George Matlock reports from the scene
Elton John band-member John Jorgenson strummed his guitar, licked it tenderly and brought out some of London’s luminaries of music, when he performed at The Borderline club in central London on November 20, 2000.
The fan among the 100-strong crowd may have felt it was a truly private show.
Before the show, there were customary antics outside the doors which remained firmly shut until gone 8pm. JJ stepped outside to conduct an interview on a mobile phone. We wondered what sort of interview it was, as we watched JJ walk over to a garbage skip and rummage in the pile. Several black polythene bags later, JJ walked back with a cream-coloured flex cable from an old electrical kettle, and remarked: “That will come in handy. Just needs a clean.”
The fans who included David Wright, John Michie, Robert Cargill, Andy Thorpe and others, thought the interview was conducted with one Benjamin Pell, John Reid‘s bin raker!
JJ was pleased to see the fans, as was his drummer for the night, former Elton band member Charlie Morgan, who came over from the US to support JJ’s first ever UK tour.
After a great warm-up act from Credence Clearwater Revived with front man Peter, JJ came on. He was also joined on stage by Badfinger’s Jeff Ross on keyboards and guitar, and a Glaswegian bass guitarist, Alan Thompson.
JJ performed songs from his new album Emotional Savant, such as Jig in ‘D’, which JJ insisted he does play in ‘D’, as well as tracks from The Beatles, in his 1 hour-50-minute show.
JJ remarked after several songs, that he usually has an assistant that passes him new guitars on stage. “But this isn’t an Elton John concert and so we don’t have the budget. And that doesn’t include any missing millions!”
As well as humour, there were solemn, tender moments.
JJ performed a song in memory of a guitarist much missed by his peers, who committed suicide six years ago. JJ also referred to a music festival in France which he’s visited four times, on an idyllic island on the River Seine at a town called Samois. He was so inspired by the friendly locals, he wrote a song about them, a Waltz, played in the traditional rhythm by Charlie. Made a change from rock music eh Charlie? The song was called Valse de Samois.
Californian JJ showed there was room for more than one Gore supporter in Elton’s band, and he said: “It’s embarrassing to be an American right now. We appear to be moving towards (George) Bush becoming the next President. Well, Bush has overseen more executions in Texas than the whole of America. It’s sickening. Me and my wife wrote a song about that, it’s called Eye for an Eye.”
Not that anyone was showing any signs of wanting to call it a night, but JJ then played a The Beatles track called It Won’t Be Long.
Davey Johnstone’s musical son, Tam, was on hand in the audience to swap places with Charlie as drummer for the next song, The Beatles’ She Said, She Said. Tam mentioned his new album is out in 2001. Then another Revolver album song Love You To with Charlie back, and dedicated to Beatle George Harrison, whose recent assailant was tried in London this month.
Among guest appearances in the audience were producer Gus Dudgeon and Elton duet singer, the wonderfully at-ease Kiki Dee, mingling with the crowd and dancing to JJ’s performance.
Several more The Beatles songs followed, much to Liverpudlian Rob Cargill’s delight, as JJ, who spoke of the fun of playing Liverpool’s Cavern Club last week on tour, sounded as though he’d never left the Cavern.
Next stop is a (don’t laugh this is serious) Butlins Holiday camp in Bognor Regis on the south English coast Nov. 24, 2000. Shame the weather’s not better this time of year! JJ also referred to the first glimmers of sunshine today he’d detected in England on this tour. “It was a few streaks of red, Speilberg-style, as we headed on the highway!”
Among all the stars there that night, including Papa George, I also had the chance of speaking briefly with Charlie Morgan. He thanked the fans for their continued support as he continues to make his future in the US.
But we say thanks to JJ, Charlie, and others, for making it one amazing night!
If you get chance to catch JJ’s shows, make the effort to attend. You won’t get many private shows like this to get close, enjoy great music played excellently, chat with the band afterwards, and gather those autographs.