By Chris Patmore, Rock At Night London Correspondent
VENUE: The Borderline, London – Mick Abrahams and Friends celebrate 50 years of music
So many people are lamenting what a terrible year 2016 is for losing musical heroes. The reality is that most of the pioneering musical icons have reached the age where most humans die. In fact, given their lifestyles, it is something of a miracle they lived as long as they did. Most of the people that were around in the ’60s and ’70s are now in their 60s and 70s. While a certain amount of the mass hysteria and adulation given to the passing of the likes of Bowie and Prince is deserved, some of the lesser known survivors are completely overlooked. Mick Abrahams, for instance. The original guitarist with Jethro Tull and founder of blues rockers Blodwyn Pig, Abrahams suffered a heart attack in 2009, followed by two strokes, which doctors told him would leave him unable to play guitar again. And yet, on 9 May 2016, at The Borderline in London, Abrahams was back on stage, celebrating 50 years of performing, and he brought a host of old friends to help out.
The event was not only a celebration, but also a chance to raise some much need money, because, as with so many artists, pension plans were never part of the equation, and once the royalty cheques stop coming in (if they weren’t hijacked by the managers, agents or record companies), times became hard. Amongst the almost three hours of music was an auction of one of Mick’s signature Vintage guitars to raise money for a disabled bathroom in Mick’s house (the guitar sold for an impressive £1600). In spite of this, it was very much an evening of fun and music, with Abrahams in jovial, self-deprecating spirits. MC for the evening, comedian Miki Travis, kept the show moving along with a mixture of roast and old-school stand up (nothing to do with Tull’s album following Abraham’s departure).
The evening’s guests included the likes of keyboard wizard Rick Wakeman, guitarists Geoff Whitehorn (Procol Harum), Elliot Randall (Steely Dan) and Phil Hilborne, along with Ray Dorset (Mungo Jerry), Dennis Greaves and Mark Feltham from Nine Below Zero, and Jethro Tull’s original drummer Clive Bunker.
Of course there were a couple of classic Tull songs (Teacher and New Day Yesterday) along with some blues, rock and soul standards.
Unlike many of his contemporaries still performing today, Abrahams exhibited only occasional flashes of what he could do, but given the circumstances it was more than enough for the adoring crowd, but he was in fine voice on the songs he did sing, and the level of musicianship from his friends left no room for disappointment.
Let’s not forget that “none of us gets out of here alive”, and celebrate the lives of the artists who are still here with us, while they are still here. Buying their records may put food on their table, but it’s playing live music that really keeps them alive.
Mick Abrahams and Friends
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