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GigswithIvan: a grey-haired gig goer

I’m a 59 year old grey haired gig goer. I get to a lot of gigs and festivals in a variety of places. The last five years or so it’s cranked up a notch with the help of a similarly (even more gigaholic) enthusiastic mate and my gig-loving wife.

I seem to be on one massive tour and keep squeezing in the music where I can.

Johnny Depp and Alice Cooper with The Hollywood Vampires at Birmingham Resorts Arena (NEC)

I thought I could leave a blog trail as I go on my gigaholic wanderings – the bands – my photos – the venues – the festivals – bits on travel and parking – the odd handy pub and all that stuff.

With Richard Butler of The Psychedelic Furs at The Roundhouse

All photos are my own unless I mention otherwise. I use a Panasonic compact pocket-sized zoom mostly, a TZ60. Unobtrusive and only ocasionally not permitted, and that’s where there is a no phones or cameras rule which I always abide by. I occasionally take a better Nikon bridge camera to outdoor gigs, especially festivals so the pics there are best quality. Then there are gigs when I forget my camera, run out of battery etc 🙄

Keith Flint of The Prodigy at Victorious Festival

My mobile phone camera is pretty bang average, on an older Samsung A6, but I do take an occasional video clip if it isn’t going to get in anyone’s way – I like a pillar or a wall behind me. In Spring 2022 I started putting these on a YouTube channel. It saves memory on the WordPress account if nothing else but is getting hundreds of views in its own right, occasionally over a thousand. Link to my Grey-Haired Gig Goer channel.

The Covid pandemic hit activities hard but through my blogs you can see the various attempts to keep gig-fit and measures brought in during this awful period in our history.

Keep rocking!

Gary Numan – Bristol O2 Academy
  • Gig Venue: The Joiners, Southampton
    The grey-haired gig goer sets the scene at The Joiners music venue in Southampton, one of the South Coast’s legendary small independent music venues.
  • Showaddywaddy live in Dorset
    The remaining incarnation of 70s rock’n’roll popsters Showaddywaddy pay a visit to the East Dorset town of Wimborne… don’t be sniffy, come on in, you know you’d enjoy it (if you’re over 55).
  • Paul Heaton live in Birmingham – on his own at this one
    This handily timed, well-priced gig gave me a chance to take the natural next step to seeing The Housemartins and The Beautiful South. No Jackie Abbott tonight due to illness but Heaton carried on regardless.
  • The Cure – live in Birmingham…again
    Some 38 years after seeing The Cure for the first time, in Birmingham, an older and greyer haired gig goer returns to the city to see another epic show.
  • Glastonbury Festival 2022 – my wander through it
    So who writes up a Glastonbury Festival experience six months afterwards? Well it was just too much of a beast to digest… but eventually I sorted out my four day wander.

Gig Venue: The Joiners, Southampton

The Joiners Arms, 141 St Mary’s Street, Southampton SO14 1NS

The legendary Joiners

The Joiners is somewhere I wish I could move nearer to my home. For me it’s about an hour’s drive or I can get the train from Poole and walk the just under a mile from the central station, heading east towards St Mary’s football stadium. There are car parks nearby but I prefer the on-street parking meter bays up the top (north) end of St Mary’s Street and around the church. I have never had a problem finding somewhere to park. It’s not in the best of areas but I’ve not encountered any bother.

When the doors open the concern about having a signal, having enough battery left, finding e-tickets, emails and apps all evaporates as the person on the door usually just wants your name, postcode and to check you off the list. A traditional marker pen cross on the back of a hand completes the entry process – I find I can proudly sport this badge of honour for several days after, despite vigorous scrubbing with a nail brush.

Bespoke bar design

The merch stand is usually straight in front of you on arrival. The bar and adjacent table have a great surface, made out of designs from Joiners posters and tickets. I’d love to try that.

Memorabilia table top

The bar is small and L-shaped – hard to get one the eight or so seats. A good selection of beers and ciders. My favourite is Roadie – quite a rare find with a distinctive mic stand tap. Darker with malty taste. On my last few visits I have tried some of the surprisingly wide range of no and low alcohol beers.

The K’s from next to the mixing desk – January 2022

Through the bar and out to the quite narrow rear to the gig room. Funnel through there, passed the small mixing desk on your left and the room opens out just in front of the stage, across its width, and only about as deep as the stage. It’s about as compact as it gets on the recognised gig circuit. I’m happy to lean on the rail next to the mixing desk – always a fascinating watch the mix desk. Another spot I like is by the wall to the left, by the mural. If busy, the corridor to the toilets brings you out to that left corner spot with some polite pushing through.

Left hand wall decoration
Spear of Destiny – from the left wall mural spot – December 2022

The capacity is 200 but that must be a squeeze. Bands are pushed for space with spare equipment piled around the steps up to the left of the stage, around a cramped roadie usually. When they come on, acts have to push through the crowd and later to escape down the toilets corridor – a corridor lined with old poster s and pictures from years of rock’n’roll. The curtails encore games with most just taking a breather on the stage before a last blast.

They’ve had some cracking bands over the years, on their way up: Green Day, Muse, Oasis, Arctic Monkeys and Radiohead: all before my time in the area. In September 2012, Wolf Alice played as part or their small venue mini-tour. £15 and the tickets were like gold dust. Worth keeping your eye out for the listings. I’ll be back soon I’m sure.

Red Rum Club – May 2022

I will update these notes as I go. Links to my recent blogs from The Joiners can be found here:

Red Rum Club

The K’s

Fatherson

Spear of Destiny

Showaddywaddy live in Dorset

Showaddywaddy at The Tivoli Theatre Wimborne 21.1.23

OK OK, I know this might sound like a bit of an odd one but who can resist a chance to catch up with a bunch of friends for an afternoon and evening out and hear some live music in the company of the 70s hit machine Showaddywaddy? Go on, if you’re born in the 60s you know you would love it.

Ten top ten singles to their name and one number one: Under the Moon of Love. Many of their hits are cover versions of 50s and 60s songs which they gave their visual upgrade to with all that colourful teddy boy gear and lots of ‘do-wopping’ and coordinated dances. Top of the Pops, Seaside Special and appearances on kids tv shows were their bread and butter and I remember them especially as Look-In Magazine regulars. A classic publication of the day.

Thursday treat for us kids in the 70s

They formed in Leicester in 1973 and hit the big time after appearing in the New Faces tv talent show final, as runners-up.

