To the Theatre of Legends!* The Stadium of Light!** The Arena of Dreams!*** Actually, the second of those epithets is not entirely without foundation, as we have two sets of lighting rigs aboard the good ship Picturehouse this evening, as well as a sturdy PA system, of which sound engineer-du-soir Pat is attaching microphones to The Drummer’s kit even as I tune up. I express mild surprise that a venue of this capacity warrants such wanton frippery. “It’s so I don’t have to hit them so hard” he explains, inserting the second of his earplugs**** “Let the microphone do the work, that’s what I say.”
He may, indeed, have a point. As The Bass Player and I confer over half time refreshments, the sound does indeed seem to have an air of clarification about it. It is pleasing to be able to reflect on a notably good performance after so many years in harness. I adjourn to use the facilities. “Yeah, come in tomorrow, there’s a really good band on – I’ll pick you up” one patron is enthusiastically recruiting his companion, in the stall. I silently insert my own italics.
We are not ones for resting on our laurels, however. This evening’s programme features not only a first, but a second introduction of completely new material (to us) – one of the songs a mere thirty one years in gestation and the other, a Kinks b-side. For us, the former is pretty much like plucking something from the top forty although in doing our homework we realise both that time flies and that – curious as it sounds to the post-Millenial ear, once upon a time Michael Stipe could have passed for a young and vibrant Stewart Lee*****. It seems to go well, and there’s an extra tidy three minutes right there (the first set runs a tidy hour and ten as it is).
Sadly, it is upon more familiar material that I take a tumble. You’d be hard pushed to find a band that doesn’t do a version of My Sharona, in my experience, and so it’s a handy go-to when comparing like with unlike. Last time three fifths of the band decided to do a chorus of Tom Robinson’s Up Against The Wall in lieu of an actual guitar solo, which might have been a good idea this time round. I couldn’t even get away with describing it as a free jazz atonal exploration. Someone suggested I do it on kazoo next time.
With our brutal touring schedule being what it is I’ll now have to wait until the election after this one before being able to get it out of my system. Still, April’s not that far off when you think about it.
The Drummer is considering our dearth of bookings. “Maybe we could get a few at somewehere where there’s room for us?” he ponders. “We could give them a list of who we play and get them to buy into that?”
“The Waterboys?” - I adopt the role of both prospective entertainer and interlocutor.
“No, we don’t do the one you might have heard of.”
“The only song they didn’t play on that last tour.”
“Nope, not the one with the mandolin, I’m afraid.”
The Drummer reflects.
“I’ll tell you what though. If there was band that played Tiger Feet – and only Tiger Feet – all night, I’d join it in a heartbeat.”
The updated Picturehouse Big Band Spotify play list of songs is here. Unlike those Top of the Pops albums of the early seventies, these recordings are most definitely performed by the original artists.
**Nope, really – it’s The Pickerel.
***There’s no dressing this up, it really is The Pickerel.
****One in each ear. He’s not a freak.
*****”That Michael stipe’s let himself go...” etc etc