After playing what must have been the coldest day of 2017 for the Hoxton Radio broadcast at Spitalfields Market earlier this year, Saturday was the hottest day of the year so far (exceeded by today) and Barnsley town centre was thronging with people with a drink in one hand and various glowing areas of sunburn that I think were going to make their Sunday rather painful.
The Live in Barnsley Festival takes place in most of the central pubs in town, and music was flowing from what seemed like every single hostelry when I got there mid-afternoon, including plenty of punk covers; it was easy to tell what was close to this town's heart.
Barnsley is a lovely place, dominated by a Town Hall that looks as though it has been borrowed from Berlin, and a rusty iron pronged sculpture that local music expert Kevin Osborne, who invited me to play at the festival, described as The Nit Comb. Children were frolicking in the ornamental fountains and the streets were spotless: there was no litter anywhere and it was almost like walking into a film set.
The White Bear pub was where I was due to play; a band called the Magic Flute played before me and I really enjoyed their music- their sound was a sort of hearty, beefy heavy metal with a bit of Bellowhead thrown in to the mix, all delivered through proper songs, and obviously greatly enjoyed by the crowd.
Thankfully I have given up being fazed by following on from entirely different genres of music (or comedy, poetry, whatever) partly because of playing such diverse nights in London over the years. I could tell the sound engineer had good ears and that's all you need, really. The pub remained noisy but it was their afternoon out, and there were enough people down the front listening including a posse of lick-stealers who I caught in the act, some appreciative children and some very smiley people in general. I just thought there was a great atmosphere.
Thank you to Kevin for putting my name forward and for all his help, and for the photo. I think it's Heaven Avenue I'm playing.