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I just emailed everyone on the mailing list with the latest issue of The Newsletter, full of FACT and FUN and news of GIGS (sign up here if you've not already). JUST as I'd sent the last one out I got a message from the organisers of next week's GIG at the Big Fibbers Bucket Of Fun, to tell me it's been cancelled AGANE!
It's either the third or fourth time it's been called off due, i hasten to add, to the venue, not the nice chaps who run the gig, and it sounds like it's also the LAST time. It's a bit of an Annoying Thing, but can't be helped I guess... and it HAS instilled in my BRANE an idea for ANOTHER gig, to make sure i get up to GIG 60 this year. Yes, I know, when i did GIG 50 last year I said I wasn't going to do as many this time, but i already HAVE, so surely i should make the PUSH for 60, shouldn't I? I've not TOTALLY decided what to do yet, but when i do, i shall SHOUT about it here!
Back To Brixton
I headed off to Brixton last night feeling a bit RED FACED. It wasn't because i was embarrassed - although i REALLY WAS - it was because i had been SLIGHTLY FOOLISH. I'm on a course of INTENSE ACTION to try and sort out my PSORIASIS at the minute, part of which involves putting MOISTURISER on affected areas, to keep them MOIST. I went to get some E45 cream for the purpose, and got some E45 Anti-Itch Cream by mistake. This didn't seem to be too difficult, so i LATHERED it on and all was well, until yesterday when I got in from the COLD to find my face was all DRY and FLAKEY. "AHA!" I thought, "I shall apply some of the MOISTENING CREAM! What harm can it do?"
As it turned out: QUITE A BIT. My face felt more and more BURNY throughout the afternoon, as if I'd eaten a HOT CHILLI and spilt it all over my MUSH, and when I looked in the mirror i found to my HORROR that my face was BRIGHT RED, except for BRIGHT WHITE PATCHES around my eyes, where I'd not put any on. I looked like a PSYCHADELIC RACOON.
Luckily it was DARK when I set off, so no-one seemed to notice, and I got to the venue to find it LOCKED. I had to knock on the door to get in, and sat around in the DARK feeling a bit sorry for myself. Mr Charlie Flowers soon arrived, and said "You're a bit red in the face!" so i had to explain, and soon found myself feeling a bit better about the whole stupid incident. We had a chat, Mr Pete Knight arrived, I did a VERY long soundcheck, so long that i RAN OUT of Cheesy Cover Versions, and all was well.
After a while it was KICK OFF, and Vic the Cabaret organiser went on to do some of his poems, followed by a comedian - I always find it a bit FRIGHTENING seeing comedians at places like this, as they are clearly more GIG VENUE than COMEDY CLUB. As I've said before, i find it weird when I play those sort of places as they're always well stocked with People Who Would Laugh If Their Arse Was On Fire and so are SIGNIFICANTLY EASIER to get a laugh out of the gig venues, and to be honest he found the going TOUGH. It was with some TREPIDATION then that I had to follow him on stage, and do THIS:
It got off to a bit of a shaky start, as the FACT that I'd not done a gig for nearly four weeks meant i had THE NERVES pretty bad, and then Vic introducing me by saying "He's got a really embarrassing story to tell you!" meant I had to go on and explain the whole REVERSO BAT MASK look, which went down rather FLAT. Still, it picked up once I got a couple of songs in (and when I'd got the sound man to turn the volume up) and by the end i THINK i pretty much got everyone on side. I did attempt to do Easily Impressed for the last song, but INTUITED that no-one would go for the Audience Participation bit, largely from the way the few people shouting did "OI! HIBBETT!" for the SECOND bit during the PRACTICE... but it was FINE, and I LEAPT off ready for a GUINESS.
After me there was a duo who were sort of a Camp/Glam Carter USM... which was a bit odd, as we realised that sat next to us was LES from Carter. Charlie went over to say hello, and after a while so did I as we'd ROCKED together in Essex some time ago. By this point there were THIRTY people on stage, all with DRUMS, so we thought it was probably time to FLEE.
This we did, into Charlie's VAN and into the EAST, and HOME. Next stop, THE MIDLANDS!
Return To Bristol
I'm just listening to MYSELF talking to Gary from Bristol Uncovered - this is the session I did the other week while we were there on TOUR, and it got broadcast this Sunday just passed. You can LISTEN AGAIN to it on their Listen Again Page, should you wish to hear REMARKS re. The Nature Of Indie, Songwriting Creepiness, and Tour Booking. It's a bit weird for me to listen to, as it's long enough ago that I've forgotten what I said and so am sat here going "That's RIGHT! By golly, this chap has some SOUND OPINIONS!" and then remembering it's ME.
Also from the Bristol leg of the tour, Mr Pete Green has just released a DOWNLOAD ONLY Live Album featuring his set from that night, and rather excellent it is too, although "Share Your Kit" is slightly marred by what appears to be a WOUNDED BISON, HOWLING along with the choruses... while playing a ukelele. It's DOWNLOADABLE HERE, and I'd particularly recommend NEW SONG "One Monday morning", which is ACE!
Meanwhile, here in the current time, i am preparing for this weekend's BLAT of GIGGING, starting tonight in Brixton before flying off to The Island Bar in BRUM tomorrow and then The Red House in Sheffield on Sunday. Now, how do these "chords" work again?
Prices: SLASHED. Outcome: INSANITY!
As mentioned below, I've been having a bit of a clearout lately resulting in all my STUFF being in the same place... and I've noticed that i have rather MORE of some items than I thought! HENCE i've decided to go LITERALLY (well, not literally) KRAZY, and SLASH PRICES!
SO, as of NOW, ALL prices in our shop are DOWN DOWN DOWN. All of our t-shirts are now reduced to £8.00, except for the I VALIDATE! shirts which are still at £4.00.
"Heckers Neckers Hibbett", you are surely thinking, "CALM DOWN!" but no, there is MORE! On top of all this, if you buy any ONE item, t-shirt or CD, i'll chuck in a FREE copy of Better Things To Do, buy any TWO and you'll get The Uberset AS WELL!!
And there's MORE! As ever, with all our online sales, postage and packing is completely free, wherever you live in the world - yes, you surmise correctly: I HAVE GONE OUT OF MY MIND!
I've also realised that I'd REALLY like to have something OTHER than unsold albums on my nice new shelves, which means that EVERYBODY wins - you get BARGAINS, i get storage space! And HEY! nothing says CHRISTMAS more than a whole PILE our albums, now does it?
My Totem Is A Grebo
When i WASN'T getting all irate about corporate entertainment, I spent much of the weekend sorting out my DEN (the current preferred name, beating Study, Office, and SHED into a Cocked Hat at the moment). As previously reported, I spent last weekend PAINTING it and since then have taken delivery of FURNITURE in the shape of my Nan's old bureau. When she died a couple of years I hired a Man And A Van to SHIFT it from her bungalow to my parents' garage, where it has been a source of CONTENTION ever since - apparently it was preventing them getting any use out of their MASSIVE outhouse, although the fact it took me five minutes to CLAMBER over old tools, bicycles, crates, and a FOREST's worth of WOOD led me to believe i was not the ONLY culprit...
