Bob Harris & Martyn Joseph:
A night of stories and songs | Huntingdon Hall, Worcester | 28th July 23
Although running late, we still had time to partake of a pint of Tribute in the Farrier’s Arms, surrounded by Spotify’s recommendations and urgent stories from the bar. The satisfying ambiance and beverage allowed for a time of non-committal scrolling and pondering of what the night would offer…
Avuncular broadcaster Bob Harris was saluted with fitting applause. This man has proved himself and to prove the point the Hall settled down quickly by the metaphoric fireside for agreeable chat and warming music from folk-singer/songwriter Martyn Joseph.
Like their audience, Waldorf and Statler – their words not mine – were just pleased to be there in person. The format was formulaic but the promised stories, narratives and anecdotes were far from obvious. The tale of Interviewing Alice Cooper in full golf regalia after he had stepped off the course following a round or two with Johnny Mathis was met with a collective smile. The image of Bob Marley and band walking into BBC studios at 9am in the morning with a pneumatic spliff in mouth was met with a conspiratorial chuckle. Of course, Whispering Bob saved the biggest laughs for his own expense. The ongoing “feud” with Van Morrison was genuinely funny. The denouement of the broadcaster’s cardigan was a saga that proved quite simply: Bob Harris does not take himself seriously.
Seriously, the scenario Bob regaled us with regarding David Attenborough dobbing him in after capturing him with a doobie simply allowed Mr. Harris Esquire to roar louder than the audience.
As a captive member of the audience, this man Bob Harris, introduced me to a breadth of new music on the old Grey Whistle Test. Witnessing the Selecter for the first time and the inherent energy was an education. All delivered in the hushed tones of a teacher who knew his subject.
The subject of the Beatles kept returning throughout the night like the scent of your first partner. If you can easily name drop Lennon and McCartney into your conversation then you know you have been fortunate in life.
Fortunately, I am able to name drop Martyn Joseph who performed on the night knowing he was the side-kick for Harris. However, Joseph was so much more than the interviewer but also the performer who impressed with his open- tuning, by ear and with his urgent rendition of Nye in recognition of the NHS. Brilliant.
The opportunity to meet Bob Harris OBE at the end of the night was like placing your favourite album on the turntable, with a new stylus; you know the album, the one where every song is about you and your life. In a moment of uncharacteristic emotion I placed my arm around his shoulders and thanked him for everything. The musical- farrier Whispering Bob Harris responded by looking up and smiling and winking at me…a fitting tribute for the night. And if you know the origins of the “Old Grey Whistle Test” title, I walked away whistling…
By: Swilgate Scuttler