T-N-A-T-F – The Naked And The Famous, o2 Forum London, 14-02-17

Last year, well before Christmas I spotted a concert announcement, T-N-A-T-F are playing in February 2017 At The Forum in London! My
mind was flooded with flashbacks to Oxegen Festival in Dublin 2011, where I saw these guys for the very first time.
And again soon after at T-N-A-T-F - Oxegen 2011The Roundhouse 2011, November 2011, I’m pretty sure that was the point when I committed to my love affair with T-N-A-T-F!
I remember vividly making notes of bands I didn’t know but seemed worth checking out at Oxegen! My friends didn’t want to join me in the tent housing the smaller stage, no matter, I went along by myself. The place was full of smoke and it was quite difficult to make anything out, but the sound was amazing, kind of  electronic rock music, it kind of took you by surprise. So, when T-N-A-T-F followed up later in the year at my favourite venue The Roundhouse in Camden I knew I had to re-visit. My friend Emma was curious too, so the two of us went along, needless to say we both loved them, and have ever since!
No surprise I texted Emma straight away when I saw the 2017 gig announced to check if she would join me again – YES – I didn’t really expect anything else.
Somehow the significance of the date passed us by, February the 14th – Valentines Day – hmmmmmm, luckily we both have other halfs who don’t kick up a fuss when confronted with a different agenda than expected ( I think secretly they were glad, surely dinner out with champagne would be much more expensive) 🙂

So, there I was, at the Forum standing in the queue early making sure we secure a space in the front row. 8 people in front, so in with a good chance!!! I hadn’t realised the the Forum belongs to o2 now and has a priority queue, question was, will they let in the priority queue first or let T-N-A-T-Fboth queues in at the same time? I know from experience that Brixton Academy will let the priority people in first, Shepherds Bush Empire open simultaneously, and the o2 Academy Islington is hit and miss. What to do? I don’t want to run the risk of not getting to the front (mental note – get an o2 sim)! Emma was on her way, she would be coming straight from work – think, think – just then I overheard a couple of girls saying:”oh, there is a priority queue, lets go there, I’m on o2″, and off they went. A little while later I went for a wander, making sure I can retake my spot with the girl behind me, and saw the two girls were more or less first in line. I went up to them and simply asked if they were willing to take Emma and me in with them, as an o2 holder can take up to 3 people along. First they looked a bit puzzled but agreed, which was amazing, as we basically had the pick of the barrier when we were finally let in. Beth and her friend stood slightly off centre at Thom’s side, Emma and I in front of Alisa, yes, let the fun begin!T-N-A-T-F
As I glanced back over the still empty floor space a familiar face was walking towards me, the grin on John’s (Skippy’s) face said it all: You just can’t stay away!!! A hug, a quick catch-up and back to work he goes, John is one of the security guards in the pit in front of the stage, that’s how we got to know each other.
Emma and I hadn’t seen each other for a little while, so the usual wait for something to happen flew by, as we had a lot of catching up to do. Before we knew it the stage was prepared for Shell, consisting of a boy and a girl, to
be honest, I didn’t expect too much, am I bad?shell
When the young lady sang her first song I was pleasantly surprised, she had a strong voice, the kind of voice I would attach to singers from years gone by, like Vera Lyn. I can’t really explain it very well, but I enjoyed it, and that is a big compliment, as I often struggle with female voices. 

