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News Of News
I've just sent out this month's NEWSLETTER and am surprised to report that NOBODY seems to be on holiday at the moment! Some months i get a TONNE of auto-replies saying "I am on the BEACH - HA!" but this time none. What a bunch of HARD-WORKING TYPES we all are!
Anyway, there's a load of news in this month's issue, including the FACT that the single version of "Better Things To Do" is now available to download from our MYSPACE. I think it sounds pretty good - see what you reckon!
And, as ever, if you'd like to get the newsletter sent direct to your email every month, do >JOIN UP won't you? Now is an ESPECIALLY groovy time to do so, as there's going to be a couple of extra emails going out with FACT about gigs, release dates, and how to get I VALIDATE! badges. They're LOVELY!
Farewell, The Uber Set
I headed off to fragrant ISLINGTON last night and to The Buffalo Bar, where I found things in slight disarray - The Loves were lost, Winston Echo was guarding the tupperware buffet, and the Retro Spankees were attempting to soundcheck whilst the entire staff of the bar tried to get the PA to work. Eventually we discovered that somebody had left the "MUTE" switch on - DOH! I'm always doing that with the telly, but never with an entire PA system...
Charlie De Fighting Cocks arrived and realising that there was some time to go before I'd be doing my soundcheck we repaired upstairs to the pub for a wide ranging discussion of gig politics and historical coups. We got back downstairs JUST in time for my soundcheck, which ended up being quite a long one - ten minutes of it was spent trying to work out what was wrong with the microphone, then 30 seconds was me Actually Soundchecking!
Sean The Promoter AKA Fortuna Pop! Svengali S. Price was LATE, so i volunteered to take charge and me and Charlie, being somewhat more... experienced, mature, OLDER thgan everyone else got ourselves set up to do the DOOR, but luckily Sean arrived so we didn't have to. We discussed the fact that in GIG situations people tend to TRUST us to take charge. We agreed that this is because we are so TRUSTWORTHY and HONEST LOOKING, and not because we are usually ten years older than anybody else in bands. No.
Anyway, the evening soon began with Winston Echo, who was GRATE. He started with "Winchester Cathedral Choir" which sounded EXCELLENT and then went through his whole set being quite ROCKY and extremely AFFABLE. He forgot chords and stuff and did it in such a loveable way that it only ADDED to the general aura of CHARM. I especially liked a song about everyone quitting their jobs - "we could go swimming" he sang, and I think that's brilliant. I mean, if we didn't have to work, surely we'd all go swimming, a LOT? I found it most INCISIVE.
Then it was ME, and i had THE FEAR. I had been drinking LAGER, which is never a good idea as it makes me a bit GIDDY and also SCARED, and I'd convinced myself that the sore throat I've had for the past two weeks was going to DESTROY my VOICE and it'd all be awful and I'd forget the words and everybody would hate me and... well, you get the idea. Thus QUAKING i did the following:
Better Things To Do
It Only Works Because You're Here
The Gay Train
Hey Hey 16K
Clubbing In The Week
The Peterborough All Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
The Lesson Of The Smiths
Boom Shake The Room
It went pretty well - i started off with the quiet ones as I have done lately, including doing "The Gay Train" solo for the first time EVER, as I thought I'd best practice it in case the VIDEO does well, and similarly thought I'd best do "Better Things To Do" in preparation for it being THE SINGLE. I did "It Only Works..." just because i LOVE it. That CHUNK was OK, but i could hear people talking, applause was sporadic, and there were people near the front having a chat with their backs to me, which is never a very good sign.
HOWEVER things changed when i went UBER - possibly for the LAST EVER TIME! For the past year and a half, since "Warriors Of Nanpantan" came out and then RE-INFORCED when "The Uberset" came out too, I've been doing pretty much the same SET, mostly because those were the songs I had available on CD. From now on I'll have a whole great BATCH of songs that'll need an airing that, hopefully, people will know and want to hear, and THUS it is time for a CHANGE! Obviously stuff like "Easily Impressed" and "Hey Hey 16K" are never likely to stray far from the regular set, but still this felt like the end of an era for me.
But yes, it was JOLLY GOOD FUN and by the end of it i was having a RIGHT GOOD TIME. Afterwards I had a chat to a couple of people I'd emailed but not met before and also to GEORGE formerly of Lazarus Clamp who freaked me out by BEING there, as I'd not seen him for YONKS. Then we all watched The Retro Spankees who were UTTERLY GRATE. Somewhere in recent time they've TIGHTENED UP - previously they've seemed full of ideas and loveliness, but now they've ALIGNED that to being Actually Pretty Darn ROCKING. Like with Mr Echo, this was very much the best I've ever seen them and it was MIGHTY. They could now take on Dull Bands Who Pride Themselves On Being Tight And Rocking and WIN, and STILL have a massive surplus of ACENESS, IDEAS and Generally Being GRATE as surplus.
