John Young
Stourbridge Rock Cafe
7 Jul 2001

A long shot - in shorts!The gig was billed as "A Celebration Of The Music Of Fish & Marillion In Aid Of Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy featuring live music from Skyline Drifters, John Young & Made Again plus buffet, raffle, quiz & videos. Doors open at 6pm. WEBSITE : www.ukgardenparty.com - ADM : £10 inc. food (plus free event t-shirt with first 100 advance tickets)" We didn't order in advance as I wasn't sure if I'd make the 120 mile trip up to the show. On the day we decided to go quite late in the day, mid afternoon, and regretted the decision quite quickly as the rain started battering against the windscreen as we passed Oxford. Still, being quarter of the way there we continued and enjoyed the show. We didn't arrive in tie to catch the start of the first band Made Again but did see over half the set.

Running a little late Max Rael (part of the organisation team for this charity convention and friend of JYs from the Fish tour) introduced John at a couple of minutes before nine in a way I’ve never heard it done before: “I’m going to introduce you to a man with a huge sexual organ, John Young.” John returned with a swift “and you’ve seen it” before returning to the matter in hand (watch it!), introducing himself to the audience. " and admitting "I'm going to do a load of stuff you don't know" only half jokingly before the pulsing backing to usual set opener ALL GROWN UP began. The audience sat fairly attentively, most listening though a fair number chatted quietly among themselves.

Between songs John told the audience "that was a song about growing up in an orphanage. This is a song about love & espionage, neither of which I know anything about." CLOSER continued the normal pattern for a solo set and therefore a number familiar to anyone who has seen a JY show, even those lucky enough to have seen the few Fish support slots John managed to perform. "A ditty about WHEN I WAS YOUNG" followed, John adding "Join in if you know it." Not many did as, even if they owned 'Life Underground', they'd not know the lyrics as this song is not on it and only available (at that time) on the YoungWolf cassette. John's music has been linked to the sound of 'Mike and the Mechanics' and this would probably be the closest track to Mike Rutherford's band - no bad thing considering the success they've had.

Getting closer to John - and friend.A problem with the monitor sound prompted a request before the next track. "It's a bit middly here, I don’t need to be so top." Sound problems addressed he cheekily queried "Does anybody here like progressive music?" Lots of cheers to the affirmative prompted the comment " well not many then!” Somebody from the audience got their own back though, a male call asking "John, would you do some widdly widdly?" The saucy reply from John, “For you darling I would do anything!” Normality resumed with the serious business of the next track and a little tale destined to pique the audiences curiosity to introduce it. “OK this is a track called CHILDHOOD'S END, no, not that Childhood’s End (to drawn breaths of anticipation from the concept starved throng), this is my Childhood’s End!” With the sound still not right onstage (it sounded pretty good from where I was standing and the light show was very good too) John made a few more requests before explaining 'the concept'. “It’s about the last night of your childhood when you’re 17 years and three hundred and fifty however many days old. When you’re asleep at night you go to a village called Childhood's End and all your toys come and play with you one last time. And then, in the morning you have to leave and become an adult. Quite a sad song. I don’t know what I was on when I wrote it but hopefully you’ll like it". The uptempo and most ‘progressive' sounding track yet attracted the attention of most of the audience at last.

