Memories of Mo

There’s really only one thing I can write about this month: the sad passing, a couple of weeks ago, of Nic Mozart.

Nic had been in the grip of the degenerative brain disease, Pick’s, for the last couple years. (Oddly, the same rare condition was the one which did for Pat Moran.) The prognosis was not good for Nic and as  I understand it his condition was steadily worsening – though thankfully he was not fully aware of this himself. In the end a bout of pneumonia and following complications led to his death at the age of 61.

Nic was astonishingly young when he began playing professionally in the Misunderstood and then, of course, with VdGG. His bass playing, though, was mature, authoritative and direct from the outset.

This was all the more so when he rejoined the band in its VdG incarnation.At this point he threw himself into a world of flange and distortion which, not for the last time, propelled his bass into a lead role.

The VdG period was a particularly headlong and helter-skelter one, with the playing powerfully reflecting the nature of the lives we were living. Later, the same kind of thing obtained in the K group era and it’s not mere accident that Nic should have been so deeply involved in these schemes. It goes without saying that I loved playing with him: he was ever reliable and intuitive and also capable of pulling off a surprise move.

Memories of so many moments with Nic have come back to me in the last few days, vivid and bright. Often the best communications with him were wordless and those gestures of a raised eyebrow, an affirmative thumbs up, still stick with me. However, I don’t intend to get into telling stories of Mo-ness and of my times with him, though there are many, most with some element of his wry and sometimes dry approach to the strangenesses of life, particularly on the road.

He was always in the Now, but simultaneously always looking out for what might be Next, Elsewhere. A tapping foot, a drumming finger, a quick gasp on the cigarette and he’d be out of  the door before you knew it. Always, though, with a bit of deduction one could trace a line of logic back into what was driving his current search.

Dear, dear Mo.

We’d had our fallings out over the years, of course. For what it’s worth, it’s a matter of some relief to me that none of these were outstanding the last time we saw each other, some time before the onset of the Pick’s.

I couldn’t be there for his funeral but at the time it was happening was able to raise a glass to him, looking out on a cloudless sky and a deep blue sea. At this moment I felt very close to his flown soul.

So adieu Nic, who coined as good a definition of touring life as I’ve ever heard: “consuming and being consumed.” Now all the hours and times are eaten up

My final and enduring image of Nic will be not one of the  nods, winks, smiles of the social life…but his eyes fixed in tense concentration, head thrust slightly forward, steady at stage left. And here come those blasted out opening bass chords of “Last Frame”.

He was often complicated, enigmatic, mysterious.

But above all Nic was ever, wonderfully, Pretty Keen.