Saturday, July 05, 2008

Mallrats...

Hot news in The Blue House as our download-only single (Don't Fear) The Reaper bursts into online radio station The Big L's top forty with a bullet, or whatever means of propulsion is necessary to get a track at number thirty three and have Mike Read say "It's good". With the heady hand of success ruffling our hair, bass player Gibbon and I decamp to meet up with the rest of Songs from The Blue House at the Liberty Festival. In Romford. In a shopping mall. When Our Glorious Leader and I came up with a few hokey country tunes of our own I think we envisaged lazily strumming our way through them at a few bucolic beer festivals sat on hay bales, a refreshing pint of foaming ale to hand but fate is a fickle mistress, and a dreadful housekeeper, and so we find ourselves in a disused shop in a monument to mammon, waiting for Mungo Jerry to finish their set so we can hoist ourselves up onto the stage and whack out a faux-bluegrass cover of a (the) Blue Oyster Cult hit. While we wait for the unmistakable refrain of "In The Summertime" to echo out in the booming cathedral of commerce (surely heralding a call to arms for us) we amuse ourselves by spotting shop signs - "Sale shoes, £10 a pair or two for £15" is one, and in another fashion shop a notice advises "Female Upstairs. Lift at rear". Blimey, I didn't think it was that kind of shop. Meanwhile, Fiddly contemplates his grubby knees sorrowfully while spritzing his fiddling hand with a handy bottle. "I've spat on 'em up on the roof, but nuthin' seems to shift 'et" he says. "What's in that bottle?" asks someone. "Water" he replies. "Well, um, why don't you use that on your knees?". He is delighted by this train of lateral thinking. "They're good knees, they've seen me through a lot" he declaims proudly. "I bet you don't get this backstage with Duran Duran" remarks banjo- wrangler Turny Winn with no little measure of pride.
Afore too long the unmistakable jug band stylings of "In The Summertime", albeit filtered through the blues-rock kaleidoscope of the current line up, are ringing through the halls, and we push out gear-laden shopping trollies to the stage area in time to see a spirited run through a Tina Turner number, complete with guitar, bass, keyboard and drum solos. There is a brief discussion as to whether the singer is Ray Dorsey or Dorset, but whatever the name, he's in remarkably good shape, all in black, and washboard of stomach, although one onlooker rather unkindly remarks that he's bearing not so much a six pack as a buy-four-get-two-free pack. In undeniably good voice and grinning from ear to ear throughout though. He happily signs autographs and poses for camera phone pictures and slopes off to the artists area, or disused shop for a well earned rest.
Soundcheck over, we immediately ignore our own advice to keep chat to a minimum due to the well-like acoustics rendering any announcement well-nigh unintelligable and kick in to the set. A couple of feet finders, and then new songs "Rolling and Tumbling", courtesy principally of the delivery of OGL and TT on pianner does the remarkable trick of momentarily bringing the spirit of New York at christmas in a Romford shopping centre in July, remarkable work I think you'll agree. "Not That Kind of Girl", a feisty grrrl power pop song delivered by the Fragrant and Charming La Mulley, and decrying the placing of spiritual value on material things is similarly succesful in denying the incongriguity of the venue of it's delivery, and by the time we hoist out my "Special Kind of Love" even I am moved to pay tribute to the nearby branch of La Perla as it closes its shutters ("I'm a big fan of your work"). Whack out the single, close with big emo number "Risk" and we feel like we've come, seen, and if not conquered, then at least made our own little contribution to righting the karma slightly. All credit to the people who put the whole thing together, ran the battle of the bands competition, compered, and helped bring real music into place. The crew are splendidly kind as they pack up the stage and prepare for tomorrow's challenge - it's The Real Thing. For us, it's Ipswich music day, and the threat of inclemency. Will the rain gods look kindly on our works and reward us, or are we going to be playing to a muddy park and umbrellas. Again?

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