One for the Road
The Ronnie Lane Memorial Concert
8 April 2004
Royal Albert Hall, London.
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
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
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.