IF THE DEVIL
CAST HIS NET ... Oh what a catch he'd make 

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GIG REPORTS 2017

Rogers personal view of the gigs he has attended
Not all are Rock'n'Roll - Roger likes all live entertainment

Disclaimer: All the views expressed herein (unless otherwise ascribed) are those of the author and may
be unsuitable for overly sensitive persons of low esteem, or irrational religious beliefs. Any attempt
to sue me over the contents will constitute an irritating social faux pas.

                       


2017

Saturday 18th November 2017
THE JACKIE LYNTON BAND were supporting CHAS & DAVE at The Camberley Theatre,  in Camberley.

On Saturday afternoon I collected Trisha and  Spud Metcalfe and we drove over to Camberley - at last, a local gig, all of seven miles away. We met up with Colin Pattenden, Mike Windus and Jackie Lynton backstage at The Camberley TheatreChris Bryant and Adam Russell had evidently been there earlier, set up their gear and sloped off to find a beer. Also there early were Claire Windus and her son. The theatre was not only already sold out, but there was a substantial waiting list for any last minute cancellations! We were soon joined by Neil Hill (super fan) and Jacks daughter Janine and her partner Dan. Later my Fran and Jacky Pattenden arrived - all of these guests had to be accommodated in the wings because there were no complimentary seats left. Last, but not least, Vanessa Lynton and one of her friends had managed to get out to see the show - impressive as Vanessa has been undergoing chemo and radio therapy for the last few weeks and could not be expected to feel on top of the World. Chas Hodges, Nik Hodges and Dave Peacock were all there in time for the soundcheck, which Steve-the-Sound conducted efficiently and flawlessly.  I managed to line almost the entire crew up for a photograph, but Jack Lynton slipped away to the dressing room at the last moment, so it wasn't quite a full house. Hopefully I'll get another opportunity to get a complete gang line-up at one of the remaining four gigs in this tour. During one of my forays out to the foyer to discuss stuff with Nick, the theatre manager, I was pleased to run into Keith-the-Stalker - so at least I know somebody will be reading this stuff!  The show kicked off on time with Chas introducing Jackie. It is turning out to be an interesting tour being the "supporting act" - the audience haven't paid to come and see Jack, and often there is a lot of traffic in and out of the theatre by ardent Chas'n'Dave fans who are more interested in the bar than in watching a support band. This was the first venue of the dozen or so we have done so far where the bar was closed during the performance, and it was noticeable that this closure significantly reduced the amount of traffic in the audience. I am always impressed that Dave particularly, but also Chas, often spend a lot of time in the wings watching Jack's performance, which is nice because they can personally appreciate that Jacks session is a brilliant warm-up for their show (which may earn us some more gigs with them in the future). Jack had a bit of a sore throat this week, but he put on a great show. And although he has been very worried about Vanessa's health, he is a consummate professional and puts on a brave face and entertains as if nothing was wrong. This particular audience loved Jack - not only because the bar was closed! but possibly because he is a well know local entertainer and probably had a few more of his own fans in the audience than usual. The Jackie Lynton Band section went down well, and although we only watched the first four numbers as Chas, Dave and Nik started their show before we set off into the night, it was evident that their show was being really well received by the fans.  Another benefit of a really local gig was that we were home for tea way before Chas'n'Dave had even got as far as Rabbit Rabbit - the penultimate number of their act!  Another four gigs to go on this tour, next week is Yeovil - a bit of a longer journey!
 

The Chas'n'Dave Tour team.
l-r: Steve (sound); Chas Hodges; Nik Hodges; Spud Metcalfe;
Colin Pattenden; Mike Windus; Chris Bryant; Dave Peacock;
Adam Russell; and Roger Cooper (me)
Sadly absent from this picture was Jackie Lynton himself
.

 

Fran McGillivray Band at The Red Lion

Sunday 12th November 2017
THE FRAN McGILLIVRAY BAND were performing at The Red Lion,  Old Stevenage.

Making a bit of a change from Chas n Dave gigs, we drove up to Stevenage on Sunday to see our friends Fran McGillivray, Mike Burke and Roger Nunn performing at The Red Lion in the Old Town. Back in the early sixties I lived not far from Stevenage and this pub was a rendezvous point for Mods on scooters to assemble before we would trek off down the road to The Mecca Ballroom to see whatever band was on there. Its main attractions then were a copious yard which accommodated the scooters and a propensity not to ask whether we were old enough to buy beer. Nowadays - fifty years later - the pub is a nice little gig in its own right, but it has a very loud sound system for "background" music - which is significantly higher than the volume of the bands performing.  We were pleased to be joined by Dave Lewis in the audience and by Roger Nunns' partner, Maria; but unfortunately we could only stay until the beginning of the second set - so we only had half the enjoyment. Despite this we hugely enjoyed the first set which was excellent with a lot of high points. Frans rendition of Big Mama Thorntons' Hound Dog is one of my favourites, as is Mikes presentation of Mercury 49.  Their arrangements of Route 66 and Not Fade Away are great as well. They peppered their set with some of their own work including Hard Working Woman and When When When.
Unfortunately we had to leave before The Fran McGillivray Band got into its second set, but we listened to Fran& Mike CDs all the way home to Bracknell as a sort of compensation!
 

 

Saturday 4th November 2017
THE JACKIE LYNTON BAND were supporting CHAS & DAVE at The Gordon Craig Theatre,  Stevenage.

On Saturday afternoon I collected Jackie Lynton, Mike Windus and Spud Metcalf in Bracknell and we set out to drive up to Stevenage. We arrived about the same time as Adam Russell, Chris Bryant and Sarah-Jane; and were quickly joined by Jacky and Colin Pattenden.  Steve the sound engineer was already there, having had to arrive extra early because he had to bring his own PA system (all the way from Devon). Although the gig was advertised as "The Gordon Craig Theatre", it was in fact in the Main Hall - which is a much larger venue, downstairs from the actual theatre; and which amazingly does not have it's own Public Address system!  Unusually, Nik Hodges, Chas Hodges and Dave Peacock all arrive separately - this was a local gig for Chas Hodges because he lives only a few miles from Stevenage.  Joan and Chas Hodges arrived just after five o'clock with their granddaughter (who manages the merchandise stall). Chas and I did our admin (exchanging invoices and cheques) and had a long chat about our common friends and acquaintances, Keith Woods, Zoot Money and the late Dave (Screaming Lord) Sutch. I didn't see Dave Peacock arrive, but I caught up with him in the dressing room just before soundcheck.  (picture right of Dave and Chris talking guitars backstage.)  Just as Chas & Dave's soundcheck was concluding I received a text from my old school friends Dave & Lesley, who had tickets for the show and had arrived outside. I met them and took them into the hall to watch Jackie Lynton's soundcheck, and then left them talking with Jacky Pattenden as the hall doors opened to the general public.  Jack Lynton's part of the show was good, the band were very tight, and although Jack was in good singing form, he had been constantly clearing his throat on the journey up from Bracknell and had a bit of a cough.  I think he was glad to get off stage afterwards. With the help of a small army of stage hands we cleared the stage during the interval - all a little bit public as there were no curtains. I found my way into the audience to say goodbye to Dave & Lesley before nipping back to the dressing room to wish loads of luck to Chas, Dave and Nik as they went on stage.  We set off home to the strains of London Girls leaking out into the cold Stevenage night air.  Another fun gig notched up.
 

Dave & Chris backstage

 

The dressing room at The 100 Club

Sunday 29thOctober 2017
RAY PHILLIPS and ZOOT MONEY were among guest artists at Tales From The Woods at The 100 Club  London

On Sunday afternoon I drove over to Weybridge to pick up Ray Phillips, his son Wesley, and friend Matt. We drove into London to park up in Berners Mews behind Oxford Street to soundcheck for the evenings gig at the 100 Club, which is situated at 100 Oxford Street, London. There we met up with John Spenceley (lead guitar) and Claire Hamlin (keyboards) and the rest of the amazing Tales From The Woods Band. The band is named for Keith Woods, who is the brains and organisation behind this amazing series of concerts by a variety of excellent artists, mainly from UK and USA and from the late fifties or early sixties. In addition to Ray Phillips, the other guest singers at this event were Zoot Money, and Earl Jackson. In addition, specially flown in from America for the gig, we were privileged to meet  Tommy Hunt and the famous "Doo-wop" band The Velvet Candles. As we approached the stage door we were met by Perry Smith, an avid fan of celebrity and a good mate of The Nashville Teens from previous gigs. Perry is a proper London cabbie and for this gig he had a formal role as the chauffeur for The Velvet Candles and Earl Jackson. The sound check went well and we had a fun afternoon getting to know each other and posing for pictures with the fans. It is twenty years since I last went backstage at The 100 Club (and and 52 years since I first visited the club) and the changing room has been altered, making it even smaller! The gig started with Earl Jackson, who is a great performer in the mould of Chuck Berry - a very dynamic act, and an amazingly nice guy. Next up was Ray Phillips who in addition to his regular numbers sang Whole Lot Of Shakin Goin' On and Need Your Love So Bad. He had planned to sing Parchman Farm, but it didn't work well in the sound check so it was dropped in favour of Route 66. After Ray the stage was taken by Zoot Money, another lovely guy left over from the sixties. His set was great - very reminiscent of his original "Big Roll Band" style.  The Velvet Candles were next up on stage; they delivered basic American Doo-Wop  very professionally (apparently they normally have a girl singer with them as well, but tonight was just the four guys in harmony). Ray and I left about half way through their set in order to get ourselves something to eat. We had seen Tommy Hunt in rehearsals so  we decided that rather than return to The 100 Club after dinner, we would head for home. An excellent evening with some major talent backed by an amazing group of session musicians.

 

           

        Ray Phillips & Zoot Money                                             Earl Jackson                                                                     Ray on stage                                                              Tommy Hunt & Ray Phillips

  

Sunday 22nd October 2017
THE JACKIE LYNTON BAND were supporting CHAS & DAVE at The New Victoria Theatre, Woking.

