Digest...

October 30, 2008

My Exciting Life In ROCK: 18/9/2004 - Jug of Ale, Birmingham

Filed under: Uncategorized, mj hibbett — mjhibbett @ 4:53 pm

DRUMS! Sometimes a blessing, occasionally a burden, but on some occasions a TERRIFYING SYMBOL of LOOMING DOOM.

My view of DRUMS got a promotional push on this particular afternoon as I took a quick detour to DERBY to see Johnny Domino, Legendary Derby Band and all round GOOD EGGS, playing one of their first gigs with their drummer: The Jeffbot 3000. They’d always used a drum machine before, and calling and I think they used the name The Jeffbot 3000 to try and EASE themselves into the idea of actually having a JAZZ DRUMMER. It was the ONLY time I saw them play with Jeff as their live shows would gradually peeter out over the next few years until they ended up not SPLIT, but not exactly up and running either. It’s a shame as they were GRATE (HENCE the Legend), and with Live Drums rather FUNKY.

One journey later, passing as quickly as possible through the WAKING HELL that is Birmingham New Street Station, i suddenly found the position of DRUMS in my heart changing abruptly from JOY to HORROR. I’d been told it was an ACOUSTIC night, with no drums were allowed, so although Tim and Emma were going to come along anyway (I think, they were seeing family in Birmingham) I’d intended to play only as a DUO with Tom.

Imagine my TERROR, then, when I walked in to find not one but TWO fully working drumkits set up and ready to use, with TIM, a man EAGER to ROCK at ANY excuse, but an hour away. FEAR! DREAD! I knew that as soon as Tim saw these he would ASSUME I’d been FIBBING in order to grab the GLORY of the gig all to myself. ALSO we’d recently had a SPATE of gigs where I’d told him he’d absolutely definitely have to bring his full drumkit and thus DRIVE and further thus not DRINK, only to arrive to find SEVERAL drumkits set up. Surely his RAGE would be UNCONTAINED?

While I was PANICKING i met an Actual Real Life Celebrity. Whenever I send out copies of our CDs I always get a bit depressed by the fact that a large proportion of them go out to reviewers at mainstream music publications who i KNOW will never review them. I HAVE to send copies to these gits a) just in case and mostly b) so I can righteously MOAN about it for ever after, but I don’t LIKE it so in order to KARMICALLY BALANCE the mailout I always send a few to people I think are GRATE - Nigel from Half Man Half Biscuit, Richard Herring, John Otway, THOSE sort of people. This time I’d sent one to the author Mike Gayle, whose books i LOVE. Yes yes I know they’re never likely to trouble the Booker Panel, but I always LARF at them and also always end up CRYING at the end, usually on public transport.

And lo and behold, he actually turned up to the gig! I don’t know if he stayed for long as Arthur The Promoter (who was also his mate) said it was all way past his bedtime, but BLIMEY! What a nice bloke!

Other nices blokes present included Grimsby Troubador Pete Green, who was playing just before us. I would see him play MANY MANY MANY times over the following years, but my enjoyment of his performance on this occasion was cut short by the arrival of Emma and, particularly Tim who, on seeing the drumkit, could only be CONTROLLED by us all running round the venue trying to find a drummer who could lend us some BITS.

It was thus an 80% complete Validators (including one Drummer on the brink of HULKING OUT) who rather unexpectedly took to the stage to face something we’ve very rarely seen: a PACKED house. The main act was Jeffrey Lewis so the room was RAMMED with people right up to the very front of the stage, which is itself only about two inches off the floor, so I played the entire gig basically SHOUTING into people’s FACES. I particularly recall two young men, one with curly blond hair (they were VERY close to me for the whole gig) who stood looking UNIMPRESSED throughout, although even THEY joined in when we did the “OI HIBBETT!” bit in “Easily Impressed” at the end.

It was a marvelous night made all the more so by seeing the aforesaid Jeffrey Lewis, although it ended with a bit more FEAR as Tom and I navigated our way back to his house in Leicester on a cold, lonely, unlit road. Our reasoning at the time was that we’d been forced in this direction due to roadworks, but in hindsight it was probably our usual trick when we’re in The Tigermobile together of just getting lost. It was a scary journey, but not as scary as the prospect of TIM’S WRATH. THAT had been TRULY terrifying.

