Mod never really dies, it just goes to the dry-cleaners for a while. And
tonight, a pan-generational tribute to Steve Marriott, former lead singer with the eerily timeless Small Faces, is a night for those who’ve known it all along.
It takes some getting used to. For a few seconds the, the blues-rock howl of
the house band, fronted by the former singer of, fittingly, Love Affair, brings on visions of a dad-rock cringeathon. But then you realise that this is a soul night in the best sense of the word, and anyone not here for the man and the music should leave the building or face having some serious explaining to do.
The spirit of the occasion is probably best exemplified by the moment when a jumpy looking Midge Ure appears from the wings to perform an acoustic ‘My Mind’s Eye’ and is greeted not by a hail of bottles but by a blood-brother style reception by a crowd happy to let bygones be bygones and accept him as one of their own. Humble Pie swagger on and announce this is the first time they’ve played together for thirty years. It sounds like it (only kidding). Five
guitar-fest numbers later they depart and the Astoria prepares itself for the main event.
From the wings, then, come the Modfathers: Paul Weller, Noel Gallagher and ex-Small Faces organist Ian McLagan and drummer Kenney Jones, with Gem manfully filling Ronnie Lane’s mocassins. Tastefulness is all. So we get epic renditions of ‘Become Like You’, ‘I’m Only Sleeping’ and a frantic ‘Get Yourself Together’ before a cast of thousands from the mod aristocracy come on for a glorious regal trawl through ‘Tin Soldier’ and, inevitably, ‘All Or Nothing’. Steve’s teenage daughter Molly joins in on the chorus, whilst Mr. Weller– happier than he’s looked in a long while – beams away in the background and lets the relatives take over the reins of this resolutely family affair.
I didn’t actually see anyone crying at the sheer poetry of it all, but you get the picture. Emotional, devotional stuff.