freeline-23 - Page 95

Made In England
Oh, Yes Indeed!
So, to end the year we go live. After a
few very good live performances during the year, I ended the year with a
couple that I was really looking forward to, and I wasn’t disappointed.
Joe Bonamassa at the Hammersmith
Apollo had been booked for quite a
while, and the closer it got the more
excitement I felt. I’d bought six tickets,
one of which was auctioned for Help
for Heroes, and the added bonus was
that Sir Pete had one of the other five
tickets. In the end, though, Brian Fisher
had the ticket bought for him by his
brother, Del, and knew as much about
Pete Springate as I do about Brian’s
mother-in-laws cat! But that mattered
not a jot, and when Pete, Vince, Ben,
Tony Badham and I met up with Brian
in the pub over the road, it was as if
we’d known each other for ages.
When I saw Joe at the Apollo last
year it had been standing only, which,
although atmospheric, was a bit difficult for a short-arse like me. This time
round, though, we were seated and
had a perfect view of the stage. But it
wasn’t the view we were worried
about. For the next two and a half
hours we were treated to some of the
most incredible guitar playing I’ve ever
witnessed. This is the fifth time I’ve
seen Joe in as many years, and he just
gets better and better. His blues, and
blues rock, is like a machine gun attack
on your senses, and sometimes you
have to check that he does actually
only have five fingers on each hand.
But to me it’s in the slow stuff that he
excels, and reminds me so much of the
late Gary Moore (to whom he played a
suitable tribute on the night). Sloe Gin
has become an epic – his Stairway to
Heaven – and begins with the most
beautiful two-minute solo before melding into the main song, finishing almost
t e n m i n u t e s l a t e r. L i k e w i s e
India/Mountain Time is so delicious it
sounds as if he is playing the strings
with honey. In between these he
rocked, he rolled and he shredded to
his heart’s content. Young Man Blues
just knocks you over with the power of
the guitar and drums and the final Just
Got Paid ended with a couple of minutes of Dazed and Confused that had
you looking to see if Jimmy Page might
have crept on stage, unnoticed – a truly
astounding few hours that left us a bit
speechless, really. And I’ve got tickets
to see him in Brighton in April – oh
deep joy!
Talking of Brighton, it was to the
Dome we went a few weeks ago to see
a band I’ve been waiting to see for
forty years – Yes. Since the early seventies I’ve been mesmerised by their
complex time signatures, bizarre lyrics
and just general brilliance. But, as was
the way back then, I just didn’t have
the money to go and see them so when
(Above Right) Joe Bonamassa just
keeps getting better and better.
(Left) Yes! Worth waiting 40 years for.
I heard that they were touring I knew I
had to get there. Jon Anderson has had
problems with his voice recently, so
they’ve drafted in a guy who was actually in a Yes tribute band until a couple
of years ago – what better substitute
than someone who does it for a living?
Original members Steve Howe, Chris
Squire and Alan White were joined on
keyboards by Asia’s Geoff Downes, but
all I knew was that I’d waited forty
years to hear ‘Yours is no Disgrace’,
and I could wait no longer. We were
about ten rows from the front, the
place was full, and as the first notes of
‘Yours is no Disgrace’ opened the
show, I could have died and gone to
heaven! Two and a half hours and just
a dozen songs later and I was most
definitely in heaven. A couple of tracks
off the new album were interspersed in
between what I can only describe as
my perfect Yes set. ‘And You and I’, ‘I’ve
seen all Good People’, ‘Wondrous Stories’ were all there, as well as a beautiful ten-minute classical/flamenco set
by the remarkable Steve Howe. A couple of more recent tunes led up to the
wonderful finale of ‘Starship Trooper’.
Brilliant, rousing, uplifting and all
points in between, ending in the sooverlooked virtuosity of ‘Wurm’. But,
what of an encore? ‘Roundabout’ of
course. On and on, round and round it
went, ending with a standing ovation
that lasted almost as long. I am so glad
that I went; a mere forty years later and
it was if it was only yesterday.
Next year promises to be just as
interesting, with Skynyrd, Sabbath and
the Boss already announcing dates in
the UK. And I hear rumours that Joe
Walsh might be touring The James
Gang – another band I’ve waited forty
years to see. Here’s hoping.
Have a rocking New Year, and keep
me posted with anything you think I
need to hear. n


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