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Giant Steps
It's ten years since the Boo Radley's album "Giant Steps" came out, and there's a FANTASTIC retrospective of it at the Brave Captain website. It's got "sleeve notes" for all the songs by the band, pictures, press reviews, and, it appears, demo versions too! It's GRATE!

I've not listened to the demo versions yet (hey! demo versions and sleevenotes, that's a good idea isn't it? Someone should put that on their album as a CD-R extra some day!) because I am, for about the 1,000,000th time, listening to the album itself. "Giant Steps" is truly and honestly one of THE best albums EVER made by anyone, and is certainly EQUAL in my Top Three Records I Bought When They Came Out (with "Grand Prix" and "If You're Feeling Sinister", tho for really REALLY different reasons). The main thing for me about it is that it's the record I've been trying to make MYSELF ever since I heard it. I know you can't really tell, but honest, it is.

I bought it on tape in Ainley's in Leicester the day before Christmas Eve 1993 - I know this because I'd just had my leaving do for my first Proper Job, and had staggered into town from The Pub to spend my record tokens. I'd read about this album SO many times I thought I'd give it a go - I also bought, also on tape, the second PJ Harvey album. Me and my friend Chris had both been trying to be PJ Harvey since her first album came out, but from hereonin it was Martin Carr all the way for me baby!*

I listened to it loads and loads over the next year, and distinctly remember forcing my friend Simon to listen to it, saying "At last! Somebody UNDERSTANDS!" This is because I thought it sounded like the Voon OPUS "Modern & Vivid", where we had lots of GRATE and LOUD guitar noises, LOADS of songs, and were trying to make whatever sounds we thought were good, rather than the ones we thought we ought. So yes, in that was it was JUST like "Giant Steps" - perhaps the Boo Radleys might have even have BENEFITED from a few more songs about Surfing Monsters and Santa Claus?

Anyway, that's what I loved about it - the sense that a bunch of lads THE SAME AGE AS US had decided to do what the hell they liked, unleash their imaginations and make fantastic NOISES with IMMENSE tunes lashed onto them. It's hard to realise now, but back then the idea of ANY kind of tunes was hard to fathom, and the kind of inventiveness that was UNLEASHED by this record is still pretty much frowned upon - this record has dub, reggae, swooshy noises, samples, homemade samples, GRATE LOUD GUITARS, doo-whop vocals, an entire made up language (I've just discovered) and more untrammelled IMAGINATION than any other record that's been made in the last ten years, and it's all WALLOPED out with such enthusiasm that you can't help STILL getting as excited about what they were doing as the band themselves SURELY must have been at the time. It's utterly utterly brilliant.

Also lovely is the way, on the site, the band talk about each other and the recording with such love. Go and read some of the things they say about each other, it's deeply touching that they went through so much with each other and came out the other end still friends, and still full of RESPECT for each other, also for the actual record they made. SMASHING.

* examples of me trying to do this are LEGION throughout Voon, The Council (especially a song called "Mind The Death(Gigant Suspensions)") and early tapes, but the biggest examples in the old Proper Discog are songs like "Stop Look And Listen", "Born With The Century", "Carol And The Mandolin", "Symbol Of Our Nation", "Fat Was A Feminist Issue", "Make The World Go Blind", and especially "The Pebble And The Boulder", "Everything's Turning Out All Right" and ESPECIALLY especially 300% and more "One Last Party". Oh yeah!

posted by MJ Hibbett, 28.11.03
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Sales: Destination Of Online Album Sales
This is just for sales made online - if we looked at all sales we'd discover that something like 84.13% (roughly) of sales had gone to England, but that's because that's the only country I've done gigs in so far (I'm hopefully coming to Scotland in the new year, and hey! Foreign Nationals! My passport is ready if you want me!), so this shows only those sales carried out online.



What's that? Why yes, the couple of reviews that DIDN'T like the album DID both say that Americans would never understand or want to buy it, didn't they? HA!

