Posts Tagged ‘spoken word’

John Lydon, I Could Be Wrong, I Could Be Right Durham Gala Theatre 18 October 2021

LYDON TIX“He’s a legend and an icon, a revolutionary and an immortal. John Lydon – aka Johnny Rotten – changed the face of music and sparked a cultural revolution. The frontman and lyricist of the Sex Pistols and Public Image Ltd (PiL) caused a political earthquake and transformed music for good. To coincide with the publication of his new book, the brilliant, funny and insightful I Could Be Wrong, I Could Be Right, he is touring the UK. Lydon will talk about how he sees life, along with his unique and extraordinary career, and take audience questions during a pyrotechnic, one-off tour. Lydon will be sharing his thoughts with audiences. He Could Be Wrong. He Could Be Right.”(Tour announcement, 2019)

LYDON 5You couldn’t get much more of a contrast: Cliff Richard two days ago and then John Lydon! Two very different icons of popular music. But then, perhaps not as far apart as you might imagine: “Lydon, the uncompromising man of punk, explained his admiration for Cliff Richard: “My parents had a fantastic collection. It wasn’t just Irish folk tunes and accordion diddly-doos, there was early Beatles and lots of Cliff Richard too. The first record I would have ever wanted to buy was ‘Move It!’ by Cliff Richard. It was a really good song at the time and still is.” Richard may be a bit square now, but he influenced tonnes of acts form the sixties. “Early Cliff was a riotous assembly of sorts, and he had moves that left a good impression on a 5 year old.”” (Far Out)

I waited some time for this one. It was originally announced in 2019 and scheduled for 2020; then postponed until 2021. This is quite a lengthy tour, seeing Lydon visit venues up and down the country, promoting his latest book: I could be Wrong, I could be Right. I bought a copy of the book when it was initially issued; one of 5000 signed copies, each presented in a lovely box featuring one of John’s paintings on the cover (see images). Now I have seen John at a similar event a few years ago when he was promoting his last book, in Manchester, where I was lucky enough to meet the man himself and have him sign my book. I have already written about that encounter.

LYDON 1The stage was nicely set out with two red velvet chairs, one for John and one for his on tour interviewer. We weren’t allowed to take photographs, hence the image of the stage setup. The evening consisted of two segments separated by a short interval. The entire show lasted around two hours. The first segment was devoted to John telling us some memories of his life. The second and final segment took the form of a question-and-answer session. Attendees were allowed to write questions on special cards and post these in a box, placed at the front of the stage, during the interval.

John was on good form. He really doesn’t care what he says or who he may offend; but then, that’s just him, as he always was. The first segment started with John talking about his early years and being brought up by Irish Catholic parents: a father who finished every sentence with “you f**king c**t!” This phrase would reappear throughout the evening along with many other expletives. One thing I have learned about John, is that he is a mixture of 100% authentic, some exaggeration and speaks from the heart. Through all that he is very, very funny and there is a total honesty about the guy. I hope all that mix makes some sense, somehow. Anyway, that’s how he comes over to me. And so the story continues. We learn a lot about his childhood in a Catholic school run by nuns and priests who abused him in several LYDON 4ways. He talks a lot, and becomes quite emotional, about his wife Nora who has Alzheimers and for whom John is now primary carer. He has been with Nora since the 1970s and she is of German origin and the mother of the late Ari Up of the all girl punk band, The Slits. He clearly has a deep love for the lady and speaks with great affection about how best to deal with, in a very positive way, those who suffer from Alzheimers. He talks also about Jimmy Savile and how he outed Savile on the BBC in the 1970s, only to be banned by the Corporation from then on. He talks briefly about Sex Pistols and the recent court case, referring to his former bandmates in less than harmonious terms; involving more expletives. I guess I won’t be going to any Sex Pistols reunion gig for some time; if ever! “Speaking on the opening night of his extensive ‘I Could Be Wrong, I Could Be Right’ spoken-word tour this week, he ranted: “They’ve turned themselves into really greedy, selfish, nasty f****. But c’est la vie.” (Contactmusic) “JOHNNY Rotten shouted “liars, liars filthy liars!” on Good Morning Britain” (The Sun)

During the interval I chat with my carer Lisa and my sister-in-law Elaine, who has come along with us to the show as she is a fan of John and the Pistols. Now there is a story about this if you will bear with me for a minute. When I was going to see Sex Pistols at Scarborough Penthouse with my late wife, Marie and my friend Trevor, Elaine was a young teenager and cried for us to take her along to see the band. However, the Penthouse being an over 18 venue, we felt we could not risk it as she may not have been allowed entry. She was very upset, and has remained a fan since those days. Back to the show. I also partake in a nice cold pint of LYDON 3Guinness which goes down really well (even through one of those horrible paper straws).

The final segment of the show is the question-and-answer. This features questions about the recent legal case, and one which, most of all, both surprises and pleases me. John is asked who his favourite bands were before he joined Sex Pistols. His answer is, Roxy Music, The Kinks, and to my surprise: the Edgar Broughton Band, Pink Fairies and Status Quo. About the latter, he explains that Status Quo were a pretty great rock band in the early 70s; a sentiment which I fully agree with. He talks about putting his head into the bass bin at a Status Quo concert, something which I remember doing at a Motorhead gig. Very foolish. But Edgar Broughton! I was delighted to hear that he was a fellow fan. Indeed he went on to quote the main line of Edgar Broughton’s single “Gone Blue”: “I love that little hole in the back of her head”. I still don’t fully understand what Edgar was referring to there. Anyway, back to John. Another question asked if he believed Sid would still be alive if he had not met Nancy. John answered “No” and revealed that Sid’s mother was a heroin addict who gave Sid some heroin for his 14th birthday! He spoke quite emotionally and touchingly about his love of Sid and how he was his best mate. He also revealed a love of one of my own heroes: Alice Cooper, and talked about how he auditioned for Sex Pistols in Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood’s SEX shop in the Kings Road, by singing Alice’s “Eighteen” and “Schools Out” in front of a jukebox. The evening finished with John discussing his love of reggae music, how it influenced Public Image Ltd and leading us in a singalong similar to his single “Rise”.

