I've just got home and I feel like I have to share my experiences and memories of tonight's fantastic show!
First of all I have to tell you I was in the Farewell concert two years ago; that time I knew nothing about Blue Guitars since it came to the local stores only a few days before the concert, and I missed somehow the Stony Road album, too, but I can say I was a Rea-fan - heard much more from him than The Road to Hell and Julia (these are his most-played songs in local radios) - so I went there and expected a kind of greatest hits show. And what I saw and heard there in two hours changed my life completely. This man entered me into the world of blues music and became my all-time guitar hero; beating Angus Young and Bruce Springsteen off the ring. I bought The Road to Hell & Back CD and DVD and heard/watched them hundred times because I didn't want to say farewell to him at all. Stony Road and Blue Guitars became my favourite albums instantly, I started painting pictures of guitars, etc.
Then last November came the news via e-mail: Chris Rea's surprising return! I could hardly believe that! My friends and me were on needles and pins through three months. And we're getting here...
The concert was scheduled for 7.30. p.m. We entered the Sport Arena around 7 and went down to the standing section; having places in the very middle, four meters from stage. We had some time to explore the set design; there was a huge, glooming silver curtain hanging in the background with The Delmonts! written on it, reminding us shows from the 60's; and there were 20+ different Hofner guitars hanging from the ceiling and a few more placed on the edge of the stage. The look was amazing! We were wondering whether they are replicas but they seemed quite real.
Few minutes after 7.30 the house lights went off and among the audience's cheering and clapping (by the way, Budapest Arena always has a great audience, tonight was sold out, too, this means cca. 8,000 people) a voice announced: 'Ladies and gentlemen please welcome on stage The Delmonts... featuring Mr. Chris Rea!'
And they came on stage: Robert (finally without his baseball-cap), Neil and Martin were in black, Colin and Chris wore Delmonts T-shirts. Chris smiled and waved to the audience, rapidly got his guitar and they started to play. An LCD-TV was put on the edge of stage, showing the track titles, plus there were two huge video screens on each side of the stage which was surprising after that very simple set of the Farewell tour (no screens that time). So, The Delmonts played the followings:
-Dirty New Town
-008 Jimmy Bond
-BB Was A Comanche
-It's Behind You
Chris played the rhythm in the first four tracks while Robert played solos; they both played Fenders. The sound was excellent; we could hear all the instruments one by one and together as well, if you know what I mean. Chris jumped (!) and danced twist from the very first notes of Dirty New Town
, he smiled and laughed continuously though he was out of spotlight - Robert was in it. In Russian Roulette
the whole stage went into red light and Colin played a stunning bass solo for cca. two minutes! Then Chris played an amazing, long solo in BB Was A Comanche
then he changed his guitar to a red Hofner and they started playing the last Delmont track, It's Behind You
. Hearding some samples from the CD, this was my personal favourite and Chris didn't disappoint me with the live version. People began actually to dance!
Then the lights went off and guitar shaped blue neon lights shined above the stage. We saw Chris running to the edge of stage, throwing off his T-shirt and pulling his Jazze Blue one on. As he stood back in the middle starting playing I Can't Wait For Love
a deep blue neon The Hofner Bluenotes signal sparkled behind him and that great lamplight (used on Farewell Tour) descended slowly and stopped about 1,5 meters above him. He sang the song very passionately, his voice was in a great condition, so deep and smoky and hoarse - it was simply perfect. The audience liked the new songs (the first one was followed by Legacy Blues
), Chris fulfilled the lyrics with true emotions. The third track was Where the Blues Come From
, it sounded a bit different because of the Hofners but Chris did that amazing slide solo... maybe better than before.
Reaching the end of the song he changed his Hofner for a banjo and the band went into Josephine
without a break. It was played the Farewell-way but Chris sang it a bit different (no problem) and I really missed master Paul Hirsch... As Chris sang the first line the audience cheered that much you could hardly hear the second one! 'Now Josephine grew up...' hit me in the chest with those powerful notes; it was great to hear that version again.
A long solo came from Chris followed by words 'Well now, come on Easy Rider
, gimme something for my pain'. I think the track lasted about 8 minutes and Chris stopped simply standing behind the microphone about that time.
According to the programme I remembered Julia
was about to be the next one, so I waited for arpeggio-playing but Chris got his slide on and started to play something else... we tried to believe it's Julia but we only could be sure when he started singing 'Eyes so bright'. So yes, Julia is re-arranged, played completely different (again) and simply amazing. Chris jumped, smiled and danced a lot while doing it and he finished it with a three-minutes slide solo.
