Video Review – Blenheim Palace

Sorry it’s a video review but it was the only quick way for me to do it. Needs must and all that. Hope you enjoy my waffling and moaning. Lol

WARNING: You’ll see my hagged old face and have to endure my croaky voice and dripping nose. Sorry! To make up for it, there are some musical snippets…

To the left of the photo was our hero video screen tech guy.

Album News! Direction Of The Heart – Released October 21st, 2022

Early birthday present! Thank you, Simple Minds!

OMG…I don’t even know where else to begin or what else to say here other than …. SQUEEEEE!!!

Russell Mael guesting on a track! Fucking hell! That is so fucking awesome! I’m betting Jim would have been like a kid in a candy store with that one. Jeez-o!

And, they are performing in Leeds on Sept. 17th for this BBC Radio 2 weekender thingy going on there!

I want to pre-order EVERYTHING! But I need to keep money for Saturday’s gig at Blenheim Palace, so it’ll have to wait. I missed out on a test pressing for Walk Between Worlds. The same will happen again. Never mind. Doesn’t matter.

Anyway…all the info is on their social media. I will never get to be armed with any exclusives. I’m ‘just another fan’ – but hey ho. That’s okay. I love this band to the moon and back no matter what.

Vision Thing has now had an official release. Here’s the video. Enjoy! And happy pre-ordering. (I’ve yet to get a cassette for ANYONE that has bought out a cassette – Pathfinders excepted – it was the only option in that case. I am SOOOOO getting a cassette copy of this!)



Link to pre-order: https://SimpleMinds.lnk.to/DirectionOfTheHeartFA

Review: Crowded House – OVO Hydro, Glasgow – 10 June, 2022

I am starting to warm to the Hydro as a concert venue. The only fly in the ointment left for it is its location. It’s not in the most convenient of locales. It’s beautifully positioned as far as aesthetics go. Sharing its space near the Armadillo, Finnieston crane and with Pacific Quay and the Science Centre on the opposite side of the Clyde, and with the Squinty bridge in view – the aesthetic really does work. 

I’d like to say that it’s the public transport letting it down, but…it just isn’t that well catered for with public transport links anyway. There is a train station nearby – Exhibition station, but that’s only really serviceable from/via Central station, so us in the north of the city who have Queen Street as our train arrival point into the city can’t really make use of that. The only other option would be to take the subway and get off at either Kelvinhall or Cessnock. Of the two it’s actually easier to get out at Cessnock and cross the Clyde by the footbridge at Pacific Quay than it is to navigate your way down from Kelvinhall. 

Weather is also an issue – ALWAYS an issue in Glasgow! Lol.

The choice for us yesterday was to take a taxi there. I pre-booked one to come and collect us at 5.45pm. Doors opened to the Hydro at 6.30pm. I tried booking the taxi for 6pm but all the drivers were booked for then so tried 5.45pm instead and was able to book. I also pre-booked a taxi to come and collect us after the show at 11pm.

The south Clyde view around 6.15pm
The view an hour later from inside the OVO Hydro Level 2

We arrived in plenty of time. It had only just passed 6pm. People were already queuing to go in, which I found rather surprising as there was no general admission standing space in front of the stage as there was with the Simple Minds gig. For Crowded House it was a fully seated affair. This is only my third concert experience in the Hydro and the first I had experienced as a fully seated arena. It seemed a bit daft to me – but I guess there being seats splayed out on the floor like that meant a premium ticket price could be charged as opposed to a general admission charge. 

With sunny skies and time to kill we (we being myself and my usual gig buddy, Birdy) decided to take a stroll over the Clyde and grab a coffee at one of the coffee houses near Pacific Quay. The Costa at the building opposite BBC Scotland HQ was closed, but the Starbucks on the other side of the road was still open. Coffee, tea and various foodstuffs were devoured. Just as we were finishing up our food and drink, the skies blackened and we decided to nip back over to the Hydro before the heavens opened. We only just made it before getting a thorough soaking. Knowing that we would soon be hearing the likes of ‘Weather With You’ and ‘Four Seasons In One Day’ seemed incredibly appropriate. Those Finn compositions were absolutely made for Glasgow. 

