Monday, June 01, 2009

It's a small world- but you wouldn't like to paint it.

In case you're wondering what else I got up to on Thursday (ok, I know that you weren't, but I've been sitting here for ages trying to work out how to start this posting in a way that would allow me to introduce the fact that I was on a tube train and therefore received a voicemail message on my mobile phone when I got off it, and this is the best way that I can come up with; it's not easy writing this stuff sometimes!) it was business as usual at the theatre where Stuart the guitar repair man and myself bought the 'We Will Rock You' guitars back up to fighting spec. before wending our merry way back home on the Metropolitan line. (I bet you can't guess what happened next..?) When I got off the train my phone rang with a voicemail message (Oh! You guessed!) from Tony James, lead singer with The F.B.I. Band, asking me if I was free for a gig with them on Saturday night... so it was then that while the rest of you were watching The Cup Final or listening to Andy and Jen's show on Hayes FM, your humble narrator was still attempting to unravel the intricacies of a setlist that included songs from artists as diverse as Elvis Presley and James Brown. There's nothing like leaving things until the last minute is there?
6 oclock in the evening and I'm as ready as I'm ever going to be; we're playing at Clive's 50th birthday party at Harpenden Rugby Club which is less than an hour from us but we're due there at 7 so I load the car up and, as is the way of things in these (relatively) techno-friendly times, go to get the sat. nav. out of the glove compartment to programme in the venue details. It's not there- no problem, it must be in the draw in the hallway... no, not there either... Shirl thought it was in the glove compartment as well, perhaps we bought it in the other night after the T.V. Smith gig? No I don't think that we did- which can only mean one thing...
It's a strange feeling when you realise that something's been stolen from you isn't it? I think I remember reading somewhere that it's very similar to being bereaved and that there are various stages that we all go through- after realising what had happened we both got stuck into the 'anger' stage straight away, trying to work out where and when the theft might have happened with oaths and curses a-plenty, although in the end it's all in vain, it's gone and that's about all there is to it and no amount of swearing will change that. It doesn't half make you feel better 'though! Fortunately we still own a map which equally fortunately was still in the car (not much of a black market for them I guess!) so we were still able to find Harpenden (M1 junction 9) and arrive at the venue in good time. We sit in the car park for a minute or two, still angry but more resigned, defeated even, not a good feeling to have but there's a gig to do and the evening can only get better. I go inside the main building to look for where we're playing, the first thing I encounter is the changing room so it must be upstairs and indeed it is, with the walls adorned with pictures of the birthday boy in various stages of undress and embarrassment (this is a rugby club after all!) and Ian the saxman (often seen depping in the CBB band) setting up his P.A. system. I go back down the stairs and out into the car park to start loading my gear in- and a familiar face greets me with the words 'hello- what are you doing here- you're not in the band are you?' Yes Dave I am... 'you're joking, so am I!' The evening just got better...
The band set up on the floor in the bar; I'm on the far right as you look as us (ULC if you're taking notes) with the mixing desk to my left and Tony's laptop (to be used to provide background music) is on a table next to that. Tony's setting up, I'm setting up- suddenly a drink gets knocked over and it's the first time in ages that I've worn my stage trousers to a gig (I thought it might have been a good idea to look reasonably smart for once! Remind me not to do it again...) and my left leg gets most of it, the rest goes on my guitar leads and effect pedal which Carl the bass player had just been asking me about. Bugger! Still after our stress-fest earlier I decide that it's not worth getting upset about, after all it all works fine and that's the main thing. We're on at 9.30 so there's plenty of time to check the keys and talk through the arrangements of the songs with Carl, it's a lovely evening and we sit out overlooking the rugby pitches wondering just how mad the audience are going to be.
Our first set is mostly Blues Brothers/soul songs which I'm reasonably familiar with- Carl and Dave work together a lot at the moment which certainly helped things rock along 'though I had a bit of a strange moment when the lights were turned off during the first guitar solo which meant that I made some rather, shall we say, interesting note choices... the second set was a bit more diverse, meaning that I got to play songs like 'It's Not Unusual' and 'Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You' with the man who drummed on 'Babylon's Burning'. Strange but true, 'though not as strange as the birthday boy being encouraged to perform The Full Monty by his Dad; he did it (of course- it is a rugby club after all!) which had Shirley running for cover and me making bad gags about recognising him from the photos.

Talking of evenings that got better, last night's Kris Dollimore gig at The Load of Hay was everything that I'd hoped it would be i.e. absolutely and totally brilliant. I got there around 7 o'clock to set the P.A. up- Kris (who once worked with Dave in Adam Ant's band) was due there for 8 but the phone call came through not long after that to say that he was stuck on the M25. I chewed what was left of my nails for 15 minutes or so (putting gigs on is much more difficult that playing them!) until he arrived; after loading in he set up in a matter of minutes and got on with the job in hand. The opening number 'Soul Of A Man' had bearly finished before one of the pub regulars came up to me with the words 'you said he was good but I didn't realise he was going to be that good'. There followed 2 sets of some of the best guitar playing that I think I'll ever see- yes, it was that good. There's a new album due in the Autumn (sadly it won't include his instrumental version of 'Jolene' as he's hoping to release an all-instumental collection one day) which should be a contender for album of the year- and this was another contender for gig of the year, very different from the New York Dolls gig a couple of weeks ago but no less captivating, no less inspirational, no less magnificent. All in all a fabulous performance from a master musician at the top of his game- if you were there you'll know what I mean and if you weren't then please don't miss him next time. Yes- it was that good.

Thanks to Andy C. and Mario for the title of this posting- click here to find out why!

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