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Any Other Business
ITEM! I don't think I mentioned it below, but last night's gig was my SIXTIETH of the year! Last year i was all impressed on getting to 60 just before the end of December, THIS year I've done that many with 2 months to go - IN YOUR FACE, 2007! I'm really really really NOT going to try and go for 70...
ITEM! This month's NEWSLETTER had just gone out. It is PACKED with FACT.
ITEM! More Songs For Adverts ACTION today, as this morning I finished a song called "So, Hello" for John The Publisher to pitch for a deodorant advert. It was RUM AND A HALF, largely as I was singing in the guise of a AMERICAN HOBO. I somehow doubt it'll get chosen, but if it does I already have an ALIAS for gigging the song: MUNTJAC HIGHWAY! He's the singing hobo with a taste for TEA!
ITEM! I'm going to try and get some of these advert songs up on the SONGS pages soon, so's you can see what I've been on about with them. I'd LIKE to stick them up with the adverts they were written for, but I don't think that's allowed!
ITEM! And finally, as mentioned in the newsletter, I'm taking part in MOVEMBER this year, growing myself a MOUSTACHE. If anyone else would like to get on board there's information on the official page, and if anybody fancies SPONSORING me to do it you can do so via my JustGiving Page. Proceeds from my tonsorial hijinks will be going to Marie Curie Cancer Care, as they are GRATE.
In planning my journey to Gipsy Hill last night I kept coming up against a problem: nobody seemed to know where it was, including ME, and it took me a couple of minutes to realise I'd actually been there BEFORE, to visit The Gibbs. In fact, when we went that time we were ALSO confused about whether we'd been before or not, as it looked VAGUELY like somewhere some other friends used to live. Is there something about Gipsy Hill that needs to be CLOAKED in MASS FORGETTING?
I strode manfully up the hill to find Christ Church, and when I got there was confused once more. Nowhere seemed to be open - well, apart from the Church Hall, which I wondered into following the sound of SINGING, to find a couple of classrooms, one occupied, and slink out again - and I couldn't find ANYTHING that looked like the building on the Freedom Of Expression page - it later turned out that that's because it doesn't exist yet, but was the NEW Church Hall they were hoping to build. Someone with a guitar walked past me, looking lost clutching a piece of paper, and I thought "I wonder if she's playing too tonight?" I waited a couple of minutes later and they came back round again. CORRECT!
We rang Tim, went down to a pub near the station to meet him (he'd been caught in train delays so was LATE) and then hiked back up the hill to the CHURCH. We were playing in a CHURCH!
It was an amazing place, one of those modern sixties churches (well, i think sixties, I am NO EXPERT) with a tea booth at the back, toilets and PROPER HEATING, although as we came in the caretake WORRYINGLY said the boiler hadn't been working, and it was COLD.
Happily it came back on, we did our soundchecks, and I got a cup of TEA. It was OK to drink BOOZE in the church, but I'm trying to have 3 non-BOOZE days a week at the moment, so thought I'd try out a drinkless GIG. It was actually quite nice, although the fact that I was in a CHURCH may have made it easier. It certainly helped with the setlist - I had a PANIC about what i COULD play, so sat down with my iPod and REMINDED myself of several songs I've not played much which might fit this environment. THUS I went on and did THIS:
It was REALLY nice. You know how, when you sing in the shower, the natural reverb makes your singing sound LOVELY? In a Church it is like that, but about A MILLION TIMES MORE. I spent the whole gig singing QUIETLY and thinking "But... I have the voice of an ANGEL!" I knew it was an AURAL ILLUSION, but it was a GRATE one.
Being booze free helped a LOT with the words too, and it was only during I Come From The Fens, when I thought "Wow! I haven't made ANY mistakes yet!" that, as usual, i completely forgot the tune AND words and had to start again.
Otherwise it all seemed to go pretty well, until I got to the last song. As there were only about nine people there I thought I'd finish the set with Mental Judo, thus ENDING with a similar sort of reference as I'd started with with We Only Ever Meet In Church (and yes, I was VERY pleased with myself when I got the idea of starting with that one). HOWEVER, when I said "Shall I do one more?" Tim The Promoter replied "YES. As long as it's The Lesson Of The Smiths."
There then followed a LENGTHY debate. I'd deliberately excluded this one from the set because it features BIG SWEARS, and not just occasionally but as part of THE CHORUS! Before we'd started he'd said that we were perfectly free to SWEAR, and that part of the point of doing a gig in a church was to get past the idea that they were places APART from how we'd normally behave. This, I felt, and indeed FEEL, is all very laudable and true, but it's a heck of a lot easier to SAY than it is to DO, and the fact that I didn't want to swear was because it'd make ME feel so uncomfortable. You can't swear in a CHURCH! Someone was wearing a HAT during the gig and THAT was making me feel ANTSY, so using BAD WORDS was a BIG NO NO.
Eventually we came to a compromise, with Tim joining me on stage as SWEAR STAND-IN. I use the following example to explain: when I saw Peter Hook's band REVENGE at Glastonbury I was AMUSED to see that he had a Work Experience Boy at the back of the stage with a BASS. Peter Hook had clearly NOT been able to get past the DIFFICULTY BARRIER of playing bass and singing at the same time (it is, honestly, REALLY hard) so rather than miss out playing his trademark instrument, so whenever he went up to the microphone he'd stop playing and the LAD would take over, relinquishing BASS CHORES every time he stopped. Tim filled in for me in the same way, singing the "Wankers", "Shit" and "fuckwit" sections with GUSTO.
It was GRATE, I had a lovely time and sat down to watch Liz William and her lovely singing with a warm glow about me. It was a GOOD evening!
I'd forgotten to say - if you'd like to hear the interview I did with Bob Fischer at the weekend, it's available if you go to BBC Tees, click on "Listen Again", then I'm about 26 minutes into Monday night's Bob Fischer show. There is a LOT about train travel, The Comedian Mark Watson, and also a RADIO DEBUT for The Night I Denied Myself To Comedy. I do wish people wouldn't keep redubbing MY voice with that of a WURZEL tho.
Tom Waits Is Easy
I spent a DELIGHTFUL hour this morning HOWLING at the top of my lungs like a BLUESMAN with his toe stuck in the tap, as I tried a Decidedly Different approach to writing one of these Songs For Adverts that I've been doing lately. Usually, of course, I am DETERMINED to sing songs in my OWN voice, as I think that is Important. However, for something that I am doing IN PRAISE OF MAMMON I don't think there's any need to worry so much, and had a FINE old post-breakfast BELLOW.
My neighbour, however, may not have enjoyed it so much. Still, he DRUMS at 3am, so that, i think, is THE KARMA.
In other news I'm just getting the newsletter ready for tomorrow (featuring EXCITING MOUSTACHE NEWS), playing in Gipsy Hill tonight (which nobody seems to know where it is) and am just about to sit down and write the ONE HUNDREDTH episode of the My Exciting Life In ROCK blog. I'll probably go on about this more next week, when Episode 100 will actually go LIVE, but blimey - 100 stories of ROCK? Who knew even _I_ could go on and on about gigs for quite so long?
A Very Long Weekend (part two)
As usual when On The Road I woke up at about 6AM (although due to clocks changing it was 7AM... i think) and had to lie in bed or half an hour thinking "NO BRAIN! I am NOT getting up! You might as well be quiet and go back to sleep, I CAN LIE HERE ALL DAY." Eventually the BRANE relented and I got some more much needed KIP in. LOVELY.
One BATH (told you it was posh) later I got myself together and checked out, then had a bit of a wander round Sheffield City Centre. I went into WHSmiths and was AMAZED to find it STILL hasn't changed for about TWENTY YEARS, ever since they got rid of that brilliant 3D logo that I used to SO enjoy colouring in on the paper bags. As a LAD I used to spend HOURS in WH Smiths, even WORKING there (and getting SACKED!) but haven't been in a proper one - stores in railway stations don't count - for AGES, and it was like a trip down Memory Stationers.
