the blues band, Doncaster Civic theatre: When five massive musical talents come together, each bursting with creativity and boundless enthusiasm enhanced by a lifetime’s experience, the resulting laid-back, virtuosic outpourings are pure, sweet joy. It’s over 30 years since Manfred Mann’s Paul Jones and Tom McGuinness first formed The Blues Band, yet today, many, many albums later, the music remains as exciting as ever. OK, the persistent plugging of new CD A Few Short Lines, older CDs and Paul’s Radio 2 show did irritate in the first half, but it did manage to drill up custom throughout the entire interval as the chaps manned their stall, signing every copy! For blues’ fans compiling wish-lists of what might await them in Heaven, Dave Kelly’s slide guitar and Paul Jones’ harmonica must feature high. Impressing already with the same smart, slimline frame and distinctive voice of his youth and those charmingly suave, well-spoken ‘Nigel Havers’ tones, Jones truly takes the breath away with his phenomenal mastery of the harmonica. In slow, smoky, smouldering blues, in shimmering, register-leaping wails and chugs, a heavenly thrill is never absent, as in his 1966 tribute to Sonny Boy Williamson and in Blue Collar, while Dave Kelly’s slide treats hold everyone equally rapt. Paul, Dave, Gary and Tom took turns to feature solos, songs and own compositions, while drummer Rob Townsend saved his weighty solo for the end, when Tom McGuinness reminded us he plays a mean guitar even behind his head. We didn’t quite get the fully-heated, five-star verve of two years ago when the band last appeared here, but maybe that’s down to a slightly less hyped up audience. Magnificent, though!
Eileen Caiger Gray
St Mary’s Primary School, Tickhill, Tickhill music society concert: The Society got off to a cracking start with the Erato Piano Trio. Their name is the Muse of Love Poetry from Greek mythology. There was plenty of love for music and poetry in execution but also much more; in particular some close team work and balanced ensemble. This was especially remarkable because Simon Watterton had replaced the indisposed regular pianist at very short notice. He instantly integrated into the team as though he had been with them for years. Amazing! The Trio No. 39 by Haydn was full of his geniality and invention, the lyrical slow movement being followed by the final Rondo played with blistering pace and drive, its Hungarian influence accounting for the nickname of the Gypsy Trio. In contrast the Trio by Fauré was more reflective. The first movement lyrical and intense, the second a beautiful singing melody and shifting light and shade. The finale was angular and rich in rhythmic complexity. A fine achievement for an old man beginning to go deaf. Both works were introduced by the founder of the group Julia Morneveg. The pianist introduced Beethoven’s monumental ‘Archduke’ Trio Opus 97, one of his finest chamber works. The four movements ranged from the nobility of the first with its interesting pizzicato section, the sprightly Scherzo, the tragic theme and variations of the third movement all rounded off with the brisk finale. A fitting conclusion to a superb concert played with sensitivity, commitment and musicianship by this impressive team. The top quality of the Music Society’s concerts continues which augurs well for the rest of the season.
Safecracker - The story of Britain’s Most Notorious Peterman by Michael Fowler and Giles Brierley: The murky world of the gangster throughout the past has always held a fascination to the general public who hold a sneaking respect for the profession despite the sometimes violent actions which accompany the activity. But how many know about South Yorkshire’s very own Albert Hattersley? I can hear the comment already “Who?” But this discerningly modest safe cracker who learnt his trade after pulling safes out of bombed out buildings in the city of Sheffield and practised blowing them up in nearby woods, has an intriguing story to tell. He went on to commit some of the biggest and audacious safe blowing jobs in the country. Building a reputation for efficiently dealing with security devices over the years that reputation went far beyond his home patch and came to the attention of London’s feared underworld with gangs searching him out and offering jobs in the big city, at one time working for one of the biggest post war time bosses Billy Hill. His exploits made him famous in certain circles, so famous in fact that even the security services approached him to help steal top secret documents. Safecracker is indeed an amazing peek into the life of this gentleman who spent time in Dartmoor, mixed with the hardest of criminals and committed some audacious thefts. Serious stuff indeed, but local author Giles Brierly and ex-policeman Michael Fowler have done a superb job of mingling all this dubious nationwide activity and well known criminal names with some incredibly humorous incidents which leave the reader chuckling. The details of his home life, near misses with the boys in blue and dodgy associates are told with almost a twinkle in the eye throughout the good times and the bad. At 90 years old he felt the time was right for him to share his story with others. The reader will recognise or remember the many locations especially pubs, mentioned in the pages whether it be in Sheffield, Doncaster, Mexborough, the names of some of the people who helped him along the way will certainly ring a bell with many. Perhaps the name of Albert Hattersley isn’t all that well known, but the claim that he is one of the country’s most notorious petermen just cannot be denied. The 272 page book, which has seven pages of photographs is available from Waterstones priced £9.95