Anyway, i decided to get it SORTED so consulted The Shady Organisation Known As The Lunch List who pointed me in the direction of Freight Alerts, who were FANTASTIC. I put my REQUIREMENTS online and within 10 minutes it was all SORTED - a very nice chap called Bryan rang my Mum and popped round a couple of days later, AT THE TIME HE'D SAID, to pick it up. The following weekend, AT THE TIME AGREED, another chap arrived in Leytonstone with my Bureau - it was PEASY!
So, with bureau installed i set to SORTING OUT all my various items of paperwork and STUFF. It seemed like a LOT of things at first, until I thought "This is my whole LIFE here in these boxes and drawers, WHITTLED down over various Big Tidy Ups and House Moves into the bare essentials!" I then spent a happy several hours filing things away - one GRATE thing was sorting out my TOOLBOX (yes,i have a toolbox, I AM MAN!) so that now ALL my screwdrivers are in the same place and, by golly, from the amount of Allen Keys i own i must have made a LOT of Self Assembly Furniture!
And I must say, these old fashioned BUREAUS are FANTASTIC, i now have a small drawer JUST for Change Bags, one for Staplers/Scissors/Glue, and a whole drawer for Emotional Items From My Past, like my Grandad's dominos, or my old ZX Spectrum.
It was items such as THESE that started to cause me some problems, as well as the bureau itself. Basically, every time i now go to get a PENCIL i get hit by the smell of BOXING DAY! Emotionalised already, it was perhaps not such a good idea to try and go through all the papers and CATEGORISE them. "Oh look," i thought, "it's my best man's speech for my Brother's wedding... and a letter from my Nan... and " BLUB!
I fought off the MANLY TEARS for a bit by cutting out my Press Clippings from the past few years and sticking them into a scrap book, which was PLEASANT but also a bit GLUE-Y so eventually i had to admit defeat and turn to the affairs of ROCK.
As mentioned previously, we're contributing a track to a Pop Art compilation where people who've played their gigs cover each other's songs, and we're doing "Songs About You" by The Language Of Flowers. I was KEEN to mix it myself, although i nearly SURRENEDED at the first stage when i got the DRUM TRACKS through - i was expecting one simple ready mixed stereo WAV, not about TWENTY seperate ones. Why would you NEED 20 drum tracks? There were microphones for above the kit, next to the kit, round the corner from the kit, in a room next door, and in a field some miles away. Things weren't helped by my doddery old computer which can only play about five tracks at a time but, with patience and BOUNCING DOWN we got it sorted out and through the Magic Of The Interweb Validators were able to pass comment so that, by Sunday evening it was a) done and b) sounding pretty darn GOOD.
So I was slightly upset on Sunday night to log on and find that Mr T "The Tiger" McClure had spotted a problem - a "squeak" in one of the (five) violin tracks that needed fixing. "Oh for heaven's sake!" i thought "That's a RIGHT pain in the arse, i can't be bothered!"
It may have been the emotional atmosphere of the weekend, it may have been the GLUE, but there and then i had a VISION. It was a Scrooge-esque glimpse into Mixing Sessions Past - there before me i saw a younger ME, lying back on the sofa in Mr Kev Reverb's old studio, saying words to the effect "Yeah, can we just make the drums a bit more... ORANGE-Y maybe? ANd the guitar should sound a bit more like CHEESE WIRE. Is that OK?" I suddenly realised that if Kev could have the PATIENCE and understanding to not only PUT UP WITH me saying idiotic things like that, but also to carry them out AND make a really good job of it, then who was I to refuse a clearly worded, simple, and efficient suggestion from Tom. AND LO! I did hear the voice of Kev, saying those words he would so often say at times like this ("For fcuk's sake Hibbett!") and i saw that he was RIGHT.
Forty five minutes, one copy and paste, eight bouncedowns, ten games of Free Cell while my old computer GRINDED through it all, and some re-compression of WAVS, it was done - it may not be a RED INDIAN GUIDE in the bathroom like what J Morrison had had, but it was still a SPIRITUAL REALISATION.
Also that weekend, now i think of it, i found my ELVIS RING that I'd wear for recording sessions with Kev. Coincidence? YOU BE THE JUDGE.
We headed to chilly CAMDEN on Friday night, to KOKO, to see Cherry Ghost. Koko is The New Name For The Camden Palace, and inside is very similar to Astoria 2, or Shepherd's Bush Empire, or any of those old theatre type venues, and as with EVERY time I have ever been to one the evening started with me thinking "It's not so bad in here, why do i not come to this sort of larger gig more often?" At this stage of the evening i never MIND the inflated ticket price, or the "booking" fee, or the MASSIVE amount of "security" that's bullying you as soon as you get in with a "bag check" that seems to be designed purely to stop you bringing your own BOOZE in.
We went in and all was well, the company was DELIGHTFUL and I really didn't mind the fact that a single can of Fosters Lager cost £3.50 - that's a SEVEN HUNDRED PERCENT increase on the price you'd pay in the Supermarket - because you just sort of expect that sort of thing. And it WAS just a supermarket can of lager too, maybe it is the plastic beakers they pour it into that costs so much?
The support band were on and MY WORD they were AWFUL. If MIDSOMER MURDERS had had an episode where the vicar's daughter went to an "Indie" "Gig" then THIS would be the sort of band they'd feature - lead singer sat down at a keyboard MOANING WITLESSLY, bass player with a STARSKY AFRO, drummer on backing vocals, and TUNELESS DIRGE after TUNELESS DIRGE. At one point they seemed to wail ONE NOTE for five minutes while ROCKING OUT and I thought "Are they doing this to take the piss?"
They finished and we hung around waiting for the main band to come on - I'd emailed the venue to see when they'd be on, as it was an Early Show and I wanted to make sure we didn't miss them. They're emailed back 8o'clock, so i was surprised when we arrived to see a Note To Staff beside the bar CLEARLY STATING that they weren't due on until 8.45pm. As I say, at this stage all was still WELL so I thought no more about it, and it was only when i went, full of Friday Night Lager, to the LOO, that i saw THE LIGHT.
For LO! the toilet was BROKEN and CLOSED, with one of the ubiquitous "Security" people stood in front of it. Of course, they weren't very interested in telling people where any other toilets were, and I ended up following a group of other bladder victims upstairs, through the windy corridors into the entrance, up another flight of stairs to the first floor, round more corridors through a bar and finally up MORE stairs to THE ONLY OTHER LOO.
"Hang on", i thought,"they've only got basically FOUR urinals for all these people? Do they not CARE?" and they the SCALES FELL! The WHOLE enterprise was set up to FLEECE as much CA$H out of us as possible!
The booking fee! The LUDICROUSLY priced lager! the checks to ensure we had no drinking choice! The huge ticket price! The security to make sure nobody did anything UNSANCTIONED! The lies to get you in earlier than you wanted! Most of all: the gig was starting early so that it could finish by 10pm, they could FORCE everybody to leave straight away, and then get ANOTHER full house in for ANOTHER gig and a whole OTHER load of CA$H.
