Steve Harley

& Cockney Rebel

Diary 13/07/18

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Watching the First Night of The Proms and thinking how brilliant those players are. OK, it’s the BBC Symphony Orchestra, so it’s going to be top-notch. But then it hits me: I play with two classically trained musicians, James and Barry, who improvise and swing like jazzers and blues men of old. Our acoustic trio brings us all great pleasure. Then I remember: I played with 24 of those classicos. Again, at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. And a 12-piece Classical choir. And what a team they were!

We all thought Glasgow the top of the six we’ve played of the first two albums. Why? Don’t now. Birmingham was fantastic, as it was the first, the deal-breaker, the instigator. And we won that night and it changed my life in some way.

I continue to travel, by air, car and Nightliner bus, to venues in the UK, Norway, and other points, leaning contentedly on one crutch to support the still-numb weighty right thigh where the surgeons went in. My Consultant surgeon reckons it could take a year until the feeling returns. Meanwhile, Matty, or a sub, pushes me around the airports like a skier with a broken leg, and we fast-track through Everywhere’s Passport Controls.

It’s a hard life, but we love it.

Three nights in the Acapela Studio Theatre near Cardiff: fabulous venue and we stayed in a wonderful hotel with its own vineyard and gardens. I could get used to this. No agent for two years and never busier. They come to us with their offers and ideas. I am at a stage where I will only play where I feel comfortable and respected. No standing venues when we come as the Trio. No open bar and beer drinking as we try to touch you with “The Last Time I Saw You” or “A Friend For Life”. We need total peace. When you stand, holding a beer, what do you do? Talk. You talk. It seems to be part of human nature. In a seat, in the dark, what do we do? Listen.

I’m off to a sunny, cool place to write. Mrs Harley is demanding a new kitchen. I can’t bare the idea of workmen being around the place, morning, noon and late afternoon, all-day, for four weeks. I just couldn’t cope. I need quiet. I need peace. I need freedom. I need space. I am not a good patient. Mark my hospital sojourn with the broken hip (still now on one crutch; the wound is cold, numb and heavy).