Tuesday, 13 December 2011

MOORE THAN WORDS CAN SAY

First time ever I saw his face?  He was on stage at the Bedford, a big, brash pub in Balham, South East London, introducing acts from LIPA (the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts), which is housed in Paul McCartney's old school.  His bald head shone in the spotlight, his shirt was brighter than a vicar's smile, and he exuded a tangible excitement as he welcomed to the stage a seemingly endless stream of astonishing talent. He was in his element that night. He always is. Few can combine the arts of songwriting and performing with those of producer, artist manager, promoter, broadcaster, music pundit and club host  - all distinct and separate skills with at times conflicting agendas - the way Tony Moore can. The charm helps. Charm, not smarm.  He's a Pina Colada of a man.  You can't help but drink him.

A Bristol-born guitarist, keyboard-player and singer whose first professional gig was as a backing musician for a young, up-coming band called Iron Maiden, Tony went on to score a Number One hit in Holland with Radio Java.  In 1987 as part of the Cutting Crew line-up, he again enjoyed top-slot chart success when the band's biggest hit 'I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight' smashed it in 17 countries. 

It was to be a good ten years before he found his true calling as the godfather of new, unsigned acts.  For 6 years, until 2003, his Kashmir Klub thrummed under a pizza joint near my old college stomping ground, Marylebone High Street. Many of the unknown, unsigned young artists who got to make their mistakes in sympathetic company and perfect their art on its modest basement stage went on to become household names - K.T. Tunstall, Damien Rice and The Feeling among them.  Paul McCartney turned up once night, and sat quietly in the audience.  Chrissie Hynde, Mick Fleetwood, Sheryl Crowe, Emmylou Harris and a plethora of other established stars came too.  It was that kind of place.  Then the pizza place's lease ran out, Tony found Balham and the Bedford, and the rest is kind of history. 

How does he find time to get involved in such an exhilarating list of ventures?  Your guess is as good as mine.  The Regal Room venue, upstairs at the Distillers public house, Hammersmith;  his annual Midem showcase;  his reciprocal jaunts overseas;  his television, radio and charity work;  masterminding the career of his fabulously talented young artist, Ilona;  not to mention his own songwriting and recording.  I will never know how he found the resources to study for and achieve a private pilot's licence, but achieve it he did.  He then used it selflessly to fly around the country raising money for the Teenage Cancer Trust. That's Tony. There is more than a page of magic to his spells.

We found ourselves sitting side by side for Paul McCartney at the 02 the other week.  The smile never left his face. He even sang to me, quoting Beatles, Mc Cartney and Wings release dates and chart positions softly in my ear.  I stared at him, surprised, not having taken him for an anorak. He used that word on himself, once or twice, so at least I was off the hook. Last Sunday, as I sat beside him yet again in a BBC Radio London studio, listening to his appraisals of two terrific artists, Mark Hole and Katy Carr, I was humbled.  I'd been invited on Jo Good's Sunday Sessions show only because Tony wanted to help me promote my new biography of Freddie Mercury. He needn't have bothered, but that's him. There are a few as good as Tony in the business of making music. But not enough.

No comments:

Post a Comment