Saturday, October 11, 2014

Martin Stephenson at The Blue Boar in Maldon

The extremely funny and talented Stephen Foster Pilkington and his wife Katy, the lovely opera singer, put on a very quirky gig last night. The Blue Boar is an old, timbered building in the centre of seaside Maldon in Essex, home to sailors one and all. The space is up in the eaves, with beams spanning the inside of the roof, and every wall covered with gilt-framed oil paintings of some very ill-looking men from previous centuries. An enormous carved wooden bureau stands against the back of the stage wall, its lions, maidens and grapes picked out in detail by the portable stage light.
The audience is a smiley, motley crew, who mostly came last time and who feel like friends.
Stephen is first on, and treats us to a set on complete other-worldly eccentricity, tricking even me, the audience introvert, into singing along. Wilko-Johnson-powered  (he loves him), this is a rocket fuelled performance that embeds the lovely and quite serious song Do My Eyes See Everything amongst comedy, farce and tragedy. As he finishes, Katy is invited to join him from the back of the room and she treats us to walkabout opera. You don't get that a a One Direction concert!
I play a quite laid back set apart from The Chefs Let's Make Up, and Martin joins me for Heaven Avenue and If You've Got The Blues. I enjoy singing; the feeling is there tonight. My fingers are obeying instructions, the Telecaster is jangling and I'm happy.
Martin is on form, treating us to a set that includes Morning Time and some of his more introspective songs before launching into Little Red Bottle, at which point the crowd leaps to their collective feet and dances the antiques off the floor. I witness some very tense but enthusiastic Dad dancing, lots of blonde hair swinging about, and enthusiastic laughter. Martin has The Bounce in his fingers, no doubt about that; he never ceases to amaze me with his ability to entertain and turn in a different show every night, bless 'im.

I worry that those ancient pictures lining the wall are somehow the captured and pressed souls of previous audience members, flattened and forced into picture frames and imprisoned forever at the end of the Ball.

Today, I've mostly been asleep. It's been a busy week of work and play. While sleeping, I dreamed that I was running a songwriting workshop which wa excruciatingly embarrassing because I couldn't get it off the ground; nobody had any ideas. Name of the song?
'Wake Up'.
Well, yes.

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