As has been posited in these very pages, if you do one gig a year, you’re - technically - still in a group. With this in mind, The Picturehouse Big Band decamp for one of our occasional soirees in the heart of swinging downtown Stowmarket, where the post-storm debris can be seen lying in gutters, fences are strewn across gardens and the A14 displays its own sorry harvest of boughs. They say in Barham there was up to a thousand pounds worth of improvements caused in a single night.*
The Singer and The Other Guitarist have both scratched an itch an have turned up with brand new guitars - Wendell with a new Fender Deluxe and Kilbey with a left-handed Squier Tele - The Bass Player is trialling a new monitoring system for his keyboards and my Secret Santa gift has finally arrived from the in-laws and as such I will be deploying the joy of compression to lift those vital guitar solos above the melee, with the unfortunate consequence that now, of course, people will actually be able to hear them.
We have a healthy crowd, and notwithstanding the post-soundcheck, pre-gig discourse in the toilets (“‘As gunna be a fucken racket tunight ent ut?”) are looking forward to trying out another new song which joins the one we added only last year in a whirlwind of new tune admissions. This one, by The Icicle Works, is a mere thirty five years young, and so a positive nod to the new young generation of Picturehouse fans coming through the ranks and filling the banquettes at the back. Paul McCartney’s “Your Mother Should Know” springs to mind.
There is no sign of our great enthusiasts from the last Halloween gig who, resplendent in leather bustiers, heavy eye make up and fishnets, insisted on being given drum lessons at the close of festivities, which did hold up the pack down slightly. Partially because we couldn’t move the gear, and partially because it was quite the spectacle in itself. The Drummer is a kind and patient man who will give a quick lesson in the basics to pretty much anyone, but by the time they’d been in the business end of the pub for four hours or so, some of their hand-eye coordination seemed to have gone out of the room. Perhaps that’s why one of them fell over a stationary pile of mic stands?
This evening’s high drama is limited to a large, sticky drink being kicked over a pile of leads (the landlady waved a towel at us in order to help, which initially made me wonder if she was surrendering) and a temporarily misplaced pair of glasses, which did mean that The Singer’s snake-hipped Jim Morrison moves were temporarily replaced by a sort of faux-Velma Dinkley routine which, niche as it is, doesn’t really have the same affect on a baying crowd who want to know when this riot we keep predicting is going to kick off. I guess it keeps them from alternately wondering whether they should take it easy, or whether to keep on movin’.
“A few hiccups, but everything mostly seemed to go well” I say, after having my pub band membership card restamped for another season. “Yes” replies someone. “But I wish Kilbey would stop pretending he’s left-handed.”