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  • Writer's pictureJames McGee


A cracking day yesterday (and it's not often you can say that at the moment, right?).

Headed off to Bath for the Steve Van Zandt signing and Q & A, organized by the fantastic Topping bookshop, one of the best independent book stores in the country.

The event was held in Christ Church, a short walk from the city centre.

Having managed bookstores in a former life for both Ottakars and Waterstones, and seen and organized my fair share of signings, this beat every single one of them. It's not often you get to see one of your all-time heroes this close up and to be thoroughly engaged by them for, on this occasion, nearly an hour and a half.

Gotta confess there was a lump in my throat when Steve walked up the aisle to the stage, due in great part to the standing ovation he received from the lucky folk who'd managed to obtain tickets. As you can tell from the above photo (apologies for the quality, by the way; my phone is a piece of sh*t), he was clad exactly as you'd hoped, as if he was about to step out with the Disciples of Soul or with Bruce and the band for a 4 hour gig.

Before he arrived, there were more than a few of us wondering why that chair was placed the way it was. We hoped he wasn't gonna pull a Van Morrison and turn his back on the audience for the entire appearance. We needn't have worried. As you can see, it made perfect sense in the end. As you can also tell, he was totally at ease with the setting.

What can I say? He was brilliant; chatted about everything, from his musical influences and working with Bruce to his anti-apartheid work, his campaigning against wrongful imprisonment in the US, and also for making changes in US school curriculum. Interesting, engaging, knowledgeable, self-effacing, and often very funny, you had the feeling he would willingly have stayed for ages. And in all that time, the affection for him that was coming off the audience (or congregation, in this instance ) would have powered the national grid.

Not surprisingly, he got another standing ovation when he left.

It was just a brilliant morning, and for a short time, the world seemed a much, much nicer place.


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