October 28, 2008

My Exciting Life In ROCK: 16/9/2004 - The Victoria, London

Filed under: Uncategorized, mj hibbett — mjhibbett @ 4:48 pm

This was an evening KRAZILY full of incident, which began with a trip to THE PUB.

No, I know that’s not really an amazingly unusual occurrence, but it IS what happened. After several BEERS with my various brothers, who at that time all lived in London, I went back to work. Clearly I am INCREDIBLY DILIGENT and felt the need to do even MORE work than the work I’d already done… also I was expecting a phone call.

The call came from Raw Talent, a BBC radio show that broadcasts New Music, Local Bands and That Sort Of BBC Thing all over Yorkshire. I was meant to be chatting about my forthcoming TOUR, which would include Sheffield AND Hull, but I ended up talking about all SORTS of things, very possibly influenced by the aforementioned BEER. I really LIKE being on the radio, I always get the feeling that, at that moment, it is ME broadcasting - the whole of BBC Yorkshire was taken up with beaming MY thoughts out to the helpless locals from a little outpost in a basement in Bloomsbury. It’s GRATE!

As soon as THAT was over I had to WHIP across town to Mornington Crescent, where I had a GIG. After years of listening to “I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue” as a student and BEYOND I was surprised when I found out that Mornington Crescent is an actual real place, and not exactly THRILLED when I discovered that it’s really a slightly less smelly version of CAMDEN. Still, the pub was quite nice and quite full of people so, as I was quite drunk, I was quite NERVOUS.

I didn’t have long to feel that way as my LATENESS meant I was on pretty much as soon as I got there, and things did NOT start well. There’d not been time for a soundcheck, which normally (WHISPER IT) doesn’t really matter, as with a SOLO ARTISTE it’s usually just a chance to make sure everything actually WORKS. Here, however, the room was just a room above a pub rather than a working gig venue (it had been booked at short notice to give a visiting Jeff From The Butterflies Of Love a London gig while he was here) so there was no proper SYSTEM in place - the guitar was going through an amp turned up WAY too loud, and the vocal PA appeared to be the pub’s inbuilt one for playing tapes through.

This all meant that my first song was a blurred mess of horrible sounding guitars and inaudible vocals. My NERVES grew, AMPLIFIED by my paranoid fear that I was going to forget ALL the words, and after a panicky adjustment of equipment I tried again with my second song, “Hey Hey 16K”. I quickly realised this was a STUPID idea - “Hey Hey 16K” is technically my HIT, but only within a strictly defined demographic. For most people, especially YOUNGER people, it’s a slightly strange LIST of things which they’re unfamiliar with, and that’s precisely how it went down. DOOM. FEAR! It was all going wrong!

Then a lone voice called out to me from the wilderness: “Why are you bothering with the PA?” said the voice, “It’s not really helping”. The Voice was RIGHT - it wasn’t a big room or anything, surely I could BELLOW without it? I put the microphone to one side, unplugged the guitar, and SUDDENLY everything was DIFFERENT.

I glanced at the setlist and realised that I should HANG the “new material” and do THE UBERSET, my collection of pretty much (most of the time anyway) GUARANTEED Crowd Pleasers. I did “Billy Jones Is Dead”, and it sounded really good! Playing without a PA suddenly had LOADS of advantage. I could be heard clearly! I could dance around! I could control volume by moving CLOSER to the audience! And, most of all, being unamplified meant that people FELT I was more THERE - a human being in the same room as them, rather than a SHOW they could ignore and talk over. My dears I was practically BRECHTIAN in my shattering of the ILLUSORY TRANSPARENT WALL that is denoted by the microphone stand.

It was LOVELY, it made everything much COSIER and much more FUN, and I ROCKED through the rest of the UBERSET having a WHALE of a time. Even the people sitting at the back who, in my usual paranoid way, I had CONVINCED myself absolutely HATED me, turned round and sang along LUSTILY with “Boom Shake The Room” at the end.