While the Showaddywaddy beat goes on, there is only one original member left of that band of eight. Mostly alive but not playing with the band. Drummer Romeo Challenger is all that remains in the current line up of six. Still attracting the audiences with a busy touring schedule mind – tonight’s show is a sellout.

The Tivoli Theatre, Wimborne

The East Dorset town of Wimborne rarely troubles the gig tour planners, aside from this lovely old theatre which specialises in mature tastes, well vintage. Many great tribute acts of classic rock artists appear. I used to live in Wimborne and so I’ve kept my eye on it. I suspect that give it another ten years and I’ll be here once a fortnight writing a ‘no haired gig going blog’ as opposed to grey haired experience.

I’ve seen Hugh Cornwell here a few times, Glenn Tilbrook and in more recent years From the Jam and Bootleg Blondie (with Clem Burke from Blondie proper). Then there was the evening with John Lydon experience – Johnny Rotten in Wimborne, wonders never cease.

After this afternoon’s trail through several lovely town centre pubs – Oddfellows, Kings Head, Olive Branch – and the excellent Nusara Thai restaurant, it’s something of a relief to get to the front door of the Tivoli on time. Half the gang are in already – the Plymouth green army are Wimborne visitors today – while I have been led astray by ‘The Dove’ and Jeanette so we are the stragglers. (The Dove says he doesn’t get enough mentions in my blog.)

The Grey-Haired Gig Goer, The Dove, Sally & Jeanette rocking on a Saturday night – outside the venue

Wimborne is a top place for a pub tour with plenty to wander to in the compact town centre. The Taphouse (one for after) with its ale choices is my pick, just 50 yards along from the Tivoli, opposite The Man in the Wall (one of the best Wetherspoons). Wimborne’s downside, or maybe saviour, is transport links – no train station and buses a bit limited, although it can work from Poole on the local buses (3 or 4 More Bus from Poole Bus Station, my choice tonight).

Showaddywaddy merch stand at The Tivoli

This all-seater art deco style theatre has 483 seats and serves as a cinema and venue. It opened in 1934 and has benefited from a new frontage and canopy in recent years. You can get a decent view from anywhere, even the back row of the balcony where we are tonight.

The Tivoli bar at the interval. It was rammed prior to the gig

The bar is small, like a village cricket club. I think just have a drink before you get here if you want one. Pop over the road. It must be quicker. You can order half-time drinks. Who does that though? Go when the doors open if you want to use the bar or try the café as you go in on the left. It’s all part of the same thing.

Tonight’s Performance

Showaddywaddy are on promptly. I sort of imagined a Jimmy Savile voice intro like on Top of the Pops… noooo.. but they are on.

Showaddywaddy live in Wimborne

When they play Heartbeat (Buddy Holly cover) it is greeted with warm applause. So familiar to several generations. Maybe A Little Bit of Soap is more the light-hearted pop record territory they are known better for. These are the early set tunes.

Showaddywaddy at the Tivoli

The band dance in harmony to order, swinging guitars in time from occasionally. Professionals. Immaculate suits.

There are four guitars and a bass together with Romeo on drums. That makes a solid noise. For some songs Romeo comes out front while another takes to the drum kit. Also one turns saxophonist at will.

The four guitar set up

First big Top of the Pops classic for me is Pretty Little Angel Eyes. Come on! Singalong but you can remember them all. I guess When and Three Steps to Heaven are the other top hits from the set. Romeo is respectfully introduced, due to his original hallmark and plays up front for a bit on alternative percussion.. conga drums maybe.

By this time the rear balcony patrons are out of their seats jigging about. In the row in front of us a man and his wife are up dancing. Enquiries reveal the chap is 81. I’m thinking in two decades time if I am dancing here to anyone I will take that as a gig-going victory. Rock on sir, and madam.

Last song. Everyone knows this one: Under the Moon of Love. Then back for an uncomplicated, prompt single encore, one they wrote themselves: Hey Rock and Roll, which reached no.2 in the UK Charts in April 1974. Arms are waving.

A lovely evening. Enjoyable, almost predictably so. That’s how professional these guys are. So that it gig 1 for me in 2023 done. We are off, slowly, and running.

The audience spills on the street outside – even Wimborne can look chaotic and busy sometimes it seems. I grab a pic without getting run over. Then it’s in for a few pints in The Taphouse, then it’s off for the bus back to Poole, leaving our Plymouth friends to last orders.

Chucking out time at The Tivoli

Paul Heaton live in Birmingham – on his own at this one

Paul Heaton at Resorts World Arena Birmingham 8.12.2022 with Billy Bragg supporting

Tonight’s venue

Paul Heaton has always appealed to me. A football fan from Hull, with a great voice who likes a pint in a boozer. He put money behind the bar in various pubs around the country to mark his 60th birthday. A few years before that he played 16 pubs in 18 days cycling between them to celebrate bikes and supping ale. Add to that a price limiting ticket, record and merchandise sales policy and this is sounding like very decent bloke. Tonight’s tickets: £30 for standing and any seats throughout the arena.

I thought his early band The Housemartins were great. What wonderful album titles: London 0 Hull 4 and The People Who Grinned Themselves To Death. I’d already gathered some EPs and singles and saw them live in Bristol Bierkeller in March 1986, before that first album in October that year. I was on a block release training course in Weston-Super-Mare at the time. I never could have imagined would be seeing so many gigs in Bristol 35 years later. I remember Heaton getting the numerous football fans in the audience to throw little metal badges at him and I parted with a West Ham one.

When they split in 1988, The Beautiful South was born. I found myself buying most of their albums – hard not to like their great vocals and easy-going melodic pop songs, with two male vocalists including Paul Heaton (and Dave Hemingway, drummer in The Housemartins) and a succession of female vocalists. The first of those, on albums 1-3, was Briana Corrigan, after which Jacqui Abbott took over. (Briana was going out with one of my work mates in Coventry back then and they married later.)

Surprisingly though I didn’t see The Beautiful South until November 1995, coincidentally at the NEC Birmingham where tonight’s gig is (under its new name). I bought a ticket last minute as I was single at the time and a bit bored. The Only Ones were supporting. One of the Beautiful South fell off the back of the stage and injured his arm after the main set and so they dispensed with any encore.

Then in July 1997 I saw them at a Crystal Palace athletics stadium with Texas, Teenage Fanclub and Gabrielle. It was standing, hot and I remember being a long way back. The band packed up eventually in 2007.