OK, you might say this is the same at all big gigs, but i don't really MIND it at an Arena Gig, as it's what you expect. They're BUILT for Functional Entertainment and tend to be efficient, sanitised, unemotional SYSTEMS for providing food, seating, beer and music to as many people as possibly for maximised profits. At least at those sort of gigs you get a seat with a few, and there's PLENTY of toilets. I think what I really objected to on Friday night was the PRETENCE that this was somehow GROOVY - that THIS sort of place is Where The Gigs Are, that THIS is The Live Music Scene, and that THIS is how ROCK occurs in its natural setting. One of the MANY reasons why i stopped reading the NME was their extensive coverage of JUST this sort of CORPORATE FLEECING, claiming that their was something HEP and UNDERGROUND about these massive act of UTTER GREED.
Goodness knows pub gigs and the Smaller Venues are not perfect, and there's cynicism and money grubbing aplenty, but BLIMEY after a visit to these PITS OF WANTON AVARICE i YEARN for a pint of greasy John Smiths and a hippy on the door.
Cherry Ghost, by the way, were Quite Good - they do have three or four dead good songs, and tho the singer wasn't the most CHARISMATIC of front men he does have a lovely singing voice. It wasn't really enough to get over the venue - unlike Art Brut last year, who were SO VERY EXCELLENT i forgot all about where I was - but they were pretty good, tho the BEST thing they did all night was their final encore cover of "Back To Black", which was GRATE.
As soon as it finished tho we were SHUNTED to the exits and, as usual, it took about 10 minutes to get to the front doors. GRRR! My dislike of these places! It is A LOT!
In a similar vein, I got an email from Jim Ingham who does On The Wire on Radio Lancashire to tell me he'd be playing Programming Is A Poetry For Our Time this weekend. His show was always highlighted as "Prestigious" on all the plugging reports we used to get, and it certainly has one of the most "Peel-y" tracklistings, so i am WELL chuffed about it. And on top of all that, I think it's this Sunday that my session on Bristol Uncovered is going out, which I recorded whilst ON THE ROAD the other week.
It's all pretty good really isn't it? It's weird tho - the other day I was thinking about how quietly the whole A Million Ukeleles thing had passed by, when ACTUALLY it only feels like that because it all went so SMOOTHLY! The big HITCH was the postal strike, but that just seems to have spread things out a bit more, so instead of getting a BIG HIT of reviews and/or airplay in the space of a week, it's all happened a bit more slowly. And now that I think about it, COR, we've done quite well haven't we? Nice reviews and, actually, quite a bit of radio plays, all for something that's only had 200 copies and not much CONCERTED PLUGGING.
As you can probably tell, I'm in a bit of a less grumpy mood than yesterday! We went to the PUB with an old PAL last night, and he asked if Things In ROCK were "taking off". "Not taking off, no" I said, "Just sort of Gradually Rising". If I'd had less BEER inside me i would have said it was less like an AEROPLANE taking off and more like MOUNTAINS forming, much more gentle but also more INEXORABLE. Why, all I have to do is keep releasing albums for a couple of MILLENIA and I'll be bigger than THE TWANG!
You find me in slightly GRUMPY mood this morning, a mood i think i probably share with quite a few of my FELLOW ENGLISHERS. My thoughts on the matter are THIS: we've tried a Foreign Manager, we've tried and English Manager, SURELY now is the time and get someone BRITISH, but not ENGLISH? Maybe Northern Irish?
And in other news - it would be nice to be AGHAST at the stupidity going on with these CDs full of DATA that have got lost, but instead here is some COST SAVING ADVICE for Public Sector Management who think that removing data would be TOO EXPENSIVE.
1. Save a copy of the data you wish to send out.
2. Open the copy.
3. Right-click on the header for column containing the data you want to remove.
4. Left-click "Delete".
5. Repeat until all offending columns are removed, then save and close the file.
6. Burn the file onto a CD, remembering to password protect it*.
7. Delete the copy.
That's be FIFTY THOUSAND QUID please, The Government!
* I have occasionally needed to get data from Government Departments for PROFESSIONAL REASONS, which is why i'm pretty sure that the data they've lost will be in an Excel Spreadsheet. They DID always password protect it, but would often forget to let us know what the password was - one time I asked if they could possibly pass this information on to us, and they kindly did so... by writing the password on the CD.
Let's All Sing!
I'm busily WORKING today - at WORK things! - so here's a THING if anybody fancies a go. Mr Gregg Weiss, of The Americas, has sent me a couple of LINKS to VIDEOS of him singing some of my songs. It's all RATHER JOLLY, does anyone else fancy having a go? Perhaps anyone who does could COMMENT them here or something? GO ON! How hard can it be? You've heard how i do it, SURELY it can't be much worse?
The Tears Of A Dentist
I had a Dentist's appointment today, and arrived at the surgery nice and early. I was settled in, congratulating myself on getting there on time and NOT being in a sweaty panic when I head the LAST sound you want to hear in a Dentist's... CRYING. Not screaming or yelps of pain, but the real life SOBBING of someone who'd been through something AWFUL.
I heard one of the receptionists saying "Come on, we don't want any more of this" in what I thought was a rather HARSH way - who KNEW what the crier had been through? Then another receptionist was on the phone, saying "Yes, it's an emergency... she's very upset indeed." What on EARTH had happened? FEAR started to occur.
After half an hour or so the first receptionist came round the front of the desk and said "Sorry everybody, we've had a bit of an emergency, but we'll be with you soon" and after five minutes or so my dentist EMERGED to call me in. It's always an exciting trip to see her as she is a) Portugese and b) SLIGHTLY MAD. The first time i saw her she said "ZO my DARLINK, are you ready for me to HURT you?" so i was ready for LARKS... but even so i was shocked to find out that she was IN FLOODS OF TEARS!
SHE had been the one crying - and my first thought was "OH my GOD - i hope it's not because of a MAN" LEST she take it out on ME. There then followed a very peculiar and uncomfortable five minutes, starting with her saying "Zis is NOT a good day to come see me..." and bursting into tears again. OH MY WORD. I felt natural human sympathy of course, but also TREMENDOUS FEAR: SHE HAS A DRILL.
I was especially worried because last time i was in we identified a wonky tooth which was to be "looked" at - PLEASE LORD do not make today the day it is operated on. She asked me about it and i said "NO NO, if it's not dangerous let's leave it for now" to which she replied "Don't hang me up on the wall if it goes wrong - i don't mind being hung up on the wall, not today, but..." at which point she reached once more for the tissues.
It was AWFUL, but also slightly HYSTERICAL. The Teeth Cleaning bit was done at such HIGH SPEED and HIGH EMOTION that her assistant couldn't keep up with the whooshing vacuum stick, but i LEAPT out of the chair at the end and made for the door, full of RELIEF that no more had happened. I felt really sorry for her, whatever had happened, but MY WORD, i was glad that the only tears this morning were hers!
Where is The Bronzed Adonis?
It was a STRENUOUS weekend of ACTION - i spent all day Saturday painting my new room (it looks SWELLEGANT) breaking off only to plumb in the dishwasher which, slightly disappointingly, took about 10 minutes, most of which involved me reading the instructions out to The Landlady. OK, i've still got to go and buy a SPIGOT to finish the job properly, as currently the out-flow pipe is dangling into the sink like a washing machine in a student house, but still, i had hoped for more.
Being so MANLY meant i spent my DOWN TIME watching SPORTS - Freeview Sports! The Israel/Russia game was on Sky Sports 1, which we do not have, BUT there was also coverage on Sky Sports News, which is ALWAYS BRILLIANT. You don't watch the game itself, oh no, you watch an Excited Middle-Aged Journalist as HE watches it on Sky Sports 1, occasionally remembering to say what's going on. The BEST bit of all was when they went from his report ("Well it's OOOOH NO... been AH! YES! AH! Sorry, what?") to a report on The Devastated Scotland Fans. The presented was being all serious, whilst in the background you still hear the Excited Middle-Aged Journalist LAUGHING MANICALLY as Plucky Little Israel tried to score again. The idea, i think, is to say "Look how EXCITING and BRILLIANT it is having Sky Sports!" and IT WORKS.
Later on in the evening we watched THE DARTS on ITV4. Not many people realise there even IS an ITV4 but there it was, LIVE from Wolverhampton. My Nan used to LOVE the Darts, it was second only to SNOOKER which, looking back, seems odd for someone who almost never went into a pub, and so i have racked up MANY hours watching it so was able to EXPLAIN as we went along. I was amazed to find that it has SPED UP rather dramatically, with players seeming to be trying to throw ARROWS into the back of each others head when they go up to collect their darts from the board. There have also been some FRANKLY RISIBLE attempts to GLAM IT UP - there's a massive flashing scoreboard, big entrances, theme tunes, and HARD HITTING FACT PROFILES. "Favourite Drink: LAGER" seems to pop up quite a lot, and it's all a bit ODD for a bunch of Blokes From The Pub. They all look the same age, although some are frighteningly young, especially my favourite who was from the Netherlands. His nickname: "The Excellent Dude". I somehow doubt that was his REAL nickname...
Sorry for the SILENCE on these pages this week, it has been caused by SICKNESS: THE OLD TROUBLE. It's a slightly depressing OLD GIMMER'S AILMENT i get where, if i get a bit TIRED or run down (poor old fella) and then do some EXERTION on top of it then... well, not to put too fine a point on it, i get absolutely knackered, nauseous, headache-y and by bottom goes bright red. Oh yes. Annoying AND hilarious at the same time. Luckily there IS a cure for it (going and lying in bed for 24 hours, feeling sorry for myself) which i TOOK and all is on the mend now, but it's still a bit wearying. This time it was brought on by a long weekend followed by GIVING BLOOD on Tuesday afternoon. That is correct: it was my own HEROIC DETERMINATION TO CURE OTHERS that caused me to become unwell myself. The things I do for a free packet of biscuits...
Otherwise all has been fairly QUIET on the Frontier Of ROCK - the policy of keeping ahead with writing My Exciting Life In ROCK has been very helpful this week, although I'm now back to being only one entry ahead of myself (PREVIEW: DEATH THREATS!), so I'd best get going on that over the weekend. I am also rather looking forward to some MANLY ACTION, for LO! i am not ONLY going to be doing some PAINTING i am also hoping to PLUMB IN a DISHWASHER!
That sound you hear? It is a PLANET OF WOMEN, FAINTING from the sheer TANG of my pheromomes. GRR! Here me ROAR!
Look What I Found
MORE reviews! I've found a couple more mentions of A Million Ukeleles on the wonderful worldwide interweb. First of all there's a rather nice one at New Noise, which is especially keen on the booklet. I'm thinking maybe I made the packaging TOO nice, as people do seem to talk about it slightly more than the actual music!
There's another good one from those young tykes at Shadowplay, who get EXTRA thanks for mentioning the BASS. This makes me happy!
And over in the world of RADIO we learn that A Million Ukeleles is going to be Rocker's featured album on Dandelion Radio next month, which is rather brilliant. Voting is still open for their Festive 50 you know. I'm just saying...
Meanwhile, here on the Physical Plane, myself and The Sauce On My Pasta went to THE FENS at the weekend to see my parents, and discovered an entire GUITAR belonging to me, hiding in the garage. This was rather ACE as I've been meaning to buy a new electrical guitar as a SPARE for future gigs, so it was DELIGHTFUL to realise i'd already got one. I THINK I bought it about eight years ago when first gigging with The Vlads, and ending up borrowing one of Frankie's instead. I'm PAINTING my new DEN at home at the weekend, and once that's done i shall commence moving my ARMOURY of GUITARS in there! ZANG!
Chris T-T at 93 Feet East
After rather shamefacedly returning to The Lamb after work last night, having forgotten to pay the room hire (i can't BEGIN what factors could have combined to make me forget to do THAT at the end of the evening...) I was off to 93 Feet East to see the MIGHTY Chris T-T.
It was a bit of a scary TFL Journey Planner walk down to Brick Lane, with my BRANE rather annoyingly providing voiceover of the "Down these darkened streets, JACK THE RIPPER did prowl, tending his deadly trade" variety. I was relieved to get to the venue itself, but there my pleasure with it pretty much ended. I'd read a review online saying it was an annoying place where they charged far too much for beer and it took ages to get served. TWENTY MINUTES of standing at the bar (it wasn't busy, the bar staff were just rubbish and people kept ordering stupidly complicated drinks and paying for them on credit cards) later I had to agree, and ended up buying THREE cans of lager (at THREE POUND FIFTY EACH!!!) just so's I'd not have to go again. Later on I met Mr James Walsh, who pointed out that there was a bar next door where the bar staff were STILL incapable of going 5 seconds without being distracted by friends and then doing that INSANELY IRRITATING thing of going to one end of the bar and working down it, rather than serving properly, BUT at least it was pretty much empty, so you got served a bit quicker.
Anyway, that took a bit of calming down from, after which I bumped into Mr T-T himself who was dashing off to sort things out. He said "Oh, we were just talking about you earlier" and OF COURSE I had to NOT say "With whom? About what? Eh? Eh? Eh?" although i was DYING to know. I guess it would have been at a meeting with the editors of the Melody Maker, trying to get on the Hibbett bandwagon. What?
Once served I looked around me and WONDERED at the audience. This being practically Shoreditch there were a LOT of Young People around doing that Shoreditch thing of going to a gig because GIGS IS COOL, but not actually wanting to watch any bands, preferring to screech at each other and, as reported, drink stupid drinks bought with credit cards. There were also a lot of OTHER young-ish people, many of whom had done the GRATE thing of coming straight from work but taking off their ties and putting their jackets back from their necks, to look CASUAL, and also some PARENTS OF A BAND. It was very sweet - they were wearing band t-shirts!
But it DIDN'T look like a Chris T-T audience, at least not the kind I'd seen before - "Wow", I thought, "Having this new record company must have pushed his profile really quickly into New Markets!" I was also a bit surprised by the support bands - I missed the first one, but the second were one of those Standard Local Band TYPES who seemed perfectly nice, but WOULD insist on playing extra "funky" Second Stone Roses Album type "jams" while the singer used the microphone like a maraca and sang in an American accent. ALSO phrases like "floating down stream", "dragonflies" and the usual "sky"/"high" sort of rhymes were used.
