A Driving Instructor's Blog

Music

Had a good night out last night at the MEN in Manchester. Mötley Crüe are in their middle of their farewell tour and their main support act is Alice Cooper.Alice Cooper and his band

Surprisingly, I’ve never been to an Alice Cooper show before – and I don’t really know why. I like his music, and I certainly like him as a person (he has his own radio show over on Planet Rock). I’d been waiting for him to tour and the alert came through that he was supporting Mötley Crüe… well, the rest is history, as they say.

Actually, thinking a bit more about why I haven’t seen him before, I think it was hearing more of his music on Planet Rock that did it. I realised there was a lot more to him than I had always believed.Ryan Roxie and Nita Strauss

He has a brilliant collection of musicians with him at the moment, but even at 67 Alice can still mix it pretty well. As he says on his radio show, he doesn’t smoke, doesn’t drink, and he keeps fit – and you can see how that works for him.Alice Cooper band

Since his show was shorter than I guess it would have been had he been headlining, he basically played most of his major hits (of which their are many), including No More Mr Nice Guy, I’m Eighteen, Billion Dollar Babies, Poison, Feed My Frankenstein, and of course School’s Out. The whole show was a huge pantomime, with Alice donning various costumes and using various props, such as a guillotine, where he is beheaded; and a Frankenstein monster.Alice and the Nurse, and the Frankenstein monster

It was a really entertaining show, and I wish it could have gone on for longer.

At this point, I should mention that there was another support band on first, called The One Hundred. God help us if this is the future of rock music – although this is obviously a personal view, they were bloody awful. If nothing else, they were totally out of place alongside the likes of Alice Cooper and Mötley Crüe .

It’s a trend these days that concerts have three acts – the main band and two support acts. Although I have seen some good support bands, as the number of such shows increases, so does the number of mediocre support acts I have endured. In some cases, all these bands do is reduce the amount of time the headliners are on stage for,  and I’m not sure I like that. Mind you, it can go the other way, too. Earlier this year I went to see Black Star Riders (my primary reason for going) at Rock City, and they were supporting Europe (my tertiary reason for going). Supporting both were The Amorettes (my secondary reason for going). We left before Europe had finished – they were so tame.

Anyway, I digress. Mötley Crüe came on and did a brilliant set. All the old favourites from their 30 year career were there., such as Girls, Girls, Girls, Same Ol’ Situation, Smokin’ in the Boys’ Room, Shout at the Devil and so on.Vince Neill

As I said at the start, this is their farewell tour, and much has been said of the legal contract they have all signed which says after this there will be no more Mötley Crüe. It’s funny how time affects different people in different ways. Alice Cooper is nearly 70 and looks fit as a fiddle. Mick Mars – Mötley Crüe’s guitarist – is either 60 or 64, and the poor guy looks much older due to his on going health issues, which mean that he can’t bend his back properly and is in pain much of the time. Tommy Lee almost didn’t make these UK gigs due to tendonitis flaring up a few weeks ago while the tour was still in the US.Vince Neill, Mick Mars, Nicky Sixx

In spite of all that, they gave the fans a night to remember.

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Now hold on a minute. I was not a big fan of Demis Roussos’ solo career. That wasn’t my kind of music. Ever. But he was a bona fide mega-star when I was growing up, and a lot of people bought his records. However, I recently became aware of a late-60s prog-rock outfit called Aphrodite’s Child, who were a bit before my time, and I was surprised to hear – at least, I thought I’d heard, then went home and looked it up – that their line-up included Roussos.Demis Roussos

So with that, it is sad to hear that Demis died yesterday.

I was also surprised to discover that Aphrodite’s Child included Vangelis (of Chariots of Fire fame). He said on hearing of Roussos’ death:

As for me, I keep those special memories that we share together those early days and I wish you to be happy wherever you are.

Aphrodite’s Child are worth looking up, as this video shows (remember: it’s from the late-60s/early-70s, so make allowances for choice of clothing and general hirsuteness).

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This is becoming an annual event! My mate from Leeds is a big fan, so I go with him each time they tour – which in Quo’s case is pretty much all year round.Parfitt and Rossi - Leeds 2014

The support was Chas & Dave. I have a lot of respect for them as musicians, but they are not my cup of tea. My mate’s wife was less diplomatic: she hates them! Her face when they started “Rabbit” was a picture.Francis Rossi 2014

The Quo set list was something like this:

  • Caroline
  • Something ’bout You Baby I Like
  • Rain
  • Paper Plane
  • Little Lady
  • Hold You Back
  • Beginning of the End
  • Blue Eyed Lady
  • What You’re Proposing / Down the Dustpipe / Wild Side of Life / Railroad
  • Big Fat Mama
  • The Oriental
  • Creepin’ Up on You
  • Oh Baby
  • In the Army Now
  • Drum Solo (The Caveman)
  • Roll Over Lay Down
  • Down Down
  • Whatever You Want
  • Rockin’ All Over the World

Encore:

  • Burning Bridges (On and Off and on Again)
  • Rock ‘n’ Roll Music / Bye Bye Johnny

Rick Parfitt 2014

Once again, newer bands should take note. Although Quo songs tend to be relatively short and radio-friendly, you were looking at a playing time of well over an hour (based on album track lengths).

You’ve also got to allow for the fact that both Rossi and Parfitt are in their mid-60s, and both have been ill at times in the last couple of years. In fact, this time around they looked fitter and happier than I have seen them since I’ve been attending their gigs.

A very enjoyable way to end the musical year from my perspective. Oh, and I used the same car park as for the Slash gig and got in and out without any fuss.

At the moment, the next gig I’m going to isn’t until March next year.

