In the middle of a bit of a gig fest at the moment... 3 gigs in 4 days! I finish off with Joe Bonamassa at Folkestone tonight but here are my reviews of the first two...
Supertramp - The O2
This was billed at the 70 - 10 All the Hits and More tour. 70 - 10? For those that don't know Supertramp formed in 1970 so this year is their 40th anniversary. It has been some years since they toured and to be frank I thought that Rick Davies had had enough and was happy to put his feet up in retirement living out his days in the USA. Luckily not... some context... Supertramp were a hugely important band for me, in 1974 I heard Dreamer on the radio and was like - who/what was that? They were one of the first bands I discovered for myself and got into rather than others leading me to them if you see what I mean. Crime of the Century was a stunning album I thought, and still do. The opening harmonica of School through to the dying chords of the title track it is just brilliant. However in my friends I was really the only 'tramp fan so I never got to see them live when younger, BBC sight and sound etc. appearances excepted. Roger Hodgeson (the other founder member who made it to the big times with the band) left in 1982 after the Famous Last Words album. So the band is not what it was in it's heyday. That all said what of the gig?
Brilliant. Okay these songs mean a lot to me, they are part of my growing up etc. but the musicianship on display was top drawer. They did play all the hits and more, the leaning was, not surprisingly more towards the Rick Davies side of the recorded record but Hodgesons big ones, Logical Song, Dreamer, Give a Little Bit etc. were capably handled but a couple of additional singers - esp Bob Siebenberg's (drummer) son Jesse.
They played a good part of the Crime album which really pleased me - School being the start of the encore set.
So finally I got to see one of my fav bands of all time and I'm so pleased I did as this may well be the final time as Mr Davies isn't far off 70 now and no doubt doesn't really need the cash I suspect. Roger Hodgeson is touring next year and has been vocal that the old Supertramp experience is captured in his solo gigs... maybe but frankly this gig was as good as Supertramp can be in my opinion. Rick Davies might have an idiosyncratic singing style at times but that is all part of it really - listen to Paris (live album just after Breakfast in America) and you'll see what I mean.
Mumford and Sons - Hammersmith Apollo
From the old to the new, just like that! If you are not yet familiar with Mumford and Sons do yourself a favour and search them out. They are a cross over folk band with catchy tunes, interesting lyrics and brilliant vocal arrangements to complement the well constructed instrumentation.
After two support acts they played an energetic 1 and a half hour set. Now these guys might be quiet new to this but their live act is really top notch. They are very very tight as a band, the vocal harmonies were especially very impressive - there are many bigger name acts who I've heard live on TV etc. who could learn a lot from these lads. They added to their four piece set up with a three piece brass section and a celloist on a couple of tracks.
The multi-instrumental nature of the members shown through with guitar, banjo, drums, bass, mandolin etc. all being swapped about between numbers. Again hugely impressive.
The new songs they played bode well for the new album they are soon to start recording, I think they should not suffer with a poor second album based on that evidence.
During the encores they came out from behind the microphones and played a totally acoustic number - no amps or anything. Brave in any sized venue but the Apollo is hardly small and doing that as well as they did was one of the highlights.
They all hail from Fulham so Hammersmith was a bit of a home coming from them and playing such a well know venue as headliners was clearly very emotional for them, brilliant to see them so wrapped in the emotion of it all.
Finally a quick note on the support acts for Mumford and Sons... well one in particular Matthew and The Atlas - we got there just in time to see them take the stage and we were all blown away by them, my daughter in particular. So a little like Mumford and Sons but more folky perhaps, touches of 70s Brit folk in there too a la John Martyn and others. Really well worth checking out, they have an ep available on Spotify and a new one to be released in November.