They were really good! Unfortunately I had to dash for the TRAIN before The Loves, and it was a VERY happy Hibbett who eased himself onto the Eastbound Silverlink. It was a lovely night, and a lovely way to end THE ERA OF UBERSET.
And They're Off!
You find me a bit goggle-eyed today with ENVELOPE FATIGUE, for LO! i have been folding press releases and letters, sorting CDs, putting Tracklisting And Language stickers onto the back of albums, checking addresses, and generally doing a WHOPPING GRATE MAILOUT. For some reason i always moan about this, "I didn't join the ranks of ROCK to lick envelopes" i say in a curmudgeonly manner, but this time I have to say I really enjoyed it. Maybe it is because the albums and singles look SO UTTERLY GORGEOUS that i really don't mind staring at them for hours on end, but is has all been quite relaxing and delightful.
Yesterday morning, as noted, i spent VAST sums of CA$H sending a load of them out to ASSOCIATES, and this lunchtime i wandered along Leytonstone High Road posting over a hundred more albums and singles, variously packaged, into four seperate post boxes. I always do this as I worry that if i put them all in the same box it could get knocked down by a lorry, or catch fire, or flood - hey! those stamps cost me a lot of money, I'm taking every precaution I can!
Today's batch were albums for fanzines and webpages, singles for radio, and a few other odds and sods for Various Types. I've got a few more of the latter to do next week, and then a heap of albums to send out to radio people in a fortnight, but otherwise i think that's me done. I LUGGED a great pile of them over to our PR Lady yesterday after work so she's got quite a few to do, and i've still got to EMAIL everyone to check the CDs arrive, but really this is now the BEGINNING OF THE END of about six months of MANIC ACTIVITY. Soon it will be time for me to RELAX with a BEER and THE FOOTBALL - oh man, i cannot WAIT!
Just a quick NOTE for anyone who's thinking of coming to my gig at the Buffalo Bar tomorrow night (Friday) - there's a big £3 guestlist, so if anybody NEEDS to get in cheaper do please let me know (by about four o'clock tomorrow) and I'll see what I can do. ALSO, i've had a sore throat ALL week this week, i'm MAXED OUT on ZINC, Vitamin C, Echinacea and antibiotics to try and sort it out, but apologies in advance if i am not my usual ANGEL VOICED self!
They're Really Here!!
The albums and singles - they're here! And they look BLOODY GORGEOUS!
It was a bit of a fraught afternoon for me yesterday, as every time the door went at work, or any time a vehicle stopped nearby, or indeed anybody walked PAST, i LEAPT UP in the hope that it was the delivery van with my NEW STOCK. At three o'clock the manufacturers rang up to get my CREDIT CARD details - usually when you buy CDs you have to agree to buy the "over-run" copies, as APPARENTLY they can't switch the machines off quick enough so there's always more made than you ordered. Yes, I know, but that's what they always say so it's best to COUGH UP which I duly did and the van sped towards me. Two and a quarter FEVERED hours later (during which i went upstairs and stood on the pavement... two or three times...to GLARE at passing vans) they arrived.
OH! the beauty of them! The singles and the albums are all in carboard wallets, "inside out" so they feel sort of SOFT and WOODY, with the album being a foldout - they look like old fashioned vinyl singles and albums as held in the hands of GIANTS. We say, WELL DONE TIM for the design, they are GRATE.
Obviously there was more PANIC when i convinced myself they were going to have been printed WRONG (they weren't) or that the multimedia wouldn't work (it does) or that it had been mastered too quietly (it hasn't), so much so that it's only now, nearly 24 hours later, that I'm allowing myself to get EXCITED about it. EXCITEMENT, however, is gently mounting... oh yes! This morning i spent A HUNDRED QUID in the post office sending copies off to our associates here and abroad and also getting stamps for the promo mailouts. Tonight I'm off to deliver some to our PR LADY then over the weekend I'll be sending 80 or so singles to The Radio.
It's all about to BEGIN! Strap yrselves in everybody, this is THE GOOD BIT!
I was up in YORK yesterday - oddly enough, NOT doing gig. For the first time EVER in my current job I had to actually travel for work, which I found EXTREMELY unnerving. I spent two hours in a meeting on Monday PANICKING because I thought I'd forgotten my guitar.
