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One for the Road

The Ronnie Lane Memorial Concert

8 April 2004

Royal Albert Hall, London.

Released: 4 August 2014

Three years after the hugely successful Steve Marriott Memorial Concert at The Astoria it was time to celebrate the life and work of fellow Small Faces Ronnie Lane. "Plonk" had died in 1997 after a long battle with multiple sclerosis. The event took some time to plan, not least in gathering together such as wonderful list of star names including a reforming Slim Chance.

Booking the Albert Hall was an inspired choice. The Marriott Memorial at The Astoria had sold out and so there was potential to create something even bigger and so it happened. This was a memorable evening for everyone who was there and, fortunately ten years on, there is a superb DVD of the whole event.

The cast list was a who's who of Ronnie career and fans although there are some notable absentees. Some like Sir Paul McCartney and Eric Clapton sent written tributes which were read out by the organiser John Hellier.

One of the highlights of the evening was a reformed Slim Chance put together by Charlie Hart to play a number of Ronnie's solo and slim chance songs as well as back other performers such as Paul Weller, Sam Brown, Glen Matlock, Mick Jones, Chris Jagger, Pete Townshend, Keith Smart and Ronnie Wood. Quite a supergroup and a great testament to a wide love of Ronnie Lane from those who worked with him or admired him.

Not surprisingly there are numerous Small Faces songs that highlight the near perfection of the Marriott/Lane writing partnership. A storming start from Small Faces Convention regulars Small World gets the Albert Hall up and moving. The evening started great and got even better as it went on. Deborah Bonham - John's little sister - was amazing at the Steve Marriott Memorial and the choice of two cover versions (covered by the Small Faces and the Faces) showed the power of her voice. And Yes, that is Humble Pie's Jerry Shirley on drums.

Another Small Faces Convention regular are 17 Black and again they do not disappoint with a great series of Small Faces tracks and including guests Dennis Greaves of Nine Below Zero and Steve Diggle of Buzzcocks. Diggle had previously fronted Buzzcocks on the Long Agos and Worlds Apart tribute CD also singing Here Come The Nice.

An acoustic break now for another massive Small Faces fan and top man Midge Ure who repeats his acoustic performance from The Astoria and with the addition of The Ogdens track Mad John. One of Midge's previous bands The Rich Kids had even managed a Small Faces cover on their album Ghosts of Princes of Towers where Ian McLagan joined the band for Here Come The Nice. More Rich Kids later.

After the acoustic break it is back to noise with a now 5-piece Ocean Colour Scene storming through two great Small Faces tracks which sandwich a more melancholy Heard This One Before. Steve Craddock takes the lead vocal on the Ronnie Lane track. Ocean Colour Scene have been great supporters of the Small Faces and the two tracks played here have featured in their own headlining gigs. True fans.

The reformation of Slim Chance was eagerly awaited and completely changed the tone of the evening. The choice of tracks covered the Faces and Ronnie's solo/Slim Chance years. There were also numerous guests appearing alongside Slim Chance. Sam "Stop" Brown was without doubt one of the stars of the evening. Aside from being a great singer in her own right and being the daughter of Joe Brown, she had sung backing vocals on the later Small Faces album 78 in the Shade. Sam Brown makes her debut on Flags & Banners and makes several appearances during the rest of the show. The rural tranquillity and calmness of Slim Chance could be at odds with the arrival of stars of the "new wave". However, the Small Faces/Faces credibility of the likes of Glen Matlock (Sex Pistols) and Paul Weller (The Jam) along with Mick Jones (The Clash) cannot be questioned. Matlock had also been bass player in the Rich Kids with Midge Ure. The combination proves great songs and great musicians can find each other. Their influences will come to the fore. The Clash/Pistols meeting on Faces tracks was followed by Pete Townshend's first gig since some PR problems and he was greeted with cheers. Townshend was a long-time friend of Lane's from Small Faces/Who days and the pair also collaborated on 1977's Rough Mix.

