I read an interesting diversion on the electric interweb recently, wherein a newbie to all this going out and playing a full two sets in public malarkey was buttonholed after a recent show and informed that his band hadn’t played enough songs that his audience member knew.
At a hastily-convened rehearsal the discussions really picked up pace. “So, what’re we doing?” enquired James, once he’d finished his baked potato with cheese and beans. Nothing fills a vacuum like that like opportunism and so I proferred my CD copy of the first Buffalo Springfield album, which contains a charming little sixties pop song by Neil Young called ‘Burned’ which I’d long hankered to have a go at. I have an advantage in the ways of Neil Young in that having learned to sing and play by strumming along with his Live Rust album I can pretty effortlessly drop into an appropriation of the Young-esque style at the drop of a harmonica. It’s uncanny, chameleon-like shading means that several people are fully convinced that I can’t sing properly* and lead one past band member to informally dub our Beatles specialist band “John, Paul, Ringo and Neil”, which if nothing else would make a great Willy Russell play, let’s face it.
We didn’t see a lot of the evening’s entertainment, spending, as we were a good deal of time in the studio annexe next to the stage running through the set again just to make sure that we hadn’t made a series of catastrophic errors of judgement. It wasn’t that reassuring, to be honest, but we did enjoy the experience of watching several of the other turns walk past the studio window on the way to the stage alternately baffled and amused by our enthusiastic (to them) miming.
So we took the stage, four people in a line up which hadn’t played together before, one of whom was playing an instrument he didn’t usually care for and with a set list comprising at least four songs which no-one outside the sound engineer was likely to have heard in their lives and, d’you know what? We bloody killed out there. In a good way. Helen and Wendell were on superb old-style country weepery harmonising form, James was ebullient, I jumped off a chair and windmilled during The Who song, which raised a cheer if not a faint sense that the audience were about to see a forty-year old man do himself an injury, and that hadn’t happened during “Won’t Get Fooled Again” since that time with the tremelo arm in San Francisco.
*At least I think it’s the Young impression.