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Still a little behind with these updates, but on 29 November I went to see Slash with Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators at the Leeds Arena.

I saw Slash last year in Nottingham and it was a great show.It was notable that he had a great support band – The Treatment – who are making a name for themselves in their own right. Well, this time around there were two support bands. The first was an Australian four-piece called Twenty Two Hundred, who were good.Twenty Two Hundred

Even better, though, were California Breed. I’ve been hearing a lot of these on Planet Rock – they’re a “supergroup” consisting of Glenn Hughes, Jason Bonham, and Andrew Watt.California Breed's Glenn Hughes

Glenn Hughes played with Deep Purple and Black Sabbath, and was also a member of Black Country Communion (whom I never got to see before they split). I guess it was only fitting that they ended their set with the Deep Purple song Burn. Guitarist, Andrew Watt, was a revelation.

Myles Kennedy 2014

Slash and Myles Kennedy were on fire, though. The set list was as follows:

  • You’re a Lie
  • Nightrain
  • Standing in the Sun
  • Avalon
  • Back from Cali
  • Withered Delilah
  • You Could Be Mine
  • Ghost
  • Doctor Alibi
  • Out Ta Get Me
  • Wicked Stone
  • Beneath the Savage Sun
  • Mr. Brownstone
  • Rocket Queen
  • Bent to Fly
  • World on Fire
  • Anastasia
  • Sweet Child O’ Mine
  • Slither

Encore:

  • Paradise City

Slash at Leeds Arena 2014Newer bands (like The Pretty Reckless, mentioned previously) should take note. Here we have 20 songs with an average timing of over 4 minutes, so a minimum playing time of 80 minutes. Add to that the various Slash solos – including one that was 10 minutes or more – and you have value for money… with knobs on.

It’s funny when you think about it. Slash pisses around playing solos, and lesser bands piss around doing absolutely nothing between songs. Slash was polished, that’s for sure.

The Arena was taking no prisoners that night, either. They were doing body scans outside, and they’d obviously confiscated some very unusual items (including half bottles of whisky). I decided to take my camera in in full view, and they didn’t give a damn – they were more interested in the signal my business card wallet was giving on the hand scanner!

Oh, yeah. And this was my first visit to the Leeds Arena since the Edward Street/UKCPS car park scam I was involved in about a year ago. This time I used another car park a short distance away from the arena and was in and out with no delays whatsoever. And parking only cost £5.

A great night. The only hiccup was that I got home at 1.30am and had to get up again at 5.00am to pick a pupil up at 6.30am for an 8.10am test. I’d told him he’d better bloody pass getting me up at that time. Fortunately, he did.

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I’m a bit late mentioning this, but I went to see The Pretty Reckless at Rock City a few weeks ago (17 November, to be precise).

I saw them a few years ago at the Leeds O2, where they were supporting Evanescence. I’d had them on my tour alerts and snapped up tickets as soon as they went on sale. I did the same thing this time.The Pretty Reckless - Taylor Momsen

It is a bit difficult to describe this. On the one hand, the music was excellent. However, there simply wasn’t enough of it! The set list, shown below, consisted of a mere 11 songs. The encore was just one song.

  • Follow Me Down
  • Since You’re Gone
  • Sweet Things
  • Miss Nothing
  • House on a Hill
  • Dear Sister
  • Absolution
  • Why’d You Bring a Shotgun to the Party
  • Make Me Wanna Die
  • Heaven Knows
  • Going to Hell

Encore:

  • Fucked Up World

You could forgive the paucity of material when they were supporting in 2011 after only a single album having been released. After all, they only formed in 2009. But another two years down the line, and after graduating to headline status… well, I’m not so sure. Not being a hard rock band in the true sense the average length of each of their songs is around three minutes, so with that set list you’re looking at little over half an hour’s worth of music. And yet somehow they managed to stretch it to almost an hour and a half. And I said “almost”.

Unfortunately, they still haven’t polished their performance, and the rawness that was evident when they supported Evanescence was still there. You see, support bands are usually crammed in at the front of the stage – in front of the already-installed equipment of the main act. For that reason you can forgive the cramped performances that result. But if you’re the headline act yourself, then the audience expects a little more. There was a huge gap between each song which merely emphasised this unpolished product.

Having said that, the audience was predominantly young and female, and I doubt that they knew what they should be expecting. The screams of “we love you Taylor” probably illustrate that better than anything.

Personally, I did enjoy the show. There just wasn’t enough of it to go around, and you could see it being spread thinly on purpose.

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Here’s a brilliant story from Scotland. Susan and Carl Smith had just been married and a band was playing at their reception. At the same hotel, Roger Daltrey was staying prior to The Who’s gig in Glasgow. He heard the music, went in to congratulate the couple, then did a song with the band.Roger Daltrey gate-crashes wedding in Scotland

No one could believe it, and the married couple say it is something they will remember for the rest of their lives.

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According to this Classic Rock interview it doesn’t look like Rush will be touring in 2015 at the moment. It’s not definite that they won’t, but the fact that they’ve not decided yet is. Something is going to happen, that’s certain. It’s just a matter of when. Geddy also talks of “itching” to get back to the studio and record a new Rush album, and he says Alex feels the same way. Geddy Lee of Rush

Incidentally, my R40 Boxed Set arrived today, It’s a beautifully packaged product and I’m looking forward to some quiet time to go through the 10 DVDs it contains.

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Mine’s already on pre-order from the Rush Backstage Club. There will be an R40 boxed set released in November, featuring over two hours of unseen footage and a couple of never-before heard songs from the early days.

I am convinced this is a precursor to the announcement of an R40 world tour in 2015.

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