Tag Archives: #music

A Lifetime’s Love of Neil Diamond

Neil Diamond celebrates his 78th birthday today (24th January 2019) and I first heard his gorgeous vocals aged four. It was instant love at first listen when my Dad brought home a double 33rpm album of Neil’s called “Diamonds”. A Google search has informed me this album was released in 1974 in the Netherlands, which fits in with my merchant seaman Dad bringing it back whilst on leave, and my feeling Diamond’s music has been virtually ever present in my life. Until I was an adult, this album was my only exposure to Neil’s music other than seeing his film The Jazz Singer on TV.

                                  Diamonds Album Cover

But what an album “Diamonds” is, from that first fun happy sounding song “Cracklin’ Rosie” to the last gut wrenching heartbreaker “Morningside”. Between these came every style of music genre, from the rock inspired “Cherry Cherry”, the storytelling ballad about “Mr Bojangles”, the country sounding “Kentucky Woman”, spiritual “Holly Holy” and the beautiful emotive love song “Play Me”. I may have been very young, but I recognised the lyrical genius of Neil Diamond immediately. His music, words and delivery evoked in me just about every emotion possible. I could be singing and dancing one minute, playing hard rock air guitar the next, listening attentively mesmerised by the poetic quality of his lyrics, and breaking my heart sobbing uncontrollably to finish.  “Diamonds” was an emotional rollercoaster.

It wasn’t until I was at university and met the man who became my husband that I found another Neil devotee. Looking at Rob’s music collection I knew he had good taste when I spotted Abba, at a time when it wasn’t fashionable to admit being a fan of theirs. Spotting several Neil Diamond albums that were all new to me, I realised Rob was a keeper. Although we both loved Neil’s music, neither of us had seen him in concert. So we shared the experience together, going to our first show in 1999 followed by several more, until the final one in 2017 celebrating Neil’s 50th anniversary.

That first concert showcased “The Movie Album: As Time Goes By” and I was enthralled listening and seeing Neil perform. His rendition of “Unchained Melody” (a favourite of mine from The Righteous Brothers) was the best I’d ever heard sung, as it’s not always easy to make out the words. I told Neil the same thing in a note I wrote in my hotel the next morning, using the stationary in the room. I posted it to the venue and thought nothing more about it. A few months later I was surprised to receive a thank you card from Neil, which I have to this day.

                                        Neil Notecard

For posterity my Neil Diamond Concert Portfolio details 7 concerts spanning 18 years:

First Ever Show:  Wembley Arena London Tuesday March 9th 1999 at 8pm

  1. Earls Court London Saturday 27th July 2002 8pm
  2. Ipswich Football Stadium Thursday 26th May 2005 8pm
  3. NIA Birmingham Tuesday 10th June 2008 8pm (Home Before Dark tour)
  4. LG Arena (formerly NEC) Birmingham Tuesday 28th June 2011 8pm
  5. Genting Arena (formerly LG Arena) Birmingham Saturday 11th July 2015 8pm (no Rob)
  6. Manchester Arena (formerly MEN Arena) Sunday 1st October 2017 (50th Anniversary tour)

What I’ve always admired about Neil is that he performs his concerts solo without reliance on warm up acts. Diamond certainly has enough in his repertoire to perform several shows without repeating songs. It’s incredibly gruelling on the artist though, and I’ve been mindful these last few years that Neil and other singers I enjoy (Sydney Devine & Dolly Parton) are all on the wrong side of 70 now. Each of them give their all on stage, and I’ve increasingly thought “will this be the last concert”.

Watching Diamond’s 2017 show there were two or three fleeting moments when I thought Neil’s age maybe catching up with him. Strangely at the same moment an old work colleague’s name popped into my head for the first time in years. Her mother had Parkinson’s disease and she had been to a Billy Graham meeting in Glasgow, where I was singing in the choir. Within minutes of Graham coming to the stage, my colleague’s mum muttered “he has Parkinson’s same as me”. My colleague laughingly said “mum sees it everywhere now, the tell-tale signs, which she then described”. It wasn’t until many years later it was revealed Billy Graham had been diagnosed with the condition. Therefore Neil’s announcement of his retirement from touring, after a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease somehow didn’t shock me the way it should have. Remembering that wonderful final concert, and those odd feelings, I realised I’d had a weird kind of premonition. Every fan only wants Neil to be healthy and happy and his well-being is of paramount importance, so although the 50th anniversary tour ended prematurely his disappointed fans understood.

