Well, I write about my past escapades on this thing because I live a quiet life now. Too quiet sometimes but I’m getting older & that’s my choice. You know that emotional pendulum gets into the high positives it’s gonna swing back a little too far for comfort. I am no manic depressive I just like to keep things steady thank you. I still, though, can recognise a good time when I see it and tonight was always going to be a good one.
https://loosehandlebars.wordpress.com/2012/07/06/you-shouldnt-call-the-doctor-if-you-cant-afford-the-bills/ will get you to how I got to know Dr Feelgood, the band who reminded us that straight ahead R&B was a lot more fun than some space-opera, triple synthesizer, prog nonsense. I saw the Feelgoods maybe 10 times. I loved their music and getting to hang out with them before and after gigs was a blast. My wife & I saw them go from playing small rock clubs to Top of the Pops. It was a fine, fun ride. Julian Temple’s film “Oil City Confidential”, mixing the story of Dr Feelgood with 1950s British crime movies is a fitting tribute to some good people. It tells the story of a generation born after World War 2, who discovered the Blues through the Stones first LP…my generation.
Tonight Wilko Johnson, their fine guitarist, played in my small Northern town. I heard about the gig within hours of it being announced. I contacted my nephew Mike and, good soul that he is, he was already on the case. Tickets had been sorted. Wilko, never a big drinker, was the guy we hung with most post-gig. In recent years there has been a lot of love around for him. Fathers play his music to their children and tell them of concerts they attended as teenagers. The film,an auto-biography and re-masters of their work helped. His appearance in “Game of Thrones” and being a noted astronomer raised his profile too. Dr Feelgood continue to gig with no original members. Wilko is the keeper of the Feelgood Flame because he still plays that sparky, machine-gun Telecaster like only he can.
So, we were front row and centre for the gig tonight. The trio is completed by Norman Watt Roy, a former Blockhead and a virtuoso bass player, and Dylan Howe, son of the Yes guitarist, Steve. The band would be better in a club rather than a theatre but hey, I am looking at 60, my days of dancing like a monkey are so over. A comfortable seat was no hardship believe me. The band were great. All the correct stops were made at the Feelgood stations and they stretched out on some blues and some rock and roll. An encore of “Bye Bye Johnny” was a delight. I was grooving on the noise and the memories. Mike, who loves his Black Keys, so knows that raw and bluesy format, was amazed to be so close to a master bass player and to a unique player who carroms across the stage wielding his guitar like a weapon playing lead and rhythm.
It would be enough to just see Wilko play again. I am no star fucker I just love the music. I could not resist asking the merchandise guy if it would be possible to say hello but it was not gonna break my night out. The swag man took my name. After the gig I almost went straight home, it had been good enough. I nodded at the guy and he told me to wait. He introduced me to Ron, Wilko’s manager, who said he had heard the story (what story ?) and we were taken backstage.
Well, fuck me sideways ! Wilko was as pleased to see me as I was to meet him again. We shared some history. We had been together in Birmingham on the night of a terrible bombing incident when 21 people were killed. The club had been evacuated that night before we could say our goodbyes. His concern had always been touching. There were big hugs, shared memories, laughter and a clumsy catch up of almost 30 years of our lives. Man, I was so glad that Mike was in the room because it was a meeting of two old friends and, you know, sometimes I think he thinks his old uncle’s stories are a little embellished. He was just delighted to meet Wilko and the rest of the band as they passed through. He also, unlike myself, has some 21st century technology.
It’s late now. My ears are still ringing from some good loud music. The World Series is on the radio (for the last night ?), Denver is playing New Orleans in my TV. Mostly I am buzzing from meeting an old friend who has good memories of my company and just happens to be a National bloody Treasure because of the way he has done it right and made some memorable music. I have tried to live my life well but sometimes I think that those treasure chest nuggets are a collection which has been completed. It feels fine to add another one and here’s to some more in the future.
Yeah, I know, I need a haircut and I don’t look too much like Lee Marvin…nobody’s perfect. Peace.