We milled about for a bit. Went upstairs, took in the view of the Clyde from the standing bar area (see pic) and then went and got seated. I had a seat next to a husband and wife and got chatting to them. Birdy and I had bought our tickets to the gig at separate times so we weren’t seated together but, as it turned out, the seats to my right stayed vacant so we were able to sit together anyway.

The gig had been scheduled to start at 8.30pm and was listed as ‘No support’, so it was surprising to find Liam Finn coming out to the stage just after 8pm to perform a small set. He sounds so much like his dad in singing style. A pretty good guitarist too. He only performed a quick set of around 20-25 minutes. With him finishing at around 8.25pm it seemed unlikely Crowded House would be appearing five minutes later. They arrived on the stage at 8.45pm to a very warm round of applause. They started the show with a fantastic rendition of Distant Sun. There were some newer songs in amongst the set that I am only vaguely familiar with. I’ve only played their most recent album release a couple of times but the songs are already becoming familiar to me. 

Both Neil and Nick were up for the craic and had some great patter with the crowd. Neil even started a completely off-the-cuff made on the fly composition that he called ‘Hi-Viz Jacket’ and was getting the crowd to sing along to. 

I recorded Fall At Your Feet – but I should have kept recording instead of ending it where I did as Neil got the crowd into yet another sing along and it was just beautiful. Really magical.

Along the way Neil was listening to the crowd call outs, trying to hear what people were saying and actually legitimately interested in hearing any requests that came his way. After they performed ‘Black And White Boy’ someone called out “LESTER!” Not familiar with the entire Crowded House back catalogue, they were requesting a song. Neil obliged and they performed it impromptu. At the end of the song, Neil explained that he obliged the request as it linked to the previous song – both of them being about family dogs. 

For me this is when the show really started to go up a gear. They performed ‘Something So Strong’ and then the song I was really hoping they’d play and performed ‘When You Come’, which was just gorgeous!

Then a big block of hits… ‘Four Seasons In One Day, ‘Weather With You’, ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’ and ‘It’s Only Natural’ all followed in quick succession. They hadn’t taken a break all night until this point for a brief break before a wonderful encore which included another fabulous sing along on ‘World Where You Live’ and the surprise of the night, an awesome rendition of ‘I Got You’. Finally, the show ended with the appropriate and sublime ‘Better Be Home Soon’.



What a gig! They were utterly fantastic. The vocal harmonies between Neil and Liam are splendid. And their guitar playing is wonderfully complementary to one another. Elroy, Neil’s other son, is great on drums. Nick Seymour is a stalwart as Crowded House’s bassman. Mitchell Froom is fabulous on keys. And they have a great guy on percussion as well. 

I don’t know if when we went through the pandemic and the Hydro was being used as the NHS Louisa Jordan Covid-19 vaccine centre that allowed them to sort out the acoustics of the place when it went back to being a concert venue or what – but these two most recent gigs I’ve experienced there, Simple Minds and now Crowded House – the acoustics were great both times. Flawless for Simple Minds. And the only minor cripe I had about last night was initially I felt Neil’s voice was a little hard to pick up at times but it eventually got sorted. To be honest, it only really seemed to be an issue with songs I wasn’t so familiar with and I was trying to listen to the lyrics.


I haven’t been to a lot of gigs this year so far. The vast majority of them being Simple Minds – quelle surprise – but I have to say that Crowded House last night are really in pole position with the Minds for gig of the year for 2022! Two Hydro gigs going neck and neck for the title! Who’d have thunk it?!

Crowded House are still touring the UK right now. They’re in Scarborough tonight and have gigs in Cardiff, Birmingham, Hampton Court Palace in London, and Manchester still to come. I’d recommend you catch them if you can. 

End note – the taxi ride home was timed to perfection. I started to worry I had booked the taxi too early but I needn’t have worried. The band wrapped up the gig around 10.45pm which gave us enough time to scoot across the road to the Campanile Hotel and be collected from the car park. We were back in the door home around 11.15pm. It was a great night.

Waiting for the taxi at the end of the night.

