UK Gigs Autumn 2002

SEP 30 : Queen Victoria Hall, London
OCT 22 : Boardwalk, Sheffield
OCT 23 : Robin Hood, Brierly Hill
OCT 25 : Mr. Kyps, Poole
OCT 26 : The Brook, Southampton
OCT 27 : The Roscoe, Leeds
NOV 02 : The Borderline, London


The Borderline, London, 2/11/02

Search as I (MW) might through our third world railway system, hopes of making a simple journey from Manchester down to London for the Borderline gig seemed doomed. Visions of struggling from temporary bus to makeshift detour round the outskirts of Milton Keynes loomed. Last time my niece caught a replacement rail bus from Liverpool she was shot at. I kid you not. So a decision to drive down to London through driving rain and spray seemed the only - and I hesitate to use the word 'sensible' - option.

Was it worth it? Of course it bloody was. This was an excellent gig. The Borderline was a very pleasant small club just round the corner from the Astoria. Décor was traditional hot and steamy with a lethal two inch high step running transversely across the floor. The thoughtfully painted white border that highlighted this graveyard for spilt pints was quickly obliterated by people's feet so that any movement required extremely ginger and cautious footwork.

Kevin was given a tangibly enthusiastic welcome by the 200+ crowd who comfortably filled the venue. The sound was first class, intimate and warm. The customary break after a chilling Lady Rachel was shelved to create a seamless single set which continued to build. It is astonishing to take stock of the variety of moods created within an Ayers set. Love and hate, life and death, war and peace, dreams within dreams and a wistful vision of dissolving reality all pour from those songs. Laurel and Hardy too, on occasion. The band were superb - Ludo and Patrick operating together like a left and right hand, Alain trading such imperious solos, Marvin overseeing all with a visible pride as he celebrated his birthday. Kevin oozed energy, an undisputed craftsman. On nights like this his drug is performance …….

I so enjoyed meeting so many WAWS friends at the gig. What a party we could all have one day! Special thanks to Margaret and her wonderfully ergonomic sofa.

The Roscoe, Leeds 28.10.02

Leeds is an ugly city par excellence and the Rosco's location did no injustice to their fine civic tradition but inside it was one of those cosy pubs that's installed a tiny stage and puts together an eclectic bill of local and 'name' bands throughout most weeks of the year. If you're a fan of Phoenix Nights you'll understand half the picture I'm trying to paint. Curiously, the pub had a huge mixing desk that would have served Wembley. Perhaps size really does matter in Yorkshire? Kevin summed the tour up as being like winding the clock back 30 years - they had literally ploughed 450 miles up the motorway system to arrive here in a white van, almost certainly a Transit.

But, hey, let's roll the clock back permanently if this is how it feels. The set was the virtually the same as Steve indicates below from Southampton but, with the benefit of a week's nightly playing together, the songs had a discernible tightness and pace. 'There Goes Johnny' has been extended to give Alain's guitar more of a chance to blow and the added twists and turns with Kevin conducting have raised the song to a far better level of interest. I always get thrilled by these signs of development - there was another instance in 'Lady Rachel' where a sudden, momentary surge of three power chords gave those ethereal passages a depth of quite frightening urgency.

There were one or two unlucky moments with a broken string, then a broken guitar strap and an amp that needed a kick but they sailed through like true professionals. The crowd of about 100 comfortably filled the place and listened with evident joy and a lot of respect and warmth. Kevin's voice still sounds monumentally good; those songs still break through every barrier of time and place. Marvin's band surround Kevin like a brotherhood and will surely nurture those new songs along to a studio and hopefully onto a new CD. Echoes of the past and renewed hope for the future all in one splendid night. (MW)

Steve Foster sends this quick résumé of the Brook, Southampton gig (26.10.02).

Feeling This Way, Too Old To Die Young, Mr Cool, When Your Parents..., There Goes Johnny, Lady Rachel, Super Salesman, See You Later, Didn't Feel Lonely, Strange Kind of Blues, Star, Whatevershebrings, Shouting In A Bucket of Blues (Shouting Bucket according to the play list!), I Don't Depend On You, Stranger In Blue Suede Shoes (Stranger in BSS/Stranger from the DSS?). Something Blue as an encore. So no surprises there then! I gather May I was also to be included as an encore but Kev forgot to play it! There were in fact two sets, but I can't quiet remember where the break came (after Lady Rachel?). Also on the play list but not played were Blaming It All On Love and Beware of the Dog. None of the new songs.

Music/songs all sounded good to me - no problems with out of tune guitars, lack of rehearsing, first gig rustiness etc.. -' tho your favourite (Super Salesman) did sound a little elastic initially.

The Brook is a fine little venue, considerably more enjoyable and, of course, intimate than the Queen Elizabeth Hall. Seems to have hosted some excellent gigs (of the 'they were quite well known 30 years ago, weren't they?' variety!!!!). Basically a square room with the stage along the front, a bar along an adjacent wall and a balcony that hangs almost over the stage along three sides. The small stage (hardly enough room to swing a randy cat) is in fact half way between the floor and the balcony. I suspect the balcony offered better views and better sound but it also had tables and stools so we opted for the pit. There was plenty of space to shuffle around and do Ayer guitar as only circa 100-150 people (half full?) turned up. Band seemed happy after the show, though Alain did say that he hadn't made so many mistakes on this tour before - I hadn't been aware. What a guitar player he is.

