At one time the “travel diaries” were fashionable, those that served to record every precious moment of an experience that was known to be extraordinary and unrepeatable. Travelling was not a habitual fact, it rarely happened, you did not have so many resources and opportunities. Going to a concert in the 60s, 70s, 80s, was an epic event, a heroic feat, an expedition towards a victory. The photographs, the recordings, the video tapes, were priceless trophies. Of the trips I made as a boy, to winning a front row seat under the stage of my most beloved artists, I remember every detail: the delay of a train; a lost coincidence; the pub where they happened to have stopped to eat; the music radiated by the large amplifiers before the start of the concert; the waiting. These events were more unique than rare, then talked about for months and years, as in a perpetual commemoration.
With the increasing spread of events, with the succession of world tours of thousands of artists, then with the addiction, the people of music have become more balanced, perhaps colder, detached. The ability to see and review that event everywhere, the total availability of images and finds, the ease of listening, has made many of our ancient impulses devoid of any tension and intensity. We have grown up, we are much more stocked than we used to be, there is no longer any need to spend a sleepless night, worried of not being able to sneak a camera into the concert venue, nor does it happen more than having to remain suspended, in waiting for the shopkeeper to develop and print our (unique) 24 or 36-photograph film, with the worry that those shots are not as we hope.
Lazy and indifferent, full of everything, we go to see shows that no longer excite us, that we look with different eyes, aware that that event is certainly not unique and unrepeatable, indeed, it is one of many. But when you know that an event is really unique, and that what’s going to happen won’t happen again, all of a sudden you feel that the emotion comes back, it’s going to flare up, it’s going to assault you. You come back guys, the emotional makes us vibrate, it shakes us.
It is worth writing, then, as it used to be. Paper and pen, camera ready as a loaded weapon of war. Something beautiful is about to happen and I’m here, so many times in the past I hadn’t been able to be there, but this time I’m here. I left my wife, sons, job, I forgot the usual economic worries, I even sent to the devil the health problems that sometimes conditioned me and caused me not to be there, not to do, not to go, to give up.
This time I will not give up: I will go to see The SOUND, with Mike Dudley on drums, with Adrian Janes and Bob Lawrence, the original OUTSIDERS that I have never seen and known. I will meet all their friends, musicians, professionals and amateurs, their wives, girlfriends, and this time the life will be all to me, for everything else there is time, the rest of the world stays where it is, I will find it exactly as I left it, and I will resume living the my routine. But not today. Today I go to take, full hands, the world-all-mine, the one that belongs only to me, my secret world that accompanies me in the daily routine between banks, offices, supermarkets, taxes to pay, love to chase and cultivate, pains and projects to realize. That inner world that supports me, in the daily life of the real (but which is also “real”, it’s not fantasy, it’s true passion), well, that inner world, now I go to touch it with my hand. I want to spend two -three hours looking, with enchanted eyes, at the musicians who will play for me the music that I loved the most and that every day, invariably, peeps into the silence of my thoughts, warms me up.
The Meeting of April 26, 2019, a tribute in honor of Adrian Borland, falls on the 20th anniversary of his death. Audrey Eade and her husband Robert Eade, friends of Adrian and the band since the early 1980s, organized it in London. Also in 2018 there was a meeting-tribute, also at the Cavern, but from Italy no one was able to take part. This time, however, we move well in advance. We make air tickets three months in advance, we book a hotel near the Cavern, we try to make ends meet all our commitments. And on the evening of April 24th, in Bologna, we meet: Marina Derosas from Turin, Patrizia Prisciandaro from Florence, I from Modena, everybody happy and full of emotion, we go to dinner together, we take taxi, drink wine and wait for the departure by plane the next day to the first hour. Manuela Nessi, from Turin, will then join us, who leaves for London from another airport.
On 25 April, at the first hour, we leave Marconi Airport and after two serene hours of travel, in a beautiful clear and clear light, we land at Heathrow, the most convenient stopover in south London to reach our destinations, Wimbledon and Raynes Park, in the same area. I know the places well: Wimbledon is the neighborhood where Adrian lived with his family. After the death of Robert Borland, Adrian’s father, the house was renovated and put up for sale by the scientific research institute which acquired the property. The place for us represents something, while Raynes Park, a suburb located in the same area, a few bus stops from Wimbledon is a suburb we do not know and that we only know to be the area where are located the Cavern and our hotel. We’ll get a little bit into the gigantic Heathrow Airport by taking measurements of our travels, including subways, trains, buses, Oyster Cards and various maps, then we get robbed by an inconvenient money changer, we wander between shops and cafes, finally we head to Wimbledon.
