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BlogStick To The Agenda
Another week, another video, as we move INEXORABLY towards the end of the month when I shall be unleashing "The Unearthly Beauty Of MJ Hibbett: THE MOVIE" upon the world!
There'll be more exciting information about that nearer the time, but for today let us focus our fascination on this latest video what I have done, this time for Stick To The Agenda:
Like MANY of the songs from The Unearthly Beauty Of MJ Hibbett, this is very much based upon my WORKING LIFE and something I have had to SILENTLY RAIL AGAINST for about THIRTY YEARS (i.e. since I was two years old). It is ALWAYS the people who complain about how busy they are in MEETINGS that cause those very same meetings to be ten times as long as they NEED to be by waffling on endlessly throughout them. These specific people are not, however, solely to blame for the issue - if other people (who have the power to do so - so not me!) pulled them up on it and ENFORCED the agenda it wouldn't happen, but everyone is either a) scared b) too polite or c) waiting for THEIR turn for a monologue.
THUS I hope this song will become an instructive part of modern management training, helping people to run more PRODUCTIVE meetings and enabling The Hard Working British Worker to get out of meetings earlier so they can go and play outside... I mean, increase productivity at their workstations. Really, I should be getting a GRANT for this sort of public service!
posted 18/3/2023 by MJ Hibbett
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A few weeks ago I went to a meeting alongside my esteemed colleagues from CoRH!!, UAL's Comics Research Hub. This is a grouping for all those of us who are doing reseaerch in comics, with a core (CoRH!!) bunch of us who do things like running the online conference in 2020 and then various other associated TYPES who are ALLIED. It is basically an official way of saying "The UAL-ish Comics People", but with more exclamation marks.
We had been ASSEMBLED in order to meet with someone from the University's external communications team, who wanted to look at ways to get publicity for what we do. This was pretty flipping exciting because, with the best will in the world, academics tend NOT to be very good at doing this - they ARE quite good at saying "why is nobody interested in my amazing research?" but NOT so adept at actually TELLING PEOPLE ABOUT IT. THUS someone from Comms actively WANTING to help spread the word about our mighty activities was pretty GRATE.
We had a very jolly meeting with lots of IDEAS, including one by ME to try and get some action going for ME around the future of Marvel movies and the possibility of Doctor Doom FINALLY turning up in the new Ant Man. Sadly that did not occur but then a little while later there was an announcement that James Gunn woud be taking over the management of the DC Cinematic Universe. "I have lots of opinions about this," I thought, "which are VERY CORRECT. Surely it is my duty to share them with the wider world?"
THUS I contacted Alex From Comms and we worked up a THORT PIECE about it. Sadly The Mainstream Media were not hugely interested so instead Alex decided to go FREE RANGE and put it up on the University website, under the exciting title Superhero scholar Dr Mark Hibbett predicts the future of the DC Comics Universe following new slate of films.
I was pretty chuffed with this, not least because it says "DR Mark Hibbett" which is always a bit thrilling. Also, I'd forgotten that there's quite a good bit about the utter bollocks that is "superhero fatigue" that I'd enjoyed writing and also enjoyed re-reading! The only downsides to the article are a) when I shared it on The Socials several people pointed out that James Gunn does look a bit like me in a Black (all right, white) Hair And Glasses Brigade sort of way and b) technically I am a SUPERVILLAIN scholar, although I guess Doctor Doom would probably disagree.
Anyway, it was BRILLIANT to have something like this to show off about, and it has prepped the engines for the glorious day when Doctor Doom FINALLY gets into a film and I can make my bid for being on telly. I read earlier today that this now might now be happening until 2027, at which point I will probably look a lot MORE like James Gunn, at least in terms of hair colour!
posted 16/3/2023 by MJ Hibbett
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The Future Of Dance
Today I am absolutely flipping DELIGHTED to unveil the video for Ode On A Blue Bag, featuring as it does an interpretive dance performance by myself and Mr S Hewitt that is surely destined to blow the SOCKS off the interpretive dance establishment. See for yourself HERE:
That sound you hear is the DANCE EMERGENCY klaxons going off at Ballet Rambert, Sadlers Wells AND SO FORTH, alerting them to a mighty disturbance in THE DANCE FORCE.
It may amaze you to discover that our performance was almost entirely improvised - we agreed on the bit with the bag being taken away, but otherwise we just DONE it. While editing it I was particularly delighted by the way we are clearly a) taking it Very Seriously and b) bringing our own backgrounds into play, me with my recent excursions into TAI CHI (i.e. that is pretty much what I was unwittingly doing throughout) and Steve with his ACTUAL THEATRE DEGREE. It just goes to show what we COULD have been doing for all those years at various Fringes if we hadn't been held back by having to play INSTRUMENTS. If/when me (and Steve) ever take to the boards again I think there is a definite argument for hiring an ORCHESTRA so that we can be fully free to express our BODIES!
posted 13/3/2023 by MJ Hibbett
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Carrying The Message To The Kids (Oh Yes)
Many years ago, back in the distant depths of the previous century, the name "Artists Against Success" first came into being to describe a series of GIG NIGHTS at The Magazine pub in Leicester. It then rose again to become a CONCEPTUAL record label, used by various people to make it look like we were "signed artistes" (I'd like to say we were SUBVERTING the very idea of such things, but mostly it was in order to make us look COOL), and not long after that transmuted into an ACTUAL record label, beginning with the release of the Clubbing In The Week/Only Everything split single with Sienna in 1998.
The label went from strength to mighty strength over the next eight years or so, with a whole HOST of fantastic releases from a wide variety of GRATE acts, before then going A Bit Quiet in order to concentrate on one particular artiste (hem hem). Those early years of ACTION were bloody brilliant fun, with regular BOARD MEETINGS where myself, Mr Whitaker and Mr FA Machine would get together in the pub once a month to plot future endevours (fully minuted of course), including new ARTISTES, Annual General Meetings (featuring the mandatory singing of The Company Song) and a surprisingly large number of label COMPILATIONS.
We also had a pretty massive WEBSITE, containing all of the above DOCUMENTATION, but in recent years this has been replaced by a SHALL WE SAY more "streamlined" site which has largely been used by ME as a way to keep track of what the next CATALOGUE NUMBER should be.
That has all changed this week, however, as I am delighted to point out that Frankie has put together an AMAZING new BANDCAMP site, containing ALL of those early compilation albums which you can now download FOR FREE (or at a PAY WHAT YOU LIKE price if you prefer). That includes the world's first EVER mp3 download compilation Now That's What I Call Valid, our FANTASTIC Christmas compilaton Kung Fu Santa With A Christmas Punchbag, as well as some ACTUAL ALBUMS by the AAS artists Dr Coca Cola McDonalds and Lazer Guided!
Most excitingly for ME, however, is that it ALSO includes the RE-ISSUE of an artefact that PRE-DATES Artists Against Success - I Preferred The Earlier Stuff (A Uk-Indie List Compilation). As the title suggests, this was a compilation TAPE put together by members of the UK-Indie mailing list. It was MASTERMINDED by Frankie back in 1998, bringing together tracks from the various people on the list. You can read about how it came to be in Frankie's EXCELLENT sleevenotes, and of course listen to the tracks too, but the key point of it for ME was that this marked the first time EVER that Frankie had ever heard any of my recorded output. I sent him very early versions of I Come From The Fens and Billy Jones Is Dead and this was the start of OVER A QUARTER CENTURY (so far) of MUSIC MAGICKERY what has continued up to and including this week's release of the It's Hard To Be Hopeful (Bass, Hope & Clarity Mix) single!
I am told that there is MORE to come, including an album that was assigned a catalogue number nearly 20 years ago but never actually came out, but for now I HIGHLY recommend DOWNLOADING some of these albums - you can stream them online OBVS, but the downloads include a METRIC TONNE of additional material which Frankie has lovingly pieced together, including several VIDEOS of The Company Song being sang by a HOARDE of artistes. It is a thing of GRATE beauty, and I commend it to you!
posted 1/3/2023 by MJ Hibbett
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Comics And Agency
I was sitting at home the other day, diligently going about my work, when the doorbell rang. I wasn't expecting anything and assumed it was a wrong number, so was SURPRISED when the postie on the intercom said it was for ME. As he made his way upstairs to the flat I tried to work out what on earth it could be, and it was only when he handed it over and I saw that it had come from GERMANY that I realised what it was.
For LO! it was my ACTUAL COPY of the ACTUAL BOOK Comics And Agency what I wrote a CHAPTER of and which came out back in November. I'd be told that my copy would take a while to turn up and so it had dropped to the back of my BRANE, which made it all the more exciting to open the package and find THIS beautiful item within:
Yes, as I'm sure everyone has noticed, that IS an Ultimate Nullifier that has been worked into the cover design, something which gives a clue to the general EXCELLENCE within. I was already excited about it, but having an actual real copy of it in my hand made it seem much more REAL, so that when I flipped through the pages I was THRILLED all over again to see the PROPER GROWN-UP NAMES of ACTUAL RESEARCHERS in it along with me.
If you'd like to read it then you can do so immediately as it's available to download FOR FREE from the De Gruyter website as OPEN ACCESS. I would heartily recommend doing so as there are some MIGHTY BRANES involved with some MASSIVE THORTS, and also a sizeable chunk of me explaining some of my analysis of the authors of Doctor Doom comics. IN AN ACTUAL BOOK!
posted 28/2/2023 by MJ Hibbett
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It's Hard To Be Hopeful (Bass, Hope and Clarity Mix)
Today I am UNLEASHING the fourth and final single from The Unearthly Beauty Of MJ Hibbett - a brand new remix of It's Hard To Be Hopeful by our very own Frankie Machine which he has called the "Bass, Hope & Clarity Mix", for reasons which should become clear when you hear it. It is, not put too fine a point on it, BLOODY GRATE!
It's available on all the usual streaming services - for instance Spotify, Amazon and iTunes - and I've also done a VIDEO for it which you can witness BELOW:
The only place we're NOT currently putting it out is on Bandcamp, as there are PLANS for a REMIX EP to come in the near-ish future. Otherwise you should be able to get it pretty much EVERYWHERE, and if you do I very much hope you LIKE it!
posted 27/2/2023 by MJ Hibbett
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On Monday I'll be unleashing a NEW SINGLE on an ill-prepared world. It's a REMIX of It's Hard To Be Hopeful from off of The Unearthly Beauty Of MJ Hibbett, created by our very own Mr F A Machine. He's called it the "Bass, Hope & Clarity Mix" for reasons that, I am sure, will become clear to you when you hear it!
The single will be available on all of your usual streaming sites, and there will be a (rather snazzy) VIDEO to go with it too. Today however I thought I should probably fulfill my promotional obligations by doing a COVER REVEAL. So here it is, revealed - the cover!
The image gives a very strong clue as to what the video will be like! I'm quite excited about this as the remix sounds GRATE, with whole great chunks of fab news sounds that have been bouncing around singing ever since I heard it. Frankie has done a thorough RE-INTERPRETATION of how the whole song works, adding all sorts but keeping The THORTS behind it all, and I can't wait for the UNWITTING WORLD to hear it. The video is also pretty groovy, especially if you like MY FACE! Which i assume is... most people?
All of that is to come on MONDAY - see you then, FACE FANS!
posted 24/2/2023 by MJ Hibbett
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I've been banging on about the data from my One Thousand Gigs for over a MONTH now, all the while promising that I would eventually UNLEASH it for others to have a look at. After yesterday's grand finale I am thus very happy to say that it is available RIGHT NOW, at this address: https://doi.org/10.25441/arts.22127405.v1
Why yes, that IS a Digitial Object Identifier (DOI), for LO! I have deposited it on The University of the Arts London's data repository. It has of course been subject to RIGOROUS checking by the person responsible for running the repository (hem hem), and they decided that a dataset offering empirical analysis of MUSIC PERFORMANCE was an entirely valid, and indeed SEXY, item to place within it. Well done that person, whoever they may be!