I headed North on Monday afternoon, in a very full train. I ended up in The Quiet Coach, which always seems to happen despite me disagreeing with the very idea - it's a MISERABLISTS TREASURE TROVE, as only miserable sods go and sit their on purpose and nobody else takes a blind bit of notice of it, so the afforsaid grumpy guts get even MORE wound up. It's catching too - the train was PACKED and so the Quiet Coach was filled up with A Large Party Of Scottish People, who were VERY loud, spent the whole journey shouting out to each other from their seats up and down the carriage, and got laughier and louder as time went by due to them all DRINKING LAGER.
"Why must people fall so easily into National Stereotypes?" i fumed inwardly to myself, as I sat reading my newspaper, getting annoyed at people having fun, but not daring to say a word about it. Later, I complained about the weather.
Anyway, I got to York at SPEED EXTREME and emerged to find an Open Top Bus going by, so hopped on and enjoyed some scenic views of York along with commentary... mostly from a 1 year old child in the seat next to me, BELLOWING. Surely a gentle description of the sights of an ancient city is IDEAL for a toddler, what was WRONG with the child?
I got to my hotel and then wandered out for further LOOKING at YORK. I tell you what, York is OLD. EVERYTHING in it, right, is REALLY OLD. If it's not from before the 13th Century, York isn't very interested. It's all a bit much really - I wouldn't want to live there in case i BROKE something. Also at the moment it is very WET - here's a picture of York, FLOODED!
KRAZY! This was taken next morning round the corner from my hotel, where i went for a brisk morning STROLL around the various castles and stuff. Like i say - everything is OLD! We had our meeting and then i went for MORE historical LOOKING, and had a wander round The Minster. It too is DEAD OLD, and it is also GRATE. I like a good old cathedral, me, and this was BOTH.
I then took another STROLL this time along the city wall - this was probably the best thing of the LOT i must say, it was ACE, although here's my memo to Medieval City Planners: in future, please include more steps down, as there's not enough and I nearly missed my train. They read the internet in medieval times, right?
If you view the GIGS page you'll hopefully be delighted to see we've confirmed a few more dates for the GRAND TOUR in July. It's all moving gently towards completion now - I'm waiting for final confirmation of a London gig and then hopefully one in Leeds and maybe Leicestershire, and then we're nearly SORTED. There's some loose ends elsewhere that I've asked about, but I think we've got nearly enough now... for a TOUR T-SHIRT!
It's all very exciting, even tho my enjoyment has been HAMPERED somewhat by a fortnight of coughing, sneezing and sore throats. I _think_ it's just a cold that hasn't cleared, but I've a terrible feeling it MAY be Late Onset Hay Fever. I've NEVER had it before, so am a bit annoyed to find myself A STATISTIC in its insidious rise. Hey! Maybe this urban pollution and Global Warming ISN'T the great BOON we all thought it was? Somebody tell David Cameron!
No, not the albums or singles... I'm still nervously leaping into the air every time I hear the front door at work go for those, but rather THE BADGES!
Have I mentioned these already? We've got a huge pile of LOVELY little "I VALIDATE!" badges now, half in pink, half in blue, and they look DELICIOUS. We're going to use them for PROMO stuff, and also I'll be giving them out as PRIZES for various things, including people who go an advance order the album from shops - but there'll be more about THAT in the next NEWSLETTER. For now though I'm just going to sit and LOOK upon them, for LO! they are GORGEOUS!
They turned up INCREDIBLY quickly though - I sent the cheque off on Monday afternoon! We got them from a company called Wee Badgers in Glasgow, and by heck they've done a GRATE job - if you need inexpensive yet luxurious badges done at BREAKNECK speed, i would HIGHLY recommend them!
Meeting The Press (Lady)
It's non-stop round here at the moment - last night after I strolled into King's Cross to meet Katherine, who is going to be doing our PRESS for us. I was MOST pleased to be getting it all sorted out as I hate doing the Print Media side of things and we'd spent ages trying to find someone from outside to do it for us.
Katherine, however, is NOT from "Outside" as is very MUCH part of TEAM VALIDATOR. Not only was she part of Cambridge University Radio but she also wrote the sleevenotes for The Regular's farewell compilation... oh yes, and Emma is her AUNTIE! More importantly she knows what she's doing, likes the record and is DEAD KEEN, so i am OPTIMISTIC in the EXTREME about it all now. As i say, we did try to find "outsiders" to do this bit for us, but whenever we've tried that in the past it always goes wrong. TEAM VALIDATOR doesn't seem to work very well when it's part of the wheels of commerce, only when it is powered by LOVE and ROCK does it flourish.