Anyway, i went down to the station and began my afternoon of Hanging Around, as I had an HOUR to wait before my first train. I had a COFFEE but really should have gone and got on it as soon as possible, as by the time I loafed over to the platform it was RAMMED, and I had a RUBBISH hour long trip to Doncaster standing up. For the next train I'd got a FIRST CLASS seat booked - this is my GRATE new hobby, as it's usually MUCH cheaper to go first class if you book it in ADVANCE than an open ticket, and this time it was MASSIVELY worth it, as I not only got a lovely sit down but also a PROPER cup of tea in a PROPER mug. HOOPLA!
It was back on a crappy Northern Rail train for the last bit of the journey to Middlesbrough, where I was met by Mr Bob Fischer and WHISKED off to BBC Tees, where we recorded a LENGTHY chat on Diverse Subjects and did a couple of songs - an EXCLUSIVE AIRING of The Night I Denied Myself To Comedy and also It Only Works Because You're Here with a string that went suddenly and HORRIBLY out of tune just after I started. I didn't want to have to start again, so tried to NOT pluck it, which was a) difficult but b) better. Bob's playing the interview and songs on his show tonight, if anybody fancies listening online!
Job done we headed over to Bob's where I met his girlfriend Scorcha - having read about her LOTS in his book it was like meeting a CELEBRITY!
More tea and then we went to The Waiting Room, the VERY nice veggie restaurant where we were playing. I'd decided to do the SHOW without a microphone, as it was a nice little room, so watched Bob's band got set up then had a lengthy chat with John The Publisher, who'd rather brilliantly come along. We discussed PUBLISHING!
Bob's set was ACE, especially the last song, "The Last Biscuit In The Barrel", which I've been singing ever since. I also forgot that they do a version of "Don't Pass Me By", and ALARMED to once again discover I know all the words.
Then it was ME, and I had a WHALE of a time, especially when half the audience GOT the punchline to the Zodiac Mindwarp story quite a while before I got to it. In Sheffield I'd forgotten to take the placards with me, and this time they kept falling over, as I'd put them on a CHAIR rather than bothering to bring the easel with me. Otherwise it all seemed to go dead well - i really enjoy doing the show, i'll be SAD when I stop doing it next year.
The rest of the evening was CHAT and BEER in the restaurant then more CHAT and some WINE back at Bob's before I eventually CRAWLED to bed for much needed KIP. The ADVENTURE was not over yet, however. Next morning, halfway to the station for my train home Bob's car got a FLAT TYRE! It was actually Sorcha's car, and she had to come out in Bob's to pick us up (saving us from being LOOKED at by everyone in the cul-de-sac we'd parked in, as we tried our best to NOT look like burglars) then wait for THE MAN to come out while we DASHED off to catch my train.
We DASHED so much I got there about 40 minutes early, and then the train was LATE so there was yet MORE sitting around before i could COLLAPSE into my Posh Seat for the first of many MANY cups of Proper Tea. DEFINITELY worth it!
A Very Long Weekend (part one)
My XTREME weekend of ROCK began on Friday, when I went to The Enterprise to see The Arndales, Pete Green, Pocketbooks and Sarandon. I'd been looking forward to it for AGES as it was a pretty AMAZING line-up and I was NOT disappointed, everyone was GRATE. The best bit, tho, was that the room was full of LOADS of delightful people, so I spent a very nice chunk of it wandering around talking to them. It was LOVELY - like a Saturday night in the Mag back in the 20th Century. My favourite bit was probably talking to Dandelion Radio's Very Own Rocker when he suddenly realised that he was wearing an A Million Ukeleles T-Shirt and got all flustered. Aah!
Saturday saw me up DEAD early to get to Sheffield. All went WELL and I was at the St Paul's hotel in the city centre bang on time. It was DEAD impressive - as often happens in Sheffield most hotels were BOOKED UP, so this was a bit more FLASH than I would have usually gone for - my room was HUGE and there was a SPA and POSH RESTAURANT and all sorts... none of which (well, apart from the room) i was able to utilise as I was heading off to the University for FUZZTIVAL, where I was doing TWO sets.
The first of these was doing My Exciting Life In ROCK. There weren't a HUGE amount of people there to see me though, thinking about it, there were probably more than had been to our busiest night in Edinburgh, they were just spread around a bit. One person who very much WAS there was Mr Steve Lamacq, which made the bit about HIM very VERY strange indeed. When i said "The broadcaster and journalist Steve Lamacq used to have a show called the Evening Session" I thought "As well you know, as you ARE him."
The whole thing went pretty well, I thought, and afterwards he didn't seem to mind any slight (SLIGHT) exaggerations applied to the story of how we got our Radio One Session, so I was MIGHTILY relieved, and settled into an afternoon of BEER with my GRATE Sheffield pals Steph, Jo, Penny and Lizzie, also Mr Lamacq, Ruth and - BIZARRELY - Russell From Pulp. He seemed to appear nearby EVERY time one of the ladies said "Ooh, I used to fancy Russell From Pulp" which was SURPRISINGLY often.
It was a GRATE afternoon, especially the bits sat in the Interval Bar drinking the ALE, so it was a VERY SLIGHTLY TIPSY Hibbett who took to the stage at 8.45pm to do THIS:
It was GRATE. I started off with The Gay Train because someone down the front requested it, and had a ROLLICKING time, packed with INCIDENT. Everyone seemed to get into the SINGALONGA bits really well, especially a RUDDILY DRUNK lad down the front who seemed to REVEL in me gently mocking him. It was possibly the success of BOTH of these that led me to decide to give some SAGE ADVICE to THE YOUNG PEOPLE... even despite seeing my PALS down the front SHAKING THEIR HEADS to try and get me to stop. I told THE KIDS that they were "all fcuked", and they seemed to take it quite well, especially when I advised them to go and form Joy Division, like we used to do in our day.
JOB DONE I packed up, had some MUCH NEEDED refreshment, and had an enjoyable couple of hours lurking, watching bands, and mostly chatting. It was, AS EVER, a lovely day out and after HUGS i got a VERY grumpy taxi back to the hotel, where I was VERY chuffed to be getting to be by midnight. I was KNACKERED, and there was still a whole lot of ROCKING to do!
Delegation's What You Need
It's not for me to say really, but I'm sure OTHERS would tell you that the mark of a GRATE LEADER is his ability to DELEGATE, to trust others who he has carefully CHOSEN, and to NURTURE their inherent inabilities. I'm not SAYING I'm surely the best qualified person to lead our great nation to victory - that, as stated, is for OTHERS to remark.
The reason I even MENTION it is that there's been a lot of ACTION this week undertaken by Validators. For instance, THE TIGER has been working hard as our LIAISON/REPREZENTATIVE with The Leicester Comedy Festival. Unlike certain other people (not a million miles from this very keyboard), Tom not only managed to SPEAK to organisers of one of Leicester's festivals, he actually went to MEET them and came out SMILING. If all goes to plan it looks like next year we'll be taking part in the OFFICIAL Leicester Comedy Festival (and not just, as was my bravest target, playing in another venue at the same time, grimacing), playing not one but TWO nights at The Criterion, one of the nicest and certainly BEERIEST pubs in town. HOORAH!
Meanwhile Produce Pattison has been back in the studio again, this time to PRE-PENULTIMIX some tracks for the next album. This is a process we've recently agreed to - we've done PENULTIMIXES for the last couple of things we've released, when whoever's in charge gets everything mixed and then holds it up for criticism from everyone else. THIS time we thought we'd do PRE-PENULTIMIXES, doing reasonable versions of everything we've done so far, so we can all work out what ELSE needs doing before we go for a PENULTIMIX. It seemed like _quite_ a good idea when we discussed it, but it's turned out to be a GRATE one! He's going back in soon to finish it all off, but so far I have an almost complete copy of the next album on my MyPod and it sounds BRILL - it's actually SURPRISINGLY poppy and, as several people have complained on hearing the last two singles, rather POLISHED - and that's even BEFORE we stick the stylophone and trumpets on it.