The 2017 tour with Chas n Dave resumed on Sunday. This time quite locally at The New Victoria Theatre at Woking. Fran and I had bought tickets for this way back last Christmas, before I knew that we were going to be involved in the tour. Since then Chas has had his cancer treatment, the tour has been deferred six months and then all come back together again with Jack Lynton opening; so it turns out that I didn't actually need my ticket. Instead we gave it to Jacky; and because Fran and Jacky were there for the duration, instead of only watching a few numbers from side stage before going home, I got to watch all of Chas and Dave's bit of the show from the sound desk. Fran came separately because she doesn't like hanging around during sound checks, so I left home earlier at four o'clock to collect Spud Metcalfe and his wife Trisha. We got to the New Victoria Theatre by five o'clock in comfortable time for the show preparations. There we met up with Jackie Lynton, Michael Windus, Colin Pattenden, Chris Bryant and Adam Russell. In the dressing room were Sarah-Jane, Claire Windus, Chris's friend Steffi and Vanessa Lynton. Chas Hodges, Dave Peacock , Nik Hodges and Joan Hodges arrived shortly afterwards, and Steve the sound man had already set up the stage and auditorium sound.  Out in the foyer I met up with my Fran and Jacky, and with some regular Jack Lynton fans. Backstage I was introduced to Sylvia Clapton - a friend of Adam Russell, and Eric Clapton's auntie. The show was terrific - and being local, I have never seen the theatre wings so crowded with family and friends. In the break after Jacks session I went out into the auditorium to see Fran and Jacky, and found our good friend Colin Earl (keyboards, Mungo Jerry) in the audience. When I spoke to him afterwards he had been enthralled by Chas's keyboard skills. This was the third of these gigs which I have stayed right to the end of, and I think the show is brilliant - well balanced and entertaining as well as being a master session in musical skills.  Even after staying to the end, I was home before eleven o'clock - because this gig was really local to home - a feat unheard of for most regular gigs.
 

Dave Peacock and Vanessa Lynton discussing horses

 

Sue (promoter) with Chas and Dave on Friday

Friday 13th and Saturday 14th October 2017
THE JACKIE LYNTON BAND were supporting CHAS & DAVE at The St Albans Arena, St Albans and The Harlequin Theatre at Redhill.

 Friday and Saturday saw a resumption of the Chas n Dave tour. The Friday gig was at St Albans, at The Arena. I met up with Jackie Lynton, Mike Windus and Spud Metcalf in the car park at Bracknell's Birch Hill car park and we drove up to St Albans. Despite the Friday night rush hour we were only five minutes later than planned and soon found our way into the Arena.  We are now becoming used to the sensation that most of the fun and banter is backstage. On Friday we met Sue - who is the tour promoters local agent in St Albans. The house (seating 850) was a sell out and the early start at seven thirty meant that we (The support band) were off stage and packed up by half past eight, and it was local enough that we were home by about half past nine. In fact Mike Windus was in time to go to see another gig that evening!  On Saturday I collected Spud Metcalf and we drove down to Godalming to collect Mike Windus, a bit of a dogs leg back to Old Woking to collect Jack Lynton, and then off round the M25 to Redhill.  The Harlequin Theatre is a strange little place, situated upstairs above Sainsbury supermarket!  Access is by a very noisy lift - which we were not allowed to use during performances, so to exit during the break between the warm-up and the Chas n Dave show we had to manhandle all the amplifiers and instruments out through the stage door and down two flights of stairs to the car park at the back of the theatre! This show was also a sell out, and although the auditorium only seated about five hundred it was a very lively crowd. Jackie Lynton wrote several of Status Quo's hits; and The Jackie Lynton Band were scheduled to be playing at the annual Status Quo Convention at Butlins Minehead the following night.  Because of this most of the band wanted to make an early getaway and drive the two hundred mile journey to Minehead that night, but Mike Windus had elected to make the journey on Sunday morning, so he and I stayed to see the first part of the Chas n Dave show - specifically because Chas had asked me to video their tribute to Harry Champion (Music Hall singer, famous for "Any old Iron") which Chas wanted to mail it to a friend of his.  Mike and I left soon after I had completed that task, and were home soon after ten o'clock.
Looking forward to the next gig which is at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking - a really local gig for us.
 

 
Sunday 8th October 2017
We visited the Swanage Blues Festival to see The Jawbreakers playing at The Ship Inn in Swanage

This weekend was the Swanage Blues Festival - a twice yearly event (March and October) at which our friend George Leslie Calvert usually manages to play with at least one of the many bands he flirts with. We found George - better known to his stage public simply as "Les Calvert" - standing in the middle of the road outside The Ship Inn, wondering where to move his car to after unloading all his base gear. He was with his partner Stephanie (who I have known since she was fourteen and whom introduced me to Fran back in 1968).  While he went and faffed about with his car, Fran, Stephanie and I went to inspect the view across the sea to Bournemouth and the Isle of Wight. It was a wonderfully clear autumn day with blue skies and was even quite warm in the sunshine.   I had never seen The Jawbreakers before, they were extremely talented. I didn't have a chance to meet any of them so I can't relate their names, but if you get an opportunity to see them I strongly recommend it! They have their own following because several of the customers were wearing "Jawbreakers" t-shirts and although it was a blues festival, they were for the most part quite up market with "light blues" like Put A Spell On You and Wade In The Water (although the vocalist didn't know all the words to either of those standards). All the musicians were excellent.  The keyboard player had a Nord keyboard and a Hammond Organ, and was very good at his trade. George has played with The Alexis Korner Band and many other famous outfits - he is one of the best bass guitar players in the Country. There drummer was also very good and played a quite spectacular drum solo on the false tab number of their set. There were two guitarists, one of whom was also the vocalist - he had a reasonably good voice for the blues, and his guitar work was exemplary - he had a black Gibson special - and the sound was brilliant. The band presented a lot of even less bluesy music with music like Green Onions, Tequila and The James Bond Theme.
 

The Jawbreakers

 

Friday 6th October 2017
Katherine Ryan's comedy show Glitter Room was on at The New Victoria Theatre, Woking.

I have always enjoyed Katherine Ryans dry and rapid wit when I have seen her on QI or Have I Got News For You, this was my first chance to see this vivacious Candian/Irish comedienne live.  We went with our neighbours Paul and Helen to see her live show - Glitter Room - at The New Victoria Theatre in Woking. The show starred Katherine Ryan; an Irish/Canadian comedienne who often features on TV programmes such as QI and Have I Got News For You.  The show was opened by a mercifully short warm-up session by a very nervous and very camp Mancunian comedian who made lots of not very funny comments about being gay. We didn't like his act at all; not only did he speak so fast that much of what he said was unintelligible anyway, but  was blatantly sexually explicit and not funny. There was enclave of people at the front who laughed, but most of the theatre was fairly silent, clapping politely when he had finished. During the break we returned to our private bar to top up with Prosecco before returning to see the main show.  Katherine was brilliant - she is terminally pretty anyway, but wearing a tight fitting party dress of glittering  gold and silver , and perched on ridiculously high heels with her hair piled up on top - she looked (and is) very sophisticated. She carried out her a stand up narrative for an hour; talking mainly about being a single mum and how her eight year old daughter, Violet, is proud to be British and is slightly ashamed that her mum is a foreigner!  It was a great session and more than compensated for the awful warm-up act. Katherine is a master (mistress) of dry humour, is extremely witty, and comes across as a genuinely nice person. She didn't swear at all, only using the word "fuck" in it's sense as a verb, not as an expletive. As well as being genuinely nice to some of the audience (whom other comics would probably have "picked on"), she had not got a bad word to say about anyone ; except her "ex", and even that wasn't too scathing.
 

 

Friday 29th September  and Sunday 1st October 2017
THE JACKIE LYNTON BAND were supporting CHAS & DAVE at The Beck Theatre, Hayes

For a change these were both comparatively local gigs for us.  On Friday late afternoon I met with Spud Metcalf, Mike Windus and Jack Lynton at Birch Hill and whizzed them up to The Beck Theatre at Hayes. Sad memories here - the last time I worked at The Beck was a "benefit gig" for the girl singer in The Tornados on Sunday 13th June 1999. Sadly memorable because it was the last time I saw Dave Sutch (aka "Screaming Lord Sutch") because sadly he took his own life three days later on 16th June.  We arrived just after five o'clock and found Steve the sound working away, and traces of Chris Bryant and Adam Russell - who had clearly unloaded gear and then gone to find the nearest local hostelry, (I later found them at Ye Olde Crown over the road).  We were soon joined by Colin Pattenden, Chas Hodges, Dave Peacock and Nik Hodges. The soundcheck was clean despite the fairly awful sound system in the theatre - a testament to Steve's expertise.  The Friday night show went like clockwork - a full house, with clearly very excitable audience and I think The Jackie Lynton Band did a great job of warming them up ready for Chas n Dave.  We stood in the wings and watched the first three numbers of their show before setting off for home.
 

The Beck Theatre

 

Chas with an autograph hunter at Milton Keynes

Saturday 23rd September  and Sunday 24th September 2017
THE JACKIE LYNTON BAND were supporting CHAS & DAVE at The Cliffs Pavilion, Southend and The Milton Keynes Theatre in Milton Keynes..

On Saturday Spud Metcalfe and I set off about two in the afternoon to collect Jackie Lynton and Mike Windus in Woking; while on Sunday, they drove up to Bracknell to join Spud and I.

The Saturday journey was to Southend, around the Northern half of the M25 to rendezvous with the rest of The Jackie Lynton Band and with Chas & Dave at The Cliffs Pavilion. Colin Pattenden, Chris Bryant and Adam Russell were already there, as was Steve the sound. We got all our equipment onto stage and then wandered down the road to fill up with fish and chips.  When we returned Chas, Dave and Nik were just completing their soundcheck, so the Jackie Lynton Band got on stage and followed through with their check. The theatre was very large, 1500+ seats, and was sold out, and it quickly filled up. At eight o'clock Chas went on stage to announce the evening and introduce Jackie. Jacks gig was good - the band are now getting quite polished with their performance - which is very much cut down from their normal shows, and contains a lot more jokes - a real "warm-up" act. There were lots of stage hands available at The Cliffs Pavilion to help us clear the stage and we were packed into the vehicles before Chas and Dave even took to the stage. We watched their first number and then left, this time crossing the Thames at Dartford and circling around the Southern stretch of the M25 - a full circumnavigation of London.

The Sunday trip was up to Milton Keynes for a performance at The Milton Keynes Theatre. This time Spud, Jack and Mike got themselves to Bracknell. Mike had a bit of a home crisis and  consequently we met up at Birch Hill half an hour later than planned before we set off to Milton Keynes. The drive was good and we arrived only five minutes later than planned. The Milton Keynes Theatre is extremely well appointed, it can seat 1400 and although we didn't have the top tier open, the other 800 tickets were sold out. The stage apron is huge and abuts directly onto a huge scenery dock. The whole area must be getting on for the size of a football field! It was really easy and quick to unload and set up the stage. The building is clearly purpose built with loads of storage and built in fly towers, only let down by the sound system. It is an old Community brand system. These were designed during the era of ska and boomboxes - and consequently tend to accentuate bass and flatten the top notes. The theatre staff must get it criticised often because they actually apologised for it before we had even seen it! Steve the sound made it sound a little better although he struggled with some hums and buzzes for quite a long time. The show went extremely well - it is becoming quite a well oiled machine. We cleared the stage and then stood in the wings to cheer on Chas, Dave and Nik as they went on and sang their first couple of songs.  The M1 and M25 were really clear and we were all home by half past ten.
 

