March 27, 2008

My Exciting Life In ROCK: 17/2/01 - The Boardwalk / 28/2/01 - Sheffield University

Filed under: Uncategorized, mj hibbett — mjhibbett @ 11:37 am

TWO gigs in close proximity in Sheffield, during which the TRADITION (or “curse”) of me playing ALL all-dayers became entrenched.

The first of the two was an appearance at the final Pop-A-Go-Go festival, a semi-regular All-Dayer run by Penny From Velodrome 2000, which I’d had a GRATE time at the year before. When I say “GRATE” I mean, of course, “DRUNKEN”.

This time I’d managed to persuade her to let me bring The Validators with me, and I spent a long time explaining to Tim that this was a new thing called REVERSO HEADLINING. They let the most important band go on FIRST, right? That way they can drink more beer if they want to.

He struggled to believe me, which was a shame as it’s an excuse that could have come in handy MANY MANY times over the years to come. Later on in the afternoon, when we’d finished our gig and people had actually turned up we had a Massive Turning Point In ROCK. I was stood at the bar, gradually slipping into The Big Silly Grin Of Daytime Drinking when Tim approached, nervously. He wanted to Speak With Me about something - suddenly I was a) SOBER b) TERRIFIED. What could it be? Did he require advice in… MARITAL ISSUES? Had the reverso headlining been the LAST STRAW that had decided him to pack the Validators in? Had David Gedge (who was non-reverso headlining, and who we’d all taken turns following into the toilet, not to LOOK, just to STAND NEAR) offered him a JOB?

It was none of these things - he’d been deputised by Emma to ask if she could join the band. PHEW. This was extremely brilliant in TWO ways 1) it’d bring a whole new dimension to the band (i.e. singing in tune) but mostly 2) I’d been meaning to ask her MYSELF for weeks, and this way I could ponce around like I was doing them a FAVOUR. At least, until Emma did her first gig.

That wasn’t to be for a while though, and I returned to Sheffield a couple of weeks later as a SOLO act. This was another all-dayer organised by Penny, this time at Sheffield Uni where she’d recently started work as Ents Manager. Although I was playing on my own I wasn’t THERE on my own, as I’d asked if Francis could come and play support with his band. He would not, in the long run, thank me for it.

The trouble was that the gig was in the student canteen. Here the young people gathered to eat, chat, and occasionally drink, but NOT to pay any attention AT ALL to Relatively Quiet Music. Frankie PLOUGHED through his set to almost complete indifference from the student body. The only reaction he got at ALL was when some people came and sat down RIGHT in front of him and had to raise their voices to talk over the PA. They succeeded.

I guess this sort of thing is OK if you’re one of them jazz/folk types who sits in the corner of COFFEE SHOPS and twiddles away, but for the likes of US it is a bit difficult to take. Frankie bore it well, but for his pal and co-guitarist Gary it was TOO MUCH. Gary had toured Medium Sized Venues with his own band and was used to a bit more ROCK, so decided to try and interact with CHAT. When this failed he tried SWEARING and when even THAT had no effect he tried telling them to shut the bloody heck up.

Unfortunately the level of CHAT was so high that nobody could hear them, so they left the stage DISGRUNTLED. I was obviously WORRIED about how my bit would go, but also slightly UNIMPRESSED by this behaviour. I understood why Gary was so annoyed and SYMPATHISED but did not think this was the way to go about it. I have seen MANY bands go IGNORED, and the ONLY way to deal with it is through DIGNITY and, gradually, doing something to FORCE people to listen to you.

So it was that I took to the stage full of PIETY and CLEAN THOUGHTS and got precisely AS completely ignored as they had BUT without even the option of making myself feel better by swearing at them. Still, I had my secret weapon ready - a cover version of “Stan” by Eminem.

Sheffield University Students Union had recently been in the news because they had BANNED all Eminem records from their Union, to mark their disapproval of his perceived Sexism. This is the sort of thing Student Unions have ALWAYS done - I’m sure that when They Who Bang Stones brought out their third single, “ME CLUB HER ON HEAD”, the Ents Committee at UG POLYTECHNIC agreed on a strongly worded letter of DISAPPROVAL for it’s, frankly, primitive sexism, and when Andrew Adventure And The Space Groovers bring out their BRANE HOLOGRAM “4D Sex Nookie [in space]” I would BET that The University Of Mars FORBIDS downloads from it’s futuro-canteen.

THUS I was ready to TEAR UP THE JOINT as soon as I started playing it. The KIDS would hear, and those who agreed with their representatives would STORM the STAGE to STOP this vile misogyny, only to be stopped by the ENRAGED and ENFRANCHISED majority who saw it as the work of a tortured genius, and DEMANDED freedom of speech. I felt a bit bad about causing RIOTS and, possibly, ARSON when Penny had only just started her job there, but hey - the struggle for beautiful democracy is never easy.

I played the song. A nearby security guard turned and looked at me, raised an eyebrow as he tried to work out what I was singing, then dozed off again. I left the stage to noisy silence.

