Regular readers will know that The Tangent’s Andy Tillison is a firm favourite with many of the contributors to this site, myself included. You’ll not be surprised, therefore, to see some words from me about his most recent live outing – a special “Evening with…” show last Saturday at Wesley Hall in Crookes, just on the outskirts of Sheffield.
Wesley Hall is part of a Methodist church and not the most obvious location for a prog gig – until you learn that the minister there is none other than music-loving Progarchy contributor John Simms! Anyway, it’s a charming place and in many respects a good venue for an intimate show like this one – although I’ll admit the hill-top setting made me feel somewhat foolish for deciding to walk up from the city centre.
When I arrived, just a little bit sweaty and out of breath from the climb, a handful of people were standing outside, chatting amiably with Andy himself and his partner Sally. This relaxed and friendly atmosphere pretty much set the tone for the rest of the evening. There was no particular hurry to start and an understandable willingness to wait until fellow Progarchist Alison Henderson and partner Martin had managed to find something to eat, given the very lengthy drive they had undertaken to be there. Eventually, we made our way into the hall and found seats, and soon enough, when all had been fed and watered, the show began.
Andy had admitted beforehand to a certain degree of nervousness about this, his first proper solo gig, but it really didn’t show as he ran through an almost bewilderingly diverse repertoire, mixing classics from The Tangent and Po90 with an unexpected rendition of Rory Gallagher’s Bullfrog Blues and a hilarious Berlin School-inspired homage to classic UK kids TV show The Clangers – incorporating the theme from Vangelis’ Chariots Of Fire, no less! As if that weren’t already enough, we also enjoyed the incongruity of seeing a drum solo played on a keyboard and heard a raw, powerful performance of In Earnest preceding a jazzed-up version of The Commodores’ Three Times a Lady. Threaded through this intoxicating mixture were the anecdotes and dry self-deprecating wit of the man himself. A case in point would be the delightful tale of how GPS Culture‘s leitmotif was constructed by splicing the theme tune of soap opera East Enders onto the jingle from a PC World TV advert!
Thank you, Andy and Sally, for a joyous evening that will live long in the memory. And thank you, John, for hosting it!