Simple Minds: Grimsby Auditorium – live review

Simple Minds

Simple Minds
Grimsby Auditorium
27th March 2015

When stadium rock legends Simple Minds rolled into town we were lucky enough to have two reviewers present. Here’s what they had to say about a great night at the Auditorium.

Simple Minds reviewed by Tracey Edges

An eighties soundtrack, which has been playing in the background, suddenly turns to a dramatic, brooding version of Ravel’s Bolero and an expectant hush transforms a noisy and amiable audience, as all turn to face the stage in anticipation.

I had been expecting a quintet of men-in-black suits to appear on stage but that was left to Andy Gillespie on keyboards. Ged Grimes, on bass, was in traditional rock uniform of leather jacket, t-shirt, jeans and baseball boots. Founder member, and guitarist, Charlie Burchill in similar with cotton jacket. Drummer, Mel Gaynor was only visible by his face, with the rest wearing a mountainous, and impressive, drum kit.

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However, the sartorial award of the evening went to frontman Jim Kerr in a red tartan, ¾ length jacket, white shirt with dandyish cuffs and a black scarf, with tight black trousers and glossy black boots. Vocalist, keys and additional guitar player, red-haired, Catherine AD was absolutely stunning in a red, sleeveless, glossy PVC dress and red tartan leggings with black glossy boots. They accessorised each other, perfectly.

The first half, centre back stage, proudly raised, was owned by Catherine AD aka The Anchoress, who also happens to be a university lecturer. Catherine has written a book about, and lectures on, gay poetry, has given social media lessons to Chrissie Hynde and is also a participant in a joint venture band, The Dark Flowers, founded by Paul Statham, alongside Jim Kerr and others.

The line-up complete for the first set, the lightshow began, the smoke machines whirred but this was no smoke and mirrors ‘vintage’ tour. This was a band still relevant, fresh and still able to turn out Big Music. As Jim Kerr said, “It’s not us who’s coming back. It’s you”.

They were alive and kicked off with (sorry – but best to get that inevitable one out of the way!) with a track off the Big Music album: Let The Day Begin. The crowd didn’t need a warm up – they were off – straight into the big sound, the arm waving, the bouncing up and down.

I would guess a fair percentage were Simple Minds fans from the glory years and the odd screeched out “I love you Jim” floated around, hung in the air and fell like a thud from a bygone era.

Grimsby was the first gig of the 30 date UK tour and as a smaller town, and as the warm up – was it going to be a bit pedestrian? Not at all.

Jim Kerr had a twinkle in his eye, was relaxed, looked like he was really enjoying the show, was happy to pose for the multitude of photographs and had a bit of a banter. He mentioned Hull and got a loud boo and then mentioned Cleethorpes to a humongous cheer. Asked how the local football team was doing, he got a groan and responded “Oh, not that well then?!”

Promising to “Play Everything”, a bit difficult with a back catalogue of 18 studio albums, spanning 35 years from, Life In A Day, released in 1979 to, Big Music in 2014, they managed to produce a well balanced show of old favourites and new material.

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The combination of electro and big stadium sound made an accessible listen even to anyone who hadn’t been previously familiar with their whole canon of work. I was pleased that I had managed to listen to some of Big Music as I recognised some tracks and Honest Town, the first single release off the album, was a particular favourite of mine, both recorded and live.

There was a change to acoustic guitars for The American Home medley, which was full of life.

Catherine AD was allowed to shine with a solo track, when she put down her guitar, sang and played keyboard to an entranced and appreciative audience. The first set ended with the two big anthems; Waterfront and Don’t You Forget About Me leaving the crowd high and happy, waiting in anticipation for the second set.

Before I heard Catherine perform I had been disappointed to think that Sarah Brown wasn’t singing with Simple Minds for this tour but as the Auditorium lights went down and the stage lights went on, Sarah was there all impressively massive hair and zebra striped dress with bright red tights and killer heels.

She strikingly dominated the stage with her presence and her voice until, after holding the audience for a good session, she was joined by Jim and they were off again. I was unfamiliar with a few of the first tracks of the second set so just floated along with it. A change of pace was invoked with a version of The Doors’ classic, “Riders On The Storm”.

Unfortunately, from then on I was trying to outride my own storm with the only trouble-causer I saw, of the entire evening, who decided to pick on me (but that is a whole different story). I stood my ground, determined to enjoy the brilliant performance right up to the final encore which was, of course, the roof raising, guaranteed crowd pleaser, Alive and Kicking.

Many happy faces left Grimsby Auditorium that night, after a brilliantly entertaining show from Simple Minds who are simply, in my mind, still at the top of their game. Excellent.

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Simple Minds reviewed by idp

We can be a mardy lot up in here in Grimsby. We think nobody loves us. We feel neglected. Apart from having Channel 5 poverty porn film crews on every street corner we don’t feature much in the mainstream media, unless we’re a key marginal with at least one candidate with alleged links to the far right. (Mentioning no names.)

We don’t get many visits from big name bands either and when we do it sometimes feels like they only bring half their kit and only really give it half their usual effort. “It’s only Grimsby lads, save some energy for Wolverhampton,” we can almost hear them say as they wait in the wings.

So when a band of the calibre of Simple Minds decide to open their UK tour here it’s a big deal and the Auditorium is appropriately packed for the show well before kick off. From the moment Jim Kerr struts onto the stage in a bright red tartan frock coat (apparently he’s Scottish) it’s clear that there aren’t going to be any half measures at this show. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anybody look more pleased to be on a stage and he seems to be genuinely impressed with the response from the packed house, as well he might be because the crowd are cheering and singing along right from the start.

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With a back catalogue as long as your arm and a well received new album (last year’s Big Music) to boot Simple Minds are never going to be short of tunes to play but they do their best to pack as many as possible into the set, which allowing for the break runs to over two and a half hours of high intensity performance. Nobody leaves complaining that they didn’t get good value.

It seems to have been fashionable among reviewers of Big Music to praise the parts of the album that hark back to the band’s early output and to be slightly dismissive of songs, like the title track, that evoke the stadium filling sounds of the late eighties onwards. But if we’re being honest here then for me, (and for lots of others judging by the reactions of the crowd on the night), then it was from Sparkle In The Rain that Simple Minds really made an impact on me and I have no problem with them revisiting that era.

With Mel Gaynor’s insistently snary percussion and Andy Gillespie’s keyboards providing the underpinning for the anthemic expansiveness which nowadays characterises the Simple Minds sound, the band seem to sound even more eighties today than they did in the eighties and the new songs blend seamlessly in with the classics. I won’t claim to be a Simple Minds expert and there are plenty of occasions when I can’t decide whether we’re listening to 20th or 21st century vintage but in this relatively small venue, which has a remarkably good acoustic for bands that can crank the volume up a little, it feels that we could almost be at Wembley or The Shea with Thatcher and Reagan chatting over coffee and looking deep into each other’s eyes just down the road.

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Good though the band are, with Ged Grimes unerring on bass and of course co-founder member Charlie Burchill laying down his trademark flickering guitar alongside those already mentioned, it’s Kerr who is the undoubted star of the show, grinning like a Cheshire and constantly in motion, leaning out across the pit to hold the microphone towards the audience, bounding around the stage twirling the mic stand like a dandy with a long cane, or doing what would probably be dad dancing if I did it but which looks rather cool when he does it , he’s a non stop ball of energy chatting with front row, discussing football or waving to people in the balconies. I read in an interview that he hung out for a while with Springsteen in New York and it’s the Boss’s kind of boundless energy and inclusiveness that he displays here. At the end of the gig half the people present will feel like they have had a momentary intimacy with the star of the show, and that’s quite a skill.

The first half of the set is predominantly rock and acoustic tracks (for which the band are joined by Welsh multi-instrumentalist Catherine AD who stars when she switches to keyboards for a stately Rivers Of Ice) and the second featuring soul vocalist Sarah Brown who takes a solo on Book Of Beautiful Things and backs up magnificently on Sanctify Yourself, on which Kerr is so convincing in his role as a revivalist preacher that you wouldn’t be surprised if he pulled a handful of rattlesnakes from the pocket of his black jacket (costume change during half time interval).

Highlights of the show? That’s a tough call and it’s always tempting at this point to pick an obscure track and say how nice it is to see it getting dusted off for the first time in twenty odd years and how you’ve always loved it and felt it was under appreciated but actually on the night it’s Don’t You Forget About Me which starts as a booming monster delivered across a sea of waving arms and mobile phones and gradually morphs into something small and intimate as Kerr lead a call and response singalong from a seated position at the front of the stage.

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From pure eighties over the top stadium rock to delicate and emotional choristry in two minutes or less – it’s some trick and serves to prove that for this tour Simple Minds are a band back on the top of their game. The encores end with Riders On The Storm, as dark and malevolent as the original, and finally Alive And Kicking. As we file out and wait for twenty or thirty minutes to get out of the car park I can hear a lot of people singing tunelessly in their stationary cars and the town seems quite cheerful, almost. But don’t let it fool you.

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Simple Mind’s website : simpleminds.com and they’re on Facebook and tweet as @simplemindscom

All words by idp and Tracey Edges.

More work by idp can be found in his Louder Than War archive. His photography website is here and his photo blog is here.

Tracey Edges is an Artist, Writer and Radio Presenter. Her writing can be found on her PI GY Blog and at alittlebitoftraceyedges Her shamefully neglected website shows some examples of her work and her radio show can be heard here. She tweets as @tedges

Swan Lake: Live Streamed At The Whitgift

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Swan Lake

Live Stream from Royal Opera House @ Whitgift Film Theatre

Tuesday 17th March 2015

Reviewed by Josie Gray

From the melancholy solo opening notes of the oboe to the final dramatic climax of the closing movement, Tchaikovsky’s epic Swan Lake remains one of the most popular ballet scores in the history of classical ballet. In this beautiful production AnthonyDowell’s breathtaking interpretation takes the audience into a magical, romantic and ultimately tragic world of bygone Russian royal power undermined by calculating evil.

