Now I must admit that I've done some crazy things in order to satisfy my passion for Queen but paying L80 and wearing a dinner suit (complete with dicky bow) to stand in a field must rank up there as one of the silliest. However to see a rare glimpse of a certain Mr. Deacon it was a sacrifice I was willing to make (as was missing the Bon Jovi concert I was originally planning to see on the same night). The concert was taking place to raise funds for the local King Edward VII Hospital and to commemorate the fire which gutted the castle in the park grounds exactly 200 years previously and featured, aswell as our own Roger T. and John D., members of Genesis, Pink Floyd and Eric Clapton.
It was an event where I didn't know what to expect (questions in my mind included would Roger sing?, Would they play any Queen songs?, How involved in the show would they be? Only time would tell.)
When I arrived many of the audience were already indulging in their champagne picnics. One of the first things to happen was the arrival of some skydivers (also in dinner suits) before we were allowed to approach the stage pst as the opening band the Bigtown Playboys' started. They were very impressive indeed and the singer/keyboards player was particularly talented. They played a set of about 45 minutes of R'0'B I Jive type music which certainly got the evening off on the right foot. After an interval of about 20 minutes or so there was then an appearance by Richard O'Brien (of Rocky Horror and Crystal Maze fame) to announce the winners of a competition involving beermats collected by the skydivers when they landed. Then Richard Skinner, from the event sponsors Virgin 1215, introduced a video about the hospital which was quite farcical as we couldn't see the video screen, it being located back in the picnic area! As our impatience for the show to begin grew Paul Ross, also of Virgin 1215, spent an age to introduce John and Roger as the first of the major bands to take the stage.
Opening with an excellent rendition of 'A Kind Of Magic' Roger was taking lead vocals with Josh Macrae on drums. Adrian Lee was on keyboards with Jason Falloon on lead guitar. At this point I have a confession to make, I didn't even recognise poor old John at first! Maybe it was because we haven't seen him for so long or perhaps because he was wearing a cap and sporting a new long hair style. A second closer look confirmed that it was indeed that rarest of breeds the lesser spotted John Deacon on Bass. With 'Magic' completed Roger then welcomed us to 'Jurassic Park' which brought a laugh from the crowd before he added 'sorry Cowdray Park.' The next number was a first for Roger on vocals as he sang John's composition '1 Want To Break Free' and made a good job of it too. Not quite so good was the new rap like version of 'We Will Rock You', as featured at The Cross Gosport show, which followed and had Roger struggling slightly for the words. John's bass at the start of the song was quite good though.
Next Roger took a back seat to join Josh on drums as Paul Young (of Sad Cafe and Mike and The Mechanics, not of tribute concert) took over the vocals for another Deacon penned number 'Another One Bites The Dust'. Unfortunately he suffered from a similar fate as Roger in the previous song of not knowing the words properly and this slightly spoilt this number.Roger was back on vocals for 'These Are The Days Of Our Lives', a regular feature of recent Cross shows and every bit as good and emotional here.
Finally after introducing all of the band to the audience they finished their mini set with 'Radio GaGa'. Only cabout a third or so of the crowd joined in the clapping (remember it wasn't really a Queen audience) which was slightly disappointing but as a finale it was a fine finish. I was also fascinated by John's bass playing technique during this number, very laid back, almost nonchalant. As the band left the stage the crowd cheered acknowledging their enjoyment of tbeir performance. Although it had only been a short set of about 25 minutes I too was content with the show. After all when I bought the ticket for all I knew Roger may just have been playing drums and John bass as part of a larger supergroup with little (if any) Queen involvement.
As the band left the stage Roger remained to introduce the next band, Genesis, whom it was obvious the majority of the crowd had come to see as they got a rousing welcome. Roger then took his place behind his drums as he stayed on stage for the whole of their excellent half hour set which included amongst others (and not in order) 'Invisible Touch', 'Tonight, Tonight, Tonight' and the highlight of the show for me 'I Can't Dance'. Just as Roger had remained after his set so too did Mike Rutherford after their's as he introduced Pink Floyd and remained on bass. Roger had now left tbe stage and Floyd proceeded with a set of only 3 songs. Lasting less than 20 minutes I was somewhat surprised that their set was curtailed so swiftly and felt pleased to myself that Roger and John had not been quite so limited.
Next on the agenda was Eric Clapton who was greeted with wild enthusiasm and also saw the return of Mr. Taylor on drums where he had been doing a sterling job with his normal meticulous precision. Clapton stayed for just two songs the first, 'Stone Free', was a cover of a Hendrix number and the second, 'Old Love', he dedicated to his ex-wife and was typical Clapton blues.
Throughout the show three girls Aitch Andrew, Margo Buchanan and Chyna Gordon had been nobly supplying backing vocals and as a reward they were given the privilege of taking the leading role on an old motown number, 'Late Night Peculiar', which followed (Roger was still on drums and remained for the rest of the show). As all the major artists gathered on stage (with John being the curious omission) it was clear the show was drawing to its conclusion so it was not really surprising when the following song 'Gimme Some Lovin" was introduced as the last song of the evening. Paul Young was again leading the way on vocals and made a much better job of this than he had done earlier during the 'Queen' set. As the song was reaching its conclusion Phil Collins introduced all the artists (again John was absent) Of course the crowd demanded and got an encore with everyone (except John!) returning to the stage for an excellent rendition of 'Witness' again with Paul Young at the helm. The stunning finale to the show was a breathtaking firework display from within the ruins of the castle with Handel's 'Zadok The Priest' being played over the P.A. All in all it had been an excellent show (not worth L80 though - but at least a good cause benefited). The Queen element was as long and good as could be expected and the rare glimpse of John was welcomed (sorry I didn't take my camera so no photo I'm afraid) although it was a shame that he was not involved in the latter stages of the show.
There may not have been any dinosaurs to be seen in the park but at least Deacy proved to us that he isn't extinct. Let's hope he was encouraged enough to join Mr. Taylor in his new project and perhaps a certain Mr. May could join them too. Now that would be a show worth L80 wouldn't it?