Monday, January 9, 2012

Old Faces

Whenever channel-hopping I pop in on the Granada channel available on cable, not so much because it broadcasts engaging programmes - though there are a few goodies now and again - but because the frequent filler items can cast up some real gems. Last night, for example, I suddenly found myself watching Roy Harper playing and singing Highway Blues with more than a little passion to an audience who looked well passed their sell-by date. Rather like myself, of course. Mr Harper looked like the kind of grandfather you don't want your grandchildren to get too close to. Long, though carefully groomed, white hair and beard: a ringer for Bad Santa. The voice a shade lower in register, but essentially still there. Great acoustic guitar. A bit of unexpected banshee wailing. Wonderful.

The corner of the screen informed us the clip was from Musical Legends - and, for once, that's no lie. In fact I caught a full version of the programme, again without meaning to, back in November (I think) featuring the latest three-man version of Van Der Graff Generator. Peter Hammill looked even more disreputable than the mighty Roy, if that's possible, and also was in excellent incisive voice - teaching all those goths a thing or two. And I've also seen a bit of Caravan on a clip from the same source. (In truth, the one time I saw them live in Manchester I was bored to tears - but I was only fifteen then, a bit too young for the Canterbury sound methinks.)

I'm not really sure that what I'm talking about here is actually nostalgia, you know. As far as I can tell the music is more alive and invigorating than a fair amount of what younger and more 'current' musos are doing. Life in the old dog yet, indeed.

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