ANGIES ALLSORTS LEIGHTON LIVE PART 2

21st May 2014 Leighton Hospital Radio Studio

This is the second (and final) instalment of my Leighton Live Virtual Concerts featuring artists I have had the good fortune to see on stage at least once. There is an exception to this statement but the anomaly will be rectified after May 29th this year. Find out who topped the bill at Wembley the night the pop world was rocked by a tragic loss, which song convinced my fellow concert goers I was fluent in a foreign language, and who allowed me to say a private farewell to a dear friend. So welcome to the show…..

Playlist Leighton Live Part 2

1. CHER with BELIEVE (Birthday Jukebox artist 20/05/46-68 yrs)– ever since I heard Sonny & Cher singing I Got You Babe on a 45rpm record in my Mammy’s collection, I have loved Cher’s voice. Her song Believe with its electronic voice manipulation was both innovative, brilliant and showed how Cher had truly moved with the times. She was one of the artists on a “must-see” list my husband and I made many years ago.
2. KEANE with EVERYBODY’S CHANGING-Tom Chaplin’s soulful voice singing amazing lyrics and the wonderful musicianship in this first Keane album made it stand out. The group’s sound has changed over the years, and not quite to my taste, but the fresh breath taking quality of the Hopes & Fears album will always stay with me.
3. JEAN-MICHEL JARRE with RENDEZ-VOUS 4-mesmerised by a broadcast on BBC2 (I think) of Jarre’s Rendezvous Houston concert in 1986, where he used the skyline of the city as a canvas for a laser light show. Another amazing TV show came from a London Docklands concert. So when the opportunity came to be part of a concert audience at Wembley on May 22nd 2009 I had to be there. The whole experience was as thrilling and joyful as I had hoped.
4. CELINE DION with IF THAT’S WHAT IT TAKES-Celine sang these beautiful lyrics in French during her concert at the MEN Arena. As soon as the music began I recognised the song as one I had with English words, and I knew them all. So I was happily singing along with Celine when I became aware that people around me were intently listening to my voice. When Celine finished I was about to say “sorry if my rotten singing spoiled that for you, but I couldn’t resist joining in”. However before I got the chance I was thanked for my translation, and told how nice it had been to have a fluent French speaker around so that people were able to understand the meaning of the song!!! I didn’t have the heart to tell them otherwise, but quietly chuckled inside.
5. NEIL DIAMOND with CRACKLIN’ ROSIE-I’ve been very lucky to see this wonderful artist five times, and this song is just a lovely cheery tune guaranteed to put a smile on the face,
6. THE SEEKERS with THE CARNIVAL IS OVER (first time concert May 29th 2014-50th anniversary show)-I can’t wait to see this group who were known to both my Mammy AND my Granny. So a bit of a nostalgia fest is in store I should think.
7. DANIEL O’DONNELL with HOW GREAT THOU ART-my first concert was in 2002 when I got a great photo of Daniel and my Mammy after the show. I didn’t get to another O’Donnell concert until May 8th this year. It was absolutely brilliant, with a bit of dancing, personal chat, fun stories and great singing. At the end Daniel finished with How Great Thou Art, the audience rose to their feet as one and joined him in singing, as the lighting turned the ceiling into a star filled sky. As I sang along with this congregation, I felt able to say a private goodbye to a dear friend whose funeral I wasn’t able to attend the next day. I’d had this song at my Mammy’s funeral and my friend Pastor Archie Ferguson had conducted the service. Because I had booked this concert months in advance, and had promised a Leighton patient a copy of a Daniel O’Donnell photo to cheer her up, I wasn’t able to be in Scotland to say farewell to Archie. This finale to a great show gave me that opportunity.
8. FOSTER & ALLEN with A PLACE IN THE CHOIR-I’ve seen this group twice, and at the second show in Glasgow I heard this song for the first time since I was at my Mammy’s knee. Memories.
9. LULU with TO SIR WITH LOVE-there were two big male influences in my formative years, Archie who passed away on May 1st, and my old maths teacher Mr Brown, sadly no longer with us either. This song is for him.
10. TINA TURNER with I DON’T WANNA FIGHT (written by Lulu and her brother Billy Lawrie)-the lyrics in this song are amazing. The full force of its meaning hit home to me when I saw the theatre show Soul Sister, telling the story of Tina Turner’s life through her music. This particular song spoke to me on so many levels. And Tina was another “must-see” artist who proved during her concert she was “Simply the Best”.
11. ACKER BILK with STRANGER ON THE SHORE-when I had the chance to see this wonderful clarinettist perform at Keele University I just had to attend.
Request: 12. COLDPLAY with FIX YOU-my husband and I heard this group at the SECC in Glasgow. However, neither of us realised that there would be two warm-up acts on before Coldplay, and that there would be long intervals between them. Our seats were placed so high up the stand we were near the roof, and the sheer drop to floor level was a bit nauseating for my husband. Although we were seated before the 7.30pm start time we had to leave the auditorium at 9.15pm. When Coldplay eventually took to the stage at 9.30pm I was cooling down the “fevered brow” of Rob, standing outside the seating area. The acoustics were great and the band sounded just as good as on CD, if not better. But they had finished their set & encore by 10.25 and the whole experience left us feeling a bit put off.
13. MARTHA REEVES & THE VANDELLAS with DANCING IN THE STREET-I adore the Motown “Wall of Sound” and never thought I would see such iconic groups live on stage. I was attending a Motown Legend’s show at Wembley Arena on 25th June 2009 when news began filtering through that Michael Jackson had been taken to hospital. I didn’t have a mobile phone with internet connectivity at the time, and didn’t even switch it on at the interval. But all around me there was a palpable change in the mood of the audience, some people insisting they had to go because they were too distraught (I was baffled by this), others crying and many more making frantic calls demanding more news. I was utterly oblivious to any of this and just lapped up the terrific music in the second half. There was reference to little Michael Jackson and his brothers when they recorded on the Motown label, and how thoughts were with them all. So I knew something was amiss in the Jackson world as I left the arena. still buzzing from seeing Martha Reeves belt out her iconic song. As I took the short walk to my hotel I switched on my phone, and it pinged away with texts from my husband telling me the latest news. When I reached the foyer of my hotel, the announcements display was showing the BBC news and the confirmation that Michael Jackson King of Pop was dead.

