Last night saw the final show of this year's Teenage Cancer Trust benefit gigs at the Royal Albert Hall as organised by Who frontman Roger Daltery and featuring the usual bewildering array of talent. News broke last week that The Who (i.e. Daltery and Townshend) were to perform a 'short acoustic set' at Sunday's show- more by luck than judgement I managed to get a couple of tickets and, incredibly, managed to keep both the venue and event secret from Shirley until we were about 50 yards from the Albert Hall. (I'd have got even closer if a tout hadn't bellowed 'TICKETS FOR THE WHO AND DAVID GRAY' as we walked past him.) Here's what happened:-
Holly Rose- 'first album out soon' according to the already annoying compere. Bright red dress and long blond hair, ('lovely' said Shirley; I couldn't possibly comment) a very good singer but with songs a bit lightweight for my less-than-lightweight tastes. No doubt I'll be telling everyone how good she was in a year's time when she's taken over the world.
Sandi Thom- wishes she was a 'punk rocker with flowers in her hair'. Too hippyish for my not-at-all hippyish tastes, but again a very good singer, 'though her voice seemed a bit strident compared to...
Amy McDonald- ...who I thought was much more like it. With her band sounding like a souped-up skiffle group, she wore another red dress and provided a very welcome lift to the evening. The guy down the front who kept trying to give her his phone number was particularly entertaining.
Newton Faulkner- highly touted by many 'though I'd never heard anything by him- finger on the pulse eh? Excellent use of acoustic guitar as percussion ensemble and very funny in between songs, he even managed to get me to applaud a Queen song ( a bizarre solo version of 'Bohemian Rhapsody') which is no mean feat. Well worth seeing again.
David Gray- a favourite of Shirley's and the surprise of the evening for me. His voice sounded superb and, considering how introspective much of his material is, he turned out to be quite a wacky character especially when his microphone stand collapsed during a song at the piano. The guy down the front kept trying to give him his phone number to give to Amy McDonald. Excellent.
Joan Armatrading- appears to have metamorphosed into a heavy metal act since I last saw or heard her (which was admittedly 20-something years ago.) Played a mean guitar and sang very well indeed, 'though the sight of her drummer playing the sax solo during 'Love and Affection' was a bit odd to say the least.
The Who- Pete 'n' Rog go all folky, playing 'Let's See Action'/'Behind Blue Eyes'/'2000 Years' (with Simon Townshend on mandolin)/'Mike Post Theme'/'Won't Get Fooled Again'/'Tea and Theatre' in a manner that I probably won't see again. P.T. held his tongue until somebody called out for 'Baba O'Riley' and then turned the rest of the night into the usual swear-fest. He played brilliantly, but I would say that wouldn't I? The guy down the front forgot all about trying to get his phone number to the lovely Miss McDonald and went berserk instead. Great stuff. Obviously.
There was also a 2-part film about the work of the TCT which had us all blubbing like girlies, and 2 of the lads who had been patients performed a very good but possibly over-long rap number in honour of 2 young friends who sadly didn't survive. A fine evening, worth missing the last train home for- which is just as well because that's what happened to us. Compared to what we'd just seen on film it didn't seem to be that important- but am I the only person that thinks that a supposedly 'civilised' society shouldn't need to rely on charity for the provision of hospital wards?
Just a thought, as they say...