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Blog: The End Of An Era

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And so at last it came to pass, the FINAL Perfomance of My Exciting Life In ROCK!

Well, for now anyway. I sort of get the feeling I might end up doing it again some time in the future - I still harbour a desire to properly WRITE it all down at some point, so will probably end up wheeling the ACT out again, but after THIS gig it was all going to be the new album and then Dinosaur Planet. The question toppermost in my mind was "Will this be a FITTING end?"

Yes. Yes it was.

I met Mr S Hewitt in The Rake, a tiny but GRATE pub which is FULL of all sorts of AMAZING beers. I also met Mr Al Ewing, he who what writes GRATE stuff for 2000AD - I had been thinking, only last Wednesday, how BRILLIANT his Judge Dredd is and so took the opportunity to tell him so. Probably at rather too much length, but still.

Some BEER later we set off for London Bridge station and the train to Brighton, where after some SEARCHING we found the train to Moulsecommb and hopped on. We were booked to do the show at Moulsecoomb community allotments, as part of The Brighton Fringe, the STORY behind which is thus: I really wanted to play the Brighton Fringe Festival, but applications were right in the middle of me doing TONNES of work getting the new album ready, so I never got round to it. A month or so after the deadline had passed I saw an email from the organisers asking if anybody could do a benefit gig for the allotments, who had recently had their OVEN stolen. It sounded like a GRATE cause (and if you look at their website you'll see it is IMMENSELY worthwhile) so I said I'd like to have a go. And they said yes!

I'd had an email from Warren The Organiser to tell me how to find the allotments and we HOPPED off the train, down a little cutting and were soon striding MANFULLY up the hill through the allotments. Everyone was busily chatting, chopping wood, managing fires etc but we soon found Warren himself, who told us that they'd had LOADS of applications to do the show, and they'd chosen me because i seemed the most laid back. I was CHUFFED. He said they were thinking of doing it more as a thank you for the volunteers and kids (a lot of the work they do with children from the nearby estate who, as he said, "don't have a lot of fun at school") than a big show, which was fair enough i guess, but I did hope that others might be able to find it!

We wandered off to look for an Off Licence, finding the surrounding area to be very reminiscent of Braunstone in Leicester. When we got back I found myself chatting to one of the volunteers who rather sheepishly admitted he'd just bought one of my CDs from a charity shop. He though I might be upset, but I was MASSIVELY PLEASED to think that we had made it to the extent that we were appearing in The British Heart Foundation! It might sound strange, but to me that's an affirmation that we make PROPER RECORDS that people actually MIGHT alight upon excitedly next to all the unwanted copies of "Be Here Now".

Phil from Victory Records arrived, who I'd not seen for AGES, and then it was soon time to get going. I made a trip to the Compost Toilet, Steve went for a walk around the allotments waving the SIGN at people, and then i HIKED up hill to The Forest Clearing, which they'd cleared out especially. It was like a natural ampitheatre (and is apparently OFFICIALLY part of the South Downs National Park now!), although i did find it a bit SCARY being on a SLOP like that - there was also a big HOLE near where I stood, which I managed, somehow, NOT to fall into.

People filtered up, shepherded by Steve who tried to get everyone close enough together to be able to hear my properly, and I ASSESSED the audience. They do quite a bit of work with Adults with Learning Disabilities, some of whom had been shouting a bit further down the hill - i thus thought there might be some calling out during the gig and so, during The Business Before We Begin, I did take pains to remind everyone that I could hear them as much as they could hear ME. I was, however, worrying about the wrong people.

Right in front of me, in the middle of everyone, were four teeange boys and one lad in his early twenties who I'd spoken to beforehand and seemed to be Slightly Lairy but OK. I LAUNCHED into the first song and the first story and all seemed well - they were quite excitable, laughed and joined in, but almost immediately started going too far and shouting things out. The whole "have you ever thought of writing a book... instead of making that horrible noise with your mouth?" was SPOILT by this, and I have to admit, dear reader, it SHOOK me a bit.

Not THAT much tho, and I carried on, but was soon facing the Classic Teacher's Conundrum: What DO you do about Disruptive Elements? Shouting out continued and then changed to Throwing Sticks, first at each other, then at ME. After The Peterborough All Saints Wide Game Team (group B) I stepped towards the rear of the clearing where my BEER was, and Steve whispered "KEEP GOING!" - much needed! - and I thought to myself "I really do have to DO something here." I tried making them aware of my PRESENCE by standing near them, I tried ENGAGING them by asking them specifically to join in with the DANCING in Do The Indie Kid, but it was only drawing attention to them. LIKE a teacher I realised that if I spent ALL my time on then then i was REWARDING bad behaviour and reducing the CARE I was giving to everyone ELSE... and also i was getting really annoyed, so just stopped doing the gig, POINTED at one of them and gave him a PROPER TELLING OFF. AHA!

Much to my surprise this appeared to work, as over the next few minutes they got up, one by one, and nonchalantly wandered off as if that was the plan all along, led by the lad in his twenties. It was a BLOODY MASSIVE RELIEF I have to say, and the whole rest of the gig felt HUGELY more fun. Everybody else appeared to think so too - we'd got through the disruption and, happily, had done so just in time for the Much Quicker And Funnier Second Half! HOORAH!

After that it all seemed to go REALLY well, and at the end there was a LOT of cheering... especially for Steve, who practically got a standing ovation! He handed out badges, I did 'Boom Shake The Room' and that was it, DONE!

We were just packing up, however, when Mr Nick Stockman appeared, out of breath having cycled around up hill and down dale trying to find the way! I know Nick because he used to put me on at his ACE gigs at The 12 Bar but he's now in CHARGE of the Fringe Festival himself, so I was really pleased to see he'd found the time to come over and felt HONOUR BOUND to comply with his request for at least one song, and did him The Lesson Of The Smiths. It was the least I could do!

We said our thanks and farewells, made our way down to the station and were soon back in Brighton. I have to say i REALLY needed a pint and really REALLY wanted to go back to the Evening Star. I was SO glad we did - me, Steve and Phil had a couple of LOVELY pints, got into conversation with two blokes and a DOG about Diverse Topics, and bumped into a surprised/REFRESHED Ben From The Lovely Brothers!

It was FAB, and we even had time for an M&S JAUNT before getting the train home again. A fitting end to the show all round!

posted 18/5/2009 by MJ Hibbett

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