The final section was The Jones Gang, a loose band around Kenney Jones and Rick Wills. At the time, Robert Hart (vocals) as well as Dave "Bucket" Colwell and Gary Grainger on guitars had been fairly regular fixtures in the line-up. An introduction by John Unwin, son of the late Stanley Unwin set the tone perfectly. He even sounded like his dad! Of course, this led into the classic Ogden's Nut Gone Flake, an instrumental that filled the whole Albert Hall. Swiftly followed by Rod Stewart's Maggie Mae which was as much a Faces track as it could be in all but credit. A newer sing written by Robert and Kenney Gypsy Lane, was named after a road but an appropriate tribute to the Gypsy in Ronnie Lane.

After Itchycoo Park it was time for some more guests. Steve Ellis of Love Affair has always supported the Small Faces events and it was wonderful to hear his take on Afterglow again. If anyone as not yet convinced that Sam Brown was the star of the show they would be soon. Although Deborah Bonham had sung PP Arnold's (If You Think You're) Groovy at the Marriott Memorial it was handed to Sam Brown who was able to do the song tremendous credit with the original drummer behind her. Still in the PP Arnold vein, Sam contributed backing vocals to the stunning Tin Soldier. Combined with Robert Hart they did the song proud. Pete Townshed returned for a second song from Rough Mix. Heart to Hang On To was another duet with Sam Brown. Rough Mix is a great album even though, Townshend tells the audience, none of the songs were co-written.

As we approached the finale the re-appearance of Ronnie Lane meant there were two Faces on the stage and the band launched into Had Me a Real Good Time and Stay With Me. It was a real treat hearing these tracks with Woody's slide guitar much in evidence. The final song and little surprise was All or Nothing with most of the cast on backing vocals.

This DVD is a wonderful way to remember a great evening at the Royal Albert Hall and a fitting souvenir for those who were there. Those who could not make it will enjoy hearing and see the concert for the first time. Great fun. Let's do it all again one day.

Track Listing

Small World

  1. I Can't Make It
  2. I've Got Mine
  3. I'm Only Dreaming
  4. Don't Burst My Bubble

Deborah Bonham Band (Jerry Shirley on drums)

  1. Every Little Bit Hurts
  2. Maybe I'm Amazed

17 Black (With Dean Rees & Mollie Marriott)

  1. Rene
  2. Lazy Sunday
  3. Here Come the Nice (With Steve Diggle)
  4. Hey Girl (With Dennis Greaves)
  5. What'Cha Gonna Do About It (With Dennis Greaves)

Midge Ure

  1. Mad John
  2. My Mind's Eye

Ocean Colour Scene

  1. Wham Bam Thank You Mam
  2. Heard This One Before
  3. Song of a Baker

Slim Chance

  1. Cat's Melody (Rat's Tails)
  2. Kuschty Rye
  3. Anniversary (With Keith Smart)
  4. Anymore for Anymore (With Chris Jagger)
  5. How Come (With Chris Jagger)
  6. Flags & Banners (With Sam Brown)
  7. Debris (With Mick Jones & Glen Matlock)
  8. You're So Rude (With Mick Jones & Glen Matlock)
  9. Stoned (With Pete Townshend)
  10. Harvest Home
  11. The Poacher (With Paul Weller)
  12. Spiritual Babe (With Paul Weller & Sam Brown)
  13. Lad's Got Money (With Sam Brown)
  14. One for the Road
  15. Ooh La La (With Sam Brown, Ronnie Wood & Paul Weller)

 

  1. John Unwin

The Jones Gang

  1. Ogden's Nut Gone Flake
  2. Maggie Mae
  3. Gypsy Lane
  4. Itchycoo Park
  5. Afterglow (Of Your Love) (With Steve Ellis)
  6. (If You Think You're) Groovy (With Sam Brown)
  7. Tin Soldier (With Sam Brown)
  8. Heart to Hang On To (With Pete Townshend & Sam Brown)
  9. Having a Real Good Time (With Ronnie Wood)
  10. Stay With Me (With Ronnie Wood)
  11. All or Nothing (With Chris Farlowe, Mick Jones, Clem Clempson)

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