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Blog Archive: June 2012

Lightyear Foundation
Last night I was playing at the "MindChaos" night, an evening of STUFF in aid of The Lightyear Foundation, a science-type charity who do work in GHANA.

It was a hot, muggy evening when I arrived and found that, yes, this WAS the pub where I saw I,Ludicrous play to about five people a few years ago. There were more people in this evening, but someone seemed to have imported a JOB LOT of Stereotypical Annoying People In Pubs. Many old favourites were there - Woman who laughs INCREDIBLY LOUDLY "HAHAHAHA! HA!" at EVERYTHING - hello old friend! People who have no idea how A BAR works and get annoyed that they don't get served while standing NOT AT THE BAR - nice to see you again! And when I said "No, this lady was in front of me" and indicated one of the above, why, it was our chum Person Who Doesn't Say Thanks Or Even Acknowledge That You've Done This, Even Though It's Their Own Silly Fault. Later on, when the football started, we were even treated to a GROUP of People Standing Right In Front Of The Telly And Wondering Why People Are Looking At Them AND People Putting Their Chairs RIGHT Across The Pub So Nobody Can Get Past. JOYOUS!

This GRUMPINESS aside the actual pub itself, The Miller, was dead nice - I had a LOVELY pint of beer and the Thai Food was ACE. It was while consuming the above that one of the organisers said hello, and said she'd been excited to see me at the Museums Showoff gig. "A Musical Act based on SCIENCE!" she exclaimed. URK! I suddenly remembered that THAT was the idea behind the booking, so fell upon my setlist with new INTENT - what songs did I have that I could convincingly say were science based?

What with one thing and another the evening kicked off a little late - FOOTBALL and SUNSHINE were the reasons - and I did THIS:

  • The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
  • A Little Bit
  • It Only Works Because You're here
  • The Perfect Love Song
  • Strangely Attractive
  • Hey Hey 16K
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths

  • As you can, I started off with The Faster Songs and realised (AGAIN - I really should make a note of this) that this WASN'T a ROCK audience and that, counter-intuitively, playing LOUDER makes this kind of audience TURN OFF and start chatting and/or looking at their phones. HENCE the change to three LIGHTER songs, which was a GRATE idea, as everyone SHUSHED, and watched, and I could see DELIGHTED faces all around the crowd. PHEW!

    Happy with how it was going I delved into CHAT, and managed to totally DERAIL an attempt on Programming Is A Poetry For Our Time by thinking about how RUBBISH SPSS is. Ooh, it got me so annoyed (I was about to mention something to do with it after the song) that i COMPLETELY FORGOT the first line, and couldn't get it back at all! I apologised for this and carried on, and nobody seemed to mind. Excellent!

    Also excellent was Dr Steve Cross who came on after me and did an AMAZING thing where he got the whole audience to pretend a GOAL had been scored in The Football, to confuse people actually watching it downstairs. I don't think I'm explaining its full majesty, but it was HILARIOUS!

    I must confess I missed the next bit, as I could not resist watching the THRILLING football match - people of the future! This was the one where Italy beat Germany 2-1 with a couple of GRATE Balotelli goals. The fun was only increased by the fact that the pub was FULL of drunk, cheering Italians. It was brill!

    And so ended a delightful evening of football on one floor and SCIENCE on the other. It was EVER THUS!

    posted 29/6/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    Do, Darren, Do
    I've spent many MANY happy hours over the past couple of weeks beavering away on the forthcoming video for Don't, Darren, Don't, which we'll be releasing in about a month's time.

    This one's going to be a semi-animated affair, similar to the one we did for Theme From Dinosaur Planet, with the artwork provided by the inestimable Mr John Allison. This time he created a special COMIC STRIP for us, a small preview of which I can supply to you, THUS:



    If you know the song you can probably guess which section that covers! It's a beautiful piece of work ANYWAY (NB the artwork, i would not dare to presume to say so about the song hem hem that is for others etc etc) but I've come to appreciate it even more by... well, MESSING ABOUT with it. I soon realised that the panels in the artwork are all roughly PORTRAIT sized (the ones above are less so than most), whereas your modern YouTube video is much more letterbox/LANDSCAPE sized. I was already going to be doing some delicate CUTTING OUT on the pictures to make parts of them move, but this meant i had to do quite a bit more than I expected, especially for backgrounds where LINES had to be continued past the original borders.

    I managed to (almost) always do this using existing BITS - I didn't want to spoil the GORGEOUS artwork with my own clumpy hands, so there was quite a bit of cutting and pasting lines from elsewhere, and it was here that I was most IMPRESSED. Everything WORKED. If I had to use, say, a FOOT of a character from one panel in a DIFFERENT panel, then good golly but that foot FITTED. Everything was done thoughtfully, exactly, and with care, it was really rather beautiful. Also, of course, getting up THAT close to it made me realise how DELIGHTFUL all the details were, and how ALIVE it all felt. He really is awfully good at this drawing lark!

    The video's NEARLY finished, with some tweaks and wotnot to be done, and then I've got a press release, mailing list, webpage and so forth to get on with, aiming to UNLEASH the finished package on the world ready for the newsletter at the end of JULY. It may seem to be a way off yet, but FEAR NOT, gentle reader, this is going to be worth the wait!

    posted 27/6/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    Henry V
    Friday night saw The Members Of My Audience and I heading to London's Exciting South Bank, for LO! we were off to THE THEATRE!

    My big birthday present was tickets to see Henry V at the Globe - we'd spent several evenings this week watching a DVD of the Kenneth Branagh version (which, by the way, is ACE) and were ready for CULTURE... although we were still surprised to find that, on leaving THE PUB, 7.30pm on a theatre ticket MEANS 7.30pm, and pretty much everyone else was in their seats with the show just beginning when we rolled in!

