Last night, around 9pm, my mobile started ringing. I recognised the Caller ID and answered, only to hear dim ambient noise, the hubbub of a group of people, some distant music. I figured My Mate had triggered his Blackberry accidentally down the pub, and so ended the call. Moments later my phone rang again, and this time the music was louder and clearer, as were the lyrics, and people were singing along: 'Because the night/belongs to lovers...' Finally my brain started working, this after a long torpid day. My Mate was at the Springsteen show at the Arsenal Emirates, and the E Street Band had just lit into the tune Bruce gave to Patti Smith. And My Mate just wanted to share a little of that magic with me. It sounded fantastic, though not as glorious as 'She's The One' when My Mate duly called me back 3 minutes later...
Would I had been there. It would have much amazed me. Very like... But the asking price was £125 face-value for a ticket, and I can't live with that. In any case my missus was watching the Andrew Lloyd Webber music show I'd Do Anything on BBC1 and I was getting more and more interested as it came down to a public vote between two girls vying to be cast as Nancy in a new Cameron MacIntosh West End production of Oliver!
Then came an unexpectedly great moment of television - or as good as these extended-advert talent-contests can manage: both Lloyd-Webber and Macintosh showed their hand in advance of the public vote, and said they favoured 18-year-old Jessie (Irish, flame-haired, clearly highly gifted, understandably a tad vulnerable) over the mid-20s Jodie (from Blackpool, with a good big voice, and a heroic weight-loss behind her, in all a typical model of what you'd want for Nancy if you intended the show to be much like the film etc.)
But I certainly respected their preference: god knows who'll play Bill Sykes this time out, but the idea of young Jessie as his deluded and masochistic female doorstep suddenly proposed an unusually strong, interesting - even disturbing - Oliver! Alas, the British public know what they like, and clearly wanted this Oliver! to have all the heft and originality of an episode of Eastenders, and so plumped for Jodie. Jessie couldn't hide her tears, but the camera kept a fairly dignified distance from these. Anyhow I hope she'll do very well in something else in due course. But as for Lord Lloyd-Webber and Sir MacIntosh, well, they just had to stand there and applaud their second preference, something that two men of their wealth and standing must find a bit galling. Still, in these dog days for the West End, they have enjoyed another extraordinary PR boon for their project on BBC primetime (a state of affairs that Kevin Spacey was sounding very annoyed about on behalf of Dame Theatre a while back.)
Meanwhile over at the Emirates I assume the Boss had moved onto The Rising or Born To Run or however it is he closes his shows these days. Yes, I should have been there. I don't believe in being puritanical about musical taste, but it's better for the soul to stay attuned to the Good Stuff, and listening to Jodie earlier giving it karaoke-style welly to a version of Whitney Houston's appalling I Have Nothing was a grim reminder of the stuff that will otherwise creep into the void between one's ears.