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Blog: Best Gig EVER?

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We played at The Bull & Gate in That London last night - i and we have played there many MANY times, some gigs have been GRATE, some have been AWFUL, and most have been MEMORABLE, but last night's was perhaps the MOST GRATE... EVER! ANYWHERE!

The evening started, for me, about 3 o'clock, when i got THE FEAR. I've probably mentioned this here before - it's not like NERVES really, and it's not due to me worrying about things, it's just something that HAPPENS. Even when I've not been thinking about a gig, or i KNOW it's going to be fine or not matter either way, it can just ARRIVE, and fill me with DREAD, also DOOM and FOREBODING. I seem to go through phases with THE FEAR too - i've gone MONTHS without getting it at all, and other times when it is CRIPPLING, and this time was one of those times when i just want to go and HIDE somewhere, when the thing I'd like MOST is for someone to just CANCEL the gig. Nice People always say things like "You'll be fine! You've done this loads of times! The band will be there, it'll all be OK!" but there isn't really much you can do when THE FEAR strikes, except what I did - have a bath, have something to eat, then get on the train and head for the GIG.

I arrived, it seemed to me, in a PARALLEL UNIVERSE, for LO! Mr Frankie Machine was ALREADY THERE! Francis Albert is LEGENDARY in the band for being last to arrive - indeed, when we played in Derby he discovered that I'd been delayed on the train, so went home again SO he could be the last to arrive! OK, actually he went off to get some DAT tapes together and finish mastering 'Warriors Of Nanpantan' so I'd have it in time to send to the manufacturers, but HEY! Let us not let THAT stand in the way of the story eh?

Charlie from The Fighting Cocks also arrived, and me, Him, Asha Also From The Fighting Cocks, Frankie Machine, and Joanne, his much better half, sat for a CHAT. Charlie celebrates International Talk Like A Pirate Day every year like an EVANGELIST, and he was wondering whether we should try a Talk Like A Jane Austen Character Day? Now, i personally think this is a GRATE idea... sorry, it is a thought i have often considered, but rarely carried out. If i might make one suggestion, it would only be that before one attempts the act of speaking in this manner, one might be advised to sit to read one of the above mentioned novels.

Charlie seemed to think there was a lot of SWORD FIGHTING in Jane Austen books. I now plan to FORCE him to read one, but i FEAR he may be a bit disappointed.

Anyway, by now Tim and Emma had arrived, and THE FEAR had gone. With sat and watched the other band soundchecking (with a version of Seven Seas of Rye - Tim's drumkit was being used to commit acts of QUEEN!!), and worried about where Tom was. With good reason, as it turned out, as he'd had to STOP and TAKE A BREAK due to nearly falling asleep on the way! EEK! I found it odd that, when he arrived, he rang from the other side of the fire doors - why had he not come in the normal way? I couldn't get them open, and rather than go and find someone to open them, I said "just go back and come in the front." It's a LONG walk back round the front, and it was a minute before i realised he'd brought his ENORMOUS BACK BREAKING amp of HUGENESS with him - and I'd made him LUG it an EXTRA MILE!

Oh, i am a bad person, really i am. I rushed to HELP, and then it was SOUNDCHECK TIME. We were astounded - it sounded REALLY GOOD! All the instruments were balanced correctly, and you could hear the WORDS - this hardly EVER happens! We all fell over ourselves to THANK the nice lady doing the sound, and indeed continued to be pathetically grateful all night. I know it always sound like TOOL BLAMING when bands complain about the gig being a bit rubbish because of the soundman not being bothered, but GOODNESS ME when someone does it right it doesn't HALF make a difference!

By now people were starting to ARRIVE, and it was THRILLING! As is my WONT i wondered back and forth between the back and front bars, checking to see if anyone had turned up - normally when i do this there's never anyone there, but THIS time everytime I looked there was someone NEW! It was LOVELY! The EXTREMELY NICE thing about the LONG LONG TIME it's taken us to actually GET an audience is that it's meant I've had enough time to get to KNOW most people who come to gigs, so it was BEAUTIFUL finding more and more lovely people i knew arriving as time went by. Some people had even come WRONG - for instance, John Kell of Cambridge University Radio now lives in LONDON, not Cambridge OR The North. It was nice to see him, and several OTHER people who have moved down here recently, but it was a bit CONFUSING.

Even more lovely, and fitting the general Wedding Reception VIBE of our gigs, The Petals On My Daffodil had arrived, as had my BROTHER and his lovely girlfriend, AND my soon to be sister-in-law. The aforementioned BROTHER pointed out that this was one of the few gigs where audience members are welcomed personally at the door, and the Soil In My Plant Pot added that it was probably the ONLY one where people were then introduced to THE FAMILY. It's LOVELY!

And then ... STAGE TIME! We did the gig! It was BLOODY GRATE! The sound STILL sounded really GRATE, and the room was PACKED - apparently the friends of the OTHER bands also came in, and so i attempted to prove my own theory of Stage Dancing i.e. if people on stage JIG ABOUT, people in the audience do too. A subdomain of the theory is that this only works to a certain level i.e. if i start DISCO DANCING then people STOP and just LOOK, but if you JIG ABOUT, then other people do. My theory is CORRECT, with the added note " and they do it even more when Emma dances." Oh yes.