We sat around afterwards enjoying Student Beer Prices, relieved that it was all over and that we could not be made to feel any smaller than we already did. Just as we were feeling better about ourselves a young German Student came over and politely asked if he and his friend could borrow our guitars. We agreed, and they went on stage and did a set of Guns N Roses covers, got huge rounds of applause, and left the stage as heroes.

And yet, despite that, it was ME, not young Klaus, who got booked at the next all-dayer. Is this justice? Or is it maybe sympathy?

Or is it… A CURSE?!?

March 26, 2008

Filed under: music — digest @ 8:50 pm

Here is a press release I am posting simply because this single is out soon and the band are a favourite of PopArt… Phil’s been sent a copy so you may yet see a review appear… x x


The Outside Royalty

A: ‘Falling’ | B: ‘Voice Beneath The Rubble’

Released on May 5th 2008 (Bloody Awful Poetry Records)

“Highly charged, frenetic and emotionally wrought…they have the driving mo-mo-mo-mentum of early Roxy Music.”The Guardian

“By the end of this year, if there is any justice at all, The Outside Royalty will be a household name.” - Glitzine

“I fell in love with it immediately”Colin Murray, Radio 1

“The most engaging band I have ever witnessed”Virgin Road to V

Complex and brilliant; hailing from two different continents and three different countries, six-piece The Outside Royalty release their debut single ‘Falling’, produced by Phil Vinall (Pulp, Radiohead, Placebo and Elastica) and released on the label off-shoot of the hugely successful club night Bloody Awful Poetry. Having filtered through the thousands of bands that have approached the club, it looks as if Bloody Awful Poetry Records have found the perfect diamond to debut their label with. The Outside Royalty look set to fulfill the hopes of the label which intends to serve as a highly selective outlet for the finest talents in the land, and this long awaited single has all the markings of a classic.


With comparisons previously drawn that puts them somewhere between The Arcade Fire and Pulp, The Outside Royalty have created a sound that perplexes and astounds journalists and fans alike. A sound perfectly demonstrated on ‘Falling’. A song of two parts, it is firstly and obviously a song about love. However, behind its uplifting musical celebrations lies a darker element. It is also about discovering love in the most unfortunate circumstances. On a plane; A plane which then proceeds to plummet from the skies. Driven by a thumping dance floor drum beat and power house vocals, it reverberates around the room with each verse and spirals into a hook laden chorus that penetrates your very being with all the force and vigour of a gospel priest. The band noticed that ‘Falling’ was fast developing into a live favorite on their recent Young Knives support tour. A view that was supported by the prestigious panelists on Channel 4 show, Road To V when The Outside Royalty performed it there.

The first incarnations of The Outside Royalty were formed in Pittsburgh in 2003 by singer/guitarist Adam Billing. In 2006, an article ran in Pittsburgh music magazine ‘The Front’, which bemoaned the Pittsburgh music scene and cried out to any talented bands to ‘get out’. In the centre of this article was a huge picture of The Outside Royalty. So there it was, they took that leap of faith and moved from Pittsburgh to London in the summer of 2006 with just 4 members remaining. Whilst on UK soil, they have been on impressive form.

Picking up two more members whilst in the UK, a cellist and a bassist, Colin Murray amongst others has given the band his seal of approval. And on the evidence of ‘Falling’ and haunting b-side ‘The Voice Beneath the Rubble’ it’s not hard to see why.

Whilst in the UK, The Outside Royalty have already been found supporting Babyshambles, Juliette and The Licks, The Duke Spirit, The Spinto Band and The Shins as well as embarking on the nationwide tour with The Young Knives. Reaching the final of the Road To V and playing two sell-out shows at KOKO in London has seen them pick up a few new fans along the way, with Rick Nelson (The Polyphonic Spree) volunteering to feature on many of their early recordings.

All indicators show that it won’t be long before The Outside Royalty are invited in.



12th March – The Old Blue Last, LONDON | 12th April – Buffalo Bar, LONDON | 26th April – Lennons, SOUTHAMPTON


PXPL & The Hidden Hypnotism of the Latest M&S Advert

Filed under: Uncategorized, music, PhoeniX Phil — pxpl @ 5:56 pm


22 Sep 2006

PXPL & The Hidden Hypnotism of the Latest M&S Advert
Current mood: crazy


Some of this is recycled from correspondence I have had with dear friends over the course of the past day or so. I apologise for any doubling up but i’m in a venting mood this week.


This is…

PXPL & The Hidden Hypnotism of the Latest M&S Advert


I’ve always despised Marks & Spencer. It reminds me of when I’d be dragged out for “christmas shopping” in a bigger town or city (usually Canterbury) as a child.  You see, Sittingbourne where i grew up literally had a Woolworths, a Dixons, a plethora of charity shops and not a lot else on it’s so called high street. Later a McDonalds and an Argos were added but ultimately most people in the ‘Bourne go elsewhere for important shopping trips.

So with excitement in her eyes and coupons in her handbag my mum used to drag me and my brother off to a larger town for “shopping”. Initially me and my brother would be excited about the seasonal chance to spend savings and gift vouchers on toys (and later tapes and cd’s) but once our limited funds were gone we’d then have suffer “Mummy’s Retail Demands”.


This would involve going in and out and in again several large stores, trying on clothes, putting them in a basket before putting them back on the rail and ultimately going back to store an hour later to eventually buy the item of clothing.