Neil Diamond’s anniversary show in Manchester was one of the first big events at the re-opened Arena following a terrorist attack.  Neil performed five songs I’d never heard before, so huge is Diamond’s back catalogue of work. I had to turn to Google again, to discover the song titles and which album they came from. One song in particular, Neil dedicated to the memory of those killed in the MEN bombing after the Ariana Grande concert of May 22nd 2017. The song “Dry Your Eyes” from the 1976 “Beautiful Noise” album was very emotional to hear, the lyrics sounding as if they had been written especially for that night. When Neil announced that he would be making a donation to the victims’ fund (I think it was the evenings merchandise revenue), it seemed the entire audience rose to their feet and applauded for a long time. Then almost total silence in that vast arena as Neil sang that emotive song. It’s a part of the evening I’ll never forget.

Neil’s setlist for my final concert was: In My Lifetime-In My Lifetime compilation; Cherry, Cherry; You Got To Me; Solitary Man; Love on the Rocks; September Morn; Play Me; Song Sung Blue; Beautiful Noise; Jungletime-Beautiful Noise album; Dry Your Eyes- Beautiful Noise album; He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother; Forever In Blue Jeans; You Don’t Bring Me Flowers; Red Red Wine; I’m A Believer; Brooklyn Roads; Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon; Be; Lonely Looking Sky; Skybird; Jazz Time-September Morn album; Crunchy Granola Suite; Done Too SoonTap Root Manuscript album; Holly Holy; I Am…I Said. Encore: Sweet Caroline; Cracklin’ Rosie; Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show.

The show was a celebration of Neil’s musicality and lyricism, the songs at times distinctly spiritual or poetic in nature. I relate to his music because it touches me deep within and puts into words everyone’s need for expression. Neil’s voice is that soothing balm in times of strife, a source of advice and inspiration and that friend who vocalises your inner thoughts with complete understanding.

To the boy who walked on “Brooklyn Roads” with his imaginary friend “Shilo”,  who grew to be a “Solitary Man” writing “Beautiful Noise” knowing to “Leave A Little Room For God”, my message is “I’m A Believer” and always will be full of “Delirious Love” “If You Know What I Mean”.  Happy Birthday Neil Diamond you are a real gem of a guy, it’s been a delight knowing your music.

                                              Concert Tops
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ANGIES ALLSORTS SHOW 220 RADIO LEIGHTON 14TH NOVEMBER 2018

7.30-9.30pm: Part 1-56m 46s Song 1-11; Part 2-57m Song 12-23

When Radio Leighton began officially broadcasting to patients on November 14th 1968 Hugo Montenegro topped the UK music charts with The Good The Bad and the Ugly. In football, England was half way through its tenure as World Champions, Manchester United were the  European Cup holders and Crewe Alex had division three league status, having gained promotion in the summer. The UK was between Eurovision wins, Prince Charles celebrated his twentieth birthday as a university student, neighbour BBC Radio Stoke was only an 8 month old baby and man had yet to walk on the moon.

To celebrate Radio Leighton’s golden birthday   I’d like to take you on a nostalgic journey playing music and looking back at some of the news and sports headlines from over the years. Welcome to my Angies Allsorts News/Sports & Music Archive, and listen out for my Golden Team references throughout the show.

  1. ALSO SPRACH ZARATHUSTRA (GT 1: 2001 A Space Odyssey film 1968 release)

Elvis Presley used this tune to herald the start of his concerts after he returned to the singing stage following his 68 Comeback Special. Here’s a song from that TV broadcast

  1. ELVIS PRESLEY with IF I CAN DREAM (GT2: Elvis 68 Comeback Special)

Evocative lyrics sung at a time of racial conflict and inequality in the USA when Elvis’s nation was embroiled in the Vietnam War. Back here the Race Equality Act was invoked and the Dagenham Women walked out demanding equal pay rights. Considering the tensions in our society today and seeing people still fighting for equal pay NOT A LOT SEEMS TO HAVE CHANGED.  But something that did change for Elvis in 68 was he became a father for the first and only time, when his daughter was born on February 1st. Thanks to modern technology our Golden Team member Lisa Marie sings alongside her Dad:

Rarity Record of the Week: 3. ELVIS PRESLEY/LISA-MARIE PRESLEY with WHERE NO ONE STANDS ALONE (GT3: Lisa-Marie born Feb 1st 1968)

The loneliest people over Christmas 68 were the crew of Apollo 8 who became the first humans to see the dark side of the moon and to witness how beautiful and fragile planet Earth was. Just 7 months after Apollo 8 paved the way to the moon Neil Armstrong took his “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” when Apollo 11 went to/ Eagle landed on the moon in July 69

  1. CLIFF RICHARD with FROM A DISTANCE (GT4: Apollo 8 over Xmas 68 became the first manned space flight to leave low earth orbit and travel to the moon)

Extra audio from Stewart: Countdown & “Houston The Eagle Has Landed” announcement

Another man taking a giant leap that summer was James Bond when he got married to Tracy in the film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Who can forget George Lazenby in his only Bond film being widowed in a drive-by shooting on the way to his honeymoon?

