Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Melanie Safka In Frome
I discovered the music of Melanie in the early 1970's when i was at Teacher Training College in North Wales and i immediately fell in love with her and her message of peace.I bought all her albums,Candles In The Rain,Leftover Wine,Live At Carnegie Hall, Gather Me,Garden In The City,Four Sides Of Melanie,Madrugada,The Good Book and others that i can't remember off-hand.She was prolific in the 70's and all her albums were brilliant.What a great songwriter she is. I never did see her though.She was on at Glastonbury in the early 1980's and i was really looking forward to seeing her but i drank so much cider i collapsed in a heap somewhere and missed her.
Decades went by and i don't know why but i just lost interest in Melanie and my vinyl albums gradually disappeared into the mists of time.Then a couple of weeks ago i saw a poster on a wall in Westbury which said that Melanie was appearing at The Cheese And Grain in Frome and i decided i should start my summer of music by seeing Melanie.I went with Kim and My friend Fred who told me that Melanie had been sampled by a Hip-Hop band who he liked called The Cunnin'Lynguists which is a very unfortunate name but a great record (I wonder if Melanie has heard it).
Anyway, the three of us were standing ouside the venue having a chat and a van drew up and a hippy looking bloke dashed inside.This turned out to be Melanie's son Beau-Jarred who opened the show.He is a wizard on guitar and played some amazing pieces, some of which reminded you of Bach's baroque music.At other times he even played the guitar behind his head a la Jimi Hendrix.Then it was time for Melanie.It was great to finally see her after all these years.After a little chat with the audience she began with one of my favourites, CLOSE TO IT ALL and i was immediately taken back to that room at college when i first heard her.It was as if time didn't exist at all.The next song was one i didn't recognise or have forgotten called THE SUN AND THE MOON and i must admit that i got a bit irritated because i couldn't hear the words properly,i think the mixing desk had a few technical problems.As the evening went on though i forgot about the mixing problems.THE NICKEL SONG was next,one of her more commercial songs and i seem to remember having this on a single back in 71.Then she sang HI LILI HI LO which she told us came from a Danny Kaye film but i remember as a hit for Alan Price.Melanies version is great and was followed by what i think is a new song called FIRST THING I SEE which is supurb and shows Melanie still has retained her songwriting ability.This was proved by another excellent song called LITTLE BIT OF ME.
Melanie was ably supported on guitar by Beau-Jarred throughout who then produced an instument i had never seen before which sounds like an electric cello and sounds great and reminded me of Nick Drake.Melanie then sang another audience request I REALLY LOVED HAROLD.This was followed by another new (To me) song called MAKE IT WORK FOR ME.Then a classic,Melanie's stunning version of RUBY TUESDAY which i think is lyrically the Stones greatest song which Melanie manages to make even more meaningful and moving.LOVE DOESN'T HAVE TO HURT was followed by BRAND NEW KEY which i think is Melanie's biggest hit and is really good fun."We're in Wurzel country",said Melanie with a grin!.SMILE followed and is a song Melanie wrote in the aftermath of 9/11 and is a very profound song.BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE followed which is one of my personal favourites and shows that as a singer/songwriter Melanie is one of the all time greats.LAY DOWN/CANDLES IN THE RAIN was next just to underline what great inspirational songs she has written.It was almost the end but not before LOOK WHAT THEY DONE TO MY SONG MA one of her most famous songs.The evening ended with another song i didn't recognise called I'D LIKE TO LEAVE YOU WITH SOMETHING WARM.She did!
Afterwards Melanie patiently signed autographs and spoke to everyone who waited behind.That shows what a nice person she is.Also the concert was for charity in aid of SCOPE.One of the reasons i first liked Melanie all those years ago was that she was gorgeous and meeting her briefly after the gig i can confirm that she most certainly still is!
Melanie said she hated the picture of herself on this poster but she was still kind enough to sign it for me.