-Listening to The Microdots’ second album and wondering at the adventure in rock music that the songs represent…especially savouring the vocal presence and soul of singer Cathy Richardson.
-Watching Ed Harcourt’s ambitious but delicious string-laden benefit show for Flying Seagull, for refugees at Union Chapel, a fitting venue to enjoy Sophie Ellis Bextor, Tom McRae, Charlotte Church and many others.
-Watching Warren Haynes the pro of pro’s wrapping up his Ramblin’ Man show by bringing on the ebullient Bernie Marsden to play guitar alongside him
-The unbridled magnificence of Procol Harum’s set at Ramblin’ Man, in the company of our dear friend ace drummer Darby Todd
-The joyous performance given by the wonderful and still impish Petula Clark at G Live where she and her band played every style of music with relish and melody
-The Strypes bursting into Rebel Rebel as they started their set at The Garage in London. -The warmth and respect shown by a lot of international stars as they joined Bill Wyman to celebrate his 80th Birthday at BluesFest 2016
-Robin Bibi giving his splendid new album the works at Surrey Blues Club in Hersham, Surrey
-Having singer extraordinaire Rietta Austin guest with Spin The Wheel and tumbling through Don’t Look Back as though we had played it before! Also her EP recording gig at Bulls Head Barnes, a fabulous session as writer Bob Bonsey will attest
-Temples playing a few yards from the River Thames on a balmy summer afternoon as part of Caught By The River
-The scary Beth Hart conducting open heart surgery with her band on the Royal Festival Hall stage
-Watching coolest groover in the world Mayer Hawthorne shake The Brooklyn Bowl, London inside out with his ace group and sidetracking into Walk This Way
-Seeing the females of Dorking, Surrey melting at the feet of Sons Of Pitches, a show packed with songs but also constant laughter. Do catch them in 2017, you will thank us…
-Maxwell and band crashing into life at the 02 Arena, subterranean bass, sharp guitar, roaring horns and deft drummer..and a singer who knows how to turn it up for a stage show. A whole different animal to his sexy heartbeat-paced recordings, indeed
-The Zombies covering all bases and singing up a dream at the Cornbury Music Festival. Colin and Rod even did duo spot in Caffe Nero tent!
-Meeting Lemar at Cornbury and getting the chance to praise his Talking Heads version to his face. It’s really good.
-Slapping palms with Howard Hewett of Shalamar during their G Live, Guildford show, packed as it was with hits and a well-paced tribute set during the show.
-Bob Harris, family and team putting on a fantastic Under The Apple Tree festival day at the beautiful Cadogan Hall, in the very week that our friends Ward Thomas topped the charts with their new album release.
-Hearing for ourselves at The Lexington the voice of Ruby Stewart, Rod’s gal as part of The Sisterhood duo. A stunningly fine setlist and performance, despite mislaid gear and problems. Troopers!!
-Simo drawing a huge crowd as they rocked out at Cornbury, then hanging out with JD afterwards (and later with Bernie Marsden, we are looking forward to the book, mate)
-Jamie Cullum turning everyone in earshot into fans as he stormed Cornbury in his set, heavy on energy, crowd involvement and impactful blues feel.
-Despite a soaking in the open air, watching Ben Montague charm the Chelsea audience before Simply Red played better than anyone could have hoped for.
-Black Stone Cherry’s breathtaking acoustic set at Shepherds Bush Empire, on their two-night triumphant stint.
-Radio Birdman at the Dome showing why nearly all guitar rock acts are simply left in the dust by their fluid playing and strong songs. Great to talk to Rob Younger again, too.
-Again at The Dome, getting bowled over by the musicianship and stage presence of Texas act Whisky Myers.
-Robin Trower and band spinning a web of moods and textures at Islington Assembly Hall. No other player understands dynamics as well as this veteran player.
-Dave Hanson Band putting out a varied album that does justice to his vision and the talent he and his colleagues have..a breath of fresh air for any audience anywhere.
-The Magic Band prowling their favourite London lair, Under The Bridge with a set of familiar tunes mixed with adventurous excursions into blues jazz and everything else. Such a presence and such weight yet total communication with the audience…
-Canadian guitar firebrand and gent Colin James talking at length with us in the restaurant before giving an explosive show at Under The Bridge. Don’t leave another 25 year gap, amigo!
-At long last chatting to ZZ Top guitar man Billy Gibbons. At the end of the conversation he thanks me for ‘not talkin’ about CARS and GIRLS..’
–Finally getting Jamie Cullum’s autograph! Thanks Sacha…
-Anne McCue at The Green Note, spinning tales about many of the songs and playing electric and acoustic.
-Both Ben and Kitty Montague presenting excellent sets at Nell’s in Kensington, despite a callously rude and noisy audience undeserving of even being there. If your name is not on the ticket, please STFU!!
-Meeting Harriet to talk about her first album and the songs. The quality end of mainstream showbiz and a bright future ahead. See her on tour, you will be impressed.