The next track lasted more than 10 minutes and it began with words 'This is the story'. While singing Stony Road
Chris gesticulated and made a lot of hand sings and body movements, it was extremely funny (especially 'dancing down'; he was like a pantomime artist) I saw Rod Stewart doing those movements before, but not CR! And during the solos - HE DANCED! Really, actually and indeed! Up and down the stage, doing great flicks on guitar and playing a lot with the audience, he danced twist and boogie. Then he smiled and beckoned to the audience and suddenly the lights flashed above us giving him a full view of audience and for a second he looked me in the eye (these are the moments I bless God for creating me 1,88 long)! I could really catch a glimpse from those smiling, piercing blue eyes! By the way, standing so close and watching him, I think he doesn't close his eyes completely when he sings, it seemed to me there was a very thin cut between the eyelids and he was actually watching us all the time.
Finishing Stony Road, Looking for the Summer
came which started with some sound effects (same way as on the album) reminding us of Let's Dance (the last scheduled track) for a couple of seconds and we actually got frightened; did he get bored or tired and decided to go away? But it turned to Looking..., and was fantastic, too, with a bit different singing, again.
The third new track The Shadow of A Fool
sounded great, and Chris sang that very emotionally once again. It reminded me of some of his recordings from the 90's.
During the cheering and clapping Chris got on his 25 years-old Fender called Pinky (remember her, do you?) who received a big new sticker on her body since we last saw her... and began to play Stainsby Girls
without the banjo-part but with a great slide solo. This track also lasted 15 minutes (approx. 10 minutes of solo); Chris did never-heard riffs while jumping with both feet up and down the stage - it was genuine, astonishing, amazing... please imagine some more superlatives here.
Then the whole stage went red and huge amounts of smoke flooded - we could see only Chris - so that was the time for The Road To Hell
... 15 minutes, again, and he went completely crazy doing the solos; he did boogie, twist, one-step-up one-step-back, both-feet jumping and turning round with an indeliable huge smile on his face and a glooming fire in his eyes. The audience didn't stop clapping, everyone nodded rhythmically faster and faster... then they finished, Chris took his guitar off, waved to us enthusiastically saying thank you and they stepped off. For two minutes.
By that time the blue neon Hofner Bluenotes signal was removed and the guitar-shaped lights went off, too. After that short break they came back for the encores starting with On the Beach
. When Chris got to the 'I say yea-ah, yea-e-ah' part he started to play with the audience. First he wanted to hear the sitting-sectors (putting us all to silence with a gesture) but they weren't at the top so he made some yawning/boring gestures towards them and started making us singing. It's funny but we didn't actually get what he wanted, because he said 'I say yeee-ah...' and we wanted to finish it like 'yeah-e-ah' but he didn't like it that much. He showed us it's horrrrrible.
Then he said on his very deep Luis Armstrong voice 'On the beach' and we laughed and repeated. He liked that, laughed too, and repeated that two more times - in deeper and deeper tones.
Well, we tried to pass the test.
After finishing On the Beach Chris got his other oldie-Fender called Bluey and began to play my all-time favourite Let's Dance
(different way, again, without the organ-part at the beginning and even faster). The black curtain behind fell down and a huge canvas appeared with at least 50 guitars painted on it; blue, orange, pink, green, yellow, purple and whatever you can imagine! All the lights went bright, too, so Chris could see all the people in the house. I think I had no more superlatives for describing that performance; we were clapping our hands and nodding our heads without a pause and dancing like there's no tomorrow - just like Chris did. After the first long solo he started to sing something like this: 'I'm out in the street... heading to the dance hall... a big man came... and he don't let me in... he said you're too old to dance... too old? maybe too short?! I can never be too old to dance! Let's dan-let's dan-let's dan-let's dance, etc.'
And he was dancing and laughing and waving and beckoning and sticking his tongue out (really)... and finally he did the last strum on his guitar, said huge thank you-s and waved us goodbye.
It's been the most amazing night I've lately had... I can tell you Chris is in better form than he was in the Farewell Tour, he's much happier, more enthusiastic and vivid, maybe he knows that we do not yet, maybe he doesn't have to leave big stages once again... I have a theory of it but that's for an other topic.
One thing I explored: Chris plays all the tracks twice: first with his hands and secondly with his face.
And believe me, he was four meters away, I saw the spark in his eyes... it's not that time yet.
I know it happened to be very long, so thank you if you have accompanied me till the end, I'm hoping I can give you a bit of the experience I had tonight.
I hope it will come out as a live DVD (I know it's kind of unlikely), I want to experience it again and again and again!!!
(And Bart, I send the picture of the tour-ticket as soon as I photographed it.)