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Blog: The Final Night Of The Tour - Birmingham

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On the second (FINAL) day of the tour I woke up to a TEXT from Mr Chris T-T, who'd been also playing in Bristol the previous night. We arranged a MEET UP and so I found myself at 11:30am struggling up an ENORMOUS HILL to the Boston Tea Party cafe for a SUMMIT ... on a SUMMIT!

I was soon joined by Chris and Ms Laura Kidd, who is TOURING with him, and a little while later by Gavin, and OH WHAT A TALK we all had. It was BRILLIANT - you know when you're yacking away and someone says "OOh, we should go really" but it's all SO INTERESTING you just keep on going until, 15 minutes later someone says it again but... well, you get the idea. SHOP was very heartily TALKED, some DELICIOUS BREAKFASTS and coffee were consumed, and new FRIENDSHIPS were ablossom. It was GRATE - meeting and chatting to COLLEAUGUES like this is usually one of the BEST BITS of ANY gig, so it was fab to get an extra bonus bit in!

We finally said our farewells and me and Gav went DOWNHILL to the railway station, for a most pleasant trip to Birmingham which FLEW by in a WHIRL of FURTHER CHAT. Goodness me but Mr Osborn has had an Interesting Career, I never knew the half of it! He never knew the half of what I was banging on about either, but LUCKILY FOR HIM i TOLD him!

We were booked into The Britannia Hotel, which Mr Frankie Machine had described as "Adequate and Cheap". Reviews online had been APPALLING but we found it to be, well, ADEQUATE. It was the kind of vast lump of CONCRETE that Birmingham City Centre used to be famous for, and had clearly seen MUCH better days, but apart from having the THINNEST WALLS I've ever experienced in a hotel it was FINE.

Mind you, when Frankie arrived he found himself in reception with a man shouting "THIS IS THE WORST HOTEL EVER!!!" so maybe I was just too full of the joys of THE ROAD to judge correctly? While he (Frankie, not the angry man) went to get checked in the rest of the party retired to Harvey's Bar, where Happy Hour mean LUDICROUSLY cheap drinks - which is probably why it attracted several NE'ER DO WELLS who were almost immediately CHUCKED OUT. It was EXCITING!

Frankie came downstairs, further TALES were exchanged (including an EXCELLENT one Gav had heard the night before from Mr Graeme Garden about Larry Adler - it was SHOWBIZ!) and we hopped into a taxi and out to The Station pub in Kings Heath.

They sold Butcombe Bitter on tap. Three grown men thus spent the rest of the evening saying "Mmm, i love the taste of Butcombe" AGANE AND AGANE. Life On The Road!

Mr R Kirkham, PROMOTER, arrived shortly after us with a DELICIOUS pile of GRUB, we set the room out, and a CROWD gradually arrived. It was a proper crowd too, it was ACE!

Ray had been worried about people talking, so asked me to, basically, COMPERE, so I could tell people NOT to. As it happened nearly everyone was FINE - the only exception being the pals of the BAR STAFF, who didn't seem to realise we could here them. I never understand this - it's happened a few times when doing Totally Acoustic stuff, everyone else is mega polite, but the bar staff (who've SURELY worked during gigs before) YAK AWAY.

It was fine really tho - it only happened a couple of times, and during my set I did STERN LOOKS and QUIETNESS and it stopped, it just felt a bit ODD!

ANYWAY the evening kicked off with Mr David Leach, who did a GRATE set on his ukelele. He was brilliant, even tho he almost LOST the audience by doing a song about how he used to think TWENTY TWO was old. You could HEAR a whole section of the room GROAN, and following it up with "I'm 26 now tho" didn't really help! He was ACE tho, and we did a CD swap later, leading me to have a KNITTED CD case!

Frankie went second and held the room in the palm of his hand, with them all craning forward to get every drop of his beautiful songs. "Black Eyes" and "How Grate Thou Art" stood out, as did closing with a song about HIS BOY which... well, you'll have to hear it, it's the sort of song only HE could write, being beautiful, sentimental, and ASTOUNDINGLY BLUNT all at once!

Mr Osborn came on third and won over THE LOT. As I said before, I can't understand why The Indie COmmunity hasn't taken him as one to their BOSOM, WRESTLING him from a world of Comedy Type Gigs and claiming him as OURS. He was, as ever, touching, funny, and DELIGHTFUL in equal measure. And then I went on and - HO! - spoilt the mood by doing THIS:
  • My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once
  • The Stores Of Not To Be
  • The Perfect Love Song
  • It Only Works Because You're here
  • IT Guy Addendum
  • Strangely Attractive
  • Theme From Dinosaur Planet
  • Hey Hey 16K
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • Boom Shake The Room

  • I THOROUGHLY enjoyed it - after YEARS of SHOWS and ALBUMS it's lovely being FREE to do whatever I want to play, and I'm particularly happy about bringing IT Guy Addendum into the live set, doing Strangely Attractive all by myself (it works!) and getting an ACTUAL NEW SONG involved in the shape of The Stores Of Not To Be. It was FUN all round, for me at least, and the room seemed to quite like it too. GOOD TIMES!

    There was more conversation and HUGS before it was time to go for the TOUR CURRY we'd promised ourselves. Ray took us to one nearby which turned out to be CLOSED, and so we HOPPED in a taxi and asked to be taken to FOOD. The driver recommended Dirwan Balti, which we'd been to YEARS before, so that's where we went. The food was FANTASTIC, but after a few minutes we realised that it was a Bring Your Own Beer place, and we were there LONG after the closure of all off-licences.

    A strange MATURITY took hold (which, to be frank, was very little in evidence from our conversation at this point!) and we all realised this might not be such a bad idea, and so the evening - and, indeed, the TOUR - ended with us swapping stories over curry and glasses of WATER. We taxied back to the hotel full of a) food b) JOY, and said our farewells, ready for different journey times next day.

    It was a BLOODY LOVELY couple of days, seeing LOTS of pals, talking LOTS of nonsense, and drinking a surprisingly UNLUDICROUS amount of BEER. Let's do it again some time chaps!

    posted 20/4/2012 by MJ Hibbett

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    Quick search reveals that Rory Bremner has told the Larry Adler anecdote twice in his New Statesman column attributing it to John Fortune in both cases. No mention of Lionel Bart though. I think what this means is that YOU can now re-tell it and credit who you like.
    posted 20/4/2012 by Rob

    It could've been Lionel Blair. Or Lionel Ritchie. I was consumed by starstruckery. Thanks for the blog, Mark. Great tour too. Same time next year?
    posted 23/4/2012 by Gavin

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