On my visit to London last week I took in a rare screening of Lawrence of Belgravia, followed by a Q & A with Lawrence himself and the film’s director Paul Kelly, at the Regent Street Cinema.
If you’re not familiar with Lawrence, or the film, that’s not unusual. I was at an event in Liverpool last month, his name came up and The Charlatans’ Tim Burgess asked the audience, “does anyone here know who Lawrence is?”
Three of us did. Sitting on the back row, like the cool kids we aren’t and never will be. It’s a lonely path we tread, us Lawrence fans. But we kind of like it that way.
Lawrence of Belgravia is the final ‘London film’ made before The Shard was built, showing the landscape of a city very different to now, important in itself.
But it is also more than a mere rock documentary covering the ups and downs of a cult icon’s life. An icon who feels he should be better known than he is, world famous in fact, and with a supermodel wife to boot. His ambitions for glory are met with scoffs by some who don’t get it, but totally understandable to us who appreciate him.
Carefully and respectfully following our Lawrence as he deals with personal issues and getting the latest record from his band Go-Kart Mozart, On The Hot Dog Streets, (released back in 2012), off the ground, Lawrence of Belgravia is an important visual – audio document of a man written about rarely, but name dropped often. Revered by passionate people, he’s a hero. On the night of the Q & A, hosted by Dickon Edwards, grown men were tearful and fidgety. Giddy to breathe the same air.
Walking in, we were all handed a gift. “Here is a badge from Lawrence,’ we were told. “It is terribly important you wear it.”
When Lawrence, Paul and Dickon came on the stage, Lawrence was the only one without a badge pinned to his chest. It felt like we were all in a fan club; an emotion not too far from the truth.
Dickon asked Paul Kelly if the film was about authenticity, so much footage in it of vinyl records, mixing desks in studios…
“No,’ said Paul. “This film is about Lawrence.”
Yes, indeed it is.
Lawrence talked about hat shopping, going AWOL for months during filming, anything and everything.
He was asked by the audience if he’d ever get married. “I don’t have sex anymore. Too old for all that,” he said. “I’m asexual now, I think. Unless she’s a millionaire. I’d probably go for someone like that.”
On his disapproval of the internet and refusal to have it at home – please buy the film and watch it, his views on the internet at top notch – “too many wires, everywhere. Hate wires”.
How about going wireless then? “Nah.”
He told us that Cherry Red records are re-releasing the Felt albums later this year, describing them as “your last chance” to access them with the design for each exactly how he wants. He’s holding back signing off on everything until he’s happy, the tease. Good news is, there is a new Go-Kart Mozart album in March 2017 and there will be gigs around the UK.
He’s not a modest man about his musical output. His favourite Felt record is famously, “all of them”.
At the end of Lawrence of Belgravia, it hurts when he wonders aloud about why he’s been a “failure”, because fame and financial rewards haven’t come his way. I found myself shouting at the telly when I first saw the documentary, BLOODY HELL LAWRENCE YOU ARE NOT A FAILURE YOU DOUFUS. So tonight I was made up that he conceded yeah, ok, he’s a creative success.
Because that’s it, exactly.
And afterwards, when I told him how much I love On The Hot Dog Streets, he smiled.
“Yeah,’ he said. “I love it too.”
Glad to hear it. But really, I expected nothing less.