  1. LOUIS ARMSTRONG with WE HAVE ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD

I mentioned James Bond because Daniel Craig the 6th actor to play the role was born in Chester on March 2nd 1968. So Daniel is another Golden Team member/ GT5. Somehow I don’t think his parents would have dreamed their son would grow up to play such an iconic film role, or be called upon as Bond to escort the Queen to the 2012 Olympics.

I’m reminded when I think of the 2012 London Olympics of the many events that have brought a tear to the eyes, such as military conflicts which have been seen on a wide scale throughout the worlds regions. In the sporting world football has had its share of tragedy since 1968 with fans perishing on the terraces of Ibrox in 71, Hillsborough in 89 and Bradford & Heysel in 85, and of course the Munich massacre of Israeli athletes in 72 deeply affected the Olympics that year. Our vulnerability has been particularly exposed when Mother Nature has vented her wrath through volcanoes, earthquakes, famine, flash floods and wild fires. Human error was behind disasters such as the Piper Alpha fire in 88, the Exonn Valdez in 89 and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. But it has been human malice that has caused the most devastation with bombings during the troubles, Lockerbie in 88, the Manchester Ariana Grande concert and Westminster Bridge both in 2017, the World Trade Centre in 2001 and the London bombings in July 2005 the day after the city was awarded the Olympics. A small moving tribute to that dark time was included in the opening ceremony in 2012 and I think the hymn is a fitting memorial in acknowledgement to all those lost:

  1. EMELIE SANDE with ABIDE WITH ME

Of course it’s sad to think of those no longer with us but I think it helps to remember the joy and love those people brought into our lives. Celebrity alumni of the November 14th birthday club certainly live on through their achievements and include artist Claude Monet born 1840, US composer Aaron Copeland 1900, first Prime Minister of India Nehru 1889, discoverer of insulin Frederick Banting in 1891, and former first lady Mamie Eisenhower 1896.

There are tears of joy as well as sadness and during 2012 I didn’t half well up at times. Never in decades of watching gymnastics or the Tour de France did I think I’d witness Great Britain achieve the ultimate success in these activities. Bradley Wiggins became the first British winner of the Tour in 2012, since then Chris Froome is a four time winner and Geraint Thomas won the 2018 Tour de France. British Gymnastics Olympic success that began in 2012 has rolled on unabated to my utter delight. Other happy British sporting moments I recall from Leighton’s 50 years include boxing world champions Jim Watt, Alan Minter, Barry McGuigan, Frank Bruno. Olympic success for Torvill & Dean in 84 and a young rower Steve Redgrave won his first Olympic gold in rowing that summer. He went on to win 4 more golds in the following 4 summer games. I think Sir Steve’s 5 Golds from 5 games surpasses Sir Chris Hoy’s 6 Golds from 3 games for cycling. Lewis Hamilton won his fifth Formula One Drivers Championship this year. In 1985 Boris Becker become the first unseeded and youngest player to win the men’s singles at Wimbledon. And Dennis Taylor won the World Snooker Championship 18-17 frames with the last ball in the last frame, defeating Steve Davis. A good song to summarise the effort and emotion behind all these sporting achievements is:

  1. WHITNEY HOUSTON with ONE MOMENT IN TIME

The birth of a baby is a special moment in time and Radio Leighton shares its special day with French cyclist Bernard Hinault 64, former US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice 64, the Prince of Wales 70, British actor Russell Tovey 37 and Apollo 13 astronaut Fred Haise 85 and reporter Katy Kay 54.

Through medical innovation parenthood became a greater possibility in 1978 when the first test-tube baby Louise Brown was born. The lyrics from my next song I feel sums up parent love of a child very well.

  1. ANASTACIA with YOU’LL NEVER BE ALONE (GT6: Anastacia 50 on September 17th)

Another famous birth of 1978 changed the land of soap drama forever when the Ewing’s and Barnes entered our homes in the American soap Dallas:

  1. DALLAS THEME TUNE

Yes JR, Bobby, Miss Ellie & Co became household celebrities and The Who Shot JR saga made the national evening news headlines. Until JR and Southfork came along most people would have probably associated the city of Dallas with the assassination of John F Kennedy on November 22nd 1963. He was elected the 35th President of the United States in 1960 and was the youngest to reach that office. He later declared that man would go to the moon by the end of the Sixties. Alas, Kennedy never lived to see his vision fulfilled and the days of “Camelot” with Jack and Jackie ended. Another American couple who captured the world’s imagination were Danny & Sandy from the 1978 film Grease:

