John Otway & Wild Willy Barrett
Tuesday 19th April – Tickets £10
The pair first achieved notoriety with an eye-watering performance on Old Grey Whistle Test and subsequent hit single ‘Really Free’ in 1977.
Otway’s heady mix of blind ambition and rank incompetence was to keep this microstar shining for almost two decades despite his ability to turn any situation to his own disadvantage. His autobiography ‘Rock and Roll’s Greatest Failure’ out sold, by a factor of ten, all the records he had released since his hit.
His finest moment came in 2002. Asked what he wanted for his 50th birthday, he requested “A second hit”. A concerted drive, including a poll, scrutinised by the Electoral Reform Society, to select the track, saw “Bunsen Burner” — with music sampled from the Trammps classic “Disco Inferno” and lyrics devised to help his daughter with her chemistry homework — reach the UK number 9 on 6 October, and earned Otway an appearance on Top Of The Pops, BBC Television‘s flagship popular music programme.
Wild Willy Barrett is one of the most accomplished multi-instrumentalists working today, playing acoustic classical guitar with an original style and virtuosity few could match. His musical style is witty and his humour onstage is dry.
2010 saw the publication of John’s latest book, ‘ I Did It Otway ‘, the second hilarious instalment of his biography.
‘… While Otway so unashamedly needs to be loved, Barrett is contemptuously indifferent to adulation and hostility alike. He won’t play along with anybody – certainly not Otway…. Otway makes a joke; Barrett is not amused. This doesn’t sound like a rehearsed routine. One remembers why they split with such regularity. Clearly it was a challenge to make such an atmosphere work, but before too long it as evident that they were succeeding. ‘ Rychard Carrington, Cambridge, 2008
‘… I urge you to see this act before Otway has to retire on account of developing arthritis, or Wild Willy strains his smiling muscles.’ Chester, 2008
‘…Star rating ***
Never mind the Sex Pistols touring again: the real spirit of 1977, not to mention anarchy in the UK, can be found in the persons of Mr John Otway and Wild Willy Barrett. ‘ Edinburgh Festival Review, The Herald, 2008