Sunday, August 02, 2009

Madness beckons...

...or maybe it's already here?

It was the (very) early hours of this morning, and myself and East found ourselves standing on a street corner somewhere in Uxbridge. Unusually for us we'd been in a pub (that's an attempt at irony in case you hadn't realised) and we were reflecting on our evening when a police car drew up alongside us. Surely we're to old for all that 'stop and search' stuff? It's ok, it's only stopped at the traffic lights... as we desperately tried to not look guilty we became aware of someone running towards us from the road opposite; as they got nearer we realised it was a young man clad in t-shirt and shorts. As he got closer he looked more and more agitated and both of us noticed that he didn't have any shoes on. He ran across the road in front of the police car; as he passed us our heads turned to follow him up the road as he huffed and puffed his way towards (or maybe away from) oblivion.
'Hmm..' said East warily, 'we never get invited to the good parties do we?'
The police car drew away, but it didn't follow him. We wondered if the kebab shop was still open.

We'd been to see Grapevine Blues at The Load of Hay. They were ok, a duo playing songs by the likes of Freddie King, Peter Green and T-Bone Walker to a small but appreciative audience, at least 2 of which asked me if I thought that you could play blues along to a drum machine. Well Grapevine Blues clearly think that you can although it all sounded a bit nice to me, like 'music that you'd hear in a hotel lounge' as East put it. The splendidly-named Dr. Ika is obviously a very good player but played a few too many notes for my tastes 'though it was undeniably very impressive. Then again they had a gig on a Saturday night and I didn't so they must be doing something right?

At least I'd had a gig the night before, with The Chicago Blues Brothers at an open air event at The Lensbury Hotel in Teddington. With the weather currently rather unpredictable it was good to see blue skies as myself and the long-suffering Shirley left for the show; we've not replaced our recently stolen sat. nav. yet (they're expensive!) so rather wildly decided to try using the GPS facility on my iPhone. It got us there with no trouble at all- I spent most of the journey saying things like 'we'll be turning right soon' and 'this thing's amazing!' which I thought was ok 'though Shirley's enthusiasm for finding the money to buy a new device seems to have grown exponentially since Friday. The hotel's on the same road as Teddington Studios; after asking at reception we were directed to the goods entrance where Howard the security man asked us to unload our equipment then bring the car back to park it at the front of the hotel. (We never did, and nor did any of the rest of the band! Sorry Howard!) It's a A-Team gig although Tracy's in a bad way- she's cracked her right elbow and is obviously in a lot of pain. After a recent discussion with sound guru Ian Bond I'd decided to use a bigger amplifier for outdoor shows, a Fender Blues DeVille (60 watts) instead of the Blues Junior (15 watts) that I use for theatre shows- I'm glad I did as I've had problems hearing myself at events such as this and this seemed to cure the problem. Soundcheck included a go at 'Show Me' (haven't played that since the days with Dave Finnegan's Commitments) and less successful attempts at the likes of 'Walk This Way' and 'Rock and Roll'. It sounded great, so much so that Squirrel says something like 'outdoor gigs, that's the way to go' as we leave the stage to make way for the other act on the bill, a Tina Turner tribute act known as 'Totally Tina'. She's actually called Paula, and within a few minutes of meeting Pete a plan had formed for her to join us during 'River Deep, Mountain High' near the end of our set.
After a visit to The Thames View Restaurant (jacket potato for me, lasagne for everyone else) it was back to our dressing room (actually a tent) to await Paula's set. The hotel grounds back onto the river (the Thames in case you were wondering) where herons and cormorants survey the famous lock in search of unsuspecting fish, and 2 policemen spend ages questioning a young man on the bank opposite. Paula's show takes a while to get going, she's got a quick-change area set up on the stage and wears a series of increasingly outrageous costumes throughout her set. By 'Simply The Best' there's plenty of dancing and the atmosphere is good which bodes well for our show. We start on time (8.30) just as it's beginning to get dark, the stage is big enough for Matt and Mike to cover enough ground to be soaked in sweat earlier in the set than usual and the audience respond in kind. Halfway through the show I look around to see Pete's wife Jayne on stage looking at the horn player's setlist, an odd moment 'though it turned out that Paula had asked her to find out how many songs there were until she was due to join us; 'River Deep, Mountain High' goes well with Tracy and Paula trading lines and hamming it up furiously. A highly enjoyable gig, and I must remember to use my bigger amp at these sort of shows again- I loved it! Ian said it sounded good from behind the keyboards too; then again he had just poured himself a glass of red wine with the words 'I've got wine flu' so I guess his judgement may have been a little unreliable.

This week among other things I've got to fill in an online tax return, and have a final look at the songs for an upcoming Madness tribute show. Which reminds me- what's the first sign of Madness? Suggs knocking at your front door...

The Price / Colour Me Wednesday gig in Cowley a couple of weeks ago was reviewed in the local paper- check out the Price website to see what the mysterious Samantha Stevens thought of our efforts...

1 comment:

mad john said...

oi oi leigh mad john ere dunno if youre free on friday night but mick jones's cousins band taurus trakker are playing in ladbroke grove with rumours of an appearance by the man himself and support is from alternative tv and viv albertine
full details here and only a £5 to get in
see u there!!!!