Thursday, February 25, 2010

“Like Gibbon, she dances across the porch as the radio plays…”

It is always an intriguing time, the gestation of a new band. From concept to concert, there are any number of pitfalls and pratfalls that can easily beset the righteous man on all sides. When Bob Geldof compared getting The Who back together for Live Aid as being like reuniting a man and his three ex-wives he wasn’t exaggerating for effect. I myself have recently gone through a very painful period of adjusting to the fact that a couple of my metaphorical ex-wives have moved on and are now in a perfectly happy relationship with someone new. I see them on the street in company sometimes, and it still pains my heart to watch them together – going to all the old places we used to, doing the things we used to do, seeing the people we used to see, but, you know, I’ve moved on, we all have.

*Sniffs, reaches theatrically for monogrammed handkerchief, dabs eyes*

And so, in pursuit of closure, and having found myself with a bit of spare time on my hands, I rustled up a couple of old chums and threw an idea at them. How about the concept of a floating band, with no real permanent members, who could take on classic albums, one reissue at a time, perform them in their entirety and then move on to the next? The idea appealed, and so in a nervous, baby steps sort of way we set ourselves a deadline and decided that we would perform three numbers from Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run in March at Helstock, the now annual celebration of the Diva’s Diva - La Mulley, out of Songs from The Blue House. We gathered together in The Blue Room at McGinty’s, made sure everything was tuned up, turned on and nailed down, and took our first tentative steps through the Backstreets toward Jungleland. Obviously this wasn’t a complete throwing together of strangers forced by necessity and/or penury to take any job that came their way, as can so often be the case with musicians, so we all had some common ground between us, but it was really grand to be in the sort of situation where the fine line between deprecation and dedication was admirably negotiated and, since everyone had done their homework, the whole get together was smoothly accomplished. By the end of the night we had passable working versions of three songs and a couple of pints of Guinness each in our slipstream. For a one-off Wednesday night’s work, that’s not bad going. The benefits of working in a warm, great-sounding and relaxed environment obviously include easy access to a bar, a smoking area, friendly and hospitable hosts and the sort of toilets that have both flyers for a Chap Hop event (that sounds a terrifically interesting concept, and one I made a mental note to explore further) and graffiti in the cubicles extolling the virtues of The Go Betweens. I mean if I had to quibble over the details I might say that access and egress is a bit limited, but then I catch sight in the mirror of a fleeting half-glimpse of myself from the Eighties, and remind myself not to be such a doddering old fool. It’s just that the car park’s rammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive

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