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So at last it hath come to pass - my fiftieth gig of the year! I arrived at The Union Tavern on a WINDY night armed with a tape player, a guitar, a bag of candles and a big balloon saying "50" to find Mr C Flowers awaiting me. We went upstairs and, seasoned veterans of ROCK that we are, wordlessly got on with setting out the chairs and tables. With this achieved we set out the candles (AMBIENCE) and it was only after Mr P Knight arrived and asked what the POLICY was for setting them out that we realised that I was going round taking them OFF the tables and putting them onto window ledges at the same time as Charlie was going round REMOVING them from ledges and putting them onto tables.
Dr Neil Brown arrived, with his fine young lady, and he heralded a gentle STAMPEDE of pals and family members who came in just as I was popping out the the corner shop to buy BATTERIES for the tape player (as I'd forgotten the lead), thus to enable people to THRILL to the sounds of The Best Of Macca and The Colourblind James Experience, the two tapes which I had still in my drawer just before I left the house. Before long a mighty THRONG was in effect, and I was able to kick things off at 8pm (PROMPT, as threatened) to a nice cosy room of CHUMS, and play THIS:
It all seemed to go quite nicely - I'd asked people for suggestions beforehand and that's what they'd come up with, and it was really nice to once again to be playing FREELY without a PA system. I partook of a BRANDY afterwards (bought for me by my BOSS, who'd very nicely turned up) to calm the old throat, and then settled in for Dr Neil Brown's ANNUAL GIG.
It was the same as pretty much ALWAYS happens - for the past few days I'd been WORRYING about how he'd go down, whether he'd be nervous and/or out of practice, whether anything would go wrong, and whether people would GET it, but as usual I really shouldn't have bothered myself, as he COMPLETELY STOLE THE SHOW like he always does. It was BLOODY GRATE! It was like a Neil's GRATEST Hits set all leading up to a TRIUMPHANT closer of "Dog On The Horizon" which had the entire room - actually, literally, joyfully - BARKING.
Shortly after THAT we I was beckoned to the table of Mr & Mrs Wilson, and asked if it'd be OK if Phil did a few songs - HOORAH! I'd wondered about asking but thought it might be a BOTHER, but happily i was wrong AGANE and so we were blessed with a real live ROCK LEGEND doing a three song set, ending with a version of "Every Conversation" that got me all GIDDY. I know other people have known The June Brides for DECADES, but to me they're my Favourite New Band Of 2006. My only regret is that I forgot to BOOTLEG it - BAH!
After all THAT excitement it was time for me to slope on and do a MATHEMATICALLY PRECISE set, consisting of the top 10 songs I'd played in the year just gone, in their AVERAGE order of appearance in the set - numbers in brackets indicate the amount of times they'd previously been played in the year. To attain final scores for 2006, ADD ONE!
It seemed to go pretty well - I was ESPECIALLY pleased to be playing It Only Works Because You're Here and there was SOME satisfaction that i got to do Boom Shake The Room in it's RIGHTFUL place, as the extra ELEVENTH most played song of the year. It may have all GONE ON a bit, but HEY - it's MY party, and I'll GO ON if i want to! My sympathies, however, went out to Mr S Hewitt, who had been on a pub crawl all afternoon and was VISIBLY WANING towards the end - i hope he managed to get off the bus at the right stop!
As promised it all finished at 10pm, and it was LOVELY to be able to stand at the door and have TIME to say cheerio as people went off to get their trains, and then to have MORE time to sit around afterwards and be able to chat to people. ALL gigs should be timed thusly! It also gave us time for Dr Brown to do an ENCORE, but only after the entire ROOM had shouted for it - just like he always used to do when we played together, he COMPLETELY won everybody over, and I heard several people singing "Dog On The Horizon" on the way out.
So all in all it was a SMASHING evening, combining PALS with BEER and ROCK and a FAB way that really topped off what's been a MASSIVE year in ROCK for me. I felt PROUD and ENTITLED to wear the "Nifty 50" badge that Pete had presented me with, but also quite GLAD that in 2007 I'm not going to be doing QUITE as much. I've had a GRATE time, but OH BOY i is KNACKERED!
Another Blow Against Our Robot Overlords
Following on from yesterday's TRAUMA, i am happy to report that I am once again reporting from my home WORKSTATION. It was a lengthy tussle, but let's just say "scanreg/restore" and I'll leave you to imagine your own version of the BATTLE ROYALE that took place here last night. TAKE THAT, SKYLAB!
Afternoon all, and a Happy Holiday to one and all! I hope you're having a LOVELY Christmas, I have had a DELIGHTFUL one so far - we had our own Melford Road Christmas on the 23rd, which was GRATE. It featured a LOT of food, as cooked by me, also MANY kinds of BOOZE and presents VARIOUS. It was LOVELY! Then I headed over to Peterborough to see FAAAMILY, which was all very pleasant, and then got home again yesterday (along with thousands of other people who might JUST PERHAPS have thought MAYBE the ENTIRE Rail Network didn't NEED to be shut down for 60 hours) for some RELAXING.
HOWEVER a bit of a Christmas Spanner was thrown in the Festive Works last night - I'd just been tidying up our computer at home, ready for a day of a) organising b) playing Settlers IV c) interweb ACTION and was downstairs setting the VIDEO for "Torchwood" when I was called upstairs by the Dynamic Links In My Library, who had found that the computer was KNACKERED. I tried everything i could think of (largely consisting of ringing Mr Francis Albert Machine for help, who GROWLED when i told him we were still running Windows 98...) and then fell into a brief DESPOND at the thought of a whole WEEK without computer. HOWEVER HOWEVER i have since popped into WORK (i am there now) and have found a SLEW of possible solutions, so hopefully all will be well again soon. It has been, however, a bit of a SHOCKER, but a trip to BORDERS to spend my Christmas Vouchers [twice over] has been of some help. MORE Judge Dredd Case Files! HOORAH!
With any luck I'll be able to get in a bit of PRACTICE tomorrow for GIG 50 which is TOMORROW NIGHT! YOINKS! If you're wavering on whether to come or not then PLEASE land on the side that says "To heck with it! Let's DO IT!" as I think it's going to be quite a good night. As previously stated, I'll be doing two sets - a warm-up featuring some NEW and OTHER material, then later an UBERSET, with my VERY special guest Dr Neil Brown appearing between the two to play one of his RARE but always EXCITING LIve Sets. I know I should be excited about MY 50th gig, but it's the chance to sing along with a live rendition of "Dog On The Horizon" that is occupying my THRILL CIRCUITS at the moment.
So yes, I'll be at The Union Tavern, upstairs in the function room, from 7pm, and the SINGING will commence at 8pm prompt. If you can make it it'd be lovely if you did so, if not I shall report back here forthwith!
Out of Office AutoReply: The Last Working Day of The Month, Issue 23
I've just sent out the latest issue of the NEWSLETTER, the last for the year, and received back a HUGE list of out Out Of Office AutoReplies, as MANY people have taken the opportunity to NOT come in to work. I'm sat in the office at the moment finishing things off (i.e. doing the newsletter!) but will be heading home, hopefully, quite soon. There should still be some updates over the next week or so, notably (if i get the time/can be arsed to do it) updates of the STATS page. There'll also be a report back on GIG 50 at The Union Tavern next week - if you fancy coming along and helping me celebrate a HALF CENTURY of ROCK this year, do please do so - i'll be there from around 7pm, the GIG will start at 8pm PROMPT, and it'll all be done and dusted by 10pm. Oh yeah, and it's not, technically, a GIG, it's a "Private Party", so feel free to wear PARTY FROCKS!