  1. JOHN TRAVOLTA & OLIVIA NEWTON JOHN with YOU’RE THE ONE THAT I WANT

40 years after Grease, it wasn’t Danny & Sandy making headlines but Prince Harry and Meaghan Markle when they married at St George’s Chapel Windsor. Here is a song from the wedding ceremony:

  1. THE KINGDOM CHOIR with STAND BY ME

Another “Get Together” that got people talking in 2018 was the impromptu appearance of Jason Donovan alongside Kylie Minogue during Proms in the Park. There little dance on the stage had the crowd ecstatic. You know both Jason and Kylie turned 50 this year, as did the musical Joseph:

Linking Lyrics Theme GOLDEN 50 YEAR OLDS (all show)/ Artist of the Week JASON DONOVAN

  1. JASON DONOVAN & KYLIE MINOGUE with ESPECIALLY FOR YOU (GT7 Kylie born May 28th& GT8 Jason Donovan born June 1st 68 both 50) [Note: I said Especially For You the third best selling single of 1988, it was actually fourth. I forgot Kylie’s I Should Be So Lucky was third, Yazz & The Plastic Population with The Only Way Is Up was second and Cliff Richard with Mistletoe & Wine was the top seller of 1988]
  2. JASON DONOVAN with ANY DREAM WILL DO (GT9: Joseph & His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat performed in its embryonic form Easter 68 thus aged 50)

Extra audio from Stewart-HRL birthday greeting from Alan Harding & the wedding song for Scott & Charlene Robinson in Neighbours. Almost 19.6 million UK viewers tuned in to see this TV soap spectacle in 1988.

  1. ANGRY ANDERSON with SUDDENLY

The Marine Broadcasting Offences Bill 1967 changed radio history. The act was brought into being in the hope of killing off the pirate radio broadcasts that competed with the BBC services by playing pop music for a younger generation. The BBC decided to bring in Radio 1 to play pop music, whilst Radio 2 would update the Light Programme, Radio 3 would be similar to the Third Programme and Radio 4 the Home Service. Eight regional BBC centres would also be established including a Radio Stoke-on-Trent which began transmissions in March 1968 (GT10). The 1970 elected Conservative government of Heath allowed the concept of commercial radio to begin, and so the transformation of our national radio service was complete.

  1. RAY STEVENS with TURN YOU RADIO ON

Back in 67/68 when radio was being revolutionised an unknown horse that would become a household name began his racing career. As a two year-old Red Rum took to the flat circuit at Aintree in 1967, the day before Foinavon became the luckiest Grand National winner at 100-1 after a melee at the 23rd fence. After a year of flat racing Red Rum took to the fences instead and became a champion steeplechaser becoming the most prolific horse to run the Grand National. Rummy won in 1973, 74 & 77 coming second in 75 & 76. Here’s a little known fact, in retirement Red Rum was the first horse ever ridden by comedian Lee Mack who turned 50 on 4th August (GT11). Lee became a stable boy as a teenager because he had the idea of becoming a jockey.  A song that came out a few months before Red Rum’s first National victory was:

  1. THE OSMONDS with CRAZY HORSES

One of the most heart warming stories from the Grand National is that of Aldaniti and Bob Champion in 1981. The jockey had been given months to live after being diagnosed with cancer and Aldaniti had been treated for tendon trouble and a fractured hock bone.  By winning the event in 81 having overcome such life threatening hurdles proved that both man and beast had triumphed over the odds. Britain that year won the Eurovision Song Contest with:

  1. BUCKS FIZZ with MAKING YOUR MIND UP

1981 saw a young 19 year old by the name of Lady Diana Spencer making her mind up to accept the marriage proposal of Prince Charles. The happy couple married in St Paul’s Cathedral on July 29th 1981. The birth of two sons Prince William in 1982 and Prince harry in 1984 seemed to complete the fairytale story. Sadly their marriage did not survive and they divorced. On August 31st 1997 Diana Princess of Wales was tragically killed in a traffic accident, and the world mourned her loss.

  1. PAUL ANKA with DIANA

Extra audio from Stewart-Anthea & Shirley singing Happy Birthday

A hit in 1957 the year the Treaty of Rome established the Common Market (EEC, EU) with members Belgium, France, West Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and The Netherlands. The UK came to the party late becoming a member on the 1st January 1973. Unlike Radio Leighton there will be no 50th birthday celebration of EU membership for the UK as the nation is on the brink of withdrawal.

  1. EUROPE with THE FINAL COUNTDOWN

I’ve heard concern over Brexit with regard to the Eurovision Song Contest and football’s European Cup participation. An odd priority in my opinion, but fear not, because we took part in these long before 1973. In 1968 the year Radio Leighton was conceived, Man Utd became European Champions and Cliff Richard with Congratulations came second in Eurovision just one point behind Spain’s entry La La La sung by Massiel. No one probably heard of the Spanish contestant again. At least when Scot Fitzgerald sang Go for the UK in 1988 and suffered the indignity of losing by a point to Switzerland, the young winner Celine Dion became a world-wide sensation.

  1. SCOT FITZGERALD with GO

Extra audio from Stewart-the 1988 UK Eurovision song & Lets Party from Bob

Celine turned 50 on March 30th and sings a song with lyrics we can all relate to in today’s unsettling and turbulent world:

  1. CELINE DION with A WORLD TO BELIEVE IN (GT12: Celine 50 on March 30th)

Extra audio from Stewart-birthday greetings from Leighton Hospital Chief Executive Tracy Bullock

It’s time for me to sign off now and I hope you’ve enjoyed my nostalgic trip down memory lane celebrating some of the highs and lows over Radio Leighton’s 50 years of broadcasting. My Allsorts show tonight began with a 1968 film tune and I end with one here

  1. BARBARA STREISAND with DON’T RAIN ON MY PARADE (GT13: Funny Girl 1968 film release)

Good night and Congratulations Hospital Radio Leighton for 50 wonderful years.

  23. CLIFF RICHARD with CONGRATULATIONS (GT14: UK Eurovision entry 50 years   ago!)

Sydney “Absolutely” Devine In Motherwell

Cleland born entertainer Sydney Devine positively “rocked” Motherwell’s Civic Centre with an electric 90 minute performance on Friday 20th April. Syd’s I’m Back tour returned him to the bosom of his ain folk for the first time in almost twenty years.

The audience, suitably warmed up by the first half acts, always a comedian, a singer and Sydney’s band Legend, awaited with eager anticipation the stage presence of Devine. The arrival of Sydney onto the stage is always heralded by the strains of Also Sprach Zarathustra. As this faded the concert began with “Stop” part of a high octane frenetic paced 10 minute 10 song medley (at least, I lost count).

What followed was a glorious repertoire of songs, the number so numerous because of the longevity of Sydney’s career. He was a boy entertainer long before he left school and turned professional aged 15, and he is still going strong at 78! A nod to his boyhood stardom came from “If I Were A Blackbird” where Syd both sang and unleashed his wonderful bird song whistling, the thing that got him first noticed. Yodelling came into play as well, along with the “Elvis” style knee trembling. In style there has always been an Elvis type quality about Devine’s delivery, not surprising when he sang The King’s songs as The Tartan Rocker, touring in Europe with The White Heather Group back in the 50s & 60s. At one performance Elvis Presley himself was in the building witnessing the Scotsman on stage.

Songs of different tempo and style were included in the playlist,  with several characters acknowledged “Maggie”, “Kelly”, “Laura”, “Honky Tonk Angels” and “Fraulein’” to name a few, whilst “Nobody’s Child” was sung as a tribute to The Alexander Brothers. Other titles I recall being performed include-Save The Last Dance For Me; Eighteen Yellow Roses; A Room Full Of Roses; Cryin’ Time; Make The World Go Away; I Fall To Pieces; Married By The Bible; Pretty Woman; Can’t Help Falling In Love; Crystal Chandeliers and Tiny Bubbles. Audience participation always ensures bubbles float over a part of the auditorium when Tiny Bubbles makes an appearance! Oddly one of Sydney’s three stalwart songs didn’t make the cut and that was “Legend In My Time”.

Knowing the mournful quality of many songs that Sydney performs, I was aware of the carefully crafted playlist created for the show. Not surprising considering the heartache the Devine family have endured recently, when Sydney and his wife Shirley unexpectedly lost their eldest son Gary aged 58 to sepsis.  About an hour into the show Syd slowed the pace with a dedication section, reading out greetings and singing requested songs not already covered. This is where Devine showed his real professionalism, bravely covering most of two songs “The Lightning Express” and “Long Black Veil”, but wisely avoiding the saddest parts. He also used this quieter period to acknowledge his band members and their loyalty to him, particularly Dave on electric guitar 36 years, Dougie slide guitar 42 years and Bill Garden on keyboards 46 years service.

Returning to the show again, Syd began a very moving and emotionally charged section for me. I don’t recall him ever singing “How Great Thou Art” (Mammy favourite hymn) and “The Old Rugged Cross” (Granny favourite hymn) together before. It was like the two most influential women in my life, both long gone, were with me enjoying the show. These were followed by “The Answer To Everything” which always gets me. When Syd sings “do you love me, really love me, as I love you” and the audience scream YES, it’s a spiritual experience. Performer and audience share one heart together in those moments, and it never fails to catch my breath. During “The Answer To Everything” Sydney found himself unexpectedly sharing the stage, accompanied by a fan wearing a red cowboy hat. Whilst the Civic staff had been rigidly enforcing their “no photo” policy, this guy had managed to evade their eye, launch himself from his seat and hurtle onto the stage. He threw his arm around Syd, kissed him and was happy to mouth a few words of the song with his idol. Devine looked a bit flustered by this but continued the show seamlessly, although I don’t think the cowboy seen the show finale, which is always “Scotland Forever”.