Jim Kerr – The Belief Academy

I’ve come up with an idea. For wanting to be able to interview Jim and knowing that as much as I would like for it to happen this blog is NEVER going to be seen as ‘professional’ enough to get the chance to interview him, then…let’s examine, dissect and discuss things he has said in other interviews, either past or recent. 

To begin with, two recent interviews come to mind. One is from 1989 and the release of Street Fighting Years. There is a part of this interview I found most surprising! One, for the Jim Kerr of 1989 to say such a thing, and for the feeling that the Jim of 2022 most likely not being in agreement with the Jim of 1989 in the present day. I’ll come to the second interview in a moment, but for now, let’s discuss the first.

The piece of footage should automatically play from the correct point but if it doesn’t, play it from 06:55 to hear what he says.

I’ve never heard him be quite so… I’m not even sure what words to use here? Humble…dismissive…doubtful…offhand…. Yeah, I’m not really sure what the right word to put here is. My point is, it seems a statement very unlike Jim to make in terms of his songwriting, “I don’t think I do a very good job, but it’s the best I can do.” I was genuinely astounded by that. 

I guess one could argue he’s not talking about his songwriting, his lyric writing, per se but more his overall contribution to the band dynamic. Perhaps he is trying to talk in broader terms as he seems to suggest that what he feels is his contribution to the art, the ‘product’ of Simple Minds is to ‘package’ the music in the best way possible. That still makes that statement one that I would have never expected to hear from him. Its tone and its sense of doubt. Its modesty and … humility.

It’s not something that feels very forthcoming from the Jim Kerr of 2022, and I don’t think the Jim Kerr of 1979 had it. The Kerr of 1979 had nothing to lose though. The Kerr of 2022 has an Ivor Novello, 60 million album sales, a 20 album back catalogue and countless successful chart hits and tours to counter any of the doubt that would ever creep in. So, the Kerr of 1989 should fall somewhere in between, right? So, why does he not seem to? Why would he say something like that in 1989? They’ve just had their first UK Number 1 single with Belfast Child…let alone what has come before it – some dozen other UK Top 40 hit singles (EveryHit.com). Was it purely an exercise in humility? To stay grounded? Perhaps. Who needs to show modesty now with the wealth of accolades to one’s name, right? 

The second piece of conversation I saw that piqued my interest came from a video clip from 1998. Jim is doing this piece to camera about the recording of Neapolis and talking about Glitterball and what it’s about (interesting to hear how he described what the song was about – made me hear the track with fresh ears it has). He then talks about … inspiration and guidance I guess one would view it. He says, “I would love to put together some place where people are taught – not really taught how to do things but maybe helped to believe in themselves more. I think belief is everything.”

The clip should (again) play from the right point but if it doesn’t, view it from 03:05 to narrow out the piece. 

I felt that this is what Jim tried to do with me back in the mists of time. He … I was going to say ‘obviously’ but it was never obvious to me… I’ve never really been able to accept it…but there must have been something in why he gave such … credence to my art…to me? I have always dismissed it as he was ‘just being nice.’ I’ve never understood it. I’ve never felt worthy of it. And because of these things I feel as though I have made him feel so very tired of me. Because I just kept on trying to prove my worth. To feel justified, vindicated…accepting of it. And it absolutely made me fall in love with him. That part of it has never, ever gone away. I don’t think it ever will. 

So, these two statements almost cancel each other out in my interpretation of things. To say that “belief is everything” and then to say of your own artistic ability “I don’t think I do a very good job…” I guess it’s the “…but it’s the best I can do”, that is the key. I never ever feel like the things I do ARE the best things I can do. I always feel utterly inept and am always questioning my ability to do anything. If I enjoy doing things, it’s half the battle won. It’s usually the enjoyment I derive from it that spurs me on with things rather than any real sense I am any good at it. Like now, for example, with uni – it’s the enjoyment I derive from the discovery of things – learning new things every day that spurs me on. Am I actually any good at learning? Do I truly have any academic ability? Will I ever get to be anywhere near where I aspire to be? Probably not. In all real likelihood? No. So, this is where I need to learn from Jim. It shouldn’t matter to me. I keep having to remind myself ALL THE TIME that ‘the race is the prize’. That the growth comes from the learning – not the university degree at the end.

