Dan Reed Network, 100 Club, London, 10.03.2017

I love that feeling, when you leave the venue after a gig and think: ” Did that really just happen?” This was exactly how the DRN made me feel tonight, every time I see them its like the first time, just better! :-

But let’s start from the beginning!
There was no doubt in my mind that I would revisit the 100 club for another injection of Dan Reed Network, last years gig was just so brilliant!
It seemed to take me forever to get into London after work, even though the traffic wasn’t actually that bad! I guess it didn’t help walking down Tottenham Court Road when it should have been Oxford Street. Luckily Peter was already in town and more to the point in the queue :-).
When I got there he had already made friends with Masako and Terry, who turned up hoping to get a ticket from somewhere as the concert was sold out. I love meeting new people and chatting in the queue, this makes the wait so much easier. Even more amazing that the 4 of us discovered a mutual love for ‘Never The Bride‘, I haven’t met many people who are familiar with them (they should be though)!
The doors open, in we go, there are only a handful of people in front, so no worries about a spot at the stage, as the 100 Club has no barriers. Terry came in with us, but the nice young man checking off our names confirmed what we already knew, SOLD OUT. Well, hopefully he will find someone with a spare plus one!
We have a great place, nestled between Dan and Melvin the Bassist! I took the opportunity while waiting to sit on the stage, my knee does not like standing for too long, come to think of it, my knee doesn’t like much at all! Looking around I can see lots of people with ‘Vega’ T-shirts, they are the support band and seem to have quite a following. I have not had the pleasure before, so who knows, I might just make a new discovery.
I spot a hand reaching forward, its Terry, he is already in, amazing, apparently some guy turned up who was with a band (not too sure which one) and said he could come in with him. See, never give up, as I know from experience there is often a way to get into a sold out gig if you put time and effort in. Terry moves across to the other side, in front of Brion, and Masako is not far behind us.

The stage is bathed in a dim reddish light, its going to be tricky to get a good snap with my little camera, but I shall try!
It doesn’t take long at all for the stage to be prepared for ‘Vega‘, big shout outs when they run onto the stage, yes there are quite a few fans in the audience. They are a British band, and have already released 4 albums, they are made up of 5 young men, and two of them look very alike, they must be brothers, lol. What an energy is brought to that stage, from the first few notes right to the end you felt drawn into their sound. Really liked it, mind you it was very loud, one of those moments I wished I had remembered my earplugs…you live and learn! I loved the way they nodded at people they recognised, smiled and lead singer Nick didn’t look stressed when he had to change over to the mic with the lead as the wireless seemed to have failed. Being that close to the stage you can see that at times it looked like an accident was waiting to happen, feet tangled up in various leads. Well, I was ready to catch, how often do I have the chance to catch a rockstar? But, the only thing that happened was  Peter and I wanting more. Guys, we will find you again!!!

It was just after 9 pm when DRN arrived on stage, accompanied by noise, clapping and sheer jubilation, excitement rising as we are about to experience some great music! Dan trying to convince us that they are going to start gentle, which of course was far from the truth, within minutes Dan was pretty sweaty, and not just from the spotlights but from his air punching jumps, running the length of the stage uncountable times. There were no set lists, who needs a set list he casually mentioned just tell us what you want to hear! ‘Divided’, ‘Get To You’ , ‘Rainbow child’ , each song gets you right inside, you can see that every single song touches each of us in a different way. I’m not 100% sure if it was ‘Ritual’ when Dan held the microphone to a guy in front of him and bless him, this fan carried on singing as if it was the most natural thing in the world.
And what a great treat when Dan announced that Nathan James, the lead singer of Inglorious is going to join him on stage for a sing along! Pete and I looked at each other not believing this is happening! We discovered Inglorious last year, and basically we can’t get enough of them! I might be wrong, but I’m sure they sang ‘Rock And Roll All Night’ from KISS, whatever it was, it was brilliant. Nathan cheekily announcing that Dan got him on stage early to make sure he has more drinking time.
Dan carries on once Nathan disappeared from the stage, he bantered with the band members, cracked a joke or two about Trump, and just like last year, some of the equipment seemed to fail…lol….is it on purpose I wonder? Dan briefly mentions his solo albums and gigs he has played, I’m very happy to say I have all his solo albums and seen him back in December 2011 at the Union Chapel and a couple of years later at the Underworld in Camden. He explained how after that the Network reunited and carried on doing what they do best! 2014 I saw them at the o2 Academy Islington and of course as I already mentioned last year at the 100 club.
I hear Terry shouting out that he would like them to play ‘Slam’ and without hesitation the request is full filled, singing to Terry grabbing his hand for a strong handshake. Dan tells us about a guy called Steve, who was celebrating his 77th Birthday and was in the audience, Steve had introduced his daughter to their music, which was one of those perfect moments of fate, as she helped DRN to get to where they are today. Steves song request is ‘Stronger than Steel’, another firm favourite. Dan chats about how he and Dan the drummer used to hang out and listen to music together. He lets Brion play his version of ‘Ricky Don’t lose That Number’ and moves out of the limelight when keyboard player Rob performs a song called ‘All For A Kiss’. A beautiful soulful ballad, and oh surprise, people listened instead of starting to chat like I have experienced at so many other concerts when the tempo got turned down. I also love the way Brion sings ‘…♫♪..who’s gonna save the world…..♫♪’, there are just too many amazing songs to mention. The medley of ‘Relax’, ‘Purple Haze’ and ‘I was made for loving you Baby’….words just cannot describe what pleasure the whole evening gave us. I would describe it as a jam-session, rather than a concert, totally relaxed and natural.
After nearly a couple of hours of music the promise of meeting all of us to sign stuff and have pictures take, lets face it, how many Rock Stars do actually still bother after many years of success, to come and mingle with the fans. Let me tell you, not many at all!
They bow to the crowd, they shake as many of the outstretched hands as possible, I was even lucky enough to have a kiss planted on my hand from Melvin, sometimes I’m still that star struck little girl….and proud of it!

We hang around for a little while to catch up with Terry, who felt just as excited as Peter and I. We also managed to have a picture taken with Melvin and one with Dan. Such an amazing fantastic brilliant night, thank you for the music guys!

And that brings me back to the beginning of the blog: Did that really just happen?

 

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!!!