Thursday, 7 November 2019

Steve Hackett at Sheffield City Hall, 5 November 2019

There's nothing quite like (a) Sheffield, (b) a Steve Hackett concert, and (c) a Steve Hackett concert in Sheffield.  Yes, two of my favourite things coming together!

He may be nearly 70, but he still does 22 dates in a UK tour, selling out most of the venues and playing for 3 hours a night.  What a guy.  

This tour plays songs from his latest solo album At the Edge of Light, plus the whole of Selling England by the Pound, and some of Spectral Mornings, celebrating its 40th anniversary.

These are the songs we grew up with, and we can still hear them live, as good and fresh and thrilling as ever.  Aren't we lucky?

So.  It was a cold a slightly damp night in Sheffield.  I had a spare ticket to sell, and was berating the fact that I was very very unlikely to find a lone Genesis fan passing at that precise moment and who was at a loose end and looking for something to do that evening.  

About ten seconds later, that person walked up to me and bought my spare ticket (and loved the show, apparently!).

I was pleased to find I was sitting right in front of this very important member of the band...

Guesting at this show were Amanda Lehmann and Steve's brother John Hackett, plus new drummer Craig Blundell and Jonas Reingold on bass (yep, no Nick Beggs).  

Here's Steve with Amanda and Jonas.

Steve's low-fuss, relaxed style relies on only one guitar for the entire show.

Rob Townsend, multitasking.

Nad's entrance in a typically understated outfit prompted enquiries from the audience as to whether he'd stolen the wallpaper from an Indian restaurant to make his coat.

Nad ignored them.

Nad's first language is Swedish, which makes for some quirkily unusual phrasing in all the quintessentially English pastoral soundscape frolicking of the Genesis songs.  However, his delivery goes hand in hand with the exaggeratedly mannered art of his performance (which is no criticism at all).  

And wowsers, he absolutely bossed The Battle of Epping Forest, never my favourite song (until now).  Kudos to Nad for totally owning those camp impersonations of East End gangsters. Nad does ned.

Jonas's bass goes kaput. But they carry on.

A somewhat bizarre interruption when some bloke insisted the band sign his album.  Note - no bouncers in Sheffield.

And we're off again - Los Endos.

And there we are.  Keyboardist Roger King (third from left) absolutely nailed Firth of Fifth, so all was just about forgiven for him completely dropping his intro when he played Glasgow last time. Don't even think about doing that in Edinburgh, Roger.

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Thursday, 29 August 2019

Great Women Artists - Helene Schjerfbeck

There's a really interesting short video here about the current exhibition at the Royal Academy in London of work by Finnish artist Helene Schjerfbeck.

She's an artist who is little known outside her native Scandinavia, but here's a short crash course, which you can also read here HERE, plus a interesting article on her portraits HERE.  Do go and see the show - women are grossly underrepresented in art history, so it is always good to reappraise and acknowledge their contribution.

Self portrait, 1895

She was a childhood prodigy who overcame family tragedy
Schjerfbeck’s talent was recognised when she was just 11 years old and she began attending art school. Her family could only afford to educate one of their children (her brother Magnus), but luckily her tutors believed in her potential and she was offered a full scholarship. When she was just 13, her father died from tuberculosis and her family fell further into poverty. But Schjerfbeck continued to receive funding, and by the age of 18, she was studying art in Paris on a trip paid for by the Finnish Government. 

She was independent and a risk taker Schjerfbeck lived through some of the most seismic shifts in modern art, from Impressionism to Surrealism. But she was never one to follow the crowd and forged her own path. She drew inspiration everywhere from Old Master paintings to contemporary fashion magazines – and in the process she developed her own distinctive, expressive style. Her work defies categorisation and she is often seen as a “painter’s painter” - someone who constantly experimented with techniques, and was willing to push and take risks rather than repeat past successes. 

She is little known outside her home country...…but Schjerfbeck’s fame may have spread further, were it not for the outbreak of war. In 1914, she was the only Finnish woman artist who took part in the prestigious Baltic Exhibition in Malmo, Sweden. The event was designed to show off the industry, art and culture of Sweden, Denmark, Germany and Russia but was interrupted when Germany and Russia entered the First World War on opposite sides of the conflict. Some 25 years later, Schjerfbeck’s work was due to be displayed in the USA for the first time, but the outbreak of the Second World War led to the exhibition being cancelled. 

She travelled widely throughout Europe Schjerfbeck lived with limited mobility after a childhood fall that broke her hip. Despite the barriers this would have posed to her, she travelled widely during her younger years, making trips to Vienna, St Petersburg, Florence, Paris and St Ives. While in England, her work was exhibited in a gallery on Piccadilly in London, close to where the Royal Academy of Arts still stands today. Schjerfbeck’s travels helped shape her unique style and she drew on everything she saw in Europe once back home in rural Finland. Although she wasn’t able to travel later in life, she never stopped painting. When she died in 1946 she had devoted more than 70 years to her art. 

She was never afraid to take a long, hard look in the mirror Schjerfbeck created self-portraits throughout her life but in her final two years, she drew and painted her own face more than 20 times, seemingly fascinated with the physical and psychological process of ageing. As she commented in a letter to a friend, “this way the model is always available, although it isn’t always pleasant to see oneself.” These later works show a move towards radically abstracted figuration that foreshadowed the portraiture of Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud and Frank Auerbach.

Circus Girl 1916

View of St Ives 1887

Self Portrait 1912

Sunday, 7 July 2019

Yes at PNC Amphitheater, Holmdel, 16 June 2019

Yay!  Just up from Atlantic City, and along the road from my favourite service area ever...'s the PNC Bank Arts Center at Holmdel.  Yay!!!

So, it's third time lucky with the camera.  Here we go... Brace!  Brace!!

Tempus Fugit.


Rhythm of Love.  Worst Yes song ever.  Discuss.

Jon had this stick thing which he shook during Gates of Delirium as theatrical prop percussion.

And that really is all, folks.