Music: A pitch from the home town
Anthony Clavane is the author of Does Your Rabbi Know You're Here?, a social history of Jewish involvement in English football, which was shortlisted for the 2013 Football Book Of The Year. His first book, Promised Land, won the 2011 Sports Book Of The Year.
Friday 19 December 1997
And now, before we all tuck in to our succulent gammon and pineapple - followed, as is the custom , by individual meringues filled with fresh fruit - a few words from our sponsor. The bigwigs from Philips Speech Processing and Martin's Builders Merchants, eagerly awaiting their corporate nosh in the Legends Lounge, look baffled. Just who is hell is the scruffy, gaunt-looking misfit in the upturned collar? All is revealed by Colchester United's marketing manager: "our very own Steve Lamacq", presenter of Radio 1's "award-winning" Evening Session show, he announces. "Who's Steve Lamarr?" whispers a suit from HP Morris Electrical Services, clearly unaware that the pipecleaner-thin DJ is a legend in his own long overcoat ... the interviewer of the all-swearing, all-bragging, all-boring Oasis brothers ...
It's not very rock 'n' roll, but Steve likes it. Loves it, in fact. A bald-headed man, mobile phone pinned to jug ear, shouts out a facetious "Hellooo, Colchester, how're you doin?". He turns out to be Trevor Dann, head of BBC Music Entertainment.
Ignoring the heckling, snorting and general mickey-taking from the Radio 1 table, Steve says it is a great honour for him to be tonight's Diamond Jubilee Sponsor. And being presented with an autographed shirt is just, well, the icing on the cake. No matter that, only moments earlier, the self-declared "devoted Col U fan of 18 years' standing" was embarrassingly offered a Notts County top. "Very Alan Partridge," sniggers a young female member of the eff em entourage, not quite sure what an award-winning, hip-and-happening, cutting-edge show like theirs is doing in a Division Three hospitality room like this. They're here, in fact, to promote the first in a series of live Evening Session broadcasts "from the provinces". And you don't get much more provincial than Colchester. As non-metropolitan centres of cool go, it's hardly up there with Manchester, Glasgow, Oxford and Bristol, but that is its appeal to Lamacq. Born in the nearby village of Colne Engaine, he frittered away his adolescence trawling Britain's oldest recorded town in search of obscure, post-punk B-sides. Here he reviewed skinny-tie bands for the local paper, distributed his fanzine Pack of Lies and saw Damon From Blue - along with Nik Kershaw and two- thirds of Shakatak, the town's most famous musical export.
"It's the sort of place where people who listen to my show live," he explains. "I empathise with them not only because they're from the sticks, but, between when I was a kid, the John Peel show was a lifeline to me, so I know how they feel. We get a lot of e-mails from kids saying `you're the thing that we reach out to'."
Now he is the standard-bearer of the New-Music-First Radio 1, the co- owner of a greyhound with Damon from Blur and swapper of ironic banter with Peelie during the hand-over slot.
"I want to pay something back to kids who live out in the sticks. It's very hard for kids to get started in somewhere like Colchester - there's never very much going on." The curry-eating, pinball-playing presenter feels duty-bound to give the culturally deprived kids a blast of Cool Britannia.
Back in the Legends Lounge, the mood is celebratory. The U's have won 2-0 but, even more importantly, a local record promoter has just fed Steve a juicy bit of trainspottery information. "There's a Colchester link to Belle and Sebastian," he cries. "Chris Geddes is from Colchester. My god!"
The Evening Session pub quiz, featuring musicians from Placebo and Dubstar, will be live from the Horse & Groom pub, Gt Portland St, W1, London, on Monday. Over the next few months, the show will be broadcast live from Wolverhampton, Cardiff, Manchester and Glasgow.
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