So yes, we had a very good meeting - the BEER was delicious - and I knew we were going to WORK well together when BOTH of us got pad and pen out to write down ACTION POINTS! She passed on a load of TIPS for how to make our press release a bit more ROCK PRESS FRIENDLY and between us we developed a STRATEGY for how the whole thing's going to run. I left EVER so excited - this is going to be GRATE!
We move ever closer to readiness - I'm also sending off for BADGES today (more on those another day) and hopefully, maybe, possibly, the albums and singles'll be turning up this week. EXCITING, isn't it? WHOO!
In Session Tonight
I think I mentioned it before, but just in case, here's a reminder that the lovely Marcelle Van Hoof is repeating the session I recorded for her last year on tonight's Another Nice Mess show. Details on how to listen live and, indeed, AGANE, are at the site. She's also repeating Plan's And Apologies session - and that was GRATE!
The Video Shoot
I got up extremely early on Saturday morning because I had WORK to do: CRAFT WORK! I was due at Stately B3ta Mansions later that day to SHOOT THE VIDOE for "The Gay Train" and had several props I needed to make, like a sign saying "Balham", a London Underground roundel and, my favourite, replica signs saying "Love", "Liebe", "Amore" and "Amour" for cuddly toys to hold, like the Beatles did in "All You Need Is Love". Of these I was especially proud.
I'd already made my Mini-Masks of GRATE Homosexuals, so packed them up too along with a few changes of shirt, a glove puppet, a model policeman and a road atlas and headed NORTH for Kentish Town, where the epochal moment in video-making was due to happen. Once I arrived we got going pretty swiftly, and did the whole intro bit at high speed. At one point I found myself in Mr Manuel's bed. "Ooh, Hibbett Porn!" said Mrs Manuel as she passed by. Yes.
That done we FELL upon a big box of lego, and between us laid out a train track before building a train with big seats, so that several Small Cuddly Toys could sit in it. The train was adorned with rainbow flags and other paraphenalia, and then Rob got out his STEADICAM (also known as SOME PLUMBING) and film loads of lovely shots of it speeding around the track. When you see it I am sure you will agree, it is a thing of beauty - i KNEW all those hours of Lego Training would come in handy one day!
That done it was back to filming ME, and we did three or four complete run throughs of me singing the song sat in the middle of the track, DANCING. Rob, DIRECTING, joined in, and again Lucy came by to see us both cavorting wildly. There was also some giggling.
I think we were both a bit knackered by that point so we BROKE FOR LUNCH, also to LOOK upon their young son Angus for a bit. We had POSH SANDWICHES and CUSTARD TARTS, it was DELICIOUS, and then it was back to work, this time to go through the song line by long to film "cutaways". The first one we did was me walking past a sign saying "Balham", on my way there, which was neither amusing nor clever but will hopefully make sense when it's all put together. Actually, the whole day was pretty much like that, and was very much like doing the way we do RECORDING - we did lots and lots of small BITS at high speed, dashing from one to the other, in the hope that it'll all WORK when it's editted together. I must say, working with Mr Manuel in this way was a JOY as we both happily followed each others IDEAS without worry, prevarication,or MESSING ABOUT.
Having said that, some of those ideas were a bit RUM. I think you will know the ones i speak of when you see it, but I may come to regret being persuaded to pose for STILL PHOTOGRAPHS outside with my sleeves rolled up and my arms folded behind me head whilst wearing a tight leather cap. And a moustache.
There were also Vikings, a Fez, Mr Manuel in the leather cap, lots and lots more dancing, glove puppets, dancing heads, and a finale with me underneath a huge pile of cuddly toys talking to a cat upon my shoulder who was representing the father of one of my oldest friends. As I say, hopefully it'll make sense when it's done!
To finish off we needed to film the bit about letting off balloons, so we went out into the garden where we discovered that it's HELIUM balloons you need, not ordinary ones. They tend to just drift around, then drop. Thus, in order to get footage of balloons going UP, i ended up chasing balloons around the garden, throwing them back into the air like a young Andrew Ridgely whilst Rob filmed them, both us us getting a bit dizzy and LARFING. That bit felt the MOST like I expect Normal Video Making feels.
With that over we were DONE, and we all retired to the PUB for a well earned BEER. Rob's now got the ENORMOUS task of editting down about 70 minutes worth of LARKING ABOUT into a 3 and a bit minute video, a task which i do not envy, but if it's anything like as GRATE as it appeared to be IN MY MIND at the time, then it will be ACE!
