Wednesday, December 14, 2005

How not to get pictured with a rock icon


Anyone of a certain age and with a love of noisy jungle music will remember The Sensational Alex Harvey Band from the 70s. They had a devoted following and two iconic members in front-man Alex and guitarist Zal Cleminson, he of the Pierrot makeup and multi-coloured jumpsuit. They had two major single hits in Boston Tea Party and Delilah and several big selling albums. Their legendary live shows were mixes of burlesque and heavy rock, the subject matter for their material drawing large on Alex’s colourful past. They even introduced a superhero in Vambo. The band fragmented around 1978 and Alex died in 1982.

Well, SAHB are back touring. Last year they embarked on a farewell tour that was so successful their adoring faithful all but demanded another one. Anyway, Max Maxwell, who had been brought in to fill the vacancy at the front last year deserved another go. I saw them once last year at Crewe’s only proper venue, The Limelight, and had a great time. The band didn’t as they were dead on their feet through flu, but you would never have guessed, such was their professionalism. When the tour dates were announced for this year and Crewe was once more on the list, I was first in the queue for tickets. Well, I was ninth actually but that doesn’t look quite as good. This time I was determined to do the bug-eyed fan thing and pester for autographs and pictures, something I gave up doing well over a quarter of a century ago.

I’d been sent an advance copy of the live album from last year’s tour and this also came with a limited edition DVD, both of which had nicely signable surfaces, so I was set. I’d even got an indelible pen for the job. The gig went off excellently, the band was on top form and I took loads of pictures, as you’re allowed to do nowadays. Try doing that a few years ago without meeting the pavement head on. I’d decided I was determined to get my picture taken with guitarist Zal at the meet and greet afterwards, not least because he’s one of a dwindling handful of my axe heroes who’s actually still alive. And this is where it gets daft.

The first attempt at a picture was hopeless. I gave the camera to a bystander, who Zal had been talking to moments earlier and tried to get the great man’s attention. Several times. Not wishing to appear pushy, I shrugged my shoulders and gave it up as a bad lot and went back to my beer. Spotting an opportunity a few minutes later, I collared another bloke for snapper duties and at last got Zal to myself. Being the showman, he insisted on us puckering up. Now Zal is quite diminutive so he’s straining to meet my 5’11” and I’m wondering why the flash hasn’t gone off. “Nothing’s happening mate”. Bugger, batteries have run out! Luckily I was prepared so I quickly slapped a new pair in and we made faces again. Nothing. “Press it harder” I said. Still nothing. All the time Zal is remaining in position like a true pro. I realised I’d forgotten to set the date so a further delay while I skipped through that bit for my amateur lensman. Now, we pucker up again and anticipating the flash I turn towards the camera as I’m starting to feel not a little embarrassed by pulling faces in such close proximity to another man, regardless of the high regard I hold him in. The result is quite frankly, startling. I look like a fat badger caught in headlights. Zal had been holding that pose for the best part of 2 minutes. What a pro and what a gent.

0 Vegetable peelings:

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