The Motherwell crowd enjoyed one and a half hours of sheer unadulterated entertainment, provided by a 78 year old man who is a performer to his fingertips. His vocal range (3 octaves I think) is still there, deep resonances to high heady notes are still knocked out very pleasantly with gutsy conviction. Proof that Sydney Devine is truly a “Legend In My Time” came to me in Glasgow the day before the concert. Walking around a large department store carrying an overnight bag, I was asked three times if I was visiting. Each time I replied I was up to see a Sydney Devine show in Motherwell. Each woman (from three generations) though not professing to being a fan, gave me a big smile and named a different song-“Eighteen Yellow Roses”, “Crystal Chandeliers” and “Tiny Bubbles”. How many other entertainers can say they have made that kind of indelible imprint on the nations psyche?

When the concert finished a throng of people awaited Sydney, all keen to have a word, get a photo or autograph. Every one of them would be met and greeted with humble thanks, charm and good grace. I had a last bus to catch so couldn’t stay, but I managed to grab a photo before leaving.  It was a wonderful show, thanks for the memories Sydney, we love you.

Sydney Devine Waits To Meet Fans. Image credit abmj

HOSPITAL RADIO LEIGHTON OLYMPIC SHOW BROADCAST 8TH AUGUST 2012

Four years ago I fulfilled my London 2012 Olympic volunteering duties at Old Trafford. The next day I was doing my regular shift for hospital radio, gathering requests and airing my “Angie’s Allsorts” music show. This is my very own dedicated tribute to the Olympic Games ideal, with Olympic year hits, Olympic sports trivia and musical references to every decade of the modern day games since the 1900s.

Playlist

ELBOW with FIRST STEPS (2012 BBC theme tune- 2010s)

Request (outside usual time slot): BUDDY HOLLY with IT DOESN’T MATTER ANYMORE (1950s)

ELVIS PRESLEY with IT’S NOW OR NEVER (best seller of 1960-Rome games- 1960s)

Linking Lyrics Artist of the Week: ENYA

ENYA with ANYWHERE IS (2000s)

ENYA with ON MY WAY HOME (2000s)

Rarity Record of the Week:

OLYMPIA BORONAT with LES HEUGENOT from Meerbeer (recorded 1908-London’s 1st games)

CELINE DION with MY HEART WILL GO ON (reference to 1912 and Titanic sinking-1990s)

AL JOLESON with I’M SITTING ON TOP OF THE WORLD (1920s- big star in 1910s as well)

BANGLES with ETERNAL FLAME (for the Olympic torch/flame-1980s)

GEORGE FORMBY with BICEPS, MUSCLE & BRAWN (1930s)

RONALD BINGE with ELIZABETHAN SERENADE (1950s)

MONSERRAT CABALLE/FREDDIE MERCURY with BARCELONA (city of 1992 games-1990s)

RAY EBERLE/GLENN MILLER with AT LAST (1940s)

THE NEW SEEKERS with I’D LIKE TO TEACH THE WORLD TO SING (best seller 1972-Munich)

GARY BARLOW/COMMONWEALTH SINGERS with SING (2012-London’s 3rd games)

Duration: 1 hr 18m 27s

If you would like to listen to my show you can stream it from here:

https://soundcloud.com/angies_allsorts/radio-leighton-olympics-from-2012

Summer Festival at Radio Leighton

ANGIES ALLSORTS SHOW 163 RADIO LEIGHTON 15th JULY 2015
7.37-8.37pm: Duration 1hr 1m 17s

My show includes a musical reference related to a major news item, three birthday artists spanning a wide range of music genres, a new song from Neil Diamond’s latest album Melody Road and a current top ten hit from the UK charts.

Playlist

  1. ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN with THE GAME

Linking Lyrics Theme: Pluto (news)

  1. KIDS LEARNING TUBE (audio only) with DWARF PLANET SONG

Rarity Record of the Week: 3. TORNADOS with TRIP TO PLUTO

The New Horizons mission successfully made a fly past Pluto at lunchtime on Tuesday 14th July. The close encounter with the dwarf planet came within about 8000 miles of Pluto’s surface as New Horizons hurtled past at approximately 31,000 mph. The first message sent back from the craft took 4 hrs 25 mins to traverse 4.7 billion kilometres of space. The arrival of this data indicated that the New Horizons craft had survived the encounter intact. Other mission data will take even longer to arrive as New Horizons continues its journey away from Pluto. New Horizons is the fastest craft to have left the Earth’s orbit and has travelled the furthest distance across space.

