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Greetings from Paradise! We got into Hawaii earlier this afternoon after a VERY early wake up in San Francisco, and though I've only really ventured out to the shop, it does seem to be a very nice place, and MUCH jollier than mainland America. Most of the Americans we've met so far are very nice (tho what's all this about Shop Staff being SUPER NICE? Nearly everyone we've met in shops and restaurants has been WELL ARSEY, we were TOLD OFF twice in San Francisco!), but not particuarly JOLLY.
That is, apart from my relatives, The Ritchies, who we spent the day with on Saturday. We'd arrived in San Francisco on Friday night, and as i say, been told off for ordering similar curries in the restaurant - we're ENGLISH damn it, we know what we're doing! Excitingly, we were staying in a MOTEL, which like so many things in America, is Just Like Off The Telly. The Ritchies picked us up in the morning and we spent a GRATE day driving round town on the principle that if it FELT right to go somewhere, we would. We thus saw all sorts of places we otherwise wouldn't, and some that perhaps we shouldn't, nearly colliding with public transport a couple of times and, a personal highlight, driving down one of the steepest roads i have EVER seen at full pelt with the whole car,including driving, waving their arms in the air going "WHEE!!" MAN ALIVE the hills round San Francisco are MAD, you CLAMBER up them to find cars parked on (nearly) 45 degree slopes! CRAZINESS!
We also walked across the Golden Gate Bridge, which was yet another experience where my brain REFUSED to accept what was happening. It was BRILLIANT, stood halfway across looking out across the bay to Alcatraz and the city. We also went down Haight Ashbury, which was Quite Good until Ian got his video camera nicked. BOO!
Next day the Sheave In My Cable Car Mechanism and i went to Fisherman's Wharf and saw loads of antique boats, The Boudin Bread Museum (which was ACE, full of Interesting History and also FREE GRUB), the Famous Sea Lions, rode in a Cable Car, walked round Union Square, had CHAMPAGNE, saw The Cable Car Musuem (which was so brilliant we bought t-shirts), got told off AGAIN, this time in a Chinese Restaurant, clambered up MORE hills, and at the top of one of them stopped, out of breath, turned round and got an unexpected AMAZING view of the city. San Francisco is GRATE!
This morning at the airport we both got put through a SNIFFING MACHINE and had our bags TOUCHED to check that we weren't doing something - I'm not sure what, but we definitely weren't doing it. San Francisco is a MUCH nicer airport than JFK, which was HORRIBLE. They were NASTY to us entering the country, and when we were leaving the city the whole place was TENSE and MEAN. San Francisco was much more relaxed, but when we got to Hawaiin it was even nicer, with people smiling, RELAXED as they walked about (except for the bus driver, who go very worked up about us being 30 cents short of the fare, and refused to wait for us to go to an ATM). I'm not surprised people here are happy, it is LOVELY.
Also, we once again have INTERWEB and COOKING FACILITIES in our room. HOORAH! This is going to be the HOLIDAY section of our trip, so tomorrow, hopefully, we're doing NOTHING! ZANG!
A Temple To Travel
We went to look at Grand Central Station this afternoon - WOW! What an AMAZING place it is, it's just GORGEOUS. It's another place I've seen on TV and in films so many times, but i still wasn't ready for how BEAUTIFUL it is inside, MAN it's like a CATHEDRAL of TRAINS, just wonderful. ALSO it has AMPLE signage, so you always know where you are and where you're off to, and it's packed full of shops and things to look at. People seemed to actually GO there on purpose whether they had a train to catch or not, which really DOESN'T happen at St Pancras, let alone Birmingham New Street.
New York Debut
This morning i went to see a bit of the Thanksgivings Day Parade - wow! I saw a few marching bands (including the police, who got the biggest cheer of all - that'd never happen back home!) and a couple of balloons. Charlie Brown Chasing The Elusive Football was exciting to see, but the best bit was when an Eight Storey high Dora The Explorer LOOMED round then corner and all the little kids went "DORA!!" It was lovely!
