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Steve Harley

November 2010

IT takes us some time to get going as Steve Harley is querying whether I should have said “I’m good” when he asked how I was.
“If someone says ‘how are you?’ you don’t say ‘I’m good’” I fell in to that habit years ago and a very erudite friend of mine said to me ‘I was asking after your health, not your morals’”.
He’s not being grumpy. The man behind the seventies hits Sebastian, Judy Teen, Mr Soft and Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me) is in a jovial mood.
“You’re not a Nottingham boy are you?”
Yep. Not so much of a boy but...
“You don’t sound like it at all.”
How would you know what a Nottingham boy sounds like?
“Do you know how many miles I travel in my career? There isn’t a part of Britain I haven’t seen and I like accents. I like to work them out.”
Maybe he was taking a lead from Russell Crowe’s attempt at a Nottingham accent in the Robin Hood film.
“The wife and I were looking at each other in the cinema watching that thinking ‘what is he on?’ But it was explained that he was trying to do olde English, with a touch of French. And it failed dismally. It wasn’t a bad film though.”
We talk Mansfield and Newark.
“I know Newark. It’s everyone’s favourite anagram,” he laughs.
“I played there and I remember the first time about ten year ago, driving there and I worked it out, that it was an anagram. I said it on stage that night and it got a big response. But I thought, they must hear this every day.”
If your brow is furrowed trying to work it out, just ask someone. It’s not a word to be repeated in a family newspaper.
This time he’s coming to Nottingham, for an acoustic show at the Albert Hall, on a tour billed as A Closer Look.
He plans to play at least one song from each of the thirteen albums he has released since Cockney Rebel’s 1973 debut, The Human Menagerie. Plus a few from the recently released Stranger Comes To Town.
Harley will be joined by Cockney Rebel band-mate Barry Wickens, on violin, guitar and vocals.
“I don’t talk a lot on stage,” he admits.
“I have hundreds of stories but I’m saving them for the autobiography,” he laughs.
One of the reasons is to avoid repetition for those who follow him around on tour night after night.
“It puzzles me why they always sit or stand at the front. I see them at the stage door and I’ll do the photographs and say hello. I’ve asked them why because it’s nothing like the best sound in the room. And I never get a satisfactory answer.”
Do you ever wonder why they come to every show?
“Because the show’s brilliant,” he laughs.
“Why on earth would you ask me that?”
He adds: “I love it. It’s very flattering that people take you that seriously. And the fact is it’s never the same twice. It’s not a routine. I do a lot of it on the hoof. We have 25 titles to choose from and the band can only take it for granted that the first three will be in the right order. After that I’m off on a tangent. The only trouble with that is I can’t remember if I’ve already played a song in the set that night.”
Harley will be doing the best known songs.
“I wouldn’t leave the room without doing Make Me Smile. I love playing anyway. So, most of the hit singles will be in the set, one way or another.”

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