Three Shows- Two Past and One Present
Twenty-five years ago this December 12th I was lucky enough to see a band called Gillan. It was a show that has haunted me ever since. Gillan was the project of Ian Gillan, who was on vocals-the man whose resume included playing Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar, who did the vocals on songs such as Child of Time, Highway Star, and of course Smoke On The Water; those with another band – Deep Purple.
I had little idea what to expect from Gillan. Gillan the man had left Deep Purple and then went on to form the Ian Gillan Band, which was a jazzy artsy project, a far stretch from songs such as Space Truckin and Fireball. And being a 17 year old rocker, I had little use for the project. He had an amazing voice and I did want to see, however, if lightning does strike twice at Emerald City, the venue he was playing.
You see the week before, on Saturday, December 6th at the same club, Emerald City, across the river from Philadelphia in Cherry Hill, Thin Lizzy had taken the stage. Thin Lizzy was and another band that I had idolized. And that Saturday night at Emerald City I had the pleasure of seeing, five or ten feet from the stage, Phil Lynott and Scott Gorham. Snowy White, who was at that time the second guitar, was on the other side of the stage.
I recall how Lynott’s bass with a shiny metallic pickguard that just reflected the spotlights that were on Phil and would blind us in the audience as he moved around the stage. I am sitting here as I write trying to recall if they had their keyboardist back then, Darren Wharton. I think he was in fact in the back, kind of hidden. Brian Downey was on drums. It was an amazing show complete with some Christmas Carols Phil had us singing at the end. Basically it was a Live and Dangerous type set with Killers on the Loose, Looking for an Alibi, Dear Miss Lonely Hearts, and Black Rose thrown in for good measure.
Add to this my personal history. Here I was seventeen, from a quiet town in central Jersey. This was a rock’n’roll club in the city, alright, outside of Philadelphia with Thin Lizzy on their Marquee. And I was a Lizzy fanatic. Back then everybody else was hooked on AC/DC. Bon Scott was dead and Back in Black was out. It was the album of 1980, but I knew better. Chinatown was so much better! The challenge for myself in seeing Lizzy was that the venue was a club. The drinking age back then was 19 but I was 17. Out of the three of us intent on going, I was the one who could not find an ID. And the club did card everybody.
I still went down to the show with the two other guys, but I was sweating it. Lizzy was my band. I did not want to be sitting out in the car, hanging out in the Parking Lot. I suppose there is always the stage door, but I wanted to see them. I was saved when one of my buddies went in and then came back out to the parkinglot for something, gave me his ID and got back inside pointing out he had already been inside. I waited a few minutes and then with an ID and a ticket in hand was in. I was in, drinking a few Michelobs, waiting for Lizzy, and suffering a lame punk band that was warming up.
So when I saw that Gillan was playing the next weekend, the whole event, the venue, the Lizzy show, finding the damn place, getting into the place, left me with the question: How do I get there for Gillan. Actually, it was not a question, but the conclusion that I would have to come back for Gillan.
To be continued. . .