'Agree With Everything - Deny Nothing - Embellish All

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Rock & Roll Heroes - Part I

I've just come back from Blencogo Village Hall. The occasion - a gig by Hank Wangford, sometime gynaecologist of my friend the Nutritional Goddess. Blencogo's a tiny village on the fringe of the Solway flow-country - north and west of there it's peat moss all the way to Scotland. The village hall was packed for Wangford, who came on and did his sincere/kitsch Country & Western schtik with immense charm and enthusiasm. It was after the third number, when he introduced his band The Lost Cowboys by name that I realised the evening was very special indeed. 'And on guitar, Mr Martin Belmont'. Yes, Martin Belmont. Legendary guitarist of Graham Parker & The Rumour, absolutely the tightest rock & roll band in the world between 1975 and 1982 (American readers may be surprised to learn that The E Street Band were their only serious competition). Martin Belmont whom I'd first seen playing to 400,000 people at Blackbushe Aerodrome in 1978. That day The Rumour, token new wave act in a field full of old hippies, were supporting Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton, and comprehensively ripped it up with storming performances of 'Hey Lord Don't Ask Me Questions', 'Mercury Poisoning', and 'Waiting For The UFOs'. Belmont's guitar was an absolute revelation of colour and emotion then - and here he now was, 27 years on, playing to 60 people in a village hall with a disabled toilet for a dressing room. At half-time I went over and introduced myself to one of my real rock'n'roll heroes - and found him affable, friendly and full of memories of The Rumour's gigs. The second half of the night was sheer joy. Belmont played delicious guitar - there's something about the tone he gets from the instrument that's a heart-rending mixture of soulful distress and sheer luscious hedonism. I sat and listened entranced by the way that his hands could hale men's souls from wire coils. If you doubt my words, get down to Amazon, and watch and listen for yourself.


Blogger Lex said...

My "10 Albums I'd Want If Stranded on a Desert Island That, Somehow, Still Had Electricity And A Stereo" list changes from day to day, with but one constant: GP&tR's "Squeezing Out Sparks." In the unlikely event I ever put together another band, at least four songs from that album will be part of the standard repertoire.

21/11/05 6:33 pm  
Blogger Nick said...

Unsurprisingly, we've been having a minor Graham Parker & The Rumour revival this weekend. Love Gets You Twisted, Protection, Passion Is No Ordinary Word & You Can't Be Too Strong would get my vote.

21/11/05 6:43 pm  

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