Well at least one good thing has come out of all the recent gig cancellations - I've had chance to watch the recent season of 'Punk Britannia' programmes on BBC4. (Yeah, I know, that's scant consolation for not playing, loss of earnings, feeling as though months of work on the 'Cool Britannia' show has gone to waste, sleepless nights and probably lots of other bad things as well - but I'm trying to find something good about the last few weeks ok?!?) Generally I've found them to be excellent - it always seems to me as though everybody involved has a a slightly different take on the same story, but I suppose that's inevitable if you think about it. It goes without saying that it was wonderful to see the T.V. Smith documentary 'We Who Wait' at last (it's been many years in the making) and I thoroughly enjoyed 'Evidentally... John Cooper Clarke' and the reshowing of the 'Arena' documentary on Poly Styrene and X-Ray Spex which I don't remember seeing that again since it's first showing all those years ago. But the best show for me has been 'Punk Britannia At The BBC', a compilation of various appearances between 1975-80. Highlights were many and varied, but seeing The Lurkers on 'Top Of The Pops' performing 'I Don't Need To Tell Her' had to be the best moment for me, not least because like the X-Ray Spex programme mentioned above it's a clip that I don't think I've seen since it's original broadcast. (I can't find it on YouTube so instead here is the same song live on 'Revolver' around the same time - great stuff!) The Ruts looked pretty good too!
Once again some Cool Britannia shows bit the dust this week - this is getting depressing! As so often happens in life when something new starts to go wrong you find yourself going back to something old (maybe I should take up philosophy full time?!?) and this weekend saw your humble narrator gigging with The Chicago Blues Brothers for the first time since January, and with Dave Finnegan for the first time since way back in 2010.
They (whoever 'they' are) say that you should never return to the scene of a crime and maybe 'they' are correct, but the fact that the only two CBB shows this year have been at The Pizza Express in Maidstone is a measure of how little work there is around at the moment. Friday's show can't quite be described as a crime but it certainly wasn't one that I for one will look back on particularly fondly. With the venue less than half full (it's often sold out when we appear there) and the band (I'm on guitar with Pete and Mike as Jake and Elwood, Ian on keyboards, Squirrel on bass, Marc on drums and Dave and Richard on trumpet and saxophone) suffering from a severe lack of match practice it was a less-than-classic performance - but realistically it could hardly have been much else.
Last night was a bit more enjoyable, in a tent in the back garden of a very - make that very - big house somewhere near Kings Langley. We (Chris on keyboards, Richard on sax, and myself) were playing over backing tracks, although that was a long way from my mind as I went to plug my amplifier in and found that the allotted plug board was soaking wet. Having been lucky enough to survive the Jubilee gig earlier this month I wasn't taking any chances, and another board was found; whether a similar situation caused the power to fail completely during 'Try A Little Tenderness' is unclear, but thankfully it was the only negative moment in a great set from Dave. Matt and Mike had provided backing vocals (along with Pete) throughout, and they returned with us backing them for an hour of Blues Brothers and beyond - an good performance all round.
Right then - no gigs this weekend because, you've guessed it, they've all been cancelled.
Let's see what happens next...