At Wimbledon tube station we could directly change track and get on a train that would take us in a few minutes to Raynes Park, the ladies would leave their luggage in the hotel and could then prepare for the first tour around London, but I insist in advising a stop, “let’s look outside the station, in the forecourt, come on, come on!”, “We’re at Wimbledon, let’s take a look, even just to breathe the city air, the colors, until now we’ve been closed in subways, airport tunnels and trains”, “come on, let’s stop for a moment, let’s take a coffee in the center of Wimbledon” …. Patrizia and Marina give in to my insistence and agree to sacrifice another bit by dragging their luggage with them, so we leave the metro station, we look around, it’s a beautiful day.
We are with our eyes to the sky impaled, looking at the signs of shops, roofs, cars and windows, when suddenly I hear someone behind me who guides my life and whispers in English something incomprehensible in my ear …. I jump in the air scared but as soon as I turn i see that my bomber is Mike Dudley, he’s there just then, the moment we decided to put his nose out of the station, he made a joke of me, we laugh and greet each other between kisses and hugs while we see we see a very tall and burly boy arriving with a quick step, a stride, and the finger pointing at me approaches and tells me: “You are Giuseppe Basile!”. It’s Martijn Prins, he will play at the Cavern in the various sets that the friends musicians are preparing. We talk and joke: waiting for Kevin Hewick, they have a car parked in a parking ban on the forecourt, “we wait for it because we have to go and try in a studio here in the area”, but Kevin tells them to be a little late, we hold back and we continue to converse for a while, so we separate, Mike and Martijn go to do their rehearsals, we head to Raynes Park to get to the hotel, not before a stop in a beautiful pub, classic, perfect English style, in the center of Wimbledon.
London is an incredible place for those who have lived feeding on English music culture. We wander around Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus and Regent Street all day, we meet Manuela Nessi who has just arrived downtown, we go to another pub to dine together, but in the meantime the music runs through our minds, we are reminded of each what, from the bright signs, from the names of the squares (“Jeoffrey Goes To Leicester Square”, the song by Jethro Tull), “Man on the platform …” sings Marina (thinking of Sound’s “Red Paint”, of course) whenever she sees the signposts, Platform five, Platform six, in the metro stations.
The next day is the meeting. It starts at 7 pm, for us there is no time for presentations because as soon as we enter the pub we see that Audrey Eade is already on stage: along with her (lead vocals), there is the trusty Elliot Wheeler (guitar), Robert Eade on bass and Adrian Janes on drums. They perform a song composed by them with the line-up they have called Moon Under Water, the song is called “Lifetime” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v-Ct0YTAo4h1g). Elliot tells me that this band was formed about a couple of years ago, “Audrey, Robert, Adrian Janes and I. We started playing around the time the first tribute meeting was organized in honor of Adrian, to his 60th birthday. I write music, Jan writes the lyrics, Audrey is the arranger. We’ve recorded several songs, but unofficially so far.”
Robert Eade comes off stage and gives the bass to Bob Lawrence: I see for the first time in my life their faces, Adrian Janes (Jan) on drums and Bob on bass, or the Outsiders, the absolute initiators of Sound history. The history of music credits this band with the creation of the first self-produced album in the history of punk, it is a fact now acclaimed. Their setlist is all about the songs from their two albums: “Vital Hours”, “Break Free”, “Touch-Go”, “Freeway”, “Start Over”, “Calling On Youth”, the latter really resonates as an ode to youth, with the audience of old friends singing the punk chorus : we are still here, happy looks, smiles. It’s a good time. The set closes with an acoustic and intimate version of “Winning” sung by Audrey visibly excited. She sang with Adrian in her first outstanding solo work, “Alexandria”, in 1989, and remained close to her. This is a special evening for her. And for this line-up, Moon Under Water, it’s another piece of their journey: “We’ll be back in the recording studio in a few months” says Elliot, talking about the project, “Jan and Bob want to continue.”
It’s time for close friend Patrick Rowles, who now takes the stage accompanied by Rob Ball. Together they perform an acoustic set, only two guitars and vocals, a few tracks but representing something for Patrick: “The Way You Played Guitar”, “Cinematic”, “Last Train Out Of Shatterville” and finally “When A Star Dies” (the ghost-track contained at the end of the last Adrian’s record, “Harmony & Destruction”, made thanks to Patrick’s decisive contribution, his tenacity).