Theorised name for Jim’s proposed ‘school’.

I feel rather sad that instead of some kind of ‘academy’ that Jim was pondering wanting to put together in that video clip from 1998, what he actually ended up doing was establishing a hotel. I think Taormina probably had enough of those to be fair. I like the idea of a Socrates style academy. SocKERRtes – yeah. Lol. Doesn’t really work as well as ArKERRmedes. It could have easily been the ArKERRmedes Academy – or even better, the ArtKERRmedes Academy! Lol. I’ll get my coat.

On a serious note, that academy would have been grand. And on a personal note, I need to keep reminding myself to hold fast, to stay positive, to back my ability, to BELIEVE in my potential. To have faith in myself! I can’t keep expecting people to show faith in me if I have none of it myself! And if I keep believing that I CAN’T do it, or I won’t be any good at it, then I’ll just compound that belief won’t I? 

So, there are two questions I’d ask Jim: Where do you think the line between self-belief and complete delusion of one’s own ability lies? And, what happened to the ‘belief academy’ idea? Answers on a postcard some day? I wish!

When Friday Comes…

I am ssooo looking forward to Friday. After having experienced a concert by one of the most talented songwriters in the world last week, this Friday means another night spent in the presence of one of the world’s best songwriters yet again! How spoiled am I?

Neil Finn – in my opinion – does not get anywhere NEAR the recognition he deserves for his songwriting. He’s fucking AMAZING! And he sounds exactly the same as he did 30 years ago.

I can’t believe it has taken me THIS LONG to go and see Crowded House. Rescheduled, and rescheduled again thanks to old ‘Rona – the day is almost upon us.

I hope – in the strictest of acoustic terms – they sound as good as SM sounded at the Hydro back in early April. I’m hoping the Hydro doesn’t let me down with this one…or CH’s sound engineer for that matter.

And I REALLY hope they play this on Friday night. 🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻

It’s been my earworm on and off for the past two weeks.

I think I’m going to need to take a few tissues with me on Friday.

Review: Jimmy Webb (+Ashley Campbell) – The Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh – 3 June, 2022

We’re having a bit of a train timetable crisis in Scotland at the moment with services running on sparse timetables. Around a week before this gig I looked at the train timetable to see when the last train from Waverley station back to Queen Street would be. The last service last night was at 10.15pm – too early for it to be practical for me to get, let alone even go to the gig at all, in all honesty. A stay overnight was out of the question. Too short notice which meant it would be too pricey and I really shouldn’t have to be spending the night in Edinburgh – not coming from Glasgow! (I’d travel a similar distance from Luton to see shows and gigs in London and NEVER stayed in London.)

I thought a coach too and back was going to incur a similar cost as the coach to Edinburgh airport, but of course the companies have to stick on a 60% markup on fares to take you to/from an airport – happens the world over. I was pleasantly surprised that a coach to Edinburgh was only £3.60 each way so I decided the coach would do it. There were coaches leaving every 30 minutes from around 9.30pm so I knew I wouldn’t get stranded. 

I caught the coach at 4.15pm and arrived at Princes Street at around 5.30pm. It was a smooth journey. There was one rather worrying element early on. There was a stop just outside greater Glasgow where the M8 and M73 converge near Bargeddie and the driver seemed not to be able to take the coach out of the lower curb resting position – as if the hydraulics to lift the suspension back up had jammed. My heart began to sink. Although I had allowed for some time in case of jams or suchlike, I didn’t take into account time for a total coach breakdown! After a few minutes the hydraulics on the coach seemed to work again and we were off. Apart from that scare, the journey went without a hitch.

I had time to meander to the venue. I had 90 minutes to get there. I arrived there just after 6pm and just had a wander about the area. I had sod-all money and had hardly anything to eat, just enough to keep me going. I was quite thirsty but didn’t want to spend out on a drink so I bought myself an apple which was crisp and juicy enough to act as both thirst-quencher and stomach-filler. It had been in the chiller and was quite cold so it was very refreshing. I sat in a nearby park, enjoying the sun and watching the goings on around the park whilst eating the apple.