I'm planning to spend the rest of the day LOAFING AROUND, as yesterday was KNACKERING. We walked up to Times Square, which was pretty amazing, then got the Open Top Bus Tour to UPTOWN. It was a great trip but BY HECK it was cold - i do not think i have EVER been so cold for so long all in my live long life. NIPPY! We hopped off near The Rockefeller Centre and went in to try and find the Observation Deck. It was here we noted a common feature of New York: lack of SIGNAGE. My word, it's BLOODY HARD to find your way around ANYWHERE here, it's as if they've decided that HEY, they had to learn how things worked DA HARD WAY, so WHADDAYA GONNA DO? WOIK IT OUT, YA MOOK!
People seem to really talk like that round here, it is ACE. We eventually found our way to the queue for the lifts, where we met someone else with an ASTOUNDING voice, it was like Janice from Friends but MORE high pitched and DERANGED. I felt my BRANE had been exfoliated by the end of it, but it was WORTH it for another experience of Americans being REALLY American. It's just like the telly!
Anyway, we went up to the top and LOOKED upon New York, then got on the Subway for the Lower East Side, where we met Mr Michael Krugman in a LOVELY restaurant called Kate's Joint. We had DELICIOUS burgers and Proper American BEER style BEER and had a LOVELY time, as he is indeed a very nice man INDEED. He's also half of the Well Hung At Dawn CHAPS who were so nice about "This Is Not A LIbrary", but he's such a DECENT CHAP you forget what an International Man Of ROCK he is. Mind you, he DID give me some handy Book Writing Tips, and i utilised them this very morning. Groovy!
We then got back on the Subway and went to Battery Park where we saw The Statue Of Liberty in the Fading Light. I was quite moved! THEN we got involved in a SCRUM to get on one of the LAST Open Top Bus Tours of the day (we got hop on hop off tickets see, HENCE we wanted to use them) and got HARANGUED by a very odd guide who seemed ENRAGED about the fact that some architects built buildings without rear windows. MAN he got quite worked up about it. We got off at The Rockefeller again and then had an INSANELY frustrating hour trying to get ANYWHERE on the subway, as once again SIGNAGE failed us drastically. New York! Put some SIGNS up, or even do a subway map that's LEGIBLE! It's easy, honest!
The Colour Coding Of My Tube Map got OFF at East 33rd Street (it's still COOL saying things like that) and I went back down to LUDLOW, for the Open Mic Night. Blimey, it was a RUM OLD DO! The first half was ALL people either doing POETRY (much of which was read like a Powerpoint Presentation) or STAND UP that just seemed to involve standing round saying Things That Had Happened. It was ODD - they stood up for six minutes without anything planned to say, and just SAID things, it was more like THERAPY or something. Mr & Mrs Weiss had come to meet me, and we had DELCIOUS Pizza during some of this, and then it was MY turn. Here's my SET:
The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
Clubbing In The Week
It was a SHORT set but an ODD one, not least because i had no guitar so had to sing it ACAPELLA! It seemed to go OK, and i actually RATHER enjoyed it, especially as i got to make with a JOKE about Thanksgiving Stories (i.e. not having any), and one about AIR BASES. I guess you had to be there... after me some Performance Artist Ladies came on and set fire to their shirt lapels then showed us their LADIES PARTS, and then we went to THE PUB. It was a really good night tho, don't get me wrong, it was a GRATE place to see and i really felt like i was in NEW YORK.
We then had a DRINK and a CHAT next door, before getting a TAXI back, and they dropped me off on the corner of 34th and Lex (oh yes, SO cool!). It was a GRATE day all round really, especially getting to see some LOVELY people in Actual Person, and also TIRING. I think we've pretty much TICKED all the Things To Do In New York now, including seeing the offices of Marvel Comics, which turned out to be... er... just an office building. I was expecting to find THE THING there, complaining about misrepresentation! But yes, it's all DONE now i think, so today i shall be giving thanks for A Bit Of A Rest. Happy Holidays everybody!
It was CHUCKING it down with rain yesterday when we got on our Open Top Bus, so it was all a bit cold and wet. We got as far as Wall Street and Battery Park, then had ENOUGH and decided to go to THE PUB instead. We hit the TOOB and went to THE VILLAGE... actually this is all rather an abbreviation, as we spent a bit of time getting lost and confused too. It's all well and good having an easily navigable GRID system of streets, but if you're not sure which direction you're going in it does make it a bit difficult to work out, what with cross roads having four corners and all... ANYWAY, we got to the Village, went to a PUB which was OK, then went down the road to The White Horse, which was LOVELY. The BEER was really nice, they had GRATE chips, the atmosphere was homely, and apparently HISTORY lurked all around us. In the corner a guy called something like Josh Wade (an BLUES singer of The Village In The Beatnik Time) was being interviewed, and all around us people spoke of the documentary series they were directing. It was like going to the pub in London's Fashionable Soho, except these were GROWN-UPs doing the TV directing!
