Jefferson Starship live at The Artrix, Bromsgrove, Wednesday 29 January, 2014
Since she was a young teenager, one of my wife’s favourite records has been Jane — a 1979 hit by Jefferson Starship. Over the past 35 years, Sue has oftentimes spontaneously burst into anguished song — 'Jane you're playin’ a game you never can win, girl!' —so, when we heard that Jefferson Starship were coming to nearby Bromsgrove, how could we resist?
Jefferson Starship grew out of the seminal psychedelic band Jefferson Airplane whose 1967 album Surrealistic Pillow featured the classic singles White Rabbit'and Somebody to Love. The history of the band (from the 1960s Jefferson Airplane to the 1970s Jefferson Starship, with a further continuation in the 1980s as Starship) is complicated and we weren’t sure who, if any, of the original members would be in evidence.) It seems the current line-up includes two original Airplaners (David Freiburg also of Quicksilver Messenger Service fame) and Paul Kantner. Sadly, the latter was too ill to join the tour so Freiburg was the only authentic aviator aboard this particular incarnation of the starship.
The band was fronted by the powerful presence of Cathy Richardson, sporting a fantastic rock voice and leggings with an interestingly ecclesiastical, stained-glass window design. (I’ve since discovered, as well as being a singer, Cathy is a graphic artist and clothing designer, about to launch a line of hand-dyed organic cotton yoga pants, so that might account for it.) Jude Gold — virtuoso lead guitarist — is also a man of many parts. When he’s not playing with Jefferson Starship he’s the Los Angeles editor of Guitar Player magazine. Overcoming a few problems with microphones and monitors, David Freiburg (who incidentally co-wrote Jane), at 75 years of age and still singing beautifully, shows that it probably pays to practice Buddhism and to live in California. Airplane fans were treated to a fine selection including White Rabbit and Somebody To Love while fans of the later 70s music were delighted with exhilarating versions of Miracles and Count On Me as well as, much to my wife's obvious joy, Jane. Cathy thrashed a cow bell with a rolling pin and David beamed beatifically. And so did we.