-Graham Nash at G Live, Guildford. A splendid performance as his life undergoes a transition and a new album chronicles his feelings. Popular songs from his entire catalogue make up a satisfying evening’s music.
-The Byrds retweeting my David Crosby album review! If you told me that would ever happen when I was a teenager I would never have thought that possible..thank you David and Roger McGuinn.
-The Pollsters and experts in politics being totally wrong about everything….
-Attending the DVD launch at the 606 Club in Chelsea of the fascinating film MILES AHEAD, about Miles Davis. Our piece is noted by Don Cheadle himself who gives a spellbinding performance as the great trumpeter and bandleader. To this day, seeing Miles Davis play at The Royal Festival Hall, sitting with my own band members behind the ensemble remains a pivotal moment
-Thunder stealing the afternoon at Ramblin’ Man. Punchy, tuneful, engaging. They didn’t put a foot wrong.
-Love Revisited at The Jazz Café breathing life into the Arthur Lee songbook. I saw the Four Sail album lineup of Love at The Lyceum back in the day and this sounded good.
-Jamie & The Jets rocking up the hits of Elton John at the excellent Boom Boom Club in Sutton, let’s hope Pete Feenstra re-books them in 2017.
-Rumer fronting a fantastic band at Cadogan Hall, running through the Bacharach song and not all the obvious ones, plus her own hits. One point off for sharing dog pictures…..
-Tom Walker at the 100 Club. Fine guitar player. Excellent songs. Good conversationalist. An album from Tom in 2017 should be a treat…
-Finally seeing Lucinda Williams play live, at Cornbury. A performance that reeked of pain, kerosene, mistrust all set to slashing guitar riffs. Somebody hug that woman!
-The Rolling Stones getting a blues album together in three days. Blue & Lonesome is insistently good and authentic, with Jagger on top form on the harmonica.
-Italian superstar Zucchero managing to make his voodoo-tinged Royal Albert Hall show this year as entertaining as his Cuban foray there in 2014. Eschewing showbiz bravado and pomp, this fine writer brings the cream of musicians out on tour, every time.
-The glorious funk sound of Morrissey Mullen in its current incarnation and with Noel McCalla singing as only he can down at the 606 Club, where the boss man Steve insists on no chatting during the live music..hooray!!
-Jack Jones with a splendid orchestra at Cadogan Hall. A wonderful vocal tone, funny stories galore and stories behind the songs..he thanks every member of his ensemble and even on a singing walkabout through the auditorium signs a programme without stopping singing for a bloke in the audience. Me!
-Laurence Jones in power trio format taking the roof off the Boom Boom Club with new album material, on a surf green Fender. Every show he does is sparky and joyous.
-No Sinner torching the Borderline with a set based upon their new album and how nice to spend time chatting with Coleen again, backstage. An appreciative lass and a fiery singer.
-Blue Oyster Cult at The Forum burning through the Agents of Fortune album AND with Alan Lanier aboard for the show!
-Joanovarc presenting their new album at The Black Heart, Camden, London – the sound as good as they look, which is high praise..and they can write great rock songs…
-The entertaining J W Jones and his trio from Canada is a live draw indeed. We saw him twice and the set was radically different. Do read his chat with us on this site
-Alexander Armstrong and unusual musical ensemble. Great baritone voice and phrasing, weird collection of songs and a very individual performance, down at G Live.
-The Forum’s symphonic metal festival was lit up first by Amaranthe and then the astounding Tarja Turunen, who gave us an incendiary take on the Bond theme Goldfinger and tons of own and new material
-Guitar star Bernie Marsden and crew – including bassist Neil Murray pouring Whitesnake hits, blues gems and newer own compositions on the crowd at Nell’a in Kensington. He makes it look so easy!
-Brian Wilson and huge band AND Al Jardine AND Blondie Chaplin at The London Palladium presenting Pet Sounds…having the audacity to OPEN with Heroes & Villains – a complex and multi-tempoed song that most acts could never attempt. Another highlight was Chaplin fronting Sail On Sailor…
-The quirky Joe Jackson in a rare London appearance at The Palladium with his trio plus an accomplished and edgy guitar player. He has his own place in the business, in the same way as Gary Numan does…
-Wembley Arena rocking out to a triple bill of Shinedown, Halestorm and the mighty Black Stone Cherry. A satisfying clutch of acts.
-Hollie Stephenson launching her album in the studio at St James Theatre AND Dave Stewart guesting on guitar and chatting to us afterwards about blues and singers.
-An unforgettable set by the cheerful and sharp-playing Buddy Guy and his band. So much character AND a chance to see young star Quinn Sullivan, all at The Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith, London.
-Guesting with Hitman Blues Band alongside Peter French, over at the Eel Pie Club. Russ is a master showman and as funny and dry as he is musically gifted. Songs, solos, backing vocals all spot on..no wonder he is so popular there!
