Pete Atkin and Clive James

TOGETHER AT LAST (1975 tour)

"Rome," as Marc Antony (Richard Burton) announced when Cleopatra (Elizabeth Taylor) made her entrance riding on a sphinx, "has seen nothing like this since Romulus and Remus (Morecambe and Wise)". People are saying the same thing about musician Pete Atkin and lyricist Clive James. Here, AT LAST, are two men whose names are always bracketed TOGETHER. They have been called "the best songwriting team since Lennon & McCartney (Romulus and Remus)" and dubbed "brilliant" so often that they are used to hearing the same word even from their detractors. ("Admittedly James and Atkin are brilliant. But the music they make is not rock/ folk/ pop/ jazz/ modern/ authentic/ sincere/ revolutionary...") Why, then, should it be so unusual to see them on stage simultaneously? And yet so it is, since for much of the time these two gifted individuals pursue entirely separate lives.

After leaving Cambridge, where he met Clive James (see below), Pete Atkin embarked on a career which until recently, before fame began creeping up on him, threatened to make obscurity fashionable. His albums received rave reviews in the music press; in the clubs he became a firm favourite among discerning fans; but his contemptuous avoidance of all gimmickry and affectation meant that there was nothing for the publicity machine to latch on to. Pete Atkin ("sound musician that he is" --- Dave Gelly) became a cult instead of a craze. But recently the cult has become too big to hold back. What we are seeing now is that rarest of all showbiz phenomena --- sheer quality breaking through to a wide public, with no compromise on the one hand and no trumped-up hysteria on the other. The relationship of Pete Atkin to his audience is unique.

So is the relationship of Pete Atkin to Clive James. After leaving Cambridge, where he met Pete Atkin (see above), Clive James became entangled in poetry, criticism, television and journalism, building himself an enviable reputation in each field. But to James it was always writing lyrics for Atkin which mattered most, so that in this fateful year, when his long satirical poem The Fate of Felicity Fark is being hailed as masterly even by its victims and when his television column in the Observer is recognized as the most dazzling critical achievement since Kenneth Tynan (Rex Harrison) arrived in Fleet Street, it is this tour with Pete Atkin --- no ballyhoo, just bare boards and two spotlights --- that gives him the deepest satisfaction. Clive James has been called everything from "bearded Australian presenter of Cinema" to "Byron reborn". But nobody has ever had the nerve to call him a singer, which leads us to our next paragraph.

In TOGETHER AT LAST, Pete Atkin mostly sings while Clive James mostly speaks, thus reflecting their respective roles as music-man and wordsmith. The programme falls neatly into two halves, divided by a fun-filled interval in which the cast will change (or, the budget being what it is, swap) suits. Part One is mainly a choice, with linking commentary, of songs featured on the first five Pete Atkin albums from Beware of the Beautiful Stranger through to Secret Drinker, plus the occasional preview of things to come. Part Two consists of a history of contemporary pop, in which the selfless assistance of New Sounds Express-Maker star reporter Bob Shaar Flood-Peel is gratefully acknowledged. Some of the profuse musical examples are enshrined on the latest Pete Atkin album Live Libel, which I heavily advise you to purchase, or else the company I represent will be sending around a wrecking crew to rip the headlights off your Volvo. Others are too libellous even for that, and are here made public for the one and only time. No wonder people are calling TOGETHER AT LAST "the biggest thing to hit (fill in the name of your town) since Romulus (sound musician that he is) and Remus (bearded Australian presenter of Cinema)". What can I, with a plane to catch, add to that --- except to say that I get 75% of everything they earn? Small bills in a plain buff envelope, boys, and dont forget to randomise the serial numbers.


There will be one interval and both halves of the show will feature Pete Atkin and Clive James. There will be no supporting act on the programme.

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