Updated: 28 Feb 2008
BLUE ANGEL ORCHESTRA, HALF MOON, PUTNEY - 17 FEB 2008
To mis-quote Joel Grey:
"Mein damen und mein herres. mesdames et messieurs, ladies and gentlemen.
Comment ca va?
Leave your troubles outside.
So. Life is disappointing?
In here, life is beautiful. The girls are beautiful.
Even the Blue Angel Orchestra is beautiful.
Outside it is windy.
In here, it is so hot.
Every night we have to battle to keep the support band from being in A State of Undress.
So don't worry.
Tonight we may lose the battle."
Wilkommen to the revamped Half Moon. Since we last saw the Strawbs at this venue, it has been redecorated. Some very definite improvements, particularly with regard to making it more wheelchair friendly. Not quite so impressed with the stage lighting though. They've replaced the conventional spot lights, with LED versions. No doubt these are much more environmentally friendly, will save a fortune in electricity, and are probably far more comfortable for the performers than working under the heat generated from the original type, but they are not so good for photography. At the Half Moon, the majority of the spots are mounted on the wall behind the artists, so the musicians are either in complete shadow, or are completely flooded out with light. Either way, the majority of my photographs were pretty poor.
Not sure whether they have changed the sound system there. Don't think clarity was as good as it has been in the past, which could have been due to the fact that the volume was a little louder than was necessary for the size of the place. Anyway, my eardrums have now stopped bleeding, and the majority of those brain cells that were liquified by the vibrations were ones that I don't use that frequently and the nurse says I should make a full recovery.
Yes, it was a really good night, with a really good Witchwood turn-out. I think that nobody had quite anticipated that so many people would turn up. Tables and chairs had been set out, which is a sure sign that not many people were expected, but in the end, there was a large number of people standing. Although the BAO have not played together that many times, they seem to have already amassed quite a reputation for themselves. Very deservedly so.
The evening opened with State of Undress. Their opening number was a bit folky, and I was anticipating that, like many folk bands, their second, third and nth songs would all sound exactly the same, but I was proved very wrong. Their material is very varied, from quite hard rock, through folk to prog, with even a bit of bluegrass banjo picking thrown in. (Now where have I heard of a band like that before?)
Their lead singer is full of energy, with a voice very reminiscent of Hazel O'Connor. Their line up also comprises two guitarists, a drummer, a violinist and a bassist (playing a fretless bass).
All told, we were very impressed.
For the Blue Angel Orchestra, this was their first real gig outside of Deal, and the NPL. I guess that that is quite a milestone, and could well lead on to a full tour, maybe even stateside, maybe even with a DVD. Quite exciting, but there was no sign of nerves. They were as professional as ever.
Interestingly, Dave was wearing the same shirt as when we saw him at Maidenhead the other night. It's the same shirt as appears on the cover of his new album. The shirt has a little bit of glitter, harping back to the glam-rock days, and matches his Gretsch, and even his shoes. I think we are looking at Brand Cousins, probably the image for his up-coming tour.
Photos by Pete Bradley- more of Pete's pix
Although they only played one set, they still managed to fit in six tracks from the Boy in the Sailor Suit, and they played them brilliantly. I would have thought that there were many people there who had not heard the material before, (other than "House Of The Rising Sun"), but everyone seemed to be very impressed, and there was rapturous applause for an encore.
We were all put to shame during the encore by State of Undress. Despite the fact that they had already performed a very active set, and by rights should have been feeling ready for a bit of rest and recuperation, they got up and danced.
CD sales at the end seemed to be going so well that Neil had to pop out to the car to top up stock. All bodes well for many more concerts.
Auf Wiedesehen, Au revoir, Goodnight.
Photos by Alison Brown - more of Ali's pix