I’d never done a gig like this before, but MY GOODNESS I would be doing them a LOT in the future and would eventually run my own sort-of CLUB night, “Totally Acoustic” in a similar room in another pub.

To top it all, Jeff From The Butterflies Of Love even did a COVER of one of my songs later on - OK, he only got through the first couple of lines of “Work’s All Right (if it’s a proper job)”, but it’s the thought that counts!

October 23, 2008

My Exciting Life In ROCK: 14/9/2004 - The Music Shed, Derby

Filed under: Uncategorized, mj hibbett — mjhibbett @ 3:01 pm

Films about bands are always full of LIES. For example, while it is true that SOME Mayors may OCCASIONALLY be evil, it very rarely manifests itself in a desire to close down the local skateboard park, and even when it DOES such decisions cannot be reversed, nor corrupt officials deposed, by staging a benefit concert. Not since the 1832 reform act, anyway.

An even bigger fib is one of omission. A MASSIVE part of being in a band is practicing - INDEED for some bands practicing is all you ever do - but this hardly EVER appears in films, and even when it DOES appear it is nothing like the real thing. If you believed what you saw in the movies you would be convinced that all band practices go through the following stages:

1. Everyone lolls around a massive room, draped with ethnic rugs, looking cool yet restless.

2. The Nervous Nerdy Guitarist (who will grow his hair long as soon as their first single is released and then, depending on the kind of film it is, either get addicted to heroin OR “hilariously” call Mr Big from Big Records “dude” at an inappropriate moment) will say “I’ve got an idea for a riff” and then play THE GOOD BIT from THE FAMOUS SONG, nervously.

3. The Drummer and The Bass Player nod enthusiastically and join in, IMMEDIATELY knowing how it goes.

4. The singer, after some thought, suddenly KNOWS ALL THE WORDS and starts singing them.

5. FADE to the next night, where they’ve learnt it all EXACTLY like the record and are playing to a MASSIVE crowd of people going MENTAL.

This is NOT how practices go. For a start, the room you practice in is usually dank, dark, small, and STICKY. The stickiness comes from the years and years of BANDS who have been in there, OOZING. The fact that bands are predominantly made of of young males at that difficult age when their MUM has stopped telling them when to have a wash and haven’t yet got a LIFE PARTNER to take over the responsibility means that a room where hundreds of them regularly congregate in groups to jump around and shout is ALWAYS going to be a bit whiffy.

All of these FACTS were true for our new rehearsal venue, The Music Shed in Derby. As rehearsal rooms go it was pretty good - they certainly had better GEAR than we’d been used to before - but the STICKINESS was all present and correct. More strangely, the room we regularly booked gradually got SMALLER. Every time we went in something NEW had been left in there - never an exciting additional instrument or anything remotely cool, but something odd like a chinese screen, or lampshade, or at one point what looked like a computer server and terminals, so that each time we were in we’d get shoved closer and closer together by all the FURNITURE, until we were all pretty much sitting on the bass drum.

The Music shed had two other points against it - well, three, if you counted their strict instruction that ALCOHOL was not allowed in the rooms, but as nobody ever paid any attention to it I guess we ought not to either. I think the main reason they tried to BAN BOOZE was not for puritanical reasons, but rather PRACTICAL ones, as the first proper major DEMERIT was that they had NO TOILETS! I believe this situation has since been rectified, but at the time you EITHER had to borrow a key, walk across the car park, unlock one door, enter a CODE to get through another, and then SLINK through some unoccupied offices to find their toilets OR suddenly find the other side of PARKED VANS to be VERY INTERESTING INDEED.

The other major downside of The Music Shed was that is was under a MAGICAL SPELL which meant that, if you ever managed to find it, you would always FORGET where it was as soon as you left. That’s the reason I’ve always given for getting lost on my way there so often, and it is the reason I am sticking to.

