It’s been far too long since we last saw Otway – at least five years is the rough estimation the fragrant mrs onionbagblogger and I came up with, as we set off for the mean streets of Putney on a dismal South London Saturday night.
There was a time when an Otway gig was a monthly occurrence for us. We’ve watched the micro star over the past twenty years play various toilet venues in Nottingham, Colchester and the City of Death; later London years even saw gigs at the Royal Albert Hall.
For a man whose gigging excesses makes Bob Dylan’s Never Ending Tour seem like an end of the pier show, there has been ample opportunities to take in an Otway gig. I think it’s just that life catches up with you. Time moves on and priorities change.
But not for Otway. A back street bar gig in South West London was treated with the same anticipation as the Royal Albert Hall date. We may have been away from the Otway rock ‘n roll circus for some time, but the Great Man has continued to do his thing throughout.
It’s quite reassuring to know that in these times of cynical, TV marketed pop pap, Otway still has a platform to perform. As we pulled into Putney station, I put away the iPhone, having streamed X Factor throughout the journey (y’know, just ‘cos I can…) and then walked into another world.
The modern interweb has changed the relationship between artist and consumer. Downloads, mp3 blogs, lastfm – it’s a world away from the handwritten flyers that Otway still sends us each month with a second class postage stamp.
But it’s that kind of dedication and highly personalised nature of the relationship that makes it so enduring. It’s also why on a rather miserable South London Saturday night, Otway had packed out the back room in the Putney boozer.
The set doesn’t remain the same – blimey. The first half saw a mixture of rarely outed back catalogue tunes, mixed in with *shock* some new Otway material. As is tradition, Otway started off with The Hit, but then we moved from obscure b-sides to 70’s disco parody.
The second half of the set was back on more familiar ground. Out came the spoon from the back pocket for Delilah, the stepladder for You ‘Aint Seen Nothing Yet and the roadie abuse for Cheryl’s Going Home.
If you’ve not seen Otway before then all of the above will mean little to you. For a man that plays dates around the UK more or less every night of the week, then he really is worth £10 of your money and two hours of your time.
I’ll make sure that we don’t leave it another five years before we go and see the micro star again. The look of surprise and excitement as he exited Putney stage left, is the true spirit of live music.
My iPhone buffering buggered up on the train journey back to Sunny Stockwell. I wasn’t trying to watch any ITV pop pap this time, but the legendary five seconds of fame that made Otway the man he is.