AN EVENING WITH NODDY HOLDER IN CONVERSATION WITH MARK RADCLIFFE
Noddy Holder, Oakengates Theatre, Telford, Shropshire 19.30hrs 9th May 2013
I can't even begin to work out how much money I have spent on following Slade during my lifetime, no small sum that's for sure, so the chance to see the main man Noddy Holder live on stage for £22 was a no brainer.
Noddy Holder, frontman of Slade is currently performing a theatre tour of conversational evenings hosted by his close friend writer and producer Mark Radcliffe.
Here in Telford, the stage was set, a gold throne like chair with a guiter placed handily close was obviously for the main man, the small wooden school chair opposite was clearly for Radcliffe, who, bang on the scheduled start time of 7.30pm strode onto the stage of the town's Oakengates theatre.
First of all Radcliffe introduced a series of video clips showing archive footage of Britain in the late sixties morphing into the early Seventies. It was grim, the country was in a turmoil fuelled by the inabilities of politicians and their union paymasters to get around their collective tables and sort the mess out that was slowly, inexorably eating the country alive...power cuts, three day weeks, rubbish piled up in the streets and worse. It was a theme lifted straight from the 1999 'It's Slade' BBC Tv documentary that Radcliffe had written to show that 'Merry Xmas Everybody' had brightened the mood of the nation in 1973.
No matter, now, as then, the correlation being inferred was that the Seventies needed livening up, time for the Godfather of Glam Rock....Noddy Holder!
To a thunderous and genuinely warm standing ovation from the near packed theatre, Holder, now well into his 60's, sauntered onto the stage attired resplendently in black coachmans jacket, a gold and green cravat and multi coloured shoes added colour to the outfit which was topped off with a velvet hat. He gave the appearance of a very dapper old leprechaun as he took up his seat in readiness for the evening. It's hard to dislike Noddy Holder, now was the first time that I had seen him in his natural environment, on stage, in the spotlight, for over 20 years. I was gripped by nostalgia as first Radcliffe ran some photographs of Holder in various bands before Slade got together as well as video clips of some of the biggest Slade hits. It was interesting to note that the clip chosen for 'Merry Xmas Everybody' was our very own SIE version from the Sez Les Christmas special in 1973 complete with SIE logo in the top left corner of the screen.
Holder then went on to talk about his childhood and the early years of Slade, nothing that we long in the tooth fans have not heard before, but still nice to sit and listen to it again. The guitar next to him was used for the first time in the evening after he had used Rent-A-Nod quote 48 about the writing of Coz I Luv You. It was great to hear him sing again, mind blowing in fact. Although he admitted to having a touch of hay fever which made him sound a tad 'croaky' his voice was strong and powrful.
He went on to give us a rendition of 'Buy Me A Rocking Chair' (the forerunner of Merry Xmas Everybody) with two versus as well as the chorus which was good to hear. He also sang 'Far Far Away' explaining that when it was written originally the hook line from the chorus was going to be "Rocking around the world, and it still seems so unreal" but Jimmy Lea wanted far far away instead. Jim got his way the rest is history! He went on to add that a couple of years later Status Quo nicked the `Rocking around the world` bit!
Holders presentation is slick and honed from decades of speaking from behind his stage identity, we never get to see or hear the real Noddy who has always been a deeply guarded and careful man, you don't catch him off guard often and the schtick on display this evening was typical Noddy.
He spoke about the fact that he and the other members of the band have perhaps only been in the same room together five times in the last twenty years, and that each time it happened it was usually ended by arguments between mostly Dave and JIm. Once again he stated that he would never say never to a Slade reunion (RAN Q#237) and that he was asked all the time to reform the band (RAN Q#312). More disappointingly despite many requests for him to record a solo acoustic LP of Slade tunes, he said that was also very unlikely, especially as he would then have to jump onto the marketing bandwagon and do the merry go round of promotional appearances which is something he wasn't keen to do.
A poor excuse, hasn't he heard of the internet, YouTube and Itunes?
It made no difference to a great evening listening to the great man in person as I sat four rows back in a perfect position to soak up all the charismatic Mr Holder had to offer. Years ago those four rows of seats would have easily been trampled over as I fought my way closer to the same man who now sat before me in a much less frenetic atmosphere than those heady days of my youth.
To wrap it all up, Sir Nod finished up by paying homage to one of his all time heroes and influences, Little Richard, by singing Chuck Berry's 'Johnny Be Good' because 'That's where it all started for me, Little Richard singing that tune...'
The audience naturally gave him a prolonged standing ovation at the end, Radcliffe left the stage for Holder to rightly soak up the applause and adulation from those who had been thoroughly entertained.
On a slightly more personal level it was good to meet up with and refresh friendships with some of the Facebook 'Old Guard' when we met up at 'The Old Fighting Cocks' pub in the town, Rod Fox, Mike, Di Daley and a few others all made for an enjoyable night out. Reccommended!
ALUN TAYLOR - SLADE IN ENGLAND WEST WALES CORRESPONDENT