Sunday, February 17, 2008

Johnny Cash in Cardiff

1968 was a significant year for Johnny Cash: he gave up amphetamines and barbiturates; he found God; and he got hitched to June Carter. Just a few months after their wedding the happy couple wound up at the Capitol Theatre in Cardiff on tour.

Carter sang a few bluegrass numbers which went down well. Carl Perkins of Blue Suede Shoes fame was also on the bill. He played a rocking version of Mean Woman Blues which delighted the audience. And then Johnny Cash took to the stage.

Marriage had obviously mellowed him as his set consisted of a laid back mixture of country and r'n'b. The audience was apparently much taken by his Southern drawl and his just-got-out-of-bed demeanour. The highlight of the evening was his rendition of The Legend of John Henry's Hammer. For an encore Cash, Carter and Carl Perkins performed together.

It's worth noting that in 1968 Cash was generally considered unfashionable. Young music fans were into rock, psychedelia and soul rather than 'outdated' country and western. Consequently his Cardiff audience was largely made up of adults not teenagers.

At the bottom of the bill that night was a young pop singer called James Royal. The promoters had put him on the bill in an attempt to attract the younger generation. How did Cash's Welsh fans treat this representative of the modern era? Why they heckled, booed and shouted at him of course. Well, you wouldn't expect devotees of the ultimate outlaw performer to give the boy an easy ride would you?