                              

The Lynton Band at Southend on Saturday                          Chas, Dave and Nik at Milton Keynes on Sunday                      Milton Keynes Theatre - well appointed
 

 
Sunday 17th September 2017
THE JACKIE LYNTON BAND and CHAS & DAVE were performing at The Orchard Theatre, in Dartford.

Spud Metcalfe and I set off about two in the afternoon to collect Jackie Lynton and Mike Windus in Woking; then we sped on around the bottom half of the M25 to Dartford - ancestral home of our heroes messrs Jagger and Richard. We arrived at The Orchard Theatre about a quarter to four - which was apparently too early. There was an afternoon kids show running until four, so we had to hang about outside while that finished and while the previous performers packed up and vacated the scenery loft. Meanwhile we were joined by Steve the sound engineer - who was spitting feathers with anger because he had been assured we would not have to wait - and by Chris Bryant, Adam Russell and Colin Pattenden.  Colin brought Roger Weddup with him - Roger is an old friend of both of us, and is the roadie/sound man for The Swinging Blue Jeans. We set up instruments and amps and then got out of Steve's way, retiring to a nearby pub called - appropriately - The Stage Door.  It was a lovely pub with a real homely east London feel to it. We saw Chas drive by and that was our signal to return to the gig. A good natured banter in the dressing rooms preceded Jackie's warm-up part of the show.  For a change I stationed myself up on the auditorium sound stage with Steve to watch the show from the audience point of view. I was amazed by the number of people who talked throughout and some who got up and travelled to and from the bar in mid song; I suppose it just reinforces that The Jackie Lynton Band was not whom they had paid to see that evening. The sound is totally different from the auditorium - the instrument amplifiers on stage compete (sometimes too well) with the house PA. The theatre seats about nine hundred and was sold out - and the sound of that many people singing along with Chris Bryant's version of You Can't Always Get What you Want gave me a great feeling that the majority of the audience really enjoyed the warm-up act.
 

Fans with Jack at Dartford

 

Scratchers

Saturday 16h September 2017
THE JACKIE LYNTON BAND played at Scratchers - at The Three Lions in Farncombe, Godalming.
 

A musical relaxation after the subtle anxieties of supporting a big name band; I collected Trisha and Spud Metcalfe and drove them down to The Three Lions (aka "Scratchers") at Farncombe on the outskirts of Godalming.  Tonight The Jackie Lynton Band were playing to their friends at a local pub, so there was no pressure to shorten songs, or to hold back on the volume - and the lads let it all out. A real show of exuberance, after what must have been quite a frustrating set of gigs where the audience hadn't paid to see them; where they had to keep numbers relatively short and entertaining (rather than interesting); and where they had to get off stage after six numbers, when they had just about warmed up themselves!  Jackie Lynton was on good form despite having some real concerns about his wife Vanessa, who is not at all well. Colin Pattenden, Chris Bryant and Mike Windus really enjoyed themselves, letting off steam they had constrained during their "stage" shows.

 

 

Ferneham Hall

Thursday 14th September 2017
THE JACKIE LYNTON BAND and CHAS & DAVE were performing at Ferneham Hall, in Fareham, near Portsmouth.
 

Spud Metcalfe and I set out about two in the afternoon, collecting Jackie Lynton and then set off down the A3 to the coast, turning right at the end to find Fareham and The Ferneham Hall. We found that apart from Steve the engineer (who had been there hours) we were the first to arrive. Jack and I went out into town for a coffee - but managed to lose each other! Back at the Theatre Claire and Mike Windus had arrived, as had Chris Bryant, Adam Russell and Sarah-Jane. Jackie and Colin Pattenden arrived next, and then Chas Hodges, Dave Peacock and Nik Hodges.  We all sound checked quite quickly (Steve is very good) and then Adam, Chris, Sarah-Jane and myself set out to explore the town.  We got as far as JD Wetherspoons pub and then sat there for a bit (diet coke! aren't I good?) Jack, Dave and Chas are excellent entertainment, and the banter this evening was no exception. At last weeks Edmonton gig Dave had commented on Jacks choice of shirts - all TK Maxx best bright goods!  At this gig Jack had brought Dave a predominantly red shirt as a present;, knowing full well that Dave is a Tottenham supporter and red is the colour of their main rivals, Arsenal. It was an excellent show - Jacks band were on top form, and we watched the first three Chas n Dave numbers before heading back homewards.
 

 
Sunday 10th September 2017
THE JACKIE LYNTON BAND and CHAS & DAVE were performing at The Millfield Theatre, in Edmonton, North London.

I collected Spud Metcalfe and we drove down to Woking to add Jack Lynton and Mike Windus to our load; then we all set out to Edmonton in North London for the afternoons and evenings gigs with Chas n Dave.  Having had such a bad experience getting to Fridays gig we set off really early, and consequently we arrived at the Millfield Theatre in Edmonton an hour earlier than planned. Steve the sound engineer was already there and had almost finished setting up - impressive as he had driven all the way from Seaton in Devon! Eventually we were joined by Chris Bryant, Adam Russell and Colin Pattenden, and eventually by Chas Hodges, Dave Peacock and Nick Hodges. The sound check went very smoothly and we were all set up in plenty of time for the four o'clock matinee audience. The Millfield is a really nicely appointed little theatre, with the auditorium dedicated to local boy, the late Bruce Forsyth. There are three hundred and sixty seats and both shows were a total sell out. The Jackie Lynton Band played the warm up set of forty minutes and were extremely good. Chas and Dave watched the whole set from the wings. After forty minutes of songs and risqué jokes, the audience took a break and we changed the stage set for Chas n Dave's performance.  This was the first matinee Jacks Band had been at, and was consequently the first opportunity to see the whole of Chas n Dave's Show - so we all stood in the wings for the hour or so that these master performed. They demonstrated that they were excellent musicians and seasoned entertainers.  There was then a couple of hours break until the evening performance - we decided to stay in the theatre, but Chas and Dave had family locally, so they all went out to a Turkish restaurant for Sunday dinner.  They arrived back with ten minutes to spare before the evening show started - which is a bit tight because the show starts with Chas introducing Jackie.  The second Jackie Lynton set was sweet. They are doing a good job of warming up the audience for the main "Rockney" show. During the interval we cleared Jack's bands equipment from the stage, bade farewell and good luck to Chas and Dave, and as we set off we heard the strains of London Girls (their first number) coming from the auditorium.  We were all home by eleven o'clock !
 

Dave Peacock, Jackie Lynton and Chas Hodges
 

 

Jacks band at the Spotlight Theatre

Friday 8th September 2017
THE JACKIE LYNTON BAND and CHAS & DAVE were performing at The Spotlight Theatre, at Hoddesdon..

I had missed three of Jacks gigs while I was on vacation in the USA; and so had a bit of hassle sorting out invoicing for the performances I had missed, but eventually I was able to take to paperwork to pass on to "Rockney Productions!". It was the first Friday after the school summer holidays and the gig was a third of the way around the M25 - and even though we allowed loads of time for the journey it seemed to take forever. Added to this, the last few miles were in torrential rain! Luckily I had Jack Lynton's company crawling around forty five miles of the M25 in a little over two hours - which was great because we had an MP3 player with 94 Delbert McClinton songs on it to play and discuss and sing along with!  By about half past six in the evening - and an hour later than planned - we had all arrived at the theatre. The most frustrating journey must have been for Dave Peacock who actually lives just outside Hoddesdon, but it took him nearly forty five minutes to cover less than two miles! Mike Windus couldn't make it to this gig so we had Ken Osborn of The Nashville Teens as his "deputy" - he was excellent. We watched Steve the sound man undertake soundcheck for Chas Hodges, Dave Peacock and Nick Hodges , then Jack Lynton, Spud Metcalfe, Chris Bryant, Colin Pattenden, Ken Osborn and Adam Russell sound checked; after which we all retired to the dressing rooms where Chas and I sorted out the finances and paperwork while The Jackie Lynton Band got ready for the start of the show at eight o'clock. The Spotlight Theatre had a full house and the audience were really appreciative. In his repertoire this evening Jack had included Tulsa Time. This was retrospectively fitting because we were all quite oblivious to the sad fact that Don Williams - for whom this Danny Flowers song was one of his first "hits" - had died earlier that day. Jack sang his heart out and told several risqué jokes, and he was really pleased that at the end he got a standing ovation!  The audience hadn't even come to see him, but he and the band did a great job of warming up the audience ready for their evening of "Rockney" classics. At the interval we cleared our equipment from the stage, then watched Chas n Dave start their show with London Girls.  We didn't stop to enjoy any more because we would be able to see it all on Sunday when we have both a matinee and an evening gig; so we stole off and drove back to Surrey.  A much easier drive than it had been in the afternoon. I dropped Jack at Woking and then drove back to Bracknell, arriving home by eleven o'clock. Its a weird feeling doing a gig and actually being home before midnight.
 

 

Saturday 19th August 2017
THE JACKIE LYNTON BAND and CHAS & DAVE were performing at The Princes Theatre, in Clacton-on-Sea.

This was Jacks second gig opening for Chas & Dave, but the first one that I had been able to attend. I met up with Jackie Lynton, Mike Windus and Spud Metcalf  at The Silver Birch pub in Bracknell, and chauffeured them around the top of the M25 and out to Clacton-On-Sea on the edge of Essex.  There at The Princes Theatre we rendezvoused with Colin Pattenden, Chris Bryant and Adam Russell - making up the complement of The Jackie Lynton Band - and we were soon joined by Chas Hodges and Dave Peacock - whose show it was that evening.  They brought their drummer, Chas's wife Joan and their granddaughter who was running the merchandising stall. The soundcheck was very laid back and professional feeling - the sound man, Steve, had driven all the way from Seaton (250 miles) and the sound quality in the little theatre was good.  I enjoyed catching up with Chas, whom I hadn't seen since before his recent illness; and had a good little chat with Dave Peacock, whom I had only met once before - we have a common friend in Keith Pearson, one of the UKs best banjo players.  I have always been fascinated by the dynamics of team activities - which may account for my interest in live bands because they are high pressure mini-models of industrial teams. The dynamics of a band who are just  "warming up" an audience for another act are something I haven't observed closely before. They are very conscious that the audience have paid to see somebody else and they are only getting forty minutes on stage - that is five or six numbers and a few jokes - then just as the bands adrenalin has properly kicked in, they need to get off and make way for the main act! The show opened with Chas Hodges walking onto stage an re-assuring the audience that he was recovering well from his recent brush with cancer, and introducing "me old mate Jack" and his band as the warm up act.  The Jackie Lynton Band were very good on stage, and Jacks easy repartee and jokes went down well. It was a long way to travel to play just five numbers - but the audience appeared to love them.  We struck the stage during the interval and loaded all our cars and vans, then we bade farewell to Chas & Dave as they went on stage for their show,  We all stood watched their first number, "Gertcha" from stage wings and then set off for the 130 mile drive home. One advantage of doing openings for other bands is that most of us were home before midnight - unusual for a working band. 