A different side - and deep in concentration.A quick message for us before he continued, "You’ve just listened to John Wesley on the system just before and I was actually a John Wesley fan before I was a Fish fan. There’s a lot of the unwashed going around and we need your help. We really need your help because there are two schools of thought. There are people who like Sclub7 and all that stuff…” A cheer from at least one of the audience inspired JY’s comment “firing squad please”, “ then there are people who like Yes and Genesis... but there are many people now that write great music and never get seen. We are collectively known as the great unwashed." He continued with the dichotomy of"I do gigs in front of 70,000 in Paris (with the Scorpions) and 10 in Tring!" Giving an example of the difference in attitude of America and here he told the story of when he went to the Grand Prix last year, and, on hearing the 'Lamb Lies down on Broadway' followed by several other 70's progressive bands the young barmaid said how good the music was. "Let's face it, the chances of that happening in most bars in this country are pretty slim." Tale over it was down to the hard sell, John admitting "I can't do what Fish does with racks and racks of CDs but you can help me out by buying a CD." As this was a charity do John, as with all the performers, had given their time for free so CD sales helped cover expenses. The set had now moved past anything people could buy from John but here was something the audience might recognise. Normally a piece written in homage to Yes and Genesis is played, not for awhile though, at this point but tonight, as has been pointed out by a couple of people, John played a double bill of Genesis tunes starting with the instrumental LOS ENDOS. As it drew to a close John prompted everybody to "clap along to this one, or sing even!" as the Genesis factor kicked in fully with the only cover song of the set I KNOW WHAT I LIKE. Needless to say most of the audience knew the words and plenty of folk exercised their vocal chords to what was probably the first one of the set that they recognised. It certainly gained the biggest cheer yet as well a cry for "Suppers Ready” as it concluded. John finished off his "set with a couple of songs from my new album Significance."

The view from Down UnderJohn is in the middle of demoing tracks for the album which is "written and based on my auntie who worked for the Save the Children Fund and is similar to this (the event was raising money for Nordoff Robbins) we are trying to give the profits, if there are any, to the Save the Children Fund." He explained "she worked at the front line in Vietnam, Korea, all sorts of places. There’s two songs I’d like to do for you, the first one is SIGNIFICANCE which is the title track and the second is called UNDERSIDE then I'll just do a bit of keyboard mayhem if that's all right."

These pieces are the newest addition to the set though, despite being currently demoed - more a reworking with new studio equipment, even they have been in the set for almost a year. Part way through SIGNIFICANCE the MD player lost the plot "I've lost my band, I'll start again." This he did and completed the gentle, poignant, track successfully, the audience showing more appreciation now after having had a little fill of 'prog'. "Sorry for the little gremlin there." Another delicate song followed with some very well observed lyrics. Living on the UndersideJohn explained the inspiration and idea behind the track with a quick story. "I got upgraded to first class on British Airways and was sat next to this guy, a big fat businessman and that thing ‘Change for Good’ (an advert about needy kids in Ethiopia) came up on the screen and he was trying to change the channel but it was on every channel. This is a song about him and the difference between the UNDERSIDE and the other side.”

"Thanks very much. Like I said there’s CDs for sale at the back and flyers so keep in touch." He went on to thank the various people who set up the event before commenting that he was "not sure if I can remember this..." "OK, I didn't play it at that speed" as a slow TUMBLEDOWN intro was played. John soon sped it up to the speed he played it on the tour to a few cries of dismay form the audience. Towards the middle he moved into a bit of loud jamming which he explained by saying "told you I couldn't remember it." As he reached where the band would have come in John said I'm not going to do the song, I’LL leave the band to do that." Instead he moved into PADDYDOG his normal keyboard solo adding "I need some help now" as it got going. The audience were wise to the help required and began clapping at the appropriate section. With the solo over and his 45 minute allotted slot having run to 55 minutes John bade the audience “Goodnight, thank you.” And retired to the bar to ready the CDs for sale.

Can you spot yourself? Tony T is wearing the football shirt.I think the set went down very well with the audience, certainly better than to many general pub audiences. I guess with a collection of 'progressive friendly' people and the fact that John had played on the recent Fish tour the interest was there. In some ways it was a chance for John to catch up with fans and friends of Fish he hadn't seen since the tour. There were a few JY fans scattered in there too, Lynn and Paul Baker for a start, though I think we all enjoyed the day for what it was - a fun way to raise some money for a good cause. The Skyline Drifters followed with a mix of Fish and Marillion material and went down very well - especially after the latest Fish tour that missed out a lot of old favourites to make way for material from Fellini Days.

I may get round to reviewing the two other acts on the bill at some point - Made Again (who opened and I missed part of) and The Skyline Drifters who featured ex-Fish keyboard player Tony Turell.

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