Thursday 7 May 2009


Lots of terrific music over the last week or so - starting with the so laid back she was almost comatose Madeleine Peyroux at the Barbican in London. I felt a bit out of place frankly as it seemed a bit posh with a cool jazz combo as the opening act with a direct line to "Jazz club" on The Fast Show. I am a terrible sniggerer so it was hard to keep a straight face during the noodling. When the lights came up for the interval the audience to a man and a woman opened their copies of the "Guardian" and the "Independent". Madeleine was terrific and at one point the band assembled in the centre of the stage to do a couple of songs in French which she explained that she used to play in Paris at a little place called "The Street". She then had to explain to the earnest audience that it was actually a joke and she had been busking.

Saturday night is was Hammersmith and Gary Moore. Not seen him in more than 30 years. Last time he was still a teenager. (I was too). He had just left Skid Row and was supporting Curved Air. That makes me feel ancient typing those words. Looking in the mirror the evidence seems to support this - dang!

Gaz did what Gaz does. With the vocal mike to the side of the stage you know you are in for an evening of intense fretboard activity. As a non musician it was a treat to spot which guitar was going to do what tune. The way it works is I think: The red one was blistering. The bronze one was distorting. The brown one was searing and the white one was twangy. There were a load of others but it did end up being a bit of a blur. There was also the slight problem that guitar players have of not being able to end a tune. I have a suspicion they are bewitched so that once the final chord has died away there has to be another twenty or thirty seconds of extreme high end finger work before it eventually grinds to a halt.

Another hallmark of the guitar legend is the posturing. We had "crouching" note, we had "legs apart mouth open" note. There was also "striding purposefully" arpeggio and my personal favourite "Monarch of the glen 1000 yard stare straight back full height" sustain. People were shouting out song titles and at one point someone yelled "I'm exhausted". Not sure if that was a song or just that the silver strings had taken their toll.

No prisoners were taken and it was a great gig and as one of you pointed out on my show later in the week, ‘We don't need an army - any trouble in the world, send Gary and his guitar.’ They would be stunned into a total shock and awe type defeat within seconds of him launching into "Further on up the Road".

Sunday and I was invited to go to Popham airfield in Hampshire to meet some mates who had flown in from Wolverhampton's Halfpenny Green airport in their flex wing micro lights for a micro light weekend. All sorts of weird and wonderful flying machines were on show including some gyrocopters. The air was buzzing with some very strange looking machines and there were even weirder ones on the ground including a First World War German replica. The guy who was selling it was explaining that the reasons he wanted to build and fly one was so that he could call up air traffic control on his radio and say "I am the little Fokker". Stan Boardman has a lot to answer for!

After my trip in a micro light last year (see previous blogs), various people have been trying to get me to learn to fly. None more so than Steve Wilkes who runs a flying school Hadair at Halfpenny Green. Here he is with his partner Jo second right in the picture with mates John and Alan. It is not as expensive as flying the "big" type Cessna type planes it is sorely tempting but I will need to check the pennies. Everyone was terribly friendly and no one spoke in that clipped "this is your captain speaking" type Airline speak. Even better no one had that laconic RAF style about them either "zero feet Algy nearly bought it in his kite". Which would be a big turn off. Everyone seemed normal and had proper ordinary jobs like being a builder, a salesman or working for IT support. They had arrived the day before and had camped out in teeny tiny tents after spending a convivial evening in a bigger tent on the airfield that contained beer.

Monday night and it was more guitar. This time at the Royal Albert Hall - Joe Bonamassa who started out as a child prodigy and has grown into a guitar hero. This was obviously a big gig for him and near the end he did say it had been the best night of his life. It looked like it was being filmed for a DVD. When I arrived I bumped into a load of Radio 2 people who I didn't know were going. The seats were in the "choir" section which meant we were behind the stage. This gave us a rather interesting view - the back of the band and also a different sound picture. Joe had two drummers so we got a lot of cymbal splashes and percussion and unfortunately as the PA was pointing in the opposite direction we lost a lot of the lyrics in the mix. Joe as a guitar legend also has a vast collection of instruments including a Theremin which he played with his hand and also his guitar neck at one point, watching the audience reaction from our vantage point as he strode the stage giving them his version of "Crouching note". "Legs apart mouth open" note”, “Striding purposefully" arpeggio and "Monarch of the glen 1000 yard stare (with dark glasses) straight back full height" sustain. It was quite eerie as he cut quite a Messianic figure. Suddenly the place went berserk as he introduced Eric Clapton for "Further on up the Road". "That was the coolest thing I have ever done" he admitted.

Lot of music and a lot of guitar. Been a terrific week. So went home and checked out the BBC Four Blues Season. I had recorded a documentary about Bobby Bland who I nearly saw as a teenager when he toured the UK with B.B King. Come the night, only B.B turned up. Usual documentary drill: Talking heads. Black and white photos. Record labels and concert footage. Fell asleep as Bobby launched into "Further on up the road".


Paul F said...

It was a pleasant surprise to be woken up by your soothing tones this morning at 0630 Dark Lord. Ah, poor old Bunty and her hayfever.... For one half awake groggy minute I thought you'd staged the long promised coup of the Dawn Patrol ;)

Happy Birthday to you also - hope you have a good one despite the unexpected overtime this morning (or had a good one if you did something last weekend - being a half-ling I missed your show this morning).


Twilight said...

Many Happy Returns, Alex!
I reckon you're much more Gemini than Taurus - (apart from that little matter of blubber-watch - I think that kind of thing tends to be stock-in-trade for Taurus).
Have a good one!

Mike from Pudsey said...

Belated Happy Birthday for yesterday Alex.

PS Whatever happened to blubberwatch? Have you reached target weight and are too modest to admit it?

Black Cat said...

Happy belated Birthday Dork Lard! Hope you had a good one, despite the unexpected overtime. You seem to be mostly having a good time anyhoo, which is good.

Sorry I haven't visited for so long. Have you missed me? Haha! :) xxx