The great challenge in Swan Lake is for the prima ballerina to capture the essence of the dual roles of Odette/Odile and make both equally convincing. Natalia Osipova is exceptional in both roles although for me she demonstrates more intense drama in her capture of Odile in Act III. Matthew Golding as Prince Siegfried is certainly dashing, strong and masculine but his fresh, buffed good looks are a littletoo clean cut to be the darker and more brooding presence that the part requires. Von Rothbart, danced by Gary Avis, is full of menace and intensity and he casts a sense of dread over the production.

The corps de ballet is exceptional and works seamlessly to provide beautiful set pieces and exquisite still moments particularly when Odette and Siegfried are declaring their love in those famous pas de deux sequences in Act II. The discipline and technique required to hold those shapes are notorious and dancers are required to exercise extreme levels of self control to maintain them. In ballet, artists truly suffer for their art. The well loved and often parodied Dance of the Cygnets is gorgeous with the dancers mimicking a paddling movement with their feet that evokes webbed feet in water. The Neapolitan Dance in Act III is also particularly good as it is intricate and exciting and danced with spectacular energy in this production.

I was wondering if the live stream experience could get close to the true live experience of being in the theatre. Due to the quality of the filming those of us in the cinema certainly had a better view of the performance than we would have had in many of the seats in the Royal Opera House. The sound quality was excellent so the music could be enjoyed and appreciated. The glimpses of backstage and Darcey Bussell’s hosting were interesting and enjoyable. The whole principle of live streaming is one to be celebrated as it widens participation in arts that are seen as inaccessible and enables those who have no means to visit venues like the Royal Opera House a chance to see the very best of productions. It isn’t live and as it isn’t the same as attending a live performance but it is completely engaging and thoroughly enjoyable.

The cinema was about two thirds full on Tuesday evening and I wondered where all the dance school teachers and their aspiring young dancers were. After all an important part of the process of becoming an excellent performer is watching excellent performers and being inspired by them. With any luck they’ll all read this and be there next time. That would be nice and the enterprising people at the Whitgift deserve the support.

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The Whitgift Film Theatre is online at whitgiftfilmtheatre.co.uk and they’re on Facebook too

Words by Josie Gray

California Drumming For Humber Taiko

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There are exciting times ahead for Taiko drummers Emma Middleton and Lisa Oliver as they head across the pond in April for three weeks of intensive training as the official holders of the St Hugh’s Arts Award 2014, from The St Hugh’s Foundation.

They will travel to California to work with the renowned San Jose Taiko, receiving lessons, composition training and consultation from San Jose Taiko’s founders PJ and Roy Hirabayashi. They will also study in LA with Kris Bergstrom of the LA Taiko Institute.

Emma and Lisa plan to bring their new skills back to Gyoko Taiko which is part of their larger regional organisation Humber Taiko, by offering advanced training and high quality professional performances.

The award is a major achievement and their St Hugh’s mentor Elaine Munson of Abbey Walk Gallery paid tribute to them as she explained why they had been chosen to receive the award.

“Emma and Lisa have great passion and enthusiasm in all they do and are blessed with creative talents which they willingly share with others. It was refreshing to hear them enthuse about Grimsby and its community with whom they work tirelessly. Humber Taiko is dedicated to providing an enjoyable and professional programme of events for people of all ages and abilities to take part in. They are ambitious in their outlook and we believe that the award will enable them to create a centre of excellence for Taiko drumming in NE Lincolnshire.”

Originating in Japan, Taiko drumming uses a mixture of percussion, voice and choreography to create stunning live performances.

Emma and Lisa have spent more than 5 years developing Taiko drumming across the Humber Region and have groups in Scunthorpe and Grimsby with additional projects ongoing in schools and community centres both north and South of the Humber bridge. To find out more about what they do and how you can join in visit www.humbertaiko.org, email info@humbertaiko.org, look on Facebook at HumberTaiko or ring 07742 980106.

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Humber Taiko’s website is here They are also on Facebook

This feature also appears in The Peoples Issue 33 Web Edition

Nicola Farnon: Swing and Sunshine at the Central Hall

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After hot footing it over from a lunchtime set in Clitheroe, the Nicola Farnon Trio, Nicola Farnon, voice and bass, Phil Johnson, drums and Piero Tucci, piano and sax are on fine form when I catch up with them for a quick chat before the show. I arrive at the end of sound check and find Nicola happy to chat over fish and chips, one of the perks of playing in Grimsby or Cleethorpes.

