Having taken the day off work, I drove into London mid afternoon. Traffic was lighter than I expected, and having collected Justin and Lori we drove down to Southampton. We made good time, having beaten the evening rush, and arrived some time around six. Very early, but we hung around outside and, Justin having let the promoter know we were there, we were soon invited inside.
The Brook is where I remember it from 20 years ago, same on the outside, but radically different on the inside (I was at university there; back then The Brook was just a pub). The bar is off to one side, the stage on another, and part of the ceiling has been opened up to prove an upstairs viewing area for those preferring to sit. We moved swiftly upstairs to relax while the soundcheck was in progress.
Darrel Bath was sitting in an armchair carefully restringing his 12-string guitar, and Ian wandered over for a quick hello. The soundcheck took its time as everything was set up, but eventually they ran through a part of Now Is The Time and Too Much. Ian also tried out a number I haven't heard before. In his Diary Ian has said he likes to try new songs out at soundchecks, and this one shows a lot of promise - a trademark Ian ballad, which judging by the chorus might be called More Than I Deserve. The soundcheck over, the band tucked into a hot meal, and we decided to do likewise, departing in search of a chippie.
We found one a minute's drive down the road and returned to find the doors were just opening and the first punters were being let in. We went back upstairs where we could sit with a good view of the stage. I'm told the guy who owns The Brook didn't want to sign Ian, 'cos Ian was asking too much money and he was worried he'd make a loss, but the promoter assured him it would sell out. And by golly it did - by 9:15 when the band came on the place was packed, must have been at least 250 in there.
The band were relaxed but tight, treating this very much as a dress-rehearsal for the following night (London). Easily as good as Burnley, the band stormed through an extended set:
I spotted at least two tape-recorders, so expect tapes of the show to start circulating soon. All too soon it was over, we eventually bought souveniers of the show (t-shirt, posters, guitar picks). Quite a few of us hung around to meet Ian and the band afterwards. The back-stage area is small and there was quite a few waiting to see Ian, so I only had time for a quick word with Ian, had my '74 copy of Diary autographed and my photo taken, and it was time to go.
The drive back was uneventful, the roads being virtually empty in the small hours, I dropped Justin and Lori off at their hotel and then retraced my steps home, eventually climbing into bed at about 2:30.
And that, as they say, was a gas!
The Brook is tiny; I doubt there were more than 250 people crammed into the place. We were allowed in to take pictures during the soundcheck, and got a chance to chat with Ian and the band for a few minutes. As Adrian mentioned, Ian worked on a new number during the sound check. Later on in the week someone told me it might be a Jesse Winchester song.
I talked for a short while with drummer Alan Young, who really enjoys playing with Ian. He says it's nice to do some slow numbers once in a while, since he's been playing with Alvin Lee for the last eleven years. (Alan says that Alvin plays all out most of the time).
I also spoke a bit with Paul Cuddeford, the left handed lead guitarist (Well, most of the time he's the lead guitarist). He sticks to the background onstage, but if you get a chance to talk with him he's quite animated. He says he got the gig with Ian through an ad in Melody Maker, and that he knew a lot of the material because he used to play MTH songs in a cover band. In the past, he's worked with Tom Jones among others: "Hey, you take work where you can get it", Paul told me.
Ian Gibbons, the keyboard player, has been with the Kinks for many years. I got to chat with him for a bit, and he laughed when I asked him about his brief spell with Mott's other vocalist, Nigel Benjamin. (Ian Gibbons played keyboards for Nigel's band the English Assassins after Mott broke up).