I say "surprising" as Tim is, of course, One Of The Most Important Punks In The Country and you'd EXPECT him to record the album by putting a tape recorder vaguely near one of our gigs and MAYBE remembering to turn it on. Why, I remember him BAULKING at the very IDEA that we might use a LOOP on a song, but these days he's cutting and pasting vocals and time correcting rhythm tracks with GAY ABANDON.
Hopefully the results of Tim's efforts will be available shortly after the results of Tom's - that is, of course, in the UNLIKELY event that I am NOT called to tackle the economic recession as the leader of a new unitary government. And with SKILLZ like this, surely it can't be long?
Dinosaur Planet Moves Closer
I've been trying not to Officially Think it for fear of JINXING, but I think I can now come out and say that, yes, the race is practically decided and the winner can be predicted without fear of contradiction come the big day in the future when we'll know for sure either way:
It looks like I'm going to do "Dinosaur Planet", NOT "As Seen On The Interweb" for the next SHOW at Edinburgh. What? What did you think I was talking about?
For a while I thought "As Seen On The Interweb" would be the THING to do, as I could sing along with videos and stuff, but the fact that that would take a LOT of effort to sort out eventually turned me off. Also, of course, doing "Dinosaur Planet" means we can buy loads of PLASTIC DINOSAURS!
And with that in mind I'd like to announce the opening of www.dinosaurplanet.co.uk! WHOO! OK, there's not really anything THERE at the moment (and if you're looking at this just after I've typed it it might not even be working properly yet - in which case go here instead) and it'll be a while before anything PROPER does appear, but I HAVE bought the domain name and...er... COOL, huh?
And yes, the level of SPECIAL EFFECTS seen on the webpage is PRECISELY the level you can expect from the final EXTRAVAGANZA!
I set off slightly late for Totally Acoustic last night, on the way worrying that Tom (a.k.a. Special Guest Vom Vorton) would get there before me and be AFEARED that nobody else was there. I needn't have worried, as I bumped into him, going in EXACTLY the wrong direction, on the way there. I turned him round and off we went.
I got there to find a range of MY REGULARS setting out the chairs, and we sat down to a lengthy and LEARNED discussion of topics various, including RELIGION and ASTRONOMY - I'd learned earlier in the day (from Wikipedia, obviously) that while there are officially only 8 Planets in the solar system these days, there's LOADS of Dwarf Planets, one of which is LARGER than Pluto! Pluto used to be a PLANET proper, and there's a BIGGER planet in the solar system that I'd never heard of! How did this happen? I looked at the sky CRITICALLY on the way home, but couldn't see it. ALSO, there's a whole PLUTOID, Ceres, lurking around in the asteroid belt! THAT wasn't in the Ladybird Book Of The Solar System!
Talk soon moved on to Stories Of Famous People We Have Met (with Lenny Kravitz somewhat disproportionaly represented) before it was time to round up STRAGGLERS and get going. I couldn't be bothered... sorry, I mean, I thought it was time for an artistic change so CHOSE not to learn any ukelele songs and instead went for a COVERS set to kick things off, as follows:
Le Pastie De La Bourgeoisie
St Swithin's Day
I must say, Le Pastie De La Bourgeoisie doesn't half LOSE something when you play it solo... like most of the point of the song, really. The rest of it was all OK, I'd meant to do Brickbat at the wedding the other week, then did a SHORTENED (by forgetting the middle verse) version of St Swithin's Day just because I couldn't decide what else to do.
Then Tom came on and did a GRATE set - I've ALWAYS liked Lardpony since the very first demo of theirs we got at AAS and would really like to have SEEN them more often, especially now they're on reduced gigging due to CHILDBIRTH. I especially like the way Tom writes the lyrics like a tightly packed package, with all the words snuggly fitted together, with loads of writing and RAZOR SHARP puns.
There was a LOT of that sort of thing, also a DAZZLING ukelele section in the middle which made me relieved I HADN'T done my usual fist-handed display of ineptitude. The STRANGEST bit was near the end when he played It's A Fair Cop, the song we collaborated on for February Album Writing Month earlier on in the year. It was WEIRD listening to my words being sung by someone else, and especially THOSE words, which sound monumentally FED UP! He made it all sound lovely, also PLAINTIVE, I was well chuffed!
Then there was BEER and then there was me again, doing THIS:
It was a bit of a funny old set, largely dictated by REQUESTS before we started. I wrote all the songs down and then put them into order as we went along, which worked quite well, i think, although did rather lead to a LOT of chatting. Towards the end I looked at my watch and was ALARMED to find I'd been going on for three quarters of an hour! It was a lovely evening though, full of lovely people, so I felt like YAKKING.
Job done there were farewells for some, BEERS for the rest of us, and further gentle discussion of matters pressing. It was a WRENCH to tear myself away, but as The Pint In My Glass was POORLY and was a) at home, being so and b) NOT at Totally Acoustic LEADING ME ASTRAY into drinking more BOOZE, I wanted to set off.
On the way home Pete and I walked past a CHIP SHOP - Miss K Kennedy had mentioned it earlier on, and I had POO POOED the very IDEA that there could even BE such a thing as a Proper Chippy in central London, but MY, it didn't half smell nice! We walked on by, in a saintly manner, but next time I may be rather more DRUNK and WILLING!
Payment In Vouchers
I spent quite a good deal of yesterday feeling sorry for myself, at one point thinking "I wish I had a song I needed to write, I could do THAT today." The only thing I had on my Songs To Write: URGENT list was to get a song written for "Dinosaur Planet", so I could play it at Totally Acoustic tonight, and I'd already DONE that on Saturday. The song is called The Night I Denied Myself To Comedy and concerns my previous experience of Dinosaur-based Fringe ACTION. It turned out pretty good, and I'll be trying it out this evening!
Anyway, I was just logging off at about 8pm, ready to make TEA, when an email popped into my inbox from John The Publisher, seeing if I could write a CHRISTMAS SONG for John Lewis (NB John Lewis haven't asked ME to write a song or anything, it's just a general call for a specific TYPE of Christmas song to go with an advert). "Yes", I thought, "I can do that", and sat down to DO so.
I got most of the instrumentation done last night and chopped it all up into LOOPS, then got up early this morning to finish it off, adding Traditional Christmas BELLS and LOADS of vocals. It was only when I was MIXING it that I realised that, in the unlikely event that they picked MY song, I would be fulfilling the destiny of ALL people from Peterborough: working for John Lewis. I've already WORKED for Pearl Assurance, so if this comes off all I'll need to do is work for Thomas Cook and I would have been employed by all THREE major Peterborough companies!
I was really pleased with how it came out, though I'm not it'll be what they're after. It'd be GRATE if it was though - John Lewis is The Greeting In My Card's FAVOURITE shop, household CRED would go through the ROOF!
Bowl And Sebastian
I type to you know through a STINKING cold so please, if you are fragile, step back slightly from the monitor to avoid CONTAGION.
This cold has been gradually creeping in all weekend, and thus it was with a sniffle and a sore throat that i BRAVELY set out to Bloomsbury yesterday afternoon to play at the Third Annual Belle & Sebastian All-Dayer, "Bowl And Sebastian" at the Bloomsbury Bowling Alley.
I arrived to find not all that many people around, so wrote myself a setlist pretty much DEVOID of songs requiring audience participation. The set, however, CHANGED somewhat as I went on first and did THIS:
It all started off pretty GOOD as the Pop Art MASSIVE all congregated at the front of the stage and sang along. Thanks chaps! This led to me doing a LOT of CHAT (which always seems to happen when I play their gigs), perhaps even TOO much, alongside possibly ill-advised journeys into Quiet Songs - this was a bit daft of me, especially doing It Only Works Because You're Here when there were three very loud lanes of BOWLING right next to me.
