Robert Forster’s gig at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on Friday was a belter. Long-term fans might have been surprised, however, by Robert’s rather muted attire. The trademark canary-yellow safari suit was gone and the sombre grey imagery of The Evangelist album cover (‘captain of industry relaxes at country club’) was sported.
We should not, however, forget Robert’s colourful contribution to rock fashion. Typical of his egregious taste in shirts was the number you can see him modelling (above) on stage at Tower Records, London, on August 25, 1994 (yes, I did tape-record that gig; no, I don’t know how to digitise it).
After many years’ admiring Robert’s shirts, in 1996 I decided to pay tribute to the great man’s fashion sense. Before his gig at The Garage (12 October, 1996) I marched into a charity shop on Chapel Market, interrupted the workers’ shy flirtations and announced: “I would like the vilest shirt you have on offer. It must be so offensive to the eye that middle-aged American tourists would be repulsed by its vulgarity and colour-blind sex maniacs would consider it too outré.”
The young lad broke into a silly grin and scampered downstairs to the stock room. During his foraging the young girl asked me if I was going to a fancy-dress party. Something much more important, I assured her: “I am going to see Mr Robert Forster, international rock star and fashion icon, to whom I am going to offer a shirt as a pagan tribute.”
The lad returned with the three ugliest shirts I’ve seen. Obviously, I chose the worst. At the gig, my friend threw it at Robert. It landed on his mic stand. You will see from the shirt that Robert’s wearing in the picture that the shirt offered to him was in keeping with his “style”.
Robert threw the shirt into the audience. Some bloke right by me caught it. I expect it’s probably mounted in his trophy cabinet as a piece of Rock Memorabilia. At Robert’s next London gig, my friend who threw the shirt got Robert to sign a CD. Following an explanation of his exploits at Robert’s last show, the inscription read in part: “Thanks for the shirt."