Right then, I'm OUTTA this crazy joint - a Merry Christmas to all our readers, and see you after Boxing Day!
Half Man Half Biscuit
Myself and The Strings On My Guitar headed out WEST last night, to go and see the fantastic Half Man Half Biscuit at The Shepherd's Bush Empire. It took us AGES to get there due to TRANE, so we missed out on meeting Mr S (Carsmile) Hewitt in the pub and, once inside, in the venue itself. As Mr Andy Wright, proprietor of The Princess Charlotte, said many years ago (SIDEBAR: we supported the Biscuits one night and had been promised some CA$H by Andy if enough people came - afterwards he said he couldn't pay us, I pointed out that the room had been PACKED and he said...) "it's not full, it's just that everyone's fat" (after which I didn't have the heart to ask again). This was not exactly true last night, as it WAS packed with MANY people, but it was certainly a more PORTLY audience than you'd get at, say, BabyShambles, and it made it difficult, once things had started, to go and find PALS. We found Mr M Breach and Mr J Kell as soon as we went in, but pretty soon we were SURROUNDED.
It was also a slightly DIFFERENT crowd from at most gigs - people were generally OLDER, and it was clear that MANY of them were not really regular gig goers - ANNOYINGLY loads of punters thought it was a REALLY GOOD IDEA to stand leaning on the bar ROLLING A CIGGIE when you were trying to get past, as if it were their LOCAL. However this was more than offset by the LOVELY atmosphere - i ended up chatting to several complete strangers, all of whom were excited and/or pleased to be there.
Soon HMHB were on stage, and they were GRATE. The sound took a couple of songs to get sorted, but after that it was ACE. A few weeks ago I'd used TECHNICAL MATH to work out the HMHB UBERSET and had burnt a copy for The LaZer In My CD Player, that she might do some GIG HOMEWORK beforehand, and I was pleased to find pretty much EVERYTHING got played. There was a LOT of between song REMARKS, many of which I assume will become part of SONGS in future, especially "he sparked a heated debate on vogue.com", and quite a lot of stuff about Golf Clubs (NB not putters, woods, irons etc. but ASSOCIATIONS for the pursuit of the sport). There was also, i noticed, LOADS of mentions about Christmas, as it cropped up in several songs. I guess it's just because it's the FESTIVE SEASON, but I really noticed how often it was mentioned in otherwise unrelated songs ("Advent in the high street, in point and sing - busk when it's Christmas, you only busk when it's Christmas" in "Shit Arm, Bad Tattoo", which was also one of the BEST songs all night), in much the same way as i noticed several of OUR songs mention it too. SHOCKING CULTURAL INSIGHT: Christmas, it's a Big Deal!
There were several STANDOUT BITS too - I'd not heard the extended version of "24 Hour Garage People", which was VERY extended, and was EXCITED BEYOND IMAGINING when they did "Country Practice" for the first time in YEARS at a gig that I was AT. It was FANTASTIC, there was a LOT of extra stuff in it, and my only sadness is that SOMEONE texted Tim to tell him he was missing it, and probably made him CRY - now THAT'S not very Christmassy is it?
What WAS Christmassy was the encore - "It's A Cliche To Be Cynical At Christmas"! HOORAH! There had been SOME discussion beforehand over whether they might do this, so there was LOUD cheers when they came back on with a CELLO and some backing singers, and it was BRILLIANT. The whole thing was Actually Quite Moving, and hearing it played AT Christmas was lovely. Ooh, i felt all FESTIVE!
There was also a CLASH cover, and ended with a ROUSING version of the end of "The Best Things In Life" (i.e. "Writing on the sole of your slipper with a biro...") which, rather AMAZINGLY, included a bit where the band stopped player and the audience sang the last line on their own - STADIUM ROCK!
It was all FANTASTIC anyway, and we were SWEPT out into the cold along with the rest of the crowd HAPPY at such an ACE night. HOORAH for GIGS!
Wearing Myself Out Again
It's nearly the end of the working year, I've just had a BEER for lunch, and so I thought I'd spend a jolly afternoon tidying up WORK stuff and making a start on one of my PROJECTS for the festive period - re-writing the GIG INFO for all the gigs I've done this year, and putting in LINKS from the 2006 GIGS page to the original blog entries. I thought it would be a pleasant way to spend an hour or so.
90 Minutes later and I'm only a quarter of the way through, and in need of a LIE DOWN. CRIKEY! I know 50 gigs was a LOT, but it feels like even more when you have to read about them all. And BLIMEY but some of them feel like a LONG time ago - was it really on this year that I played in that abandoned warehouse in sheffield? Or had to FIGHT somebody in Leeds? It all feels like SO LONG AGO, I am a bit FLUMMOXED by it all!
Still, onwards I shall toil, and hopefully have it all online by the New Year. In the meantime I've pretty much finished the next issue of the newsletter, have done a couple of (very long!) email INTERVIEWS, and am finally getting somewhere with writing a song based on the demo tracks Mr Frankie Machine sent me. There may be LESS gigs to come in the new year, but there shall surely be some ROCK!
I don't know why, but we seem to be in the midst of a FESTIVE FLURRY of album reviews, as we find ANOTHER one, Just Here - and very nice it is too!
All is becoming QUIET and RESTFUL here in my World Of ROCK, as we prepare for the Festive Period. I've got a week and a bit OFF this year, so will be sending out the newsletter on Friday and then DECAMPING to Chez Me for the rest of the year, where I shall be working away on a number of Web Enhancing Projects, including a seasonal update to the STATS page (i am VERY excited about this one) and, if i remember, an update to the 2006 Gigs page with a brief SUMMARY of each that we've done.
I shall also be spending a LOT of time wandering round the house, drinking tea, or sitting on my Festive Backside watching DVDs. HOORAH for ChRISTMAS!
The That: BACK
OK, I can contain myself no longer - until now i have kept CALM and QUIET about it, but here we go: OMG! THE THAT! WHOOOO!!!!
Or, to put it another way - as stated elsewhere, I had a LOVELY relaxing Saturday doing Not Much, a large chunk of which was spent watching The X Factor. I've really enjoyed this series, although it's been a bit spoilt by pretty much knowing Leona was going to WIN for the past 10 weeks, and thoroughly enjoyed the final. I liked it when Weird Ray stopped halfway through one of his BIZARRE PASTICHES and said "Ladies and Gentlemen - Westlife!" as it suddenly made him look MUCH better - and INDEED seemed to PEP even THEM up a bit, as they were finally on stage with someone who was at least ONCE HUMAN.
Foolishly, i took me a while to TWIG what was going on when Leona came on and started doing "A Million Love Songs". It's a GRATE song, and she did SUCH a lovely and DIFFERENT version of it that it was a while before I thought "Hang on... if they've just had Westlife on, does this mean... could it be?" and then LO! THE THAT WALKED AMONGST US!
