GIG: The Zombies 50th Anniversary Tour
DATE: Sunday 27th November 2011
VENUE: Alban Arena, St Peters Street, St Albans, Herts
COST: £22.50 plus the usual extortionate booking fees! 
OUR VERDICT: The boys come home

We’ve seen the touring Zombies many times, and the reformed Zombies (with the four original surviving members) for the Odessy & Oracle Tour a couple of times, but have never seen The Zombies on their home turf. Fifty years since their first gig, the band was back in St Albans playing to a very appreciative, sell-out crowd (which included Rod’s mum!).

This show was the touring Zombies, with Rod Argent (keyboards and vocals), Colin Blunstone (vocals), Jim Rodford (bass), Steve Rodford (drums) and we were seeing the new guitarist Tom Toomey for the first time.

The set was a mixture of old Zombie classics and many new songs from their recent CD, “Breathe Out, Breathe In” and also included some Colin Blunstone solo tracks, such as “What Becomes Of the Broken Hearted” and some Argent songs, “Hold Your Head Up”, and “God Gave Rock & Roll To You”.

Colin Blunstone’s vocals just get stronger and stronger with time, and how he holds that final note for the time he does at the end of “Say You Don’t Mind”, we’ll never know. Flawless is the way we would describe his vocal performance tonight. Rod was right at home behind his Hammond and Kurzweil organs and delivered some stellar vocals too.

A real highlight was Tom’s guitar solo at the end of Colin’s big hit “Old and Wise.” It would have given Dave Gilmour a run for his money. The Beeb can’t remember the last time he heard a better solo.

For the Odessy & Oracle tracks, the audience were really happy to see founder members Hugh Grundy and Chris White join the band on stage, and with Chris’ wife, Viv adding some excellent vocal harmonies, we let some of the O&O songs tingle our ears. It was great to see the guys back together again as a special one-off in the town where it all started fifty years ago……..

“She’s Not There” ended the main part of the night but the audience would not let The Zombies off the hook so quickly and they bade us farewell with the sultry “Summertime”, which had also been used as the main intro music to a recent BBC4 documentary about the Gershwin song.


GIG: Paul Merton - Work In Progress
DATE: Saturday 26th November 2011
VENUE: Old Town Hall, High Street, Hemel Hempstead
COST: £10.00 and no booking fee


GIG: Barb Jungr sings Dylan
DATE: Saturday 12th November 2011
VENUE: Old Town Hall, High Street, Hemel Hempstead, Herts
COST: £12.00 and no booking fee
OUR VERDICT: Dylan-esque

The Old Town Hall in Hemel Hempstead is a very intimate venue – seating only about 120 bods. And those 120 seats were filled with a discerning audience, who came to listen to Barb (and her pianist Jenny’s light tinkling of the ivories), share with us her personal interpretation of Dylan’s songs, and also hear some of the wonderful tales Barb shared.

Barb’s love of Dylan and her knowledge of the songs and Bob’s history shone throughout the show. Infused with a bit of jazz and blues, we were treated to Dylan’s catalogue, such as “It Ain’t Me Babe”, “Times They Are A-Changin’”, and “Blind Willie McTell”. All the songs were sung with a passion that was so evident.

At the same time, we were educated in the history of all things Dylan. Just a couple of the many educational insights were tales of Dylan’s time with Joan Baez and we learned that “Sarah” had been written as a result of going through a divorce with his wife.

Ending on “Forever Young”, the show was over, but Barb was gracious with her time after the show to meet those of the audience that waited for 10 minutes for so. We feel that Barb would be contented signing nothing but Dylan!

The Beeb met the wonderful Barb Jungr after the gig


GIG: Alice Cooper, Halloween Night of Fear with support from the New York Dolls
DATE: Saturday 29th October 2011
VENUE: Alexandra Palace, London, NW2 7AY
COST: £34.50 plus extortionate service fee of £5.25/ticket PLUS the luxury of having to print our own tickets!!!!
OUR VERDICT: Ghouls gone wild

The Beeb is Ghouled!
The entrance to Alexandra Palace was adorned with monster paraphernalia, and ghouls and zombies awaited us as we filed in, each trying to spook the crowd.
Inside were more ghouls and zombies who were part of the show, alongside a mixture of normally dressed people and those who had really dressed for the occasion, in fancy dress, characters from Alice Cooper’s vast back catalogue and even some Alice lookalikes. First time we’ve been to a concert and felt under-dressed!

The gig was all standing and as the hall was so massive, two large screens were hoisted in the air right and left of the stage so if you couldn’t see through the throng of big heads and tall people, you could always see the live action on the screens!

Earl Slick
We had wandered through to the main hall not long after the New York Dolls started their set. The sound was very clear, and although they didn’t have a massive stage presence, the Dolls sounded really good. The Beeb was well impressed that long time David Bowie guitarist Earl Slick was part of the band.

Minty was not really familiar with this band, but they have a good rock sound, a bit of harmonica thrown in every now and then, and one of the guitarists had a lovely gold Gretsch! They did manage to play their whole set without breaking sweat. They’re built for more up close and intimate venues rather than arenas.
The New York Dolls

Their set ended and we had a 45 minute wait while, behind the Alice Cooper stage curtain, the gear was set up for the Halloween Night of Fear. We had worked our way through the masses of bodies by this point, and found a tiny bit of unoccupied space about twenty five metres from the stage.
The Stage Curtain

The heat from the bodies packed into the immediate area around us was overwhelming and about five minutes before Alice’s show began, right  beside us one very tall gentleman had just taken his leather jacket off  then passed out cold, giving everyone around him a bit of a fright as he just fell backwards and hit the floor hard! Within seconds he had recovered, thankfully. The first thing he did was asked where his jacket was. The Beeb told him he had it, then gave him it back saying the pockets were empty!

The Black Widow

So the lights went down and a Vincent Price voiceover introduced the show……. The curtain was dropped and Alice was there, dressed in black and orange, centre stage at the top of a set of steps so everyone, no matter how tall or small, how close or far, could see him, with sparklers in the palm of his hand while his did his first song “Black Widow”. What a start!

His set was a bit of a greatest hits show, with “Billion Dollar Babies”, “I’m Eighteen”, “No More Mr Nice Guy”, “Hey Stoopid” and “Poison” complimenting his visual artistry. Alice Cooper is definitely a true performer. “Only Women Bleed” was really fantastic, singing along to ‘Cold Ethel’ his toy doll.

When it was time for a change of costume, he left the stage, leaving the bass player and drummer to keep the beat going….. and they did! An extended drum solo and the crowd encouraged to reprise the “Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey”  from “Hey Stoopid” kept the pace up for about ten minutes before Alice came back on the stage this time dressed in black and white.

To introduce one of his new songs, “I’ll Bite Your Face Off” he came on stage wearing a jacket that had “New Song” splayed across the back, just so we all knew it was exactly that!!

There were the expected shockers: early in the show he brought his friendly snake on stage, wrapped around his neck, and towards the end of the show, we saw Alice being beheaded and then the executioner drinking his blood and spitting it out into the crowd!

The last song of the main set was the cult classic, “School’s Out” which everyone in the crowd shouting along with and which morphed into a superb rendition of Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”.


There was an encore, “Elected” where Alice came back on stage in a ring master coat and Top Hat, carrying a huge Union Jack Flag and then a Halloween guest appearance from Arthur Brown, who gave an energetic performance of his classic hit “Fire,” complete with huge flames engulfing the head-dress he was wearing. We feel it got a bit hot under the collar for him and there was a spot of difficulty in removing the head-dress at the appointed time!!!

Arthur Brown & Alice share a laugh at the end of the show

It took a while to file out of the hall and by the time we joined the queue to pick up our pre-ordered copy of the 3-CD set recording of the show, it had extended way back to the end of the hall! The queue did move quickly though and before long were on our way, CD in hand and talking about how great the show had been.

It’s hard to believe that Mary Whitehouse and her ilk were up in arms when Alice first came on the scene here. What Alice cooper really is, is just the biggest and best and truly entertaining pantomime villain there has ever been. Oh, a pantomime villain with a great back catalogue of songs that is.

Alice certainly has his dedicated fans. There was a really wide age range in the audience, and you could tell different ages had their own particular favourite song eras. We can’t think any other gig where so many people came specially dressed for the occasion. Some of the costumes were amazing.

The Beeb has been waiting for forty years to see this man perform and he was on a high (or maybe just a bit lightheaded from the headshaking to the music!!!).

Two let downs of the night:

The company running the bars have dodgy practices. We bought 2 bottles of Pepsi and as we were not allowed to take bottles into the hall, the contents were poured into paper cups for us by the bar staff. Well, they poured about two thirds of each bottle into cups and then handed the cups over. When I pointed out we had paid for two bottles and I therefore I expected the FULL contents of those bottles to be in the cups, they were a bit incredulous!!!!

The representatives of the company selling the 3-CD recording of that night’s show told us that if we didn’t pre-order and waited instead until after the show to buy the CD, the chances are we would lose out and not get a copy. We were a bit miffed that as soon as we walked out, we could have purchased the said CD directly from the girls flogging them, instead of waiting in the extremely lengthy Q to get our pre-ordered copy. Also, you can order the CD directly on their website even if you never went to the show. Hmmm, questionable practices to secure your money upfront, especially as they would have known they were also making the CD available to buy on on line!


GIG: Glen Campbell
DATE: Saturday 22nd October 2011
VENUE: Royal Festival Hall, South Bank, London
COST: £42.50 (no fee as were members)
RATING: Thank You and Good Bye


This show was a sell-out, and the RFH had even opened up the choir section behind the stage to cram more people in!

Instant People opened up the night’s proceedings – a 5 piece band, 3 of who (we were later to find out)  were siblings and had the Campbell name…. they were Glen’s children. They were actually really good – the banjo playing keyboardist was Glen’s daughter Ashley, the Ovation guitar player was his son, as was the drummer (safely caged behind Perspex!). The main lead in the group was not a family member but he had a very fine strong voice. The bassist was a mite annoying with a chicken walk and he kept coming off his perch, and then got his lead tangled!