As you'll see if you have a look, the dataset incudes all the data I've been using for gigs, nicely cleaned up so that each performance has the venue name and units shifted appended to the same row (rather than having to go through 18 relational tables like what I did for the original analysis). Similarly the list of songs in the setlist are named, and linked to the gigs by a variable called "gigcode".
The only data I've withheld from the public dataset is the actual names in the "people" table, which lists who I played with at each gig. I've checked with my Department's Local Information Manager (hem hem) and they have reassured me that the analyses I've shared so far are compliant with GDPR as I've only used names given during the public performances, but still I - OR RATHER WE - felt a bit itchy about uploading even that to UAL's systems, so it's been left as just ID codes. If you really really want to get the list of actual names then get in touch and let me know why you need them, otherwise I'll go along with the wise words of my UAL colleagues, WHOEVER THEY ARE.
The dataset comes with a short report what I wrote, detailing how it all works and giving a very brief (and less excitable) verison of yesterday's explanation of Why It Actually Matters. As the text there says, I really hope that doing this, and showing how FASCINATING it can be, will encourage other people to unleash their OWN data, and start to build something that properly reflects what goes on in this wonderful world of ROCK. I know for a FACT that some of you reading this right now will be sitting on a treasure trove of diaries, notebooks, and very probably Excel Spreadsheets, and I call upon you now to get publishing it. The world needs to know!
posted 22/2/2023 by MJ Hibbett
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What Does It All Mean And Why Does It Matter?
We've now come to end of my Month Of STATS, and before the bell rings and we're all free to go outside and play, I thought it might be WISE to take a moment to try and work out what it all MEANS, and more importantly, why does it MATTER?
For me, the primary learning from all of this has been COR there isn't half LOTS you can do with a dataset like this. Yesterday I was working on the publicly available dataset (more news of that tomorrow) and was surprised to see that it's actually quite SMALL. I boiled it down to just three tables - gigs, the people who played them, and the songs they played - with none of them having more than a few columns each, and yet I've managed to get 15 entire BLOGS out of them and could have done MUCH more. The STATS I've dealt out here have been very basic indeed, only occasionally touching on the ways in which different aspects could interact with each other, and an Actual Statistician could have done multiple metric TONNES more.
Practically speaking, my main takeaway has been that Indietracks and/or Fuzztival needs to come back so that I can have another go at emptying my cupboards. More generally it becomes clear that the places where it's easiest to sell merchandise are EITHER at gigs where people haven't seen you before OR at gigs where they have but you have new things to sell them. Also, it turns out that you can't sell much at all to people who have already left the building and gone to watch something else. These INSIGHTS will, I'm sure, have a seismic impact on the business side of the business of ROCK!
But the GRATEST thing I've got out of this is a reminder of how much FUN I've had over the course of these thousand gigs. I've played with some BRILLIANT people, in various permutations in all sorts of places, and along the way I've unleashed a PILE of GRATE songs on audiences who, every now and then, wanted to BUY some to take home with them.
With so much ROCKING OUT going on all the time - in the scenarious mentioned above but also recording songs, making videos, and even sometimes (when I can't get out of it) PRACTICING - its always very tempting to just focus on what's happening NOW and especially NEXT, so there isn't an awful lot of space to REFLECT on what's gone before. Using STATS has been a lovely way to go about it, and I'm hoping to do a bit more of the aforesaid REFLECTION next week by glancing back at some MISSED MILESTONES.
I hope it's been of some INTEREST for those of you who've read THE LOT. Obviously My Exciting Life In ROCK is enduringly fascinating to EVERYONE, but I suspect quite a few people have read this and been reminded of their OWN lifes in This Krazy Business, whether it's seeing, or playing in, bands in some of the same places I have, or lurking round with some of the same people, or just the daft experience of going out and DOING this sort of thing.
Which brings me onto the POINT of the whole exercise, which is twofold. Firstly, obviously, the plan was to highlight ME and my immense exertions in ROCK over the decades, but secondly, and surely ALMOST AS IMPORTANTLY, it's been to try and encourage other people to look at this aspect of Cultural Activity in a more detailed way. We hardly EVER see examinations of music-making at this level, down around the nether edges away from the stadiums and promotional budgets, whether it's indie or rock or jazz or rap or ANY of the many and mighty forms of music that people get involved with, and that is RIDICULOUS.
Every single day, all around the UK, there are HUNDRED - possibly THOUSANDS - of gigs happening, almost ALL of which never get reported or documented in any way at all. The media, traditional and social, and thus the historical record will tell you about the big bands playing the arenas, but there are many many MANY times as many people going out to toilet venue gigs, or open mic nights, or any of the other sorts of gigs that happen outside my little world of indie pop that I have no idea about. Going To See Small Gigs is probably THE BIGGEST CULTURAL ACTIVITY in this country, in the WORLD even, and yet there is almost NO record of what happened or where, and I think that's appalling.
Even if you don't think that this type of activity is important or has meaning just for its own sake (it does!) then it still has relevance to broader cultural analysis. For example, I went to see Mark Lewisohn talk about The Beatles a couple of months ago, and he had spent YEARS tracking down details of their earliest gigs - it took all that time to find out because there was no existing resource available to uncover it, despite them becoming the biggest band on the planet. He talked about how many gigs they were doing at the time, but there's no way of knowing if that was a LOT, or NORMAL, or NOT MANY because there is quite simply NO DATA to tell us what other bands were doing. This carries on right up to the present day, even in the era of the Internet - on many occasions during this process I tried to look up BIG GIGS that I'd been a small part of, expecting to find line-ups and stage times, but in some case the only online reference to these events - some of which featured HUNDREDS of people - was on my own flipping website!
By not recording this information, and not taking the idea of it seriously, we are losing a WEALTH of data about this country's - this PLANET's - main artistic endevour. I know that some of this information IS available now on places like Songkick, but that's HUGELY weighted towards certain types of act, and is basically warping the historical record so that it looks like it's something ONLY carried out by artists and bands signed to massive major labels, playing in massive corporate venues. This, of course, is precisely what THE MAN wants - by ignoring what the vast majority of us are getting up to for OURSELVES and off our own back EVERY SINGLE DAY - whether that's playing gigs, promoting, or most importantly of all GOING TO SEE THEM - then these large organisations can claim to be the only true carriers of the ROCK FLAME, taking all the money, all the credit, and all the control.
And THAT is why all of this matters - not because it allows us to discover that I've played more gigs with Steve than anybody else (not JUST because of that anyway) but because it's a way for THE REST OF US to stake a claim to OUR part in the human endevour of CREATION. And that in turn is why I hope other people will look into their own lists and spreadsheets (I know loads of you have them!) and do something similar. The more we make this data more widely available to researchers, the more THEY can get a truer picture of what ACTUALLY goes on - and that's why, TOMORROW, I shall be making all of this available to everyone. See you then for a STATS FINALE!
posted 21/2/2023 by MJ Hibbett
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For today's FINAL bit of specific analysis (don't panic, FACT FANS, there is BROADER analysis still to come!) I'm going to look at specific SALES DRIVERS in terms of where I played, who I played with and WHAT I played. In theory, by doing this, we should be able to work out where, what and with who I should go out and play in future in order to MAXIMISE REVENUE. I can see no possible way in which this could not work, and anybody who says otherwise is just a member of the left-wing economic establishment and/or anti-growth coalition!
So, let's kick off by finishing off the VENUE analysis from last week. Back then we looked at sales by specific venue, but today we're going to look at cities and general AREAS. I've got 24 seperate overall areas listed in The Database Of ROCK, and here's how they rank in terms of average sales.
Average Units Shifted Per Gig By City/Area
|city||Sales||Gigs||Avg per gig|
The first thing to say is that The Indietracks Effect is in full flow here, pushing Derby right to the top. In the nicest possible way, and with all due respect to that wonderful city, I do not recall selling HUGE amounts of MERCH there outside of Butterley!
After that though - Manchester! MANCHESTER?!? What the?!? Now, this is partly due to the fact that we did the Retrovision convention there and sold all those t-shirts, but is not the whole story, as looking through the records I have clearly sold other stuff there at other gigs. This is WEIRD for me because I have always thought that Manchester was one of those places (along with Brighton and Leeds) where I have never sufficiently BROKEN into people's hearts, but this seems to suggest very much otherwise.
Lovely HULL is next, which pleases me no end, followed by General Non-UK Places, which largely means GERMANY. Further down the list we can see that London and Leiceseter are not particular HOT SPOTS for me, despite playing there so often - or perhaps, fellow Economics Experts - it is BECAUSE I have played there so often? As we've already discussed, sales tend to be higher in places where the audience are less likely to have already seen me and BOUGHT stuff, so it must therefore be true that they will be lower in places where they've had AMPLE chance to do so in the past.
None of this analysis, however, can quite prepare us for the fact that Edinburgh, fantastic Edinburgh, is right down at the very bottom of the list, with a paltry average of 0.04 units sold per gig! To be absolutely fair to AULD REEKIE, the vast majority of my gigs there have been at The Fringe and buying merch is on NOBODY'S list of priorities there. I discovered this very early on when Steve and I set off the first time with a big bag full of copies of the It Only Works Because You're Here/My Exciting Life In ROCK EP which we'd DESIGNED to be able to sell at that show... and came back with a big bag STILL full of them. When a performance finishes at The Fringe the audience is practically DRIVEN OUT ready for the next show, so commercial activities are rather restricted!
These facts will, I feel, feed into our next table, as we look at how the different LINE-UPS fared in sales terms.
Sales By Gig Type
|Gig Type||Sales||Gigs||Avg per gig|
As I say, clearly Fringe Shows are NOT the ideal space for selling merch, especially when your entire production and audience management team are ALSO your entire cast! Crikey though, look at how much more likely we were to shift units with The Vlads rather than just on my own! Again, this is at least partly due to the fact that all of the Big Unit Shifting Gigs (Indietracks, Retro Conventions, shows abroad) were ALSO Validators ones... although I am sure that some people (i.e. The Validators) might argue that those were Big Unit Shifting Gigs BECAUSE they were Validators ones! It's pretty clear either way that something is going on here - could it be that people LIKE The Validators more than just me? Or do they FEAR the larger group more, and feel compelled to please us with CA$H?
Or could it be something to do with WHAT each of these different line-ups play? For the final table today (and possibly final table for this whole thing) I'm going to have a look at the SONGS played, and the average UNITS SHIFTED at gigs WHERE they were played!
Sales By Songs (for songs played at 10+ gigs)
|Song||Sales||Gigs||Avg per gig|
|I Want To Find Out How It Ends||163||20||8.15|
|Quality Of Life Enhancement Device||210||31||6.77|
|(You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock||334||70||4.77|
|Better Things To Do||213||45||4.73|
|Leave My Brother Alone||198||43||4.6|
|Tell Me Something You Do Like||48||11||4.36|
|Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid||478||122||3.92|
|The Gay Train||586||152||3.86|
|The Saturday Lunchtime Wrestlers||36||10||3.6|
|Payday Is The Best Day||116||33||3.52|
|Do The Indie Kid||529||151||3.5|
|We Only Ever Meet In Church||65||19||3.42|
Now, before we go any further, I am a little unsure of the methodology here - what I did was get the total sales for each GIG and then apply that number to each of the songs played AT those gigs, then divided it by the number of times those particular songs were played overall - with all figures taken from 2005 onwards, as that's when the setlists data properly begins. I've also PRUNED the overall table to remove one-offs and so on - if I hadn't then Hey Hey 64K would have been the overwhelming winner, as it was played ONCE only, at a retro computing show. I decided to go for songs that have been done at least 10 times to get round this, which I think sort of works, but I'm sure an Actual Statistician would want to weight it all somehow for setlist length etc. As I've said before, I'm going to UNLEASH the data soon, and so the aforesaid Actual Statisticians can GO KRAZY then!
With all that said - CRUMBS, what a RUM old list eh? The only way I can even start to explain it is by saying that most of the big hitters are songs I'd usually do with The Validators, and which were played mostly during our POMP when we were selling more CDs in the live environment. GRATE examples of this are Quality Of Life Enhancement Device and Better Things To Do, which were played A LOT during the promotional period for WE VALIDATE! (which is far and away our best selling album on overall sales, by the way) but then were NOT played very much in later years when, SHALL WE SAY, our appeal became more selective.
