Title: Thirty Year Words (Sevenoaks 30 - 9 - 2005)
Post by jimscrivener on Today at 01:19
Thirty years ago is a long way back. They were on stage at Hull University. The Live Libel tour. 1970-something. I felt like I was the only person in the room who even knew who they were. Certainly one of only a few who knew the songs. The rest were mostly drunk and wondering why we didn’t have a danceable band that week.
Somehow I wiggled my way into the interval room, feeling the need to say, at least, thank you – for providing the soundtrack of my sixth form and the beginnings of my adult life. And I said something like thank you – and then – as official representative of those who knew the songs – asked if they could play Laughing Boy. But they said that it wasn’t in tonight’s show. Then I was swiftly removed from the room as someone realised that I wasn’t one of the Ents. staff providing half-time water and whatever.
I left feeling odd, feeling like a failed fan. Meeting heroes in the guise of humans. From the performers’ side it must sound like so much of the same sound-bites – either from the half-ignorant or from the half-fanatic.
What can you say in 20 seconds before voices that have filled those hours, those nights? The owners and creators of words and music that wrapped around you and somehow became part of you, hummed as you walk, recited as you drive, phrases retrieved as commentaries on moments of your days that echo moments of some day that Clive had years before.
You can’t really tell them that – and if you try - in a sound-bite - it must sound like the over-enthused, the over-obsessed. I’ve often remembered that failed attempt. What could I say next time given a chance? It’s like imagining what you’d say to Dylan should you find him in a café round the corner.
Thirty years. I hadn’t been able to see any of the earlier revivals because I was living in Hungary – and the world tours haven’t yet reached there. But tonight - a ticket for Sevenoaks.
It was wonderful. Songs I love – living again, unfolding in front of me. Pete’s voice, if anything, stronger, clearer, better than ever. Clive nodding, as if in pleasure at recalling the words as they appeared.
And at the end, Laughing Boy. It felt like I was finally getting the request I’d asked for thirty years before. I was crying (and not just because Clive was singing). Or maybe that was part of it - hearing the author of the words singing them. And the joy at seeing Clive point at himself and half-stand for applause at the "leading young poetic hope of the whole planet Earth" line.
No need to push my way through backstage. In the foyer area (where I felt convinced that once again I was one of only two or three people who had ever heard these songs before) we have the merchandising table – with two heroes seated and smiling and signing.
A thirty-year old quandary. What do you say? Try again – something like Thank you – the songs have been a big part of the soundtrack of my life. Then maybe that I saw you both 30 years before. But it all sounds a bit naff. Getting a signature is perhaps the acceptable accepted ritual for contact between performer and fan. I’d brought some CD’s and I’m thrilled that they now have both signatures on them. And I’d brought Clive’s book of poetry “The Book of My Enemy (… has been Remaindered)”.
So what did I say? Told him that I’d bought the book as a remainder for 3.99.
OK – now another thirty years to plan my next brilliant attempt to contact a hero.
Pete. Clive. If you read this. Thank you. You were wonderful. Then. Now.
Title: Re: Thirty Year Words (Sevenoaks 30 - 9 - 2005)
Post by Carole on Today at 05:57
What a brilliant post Jim! I'm reading this from a lodge in Canmore, Alberta, with snow on the mountain tops, but now I can't wait to go to IOW! Thank you.
Title: Re: Thirty Year Words (Sevenoaks 30 - 9 - 2005)
Post by Keith on Today at 14:08
Jim wasn't the only one there who knew the songs, though I have to say the audience could perhaps be best described as coolly appreciative - no jiving in the aisles.
Clive said at one point it was noticeable how Pete's performance of some of the songs had changed and was mellower. This was particularly true of 'Prince of Aquitaine', but on some of the others, particularly when he was playing the Atkin guitar (he also played a Taylor with nylon strings on a couple of songs) he achieved a real rock/blues feel.
I was too shy to thank them afterwards for a splendid evening, so I simply asked Pete when the Australia CD would finally appear, but my wife and I enjoyed the show very much, as we did when we saw them at the Gardner Arts Centre in Sussex in 2003 - also the first night of the tour, if I remember correctly.
This next bit is sad but I'm a civil servant so you have to make allowances. During the Sevenoaks gig Clive and Pete had an exchange about how Kenny Everett was sacked shortly after he started playing 'Master of the Revels'. Pete said Kenny was sacked for suggesting that there was something improper in the way the then Minister of Transport's wife had passed her driving test. This happened in July 1970, but the Minister of Transport in question was not, as Pete said, Ernest Marples (of M1 opening, Beeching appointment and 'Marples must go' stickers fame [sic]) but John Peyton, whose only claim to fame was his wife passing her driving test. Marples was Minister of Transport from 1959 to 1964, I believe, while Peyton held the post from 1970 to 1974.
I trust the rest of the tour goes well and is enjoyed by performers and audience alike.
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