    The Globe is an AMAAAAAZING place. It's a recreation of an actual Elizabethan theatre, and you can see pretty much the entire rest of the audience, including a huge THRONG of people standing in the pit, making it a very very different experience to NORMAL theatres where it's DARK so all you can see is the play itself. People always go on and on about "Oh yes, when you see a play performed like this you understand what Shaaaakespeare was really intending" and goodness me but it is TRUE. Pretty much EVERYTHING was being DECLAIMED to the audience, we were constantly ADDRESSED and/or included in the action, it was AMAZING, more like, actually, a comedy gig sort of atmosphere. This DID come across (a bit much i thought) in the production itself, with LOADS of bits played for laughs. It was, as The Two Men In My Pantomime Horse said, "very PANTO", with LOADS of Humorous Voices, Mimed Body Parts, and THE LIKE.

    It also reminded me of the FACT that nearly all productions of Shakespeare EDIT the text - the film version had taken out a HUGE chunk of the "comedy" sections, which got put BACK into this one. Personally I am with SIR KENNETH on this one. When we used to go and see plays for School or at college I used to try REALLY HARD to a) NOT doing The Teachers' Laugh at the "comedy sections but also b) give them a chance to BE funny, but it turns out that, really, humour has changed quite a bit in the past 400 years.

    Still, large chunks of the ACTION were BRILLIANT - the Big Speech was ACE, the WOOING scene at the end was MAGIC and, as I say, it was all terribly EXCITING to see it done As It Was Intended. We came out at the end with MINDS ABLAZE with THORTS about the whole thing, tho with BACKSIDES rather sore. We did get Posh Cushions as part of the Birthday Treat, but still: wooden benches don't half ACHE after a while!

    Thinking about it now it does seem FITTING that my first experience of The Actual Theatre after so long was KIND OF a recreation of The SHAKESPEARE in original surroundings. There's going to have to be a LOAD of plays viewed as I move towards the MA in September, if they're all this good I shall be very happy... though I do hope the chairs get comfier!

    posted 26/6/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    Hibbettfest 2012
    The journey to HIBBETTFEST on Saturday began at Euston Station, where I met Mr S Hewitt and found him to be UNNERVINGLY free of BAGS. The past several times we've been up to Kingswinford for the festival we've been lugging PROPS for whatever SHOW we were about to do, but as there isn't a show to DO this time around, it was just me and a guitar. It felt ODD.

    SHOWS were very much on the agenda, however, as a goodly portion of the trip was taken up with me telling him the current PLAN for the NEW show, tentatively titled "I Dream Of Superheroes". By the end of it it became clear that there IS a pretty reasonable story - Steve went "AHA!" at appropriate points, looked suitably AFEARED when i outlined some of the more RISQUE elements, and seemed to be coming round to the idea of him learning UKELELE for it. I think it might just work!

    We were met at Wolverhampton station by Mr K "Ray's Dad" Kirkham, and we were soon at the Kirkham Family Residence ready for the show. Hibbettfest has been happening here for about 8 or 9 years I think, and it's a wonderful thing to come back to every year, always finding slightly more children and a continuing DELICIOUS array of GRUB. Highlight of the Vegan Buffet this year was the homemade sausage rolls, which it turns out Ray's Mum had made, but it was all GRATE, tho it does feel weird to roll up at a buffet thinking, as usual, "Now, what can I eat here?" and finding that the answer is "THE LOT".

    Mild panic was seeping around the festival site as Mr G Osborn had not been heard from, so when he did arrive, bearing news of a confused SatNav, there was much JOY and, after a half hour or so to get himself fed, he went on "stage" to ROCK OUT. It was MAGICAL, he charmed a garden full of people with SONGS, also CHAT. It was especially brilliant when Luke, Ray's nephew, decided to join in a DANCE ALONG, in full Batman costume. I didn't manage to get a picture of them together, but here's one that shows him in ACTION:



    I thoroughly enjoyed it, right up until the end where I thought "Hang on, I've got to go next. I have taken BEER also, how on earth am I going to follow THAT?" He was REALLY GOOD!

    Gav had also managed to do something that I'd never even thought of - got us a COMPERE! For LO! Ray had been persuaded to carry out MC duties, introducing Gav and announcing the INTERVAL. He'd complained about it, but by the time it was MY spot he was MR SHOWBIZ, doing GAGS, telling TALES, encouraging APPLAUSE - THE LOT. I sense a career around the Professional Comedy Circuit calling! I thus came on to the "stage" (patio) to a healthily warmed crowd, and did THIS:
  • The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
  • My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once
  • It Only Works Because You're here
  • Theme From Dinosaur Planet
  • Strangely Attractive
  • Do The Indie Kid
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • Boom Shake The Room
  • Easily Impressed

  • It all seemed to go WELL - I started off by explaining that this would be a *HITS* set rather than the usual SHOW, due to Steve's OLYMPIC COMMITMENTS... and then had to HAUL the ATTENTION back to ME after everyone got (rightly) all excited about it. I was joined by Luke for much of the set, with young Josh helping out during Do The Indie Kid. It was lovely! I've spent the past few years doing SHOW SONGS and (at Totally Acoustic) trying to do batches of older songs I'm unfamiliar with, so being free to do the aforesaid *HITS* is thoroughly enjoyable - here's a LIVE SHOT that Ray took, demonstrating how happy I was about it, also the appearance of BATMAN:



    Afterwards there was CHAT and also BOOZE. Everyone had BEER, Ray's Mum was wandering around offering WHISKY and RUM, Ray's Dad brought out some homemade cider he'd won in a RAFFLE, and we all tried some RHUBARB WINE that Ray had made some years ago. The Rhubarb Wine was, I must say, SURPRISINGLY NICE. It got to a point where I ended up thinking "Everyone is SO CHATTY and saying EXCITING and NEW things! What is going on?" It has been a while since I've been at a gathering where nearly everyone was QUITE DRUNK!

