A couple of days after the event, but it's not too late to write a few words about Sunday night.
The Hope and Anchor gracefully moves from era to era, weathering all the different storms of music that tumble into its basement from the streets and unfold on the stage. Back in the day, it used to be a yellow room, with punk bands and after-punk bands. I saw the Meteors there, and Brighton band Daddy Yum Yum, whose chief fan was Jamie Reid, the Sex Pistols designer. Strange but true! He propped up the bar on one elbow and waxed lyrical about them. The Chefs played there, with the Dollymixture. I sat and talked to their drummer Hester in the dressing room. One of us was knitting (I can't remember which).
Last time I played there solo was a Loud Women event. It's the sort of venue that people go to just on spec and for a band or artist that makes it a place to play to new audiences, which is always an exciting challenge. It's also a place for you to check out new music, playing shoulder to shoulder and cheek by jowl with other bands and hearing what's out there.
The venue was pretty full even as the doors opened for the first band, Parenthesis. Their gadgets included an electronic woodwind instrument and what appeared to be an electronic shoulder bag, from which emitted some classic-sounding, and classy, electronic pop music with witty lyrics about London nightlife and the shared loneliness of the dark hours. They started the night off with a lively and energetic bang, a positive pop experience that burst through the Sunday gloom.
The Rhynes were a complete contrast, a duo who played delicate and gorgeous songs that were very much more than a sum of their parts. Guitar and bass sounded like a full band, and with their perfectly pitched vocals they created a unique sound that you could engage with on first listen. Good songs too. I need to hear more.
Then it was my turn. Thankfully someone shushed the audience because I was the only solo performer of the evening. And people listened. Off to one side, someone clicked their fingers to So Long Elon. I had to sing mine and Robert's contribution to the WIAIWYA Christmas album by myself and do Robert's vocals in the talking section. Apparently I sounded nothing like him. I guess our duo is safe.
After a break, European Sun took to the stage and treated us to their gentle and humorous pop, interspersed with storytelling and great bass playing from Rob Pursey, normally to be found playing guitar with The Catenary Wires. Amelia was at home looking after their daughter so the chaps shared out her parts between them, apparently only realising they needed to do that once the song was under way. Who needs The Beatles film when you can witness real things happening in real life?
Pete Astor was the penultimate artist; he was accompanied by Ian Button and Rob on bass, and he sang his perfectly crafted songs with a winning charm that invited the audience into his songs about Bekonscott model village (nice witty bantz with an audience member there), and a very touching tribute to Pat Fish. Pete's lyrics make the apparently ordinary extraordinary: he is an observer and celebrator of the details of life that pass a lot of us by.
The evening finished with Golden Spike, a band that includes members from several continents. All dressed in white (was that snow?), their first song had a hilarious moment when the band member holding up cards that illustrated the lyrics got stuck halfway through and was unable to shuffle his way out of a visual traffic jam. The faux pas only endeared them to the audience, and their vocal harmonies soared around the room as a lovely finale.
Ahem... Rob and Pete had asked me to stand in for Amelia and sing Walking in a WIAIWYA Wonderland for John Jervis, the man behind the label. I'd agreed so long as we didn't miss the last train home. We had the time, so we sang the song, with the audience merrily singing along and not caring one bit that the lyrics had been changed. They just wanted to join in. It was fun!
So there you go. No more gigs till the New Year now: crowds are too risky for my family. There could not have been a better way to finish the gigging year, in which I've been much busier than I thought I would be. Big thanks to John Jervis for releasing the album, and to Caryne as always for arranging the whole thing so impeccably!
Here's the record: https://wiaiwya.bandcamp.com/album/24
And here's the finale: