By George Matlock
It was ever too short. The “Father” of Elton John’s name, Long John Baldry joined other 1960s crooners The Manfreds, Chris Farlowe, and Colin Bluntstone on stage at the London Palladium, UK, on June 9, 2002.
LJB’s set consisted of four songs, for which the encore was his finest moment, the sensational hit before Elton quit LJB’s Bluesology backing band – Let the Heartaches Begin. The song was all the more poignant because it was “my” song. Let the Heartaches Begin was number one the week I was born, ehem, December 1967.
LJB was simply superb, in his 20-minute set, daubed in a long black coat (he no longer wears kaftans) black stetson-style hat and sporting a white scarf draped around his shoulders. He was still able to belt out the higher notes, and talk in a manner to shame Leonard Cohen or Lee Marvin’s Wandering Star. LJB leaned forward a lot during is set and looked tense, as any artist worth their salt should be to mete out the best performance. But he was very much in his element when he saw his family rocking in the Royal box…he mentioned his “lovely niece Sharon” among them.
Paul Jones had also lost none of his charm and youth, as he fronted his band from the 1960s. This was the Manfred Mann Band minus Manfred. The band originally disbanded in 1969 after a strong of UK hits, including their best known 5-4-3-2-1. The hits were on parade at the Palladium too, home to the 1960s and 1970s UK television series Sunday Night at the London Palladium. It was Sunday, it was Palladium, but the TV crews were absent 30 years on. References were made to that hit programme, affectionately recalled by any artist summoned to perform before Her Majesty The Queen.
As we were entertained to Out of Time by the now-plump Chris Farlowe, I caught up with Elton’s producer Gus Dudgeon, sitting a couple of rows behind me and an old pal of LJBs. Gus and his wife Sheila appeared to enjoy the night.
LJB and the boys continue their tour in Croydon tonight and wind up the tour in Leicester on June 25, 2002. For tour details: