Wednesday, April 30, 2008

And start again

Do you remember Edwyn Collins? He was good wasn't he?

What do you mean, you don't remember him; of course you do, he used to be in Orange Juice, they did that song 'Rip It Up'... and he did that one that went 'never met a girl like you before'... yes, that one! That's the guy!

I always liked Edwyn Collins- I thought he was a great pop songwriter, something that means a lot to me in my little world. I saw him at the Shepherds Bush Empire last night and he was brilliant. With a band that included Roddy Frame from Aztec Camera (another excellent songwriter, and no mean guitarist either) and ex-Ruts drummer Dave Ruffy he covered everything from early Orange Juice to songs from his last album 'Home Again', and sounded as good as I remember him sounding the last time I saw him, which I think was sometime in the late '80's at Brunel University. But he looked different... a bit...
As you may know Edwyn suffered a cerebral haemorrhage in 2005; by all accounts he was very lucky to survive. He currently walks with the aid of a cane- the sight of which clearly shocked some audience members- and has some difficulty talking, although his singing is unimpaired. He sat throughout the set (on a Peavey bass combo, oddly enough) and tapped his left hand along with the music. I was struck by how, when he spoke of 'my stroke', he sounded almost as though it was something that he had some affection for, such had been it's enormous impact upon his life (he clearly hasn't any actual affection for it, but that's the best description that I can come up with for the way he referred to it.) I was also very aware of the warmth that the audience had for him- there were more than a few tears as he struggled to talk a couple of times. A terrific, and I'm not ashamed to say, moving performance...

...which went a long way towards rescuing a day that had been all but ruined for me by the appearance in the shop of the ubiquitous Mark Wyeth. I was just having a very enjoyable conversation with Nick Bland, rep for GoTo Guitars and all round good bloke, when Mark arrived. Regular readers (assuming there are any- how about a few more competition entries then?!?) will be aware that earlier this year I nearly did some gigs alongside Mark with ska veterans Symarip but opted out on what might best be described as conscientious grounds (it was all to do with whether or not a band called 'Foxy's Ruts' could continue without the recently deceased Foxy; fairly obviously not I would have thought, and no doubt you, being a rational thinking person would agree- but you'd be amazed what some people would say...)
It would, I think, be fair to say that Mark is not universally liked- I've lost count of the number of people that have told me to have nothing whatsoever to do with him, or that have compared him to both male and female body parts (which, as one local wit noted with considerable relish, 'makes him the ultimate hermaphrodite') whilst using terms like 'talentless chancer' and 'grave robber' amid suggestions that he might indulge in certain solitary practices.

Well- they (and indeed you) might think that- I couldn't possibly comment.

The last time he was in the shop he blathered on about how well the gigs were going, (well they would be, wouldn't they?) and how if I wanted to come to the next day's Dublin gig I would still be welcome (not 100% confident in the other guitarist's abilities then eh? I wonder if he knows that?) but that if I didn't go I would owe him £45 for the airfare (yes, you read that bit right); this time he came in to see if I could fix the guitar damaged on the Dublin trip (lesser people might have laughed), to offer me some more gigs with them later in the year (you don't say?!?) and to remind me that I still owed him £45 (yes, you read that bit right too). Not rubbing my nose in it then... for a split second there I thought that I should have broken his- instead I asked him for an invoice for the money, written conformation that I didn't play the show and said that I was considering invoicing him for the rehearsals that I did with them. With that he laughed (rather smugly- he usually does), said something about me being an 'old friend' and left. He hasn't been back yet, but he will- rather like the way that I haven't had hay fever yet this year, but I will...

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