 

Chas & Dave

 

Fran, Roger & Mike at Shepperton

Saturday 12th August 2017
THE FRAN McGILLIVRAY BAND were performing at The Barley Mow, in Shepperton.

It was not even two weeks after the last time we saw this lovely band, and it was great to see them again. Fran told us that this was their first gig at this venue; they had been booked at very short notice - just a few days - to replace a band which was unable to turn up. The Barley Mow is a nice little pub in an estate wedged between the M3 motorway, the Queen Mary Reservoir and the Shepperton Studios complex. It seems to have quite a full programme of live music on Friday and Saturday nights, so we may have to visit it again!  Frans Band were tight and the first set was really good because the pub inhabitants were reasonably attentive to the music; however, some of the locals got a bit lairy in the second half as they became lubricated and the ambient noise level was quite a distraction from the music - but, hey! It's a pub so one can't complain. Unusually for a pub gig, there was some dancing as well as appreciation of the music - and it was clear that the locals really did appreciate the Fran McGillivray Band. As well as dancing and fairly extensive applause for each song, I overheard some of the girls talking at the bar, evidently empowered by the sight and sound of a "girl" leading a blues band.  As well as some of their more familiar numbers, Fran, Mike and Roger gave us  Robert Cray's Smoking Gun; and they ended the show with my favourite, their own song Love Is Freedom.  I had asked at their previous gig whether it was still in their itinerary, and Mike told me that they hadn't played it for ages and perhaps needed to remind themselves of the words before attempting it again! On the morning of this gig I had just been discharged from hospital and had told Fran that I intended to attend the gig come hell or high water.  Mike said they had included it in this weeks set especially for me. I had been recording some of their numbers on my iPhone (see Facebook if you want a sample) but because I had spent the previous night in hospital - without a charger - right in the middle of recording Love Is Freedom the camera shut down with an announcement that the phone was switching to emergency power.  "Just as well" said Mike, "I was out of tune and I would have hated you putting that one up on Facebook!".
 

Thursday 3rd August 2017
THE FRAN McGILLIVRAY BAND were performing at The Riverside Club, Laleham, Staines.

This lovely little club has a frontage onto the River Thames right opposite Tim's Boatyard, from where my pal Colin Pattenden used to run his business.  The Riverside Club has a heritage as an ex-Service Mens Club, and the music evenings are run by a nice guy named Mike. The club is friendly and puts on live music - so it must be good!  Fran and I arrived about eight o'clock, in time for a quick chat with Fran McGillivray, Mike Burke and Roger Nunn before they started their first set as The Fran McGillivray Band. Regular readers will know that I really love this little band.  Their diverse catalogue contains many songs which they have written themselves as well as a lot of classic blues numbers and some fun songs picked up throughout their long musical careers. Among the fun songs they gave us on Thursday were Willie Dixons Wang Dang Doodle, and a calling song called Little Red Hen which I know they picked up from The Spikedrivers.  Among the classic blues they played were Spoonful (another Willie Dixon composition, and knowing it to be one of my favourites they thoughtfully called it out as a dedication to me and Fran.) Other classic blues songs they presented included Sitting On Top of The World; Ramblin' Man;  Mess of Blue; and their inimitable smooth jazzy/blues version of Route 66. Fran sang us her version (Rufus Thomas's original arrangement) of Walking The Dog and Mike gave us Not Fade Away and Mercury 49.  They also treated us to several of their own compositions, opening with Love and Regret, and during the evening delivering us Big Front Seat; Hard Working Woman; Blood On Your Hands; End of the Road and Get Back To Love. They closed with their brilliant song, Mister Blues.  It was a very entertaining evening at an excellent little club which I recommend to anyone who is stuck in Staines and looking for good live music.
 

The Fran McGillivray Band @ Riverside.

 

Delilah on a summer evening

Wednesday 19th July 2017
TOM JONES was performing at Sandown Park Racecourse

This was technically an evening race meeting followed by a celebrity performance. We weren't that interested in horse racing so six of us gathered at Red Peppers Restaurant in Esher - almost opposite the racecourse - and ate and drank our way through the horse racing bit. Fran and I collected Colin Earl and his mate Steve in Weybridge at six o'clock - plenty of time (we thought) to get the five miles to Esher. Unfortunately everybody else was queuing to get into Sandown Park so we were almost an hour late at the restaurant, where we were joined by Jacky & Colin Pattenden . The last race was scheduled for 8:40 so we left the restaurant about then and wandered the few hundred yards to the main entrance to the racecourse. We got in just as Tom Jones was starting his show.  The racecourse was heaving and we fought our way through to get a decent spot to be able to see the stage from the high ground to the South of the stage. The weather was great, a fine summer evening with a long view out across the racecourse and beyond it across the Thames Valley, with the lights of the taller bits of London glittering on the horizon. Tom Jones has a very full repertoire of known and loved songs - and although he sang all the old favourites, he added some very nice lesser known numbers. Colin Earl and i though that his rendition of St James Infirmary Blues was particularly brilliant. He gave us classics like Delilah, Sex Bomb, and of course The Green Green Grass of Home.  For a finale (and dedicated to Prince) he sang Kiss.  An excellent summer evening show, well staged with a good sound system and blessed by perfect weather for an outdoor gig. The only surprise was that we did not hear him sing It's Not Unusual - but as we were a few moments late it is possible that he opened with it. I was struck by the age profile of the audience, which seemed to be predominantly late twenties through to early forties - not at all the demographic I would have associated with Tom Jones - but they clearly loved his work and knew all the words to sing along with.

 

 
Sunday 16th July 2017
FOLK BY THE OAK was a one day folk festival at Hatfield House

This was a bit of a random event in the sense that I had bought the tickets on a whim late last year, while surfing for festivals where I thought I might be able to book one of my bands. We were joined by Frans sister Jenn and by Emma-Victoria, her kids Miss S and Master D and their granddad Barry for a picnic and some nice music. The festival was in the "Oak Field" of Hatfield House where four hundred and fifty nine years ago (1558) the then Princess Elizabeth was picnicing when she was told of the death of her step sister Mary and that she was now Queen Elizabeth the first,  Today's festival is called "Folk By The Oak" and this was the tenth year that it has been running. Some eight thousand souls gathered in the Oak Field to enjoy a brilliant display of folk and roots music.  The show started with Leveret - an instrumental folk band, a little too technical and dirge like for my taste, but very accomplished musicians.  They were followed by This Is The Kit which was a much more interesting band - all modern compositions in the folk/roots style and very well presented by their songwriter and singer Kate Stables. Next up was a group called Shake The Chains, specialising in protest songs. I have to confess that they didn't hold my attention, to my taste they were a little too political rather than artistic. For me the absolute highlight of the day was the next artist, Eric Bibb.  Some genuine blues delivered with some authentic bluesy feelings. The early evening shows commenced with Show of Hands - an interesting band with a great style of presentation. I have heard them playing on BBC Radio 2's Folk Programme, and they are even better live; very enjoyable.  The ultimate top marks for me was Kate Rusby who took the middle evening slot. A Yorkshire girl with an engaging presentation and near perfect pitch combined with a Yorkshire accent! The songs were her own and her backing band were brilliant. I shall be searching iTunes for some downloads of this wonderful voice. The headliners were The Levellers, not my favourite music style, but very energetically presented and although about half the audience had gone by the time they came on, many of those remaining were evidently avid punk/folk fans. Fran and I successfully beat the final rush by leaving about ten minutes before the finale/fireworks (which we saw from the car as we queued to drive out of the park.) A great little festival, very enjoyable.
 

The Levellers got the audience on their feet

 

Cliff's 2017 Rock'n'Roll tour

Sunday 2nd July 2017
CLIFF RICHARD was appearing at the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich.

Cliff Richard is a very special performer for me. I don't much like his pappy pop songs from the mid sixties onward, or his religious songs from the same period - but for me he was the messiah of Rock'n'Roll in 1959 when I was just ten years old.  I grew up in a family where my Mum taught classical piano and my main exposure was to the classics, but at age ten I got hold of an old valve radio from a jumble sale and "discovered" stations like Radio Luxembourg.  I remember sitting in my little bedroom and hearing for the first time Cliff and the Shadows version of Twenty Flight Rock; and thinking what wonderful music it was. Nearly fifty years later Cliff is still singing Rock'nRoll and for Christmas presents last year Fran and I had bought each other tickets to attend his open air concert at The Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich on Sunday night. We drove through London to Crossharbour on the Isle of Dogs, where there is a handy NCP car park right next door to Crossharbour Station for Docklands Light Railway. Three stops of the DLR to the south (and the other side of the Thames) is Greenwich Cutty Sark Station, which in turn is right opposite the main gates to The Old Royal Naval College. We spent a couple of hours wandering around the Cutty Sark and the college grounds, and supping coffee in Costa's before joining the queue for the gig. It was a fairly small affair - I would guess four or five thousand or so, all seated outdoors. The show was opened by four male vocalists called Collabro - a "boy band" who apparently won Britain's Got Talent several years ago. They were very professional vocally, but their selection of music wasn't at all to me taste. For me the highlight of their act was when a large ocean liner passed up the Thames right behind the stage - the passengers lining the top deck and waving over the top of the stage to the audience.  After their act there was a half hour gap before Cliffs band assembled.  They comprised a talented backing vocalist named Suzie Furlonger supprted by a bass guitar, a drummer, a lead guitar (left handed, very talented and also good on backing vocals) and an excellent keyboard player.  Programmes were extortionately expensive so I didn't get the names of these other musicians, but they were good. Then Cliff himself bounded onto stage wearing tight white jeans with baseball boots, a black shirt with a loose white tie and wearing a pale lilac jacket with fish scale sequins.  He did not look - or act, or sound or move as if he was seventy seven years old - still sounding great, looking great and grinning with enjoyment. His stage banter between songs was engaging and entertaining,  At one point he announced that his lighting manager hated him wearing white - and then proceeded to brush the fishscale sequins on his jacket in the wrong direction - making it bright white in patches as if he had been splashed with whitewash! The lights all went out! After a few seconds they came back on and Cliff quipped - "I wonder where he'll be working when we next tour?"  His musical act alternated his classic rock'n'roll with some of his more ballad based hits - and included favourites like Travelling Light, Move It, C'mon Everybody, The Young Ones and Summer Holiday. Notably he sang Suddenly,  a really nice duet, with Suzie Furlonger and for his final encore he came across with his latest release It's Gonna Be Okay. This was the last night of the 2017 tour and the weather was fabulous - the whole event was a memorable and brilliant entertainment.
 