Birthday: Professor DAME JOCELYN BELL BURNELL astronomer & astrophysicist 72

  1. DIDO with HERE WITH ME
  2. NEIL DIAMOND with (OOO) DO I WANNA BE YOURS (from new album Melody Road)
  3. NEIL DIAMOND with YOU GOT TO ME
  4. ABBA with LAY ALL YOUR LOVE ON ME

Birthday: TREVOR HORN 66 record producer-co-writer, vocalist, percussionist for…

  1. BUGGLES with VIDEO KILLED THE RADIO STAR

Birthday: LINDA RONSTADT 69 country singer

  1. LINDA RONSTADT with BLUE BAYOU

Birthday: JULIAN BREAM 82 guitarist & lute player

  1. JULIAN BREAM with BACH’S LUTE SUITE no.1
  2. BIRDY with WINGS (UK chart no. 8 on 12th July 2015)

You can listen to the show here: https://soundcloud.com/angies_allsorts/summer-festival-radio-leighton

Neil Diamond World Tour 2015

On July 11th 2015 I eagerly travelled to Birmingham for a Neil Diamond concert in the Genting Arena. Formerly called the LG Arena the venue has a surprisingly spacious feel to it with a hint of intimacy as well. I had a “cheap seat” but with a great view, being situated at the opposite end of the arena directly in line with the stage, not too high up and midpoint between the video screens. The stage was simply set with the silhouette of a huge diamond back drop from which Neil emerged to huge applause at 8.15pm. For the next 2 hours and ten minutes the crowd were entertained by a set that spanned virtually fifty years of song writing. As always Neil Diamond highlighted what a consummate performer he is and it was a huge privilege as always to hear his distinct dulcet tones sounding as strong and emotive as ever.

Beginning with the cheery I’m A Believer Neil moved effortlessly into the more heart rending Love on the Rocks and Hello Again. Pretty Amazing Grace followed which I’ve always thought is a stunning piece of work with the feel of a ball-room dance tune woven within it. Then came the full repertoire of Diamond’s songs full of storytelling about growing up, falling and feeling love, loneliness and heartache. Lyrics that are poetic yet easily understood with rhythms that pulsate with emotions of joy, sorrow, fun and empathy. The poet revels himself in Play Meyou are the sun, I am the moon, you are the words, I am the tune, play me”. When Neil sang back to back Shilo and Brooklyn Roads he recalled the story of his upbringing and having an imaginary friend called Shilo. This was a wonderful way for the couple to my left side and the lady to my right side to be introduced to Neil, as none of them had ever seen him perform before. That intimate simple story-telling immediately gave the audience a better affinity with Neil and in this concert the feeling was elevated further. The backdrop diamond suddenly became a movie screen as images of Neil growing up flickered from home movies his father had made. I marvelled at the technology we now have that probably made possible the digitisation of those irreplaceable fragile movie reels.

Three songs from the latest album Melody Road were performed around the mid-point of the show. It was fascinating to hear how The Art of Love took Neil over five years to write the 150 words that took only three minutes to sing. I got the distinct feeling that the album was the fruition of songs that Diamond had been trying to express for some time, but hadn’t been in the right frame of mind to put down before. This album has a different feel to me as it seems to find Neil in a more melancholic, introspective mood, yet there remains an identifiable “Diamondesque” element within several songs. (OOO) Do I Wanna Be Yours makes me think of an epic Greek poem with a languid yet gorgeous harmonic melody, and to hear it live on a warm summer’s evening was wonderful, the song just washed over you. Later there was a reference to the legendary “Hot August Night” concerts of the 1970s when the rousing tribal Soolaimon and the pseudo religious Holly Holy rocked the auditorium. I Am…I Said concluded the main part of the show and Neil returned a couple of minutes later to thunderous applause for his encore. By this point I think just about everyone was on their feet to bop to Cracklin’Rosie and Sweet Caroline. Brother Love kept the groove going whilst Heartlight quietened the mood before the life-affirming sound of hope that is America. The British and American flags appeared on the video screens and an eagle soared above the stage thanks to the diamond back drop screen capabilities. A wonderful (though some might say corny) image to finish a vintage show, and as Neil departed the stage I couldn’t help wonder if this would be his swan song concert tour. I hope not, but what an incredible legacy of music he has shared with his fans.

 Song List of 29 (not in strict order): Main Show– I’m A Believer; Love On The Rocks; Hello Again; Pretty Amazing Grace; Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon; The Best Part of Me; Kentucky Woman; You Got To Me; Beautiful Noise; Play Me; If You Know What I Mean; Red, Red Wine; Solitary Man; Brooklyn Roads; Shilo; Nothing But A Heartache; (OOO) Do I Wanna Be Yours; The Art of Love; Song Sung Blue; Forever In Blue Jeans; Cherry, Cherry; Soolaimon; Holly Holy; I Am… I Said. Encore-Cracklin’ Rosie; Sweet Caroline; Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show; Heartlight; America.

