Archived entries for Music

Bruce Springsteen Wembley 2016

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Wembley Stadium, 5 June 2016
Springsteen Wembley June 2016

Photograph ©TheSubstantive

Through the wonders of the world wide web, there is now a nice little fan created site that allows other Springsteen followers to have a look at some of the stats of the variety of sets The Boss has played dating back to 1973. In that time word has spread that he, augmented with the E Street Band, are the best live rock’n’roll performers in history. And the word is right.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s only London performance during The River Tour 2016 produces all the magic of a Springsteen gig, acting like a drug that takes hours to come down from, leaves a glow for days to come and leaves people walking away thinking it was an even better hit than the last. And the last, two nights earlier at Coventry, was brilliant. Like at Coventry he played 33 songs, but yet 14 of them were different from the Friday night.

At sixty-six years of age there is a recognition that Bruce can’t go on forever, while he still continues makes every live performance special. Throughout a hot and humid day in north-west London anticipation builds as people flock from their local accomedation from their overseas trips, the rail replacement services, the slow Sunday trains and the 182 bus that stops at Wembley Park. And that anticipation explodes into an atmosphere that lasts an unrelenting three and a half hour perfomance. Continue reading…

Bruce Springsteen Coventry 2016

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Ricoh Arena, 3 June 2016

Bruce Springsteen Coventry 2016 For You Live Solo

Photograph ©TheSubstantive

It is not even quarter to seven in the evening when Bruce Springsteen walks on stage in Coventry. He’s on his own and saunters over to sit at Roy Bittan’s grey piano, lit sky blue by the lights. Something special, in the spirit of Hyde Park 2012, is coming. He delivers a rare outing of For You, from his debut album released in January 1973; on record it is a song where he is at his most Dylan-like, with cutting, poetic lyrics and flowing delivery where he throws away the odd line with disdain as part of a fuller, fluent sound. The live solo verison is more sombre and a sold out stadium, which was bustling before the start to the point there was no room to move in the first third of the matted football pitch. fell silent in awe.

Almost seamlessly he brings on the band, walks centre stage and within a heartbeat they launch into a thrilling version of Something in the Night. Something in the eye. But there ain’t even a cloud in the sky. Soon, many were lost in a flood. Something in the Night, a song about blanking everything else all out in lament, was delivered with an intensity that was transparent both in the sound and in The Boss’s face, beamed close-up on big screens. It was then followed immediately by Prove it All Night. Two storming versions of songs he cited at Wembley 2013 as part of his fiercest collection. Overpowering yet empowering at the same time. To nick another Springsteen lyric, he is getting a crowd to laugh and cry in a single sound. And it wasn’t even 7pm. Continue reading…

Bruce Springsteen Manchester 2016

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Ethiad Stadium, 25 May 2016

Bruce Springsteen The Substantive illustration by Lilly Allen (portrait)

Paul Johnson shares his personal experience of seeing The Boss bring The River Tour to the UK. (Links in Bold.)

One soft infested summer me and Peter became friends…

I have total and complete recall of buying, playing & learning The River way back in 1980 – a damp, dark winter alone in the lounge, playing the 4 sides again and again and again. It’s how people my age used to consume their music. It was a study, a task, an effort to understand the album, to consider the meaning, the order of tracks, the highs and lows. You needed to “get it”. You listened to your music, you didn’t just hear it.

I’d met Pete the year before, at college and he would become my lifelong best friend, who I speak with almost every day.  It was therefore particularly fitting that we walked into the damp, over cast, unseasonably chilly Etihad together, 36 years after The River was released (& 37 years after we’d met) to prepare for its first full live airing in Europe. Continue reading…

Iggy Pop Royal Albert Hall, Friday 13th May 2016

Lust For Life: Iggy Pop at the Royal Albert Hall, Friday 13th May 2016

Iggy Pop Royal Albert Hall May 2016

Richard Pearmain with words and phtopgraph on Iggy Pop in London.

The only UK stop on a tour promoting what may well be his final album, Iggy Pop at the Albert Hall was always going to be a more than just another gig. The portents had proved promising, with an acquaintance who’d seen him in Berlin a few days earlier telling me that they’d been blown away by his performance.

With a sell out crowd, and a preponderance of Bowie t-shirts on display, I also spotted Bobby Gillespie of Primal Scream dashing through one of the venue’s entrances – clearly, Kensington Gore was the place to be tonight.

Co-written and produced by Queens Of The Stone Age frontman Josh Homme, and featuring bandmate Dean Fertita and Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders, Post Pop Depression is a fine swansong, and occasionally redolent of Pop’s collaborations with David Bowie – indeed, The Idiot and Lust For Life figured heavily in tonight’s set list. Continue reading…

Bruce Springsteen The River Tour LA March 2016

Bruce Springsteen Close-up

Photograph ©TheSubstantive

Bruce Springsteen The River Tour – LA Memorial Sports Arena, March 2016

The 2013 Ridley Scott produced film Springsteen and I begins with footage of The Boss speaking almost evangelically on stage which sets the tone for an enjoyable journey of short home-made movies from a few of his many disciples, compiled to show the long lasting effect Bruce Springsteen and his music has had on their lives. The highlight of the film, even more so than the wonderful archives, the comedy (often accidental) contained in some of DIY videos and a range of great anecdotes and emotive testaments, is an epilogue when Springsteen meets some of the contributors to their surprise; the film is just a glimpse, but a telling one, into the transforming experience he promises, and delivers, at the start of his live shows as he takes his audience back down to The River, thirty-six years after its release.