      

Cliff Richards on stage at Greenwich on Sunday night
 

 

Skeleton Crew

Friday 30th June 2017
SKELETON CREW were playing at The Old Crown in Weybridge

On Friday night we went over to Weybridge join old pals Paul King (founder member of Mungo Jerry) ; Colin Pattenden (founder member of Manfred Mann's Earth Band) ; Chris Bryant (renowned session guitarist with just about everybody) and Adam Russell (harmonica player and possibly Spike Milligan's illegitimate son); who were accompanied by Amber - the drummer whom we first saw playing the Cajon last weekend at Pyrfest. This time Amber had a small snare drum and cymbal and she kept perfect time - I'm really impressed by this young performer who at age fifteen is playing confidently with such seasoned professionals. The Old Crown was packed and we saw a lot of our friends including Jacky, Sarah-Jane and Graham P.  We also had a rare visit from Geoff & Corrine and it was a real pleasure to see Steve Kemp again, this time with his lovely wife Janis and her sister Jayne.  After a bit of twiddling with the PA system after the first number had provided a little feedback, the rest of the evening was an excellent sound. Paul is on great form at the moment, and as well as his great vocal deliveries on numbers such as Sophisticated Mama and - of course - In The Summer Time, we were treated to some of his exemplary harmonica playing on several numbers. I was especially impressed by his harmonica on Chris's evocative delivery of George Harrisons Isn't It A Pity (which I have been surprised to learn was written by Harrison as early as 1966). Chris also led on You Can't Always get What You Want - a funky arrangement which always attracts great audience participation. A really good evening in a packed and friendly pub.
 

 

Saturday 24th June 2017
PYRFEST  is a private garden party held in The Back Garden of my pal Graham.

It is a great privilege to be a pal of Graham Pereira. He arranges gigs at The Pyrford Social Club, and each year he has a private garden party in his garden which features live music by Paul Kings Skeleton Crew. So although we all call this event "The Pyrfest" , it is really a private party.  The line up on the evening was a slightly revised version of Skeleton Crew. The band was joined by Amber, a young lady of only fifteen years, who played the Cajon. I don't know her surname, but her dad, Andy, is guitarist and vocalist with one of Chris Bryant's other bands, Wagon Wheel. Despite her youth, Amber was great - she has a good sense of timing and although this isn't the sort of band to need a heavy drummer, having a percussion section helps define the bands performance very well.  It was good to catch up with Paul again - he appears to be enjoying himself. He has moved back to the Weybridge area, and although he is working hard on his new house and garden (right on the junction of the River Wey and the River Thames) he also seems to be spending a lot of time at his other home in Crete. Colin Pattenden was fussing around the electrics, not only because the neighbours had complained about the volume last year, but because it was threatening rain.  Finally, Chris Bryant was there, although his partner Sarah-Jane is still recovering from an operation and couldn't make the journey. Fran and Jacky arrived late from having spent an afternoon at the cinema and it was good to catch up with Wes Phillips too. Pyrfest is a very small event, perhaps only thirty in the audience,  Eventually it did rain quite hard and we had to stick black plastic sacks over the PA speakers - which caused a lot of farty noises - so the sound was far from perfect; however we are all friends so it was a lot of fun. Steve Kemp was there to DJ records between performances, and he was as professional as ever with his choice, mixing some popular music with some more edgy stuff, and not competing with Pauls style - a really thoughtful DJ. A high point for me was that he played Leadbelly's version of Black Betty, which I confess that I had not heard before. It isn't as driving as Ram Jams version, but was intriguing enough that I spent half an hour of Sunday morning searching for a download; so far unsuccessfully. It was a fun afternoon and evening meeting with old friends and hearing some good live music - thanks Graham!
 

Paul, Amber, Colin and Chris - stars of "Pyrfest"

 

Miranda Hart in Annie

Friday 9th June 2017
ANNIE  was being performed at The Piccadilly Theatre in Denham Street, London

Perhaps surprisingly I had never seen any of the film or stage versions of Annie before - and I had no real knowledge of the plot (except that it was a feel-good orphan-makes-it-good story).  The auditorium was packed with kids, so I quickly realised that this was not going to be a hard hitting play about the plight of orphaned children during America's "Great Depression".  I only vaguely recognised one of the songs, which was all about hoping things will get better tomorrow; and I was surprised that it had quite so many child actors in it! But by far the biggest surprise for me was that one of the main characters is Franklin Delano Roosevelt - President of the USA; wheelchair and all!  Now that I know the story line the involvement of lots of child actors seems quite logical - but when the first scene opened with seven little girls on stage I was really very surprised. This theatre visit was a birthday present for Fran - not because she particularly likes kids musicals, but because the role of the bad orphanage manager - "Miss Hannigan" - was played by Miranda Hart, who is a comedienne we both love.  It turns out she is a fine actress as well - although there was undeniably a spot of her own engaging brand of comedy about the way she portrayed the alcoholic bullying orphanage manageress. For a show which I have heard of, but knew nothing about, I was very impressed. The children acting were fantastic, particularly the littlest who only looked about seven (but who was probably quite a bit older). She carried the show.  Fran was also impressed by the fact that the cast included a live dog! Fran loves dogs. The singing was good and the dancing by the adult cast was exemplary, so much so that it reminded me of some of the Ballet Rambert shows we have seen - very professional.  Overall a great show - I'm really pleased that we went, and wonder whether we might go again one day and take some of our
Grandchildren.
 

 

Monday 5th June 2017
FRAN McGILLIVRAY & MIKE BURKE  were  playing at Peggy Sues in Leigh on Sea

A long way to go, but I do love these musicians and I have had to miss several of their more convenient gigs recently, and the inconvenience of travelling ninety five miles around the M25 (and ninety five miles back) was well worth it. Also it was an opportunity to catch up with Doug Kaye - a Face Book friend - who lives in Leigh, and who's birthday was imminent, so it saved postage on his card! The gig was tiny - I drove past it twice without seeing it! However - although bijoux - the place had a great cafe music atmosphere inside and with about forty punters inside it was comfortably packed.  Mike Burke was setting up when I arrived and greeted me with a huge smile. He introduced me to Martin McNeill, the compere at Peggy Sues Blues and a very competent bluesman. Then Fran McGillivray emerged from out back somewhere - great to see her again. We had a nice chat about their latest song writing and I got a little news of their recent holiday to Cuba before the show started. Martin started the show with four or five classic blues numbers. He is a very good guitar player and not bad as a vocalist and a blues harmonica player either.  While he was playing my friend Doug arrived, so we didn't really get a chance to chat until the next short break - after which Fran & Mike got up to play. Their performance was great - just the sort of laid back fusion of Blues and Jazz which I love. Doug is an established muso who is well versed in rock and pop music of all types - and is associated with the Jimi Hendix Museum in London - so I was pleased that he commented on how much he enjoyed their jazzy edged rendition of Route 66. While they were playing I was surprised to see Claire Hamlin walk in. (see T-Birds report three weeks ago) - turns out that she lives relatively locally at Chelmsford and didnt have a gig of her own that night. So during the next break I was able to chat to her about life in general and specifically about the various upcoming gigs with The Tales From The Woods Band. After that break Fran & Mike resumed the stage, together with Martin and they played as a trio. Mike knows that I really enjoy their version of Spoonful, and he dedicated it to me because I had come "half way around the World" (well, half way around the M25 actually) to see the gig. Thank you Mike. It was a long drive, but well worth it for a really enjoyable evening and a nice surprise to find Claire as well as Doug in the audience.
 

Martin McNeill and Fran & Mike @ Peggy Sues

 

The Sausage Tossing Championship was really a small village fete

Saturday 3rd June 2017
THE NASHVILLE TEENS, THE JACKIE LYNTON BAND and SMOKING GOATS  were at The Countryman Inn near Buntingford for the World Sausage Tossing Championship.

I collected Ken Osborne and Spud Metcalf and we set off early on Saturday afternoon for the ride to Buntingford in Hertfordshire. The traffic was awful but I had planned to arrive early to suss out the venue, so losing an hour on the road didn't matter too much. The event was The World Sausage Tossing Championship, which is actually a rather small garden fete at a remote pub on the A10 just north of Buntingford, a sleepy little town; or is it a sleepy big village? The Countryman Inn is very small and is only open on Fridays Saturdays and Sundays!  More of a hobby than a business, and very lovely. Once there it didn't take long to make ourselves known to Steve, the organiser, and only a little longer to get our amplifiers and guitars unloaded and stowed behind the stage and to find the free beer for the musicians!  We chatted with the next band on, a quartet called The Smoking Goats, and quickly established the "degrees of separation" from their drummer named Liam from Stevenage. Liam had played with John Verity - guitarist from Argent whom I had met some years ago through Jim Rodford (Argent, Kinks, Zombies etc). The Smoking Goats - named after the little bar in Denmark Street, London - were a covers band doing good covers of eighties, nineties and noughties music.  Meanwhile the rest of my two bands appeared and ported all of their equipment from the car park, over a low wall, to the stage side. Jack Lynton, Mike Windus, Chris Bryant and Adam Russell arrived first, followed by Colin Pattenden with Wesley and Ray Phillips; and finally Simon Spratley.  Meanwhile The Goats were good; I rarely see bands doing other than sixties music so it made a nice change. The DJ was a guy named Wheelie Bag, who I have seen before in The Pillars of Hercules (Soho) and "street DJ'ing" on a Sunday afternoon at Granary Square behind Kings Cross and St Pancras Stations. After a suitable break The Jackie Lynton Band took to the stage. They were very polished (been practising for their forthcoming tour with Chas & Dave) and Jack was in joke mode - luckily clean jokes because there were a lot of children in the audience. Jacks performance was excellent as usual, and in typically generous fashion he invited solos from his two lead guitarists. You Can't Always Get What You Want from Chris Bryant and Run Run Rudolph from Mike Windus. After an appropriate gap to announce the winners of the Sausage Tossing event The Nashville Teens took to the stage. Another flawless performance had the audience dancing all over the garden. The musicianship was fantastic - I sometime find it hard to appreciate just what professional musicians my friends are. For the finale - Tobacco Road of course - the band were joined on stage by Chris Bryant who had always wanted to play it with The Teens, and now had his chance. The gig finished at 10:30pm, quite early compared to our more usual experiences, and we were packed and on the road by midnight - and safely home by one in the morning.
 