When Paul Heaton was playing a support slot on Squeeze’s 2012 tour and I was miffed to arrive to find him doing his last song, Caravan of Love (the last song at tonight’s gig as well). This was at the O2 Academy Bournemouth and one of those early start and finish weekend gigs which allow the youth in after for their ‘proper night out’ once the oldies have cleared of home to bed 🙄

And so you can see why I jumped at a chance, while on this trip to Brum, to pop in to see Paul Heaton, and it was just Paul Heaton as Jacqui Abbott was ill. Refunds were offered if anyone wanted them when Jacqui’s absence was confirmed. Judging by the crowd this wasn’t taken up by many.

Tonight’s Gig

We stopped at The Moxy Hotel (I recommend it – good chain) by the lake just opposite the Arena and I was pleased to catch up with old Coventry buddies Rob and Nikki in the Moxy bar beforehand.

The Moxy Hotel – Birmingham Resorts World Arena
In early as the Arena fills

The Resorts World Arena is a big, cavernous place with a capacity of 15,685 but I suppose it does the job. I bought the tickets late so we are a fair way back but it’s easy.

The support tonight is Billy Bragg. Quite a bonus – another guy I used to see a lot, usually festivals and supporting, in the 80s and early 90s.

He has a fair-sized band with him, including three on the brass instruments, but still with that clear Bragg voice not lost at all in it. Bragg jokes about his age, our ages – everyone in here is of an age – but when he gets going, he still sounds like he is ready to take on the world. (The week I was writing this, he was outside Dorchester Hospital, as the snow fell, with his guitar to sing for the striking nurses – no bottling his enthusiasm for a revolution despite his earned wealth eh.)

I was surprised how much I knew of his set considering he had left me behind after the first three albums. For me he couldn’t have started with anything much better: Shiiiirleeey… well that’s what I know it as but of course it’s called Greetings to the New Brunette. (The suburb of Shirley is not far from the venue. It used to have a restaurant with the amusing name of The Shirley Temple. Now closed.)

Billy explains himself and contextualises all his songs. He is enjoying this big audience and the reaction is good although I can’t see much of a revolution starting in this room.

The best of the nine-song set is the beautiful Levi Stubbs’ Tears, with that brass. Sexuality gets an update and more explanation. It seems even Billy wasn’t inclusive enough when he wrote that one.

There is Power in a Union is back with angst as a song of the 2022-3 Winter of discontent. Not much power in the one I was in and left in 1986. Enough said.

He finished with Waiting for the Great Leap Forward. He’s been waiting a long time now. Good to see him again anyway.

On to Paul Heaton, with band but without Jacqui Abbott…. carrying on regardless eh. He thanks us for hanging in there with him and explains how various band members will try and fill in for Jacqui. Some noble attempts but for me it underlined how much the songs are Paul Heaton.

It’s ten minutes short of a two-hour set and the quality and quantity of material he can draw on just means the time flies.

I love the decent five song helping of Housemartins: Happy Hour, Me and the Farmer and the wonderful People Who Grinned Themselves to Death being those high spots.

With the NK-Pop LP having been released recently I was expecting more that the three songs we here from that. Maybe this is Paul Heaton backing off the new duet songs as Jacqui is ill.  So 13 Beautiful South songs.

It’s pop. It’s familiar. My favourites? Prettiest Eyes, Keep It All In and Old Red Eyes is Back. (YouTube at gig.) There is also the gruff vocal of A Liar’s Bar which holds a special appeal to me – I used to try and sing it with my roommate Sean after our drunken nights out on our Weston-Super-Mare block release course.

Prettiest Eyes has that oh so poignant line as 60th birthdays loom:

“Sixty 25th of Decembers
Fifty-nine 4th of Julys
Not through the age or the failure, children
Not through the hate or despise
Take a good look at these crow’s feet
Sitting on the prettiest eyes”

(Prettiest Eyes: Rotheray/Heaton)

I was wondering if I would find this gig just a bit too light and poppy but you can’t help get carried along with it all. These are happy sounds and for me nostalgic sounds. The new album is good listen but this wasn’t really about that. It had that small gig in a big place feel with both Bragg and Heaton really engaging on a chatty level with the audience. The test is would I go again tomorrow – certainly yes and I’d take a standing spot near the front.

(A visually dry write up I’m afraid. No camera with me and too far away to do much with my phone which is surely up for replacement. That is my 2022 gig going wrapped up. 100 nights of live music. I doubt I will ever top that……..well?)

The Cure – live in Birmingham…again

The Cure at Utilita Arena Birmingham 7.12.2022 with The Twilight Sad supporting

The Cure must be the most successful band that I have followed since my youth. They have become an enormous global success with a steady recording output until 2008. Thirteen studio albums. From the light and poppy singles to works of swirling atmospheric depression. Their set lists for the last ten years have been an absolute feast, with long sets packed with gems: two or three hours’ worth.

It is that last ten years where I started seeing them live regularly – six times now since Reading Festival in August 2012. In December 2014 it was the relatively intimate Hammersmith Apollo – one of three nights of three-hour sets (21.12.2014). I remember wondering where those three hours evaporated to. An incredible gig.

The Cure at Hammersmith Apollo 2014
Robert Smith – The Cure – Hammersmith Apollo

Two years later I was at the Wembley SEE Arena gig (1.12.2016) – a heavy session and no food before that one I recall (‘Eating is not cheating!’). Then in July 2018 there was the 40th anniversary of The Cure gig in Hyde Park.

Hyde Park Cure anniversary gig – Hyde Park 2018

A blisteringly hot day and England beat Sweden 2-0 in the World Cup. I watched it in an upstairs room of the Stanhope Arms near Gloucester Road tube station. This meant missing several of the support bands but The Cure set itself was perfect. A 10/10. I remember walking away from that thinking I would never see a better Cure gig. That remains the case today, despite the recent wonderful performances.  (I had my best camera at that one and the memories adorn my wall at home.)

Robert Smith – Hyde Park 2018
Hyde Park 2018

Next was a Pyramid Stage headliner slot at Glastonbury 2019. Another great show. As I return to Birmingham, my home for seven years in the 80s, for the December 2022 show, I am reminded of my first Cure gig, at Birmingham Odeon for The Top album tour on 29.4.1984.

I got the bus into town on my own from my shared rented student house in Balsall Heath, in the hope of picking up a ticket outside for the sell-out gig. Even touted tickets were reasonably priced in those days. I found a lad who asked if I was looking for a spare ticket – he only wanted face value for it, a mere £4.50. I gratefully gave him a fiver as I had no change. I went in and sat down and he later appeared from the bar, as his seat was next to me, and gave me the 50p change saying he didn’t want to make on it. Turned out he was on the dole and looking for work. A rock’n’roll angel eh.

