Steve Harley

& Cockney Rebel

DIARY 02/06/14

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Recently, at a Vintage TV recording, I met Fiona Bevan, who wrote (with Ed Sheeran) a hit song for One Direction. Fiona grew up in a village close to ours. She went to school with my daughter. I have known Fiona since she was 4 years old, and now she’s a professional singer/writer/performer, and very good she is, too. So it’s a small world, eh? But wait. It gets smaller still…

On Friday night, we headlined the Acoustic Festival of Britain at Uttoxeter Racecourse. On-stage before us was Matt Cardle, who won an X Factor series, and had a hit with his Biffy Cliro cover of “When We Collide”. Matt, too, comes from a tiny village, not much more than an old-time hamlet, within a few miles of our own, and Matt went to school with my son. They played in the Stoke College orchestra together, Matt sang in the choir, and they played tennis together. He played a good set at the festival. He sings like a bird, with great expression and well-drilled inflection. I hooked Matt up to Kerr on my phone backstage. Matt and Fiona are both really fine, decent young people, and I think they’ve both got a future in what is a fickle business.

We played to a terrific crowd at Uttoxeter. Several thousand gathered in the gloom, and sang with me, from the start, any choruses they knew. Their “We Got The Feeling” was memorable.

Next day, we rocked up in the Vale Of Pewsey, deep into Wiltshire, met up with the rest of the team for a rock band show, to play the Concert At The King’s, in aid of Rock Against Cancer. It was the third year of this event and the 5,000 tickets sold out in advance, so again we had a crowd who were surely out for a good time. We kicked off with “Here Comes The Sun” (ever the optimist, me…) and again this huge crowd, jammed into a beautiful setting, the valley our arena, the hills our verdant backdrop, came with me in song from the start. It looked fabulous from my spot. And they sounded wonderful.

The cause is an admirable one, of course, and I couldn’t resist an instant, spontaneous auction. I was having a problem with the sound of my guitar in my in-ear monitors. I said, “This is an expensive guitar; we need it to sound expensive!” The monitor man carried on trying to improve matters, and did. Meanwhile, I asked those near the barriers, “Do you want this guitar? Nice guitar. Expensive guitar. Very fine Taylor guitar. Would you like this guitar?” There were plenty of “yesses” and arms in the air from way back. “Well, you can have this guitar. This festival is organised to bring awareness to a very good cause. This guitar cost £1,750. If you pledge £1,000 at least, to the cause, it’s yours. The highest bidder gets it. I’ll leave the guitar here, in its case. But I won’t let it go for less than £1,000.” Obviously, I was talking off-the-cuff, and this is only a fair, but pretty good, semblance of the actual wording! To boost our chances of getting a really big bid, I added this: “If the highest bidder lives within 150 miles of London, I’ll come round to their place, with a musician or two, and play a short set, and you can film it for YouTube or whatever you want. Good cause, and here in Wiltshire, just off the Cotswolds, there’s lots of money!! Bentleys everywhere. Nice guitar. Good cause…” and we carried on with the show. (I put the mileage limit on things, because last time we set-up a similar auction the wonderful Gregor Koenig – special guy – was the highest bidder, and he lives in Cologne!). Two songs later, Shop, my tech, came on to tell me there was an offer already of £2,000. I announced this. Fifteen minutes later, it had risen to £3,000. When I finished the 65 minute set and headed to our dressing-room, the promoter, a fine man called Grubby, took my arm and told me, “We’ve got a bid of £10,000.” I pulled a face full of astonishment and wonder, and maybe a little suspicion. But Grubby said, “We know the guy. He’s genuine.” I’m waiting to hear how it all concluded – is the £10,000 going to come good? I expect so. Does the bidder live within 150 miles of London? I expect so, and even if not, you know what I’m like…..! What a great joy it all was. Everybody wins. It was fun. It raised good money for the Macmillan Nurses, and I can buy another fab Taylor electro-acoustic (already have, this morning).

Both festivals were really special events, run by good, well-organised people.

But life ain’t all beer ‘n skittles. Lincoln is still not well. He and his wife do not want a fuss and I am updated only sporadically, whenever Mrs Anderson feels there is something to tell, without giving away more than Lincoln, a terribly private man, would appreciate. I know many of you think of Lincoln with great affection; he’s always kind and generous with his time when you meet him, I know. If you would like to wish him better (and I would encourage this), send a Get Well card to us at Comeuppance Ltd, P.O Box 7073, Sudbury, CO10 7WN, UK and one of our team will send them on to him.  He is the most modest of men, but we can show him how highly we regard him.