Their style of music can best be described as hypnotic groove and are not unlike the band ‘Grand Drive’ (which includes three brothers called Wilson!) with acoustics and some good harmony.

After a short interval, Instant People were back on stage, this time as Glen’s band. When he walked onto the stage the place erupted, he had a standing ovation and he hadn’t even uttered a single word! His opening number was “Gentle On My Mind” and by the second song, “Galveston”, The Beeb had reached for the hankies. This was going to be a very emotional evening.

Glen has not lost his sense of humour, striking a pose for the press photographers, imitating Elvis during “It’s Only Make Believe” and doing Donald duck impressions! Years of entertaining audiences became clear early on, and the way he moved around the stage showed incredible understanding of how to reach out to everyone there.

His daughter challenged him to a duel, and what we got was “Duelling Banjos.” with her on banjo and him on guitar and what we got was a few minutes of bluegrass delight! No wonder Glen was such a successful session musician – he has not lost any of his finger work on a guitar!!!

Glen left the stage while his kids introduced the band (The Beeb was quite taken with the drummer’s middle name being Caledonia!)… which included his long term keyboardist, T.J. Kuenster, who also seemed to be the musical director and then the band did a lovely cover of one of Glen’s songs, “Hey, Little One”.

Glen came back on stage and gave us “Ghost On The Canvas”, the title track from his new album, which sounded superb. The next set of songs included “Southern Nights” and then he said that if it wasn’t for Jimmy Webb he probably wouldn’t be here doing this right now…. and The Beeb just melted when the first chords of “Wichita Linesman” were played. Without a doubt, one of his top five songs of all time.

The final song was “Rhinestone Cowboy” which had the 4000 strong audience singing along, and Glen, understandably seemed to really love and appreciate this.

As he left the stage, the applause was thunderous and it wasn’t long before he was back in front of the microphone for two final songs, “In My Arms” and the incredibly moving “A Better Place” before he really did mean, “Thank you and goodbye”.

This was a particularly emotional night for The Beeb, because Glen Campbell has always been a particular favourite of his from way back in the sixties, but never got the chance to see him live. The Beeb has always appreciated a good voice.

So, a poignant evening, knowing that after this tour Glen will never hang up his guitar, and no matter what the future holds for him he’ll always have his music to help him on the rest of life’s journey.


GIG: John Cooper Clarke
VENUE: Jazz Cafe, Camden, London
DATE: Saturday 8th October 2011
COST: £22.00 (+£16.50 towards the food bill) plus the usual extornionate fess of £11.75 for both tickets
OUR VERDICT: "Feeding Caviar to Swine"

We had high expectations with the Jazz Cafe...... an iconic London music venue which offered the show & dinner.
Dinner was very disappointing and as the first of the two support poets took to the stage, he was drowned out from the staff clattering with plates, trays, continuing to serve food and drinks throughout, and chattering amongst themselves AND a constant chatter from two tables nearby where the diners had no concept of talking quietly!! Also the view from the dining tables was extremely restricted - a thing not noted when making our booking!!!

After we had paid for our meal (we refused to pay the 10% automatically added to the bill after the constant interruptions and noise whilst the support acts were on stage) we headed downstairs and joined the "mosh pit" where the audience had a bit of respect for the performers.

Not long after 9pm, John Cooper Clarke took to the stage..... dressed all in black, with large Ray Ban sunglasses, carrying what looked like a G&T.

For the next hour and fifteen minutes he wowed us with his witty repartie and poetry. To our surprise, there were more jokes and humourous memories than poetry, but nonetheless it was a thoroughly enjoyable show.

JCC has a list of poems that fans of his know, in fact he had a whole book of them on stage. But the only one that he did that was known to us was his hilarious "Hire Car." The lack of poems wasn't a problem though, his humourous off-the-cuff stories, (which went off at all tangents!) and jokes more than made up for it.

He could have gone on all night we imagine, but the compere at the side of the stage finally had to hook him off to make way for the 80's disco that was due to start right then!!!

We'd definitely love to see The Bard Of Salford again, but certainly NOT in the Jazz Cafe, Camden.


GIG : Brian Wilson
Venue :  Royal Festival Hall, London
Date : Sunday 18th September 2011
Cost : £55 (no booking fee)
Our Verdict : It's Getting Better All The Time

Night number three… it was the last night in London and we hoped that Brian’s momentum would be maintained. Brian-land is a small world, and whilst having pizza for dinner before the show, who should sit at the table next to us, but two of the band Spygenius – a band we have seen a few times at the IPO’s in the UK. They too, were going to the show!

So, this was the last time we were going to hear ‘Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin’ and we savoured every moment. The harmonies were great, and being in seats just to the left of centre, we had a good view of Probyn Gregory playing a slidey steel on “I Got A Crush On You”. Tonight Minty did the ‘close your eyes and just listen’ bit and The Beeb was right – it did sound lovely.

