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Vernon Barnes

Yet Another Great Weekend of Live Music

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I was at a couple of comparatively local gigs this weekend.

Friday evening it was Al Stewart in Exeter, backed by the excellent Chicago band The Empty Pockets who were worth the trip in their own right.  Al was looking fitter and healthier than me and I am 10 years his junior.  His voice is holding up well too. It was a thoroughly entertaining show and Al, unlike some does vary his anecdotes from tour to tour.  There were a couple of new songs among the favourites.  I enjoyed his cover of Dylan's "Love Minus Zero" for the final encore number.

Saturday I ventured west to Tavistock fo see the Hayley Griffiths Band. It 3/5 of the old Karnataka line up with a new guitarist and bass player. It was probably 3/5 Karnataka material too, a little heavier than Karnataka played it live and less (not at all?) reliant on sampled backing vocals and orchestration to pad out the sound. There were a few new songs including the last two singles and a quieter section in the middle where she harked back to her time as the tour singer for Riverdance. The Irish  traditional "I Know My Love" was preformed with such exuberance. Hayley dancing around the stage and the band playing solos between the verses and it has been my ear-worm today.

She has certainly gained in confidence engaging with the audience since Karnataka, where I guess Ian Jones ruled the roost.  Her voice and range is incredible particularly with a heavy rock backing. Its very un-PC to as but she very easy on the eye too.

Next weekend its a wedding, but the weekend after I am off to Wales to see Big Big Train in Newport and Magenta in Cardiff. Is shaping up to be an excellent autumn.

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15 minutes ago, Vernon Barnes said:

I was at a couple of comparatively local gigs this weekend.

Friday evening it was Al Stewart in Exeter, backed by the excellent Chicago band The Empty Pockets who were worth the trip in their own right.  Al was looking fitter and healthier than me and I am 10 years his junior.  His voice is holding up well too. It was a thoroughly entertaining show and Al, unlike some does vary his anecdotes from tour to tour.  There were a couple of new songs among the favourites.  I enjoyed his cover of Dylan's "Love Minus Zero" for the final encore number.

Roads To Moscow was / is  an amazing song, I still love listening to it..

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Last weekend it was off to South Wales. Friday night in the Riverfront Newport for Big Big Train. The support act Sweet Billy Pilgrim kicked off and they were excellent. BBT did not disappoint starting with "Alive" from the latest album "The Grand Tour" and finishing with the inevitable encore "East Coast Racer." Nick de Virgiio came out from behind his drum kit to join Dave Longdon on vocals for "The Florentine"  and Rachel Hall left the violin aside for an impressive vocal part in "Hedge Row". It was a superb concert. As always the brass section really add to the music and have their own moment with Nick De Virgilo on "Drum 'n' Brass".

After the show the band were in the lobby mingling with the audience, signing merchandise and posing for photos. Yes and Asia Keyboard player Geoff Downes was there talking to some of the band as were the less immediately recognizable Rob Reed, Chris Fry and Christina Booth of Magenta, who were on my agenda for Saturday.

The weather on Saturday was appaling and the line for BBT's "The Florentine" came to mind. "High winds, hard rain, a deluge comes in monstrous diluvian waves." I headed down the M4 to Cardiff with 40 MPH speed limits on the motorway due to the weather.

 Acapela Studio is a lovely venue in a village just outside Cardiff, its a converted chapel and apart from hosting great music it serves really good pizza. If you book a table and eat you keep it for the show.

I was very close to the front, about ten feet from Chris Fry and had a superb view  ho his impressive guitar technique.  This autumn semi acoustic show at Acapela has become a regular event. We are treated to mixture of songs for their solo albums, some covers and (mostly)acoustic versions of  Magenta songs. The band were supplemented by cello, clarinet and flute and the players were very accomplished.  I heard the clarenet player was a local music teacher. Christina has a wonderful voice fitting both the jazzier and the rock arrangements and was genuinely funny in banter with the band and audience.  Rod Reed had use of the venues grand piano and made full use of it. I real grand makes a big difference.

Two  concerts, both quite different and both very enjoyable.

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2 hours ago, Vernon Barnes said:

Yes and Asia Keyboard player Geoff Downes was there ...

Sounds like a good time!  Don't forget what made Geoff famous though: The Buggles! :D

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22 minutes ago, craigb said:

Sounds like a good time!  Don't forget what made Geoff famous though: The Buggles! :D

Nick Beggs was Kagagoogoo. He is one of the best bass players around today.

Edited by Vernon Barnes

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