I'm So Futuristic My Post Is Delivered To Next Week
Exciting FACT just in: you can now buy "This Is Not A Libary" on iTunes - GROOVY huh? To be honest I don't understand how it all works, i quite like Actual Physical CDs and have never really got round to these Legal Downloads, but I understand it's quite the funky thing with the hip cats on the beat, currently, so if that sort of thing's your "bag" you can find it at http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewAlbum?playListId=130203472 .
Closer By A Thumb
Today's THRILLING INSTALMENT of the Album Approaching Saga is that the album is DEFINITELY at the Factory being made as I have had a conversation today about THUMBCUTS. Apparently they can't do super-sexy delicious Wallet With A Flap style albums without putting a ThumbCut into the inside - that's the semi-circular cut out bit you sometimes see in CD Wallets to make it easier to get the CDs out. We hadn't counted on that, as the last time we had it done it wasn't an essential part of the process, but apparently that's the way it is this time, so the TEXT on the inside sleeve has been moved slightly and now the mighty wheels of production can ROLL FORTH.
I find it all quite exciting I must say. Also today I FOUND a big list of fanzines out on the web and INVESTIGATED them, then RECIEVED a big list of WEBzines from an INSIDE SOURCE and investigated them ALSO. Our mailing list is looking VERY healthy INDEED at the moment, in fact the only part of it that's looking a bit impoverished is the Traditional Print Media, but hopefully we'll be sorting that out next week.
I really like this BIT of the Album Release Cycle i must say - there's all sorts of things hanging in the air and I'm checking my email every ten minutes to see what's come in, it's all RATHER thrilling!
Music Of Quality And Distinction
My word but it is a FRENETIC WHIRL OF ACTIVITY round my way today, AMPLIFIED by the fact that i suffered a dreadful realisation a few days ago that there was actually some Work Work (as opposed to ROCK Work) that was about to teeter on the verge of urgency fairly soon, which I'd not thought about too much due to the aforesaid ROCK Work. After conferring with The Unique Identifier In My Database Table about it i wrote myself a BIG old To Do List and have been working through... not very exciting, I know, but TRUE.
Anyway, as ever in affairs of ME the added DYNAMISM there fed back into the world of ROCK so I've ALSO been flying around doing THAT too. This lunchtime saw me zipping around Central London by TOOB trying to find some white balloons for the video for "The Gay Train" this weekend, and on the way I was listening to the new album by Lardpony album, "This Is Lardcore".
It's not a word I used often and properly but I shall use it in reference to this one: It is DELIGHTFUL. That's really the best way to describe it - every song has at LEAST one moment in the lyrics where you just have to GRIN, as it's SO lovely OR clever OR witty OR all of the above. The tunes also have been stuck in my head every day for the last week or so, and the whole ENSEMBLE of it is a pretty darn JOYOUS mixture of IMAGINATION and DANCING and excellently crafted slices thoughtful FUN. With GAGS too.
What is it with bands in Derby and being DEAD GOOD and making me like them? I'm thinking especially of Plans & Apologies and Johnny Domino two bands who would be in my Big List Of GRATE Bands even if ... well, even if they hadn't been released on AAS. IT'S TRUE! I'm going to see Lardpony in a few weeks too, and if they're even a SMIDGEON as GRATE live as those two bands, it is going to be one HECK of a good night out.
And hey! They're on tour soon too - go see them! It'll probably be really good!
My Exciting Life In ROCK
I had a GRATE time last night doing SERIOUS WORK for THE CAUSE. I printed off loads of pictures of GRATE HOMOSEXUALS and spent a couple of hours going Blue Peter TASTIC - I cut out their faces, Pritt-Sticked them onto the backs of cereal packets, and then coloured them in with crayons. This worked better in some cases than others, as I'd got the pictures off the web and some were higher definition than others, also CONTRAST levels varied. The one that came out best was Dusty Springfield, funnily enough, I'm sure I've seen an Andy Warhol style picture of her that looks similar to what I ended up with.
Anyway, I cut out the newly card-backed versions and ended up with around 14 jolly-coloured smiling heads, ready for use in the vidoe for "The Gay Train" next week. They look GRATE - now I need to make a few other PROPS for it and we should be GO!
Halfway through this WHOLESOME activity I was rung by Thomas Scott on the Technical Difficulties show on University Radio York. We had a lovely chat, and as ever in such cases it seemed to be over REALLY quickly. I like doing interviews like that as it is a GRAND opportunity for me to GO ON AND ON for AGES. I found myself saying thing like "Yes, our NEW ALBUM - 'WE VALIDATE!' - is available in the shops soon!" and other things that People On The Telly come out with. I felt slightly DIRTY... in a GOOD way. Oh yeah!