    Gav said his farewells, then so did the rest of us, and soon the TAXI was here to take us back into town for EVEN MORE BEER in the Wellington. It was thus a VERY JOLLY Hibbett & Hewitt who staggered into New Street Station (STILL AWFUL), raided M&S, and got ensconced on the train. We decided it would be a good idea to BOTH listen to "This Leaden Pall" on our seperate iPods, but something MYSTERIOUS happened: I distinctly recall listening to the first two songs, but then suddenly we were at Watford Junction. Eh? That's usually at least an HOUR from Brum, not 10 minutes. I turned to ask Steve what was going on, but he was FAST ASLEEP, like some Gentleman Of A Certain Age who had been drinking BOOZE all afternoon. Bless! He missed the whole TIME TRAVEL bit!

    Back in London at such HIGH SPEED we headed for the tubes and made our way home, having had a MARVELLOUS day out. It was the best Hibbettfest EVER!

    posted 25/6/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    Dinosaur Planet (REDUX)
    Today I am very happy, almost GIGGLY, to announce the release of Dinosaur Planet (REDUX), a heavily revised version of the original Dinosaur Planet which we have put together to answer some of the QUALMS expressed in earlier reviews. The fact that it was a concept album seemed to bother quite a lot of people, especially that this was expressed with DRAMATIC INTERLUDES, while others had difficulty coping with linked songs, or science fiction, or just DINOSAURS.

    All this came from music-types - regular Validators-album-buyers seemed to be FINE with it, comics and sci-fi people were more than willing to have a go at some INDIE, and I was especially pleased to find that children LOVED it, but some of these music reviewers are DELICATE SORTS who prefer the familiar and the unthreatening, and who are we to EXCLUDE them from our work?

    I hope they will take this in the charitable, helpful spirit in which it is meant. It has been suggested that some might take this as SARCASM - i trust that the following WHOLLY SINCERE press release will answer any questions about THAT:

    New version of album released for the easily alarmed



    MJ Hibbett & The Validators are pleased to announce the release of 'Dinosaur Planet (REDUX)', a new version of their latest album created especially for those who found a full-cast science fiction rock opera about space dinosaurs too much to cope with.

    "When we released the original 'Dinosaur Planet' we discovered that not everybody actually wants an hour long thrill-ride of dinosaurs, giant robots and good quality academic research," says lead singer MJ Hibbett. "Apparently they'd rather have a nice non-threatening album of straightforward unconnected songs that you don't have to listen too hard to. This is for them."


    (l-r) new non-threatening cover, original too exciting cover


    All of the original album's dramatic interludes have been taken out and musical tracks have been edited to remove any trace of plot, but some songs have had to be removed completely. For example, it was impossible to edit out the drama and thrill-power of the six minute orchestral extravaganza 'For The Fate Of The Earth', while the sound of hundreds of gigantic lizards dancing the hornpipe in 'Dinosaurs Talk Like Pirates' was deemed irredeemably exciting.

    What's left is 20 minutes of excellent, if unrelated, music featuring a plethora of guest stars. Listeners can now enjoy guest appearances by the likes of Phil Wilson from the June Brides and Chris T-T without having to worry about them getting blown-up, eaten, or stamped on.

    To be completely safe the band have also taken the precaution of removing the amazing cover artwork by award winning cartoonist John Allison, replacing it with a straightforward photograph of the band. "The fully illustrated booklet had to go too," says a contrite MJ Hibbett. "It was just too awesome and, for that, we can only apologise."


    'Dinosaur Planet (REDUX)' has its own specially designed information-lite website at http://www.dinosaurplanet.co.uk/redux, where the album can be downloaded at the reassuringly expensive price of 10.00. The original 'Dinosaur Planet' can be downloaded from http://www.dinosaurplanet.co.uk for 5.00.
    (should anyone wish to retweet, link or or AMIABLY MENTION the above, you can find the full press release HERE: www.dinosaurplanet.co.uk/redux/redux.php)

    That special webpage, by the way, is a THING OF BEAUTY in my (admittadly BIASED) viewpoint: I spent most of a DAY going and looking at the websites of the bigger Corporate Indie bands, and did my best to create something that was as useful, user-friendly and informative as THEY all are. Because that's the sort of thing people LIKE.

    I hope that this way we can please EVERYONE - those who like their music unsurprising now have a version of the album that THEY can enjoy, whilst anybody else who HASN'T heard it yet might just - WHO KNOWS? - think that the original might be worth a listen. That would be LOVELY!

    posted 22/6/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    Leicester Telling Me Something
    I arrived at The Musician in Leicester last night to find THE TIGER already in attendance, along with our evening's promoter Mr Edward Goodson. The Pattisons arrived shortly afterwards and we were, sadly, as QUORATE as we were going to get, as Frankie was POORLY and IN BED with TONSILITIS.

    We had a (necessarily more TREBLY than usual) soundcheck, during which we practiced Leicester's Trying To Tell Me Something. We'd agreed to have a go at it during pre-gig setlist emails and had been a bit worried about how it'd work without BASS, but it seemed OK... although we DID agree to do it a) a bit faster and b) with shorter Instrumental Sections. It doesn't half go on otherwise!

    Job done we popped out for TEA - Tim was lobbying for CHIPPY CHIPS, but we ended up going to a Hotel Restaurant in The Phoenix Quarter. To be honest it was like a slightly posher Weatherspoons meal, but it was a nice place to sit and have a CHAT - we have got into a bit of a habit of having A Reasonably Nice Meal before gigs these days, it feels sort of WRONG, like we should be eating GINSTERS in a layby instead or something.

