Last night in Mullligan’s of Geneva I was joined by friends, old and new, for The Acoustic Jukebox, an evening to remember Iain Twigg and raise money for The Brain Tumour Charity. What a night!
The idea was that I would play any and all requests received, as long as they came with a donation. There was a minimum of 10 CHF, with higher sums required to skip the queue or to join me on stage to sing. I was a bit nervous about how it would work out, but in the end – and with particular thanks to Andy Andrea for managing the requests and the cash – it went really well. Couldn’t have been better in fact.
As you can see, it was an eclectic selection of songs, from Van Morrison to Right Said Fred via Daft Punk, the ding-dong song and The Stone Roses. Thanks also to Pete for loaning me an iPad loaded with the Ultimate Guitar app, which meant I could pull up chords or lyrics for songs I didn’t know. In the end I needed it for about a third of the songs.
There were many I knew well and had played often before, but I played a number of songs for the first time last night: Ash’s Girl From Mars, Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi (excellent job Lizzie!), or Oh La La by The Faces.
A few people gave me advance requests for songs to learn (again with a higher donation attached). The most difficult of these was the Grateful Dead’s Box of Rain, a song that really got under my skin over the past week as I listened to it over and over again trying to get to grips with a melody that has subtle variations in every very and chorus. As Esbjorn (the requester) explained, it was an apt choice for the occasion, having been written for the father of the songwriter when he suffering from terminal cancer.
“…such a long long time to be gone and a short time to be there.”
The most special moment of the night for me was singing Shed Seven’s Chasing Rainbows. It was one of Iain Twigg’s favourite songs from one of his favourite bands. He suggested to me six or seven years ago that I should learn it. I did, but I never got around to playing it for him before we and they left Geneva. Sadly by the time I finally got to sing it for Twigg he was no longer with us: singing it at a memorial event we had for him last January was an emotional experience to say the least. Last night was easier but still moving, as together his friends raised their voices in tribute.
“Everybody had a laugh and then went for an early bath, did you?“
Twigg’s favourite band was Oasis, who also featured last night, including a gutsy performance of Wonderwall by my brilliant wife Nadine. It was very much a family affair at times, as Nadine’s dad Jeff was also in the house and delivered a rousing performance of Delilah. He brought the house down and people were soon chipping in with donations to bring him back to the stage later when he sang Love Is In The Air.
The generosity of those who came last night was remarkable. Apologies to anyone whose requests I missed. In particular to Frode and Valentina for failing to get to their 50 CHF request for Love Me Tender before they had to leave. I did sing it, but about five minutes too late. Apologies also to Andy for not managing I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles; to Mike for failing to spot the broken string request; and to Marc for not stepping up to the “Göddligulgufúr” plate! There were also a few requests in absentia, with generous commitments from Simon and Mairéad if I performed the two songs below.
The other guest performers on the night all deserve a mention. Lawrence delivered a memorable Get Lucky and was back again later on to add some sweet harmonies to I Can See Clearly Now. A woman called Namilah gave an unforgettable performance of Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door, and Paul, Nadine and Tonya reprised their 2007 hit The Final Countdown. (They’ll get it right eventually…maybe February 2017.)
Two broken strings during Springsteen’s The River brought the curtain down on a memorable evening. I can safely say I’m unlikely to ever again finish up a gig with A Boy Named Sue, but it was totally in keeping with the surprising spirit of the night. Huge thanks to everyone that came along and to those who supported it from afar. Twigg would have loved it. And I’ll be sending just about 1,900 CHF to The Brain Tumour Charity in the UK in the coming days.
(If you took any good photos or videos on the night, please get in touch…)