It was only really when I did (theme from) Dinosaur Planet that I got the HANG of things - as discovered last time, the AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION (or "singing along" as it is sometimes known) is DEAD GOOD in this one, and everyone REALLY got into the swing of it. Several MORE people came down to watch so I decided to go for BROKE and do ALL the audience participation ones. It was GRATE! There was a whole lot of SYNCOPATED CLAPPING, especially during Work's All Right (when it's a proper job) - someone had REQUESTED this song and, after warning him that I didn't really know the chords, managed to completely forget how the middle bit went. SO I asked everyone to clap along, and the day was SAVED! Note to self: remember this for when it INEVITABLY happens again in future!
It was all EXTREMELY good fun, and I retired to the rear of the room a happy man, where Mr S Hewitt managed to procure us a couple of BAR STOOLS. We spent the next couple of hours watching bands from the comfort of our CHAIRS, occasionally swivelling round to get some STOUT, the ALE having run out. There was CHATTING to various TYPES who'd arrived and, towards the end, even participation in "The State That I Am In", Mr D Rees's QUIZ SHOW. I must say, these Pop Art lads REALLY know how to do an All Dayer properly - there's always good bands (I particularly liked Puncture Repair Kit, but everyone was dead good), people to watch them, and special STUFF that makes it feel like a proper event.
This included a headline set from The PopArt All Stars, where GUESTS got up to sing a song. I've been practicing "Le Pastie De La Bourgeoisie" for WEEKS now, singing it to myself all day EVERY DAY in a desperate attempt NOT to make a complete fool of myself like I did on the Battersea Barge HOWLING "Country House". I think I managed to carry it off OK this time - even though it was played in a DIFFERENT KEY to the original - that will be my excuse anyway.
The evening finished with Mr Solo (aka him from David Devant And His Spirit Wife) doing "Judy And The Dream Of Horses", which was EXTREMELY impressive - he can really sing that bloke - after which I said my farewells to the DISCO DANCERS and made my way home, pleased with a gig gone well but most of all RELIEVED that I'd managed not to make a complete pillock of myself. PHEW!
Half Man Half Biscuit
The Colours Of My Dukla Prague Away Kit and I were off to Kentish Town last night, to go and see Half Man Half Biscuit at The Forum. We popped into The Pineapple, just around the corner, on the way, to meet PALS and it seemed like a LOT of people had had the same idea. A Regular at the bar said "This doesn't usually happen - people don't usually know we're here" and I pointed out that THIS gig crowd was a little more EXPERIENCED at the various venues of Britain, especially when it came to knowing where the BEER was. INDEED during the time I was there the REAL ALES went down from three to two and then to ONE, at which point the bar staff started calling out "Somebody buy some LAGER!"
Other cool thing that happened: Mr S Hewitt recieved a text message from a pal who'd heard somebody say "That bloke over there looks like MJ Hibbett!" For a brief moment i felt like RINGO STARR!!
It's a nice pub and we had a lovely time IN it, especially as it was FULL of people I knew - some of whom we'd arranged to meet, but most of whom had come because a) it's Half Man Half Biscuit b) this was the nice pub nearby. SENSIBLE. This continued once inside as we bumped into MORE pals, even inside a GIGANTIC venue like the Forum. I'd never been before so was stunned to see it was so HUGE, and extremely pleased to note that it was also PACKED. I'm sure there was a time when there'd be plenty of room at Biscuits gigs, but they seem to be playing BIGGER and bigger venues every time I see them.
The gig itself was BRILL, kicking off with "Restless Legs" and leading into nearly two hours of GRATE songs. There weren't any new ones but there did appear to be a lot of BITS in between songs, the sort of BITS that a year later turn out to have been Nigel TRIALLING ideas that end up being songs themselves. My favourite was when he talked about the loyalty of teaspoons which follow you through life, it was a LOVELY idea so whatever song it ends up in will be ACE.
My favourites of the evening were "Too Problem Chimp To The Ideal Home Show" and "Country Practice" - I was just emerging from the loo when that came on, and i WHOOPED! Actually, on the way to the loo I had the only ANNOYING aspect of the whole evening. Stood at the top of the stairs to the bar area was a bloke looking MOST annoyed that people kept walking past him. "I'm not a gangway" he said... stood at the top of the stairs to the bar area. Gently I leant in and, JOKING, said "I think you are mate", at which point he stuck his leg backwards to try and trip me up as I walked away! What a tosser - so I turned round and "ACCIDENTALLY" gave him a KICK. Pillock!
Anyway, when it was all over we gathered with Mr S Hewitt and Mr J Kell outside to discuss how FAB it had been. Steve said that the only person he'd NOT seen was Eddie Argos From The Art Bruts... just as Eddie Argos From The Art Brutes walked past us. We said our farewells and The Songs In My Encore and I staggered off to the TUBE, for of BEER and TUNES. Half Man Half Biscuit are GRATE!
I went to see some JAZZ last night. No, come back, it's all right - a couple of friends were playing at an Open Mic night and it was only just around the corner, so it would have been RUDE not to, even if it did involve, as I say, THE JAZZ.
I got there to find it very much like a normal Open Mic night, with hardly anybody there except for some very nervous looking people who were obviously the performers. The big difference tho was that the stage was full of INSTRUMENTS. Usually at Open Mics everyone brings their own acoustic guitar (it's pretty much ALWAYS an acoustic guitar) and plugs it in, but here there was a drum kit, a double bass, a piano, and variously heighted microphones for other instruments. IMPRESSIVE!
I thought "Ooh, maybe I'll get up and do a couple of songs then - I'm sure i can call it (Nice And) Easily Impressed or something" then noticed that everyone else had come with MUSIC SHEETS. It turned out it WASN'T an open mic after all, it was a BLUES AND JAZZ JAM! The HOUSE BAND got up on stage and started playing and all of a sudden i was VERY relieved I hadn't volunteered.
It actually looked TERRIFYING, at least to one as PUNK as me (NB very, clearly). People would go up with MUSIC SHEETS, hand them round the band, very briefly explain how the song went, then off they'd go! EEK! No practice, no knowing the songs or anything, they just DID it. This was especially scary when my friends went up - other people were often doing STANDARDS, but they did a JAZZ version of an Elvis Costello song. FEAR!
It was all quite impressive though, especially when they swapped around the band members for others waiting their turn, and even more so when some BRASS instruments entered the fray. When that happened it didn't really matter that these were songs that'd been played MILLIONS of times, or that none of the players had written the material, it was the NOW of the playing, the fact that this group of people was put together to deliver a unique performance, rather than a set selection playing something they'd done countless times before and would doubtless play countless times again.
It was all rather lovely, though as I say, TERRIFYING. Not being able to read music and, let's be honest, not EPT enough at playing ANYTHING to be able to just pick it up as we went along, it's certainly not something I'd ever want to risk doing myself, but it wasn't half fun to watch!
The Return To Croydon
Leaving work last night I got myself a bit CONFUSED about how to get to Croydon. I needed to get to London Bridge station but, as usual, TFL LIED to me, trying to get me to go pretty much round the ENTIRE CIRCUIT OF TUBE rather than just change at Bank because there is "limited access" to escalators. When i eventually GOT there (having gone the wrong way at Tottenham Court Road to start with...) I managed to go the wrong way AGAIN and discovered that, actually, there is an AWFUL LOT of ways to walk around the corridors at Bank, and took about 15 minutes to change lines. It was HARD!
Thus I rolled up at The Green Dragon fairly late, to find Mr T Eveleigh, organiser, looking POORLY as he was, well, a bit poorly. As with most times I've played Freedom Of Expression he said "It's looking a bit quiet tonight - but the last two weeks have been packed." I nodded sympathetically, hoping he would continue not to TWIG the CONNECTION between me playing his gigs and nobody coming.
