Tuesday, 15 July 2008


Not far from my hotel I passed the wonderful and legendary Radio City Music Hall. As I photographed the front I also happened to read the billings. The very next night had a terrific double bill and it also had the attraction of appealing to my inner "anorak".

‘Steve Miller Band with special guest Joe Cocker’. I like both artists although it would be fair to say that if I ever made it onto ‘Desert Island Discs’ there would be other acts I would choose first. However contained deep within Steve Millers band was a secret musical weapon. So I rushed in to join the queue for tickets. Luckily there were not too many people waiting. In front of me were a party of Germans, behind them were Spanish and then there was me. The woman behind the ticket counter asked where I was from as she ‘liked to know’. Wonder if I’ll start getting junk mail from New York? I said "UK....by the look no Americans are coming to this gig." "We are”, said a family of four behind me.

I got an aisle seat in the stalls about 20 rows back. The place is vast and apparently seats up to 6,000. According to the internet it’s the largest indoor theatre in the world. However it’s not big enough for some artists. Neil Diamond is doing four nights at Madison Square Gardens which seats over 19,000. Although small by comparison, I wonder if Squeeze or Ricky Gervais will sell out as they were billed as forthcoming attractions at Radio City.

Come the concert, I guzzled a pricey gin and tonic and examined the statues and the sign which read, ‘No more than 2 alcoholic beverages per person’. Into the auditorium I went.

In El Paso, Tom Waits had been late on stage and, being an anal retentive, it irks me when this happens. Joe was on first, on time and with a fantastic 8 piece band. Can't remember the last time I saw a support act that got two encores. He was great although he did sound croakier than ever. However, he’s still a commanding presence though with some vestigial Sheffield accent in evidence which was nice despite being in exile for years.

He amazed a lot of the audience who expected ‘Up where we belong’ and ‘You are so beautiful’ - which he did. (He still can't make that last note by the way). Joe rocked out with ‘When the night comes’, ‘Come together’ and ‘Unchain my heart. Of course he had to do ‘With a little help from my friends’ and, even though he didn't do ‘Delta Lady’, he was terrific. “Wow who would have thought...Joe Cocker really rawks", said one guy as we headed towards the ‘restrooms’.

Long queue of blokes with prostate trouble meant it took and age to get too and from the khazi before Steve Miller came on to ‘take us to Swingtown’, which he opened with. He ran the gamut of musical styles from rock to blues to country and – yes, he was there in the band. One of my idols:

This all goes back to my formative years when me and my mate Andy; two spotty middle class teenagers played pubs and clubs in and around Birmingham as our version of blues greats Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee. We were, erm, boys from the, er, ghetto....... As a result I’ve long been a fan of great harmonica players

There he was Steve Miller's long time sideman harmonica player Norton Buffalo. I’ve been a fan of his from his days with ‘Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen’, through his solo work which I have featured on the show and will again, to 32 years with Steve Miller. He was on tremendous form and was featured prominently on ‘Wild mountain honey’ and ‘Wintertime’. They played for two hours and were tremendous.

What a great way to end my month in the US. How do you top that??? Well I was a mite hungry so headed for a Deli for a proper New York sandwich.......Corned beef on Rye.

Now have to think of planning next years US adventure. For all the statistics on how far, how many states and how much fuel I used, head over to my weekly blog and I will update that as soon as I have found all the screwed up receipts amongst the dirty washing in my bag.


Holland said...

Sounds like a fantastic concert to end your holiday Alex, lucky you!

Twilight said...

Hi Alex

I've just read the tale of your journey from beginning to end at one sitting, and thoroughly enjoyed it - many a chuckle and a few guffaws along the way. Thank you!

I'm a Brit living in the USA (about to become a US citizen) and found your reactions to stuff, especially in the mid-section of the country with which I'm most familiar, very like my own.

Looking forward to your report of next year's trip already!

I used to listen to your show whenever I was awake early enough, back in the UK - I always hoped you'd take over from Terry W., but it looks as though others got there first. Shame! ;-)

Kenny Baker said...

Hiya Alex,

Thought I would leave a comment as you only appear to have received two so far. Now your'e 50% up.

Really enjoyed your tales of travel across the US. You have inspired me to do the same or similar. Can one hire a moped over there and how long would it take to travel from one side of the US to the other at an average speed of 18mph??

Keep up the good work, enjoy your show immensely.

Kenny Baker

The lady in Red said...

Dear Alex, look at that sandwich .....huge....lol...very nice blog...you are very courageous!

Best wishes,

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GrrrNasher said...

Mmmmmm, looking at that sarnie, is it really wise going back on holiday there? Perhaps a trekking holiday would be more suitable ... and help the BBC budget too.
But then we do get a laugh out of blubberwatch, wink.

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