ANYWAY, to return to the LIES of films, they also chronically misrepresent the process of actually practicing by MISSING most of it OUT. The bulk of any practice is somebody saying “Come on then, let’s do that one again”, everybody else MOANING, then eventually agreeing to have another go at a song you’ve been playing for YEARS but still somehow contrive to cock up every time you play it. Only a very small part of any session is taken up with “jamming”, and this too is far away from the Hollywood Image. A REAL Jam invariably begins with five minutes of everybody looking SHEEPISH, like a group of schoolchildren who have not done their homework but are hoping someone else will be the first to admit it. Eventually someone will start playing SOMETHING - this will ALWAYS be something slow and, frankly, GOTHIC. Relieved that someone has at least taken responsibility everyone will join in and SLOG through the miserable repetitive tedium of it all for about 10 minutes, generally following the TWELVE BAR BLUES chord arrangements, purely because they can’t be arsed to think of anything else.

Many MANY bands get no further than this - almost ANY bill of bands will feature at least ONE who have thought this is ENOUGH and, if you are at a GOTH or BLUES night it will be ALL of them. It is only through the purest WILL that, once that’s got through, somebody else will be strong enough to say “All right then, how about this?”

And that’s usually when the next band comes in to set up their gear. Maybe that’s why Hollywood chooses THEIR version of events instead?

October 22, 2008

news just in

Filed under: mr solo, art — mrsolo @ 10:31 pm

The self portrait of me myself in the toilets of the bloomsbury bowling lanes before a POp Art gig (sound muted) has been accepted to the dulwich picture gallery open exhibition. I am well chuffed as it means it will hang in the worlds first pupose built gallery come mausoleum ( probably only if you include the mausoleum bit). Private view this Friday- hoorah. That concludes this news flash.

October 21, 2008

My Exciting Life In ROCK: 28/8/2004 - My Mum’s Back Garden, Peterborough

Filed under: Uncategorized, mj hibbett — mjhibbett @ 5:18 pm

Back gardens, living rooms - these are the staples of the roll call of ROCK, and the series continues APACE with this performance in the delightful village of MAXEY (just outside the none-less-delightful city of Peterborough) which is where my parents live.

It was their Silver Wedding Anniversary and so myself and The Ring On My Finger headed up to see them, also to meet with two of my GRATE PALS from school, Mr Robin Hare and Mr Paul Myland. The three of us had been in our first BAND together, “The Masters Of Nothing”, from the ages of 11 to 18 and had managed to remain friends since the break-up by agreeing that, actually, we were crap. They also brought with them their Surprisingly Lovely Wives. I say “Surprisingly Lovely” because, well, I knew these two chaps at SCHOOL. Including when we were 13. The fact that ANY woman would want to even be NEAR them shocks me sometimes let alone GRATE ones who would MARRY them. Maybe high scores on Manic Miner ARE attractive to GURLS after all?

Rather foolishly I’d agreed to sing a few songs at the do, and the closer I got to The Big Day the more SCARED I became. Whenever I have ANXIETY DREAMS about GIGS it is always the same sort of thing - going down REALLY badly in front of a crowd of people who want me to get off stage I eventually tire of all the heckles to shout back a volley of abuse, only to realise too late that the entire crowd is made up of members of my family and that my Nan, looking HORRIFIED, is sitting in the middle row. It’s bad enough as a nightmare, but now it looked liked coming horribly TRUE. All I could do was make sure that, in real life, I DID remember to put some trousers on.

In order to try and alleviate some of THE FEAR I persuaded my Mr Myland to join me on stage. People who’ve heard some of my songs may know him better as “Mileage”, whose wedding reception features heavily in “Do The Indie Kid” and whose father appears giving SAGE advice in “The Gay Train”. As I say, I have known him a LONG LONG time, and part of that time involved us being in The Durham Ox Singers together. The Durham Ox Singers, as I believe I have previously noted (HERE), were an acappella band made up of pub regulars singing The Hits Of The Avant Garde. They’d also done backing vocals on the first Validators’ album so I reckoned that having Mileage singing along would a) improve the overall sound and b) at least give me somebody else to blame if it all went wrong.

