23 Aug 2009

Edwyn Collins

Backstage Mayfair Club, Newcastle 1982, Kensal Green 1986, Kilburn 1994

Tonight came wrapped in trepidation. It's been over a decade since I last saw Edwyn(Collins). Back then he was savouring every moment of his long overdue fame. Our families were tight and times were too. We were old friends and Nova Londoners living a block apart. It took almost two decades for Ed to become an overnight success and his wife/manager Grace made sure that all the rewards were duly collected.
 It was shortly after I moved back to Scotland that this chapter was emphatically shut. Their lives had been derailed when Edwyn suffered a double aneurysm. His remarkable road to recovery is best left for Grace to tell in her moving and inspirational account 'Falling and Laughing: The Restoration of Edwyn Collins'. Time slips through your fingers, some times it's necessary to get a grip. Tonight is one of those times- time to rip it up...

  Edwyn is playing his last performance of the Festival and it's his birthday to boot. 50 is the Magic Number. On stage is an elective mix of friends and colleagues. Guest guitar performances by Romeo(Magic Numbers), Ryan(Cribbs) and leggendario Malcolm Ross turned the night into a truly memorable event. Edwyn held the audience in the palm of his hand, the all acoustic set seemed to give new resonance to his amazing body of work.
 Filing out of the venue Grace appeared from the wings and with one embrace dissolved the years of intractable guilt, tonight we were going to party.

 The birthday party was consummated at a quay-side hotel in the port of Leith. Ed's a vision; a garland of flowers around his neck and a glint in his eye. He's lost none of the charisma. With the throng of well-wishers and party-goers this wasn't the time to be re-building bridges, that would have to wait.

Anyone who can call Grace a friend is blessed. Her open heart, selfless generosity and unquestioned loyalty is matched only by her Weegie pit-bull tenacity- she'd be falling and laughing if she were reading this. We make a pact that the next time I'm in London I'll stay with them and we'll make a start on lost time.

 My parting image of William(Collins) was of a nine-year old who blushed like a tickled squid and buzzed with more energy than the Hadron Collider. My memory was standing in front of me, transposed by time into a confident young man- blush tamed but still intact.

 Seb(Sebastian Lewsley), Edwyn's stoic compadre, music programmer and re-programmer used my hand as an ashtray when asked to do 'touch'. I like his style.

 Malcolm (Ross), Ed's stalwart supporter, oozing with champagne charm.

 Ryan from the Cribs was trying his hardest not be so enigmatic, with little success.

And Romeo! I spent much of the night drawn to him like a moth to a flame. It's impossible not to warm to Romeo.

At 7.30am I pull over the covers over my sweetheart and me. It's been a wonderful night of heart lifting.

  At the time of writing this Grace is locked into a battle with MySpace over the rights to show the video "A Girl Like You". Grace begged, borrowed and pawned to get enough together to see it made. I racked up a heap of IOU's from friends only too glad to tear up the check. The video was a testimony to creative ingenuity, dogged determination and a belief that we were part of something very special. Necessity became the mother of a monster- over 2.5 million hits and still counting.