We left reluctantly and headed home, getting lost a few more times but being helped out by LOVELY New Yorkers. People really are very polite and helpful here, tho oddly STERN. I would say "humourless", but that makes it sound like people are DOUR. They're not, they just seem to want to get ON with things. For instance, on the open top bus we went up the stairs while it was raining, and got TOLD OFF. In That London it would have been a joking matter and HUMOUR would have emerged, but here there were RULES to be told. Shortly after this the guide lady said "I shall know sing a song of Greenwich Village" and then straight faced sang a verse of "Where have all the flowers gone", because she'd said she would. It was very nice, but it does feel a bit odd to be among such Straight Forward TYPES. Similarly when we were LOST nobody JAPED ABOUT, they just helped us, said "Have a good day" and carried on. It's actually quite REFRESHING to not get INVOLVED in hilarity during every interaction, but also a bit ODD.
ANYWAY soon we were back home in our SUITE (yes, we are in a SUITE) with our BRAIN MELTING view of the Hudson, The Chrysler and all the water towers. As i type the SUN's just come up behind me and it looks (hopefully) like today's going to be a bit more CLEMENT. We're off to do the Uptown LOOP this morning, then the plan is to meet Mr Michael Krugman for lunch in The East Village, pop on the second half of the DOWNTOWN loop, come home for a wash, then BACK to The Lower East Side to meet Mr Greg Weiss (and anybody else who fancies coming) at The Cake Shop for about 7.30pm.
It's a PACKED SCHEDULE, i shall report back on how we do!
I'm sitting at the DESK in our SUITE on the 27th, with the East River behind me and the Chrysler Building LOOMING to my right and the sound of traffic below, thinking "Surely this can't REALLY be happening?"
When we got off the plane (on which we watched "Hitch" and "Fantastic Four", both of which were GRATE, tho "Hitch" was good all the way through whereas "FF" got a bit boring towards the end) i was surprised to find that everything looked the same as at home, VISION WISE, and wasn't a bit grainier with brighter colours, like it is on the telly. The US Customs Guy was HORRID, and when he said "What exactly the relationship between you too?" to me and The Wings On My Aeroplane i felt like saying "That's none of you business, damn you sir!" but didn't.
We got a yellow taxi to our hotel, and the doorman came RUNNING out with a brolly, and somebody brought our bags up for us, it was LUXURIOUS! When we got up here we looked out at The Manhattan Skyline and it looked like... a Manhattan Skyline. I guess we're so used to it being painted on walls or the background of album covers and posters that it's almost something we're used to, but occasionally my BRANE breaks through and shouts "OH! MY! WORD! We're actually THERE!"
The roofs of the buildings have water towers, just like in the comics, there's steam coming out of the pavements, just like in the films, and there's fire hydrants on the corners of the streets, just like on the telly. I spent all night DREAMING of going to the corner DELI, and this morning in did just that. The two felt the same.
Today's it's a bus tour for us, as it's raining - i wonder when I'll actually believe this fantastic thing is happening? It's NEW YORK!!
I tell you what, they do things in STYLE down in South East London. I turned up yesterday morning at The Fox & Firkin for FOXFEST, to find it being run WELL PROPER. There were TWO stages, one at either end of the pub, with SOUND being mixed from a central SOUND PLAZA, there was a BIG SCREEN TV in the middle of the room, there was a COMPERE (Mr J Yeah) with a RADIO MIKE wandering the room, there were WALKIE TALKIES in the HATS of the CREW, there was a SCHEDULE, and there was a BACKSTAGE AREA with fruits, sandwiches, and tea making facilities. It was, in fact, a PROPER FESTIVAL!
