Tuesday, November 04, 2014

A Distraction from Grooghsvile: Last Night's Rrrants

Let's see what my typing skills are like today. It got to 5 a.m. last night when I finally admitted to myself that I was unwell and wouldn't be able to go to work today. There is a cold prickly boulder in my tum and I'm hoping it's not Norovirus. I wait in suspense.
Let's be positive; I've had to stop working as I'm unable to spell a whole word without mistakes, and I may well abandon this posting if there's too much correcting to do. But last night's gig was fun so here goes...

Last night's Rrrants gig was marvellous; everyone was on top form and there was a great atmosphere.
Martin travelled down in the daytime and we had to have a quick rehearsal which meant that we missed the fabulous Lobby Ludd in all his unfabulousness. I'll never forget the machine he brought on stage once that had horns, cymbals, so many additional features that he became intrigued mid-song and abandoned the audience for a couple of verses until Paul yelled (with great charm) at him to get back to what he was supposed to be doing. Luckily, I now have a copy of his CD to listen to.

We managed to get there in time for Julie Mullen, who sported a gigantic ugly baby with a huge green face and who talked us through her childbirth experience in great detail. The baby didn't seem to mind, remaining impassive throughout, which I though was rather ungrateful of it.
At this point, three fresh-faced young men rather unwisely chose the three seats directly in front of the stage to sit in and provided additional entertainment, especially as the face of the freshest one was readily observable throughout. They looked like happy puppies, lapping it all up along with copious pints of bitter that led to much mockery from the stage (more of that later).
Richard Frost told us a long shaggy dog story; perhaps it was a shaggy horse story, or even a shaggy bear story. Partway through the horse story, he waited for a few seconds. I think the horse had just met a bear, who interrupted the joke. Why the long paws? asked the horse.
Reader, that's right up my shaggy dog street.

Poeterry got up, and pretty Poeterrifying he is too. He loves women....
Dressed in a brocade waistcoat and tails, he tells us in poetry about the various women he has fancied. The audience, a family of eccentrics (who I appear to have become one of as I realised during my comfort break halfway through), know all the words and chanted along very much like a group of primary school children chanting along with teacher to learn a nursery rhyme.

There were other comedians too; Mel Jones thrilled the three fresh-faced fellow with her bawdiness which they absorbed with drunken hunger. Actually, my favourite bit of her set was the compilation of CVs which any of the third years reading this will fully understand. How I wish I'd filmed it to show them!
I think I have written before about the Rrrants night when the Offsprogs came along and were slightly taken aback to hear about middle aged (and post-middle-aged) people's sexual fantasies being articulated as comedy poetry. Looking at it from that perspective, it's refreshing to realise that the miraculous discovery by their generation's rappers that they have penises is really just as silly as everything else.

I've had to miss some acts out, sorry; they were all good!
John Hegley was up next and demonstrated his mastery of stagecraft and audience manipulation. Within seconds, he'd told off the three fresh faced chappies for filming, telling them in the process a neat little anecdote about a recent children's performance where the audience had been asked not to film for fear of spoiling the children's magic. He eyed them sternly when they were restless, and sang songs accompanied by a very beautiful woman on ukelele. Paul and Ian joined him for the Guillemot song on washboard and double bass respectively. By now, John was on the floor in front of the stage, artfully blocking one of the fresh-faced who was attempting to return wobblingly to the front row with a tray laden with overflowing pint glasses.
The audience flapped their wings, made like fish with their hands and laughed.
It was good.

Finally, Martin and myself got up to play our combi-set of his songs and my songs. We started off with Me and Matthew, followed by If You've Got the Blues and then 24 Hours. We played Wholly Humble Heart, Anarchy Skiffle, Little Red Bottle and finished with the Cannonball Rag with Paul, Ian and Steve (who plays with me in Helen and the Horns), who played a rootin'tootin' trumpet solo or two. Lobby Ludd could be heard tootling his kazoo in the background. It was great fun to play as a duo even if the rehearsal was a bit last minute, and at times we hit the groove even though my Telecaster decided to go off-piste at one point and contribute some unintended Hendrix-style feedback.
The Antipoet rounded the evening off with Tights or Fishnet Stockings. Hilariously, after all that had come before, this was the song that made the fresh faced chappies look really embarrassed. Maybe it hit a nerve, or maybe it missed one; I couldn't work it out but I spent the song watching them listen in stunned silence. They completed the evening, really, and at one point I did wonder if they were a deliberate plant recruited from Marks and Sparks menswear department earlier in the day.

Great to see Tom out with his lovely partner, and Wilky and various other chaps and chapesses.
Foolish Girl, where art thou? We miss you!

Thanks in abundance to Paul, Donna and Ian for putting on these intimate, hilarious and warm-hearted evenings. They will be greatly missed: I've enjoyed both performing and being in the audience; could there be a better night out?


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