As I have mentioned IN SONG and, on many occasions, IN THE PUB, I have always LOVED Take That. They are UTTERLY GRATE and anyone who says not is JUST BEING SILLY. When Gary's solo career was RUBBISH I was sorely disappointed and in a bad mood for A Good While, when Little Mark was on Celebrity Big Brother i ACTUALLY CRIED when I saw people holding signs saying "We Never Forgot!", and when they made The Other Four wait around in a hotel for AGES on that documentary waiting to see if Robbie would turn up it was all I could do to stop myself going round to the house of the documentary maker who orchestrated this unnecessary humiliation and TELLING HIM OFF. So yes, I do tend to get a bit over-excited when THE THAT are on telly, and when they came back on to do "Patience" NO HUMAN FORCE ON EARTH would have been able to drag me away from the TV.
It was ACE - yay, even BETTER than the recorded version - and I like to think that during the course of the programme THE THAT were STALKING the corridors, looking to BEAT UP Westlife for being 15th rate shitehawks trading off their legacy and GETTING IT WRONG at every turn. I also think it rather demonstrates Simon Callow's desperation to make sure Leona won, but hey! I am not complaining!
I pledged there and then to go out and buy the new album today, and LO! at lunchtime i did this very thing, and am RELIEVED to find it too is ACE. There's loads of TUNES, there's some bellowing from Howard, Little Mark squeaks around a bit, and there's a SMASHING last tune called "Wooden Boat". I read a lot of IDIOT reviews that said it was boring because it wasn't the "Hi NRG DISCO" of old Take That... well, I've GOT those old albums, and after the first album there really wasn't much of that at ALL. It strikes me that Some People have created a false image of Take That which ALLOWS them to like them. "Oh yes, Take That - it was all really cheesy and HILARIOUS and all they ever did was that video with the jelly, let's all go to FCUKING HOXTON and think it's a good idea!" when really what they were were an ACTUAL BOY BAND, with EVERYTHING that goes with it. They were never ever EVER cool in any way shape or form, and they were never lauded by The Critics, who now seem to find themselves struggling to find a way to cope with the FACT that SO very many of us LOVED them and and CHUFFED to see them back.
I mean, look at All Saints - THEY were cool and "edgy", but who cares that they're back too? Nobody actually LIKED them - and when I say "LIKED" i mean "LIKED", as in Would Like To Meet Them, Think They Are Inherently A GOOD Thing, and Would Actually Buy Their Records. The TRIUMPHANT RETURN of The That is, I would suggest, a VICTORY for all that is GOOD and PURE and HAS A CHORUS in The British Pop Music, and I personally SALUTE them!
The Good Ship
I spent most of the weekend LOLLING AROUND, not doing much and generally having a NICE time. I particularly enjoyed doing a big pile of IRONING whilst watching my "Life On Mars" DVD - oh yes, my life is such a marathon of ROCK AND ROLL INTENSITY that watching TV whilst IRONING is, when I do it, EXTREME ENTERTAINMENT. To the MAX!
Anyway, on Sunday afternoon I got into my (IRONED) Gig Trousers and set off for Kilburn, for the Sorted All-Dayer to promote Hollow Smoke (now available in SHOPS, on AMAZON or from Sorted Records). I arrived to find Former Utopia (aka GEORGE) just finishing, with a much LOUDER sound than previously witnessed by me. Tom was already there, Tim soon arrived, and then we were joined by Jimmy from The Bobby McGees and Charlie from the Fighting Cocks. At one point I was sat with Tim, Jimmy and Charlie and it felt like i was in a CHRISTMAS CROSSOVER SPECIAL: When People I Hang Around With At Gigs UNITE! Seeing Jimmy and Charlie talk to each other also made me want to LARF out LOUD at the GRATENESS of such things - i meet some TOP QUALITY people in this Life Of ROCK upon which I have embarked, but they tend to be positioned in different parts of the country. If Mr E Bewsher, for instance, had also turned up i think my BRANE might have exploded.
We then watched the bands (various) who were on before us, and I was a bit STUNNED by the QUALITY on display. I've been to a LOT of Leicester Bands All-Dayers and usually... well, let's just say that usually there are obvious "stand-out" bands who are... um... even MORE good than the others. Yes. As I may have mentioned last week, something seems to have happened since I've been away and suddenly Leicester is bursting at the seems with GRATE bands, all of whom are very different from each other. Pacific Ocean Fire, for instance (who contain two chaps I have seen at gigs for over a DECADE but never really spoken to) are NOTHING AT ALL like Chapter 24, but both were ACE - I especially liked the way Chapter 24 pulled the song titles out of a HAT instead of having a setlist. I also enjoyed our OLD PALS, Lazarus Clamp and The Bobby McGees, both SETS of dead nice people who continue to ROCK ON whilst still being GOOD. It was ALL good!!
It was quite a long afternoon though, it was nearly four hours before we were able to get going, but eventually me, Tim and Tom (or TEAM CLEATOR MOOR) took to the stage, and did THIS:
The first couple of songs were EXTREMELY shaky - we'd not had a chance to soundcheck, we couldn't hear much, and my guitar went fairly rapidly out of tune, but once we'd got used to being there we began, I believe, to ROCK. SATISFYINGLY people came over to the GIG area and - heavens be praised! - many people began to DANCE. It was GRATE! We finished a bit sweaty but a LOT pleased.
Tim had to get home so we packed him up and had a GOODBYE HUG (of ROCK), then Tom ALSO had to get going, so we repeated the process. I felt a bit sad to be saying cheerio to them at this point - that's the end of our ROCKING YEAR together, and it's been a HECK of YEAR for all that sort of thing. However, I STEELED myself and returned to the FRAY, intending to have a quick look at The Dirty Backbeats and then sneak out, BUT they were SO VERY EXCITING to watch and also EXCELLENT I ended up staying to watch the whole set. As I say - bands from Leicester never usually USED to be this much fun to watch (HONOROUBLE EXCEPTIONS: Prolapse, Voon [hem hem], GNARF!) and it was a JOY to see.
I went for the train EAST with George and after some debate I decided NOT to follow the Jubilee line all the way to Stratford and change at Bond Street, which turned out to be an EXCELLENT decision as I got the Last Train East and spent the next half hour WINCING as, at every station to Liverpool Street, people FLEW onto the platform and went WHAM into the closing doors as they missed the train.
I got home KNACKERED but relieved - forty nine down, ONE to go!
After I last REPORTED BACK I strolled back to my hotel room and had a NAP. ROCK AND ROLL my friend! I awoke with a START as my phone went off, had a shower and then set off for the venue, feeling TIRED and GROGGY, but also CLEAN.
I arrived to find things not started yet, so left my gear and went round to SURPRISE Mr Whitaker with my presence. We had a cup of tea and a chat, then I went back to SUMO to have another chat, this time with the lovely chaps who were running the evening, and then to do a quick soundcheck. There was only me and one other band on - the whole thing was a bit LASHED TOGETHER with STRING, as originally the gig had meant to be at another venue, so I was only playing because another band had dropped out, and the promoters had also only JUST taken over running gigs at Sumo, so they were honouring previous bookings and weren't sure what all the bands would be like, and which of them would actually turn up to play. There MIGHT have been another band playing this particular gig, for instance, but they didn't show up.
Anyway, that done i went back to fetch The Whitaker and we went to THE TAMARIND, a lovely Indian Restaurant just off the Narborough Road that myself and The Sauce In My Balti used to FREQUENT while I lived nearby, and also where we had several AAS Christmas Outings. We were both rather MOVED by the fact that The Proprietor remembered us and came over to say hello, and we had a LOVELY tea. I had BALTI, as is my tradition, and it was ACE. These days we tend to soundcheck a bit earlier and play a bit later, which is a BIT chafing in that you have to be more careful about what you DRINK and also means you get HOME a bit later, but the GRATE thing is that you DON'T have to just eat Hurried Chips when you is doing gigs, sometimes you can get a SIT DOWN TEA.