I was MOST impressed. It really is a LOVELY scene down there it has to be said, they've got several promoters, a GRATE studio, and even their own radio station, PLUS some dead good bands. I was only around the see Fruit Machine Blues, but by HECK they were ever so good. My set seemed to go OK too - I've not got the setlist with me now but it was yr standard Uberset, which was a LOT of fun to play, especially a slightly extended DASH through "Boom Shake The Room" at the end. I am ARTISTICALLY DIVIDED about this though - on the one hand I do tend to be playing to different people most of the time, and it IS nice to do a set that i KNOW usually works and that i feel comfortable with, but on the other hand i wonder if i might be CHEATING people a bit, and maybe should try some different songs now and again?
We're doing a few gigs in the new year in a slightly reduced Validators line-up, to MAXIMISE ROCK while MINIMISING...er... babysitting... so hopefully that'll be a chance to SHAKE UP the setlist, though i believe my NEXT two gigs, in That America and New Zealand will PROBABLY be derived from The Comfort Zone. Crikey, this time tomorrow we'll be on the way to the AIRPORT, exciting isn't it?
New York SORTED
PHEW! After a lot of getting round to it, we've SORTED the gig in NEW YORK. I'm going to be doing a SHORT spot at Cake Shop at 152 Ludlow on The Lower East Side (wow! what a COOL address eh?) on Wednesday 23rd. It's an open mic night so i won't be on for long, but i WILL be Playing In New York, so that's all that really matters. Ta VERY much for Ian for the addresses and Greg for going round hassling people, it be APPRECIATED!
This time next week I'll have left New York behind and be in SAN FRANCISCO! I can hardly believe this is all going to actually HAPPEN!
That Time Of The Month
My INBOX is gently filling with messages telling me who's on holiday at the moment, who's not cleared out their emails, and who's changed Service Providers, for LO! i have just sent out this month's copy of the NEWSLETTER, and all the Out Of Office replies and MailServer Errors have fluttered back, as they always do. It's lovely - it's like THE MACHINES are saying hello!
The NEWSLETTER's a bit early this month because, as i may have mentioned, in passing, myself and The North Of My Compass of off CIRCUMNAVIGATING THE GLOBE on Monday! WAHEY! We're in New York then San Francisco next week, then off for a week in Hawaii, then Whakatane and Auckland in New Zealand and finally Singapore, getting back to That London on Saturday 17th December. Today's my last day at work, and it feels WEIRD and EXCITING as I haven't had this long off work since i was last UNEMPLOYED way back in 1991. Will i even REMEMBER how work WORKS when i get back?
Anyway, I shall probably UPDATE things here before i go, and I'll try and BLOG on my travels, so the only thing to say TODAY is that if you wish to PANIC BUY any merchandise before i leave, today is really the day to do it! Any orders I get after tonight won't get posted out until I get back, so if, for instance, you're buying a Hey Hey 16K t-shirt for That Special Somebody, you should do it now!
It's Beginning To Feel A Lot Like Christmas
I'm feeling ODDLY CHRISTMASSY at the moment - partly because it's COLD (and the tube was full of the Christmassy Smell of COATS taken out of the wardrobe for the first time and still smelling slightly of Last Year's Snow Sweat and MOTHBALLS), but also because i've been working HARD to get everything FINISHED before i go. I've pretty much DONE this now, so am sat around wishing time would go FASTER so i can go home and get ON with the TRIP, in much the same way I do before the Christmas HOLS. It's quite nice really!
Which reminds me - I think I mentioned a while ago that AAS are going to be doing a Christmas Album, but I'm not sure what DETAILS i gave, so here they are in FULL. It's going to be called "Kung Fu Santa With A Christmas Punchbag" and tracks will be as FOLLOWS:
01 MJ Hibbett & The Validators - The Advent Calendar Of Fact
02 Johnny Domino - I Saw Three Ships
03 Plans & Apologies - Pandaz Xmaz
04 Frankie Machine - I'm Going To Kill Myself For Christmas
05 Frightened Prisoners Of The Kraken - June In December
06 Dr Coca Cola McDonalds - All I Want For Christmas Is Jazz-Metal Fusion & World Peace
07 A Christmas Message From Steve Dresden
08 MJ Hibbett & The Validators - Never Going Back To Aldi's
09 Johnny Domino - I Forgot What I Set Out To Do
10 Plans & Apologies - Is This Rain
11 Frankie Machine - Shilton's Fingertips
12 Frightened Prisoners Of The Kraken - Fly On The Wall
13 Dr Coca Cola McDonalds - The History Of Booze
It's all pretty much EXCLUSIVE to this album, and I must say it sounds GRATE. And, excitingly, it is going to be FREE! After some discussion we realised you can't really CHARGE people for a Christmas Card, so we're giving them away - loads are going out to Media Types, we're giving 50 or so to each of the bands, and that'll leave about 50 which will be UP FOR GRABS from the AAS website. So consider this an ALERT! If you check www.artistsagainstsuccess.com from around the second week of December then as soon as they're available Mr Fleay will post details of how to get ahold of them. It's a SPECIAL CHRISTMAS PRESENT!
