PJ Harvey @ Rock City, Nottingham (08/09/04)

PJ Harvey was supported by a band called 'Knife and Fork'. Unfortunately we must have missed the first half of the support's set due to general lateness and being badgered by beggars on the way. The second half of their set was heard but not seen due to eternal queueing at the bar.

Pj Harvey came on about 9.15pm and played for about an hour. I was a rock city virgin on the night and was quite excited by the venue, despite it being hideously overcrowded and sweaty. It was also way too dark and people were standing with pints all the way up and down the staircases which joined the floor and the balcony. Where were the bullish security guards telling you 'You can't stand there mate"?

Anyway, we found a spot just after she'd started and all was well. PJ was wearing a tight red PVC dress (with white birds or bats or flying dinosaurs on it). She also was wearing long matching gloves). She'd got a spiky hair cut too which looked pretty cool.

I'm not overly familiar with all her stuff. Suffice was to say she seemed to play a good mix of old songs and new songs.

An overenthusiastic fan somehow got up on the stage inbetween songs near the beginning and pranced about on stage like a lost and flightless bird. She then walked over and was about to 'interact' with Polly when some security guards arrived from out of nowhere and escorted the lady away.

Despite the crampedness and the extreme heat, I have to admit that the venue made for a pretty decent sound. I was more than happy with the quality of sound waves floating over to us at the back downstairs.

She came back on and did about 4 extra songs as encore (after what seemed like an unusally long break - we began to wonder whether she'd decided not to bother returning).

There was a really annoying girl in the middle infront of the stage who decided she would use her boyfriend as a stead and sit up there waving about and making an arse of herself. What made it worse was she was wearing a rucksack just to maximise her obstaclicity (yes, I know I just invented that word, but I really think it should go in the OED). Thankfully she tired eventually but not before dancing about for a good 3 songs

No photos I'm afraid. I did take one with my new camera phone but it was really crap. Maybe in about 5 years camera phone will be able to take half-decent photos. For now I think I'll just use it as if it were a phone :)

The V Festival @ Weston Park, Stafford, Staffordshire (Sunday, 22/08/04)

Bands seen:

The Divine Comedy
Rodrigo Y Gabriela
Polly Paulusma
Athlete
Pink
Keane
Amy Winehouse
Dido
Muse
The Divine Comedy

We'd just arrived and sat down when on came the Divine Comedy. I thought ok this could be cool. Unfortunately, I struggled to enjoy it. The singer just always seems a little too pleased with himself. Maybe I'm missing some irony or something but the songs are pitched somewhere in the no-man's land between serious and heart felt and amusing stories. They're neither. Just helpless and stranded. I urged our party to move on after enduring a few songs. I could've coped with that National Express one but it wasn't played before we lost interest. We wandered over to the JJB Arena tent where Claire was keen to see "Deepest Blue"

Rodrigo Y Gabriela

When we arrived in the tent there I was blinded by the darkness. It was really pitch black. There were about 6 entrances to the tent. But the tent was barely lit and large numbers of bodies seemed to soak up any light the small doorways were allowing in. However, there they were, this incredible spanish-guitar weilding couple. They were playing some classical stuff and then some more modern-sounding jazzy stuff with the occasional bit of contemporary rock thrown in for good measure (Metallica's "One", The White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army" and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers' "Don't Stop"). It was great. Plus, they were using their mic-ed guitars to good effect creating rhythms by slapping and drumming on the bodies and strings. It felt a bit at times like we were being initiated into some clandestine cult. Why does someone always have to spoil it though. That's right, somebody must've decided it would be really cool to have loads of inflatable balls bouncing on the audience's heads. People were lunging for them and punching them. It was too dark for those kinds of acrobatics (despite it being an unwanted distraction from the act!) as proved by a guy in front of me who lunged for a declining ball, missed and inadvertantly threw his pint up in the air. Some landed on me. Great, it was only 1pm and my clothes were to smell of lager from then on. Wicked.

After they finished we trotted out and the fellowship disbanded with Claire and Mike going to see Deepest Blue and myself and Lisa hot-footing over to the Music Choice tent to check out Polly Paulusma. The annoying thing about festivals (apart from the general skegginess) is the fact that you cannot walk in a straight line or with any kind of velocity due to the volume of zombies. Nevermind.

Polly Paulusma

We got to the Music Choice tent eventually. It was cooler and less packed than the JJB Arena tent thankfully. Unforunately, we'd taken too long to cross the site (it didn't help that we stopped off at the Wine Bar to get some cheeky beverages) and we only got to see 2 or 3 of Polly's songs. She finished with "Over the Hill" which is one of my favourites. She introduced it as being a song about beer. She also said she couldn't wait to go and see lots of other bands. She played piano on her own for one number and then invited a double-bass player and a drummer back on for the last song. She was wearing a floral dress which if I'm honest was a poor choice. It made her look much older than I suspect she really is. Maybe this was intentional. Who knows!

Athlete

We caught most of Athlete's set on the main stage from some distance. It was pretty chilled out and I think they went down well. The were just a bit too happy and safe for me to get too excited about them though.

Pink

We ploughed forward into the large crowd before the main stage to get our places for Pink. We reconvened with Mike and Claire and braced ourselves. I'm not a huge Pink fan. I know quite a lot of her songs and I cannot deny that they're generally very catchy and sing-a-long-able. The band came on after 4 large inflatable spikey columns had been erected. The crowd roared as the band took up their positions and promptly launched into the first number (I think it was "Don't let me get me". Then PInk's voice came across but where was she? She wasn't on stage. It then emerged that she was behind the drum kit singing whilst kicking out a reasonably professional percussive accompaniment. After the intro, she jumped off the kit and onto the front of the stage and a regular drummer took her place and off they went. It was good set. She really whipped up the crowd. There were lots of flags being waved and ladies on gentlemen's shoulders.

Pink said we were better than Chelmsford were yesterday. This was very flattering. (Imagine my disappointment when I saw bands saying exactly the same thing about us to crowds in Chelmsford on the tv footage the next day!)