Neil Diamond World Tour program. Image credit abmj
Neil Diamond World Tour program. Image credit abmj

Cinema “Live Event” TAKE THAT Concert 19th June 2015

The three remaining members of Take That Gary, Mark and Howard put on an incredible two hour set from the O2 Arena in London. As it was our first ever Take That concert my husband and I didn’t quite know what to expect, as we took our seats at a local cinema surrounded by obvious die-hard fans. Although we only knew a handful of songs performed by the group we were sucked into an amazingly joyful musical experience, and came out with huge grins on our faces and our hearts gladdened in some way. I’ve been to several concerts and this one ranks as one of the best seen, so well done Take That and thank you for entertaining us so beautifully.

As instructed we took our seats around 8pm for the scheduled 8.20pm start, although there possibly may have been a warm-up act just finishing, as the audience was let into the auditorium. For twenty minutes before the group appeared on stage at 8.40pm there was some odd action going on around the stage, bicycles, a man running inside a wheel and raincoat clad walkers! There may have been some significance to it all perhaps related to album themes or such like, but to Take That novices it went over our heads I’m afraid. It was enough to give us a sense of the atmosphere from London and to realise the view seen would be like sitting on stage with the group. We saw the guys preparing to get on stage and then to a huge cheer from everyone they emerged onto the concert platform. From that point on it was two hours of none stop action, dance, brilliant harmonics, musical genius and sheer showmanship. Absolutely fantastic and a complete surprise!

When Take That were first around both my husband and I knew their sound because it was everywhere in the early nineties. They were number one in the charts with Everything Changes the day we married on April 16th 1994. Both of us would say we didn’t dislike them but we weren’t a particularly big fan either. Then when they reformed and released Patience I suddenly sat up and took notice. Until then I hadn’t realised just how good Gary Barlow’s voice was, so I paid a bit more attention to their new stuff.

During the concert I recognised five of their newer songs, Greatest Day, Patience, Rule the World, Shine and The Flood. It was distinctly noticeable with The Flood that the group was a trio now, because Robbie Williams had joined his four former band-members to release The Flood for the charts. Although the three on stage did a nice job on the vocals neither Mark or Howard had a strong enough voice to fill in Robbie’s shoes. But it was the only time during the whole show I was aware of only three voices, as the five oldest songs were performed with aplomb with dance moves to match. The die-hard fans around us matched the guys with synchronised moves as Relight My Fire, Never Forget, Pray and Could It Ne Magic rang out.

Many of the songs performed came from the group’s latest album III with a sprinkling of lesser known ones from various other albums. We were on the internet over the weekend trying to identify them and largely succeeded I’m pleased to say. From The Circus album we particularly enjoyed The Garden and Up All Night. I played both of these in my hospital radio show a few days after the concert. The Garden is simply beautiful with lyrics that highlight the maturity of the band and Up All Night is a quirky happy song with a country-and-western vibe to it. My husband remarked “the key-changes in this are remarkable. God they are good musicians”. For another song the comment was “the harmonics they are singing are incredible”. Praise indeed from a man who can be hard to please from a musical perspective. Affirmation from their Progress album had connotations of electro-pop music from Kraftwerk and the clever use of the ELO intro going into Shine didn’t go unnoticed either. But much of the unexpected joy came from the III album songs which were completely unknown to us. Catchy tunes that just drew you in, where you couldn’t help yourself tap the toes drum the fingers and bop the head. We just smiled at these and muttered “downloads and album buys a must”. Stand out songs performed included These Days, Let In The Sun, Portrait, I Like It and Get Ready For It. I was also particularly struck by a lovely ballad sung by Gary which I’ve worked out could be Flaws. Gary dressed in black sang from the mid-point of the stage whilst the others in black skin-tight trousers and white vest danced on the flanks. Mark and Howard’s contemporary dance with the faintest whiff of ballet in places complemented the plaintive vocals of Gary simply and beautifully. I know the guys in the past did choreographed moves but this was a more mature and raw performance, highlighting again the growth of the group from boys to men. Their vocals, musical awareness and stage presence were a joy to behold.

An abiding memory for me will be Rule the World which closed the main part of the show (followed by encore Shine and Never Forget). The stage was bathed in light but the main arena was in darkness except for hundreds of small lights waved in unison from audience members. As I looked around the scene was replicated in the cinema as those wonderful lyrics enveloped me. It was a beautiful moment I will cherish.

Me with Robbie & Jason (missing members!). Image credit abmj
Me with Robbie & Jason (missing members!). Image credit abmj