Monday, January 05, 2009

“I shot a man in Chinos, just to watch him die”

All aboard The Steamboat, shipmates, for a gentle Sunday afternoon canter through the Songs from The Blue House back catalogue, a spot of light lunch and a couple of cheeky Vimtos before the idea of the whole horrid business of going back to the day job really rears it’s hooves and starts spoiling the view of 2009. The first task to be negotiated is lunch, or ‘breakfast’ as I like to refer to it, after the previous evening’s quiet social night out had lurched into a rather unfortunate impromptu case of “All back to ours” which is generally where the spirits start to come in homemade measures, and although every amount of self delusion can persuade your body that simply topping it up with a generous helping of orange juice makes vodka a health drink at the time, the morning’s tale will be a whole different story. Hence my contribution to the opening number’s “I am playing all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order…” form of presentation. To be fair, it’s difficult enough to remember what order they are supposed to come in after a fairly lengthy lay off anyway, without being encumbered by double vision, cold sweats, querulously shaking hands, and having to grip the guitar neck pretty hard in order not to fall off it half way through. Still, onwards and upwards – the show-off must go on, and so one generous helping of a complete roast chicken dinner is encased within a plate-sized Yorkshire pudding and dished up for the crew (which consists of whichever members of the band have turned up early enough to help assemble the mic stands and get in the way by putting their guitar on the stage before Our Glorious Leader has even managed to wire up and fire up the power amps). This is the sort of generous gesture that really defines the sort of musician’s pub which ensures that you’re (literally) suitably catered for and which will surely be a fond memory by the time the pub chains and their shareholders have finished wringing the last brass farthing out of the ‘industry’ as they see fit. They’re not even charging on the door.
Pre show chatter is a mélange of all the usual band natter and banter – OGL has a new set of PA speakers so box-fresh that they still have the manufacturer’s labels on them, I’m bringing folk up to speed on our sideways venture into the world of soundtracks, and Fiddly has a selection of cheeses which he hasn’t been able to finish over Christmas waiting at home for his tender ministrations and a nice selection of biscuits. Ah yes – the soundtrack! Toward the end of last year we were contacted by Our Beloved Record Company to see if we’d mind a film company in Los Angeles using one of our songs in a scene from their forthcoming movie ‘Coyote County Loser’ – oh, they mentioned, and there was a couple of hundred bucks in it for us too. Naturally we were delighted (at both instances) but since the world economy took a turn for the peaky we’ve been anxiously studying the IMDB for updates that say anything other than ‘in post production’. Lord knows we’re not going to be able to retire on the back of it - Banjoista Turny Winn can’t even do that with the benefit of someone else’s PRS cheques that keep being forwarded to him after an administrative error at The Discovery Channel (it’s alright, he always returns them) - but I’m really looking forward to that bit at the end of the film when the credits are rolling and seeing our name making it’s way slowly up the screen in letters almost too small to be legible.
“Welcome everybody, and thanks to anyone not related to us by birth or marriage for coming along” is my opening gambit. Today, we are seven – the usual suspects plus Reado on percussion, who has brought along a snare, hi-hat, a selection of brushes, split sticks and some heavy shoes with which to stamp on the stage and which he skillfully combines to make a series of surprisingly varied noises depending on what the song demands. “Whatever happens, I’m coming in after four bars” he replies to an enquiry as to how he’s going to play one number and “That’s actually all I’ve been doing so far!” half way through the first set when Our Glorious Leader suggests that the next song might benefit from a skiffle feel. He also, as is generally the privilege of anyone in the band who is sitting down to play, gets to do the solo in ‘Not That Kind of Girl’, which is an entirely creditable effort given the amount of kit available to him at the time and is also, I believe, the first time we’ve featured a drum solo during this segment of the song. Kilbey (“Author!”) steps up to play open tuned guitar on ‘Kings and Gods’ and one of the highlights of the set is the resultant duet on the solo betwixt himself and Our Glorious Leader. By the time the end of the second set is approaching “It’s necessarily short as Reado has to get home for his tea – anyone who’s disappointed can get a full refund at the door” the health-giving properties of vigorous inhalation (for the purposes of supplying backing vocals, natch) and the vibe-enhancing sweet, sweet sound of James’s new speakers have combined to enable me to launch with fair gusto and a considerably reduced possibility of either passing out or throwing up mid song – neither of which are generally recognized as experience-enhancing conditions by our sort of audience –into our closing medley of high energy fiddly-widdly (in ‘G’). “Congratulations” says occasional guest blogger, co-writer, additional guitarist and backing singer Wendell, about to unleash the highest of compliments – “It’s as close to Spirit of The West as you’ve got yet”.

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