After witnessing the performance of the new Rolf Harris single, Mathew Mackie discovers that prison has not dulled his musical prowess.
He announced his arrival before he arrived, everyone knew he was coming. The air was thick with knowing trepidation. Everyone in the Stafford Prison System quietly asked themselves the same question.
Does Rolf Harris still have it?
Personally, I doubted him, as he strutted onto the stage (cardboard box doubling as one in the commissary). There he was, a true Australian Icon, crumpled, wrapped in prison orange. He gave no introduction, He just dove straight into it.
Then we all knew. Rolf’s back, but don’t call it a comeback.
After explaining to us how he was pioneering a self-professed style of Country-Rock sound, with a heavy backbeat, he demonstrated this by beat-boxing his way through the first few bars. We were informed that the Stafford Prison had rejected his request for instruments.
Those who said Rolf Harris will never make music again must now be humbled. The new Rolf Harris is an experience. No words can describe it. With lyrical bombs, simmered in trite facts such as “Perhaps you believe you’re pretty still, some perfumed sultry wench?” or the visceral “Make him burn, burn, burn. Come and join the feeding frenzy, girls.” Skewering us with his looped sentiment, the rusted catchy hook of: “Make him burn, get your 50-year-old hooks into his dough.”
He questioned us all personally, and our choices, as he hurled himself around the room reading from a tattered scrap of paper gripped in his brilliant fingers.
Rolf’s finale was a island upon itself. Working himself into a trance, jumping around the stage, sailing over the bridge (which would be featuring a steel guitar fed through a drum machine) baiting his detractors, wailing in his familiar twang:
“Climb up out of the woodwork babe, from forty years ago. The climate’s great in Britain now for making loads of dough. You’ve festered down there long enough, time’s right to grab your chance. Clap eyes on a rich celebrity and make the bastard dance.”
At this point, the lights came on. The performance was over. Rolf was picked off the floor and lead back to captivity, bracketed by the wardens as he muttered “Woodworms, coming out of the woodwork.” Like all true artists, he left us with something to take home, something to unpack as we drove home to our safe lives. In risking his parole, what did Rolf actually mean?
Rolf Harris is currently looking for a record company who shares his vision, and steadfastly promises to record it, fitting around his timetable.