Hey Hey 16K
If anybody's here for some HEY HEY 16K stuff today after that nice Mr Steve Lamacq is doing a thing on Retro Gaming, hello! If you'd like to see Mr Rob Manuel's EXCELLENT video, it's at http://www2.b3ta.com/heyhey16k/, while the "single" version of the song is available by clicking the big red sign saying "Hey Hey 16k" in the top left.
I am RACING around at the moment DOING things, ready for when we go off on our Round The World Trip (departing a week today! EEK!), so apologies if this week's UPDATES get a bit BRIEF. Here's what's occurred lately:
On THURSDAY The Poles of My Planet and I went to see OTWAY in Barking. He was GRATE, and I must say i quite liked Wilko Johnson too, with whom he was playing. He did THE DANCE, just like on ye olde newsreel footage, it was very exciting!
On SATURDAY i went to LEWISHAM to see Kill City Defectors who were FUNKY and also GOOD, which is RARE! Why, by the end of the set my left knee was JIGGLING, and for me at a gig that is KRAZY TIMES! Also there were ALL the Orange & Blue/Kooba/Let's Go Baboon/2Bob KREWS, so I had a LOVELY night hugging various people - this latter aided by Mr J Yeah saying over the tannoy "If you see MJ Hibbett, give him a hug, he LIKES it!" It's true!
On SUNDAY I met with Mr Fleay for our AAS Christmas Curry and BUSINESS MEETING, where we discussed some excellent PLANS, mostly to make AAS a bit easier to run. He also handed over a CD-R of the AAS Christmas Album, which sounds DEAD good I must say. It'll be available next month, though NOT for sale. We're sending copies out to TYPES on our press/radio/promoters mailing list, and then there'll be about 50 copies available FREE. If you want to know how to get one of these, details will be in this month's NEWSLETTER, which'll be out on Friday. Don't miss it, POP PALS!
Today I've been listening to "Bring It Back" by McAlmont & Butler. What a GRATE record that is - i mean, it was NICE to have "The Tears", if only for a gentle reminder of how ACE Suede used to be and also for a WARM GLOW from thinking that - hey! - people CAN make up and be nice to each other, but AT WHAT PRICE eh? AT WHAT PRICE?
With all due respect "The Tears" are a bit predictable and, well, dull, whereas BOTH McAlmont & Butler albums are UTTERLY BRILLIANT, possibly the LOUDEST records ever recorded... and apparently they made a THIRD album which will now never be released! It's NOT FAIR! I WANT IT!!
In other news, just CONFIRMED a return for The Validators to SHEFFIELD in the New Year - details on the GIGS page. HOORAH!
By heck, i have been doing so much DYNAMIC THINKING today that my HAIR is standing on end. In my HYPER-BRANE state i have convinced myself that this is because THORT generates ELECTRICITY, and so my own MIND has become a sort of Van Der Graaaf Generator i.e. making hair stand out, but not playing dodgy prog rock. As yet.
It's all towards getting SORTED for a) our trip round the world b) WORK c) ROCK in the New year and d) the AAS Christmas Album. This latter is moving elegantly towards completion with a POSSIBLE title now of "Give Me Mince Pies" due to the rather excellent cover illustration by Jimmy, SON of Frankie Machine. It is ACE and features a Kung Fu Santa Claus kicking a Christmas Punchbag. The INSIDES also have NEW and EXCLUSIVE tracks by us, Johnny Domino, The Frightened Prisoners Of The Kraken, Plans & Apologies, Frankie Machine and, hopefully, Dr Coca Cola McDonalds. Half the tracks are Christmassy, half AREN'T, and ours are going to be "The Advent Calendar of FACT" and, probably, "Never Going Back To Aldi's".
