Bob Catley

Trillians, Newcastle

January 21, 1999

Bob was at Trillians in Newcastle on Thursday night. Yes, Trillians. A bit of a come-down from City Hall.

He's doing a solo tour (i.e. not with Tony). I don't know if you've heard the album The Tower, but it's brilliant. The songs are written by Gary Hughes and they really suit Bob's voice. I don't know his other work (he was in a band called Ten), but he writes like Tony Clarkin in 1985. Nobody writes songs as good as Tony Clarkin's, but Tony says he's never going to write a Storyteller's again and this Hughes bloke has had a really good stab at it.

Anyway, Bob is backed by a Canadian band called Emerald Rain. They come on first and play a set of their own material (reasonable 80s hard rock, not brilliant but good enough), then they come back on as Bob's backing band (also joined by Hard Rain's keyboard player Paul Hodson). Very odd arrangement, but it works pretty well and I guess it saves transport costs if you're your own support band!

Sooo.... I got to Trillians early and sat on my own right by the stage while they assembled the drum kit. And I wished I was meeting Stuart there and going on to watch them at City Hall, but ah well... nostalgia...

The best part was: Bob was wandering around the bar with a pint, talking to people. He signed my ticket then later (after I found the merchandising) he signed a copy of the CD they were selling. He also answered a variety of dumb questions, such as:

Tony's writing the next HR album.

Mickey is in a skiffle/hill-billy band (this may have been a joke).

Mark isn't doing anything.

Wally is the manager of an old people's home (this may also have been a joke).

Next Hard Rain album in April, followed by a tour.

The reason they don't play Newcastle any more is because promoters don't ask them and they can't play in the street.

He's 51 (I didn't ask this question!)

He's very happy with the turn-out (we think 2-300 people). He really didn't know if anyone would turn up at all. Well, how could he know?

He likes playing pubs better than big halls (hmmmm...)

He thinks The Tower is his best work in ten years.

Anyway, then he was off to sound check (which we all watch, of course, as the stage was there three feet away from us).

I bought the t-shirt, and a CD (which he later signed). The woman selling the merchandise was Annie (who does the Hard Rain web site) and I completely ignored Paul Hodson (sitting next to her) and just talked to her about the web site. Oh dear...

Then the Emerald Rain set. Pretty good. I bought their CD too. (It's not that good but I was caught up in the atmosphere. Actually, it is pretty good. I'm listening to it quite a lot now.)

Then Bob's set. He played about one hour 15 minutes. He played almost the entire solo album, plus Lonely Night, Storyteller's Night and Start Talking Love. Then Just Like an Arrow for an encore. And he was just... well, Bob. You know what he's like. It was a tiny stage so there was no charging round but he's still a total poser. And he still has one of the best voices ever. Nobody else conveys emotion in their voice like Bob Catley can. He got off the stage and danced with all the girls and sang a duet with some guy in the audience... and I think he had a really good time. The crowd loved him. The whole thing was like a party. And he thanked everyone in the universe (including his mom). And he promised to come back to Newcastle with Hard Rain.

So. Well.

It was the best concert I have ever been to.