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06 February 2006

The Malcolm Hardee Tribute Show…

Tonight was just fucking great; there were at least 40 acts on in an extravaganza at the Hackney Empire in London last night. I had been groggy all day due to the nightmares, and this made me feel like shit, but I cheered up when I arrived.

My old mate Findlay and his friends were coming and I was too tired to meet them beforehand and this annoyed me.
I got to the amazing old theatre at 8pm, the show had just started and there were loads of huge stars that were friends of the late great Malcolm milling around backstage, Jools Holland and his band Squeeze were there, Arthur Smith, Boothby Graffoe, Jimmy Carr, Stewart Lee, Kevin Eldon, Brian Damage and Krystal, that bloke from the Fast Show whose name escapes me, Malcolm’s old mates from the Tunnel club and many more I cannot clearly recall…it was so good to see so many people who loved Malcolm turn up for his benefit gig.

I was horribly nervous as the night went on but seeing so many familiar faces soon calmed me down. I was on so near the end, it was me, then Johnny Vegas and then the infamous Balloon Dancers that Malcolm had created many years ago and that was the close of the show.
I did hit the stage nervous as the crowd had been very cruel and heckled all the way through poor Jimmy Carr’s set, yet he pulled them back and made the best he could of a conflicted audience.
I did talk too quick for the first 50 seconds, being on that HUGE stage in front of that HUGE audience made me jitter, but then I settled ok and enjoyed my stage time.

Then Johnny Vegas came on, he was already drunk and a bit shouty, he didn’t really capture the crowd and then it all went downhill on a bobsleigh, Johnny normally thrives on this kind of situation, but he became incoherent and the crowd went for his throat. He rambled on some more and then tried to get the crowd on its feet to honour Malcolm, but people started leaving as they thought this was the end….We were meanwhile all standing side stage and we knew the balloon dancers had to go on, time was running out, the people were heckling each other and Johnny became morose and mumbly.

One of the spectacular Can Can dancers who were on earlier tries to distract him and lead him off but he was having none of it, so the MC ran on and started to introduce the next act (the infamous Balloon dance), just then I snuck on and twisted my hand round Johnny’s jacket and quickly lead him off.
There was no other way to do it and the crowd were getting so stroppy, he had been getting louder and drunker…it really was time for him to get off.
The press were there in droves and I was worried the show would fall apart, which to be honest would have been just like a Malcolm type show anyway.

John Fleming who had put the whole thing together was amazing throughout and I would like to take this opportunity to thank him for what would have been a grotesque nightmare in the hands of any other organiser, all those egos? All that alcohol? All those things that can go wrong? He kept his cool and that is a testimony to his friendship, Malcolm would have been chuffed.
Well done Mr Fleming…you pulled it off!_