Not too much of the out-and-about this month but plenty of gigs and stuff, which means I can purloin all those lovely reviews from the local papers and make them my own!
First up was Alison Moyet at the Symphony Hall – this girl looks and sounds great. She has lost weight but her powerful, distinctive voice would tip any scales ten times over.
Here’s the abridged review by Zyllah Moranne-Brown from the Gig Junkies website:
Tonight at the Symphony Hall we find a vocalist right at the top of her game, making exactly the adventurous electronic pop music she wants to at this moment in time, with her voice and songwriting intense, poetic and thought provoking.
Support from tonight comes from Hannah Peel, an adventurous composer, musician and vocalist, with ethereal singing. One of her unique musical takes is singing along to a hurdy-gurdy music box, the paper strip to operate the instrument all cut by hand. She’s atmospheric and moody, experimental and surreal.
Alison Moyet was one half of the legendary Yazoo, the duo forming after Vince Clarke walked from a little known band called Depeche Mode after just one album. Electronica is where it all began – and in 2017, she is embracing it in all its glory.
The set is dark, and dry ice rising, and onto a spoken word interlude, silhouetted Moyet and her electronic wizards start off ‘I Germinate’; powerful and haunting. Moyet is chatty and engaging, although she tells us that her “mouth’s not working…” That is definitely not the case as she sings, ‘Wishing You Were Here’ shows her true vocal power and mesmerizing vocals, in a venue that seems like it is especially built for this moment.
‘Only You,’ ‘All Cried Out,’ ‘Whispering Your Name,’ ‘Love Resurrection,’ and ‘Don’t Go,’ are stunning, and received to massive applause.
Alison Moyet was just truly stunning. The Symphony Hall is a great venue in which to celebrate her amazing vocals, humility and humanity.
A couple of days later, the Symphony Hall was again the venue of choice – an evening of Spectacular Classics, culminating in an explosive 1812 Overture (complete with cannon effects and indoor firework finale – as promised on the flyer).
We’ve been coming to this Classic Spectacular for many years now – although there’s very few surprises, its always a familiar and fantastic night out.
For the record, here’s the general run of things: Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus, a bit of Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty, followed by a lofty Vaughan William’s The Lark Ascending with some soaring violin-shredding by Alexander Sitkovetsky. Next up was Verdi’s Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves, a selection of Bizet, Puccini, an extra slice of Verdi and a little Pomp and Circumstance. Sibelius popped up, as did Vivaldi, and Delibes before Elgar and Handel chimed back in. Then it was all flag-waving Rule Britannia with Soprano Ilona Domnich and Tenor David Butt Philip. Butt Philip then went for broke on an impressive welkin-busting Nessun Dorma before the finale – with a bit of Can-Can to follow.
There was an equally spectacular classic to get my teeth into this month: Thor – Ragnarok. Such a high-brow offering doesn’t need a review – just go watch it!
It was good to get out into the fresh Autumnal air whenever there wasn’t a gig a-going on, and this month’s walk took us to Abberley in Worcestershire.
This walk stepped through some interesting vantage points. In 1405, it was on Abberley Hill where King Henry IV glowered across the short divide at Owen Glendower’s Welsh army, who were mingling out on Woodbury Hill.
With the help of France (they just have to stick their noses in, don’t they?) Glendower invaded England and faced the King’s men on these opposing hills. The armies never engaged in battle but with their supply routes blocked, the Welsh began to starve. Eventually, Henry stood down and withdrew to Worcester, and the Welsh headed back home for a leek and ale pie.
Woodbury Hill just can’t get enough historical action. During the reign of King Richard III, the Duke of Buckingham also occupied Woodbury Hill. This particular duke couldn’t decide which team to support during the War of the Roses, and was also a prime suspect in the disappearance of the Princes in the Tower.
Here’s Paul H with the write-up:
OS map Explorer 204 – 1 mile east of Shelsley Beauchamp. GR 746637.
Head north over Woodbury Hill to Great Witley and on to Abberley Hill. Then head northwest along the top, and down to Abberley. Fetch up at the Manor Arms for lunch (beef or pork sarnies).
Back along the Worcestershire Way via Walsgrove Hill to return. There is a fair bit of climbing on this walk (tell me about it!). Some of it is quite steep and slippery. Although there is some climbing involved, it is rewarded by some wonderful views in all directions. Sticks are recommended!
A third visit to the Symphony Hall in as many weeks!
This time to see Black Country Blues guitarist Joanne Shaw Taylor tearing up the place with her screaming guitars and smoky vocals (that’s right: ‘smoky’ – I’ve been reading the promotional material…). South African musician Dan Patlansky was the support with a more than impressive set, which JST did well to top.
Time for a little cartoon from the Crow Collection – another one that never made the cut but is a bit silly…
Really? Another concert? Well, not any old concert but a Queen concert!!!
Yes, the Mighty Ones were on song, with Adam Lambert, and what a mighty concert it was at the Arena Birmingham .
Here’s the Birmingham Mail review, effortlessly doing the leg-work for me:
Veteran Queen stars Brian May and Roger Taylor roll back the years with boy wonder frontman Adam Lambert.
Let’s cut to the quick – this show was dynamite with laser beam after laser beam. And in all the colours of the rainbow, too.
It’s 26 years this week since the once athletic, outrageous and irrepressibly flamboyant showman Freddie Mercury died at the age of just 45. In the mid 1980s’ era of Live Aid, certainly, we all thought the human “rocket ship on his way to Mars” would live forever – until HIV / AIDS claimed his soul in 1991.
Shy off stage, but one of the all-time great rock stars on it, Mercury’s spirit will endure for all time judging by this fantastic concert which ended with current frontman Adam Lambert wearing a crown during his spellbinding rendition of We Are The Champions.
This gig was like watching a rocket blasting off ready for a spectacular tour of Queen’s “supersonic” rock and pop universe.
Its payload included one of the best nights of special effects you could ever wish to see.
Never once, though, did the show look set to burn up on re-entry because, while the stage hydraulics, the lighting and big screen visuals were all world class, the crystal-clear sound was always even better.
May proved he can still run to the front of a projecting stage while not missing a beat. Then, as the two-hour mark approached, the astrophysicist’s big electric solo was even played out against an interplanetary backdrop.
It was that kind of night when you just had to be there, to appreciate the best of British being complemented by the outstanding Adam Lambert.
Once a runner-up on American idol and now 35, the Indiana-born star led the line with fine humour, a rare vocal prowess and a beautifully camp awareness of – and utter confidence in – Mercury’s place within the band’s heritage.
From his opening appearance wearing a virtual reality-style visor, Lambert dresses the showbiz part with multiple, lightning-fast outfit changes, but he doesn’t imitate. The effect is to offer a fresh perspective on Queen without tarnishing the legacy.
As Brian May himself joked while admitting he’d lost count of the number of times he’d enjoyed playing to such a warm, Brummie audience: “Who’d have thought I’d be back here at the age of 89?”
Surely that’s enough gigs for now…?