With perhaps the exception of the Empire awards, the Mojos might well be my favourite time of year. For chaperoning a pop star or similar around (last year my chum Phill Jupitus, this, my chums the Manic Street Preachers) you then get access to the free bar and earwig on and occasionally get involved in conversations like the one I had with Jeff Beck and ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons. Jeff still has the most startling hair in the west, while Billy sported what can only be described as a tea cosy and cheap sunglasses (yes!). They were talking guitars – really – while I scanned the room trying to spot the Manics. Wire’s about seven feet tall with a thatch of blonde hair while James and Sean, by their own admission, are set somewhere below the radar. So naturally, it was Wire I was trying to pin down. “Isn’t that right?” said someone to my left, said someone was Jeff Beck, I turned to face him and an expectant looking Billy Gibbons. Not only had I missed their point they now wanted my opinion on it. Yes, I said, absolutely and then I said yes about eight times changing my intonation with each one. This seemed to work and we all clinked our glasses in agreement. Shaken I made off into the main room to find three Welshman and brushed up against Johnny Marr who smiled and asked me how I was. How I didn’t kiss him for acknowledging my very existence I will never know, but then I saw Wire waving and did the right thing; left Marr alone.
Duff McKagan made a rather touching speech as he gave the Manics their Maverick gong and brought a tear to Wire’s eye. Something had almost certainly got in mine too. A mote of some kind I’ll wager or maybe just the moment. Last year I made a beeline for Neil Diamond and shook his hand (until his PR shooed me away) and this year I did the same with Chris Blackwell who was grace personified especially in the face of a shaggy haired Taff. I love the label he founded, I might have mentioned this to him, bet no-one else ever has… Blur went bouncing by and made me realise how much I’d missed them as a band while the Pretty Things had a strange air of menace about them, in a way that’s to be admired. It’s rare to be wary of a pack of grey haired gents.
This may sound like I have a social season, but I’m here to tell you that I do not, though having said that, I then went to the Metal Hammer awards a few days later. It wasn’t without the odd A lister, but myself and Neil spent a good portion of the evening scratching our chins quizzically and asking each other who the hairy men in the VIP bar were. They could have probably bought and sold us with their record sales in Italy alone, but they still remained a mystery in our middle-aged heads. Saxon were a live delight (yes, I really wrote that) and touched the teenager in me (take your minds out of the gutter) with a stirring Princess Of The Night, a song about Welsh steam engines, which I bought on seven inch when I was denim-clad teen. Anvil played too and even though they have a surprise cinematic hit on their hands – and very good it is too – no-one needs to hear Metal On Metal again. It’s the giant elephant in the room, musically, they were never very good the first time around, but nobody wants to admit it. Naturally, I did my usual thing of getting in at 1AM, realised that I hadn’t eaten and cooked dinner. Then decided it was far too late to eat and placed it in the fridge, it’s still in there now like a curio you might find on the Marie Celeste.
No book news to report, I’m still waiting on the edit and the artwork, I’d say almost patiently…