My 1984 gig ticket

The support band that night were And Also the Trees, who also played one of the support slots at the 2014 Hammersmith gig – they’re old friends of The Cure.

Tonight’s gig

The Utilita Arena Birmingham (ex-National Indoor Arena) is just north of the nightspot area of Broad Street, along the canal, just to the west of the city centre. So much choice of where to eat and drink first.  It’s a 15,800 capacity venue, tonight with the main floor all standing. It can squash down to 2,500 with the use of moveable partition curtains and flexible seating.

Tonight we are seated just a few rows up from the floor in a forward left block. This gives an excellent view over the heads of those in the standing area. (Tonight we are Plymouth Dave, Ann, John ‘The Dove’, Jeanette and Sally. Glastonbury 2019 Cure gig revisited.)

The support band are The Twilight Sad, from Kilksyth, Scotland and their lead singer does sound exceptionally Scottish. They were one of the support bands for The Cure at Hyde Park 2018.

Support: The Twilight Sad

What a great sound. Haunting indie rock and very Cure compatible. A fairly short eight song set but highly enjoyable. I grabbed one phone video: That Summer at Home, I had Become the Invisible Boy (My YouTube channel link). I was surprised to find they have made five albums, the first in 2007. I’d certainly look out for them again.

It is another wonderful Cure show that plucks 28 songs from their 13 albums in a set lasting just over two and a half hours. I left my pocket zoom camera behind for this trip – a shame in some ways but I don’t supposed I could better my previous pics. Hence just a few phone shots to illustrate this performance.

A more elevated view at the Utilita Arena

Pictures of You was the second out of the box – a beauty. There are some early classics which particularly grab me: Three Imaginary Boys from that first album, Play for Today, Primary, and Shake Dog Shake, the only track tonight from The Top album that was the tour I first saw them live on back in 1984. Excellent sound as the guitars echo and swirl, filling the arena.

The Cure – Birmingham 2022

The band leave the stage after Endsong but there is plenty still to come. They return with I Can Never Say Goodbye from their long-awaited forthcoming album Songs of a Lost World. In interviews Robert Smith talks about several family losses in recent years and this song is clearly hugely emotional for him to deliver. A new album coming is a real treat.

“From out the cool November night;
Something wicked this way comes;
To steal away my brother’s life;
Somеthing wicked this way comes;
I could nevеr say goodbye” (The Cure 2022)

Robert Smith says thank you, smiles and makes loving, appreciative gestures to the crowd, but remains calm, moving slowly around the limits of the stage. He is the only original Cure member but it is his show and his band.

In this first encore, or part two, one of my favourites – Charlotte Sometimes – and I guess the song and single of my Cure record buying youth: A Forest. Brilliant.

The Cure – Birmingham 2022

They leave the stage again. Is that the end? No. Back for a second encore, or third part, to finish. Some more poppy numbers including Friday I’m In Love and Boys Don’t Cry to end. Robert Smith has sung all night but he can hardly speak at the finish, his voice croaking and squeaking. He made it though and once again we are grateful. It was a bit more than £4.50 this one mind.

Glastonbury Festival 2022 – my wander through it

Glastonbury Festival, Pilton, Somerset, England 22-26 June 2022

Glastonbury eh. It’s a monster; a monster with many heads, but a lovely beast. It isn’t all about seeing bands in a conventional way, although the tented stages give a bit of that. Sitting around in the sun, with a beer, in a field and hundreds of metres from a stage can be as enjoyable as seeing a gig on the front rail – that sense of community and the big event.

The site is now so enormous it’s best not to race around too much or you’ll just get frustrated. I thought it was huge in 1987 on my first visit, but there were only 60,000 people then: there are three or four times that now.

So much is written about this monster-fest and there is so much coverage to be seen live and on iPlayer that these notes can only introduce my limited meander through, with a photo selection to illustrate. Every festival goer carves their own path through the musical mayhem and other entertainment. I couldn’t even begin comment on the art, performance and entertainment around every corner.

The Other Stage


Armed with the Glastonbury app and ‘Clashfinder’ I picked my way around a course of about 40 plus miles over five days, sometimes with part or all our group of 10 glamping just off the site, with my wife or on my own for those ‘I gotta see it’ performances. You need to plot your own course. Back home later I watched loads more on iPlayer and there are always regrets but you can’t be everywhere.

We got in place on the Wednesday. It was a ‘find your feet day’, get your wristbands day and get your bearings. No music to speak of.

Thursday was once again frustrating (I was here in 2019 and 2017, the last two). Thousands of people trying to see some bands, any bands, but the site isn’t geared up to deal with these huge demands until it all opens up and the main stages and tents get going on the Friday.

A few drinks and a wander to the BBC Introducing Stage. Unfortunately, that afternoon introducing dance music – not for me. Then the entire site started to descend on a stage tent at the central green where Mel C was appearing! I turned back early on for some more dance music torture. A few of the others joined me and after a few songs on the little stage opposite with real guitars, again we went on a long hike, this time down to The Truth Stage in the South East corner to try and see Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs. The constrained area with high metal walls was really busy and just kept filling. Another stage to the right, separated by a bar and more metal sheeting, blasted out hip hop, so one ear was getting one band and the other the sound we’d come for. We gave up after a handful of songs and made our way back through a maze of dance stages and temporary clubby type arenas and settings, including The Meat Factory, a flaming derelict building with sounds pumping out of it. We weaved our way back through the jaw droppingly imaginative visual experiences and the mind blowingly awful audio. A lot of people like it. Each to their own. I don’t get it.

Friday

The Other Stage overwhelmed for the opening band – The Libertines


Friday was the grand opening and I headed for The Other Stage for The Libertines. A very big crowd and moving around to get and retain a view was hard going…but we were off and running. Three days of wandering, sitting, standing, laying, drinking. Wonderful.

Ziggy Marley – Pyramid Stage

A slow shuffle around to The Other Stage and out, got me to the main Pyramid Stage for Ziggy Marley. Lovely atmosphere. Better view. The large crowd dancing. I should have stayed but missed the end to see the start of Blossoms‘ set back on The Other Stage. I’ve seen them several times, including here on this stage in 2017. A happy mood. I missed the excitement of my wife Sally being talked at from the stage after she offered lead singer Tom Ogden some suncream – we met him later to add to the moment.

