My meetings with Ralph McTell
Southsea , 28th august 2002
Apparently I was quiet, but when I received my compact-disks I begun to shake me, because someone of Ralph Mc Tell ’s staff remembered Domenico Mosca.
I Had the envelope with the cds and was very worried, in fact I didn't choose what was the best for his autograph. However after to have chosen it I stood in turn, when it arrived I was more and more troubled. Of course I had an expression that described my emotions while I was talking with Him. He remembered about me, about my e-mails and cds that He had carried to me. All these for me was wonderful.
I nodded a lot of times, as to say "God I understand Him", I had my picture taken with him, but I wanted to have the video camera with me to imprison my emotions and the joy to be there, but surely I looked sad when he didn't find his pen, I was panic-stricken I was afraid to haven’t his autograph; the pen arrived, and I had his dedication and his autograph on my cd.
We greeted each other and I said him that I liked to see him in Italy again, and him, as an old friend of mine said, me: "... when you come back to Italy , write me .. because I want to come there .."
This is the history of my meeting with a great artist, which, although his fame and importance is always a normal person, not take prison in the stars-system, and available to entertain with his audiences.
I’m not a writer and maybe I’m not the right person to write about Ralph McTell, but I have wanted to write these few words to express my more depth thanks to this big artist that with his music lets go deeply into the "Chromatic essence of the soul".
Thank you Ralph
My flight to Cornwall began at 12.12 on the 23rd August 2003 when I took a plane to London. When I arrived in London, I found a car for me. With it I went to Cornwall. The journey was long but interesting and beautiful. During it I saw, except the beautiful landscape, the famous Stonehenge, too. The only thing, that I thought, during my journey, was the Ralph’s great kindness and exquisiteness; because thanks to that I’d been his guest to see Ralph’s performance at Eden Project on the 25th August. Really I didn’t believe to have the possibility to meet Ralph McTell before his performance; instead much to my astonishment, while I was eating at Rashleigh Arms at Charlestown I saw a familiar shape of a man…it’s incredible, but that man was Ralph McTell. So I decided to come near him and introduce myself. So we began to speak in a friendly way about the place, about his future plains, about his probably Italian gigs and all this while we were drinking a tankard of Cornish beer. With his usual availability, he asked me if I wanted to listen to a particular song. I answered him that I wished to listen to “Weather the storm”. He was worried for my ticket of his concert and so he gave me the number of his private mobile phone, so that if there were some problems I could phone him. He invited me at 16,00 at Eden Project, so I could watch his sound check. So at 16,00 on the 25th I was there. The sound check began at 17,20. It was very interesting to see the order of instruments and electronic equipments for the show: the checks of microphones, guitars and lights.
The show began with the first stage of the Show of Hands. After their performance and about at 19,40 Ralph McTell came on the stage.
His performance began with “Nettle wine” and then there was a deep interpretation of “Michael in the Garden” and at the end of it “Run, Johnny, Run”.
Before every his song Ralph made a little speech to introduce the theme of it.
He presented me a great emotion during the introduction to his the 4th song.
He said that this song was dedicated to a friend of his that came the long long way away.
Ralph told: "I have a lot of friends who have come from a long way away but this is a song for someone who has come from the furthest away. This is for Domenico who has come all the way from Sicily to be here tonight, so I think that deserves a round of applause."
All people applauded me. I was as pleased as Punch.
"Weather the storm" was played in a new version with the harmonica.
Then he played “Now this has started”, the acoustic version of “Lost Boys”, “The girl from the hiring fair”, “Tequila Sunset”, and “Peppers and Tomatoes”.
After this song Ralph finished his show and after few minutes the Show of Hands began their show again.
Later Ralph came back on the stage and played with Show of Hands “From Clare to Here” and a particular version “a cappella” of “Streets of London”.
Then the Show of Hands ended their gig.
But my surprises weren’t finished: a woman from Birmingham, Julie, came to me and congratulated me on my website. Other people asked me if I was the "Domenico", of the song “Weather the Storm”.
All this was wonderful for me.
After the show I met Ralph and he introduced me as an old friend to security, and to the other fans.
