Kelly Jones + The Wind And The Wave – New Theatre, Oxford – September 18th, 2019

It was a new venue for me. I hadn’t been to a gig at the New Theatre before. I had wanted to try and catch a show on the previous leg of the tour in June/July but money was just too tight at that point, and although money is still tight, things are set to ease somewhat very soon. Kelly had swung by closer to home on the last leg, having dates in London and Cambridge, so Oxford was a stretch in distance to cover, but I would get to see the tour’s finale. Not an entirely bad thing.

The show started promptly at 7.30pm with support act The Wind And The Wave. A duo from Austin, TX, comprising Patricia Lynn and Dwight Baker. Kelly appeared on stage to introduce them saying “Patti could sing the fucking phonebook.”

I enjoyed their set. Due to the prompt start, there was the obligatory interruptions from endless latecomers. Made all the worse for some of us. I was right by the entrance point for the middle section of the circle so the interruptions were constant. The ushers kept latecomers at bay to try and minimise the interruptions, but seated where I was it helped little.

But I still managed to enjoy their set. Dwight was full in interesting banter between songs which sometimes Patti interjected with or elaborated on. Minimal instrumentation, just an acoustic guitar with Dwight and some electronic percussion triggered by foot from both of them. They had fantastic harmonies. Favourites they performed were The Redhead In Aberdeen, Happiness Is Not A Place, This House Is A Hotel, and Human Beings Let You Down. I’d happily see them again. Just beautiful, simplistic music that is beautifully expressive and on any subject affecting the human condition…from the sublime to the ridiculous.

A short break and stage set up before Kelly arrived on stage at 8.45pm. A brief hello and then straight on with things. A few slow numbers to open and just the use of acoustic or electric guitar from Kelly with either piano or violin – sometimes both – accompanying him.

Of course I was also there to see Cherisse. Out she came about the 5th song in and instantly reminded me what I have been missing while Simple Minds are on a break for this year. I MISS MY TUTOR! Lol. Yes…it’s a contradiction, I know…as while she’s touring, she’s too busy touring for any tuition. Still, with the money situ having been as tight as a duck’s proverbial of late, I’d have not been able to afford lessons anyway. Chicken and egg…

You’ll have to excuse my ignorance on my knowledge of Stereophonics songs and my appalling memory to recall the songs I heard last night. But I will do my best to go over the standouts for me.

The first definitely was Kelly talking about Stuart Cable. It was quite a reminiscent homage but it was wonderful to hear. He then performed Before Anyone Knew Our Name. Another highlight was a brilliant version of Mr Writer. “For the past 20 years I’ve been having to explain what this song is about. For the record, I don’t hate journalists. This song isn’t about a journalist.”

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He performed a new song from the forthcoming Stereophonics album, Kind, called Fly Like An Eagle.

Below is a video I recorded of him performing I Wanna Get Lost With You.

A couple of covers were also a standout. Kris Kristofferson’s Help Me Make It Through The Night was beautiful, and The Wind And The Wave joined Kelly on stage for a fabulous version of Stop Dragging My Heart Around.

Towards the end of the show some “hits” – the most familiar Stereophonics tracks I know – were performed. I never knew the story of Local Boy In The Photograph. Also there was a wonderful rendition of Maybe Tomorrow.

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Finally the most wonderful encore of Dakota that had the crowd up off their seats and singing along (me included!).

There are a few clips on my Facebook page if you want to look, including that wonderful Dakota finale.

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I tried so hard to get some good photos of the stage set. I really loved the backdrop. It was a simple set up, but it was just visually quite lovely. The stage arrangement was great too and the lighting worked really well. The staging was expertly done. And the acoustics and sound was absolutely spot on.

I’ve shared a few pics but they’re not the best.

A fabulous gig. I’d definitely see Kelly again in future.

Don’t You (Forget About Me) – Live In The City Of Angels

I think I may actually like this more than the Love Song offering. What’s going on, guv? Lol

I’m still not sure about how much overdubbing has been done…dunno.
Jim’s voice seems more natural and recorded “on the night” than it does on Love Song.

I’m feeling a little more optimistic after this.

The other thing I would say is…it lacks a little bit of … guts … musically….acoustically. I mean, it’s a sonic assault to the ears, being at a Simple Minds concert, and this sounds like someone’s turned all the amps down. Dunno…

Maybe it was the way I listened to it? Through my in-ear phones on Spotify? It just …doesn’t fill the space I was expecting it to sonically. I’m not wording it right, but I know what I feel it’s lacking. I’m just not articulating it very well.

I’ll have to listen to Love Song again and see if it suffers the same thing.

I’m assuming like other recent releases, we’ll get a new song to listen to each week or so until release day.

Live In The City Of…Angels – Out October 4th

Well, here is the news!

And here also, from the album, is Love Song – sounding overdubbed (Jim’s voice, at least) to buggery.

Look…I hate to criticise, I really do. BUT…if you are going to release a live album…have the bloody courage of your convictions! If you want to keep that reputation of being one of the best live bands in the world…WHY overdub “live” albums?

Okay, I am basing this purely on the sound of Love Song. I’ve not heard anything else from the album, and I wasn’t at that gig…but Jim did write a post after the tour about how run-down and full of lurgy he was feeling during the tour. No one I knew who went to the gigs heard anything up with his voice.

I’m sorry, but to me, overdubs feel deceptive.