Blossoms – The Other Stage

I did leave early though as I was intent on finding new boys Inhaler in the John Peel tent. A great set – well supported and one of my Friday highlights. I caught their breakthrough song on my phone which is here on my YouTube Channel: My Honest Face. Unmistakeably
Bono’s son but he doesn’t mention it. Great band. Seen them twice since.

John Peel Stage – Inhaler – from Dublin


After that I went down the front at the Pyramid Stage for
Wolf Alice – squeezed right in surround by young women enjoying some laughing gas. The band had been tweeting their anxiety for the previous 24hrs having been held up in the US with flight delays. They made it. A bit of light rain didn’t dampen a tremendous late afternoon performance.

Ellie Rowsell – Wolf Alice – Pyramid Stage on a damp afternoon


I moved back up the hill a bit to find friends and watched Robert Plant & Alison Krauss. Enjoyed the sounds but not a sniff of an old Led Zeppelin song so I was a little disappointed given the stage, slot and audience.

Robert Plant


Sam Fender followed on the same stage. Two really good albums to work with now, so he can deliver a longer set of substance. A singer songwriter with some rock’n’roll power. Missed the end – I’d seen him before – as another bucket list band that had dodged me for years was on the increasingly favoured surroundings of the John Peel tent: The Jesus and Mary Chain. A glorious dark mix of feedback and indie hits. I sat down against a side pole later on in the set and got bitten by something on the back of my knee which led to a nasty reaction and a leg next day like an elephant. Still, I got to hear April Skies, Some Candy Talking, Just Like Honey and Happy When it Rains live.

Jesus and Mary Chain – John Peel Stage


I had decided I would go and see Foals on The Other Stage to finish off Friday. I watched about four songs and thought these are not for me. I’d been oversold this one. I trudged off to see Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott but as I neared the Acoustic Stage everyone came pouring out. Messed up there.

Saturday


Today was a lot of wandering, drinking, grazing and people watching but not much serious band watching. I didn’t have much of a plan. I was led to the packed and overflowing John Peel tent to find young singer songwriter Holly Humberstone – an exceptional talent which the bulging tent occupants were clearly already aware of. I sat outside the tent and couldn’t see her even on a neck craning forage in – just heard her. You do need to get in place early, especially if an artist on a small stage pulls a big crowd in.

Egyptian Blue – BBC Introducing Stage


After that I went wandering. I found Egyptian Blue on the BBC Introducing Stage. I’d seen them supporting at The Wedgewood Rooms, Southsea and well worth a look, now with increased confidence.

Squid at The Park Stage


I eventually made the hike over to The Park Stage. Radio 6 darlings Squid played to a big crowd and I couldn’t resist being involved.

Squid – Radio 6 darlings


Next a beer in one of the bar tents up there – more live music inside – and back to the mainstream, The Pyramid Stage, and found some of my festival buddies for a really top-notch Noel Gallagher and the High-Flying Birds set – a smattering of Oasis songs brought on the singalongs.

Noel Gallagher


After that, an hour’s gap until Sir Paul McCartney….but everyone just hung on to their spaces. I had to see him didn’t I – never thought I ever would. Over the next hour the whole area just got busier and busier. A trip to the gents, no liquids now – hold your place. It was rammed. Nowhere to move to.

Macca madness – an ‘I was there’ moment


A huge set with guests Dave Grohl and Bruce Springsteen. It was well paced with some remarkable Beatles songs played in these incredible surroundings. I was so pleased to have been there and it was genuinely emotional. I don’t know about McCartney but I was knackered by the end. My legs had given up – effect of the Jesus and Mary Chain insect bite kicking in – and I had a go in somebody’s chair who took pity on me.

Sunday

The Other Stage – The Sea Girls


A new start on Sunday and first band we watched was on The Other Stage – armed with lightweight camping chairs, ice cream and cartons of chilled white wine, three of us pitched up a fair way back, with a bit of room. A good spot to relax for three sets in a row: Sea Girls, Lianne La Havas and Declan McKenna.

Declan McKenna


Back to The Park Stage for me after that as I went in search of Jarvis (Cocker) followed by Jack White. The area was swamped but I found a spot to gaze at these legends.

Jarv..is – Park Stage
Jack White – The Park Stage


Then my focus of the day: I had to get to see Aussie punk rockers Amyl and the Sniffers. Their Comfort to Me album is a belter and I had played it to death. Back to the John Peel Stage nice and early and I went down on the front rail. Great position. Great atmosphere and considerable excitement.

Amy Taylor of Amyl and the Sniffers – John Peel Stage – festival highlight


I even took a video to capture the moment. A top moment: Guided by Angels. (My YouTube Channel link.)

Amyl and the Sniffers


I felt I had done what I came for and nothing could better that for the day. Weary, I headed back via the closing set on the Acoustic Stage: Suzanne Vega. I saw her on the main stage here in 1989. It was the first time I ever saw double – drinking white wine in the heat – and after watching the ‘Suzanne Vega twins’ for about half an hour I had to crash out in our tent pitched in view of the stage. It felt appropriate to give her my more sober attention some 33 years later. Very good and all the well-known songs.

Suzanne Vega – Acoustic tent


That was it. Glastonbury 2022…well my wander through the monster and snapshot of it. I saw one of the four headliners and there must be 20 major bands I wish I’d seen….in fact I’d love to have another go with the same line-up.

The Sea Girls – live in Southampton

The Sea Girls at O2 Southampton Guildhall 23.11 2022

I am running a bit behind with my trail of gig blogs. I don’t do every gig I go to. A few repeats at familiar venues and local pub gigs which made up my 100 nights (including some days) of live music in 2022, mean the build up to the Christmas and New Year gig desert has been busier than it may appear. The end of November/ early December gig surge did include a newer band though – worthy of some attention – The Sea Girls.

Glastonbury 22 – Sea Girls

It was bright sunny day at The Other Stage at Glastonbury. Perched in camping chairs, eating ice cream and drinking cartons of chilled white wine and some distance from the stage but they got me up to listen and look harder.

The Sea Girls – The Other Stage – Glastonbury 22

An odd name for an all-bloke band based in London – they aren’t all from there originally but nothing close to the sea.

Formed in 2015, their first album Open Up Your Head was released in 2020. Bit of a hard time to push on but eventually a second, Homesick, appeared in March 2022. Both reached number 3 in the UK album chart. Their style of indie rock does lend itself to some singalong moments and frontman Henry Camamile does get a crowd going. He’s joined by three others on guitar and back vocals (Rory Young), bass (Andrew Dawson) and drums (Oli Khan).

