The World's End
What a funny turnaround last night ended up as.
The promoters had asked me to get there at 6, which I did, only to find a massive pub full of football fans roaring at a HUGE screen, steaming in their own enthusiasm and beer.
'Where does the music happen?' I asked the bar staff.
'The stage is there, behind the screen, but there's no-one here yet.'
So I sat like a pretentious twat working on some lyrics; I hadn't brought enough money out for more than one lemonade; eventually, the football fans disappeared in clumps, with their scarves and their red boozy faces, to be replaced by a cavernous silence. The huge screen slipped away too, and I went and sat by the stage, wondering if the whole set-up was a spoof.
No, there was a young chap who appeared to be setting up a P.A.
I spoke to him and he asked if I wanted a sound check; so far so good.
Someone else wandered in with a guitar, and they did a little soundcheck too
(competitively short soundchecks seem to be becoming the in thing these days!)
A worried looking man with a beard zipped back and forth at the back of the pub, holding a mobile phone to his ear; that normally happens when acts are pulling out at the last minute.
A woman with bright red hair appeared with a bag with a bass drum pedal in it; next, she appeared on the stage with a guitar.
I started sulking. Why hadn't anyone said hello? Just at that point, when I was thinking about going home and watching Frost, the worried-looking man came over and said hello and asked if I'd mind going on later than planned and playing for longer. I said no, but meant yes, and then the woman with red hair got up and started to play.
Well, I liked Gabby's songs; I think you could say they were kooky, and very dramatic. She has a brilliantly dynamic singing voice ( a little too dynamic for a couple of women who took their dinner plates next door) and her songs are structured like little plays that incorporate speech and waiting. But they were unusual, and interesting to listen to.
Then it was my turn, and I was glad I'd gone on late because in walked someone I have not seen for probably thirty years- Paul Gilroy! Remember him, Joby? He came and tried out for guitar with Joby and the Hooligans all those years ago in Brighton. And there he was, with his partner. In the intervening time he has become an established writer (There Ain't No Black in the Union Jack amongst lots of others). Two years ago I invited him to come to talk at the University of the West but he got the message too late; and now here he was on a glum night in Finsbury Park!
As soon as they walked in, everything else changed too. An audience appeared, who had come to listen. The sound was superb: it's a good P.A.
I really enjoyed the gig, in the end. The promoter said he loved my guitar playing (which was great to hear as I felt I was a bit below par, having lacerated my fingers with sewing the night before), quite a few people in the audience told me how much they liked it, and it was nice not to have to get it all over with in three songs. They were a smiley contented audience to play to, the vibe was cool man, and it was lovely to play to Paul and his partner too.
I hope to play there again; meanwhile the next gig is at Viva Viva (now revamped) on 13th November.