While setting the stage a photographer came past , holding out a sign and taking pictures of the people on
the barrier,of course Emma and I had one taken too :-), thank you Nici Eberl for letting me use it.
The stage began to be engulfed in smoke, the lights went down, it was time! Anticipation rippled through the now full venue, bursting into loud screams and clapping when the first band membethe-naked-and-the-famousr appeared, by the time Thom and Alisa came on stage the noise was reaching quite some decibels.
Starting the gig with “Water Beneath You“, the second track on their album ‘Simple Form’ was all it needed for the crowed to pay 100% attention and to sing along, there was no need to warm up the crowd at all. Not being that familiar with the new album I quietly hoped they would also play one or two songs from ‘Passive Me, Aggressive You’, which we both knew very well. They did not disappoint, the third song, my absolute favourite “All Of This” sealed the night for me! I loved the way they fused together all three albums, this kept you interested at all time, singing along to the favourites, being in awe of new to me tracks, loving the new ones like “Higher“. The crowd was unstoppable, not rowdy or wild just enjoying the music, dancing and singing, screaming and clapping. The lighting was dramatic, the stage dimly lit most of the time, light flashing toT-N-A-T-F the rhythms of their songs. Mind you that sort of light wasn’t so good to take a photo or two, so the German word ‘Schattenspiele’ springs to mind.  At one point both Thom and Alisa told us what an amazing crowd we were, and for the first time it sounded sincere coming from the band. So many times lead singers shout out “you are the best audience ever”, and everybody knows this is being said on every gig of the tour. But the way Alisa said she was speechless, trying to secretly wipe away a tiny tear from her eye made it so very real for me. All too soon it was the end, and yes they disappeared just to come right back out asking what we want, something romantic and acoustic or something to dance to? DANCE of course, everybody was wild for more!T-N-A-T-F
A couple of tracks, and it was all over, 90 minutes gone with the blink of an eye, a few waves, a couple of drumsticks thrown out and the magic was over! Wow, what a night, and before you ask, this love affair is alive and kicking.

Now the scramble for the setlist starts, John came over and asked if I prefer to have one from the stage, as he had one in his back pocket. We agreed I’d try and get one from the stage, should I fail the backup would do nicely. No need for back-up, a lovely Techie tore off Alisa’s list and handed it to me – happy girl-!

Guys please don’t make us wait too

long until next time, thank you for the music.

 

 

I’m back

Hi guys, I have been away for sooooooo long!  Although there has been music, I stayed silent! Why? I’m not sure, writers block? Uninspired? Time restrictions? I don’t know, but I’m determined that this year will be a fresh start for FrontRowStef :-).

I shall try and write a post of gig highlights over the past couple of years …… really? Already 2 years, dammmmm, I have been lazy!
I’m not attending as many gigs as you are used to from me, I’ve changed my job and got older ….hahahahhahaha….so time and energy is not always on my side!
But, tonight is the night, Valentines concert from The Naked and the Famous at the Forum in Kentish Town , it has been a while since I saw them, but I still love them!

Couple more concerts coming up in March, Dan Reed Network at the 100 Club and my new love Monster Truck  – “Don’t Tell Me How To Live” at the Electric Ballroom in Camden.

Yes, watch this space, I’m back!!!

FrontRowStef x

Pharrell Williams, iTunes Festival 14, Day 10

My second date with the Roundhouse this month, going to make the acquaintance of Pharrell Williams! To be honest I only know the ‘Happy’ song, which is Pharrella great record to sing along to in the car, and I believe it’s the song that gave this young man the breakthrough he deserves. I gather he has been around for a while in various bands from the hip hop scene, correct me if I’m wrong, please.

iTunes day 10Arriving at the Roundhouse I realise I timed it perfectly, the queue was just about to form and I managed to slip in the first section, soon after Nigel arrived. So here we are again, ready to jump!!! Soon enough the doors open and we are allowed in, the guys in front had just got their Pizza, eating as fast as they can, even trying to give some away. The guys in the Stand-by queue watching us go, with a look of ‘I wish it was me’ on their faces, that will be me tomorrow, I have no ticket for Maroon 5, but am determined to see them.

Once inside we manage to get to the barrier, more or less the same spot as for Beck, yes, that will do nicely! As always it’s a bit of a long boring wait, but if you Junglewant to have a prime spot, you just have to put the time in! The room fills up quickly, Pharrell is obviously well thought after. People sit on the floor, chat, check their mobiles, yes it’s time finally. The stage is ready for the Support band ‘Jungle’.Jungle

At 7:45pm they are appearing on stage, there are quite a few members and instruments. Not sure where I would categorise them, dance music? Electro? No, not a clue.  Musically they sound really good, and there are a lot of fans in the crowd, shouting and screaming. I get bored after a little while, but I guess that has more to do with me not knowing them and its not pulling me. The light is also really bad, no chance to get a good photo with my little camera.

I must say, there are some funny people about. When we first arrived there was a couple next to us, but they went away, moved around, obviously they lost their spot, not that it mattered. According to the female, she was a famous DJ with her own radio show on-line, she was an actress, a close friend of Lily Allen I think it was…..BUT, was sacked from the security company because she was attacked…and she lives with her mother??? Well, it entertained Nigel and I…lol!! I
Owen 1then found myself next to a husband and wife couple, again they had no idea how to keep their space and ended up with one of them behind. I did chat to them though about how annoying cameras and phones can be, iPads being the worst, why do some people insist on viewing the show through their phones or cameras. I admit I can get carried away taking photos, but I do try and keep it in front of myself so I’m not disturbing other peoples view. The husband did mention how years ago, you just came and watched, no photos, nothing, and wifey agreed. So now please explain to me why their poor sons, one called Owen apparently, had to watch the whole show through the women’s iPhone/facetime? The kid was  not that interested and it really disturbed my viewing, as the eye Owen 2automatically was drawn to the damn phone. If the kid really wanted to see the show….HELLOOOOO….it gets shown live on iTunes, much better quality and you never know mother may get spotted in the crowd. Poor kids!!!!!

Anyway, the show begins and the count down is much better today.. 10..9..8..7..6..5..4..3..2..1….the noise is deafening when Pharrells beautiful girls turn up on stage, dancing like nobody is watching them, I’m exhausted just watching. Pharrell comes on stage looking familiar in torn jeans and his hat, opening the set with ‘Lose yourself to dance’ , very fitting start. I have to say, I’m not a dancy, hip hoppy type Pharrellperson any more, but this guy makes you move. An extraordinary performer who I’m experiencing for the very first time, you can’t help it you have to love him! It feels very similarly to the first time I saw Example (funnyily enough, here at iTunes), totally blown away. Pharrell is working the stage so everybody gets a close up glimpse of him, the girls are on stage all throughout the show, respect for their stamina, I do remember how exhausting dancing can be. But these girls are smiling and making it look Pharrelleasy, yes, I’m a tad jealous, how I wish I was still able to dance like that. Well, back to the main man, he is delivering one track after another, 17 songs all together. He does mention apple one or ten times, I wonder why? lol! He introduces a former band member of N.E.R.D., they doing a couple of numbers together, and the crowd goes wild, amazing atmosphere, and yes Owen still has to watch. Another very irritating thing this women does is wave frantically at Pharrell to sing Pharrellinto her bloody phone every time he comes near us, resulting (I’m sure) in him to not paying our side much attention.
Every girl also gets a chance to show of her skills by herself, very nice, I’m sure all the men in the crowd enjoyed that very much.
As if the crowd hasn’t been pumped up enough all night, when he delivers ‘Happy’ as his last song all hell breaks lose. Everybody is singing, Pharrellconfetti rains down on us in all shapes and sizes, and loads of it. I do love a bit of confetti. Pharrells own security guy who watches with beady eyes from the side of the stage looks great, somehow he’s only got stars on his black top and they are evenly spaced too, good look :-)!
It’s all over, time went so quick, it’s hot and sweaty in here! Pharrell lingers on stage a little while soaking in the appreciation he is shown, I get the feeling he is a little choked up. And why not, as he mentioned earlier, it took him a long, long Pharrelltime to get to where he is today.

The stage is empty, time to leave another amazing night behind, and yes, I do manage to get the setlist!!
Thank you iTunes for introducing me yet again to another great artist.

 

BECK, iTunes Festival 2014, Day 2

Hello peeps, it has been far far too long! I’m not sure what happened to me, I have started to write a few entries, but never seem to be able to finish them.  Let’s
try and get something on this cyber paper!beck

iTunes Festival 2014, my 6th Festival, has started and we all know I’m a lucky lucky person, I have won a handful of tickets :-). I must say Apple have really tightened and limited the way to win tickets, one iTunes account – one email address! To be honest, it’s only fair and I blame all the greedy people out there who entered only to sell FREE tickets afterwards. So now you know, one chance, ID checked outside, stamp on hand, no waiting in queue without your friend (plus one), ID checked inside. If any of you guys bought a ticket of someone, well, you just wasted your money and spoiled the winning process for the rest of us.

This year I’m starting with Beck, I have to admit he is not someone I know, but my daughter LOVES him, and yes, she was a tad envious when I told her I had tickets and she couldn’t come over from Paris. My daughter and her husband weren’t too sure if he was my cup of tea, but, the only way to find out is to go and see him.

Turning up at the Roundhouse, seeing all the big posters advertising the acts, big hello from the security guards.  Joanne, who I took in a couple of years ago Frontrow Posseto see Matchbox 20, was in the standby queue, tapping on my shoulder saying hi.  Just being there, people holding their precious tickets in their hands, nipping over the road to get a sandwich. Once inside I just felt a huge buzz, I have been tired and a little despondent lately, but walking in, wristband on, up the stairs into the main hall………..everything familiar, the smell of anticipation in the air, my space at the frontrow secured by my trusted gig buddies Nigel and Kathy, I really felt like I have come home. Is that sad? Looking around I spot a familiar face, one of the security guys, I go over to him , a hug, a hello, and yes the promise ‘if I get a set list it’s yours’ :-). A little while later he even comes over to say hello to my frontrow posse, another of the security guards, a young girl, lingers and chats to us for a while, lovely young lady! Somehow I’m missing Johnny’s face further down the barrier, waving and competing with me for the set lists.

It’s time to turn our attention to the stage, the support act has arrived, Jenny Lewis, never heard of her. At first glance I quite like her set, all pink, stars and Jenny Lewisrainbows, but to be honest, the novelty wore off quickly. Her boots, guitar, everything in pastel colours with stars on…..hmmmm, ok, if you have to. She starts her set with a song called ‘Silver Lining’, she sounded good, a little bit country. Nice performer, nice singer, but after 5 or so songs I got a bit bored, sorry Jenny!

Set over, and impossible to get a set list, the techies are just not interested, I guess they are busy changing the set over. I glance at Jenny LewisJoanne, who is only a couple of spaces away and she has one in her hand…….how I ask, ahh, she went round to the sound desk, clever girl.

The stage is being set for Beck, hmmm, there was me thinking he is a one man band, wrong, drums, keys…everything a full band needs has been rolled in, ok, so this bodes well! I hear Beck is supposed to be coming on stage at 9:15, WHAT? Its always 9pm, there is always the countdown on the big screen……….hang on, where are the screens? Where is the short video going through bands that have performed here in previous years? iTunes, you’re letting me down :-(. This is not creating the electric atmosphere as in previous years, when everybody cheered when their fav band came up and joined in the countdown from 10 down. SHAME!!
Being on the barrier stage left I do spot a lit up circle with the countdown on, purely for the cameras though, as it is shown live via iTunes, a Beckfew people try and instigate the countdown, but it isn’t quite happening.

And here is the man himself, he bursts on to the stage, full of energy. Looks like we are in for a treat! He starts with the song ‘Devil’s Haircut’ and yes, I’m impressed, he is good! He moves so fast on that stage, it is hard to get a good photo with our little cameras. The third song ‘Loser’ is the well known one and gets the crowd going, this is how we like it, arms in the air, singing along, brilliant. Beck’s show is amazing, jacket on, jacket off, kneeling or lying on the floor, jumping in the air, he is making me tired just watching. His harmonica he just used gets chucked off the stage and lands somewhere near us, I spot it…too late, the girl next to Kathy got there first, am I losing my touch?? She holds it tight in Beckher hand and later I see her giving it to a guy close to her, who is obviously a huge fan, knows every word to every song, you can actually feel his excitement! I like that A LOT!
Suddenly there seems to be mayhem on stage, the musicians running around, bumping into each other, falling down, staying down, a yellow ‘do not cross- crime scene’ tape is being pulled across the stage, one of the guys dragged along the floor by his legs off the stage………..everybody disappears, all is quiet for a moment, until Beck and his band reappear and carry on with the set! BeckAmazing show, I turn to Peter to see what he thinks, yes, he is liking it! Being an old school rocker that is a big compliment Mr.Beck!

Beck16 tracks later the magic is over! What a spectacular start to my iTunes festival 14, bring on Pharrell Williams!

And now the fight for the set list, it seems impossible to get the guys attention :-(, one lucky girl gets a set list passed down, epic fail on my side! But hang on, Nigel managed to get one for me, amazing, thank you Nigel, awesome!!Beck
Just as we were leaving, Joanne grabs me, giving me a set list for Jenny Lewis, she said “I got a second one for you, as a thank you for taking me in for Matchbox 20“. Big smile, it’s called karma, you give and you get!!!

Wilko Johnson & Roger Daltrey, Shepherds Bush Empire, London 25/02/14

A good 40 years ago I bought one of my first singles, yes, a single on vinyl. It was at a second-hand shop, featuring Roger Daltrey’s ‘Giving it all wilko - rogeraway’.
And today I decided it was about time for me to catch the man on stage.Giving it all away
It was a bit of a long shot, the gig has been sold out for ages! Still, I posted onto Wilko Johnson’s page; maybe, just maybe someone has a spare standing ticket and is willing to sell at face value. On the actual day I received a message, a spare ticket, second tier……hmmmmm, it’s not what I usually do, but I got in touch with the guy, better than nothing.
After work I went straight into London, I had agreed to meet Alan at 6:30 -7pm at the venue. I got there in good time and I must say, the queues were unbelievable, and, 90 % of people in my age group, that makes a pleasant change…hehehehehe! I called Alan, no reply :-(, tried a few times, finally he answered. He was only just at Clapham Junction; gig won’t start till 9pm, so no rush. He so doesn’t Wilko Johnson-Roger Daltrey5know me! I told him that if I find a standing ticket I’ll be passing his, somehow I don’t think he was too bothered. I stood for a while to gauge the people, who looked like they were on their own? Maybe a mate had let them down. Walking up and down, the touts sticking stupid priced tickets under my nose…..no thanks, I’ll take my chances, there may be some returns at the box office once everyone has gone in. I passed a guy who was trying to take a photo of himself and the announcement banner above the entrance, I offered to take the photo for him and got chatting. Wow, he travelled here from Argentina and paid £145 for tonight’s ticket, mad fan! I explained my dilemma and he wished me luck as he needed to get back in the queue, which was growing by the minute. I saw another guy standing on his own, so I just asked him if he’s going to the gig tonight. He was a little reluctant to talk, but you know me, I don’t give up…lol! He told me he’d never been to the Shepherds Bush Empire before and when he said he Standard Lampshad a standing ticket I explained where he had to queue, I also mentioned my disappointment about the spare ticket upstairs and Alan not turning up till later. He looked at me and said: I have a spare standing ticket, my mate couldn’t come!! WHATTTT????? Can I buy it for face value??? YES, I got my hands on a standing ticket! Amazing!! David, my saviour (lol) and I joined the long queue. Plenty of time to chat now! Apparently he followed Dr. Feelgood/ Wilko Johnson for many, many years, came all the way down from Huddersfield and will make his way back with the night bus.
He told me that when he got here around 4pmish there was already a queue forming, he went for a little walk around the back and actually managed to see Roger Daltrey arriving, loads of paparazzi and he had 3 bodyguards with him….so the man is in the house! The queue started moving, I caught Mr. Argentina’s eye, he smiled and said: You managed to find a ticket, enjoy!! Finally we were at the door; any hopes of the front row had already left me :-(.  Once in the venue I made a beeline towards stage right as per usual, it was busy but not as busy as expected, we managed to position ourselves in the second row, not bad considering. Time went quickly, at some point I managed to find a tiny corner on the barrier for my coat, and yes, you guessed, as people shuffled along I got my barrier space. Chatting to David was a pleasure, he has been to a vast array of gigs in the past and even told me that he still has two unused tickets for The Rolling Standard Lamps1Stones Urban Jungle tour in 1990, he never made it to Wembley …..I’m glad to say I was there!!
Movement on the stage, the support band ‘Standard Lamps’ are getting ready to play. A new experience for me, but certainly not a disappointing one. They were a worthy support to the legends of Wilko Johnson and Roger Daltrey, the 3 man outfit delivered some great tunes with confidence and passion, connecting with the crowd and just the right mix of chat and banter. Certainly a group to look out for!

