Monday, April 14, 2014

“When we started putting this set list together The Kaiser Chiefs were still in the charts…”

So, that’s happened then. Part reunion, part birthday, wholly celebratory, The Picturehouse Big Band’s 2014 foray into playing that fast thing (one more time) went as swimmingly as any of us had dared hope, especially given that only one of our number is still treading the boards with any regularity. The rest of us shrugged off the weight of our advancing years (“I kept my eyesight, they kept their hair…”) in order to shake some action, surprising not only our grizzled regular listeners from back in the day, but a few of the younger folk in attendance who hadn’t realised that you were allowed to have fun on stage as well as off.
Since the gig was a de facto birthday party (for me) there was a Wall of Shane comprising photos which helpfully demonstrated the progression of my decrepitude over the past few decades - including (quite movingly) a picture of me and my Dad which I worked out must have been taken when he was then the age that I am now. At the mid point of the evening I was presented with a four-foot long cake marked with candles in a long, single line which I had to extinguish by exhaling in one smooth motion. It was, as someone remarked, very much the antithesis of the late John Belushi’s idea of a birthday treat. The timing of the presentation also gave me an opportunity to revisit my balladeerian past with a stirring solo rendition of Billy Bragg’s A New England which brought forth a heartening degree of unprompted audience participation before the group embarked on the second set.
One genuinely unplanned encore later* “Can we do another one!?” I asked, still popped on adrenalin and band tab beers. Wendell laid a reassuring hand on my shoulder and gestured toward the door as folk filed out into the cool night air, babysitters to relieve and cabs to call. “I don’t think they want any more”. One half of our volunteer crew for the evening sidled up. “You know what the guy standing next to me said after that My Sharona solo?” he asked rhetorically. “Nailed it”. We cooled off in the pub garden, comparing notes about whether we’d now need a lie down, ice packs or earplugs. “The noise really gets to you after a while, doesn’t it?” commented someone. “My ears are buzzing”. “Oh yeah” said another “My car never sounds like it’s running smoother than on the way home from a gig”.   
*Not, as it turned out, the bawled "Menswear!" when we asked if there were any requests - which if nothing else suggests that age shall not weary the foot soldiers in the Britpop Wars, even if the twenty year retrospectives may them condemn.       
Tips of the hat to Yammezz for PA wrangling, Val for the venue, Joe for rehearsals and one Ashley Robertson for the photo at the top. Sorry about throwing that book out to the chap who correctly guessed 'The Jags' and hitting that other guy in the face, by the way.   

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