    Back at the venue we were joined by PALS, including THE WHITAKER and Mr Mark Collins, and LO! there was much DISCUSSION, also DELIGHT. It was nearly 9pm when we rolled in - the evening had been advertised as starting at 8.30pm, but the first act was still on with FOUR more to go to us. Earlier on Ed had told me we'd be on by 10pm, which I'd smiled KINDLY at (it was, apparently, his first time as promoter) but we knew the venue's curfew wasn't until MIDNIGHT, so we'd be FINE.

    I think my favourite act of the night was Ed himself. I stood watching him thinking "Good lord, this reminds me EXACTLY of MY first solo gigs, up to and including a Billy Bragg cover". Mr Collins came back from the bar and said "This reminds me of the VOON days", and he was not wrong. We rewarded Mr Goodson by a) telling him this b) REPEATEDLY saying "Of course, that was before you were born." It turned out that MANY of our gig anecdotes actually DID date from before his birth. EEK!

    I also really liked Different Fish, who were a right shouty jump about lot, especially at the start when they "jammed" (as I believe it is called) bellowing "HOW LONG WAS I ASLEEP?" It sounds, typing it out, a bit RUM, but it was EXCELLENT!

    They were on just before us, so we felt we'd better get on stage QUICK and do THIS:
  • Billy Jones Is Dead
  • Don't, Darren, Don't
  • A Little Bit
  • Do The Indie Kid
  • Leicester's Trying To Tell Me Something
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • Easily Impressed

  • It all seemed to go all right - Leicester's Trying To Tell Me Something got ADDED to somewhat, as the fact that I had to change some of the words to reflect new developments (e.g. The Royal Mail is no longer a Parking LOT, but is now an Office BLOCK) meant that I ended up EDITORIALISING about some of the old venues in the second verse. We also integrated "HOW LONG WAS I ASLEEP?" into Do The Indie Kid, adding helpful hints about how to gauge sleeping time in future.

    We'd lost a bit of the audience by the time we'd finished - most of the YOUNGSTERS stuck around, but some of the OLDER types slipped away. During the first half of the evening I'd remarked how nice it was to see some OLD FACES from BACK IN THE DAY in the room... and it was, of course, these old faces who buggered off home before we played. Just like old times!

    Everyone seemed to enjoy it, and there was MUCH hugging and Thanking-For-Coming. It's always nice to get back to my former adopted hometown, and as ever I regretted the fact that we had to clear off, rather than sitting around having a NATTER, but that was pretty much the only downside to what had been a rather lovely night. I hope all of Ed's promotions in future are as enjoyable as his first one was!

    posted 21/6/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    Deep Thought Birthday
    I may have found the univeral QUESTION for The Great Universal Answer. It MIGHT be "How old will Mark be when he spends most of his birthday EITHER in Camden OR debugging a webpage?"

    For LO! Yesterday was my birthday and THAT is what I spent a lot of it doing. Much to my CHAGRIN I had to go to CAMDEN in the morning for a MEETING, which actually turned out all right. I had to meet my boss at Mornington Crescent tube, and was DELIGHTED to find that getting their via Euston was Slightly Convoluted. We then had an GOOD MEETING with a Computer Guy - i know! How often does THAT happen? We all met in the IT offices at Camden Social Services (GUESS WHICH FLOOR THEY WERE ON) and much to my surprise he turned out to be a) nice b) full of INFO c) able to communicate with other humans. I shall have to report him to the COMPUTER GUY UNION!

    The meeting lasted approx 90 minutes less than expected, due to the above, so I came home and spent most of the rest of the day DEBUGGING, also PROGRAMMING a Web Thing I've been working on for MONTHS. At one point I thought "Is this really how I want to spend my birthday?" and then realised the answer was in fact "YES", as it's been an INCREDIBLY frustrating experience (it has involved COMPUTER GUYS who conform ENTIRELY to the norm...) but it FINALLY felt like I was getting somewhere with it. If you see me out and about over the next few days (e.g. in Leicester tonight at The Musician - PLUGGING!) be warned i may TELL you about it. "Oooh, I was programming ASP to program Javascript and vica versa" i may say, as you FLEE.

    In the evening things got proper FESTIVE tho - there were PHONE CALLS, there was the opening of CARDS, many PRESENTS, lots of FUSS directed at ME (which, obviously, i usually try and avoid hem hem) and then watching THE FOOTBALL. Like most people I had got a bit EXCITED about it, after the last Exciting Game, and duly had my expectations downgraded, but was RELIEVED that we'd won the group as it means the NEXT England game will now NOT be on while me and Steve are returning from HIBBETTFEST on Saturday.

    And so the birthday ended and I fully entered my FORTY THIRD year on Planet Earth. I wonder what wonders it will bring?

    posted 20/6/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    Edit Suite Antics
    I spent a delightful few hours over the weekend HUNCHED over editing software, putting together the last live-recorded Totally Acoustic Podcast, based on last Thursday's gig with Mr James Agnew and Mr Pete Green. I always enjoy doing these - partly because I get a STRANGE THRILL from EDITING smoothly (MAN I wish I could edit out all my UMS, AAAHS, STUTTERING and STUPID REMARKS as easily in real-life as I do for the podcast!) but mostly for the JOY of hearing sets again. At the live shows I'm often a bit preoccupied by THORTS of audience happiness/numbers, remembering the whip round, checking the four-track's working, needing a WEE, needing a BEER etc etc so don't always get the full FORCE of the performance, so it's a SPECIAL TREAT to be able to listen to it all over again, and this time was no exception. Go on, have a listen, it's ACE!

    As I've said several times, this'll be the LAST live show for a while, but there WILL be one or two more PODCASTS. I've got a year's worth of show recordings, going back to last July's gig with A Fine Day For Saying and Dave Barnett, ALL of which have extra tracks I want to use, so I'll be doing a couple of COMPILATION shows to use them up. There's some GRATE stuff to come and hopefully more new shows next year, so hey! Why not subscribe to our RSS feed (or do the similar on iTunes)? Then you won't miss a wonderful moment!

    posted 18/6/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    Totally Acoustic: The Finale
    Last night was the final Totally Acoustic of the current run, and I arrived at The King & Queen to find it RAMMED. "Corks! I thought, Mr Pete Green and/or Mr James Agnew" (NB I think VERY POLITELY) "certainly have a lot of fans. And they all appear to be... Italian?"

    For LO! they were actually there to watch the football. Later on the Italians would leave and the bar would be RE-RAMMED with hordes of Irish and Spanish fans - upstairs we could hear the singing of "OLE OLE OLE!" for most of the second half! It's one of the wonderful things about That London during International Competitions, you suddenly become aware of all the different nationalities getting DRUNKENED and happy/consoling each other in our Mighty Metropolis. Wonderfully, even tho it was PACKED for most of the night, BAR SERVICE remained at the high standard we have come to expect from The King & Queen i.e. VERY HIGH INDEED. This was useful, as BEER was to be taken!

    Our ACTS arrived well on time, the tables were set out, regulars Mr J Kell, Mr S Hewitt (with not one but TWO Mrs Hewitts!) and The Players In My Team arrived, and soon we were ready to kick off. I went first, as ever, and did THIS:

  • Totally Acoustic
  • Good Cooking
  • I Dream Of Superheroes
  • One Monday Morning
  • Billy Jones Is Dead
  • Hey Hey 16K


  • I did Good Cooking because Mr G Williams had requested it a couple of weeks ago - the fact that he couldn't make this gig in the end should not distract from the fact that I WHOLLY SUPPORT the idea of requesting songs two weeks in advance, as that's how long it takes me to learn them! I also did a couple of songs I'd NEVER DONE LIVE BEFORE. I Dream Of Superheroes is from the NEW SHOW I'm writing, and as it'd been in my head all day I thought I'd have a crack at it, while One Monday Morning was a cover, which I'd originally worked out as part of a BIRTHDAY PRESENT for Mr Green. It all seemed to go all right, though doing THREE songs in a row that I didn't really know properly was a bit scary!

    Next up was James Agnew, who'd fortuitously got in touch with me JUST when I'd started wondering who to put on for this gig. It's nice when The Gods Of Rock take a hand in BOOKING, and they did really well this time, as he did ACE songs about A Wide Variety Of Topics - something I'm a BIG fan of. It was FAB!

    And last of all was Pete himself - the only person, surely, who i COULD have got to end the series. He played the first ever official Totally Acoustic and has since played more than ANYONE else, and he did us proud last night. I did feel a bit guilty when he said he'd been practicing "One Monday Morning" HIMSELF especially for the show, but I'm sure I asked his permission last time we met. To be fair though, BEER had been involved, so perhaps i DREAMT it?

    When all was done BEER became involved once again as farewells were said and the performers and pals drew round a table for CHAT. I'm quite happy to let these gigs REST for a bit, but the thing I really WILL miss about them is this bit afterwards. Normally, when the gig is over, everyone CLEARS OFF almost straight away, so you don't get much chance for a good old YAK like this, especially with pals from ROCK, so it always feels a bit SPECIAL. I have often wondered about organising a get together of such pals WITHOUT spoiling things with a gigs, maybe this'll be the thing to fill in the Totally Acoustic-gap?

    It was a lovely evening all round, as I hope will be reflected in the PODCAST. I'm planning to sort this out over the weekend, and then there should be at LEAST one, maybe TWO more to come. There's an awful lot of good stuff I've been saving for some COMPILATION shows!

    posted 15/6/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    The Future And The Past And The Now
    You find me standing at a NEXUS today as things of the NOW and TOMORROW float around each other like the stars around a cartoon character struck by an ANVIL.

    Most pressing on my mind at present is the fact that tonight is the LAST Totally Acoustic for the forseeable future (with Mr Pete Green and Mr James Agnew, me onstage at 7:30pm, come along!). There'll be a few more podcasts to come, as I go through and pick out as-yet-unbroadcast EXTRA SONGS from the past series, but the plan is to lay the LIVE GIGS to rest, at LEAST until next year, while I concentrate on my forthcoming MA course. I do feel sad to be stopping (or, hopefully PAUSING) as I bloody love doing these gigs, but I've got to RING FENCE some time to do HOMEWORK!

    Before the course kicks off, however, there's still some Dinosaur Planet ACTION to do. As I think I've previously mentioned, we're going to be releasing "Dinosaur Planet (REDUX)" in a couple of weeks, a SPECIAL version of the album for those TIMID souls who couldn't handle the SCIENCE FICTION THRILLPOWER of the original version. It's all very jolly - there's a SMASHING website coming for it, new LESS ALARMING mixes of some of the songs, and a press release which Mr FA Machine has said is "DROLL". I'm more pleased about this last thing than pretty much anything else to do with it, not least because I've spent a week trying to write it, WORRYING in case it comes across as BELLIGERENT.

    Then after that there's the video for Don't, Darren, Don't, which will again feature the artwork of the marvellous John Allison. It's looking GORGEOUS so far, and I'm actively looking forward to spending the next couple of weeks EDITING it together.

