Vampires Rock

It was Saturday night, we were in Bournemouth and we, well I really, were a little trepidatious. You see, we were going to see Steve Steinmans “Vampire Rocks” and we really didn’t know what to expect.


I’d seen the posters, visited the website but that doesn’t prepare you for the show. Even, while waiting to enter the auditorium, studying the audience as they entered the Pavilion Theatre foyer does not give any clues. I’ll admit to be a little concerned when I saw a guy, that must have been in his seventies, pushing one of those three wheeled zimmer frame contraptions. He must be a regular as the lady behind reception spoke to him like an old friend and was warning him that it was going to be loud. Obviously some of the audience had been to see Mr Steinman before as they were wearing costumes that wouldn’t have looked out of place in a Hammer Horror movie. And there were kids there too.

We were soon seated, the band took their places and we were off. Driven into the backs of our seats, like the old Memorex tapes advert from the seventies. The show also got off to a flying start, literally. The flying carried out by Steve Steinmans radio mic, presumably caught in his long coat, which was whipped out of his hand as he made his dramatic entrance. Once the mic was retrieved the show, which had spluttered a little in first gear suddenly went into overdrive.

Very soon feet were tapping and we were all clapping along. With Steve Steinmans able leadership we were treated to many classic rock rock anthems which included Queens “We Will Rock You”, T’paus “China in your Hand”, Bonnie Tylers “I Need A Hero”, Europes “The Final Countdown” and The Stones “Sympathy For The Devil” just to name a few.

It’s really hard to categorise the show. We have previously experienced “Rocky Horror…” and also Draculas in Queensland. It’s a bit of each of them but it is much more. Vampires Rocks is a cross between a rock concert (featuring a covers band), a musical show and a pantomime. Should Steve Steinman ever read this, despite what he said on the night, it really is a bit like a pantomime. We had the villain, the virginal heroine, the faithful servant who becomes a hero but most of all we had the audience interaction including the “behind you” moment. Most of all we were treated to the lightening fast adlibs and responses to the heckling.

Since most of the action takes place in the Live And Let Die Club I guess I shouldn’t forget to mention the pyrotechnics, the sexy costumes and the cage dancing which does set this show apart from your average panto.

The show is first and foremost about the music which tells the story, loosely tied together by moments of theatre, an evening of entertainment combining burlesque, contemporary music and comedy.

Highlight of the evening, well one of them, was when, to AC/DCs “Hells Bells”, we were treated to a display of aerial silk acrobatics.

Lowest moment of the evening was during Guns N’ Roses “Sweet Child Of Mine”, not one of my favourites anyway, but we were treated to the most appalling guitar solo I have ever heard.

Most bizarre moment was when the main character Count von Rockula has been shot with a crossbow by Van Halensing. A member of the audience decided to join in and offered Coun Von Rockula an NHS Crutch !!!

All in all though, a thoroughly enjoyable evening. We had tears of laughter and our ears were ringing for quite some time after leaving the theatre.

NB: Another draft, long overdue for publishing. The show was back in March 2019.

A Brace Of Class Acts

Wednesday was a very full day. We were taking my daughter to a show, booked months ago, as a Christmas present.

So, late on Wednesday morning, off we set. Up the A3 and around the M25 on a two-hour road trip, up to the O2 London. The journey was incident free and we duly arrived and parked up.

On entering the O2 complex there was the usual light-hearted discussion about where we were going to eat. There are so many eateries to choose from but finally, decision made, we entered Ask Italian and were quickly seated.

There followed a leisurely lunch, with my daughter choosing the Penne al Pollo Della Casa, my wife the Sea Bass al Forno and for me Pork Belly Porchetta was the order of the day. The ladies washed their meal down with a couple of Italian Twinkles (Prosecco with elderflower cordial, vodka and a twist of lemon) apiece.

After lunch we decided to while away the next couple of hours with a trip on the river, courtesy of Thames Clippers .

The trip up to Westminster and back can be completed in around two hours, if you don’t disembark. London has so much to offer the tourist that the temptation to get off and explore is very strong. But we were up against the clock to a straight round trip it was for us.

County Hall augmented by The London Eye

There is much to see as you sail up the Thames.

Thames River Scene
Thames River Scene

Tower Bridge alongside the Tower of London, the Gherkin, St Pauls, The Monument, The Globe Theatre etc. etc.. The Shard appears, disappears, then magically reappears, towering over London as the Clipper follows the rivers and its meanderings through the city.

Shard – London

At water level it is easy to forget just how the river winds until you realise that city landmark which was on your left has now transferred to your right.

By the time we reached Westminster the sun was truly beginning to set. Great news, for as we started our return journey, the city illuminations were being turned on.

Golden Jubilee Bridge alongside Hungerford Bridge with Festival Hall on the far bank.

The London city skyline is constantly changing. No two visits are ever the same.

Tower Bridge with The Shard

I didn’t have my camera with me on this trip so the preceding photographs are from an earlier London trip.

And so our voyage of discovery was over and we returned to the O2. The timing was spot on and there was a constant stream of people heading into the arena. We joined the flow and were soon in our seats.

Anticipation - Elbow O2 2018
Anticipation – Elbow O2 2018

The arena continued to fill but by the time that John Grant and his band hit the stage there were still many empty seats. I know that some folks deliberately don’t bother with the support acts. I have never understood this attitude. You have paid for the whole show, why not get full value for money. Money aside, this is the opportunity to see and hear new acts, the rising talent as it were. In this case John Grant isn’t that new. However, he’s not that well-known either.

John Grant @ The O2 London Elbow Tour 2018

For those of you who missed his performance on Wednesday. Shame on you. He was superb. I for one will be looking out his albums to have another listen to his music and will definitely keep an eye out for future performances.

But, of course, we were all really only there for one thing. And that was to see and hear Elbow. They did not disappoint.

Mirror Ball Elbow @ O2 London 2018

Performing really early  songs, mixed with newer material. The classics were there and the audience was more than willing to sing along and support them.

John Grant on stage with Elbow O2 London 2018

Towards the end of the show John Grant returned to join Elbow on stage. He was greeted to a huge applause from the audience.

Elbow @ O2 London 2018

I believe it was in America that the lighting of matches, candles and lighters became “fashionable” at concerts. This being 2018 we moved on a bit with the technology and now we use battery power.

Mobile Phone Torches – Replacing naked flames, as in candles / matches and lighters

The picture doesn’t do justice to hundreds, if not thousands, of phones being waved around the arena.

Regardless, the band played on and eventually came to the end of their set.

Elbow @ O2 London 2018

They left the stage for a few minutes while we sat in the semi darkness waiting. I found it quite strange as there was little or no clapping or calling for the encore. It always used to be de rigueur to work for the encore. Eventually the audience woke up and we all were clapping, stomping and cheering. The band duly returned and the show was truly brought to a close with a storming performance of “One Day Like This”. Guy Garvey worked the audience, milking us for all he was worth.

We had waited some time to be able to get tickets to see this band. It was well worth the wait. And the bonus is that we have been introduced to John Grant. Fabulous nights entertainment.

And then we were done. Arena lights up and heading for the exits, out into the cold night air and our transport home.

Crowds Leaving The O2 London

For us it meant a, reasonably short, queue to exit the car park. The O2 parking pages, on the web, do say it can take an hour or more to escape.

We then had the reverse of our earlier road trip, arriving home just before 02:00 Thursday morning, gagging for a quick cup of tea, before tumbling into bed.


Simply The Best ?

As I posted on Friday, we were heading up to Wooroloo on Saturday for a tribute act extravaganza. We trundled up to El Caballo Resort suitably equipped with concert seats and bug spray, this being an outside event.

Arriving about 15:30 we picked up our tickets and were duly supplied with coloured bands to identify us as fully paid up for both the show and a buffet meal.

The venue is ideally suited for this type of event with a grass amphitheatre and a covered stage built at the central focal point. Not long after we had arrived, and set up our seats, the show got off to a fairly prompt start.

After an introduction by the MC we were treated to a rendition of Imagine by “John Lennon” as a mark of respect to those who had suffered losses due to the recent atrocities.

NOTE: Apologies for the photos. I didn’t have my camera and my phone is not very good over distance or in the dark. I include them only to give an idea of the venue and break up the sea of text.

And so the show got underway ….

First up was the Roy Orbison Show. This band were really quite good and soon had the audience singing along with them. The “Big O” vocalist gave a pretty good impression. I had seen Roy Orbison, many years ago, in Portsmouth and still remember his fairly stiff performance. Stepping up to the mic to sing, then stepping back prior to the next number. Obviously this show was more a tribute to an earlier, younger man. All in all though, an enjoyable performance.

The Roy Orbison Tribute Show

Next up was the Johnny Cash & June Carter Show and this was where the standards slipped. There were issues with the radio mics throughout the performance which didn’t help but that wasn’t the real problem. The act opened with a solo “Johnny Cash” strolling down among the audience. We lost track of him for most of his performance as he was on in his knees “interacting” with the female audience members. I have seen many TV and video performances of Johnny Cash and don’t remember any where he wandered amongst the audience acting like he was gods gift to women. Throughout the performance his favourite phrase was “you’re on fire” but sadly he didn’t actually do much singing. Given the “Man in Blacks” vast catalogue of songs it’s a shame this guy didn’t concentrate more on the singing as his voice was quite good. At some point he introduced “June Carter”, his “lovely wife”. Apparently she was the writer of many of his “favourite” songs. We were treated to a couple of songs regularly peppered with entreaties to “put your hands in the air” and more “your on fire”. Even with his “beautiful wife” out there he was still off playing to individuals in the audience. A perfectly good stage was totally unused and for most of the act we couldn’t actually see where he was. For me, a long time fan of Cash and his songs, the  inclusion of this act was pretty much a waste of time. Not much of a show unless you were sat six feet away from him.

After a short break it was time for the  The Beatles Show. Thankfully these guys repaired the damage done by the previous act. The sound quality was good, the playing and singing were good too. So much so that we were able to forgive the overly heavy “puddlian” accent.


Opening their set dressed for and playing songs from the Sgt. Peppers era they soon had the audience singing along. After a couple of songs they stripped off the colourful coats and reverted to the earlier Beatles style dressed in black shirts and trousers. They delivered a slick performance of the early hits interspersed with anecdotes to identify where the songs belonged in the Beatles historical timeline.

With the conclusion of a very good set we took ourselves of to explore the delights of the buffet meal. Much to our surprise this turned out to be a full-blown sit down meal. We had been expecting to collect our food and go back outside to our concert chairs to eat. El Caballo had put on quite a good spread with choices of chick pea or green salad, a very yummy red cabbage coleslaw, mushroom risotto, sliced pork, beef stew, a fish dish and roast vegetables. There were also choices of sweet which included two different  flavoured mousses and a fruit salad. This was only let down, a little, by the lack of organisation with regard to tables and seating. Most folks appeared to be coming in to the dining room in groups of two, four and occasionally six. But the tables were laid out for eight which meant by the time we entered all of the spare seats were scattered around the room. We were lucky to find a table that had four seats available together, but others behind us were not so lucky.

Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, we missed the Marylyn Monroe performance while we were eating.  I’m not sure what kind of performance this would have been. Personally I can only name two songs she’s associated with, Diamonds Are A  Girls Best Friend and Happy Birthday Mr President. We will never know if we should be disappointed.

Next up for us was the Creedence Clearwater Revival Show and once again we were treated to a very good performance. These guys turned out to be, for us, the act of the night.

DSC_0531During a set that lasted for about an hour, they played all of the major Creedence hits, finishing up with Proud Mary which, by the way, is the name of the band. Once again the audience was well into the music as well as many folks making use of the dance floor. They are very competent musicians / singers and, if you ever have an opportunity to see them, you will not be disappointed. Given the issues surrounding the real Creedence band members it is unlikely that any of us will see them live on stage anytime soon. Proud Mary make for a great substitute.

A surprise set was Aurora Mackrill who just appeared on stage, with no introduction, in a long shimmering silver dress. DSC_0535Her set was very short, comprising just three Shirley Bassey songs.  Looking at her website it would seem that she probably did the Marylyn Monroe stint that we missed earlier. We all thought she was very good and would have been happy for her to continue.

Next on the menu was the Elvis Presley Show. “The King” bounded onto the stage dressed in white suit and cape. We soon recognised that this was in fact our “Johnny Cash” performer from earlier. So “The Man in Black” had transformed into “The Man in White” and although the songs had changed the act had not. He couldn’t resist coming down off stage and mixing with the crowd. Once again we were “on fire” and he reverted to the one on one performance that had plagued his “Johnny Cash” act. The gremlins that plagued his earlier show also returned and without warning his music stopped and the sound engineers put on a recording. In response to the opening bars “Elvis”, not knowing that his act had been curtailed, said “What’s this one then ?” The evening continued with recorded music for a short while and then “The King” was back to fairly audible groans from some of the audience. Thankfully, our suffering wasn’t prolonged. His performances as Cash and Presley may have been tolerable had he actually spent more time singing to the whole audience. In my opinion he was a waste of space. More time could have been given over to the other acts. Also, bizarrely, some women were either passing their underwear or telephone numbers to him. Did they not know that he wasn’t the real thing?

Last up for the evening was the Tina Turner Show featuring Rebecca O ‘Connor. This act got off to a promising start with a huge intro. The dancers came onto the stage followed by Ms O’Connor who struck a pose, arms outstretched, as in Tah Dah, here I am. Unfortunately, she was in darkness and we couldn’t see her. The lighting at the front of the stage left much to be desired. In addition the camera which was feeding the two inflatable screens either side of the stage was almost permanently set to provide an image about the same size as the stage appeared with normal eyesight.


So, no close up of “Tina”. The sound quality of the vocals was not very good and after the first number Ms O’Connor was berating her sound crew to make adjustments to add some warmth. Her vocals needed something. Tina Turners voice switches between rough like bootleg whisky thru to smooth like blended bourbon and honey. Ms O’Connors voice was permanently switched to bootleg and began to grate. Like listening to a bandsaw. Maybe she shouldn’t try to do too many consecutive performances, having appeared in Perth the night before. Apparently, the band was lacking decent sound levels via their monitors a point which Ms O’Connor made to the sound crew while moving mic stands around on stage. I understand that the point of a tribute act is to provide the audience with the look and sound of the original artist, but I felt that Rebecca O’Connor with her exaggerated posturing and gestures had created a caricature of Tina Turner. And, with the unpleasant roughness of her vocals we decided to call it a night. We weren’t the only ones and having packed up our things we joined a line of other folks heading for the exits.

Overall we had a  great day and, perhaps, on another occasion we would have enjoyed “The Big O”, “The King” and “Tina”.

The show was, despite my reservations and criticisms, well worth the money.

Tonight – El Caballo Resort

Mad, impetuous fools that we are, we are heading up to Wooroloo and El Caballo Resort for an outdoor musical extravaganza.

The show is entitled Simply The Best and is an evening of tribute acts and the line up goes like this …..

Roy Orbison Show                                                            4.00pm – 5.00pm
Johnny Cash & June Carter Show                               5.00pm – 5.20pm
The Beatles Show                                                              5.30pm – 6.30pm
Elvis Presley Show                                                           6.30pm – 6.50pm
Creedence Clearwater Revival Show                            7:30pm – 8.30pm
Marylyn Monroe Show                                                   8.30pm – 8.45pm
Tina Turner Show                                                           9.00pm – 10.30pm

We will either have a fabulous time or it will be a monumental disaster. Only time will tell.

Barry Manilow @ Ageas Bowl – Poor Value

Last Saturday, I was one of the many folks who braved the English weather to see Barry Manilow at the Ageas Bowl.

I will state here and now that it is not me that is the fan. Nope, that would be my wife.

The support act were great, Dave Koz and his band. Its a shame that they weren’t on for longer. An even greater shame was that the sound quality for Dave Koz was much better than that for the star performer. Mr Manilow’s vocals were somehow mixed in with the mushy sound coming from the band. If we didn’t already know the words, we would have struggled to understand what he was singing. We had good seats so it wasn’t down to poor position in the Ageas Bowl.

Dave Koz - Ageas Bowl Warming up the audience while they waited for Barry Manilow
Dave Koz – Ageas Bowl
Warming up the audience while they waited for Barry Manilow

The following is a direct cut and paste from BarryNet

Manilow has produced more than 40 albums over the course of his 50-year career and has been awarded countless awards, including a Grammy, two Emmys, a Tony Award and an Oscar nomination. Five of his albums were on the best-selling chart simultaneously in America in 1978 – a feat equalled only by Frank Sinatra, Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen and Johnny Mathis. Sinatra himself gave Manilow his stamp of approval in the 1970s when he was quoted as saying “he’s next” regarding the singer.

He has worked with the likes of Bette Midler and Dionne Warwick, and written for musicals, films, and adverts. From February 2005 to December 30, 2009, he was the headliner at the Las Vegas Hilton, performing hundreds of shows.

Given that he has such a huge repertoire, to be treated to a reprise of mainly his biggest hits is disappointing. Maybe it’s because I am not a fan that I am being so critical but I think he is doing his true fans a disservice.

You can see from the following phone picture that there wasn’t much clearing away of equipment to be done. Yet, we were kept waiting for an hour, for the rather dubious pleasure of Barry performing for just over 80 minutes.

Barry Manilow - Ageas Bowl - Crap Blackberry photo
Barry Manilow – Ageas Bowl – Crap Blackberry photo

I have also read the reviews of some of the other shows around the country and it seems that we were short-changed. The big screen at the back of the stage wasn’t functioning properly on Saturday. So we missed out on some duetting between Barry and his younger self on film as well as some film footage from the neighbourhood of his youth.

This was my wife’s third time of going to see Barry Manilow. I have resisted going along on previous occasions and he did not sell himself to me on this occasion. I will not be going along to any future Manilow gigs.

All in all, for such a “big star”,  I would say that he is poor value for money.

Pete Seeger dies in New York aged 94

Seems like I have been singing Pete Seeger tunes all my life, both knowingly and as covers by other well known artists.

As a tribute here is a selection ….

Seeger also had a hit with the popular song, Little Boxes, although he did not write it.

So Pete is gone from this world but not from our memories.

I think this video is a fitting tribute…..

Pete Seeger dead: American folk singer dies in New York aged 94 – News – People – The Independent.

There’s Nothing Left To Say

I’m not having a pop at One Direction.

As far as I know, I have never heard a One Direction track and have never seen them perform on TV, so I really have no view on them as a band. I do have a general aversion to the “boy band” phenomenon and the screaming fanatics that follow them.

All that aside, this video was too good not to share.


Phil Everly of the Everly Brothers Dies At Age 74

Phil Everly of the Everly Brothers Dies At Age 74 « K-EARTH 101.

Phil Everly, one half of the Everly Brothers duo that provided part of the musical backdrop to my youth.  Who can forget hits such as “Cathy’s Clown,” “Wake Up Little Susie,” “Bye Bye Love,” “When Will I Be Loved” and “All I Have to Do Is Dream.”

The Everlys are cited, by many, as having been an influence on their musical careers and Phil Everly, with brother Don, has left behind a fabulous legacy for generations to come.
My thoughts go to his friends and family.

Jools Holland & His Orchestra at Portsmouth Guildhall

Or rather Jools Holland and His Rhythm & Blues Orchestra to give the correct name.

On Saturday 21st December Jools and the team took Portsmouth by storm. The review by Portsmouth News writer Rachel Jones does not convey the excitement, the energy and the sheer power of the show.

“A fanfare of trumpets heralded the arrival of Jools Holland”

But that’s where any ceremony ended because an evening with Jools and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra is a laid-back affair.

I agree that group may appear laid-back but that is because they are all extremely talented musicians. They are comfortable with their instruments and they are comfortable with their fellow orchestra members. Always in control but not so rigid that they can’t have fun with the music and each other.

The fanfare paved the way for Jools to turn on the Boogie-Woogie piano playing for which he is renowned. As always the opening number set the standard for the rest of the evening, got our feet tapping and our hands clapping. And then the brass section came in full tilt and blew us all away.

This was the third time I have been to see Jools and each time the effect of the opening number reminds me of that Maxell Tape advert, the one where the guy is pressed into the back of his armchair by the sound coming from his Hi Fi.

Once started the pressure is maintained. Sure the pace slows a little from time to time but the entertainment level and the quality of the music and the musicians remains at the very highest levels. This is demonstrated throughout the show as each individual musician takes centre stage to solo on their chosen instrument. Even the backing singers step into the spotlight to take the lead. This all serves to keep the show simmering along nicely.

However, the heat really turns up when the power house that is  Ruby Turner takes to the stage. Ruby is the resident “guest star” and boy has she got a voice. She wrings every ounce of emotion out of every word and note. Ruby was definitely cooking with gas on Saturday night.

Jools likes to bring other guest stars to his shows. Saturday was no different. In the past we have been treated to performances by Lulu and Marc Almond, both superb vocalists. On this occasion it was former Spice Girl Melanie C.  who performed a mix of songs, her own and covers. As on previous occasions taking a well known singer out of their usual context shows what talent they truly have. Mel C. was no exception and showed that she was up to performing familiar songs supported by Jools and the team. Strutting from side to side of the stage she had both the audience and the orchestra in the palm of her hands.

Sadly the show came to an end, but not until Jools and the orchestra returned for an encore and finished with the entire audience on their feet.

I left Portsmouth Guildhall with my feet and hands buzzing. The ultimate sign of a great show.

Review: Jools Holland & His Orchestra at Portsmouth Guildhall – Portsmouth News.

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