I was partying with myself in the new vinyl room last night when the news broke that Bobby Keys was dead, and then it was Ian Maclagan. Both men were around 70, and may not have been in the best of health. Keys was the 5th or 6th Rolling Stone, playing rock sax, but with feeling, on their most memorable albums including ‘Exile on Main Street’ and 'Sticky Fingers’. Maclagan, a keyboardist, was one of the Small Faces before joining the Faces with Rod Stewart. Songs were played in his honour on BBC 6 Music. The Small Faces never sounded better, in part because the DJ avoided the kitsch singles in favour of maturer album tracks.
At the Congress Theatre, Eastbourne last month I had a great seat among the wrinklies to witness the spectacle of a ‘60s Gold Night’. We had got tickets primarily because Gerry and the Pacemakers were headlining. Gerry can do no wrong in my book for his take on ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ and for writing and singing ‘Ferry Across the Mersey’. Gerry was ill. Fortunately his Pacemakers actually did live up to their name and were a comparatively spritely house band for much of the evening. Spencer Davis was there. He was without Stevie or Muff (a-huh) Winwood, but, backed by the Pacemakers, the old guy almost sounded urgent at times. The Searchers were in great form. Altogether now… “Needles and Pinzzahh…” Yeah.
PJ Proby stole the show though. 76 and looking and sounding every bit like a performer in a club scene from a John Walters or David Lynch film. His hit version of ‘Somewhere’ became alt-cabaret as he strained to stay in tune but was no less moving for it. What a star.
Gazza’s glitter fades
I attended an alternative disco for overgrown school kids at Hammersmith Odeon last Friday. It was billed as a Gary Numan gig. Gaza was ill. After a few numbers I wished he had cancelled. Middle-aged women tousled their hair, Gazza fashion, and routinely pointed at the bewildering object of their desires. One particularly bovine fan shunted me aside in her desperate urge to shake her ass in time to the flu-stunted posturing of her diminutive idol. His routine, if I can call it that, was a one-trick affair of one hand on mic stand, incline head and shake vigorously.
Gazza has been recording with Nine Inch Nails apparently. They have if anything compounded the cabaret feel. A succession of indistinguishable alt-dance numbers were pumped out by his bland band. At times he didn’t need to be on the stage. From the seat that I eventually retired to he was barely visible anyway. I only came for the hits. ‘Cars’ was OK, but, like everything else, was somehow made soulless on the night. Perhaps my experience would have been improved if his male fans weren’t essentially balding overweight morons with more interest in beer and bogs that Gary’s collected oeuvre. Thank God I left before the ‘Are Friends Electric?’ encore and the nauseating spectacle of Gary parading his kids like a winner of Sports ‘Personality’ of the Year.
The support was Gang of Four. Now they were good. Roy Jenkins was always more interesting than Tubeway Army anyway. They looked and sounded great; and by playing first they could be enjoyed before the army of beer spillers and would-be groupies moved in.