Now then, I’m not a selfish man (or boy as I would’ve been then) and I could grit my teeth through a lost hour in BHS, I could read everything printed on the back of the packaging of a Masters Of The Universe action figure while the sales rack in C&A was given a thorough going over BUT I have limits… I am only human and I have a breaking point. That breaking point was…


Marks & Spencer. (*insert the Mumm-Ra transformation jazz freak out music here*)

M&S, every 8 year old boys nightmare, a mecca for screaming toddlers and clumsy old ladies, the most annoyingly grown up shop in the world. I hated everything about it… it’s annoying green and yellow scheme, the customers, the sqwarking staff, the lack of toys, the lack of anywhere to sit, the hustle and oh by jingo, the bustle of it all.


SO imagine my discomfort when as a grown man I find myself waiting with excitement for the TV to show the latest M&S tv advert. 

The advert is the latest instalment of “The Mis-adventures of Twiggy and Her Wacky Model Friends”. You know the ones where Twiggy, a girl with short hair that pulls comedy faces and a dark skinned girl with a glorious head of hair (who always ends up having to wear “the knickers and the bra”) lark about in an autumnal London making M&S clothes seem a certain shade of dignified sexy.

I think the thing that sucked my in was the jaunty “Virgina Plain” rip off that soundtracks it.

I’m guessing that the song is “Glass of Champagne” by Sailor. I’ve made this assumption based on the following:

* One of the lyrics is “Glass of Champagne”.

* It sounds a bit like Roxy Music and whenever TOTP2 used to show Sailor performing “Girls, Girls, Girls” the fascinating text based fact would always highlight “the wannabe Roxy Music” criticism.
in conclusion…

* I know for a fact that Sailor had a hit with a song called “Glass of Champagne” from all the nights i’d stay in as a teenager reading the “Guiness Book of Hit Singles” wondering how many top ten black circles and number one triangles my entry would have against it if i was a pop star.


So now i sit during a television comercial break, half of me yearning for a “Glass of Champagne” fix and the other half of imagining a digusted 8 year old niX shaking his head in disgust.

It’s not even that good a song ! What hidden swirls and devices have those evil M&S bosses planted in the ad. I always thought i had a strong will… maybe I was wrong.


I think i’ve been burning the candle from both ends. Maybe i’ll have a bit of a sleep.



March 25, 2008

My Exciting Life In ROCK: 23/12/00 - Cybershack Webcafe, London

Filed under: Uncategorized, mj hibbett — mjhibbett @ 3:56 pm

Twas the night before (the night before) Christmas and all was FRENETIC, as across the country people dashed around doing Christmas type STUFF. A lucky few were sat in pubs saying “Yes, I like to get it all done by OCTOBER” while everyone else was EITHER running around Marks & Spencer’s looking for a Last Resort tin of biscuits for an elderly relative OR trying to drown out the discomfort of an Office Do with BOOZE. I, on the other hand, was heading for London, to play at a Trendy Media DO!

The invite had come about because of “Hey Hey 16K”, our internet single - some would say THE FIRST EVER INTERNET SINGLE (i.e. me, and anyone who enjoys being CORRECT) - which had had a brief brush with fame amongst the 100 or so ubergeeks who roamed the great empty landscape of the interweb at the turn of the century. Most of this fame had come from a mention in another Interweb innovator, Need To Know. This was one of the first regular email newsletters which collected geeky news and Humorous Links long before the likes of Popbitch or B3ta started doing it - OK, in those days you could have got the whole of the net onto a couple of CDs so there wasn’t THAT much competition for getting in, but it was still rather exciting, and I got MORE THAN ONE bit of email fan mail as a result of it. It would also, in time, lead to several Exciting Events.

And this, I thought, would be one of them - a media party in London’s fashionable Soho! It would DOUBTLESS be packed FULL of celebrities from the worlds of computing, TV and Music which the newsletter covered. I was playing early evening but had pointedly NOT made any arrangements to get back for last orders as I was CONVINCED I’d end up going on to Trendy Night Spots to talk DEALS - either that or for RENDEZVOUS with sultry temptresses, drawn to my urbane Midland manners.

Surprisingly, it wasn’t QUITE like that. When I arrived I had to stand outside the venue for a few minutes to check that I’d got the right address, as the lack of limousines, bouncers or roped off VIP entrances had got me a bit confused. It turned out NOT to be a trendy night spot or bar, nor even at a Secluded Bistro, but instead at an Internet Cafe. In these enlightened times, of course, Internet Cafes can be delightful, full centrally heated places, but back then they always had the air of a comic shop about them - slightly damp and with a faint odour of socks and desperation.

When I got in I was met by the gregarious and ever delightful Mr Dave Green, journalist and interweb pioneer, who had invited me down. He guided me over to the bar where I enjoyed the traditional Visitor To London sport of saying “HOW much? For A SINGLE BEER?!?” and started to relax again. It was only when I was sat plonked on one of the big comfy sofas that I realised something. Apart from the couple of people sat on the next sofa reading comics, nearly everybody else was on a computer.