Every one of these artists has given me enormous pleasure and I thank them all for their talent, energy, enthusiasm and professionalism.

I hope that by sharing some of my musical memories and stories, I’ve helped bring a little joy and sunshine to your day.

Unfortunately my attempt to upload my show to SoundCloud failed this time, but the first part of the show is still there, at https://soundcloud.com/angies_allsorts/leightonlive-part-1-300414. Enjoy!

Last of the Duty Free by Eric Chappell: Regent Theatre Hanley

On Thursday May 22nd 2014 I took my seat amongst a small but appreciative audience to see an old friend come to life again on the stage. As a huge fan of the 1980’s comedy Duty Free I was delighted to see three of the original cast reprise their roles to advance the story some 30 years. Keith Barron (David), Gwen Taylor (Amy) and Neil Stacy (Robert) were joined by Carol Royale who played Linda. She stepped into the role beautifully when Joanna Van Gyseghem was unable to join the stage show due to other work commitments. With the old character of Carlos the waiter being around as well, the cast was dyed so to speak for an evening of spectacular misunderstandings and gentle fun.

The simple stage setting was lovely, bright and cheery with the obvious topical Spanish guitar music occasionally in the background. It certainly transported me away from the grey skies, torrential rain and cool evening air of Stoke, to the balmy climate of the San Remo Hotel in Spain. The props were designed in such a way that you could easily envisage a pathway down to the beach, a balcony or a sun-bathing area.

The play begins with the rendezvous of David Pearce and Linda Cochran at the San Remo for what is hoped to be a clandestine holiday together, although they are in separate rooms, highlighting once again David’s working class and Linda’s upper-middle class backgrounds. To be together Linda is taking advantage of her husband Robert being away on business, whilst David has spun a tall tale to his wife Amy about accompanying a friend on holiday. Both David and Linda are clearly enamoured by one another and the idea of “romantic love”, away from their respective safe, reliable and boring partners. They are photographed together by a young honeymoon couple Jeremy & Clare, who see them as the ideal example of being together for many years!!!! So confusion reigns supreme when Amy Pearce and Robert Cochran arrive unexpectedly to scupper the dream lover’s plans. Added to this are the reactions of Carlos who sees everything but understands nothing (or does he)? This cocktail of chaos, innuendo and misunderstandings ensures some genuine laugh out loud moments.