And he’ll be pissed off with me for my preliminary critique. But it is how I feel. And I am NOT going to lie. It’s just my first impression over what I’ve heard.

Sorry, Sir. But if I can’t be honest with you, then I might as well just…do as Annie Mitchell suggested and go and “step off the planet”.

But it’s a first impression, based on one song from it. I’ll no doubt invest in it, listen to it and give it a full and fair critique on release date.

Available to pre-order…details can be found on Simple Minds’ social media platforms.

Why I Love…Oh Jungleland

Glasgow is now a city I am longing to live in. The first time I visited Glasgow was in November, 2016. I felt an instant affiliation with the place. It had been many years I had wanted to visit Scotland’s most populous city. My first (and subsequently ONLY one up until that point) visit to Scotland had been a 16 hour whirlwind visit to Edinburgh and, to be honest, Edinburgh really didn’t do much for me at the time, and so I had always wished to see Glasgow to compare and contrast.

Well, it only took me another 15 years to get to Glasgow! It was a “freebie”. I had auditioned and secured a place on quiz show Fifteen To One, so my trip was all expenses paid. I arrived on the evening of November 5th – Bonfire Night. I was up on the 11th floor of the Jurys Inn on Jamaica Street. I may not be a “kid called hope” and the only reason I was holding out my hand was to film the view of the Clyde from “this highrise land”. And I wasn’t seeing the Northern Lights, but I was seeing fireworks being fired off all over the south and east sides of the city. It was beautiful.

Obviously my soundtrack for that night WASN’T Oh Jungleland but Colours Fly And Catherine Wheel.

The first thing I did when I arrived in Glasgow was to get a cab to the Old Dumbarton Road and to Tantrum Doughnuts. I bought three of them to go so I could enjoy them once I got to the Jurys Inn. As I waited for the taxi to come and collect me and get me to the hotel, I was offered a cigarette by a very dishevelled (in all likelihood homeless) but kindly gent. “No, I’m sorry. I don’t smoke, but thanks for offering anyway.” Even a Weegie that hard on his luck would offer a complete stranger a cigarette. Was I a little scared? I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t. That section of Old Dumbarton Road at that time was not exactly teeming with people and it was already dark and I was alone. Despite feeling a little vulnerable, I felt a huge sense of being welcomed.

Anyway…on to the song itself!

Uplifting from the get go with a fun little keyboard melody and a great guitar riff from Mr Burchill. Subtle yet perfect basslines from Mr Giblin and immaculate Gaynor drumbeat.

Only Jim could make a bleak and cold winter in Glasgow sound romantic “you’ve got the long nights” – put a parentheses of lines around it “you’ve got the love drugs” and “you got the heartbeat that spirals to heaven” and you have an irresistible romantic image of the city.

It has been a favourite Simple Minds song since I first heard it back in 1985. The only album I ever had of Simple Minds’ for many years was Once Upon A Time. I played the whole album regularly once I had it…but I never really kept up the momentum of being a Simple Minds fan. Never felt compelled to explore the back catalogue. Lost touch with them after a year or so after OUAT was released. Remember liking Belfast Child a few years later…but that was it.

Oh Jungleland to me is much more a homage to Glasgow as a whole. Waterfront concentrates more on the Clyde to me. Mr Kerr may tell me otherwise.

It’s uplifting and gives a sense of belonging. It feels like it says within the context of the lyrics…“This is my city. My people. It’s the city that made me.” The place has a beauty all its own. I see it every time I’m there. And that phrase…the city’s moto has never been a truer symbol of a city I have ver seen “people make Glasgow”. They do.

They place I grew up in is an area of south-western Sydney called Busby. On a street called Ayrshire Street. The family surname is McInnes (that’s the Scottish version of the spelling, either this or Mac). I have a mixture of Irish, English, German and Aborigine (the Scots blood is in my siblings – I should have actually been a Lawson, but took the McInnes name for convenience – well, more had it foisted on me). I can’t tell you what kind of annoying hell that was growing up – having the name Larelle – which NOBODY in Australia seems able to pronounce properly! – combine that with McInnes – then put Ayrshire Street, Busby into the mix and I DREADED being asked for my name and address over the phone! At least in person I could just ask for a pen and spell it all. Phone calls that I knew I needed to make where these questions would be asked became ritual “Larelle = L – A – R – E – double L – E. McInnes = M – C – I – double N – E – S. Fifteen – ONE FIVE Aryshire Street: A – Y – R – S – H – I – R – E street. Busby = B – U – S – B – Y. I DO NOT miss those days! And, yes, I still do have to do spelling of my name and address, but now in the days of the Internet, not so much. Phew!

Back then I would have NEVER foreseen the notion that one day I would be moving to Scotland. It was never really something on my radar. There was always more of an allure to the UK, culturally. The music in particular. I think I would have described myself as (erroneously) as an Anglophile. But I suppose the pull was stronger to England, initially. But the pull to Scotland gained more force. And over the past 10 years became a pipe dream of getting out of England and moving to. But it never seemed something remotely tangible until about 12 months ago.

So soon, somewhere in Scotland will be home. And with any luck, “Oh Jungleland” will be the place I call “home sweet home” – or as a little plaque I saw in the market stalls in Merchant City on my most recent trip up had said “Hame Sweet Hame”. I was SO tempted to buy it, but I didn’t. Hopefully the market seller will be there in several months time when there is a wall to hang the plaque on.

And that is a rather personal account of why I love Oh Jungleland.

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