Napoleon Remembers...

My many years in showbusiness have taught me that the audience is actually a group of individuals who - though deserving of respect and any even affection – may be transformed into an angry beast in the frenzy of the night.

I take the precaution of keeping a whip and chair close at hand, at all times.

So, it was with some trepidation that I picked up my cane, put on the pancake and powder and once again doffed a topper to assume my role as the M.C. of The Spectacular Spinning Songbook.

Could so patently absurd an entertainment as this survive in our Age Of Entitlement?

Well, cynicism be damned!

A rocking good time was had by one and all!

The public absolutely hurled themselves into this show with good humour and untrained limbs.

It was enough to melt my cruel old vaudeville heart.

While some people cavorted in the “Hostage-To-Fortune Go-Go Cage”, others whispered testimonials and personal asides, just shy of the spotlight.

They were both surprising and humbling.

You don’t expect to find such heart in the middle of the circus.  

“The Revolver Tour” lit out from Reno on 7th of May, taking in two nights apiece at the Oakland Fox and Wiltern Theatre, Los Angeles.

The last of these shows was filmed for a future motion picture release.

The Spectacular Spinning Songbook featured forty banners, both individual song titles and a number of Jackpots prizes.

The operation of the Wheel was scrupulously fair at all times but as you know the house always wins.

This wheel doesn't revolve around the company store.   

Neither does it stop exclusively for pirates, brigands or stamp collectors, let alone revenue collectors…

It is The People’s Wheel…

And it costs a pretty penny…

Faithful versions of hits and favourites like “Chelsea” and “The Other Side Of Summer” were heard alongside spanking new arrangements of “Veronica” and “Pump It Up”, the latter running on into a two-keyboard rendition of Harlan Howard’s “Busted”.
 
The revolution of fortune sometimes offered the chance to introduce the hits of the future like, “Flutter & Wow” and “A Slow Drag With Josephine” or rarely heard songs such as “All Grown Up”, accompanied solely by the grand piano of Steve Nieve.

The proposition “Detectives vs Hoover Factory” was met with a split audience decision on three occasions and both titles were performed, while “Watching the Detectives” prevailed on two other evenings.

The jackpot named, “Time” triggered a sequence of songs with that word in the title, including such tunes as, “Clowntime Is Over”, “Strict Time”, “Man Out Of Time” and the Jagger/Richards composition, “Out Of Time, while the “I Can Sing A Rainbow” jackpot revealed; “Greenshirt”, “Blue Chair”, “Red Shoes” and Prince’s “Purple Rain”.  

In the one echo of the original “Costello Sings Again Tour” of 1986, the special guests at the second Wiltern show were once again, The Bangles.

Time has only brought greater beauty to their vocal harmonies.

Their dancing was absolutely groovy and tip-top.

Susanna Hoffs took the lead vocal on “Doll Revolution”, while the ensemble came together for a reprise of the “Blood and Chocolate” tune, “Next Time Around”, first performed at the Beverly Theatre in ‘86, together with completely off-the-cuff harmonies on the Lennon/McCartney song, “Girl”.

“The Revolver Tour” next touched down at Chicago Theatre, where the Wheel gave us a rare performance of “The Element Within Her” and an arrangement of “The River In Reverse” which turned out to incorporate the Bob Dylan/Rick Danko tune, “This Wheel’s On Fire”.

The show pressed on to the Taft Theatre in Cincinnati, against doctor’s orders, borne up against malady by the good people of Ohio and Kentucky and where the finale included a version of The Who’s “Substitute”.

Medical advice meant it was necessary to rest the voice for one evening but we hope that the patrons of the postponed concert in the Wellmont Theatre in New Jersey will be more than happy with the forthcoming announcements.

The tour resumed on the 15th of May in the typical uproar of the Tower Theatre Philadelphia.

This magnificent honky-tonk has been a regular stop since 1978 and the welcome on this occasion did not disappoint.    