Once we were finished we headed back to Sumo again, there to be met by Messrs Dixey, Lawson, Sutcliffe and, soon, Dr Brown, and we had a RIGHT good time discussing many topics. The other band came on and we soon had to STOP, stand up, and go and LOOK at them, just to check they were really doing what they thought they were. They all looked about 17, and so of course I was expecting EMO or SKA PUNK, but NO: they were playing PROG! Let's be clear on this - I don't mean JAZZ PROG, nor old-school TWEE PROG of the CARAVAN ilk, no even the modern PROG PUNK of the Bearsuit/Retro Spankees kind. I mean STADIUM PROG, the 80'S kind,the sort of thing GENESIS or MARILLION might play. There were guitar solos, MANY tempo changes, PRECISE drumming and a HUGE keyboard - one felt for the LACk of smoke machines, and one felt that at any point KAYLEIGH would be sung.
We stood slack jawed watching in amazement - if they had been twenty years older we would have POURED SCORN and RAGE upon them, but there was something rather SWEET about it, and they were VERY good at it. It was also ChARMING to note that Some Things Never Change: two Girlfriends Of The Band were stood halfway down the room, looking proudly on, several PARENTS were stood near the band, wearing the Parents At A Gig uniform of Ironed Jeans and Nice Jackets, and down the front, i am OVERJOYED to report, was Mate Of The Band, mouthing all the words, dancing along, and generally REALLY WANTING TO BE ON STAGE. Come on lads, you haven't got a bass player, GIVE HIM A CHANCE!
It was all very lovely and we were in high spirits, which is possibly why we fell into THE VAN GAME i.e. shouting song and movie titles with one of the words subsituted with "VAN". Examples included "The van Who Loved Me", "On Her Majesty's Secret Van", "I Want To Hold Your Van", "How Deep Is Your Van", "Why Don't We Do It In The Van?" and so on, and on, and on and on. OH how we LARFED! It was all I could do to tear myself away, and, after a nostalgia-fuelled attempt to do "She's A Spaceman" which was ended by me not actually remembering how to play it, i did THIS:
I had a FINE old time. There wasn't really many people there - apart from my CREW there was Glynn and some pals, including the Mighty JIM, and a couple of the parents of the other band, but that was about it. The other band stayed for a couple of songs, talked to each other LOUDLY at the front for a bit, and then left, which is a little NAUGHTY but HEY! they are YOUNG and will either learn or be taught. I didn't really mind though as I was having SUCH good fun singing the songs - including LOADS of new ones. There was no WAY I wasn't going to do an encore, and so It Didn't Take Much and when Mr Whitaker DEMANDED Red & White Sockets I realised that I had now done TWO of the THREE songs of mine that have appeared on Sorted Compilations, so might as well do the third, HENCE the two song encore. To be honest I could quite happily have gone on all night, as I was enjoying it so much, but thought perhaps I'd better not.
With that all finished off we had a bit more chat, before I said cheerio to the Lovely Promoter Guys, Happy Christmas to the pals that had to get home, and "Oh, all right then" to the idea of popping over to The Orange Tree for a Quiet Last Pint, which we had with GRATE pleasure.
I got a taxi "home" and went to bed very very happy that I've been able to do these Christmas gigs, CHUFFED that I had now CRUSHED my previous Personal Best for Gigs In A Year LIKE AN ANT, and RELIEVED that the two remaining gigs to take me up to FIFTY were going to be nice and near to home. It has been a MIGHTY GOOD FUN year for GIGS, and BOY have I enjoyed it!
It was an early DASH from work for me last night as i JUST managed to get the train up to Nottingham - note to self, it's STILL further than you think to St Pancras, ESPECIALLY compared to Kings Cross. It's been in it's new place for YEARS now, why do i always forget this FACT?
Anyway, I got to Nottingham with HOURS to spare, so thought I'd have a go on the TRAM. The tram map wasn't HUGELY helpful - it showed the route of the tram, but was missing most of the NAMES OF THE TRAM STOPS, also the names of the flipping STREETS it actually went down. The map looked very SLEEK and TIDY, but not actually very informative... anyway, i checked it against my own map and reckoned I could get a tram roughly in my direction, so DID so. It was VERY nice and VERY futuristic, and i LOVED it when it ZOOMED over Nottingham, passed familiar shops and sites, and was sorry that I was only going a short distance on it.
I got off and was back in the Nottingham that I know and... well, don't really like. I realise my anti-Nottingham feelings are founded in BIAS, not least the fact that I lived in LEICESTER for 14 years and so came to look upon it as THE ENEMY. There's LOADS of lovely people there and we pretty much ALWAYS have a GRATE time when we gig there but there always seems to be an atmosphere about the place. It's sort of like The Midlands in the STAR TREK MIRROR UNIVERSE.
I was MUSING upon this when I arrived and thus was RELIEVED to find Sam Tasty, the promoter, sporting NEITHER a goatee beard NOR an eyepatch... although the pub WAS conforming to all known Nottingham Stereotypes by telling him that they USED to have four way adaptors, but they had been NICKED.
I knew the Vlads weren't going to be getting there for AGES, so after briefly greeting Mr Pete Green I headed off to SQUEAKS, an veggie restaurant I had seen on the Interweb. It was dead nice, tho i was STUFFED full of VEG and SAUSAGE and GRAVY by the end of it, and wobbled back to the venue a DENSER Hibbett than I had been when I left. I had a nice chat with various people, including Mr Green, sundry Chemistry Experimenteers and COHORTS, various BOWLIE types, and the unlucky Marianthi who, once Pete had told me she was setting up a record label to release his record, was unable to avoid the DIATRIBE OF ADVICE. In my defence, before I even begun i said "Here is some advice: it will be quite boring and will last a LONG time, because it is (as previously stated) quite boring and so i very rarely get the chance to subject people to it." It is, however, GOOD ADVICE. Just a bit boring.
Mr Machine arrived, ASTONISHED to find he wasn't the last to get there, with some Lardponies and PandaZ, and soon it was time for Horowitz, who were REALLY good. It was loud and drum machiney and a bit Jesus & Mary Chain-y and there were REALLY GRATE GUITAR BITS in it and it was THOROUGHLY GRATE. I really enjoyed it!
The Pattisons arrived and, now quorate due to THE TIGER being off sick with a virus, we fell to a general CHAT and LARF, before it was time for Mr Pete Green. This was the first time I'd seen him since he'd taken up my (not quite as boring, but still) ADVICE to get a guitar strap, and I must say i was RELIEVED to say he was taking to it WELL. He even did the EXCITING thing of finishing a song and DRAMATICALLY walking away from the microphone afterwards, something it took me AGES to work out. Before the set he'd said "The only thing with playing standing up is it makes it harder to play bar chords" - and he said it like this was a BAD thing, so obviously he still has a LITTLE way to go, but apart from that it was ACE - Crowd was HELD and FUN was very much HAD. HOORAH!
