Sunday, February 02, 2014

Road Trip: UK Style
Mersey Beat to Mancusian Punk Poetry
with some insanity in Leamington Spa
February 2014

 OK, so back in November I said to Cece, "I've got good news and bad news." "The good news is I want to go somewhere warmer in February. The bad news is, it's Manchester."

Should be a LITTLE warmer anyway. No beaches though.

John Otway AND John Cooper Clarke; this double-header has been on my bucket list since it's inception back in 2001. In the early 1980's we had the pleasure of seeing both these marginal British 'new wave' artists in Toronto.

Otway accompanied by Wild Willy Barrett played in a basement room with a capacity of 50 and a stage that was about 8' X 4'.  That was two shows at The Hotel Isabella on Sherbourne Street. Headbutts and somersaults, riding an horse and that train, that train, going choo-choo-choo down the track. He brought it all and left behind blood, sweat and tears of laughter.

Cooper-Clarke was a different scene altogether. The hardcore punks were out in force at The Voodoo Lounge on St Joseph's street. We didn't know what we were getting. The alt-radio success of Beasley St. was not representative of this man's oeuvre. What we got was machine-gun fast heavily accented spoken word. And no band. It was terrific. The crowd was growing restless but JCC shut them down with this admonition; "If you want the fuckin' music, buy the fuckin' album."

In the intervening decades life happened to all involved but I've never forgotten the joy of those three sweaty evenings at the peak of the last great wave of rock n roll. I had the good fortune of seeing the likes of The Clash (before the release of London Calling), The Ramones, Rockpile, Elvis Costello and a list of other artists who crossed the ocean (mostly) or came north from Rockaway Beach. With the exception of Elvis what these two have on the rest is ... they are still playing. That I find serendipitous. 'Cause I'm still movin'.

In 2005 we visited the UK and Liverpool was on the agenda. Car troubles cost us most of our allotted visiting time. This year we're going to spend 3 days in Merseyside and see all there is to see. Or all we care to see, at the least. It'll be the usual; looking for childhood homes, dead people and places known in songs. The Albert Docks looks like a good place to spend a day.

Just the two of us. We have memories longer than the road that stretches out ahead...but it doesn't mean we have to stop making them.

We are then going to set up camp in Leamington Spa for four nights. From here we can spend a couple of evenings in Stratford-Upon_Avon diving into the Shakespeare mythology.

Perhaps even catch a play or two at The Globe.

Then it's the double-header of Otway/Clarke and a day visit with a long-time dylanpool friend and his family near Manchester.

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