ITEM! I'm now NOT playing The Russian Club gig on June 2nd, but I AM playing a couple more gigs in the distant future, in Brighton and Sheffield. More FACT on the GIGS page.
ITEM! Are you a student in York who'll be home tonight at about 10.30pm? If so tune in to your student radio station, as I'll be on it, doing an INTERVIEW!
ITEM! There's a video HERE of me singing "Billy Jones Is Dead" in Essex a few weeks ago.
ITEM! A number of people have contacted me about the Article in The Register about Myspace, which seems to suggest that Rupert Murdoch may be able to OWN everybody's songs on it. There's an ADDENDUM to the article that seems to suggest this may not now be the case - PHEW! Thanks everyone for pointing it out tho!
ITEM! In case anyone's checking, i have not yet had another pint of MILD, although i may do. And yes, Mr Carsmile Steve, i think you are correct in stating that a strong mild DALLIES into the area of PORTER. Now, i HAVE drunk Porter in the past, during my crazy days of youthful drinking, but I harbour no real ambitions to do it again in the future.
ITEM! Encores are a GOOD THING when it's an honest outpouring of happiness by an audience who've seen ALL that the band has to offer, and would like to see them do just one thing more. It's a sign of approval and mutual friendship between band and audience, and should happen RARELY.
Encores are BAD THING when it's FAKE - whether that be the huge band who save their best songs until last, and FORCE you to fuel their egos in order to hear the song you ACTUALLY PAID TO HEAR, OR when it's a local band who've EITHER got loads of their mates in to cheer them anyway OR have gobbled down ROCK NONSENSE and EXPECT to do an encore, even when nobody wants them to. It's ESPECIALLY fatiguing when they're on before ME, the night's running late, and all their songs take ten minutes. This happens ALL THE TIME.
THUS my encore policy is that i LOVE to do them and WILL DO THEM with GLEE, but always feel like a TWIT if i LEAP back on stage to find that, actually, it was just a few people being polite.
Sorry for the lack of updates this week past, my mind has been full of THORT re. my duties this weekend as BEST MAN for my friend Chris... I was a bit NERVOUS at the prospect, tho in the end it all turned out LOVELY. The Declaration In My Wedding Service and I went up to Sunny Northampton on Friday, checked in, then went for a DRINK with Chris's family, who were all in HIGH HUMOUR, especially on the subject of SMINTS. Next morning it was GLORIOUS sunshine, so we went for a bit of a stroll around the park, finding that actually Northampton is a LOT nicer than it seemed last time we saw it. Mind you, that was in the Winter on a Saturday night, as opposed to Spring on a Saturday morning when there's a lot less people being sick, trying to fight you, or crying outside chip shops.
Chris joined us and told us MANY of the TERRIBLE THINGS that can go HORRIBLY WRONG at a wedding which The Vicar had told him the week before, after which i got almost as worried as he was. We got ourselves READY and headed off to the Church in a nearby village, everyone rolled up, and Chris and I spent a slightly NERVY 25 minutes or so waiting for the bride. Actually I quite enjoyed that bit, as all we had to do was sit around and wait, and as Chris kept saying, Karen is generally late anyway, so it was only the last 5 minutes or so that were particularly NERVOUS.
She turned up and looked FAB - Chris kept looking back to see if he could see her, and when she came down the aisle he did THE LOOK that goes "Oh WOW!" that is pretty much the BEST BIT of any wedding. Aaah! Eyes were MOIST all over. The service all went off fine - it was a bit weird for me as I was obviously stood RIGHT at the front, and I've never been that close to THE ACTION before. "They're speaking much more clearly and loudly than at most weddings, i can hear EVERYTHING!" i thought. "Oh yeah, that's probably because they're about 1 foot away from me isn't it?"
One of the SCARY things the vicar had told them was that if ANYBODY says ANYTHING at all in the "Does anyone object?" bit, even for a LARF, then the whole thing gets STOPPED and can't start again until the next day, so there was NO HILARITY AT ALL about the massive sighs of relief everyone HEAVED at that point. Then it was MY BIT, when i did NOT go for the Comedy Pocket Pat searching for the rings, as I'd spent an HOUR worrying about it. I was supposed to sit down at that point, but found myself HEMMED IN and had to wait until Appropriate Moment to SNEAK past the groom to my lonely seat in the front row.
