I could start with the whole personal account with the logistics of getting to the gig, etc…but it is actually too horrendous to go over it all. Put it this way…all the trepidation I was feeling about going was being made manifest. So…let’s skip all that.
I met up with Ally Scott and her husband at a pub they were staying at in Maidstone. It was wonderful to meet in person and to feel settled before the gig.
We made our way there and arrived on site just as the gates to the venue were due to be opened, except there was a delay in letting the crowd in. Finally the gates were opened around 4.45 (gates were due open at 4pm). We had as many queuing behind us as we had in front of us.
This lady is her own “one-man band” with her loop recorder she uses to create her own rhythm section. I am not overly familiar with her songs but I know in amongst them was Black Horse And The Cherry Tree, Suddenly I See and I think she also did Other Side Of The World (well, it was a song to do with long distant relationships so would assume it was that). Funny moment that had me in stitches: her setting up the loop track for another song…and she uses this “egg” to make certain percussive sounds. She held it up and said “check out my massive egg” and forgot she had engaged the recording of the loop, so nano seconds later, reverberating around the showground is KTs voice saying “CHECK OUT MY MASSIVE EGG…ASSIVE EGG…ASSIVE EGG…ASSIVE EGG”. Lol. I lost it! I couldn’t stop laughing.
She engages so well with the crowd. So much talent and pulls you in with banter and participation recording the loops. Such catchy songs too. I always enjoy her sets, and yesterday was no exception.
Having heard recent reviews about Ms Hynde and co (including from Mr Ex himself), I was expecting to be blown away…and I am pleased to say that is EXACTLY what happened!
The set opened with Alone. A song full of the attitude we know and love. The set flowed really well. The band are AMAZING! It was my first ever time experiencing Pretenders live. Martin Chambers – wow! What a drummer! At one point he started off a drum solo. Chrissie just started rolling her eyes. A bit of banter ensued. Martin was trying to (and succeeding to!) “drum up” support to extend his solo. In the end Chrissie called him a cunt and says “40 years I’ve had to put up with him”. Lol
Geez, imagine the supergroup that could come from the respective long-term musical collaborations from both sides? Chrissie and Martin. Jim and Charlie. Bring in someone like John Giblin on bass and holy fuck! Sadly it’ll never see the light of day. Over Chrissie’s dead body, methinks! It’s nice to dream though…
Classics in the set included: Kid, Back On The Chain Gang, Hymn To Her, Stop Your Sobbing, Middle Of The Road, I’ll Stand By You, Bad Boys Get Spanked, Don’t Get Me Wrong and Brass In Pocket. (I was really, really hoping for Message Of Love, but it didn’t happen…)
Chrissie’s voice is as strong as ever. Pitch perfect and faultless. A powerhouse performance. My little green-eyed envy very much took a back burner. She is all I could only ever dream of being. More talent in her pinky fingernail than I am ever likely to possess in my whole entire being. Still a bloody stick insect! And absolute no fucks to give to anybody.
I was with amazing friends…my beautiful, beautiful friend, Ally…someone who has exuded much more faith in me than I ever have in myself. Another person who allowed me to believe in myself and means so very much to me. There is no one else on earth last night I would have been happier to share this experience with. And what a truly AMAZING gig it was! Right from the off from The Signal And The Noise and into Waterfront, the crowd was buzzing.
The band, as usual, was playing so tight. Cherisse, in particular was the stand out last night. Her level of musicianship is incredible. She just gets better and better. So much power yet subtlety and deftness to her playing. I’m just in awe of her every time I see her.
As for Mr…”SIR” Kerr? I don’t think I ever experienced such a strong vocal performance from him. I could feel him giving it his all last night. Like, really! And, PLEASE, GIVE ME CREDIT! I know I love the man to pieces – but I CAN be objective! If I felt he was lacklustre, I would say. (Well, actually…I’d be more likely NOT to comment on his vocal performance at all.) If you actually have read past posts on this blog with me discussing his voice, you’ll know I can give it an objective and methodical analysis.
Vocal performance was AMAZING! To the degree that…I thought some trickery was going on during the performance of Dolphins. He was not in view when the vocal began and I was thinking “Oh, okay….to bide some more time to buy him for his wardrobe change, they’ve pre-recorded this and playing his vocal back.” BUT NO! He soon appeared and it was obvious he was singing live…and I was blown away.
I think he also really has been studying the lyrics too…which made me SO, SO happy. It may be seen as extreme pedantry, but when he gets the lyrics right, I enjoy the performance more…because it reflects how you expect the songs to sound. THE BOY HAS BEEN LEARNING! The lyrical notations really improved.
The most joyous of these was the return of the original arrangement of Someone Somewhere In Summertime – with the “burning slow” lines restored. Oh, I have missed those lines! They are beautiful! I wanted to cry when it started and I prayed he was going to sing the lines, and then…
Both it and Walk Between Worlds was my personal highlight of the set.
I *may* have missed a song…but I am hopeful I didn’t – here’s the set list (not in strict running order):
The Signal And The Noise
Let There Be Love
She’a A River
See The Lights
Walk Between Worlds
Someone Somewhere In Summertime
All The Things She Said
Promised You A Miracle (duet with KT)
Banging On The Door (intro)/Dolphins
Let The Day Begin
Alive And Kicking
“Pinch yourself” shared moments with Ally included – sing-a-longs to Let There Be Love and Someone Somewhere In Summertime…our arms wrapped around each other…taking in the wonder of it all. Being “in the moment”.
It was certainly one of the best concert experiences I have ever had – and couldn’t have been any different from Aix-Les-Bains. I need to make amends to Françoise for that one!
Based on opening night (well, Pretenders did play the night before in Leeds) – anyone thinking of going to any of these Grandslam shows – I do not think you’ll be disappointed.
I am THOROUGHLY looking forward to the next gig I have in Leeds next Saturday. The only thing I DO regret is that Pretenders won’t be on the bill there. But perhaps that will mean slightly longer sets from both KT Tunstall and Simple Minds? Fingers crossed!
*At the behest of the bands involved, I refrained from taking any photos or video of the gig.