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Blog: The Bloomsbury Theatre

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On Tuesday I was full of NERVES because I was due to play one of the biggest gigs I have EVER played, at The Bloomsbury Theatre for Robin Ince's 9 Lessons And Carols For Godless People event.

It was also one of the Nearest To My Work gigs, so I got there bang on time at 5pm for the soundcheck, where I met one other participant, who was trying to find out where he needed to go. I worked out - and had verified - that he too was a first-timer, as everyone else would be used to it and not turn up quite so early!

We followed somebody into the building, got lost, wandered round various empty corridors, and eventually found our way to the stage area where I did a quick soundcheck, before going back to an empty dressing room and... sitting there. It was all a bit WEIRD, the whole place was DESERTED. It wasn't helping with my FEAR either - I was LIGHT YEARS (science talk) out of my comfort zone, playing the sort of place I've never really played before on the kind of bill i've never played before and I felt like I was suddenly on the first day at Big School with nobody to tell me where to be.

So i went to the pub. Like a friendly old blanket it welcomed and reassured me, and I was soonjoined by Mr S Hewitt for a couple of delightful HALVES. Happier, I wandered back to the venue... to find it STILL deserted. I sat around for a bit before going for a wander and THIS time found Mr R Ince sat in the green room. PHEW - at least this meant I'd come on the right day! Very quickly afterwards Mr G Osborn arrived, and LO! all was suddenly WELL. Gav is, as I have pointed out several times before, one of the most DELIGHTFUL people in all of ROCK, and his HUGS are most reassuring. The pair of us sat down to chat - Gav said "Would you like a beer?" and Robin Ince FROWNED. I pointed out that we are MUSICIANS, not comedians, and thus are ALLOWED beer, and had one!

Other people filtered in and we ended up in a corner with Mr Steve Pretty and Ms Grace Petrie having a FINE old time in a Musician's Corner. I felt at HOME again, and was then DELIGHTED to get a call to see that The Acts On My Bill has arrived. I strolled out to meet her and also The Hewitts for a chat and pre-show BEER. All was right with the world as I said my farewells, before wandering backstage again... to find it DESERTED again.

Where had everybody gone? SILENCE reigned once more, it was STRANGE, so I went BACK to the front of house, asked where I could sit, and strolled upstairs to watch the first half. I may possibly be biased but my favourites were Gav and Grace, who were both ACE. I found myself feeling PROUD of Grace, which is a bit UNWARRANTED - we've only played together a couple of times, but just seeing her being such a Performance Powerhouse these days fills me with East Midlands PRIDE!

I went back downstairs for the interval for some more chat, also beer, then hightailed it round the back again for the second half, where I was due on near the start. Stood backstage I discovered Gav, and we had a RIGHT old natter, also LARF, whilst in the background Robin Ince kept a naked Norwegian at bay, waiting for several minutes for JUST the right moment to interrupt some Improvised Jazz. I guess this is what it's like in the world of comedy.

After a little while it was time for me to go on. I strode onto the HUGE stage and felt like I was in the right place. I hardly ever play gigs THIS big, but every time I do I think "Yes, this is about right for me, more of this please!" Nerves evaporated and I felt this was the correct arena for a slice of ME ACTION - it's weird, it totally is NOT my natural habitat to be playing to 500 people at the same time (as opposed to doing so over the course of 3 months!) but it always feels like it IS.

I had a quick chat and then did It Only Works Because You're Here which went WELL at my end and seemed to go down all right with the audience. Happy with everything I walked off... then nearly FELL OVER due to the accrued FEAR that had built up inside me. BEER was needed!

Beer was HAD, I watched and enjoyed the rest of the show, then just before the end I nipped out the front with a hessian bag full of CDs. The Boxes In My Depot had suggested I just GIVE AWAY a load of CDs at the end, like flyers, which struck me as a GRATE idea - i am, after all, moving house very soon so could do with getting rid of Unwanted Stock, and you could always justify it as Promotional Activity if you wanted to. I stood ready as people came out and... it turned out to be a FANTASTIC idea! People happily took CDs (some took 2 by mistake, as I was giving away the double-sided My Exciting Life In ROCK EP - i did not correct them) and when Steve came over to help with distribution they FLEW away. We gave out about TWO HUNDRED of them! On Thursday night I'm going to do it AGANE!!

All too soon the surge was over and no more CDs could be handed out, so we packed what was left into a bag and headed home. It's all happening again on Thursday and I must say I'm looking forward to it a lot more this time, now that I know how things WORK. I'd really like to do MORE of this sort of thing, partly to get used to it but mostly because, once you ARE used to it, it's such fun. Big Promoters/Festival Bookers take note: AM AVAILABLE!

posted 18/12/2013 by MJ Hibbett

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