A Kind of Magic  Marc Almond | Magic Circle London | 27 October 2016

Last night I was lucky enough to have attended a special Marc Almond event at the exclusive Magic Circle club in London. It was to celebrate the release of his new 10-disc box set Trials of Eyeliner. Tickets were limited and you had to apply to a lucky draw to be able to buy one. Only a limited amount of people would be allowed in the 130 capacity venue. Sadly I was unlucky on the first pass, however my lovely friend Kathryn was lucky and had very kindly named me as her +1. What a star!  

I’d only just seen Marc perform a few nights previously at the Playhouse Theatre and was still on a high from that as I made my way into London for the second time that week. I’d been to the Magic Circle some fifteen years previously, at a corporate event when I worked at Euston Tower and I remembered it as being a wonderfully interesting place.

I met Kathryn at Euston and we made our short walk to the venue. Some fans were already outside and the time soon passed as we chatted and laughed. Finally the doors opened and we entered the building, greeted by Kate Rhodes, who manages Marc’s website and a magician herself, and were presented with a special gift of a black eyeliner in an embossed velveteen pouch. 

We grabbed some drinks and were allowed to wander throughout the building at the museum which displayed interesting artefacts from famous magicians of the past including David Devant (the first Magic Club president), David Nixon, Ali Bongo, Paul Daniels and Sooty! After browsing/waiting for quite some time we were finally allowed to take our seats for the big event. 

Simon Price was interviewing Marc and he took his place on stage with Kate who did the introductions. She was asked to select a magic trick to perform and chose a black cloth which she held up high. When the cloth was dropped there was Marc, appearing as if by magic and to a rapturous applause. 

The interview was being streamed online and therefore photo opportunities were sadly banned, however as Simon led the interview Marc was as engaging as ever and he had the audience gripped as Marc spoke candidly about key moments in his career and what it was like appearing in Top of the Pops for the first time, the impact that had and subsequently his tumultuous relationship with the British media. Marc’s account of Nico recording Your Kisses Burn on The Stars We Are album was particularly hilarious and had us all in stitches. 

After the lengthy interview we were treated to a small acoustic set by Marc, accompanied by Neal X on guitar. They performed Fun City (the first song Marc ever wrote), Untitled (from the Marc and the Mambas album of the same name), My Love (from Open All Night), Champagne (from Tenement Symphony), Friendship (from Heart on Snow) and Demon Lover (from Marc’s latest solo album, The Velvet Trail) . What a fabulous treat! All too soon it was over but what a stunning evening. As we went outside, we milled around as friends left to catch trains home. Soon after the doors opened and Marc came out. He very graciously signed autographs and posed for photos, chatting to the small assembly of devoted fans. Neal X was also there and we chatted about the forthcoming event I’m going to at Butlins in December, which should be fun. 

Eventually everyone left and I made my way home on a somewhat torturous journey (people messing about on the line further along we’re causing delays) but filled with memories of a particularly momentous landmark evening. 

Thank you to Marc and everyone involved in making the event happen and particularly to Kathryn for taking me as her guest. 
Ange Chan ©2016


You’ll Always See Me on a Sunday Marc Almond | 23 October 2016 | Playhouse Theatre London 

On Sunday 23 October, my all time favourite artist, Marc Almond was staging an extravaganza at London’s Playhouse Theatre where he was to perform songs of Jacques Brel and also more excitingly, the 1987 album Mother Fist (and her Five Daughters) for the second time.

The first time he performed this album in its entirety was in December 2013 at the Union Chapel Islington. No-one attending that concert was aware that Mother Fist was going to be performed that night. It was a complete surprise, but a very welcome one and one which was so greatly received, so much so, that Marc stated that he planned to perform this album again at some point in the future. It was originally planned for the beautiful Wilton Music Hall, of which Marc is a Patron, however these plans had to be shelved as the small stage at Wiltons could not accommodate the number of musicians required to perform the album to his satisfaction.

Anticipation was building as the gig drew nearer. Fans who had travelled far and wide (as far away as Toronto) arranged to meet at a nearby pub. It was lovely to see so many friends and catch up before the show. We moved from the pub to the venue, just a minute away and met up with some more friends. Everyone was so excited for what they were about to witness.

The show was scheduled to start at 7pm prompt and it opened with the Jacques Brel classic, I’m Coming (J’Arrive) which Marc originally recorded on his tribute to Brel album entitled Jacques. A number of Brel favourites were duly performed including a different interpretation of If You Go Away entitled Please Don’t Leave Me Now and the seldom heard track, The Desperate Ones. Personal favourites such as The Devil Okay and Carousel punctuated other Brel standards such as The Bulls, Amsterdam (in Marc’s words “Bowie’s version”) and of course one of his better known hits, Jacky. All too soon the interval was upon us. Tensions were tangibly rising at the momentous spectacle that was to come.

Part Two, Marc had stated, was to be Mother Fist performed without too much talking in between. The musicians duly jumped from track to track, each song is an old friend to me, reminding me of friends and lovers and moments long past. The album is my favourite. Not only my favourite Marc album but probably my favourite album of all time, so perhaps you can understand why this gig was so very special to me, and a rare treat. Emotions were raging all other the place, within and seemingly on stage too as everyone was putting their heart and soul into delivering both the lyrics and music to the best of their ability. The emotion got too much for Marc in the end who broke down during the final album track, The River. The magnitude of the occasion and stirred up memories of the lyrics “I don’t know which way to flow” were clearly too poignant to bear as the tears flowed as rapidly as a river. I’m pretty sure every member of the devoted audience just wanted to hold Marc, and wipe his tears away at that moment. I know I did. A standing ovation inevitably ensued. We thought it was all over, however the band played on…

Marc slowed things down with a heartfelt performance by his favourite artist, Aznavour’s What Makes a Man a Man. Tracks from Vermin in Ermine were then performed including You Have and finalising the show of shows with the ultimate ode to his fans, Gutterhearts. And then it really was all sadly over, my heart filled with a gamut of emotion, and my soul duly brimming.

Photo by Peter Parkinson 

Ange Chan ©2016