-The Zappa legacy kept alive and fiery by Scouse muso’s The Muffin Men, at the Boom Boom. Fine choice of numbers from a vast catalogue of course, spirited playing and singing, dark humour and guitar work as good as any we saw or heard this year and far in advance of most, yet still accessible and entertaining.
-The glorious technicolour experience of the Sun Ra Arkestra up at Union Chapel. Marshall Allen keeps this celebration of the late Herman alive for the world to enjoy and the music careens from far out to gentle jazz. Oh and lovely singing.
-Shakey Vick the veteran singer and blues harpist fronting a spiky two-guitar band at Spice of Life in Soho. A marvellous set of songs that rocked the joint. And thanks for the vinyl album, Graham it’s a corker!
-All-female rock band The Franklys turning in hot and lively sets at The Railway Winchester and later in the year at The Borderline. Guitar star Fanny has a guitar sound entirely her own and their songs have a post-Velvets intrigue, married to drive
-Joe Louis Walker spinning out blues and shuffles with a veteran’s skill and fire at Dingwalls in Camden. His latest album is his best by far and produced by smart man and site friend Paul Nelson. You can read about both these stars on this very site
-Meeting the delightful Nina Schofield and talking about her songs and songwriting. Her album bodes well for the expansion of her talent.
-Norwegian multi-talent Ksyran scoring dance hits in the US and pouring her soul into artistic projects. Such energy!
-One of the best setlists ever performed was by the current lineup of Foreigner at the Palladium, with some in the audience surprised at the emphasis on hard rock. You see, radio doesn’t always play the whole of what an act can do…just look at Procol Harum, masters of so many styles. By the way Procol, thanks for adding our Ramblin’ Man review to your site
-The Soap Girls having fun with their audience and opting to humiliate their PR during a show. Not that he was worried. Some fine edgy songs in their performance and they truly know what they are doing. BTW their 20 Questions with us had thousands of hits and if you haven’t looked at our 20 Questions feature try some of the artists thereon – Alan Clayson, Edward Rodgers, Bernie Tome, Peter Cox have some interesting tales to tell
-Running into a chap selling his hiphop CD in Camden. He made the mistake of doubting (presumably by my appearance ?) that yours truly would like rap and was duly rewarded by my reciting of the whole of The Message. Albeit with a London accent. What’s more, I was at Grandmaster Flash’s first ever gig over here, sonny! So there. I bought his EP, he was a young cat with dreams after all…
-Patty Griffin having a guitar strap come loose during a song at the Cadogan, she kept singing the number, lifting her leg to support the instrument. That, she told us was ‘the Jethro Tull version’
-Kula Shaker bringing all their hits and their new album tracks to The Roundhouse, a visual and sonic treat, lapped up by an enthusiastic audience.
-We are always worried about Alan Nimmo’s throat but nonetheless King King managed to tour a lot this year AND create a scorching live album that illustrated their grip of dynamics and rapport with their audience. As for Brother Wayne Proctor, as ever we are in your corner – how many years now?? – and we appreciate your support of Just Listen To This
-Charlotte Church brought her Pop Dungeon to the Roundhouse a couple of times, flinging high-octane soul and rock tunes across the venue in the company of accomplished singing pals. People around me seemed stunned – as they would be if they have not kept tabs on her post-classical and post-mainstream pop efforts. Nobody has a stronger and more tuneful voice but she rations the high points with exquisite taste. As for guitar man Jonny – did you get any useful sounds out of that Line 6 item, amigo?
-If we have a ‘hero’ in music it is probably Glenn Hughes. He has had a rough time lately with health matters but managed to create an uplifting and powerful new album in Resonate – reviewed on this site – incorporating his strong airy voice, funk-fuelled bass playing and great material. We look forward to his 2017 dates and moreover thank him for his acknowledgement of and support of Just Listen To This. When Glenn and the likes of Dave Davies and Edward Rogers share what we create it warms what is left of our hearts.
-Nine Below Zero released their best album for years – do check our review as they are on fine form…meanwhile Greaves Jnr is drumming with Aaron Keylock!
– Bob Harris’ stage at Country2Country this year hosted an embarrassment of musical riches. With good views and a crystal clear sound it all fitted well into the overall festival but for me the revelation was a band with instrumental punch and four lead singers which even impressed one of our seen-it-all photographers: Little Big Town. What a fabulous act and what cool material. Jess & The Bandits also impressed. By the time the acts get onto the listing at these shows, they have refined their own sound and hit the ground running. It’s still a tad strange to see grown men dressed up as cowboys, but no harm done. Bob’s hosting is good as ever, respectful of the artists and he has time for fans and friends.
(A huge thank you to all of the photographers, artists, record labels, all of venues and their staff, festival and event organisers and of course our worldwide readership who enjoy what we do. We appreciate all of the support.)
Thank you for reading our 2016 In Review – Part One. Keep your eyes on our Twitter and Facebook for 2016 In Review – Part Two!
From Pete Sargeant, Kieran White and Glenn Sargeant – The Just Listen To This Team