Monday, 19 December 2011

Ken Dodd - Wolverhampton Civic

 How tickled I was on 18th December 2011, I went to see Ken Dodd's Christmas Happiness Show in Wolverhampton. The show started at 7.00pm and ended at 12.30 AM which is quite normal for his performances! In fact I think we got let out early for good behaviour.

Kenneth Arthur Dodd was born in Knotty Ash, a village just outside Liverpool, on November 8, 1927, to coal merchant Arthur Dodd and his wife Sarah. Ken still lives in the same house in Knotty Ash today!
If I see you sneaking out i'll follow you home and shout jokes through your letterbox he warns us! But it is already half past midnight the moment has come and launches into a parting burst of one of his old hits, Absent Friends. It's shamelessly sentimental. And he does it brilliantly getting a standing ovation and there is the feeling that he could go on and on.



It's amazing to think that this guy is in his mid 80's has absolutely no intention of retiring - or even slowing down. Maybe the most amazing thing of all is there has not been one obscenity and a packed audience loved every minute. His late finishes were a constant them, illustrated when he produced his own thermos flask and sandwich box. Catching someone looking at their watch he said it's no good looking at your watch , its a calendar you need when you come and see me.
"She was a big girl," he reflects fondly of his first girlfriend. "You could tickle her all night and never touch the same spot." Impeccable timing and a constant bombardment of gags without stopping to pause.
He genuinely loves every minute on stage - "I'm stagestruck, always have been" - and cannot envisage life any other way. "Retirement is when a man stops doing what he doesn't want to do."

Part of Ken Dodd's act were The Diddy Men of Knotty Ash ('diddy' is northern England slang for 'little'). In fact, he created a whole community of these characters. The Diddy Men, including Mick the Marmalizer, Hamish McDiddy and Dicky Mint, all worked in places like the Broken Biscuit Repair Works, The Jam Butty Mines, The Treacle Wells and The Moggy Ranch, all in Knotty Ash. They wore colourful clothes and tall, furry hats and they even had thair own song! In his stage shows today, Ken Dodd uses a ventriloquist's puppet of as part of his act.


Ken Dodd had a good singing voice and regularly had songs like Love Is Like a Violin and Happiness in the charts. At one time in 1965, he had two songs in the same 'Top Ten'! Tears went straight it at No.1 with The River entering the charts at No.3. Tears sold over two million copies, gaining Doddy two gold disc awards. He is still Britain's only million-selling comedian.
In his furry red "moggy coat"

In 1967, Dodd entered the Guinness Book of Records for the 'Longest Joke-Telling' session, with 1,500 consecutive jokes told to a Liverpool audience, in three and a half hours. There were times when I had the feeling that Ken was going for a new world record as the jokes came thick and fast.

A Ken Dodd 'trade mark' is his feather duster or 'tickling stick'. In fact many of his catchphrases use the 'tickled' idea - as in 'How tickled I am'.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Marillion - HMV Institute Birmingham

Full Set List



A lovely souvenir of the night - Thank You Stephanie!


The encores were equally impressive starting with 'The Invisible Man'from the excellent Marbles album. Then we had a surprise! 'h' said 'we are now going to play you a hit single' and we were treated to a rousing rendition of Kayleigh. Wellit was nearly Christmas after all and a rarity from a modern day Marillion set list for sure. The evening finished with Three Minute Boy.

Fans I spoke to said they had never seen 'h' sing with such intensity- A brilliant night.



The set continued some classic songs including King, Man of 1000 Faces, This Strange Engine and finishing with my altime favourites Afraid of Sunlight and the Neverland. What more could you possibly ask for?



Pete Trevawas joined Marillion in 1982 and also is a member of Progressive Rock supergroup Transatlantic.

Pete Trevawas



The set continued with 'Cover my eyes' and the wonderful and emotive 'King'.

Mark Kelly joined the band in 1981, replacing previous keyboardist Brian Jelliman.

Mark Kelly


Steve Rothery is the only member of Marillion's founding lineup who remains in the band to this day and is regarded by many fans of the band as providing their defining sound of Marillion. He is heavily influenced by Dave Gilmour of Pink Floyd and named Jeff Beck as his favourite guitarist.

Steve Rothery




Marillion opened up with 'Splintering Heart' from the 'Holidays in Eden' album which has a wonderful beat and showcases the emotional power of h's vocals.

Steve 'h' Hogarth


Before Marillion we had Tin Spirits.Formed in 2008 they included former XTC guitarist for some 20 years Dave Gregory. They played a couple of their own songs as well as some covers including a very impressive version of 'Tom Sawyer' by RUSH. Also as you might expect a version of XTC's 'Senses working overtime' from 1982.

Dave Gregory




Brilliant to see Marillion again who constantly keeping evolving yet remain below the radar for most people. Having said that there is an amzingly loyal and knowledgable army of fans who follow the band. It is very hard to actually pinpoint their genre of music; progressive rock possibly is the closest but there is so much more to them. In Steve Hogarth (h) you get amazing vocals, rich with power and passion. Wonderful guitar artistry from Steve Rothery. A rhythm section (Pete Trewavas on bass and Ian Mosley on drums) was really strong complementing the guitar and vocals well. Keyboard wizardy provided as always by Mark kelly.
There is a previous Marillion review in the blog archive July 2010.