"It was 25 years ago to the day..." - Memories of Milton Keynes 2nd October 1982 by Alan Hewitt. Photos by Robert Ellis and Alan Perry. Tour itinery (TWR archive)
Dark and grey... a Tuesday morning. This Tuesday morning in fact and I was watching the rain through the window panes. I glanced at the calendar on the wall and I realised...2nd October!! Suddenly I was 25 years younger, had a full head of hair and it was all the same colour! My memories of 1982 are still vivid. My first trip abroad to see the band in Hamburg with dear old MGP (remember them?). So many memories.
Having seen the band no less than four times in the weeks leading up to this gig, the anticipation was none the lesser for that. The trip to Milton Keynes almost didn't happen because my mother was taken into hospital a few days before. However, SHE insisted that I go, knowing how much the band meant to me and that is merely one other thing I shall be grateful to her for, God rest her!
|The coach trip down to 'sunny' Milton Keynes began at some unGodly hour and by the time we arrived, the rain had already turned the open air concert 'bowl' into a morass reminiscent of some part of the trench system on the Western front! Nothing daunted, we were eventually admitted and found ourselves a spot as near to the stage as possible. Then we waited...and waited for what seemed like an eternity before the first of today's acts took the stage. poor old Talk Talk, what a rouhg trot they got from the crowd. I really felt sorry for them although, to be honest after having stood for almost six hours in the mud and rain, even the patience of the most hardy of sould had been tested beyond endurance. None of the other supporting acts received as rough a time as they did but, sad to say, I have no real recollection of the performances by John Martyn and The Blues Band, although I do have one vivid memory of John Martyn's set. Nothing to do with the music, more to do with the activities of a young lady in front of me who managed to dance to John's set waring white stiletto heel shoes! How she did it when I could barely move my feet in the mud is still beyond me!|
Anyway, eventually the time we had waited for finally arrived and the festivities were heralded by the pompous introduction of one Jonathan King who deservedly received the same treatment as poor old Talk Talk before him. The band took the stage to the drumbeat of Back In NYC and four pall bearers arrived centre stage carrying a white coffin out of which emerged Peter, clad as Rael and the crowd simply went wild.
From that moment on, mud, rain and cold were forgotten as for the next magical two and a half hours, the sixty thousand or so fans who were witnessing the event all thought would NEVER happen, were taken on a trip down memory lane. Yes, there were missed cues and fluffed lyrics - just like old times. No one really cared though, as everyone bathed in the heady mix of emotion and nostalgia. Everyone, including the band who were enjoying themselves as much as the rest of us.
Even the 'new' songs; Solsbury Hill and Turn It On Again went down a storm and it was a lovely sight to see Phil, the perfectionist drummer give Peter, the frustrated one, a bg hug as they swapped places for the vocal duties in the latter.
Even the costumes made a re-appearance. The 'old man' in Musical Box and the 'flower' during Supper's Ready. Rael too, was much in evidence throughout the proceedings, but no Slipperman - maybe just as well really! By the end of the fading chords of Supper's Ready everyone would certainly have gone home happy, but the band still had one extra surprise to pull.
Was I the only one who nearly went into orbit when Steve Hackett's presence was announced on stage? On he came, guitar in hand, cheshire cat-like grin on his face to join in the party with I Know What I Like before the show rounded off with a ramshackle version of The Knife.
Then it was over. Two hours and twelve years of history gone in the blinking of an eye!
Peter had been bailed out, the band had indulged their and OUR nostalgia for one glorious night and no-one who was there will ever forget it - I certainly won't!
Above photos copyright Robert Ellis
Above photos copyright Alan Perry