The Hottest Ticket In Town
It’s off to Ronnie Scott’s famous historic Jazz club which is set in the heart of Soho and good old London town because we had secured tickets for what we knew was going to be a very special evening. I am with another lifelong fan of Rod and walking encyclopaedia of music and everything Rod and very early ‘Smiler’ contributor, Mr Gareth Millard, along with my good lady, the adorable Ms. Lynne Von Wildenrath.
Ronnie Scott’s is an intimate club with a capacity of only around 250 people. Everyone has a superb view of all proceedings as you can imagine.
Ronnie Wood, Rod’s old mucker was presenting a Chuck Berry tribute show tonight and we knew there was going to be special guests. But little did we know who was going to walk in and plonk himself right in front of Woody, but yes, you guessed it, Mr Roderick David Stewart.
Ronnie was blasting through his Chuck Berry set, but every now and then, we would here a heckler. It was Rod, shouting out, “Nice Jacket Ron” or when Ronnie was between songs reading his set list, Rod shouts out “We both need glasses now Ron” or words to that effect.
As the set got hotter, Imelda May joined Ronnie on stage and added her indomitable rockabilly style to the Chuck Berry songs. Rod couldn’t contain himself, jumping up and down in his seat, shouting out “Go on Ronnie”.
Well of course Rod finally had to do something, and at the end of the set unbeknown to Ronnie, or most of the audience to be honest, we heard that familiar voice through a Mike go, “Ronnie, Ronnie”. Ronnie looks at where Rod should be seating, sees he is not in sight, looks around as Rod says quietly again ‘Ronnie, Ronnie over here’.
It was a fantastic moment; Rod was leaning at the end of the stage up against Ben Walters grand piano. Of course Banter was pursued, with Rod asking if he remembers the Jeff Beck days and when they toured having to share a three minute phone call home to their girlfriends and only having one and a half minutes each on the line. They had to also a hotel room, stole eggs to eat and being skint. This was a magical moment for us all in the audience. To be witnessing two great friends, who are now Rock and Roll royalty reminiscing and having a laugh together was very special.
It is a Chuck Berry tribute night after all and Rod starts singing quietly a few lines from, “Sweet Little Rock and Roller” which they played together in The Faces and later on Rod’s solo tours. The song melded in to ‘Jonny be Good’ and then the moment was over. Rod and Ronnie hugged each other, Ronnie thanked Rod and then he was gone.
It put me in mind of what an old Blues man might have done years back, just sidling up to the edge of the stage and joining in. It also made me think of when Rod and Ronnie first went over to America with ‘The Jeff Beck Group’ and Rod sang his first gig out of sight behind the amps’ as he thought the mainly black audience wouldn’t think he was up to singing the blues. How wrong he was!
Rod just has that instinctive skill to just know how to pace a moment. I’ve seen him do it so many times and here he was again, being careful not to steal the show from Ronnie but just wanting to be involved.
As we left the venue and headed back to the South Coast and to sleepy Chichester town at around midnight, we had a smile on our faces from ear to ear, because we knew we would have to do it all again the next night.
What can I say...
A second night at Ronnie Scott's to see Ben Waters And Friends featuring Ronnie Wood and Special Guests play a second Chuck Berry tribute show at Ronnie Scott’s .
Ronnie's playing was sublime, his vocals were rich, taking me back to the 'Now Look' album days of the mid 70's.
The stunning Imelda May's voice was incredible, rolling her vocal cords around these classic numbers with a bluesy delivery with the occasional little bit of her rockabilly roots sneaking through just blew me away. I am a huge fan of Imelda's and have been for a number of years I must say.
The Ben Waters band is the glue that seamlessly brings everyone together, his piano playing took you back to another era, to when Rock and Roll was born.
If that wasn’t enough, Jeff Beck and Johnny Depp came on stage and gave rip-roaring performance of around half an hour. Big smiles from Geoff said it all.
As my great friend Matt Lee said to me, "Its the hottest ticket in town" and it was, that’s for sure.
A night like this is Rock and Roll history being created and I still can't quite believe I was there to witness it all.
Review By Paul Machin
Photos By Paul Machin/Hendrik Mulder
Montage Tommy Kevitt