After them it was another Standard Local Band, who we shall call CLEAN SIXTH FORMERS. It's hard to be in any way annoyed with this sort of band when you see them - they WERE very tight indeed, they made a lovely sound with GRATE vocal harmonies, the songs were full of BITS and they had a very charming onstage chemistry between them. The only trouble was that I've seen these sort of bands before and they never really have any particularly memorably songs and you come away thinking "what nice lads" rather than anything else more ROCK.
These sort of bands however DO attract a certain kind of RABID AUDIENCE of people who have pretty much never seen bands IN THE WILD, only watched them on telly. Again, you can't really be annoyed at them, they're all perfectly pleasant and I feel a bit awful complaining about them at ALL, but it can be a bit FATIGUING when you play gigs with them. The crowd goes ABSOLUTELY MENTAL for everything their band does, the room is FULL of Quite Expensive Cameras going off, there's usually a film crew, the aformentioned Parents proudly DANCING at the back, and people generally act like it's the Gig The Mr Big Comes To And Decides To Sign Them Up SCENE from the Biographical Film. And then, of course, everyone EITHER goes straight home OR stands around chatting loudly about how AMAZING their friend's band is and ignores the Real Live Actual Band that comes on next.
And that, of course, is exactly what happened. Chris came on stage and stood alone singing "M1 Song" - it's the one on the album that he sings acappella, and as he stood there GLARING and singing out the words the room gradually but inexorably came under his control. It was GRATE.
The band then came on, and it was a very different band to the last time I saw him - for a start there were much fewer people, it now just being Chris on Guitar, a bass player, and Stuffy From Stuffy & The Fuses (apparently contractually obliged to be in AT LEAST 40% of ALL bands I ever go and see). I believe it is what is known as a Power Trio, and BY HECK was it FANTASTIC - like him on his own, it was POWERFUL STUFF, but now ROCKED UP and... well, i'll run out of superlatives soon, suffice to say i spent the next half an hour AGOG with a MASSIVE grin on my face.
A couple of songs in he said "We've been fucked up by circumstance tonight" and then tried to politely avoid blaming anyone, but my GOODNESS he looked annoyed, and I know how he feels. I'd assumed that the whole night was a Chris T-T gig and that everybody was there to see him, but actually they were as one band in a Promoted Line-Up and, as so often happens in those cases, EITHER other bands go on much longer than they're supposed to, often bouyed up by their Audience Of Pals demanding more and more OR the promoter doesn't really do their job properly and doesn't chivvy people to get on or force people to get OFF, so that the last band runs out of time. The REALLY annoying thing about it, if you are the last band, is that PART of you is thinking "But we're the headliners! We're the important ones and OUR interests should be paramount!" whilst ANOTHER part of you is simultaneously a bit ashamed of the other part for THINKING such things, and is trying very hard to be nice about it and Not Make A Fuss.
It's upsetting when it happens to you, but it CAN make for some AMAZING gigs if The Performer CHANNELS the RAGE, and that is EXACTLY what happened here, as Chris and the band were ON FIRE - ON FIRE, i say! They did "Giraffes" which was AMAZING - it's already one of the BEST SONGS EVER, and on this occasion I could feel all the hair on the back of my head standing to attention. The new stuff sounded BOTH heartfelt AND rocking and when they finished in LOUDNESS and pretty much STORMED OFF it was all I could do not to WHOOP.
Actually, i think there WAS some whooping. It was very exciting.
Afterwards we stood around being THRILLED, then grabbed a quick word to say how briliant it was before stepping out into the night. It'd been a funny old evening in many ways, strangely like SO MANY of the gigs I'm currently writing about on the Pop Art Digest, the kind of gig you always think is behind you but keeps coming back to bite you. If only they all turned out as GRATE as this one had, ROCK would be an even better place!
After the KRAZY brush with the NME yesterday I've had a look and found a couple of nice reviews of A Million Ukeleles online. First of all there's Mr John Kell - i was about to type YOUNG Mr John Kell, but decided against so doing for reasons noted in the review!
Next we have a rather jolly run though over on To Hell With, where he rather pleasingly picks out the quote from the back of the booklet. It is a quote by which one can LIVE ONE'S LIFE!
And finally, there's a new interview with Mr Phil Wilson at Caught In The Carousel, which has LOTS of VERY EXCITING news about him getting out On The Road again, and there being MORE new songs to come - I've heard "I Own It", mentioned in the interview, and it is BLOODY GRATE! He also very kindly mentions ME towards the end, which was DEAD NICE and made me MUCH/EVEN more Actually Pleased than the NME bit yesterday!
The latest edition of the Contrast Podcast has just gone up - it's another of these Musicians Introduce Their Own Songs ones, this time featuring ME wobbling on about A Million Ukeleles.
Also available is the latest My Exciting Life In Rock EPISODE over on the Pop Art Digest where, rather alarmingly, it appears that everyone else has given up posting anything in TERROR. I'm going to try and keep to posting these every Tuesday and Thursday if I can - I'm about a week ahead of myself at the moment, and I'll do my best to keep it that way!
I Use The NME
I was going about my usual Rock And Roll Lifestyle last night - washing up, making the tea, talking to the cats (all while RIDING A HARLEY DAVIDSON) - when I got a text from Mr T Pattison. "Have you seen the NME?" it asked. Well, no, not since 1999 when I realised it was just making me annoyed on a weekly basis and transferred my mid-week periodical allegiance back to 2000AD, "why?" i asked. "You're in it. Mixed."
After that we stopped texting and started talking, and I was surprised to learn that Tim STILL reads the NME, despite being at least 3 TIMES the target age. Obviously he only reads the gig guide, and of course he LEAFS through it in WHSmiths rather than actually buying it, but still, I was surprised. Anyway, he told me I was mentioned in a review of Fuzztival so this morning I went to a newsagent where I wouldn't be recognised, and picked up a copy.
The review is actually quite nice. In amongst a very jolly review of the Fuzztival as a whole there's me in the middle of the "highlights", described thus: "MJ Hibbett probably cries when he stands on a slug but his romantic (if wafer-thin) indie-pop is quite dashing nonetheless." It's good to see that NME writers are STILL contractually obliged to fill their copy with stupid remarks masquerading as cleverness (why would being upset about killing small animals a bad thing? And anyway, HOW DID HE KNOW?) but I have to admit I'm quite chuffed about that. Ten years ago I would have been leaping about SCREAMING WITH JOY to be in the NME and staying in for a fortnight waiting for the inevitable call from Mr Big at Big Records, but I'm still feeling a ROSY GLOW of pleasure.
Blimey though, i have always thought that the NME was FOR KIDS and not for me, but I didn't realise HOW MUCH this is the case. The letters page appears to be full of DRAWINGS that children have sent in, the design makes Manga cartoons look like BBC4 (i remember when it was in black and white, now it is in HEADACHE), and the list of 50 Coolest People looks, to me, like nothing more than the top deck of a bus at 4pm which, frankly, needs to CALM DOWN and STOP BEING SILLY. I was surprised to see they've still got a crossword at the back, rather than a COLOURING IN PAGE.
