Looking back - Viv Stanshall, Leadmill

Although Viv Stanshall remains one of my favourite artists, this was the only time I got to see him on stage. The Bonzos had just finished touring before I got into going to concerts, and his career after that was erratic to say the least and he didn’t really tour that much.  But in 1991 somehow he was able to get it together enough to embark on what I think was his last tour, which was a rambling collection of spoken word material and musical numbers billed as Rawlinson Dog Ends.  Now I know why I have remained a huge fan, but it was quite a strange experience to see how the packed Leadmill crowd not only hung on Viv’s every word, but KNEW them all as well. Viv seemed taken aback by the response but coped fairly well, sat for most of the evening in an old leather armchair in the centre of the stage.  He wasn’t particularly well by this time but that didn’t stop him putting in an excellent performance which was both funny and sad. The songs (he had a few musicians helping him out but I’m not sure who) mostly ended up as massive sing alongs and a brilliant time was had by everyone. He remains one of those real English eccentrics whose artistic efforts made the world a more enjoyable place.

What does surprise me is the computer ticket; I sort of have memories of The Leadmill  as a rambling hippy venue held together by Council grants but clearly that had changed by this time.  I certainly have seen some great shows here, and must dig out the poster for the first week of gigs put on when it reopened in the late 70s.

Simon R.