She tells me that things are getting busy with festival bookings and a series of gigs on the rural touring circuit. The band clearly enjoy the ‘quirky’ gigs and venues on the rural tour and say they are well looked after wherever they go and that they are playing to mixed audiences who are not necessarily into jazz.

We get on to talking about songs and the joy of playing. Nicola likes “anything with swing” to it and says she tries to “feel” every song she performs with some becoming real favourites while others get rarer outings. She also tells me that this combo of three is particularly enjoyable as they get along together very well and have fun spending time together as musicians. Phil Johnson is Nicola’s husband and on stage there are those warm, funny moments that give an intimate glimpse into their relationship.

Jazz is a very open and free musical genre with musicians swapping and changing bands and combos, playing with lots of people. We discuss the fact that jazz tends not to be beset with the kind of petty competitive elements that are rife in other genres. There is a generosity about jazz that comes across in the music and in this trio there is a very open and generous spirit at work.

I leave Nicola to her supper after a final comment on her uncle, the renowned arranger Robert Farnon. Sinatra referred to him as ‘The Gov’ such was the respect he commanded. Nicola never met him because he worked and was busy until he died aged 86. She says “he was kind and encouraging.” Musicians don’t tend to retire, they just carry on and this is what Nicola intends to do. “I’ll be hobbling around with my bass on my back, hips willing,” she says and bursts into laughter as we part and she prepares for the stage.

Opening the set with Nat King Cole’s Let There Be Love sets the tone for what is to be a joyous gig. Nicola floods the room with the sunshine of her stage presence. She is a naturally warm performer whose whole delivery and style are uplifting. Between songs she is a gentle and funny raconteur, telling tales, losing her thread and laughing at her own scattiness. But when she’s in a song she is all music and totally compelling. Her bass has a rich and warm voice and it becomes part of her as she moves with her instrument, blending its tones with her own.

 

The first set moves and grooves with various dynamic changes and light and shade and there are plenty of opportunities for the astonishing Piero Tucci to display his inventive and highly skilled playing. I have heard Piero several times with other bands as well as this and he is always a delight to watch and listen to. It’s always a bit of a thrill to watch him play piano and sax at the same time.

First set highlights are Bye Bye Blackbird and You Don’t Know Me. The former is a song I can get tired of hearing but tonight it sounds freshly picked and bright. The latter has moments of heartbreaking intensity and rich colours to the vocal that are truly beautiful. This song is the one that most transports me and takes me to the place where there is nothing but music, nothing but the song and from where you don’t want to return.

Nicola opens the second set on her own with a lovely Abbey Lincoln song recently revived by Esperanza Spalding, Throw It Away. The voice and bass duet in a complex and interesting rhythm and harmony with a few surprising and lovely moments. This song is followed with the Gershwin classic They Can’t Take That Away From Me a personal favourite of mine and which features a stunning solo from Piero Tucci on piano. Phil Johnson gets to cut loose in One Note Samba and judging by his facial expressions he seems to be thoroughly enjoying himself, in that special way that drummers do!

If my first set highlights had me transported to special places then Moonlight in Vermont takes it one step further. This is an exceptional song in terms of its lyrical construction, based as it is on Japanese haiku poetry. Tonight the song evokes moonlight, tinkling spring rain and delicate romance. I am particularly touched by Nicola’s dedication of the song to me and hold that in my heart as once again, I wish for the song to never end.

The final song of the set Straighten Up And Fly Right is full of brightness and swings along as Piero switches between piano and sax and plays both together again. A quick and lively Cheek To Cheek provides the encore and Nicola is away to sign CDs and chat to her fans, who clearly love her. I pick up a copy of the live album A Day At The Market so I can take home a piece of that radiance that marks Nicola out as a bright star of the British jazz scene. Long may she shine.

Nicola Farnon’s website is here: nicolafarnonmusic.com She is also on Facebook

This review also appears in The Peoples Web Edition issue 33

Barb Jungr at Barton Ropery Hall

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Barb Jungr doesn’t do covers ….

…. and woe betide anyone foolish enough to utter the word within her earshot. I only did it once and such was the magnitude of her wrath that she was really nice about it, because apart from being one of the best singers in the world she is also a very lovely person.

She is, of course, an interpreter of the songs of others, a songwriter in her own right, and a performer acclaimed on both sides of the Atlantic. She has a Sunday residency at Crazy Coqs in Soho and has won two of the most prestigious theatre awards in New York, the 2008 Nightlife Award for Outstanding Cabaret Vocalist and 2003’s Best International Artist Backstage Award. She’s also a radio presenter, a composer and has a masters in ethnomusicology.

She is well known for her themed shows and albums in which she explores the songs of a particular writer or performer, and her most recent album, Hard Rain, is a collection of interpretations of songs by Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen. On Friday night she was in Barton at the Ropery Hall with a set of songs from these two master songwriters, some of them widely known, some less so, and we got to chat to her before the show.

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The Peoples: The press frequently describe you as a chansonniere. Are you happy with that description? What do you think it adds above and beyond being simply called a singer?