On this November night in Southampton I was here with my wife and her son…we were all going to see The Sea Girls a year or so back in Portsmouth but they had a Covid induced postponement and they never rearranged that gig as the venue, The Pyramids, closed for a refurbishment and subsequently stopped putting on live bands.

We delayed our arrival at the Guildhall, having been attracted by an extra exotic beer or two in the excellent Belgium and Blues bar nearby. I only discovered it on a recent visit and updated my O2 Southampton Guildhall blog, which has more detail on location, pre-gig amenities and the building. This meant missing out on the support band – not something I do often.

Full house – expectant crowd at The Guildhall

A big crowd in – a sell-out – but standing level with the mixing desk still gave us a bit of room. It was also easy to get a bit further down the side and up against the wall to take a video or two without getting in anyone’s way.

An air of celebration when the band came on. A bit of a relief to get this tour on. Damage Done from the 2020 album to open, followed by Lucky from the 2022 album Homesick. That balance was maintained throughout with about seven tracks played from each album plus some extras such as early singles and EP tracks.

The Sea Girls – Southampton Guildhall

The Guildhall’s maybe now legendary ‘no crowd surfing’ signs appear to be complied with. Instead, shoulder clambering was the gymnastic feat of the evening – you don’t get that at an old punk gig these days. I feel I may have missed out on this activity. Can’t see me starting now mind. Maybe I could do one crowd surf as a grey-haired gig goer, just for the bucket list. Not at the Guildhall obviously – there are those signs.

Front man Henry Camamile

I grabbed a camera video – new camera – getting hang of it now – of one of their typically anthemic numbers: Sick, which begged a singalong. (Link to my YouTube Channel – Sick)

Although I was only familiar with the 2022 album, I liked all I heard – they have a good set full of songs without any padding. What tonight did underline for me was, like for like, how much more I enjoy the indoor tour gig experience as against the festival set. Granted I wasn’t sat in the sunshine with a carton of chilled white wine or an ice cream but it lacks the intensity of a dark November urban night out.

Yes of course an encore – this is a crowd-pleasing band who don’t shy away from smiling and enjoying the moment. First Daisy Daisy, a slower one from a 2017 EP. Next All I Want to Hear You Say and the best, or certainly the most popular, Call Me Out to end, the main track on that 2017 EP.

Henry Camamile – The Sea Girls

Yup – a good night out and a band to keep an eye on. No ice creams at this one though.

The grey-haired gig-goer – ice cream, wine and The Sea Girls – Glastonbury 22.

Placebo – live in Portsmouth

Placebo at Portsmouth Guildhall 18.11.2022 with Cruel Hearts Club supporting.

Portsmouth Guildhall is an impressive building but it’s rare for me to catch it in daylight, with my handful of visits being in the evening.

Portsmouth Guildhall

Some more notes on the venue can be found in my blog of my last visit here to see Starsailor.

Tonight’s gig saw us visiting the Brewhouse and Kitchen brewpub beforehand, just a few hundred yards off the Guildhall Square and along passed the closer Wetherspoons option. The bars in the venue are fine if heading straight in.

Placebo gigs

My first encounter with Placebo was way back in August 1997 at the V97 Festival near Leeds, during their early days – the Nancy Boy years. I’ve been buying their albums ever since, continuing even after the music streaming options appeared. Their latest album, the one being toured, Never Let Me Go, lived up to the wait. Favourite tracks for me I guess are the single Beautiful James and Surrounded by Spies.

It wasn’t until 2009 that I went to one of Placebo’s own gigs though: Bournemouth Opera House, now the O2 Academy. This was quite small intense gig – I had to join the fan club to get a ticket – fuelled my enthusiasm for some more adventurous trips to see them. In November 2013, we travelled (with now wife Sally) from Brussels (where we were on holiday) to Cologne to see them at the Lanxess Arena. Then in December 2016 we went to the 3 Arena in Dublin to see them. Both great trips.

Brian Molko – Placebo – Lanxess Arena Cologne 2013
Placebo – Cologne 2013

Placebo at Portsmouth Guildhall

We are in the balcony for the show tonight. Top view down over the stage. Cruel Hearts Club are the support. A rocky, a bit punky, female trio. Bright and visual.

The no photos posters were all over the place and warnings are made over the speakers and also with messaging on stage. Similar had been appearing on social media and in emails to ticket holders in the days before the gig. I’m happy to go along with these things.

Comments made by main man Brian Molko at the end if the gig made it clearer that he really was a bit nervous of this sort of close-up gig these days and this may tie in to the phone and camera thing. I don’t buy it that phones and cameras are necessarily a bad gig thing though. They fuel interest and enthusiasm for bands via YouTube and other social media, particularly if you can’t get a ticket or get to a gig. It does drop the nut a bit on my blog material mind but hey ho.

The set tonight was heavily focused on the new album and brilliantly delivered – top sound – loud and sharp. Molko’s voice so consistent and the defining sound.

Brian Molko (guitar and vocals) and Stefan Olsdal (bass and vocals) are the original Placebo members, going back to 1994, with the rest of the band being touring members….even extending to a second bassist allowing Stefan to switch to guitar. Stefan and Brian started the band after meeting at an American school in Luxembourg, which may explain the Brian’s American sounding vocals.

The brilliant Too Many Friends is a highlight inclusion outside of the new album – one of their best ever songs. Infa-Red another perfect addition for me. I used to blast this song out again and again driving to work when it was released in 2006.

The set is a wonderful showcase for the new album but the encores could have been an opportunity to hear some more old faves maybe. Instead, the covers of Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill and the new cover of Tears for Fears’ Shout and one more, Fix Yourself, from the new album, Never Let Me Go. Still a top performance – up with the best I have experienced this year, but I left just wanting more from the encores to make it a 10/10.

Brian and Stefan say goodnight (photo from a friend)

A snap of the empty stage as I left, gives the balcony view.

Balcony – Portsmouth Guildhall

Gig Venue: O2 Guildhall, Southampton

O2 Guildhall Southampton, West Marlands Road, Southampton SO14 7LP

The Guildhall’s classic frontage

My recent visits to Southampton Guildhall, my first since back pre-Lockdown, have calmed my negativity about the sound at this venue and I will get back into going there a bit more. After numerous echoey sound problems I had tried to dodge the place if possible. 

With a capacity of 1749 standing (with a small rear seated balcony of about 230) it’s a good size to get decent bands. It’s not too far to travel to for me. For so many known bands’ tours, Southampton O2 is on the circuit, like Bristol, when Bournemouth, my local one, is not.

