The problem with people you respect or even treat as heroes is that there is always the chance they will let you down (as they of course are human and therefore have the same weaknesses as all of us). I do not just mean complete meltdown of someone you might have loved as a child turning out to be some kind of monster, although that can be bad enough. It can be a lot less dramatic than that and these days of so much coverage of pretty much everything the chance of someone being reported saying or doing something you disagree with is greater perhaps than in the past where people were able to control the image a lot better.
Sometimes you know the flaws anyway and put up with it as you might put up with a relative or friend – you ignore the views that you do not agree with because what else that person represents is important enough to make that worth doing. So you bite your lip and say nothing, or if the relationship is of the right kind enter regularly into full on arguments that both sides know that they are not going to resolve anything but allow the air to be cleared (for the moment) and then you can get back to all the things you do agree on.
One of the most difficult things can be when someone who previously you could rely on lets you down when you most want them to be there for you. For many years I had loyally followed former Ultravox lead singer Midge Ure around the concert circuit and was probably one of the few individuals that actually bought his solo albums. Why? Well because I was enjoying the brand of well written folk/rock that he was pushing out and the gigs were an entertaining mix of performance and genial good humour (admittedly with some swipes at the charts – a reference to 2Unlimited regarding ‘No limit’ as ‘No Lyrics’ sticks in my mind).
So I was fairly sure I was on safe ground taking the Lovely Wife to Shepherds Bush for a greatest hits gig.
It was terrible.
The sound was off, the place half full and no support band (just videos), so the atmosphere was pretty much zero. Worse, Mr. Ure had clearly come with his grumpy pants on that day and his mood deteriorated through the gig. They sorted the sound problems out, but considering they were recording for an anniversary release and therefore there was a bit more at stake than in a normal gig this must have added to the pressure.
I was gutted, and I filed my CDs away sadly, as no matter how much I protested how much this was out of character (as opposed to say, a band like Midnight Oil, who are the only act I have ever seen you deliberately seemed to want to antagonise their fans) there is nothing better to cement something than to actually experience it.
There is a happy ending. We are a big fan of The Stables at Milton Keynes as a venue, and Midge Ure was playing there as part of his ‘Breathe Again’ tour (an album I really liked at the time) and with a little coaxing the Lovely Wife agreed to give it a go. Maybe it was the venue, maybe the superb support band (who also provide the backing music during the headline set, the excellent India Electric Company, do look them up) but suddenly it was all smiles and jokes again, and some great live music. We agreed in the car back that the rehabilitation is complete.
Now all I have to do is get the Lovely Wife to come along to another Marillion concert – again not a happy experience last time, although nothing to do with the band. That’s another story.
Erratum: As rightly pointed out by a good friend of mine with a better sense of geography then I the Maharajah’s Well is not, in fact, in Berkshire as indicated but in South Oxfordshire. Hopefully no one is stuck wandering around Newbury trying to find it.