For those of you who are unaware, Ronnie Scott’s is a famous Jazz club with an unusual layout. The stage is only about 2 or so feet high, with tables on the sides of the stage and all over the floor area. These are proper tables with their own little atmospheric lights in soft yellow and red alternately. It all adds to the ambience. Above the floor level there are then more tables, followed by the people who are standing, of which I was one! By now you’ll be asking – Why the tables? Well, it’s a simple answer. The club also serves as a restaurant, food being served before the show (and during the first half of it – these being from orders taken before the show) and drinks throughout the night. All this is done by a team of smartly dressed and polite waiters who work until the club’s closing time of 2am. This particular Ronnie Scott’s was in Birmingham (as there is more than one in the UK) and as you may now be able to imagine, was a fairly unique place to view a Paul Carrack concert. Now you’ve taken in the surroundings, on with the show.
After being announced in a fashion not dissimilar to a ringmaster announcing the main attraction at a boxing match, Paul came on stage alone with his acoustic guitar and immediately received a rapturous applause. He proceeded to announce that tonight’s performance would be in two parts, the first to be solely ballads and the latter part to consist of “louder music.”
Paul then opened up alone with his B side cover version (from the How Long? Single from Blue Views) of Van Morrisson’s Into The Mystic. This was totally unexpected, but thinking about it makes total sense, cos he can easily perform it alone. Paul then followed this song up with another unexpected treat, an acoustic version of a song he performed with Squeeze (as he announced “This is a song I recorded with the lads who are playing across the road in a few days”) – this was Loving You Tonight. This was performed excellently by Paul, who was still alone on stage, before Paul had even performed the track a woman in the audience let out an excited squeal once she learned what track he was about to do. And as occurred all night long, rapturous applause followed the completion of the track. The whole audience seemed to be really into the music and put their hearts into their clapping and whooping and whistling. During all this the rest of Paul’s band filed onto stage.
The real show was just about to begin. With all the instruments ready to go, Paul performed amongst others Perfect Love, Eyes of Blue, Love Will Keep Us Alive and the excellent Another Cup of Coffee during the first half of his performance which lasted about 45 minutes. There then followed an hour break during which people were eating and drinking and chatting. Although I think most people were just waiting for the second half of the show, making their £3 pint of Carlsberg last them all the way through! Anyway, the announcer returned to the stage and introduced Paul in the same manner again for the second half of the show to begin; this was to last 1h15m.
As Paul promised, there was more life, and volume, to this half of the show. Numbers performed included excellent renditions of Some Kinda Love, Satisfied, Beautiful World and The Way I’m Feeling Tonight from his solo catalogue, and Silent Running, Over My Shoulder and The Living Years from his Mike and The Mechanics catalogue, plus also of course the ever popular Tempted. All of these songs received rapturous applause, even Paul’s burp which he immediately put down to having eaten fried onions went down well with the audience!!!
So, with the show almost at a close, Paul announced his final number as How Long?, as is usual with Paul’s solo sets. It was extended as previously, and the band introduced to the crowd, each of them doing their little turn during the announcement. The second keyboardist for the night and the main backing vocalist was also called Paul. For his turn he came to the front of the stage and sang, whilst Paul (Carrack that is) got the audience to applaud him, not that any encouragement was needed, he has an excellent voice which is not too dissimilar to Paul Carrack’s own. I managed to get a few words with the other Paul afterwards and he was a very genuine and nice bloke, just like Paul Carrack. Oh yes, and he also likes Discworld books (you know Terry Pratchett), this provided a talking point between us as it is one of my other “involvements”.
So the band departed the stage and even though looking on you wouldn’t have believed that these people in this place would be the type (they were all too smart, and for heaven’s sakes they were sitting at dining tables and eating their expensive meals with their expensive drinks!!) to whoop and holler and bang their feet and cry for more, but that’s exactly what they did. And as is usual in a time honoured ritual, the band filed on stage to even louder applause, which I thought impossible, even though finding myself being louder aswell!!! Paul came on, thanked the audience for being great and the people at Ronnie Scott’s for having him for tonight and the next 3 nights, and announced they would do one final song that everyone had to sing the chorus to, not too hard when the song is Oh Oh Oh My My My. This ended the show on a high and the applause afterwards took a fair while to die down. So ended a wonderful night……………………
…….well, for most people. I on the other hand had someone called Paul Carrack whom I had to talk to before my night was over.
I wandered down the small flight of stairs to the right and the rear of Ronnie Scott’s where the following conversation/interview took place:
Osman : Hi, how are you Paul?
