Thursday, 10 September 2015
I've just seen a face.
It's Sunday night at the London Palladium and four of us are here to see Jerry Lee Lewis. Husband and Middle One are very keen on Jerry Lee Lewis. Eldest and I are on a A Ticket To Ride. Youngest is too… well, young.
It's Jerry Lee's 80th Birthday Tour. Not exactly a Magical Mystery Tour, more just London and Glasgow. Let's face it, there probably won't be another. As Mike Read says in his rambling intro up there on stage, this is the last great Rock And Roll Music concert in London. Probably. And despite Going In And Out Of Style, I'll Tell You Something, Jerry Lee still has this - rather ageing - audience eating out of his talented hands.
He opens with an old classic, and one of the first songs Husband ever played me from his eccentric record collection in his room at university, when it was just the Two Of Us. It's Drinking Wine Spo-dee O-dee, although Husband played me the Stick McGhee version. I can't say I really got it at the time, my musical taste lay elsewhere, and still does, but I remember it like it was Yesterday.
I was probably the only teenage girl in north Yorkshire in the 80s with a Beatles obsession (get it now?). It certainly felt like it. Everyone else was in love with Simon Le Bon or Adam Ant. I guess that's what happens when you Think For Yourself and grow up in a house booming with Beatles music. Because my father lectured about The Beatles as part of his undergrad 60s course, and wrote a compilation of their lyrics with one of his students when we lived in Vancouver. It took him Years To Write and was called Things We Said Today. (Available on Amazon.)
For a while I liked The Beatles in an ordinary kind of way and then one Dead Of Night, when I should have been Sleeping Like A Log, I dreamt I was at one of their concerts and that was it: I woke up obsessed. Gradually I saved up and bought every one of their records. Vinyl. Actually there was this Norwegian boy, Horgan, younger than me, friends with my brother, who had the hots for me and bought me Abbey Road and the White Album. I've only just remembered that! True story. Maybe a Norwegian Would? (Okay, I'm cheating a bit there.)
I joined the Beatles fan club. Put posters of them all over my walls. Played only Beatles music at my 16th birthday disco until all my friends wanted to kill me. I was Dizzy Miss Lizzy, probably needed Help, and nearly had a breakdown when at the zenith of my mania someone shot John Lennon. Bang, bang. Happiness was not Warm Gun. Silly Girl, I Gently Weeped all the way to school and most of my class showed up at the gates to see my reaction.
Much later, all grown up, I saw Paul McCartney in concert (Earls Court, Monday 21st April 2003). When he suddenly appeared on stage, belting out the first line of Hello Goodbye, I was moved to tears. (I've seen him A Second Time since at the Hammersmith Apollo.)
So I'm pretty keen to see Jerry Lee, because of course he was a huge influence on The Beatles. But I'm even keener when after the interval, just before Jerry Lee comes on, I spot a member of staff with a walkie-talkie leading a group down the aisle and suddenly catch a glimpse of a Face I Can't Forget. Close up. Ringo!
"Oh my God it's Ringo!" I say to Eldest, who shares my appreciation for all things Beatle, "and he's tiny!"
"They're all tiny," says Eldest, beaming. (Not quite true, but none of them were/are up to my 6 ft benchmark).
Ringo Starr! Yes It Is. He walked right past us. He's about to sit in the same section of the stalls as us, albeit a hell of a lot nearer to the stage, and breathe the exact same air.
At the end of the concert the boys want to hang out at the stage door. Middle One hopes to see Jerry Lee and guitarists Albert Lee and James Burton (no, me neither, played with Elvis apparently). I say You Can't Do That, it's too uncool, but then I hang out with them anyway because maybe we'll see Ringo again; he was up there on the stage at the end, presenting Jerry Lee with a birthday cake.
Middle One lucks out and gets a photo with Albert Lee and a glimpse of James Burton. There's no sign of Jerry Lee or Ringo so I say sorry But It's Time To Go, I'm So Tired and we need to Get Back before the tube stops.
Your Sincerely, Wasting Away, All You Need Is Love, Love Me Do, She Loves You, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah,
Phew. (Okay, I cheated a bit and used lyrics as well as song titles. It's been pointed out!)
P.S. Taking Eldest to university this weekend.