Keith Barron’s voice has a marvellous resonance to it that means the slightest inflection of a word can give a sentence a whole new meaning. Apart from the shock of white hair he is just the same whilst Gwen Taylor hardly looks a day older than her Duty Free TV days. Her “dead-pan” no nonsense delivery of words was just as devastating and funny as before. Neil Stacy again hardly looks any different and he delivered his lines with that posh panache that can be endearingly funny or incredibly irritating. However the way the script was written there is no way you could be irritated. The character of Robert Cochran seems to be a typical well-to-do Brit with a deep suspicion of “Johnny Foreigner”, and the description of Robert’s work company and the litany of take-overs surrounding it, was absolutely spot on with how business works these days. Eric Chappell’s incisive writing allows you to laugh at things that you may not always laugh at, because he can highlight brilliantly the absurdity of a situation. Carol Royale was terrific as Linda, and her exercise routine on the balcony was reminiscent of a Jane Fonda workout and pure class.

The honeymoon couple Jeremy and Clare who misunderstand the older couples’ situation were great. In fact I couldn’t help but think they were a blend of the four main characters. Jeremy had the vague hen-pecked aura of David and the posh pompous manner of Robert. Clare on the other hand had the girl-like idealised notion about love similar to Linda, but with the dead-pan realistic delivery of Amy. In some ways they could have been the off-spring of them all. Now there’s thought!!!

Touring British Theatres from April 15th until September 6th 2014.

Last of the Duty Free Promotion Poster
Last of the Duty Free Promotion Poster

EUROVISION 2014: Austria Wins in Copenhagen

I watched this year’s competition with no pre-conceived ideas or notions about any of the songs including the UK’s entry. I didn’t participate in viewing the TV show which determined our Eurovision song, or watch either of the two semi-finals that occurred before the finale on Saturday 10th May in Copenhagen. Having boycotted last year’s event because of the Englebert Humperdinck humiliation in 2011, I didn’t even expect to be watching this year either. But my husband Rob had clearly got over his grumpiness from last year when he said ;( to my surprise); it would be essential viewing. And as soon as the Charpentier Te Deum Prelude music began I realised I had missed it, not surprising considering Eurovision has been a near constant companion since I was two years old.

Rob interactively commented on the evening’s proceedings via Twitter, but I didn’t go near my phone at all so there was no external influence. I wanted to just concentrate on the show and see what my “gut instincts” told me. So this is what I thought as I watched & heard some of the 2014 Eurovision entries for the first time.

My Top 5 Countries

Malta: Coming Home by Firelight: UK TV host Graham Norton described this group act as a mix between Mumford & Sons and Gary Barlow!! Well I didn’t get the Gary feel but I certainly understood the Mumford reference. This act had a fresh modern quirky sound, great vocals from the woman pianist and guy lead singer, and some unusual instrumentation taking place (double bass was there). Malta has had a few close calls in winning the contest in the past, and I would have loved to see them succeed. Points 32: Place 23 of 26.

Spain: The familiar face of Ruth Lorenzo (UK X-Factor) sang in her native Spanish and English a self composed song Dancing in the Rain. The power in her vocals was quite something, she looked stunning (if somewhat wet), and I felt that this was the strongest song out of the “big five” in Eurovision. For those who are not aware who the big five are: Germany, France, Italy, Spain & the United Kingdom. These nations put the most money into the Eurovision franchise. Alas, although Molly tried her best for the UK with Children of the Universe, I didn’t think her vocals were anywhere near as strong as Ruth’s or the eventual winner Austria. Points 74: Place 10 of 26

Finland: Something Better by Softengine: A modern, fun and energetic boy-band with the looks, sound and attitude to do well given half a chance. Points 72: Place 11 of 26

Russia: The Tolmachevy Sisters (17 year old twins) sung beautifully Shine, a really nice sounding song with comprehensible lyrics and great harmonies. The setting for their performance was simple and elegant as were their outfits. It was unfortunate that these girls as Russian representatives had to endure the audience hostility toward their home nation. POLITICS SHOULD NOT COME INTO A SONG CONTEST EVER. Unfortunately Eurovision has suffered from partisan voting and political back-slapping for as long as I can remember, although I think it has got more pronounced over the last 20 years. Points 89: Place 7 of 26

Azerbaijan: Start the Fire” by Dilara Kazimova: I thought this quite a sweet and nicely sung piece. Points 33: Place 22 of 26.

Unusual & Quirky

Ukraine started the competition with a man appearing to be running inside a hamster wheel? The Belarus boy-band didn’t want to be anyone’s cheesecake!! Iceland’s entry No Prejudice by Pollaponk made me think of a mix between The Jam and Showaddywaddy (just swap the multi-colour teddy-boy outfits for a more modern cut suit). Montenegro had an ice-skater performing in the background. Greece could start a new Gangnam-style craze by using trampolines. Poland’s scantily-clad “girls” Donatan & Cleo in folk dress definitely put the spice back into girl-power. Slovenia had a flute playing singer, and more than once whistling featured in the proceedings too. The wooden spoon went to France who came last with two points, but I wasn’t surprised. Moustache performed by TWIN TWIN just made me wonder if their performance was a kind of stage manifestation of “a bad trip”. I remember when I was very ill in hospital being weaned off morphine, and the funny (in hindsight) but terrifying visions I had then, and the French entry just made me think of that time.