Singing, hymns, sermon, "I Will", ALL THAT - it was all lovely and exciting and GRATE and suddenly they were all married and everything. We trooped outside for pictures which, as ever, took a lot longer than you'd think, then piled back to the hotel for the reception. I went to work AGAIN - oh! the labours i endured! - bossing everyone about to get them into the queue for the line-up. I must say i did enjoy that ASPECT of the day, i got to boss people about all day AND act like it was my SACRED DUTY. ACE!
The night before Chris's mate Paul had told me ALL about the time he'd been arrested for STEALING (NB from Games Workshop - rock and roll!) which I thought I'd stick into my speech, so was SURPRISED to find Chris bringing it up himself over the meal. I also sat next to The Father Of The Bride, who was a lovely chap. He had his notes printed onto CARDS, which seemed VERY organised.
Before long it was speech time, and all was groovy - the Father Of The Bride's speech was lovely, Chris got all EMOTIONAL about VARIOUS topics (and looked happier than I've EVER seen him, i think), and then it was ME. URK! also FEAR! but it all seemed to go pretty well - the gags about BANDS went OK, the biggest LARF was for a GAG that The Marzipan In My Wedding Cake had suggested the night before, and Chris's daughter Dora was DELIGHTED to hear that her father had once been arrested. PHEW!
Afterwards we sat around with The Leicester Contingent and told Chris's son Patrick some Tales From Days Of Yore. This was MUCH fun, and it also answered many questions about weddings from my own childhood - I always remember there being groups of BLOKES at such events making a big effort to be PALLY and me not knowing why, now i know that at ALL weddings there will be Mates Of The Parents who haven't seen their friend's children for YEARS and suddenly feel really guilty about the FACT. Me, Neil, Simon and Jamie thus fulfilled our roles as BAD UNCLES amicably. At one point SHANDY may even have been procured...
After that there was DANCING, and OH! how we danced! The phrase "A bunch of Dad's at a Wedding Disco" has never been so fitting and we cut a rug like nobody's business, with our respective LADIES joining us for some EXCELLENT ROCKING OUT well into the lateness. It was GRATE!
Next morning it was a more tired, more headache-y world that we emerged into, but a BLOODY HAPPY one. What a lovely weekend!
Up bright and early then a Surprise Bus, stroll, tube, tube, train and a tram and I was at Sheffield University Student Union, where they were having their annual Fuzz Club Barbecue. The stage I was playing on was set up out in the garden, which would have been LOVELY if it had been a nice day but unfortunately it wasn't, not really. The sun kept popping out but would then be overcome by RAIN, forcing the sizable crowd of young people inside. There was loads of beer, several tents, barbecue food, and the aforementioned YOUNG PEOPLE, which made it all like a Festival.
In keeping with this I spent an hour or so WANDERING AROUND looking for someone I knew. Eventually Penny The Organiser found me and we had a quick chat on the merits of Bands In Retirement (much easier to just go to the PUB with when you don't have to do any gigs) before my LUNCH arrived. I then had another wander round and found The Patricians and was alarmed to discover that Bob From Them was NOT wearing an eye patch as part of some Jolly Student WHEEZE, but because he'd had a "minor" brain haemmorrage! I wasn't aware you could get that in a small size, but apparently so, and it just meant he couldn't look at things in stereo for a while. He seemed to be taking it quite well.
Soon after that it was time for THE GIG. Due to the staging and placement of TENTS i had to sit down to play, otherwise no-one would have been able to see me, and it made me feel EVEN OLDER than usual, as if The Youngsters were clustering round Old Uncle Mark to hear a STORY. I started off with a small-ish crowd, and this is what I played:
Better Things To Do
It Only Works Because You're Here
Billy Jones Is Dead
Clubbing In The Week
The Fight For History
Hey Hey 16K
The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
The Lesson Of The Smiths
Boom Shake The Room
If you'll excuse me saying so, it went REALLY WELL. The start was a little shakey, as we worked out the sound levels, but i DID say "I'll start quiet and get louder", even if that wasn't quite how I meant it. As the set went on more and more people came to look what was going on and, gor blimey, mostly STAYED. It was LOVELY - people seemed to get WELL into it, there was joining in and ENJOYMENT IN GENERAL and by george i felt GOOD by the end of it. It was LOVELY! The only odd thing was that several people said afterwards "But you didn't do an encore - why not?" Nobody asked for one!