Keane

After queueing for what seemed like about an hour in a queue that just never ended to access a cash machine, we trundled over to get a decent view of Keane. Dashboard Confessional were on before them and they were, in my opinion, decidedly bland depsite having a song on the Spiderman 2 Soundtrack (apparently). It's amazing how fast they prepare stages for the next band at festivals these days. The whole drum kit just rolls on in one fell swoop. As we were waiting the crowds built up and there was a real air of expectation. Virtually everyone has bought (or acquired by other means) Keane's debut album and they seem to be the band of the moment. In retrospect, they should've been performing on the main stage (such was their popularity) and not the NME stage. Anyway by the time Keane graced the stage we must've been about 20-25 rows from the front and with a really decent view. The sea of an audience went on for miles behind us. I'd never seen them before and I liked their live sound. Despite claiming to proudly be a three-piece I thought they would surely employ a fourth member, a bass player in a live environment but no! They did it all with just three. The singer I realised was what might have happened to Aled Jones if he'd stuck two fingers up at the Snowman and his music teacher and said "I want to rock instead". We all bobbed up and down and sang along to Bedshaped, Somewhere only we know, Everybody's changing and so on. It was a good performance with lots of enthusiasm. They were visibly having a ball and everyone was very much up for them. The lowlight of the performance was the girl in front of me getting hit in the face by a soggy nectarine lobbed from no man's land.

Amy Winehouse

This is my third time with Amy in under a year. I must be developing some kind of unjustifiable obsession! Once again, she was wearing an ill-fitting outfit. She was wearing a tight pink and black tigerskin patterned dress which was very short and kept wanting to ride itself up further. This, combined with the fact that the stage was higher up then us near the front and the fact that Amy does more than her fair share or seductive thigh rubbing stuff it was a wonder her pants were never revealed to the massses.

I was hoping that she would still be using Mr virtuoso guitarist to my glee, she was. She also had the same bass player and 3-piece brass section although I have a suspicion that she's changed her drummer (or at least used a different one for V!)

She played the Frank songs (I'm not sure she has any others?) and she's fleshed them and/or changed them out even more severely since last time. This is interesting but in true "Bob Dylan Live" style, her changes have put stop to any audience participation. I wonder whether this is no accident. Keane, certainly embraced the voices of thousands on their choruses. She's no Keane.

Dido

Stood quite far away from the main stage. Ok, so we admired her from about half a mile. She was just visible on the large video screens. She was reasonable but I won't pretend I'm her biggest fan. She waded through a set of songs about ex boyfriends and mistreament (introducing each in a regretful manner).

Muse

Muse came on and Matt said "Er, we're playing as a four piece tonight so bear with us". We certainly did! I can't think of a better band to end and headline such a festival. The extra fourth member was a bass player from the Streets (I think). Basically, Muse's regular bass player/backing singer, Chris, had bust his hand whilst on tour in the US recently. So, they draughted a replacment in. Chris was still there singing and playing a bit of keyboard. A guy stood not far behind us kept shouting "I love you Matth-yew!".

Matt was truly on form (is this guy ever off form??) and wasn't about to let a bass player's dodgy hand spoil their V appearance. Muse certainly deserve a rest from touring and besides, I'm looking forward to their next album and these things don't write themselves.

Unfortunately we left about half way through their set as we decided we wanted to stand a chance of getting out fo the car park.

We ended up sitting in the car for 3 hours waiting to exit a large field. Not the best end to a great day. I think they may need to rethink their exit strategies for festival goers next year.

Suzanne Vega @ Nottingham Royal Centre (02/07/04)

I love this venue and whilst I was excited about seeing Suzanne Vega, I didn't expect to be as impressed as I was.

She was amazing. I think this must go straight to number 2 in my favourite gigs of all time (Muse @ Nottingham Arena still holds the primary slot!)

We had some good seats, about 8 rows back in the stalls and bang in the middle. The sound quality was as good as I've heard (I'm ignoring the tiny bit of feedback which eminated from the bass player's amp when he left the stage for Suzanne to do a solo song - it was soon remedied at Suzanne's request)

The support (or 'warm up' act as he seemed to want to be called) was from a guy called 'Lach'. Weird name, I know. He was from "New Yorkcity". He was mildly entertaining, a sort of Buddy Holly on crack. I couldn't quite decide whether he wanted to be a singer/songwriter or a stand-up comedian. He was attempting both and perhaps as a result spreading himself a little too thinly. He was keen to establish some kind of rapore with the audience and tried (mainly in vain) for some crowd participation. Why do American artists seem to crave this so badly? Can you imagine the msucians of Radiohead encouraging the crowd to clap along to Paranoid Android??

Halfway through his set, some fool in the audience's mobile went off. It was a hilarious moment as Lach introduced his next song as 'Ode to a cell phone' or something similiar.

I'm sorry but it's rant time here. WHY, OH, WHY, CAN'T PEOPLE EITHER SWITCH THEM OFF OR NOT TAKE THEM AT ALL!!!? Do they feel that they might need to make an urgent call in the middle of the gig? I give up. Also, I know I'm a bit naughty with my taking photos at gigs, but the guy in the row in front took what must have been about 50 flash photography shots during the night. The artists were visibly not impressed. Neither was I. It's taking the complete Michael.

Anyway :)

Lach did finally win the audience over with a song called 'Former President Bush'. We all got quite excited about that and some of us even went as far as whooping! Anyway, nice idea Lach. He ended with a song (my favourite from his offerings) called 'Drinking beer with Mom'.

Lach wrapped it up and there was a short break and then Suzanne came on about 9pm. She was wearing a long-sleeved black top and some black combat pants which she kindly informed us were making their 'day-byoo'. She was accompanied by a drummer, an eccentric looking guitarist whose hair seemed to be rebelling against his head and a virtuosic bass-player.

They launched straight into 'Ninety-nine point nine farenheit degrees'. It was slower than the studio version and sounded brilliant, I was instantly assured this was going to be a priceless gig.

Sadly, the hall wasn't full. She really deserves to have more support but there we go - that's just my opinion. On completion of this opener, Suzanne greeted the audience and told of how that song title had proved to be a little baffling to those who heard it outside the US.

She then played 'Caramel'. Another fine song and reproduced with admirable accuracy.

Suzanne demonstrated her guitar skills on most numbers, choosing to play a big acoustic (with finger and thumb picks?). On some numbers, she put down her guitar and allowed the band to take care of business.

I know I've got the order wrong, and she played 2 or 3 songs I didn't recognise, but the rest of the set included:

99.9F degress
Caramel
In Liverpool
Straight Lines
I'll never be your Maggie May
Marlene on the Wall
The Queen and the Soldier
Blood Makes Noise
Small Blue Thing
World Before Columbus
Heroes go Down
Luka
Tom's Diner

She played a few songs with just her and the bass player. Infact one was just the bass and her vocals which was both brave and very effective.

She spoke quite a lot in between songs and had a warming presence. I almost could have paid to listen to her "filler stories" alone.