Time just flew past us, and before we knew it, the final “Our Prayer” type harmonies were fading and Brian was walking off the stage for the interval.

The second set kicked off in the usual style, with Brian Wilson walking on stage to the intro of “California Girls” and the hall erupted in a great cheer and hearty applause. Tonight “Salt Lake City” was back in the set and the band members spotlights were also still there, Darian Sahanaja with “Darlin’”, Scott Bennett with “Sail On Sailor”, Nicky Wonder leading the way with “Pet Sounds” and the drum-off between Mike D’Amico and Nelson Bragg was the best we have heard on the tour (the audience went wild). Also, the whole band stopped and just watched the pair beating it out and Nicky kissed his guitar at the end! The Beeb, being his usual shy self, hollered “Brilliant Nicky”.

Jeff Foskett did “Don’t Worry Baby”, his falsetto sounding sweet and we also had a bit of a nugget, with a new addition to the set “She Knows Me So Well” which went down a storm. Other newbies on this tour, tonight were “Girl Don’t Tell Me”, with both Jeff and Probyn playing 12 strings, and Brian sounding smooth, and “Marcella” which totally rocked, and Probyn went mad on guitar. The reaction from the audience on this song was awesome and Brian looked very happy with it.

“God Only Knows” was introduced by Brian as the “best song I’ve ever written” and as the first notes were heard from the French horn, played by Probyn, the crowd gave a loud cheer. We wouldn’t say tonight was the best version we have heard on the tour but it is such a great song, and the arrangements fantastic, that you can’t say anything negative about it.

The set ended with “Good Vibrations” and before it started, Brian so candidly told us that it was his last song of the set before he came back on for an encore!!! Everyone laughed!

Well we got the encore, and it was the usual fare, with “Johnny Be Good”, “Help Me Rhonda”, “Barbra Ann”, “Surfin’ USA” and “Fun, Fun, Fun” and then the second encore when we were sent on our way with a bit of “Love and Mercy”.  Before leaving the stage for the final time, Brian did allude to coming back again…. and soon!

Farewell London!

Again, not many photos as the RFH police were on the ball tonight and stopping everyone they saw.

We were able to say goodbye to the band in the post-show party before they got on their tour bus and headed to the South coast to catch a ferry over to France for their next gig.

So, 6 concerts over 8 days. We thought it would be hard to write six times about what is essentially the same show, but each time we heard the Gershwin set we heard and saw new things, and with the second set being changed every night, we had some variety. Hope you have enjoyed the ride with us.


GIG : Brian Wilson
Venue :  Royal Festival Hall, London
Date : Saturday 17th September 2011
Cost : £55 (no booking fee)
Our Verdict : Rhapsody In London

After such a great start to the London 3 night residency  yesterday, we hoped that Brian Wilson would keep the momentum going. We were not disappointed.

Tonight the big man was on fire. He really seemed to enjoy himself, and kept smiling throughout.  Again, the night started with ‘Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin’ all the way through. Once again, “”They Can’t Take That Away From Me” and “I Got Rhythm” got the audience all fired up and got a real rapturous applause. The latters’ segue into the “Farmers Daughter" type harmony was spot on, and the band sounded fantastic.

Brian seemed to really like “I Loves You Porgy”, “’S Wonderful” and “It Aint Necessarily So” if his face was any barometer of how good he thought things were (we would agree).  “I Got Plenty o' Nuttin’” is really growing on us, and tonight, from the side of the auditorium where our seats were, we had the chance to see Probyn’s banjo playing. Disappointingly, the Bass Harmonica on this one didn’t come through as strongly as other performances.

During “Someone to Watch Over Me”, The Beeb sat with his eyes shut and basked in the sweet sound that was Brian Wilson on this song. With nothing to detract from the sound, The Beeb thought this was wonderful.

The second half started with “California Girls”, which night after night has been a great kick off to the hits part of the show. “Dance, Dance, Dance” got Probyn Gregory grooving and swinging his guitar. Brian Wilson’s reaction at the end of “Surfer Girl” was a deep throated “alright” so we guess he thought it sounded as good as we did!

Once again, the set list was given a shake up and we got treated to a song we hadn’t heard for a long while.... “Drive In” which really sounded brilliant, and had an acapella, harmony ending which Minty loved. “Wendy” stayed in the set tonight (introduced by Brian as having a Four Seasons kind of lyric) as did “Add Some Music” which went down a storm with the audience judging by the enormous cheer it got. “Going Home” gave Darian Sahanaja another chance to play with his geeky moog and tonight “Little Girl I Once Knew” was back in the set.  Why this wasn’t a big hit, we don’t know! “Surfer Moon” with great string accompaniment from the Stockholm Strings was played for the second night in a row (despite Brian announcing it was the first time they were playing it live!!!!) and again it sounded perfect.

