Rock N Raise – An Evening With Andy Taylor And Friends @Wylam Brewery, Newcastle September 15 2021

As an ambitious teen learning his trade, Andy Taylor embedded himself in Tyneside’s adrenalised 70s music scene.

Goldie founder Dave Black was his first guitar teacher. Local legend Mal Lilley took Taylor on the road. 

And the Cullercoats kid who dreamed big even went on to work with brilliant bluesman Mick Whitaker before finding fame with Duran Duran.

Forty years down the line and it seems some things stay the same.

When Taylor agreed to play his first Newcastle show in 16 years, surrounding himself with proven local talent was the top priority.

And come showtime, the main man had assembled a crack band joyously reflecting the region’s long-held reputation for producing a conveyor belt of quality musicians.

In just three days Taylor and musical director Michael Lavery meticulously crafted a career-spanning set that exceeded expectations — energising and empowering a crowd craving that much-needed post-lockdown release.

Big hits, near misses, red hot funk and raucous rock filled the oh so welcoming Wylam Brewery.

And if it was all a far cry from those formative years behind the Cullercoats Crescent Club then the common thread was clear: Taylor’s enthusiasm and passion remains undiminished.

Still hungry. Still wild. And still determined to celebrate a special homecoming in style.

Tinkler, Taylor, Smouldering Si 

With more twists than a John le Carré thriller, this unique show kept the keenest of fans guessing.

Taylor hadn’t turned up to take things easy. Far from it.

Digging deep into his bulging back catalogue, the accomplished musician, songwriter and producer hand-picked a set spanning the decades and pushing the boundaries.

And if there were plenty of necessary nods to Duran’s crowd-pleasing early 80s heyday there were just as many surprise diversions down memory lane. 

A touching tribute to much-missed friend Robert Palmer manifested itself in a stirring rendition of Johnny And Mary.

Liam Fender, whose brother Sam was due to headline the This Is Tomorrow festival 100 yards down the road, took a break from the keys to contribute lead vocals.

And the top tinkler played Palmer to perfection alongside a visibly emotional Taylor.

Smooth as treacle six-stringer Craig Elliott drove home a deliciously funky take on The Power Station favourite Some Like It Hot.

And South Shields’ answer to Nile Rodgers proved to be the perfect foil for Taylor and special guest Luke Morley.

Morley the merrier

Thunder’s acclaimed guitarist had popped up alongside Spike earlier in the evening for a terrific acoustic turn.

But plugged in and pumped up, Morley was in magnificent form flanking a full-throttle Taylor.

A friendship forged during the recording of Thunder’s debut album 31 years ago has long since blossomed into an intuitive on-stage partnership.

Few would bet against Taylor and Morley collaborating in the future: blazing through I Might Lie, these kindred spirits were born to be wild…together.

Addicted To Love and a pre-encore treat featuring chart-busting classics Hungry Like A Wolf and Wild Boys would have been enough to bring the house down.

But a crazy cover of Delilah – referencing event founder Sir Graham Wylie – went down a treat before a star-studded version of Rio wrapped up a sensational night’s entertainment.

Hairy Biker Si King smouldered under the lights as he brought some bongo-fuelled Caribbean cool to the party.

And Lorraine Crosby, who made her name trading lyrics with the mighty Meat Loaf, joined forces with Jen Diehl and Lavery to add some serious vocal weight to a magical set closer.

‘Andy Work Supported By Famous Friends

Wylam’s working brewery doubles up as the backstage area on gig nights.

And special guest Spike really could organise a piss up in a brewery. Very effectively indeed.

In fact, he’d be on a shortlist of one if Wylam boss Dave Stone ever decided to advertise the role.

And so it was all the more remarkable that the Quireboys’ frontman emerged from temptation, and from behind a bunch of kettles, kegs and fermentation tanks, to get the party started.

A perfectly pitched acoustic set hit all the right notes with a fast-filling crowd lapping up the singer’s heady mix of folky favourites and Geordie anthems.

Straight man Morley proved to be the perfect foil for faux comic Spike and took his introduction as the singer from Terrapin (rather than Terraplane) with typically good grace.

There was mention of Gazza. A tribute to Gateshead. And a sparkling version of Lindisfarne’s Run For Home as the home crowd quickly warmed to one of their own.

Crosby joined Spike, Morley and the classy Chris Heilmann, formerly of Shark Island, to perform the evocative Frankie Miller song Fortune before an impromptu version of Blaydon Races threatened to rip up the running order.

Calm restored, Crosby raced through a set of punchy classic rock favourites in anticipation of Taylor’s return. 

And what a return. A first Tyneside show in 16 years. £16,000 raised for charity. And a smile as wide as the Tyne beaming out from beneath those trademark shades. 

Images by Simon Williams at Crest Photography

A limited number of exclusive T-shirts and posters from the Andy Taylor Rock N Raise gig are available here