Ronnie Spector & Seth Glier
November 30th 2015
The opportunity to see Ronnie Spector; the voice behind some of my favourite ever songs was always going to be too good to miss; and when I received Seth Glier’s debut album a couple of weeks before; I was ‘double excited.’
If you read my review of his album; you will know I liked it a lot; but had reservations about the (over) production. Tonight, I was proved correct!
With only his long-term sidekick Joe Nemey on saxophone, harmonica and harmonies the young singer-songwriter supplied a very brave, stripped down set and easily won over a knowledgeable audience.
His songs were all extremely well crafted and his voice would have melted the hardest of hearts; all coupled with some majestic piano playing and supreme sax playing.
Highlights? Where do I start? The very personal Love is a Language is a cool song anyway; but 62 year old Joe’s Soulful Harmonica raised it onto a much higher plain than the recorded version; and the introduction about Glier’s recently departed brother would have brought a tear to a glass eye anyway.
That said; and I always feel guilty when I like a cover version over a songwriter’s own songs; Glier and Nemey genuinely found something brand new in their interpretation of the Rolling Stones Wild Horses.
Starting with Glier playing broody piano, then the two alternated verses, taking this popular song into an uncharted Gothic arena before ending with ‘show stealer’ Nemey’s extraordinary sax solo. The prolonged applause was well deserved and several actually stood to show their appreciation.
Seth Glier walked into the Sage Gateshead an unknown to many, but left as the ‘find of the year’ and I will be staggered if he’s not back in 2016 headlining his own tour.
After a very short intermission the house-lights dimmed at 8.20 and the band sauntered onto the stage to cheers from the disappointingly small crowd (700?); and it got en louder when the door Stage left opened and the star made her appearance waving and smiling beneath the biggest hairdo I’ve ever seen; in fact I wasn’t 100% sure she wasn’t actually wearing a busby that the Welsh Guards sport when guarding the Queen!
The band’s opening jam quickly evolved into Baby I Love You and the front few rows went crazy with everyone trying to shake the singer’s hand.
As the song ended, the lights dimmed and Ronnie took to a seat in front of the drum riser, where she explained that ‘tonight would be a celebration of the Ronettes’ which went down very well before told the first of her stories; this one about how the three cousins got their first ‘break’ by doing the Hula in a shop window, then we were regaled with a lovely version of Keep On Dancing.
The next 40 minutes went in a similar vein; with a song followed by a story from the big chair; some including grainy YouTube clips on a big screen.
I really liked the stories; as alongside these early songs were setting the scene for a Grand Finale.
Some songs were better than others, with Ronnie’s version of the Chapel of Love nearly bringing the house down when it concluded; and when it was followed by Walking in the Rain I thought a woman two rows in front was going to combust with excitement.
One story that stood out was when Dusty Springfield played the Brooklyn Roxy; with Ronnie claiming that was the night that the British Diva first put her hair in a beehive. Confusingly the song that followed; The Best Part of Breaking Up had nothing to do with the story; yet was one of the highlights of the night.
At times the delectable Ms. Spector prowled the stage like a tigress; most noticeably when she purred the Joey Ramone penned You Can’t Put Your Arm Around a Memory.
This was followed by a surprising story about her love for Amy Winehouse; then regaled us with Back to Black.
The evening was still relatively young when the opening chords to Be My Baby oozed out and the whole crowd were on their feet dancing and swaying to the soundtrack to their collective youth.
Then, before the song ended Ronnie waved to the crowd and left the stage, as the band got into a groove; but before we knew what was happening the lights dimmed and the band left the stage.
Puzzled, I checked my watch – 1 hour and 10 minutes had past and there were still a whole lot of classic songs waiting to be sung.
Phew; the band returned after 30 seconds swiftly followed by the Star herself, as the opening notes to Frosty The Snowman filtered out. Well; even a hardened old cynic like me developed a silly grin and wiggled his hips as he mouthed the words to this fantastic Christmas song.
I was hoping the encores was to be made up of more like it; mentally guessing which song from that legendary album would follow when Ronnie launched into I Can Hear Music!
A truly epic song and one the fans happily sang and danced along to; but it was over in two minutes; as was the concert.
Most people around me exchanged quizzical looks as the house lights went up on the dot of 9.30.
Don’t get me wrong; what we did hear and see was fabulous; but this short ‘celebration of the Ronettes’ felt a bit of a let down as we left the Hall; and there had been no mention of her ex-husband whose name she still keeps.
Photo-set by Harrisonaphotos http://www.harrisonaphotos.co.uk/Music/Ronnie-Spector-and-Seth-Glier/