RIDDLED with fear we took to the PATIO, where we soon discovered that Mileage provided a THIRD valuable service on stage - CHAMPAGNE WRANGLER. He’d taken a bottle along with him for moral support (it was a BIG do!) which enabled him, after every song, to pass it over to me for a GIANT SWIG. This not only LOOKED good, but FELT good, and I hope one day he will be able to come on the ROAD with me to carry out these VITAL duties. The SWAGGERING CONFIDENCE engendered by the two of us GUZZLING BUBBLES also helped me to realise that my DREAMS were missing out some of the subtleties of an audience of FAMILY i.e. when you’re RELATED to people you can pretty much say what you like, and that taking the mickey out of your Drunken Dancing Auntie, far from SHOCKING your Grandmother, will actually make her LARF.

The singing and BOOZE was so much fun that later on myself, Mileage, Robin and our respective LIFE PARTNERS moved into the house for a bit of a PRIVATE SING-ALONG. Halfway through I remembered that I still knew how to play a Masters Of Nothing song, one by Robin called “Rather Spooky” which I’d played for YEARS in my next band VOON. For some inexplicable reason he’d never played our original recording of it to his wife - perhaps because it was basically three rather excited teenagers with voices wobbling like fire alarms going “RatHER SPOOkyyy, RATHer SPOOOky!” for two minutes - and she was amazed to find out he’d written it. He’d managed to get a girl to marry him WITHOUT even playing her the songs he’d written? I was IMPRESSED!

October 20, 2008

Lexicon of pop: i - interviews

Filed under: music, editorial — benramster @ 10:47 pm

I’ve always wondered what the best approach to giving a rock interview should be. Do you tell your interviewer to “F*ck *ff” and gob on his shoes? Or give a sincere speech to camera on the dangers of gang violence? I saw Ciara do this second thing on PopWorld after performing her single My Goodies. Chorus “My Goodies, my goodies”. The interview is not online but you can see fans pose difficult questions such as “When did you first hear about MySpace.

When asked (it’s only months away…), I plan to use the approach that Jarvis Cocker took when Pulp played Glastonbury ‘95. That afternoon, he was interviewed by Jo Whiley on the band couch with Mr generic U.S. rocker. When quizzed about their rumoured genital piercings, Cocker suggested that a well placed magnet would answer all questions. What a guy. So Ben Mlini, what is your favourite colour? Here my five favourite rock interviews from the web:

1. AC/DC interviewed on German T.V. (1984). In an NME interview, I remember Brian Johnson asking “Who’s Kurt Cobain”? Buy a 7-inch Figurine of grunge-father here.

2. Did you know that Another Level spourned a spin-off act? Read the thoughts of ‘Upper Street’. Tossers.

3. Prince is said to only sleep only two hours a night, and to treat session musicians like wet wipes. Not strictly an interview with the love dwarf, read whether this insomnia is caused by him being backed up.

4. Suggest that you are a bit ‘bi’. Louise Wener (Sleeper) and Brett Anderson (Suede) both used this tactic to wet the appetites of indie kids around the country. Read a wonderfully angry essay about them here.

5. Ian Svenonius. For mind-blowing theories and great rock and roll videos, the former Make-Up front man is the best.

SElf Obsession

Filed under: Uncategorized, mr solo — mrsolo @ 8:18 am

Before last nights Bowl An SEbastian event I told myself not to get too carried away with myself during the performance of the song “Judy and the dream of horses”. I have to say after a shaky start ( as they say on X factor) I loved every second of it and all thoughts of restraint were jetisoned from my mind as the love child of Roy Orbison and Tom Jones sprang forth frommy larynx or atleast thats how it felt. Normally how something feels and what people perceive is not something I bother about but the dream of horses was such a blissful personal moment that it must surely have leaked through into the real world? That my friends is fishing for compliments. But onwards- a strange peice of synchronicity took shape yesterday as I found myself entering a self POrtrait into the Friends of Dulwich Picture gallery exhibition. This adventure in Acrylic I called “SElf Portrait in bathroom - sound muted” and was infact an image of me applying my Solo make up in the toilet mirror of the Bloomsbury Bowling lanes before an appearance of last years Bowland sebastian. So there I was last night applying the finishing touches to my Solo make up in the same bathroom with the same handdryer in the reflection and as I went to take the hearing aid from my ear (as i do before every gig) the damned ear piece severed in two leaving me with a pea sized piece of plastic in my outer ear cavity one minute before preforming. With gargantuan will power riding the wave of panic that swept over me I finally managed to remove the offending article and took to the stage with an overwhelming sense of relief. SELF obsession complete.