I got myself some food (lovely) and some beer (DELICIOUS). They really REALLY have some nice beer at The Green Dragon, I had Freedom Beer, Hopback and Autumn Ale this time, and it was ALL fantastic. YUM!
There was some small negotiation re. running orders and then I went on FIRST and did THIS:
I must say I rather enjoyed myself, tho it did begin with an alarming realisation. The landlady's son, Sam, always does a spot at the start of these gigs, which consist of him giving some advice. He's about seven years old, i think, so this is always fairly WISE, and this time he had his MUM and his NAN watching him. As they said "I think that's enough now Sam" I realised this was like one of my recurring ANXIETY DREAMS... except Sam managed NOT to burst into a volley of SWEARS and shock/stun/upset his Nan, preferring to go round the room and whisper secret numbers to everybody before retiring to his lego. It seemed a much more sensible reaction.
This REMARK didn't go down as gently as I'd thought, as I realised that being told you remindeded a 38 year old of HIS Nan, and that this was a NIGHTMARE, was perhaps not the greatest compliment. Still, the rest of the set proceeded calmly and very pleasantly, with me managing to bridge a MENTAL GAP in the lyrics of My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once (i forgot the line "... when he started working here it was meant to be a temporary gig while he reassessed his rock career") by stopping, GRINNING FOOLISHLY, then carrying on. Watch out for entire SETS to be like this in the future!
Job done I settled back to watch the other acts, particularly enjoying Mark The Soundguy stepping into the BREACH when Tim had gone home, FAR too poorly to continue, and ending up doing a 10 minute, very funny, MONOLOGUE about his job in a second hand music shop. It was GRATE! I also had a chat to John from 10 Foot Nun, who had rather FREAKED ME OUT by suddenly APPEARING. It's always weird when that happens, when somebody from one SPHERE suddenly turns up in another. We weren't in Lewisham! And here was one of The Lewisham Posse! Despite his protestations that, actually, he just lived round the corner, I still found it all a bit confusing.
It was a slightly confused evening all round really, so on the way home I took the precaution of asking the ticket barrier guard for advice on how to get back. "That depends on where you're getting back TO" he said. GOOD POINT, I thought!
Yesterday Once More
I've just been looking through the Blog Archives for 2004, in preparation for the NEXT batch of entries for My Exciting Life In ROCK. I like to do myself a LIST of what's to come, and having just gotten to the end of the last one it was time for MORE, and it's always, for me, quite interesting to do, especially as I always seem to find GIGS that aren't listed on the gigs we did in the past page. I missed off TWO at the end of 2004 - I could understand missing out the one at The Frisbee Society, as it was the LOWPOINT of the Hibbett/MacClure DUO, but I'd also missed the time we did The Advent Calendar Of FACT at the BBC. Blimey, was that nearly four years ago? Don't time fly eh?
Around that time I was thoroughly enjoying watching The Shed Of Reknown fill up, as people purchased Shed Anthems. and NOW I am happy to report that the WELL OF SHEDS has almost run dry. We've had a few purchases of it just lately which means that there's only THREE left now. THREE! Now, I know I said a while ago that we're planning to include this on a BONUS DISC with Milk And Baubles if/when we finally get round to re-releasing This Is Not A Library BUT!
There's an UNLISTED track on the end of Shed Anthems which will NOT be included on this re-release. Actually, there's ALSO an unlisted track on the end of Milk And Baubles which we'll not be including either, as they're both cover versions. The latter is a song i do PRETTY MUCH ALL THE TIME, the former is one by Mr M B Mathers that I've only done live once or twice as there's SO many words.
There may come a day when I've got FAR too much money so decide to lose some it by releasing a COVERS album but, my friends, that day is SOME WAY OFF, so if you would like to OWN them i would suggest some PANIC BUYING! There's only about 15 copies of Milk And Baubles left too, let's all make like the stock market. PAAAAANIIIIIICCC!!!!
Sunday was an IMMENSELY busy day, as I FLITTED across Fashionable London doing not one but TWO mighty acts of ROCK.
The first was in leafy Islington, where it appeared that EVERYBODY was in a) a couple b) possession of a pram c) GAP clothing. It was a LOVELY sunny day which seemed to have forced all the Young Parent Professionals out of the house, as they were EVERYWHERE.
Well, nearly everywhere - there were none in The Salmon & Compass when I arrived, that being the venue for The Hangover Lounge, the afternoon of PLATTER SPINNING and DISC JOCKEYING that i was due to "drop the bomb" at. In fact the ONLY people there were Mr Steve Blower and his lady friend Kaz, and the three of us sat to having a chat whilst we awaited the organisers. These appeared in the shape of Mr Ben Clancy, who got us some BEERS then got Steve set up on the DECKS. Steve had brought a laptop, various wires, his own personal mixer and a DJ HAT. I felt rather unprepared, as I'd brough about 12 CDs with me - OK, some of them were SPECIAL ones with various tracks on, but still, it would prove to not really be enough.
After about an hour it was my go, so Ben went and showed me how to work THE DECKS. To be honest this was the thing I was most worried about - for years I have been poncing around going "But DJing is PEASY! Any idiot can do it! PAH!" but I was AFEARED that, once faced with the reality of it, it might be HIDEOUSLY COMPLEX and DIFFICULT.
I needn't have worried. It's a piece of PISS. You put one CD in the CD player, turn it's fader up, and press play. Then you put another one in the other CD player and, when the first one has ended (OR, if you are a MIXMASTER EXTRAORDINAIRE, BEFORE it has ended!!) you faded THAT one in over the top, and REPEAT PROCESS. With this knowledge I did THIS as my first "set":
Rock Show - Paul McCartney & Wings
Patio Song - Gorky's Zygotic Mynci
Tapestry - Carole King
Judy And The Dream Of Horses - Belle & Sebastian
Cracklin' Rosie - Neil Diamond
You Are The Sunshine Of My Life - Stevie Wonder
Nice And Easy Does It - Frank Sinatra
The Return Of The Los Palmos Seven - Madness
Little Sister - Elvis Presley
My Little Kookanhaken - Jonathan Richman
Hanging Around - The Lemonheads
The Light At The End Of The Tunnel - Half Man Half Biscuit
You Don't Need A Licence For That - George Formby
Treehouse - I'm From Barcelona
Waiting For The Great Leap Forward - Billy Bragg
Hibbett's Superstore - MJ Hibbett
Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now - The Smiths
Barney And Me - The Boo Radleys
You may have guessed that this was NOT a Disco Dancing Discotheque, and you would be correct, it was more of a Sit Around Reading And Eating Afternoon. INDEED I spent most of the above "set" eating CHIPS, which had arrived for my lunch just as I'd started. It was BRILLIANT FUN - basically it was like being in a pub with a really good jukebox that is a) FREE and b) plays the songs in the order you want them in. GRATE!
Unfortunately I soon realised that I hadn't really brought enough CDs with me so that, an hour or so later when I went back on, I had to play some songs by Remarkably Similar Artistes:
Poison Ivy - The Coasters
Ain't That Loving You - Elvis Presley
Le Pastie De La Bourgeoisie - Belle & Sebastian
(Hey Lloyd) I'm Ready To Be Heartbroken - Camera Obscura
For Once In My Life - Stevie Wonder
Songs About You - The Language Of Flowers
Don't Come The Cowboy With Me Sonny Jim - Kirsty MacColl
La-Ti-Da - The Icicles
Magneto And Titanium Man - Paul McCartney & Wings
Golf Girl - Caravan
My Girl - Madness
This was my favourite batch of TUNES, as I did a bit of a DANCE during them and TWO people came up to ask "What's that?" when I played "Songs About You". It was like being the Disc Jockey in a two part crime drama special on ITV1! There were a good few more people by this point, including Dr Neil Brown who came as if CALLED by the magic power of playing Caravan. Also in attendance were The Hewitts and KREW and, briefly, Steve from Sheffield who'd wondered off on a pub crawl... just as I started to play George Formby. Coincidence?