Then we went in his dressing room where he introduced me to his wife Nana. Nana told me that my site is beauty. Ralph and his wife presented me his two autobiographies: Angel Laughter and Summer Lightning with dedication and autograph.
I wish say that never I thought to come back from this journey with a lot of beautiful emotions and memories.
For this I wish to thank Ralph McTell as man and like great artist; he is always kind and friendly.
The theatre was full, many of us were there to see the legendary English songwriter .
Atmosphere of friendship and cordiality between his fans. People of different countries and age were all there to attend at big event.
Finally the gig began, the announcer Bob Harris called the great Ralph and the ... magic began.
He came on the stage with smile on his face accompanied by one of his guitars, only in the middle of stage, he thanked all people to be there with him that night, and began to sing.
His voice captured the attention of all present audience and the implication was total.
In the hall only his voice feel, the audience listened to his songs with religious silence to not lose anything what the artist created with his voice.
For the atmosphere was there, I don’t want to divide the gig song to song, but I wish speak about the complete show rather I want to write my modest opinion before on the first time and the on the second one, way in which the show has been divided.
I have just said that Ralph appeared on the stage only accompanied by his guitar and he played ht acoustic section of his performance; section in which the audience listened to a Ralph by warm and quiet sound of always, with the addition of a little magic because he played different songs .
The second time of the evening was a great revelation for me, I had never listened to Ralph live with complements of the other orchestrates, and making some excellent interpretations.
Between songs performed in this part of gig I seem almost adequate to mention “Naomi” and “Streets of London”. I was hit in a particular way by these two songs: the first performed at the piano in a perfect way and with some passionate and emotional sound. Really an unique arrangement of the song. The second performed with chorus “London Gospel Community Choir”.
I have listened to a lot of versions of “Streets of London”, performed by Ralph, but this time Ralph has surpassed himself.
The performance has been really impressive, so that in my eyes there were the tears for the emotion.
I know Dear Ralph that you don’t like to be considered only for “Streets of London” but you have to believe me that this song is able to communicate to me something special that nobody else is able to do.
Durham Gala Theatre, 21/11/2005
The waiting for this travel was deeper than the others, because this time I attended two great Ralph’s gigs.
My room was in Newcastle upon Tyne, the nearest place to Durham and Darlington. I went in Durham by train and this travel was short. I was ahead of time at Gala Theatre to collect my ticket, that Ralph kindly presented to me.
I was, like always, excited to be again in England to listen to the great event.
While I was waiting for the opening of main door, I met Donard. He was so happy to see me, so we spent some time together to speak. He worried for my return to Newcastle and told me that was better if I could meet Ralph in his dressing room without waiting all fans, so I’d to be in time to take my train. Later I met Dan, Ralph’s fans, he was from Scotland. At last I took my seat in the theatre, it was full. I was so happy to see a keyboard on the stage, it was meaning that I could listen to one of my preferred Ralph’s songs: “Naomi”.
The gig started.
“Walking into the morning” was the first song. This caught all my attention and later Ralph explained us that it was a new song from his last unreleased work. This song evoked in some of its resonances “Jesus Wept”.
While Ralph was singing I felt that his voice was better than the concert of his birthday. The songs were all introduced with speeches, anecdotes and gags. The order of songs wasn’t the usual, but it blinded many surprises like “Sylvia” and “ The Ballad of Dancing Doreen” (by request of the audience). I have to say that during the performance of “Sylvia”, I noted a light inclination of his voice; I think that all this was connected to the feelings for this song. Ralph wrote “Sylvia” to remember this writer and his tragic dead.
Moreover, I had fun to see how Ralph accompanied all his songs with a facial mimic and a wonderful movements. On my opinion all these movements transmit in a best way the feelings and the emotions of the author.
I could continue to speak about Ralph for a long time, but doing this I could appear just repetitive.
So I prefer to explain the meeting after the gig.
At the end of show, Donard was waiting for me, he introduced me into Ralph’s dressing room.
Ralph received me with kindness and like an old friend.
We spoke about my long travel and its many stages to be at this gig. Ralph said me that among all his friends, I should be remarked with a medal, instead Donard, for my “crazy travel”, wanted to bring me to a doctor to visit me. We laughed together. I presented him two red bottle of wine from Sicily and he gave me his set list. I was very happy for this, because I have another Ralph’s relic.