October 16, 2008

My Exciting Life In ROCK: 14/8/2004 - Kooba Radio

Filed under: Uncategorized, mj hibbett — mjhibbett @ 2:46 pm

After playing the inaugural HIBBETTFEST I sped back to That London in order to fulfill a long standing obligation to attend a recording session for Kooba Radio. Kooba is an Internet Radio Station - nowadays pretty much everybody has their OWN internet radio station, but they were among the first to start doing it consistently, and certainly one of the grooviest. This grooviness is down to several factors - the skill of the production, the fact that they played only “unsigned” music (i.e. only bands who completely owned the copyright in their music, to avoid PRS/Licensing hassle), but mostly because they were SO VERY GOOD at going to the pub.

Much of the credit for this must got to Mr Johnny Yeah, lead broadcaster and figurehead of the organisation, who is one of those people who, wherever he goes in the world, will be accepted as a REGULAR in whatever the local equivalent is of a PUB. Time was when being a NOTED SOCIETY WIT got you invited to soirees in saloons and probably a touching up by noted society Lords and Barons, but nowadays it seems that Public Bar Raconteurs are like MYSTIC NOMADS, floating from pub to pub with a retinue of pals, pints and gags, and I was VERY pleased to be joining the caravan for the evening.

We had a GRATE night in the pub, although I did become aware of something a little unsettling as the evening progressed. Johnny is of a similar age to me while most of the rest of the Kooba Krew are of a somewhat more recent vintage, and as we got further and further into our conversation I realised that more and more of the younger people were becoming quiet. Was it because our REPARTEE was so THRILLING that all they could do was sit back and BASK in awe? Or was it that we were talking about telly programmes that only WE remembered, as nobody else had been BORN then?

It was GOOD TIMES though, as demonstrated by the fact that the recording, scheduled for 7pm, didn’t get going until after ten o’clock. I had a Last Train to go and catch so we did my bits first, starting with a version of “These Foolish Things”, played by me with new words sung by Johnny. It SHOULD be a louche, easy going, devil may care sort of song, but the large quantities of BOOZE consumed during the day, in multiple postcodes, led me to HANG onto the guitar for DEAR LIFE, exerting every ounce of concentration at my command just to do the chords right.

After THAT I recorded a version of a song I’d written that week, “The Fight For History”, as a KOOBA EXCLUSIVE for later use. It’s all about the FACT that, when Margaret Thatcher dies, the media will go into an OVERDRIVE of BOLLOCKS, hailing her as A Great Leader rather than a MASSIVE EVIL who almost destroyed everything GOOD about being British and whose malign influence is STILL screwing up the country - who was it, after all, who persuaded building societies to become banks and relaxed regulations to allow banks to loan beyond their means? The answer: THATCHER!

Once again I was reminded of my GRATE AGE: though Mr Yeah sat beside me NODDING SAGELY to my words, most of the other people in the room just looked CONFUSED. Thatcher? Wasn’t she in the War or something?

I went home feeling OLD. OLD and DRUNK.

October 14, 2008

My Exciting Life In ROCK: 14/8/2004 - Ray’s Mum’s Back Garden, Stourbridge

Filed under: Uncategorized, mj hibbett — mjhibbett @ 10:51 am

A lot has been made lately of the fact that The Mighty Boosh have had their own festival. I can’t see what all the fuss is about - I’ve had my own festival for YEARS, and yet it seems to have not been judged QUITE so newsworthy by the Left-Wing Elite of the Washington Media.

Sorry, I appear to have been watching too much American news lately. I still don’t understand why MY festival is ignored while The Boosh is LAUDED. Mind you, I don’t understand The Mighty Boosh at ALL - I am like my parents watching The Young Ones, thinking “EH?” - but that’s not really the point. So they have a festival named after them? BIG DEAL. HIBBETTFEST has been going for YEARS!

