BOBBY CALDWELL

TOKYO BILLBOARD 1st show

22nd September 2019

Bobby Caldwell (v,k,g)
Mark McMillen (k,bv)
Andrew Neu (Sax, bv)
Carlyle Barriteau (g,bv)
Roberto Vally (b,bv)
Tony Moore (d)

 

Commonly known in Japan as Mr AOR, Bobby Caldwell has an enduring popularity in this country that I have never quite understood. Yes he’s a good singer-songwriter and yes he’s had Platinum and Gold records here but they were over thirty-five years ago and having never seen him before, I was curious on the way to the gig to discover exactly what makes his fans so loyal and why he can sell out six shows in Tokyo and another two sold out in Osaka. Incidentally, he does that twice a year.

 

So I take my seat and look around the audience. Predictably the majority are middle-aged ladies but Bobby has his fair share of male fans too. Everyone has smiles on their faces. The lights dim, the band take their positions and launch into Special To Me; Track 1 Side 1 of his self-titled debut album from 1978. Immediately I feel like the outsider in the room because every single person there is swaying or/and singing along except me. I know the song of course but I didn’t know the appeal or the atmosphere it creates when Bobby sings it live. Suddenly I had my answer as to the loyalty and constant bookings in Japan; the man gives a first class, radiant performance.

 

Having had my big question answered, I could sit back and enjoy the show; except I couldn’t because the show draws you in. It’s not long before I find myself shuffling my feet and mouthing a few lyrics as he runs through a selection of songs that stir the memory banks and delight your senses. His band are magnificent. Each song was perfectly played, the collective talents of the highly-in-demand ensemble knowing how to check their egos and let the music come through. Normally I wouldn’t single out any musical moment because it is the combination of the all that creates the vibe but I have to mention Andrew Neu’s two minute sax solo as he wandered though the audience; it was probably the finest I have seen in my forty-five years of concert going.

 

Encoring with At Last bought a small tear to my eye. A personal favourite song of mine since I was a child, Bobby and his band did it justice and this performance of it can sit happily side-by-side with the versions by Glenn Miller and the great Etta James. Departing the stage, the lights went up and the lady next to me, obviously seeing my wide-eyed astonishment at what I had just witnessed asked ‘Is that your first time to see him?’ ‘Yes’ I replied, ‘How about you?’ She smiled and said ‘Over three hundred’.

 

That’s loyalty for you. Now I’m not sure if I could ever see any band three hundred times but I can tell you this, the next time Bobby’s back in town, I will be there.

 

Set List

Special To Me

Stay With Me

All Or Nothing At All

Heart Of Mine

Words

Loving You

Miami Nights

What You Won’t Do For Love

Carrie Anne (You’ll Never Know)

Encore

At Last

MORGAN FISHER

MORGAN'S SALON, TOKYOI

30th November 2019

50 Years: Thank you Mott the Hoople Concert

Growing up in England in the 1970s, my No. 1 band of the Glam Rock era was Mott the Hoople. I write that so you know that not only do I come at this review from a writer’s point of view but also as a big fan (I flew to the UK for the reunion in 2009) so please forgive any ravings although I will apply critical distance where I can. Having said that, there are things to rave about in this show and not just for big Mott fans; there’s plenty for the first time visitor to Morgan’s Salon – the venue, his home – and the most casual music lover to enjoy.

 

The scene is a suburban house in Daitabashi, ten minutes from Tokyo’s neon metropolis of Shinjuku. Odd Italian art-deco buildings intermingle with small traditional Japanese, shops, restaurants and bars and you couldn’t imagine a more non-gig place. After walking down an innocuous street, you enter the house, remove your shoes, are greeted warmly after which you are directed to the front room which is both the venue and Morgan’s studio. With forty chairs and an array of vintage equipment on display, the atmosphere is homely and inviting. Taking a seat, there is idle chatter between the guests which is suddenly broken by a blast from a kazoo, the man himself entering the room with a broad grin and hearty greeting: Morgan’s ready to play and we are eager to listen

 

He sits down amongst a bank of equipment, most of it pre-digital and introduces his accompaniment, an early 1970s Maestro Rhythm King drum machine, a piece of equipment that he informs us was favoured by Sly Stone and as used on Family Affair. Once programmed for the first song (correct button pressed and speed (tempo) knob turned), Morgan is off through a succession of Mott favourites, singing, playing and adjusting settings as he goes. He does a creditable vocal and his playing is delightful. Sometimes the gear goes wrong but it doesn’t faze him, happily stopping the show and cracking gags whilst he fixes it – it’s all part of the charm and whilst the Rhythm King has limited capabilities, Morgan and it are old friends and they pair well; the shuffle beat to Mott’s classic Golden Age of Rock ‘n’ Roll is inspired and for this fan, the highlight of the night. The evening is split over two sets, namely sides 1 and 2 of the ‘The Hoople’ album (for which we are witnessing the complete live debut) with a smattering of other classics; a slideshow of Mott cuttings from vintage Rock newspapers acts as a backdrop. Morgan also plays host during the interval serving Hereford Cider, tea and Crisps to all. After the break it’s back to the music and at the end of the show, he sees every one of us out the door personally.

 

I can’t stress how enjoyable this night was. Morgan puts these gigs on every month with different themes and I highly recommend everybody to go. After all, where else in the world can you see a Rock great play in his front room? We are not worthy.

 

www.morgan-fisher.com

 

1st Set

Saturday Gigs

Lounge Lizard
All The Way From Memphis
I Wish I Was Your Mother

THE HOOPLE SIDE A:
The Golden Age Of Rock 'N' Roll

Marionette

Alice

Crash Street Kidds

2nd Set

Rest in Peace

Sweet Jane

Honaloochie Boogie

THE HOOPLE SIDE B:

Born Late ‘58

Trudi's Song

Pearl 'N' Roy (England)

Through The Looking Glass

Roll Away The Stone

Encore

All The Young Dudes