The brief, but exciting, Thorogood tenure of The Angel, Glemsford came to an appropriate climax on the evening of 20 April with what was billed as a Spring Party to say "Goodbye" (to Marilyn, Peter and those bloody spaniels) and "Hello" (to Kevin, Paula and what are rumoured to be 101 Dalmatians, less 99).
That the evening was going to be something special was never in doubt from the moment the bar began to fill up soon after 7.30 with the arrival of Jimmy "Two Pints" Whittle, most of the Farrance Clan and an assortment from each sector of the pub's clientele: lunchtime, 5 o'clock and late evening clubs. Inevitably, there was also a collection of blow ins, attracted by the prospect of good music, snack food and cheap beer. Only in the last respect was anyone to be disappointed.
As 9 o'clock approached a distinct atmosphere of expectation began to develop as Tom Robinson and his chum Simon began to set up their equipment, tune up and contemplate the increasingly excited crowd. Within minutes of the first chords echoing across the bar, the place was humming.
If you have not seen Tom at work, grab the first opportunity to do so. Everything is deceptively simple. A "one man band" set up of acoustic guitar, lightly amplified, a bass drum, hi-hat cymbal and harmonica/kazoo rig, supported by well-played electric guitar, doesn't sound particularly dynamic, but the buzz created takes some hearing. The material is wide-ranging, with a collection of blues and jazz classics, stuff that can be classed as "standards" and an eclectic spread of more modern material. Thus we are treated to "Hesitation Blues", "Bring It On Home", "Little Bird", "Bill Bailey", "Dock of the Bay", "Eleanor Rigby" and "King of the Swingers" in quick succession.
The second set of the evening was tremendous where the first had just been bloody good. Out came the classics. Van Morrison's "Brown Eyed Girl" featured twice, once as an encore with full vocal backing from the delighted punters. One of the really good things about Tom's work is his interpretation of Tom Waits' material. We were treated to several. To my mind, "Downtown Train", full of punch and drive and including a wonderful crescendo of sound and excellent lead guitar themes, and "Time", almost a signature endpiece, were the absolute highlights of a great evening.
Tom's voice is best described as indescribable. Vocal range and expression are all his own. It is comfortable, laid back and violently strong, all at the same time. It drives the work.
All present had a great time. Doods was bopping along in his mayoral seat. Graham kept demanding more encores. Tony Ward did the George Melly bit from the comfort of his bar stool. Kev played air guitar. Jos enjoyed himself. So did we all.
PT finished the evening with a little speech of thanks (no need Peter) and welcome to Kevin. We were all reluctant to leave. It had been a great end to a great period of revival. Long may the trend continue. "Onward with Confidence"
The departure and arrival has been almost seamless.
Peter and Marilyn's final night on Sunday was a quiet reflective session (possibly brought on by the extent of the fun the night before), but there was no sense of impending great change. Kevin and Paula simply took over on Monday.
With them they brought two Dalmatians (Hector and Henry) and an extra bell. Now, this begs an interesting question. The Angel bell is a tradition more honoured "i' the breach than th'observance"; it is generally agreed that it is a cosmetic addition to the bar. In fact, on one of the few occasions when it has been rung (you see, we don't need to be told when it's time to go home), the rope broke. So why a second bell?
Apparently, it was a gift to Kevin at his previous place, and very nice it looks too. I suppose we could always start The Angel Campanology Group. It has a certain ring to it.
Incidentally, The Spirit of The Angel, who has greeted each new tenant by turning the Ale into Vinegar, so far seems to have accepted the presence of Kevin and Paula. Apart from one pint of sludge as a barrel ran out (a perfectly normal occurrence of no import to real drinkers), the IPA has been on top form.
The first part of 2002
The second part of 2002
News from Christmas 2001 and January 2002
I've decided to keep each addition to these pages separate, rather than simply add length. I hope regular readers will not get too confused.
News from December 2001 - Follow this link