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Sales: Point of Sale


Note that ALL retail sales here are from Forever Changes in Sheffield, THE place for MJ Hibbett related sales! I also know for a FACT that there's also been an album sold in Loughborough, but this hasn't made the totaliser yet, so is not included here.

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Because you demanded it!
More STATS! Here's the gig chart for time of the year - note that although Autumn is VERY MUCH the HOT time to ROCK, results are slightly skewed by 1997 figures only being available from September onwards. Still, that still IS my favourite time of the year for the ROCK.


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Gigs By Year
The graph below shows the number of gigs DONE since 1997, split into Solo, Validators, and Duo/Trio gigs.



INTERESTINGLY it should be noted that, apart from Emma, every Validator has been part of at least ONE duo gig. The one with Tim was ESPECIALLY noisy.

posted by MJ Hibbett, 27.11.03
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1997-2003 City League Table Of Gigs Overall
1London (19)
2Leicester (18)
3Derby (10)
4Sheffield (6)
5=Leeds (5)
5=Birmingham (5)
7=Nottingham (4)
7=Winchester (4)
7=Hull (2)
10=Wokingham (1)
10=Oxford (1)
10=Stockport (1)
10=Taunton (1)
10=Warrington (1)
10=Bristol (1)
10=Manchester (1)


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Top Seven Cities For Gigs (Validators)
1Leicester (7)
2Derby (5)
3London (4)
4Nottingham (2)
5Sheffield (1)
5Leeds (1)
5Hull (1)


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Top Eight Cities For Gigs (solo/semi-solo)
1London (15)
2Leicester (10)
3=Derby (5)
3=Sheffield (5)
3=Birmingham (5)
6=Winchester (4)
6=Leeds (4)
8Nottingham (2)


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Top Thirteen Venues
1= Bull & Gate, London (7)
1= Victoria Inn, Derby (7)
3 The Charlotte, Leicester (6)
4= Upstairs At The Garage, London (5)
4= Jug of Ale, Birmingham (5)
6= Lamplighters, Leicester (3)
6= The Boardwalk, Sheffield (3)
7= The Adelphi, Hull (2)
7= Betsy Trotwood, London (2)
7= Physio & Firkin, Leicester (2)
7= Pump & Tap, Leicester (2)
7= Railway Inn, Winchester (2)
7= Sheffield University, Sheffield (2)
7= The Durham Ox, Leicester (2)

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Just the STATS
A while ago I set up a database of GIGS. I did this for many reasons, the most important being that i was BORED, but also because I'd had a lengthy discussion with The Wetness In My Water about what gigs on certain days of the week mean e.g. Fridays and Saturday are Proper Gig Days, Mondays are Singers Nights, Tuesdays are Local Bands and so on. I was trying to impress upon her that my recent GOOD GIGS were due to the general MOVEMENT of my gigs towards Saturdays and, especially, away from Sundays (Sundays are the night you put on EITHER your mates or people who've been begging you for a gig for ages). THUS i entered as many gigs as I could find, going back to the middle of 1997, and FACTED in various bits of information.

And LO! Below is a GRAPH showing that, but for a mighty BLIP last year, the trend of Gig Days is INDEED headed for Saturdays. HOORAH!



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Annotations, Amendments
Annotations for "Girlfriend Alarmed" are now up in the Annotations section, and I've updated the lyrics slightly in the Song Blog itself too. While I'm here - some people may have experienced Deja Vu over the last few days, as if you looked at the site via members.tripod.com/~MJHibbett or mjhibbett.com it will have appeared to stay the same, whilst mjhibbett.tripod.com or mjhibbett.net will have been showing the most up to date... er... updates. This was because of a THING, which i have MENDED. Carry on!

posted by MJ Hibbett, 24.11.03
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Sudden Radio Flurry
How unusual - as well as Everett True playing "Work's All Right", it turns out Lord Litter's playing "Falling For Trust" again on this month's show, and Jim Morrish on Centrifugal in Cork played "Things'll Be Different" last night. Radio Flurry!