In the break between Patrick and Rob’s set and the long-awaited next set, there is also time for a debut: our Patrizia Prisciandaro takes the stage, she composed a song for Adrian, lyrics and music, it’s just a tribute, performed surprise (not even us, her fellow travelers, were aware of this intention) full of values and thoughts and that for her represents the long-awaited beginning
Then we get to the set with Simon Breed (vocals and guitar), Mike Dudley on drums and Martijn Prins on bass. Simon immediately performs “Winter”, alone, and then gives us a beautiful version of “I Can’t Escape Myself”, with a very intense interpretation and punk sounds. It continues with “Total Recall”, with the next “Silent Air” sung together with the audience without any instruments, only voices united (and moved), and finally with “New Dark Age” that closes the set in a beautiful musical tension. Mike’s drums, needless to point out, is a hammer, his rhythm is foresighted, relentless, takes your breath away and you see it even more in the last set, when it’s up to Kevin Hewick to lead the last trio (Hewick / Dudley / Prins) in the final ride of songs.
It’s the largest setlist, and perhaps the most vibrant. It begins with “Plenty”, a 1983 epic song released on an EP that is now very rare, unobtainable, under the name “Kevin Hewick And The Sound”. This EP, entitled “The Cover Keeps Reality Unreal”, difficult to find in Italy even at the time of its release, attracted the attention of many Italian fans of the band, intrigued by the collaboration with an external and autonomous musician compared to the Adrian’s band.
“I was an avid reader of fanzines and new wave magazines” – writes on April 28, 2019 on Facebook Giampaolo Salsi, another great Italian fan who came from Milan to the Cavern with his fourteen-year-old son – “I still remember the sense of disbelief, frustration and anger when I read a derogatory review of “Heads and Hearts”, claiming that Sound were just drowning in their own vortex (sarcastic …), trapped in a temporal distortion along with characters like the Comsat Angels and other dinosaurs of the first New wave scene … but one day I focused on a review of an EP by “a minimalist composer [!]”, who had collaborated with Sound to publish his latest work. The EP was called “This Cover Keeps Reality Unreal”, and I started looking for it in all the record stores. I managed to get a copy from HMV, during one of my stays in London, and ran home to put it on the turntable. The first track, “Plenty”, was an epiphany (actually minimalist, but, hey, often the least is more!) and it’s still one of my absolute favorites. Last Friday, at the Cavern in Raynes Park, I had the privilege of listening to it live, played by the same “minimalist composer” accompanied by Mike Dudley and Martijn Prins. Thank you Kevin Hewick, this was wonderful and will stay with me forever.”
“Plenty” is an elegant opening, of great style, worthy of this evening and representative of an important story, as if to say proudly: “these were, these are”, Kevin performs “Plenty” very well, and the concert goes up. It goes on with songs you don’t expect, “Desire”, “Where The Love Is”, even “Whirlpool”, difficult song, as well as “Glass And Smoke”, immortal music. The fans are by now captivated by these famous sounds that are part of their essence, it’s time to let the collective joy, the pure emotion explode. Kevin, Mike and Martijn accelerate, the rhythm goes up, “Skeletons” keeps us from sitting, it’s an intense, hot version. Then we get to “Party Of The Mind” and immediately after “Sense Of Purpose”.
The Italians are moved, we are at the top, we are at the summit. Mike sounds great, the drum power is exciting, never a moment of failure, never a hesitation: they are tracks that spread an epic pathos in the venue. When you listen to them you realize that there is something definitive about this music and that at these levels you don’t get there anymore. What has been circulating for years in radio, television, everywhere, is a concentration of soulless superficiality, without genuine intensity. Kevin Hewick slows down, now offering “I Give You Pain”, a nocturnal track, as dark as Adrian’s troubled soul in that difficult 1987, the year of “Thunder Up” and the dissolution of the band. Concentration is needed to express this unique sore intensity. But we also need to close in beauty, triumphantly, winningly: we are here to share the power of our heart, and therefore “Heartland” can only be the closing of a perfect night, with Mike’s drums in full swing, irresistible: “Keep it simple and hit “It’s strong,” he told me a long time ago, at another of our previous meetings.
Audrey’s Setlist (Watch The Photogallery)
LIFETIME (with Robert Eade on bass)
CALLING ON YOUTH
Patrick’s Setlist (Watch The Photogallery)
THE WAY YOU PLAYED GUITAR
LAST TRAIN OUT OF SHATTERVILLE
WHEN A STAR DIES
Simon’s Setlist (Watch The Photogallery)
I CAN’T ESCAPE MYSELF
NEW DARK AGE
Kevin’s Setlist (Watch The Photogallery)
WHERE THE LOVE IS
GLASS AND SMOKE
PARTY OF THE MY MIND
SENSE OF PURPOSE
I GIVE YOU PAIN