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STAT ATAK: Where?
As promised, today we're taking a look at Where THE MAGIC has happened, both this year and beforehand. As i may possibly have briefly mentioned, I've done SEVENTY TWO GIGS this year, but where, I wonder, have they all been? Here's FACT!
Well, no real surprises there I guess - Edinburgh SHOOTS into second place by DINT of The Fringe, and over HALF of my gigs this year were in That London. But is that normal? Let's have a look at the SAME figures over the course of the past six years - that being the time I have been a) living in London and b) doing lots of gigs.
Well, there's a pretty RESOUNDING reply: NO, it's NOT normal! It does indeed look like the ongoing increase in GIGGAGE over the last couple of years has been mainly due to playing LONDON much more often (which is fair enough, I guess - the longer i live here the more mugs NICE PEOPLE who want to put me on I'll meet) with My Exciting Life In ROCK accounting for pretty much ALL of the increase from last year to this. A Mystery Solved!
And finally for today, it's all when and good talking about the cities I've played in, but where IN those cities did THE ROCK occur? Our PENULTIFACT is the TOP TWENTY-ISH Venue's I Have EVER played in:
University of Sheffield Students' Union
Bull & Gate
Fox & Firkin
Jug of Ale
Bloomsbury Bowling Lanes
The 12 Bar Club
The Durham Ox
Ray's Mum's Back Garden
Upstairs At The Garage
Lee Rosy's Tea Room
BBC Radio Cleveland
The Living Room
WHOO! GO UNIVERSITY OF SHEFFIELD! At last the REIGN of The Bull & Gate, which has been top for SO many years, is ENDED. While it's lovely to be reminded of places I used to play all the time, like The Jug Of Ale, Upstairs At The Garage and - blimey - The Factory in Leicester, it's also nice to see NEW places like The Lamb and Bloomsbury Bowling Alley NESTLING in there with some old favourites. There's a lot of GOOD TIMES in that list.
And for our FINAL FACT, it appears that I've played in 179 different venues over the years, and have only RETURNED to 65 of them. That means that, for nearly TWO THIRDS of the venues I've ever played in (63.687%, to be precise) I've NEVER GONE BACK! Clearly, they were ROCKED TOO HARD!
And that's the FACT for today and, indeed, this year. Have a lovely time tonight, whatever you're doing, and see you in 2009 for MORE SCIENCE!
STAT ATAK: When?
Welcome back, FACT FIENDS, for some cold hard MATH-based SCIENCE about where and when all these gigs have been happening.
Let's first of all take a look at what day of the week they occurred on. It's generally acknowledged that Saturday is the BEST day of the week to ROCK on, with Friday the second best as on those nights people are ready to PAR-TAY due to the lack of work next day. Sunday is thus the WORST as nobody wants to go out then, with Monday not far behind. THUS if we grade the days of the week from 0 (Sunday) to 6 and then perform an AVERAGE we should be able to chart the auspicious NESS of gigs during any particular year, as follows:
Oh dear! It rather appears that i PEAKED in 2004 playing, on average, early on a FRIDAY, and have since steadily declined to late on THURSDAY. How could this be?
Well, one pretty major factor is the sheer NUMBER of gigs I've been doing, as we can see by this handy NEXT graph, showing gigs played by year:
YOINKS! Here we can see that the apparent decline coincides fairly precisely with the sudden SURGE of GIGS. Up until 2004 I had hovered around the 20 gigs a year mark for... well, for the previous decade or so, but then suddenly LEAPT ahead to playing 47 gigs in 2005, 50 in 2006, 60 in 2007 and, this year, a whopping SEVENTY TWO. Quite apart from being REALLY A LOT OF GIGS, it also makes it much harder to score highly on average because there simply aren't enough SATURDAYS to go round!
SCIENCE! This year has also seen eight Totally Acoustic Nights, which are always on a Tuesday, and of course that week in Edinburgh which went on for... well, for a whole week, which would also explain the continuing drop in average day.
So I'm not terribly worried about this "decline" - INDEED it seems to be holding up a lot better than, say, THE ECONOMY, once you take into account the massive increase in ROCK ACTION and as we saw yesterday, even with so many more gigs I am still having SLIGHTLY MORE FUN! But where, I IMAGINE you are desperate to know, did all this GOOD TIMES occur this year? NEXT STAT TOMORROW!
Hello everyone, hope you're having a lovely Bit Between, my FAVOURITE of all the holidays. I'm just taking a break from the Traditional Tidy Up (this year's top ASPECT: realising that half the mess round here is all the stuff I decided to take to the charity shop LAST year, but never got around to) to commence the STATS.
STATS! I thought I'd kick off this year with some QUALITATIVE DATA. Several people have asked me where my favourite GIG has been this year, and I've found it difficult to answer as there've been SO very many and so many of them have been GRATE or at least GOOD. I _think_ this has been the most fun year for gigs, so let's take a look at THAT shall we?
AVERAGE GIG RATING*
* each gig rated by ME from 1 (tears) to 5 (cheers)
MAN OH MAN I've had some GOOD TIMES this year! My SECOND OVERALL FAVOURITE tho was the other week when Tom and I played the PopArt Christmas Party - the main gig itself was MASSIVE fun, but then the end bit singing "Wonderful Christmastime" and "Do The Know It's Christmas Time" made it AMAZING. GOOD TIMES!
And the TOP GIG of the year was, of course, the WEEK at the Edinburgh Fringe. Some of the gigs were under-populated and some of the BUSKING was a bit ridiculous, but all together the whole thing was FANTASTIC. The one where we did the live link to Steve Lamacq's show was a highlight, as was finally meeting Jim Gellatly, and getting good reviews and audiences was BRILL, but the best thing was just LOAFING ABOUT with The Hewitts and The Gigs In My Listings, getting up late, going to pubs, eating CURRY and generally having a GOOD TIME. I really really REALLY enjoyed the whole experience, and hopefully next time we'll be going for TWICE as long!
