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Otway and Barrett triumph

March 4, 2013

Man flu is the single most debilitating illness on earth. But us men know that when the going gets tough one needs a sympathetic wife to minister to you. Apparently that is what should happen. Lets start a new subject.

So with a hefty dose of paracetamol administered and a good supply of extra medication in my pocket, I boarded a train to London heading for Covent Garden in readiness for a trip down memory lane, to see a gig by Otway and Barrett. That is John Otway and Wild Willy Barrett who somersaulted (well Otway did) to fame on the Old Grey Whistle Test on BBC TV in 1977, culminating in a hit single “Cor Baby That’s Really Free” and an anarchic performance on Top of the Pops.

In my capacity as a music promoter and self-styled impresario in and around Aylesbury in the mid 1970’s, I had booked them to play various venues on scores of occasions, indeed Mr Otway was the reason I entered the music business in a desperate attempt to avoid getting a proper job all those year ago. We we both pursued our dreams together, we were both dustman at the same time, although I in the neighbouring and up market council, as befitted my status as a grammar school boy, rather than a comprehensive school student status that has clung to Mr Otway. He did get more press coverage than me though, being labelled “The Singing Dustman” by The Bucks Herald.

Anyway, Otway and Barrett split up and reformed at least 20 times but they are together for a short tour and I could not resist the temptation to see them both in action again last night at the Leicester Square Theatre in London’s west end.

A pre planned pre-gig food raid by Sprog 2 meant that we had to get to town early enough to eat before the show, so we went to Chinatown for a fast food field day before descending upon the Theatre in order to be entertained. Fast food of the fastest variety, in the form of a Thai buffet was fantastic value at £10, a mere 11.50 euros at today’s Currencies Direct exchange rate, and was over in 20 minutes which gave us time to meet up with Mr Clipboard and “Slash and Burn” Thornton Allan to witness the show.

Otway and barrett

John Otway and Wild Willy Barrett rip up the Leicester Square Theatre last night

The show has developed into a much less musically heavy comedy experience. The exuberance of Mr Otway is undimmed, still somersaulting despite being over 60, his comic performance brilliantly complemented by the laconic, lugubrious, but supremely talented musical skills of Wild Willy Barrett, which were a joy to behold. Guitar, mandolin, fiddle, banjo and even, for fantastic finale, a self built set of bagpipes connected to an electric guitar. It was during “Geneva”, that willy sawed up a guitar whilst playing, hilarious! Widely considered Otway’s best song, some would say only song, although John would disagree, citing the BBC poll in 2000 to find the nations favourite song of the last millennium, in which by hook and crook, mostly crook, he managed to get his song “Beware Of The Flowers Cos I’m Sure They’re Gonna Get you, Yeah” voted the seventh best lyric of all time. Better than anything written by Bob Dylan he will tell you if you give him half a chance.

So a boring morning hanging around at the Passport Office in London this morning is in prospect but there is promise of sunshine, and so I will rush back to Arundel this afternoon to make the most of it before the inevitable greyness returns.

Chris France

2 Comments leave one →
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