A celebration of Bill Nelson at 70
- Saturday 1st December 2018 -
To celebrate his 70th birthday, Bill put together his 'Plectronica' live show.
The event was held at one of Bill's favourite Yorkshire venues, the Clothworker's Centenary Hall at the University of Leeds.
Unbelievably, tickets to this show sold out in just 5 hours. Catching the organisers and fans completely by surprise, unfortunately it meant that a great many fans were left disappointed as they were unable to secure tickets due to strict 'Fire Regulation' maximum numbers.
To enable more fans to enjoy the show, Bill decided to offer a live streaming service of the event, this was new territory for both Bill and the organising team, but it seemed to work extremely well.
The show consisted of a live solo set by Bill, who was joined on stage for three numbers by his 'Orchestra Futura' band, featuring Theo Travis (Flutes & Saxes) and Dave Sturt (Bass), plus Bill's special 'Mystery Guest', none other than Harold Budd, who had flown over from America for the event.
1: 'Gloria Mundae'
2: 'I Always Knew You Would Find Me'
4: 'The Eye Of Heaven Shines'
5: 'Beyond Yonder'
7: 'Blue Amorini'
8: 'Golden Dream Of Circus Horses' (With Theo Travis)
9: 'The Institute Of Enchantment' (Department One) (With Orchestra Futura & Harold Budd)
10: 'The Institute Of Enchantment' (Department Two) (With Orchestra Futura & Harold Budd)
11: 'The Antiquarian Futurist' (With Orchestra Futura & Harold Budd)
12: 'A Dream For Ian'
13: 'Beatniks From Outer Space'
14: 'Beyond These Clouds, The Sweetest Dream'
Bill Nelson was a patron of the charity Sara's Hope Foundation.
For this event, Eastwood donated one of their guitars, which Bill decorated.
The guitar was raffled off, raising a great amount for the charity and it meant that a very lucky ticket-buyer took this fantastic guitar home with them.
After the live set, Bill took a short break and then returned to the stage for an interview conducted by event organiser Ian Haydock, covering Bill's recording career.
Ian included reading out tributes from Bill's musician pals including Harold Budd, John Foxx, Laraaji, Kate St John... Read all the tributes here.
Bill was also given a nice surprise...the news that for his 70th birthday present, his fans had clubbed together to buy him a limited edition guitar, a Backlund 'Super-100', which was due for production and would arrive in January 2019. A cardboard cut-out of the guitar was presented to Bill at the end of the interview.
If you have any pictures of the event that you would like to share - please get in touch!
"The audience were, quite simply, wonderful. From the moment I walked on, right through to 'goodnight,' they were extremely warm and very enthusiastic. I couldn't have wished for a kinder crowd and their appreciation went some way to calming my usual nervousness."
"This year was extra special as I was joined by 'Orchestra Futura' for three improvised pieces. And to put the icing on the cake, the trio of Theo Travis, Dave Sturt and myself were joined by very special guest Harold Budd on piano. Harold is one of my oldest and dearest friends and it was a joy to be on stage with him again, (the last time being his 'farewell' concert in Brighton, quite a few years ago.) Harold had flown over from his home in California to attend the concert, initially just to see my performance but generously agreed to sit in with us without any rehearsal."
"Another huge surprise came when it was revealed that a number of fans had got together to fund the purchase of a very special 'Super-100' guitar for me...it seems some very generous fans have solved the problem by purchasing one for me. It will be delivered sometime in January, (once built,) and I'm very much looking forward to playing it. I may even have to set up another performance next year to show the instrument off..."
The Mad Scouser:
Let's get the easy bit out of the way first--Bill was bloody brilliant. I know you're always hypercritical of your own performances Mr N, but from where I sat you were faultless. Too much good stuff to pick out individual tracks, but your collaborations with Dave Sturt and Theo Travis always leave me jaw agape in astonishment at the sheer musicality you manage to produce in each other. There is surely no greater pleasure in life than watching three ridiculously talented musicians combine so well....unless you are one of those three musicians, of course?
After missing last years shindig, I was really looking forward to this one and boy, it exceeded my expectations.
Bill's health issues didn't seem to hamper his ability to put on a terrific performance, attacking each number with gusto and leaving us all mesmerised with his unique style and class as he showcased his guitars with each number.
The Q and A section was expertly handled by Ian Haydock, who is brilliant at these Nelsonica events, along with the rest of the team and Bill comprehensively covered a lot of his history...a lot we all knew, but some new revelations that I haven't heard before...
As someone has said already, it was a great moment when Bill's lovely mum came out and received a very loud round of applause!
Bill's reaction was priceless when he was handed a cardboard cut out of the Buckland Super..."Am I really going to get a real one?" he asked, genuinely surprised!
Another fabulous event and a big thanks to everyone involved in setting it up and helping Bill make it a success.
I was genuinely shocked that Harold Budd was the special guest and I am even more convinced that "Orchestra Futura" should create and release an album.
I was really gripped by the Q&A - I thought Ian did a superb job of posing the questions and did well to focus on some key landmarks within Bill's career. The story about Bill's Dad buying him his first "proper" guitar plus the move from focusing on guitars to synths and back again and the GTHGA recordings were of particular interest.
Most touching were the comments read out from fellow artists. Great to hear the heartfelt comments from all, especially those from Iain Denby, John Foxx and Cabaret Voltaire.
Tremendous to see old friends again and so many who had travelled from across the pond. The amount of American (and possibly Canadian) accents I heard in the crowd was very impressive.
A truly splendid evening in a great setting.
Bill played with passion and verve throughout. What more could you want? Except for about 3 more hours!
I am so thrilled that I was finally able to make one of these events after years of pining away looking at photos of all the fun and scrambling to order the special cds before they were sold out.
Bill was spectacular, it has been nearly 40 years since I last heard him in New York, but as Gloria Mundae began, and the soaring notes of the ebow engulfed us in their luxurious velvety swoon, I teared up. It was profoundly emotional.
Thanks to so many for making me feel welcome. I hope there will be more events in the future and that I may have the opportunity to tell the great man to his face how much his music and his conviction have meant to me through the years.
I'd like to add my thanks to all. It was a wonderful day and evening. The performance was sublime, as always. Like Eric and others, I was tearing up at times. So special.
And there are almost no words to express how amazing it is to be in the company of so many incredible, friendly, kind, generous and fun people. From Bill and Emiko, to Dave and Theo, to Ian and the entire team, to every single fan who was there...everyone was fantastic. I hated for the day to end.