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New Song, New Song!
There's a new song over in the Song Blog this afternoon, and excuse me if i say that it is a CRACKER. I'm REALLY REALLY REALLY pleased with this one, it's the first real proper Living In London song I've written (it's nothing to do with actually living in London, it just feels like it's come completely from this bit of my life... even if that's not what it's about either) and goodness ME there has been a LOT of funky dancing in the kitchen to celebrate how much i LOVE it. INDEED there's even been a PERFORMANCE in the kitchen to celebrate, followed by further jigging about and singing it around the house.

It's called "Girlfriend Alarmed", I really like it and - hey! - i hope you do too. It's GRATE!

posted by MJ Hibbett, 22.11.03
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The True Report
You find me at home today - I was intending to do some Working At Home, but GOODNESS ME I'm poorly AGAIN. Not so bad today as I was yesterday afternoon (i spent it in bed, EITHER asleep OR going "ow, everything hurts, my head aches, I can't stand up - OW!"), thanks for asking, but still not at my glorious best. Bleh.

But some pleasantness does creep through the MALAISE, as yesterday I got an email from that nice Mr Everett True*, to say that he'd mentioned me in Careless Talk Costs Lives again, which indeed he has. He reviews the AAS Compilation (and, uniquely for a music journalist, seems to GET the label's name), and elsewhere rather BRILLIANTLY compares I,Ludicrous to ME! HA! That's what I like to see! Bless him, it turns out he also played "Work's All Right" on his radio show too, when he did a show digging through his Extensive 7" Collection. That's especially nice, as until this year his review of that EP (in which he said "... while MJ Hibbett sing's sweetly about the joys of 9-5") was my ONLY proper press mention ANYWHERE. Thanks!

* Coincidentally, a Regular Reader ALSO emailed me about this the day before, suggesting that he thought I must not have seen it as i hadn't been "crowing about it" on this webpage. What DOES he mean?!?

posted by MJ Hibbett, 21.11.03
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Another Live Review
I've just found a review of my gig in Sheffield (accompanied by a very old picture of me looking GINORMOUS) which is Quite Good, and was thus moved to finally set up a page for the Live Reviews. There's lots of reviews out there of some of the older stuff too, which could do with being included - I must say, the design of these pages is starting to BUCKLE a bit under the weight of the new ITEMS, I think a redesign may be coming before Christmas, so enjoy the typewriter whilst you may!

posted by MJ Hibbett, 19.11.03
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AAS: The Future's So Bright We Have To Pull The Curtains
Also at the AAS meeting I was EXCITED when I realised just how much GRATE STUFF we could have coming out next year. Rob passed out copies of his (nearly finished) second album, and by JINGO but it's good - one song called "Black Eyes" is ESPECIALLY wonderful, and the whole thing is FAB. We should also have the Dr Coca Cola McDonalds album, MAYBE PERHAPS something from Johnny Domino (MAYBE), and hopefully a new single from The Frightened Prisoners Of The Kraken too! 2004 is going to be ACE!

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AAS: We're GRATE!
It was off to Leicester last night for an AAS Board Meeting - somehow we'd managed not to have one for six long months, so there was MUCH to discuss. The main ISSUE was to do with our distributors, who stopped talking to us about 18 months and owe us about 250 quid and several hundred records. We've been trying to get in touch with them to get it OUT of them (one time me and Rob went to their offices, and were GRUFF) but all to no avail, and now rumours abound that they've actually gone bankrupt... THUS we had to discuss how to move forward.

The main problem is that most of the money owed doesn't actually belong to us, it belongs to the bands, who had nothing to do with our move to that distributor. After a LENGTHY debate and investigation of finances we agreed that we'd just give the band the money they were owed out of the AAS coffers (the three of us each put in 25 quid a month to fund things, it's the TITHE), and wait until the TITHE had built up enough funds to pay ourselves back the money we were owed ourselves (in my case, from Paypal Sales of the album). When this was decided Rob rang The Chemistry Experiment and I rang The Frightened Prisoners Of The Kraken to tell them the good news and LO! Beauty and JOY flowed through the room, it was LOVELY. Even on the way home this morning my mood was LIGHTENED by the knowledge that we had done the Right Thing, and it felt GOOD.

