JOHNNY KIDD TRIBUTE AT THE ACE CAFÉ, LONDON

SATURDAY 22ND NOVEMBER 2003
Sent in by ROGER MORSE
 

I heard about the Ace Café from a work colleague, but had never been there.  However when he gave me a programme of events, I just had to go on the 22nd. November. I remember seeing Johnny Kidd and the Pirates in the early sixties at the Watford Town Hall just as ‘A Shot of Rhythm and Blues’ came out and seeing Johnny throw his sword into the stage. Mick Green of the Pirates became my first guitar hero.  I would tape record performances from the radio show ‘Saturday Club’ of the Pirates and later the Dakotas with Mick on guitar.  

I had never seen the Pirates live since the early sixties, so I thought here is a great chance to meet them in person and maybe get an album cover signed. I waited, with others, in front of the small stage and then we were told the Pirates were going to be another 45 minutes.  I went back into the café/bar area, then upstairs to the toilet.  I came out to find a door open to my right and there was Mick, Frank and John.  Mick was cleaning the neck of his guitar ready for the evening.  I held up my album cover and pen and Mick said “come in”.  How great to meet Mick, Frank and John after all these years. I asked Mick if he still had his old ‘Gibson Les Paul Jnr.’ he used on the early hits and the cream ‘Telecaster’ from later Pirate days and Dakotas .  He said “No”, and that they were just lumps of wood to him! They all signed my album cover and laughed about how young they looked on it.  I turned to leave and thought, photos!  A quick snap of Mick and Frank and one of John.  As I left I asked Mick if they would play my favourite Pirate number ‘My Babe’
The café filled up and I was right near the stage as the Pirates came on starting with the powerful and loud MILK COW BLUES. After thunderous applause, John said they would be playing Johnny Kidd as well as Pirate numbers.  He also thanked Johnny Kidd’s wife for being there.  Mick joked “we’ll do a bit of Liberty X just for a laugh”.  Then into Johnny Kidd’s PLEASE DON’T TOUCH.  The house P.A. was not working very well and we weren’t getting much of Mick’s vocal backing, but never mind, it still sounded great. Then into I CAN TELL, John said that it was the first number they had recorded with Johnny Kidd, LINDI LOU followed.  Mick then spoke about going to the Ace when it was a ‘Proper Café’ in the sixties and playing cards out the back,  “Gambling was what it was all about then” he said. Then into TEAR IT UP.  Mick then mentioned that they had a combined age of 185 years and “There’s only three of us”.  Next came YOU DON’T OWN ME, John said “Me an Mick wrote it”.  Mick replied “No you didn’t”, John said “Oh well there will be something else I wrote, does it matter”, (everyone laughed).
John then spoke about when they had some time over at Abbey Road Studios after a Johnny Kidd session.  That’s when they recorded My Babe (they had remembered my request).  He said it was a bit disconcerting as Ella Fitzgerald was there watching them record.  Mick said they hadn’t done MY BABE for 20 years.  John said, “Mick hates it”.  They went into it starting just like the record, brilliant.  Frank Farley then requested they do the other side, CASTING MY SPELL, which although John said the words were silly and he couldn’t remember them was also great.  Johnny Kidd’s I’LL NEVER GET OVER YOU followed, (audience joining in on harmony backing vocals!).  
Then a well-earned break, the atmosphere was electric.  Stuart of the Wild Wax Show kept the music coming until the Pirates returned for their second set.  Straight into a very loud instrumental, PETER GUNN followed by the Mick Green/Wilco Johnson number, GOING BACK HOME.  Then came a number from the Out of their Skulls album, LONESOME TRAIN.  John sprung the next one on Mick and Frank saying only, “its in G”.  That was Johnny Kidd’s LETS TALK.  ‘G’ probably, being the wrong key for John but it didn’t matter! Mick then starts of a semi-feedback chord as the intro to HONEY HUSH, the audience joining in the chorus.  A SHOT OF RHYTHM AND BLUES came next, followed by GIBSON MARTIN FENDER and DON’T MUNCHEN IT.  

John then introduced the band and himself as they went into BRAND NEW CADILAC.  They had to do Johnny Kidd’s SHAKIN’ ALL OVER, to end with a very powerful BABY PLEASE DON’T GO. We shook hands as they left the stage and they were really too tired to come back on, even though there were plenty of calls for more from the audience.  

What an evening!!  I left with my ears ringing, lots of photo’s and a T-Shirt, thinking, must do it all again someday.