Afterwards they announced the results of the Band Competition - this was a thing where eight bands were being picked from DEMO TAPES to play in a Big Band Competition - which was a bit nerve wracking as The Patricians were IN, and I feared that close association with ME that day might mean they wouldn't get in. However, they did, and joy shone around. I then had a chat to a lovely chap who comes to my gigs in Sheffield quite often but has never, I don't think, told me his name. He bought me a pint of MILD, which i was a bit alarmed by but, astonishingly, QUITE LIKED. I've never had a pint of mild all to myself before, and I was very surprised to enjoy it. If i hadn't felt old already I certainly did then, stood amongst the YOUTH with a MILD, so I kissed a baby, hugged some pals, and hopped onto a TRAM into town, where my friend and I found that most of the pubs we SHUT. We walked past a rather unpleasant sounding All-Dayer at the National Music Centre and popped into that pub opposite the station to find ANOTHER all-dayer going on. At this one someone LOOKED at me and pointed me out to her boyfriend - having just come from signing autographs... OK, autograph, but still... I thought they MUST be saying "Look! it is THE HIBBETT!" although, actually, they were probably saying "Look at that idiot with a guitar strapped to his back, is it Man Who Thinks It's An Open Mic Night?"
Anyway, then it was time for another TRAIN to Leicester then a gentle stroll across Nelson Mandela Park to The Victory, where my second gig of the day was occuring. This was a May Day DO for the Leicester Social Forum, which is an alliance of LEFTIES in Leicester who have "put aside their differences" to campaign for stuff. I was filled with DREAD at the prospect, but actually they were LOVELY people - proper old fashioned LEFTIES who, yes, may have the odd STRANGE OPINION about Trotsky and so forth, but underneath were proper Socialists Of The Heart, who just want to make things nicer. Mostly anyway, there was one woman who was there to Talk About Palestine who spent the ENTIRE GIG sat right at the front looking fed up in that way that says "Look at me! I am extremely important and fed up! yes! Everyone join in with ME and my MASSIVELY SELF-INDULGENT GLOOM!" At several points in the evening she was moved to DRUM ARRYTHMICALLY on her knees in an effort to draw attention to herself - she was the Older Female Equivalent of Jealous Boyfriend Talking Loudly. You know the one I mean - when GURLS are looking at the BAND and not him he tried to compete by sitting with his back to the stage talking loudly and perpetually. All these people are doomed to defeat by the MIGHTY NOISE OF THE PA but still, they are a bit annoying.
HOWEVER, that was all yet to come, as for now I indulged in delicious CHAT with the lovely people who were there, including Dr Neil Brown, who'd organised it, Craig and Emily (and some of their PALS, who had already seen me on Saturday in Nottingham but somehow needed MORE, which i thought was rather nice), "Tiger" Tom McClure, Sorted Supremo Dave Dixy, and a whole heap of Leicester Types. The Bobby McGees were on second - first had been an alarmingly young girl with a LOVELY singing voice who'd sung some HARROWING songs about domestic violence which, i must admit, I'd found a bit much and had retreated to the downstairs bar. The Bobby McGees came on and COMPLETELY RULED - they do seem to get better and better all the time, their was banter, there was fun, and the songs seemed HUNKIER and rippling with MUSCLE. It was GOOD.
Plans & Apologies were supposed to play but, as Dr Brown said, they'd planned to, but had ended up having to apologise. This was just as well, as their 38 man line-up couldn't have fitted on the stage, let alone got into the PA system, so it was left to ME to play last, and here is what I played:
The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
It Only Works Because You're Here
She's A Spaceman
Hey Hey 16K
The Fight For History
Breaks In The Journey
Leave My Brother Alone
Billy Jones Is Dead
The Lesson Of The Smiths
It was THOROUGHLY enjoyable, especially as the aforesaid LEFTIES seemed to get into it and didn't mind my remarks re. "TROTS" in "The Lesson Of The Smiths". My favourite bit of the whole GIG though was just before that song, when I said "This is about the two greatest songwriters to come out of Manchester!" as i tend to do. "Noel and Liam Gallagher!" someone shouted. "They're not even the two greatest songwriters in that FAMILY" i retorted, and would have stopped for a minute to bathe in what i thought was a DEAD CLEVER thing to say, except nobody else seemed to be quite as impressed with the remark as i was.
ANYWAY it all went really well and much JOY was had by me. Once again a couple of people said "You could have done an encore!" even though, once again, nobody had seemed to want one, and then we moved on to the main body of the evening i.e. GENERAL CHAT and LARFS. We had many of these, it was a DELIGHT.
It was thus a knackered but happy Hibbett who woke this morning on Dr Brown's sofa in Stoneygate, ready for the long trip home. It has been a May Day Weekend of ROCK!