She told us she'd been out with a guy from Liverpool which had inspired her to write amongst others, 'In Liverpool'.

She played two encores and received a standing ovation each time she left the stage.

Jamie Cullum & Katie Melua @ Blenheim Palace (01/07/04)


"Some people do shows - I just piss about"

Blenheim Palace was a beautiful place. We arrived early, parked up and sat and had a picnic under a tree. Very civilised I know, but that was the kind of event this was. There was quite a few stalls around the Palace entrance selling food and drink. We spotted the 'Hardys Wines' stall and made straight for it. One bottle of wine was then consumed sat on the grassed banks of the lakeside picnic area.

We then meandered into the grounds to take our seats. The weather had forecasted rain which was a shame especially since it was July and (apparently) summertime. So, we dressed for warmth and the possibility of wetness. What we didn't dress for was for bitter arid coldness. All evening the wind blew through my thin anorak chilling my bones as icicles formed underneath my beak.

There were large video screens erected either side of the stage for those (like us) who weren't particularly near the stage and you can only realistically squint for so long.

Anyway, a local radio presenter jumped onto the stage and whipped the crowd up (I couldn't see any spare seats) before Katie Melua took to the stage.

And she was simply gorgeous. That hair is to die for. She sat alone to begin with on a stool with an acoustic guitar and played 'Faraway Voice' dedicating it to Eva Cassidy if I wasn't mistaken. It was brave. Her voice was great though and it carried well. I was impressed with the way the sound engineers had got it all sorted.

After that first number she was joined by a fairly large backing band consisting of keyboards, piano, a brass instrument (trumpet I think?), guitar, drums and bass. Interestingly the bass player was a small lady who played some songs on a a double bass that dwarfed the poor girl!

Mike Batt was there on piano and he bantered with Katie inbetween songs. She mentioned him a lot. I got the impression that he had a large part in writing/arranging her songs.

Katie treated us to a new song off her forthcoming album. It was called Spiderweb and I seem to remember it being a cracker. Bring on the new album!

She played I think all of the songs off of 'Call of the Search' except 'Lilac Wine' which was a pity because I think that's one of the best on the album. Anyway, she played 'Belfast (Penguins and Cats)' and explained about how she had lived in Belfast for a while and that it suddenly clicked with naive little me that penguins and cats were infact protestants and catholics.

Katie played 'Closest thing to crazy last', obviously. She played for about an hour.

I wasn't expecting her and her band to be able to recreate the album so faithfully for some reason but they did and her voice was strong and smooth.

After a short break and some more shivering, Jamie came on. He was wearing a leather jacket which he removed after the first number. This was the second time I'd seen Jamie. He was even more cocky then before. I didn't think this was possible but it was. He loved being there, he marvelled at the views, he appreciated his audience, he spoke to us all a lot, he showed off jumping around all over the stage, he played some unusual songs and generally put on a classy performance.

He let slip that they were filming the concert and that a DVD was going to be made of it all. Suddenly the probing cameras on arms and a tireless roving film crew all made perfect sense.

Cilla Black was there! We were sat on the front row of block about 3 blocks back from the stage. She and her extensive entourage walked past right in front of us half way through the night. I was startled by the thinness of her legs.

Jamie was clearly bigging it up just that extra bit for the cameras and being back in the UK (he'd been in the US) and more specifically near his home town this felt like one performance he was really 'getting a kick out of'. And we got a kick out of him.

Jamie showed us a piece of carpet he was standing on the stage. He said it was his Gran's rug. He said Britney Spears had snakes and lesbians - he had his Nan's carpet.

He played one song which basically involved him attacking (albeit rhythmically!) from every angle including from on top of it and from below it. He carefully removed his watch first. He said he'd been in the papers recently because children across the country and been abusing their pianos in an attempt to copy him. He joked that this was the proudest moment of his life.

When he introduced the band, the camera team got confused between what a drummer plays and what a bass player plays. Subsequently the wrong people were being beamed up onto the video screens during his introductions. Jamie also forgot the mention the guitarist who was standing on the corner of the stage. Embarressing for a moment but Jamie soon pleaded forgiveness by grabbing the musician's leg and wrapping himself around it

They also played a cover version of the Beach Boys' 'God Only Knows' song. It was interestingly arranged to incorporate a string quartet and Jamie explained the bass player had done this deliberately in the style of the Beatles' Eleanor Rigby.

He also played a song on an acoustic guitar was a nice surprise. On one number he wandered into the crowd and procured a pink rose off of a fan.

Unfortunately we left just before the end due to hyperthermia and becuase we wanted to get out of the car park before all hell broke loose and what a difference a song makes.

Halkidiki, Greece. Day 3

Don’t know what I meant by “whippersnapper”. In fact, what DOES it mean? I was very, very drunk what I wrote yesterday’s entry. After we got back from Phillipa’s Lounge Bar, we popped in to the village pool bar and there was Simon and Kerry. So we stopped for more wines and a free shot of something blue and potent, courtesy of the barman.

We stumbled down the stairs to our room and woke the next morning with raging hangovers. The problem with Greece is you simply cannot avoid being given free shots of random alcohol (and of unknown strengths) wherever you go. Also they are keen for you to knock them back immediately, often with the one who served them which prevents you from executing the “plant drain” (Lisa’s method of discretely pouring the shot into a nearby plant pot).

Feeling like the living dead, I managed to fall asleep again only to be woken by Lisa vomming spectacularly in the bathroom. Such thin walls. About 2pm I finally ended my savage brutal with my hangover. Emerging victoriously, I went into the bathroom and cut myself shaving. There will be NO alcohol today. Definitely not. No.

We stopped off for some fast food on the way to the beach. Lisa managed to flash her pubic area whilst casually trying to adjust her bikini pants. They’re the ones that tie at the sides and are devised to turn innocent girls into dirty strippers whether they like it or not. So, momentarily, the entire beach was treated to a flash of Lisa’s bits.

We found some decent deck chairs and were promptly charged for them by a man from out of nowhere (as is customary). Where do they appear from? It’s like magic.

Incidentally, I am attempting to eat as much fish as possible during these two weeks. Don’t ask me why. I just am.

I’ve already polished off a little book by Philip Pullman about a demon huntsman. Today I’m progressing with Alice in Wonderland.

Alice in Wonderland is boring or too difficult, or something so I’ve stopped reading it. The afternoon was spent lying on the beach still trying to banish the clingy remnants of the hangover and listening to the two nearby greek sun-worshippers speaking at the speed of light. They do though.

