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Blog: Back At The Bloomsbury

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Last night was my second, and final, night at The Bloomsbury for Robin Ince's "9 Lessons" gigs. THIS time I knew what to expect, so very casually strolled up at 6pm, went down the CORRECT steps, took my backstage pass like i was BORN to such things, and swanned into the Green Room where I met Mr G Osborn, who had diligently arrived on time and already done his soundcheck. We had a chat, I went off and did a super quick soundcheck of my own, then came back for MORE chat, once again creating Songwriter's Corner with him, Ms G Petrie and Ms H Arney. It was LOVELY, especially when Helen was CHALLENGED on her assertion that the Uke is tuned the same as a guitar. "NO IT ISN'T!" someone (hem hem) said confidently, only for her to get it out and demonstrate that the strings ARE the same tuning (tho TRANSPOSED) as the last four on a guitar, so that you CAN just play the bottom bits of guitar chords. I'd never realised this before, and we all marvelled as Grace picked up the Uke and started playing it for the first time PEASILY. The look on her face was the same as the look on everybody's face as they pick up a uke for the first time: DELIGHT!

I watched a lot of the first half from the wings, occasionally sneaking down for a BEER - the fridge was FULL of beer, which the comedians seemed to be AVOIDING. They are a funny (peculiar) lot, comedians - they always seem to be TERRIFIED of something, but also Terribly Professional, at least compared to BANDS. You hear all these stories about them being KRAZY but I've never seen it, or perhaps I have become used to ROCK ANTICS and expect Falling Over, Shouting and Incompetence as a BASELINE?

When it was getting near the middle I went out to the foyer to see if i could spot Mr J Kell... and waited for AGES, as the first half ended up being TWO HOURS long! There was a huge flood of people emerging (i bet the LOO was doing a lot of work!) and I couldn't find John but DID bump into various other people, which made me feel more at HOME. I was a lot happier being there last night than on Tuesday, which was mostly SCARY, but still felt very much like it was Not My Place. Which, to be fair, it isn't really!

The second half began and it featured ME near the start. I did a short BIT about names for "Geeks" beforehand - I'd read a suggestion that we stop using Americanisms like "Geek" or "Nerd" and return to old British terms, such as "Brains" or "Boffin". I pointed out - correctly - that the only term previously used for "geeks" when I was at school wasn't anything as CHARMING as "Boffin", but rather "Sad Wankers", which was actually quite an accurate description. Yes, I HAD spent all afternoon thinking about what to say, and WAS quite pleased with it, HENCE the repetition here!

I did It Only Works Because You're Here again and STRODE off... and once again my KNEES went and I realised HOW scared I'd been. Gav said "I noticed you sang one bit slightly differently" for LO! my BRANE had been so busy thinking of STUFF that I'd gone into the second chorus when it should have been the first, then had to VEER round the words to make it up. I think it was OK tho!

In the second half Gav and Grace were GRATE again, as was Helen and I SUPPOSE the people i don't know too, and there was a lot of HUGZ as people headed off - including Excitable Discussion with Gav and Grace about maybe doing a TOUR next year. LOADS of people were leaving too - I know it's different from GIGS, but I still find it odd when people LEAVE before it's all over, and towards the very end the backstage area became DESERTED once more.

I stuck around, however, as I had a JOB to do: CD distribution! Once again I'd said during the set that I was moving house, so had loads of boxes of CDs to give away, and once again people seemed SURPRISED that I'd been telling the truth! It was lovely to stand there and hand out HUNDREDS of CDs, there is a special JOY in seeing CRATES of heavy moving items disappearing towards smiling people - my favourite was when one lady said. "God bless you! Oh, hang on, that's not right here is it?" I said it was FINE, then she came back a minute later for another CD and said "And happy new year too!"

Soon it was all over, I packed my bags, GENEROUSLY (hem hem) left the remaining CDs with the nice Merchandising Stand people to give out on other nights (SO GIVING!), hugged Mr Ince, and then strode out into the night. It's back to my normal gigs in the new year, with chums and beers and What I Know, but it was fun to play a BIG STAGE for a change - I wonder if I'll ever get to do it again?

posted 20/12/2013 by MJ Hibbett

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