All right, The Mighty Boosh have theirs at a FARM and mine takes place in a back garden, and until recently I was the only act, and even the POLICE would have a job under-counting the number of people in attendance (though a crack team of Police Statisticians is, even now, trying to work out how to estimate NEGATIVE attendance at demonstrations), but that’s about it. And yet the NME see fit to ignore it - TYPICAL.

The first ever Hibbettfest took place on this date as a SURPRISE for its host - a similar thing happened to Lord Knebworth once, when he got back from his weekly Big Shop to find Oasis making a racket in his back garden. The back garden belonged to the parents of Mr R Kirkham, who I’d met a little while before, when I’d played at his Leaving Of Winchester party. They’d got in touch with me to ask if I’d come over to DUDLEY for the day to surprise him on his birthday, and I say “HOORAH!”

I got picked up at the station by his Uncle and driven through The Black Country. “We call this area Little Delhi” he said, as we sped through an Indian area. FEAR! PANIC! Was he about to launch into DODGY RELATIVE RACISM? “It’s great, everybody’s friendly”, he continued, reminding me that AHA! I was once more in THE MIDLANDS, where everyone is LOVELY! Also where everyone has BRILLIANT ACCENTS - Dudley has an ESPECIALLY fantastic version of the Brummie Accent, which sounds so much fun to speak that it always makes me want to JOIN IN. I’m pretty sure that this WOULDN’T be a good idea, so try to CONTAIN it, but it’s very difficult.

Being a good boy Ray came out to help unpack the car as we parked outside, and thus I was able to ALARM him SPECTACULARLY by looming out of the front seat. AHA! He knew he was having some pals around, but hadn’t realised a ROCK FESTIVAL would be occurring on the patio! I was on a BEER FAST at the time (NB not drinking it, rather than drinking it at SPEED) so set the INSANE ROCK TONE for the day by NECKING WHISKY. YEAH! COME ON! Er… ROCK! I was thus rather REFRESHED (as well as rather STUFFED by the huge mounds of GRUB Ray had made) when I staggered onto the stage (end of the patio) to do my set.

It was a lovely way to spend an afternoon, and the tradition has continued ever since, although these days I do try to stick around for a little bit longer than I managed on this first occasion. I had an appointment in London that evening so, like so many FESTIVAL HEADLINERS before me, I had to make a swift exit.

Unlike so many before me, my exit was to an extremely slow moving Virgin “Express” train. The Mighty Boosh probably use a HELICOPTER, and frankly, I can understand why.

October 12, 2008

Burn Down The Disco - PopArt Monthly Report - 10 October 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized, music, Tamla Tim, Events, PopArt — tamlatim @ 7:54 pm

Well, we were determined that last night at The Fly was going to be one of the all time classic PopArts, and having thought at one point the night had been cruelly snatched from our grasp, a classic it did turn out to be - in a particularly demented, typically PopArt kind of way, and provided a fantastic bit of drama for the first official blog of a PopArt event, which we’ll be doing for every event from now on.  London Fire Brigade were involved last night, but more of that later.

The Seven Inches

There was a big, up for it Saturday night crowd of Smart Kids for the wonderfully charming pop weirdness of The Seven Inches to kick off the live music.  Hailing from my previous home of Leeds, boy singer Ian was resplendent in a sort of Morris dancer style hat that a Blue Peter presenter might have showed you how to make from everyday household items, and wielded a faux guitar fashioned, unless I’m mistaken, from a thin sheet of polystyrene.  There was boy vocals from him, girl vocals from Emily, trumpet, melodica and foot tapping, singalong pop poetry perfection from start to finish.  With wit and style and emotion and above all a sense of fun they couldn’t have been better for us.  Check out “Cashback.”

Penny Broadhurst And The Maffickers
Next up, also from Yorkshire, was the swoonsome pop gorgeousness of Penny Broadhurst And The Maffickers, lyrics with a kind of bruised humour that refuses to stop finding joy in life no matter what it throws at us, all wrapped up in fantastic melodies and solid gold hooks.  And … there were more trumpets!  I love the brass.   Penny started as a spoken word performer and her wordsmithery shone through, but for me the world would have been robbed had these not become the beautifully realised pop songs they deserve to be.  Buy their Allons-y! EP.

