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Blog: Chris T-T at 93 Feet East
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It was a bit of a scary TFL Journey Planner walk down to Brick Lane, with my BRANE rather annoyingly providing voiceover of the "Down these darkened streets, JACK THE RIPPER did prowl, tending his deadly trade" variety. I was relieved to get to the venue itself, but there my pleasure with it pretty much ended. I'd read a review online saying it was an annoying place where they charged far too much for beer and it took ages to get served. TWENTY MINUTES of standing at the bar (it wasn't busy, the bar staff were just rubbish and people kept ordering stupidly complicated drinks and paying for them on credit cards) later I had to agree, and ended up buying THREE cans of lager (at THREE POUND FIFTY EACH!!!) just so's I'd not have to go again. Later on I met Mr James Walsh, who pointed out that there was a bar next door where the bar staff were STILL incapable of going 5 seconds without being distracted by friends and then doing that INSANELY IRRITATING thing of going to one end of the bar and working down it, rather than serving properly, BUT at least it was pretty much empty, so you got served a bit quicker.
Anyway, that took a bit of calming down from, after which I bumped into Mr T-T himself who was dashing off to sort things out. He said "Oh, we were just talking about you earlier" and OF COURSE I had to NOT say "With whom? About what? Eh? Eh? Eh?" although i was DYING to know. I guess it would have been at a meeting with the editors of the Melody Maker, trying to get on the Hibbett bandwagon. What?
Once served I looked around me and WONDERED at the audience. This being practically Shoreditch there were a LOT of Young People around doing that Shoreditch thing of going to a gig because GIGS IS COOL, but not actually wanting to watch any bands, preferring to screech at each other and, as reported, drink stupid drinks bought with credit cards. There were also a lot of OTHER young-ish people, many of whom had done the GRATE thing of coming straight from work but taking off their ties and putting their jackets back from their necks, to look CASUAL, and also some PARENTS OF A BAND. It was very sweet - they were wearing band t-shirts!
But it DIDN'T look like a Chris T-T audience, at least not the kind I'd seen before - "Wow", I thought, "Having this new record company must have pushed his profile really quickly into New Markets!" I was also a bit surprised by the support bands - I missed the first one, but the second were one of those Standard Local Band TYPES who seemed perfectly nice, but WOULD insist on playing extra "funky" Second Stone Roses Album type "jams" while the singer used the microphone like a maraca and sang in an American accent. ALSO phrases like "floating down stream", "dragonflies" and the usual "sky"/"high" sort of rhymes were used.
After them it was another Standard Local Band, who we shall call CLEAN SIXTH FORMERS. It's hard to be in any way annoyed with this sort of band when you see them - they WERE very tight indeed, they made a lovely sound with GRATE vocal harmonies, the songs were full of BITS and they had a very charming onstage chemistry between them. The only trouble was that I've seen these sort of bands before and they never really have any particularly memorably songs and you come away thinking "what nice lads" rather than anything else more ROCK.
These sort of bands however DO attract a certain kind of RABID AUDIENCE of people who have pretty much never seen bands IN THE WILD, only watched them on telly. Again, you can't really be annoyed at them, they're all perfectly pleasant and I feel a bit awful complaining about them at ALL, but it can be a bit FATIGUING when you play gigs with them. The crowd goes ABSOLUTELY MENTAL for everything their band does, the room is FULL of Quite Expensive Cameras going off, there's usually a film crew, the aformentioned Parents proudly DANCING at the back, and people generally act like it's the Gig The Mr Big Comes To And Decides To Sign Them Up SCENE from the Biographical Film. And then, of course, everyone EITHER goes straight home OR stands around chatting loudly about how AMAZING their friend's band is and ignores the Real Live Actual Band that comes on next.
And that, of course, is exactly what happened. Chris came on stage and stood alone singing "M1 Song" - it's the one on the album that he sings acappella, and as he stood there GLARING and singing out the words the room gradually but inexorably came under his control. It was GRATE.
The band then came on, and it was a very different band to the last time I saw him - for a start there were much fewer people, it now just being Chris on Guitar, a bass player, and Stuffy From Stuffy & The Fuses (apparently contractually obliged to be in AT LEAST 40% of ALL bands I ever go and see). I believe it is what is known as a Power Trio, and BY HECK was it FANTASTIC - like him on his own, it was POWERFUL STUFF, but now ROCKED UP and... well, i'll run out of superlatives soon, suffice to say i spent the next half an hour AGOG with a MASSIVE grin on my face.
A couple of songs in he said "We've been fucked up by circumstance tonight" and then tried to politely avoid blaming anyone, but my GOODNESS he looked annoyed, and I know how he feels. I'd assumed that the whole night was a Chris T-T gig and that everybody was there to see him, but actually they were as one band in a Promoted Line-Up and, as so often happens in those cases, EITHER other bands go on much longer than they're supposed to, often bouyed up by their Audience Of Pals demanding more and more OR the promoter doesn't really do their job properly and doesn't chivvy people to get on or force people to get OFF, so that the last band runs out of time. The REALLY annoying thing about it, if you are the last band, is that PART of you is thinking "But we're the headliners! We're the important ones and OUR interests should be paramount!" whilst ANOTHER part of you is simultaneously a bit ashamed of the other part for THINKING such things, and is trying very hard to be nice about it and Not Make A Fuss.
It's upsetting when it happens to you, but it CAN make for some AMAZING gigs if The Performer CHANNELS the RAGE, and that is EXACTLY what happened here, as Chris and the band were ON FIRE - ON FIRE, i say! They did "Giraffes" which was AMAZING - it's already one of the BEST SONGS EVER, and on this occasion I could feel all the hair on the back of my head standing to attention. The new stuff sounded BOTH heartfelt AND rocking and when they finished in LOUDNESS and pretty much STORMED OFF it was all I could do not to WHOOP.
Actually, i think there WAS some whooping. It was very exciting.
Afterwards we stood around being THRILLED, then grabbed a quick word to say how briliant it was before stepping out into the night. It'd been a funny old evening in many ways, strangely like SO MANY of the gigs I'm currently writing about on the Pop Art Digest, the kind of gig you always think is behind you but keeps coming back to bite you. If only they all turned out as GRATE as this one had, ROCK would be an even better place!
posted 9/11/2007 by MJ Hibbett
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