Monday, July 28, 2008

Shall I compare ‘Tree’ to a summer’s day?

I was considering not writing anything at all about yesterday’s beer festival show in Heacham (pronounced ‘Heem’)* in an “If a gig happens in a forest and nobody blogs about it, did it really happen?” fashion or simply just writing that it was so perfect that I was adopting La Mulley’s policy of keeping it all in her head, all pristine and untarnished, and not daring or bearing to look at the camcorder footage but then I reasoned that in doing that I’d be referring to it anyway. I’m sure there’s some sort of proposition which deals with this sort of thing – Foucalt’s Third Theorem of Theremin or some such, there’s bound to be. Still, after having shared the pain of an ex-member of Picturehouse who was mourning the fate of his creation at a wedding gig last week – “That’s not band I formed…” it was nice to be able to reflect that SftBH in its current stripe is exactly the band I wanted to form. Admittedly there was slightly less focus on three-way onstage monitor splits in the early days, and even Turny Winn was moved to comment that when he thought he was joining a nice folk/country/blues/pop acoustic autonomous collective (it isn’t, it’s a benevolent dictatorship, but as with all such successful regimes, the trick is to keep that bit from the proletariat. Or, as we call him, the fiddle player) he thought he might just turn up to gigs with his banjo, and here he now was in a people carrier humping (figuratively speaking) a couple of PA speakers, three guitar cases, a bass player, and a guitarist who appeared to have brought along the Sunday papers to help while away the journey (guilty as charged m’lud).
The show itself was really quite special – let me count the ways. The sound was great – I think I may be developing a mid-life obsession with having to hear properly on stage after literally decades of being grateful if I can even catch a low rumbling sound to indicate that the bass amp has at least been turned on. People, please believe that when I promise that if the Tertiary Donna up on the catwalk at your next festival gig is holding up proceedings for five minutes or so insisting on certain tweaks and turns in what seems to be a one-sided conversation with the ether, trust me, you’ll thank him for it in the long run. Good onstage sound equals porky prime cuts of performance off it, and the only thing that cheered Fiddly up more at a scorching hot Heem than having a monitor screaming violin-based foldback at him was the opportunity to concurrently have a nice cooling electric fan pointing up his shorts. He is a man of simple pleasures. We all are, aside from La Mulley who as an Oxford graduate sophisticate demands so much more from life than the rest of us. Oh, and is a girl. Whereas a certain proportion of the group find that simply being asked by the chap manning the barbecue to notify him when there are three songs left in the first set so that he knows when to put their steaks on (“I like mine rare” shouts Turny in response “Give it until the guitar solo in the last number”), our resident Diva demands more from life. Only such challenges such as expanding her harmonica repertoire by 50% in one sound check sitting (she now knows two songs, or six notes in total) can satisfy her continual thirst for knowledge, power, and good punctuation (she is one of those people who refer to Lynne Truss as ‘a lightweight’ and reading this sort of thing usually brings on a dull thudding pain in her temples and makes starburst flashes start to appear behind her contacts)… But it’s not all about onstage jokes, free food and relaxing into an abruptly terminated version of Born to Run in a marquee in an English country pub garden (although to be fair that does take up quite a large proportion of our time). Never, if you will, mind the bucolic - here’s Songs from The Blue House.



*It isn’t, except among the occupants of one particular people carrier somewhere on the A149 on that particular Sunday.

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