Sunday, 2 October 2011

Bill Nelson: Live At Leeds (and Be Bop Deluxe, London October 02 1976)

So, yesterday I pointed the faithful Rushbomobile north, scooped up two trusty travelling companions (including the lovely Song of Songs) and headed to Leeds for this years (not quite) Nelsonica. The drive was made pleasurable by the sparkling conversation, the soundtrack of ‘The Love That Whirls’ and the freakishly warm, sunny October weather. Let’s have a round of applause for global warming! (I’M JOKING! I’M JOKING!) Not even some shenanigans on the M6 could dampen our spirits.

This year, breaking from tradition, the event was a slightly pared down affair. It was for one day only with an early start and an early finish, meaning people didn’t have to fork out for an overnight stay. A nice touch, Mr N. The event had the charmingly Nelsonic title of ‘The Art School Ascended On Vapours Of Roses’. I can only assume that Bill went to a very ‘select’ Art school as mine ascended on vapours of dodgy roll-ups and unwashed graphic design students…Anyhoo, after a pleasant perusal of the memorabilia on display (and resisting the overwhelming urges to nick the gorgeous pre 'Axe Victim' posters and run off), we shuffled into the viewing room. And very nice it was too…all the Be Bop OGWT appearances, some rarely seen promo vids and then…The Red Noise OGWT appearances!!! Oh my days, how happy was I? It was magical to see Bill in the loverlee (and incredibly hot!) grey jacket which I had so lovingly fingered (easy now…!) in the exhibition moments earlier. Why isn’t that stuff on YouTube? Why? A quick listen to Bills new CD (sounds lush BTW) and we were ready for the first of two performances.

Performance one was Mr N accompanied by his trusty Revox (or 21st century equivalent) and Theo Travis on sax and flutes for a number or two. We’ve all seen these kind of things haven’t we? Pants aren’t they? Well, not this one. Bill manages to bring some freshness to the format and his amazing musicianship helps too. Decent visuals as well. As ever, he rolled out his massive collection of ‘Guitar pornography’…grown men gasped with amazement as a never ending parade of highly desirable musical instruments were flaunted and played for our amusement.

(Thanks to andygeorge from the Bill Nelson Forum for the pic)
A quick comfort break, and then – part two. Bill was joined by Theo Travis and Dave Sturt for some semi-improvised performances under the name ‘Orchestra Futura’. Can three people be an orchestra? Are there any EC guidelines on this? Unsurprisingly it was excellent, showcasing the strengths of all concerned, although Mr Sturts Basswork could have been slightly higher in the mix, but I am biased.

And then it was over. Nothing left to do but pick up my purchase (a rather lovely piece of Bill Nelson original art – one of my travelling companions received a hefty dig in the ribs for suggesting that it was ‘a nice investment for when ‘e pegs it’. Judging by Saturday night, the bugger will outlive us all…) and head out back to the Hotel via a rather nice Algerian meal. Now that’s what I call a top Saturday night.

Thanks to everyone who made it happen.

Nelson fans may wish to get themselves a second job to pay for an avalanche of goodies heading their way. Out tomorrow (Oct 3rd) is ‘Futurist Manifesto’ – a five CD Be Bop retrospective bristling with remasters and rarities. It’s available for the comedy price of £15.99 here - Coming in November is another hefty release – this time it’s eight (count ‘em) CDs of lovely Nelsony goodness called (deep breath) ‘The Practice of Everyday Life’  That one comes in at a sensible £45.99 from here 

And he’s got two new CDs out soon as well – ‘Signals from Realms Of Light’ and ‘Model Village’. Nurse! The screens!

This seems an appropriate juncture to post the next instalment in the ongoing ‘Be Bop Deluxe Archive’ thing that’s been happening at BPFE -It’s a splendid radio broadcast (from something called K-Hour) and is pretty decent quality too. 17 tracks and not a duffer amongst ‘em. And it was recorded exactly 35 years ago today. How timely.

Oh, yeah – rumours abound of a BN tour next year…

Be Bop Deluxe, London October 02 1976
Life in the air age
Orphans of Babylon
Sister seagull
Maid in Heaven
Bring back the spark
Kiss of light
Fair exchange
Twilight capers
Modern music
Dancing in the moonlight
Honeymoon on Mars
Lost in the neon world
Dance of the Uncle Sam humanoids
Modern music (reprise)
Forbidden lovers
Terminal street
Blazing apostles

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