“You give me just a taste so I want more”…

Edwyn Collins – Leeds…

So, a chance spot of a cheap ticket on Ebay and once again, I find myself in the Brudenell Social Club in Leeds. This was my 3rd visit after Ethan Johns and Johnny Marr.

With that in mind, my previous comment about these gigs being unpredictable, was looking a little shaky – after all, I can’t get lost getting here now, I know where is safe to park – hell, one of the fellas behind the bar even nodded at me out of recognition.

Yet this night was still to take an unexpected twist and shame on me for that. You see, when I saw the ticket, I saw the name and thought – ahhh yes.

 “A girl like you” and I also thought “Rip it up” – 2 songs that have been played to death and will be forever associated with Edwyn, but I have never really dug deeper, not only into the music, but the man himself.

So my anticipation of the gig was to hear these songs and look forward to the man rocking out on stage. Yet I kept hearing the odd comment from those around me, about how he had got his voice back and he was looking so well.

I was quite intrigued, but dismissive at the same time, as the same people had told the tale of how they had left the recent Eels gig in Leeds early as it was “terrible” – ha – what did they know about things I thought.

Well, as it turned out, more than me.

The support was some Scottish singer with band. The music was great, but once again, a lead singer that lacked any charisma – mumbling in between songs and saying things like, “Well I better play you this song”.

I find this quite frustrating – I have said before that there has to be some kind of balance – I found it quite easy to write a few verses and listen rather than even be bothered to be engaged by the man – if he couldn’t try, why should I.

The sell out crowd was made up of a diverse bunch, young and old and the atmosphere in the room was becoming strange as Edwyn was due to come on stage -a mixture of anticipation and hesitation.

Yet the overwhelming feeling was warmth and love and I was soon to see why. I wasn’t quite prepared to see Edwyn come on stage and it took me back a bit. You see, a quick Google search would have told me he had been ill.

Well, that’s perhaps an understatement. Edwyn’s wiki page describes the followng:

“In a BBC 6 Music radio interview on 18 February 2005, Collins had said he felt unwell, but ascribed the nausea and vertigo to food poisoning. Two days later, he was admitted to intensive care in London’s Royal Free Hospital after apparently suffering a major cerebral hemorrhage. After suffering a second haemorrhage he had an operation on 25 February 2005, which was followed by a lengthy programme of neurological rehabilitation owing to right-sided weakness and difficulty with speech.[6] The aphasia he suffered allowed him to repeat only four phrases, over and over again: “yes”, “no”, “Grace Maxwell” and “the possibilities are endless”.”

So to see someone comback and do what he does after that, well, I am humbled and lost for words. My admiration at his courage and braveness is beyond belief and he put on a show that really shouldn’t have been expected.

The love in the room grew with every song. He was charming, engaging and showed a sense of humour that was dry, witty and bloody funny at times.

Aided by his band that featured a remarkable lead guitarist – who looked like the departed INXS singer Michael Hutchence, we had an hour and a half of new and old stuff, including the aforementioned songs.

He was even joined on stage at one point by his proud son for a couple of songs – as a father myself, it was a really emotional moment and the bond the pair clearly have shone through brightly.

It may not have been the gig I was expecting, but it was bloody fantastic and life affirming at the same time. My Forty for Forty has given me some highs so far, but in a different way, this one will forever stand out.

Tomorrow, I head to Manchester for Pink – I guess I couldn’t book end the weekend with 2 so very different artists and gigs. So, todays blog is dedicated to Edwyn and the aforementioned “A girl like you”.


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