Alton Towers: Curiosity Killed the Cat & others

Ben Volpéliere Pierrot (Curiosity killed the Cat)

Hot Spot of nostalgia @ 30st Anniversary of the Alton Towers Festival  (amongst new bands that is, of course) 

Staffordshire, May 24  2010

Many friends desperately told me to come yesterday ’cause this would be THE festival of the month. I’ve made a tiresome number of miles last week all across the country so offering my free Sunday for a festival might not be the most logical solution. But when I read one specific name on the setlist, I decided to come: Curiosity Killed the Cat

Here he was again: the guy with a huge hat, formerly known as one of the first white Rap artists in Soho, London: Ben Volpeliere-Pierrot, front man of Curiosity killed the Cat. Last week he turned 45, His voice still is quite right.The guy maintained to have chill moves, little less swift than 23 years ago, but still sufficient to the eye of a willing audience.

amongst the first fusionists of their kind...

Self confidence and a nice rhythmic feel kept him going even though he didn’t have a lot of audience. Once so celebrated (also abroad) he used to sing at warehouse parties in London, mid 80s. Later he was awarded for his Album “Keep your Distance” 1987 with catchy danceable jazz fusion songs like:  “Misfit”. Yesterday of course they played this composition  again and the chord sequence still was interesting to hear. I remembered the Video clip to this song. It was made by Andy Warhol in 1986. They didn’t make him a request, the Master himself made a proposal to them! Beware that this was only short before Warhol died in ’87

True, their work sounds outdated (my friends walked away during the show). But Curiosity  (Ben, Nick, Julian and Migi) once were amongst the first fusionists of their kind. In an interview those early years, Ben and the bass player, Nick Thorpe described their origin as late 60s/early 70s jazz. “Name and Number” however, had a strong R & B influence and was one of my favourite songs of its genre.

Serious musicians they were for sure. Since I saw them at their reunion tour in 2001 however, they haven’t really improved, I have to admit.

Ancient Rock heroes from their graves of oblivion?
Other icons of the golden decade of 80s rather disappointed me at this Festival, like Kim Wilde. Her voice didn’t put that spell on me like it used to do. She stood there, unfocused, trying to impose a Party feeling on her audience by holding the mic towards them for the chorus of “Cambodia”. Would anyone still have realized that the song is about a love, lost by an atrocious war?

Some other songs that Kim sang, came out in a better way, like the Supremes’ classic “You just keep me hanging on”. She had the luck to have a larger crowd facing her than the small number of people gathered around Curiosity killed the Cat.

Also other stars, for example Rick Astley and Bananarama didn’t really surprise me like they used to. I do appreciate the idea however, of raising ancient rock heroes from their graves of oblivion... They were the ones on top short after the Alton Towers Festival was born, let’s say in the Bananarama years. The fact that they’ve grown older, suits at least some of them.

After all I didn’t fully regret the long journey to see some musicians that we won’t see that often anymore. Lucky I am, no appointments this week so I can spend time in my cottage writing poems and hearing true Ballads for a change.

Keith  L. Chester

Rick Astley