By Graham Hiley
When 10CC played Wickham two years ago, it is fair to say it was something of a step into the unknown.
Even though they have a huge catalogue of instantly recognisable hits, it was a slight departure from the event’s traditional folk roots.
With only Graham Gouldman in situ from the original classic line-up, festival goers were entitled to wonder whether the band would still have the edge which made them one of the most iconic bands of the Seventies. Or would they have developed into almost a tribute band going through the motions?
There was no need to worry. Within moments of setting foot on stage, 10CC had blown away the audience – and any lingering doubts.
They produced a storming set which proved to be one of the highlights of the four days, arguably topped only by the emotion-packed set from Wilko Johnson who at the time thought he was about to die of cancer.
Pity Dexy’s. They had the unenviable task of following 10CC who played with such finesse and fire that they are now back – as Sunday headliners!
Gouldman smiled: “I remember it very well. It was a really good gig for us and for the audience. They could tell we were enjoying it and that rubbed off on them and then again on us.
“It was a really good event and a great night and we are looking forward to coming back and doing it all again.”
Even at 69, Gouldman still has as much passion for touring as he ever did – and he still never tires of playing the songs people want to hear including: I’m Not In Love, Dreadlock Holiday, Rubber Bullets, Donna, Art for Art’s Sake, Wall Street Shuffle, The Things We Do For Love… and many more.
Gouldman added: “I don’t need to play these gigs; I do it because I still love it.
“A few people have come up to me after concerts and sounded almost surprised as they said I looked like I was enjoying it! I would not do it if I was not still having fun.
“In any case the audience would soon suss you out if you were going through the motions.
“I love the reaction when we play the hits so I would never not do that. I feel we have a duty to play certain songs. That is what the audience have come to hear and that’s what we give them.”
For teenagers in the mid-Seventies, it was impossible not to be caught up in the excitement over 10CC. If you did not own a copy of Sheet Music, you were excluded from all playground conversation.
Although none of the band ever craved superstardom, that is very definitely where they were heading, taking over the mantle from the Beatles with a wide variety of edgy rock songs all with their own unique style.
All four members of the band were talented writers as well as musicians and childhood friends. Gouldman and Eric Stewart would write the more catchy numbers while Kevin Godley and Lol Creme would write the more avant-garde songs.
It was a blend which worked to perfection – and yet one which ultimately ripped them apart. At the height of their success with a golden future mapped out, Godley and Creme went their own way to follow the path less trodden.
Even now, 10CC still figure prominently in social media polls about which bands fans would most like to see re-form. Sadly, that is not going to happen any time soon.
“I think the phrase is ‘Don’t hold your breath’. I would say the chances are very, very remote,” said Gouldman who understands the need for the question and the interest from the fans but clearly feels there is little of substance to add now.
He agreed: “It is a tragedy we are not still together and it would be great if it were possible. I am always up for things like that but I am not sure about the others.
“You are preaching to the converted here – but no-one else wants to do it. Kevin and I speak regularly and in fact he features on a video in the show we are taking on tour where we will be playing the whole of the Sheet Music album.
“I did see Lol a couple of years ago when we were recording in the same studios and we had a good chat but that’s it. We can shut the door on that now.”
Although he tries not look back and wonder what might have been, Gouldman did concede that somehow the split should have been avoided.
He added: “I do feel sad. We were all very upset when it happened and we all did everything we could to try and find a solution.
“We were under a lot of pressure to get a new album out and to tour. It had become a big machine with a lot of commitments.
“Kevin and Lol had other things they wanted to do and it was not fun for them any more. Maybe we should have indulged them so they could come back. It is just such a waste.”
Now Gouldman flies the flag alone within the band and yet the sound is as fresh and as dynamic and as irresistible as ever.
“We have been together in this format for 12 years so it should be seamless,” laughed Gouldman who is still recording his own material and plans to release it on download next year.
“I am still as passionate about music as ever. I am a lot older than I feel so I am just going to keep going.”
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