Vive Le Rock Awards Shepherds Bush Empire 6th April 2023

We arrived at Shepherds Bush Empire in the rain after a nervous sleepless night and were greeted by a few autograph hunters, which was a very pleasant surprise.

I sound checked ‘Lucille’ with Paul-Ronney Angel and the Vive Le Rockers band, who are all excellent players and well worth seeing.

I had never presented an awards show before and suspected that it would be difficult to prise the relevant musos out of the bar to give and collect awards, and I was right!
It was total chaos but brilliant at the same time.

Image of Vive Le rock magazine cover with Beki, Charlie, Neville etc
Vive Le rock magazine cover with Beki, Charlie, Neville etc

The ‘Female dressing room’ contained some excellent female musicians – Kim and Jax from Girlschool, Elizabeth West, Millie Manders and Jennie Bellestar and I also saw the wonderful Rhoda Dakar and met Brix Smith for the first time.

It was great to hang out with our old drinking partners in crime Kim and Jax and to be invited on stage to sing Head Girl classic ‘Please Don’t Touch’ with them, what a blast!

Our dressing room was next door to Mike Monroe and Paul managed to persuade him to sing Jerusalem Slim classic ‘Scum Lives On’ and he played us the original version of the song featuring guitarist Jay Hening, which was fantastic.

Much of the night was spent hanging out with the pleasantly sozzled Gizz Butt and I took part in a ‘Noddy Holder’ competition with Jim Jones where we traded Noddy licks until being told off by Empire staff for being too noisy – yes, too loud for a music venue!!

image of Paul, Gizz and Beki at VLR Awards
Paul, Gizz and Beki at VLR Awards

We met the talented Neville Staple and had a drunken shuffle to his set and also met football star Stuart Pierce.

It was great to see Charlie Harper and Yuko and Jennie Russell Smith who was picking up an award for best festival.

I had a drink with Rat Scabies and he told me a drummer joke that I’d never heard before and speaking of drummers Terry Chimes was playing for the Lords of the New Church and he briefly played with the Bombshells back in the late eighties.

Other notable characters included the Cockney Rejects who were picking up the Lifetime Achievement award, Bob Vylan, Dave Tregunna, Norman Watt Roy and Brian James.

Hats off to Eugene Butcher for arranging this amazing event – he was tearing his enormous Alvin Stardust sized quiff out at the beginning but smiling broadly by the end.

The venue itself perfectly suited the Rock ’n’ Roll variety style show and there was something to suit all tastes and everybody I spoke to absolutely loved it.
Covid originally put a stop to the event so Eugene went big by staging it at the Empire and it was well worth the three year wait.

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