Gig review: COLIN BLUNSTONE – Waterside Arts Centre, Sale, 19 April 2016

The first part of a two-part radio feature was first broadcast on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio on Sunday 3 April.  The second part is also available via Mixcloud

Colin Blunstone - The Waterside Arts Centre, Sale, 19 April 2016

It must be an age thing, but increasingly I am being drawn to songs rather than showmanship.  And if there’s one artist who conveys great songs with depth, soul and meaningfulness it is Colin Blunstone.  He may joke that he is the UK’s “least prolific songwriter”  – if he writes one song in a year he is a happy man – but in a 50-year plus career Colin has always purveyed quality either in his own right or for other people.  Tonight’s show was a history lesson and a fantastic showcase for a sometimes under-rated performer.

Balsamo Deighton - The Waterside Arts Centre, Sale, 19 April 2016

Support tonight Balsamo Deighton were promoting their album ‘Unfolding’.  Rosalie Deighton sang with country-rockers The Storys, a band whom Steve Balsamo fronted, and in spite of a fair amount of national radio exposure were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Together, a talented duo with some good songs but they need to improve their presentation.  We would all like to believe there was something going on between the two, it might seem that way from both their music and their social media, but laboured denials and even reference to an earlier spat doesn’t exactly endear the audience.  Sometimes less is more.

The guy behind me summed it up “I liked these two before, but I’m disappointed.”  It’s a shame because Steve Balsamo is an intriguing character who very successfully played Jesus Christ Superstar in the West End and had a record deal with Sony.  There is a lot that’s positive and plenty to talk about without shattering illusions.

Colin Blunstone - The Waterside Arts Centre, Sale, 19 April 2016

Colin Blunstone, on the other hand, endeared  himself from the off.  His voice is still in fine fettle, his band are superb, and the songs enduring.  The set was a great mix of the more recent (with several songs from the excellent ‘On The Air Tonight’ although sadly not the superb title track) along with the less obvious.  In the first half this included ‘Levi Stubbs Tears’ (from Echo Bridge, 1995) and ‘Wonderful’ (from Journey, 1974).

Colin Blunstone - The Waterside Arts Centre, Sale, 19 April 2016

Along the way there were tear jerkers (‘Though You Are Far Away’ (One Year, 1971), ‘Beginning/Keep The Curtains Closed Today’ from Journey, 1974) toe tappers (‘Turn Your Love Around’, ‘Wild Places’) and timeless classics (‘I Don’t Believe In Miracles’, ‘She’s Not There’, ‘Time Of The Season’), But perhaps the biggest highlight – in a  show of highlights – was the song he sang for The Alan Parsons Project, ‘Old And Wise’.  This piece in particular is a wonderful vehicle for Blunstone’s typically soulful and melancholic delivery and this time underlined by Manolo Panodoli’s searing guitar solo.

Colin Blunstone - The Waterside Arts Centre, Sale, 19 April 2016

Colin Blunstone comes across as a real gentleman and confided that he and his wife had earlier had a really intense conversation, about whether to water the plants in the garden or wait until the next day.  I can fully relate to this, as I am sure did most of the packed audience.  It may well be a sign of advancing years – like that yearning for a decent song well sung – but it heightens the experience when witnessing one of our greatest ever pop rock vocalists.

Review and Photos by David Randall

David Randall presents ‘Assume The Position’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Sunday at 22:00 GMT.


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