    And in the DISTANT future, things are processing INCREDIBLY well on the next show, which we won't even be PERFORMING until TWENTY THIRTEEN!!! I think I've got at LEAST half of it written with about SIX new songs already, including a LOVELY one called "I Dream Of Superheroes" which HAUNTS MY DREAMZ. It also features a lovely song by a Formby-esque character about coaxing kittens down from high places, called "Come On Pussy". It's going to be a DELIGHT!

    posted 14/6/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    Inspiring Young Minds
    One of my ABSOLUTE FAVOURITE things about the THEATRICAL run of Dinosaur Planet was when kids would come up to me after the show and ask INCISIVE questions about the backstory. It was lovely to think they had - to use current parlance - ENGAGED with the story, and since then I've been DELIGHTED with reports that the album has been inspiring THORT, DIALOGUE and indeed further creation by more children and, indeed, some adults.

    So imagine my GLEE when I found out that, in the past week, we have inspired not one but TWO seperate avenues of Dinosaur Planet-based creation!

    The first of these that I saw was a WRITING PROMPT over on io9. Apparently they run these regularly, where they provide some concept art and invite readers to write (very) short stories based on them, and this week's prompt is SPACE DINOSAURS! It's a beautiful idea and I feel honoured to have been part of the inspiration for it. There's some GRATE stuff in there too!

    Then very soon after that I got an email from Ms J Lockyer containing the results of the Funsense Storytime sessions at the Green Dragon in Croydon this weekend just gone. Jenny (aka "WPC Jenny" on the album) does these regularly, although this was the first one using music and images from Dinosaur Planet. Jenny says: "The first session was Prehistoric Earth directly before the dinosaurs were kidnapped by Giant Space Robots. In this session children could dip their hands in a swamp, set up base camp, avoid Velociraptors and hunt for dinosaur facts and make a volcano ERUPT AARRRRGGGHHH". Here's a picture of the volcano:



    There was then a session for older children where "they got busy designing Dinosaur space ships for the dinosaurs to escape the robots and then we all flew in a space ship one of them had designed. Vedant drew some comics called Captain Vedant and designed a Space Robot capturing device." Here's the comics:



    I very much like the fact that Captain Keith appears in these! Jenny does these sessions (not all Dinosaur-related!) every Saturday, if you'd like to know more email greendragonstorytime@gmail.com to join the mailing list - tell her I sent you!

    I must say I'm really REALLY happy to know that this sort of thing is going on, and I'm planning to have a go later in the year at encouraging SIMILAR activities elsewhere. If anyone out there works in education or RELATED and fancies trialling some Dinosaur Planet ACTIVITY PACKS, do let me know!

    posted 13/6/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    The Future Of The Musical
    On Friday night The Songs In My Show and I were sat watching LATE NIGHT (past midnight! KRAZY!) TV. We had New 24 on, and I was half-watching an interview with Tim Rice on HardTalk. He was asked why there aren't any new, original musicals making it on to the West End and I was SHOUTING (NB not actually shouting, it was late: SAYING) "Because no fcuker from The West End came to see Dinosaur Planet, even tho i ASKED them too, and if they had there would DEFINITELY have been a BIDDING WAR."

    This got me thinking about the NEXT show, which I was intending to be "Moon Horse And The Sword Of Monsters". Mr Tim Rice went on to say something very SENSIBLE: "There are very few rules to this sort of thing, and hardly anybody knows what they are" which is, i think, true of ALL ART. This seems to have set my BRANE a-WHIRRING, as I soon found myself thinking about VARIOUS items: a recent conversation with Mr Chris T-T when he asked why I was doing a sequel; the fact that this new show was turning out to be a bit of a SLOG to get down; the bit in Rock Biographies where The Band decide to throw away what they were working on and do something new; the list of things Steve and I worked out that we wanted to be IN the next show; and what else I could possibly write it about.

    SUDDENLY things went into OVERDRIVE, as a WHOLE OTHER STORY started FLOODING through my brain. CHARACTERS magically appeared, ideas for SONGS flung themselves at me, and I instantly knew I was going to ABANDON (for now) "Moon Horse And The Sword Of Monsters". I always think that The Creative Process, when it is working, is like feeling yr way through the dark to try and make a copy of something that is ALREADY THERE. It's like you KNOW the finished item exists, and the CREATION part is actually just you trying to copy the original as best you can, altering your first attempts until you've got it accurate. "Sword Of Monsters", to be honest, felt more like I was cobbling together something out of bits and bobs of other stories - the stuff I'd done so far was GOOD, I think, but none of it was really flowing naturally. This NEW story, however, was coming at me so FIERCELY that I immediately filled 5 sides of my notebook with IDEAS.

    Next morning MORE ideas came charging by - I wrote most of a song on the way to Tesco, another ZOOMED in when I got home, and the whole story was taking shape before my eyes. I don't, at this stage, want to go into LOADS of details about what it'll be (it's AGES until we'll be DOING it, but the basic thought is a) more of the same sort of thing but b) SUPERHEROES) but I can reveal that I will once again be making myself a HOSTAGE TO FORTUNE by featuring an elderly female figurehead who might feasibly POP HER CLOGS during the run and spoil everything!

    It's all VERY VERY EXCITING - it was all happening so fast on Saturday morning that I thought I would FAINT, and this morning I'm still getting the RUSH of fantastic new ideas WHOOSHING into my head (including a whole EXTRA song that is, frankly, LEWD). YE GODS but this is FUN - whenever I'm up to my elbows in ADMIN or FORMS or travelling home late from a gig, THIS is one of the Aspects Of ROCK I think about when I'm wandering if it's all worth it. For BRANE SPASMS like this, it TOTALLY is!

    posted 11/6/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    Supporting JimBob
    On the way to Cambridge, for my gig supporting JimBob and The Indelicates at The Portland Arms last night, I had a sudden WONDERFUL revealation: I was going to get to my B&B in time to watch "Pointless"!!!