Still, for all my ADULT HORROR and not wanting to get TOO excited about it, I do have to confess i AM really pleased. Now, must get on - i am expecting that email from email@example.com ANY MOMENT.
Back To The Lamb
I was back ON THE ROAD last night, trundling through Bloomsburt with my gig bag behind me, to The Lamb, where we were doing another Totally Acoustic night. In the pub I met Mr P Knight and The Sole Of My Shoes and Helena, then went to SCOUR the pub to find Mr Pete Weiss, our guest for the evening. On the way to find him I bumped into one of Mr Carsmile Steve's LOT who'd I'd always thought was the former editor of a comics fanzine I used to read as a BOY, but it turns out he WASN'T. The Lamb appears to be The Pub Of Mistaken Identity for me, as the last time but one i was there i was CONVINCED that Waz from The Gresham Flyers was working behind the bar. He wasn't.
Luckily the identity of Mr Pete Weiss was not in question, for LO! there he was, looking like he does on the interweb, but more three dimensional. I've known Pete for YEARS via the twin majesty of ROCK and The Interweb - i first came into contact with him and the Stereorrific KREW through the album 50,000,000 Elves Fans Can't Be Wrong which we appeared on, released jointly by them and WIAIWYA. Since then we've exchanged CHAT and CDs, with me being particularly attached to the album Featuring Jaunty by Pete's band The Weisstronauts, HENCE me recently covering a track by them for a forthcoming compilation.
ANYWAY, that's all that and as he was coming over to the UK this week I organised a gig for him and me to play together, mostly as an excuse for PUB ACTION. Sometimes when you meet people you know online for the first time it's a bit weird - not everybody is as they seem in TEXT or, indeed, in SONG, but Pete was pretty much exactly as I'd hoped - a lovely chap who I felt like I'd known in person for AGES. Sometimes you meet people and think "AHA! I am going to be PALS with you", and it felt like it'd happened with him a LONG time ago. HOORAH!
We went upstairs and got ourselves sorted out, with Pete introducing me to a chap he'd been meeting with that day who had in a previous life been the Producer for Big Audio Dynamite! I was VERY impressed with this as my Dad used to be a MASSIVE fan of them and would play their albums at high volume in the car on Saturday mornings - tho I think the chap himself was a bit perplexed when I told him this. Hey, my Dad was a Cool Groovy Music Dad, it's a compliment!
People gently arrived and soon it was time to kick off, with me doing THIS on the ukelele:
It all seeemed to go OK, especially Chips And Cheese, Pint Of Wine which is rapidly becoming one of my favourites EVER, although I did notice NERVOUSNESS creeping in to my MIND. This has happened quite a bit lately, and led to quite a lot of forgetting of words - I do go through these phases from time to time, so I'm not worried about it becoming ENDEMIC, and it's probably not helped by playing the ukelele, where I'm not so familiar with the chords as on guitar, but I wish my BRANE would sort itself out!
Pete then came on and did a GRATE set. I was a bit worried about how he'd cope, as playing totally un-amped is hard enough if you've not done it much, but more so when you're usually in an instrumental band, but he SAILED through it with CHARM and a big bucket of CHARISMA. It was touching in parts, FUNNY in lots of others, and by the end of it everyone had a great big GRIN on their faces. ACE!
We had a brief toilet/cigarrette/BEER break and then I went on and did THIS:
It was a LOT of fun, with a LOT of fun, and even though I had to PULL OUT of an attempt on My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once due to, again, forgetting how it went, it all seemed to go well. When I did It Only Works Because You're Here I thought "Hang on, this could be the title of the album..." and the more I think of it the more I like it. Don't tell The Vlads though, I'm going to save it as an idea for late - SHHH!!
When all was done and dusted it was still only about nine o'clock so we settled into a lengthy and HIGHLY enjoyable session of CHAT with Doug, Duncan, Mr Jamieson Sutcliffe (stunning me by APPEARING, as if by Magic, when he should surely be in Leicester?) and The Dave Green, who I'd not seen for AGES. By the end of the evening all that was left was myself, Pete, Carsmile, and Mr John Kell, and we had a very lengthy and entertaining conversation about... er... I'm not entirely sure, but i do know it was VERY entertaining at the time. I guess I must have been playing ukelele at the time, and THAT caused me to forget. There can be no other explanation.
The evening finished with MUCH hugging and a wobbly walk back to the tube. It was a LOVELY way to top off this most recent batch of gigging, and a BRILLIANT excuse to spend the night in the pub with a bunch of GRATE people!
Save The Pump & Tap!
ALARMING NEWS reaches me this morning that our new song Leicester's Trying To Tell Me Something may become out of date before it's even recording. As the lyrics say, "one by one each pub I've loved or played above has been demolished or turned into some flats", although they only "roofed over the Pump & Tap and walled over the stage". That was bad enough, but now it looks like it is under threat of DEMOLITION.
The full details are here. For those who don't know Leicester's Glittering West End, you enter it from the city side by walking under a MASSIVE old bridge which used to run trains to the old station. When the trains stopped the route was turned into a footpath which, until a few years ago, ended with a stroll over the bridge along to some steps which took you down to the Pump & Tap. It was a crazily IMMENSE structure for a footbridge, but BRILLIANT for that reason, and a unique part of the industrial heritage of Leicester. There was a plan a few years ago to build HOUSES on top of the bridge, as it was designed to support 1000 ton trains several times an hour, and all sorts of ideas flew around as to how the Pump & Tap pub could be integrated into it, but they came to nothing and the bridge was closed off as "structurally unsafe". This does seem a BIT odd - as i say, until 1968 (i think) it had handled 100 years of trains with no bother and since then had supported mostly drunken students heading home, but it APPEARS that this was done so that it could be left to decay and then demolished later down the line.
It's all a bit crappy really, not least because it is heavily hinted that once the bridge and the arches (which run behind the pub) are knocked down the Pump & Tap itself will have to go. During the 60s and 70s most of Leicester's older and/or most interesting buildings were knocked down to make way for a ring road and horrible dreary 70's unibuildings, most of which have been taken down THEMSELVES in the past few years, and now it looks like they're starting it up again. The centre of Leicester IS a LOT nicer these days than it used to be, but it is also rather heavily populated by those massive industrial estate buildings with the TILDE roofs, and it would be a crying shame to see one of the last remnants of the Victorian Past in that area get taken away without a fight.
And also, of course, it'd be bloody awful to lose my favourite remaining pub! Come on - i drank there for 14 years, it's a HERITAGE site!
Anyway, if you've ever been to Leicester and savoured the delights of the West End, you might want to sign the petition. I have!
I've just stuck up the latest of the My Exciting Life In ROCK articles over on the PopArt Digest. Debate has recently RAGED (well, happened anyway) over whether I can rightly call this a COLUMN, or whether it's just a common or garden BLOG, with the term BLOGUMM being proposed as a replacement, so that's what it is. BLOGGUM.
There's four of them up there now and I'm planning to PLOUGH ON and try and do fifty or so and then maybe DO something with them. What this something might be i know not, but here in day two of Post-Tour/Back To Work FED UP-NESS it's nice to have a "something" on the boil!
