Sunday, 27 July 2014

THE NIGHT I MET JEFF WAYNE

I bought a ticket to Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds concert in Brighton.
Having listened to the music since I was eight years old, I knew all the words by heart and relished the chance to sing along to a live performance.
What I didn’t expect was that Jeff Wayne would be there in conducting the 46-piece ULLAdubULLA Strings Orchestra and The Black Smoke Band.
I had six months of waiting.
The months turned into weeks and the weeks turned into the next weekend.
Then the show began.
Everyone who’s seen the concert knows how brilliant Jeff Wayne is.
But when they introduced him on stage, I couldn’t believe my ears.
I had to double check with the guy next to me that it was actually Jeff Wayne who would be conducting the music.
“Yes it is.”
I made a decision there and then.
This would be the night I met Jeff Wayne.
The concert experience blew me away. I sang along to all the words with the passion and emotion of those times when I used to sing along alone in my bedroom.
I had plenty of space to cry, punch the air and rock to the greatest music alive. And the visuals were out of this world.
As soon as the concert finished and the applause died down I sprinted from the hall, around the Grand Hotel to the rear of the Brighton Centre.
I found the entrance to the lift that would take me up to the party.
A steward was guarding the entrance and wasn’t allowing even the invited guests up until his superior returned.
I asked if I could go up but he refused because I had no ticket.
I mingled with the other people waiting. They all either held a pass ticket or had one stuck on their chests. I explained my mission to everyone present.
‘I’ve based a political party called SOS on the music of War of the Worlds. That’s why it is very important I see him tonight. It’ll probably be the only time that Jeff Wayne and I are in the same building.’
I knew there had to be another way in. I checked to see if I could slip through without the steward seeing, but that was a no go.
I asked invited guests walking past if they could mention to Jeff Wayne that I was waiting downstairs to be invited up.
The guests promised they’d pass on the message.
One particular gentleman said to me that the Jeff Wayne Music office was very good at replying to emails.
I laughed saying that wouldn’t satisfy me but asked how he knew that.
There was a sly smile on his face.
I wondered if he knew Jeff Wayne personally.
I pushed him further on whether he knew him, but he was giving nothing away.
It was at this point that I noticed a security guard showing two girls the way to the staff entrance.
‘We’re here for the catering,’ they said.
And from that point, so was I.
I followed them through the staff entrance and towards the lift.
A staff member stopped the lift doors from closing to let the two girls in and I slipped in too.
‘Catering,’ I said nonchalantly, acting as if I was with the girls.
We stopped at the next floor.
I followed the girls straight into the party, broke away, got myself a beer and sat at the furthest table from the entrance.
I waited as the cast members trickled into the room.
Everyone was there and I chatted to The Black Rock Band members, old men who told me they were the same musicians who played on the first tour 30 years ago.
I cracked a joke with the cute and gorgeous Jennifer Ellison, who sang the parson’s wife role, then bumped into the guy downstairs whom I suspected of knowing Jeff Wayne more than he was letting on.
He caught my eye and cracked a smile.
‘Well done, for getting in,’ he said as he shook my hand.
‘Thanks,’ I replied with a huge smile of excitement.
I saw the steward who was guarding the lifts downstairs poke his head around the door a few times and every time he did, I tried my best to hide from his vision.
After a while I felt as if I was in the clear and helped myself to the second drink of the evening, a can of coke.
I shared a joke with a few people about the band members signing an old War of the World’s album cover.
Exchanged friendly glances with other cast members, and sat down to savour the atmosphere and plan my next move.
I didn’t even get to have a sip of coke when I saw a burly security guard walking my way.
‘I’ll have to ask you to leave please,’ he said.
‘Oh shit, who grassed me up?’ I asked
And with a guarded look he said the cameras picked me up.
I explained to him that I was waiting for Jeff Wayne to arrive, to which he smiled.
‘You haven’t recognized him yet then?’
I couldn’t believe it.
Just like me to be in the same room as my hero and not know he was there.
I got up to look for myself and saw him behind a group of people, signing an autograph for a guest.
The first he saw of me was not how I imagined it would be. Flanked by two burly security guards as I approached him
I was wearing blue jeans, white trainers, and a tee shirt declaring, ‘Who’s the Daddy’.
You could see the look of concern as I got closer and closer.
‘It’s a dream come true to meet you Mr Wayne,’ I said.
He nodded with a friendly smile and shook my hand.
I continued, ‘I’ve based a political party on your music.’
He gave me a puzzled look.
‘I’ve been listening to your music since a kid and absolutely love it. Now I’m a writer and political performer and have based my political party on two songs in particular, “The Spirit of Man” and “Brave New World”.’
¯Oh Nathaniel no, there must be more to life, there has to be a way we can restore to life the love we used to know.¯
¯If one man can stand tall; there will be hope for us all, somewhere, somewhere in the spirit of man.¯
¯But if mankind is to survive the people left alive will have to start a new, and it’s going to start with me and you.¯
He asked how long I’d been doing it and I replied, ‘Since 1997, it’s a lifetime’s mission.’
He smiled; he liked that.
He asked why I didn’t stand in an election and get people to vote for me.
I explained that my SOS party was a political performance, intended to entertain, rather than be seriously political. But if people vote for me, it would be a bonus.
I came straight to the point.
‘Mr Wayne, would you to do the music for my SOS song which goes something like this.
And I began to sing.
¯I’m the radical revolutionary man of the millennium.¯
¯I’m the radical revolutionary man of the man millennium, millennium, millennium, millennium.¯
¯Eliminate war, eliminate poverty, eliminate child-abuse, S.O.S, oh yes its S.O.S.¯
¯Come on eradicate war, eradicate poverty, eradicate child-abuse, vote for S.O.S, vote for S.O.S.¯
I told him how I wanted to use his music in my political performances and speeches. To collaborate on a musical of a hero who stands tall, and with a handful of men rights the wrongs of mankind and creates a brave new world.
He asked my name and I said, ‘Matthew Taylor.’ And he asked me the name of my political party, to which I replied, ‘SOS Party’.
My dream had come true.
I had sung my song to the one man in the world who could turn it into the greatest of songs.
He told me to send him an email.
He didn’t say no and that was good enough for me.
The fact that two security guards were standing either side of me caused an awkward silence.
‘Oh, I’m sorry Mr Wayne, I had to slip past security to see you. I hope you don’t mind,’ I explained.
A flicker of concern crossed his face.
To be fair I had trespassed on his party and should leave.
Though I tried my luck one last time and said to the guards.
‘Hey guys, if Mr Wayne says it’s alright to stay, can I stay?’ and looked at Jeff Wayne to save me.
Jeff shrugged his shoulders as if saying ‘nothing to do with me’, but the security guard decided for him and insisted I must go.
Never mind, I had achieved my mission, but I would have loved to have stuck around longer.
I shook hands with Jeff Wayne again, congratulated him on a brilliant show and said my goodbyes.
I punched the air in delight as the security guards led me away.
I had met Jeff Wayne and watched the best show in the World.
Mission accomplished.



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