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Blog: A Church Hall Of Sound

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I headed off once again for LEICESTER last night, but LEICESTER was not the end point of my journey - once safely there i HIKED across town to the bus station, where i was SURPRISED by people in the CAFE Actually Being Quite Friendly. I thought it was some WEIRDO PSYCHO LOON who said "It's cold isn't it - where's your gloves then?" but then remembered that i was in LEICESTER, land of FRIENDLY PEOPLE!

The bus came and we headed out into the DEEP DEEP DARKNESS that is rural Leicestershire, through Cropston, Anstey, Rothely and more until we finally arrived in WOODHOUSE EAVES, and after a short walk i found myself outside the CHURCH HALL, venue for our Christmas Gig a week on Saturday, and thus ALSO the venue for our Dress Rehearsal.

Going inside was AMAZING. Cosmopolitan gadabout that i am these days it is a LONG time since I've been in a Church Hall, so the sudden WAVE of familiarity came as something of a shock. It SMELT exactly like these places always do, and it SOUNDED the same, like being underneath an echoing sheet of Repectful Quiet. The stage was set up just like the stage used to be in St Barnabas Church Hall in Peterborough, where we'd go every year for the Church Fete. My Grandad was born on Christmas Day, and as a large-ish extremely JOLLY chap he would always be Father Christmas, sat on the stage listening to kids tell him what they wanted. Going up the steps at the side of the stage last night, it all came back to me, and as I looked out into the Hall itself I could point out the area where my Nan and my Mum always had their white elephant stall. Later on Emma went into the kitchen to find some cups, and we all ended up drinking Pepsi Cola out of porcelain tea cups. Also later Tom found one of those old super-bouncy rubber balls, which I GLEEFULLY bounced around the room, reliving the excitement of doing EXACTLY the same thing in the All Saints Church Hall where I went to cubs... MAN, it all came flooding in. The most moving for me was on the way home, when I realised that my lips and mouth had gone dry from, I guess, the dust in the room, in PRECISELY the same way they used to after cubs when i was TINY. Sat in the car I felt as if we were driving down Huntley Grove at 9pm on a Wednesday evening, to get our traditional post-cubs tea of CHIPS.

It was all very nostalgic, and I fear I may have stood around BREATHING IT IN when I should perhaps have been helping Tim set things up... Rob soon arrived and between us we got things vaguely together, and then Tom turned up with John The Soundman to set things up a bit less vaguely, and Emma arrived bearing four way adaptors. I got all moved and mushy again shortly after that - it had looked like we might only have one microphone, but then through a combination of INGENUITY and Tom Having An Adaptor things got sorted out, and soon all SIX of us were busily beavering away, getting things set up in this GRATE room. I stood looking up at everyone else on the stage working away and thought "WOW! I absolutely LOVE this band - this is FANTASTIC!" for indeed it was. Later on Tom and I excitedly talked about all the brilliant ROCK things that have happened this year, but really for me the most JOYFUL and LOVELY thing is that we as a band get to hang around and do daft/brilliant things like do a dress rehearsal in a village hall for a christmas gig. It was lovely.

Anyway, we got set up and got going, and it was STRANGE. John, Tom AND Rob all checked, and ALL of them said things sounded good from the hall, but up on stage things sounded ODD and DISCONNECTED. This was because of the gigantic empty ECHO CHAMBER we were playing in to, also because we had no monitors so we couldn't hear the singing (I have a VERY sore throat today!), and also I guess because of the general WEIRDNESS of the setting, but we did eventually get ourselves going and poor old John had to listen to quite possibly the LONGEST soundcheck in ROCK history - as well as revisiting "Never Going Back To Aldi's","Quality Of Life Enhancement Device", "The Lesson Of The Smiths" and "The Gay Train" (all up for a FULL BAND DEBUT), we did "Things'll Be Different", "The Symbol Of Our Nation", "Give Us A Kiss (for Christmas)", "Billy Jones Is Dead", "Easily Impressed", "Hey Hey 16K", "Payday Is The Best Day", "You Will Be Hearing From My Solicitor" and "City Centres" - ALL of which, along with "Fat Was A Feminist Issue", we intend to do on the night.

So if you're coming, bring a cushion.

FINALLY we ended, having got to sound Pretty GOOD i think by the end, packed up, and headed into the night. Tom and I enjoyed a fairly common sensation when travelling together i.e. Being Vaguely LOST, and we happily REGALED John with tales of OTHER occasions when this has happened, NONE of which, i pointed out, had ended in grisly murder or DOOM, as yet. We dropped him off and then PELTED across Urban Leicester to make it JUST in time for the end of Sorted Supremo Dave Dixey's Birthday Drinks, which was nice, before heading back to Tom's for a nice cup of tea and the aforemention AGREEING with each other about how MAD this year just gone has been.

It was, all in all, a LOVELY evening, and I'm now officially EXCITED about the prospects for the gig itself. I was LESS excited, mind you, to be getting up at 6.30 and almost immediately having to walk to the train station - the sun didn't come up until we got to Market Harborough! It was DARK!

posted 30/11/2004 by MJ Hibbett

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