Meanwhile I'm trying to sort out various BITS and BOBS for our trip, like a gig in New York, meeting lovely relatives in San Francisco, what day trips to go on in Hawaii, and how to get from Auckland to Whakatane in New Zealand. Much to my surprise it turns out New Zealand ISN'T actually the size of The Isle Of Wight, but actually a bit bigger. Who knew? It's all looking good for getting sorted anyway, but after me doing my bits and ESPECIALLY The Upgrade To My Seating doing all the work booking flights and hotels and RESEARCHING, we are going to need a HOLIDAY by the end of next week.
My Glamorous Lifestyle
I'm listening live to Another Nice Mess at the moment - I'm actually listening LIVE to me, recorded in Catford, and it's all a bit weird. It's LOVELY tho, also quite EXCITING to think that I'm listening in to the people of Amsterdam, listening to ME, and HELLO to anyone who's come here as a result!
ARF! She's just followed up "Lesson Of The Smiths" with "Reel Around The Fountain", just like WE do (sort of) when we play it with the band. COOL!
In other news, last night I rather sadly tidied up, zipped up, and then placed NEATH THE BED my Chariot Of ROCK (nb the wheely suitcase i take to gigs with me these days, full of Hey Hey 16K t-shirts, CD's and, generally, a clean t-shirt and some WET WIPES for de-sweating after the gig), in the knowledge that i had completed my Last UK Date Of The YEAR. I took my guitar out of its bag, and thought "You'll be staying at home for a while now". I was WRONG however, because I'm now playing at FOXFEST at The Fox & Firkin in Lewisham next Saturday - full details, as ever, are at the GIGS page. I'm on at ten to one, then I'm off to my brother's leaving do in Maida Vale for the rest of the day. There may be DRINK!
Last UK Date Of Tour
I took the long long BUS ride out to Stoke Newington last night to play my 44th gig of 2005, also known as - oh yes - my Last UK Date Of The Year. I feel VALID in putting it that way because i MIGHT be playing in New York in a few weeks, and even if that doesn't happen I'm playing in New Zealand in December... it's at my brother's wedding, but it still counts!
So yes, I got there to find a whole BUNCH of lovely people relaxing to the TOONS, and got myself sorted out. In what felt like a very short time i was ON, and this is what i DID:
The Peterborough All-Saints' Wide Game Team (Group B)
Red & White Sockets
Hey Hey 16K
The Drummer's Lament
The Perfect Love Song
Billy Jones Is Dead
The Fight For History
Clubbing In The Week
The Lesson Of The Smiths
Boom Shake The Room
I really REALLY enjoyed it! For some reason my NERVES were at a minimum - i forgot the words to the start of Drummer's Lament, and when that DIDN'T cause the entire room to storm the stage in disgust i RELAXED even more and GOODNESS ME ended up yapping away between songs like nobody's business. It was FUN!
Afterwards everybody was EXTREMELY nice, CDs were sold, and then I drew THE RAFFLE. GLAMOUR! Then i went downstairs and became EMBROILED in a lengthy conversation about BOOKS, featuring the Exciting Pub Topic "At high speed, name your favourite EVER book (and you can be as blindingly obvious as you like), your favourite book you bought when it came OUT, and the book you REALLY like that will make other people RECOIL in horror at the admission." It was all very jolly, and LOGICALLY we then took the same topic on to RECORDS, and LO! there was much recoiling in horror and even more saying of "YEAH! That is a GRATE record/book, OOOH!"
Like in Northampton, it seemed to be a room PACKED with really nice people, and i had a DELIGHTFUL time, even going so far as to have a lengthy conversation about Paul McCartney's solo career, which i personally consider the SUREST SIGN of a good night. I also spoke to a nice chap who said "Have you ever thought of writing a book?" Usually I take this to mean "Have you ever thought of writing a book INSTEAD OF bellowing so unpleasantly, and could you do it soon please?" but it turned out he really meant it and works as an BOOK EDITOR, so who knows eh? I am a little AFEARED at the idea of such a lot of work, but he reassured me and it seems you can do it in little BITS, so maybe I'll have a go. If nothing else it would mean i could FINALLY fulfil the promise I made to Mr Alan Norcliffe, my teacher when i was ELEVEN, that I would one day send him a copy of my first book. I nearly sent him a copy of THE CURSE OF VOON but i don't think that's what he meant!
