IT’S taken over 30 years for singer/songwriter Ralph McTell to make the journey from the Streets Of London to Queen Street, Huddersfield and a packed Lawrence Batley Theatre last night gave him the warmest of welcomes.
Over the four decades since he made his recording debut with Eight Frames A Second the singer with the virtuoso guitar skills has toured this region regularly.
But last night the singer whose Streets Of London brought him an Ivor Novello Award way back in 1974 made his Lawrence Batley Theatre debut.
His audience - and yes, as you might expect, we were mostly of a certain age - joined him on a nostalgic autobiographical tour of song and stories called As Far As I Can Tell.
His self-penned repertoire had his audience enthralled for one and three quarter hours.
Long gone is the denim jacket, Ralph McTell aged 62 now takes the stage in dark suit and open neck shirt. He’s surrounded by three guitars, a mandolin and a banjo he forgot to play until his encore. A senior moment?
His musicianship is legendary, but last night we were won over also by Ralph McTell the master storyteller as he read extracts from his autobiography.
The tears of a little boy witnessing the breakdown of his parents’ marriage.. The joy of holidays at his Uncle Reg’s house in Banbury and peeks inside Reg’s shed (“a temple of masculinity”).
Stories of first love, months hitchhiking and busking across Europe, the disaster of joining the Army, the drudgery of manual work and the inspiration he discovered from old time Blues guitarists.
Songs, poems and readings that together told one man’s story.
Whoever said the older we get the better we were got the tenses wrong in the case of Ralph McTell.