I came down to the kitchen this morning, opened the fridge and stood in wonder. I had forgotten what I was looking for. And yet, last week at The Apex in Bury St Edmunds I found I could remember almost all the words to Gilbert O’Sullivan’s songs, many of which dated back to the 70s.
And no, I do not have a collection of Gilbert’s music, in truth the only album of his that I have is his latest one which I bought as part of my research prior to interviewing him recently. His skill you see, is in writing wonderful melodies and then infusing those melodies with quirky lyrics.
On this tour it is just him and guitarist Bill Shanley, playing small, intimate shows without any pomp. In fact, we had a good two hours of him playing his music – a good value gig by any measure and the time flew by. He blended his well-known songs beautifully alongside his newer work. Indeed, it was the juxtaposition of old and new that made me realise that Gilbert O’Sullivan’s song writing is as strong today as it ever was. Here on stage was a shy, private man sharing his feelings through his songs with a passion that shone through.
Interspersed between songs were a few anecdotes from his career – why Andy Williams wanted to change the words of ‘We Will’, because he didn’t understand what ‘bagsy I be in goal’ meant, the fan who came up to him after a show in July and wondered why he hadn’t played his personal favourite: the Christmas Song!
One of his comments that struck me was how he insisted in playing his songs as they had been recorded. Fans bought the singles because of the way they sound, that is what they expect to hear – how thoughtful of the man to not be tempted into a re-arrangement of his own work.