Otway and Barrett

As Micky Flanagan might say we went ‘Out Out’ last night. This is rare. Most evenings I’d sooner be tucked up in bed pretty earlier with a book and a mug of something hot. That’s old age for you. But I was walking into town the other week and noticed a poster saying that Otway and Barrett would be playing at our local theatre. I’d seen John Otway many moons ago at Chagstock Festival. His madcap performance was memorable. ‘I’ll get tickets.’ I thought. After all, in seven years of living here, I’d never visited our little local theatre it was about time. There’s no excuse. It’s just down the hill.

‘Who are John Otway and Wild Willy Barrett?’, some of you might ask. The pair came to prominence in 1977 when they appeared on the ‘Old Grey Whistle Test’ and John Otway managed to catch his testicles during an inadept vault over a speaker stand. After this memorable incident the pair were catapulted into the UK pop chart, reaching the heady hit of No: 27 in the list. They’ve been touring ever since together and sometimes separately when they get the hump with each other.

Now Wild Willy Barrett is a fine musician who plays a variety of stringed instruments that are hung on a stand behind him for the performance. Just like Seasick Steve, he also has a line in homemade instruments including Bagpuss the Cat bagpipes and a noise making wheely bin. John Otway claims to be the less musician but he picked up the guitar nicely over the years. There’s a theremin in his repertoire that he claimed to have perfected over lockdown. I pity his neighbours. He performs funny edgy, poignant songs that of course include his hit, ‘Really Free’. John Otway’s strength though is his self deprecating humour and loop the loop stage antics. Barrett is the dry deadpan straight man. A perfect compliment.

Follow this link to see a performance of Body Talk. It was performed just before the interview. Barrett told us that we’d need a drink after seeing it. It had me in tears of laughter.

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