       

The Smoking Goats                                                                     Jackie Lynton Band                                                                   Nashville Teens
 

 

Saturday 13th May 2017
THE JACKIE LYNTON BAND  was at Scratchers (The Three Lions) Godalming

I set off early on Saturday evening, taking Spud Metcalf and his drum kit to Godalming where we met up with the other band members, Jack Lynton, Colin Pattenden, Chris Bryant, Mike Windus and Adam Russell. Sadly Spuds wife, Trisha, couldn't come along as she has broken a bone in her heel and has her foot in plaster.  The music wasn't scheduled to start until nine o'clock so there was plenty of time for chatting with friends and catching up news. Sarah Jane, Claire and Jacky were there as were Graham Pereira and all his friends.  It was also good to catch up with Keith-The-Stalker, whom I haven't seen for ages. On the brighter side Graham had brought Paul King along with him. Jack took advantage of Paul Kings presence by having him up to play harmonica on a couple of numbers. Jack started out telling bad jokes between numbers, but soon switched style into heavy rock mode part way through the performance, which was - as usual - tight and loud.  In fact it was very loud, even Paul King suggested that the band should turn down a bit! As well as Paul guesting on harmonica, Adam Russell did his guest spots. Chris Bryant did a solo spot performing his version of Status Quo's Roadhouse Blues and Mike Windus performed an out of season version of Chuck Berry's Run Run Rudolph.  The band are excited because they have a whole new set of dates to "open" for the Chas & Dave tour in the Summer, a three quarter hour slot at more than twenty gigs across the Country.   Overall it was a great gig.  I had harassed Spud into clearing up quickly because I was planning to be at Luton airport at eight o'clock the next morning, although even in hurry up mode I didn't get home until almost one in the morning. Luckily my lovely neighbour Paul Kennett picked up that task, so I got to lie in until seven o'clock!

picture right:   The Jackie Lynton Band at Scratchers on Saturday             
 

 

The T-Birds

Friday 12th May 2017
THE T-BIRDS were appearing at the Imperial Rock'n'Roll Club, which meets regularly at the Enfield Conservative Club in Waltham Cross

Fran was away for the weekend so I ventured alone around the sixty miles of the M25 to Waltham Cross to see one of my favourite pianists, Claire Hamlin, with her band, The T-Birds.  This is an all girl band, all very proficient, but with a triumph of vivacity, spirit, dash and élan over polish! This is not a bad thing! especially in the world of real rock'n'roll.  The club was not crowded, but I felt that apart form the bar staff I was conscious of being the only bloke not wearing motorbike leathers or Teddy Boy drapes. All were mature gentlemen of my age or greater. Some of other girls were dressed in period costume as well, wide skirts, bobby socks, and head scarves - and most of them danced either jiving with their men, or line dancing with each other. There was a lot of very professional looking line dancing going on ! I have seen the band once before, at The Foresters Arms in Southend, when they were only a trio. They are Claire Hamlin, keyboards (who also plays with Booga Red and the Tales from The Woods band) ;  Sandy Harris, who is also the lead singer - and plays her drums standing up (dressed in tie top shirt, hotpants, fishnets and cowboy boots! A genuine natural entertainer). The double bass is played "slap" style by Connie Everard; and they now have a fourth member of the trio, who is Irena Boswell. Irena looks as if she should be wearing pearls and being waited on by a butler - but plays a mean electric guitar.  The girls have to travel far to get to gigs as Claire lives in Essex, Connie in Coventry, Irena in Portsmouth and Sandy lives near me at Old Windsor.  The DJ was Cliff Edmonds - who also had a terrific voice and joined the T-Birds for the final couple of numbers.  Their repertoire is very Rock'n'Roll and Boogie based, and judging by their smiles they all evidently love performing, playing music from Fats Domino and Crazy Cavan as well as a couple of numbers which Sandy has written herself. The highlight for me was Claire's rendition of Nut Rocker - which coincidentally had been number one in the charts this week in 1962 - exactly fifty five years before.  A very entertaining evening.
 

 
Friday 21st April 2017
FRACKED - OR PLEASE DON'T USE THE F WORD was performed at Yvonne Arnaud Theatre,  Guildford

Alistair BeatonAlistair is a prolific writer in several languages, and is probably best known either as a speech writer for Gordon Brown, or as one of the script writers for Spitting Image and Not The Nine O'clock News; depending on whether you are turned on by TV satire or by politics.  The play is set in an idyllic English village whose bucolic peace is threatened by a large oil company intent on obtaining government licences for drilling for shale gas obtained by the process of Hydraulic Fracturing, or "Fracking".  The key characters are Anne Reid (Dinner Ladies) who plays a retired academic who is inspired to become a "protestor"; and James Bolam (The Likely Lads) who plays her less motivated husband, who only wants peace and quiet. The mechanics of the Fracking process - and some of its risks - are very well articulated without dumbing down much of the science. The humour is found in the interactions of the local villagers, the "professional" protestors, the oil company, the Public Relations company with zero morals or ethics, the corrupt local government officials and the even more corrupt government officials. Although very funny, the play was educational and carried a very hard hitting message about the way we - the public - are consciously misled, lied to and manipulated by big business, corrupt government and ruthless publicity agents.  A great show with a large cast (twelve) and a complicated rotating scenery set. This was the second stop on its tour - it started at Chichester and goes on to Woking next week.  I hope it is well supported, not only because it must be quite expensive to stage - but because it delivers a message the public needs to hear loud and clear.
 

Bolam and Reid

 
Friday 7th - Sunday 8th April 2017
55th ANNIVERSARY OF THE STAR CLUB was held at The Downtown Blues Club, Hamburg, Germany

The 55th anniversary of the opening of The Star Club in Hamburg was celebrated this weekend. Managed by Uwe Mamminga and Ted ("Kingsize") Taylor this set of gigs was primarily to fund the getting together of surviving entertainers at the Star Clubs throughout the sixties. There were ancillary gigs the preceding week starring The Rattles and The Pretty Things, and during the following week starring Carl Palmer (last survivor of Emerson Lake & Palmer) - but the main thrust of the celebration were the events of Saturday and Sunday - which featured a selection of original artists and was sold out to "fans".   My small part in this was as "carer" for Ray Phillips (Nashville Teens) and Cliff Bennett (Rebel Rousers) - I collected them, drove them to the airport, got them from Hamburg airport to the hotel and generally looked after them throughout. This was great for me because I also know some of the other artists and this role gave me backstage access and an unprecedented and wholly privileged opportunity to spend time shooting the breeze with some old pals and old heroes (and heroines).  The original Star Club in St Pauli burned down in 1969, so this weekend was spent at The Downtown Blues Club in Lanhaus Walter, Otto-Wells Strasse in the middle of the Stadpark, Hamburg. The adventures between gigs are chronicled elsewhere, but here are the high points of the public performances.
 

Hotel bar "lock-in" with some fans.
Fan; Fan; Cliff; me; Ray; Fan; Howie; Fan
 

Saturday 8th April
55th ANNIVERSARY OF THE STAR CLUB was held at The Downtown Blues Club, Hamburg, Germany

The Downtown Blues Club in Lanhaus Walter, Otto-Wells Strasse - is an idyllic setting right in the middle of the Stadpark. Ray Phillips, Cliff Bennett, Kingsize Taylor, Howie Casey and I arrived about 2am on Saturday and met up with Barry Shattock again - he manages sound for Uwe Mamminga. The Saturday rehearsals were with a band called "The Brotherhood of Friends".  I vaguely knew Ecki Hoffmann their saxophonist whom I had met at a similar gig five years ago, but all the others were new to me. All pretty good at their trade, but quite young, and some of them initially seemed to be in awe of the "Rock Royalty" they were to be backing. The first run through after the initial soundcheck was not good - there were four guitarists - but all playing the same notes to the same tuning! The result was just loud. Furthermore, (with the exception of Ecki) whenever any of them made eye contact with one of the "celebs" they went into show-off mode with little riffs and poses. Luckily they soon settled down and once they were used to the down-to-earth nature of the guest singers they soon showed themselves to be highly competent musicians. We had rehearsals all afternoon. Everyone seemed pretty impressed with Rays vocals, especially his treatment of I Put A Spell On You. In fact Howie Casey (saxophonist with Wings) asked if he could please join in that one for the show! During the afternoon we were joined by Beryl Marsden, Karl Terry and by Brian Parrish with Angela his lady. We watched each others rehearsals until about six o'clock, when we all retired to the green room for a proper sit down dinner (veal - delicious) provided by Uwe. All the performers had their adrenalin high so the gathering was like a party with lots of laughs and a lot of hilarity about some mis-spellings on the posters, especially at the expense of "Barrel" Marsden and Brian "Perrish".  There were hordes of fans outside and the day was reasonably sunny so after dinner we all went out onto the restaurant forecourt to sign autographs and chat with fans.  The show itself was great.  It opened with an  hour from a local band called Suzie and The Seniors, who played an esoteric mix of Rockabilly and Beatles while dressed in blue shiny suits and sporting huge quiffs (even Suzie). After the break the Brotherhood of Friends took to the stage and played a few numbers before being joined by Ray Phillips - his set was terrific. Then there was a session with Howie Casey playing Tequila on sax, followed by Cliff Bennett belting out his wonderful soul style - with both Ecki and Howie on saxes. The whole show had been re-jigged because Roy Young had been too ill to fly, but the gap was filled by Kingsize Taylor doing a couple of duets with Cliff before taking over the stage.  Overall it was an excellent evenings performance to a packed hall.
 

        
Cliff Bennett                                                The whole crew at Saturday sound check                                                       Ray Phillips
 

      
Beryl Marsden                                                                    Howie Casey                                        Karl Terry; John Frankland;  Kingsize Taylor;   Bobby Thompson;
                                                                                                                                                Beryl Marsden; Cliff Bennett and Ray Phillips
 

Sunday 9th April
55th ANNIVERSARY OF THE STAR CLUB was held at The Downtown Blues Club, Hamburg, Germany

The Sunday night show was also fun. Neither Cliff or Ray were actually billed to appear, but we were there for free dinner, free drink and - much more importantly - to support Howie, Beryl and Karl Terry, who were billed. I cajoled Ray and Cliff into walking to the venue across the Stadpark. About a mile, but it was a warm sunny afternoon and the place was packed with picnicing families, smokey barbecues and people playing various ball games; and we weren't in a hurry. The dinner before the show was good (Beef Stroganoff) and the  place was packed.  The backing band this evening was the surviving original members of The DominosKingsize Taylors original band, including Howie Casey (later of Wings, on saxophone), John Frankland on lead guitar, Bobby Thompson ("Tomo") on bass guitar, Gibson Kemp ("Gibbo") on drums, and Ecki Hoffmann on sax. They were supported by both the keyboard player and the lead guitarist from The Brotherhood of Friends. We watched the show either from side stage or listened from the green room - especially cheering for Karl Terry and Beryl Marsden.  Beryl has a magical voice and performs like dynamite!  Kingsize Taylor sang with his own band, who later backed Brian Parrish. At one point while I was sitting in the green room chatting with Yvonne (Ted Taylors lady friend) I heard the band start up Hoochie Coochie Man - which is Rays favourite song. I excused myself to go and find Ray because he would either need to be on stage performing, or would need a big hug because he wasn't!  Luckily he had gotten himself on stage and was singing a duet with Brian ParrishCliff's voice was still shot from an over strenuous performance the night before, so he didn't make it onto stage on Sunday.  All in all the two nights performances at the Downtown Blues Club were excellent - both professionally for the audience, and as great fun and a rare chance for a social get together for the performers.
 