Nearly 9pm, the stage has been set and the Shepherds Bush Empire is packed out, every single space has been occupied, it is a more mature age group, long time followers like David or doing the gig scene the second time round like myself. What I do notice the most is that there is no shuffling or pushing, we all have breathing space and no monkeys on our backs!! Bliss. Looking down the front row I see a familiar face, Irish Wilko Johnson-Roger DaltreyBrian, we do seem to share a similar music taste, must catch him after the show.
Finally Wilko Johnson walks onto the stage with his fellow musicians, Norman Watt-Roy and Dylan Howe, the room erupts into a roar of shouts and clapping, starting the evening with the song ‘All right’, wow, there is no need to warm up the crowd, everybody is on board from the first note played. What an atmosphere, totally electric!! Wilko, looking in good shape considering he was supposed to die last October, maybe the music and the fans keep him going! He moves backwards and forwards, left to right, it’s quite hard to get a decent photo, he is too fast…lol! Wilko and bassist Wilko Johnson-Roger Daltrey1Norman are a good team, very much in tune with each other, not just musically it seems. Wilko kept the stage to himself for the first few songs, playing Dr. Feelgood songs like ‘The More You Give’ and ‘Roxette’.
Smiling at the crowed, stepping back, Wilko announces Roger Daltrey, Roger bounces onto the stage to yet more screams and whistles. Wow, few years older like all of us, but unmistakably Roger Daltrey, suddenly I’m a young girl seeing a much loved idol finally on stage…..awesome!
The engery on that stage (stage) is being thrown into the audience who are not hesitating in taking it on, smiles, dancing, head banging (well Wilko Johnson-Roger Daltrey6gently..hehehehe), singing, everybody seems emerged in this time warp. Songs like ‘Going Back Home’ or ‘Keep On Loving You’ keep us entertained, I’m loving the Bob Dylan cover ‘Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window’ harmonica and everything!!
Half way through Daltrey bends down to pick up some pieces of paper, he laughs and shouts out “…this is a lot to remember at my age…”, there are a couple of occasions when Wilko or Roger have to check what’s next, but it only adds to the uniqueness of the evening. Considering Roger Daltrey is 70 in a few days and Wilko terminally ill, one can only stand in awe seeing the joy and energy these Wilko Johnson-Roger Daltrey3two rockstars are displaying on stage, how happy am I to have made the effort on the off chance tonight!!!!
Finishing the set with the Who cover ‘I Can’t Explain’ makes me feel great and sad because the magic is coming to an Wilko Johnson-Roger Daltrey4end. The band poses and thanks the fans, wander off the stage just to rush back seconds later for a final song, ‘I Keep It To Myself’………….and that is it 😦
Nobody is moving in the hope for a second encore, no luck, the show is over the lights come up.
David has to rush off to catch the night bus back home, a hug, a goodbye and a maybe another time and he is gone, and I make my way to the centre of the barrier. Brian is still there, more hugs and he makes room on the barrier as he knows what I’m after, the set list..lol! It took quite some effort, but I managed to get that precious piece of paper, now I’m ready to make my way home!Wilko Johnson-Roger Daltrey7
Walking to Shepherds Bush Tube station I can’t help but smile, I feel alive!!