Nick and Roy at Cambridge Corn Exchange,
Friday 4 October 2002 - by "Mr X" Steve Clarke

Roy seemed just a little disappointed that we didn't heckle more, but those of us from the East of England are really too polite. Even the one "interrupter", a couple of seats in front of me, tired and emotional as a newt as he was, began his interruption with "Excuse me" and went on ever so politely to ask for Referendum. He established that, if it wasn't possible, he'd thought of going for a beer. As a reward, Roy gave him some spoken fragments of same.

It was a good night for people-watching in general. Roy noticed how many pairs of glasses were looking at him. Age takes its toll in many ways. Then there were the two empty seats in front of me during Nick's set. They guaranteed me a great view. But, sod it, they turned up for Roy's bit. How sad is that? Then they started that "Come on Roy, we're your best fans" style of listening, air punching and throwing back the head in time sort of thing. Then, with the lullaby-like opening notes of "Short and Sweet" still reverbing across our foreheads, one of them fell asleep. And stayed asleep until he needed the loo, where he stayed for at least 3 numbers. Good value tickets there then.

Talking of value, the seats certainly aren't. At 6ft 4in (tall - but similar in width) I get in other people's way as it is. Having to shift my sitting position every few minutes must add to the irritation of those behind me. Sorry. But those seats could shorten NHS queues in a flash if they were put in every hospital waiting room.

As for the music. I hope it's not that I'm becoming easy to please, but it was brilliant. The sets were much as listed by others. Nick broke a string and changed it. We asked Darren if he has a device somewhere on his guitar to cause the thing to snap, thus provoking the virtuoso performance. Darren smiled.

Apart from the Royal Festival Hall birthday bash, I haven't seen Nick since Suffolk and Goode in 1993. Needless to say, I was very, very impressed, as were Mrs and Mini X. He asked at one point, "Who's been knocking fuck out of this?", looking at his guitar. The answer was clear... But what impressed me even more was the way he knocks seven kinds of shit out of his voice. Sustain and falsetto all at once. Mmm.

I really, really liked the choice of material that Roy has made. I've never been a great fan of Miles Remains, and live last night I thought it a bit self-indulgent - by which pomposity I suppose I mean that it goes on too long. Others have previously knocked The Tallest Tree, but I like its anthemic nature. If I'd been younger and less polite, I might have got me scarf out, waved it over me head and sung along: "Chico, Chico Mendes... there's only one...". Sorry. Unfortunately, I think Roy's voice isn't right anymore for Francesca, but it's still a lovely little tune.

With those few reservations put aside, I will now enthuse manically. Commune could be a sterile cliche by now, but Roy always injects clarity and freshness. He did last night, by the simple device of putting it in context. The spoken/poetry intro to Rushing Camelot was a brilliant taster for a song which grows on me the more I listen. I've never taken Frozen Moment seriously because I don't normally listen to side 2 of the vinyl Jugula: now I must listen again - give me another superlative someone.

Nick's contributions to Short And Sweet drove it along wonderfully. Did anyone else detect a slight tension between father and son a couple of times? Hangman I haven't heard since Sudbury in 1984; I was amazed at the power it retains.

And the vote from the X jury for the highlight of the evening? Drawn To The flames, Sleeping At The Wheel, and encore song The Green Man share the accolade equally. Breathtaking, all three.

To top off the evening, we got home in time to persuade the landlord that his clock was a little fast and IPA could still be served in a brown paper bag. Wonderful all round. If Tracy or Roy or anyone from the management is reading this, thanks for another great evening. See you again.

Created 31 October 2002
© SC/PLC 2002