Just to recap, this was the night before Christmas Eve, a Saturday night, not just in London’s Glittering West End but ALSO in London’s Sordid Seedy Soho Area Of London, at a PARTY. And most of the people there were sat staring silently at computers.

And most of them were playing Solitaire.

It did strike me that just MAYBE they weren’t QUITE living life to the ABSOLUTE full. Still, there was fun yet to be had, as we’d been promised an exciting Novelty DJ act to start with - Slimboy Fat! AHA! Tribute BANDS had been with us for several years by this point and we were just entering into that murky, stupid, and mercifully short ERA when DJs were somehow thought of as ACTS in their own right (now of course we recognise them as just people who play records, but the Millennium was fresh and we were still a bit confused) so the idea of the TRIBUTE DJ was one tantalising in it’s scope and possibility for HILARITY. What would he do? What ZANY rails of WACK would he lead us down? We gathered expectantly, as he took to the DECKS.

“Hello!” he said “I’m SlimBoy Fat!”

We laughed appreciatively - Slimboy Fat! He’s swapped the words around! He grinned back at us, and pressed PLAY on his CD player. A mix CD started playing, then he put his coat on and went home.

For some reason Tribute DJs didn’t really catch on… but still, he’d laid down the challenge. A man with a semi-humorous name pressing PLAY on a portable CD player - FOLLOW THAT, Hibbett!

Follow it I did, and it was again a bit strange as everybody was so very chronically SHY. There was a slight ripple of noise when I did Hey Hey 16K… before everybody realised they could be heard, so quietened down again, and everybody seemed to smile when I did “The Peterborough All Saints Wide Game Team (group B)” (a song about, basically, GEEKS winning) but otherwise I played to Nodding Silence. I know some people LIKE that sort of attention - idiots and bigheads, mostly - but it always makes me feel nervous, like someone’s going to put their hand up at the end and say “Yes, but is 16K REALLY a better format for gaming? Mmm? Is it?”

Nobody DID say that, and indeed people were very friendly afterwards, especially considering the general air of NERVOUSNESS about Open Human Discourse. I didn’t get a record contact, or even meet any GURLS, but I did meet a real-live Internet Millionaire (I knew he was rich - he got a round in) and got a Humorous Geeky T-Shirt which STILL makes people smile, once they’ve read the whole thing, to this day. But I very much DID make it back to Leicester for last orders, and when I got there I didn’t quite know how to describe the oddity that had been that evening. As regular readings will have noticed, I had already done quite a lot of slightly RUM gigs, but had never experienced anything quite as odd as THAT before.

Over the next few years, however, I would experience it a LOT more…

March 21, 2008

my magic life

Filed under: mr solo, art — mrsolo @ 11:14 am

I’ve left it a long time to post anything coherant. i hd meant to post something after my magical journey into the world of batik. I first used the power of the wonder web to connect with a zen master of the wax fluid resist technique. then i boarded a train to london by the sea where I was met by a man in a trilby on an old wooden platform i had never noticed before. i too was wearing a trilby and when we stopped at the texaco to get some cash to pay for the lesson i stood behind a man in a leather bomber jacket and trilby (which as you may have guessed is what i was wearing). Clearly this means i was meant to go on and discover the mysteries of batik. batik and me are on a collision course albeit one much less destructive than the result of the earth hitting a giant planet outside of the solar system. batik is the new rock and roll.

March 18, 2008

My Exciting Life In ROCK: 29/11/00 - The Charlotte, Leicester

Filed under: Uncategorized, mj hibbett — mjhibbett @ 2:34 pm

Much like George Lucas did with Star Wars I began these TALES OF ROCK several episodes into the story and, like him, I hope one day, when we have finally completed all THESE stories, to be able to go right back to the start and tell of what came BEFORE.

UNLIKE George Lucas however I do not intend to take any long held expectations of EXCITEMENT, THRILLS, VOLCANO FITES and HUMOUR and instead BANG ON for HOURS and HOURS of about INTERGALACTIC TRADE POLICY. That said, I AM quite tempted to insert a SHIT ANIMATED GOOSE into my first few gigs in order to make them appeal to small children.

Shall we stop that metaphor now? What I mean to say is that although I started these stories with events in 1997 there was LOADS of stuff that happened before then, with much of it involving the band VOON. Even typing that word causes a SEISMIC TREMOR of PSYCHIC FEAR to reverberate around the Muso Pubs of Leicester, for LO! we were a SCURGE on Proper Musicianship, Musical Ability and Serious Professionalism. We had MUCHO fun and gained many LIFE SKILLS, but I think maybe the most Important Lesson we learnt was this: STOP when it is time to STOP.

It was a HARD lesson to take in, and it took us MANY attempts to get it right. Like ALL Young People In Bands we tended to take it all a bit more seriously than necessary, which led to us EITHER splitting up when we didn’t need to (we often LIVED together too, hence sudden dramatic line-up changes could come about because of STOLEN BAKED BEANS) OR staying together when really there was no point.

After YEARS of regularly falling out with each other we realised that there was A Better Way and our FINAL line-up agreed on a specific FINAL GIG. We thus spent six FANTASTIC months thoroughly enjoying ourselves, because the FACT that we knew we’d be packing it all in soon meant that we NEVER did a gig because it could “advance” our “career”, NOR did we get (all that) ANGERED with each other if we had to pull out of a gig, because there was no possible chance it COULD be the one where Mr Big From Big Records would sign us up to a contract. It was LOVELY!