We missed most of The Orchards due to "discussion" (NB Ritual ARGUMENT) about the setlist. It usually a rhythm section thing - Tim always wants to do something different, I always want to do things i KNOW (NB when I say "Rhythm Section" in this context i mean, of course "Old Gits") and Frankie just likes saying "Oh no, we can't possibly do that" at random intervals, to see what happens. EVENTUALLY we sorted it out, with the agreement that, as this was pretty much the LAST time we were going to do a (nearly) full-band gig with the WE VALIDATE! Tour Set, we might as well do it properly, and went upstairs.
Once The Orchards had finished we FLEW into action - it was gone eleven o'clock by now, and The Pattisons had baby sitters to get back for, and also we all worried about the traditional People Being Too Drunk And Going Home PERIL that occurs at this point of some evenings. We got everything set up (including the drums, which until then had been in their boxes) and were ready to GO... then stood around for five minutes whilst the RAFFLE occurred. That done... we stood around for a bit whilst Joey The Compere did a SONG, and THEN, my friends, THEN we did THIS:
It was GRATE - although it begun RATHER shakily. We'd not done ANY soundchecking, so levels were all OVER the place - the GTR was especially RUM, especially especially when I tried using my footswitch, and it took a few goes to SORT it. It also didn't help that i bust a string in the first song - FOOLISHLY i had CONSCIOUSLY THOUGHT beforehand "I won't bother getting my other guitar out, it'll be FINE" and was considering what to do when the HEROIC guitarist from Horowitz LOOMED out of the crowd to lend me his. THANK YOU! We also couldn't really hear what we were doing, but everybody in the audience seemed quite happy and so we STEAMED through it, and MUCH fun was had, with DANCING from all corners, SWEATINESS from similar and, I must say, some EXCITING (to me at least) GTR HISTRIONICS towards the end.
By the time we'd finished we REALLY had to go, so the ENCORE was done at EXTREMELY HIGH SPEED... and actually sounded the better for it. Once completed we packed up EVERYTHING at double quick pace and PILED into cars, pausing only to say thanks VERY much to the MANY lovely people who were there. It'd been GRATE!
I stayed over at The Pattisons', and this morning got the bus into Leicester where I'm staying at a HOTEL - hey, i've been POORLY, i gots to take care of myself! So far I have had a bit of a wander round (I'm currently in the foyer of BBC Leicester, where there are free interwebs), watched a bit of cricket, and had a CHARMING lunch with Dr Neil Brown, consisting of a DOSA: it's the Exciting Food Craze Of The Future!
And tonight I'm off to SUMO, hopefully to ROCK it, and in the process SHATTER my own personal record for Most Gigs In A Year. HOORAH! HOORAH for ROCK!
More Gigs... and GIG 50
I've just updated the GIGS page with a few gigs for NEXT year - as I've said before, I'm going to try and do MUCH less gigging in 2007 as a) it is KNACKERING me out and b) I have a Decorations On My Christmas Tree who i would actually like to SEE a bit more often, but I am still planning to do SOME gigs - and these ones are all quite EXCITING!
In the meantime tho I've still got four more gigs to go to achieve my SLIGHTLY DAFT ambition to do fifty gigs in 2006, and last night i BOOKED what will (all being well) GIG 50! I've decided to do something a bit different for this one, and so have booked me a ROOM above a PUB in That London. Technically it is going to be a PRIVATE PARTY (INVITATIONS to be sent out in the next NEWSLETTER), and it's going to be A Bit Different. First of all there's going to be no PA used, it's going to be TOTALLY ACOUSTICAL. Secondly there won't be an entry fee, but there will (probably) be a RAFFLE to pay for the room hire - the prize will be a UNIQUE ROCK ARTIFACT to be created on the night. Thirdly ... er... there always has to be a thirdly doesn't there? Oh yeah, THIRDLY it will start and end EARLY so that people don't have to hang around too long after work, and also anyone who wants to get the train home can DO so - I'll be there from 7pm (ish), the MUSIC will begin at 8 o'clock (featuring ME and a couple of pals) and it should all be over WELL before 10pm, so's everyone can get home if they need to. It'll be at The Union Tavern in Clerkenwell, That London, on Friday December 29th, and hopefully it'll be a LOVELY end to a year packed full of ROCK!
MEANWHILE I'm back at work today with stuff to DO and NOTTINGHAM to catch a train to just before four o'clock, so I'd best get on!
One last bit of blogging for today - Thursday's gig in Leicester has been succesfully reorganised and will now be occurring at SUMO, on Braunstone Gate. I think there'll be charging on the door for this one, I'm afraid, but I don't think it'll be a HUGE amount. If you were thinking of coming before I hope you'll consider heading over to the West End to the new venue, and please do tell anybody else who was contemplating attending - thanks!
These things seem to come in pairs - we've just had a couple more reviews in for WE VALIDATE!. The first is a rather lovely one from that nice Mr Crayola from Sarandon that's just gone up on Diskant. He makes the link that a number of other people have made between us and PROPER INDIE, and he is an EXPERT in such matters, so he should know! I always find it odd that this is so obvious, as although i feel PROUD that people would think we could fit into such a mighty lineage, it's not actually music that I listened to at the time or very much since, but I am also rather CHUFFED about it.
The second review is in the paper version of Beat Motel (and also a little way down on our WE VALIDATE! reviews page). It ALSO is a really nice review - I always think it's a bit naughty when reviews review the press release that comes with a CD, as nobody else is going to read it and, really, it doesn't have any bearing on how anybody else will enjoy (or otherwise) the album, although, I have to admit, I does think she has a good point! In future I shall endevour to utilise the bits of that quote that DOESN'T slag off other bands, honest!
Saturday lunchtime this weekend just gone saw me STRUGGLING up the steps at Leytonstone High Road station with a guitar on my back, a guitar in my hand, a wheely case of STUFF trundling behind me, and on my mind a FEAR, for LO! i had incurred THE WRATH OF TIM.
A few hours earlier I had been getting ready to set off to Leicesteshire for our Christmad Gig in the Woodhouse Eaves Village Hall when Tim had called to check what we were doing for amps, and I confessed that I'd just assumed it'd be OK, and as far as I knew we had amps for Tom and Rob, but NAUGHT for me. Tim was not best pleased with this, as he'd been dashing around sorting a PA out, so I said I'd sort it out - HOW, i did not know. I got onto the train for Leicester and consulted with Tom and also Frankie, to little avail, after which I had a BRANE WAVE: for heaven's sake, this KEEPS happening - I'm 36, shouldn't I have a GUITAR AMP of my OWN?
Thus I arranged to meet Tom at Sheehan's music shop, opposite the station, and was soon STRIDING in... only to find it full of ACOUSTIC guitars only. OH. After a while a GENTLE FOLK HIPPY came over and, after questioning, revealed that they DID have an electrical guitar shop, but it was two doors down. It'd been a while since I'd been in there, so thanked him and exited AVALON, strode a few feet down the road, and entered VALHALL.
I asked for some help and then answered the phone to Tom. He'd gone into the wrong shop - what a twit eh? CUH! Doesn't he KNOW they have two shops? He soon came in along with his lovely girlfriend Rachel, who I'd not met before, and whose first impression of me was based on me standing with my AXE around my neck, ROCKING OUT. I think that's fair enough - it's pretty much the MEAN STATE of me, isn't it?
