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I played football with Weather Report

John Bisset, Scotland (UK)


 I was living in Edinburgh at the time having only just returned from a 9 month stay in Australia. I had loads of time to sit back & decide on my next move; so you could say I was kind of chilling out. One lazy Friday morning in a neighbour's apartment I was browsing through an old copy of the "New Musical Express" when I came across the advert. WEATHER REPORT-LONDON HAMMERSMITH ODEON then the date. It was only after the initial shock had passed that I realised that the date was THAT VERY DAY!!!

Immediately I sprang into action and within half an hour my concert ticket, flight to London and overnight bag were taken care of and my taxi was on the way. The ticket office in London insisted that the ticket was picked up at the venue by 4pm; so I was a man in a hurry!! I got there with an hour to spare.

There was no point in going into central London so I thought I'd take in the sights and sounds of Hammersmith. As I walked away fron the venue I could hear music so I walked towards a large side entrance. I expected to be turned away by this guy walking out, but he simply put his finger to his mouth and said "stay quite, they're recording". Before I knew where I was I was standing at the side of the stage watching the film crew for the "South Bank Show" record WP playing "Singapore". I haven't seen the tape for over 15 years, but if you have a copy, that's me with the white t-shirt on at the side of the stage as the boom camera sweeps across the stage. If the quality of the recording was higher resolution you'd also notice my mouth hanging open in awe! After a while the music stopped, people started moving equipment around and it was obvious that I was in the way. So off I went in search of food.

When I arrived back at the venue it was still too early to get in. While I was pacing around impatiently I glimpsed through a narrow gap in the buildings, Wayne Shorter pacing around in much the same manner as I was. Off I went down the side of the building, again fully expecting to be thrown back out onto the street. Before I knew it I was shaking Wayne Shorter's hand, thanking him for all the pleasure his music had given me over the years. He was very polite and commented on my Scottish accent. So I recounted the events of the day to him. Amazingly, he was taken aback that I had gone to such great lengths to get there. To me it seemed like only the natural thing to do under the circumstances. At that point Joe Zawinul arrived along with a young woman who turn out to be their manager. Wayne Shorter said something like "hey Joe this is John and he's come all the way from Edinburgh to see the show". I'll never forget Joe's answer......He grunted "huh, serves him right!". I wasn't offended and laughed so hard I almost choked.

Joe Rossy and Victor Bailey appeared, picked up and kid's plastic football and attempted to play basketball with it. It wasn't nearly bouncy enough so they gave up pretty quickly. Then the man himself, like the true European that he is, started to tap the ball around. I was and still am a football addict and within a minute we were playing 20 yard passes to eachother like we'd been in the same team for years (okay I'm exaggerating).

At one point I said something to him like, "I see your feet are as educated as your hands!". He seemed to like that and we played and chatted happily for about 15-20mins. The manager, in the meantime was taking photos. Now, my only regret was I didn't take my own camera (especially stupid because I'm a photographer) but I'd left it at home in the rush. If anyone knows who that woman might have been or if she's looking into the website, PLEASE dig out photos and send me some copies.

Soon it was time for the band to go in and warm up. Wayne Shorter told me I must come in for the after gig party, so off I went.

The concert itself I'm not going to attempt to describe. That level of virtuosity creates a level of communication far more profound than this writer can attain with words. After the applause died down I was in such a daze of pleasure that I forgot about Wayne Shorter's invitation and off wandered into the night. It was only after I arrived in central London that I realised that I hadn't thought about where I was going to stay. A couple of phonecalls later I was on the tube heading for Clapham Junction.

My friend didn't know Weather Report's music, but that didn't stop me from boring him with every detail of a night that had totally overwhelmed me. With hindsight I didn't regret missing out on the after gig party because I would have been like a starstruck teenybopper at a Spice Girls' party.

I don't normally like living in the past but the three occassions that I saw Weather Report were the most profound musical experiences of my life. Recounting that day onto paper for your webpage is a pleasure, especially if it gives me a chance to see again their inspiring performances on video.

John Bisset 28/4/00



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