Saturday, October 28, 2023

Did That Really Happen?

Almost devoid of cameras, in a bubble of bonhomie a little treasure of a gig happened last night. The first part of it was like a Hollywood film- the door banging open at intervals, and shellshocked-looking, soaking-wet people, with hair askew, tumbling into the room with a sense of relief that they'd found us and that they were out of the grim and gruesome weather.

The next part felt like Time Bandits: doors safely closed, apart from the occasional forays of smokers out into The Weather again, the whole room felt like one big smile. Foldy seats were out in rows, the bar had an extraordinary selection of mismatched glasses that randomised the consumption of drinks, and after making the effort to get there, everyone seemed determined to have a bloody good time. 

No telly! No screens! Life in three dimensions with all it's happy accidents and spontaneity!

I'd been so worried about this gig; remind me not to be a promoter again. We had honourable competition (Johnny Hanna's postcards exhibition with free booze, and Swansea Sound in Hove), but we managed to pull a pretty decent crowd with a healthy proportion of young 'uns (actually, people in their late 20s and early 30s). 

Everything was set up for our sound check when we got there. Simon Hill, the studio owner, was really welcoming and even stretched James's guitar strings for him. 

James played first, and included a Smeggy and the Cheesybits song (Stuck on You) and a cover of You Get Everywhere by The Chefs. I played almost straight after, and noticed that people were singing along to the Bad Apple song (especially Kaya Kendall, Asbo Derek's drummer, who arrived with two friends and gave not only massive good vibes but also formation dancing at the back of the room). We ended with the best-ever rendition of the Bathing Pond, absolutely roaring down the storm, then James and me played The Chefs mini-set. For some reason (sibling empathy, perhaps), we managed to both make mistakes at the same time in Records and Tea, but the rest of it was fine, I think.

At the very end, I played Beachwalk as an encore, largely at Kaya's request. There was no time to hang around- the trains back to London were being cancelled left right and centre: a cab arrived, and delivered us (my nephew Alex and his friend and me) to the station just in time for the last train back. The cab driver even let us off some of the money- I'm not sure why.

The conversations: chatting with Rachel Dollymixture about song writing, and terrible press and record label people who have come and gone, and here we still are. We used to do a lot of gigs together, and I love them to bits. Sally Smith, the Helen and the Horns live sound engineer through all those gigs and adventures, brought her daughter and one of her sons. Alison, from Bradford via Brighton or perhaps the other way round, who should receive a gold star for loyalty, arrived. She is known for turning up unexpectedly at gigs in both places. Jonathan Chrisp, The Chefs London manager, came with his family. David McLean, who singlehandedly documents Brightons' music history on his page DJ Gremlin's Rocking Stompers, while the Punkbrighton website is resting, was there. Kaya, of course, and her friends cheerleading from the back. Nick Linazasoro, darting around with his camera (there must be some photos somewhere). There were lots of other familiar smiling faces: thank you so much for your good cheer, audience. You really were the stars last night. And of course, thanks to Simon Hill for volunteering his studio as a venue- and Gary, who manned the mixing desk and who runs a singing school there and got us a truly excellent sound.

This morning, I feel as though I was given an amazing gift last night. Sometimes, it all feels worth it.

Review of the gig by Nick Linazasoro in Brighton and Hove News:

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