20 November 2002: Peter Kay “Mum Wants A Bungalow” Tour – Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham, England, UK

20 November 2002: Peter Kay

When I was asked about a week ago whether I would do a review for this show, I replied that there were two chances of that happening; slim and fat. I intended to get steaming drunk before the show thereby enhancing my viewing pleasure, but this would also have made it difficult to remember any of it afterwards. However, this masterplan was thrown into chaos by a monster hangover at the weekend which temporarily scared me off excessive booze consumption. So you can thank the kind waitresses and bar-men at Peter Victor’s – I mean Pierre Victoire’s – restaurant for this review, should you feel the need to thank anyone at all.

The act started with the swinging sounds of Tony Christie’s “(Is this the way to) Amarillo?” which eventually elicited a response from the crowd when they realised it was part of the show. As the lights then went down and the hall blackened, Peter Kay’s voice boomed out some of his catchphrases, such as “garlic bread!”, “t’internet”, “get back, you bastard, or I’ll break yer legs”, and the inevitable “‘ave it.” PK wandered casually onto the minimally-decorated stage wearing a black suit, blue shirt and his trademark grin to much applause. On the stage, there were a dozen balloons tied up with string and attached to tins of paint, stopping them from floating away (“they said it would break up the blackness of the stage. Will it shite.”) We’re also informed by two large banners overhead that the tour is sponsored by Chorley FM, the station that’s “coming in your ears” and “where listeners come first.”

One of PK’s first observations was to note that there were nineteen empty seats near the front in the stalls. When these were eventually filled, PK was amused to be told that one of the late-arrivals had brought him a present from the pub; wrapped in a blue napkin was a piece of garlic bread which he proceeded to eat. His set started off as a seemingly ad-libbed discourse on recent events in his life (“I phoned up for a Chinese takeaway last night. I said, ‘Do you deliver?’ and the bloke said, ‘No, only chicken and lamb’”) and observations on day-to-day life that tickled him (“When someone says to me ‘Bear with me’, I always say ‘Is there?’ Then he says ‘Is there what?’ ‘A bear with you.’ ‘Eh?’……”).

After another chat with the audience which drew more stories from him (“You sound like you should be married to my Uncle Nobhead. You know, that daft old relative that everyone’s got. When you ask him if he’s alright, he says things like ‘Only down one side, son’ or ‘Not three bad, not three bad’”), he went on a rambling journey into popular culture. Lionel Ritchie’s video for “Hello” came under particular scrutiny; “What’s that video all about, eh? Lionel plays a teacher who’s perving over a fifteen year-old kid who’s blind. He calls her on the telephone, doesn’t say anything and hangs up. That’s not romantic – that’s called stalking. And he’s there hiding in trees and behind pillars, watching her all the time. She’s blind! She can’t see anything….not a thing! She makes this shit clay-sculpture of his face. It’s crap, eyes everywhere! It’s like one of them ‘Crimewatch’ models. Hey, me Mum says she’s stopped watching that because it’s not as good as it used to be….”

The interval – or should that be t’interval? – arrived and passed. Again, amidst the blackness before the lights come back on, PK started announcing his own re-appearance from backstage but then said “bugger it, I’ll do the rest of the show from here”. He fired off several quick gags which amply filled the pitch-black; “What do you call a judge with no thumbs? Justice fingers. I went to the doctors and showed him I’d got five pricks. He said ‘How do your pants fit?’ I said ‘Like a glove.’ How does Bob Marley like his doughnuts? Wi’ jammin. How do you murder a circus? Go for the juggler.”

When PK at long last came out from backstage, the second half of his performance seemed to have slightly more structure, albeit still with plenty of audience interaction. He discussed celebrity Big Brother, karaoke at funerals and did a fantastic impression of wedding DJ’s, along with music played through a hand-held tape machine held up to the microphone. Someone from the crowd asked him when he’s making a new series of ‘Phoenix Nights’ (year after next), but the good news was that he confirmed they’re currently making a spin-off series revolving around the club bouncers, Max and Paddy. It sounds just as amusing, with stories of Max throwing a bucket of piss over a copper and both of them cutting down a speed camera with a hack-saw after it flashes them speeding in the campervan.

While PK’s television shows are more dependent on witty banter, friendly abuse, comic asides (for example, when ‘Brian Potter’ rolls up in his wheelchair to a reception desk, the woman behind it is talking into the phone; “….and he was just getting to his vinegar stroke when- I’ll have to call you back, there’s someone here, Mum”), and visual gags, his stage show relies on his superb delivery of great lines. He’s the sort of bloke we’d all like to live next door to and you somehow get the feeling that if you bumped into him in the street and offered to take him for a pint and a curry, he’d probably say yes. And you’d both have a great time.

My only whinge about the night has nothing at all to do with PK. Sat across the isle, about four feet away from me, was the most annoying woman in the world who constantly laughed incredibly loudly in all of the wrong places. For instance – PK: “I was walking down the street-“, cue hysterical laughter and thigh-slapping (no, honestly) from the woman. Unbelievable. She even shouted to PK to “party on”, which was something I didn’t think ‘real’ people actually said. PK’s response was to label her Janette Kranky. I hated The Krankies and I hated this woman.

