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.
Ange Chan ©2016