Anyway, we tried out an amp that was on OFFER - it's a Fender 900 (i think - it's still in The Midlands at the moment) with an in-built tuner and a FOOT SWITCH, and it is GRATE. We very easily got an ACE sound out of it (and later I was OVERJOYED when Mr F Machine set it up so I could EASILY use the foot pedals, and have it sound BLOODY GRATE), it was knocked down from £349 to £299, and best of all it still had a green card label in the shape of a star saying "WOW" on it. On condition i could keep the "WOW" star, I bought it. After a tense moment they agreed to my condition, and thus it was a VERY pleased Hibbett who was soon struggling along the road to The Tigermobile, feeling EXTREMELY ROCK AND ROLL with his new amplifier. AT LAST, we are a BAND COMPLETE!
We got to Woodhouse Eaves Village Hall to discover Tim surrounded by GEAR. It was a BIG PA, and we spent a thoroughly enjoyable couple of hours putting it together - it was like CHRISTMAS with MECCANO! The only problem came early on, when we couldn't work out where two particular wires went. Tim didn't want to admit defeat to the Big Men At The PA Hire Place, so Tom rang for him, and we soon got it sorted out. Were we pleased with ourselves? YES! Did we feel EXTRA MANLY? VERY MUCH SO!
Francis Albert once again demonstrated his TELEPATHIC POWERS by showing up JUST as we were finishing off, and so we set to with the preliminary soundcheck. It sounded GRATE! Emma arrived and we did the proper soundcheck and that TOO sounded GRATE - being a soundman is EASY!
Emma went off to get CHIPS while we worked out the setlist. You'd think it'd get easier as you get more songs that (in theory) you can play, but this does not seem to be the case, as now everybody feels FREE to say "No, let's not do that one, I don't really like it." Where once we would play ANYTHING that we had played from beginning to end ONCE, nowadays we are PICKY, and so we spent AGES arguing about it. The NICE thing about being in The Village Hall, however, was that some arguments could be easily settled. For instance, i stated that I was unsure whether I remembered how to play Tell Me Something You Do Like so we went back on stage and had a go. It was BRILLIANT!
We had our chips, tidied up, listened to Turk soundchecking the Tube Bar discotheque, and then had a nervous hour or so waiting for people to turn up. It was a bit strange watching people come in, as they were a curious mixture of GROOVY VILLAGERS and Big City GROOVERS, a little nervous to be out in the countryside. As ever I was IMPRESSED at the efforts some people had made to get there, especially the BOWLIE MASSIVE who'd come en masse to see us, and was all pleased with how it was turning out.
As far as I was concerned, it was GRATE. From where we were standing the sound was ACE, and it felt REALLY good to be all playing together. I particularly enjoyed playing with my different pedal settings during We Only Ever Meet In Church, and it was EXCITING to be able to do The Advent Calendar Of FACT as a band in The Live Environment at long last. We had FUN.
Apparently, however, the vocals we a bit unclear, which does go A LONG WAY to explaining why my HILARIOUS remarks between songs didn't get COLOSSAL LAFFS (and that is the ONLY explanation). It also felt a bit ODD, with everybody sitting down a LONG way away, but it also felt NICE, and as I say, we had a GOOD time.
Afterwards I had CHATS with several people, including my PALS Chris, Karen and Jamie who had come hence from Leicester, as well as Ellen who'd come once again from Blackpool, and soon Our Group were GETTING ON DOWN to the Tube Bar Disco. OH the SHAPES that were THROWN! And OH the SITTINGS DOWN that were necessitated by the frequent bouts of NUTTY DANCING!
When we finally left the building Turk became embroiled in argument with a woman who claimed that all he'd played was eighties music, and that ALL eighties music (not just Eighties Theme Bar Eighties Music) was shite. It got a bit HEATED, so Tim went over to drag Turk away... and became EMBROILED in it himself. The rest of us went back to Chez Pattison and I must confess i was SO knackered I had to put myself straight to bed.
Next morning I felt a little unwell - can't THINK why that would be - and would have liked to have sat still, in bed, with a cup of tea, but ALAS this was not to be, as we had to go back to the hall and pack away. This meant bringing down the entire PA, packing it away, and then loading it into Tim's car. THEN we did the same for all our gear and packed it into Emma's car, and THEN we variously packed up the disco, put away the tables and chairs, and tidied up the hall. There weren't as many of us doing it as the night before and we were all a bit groggy, so it WASN'T a huge amount of fun, and things weren't helped by the fact that Turk's car alarm was broken and going off every two minutes, rising to a CONTINOUS HEAD MANGLING BLEEP for the last half hour.
Happily Emma was able top give me a lift into Leicester, so I didn't need to wait for the bus, and i was RELIEVED beyond measure to finally find myself sat down on the train. I was, however, ABSOLUTELY KNACKERED and feeling QUITE UNWELL, and was not entirely surprised to find i was once again suffering from BABOON BOTTOM!
For recent readers and for those who've blocked it out of their minds, this is something I had a year or so ago really badly (and occasionally get when I'm a bit run down) where my Psoriasis flares up like MAD in one PARTICULAR area and... well, makes my bum turn bright red. It's a bit like having an arse-shaped health-related LITMUS ARSE!
THUS I spent the afternoon and next day mostly lying in bed feeling sorry for myself, and today wandering round the house feeling a bit tender, and HENCE the delay in posting this report. I hope to be back at work tomorrow tho, and ready to ROCK tomorrow night!
Thursday: IN FLUX
Just a quicky for this one - Thursday night's gig is currently TEETERING, as The Basement Bar is double booked and the booking they're going with isn't ours! My AGENTS are currently at work trying to find a suitable other venue, so if you were thinking of coming please check here before you set off - I'll send an email out as soon as i know to Midlands people on the email too!
Two small THORTS for today, as I've been off POORLY today and yesterday, and thus have had time to percolate such things.
First of all, this story about David Cameron getting BUSTED for not having a tube ticket, am I being cynical, or could that have been CYNICALLY PLANNED, just so that they'd report the bit about him being on the way to a Morrissey gig? And also the FACT that he was only allowed out because his wife ("a hip hop fan" according to the paper) was already going to a Christmas Party - the implications being a) she doesn't like that sort of thing b) he REALLY does tho and so c) aah, bless - surely is PERFECTLY PLANNED to make his precise target audience (i.e. people like ME who'd NEVER even THINK of voting Tory) start to WARM to him even more. GODDAMIT Cameron, don't start going to see The Wedding Present, you'll give us all DARK NIGHTS OF THE SOUL!
Secondly, is it me, or does this years Christmas First Class Stamp look like Santa is taking a DUMP down the chimney?
I got to bed last night having just discovered that i had RIPPED my trousers right down the side... I'm not sure how it happened, all I know is it was one small thread of the ROCK TAPESTRY that was CAMBRIDGE last night: i had a FINE old time!
It didn't start out looking that way though - on the train over i got myself a bit MAUDLIN due to THINKING about things, largely relating to the fact i got some rather bad news about my Nan last time I was there, and got myself A Bit Worked Up. I was thus in a bit of a Funny Old Mood when I arrived and walked round to the B&B I was booked into e.g. i got Really Rather Annoyed about the fact that I had to walk for about 2 minutes longer than I thought i would, as a footpath on my map was no longer there.
