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Blog: Shortfuse

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I stayed LATE at work last night before heading off to ANGEL for my gig at Shortfuse, on the way having a TERRIFYING experience. Stood on the platform at Kings Cross I took my phone out of my pocket to check it was working, pressing the button to make the lid flip up and then - WHOA! WHOO! EERK! - felt it flip OUT of my hand, land on the floor, and then BOUNCE onto the platform onto the tracks. ARGH! I looked at it, thinking "Well, at least that means I HAVE to get a new one now!" when I realised the tracks on the Northern Line are only about a foot down, so quickly looked along to see if there was a train coming. There WAS, but it was a LONG way off yet, so I KNELT down and LEANED over and picked up the phone.

The train SWOOSHED by about 30 seconds later - i wasn't really in ANY kind of danger at all, but GOOD GOLLY it was all a bit scary. I got on the train with my heart beating at a 1,000,000 m.p.h. and thinking "EEK!" And all this with a bad back too!!

I got to the venue at about 8pm and met John The Promoter, who seemed fairly relaxed. One of the NICE things about these sort of gigs is that they're really not that arsed about soundchecks, so you can turn up JUST before it's all due to start - something I've still not got used to, which is why I was the first one there. By 8.30pm the other acts had arrived... but no audience had. By nine o'clock there was only ONE paying customer, and John The Promoter and John Citizen (the compere) came round to everyone to ask whether we thought it was worth carrying on and playing the gig. I must admit a part of me thought "CANCEL! Let's go HOME!" I realised that ODDLY the ONLY time I have EVER had a gig cancelled for lack of audience was the LAST day of the LAST show I did in Edinburgh, when we, and the venue staff, all CHEERED with relief when nobody turned up, as we were a bit "poorly".

A bad OMEN perhaps? I dutifully said "Well, I've played to a lot LESS people", which is very TRUE as about SEVEN had arrived by now. Everybody else seemed ready to do it, so they waited a bit longer and then told us that we WOULD go ahead, but without a break in the middle, so that it'd also be done with quicker. Fine by me!

I'd spoken to Mr Citizen a bit earlier on about compering and the difference between ROCK and Poetry style gigs - i told him I thought it was a crap job, but he said he enjoyed it because you didn't need to do any preparation. I'm not sure if that was true, as he seemed very relaxed when he got up to do his bits, but also DEAD GOOD. He did lots of Asking Questions Of The Audience, tho unusually NOT so he could make The Smart Remarks, but because he seemed actually interested! It was a bit odd at first, but once you were used to it it was actually rather lovely, and made the whole room feel more TOGETHER. I was IMPRESSED - although the fact that he reminded me vaguely of DEREK GRIFFITHS (especially with his hand gestures) probably swayed me somewhat.

The other acts were some poets... sometimes you see poets who DEFY your idea of what they can be like, like Nathan Penlington (who usually hosts these nights but was off sick) or Penny Broadhurst, and sometimes not. It was all OK really, but it did remind me of why i prefer the (ON AVERAGE) slightly less PORTENTIOUS/PRETENTIOUS nature of The Rock And Roll Gig.

POLITENESS! Anyway, I was on third, and THIS is what I did:
  • I Did A Gig In New York
  • (insert title here)
  • It Only Works Because You're Here
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths

  • It seemed to go OK - I tried doing a bit more TALKING than usual, doing an ABBREVIATED version of the story from My Exciting Life In ROCK to kick off with. It didn't work all that well, possibly because I DASHED into it a bit and also DIDN'T do any intro at the start as to WHY i was suddenly on about a BOOK, but then it all gradually relaxed and I managed to TELL A NARRATIVE (it's catching!) with the others that felt like it worked all right. I was quite PLEASED that I'd been brave this time and actually tried something a BIT different, especially when I could HEAR everyone REALLY listening to It Only Works Because You're Here. As I say, I DO prefer the HONESTY and CASUALNESS of ROCK to these sort of things - where I often feel everyone's just being POLITE and are there because it is The Poetry, rather than for FUN - but it's GOOD to put yourself in these different situations. I think.

    When the last guy had finished it was time to get going home, and as I said my goodbyes i was handed a envelope by John The Promoter. This morning on my way to work I remembered it was still in my pocket, so opened it and found, along with a TENNER, a CARD saying thanks for playing! It was LOVELY - i was really rather touched with the idea that they'd go to the effort of doing that, it was GRATE!

    It was while thinking this that I realised - I'm playing Brixton tonight, and forgot to bring my guitar into work with me, so will have to go home and get it. BUM!

    posted 30/5/2008 by MJ Hibbett

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