Paul : I’m fine mate, how are you?
Me : I’m doing okay. It’s been about a year since I last saw you to talk to, so how’s everything been going?
Paul : Things have been going well. I’ve toured again in that time and I enjoyed it very much and have kept myself fairly busy throughout the year. I’m really enjoying my solo stuff at the moment and managing to do well.
Me : What’s happened with Ark 21, EMI’s Managing Director and your promotion?
Paul : Was I really nasty about EMI’s Managing Director last time and did I use words like w****r and idiot? (Me: Yes). Good, because they sum him up perfectly as he was. Since then he got the sack from EMI, but unfortunately they had to give him a large payoff to go. He went cos it was felt he was making the wrong decisions for EMI, taking them in the wrong direction and trying to get rid of too many areas and concentrate on too few. He didn’t deserve the payoff, but I’m very glad he’s gone. The new MD is fine and runs the company well and how it should be run, considering everyone’s tastes and the whole market. I’m much happier with him.
Me : That’s good news and I can tell, just from your general demeanour that you’re happier than last time. I saw the second leg of the Beautiful World tour with my girlfriend at Southend and it seemed a lot bigger and better than the first leg, and it was an excellent show, like tonight was, but a lot bigger.
Paul: Yes, by then everything was going much better, the old MD had gone and I was getting more support and promotion for the gigs from Ark 21 and EMI. I’m glad you both enjoyed it, I like the larger venues, but the small ones like tonight are a lot more personal and I like them too. I like it here, the people are nice and there’s a good vibe about the place. I really enjoyed tonight’s show and I’ve got another three nights that I’m looking forward to, are you coming to any.
Me : Unfortunately not – I’d like to, but you know money and other commitments sort of prevent it. I’m hoping to see you a few times with the Mechanics next year though. Rumour has it you’re already in the studio.
Paul : No, not yet. I’m going into the studio with them though. Actually it’s next week (w/e Fri 20th Nov ’98) that we all go in and start to record. I was very apprehensive about it a few weeks ago, but now I’m beginning to feel more at ease with it. I know once I’m in there everything will be back to normal, but when you have long breaks from it and are doing solo projects like I am, you find it strange to get back in to.
(At this point, as I was asking the question below, Paul wandered over to the corner of the room. Here he opened a door that was to turn out to be a toilet. He answered this question from the toilet, but it wasn’t hard for me to hear the answer. Why you may ask? Well, cos he left the door open while he went for a pee!!! I do believe if a lady had been present he would definitely have shut the door.)
Me : Do many people know you’re back in the studio, and is it alright if I let them know via the Paul Carrack internet page?
Paul : It is pretty secret at the moment, only a few people know. But yeah, sure, that’s not a problem, it’s only the internet(ironic tones)!! (then a friend of Paul’s who is in the room with us says “yeah, just a few million people!”)
Me : Have you seen the page recently? Cos the last interview is on there.
Paul : I’ve not been there recently, but I do go there occasionally. I mainly look at the guest book and read what’s been written on there by people, the comments on the page and my music. I’ll have a look at the interview when I next go there.
Me : I’d better warn you that you were in a bad mood at the time!
Paul : Oh dear (Paul looks sheepish). I didn’t say anything too bad did I? I hope not, except about EMI’s MD that is. That still counts. But I didn’t say anything about Mike did I?
Me : Oh no, nothing bad, you just stated facts there.
Paul : Oh good, cos Mike’s a good friend and things were getting on top of me. My solo work dipping after Blue Views, money problems and promotional problems were all depressing me, but I’m sure I told you about that if I was in a bad mood through the interview. (Me: Yes). I thought so.
Me : Well Paul, I can’t think of anything else to ask you really. It’s been great talking to you again, and I hope to see you soon with the Mechanics – good luck with everything and take care.
Paul : Okay mate, same to you, and see you around sometime.
Post interview Information:
- In September of 1998 Mike Rutherford had already gone into the Mechanics studio to start on some of the new material. The date Paul was referring to was the date he and the other Mechanics would be joining Mike.
- My view of Paul as a person and as a performer was only enhanced by this night. He is very genuine all of the time and does not hold back with what he says and means. He truly is a top-notch bloke and if you ever get a chance to talk to him do so, but if he is busy or looks hassled, then let him be – the guy does not need any more stress! Paul is one of the best “rock/pop stars” I have met to talk to, probably THE best!
- Thanks again Paul for your time, I hope to see you around many more times and wish you the best success.