love and blowing smoke on planet circus

July 14, 2008

Episode of Sgt Pepper’s track through the show. We last saw him wandering off stage with a globe of broken and battered instruments on his back. Driven by a vision many people would quite justifiably dismiss as deranged. ‘Shame poor old man war drove him mad. He’s still looking for his orchestra. Poor old geezer.’ A man of such reserve and dignity reduced to this pathetic state. But something else drives the rhythm of his steps, a strange beat of determination and dogged courage, and a sense that there is some strange logic to his actions which we cannot follow, but in which he seems to have absolute faith. He follows the beat of this drum off stage with renewed determination. Then he appears during Strawberry Fields as we see the four Nowhere Men under the influence of Doctor Roberts exploring psychedelia and the creative possibilities of this chemically enhanced view of existence. Pepper, with precise, formal and absolutely structured military ceremony, marches on in slow time with no hat and his decommissioned staff held horizontally in ritual disempowerment. He halts, places the symbols of his military authority his hat and staff, (you never salute an officer without his hat on) with the same military precision on the ground before him. He undoes the buttons of his military jacket and with deft economy and grace, turns the jacket inside out sleeve by sleeve and with another graceful turn we see him standing in the inside-out version of his military jacket which reminds one of the Sgt Pepper Coats worn by the Beatles on the cover of the album. He puts on his hat and picks up his staff as the music rises into the rousing march (Heyla! Hey! He! Hey! Ho!) chant of the parade.


In the song we are invited to revel in the extraordinary and inspired use the Beatles made of instruments and styles of the past to create a new kind of music beyond rock and roll and beyond all music before it. In a postmodern, ahead-of-its-time imaginative and creative leap, they used courage and discipline to listen humbly to the music of the past and use it as a powerful point of reference for all age groups as well as the clearest and most honest artistic product of their beliefs and thoughts about life and existence. And they didn’t carry on just singing love songs… well they did. But now they spoke of a love of humanity and the world and life and the universe and the whole damn thing. Many of the songs were angry love songs. And people in the sixties heard it and we still do now. Love and Peace and the whole damn thing. Anyway. The outrageous parade is Sgt Pepper’s return to life on a new and enlivened and envigorated form. Still the man of military precision and devotion to detail and emotional restraint but now with a liberated vision of music and life. George Martin, raised in a musical environment which preceded the Beatles, had the courage and vision and openness of heart and brilliance as a musician and recognizer and facilitator of this group of four young artists to take creative and production risks. I am sure it would be true to propose that there were hundreds of bands like the Beatles making impressions on the public at that time but it was the specific combination of these four in an environment provided by Martin which allowed them to realize their potential so powerfully.


So tonight Sir George Martin and his son Giles, who created the sound track for LOVE from original tapes, came and saw the first show. And also Yoko Ono. Then before the second performance there was the usual publicity picture and then a chance to meet them. I was keen to meet Sir George and Giles, and they proved to be real gents. George told me how much he had expected the show to have declined during its run, but he assured me,

‘It’s even better! It’ll run for years.’ Also said, ‘Ah yes you’re the new chap.’

And Giles said, ‘My god you look old.’

I lied and said, “Yes, I feel it.’

And I gushed a bit about their work and how great it was to work to it and he deferred to his father who recorded all the stuff and ‘I just cut it up’ etc. And then he asked me where I was from and I told him and he said

‘Really? You do know we’re kicking your arses at cricket at the moment don’t you. Did you know that?’

‘Yes.’ I lied again. ‘It’s because we send all our best players to you.’

Ha Ha sports joke, always good ice-breaker. And then I stood back and he met other people and I saw Yoko and she caught my eye and we looked at eachother and so I stepped forward. I was thinking that I wanted to avoid meeting her. These situations always feel like one can’t say anything without it seeming as if you are blowing smoke up their arses. But by now we were shaking hands and I said

‘Hello, I’m Andrew’,

and before I could finish saying my name she said

‘Yes I know you. I saw the movie. I know your history….’

Instantly it became clear that she was talking about Altogether Now, the documentary movie about the making of LOVE and she thought I was Rodrigue. He features in the movie as the creator of Sgt Pepper and in it he relates how his father’s Alzheimers condition and subsequent death during creation had a significant impact on the process of creation for him. By the time I had realized this she had turned her attention to someone else so I just smiled, said ‘Yes…’ and walked to the door happy that I had maintained the deception that the performance was exactly the same as when she had last seen it. She watched me perform and thought it was Rodrigue Proteau. Ha ha ha . Seems to speak to the fact that either my performance is faultless, or she doesn’t pay much attention…

One Response to “love and blowing smoke on planet circus”

  1. Kate Says:

    So good to catch up with your Blog again Drew. feel privilaged thatt i have time to just BE along w you.
    Congratulatio0ns to you & Jan for 2nd grand child.
    have just finished 2 wks of watching Dralion, La Nuba & Alegria, have just been sooo absorbed. Wonderful pieces/acts in all. love the trampoline work & air acrobatics; and the music of Alegria just haunting. would love to find more be emersted in it while u at Cirque. Find inteviews w artists fascinating, wold love tosee more ‘behind the scene’ work. how can one get hold of Anywehere Now? such a pity that videos [ive found] on Net are so tiny. Keep writing, its fascinating [went to look at ‘7 fingered hand’= very interesting, thax
    warm love

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