The Guildhall venue does unfortunately have the shape, high ceiling and often the acoustics of a large Victorian swimming pool – stone wall echo as a special feature. On my last two visits pre-‘plague’, I got as far to the front as possible as that seemed to improve the sound – a Band of Skulls gig here introduced me to that idea. Absorb the sound before it hits a wall.

The high ceilings and stone walls

However, recently (Future Islands in November 2022) I found the sound was fine up in the balcony, with an added high level central speaker, suspended from the ceiling near the back, so projecting to the balcony.

The view from up there is a little distant but unobstructed and sometimes these days a seat is appreciated. There is no bar up there but there are toilets.

View from the rear balcony

Downstairs the two main bars are off to each side and are separate rooms which I like – chattering minimised. Usual O2 limitations but pleased to see some decent bottles in the fridges: Tribute and Witchwood. When I saw Motörhead here in 2011, pre-fancy earplug days, I hid in the bar for songs I didn’t know to save my ears for the best, peering out stagewards. Possibly my loudest gig experience ever. Overkill was a chest and brain pounding monster.

There is another small bar at the back of the main hall, behind a room divider and opposite that bar is the large merch stand.

The building has a very grand classic exterior, although built in the 1930s as part of the large collection of civic buildings – grade II listed and refurbished in 1989.

It’s a short walk uphill from the main train station or if driving my preferred car park is across the park from the venue: Grosvenor Square multi-storey or the flat one next to that if not full. I noticed a one-way system has made it harder to find than last time I was here.

My pre-gig pub recommendation is the Belgium and Blues bar. Astonishing beer menu on tap and in bottles. Plenty of other choices along the Above Bar Street that one is on. One place I haven’t tried which I noticed had appeared on my November ’22 visit is Preez – the little bar on the square, just opposite the front of the Guildhall.

Recent visit (My Blog link)

Future Islands (November 2022)

Future Islands – live in Southampton

Future Islands at O2 Guildhall Southampton 17.11.2022 with Laundromat supporting.

This my first visit for several years to Southampton Guildhall, since back pre-Lockdown for a few gigs in Spring 2019: Suede and The Manic Street Preachers. After numerous echoey sound problems I have tried to dodge the place if possible, but maybe I will think again.  With a capacity of 1749 standing (with a small rear seated balcony) it’s a good size to get decent bands though.

Front of the Guildhall

The O2 Guildhall Southampton

It has the shape, high ceiling and often the acoustics of a Victorian swimming pool – stone wall echo. On those last two visits I got as far to the front as possible as that seemed to improve the sound – a Band of Skulls gig here introduced me to that idea. However, tonight we we’re up in the rear balcony (front row) and an added high level central speaker may have helped as the sound was decent.

In early at the Guildhall

The view from the balcony is a little distant but unobstructed and I appreciated the seat with this being the first of three gigs in three nights. There is no bar up there but there are toilets.

Balcony view

Downstairs the two main bars are off to each side and are separate rooms which I like – chattering minimised. Usual O2 limitations but pleased to see some decent bottles in the fridges: Tribute and Witchwood. (When I saw Motörhead here in 2011, pre-fancy earplug days, I hid in the bar for songs I didn’t know to save my ears for the best, peering out stagewards. Possibly my loudest gig experience ever. Overkill was a chest and brain pounding monster.)

The building has a very grand classic exterior, although built in the 1930s as part of the large collection of civic buildings – grade II listed and refurbished in 1989. There is another small rear bar at the back of the main hall, behind a room divider and opposite is the large merch stand.

It’s a short walk uphill from the main train station or if driving my preferred car park is across the park from the venue: Grosvenor Square multi-storey or the flat one next to that if not full. I noticed a one-way system has made it harder to find than last time I was here.

My pre-gig pub recommendation is the Belgium and Blues bar. Astonishing beer menu on tap and in bottles. Plenty of other choices along the Above Bar Street that one is on.

Support band

First up Laundromat. Nothing for me there. I thought the vocal detracted from the slow melodic indie tunes, but I find later that the singer, Toby Hayes, is the creator of it all.

Laundromat – supporting

Future Islands – looking back

It’s five years since I saw Future Islands, seeing them twice in 2017: at Glastonbury in the John Peel tent and at O2 Academy Bournemouth. I was ushered in to the John Peel tent by friends who said I had to see them. I’d not heard of them although they had been going since 2006. They were right to usher me.

Singles (2014) is the best album for me – a good entry point if you don’t know them – with The Far Field (2017) being a favoured source for material the other times I’ve seen them. The breakthrough for them came the first time the unusual dancing Sam Herring appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman.

They are from North Carolina originally (now Baltimore based) and it’s the same lead singer (Samuel T. Herring), keyboards (Gerrit Welmers) and bassist and other guitars (William Cashion) since they formed – the drummer (Michael Lowry) the later addition. It is quite a heavy electro-pop sound with bass guitar only when live.

Future Islands tonight

Future Islands take to the stage

The band line up with Sam Herring loose at the front and the rest of the band on a slightly raised platform behind, which they don’t stray from. A warm welcome – Herring seems a very likeable character. No flash stage clothes – but high kicks, low crouches and some great growls.

Samuel T. Herring – the growler

The set draws from four albums including, I’m pleased to say, four from Singles.

Up in the balcony front row a video clip is an easy task – out of people’s way and nothing in my way and something to lean on. Early set clip of Ran starts with some distinctive restrained throaty sounds and a little bit of light growling.

Sam Herring – Future Islands – Southampton

Sam Herring covers all the stage – side to side – up at the drums – down at the front almost whispering lovingly to front row fans – eyes following every move – cheers for the most ambitious moves. The set moves on and slips by pretty fast. It is a relaxing sound, one that rumbles along with the anxious cries of that distinctive voice box.

Near the set’s end is Seasons (Waiting on You). It’s still the best and what the crowd is waiting for most and I took another pocket camera video (link takes you to my YouTube channel).

Herring – the dancer

Warm applause at the break and some good old pre-encore stomping, after which there are three more songs Inch of Dust, Vireo’s Eye and lastly Little Dreamer that one is introduced with reflections on what that means to them – their long road to recognition and living out their dreams.

Thank you and goodnight

A successful return to Southampton Guildhall for me. I will be less resistant in future and see how it goes….especially if Future Islands are coming.

Bob Dylan – live in Bournemouth, England

Bob Dylan at Bournemouth International Centre 5.11.2022

Yup… Bob Dylan…in Bournemouth. “What, the real Bob Dylan?” asked the librarian when I went to print my tickets off. “Yes, yes the real one”. Why would I be rushing to a library on the day of the gig to print off tickets when everyone is going paperless? I’d read the ‘no phones’ warning email that arrived the day before, stating that you couldn’t even use your phone to show your tickets to enter.

No Cameras No Phones – secure pouches

So the novelty for me at this event was technologically enforced mobile phone and camera ban so I shall expand on this experience.

Of course, there are many events where personal cameras and phone use is not allowed, and not so appropriate. An all-seated theatre performance of anything is not where waving phones is what most people want. The quieter and more intense performances also benefit from a bit of phone restraint. Some artists just don’t like it due to publishing rights or disclosure of new material – that’s fine – but with the arrival of security pouches this is starting to be enforced more rigorously on occasions.

I had my pocket camera locked away at The Palladium once for a Morrisey gig but tonight is my first experience of the security pouch, to prevent any unauthorised phone use beyond the venue doors. In this age of etickets, mobile phone payment, car parking apps and Uber pick-ups, not going out with a mobile is not very practical. Besides I wanted to see how this system worked so I was always taking mine.

The BIC sent a warning email to explain what was going to happen, including that you could not enter the venue without a hard copy ticket or print-off. My urgent library trip to print my tickets off on the afternoon of the gig was successful – mildly concerned my tickets (cheaper ones at £100 a go!) might go to waste. I may have gone paperless too early it seems.

On the approach to the BIC there were numerous staff offering to help those with no print off or hard copy ticket. It looked like they viewed your phone etickets and gave you a token to verify that. At the door all phones were removed, and searched for, and then we are given a soft neoprene type pouch with a secured closure which once shut can only be opened with an associated electronic device held by security staff. You have to turn your phone off first or you will be in a spot – if it rings in the performance you won’t be able to open the pouch to stop it ringing. Bob would not be happy.

Pouch photo from Yondr website

This pouch thing is now of course much bigger than your phone – they are designed for the largest – so you then have to find somewhere to stuff it. On departure after the gig, there were none of the delays I was expecting. Plenty of staff available to unlock the pouches and take them from you – that is the essential bit. If you needed to make an urgent call you could go to a cordoned off area, have your pouch unlocked and stand on this naughty step to make that call. Still, I expect a few people got in a right mess – there must be some stories.

The secure pouch firm being used was Yondr and more details on that link.

There you go – I say my blogs are less attempts at traditional reviews and more a reflection of my gig experiences, a digital scrapbook… and a context for my photos, although that puts me in a bit of spot with this one eh 🙄.

Discovering Bob


I have seen Bob Dylan before at Hyde Park in July 2019, with Neil Young who I’d gone to see. At that point I hadn’t been through my period of Dylan enlightenment.

In Lockdown, in those desperate days of containment, I found the Rolling Stone magazine Top 500 albums of all time and started work my way down through the top 50. This brought me to three Dylan albums which got multiple plays: Blood on the Tracks, Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde – in that order (9,18 and 38). That was me hooked. Building on those through recommendations and other ‘best of Bob’ lists, I was drawn to Street Legal; The Freewheeling Bob Dylan; Slow Train Coming; Desire (which I bought in a second hand shop in Bridport) and Nashville Skyline, enhanced by Johnny Cash and my September trip to that fabulous city of music.

Then came Murder Most Foul (2020). I heard it on the radio not realising there was new Dylan material coming and thought is was an epic. 17 minutes of Bob’s genius commentary on modern misery. The album, which I bought as my first new Dylan album, Rough and Rowdy Ways – a double vinyl – I think is one of the best if not THE best. Hence, I am pleased with the fact Bob played the whole album tonight with only Murder Most Foul missing – must be too long.

Bob Dylan live at the Bournemouth International Centre 2022


No support tonight. The Windsor Hall at the BIC fills slowly – we watch it all having got in about an hour early and avoided the sordid queues for unimaginative and expensive beer. (The Brewdog pub is a short walk away and the Royal Exeter hotel bar over the road are preferable for pre-gig refreshments.)

The house lights dim and a white stage set illuminates: the whole added stage floor is lit with no lighting from above and just a few extra side and stage uplighters. The stage is contained by huge theatrical curtains giving the the look of a lounge club or 70s Vegas hotel show.

To the right is Bob’s piano. Nothing grand but an upright honky tonk piano with a rough back you would expect to be hidden up against a wall. When the band and then Bob come on, all I can see is hair, eyes and forehead…. but he is here…he is in the same room…in Bournemouth.

The first few songs are old ones including one from Blonde on Blonde. The Bob live style is more poetry with piano these days, squeezing the words out quickly so it takes me a while to recognise old songs. That ripple of polite applause, as a song is recognised by the hard core down in the front blocks, gives away the ones I feel I should know.

Gems from the latest album, False Prophet and Black Rider are separated by a second old one – another just released as a single (and on greatest hits albums). Full Setlist here, published on the Dylan website.

My concentration is broken – boy this makes you focus – it’s intense stuff – when the chap next to me nods off and lets his ugly two pinter of horrid expensive lager go down my leg and on to soak someone’s puffy coat in front. No one is happy but hey – I’ve had my moments – let it go.. and later he did. At least he served as a human barrier to the splayed leg troubled geezer who I was originally sat next to.

After another new album gem, Key West, is the best of the set maybe: Gotta Serve Somebody (San Francisco album 1980). There are whoops to add to the applause ripple to the start of that one. The flow of Rough and Rowdy Ways material is next interrupted by the crooners’ cover of That Old Black Magic: it fits well with the backdrop curtains and the jazzy side stage drum kit, occasional double bass and the dinner suit style of the band.

Bob steps out from behind his piano a few times so we can see him and he bows gently and smiles. He stands and sits to play… he is 81 now and small and frail but still dressed for rock’n’roll.

Goodbye Jimmy Reed (tribute to a Blues artist) is the penultimate song – another very recognisable track from the last album. The harmonica is out on this one – I could hear a quiet gasp of appreciation and here and there people were moved to get to their feet to applaud its arrival. Great song.

Bob, after saying hardly a word all evening, says, “It’s been my privilege to play for you tonight – I could carry on all night like this.” He seems quietly happy and content. And in to the last long: Every Grain of Sand from the 1981 album Shot of Love. Crowd on their feet now. At the end Bob steps out and bows and stands once again absorbing the adulation and respect. Single flowers are thrown on to the stage from several of the front block devotees. The cheers and applause go on and on but no more… the lights come up. Thanks for coming to Bournemouth Bob. What a wonderful experience.