A little piece of British rock music history has been recreated in the Vale of Belvoir.
John Otway and Wild Willy Barrett chose Eastwell Village Hall to celebrate the 40th anniversary of their iconic live performance on TV show The Old Grey Whistle Test.
The moment when Otway leapt on an amplifier stack, lost his balance and came crashing down has become a cult classic, attracting more than a million views on You Tube.
Viewers loved it, and it sparked a frenzy of record sales and a coveted invitation to appear on Top of the Pops with the fall becoming part of rock folklore.
The legendary Old Grey Whistle Test performance came a year after the pair’s first album – entitled John Otway & Wild Willy Barrett – in 1976.
Forty years on, the duo re-enacted that famous fall again while playing their song ‘Cheryl’s Going Home’ to wild acclaim from the sell-out audience at Eastwell.
REVIEW by John Gass:
In their own inimitable style John Otway and Wild Willy Barrett took Eastwell by storm. Playing to a sell-out crowd of dedicated followers, young and old - but mainly old - the dynamic twosome rolled back the years to October 18, 1977, when a legendary appearance on the Old Grey Whistle Test turned them into overnight sensations.
The special one-off gig had already sold out in June and so lucky ticketholders had been in a state of eager anticipation for several months.
The pair turned up with an old ‘Whistle Test’ backdrop, which was so creased that it required some intensive Otway ironing, and an array of weird and wonderful instruments and gadgets. As a regular visitor with his French Connection band, Wild Willy’s musical virtuosity and quirky humorous barbs have long been admired around these parts.
They are the perfect foil for Otway’s ‘unique’ songwriting, storytelling and vocal talents.
The couple have a wonderful rapport, based on apparent incompetence and mutual insult. But don’t be fooled. Underneath it all there is superb timing and the ability to deliver a fantastic evening’s entertainment.
And so to the climax.
Could the shambolic Old Grey Whistle Test appearance (much viewed on Youtube) in which Otway climbs onto a tower of amplifiers, collapses and crashes down onto the more delicate parts of his body, be re-created? Would ageing limbs and joints survive such an assault after all those years? This is what we were all nervously wondering.
We were not to be disappointed. The re-enactment was duly delivered at speed and with a flourish.
Slight changes were made to the set involving the extensive use of foam.
An almighty cheer went up on completion of the act (or was it more a sense of relief that no injuries had been incurred?). Nobody went home without a smile on their face and memories that will endure for many a long year.
Will Eastwell ever see the like again?
Not for some time anyway.
More information on Live@Eastwell gigs and forthcoming events is available online at www.eastwell.org.uk/ concerts or by calling either 01949 869492 or 07890 118002.