John Otway

John Otway Copyright http://www.johnotway.com/

The other day John Otway made his first visit to Orkney to play a couple of gigs. I remember him from the late 70’s when he had the hit “Really Free” (1977) .  He became very much a Punk Icon with his range of songs including some cover versions where he deconstructs a classic. His version of “House of the Rising Sun” with hecklers is brilliant and holds the record for the largest ‘choir’ of over a thousand ever recorded. In a poll by the BBC when listeners were asked for their top lyric writers of all time he came 7th with Paul McCartney 6th ! If you haven’t heard this guy you should seek him out on YouTube, particularly the classic Old Grey Whistle Test gig which brought him to fame as he landed badly after a jump and crushed his ‘man parts’!

I had a hard time trying to describe this guy’s music to Anna and she really wasn’t sure about going. I even tried to convince a couple of friends here that it was worth the £10 a ticket. But they chickened out. In the end Anna agreed to hold my hand and keep me company.

We arrived at the venue, a popular one in Stromness of the Town Hall, which just to confuse the new-comer is in fact an old church in the centre of the town. Although the poster on the web said doors open at 8pm, when we arrived they were about to start. As we collected our reserved tickets ( well you need to book for such a mega star don’t you ? ) I noticed a rather scruffy tall gentleman standing by the table talking to the girls on the door, this turned out to be the man himself!

We were ushered through into the hall which was laid out with circular tables rather like a restaurant, most of the seats were taken and people had brought their own booze. Damn! I hadn’t thought of doing that! We found a seat on one of the tables that wasn’t full and settled down with a rather apprehensive Anna to what followed.

John started the show with the first of his two hits, rather than saving it to the end, as the show continued through the numbers involving his famous two headed guitar, lots of extreme silliness one or two very poignant numbers ( check out Poetry & Jazz ) it was not long before both Anna and myself were laughing our heads off. At half time John came out and sat and chatted with some of the audience which was great.

The end of the show came all too quickly and John Otway seem quite surprised to get not one, but two encores, the final song he did was “Headbutts” , this was one of his longstanding music partner, Wild Willy Barret, numbers who for this tour had been replaced by a Fuzz pedal.

On leaving the venue I treated myself to a DVD of his movie and one of his CD’s which Anna got signed with a kiss.

What a great night, come back to Orkney soon John Otway we are already missing you!

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