Dan Wilson - guitar and singing

 

The Royal Albert Hall, the early ‘70s.  Leslie Crowther is narrating Britten’s ‘Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra’.  And in the audience, with his family, is Dan, not musically inspired but slightly scared.  For, at one point, Crowther lay down on the stage so as to better be seen by those in the ‘Gods’.  But in my young mind the spread-eagled father-in-law of Phil Lynnott began to spin, his outstretched limbs carving a hole through the stage and down into the earth.  After that I don’t really remember the music, but I was struck by Crowther’s giant teeth.  My mother didn’t trust him.

 

Little did I know that some years later I too would grace that celebrated stage, this time in support of household favourite Ed ‘Stewpot’ Stewart.  This time it was he narrating and I was in the ranks of school choirs massed beneath the famous organ performing not Britten but the eminently forgettable pop musical ‘Jason and the Golden Fleece’.  And as we sung the show’s rousing finale ‘We won…we won the fleece, we won, we won, we won the fleece’ we waved our football scarves which, at the behest of our school, had to include the school’s colour blue.  So my mother had bought me a Chelsea scarf.  I have been a West Ham fan ever since.  Backstage, where we ate our sandwiches, I recall the dressing rooms were hospital green.

 

Sir Peter Peers sings Britten’s ‘War Requiem’, again at the Albert Hall and I am in the audience once more, this time in the stalls with my father.  The music is dark and ominous but the inverted mushrooms hanging from the ceiling have me fascinated.  They were, my father informs me, to help rectify the acoustic unsuitability of building a dome-shaped music venue.  Years later I was to learn that the mushrooms had been installed by Creedence Clearwater Revival, who always struck me as practical, down-home sort of fellows not averse to a spot of DIY, after one of John Fogerty’s vocals was discovered bouncing around in the cupola weeks after the band had returned to the Bayou.

 

And then I hit puberty, bought an electric guitar and discovered the Rolling Stones.