Twink at the CAT Club

Feature | The Blind Pig, Pontefract | Written by Allan Wilkinson | Photographs by Tony Walsh

The Blind Pig, a secluded and unassuming venue in the heart of Pontefract, provided just the right atmosphere for The CAT Club tonight, it being one of the club’s new homes after the sudden departure from the nearby Tap and Barrel, the club’s former home. If the old place exhibited countless artifacts signifying the years of serious music worship held there, including the array of signed LP sleeves mounted on the walls and a stage area resembling The Old Curiosity Shop, then the new place is sparsely decorated in comparison. A wine cellar, hidden deep beneath the madding crowds makes for a suitable venue for this sort of activity; it has the feel of an exclusive club.  Rev Reynolds plays the host well, a seasoned Muso who makes it his business to ensure everyone gets a good seat and that everyone is well informed of what’s going on from the start. Never without his clipboard, Rev prefers that your mobile phone is switched off and that your attention is switched on, all of which makes for a comfortable ride for all those who want to take the trip.

In the hot seat tonight is one of our favourite characters from the heyday of Britain’s psychedelic scene; a drummer whose hands are ready to take a snare whenever duty calls, a musician of legendary status, whose tenure with such outfits as The Pretty Things, Pink Fairies and Tomorrow is well documented.  Not for a single moment does Twink (real name John Alder) give any indication that he’s sticking around, as he approaches the stage area remaining wrapped up warm throughout, attired in a pink scarf, a black American Police baseball cap and matching gloves, his prominent beard adding to the insulation. The soiree begins with a round of routine inquiries, largely concerning the Pretty Things’ 1968 ‘concept’ album SF Sorrow, courtesy of Jason Barnard, presenter of the Strange Brew podcast series. I imagine Jason would have rather been in the audience watching intently, instead of sitting in the spotlight firing questions at his guest, but he knew there was a job to be done and a good job he made of it too.  Twink makes a good interviewee and there’s little difficulty in warming to the musician immediately, which is largely due to the fact that he’s generous and humble and speaks highly of his peers, especially those who he has worked with over the years. He seems as far removed from the showbiz rock star stereotype as you can possibly imagine, as he reminisces about the heady days of Psychedelia’s golden era.

After the interview, the audience was treated to a play through of the entire SF Sorrow LP, as always via a vintage spinning black 12″ disc, with the gatefold sleeve on display in front of the turntable, which was raffled off as soon as the last note of “Loneliest Person” faded to an end and the stylus found its way back to its arm rest.  

During the Q&A that followed the play through, Gita Renik who was in the audience asked the musician to clear up something that has been bothering her for several decades, as she inquired “Do you remember that Séance we held with Marc Bolan, David Bowie, Ronnie Wood and Rod Stewart all those years ago?” “I do” replied Twink. “Well was it you who moved the glass?” A gem of a question. Speaking warmly of his friendship with the late Syd Barrett, founder member and chief songwriter of the early Pink Floyd, Twink was keen to drive home the fact that contrary to the myths and legends surrounding the troubled genius, by the early 1970s, Syd was just like everybody else, having recovered from his darker period, which effectively led to him being kicked out of the band. Little nuggets of information like this are priceless and debunking such myths reveals something just as interesting and entertaining as the myths themselves. 

If every silver lining has its cloud, then on this occasion it would have to be the fact that I didn’t win the raffle prize, a pristine copy of the SF Sorrow LP, which had been staring us in the face all evening. My envy turned a curious shade of green, not even recognised in any Pantone book, as the winning number was read out. An otherwise thoroughly entertaining evening of music and chat.

https://www.henrysmithbrewery.uk/the-cat-club/