I saw a little lizard thing dart across the ground which was quite exciting.

We visited a fish restaurant in Hanioti for tea. After expressing a general interest in fish, the friendly waiter insisted that we go and look at his fresh fish supplies. He had a cupboard with drawers containing fresh fish packed in ice. I chose a couple of “cod fish” (cod?) and Lisa went for the local bream.

Both were very tasty. It was probably our most extravagant meal so far, weighing in finally at a combined 41 euros. We tipped too earning me a robust handshake upon leaving. There is an encouraging lack of zombies wandering the resort selling cigarette lighters, roses and such like. There are also very few insects which is much appreciated.

Dogs seem to be trendier here than cats which is strange and a shame.

Had a relatively early night in preparation for tomorrow’s BBQ cruise (or “BQQ” cruise as Vanessa wrote). Oh goodie, the opportunity to drink copious amounts of alcohol once again.

We have decided that walking up the hill and crossing the badly-lit main road to the Daphne village accommodation is rather treacherous. The brochure said “torches required for late night returns”. It should’ve read “Headlamps essential for guaranteed survival during late night returns”. I’m just glad I’m not into heels. The road seems to be curiously made of sand.

Halkidiki, Greece: Day 2

Sun is out today – thank goodness! Wandered down into Hanioti in search of provisions after not being able to stomach a cup of tea without milk.

It was nice. Lots of nice-looking bars and restaurants and the beach looked good too. However, there seemed to be a distinct lack of holiday-makers. We wondered if perhaps the area had been over-run by zombies overnight. I dipped a toe into the sea and it was not in any warm. Looked inviting though. It’s going to have to get much warmer before this boy submerses himself in it.

Sat and had breakfast on the balcony. From it there is an amazing view down to the sea. It’s very lush and green with sporadic orange roots poking up through the trees, On the horizon, past the sea, you can make out the second finger of the Halkidi. I will refer to the 3 strands from now on as the deformed fingers of Halkidiki.

Whilst buying breakfast in the local supermarket, there was a man behind a meats counter laying into a slab of meat with the world’s biggest cleaver – we may turn vegetarian yet!

The hotel complex (which incidentally,is sprawling – we wasted no time in getting lost on the way to our apartment) is swarming with swallows. They’ve even built a nest on our balcony.

Talking of balconies, ours is great but has two minor flaws.

  1. I’m worried that we’re not going to get any sun on it. Time may yet prove me wrong. I hope so
  2. There is no privacy divide between us and the couple’s balcony next door. This means our conversations on the balcony must be quiet, clean and there’ll certainly no moping about in the nude.

I wish I was good at tennis. There is a tennis court down in the gardens below our apartment. It’s free to use too. But I’m rubbish at tennis and would only show myself up in front of guests whose balconies also overlook this ‘court of potential humiliation’. I wonder if Tim Henman’s holiday location choices are based on the availability of a tennis court?

I am growing a beard. It’s one of those slugs that sits under your bottom lip. Respected jazz musicians have them. I wonder if I can gain respect simply by growing one? I’m not Lisa fully approves of this project.

Spent the most of the morning (and, oh what a glorious morning it was – boiling hot and not a cloud in the sky!) basking around the hotel (village) pool. The swallows were at large, swooping down and dipping in and end out of the pool. Crazy kamikazee birds!

Went to a taverna called “Zorbas” which was very friendly. I had grilled sardines and Lisa had the good old Greek Salad. A big group of germans came in whilst we were there and plonked themselves down next to us.one of whom was a tattooed beefcake. He has a tattooed girlfriend too.

We attended the obligatory rep talk in the afternoon. Vanessa was on fine form getting her words all mixed up.and excusing herself on more than one occasion with a “I haven’t got me teef in”. Too right. Simon and Kerry were there and also another couple who were both blonde and quite young from Bristol. They (she) were keen on shopping in Thessalonika. We all decided that 40 euros per person (£26 at current exchange rate) was a go-er for the BBQ cruise on Sunday so we booked up. Should be fun.

Also, found out that Prince Charles is ridding himself of his sins at Mount Athos (top finger) this week. Seemingly he has a permanent pass. Women aren’t allowed on or near Mt Athos so I guess he has left Camilla at home?

We pottered down to the beach at Hanioti which is just a few minutes’ walk. I made my debut in the sea which seemed reasonably painless.

It got deep fast though. There were some quite big albeit blandly decorated fish knocking about  along the bed. Some looked about half a foot long but that could’ve been a refraction trick. Why do I always get a runny nose when I’ve been in the sea? Runny noses are for winter and colds not holiday and beaches. The people on the brochures bouncing around in the sea never have snot running down their happy chins.

I rather fancy a go on a pedalo before our two weeks are over. They’re available for hire here and popular too! We saw one party (there were about 8 people on one pedalo – it was like an immigrant mission for freedom) in the sea. One girl on it shouted to some mates on shore “We’re going to Turkey!”. They weren’t. They were actually going the opposite direction.

Tonight they’re having a special barbecue at the village. We’re snubbing it though in favour of exploring Hanioti’s tavernas. Hope they’re not going to be offended by our non-conformism. We would like to defend our right to keep ourselves a bit to ourselves though at this stage.

The pillow dilemma

Since our room comprises 3 single beds (two of which were already pushed together when we arrived) there are 3 pillows. Unfortunately, we are both 2-pillow kind of people. One just isn’t enough. Hence, we are taking it in turns to sleep with two pillows. It’s Lisa’s turn tonight.

Bought some wine in the supermarket on the way home from the beach which claims to be Halkidiki wine. Does this mean it is made from grapes grown here? It seems quite nice. A good choice says Lisa sipping it from one of the over-sized shot glasses we have been kindly supplied with.

Disaster of the Day!

Me diving into the sea and flamboyantly splashing about before stumbling out and collapsing on my beach towel then realising I’d forgotten to remove the 2 x 5 euro notes from my shorts pocket.

Went out for tea at the Kassandra Rooftop restaurant which was very cool.Our waiter looked like a greek Shane Richie (which was a shame really). I had grilled salmon and Lisa had chicken souvlaki. We then meandered around and discovered the Lounge Bar in Hanioti. It was very chilled out. The bar maid was from Leeds and was called Phillipa. She was a bit of a whippersnapper.

Halkidiki, Greece: Day 1

Flight at civilised time of 3pm. It took 3 hours. Landed at Thessalonika airport, flew over the Austrian/ Italian alps which looked amazing covered in snow. In front of us was an annoying woman with 3 kids and one in the oven (where’s Dad?) demonstrating a confusing mixture of provocation and discipline with her brood. “I’m dying for a fag” she exclaimed loudly at one point, then later “Tucka” and “Cur’iss” were missing from the transfer bus.

