Newport Arms Hotel, 18th April 2015
When you hear the name Richard Clapton, you associate it with warm summer nights, lying on the beach and enjoying a few beers with friends, when life was less complicated. For those of us who remember the good old days, Saturday night at the Newport Arms Hotel took us back to those times.
Richard Clapton has always had a strong connection with the Northern beaches and a long performing history at the Newport Arms. Set in a truly beautiful and picturesque setting with stunning water views, Saturday night’s gig at the Arms was filled to capacity and saw the crowd overflow to the beer garden and beyond with patrons taking up all vantage points possible.
As 6pm approached, anticipation filled the air and it was with much excitement that Richard took to the stage with his band in the specially constructed marquee. Performing with Richard tonight was Franco Raggatt on lead guitar, Michael Barbara on keyboards and backing vocals, Mick Skelton on drums. As the band plugged in their instruments, it was soon apparent that Richard had issues with his guitar. Roadies hurriedly appeared on stage to sort out the problem, during which time, Richard took the opportunity to take a few selfies with a couple of enthusiastic female fans at the front of stage.
After a minor delay, the concert commenced to rapturous applause. Spanning songs from his full repertoire, hit after hit followed, including such classics as ‘Deep Water’, ‘High Society’, ‘Girls on the Avenue’, ‘Glory Road’ and ‘Ace of Hearts’ just to mention a few, and including the songs ‘Dancing with the Vampires’ and ‘Vapour Trails’, both taken from Richard’s latest album Harlequin Nights.
Richard’s alter ego, ‘Ralph’, was in fine voice and has rarely sounded better. His delivery and stage presence has been perfected over the years and he was clearly enjoying himself with his band of accomplished musicians.
Mick Skelton, with a drum kit consisting of just snare, bass drum, hi-hats and 2 cymbals produced a sound that many other drummers could not reproduce with a full kit. Franco Raggatt is a phenomenal guitarist. Listening to him play his Fender Stratocaster is just pure pleasure. The lead breaks were superb and his bending of those strings produces such a beautiful sound that completely takes you away to another place. A total joy. Michael Barbara on keyboards and backing vocals rounded off the band nicely. The band were tight and produced a full and complete sound.
After performing for a solid 1 hour 30 minutes, Richard thanked the crowd and left the stage genuinely elated. This was a free concert and the large crowd were totally into it. but Richard had stirred them into a frenzy and nobody was ready to go home just yet! The “we want more” chant grew louder and louder over the next minute or so until Richard relented and came back on stage. He commented “we weren’t really prepared for this but we’ll give it a go”. The band then proceeded to play ‘I am an Island’ which went down particularly well and Richard thanked the crowd and once again left the stage.
The adulation of the crowd was genuine and most were surprised when Richard and Michael (keyboard) came back on stage to perform ‘The best years of our lives’ for a second encore. The jubilant crowd were in fine voice and when they were asked to sing the chorus by Richard they enthusiastically responded. The sound was magnificent and heartfelt. As Richard exited the stage he misjudged his footing and had a tumble between the stairs and marquee but thankfully was not hurt. Most artists would now gracefully retire for the night, but Richard dusted himself off and was encouraged to once again come back on stage.
Returning to the stage, he said with a smile on his face “I can’t believe it. I just fell off the stage” to which most of the crowd were oblivious. There had been many loud calls from the audience over the last 10 minutes for ‘Goodbye Tiger’ and it was only fitting that what the crowd wants, the crowd gets, so ‘Goodbye Tiger’ aptly became the final song of the night.
A very memorable and enjoyable evening.
Since the 1970’s Richard Clapton has been a stalwart of pub culture and has performed at this venue on numerous occasions. A mutual heartfelt affection exists and the Newport Arms has always supported liveAustralian music and continues to do so. To provide free entertainment of this calibre is to be commended.
As we drove home down the Palm Beach Road, I wasn’t drunk and fortunately, the car did go! We leave this chapter of ‘The Party That Never Ends’, looking forward to the next chapter which will reconvene at The State Theatre on August 15th, when Richard will take us to his next party, ‘The Lone Voyager, Songs and Stories from The Best Years Of Our Lives’.
So, as we look forward to our next chapter of ‘The Party That Never Ends’, I would like to conclude with one of Richard’s affectionate quotes…
‘Peace and Love Hippies’
Vlad Pocuca and Adrian Alders (photos)
see more photos here