I recently ventured out on the weekend to see some old chums currently trading as The Rock Hudsons. Not - as one might imagine - a guitar-thumping tribute to Upstairs, Downstairs buttling screen legend Gordon Jackson in a post-Downton novelty act scenario, but a tight trio utilising the best in onstage technology and human three-part harmonies to make a much bigger sound than they really have a right to. Hence the horn parts in Midnight Oil's Beds Are Burning and the Farfisa-friendly* keyboard arrangement to Split Enz's I Got You which are wheeled proudly out at pub gigs and parties alongside a goodly number of fondly-recalled beat numbers from the last century and more recent pop chart hits, some of which even I had some idea of the provenance of. If this approach sounds familiar it is probably because Andy and Kilbey of the group were once Picturehousemates of mine and indeed some of the current set I could still air-guitar along to with no little semblance of accuracy. Along with some material, the pair of them (and drummer Dave) have also retained infuriatingly good hair since our parting, which I felt the need to upbraid them about during the half time break. Well it was either that or suggest that since S Club 7 are back together maybe it was time to (re)introduce Don't Stop Movin' to the set.
I was with my friend Simon, who was dolefully recounting the progress of a family trip to the glittering gold-paved streets of London that very day for which his only ambitions were to return with both a meerschaum pipe (all the better with which to ruminate on matters of import in the comfort of his own home) and a scale model figurine of Antman, from The Forbidden Planet. Neither of these schemes had come to fruition and so, although philosophical regarding the outcome, he was possibly not as chipper as he could have been. I pointed out both the couple at the front, so entranced with each other and caught up in terpsichore that they radiated waves of joy which inevitably embraced us all, and the trio of willowy femmes fatales who drifted across the dance floor, tucked themselves up at a booth in the corner and played chess for an hour and a half before sashaying equally insouciantly out, in an attempt to refocus and brighten his jibcut. Reminding him of that time he attempted to qualify the worth of a hypnotherapist who'd claimed he could teach anyone to play guitar in a month by embarking on the course and then joining us for a song** onstage in Felixstowe at its culmination seemed to help lighten his mood.
"Looks like Andy didn't get the dress code memo" said Si, regarding the two thirds of the group clad in regulation black. Simon had spent his own interval wondering if he could get the band to play any Shakatak (Andy, typically, was game to at least give it a go). I recognised Kilbey's attire, and since we were in Ipswich's reputedly oldest and most haunted pub*** I recounted the story of the time that he had been so spooked by the apparition of ghostly faces appearing before him during the post-gig load out that he'd dropped his amplifier, only to realise that it had been the reflection of his own Kiss t-shirt in the rear window of his people carrier that had surprised him. As I recounted the detail, I felt sure I'd written about that particular occasion before, but I couldn't seem to track down the blog involved, however in passing, I found this one http://skirky.blogspot.nl/2006/08/turn-em-all-on-then-turn-em-all-down.html from a gig at the same pub. According to my Google stats, no-one has ever read it online. Here you go.
*Possibly a Yamaha CS-80 on record.
** All I Have by Snow Patrol. There's footage somewhere.
**There are at least three others that I know of.