A one-line review of every gig I’ve been to in April and May 2023
This monthly series is probably more for my benefit than yours, but maybe your interest will be piqued by one of the reviews. Maybe you’ll scroll straight past. Maybe you’ll unsubscribe thinking what did I see in this blog in the first place?
Raven Numan, Electric Ballroom, Camden, 13 April – I guess if you are going to get called a “nepo baby” anyway you might as well double-down on it, so this was the first gig from Gary Numan’s daughter Raven Numan, with backing vocals from Gary Numan’s daughter Persia Numan, on tracks that Gary Numan producer/collaborator Ade Fenton had a hand in, supporting Gary Numan, at a gig full of Gary Numan fans obviously primed to have their buttons pressed, which given that it sounded like NIN/Gary Numan it obviously did for a lot of people.
Gary Numan, Electric Ballroom, Camden, 13 April – This gig was Gary Numan’s 998th and I ended up at one point behind someone who claims to have seen him over 450 times so I feel more relaxed about my obsession now. It was nice to hear some of the not-so-often played punky Tubeway Army stuff, but I was a bit stuck at the back without much of a view so I’ve had better Numan evenings.
Jake Shears, O2 Arena, London, 1 May – I don’t think I ever saw Scissor Sisters at a festival or anything, and Jake Shears isn’t somebody I would have ever sought out live, but this was brilliant camp fun with loads of stuff I recognised, and he was totally sparkling and a great entertainer.
Duran Duran, O2 Arena, London, 1 May – Genuinely one of the most enjoyable gigs I’ve ever been to in my life, they seem to have gotten better and better over the years as a live act, and this had a setlist that heavily leant into the first two albums and was an absolute joy. They still play their unwelcome cover of White Lines though.
India Electric Co., Cliffs Pavilion, Southend-on-sea, 7 May – This is a duo who, with their adopted drummer, also make up the three people in Midge Ure’s backing band, and they are clearly very talented multi-instrumentalists, and the India Electric Co. stuff reminds me a bit of Marillion or Porcupine Tree who I have time for, but this just wasn’t my bag.
Mide Ure, Cliffs Pavilion, Southend-on-sea, 7 May – I saw him do this set which was mostly tracks from Ultravox’s Rage In Eden (my favourite LP of theirs) and Quartet albums back in September at the Roundhouse, and I enjoyed it so much I bought a ticket to go and see the same thing in Southend the following year. I’ve not been to Cliffs Pavillion before but it seemed like a nice venue and the travel wasn’t too bad at all, so I’ve now booked to go and see other things there.
Haircut 100, O2 Shepherd’s Bush, London, 12 May – I know they aren’t exactly revered as genre-defining maestros and, aside from the three massive hit singles, that one canonical Haircut 100 album is quite slight – lots of sketches of half-songs over grooves and brass routines – but I absolutely loved it at the time, and I’d never got a chance to see them before. Thoroughly infectious fun.
The Anchoress, Festival Hall, London, 20 May – Much delayed due to Covid aftershocks, it was lovely to finally get to see Catherine doing her headline gig at such a great venue, with an especially affecting section that was just her on piano with a cello accompaniment. Her Art of Losing album seems like such a beautiful artefact to have come out of what seems to have been a world of pain.
Sparks, New Theatre, Oxford, 23 May – I travelled to Oxford for the start of their UK tour, which meant getting to see the live debuts of seven – SEVEN! – brand new tracks, of which four were as yet unreleased at that point, and meet some lovely Sparks ultra-fans I know from online too. Plus, even though there were signs saying “No dancing in the balcony” I got to stand at the back and dance and cry my eyes out to my heart’s content.
To think I only went to see them for the first time on a curiosity whim when offered a freebie in 2014, and it turned out to be a life-changing moment.
John Fogerty, O2 Arena, London, 29 May – I absolutely loved playing my parent’s old Creedence Clearwater Revival 45s when I was a kid in the late 1970s, and I had seen him once before in 2008, which I didn’t entirely enjoy due to having chronic toothache on the night of that gig, so it was great to be able to more fully enjoy his wonderful songs, and in the company of my parents and uncle too.
The on-stage and in-between song routines are a little hackneyed, but the material really stands up and is way more political than is often given credit for, and his voice has held up well. I’ve also been absolutely fascinated by there being a setlist.fm edit war over this gig.
Sparks (again), Royal Albert Hall, London, 30 May – Imagine telling Sparks in 1986 after the Music That You Can Dance To album had totally bombed that 37 years later the title track would be the song to get a sold out Royal Albert Hall up on its feet. What an incredible late career high they are having, and how wonderful to share it with them. It was such an emotional night.
And yes … I bought the t-shirt.