their songs. I felt as high as a kite when I came out!
Maddy Prior and The Carnival Band – Nottingham – 2000 This gig was in December last year and was made up of Christmas music. Maddy Prior’s beautiful voice coupled with the musical skill and humour of the band made this a lovely start to Christmas. I have done an opinion on this band. If you ever get the chance to see them, do so, they are amazing.
Well I’d better stop there before I go on too much! Maybe you agree with some of them, maybe not, but I hope you enjoy reading about them as much as I have enjoyed writing about them (and reliving them!)