The Anvil Basingstoke
Travelling to Basingstoke, M4 to Junction 11 then A33 straight in since you ask, and following yesterdays’ Abbatar chat I couldn’t help but wonder that it felt like a lifetime ago that Paul Young was considered a big enough star to open the Band Aid song while Abba weren’t even considered big enough for an invite. How things have changed in the intervening nearly 40 years. While ABBA’s Voyage extravaganza redefines the way live music is perceived and delivered, here in Basingstoke Paul Young is the support act to Go West in a highly adequate Anvil theatre. Much to ponder.
We took our seats as the lights dimmed. The band were ready, was that the original Fabulous Wealthy Tarts? Could it be? Then on to the stage came the still lithe, instantly recognisable figure of Paul Young. Now this part of the review could go one of two ways but I’m going to seek out the positive while only describing what Paul Young will know already. His voice is shot, it’s incredibly cruel but the songs, the warmth of the audience, his spirit and cheeky boy grin gets him through. As my partner said afterwards “Mo Farrah can’t run forever, surgeons lose their eyesight. At least he can still do it”. And do it he does. It reminded me that No Parlez is so commonly found in charity shops because so many people bought it. It was huge. Come Back and Stay, Love of The Common People and of course Wherever I Lay My Hat were greeted rapturously. Paul’s vocal protected by the backing singers, a really good band, unfortunately minus Pino Palladino and enough love to stop it becoming a Pino noir. There were some moments that bought a collective gasp from the audience but the goodwill shone through even when they did Iron Out The Rough Spots, ouch. Closing on Every Time You Go Away there was some relief that he’d made it to the end but also a recognition that while his light shone between the Q Tips and Senza Una Donna here was a big star still plying his trade to a willing and mostly appreciative audience. I for one don’t begrudge him that. No need, nor parlez for that matter of a Paul Young avatar it was him they wanted to see.
A brief break and then Go West. Their eponymous first album for some will typify all that went wrong in the mid eighties. For many others it’s a collection of great songs that relied heavily on the technology available at the time but struck an absolute sweet spot of radio, video friendly, simpler times when liking what you like was ok. It was the same band with Richard Drummy and Peter Cox replacing Paul Young. Peter Cox, like Paul Young instantly recognisable. From the first note however things changed. Starting with Don’t Look Down that suddenly took on a rockier edge to the original, with keyboards still involved, it was incredible. Front and centre though was Peter Cox and that voice. The years have improved what was already a great pop / soul voice. Just remarkable, really remarkable. Both Cox and Drummy were self deprecating and charming between the songs. “Back to 1985 when we had our 15 minutes” for example. Some lesser songs from the first album, a couple including the wonderful Faithful from Indian Summer, a more recent song and a cover of Tracks My Tears that deserves a “spine tingling” all of it’s own. Then on to the three song finale we were all waiting for. Call Me and We Close Our Eyes took the roof off. A great song is a great song and these two in this environment with that band and that voice were brilliant. I’ve listened to the album this morning and yes it reeks of mid 1980’s and as you are well aware that is just fine by me. Dismiss the era if you must but to dismiss Peter and Richard? No, not having it. Go West for however short a time produced one great album with three or four phenomenal songs that stand the test of time and some. Playing them live takes great raw material and they become ageless songs no longer defined by an era.
I’ve not finished just yet. They finished on King Of Wishful Thinking a song they wrote for Pretty Woman, they really did have their 15 minutes. It’s a song that’s got better with age, much like Go West. In the spirit of @Bingo-Little ‘s Music Makes Life Worth Living post it was a moment to treasure. Without the need for a set up or prompt Peter Cox gave us an accapella “I’ll get over you” from his boots and the crowd sung the next lines straight back at him before the band took off with the song again. Yes, right there is what perhaps ABBA’s Abbatars may lack (I’m a big ABBA fan by the way). That connection, that feeling that communal music between audience and artist over a song and a moment can bring. I know I can be an over enthusiastic writer but it felt fantastic and I urge you to close your eyes and jump at the chance to see Go West do their thing live if you can. M3 and through Ascot home by the way….
Usual for an 80’s night
It made me think..
Live music is great. There’s good in most music if you’re prepared to look for it