It was 24 degrees C when we arrived – pleasantly cool, but worryingly cloudy. De-hydrated on the coach for a while hoping that despite the 2 aft hr transfer, we’d get to our resort in time to have a drink or two before bed.

Some guy (who we would later befriend unbeknown to us) lost his wallet so we all had to wait whilst it was located. A few minutes later he arrived with the missing wallet. It was a guy with his arm in a sling. No swimming in the sea for him!

Whilst we were waiting another dilemma surfaced. It turns out two elderly couples sitting near the front of the coach MIGHT have been given top floor rooms when they requested ground ones. After much faffing (a phone call to the hotel) it turns out their rooms WERE on the ground floor after all.

With only two “no shows” we eventually left.

No we didn’t

We stopped again because the rep had lost her list of people’s room numbers apparently. The rep was called Vanessa who introduced herself with “Well, hopefully that was the end of the wevva”. It had apparently been rainy and cold.

First impression of the accommodation (called Daphne Village) are that it is quite nice. The man showed us around. He was nice but his English was poor. He pointed to the kitchenette area and said “for the lady”. Bless him.

Very thirsty so went straight to the pool-side bar which was run by a friendly man. The pool was lit with underwater lighting which very much appealed to me. Simon and Kerry joined us (they were also from East Midlands Airport) for a few beers and wines. Simon worked for a timeshare company and Kerry was a “deputy manager” at Adams.

The hotel resort seems very nice but awfully quiet. Oh well. We like it like that so I’m not complaining. Looking forward to waking up tomorrow and seeing what the view is like from over the balcony as we seem to be perched up on a hillside somewhat.

We went back to the apartment and I walked straight into the anti-mosquito shield which was embarrassing. Lisa stripped off and paraded around naked in the bathroom before realising it had a window which was perhaps even more embarrassing.

Rosie Thomas and Sufjan Stevens @ The Polish Catholic Centre, Sheffield (12/05/04)

Sufjan came on first wearing a Michigan cap (both artists were from Michigan) and opened with REM's This one goes out to the one I love. He alternated between songs sung with guitar and banjo with some interesting stories thrown in between songs (including one about a guy they used to make fun of at school who died whilst they were still studying and how that affected him). He was a competent and modest musician and was very much like Rosie in his relaxed and friendly attitude.

Sufjan did the mitten-pointing routine which according to him and Mary Lee Cortes is what everyone from that part of the world does to describe where they're from. He added a wolf's head to the top corner. I got confused.

Rosie was wearing all black. The only detail was a little bo peep design on her front. She came across as a very shy person and seemed to giggle through her song introductions which was strangely indearing. She told us how someone at a previous gig had recently told her to talk more inbetween songs so this was what she was attempting to do. However, once she had launched into a song we saw a completely different person with a very strong voice and total commitment.

She alternated between piano and guitar both of which she seeemed to play with minimum effort. She and Sufjan are touring together and apparently someone in a hotel got the wrong end of the stick, assumed they were a couple, a booked them a double room. She laughed as she told us this and said they made the best of an awkward situation.

I felt this was a very special and private, at an unusual venue too. The venue thankfully had a bar, albeit an expensive one. Also the hall had stacks of chairs at the back and you had to unstack your own seat. It was just like being back at school assembly!

Myself and brother Tom hung around afterwards to meet Rosie and have a chat. She was very nice and was cool about me having me photo taken with her. Check out the photo!

Amy Winehouse @ The Rescue Rooms, Nottingham (26/04/04)

I'm sure Amy has changed some or all of her band since I last saw her. However, this was surely for the best. The brass section was quite welcome but for me the guitarist and bass player really shone.

Also, previously Amy played guitar but tonight just opted for hands-free singing!

Amy played virtually all of 'Frank' for us although any fan attending to hear the songs played faithful to their album versions would have been disappointed. They basically re-arranged and re-jigged all the songs giving them a fresh sound which was nice. She also sang 'Take the Box' twice (once as an encore and played distinctly funkier)

The support guy (a singer called Tyler James) was pretty good and not so different to Amy in style. My gigging buddy said he had "a touch of the Terence Trent D'arbys". Fair comment. I'm going to stick with my very own summation though, which was "Chris Cornell fused with Craig David and living in Essex".

The whole night was made almost intolerable by some stupid little cow standing next to me who when everyone else was facing and listening to the music was instead jumping up and down with her back to the band trying to entertain her boyfriend (I pity the fool!). LIke a spoiled child with attention deficit disorder, she frequently angered her surrounding fellow gig goers sufficiently to recieve a sudden collective "Ssssshhhh!" in her direction. It wasn't enough to silence her sadly. You know who you are. Please don't bother ever going out to a gig again!

The venue was very full. I knew the event was sold out some time ago but didn't expect it to be quite so, well, 'rammed' basically.

Amy wore a black top which was strapless and made for nervous viewing. She seemed to be constantly pulling it up and readjusting, ensuring she hadn't accidentally popped out. Just like those de-oderant adverts, surely she would have been more confident with something more reliable.

She spoke a few times but I was near the back and couldn't really pick up on her words. She did at one point thank us all for buying her album and then she paused and frowned and asked "You did all buy it, didn't you?".

Amy is without a doubt, a rare talent. She has a great voice, she's mesmerising to watch on a stage and she's making music which is very different and brave. She's bearing her soul and letting us know exactly how that feels.

That said, I couldn't help but feel that tonight Amy was trying just a little too hard. Perhaps just too many notes? I also feel that it would've been nice to hear more of what 'Freddie' the incredible guitarist had to offer!

A big thankyou must be said to 'Rachel' who struggled to the bar for us when all other routes were blocked.

As well as this UK tour, Amy is going to be appearing at several festivals / events this summer and will then do doubt take a well earned break (and buy some new tops that fit better!)

(Support: Tyler James)

Nebula & Winnebago Deal @ The Fez Club, Sheffield, 17th March 2004

The Witches Will Have To Sleep For Now

I was meant to be going to check out a female acoustic 4-piece called 'Waking the Witch' but I stumbled upon some reviews of a band called Nebula online. They sounded intriguing so I decided to go and see them instead at a different venue.

