A Night in Wimborne with John Lydon

I have to admit that I didn’t really know too much about John Lydon when I booked tickets to see him on his UK spoken word tour. When I find out he was coming to Wimborne in Dorset I knew I had to be there, even if I had set off at half-five after work!

John was touring to promote his new book I Could Be Wrong, I Could Be Right,

I had never been to Wimborne before as it’s a bit of a long drive from where I live by the coast but I was delighted to visit the Tivioli Theatre. Small in stature but big in character, the Tivilio looked fantastic lit up on that cold dark night – a real Art Deco palace that had seen the great and the good over the last century!

As I made my way to my seat, Ihad stop every now and then to marvel the shear sea of people around me. This little theatre was completelty rammed from the entrance to the theatre doors, it was a miracle that the show even started on time so long was the queue.

When I finally took my seat by the front row I was amazed to see such a wide variety of people in the audience, half where dresses in the usual punk regalia: leather jackets, Ramones t-shirts, tartan leggins – the usual cliches! The other were dresses as if they were attending a wedding reception or a Sunday Dinner at the clubhouse. This binary mix of people, young and old, male and female, punks and non-punks, was a real testament to the power of John’s music/

In front of me on the small stage were two chairs, two microphones and a small table. Nothing more was needed – what a great opener!

After a few minutes the great man himself appeared from behind the red curtain to thunderous applause, receiving a standing ovation before he’d even said a word!

From the moment he stpped on stage John treated the audience as if they were old friends who popped round one afternoon. This laid-back informal approach was a real relief to me as I’d been to many book events, including many by musicians, where the whole thing ends up feeling like one big press release performed to a paying audience.

I’m not really interested in going to see an unengaging author and a fawning interviewer going over the same tired questions like actors rehearsing for a play. I want to hear people talk

The premise of the show was that John would be interviewed for the first half of the show and then would answer written questions from the audience (specially made cards were available in the lobby) in the second.

Places Where I’ve Been – Berwick Street, Soho

Nestled among the lurid sex shops and fine eateries of Soho lies Berwick Street – a veritable oasis (no pun intended) of world-class record shops that most music fans would die for.

Berwick Street will be instantly recogniseable to many fans of a certain Manchester band who conquered the world for a brief moment in the 90s.

Yes, this is where the album cover photograph for (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? was taken – a simple but nontheless striking shot that would line the bedroom walls of countless teenagers during the heady days of Britpop.

Though many of the record shops are no more, Berwick Street is a very interesting places to visit, now immortalised forever as part of music history.

Places Where I’ve Been – 23 Heddon Street

As someone generally not a fan of crowds, walking through Central London on the eve of a highly-anticipated football match was quite the experience – it’s perhaps the closest I’ll ever get to experiencing a flashmob in the flesh!

Still, I wasn’t in the Capital to see a show or any of the eye-wateringly expensive trademarks, sorry I mean landmarks!

No, I was on my way to 23 Heddon Street, just off Regent Street, to pay homage to one the 20th century’s greatest artists, David Bowie.

It was here in a doorway that Bowie, as alter-ego Ziggy Stardust, posed for the album cover photograph for The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders of Mars – arguably one of the defining records of the 70s.

For me, this was David Bowie at his absolute best: glam, sexy, flamboyant, cool, fake and otherwordly.

As a truly evocative piece of art, the album cover always makes me think of a London that was exciting, raw and dangerous – long before the gentrification and hipster-dom we see today.

I loved the bohemian idea of London in the late 60’s and early 70’s, where struggling artists could rent a victorian terrace for a pittance, writing verse on the peeling wallpaper and composing protest songs in the bath.

However, today Heddon Steet is unrecognisable from that iconic photograph; gone is that sense of urban decay and grime that must have made London such a dangerous and seductive place to be in the 70s. In it’s place is a row of identical-looking restaurants, who judging by the prices on their menus, cater exclusively to wealthy foreign tourists and businessmen with unrestricted access to the company credit card.

Give me that fantasy of Old London any day…

Still, just to be able to stand on the same spot as one of your heroes is a sensation that I never get tired of, no matter how remote.

One can only hope that that a Ziggy Burger isn’t on the menu!

Places Where I’ve Been – 22 Gladstone Avenue

On Thursday 27th May, I took the train to Feltham, West London, to visit 22 Gladstone Avenue – the childhood home of Freddie Bulsara, later to find fame as one Freddie Mercury.

It was a sweltering afternoon by the time that I reached Feltham train station from my home in West Dorset, made only worse by the swarming crowds enjoying the newly relaxed travel restrictions.

Using my phone to navigate, I took a left at the train station, crossed the overhead bridge and made a diversion through the nearby Glebelands playing fields.

A few minutes later and I had reached surburban heights of Gladstone Avenue – a seemingly neverending row of identical semi-detached houses as far as they eye can see. Tere at number 22 was my destination!

There on the opposite side of the road I stopped for a few minutes to think about the life of the young man who once lived here. The boy who would later compose arguably the greatest Pop song of all time, who would lead an era-defining concert and after his tragic death, live in the hearts of millions of fans around the world.

I took a few snaps and then I was on my way back home, thankful to have paid my respects to one of my my musical heroes.