Unlike the rest of me, which has been DEBILITATED by a) another bloody cold b) not getting any sleep in the night and c) the CURRY we ate to celebrate the above. Ah me! The ROCK, it is a harsh mistress!

posted by MJ Hibbett, 18.11.03
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De-Toured
You find me this morning a little deflated, for LO! i am no longer ON TOUR. Being ON TOUR has been bloody GRATE, and has especially got better the longer it's gone on. I mean, it's going to be nice NOT to have to spend half my weekends sitting on trains and eating DANISH PASTRIES instead of actual food, and I'm really looking forward to being able to actually spend some time at HOME talking to my WOMAN, watching TELLY, bothering the cats and generally eating VEGETABLES, but I've got into the GROOVE of loads of gigs now, and it may take a while to get out of it. Just last night I took one of my (prematurely aged) gig t-shirts out of the washing machine and thought "Aha! I'll save this one and wear it next week at the gig! Oh, hang on..." and a small veil of sadness fell O'ER me.

And to think, I used to SNEER OPENLY at whinging Rock Stars who couldn't cope with not being on tour! Ronnie Woods, i FEEL YOUR PAIN!

This faint sadness is also due to the fact that I had a LOVELY time in Sheffield on Saturday. EVERYBODY in Sheffield is ABSOLUTELY LOVELY. Even when I was Rather Tiddly standing at the tram stop on the way to the station CONFUSED, a huge CROWD of lovely people from Sheffield came together to GUIDE me on my way home, it was LOVELY. METRIC TONNES of really nice people came along to see my gig too, there was a Veritiable Hibbett MASSIVE down the front during the set, it was smashing, and also The Kids seemed to get into it too - after doing "The Lesson Of The Smiths" (surely in any sane world this has to be my next single?) some delightful youth shouted "You're the MAN! You're the MAN!" I pointed out that I was simply A man, but the thought was nice.

Also nice was how LOOKED AFTER I was. Penny, who sorted out the gig, sorted it out BRILLIANT - she used to do Pop-A-Go-Go too, so it was a fair bet all would be ace. Not only did I get paid and not only did i get BEERED, but I got fed too - FANTASTIC! As Mr Chris T-T said afterwards "This is surely the way forward." I concur. Apart from him, for some reason, most of the other bands playing seemed to be RIGHT miserable sods tho, at least the ones that I met were. Maybe being treated NICELY like this on a regular basis goes to people's heads? I, however, was OVERJOYED by the facilities, Actual CA$H, friendly people and general LOVING VIBE going round the audience, it was, as previously stated, LOVELY.

When I'd arrived, earlier in the day, I'd sat on a tram buzzing up to the University, looking around and thinking "This is one of the nicest places in the country", and as I left on the train much later all I could do was agree with myself. Sheffield, it's ACE!

posted by MJ Hibbett, 17.11.03
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Skrull Milk
One of the great achievements of my YOUTH was the fact that I managed to collect the complete John Byrne run of "Fantastic Four."

This probably says more about my youth than anything, but anyway, it is STILL, even in these days of Actually Having A Girlfriend, something that fills me with pleasure, and every few years I like to dig them out and read them through from start to finish. Each issue reminds me of creeping down to "House On The Borderland" in Peterborough and spending my lunch money on a massive pile of comics, then reading them at home pretending not to have bought as many as I actually had...

ANYWAY, whilst mooching around town the other lunchtime, I found myself in the slightly unpleasant Forbidden Planet "Outlet Store", and discovered, in their sale of old comics, a copy of the 1983 Fantastic Four Annual which a) i didn't have and b) i didn't even know existed. Imagine my horror to discover that, all these years, I had been living a LIE! I didn't have the complete John Byrne collection at ALL!!