The clear winner though is I Want To Find Out How It Ends, which was released comparatively recently on Still Valid, so doesn't have the benefit of our POMP years. However, as we can see from its list of gigs played at, it WAS played at several festivals and all-dayers where people hadn't necessarily seen us before, and then WASN'T played by ME at later gigs where people were more SHALL WE SAY in tune with nature than grubby monetarism. Still, it is a REMARKABLE finding, and not at all what I was expecting to discover here!
The bottom of the list mostly features songs from shows, but then right at the VERY bottom is a bit of a surprise - Hibbett's Golden Rules Of Beer with an average of 0.02 units shifted per gig i.e. it has been played at 41 gigs, but only ONE item has EVER been sold at any of them! Now, obviously there are LOADS of other songs that have never been involved in a unit-shifting operation at ALL - Hibbett's Golden Rules Of Beer comes 97th in the chart of sales, and we already know that I've played 267 different songs at shows over these years - but STILL, I thought that song would do better. It WAS part of the Hey Hey16K Fringe show so would suffer from the "the audience has left the building immediately" factor, but it's also been played by The Validators at festivals quite a bit... although, actually, that's been at BEER festivals which, despite being festivals that people go to specifically to GET DRUNK, have never really been great places for sales, almost as if seeing LIVE INDIE ROCK was not people's primary focus there.
I'm sure there's MUCH more to say on this and all other matters, but I think we'll leave that until tomorrow, when I will attempt to answer the burning question: WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN EH? See you then!
posted 20/2/2023 by MJ Hibbett
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Centres Of Commerce
Today we're going to look at the entertainment provision centres where the shifting of units occurred, also known as the ROCKHOLES where I persuaded people to hand over a fiver in exchange for a CD or other merchandising item. For all these tables we're going to be looking at the top 20ish for each category - there were an incredible 135 individual venues where people handed over the readies at some point, which would make for some EXTREMELY long tables if we went through all of them every time!
With that in mind, here's the top 20-ish venues for overall shifting.
Units Shifted Overall By Venue
Way way WAY out in front here is The Midland Railway because this was where INDIETRACKS used to happen. MAN ALIVE we used to sell a LOT of merch then, it was AMAZING. As discussed yesterday, if you like Actual Proper Indie-style INDIE Music then hasn't always been that easy to track down Physical Merchandise, and so at Indietracks people would often come prepared with HUGE WADS of CA$H to take the opportunity to buy MERCH from the Actual Proper Indie-Style INDIE acts themselves all gathered in one place at the same time. I particularly remember one year The Spanish Contingent rolling into the Merch Tent and buying TONNES of stuff, just because it was their one chance of the year to actually ACCESS it.
I also have blissful memories of one year where we set up a post-gig Validators Production Line to DEAL with all of the SALES ACTIVITY, with me at Front Of House (Captain Peacock), Frankie and Tim (Mr Humphries and Mrs Slocombe) manning the TILLS, and The Tiger (Mr Rumbold) overseeing the accounting. I think I'd been there on my own the year before and witnessed the International Commerce going on first-hand, so DELIGHTED in watching their ASTONISHED faces as we were MOBBED by customers, and then us all very proudly showing the PILES of CA$H to Miss Brahms later when she came back with BOOZE.
A little further down in the table we can see some MOST peculiar entries, with me having to look up The Avenue and The Brook Inn to see where they were. It turned out that these were the sites for two gigs that figure HIGHLY in our Mythos, remembered for what happened rather than the venue name. The first was the venue for Retrovision, a convention we played in 2005 where we got MILLIONS (approx) of Hey Hey 16K t-shirts made especially and sold LOADS of them. Over the years we have had several attempts to branch out into Alternative Merch, and the success of THIS venture was why we spent so much time and money failing to do it again over the next decade or so! The Brook Inn, meanwhile, was the birthplace of The Cleator Moor Validators, as discussed earlier, where everybody (including us) was VERY DRUNK INDEED and thus very willing to purchase PRODUCT!
I should say at this point, that all this capitalistic DELIGHT is not particularly based in joy at financial reward - almost everything we ever released cost WAY more to produce than we ever got back (I don't think ANY Validators album has recouped its recording costs, for instance) - but rather the sheer EXCITEMENT of anybody actually wanting to OWN something we'd done. As anyone who's ever experienced my unique approach to LIVE SALES will know, I tend to be so pleased when somebody WANTS one of my or our CDs that I will immediatlely foist MORE on them for free!
We should consider the possibility that the table above could be SKEWED, in that some venues may simply have ACCRUED a greater yield of sales over time. It might be that I played the same place 15 times and sold a UNIT each time, thus bumping that venue up the tables compared to somewhere I played twice and sold 7 items both times, so let's see what it looks like if instead we look at AVERAGE units sold per gig, by venue.
Average Units Shifted By Venue
|Venue||Overall Units||Gigs||Average per gig|
|The Avenue, Manchester||34||1||34|
|The Midland Railway - Butterley, Derby||324||11||29.45|
|The Spitz, London||18||1||18|
|The Blue Shell, Cologn||18||1||18|
|The Brook Inn, Cleator Moor||34||2||17|
|The Red House, Sheffield||13||1||13|
|Green Man Festival, Brecon Beacons||11||1||11|
|Portland Works, Sheffield||10||1||10|
|Bunkers Hill Inn, Nottingham||18||2||9|
|The Vandella, London||9||1||9|
Looking at averages like this MASSIVELY favours the one-off gigs we've done, with another Retro Computing convention (and more Hey Hey 16K t-shirts!) at The Spitz, two trips ABROAD (where we were taking the RARE MERCH to Europe, rather than Europe coming to us at Indietracks) and sets at various Festivals and All-Dayers where a) you tend to get people who haven't seen you before and so don't already have everything and b) you tend to get people who are more DRUNK than usual, having been there all day, and so are much more likely to think "What I most want in the world is 17 Hibbett CDs for the price of 2 and, if possible, 28 free badges". With that in mind, let's FILTER this slightly and look instead at the same data but ONLY for places where I've played three or more times.
Average Units Shifted By Venues Visted 3+ Times
|Venue||Overall Units||Gigs||Average per gig|
|The Midland Railway - Butterley, Derby||324||11||29.45|
|University of Sheffield Students' Union, Sheffield||102||15||6.8|
|The Grapes, Sheffield||19||3||6.33|
|The Portland Arms, Cambridge||31||6||5.17|
|The Adelphi, Hull||30||6||5|
|Rutland Arms, Sheffield||19||4||4.75|
|Carpe Diem, Leeds||15||5||3|
|Bull & Gate, London||13||5||2.6|
|The 12 Bar Club, London||15||6||2.5|
|The Wilmington Arms, London||16||8||2|
There we go then, Indietracks is far and away the WINNER for this sort of thing - it really was a BEAUTIFUL place, even aside from the mounds of sweaty notes shoved our way! Second though is University of Sheffield Students' Union, where I played MANY times for Fuzztival, thanks to the very wonderful Ms P Blackham who kept on booking me, and indeed has continued to do so for other all-dayers ever since!
My FAVOURITE memory of those days in Sheffield is the time I played in the smaller hall to a LARGE audience, after which TV And Radio's Steve Lamacq came over to say hello and was SHOVED BODILY to one side by a group of women who wanted to buy CDs. He was very nice about it, and so were they! The loveliest thing of all about those gigs though was that YEARS LATER I still get people turning up at gigs who say they first saw me there, and bought a CD - there were some people at GIG ONE THOUSAND the other week, for instance, who told me they were still listening to the copy of This Is Not A Library they bought then.
I'm surprised to see The Portland Arms doing so well here, as I've never really though of that as a particularly SALES HEAVY place, and the same goes for Firebug and Carpe Diem. That, I guess, is the great advantage of looking at a massive pile of DATA this way, as it gives the FACTS rather than basing it on very vague memories of long ago. When I wrap this up next week I'm going to try and identify an IDEAL GIG based on all of this, so I can try and do it AGANE!
We'll also have a look at all of this by CITIES. As you can see above, there seems to be a whole lot of Sheffield and London in this list, but is that a true reflection of what actually happened? Were there, for instances, other cities where I sold loads of stuff but did so across a wider range of venues? We'll find out - NEXT TIME!
posted 17/2/2023 by MJ Hibbett
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As promised, today we're going to look at some SALES figures. Well, I say "say figures" but I'm not going to be so UNFORGIVABLY VULGAR as to discuss actual CA$H amounts, I'm going to be talking about how many UNITS were sold.
This is partly to bypass any problems to do with INFLATION (which you may have seen mentioned on The News lately) skewing the figures, but mostly it's because it would seem a bit WEIRD to be discussing such things in a public forum. This is more to do with INNATE BRITISHNESS than anything to do with TAX AVOIDANCE or similar - 25% of Pretty Much Sod All works out as roughly Almost Nothing - although I did spent years and years PANICKING about what would happen if THE TAXMAN started to take an interest in my GIG SALES and I got a) told off b) FINED. IN the end I WROTE to them to explain what I'd made from gig sales and so forth to see if they wanted me to send them any money and they wrote back to say that, with the amount I was bringing in (and SPENDING) it was all FINE. I like to imagine someone in the tax office LARFING OPENLY at my puny worries, I do hope it brought them some light relief in their labours!
As part of this ONGOING FEAR I've kept records of my ROCK incomings (and much greater ROCK outgoings) since 2003, and the DREAD has meant that I've kept it pretty accurately. However, I don't think anyone is particularly interested in how many times I stayed at The Ibis in my rocking career (despite the fact that I seem to be CONVINCED people are FASCINATED by how many times I played each song) so this is going to just look at GIG SALES i.e. how many UNITS (CDs, badges, tapes, t-shirts etc) I sold at each gig.
The finance data was recorded by DATE rather than gig, so there was a little bit of cleaning needed to make it all match up. The main issue was where I did two gigs on the same day, but that turned out to be pretty easy to solve by linking sales to the LAST gig of the day, which was always the one where the sales occurred. With that done I was able to generate a whole heap of GRAPHS, the first of which shows how many units were sold per year.
Items Sold By Year
Isn't that a lovely bit of GRAPH? The ups and downs generally relate to dates of album releases, with a clear rise in sales up to 2006, which is when WE VALIDATE! came out, a gentle bump back up for Regardez, Ecoutez Et Repetez in 2009, and then something similar around 2016/17 for Still Valid. However, there's a mighty great leap in 2014 when I didn't release ANY physical product at all. Could this somehow be linked to the NUMBER of gigs I/we did during this time? To find out I've done ANOTHER lovely graph, this time looking at the AVERAGE number of units sold per gig:
Average Items Per Gig, By Year
If anything this makes the peak in 2014 even MORE pronounced, while also making the 2016/17 Still Valid-era sales figures match up, per gig, much more to the ealier years. This surprises me, to be honest, as I thought there'd been a gentle tailing off of Live Sales over the years, but it seems not to be the case, at least not at that point. There clearly IS a massive drop off in sales in recent years, but that's mostly because the gigs I've done have been VIRTUAL ones, and you can't wander round hassling drunken people into buying stuff so easily at those!
Still, I did expect the number to go down as time went buy purely because of the changes in the ways that it's been POSSIBLE to buy stuff. At the start of the century it wasn't easy to track down music by Properly Independent Types like what I am - you could go to independent record shops, but even THOSE didn't sell music by PROPER indie people (mostly because they didn't answer the EMAILS that proper indie people sent them - not that I am still annoyed about it OBVS). Getting a distribution deal was a RIGHT hassle and also a bit of a rip-off for those of us with more BOUTIQUE sales figues, and even if you COULD get distributors to carry your music it didn't mean shops would actually STOCK it, so for people like me it was either selling stuff online with PayPal (which lots of people didn't like) OR trying to flog it at gigs.
This wasn't really a problem though, as I used to love selling stuff at gigs! I have very fond memories from my heyday of a) gigging b) selling, when I'd wake up the morning after a gig and go through my trouser pockets digging out SWEATY BANK NOTES, all folded up and drunkenly shoved in the night before. I used to put money from SALES in one pocket and any money for PERFORMING in the other, and then have to work out which was which and how much of it I'd then spent on BEER!
However, none of this CHARMING NOSTALGIA is getting us any closer to seeing what's really going on in these graphs, so tomorrow we'll have a look at WHERE the sales happened, and who WITH!
posted 16/2/2023 by MJ Hibbett
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Years And Years
Today we're going to finish up the examination of SETLISTS by seeing which songs have lasted longest, and which have come and gone. I'm not going to complicate things (or at least not complicate them any further) by splitting it up into types of gig or anything like that, so the figures in the table below are for gigs overall, showing the first and last year calendar year that each song was played in, and then in how many individual calendar years it appeared.
Songs played by Calendar Years
|Song||First Year||Last Year||Years Played|
|Hey Hey 16K||2005||2023||19|
|Billy Jones Is Dead||2005||2023||18|
|It Only Works Because You're here||2006||2023||18|
|My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once||2006||2023||17|
|The Lesson Of The Smiths||2005||2023||17|
|The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)||2005||2023||17|
|Boom Shake The Room||2005||2022||15|
|Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid||2007||2023||14|
|Clubbing In The Week||2005||2022||13|
|We Did It Anyway||2011||2023||13|
|Do The Indie Kid||2007||2019||12|
|I Come From The Fens||2005||2019||12|
|Payday Is The Best Day||2005||2019||12|
|The Perfect Love Song||2005||2023||12|
|Leave My Brother Alone||2005||2018||11|
|I Did A Gig In New York||2007||2020||10|
|The Advent Calendar Of FACT||2006||2016||10|
|The Gay Train||2005||2014||10|
The chart is ranked by number of calendar years played in, which means that nothing first performed after 2014 has any chance of getting in, even if it was played EVERY year since then. Even with this knowledge we can still see a heavy bias towards songs first performed in 2007 or earlier - the only song first performed AFTER that is We Did It Anyway, which got into solo, Validators AND Steve sets and stuck there!
Most of these songs make it through to 2023, largely because GIG ONE THOUSAND was deliberately worked out to feature the songs I or we have played the most often. It's only towards the bottom of the list that we can see songs that started to fall out of favour over the years, notably The Gay Train. We used to do this one ALL the time, but about a decade ago I began to see that some of its POLITICS might not be sufficiently up to date - these days saying "straight OR gay" is a bit of a simplistic way of looking at things and rather than a) risk upsetting people who might think I was ERASING whole chunks of THE SEXUAL SPECTRUM or b) risk being seen as "endearingly politically incorrect" (or "a tosspot" as it is also known) or c) putting up SONG SCAFFOLDING and doing some sort of re-write, I thought I would d) give the setlist space to some of my other MEGA HITS instead. Few enough people come to my gigs as it is without annoying those who do!
Having said that, when I get around to embarking on my career performing 8-bit interpretations of classive love songs, THE SEXUAL SPECTRUM is the name I'll be using.
Meanwhile, right at the far end of the unexpurgated list there were a whopping ONE HUNDRED AND ONE songs that only ever got performed in a single calendar year, most of which were one-off covers or songs that I gave a couple of goes to before consigning them to the "Even More Obscure Than The Rest Of The Songs" cupboard.
The biggest gap between years was for Rock & Roll Mayhem, which I wrote on tour with Pete Green in 2004 and then did a few times in 2005 before retiring it completely until 2019, when I revived it for a new version whilst on tour with Matt Tiller.
There were 59 songs altogether that were played in at least five calendar years, and 58 that had ten or more years between their first and last play, which I think shows a determination to stick with songs once I or we have learnt them! To be honest I'm surprised that there's that many of them - I always feel as if I'm playing the same setlist and keep having DRIVES to Shake It Up A Bit and bring back some old songs. Maybe I AM doing that, but it turns out I keep on going back to the same SONG POOL to do so!
Whatever we look at, however, things are a bit skewed because I have been ROCKING for so long, which gives the older songs much more of a chance to get played at least once a year, especially for one such as I who is dedicated to the playing THE HITS whenever he can. THUS let's finish for today with a look at the same list but ONLY for songs that started being played in the last ten years.
Songs From The Last 10 Years
|20 Things To Do Before You're 30||2013||2022||9|
|(You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock||2013||2023||8|
|Can We Be Friends?||2014||2022||7|
|In The North Stand||2014||2021||6|
|People Are All Right (if they are given half a chance)||2017||2023||6|
|I Want To Find Out How It Ends||2013||2017||5|
|Hibbett's Golden Rules Of Beer||2014||2020||5|
|The 1980s How It Was||2014||2017||4|
|Cheer Up Love||2016||2019||4|
|Have A Drink With Us (Drink Doch Eine Met)||2018||2022||4|
|I Think I Did OK||2020||2023||4|
|I'm So Much Cleverer Than You||2013||2023||3|
|Burn It Down And Start Again||2014||2017||3|
|Thank Goodness For Christmas||2014||2021||3|
|It's Hard To Be Hopeful||2019||2022||3|
Altogether there were 67 songs that I'd started playing since 2013, with 29 only played within a single year. I'm not surprised to see 20 Things To Do Before You're 30 at the top of the list, as that's one I've played in ALL configurations as it is a BANGER, but I AM surprised to see (You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock just behind it - I love it very much as a song, but for some reason I always think "Oh I haven't done this one for AGES, I must bring it back into the set!"
It's interesting (NB usual terms and conditions affixed to the word "interesting" apply here) to see the songs that USED to be mainstays but then fell away. We used to play I Want To Find Out How It Ends in band gigs all the time, for instance, but I stopped wanting to play it because the twit who WROTE it forgot to leave any gaps between the verses and choruses for BREATHING! The 1980s How It Was was one of the songs from the SHOWS that ended up on Still Valid and so got played in Steve shows AND Vlads gigs, but then I stopped doing it in solo gigs because I kept getting confused about which order the verses went in. This happens to me A LOT - songs with a story tend to be MUCH easier to remember than LIST songs like this - 20 Things To Do Before You're 30 only overcame this problem because I had THE WORDS sellotaped to the top of my guitar for most of the past decade!
I'm also quite pleased to find that THREE (3) songs from The Unearthly Beauty Of MJ Hibbett have ALSO made it into this list. I've been thinking a bit about that album just recently, especially since I released the VIDEO for I Think I Did OK. Since releasing it I've seen the album as a JOB to do, with sorting out the USB sticks, doing the press, making the videos, booking gigs etc etc etc, and have pretty much FORGOTTEN that it's actually an ARTISTIC STATEMENT containing ACTUAL SONGS. I was thus taken by surprise recently when a few people said how much they identified with I Think I Did OK, reminding me that it was a SONG not just an item on a ticklist of Jobs To Do. I'm rather looking forward to getting out and doing some GIGS again later this year so I can be reminded of that some more!
Before that glorious day, however, we still have some more STATS to get through. Tomorrow I'm going to dig into the murky world of HIGH FINANCE and UNIT SHIFTING as we start looking at SALES FIGURES - see you then!
posted 15/2/2023 by MJ Hibbett
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When Data Visualisations ROCK OUT
After yesterday's unleashment of NEW MUSICAL CONTENT it's back to the STATS today, looking at what was going on in the different types of line-up I've been involved in across my ONE THOUSAND GIGS . As ever with setlist-related analysis this is only going back as far as 2005 due to data availability, which means that the types of sets will mainly be ones where I played solo, with Steve , or with The Validators.
First up is a look at which songs were most popular with which line-up:
Rankings For Songs By Gig Type
|The Lesson Of The Smiths||1||1||1=||0|
|The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)||3||2||26||0|
|It Only Works Because You're here||2||3||12||10|
|Boom Shake The Room||6||4||36||54|
|Hey Hey 16K||5||6||4||22|
|My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once||7||7||7=||0|
|The Gay Train||8||8||7=||67|
|Do The Indie Kid||9||9||5=||0|
|I Did A Gig In New York||15||10||43||0|
|Billy Jones Is Dead||10||11||3||0|
|Theme From Dinosaur Planet||11||12||18||2|
|Clubbing In The Week||17=||13||37||0|
|Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid||13||14||5=||56|
|20 Things To Do Before You're 30||14||15||13||3|
|(You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock||19||17||15||59|
|A Little Bit||16||20||35||24|
|We Did It Anyway||12||24||14||1|
|I Come From The Fens||20||26||67||29|
|Don't, Darren, Don't||17=||28||24||31|
As you can hopefully see, the table is ordered by each songs ranking for my SOLO gigs, because this was pretty much the same as the ranking for gigs overall. Validators gigs, however, have some whopping great discrepancies right from the start, with songs like The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B), Boom Shake The Room and I Did A Gig In New York much much less likely to be played with the band than they were overall.
You can also see how different the Steve gigs were, with the top two songs overall NEVER beimg played by us. Looking through that list now I wonder if there's a whole other show we could have done, hoovering up the songs that I play often but which we've never HARVESTED for shows. A former scout who is now a line manager goes to New York, dances in a disco (during the week), and discovers that he actually really does like Take That? And has a friend called Billy Jones?
Crikey, I started that sentence for a joke but I appear to have ended it with a SOLID GOLD idea that is due on Broadway this time next year! Book me a place on the QE2 and tell Lin Manuel Miranda to pack his bags!
While we're firing up the fax machine for Cameron Mackintosh, I should also highlight a FASCINATING FACT - there are NO songs that I've done with The Validators and/or Steve that I haven't ALSO done solo! According to the STATS every single one has been tried out in the SOLO ARENA at some point, which I think demonstrates due diligence on my part!
The Tony Awards have yet to call, so let's consider whether the fact that I've done ALL these songs in solo sets is somehow to do with the LENGTH of solo sets - after all, if I played for longer on my own, then you'd expect I'd need to play more different songs and so cover more ground. Let's see!
Average Set Lengths By Gig Type
|2005||9.46||2 - 17||10.10||7 - 16||-||-|
|2006||8.89||3 - 18||9.75||3 - 14||-||-|
|2007||8.56||1 - 16||8.44||7 - 10||-||-|
|2008||7.59||1 - 15||8.70||7 - 12||-||-|
|2009||9.38||1 - 16||10.53||9 - 14||-||-|
|2010||8.79||1 - 20||10.66||10 - 11||18.80||3-23|
|2011||5.76||1 - 11||12.00||10 - 13||14.15||3-20|
|2012||6.75||1 - 19||9.57||7 - 13||13.45||5-20|
|2013||5.45||1 - 16||7.00||2 - 10||13.71||1-17|
|2014||7.50||3 - 11||9.00||7 - 12||14.00||14-14|
|2015||5.72||2 - 10||9.00||9 - 9||16.51||1-17|
|2016||5.65||2 - 15||9.66||8 - 11||17.00||17-17|
|2017||5.00||1 - 12||9.33||9 - 10||10.20||10-11|
|2018||7.33||5 - 9||9.60||6 - 15||-||-|
|2019||8.88||3 - 13||11.00||10 - 12||-||-|
|2020||1.13||1 - 2||1.00||1 - 1||-||-|
|2021||8.00||1 - 12||10.00||10 - 10||-||-|
|2022||8.00||1 - 13||10.00||10 - 10||-||-|
Well, this appears to demonstrate that no, that is not the case at all. Solo gigs have almost always been shorter than Validators gigs, except in 2006 (when it looks like I did some extra-long solo shows) and 2020 (when the only gigs were internet shows of restricted length). You can also see that the RANGE was smaller for Validators gigs - solo sets differed in length much more, with lots of one-song sets (often these would be for radio shows) while The Validators tended to do more full-length Actual Gigs.
We can see all of this a bit more clearly on this here GRAPH:
Here we can see that the shows with Steve have ALWAYS been longer than any other, which is fair enough because they were designed to fit into a FRINGE HOUR (which is about 50 minutes long), and would be pretty consistent because we tended to do long runs of the same show. I say "tended" because a) DARLING it is a new show every day for GRATE ACTORS like what we is and b) we did also do those shorter sets every now and again to promote the main ones.
Validators sets are then ALMOST always longer than solo ones, partly for the reasons stated above, but also because BAND gigs would involve approx four times as much Getting Everybody Together as solo ones, and so we'd generally want to do a bit longer to make it worthwhile. Also, my solo gigs rarely (though OCCASIONALLY) have a prologue featuring Tim saying "NO let's do MORE SONGS!" when the setlist gets written!
The graph also shows that there's a very gentle DOWNWARD trend in the number of songs per set. I've tried to work out why this is, and I THINK it's to do with number of gigs played, at least in part. If we go back a few days and look at Gigs Per Year and then OVERLAY that graph with this one (placing the songs per show on the left axis and gigs played on the right) then we might just be able to see what's going on:
I THINK (but only THINK) it shows that there IS some relationship between the length of set and the number of gigs played. Generally, though by no means always, the more gigs that get played then the longer the set is. Does that seem right? It wobbles about a bit, and I think an ACTUAL STATISTICIAN might be able to pick it apart properly (HENCE I'm going to unleash all this data Open Access soon so they can have a go if they want), but that's what I'm going for. As to why that is, partly I guess it's because when me and Steve start to do shows together then that adds a LOT of gigs per year while simultaneously bumping up the number of songs played, and similarly more Vlads gigs means longer setlists too. To be honest I expected it to show that me doing more gigs meant I couldn't be bothered to play as many songs at each of them, but clearly not!
And on that epic use of DATA VISUALISATION we'll call it a day for today. Come back tomorrow for an INTRIGUING look at the individual songs over time!
posted 14/2/2023 by MJ Hibbett
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The House On The Borderland
Today I'm UNLEASHING the latest video from the ongoing Project called Project Do A Video For Every Song On The Album (or PDAVFESOTA, for those in a hurry). It's for the track The House On The Borderland and it looks very much like THIS:
The song's about the comic shop in Peterborough that I used to visit every week as a teenager. Initially it was a market stall, then it moved to Gladstone Street, then Cromwell Road (the two locations that I mostly went to) before settling in for many years just round the corner from John Lewis, down a dank alleyway, beneath a tattoo shop. It closed down many years ago, but if you go and peer down the alleyway, as I did a few months ago, you can still see what's left of the sign.
An old sign down a smelly alley is not really sufficient tribute to somewhere that changed my, and many other people's lives. It wasn't just a comic shop, it sold books and records and other paraphenalia that seemed to come from an entirely different world than the very very straight-laced and defiantly dull Peterborough of the 1970s and 1980s. There may have been excitement and glamour somewhere in my old home town, but I certainly didn't see it at the time! HENCE I thought I'd have a go at writing a song that expressed MY gratitude to the place, and all the other places like it that never seem to get talked about anymore.
To do this I decided to do an ANIMATION, and GOOD LORD but it took a long time. Much of this is my own silly fault - as you can see, there are a LOT of redrawn covers of comics from the ERA, which I really REALLY got into drawing. I'm particularly pleased with the "Love & Rockets" one, but I reckon they're all rather nice, and are all (I think) comics that I owned at the time.
As ever, I hope you enjoy the above, and any shares, tweets, Whatever You Call It On Mastodons and so forth are always appreciated!
posted 13/2/2023 by MJ Hibbett
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What Kind Of KRAZY ROCK SHOWS Are We Talking About Here?
Yesterday we looked at the songs played overall, so today we're going to look at how that varied in different TYPES of gigs. By TYPES I mean what configuration I was playing in e.g. solo, with Steve etc etc. Here's a TABLE to show the varieties available:
Types Of Gigs By Number Gigs Played
|Type Of Gig||Number Of Gigs|
|Hibbett & Hewitt||163|
|Mark & Simon||14|
|The Masters Of Nothing||5|
The category "Other" here refers to various odds and sods including several of the various other bands I've played in over the years. "Mark & Simon" was the (VERY IMAGINATIVE) name of the double act I did with my friend Mr S Wilkinson in the early 1990s - we hosted a student comedy club called "The Casbah" (GRATE name!) and went on to do a couple of other gigs which were, not to put too fine a point on it, very clear signs that we should perhaps keep our activities to our own club!
Other than that we can see that the majority of ALL my gigs have been solo ones, followed by the Steve shows and The Validators, and then the historical BANDS that have been discussed before. This, however, is an ALL-TIME list of gigs, but if we want to delve into the songs PLAYED at those gigs we need to only look at shows from 2005 onwards, as that's when we've got the setlists.
Types Of Gigs By Gigs Played From 2005 Onwards
|Type Of Gig||Number Of Gigs|
|Hibbett & Hewitt||163|
COR, that's a rather dramatic SHIFT in type isn't it? Interestingly (NB I keep saying "interestingly" - to avoid confusion what I mean here of course is "interestingly for people who like FASCINATING THINGS") the vast majority of my solo gigs occur during this period - 82% of them, in fact - indicating that my early days in ROCK pre-2005 were very much more likely to be cocooned within the comforting warmth of BANDS. In the past couple of decades, however, I have STRUCK OUT solo much more often, and have also PARED DOWN the type of act I am liable to cavort with. But what was I PLAYING in these solo gigs? Here's the FACTS!
Songs Played At Solo Gigs, By Number Of Gigs
I've done the top THIRTY here because, to be honest, the top TEN isn't particularly interesting, as it's pretty much the same as in the OVERALL list we looked at yesterday. However, once we get past them things get VERY interesting with a whole bunch of songs from different periods of my ROCK life. For instance, Fucking Hippy and Red and White Sockets are songs I used to play ALL the time, but haven't done live since 2011 and 2017 respectively. That Guy and The Fight For History are similar former BANKERS that don't get out much anymore, and I was AMAZED to see Sod It, Let's Get Pissed got played 31 times. This seemed unbelievable, until I remembered that it was part of My Exciting Life In ROCK, so got done a LOT when that show was on the go. Similarly, just below the top 30, all the songs from the solo version of Dinosaur Planet start to pop up.
Talking of shows, I was going to do a similar list for songs done with Steve... but that just brought up a huge pile of songs played around 40 times, as the setlist for each show was pretty much the same every time! The only big difference was that We Did It Anyway got played twice as often as everything else because it was in two different shows. We liked it!
So instead, for today's final table, let's see what I was playing with The Validators, with a more traditional TOP TWENTY.
Songs Played With The Validators, By Number Of Gigs
This one takes a little while to get FUNKY too, with the only real surprise for me being the appearance of Quality Of Life Enhancement Device at number 10. Did we really play it that often? I guess so - STATS don't lie! Shortly after that it's very pleasing to see It Only Works Because You're here creeping up the Validator charts as it took me AGES to persuade them to do it!
Right at the bottom there's Please Don't Eat Us, which I seem to recall we did quite a lot because Tim liked it. Never underestimate The Power Of TIM in Validators setlist-making, for he is usually WIELDER OF THE PEN and also EXPERT at Looking Sad if we don't at least have a couple of goes at new songs. This is partly why we have done SO MANY different songs - 104 altogether over this timeframe, but with only 35 of them being played more than five times and, amazingly, exactly half of ALL songs we've ever played (62) only being played once. I must make a mental note of this STAT to quote back to him next time we have a setlist meeting - if it was up to me we would probably have been playing EXACTLY the same Validators set for the past five years!
There's be more of this sort of thing next week, with some RANKING comparisons, a look at how MANY songs get played in various line-ups, and if time allows maybe even some SALES figures. Before that, however, I'll have a whole new VIDEO to show you - see you for that on Monday!
posted 10/2/2023 by MJ Hibbett
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The Songs What Were Sung
Now all one thousand gigs have been DONE we can start looking at what songers were actually played... or at least we can in SOME of them. For LO! as the first table today demonstrates, the amount of completed setlists is somewhat patchy to say the least.
Setlists per year
As we can see, there's huge gaps and entire years where I don't have any record of setlists at all, until we get to 89.36% completed in 2005 and then close to full completion after that. The reasons for the sparcity of setlists in the first couple of decades is easy to explain - obviously there WERE setlists but I didn't have a proper system for recording them until around 2005 (or possibly 2006). I do recall that when I DID set up a system - The Database Of ROCK - I spent AGES going back through old blogs trying to find occasions when I HAD listed the songs, and then also delving back into other records like old diaries and so on.
One particularly FRUITFUL avenue of archival setlist discovery has been TAPES. Back in the last century I LOVED recording gigs, and still have a box FULL of live recordings, most of which have the list of songs written out in BIRO on the side, and over the years I've dug these up and entered the details into The Database Of ROCK. The earliest one of those was a tape I made of The Masters Of Nothing's one and only professional gig, at The Gaslight Club in Peterborough on my 18th Birthday - yes, I became a ROCK PROFESSIONAL on the same day as I became an ADULT! As I recall we got paid in ACTUAL CA$H that night too, it was brillo!
Elsewhere I've relied on MEMORY (I know what song we played on my first ever gig, for instance) or odd diaries and notebooks, but that means there's no real consistency until the data suddenly picks up consistency in 2005, so for the purposes of the next few blogs I'm only going to look at setlists from that year onwards. It's a shame, as I'd love to know how often Voon played She's A Spaceman, for instance, or how often we did Boom Shake The Room when it was a Recent Hit, but there's not a lot I can do about that BARRING the invention of time travel!
So, pending the intervention of THE DOCTOR, let's have a look at the Top 25 (ish) songs I've EVER (since 2005) played live!
Songs By Number Of Gigs
No great surprise for the winner here - apart from a gap a few years ago I have played The Lesson Of The Smiths at almost every chance I've had, because a) it is GRATE and b) it pretty much ALWAYS goes down well. I first played it back in 2003 too, so it's had the full run of the study period to climb up to the top of the chart.
Similarly, I've played It Only Works Because You're here whenever I could too, as it is my FAVOURITE, hence it's been in TWO of mine and Steve's shows and in recent years I've even managed to get it into The Validators' live sets as well. By contrast The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B) hasn't made the LEAP into regular Validation or MUSICALS so is slightly lower down, despite being played in nearly EVERY solo gig I've done within this timeframe.
My first attempt to produce this table was slightly SKEWED by the aforesaid Musicals. I realised this when I saw that I Wish That I Was Normal was in my Top 20 most played songs. I was sure I'd never played it LIVE outside of performances of Hey Hey 16K: THE MUSICAL and on closer investigation it turned out that it was listed FOUR TIMES for each show due to REPISES. For this reason I re-did the MATH so it only counted how many gigs each song had appeared in, rather than how many times it had been played.
Towards the end of this list we can see that a whole bunch of Dinosaur Planet songs barge their way in, differentiated from each other by how many times EITHER I've tried them out in normal gigs OR Steve and I did them as part of our Comedy Show Attempts. This process continues with other shows, as songs get bunched together, and then there's a long long list of other songs - altogether, since 2005, I've played a grand total of 267 different songs in the LIVE ARENA, with 81 of them only being played once! I must admit I'm quite impressed with that STAT - I constantly worry that I'm just going and playing the same songs at every gig, but clearly I'm not!
It's noticeable that after 20 Things To Do Before You're 30 there's a sudden drop in number of gigs, from 121 for that song down to 85 for I Did A Gig In New York. I'm not sure what's going on there - the numbers go down at quite a steady rate up until that point, and then do so again afterwards, but it does at least give me a nice easy batch of 14 songs to use for today's final table - the top songs in order!
Songs Played Over 100 Times By Average Place In Setlist
|Song||Average place in setlist|
|The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)||2.4669|
|The Gay Train||3.7434|
|My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once||4.0692|
|It Only Works Because You're here||6.0775|
|Billy Jones Is Dead||6.2800|
|Do The Indie Kid||6.4570|
|Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid||6.6475|
|Theme From Dinosaur Planet||7.0936|
|Hey Hey 16K||7.6367|
|The Lesson Of The Smiths||7.7342|
|20 Things To Do Before You're 30||7.9504|
|Boom Shake The Room||8.9897|
|We Did It Anyway||12.0726|
It's a statistically verifiable UBERSET! This looks pretty much exactly how I'd expect it to - The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B) is first because I almost always start with the one in my solo sets, and similarly we spent a long time kicking off Validators gigs with The Gay Train, while the final six songs are what I'd expect too, as I tend to put THE HIT at the start of the FINAL ACT, and for many many years every setlist would have "Smiths/Easily/BOOM" written at the end. In recent times however we've finished Validators sets with We Did It Anyway too, hence it's placing right at the end.
There are CAVEATS to all this of course, notably the fact that sets will vary greatly in length, so a song that finishes shorter sets may not have quite such a high average as one that comes in the middle of longer onea. This partly explains why Boom Shake The Room is the penultimate song in this list, despite INVARIABLY getting played as a final song or encore. It very rarely gets played at Validator gigs, however, so it's average place of 8.89 is lower than for We Did It Anyway, which is more likely to appear in (usually longer) Validators sets.
"But are Validators sets REALLY longer than solo ones?" you may ask. The answer to that question, and MANY MANY MORE will be heading your way tomorrow. Stat tuned, STATS FANS!
posted 9/2/2023 by MJ Hibbett
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The Hewitt Variations
The physical in-person fun of GIG ONE THOUSAND may be in the past, but the ongoing THRILLFEST of STATS is very much continuing! Today we're looking at the gigs I have done with Steve, kicking off with a big list of the top venues that we performed our various SHOWS in over the years.
Gigs Played With Steve, By Venue
The top three venues are all places we played at for The Edinburgh Fringe, with The Dram House Upstairs at number one because we did TWO shows there - the two-man version of Dinosaur Planet in 2010 and then back for Total Hero Team in 2013. The Fringe was in a time of TUMULT and CHANGE around then, so the first time we did it was with The Five Pound Fringe, but when we returned the venue had changed hands, changed layout, changed name, and was being run by The PBH Free Fringe. The only thing that stayed the same was the chords I was able to play!
We only did one year at The Buffs Club, performing Moon Horse in 2011, but we also did various other shows there the same week, including a couple of Totally Acoustics and shows for Robin Ince (who was running about 17 shows a DAY that year). That means it just edges out Sneaky Pete's, where we did a LONGER run of shows for Hey Hey 16K in 2015 but didn't do ANY extra ones.
One point of confusion while doing this analysis was a recurring thought that said "Hang on, we played at The Medina for two years in a row too, why isn't that in the list?" but of course that was doing My Exciting Life In ROCK and the first version of Dinosaur Planet, both of which were SOLO shows. If you look at the list of ALL Steve's gigs with me you'll see that the very first one is the final night at The Medina, when he came on and danced the Dinosaur Hornpipe, after which NOTHING WOULD BE THE SAME AGANE!
SIDEBAR: Steve had CO-PRODUCED both of those first two shows and came with me to every single one of them, but for these purposes I'm only counting actual ONSTAGE collaborations.
Next on the list are two places where we ALSO regularly did shows, at the Leicester and Camden Fringes respectively. This list is, in fact, pretty much DOMINATED by Fringes, so perhaps it'd be better to have a look at where we played by CITY instead. Let's do that!
Gigs With Steve By City
This clarifies things a bit - Edinburgh, London and Leicester are still there a LOT, but look how many times we played Cambridge, Northampton and Buxton! Buxton was another Fringe festival, but Cambridge and Buxton were regular places for TOURING put on by lovely PALS. Reading, Brighton, Manchester and York were ALSO visited for various festivals, and we see Stourbridge there as the host city of HIBBETTFEST of course. It's still all very FRINGEY really isn't it? We can see that even more clearly if we look at the next table, showing the MONTHS these gigs happened in.
Gigs With Steve By Month
The Leicester Fringe is in February, Edinburgh and Camden Fringes are in August, and lots of the others are in July, which explains a LOT about how these numbers come together. It also probably explains the otherwise ALARMING statistic suggesting we have never ever done a gig in September - by that point we were due a well-earned break!
I was rather surprised to see we have only done one gig together in December, but I suppose the world of ROCK gets taken over by Christmas gigs around then. I was also midly perplexed by the uptick in shows in November, but on closer investigation it turns out that we did our post-Edinburgh TOURS during that month in 2010 and 2011. We were keen to get back on the road, clearly!
Next let's have a look at my Steve-enhanced activities by YEAR.
Gigs With Steve By Year
Apart from a couple odd spots of Just Doing A Gig (including GIG ONE THOUSAND there at the end) this basically SHOWS THE SHOWS, with the duo version of Dinosaur Planet starting in 2010, followed by Moon Horse in 2011 and into early 2012. We then had a year off when Steve was THE STAR of the Olympics, came back for Total Hero Team in 2013, Hey Hey 16K in 2015 and then Still Valid in 2017. It's not QUITE as clear cut as that - we did all sorts of RUM comedy gigs, for instance, and there was the time were REVIVED Dinosaur Planet for The Green Man Festival in 2012 (which I'd pretty much forgotten we'd done until doing this analysis!) - so let's look instead at gigs by SHOWS, as follows:
Gigs With Steve By Show
|My Exciting Life In ROCK||1|
|Total Hero Team||41|
|Hey Hey 16K||37|
The occurrence of Steve in My Exciting Life In ROCK is the time he got on stage with me and demonstrated how to do The Indie Kid! The other shows are all around the same number of performances, interestingly, which taken alongside the repeated venues earlier indicates that we got ourselves into a nice little GROOVE of doing previews, then festivals, and the a TOUR. That's how I remember it happening, so it's nice to see that THE STATS agree!
Two small surprises for me here - firstly, I'd forgotten that we'd done Still Valid so many times. To be honest, the whole point of that show was to give us an excuse to play the Leicester Comedy Festival, but it seems we did put some effort into getting it properly WORKED UP - well done us! The second was to see that there were ten gigs which WERE NOT part of the runs of shows. I was aware that over the years we'd done a couple of gigs like these, but not that many. As far as I remember, doing bits of our shows out of context is more PERPLEXING for audiences than anything else, although as demonstrated in the VIDEOS yesterday, a crowd willing to go for it very much WILL!
That's all for Steve-based STATS for now - I can't really do another day's worth like I did with The Validators, as there are significantly fewer line-up variations when there's just two of us (i.e. there are NO variations), so instead I'll be back tomorrow with a first look at SONGS PLAYED!
posted 7/2/2023 by MJ Hibbett
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GIG ONE THOUSAND!
On Thursday I wenr to The King & Queen in London's fashionable LONDON area of London for my FIFTY SIXTH gig there and my ONE THOUSANDTH gig overall. I chose The King & Queen for this auspicious occasion because it is ACE, and this turned out to be very much the case across the DELIGHTFUL evening that ensued.
As ever I'd been multi-tasking my pre-gig PANIC, simultaneously worrying about what I'd do if a) NOBODY b) TOO MANY people turned up. In most cases it is the former of the two eventualities that seem most likely, but this time around we got quite close to the latter, as a LOT of people came. There were Totally Acoustic regulars, old pals, some DOGS, and even some people who either had NEVER seen me before or who had last done so many years ago, and thus a LOVELY atmosphere prevailed. Everyone just about managed to squeeze themselves into various NOOKS of the upstairs room, and such was the ATTENDANCE PERFECTION that by 7.30pm the room was full and so - possibly for the first time EVER - we started ON TIME!
The evening was split up into two halves, and the first part featured a couple of SEGMENTS. The first of THESE was me doing the following, mostly on my own:
The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
The Perfect Love Song
A Minus Work
I Think I Did OK
When I'd workwd out the above list my plan was to try and cover the aspects of my glittering CAREER that weren't getting looked at later on, which meant including a VOON song, some new stuff, and A Minus Work, as song I have not performed live for nearly THIRTY FIVE YEARS. Rather wonderfully I was joined for this performance by Mr P Myland, who had ALSO not performed the song for thirty five years. As you can see below, we managed to pull it off with APLOMB!
After that I invited my TOP SCORING gig collaborator, Mr Steve Hewitt, onto the stage, and we performed a MEDLEY of "Songs From The Shows" i.e. the shows what he and I did. You can see the whole thing HERE:
It was all VERY exciting, especially because Steve had brought along a lot of the old props, including Actual Moon Horse! I did think, part way through, that a lot of what we were doing would make NO SENSE WHATSOEVER to people who'd never seen any of the shows, but happily people who HAD seen some of them seemed to take delight in revisiting the old songs and those who HADN'T were kind enough to go along with it. The most amazing thing for me was that it wasn't that difficult to make the medley work - the songs just flowed into each other, almost as if they all used the same four or five chords!
After that we had a break before I brought on The Validators for the final set, which was an HOUR of HITS. Unfortunately the VIDEO ran out of juice about halfway through, but enough was recorded for me to be able to show you the thrilling SEGUE FESTIVAL we did part of the way through:
As you may be able to tell, I was having to operate at FULL BELLOW, but I think it came together all right. Here's what we did in total:
Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid
Things'll Be Different When I'm In Charge
The Symbol Of Our Nation
(You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock
Hey Hey 16K
It Only Works Because You're here
Billy Jones Is Dead
My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once
People Are All Right (if they are given half a chance)
The Lesson Of The Smiths
It was a LOT of songs, and my voice was noticeably HUSKY next day, but it wasn't half fun! At the end Steve came back on for a rousing rendition of We Did It Anyway, which felt very much like the correct way to finish off a thousandth gig.
After that the evening moved into the traditional Chatting And Drinking phase, which was also pretty brilliant as SO MANY people had come out to see us. I am very very grateful to everyone who came along, as I am to everyone who has EVER come along to my gigs - thanks everybody, and ROLL ON the next thousand!
posted 6/2/2023 by MJ Hibbett
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Validation Over Time
Today we're going to have a look at the twists and turns of Validator action over the years, starting with the graph below which shows the number of Validators in attendance each year since the very first Validators gig what we did.
The first thing to note is that, for the first two years shown, there were NO 100% Validators gigs, entirely due to the fact that Emma did not actually JOIN the band, in a live setting at least, until 2001, after which we have over TWO DECADES during which The Validators were in full effect at least ONCE a year. This was NOT the case last year, when we had precisely ONE gig anyway, and which Frankie was unable to attend due to an EXTREMELY valid sick note.
Amazingly, during the intervening period of CONSTANT VALIDATION, there is only one year - 2011 - when we dip below 50% of Validators gigs with full attendance, and there are NINE where All gigs feature the full line-up. People who do not understand How ROCK Actually Works may say "Hang on though, surely ALL gigs should be like that? I went to see e.g. The Coldplay a couple of years ago and THEY were all on stage, so why can't you do that?" The answer is twofold: firstly, we are of course MUCH COOLER than Coldplay or any of them bands that lots of people like, and so play by different rules, MAN. Secondly, and more importantly, unlike most (though by no means all) bands that lots of people like, we have JOBS and also RESPONSIBILITIES outside of The Krazy World Of ROCK that sometimes need to be prioritised. In some ways it is our very FLEXIBILITY in this regard which has allowed us to keep going as a ROCKING UNIT for nigh on 24 years - if we'd insisted on 100% for all gigs then we would have LONG AGO packed it in!
The graph above shows the percentage of gigs per line-up, but we might get a clearer idea of exactly what's going on by looking at how MANY Validators gigs happened each year.
As you can see, after some initial fluctuations during our formative years we gradually built to a PEAK of TWENTY ONE (21) Validators gigs in the year 2006! Twenty one - that's LOADS of gigs! This was very much the year of our ROCK POMP when we not only went on TOUR (properly, with a van and EVERYTHING) but also did a live Radio One session from Maida Vale. This was all around the time when WE VALIDATE! came out, which Steve Lamacq played quite a lot and (I think) as a result more promoters asked us to do gigs. It was a DELIGHTFUL time of ROCK SHENANIGANS which lasted a good few years, up to and including the release of Regardez, Ecoutez et Repetez.
After that the ROCKING quietened somewhat, for many and various reasons. Part of this was the fact that 40% of The Validators went to live on the other side of THE EARTH for a bit, and while that was happening we dedicated ourselves MUCH more to the Recording Studio for the EPIC sessions that led to Dinosaur Planet. There's also the small matter of the SHOWS that me and Steve really got going with around this time, but most of all there are Global Factors, Putin's Illegal War In Ukraine and ... no, sorry, that's somebody else's excuse for not doing much isn't it?
Aside from BITING POLITICAL SATIRE, we will look much MORE into these aspects next week, when we'll be casting an eye over the gigs that me and Steve did, before launching into a look at SETLISTS and also GIG SALES. There is PLENTY more FACT to come, but before that I'll take a short break in order to prepare for GIG ONE THOUSAND - TOMORROW!!
posted 1/2/2023 by MJ Hibbett
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Today we're beginning an in-depth look at gigs I have done with The Validators. I say "Beginning" because there was SO MUCH DATA I had to split it into two blogs, both IMMENSELY FASCINATING!
Before we get into any of this the first question that needs answering is "What Does 'The Validators' Mean?" These days that is PEASY, as The Validators are Tim, Emma, Tom and Frankie and have been for LITERALLY DECADES. However, in our early days it was a bit more complicated, as we had various additional members at different gigs, notably Ollie on bass for much of the Say It With Words era. There's also the pre-history of me and some of these ROCK TITANS - Tim and I did several gigs together before The Validators were even an idea, most often in The Council, and Frankie and I palled up onstage several times too.
I'm going to call those four people the Core Validators for the next bit, and look at gigs where one or more of them played WITH me. As discussed in previous blogs, when recording PEOPLE I also recorded whether they played with me or just on the same bill (or indeed BOTH), and clearly in order to count as a Validators gig it needs to feature some of these Core Validators in the same band as me, rather than playing seperately. THUS, looking at the actual data I found 186 gigs overall at which I played alongside at least ONE of the Core Validators mentioned above, but 15 of those were Council gigs with Tim, another was the legendary "Voonlapse" gig, where Voon and Prolapse formed a SUPERGROUP, and five were various early adventures with Frankie before the official First Ever Validators Gig - this took place on 26 April 1999, and I know this was the first one because we got together SPECIFICALLY to do that gig so we could get in free to see Half Man Half Biscuit!
So, if we ignore any gig BEFORE that date we're left with 165 gigs with at least ONE Validator involved, and they break down as follows:
Number of Core Validators Involved In Performance
|Number of Validators||Gigs|
The interesting thing here, to me at least (and surely to all Scholars Of ROCK) is that 59% of gigs that feature a Validator also feature ALL Validators. That's pretty good, I think! However, there have been a LOT of gigs where one or more was absent, so let's have a look at how that all worked.
Gigs As A Four-Piece
Top of the Pops here is Tim, who was in ALL Me + Validators four-piece line-ups. Well done Tim! Tom is not far off, and then a little further down we have Frankie followed by Emma (who joined the band later than the rest of us). NOTES were recieved on ALL occasions when a Validator was unable to attend and, without wanting to go into TOO much gory detail about what some of these notes were to do with, it should be noted that as a group we have brought several NEW HUMANS into the world over the course of our Validations!
Things get EVEN MORE interesing when we delve into THREESOMES. These differ markedly from the four-piece versions - in most cases where we operated as a four-piece it was MEANT to be all of us but someone couldn't make it, but when it was just THREE of us it was often PLANNED as such. Also, these groupings tended to RECUR and so have SPECIAL NAMES, as shown below.
Threesomes (with names)
|Me/Tim/Tom||9||Cleator Moor Validators|
The Cleator Moor Validators were so named because that line-up first played at the EPIC gig at the Brook Inn in Cleator Moor. OH WHAT A NIGHT that was - we did TWO sets and drank LONG into the night, and were so hungover that, the next morning, Tim Couldn't Finish His Breakfast. This event in ITSELF has passed into Validator Legend and is mentioned pretty much EVERY time we gather together.
The Berlin Validators have only ever played in Germany, performing on the three dates of our first TOUR there with Mr Martin Petersdorf. The Performing Pattisons meanwhile was an ANNUAL affair from 2006 to 2008, and for some reason each gig went on REALLY late. I imagine this is due to promoters seeing Emma and Tim and thinking "This is clearly a ROCK POWER COUPLE, I will put them on LATE!" Finally, the Pop-A-Go-Go line-up was, as far as I remember, not planned like the others but was mostly a result of Frankie and Tom being there and us doing a song together. For some reason I cannot remember it clearly, I Cannot Think Why.
Finally for this batch, let's have a look at the times I played in a DUO with one other Validator.
Tom is very much ahead of the pack here, mostly due to a RUN of duo performances we did in the 2000s. We got quite an ACT going during this time, and I THINK that might be where we first started doing The Tiger's Roar. The gigs with Frankie are a right old mishmash, including some ACADEMIC PRESENTATIONS and various occasions when we were on TOUR together as seperate acts and ending up doing a couple of songs together.
Emma's duo gigs are the CLASSIEST, comprising one WEDDING (hers) and one performance with an ORCHESTRA (i.e. A Little Orchestra) at Indietracks. Finally Tim's duo gigs have all been examples of us both saying "SOD IT, let's do it anyway!" when gigs have been suggested that nobody else was able to do. Oddly, both Tim and I thought this had only happened ONCE but actually occurred THRICE!
So, with all of this information to hand, I think we can safely say that a gig with all four Core Validators is DEFINITELY a Validators gig, as is one with at least THREE. I would also suggest that the fact that ASSIGNED NAMES exist indicates that gigs with me and TWO Validators ALSO count as Validators gigs, but then when we get down to there just being two of us all together I think the safest course is to say that that's something else. As I say, some of the duo gigs (i.e. the me and Tim gigs) were SUPPOSED to be Validators gigs in the beginning, but the others definitely weren't.
Oh, and in case you're wondering - there were never any cases when there was any kind of Validators gig with LESS than two Core Validators in attendance but OTHER early Validators onstage instead. PHEW!
Now we've got THAT sorted out we can gather ourselves for tomorrow's onslaught of FACTS, when we'll be seeing how all of this changed over TIME! There will be GRAPHS!
posted 31/1/2023 by MJ Hibbett
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I Think I Did OK
We now interrupt the flow of DATA to bring you the video for my latest POP SINGLE, out TODAY - I Think I Did OK.
I thought it'd be a good idea to put out a SINGLE this week to promote/celebrate the coming of GIG ONE THOUSAND, but my original plan was to UNLEASH the rather spiffing Frankie Machine remix of It's Hard To Be Hopeful. However, after about 3 seconds of Actually Thinking About It I realised that that might not be QUITE the right message for the occasion, and that a title like "I Think I Did OK" was a LOT more appropriate, so here we are!
It's an official single on Spotify, Amazon etc etc, which means it has its own cover, THUS:
As you can see, there is very much a THEME to these! When you release a New Thing on Spotify you can PITCH it to their CURATORS, in the hope that they will stick it on one of their playlists so that BILLIONS of people hear it (which would make you something like 15p etc etc), and that was my PLAN here, but it turns out that you can only pitch ACTUALLY new things, and as there's no difference between this and the version on The Unearthly Beauty Of MJ Hibbett I'm not allowed to try it here. It doesn't really matter, as the aforesaid CURATORS have not exactly LEAPT on my OUVRE as yet, but I'm hoping to be able to have another go when the Frankie single comes out!
In the meantime, I hope the above video brings DELIGHT and, as ever, any shares, retweets, playlistings or casual mentions to impress strangers are always very much appreciated.
Tomorrow: back to the STATS!
posted 30/1/2023 by MJ Hibbett
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When The ROCK Occurred
So far we've looked at people I've ROCKED with and where the aforesaid ROCKING occurred, so today we're going to have a look at WHEN all of that ROCK went on. The sensible place to start woukd seem to be the annual turnover of GIGS, and you can see a constantly updated listing for that over on Gigs We've Done page. So, rather than repeat that as a table I have gone and done a GRAPH!
Gigs By Year
What this shows is that everything was fairly stable and vaguely sensible throughout the 1990s and then in 2004 I got A Little Bit Excited and started to gig more and more often. As I've said before, my recollections of The Britpop Era may be - IF YOU WILL - somewhat "Blurred" (thanks) so there will have been other gigs I can't remember, but around 20 a year sounds about right. I then moved to That London in 2003 and it looks like, once I'd settled in a bit, I started to take advantage of the many many opportunities to ROCK that arose.
An important factor in this was that gig promoters were fully embracing THE INTERWEB around this time, so whereas before then it had been really difficult to get gigs outside of Pubs You Actually Drank In (there was an awful lot of Sending Tapes, Ringing Up A Couple Of Weeks Later and then Ringing Up Again To See If They'd Listened To The Tape Yet), the early 21st Century was a golden period of promoters ACTUALLY ANSWERING EMAILS! I got LOADS of gigs this way, notably in other cities, and then of course once I started to GET gigs other promoters started to email ME to ask if I'd play for them too. This was often people who had only seen my name on the bill - if they'd seen me actually do the gigs in question they might have thought twice!
The graph reaches its first PEAK in 2008, when The Validators and I were in our POMP, and then went even HIGHER in 2011 when that merged into me and Steve doing Dinosaur Planet and then Moon Horse. It was a VERY busy time for me! Part of the reason for me DOING so many gigs was that I was convinced that if I stopped saying "YES" to promoters offering me gigs then they would stop doing it. As you can see from the right hand side of the graph, it turns out that I was pretty much CORRECT - I started my PhD in 2016 so a) stopped ASKING for gigs so much and b) actually said "No thank you" a couple of times, so I could find some time to do some STUDYING. This was very helpful personally, but it meant that I failed to ENGAGE with the next wave of promoters and so didn't get half the amount of gig offers that I used to. The moral of this story is that Promoters do NOT work like crop rotation - you can't leave the fields of ROCK to go FALLOW, they have to be regularly SOWN and REAPED!
I'll look at all of this a bit more when we delve into VALIDATOR PERMUTATIONS next week, but for now let's turn our attention to the TIME of year that gigs happened. Here's a look at gig activity by MONTH.
GIgs Per Month
These results were a surprise for me, as I'd always thought that the busiest time of year for gigs was "Back To School" time, from September through to October, and that Summer was the quietest, but clearly I am QUITE WRONG. Thinking about it, there is obviosuly some DATA SKEWING being caused by the fact that The Edinburgh Fringe happens in August, so that's when Steve and I did A WHOLE LOT of gigs, and July is high because that's when we'd be doing PREVIEWS. October is the next busiest time, which conforms to my expectations, but September is the lowest! I did less gigs in September than I did in JANUARY, which is surely when hardly ANY gigs happen due to post-Christmas Payday Waiting? Also, I would have thought December would have been busier - there always used to be LOADS of Christmas gigs, I seem to have spent half of my ROCKING LIFE re-learning "The Advent Calendar Of FACT" every year!
The next table shows the day of the week that each gig happened:
Day Of The Week For ROCK
|Day Of Week|
As I keep saying, this data is INCOMPLETE due to Me Not Remembering The 90s Very Well - for instance, you'll occasionally see gigs in the system that happen on Saturday 0, which is when I knew the MONTH but not the day that it happened (my system defaults to Saturday in those cases, and who can blame it). These dates are not included in any of the analyses, which in some ways is a shame as it would have BUMPED UP my Saturday showings. The fact that Saturday - DAY OF ROCK if ever there was one - is my LOWEST scoring day feels like a SLIGHT upon my good name!
Having said that, MIDWEEK is obviously where all the cool kids play, and this has been further inforced in my data because Totally Acoustic usually happened on a Thursday, especially when it moved to The King & Queen. Years ago I posited that we could use Day Of The Week as an estimate of POPULARITY i.e. if we take Sunday as the least popular day to ROCK and Saturday as the MOST, we should be able to plot a graph showing average day of the week by year and see if I got more prestigious gigs over time. Let's see if that makes sense, with another GRAPH!
Average Day Of The Week For ROCK By Year
Hmmm... I'm not sure if that really proves anything either way. I guess there's a very gentle upwards trend, but the years at either end are the ones where not many gigs happened, so there's probably not enough data to make any proper deductions. If we look at the MIDDLE though, between 2004 and 2016 when we have already established that I did a LOT of ROCK - we can see that the day of the week is a CURVE that goes down gently then cones back up again in a SPOOKY MIRROR IMAGE (sort of) of our first graph showing number of gigs. I think, THEREFORE, that this shows that the more gigs I DID, the more midweek/Lower Esteem shows I played too - if you're going out doing more than 52 gigs a year, as I did from 2007 to 2011, then ACTUAL MATHS dictates that you can't do them all on a Saturday!
There is MUCH MORE we could say about all of this but I fear it would FRAZZLE my BRANE to engage in such calculations, so we'll leave it there for today and, indeed, this WEEK. I've got a new single coming out on Monday so will pause to PLUG that a bit, but if such commercial activity is not your bag please come back on Tuesday when we'll be diving into the EXTREMELY FASCINATING world of Validator Permutations!
posted 27/1/2023 by MJ Hibbett
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Places I Have ROCKED
After yesterday's excursion into People I Have Rocked With today we're going to skim the surface of the ocean of data concerning Places I Have Rocked IN. The simplest way to start is just to look at the places I rocked the most times, and here they are:
Top 20 places I have ROCKED
I was really really really tempted to make this a Top 30 as there were so many brilliant venues that are missing out - places like Victoria Inn, Derby, Pump & Tap, Leicester, The Lexington, London and The Durham Ox, Leicester. However, once I did that there were even more after that that would have made it a Top 40, and so on and so on. Over the course of 1000 gigs there has been a whole lot of GOOD TIMES in some amazing places - 370 of them, to be precise!
The top of this list isn't really a surprise, as The King & Queen has become my home from ROCKING home over the past decade. It's a lovely pub where a) the people are nice b) it's easy to book a gig and b) you can get served at the bar really easily, which are the main three ASSESSMENT METRICS for anywhere in the world of venues. Most of the gigs there have been Totally Acoustics, but I've also done several one-offs for Album Launches, Show Previews or General Touring (it's GRATE being able to say to Tour Buddies "Oh yeah, I can definitely book us somewhere in Central London, leave it with me" even if I do then feel a bit bad when that's usually the ONLY place I manage to book, leaving them to do most of the others - sorry Gav, Pete and Matt!). I've even played there at other people's gigs like Scaledown. I love it, HENCE that's why it's the location for Gig 1000!
I was however VERY surprised to see that the second place venue is The Charlotte in Leicester. It's a LONG time since I last played there, not least because it's not a venue anymore, and I hadn't played there regularly for a decade or two before that, but on the other hand I HAD played there IREEGULARLY every couple of years, and in my early days of ROCKING in Leicester it was THE big place to play. Likewise, I haven't played The Magazine since 1996, largely because it was DEMOLISHED not long after that, but when it WAS going I played there a lot. It was in many ways similar to The King & Queen, a really great pub that was also easy to get a gig at, and was the place where MANY old stories occurred. Did I ever tell you about the time I told Tim that Simon From Voon had been sent to prison? Or when we padlocked our "van" (a shopping trolley) to the fire escape? Or when we plotted The History Of Life? Or the Voon VS Prolapse STICKER FEUD? That was all there!
Elsewhere in the list we have The Lamb, precursor to The King & Queen for Totally Acoustic gigs, where the people were nice and it was easy enough to book a gig but not so easy for them to actually remember the booking, and also where it was VERY DIFFICULT INDEED to get served, hence the switch. The Dram House comes out on top of Edinburgh venues as we played there in two different years (when it had two different years, and is called something else now too).
It's interesting (to me at least) that almost all of the venues are in either London, Leicester or Edinburgh, with the only exceptions being places I played regular EVENTS at (Fuzztival for Sheffield Uni, Hibbettfest in Ray's Mum's Back Garden, Indietracks at Butterley and the Lockdown Totally Acoustics on The Interweb). I did play all OVER the place, but it's almost as if other plaes weren't so keen on having me back. Let's DELVE into this a bit more with the next table, showing CITIES.
Cities I Have ROCKED
Again, it's pretty clear that London, Leicester and Edinburgh are the main places that have felt my ROCK, making up 62.4% of all gigs played! However, there are very strong showings for Sheffield and Derby (places I like VERY much) as well as Brighton and Nottingham. Seeing these latter two cities in the list surprised me, as they're both places that I've always though have RESISTED my ALLURE, especially in Brighton where I have spent many long train journeys home regretting that a place so handy to get to, with so much vegetarian stuff, also PUBS and SEASIDE, was seemingly immune to my CHARMS. Maybe that's why I kept going back, to try again?
A quick note on the GEOGRAPHICAL GROUPING: in order to get the above FACTS I went through all the places named and everywhere that I'd played 5 times was labelled an UBERCITY i.e. a category for the above analysis. I then went through grouping other places in with them, so for instance the 6 gigs in Manchester include one in Salford. This was done to make the analysis a bit more readable, rather than having millions of different places all having one or two gigs each - I also bunched up anywhere outside of the UK into their own category (14 gigs abroad is pretty good I reckon!) and kept the online ones together too. Even then it left a pretty hefty 48 gigs in generalised areas I only visited the once. I have basically followed a policy of "If Someone Asks Me To Do A Gig, I Try And Do It", hence there have been a whole lot of excursions into the unknown over the years, as evidenced in today's final table, which shows number of venues by how many times I've played there:
Number of Gigs played per venue
Just to explain how this works, the above shows that there was one venue (The King & Queen) that I played more than 50 times, five where I played between 20 and 49 times, 18 for 10-19 gigs and so on.
It also means that there were 232 venues where I played once and never got asked back - 62.7% of venues I played in (232 out of 370) said "No more, thanks very much", but on the other hand 76.8% of actual gigs I did (1000 gigs overall minus 232 single places) happened in places that DID want me back! Overall I think that's pretty good - I've always been under the impression that a large number of my gigs have been put on by people who have never put on a gig before. "This looks like fun," they think, "and what could be more fun than booking MJ Hibbett?" An ADMIRABLE, and also CORRECT assumption, but sadly I fear that my PULLING POWER has rarely been high enough for this sort of thing, so a lot of those first gigs were also LAST gigs, as the now older and wiser would-be promoters have thought "Hmm, I seem to have spent a lot of money just to sit in and watch an MJ Hibbett gig on my own". I mean, now I've typed that it sounds AMAZING, but I guess it's not for everyone!
Looking back at it though, it's pretty wonderful to think there were LOADS of places that I kept going back to, even when it was only for a few times. As I said at the start, there are LOADS of places in the main list that meant an awful lot to me as part of my GIGGING LIFE, and it's lovely to see the EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE that there were so many of them. GOOD TIMES!
And speaking of GOOD TIMES, tomorrow I'm going to have a look at when those GOOD TIMES actually were - what time of the year, what day of the week, and so forth. Join me then for INSIGHT!
posted 26/1/2023 by MJ Hibbett
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People I Have ROCKED With
Now that we've dealt with some of the CAVEATS around my ROCK dataset, asking What Is A Gig? and What Is A Band?, it is time to look at some actual STATS.
I thought we'd start with people because, well, people are what people are interested in. Over the past few months I've been diligently going through every single gig in my database, trying to add in details of who played. Sometimes this has been PEASY (Totally Acoustic gigs especially so, as I have PODCASTS for those), sometimes TRICKY (there has been a LOT of googling for gigs and festivals, with a surprisingly massive lack of success) and sometimes it has been IMPOSSIBLE (especially gigs pre-internet). However, I have done my very best and so can now present you with the first of THREE might data tables!
Top 20 people I have done a gig with, either in the same band or on the same bill
|3=||Francis Albert Machine||151|
|3=||Tom 'The Tiger' McClure||151|
|7||Simon from Voon||58|
|13||Jimmy McGee and/or The Bobby McGees||20|
|17||Jon from Finnegan's Wake||16|
|20||Julie from John Sims||14|
Have you ever SEEN such a mighty list of ROCK LEGENDS?!? The first point to take out of this is that we must all congratulate Mr Steve Hewitt, as the VERY LUCKY person who has done the MOST gigs with me - 17.8% of ALL of them! This is largely due to our many SHOWS together, but also helped along by the various SPOTS we did elsewhere, usually in an effort to PROMOTE said shows. One of the GRATE things about doing this data entry and analysis has been being reminded of some of the WEIRD stuff we've done over time, including a surprisingly high number of Actual Comedy Shows around 2010. What were we thinking?
After Steve we can see that The Validators take up the next five places, and congratulations are very much due to Tim, who WINS (and I do mean WINS) here, partly due to our previous collaboration in The Council, and partly due to his ongoing determination to DO GIGS. It's delightful to see Frankie and Tom on equal footing, but we shall delve into that, and other matters arising, in our NEXT table.
Top 10 people I have played in the same band with
|3||Tom 'The Tiger' McClure||147|
|4||Francis Albert Machine||135|
|10=||Sorted Supremo Dave Dixey||10|
|10=||Jon Finnegan's Wake||10|
This table shows people I have COLLABORATED with in gigs i.e. usually in the same band or sometimes with them coming on during a set and doing a BIT, or me doing the similar. Here we can see that Steve's numbers are unchanged but that Tim's drop slightly due, I think, to there being a few occasions when Voon supported Prolapse. Interestingly, Frankie drops into fourth place here, as many of our gigs together have been with him doing Frankie Machine gigs, often on TOUR, whereas Tom stays in third - we HAVE done gigs in seperate bands when I've supported Lazarus Clamp, but we've ALSO done several duo gigs over the years. Emma, meanwhile, remains on the exact same number of gigs - she, like Steve, has only ever done gigs with ME in this database, ESCHEWING other people. Thanks chums!
After them we see Neil and Simon from VOON, with Chris (also occasionally from Voon) just behind. If I had managed to keep more accurate records of what I was up to in the nineties then I suspect that these scores in particular would be higher, especially for Neil, with whom I did the vast majority of my early ROCKING in Voon and also The Council. The rest of this top 10 is also completed by OLD-TIMERS, including Mileage from The Masters Of Nothing and Durham Ox Singers (and often backing vocals at family occasions!), Dave from the aforesaid Durham Ox Singers, and Jon from Finnegan's Wake and various early bands when I was first learning to play BASS. Thanks to all!
Finally, let's have a look at the people who have been on the same BILL as me over the years.
Top 10 people I played on the same bill with (but not in the same band)
|4||Francis Albert Machine||22|
|8||Jimmy McGee/Bobby McGees||17|
There are a LOT of people in the actual dataset - 411 are named (compared to 46 people who I've been in a band with), with the code "OTHER" used for around 300 different gigs too. It's been lovely looking back at some of the more obscure names in these lists. I always hope there'll be somebody I played with once twenty years ago who is now SUPER FAMOUS so that I can show off about it... but if there is, I haven't spotted them!
The big winner (and IT IS WINNING) for this table is Gavin Osborn, who just pips Pete Green to the top spot by a single gig. Tim Eveleigh comes in next, largely due to the many times I have played at his Freedom Of Expression gigs, where he has ACTIVELY COMPERED. After Frankie and Neil we then get Jenny Lockyer, who as played many of those same Croydon-area events, followed by another touring buddy Grace Petrie. Grace is as close as I get to Someone I Played With Who Later Became Super Famous - I particularly like the description of her as "a young girl singing HARROWINGLY" in the blog about our first gig together!
The bottom half of the top ten is a luxury selection of GOOD EGGS - General Touring Buddy Mr Matt Tiller is here nestled alongside Jimmy from The Bobby McGees, Chris T-T and Winston Echo as people with whom I have ROCKED with in all sorts of places in many different formats over the years. I'm very pleased INDEED to see ALL of these people here, I really have been BLESSED to have played with so many excellent people, and there are many more in the full list. Alas we do not really have time to get into that here, as we have VENUES to look at - next time!
posted 25/1/2023 by MJ Hibbett
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An Artists Against Success Presentation