Mind you, i'm back in ROCK tonight, at the Totally Acoustic gig with Mr Pete Weiss. I must remember not to get TOO excited about him being an American and DEMAND he introduce me to Spider-Man. Wish me luck!
Now In Full Colour
Just for anyone who's thinking how much fun it is to be EITHER wandering the country by train, loafing round in pubs, and doing gigs with nice people OR sitting around at home watching telly, recording songs, or talking to nice people; and ESPECIALLY as those two possibilities compare to the actuality of being at work... if there IS anybody like that around, here are Warren's Tour Pictures! Look! We're in pubs! Doesn't it look like a Good Idea?
Down And Out
It was a GRATE post-tour weekend just gone, during which i got all SORTS of things sorted out, had that MAMMOTH blogging session, and also utilised the one and only transferable skill GARNERED from years in ROCK: furniture moving. We're redecorating our downstairs spare room and turning it into MY OFFICE! Well, not my ACTUAL office at work, that'd be weird and, frankly, pointless, but into a room with DESKS and COMPUTERS and GUITARS and a HECK of a lot of bookshelves. I am RATHER excited about it, and as part of the preparation process I cleared out all the current STUFF within it, moving most of it next door. The Women were AWED by the high speed at which this was achieved and, I think, came to regret saying so as it gave me an excuse to once again ROLL OUT the old "Ah well, when you've moved as many amps down fire escapes as I have, these sort of skills tend to ... no, come back, I've got HOURS of Amusing Gear Lugging Anecdotes yet!"
As well as all that I also recorded my track for the Kooba Radio Christmas Spectacular. They're doing a version of the Bugsy Malone musical, with various bands doing the songs, so I sat down and sorted out "Down And Out" which, I think, came out quite well - there's about four lead guitars on it at the end, which was a LOT of fun. I'd been putting off doing it, as I wasn't familiar with the song and was DREADING having to sit down and work it out but, as it happens, there's only three chords in the whole song. Maybe that's why the Koobas chose it for me? If so, PHEW!
And in other PHEW news - JUST as I'd finished recording it the entire DIRECTORY of mixes and tracks DISAPPEARED from my portable hard drive. It was TERRIFYING, hours of work: GONE! Luckily i remembered C:\WINDOWS\TEMP. Normally on our aged machine (Windows 98!) this is my NEMESIS, filling with HUGE files, but this time it was a GODSEND, for LO! there was a .tmp file which turned out to be the final mix of the song. RELIEF, she FLOODED the room!
On Thursday I woke once again feeling HEALTHY and WELL after a big KIP, although a bit AFEARED as i'd had a Nasty Message on my mobile phone - i spent all day wondering who on earth could be sending me THREATS, only to find out that my brother-in-[common]law had been MUGGED and had his phone nicked!
Anyway, I met Warren who once again GUIDED us back to Piccadilly station where i had CHILLI for breakfast. This is the kind of INSANE KRAZINESS that occurs when one is On The Road. Pete arrived and off we went, pausing only to notice that Piccadilly is full of BUSINESS PIGEONS, sauntering up stairs, wandering into first class lounges, and hopping aboard trains.
It was another journey of CHAT and TEA, pausing only to consider the CONTINUING GHASTLINESS of Hell On Earth (Birmingham New Street). As the song states, the contrast with Bristol Temple Meads was EXTREME, the latter being a BEAUTIFUL building that fills you with PRIDE to be part of a nation that could build such fantastic temples of transport, it really is GORGEOUS. We waited a few minutes before being joined by Marianthi, who was there on Record Label Duty for Pete. Where was MY record company in all this eh? Oh yeah...
We split up once again, wiht me checking into my room and then getting a taxi across town to the BBC, where I was recording a session for Bristol Uncovered. The taxi driver was a lovely old chap who told me MANY fascinating facts about the city, and got me there with plenty of time to have a check of my emails on the free BBC Interweb Computers. Mr Gary Smith arrived and took me through the MASSIVE BBC ENCLAVE, which includes and entire PUB, just for people who work there!
It was lovely to see Gary, and especially to see him doing so well - I first met him when he had a show on the commercial station, and knew it was a constant battle to keep his show on, a battle which they eventually lost and ended up broadcasting ONLINE, so it was BRILLIANT to find him so happy on the BBC. We got ourselves ensconced in a studio and i recorded THIS:
It all seemed to go OK, although I was a bit distracted by one of the BBC Presenters (who had a Big Picture on the wall) looking through the door with a big GRIN on his face when he saw the Ukelele! You should be able to Listen Again on their show page after it goes out, on Saturday I think. We then did a LONG old interview, which I suspect will be editted a bit but was a WHOLE LOT of fun, and then Gary explained to me The Obit Light, which is apparently installed in every TV and Radio studio in the land, so that if THE QUEEN or Prime Minister should peg it everyone can launch into Sombre Mode.
We packed up and Gary dropped me back at the hotel where I got my gear together, met up with Warren again, and headed out once more to The Cornubia to meet Pete. When we got in I asked if all was OK and he said "Sort of..." then The Landlord came over to explain things. I was filled with DREAD as he said we weren't really supposed to do gigs upstairs... but not to worry, as long as it wasn't too loud. PHEW. It was actually a LOVELY pub with REALLY nice beer in it - OK, going to non-gig-tastic places means you don't get much Casual Audience, but you DO get nice drink!
We went upstairs to set up then came back down for a quick few rounds of POP TRIVIA - there were questions on the table - before being joined by our SECOND Dandelion Radio DJ of the week, Rocker, who'd popped in. The lads from The Lauras (the proper band they were in, and a lot easier to remember/type out than Rescue Aid Society vs. The Black Terror, which they were calling their DUO act) were there too and we were having a FINE old time, it almost seemed a pity to have to break up the party and go and do a gig. Still, that's what we did, and as usual I went on first to do some ukelele songs, as follows:
It was ALL GOOD, and after me our Run Of Good Luck With The Local Bands CONTINUED, as The Rescue Society of Versus... the Lauras were DEAD good, especially their finale, which was a ROLLICKING ride through "We Could Have Been Anything That We Wanted To Be" from Bugsy Malone.
Pete was up next, and once again did a GRATE set, especially a NEW song called, I think, "One Monday Morning". It was brilliant, funny and touching - he'd actually DEBUTED it the night before, but i'd been outside on the phone, but hopefully i'll be hearing it a LOT more. Hopefully he won't have that pillock on ukelele again tho...
Talking of which, it was then my turn, and this is what I played:
It was a set of THREE PARTS - the first chunk was FINE, until i got to The Fight For History, which I haven't played on my own for a while and rather badly messed up. I also made a bit of a pig's ear of Born Yesterday, though luckily Warren was on hand with the words (having a lyric sheet with your CDs can be VERY handy) and my special GUEST GUITARIST AND SINGER, Mr Pete Green, ended up rather CARRYING me through the song!
Still, it picked up again after that and I think I did all right, and felt rather SAD to be doing Boom Shake The Room, knowing it was the final song. Still, that finality DID mean we could go back downstairs again for some BEER and CHAT, which was all VERY nice. SHOCKINGLY I believe Pete had had a bit much to drink, and the image of his BEAMING GRIN will stay with me forever - aaah!
