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Blog: The PopArt Christmas Party

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I work just round the corner from The Fly on New Oxford Street and so have walked passed it on MANY lunchtime trips to the post office, always looking ASKANCE at it. It has always seemed to me to be the epitome of NME Indie i.e. all haircuts, font-styles, trousers and shouting in order to hide a MASSIVE GREED that seeks to FLEECE you of every penny you have.

I'm not saying I was completely WRONG - like all such venues the beer was pricey and NASTY - but it was actually a whole lot nicer than I expected. The venue was a PROPER size, the sound was GRATE, the floor was at precisely the right level of tactility (i.e. neither ocmpletely adhesive NOR stinking of BLEACH, which are usually the only two options) and the staff were dead nice.

My new good opinion of it may have been SWAYED by a few external factors, mind you. For starters the LOCATION. Being so near my work means it only took me 40 minutes to get there from my HOUSE and, once Mr T "The Tiger" McClure had arrived it also meant I knew EXACTLY where to go to find a nice pub less than 120 seconds away. We then received word that The Locations On My Map had just arrived at Liverpool Street, so we strolled around the corner to a DELIGHTFUL LITTLE RESTAURANT where the three of us had our TEA before walking across the road back to the venue. It was BRILLIANT - why can't ALL venues be this handy?

On top of all that was the DUAL FESTIVE ATAK of the FACT that it was a) PopArt and b) their CHRISTMAS Party. Those PopArt boys, they ALWAYS put on a good show and this time was no exception - there was tinsel, there were Christmassy game shows, there was even a NODDY HOLDER HAT, it was all BRILL. It was thus in somewhat raised spirits that I took to the stage and did THIS:
  • The Peterborough All-Saints' Wide Game Team (Group B)
  • It Only Works Because You're Here
  • The Advent Calendar Of FACT
  • Payday Is The Best Day
  • Billy Jones Is Dead
  • Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid
  • Do The Indie Kid
  • Easily Impressed
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • Boom Shake The Room

  • I had a FANTASTIC time. The first few songs were a bit dodgy - The Fly is STILL an NME Venue enough to be acoustically designed to ensure that ALL chat, however quiet it be, is AMPLIFIED and transmitted DIRECT to the stage, but I thought to myself "Hibbett, this is your SEVENTIETH gig of the year, you should know by now that if you hold yr NERVE and carry on with the set as planned, all will be WELL." My thoughts were CORRECT, with things being helped SIZEABLY with Tom's entry to the fray at the end of Payday Is The Best Day. He did his "trademark" TIGER'S GROWL, which makes ANY gig go well, and by the time we got to the shouty bit of Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid it felt like everyone was ON SIDE.

    My happiness with this turn of events was, apparently, quite clear as I then WENT ON for quite a bit on VARIOUS topics in, I am told, a "ever more camp" fashion. Me? Camp? Ooh, never! All the excitement went on for longer than expected/DARED TO DREAM as when i gave everyone the choice between The Lesson Of The Smiths and Boom Shake The Room to finish with they said BOTH. So that's what we did. I LEAPT off stage afterwards, only to be dragged back to receive a PRIZE - turns out I'd WON the "The State That I Am In" GAMESHOW at their LAST all-dayer, and was awarded a none-more-twee Hello Kitty Sweet Dispenser. HOOPLA!

    It was thus a very happy Hibbett who had some more BEER and watched some of Scarlet Soho, the next band on. They were very good INDEED at what they were doing, but what they were doing was a bit too EIGHTIES for me i.e. VERY EIGHTIES INDEED. We agreed that, having LIVED through the eighties and known how GHASTLY they were we were allowed to leave and not have to re-experience its RIGOURS. As we left I joked that some people in the audience hadn't even been BORN in the eighties... then with a sudden SHOCK realised that, actually, MOST of them hadn't. EEK!

    None of this, by the way, is to say they weren't any good - they were DEAD good and also, I discoverd later when SINGING with their lead singer, ALL ROUND GOOD EGGS, but that synth sound and that drum machine make me think only of NUCLEAR WAR.

