A consistent, quality performance unfortunately doesn’t materialise.
Roger Eno and John Goddard’s short and sweet set is beset by unnecessary feedback problems, while mine and Peter’s performance is attacked from every angle imaginable.
Myself and the David Bellamy of the keyboard stride confidently onto the stage to silence. And then more silence. Peter pipes up, “I’ve forgotten how this goes,” and I crawl inside myself. He finally starts. The problem being that what he plays bears little relation to Together We’re Stranger. Unable to sing over this, I say, “Wrong chords, wrong tempo, Lord C.” Peter stops and starts to play again. Once more, it’s the wrong chords and the wrong tempo and in desperation I invent a new, elegantly tuneless melody for some old words. A fabulous beginning, I’m sure you’ll all agree.
The second piece starts well and seems to be working. Unfortunately, halfway through, Roger Eno joins us for perhaps ‘the worst cornet solo in the world ever…’ I’m in pain and my wincing is spectacularly in keeping with the warped momentum of the solo. The third track is acceptable, but halfway through, traumatised by the preceding two exercises in incompetence, my mind goes blank. Luckily, I find my cheat sheet just in time to avert another disaster, but a feeling of negative self-consciousness still lingers.
Finally the music takes off, but mid-way through a beautifully menacing and quiet version of Days Turn Into Years (featuring some lovely flute from Theo Travis), a mobile phone goes off and the theatre’s bright security lights come on, destroying the discreet ambience. Ladies and gentlemen, this is clearly our night!
From this point on, things can only get better and they do. There are strong versions of Winter With You and, especially, Last Year’s Tattoo. Watching Over Me also makes a fine finale.
Hugh Hopper and Theo’s set is heavy on atmosphere and a delight to watch.
For a last hurrah, all the musicians gather on the stage and run through an impromptu version of an old song of mine, Sorry Looking Soldier.
Surprisingly, this is one of the highlights of the night. Roger and Theo combine beautifully on cornet and soprano sax, guitarist John Goddard hits some nice sustains, Hugh pins everything down and Peter remembers that he is actually a talented musician.
A powerful and positive end to a traumatic experience, I leave the building and head straight for the comforting allure of bed.