#283: Hello ... Hello ... my old friends ... It's great to see you once again! In many respects, Yours Truly KJS had many thoughts as I travelled over to Middleton Hall near Tamworth with ELO gig buddy Christian Evans last night [Saturday 10th December] to attend and witness the much anticipated Phil Bates & Tina McBain Christmas Show. I sensed that this seasonal gig signalled a kind of musical crossroads for Phil Bates, Tina McBain and the loyal fans there in attendance and so it was.
Not only was it confirmed by the former Trickster front man that his time with The Orchestra [former members of ELO & ELO Part II] was over for a second and final time, we were also further enlightened as to the formation of Phil's new project The Abbey Road Experience [with co-foundees Chris Brighton and Derek Holt] as he and Tina produced a show of immense musical variety and style which covered their past, present and yet future careers. We heard old favourites, new favourites and some nice surprises too. It was quite surreal to see Phil sat up there solo on stage for the first half of the show as he fiddled with his gadgets [as well as his plaster cast!] and treated us to some of his own compositions, some ELO and Beatles classics and even a Hollies cover. I couldn't help remembering that Carl Wayne was singing their material not so long ago. The second half of the show saw Tina link up with Phil for a great set of songs with the odd spot of humour. There were so many songs given special treatment during this concert.
"Empty Rooms" was a new song Phil has written about a house where its children have flown from the nest. A superlative tribute to the late great Kelly Groucutt in "Midnight Blue" was also there to cherish again among the well over twenty songs that were performed on the night. It was great to hear "Bus Stop" and even a nice rendition of "Time After Time" too. We also had the pleasure of hearing [and not a few others]: "It Doesn't Get Any Better Than This", "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", "Can't Get It Out Of MyHead", "Rock 'n' Roll Is King", "If I Needed Someone" and "A Hard Days Night" during the evening. The gig ended with the strange sight of of one one half of the act leaving the stage to rapturous applause whilst the other half stayed put! But what an encore it was as we first listened to a great acoustic version of Roy Wood's iconic Move track "Blackberry Way" - with a glowing nod to both Roy and former band mate Bev Bevan by the former ELO Part II man.
The real treat was that the final musical interpretation was of the John Lennon seasonal classic "Happy Christmas [War Is Over]". It rounded off a fantastic gig by these two supremely talented musicians of whom we should take the time to listen and support in the months and years to come.
Until next "Time" in the ELO [and related] Universe ... KJS ... 11-Dec-2011