Needless to say, I handed over my 50p (50p for a comic! And you've still have change from you dinner money for a packet of Polos on the way home!) and DELVED IN. It was WEIRD, having read this particular run of comics SO many times, to find one completely new to me. It was also a bit disconcerting to find how overwritten and, especially, DAFT, it was. In one of the first issues of Fantastic Four they meet THE SKRULLS, a race of shape changing alien baddies, pretending to be the Fantastic Four so as to make them look bad. The REAL Fantastic Four catch them, then go up to the Skrull mothership pretending to be their duplicates. Reed Richards shows Chief Skrull some pictures of some monsters (drawings cut out of a comic!!) and, because Skrulls have such bad eyesight, they shit themselves and FLEE! Afterwards the Skrull Spies, still on earth, transform into COWS and are hypnotised into forgetting who they are...

In this issue one of Johnny Storm (the Human Torch - keep up!)'s girlfriend's friends runs out of GAS (American terminology) near a SPOOKY TOWN where everyone drinks milk, to which she is allergic. The townsfolk BAR her from leaving, and after two days there she realises she could use a payphone to ring for help. Eventually the FF arrive to find that - HORREUR! - the townspeople have all been drinking the MILK that comes from these SKRULLS, and have changed into SEMI-SKRULLS themselves!!! ARGH! And they turn into MONSTERS to fight The Thing! YIKES!

It's something to do with DNA, Mr Fantastic says, but luckily he's mixed up a spray so they fly over town in the FANTASTICAR and spray it over everyone, and all goes back to normal... or is it? As they leave town, they fly past a Military Base (which they hadn't noticed before) which - DAN DAN DAAAR! - is getting a delivery of MILK! WHOO!

Actually, that last bit is pretty cool, and it's also GRATE when the thing is fighting the MONSTERS, and it's quite funny that they bring in the bit about SKRULLS having bad eyesight (which wasn't in the original issue, I don't think), but all in all it felt a bit SPOOKY to be reading a missing piece of something I'd thought I'd finished reading nearly 20 years ago. It also made it glaringly obvious how very MUCH comics WERE written for kids in those days, and how much they're not now, especially for early-adolescent boys who really DIG the kind of MASSIVE over-writing and exposition that went on in them. It's all very hokey and jolly, but I much prefer the Stan Lee version of pulse-pounding pusillanimous hot dogging that those jivin' hepsters in the barmy bullpen bashed out. Face front, True Believers! Also, EXCELSIOR!

I recently found out that "Excelsior" isn't even a proper word! Stan! You lied to me!

posted by MJ Hibbett, 14.11.03
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Bits & Bobs
Today I bring you a selection of individually wrapped news items. To begin with, you'll note annotations are available for "Sod It, Let's Get Pissed", over in the annotations section. Secondly, there's a new review written by the excellent Mr J Kell (can you tell what the review'll be like yet?) over in the reviews section - I'm going to get this tidied up a bit soon, as I'm still thinking about doing a Proper Redesign of the site soon. And finally, prepare yourselves over the next few weeks or days for the possibility of an Exciting Announcement about Actual Merchandise. WHOO!

posted by MJ Hibbett, 13.11.03
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Quaoar and Varuna
Ooh, did you know there were Extra Planets out in SPACE past pluto? I didn't until just now, and these are REAL ones that actually definitely exist, and not just Gigantic Spaceships powered by The Giant Lizards. Or, indeed, GALACTUS.

Anyway, all is flowing along very nicely here at the moment, there's a new song (or at least a FIRST DRAFT) of one over in the song blog (no annotations yet though), with not one but TWO other ones fizzing round my BRANE, called "City Centres" and "Girlfriend Alarmed". That's what they're called so far at any rate, contents may settle during transit. Infuriatingly, last week, I came up with LOADS of really nice tunes, but could think of no words. THIS week words are pouring out of my MIND, but I've forgotten how all the tunes went. OY!

posted by MJ Hibbett, 12.11.03
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Talking of Gigs
More news just in on the FUZZTIVAL gig on Saturday in Sheffield. I shall, apparently, be first on at 3.30pm - COOLIO! This means I don't have to get up super early to get there and can have a couple of beers and watch Chris T-T (at about 6.30 I think) before heading south again. And, of course, it'll all be facilitated by The Trams Of Sheffield. NICE!

