Thursday, June 1, 2017

29.05.2017 Erasure @ The Roundhouse, London

Support act: Isgar

Three-piece opener ‘Isgar’ are a somewhat unusual choice for a support act until you realise that their synth-man is also working for Erasure.


While singer Beth’s voice is hugely impressive and their songs are emotionally deep (how refreshing) their short set didn’t really allow me to get into their music, mainly because there is ‘sparse’ and then there is ‘too empty’ as far as the overall sound was concerned. Enjoyable nonetheless. 


The Roundhouse is an iconic venue and with Erasure being an iconic band – this evening was epic.

Before embarking on a stadium tour as support act to Robbie Williams, Erasure played three gigs in support of their new album ‘World be gone’, which peaked at #6 in the UK charts and deservedly so.

The mostly downbeat, reflective and thought-provoking album is in many ways an unusual album in the high energy catalogue of the band’s work but it captures Erasure at their best.

The stage is simple and the lighting very effective and from the word ‘go’ Andy & Vince, supported by their ever present and ever wonderful backing vocalists Val & Emma own the night.

The chemistry of the band was amazing to witness and the setlist was super impressive as it featured many of their massive hits as well as less often performed gems such as ‘Here I go impossible again’ off their 2005 album Nightbird or the underrated, totally beautiful ‘In my arms’.

They played 9 out of 10 songs from ‘world be gone’ and the new material fitted in nicely with the rest, which in itself shows just how amazing Erasure’s songwriting skills are.

Erasure love their fans and the fans love them and this unbreakable bond between the perhaps most charismatic synth pop band of all times and their followers was felt during their performance.

The sound was crystal clear and Andy’s voice spot on throughout and the normally quite reserved synthesizer legend Vince Clarke smiled a lot and just to watch them live was mesmerizing. 


















Sunday, March 26, 2017

25.03.2017 Electronic Music Conference: Chris Wave, Richard Barbieri, Chris Payne, Rusty Egan, Martyn Ware

The Birmingham & Midlands Institute, Birmingham

With masterclasses, performances and talks including Q&A, the electronic music conference in Birmingham had interesting and influential musicians to offer.

While organiser Chris Wave said very little and showed a 26 minute 1980’s film called ‘Knights electric’ with a great soundtrack and a crappy storyline during his 30 minutes set the event really became meaningful when the various conveyors of electronic music gave their talks and allowed plenty of time for audience members to ask questions.


First up was synthesist Richard Barbieri whose band ‘Japan’ enjoyed success in the mid 1970s into the early 1980’s and especially their album ‘Tin Drum’ is seen as ground-breaking. Not as big in their home country as they should have been, Japan still had a large following in the UK. Barbieri was a down to earth guy who openly talked about the trappings of working on projects alone and the joys of collaborating and recalled some Japan related anecdotes. 








Classically trained musician Chris Payne was next and he talked about how confining it often was during the making of Gary Numan’s highly praised album ‘The pleasure principle’ where he was asked just to play certain chords and didn’t always get a chance to express himself artistically. 

He spoke fondly of his time with Gary Numan both as a touring musician as well as being in the studio. Payne also co-wrote the global smash hit ‘Fade to grey’ by Visage.

He was a fun guy to listen to and even asked questions inquiring how, for song writing musicians in the audience, the collaborative process worked and shaped their music and shared his experiences as a film music composer, classically trained violinist and had interesting things to say about the music industry.






World renowned DJ Rusty Egan was next and he has a highly entertaining personality. He used his hour more or less entirely to rant about the misdeeds of musicians he had once helped out and there wasn’t anything to learn or to take home particularly from his 60-minute talk.




The highlight of this exciting afternoon was clearly the presentation and talk from Heaven 17’s Martyn Ware (also of The Human League fame). He talked about ‘his life in 20 synths’ and talked about his career as a musician as well as a producer (Erasure & Terence Trent D’arby were some artists he worked with) and the second part of his talk was about his audio-visual installations that are globally successful and exciting.

He candidly answered the ever-occurring question about performing The Human League’s first two albums with the original line up and his relationship to Philip Oakey and was fascinating to listen to.
All speakers were easily approachable and there were no big egos in the room – just very nice people and influential musician who helped shape the history of electronic music.




Tuesday, March 14, 2017

13.03.2017 ARW (Anderson, Rabin, Wakeman) – An evening of YES music and more

Symphony Hall, Birmingham

The date of this amazing gig coincided with my 50th birthday and YES formed in 1968 and the guys could have played for weeks and not exhaust their back catalogue.


Quite a fractured proposition at times with many changing members YES still never lost their essence on their numerous albums and seeing Jon Anderson, Rick Wakeman and Trevor Rabin together with two outstanding musicians on drums and bass was simply amazing.

Anderson had formed YES with is buddy Chris Squire who sadly passed away in June 2015. Jon Anderson said that ‘he was Obi Wan Kenobi and Squire was Darth Vader and that they were the ying and yang of the band but true musical brothers’ and it was nice to hear that.

The evening was amazing: Rick Wakeman in T-Shirt, Jogging pants and his infamous cape surrounded by two Korg™ Kronos’s, a Korg Triton, a Minimoog and other synths I couldn’t quite make out from where I was sat is a towering figure and larger than life, quite a contrast to the tiny frame that is Jon Anderson and it has always been these two that made YES work.

Not to take anything away from Trevor Rabin who is a super gifted musician and film composer. He played on 4 YES albums including their biggest selling album ever 90125 from 1983.

Indeed, all three will be inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of fame in April of 2017.

The whole night was mesmerizing and my personal highlights were ‘Roundabout’ from 1971s ‘Fragile’ album, ‘You and I’ from 1972s ‘Close to the edge’ album and my favourite memory has got to be the epic ‘Awaken’ from 1977’s ‘Going for the one’ album.

Classic YES.

The band interacted lovingly and naturally with one another and the chemistry was felt by the audience and the musical soundscapes were simply from out of this world.

Rabin & Wakeman went on a walkabout through the hall during ‘Owner of a lonely heart’ which was yet another highlight of the show.

I feel very blessed to have seen these legends live on stage