Friday, March 21, 2008

In between days off

A two in a rower for the mighty Picturehouse this week, as we kick off the Bank Holiday weekend by rocking a blustery Felixstowe and then continue our tourette with a trip to uncharted waters in darkest Essex, quite liderally mate, as we are scheduled to play on Mersea Island which is linked to the rest of Essex by causeway, and visitors are advised that during spring tides the place is temporarily cut off. It is, I confess, a first for me in having to check tide tables before embarking on the voyage to the gig but fortunately bass player Kilbey has done his homework and advises that the sea reaches its height at one in the morning, and frankly if we’re not out by then something has gone seriously wrong with our timekeeping. Speaking of timekeeping, an adventure in the land of the forgotten for Frisky Pat yesterday as it temporarily slipped his mind that one of his duties for Thursday’s gig was to collect the PA speakers from my house on his way. Oh, and also Stalker Bertie, who was joining us for the trip, what with him having some shady social connections in The ‘Stowe. It wasn’t until Pat was happily setting up his drum kit at the venue that Kilbey, with that razor-sharp mind for which he is so justly renowned, noticed that the big black boxes we use to sing through weren’t anywhere to be seen. As an afterthought, he also remembered something about Bertie – no offence should be implied that he was an afterthought, but then we don’t take him to every gig, whereas the PA is a fairly integral component in the performance. With a sigh and a shrug, our drummer sped off into the night to collect his passenger and freight, only to be called half way there by our increasingly Holmesian bass player who spotted that he hadn’t got any cymbals either. Poor Bertie, who was just expecting a quick ride to the show, detouring only past the KFC fine fried chicken emporium (other fat food outlets are available) for supper ended up in a real life version of Grand Turismo and although we estimate that he must have been driven past the Colonel’s around five or six times, he never actually got to stop off there. I hid my empty carton carefully away from him, for Neighbour Neil and I had indeed had time to call in on the way – and there was me thinking that I was going to be holding things up.
The show took the recent guitar-centric direction rather well, and with this only being our third or fourth actual full new-line-up outing it was good to feel things slotting together more comfortably, front line banter being more relaxed, Barry The Trill and I finding our levels together (generally one louder…) and, jings! A whole moshpit dancing audience! A new one for us, so perhaps all this testosterone-charge guitar frottage is the way to go after all? Nice to have a report from the front line from returning ex-front man Wendell, whose appraisal of the Foo Fighters number was considerably enhanced by having seen them a week previously at The L.A. Forum – apparently our version measured up reasonably favourably which is a credit to all that hard work slaving over a hot YouTube. In the old days you used to have to work out the chords yourself, you know! Oh yes. These days it’s possible to simply punch in a song title and study the footage to see where the shapes should go. Thus I was able to discern that the distinctive guitar figure in Long Road To Ruin was achieved partially by moving the chord inversion to the fifth fret, and partly by having ex-Germs and Nirvana guitarist Pat Smear just over your shoulder helping you out, a luxury I was sadly unable to employ, although Wendell did mention that I had the guitar tone exactly right. Which is nice, but a pure happy coincidence. And also good to hear that the crowd were indeed responding to our entreaties to “help us out on the chorus” (from the Boys Own Book of Big Rock Cliches, number 34). By the time Neighbour Neil pogoes across the stage and back again like Mr Punch on legs unleashed by a particularly refreshed puppeteer during the last number, we’d acquitted our selves jolly well, notwithstanding the stress undergone by Frisky Pat as a combatant and the almost equal stress experienced by Stalker Bertie as his passenger, which is always nice when you’ve come out on a Thursday night not really in the mood. Ah, the healing power of song.
As we pack up Kilbey relates the exchange he’s had with an enthusiastic punter who is asking on behalf of his friend, who is either too shy, too full of himself or too genuinely apologetic to speak for himself – we are, at this stage, none the wiser. And I quote;
“You see my mate over there?”
“He’s the UK human beatbox champion – can he get up and do a song with you?”
“Can he do one on his own?”
“Well, you’ve got to ask, haven’t you?”
“Um, on reflection, no”.
The thing is, I’m sure this is the second time this has happened. So, all round, a good show, a rocking gig, a loud foray into new and guitar-loaded territory. At the end, a girl is haranguing our ex-singer who has been enjoying the show from the other side of the footlights. “That song you used to do, the Five one, what was it called, they don’t know it, you see…?”. You can check out any time you like, it seems, but you can never leave….

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