Perhaps the loveliEST part of this deal was that it left the door if not ajar then at least UNLOCKED for us to get back together and do it again in the future, and LO! this is what happened on this particular date, which was the birthday party of Sorted Records Supremo and former landlord of The Durham Ox, Mr Dave Dixey. The vast majority of our final batch of gigs had been in his pub, where we were all regulars - once you’ve decided to only do gigs that are FUN and NO HASSLE, it turns out that the pub you are ALREADY IN is the best place to do them. Despite his SATURATION in Voon gigs Dave seemed to wanted another one, and we were happy to oblige.

We were happy, but also AFEARED - since packing in the band me, Neil and Simon had got on as well, if not MUCH BETTER than we had during our days in ROCK together when, so we were a little worried that TENSION, also massively camp HISSY FITS, would return. Also, would we be able to actually PLAY the songs again, or would it be LIKE the time George Lucas RETURNED to the Original Star Wars trilogy - a pointless retread removing much that was GOOD and replacing it with RUBBISH DINOSAURS?

Actually, I wouldn’t have minded so much if dinosaurs had been an OPTION, but you know what I mean. So it was that we gathered nervously in Stayfree Rehearsal Studios, set up our gear, and pressed START on the drum machine. Glancing fretfully at each other, we waited for the CLACK CLACK CLACK of the intro, and began to play…

IT WAS FANTASTIC! It was EXACTLY as AMAZING as it had always been in our heads and in our post-pub conversations around the kitchen table, and (approximately) LOADS better than it had EVER been at actual gigs. When we got to the end of the song we all JUMPED UPON AND DOWN and went “WAHEY!” and HUGGED each other for about ten minutes, we could not BELIEVE it had sounded so good. Nor, I think, would anybody else have, but honestly it WAS dead good, and all the other songs continued to be so for the rest of the practice. When we’d finished we went to the pub and, as was TRADITION, sat around loudly talking about how AMAZINGLY GRATE we were - this time, however, it felt like it was TRUE!

Come the day of the gig, old worries started to resurface. The Validators by this time had GELLED into a Precision Fighting Force of ORGANISATION, and could get a full BACKLINE out of a car, up several flights of stairs and completely set up with one hand tied behind our hands, BLINDFOLD, with an Evil Drill Sergeant stood behind us barking “FASTER! You are the WORST recruits I have ever SEEN at The Police Academy! Er… for BANDS!” but VOON was a bit out of practice and, anyway, had always been a bit less willing to be told what to do. The Validators are hardly a DICTATORSHIP, but we do at least have a VAGUE Command Structure for gig organisation, whereas Voon were what teenagers would call an ANARCHY and Physicists a CHAOTIC SYSTEM.

Still we finally eventually got set up, drunk, and on stage, where I noticed a BIG change since Voon had been a going concern: AN AUDIENCE. When Voon first began we’d been like any other Student Band (for such we were) in that all our friends came to see us play. Where we DIFFERED was that when they STOPPED coming (usually around the third or fourth gig) we failed to take the hint and carried on… for several years. Occasionally we’d have a BUMP when we made NEW friends, but the very nature of our “ahead of its time” performances meant that audiences never lasted long - INDEED, I would like to think that it is this DETERMINATION TO ROCK that is the reason that, even to this day, my Audience Levels in my adopted home town are lower than average. Nearly everybody who COULD have seen me play there HAS, many years ago, when I was even more… ahead of my time.

Anyway, off we went, playing to an audience of people largely consisting of those who I’d met since Voon stopped playing all together. Many of them knew me from my SOLO stuff which, while containing HUMOUR and a RADICAL DISDAIN for Conventional Standards Of Musicality was like JOY DIVISION compared to Voon. As songs went by full of LEAPING around, GURNING, incredibly fast bass lines (next day my wrist ached like an adolescent left home alone for a WEEK), Massive NOINGY NOINGY guitar solos, and references to giant ducks, double decker buses on the MOON, faces in meat slicers and GURLS, those gathered for the spectacle became more and more confused. THIS was the mighty behemoth of ROCK I’d been going on about for so long? But… it looks like a Student Band! A student band that NEVER STOPPED!

We had a whole heap of fun, and even the small ROW about taking gear home felt more like a TRADITION than PROBLEM. The only downside of the evening was how we felt about it afterwards. I’d had a LOVELY time, playing old songs with some of my best pals, but the others seemed to have enjoyed it less so, possibly because the reaction from the audience (quietly AGHAST) was so very much LESS than our own reaction at that first practice. Maybe I had become HARDENED in the intervening years to audiences not thinking I am as GRATE as I do myself, but they seemed to take it a bit more personally than I did.

Still, Dave seemed to appreciate it and we made arrangements between ourselves to reunite in the distant future, in 2010. It seemed like an impossible dream of a science fiction utopia, but somehow it seems to have got quite near now. I’d better start exercising my wrist!