Netherlands: Calm After the Storm by The Common Linnets: Graham Norton described this as a song in the country & western style and wondered if it had a real place in the competition. He admitted it had “caught-on” though and by the end of the evening it was second with 238 points. I’m not at all surprised about this because country & western style music is hugely popular throughout the world, with lyrics that are very meaningful and a sound that is easy and inoffensive on the ear. The folk-like quality would be very appealing to the more eastern-bloc nations as well. The Dutch entry was sung very well, both vocalists matched each other’s guitar play and the setting was very simple. There was nothing to detract from the quality and beauty of a good song. Listening to it for the first time I was immediately struck by its similarity to the sound and feel of Every Breath You Take by The Police.

Austria: You probably couldn’t get more unusual or quirky with this entry. Drag act Conchita Wurst (real name Tom Neuwirth) won the 59th Eurovision Song Contest with her song Rise Like a Phoenix scoring 290 points. All I knew before Conchita took to the stage was the catch-phrase “the bearded-lady”. When she appeared on stage I gasped and as the song began I couldn’t quite believe my ears. The vocals were stunning, clear as a bell, powerful and heart-felt and with the orchestration background I immediately thought “James Bond movie-theme”. Rise Like a Phoenix had that Bond like essence about it, and I could well imagine Dame Shirley Bassey singing it. The long-limbed slender frame of Conchita Wurst dressed in a figure hugging full-length sequined dress looked amazing, very much reminiscent of the Dame Shirley look. But as I looked at the chiselled dark haired features of Conchita I was reminded of another singer, Freddie Mercury. I always thought that the Queen front man had a very attractive, distinctive look with cheekbones many would pay good money to have. Of course he also had an incredible voice and a wonderful stage presence. So with these associations in my thoughts as I watched Conchita perform, I wasn’t at all surprised that Austria won for the first time in 48 years. After all, James Bond, Dame Shirley Bassey and Freddie Mercury are not bad company to keep.

ANGIES ALLSORTS LEIGHTON LIVE PART 1

30th April 2014 Leighton Hospital Radio Studio

Over the last ten years I have always tried to come up with some good ideas for my radio show (Angie’s Allsorts) at Leighton Hospital in Crewe. Recently I’ve been thinking about all the artists I’ve been fortunate enough to have seen live on stage. This gave me the idea of playing a couple of virtual concerts comprising of artists and songs with special meaning to me. The only condition was that I’d seen them in concert at least once, although several have had repeat attendances. For tonight’s show you will discover which musical has a great significance for me, find out the artist I’ve listened to my whole life and seen over 20 times, and see why one song has me beaming with delight when I hear it. So welcome to the show….

Playlist Leighton Live Part 1

1. DAVID ESSEX with BEAUTIFUL DAY-the intro song for my first David Essex concert at the Victoria Hall Hanley in 2006. I went back for more in 2008, and have seen David act on stage as well.

2. BUCKS FIZZ with MAKING YOUR MIND UP (no. 1 in UK from 12/4-2/5 1981). I was delighted to see three of the four original members perform as The Real Bucks Fizz.

3. JULIAN LLOYD WEBBER with JACKIE’S SONG (announced his retiral this week, last concert at Malvern this Friday (May 2nd). With the sudden announcement on Monday regarding Julian’s unfortunate injury (herniated disc in his neck) forcing his retirement I had to play something from the great man. Thankfully I witnessed a mesmerising performance from Julian in 2009 as a birthday treat.

4. WHITNEY HOUSTON with MILLION DOLLAR BILL-the concert was initially cancelled and rearranged due to her suffering a respiratory tract infection. Although nowhere near her prowess of twenty years ago, she still packed a punch, although with a much huskier, deeper, and jazz like voice. Clearly struggling at times the whole audience joined her in singing Greatest Love of All, and the hairs on the back of my neck literally stood on end. A magical memory.