“Don’t Worry Baby” with Jeff’s fine vocals got the cheers it richly deserved. Darian reprised his “Darlin’” and was humbled by the audience’s tremendous appreciation for him. Nicky Wonder led “Pet Sounds” and tonight the drum-off between Mike D’Amico and Nelson Bragg was the best so far. This song works so well live on stage, and long may it continue in the set list. Scott Bennett also did his soulful version of “Sail On Sailor”.
Darian Sahanaja

Paul Mertens and Jeff Foskett
The encore was the standard fare, but a little girl danced along on stage, to the left of Jeff Foskett. The Stockholm Strings provided the dance moves to “Surfin’ USA” and “Fun, Fun, Fun” and the whole of the RFH was on their feet.

So, night number two in London – to sum up, it was electric. The good vibe in the hall was there, and Brian looked so comfortable  - he was relaxed and enjoying himself. We are going to be sad tomorrow when all this comes to an end........

Not many photos - there were too many people using flashes, and the staff were on the case asking people to stop taking pictures...indeed Paul Von Mertens jumped into the audience at one point to stop someone!

Our night did not end there, however. A bit of a party in the Camel & Artichoke pub afterwards went on until past 1am, with a couple of guitars, a tambourine or two and plenty of singing to Beach Boys songs with the decent crowd of fans who had gathered in the upstairs room. What a night!


GIG : Brian Wilson
Venue :  Royal Festival Hall, London
Date : Friday 16th September 2011
Cost : £55 (no booking fee)
Our Verdict : Add Some brilliant Music To Your Day

Brett, Nelson & Jeff
The Royal Festival Hall is an iconic venue for any Brian Wilson fan. It was here that he did “Pet Sounds” almost 10 years ago, premiered SMiLE in  2004 and the venue commissioned “That Lucky Old Sun”. Now, for the first time, London was going to hear “Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin” in its entirety.

As with the other shows on this tour, the first set was the Gershwin album from start to finish. Brian seemed very relaxed and comfortable and this shone through in the performance tonight. He seemed to particularly like the performance of “It’s Wonderful” and as with all of the other shows, “You Can’t Take That Away From Me” delighted the audience and really made the whole auditorium come alive.

Tonight we really noticed Nelson Bragg’s percussion, especially on “Our Love Is Here To Stay” where the soft brushing on a drum skin was so audible. Probyn Gregory delivered a fabulous piece of guitar on “I’ve Got A Crush On You” and another real crowd pleaser was “I’ve Got Rhythm” which got such a great round of applause and cheering from the audience.

Again, all too quickly the first half ended, with the superb “Our Prayer” type harmonies on reprise of “Rhapsody In Blue” and us, the audience were left to discuss the highlights of this show.
Mike D'Amico

Nicky Wonder
The second half began with “California Girls”. Brian’s vocals were quite weak on “Dance, Dance, Dance” but he perked up again the for a new number added to the set, “Wendy”. We were really treated tonight with another new addition, “Surfer Moon” which was a little gem. The Stockholm Strings sounded fantastic on this one. Another new number was “Add Some Music” which Brian introduced with “It will blow your mind”. And it did – it sounded amazing, with the flute and drums really standing out. Sunflower is well up there in our top albums, and it was fantastic to hear this song back in the set list.

“Please Let me Wonder” remained in the set, and for the first time we heard the spoken “I Love You”, and again, we were delighted to hear “Your Imagination”.

Next up was another new ear tickler... “Goin’ Home” with Darian Sahanaja on the main vocals and also playing the Moog..... (he loves his geeky toys!) . Paul Von Mertens also did  a mean harmonica solo on this one.

Brian sounded so beautifully soft on “God Only Knows” and he got the standing ovation and rapturous, continuous applause he has had for this song on every show we have been to.

The set still had the great band member shine throughs – Darian on “Darlin’”, Nicky Wonder leading “Pet Sounds”, Scott Bennett singing a really soulful “Sail On Sailor” and Jeff Foskett with his falsetto lead on “Don’t Worry Baby” & “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”.

The encore had the usual favourites and during “Help Me Rhonda”, Scott was all over the stage, banging a tambourine, sharing a mic with each band member and joined Probyn and Brett Simons in a bit of formation dancing.
Brian plays his bass guitar during the encore

The second encore was “Love & Mercy” and we left the RFH with a lovely warm glow.

 The warm glow lasted through to the early hours of the morning, where a post show party for the fans had been organised, and 6 of the band turned up to mix and mingle...... it was past 2am before we saw our beds! Roll on night number 2.
Brian had the opportunity to talk guitars with Nicky Wonder

Minty managed to get Wondermints in the same place at the same time!


GIG : Brian Wilson
Venue :  Symphony Hall, Birmingham
Date : Wednesday 14th September 2011
Cost : £50 (plus extortionate £5.75 booking fee per ticket)
Our Verdict : The Black Country, Brightened

Our third show... and still we were filled with anticipation and excitement. Again, the show kicked off with the ‘Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin’ album from start to finish. Brian, on introducing it, told the audience “If you don’t like it, just tell us and we won’t do it anymore”!  No danger of that happening.

