October 2017: a month of iconic bands

October 2017 was a challenge work-wise, being the first full month of our autumn semester, with lots of things going on, and many demands on my time, but I managed to see some iconic musicians and bands in between all the work.

The month started with seeing Neil Diamond doing his 50th anniversary tour in Manchester (at the Manchester Arena). He was in great voice, and he included plenty of his hits in the programme. Our seats were at the very top and back, and I felt very uncomfortable, so I stood at the back for most of the show. But it was an excellent show, and worth the price of the tickets.

About a week later I was lucky enough to see the Barron Knights playing at the Crewe Lyceum. This is a band who have been performing since 1959, so for almost all my life. They played a selection of their own material, some covers, and some of their ‘spoof’ songs (including the one featuring ‘There’s a Dentist in Birmingham’ to the tune of ‘By the Rivers of Babylon’.) I had an excellent seat, and really enjoyed the show.

However, the real ‘piece de resistance’ was managing to see Focus play at the 100 Club in London. It involved a bit of diary reorganisation so I could get there, but that is one benefit of my current status! I first heard Focus on Radio North Sea International in the 1970s, and have been listening to them ever since. The 100 Club is essentially a chasm, with a stage, and a few chairs, and because I was near the front of the queue I got a good seat on the left of the stage. They played most of the numbers I remember, starting with Focus No. 1, and later they played Hocus Pocus and Sylvia. They were simply amazing, and still have three of the original line-up, including Thijs van Leer on keyboard, flute and vocals. The icing on the cake was that I managed to get Angela a ticket to see a play that she was interested in, on the same night. So all in all it was a great evening, and totally unexpected given the logistical challenge of getting there.

The fourth and final band I saw in October was Dr Hook, featuring Dennis Locorriere (a founder member and the ‘voice’ that everyone remembers from their songs). They played in Hanley’s Victoria Hall, and included then songs I remember (Sylvia’s Mother, When You’re In Love With A Beautiful Woman, A Little Bit More, etc.) It was a great night, with an enthusiastic and knowledgeable audience, who happily sang along with all the hits.

So, October 2017 was an amazing month for bands, which had to be documented. I note in conclusion that Cliff Richard is touring next year, but the ticket price is such that we won’t be going. Considering that Focus charged £20, we are not paying 2 x£80 for indifferent seats to hear him!

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