Frank Sidebottom

Originally uploaded by fred pipes.

I can't remember the last time I saw Frank Sidebottom, but it was over 20 years ago. I don't think his act has changed much, but that's why we like him so much. Being allowed to sing Beatles tracks and Manchester classics like 'There is a light that never goes out' or 'Love will tear us apart' club style, to a jaunty John Shuttleworth keyboard accompaniment, with proper improved (Frank) endings, is a pure joy. And I've never been so close to the great man, and Little Frank, in the sweaty packed-out upstairs Prince Albert (where they are at last doing Harvey's on tap downstairs). Frank must have been boiling in his big head, especially when he kept adding clothes! Check out the Wikipedia page for more titbits on the Timperley troubadour. Support act was the banjotastic hillbilly band Leonard and Bubba’s Delicious Goo-Goo Cluster, starring the Albert's resident sound man on drums.

Meanwhile, the big debate over Led Zeppelin's first UK gig rages on. Leaving aside whether they were Led Zep by then or still the New Yardbirds, the date in question is 15 October 1968 (or 25 October on the Led Zep website). Now, I'm pretty sure I was there, but... by October I would have left Surrey Uni, and I was at the Battersea campus in any case! Was it at Battersea or Guildford? The internet seems to think Guildford, a fair assumption as that's where Surrey Uni is now, but the Great Hall there wasn't built until 1969, and only smallish Boogle gigs (organised by Adrian Boot) were held in the basement of the Chem Eng block! BTW I was just emailed by Peter Panayi, bass player in Helix. Rumours of a Helix reunion are bound to start. Save up for a ticket now!

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