I can’t think of many gigs I’ve been to in York where there has been a “Hollywood celebrity” in the audience…
Stolen Earth are seemingly on an ever-steeper upward curve. After a handful of gigs in 2011, a debut album is due in June, with a launch party planned at The Duchess on the 16th and a further few promotional dates, including a second appearance at the Cambridge Rock Festival, already announced. Before all that, though, they seem to be warming up by providing support for a number of bands/artistes who have their roots in the late 60s and early 70s, having already appeared with Roger Chapman (Family, Streetwalkers) and with upcoming gigs with Curved Air and Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash. Tonight saw them play a short but enthralling set of just four songs. This was the first time they have performed at The Duchess but the sound was superb, which bodes well for the album launch. Heidi’s vocals, still soulful, were somehow more silky and were showcased brilliantly during Tuscany Sun, while John’s keyboards were more prominent than I remember them from the previous two gigs but never swamped the overall sound. Given the wintery weather outside Into The Virgin Snow seemed a very appropriate choice of song and Perfect Wave appeared to be just that, with the song seemingly rolling out from the stage in, well, waves before Adam once again launched into his quite simply stunning guitar solo.
I freely admit that I’m not a big fab of 60’s pop music – too much of it sounds very similar to me (although, I have been chastised for saying so…) – and when Andy started getting a little excited that Colin Blunstone was going to be playing York, my first reaction was, “Who?”. I don’t think I would even have been able to come up with The Zombies if I had been asked to list bands from that era, but I did know She’s Not There, perhaps their most famous song. During tonight’s two-part set (with, it seemed, a rather long break) we were treated to songs from throughout Colin’s near fifty year career, included with the aforementioned She’s Not There were solo efforts I Don’t Believe In Miracles, Caroline Goodbye, Misty Roses and Time Of The Season. There was also Old And Wise, which he recorded with The Alan Parson Project and covers What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted, Tracks Of My Tears and On The Air Tonight. The sheer range of his career meant that I was entertained, rather than bored as I could have been if it was just sixties pop. Colin’s voice is still near crystal clear, especially between songs when he fired off entertaining and insightful snippets about most of the songs he performed and made light of his age and forgetfulness. While not exactly lively on stage (he is, after all, in his mid sixties, perhaps not quite as young as some of his publicity shots imply) he remains a strong vocal performer and is surrounded by a talented band – Pete Billington (whose varied keyboards were a highlight for me), Pat Illingworth (drums), Chris Childs (bass, also of The Union) and Tom Toomey (guitar, also a Zombie). This might not have been high on my list of gigs to attend this year, but it ended up being more entertaining than I expected.
…and the “Hollywood celebrity”? A certain David Gest was spotted. Apparently you can’t open a door in York without bumping into him at the moment.