Well - the Wilko Johnson farewell gigs have taken over the World! Ok so that's probably a bit of an overstatement, but the March 6th show at Koko in Camden sold out in no time as did an added date on the 10th and indeed the rest of the shows. It's sad in a way as obviously the increased interest is due to his illness, but also great to see such support for the man. That said there are quite a few tickets on eBay and less reputable agencies for vastly inflated prices which is a great shame - as usual the 'real' fans either miss the shows or are obliged to pay whatever price the ticket touts decide is 'reasonable'. Surely more can be done to stop this from happening - there are stories on Wilko's Facebook page about people able to buy as many as twenty tickets when the limit should theoretically have been eight. Very poor. I managed to get tickets for both of the London shows - I'm sure I'm not the only person who considered giving them a miss and remembering him as I do now, but in the end couldn't resist seeing him just a couple more times. In the meantime Wilko gave an excellent interview on BBC Radio 4 this week in which he demonstrates his fabled guitar technique, reminisces about his career and tells of how his cancer diagnosis made him feel 'vividly alive'. It's inspirational stuff, as you can hear here - these are going be very emotional shows.
On a (much) lighter note the excellent Music Ruined My Life blog currently has last December's 12 Bar Club show from myself and T.V Smith (joined for a few numbers by Pascal Briggs) available to download - you can read my story of the evening here if you'd like to, and can download our hour-ish long set here. I must have a listen to it myself! Blogmeister Jeffen is promising 'more of this under-appreciated figure's accomplishments' very soon. Amazingly I think he means me! Oo-er!
Two very different gigs this weekend, during the course of which I played over 50 different songs. On Friday Big Al Reed and The Cardiac Arrests (I wonder if I'm the only band member who thinks that we could do with a better name? I must ask them next time!) visited The Swan in Iver. Al and myself generally attend the first-Sunday-of-the-month open mic night there (indeed we'll hopefully be there this coming Sunday) but this was the first gig for the band, and it generally went well especially considering that we hadn't played together since back in December. I still think we could do with some rockier material to balance out the slow stuff, but there's no denying Al's ability to sing a ballad. Overall a good gig, as was Saturday's show depping for Mr. Tibbs at Tropic At Ruislip. The venue usually puts on shows on Friday nights, so this was something of an experimental evening for the club. It was rather experimental from my point of view too, as I only had one rehearsal with the band and had to get to grips with material from the likes of INXS, Duran Duran and Simple Minds among (many) others, none of which I'd played before. In the event the evening exceeded expectations both in terms of the number of people in the audience and the band's performance - I thought that I'd made any number of wrong turns during the show, but talking to people afterwards everyone seemed to think that it sounded great - and I for one wasn't about to tell them that they were wrong.
Sunday night I appeared on the Music Scene Investigation podcast for the first time in several months - I initially had problems hearing the tracks to be reviewed (fortunately I decided to check that they were working before the broadcast began!) and there were a few issues with Tom's video signal during the show, but generally this was probably the most enjoyable MSI show that I've been involved with. The three songs were all of such a high standard that it was very difficult to decide which one came should come out on top, and somehow I ended up with the casting vote which I don't mind admitting was quite nerve racking. You can check out the three artists concerned via these links - Garrett Harbison, Athena Creese and World5 - and watch the show here - see if you think we (or indeed I) made the correct decision.
And last night myself and the two Terry's from The Upper Cut (Roger couldn't make it sadly) got together to discuss ideas for new songs, getting more gigs and general band stuff - we're at The Half Moon in Harrow this coming Saturday for the first time in ages which should be a good night, although I remember last time the venue had problems with neighbours who thought that the bands were playing too loud. An interesting evening in prospect then...