Johnny Kidd & The Pirates Tribute - Ace Cafe, London
Saturday 22nd November 2003
Photos by Dave - Words by Ray

Mick, Dave & Johnny

Oh what a night !  I have to admit a little trepidation going to the Ace Cafe, a renowned bikers haunt and me in my bright blue drape and full Ted's regalia. But I needn't have worried - the atmosphere was excellent. And as if to prove the point Dave and I were quickly accosted by a most genuine old-timer-biker who introduced himself as "Frank " and insisted on photos with us both ( see the photos section ). I met up with a couple of other Teds whose politically correct drapes put my garish bright blue "stage suit" to shame and prompted me to go and order a new, more sombre one in the following days.  It's always hard to estimate the numbers but I reckon there must have been about 300 Pirates fans there that night including quite a few ladies.
We arrived at about 8:45pm, being told that the doors didn't open until 9:00pm, to find the party in full swing. The disco ( must find a better word to describe it) was belting out an absolutely superb playlist of 50s & 60s hits including quite a few from Johnny Kidd & the Pirates. People danced - people drank - and the bouncers / security had little else to do but join in.  This was all set for a great night.  


Finally, the Pirates took the stage and launched into their first of two sets scheduled for the evening.  This is where words fail me. They were fantastic - as always - but this time included a load of extra numbers into their usual set piece. Down the front we sang,  played air-guitar and for the rest of the night nothing else mattered. I swear if World War III had started the boys would have carried on - mind you, with the volume they were putting out we couldn't have heard the bombs drop anyway!!   After the first set the turntables (that's a better word) took over again until a little later when Mick, Johnny and Frank took the stage again for an even better second set. Sadly, I hadn't taken a pencil to write down the set list for you and having had just a bit to drink I probably couldn't have spelt half of the titles anyway - suffice it to say it was the best set I've heard.
When they finally left the stage the shout went up for more. Some berk ( was it really me ?) insisted on leaping on the stage and encouraging the hand clap. The Pirates' sound engineer suggested that they wouldn't be coming back so yours truly went up to the dressing room ( that's a joke - a little cubbyhole) to try and get them back. Despite my best pleading they couldn't - in Mick's words "Franks absolutely knackered - he wouldn't even make the stairs". How could I argue.  I'd brought my own drumsticks to swap with Frank which he was pleased to do and they now adorn the wall in my diner at home - next to the 1962 back stage photo of Gene Vincent, Joe Brown, Billy Fury and Eddie Cochrane.   Boy, did I feel a let down when I went back to the stage and announced I couldn't get them back on.  Oh well.


The crowning moment came about an hour later - Dave and I had gone outside to cool off and shortly after Mick left to go home. As he passed to his car he made a point of coming up to us and shaking our hands and stopping for a few words. We felt elated - the great man stopped, in the rain, to say goodnight. As he reached his car I called out to him "Mick",  he turned and I yelled "Thank You". It was meant for all the band from all the fans. He waved and he was gone.



Dave and I finally got home by cab in the early hours of the morning, a little deaf, certainly suffering from alcohol abuse and swearing to do it all over again at the Borderline on 13th December. See you there.

Oh what a night !!