LYDON 2Both Lisa and Elaine really enjoyed the show, as did I. A very entertaining evening with an icon of punk rock and popular culture. It doesn’t come much better than Cliff one night and John two nights later. A short taxi ride and we were back home where Lisa and Elaine hoisted me back into my bed with thoughts of John and Edgar Broughton swirling around in my head, no doubt aided by the pint of Guinness. A great night.

Francis Rossi I Talk Too Much Newcastle Tyne Theatre 2 August 2021

FRANCIS TIXWell it finally came. My first concert for almost 2 years. I was excited and, I must admit, a little nervous. My first outing was to see my old friend/hero Francis Rossi of Status Quo at Newcastle Tyne Theatre on a spoken word tour, promoting his autobiography I Talk Too Much. So off I went, with my friendly taxi driver and my carer Lisa, armed with my copy of the book (which I hoped to have signed by Francis) to the lovely old Tyne Theatre in Westgate Road, Newcastle.

FRANCIS 3“In this explosive new memoir, the famously indiscreet Rossi reveals the true-life stories behind his unbelievable career. Painfully honest at times, the book covers the glory years, the dark days, the ups and downs of his relationship with the late Rick Parfitt and the real stories behind the creation of some of the greatest rock music of all time” (I Talk Too Much — FRANCIS ROSSI)

We arrived just in time to take our seats for the prompt 7:30 PM start. The stage was set with two nice comfy chairs one soon-to-be taken by Francis and the other by his interviewer/compere Mick Wall, renowned Rock journalist and author. Mick opened the proceedings by warming us up with a vintage video, which we have all seen and love, of Status Quo, a young Francis and Rick, playing “Pictures of Mastic Men” on Top of the Pops. It took us all back to the start and was a great introduction to the star of the show, Francis Rossi who took to the stage with a bow, his usual cheeky grin and sat down opposite Mike. And so the evening, and the fun, began. We had a great view, three rows from the front to the left of the stage.

FRANCIS 1Those of you who have ever seen Status Quo live will know that Francis is, by nature, a cheeky, chatty chap. He started by going back to his early life, reminiscing about his Italian, ice cream shop and van, roots in London and how his father would sing to him in Italian and how he soon learned to play the trumpet and then the guitar. The story moved on to forming a band with old friend and ex-Status Quo bass player, Alan Lancaster, how they went on to play at Butlins and met a flashy young face called Rick Parfitt. Soon they were together as Status Quo and Francis told us of how he wrote “Pictures of Matchstick Men”, basing it roughly on Jimi Hendrix’s “Hey Joe”. Francis picked up a guitar, playing and singing to demonstrate how he wrote their first hit record.

There was a box at the front the stage where you could post written questions in the first half of the show. Mick Wall then collected the box during the interval and selected some questions to ask Francis. I didn’t ask a question but one thing I should have asked is “When and why did Mike become Francis?” As I recall, in the late 60s and early 70s, he was always known as Mike Rossi and then somewhere along the line during the 70s he became Francis Rossi. I always wondered why, and still do. Maybe one day I may get the chance to ask him. The first half of the evening finished with the story moving on to the emergence of Status Quo the triumphant rock and boogie band that we all know and love, illustrated by some great video footage of the band at the height of their fame playing “Down Down”, “Rocking All Over the World” and “Whatever You Want”.

FRANCIS 4During the interval I treated myself to a glass of red wine, sat back in my chair and waited for Francis to return. Soon the show resumed and we moved on to tales of how they opened Live Aid, which I was lucky enough to attend in Wembley Stadium, Francis explaining that nobody really wanted the opening slot but they realised how important the concert, the event would be and how being the opening act would be a great place to be on the bill. Then there were tales of the breakup of the band, the re-emergence with Francis and Rick leading a new version of Status Quo and being back in the charts with “In the Army Now”. All of this was delivered with Francis’ usual cheeky Cockney charm. Then he moved through the years talking quite emotionally about the sad passing of Rick and the latest Francis led version of Status Quo. I must admit I always had my doubts about Francis continuing after Rick’s passing but I guess it is in his blood and to him it obviously seemed the natural thing to do.

FRANCIS 2

And so a new era of Status Quo has begun. We then moved on to Mick Wall asking a few selected questions to Francis. One question concerned two blondes in the back of a Rolls-Royce as Francis and Rick drove into Manchester Belle Vue in the 70s. Francis quickly swerved the question of who the blondes were, changing the topic to the fact that the Bay City Rollers had played the venue the evening before, resulting in all the seats being smashed up! Cleverly done Francis. Somewhere along the way we also got an amusing tale of how he tried, and failed, to evacuate Cardiff Capitol Theatre during a bomb scare, on the orders of the police. The evening closed with Francis singing “Caroline”. Lisa and I quickly nipped out the back hoping to be first in the queue to get my book signed, only to learn that the book signing was not going to happen, I guess, and quite understandably, due to Covid.

And then it was off back in our taxi, on our journey home, picking up Chris on the way to help put me back to bed. I was soon back in my bed at around 10:45 PM. Quite a civilised evening for my first venture out. Well I did it. More to come in the future. Thanks to Francis for a lovely, friendly evening and a gentle start to my return to concert going.