Social FACT I have learnt during all this, by the way: when people make a large figure "T" with their hands in this kind of environment, it means "what a good song!" or "TUNE", and is NOT being used as a signal for a timeout. I saw people do this a couple of times and thought "Eh? Are they indicating that the music should have a five minute break so everyone could discuss tactics?" Maybe when I was on THE WHEELS OF STEEL that IS what they meant...
Anyway, for the last batch Dr Brown and I did some TAGTEAMING, as he had his USB MP3 player with him and I'd run out of songs, and we played THIS:
Do The Indie Kid - MJ Hibbett & The Validators
Love Somebody, Yes I Do - The Fighting Cocks
Jet - Wings
If It Don't Work Out - The Zombies
It's About Time - The Lemonheads
Foggy Notion - The Velvet Underground
House Of Fun - Madness
Song Sung Blue - Neil Diamond
So Many Tears - The Keys
Lazarus - The Boo Radleys
Nice Work If You Can Get It - Frank Sinatra
Playing one of my OWN songs first drew some COMPLAINTS as apparently it is against the RULES of Disc Jockeying, to which I say HA! I will not be governed by these Establishment rules, i am a MAVERICK! Also, I found a copy of It Only Works Because You're Here in my bag and POUNCED on it as a source of Other Songs. This was VERY handy as we got a bit "confused" with using the laptop, and only got THREE songs out of it in the end. I wonder, dear reader, if you can guess which?
Job done we packed up and headed over to Fashionable Shoreditch, where I was due to do a gig for John Peel Day. Neil had to dash off, but I was joined by Steve, coming off the end of his pub crawl. We watched a coupld of bands who were very much the sort of Slint/Americana/Angular band that young George, who organised the whole thing, rather likes. I must admit it passes me by a bit, I always think "Yes, you have clearly practiced A LOT to be able to do this", but that's about it. Some bands seem to do songs that are all CHORUS, most bands do all VERSE, but this sort of thing appears to me to be all BRIDGES.
And on that PHILOSOPHICAL SHOCKER I went on to do the following:
I found the whole experience a bit TERRIFYING, not least because I'd been in the pub all day. Also I felt rather out of place, doing my songs in the middle of the ANGULAR RHYTMNS and NOISE TERROR. I started badly by stopping ThePeterborough All-Saints' Wide Game Team (Group B) halfway through in order to change the levels, but I think i passed it off fairly lightly, and had more and more fun as I went through it all. As usual i focussed on the people LEAVING, but afterwards several people seemed to have enjoyed it. I was still a bit scared though!
Soon it was time to leave, pausing on the way to say hello to John Peel's daughter!! She'd arrived and been introduced to George, so I said "Hello" as I passed. Actually, like a WEIRD OLD LOONIE I said "Like many people my age I listened to you grow up", realised how DERANGED that sounded, and FLED!
Working For The Man
As mentioned several times already, I'm having a go at writing some Songs To Order at the moment. Some of these have been done for a Viral Marketing Company and some have been via John The Publisher - John's just signed up with a Synchronisation Agency (the people who put music together with films, adverts and that) so we've had quite a few of these just lately, and last night he sent me an ADVERT which required a new song to go on it.
Usually with these things you get a BRIEF, like it says "Must be frisky, hinting at freshness but also value for money, with a lightweight beat and including the words 'wholesome', 'bluey-whiteness' and 'fuel efficient'. 10 seconds long", but this time it just said that the previous version was a bit BLAND.
THUS I set off to Mr E Munro's drinks trying to think up some ideas, and got a bit waylaid by thoughts of DINOSAUR PLANET, the proposed SHOW for next year's Edinburgh Fringe. Mr S Hewitt was there and we DIVVIED UP the money which had (finally) arrived from The Fringe Office, then fell into DISCUSSION. Steve has historically been a bit wary of DINOSAUR PLANET (although ALARMINGLY KEEN whenever the idea of him dressing up in a dinosaur costume has entered the conversation), but he's had a FANTASTIC idea which surely makes it INEVITABLE. Instead of flyers, SMALL PLASTIC DINOSAURS!
How can it fail? Anyway, all this talk, also some BEER, put me a little of course, so I ended up getting out of bed just after 7am, sitting down in front of the computer, and COMPOSING in my dressing gown. I spent several hours AT IT, most playing on the BASS GUITAR until it all fell together, before DAUBING other bits on top. The only idea from the night before which got through was to have a lead guitar MOTIF "singing" (it was an instrumental, see) the name of the company. You know like how the theme tune to The Sweeney goes "The Sweeney! The Sweeney!"? Like THAT.
It all sounded surprisingly GRATE, ESPECIALLY when I SYNCED IT UP with the advert itself. It all fitted! WHOO!
I sent it off to John The Publisher, who also seemed to like it, tho with the Usual Caveat: there'll be LOADS of people putting in songs, so it's highly unlikely mine will get picked. It is a TRUTH I am very aware of - NONE of the other songs I've done have been used, and it's not terribly plausible that a Major High Street Retailer will end up using a song recorded in our spare room, featuring ukelele and STOMACH SLAPS, but still, it's bloody good fun trying!
Oh the emotional WITCH'S HAT I was in this lunchtime. Having emerged from the GYM (what? you don't think an ADONIS LIKE figure like MINE looks after itself do you? It takes work... also, BEER) I headed up London's World Known Tottenham Court Road to get some ENVELOPES, so as to do a mini-mailout of press releases about the My Exciting Life In ROCK mini-tour.
As I strolled along I NOTED a group of Young Adults sitting on street furniture being talked to by a bloke who looked like an unwanted extra from FAME: THE LATER YEARS. He was all brightly coloured trousers, backwards hats and slightly too intricate facial topiary. He saw me coming and LEAPT off the piece of concrete he'd been perched on towards me, arm outstretched. "Hey mate, how are you? Good day?" he said, LUNGING at me.
INNER CONFLICT! What I really wanted to do was WALK ON BY, thinking he was BOUND to be a chugger or something, doing what they ALWAYS do i.e. be all smiley and difficult to avoid so that POLITENESS forces you to stop and listen while they try to FLEECE you. "Come on Hibbett!" I said to myself in my Stern Talking To Self way "He's not wearing an Official BIB is here? Maybe those young people are TOURISTS, and he wants to ask a question while demonstrating that HEY! Londoners aren't as grumpy as they've been lead to believe. Would it hurt to shake his hand? Eh? WOULD IT?"
So I shook his hand and said "Good, thanks", and waited for the inevitable FOLLOW-UP... but none came. I smiled back and carried on my way, thinking that SIMPLE GOODNESS had triumphed over cynicism. He was just a cheery fellow wishing to spread some happiness!
Then I heard him say "You see, he wasn't so grumpy was he?" and realised - AAARGH! - he was actually a CHUGGER TRAINER! He was using ME as an example of how you could ENGAGE somebody. It was worse than I'd ever DREAMT - he wasn't just tricking me, he wasn't JUST making everybody that little bit LESS likely to engage in the people around me, he was USING me as a means to teach OTHERS how to DO IT!!!
NYARGH! By the point I had worked out precisely HOW ANNOYED I was about this (and it was LOTS - he wasn't even wearing identifying material, surely that means it's OK to SHOOT him? Or is that just in The Great Escape?) I had gone JUST too far to turn back and REMONSTRATE and, according to the FANTASY VERSION that played in my mind, turn to his apprentices and tell them that the REASON people are so grumpy and unwilling to be engaged in conversation with them is PRECISELY BECAUSE they are so used to every friendly greeting to lead to people JUST LIKE THEM trying to get MONEY out of them, "a percentage of which" would go to charity.
OOH! I was STEAMING with annoyance! Chuggers! BAH!
The Merry-Go-Round Of ROCK
It's all movement in my personal itinerary at the moment, as the gigs they come and the gigs they GO.
The big change is the "mini-tour" of My Exciting Life In ROCK which is coming up in a few weeks. Last week I got confirmation that I was definitely playing in Stockton-on-Tees on the 26th, and also that I would be doing TWO gigs at this year's Fuzztival on the 25th, My Exciting Life In ROCK at 3pm and a more normal (probably more "refreshed") set at 9pm. Added to the already booked gig in Liverpool in November, this looked to me like a TOUR!
THUS yesterday I wrote up a PRESS RELEASE for this tour, GLIDING over the fact that, as mini-tours go, this one was MINI to the MAX, and was going to send it out tonight (NB please don't think I have somehow accumulated a huge PR department - what all this means is that I gave a copy to The Spelling In My Grammar to CHECk today, and then will be emailing it this evening). However, I just found out that we're going to have to RESCHEDULE the Liverpool gig for next year now, which is a bit of a shame but DOES make life SIGNIFICANTLY easier for that weekend, as I can now just go to Nottingham for the FANTASTIC Lee Rosy's all-dayer (Frankie Machine! Lardpony! Pocketbooks! Me! Pete Green! Milky Wimpshake! Gregory Webster! Phil Wilson! The Bobby McGee's! It's my entire year of GIGS in ONE!) and maybe, just maybe, have a little drinkie too.
This does rather make the mini-tour EVEN MORE MINI, so the Press Release is probably going to change to "touring starts", as there are vague ideas to go and do some more in the new year. But fear not, as The Gods Of ROCK take away so also they GIVE, and I've just got me another gig, conveniently on the same day and in the same PLACE as a gig I was already playing! It's on October 19th, when I'm now playing a full set (at 4pm) at Bowl & Sebastian, to go along with the GUEST SPOT I was already doing with The All Star Band in the evening. I'm well chuffed about this as it gives me an excuse to relearn some Belle & Sebastian covers, though SLIGHTLY WORRIED that it might mean a repeat of what happened LAST time I was at a Pop-Art All-Dayer and tried to do a song at the end of the evening. But that can't happen again, can it?
After being up LATE on Saturday night (and that's the ONLY reason why) I was feeling slightly DELICATE for most of Sunday, so had to DRAG myself out to go to the Anything Goes Sunday Club in Islington. I got the Overground there, which was nice and quick but DID involve quite a long walk through Islington, during which I noticed that there seems to be a deficit of NET CURTAINS there. Nearly ALL the houses had big, brightly lit front rooms, it felt a bit strange to see EVERYONE'S living room as I walked along. I don't know why it was so noticeable, but it really WAS.
With the HIKE added to my MALAISE I was KNACKERED when I arrived at The Star, which seemed to be one of those legendarily SWANKY pubs that are supposed to be all over London but which I rarely see - there was a ready supply of Young People Lounging On Sofas Reading The Sunday Papers, and a HUGE list of different WINES available. Feeling positively under dressed I went upstairs and, feeling that honesty was the best policy, said "I was at a wedding last night and am REALLY knackered, is there any chance of going on quite early please?" Hattie, the host, seemed VERY pleased to here this. "Can you go on FIRST?" She asked. I was DELIGHTED to do so, and did THIS:
The Healing Power Of ROCK, as ever, did it's work and I was feeling MUCH better by the end. I was making the setlist up as I went along, and after the first two songs pointed out the INK on my left inner arm, where I'd written out the words to "Sweet Child O'Mine". I'd done this the night before, just some KEYWORDS to help me out if I forgot the order of the lyrics (as they're VERY similar throughout). When it came to it my MAN SWEAT had erased them, but luckily there had been SEVERAL people in the room who weren't SO Indie they didn't know the whole song from start to finish. ANYWAY, i'd written them again just in case, and the mere MENTION of the song got such a good reaction I felt I HAD to do it. In retrospect this was NOT the best idea, as a big bunch of people came in just as I'd started and, hearing a cover version, talked through most of it, with me unable to do much about it. Lesson: LEARNT!
I hung around to watch the next act then made my EXIT, arriving at Upper Holloway to find I'd written the wrong times down, and had JUST missed a train. I settled down to wait for the next one, in half an hour, unaware that this wasn't the LAST or the WORST error I'd make on The Overground that night.
A couple of stops later two young lads got on the train, one a teenager the other his younger brother. The teenager had some severe facial disfigurement, so bad that it was quite a shock to see. When he sat down he asked me if the train went to Leytonstone High Road and, as I turned to answer I saw his little brother's give me such an INTENSE look it was almost more overwhelming - he clearly IDOLISED his big brother (as his mucking about for the rest of the journey showed), but also obviously knew how people reacted when they saw him. He so desperately wanted people to be KIND to him, it was a stare of LOVE, and CARING, and FEAR and HOPE and... well, it was fairly awesome to see in such a little lad.
For the rest of the journey they were just a couple of Annoying Kids, jumping on chairs and making a bloody racket, but when we got to Leytonstone High Road I kept thinking "Don't turn round and get in another LOOK, just get off the train." It was with this thought in mind that I got up early, stood by the door, and hopped off.
It was now only just after eight o'clock, and as well as feeling MOVED by what I'd seen I was also, I must admit, pretty PLEASED with myself for getting home so EFFICIENTLY, especially for having been in a pub with Interesting BEER but only drinking COCAL COLA, and so not increasing the hangover. I was just thinking how nice it was to do a gig like this when I realised... hang on... where's my guitar?
ARGH! I'd left my guitar ON THE TRAIN! AAAAAARRRGGHHH!!!!!
The train had GONE so I went and found the London Overground STAFF member who they have nowadays on all the platforms. WHY they have them there I do not know, as he was no use whatsoever. I asked him if he could get in touch with the driver, he said No. I asked if he could, in that case, ring Barking Station, so they'd know the guitar was there. He said he couldn't. "But hang on", I said, "Aren't you always on the lookout for suspect packages? Isn't there ANY way you can warn them about it so they don't panic?" He said all he could do was ring his manager... who wasn't on duty on a Sunday. "What if there really WAS a bomb on the train?" I asked, but all he could do was give me a leaflet with the number for Lost Property, which was only open in Office Hours.
DISTRESSED, I RAN home, where The Landlady and The Digits In My Phone Number SPRANG into action. All household phones were in use, as we tried to find a number for Barking Station. NOBODY would tell us what it was, and after 20 fruitless minutes The Bell In My Alarm Clock took charge and we dashed BACK to the Station. The PLAN was to check to see if my guitar was still on the train as it came back the other way, and if not I'd get the next train to BARKING to see if it was there. The platform attendant told me this'd be easy, as there was a 2 minute GAP between trains going either way. This sounded odd to me, as I was sure they both came into Leytonstone High Road at quarter to, and on checking I found i was RIGHT. He didn't even know the TIMES of the trains - surely that's pretty necessary?
We split up, The Times In My Timetable ready to interrogate the train to Gospel Oak, me ready to hop on to Barking. As expected, both trains came in at exactly the same time and I hopped aboard. Just as we left there was a call on my phone - she'd got my guitar back!!!
RELIEF! ELATION! JOY! HOORAH! I LEAPT off at the next stop and got a TAXI home, where I found The Hero In My Adventure PROUDLY holding my guitar. OH THE CELEBRATION! She'd asked the driver, who said yes, it'd got to Barking and (glowering) had almost caused the entire station to be evacuated. She did NOT point out, at this stage, that we'd TRIED to avoid this, as it wasn't the time nor the place, instead dashing down to the other end of the train where the GUARD had it in his possession, ready to go back to the station.
I cannot really BEGIN to express my JOY at this happy outcome. When i thought I might have lost it I tried to console myself by thinking "I can always get another guitar - a posh-ish new one, in fact, that might be nice" but this had been my Gig Guitar for YEARS, it'd been all OVER the place with me. I fully expected it to be gone forever, but there it was, back home in its rightful place. Thank heavens for The Roof On My House, she saved the day. HOORAH!
Lisa And Sam's Wedding
Saturday found me heading up to NOTTINGHAM, for Lisa And Sam's Wedding Reception. I booked my train tickets well in advance, so got to go up FIRST CLASS. After spending YEARS thinking "Why would anybody pay more money for first class? All you get is a bit more space?" I now realise a) if going on your own getting a nice big Single Seat is GRATE as it means no LOONIEZ or huge crowds of lairy/shouting people are going to come and sit next to you and b) thanks to the DERANGED way tickets are sold it's often cheaper than a normal ticket anyway. This seems to be especially true since they "simplified" the ticketing structure. Now there are STILL about 20 different kinds and prices of ticket available for the each journey, but now they're all called THE SAME THING. GENIUS!
Anyway, I had a lovely journey up and toddled round the corner from the station to the HOTEL, which was also dead nice. I had a slightly WEIRD corner room which felt MASSIVE as bits of it were all over the place, struggling to fit into the space available. Anyway, I had a happy hour watching telly before getting my SUIT on and heading to the Taxi Rank, where I found a very nervous taxi driver who didn't really seem to know where he was AT ALL.
Thankfully he had lots of nice friends he could call for help, so eventually we made it to The Wellbeck Banqueting Suite, where I saw a man who looked EXACTLY like Sam, except with darker hair, LURKING outside. He seemed slightly surprised when I said "You must be Sam's Dad!" Maybe I should have said "Are you Sam's slightly younger brother?"
WITHIN the building I soon discovered that it VERY MUCH doubles up as a Masonic Lodge - the many many posters for MASONISM were a bit of a giveaway (highlighted by The Deirdres asking the more... mature members of the party "What's a Mason?"), as was the First Aiders Board, which said listed which room OR TEMPLE the duty first-aider was in.
ALSO within were LOADS of lovely people - it was like someone had SCOOPED UP half of Indietracks, given them a THOROUGH WASH and the pushed them all through a TV Makeover, everyone was SO SMART, also BRUSHED UP. There then followed an hour or two of wandering around and CHATTING, while The Deirdres set up in the main room. They were, as ever, BRILL, with loads of rather thrilling cover versions chucked in this time - they're splitting up/going into hibernation after this week, it is a RIGHT shame.
I was a bit worried about going on AFTER The Deirdres, especially as I'd rather foolishly given them my TOP WEDDING GIG TIP, which is THIS: if you feel it's going wrong at any point, simply say "Everybody - the Bride And Groom!" and EVERYBODY will have to CHEER. It never fails, and indeed it worked a TREAT when utitilised by Sophie Deirdre, even though it was going GRATE.
My NERVES were not helped by the fact that THE BUFFET opened as soon as The Deirdres had finished. I noted that NOBODY wanted to be first to ATAK it and, seeing as i needed people to get eating so that they could then come and see me, i HEROICALLY stormed the table and got FIRST CAKES. I am very BRAVE like that.
Duly fed I went and stood in front of the microphone, waiting for people to come in, and then did THIS:
It was LOVELY, especially when I hit the MASS SINGALONG sequence of String Bean Jean/Sweet Child O' Mine/Back For Good - how often are THOSE three played together, I wonder, and how often are they sung along with so LUSTILY? I'd actually learnt a whole SET'S worth of cover versions, but halfway through Sam requested Billy Jones Is Dead and, hey, it was his wedding, I couldn't refuse could I? Nor could I when he then asked for Hey Hey 16K, at which point I got a bit excited and did some MORE of my own.
It was all rather jolly, and I even got to invite The Bride And Groom up for The First Dance afterwards. The rest of the evening then fell into a DELIGHTFUL pattern of more BEER, more CHAT, and... er , some more BEER after that too. It was thus a slightly tiddly but HAPPY Hibbett who went for CHIPS (FAIRY CAKE was not sufficient to soak up the aforementioned BEER) and then to home.
Next morning I realised the DOWNSIDE of booking tickets in advance: things that seem a Good Idea in the afternoon, at work - like getting a train at 10 o'clock on a Sunday morning - seem distinctly LESS clever when you actually have to get up to go and catch it!
Sony Award AHOY
We were halfway through a DELICIOUS curry last night when the phone rang. It was BBC Radio TEES, as arranged, asking me if I was still up for doing an interview on Bob Fischer's show. I said "YES PLEASE!"
They plugged me into the system, and I sat and listened to them playing Do The Indie Kid. It is of course ALWAYS a joy to hear one of my records being played on the radio but it is ESPECIALLY joyous when it's that particular song on The BBC as i take HUGE DELIGHT in thinking that "The Music Of The Future" is being broadcast TO THE NATURE. There is generally some GIGGLING on my part.
The song ended and we were OFF, for a wide-ranging chat involving HOT TOPICS such as curry, professional piggy-in-the-middle and CONKERS. Never mind the collapse of communism or the Vice Presidential Debate, THESE were the issues that mattered!
You can have a listen yourself if you like, though you'll need to go to the BBC Tees homepage click "Listen Again", then choose Thursday's edition of The Bob Fischer show, and I'm an hour in. It's a lot of work, but like I say, if you want to keep up to date with THE ISSUES THAT MATTER, then it is surely worth it!
posted by MJ Hibbett, 3.10.08 (click here for permanent link)
Has there ever been a more GRATE Quality Of Life Enhancement Device than the BBC Radio Listen Again feature? Not only does it allow me to listen to Gideon Coe at the CORRECT time every morning and avoid Fcuking Awful George Lamb (although I would have quite liked to have heard this cretinous interview with Ray Davies live, if only for the bit where Mr Davies spells out "FUCK OFF" when asked a PARTICULARLY stupid question), but it also means I can Listen Again whenever WE get played on the radio on shows after my bedtime, like for instance on Huw Stephens last night. COOL!
It ALSO means I can listen to Mr Charlie Flowers of The Fighting Cocks being FRANKLY GRATE on Tuesday's Nihal Show on the Asian Network. He's on in the last hour and is BRILLIANT - i doubt ANYONE in ANY band has ever made saying "allow me to read you the exact verse from The Koran" sound SO UNBELIEVABLY COOL! Charlie may carry on like he is some sort of ROCK ANIMAL OF PUNK or something, but if The Controller Of BBC1 tuned in I am sure that next time there's a vacancy for the post of Statesmanlike Commentator: Matters Philosophical it will be FILLED by a Fighting Cock.
I too will be appearing on BBC Radio this evening, on "Gobstopper" on BBC Tees at about nine o'clock. It will be VERY similar to Charlie's DEBATE - where he discussed Islamic groups, religious theory, feminism in music and the cultural implications of fashion in relation to all of the above, I shall be talking about... er... conkers. It's pretty much EXACTLY the same thing!
News reaches us that voting for this year's Dandelion Radio Festive 50 is now OPEN. Last year we were EXTREMELY chuffed to get The Lesson Of The Smiths in at Number 41, and I would be FIBBING if I said we weren't hoping to make it in again this year.
CLEARLY it would be wrong of me to suggest you go and vote for US, so i will not do this. I WILL point out that we released that both Do The Indie Kid and It Only Works Because You're Here would be eligible, but would never IN A MILLION YEARS say you should definitely go and vote for one of them. Well, not unless you really wanted to anyway.
I've no idea what I'm going to vote for myself tho - i have actually BOUGHT some Modern New Albums this year, but seem to have spent most of my time listening to WINGS. As usual.
I Wrote This Song To Thank You
Blimey! I returned to work after lunch to find an email about The Ballad Of Alan Moore song that I did in February... from Alan Moore's daughter!!
Apparently she saw it and played it down the telephone to him, and he LARFED. PHEW! I dread to think what would have happened otherwise - can one TYPE with webbed digits, if turned into a TOAD or something? - but thankfully he liked it and asked her to let me know. CORKS! Also, BLIMEY!
I'm all of a dither about it to be honest, how very very FANTASTIC!