Indie Bingo
Then, after all that poetic beauty floating around, what else could we do but give our compare Leicester’s Funnyman, ‘The Bullet’ Dave Rees the run of the stage to delight and confuse in equal measure with his own special brand of wordplay.  This was the long awaited return of ‘Indie Bingo’, in which all the Smart Kids in attendance were given cards with various songs titles on them, when a song was played from the DJ booth, they crossed it off their card.  For those who might not know all the tunes, Dave Rees was on hand with his Bingo caller patter.  Personal favourites were “Two fat ladies – The Magic Numbers,” and the frankly bizarre “Fiddle de da, fiddle de de – Saturday Looks Good To Me.”  Although of course everyone who witnessed The Bullet was a winner, some fine prizes were given out including the best CDs and DVDs the 3 for £10 offer at Zavvi could provide, some beef jerky, many Fredo chocolate bars and a lime green hat I found earlier in the day.  Someone finally took the copy of Suede’s  ‘A New Morning’ that we’ve had as a prize since the first ever Indie Bingo two years ago.  The joy on the faces of the Smart Kids when they completed a card and shouted “Indie Bingo,” was like they were having Christmas and birthday all at once.  In that way I suppose they were like Jesus that night.

New Royal Family
As the final band of the evening took the stage, there were whispers of a strange smell, as though someone was sawing wood, but all that was forgotten in the excitement of The New Royal Family taking the stage and the hilarity of Dave Rees introducing them as “a ‘king great band.”  Another band that couldn’t fit in better with the many faceted nature of PopArt, they put me in mind of a pretend toff Buzzcocks with lyrics by Oscar Wilde proofread by Captain Beefheart.  If you can imagine such a thing.  All the magic of that particularly British off kilter pop was here in the somehow smutty but I’m not sure why picture postcard fun of “Anyone Fancy A Chocolate Digestive,” (answer: “no thank you, it sounds suggestive,”) and the tough guy’s camp hip hop anthem “IWISHIWASGAY,” which is “out” soon on Filthy Little Angels records.

Firemen In The Disco!
Just as the Family were finishing their set, Dom alerted me to the fact that, due to the strange ‘hot’ smell downstairs, the Fire Brigade had been called.  So during the encore five burly fire fighters trooped downstairs into the PopArt bunker.  Having just been delighted by “IWISHIWASGAY,” rumours about this strange occurrence spread through the crowd like wild fire.  Most plausible amongst them was that the firemen were in fact dancers about to join the band on stage for a song about helmets and hosepipes.  As the Samrt Kids continued to dance and drink and generally have a ball around them, blue watch carried out their investigations and tracked down the smell to a slightly smouldering fuse box.  Just as the encore finished the power downstairs was cut, leaving us with no way to reassure the crowd that they were in no danger and could continue to party safely in the bar upstairs.  In the event they didn’t seem bothered and joined us in a disco chant of “burn baby burn,” until security told to stop being silly and get everyone upstairs.  As we led the PopArt refugees to safety and further drinking opportunities upstairs, the other DJs very graciously gave their decks over to us to continue the party.  I’m proud to say that once we knew everyone was safe my first thought was “what’s the right song for this ridiculous moment?”  I went with “Heatwave,” by Martha Reeves and The Vandellas, then “Panic,” by The Smiths (“burn down the disco, hang the blessed DJ,”), under some considerable stress I frantically searched for more songs to soundtrack the emergency.  I didn’t seem to have “Light My Fire,” by the Doors, “Fire,” (Jimi Hendrix or Arthur Brown) or “Fire Brigade,” by the Move.  I had a feeling I had the theme tune to Fireman Sam somewhere but with ten seconds to go I shoved on some Pulp.  From there it was all dancing with wild abandon, air guitars and hugging: everything that’s great about doing PopArt.  Upstairs is smaller so we inevitably lost some of the people who came to watch the bands when we had to evacuate but much as that was a shame the hardcore regular Smart Kids were where they always are, down the front being silly and beautiful and making it all worthwhile.  You know who you are, thank you.

Full DJ set list and photos may follow depending on whether anyone does them.  Until the report from Bowl & Sebastian 3, dear readers, keep a little PopArt in your heart.

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