Barb Jungr: I don’t really think it adds anything. It’s just a French way of saying singer. It came about because my first album on Linn Records was The Space In Between, an album of French songs in translation, with works by Jacques Brel and Jacques Prevert among others. That’s when people started to associate me with the chanson tradition. French chansons are story based. They are supposed to be like one act plays although with people like Brel they are more like the works of Shakespeare. I don’t mind people using the word about me but I don’t think it adds anything.

Does it signify the idea of having an especially intense commitment to the song?

It’s possible. The French songs are very dramatic because they’re stories but Dylan songs are very dramatic too and if you don’t have an intense commitment to the song and then you shouldn’t be doing it.

Did you grow up in a house full of songs?

I grew up in a house full of music. My mum and dad came from Europe and met over here, in Rotherham, in the mills. So I grew up with a very European attitude to music. We had very catholic tastes. We had jazz and opera and Nat King Cole and Alma Cogan on the radio. We had a record player before anybody else in our street. And I was really lucky because they took me to things. They took me to everything, and amongst the little working class catholic community that absorbed us, (because in those days people did welcome and absorb people who came over from the war), they had lots of pantomimes and concerts. So there was music around us all the time. Music that people made, people who weren’t professionals. Music that we went to. We went to everything. We went to variety shows and a lot of opera. My parents didn’t think opera was posh, because in Europe it isn’t.

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So you grew up in Rochdale and Stockport. Your father was a refugee and your mother was also from Czechoslovakia. Were people nice to you and your family?

They were very nice to us. By the time I was old enough to notice everything had settled down enough but my mother had a very difficult time coming after the war. If she had known how difficult it was going to be I don’t know if she would have come. My father was very damaged. He had been in the German work camps, which were one step down from the concentration camps and I think he struggled with a lot of things for a very long time. But when the Velvet Revolution came he opened up and told us a lot about his story that we hadn’t known until then. I didn’t know his story until he applied to the German government for compensation and that’s when we realised what he had been through. But there was trouble with some kids and I got into a few fights.

What was the most important thing you learned from your parents?

My parents said “You can do anything. Except be the Pope and you might be able to do that by the time you’re old enough. You can’t be the Queen of England but you never know what else you can be. And they were right and I am very grateful for that.”

So the girl in Stockport to Memphis, sneaking out on a Friday night to get a bus into Manchester. Is that you?

Oh yes.

And when you went to London in 1975 were you running away?

No I wasn’t running away. London was just where you went if you wanted a career as a musician or an artist. I don’t think I really thought “Oh I’m going to be an artist.” That wasn’t in my head. I wasn’t that pompous. Then.

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Were you part of the punk scene?

Oh yes. I managed Angle Tracks. I married a punk drummer. And then we started recording together in a studio at the back of a bacon factory in South Kensington. My first single was recorded there. It was He’s Gone which we released as The Stroke. I still love that record and I’m dead proud of it.

Then you worked with Julian Clary. What was that like?

I worked in with Julian on stage and TV and I opened for Alexei Sayle for two years. Julian is still a really good friend. He was my guest at my residency at the Crazy Coqs last week. That was fun. I learned a lot from him about things like how to talk to audiences and framing shows. It was a great show business education.

And you worked for 13 years with Michael Parker performing a mix of folk and roots music. On the track of the Shopping For One there’s a great piece of harmonica playing. Is that you?

It’s me playing harmonica on all the Jungr/Parker stuff.

It’s a really great piece of playing. And you played harmonica on Billy Bragg’s Workers Playtime album too. Nowadays that’s regarded as a classic album. Did it feel like a classic at the time?

No. Not at the time, but Billy was really sweet. He released a lot of our existing Jungr/Parker stuff on vinyl which was really putting his money where his mouth was.

In 1991 you went to the Sudan and later to Burma and the Cameroon. After that you decided to do a masters in ethnomusicology. Was that a good experience?

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The masters was not just a result of the trips for the British Council. A lot of things were happening in my life at the same time. Jungr/Parker was falling in on itself which happened naturally and I’m still great friends with Michael. In fact I have just re-released Blue Devils on my own label on iTunes because some of that stuff has never been available except on cassette and that stopped years and years ago and now we are re-mastering and putting them out again. We had some family illness as well and I lost my sister to multiple sclerosis and I felt that I just needed some space. So the masters came along at just the right time. I did two years at Goldsmiths and the School of African Studies and it was a wonderful experience. I was around a lot of to really brilliant people. John Baily who is the world’s leading expert on Afghanistan music and who has saved a lot of Afghan musical history over the past few troubled years was my tutor. I was very lucky. And then I kept going back to Africa. I did my Masters in the music of Malawi because I was working with the national troupe there.

Do you see many connections between the African music you studied and the music that you perform? Or do you try to make connections?

