Sunday, October 18, 2009
What a great year of music it has been.I have seen Van Morrison,Neil Young,Crosby Stills and Nash,Bruce Springsteen and now the gig to top them all,the legendary John Otway and Wild Willy Barrett at the Cheese And Grain in Frome.
We got to the pub just before 7.00 and Sash was already waiting as well as Mark,Angela,Chris, Chrissie,Big Mark and Curly.We met Phil later.I haven't seen such a gang of jolly boys and girls setting off for a gig in another town since i saw Hawkwind in Kings Lynn in 1974.Then Fred turned up,it was great to see Fred again because i have known Fred since we ran together on the mean streets of Peterborough back in the day.Sash,Kim and i piled into Freds car and he gunned that sucker down the highway towards Frome.We crossed the county line into the badlands of Somerset and arrived at the Cheese and Grain.This is an ancient market hall that was used in the the olden days for selling cheese and er grain.There was nobody there!
I tapped on the door and this man told me that they opened at 8.00.We were first in the queue.As soon as it opened we bagged our seats in the front row and headed to the bar.They had some real ale called 'The Usual'.I had a pint of 'The Usual' and who should i see at the bar but Otway himself.I introduced myself in my usual drunken manner and had a bit of a chat and then introduced him to Kim and we told him about the last time we spoke which was in the Argyll Pub in London before his 50th birthday party at the London Palladium and he said that night was one of his favourite moments of his career and showed us a film of it on his mobile phone.What a nice bloke he is.I got him to sign the back of my ticket and shortly after i met Willy Barrett and he signed Kims ticket,Willy Barrett is a really friendly person as well.
We went for a ciggy outside and when we returned the support band 'Sun Machine' we on stage,we listened to a few numbers,they were good for a local band.The girl singer was very good.We went back to the bar and ended up outside again chatting to some people, then it was show time!
Willy Barrett had enough instruments on stage to open a music shop.The first song they did was LOUISA ON A HORSE from their brilliant first album which i bought 32 years ago and still have.Willy excelled himself on violin on this one.I love this song with its references to Otways home area around Aylesbury.Then Otway sang the poignant GYPSY which is about how Otway in his youth saw a fortune teller who predicted his rise to fame,so she is the one to blame.Then they did their hit REALLY FREE in which Barrett played a musical wheely bin,i haven't seen Kim laugh so much in years.It was quite brilliant.BEST DREAM followed which is a great song and shows how Otway really is a great songwriter.One of my favourites followed, THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS which has supurb lyrics about the days of punk and a girl who was the last in her town to have a mohican hairstyle.Another great song followed IF I DID from their eponymous first album.This was followed by their version of Alfred Noyes epic poem THE HIGHWAYMAN which was quite supurb.MURDER MAN was the next song which Otway said was originally called Lonely Man but he changed the title and ensured it got no radio play.
I went for another pint of 'The Usual' at this point and heard Otway doing BODY TALK with the aid of the theramin and also the Rolf Harris classic TWO LITTLE BOYS.'The Usual' was taking it's toll by now and i'm not sure what the next song was called, it might have been 21 DAYS,it was good anyway.The classic CHERYL'S GOING HOME was next which brought back memories of their ill-fated appearance on the Old Grey Whistle Test( See Video).The evening came to an end with BLUEY GREEN,the fantastic BEWARE OF THE FLOWERS and JET SPOTTER OF THE TRACK.This was supurb and i told Willy afterwards that they should have dedicated it to Jenson Button who comes from Frome and might be world motor racing champion today.Anyway never mind.Wait, there was one final song GENEVA an Otway classic which ended with Barrett sawing up his guitar and smashing it with a claw hammer and then playing the bagpipes.
We drove back through the Somerset night, back to The Crown for a last one and then knocked it on the head and went home.What a great evening it had been.If you read this Otway and Barrett, thank you very much.