A cold evening in February, what to do? Well, I could have stayed in, ironed a shirt for Monday and made the kids packed lunches OR, I could attend a gig at the Exeter Phoenix Arts Centre where a classic band of immense proportions were playing, it didn’t take me long to make the decision….
Jefferson Airplane formed in 1965, the group’s classic line-up would eventually evolve into Paul Kantner, Marty Balin, Grace Slick, Jorma Kaukonen, Spencer Dryden and Jack Casady. In 1966, the Airplane was spotlighted in an article in Newsweek Magazine (American publication) regarding the booming San Francisco music scene, which contributed to a mass convergence of young people into the city and the birth of the hippie culture, which ultimately led to the ‘Summer of Love’ in 1967.
50 years after Paul Kantner formed the band, a number of lineup changes, reforms and various high profile stories along the way, we were about to see Jefferson Starship take to the stage and transport us back to the heady days of ‘free love’, experimentation and the birth of the Hippie movement.
Opening up the musical proceedings were ‘Auburn’, a British group led by Liz Lenten, they played a set consisting of country. blues and Americana which really hit the spot on a cold, miserable February evening. The set consisted of 6 tracks, spanning their 2 long players (‘Indian Summer’ and more recently ‘Nashville’) and a couple of tracks lifted from their forthcoming album ‘Mixed Feelings’ which is due to land in May/June of 2015.
Liz’s voice echoed the stars of the Nashville country music scene and the stripped back band produced a balanced platform for her to launch herself, winning many hearts with this solid performance.
I caught up with Liz after their set and as well as showing off her ‘Nashville’ shirt, she kindly provided me with a copy of her ’Nashville’ album, expect a review in the next few days.
Wood For The Trees
New Years Day
Too Far From Home
Having notched up 3000+ live shows, Jamie Thyer and his band (The Worried Men) took to the stage to deliver a 30 minute display of high quality rhythm & blues.
Having shared stages with the likes of Robert Cray, Peter Green and Johnny Winter in the past, you’d expect a quality, tight performance from Jamie, he delivered just that!
He strutted from one side of the stage to the other, oozing charisma and displaying a real ‘presence’ that seems to have bypassed the younger generation of acts being churned out these days. He was playing his classic ‘Flying V’ guitar and after checking out his guitar collection on his website (and feeling very jealous), you can see that Jamie really is an aficionado when it comes to 6 (and 12) stringed instrument.
His ability to make that guitar sing was astounding, some might refer to it as ’show-boating’, I refer to it as a skill! To be able to play that effortlessly takes HOURS of practise, every day, make no mistake folks, you don’t just pick up a guitar and play that well after a couple of weeks. Jamie demonstrated that the hours of study that he has put in over the many years that he’s been playing certainly pays off!
He played a range of his own material as well as a couple of covers, one that stuck in my head was ‘Like a Hurricane’ by Neil Young, rather than taking the song and playing it like for like, he was able to add his magical twist to it, very much making it his own (isn’t that one of Simon Cowell’s favourite phrases?)
Jamie has been referred to as “ONE OF THE BEST LIVING AXEMEN THAT BRITAIN HAS TO OFFER” and we couldn’t agree more!
The crowd loved his energy and enthusiasm and I look forward to the next time I get to see him play, check his website for future live dates and get yourselves down there to support him, you can thank me later!
Mean Town Blues
I Just Want to Make Love to You
The Thrill is Gone
Rolling & Tumbling
It Wasn’t Me
Like a Hurricaine
Mystery Train/Sabre Dance
The stage was prepped and it wasn’t long until Paul Kantner led his band onto the stage to play to a packed room, said their hello’s and burst straight into 'Ride the Tiger'.
I read a recent live review and it said that Paul Kantner was absent from the lineup on the night of the show, despite him clearly not being 100% on form, he did a great job of keeping the rhythm section alive with his collection of Rickenbacker guitars that were changed over after every track. There was a brief moment of turmoil when his wireless radio pack failed, this was soon remedied by the ever present, very hard working guitar technician who was soon on hand with a replacement unit and all was back on track again.
Cathy Richardson filled the boots of Grace Slick (lead vocalist), having been onboard the Starship for 7 years, she bought her amazing soulful voice to the party and really injected some passion into the music.
David Freiberg played guitar and accompanied Cathy on vocals, displaying that despite his age, he was still able to hit the high notes!
Jude Gold played some pretty damned amazing ear bending guitar solos, along with Chris Smith on keys and with Donny Baldwin on drums, the band was complete.
They played a great spread of music from throughout their colourful career, highlights for me included ‘Volunteers’ which took me back to the Woodstock video/documentary and ‘White Rabbit’ which, despite not being on the setlist, proved to be a firm favourite with the audience.
Midway through the set, Paul Kantner decided to start playing a track that wasn’t in the running order, this prompted Cathy Richardson to tear up her setlist and jokingly (I think…) say to Paul that they may as well carry on without one!
Paul left the stage about midway through the performance, whether he needed a sit down or a break, I’m not sure. When he returned, he seemed much more ‘with it’ and managed to play and provided backing vocals to a number of tracks from there on in. Cathy joked and said that Paul had “Gone to the City”, to which a heckler replied “which city is that”, prompting an expected but very amusing “Well, it was no city that we F*****g well built!”
To see Paul and David on stage after so many years of being in the band was great, I stuck around afterwards and met David and thanked him for playing at such an intimate venue, allowing people to get up close and personal and I was hoping that Paul may have been available for a quick chat but by this time, he was cosied up in the green room with his slippers on and mug of Horlicks, ready to soothe him into a nice slumber.
All in all, a perfect end to what would have been a quiet, cold and wet Sunday night in Exeter.
I did manage to get hold of a setlist after the show and I have deciphered some of it, there are some names of tracks that I cannot work out, if anyone has any ideas, please let me know and when it is complete, I’ll fire it over to the setlist website so everyone can share it.
For a fun read, go check out the Wikipedia page of the band, towards the bottom you’ll see a timeline of past members, it looks more like a map of the London Underground!
Ride The Tiger
She Has Funny Cars
Sketches of China
Count On Me
Jude's version of Embryonic
Everything (Macrodots song)
Have You Seen The Saucers
Fast Buck Freddie
Eat Starch Mom
Somebody To Love
Review by Steve Muscutt
Photography by Julian Baird www.julianbaird.com