March 13, 2008

My Exciting Life In ROCK: 9/11/2000 - The Old Angel, Nottingham

Filed under: Uncategorized, mj hibbett — mjhibbett @ 11:25 am

And so my mini-tour drew to a close, this time with NO delays in my journey, no train cancellations nor even ludicrous over-charging by the rail companies. How did I manage this turnaround? I went by BUS.

I don’t normally like to travel on buses, because if I’m in a STRANGE PLACE (and I often am) then I have no bloody clue where I’m going and so have no idea when to ring the bell to get off. This always seems to me to be a MAJOR disadvantage to bus travel, a point of view driven home by one particular afternoon’s tour of the countryside around Sheffield when I only really wanted to cross town. HOWEVER, I did at least know what Nottingham Bus Station looks like (it’s the one with all the buses) so got off and toddled off to the venue.

I arrived to find a long running dispute had been SETTLED. I was playing with Mr Frankie Machine and Steve from The Chemistry Experiment, and in the preceding week the three of us had been arguing bitterly about the running order. If we had been IDIOTS and/or A Student Funk Band On Their Third Gig we would each have been demanding the HEADLINE SLOT, but as we were Old hands and therefore WISE in the ways of this sort of gig we were all angling for MIDDLE or, failing that, FIRST ON. The middle spot, as anybody who knows, knows, is BEST because everybody who’s coming will have arrived by then and even if they only came for the first band will probably still have a beer on the go and so stay for you. Given a choice between first and last you go for the first because, well, at least you can have a BEER.

The realisation of this FACT is a beautiful moment in anyone’s ROCK CAREER, and I was once lucky enough to be there when the particular Student Funk Band On Their Third Gig who I was supporting HAD their epiphany, and tried to con me into going on last. Foolishly they tried to do this by using HONESTY and saying “Can you go on last instead of us? Then all of our friends can go home”. I was unpersuaded.

The whole thing was settled THIS time by Frankie arriving FIRST and so being forced to do first soundcheck and, therefore, go on last. Actually, thinking about it, he has NEVER been early for a gig ever since then - maybe this is the explanation? Anyway, we did our soundchecks, we did our gigs, and a fine old time was had by all, so much so that I got a bit over-excited with not wanting the evening to end and BLAGGED a lift back to DERBY with Frankie. We went to The Blue Note for the DANCING and the LOOKING AT GIRLS and to look at That Bloke Out Of Wizzard who was probably there for the same reasons as us. Well, the same main reasons anyway, I guess he could see HIMSELF any time he wanted.

I sat on my own for a while and considered the events of the past week or so - what lessons could we take away from the experience? THESE were the ones I thought of at the time:

1. Privatisation of the railways was a really bad idea.
2. Although when people say “Did you get here all right” they’re only being polite, and do not require a ten minute lecture on the subject.
3. If the audience is talking during your set maybe you should consider WHY they are doing so, rather than throwing a strop about it.
4. Young audiences are more ready to have their minds changed then older ones.
5. I really really like being on tour.

Happy with these conclusions I settled into DRINK and, sometime after midnight was LOLLING drunkenly off the edge of a BOOTH when someone came over and told me he’d not only BOUGHT one of my albums, but also liked it. The only thing that had could have made the evening better was if it’d been The Bloke out Of Wizzard or a GURL, but otherwise it was the perfect end to My First Proper Solo Tour. The ROAD had got me, and I’d be back out again soon enough!

March 11, 2008

My Exciting Life In ROCK: 7/11/2000 - Bull & Gate, London

Filed under: Uncategorized, mj hibbett — mjhibbett @ 4:19 pm

Aah, what a time to be alive and TOURING! Who can resist the LURE of the sticky black flooring, the SMELL of the toilets, or the TASTE of the beer recycled from pub next door’s spill trays? For LO! It is THE ROAD - or, in this case, THE RAILS, as I was off again on a magical journey through the Great British Countryside to the fabled land we call LONDON, there to ROCK!

And THIS time the journey only took TWICE as long as it normally should due to the ongoing “emergency” speed restrictions. Say what you like about the hapless efforts by the long disgraced former heads of the useless privatised shiteheap Railtrack, but at least when they forced the entire transport network to run at 30mph for ABSOLUTELY NO REASON, nobody actually died. Except of boredom.

The reason it ONLY took twice as long was because the driver pretty much GAVE UP on ever making it to St Pancras and stopped instead at Kentish Town railway station… two minutes from where the Bull & Gate is. HOORAH! There are many rubbish and stinky things about London, but one of the ACE things is that it has an entire OTHER transport network that you never ever hear about. Yes, everybody knows about the Underground and the sexy map and all that, but all around the edges is a MASSIVE network of Overground trains that go to all sorts of weird places that nobody’s ever heard of, but always seem to be Eerily Close to somewhere much closer. Why, only the other day I got TURFED OFF a Central Line train in Bethnal Green (COSMOPOLITAN GLAMOUR) and was able to walk five minutes round the corner to the TRAIN station (a real proper train station hidden down a back street behind some garages) where I was able to get a couple of totally OTHER trains, empty even in rush hour, and be home within twenty minutes. I shouldn’t really be telling you about it though - it never gets into those maps in diaries because it is a LONDON SECRET. I shall probably be blacklisted from the WINKLE STALLS, and never taste LIQUOR AND MASH again.