Another bar "lock-in" - me; Ray; Beryl; Cliff
 

 

Chris, Colin and Paul on Friday evening

Friday 31st March
PAUL KINGS SKELETON CREW was performing at The Old Crown, Weybridge

This pub is almost literally next door to Paul's new home at Weybridge. The Old Crown lies near the junction of the River Wey and the River Thames - and Pauls new home is what separates the pub from the frontage onto the River Wey - which is one boundary of Pauls garden. Although Paul moved back to the area over a year ago, he has been busy refurbishing his riverside cottage, and although we have seen him a couple of times socially since then, this was our first opportunity to hear him play properly. We parked some way off from the pub and walked to get there. Inside we met up with Colin Pattenden, Chris Bryant and Paul King, as well as their partners Sarah-Jane, Jacky and Pat. We also met up with Graham Pereira, Christine White, Adam Russell and Wesley Phillips. Since Wesley has now left home and has his own flat in Weybridge, The Old Crown is now more or less his "local". Also in the pub was Jayne (don't know her surname - sister of Janis Kemp).  It was also good to catch up with Kevin Welling who used to play keyboards for Dave's Not Here.
The little pub was packed and the band were extremely good; they played a lot of Paul's own songs and - of course - climaxed with his Mungo Jerry hit, In The Summertime, before finishing with the Wilbert Harrison song Let's Work Together - made famous by Canned Heat, and evidently Pauls favourite.
 

 

Sunday 12th March
OMID DJALILI was performing his revue, Schmuck For A Night at The New Victoria Theatre, Woking

The tickets for this Sunday night gig were a Christmas present from Fran to see a comedian whom we both like on TV, but had not seen live before. The show opened with a half hour warm up from comedian Boothby Graffoe, before a short break. The main show was ninety minutes of the main man himself - Omid Djalili. Omid's main theme was causing offence! But in a humorous way, and his smiling presence on stage made it hard to take offence even if you happened to be his target! His show recounted why many gags are politically incorrect to some audiences, but not to others. For each example he gave an explanation (usually hilarious) of why certain cultures and sections of society are offended by certain themes while others are not; followed by examples of personal experiences of giving offence. This of course gave him an excuse for repeating some of his more extreme gags. Truly multicultural, he mostly poked fun at his own backgrounds of English and Iranian; but Americans, Jews, Pakistanis, Indians, Irish and Mexicans also got their fair share of abuse.  Brexit was another theme - not the act itself or its potential impacts on life; but the behaviour of the British to cope with a looming event which many of them (on both sides) aren't really sure they want to be totally committed to. Other targets for his humour ranged from Donald Trump to Al Quaeda and Isis. Although the show shamelessly recycles much of his humour from his last twenty years in show business, his material has stood the test of time and was still funny. A special delight were his parodies of Middle Eastern dance routines which he threw in every now and again. One critic summed up his attitude quite well when he wrote "Omid bounces on stage like an Iranian Tigger".  A great show and a very entertaining evening out.
 

Omid Djalili

 

Barry Mason accompanied by Don Gould

Wednesday 1st March
SAVE TIN PAN ALLEY was a "pop-up" gig at The Phoenix Artist Club in Charing Cross Road, London; featuring:
Barry Mason & Don Gould, supported by Howard & Clack, Susan Black, Emily Lee and Pete Woodroffe; and presented by Henry Scott-Irvine.

On Wednesday I drove into London to meet up with old friend David Stanford. We had a couple of drinks (coffee) at the Melia White House Hotel, where he was staying before grabbing a taxi to Charing Cross Road where we found dinner in The Salsa Club - a basement club where they have a neat little Mexican Restaurant alongside a large dance floor where sixty or more people were having a lesson in salsa dancing! After dinner we progressed two doors up the road to The Phoenix Artist Club - another basement establishment - this one under the floor of the Phoenix Theatre. There we met up with friend and film producer Henry Scott-Irvine who has masterminded the "Save Tin Pan Alley" campaign.  The campaign has not saved Denmark Street from demolition, but it has secured protection for some of the old buildings, which now need to be incorporated into the planned retail centre which will swamp the bottom end of Tottenham Court Road and the Northern end of Charing Cross Road; and has secured that a music venue will be provided underground near the site of the old Twelve Bar Club. Henry is also making a documentary film tentatively entitled "Tin Pan Alley Tales" to preserve the stories of old Denmark Street. It will hopefully be premiered this Summer. The stars of this evenings gig were Barry Mason - seasoned songwriter, accompanied on the piano by Don Gould (original organist with The Applejacks). This couple were practising their revue ready for the next Edinburgh Festival. The show is essentially a bit of story telling from Barry (who has a charismatic delivery) interspersed with some of the songs he has written. Among these gems are Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes for Edison Lighthouse,  1-2-3 O'Leary for Des O'Connor, Here It Comes Again for The Fortunes and There Goes My First Love for The Drifters. He told us that his speed record for songwriting was when challenged by an American film producer to write the title music for a movie before he had to catch a plane back to Hollywood. Under that pressure Barry created Les Bicyclettes De Belsize in just three hours!  Perhaps most famously Barry penned The Last Waltz for Englebert Humperdink and Delilah for Tom Jones. He told us the story about how the Edison Lighthouse hit was originally a demo record by session musicians which instead of being re-recorded by a "name" artist, got mysteriously released in its original demo form on a Friday and amazingly was number one when the charts were compiled on the following Monday! Barry told us that the initial Tuesday morning celebrations were short lived because the BBC called to ask the band to appear on Top of The Pops! Of course there was no such group, so Barry had thirty six hours from late Tuesday morning until early Thursday morning to create one! He assembled a band, renamed them as "Edison Lighthouse" (actually a typo - he had originally named them "Eddystone Lighthouse"); rehearsed them and put them on stage on Thursday morning ready for filming that weeks edition of Top of The Pops
The supporting acts at The Phoenix Artists Club were very talented and were Susan Black, advertised as a "jazz singer", she sang some original songs and not only had a great vocal delivery, but sang some amazing "scat" sections as well.  The other female performer was Emily Lee - a busker who was evidently a good songwriter, and while her voice was good, it was untrained and she was very loud. I'm sure she will improve as her technique matures. The show was opened by Pete Woodroffe accompanied by an unheralded saxophonist, who was OK. The closing act was Howard & Clack, seasoned performers, but - although "Clack" was an excellent guitarist (Classical Spanish Guitar licks on a beautiful Gibson Special electric guitar), it wasn't my sort of music, and David and I slid out to catch a taxi before the end of their act.  Overall a very good evening with a spectrum of talented musicians all performing for a good cause.
 

      

Emily Lee                                 Susan Black                                                                                       Pete Woodroffe                                                              Howard & Clack
 

 
Friday 17th February
THE FRAN McGILLIVRAY BAND performed at Scratchers, the venue at The Three Lions, Godalming.

On Friday evening we set off toward Godalming; the traffic was unusually light and we arrived early at The Three Lions pub after our twenty mile drive to see our favourite band; The Fran McGillivray Band. When we arrived Roger Nunn was still unloading his drums and there was no sign of Fran McGillivray or Mike Burke but they soon arrived and we had a drink and chat with then as they set up. This was the first time we had seen the trio since they released their new album, Midnight Call in January; so I bought a copy and acquired all three autographs. We had heard most - but not all - of the new numbers which Fran has written for this new album, but the band have evidently been evolving and polishing the songs since our last encounter in November last year because they were even better with more harmonies and lots of crisp guitar work from Mike on his resonator. I have to add that even though we were totally blown away by the sheer professionalism and quality of this performance at Scratchers, when we heard the CD it was - if possible - even better than their live performance!  They opened with some old favourites Pallet On The Floor, Midnight Special and Hear Me Talkin' To You before they gave us Love And Regret (from their new album; a number which was featured on the Paul Jones Radio 2 programme last week). End of The Road followed - another emotive blues song about relationships breaking down. I later asked Fran where gets she her apparently deep understanding of dysfunctional life when she and Mike overtly have a very loving, stable and long friendship? she told me that she gets it mostly from observing friends and acquaintances.  The next number was another original of Frans which she has been performing live for some time, but is now for the first time on a CD, Hard Workin' Woman. The number is a prime example of one which has visibly gained polish and orchestration from repeated performance - and Mikes guitar solos were amazing.  Then they played another new one, Get Back To Love before they gave us Albert King's Born Under A Bad Sign to wind up the first half. This is another number which benefits from Mikes crisp picking on the resonator, and also gives a chance for Roger to show off a bit with some fancy drum work. After a break the band reassembled and launched into Mercury 49 - which enables Mike to show that he is a damned fine vocalist as well as an ace guitarist. Fran gave us her seductive and jazzy version of Route 66 (I think this is possibly my favourite arrangement of this classic).  We then had another new number, When When When, followed by the classic Sitting On Top Of The World, before we got some more of Frans own numbers; Big Front Seat and Some Luck.  A few more classics, Little Walter's Blues With A Feeling, Hound Dog and Little Red Hen before a false tab of Fran's new "dark" song, Blood On Your Hands. This is a graphic song about a murder and the angst of the murderer. I haven't dared ask where she got the ideas for that song, but her actress daughter Katie Brayben is currently involved in making a film noir about serial killers, so there may be some mother-daughter empathetic thinking going on. It didn't take us much applause to get the band back on for an encore, and they gave us another new number Mr Blue - which has a wonderful rolling tune which really shows off Frans chocolate/honey voice at it jazz/blues best.  I really like this band and every time I hear them they seem better - and this performance was no exception. We were really pleased to see that The Fran McGillivray Band are number seven in the Independent Blues Broadcaster Association (IBBA) charts of the most played Blues records on the radio in January 2017.
 

