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

NICK LOWE

TOKYO BILLBOARDI

13th August 2019 1st show

Nick Lowe once told me that the test of a great song is if it works on an acoustic guitar or not. Well tonight, he stood on the stage with just and acoustic and performed twenty songs, each one of which has been recorded in various ways by various artists and each one worked perfectly. Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to a performance by a man who really knows the art of songwriting and delivery.

 

Opening the show with People Change with its wise words of advice, Nick is at ease and looks more relaxed in this situation than he did in the Rockpile days. Gone is the towering bass playing pub-rocker that used to sing aggressively into the mic; he has been replaced by a smiling, gentle voiced man who you immediately warm to. As the evening flows gracefully, he chats with the audience, introduces a new song or two, receives a huge cheer when he mentions the band he’s currently playing with and that he’s hoping to bring to Billboard next year (Los Straitjackets) and laughs and grins when he makes a mistake during his signature song. It doesn’t faze him; Nick’s a professional and he knows sometimes he makes mistakes. Keep calm and carry on.

 

His guitar playing – particularly his strumming – is a lesson for any budding performer in that it’s simple and delivers what is needed for the song; there’s no need to show-off when the song doesn’t call for it and each song sung is so heartfelt you sometimes wonder just how personal they are. His cover of Dionne Warwick’s Heartbreaker (written by The Bee Gees) is worth noting for the reasons mentioned above; the simple arrangement, strumming and vocal delivery combine to make a beautiful alternative to the more familiar recordings of it.

 

As much as I would love to see Nick in full flight Rock ‘n’ Roll again with Los Straitjackets (and I will be there!), I must say this Nick is sublime. He’s your favourite uncle, your storytelling neighbor, a fireside raconteur. He used to be the man you wanted to go to the pub with but now a cup of tea and the Sunday Papers feel more attractive. He has matured, his classic songs have lasted and taken on a new life acoustically but his new ones are just as good if not better. Nick may have changed, I’ve certainly changed, you’ve more than likely changed but that’s not a bad thing.

 

People change… People change…

 

Set List

People Change

Stoplight Roses

Love Starvation

Long Limbed Girl

Raging Eyes

What’s Shakin’ On The Hill

Lay It On Me Baby

The Merry Mood I’m In

Without Love

Heartbreaker

Somebody Cares For Me

Tokyo Bay

Blue On Blue

I Live On A Battlefield

Far Celestial Shore

Cruel To Be Kind

Heart

House For Sale

Trombone

I Knew The Bride When She Used To Rock ‘n’ Roll