The River, as he explains on stage in this tour, was his attempt to make an all encompassing “big” record. His fifth album in 1980 followed two masterpieces, Born to Run (1975) and Darkness on the Edge of Town (1978), both of which he started playing alternatively in their entirety during the 2013 European leg of the Wrecking Ball, starting at Wembley, and also throwing in the hit laden and under rated Born in the USA (1984) to lucky crowds as well on other nights. Now it’s the turn of the double album, The River, taking the first two hours of performances that last 3 hours 20 minutes, where Bruce hardly takes a breath, sweats a monsoon and the E Street again prove all night that they are the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band of all time. Continue reading…

Willie Nelson and Family, Austin, Texas

Willie Nelson and Family, Austin Rodeo 2016

Photograph ©TheSubstantive

Willie Nelson and Family, Austin Rodeo – 12 March 2016

Even in Austin, Texas, where every type of live music can be found on a daily basis, one man is the figurehead. In the centre of a bustling downtown area there are large murals of Willie Nelson, a life size bust and a Boulevard named after him while in the airport there is his memorabilia available at numerous outlets while on screen in souvenir stores video footage show him receiving plaudits from Presidents. Now aged 82, a homecoming performance in the Texan capital is an event. Continue reading…

David Bowie: Loving the Alien

Richard Pearmain on the loss of David Bowie.

“Where the fuck did Monday go?” A line from a song on an album that had come out only three days before. That particular Monday went floating in a most peculiar way.

I first saw the news on the platform at Hackney Downs station, idly scrolling through Facebook on my phone whilst waiting for a train in to work, noticing an unusual number of Bowie related posts, and then I saw a link to the story on BBC News. You get that immediate sense of incomprehension (“but he’s only just released a new album! I’d just been to a Bowie birthday club night in Brixton!”), and then a sense of – well, I don’t know really. Why was I feeling so upset? I got a text from a friend, who I’d been to that club night with, who was in tears, and asking the same question. We didn’t know David Bowie personally, we’d never met him, but it felt almost like a death in the family. Continue reading…

New Order Brixton Academy Nov 2015

New Order Brixton Nov 2015

New Order Brixton Academy

It seemed fitting that, as Storm Barney was worrying garden gnomes up and down the land, Bernard “Barney” Sumner and co were breezing into Brixton for the second of two nights at the Academy, promoting their first studio album in ten years (and their first album post Hook).

Music Complete is arguably New Order’s finest LP since Technique, and certainly their most dancefloor orientated. It’s a different beast to its immediate predecessors, the heavier Get Ready and the slightly more dad rock Waiting For The Siren’s Call, and (not getting drawn on the whole “they’re not the same without Peter Hook” argument) with new bassist Tom Chapman refraining from trying to ape the sound of you-know-who, it sounds better for it.

Although tonight’s show didn’t seem to be sold out, there was the longest queue I’d been part of at the venue – no doubt it was due to tightened security following events in Paris that was slowing things down (leaving the venue seemed to take much longer than usual, as well). It was also, as you’d expect, a pretty mixed crowd – plenty of younger fans in amongst the veterans. Continue reading…

Badly Drawn Boy The Hour of Bewilderbeast Live

Badly Drawn Boy The Hour of the Bewilderbeast live The Barbican

 

Badly Drawn Boy The Hour of Bewilderbeast, 15th Anniversary Tour

The Barbican, Sunday 26 July 2015

When Badly Drawn Boy released The Hour of Bewilderbeast in 2000 it was an instant masterpiece; creative, captivating and musically brilliant. It didn’t just stand the test of time as one of the best albums of the decade alongside other great debuts by The Streets, The Strokes, Arcade Fire, Fleet Foxes and the Arctic Monkeys, like the strongest album of the previous decade (Radiohead’s Ok Computer) and the best so far of this (Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds’ Push the Sky Away) it endures repeated listening from first note to last.

So a 15th Anniversary Tour is a welcome treat, even from a notoriously moody live performer as Damon Gough. He has played albums in full before in London. In August 2004 at the Royal Festival Hall, a not dissimilar venue, he played the whole of his then new release, One Plus One Is One. He came on stage saying how it didn’t work well the previous night, but fuck it, he was going to do it again. Like his mates the Doves, he has never seemed fully at home playing London. But eleven summers on at a sold out Barbican, full of love, this time he had no doubts, and played a wonderful, energetic set. Continue reading…

Brix & The Extricated, 100 Club, 29 May 2015

Brix Smith

As well as being steeped in jazz and blues, the 100 Club on Oxford Street also has its own special place in the annals of punk, so it was kind of fitting that tonight we would hear the music of a band that evolved from that scene. Indeed, played by the people we didn’t really expect to see performing those songs again.

Continue reading…



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