One of my more memorable nights-out in the early 90’s, was when I went to see my dear friend ‘Matt Johnson’ play in Copenhagen with his band ‘The The’. When I arrived, Matt asked me if I wanted to join him and the band on stage to play guitar in the encore. I can’t remember what tune it was, but the brief was to improvise loud sonically disturbing guitar over the final section of the song. Obviously I jumped at the chance, it was an honor. Matt has always had exceptional musicians in his band. On the album ‘Mind Bomb’ he worked with guitar God ‘Johnny Marr’, who had also joined the band for the previous tour. This is relevant because as I walked onto the stage halfway through the song, Matt introduced me not by name, but as ‘a very special guest’. The lighting was darkly atmospheric and the band was backlit, so everyone on stage, including me was silhouetted. This resulted in a large portion of the audience presuming I was indeed Jonny Marr making a surprise appearance. The crowd roared as I clicked in the wah-wah pedal and pushed the volume pedal to max. I got so carried away with it all that I quickly started busting strings and could see blood from my fingers splashing all over the guitar because I was hitting the strings so hard. I can’t tell you how well I played that night, but everybody in the band seemed satisfied enough when we came off. There was the slight problem that unknown to me, Matt was meant to go out and sing a second encore on his own, with the guitar I had just borrowed off him, which through my enthusiastic approach, only had a couple of blood stained strings left on it. The road crew wisely had his spare guitar tuned-up and at hand, so the show smoothly reached its finale.
On a more somber note, Matt recently had a major operation after a life threatening throat infection. It was worryingly touch-and-go for a bit, but thankfully he is now on the road to recovery. In the future I look forward to enjoying new music from this great songwriter, and spending many more quality evenings with this great mate of mine. .
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