Coming out of Tottenham Court Road Station, my pulse raced as I did a double-take thinking I had Just seen a huge We-Evil Rock You sign. A second look told me that the Dominion Theatre was putting on a new musical called We Will Rock You, written by Queen and Ben Elton.
I was beginning to think it would be another one of those nights when, on entering the world-famous 100 Club for the first time, I performed an impromptu version of Headbutts by not seeing a shutter pulled down across the entrance. The club's manager came rushing up the stairs to see what the crash was, and rubbing my head gingerly, I told him I was OK. In fact, as I write this on the morning after, I still have a grazed lump on my head.
But, as they say, the show must go on.
As John and I settled down to a couple of beers at the bar, Ronnie And The Rex opened up the show with a few very solid blues numbers, Dr. Feelgood style but beefed up with keyboards and a superb brass section. Some fun ensued when the band played requests but in the style requested by someone else. There were some bizarre combinations that included, amongst others, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, and Freddie & The Dreamers.
Next up was a stand-up comedian, Noel James. His routine kept veering off at unexpected tangents, and often left the audience behind until the 'penny dropped'. Overall, a very funny act.
Phil Jupitus did a short set of a few songs, accompnying himself on a guitar, including an amusing song about the A13 to Southend and Shoeburyness in the style of Route 66. I was later told that this song was written by Billy Bragg. Apart from that, he looked a bit uncomfortable, but his inter-song patter got a few laughs.
During one of the intervals, a few 'Hit Squad' t-shirts were in evidence, and I was able to say "Hi." to Steve, Ruth, Plucker, and a couple of others.
Before I get on to John's turn, perhaps I should describe the audience. There were maybe a dozen or so who had heard of John Otway. The rest seemed to be west-enders out clubbing, business people just out of the office, some comedy club type regulars, and loads of out-of-town tourists who 'just had to' visit this world-famous venue. Taken in this context, the next 20 minutes, even taking into account my obvious bias, were truly amazing.
'I Am A Lion' was introduced as a means of overcoming nervousness, and so it proved as you could see people looking at each other and saying "What the ... ?". But the applause at the end was generous and encouraging. Of course, 'The HIT!' came next, which had about a third of the crowd joining in before the end. A spoken version of 'Bunsen Burner' drew a few groans at the puns. The clincher was 'Blockbuster', complete with double guitar, during whch a guy next to me exploded "I've never seen anything like that in all my life!".
The 'Madonna's coat-hanger' routine, complete with the 'MJ' joke, earned some huge laughs as we were treated to the by now familiar 'Two Little Boys'. By this time, everybody was spellbound as John gave us a superb rendition of Poetry and Jazz. Even the chatter at the bar stopped, whilst I could feel a little tear welling up in the corner of my eye. The end was met by a huge roar of approval, and John, grinning from ear to ear, was clearly well chuffed as he made his way back to the dressing room before returning to the bar.
To finish the evening, the tables were cleared away and Ronnie And The Rex got into their final session. As I left to catch my train, Phil Jupitus was 'strutting his stuff' in the middle of the dance-floor, and John was still at the bar.
Additional Comments by Plucker: Thanks to Eddie for the 100 Club review, nice to meet you and Ruth there. I was sitting on the side of the stage and every time Otway landed a somersault he landed badly and I could see him wincing as he got up. It was a good gig. Phil Jupitus played Oasis' "She's Electric", but I can't remember what the second song he did was, his Route 66 parody was excellent, though. He joined Ronnie and the Rex later on to perform a few numbers (I'm guessing Eddie had left by then) including (bizarrely) a nice heavy version of "Hit me baby one more time"! Later, Kevin Eldon (from Big Train) sang guest vocals on "It's Not Unusual", he has a pretty good voice. Noel James (the Welsh comedian) was strange and very funny, but pushed some boundaries of taste a couple of times, but generally delivered a mixture of surreal and groan-inducing schoolboy humour. They were still gong strong when we left at about midnight.