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Issue 8 - November 1972
A Blast From The Past
27 September

Cathedrals are far out places. Earlier this year I was in York Cathedral a couple of days before the Queen of London came up to a gig there. Workmen were working their knackers off trying to finish the renovations they'd been at for years, in time for the good lady's arrival. The whole building resounded with the clangs of scaffolding, the sound of chisels on stone, the screams of men as the whip thongs drew blood from their backs.

On 27 September Newcastle's little cathedral resounded with quite different music: the music of the Allegro String Quartet, who were doing a gig there as part of the Newcastle Festival. The evening's programme read: Quartet Op 77 No 1 in G/Haydn; Clarinet Quintet in A, K 581/Mozart; Quartet in E Minor/Verdi.

Little school girls wearing brown blazers and sweet smiles showed us to our prayer stools. (Thinks: in two or three years how many of these little flowers will be scoring dope in suburban bedsits, contracepting on the Pill and burning bras in Eldon Square?)

According to the programme, IBM sponsored the Allegro Quartet. That was nice of them, but it occurred to me that if they can fork out that much bread, why can't they let Muther Grumble off the few quid we owe them for typewriter hire? I have it on good authority that IBM gave the Newcastle Festival office a typewriter, but the organisers down there are whinging about having to pay for ribbons!

The Haydn Quartet didn't particularly impress me but the Mozart Clarinet Quintet was fine - a catchy little number, should go well in the charts. During the interval the intoxicated audience tripped lightly up and down the aisles, whistling and humming the tune.

What I want to know is how can a woman wrap her lips round such a phallic instrument as the clarinet and still keep a straight back?

Cynicism and pure bloody insolence aside, the Verdi Quartet was excellent. Maybe the musicians had saved themselves for this, knowing they were to be recorded by the BBC. Whatever the reason, the music was beautiful. (Following are a list of adjectives you can use to describe it: ebbing, flowing, cascading, soaring, far-out, cosmic, too much …) Maybe the Great Western Express can sign these boys up for next year's Lincoln Festival.