Tag Archives: wembley arena

Legends Live 2019 (SSE Arena, Wembley)

I’ve been to quite a few concerts on the nostalgia tours for both the 1960s and 1970s, and for this decade, the 1970s, I have seen Showaddywaddy, The Rubettes, The Sweet, and others.

Tonight, it was the turn of four artists bundled together under the Legends Live label – Smokie, Les McKeown’s Bay City Rollers, David Essex (I’ve seen him before in musicals, Aspects of Love and War of the Worlds), and Suzi Quatro.


First we were treated to a half-hour appearance from Smokie, a band which has had several member changes and its fair share of tragedy (second singer Alan Barton, who had previously sung for Black Lace, died in an accident on tour in the 1990s). Their biggest hit remains Living Next Door To Alice, a cover of the song by Australian band New World, and they closed their set with it.


The current band is Mike Craft (vocals), Michael McConnell and Terry Uttley (lead and bass guitars), Martin Bullard (keys) and Steve Pinnell (drums).

Les MacKeown's Bay City Rollers
Les MacKeown’s Bay City Rollers

The Bay City Rollers were huge for a couple of years in the mid-1970s, and Rollermania covered the country with tartan. Singer Les MacKeown now fronts his version of the band, while an alternative tours utilising the name ‘The Bay City Rollers’.

Les MacKeown's Bay City Rollers
Les MacKeown’s Bay City Rollers

No matter, as MacKeown still has his fans, and classic bubblegum pop like Shang-a-lang and Be My Baby retain their ability to transfer memories to more innocent days, and get audiences on to their feet.

David Essex
David Essex

David Essex, now in his 70s, white-haired and still retaining hints of his Plaistow accent, has attained huge success on record, in the theatre, and on film. His fifty-minute set has quieter moments (It’s Gonna Be Alright), theatrical bombast (Oh, What a Circus from Evita), biker chic (Silver Dream Machine) and pop fun (Gonna Make You a Star). Essex cuts a fine figure in a neat suit, waistcoat and shirt, and his voice eases back into the confidence he had as a blue-eyed idol back then.

Suzi Quatro
Suzi Quatro

The little girl rocker from Detroit, Suzi Quatro, is celebrating fifty-five years in the business this year, and before she took to the stage we were treated to a trailer for her “Greatest Hits” album.

Suzi Quatro takes to the drums
Suzi Quatro takes to the drums

She’s still recording, and in performing to her recent single No Soul/No Control‘s music video as back-drop at one point, she’s happy to acknowledge the passing of time. Whether dancing in her leathers, offering solos on her bass guitar and on the drums, or conjuring up memories of her early hits Can the Can and Devil Gate Drive, Suzi Q remains first and foremost an entertainer.

This was a decent concert, over three hours, and able to please fans of a range of ages. My husband betrayed his knowledge of Rollers lyrics, and even though I was a mere baby at the start of the decade, the 1970s are a time of some great music on the cusp of rock and punk.

Smokie – If You Think You Know How To Love Me
Les MacKeown’s Bay City Rollers – All of Me Loves All of You
David Essex – Oh What a Circus
Suzi Quatro – She’s in Love With You

Legends Live 2019 continues until the 16 April, taking in Birmingham, Liverpool and Bournemouth. Attendees can be assured of a good time.

Photo credits Colin Penn. Short videos (which hopefully give a bit of flavour!) by Louise Penn.


Andre Rieu (Wembley Arena)

Just before Christmas we went along to see the most wealthy and successful classical musician currently working, Andre Rieu and his Johann Strauss Orchestra.  Rieu does not come cheap – our tickets came to £91 each once you factored in booking fee – but he does put on a spectacle.

His USP is his digital backdrops, his sopranos dressed as Disney princesses, and his own slightly cheesy Master of Ceremonies schtick.  The musical programme is made of crowd-pleasers: not simply the Strauss waltzes he is known for (the Blue Danube, for which we were handed tiny keyring lights to wave), but also such well-known pieces as the Hallelujah Chorus, the Pearl Fishers duet (for tenor trio and choir here, a bit odd), that aria from Madame Butterfly, 76 Trombones, the theme song from Exodus, and some Christmas pieces – The Holy City, O Holy Night, White Christmas …

There was a guest bell ringer, who had a speed playing contest with the xylophonist.  There was a trilling soprano who sang Christine’s Think of Me from The Phantom of the Opera.  There was a lot of mock drinking.  There was fake snow dumped on to the floor-sitting audience.  There were balloons.  There was Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah and Vera Lynn’s We’ll Meet Again, ending proceedings.

Rieu has energy, and, in a trio for Amazing Grace with his violin, and flute and bagpipes, he proves he can actually play a decent solo.  He also has friendly patter with which he engages his adoring audience.  Those waltzes get people up dancing, whether they are ageing couples, mums and daughters, or grannies and tots.

He puts on a good show, but like all good things, especially sugary or cheesy ones, he is best enjoyed in moderation.  This was a tightly programmed and shrewdly scripted piece of entertainment of which Rieu is the mullet-haired ringmaster.  And the audience went away humming the tunes with smiles on their faces.

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