posted by MJ Hibbett, 10.11.03
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Where Have All The Gigs Gone?
Whilst uploading the last totaliser figures (LOOK! Look at it GO!) I've also updated the GIGS section, and it made me sad. I've only got one gig left now - just as I was getting used to it too! I mean, it'll be nice to have a few Full Weekends without having to brave the nation's failing public transport infrastructure, but still, I'm really enjoying getting out and about at the moment - there's thoughts of some more gigs in the new year (including maybe a brief jaunt around SCOTLAND!), but it'd be nice to have a couple of others...

Still, there is always ALBUM PREP to do - once I get hold of my 4 track I'm going to start doing demo recordings of some of the new songs. There's about 8 ready to go and, as of this morning, another TWO in my BRANE, fermenting. It feels GOOD!

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Tour Report: WINCHESTER
Bloody GRATE gig in Winchester last night, a whole LOT of fun. I was on first, but there was a delightful SET of people who'd come specifically for me, God BLESS them all, and most people who came on the night had already come by then anyway. One of these, a noted dotcom thousandaire, pointed out that the Albion, where I played a few months ago in Winchester, and which closed very soon afterwards, STILL says "Tonite - MJ Hibbert!" on the front. At least they spelt "MJ" right!

I started off, as is my WONT, with "Things'll Be Different" and "Too Turned On", and things ROCKED from thereonin. The WEIRD thing though was that it SEEMED in places that nobody was listening, and loads of people were talking Very Loudly - although I couldn't SEE anybody so doing, and in-audience reports afterwards told me that people WERE getting into it A LOT. EXACTLY the same thing happened last year at the Railway, it is STRANGE - perhaps it has Bonkers Backwards Acoustics?

Anyway, the set went GOOD, with "Easily Impressed" especially going well, and blow me if I didn't get to do an encore again! It was ACE! I did "Boom Shake The Room" and by the end people were singing along with the chorus, it was BRILLIANT. Afterwards I continued my new policy of striding around waving CDs above my head saying "Who WANTS it?" and so on, and you'll see the results tomorrow when I update the totaliser. Later on I saw the band The Retro Spankees, who were LOVELY - sort of like early Gorky's, with a bit of Bearsuit thrown in, but really themeselves also. I liked them because they were obviously enjoying what they were doing, and despite the above comparisons, what they were doing was very much their own thing, it was COOL.

Afterwards we ended up crowded round a quiz machine, not winning a quiz, and drinking very nice beer indeed. It was a LOVELY night all round, Winchester ROCKS.

posted by MJ Hibbett, 9.11.03
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I told you it was good!
Hoorah! It's a Live Review! I very very rarely get these, so it's a BOON that I got one for the best solo show I've done in AGES, in Nottingham. The reviews in Do Something Pretty, who previously were a bit snotty about the album, but are now MAGNANIMOUSLY FORGIVEN by me for this, especially the bit about being better than Billy Bragg. Hoorah!

We also got a review of the Leeds gig with Being 747 - I don't know if I mentioned it or not, but there you go, it doesn't really mention us very much to be honest. Hmm... actually, the last live reviews I got were about a year ago when I last played in Winchester - spooky huh? I wonder if The Press will be there tonight?

posted by MJ Hibbett, 8.11.03
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A Special Day
I've been looking through my list of Past Gigs, and was quite surprised to find that the few days around the 7th November is my busiest time of year for The Rock. Fascinating eh? The reason I was looking at this was because three years ago today I played a gig at the Bull and Gate where, for the first time EvER, I met and spoke to The Love Of My Life. Aaah! Now, I remember me being exceptionally COOL and GROOVY during this Epochal Meeting, although for some reason Charlotte seems to think that I looked TERRIFIED to have a NICE GIRL talking to me, although that didn't stop me accepting a drink from her. That doesn't sound like me, does it?

