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Blog: An Exceptionally Busy Weekend

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You find me today WORN OUT, physically, emotionally, and geographically, as I have ROCKED the LENGTH (tho not, to be honest, much of the breadth) of this fair nation of ours, all within the past few short days.

On Friday I was in SHEFFIELD, to play at a benefit for No Sweat (who campaign against sweat shops). It was happening in a sort of abandoned factory SPACE that's been taken over by a local collective... er... for some reason that I read about on a poster but have since forgotten. Anyway, it was a GROOVY building, with lots of stairs and mysterious rooms, but it was a BIT COLD. The people organising it were NOT normally gig organisers, so as is the way of such things it was all a bit HECTIC but everything worked out rather nicely in the end. I hit the stage just before nine o'clock and did THIS:
  • The Peterborough All-Saints' Wide Game Team (Group B)
  • Sod It, Let's Get Pissed
  • The Girl Who...
  • The Fight For History
  • Billy Jones Is Dead
  • Fucking Hippy
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • Easily Impressed
  • Boom Shake The Room

  • It's still FAIRLY standard Uberset, but there ARE a couple of songs not played for a while in there - INDEED I was rather surprised to find it's the first time I've done "The Girl Who..." in The Live Arena for a couple of years, and I also did the Exciting New Arrangement of "Sod It, Let's Get Pissed" that I worked out the other night whilst - oh my! - PRACTICING. It seemed to go down quite well, as did the whole thing, really. The only odd thing was the people who were listening were at the back, and the people talking were down the front. Now, i must make clear and explicit that i have no objection WHATSOEVER to people talking at gigs, I HATE it when you go to a gig and people TELL YOU OFF for wishing to interact with other living breathing human beings, and after all if you have paid to get into the room it's up to you what you do when you get there. It just surprises me that people inconvenience themselves by trying to talk right next to the PA system, when it's much easier just to go to the back and chat, especially when that's where THE BAR is. THE KIDS! Harken to my wisdom!

    Anyway, it was all lovely and I very much enjoyed it, the only thing that disturbed me was that it was SO VERY COLD that i couldn't play with my FINGERS like normally and had to clench a plectrum. GIG DONE I hung around and chatted to the lovely people there for a bit, before getting my gear together to head for Offbeat, only stopping for a quick chat with a gentleman of similar age to me to discuss recent political developments e.g. The Tories becoming more like Human Beings, especially when stood next to Labour Politicians. It is, we agreed, a world gone mad.

    My next stop, a mere half hour later that evening via SUPERTRAM, was legendary Indie Disco OFFBEAT. It takes place in a sort of cupboard just off the main Student Night, so it's like a TELEPORTER ACCIDENT of DISCO, with both evenings intersecting at the toilets. You leave a room full of lovely, slightly twee, people dancing to The Cure and find yourself in a huge sweaty room with much louder indecipherable music playing, urinate next to insanely drunk people in "smart" shirts, then walk past a parade of women dressed in masking tape and ribbons to get back. It was WEIRD.

    Offbeat itself was GRATE tho - i got to see LOADS of the lovely SHEFFIELD MASSIVE, many of whom were a bit surprised to see me, and enjoyed the latest exciting innovation in Disco Technology: THE LIVE SETLIST. They'd set up a video projector, so every time they played a new song the band and song title appeared on it. After a while everyone had got used to it, and automatically turned to look at what was playing every time something new started. It was like Disco Dancing with THE RED BUTTON from the telly, and certainly cut down on many minutes of wasted dancing/drinking time. No more prevaricating, wandering if it was the song you thought or something much worse, the answer appeared before your very eyes!!

    Also I scored FASHION POINTS by wearing my lovely new "Books RULE!" t-shirt from Scary-Go-Round. Many many times people came up to me GRINNING. I was just about to say, "Yes, you're right, it is ME!" for LO! i have played SHeffield A LOT, hopefully soon it will be part of the DEGREE CEREMONY to have a singalong to "Easily Impressed", so i was ready to be recognised, but every time people said "Ooh! I like your t-shirt!"

    Next day I was back in London for a few hours before heading down to BRIGHTON. I was playing with The Lovely Brothers at The Marlborough Theatre, and walking there took me past THE PAVILION. It's great, The Brighton Pavilion, especially lit up so that you can see how UTTERLY LUDICROUS it is. I like it A LOT.

