Once more unto the Gipping Delta, where Picturehouse are to inform, delight and entertain the good people of Stowmarket, as many as five of whom have turned up on the special VIP meet n’ greet package to watch us sound check. I begin with the riff Deep Purple’s ‘Burn’ (nearly…) The Other Guitarist does ‘Birds Fly (Whisper to a Scream)’, The Singer knocks off the intro to ‘A Thing Called Love’, The Bass Player masters the theme from ‘The Rockford Files’, and The Drummer hits things, seemingly at random, until we ask him to stop.
We reconvene in the car park to exchange pop trivia, holiday tales, retirement plans, four day working, weight loss plans and golf trips and wait until we are at least outnumbered by the audience before performing. It wasn’t always like this, you know. Whilst en vacances only last week I was regaling the family with a story about the time The Drummer tried to secrete a fan in the van on the way back from a gig in Lincolnshire. In a shock twist my father-in-law tells me a very similar story involving the West Ham reserve team and a trip to King’s Lynn. Seems there’s nothing new under the sun.
As per, once the music begins, folk are lured in by our Siren-like* tones and are soon frugging away en masse. We seem to have a different crowd every time, from the Young Farmers’ night out to the Halloween dress-up gang, and this evening’s throng appear to be some gals who have probably organised the night on their WhatsApp group, along with some gently nodding types in beards, bandanas and leather jackets and - inexplicably - someone who appears to have channelled his Breakfast Club Judd Nelson to an impressive, if unsettling, degree.
Being the party soundtrack people we are, the packed area front of stage** grooves to the lilting tones of 5ive’s ‘Keep on Moving’ as we segue effortlessly into Radiohead’s ‘The Bends’ - a dance floor filler if ever I’ve heard one, and a song which does at least offer me the opportunity to make sure that at one point all the little red lights on all of my effects pedals are all on all at the same time. There’s even time for a (genuine) encore, at which point the slightly damp and wheezy drummer*** is as delighted as you might imagine to learn that he is expected to sing ‘I Fought the Law’, which, triumphant and climactically, he does with dignity and aplomb.
In an aside worthy of the great Douglas Adams he concludes the set. “I wish I’d brought my towel”.
*The mythological temptresses, not the fire warning.
***Incidentally, as I turn out of the car park afterwards and head for the A14, the first song on random play in the car is Camel’s ‘Breathless’.