    So we went and sat around upstairs for a bit and discussed LIBERTARIANISM and RELIGIOUS DEVELOPMENT, much as I did in the ACTUAL eighties in Student Pubs, before returning for the FINAL section, The PopArt Allstars!

    Regular Attendees at this FONT OF ROCK while know I have a slightly chequered history with The PopArt Allstars, having DISGRACED myself when I did "Country House" with them at the Britpop Alldayer and then spent three weeks PANICKING about doing "Le Pastie De La Bourgeoisie" at the Belle & Sebastian one. You'd think this'd make me practice EXTRA HARD for my spot at this one, but you would be wrong - instead i had a CHEAT SHEET written out. My NERVES arrived early when they kicked off with a STORMING version of "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" with Leicester's Funnyman Dave Rees, but abated slightly when everyone else came on with similar CHEAT SHEETS. Phew!

    Suddenly it was ME, doing Mr P McCartney's "Wonderful Christmastime". When I got on the stage I turned to the band and said - JOKINGLY - "Just follow me guys!" It was a JOKE, but they all nodded EARNESTLY and, i think, GRATEFULLY, as rehearsals for this song had been DIFFICULT. It's a RIGHT rum old song - listening to the Proper Version I'm ASTOUNDED by how MENTAL the synth sounds are. It sounds, as Dom PopArt said, like Macca dropped a bag of kittens on the keyboards and called it a song, and certainly the WORDS bear that assumption out. THUS I realised that, as nobody else seemed that sure of how a faithful cover version should go then I needn't worry and could do however many choruses I liked without worrying.

    So that's what we did, and it was MEGA. My favourite bit was saying, towards the end, "Let's take it DOWN" and everybody SO DOING! HOORAH! The Christmas Spirt was clearly in me at this point as I embarked upon a lengthy BIT saying "Macca can't hear you! Linda can't hear you! Heather can't hear you!" and so on and so forth until we ended at a completely unexpected PROPER ENDING.

    OH but I had a FANTASTIC TIME, I LEAPT 30 feet from the stage to the back of the room with a MASSIVE grin, and was back again three songs later (including Mr Solo's AMAZING version of "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day" - that man can SING) for THE GRAND FINALE: "DO THEY KNOW IT'S CHRISTMAS"! And GUESS which bit I was doing - CLUE: THE BEST BIT OF THE WHOLE SONG!

    So, everyone who'd sung came back on stage, clutching the words and off we went. I stood there GRINNING like a LOON, knowing what was coming, checking the words every SECOND to see if it was my turn, and when I was i GRABBED the microphone and sang:


    To say I MILKED IT would be something of an understatement, but MY GOD I enjoyed doing so, and completely forgot to do any of my proper bits for the entire rest of the song, just standing in line with everyone else singing along off microphone, SMILING. For the end bit I leant in and, BIZARRELY, ended up doing the "Feed The World" bit with Mr Solo while everyone else did "Let them know it's Christmas time." HIGH ON ROCK I thought it would be AMUSING to stick my finger in my ear, like on the video, and was first ALARMED to see Mr Solo SMILING and doing the same thing, and then realise everyone else was too. ZOINKS!

    We finished with everyone in the room waving at each other and then CHEERING, it was BRILLIANT. I spent the whole rest of the evening GRINNING, so much so that when I'd said goodbye to Tom and was walking to the tube my FACE ACTUALLY HURT with all the smiling. Who'd've thought GIG 70 would end up being one of the best one's EVER eh?

    It must be CHRISTMAS!!

    posted 15/12/2008 by MJ Hibbett

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    I believe the credit for the kittens analogy needs to go to The Quill. I just said it sounded like he'd pressed 'record' and then made up the song as he went along.

    Footage -

    Wonderful Christmastime:

    Feed The World:

    Merry Christmas!
    posted 23/12/2008 by dom

    Oops - Macca one is :
    posted 23/12/2008 by dom

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