We said our goodbyes... actually we said them several times, as there was EMOTION. It was a really nice few says, just the right length and just the right people, and next morning, sat on the train skipping into London, it was already taking on the ROSY GLOW of a happy memory. Being on tour is GRATE!
I had a lovely LIE IN on Wednesday, and was feeling pretty DARN GOOD all round - the last couple of times I'd been to Glasgow I'd been a little INCAUTIOUS about what I'd drunk, including stupidly drinking a pint of Guiness that the landlord had explicitly warned me against, but this time I'd been VERY careful, having BELHAVEN from upstairs at The Captain's Rest (and STOPPING drinking a pint of John Smiths that smelt like Toilets - as a beer EXPERT i know this to be a BAD SIGN) and then having some LOVELY Deuchar's IPA in The Liquid Ship. CUNNING.
Anyway, I met Warren downstairs and we headed off to The 13th Note to meet Pete, on the way bumping into Rowan from The Just Joans. We had a couple more delicious pints and also some delicious GRUB and then said hello to Rowan again, as she came in for HER lunch. I really like Glasgow, it feels like the sort of place you could be at home in, and the fact we bumped into someone we knew TWICE only increased the feeling.
Soon it was time for the train and another lovely journey featuring much discussion of topics diverse, and some cups of tea. Once in Manchester Warren guided us across town to The Castle Hotel, before he went home and Pete and I stopped for a quick pint - I tell you what, the idea to do gigs in pubs with nice beer is a REALLY GOOD IDEAS, we had some lovely beer in there.
Pete went off to collect his Mrs, I went and checked in round the corner, and then I met them by accident half an hour later in The Angry Takeaway. Everyone in there seemed to want to fight everyone else, and the grub was a bit crappy too - Pete had a Vegetable Wrap, which seemed very nice from the description, with tomato, potato, onion and all sorts... but it turned out that this was just transcribed from the ingredients list for the Cheapo Aldi's Breadcrumb Vegetable Burger that was the ACTUAL content.
We sauntered back to The Castle, which was a VERY nice pub - it reminded me a LOT of The Magazine from days gone by, in that it felt GROOVY and also as if it was very close to falling down. Warren was already there and we were soon joined by The 10p Mixes, who'd come in Halloween Costume... although I must admit it took me a while to realise this. "Why's he got red on his shirt? He looks like Shaun Of The Dead! AHA!", was my thought process - you can see for yourself, as Warren's just put up his tour pictures!
People gradually arrived, including Ms Ellen Pemberton and Rachel Cherryade, and once again I kicked us off with a ukeleles set, like so:
This one went MUCH better! Next up were The 10p Mixes, who were GRATE - we were extremely lucky with the bands playing with us, as indeed was I to have Pete with me, as he was ACE every night too. The only drop in quality was when he got some idiot on with him to play ukelele on "Share Your Kit". You think he'd remember how the song went, it being one of his favourites, or indeed how to play the right chords at all - I can only guess that Pete took pity on him. Whoever he was...
The whole Totally Acoustic policy worked dead well again, although there was an annoying couple who came in and talked DEAD LOUDLY throughout - i wanted to Have A Word, but they were obviously regulars so it would have been a bit rude, and I think they just didn't understand that we could hear them - they didn't talk between songs so I'm thinking that's the Charitable Explanation... although neither of them put any cash in the whip round at the end, so actually, GRR to them!
ANYWAY, after all that it was my turn, and i did THIS:
It all went dead well, and I even did some BUSINESS running out of the room during I Did A Gig In New York - I'd meant to sing out of the door and back again, but got out of breath with the unexpected exercise! It was all dead good anyway and after we finished off our beers we headed off to our respective beds happy with progress, and a bit surprised that we were already over half way through!
I'm back home, OFF THE ROAD at last and am a) KNACKERED but b) very happy, as The Tour all went really well. It started off with a surge of PANIC, however, as overland train cancellations and regulation of the underground meant that I ended up catching the train from Euston to Glasgow with only TWO MINUTES to spare. I spent the first hour of the journey CONVINCED i was coming down with ILLNESS as I was out of breath, ached all over, and was HOT, then kept reminding myself that that was probably because I'd been running up stairs with a back pack, a guitar, and a VERY heavy wheelie suitcase containing piles of t-shirts and CDs.
The journey was fine although I had to AGREE later on when I discussed it with my Tour Buddies that it was the BORING route North. When You go on the GNER route there's coastlines and impressive cathedrals every five minutes, but on the Virgin Trains route you're dangerously close to over-excitement when you see a shed. Still, I got there OK and trundled across town to my hotel, straight away thinking "Glasgow is GRATE!" It feels like a HOME sort of place as soon as you arrive, like Sheffield or Leicester does, it's lovely.
I wandered back across town to meet Mr Pete Green in Glasgow's Famous 13th Note Cafe where we had a couple of BEERS and a CHAT before going back to the hotel to fetch my GEAR and also Mr Warren Pilkington, who was coming along with us for the tour and, very kindly, doing the merchandising. We headed over to The Captain's Rest with Warren, as he would do throughout, acting as our guide. Mr Adam Smith, veteran of previous tours, arrived soon after, and we settled into more BEER while setting up the room. An early attempt to shift a DJ table fell apart when we realised that the CONCRETE PAVING SLABS on top of it were SUPERGLUED!
The Just Joans arrived, as did a good clutch of people including Mr Sandy Blair and Mr Gary Urqhart, and also Mr Gordon Anderson who'd bought a CD and t-shirt ages ago - I'd posted it off to him and, three weeks later, had it come back to me, so ended up delivering it by hand! As there was a few people in I thought it'd be a good idea to kick things off with a Ukelele Set, as follows:
Unfortunately BEER had interfered somewhat and A Million Ukeleles was rather cruelly shortened by me completely forgetting the words. Happily Pete went on shortly afterwards and sorted it all out with, as usual, a lovely set, especially finishing with Take Your Time which had everyone SPELLBOUND, it was ACE. Next it was The Just Joans, who were also GRATE. There was a Plimpton and an ex-Hector Collector in the group, along with Katie and Katie's little brother, whose house i stayed at when I first played in Motherwell (which I was convinced was so long ago that he'd been a TODDLER. I would like to apologise to all concerned for going on about it SO much), so it felt like i'd seen them loads of times already. The songs were fab - funny, and touching, and full of tune, and the the way the various members had spread themselves back across the room made the sound LOVELY.
Much to my relief my BRANE had by now sorted itself out, so things went MUCH better. It was quarter to eleven by now, and I'd assumed that everything would be fine, as licensing hours in Glasgow are , i guessed, more flexible. Adam went off to check and came back with the Bad News that we'd have to finish at 11pm... so when we were told, firmly but apologetically, that we really HAD to stop now I took everybody outside and did The Lesson Of The Smiths in the street. This was a Really Good Thing.
Job done we packed up and headed down the road EN MASSE to The Liquid Ship, where there was an acoustic night going on downstairs... which didn't want us to join in. We took the disappointment WELL, and got on with drinking BEER and chatting instead, so it was a MERRY band who wandered back to the Ibis, with the tour of to a ROCKING start.