It took a long time for us to get together after that, and if it wasn't for her DILIGENCE and PERSEVERANCE in the face of my overwhelming cluelessness it probably wouldn't have happened, but GOOD GOLLY I'm glad that she did... so please, gentle reader, join me in a slightly soppy toast to the pea in my pod, the sun in my sky and the love of my life, who met me at one of my gigs and STILL wanted to hang around with me. Thanks baby!

posted by MJ Hibbett, 7.11.03
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post-ROCK Post-Rock poorly
Bleh. You find me back at work after a DAY OFF feeling absolutely bloody awful. The entire nation appears to be about to catching/suffering from/recovering from The First Cold Of The Winter just at the moment, and since last Thursday I've felt the virus sniffling around the outskirts of my being. I guess the mighty Healing Power Of ROCK was keeping it at bay, but, post-ROCK, on Monday afternoon, it DESCENDED upon me. It was also - ahaha! - Post-Rock, in that the whole thing was annoying, dull, and went on far too long. Aha! Do you see what I did there?

All right, suit yourselves... the GOOD thing about this was that I got to lie in bed and watch series One AND Two of "Spaced" again on DVD. It was GRATE! Awoke this morning to find myself well on The Mend, so hopefully all will be well again for Saturday, when I ROCK Winchester - blimey though, after all this ROCK IN ROW, it feels like an awfully long time to wait!

posted by MJ Hibbett, 5.11.03
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TOUR REPORT: Nottingham
Nottingham was BLOODY BRILLIANT. When I FINALLY arrived (see previous discussion, "Public Transport, Sunday: Mugs Game, A") i found the Forest Tavern/Maze to be the PLATONIC IDEAL of a GRATE venue. The gig bit was clean and warm (i.e. didn't smell of dampness, urine, beer, fags and bleach), with a GRATE sound system and a LOVELY soundman, and there was a spacious and HANDY backstage area. Best of all though, the front bar was a FANTASTIC little pub that I could merrily spend several evenings in, with DELICIOUS beer. It was GRATE!

I got a bit nervous beforehand - trying to talk to young Duncan who came last time, i was AFEARED that someone I knew from YEARS ago, who used to live nearby, and really DIDN'T want to see again, might come in. I tell you, being Short Sighted is a BUGGER in dimly lit rooms when you are thus afeared... anyway, soon it was time to go on, and it was GRATE.

Maybe it was seeing Otway, maybe it was feeling GOOD about the dancing stuff, or maybe it was just having done loads of GIGS just lately, but I felt really HAPPY just to be on stage. THUS there was a LOT of talking by me between songs, and people seemed to LIKE it! Everything went down really well, and I was having ENORMOUS fun, even when I COMPLETELY forgot the main chorus words of "insert title here" (and sang "put in the name of your pub here" instead as Emergency Replacement) and repeated the second chorus of "Payday" by mistake. "Easily Impressed" was FAB, and at the end I got all excited and did "Boom Shake The Room" too - for a change i told people what it was going to be before I began singing it, and to my DELIGHT there was a sudden HUBBUB of people going "Eh? but how will he achieve this feat?" SMASHING.

As it had gone so well I decided to try a NEW METHOD of selling CDs - rather than hiding backstage for a bit, then lurking at the bar hoping to be asked, I almost immediately STRODE out into the room waving CDs at people saying "Who wants to buy a CD then?" AMAZINGLY I sold 7 copies in about 4 minutes this way - FANTASTIC! I'll DEFINITELY be doing that again!

My dear old pal Chris had come over with his lovely girlfriend, and rather than have to STAGE WHISPER at each other for the whole night while Gordon Ballboy was on, we made our excuses and went into the Lovely Pub bit, which was sort of a shame as he was ACE from what we saw, but we got OVER this and had a good old time with the nice beer and the nice pub. Too soon it was time for me head off to the station for my SECOND Bizarre Train of the day (the 23:23 from Nottingham to Leicester, HOURS after the usual last train there), to Mr Whitaker's house for tea and a kip.