    It used to be that I'd roll into an Ibis before a gig and watch a bit "The Weakest Link" OR "The Paul Grady Show", but in recent times Life On The Road has improved approx a MILLIONFOLD with the arrival of this marvellous show. I got checked in the the B&B, put the kettle on, found some biscuits, took my new copy of PUZZLER out, and prepared for the good times. "Oh!" you may say, "Surely this is not rock and/or roll in the classic sense?" OH YE OF LITTLE FAITH! When the kettle boiled it did so with SUCH FEROCITY that it BLEW ALL THE FUSES!

    BEAT THAT, Motley Crue! I had to ring the reception and EVERYTHING!

    The rest of the evening wasn't QUITE as INTENSELY INTENSE as that, but it was bloody lovely nontheless. I arrived to find Mr J From-Carter and Mr C T-T talking to promoter Mr S MacAllister. The soundman hadn't arrived yet so Steve went off to do Promoter stuff while Jimbob, Chris and me ordered our TEA and had some a) beer b) chat. AS EVER at this stage I thought "Why oh why must we spoil this lovely evening with a gig?" but people had PAID to get in so eventually i went on stage and did THIS:

  • The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
  • My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once
  • Theme From Dinosaur Planet
  • Strangely Attractive
  • Don't, Darren, Don't
  • It Only Works Because You're here
  • Hey Hey 16K
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths

  • I must admit I'd been a bit worried about how this would go down. The gig was a SELLOUT and almost entirely made up of JimBob fans, and past experience of playing to audiences of dedicated fans of OTHER bands has taught me that sometimes it can be a bit tough. It sometimes happens that the audience ONLY goes to see this one specific band, EVER, and views any other act on the bill as THE OPPOSITION, but I was relieved to find that in this case it was QUITE the opposite. The room was FULL and people were very happy to give me a full CHANCE. It was BLOODY BRILLIANT - I could feel some SUSPICION at the start (as is only natural) but rather than TALK or LEAVE people STAYED and watched and CRIKEY got right into it. There was JOINING IN with Theme From Dinosaur Planet at an early stage, and the "Aaahs" at the end of Strangely Attractive made me change the set a bit and RISK doing another quiet one in It Only Works Because You're here, which went down DEAD well.

    Oh but it was ACE! I THOROUGHLY enjoyed myself - as anyone watching probably guessed, from the amount of YAKKING I was doing. It was one of those gigs when you can quite happily do a GAG between songs and know that people will a) listen b) get it c) FORGIVE you if it doesn't work. MAN, i do like playing to full rooms of happy people, it's FAB!

    I missed the start of The Indelicates due to CHAT, but came back into the room for the second song to find, to my surprise, that they were doing sort of CHAMBER POP CHANSON ACTION, rather than the kind of JAMC feedback that I remembered from seeing them at Indietracks years ago. In this modern age of communications one sometimes comes up against the REALISATION that there's bands you've spoken to online, BEFRIENDED, felt part of the same MOVEMENT as, but have only ever actually SEEN a few times. I hope I manage to see them more in REAL-LIFE from now on, as they were GRATE.

    And then it was time for JimBob himself. Now, I will admit that I was never the biggest fan of Carter Back In The Day, and have always felt a bit bad about it as he's always lovely when I've met him in later life. Tonight, however, he was FANTASTIC. He started off by leaping STRAIGHT into a reading from his new book, "Driving Jarvis Ham" which was EXCELLENT. I thoroughly enjoyed his first book, "Storage Stories" (actually a LOT) and this sounds the same sort of WITTY, charming, interesting type of thing - the whole room was hanging on every word throughout the readings, you could feel people leaning forward to find out what was happening.

    And when he switched to guitar for a batch of SONGS it worked even better - the flurry of words and wordplay all made sense to me, and it was BEAUTIFUL the way that half the words were sung along with, quietly and respectfully, by most of the audience. He switched back and forth between words and songs a couple of times, and then ended with a CHAOTIC raffle - all attendees had been given a raffle ticket on entry, and those with winning numbers got to choose a song from a big blackboard of choices. It was a CUNNING way to close proceedings, and after a few choices and an encore of "The Only Living Boy In New Cross" (which started with JUST the audience singing the first verse!) all that was left was for people to stream out, GRINNING.

    As you might have gathered from my general enthusiasm, it was a LOVELY evening, and I wobbled back to the B&B full of the joys of ROCK. Gigs, they really are good fun aren't they?

    posted 8/6/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    Surya
    I work from home on Wednesdays, so was travelling INTO The Big City for a gig last night, rather than my more usual direction OUTTA TOWN. I arrived at Surya in a bit of a kerfuffle, as I'd missed my first train and then dashed up a HILL, where I found Ms E Cooper (Promoter) and Mr A Dickinson stood outside, reporting on a MELEE that had just happened outside. The police had been called and were interviewing the victim, it was RUM!

    I was amazed to find Emma there at all really, as less than two weeks ago she had been in HOSPITAL having her APPENDIX out! Such dedication to ROCK is, of course, to be applauded, but CRIKEY! When my brother had HIS appendix out he was in bed for WEEKS!

    He didn't have to cope with PROMOTION worries either, as it turned out there wasn't a bass amp there after all, and there was a FLURRY of activity as... well, the soundman just DI'd the bass and all was well. Also one of the acts hadn't turned up - he said he'd get there about half ten - this sort of thing ALWAYS happens at gigs, but I wouldn't like to be dealing with it just after MAJOR SURGERY!!

