Can I put into words how much fun the Classic Rock awards were?
Noddy Holder was there.
Lemmy was there.
It was hosted by a wrestler.
What! I have to say more?
Tonight, I was in a room with Brian May, Alice Cooper, Europe, Jimmy Page, and Chris Jericho. Last night, I was beneath the Cutty Sark sat with AC Grayling, Liz Bonnin and the Danish ambassador, while shouting across the table at Royal Society president, Sir Paul Nurse. I am not sure how many of them were also at the Classic Rock Awards.
My life does not lack variety.
Walking into the Classic Rock awards, i was funneled into the red carpet entrance. Like a role playing novel, the way to the Roundhouse is 1. or 2.
- Do you go straight to the tequilas on the second floor, walking on concrete
- Do you walk by the paparazzi and the journalists on the carpet of red.
Unlike an Ian Livingstone book, you may not choose your own adventure. The camera people were very nice. They told me to look at each of their lenses as if my portrait was of some use. Once to the tunnel of interviewee doom, I had Jimmy Page in front of me and Brian May behind. Eventually, I turned to the orchestrator and suggested the journalists were having quite a lovely time, and they wouldn’t wake up on Thursday with regret.
“Damn, we never asked the one in specs what Brian Cox was like.”
Once inside, I milled. Under the tea clipper, I had known people. In the Roundhouse, I was a stranger in a strange land. I wore no black. I had no tattoos. I had never charted in Finland. I went to the bar for some Prosecco and adopted a stance that intended to suggest that I was comfortable alone. I was then found by Danny from Roadrunner Records who had been waiting for me at the end of the velvet shagpile of inquisition.
He and his fellow Roadrunners then became the delightful companions on the evening.
A table away from me sat Wilko Johnson, I wanted to approach him as I knew he was a keen amateur astronomer and would love to have his passion for the stars expressed on Monkey Cage. I risked an approach and he seemed delightful. We briefly talked of the rings of Saturn. His drummer was with him, and suggested he could be a point of contact. I looked at his card, by jingo, it was Dylan Howe, the creative mind behind one of my favourite albums of last year, Subterranean – New Designs on Bowie’s Berlin. Brian May was little more than a metre away. To hell with it, I introduced myself as Brian Cox’s parasitic twin and suggested he joined us for one of our Christmas Hammersmith shows in the future (rather than ask him to join us for one of the ones we would be doing in the past. Brian Cox tells me that is still a no go in direction of time travel due to the pesky laws of physics).
I can’t remember if I had eaten my vegetarian starter when Yoshiki of X Japan came on. He performed an easy listening piano version of Bohemian Rhapsody and his own tender piece in memory of band members who had died. Sadly, in such a rock environment, as he struck each melancholy note, all I could think was, “it’s called Lick My Love My Pump”.
Then, I think it was Blackberry Smoke who took to the stage before wrestler Chris Jericho endearingly hosted the awards.
And then they came. Lemmy came to present an award in celebration of Jimi Hendrix. I was appalled, not everyone gave him a standing ovation. It is bloody Lemmy. Looking around the Roadrunner table, you could see the adoration for Lemmy in their eyes. We stood, and so did Brian May, the barometer of rock etiquette for the night.
Phill Jupitus presented a clerihew, a haiku and a limerick in tribute to Noddy Holder, before giving him the showman award. Not everyone stood. It’s bloody Noddy Holder. We stood, and so did Brian May. We were in the right. He can still bellow delightfully.
Bruce Dickinson received an award for Iron Maiden’s last album (quite proggy you know) and spoke with cheek before reminding everyone that tonight’s 6.6% Iron Maiden 666 Trooper beer would happily wash your memories away.
Brian May, Joe Satriani, Foo Fighters, Alice Cooper and on, all won awards…and Europe too, for best comeback. And there was the final delight of the evening, a 4 song set from Europe. It was like seeing them as a wedding band, as people left their tables and wandered to the bar. But they played loudly and passionately and they had me smiling broadly enough to almost crack open the corners of my mouth. It was a sight to see. I rang my wife and held the phone up so she could hear The Final Countdown.
Then, The Urban Voodoo Machine picked up their brass and led the partygoers to the aftershow like the cortege of a New Orleans funeral. I had drunk enough tequila by then (donated by Cleo Rocos the programme tells me) and I was sober enough to know that any more booze would not enhance tomorrow’s journey to Durham to do interviews about general relativity.
Long Live Rock n Roll, and goodnight.
Footnote – Brian May played at the first gig I saw at Hammersmith Apollo, it was Bad News with the beloved comic strip.
Thank you Jo, Danny and Roadrunner table.
Shambles podcast is back – here are Josie Long and I talking to Stewart Lee
Who knows if Brian May will join Brian Cox and me at Hammersmith, tickets available for our Thursday show here
all of this will be spoken of on my regular music podcast co-starring Micheal Legge – VITRIOLA