Then this morning I got on the wrong train, and it ended up taking me about four hours to get back to London and to work again. At the moment NOT being on a train is freaking me out a bit...

posted by MJ Hibbett, 3.11.03
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Dancey Dancey
I had to get up at the INHUMAN hour of 7am on Sunday, to get to Birmingham New Street Station to catch the Bizarrely Early Train back to London - BIZARRE because there were no others going that way for about four hours afterwards. Travelling on public transport on a Sunday is a MUGS GAME, but I had to do it for LO! it was the last of our DANCE LESSONS at 1pm, and I wasn't going to miss it. At Northampton we got put onto replacement buses, but I eventually arrived in London in good time, TRIUMPHANT at my victory over Sunday Trains, only to find that The Leaves On My Tree was still stuck in East London, as the Central Line was once again OFF... aah, Public Transport! You rule with a rod of IRON!

Anyway, we eventually got there a bit late, and it was BRILLIANT. As I probably mentioned before, it's LINDY HOP, also known as JITTERBUG, also known as That Really Cool Rock and Roll Swinging About Dancing. YES! Come the next Wedding Reception, we is going to ROOL the dance floor, oh YEAH!

The best thing of all was that the teacher came over to me halfway through and said I was really good, and at the end came over to tell Charlotte the exact same thing. MAN, i was so PLEASED about this you wouldn't believe it, and we had to go to the PUB to give me sufficient time to SHOW OFF about Being Good At A Physical Activity. If there has ever been a more CHUFFED man on a Sunday afternoon in Marylebone I would shake his hand and say "You must be WELL chuffed!", because he'd have to be.

So, with a skip in my step and a 5-6-7-8 in my soul I set off for the station yet AGAIN, to head for Nottingham...

posted by MJ Hibbett,
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TOUR REPORT: Birmingham
Off to BIRMINGHAM on Saturday afternoon, and with a tide of "retiming" (Virgin seem to have nicked this loathsome rephrasing of "late" from Midland Mainline) all the way there it was an HARASSED and HARRIED Hibbett who finally got to the Jug Of Ale. The whole upstairs was decked out in Halloween Gear that Dr A Farmer, Bearos Supremo, had spent hours getting together, Grover were onstage doing Scary Songs, and later the other band, Palomar 13, came on stage dressed as Ghostbusters and PLAYED Ghostbusters.

I felt like a bit of a pillock for not bothering to learn a scary song myself... HOWEVER, the mighty BRANE got into action, and I started the set with a very unsubtle re-working of "Evergreen" - "Eyes, like a ZOMBIES, like a CORPSE in my GRAVE" etc etc. The set itself seemed to go OK - "Billy Jones" went down especially well, "Easily Impressed" got done GOOD by everyone, and although I DID mess up a couple of words, nothing too awful happened. All in all, it was Quite Good - didn't sell any CDs, but a couple of people did look at me in the slightly nervous way that people who have QUITE enjoyed it do when they don't actually want to talk to The Sweaty Shouting Man about it.

As ever, the nicest thing really was having a chat to people - Pete formerly of The Regulars was there, and he's always a nice chap to talk to, and afterwards Dr Farmer took me back to his Delightful Home for BEER and lodgings, which was very kind of him. Birmingham's LOVELY.

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Otway!
We went to see Otway on Friday night, at The 100 Club. Having never been there before I was expecting something plush, corporate and rubbish, but actually it was ACE. It felt PROPER and comfy for a venue, also the beer was quite nice. Otway was FANTASTIC as ever - him and the band appear to STILL be excited about The Hit (as well they might be), and bloody ROCK when they play together. It's brilliant to see such an ace band clearly having the time of their lives in a room full of people who LOVE them - the drummer especially GRINNED like a loon all the way through, and also Murray the rythmn ("second") guitarist is getting in some GAGS nowadays. Watching them perform is watching MASTERS of ROCK at work, truly inspirational, also HILARIOUS, also, in the bit in Geneve where he sings "And I am still young..." and the crowd cheers, incredibly moving. Otway ROCkS!

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