Joseph & His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat is a musical that resonates throughout my life and is very dear to my heart. My first encounter with the concept of such a coat came from my Mammy’s favourite song from Dolly Parton. I’ve had the great pleasure of seeing Dolly three times so far, and have a ticket for a show in June. She is clearly a woman of deep faith and my most vivid memory from a Dolly concert was during her Backwoods Barbie Tour. At the end of the show the entire audience rose to their feet to sing/clap and rejoice with Dolly singing Jesus & Gravity. Everyone (with or without a faith) were united in the sheer power and joy that Dolly exuded. It was like being at a spiritualist revival, absolutely amazing. But for my Mammy I’m playing tonight…

  1. DOLLY PARTON with COAT OF MANY COLOURS

I knew about Dolly’s coat, and I learned about Joseph’s coat at Sunday school. Then in the summer of 1981 our finale show at Cleland Primary; (before moving to high school); was Joseph & His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. We must have been taught well because to this day I know all the music and most of the dialogue we used, so I was more than able to join Jason Donovan singing

  1. JASON DONOVAN with ANY DREAM WILL DO

Although I’ve seen Jason act on stage in other shows (Priscilla Queen of the Desert and The Sound of Music) I didn’t see his Joseph. But I thoroughly enjoyed the music concert I seen him do in Dec 2008. When I finally did manage to see Joseph on stage, none other than DONNY OSMOND had the lead role. Somehow my honeymoon (Amtrak New York-San Francisco in 1994) coincided with him performing the role in Chicago! I was only passing through the city for one night but my husband and I managed to get tickets. I’ve heard Donny sing alongside his brothers & sister since then.

7. THE OSMONDS with LET ME IN-the boys appearance on the Andy Williams US TV show made them stars.

8. ANDY WILLIAMS with CAN’T TAKE MY EYES OFF YOU-a favourite artist of my Granny & Mammy so when I seen the poster outside the Royal Albert Hall I had to get a ticket.

9. OLIVIA NEWTON JOHN with PHYSICAL-toured last year for the first time in twenty years. I managed to get the cheapest ticket available, standing in the gallery. I was given the impression that not much else was available, and the higher prices were eye watering anyway. On the night I was told by the usherette that I’d been re-allocated to a better seat. Having climbed the heights of the RAH I trudged all the way down again, to find myself in one of the boxes close to the stage. These seats were the most expensive in the house, and judging by the clientele in the next booth; (champagne on ice, canapés, finger food buffet, cutlery, china plate settings, and designer clothing); I could well believe it. But I scrub up quite well and had dressed smartly so I didn’t feel out of place. Anyway, one of my personal traditions is to take a little soft teddy to a show when I can. Having over 70 of them, it’s a fun and harmless trait that makes me smile. For Olivia I had taken my Sooty glove puppet, and he showed his prowess at PE when Olivia sang Physical. Sooty never missed a beat and was happily bopping along when I spotted the thunderous glare from the people in the next booth. That picture in my head is priceless and I just grin inanely at the thought, they must have felt that barmy squatters had invaded the palace gardens. A good friend of Olivia is of course Cliff Richard.

10. CLIFF RICHARD with SOME PEOPLE– I’ve managed to see him four times but I was a late comer to his concerts, my first being in 2006. At this show I realised how much of Cliff’s repertoire I knew, but he performed songs from his “Nashville” album Something’s Goin’ On, which I’d never heard before. These songs were utterly astounding to me particularly “For Life”, the words, emotion, setting etc. all spoke to me in a way few songs ever had. Another spell-binding concert moment freeze-framed in my mind. Some People still remains one of my favourite Cliff songs. I managed to see The Shadows on stage during their reunion tour with Cliff.

11. THE SHADOWS with WONDERFUL LAND (no.1 in UK from 16/3-10/5 1962)

12.   SYDNEY DEVINE MEDLEY with TINY BUBBLES, PEARLY SHELLS, STAND BESIDE ME-I’ve grew up listening to this artist since I was in a pram. Due to hearing Sydney records for all these years, I’ve amassed a wide knowledge of songs, lyrics & artists from several genres of music, easy listening, country, rock n’ roll etc. I may never have known otherwise. I’m eternally grateful for this musical grounding, but Sydney Devine in Scotland is usually either loved or loathed in equal measure-a bit like marmite. But to me he is Absolutely Devine and I will see him for the 24th time in November (all being well, considering he is 74 with almost 60 years in professional showbiz behind him).

This song was played at the end of our request show: 13. JOE McCELDREY with THE CLIMB

I’ve attended the X-Factor shows four times and Joe’s was the last one in 2010. To me the show couldn’t be beaten, because I was seated in the middle of the front row at Wembley Arena!!!!

Every one of these artists has given me enormous pleasure and I thank them all for their talent, energy, enthusiasm and professionalism.

If you would like to hear my playlist (with no chatter, this blog is my voice) you will find it at

https://soundcloud.com/angies_allsorts/leightonlive-part-1-300414