Tonight, our seats were on the left hand side of the auditorium so we were able to really appreciate the Q Strings and the interaction between the band members on this side of the stage. During the encore Probyn Gregory & Scott Bennett were line dancing and bassist Brett Simons was twirling, and on “Fun, Fun, Fun” Paul Von Mertens and Scott were moving in slow motion which was quite effective! It also gave us the opportunity to appreciate how many instruments Probyn Gregory plays... 12 string, electric guitar, banjo, trumpet, French horn, theramin.....
Multi Instrumentalist - Probyn Gregory

Brian was really with it, and appeared to be very comfortable tonight, especially through the Gershwin set. The sound was just brilliant, and highlights were “Summertime”, “The Like In I Love You”, “I Loves You Porgy” (even Brian said “Oh Man” at the end it was that good) and “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” once again got a really rapturous applause. Being able to see the Q Strings we could see just how much they enjoyed playing. The girl at the front playing the cello was really amazing (especially during Heroes & Villains”), and she was even dancing in her seat and singing along to “I Got Rhythm”. In fact, she sang her way through the SET!
Paul Von Mertens

This has been the best performance of the Gershwin set so far.....
Jeff Foskett

The second half of the show started once again with California Girls – this is a real crowd pleaser and sets the tone for the whole of the Greatest Hits set. The set was pretty much the same as the one from Manchester, however “Breakaway” was dropped and “Please Let Me Wonder” was back. During “All Summer Long” Brian was multi-tasking, playing keyboard with one hand the clicking his fingers with the other. He was on fire tonight.
Scott Bennet "Sail On Sailor"

“Your Imagination” was once again the stand out song for us and we caught Brian smiling to himself, so he must have thought it hit the mark too. “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” with Jeff Foskett taking the lead vocal worked very well tonight, and Brian even remarked “Wasn’t that a good one”?

“God Only Knows” got the same reaction as last night....... constant applause for minutes after the last chord had been played. This song is a real hit on the tour.

During the encore, Scott spotted a young girl in the audience dancing in the aisle and he jumped off the stage, danced with her in the aisle and then lifted her onto the stage for a boogie with him during “Surfin’ USA”! She looked so chuffed.
Scott Bennett & Darian Sahanaja

“Love & Mercy” was the final song before Brian and the band left the stage for the last time and the house lights came up. This has been the best show so far, soundwise. You could hear every little tinkle, plink, plonk, strum, beat of a name it. Sound man deserves an award.

Next stop...... London Town for three nights of Fun, Fun, Fun.
We were lucky enough to meet the big man before the show


GIG : Brian Wilson
Venue : Bridgewater Hall, Manchester

Date : Tuesday 13th September 2011
Cost : £50 (no booking fee)
Our Verdict : Brilliant - They Can't Take It Away from Him!

Our second show of the Brian Wilson tour got underway in Manchester, with the ‘Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin’ album performed in its entirety during the first half. The show really came alive during “You Can’t Take That Away From Me” which got thunderous applause. The seats we were in did not reflect the best sound in the auditorium – the big speakers hanging from the ceiling were in line with our row, so we never really got the benefit from them. At times we really could hear the drums and Jeff Foskett’s many guitars (we were in the firing line of Jeff’s amp) but less so, Darian and Scott on the keyboards on the other side of the stage.

The second half opened with “California Girls” which was a great crowd pleaser. Brian asked if we wanted to hear a bit of rock and roll, with Chuck Berry words.... and then launched into “Dance, Dance, Dance”!!!

The set list was slightly different to what we experienced in Glasgow –“ All Summer Long” was in the main set, not in the encore and new songs in tonight’s show were–  “In My Room”, and early in the set was “Catch A Wave”. From Brian’s reaction he thought that it sounded good (it did!) and also included a nice guitar solo from Jeff Foskett. Later in the set we really got a treat, with “Your Imagination” a song  that has not tickled our ears during a live show for a long, long time, and tonight it sounded superb. The drums really sounded great, Paul Von Mertens’ flute shone through and Brian sounded great. We hope this stays in the set. The final encore was “Love & Mercy” to send us on our way with a marshmallow comfort blanket wrapped around us all.
Brett Simons & Probyn Gregory

 “Breakaway” stayed in the set, and tonight it sounded very fine. Not sure if the band did anything different from Glasgow, but Minty thought it sounded much better tonight.

“Pet Sounds” was once again a main highlight, where Nicky Wonder radiated in the limelight once again, and the drum off between Mike D’Amico on drums and Nelson Bragg on percussion was ace.

Darian Sahanaja delivered another great rendition of “Darlin’” and Scott Bennett sang another flawless “Sail On Sailor”.

Another big highlight was “God Only Knows” – not just because Brian sang it perfectly, but from the reaction from the audience......... there was continuous applause and Brian had to sit patiently and wait for it to end...... he was there for a while!!!

In summary of the show, at times Brian’s vocals were hardly audible, and he did look a bit fed up at times. However, he was playing the keyboards much more than we have ever seen him play them before. The crowd were appreciative, and got up and danced on the spot throughout the greatest hits.