I may be over-using the word "lovely" here, but it was all just LOVELY. Everyone APPLAUDED the Introducing The Band bits, i got some LAFFS, there was DANCING, people in the audience seemed to know the words and, for a change, so did I! BEST OF ALL was when we did "Easily Impressed" and i DID NOT do the whole "now, when I nod my head, say 'Oi Hibbett'" BIT - and it worked!!! FANTASTIC! What with the FUN we were having on stage, the actual HUGE CROWD who were bopping and singing and having FUN also, and the SOUND being so SPLENDID (i saw people react to the words - they could HEAR them!!!), and indeed us ALL playing and singing WELL, it was a heavy contender for BEST! GIG! EVER! Here's what we played:
The Gay Train
Hey Hey 16K
Never Going Back To Aldi's
The Fight For History
Billy Jones Is Dead
Quality Of Life Enhancement Device
Easily Impressed
Things'll Be Different
Symbol Of OUr Nation

Other THORTS: Everyone seems to really liked "The Gay Train", "Quality Of Life Enhancement Device" gets more and more COOL every time we play it, Emma's new Harmony Vocals in "Billy Jones Is Dead" are GRATE (i could HEAR them!) as is Tom's bit at the start of "The Fight For History" (i could HEAR it!), and my whole band are just GRATE. We did a NEW BIT in "Things'll Be Different" when i got Tom and Rob to sing one of the "This Is Not A Library" bits. It was REALLY COOL. Unfortunately, shortly afterwards in the last verse of "Symbol Of Our Nation" my BRANE go a bit overloaded thinking "Whoo! This is Good!" and "That bit was a good idea!" and "look at all these people!" and "I wonder how quickly i can get some more BEER?" so that i forgot THE WORDS. FOr me, forgetting the words ONCE is pretty DARN good, even tho i utterly failed to cover it up. Oh well, hopefully it was CHARMING.

We came off stage unable to do the ENCORE that - oh yes! - people really seemed to want, due to TIME CONSTRAINTS, and stood together in the back room shaking a bit with AMAZEMENT at how GOOD it was. "The new sounds are really CLICKING!" said Rob. "I think they're BETTER than the old ones!" said Tim, and i felt PROUD. I went out to wave CDs around, and sold a few, although i realised that the only DOWN SIDE of having an audience full of people who know all the words is that this is because they OWN the CDs and don't need to buy any new ones. AHA!

Ivan The Lighting Guy, before the gig, had told us he could do us a VIDEO of the night, for 85 QUID - we, of course, SCOFFED at the very idea, but were RABID for it by the time we'd finished. Rather brilliantly, we got PAID for the gig - this hardly ever happens, and it's the first time EVER I've got paid for playing the Bull and Gate. The rule is that you need 17 fully paying punters (NOT guestlist or industry guestlist, of which we had a few) before you even START getting paid, so in the past Andy or Mike The Promoters (i think it's Andy who's left now, but anyway) have said "Er... sorry. Here's a fiver towards your train fare though", which is always LOVELY of them. MIke or Andy (see above) LARFED when i told him this, but it be TRUE! Anyway, my brother James was VERY keen on getting a video too - the only DOWNSIDE of the whole night was that my DAD wasn't there. As mentioned before, we'd arranged it especially because it was his birthday, and he'd planned to come down for the evening from Peterborough (where they're visiting my NAN) on the train. HOWEVER, all trains from Peterborough were CANCELLED due to "Engineering Works", so he couldn't make it. This afternoon i spoke to him and felt a bit guilty telling him how GRATE it was, but as Jim says, at least we can give him the VIDEO now. Er... just to rub it in.

So yes, we scrabbled together the CA$H, and then Ivan tried to sell us the video by making us watch some of it. Why he did this i don't know - we'd been watching it on the TV screens in the PUB, and I was waving NOTES at him, but I guess he felt he had to go through the routine. I got the VHS, Tim got the MINIDISC, and all was JOY.

After that it was lovely CHATTING and arsing around. I spoke to Regular Gig Goer Stephen Walker, who was wearing an IMPERIAL WALKER t-shirt. We LARFED at the link with his name, and then he pointed out that he works for Imperial College, and had always wanted to be on University Challenge, just so the announcer could say "Imperial - WALKER." It was very funny. I also talked to TEAM KOOBA, and told the OLD STORY about The One Time I Had An E, And Danced About A Bit, illustrated with IRISH COUNTRY DANCER. This was all very jolly, HOWEVER it was simultaneously told to Nic and Emma, whose wedding we're meant to be playing at... and whose MUM/MOTHER-IN-LAW was ALSO with them. I am assured that this probably DOESN'T mean i am now considered in their family to be an RAVING DRUG FIEND, but you know - i do look pretty DANGEROUS and EDGY, right?

It was all UTTERLY LOVELY, and there was much HUGGING and congratulations, before we headed off into the night. I went to bed still BUZZING with ZANG! about the whole evening. I woke up this morning STILL going "KERPOW! WHOO HOO! OH YEAH! ROCK AND ROLL!" even though I set off for WORK at noon - yes, I am sat at WORK now, gradually typing this whilst I wait for some DATASETS to GENERATE. This is NOT the sort of thing, i would bet, that BONO ever has to do the day after a gig.

In summary then: OH YEAH! YEAH! WE ROCK!

posted 30/1/2005 by MJ Hibbett

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