    I like Brighton too, especially when it is being VERY BRIGHTON like it was on Saturday night. As soon as I left the station the warm smell of MARIJUANA hit me, and followed me through the streets, where Men did kiss each other, percussion bands performed in doorways, and the clothes were all home knitted. The pub below the theatre was a proper Lesbian Bar too, and I even considered DANCING in it, in homage to Jonathan Richman but... um... it didn't seem appropriate. It was a LOVELY pub, and the beer was MIGHTY FINE. I REMARKED, later on during the gig, that it was a teenage dream of mine to find such a pub, PACKED with women, but it didn't seem to go down very well.

    The gig was GOOD though - it felt like a TOUGH CROWD to start with, as people didn't seem to know what to make of me. That's the only explanation i can think of for my between song GAGS to fall so flat (and there were a LOT of them), but towards the end i feel they had WARMED. My favourite bit was the new version of "Sod It, Let's Get Pissed", which some people got so excited about they even JOINED IN, it was ACE. Here's that setlist in full:
  • The Peterborough All-Saints' Wide Game Team (Group B)
  • Sod It, Let's Get Pissed
  • Hey Hey 16K
  • The Drummer's Lament
  • The Fight For History
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • Clubbing In The Week
  • Easily Impressed
  • Boom Shake The Room

  • Again, it was fairly uberset-ISH, but with some new stuff stuck in. I had a LOT of fun doing it, I must say, but i fear I went on a bit long so the Lovely Brothers had to DASH on stage. They were ACE, as ever - they were a bit quiet on stage, but this did not stop the last song, "Elixir Of Life" being a complete EPIC. My drinking companion, Jimmy From The Bobby McGees, was moved by this to comment that it was a fallacy to say that PUNK could only ever be a few-chord THRASH, as that song managed to be both PUNK and INCREDIBLY MUSICALLY EXCITING, which is not band going for a song which is basically about drinking cheap cider.

    Afterwards there was much lurking around in the BAR downstairs and joyous CHAT, before heading off for a KIP on a rather nice air-bed. Next morning I was up early to head for home, rather pleased with how the weekend was progressing and ESPECIALLY happy to have little or no hangover, due to the DELICIOUS beer at The Marlborough.

    I got home, bathed, and had an AFTERNOON NAP, for LO! i was knackered. The ROCK of the weekend had yet to finish its business with me, however, and in the evening The Sand On My Seafront and I were of to ISLINGTON, to see Frankie Machine play at The Buffalo Bar. There was a queue outside to get in - EERIE, as the LAST time i had queued to get into a gig like this was several years ago at the Garage... in ISLINGTON... when I'd been to see FRANKIE MACHINE. Spooky huh?

    We queued with Mr John Kell and his GIG PAL Dan, and had a very illuminating discussion re. Liberal Democrats. I voted for Chris Huhne, and was quite excited to hear that MY GUY might win - we shall see. Once inside we soon found a Slightly Nervous Francis Albert, nervous not least because the place was rapidly becoming PACKED.

    I too was filled with SYMPATHETIC FEAR, which was alleviated somewhat when he did an ACE version of "Black Eyes" to start with. I FELT HIS PAIN over the next few songs, however, when his lovely songs were accompanied by some CHAT at the back of the room. As i say, i have no objection to this, but it can be a bit UNNERVING when you're onstage, and i felt his pain ESPECIALLY when he said "You probably can't even hear what I'm playing".

    We COULD hear tho, and this was good as he then took the GIG BULL by the ROCK HORNS. Rather than a) GIVING IN TO FEAR or b) having a bit of a STROP he c) took out a plectrum and started playing LOUD. This was still Frankie Machine, mind, so it was still TUNES, WISTFUL SADNESS and EXTREME RUDENESS, but now suddenly with POWER. He was really really good, WRESTED control of the gig, MADE people listen, and by JOVE sang with a lot of HEART in them there vocals, so that by the end he was able to do "54th & 3rd" and "My Funny Valentine", two VERY quiet songs, and have pretty much the whole room HANGING on his words. It was REALLY GOOD, and i felt we had borne witness to a bit of a MOMENT in ROCK.

    Not long afterwards we headed home, where i was very happy to hit THE DUVET, for i was done in. It had been a LONG weekend, but by golly it had been GRATE!

    posted 20/2/2006 by MJ Hibbett

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