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Blog: Totally Acoustic

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I keep saying that part of the idea of podcasting Totally Acoustic is to do an entire TOUR always in the same pub, and I took this one step further/too far this time around by staying in an HOTEL!

As Mr F A Machine was down to play this time we had the slightly WHIMSICAL idea of partly recreating the DELIGHTFUL time we had nearly TEN YEARS AGO when we both came down to London for the weekend of his thirtieth birthday, and stayed in The Hotel California. Yes, it is real, and yes, it is also a lovely place. Also also it is two minutes from St Pancras and ten from The Lamb, so EXTREMELY convenient for our purposes.

THUS I went and got us checked in, and was RELIEVED to find it was actually FINE still, before picking Frankie up from the station. He'd asked for CHIPS for his tea, so we dropped our gear off and made a slight diversion to visit one of the very very few Proper Chip Shops in central London. It's never ceased to amaze me just how few ACTUAL chip shops there are in That London - there's millions of kebab shops, cafes, fast food joints and what not, but if you want ACTUAL chips you need an EXPERT'S KNOWLEDGE. We went to North Sea Fish on Leigh Street, which turned out to be GRATE. The chips tasted like they came from at least 80 miles NORTH of where we actually were! For a brief moment we even thought there were pickled Eggs! They turned out to be onions - that would have been asking too much - but goodness me! Proper chips! IN LONDON!

Duly filled we marched off to the pub... and ran into problems. The room was double booked. I thus entered into twenty minutes of STERNNESS - the bar manager, who was new to the pub, kept showing me the bookings book, where someone had crossed my name out and written "CANCELLED 4/11". "It says cancelled here", he said. "But I didn't cancel it" i said, "It's a mistake at your end!"

It seemed very odd, but it took ages to get across the point that, as I hadn't cancelled it, the fact it SAID cancelled wasn't actually my fault. There was another booking due in for 20 people, and he kept saying he couldn't make a decision between the two, as it would be unfair. I offered to make the decision! I really hate getting all STERN and Middle Class in this sort of situation, but I DID, standing my ground and just about managing not to get angry. After twenty minutes the bloke who'd got the other booking came in. "Hi," he said, as Adrian The Manager and i GIRDED ourselves for a ROW. "We're all quite happy downstairs, so we won't need the room."

PHEW! RELIEF spread around, there was much shaking of hands, and Adrian The Manager and i relaxed into a discussion of GUITARS! I've always known something like this would happen one day, and though I'd rather it HADN'T been on a night when people had travelled from Derby and Brighton to play (and, as it later turned out, from Bristol to watch!) I was relieved to have got through it OK.

With that sorted out we were able to say proper GREETINGS to everyone, then just after half past seven i kicked off with a set that went like THIS:

  • Totally Acoustic
  • Moon Horse
  • Clubbing In The Week
  • The Ballad Of Alan Moore
  • Never Going Back To Aldi's
  • Another Man's Laundry (hanging on your line)
  • Theme From Dinosaur Planet
  • Do The Indie Kid
  • The Perfect Love Song

  • That's an ODD looking set isn't it? I'm trying very hard not to repeat myself over the course of these six gigs, so I've been DELVING back to do some VERY old songs. I started off with two NEW ones though, doing Totally Acoustic acapella to avoid guitar ISSUES (i.e. still not having worked out how to play it) and then a quick BURST of the chorus of Moon Horse, for the purposes of TANTILISATION.

    Both seemed to just about work, as did the rest of the set, but CRIKEY, listening back to it is a strange experience. When i DO gigs I always think "Ah yes, another night when I have spoken clearly, with an easygoing charm, before delivering almost perfect renditions of my songs only very occasionally interrupted for a delightful ad lub!" When i HEAR them I realise i WAFFLE ON for HOURS in a barely comprehensible SLUR, stopping every now and again to mess up a song I clearly only half recall. OH DEAR ME!

    Still, I got through to the end in one piece, though NEXT time i decide to finish with a quiet song, in order to ease a SEGUE into the next ARTISTE, it might be good to do one i've actually PLAYED in the past couple of years.

    For LO! next up was Frankie Machine! He'd been worried about going on between me and Jimmy McGee as, having seen us previously, he suspected he would seem a) quiet b) miserable in comparison. He IS quiet, but, as you'll hear on the podcast, that didn't matter at all as the whole room listened in RAPT SILENCE throughout. As for miserable - crikey, it seems that recent life events have CHEERED him RIGHT up! He did nearly all NEW stuff which, while still full of his usual WRYNESS, THORT and BEAUTIFUL tunesmithery, this time featured HUMOUR! It was FANTASTIC - my absolute favourite was "You're Great" which sat there saying "THIS IS A HIT RECORD!" and which I am ALREADY plotting to NICK, and this was followed straigh away by "The Sexy Dreams Of Frankie Machine" which was INCREDIBLE. It was a MIGHTY set!

    Having been surprised to have MANY LARFS when I'd expected TEARS, things were turned completely back to front when Jimmy did HIS set - anyone who's ever seen The Bobby McGees will know what a FANTASTIC live act they are, so I settled down to be thoroughly AMUSED. Imagine my astonishment then to find myself ACTUALLY CRYING! He was ALSO doing a big pile of new, and it TOO was all brilliant, harking back to the sort of material he used to do when we were in The Fabians. It was still FUNNY, still witty, but also TOUCHING. My word, when he did the one about seeing an old friend back home i was BLUBBING, it was like a twenty first century "Two Little Boys"!

    Luckily he finished off with some ABSOLUTE FILTH which got us back to normal, but CRUMBS! It was a night of Expectations Challenged, also of HIGH QUALITY SONGWRITING!

    After the music a small group of us gathered for DEBATE and REFLECTION, LARFS and BEER before there were hugs and Frankie and I strolled back to the hotel. A decade ago we'd crashed parties and gone clubbing, THIS time we got a can of LAGER and a sandwich each before sitting up for a while, having a bit of an old chat. It was, to be honest, even nicer!

    posted 9/11/2010 by MJ Hibbett

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    An excellent night, thoroughly enjoyed all three sets.
    posted 9/11/2010 by Matt

    Another brilliant one, Mark. Thanks! My crush on Mr Machine is still going strong. Sorry, Rob.
    posted 11/11/2010 by Marianthi

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