More live shows coming soon, meanwhile, thanks to @NothingvilleM on twitter for this review of recent Liverpool shows..
Simon Mason – Too high, too far, too soon – Lantern Theatre – 16/3/15
Anyone seen The Cat In The Hat?
So went the backstage shout, at many of the mid-late 90s most high profile gigs and festivals. It’s hard to imagine that the champions and pioneers of Brit Pop were actually enquiring as to whether the assembled throng of turned on, tuned in and messed up peers had enjoyed the recent film adaptation of the Dr Seuss classic. Oh no.
No. They were almost certainly seeking the whereabouts of Simon Mason. And wherever they were, so was he. He was there, alright.
And tonight, he’s here, with us, at the Lantern Theatre, to act out his story. And what a story. It’s catalogued, from its awkward and awful beginnings in a Catholic boarding school of the late 1970s, to its horrific ending on a syringe strewn Camberwell stairwell 20 years later, in his 2013 book, Too High, Too Far, Too Soon.
Simon Mason was THE man that the likes of Oasis went to back in the day to help with their, erm, chemical requirements. And then some. Alan McGee called him ‘The Rock n Roll Doctor’. He was a chemical friend to most, and an actual friend to few. Most people wanted his number, but for business purposes only. His mistake was believing they meant it. But he made the two worst mistakes. He believed his own hype, and he got high on his own supply. Fatal mistakes. Well, very nearly in this case.
What follows is a 20 year descent into the bowels of rock n roll hell, which, though we may have heard similar from others before, is difficult to find quite as entertaining, as funny, as sad, as utterly horrific as Mason’s story. He’s not one of them. He’s very much one of us. A chancer with a funny hat, a bumbag full of product, some lucky breaks, and more than a few unlucky experiences.
The chemicals feature large here, obviously. Boy, don’t they. From the very moment he’s brought home, at 11 years old, from boarding school, emergency style, at the death of his father, and is subsequently sedated to calm his hysteria, his pupils dilate, his mood is altered, and his fate his sealed. A substance is given to him to change his mood, and the rollercoaster trundles off. The soundtrack, featuring such class as The Jam, The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, The Smiths, The Cure, The Psychedelic Furs, Primal Scream and of course, Oasis, or The Manchester City Frisbee Club as he introduced them at T in the Park in 1996, is only topped by the inclusion of our own Shack’s classic Streets Of Kenny, a tune which resonates with Mason’s story in every way.
The journey from the bland misery of a 1980s youth in Weston-Super-Mare, via an abusive time at boarding school, to a penniless teenage Soho escape, the massive highs of hanging with the world’s biggest band, to the filthy loneliness of council estate overdose, when his life was saved by his best friend, Scouse Paul, who himself died two days later, and then, most importantly, to his subsequent recovery from his many addictions, some 9 years ago, and him finding himself at last, as a worthy human, the story of this crazed ex hat wearing friend of Liverpool, and supplier to the stars, speaks more of healing the wounds than it does of all the hurt he caused himself and others. Too High, Too Far, Too Soon. He saw the whole of the moon. Often.
A great night. And a great book.