The Queen is Dead, Long Live… Paul Rodgers?

In the penultimate stage of our current retro-bands “tour”, Julie and I went to see Queen with Paul Rodgers in Dublin on Saturday. Of course, Queen are really just Brian May and Roger Taylor these days, with Danny Miranda (of Blue Oyster Cult and Pyramid fame) taking the disassociated John Deacon’s place on bass, and Spike Edney (SAS Band, and a million-and-one big-name session, production and musical director credits) on keyboards. The unenviable task of trying not to impersonate Freddie Mercury fell to Paul Rodgers (Free, Bad Company) on this tour, one which he pulled off with varying degrees of success… he was certainly more comfortable performing the songs that originated in his own back catalogue, though.

While I’ve never been a great Brian May fan– he’s certainly not in the league of guitar gods who should be trying to pull off ten-minute guitar solos in the middle of a show, but try he did– his guitar-playing is certainly the most defining feature of the Queen sound in the absence of Freddie’s voice, and if you shut your eyes, you did occasionally get a flash of what it must have been like to see them live in their heyday. Queen it probably wasn’t, but a good old-fashioned rock gig it certainly was.

Next week: Mark Knopfler…


I wasn’t long out of university when Ocean Colour Scene made it big in the mid-90s, with grungey guitar hits like The Day We Caught the Train and The Riverboat Song. Can’t say I was really into them then, but we went to see them in Dublin at the weekend and they totally rocked… it’s rare enough for one Britpop singer to hit every note all night, let alone the whole band! (Well, okay, apart from Oscar on drums and piano, who belted one out during the encore and was pretty dire…)

Mad world

Continuing our recent theme of going to see reformed 80’s groups, Tears for Fears were on our schedule at the weekend. Not a band whose albums I would have rushed out and bought first time around, but it’s always good to hear a few songs from your youth belted out by the original artistes, even if Roland does look more like Lawrence Llewlyn-Bowen these days. And the original Mad World is still a lot better than that effort that was No.1 at Christmas (which, spookily enough, was playing in the taxi on the way home).

The support was Irish Eurovision reject Fran King, who was kind of a less-polished cross between David Gray and the Finn Brothers… pleasant enough, but you get the feeling he might get a bit samey after a while. Will probably check out his new album (“Beautifcation”) at some point anyway, though… you can listen to his new single here.

Now playing: Midnight Rain (Rock Salt and Nails)

This latest CD
from the Shetland outfit was actually released in 2003, but Julie only
bought it for me this weekend 🙂  Hard to believe it’s nine years
since I first heard heard them playing at the Cambridge Folk Festival
I’d never heard
of them then, and my mate Paul whose tent I was sharing had been
reluctant to go and see their session, expecting them from the
programme description to be playing ‘rumpty tumpty
music’.  As it turned out, we liked them so much that we went to
their second session next day (and got them to sign a copy of their CD
Paul’s future wife).

Back to Midnight Rain, and I wasn’t surprised to see their usual per-album change of personnel and record company
they now seem to be rather uneasy bedfellows with hardcore sixties Aran
sweatsters Steeleye Span, Pentangle and Lindisfarne– but I was
pleased to see Calum Malcolm
back at the mixing desk.  This offering is a bit more soulful and
less manic than their previous outings, but still manages to mix new
songs, cover versions and traditional instrumentals to produce a take
on celtic fusion that’s recognisably their own.  I’d have liked to
hear more of Paul Johnston’s guitar though; he’s a great acoustic
soloist, but there are only a couple of short flashes to be heard in
this selection.

For a (not overly
representative) flavour of the band and their music, check out this short video.


Went to see ageing Clydeside crooners Wet Wet Wet on Friday night. Rattled out all the old favourites expertly enough (even though Marti needed a crib sheet for some of them), but I think it was probably the first gig where I’ve had to sit down, and it’s just not the same really. This was more than adequately compensated by also being the first gig I’ve been to where you’ve been able to buy a CD of that night’s performance right after the show, though… bye bye bootleggers!

Wizard wheeze

Well, I’m still here… the GNOME team at Sun got away without too many casualties, one voluntary and a couple of not-so-voluntary.

Went to see The Proclaimers in town again last night… good show, ended up going on my own though. I did get them to autograph my unused spare ticket, though, so that was always something…

Saw the new Harry Potter movie at the weekend, too… wasn’t bad, pretty faithful to the book, not entirely convinced about the acting abilities of young Harry, though– his school chummies and chummettes were rather more accomplished, I thought. At least Gryffindor are obviously Motherwell fans, judging by their claret and amber scarves

Still haven’t found what I’m looking for…

My first mildly pleasant weekend for a while passed partly in the company of an actress friend of mine from London. Admittedly she was mostly over in Dublin not to see me, but ageing bland middle-of-the-road popsters U2 at Slane Castle, but it was great to see her again anyway… young, single, gorgeous and talented, we’re a perfect match 😛 (Were it not for the fact she thinks I’m merely “cute” and “sweet”, which are of course a the most illusion-dispelling words in a girl’s armoury.)

Anyway, back to reality, and there’s a surprisingly shallow pile of email to catch up on this sunny Monday morning, so it looks like I may have to spend the rest of it doing proper work. Such is life.