Paul McMullen sniffed the flowers at Mr Kyp's in Poole (25.10.02)

My friend Bodhiprrem asks me sometimes whether I think somebody else is enlightened. He's usually talking about somebody like Sri Ramakrishna or Osho. I get very impatient with this idea, because I think there are many possible planes on which enlightenment can take place, and that we are cutting ourselves off from the experience of our fellows if we go around vesting enlightenment in the domain of only certain others.

I went to see The Kevin Ayers Band at Mr Kyps in Poole the other night and I was totally impressed by the combination of an audience completely at ease to be delighted and a group of sensitive and proffessional performers who evoked between them an unusually intoxicating atmosphere. Or hundreds of them. It seemed that we were all congratulating one another for having arrived this far. So many memorable moments, but 'Star' was perhaps the song that moved me the most. I'd never heard it before.

SO..... I've been trying to persuade a good friend to come and see KA in London on Saturday, a friend who has never heard of him. In trying to explain what Kevin's music is like I found myself winding up by saying something like "he is the embodiment of a musical spirit of the age".

Which might be a lot of baloney, but I reckon that's what people mean when they say somebody is enlightened ; that they are an embodiment of a certain kind of spirit of the age .

I don't know if we should thank the invisible spirit forces that guide our world , or the genes that have navigated our survival to the point where we can experience such phenomenon, and I don't know if it actually matters very much.

I do know that I have hardly met anyone who, once introduced to Kevin's music, does not like it. My experience at Mr Kyps the other night was certainly one of the beneficient highs of my life.

Rock on youall and see the lucky ones on Saturday !

Tishulananda Paul Mc Mullen - And thank you for reading this !

Bill Tasker packed his passport and went to Sheffield (22.10.02)

It was a Tuesday, so was one of my meat-free days, so I indulged in a mushroom omelette before the gig. Much more healthy than the machine-recovered chicken nuggets that some people subscribe to, don't you agree?

The Boardwalk was a wedge-shaped building situated in a fork in the road in Sheffield. I had scouted it out earlier that day and was a bit perplexed to see the poster outside proclaiming it was 'Kevin Ayers + The Wizard of Twiddly' playing that night. You entered through the point, there was a bar along one side and the stage was at the wide end of the wedge. There were tables and chairs in front of the stage to make it one of those venues you wished were in every town. There was a wonderful selection of music played on the decks before the band came on.

The venue manager got up on stage at 9:00 pm to announce the band, but he first asked for a show of hands from punters who were visiting the Boardwalk for the first time. There were a considerable number so it seemed a fair few had travelled from out of town to see Kevin. He plugged the forthcoming attractions and It was an impressive list of familiar guitar-driven bands. All the seats were quickly filled and I looked back to see a throng crowding behind. There were quite a few of us of 'a certain age' and I began to wonder if the G.A.S. devotees were wearing their original woolly hats.

The band came on stage and it was 'The Starvin' Marvins' that I had expected. They started off with 'Champagne and Valium' before Kevin sauntered on stage. Fashionably late as ever sweetie.

Kevin looked lean and fit. No silk shirt though - this was a Northern steel town, where men are men and women are glad of it - he was wearing a denim shirt, black strides and new trainers. Has anyone else noticed with the last few tours that he always seems to be wearing pristine trainers? Is he sponsored by Nike, or does he sport open-toed sandals off stage? If you wear new shoes, do you have new shoes to lose? Kevin seemed more confident tonight - no worries about his guitar tuning. He played his guitar parts with nary a bum note and Alain's and his guitar playing complemented one and other.

The first set comprised of:- Champagne & Valium, Too Old To Die Young, Mr Cool, When your Parents Go To Sleep, There goes Johnnie, Blaming It All on Love, and Lady Rachel. The memorable bits were him remembering Archie Legget after 'When Your Parents....', and a very fine solo by Alain in 'Lady Rachel', which featured the lyric ".. .she unwraps the parcel and discovers a parcel inside.." Holy Gurdjieffian Awakening! Up till then I hadn't realised it was a song about 'Pass the sodding Parcel'!

Then a break, and a mad rush to the bar to refill glasses, before the second set comprising of: SuperSalesman, See You Later, Didn't Feel Lonely Till I Thought Of You, Everybody's Somtimes Blues, Star, Whatevershebringswesing, I Don't Depend On You, May I, and Stranger In Blue Suede Shoes finished the set. We got them back to encore with 'Shouting In A Bucket Blues4 and a final 'Thank You Very Much'. So many memorable bits -where to start? Well SuperSalesman I guess. A few have mentioned that it isn't their favourite number but Kevin seems to enjoy playing it. It got me thinking - The SuperSalesman (Who Sold himself), who's product (i.e. himself) is crap - could this be about a certain person (an alleged 'Great Briton') or am I virgin on the ridiculous? The whole band were excellent. Alain did a mercurial solo on Everybody's... and Marvin did the wonderful manic keyboards break on Stranger.... Kevin's voice was soooo deep on Thank You... that it set me wondering why no-one has offered him a role in Panto - tie would make a truly wonderful Abernazzer. The romantic songs had the ladies in the audience going all misty-eyed. Alain got cheers for many of his solos throughout the night (Kevin must be a magnet for guitarists with all the wonderful plank-spankers that he's had in his bands). However, the best part for me was when Kevin got the audience to sing along with the chorus on 'Whatever...' I'm sure many of us were singing along with most of the songs as well, but this was a memory that will linger.

It was the first time I'd seen 'The Starvin' Marvins' and I hope it won't be the last - Let's hope they, and Kevin, are back again soon.