ANYWAY, it was a LOVELY evening, topped off by yet ANOTHER nice chap giving me a lift home to Leytonstone, which I thought was ESPECIALLY groovy. It was a GRATE night out all round, and a pretty bloody excellent way to end the year in ROCK!
Voice Of The Fire(works)
On Friday night The Lighting Of My Blue Touch Paper and I went off to LICHFIELD to see some pals and generally have a LOVELY time. On Saturday afternoon we came back South, stopping off at Northampton, where i was due to play at The Labour Club. I haven't been to Northampton for over a decade, and the only thing I know about it with any sureity is that Alan Moore comes from there, so i was on the LOOKOUT for him at every turn. At one point i got VERY EXCITED as I thought I'd seen him, but it was only a tall lady with long black hair, and not him at all.
The DO I was playing at was arranged jointly by Winston Echo and The Retro Spankees, LOVELY people all, and Josh from the latter did a solo SPOT to start things off which was RATHER JOLLY. Jism Sick (i think) played next and ALSO were RATHER JOLLY, although it was a little confusing because the young lady singing (whose name i forgot to ask) was REALLY GOOD at it. This is not meant to DISHONOUR anybody else playing that night, but you get used to people singing in A Serviceable Voice (NB the sort of thing i DREAM of attaining), so when she started singing some, frankly quite JAPE-ISH, songs with such a Striking Voice, my dears one was rather taken aback.
Then it was ME, and i played THIS:
The Peterborough All-Saints' Wide Game Team (Group B)
Red & White Sockets
Hey Hey 16K
The Drummer's Lament
The Fight For History
Clubbing In The Week
The Lesson Of The Smiths
Boom Shake The Room
... and I must say I REALLY enjoyed myself, especially during "Hey Hey 16K" when Jo From The Retro Spankees started clapping along - usually that sort of thing's a bit rubbish, as The English are not particularly GIFTED in such things, but she was doing SYNCOPATED clapping, and it sounded GRATE - i was IMPRESSED! The rest of the set FLEW by and i had a GRATE time doing it.
Afterwards we had a quick chat to several people, including Mr Winston Echo who had arrived HOTFOOT from his job, and LURKED ABOUT for a little bit before we had to FLEE. We'd had DIRE WARNINGS about Northampton City Centre during the evening, and so I wanted to get back to our HOTEL (oh yes!) before too late. Unfortunately this led to us NOT perhaps seeing Northampton in its best light - the streets were strewn with sick and dotted with groups of people spoiling for a FITE, and when we got back to the hotel there were BOUNCERS on the door to stop raging hoardes of people coming in and RAMPAGING! There wasn't a club or anything inside or anything, apparently that's just what happens!
As I say, I may have judged it harshly due to the circumstances, but it's a funny old place - it felt like we were in the PROPER NORTH, far past Sheffield, whereas actually it's only JUST in the South of The Midlands at ALL. It's odd. But anyway, we DID have a really LOVELY time amongst GRATE people, and hopefully i will get to head back up that way in the New Year.
And now a brief respite before i head to Stoke Newington for what MAY BE my Final UK Gig Of The Year! Blimey!
For the past few years Marvel Comics have had a line of comics called ULTIMATE MARVEL, in which they've reinvented their major iCONS for the current AGE. THUS Ultimate Spiderman has Peter Parker as a Teenager NOW (NB the regular comics series has him AGES to nearly 30 now, married and working as a TEACHER which is NOT necessarily hugely exciting for THE KIDS). This was they get to get rid of 40 years confusing continuity, return the character to his ROOTS, and give the character a MODERN TWIST. They can use tell NEW stories to a NEW audience, about things that matter to them NOW rather than relying on a history of stories that mattered to the OLD audience, who would rather see a SPIDERMAN still dealing with the same problems as THEM.
It's a GOOD IDEA, and I mention it because I've been listening to the new Chris T-T album this week (A LOT). It really is BLOODY GRATE - i have mentioned on previous occasions how much i like the SONGS on it, having heard them LIVE, but on the album itself they sound even better. It's MUCH more confidently and ROBUSTLY produced than his other records, and the PASSION and SINCERITY of the songs come through. It talks about issues that nobody else can be bothered to talk about anymore with WIT and PANACHE, it's FUNNY without being DAFT, and USES humour to make elegant points, and VITALLY it does it all with huge singalong choruses.