During our speech Ralph said me, he choose to sing “England” to dedicate it to Dan and me: Ralph said that people could be from different places and different cities, but all will find always a good balance in the music. Before we greet each other Ralph asked me if I had a special request for the gig in Darlington, so I answered him “ Barges”
We say goodbye renewing the meeting in Darlington .
From Durham it’s enough!!!
Darlington Arts Centre, 22/11/2005
I arrived again by train, but the travel was longer than the other. I had to be there at least two hours early to collect my guest ticket.
Even if the theatre of Durham was bigger than this, it was very pretty and comfortable.
I collect my ticket and stayed there spending my free time in reading. When the main door was opened I sat on my reserved place, which was behind Donard’s desk.
The beginning of gig was amazing, charming, and Ralph’s way to introduce the songs always involving. His facial mimic was more intensive. On my opinion in this gig Ralph was more excited to sing his songs. In fact during the performance of “Sylvia” and “Streets of London” Ralph seemed to have some difficulties in singing the voice and the guitar were unsicronized.
The show went on, but this time there was a big surprise for me. He dedicated me the song that I requested the day before. He introduced the song telling everyone that just for that performance that song was for Domenico who travelled a long long way to be with him at this second concert saying that I travelled from Sicily to Rome, from Rome to Naples, from Naples to London and at the end from London to Newcastle. Ralph spent a lot of good words about my web site telling to the audience to check it and for this reason I felt much proud. Surprises were not finished. After his fantastic performance, I was in queue to say him goodbye and to thank him for his dedication and for his kindness. During my waiting among the other fans I took some pictures, and when my turn arrived we started to speak with a jug of beer.
Ralph said me, he will write something for my site. We spoke about the forthcoming DVD “The London Show” that will be available soon. The DVD is delayed for some trouble with the royalties to pay for few seconds of a song by Clannad in background when the audience was singing “Happy birthday to you”. The book “Time’s poems” is ready, too. He said me that there will be many news about CDs.
Then Ralph told me that he had some difficulties to sing “Barges”, because this song remembered him a time of his life full of emotions end for this he had sung it with a node in the neck.
He said that he wants to come in Sicily for some days of holidays.
We said goodbye with promise to see again soon “somewhere down on the road”.
Thanks Ralph for all this and for your friendship.
The set list was: - Walking into the morning - Nanna's song - Still in dream - Round the wild Cape Horn - You well meaning brought me here - Sylvia - Summer girl - That'll do babe - Streets of London - The girl from the hiring fair - Summer lighting - Peppers and tomatoes - Barges - Anji - Lost boys - Naomi.
After 3 years for my fortune I am in London again. I Lodging again at the Central Park hotel and this it brings me to the mind my first concert and my first meeting with the Great Singer-Songwriter. Times The show starts at 7.30pm, but as usual’m impatient. I arrive in Sloane Square with the subway and immediately reach Sloane Terrace where the Cadogan Hall is. I take some photos to the external of the building even if it’s already evening but I need them for my site. I reach my ticket at the ticket office and I enter in a beautiful room where I meet some friends. We spend some time together drinking a beer. Finally at the 7.30pm the doors of the auditorium open and each of us takes place for the performance. With my great surprise besides the guitar and to the usual desk with a glass of water there is also the piano. I looking forward the concert begins, I hope I will listen to “Naomi”.
Waiting him I try to think as it was the place in which I am, I know that it was a Christian Church and now is a concert hall, the show begins, Ralph is on the stage, with a new song "Walk into the morning":
"No money in my pocket but a cigarette in my mouth
No fixed destination 'cept burdens vague direction south
Bedroll on my shoulder a guitar for company
Some Woody Guthrie songs and the road in front of me"
Pure Poetry as the rest of the song. If this is the beginning, I could imagine the whole concert.
He plays his songs with the guitar and the pianoand finally he performs Naomi.
While I am listening to him I’m taken by the notes that they flow away as, unfortunately, the time and the end arriv, too. I’m really satisfied of the unique event as every his gesture are unique, every word and every verse.