Doors opened to the venue at 7pm and I joined a small queue that was forming a few minutes before the hour. We were promptly let in. I spent a penny in the gender neutral(!) loos (which does feel a bit strange when you’re walking into the space and men are there washing their hands), then took my seat.

I was glad to have arrived as promptly as I had done as Webb’s support act, Ashley Campbell (Glen Campbell’s daughter, no less) started her support set right on 7.30pm. I really enjoyed her set a lot. I will freely admit my prejudice to country music but I was so moved by her performance. She has a very sweet voice and she’s a very natural and modest performer. Her accompaniment was a man named Thor Jensen who has his own album out. He had great harmonies with Ashley and they performed really well together. The lyrics to the songs she performed were just lovely and I cried several times, esp. at the end when she performed a song called Remembering about her dad and about how the Altheimers ravaged his ability to remember things. It was really poignant and beautiful. In the footage below, Ashley and Thor perform Tom Waits’ Long Way Home. I think I can say I had an epiphany and am now a fan of Ashley Campbell after last night.


Jimmy Webb arrived on the stage at 8.30pm to a very warm round of applause. It was a crowd of country music fans, as well as Jimmy Webb fans. A thoroughly appreciative crowd and Webb certainly did not disappoint, leading straight off with a rendition of Galveston.  

It was quite a 50/50 split between music performance and conversation piece. Webb is quite the story-teller and has many tales to tell. He talked about his upbringing (some of which I captured on film) in Oklahoma (and like a few other people I know who grew up or lived in Oklahoma) which he compounded the general consensus about Oklahoma is the roads out of there! Lol. He talked about his early success, Grammy award nominations and wins, working with Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and, of course, Glen Campbell. He had quite a few political views too, which he didn’t shy away from discussing. He talked about how Wichita Lineman came about, a spontaneous meeting with Louis Armstrong, Kenye West knicking a song of his to put down Taylor Swift (Jimmy was NOT happy about that!). He cracked a lot of jokes. There was quite a lot of humour and in between a fantastic repertoire of songs. 



It’s quite the catalogue and he only performed a small selection of them. He’s an accomplished pianist. Is he a great singer? Well, no – by his own admission. He is a songwriter and he’s 75 (looking good for it though, it has to be said). It was a thoroughly entertaining evening.

About two thirds of the way through the show, during a quiet lull in the show, someone called out ‘P.F. Sloan, Jimmy!’ Webb’s retort, ‘Hang on a minute. I’m thinking.’ Then another person calls out. ‘Okay. I heard you the first time. Give me a minute. Let me figure something out here.’ After a few minutes talking about how the song came about, he then went into it as requested. Whoever that person was that called out the request, kudos to you because it became the highlight of the show for me. 

I had to check the time now and then. As it drew closer to 10.30 I started to become mindful of how much time I’d need to get back to the Royal Mile and to the coach station for home. I had booked the 11.30pm coach back. Just after 10.40pm I decided to make my move. Webb just started with MacArthur Park and as reluctant as I was to leave before the end of the show, I knew I had to leave now. I spent another penny and off I went.

I had a mile long walk to go, alone, in a quieter area of Edinburgh and I was BRICKING IT! I contemplated grabbing a bus to get me back to Princes Street but I thought by the time I wanted for one to come by, etc, etc, I was best off just to keep pushing on. I get to Waverley station and have to go down that bloody staircase. Down, down, down. Then I cut through Waverley station itself and then get to the escalators taking you out the the other side to see that the ones higher up the staircase aren’t working. Oh, great! It’s 11.23 by the time I get to Princes Street and I still have about a quarter of a mile to go to get to the bus station. When I finally get to the bus station, my coach is right at the end of the bays! I can barely walk anymore. I get to the coaches’ step at 11.27! I’m then grappling with my phone to find my ticket to show to the driver. I take a seat at 11.29 – feeling as if I’ve just run a marathon – but I made it! Thirsty as hell and no drink at all but I made the coach and I was heading home. I had money left for a taxi back home from Buchanan bus station. It was all good.

It was a really good concert.