It seems like a long time ago now.
All of it.
“Violent Men” for the first time.
The Melody Maker tour at the Garage on Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow.
Supporting Morrissey, specifically at the Civic Hall in Motherwell.
Buying “This World and Body” from Sleeves in Kirkcaldy.
Somehow getting a promo copy of “Miyako Hideaway”.
Then the years in between…so little good, at least from the outside, and so much that was bad.
A long time ago.
A different time.
A different place.
A different space.
A different person?
Both of us.
Now here we are in a little bar in Edinburgh on a cold, dark night in the shadow of the castle and with the streets around us filled with people too young to remember.
Poor them with youth on their side, they won’t be able to look back on Ed Sheeran like I’m looking back on Marion tonight.
Not just looking back but looking forward…hoping, maybe praying, that this could be the end of one thing and the start of another thing.
On my way to the venue I pass a couple heading into town and overhear the girl say, “But Colin, you tell me these stories about death and then I go home and worry even more about dying and it’s horrible for me.”. I can’t help but think she would be better served by coming along to listen to Jaime Harding tonight…he understands her fear much more clearly than Colin.
The crowd is the usual unusual…gig blokes desperately tugging the last few strands of hair into something they think might pass for a style and still clad in the one band t-shirt that lets everyone know how much indier they are than thou, a clutch of too young to remember goth girls with more style than I remember ever having at their age, friends of the support band, rogue Smith’s fans, people with hope in their eyes and one or two true believers.
Keeping the faith.
In its own way.
The venue is a cave under the streets of Edinburgh’s old town…it’s small, dark and cramped. Like my heart.
In its own way.
There is a woman near the stage dancing to the heavy metal rawk being played while we wait…she’s dancing like American girls in Motley Crüe videos. At the end of each song she applauds as wildly as if the band were playing live.
In her own way.
And then the music stops.
And then the music starts.
“Toys For Boys” punches a hole in my soul and I’m grateful for the wound. After a couple of difficult years, after the tribulations and trials, after the pain and the hurt this song serves as a testimony to the fact that the past is in the past and we can all look forward.
The voice is as honest, pure and powerful as it was then and it feels good to hear it again.
The crowd of strangers are bound together by their love of the music of course but there is another love in the room…a love for Jaime Harding. You can feel it. People throwing their arms in the air and raise their voices in unison to let him know exactly how they feel.
I’m looking carefully at Jaime as he sings…maybe looking more carefully than I’m listening…I want to see if he’s really here or if he is just in the room. At one point I make eye contact and I see something in his eyes…a light, a sparkle, a flicker of joy.
Then we get a triumphant triumvirate of songs that bring tears to my eyes…”Fallen Through” and “The Collector” are fabulous but “Miyako Hideaway” is something else altogether. The biggest hit they never had.
The band that Jaime has put together are tight…guitar playing that chimes, shimmies and soars, bass that pulses and throbs and a drummer who looks like he’s just left The Brian Jonestown Massacre and who plays like an animal.
The set finishes, after the glories of things like “Time” and “Vanessa” as well as new music (oh yes), with a blistering version of “Sleep” and the magnificent “The Powder Room Plan”…two songs that deserve to be played on a loop in the reception room of Heaven. They both highlight how good a writer Jaime is and make me drop to my knees to implore whatever God’s may be listening to protect him and inspire him.
Of course that’s over the top.
But the thing is…I sort of mean it. Marion were a fine band, people loved them. Don’t believe me? There is a couple here tonight who have flown from Barcelona specifically to see Marion.
After all this time.
Because the songs that Jaime wrote were honest, pure and brutally honest. They touched people. Really touched people.
Don’t believe me?
I saw a man thanking Jaime tonight with tears in his eyes. Real tears. Raw emotion. When he told Jaime how much he meant to him he meant it. Really meant it.
I loved Marion then.
I love them now.
I want to love what comes next…and I have a funny feeling that the story isn’t finished yet and my sincere desire is for the the next chapter to be one filled with love.
Marion are currently on tour across the UK…catch them where you can.