So night two for us ended. It was good to hear a slightly different set, and also once again some of the firm favourites.

Next stop...... Birmingham.


GIG : Brian Wilson
Venue : Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow
Date : Sunday 11th September 2011
Cost : £45 plus the booking fee
Our Verdict : Blinding
The Pre-show meet up was in a music bar called The Bay in West Regent Street, and it was here that a few of the fans congregated ahead of the show, including some that had made the journey from Australia and Boston. We got there about an hour after it all kicked off, only to learn that Brian Wilson himself had popped hi s head around the door (with Jeff Foskett and Nelson Bragg). Natch, we had missed the great man. Nelson came back later and mingled with us all.

Once at the Royal Concert Hall, we had the chance to meet more of the fans, and then headed into the auditorium to take our seats. The show started with the complete “Brian Wilson Imagines Gershwin” album, from start to finish allowing only short breaks for appreciative applause. The harmonies were perfect from the very first note, but some of the songs really stood out, including, “Summertime”, “I Loves You Porgy”, which had a lovely sax solo from Paul Mertens. “You Can’t Take That Away From Me” was a really upbeat number, and the band seemed to like playing this one.” I Got Rhythm” had a great rolling drum beat from Mike D’Amico and after “Someone To Watch Over Me”, Brian looked really satisfied – the band had obviously nailed that one. The strings were provided by the Apollo Strings, from Glasgow, directed by Paul Mertens.
Paul Von Mertens

How the time flew..... as the last notes faded, Brian left the stage for the interval.  Minty was pleasantly surprised at how much she enjoyed the 1st half. Not being a big Gershwin fan, nor a big fan of the album, the live presentation of it was actually really awesome.

The second half kicked off with the songs we all know and love, beginning with “California Girls”, “Dance Dance Dance”, “Surfer Girl” and “Please Let Me Wonder” where Jeff Foskett played a rather nice Elvis Presley acoustic guitar. Brian did a bit of “Mary Had A Little Lamb” and The Beeb made a sheep’s “baaaaaa” noise, which cracked Scott up on stage!!!

We heard “Salt Lake City” performed for the first time tonight and that sounded really tight. Scott got everyone up to dance to “Do You Wanna Dance” and after that no-one sat down for the next 60 minutes + ......... even when the tempo slowed down a bit. The set included “Little Girl I Once Knew” which is a song we haven’t heard in the live shows for a while and were delighted it was included tonight. “Breakaway” still needs a bit of work – Minty felt there was something missing from the mix tonight on that song. “God Only Knows” was dedicated to the 9/11 victims

Nicky Wonder plays "Pet Sounds"
The band really shone tonight. Jeff Foskett performed an absolutely lush “Don’t Worry Baby” and “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”, Nicky Wonder shone in the glory of “Pet Sounds” which included a drum off with Nelson Bragg and Mike D’Amico,  Darian Sahanaja astounded us with “Darlin’”and Scott tinkled the ivories whilst singing “Sail On Sailor”. Brian looked quite sombre at times, but every now and then, there would be a bit of a sly smile when he realised just how good the show sounded. Yes, he fluffed a few lines here and there, but on the whole his vocals were good. He played his keyboard on a few occasions (more than we’ve seen him in the past) and for the encore had his SMiLE bass .
There were two encores, the final one beginning with Mike D’Amico beating the drum and then the band stepping on stage, one behind another (like the Madness walk) in time to the drum beat, and then after taking their positions behind their microphones and instruments, launched into “All Summer Long”.

And so our first Brian Wilson concert of 2011 came to an end. Reaction among the fans afterwards was really positive – Great Sound, fantastic harmonies, terrific, brilliant...... you get the drift.

After the show, a bit of a party had been arranged in a bar not far from the venue, with an invite for everyone..... that was a brilliant 3 and a half hours of Brian Wilson/Beach Boys tunes being spun and some live spontaneous acoustic sets from the many muso’s in the room, which included four of Brian’s band (Scott Bennett, Nelson Bragg, Probyn Gregory and Brett Simons), Pugwash, Duglas T. Stewart, Laurence Reid  and The Beeb of course.

Post Show Party
Daniel McGeever started off proceedings, and would have given Darian a run for his money on “Darlin’” and The Beeb did his great harmonica piece on “Forever”.  A few Beatles numbers were included, with Scott delivering some fine vocals. Pugwash did some original material which was good but the people in the bar wanted something more well known – it was Beatles and Beach Boys songs only. You feel if Bruce Springsteen had come in and started playing some of his songs he’d have been told to stop and play more Beatles,!!!!

Nelson & Probyn have a jam

Duglas & Jill
Cocktails flowed all night and it was just past 3am when we finally toddled off back to the hotel....... leaving Nelson &  Probyn (aka The Duracell Bunny) still partying!

Night one over......  another five to go!

GIG: Girl Talk – I Am Woman (Mari Wilson, Barb Jungr, Gwyneth Herbert)
DATE: Sunday 3rd July 2011
VENUE: The Alban Arena, St Albans, Herts, AL1 3LD
COST: £17.50 plus a transaction fee for the whole order
OUR VERDICT: Girls do more than talk


'Girl Talk – I Am Woman’ is the sum of a musical roller coaster ride of love, heart-ache and girl power. It’s a mix of great music and humorous chat from three luscious ladies, Mari Wilson, Barb Jungr and Gwyneth Herbert, with ivory tinkling in accompaniment from Adrian York (with a touch of backing vocal). The girls are all accomplished singers in their own right, and we were not sure what a mix of three would bring together so we strapped ourselves in and got set for what turned out to be a fine evening of music and fun.

The show has some great songs including (and by no means comprehensive), “Venus”, “Under My Thumb”, “Jolene”, “More Than A Woman”, “I’m Every Woman” and “Young Hearts Run Free” and Minty’s guilty pleasure, Charlene’s “I’ve Never Been to Me”. All three girls looked great on stage, in heels, slinky dresses with lashes curled and red lippy on.

A bit of chat (the Girl Talk) in between songs, gave us plenty to chuckle at, and at one point Gwyneth revealed a secret which we won’t spoil by revealing here! Enough to say it was amazing and worked really well in one of the songs!

There was a cover of the B52’s song, “Give Me Back My Man” which had a line about giving the other woman fish and candy in return for her man, which in turn led to a rather humorous bit of banter between the girls about why anyone would want to swap fish for a man!!!

Gwyneth had a solo spot in the first half, and sat perched on the edge of the stage while singing a mournful song about “the other woman” which was actually quite uplifting towards the end as the other woman always ends up lonely. She has a very dusky, evocative voice which we liked a lot.

In the second set, it was Mari and then Barb’s turn in the spotlight each singing their chosen songs, accompanied by Adrian on piano and sang with such passion, emotion wrapping its arms around the audience until the last note faded. We have seen Mari on many occasions and know her great vocal range and ability to make every song she sings sound fab and tonight we were not disappointed.

Until tonight we had never seen Barb perform and we were impressed with the power in her voice. She sounded great.  Both had picked perfect songs for their voices.

It is amazing what sound Girl Talk can deliver, with just 3 vocalists (very fine vocalists at that) and a pianist. Even the acapella songs sounded very powerful, with not only vocals but a bit of the doowop style backing which gave an extra depth to the sounds resonating in our ears.

If Girl Talk comes to a town near you, get along and experience this fantastic show for yourself.

Brian with Adrian and the Girls


GIG: Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band
DATE: Saturday 18th June 2011
VENUE: Liverpool Empire
COST: £60 plus an really outrageous, extortionate booking fee of £11.50
VERDICT: You can take the boy out of Liverpool....

When the tickets for Ringo went on sale, it was clear from the start that any Minty And The Beeb gig review was only gonna be written up by one half of Minty And The Beeb!

Not even a freebie ticket for a McCartney gig would temp Minty into the Beatle world. But for The Beeb it was a chance to see a real live Beatle. So with one ticket in hand we both headed up to Liverpool once again.

After booking into the hotel we headed out to meet up with friends. The Beeb with Janine, Phil and various other good people, while Minty went on a pub crawl with Dave W.

Ringo in his Teddy Boy jacket
Inside the Empire theatre The Beeb caught up with Janine at the opposite side of the hall for a quick chat. On the way back to his seat the great opening notes of “It Don’t Come Easy” opened the homecoming gig for Ringo. The band sounded great, and Ringo looked even better. He was in great shape and nattily dressed in a bit of a Teddy Boy look jacket.

First of the other members of the All Starr band to do his bit was Rick Derringer, who did his old McCoys hit “Hang On Sloopy.” This is an excellent live song that went down well with the audience. Rick then introduced Edgar Winter who  did a blistering “Free Ride.”

Wally Palmer from The Romantics was an unknown artist to the Beeb, but Gary Wright’s “Dreamweaver” was spot on.

Probably the best singer of the night was Richard Page who did Mr Mister.s big hit “Kyrie.”
Rick Derringer (l) and Richard Page (r)

Ringo came back for the nostalgic “The Other Side Of Liverpool,” then got the crowd going silly with “Yellow Submarine.”

When Edgar Winter strapped his keyboard over his neck for “Frankenstein,” it was like watching the film of him from the Old Grey Whistle Test in the 70’s. His hair was as white then of course!

After another round of various members singing, Ringo finished off the proceedings with “Photograph,” “Act Naturally,” “A Little Help From My Friends” and “Give Peace A Chance.”

All the way through the gig, Ringo made references to how much he loved Liverpool. It became a bit of a running joke.

The gig was very enjoyable, but looking back at how much everyone else in the band contributed to the show makes you wonder how much the £70 price tag for the ticket was VFM. WAS a Beatle, even if he never used THAT word all night. A good night out, but it will be a while before the Beeb forks out £70 to see Wally Palmer and Mr Mister again.

Ringo on the drums