Thursday, 12 November 2015

THE LAST GIG? COME UP AND SEE ME


What are the stand-outs?
Bowie at Madison Square Garden, Serious Moonlight tour, 1983.
I interviewed David in his dressing room, pre-show – he always preferred to do the chats early, get them over with – and we had dinner together afterwards. I was invited back out to the last gig on that tour, at the Hong Kong Coliseum in Hung Hom. The show coincided with the third anniversary of John Lennon’s death. David and Slick were thinking of playing ‘Across the Universe’ as a tribute, but then David said, if we’re going to do it at all, we should probably do ‘Imagine’. They rehearsed the song in Bangkok and performed it in Kowloon. It was from heaven.
The Who revisiting ‘Tommy’ at the Universal Amphitheater LA, 1989, one of my last before I came off the road full-time. A charity gig, unforgettable. Elton, Steve Winwood, Phil Collins, Billy Idol and the rest performed with Pete, Roger and John. They’d just parted company with Kenney Jones after a decade, sadly, so Simon Phillips was on drums. The after-show was a train wreck, we lost three days.
The Stones, 1982, for Tattoo You, an extension of their massive arena tour across America the previous year. The tour on which Keith whacked a fan. Hampton Coliseum Virginia, December 1981. A guy leapt out of nowhere and came charging across the stage towards Mick during ‘Satisfaction’ – God knows where security were. Keith walloped him with his black Fender Telecaster and carried on playing as the guards woke up and manhandled the guy off. The guitar stayed in tune!
Live Aid, of course. July 1985. Queen stole it. Who remembers much else about that day? We remember Bowie, all cool in his powder-blue suit. The sound going down on The Who. Phil Collins catching the Concorde to perform at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia, right after Wembley. Paul McCartney playing live for the first time since John died, and his piano mic going down at the start, and Geldof, Bowie, Pete Townshend and Alison Moyet singing back-up on ‘Let It Be’. Madonna’s gravity-defying antics, le Bon’s bum note of all time, on ‘A View To a Kill’. But it was Freddie and Queen who owned Live Aid.
I saw Prince play an impromptu gig at the Kensington Roof Gardens, I can’t remember what year, but is was unforgettable. Saw INXS the first time at the Montreux Rock Festival in 1986, and couldn’t take my eyes off Michael Hutchence. Ten sex symbols for the price of one in a white jeans jacket and smudgy strides. So much of the Jagger about him even then; even the hands were hypnotic.
Women? Tiny Pat Benatar. Tina. Whitney. Dolly. Debbie. My favourite Blondie show was Hammersmith Odeon, January 1980; all the girls fell for Debs that night. ‘One Way or Another’, who could forget.
I have sometimes caught myself wondering: what will be the last gig I ever attend, and will I know it's the last one, or be simply oblivious? I came close to knowing last night, I think, at the Indigo O2, where Steve Harley reunited with his old partners in crime: sublime guitarist Jim Cregan (Rod Stewart), Stuart Elliot (Kate Bush, Macca, Al Stewart) and Duncan Mackay (10CC), playing together for the first time since 1976. Long-serving Cockney Rebeller Barry Wickens was there, of course, on violin and guitar. Austrian twins Mona and Lisa Wagner, YES their real names, lent fantastic second guitar, percussion and backing vocals. They performed the entire 'Best Years of Our Lives' album plus a selection of greats - 'Sebastian', and 'the pension fund': 'Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)', which Steve promised years ago to perform at my funeral. Every time I see him, he asks me if I've got a date. Who knows, maybe I have, I just don't know it yet. After Jim Diamond, anything can happen.
How fab, Julie Driscoll, Rod Stewart and his wife Penny in the audience. Rod's acclaimed new album 'Another Country' features a song penned by Steve and Jim in 2001. 'A Friend for Life' is the one that's going to haunt me for the rest of the century. Said Rod, 'I dropped one of my own songs off the album so that I could include this one. I've always wanted to record it. Steve's over the moon about it. He needed a new roof for his house.'
A whole lotta love in that place last night. Maybe it sounds trite, but who cares. It was as musical as it gets. I was reminded what a proud, creative, sensational musician Steve is. What a deeply probing lyricist. What a good geezer. Underrated for most of his life, but it don't bother him none. He has everything he needs. 
The last gig? Who knows. Who can ever know. But if that was it, I'll have no complaints. Come up and see me.

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