Around 11am Tom,JJ and Neil decided they would hit the music shops on 48th street so we drifted through the heat listening, looking, narrowly missing taxis, walking past sparkly bag stalls. I suggest JJ buys one of these for his beloved – Tess, but he has already decided on much more sensible and useful and expensive presents. Suggests he puts the sensible, useful and expensive presents into one of these cheap sparkly bags but not impressed. What is it with guys ???. Have a sneaky feeling that it is really me who wants one of these bags.
Anyway I lose JJ in Sam Ash,s drum shop, Tom in the strings shop and Neil in the guitars. After a few hours we go to Washington Square for coffee and decide to go and check out Studio Instrument Rentals on 10th and 35th. We hired Tom’s bass from here and we are hiring a piano for the Saturday gig in Piermont. Neil goes back to hotel for power zizz. Walking to 10th we are out of the smartish buzzy part of New York and into a sort of no-mans land – no houses, no shops, a few trees, lots of corrugated iron boarding. We come to what looks like an office block to find SIR on the second floor. What a place – floor to ceiling stacked high with every kind of instrument. Only two double basses in whole place but hundreds of drum kits, percussion etc etc. Meet Danny who I had been emailing from England – nice bloke. Then back through torrid heat into an Indianycrafty shop where we try on a variety of hats, ponchos, scarves jackets etc etc. Nothing fits but the shop owner is such a patient helpful man that we feel obliged to buy something – hats, ponchos, scarves jackets etc
Back to the hotel and leaving for the gig around 6pm to tune the instruments and run over a few things. All very hyped up but around 7.45 we realised we were not going to get much of an audience – in fact 12 came including two who had made it all the way from Seattle.
One of Neil’s theories about performance is that you can only play to one person at a time and tonight he really is. But the band performs as if the place is packed to the rafters. The very select audience can’t believe that they are the only ones listening to the show – there is long applause and even an encore so the night feels good even if not at all financially viable. Bob Carruthers is one of the audience. He has put together a video of the Bonzos which is actually a good piece of memorabilia for Bonzo fans everywhere. He is in the process of organising a ‘History of the Bonzos’ concert at the Astoria in London in January which should be fantastic. Neil, Tom and JJ will open the show as Neil Innes + Friends and then Neil will put on his Bonzo hat for the second half, which will be pure Bonzo material with as many of the originals as possible and also – well no more right now. Still not finalised. Very hush hush – have probably said too much already – oh no not the tongue clamp……
The set list tonight is as follows:
Short Urban Spaceman- always gets a big round of applause as he launches into his ‘medley of hit.’
Bold Sir Robin – enter minstrels JJ and Tom
Rory Motion (Neil’s alter-ego) plus adverts
Eine Kleine – middle- classe music
Happy Jogger and Pangloss
All alone – this is Neil on ukele and finishes with the whole audience singing ‘All Alone’ together – a nice moment.
Ego Warriors-the ‘Movement’ – Tee- shirts buttons etc – seems to get to everyone. All join in the Ego Warrior salute.
Philosophers- most know the words and sing along
Idiot – this is a great favourite – touches a nerve.
Charlie Big potatoes – gets better and better
Evening sun- everyone’s favourite
Godfrey Daniel- dedicated to songwriters everywhere but especially EJ
‘Rutalot’- a huge applause here
Friends- many buy the CD specifically for this song – who hasn’t lost someone to cancer or some other unfair and awful disease. Listen to Tom’s solo
Eye Candy – Neil has done enough TV watching to know about this
One of Those People- amazing – listen to Tom again – sometimes just good, other times unbelievable. JJ and Tom and Neil’s best moments.
Hero – ditto
After the show there is karaoke in the bar and to our surprise Tom gives a rendition of New York New York with all the depth and feeling of the original by Frank. Apparently once he started he couldn’t stop but by now it was 2.30 and we crept back to bed sparing ourselves Tom’s inspired effort to hit the high notes in Sex Machine. Later Bob took Tom and JJ to experience a New York night club so they missed the next morning entirely.