When we arrived at the Fez Club there was a band on whose name I didn't catch. They had some kind of Shaun Rider person singing (shouting?) for them. He was terrible. He seemed to treat his microphone as a sex toy and the rest of the band seemed quite uncomfortable with this too. The crowd weren't impressed. He wasn't impressed with the fact that we weren't impressed. He pleaded with us all to have some f*ckin manners at one point. Interesting way of winning over new fans, that.

Anyway, they went off and the official support act, Winnebago Deal came on.


Nebula
Ohmigod! Winnebago Deal blew Nebula off the stage. They are a 2-piece from Oxford. Imagine if Nirvana had been British, had decided that they could survive without Kris Novoselic and only played songs like Territorial Pissings and you've got Winnebago Deal. The crowd loved it and swarmed right up to the edge of the stage. Unfortunately I couldn't really see how the singer (called Ben - the drummer is also called Ben apparently) was managing to produce the sounds that were blasting (and I mean BLASTING!) out of the speakers. How can they not have a bassist, yet sound so complete and meaty! A row of particularly tall and sky-fisting fans kept the bands actions a secret from me. I imagine some nifty effects pedals were the key?

Ben from Winnebago Deal: Kurt in disguise?
The singer didn't really say much. I don't recall any form of introduction and they barely paused in between songs. Infact you could've been forgiven for thinking their 35+ minute set was just one long assault.

Nebula came on and sounded reasonable, but just so tame and watered-down after Winnebago's set. We left before the end with battered ears. Infact, they're still ringing and nearly 24 hours have passed.

I have ordered a Winnebago CD and am looking forward to seeing the Ben's again. I may just invest in a pair of ear plugs before doing so mind.

Shania Twain @ Sheffield Arena (08/03/04)

aThat Did Impress Me Much!

I was looking forward to this one. Shania playing 'in the round'. Our seats were pretty near the stage on the floor and we were going to be pretty close

Arriving fashionably (and deliberately?) late, we managed to miss the majority of the support act, Bjorn Again. I'm sorry but I'm not really into Abba. There is simply no call for a whole tribute act (there is probably more than one such act out there) regurgitating Abba's radio-friendly seventies pop pap. Anyway, the audience seemed suitably enthusiastic as we found our seats.

Shania came on and played for 90 minutes and during which sported 3 different costumes. The last outfit comprised a pair of jeans and an extremely over-sized official Sheffield Steelers Ice Hockey Team top (rolled up aggressively at the sleeves). The previous two outfits were less flamboyant than I expected and thus were very flattering!

Shania, it turns out, whilst touring the globe, donates money to a local charity at each gig. I wasn't aware of this and it warmed my heart somewhat. This time, she had chosen to donate to a Sheffield-based children's charity. Nice touch.

Her large, all-singing, all-dancing, multi-instrumentalist collection of immaculately groomed musicians were highly animated all evening. They hailed from America, Canada and Australia. I know this because Tyler Durden knows this. Actually, no. I know this because half way through the evening, Shania decided to introduce her band except she didn't do it the normal "let's all listen to each person's best solo attempt" way. No, she jumped down out of sight (probably to get changed into a new costume) and passed the microphone to a band member, letting them all take turns in introducing eachother to us (complete with witty mini-anecdotes).

I think I prefer the solos.

Anyway, the band were excellent and seemed to be constantly changing instruments, providing 4-part backing harmonies and encouraging the crowd to clap along, hands over head stylee like they do back in the good old US of A.

Another thing Shania likes to do is run some kind of raffle where members of the audience buy red tickets (I'm guessing this is how the charity donating elements come in although being late-comers we may have missed all those shenanigans). She picks out a winning ticket during the show and one lucky individual gets to come up on stage and have their photo taken with Shania. The winning couple on this occassion when summoned bounded up to meet her and pose for a cheesy pic. One of the ladies grabbed the mic sensing their 5 seconds of fame were over and sycophantically explained to Shania that "this is the best concert I've ever been to". Highly cringeworthy. Oh the things people say when faced with their idol (into a mic, in front of thousands of people).

Another woman 'won' her photo taking session by catching Shania's eye with a large home-made sign which the singer read out. It said something like "Please can I have my photo taken with you!" Simple, but completely effective.

Now, why didn't I think of that?

Shania spent a lot of time multi-tasking (ie, singing whilst signing autographs). Scores of adoring fans were lining the stage waving pens and paper all night and Shania answered their prayers. At first I found this annoying. I was like, c'mon less of the name writing and a bit more performing please. The thing I realised, was, this was her performing and I don't that she does this at every show. Maybe it's me being secretly jealous. Where's mine???

Anyway, she lots of familiar numbers, kicking off with "Man, I feel like a woman". It always feels a bit odd singing along to this particular one. Fortunately I had a really sore throat so vocal participation on my behalf was out of the question.

I personally tend to prefer Shania's ballads but these were few and far between. She opted to perform more of her upbeat numbers and I guess those are the real crowd-pleasers.

The show featured lots of fireworks. Always exciting. She came on for an encore and played two sings I didn't recognise (ie, not on "Come on Over" or "Up") which I found a little strange.

She frequently 'thanked you Sheffield' and smiled from start to finish.

Unfortunately, I didn't take a camera as I feared the venue's security may comfiscate it. AS it happens, there were loads of people with cameras in there (including one old guy in the row in front who seemed to watch the entire concert through his camera's tiny LCD. Now that's what I call appreciation!

At one point and just after finishing a song, Shania turned to a fan who must've been happily snapping away and said "Are you sure you've got enough photos? You're going to run out of film for sure". I don't think this would have been a major worry for the fan.

Another highlight was someone's banner which attracted Shania's attention. She read it out. It said something like "What's more addictive than chocolate but much lower in fat..? Shania!" She was touched.

Like she needed an ego-boost!

There was some good participation from the singer I felt. The highlight for me was her appearing with one of her guitarists (armed with acoustic guitar) in the audience after having disappeared mysteriously during a protracted instrumental. She sat there in amongst the riff-raff and sang a really nice slower number (which I didn't recognise) before leaping back down to rejoin the central stage.

It must be pretty good being Shania Twain. She has a voice which can melt you, she is ridiculously attractive, she is adored the world over and she has a gifted and loyal band of 9 years. She may have a bob or two also...

The Keys & Zombina and the Skeletones @ Sheffield University Union (05/03/04)

Wow! What a night and all for £3.50. You simply can't shake a stick at that kind of bargain entertainment.

I'd been to the venue before but never to see a band there and as it happens, I think it's a great venue. There is a large stage and plenty of room to pack the audience in, whilst simultaneously allowing for punters to get right up to the band.

