Over the past few years, I’ve found it ever harder to motivate myself into watching live music. I don’t know why this is, since I love it, but I guess the years take their toll. However, this week, I’ve managed to immerse myself into an amazingly diverse range of live music, as follows

Aynsley Lister at the Greystones. This guy has chops to spare and there can be few better blues players on the circuit. Fleshed out with bass, drums and some classic hammond & rhodes, he played two superb sets, a highlght being his take on “Purple Rain”.

He offered a  masterclass of slightly jazzy blues/rock (think Robben Ford meets Clapton?) which was controlled, expressive and powerful. I had a chat with him afterwards and he was open & friendly. He also had the most superb guitar tone, some tasty pedals played through a marshall combo.

Mother Of Vinegar at the Drawing Room GSA. This combo consisted of Mark Hadman – desk, effects, synths / Lyn Hodnett – vocalisations, trumpet, cello / Ashley Tuck – penny whistle, drums. They only work sporadically, since Marks is often out of town (currently doing the sound for a Pink Floyd tribute act!) but they put on two shows and asked me to support and play with them.

hey are a pure improv band, with Mark adding homebrew synth and treating the others to reverb & delay. I had a wonderful time and the audience of 15 or so enjoyed themselves.

Deep Tide Quartet at Sheffield Cathedral. DTQ are one of Martin Archer’s many projects and consisted of Martin Archer (woodwind) / Walt Shaw (percussion) / Maja Bugge (cello) here replacing Kim Macari / Laura Cole (piano). The acoustics of the cathedral were perfect for their wonderful blend of instrumentation and considered, thoughtful music.

Archer, as ever, delivered with his usual thought & dexterity and the occaisional theatrical flourish.  The audience of 40 or so at this mid-afternoon recital were spell-bound. You can watch a video I shot.

Friday – Def Leppard at the DSA arena. I was given a pair of tickets for this and so took my old mucker Fredie Satsuma to see his heroes. Support was by Cheap Trick, who were great fun played more covers than was good for them, IMHO. I need to ‘fess up, I’m not a real Leppard fan and haven’t seen them since they played the Broadfield pub in their first incarnation. However, they are the only Sheffield rock band to make it to the top and I have immense respect for what they have achieved over the years. I once jammed with Steve Clarke (Wadsley Scout hut, with my mate Chris Easton, who was a friend of Steves. I met him a few times and sady, saw his drink issue first hand.

A band I was in at the time were managed by Rob Allen, brother of Rick. So, we were among the first to learn about Rick’s tragic accident and went to see him in hospital shortly afterwards. He was sat up and already thinking positively of ways around the problems. Since then, I’ve had no contact at all and have only listened occasionally to them.

Me playing with Steve ClarkeThe set was a massive crowd-pleaser – the sold out venue was awash with ecstatic faces. However, not knowing the songs, they didn’t really ring my bell, a bit formulaic and a bit too similar, however, who gives a f**k what I thought, they stormed the gig with panache and professionalism, not to say some evident delight at the response from their home town. The lighting show was utterly amazing, but I felt the sound let them down, being bottom-heavy and indistinct.

It was a 13,000 sell-out (around 7 million in ticket sales alone!) and despite having been fairly quiet for 20 years, Sheffield clearly loved them and so did I. That said, I was hugely unimpressed with the fact that Phil Collen felt the end to come onstage topless and evidently covered in baby oil to show off his pecs. Yes dear, you have an amazing body for your age, but please, put a t-shirt on, you preening southern git 😉

Saturday – Juxtavoices at Bishops’ House. The “anti-choir” brainchild of Martin Archer came to Bishops to present a new piece. Hard to describe what they do, but it’s a mixture of loosely scripted singing and speaking, accompanied by bells, knocking, door-slamming, handing out bay leaves, drpping tickertape through the floorboards – a real challenge to my artistic sensibilities, but hugely stimulating! Less than ten people were there to experience it.

So, 4 days of music that couldn’t have been more different! I’m fully energised to the joys of live and intend to get out more in 2019!