Hazel O’Connor – live in Oran Mor

Hazel O'Connor Mega Plus Tour
Hazel O’Connor – Mega Plus Tour
Hazel O’Connor – MEGA PLus tour, Oran mor

It was a Friday night after what could be described as a “challenging” week at work, in all honesty all I felt like doing was sitting on the sofa and drifting off to sleep in front of the TV.

But I had tickets to go and see Hazel O’Connor and had already missed a Waterboys gig I had tickets for last month so gave myself a shake and headed out.

The gig was in Oran Mor – a great venue that I hadn’t been to in ages (the last time was for Jason and the Scorchers 2, maybe 3 years ago.) The only problem in the West End is parking…..everywhere is residents only. Eventually we got parked up, after taking an aeon to pay for the meter on my phone – issues with Scottish voice recognition I think (cue references to ”eleven” lift sketch…) and headed into the venue.

As I say, great place but £6.10 for 2 soft drinks – what the hell is that all about?

These are Decadent Days…

Anyway, as soon as Hazel O’Connor hit the stage I was delighted I’d made the effort to come out. Opening with an energetic run-through of one of my favourite O’Connor tracks “D-Days” she set the tone for the evening.

Hazel was joined by brother Neil (ex of The Flys of “Love and a Molotov Cocktail” fame – unfortunately we didn’t get that tonight) on guitar and long term collaborators Claire on Sax (an ex Belle Star) and Sarah on keyboards (ex Eurythmic) and a tight rhythm section completing the lineup.

The night was billed as the “Mega Plus” tour featuring songs from her first 3 albums – Breaking Glass, Sons & Lovers and Cover Plus. With that myriad of tunes to pick from, it was bound to be a good night.

And so it played out – a nigh on 2 hour and 23 song set, with all the hits and highlights from the 3 albums. A dazzling night’s entertainment.

Hazel O'Connor live

Will You?

It’s hard to pick my own highlights from the set but “Will You?” complete with closing sax solo was pretty special.

However, I could go on – the powerful ska of “Blackman”, the protest of “Who Calls the Tune” (written about the controversial death of teacher Blair Peach during anti-racism demonstrations). “If Only”, “Monsters in Disguise”. The searing commentary on she who will not be named who ran the country at the time of writing the song (but equally as valid today with the idiots in power in the UK and USA – “old pumpkin face”), “Big Brother”, “Writing on the Wall”, “The Zoo”, “Come into the Air”, you get the picture…

As well as the cover in the encore, Hazel also treated us to her versions of Nina Simone’s “Do What you Gotta Do” (the first single she ever bought) and The Stranglers “Hanging Around” – which prompted a reminder of their hanging around outside in the cold waiting to play this as an encore when she played in support of Hugh Cornwell.

Hazel live

the Hits and more

As well as this recollection, throughout the evening Ms. O’Connor regaled us with more tales of her experiences over the years.

Some were humorous – from escaping some over-zealous fans in her home town in a 3 wheeler Reliant Robin – her mum only had a motorbike license to her inadvertent flashing during a standing ovation for “Breaking Glass” at Cannes.

Others were poignant – introducing “I Will Give You My Sunshine” written for her mother as a gift when she was in cancer hospice care.

Unfortunately, all good things have to come to an end and so to set closer her “non-plastic paddy” version of “Danny Boy”. This segued into the triumphant “Eighth Day” before the band left the stage to rapturous applause before returning for her take on Snow Patrol’s “Chasing Cars”.

Hazel O'Connor

Post-gig Hazel appeared for a signing/photo call. It was as if the last 30 odd years hadn’t happened as the clamour and fervour from the (mainly over 40’s) crowd to see her at the end must have felt to her like the story she told of trying to escape enthusiastic fans back in the day!

All told a tremendous gig and due to venue curfews, all over by ten pm. Harking back to my shattered state before the gig, I was back home and falling asleep on the sofa by 10.30. I must be getting old….

I Am Derek – I Am Derek EP

I Am Derek

North Devon 2 piece “I Am Derek” release their new EP on Friday 17th November. This follows on from debut (demo) EP (“Zipped” ) recorded and released between Christmas and New Year last year having got together in December 2016. The Zipped EP was picked up by several radio stations across the UK and Canada.

New SONGS

In May 2017 they started writing and demoing new tracks which were again picked up by radio stations. These early demos received radio play worldwide on internet and FM radio stations. One of the tracks, “Boxes”, was voted no 4 in an Australian radio station’s weekly indie chart.

Radio play of the demos has snowballed and has led to radio interviews and several 15 minute features and endorsements without having an official release.

Until now….

I Am Derek EP

The self-titled EP has 4 tracks:

  • I Fell Short
  • Damnation
  • A Tale of Ordinary Madness
  • Boxes

The EP is a thoroughly enjoyable way to spend 15 minutes. Three of the tracks are bouncy/noisy indie rock with fuzzy distorted guitars and from first listen they had me nodding along as I listened on my iPod at work.

The aforementioned “Boxes” has some subtle layered vocals and harmonies with instrumental break building to the end.

“A Tale of Ordinary Madness” is a much slower more ballad like affair.

On EP opener “I Fell Short”, Neil’s vocal is delivered earnestly and at times is not dissimilar to Graham Coxon both musically and vocally.

 

This self-produced EP was recorded at a cost of no more than £100, with the money having been spent on a second-hand condenser mic and a rehearsal space for recording.

The EP is scheduled for release on 17th November 2017, and is available now to pre-order through iTunes.

Follow I Am Derek on Facebook & Twitter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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