Saturday, December 18, 2010

Macca v The Pretty Things

Undoubtedly the nearest thing to rock gold dust this week was a ticket to see McCartney's Friday lunchtime gig at the endangered 100 Club. Of course, it was mission impossible trying to get your hands on one of the 300 tickets available for what must be the smallest show Macca has played in a long while. There was almost no advance notice; a note posted just a couple of days back on the 100 Club website informed surfers that tickets would be on sale at 10.00 on Thursday. Yeh, right. Good chance of getting one then... if chance somehow allows one to beat the zillions of others simultaneously trying to log on at 10.00. I can now add this failure to be one of the chosen few to my failed attempts at getting to Cream's 2005 reunion concert at the Royal Albert Hall, and Led Zeps 2007 appearance at the O2.

Now there was potentially worse to follow; a kind of potential 'salt in the wound' situation. Several weeks ago I'd actually bought tickets for the 100 Club, and ironically for a gig on the same night that Macca played his lunchtime show. Imagine, descending the stairs to the club knowing that just a few hours earlier Macca had walked those same treads...

Thanks, however, to a blinding performance by the legendary Pretty Things, further disappointment was not forthcoming. It made me somewhat reflective though, not just on the random nature of chance in obtaining 'chicken teeth' tickets, but also on the chance element that underpins rock success itself.

Here, just a few short hours after the world's most famed living rocker graced the stage, two other guys who have been around for just as long, took control of it. It could almost have been a case of 'from the sublime to the ridiculous' but the only aspect of the Pretty Things that could be called ridiculous is their lack of real, lasting success. While still enormously popular with those 'in the know', I doubt they'd ever be the cause of a web site crashing under the weight of ticket applicants.

They had their brushes with fame and were 'contenders', both as one of the original R&B bands (current band member, Dick Taylor, can claim to have virtually been an early Rolling Stone), and through a string of late 60s/early 70s progressive albums. But they never quite cracked the ‘big time’, or stepped up from the festival circuit, concert hall and student union to the stadium. It was down to chance, not ability. Their seminal album S.F. Sorrow is widely recognised as being the first concept album released, paving the way for the Who's Tommy and others. Albums like Parachute and Silk Torpedo stand the test of time and ought to be in any self-respecting rock fan's collection.

The band, like many who still perform under an original 60s 'brand' name, comprise a couple of original members, backed up by younger unknowns. Phil May, the 'face' (and hair) of the many Pretty Things line-ups, takes on lead vocals, while Dick Taylor illustrates where over 50 years of practice of playing lead guitar gets you. I'm sorry to say that the other members of the band must remain 'unknown' as I didn't get their names. Together though they delivered what the handbill promised, 'maximum R&B'! And in one of London’s most historic venues.

So, what could have been a real downer, supping pints where Macca just supped (and maybe from the same glass...) actually turned out to be a memorable blast. Macca was playing to draw attention to the fact that the 100 Club's existence is endangered by a hike in their rent; the Pretty Things, in all their historic glory, simply showed why a club like this must survive.


  1. great review but I'm Dick, not Derek, thanks a lot anyway.
    Happy Christmas
    Dick taylor

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Sorry, Dick! I inadvertantly initially titled Dick as Derek on the review. Must have had Beatles on the brain when writing the blog... Derek Taylor was, of course,the Beatles PR. Bruce