Eventually, the show peaked with a classic rendition of dancing at weddings which I, for one, have seen a hundred times in real life. After a very brief rest, PK returned for an encore which he finished with a rendition of “Oh Danny boy” through a squeaky, helium-induced voice, the audience finally being invited to join in. PK is a very funny man. Very, very funny.

[Author’s note: If there are no capital letters in the above article, blame (webmaster) and not me. In fact, you’re welcome to bombard him with emails urging him to start using the shift-key on his keyboard.]

@Jimbob247247

19 November 2002: Levellers – Rock City, Nottingham, England, UK

19 November 2002: Levellers - Rock City, Nottingham, England, UK

Fantastic!

That’s the only word that can be used to describe the Levellers performance tonight. From the very first note to the very last they were entertaining, exhilarating, fascinating and most of all enjoyable.

The lights dimmed and Mark and Simon appeared on their own to treat us to the opening track, “Is This Art”. They were soon joined for the next song, by Jeremy, Jon and Charlie, Jon sporting a “Real Pop Idol” shirt and Charlie a marching drum, to form a five standing line up that I’d not seen them do for years!

“Come on” followed and everything becomes harder to remember after this, as all hell broke loose on the dance floor, with the entire venue bouncing up and down as one!

It’s quite a difficult task, reviewing a gig, and becomes almost impossible when you want to enjoy every passing second as well, so let me off, for not name checking all the tracks.

For me, the highlight was “100 years of Solitude” and that was purely because I wasn’t expecting it to be so good, after Simon reportedly “had trouble with it” in Europe earlier on the tour, but it turned out to be performed brilliantly. Other highlights were “One Way”, “Liberty” (which seemed to have a longer than usual instrumental bit in the middle, and Jeremy enjoying himself with his bass), “Four Winds”, “Chorus Line” and “Forgotten Ground”

Prior to “Forgotten Ground” the jack on Marks Guitar kept failing, and out of what seemed like pure frustration, and to a great roar from the crowd, the offending instrument was smashed to pieces, while Jeremy scampered for cover.

The new single “Wild As Angels” received a rapturous welcome from the audience and the band returned the compliment by playing it brilliantly. “Pretty Target” was also received warmly by the crowd, but despite thoroughly enjoying it, I could hardly hear Jon’s fiddle, which spoilt it a bit (I’m putting this down to the venue).

Most surreal moment was Mark suddenly pointing straight into the middle of the crowd and saying “‘ere, you’re Paul Morley”. God knows whether it was, but we all cheered anyway!

The second encore (the first was “Liberty” I think) was “Beautiful Day”, which I didn’t think they’d play as the support had warmed us up with it earlier, with Mark telling us that it wouldn’t be as good, but of course, it was!

The last song was the final song from the new CD “Green Blade Rising”, “Wake The World”. Simon and Charlie sitting, enjoying the atmosphere and a smoke on the edge of the drum riser, while Mark stands, Cigarette in hand, singing his heart out, with the crowd chorusing every word, Jon sliding out the notes on his fiddle and Jeremy, standing at the back, picking out the bass line.

Like I said, Fantastic!

I just hope, that the band are enjoying themselves on this tour as much as the audience at Rock City did tonight (they certainly looked like they were).

The Levellers move you! They rock, they roll and they play with your soul.

Can’t wait until March. See you at Leicester and Derby.

16 November 2002: Hanoi Rocks + Diamond Dogs – Rock City, Nottingham, England, UK

Although it is nearly 20 years since the Hanois split they still have a devoted following in the UK and it was with a great deal of excitement that I went to Rock City to see them on their come back tour.

The show kicked off with the Diamond Dogs, a Scandinavian band featuring Boba Fett of the Hellacopters. I don’t appear to have much luck with catching their sets as this was the second time I have seen them and both times I arrived late and missed most of the set. But what I did catch was pretty good, good enough for me to buy one of their CD’s anyway. They are a lot like the Faces with retro style blues rock with a lot of Hammond organ. If you like the Quireboys, the Faces or the Dogs D’amour check them out, the albums are really pretty good.

Anyway on to the main act of the night. Having seen Michael Monroe do a solo show at Rock City a couple of years ago I was expecting something pretty special. Rock City was pretty full with both old rockers and some younger ones too, a good mix of people and the atmosphere was good, so we were set for the return of a glam rock legend. I wish I could give you a full set list but I have to say that they were so good all thought of trying to remember the order and even the names of the tracks went out the window as the band and the crowd began rocking. We were treated to some of the old classic Hanoi tracks such as Up Around the Bend and Malibu Beach as well as quite a bit of new material from the new album Twelve Shots on the Rocks. Michael Monroe did his stuff showing a lot of stamina and agility for a man of his years and Andy McCoy treated us to some great guitar riffs, in all a really good show, the crowd had a great time and so did the guys in the band. Hopefully they will be back in the UK very soon and if you can’t wait that long then the new album is available from ChangesOne at http://www.changesone.co.uk

Cheers.

Simon