The Sage Centre, Gateshead - Friday 2nd June ’06

Caroline, Hartlepool, NE England......
This is a long overdue review of a fantastic night out. It was June 2nd at his Sage concert in Gateshead. It was my first experience of Brian in person, and I wrote this for my American friend who couldn't be there herself and wanted all the gory details, so apologies for it's length, but she persuaded me this was a good place to come and gush.......

The evening started out very well - I ate my meal gazing directly at Brian! Not in a scary stalker kind of way, I promise!! We just happened to eat in the same place he and the band did. I was amazed at how handsome he is - photos and TV really don't do him justice!!  And I was pleased to see he smiles and laughs constantly!!! And what a smile!!!!! I was hooked long before he set foot on stage - but when he did he totally blew me away!!!!!

It was a concert unlike any I've been to before.  The stage was black, the backdrop was a plain black curtain, and all that was on stage were 4 men and an array of instruments. But from the second Brian opened his mouth, you didn't need anything else - you were absolutely captivated!! He opened with 'Now that I know what I want' - complete with the same pelvic thrust dance he does on 'Live in Belfast ' as he sings "I'm gonna give it to you" - that always makes me laugh!!! And then went straight into another song (sorry - don't know what!!). Then he started talking, and we all moved from captivated to absolute adoration!!!!! He's just so sweet and funny!!! He said, "Now I'm going to sing a sad song. I do that a lot! In fact if I'm honest I'm only happy when I'm singing sad songs. I don't like to admit it, but it's true! Some songs are disguised as happy......this one starts off sounding really happy but then oooohhhhhhh!!!!" And then he sang "Curragh of Kildare" - and he was absolutely right!!!

After that, he said "It was all going so well! But our monitors have just gone off." And one of the other guys said "all the power's gone". Brian told us there'd been a power surge, and it was all our fault - we'd obviously got overexcited! It turned out that the mics still worked, but everything else had blown. And this was the point where he really started to show his class! He said "oh well, I'll just have to sing acoustically", so he borrowed someone else's mic for his guitar, and he did the most beautiful rendition of ' Christopher Street ' you'll ever hear!!! I'm very grateful the power did go - I'm a sucker for acoustic music done well, and this was done very well indeed!! They got the instruments working fine, but I think they struggled with the monitors all the way through - Brian kept signalling that he couldn't hear the others - but like I say, he's got talent to spare - he was incredible!!

I can't remember what order, but he did 'A Better Man', 'The Reason We Are Here', 'Crazy Love', 'Homebird', 'Go With My Heart', 'If You Don't Believe in Me' and 'Every Song is a Cry For Love'.  'Crazy Love' was hilarious!! He sang it brilliantly of course, and encouraged the audience to sing the chorus to him, then he started talking to us (only kind of singing the words - he does that a lot!! In fact my sister wondered aloud whether he ever accidentally does it during normal conversation!!! LOL) Anyway, he reckons all audiences he ever looks out at have something in common. Ladies always look all mellow, and sway happily, and sing along and look like they're really happy, lost in thoughts about work, kids and mortgages. And the men all sit like this [mimes sitting arms folded with a big frown]. "And what you don't realise is that I can read minds. I can see all these invisible thought bubbles above all the men's heads. And the first one always reads "who the hell is this guy? I'm only here cos she made me come!" And then that bubble disappears and another one takes its place, and this one reads "His voice is way too high for a guy!!!" But hey, I can only work with what I've got!" The audience cheered appreciatively and he laughed and said "yeah, and next week on 'Fishing for compliments'....."!!!

Before '...cry for love', he said "I was in a little place called Athens recently. I tell you I won't forget that in a hurry! I've never been so rehearsed in my life!!!" And he did the down on one knee bit in the 3rd verse - although he laughed and raised his eyebrows as if to say - see, all that rehearsing paid off!!!!

At one point someone shouted "will you come for a curry Brian?" to which he laughed, and asked if we have good curries up here. A man shouted "not as good as the 'Curry of Kildare' which really amused him. He said that joke needed to be shared, and repeated it to everyone. Then he decided he's going to use it again - in fact was anyone going to Manchester the next night? One group said yes, and he said "well I warn you, tomorrow night I'm going to use that joke, and I'm going to claim I made it up. OK?"

About 10pm , he said "OK, I'll tell you what's going to happen now - we're going to do another song, and then we're going to pretend it's the end, we'll walk off, but really we'll only be standing over there! And we'll pretend we've got a radio message saying "they're ripping the seats up and refusing to leave!" You see, I've done Athens now, I've been spoilt!" Then they did '...Short life'. It started out sad, but then he went all rocky with it - I loved it!!!!!

And sure enough, they all went off, then he came back alone. Everyone started requesting 'Ballad of Killaloe' - we're not totally sure whether that was what he was planning on doing anyway, but he did. He introduced it "you know sometimes you just love someone. You'll see them in the street or across a room and you just know that they're the one". Someone shouted "it's you Brian" and he laughed, and said "oh you should see me first thing in a morning" to which she shouted "yes please!!!" That threw him and he had to turn away while he composed himself!!!  Bless him. Then he got back on track and said, "anyway sometimes that love is unrequited. Sometimes you love someone but you realise that they just don't love you back. And they're never going to. And it's just, like, oh get over it! So this is my 'get over it' song"! And then he sang it - and ooohhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!! It was heartbreaking!!!!!! But at the end he changed it. After the "Today I drove to Killaloe and I missed you" he went on to sing "so I changed the radio station, but unfortunately......." And then he started singing this song which I adore - 'Dry Your Eyes' by The Streets........I tell you, it sent shivers down my spine!!!!!! Then he went on to change the channel again looking for something happy, but could only find....a song I don't know so I can't tell you anything about it except that he said it's by Eddi Reader. Then eventually he got back on track and did the "pull yourself together" bit. It wasn't what I was expecting - but it was breathtaking!!!!!!!!

Then it really was the end, he said "I'm often asked if I get bored of singing any songs? Well I don't, cos this next song, tonight is the very first time I'll sing it here, now, for you. Does that make any sense? No, probably not. But at least I know what I'm talking about!" He mentioned George Best's funeral and how honoured he was to be invited to sing, and the he did 'You Raise Me Up' a capella - oooooohhhhhhh!!!!! What can I say???  It was everything you'd expect it to be and more!!!!!!!!! Amazing!!!!!!!!!

And then he invited us to say hello before we left, promised to dry off before he came out cos he was "very damp" and off he went!!!!!!!  I hadn't intended to waste his time, but seeing as he'd asked so nicely......and to be honest, by that point I was so smitten I'd have done pretty much anything he'd asked!!!!

So what I was expecting to be a beautiful, poignant, but slightly depressing concert (I'd only heard those sad songs previously) turned out to be one of the best I've ever seen!!!!! He's beautiful and poignant and all those things, but such a great entertainer at the same time!!! I definitely totally underestimated him!!!!!

Do you get the impression I enjoyed it??? LOLOL