It's been a GRATE year all round for the LIVE ARENA, and coming next will be some HARD COLD FACTS about where and WHEN it all happened! It may even feature GRAPHS!
A Merry Christmas To All Our Readers
We had a FANTASTIC household Christmas last night, with ENORMOUS piles of grub and rather a lot of BOOZE. I do feel a little whoozy this morning tho, which is making packing rather a lengthy process. For LO! I am off to see my Mum this afternoon, so will be away from the interwebs for a while.
Before I go, however, here's a couple of slices of FESTIVE JOY from Those PopArt Boys, first of all Wonderful Christmas Time:
And, as also mentioned last week, quite possibly my favourite bit of GIG for the WHOLE year:
The Last The Last Working Day Of The Month Of The Year
I've just sent out the final (slightly Christmassy) NEWSLETTER of 2008. I did have vague ideas about making it a BUMPER ISSUE featuring a review of the year but a) the year's not over yet b) I really couldn't be bothered. The time for Reviewing The Year is NEXT week, when they've run out of GOOD TELLY, and as I'm HOME for the whole week this year (HOORAH!) I shall make an attempt on it then. There may even be GRAPHS!
In the meantime, thanks VERY much everybody who's read these MISSIVES over the course of the year, it really is EXTREMELY appreciated, and see you back here next year when, hopefully, there'll be all SORTS of excitement!
Have a lovely Christmas everyone - now, to THE PUB!
It was a very a) busy b) lovely weekend full of seeing pals, drinking the beer, and generally getting stuff ready for CHRISTMAS and BEYOND. Part of the latter has seen me listening through to the album penultimixes in order to complete The Spreadsheet Of FINALITY. This is the list of final jobs to be done for mixing, mastering and, MOST importantly, THE GAPS.
This is SUCH an important part of Making A Record that I'm continually astonished by the lack of attention it gets. SO many albums, especially in these days of iTunes And All That, seem to just stick the bog standard 2 seconds between each track, which in my view is both LAZY and IGNORANT. The length of time between tracks MATTERS - sometimes you want the next song to come STORMING IN straight away, sometimes you need a lengthy gap to let the previous song fade out of your MIND before starting again. I tell you, it's VITAL!
Listening through to the songs with this in mind also led me to a SHUDDERING REVELATION. We've pretty much got the running order sorted out, and I couldn't help noticing that the first half has a lot more "bits" in it than the second - "bits" being the OFFICIAL TECHNICAL TERM for samples, overdubs, weird noises and, well, BITS that we've put onto the basic songs to make it all THAT LITTLE BIT more exciting. While thinking about this I had the aforesaid SHUDDERING REVELATION, as follows:
I've already asked for a SEGUE from My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once into It Only Works Because You're Here, using a lot MORE of the telephone you can here on the single version. The idea is that we go from me working in an office directly into a song ABOUT something that happens in that same office, ending with the main site IT Guy running off "in a flood of tears". When I play this song live people often look SAD at this bit, and I've often considered writing a song to explain to them what happens to him next, and so on Sunday i WROTE it. It's just a TINY little bit which i thought we could stick onto the end, and as i considerd this the SHUDDERING REVELATION of which we have spoken occurred.
The next song is One Of The Walls Of My House Fell in which is about - OH MY WORD - someone being really depressed because they've been CHUCKED! HOLY MOLEY! IT'S A SONG SUITE!! I will thus requesting from Producer Pattison a PROPER FULL ON SEGUE between THESE two songs as well, then possibly having "IT Guy: Addendum" at the end of One Of The Walls Of My House Fell in, just to finish OFF the story! It's like JEFF WAYNE'S WAR OF THE WORLDS! SORT OF!
As you can probably tell I am quite pleased with this idea because, as well as being SIMPLY GRATE, it also makes "Side Two" into a THING all of its own, thus negating the need for more "bits". Some people might say it's makes the album the equivalent of "Abbey Road" ONLY BETTER but I, of course, could not be drawn to make such comments. Not without the addition of PINTS, anyway.
The Final Gig Of The Year
Like, it seems, about 60% of the UK Population at the moment I was suffering with a rotten COLD yesterday - saw throats, GROGGY, headaches and all that, it was RUBBISH. Luckily I was Working From Home so was able to take full advantage of an article in one of the free papers last week which said that SCIENTISTS had used SCIENCE to PROVE that the only really good way to cure a cold is HOT CORDIAL! ZANG! Apparently Lemsip works because it is a) full of paracetomol (or is it ibuprofen? Anyway, THAT) but to a similar if not greater extent b) basically HOT CORDIAL. The advice - using SCIENCE - was to have LEMSIP and then just keep on drinking as much HOT CORDIAL as you could possibly get down you for the next 4-6 hours until you could have your next Lemsip.
So that's what I did, and though I was still feeling a bit rough when I set out I certainly feel a WHOLE LOT better today. My setting off NEARLY overlapped with other household members coming home. We've all been worried about one of our cats, Charlie, who is coming down with a multitude of Old Lady Diseases at the moment (she's in her mid-80's in Cat Years, according to The Interweb) and was being picked up from the VETS even as I left, and I was EXTREMELY relieved later on to hear she was home safe, minus several TEETH. I almost overlapped with The Whiskers On My Kitten too, but not quite, and we ended up WAVING at each other as she came round the corner and I got on my train to DISTANT BRIXTON, where I was due to ROCK.
Still feeling a bit poorly I nearly dropped off at several points on the journey. Actually, thinking about it, I probably did - the train can't REALLY have been full of cats, can it? I listened to the full set of PENULTIMIXES of the new album on the way - it sounds GRATE - and then found myself having a KNACKERING walk up the big hill in Brixton to The Windmill, where I was due to play.
I felt CRAPPY I must say, and when I did my soundcheck the SWEAT poured off me. I was a bit worried about how it'd go, so went and sat quietly at the back of the room watching The Football for a bit until it was time to go on and do THIS:
It all went fine - like last time, it was another case of PUSHING THROUGH the first few songs as people came in and chatted to each other. One of the nice things about The Windmill is that you can go and hide around the corner if you're not that bothered about watching the band intently, but can still see and hear wherever you are - nice if you're in the audience, but always a bit worrying from the stage, as it looks like nobody's watching. Also the fact that people were arriving meant there was quite a bit of chat as they met up with their pals which, CLEARLY, is absolutely right and proper, but again is a bit off-putting when you're playing. "Keep going!" I thought to myself, "And especially don't get annoyed and say anything arsey!"
I took my own advice and, I think, got a sizeable chunk of people onside for a very enjoyable final bunch of songs, especially singing The Lesson Of The Smiths full of the knowledge that this was the END of my LAST gig of the year. As ever The Healing Power Of ROCK had worked its magic and I felt MUCH MUCH BETTER at the end. The Healing Power Of ROCK never fails to do this - I guess maybe it is something to do with ADRENALINE pumping through, also possible SWEAT but hopefully it is all ROCK and BEER that does it.
Anyway, somewhat revived I shared a pint of BEER (The Windmill now has PROPER BEER on tap - HOORAH!) with Mr S Gibb, co-promoter and All Round Good Guy, where we ended up having a VERY grown-up conversation about CAREERS and things like that. ADULT CONTENT! My revival soon began to ebb, however, and just after half past nine I said my farewells and began the long journey East.
The funny thing was, knackered and poorly as I was, overriding all of it was a feeling of ELATION that I am now off the road for a MONTH. I know that, as The Band In My Gig always points out, I will probably be BOUNCING off the WALLS in a few days DESPERATE for a chance to show off do a gig, but for now it feels like I'm on SHORE LEAVE or something. Seventy two gigs in one year is a LOT of gigs, and I think I've done more THOROUGHLY GOOD FUN gigs this year (as a number AND as a percentage, I think) than any other, but for now I'm glad to have finished and am VERY READY INDEED for the opportunity to sit around watching telly for a bit.
If only there was a FESTIVAL of TELLY, BEER and NOT GOING TO WORK on the horizon eh? YOINKS!
Tim, Rob and Tom were back in the studio AGANE last night, to continue the final batch of overdubs and bits of mixing on the album. I awoke this morning to find an email from Producer Pattison saying they'd FINISHED - the album is now fully PENULTIMIXED!
For those not AU FAIX with STUDIO LINGO (especially studio lingo that we have made up ourselves) this means that, as far as we know, all the songs are now completely finished AND mixed. They're called PENULTIMIXES, rather than just MIXES, however because there now follows a period of several weeks when we shall LISTEN to them before reconvening for one FINAL session during which any errors can be corrected, additions can be added and improvements can be ... er.. MADE. The current plan is to do this sometime in January and then, if time allows, MASTER the whole thing (including SEGUES! Yes, there will be SEGUES - HOOPLA!) and then go out to celebrate in the traditional Validators Manner, with CURRY.
If THAT all happens on time it'll mean sending it all off for manufacturing at the start of February, which in turn will mean a release date in April and, hopefully, TOURING later that month or in early May, depending on commitments to ROCK, ROLL and, more importanly, SCHOOL HOLIDAYS and BABYSITTING.
It's all rather exciting though isn't it? The next job is for me to get the BOOKLET sorted out (there's going to be a BOOKLET - ZANG!) which'll hopefully get done over Christmas, and then we're into the long SLOG of manufacturing, posting copies out, arranging gigs and all that. It's going to be worth it tho, it sounds BLOODY GRATE!
The PopArt Christmas Party
I work just round the corner from The Fly on New Oxford Street and so have walked passed it on MANY lunchtime trips to the post office, always looking ASKANCE at it. It has always seemed to me to be the epitome of NME Indie i.e. all haircuts, font-styles, trousers and shouting in order to hide a MASSIVE GREED that seeks to FLEECE you of every penny you have.
I'm not saying I was completely WRONG - like all such venues the beer was pricey and NASTY - but it was actually a whole lot nicer than I expected. The venue was a PROPER size, the sound was GRATE, the floor was at precisely the right level of tactility (i.e. neither ocmpletely adhesive NOR stinking of BLEACH, which are usually the only two options) and the staff were dead nice.
My new good opinion of it may have been SWAYED by a few external factors, mind you. For starters the LOCATION. Being so near my work means it only took me 40 minutes to get there from my HOUSE and, once Mr T "The Tiger" McClure had arrived it also meant I knew EXACTLY where to go to find a nice pub less than 120 seconds away. We then received word that The Locations On My Map had just arrived at Liverpool Street, so we strolled around the corner to a DELIGHTFUL LITTLE RESTAURANT where the three of us had our TEA before walking across the road back to the venue. It was BRILLIANT - why can't ALL venues be this handy?
On top of all that was the DUAL FESTIVE ATAK of the FACT that it was a) PopArt and b) their CHRISTMAS Party. Those PopArt boys, they ALWAYS put on a good show and this time was no exception - there was tinsel, there were Christmassy game shows, there was even a NODDY HOLDER HAT, it was all BRILL. It was thus in somewhat raised spirits that I took to the stage and did THIS:
I had a FANTASTIC time. The first few songs were a bit dodgy - The Fly is STILL an NME Venue enough to be acoustically designed to ensure that ALL chat, however quiet it be, is AMPLIFIED and transmitted DIRECT to the stage, but I thought to myself "Hibbett, this is your SEVENTIETH gig of the year, you should know by now that if you hold yr NERVE and carry on with the set as planned, all will be WELL." My thoughts were CORRECT, with things being helped SIZEABLY with Tom's entry to the fray at the end of Payday Is The Best Day. He did his "trademark" TIGER'S GROWL, which makes ANY gig go well, and by the time we got to the shouty bit of Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid it felt like everyone was ON SIDE.
My happiness with this turn of events was, apparently, quite clear as I then WENT ON for quite a bit on VARIOUS topics in, I am told, a "ever more camp" fashion. Me? Camp? Ooh, never! All the excitement went on for longer than expected/DARED TO DREAM as when i gave everyone the choice between The Lesson Of The Smiths and Boom Shake The Room to finish with they said BOTH. So that's what we did. I LEAPT off stage afterwards, only to be dragged back to receive a PRIZE - turns out I'd WON the "The State That I Am In" GAMESHOW at their LAST all-dayer, and was awarded a none-more-twee Hello Kitty Sweet Dispenser. HOOPLA!
It was thus a very happy Hibbett who had some more BEER and watched some of Scarlet Soho, the next band on. They were very good INDEED at what they were doing, but what they were doing was a bit too EIGHTIES for me i.e. VERY EIGHTIES INDEED. We agreed that, having LIVED through the eighties and known how GHASTLY they were we were allowed to leave and not have to re-experience its RIGOURS. As we left I joked that some people in the audience hadn't even been BORN in the eighties... then with a sudden SHOCK realised that, actually, MOST of them hadn't. EEK!
None of this, by the way, is to say they weren't any good - they were DEAD good and also, I discoverd later when SINGING with their lead singer, ALL ROUND GOOD EGGS, but that synth sound and that drum machine make me think only of NUCLEAR WAR.
So we went and sat around upstairs for a bit and discussed LIBERTARIANISM and RELIGIOUS DEVELOPMENT, much as I did in the ACTUAL eighties in Student Pubs, before returning for the FINAL section, The PopArt Allstars!
Regular Attendees at this FONT OF ROCK while know I have a slightly chequered history with The PopArt Allstars, having DISGRACED myself when I did "Country House" with them at the Britpop Alldayer and then spent three weeks PANICKING about doing "Le Pastie De La Bourgeoisie" at the Belle & Sebastian one. You'd think this'd make me practice EXTRA HARD for my spot at this one, but you would be wrong - instead i had a CHEAT SHEET written out. My NERVES arrived early when they kicked off with a STORMING version of "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" with Leicester's Funnyman Dave Rees, but abated slightly when everyone else came on with similar CHEAT SHEETS. Phew!
Suddenly it was ME, doing Mr P McCartney's "Wonderful Christmastime". When I got on the stage I turned to the band and said - JOKINGLY - "Just follow me guys!" It was a JOKE, but they all nodded EARNESTLY and, i think, GRATEFULLY, as rehearsals for this song had been DIFFICULT. It's a RIGHT rum old song - listening to the Proper Version I'm ASTOUNDED by how MENTAL the synth sounds are. It sounds, as Dom PopArt said, like Macca dropped a bag of kittens on the keyboards and called it a song, and certainly the WORDS bear that assumption out. THUS I realised that, as nobody else seemed that sure of how a faithful cover version should go then I needn't worry and could do however many choruses I liked without worrying.
So that's what we did, and it was MEGA. My favourite bit was saying, towards the end, "Let's take it DOWN" and everybody SO DOING! HOORAH! The Christmas Spirt was clearly in me at this point as I embarked upon a lengthy BIT saying "Macca can't hear you! Linda can't hear you! Heather can't hear you!" and so on and so forth until we ended at a completely unexpected PROPER ENDING.
OH but I had a FANTASTIC TIME, I LEAPT 30 feet from the stage to the back of the room with a MASSIVE grin, and was back again three songs later (including Mr Solo's AMAZING version of "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day" - that man can SING) for THE GRAND FINALE: "DO THEY KNOW IT'S CHRISTMAS"! And GUESS which bit I was doing - CLUE: THE BEST BIT OF THE WHOLE SONG!
So, everyone who'd sung came back on stage, clutching the words and off we went. I stood there GRINNING like a LOON, knowing what was coming, checking the words every SECOND to see if it was my turn, and when I was i GRABBED the microphone and sang:
"SO TONIGHT THANK GOD IT'S THEM, INSTEEAAAAAD OF YOOOOUUUU!!!!"
To say I MILKED IT would be something of an understatement, but MY GOD I enjoyed doing so, and completely forgot to do any of my proper bits for the entire rest of the song, just standing in line with everyone else singing along off microphone, SMILING. For the end bit I leant in and, BIZARRELY, ended up doing the "Feed The World" bit with Mr Solo while everyone else did "Let them know it's Christmas time." HIGH ON ROCK I thought it would be AMUSING to stick my finger in my ear, like on the video, and was first ALARMED to see Mr Solo SMILING and doing the same thing, and then realise everyone else was too. ZOINKS!
We finished with everyone in the room waving at each other and then CHEERING, it was BRILLIANT. I spent the whole rest of the evening GRINNING, so much so that when I'd said goodbye to Tom and was walking to the tube my FACE ACTUALLY HURT with all the smiling. Who'd've thought GIG 70 would end up being one of the best one's EVER eh?
Even though I had the day off work I left the house EARLY yesterday, as I was heading for THE NORTH, there to ROCK. I bumped into Mr N Golding on the platform at Leytonstone High Road and was then SWEPT away to Kings Cross, where I hopped onto my train and was AWAY!
I was in the first class carriage again, which was GRATE if possibly DAFT. I was booked to play this gig - an afternoon spot as part of the local council's 12 Days Of Christmas celebrations - after playing locally with Mr Bob Fischer a couple of months ago. When they asked how much MONEY I wanted I looked up the train fare and asked for THAT... then, once that was agreed, foolishly thought "though it's not MUCH more to go first class..." and, basically, ended up PAYING five quid NET to do the gig!
Still it was all very nice, especially the bit when I changed to go from York to Thornaby and had the ENTIRE first class compartment to myself. I then had to wait 20 minutes on a FREEZING platform (it really is BLOODY COLD up North at the moment!) to go five minutes to Stockton itself, using a Northern Rail train. I've used trains by MOST rail companies and I have to say Northern Rail ones are by FAR the GROTTIEST. They're just horrible - it's always dark, filthy, and half of the seats are BROKEN.
I was the only person ALIGHTING at Stockton and had quite a long walk into town, which, to be tactful, had clearly seen BETTER TIMES. LOADS of shops were boarded up and about half the ones that weren't were boarded up, and there were a lot of people who did not look very well at all. I spent quite a long time wandering around until I eventually found Green Dragon Yard hidden down an alleyway. I went down and found a stage in a courtyard, where one lady singer was singing to the four security guards on hand, whilst being ignored by two ladies sat at a table in front of her who were chatting and, when somebody walked into the yard on their way somewhere else, SCREAMING at passers by.
I said hello to the organisers, who were all very lovely, had a coffee, watched the rest of the set, and then nipped into the pub for a pint, where I got into conversation with some locals. This all seemed very pleasant until I returned from the loo to find one of them had just come back from DRAGGING someone at a different table to the ground and THUMPING them. His victim looked in his 20s, but the ASSAILANT himself was at least 60, with a big SANTA BEARD, and everyone just carried on afterwards as if nothing had happened. I looked on AGOG!
Mr Craig Steward had just arrived at this point - he'd planned to use the GIG as the start to his traditional Christmas day of all-day drinking, but had apparently got the date wrong so his pals couldn't make it. I was GLAD of his mistake, however, as it meant I wasn't sat on my own but ALSO meant i had an audience. I went out to play and did the ENTIRE GIG to HIM, as follows:
Well, to be fair there were SOME other people around - the security guards were still there (and to give them their credit, there may have been fighting in the pub, but NONE in the courtyard!) some smokers from the pub glanced at me for a bit, and two members of the next band watched my last couple of songs (and were thus FORCED to do the OI HIBBETT bit in Easily
Impressed), but basically the whole thing was done for an audience of ONE. I was tempted to ask Craig to go inside for a song, just so I could play to ACTUAL NOBODY and see if i could answer any philosophical questions about If There Is No Audience Is There Still A Gig, but it was VERY cold so thought I'd best just get on with it.
It was all rather enjoyable tho, in an odd way, and once it was all done I finished my drink, said my farewells, and we SCOOTED round the corner to a pub where, apparently, there were not likely to be any more FITES. I was quite pleased to find it was a pub that, earlier, I'd looked at and thought "That looks like a good pub". I was RIGHT, tho BLIMEY: the HEAD on my pint of BASS looked like an explosion in a SOAP SUD FACTORY, it was AMAZING!
Some chat, crisps and BEER later we walked over the Millenium Bridge (which LOOKED so much like a Millenium Bridge I had KNOWN it would be before we saw the plaque) to another pub which turned out to be 10 minutes away and DIRECTLY opposite Thornaby Station, thus cutting about half an hour from my journey! GRATE! Mr Steward then escorted me to said station and I was soon heading South.
I must say i had a LOVELY day - I know some would suggest that is a bit daft to spend NINE HOURS travelling to the other end of the country and back to play to one person, but it's the DAFTNESS of it I really like, especially when the person concerned is someone you can then go on to have a DELIGHFTUL afternoon in the pub with, and especially ALSO when you can have a proper cup of tea on the way home. Worth it? DEFINITELY!
Ooh, we had a LOVELY day out yesterday with The Parents, doing the first half of a Dickens' London walk I got off the interweb. Most of it involved us tramping around Lincoln's Inn Field, which I have never really been aware of before, but which was AMAZING. Old stuff! HistoricalNESS! We went into the John Soanes Museum along the way, which was INCREDIBLE, it's a totally BONKERS house owned by John Soanes The Architect which has been preserved as it was when he left it To The Nation... and the way it was THEN was NUTS. It's PACKED with lumps of Ancient Greece, Paintings and a SARCOPHAGUS. The BEST bit was The Painting Room which was a tiny little place with loads of folding doors so it could contain hundreds of paintings, including a TURNER and Hogarth's The Rakes Progress. MENTAL.
Halfway along we stopped for a PINT and discovered that The Ship (the one behind Holborn Station) was just around the corner - I've drunk in there a MILLION times, and never ever realised it was 30 seconds away from an Inn Of Court, or indeed what that meant. We went on to have a look round Temple (COOL) but once we actually GOT to the Temple decided enough was enough and went for an Historical Pint in the Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese (DERANGED), seeing Dr Johnson's House and the statue of his CAT by accident on the way.
IN the Cheshire Cheese I took a phone call from Mr Bob Fischer of BBC Radio Tees, asking if I fancied doing a radio interview for his show, to talk about my visit to Stockton-on-Tees today (Georgian Courtyard, 3.15pm if anybody fancies it) but I had to DECLINE because I had a funny feeling I might be too tiddly to talk straight by then. I was CORRECT!
So yes, London=GRATE, and now HO! for the trains, and THE NORTH EAST!
We had a LOVELY time at Totally Acoustic last night, it was a) GRATE b) CHRISTMASSY. I got there early to meet with my FOLKS who are up for a couple of days (and who we are today taking on A Walk Around Dicken's London in... er... about an hour) and also The Star On My Tree, The Hewitts and then such a HOST of REGULARS that we had to decamp to the upstairs bar early. A STREAM of lovely peoples came in full of festive merriment (it was probably the tinsel they'd put up in the Lamb that did it) and after some CHIPS we were ready for kick-off.
First up was 10 Foot John, who was slightly NERVOUS as a) he'd not done huge amounts of solo stuff b) certainly hadn't done it Totally Acoustically and c) seemed to be worried about why on earth I'd asked him. The answer to this one very quickly became CLEAR as he DELIGHTED one and all with descriptions of what ELSE was meant to be happening in each song, what each one was about, and especially highlighting particularly good bits by going "Listen to THIS!" He was GRATE!
As indeed was Jenny Lockyer who came on next and did her "silly songs" that made the entire room GRIN like loonies. She's GRATE is Jenny, she's an RIVETTING stage presence with these funny/touching/lovely songs that she somehow manages to get the ENTIRE room to join in with. The best bit was when she made everyone do noises like a GENTLE BREEZE, it was MESMERISING. I was so pleased that they were both DEAD GOOD - part of the appeal of doing Totally Acoustic for me is that i can get people I think are BRILLO and show them to my pals, so it's always a relief when they are Fully Appreciated.
We then had a short break during which I distributed MINCE PIES - an email conversation with Mr P Knight earlier on had led me to Holborn Sainsbury's to get a PILE of them, and it had had the same effect on Pete, so we had a LOT of them to give out. It was SUPER CHRISTMASSY!
By HECK but that was a lot of fun! There was some SHAKINESS near the start when I forgot the words to Nobody Believed It but luckily had them in my POCKET - i don't think anybody noticed me getting them out and continually stopping to PEER at them, i did it WELL SUBTLEY. There was LOTS of singing along, especially in It Only Works Because You're Here and Boom Shake The Room, and a MASSIVE pile of CHATTING. I fear the Introduction To Marvel's Superhero Mythology: The Inhumans INTRO I do to Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid may one day become SO LONG it reaches into the next day, and I also worry that I get into the habit of saying the same things sometimes, which has led to Mr S Hewitt joining in with my INTRODUCTION to "Boom Shake The Room", word for word. He couldn't help himself, he just joined in!
My favourite bit, i think, was introducing The Lesson Of The Smiths with a REVIEW of the new Take That album (precis: it's dead good) and then speaking of my great love for The That. My Dad said VERY loudly "NOthing to do with me!"
Gig done we then relaxed into the traditional CHAT section of the evening, before wandering off down to the tube station. Totally Acoustic is ALWAYS a lovely night out, but this one was especially so - it must be Christmas!
The Advent Calendar Of FACT
It's release day for our new single, The Advent Calendar Of FACT which should, in theory, be available to download at most Reputable Sites NOW. In the meantime, here's the video:
Hope you like it and, as ever, if there's any possibility of anybody LINKING to it I would be extremely grateful - the more people who get to see it, the more CHRISTMASSY it will be!
The Royal Festival Hall
It was a mighty step UP in the world of The Music Business on Sunday afternoon, as we went off on a household outing to a gig at The Royal Festival Hall. Unsurprisingly it wasn't ME who was playing, rather The Melodies In My Song, who was singing as part of The Bishopsgate Singers. They're an open CHOIR which we both joined a couple of months ago but which I DROPPED OUT of after a fortnight - the combination of TWO things which I absolutely dread AND am dreadful at (having to be sociable, on my own, with people I don't know AND singing in tune) was all a bit scary for me, but The Note On My Scale LOVES it, and has been singing the various songs around the house for weeks.
THUS I knew all the words, but had a WHALE of a time. There's something very powerful about a hundred people all singing together, and it's not just the MASSIVE VOLUME that it causes. It was four part harmony throughout and pretty amazing to think that someone had sat down and worked it all out - the arranger/conductor lady was a pretty DYNAMIC FORCE, practically DANCING throughout the whole performance, geeeing people along and keeping the whole thing together. Suddenly being in a band felt PEASY!
It was GRATE anyway, and I even managed to politely NOT tell everyone else in the choir that, though they were good, The Tempo Of My Beat was BEST. Although she, clearly, was. We celebrated with CAKE, COFFEE and BEER - It's CHRISTMAS!!
The Wilmington Arms
After a Saturday spent revamping and updating the website it was rather nice to get out of the front door in the evening and off to FARRINGDON, for the Damnably Presents gig at The Wilmington Arms. I STRODE manfully into the bar to find the landlord gesticulating wildly at me, eventually having to say "You need to go outside and go in the door to the side" as I didn't know what he meant. As I went out again one of the security guards on the door said to the other "Yeah, I know Santa Claus doesn't exist NOW, but..." What?!?
Once inside I discovered Lazarus Clamp just starting to soundcheck the drums so said hello and FLED - I have heard enough drum soundchecks to be fairly sure I won't miss anything - and went back into the pub, to see if I could see any CELEBRITIES. It's owned by the same people who own The Hawley Arms, apparently, and every website that mentions the pub goes ON about how you can expect to see The Famous Crowd in there. I didn't spot any, though I DID spot Ruddles County on the pumps, BEER of my younger days and, I am happy to report, still very nice indeed.
Back inside I suggested George, promoter and also, as Former Utopia, first act on, do a soundcheck and then I'd use his settings. This turned out GOOD as he had another guitarist, vocalist AND violin player with him so needed some TIME and while this all went on I volunteered to do the door... I thought I might as well volunteer as, as experience has shown, I very often seem to end up doing it, and spent a happy hour or so GREETING incomers.
I had a quick chat to THE TIGER, who was there in his Lazarus Clamp Capacity and just after he left with them for CHIPS some PALS arrived, which was all rather delightful. Former Utopia did their set and then all of a sudden it was my turn, to go up and do THIS:
I'd been EXTREMELY ANXIOUS beforehand, and much of this carried on throughout the set which meant it was quite FAST and SHOUTY, but seemed to go over OK - people didn't spontaneously join in with Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid but DID do the correct bits for Easily Impressed, and afterwards a number of people said they liked it including, BIZARRELY, some nice Italian people who all said "I really like your accent". Nobody has EVER said that to me before! Also, for some reason I switched Easily Impressed and The Lesson Of The Smiths around, as Easily Impressed is usually my last song, and thus CONFUSED myself slightly, so that I introduced it by saying "Thanks very much, I'm MJ Hibbett..." and then realised it WASN'T my last song. This was my 66th gig of the year, HABITS have been formed!
After I'd got myself packed away we watched Lazarus Clamp, who were GRATE - they were especially enhanced this time by twinkly lights on the back of the stage, which made it all seem strangely CHRISTMASSY. They were also enhanced a LOT by the sound, which was brilliant - they have a Lady Soundman at The Wilmington Arms, is it me or do Lady Soundmen always tend to make it LESS loud but MORE audible? It sounded GRATE, although I do still think THE TIGER should introduce a LOUD FEEDBACK section into their final song, rather than leaving the stage when they play it.
I then NIPPED to the pub section with aforesaid PALS for a lengthy discussion concerning BANDS and stuff, before returning for Calvin Party who i have somehow managed to know of for YEARS but never see, but who were dead good and SEEMED to finish with an Old Skool Hip Hop MEDLEY... though that may have been the Ruddles County. There were then HUGS, CHAT, and a quick hop back to the TUBE and home. I got home late, tired, but very happy - what a lovely night out!
and CONFUSED myself, as th
posted by MJ Hibbett, 7.12.08 (click here for permanent link)
I Got You What You Want For Christmas
It's starting to look a little bit Christmassy round here isn't it? I've just spent a happy hour or so doing some updating to the website, ready for the release of The Advent Calendar Of FACT on Monday, including the rejig to the main site and some further updates to the Releases pages. I particularly enjoyed Googling Be True To Your School and finding all SORTS of nice reviews!
And in the continuing festive spirit, it's my turn to appear on the Maps Magazine Advent Calendar today. Go and click on number 6 and you'll find a BRAND NEW Christmas Song, "I Got You What You Want For Christmas", for FREE! It's Christmassy to the MAX!
I was off to SURREY last night, to play at Ms J Lockyer's new monthly residency "Jenny's Time Of The Month". I arrived to find a young lady near the station loudly complaining that people were looking DOWN at her. To be fair she was squatting on the floor drinking own brand vodka in the entrance to the co-op, but we mustn't judge. It turned out that the local under-age drinking club was just round the corner, heralded as ever by the heady cocktail of cheap perfume, extremely cheap after-shave, and SHRIEKING.
It was thus something of a relief to get into Native Tongue, the venue for the gig, which was a VERY nice little cafe/BAR with an impressively proper STAGE taking up about a third of the room. The best bit was that they had a row of GUITAR RACKS along the wall, so you could hang your AXE up after soundcheck, ready to be picked up again at showtime.
Whilst waiting I read a music newspaper, Stool Pigeon. Now, I may be terribly behind the times and that but I'd never heard of this before, and was astonished to find it GRATE. All right, I picked it up for the Paul McCartney interview, but the rest of it was FANTASTIC - LOADS of interesting bands written about InterestingLY with editorial bits that were ACTUALLY FUNNY and all done in the way that seemed to have some vague RESPECT for their readers. I stopped reading the NME MANY years when I realised that even then I was three times their target age (which going by the BRIGHTLY COLOURED SHIT it is filled with now is about TEN) and was a) excited b) amazed c) RELIEVED to find that there is something GOOD out there again in the world of Music Newspapers. HOORAH!
I TORE myself away from reading it when the evening kicked off with Jenny performing a THEME TUNE. I am, as you may be aware, entirely supportive of THEME TUNES and this one was GRATE - it not only explained the purpose of the evening AND the running order but managed to briefly describe each of the acts too. I was MOST impressed.
Things started properly with a chap billed as "The Singing Christmas Tree". Apparently he'd forgotten his costume, but he certainly LOOKED like a singing Christmas Tree to me as he did a medley of Christmas songs - I think he'd meant it to be a bit ARCH and CABARET, but he had too NICE a singing voice and did it too WELL so, by the end, we were all just singing along and feeling DEAD CHRISTMASSY. HOOPLA!
Next was a chap called Sleepy Ed Hicks, who did funny songs and played a MEAN banjo, he was sort of like Jonathan Richman a BIT doing comedy songs. It was all very lovely and he got the crowd singing along, which was GRATE but did rather mean I felt like THOM YORKE when I went on and did THIS:
It all seemed to go over fine, despite the fact that, AFEARED by the comedy before, I tried to tell some jokes. To be fair to ME I did TRAIL these jokes by saying they were Rubbish "Dad Jokes" (e.g. I joined a Ceilidh band once - all the played were Marillion songs. Kayleigh? Do you see? I told you it was rubbish) but after the ACTUAL funny beforehand it didn't seem to work. Still, we did all have a singalong at the end!
As soon as I finished the room CLEARED - within SECONDS everybody had GONE! I was a bit surprised - I knew that I had to dash off pretty quickly to get the train back to London, but surely everybody else lived locally, and would be sticking around? It was theorised that this was just a wholesale FAG BREAK - I hope so, there were two other acts to go!
There was no time to find out, however, as I had to say my goodbyes quickly then DASH off to the train station to get home. As it was I didn't get home until 1.30AM - Surrey, it is DISTANT from my house!
The new Christmas edition of Maps magazine is online now, and not ONLY does it feature a rather SPLENDID Advent Calendar (which, at some point I think, is going to have a BRAND NEW Christmas Song from... er... ME!) but also the next edition of my EXCITING column, The Latest Review, this time giving a rather late, yet FEARLESSLY HONEST, review of the time I went to see David Essex seven years ago. HENCE THE NAME. I ought to get on and write the next one really - Half Man Half Biscuit, 1997? Or John Otway, 1993?
Working From Home: The Lunch Hour
I'm working from home again, which is ESPECIALLY brilliant today because it means I don't have to go outside into the FREEZING COLD. Ugh! This weather, is HORRID.
It also means I can sit and listen to music VERY VERY LOUDLY INDEED, and having received the latest mixes from Producer Pattison that is EXACTLY what I've been doing. COR! This new album of ours, it is sounding GRATE! Especially if played at XTREME VOLUME - I've also got a new/final mix of our cover of "House Of Fun", which sounds SUPER-FAB. Loud music, i reckon it could catch on!
Meanwhile in The World Of Media I find that, as expected, they didn't use my REMARKS in the broadcast version of Danny Robin's Music Therapy, which is fair enough as they weren't hugely hilarious! What HAS been used, however, is my MOUSTACHE in a Movember feature in The Guardian! ZANG!
I should say, however, that the picture is incorrectly creditted, as it was taken by The Lens In My Camera. The wardrobe choice, however, was all my own.
November is over, which means MOVEMBER is over and thus I have SHAVED my moustache off.
And BLIMEY, was it ever a relief - throughout the month I've occasionally considered KEEPING it as i was quite impressed that i managed to grow it PROPERLY. As you can see from the photographs it did look like a PROPER moustache by the end. Unfortunately it looked like a PROPER moustache on super mario, and FELT like having an annoying hair sticking in your mouth TIMES A HUNDRED. It also made me feel some sympathy for LADIES who complain that people only ever talk to their CLEAVAGE - many was the time I thought "I am not just a COMEDY MOUSTACHE, DAMMIT!"
Hence, despite protestations from several quarters, it was REMOVED at the end of the month and now I am looking in the mirror thinking "YOINKS! It's ME again! HELLO!". Thankfully quite a few people SPONSORED ME so my Month Of Looking Daft did at least raise some CA$H for Marie Curie - thanks LOADS to everyone who did so, it was very much appreciated, and if anybody else would like to join them, the sponsorship page is still very much open for business!
Live At The BBC
Myself and The Waves Of My Frequency had a DAY OUT in That London on Saturday. When you actually live here it's quite easy to just think of it as a place full of noisy neighbours and people taking up two seats on the tube, so it is GRATE to get out and take advantage of all the MEGA BRILLO stuff that is contained here.
MEGA BRILLO was far from my mind when we arrived and spent a GHASTLY five minutes struggling along Oxford Street - WHITHER Credit Crunch? - but were soon in Manchester Square to have a look at The Wallace Collection. I do like a good gallery or museum, especially now I am a Man Of The World who knows how to do them properly: as I will say when I eventually get round to writing the song "Museums Of One Thing", the very BEST kinds of museum/gallery are those that concern themselves with ONE thing. Examples include The Singapore Philately Museum and the Boudin Bakery and Cable Car museums in San Francisco. Yes, I know there are less FLASHY ones I could have mentioned, but as I've BEEN to these museums I thought I might as well get some GROOVY CRED out of the fact.
Anyway, as I say, Museums Of One Thing are BEST because they always ALSO give you a history of the local area DEFINED by their One Thing, have FANTASTIC shops full of One Thing-related products and are generally EXTREMELY QUICK to get through. Knowledge of this can then be used to make visits to OTHER multi-subject museums MUCH more bearable. For instance, rather than spend HOURS slogging round the British Museum being BORED SENSELESS by a parade of items which, while fascinating on their own, all blend into one after a while, it is MUCH better to treat it as, for instance, The Rosetta Stone Museum and just ignore everything else as you DASH through to MARVEL at your chosen MARVEL.
THUS I DRAGGED us as fast as I could through The Wallace Collection in order to get to The Laughing Cavalier. Our speed was impeded by the fact that The Paint On My Canvas kept seeing INTERESTING THINGS, and also by me doing a Classic Double Take as we passed a REMBRANDT self-portrait and i went "What the?!?! I know that face!" When we got there tho it was WELL worth the trip, The Laughing Cavalier is GRATE!
One stroll through rooms full of REAL LIVE SUITS OF ARMOUR we were OUTTA THERE and off to our second port of call, THE BBC. We've recently been applying for tickets for Radio Shows, and this time had got tickets to go and see Danny Robbins Music Therapy being recorded. We actually saw two shows, one after the other, which took quite a while as they did loads of re-takes (i.e. re-recording lines that didn't go properly the first time). It was quite good - Isy Suttie, the co-presenter, was really good and in the second show they had a rapper called Doc Brown who was VERY funny indeed - though the actual script seemed a bit hit and miss. I guess they will SHAVE chunks of it off when it goes out on the air.
One bit that may well not make it featured ME. Beforehand we were given questionnaires to fill in, asking what our phobias were. The Ink In My Pen thought long and hard over hers, while I wrote down the first thing that came into my BRANE as my FEAR, which was "Timmy Mallet getting the Dr Who job". INEVITABLY it was mine that got read out, and ALSO INEVITABLY I didn't really have anything funny to say about it, and as nobody else did either I think it probably won't go out. Still, i can now say I have recorded for the BBC in The BBC Radio Theatre - me and RADIOHEAD!