Monday, August 01, 2011

The Italian Job

So - I end a posting with a bit of unbridled optimism for once and then spend the latter half of the week just gone feeling terrible. Well not terrible exactly, but not too good - the long-suffering Shirley thinks I might have some sort of virus which is making me feel very tired with an intermittent headache, aching muscles and a few stomach problems that I won't go into here. Yes I know it sounds like a hangover but I can assure you that it's not... this wouldn't have happened when I was in my forties!

There have been three gigs since the last posting, the first of which was in Leeds with The Briefcase Blues Brothers. Now I've heard a lot about Bibis Italianissimo, an Art Deco-styled Italian Restaurant (really!) that has been the scene of many eventful BBB performances, not least around the Christmas period. Well it's certainly an extraordinary place, and if Wednesday's gig was anything to go by it's reputation as a venue is more than justified. Adam's on drums, Kylan's on bass, Rob's on keyboards and Mario and McGoo are Jake and Elwood - I'd not worked with Rob before, he uses headphones rather than an amplifier with a small mixing desk to control his sound and to enable him to hear himself and the band. It's an unusual idea but it certainly seemed to work for him. And I'd not seen McGoo for ages; since we last spoke he's been to America to record some solo material and very good it is too (check out his website here, his Facebook page here, and if you like the music it's available on iTunes now!)
After a straightforward soundcheck it's time for an excellent - and I mean excellent - meal (vegetarian ravioli makes a welcome change from coleslaw and potatoes I can tell you!) Mario, McGoo, Adam and myself walked around the corner past The Cockpit to the Yates's for a drink and to be amused by the fact that 2 poles have been fitted in the pub... there was might best be described as a 'guerrilla busker' outside who seemed to be rushing up to unsuspecting passers-by and singing to them (or maybe more accurately 'at them') which seemed to create a bit of consternation but which looked quite funny from where we were sitting.
Back at the venue there are plenty of people in, and our 90 minute set seems to last no time at all - always a good sign. A young lady called Lizzy who I think was out on her hen night was cajoled by her mates into joining us on stage (although we did nothing to stop her!) to add some impressive vocals to 'Mustang Sally', and there's plenty of boisterous banter between the Brothers and the audience. Great stuff.
After the show I made a visit to the Gents (like you do!) and was followed through the door by two young ladies. 'You can see I'm not local can't you?' said the first cheerily and they both giggled. I doubt that either if them had seen me. 'Well I don't know about that but I'm not sure that you should be in here' said I for the want of anything wittier to say; 'Oooh it's a men's one' said the second young lady amid even more giggling, and then they were gone. Wednesday night in Leeds eh?

Two Uppercut gigs this weekend, the first of which was on Friday when we made our second visit to The Anglers Retreat in Staines. I'd been in the shop that day but had left feeling rough - I went home and slept for 2 1/2 hours, which with hindsight probably got me through the show. As Roger and myself arrived we found the two Terry's in the car park - 'someone's just said ''you're that band that plays all the Rod Stewart stuff aren't you?'' ' said Terry the bass somewhat ruefully. At least we weren't billed as a tribute band this time. It wasn't as busy as our first show there (it was Royal Wedding Day which I guess could have accounted for the large turnout?) but it was still pretty crowded by the time we started playing. After our first set I was at the bar talking to arch Flying Squad fan Tony and his mate Martin who had come along to check us out (good boys!) a chap came up to me and said that he liked the band but that 'as a Clapton fan I have to tell you that your version of 'Layla' was crap'. I briefly considered saying something along the lines of 'as a Clapton fan I have to tell you that I think your opinion is crap' but instead contented myself with 'oh, we like it', which must have really annoyed him as I later found he went round to the rest of the band and told them that he'd 'just told your guitarist that as a Clapton fan...'
Our second set saw a young lady called Sally (it was her birthday - can you guess which song we played for her? Well, we had to didn't we!?) got all her mates up to dance which made backing vocals a dangerous proposition (you only need to get a microphone in the teeth once to know that you never want to get one again!) but a gang of girls going mad in front of the band is just the thing to guarantee that the band gets a bit of attention. We played well, went down really well and encored with 'It's All Over Now' and 'Jumpin' Jack Flash'. Good job we didn't make a mess of another one of Eric's songs eh?

Sunday we returned to The Ivy Leaf Club in Uxbridge for a gig with a difference - we were on between 3 and 6 in the afternoon. Time was when quite a few venues would put on Sunday afternoon gigs but that seems less common these days and I for one was surprised when Kevin at the club suggested it but it turned out to be a good call on the club's behalf. I was feeling a bit better than I had at Staines and so found it an easier show to play even though we made a couple of wrong turns here and there - a shaky version of 'You Never Can Tell' (normally play that one rather well!) was eclipsed in the 'dodgy song stakes' by 'All Or Nothing' (again, it's normally ok) which went completely wrong before the second chorus for no apparent reason. Maybe it's just as well that we didn't play 'Layla' or anything could have happened... someone asked for a Dr. Feelgood song (he caught me in the wrong band! We played him a Pirates song instead!) and our encore of 'Jumping Jack Flash' (yeah, that one again!) was immediately followed by a game of 'Play Your Cards Right'. Now there's something I never thought would ever happen.

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