There was a support band but I didn't catch their name (possibly 'The Koreans'?) who were a sort of cross between the Happy Mondays and Blind Melon (at least, I thought so anyway). The singer had one of those funny machines where you wave your hand in front of it in different directions and it makes strange noises. Useful. He also spat on the stage in between lines. I couldn't work out if this was cool or repulsive. Oh well. The guitarist who had a Kurt Cobain-ish air about him was fairly competent I thought and helped out with the vocals from time to time. There was also a drummer and bassist and occasional keyboard player.

During one song, 2 drunken students got up on the stage and danced foolishly. I think it was possibly one of their birthdays and I got the impression they were friends of the band (or maybe that was just the bonding power of alcohol?)

Zombina & The Skeletones were up next. I'd never heard their stuff before but was significantly intrigued. They did not disappoint. Zombina and her band were all made up like zombies (including skeleton outfits and white face paint). Zombina herself who hails from Liverpool I believe had a skeletal claw glove on one hand and a perfectly inscribed dribble of blood coming out of the corner of her mouth and trickling down her chin. The music was poppy and accessible. The skeletones consisted of a female drummer, two guitarists and a bass player although there was some instrument swapping going on. I was amazed when towards the end of their set, they put all the instruments down and did some 6-part accapello number!!

All in all, I loved them. I can't believe they aren't better known with their infectious pop and their awe-inspiring make-up

Next up were the evening's headliners, The Keys who seemed to be fronted by John Lennon!!

Yes, the singer bore an uncanny resemblance to the late Beatle. The venue was really filling up as The Keys began their set. They were pretty slick and tight but they gave little away and I came away knowing that it was those cheeky skeletones who would stay in the forefront of my evening's memories.

Mary Lee's Corvette @ The One Eleven Club, Sheffield (13/02/04)

Support: Brian Houston

I caught this, the last gig of Mary Lee's Corvette's UK tour, having already seen them a few days earlier in Nottingham. The band and support were the same. The venue, sadly, was not.

This was my first time at Sheffield's new One Eleven club which had been open for about a month I think. The venue was poor and I simply cannot recommend this to someone who, like myself, paid to attend and witness a quality act. Instead you are crammed into a long thin dining room with little space (the website blatantly stated that it could hold 100 people - I'm sorry but this is nothing but a lie!) and where the so-called audience were feeding their mouths and not their ears. During the gig, ignorant people continued to talk through the performances. How rude!!

So, basically the one eleven club has attempted to blend food and music and failed. The venue is not big enough to do both. Instead it has managed to irritate those who'd paid to dine (people crowding around their dinner tables with the added inconvenience of live noise) and those who'd paid to listen (people clattering knives and forks, chatting and occupying valuable floor-space).

Anyway, with that out of the way, it's onto the music itself...

Brian Houston was present providing the support. I was under the impression that there would be no support act on this occassion so I was surprised and happy to see Brian emerge at about 9.30 having thoroughly enjoyed his set at Nottingham on the 4th.

Brian was playing his own tracks again and played for about 30 minutes I think. I felt he was slightly less expressive than his previous performance but I put that down to the unsuitable venue. There was very little space on stage and we (the crowd) were pushed right up to the edge of it due to the farcical seating arrangements. After his set, Brian thanked the audience and apologised if he'd given anyone indigeston. Maybe it was just me, but I took this as a subtle criticism of those too hungry to lend their ears.

The staff tried to convince people to move to the back of the room (behind the noisy eaters) several times but we opposed their suggestions. No way! We'd paid to get in to see a show and we weren't moving. They even offered to give us our money back and let us leave but I'm sorry - we just weren't going to be bulldozered. In the end we compromised by sitting on the edge of the stage which wasn't ideal but at least it meant we had the best view in the house!

At the end of his set, Brian did his "Caravan routine" on his song about putting down your childish things which (forgive my ignorance) I don't know the title of, but has become increasingly difficult to get out of my head. He came back on for an encore. I'm not sure I've ever seen a support act do an encore? He asked for requests so I shouted out 'Caravan' and he declined, jokingly muttering something about having been playing Van Morrison for half of his life.

Mary Lee's Corvette put on another good show although they seemed to be experiencing a fair amount of bad luck. There were brief early tuning problems with Rod advising Mary Lee on which strings were too flat orsharp. Later, one of Mary Lee's guitar strings snapped during Give it to the Needy. They kept on playing whilst Brian jumped up onto the stage and readied his guitar for Mary Lee to use instead. The song was completed with minimal disruption. Unfortunately though, several severe bouts of feedback attacked the band and the crowd and I heard (Oh yes, I was very close!!) Rod say "we gotta can this guitar". So they did.

Just as the chaos was taking over, Mary and Rod decided to play a song they'd not done before by Aimee Mann. Talk about guts! I can't remember the title and am not familiar with many of Amie's songs. Suffice is to say, they recovered well albeit a bit risky.

They had opened with Tangled up in Blue. It was brilliant! What a lovely surprise. It was possibly the best song of the evening for me. And what bravery! Imagine choosing to start with such a wordy number with just Mary on vocals and tambourine and Rod on guitar. Mary Lee mimicked Dylan's phrasing almost syllable for syllable. After all, only fools choose to re-invent the wheel.

Mary did the "hand mitten as allegedly used by people from Michigan to describe where they live within the state" routine before launching into Portland, Michigan which is amusing (and sweet).

I had to leave to get my train just at the end of the Redemption Day which is a shame cos I missed the last song and the encore.

Mary had announced that they had 700 Miles CD's for sale but that they had run out of Blood on the Tracks CD's. I was gutted. I was looking forward to buying a copy and asking Mary to sign it 'our conversation was short and sweet'. Nevermind. I guess I could always try again next time they come around (and let's hope there is a next time, and that it's not too long).

Set List: (again, I have generated this list simply from memory and I left just as the last song was being introduced but have been reliably informed since that they played "All the Rage" as an encore)

  • Tangled up in blue
  • More Stupider
  • Out from Under it
  • Portland, Michigan
  • 700 Miles
  • The Nobody Song
  • You're gonna make me lonesome when you go
  • Give it to the needy
  • Redemption Song
  • Encore: All the rage

Mary Lee's Corvette @ The Maze Tavern, Nottingham (04/02/04)


This was my first time seeing Mary Lee's Corvette and also my debut at the Maze Tavern on Mansfield Road, Nottingham. From the back this venue looked tiny and, well, to be honest we thought we'd got the wrong place, or the wrong night. However, we walked around to the front and it was a nice little pub with an amazing rear function room (complete with stage, bar, ample seating!)

