NME December 7, 1974

Ayers and graces (variable)
…or, how OLLIE HALSALL lost his lunch.


"Y'KNOW JOE Cocker…he used to ... I remember, like this one time we went to this really good restaurant and had a slap-up feast. I mean, it was really good food an’ all.

"So the next morning I see him and I says ‘Hey Joe what did you think of that meal we had last night? Really good weren’t it?’ And he sez...real serious he was too...‘E ‘Ey I don’t know about that. It took me 45 minutes to get it down t’sink’."

I suppose you could call Ollie Halsall something of an after-dinner spokesman. Everyone laughed most heartily at that one anyway. Everyone, that is, except Long John Baldry who found it all "rather pathetic" and started pontificating on some theory that "everything in moderation – food, drink, sex – is far more enjoyable in the long run. Don’t you think?"

"Oh no," retorts Ollie. "I like to really steam in there, y’know. Don’t you, Archie?"

And Archie Leggett nods in blithe agreement, creasing up a face so ravaged it resembles something lived in for some considerable time by at least eight cow-pokes and finally vacated as a bad job.

"Nah...I tell you, like last night," continues Halsall. "I had ink-fish with black bean sauce for dinner and then later at half-past four in the morning, I was asleep when I felt my stomach moving towards the bathroom…"

Unfortunately the location that present company are at this juncture station in – an Indian restaurant in Glasgow’s Sauchiehall Street – doesn’t have a licence so Halsall has to content himself by sporadically throwing around the remains of an extreme hot Vindaloo curry thus making the Oriental waiters even more agitated.

Things are getting a trifle tense here, in fact, and Kevin Ayers has to pull off one of his authoritative stares directed at his current guitarist – a kind of "oh-come-on-now-Ollie-straighten-up-there" quiet grimace, incorporating a fairly long draw on one of his dung-coloured "Gitanes" in order to rectify matters.

A further benign smile and Ayers dissolves back into introspective contemplation of his curry.

It’s not been a good night, you see. "Grim" was the word one of the band used.

Anyway Ayers appears particularly vehemently affected by the fact that the equipment didn’t function, that the band couldn’t hear each other, that he’d asked for "moody" lighting and they’d played everyone onstage at the Apollo (formerly known as Green’s Playhouse) into a close approximation of total darkness.

The Ayers set had been oddly quite appealing in its shambling lack of polish.

The band had played a mixture of Ayers’ lesser-known artifacts – "Decadence" and "Interview" from "Bananamour", a great reggae-fied "Top that Train" from "Joy of a Toy", a couple of new numbers, one untitled piece which opined whimsically upon the lack of a "volunteer for the common good", and another called "Sweet Deceiver" rhymed rain" with "pain" to questionable effect.

Ayers even did a quick tongue-in-cheek varip on "Falling in Love Again" wriggling his buttocks, hands in pockets like a gangling schoolboy followed by Herr Halsall, hair slicked back lunging through "Don’t be Cruel" like a herd of electrified bison on the rampage.

Still that was all three hours ago and now there’s just Long John Baldry philosophizing and Messrs. Halsall and Legget rough-housing.

It’s the night of the Spain-Scotland match, the buses are on strike, taxis are scarce and the band have just been told they’ve got a new gig to do in Norwich.

"Norwich", screams Ollie and starts hurling curry by way of the promoter Peter Brown.

"I’m warning you," retorts Brown. "Ollie…

Another squarely stern look is called for from Ayers.

After all, that curry could easily stain that ice-blue Thai-silk stage suit that he had especially cleaned for the gig tonight. Quel dommage, quel ennui…eh, mon brave?


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