Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Edwyn's triumphant return
2003, and the show was coming from Inverness, prior to a live roadshow in Portmahomack. Special guest was Edwyn Collins, who was both playing live - solo - at the roadshow in the Port and on the radio at the Inverness studio.
I'd known Edwyn since the mid-eighties, and my wife Susan was at university with his wife (and manager) Grace. But he was always surprising, whether it was being able to quote entire reviews back at you, as he did when the late Graeme Kelling first introduced us, in the old Night Moves club in Glasgow, or, as in Inverness, producing from a secret stash a tin of Tennent's Lager and comsuming it out of Grace's view,with the words, "I've never played without a beer and I don't intend to start now. Don't let Grace see."
That summer night at Portmahomack, the highlight of the village's gala week, was a riot. Grace and Edwyn brought a horde of relatives (they have a house just up the coast), the hotel function suite was jumping with kids, much beer was openly drunk, and he played brilliantly.
Two years later, Edwyn suffered the first of two devastating strokes, and later contracted MRSA in hospital. For a time it looked like he wouldn't survive. Certainly, most thought he would be left severely disabled and would never play again.
Yet on today's show, he performed, absolutely live, two songs - including the legendary A Girl Like You, sounding wonderful. And we talked a little about what had happened to him. You can hear the programme on BBC iPlayer for seven days from today.
He's not the ebullient, wise-cracking repository of lacerating wit and devastating put-downs he once was. But he's still Edwyn, alive and gloriously being himself. It was an absolute joy to speak to him and hear him sing.
He's currently touring with a full band, including the two excellent fellows who played with him today on the radio - Andy Hackett and the legendary Roddy Frame. Celebrate with him if you can get to any of the gigs.