I had been worried that I’d lost the programme for Eric Clapton’s 1990 Journeyman Tour. I couldn’t remember the last time I saw it, well actually I could remember seeing it when I moved to our house up the hill in 1999 but I couldn’t recall if that was the last time. Probably it was, as I’ve now gone through a couple of boxes of bachelor-era Rustichello-artefacts and found the programme amidst a collection of Ayn Rand essays entitled Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal; a box of unlabelled 5.25in floppy discs and some pottery that my Mum did when she took a WEA course in the eighties. There were also programmes from a fair few eighties tours that I went to with my Dad.
There’s the A Momentary Lapse of Reason official Pink Floyd tour souvenir programme (that’d be opposed to the unofficial, Roger Waters, pirate tour souvenir I guess,) a When Loves Comes to Town tour book and a Brothers in Arms programme from our attendance at the eighteenth of twenty one consecutive shows at the Sydney Entertainment Centre in March 1986. My Dad was a fiend for programmes, though he didn’t keep them. I recall him letting Sputnik cut up endless pictures of Don Burrows and the Australian Jazz Orchestra when we visited him when she was about two. This is kind of odd because he was an awfully sentimental bloke.
I emulate this but unlike my Dad I bought t-shirts and t-shirts, like prayer flags, are designed to decay and fall apart into the wind of wishes. The shirts I got from concerts in the mid to late eighties are long, long gone though I do hoard and attempt to extend the longevity of my favourite shirts. I wore my Rage against the Machine at the Big Day Out t-shirt for almost two decades. I wore my Gunners t-shirt for almost as long. But my Radio Birdman shirt is still neatly folded, ditto Steve Earle and the Dukes shirt from the Jerusalem tour. I will always remember my Dad not buying me a Bruce Springsteen t-shirt in 1985.
But here in front of me is the Journeyman programme, and it’s nothing at all really. There’s a little bio of the most anodyne kind, lots of pics of Eric Clapton with George Harrison; Mick and Keef; Buddy Guy; Robert Cray; Elton John; his tour band mates. There’s a very strange little infomercial regarding Clapton’s sponsorship by Gianni Versace (“I feel that his clothes bridge the gap between the fire of rock and roll and the purity of classical tailoring” –er, yikes) and the stills from his recent filming of “Pretending.” There are also a number of shots where Eric and his band mates pretend to rob a stage coach, which are meant to be a reference to the whole journeyman thing.
All in all, rereading the programme this morning, there was nothing to save. There’s certainly nothing that you’d need to read twice, or once. It doesn’t even tell me when I saw the show I saw. I figure it must have been November 1990 but the details are pretty hazy. I have a shallow memory of it being a rainy night and we drove down to Canberra. I think it was at the Theatre attached to the Casino.
I have a pretty clear memory of B.B King opening but I also have a vision of Tommy Emmanuel promoting his album. B.B king was with U2 on the When Loves Comes to Town tour so he probably wasn’t in Canberra that night. Maybe it was Tommy Emmanuel. I don’t recall a single track, or a single moment of Clapton on stage. He must have played all the usual things, “Sunshine of Your Love” and the like, finishing up with “Layla” I suppose. That’s what I had gone to hear and I don’t recall being disappointed.
The thing I remember is that as we walked through the Casino foyer from the car park to the Theatre we saw him. We saw Eric Clapton standing just over there shaking hands with someone or other. My Dad and I didn’t stop; we went through without even deviating course to get a closer look. He was wearing a baggy beige suit and thick brown round glasses. His mouth was narrow and his hair fell down across his forehead. He looked like a man who was being polite.
This memory and the tour programme are all that remain of that night in Canberra. It was the last time I went to a concert with my Dad.