This wasn't helped when I arrived at the B&B to find that there was NO ROOM AT THE INN! There'd been a problem with another guest, or something, so I was driven round to another B&B - it was about AS far from the venue as my original (i.e. FAR AWAY), but a bit further from the station for next morning, which was Slightly Annoying. When i got there I was left in the LOBBY for five minutes and so looked at the Guest Book, which, as ever, featured a couple of DAMNING REMARKS. They ALWAYS have these in, but in my Funny Old Mood it made me a bit AFEARED of staying there. It was a perfectly fine place, like any B&B really, but the F.O.M. was working it's DREAD MAGIC upon me.
One of the comments was quite RUM tho, i thought. The place was advertised as being "half an hour from town", which it was, if you MARCHED at a decidedly BRISK pace, but someone had taken UMBRAGE: "Half an hour's walk? Not if you're EIGHT MONTHS PREGNANT!!!" it said. Was it the fault of the B&B that she was in this condition? Actually, POSSIBLY YES!
Anyway, I got myself sorted and set off for my HIKE into town. It was a long way, and gave me pause to think, yet again, what an Unusual Place Cambridge is. It LOOKS very much like Peterborough, until you notice that there's really a LOT of posters in windows, MILLIONS of bicycles everywhere, and that people are just ODD. Waiting at the train station this morning I couldn't help but NOTE that there were more BERETS, CRAVATS, SILK SCARVES, CAPES, RED NOSES and BRAYING LARFS than anywhere else in the country (NB in a nice way) and it looked as if they give The Independent out free there like elsewhere you get the Metro, as EVERYBODY seemed to be reading it. Verily, it is like a pilot scheme for a GENIOCRACY.
Eventually I made it to the Living Room, to find Phil, Steve, and young Mr Stott gathered and waiting. I soundchecked then went upstairs to get some GRUB and was ANNOYED to find that the cafe bit had the TEMERITY to be fully booked. HOW DARE THEY! The F.O.M. was obviously still in effect (EIGHT MONTHS PREGNANT!) and I tried to CALM myself with a Veggie Burger in the place over the road. The CONSUMED I popped back to find the venue gently filling, with the first band soon on - they finished with a Bill Withers song, and when announcing it someone (i.e. ME) pointed out that BY LAW they had to tell The Bill Withers Joke beforehand. The singer laughed and benignly said "Hey, OK then..." and launched into a long story about how Bill Withers used to fit toilets in aeroplanes, even when he'd started having hits, and how this was an example of someone staying true to their dreams while being cautious in everyday life. He told the story a LOT better than I am here (obviously), but it WASN'T The Bill Withers Joke.
THUS I began MY set (after a quick Mince Pie - my first of the festive season!) with The Bill Withers Joke (complete with audience participation for the punchline) and then did THIS:
I had a BLOODY GRATE time! I really REALLY enjoyed myself, evidenced by a LOT of talking between songs. I particularly enjoyed the FACT that there was another member of The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B) IN THE ROOM, Mr D Boschi, and later discovered it was actually the first time he'd heard it. I've sung it so often I come close to forgetting it was REAL, and so it was extremely nice to talk to him about it, and have bits that I'd complete forgotten REMEMBERED by him.
Before the gig started Phil The Organiser had told me to be ready for a KNOCK ON THE DOOR heralding a "Surprise, Bearded, Guest" after my set, so when he arrived EARLY and started knocking two songs before the end of the set i knew who it would be... so you can imagine my HORROR when Phil opened the door and told him to come back later. I WAS KEEPING SANTA OUT IN THE COLD! MUCH fun was had with this, and like i say, i REALLY enjoyed myself.
After me there was Edwina Hayes, who was DEAD good - lovely songs which sounded quite Boo Hewerdine-y to me. This MAY be because he's pretty much the only person who i've seen before DOING that sort of thing, or at least doing it well, but it turns out she HAS written songs with him, so maybe i was being CLEVER. Anyway, her and Gtr Chap did a LOVELY set, with LOTS of talking also, and i was HAPPY.
After THEM it was Moe Foe, who I was told were a Drum N Bass Act Doing An Acoustic Set. My Funny Old Mood was nearly gone, but obviously had some FIGHT left in it, as I found myself getting a bit GRUMPY. "Pah!" i thought, "Drum N Bass, doing acoustic - bet this'll be RUBBISH!" and when they did their first song i got Unnecessarily Annoyed. "Grr!" i snarled, inwardly, "Once again, Dance Music becomes BLOODY JAZZ. PAH!"
HOWEVER. Their second song was an AMAZINGLY BRILLIANT cover of "Justified And Ancient" by The KLF and OH BABY my F.O.M. knew it was DEFEATED. There was then MORE talking, MORE fun, MORE lovely tunes and general HAPPINESS, and they finished with a FANTASTIC Christmas Medley which featured that BRAVEST of Christmas Covers: "Do They Know It's Christmas". OH YES! The only thing that may have spoilt it was some twit at the back, BELLOWING THE WORDS, WRONGLY - but HEY! I was feeling Christmassy, OK?
The evening finished with me and the Hope Street Music lot rolling up all the carpets and piling up cushions in a very small space... AHA! and then me climbing a chair and leaping on top, to try and squash them down. Hmm... maybe this explains the MYSTERIOUS TROUSER TEARING? I was very kindly given a lift back to my B&B, and went to bed full of JOY, also MINCE PIES.
I LOVE doing Christmas Gigs, Christmas Gigs are GRATE!
Santa Is Coming
I went out last night to Chicken Royale and had a LOVELY time. I didn't actually see much of any bands, but I did HANG OUT with The Cool Kids and have a nice chat, it was SMASHING. At one point we discussed whether or not it is CHRISTMAS yet: the answer, CLEARLY, is that it REALLY IS. Americans, they tell me, view THANKSGIVING as the start of Christmas, which is SLIGHTLY early, but I reckon that once the Advent Calendars are operational then it is MISTLETOE all the way for the next three and a bit weeks. CHRISTMAS!
With this in mind I've just updated out MYSPACE page with a whole SANTAS SATCHEL full of FESTIVE FUN. First up is The Advent Calendar Of FACT, which we recorded during the sessions for WE VALIDATE! but have so far only released on our Christmas Card/Compilation Kung Fu Santa With A Christmas Punchbag. I REALLY like this song - I wrote it especially for a session on Steve Lamacq's old Sunday Afternoon show, and have had very little chance to sing it since then, what with not doing any Christmas Gigs last year. I've just been learning it up again ready for the SLEW of gigs which commence TONIGHT in Cambridge, and have been very much enjoying it.
Secondly there's Give Us A Kiss For Christmas, our rather SWIFT Christmas Song from the Milk & Baubles EP, which I'm slightly amazed to find came out five YEARS ago. It was a HECK of a lot of fun recording I must say, I just wish it was a bit longer!
Finally we have a VERY special "Treat" from THE VAULTS in the form of Santa Is Coming, by the MIGHTY VOON! This is from a REALLY REALLY long time ago, and though my singing isn't perhaps QUITE as Angelic as it is these days, i trust you will agree that Dr Neil Brown's GTR playing is rather EXCELLENT. Also note: "sampling" done by ME using a tape recorder crouching in front of the telly at my Mum's house, as we were POOR STUDENTS and had no video, and indeed no TELLY. We were REALLY POOR!
Apologies, of course, to those of you who had very kindly used some of the old songs for your own profiles, I just hope these YULETIDE GOODIES will go some way towards making up for it! Merry Christmas, one and all!
The Modern Charts
EXCITINGLY I just got back this month's return from those nice people at CDBABY who deal with our iTunes (and so forth) STUFF, to tell me what SONGS we have sold this month. It's not a HUGE amount or anything but it IS Quite Jolly, so I thought I'd update my ROCK DATABASE to keep a more accurate track of what's going on, and am thus able to bring you our first ever ONLINE SALES CHART, so we can see what is going DOWN with The Kids on the The Interweb. Here we go!
FUTURISTIC, isn't it? I'd sort of expected it to be slightly different, maybe with Hey Hey 16K at the very top then This Is Not A Library, as that's the one that's completely sold out now, I certainly wasn't expecting The Lesson Of The Smiths to be QUITE as far out ahead as it is, and I'm PLEASED to discover that people are buying the NEW stuff more than the old, by and large. Hey hey, it also rather VALIDATES the decision to make the next single a The Lesson Of The Smiths/The Gay Train DOUBLE A-SIDE, doesn't it? Unless, of course, this means that all the people who'd ever WANT to have the songs now DO have them. Hmm.
You find me this morning a bit EXCITED re. Christmas, for LO! and also SING HOSANNA it is all going RATHER WELL so far. After a very pleasant Most Of The Weekend at my Mum's I got home and WRAPPED [almost] ALL of my family-based Christmas Presents (and in my family, this is a LOT) and then also PACKAGED [absolutely] ALL of the overseas presents that are required for sending to my Distant Siblings. I posted all those off at the post office this morning, and this lunchtime I'm off to send out my Christmas Cards.
So yes, i am feeling PRETTY DARN CHUFFED with myself at the moment, an can only apologise to anyone who HAS spoken to me in the past couple of days or WILL be speaking to me this week, as I fear i may be going ON about it a bit. As I may have noted elsewhere, last year I got back into the UK with about FIVE days to go before Christmas and we ended up doing it all at HIGH SPEED and missed some of the FUN bits, so this year I'm trying to (trying to - HAVE! HA! Did i mention I've done [nearly] all my Christmas Shopping?) get the BULK of it SORTED well in advance, so I can spend the next few weeks a) sorting out what I'm getting for members of my immediate household and b) going "TRA-LA! Merry Christmas one and all, MERRY CHRISTMAS!" possibly with added SKIPPING. Whoo! Christmas!
We put the Christmas Tree up in our house last night too. OH BOY! CHRISTMAS!
Meanwhile, in NON-christmas-related news, we went to see Casino Royale. The Double-0 In My Licence To Kill disagreed in the LEVEL of our Liking It (i didn't mind the lack of cohesive plot, she did) but we DID agree that a) the kissy kissy bits were a bit rubbish but b) the shooty bang bang bits were pretty GRATE. I also became over-excited at the VERY LAST LINE, and I thought the bits about Martini were quite funny, but CRUMBS, it doesn't half go on a bit doesn't it?
A Day Of ROCK
It was a busy day of ROCK for me yesterday, starting at lunchtime when I went over to Studio Sonic on Denmark Street to record some more demo tracks. I REALLY like going there - I could very easily (well, quite easily) put some effort into it and work out how to do it at home, but it's so NICE going there, and afterwards I always feel like I am part of THE HISTORY OF ROCK, purely because I've been recording on Tin Pan Alley.
When i arrived everything was set up for me, and it was Andy who was engineering again this time - he'd obviously spoken to Tom who did it last time though, as he seemed a bit disappointed to hear there'd be no handclaps this time! We WHIPPED through four songs - My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once, The Mystery Train , Sod It, Let's Get Pissed and We Can Start Having Fun - and also had a DISCUSSION about Aspects Of ROCK and also the history of the studio - apparently it used to be EMI's studio, hence all the Rock Star Graffiti that gets unconvered when the wall coverings drop off, also a CRACK HOUSE! Cor!
I left after my hour very happy indeed with the four tracks on my CD, and also a little GIDDY with the APPRECIATION that I get to do such fun and exciting things. It was GRATE!
The ACTION was not over yet, however, as later on I was off to Brixton, to JAMM, to play at the "Vic Lambrusco's Cabaret Hour" section of their Urban75 night. I'd got this gig when I played at the Windmill a little while ago and bumped into Mr Lambrusco in the loo, and it was only when I arrived that I realised I wasn't entirely sure what he looked like. Hey, i was in the loo, you don't LOOK at people while you're peeing!
As I was going into the pub I noticed that the posters (featuring "Mark Hibbett", OOH it's a long time since I've been billed that way, it made me FAIR NOSTALGIC) had a Simon Donald playing in the same bit as me. "Oh, like the editor of Viz!" I thought to myself, and then got in to find it WAS the editor of Viz. I say ye again, COR!
Things took a while to get going and I wandered around for a bit before spotting Vic (my toilet memory is better than I thought) and having a bit of a chat with him and Mike The Other Organiser about their DJ equipment, which was confusing them a bit. After a bit things got going with Vic and Becky Fury doing some POETRY. Instantly I was filled with DREAD as I REMEMBERED that I was playing at a CABARET night - FEAR! The last time I did such a thing really was in NEW YORK, when I had to play ACAPELLA, and so you can appreciate that i was suddenly somewhat AFEARED. The next chap on was doing SONGS, but they were also rather Comedy Numbers. He broke his string in the first song so while he did a shouting acapella song I tuned up and leant him mine.
He later said, mid-song, "This is the strangest sounding guitar I've ever played!" and got a laugh. I was not impressed - this, to me, is BREAKING THE RULES. I had OBEYED them by lending him my guitar (which one OUGHT to do - goodness knows I was APPALLED the time i broke my string in New Cross and the other Acoustic Artist did NOTHING. I've not forgotten, it was SHOCKING!), but then he had BROKEN them by RIDICULING the instrument i had leant him. FOR SHAME! OK, he was an AMERICAN and maybe they do things differently over there. But still.
Anyway, then it was me and I went on, nervously, and did THIS:
I REALLY enjoyed it! We sorted out the "problem" with the guitar quite quickly: i played it A BIT MORE LOUDLY. I'd meant to start with The Gay Train but just before going on decided to change it - I'd thought maybe a song that started with Spoken Word (as it does when i do it solo) would be in KEEPING, but when it came to it i wanted to do some SHOUTING, which is just as well. I DID do a bit of talking before i started the song, about the LAST time I did a cabaret gig, but it was RUBBISH so i stopped. Good decision, ME!
Simon Donald was on after me, and it was a little uncomfortable because he did a set that seemed designed for a Comedy Club i.e. talking about MECHANICS of comedy, and a lot based on personal REMINISCENCE. He also put down a heckler a bit much (i guess in comedy clubs there is less tolerance) and seemed to say that the club manager would get the bouncers to chuck him out, when there were no such things, but in the end he got by by actually being RATHER PERSONABLE and, though he probably wouldn't like it to be applied to his Comedy Persona, quite CHARMING and NICE.
After all the RIGOURS of the ROCKING DAY i was, by this time, ready to go home, and so after saying some cheerios that is exactly what I did.
And now we're into ADVENT and IT'S CHRISTMAS! This weekend i shall be a) seeing my MUM and b) LARNING UP some Christmas Songs, ready for the slew of Christmas Gigs yet to come. HOORAH! I really really MISSED this bit of Christmas last year when The Needle On My Compass and I were off circumnavigating the globe, so i am WELL looking forward to it this time. MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYBODY!