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Blog: Gipsy Hill

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In planning my journey to Gipsy Hill last night I kept coming up against a problem: nobody seemed to know where it was, including ME, and it took me a couple of minutes to realise I'd actually been there BEFORE, to visit The Gibbs. In fact, when we went that time we were ALSO confused about whether we'd been before or not, as it looked VAGUELY like somewhere some other friends used to live. Is there something about Gipsy Hill that needs to be CLOAKED in MASS FORGETTING?

I strode manfully up the hill to find Christ Church, and when I got there was confused once more. Nowhere seemed to be open - well, apart from the Church Hall, which I wondered into following the sound of SINGING, to find a couple of classrooms, one occupied, and slink out again - and I couldn't find ANYTHING that looked like the building on the Freedom Of Expression page - it later turned out that that's because it doesn't exist yet, but was the NEW Church Hall they were hoping to build. Someone with a guitar walked past me, looking lost clutching a piece of paper, and I thought "I wonder if she's playing too tonight?" I waited a couple of minutes later and they came back round again. CORRECT!

We rang Tim, went down to a pub near the station to meet him (he'd been caught in train delays so was LATE) and then hiked back up the hill to the CHURCH. We were playing in a CHURCH!

It was an amazing place, one of those modern sixties churches (well, i think sixties, I am NO EXPERT) with a tea booth at the back, toilets and PROPER HEATING, although as we came in the caretake WORRYINGLY said the boiler hadn't been working, and it was COLD.

Happily it came back on, we did our soundchecks, and I got a cup of TEA. It was OK to drink BOOZE in the church, but I'm trying to have 3 non-BOOZE days a week at the moment, so thought I'd try out a drinkless GIG. It was actually quite nice, although the fact that I was in a CHURCH may have made it easier. It certainly helped with the setlist - I had a PANIC about what i COULD play, so sat down with my iPod and REMINDED myself of several songs I've not played much which might fit this environment. THUS I went on and did THIS:
  • We Only Ever Meet In Church
  • Chips And Cheese, Pint Of Wine
  • Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid
  • The Perfect Love Song
  • Billy Jones Is Dead
  • It Only Works Because You're Here
  • I Come From The Fens
  • The Peterborough All-Saints' Wide Game Team (Group B)
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths

  • It was REALLY nice. You know how, when you sing in the shower, the natural reverb makes your singing sound LOVELY? In a Church it is like that, but about A MILLION TIMES MORE. I spent the whole gig singing QUIETLY and thinking "But... I have the voice of an ANGEL!" I knew it was an AURAL ILLUSION, but it was a GRATE one.

    Being booze free helped a LOT with the words too, and it was only during I Come From The Fens, when I thought "Wow! I haven't made ANY mistakes yet!" that, as usual, i completely forgot the tune AND words and had to start again.

    Otherwise it all seemed to go pretty well, until I got to the last song. As there were only about nine people there I thought I'd finish the set with Mental Judo, thus ENDING with a similar sort of reference as I'd started with with We Only Ever Meet In Church (and yes, I was VERY pleased with myself when I got the idea of starting with that one). HOWEVER, when I said "Shall I do one more?" Tim The Promoter replied "YES. As long as it's The Lesson Of The Smiths."

    There then followed a LENGTHY debate. I'd deliberately excluded this one from the set because it features BIG SWEARS, and not just occasionally but as part of THE CHORUS! Before we'd started he'd said that we were perfectly free to SWEAR, and that part of the point of doing a gig in a church was to get past the idea that they were places APART from how we'd normally behave. This, I felt, and indeed FEEL, is all very laudable and true, but it's a heck of a lot easier to SAY than it is to DO, and the fact that I didn't want to swear was because it'd make ME feel so uncomfortable. You can't swear in a CHURCH! Someone was wearing a HAT during the gig and THAT was making me feel ANTSY, so using BAD WORDS was a BIG NO NO.

    Eventually we came to a compromise, with Tim joining me on stage as SWEAR STAND-IN. I use the following example to explain: when I saw Peter Hook's band REVENGE at Glastonbury I was AMUSED to see that he had a Work Experience Boy at the back of the stage with a BASS. Peter Hook had clearly NOT been able to get past the DIFFICULTY BARRIER of playing bass and singing at the same time (it is, honestly, REALLY hard) so rather than miss out playing his trademark instrument, so whenever he went up to the microphone he'd stop playing and the LAD would take over, relinquishing BASS CHORES every time he stopped. Tim filled in for me in the same way, singing the "Wankers", "Shit" and "fuckwit" sections with GUSTO.

    It was GRATE, I had a lovely time and sat down to watch Liz William and her lovely singing with a warm glow about me. It was a GOOD evening!

    posted 31/10/2008 by MJ Hibbett

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