Mentioned a few days ago, I was seeing Graham Parker last night – and I did. Just some impressions.
The set-list was indeed fascinating:
25 albums over 48 years between 1976 and 2023 so ~250/300 (?) tracks to choose from. 8 from the new album “Last Chance to Learn to Twist” and 4 from the very first 1976 album “Howlin’ Wind” leaving only 8 from the other 23 albums from a set-list of 21 (inc 2 covers). So not surprising not many I would have pre-identified as favourites. And yet … a great set.
Not quite as much energy as the original Rumour days and no Bob Andrews and no brass section, but at 72 he’s still got that voice and a passion for his songs, many of which have political messages, poetic without being angrily in your face (like the current naïve fashion of Sleaford Mods, Benefits and Meryl Streek to name but 3.) And playing a lot more on the guitar than I ever remember – but there were two top pros behind him in those days – Brinsley Schwarz and Martin Belmont. Just Martin remains from The Rumour, 2 years older than GP at 74 and looking his age, pretty frail and unsteady on his feet, coming on stage with a walking stick and sitting on his stool when concentrating on the rhythm backing, but instantly recognisable standing and rocking / leaning into the riffs and solos.
Most of the audience seemed to be from the 70’s too and all seated – contrast with the Public Image gig from a couple of weeks ago – but Graham was in light-hearted banter mode throughout, enjoying his audience. Remember now the link to how Southside Johnny and Bruce Springsteen came into our lives. Not many appeared to recognise him in the bar beforehand and the few that did acknowledge left him in peace with the roadie/tech and the chorus girls – The Ladybugs. Couldn’t resist wishing him luck once the others had gone backstage and sharing the image I’d taken – what I’d taken to be – the last time I saw him in Nov’78, at least 3 memorable ’78 gigs, but I did see him another 3 or 4 times post “Sparks” ’79 to ’82. I know that because shortly after Sylvia and I married and moved to Reading I saw him at The Hexagon but Sylvia couldn’t be there she reminded me. Yet, she did see him too, checking into the Post House Hotel where she was doing a shift on reception that day. Pretty close to “home” in Deepcut, but that’s another story.