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Blog Archive: August 2021

The Sheffield Pop Weekender
On Sunday lunchtime I got on the train to Sheffield to go and play my first actual proper solo gig for about TWO AND A HALF FLIPPING YEARS! I've done a couple of Validators gigs, and various online things plus some other bits and bobs, but this was the first time I'd done a gig NOT being promoted by me since way back in March 2019 when I did the "No Headliner" tour with Mr M Tiller! CRUMBS!

I was thus a little nervous about the whole thing, and thus had been Actually Practicing but this did not entirely assuage THE FEAR. It also didn't help that travelling is still a bit SCARY, but I was mightily calmed by the realisation that changing at Doncaster meant I had time to pop into The Draughtsman on Platform One for a delicious half. The last time I was there was, I think, on that tour with Matt too, and it was still GRATE!

I was met at the station by The Landlady, who lives up that way now, and we had lunch and a right old chat before she walked me to my hotel. I am very much out of practice at this and had booked the wrong Premier Inn, which meant it was about a half hour walk a little while later when I headed off the Shakespeare. For LO! it was there that I was gigging, as the HEADLINE ACT (!) of The Sheffield Pop Weekender, organised by the delightful people of Macho Music Is Stupid.

I arrived to find that even COVID could not kill off the core tenets of all-dayers i.e. they must always run about 45-60 minutes late. In this case it was happening because they'd had to find a new soundman at short notice, but if that hadn't occurred I'm sure The Gods Of ROCK would have arranged something else. This did sadly mean that my grand plan to not have too much to drink before GIG O'CLOCK did not exactly pan out as planned, but it did also mean that I got to catch all of the other bands in the Evening Session of the all-dayer and more importantly to spend time with all of the LOVELY PALS who were there. To be honest, the best bit of these gigs is often the PALS, and this is especially so in Sheffield where there are so many of them available, all of whom are ACE.

Eventually it was my turn to go on, and I went and did THIS:

  • The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
  • We're Old And We're Tired (and we want to go home)
  • 20 Things To Do Before You're 30
  • Bad Back
  • We Can Start Having Fun
  • In The North Stand
  • People Are All Right (if they are given half a chance)
  • Theme From Dinosaur Planet
  • Hey Hey 16K
  • Clubbing In The Week
  • It Only Works Because You're here
  • We Did It Anyway
  • It turns out that all that practicing actually paid off, as I remembered VERY NEARLY all of the words and most of the chords, even after a few beers! I also managed to not say quite ALL of the "brilliant things to say" I had spent the preceding hours thinking up. I did say A LOT, but there was an awful lot more REMARKS I had that I managed to curtail. It's been two and a half years, I have clearly been saving it all up!

    With the gig ROCKED all that remained was to have another beer with the aforesaid pals and then wander off into the streets of Sheffield for the walk home. It was bloody GRATE to be back again in ROCK like this, I just hope it's not another two and a half years before I get to do it again!

    posted 31/8/2021 by MJ Hibbett
    (click here for permanent link)

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    The Suicide Squad
    I had a most unusual day on Saturday, in that I did lots of stuff out and about without any pre-booking. I didn't even have to download an APP!

    For LO! I was heading into town to meet my chum Mr S Wilkinson so see "The Suicide Squad". I have seen MANY films over the past year or so, but this time we were going to do so in a special building which was like a really big living room with smaller sofas and a MASSIVE telly, where lots of people you didn't know could pop in. A "cinema" they called it - it did sound vaguely familiar somehow, so I thought I might as well give it a go.

    On the way I met Mr S Love to hand over some unused 7" single mailers - he has a NEW SINGLE available and is posting them out, and I had a big pile of old mailers that have been a REMINDER OF FAILURE ever since we released Do The Indie Kid in 2008 and discovered not many people actually wanted to buy it. It was a relief to finally be rid of them!

    With that done I went to meet my Cinema Chum in a PUB. I have BEEN in pubs over The Pandemic but it's often been a right old kerfuffle booking tables and ordering beer via computer, but here we found we could get drinks by simply walking to the bar in an analogue fashion and verbally asking. It was a KRAZY PLAN but it seemed to work!

    The cineme we'd selected was The Odeon on Tottenham Court Road, where I have seen LOADS of superhero films over the years. Part of the reason for this is that I used to work very close to it, but the bigger reason is that it is almost always DESERTED, and this time was no exception. When we arrived there was a clutch of STAFF standing around the doorway - at first I thought they were there to check our vaccine credentials or something, but actually they were just lurking about because there were so few customers. A Nice Young Man offered to help me use the ticket machine, which made Simon FLY into action and do it for both of us at high speed, and then we wandered into the cinema itself, where there were about EIGHT other people. Perfect!

