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.

Water And Courage….

So much to tell, so little time. Back safe and sound in Glasgow but now assignment number four looms large. I have a week to get to grips with Plato, Socrates, Laches and Nicias – but just for tonight, I’ll think about “ArKERRmedes” and baths and being dripping wet.

I’ll try and make time for a review of the gig tomorrow but I have much study to do. No promises. Until then….a tantalising glimpse of the latest Mojo magazine. EUREKA!

A Day Away…

My flight home this evening was cancelled and my very gracious host is keeping me accommodated for another night.

All the breakdown of the gig will come soon. It might be a short review when I got to it.

The very short review is – myself and my gig buddy, Ruth, got absolutely DRENCHED and it took about 2.5 hours to drive back to her house afterwards.

All three bands were amazing.

A few pics for now.

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.

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.

Touching Base With The Anchoress


Yay! It’s Friday – I’m In Love …. is the new Bandcamp Friday offering from The Anchoress. Officially released on Tuesday (don’t ask me, I think it was Bandcamp’s decision as an end-of-the-month special or something?), it’s the latest regular release that The Anchoress has made.

Catherine is currently working on a covers album – covers? “Re-imagines”? Musical homages? It seems the term ‘cover’ has some disdain or condescending tones attached to it (not for me, I’d like to point out!) – until such time as there is deemed a more apt description, it is what I’ll go with.

I digress.

Catherine has been recording tracks like these during the pandemic and making them available at regular intervals.

This time it has been the turn of The Cure’s Friday I’m In Love. It’s a gorgeous thing. All of Catherine’s covers have been wonderful. Keep an eye on her Bandcamp site for more releases at: https://iamtheanchoress.bandcamp.com/

As a personal side note – I am off to Edinburgh tonight to see Jimmy Webb. I’m both looking forward to it but a little apprehensive at the same time. Not about the gig itself just more that – it’s a bank holiday, it’s Edinburgh, and I’m travelling alone and won’t be getting back to Glasgow until well after midnight! Wish me luck!

Review: Sarah Brown Sings Mahalia Jackson


“It’s been a long time coming”, as Sam Cooke sang, “but a change is gonna come.” The time has come for Sarah Brown. Long established as a backing vocalist for a number of world renowned musical artists including; Stevie Wonder, George Michael, Bryan Ferry and Duran Duran, Sarah is currently on tour with Simple Minds.

It is during her past 12 years with Simple Minds, led by bolstering confirmation, mentorship and camaraderie from Minds frontman, Jim Kerr, that Ms Brown has stepped out beyond the backing vocalist background. Afforded the freedom and confidence to take on more of a co-vocalist role within the Simple Minds touring set-up has given Sarah the added confidence she freely admits to have lacked in the past. 

This strength in confidence has led on to Sarah releasing her debut solo album, ‘Sarah Brown Sings Mahalia Jackson’. Jackson was the leading positive figurehead for the young Brown growing up in the quiet Buckinghamshire town of Aylesbury. 

The album is a joyous and empowering homage to a gospel great. 

Opener ‘Nobody Knows’ emulates musically Sarah’s whole journey to this point. Starting so quietly and solemnly until BAM – we get into the guts of it and here she comes, telling us in a not-to-be-reckoned-with style, “You think you’ve had troubles? You ain’t had NOTHING compared to ME, mister! But I didn’t let it get me down. No way, no how! Let’s kick this stuff into touch!”

Lead single from the album, ‘I’m On My Way’, emphasises that in some respects Sarah’s journey is only just beginning. It’s happening! She’s coming for us! Blessed be! 

The standout at this early point in the album not only is very obviously Sarah’s voice, but also the wonderful piano work from Colin Good. It’s an instrument made to accompany Sarah’s voice and Good is masterful in weaving that accompanying instrument around Sarah’s exquisite alto tone. 

‘Didn’t It Rain’ is soul and gospel richness. If I was Noah and Sarah came a-knocking there’d be NO WAY I’d not be letting her in, geez! I could play this track most days in this city I love (Glasgow) and it would be the best response to ward off any ‘blues’ from the endless rain this “Dear Green Place” seems to require to stay green. 

On Sarah’s interpretation of ‘Summertime’, the blend of bass, organ and piano are as heavenly as Sarah’s voice. Kudos to Luke Smith and Tom Wheatley for their musicianship on organ and bass, respectively. This version of ‘Summertime’ is a beautiful mellow, languid piece. An adult lullaby – if such a thing can exist? So soothing. Sublime. Really give it the attention it deserves. Make sure you have a quiet 35 minutes to really immerse yourself in the experience of listening to this album, especially when it comes to this track. 

And if you think I’ve forgotten to mention someone on the musician list? No, no, no…Jerome Brown’s time comes with the next song. I hope you didn’t get too comfortable listening to that wonderfully languid version of ‘Summertime’? Because you’re gonna be getting up out of your seat for ‘Walking Over Heaven’. The second single off the album, released just a few weeks before the album’s release is rally-calling uplifting dynamo of gospel soul bliss. Thumping, hollering glory! And those backing vocals – oh my word! And how great is it that Sarah is the lead having HER vocals being backed up?! About time!

A simple prayer. A simple wish. Expressed angelically. ‘Just a Closer Walk’ is that most splendid of blues gospel tunes, all in the subtlety of it is its power. One that slowly builds to a modest crescendo. It’s pretty close to perfection, this track. 

There’s a storm brewing. A dark timbre and metre. ‘Trouble of the World’ doesn’t lull you into any false sense of security. It’s straight down the line. These are dark times. What drama this song has! And what an ending! It’s a heavy piece and very dramatic, but again, exquisitely executed. 

‘Joshua’ is a fantastic blend of blues, gospel and jazz. An absolute foot-tapper. Short and to the point. Nothing is wasted here. 

If you aren’t brought to tears by Sarah’s version of ‘Amazing Grace’, you’re made of much tougher stuff than I am. In fact I’d be brutal enough to say that you might like to check if there is a heart inside that chest of yours. 

In all, Ms Brown’s debut solo album is an immaculate homage to an incredible, inspiring woman, who in turn has given us another incredible and inspiring woman in her wake. 

Us Simple Minds fans have been blessed to have experienced and enjoyed Sarah’s voice and spirit for a number of years now and we all feel so immensely proud that ‘Oor Sadie’ has found her wings and is soaring high. 

If you’re seeking music that uplifts and brings you joy and has elements of jazz, blues and gospel to it, I cannot recommend ‘Sarah Brown Sings Mahalia Jackson’ strongly enough.

Sarah’s done ‘Halie proud. She’s done all of us fans proud. Most importantly, she’s done herself proud. Hallelujah, Ms Brown. Hallelujah!

Sarah Brown Sings Mahalia Jackson is out now and available for purchase through Sarah’s website at: https://www.sarahbrownofficial.com/