Dave Stewart - Jeff Jinx - Beverley Knight
10 October 2019
Beverley Knight has those skills beyond compare. She steps on stage, delivers the very best of her voice AND makes you feel a part of HER family. It's not just the fact that her vocal prowess is incredible. When she sings she means EVERY word and in that process illuminates the emotional complexities of every song; just for you. Few people can do this. Less still can do that night after night, full-on, for the entirety of a set, with no lengthy instrumental solos to take a pause. And did I mention; she makes it seem so effortless?
But here we have the Stevie Wonder songbook! It's vast. It's formidable. In ALL it's expansive octaves and idiosyncratic twists and turns. Who, beyond the man himself, would dare tackle it? Who could make ALL of those songs LAND? Well, Beverley Knight did. She OWNED it. The fit was perfect. With short (and witty) verbal introductions, Beverley set up the period of Stevie's life for each song; who he was, where he was emotionally and the stance he took in difficult times. Then she unfolded the goods and made them sound brand new. From start to finish the hits rolled out like the blows of a prize fighter. Pristine, high-energy, knock-out blasting. In the words of the good lady herself: "Bangers!"
The quieter songs were pitched perfectly too. Amongst them rarer tracks that Beverley had treasured throughout her life. For her, 25 years in professional music, celebrated in applicatory style. I particularly loved her rendition of 'Ribbon In The Sky,' which might have been written especially for her, such was the intimacy of its phrasing. At this point, I should mention the Leo Green Orchestra. Chiming guitars, vibrant strings, pounding keyboards and percussion, and a jazz-inflected trumpet/sax section - to die for. The backing vocalists, especially in the call-and-response sections, were impeccable. The whole concept was FIRST CLASS.
There was even room for a guest slot. Dave Stewart appeared mid-set, deftly soloing and building the intensity of the night - consummated with a 'gasp moment' when he feigned casting his Telecaster into the audience. But it didn't end there. Beverley returned at the end of the night to remind us of her own catalogue of hits. With energy, undimmed, she 'worked the stage' and had everyone on board - standing, dancing, thrilling. Does she have a set of identical twin sisters behind stage? Does she have clones; warming-up in the wings? I've never seen someone give so much and end a set with vocals just as 'balls-out' as they began. The greatest soul singer of her generation? Absolutely. Thank you Beverley!
The Night Squad's Here
The Night Squad's here, rapping knuckles and taking names. With such brutally, pared-down arrangements; there's no place to hide. But real music needs no props or distractions. In a world of cash-ins, sell-outs and sugar-coated, pocket-money exploitation; this is the real deal. It stands on its own and shakes a defiant clenched fist. These songs are 'not about nothing'. There are no bogus-smiles, no easy lines. They're intended for 'grown-ups' - they require us to think. Martin Craig's lyrical images abound, forming from the velvet-flocked ether. Pithy, sober observations. Razor-shaved and rat-bitten, Polaroids. Chewed ragged by his gritty guitars and all-knowing, gravel and gravitas vocals.
OBSESSION kicks off the album, immediately planting the first seed of paranoia that threads through the narrative to come. Modern living - modern acceptance of constant observation - building to a beautiful, echoed harmonic ending. There are diversions ahead, older tracks, freshly-minted in stark 'live set' unadornment. Martin dutifully cataloges his days in the north east music scene; time-served. Time well-served. 'Shady characters' hover on the periphery. Some are just the sobriquets of fellow musicians, wild young Sabrejets, name-checked and acknowledged. And others are politicians and criminals of a lesser order - still stealing the world around us with their TOUGH DECISIONS.
GREASE ON MY PILLOW is a snap-shot of betrayed love, the other side of success, 'the Rocker's lament.' The track ends perfectly with an air of frustration, left hanging - no questions answered. Tension, unbroken. CUBA reveals extra funds in Martin's storehouse with a sometimes whispered, heart-felt vocal, perhaps suggesting more than the lyric consents? There's a dry, restrained humour present in AT THE QUAYSIDE, PT II - one that Peter Cook and Dudley Moore would surely appreciate. However, that humour has a fatal sting in its tail by the time we reach MY HOODED TOP.
