Tag Archive: pop music

Sun is shinin’ in the sky. 
There ain’t a cloud in sight. 
It’s stopped rainin’,  everybody’s in the play 
and don’t you know 
it’s a beautiful new day,  hey! hey! 

Words familiar All Over the World, but the faces here are a little different. That’s because this band is a tribute; a tribute to the wonderful sound of Jeff Lynne and the Electric Light Orchestra

ELO Encounter—The Crescent Theatre Birmingham—16 September 2022

I have previously said that I only do tributes when the real thing is not around anymore, but although you can get Jeff Lynne’s ELO (at exorbitant prices) when he tours, the chance for a little Blue Sky at short notice was too good to pass up. 

Formed several years ago by the Lownes Brothers, The ELO Encounter give you just that. Not simply a performance of numbers, but encountering the original band with a loving feel as if this were them on stage. Straight into the opening of Standin’ in the Rain, I was transported back to 1978 and listening to side three of Out of the Blue on vinyl. Then came hit after hit: Sweet Talkin’ Woman, Turn to Stone, Shine a Little Love, Hold on Tight, Horace Wimp, Telephone Line, and many, many more. I was hooked, as were the rest of the audience in this wonderful experience of time-travel. We even had an appearance of one the earliest ELO hits in 10538 Overture … brilliant.

ELO Encounter—The Crescent Theatre Birmingham—16 September 2022

The band is led by Jack Rownes on keyboards and vocals, taking the Jeff Lynne role with a delivery so like the man himself, close your eyes and it’s real. Then you have younger brother, Harry Rownes on Bass, but also supporting vocals, as do the entire band. However, Harry has the added task of replicating the awesome (and too soon departed) voice of Kelly Groucutt, particularly on Rockaria! Lead guitars are provided by Martin Donald with Dacre Peck on drums. On Violin we had Jasmine Ali who also delivered lead vocals on Xanadu, one the best numbers of the night. Rounding off the band was newest member on acoustic guitars, Karl Younger.

The show was split into two sets ending with an encore of ELO’s biggest hit, Mr Blue Sky. By now, everyone was long on their feet and ELO Encounter departed to a massive flow of applause. It was nice to see some of the band in the foyer afterwards to thank the audience. A nice touch and familiarity which goes down well.

ELO Encounter are touring the UK throughout the remainder of 2022 and all next year. There are alternative tributes to ELO, but these have my recommendation. Look no further if you’re thinking of seeing one. 

ELO Encounter—The Crescent Theatre Birmingham—16 September 2022


Antony N Britt 

Debbie Harry is nearly 77. Seventy-seven, God-dammit! I don’t know if that makes her old or me feel it. You see, 45 years ago, when I first discovered Blondie, I was barely fourteen years old myself. Once again, I am blessed that Blondie, like many of my favourite rock bands, are still about. I must have good taste for longevity. Okay, so due to Chris Steins’ ill-health, there were only two original members on stage: Debbie Harry and the brilliant Clem Burke on drums. But we also had Glen Matlock on bass, which was a bonus for me and the rock alumni of 1977.

Kicking off where it all began with X-Offender, a packed arena went back in time and unless you were in the first few rows (as I was) you’d be hard pressed to believe you were not seeing the band at their height during that era.

Harry hasn’t lost it a bit. Sure, after a handful of numbers, the heels had to come off as in her own words, she needed to get serious. But to still do a high-energy set lasting almost two hours is incredible.

We listened to hit after hit, but inexplicably, not Denis. That didn’t matter, and it was only afterwards I realised it had been omitted. There are so many more in the catalogue to rave about. Not just the early years, but from the post 1998 revival: Maria, My Monster, What I Heard, Long Time, Mother and best of all, one of my favourites, No Exit. All greeted with similar Rapture as the song of the same name.

But you also had the classics: Sunday Girl, Picture This, Dreaming, Call Me, Atomic, Heart of Glass … the list goes on. I was also overjoyed to hear Fade Away and Radiate in such an incredible set.

Save the best until last, Blondie finished with One Day or Another, a song so massive and popular, but never a single in the UK (until it charted digitally in 2013). This is the measure of a great song. No mainstream release but instantly recognisable.

The euphoria of the audience swept through the arena in one of the best gigs I have seen. Yes, even at that age, Harry rocks. Whereas myself and my partner (late 50s) hobbled back to the car afterwards, near unable to walk. Whatever Debbie Harry has, I’ll take some myself. Brilliant.


Antony N Britt

I must admit, I don’t listen to contemporary pop a great deal these days. In a world full of X-Idols who’ve got talent and a nice voice, I’m happy to stick to my rock roots. And I’m not alone. I often hear comments about older music on the lines of, “Well, it’s better than the rubbish you hear these days.” And in most cases, this is true. However, when you least expect it, somebody comes along to shake the foundations and offer something a bit different.Album Review – Billie Eilish: When We All fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?

It’s difficult to describe Billie Eilish’s style. I guess a magical blend of good tunes, music and voice, then that rare full house of meaningful lyrics which hit home not only to the teen generation, but older listeners like myself. It’s a case of, “I don’t know why I think this is fantastic, but I do.” And any artist with an endorsement from Dave Grohl is going to be worth a try.

Billie Eilish comes from an acting/musical family and along with brother, Phineas O’Connell, produced When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? The album is a follow-up to numerous singles and EP, Don’t Smile at Me. Okay, perhaps EP is a misrepresentation for that first offering has a duration greater than most Beatles albums. At 17, Billie is the youngest artist to go direct to number 1 in the UK album charts. She comes across as a free spirit, an individual, and how can you not love someone whose middle name is Pirate?

Recorded in the home bedroom, the album has everything. From the kick-ass opening of Bad Guy, we are taken on a journey which states you’re going to have as much fun listening to it as they did in the making. An incredible use of multi-track vocals is nowhere better displayed than Xanny which states Eilish has never had or will have need for drugs. The previously released single, You Should See Me in a Crown, is massive in terms of impact as is the melancholy, When the Party’s Over. And then we have Bury a Friend, surely one of the best songs of the decade. This is not to say album tracks don’t match up. All the Good Girls Go to Hell could be played on repeat all day long as is also the case with My Strange Addiction and Ilomilo.

If you check out YouTube, there is video of the full set of a recent gig in London and you can see the effect on the young audience there. But I enjoyed watching it as well. Here we have a person with something to say, and long may she continue saying it.

Album Review – Billie Eilish: When We All fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?


Antony N Britt.

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