Last Sunday the Boulevarider left the sanctity of his Crouch End, and headed to the Southbank, to hear Tracey Thorn read from her autobiography Bedsit Disco Queen.
I had booked the tickets a month or so previously and invited my good friend Alison, who is also a massive Tracy Thorn, and Everything But the Girl fan.
I had already read the book and in fact ordered it as soon as it was out, and really enjoyed it. It was fantastic to hear how Tracey felt about her band, their records, and their success. It was even better to hear her read extracts on BBC4 as part of the book promotion. Hearing her tone gave slant on her musings, and she seemed to be sending herself up quite a lot for some of her younger views, particularly around integrity of music, and not ‘selling out’.
So it was now time for one better! To actually see her read from her book, and hopefully to get my copy dedicated and dreaming of a photo opportunity!
I woke early (not sure if it was the excitement of the book reading or just had sufficient sleep!) However, it’s not my habit to wake at 7.15am on a Sunday!
I relaxed in bed, checking Facebook, Twitter and enjoyed a leisurely assam.
A text from Alison arrived to say ‘Miserable news… I am not very well L Thought I’d be OK but have woken with a disgusting cold, the sweats and sore throat. Honey I don’t think I am going to make it. Soooooooooooooo disappointed.’ Suffice to say, so was I. Not only was Alison the perfect person to go to this event with, and a massive fan, but I wanted to see her, and have a good catch up.
Fortunately two other friends Ange and Tony were also going so I wouldn’t need to fly solo. But I didn’t want a good ticket to go to waste and set about advertising its availability on Facebook and Twitter.
After porridge and blueberries I headed to Virgin Active for an hour to complete a biceps and triceps workout left over from last session, being too tired to complete it then.
Now, what to wear? With a potential photo opportunity I didn’t want to let myself down with less than perfect style! After a few outfit changes it was the leatherette jeans (current favourites), black t shirt with outline of Amyesque rockabilly chick on the front singing into an old style microphone, and platform, polka dot creepers.
I met Ange, Tony and Fabrizio (the saviour for Alison’s ticket courtesy of Ange) outside the Dominion and we headed into Centre Point. We thought to walk through but Fabrizio had other ideas and had booked us into the bar and viewing gallery on 32nd floor! Spectacular! Views across London which outstripped views from the London Eye or the Gherkin.
Expectantly we headed across to the Royal Festival Hall at 6.30, not wanting to be late (show starting at 7.45… God I was turning into my parents!). No one else was yet there and we enjoyed a beautiful drink on the 5th floor balcony, one watchful eye on the doors to the suite to ensure when a queue grew we were near the front. As we chatted and laughed as the sun lessened its glare up popped Paul Burston and his husband! This was turning into a Literary Salon reunion!
7.20 and I went back to the bar to ensure glasses were refilled so that we would not dehydrate during the performance.
As I came back up the doors were opening and we shot into the venue, being some of the first in there, and with unreserved seating I moved towards the front and selected the second row. A bold Tony announced ‘Get the front row as its available!’
So there we were, us four, front row, eagerly expecting Tracey Thorn and Suzi Feay (literary journalist and Tracey’s interviewer). Tracey Thorn was going to be 10 feet in front of us. I can’t speak for the others but I was getting very excited!
It felt like an age wait, but I believe they came out on time. After introductions Tracey read from her book. She selected a section following the release of Eden, and Everything But the Girl became better known across Europe and embarked on a tour of Italy. Tracey read in a beautiful animated way bringing the story to life, and I could see her and Ben Watt crossing the Ponte Vecchio in Firenze, pursued by hoards of fans, only to hear them shouting ‘Matt Bianco! Matt Bianco!’. The entire room laughed, and Tracey set the tone for the evening as engaging, sharing and witty. It was wonderful to soak up. My teenage years were filled with Eden, Love Not Money, and Baby the Stars Shine Bright, alongside A Distant Shore and North Marine Drive, BUT I never seemed to find much of what Ben and Tracey actually said or thought at the time. I am not sure whether this was a lack of press coverage or my choice of reading material!
Suzi Feay guided Tracey seamlessly through memories from meeting Ben at Hull University via the tanoy having only arrived a few minutes earlier, through taking a break to raise the children, and ultimately to the writing of the book (very little rewriting – lucky lucky Tracey!), and recording new material.
Tracey vivaciously described times huddled into a telephone box to speak to Paul Weller who already had number one singles under his belt, the love of tape, and a lack of love for technology! She explained how she felt when finding out that Kurt Cobain loved some of her music!
The atmosphere in the room, made me feel as if it was just the three of us… Tracey, Suzi and me, sitting at the pub catching up. I so wanted to ask some questions, and get Tracey to expand on certain points. I fortunately managed to stop myself.
However, as if by my sheer will, Suzi opened up the questions to the audience. I really wanted to ask a question and many possibilities shifted through my racing mind. The first question was asked by an audience member and another was requested. I thrust my hand in the air, the words of my question jumbling in my mind as the roving microphone approached.
I wanted to say ‘Hi Tracey. I really enjoyed the book. It’s taken you into forgotten memories. Has this instilled nostalgia enough for you and Ben to go on the road as EBTG, and perform some of your wonderful musical moments?’
The actual question was at least twice as long, less succinct and delivered with a nervy voice!
Tracey answered with wit and grace and explained that she was not a particularly nostalgic person and always looked forwards rather than back, and not to say never, but it was unlikely!
Boooooo – I wanted to say but instead smiled! It was only my selfish longings that wanted to boo. I was at school when Eden came out, and as one of my favourite albums of all time, I dream of the day I can hear EBTG perform songs from it, or even better the entire album!
Other questions followed where everything from George Michael to bob hairstyles were discussed, and continued to evoke fantastic discussion from Tracey!
All too soon it was over, but Tracey was to sign copies of the book in the foyer.
My copy was already signed, as I ordered from the first batch available from Buzzin Fly, but I wanted to get it dedicated, get something signed for Alison and ask for a cheeky photo.
Tracey obliged all three!
It was a fantastic day, culminating in a brilliant evening spent with friends, and listening to an amazing and understated talent.
I do hope they tour again, and write other books (Tracey confirmed she was writing again), and release more music (Tracey’s recent solo material has also been really good), and give me other opportunities to beg for concerts!
So if you read this Tracey Thorn, and I am going to post a link to your twitter thank you very much for your music, book and giving us the chance to speak with you! (Any chance of a retro tour?lol)