Mood-wise, TAXI FOR THE WAITRESSES paints a cold night's chill with its transporting lyric and chiming guitar. And RESERVOIR ROAD vividly exposes a dark side of the north east rarely seen or acknowledged by any social commentator, inside or beyond its environs. An authenticity informed by 14 tenacious years of Craig’s community work. The Album ends with another atmospheric mood-piece: The KINDNESS OF STRANGERS. Collected together, a raw tapestry of bittersweet times, all gussied-up in leather jackets and oil-stained jeans. Antidotes to the modern superficial. When this album ends, you will find the silence; deafening.
Customs House - South Shields 2016
A highlight of 2016 was seeing Lindsay Kemp at the Customs House in South Shields - talking about his childhood there. His art, his dancing, his time with Bowie and Kate Bush - the snobbery of the dancing elite - who still fail to give credit to his endeavors. And - even at HIS age, "Still waiting to be discovered."
REALLY pleased that Genya (Goldie) Ravan is going to be playing my music on her show "Goldie's Garage" set up by Steven Van Zandt to promote new rock. For the youngsters - Genya Ravan: producer, rock singer of "Goldie & the Gingerbreads". (The first all-girl rock band in history signed to a major label + had big success, ya know - toured with the Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds, the Kinks, Manfred Mann etc. Produced the "Dead Boys" and Ronnie Spector's comeback album Siren.)
The paradigm changed so long ago for the music industry, that few people understand…Read more
that everyone used to be ‘alternative’. A casual glance through the charts of the
1970’s alone, reveals scores of artists pursuing completely different visions of music – all their own – and all valid. Audiences would ‘find’ the style/s of music they liked and follow those artists. Those choices took time; this was an era before the
fast-food, immediate-gratification culture – and once decided there was an element of
Nice to be play-listed amongst the likes of ‘Blondie’ and ‘Carole King’ on ‘The Songwriters Webcast’ kicking out across the Universe from Texas USA. Thank you David Mobley!
A BIG thank you to the crew at ARZUK TV California USA for the extreme number of plays for ‘Curious and Crazed.' At least twice a day? Gonzalo – you’re spoiling me.
NEWUSB TV is on the rise. If you’re in a band – if you’re a solo musician songwriter – if you have videos – follow the link. The guys behind NEWUSB are all about the music – they will promote your music. SUPPORT real music.
Everyone wants to make a LIVING from their gifts – no one is knocking another ‘acts’ revenue stream. But at the end of that process there was a piece of work that stood by itself as ART. That piece of music was the complete form – it didn’t need a video or high-pressure advertising. Video’s accepted, we’ve now gone from the inventive promos at the beginning of the medium – to material bordering on soft porn. I have no problem with pornography. But that’s not the business I’m in. I don’t know ANY musician…Read more
“When I think about kids watching a TV show like American Idol or The Voice, then they think, ‘Oh, OK, that’s how you become a musician, you stand in line for eight f*cking hours with 800 people at a convention center and… then you sing your heart out for someone and then they tell you it’s not f*ckin’ good enough.’ Can you imagine?” he implores. “It’s destroying the next generation of musicians! …Musicians should go to a yard sale and buy and old f*cking drum set and get in their garage and just suck.…Read more
Fast Food – Immediate Success – Free Music and Film?
There’s a gonzo theory that the apparent world we’re living in is a pale imitation of a superior life beyond. I don’t know about that but I do know, without argument, that digitally produced sounds are a pale imitation of real music.
When I first became interested in music everyone bought vinyl. Not only did we get the ‘product’ but we also got a gate-fold sleeve with exclusive photos of the band and sometimes lyrics. From a fan’s point of view,…Read more
You never really know where you’re going to find great new music these days. It’s no longer in the easy places. TV exposure usually means the coma-inducing ‘variety show’ carbon copies – those fossils of prime-time oblivion. Mainstream radio: a band with some firmly fixed association to big money. There are still the occasional legends that
arrive via word of mouth. But rarer still – there are those bands that suddenly detonate explosively in the flesh - when you’re not actually looking. That’s where “The…