“I fell in love with the dreams of children; I saw a vision of all the happy days. I’ve caught a fashion from the dreams of children, but woke up sweating from this modern nightmare.”
The Jam;The Dreams of Children; (1980)
I get a phone call from McGee; he thinks there’s a gig I need to see,
“The Kids got raw fucking talent Simon…you gotta go see him tonight, you’re on the list ok?”
So that’s not really a recommendation, but more of a request and to be fair, I’m more likely to listen to him than anything my free Spotify account suggests each time the unconvincingly over- enthusiastic, mid-Atlantic drawl interrupts my playlists
“Hey YOU, listen to this overproduced, soulless shit”.
“Nah, you’re alright thanks, didn’t I tell you I’m unlikely to ever enjoy listening to any song that includes ‘ft’ in its title.”
“Fuck off Spotify, you know what I mean, ‘shit song ft some other shit, but well known songwriter ’.
“Oh so you’re not interested in dancefloor fillers 2015 on Spotify then?”
“No, fuck off,”
I’m sure I’m not the only person who has such conversations with Spotify; at least I hope I’m not?
So at the Queen of Hoxton, we have a slight dilemma.
John McCullagh, the ‘raw fucking talent’ ©Alan McGee, is 16 years old, which obviously is a marvellous age to be making your London debut. What’s not so marvellous, is the over-zealous doorman currently refusing to readmit John into the venue he is supposed to be performing the aforementioned gig at.
“He’s not old enough to come in, there’s nothing I can do about it, end of.”
McCullagh senior, himself no stranger to the pleasantries of nightclub ‘security’ people, is pacing up and down as he explains the situation to McGee on the phone.
“Alan, he’s not fucking having it mate, fuck knows what we’re gonna do, we did the soundcheck earlier, no problem then, now they’re saying he can’t come back in, he’s not old enough.”
“Tell the cunt I’m gonna ring the manager and he’s gonna get sacked.”
I should point out, that I wasn’t actually privy to this conversation, but I gather that was more or less the gist of it. (I’m probably missing a few expletives, you can add them yourself.)
I’m lurking about downstairs in the club having been asked to mind the kids guitar etc. while he and his dad went out for a pre-gig mooch and a bite to eat. My phone rings, its big John, still stuck outside with the future of rocknroll and an ever-increasingly annoyed doorman. He’s still towing the party line concerning how old you have to be to come in tonight and be the future of rocknroll. Ok, I’m being generous there, the doorman is just trying to do his job, in the same way my Spotify account is and therefore probably doesn’t give a flying fuck about the future of rocknroll, even if it’s standing in front of him, being 16 and due onstage in less than 60 minutes.
“Simon, what we gonna do mate? John’s in bits here, he wants to do the gig but apparently the manager has told the fella on the door we can’t, silly twat is saying he didn’t know he was only 16.”
It’s obvious the diplomatic approach already tried over the phone by McGee from his house in Wales, is not suffice to persuade the venues manager to change his mind. Being sworn at in a thick Glaswegian accent, may work in certain situations, but not this one. I try a more direct, but less abrasive approach.
“Listen mate, that kid outside is a real talent; you know that ‘cos you booked him to play here right? If there’s any justice in this world, he’ll be playing the Albert Hall before he’s 20 and we BOTH know, at that point you’ll be telling anyone who cares to listen, that YOU booked him here first yeah?”
“Who the fuck are you? and how did you get in my office?”
I ‘borrow’ a line from the film, Get Shorty,
“I’m the guy telling you how it is.”
Then I do my ‘I’m a bit mental’ stare.
“So, here’s the deal, I will now go and fetch the kid, escort him to the dressing room and at 9pm, I’ll walk him to the stage. I will then stand by the side of the stage while he plays, when he’s done, I’ll walk him back to the dressing room and shortly thereafter, walk him out of your club. At no point will he have an alcoholic drink, is that cool?”
I then do my ‘nice’ smile.
It works, it always works, I’ve been perfecting it most of my life, sometimes it gets me in trouble though.
The gig goes ahead; John McCullagh earns his crust and is effortlessly cool in the process, that’s quite a trick to pull off when you’re 16.
The manager of the club stops me on the way out.
“Guest list for the Albert Hall?”
“Yeah, of course.”
“Oh, by the way, who was that mad Scottish fella on the phone earlier?”
“He’s someone who knows the future of rocknroll when he sees it mate, thanks for sorting that out tonight, bye.”
I’m a music fan, tonight reminds me why, so on we go; the future is bright. Often dressed entirely in black and sings in a thick Yorkshire accent about things he has no right to understand yet or maybe he does and that’s what makes him a bit special?
To Be Continued…..