Sunday, September 23, 2012

A Rory Story

Last evening saw Mrs the Millbrooker and me clambering into the little pink toaster that we laughingly refer to as our "car" shortly after seven of the clock and heading toward everyone's favourite party town, Torpoint. Believe the bit about "party town", or indeed "everyone's favourite" and you'll believe anything and my job on these pages would be a great deal easier.

Our destination was the newly taken-over Carbeile Inn where Liz the Landlady is trying out  regular live music as a means of bringing in custom and offering something that the town has lacked since its inception in 1760-something: quality entertainment.

Only a couple of weeks back I had grabbed through one of the portholes in my vision a fleeting glimpse of the name "McLeod" on a poster outside the pub as we drove past. That needed investigation - it couldn't be Rory could it? A quick search in the company of Mr Google confirmed that yes, actually, it could. Goodness me - Rory McLeod playing a pub only a few minutes drive from home! There was a very excited Millbrooker bouncing about the house in a faintly alarming manner.

I first saw Rory performing in 1984 at Glasters; again two years later at the same place and last at the Merlin Theatre in Frome some 12 years ago, shortly after Mrs The Millbrooker and I met. I've got a couple of his albums and, to cut a long story short, Rory's one of my great musical heroes.

And here he was playing what, for him, would be a very low-key gig within easy reach of us in Millbrook - huzzah!

And so, Mrs The Millbrooker and I found ourselves with prime position seats amongst a very select "crowd" - disappointingly only a few turned out for this momentous event; maybe 20 in the audience. Rory opened with the classic and virtuosic harmonica song Baksheesh Dance (see video at the bottom of this post). . .
. . . and moved into full flight from thereon in.
At half time (which is a very flexible concept at a Rory performance), the man plonked himself at our table and chatted merrily for ten minutes or so about life the universe and everything. He's a blue badge holder like yours truly, so I learnt - after more than thirty years on the circuit his back's in such poor shape that he can't move his kit more than a few yards and is sufficiently disabled to qualify. We agreed that blue badges are a wonderful thing. And I mentioned that he might be a something of a hit at Maker; I reckon they'd love him there. But then, as one of his former girlfriends once said to me "everyone loves Rory".

In the second "half", amongst the long and amusingly digressive story telling (the man gets lost in his own ideas and it's a joy to listen), I got the treat of hearing one of my Desert Island songs (I'm sure Millbrookians of a certain vintage will remember our round robin Desert Island Disc evenings) - the Mariachi's Love Song. I had a tear in my eye. You don't get that in too many pub gigs.
Of course, the man over-ran - he always does; a Rory performance is heart and soul and never less than a hundred percent regardless of audience size - he obviously loves what he does and radiates good humour and a genuine liking for the people who are watching and listening.

So, good people of Millbrook and elsewhere - next time Rory's in your neck of the woods I can't recommend highly enough that you get yourself some tickets, make the time in your busy lives and enjoy one of the genuine, perhaps the last, of the great troubadours of our time. You'll leave with a smile on your face and song on your lips.

I'll finish this bit of unashamed fandom with a couple of my favourite lyric quotes:

"Her father's name was Eclipse
Her mother's maiden name was Sun
But she had to change it to Shadow
As soon as the wedding was done"
(Lonely Dancer)

"Maybe the truest love song
we ever sing
Is our loneliest tune"
(Mariachi's Love Song)

And if you like harmonica - you'll love this:

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