NOW 50 years into a career which most bands would envy a tenth of, the remaining duo at the heart of The Who – guitarist Pete Townshend and singer Roger Daltrey – say they’re finally going to give it up for the last time.
Just one last globetrotting arena tour to get out of the way, starting here and ending next summer at London’s Hyde Park.
In which case this two and a half hour show felt like a group at once full of the joys of getting back to the work they love and not quite sure of their best set.
There was plenty of what might be termed filler amidst the hits – although it wouldn’t be termed as such by the most loyal of long-serving fans, for whom the appearance of rock mini-opera A Quick One, While He’s Away or Townshend’s gravelly Eminence Front would have been welcome Easter eggs.
For a couple of chunks of the show things went through not so much a fallow period as an extended tour around the unfamiliar past (Slip Kid, Amazing Journey/Sparks, the unnecessary encore Naked Eye), but these indulgences held up well alongside what emerged as a barrage of hits. Amidst the youthful nostalgia of Substitute and I Can’t Explain, and a Quadrophenia suite which saw departed members John Entwistle and Keith Moon “play” along on the video screens to the mighty 5:15 and Bellboy, it was the scything, affirmative rockers which stood out more than the playfully psychedelic excerpts.
Who Are You, The Seeker and Won’t Get Fooled Again all thrilled, riding on the performing energy and volume of a duo who certainly don’t seem like they’re on their way out.
Seen on 30.11.14
Clyde Auditorium, Glasgow
Star Rating: ***
THE all-seater Armadillo was presumably not Deacon Blue’s first choice of venue for a Glasgow homecoming in support of their latest album A New House. Ironically, The Hydro next door – which they headlined this time last year – stood empty on the first night of a double-header of shows, with Culture Club having cancelled.
The atmosphere felt stilted in spells, with a crowd who seemed to have overwhelmingly come for a handful of specific hits electing to mostly stay seated (in fairness, stray dissenters were harshly instructed to sit down by stewards). But these 1980s-vintage Scotpop one-time chart-toppers – more recognisable these days as familiar voices and faces off the telly and radio – made the best of the situation, and there was plenty to admire across their career-spanning set. Not least on matters sartorial – any band of 50-somethings still getting away with skinny jeans and short skirts have evidently looked after themselves well.
Husband-and-wife vocalists Ricky Ross and Lorraine McIntosh’s lithe and very complementary voices have similarly defied the ageing process, while their songwriting skills haven’t dated too much either, judging by new numbers Wild and the soaring, chiming Stars. There was a nice sequence of wet-weather-themed dedications to the typically rainy metropolis surrounding the Armadillo, focused on Deacon Blues’s classic 1987 debut album Raintown. There was a funny introduction to Fergus Sings The Blues, as Ross described Twitter trolling he’s endured from a man ironically named… well, you can probably guess.
As predictable as a Glasgow downpour, Real Gone Kid – played mid-set – and de-facto alternative national anthem Dignity at the end got the night’s runaway best receptions, and everybody on their feet at last.
Seen on 01.12.14
Star Rating: ****
LONDON dance duo Basement Jaxx can always be depended on to bring the party – and it appeared that this one was fancy dress, with Simon Ratcliffe kitted out in a Clint Eastwood poncho, a trumpet player dressed as a crow and a colourful circus entourage of (mostly) female singers and dancers – including Glasgow rapper Patricia Panther, giddy with excitement – who functioned as the gig’s MCs, ensuring that energy levels didn’t flag.
But the party starts with the music, inspired by the sound systems of their native Brixton and the eclectic cultural backdrop of the Notting Hill Carnival, built on an infectious bedrock of soulful 1990s house music, littered with deft references to disco, funk, jazz, samba, drum’n’bass and dubstep and shot through with a strong Caribbean influence, whether the strident Jamaican dancehall vibes of Jump N’ Shout or the soca rhythms of the cutesy Back 2 The Wild.
It was credit to the duo’s skills as club composers that this potentially messy mixtape of a set largely held its focus.
Felix Buxton, stationed dutifully behind his keyboards for most of the night, emerged high-kicking to front their seismic electro wrecker Where’s Your Head At.
A ballet dancer and a couple of randoms in gorilla suits joined the stage gyrations while the partying in the crowd moved up yet another gear so that by the time they unleashed the Rio carnivalesque finale of Bingo Bango, there wasn’t a stationary body in the entire room.
Seen on 30.11.14