    The film itself was GRATE. It was very much in The Guardians Of The Galaxy mode, where they accept the extremely ridiculous nature of Superhero Movies and a) lean into it b) use it to tell a heartfelt story that isn't afraid to have jokes at the same time as FEELZ. It was somewhat more VIOLENT and SPLATTERY than the Guardians films, but apart from that was Quite Similar. My favourite part was just sitting there thinking "I appear to be watching a film where Starro - BLOODY STARRO - is defeated by a character very very similar to Squirrel Girl."

    Afterwards we went to ANOTHER pub where apps were not required, making the long-awaited return to The King & Queen. It was lovely to be there, but CRUMBS I had forgotten how LOUD pubs can be. The telly was on for the Rugby and there was quite a few people in there CHATTING, and it is a LONG time since my poor old ears have had to deal with all that, so after a pint we went round the corner and sat outside The Stag's Head, which was also DELIGHTFUL.

    It was a lovely way to spend an afternoon, especially experiencing this weird hint of a Possible Future that isn't all that dissimilar to the Pre-Event Past. It was brilliant!

    posted 10/8/2021 by MJ Hibbett
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    New Approaches To Gig Preperation
    This week I have been getting ready for my forthcoming gig at The Sheffield Pop Weekender by PRACTICING!

    "But this is hardly news is it?", you may say. To which I would reply - have you read this blog before? It is not exactly NEWSNIGHT.

    "No no," you might continue, "the blog is full of earth-shatteringly vital content, what I mean is that surely you always practice before gigs, what with your consummate professionalism and that."

    My response here would be to say thank you very much but - and hold onto your hats because this may ASTONISH you - in the past I have often not practiced at ALL before gigs. Yes, that's right, all of those delightful moments where I appeared to have forgotten the words, or the chords, or indeed what I'd actually come into the room to do, were NOT carefully rehearsed "bits", but actual genuine mistakes!

    Usually these are of course DELIGHTFUL and All Part Of The Fun, but it did strike me that it's now been OVER TWO YEARS since I last did a full-length solo gig in front of actual people, so I might be a bit RUSTY. In the intervening time there have however been a few Validators gigs, for which I ALWAYS practice, if only to avoid The Vlads saying "you did Hey Hey 16K wrong AGANE" too many times, and this does seem to have WORKED - the last time we played I actually got it right (that song anyway) all the way through!

    THUS I thought it might be a good idea to Actual Practice Some Songs in order to get myself back into the GROOVE. Initial efforts were extremely annoying, as it turned out I really didn't know the words, or the chords, to loads of songs, and had to keep stopping to look stuff up on my phone (the main reason why the full list of songs exists, to be honest!) which wasn't particularly handy. In order to SOLVE this problem I made myself a SONGBOOK containing about 30 of my songs with words AND chords, featuring mainly news songs and older ones that I don't do all that often (I left most of THE HITS out because even I can just about work those ones out). This was a flipping BRILLIANT idea, as it meant that when I practice I have a whole MENU of songs to choose from, rather than just going through the same small batch, making it a LOT more fun. It also means I've REALLY got into some songs I've never played much on my own, especially We Can Start Having Fun which I am currently playing every day. It is GRATE!

    The only problem with this approach is that there are SO MANY SONGS (about 30 in The Songbook plus 20ish that I should in theory know off by heart anyway) that CHOOSING was going to be a problem. That was until I saw the below DELIGHTFUL tweet:

    Apart from being very nice and flattering, this ALSO pretty clearly specifies SIX of my older songs that I should play in my set, which saves me a LOT of worrying about it. PHEW! I am thus now rotating through various of those songs, other Ones I Should Really Know, the various NEW ones I've got at the moment AND also some of the (even more than my songs usually are) OBSCURE ones what I haven't played for a while. It is frankly a JOY and I would heartilty recommend Actually Practicing A Bit to anyone!

    The only trouble is that once I've DONE this gig, I haven't got any others booked, and don't really know what to do about it. It is a LONG LONG LONG time since the glory days when people used to email me regularly to ask if I'd like to play their gigs, and also MILLENIA since I knew any promoters who were still putting gigs on. What does one DO to get a gig nowadays anyway? Do you just EMAIL people still, or is there something else? And who is putting gigs ON? I realise there have been NO GIGS for ages too, so is anyone getting back into it? And if so, would anyone fancy putting ME on sometime? If nothing else, I will have PRACTICED!

    posted 5/8/2021 by MJ Hibbett
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