Last night, in a pub in Hertford, I met one of my music heroes.
He’s not the first music hero of mine that I’ve met. In the last 20 years I’ve met about 8. I also met Katie Price (aka Jordan) once and she has released an album before, however, I cannot class her as a musician and she is definitely not one of my heroes (if it was Peter Andre on the other hand...) So I therefore average about one music hero encounter every two years.
My first 6 – between the ages of about 17 and 23 - were members of early 90’s indie bands (Mega City Four, Senseless Things and Ludicrous Lollipops – all of whom I bloody loved). The Megas (as they were known to their fans) and Lollipops encounters were at various gigs / festivals but the Senseless Things encounters (Mark Keds – lead singer and Morgan Nicholls – bassist) were totally unplanned.
I’d started working at an Advertising Agency on leaving University and I found out that our Receptionist (Felicity) was going out with Morgan! I couldn’t believe it – I’d seen them numerous times and I’d even done my first ever stage dive at one of their gigs. It was to be my last ever stage dive as well as no-one caught me and I really hurt my back! Anyway, one day I bumped into Felicity and Morgan (who are now married with kids) outside of work and the encounter was complete. He’s gone on to do rather well for himself – playing with Gorillaz, The Streets and Muse. Then some time later I popped down to reception and Mark was sat there! Felicity saw that I was itching to speak to him so introduced me – music hero encounter number 6 was in the bag!
I then had to wait about another three years for the next one. I lived in Australia for a year when I was 26 and one day in Sydney, Moby was doing a signing. I took along something ‘signable’ – it was an umbrella, I didn’t need it much in Oz so thought it wouldn’t matter if it was de-faced. So, we got to the front of the queue, he signed it, congratulated us on ‘Britain’s win in the soccer World Cup’ (England had beaten Argentina the night before), and then we went our separate ways.
My final music hero encounter, before last night, was Bernard Butler of Suede. A friend’s God Son’s band were playing at the 100 Club in London and their album had been produced by Bernard. Bernard came over to say ‘hello’ to the God Son, who we were chatting to, we got introduced, there were handshakes all round and that was about it.
There was a further encounter with the drummer of the Magic Numbers in a pub in Finsbury Park. However, my wife doesn’t think I technically met him, and I was too drunk to remember if I did or not so I can’t really count that one.
Talking of my wife – her music hero efforts trump all of the above. She used to work in a ‘New Age’ shop in Rathbone Place. One day Patsy Kensit (an ex-pop star herself from the band 8th Wonder) and Liam Gallagher (from Oasis, of course) came into the shop as they were looking to buy a Ouija Board. My wife actually ended up telling Liam off as he tried to go down some stairs which were out of bounds to non-employees. She put him in his place that day, I can tell you! Patsy was ‘very nice’ though.
Anyway, since the encounter with Bernard, things have dried up a bit until last night.
I was a HUGE Inspiral Carpets fan in the late 80s / early 90s. When I was 15 they played the Brixton Academy but I was too young / my mum wouldn’t let me go. My brother (who was 19 at the time) went with his friend – I was gutted. I eventually saw them at the Glastonbury Festival in 2003 and then last night I saw their ex-lead singer, Tom Hingley, play a local pub in Hertford.
We didn’t know about the gig until last week, my wife walked past The Ram pub, about 15 minutes walk from our house, and there was a sign outside saying ‘Tom Hingley, ex-Inspiral Carpets frontman playing Saturday’. She texted me straight away with the unbelievable news that the gig was also free (!) and there was no doubt (unless the babysitters fell through – thanks again mum - I think she still feels bad about not letting me go to that gig - and dad for looking after the girls) that we would miss this opportunity.
So at about 9pm last night the gig started. Crimson, the first support band were good – the female singer had an amazing voice – then Rob Clydesdale, the second support act came on. He was brilliant – he did things with his guitar that I didn’t even know could be done! Check out his song ‘Open’ on YouTube – fantastic! No matter how good he was though, he was never going to upstage Tom.
By now, via mutual friends, we had met Tom, and my music hero tally has now nearly reached double figures.
Tom played a storming acoustic set – he played some Inspiral Carpets classics (‘Saturn 5’, ‘Dragging me Down’, ‘This is how it feels’, ‘Move’ and ‘Sackville’) intertwined with some of his excellent solo material (we bought his album ‘Thames Valley Delta Blues’ afterwards and it’s brilliant) and some great cover versions including Ben E King’s ‘Stand by me’ and ‘Sit Down’ by James.
He played for ages, and could probably have gone on for even longer – it must have been about 12.30pm when he finished and then my wife and I chatted to him for about an hour and a half! He is a very funny, smart and all round top bloke - who absolutely adores his kids - and, by seeing him in such an intimate venue, and having a bloody good chinwag with him afterwards, I finally felt that the pain of me missing that Brixton Academy gig all those years ago was put to bed.
So, which music heroes have you met? You’ll have to go a long way to meet someone as nice as Tom…