ANYWAY, I strolled into the pub full of the joys of TRAVEL, got soundchecked and prepared to do the gig. I have played MANY times at The Bull & Gate but THIS time was rather different from usual: there was an AUDIENCE.

They weren’t there to see me of course - that would be ridiculous - they were there for one of the other bands, and usually this would mean they’d sit in the other room until their pals were on. THIS time however I was lucky enough to fall open The Gigging Band’s GOLD MINE: a brand new band with a brand new audience! OH! how one DREAMS of stumbling upon such a thing, a whole CROWD of young people all excited just to BE in a venue! Impressed by anything that makes a loud noise! Unjaded by years of dreary bands and convinced that ALL gigs will be JUST like in The Commitments!

It was BLOODY FANTASTIC - they started off all rowdy like a bunch of 15 year olds that the teacher trusts to be left on their own (which, but two years previously, is EXACTLY what they would have been), with lots of joining in the songs, crap heckling, and general LAIRINESS, but my dears I have done a LOT of gigs like this and if I have learned NOTHING else in ROCK I have learnt how to bring round a crowd of Excitable Gig Virgins. It is easy: you keep going, you do a couple of cover versions, and you DO SWEARING. It NEVER fails, and this was no exception - “Boom Shake The Room” AND “It Must Be Love” were wheeled out, the set SWERVED to include “Fucking Hippy” and any other song I had with CURSING in it, and by the end of the set we were like old friends. The only mis-step really was when, bizarrely, it turned out that one of them had seen me before and shouted “Do that one about banks!” Now, normally the song “Payday Is The Best Day” goes down Quite Well, but I soon realised that this lot had very little experience of paydays, being mostly at SCHOOL, and so it gained a MYSTERIOUS ALTERNATIVE final verse: “Payday is the FUCKING best day”. HOORAH!

Afterwards there was a RUSH of people RUNNING forward to buy CDs and singles past a small crowd of my AMAZED friends. I staggered away from the throng towards the bar, only for things to get BETTER: a real live GIRL came over to talk to me! Also, a really NICE real live GIRL, who wanted to by me BEER! She said the traditional “You are very brave!” and overcome by the excitement of the occasion I did what any red blooded male in my position would do - I said “thankyouverymuch” and RAN AWAY.

What? I just wasn’t USED to talking to girls at gigs, this is my excuse and it is the one I have STUCK to during YEARS of questioning, for this PARTICULAR real live girl was somehow not put off by my FLEEING and sometime later managed to calm me down enough for us to go on a DATE and LO! now we are shacked up together, in the long-term LOVE business. Isn’t romance GRATE?

I had no idea about any of this at the time, of course, so foolishly went off to The Camden Palace, there to be AMUSED by the overwhelming LONDON-NESS of it all, with people dandying around like there were in some imagined version of The Blitz club crossed with The Good Mixer circa 1993 and MAD MAX III, whilst actually just being a bunch of pillocks wading through warm lager soaked carpets. Much, I suspect, like it was in The Blitz Club and DEFINITELY how it was in The Good Mixer.

Still, there was nothing that could put me off my stride after a night of train LUCK, an actual audience and talking to a PROPER GIRL, and I was still in such a good mood that I didn’t really even mind when I turned up next morning at St Pancras to find that they’d found a revolutionary new solution to delays. They’d CANCELLED all the trains! HOORAH!

Gig review: Hanoi Rocks Live In London Town 07/03/2008

Filed under: Uncategorized, music, PhoeniX Phil — pxpl @ 10:19 am

It’s a sad state of affairs that Hanoi Rocks are generally known for little more than being “an inspiration to Guns N Roses”. The early 80’s saw Hanoi Rocks undertake an almost mythical rock n roll exodus from their home country of Finland to Tooting Bec and then finally to LA… along the way there was excess and ultimately the tragic death of their drummer Razzle which as-good-as ended their career just as they finally approached stardom.

As for the music? Hanoi’s songs were their own beautiful creations and didn’t sit easily in any specific genre. Sounding like ice cream spiked with whiskey, Hanoi’s 80’s albums were an unrelenting mix of hard rock, punky sleaze, outrageous 50’s styled sax solos and 60’s garage band pop while sounding completely uncontrieved and natural.

The albums released by this decade’s reformed Hanoi Rocks are a different kettle of fish. Tellingly only two members of the original line up are still present (admittedly the main two: singer Michael Monroe and lead guitarist Andy McCoy) but the sound and stylings of modern Hanoi Rocks is straight forward “fist in the air” stadium rock sadly lacking the coolness, subtlety and uniqueness of the early stuff. This is possibly a result of all the time spent in L.A. following the bands original demise or possibly the fact that the band now consists of two members of 90’s rock group The Electric Boys (admittedly I do love some of their songs such as “Lips N Hips” & “Mary In The Mystery World”) either way the hungry young scoundrels responsible for the efferscent “11th Street Kids” (sadly not played tonight) are a different proposition to today’s Hanoi Rocks. Not that this should be keeping the band awake as the latest album “Street Poetry” has been a hit in Europe (even giving them a proper number one hit in Finland with the single “Fashion”).

