Sunday, April 02, 2006

Hearts of Royal Oak

A kinda old/new venue for us - we haven't played here since The Star Club days when it was generally on a sunday lunchtime and to people either working on, or recovering from, a hangover. Or both. It's now all stripped pine, bright lights, but still a tiny stage, so The Drummer and The Bass Player commandeer that and the talent hangs out at the front. The brightness of venue is often a good indicator of how the night is going to go. A dark, sticky-carpeted smoky hole of a place often means that we're in for a rough time of it repartee-wise, but the honest denizens of such insalubrious places are usually quite seasoned gig goers, and if you can avoid being buttonholed in the gents'* as to why or how you should play (say) some Wishbone Ash, are usually among the most appreciative of a band that can play all the right notes in mostly the right order (which thankfully we usually manage, nineteen songs out of twenty) and aren't shy about letting you know. Conversely, of course, if you bugger it up, they're not inclined to keep their feelings to themselves either. Brightly lit places, on the other hand can be restrictive in terms of letting one's hair figuratively down and it can take a while to warm up. It's tough to be the only one applauding a version of Haircut 100's "Fantastic Day" if everyone can see you're the only one doing it. Still buoyed on the success of last night's performance however, we launch straight in and are rewarded early on by some (albeit seated) jiggering, singing along and appreciative applause, and sometimes that's all it takes to get you going. It's always nice to see tha bar staff singing along because, despite protestations to the contrary by many vociferous audience members throughout the years, they are the ones you have to impress - after all, the guys serving drinks are the ones who keep the diary with the magical rebookings in. A corking show, chums, with very few wrong notes at all. The Singer still enjoys catching up with his reading during the show, and has to be dissuaded that his vocals were much stronger yesterday, the reasoning being that the six or seven pints of Guinness may have affected both his performance and perception of events, and I enjoy throwing (variously) power grabs, devil horns and clenched fists (while on bass) - all to impress veteran metal fan and friend Stalker Bertie, it has to be said. Or so I claim. To be honest, there are parts of the set where one is simply a kid in front of the mirror with a tennis racket again, albeit a particularly loud tennis racket and one which takes a lot shorter time to check the tension on all of the strings. The end of show "Fat Bottomed Girls" is developing inexorably from joke encore to rock workout - "Helter Skelter" is now making regular appearances, and fret frottage among the guitar players is legion. "Good riffage" was one post gig comment, as was "It's alright, The Boss likes you" - this is not a reference to Springsteen dropping in on Felixstowe Road, but a go-ahead for the wedding reception we'd been tentatively booked for in August. Although how Granny and the Aunties will take to "I Predict A Riot" remains to be seen. We have all coincidentally turned up in black tops - The Bass Player's sports the legend "Who's The Daddy", and The Other Guitarist's bears a large image of Gene Simmons, which leads to minor hilarity when it is revealed that when packing up and carrying gear to the cars he has been genuinely startled by a ghostly and demonic image rearing up before him which turns out to be a reflection of his t-shirt in the rear window of his car highlighted by the pub's security lights. The drummer chews phlegmatically on a chicken burger from the takeaway two doors down and remarks sadly "....and they make jokes about drummers....."

*no, it's not a euphemism, potty-mouth....

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