Brian Houston played a solid support set. A guy called Jason Slain was also on the bill but he either didn't show up or Brian played for too long? Either way, we didn't see him. To be honest though, I can't imagine anyone topping Brian's spot. I'm normally not too excited about support acts, however this guy was brilliant. Cocky, confident, talented and highly amusing. He was playing on his own (vocals, guitar and harmonica) but joked about having been in a band previously back in Belfast and that one by one all his fellow band members were poached from him until he was a solo performer. Was this true? Who knows? It was a entertaining story nonetheless.

Brian Houston could have just as easily been stand-up comedian for my money, such was his charisma. I'd been thinking of Van Morrison influences whilst watching him and on his final song he stole a melody from Van the Man's "Caravan", complete with timed air-kicking. A nice touch. I wonder whether anyone else other than me appreciated this?

Another amusing incident during Brian's set was him starting a song and playing some chord wrong and then stopping, apologising and re-starting, claiming that the mixing guy was recording the peformance and that there was nothing worse than getting home and listening to your efforts and hearing a bum note at the beginning of a number.

Brian finished about 10pm and Mary Lee's Corvette came pretty much straight on. I'd familiarised myself with their latest album, 700 miles, promoting which, as Mary Lee herself soon confessed, was the reason behind this tour. I'd also heard a few tracks from their notorious cover album of Dylan's Blood on the Tracks. Somehow I'd expected a full band complete with drums and all. As it happens, Mary Lee's Corvette were just two. Mary Lee Kortes on vocals, acoustic guitar and occassional harmonica (she made some joke about female harmonica players and their need to check their lipstick regularly, whilst re-applying lipstick herself) and a guy called Rod on electric guitar (also providing harmony vocals). Due to the venue stage/size, it was probably for the best that my predictions were wrong.

Wow, what a great sonud they made! Mary talked quite a bit inbetween songs which I always like. She seemed very relaxed. They played two Dylan songs ("You're gonna make me lonesome when you go" and "Simple Twist of Fate" with Brian coming back on to help out for this number as an encore) and the rest were from their new album.

Rod, Mary told us, had accidentally acquired the nickname "Broderick Rod" whilst on tour in Spain previously due to an unfortunate language barrier incident.

Mary Lee said that "700 miles" was a song inspired by her late (great?) grandmother who kept a diary throughout her life and would log everything she did no matter how inconsequential. Mary Lee discovered her diaries post-humously and one entry described how she came to stay with Mary Lee one time and recorded that it was 700 miles to Mary Lee's doorstep from hers.

"All the Rage" is one of my favourites tracks. This was also a stand song for the night for me. ML confessed that this song was often thought to be an anti-war song. She seemed generally puzzled by this.

The crowd of about 50 people (made up mostly 50+ year old seemingly - I was possibly the youngest there) were attentive (at one point Mary Lee joked that this was infact scaring her a little bit). We (the crowd) weren't very good at clapping along I felt and any participation was modest in replying to her inbetween song musings.

Mary Lee's Corvette played what felt like a relatively short set. Maybe it was just me. Maybe I just didn't want it to end so soon. After their last song I felt impulsed to shout "more!" but somehow it didn't seem appropriate behaviour in such a civilised and polite club. Thankfully, they came back on for an encore song a couple of minutes later obviously confused by our lack of hunger for more? Mary Lee said upon re-entering the stage something like "normally when people stop clapping [back home], we just just leave". They played Simple Twist of Fate after summoning Brian back over to help them out. I think Mary Lee's Corvette were suitably impressed with the Irish backup, and so they should be!

Mary Lee hung around to talk to people, sign autographs and sell CD's/t-shirts after the show. I congratulated her on a great gig. She was very friendly and surprisingly tall!

All in all, it was a fantastic evening. I'm glad I made the effort to go and I'm glad I persuaded my Dad and his friends to join me. It seemed strange that this band had some all the way from New York City to end up playing a cosy gig to us 50 in a pub in Nottingham. I'm not complaining. On the contrary, it felt very special!

Set List: (I think I got all the songs, although the order may have been slightly different)

Out from under it
700 Miles
You're gonna make me lonesome when you go
Status with Gladys
The Nobody Song
All the Rage
Give it to the Needy
Like Water
Portland, Michigan
Encore: Simple Twist of Fate

Meat Loaf @ Sheffield Arena (15/01/04)

I had to go and see Mr Loaf for two reasons:

1) I'd never seen him before and had always had a certain admiration for the big fella

2) This tour was unexpectedly post-poned after Meat Loaf experienced heart problems just before xmas. I had a horrible feeling I wouldn't get another a chance to experience the bloated rock legend.

So, the shows were put back a few weeks/months and I took this opportunity to buy tickets which someone else couldn't re-arrange for.

Meat made his stage entrance on a hospital bed with a sheet over him and with two nurses pushing him. It's amazing that he can joke about his near-death experience so soon after! Then, there was swirling mist and some kind of spooky voice-over and he came alive! Magic.

Meat and his well-oiled band played all his hits with the exception of Two Out of Three Aint Bad (sadly). I won't try and provide a set list. Suffice is to say he played all the old favourites choosing to encore with Bat out of Hell and I Would Do Anything for Love (which included his vocal partner, Patti Russo, ascending into the skies on a large sofa!)

Meat took pleasure in often slowing songs down or pausing them altogether to tell some anecdote. I suppose he felt he was adding value to his songs and let's face it if you sing the same songs year in year out it makes sense to shake it up a little bit. Some members of the crowd were not so forgiving shouting "Get on with it!" etc.

During You Took the Words Right Out of my Mouth (I think it was this song), he noticed one member of the audience a few rows back from the front wasn't singing along like the rest of us and promptly silenced the band and plunged into the audience to remedy the situation. The poor bloke was made to sing a line from the chorus, unaccompanied into the microphone before the show was allowed to continue. There was a stalemate for a couple of minutes with Meat's victim refusing to do so. After some encouragement (which included Meat kissing the man's wife and the threat that 'we aint goin nowhere 'til you sing that line') the helpless man finally gave in and mumbled the line into Meat's mic.

And on it went.

Meat gave his all. Some reviews I read after the show seemed to be saying that his all wasn't enough, that he struggled to hit lots of notes and that he should step down and let someone else such as The Darkness fill his rock-opera shoes. I have to disagree. I enjoyed every minute of the show. He even played guitar for the first few songs which came as quite a surprise. The music industry definitely still has a space (or two!) for Meat Loaf even if he is still regurgitating hits from previous decades.