He has become, rather brilliantly, ULTIMATE BILLY BRAGG! All the excitement, passion, belief, TUNES, and SMILES as the old version, but with newer politics relevant to TODAY, EMBRACING modern technology and SOUNDS and USING them (instead of coming over like Embarrassing WOMAD Dad) and just all round GRATE. "Preaching To The Converted" IS "Waiting For The Great Leap Forward" 2005!
I'm not sure it was NECESSARY to also include an Acapella Song That Most People Will Dutifully Listen To Once Or Twice And Then Skip Past but HEY! It's there!
So yes, it is BLOODY FAB, everybody go buy!
Anyway, have a good weekend all, and if you're coming to the gigs in Northampton or Stoke Newington i shall seeee you there!
News From Abroad
Two little SNIPPETS of European ACTION for us today. First of all "Ring Your Mother" was played on Another Nice Mess over in Amsterdam this week. This was ESPECIALLY lovely, for me at least, as it is constantly named as The Validators' least favourite (released!) song what i have written, so it's nice that it's getting some LOVE!
Secondly, I've had this review from Swedish magazine "Superplay", sent to me by Mr Chris Abbot of the "Back In Time Live" event we played in Manchester. They said:
"MJ Hibbett has actually nothing more in common with the C64-worshipers than
his glasses and that he wrote Hey Hey 16K, an anthem to the childhood of the
home computer, with a lot of name dropping of programming commands and
loading messages in the lyrics. Part from that he composes pretty witty
power-pop with his band The Validators. And even though the PA-system seem
to be quipped with revolving doors, it's an excellent warm-up act. When Hey
Hey 16K, in a shameless public pleasing manner, is played the second time
around a third of the audience gotten down on their knees by the stage to
sing along. A guy dances unsteadily, a combination of euphoria and cheap
MJ Hibbett sings in the song The Lesson of The Smiths: "Don't wait for years
for a retrospective / get into it now", and that's the key phrase of Back in
Time: those who're here has been in it from the beginning."
A Victory For The Consumer
Hooray! I got an email from Tripod again today (NB the people whose server this site lives on, and who completely knackered it a few weeks ago - new readers start here!). I GROANED, expecting yet another one saying "Everything is working just fine!" and basically ignoring all the OTHER emails I'd sent... but no! It was actually a very polite and fulsome apology, and then a promise to give me the next three months FREE!
This is, of course, the bit where Esther Rantzen tries to look PLEASED, even tho she'd rather DRAG THEM THROUGH THE COURTS, but where the humble Member Of The Public looks WELL CHUFFED. A satisfactory END! GROOVY!
What a THRILLING Inbox i opened up this morning, full of JOYOUS FACT!
First of all, thanks to everyone who's emailed nice things about the gig in Sheffield on Saturday, it was a LOVELY day, as i may have mentioned, ENHANCED by the Lovely People who were there. Also TA very much to everyone who's been buying The Uberset as a result of seeing it in this month's newsletter. For those who've not signed up yet, details of how to GET it are HERE, along with the latest issue. It's FACT-TASTIC!
I also got an email from Mr G Gilchrist of Leicester pointing out that Splendid has a REVIEW of "Warriors Of Nanpantan" in today. I had completely given up hope of seeing it, i must say, as it was sent them about ten months ago, but i am VERY glad to see it in, as it is really rather a GOOD review. I don't mean that it says it is The GRATEST RECORD EVER, but that it, i think, gets it SPOT ON. HOORAH!
And talk of Americans With VIM, another email tells me we're getting to close to sorting out a GIG in NEW YORK in a few weeks time. Thanks very much to EVERYONE who's been offering help with this, i am REALLY grateful, and shall be RELIEVED when it gets sorted!
And finally, that nice Mr Steve Lamacq played "The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)" on his 6Music Show. I know it doesn't show up on the tracklisting, but he did, HONEST! It's about 40 minutes in, if you want to listen again, and he's very nice about it too, bless!
It's been a smashing Morning Of ROCK so far - in all the RUSH to get The Uberset made I'd forgotten about how GRATE this bit is!