ufo1He’s back! Self Made Man has penned his latest article on the state of the rock nation and – inspired by Fleetwood Mac’s return – he heads off down memory lane to recall some classic shows.

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A mate of mine recently saw Fleetwood Mac in concert. “How was the gig? ” I asked enviously, wishing I’d had the time and the cash to accompany him.

“Absolutely brilliant,” he said before adding: “But I picked the wrong night.”

By that, he meant he wasn’t present on the night when keyboardist and vocalist Christine McVie came on stage for Don’t Stop and so, for the first time in 15 years, the famous Rumours line-up was reunited.

McVie retired from touring towards the end of the last Millennium but it was widely predicted she’d play with her former band-mates one last time on the UK tour.

Though it was safe to assume the O2 in London would be the venue for her appearance, no-one knew which date she’d pick. My mate backed the wrong horse!

And it wasn’t the first time he’d done it.

A few years ago, he managed to buy a ticket to see David Gilmour at the Royal Albert Hall.

Gilmour was accompanied by Pink Floyd keyboardist Rick Wright with David Crosby and Graham Nash on backing vocals. Not just that but Dick Parry played saxophone and there was a special appearance from the wheelchair-bound Robert Wyatt on cornet.

Quite a line-up and not surprisingly, my mate couldn’t stop talking about the gig. “Best concert I’ve ever been to,” he enthused.

That’s until he discovered that the following night, David Bowie was a surprise guest, singing Arnold Layne and the parts on Comfortably Numb originally sung by Roger Waters. 

Anyone who bought the DVD of the event (and I can thoroughly recommend it) will understand that this was a unique event – two of the greatest rock musicians of this or any other era pooling their talents for one night only.

Poor Mike was inconsolable. Having been to “the best” concert of his life, he found out it had been eclipsed by an even better one.

Guest appearances always make a great gig into a greater one.

I’m on record as describing Whitesnake’s gig at Newcastle’s Metro Arena as their best performance since the early 89s.

Why? Because former guitarist David Coverdale was reunited with former guitarist Bernie Marsden for Here I Go Again and Fool For Your Living. In an instant, the enjoyment level went up a notch or two.

I remember years ago watching Wild Horses at Northumbria Uni (back then, it was Newcastle Poly).

The band featured ex-Thin Lizzy guitarist Brian Robertson and Jimmy Bain, the former Rainbow bassist.

I was already enjoying the concert when Phil Lynott, who had been playing 400 yards down the road at the City Hall, joined Wild Horses on stage for the last few songs.

There were only a few hundred fans at that event but Lynott’s presence made it feel very special – what made it even better was that I had a ticket to see Lizzy the following night.

Fast forward to Roger Waters performing The Wall in Manchester last month.

Two people sitting behind me were speculating on the possibility of David Gilmour making an appearance on top of “the wall” for the Comfortably Numb guitar solo.

He’d done so once before at Wembley three years earlier but no-one apart from this deluded pair thought he’d be making a re-appearance.

Yes, it would have been lovely if he had proved all of us wrong but in his place, Dave Kilminster turned in a sublime performance and in any case, the production is as much about the music and the projections as the individuals involved so it hardly mattered.

Anyway, my mate Mike is off to see Deep Purple next week. At least he won’t have to worry about Richie Blackmore playing alongside Ian Gillan at one of the gigs he isn’t present at!

Ian Murtagh