43. Stay with me

 

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The first gig I saw was The Faces. At the Kursaal in Southend. I was either 15 or 16. Went on my own, wearing baggies and a tank top. I can recall waiting and watching the crowd with deep fascination, delighted to be losing my musical cherry. Everybody standing. Almost all older than me, and appearing many notches more sophisticated. Was that the smell of dope?

The band came out kicking footballs, and launched into a raunchy opener. Colourfully trousered Rod Stewart strutting around the stage, flicking his hair. The volume from the guitars and drums was ear-splitting, and the bass connected my head to my toes. People began to shake and dance. The women more fluidly than the men. The Faces knew how to rock, it seemed, to my lilywhite virgin ears.

Maggie May was played at some stage, exuberantly, but ‘Stay with Me’ was the highlight. Everything about it from start to finish celebrating the one-night stands that were guessably at the heart of the band’s social and sexual life.

 

In the morning
Don’t say you love me
‘Cause I’ll only kick you out of the door

 

Rod pouting and twirling the mike stand all around the place, scarf flying.

 

You won’t need too much persuading
I don’t mean to sound degrading
But with a face like that
You got nothing to laugh about

 

Ronnie Wood’s dirty slide guitar dancing around Ian McLagan’s bar-room piano.

 

Stay with me
Stay with me
For tonight you better stay with me

Hey, what’s your name again?

 

High energy, getting higher. The song building and building, driven towards the climax by bass and drums that could rip the sound barrier.

 

Stay with me
Stay with me
Just don’t be here in the morning when I wake up……

 

And then suddenly spent, winding down, the ferocity of the guitars easing off and rolling away into a coda of detachment. By the end, Stewart and Wood were sat on the edge of the stage, offering or auctioning their hotel room keys to the best-looking bidders.

A theatre of adulthood. My young eyes and mind took it all in.

 

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