The connections happen anyway. Music is music. Everything is music. I don’t think that music is an international language because there are some musics that don’t to speak to each other. But usually two musicians can sit down together and find something in common whatever traditions they come from.

You’ve done several themed albums based on the music of individual performers like Elvis, Nina Simone, Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen. Are there any other writers you would like to perform in this way?

I’ve got so much that we’ve already started. We are performing the Dylan/Cohen show that we’re doing tonight. We have also resurrected the chansons and we did them in Brighton last week and I’m going to dig out the Elvis material and do that again as well. I’m also updating the Nina Simone songs with Simon Wallace who is accompanying me tonight. So I am very busy but there are things are I have mind the but I don’t like to discuss them too far in advance.

Your new album features the songs of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen. Do you approach each of them differently?

No. I approach them as I would any other song. I try it in my own way and see if it works and if it doesn’t work, if the song means enough to me, I will keep on trying. Sometimes the people I’m working with make suggestions which help to make it work. But I don’t have a set mental process about the interpretation of the songs. My intellectual life is not there. It is in the books that I’m reading and the things that I am researching that interest me. These things may not be specifically about music but to me everything is about music. If I were reading about Van Gogh, that’s music. Driving here was about music. Sitting here talking is about music. Everything is about music.

Among newer songwriters is there anybody writing songs of this quality?

I haven’t found anybody but Dylan and Cohen have fifty or sixty years of work behind them. It’s very hard to compare newer songwriters work against that kind of back catalogue. Often somebody will say to me something like “This is the new Joni Mitchell” and I will think “No, you need to go back and listen to the original Joni Mitchell if you think that.”
All we can ask is that young songwriters try to be who they really are and not to copy people who have already been successful. And we shouldn’t hothouse people or bring them forward too soon. We should give people time to develop their talents. Nowadays a performer can go from living in a cupboard to having seventeen Grammys in a couple of weeks.They haven’t had the space all the time to find themselves. When Dylan had his first success he had been around awhile already and then he carried on working. And he didn’t carry on working on primetime television. He played small clubs and learned his craft. Time to develop is crucial for any artist and in a world where people can have been on The Voice and then are playing for thousands of people a week later, where is their time to learn? I think that’s a real problem.

But would you still recommend it for young people as a career path? Is it still a good way to make a living?

I wouldn’t say either of those things but I would say that if you are a young person who has the desire to act or write or sing then you should do it but not because you expect to get rich. Don’t do it because you think it’s going to be easy or great for your bank balance or for your social life, because it probably isn’t. It’s a vocation. You should do it because you love it. I’ve driven two hundred miles today to sing some songs in Barton and then I’ll drive two hundred miles home. And that makes me happy. I love singing to people.

And we love listening. Thank you very much indeed.

Thank you. You’re welcome.

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When Barb Jungr takes the stage it’s clear that she hasn’t been kidding. She radiates joy from the start and her takes on her chosen texts are transformative and inspirational.

The show opens with Dylan’s It’s Alright Ma, but it is delivered as a recitative with a rock and roll chorus, allowing her to bring out the irony of the wordplay in the verses. I’m taking some pictures and from my position stage right I can watch her through the lense as she acts her way through the lyric as if she were in a light opera, performing a particularly complex patter song. She doesn’t just stand and sing, she is constantly in motion, hand gestures, body shapes, facial expressions all come together to create an intense and mesmerising piece of musical and physical theatre.

She switches mood almost immediately, sliding into a soft jazz version of Cohen’s memento mori Who By Fire, as graceful an interrogation of Death the Leveller as anyone has ever attempted. The song is full of dreamy Joni Mitchellesque vocal runs and emphatic pauses. It’s breathtaking stuff and the audience is so still you could hear a pin drop, or a shutter click, so I just listen and enjoy and wait for something more upbeat where I can shoot the last of my pictures without ruining the silence.

It arrives with a personal favourite of my own, one of Dylan’s finest later songs, the relatively unknown Oscar winner Things Have Changed. It’s a brilliant cascade of imagery and ideas, by turns funny, charming, bawdy and grotesque and Jungr performs it with relish, emphasising the comedy and loquacity of the lyric.

She takes a favourite line from the song –

“feel like fallin’ in love with the first woman I meet, puttin’ her in a wheelbarrow and wheelin’ her down the street”

as the text for a brief conversation with the audience about the difference between Cohen and Dylan, the former an engaging lovable old roue who could chat to you at a party for a few minutes and feel like your life is a better place because of it and the latter a fully paid up member of the awkward squad – bitter, a little perverse, full of testosterone and bile.

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The theme for the evening is to be the counterintuitive exercise of finding the most compassionate pieces of Dylan and the most vitriolic of Cohen, to compare and contrast each of them at their most atypical.
So we have a jazz version of First We Take Manhattan followed by a fine Chimes Of Freedom. Jungr performs the full version with the awkward verses left in, the ones that even Dylan never plays any more, and she makes them work. It’s Dylan’s greatest early masterpiece, (I’ll show my hand and admit that although I’m a near obsessive Dylan fan I’ve never been fond of the early acoustic stuff), and she brings out the poetry perfectly, turning the song into a diary note set to music (I read that somewhere), a tumble of narrative over a rolling, rumbling piano line from the always excellent Simon Wallace.

It’s a great show, with Jungr talkative and funny in the spaces between. That Clary fellow must have taught her well. Other highlights include a grimly humorous The Future, an up tempo jazz tinged Everybody Knows and A Thousand Kisses Deep which comes in as a bold confession, delivered in a spirit of resignation, not hope of absolution. Some things are too serious to be forgiven.

Even my pet hates, Masters Of War, (which Jungr performs as a one way conversation with an imaginary master of war who is sitting in the wings and pulling faces at her) and Blowin’ In The Wind (which she makes sound almost like the work of a grown up) sound better than I’ve ever heard them performed live (and I’ve heard them a fair few times).

Towards the end of the show there’s a special moment – a song I’ve known for years but never fully appreciated, the lovely Land Of Plenty, composed by Cohen and Sharon Robinson and taken from 2001’s Ten New Songs album. I’ve heard it frequently but it’s the one song on the set list to which I don’t know all the words and I feel like I’m hearing it for the first time. I guess that’s what listening to a great singer interpret songs afresh can do for you.

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It’s been a wonderful night and it’s Land Of Plenty that I find myself singing as we leave and for most of the rest of the weekend. fabulous. Now we have to find a way to get Barb Jungr to Grimsby to sing some songs. She’s just what we need. Oh and ten thousand new jobs. But Barb Jungr would be a start.

And I think she might go for it – she obviously enjoys singing to people just as much as she said she did.

Barb Jungr can be found at barbjungr.com and on Facebook and Twitter

This review appears in The Peoples Issue 33 Web Edition

Cleethorpes Carnival Diary #1 – Leanor Pidgen

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It might still seem like winter hasn’t quite departed but plans are already far advanced for Cleethorpes Carnival 2015 which takes place on Saturday 18th July, and that means a busy time for Carnival organiser Leanor Pidgen. Despite her hectic schedule Leanor found some time to chat to The Peoples and tell us about what goes into organising an event of this magnitude, what’s in store for this year and what the Carnival means to her.

Leanor Pidgen has for many years been a pillar of the Cleethorpes community, tirelessly volunteering for local groups and organisations including the Girls Brigade, the Haverstoe Park committee, the Duke of Edinburgh Awards organisation and many others. She is also governor at three schools and thanks to her many hours spent helping to organise and run the Cleethorpes Carnival with sponsors Young’s Seafood, she is often described as the face of the Carnival!

In the run up to this year’s Carnival, which takes place on Saturday 18th July, Leanor will be writing a fortnightly diary to give us a glimpse of the hard work that goes on behind the scenes of this wonderful community event!

First Leanor told us about her own history with the Carnival.

“I have had so many connections with it, from my children entering the first year it started to my son organizing it when he worked for Cleethorpes Council”.

However, she explained, in 2012 the Carnival’s future looked uncertain, “I had exhausted all avenues in looking for funding and eventually we had to take the tough decision that 2012 would be the last ever parade. As I watched the floats for what I thought would be the very last time it was hard not to have tears in your eyes”.

But much to everyone’s surprise and delight the Carnival was rescued, Leanor explains,

“To my astonishment three weeks later I had a call from Young’s Seafood Limited asking if we could meet with them. They offered to sponsor us and more than that, we met a wonderful group of people who were so enthusiastic and wanted to support the parade and to put more back into the community.

It was wonderful to know the parade had this kind of support! And ever since then the partnership between Young’s Seafood and the Cleethorpes Carnival has thrived!”

We asked Leanor how she was feeling about the upcoming Carnival.

“I’m really looking forward to this year’s Carnival. I always have, since it started 40 years ago, but I think this will be one of the best ever. I have so many memories and I still love seeing the reaction on the children’s faces when they see all the colour, noise and bustle of the parade.

This year we have so many exciting things planned, with amazing new acts and a few old favourites coming to join in the celebration, I really can’t wait!”

So that’s a date to put in your diary then and between now and then we’ll keep you up to date with all the news about Carnival 2015!

Cleethorpes Carnival can be contacted via www.cleethorpescarnival.co.uk or through their Facebook page

This feature is from The Peoples Issue 33 Web Edition.

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VINYL DESTINATION: REPLAY RECORDS RELOCATES TO FREEMAN STREET

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Not many of us get to turn our hobbies into successful businesses but one man who has done it is Scott Wardle, proprietor of Replay Records.

Scott started collecting records when he was thirteen and by the time he was eighteen he had 6000 albums and his parents had to have the floor of his bedroom strengthened!

Fifteen years ago he started Replay, at first in Haven Mill, later moving to Railway Street and he has now upsized into new premises in Freeman Street opposite Boots.

