Wednesday, 16th March 2005 in Road Trip U.K. 2005.
Wednesday dawns and we are off to Horsham. The Capital Theatre is almost in the middle of the town and we are told to look for a large glass box which was added to the original cinema a few years ago. There is a well designed foyer and bar area and a really good merchandising space. Good light clean dressing rooms and the rider has been laid out ready with a flask of coffee and tea, beers, water and the bottle of red wine. Can’t tell you the difference it makes when those few things provided without having to ask. Theatres which don’t bother to provide things like that are making the same mistake as performers who simply leave the theatre quickly after doing the show, instead of staying to talk with any of the audience who chose to wait behind to see them. It creates bad feelings. But here at the Capital the crew and the manager – Michael -are helpful, friendly and efficient. Nothing is too much trouble and I am not asked for a percentage of the merchandising. After Bedworth we are slightly apprehensive about numbers but we find out there are about 200 pre-bookings and more are expected to turn up. The guys work through the sound check and then rehearse a few numbers. It sounds good and later during the show their playing is impressive. Neil comes onto the stage alone at the beginning with his Little Ukele to sing the old George Formby song. Then come stories and songs from the Bonzo days. Then the Crystal Balls we know and love and by this time the audience always join in with gusto. As he begins the old English ditty ‘Brave Sir Robin,’ Tom and JJ appear as minstrels from the wings, JJ with a tambourine and Tom with a recorder. The band launch into Silver Surfer followed by a simple love song beautifully played. Tom’s input is fantastic. Sometimes it’s nice just to listen to his playing. Great for Neil to have JJ and Tom with him. After ‘Cats’ Neil goes into ‘Never alone’. Then ‘All Alone’ with the ukele and this is where you can really appreciate the music they make together. Each instrument perfectly compliments the other. Next ‘Ego Warrior’ really hits the spot. Everyone is fed up with what is happening today and with their seeming inability to change it. The Ego Warrior oath is repeated with relish.
‘I solemnly swear
To defend self-esteem
Wherever it may be
And never to repeat
Anything I am told
By anyone posing as an authority figure
So help me Rhonda
Help, help me Rhonda
I will stamp my little foot’
After this there is the ‘Philosophers Song’ and people pour out wanting Ego Warrior T –shirts and buttons. Running out of large sizes fast. At various times during the first half ‘Rory Motion and the Drainpipes’ put in an appearance wih their sponsorship adverts for among other things ‘Cock-a-Doodle Tato’ and ‘New 4 in 1– it’s a toothbrush, a toilet cleaner, a car polish and a dandruff shampoo…’ Tonight he gets it wrong –‘a toothpaste, a toilet cleaner a car shampoo and a dandruff polish’!!!!
After the interval Neil walks on stage alone for ‘Idiot’ which begins with a lot of bubble blowing, then some stories about incidents with the Pythons. JJ and Tom join Neil on stage for ‘Charlie Big Potaotoes’, an everyday story about being too big for one’s boots. He goes straight into’ Evening Sun’ without any chat or preamble, as much to cut a few minutes out of the second half which is overrunning, as to see if he needs to explain the song. Somehow it seems to work just as well – although I have to say I like the story about the poet John Cooper-Clarke’s comment on Haiku – ‘Expressing yourself in seventeen syllables is very diffic.’ After this the ever popular Rutles Medley with Tom playing the bass like a cello on ‘Another Day’. ‘At The End of the Line’ always gets a huge applause. Godfrey Daniel leads straight into the last three songs – TV. ‘One of Those People’ and ‘Hero’ and the three musicians really get a chance to show what they can do. Their playing is electric and causes an explosion of applause after ‘Hero’. ‘Urban Spaceman’ and ‘Back in ‘64’ completes the show and then within five minutes Neil changes, has a quick glass of wine and comes into the foyer to sign CDs, at which point I clear away all the merchandise and go back to pack away Neil’s guitars, amps, leads and props etc. Finally, after the last people have gone, Neil gets a chance to collapse – which is why a sofa is a good idea in the dressing room. Many theatres have Green Rooms with easy chairs but better to have one in the dressing room as well.
Neil’s thought for the day – ‘Well if you have to have dandruff it might as well look polished’.
Tom’s poem – Artisan/Call to Faith – ‘Creator, No ‘why’, Only action, Feel the urge, Refuse distraction, Know why, Later.’