Fran, Roger and Mike at Scratchers

 

Mozart & Salieri : Amadeus

Thursday 2nd February
AMADEUstreamed live to The Bracknell Odeon from The National Theatre

Amadeus is a fictional story written as a play by Peter Schaffer - first performed in 1979 - and telling of Antonio Salieri's alleged jealousy and duplicitous management of the career of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The allegation was not just of jealousy, but that Salieri's behaviour consciously contributed to Mozart's death as a pauper in Vienna in 1791 aged only 36. Salieri survived a further twenty six years until 1825, and this famous play is set as a retrospective confessional story as if told by Salieri on the night of his death.  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is portrayed as a rowdy young prodigy with few social graces, a penchant for being spanked by his girlfriend and as a serial womaniser. Awestruck by his genius, and passionately jealous of it, Antonio Salieri was the court composer to the Hapsburg Emperor and had the power to either promote or destroy Mozart's career. Seized by obsessive jealousy, and under the cover of feigned friendship, he undertakes a war with Mozart, with music and, ultimately, with God. The play supposes that Salieri manipulated Mozart s career in a negative way both with the Hapsburg court and through their joint association with Freemasonry; all the while pretending to befriend the musician. Salieri's actions drive Mozart into paupership and an early death. The play even hints that Salieri may have poisoned Mozart. but there is no historical evidence for this, and in reality Mozart probably died in January 1791 from a variety of sexually transmitted diseases and exposure in a cold unheated tenement flat.  We will never know because his body was interred in an anonymous paupers lime pit with twenty other corpses. Salieri had a successful career thereafter although he spent the last years of his life in an institution suffering from what we would now recognise as dementia. However fictional, the story line made a very good and emotionally charged spectacle. The part of Salieri was powerfully played by Lucian Msamati and the role of Mozart by Adam Gillen; both of whom had a phenomenal number of lines and a lot of very emotional acting to deliver in this two and a half hour presentation. They were accompanied by members of The Southbank Sinfonia and some very talented opera singers (who's names I failed to note down).  Gillen's presentation of Mozart was brilliant - like a demented and punk version of Malcolm McLaren - complete with spitting and a bipolar - almost "tourette" like - delivery.  The music and singing was brilliant and featured  - of course - the "best bits" of Mozart's portfolio. Being a "streaming" we were also treated to a documentary like introduction in which some members of the orchestra described what fun it was, and how difficult it was to play when moving around the stage; and in which Lucian Msamati described why he loved the role. Fran and I left the theatre emotionally drained and agreeing that we needed to see the acclaimed film Amadeus, which neither of had experienced, but which we now need to catch up with.
 

 

Tuesday 31st January
Matthew Bourne's production of THE RED SHOES  at The New Victoria Theatre, Woking

The original story of Red Shoes is rooted in a rather bloodthirsty version of the Cinderella fairy tale where the ugly sisters are forced to dance themselves to death. In the early twentieth century version a young dancer named "Vicky Page" makes a pact with the Devil to be able to dance well and he gives her a pair of magic red ballet shoes which enable her to dance brilliantly. She is subsequently visited by a curse from God so that she can neither remove the shoes, nor stop them dancing. In the original story she even cuts her feet off but still gets no relief. While the famous 1948 film was not so graphic; in both stories her only ultimate relief is through death. In the 1948 film this is effected by throwing herself onto the tracks in front of a train.  Matthew Bourne has - of course - worked his own magic upon the story; but unlike most of his previous work, he has perpetuated the outline of the 1948 film production as a ballet within a ballet. His company have produced an amazing stage set - basically the proscenium arch of a theatre on stage - which rotates so that it can appear to be perceived from either the auditorium, or from backstage. It is also lit so that it can represent a number of different theatres - Covent Garden, Monte Carlo and an East End Music Hall. As noted, Bourne provides a similar plot line to the 1948 version with "Vicky Page" using her magic red shoes to become a stand in for the injured principle dancer in Lermontov's ballet company; which involves performing the lead in a production of The Red Shoes. The presentation is embellished by scenes from 1910's high life at Soirees, a party on the beach in Monte Carlo and at an end of season party at Villefrance-Sur-Mer. There are love interests of course between Vicky and the ballet impresario Boris Lermontov, and a composer named Julian Craster - which end up with Vicky and Julian being thrown out of Lermontov's ballet and having to work in an East End Music Hall. Eventually Vicky leaves Julian to return to Lermontov in Monte Carlo, although she is not made welcome by the rest of his corps de ballet. She puts on her red ballet shoes again and dances out of control to a very sudden and amazing death at the end of the show! Out of nowhere a full size steam train emerges onto stage and runs her down amid clouds of smoke and steam! A brilliant show, well done Mr Bourne.
 

Matthew Bourne's - The Red Shoes

 

Jack on his feet at Scratchers

Saturday 14th January
THE JACKIE LYNTON BAND  at Scratchers, The Three Lions, Farncombe, Godalming

What a night!  I gave a lift to Spud Metcalfe and his wife Trish (Happy Birthday Trish) and we arrived about eight o'clock at The Three Lions. The rest of the band were already there, Colin Pattenden and Mike Windus setting up stuff on stage; Jackie Lynton and Adam Russell holding court with some fans in the bar and Chris Bryant out the back talking to the smokers!  It was all very jolly and Sarah-Jane, Claire Windus and Adams landlady, Stephanie, were all there too. We also had a visit from Dave Rees, owner of New Day Records. Dave lives in Newcastle, but was in town this weekend for meetings to organise this years Faversham Festival. Dave had two blokes with him who we didn't know, but one of whom figured large in the later events of the evening!  The Jackie Lynton Band kicked off at nine o'clock and played a great first set which included a very emotional version of Roadhouse Blues, dedicated to Rick Parfitt of Status Quo; who was one of Jackie's best mates, and who passed away on Christmas Eve. There were solos from Mike (Run Run Rudolph - a little late, but still seasonal) and Chris's brilliant arrangement of You Can't Always Get What You Want. They ended the first set with One More Beer - one of Jack's own songs from their latest album. The second half started OK with a dedication of A Mess Of Blues for fan Julie, who likes Elvis. As the evening went on Jack looked increasingly paler and about a quarter to ten he started a new song of his own - I think it was called I Ain't Done Yet; if it was then it turned out to be ironically prophetic!

During Mikes guitar solo in this song Jacks knees gave way and he slumped forward onto his music stand. He started to slide but Sarah-Jane reached him before he hit the ground and called to me to help; between us we managed to hold him up. Then with the help of some others we managed to manoeuvre him off the (thankfully very low) stage onto a chair and tried to keep back the crowds who were pushing around asking if he was OK. Jack was very white, his breathing was very shallow and he was only just conscious.  Among the crowd was the guy who had been talking to Dave Rees earlier in the evening, he was insistently pushing a small aerosol glyceril trinitrate spray at us, shouting that we should spray some under Jacks tongue. Of course we didn't - GT sprays are for angina and they lower the blood pressure, Jack has a history of collapse and his problem has been low blood pressure - so the last thing we needed was to lower it further. Sarah-Jane and I repeatedly told the man to f-off because the spray could be dangerous, but he was having none of it. Meanwhile Sarah-Jane was calling the emergency services, and in the confusion the idiot man sprayed his GT can into Jacks mouth - Jack immediately collapsed, totally unconscious and hardly breathing at all; Sarah-Jane poked him really hard in the chest, which seemed to shock him back into breathing again. By now we the ambulance was on its way and we had a real paramedic at the other end of Sarah-Janes phone. On phoned instructions we lowered Jack from the chair to the ground flat onto his back (despite insistent shouts from the idiot who had poisoned him that we should put him in the "prone" position). I was detailed to kneel beside Jack with the heel of my hand on his breastbone, and with instructions to start thumping if he stopped breathing again. Luckily for us the ambulance crew arrived then and took over. They were horrified by the spray incident and gave a very strong and very public lecture to the man who had nearly killed Jack. Within about a quarter of an hour Jack was conscious again and returning to his old rebellious self (which is to make a joke out of everything). Lying on his back and immobilised with lots of wires from his chest and arms plugged into a portable monitor of some sort - but with a mischievous twinkle in his eye - he beckoned me to get down on my knees again beside him. I did, and then in a stage whisper he said "I'm feelin' better Rog, but give me the kiss of life anyway". He was very quickly returning to normal. By the time he had been thoroughly tested in the ambulance his son Garron had arrived and Jack had regained his stubborn streak.  Predictably he repeatedly refused at point blank to go to hospital with the ambulance, and while the ambulance crew were lecturing him about how he should be in hospital he defiantly lit a cigar, which annoyed them greatly. Meanwhile, Mike had stolen his car keys so that he had no option but to be driven home by his son Garron. Will he learn from this? Probably not.

We checked on Sunday and can confirm that Jack is back to his usual self.
 

 

Friday 13th January
THE NASHVILLE TEENS  at Sunbury Cricket Club

This is becoming an annual event - the first performance of the year at Sunbury Music Club, which is held at Sunbury-On-Thames' Cricket Club.  I set off early to collect Spud Metcalf and Ken Osborne (and Ken's shiny refurbished Marshall Amp and speaker cabinet) and got them to the back door of the gig just before eight o'clock. Simon Spratley was already up on stage while Ray Phillips, Colin Pattenden and Adam Russell were up by the bar mixing with the audience.  I found Paul Watts, chairman of the Cricket Club, and advised him that we had cheekily pencilled Jan 12th 2018 into our diary for next years gig - he seemed pleased. Ray then introduced me to David Birley and his companion, Taff (sorry Taff, didn't catch your surname!).  David is a long time friend of John Hawken and mayor of the little town of Sherborne in Dorset. He wants to book The Nashville Teens for Sherborne's summer festival, but wanted to see them live before confirming the gig.  The music kicked off just after nine o'clock and the band were tight and the sound very good.  I had just finished explaining to Taff that Colin's bass guitar was a five string Alembic, when Colin broke one of his strings, making it temporarily a four string Alembic!  Luckily Col had a spare guitar with him, although during the performance of Red House - which has a fine bass structure - it was clear to those of us who hear the band a lot that the resonance of this £500 instrument wasn't of the same quality as the £8,000 Alembic. In truth there were some minor mistakes in the first half, such as starting songs in unusual keys, but these guys are professional and covered each other adeptly; I don't think many in the audience would have noticed. The band finished their first set a little early so that Colin could fix his strings, and subsequently performed a slightly longer second set. As Paul announced the second set he advised the audience that Monday would be Rays birthday - not disclosing quite how old he was, except that he might remember air raids in the second World War! (which he does). The second set was louder than the first, which didn't enhance the quality, but overall it was a good show and the dance floor was buzzing for most of the time. Ray was particularly on form and his passionate rendition of I Put A Spell on You was one of the best I have ever heard him sing. As the show wound to a close Tobacco Road filled the dance floor and the encore of Born To Be Wild had virtually the whole audience on it's feet.  A brilliant gig and a great start to the New Year.

Teens on Saturday night

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