A short note (Kings Place - 14 March 2013)

Posted Apr 14, 2013

A short note…

It seems we’re still in the bleak mid winter from where I’m sitting! Looks beautiful but I need some sunshine…. I’ll soon have to start getting my essential vitamin D from pills - Aagh!

My reason for writing this, is to share the experience, as far as it is possible, of my concert at Kings Place last week.

I learned on the morning of the concert, as I was packing to drive down, that Tony would not be able to undertake the gig. He was poorly. Panic! I contacted our agent and he contacted Kings Place. To my pleasant surprise they asked whether I would undertake the concert myself? I said I could do that but would anybody stay once they heard that Tony was unable to be there?  Kings Place felt they had a duty to tell people as they collected their tickets, that Tony was not going to be at the concert and that I had agreed to perform alone. I expected most would return home or have a different ‘night out’!  To my pleasant surprise and eternal gratitude 75-80% stayed and we had a very comfortable audience in Hall 1.

I explained and apologised for Tony’s absence and set off to talk about the history of ‘Writing on the Wall’ and what our intentions were in performing the show. I sang the songs in the order they would come in the programme. I think we were all enjoying ourselves and at the interval a lot of people bought the CD of the show. I got nervous again, thinking many of the audience wouldn’t return. Oh me of little faith! I think everyone returned. I was humbled.  Towards the end of the set I was called to the side of the stage. I excused myself for a moment and left the stage.  I think many thought the message was bad news! I didn’t realise this at the time but afterwards one or two people mentioned it. As I went off, I saw Tony! He was intent on apologising himself to the audience and he said, supporting me.  I was very moved and couldn’t hold back the tears. (I’m a wimp!!) As we stepped, or rather shuffled arm in arm on to the stage there was a roar and everyone was on their feet applauding and shouting their welcome. It was so moving, I think we both were very emotional (I just kept weeping – “what am I like?”) Indeed I think the emotion swept the whole audience. Tony sat next to me and apologised for not being able to participate in the concert. He spoke briefly of our almost 40 years of friendship and collaboration and said some really kind words about me (I wept!) I think we both knew that this was likely our last appearance together on a concert stage, anywhere. His voice was strong and his words were the right words!

 There is one song he often asks me to sing at the end of the show. A song written by Robb Johnson: ‘Winter Turns to Spring’. I knew I had to sing it even though I wasn’t sure I’d get through it – I was still a bit weepy! I picked up my guitar and managed to calm down and I sang it, once again, as our closing song. We left the stage to tumultuous applause and I wept – again!!

I can’t describe my gratitude to that audience for staying to listen to me and especially to Tony for insisting on coming, against advice and for the so kind words of support for me. I am sure I’ll never forget that final concert of Writing on the Wall at Kings Place on Thursday 14th March 2013.

Tony left almost immediately the concert ended with his usual question “Was I OK?” I just hugged him (and wept!). His boundless optimism,  energy and enthusiasm for the show and indeed, for life resulted in the comment “I’m not dead yet – so we might even manage another concert somewhere!!”

To those of you who came, my heartfelt thanks and gratitude.  If I can claim just a little of Tony’s optimism ….. who knows …. we may yet do it again!?

After the show and when everyone had left I joined some friends for a drink in the Kings Place bar. My friend, Donald Grant the fiddle player on ‘Below the Radar’ and violinist extraordinaire of the Elias Quartet     and two other friends were, I think the last to leave this beautiful building on York Way. Maybe I might get to sing there again. I’d love that. So watch, as they say ‘this space’.

 It’s still snowing and while it looks nice from inside I’m not sure I want to go out into it!  I know the sun will shine again I just want it to hurry up and reveal itself!

Val has just asked if I’d mind doing some shopping?!

 Roy Bailey,  Sheffield in the snow.   

22nd March 2013