So how was the move?

“It was hard work but I had a lot of help from good friends like Grimsby Signs, Carpets Galore and of course The Yardbirds Club. They made it a lot easier. And now we’re in, it all looks great.”

With a vast collection of vinyl singles, more than 18,000 albums and over 6,000 CDs to choose from it’s the kind of shop where grown men can spend hours leafing through rack after rack of musical memories and there’s plenty of new music on offer too. Replay carries music from every genre and is also a ticket outlet for many of the best live gigs in town. There are mugs, t-shirts and other collectables are on the way as well.

So what’s the most valuable album he’s sold? A stereo original version of The Beatles’ Please Please Me which sold for £2,000!

And the record he’d most like to see coming in? The A&M original 7” single of The Sex Pistols’ Anarchy In The UK – a £10,000 touch if you’re in the market.

So if you’re a music fan with gaps in your collection then get down to Replay but we warn you, better allow plenty of time for the trip because once you start sorting through those racks of vinyl you won’t want to stop!

Replay Records are on Facebook

From The Peoples Issue 32

Harold Gosney: A Retrospective @ The Muriel Barker Gallery

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Harold Gosney: A Retrospective
@ the Muriel Barker Gallery in the Fishing Heritage Centre
reviewed by Gill Hadwin

Harold Gosney studied at Grimsby School of Art from 1954 and moved on to the Slade School two years later. He returned to teach at the Grimsby School of Art in 1960 and that was when his interest in sculpture began. He retired in 1992 and moved to York to continue his career as a sculptor. His work is on display in the cathedrals of York, Ripon and Chester.

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Ever since we opened Abbey Walk Gallery in 2008 we have been intrigued by the reliefs displayed on the walls of the multi-storey car park which faces our premises – the one with the spiral exit. Indeed, we see and admire them every day and often find ourselves pointing them out and talking about them to our visitors.

The Abbey Walk multi-storey was built in the 1970s. This was a golden era in Grimsby, when architects and town planners worked with artists to create a number of public artworks that were incorporated into buildings of that era and which can still be seen throughout Grimsby.

I was thrilled to meet the artist commissioned for several of these projects at an exceptional exhibition ‘Harold Gosney: A Retrospective’ hosted at the Muriel Barker Gallery at the Heritage Centre and celebrating 60 years of the artists work.

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Harold is the artist responsible for those intriguing reliefs on the car park and also many others including the large Grimsby seal sited on the front of the Main Grimsby Library entrance and the Grim and Havelock themed copper relief on the side of the Wilkos in the Old Market Place. Some of the drawings and designs for these sculptures form part of the current exhibition.

The centrepiece of the exhibition comes not in the form of the public works of which there are many but in the shape of a life size fifteen hand high horse and its naked male rider, which greets you at the entrance of the Heritage Centre and which, according to the artist, was inspired by the Games of Ancient Greece. The sculpture portrays a Greek warrior who has just completed a race. Upstairs in the Gallery itself sits its wooden twin.
This remarkable structure, originally carved to act as a form on which to make the finished copper piece, stands now as an impressive sculpture in its own right.

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Harold, now in his late seventies, must be one of the finest living artists in Britain but, as a modest man who has never sought celebrity, he must also be one of the most unsung. His work is often inspired by classical and renaissance art and themes drawn from ancient and modern mythologies.

The human form and the horse dominate his subject matter and can be seen in many of the intriguing and beautiful sculptures and highly sensitive and beautifully executed drawings on display.

It is a body of work which has brought uniqueness to our community and invigorated our public space, providing an intersection between past, present and future.

It has been such a pleasure and a genuine thrill to see his other exceptional work – and for all Grimsby art lovers – this is truly an exhibition not to be missed.

Words by Gill Hadwin

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The exhibition runs until Sunday August 2nd and is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 4pm. Closed Mondays except Bank Holidays.

Admission is free and all ages are welcome but children must be accompanied by an adult at all times.

For more information call Rachel McWilliam on (01472) 323004 or visit the Fishing Heritage Centre Facebook page.

This review also appears in The Peoples Issue 33 Web Edition

Fusion Youth Theatre: Discovery island

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It’s always a pleasure to visit the talented young performers down at Fusion Youth Theatre and Saturday’s performance of Discovery Island was no exception.

Written and directed by Laura May Bensley the piece told the story of a family trip to a nameless seaside island which comes to an early end when the holidaymakers stumble upon a colony of restless piratical ghosts.

What’s nice about Fusion is how natural the performances are. The actors all look as though they’re having fun and they showed great composure in dealing with some lighting problems along the way.

If you’re interested in drama you can get in touch with Fusion at www.fusionyouththeatre.co.uk. There’s lots of exciting stuff going on and new members are always welcome.

Fusion Youth Theatre can be found on their website band on Facebook and at fusionyouththeatre.co.uk

This feature is also in The Peoples Web Edition Issue 32