    Come about nine o'clock it was time for me to hit the stage, so I went and did THIS:
  • The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
  • My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once
  • Strangely Attractive
  • Don't, Darren, Don't
  • Hey Hey 16K
  • Do The Indie Kid
  • We Did It Anyway

  • I thoroughly enjoyed myself - I played requests from the audience, and the entire crowd was singing along and dancing to the whole thing! ALL RIGHT there were only four people there (Emma, Andy, the girl from the door and the soundman) but STILL: in these situations I am always reminded of that bit from "Backbeat", where Mr Big From Big Records arrives and sees The Beatles MUCKING ABOUT, and thus they BLOW their first Big Chance. The key lesson is to DO IT PROPERLY in all circumstances, and I hope i DID do. I'm entirely USED to doing these sort of INTIMATE gigs, tho it was the first time in ages I've done one fully plugged in and microphoned up. It actually made me quite NERVOUS, with the LIGHTS and amplification and everything, but i RATTLED through the songs and, as I say, the audience went WILD for it. They were the BEST!

    Slightly oddly the other band who WERE there (and had bought a couple of friends) DIDN'T come downstairs at any point during the set. I don't call this "ODD" for reasons of TASTE - they could hear me from upstairs in the bar, and I guess see me on the screen if they wanted - but for PRACTICAL ones. Surely if you're doing a gig without a HUGE crowd you'd at least go and see the other acts so that they would feel obliged to see you? For all they knew I could have been Mr Big From Big Records, in DISGUISE!

    It didn't really matter tho, as I'd hoped anyway to get off home early, as tonight I have a ROCK appointment in Cambridge, and at my GRATE AGE doing TWO late nights in a row knacker me out! THUS I was able to give HUGS to most of the audience and thank then for a slightly odd, but really rather enjoyable evening. I love doing gigs, gigs are GRATE!

    posted 7/6/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    Doing It For The Kids
    Over the past few months MANY people have asked whether we have Dinosaur Planet t-shirts in kids sizes. I've always said "no", because I've got SO MANY of the adult size ones left that I didn't want to have to start renting a garage in order to store all the different children's sizes too.

    HOWEVER. I gradually realised I was behaving like a character in a Two Ronnies Sketch ("No, we don't stock them - people keep on asking, but there isn't the demand") and my mind was fully changed the other week when Mr S Hewitt asked, pointing out that I could always do them on pre-order.

    And so, for a limited time only, that is exactly what I'm doing! If you wander over to the Dinosaur Planet SHOP you'll see that we now stock pretty much ALL sizes of kids' t-shirts, available to pre-order RIGHT NOW. The plan is that I'll take pre-orders up to Monday July 2nd and then send off for a big BATCH of them, so anybody who buys them should have them by mid to late July. I'm doing a cut-off point just so i don't go KRAZY with worry about it all, as I've not done one like this before.

    Hope that all makes sense to everybody - get in touch if you have any queries, and HAPPY SHOPPING!

    posted 6/6/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    The Actual Jubilee
    As you may have noticed it's the Jubilee Weekend (FOREIGNERS! we are celebrating 60 years and five months of Queen Elizabeth being Queen Elizabeth, on the 59th Anniversary of her coronation. WE LIKE THINGS CONFUSED) and so The Head Of My State and I, along with various FAMLEE, headed off into central London to LOOK at the FLOTILLA, when over a thousand boats were going to be going down the Thames together.

    Along with about a ZILLION other people we went to St Pauls in order to stroll down to the river... only to find it shut off. We (and everybody else) were suddenly presented with the simple FACT that, actually, there isn't a HUGE amount of actual SPACE by the Thames, and it looked like every single Event Security Officer in the COMMONWEALTH had been employed to ensure that none of us could get there.

    As ever with large events they'd spent years planning, employed tons of security, but don't seem to have thought to provide anyone with communications, so we spent the past hour or so wandering THE CITY, along with an ACTUAL MILLION (approx) other people with no real clue what was going on. It was only when we got back on the tube again (having gone to Embankment to see if we could get anywhere there, and couldn't) that we heard that THE ENTIRE RIVER was closed off. Well done TFL for telling us, though it would have been nice if someone ON the river could have done the same!

    Determined to see SOMETHING we headed out to WAPPING, just after the official finish line at Tower Bridge. We REASONED that the boats were going out further upriver to disembark, so we'd probably see something or other. We came out of the station, turned right, and noticed a few people following a sign to "The Thames Path" down an alleyway. We followed them and suddenly found ourselves ON the riverbank with a PERFECT view... JUST as the flotilla came by! Honestly, within A MINUTE of arriving the Belfry Barge came towards us, and we spent the next HOUR marvelling at all the different boats. To be honest the first bit, with all the canoes and other man-powered boats, was the best bit, but it was all JOLLY exciting. We couldn't believe our luck!

    We ALSO couldn't believe how WET we were getting, so eventually headed off to see if we could get a look at The Avenue Of Sails, where the ships too big to get under the bridges would be berthed. Suddenly we came across a small crowd who, we found out, were waiting to watch the entire Royal Family drive past on their way home. After the ridiculous SUCCESS of our flotilla viewing with thought we'd LUCKED OUT again - I mean, I'm not a KRAZED ROYALIST or anything, but if you get the chance to see THE ACTUAL QUEEN on the ACTUAL JUBILEE then you'd be daft not to wouldn't you?

    However, after ten minutes of GETTING SOAKED we realised that they probably wouldn't be coming for a good while yet, so strolled up to St Katherine's Docks where we saw a) loads of fantastic boats b) the fireworks on Tower Bridge (heralded by all the people in the posh flats on the riverside singing along while they watched it on telly) and perhaps most excitingly of ALL c) AMANDA REDMAN from off of "New Tricks" stood outside having a fag!

    We headed back home, SODDEN, but very happy. When we watched the whole event later that evening on telly we enjoyed our first opportunity to say "We were there!" I expect to enjoy saying that AGANE AND AGANE for many many years to come!

    posted 4/6/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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