You hear all the time, “and the next performer needs no introduction…” and then they introduce them. Eddi Reader, in Glasgow of all places, literally needed no introduction to be welcomed on to my stage at The Armadillo on Saturday.
So I didn’t introduce her. David Delarre began playing the intro to “Ae Fond Kiss” (in Eddi’s recorded key of A; my recording is in E); I re-assembled my collapsible crutch, walked off stage left and was passed in the wings by the formidable presence of one E Reader. “Go break their hearts, girl,” I whispered. She did just that.
What a night that was.
From the get-go, through a sound-check including 20 fans watching, to the end of the night, I didn’t feel a moment’s doubt. Not an iota of doubt. Billy Sloan came to my dressing room twenty minutes before stage-time. I was naked from the waist up, trousers unzipped, dressing the shirt; but we are old friends, in a sepia frame, and it didn’t matter at all. I slipped into the crisp cotton and tidied the fly, slipped my in-ear monitors over my head and buttoned up the black Gant waistcoat. Billy hugged me. “This is gonnae be amazing,” he said.
I rested my palms on his shoulders, as a Sergeant-Major might chastise a wayward Private. “I hope so, my friend. I’ll try my best.”
And in the wings, a great assemblage met to wish each other good luck. They didn’t need luck.
They were all fine-tuned at rehearsals, all virtuoso players about to hit the big stage for a very big occasion. I felt part of the team. Not the boss. Just one of the team. It is a feeling the leader can only ever acquire once the hard work is completed: the rehearsal. When I’ve finished leading the hard work of practice, rehearsal and set-list order, then I can relax. And feel part of the team.
You don’t know how good it feels to be with you. Being here with you.
But you do. You did at The Stables (440) and again in Glasgow (close to 2000).
Lighting: Roger Searle – take a bow my dear friend. Roger has known me since the early ‘70s. We have worked together for half a lifetime. Roger is my aide-de-camp, my Tour Manager, Production Manager, and on top of all that, he lights my shows.
And the sound? Stand up Andy Linklater. Another associate/friend for many, many years. A brilliant Front of House Engineer. And John James (J.J) in the wings, organising hi-fi stereo monitors. My in-ears were perfection. When J.J is on board (and/or the formidable Daniel Paine), they always are.
The string section were brilliantly led by Jessica (cello) and arranged by Bede Williams. The two Gospel singers, Genevieve and Jenny, the two same singers from the “Uncovered” album, sent shivers up my back, brought tears to an old, cynical eye and thrilled the whole stage with their ridiculously clever harmonies and enormous vibrato. Ritz. “Whaa, whaooo”. The stage throbbed at times. It was loud. It was proud. It was my big birthday bash.
And the impromptu belter of Stevie Wonder’s Nelson Mandella tribute of “Happy Birthday to Ya, Happy Birthday…” by the singers at The Stables was a terrific bonus. Not part of the set-list at all. Totally unrehearsed. Unprepared, and a surprise to me. They repeated this in Glasgow. I was knocked back by it again. Didn’t think for a moment that they would repeat this ad lib. But that’s musicians for you. We partied til late at the Crowne Plaza and met dozens of fans in the hotel bar. I did not mind one jot that they approached to chat and take a pic. I was among 20 family members, friends and the band. To spare a few moments with kind, decent people cost me nothing and brought joy to me and them, I hope. It’s a good life for me. I take nothing for granted. And without you and your support, what would be the purpose?
I send thanks to all who have contributed comments to the Facebook and website.
As for Steve Walker, who came from Arkansas and wrote his fabulously straightforward and heartfelt critique on Facebook, “Tumbling Down” will be in the set-list next time you visit.
I never renege on a promise. Never the same twice.
Seventy-one, going on fifty.
This Steve Harley piece is Copyright of Comeuppance Ltd. No reproduction is permitted without strict approval of the Copyright holder.