The MacManus Family made an appearance in Boston, when brothers, Declan and Ronan, harmonized in public for the first time ever, as Biblecode Sundays joined Elvis Costello and the Imposters for performances of “American Without Tears” and “Little Palaces”.

One young man was so overcome by the awesome sight of the Spectacular Spinning Songbook that he dropped to his knees, produced a ring and asked his gal to marry him in front of more than 2000 witnesses.

She accepted…

Then hugged me first…

We wish them every happiness…

As soon as my ordination in the ministry is complete we hope to offer a complete service.

My friend of thirty years or more, Peter Wolf, without whom I quite literally might not have lived to tell the tale, joined the finale of the Boston show for a seductive version of Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Help Me” and his song, “Cry One More Time”, which I had not had occasion to perform since 1975.  

“Revolver Tour” concluded with a three-night, sold-out stand at the Beacon Theatre in New York City.

Hearts swelled and eyes filled with tears at the sight of the legendary, Xavier Valentine being reunited with his niece, Katarina, Valentina Valentine, who had, until this night, been our sole guide from your place in the stalls to your place in the stars.

The Valentine Family have two estranged branches, one hails from the lace capital of Carrickmacross and the other from the Ukraine.

This was their first appearance together.

Biblecode Sundays, returned in New York to raise the roof on the second evening with a set of traditional fiddle and accordion tunes played off the back of “Little Palaces”.

A second red sparkle drumkit was also in place that night, as Tennessee Thomas joined Pete Thomas in a father and daughter drum corps for the set-closing versions of “Turpentine” and “Uncomplicated” and encore performances of “Pump It Up" and “Peace, Love and Understanding”.

Alex Turner of the Arctic Monkeys arrived backstage, hotfoot from Ed Sullivan Theatre to rehearse “Lipstick Vogue” in the dressing room, five minutes from showtime and on which he shared the vocal duties during in the finale.

Special guest spinners over the three evenings included, Mike Myers, Willie Garson of “Sex In The City” and “White Collar” fame and Questlove from The Roots, who also manned the drumkit for a totally impromptu rendition of “Black And White World” on the final night.

Jim Lauderdale also joined the company on the last evening for the “King’s Ransom” jackpot, which yielded, “Indoor Fireworks” and “Brilliant Mistake” from “King Of America” and the co-written hit, “I Lost You” from the recently deleted album, “National Ransom”.

This followed a birthday salute to the author in the form of a solo rendition of Bob Dylan’s timely, “License To Kill”.  

A secret plan to ask Rachel Ray to make pancakes for the entire audience following a guest spin was only thwarted by a scheduling clash.

And then it was done, the lights dimmed and the wheel rolled out of town.

So, as I return to my own private Elba and The Spectacular Spinning Songbook is dispatched back to the Hartlepool Museum of Showbusiness Machinery, where it will be on exclusive public display until late August, I would like to take a moment to send the following salutations.

Thanks go out to our, mostly locally recruited, official go-go dancers:

The Rt. Hon. Penelope Halfpenny, Ms. Kitty “Meow” McMuffin of “The Lusty Lady”, direct from “The Wookey Hollow”, Belmont Road, Liverpool, Miss Candy Mugglestone, The Tersichorean Stylings of Miss Felicity Sisters, Her Royal Highness, Jacinta Trimble, the Duchess of Lexington, The Baroness Astrid von Koolhaven, Ms Sventlana Smashkahnova, Susie Darling and the former Mother Superior of Our Lady Of Perpetual Torment, Dixie De La Fontaine.

They left not a tail feather unshaken...

We would also like to acknowledge the tireless efforts of all of our production team, crew and drivers.

Without you, we are but stringless puppets...

But thanks go most of all to our participants, contestants, protestants, supplicants and especially to the witnesses who didn’t make it to the stage, for their part in the adventure.

We hope we shall see you again, when the Spectacular Spinning Songbook comes to your town in the near future.

Yours through music and mischief. Napoleon Dynamite.