So this being my first Hanoi Rocks gig, the question on my lips was “What would we get live? The legend? or the men behind the legend cashing in on the name and promoting their latest album?”. Two songs in and the question on my lips no longer mattered, after the instrumental intro of “Fumblefoot & Busybee” Michael Monroe leapt on to the stage like a demented cartoon character and the band riffled through newie “Hypermobile” before going head first into the classic “Malibu Beach Nightmare”. Even the fact that most of the set was made up with songs from the new album didn’t matter much as Michael Monroe sold each of them as if they were classics (even the frankly embarrassing “Teenage Revolution”)… he was relentless on stage, swirling his microphone around, doing the splits, climbing all over the venue like a kid in a candy store. The most impressive thing I’ve ever seen on stage was Michael Monroe do the “swing the microphone cable around the neck” trick that Paul Stanley of Kiss does. The difference being that Paul Stanley does it in a “very controlled-at-the-end-of-show way” whereas Michael Monroe would do it during a song dangerously close to the other band members.

Naturally the old songs were the highlights and we got an ample portion of them… “Motorvatin”, “High School”, a riotous “Oriental Beat” which sent the crowd full on mental, “Boulevard Of Broken Dreams”, “Tragedy”, “Back To Mystery City”, “Up Around The Bend” and a glorious “Don’t You Ever Leave Me” which saw Michael Monroe sit on the edge of the stage his feet semi dangling into the crowd) doing the second verse talking bit instead of Andy McCoy (who seemed to be having some sort of trouble talking into the microphone all throught night !?!).

It was an “impossibly beautiful” gig and as the modern world of pop gets increasingly dull and spiritless it was a joy to see some forgotten heroes show “London town” how it should be done.

March 6, 2008

My Exciting Life In ROCK: 6/11/2000 - The Charlotte, Leicester

Filed under: Uncategorized, mj hibbett — mjhibbett @ 12:40 pm

More TRAIN FUN, for a gig only 15 minutes from my front door!

Around this time I was going through one of my periods of Being Fed Up At Work so had applied, and got an interview for, a new job. It was in THE LONDON and, even more excitingly, it was at The BBC, where the TELLY is made!

The job was to work on their website, which way back then was probably like ALL websites i.e. two pages on Geocities, one of which had a little animated gif of someone digging a hole saying “Under Construction!” Well, maybe it was a little bit more sophisticated than that, but not much - the fact that I thought I had sufficient experience for the job, when my ENTIRE experience of web based design at that point was making our University Department’s webpage using the design suite of NOTEPAD and PAINTBRUSH, is testament to the FACT that back then The Interweb was just being MADE UP as it went along by people in basements. Often with BEARDS.

Actually, I STILL do all of our webpages in Notepad, for I have never bothered to learn anything else. OLD SKOOL!

Anyway, GETTING to the interview was a nightmare beyond belief. What would usually be a 90 minute journey door to door took FIVE HOURS, with me arriving at Broadcasting House SWEATY from RUNNING there, also BLEARY EYED from having to get up extra early - I have always worked for Universities, so getting up early is NOT on my CV.

Annoyingly I would usually have taken the trip South as an excuse for a BOOZY TIME in London, but what with the time it was taking to get there and back, and the FACT that I had to be in Leicester for a gig, all I actually had time for was the interview. Now, you might think “Surely that was the point of the trip? Mr Hibbett, this is Unprofessional Behaviour!” Well, yes, it is, except for two points that made the whole exercise pretty pointless. First off, I got the distinct impression that it was one of those occasions where they’ve already got an internal candidate but have to drag UNKNOWING SAPS cross-country to make it look above board, as the entire interview was them asking me what I’d do to make their site better, and then looking bored as I answered. Secondly, my entire SCHTICK was telling them they had to identify exactly who their audience was and then target the site directly at THEM. When I used my pre-prepared “Do You Have Any Questions?” QUESTION I asked what THEY thought should be done. “Well, the BBC is aimed at EVERYBODY so we have to make sure EVERYTHING is accessible to EVERYBODY. EVERYWHERE.” Oops.

It was another lengthy journey home, giving me time only to RUN to my office nearby, pick up my guitar, and SPRINT to The Charlotte. This was one of those gigs where I asked to play was so that I could get in for free, this time to see Martin Carr in his first bit of touring after The Boo Radleys had split up. Following on from our Cover Version Success at the recent Half Man Half Biscuit gig I’d diligently worked up a version of “Lazarus” and had spent WEEKS in a PANIC about how Mr Carr would react. Would he be flattered? Disgusted? Annoyed that I’d already done the song he was planning to finish with?

It was none of the above, as he spent the entire time sat on his tour bus parked out the back, not even in the BUILDING - NOT a disciple of Otway. I felt a bit deflated by the almost complete lack of point to the entire gig, though did cheer up a bit when I got to spend the money I might have spent getting in on BEER. As predicted, he finished the set with a version of “Lazarus” which, though very different to the recorded version, was eerily similar to the way I’d played it an hour or so earlier.

I would have claimed that he’d COPIED me, but it would never stand up in court - it was one of my gigs, there had been NO WITNESSES!

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