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Blog Archive: February 2023

Comics And Agency
I was sitting at home the other day, diligently going about my work, when the doorbell rang. I wasn't expecting anything and assumed it was a wrong number, so was SURPRISED when the postie on the intercom said it was for ME. As he made his way upstairs to the flat I tried to work out what on earth it could be, and it was only when he handed it over and I saw that it had come from GERMANY that I realised what it was.

For LO! it was my ACTUAL COPY of the ACTUAL BOOK Comics And Agency what I wrote a CHAPTER of and which came out back in November. I'd be told that my copy would take a while to turn up and so it had dropped to the back of my BRANE, which made it all the more exciting to open the package and find THIS beautiful item within:

Yes, as I'm sure everyone has noticed, that IS an Ultimate Nullifier that has been worked into the cover design, something which gives a clue to the general EXCELLENCE within. I was already excited about it, but having an actual real copy of it in my hand made it seem much more REAL, so that when I flipped through the pages I was THRILLED all over again to see the PROPER GROWN-UP NAMES of ACTUAL RESEARCHERS in it along with me.

If you'd like to read it then you can do so immediately as it's available to download FOR FREE from the De Gruyter website as OPEN ACCESS. I would heartily recommend doing so as there are some MIGHTY BRANES involved with some MASSIVE THORTS, and also a sizeable chunk of me explaining some of my analysis of the authors of Doctor Doom comics. IN AN ACTUAL BOOK!

posted 28/2/2023 by MJ Hibbett
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It's Hard To Be Hopeful (Bass, Hope and Clarity Mix)
Today I am UNLEASHING the fourth and final single from The Unearthly Beauty Of MJ Hibbett - a brand new remix of It's Hard To Be Hopeful by our very own Frankie Machine which he has called the "Bass, Hope & Clarity Mix", for reasons which should become clear when you hear it. It is, not put too fine a point on it, BLOODY GRATE!

It's available on all the usual streaming services - for instance Spotify, Amazon and iTunes - and I've also done a VIDEO for it which you can witness BELOW:

The only place we're NOT currently putting it out is on Bandcamp, as there are PLANS for a REMIX EP to come in the near-ish future. Otherwise you should be able to get it pretty much EVERYWHERE, and if you do I very much hope you LIKE it!

posted 27/2/2023 by MJ Hibbett
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Cover Reveal
On Monday I'll be unleashing a NEW SINGLE on an ill-prepared world. It's a REMIX of It's Hard To Be Hopeful from off of The Unearthly Beauty Of MJ Hibbett, created by our very own Mr F A Machine. He's called it the "Bass, Hope & Clarity Mix" for reasons that, I am sure, will become clear to you when you hear it!

The single will be available on all of your usual streaming sites, and there will be a (rather snazzy) VIDEO to go with it too. Today however I thought I should probably fulfill my promotional obligations by doing a COVER REVEAL. So here it is, revealed - the cover!

The image gives a very strong clue as to what the video will be like! I'm quite excited about this as the remix sounds GRATE, with whole great chunks of fab news sounds that have been bouncing around singing ever since I heard it. Frankie has done a thorough RE-INTERPRETATION of how the whole song works, adding all sorts but keeping The THORTS behind it all, and I can't wait for the UNWITTING WORLD to hear it. The video is also pretty groovy, especially if you like MY FACE! Which i assume is... most people?

All of that is to come on MONDAY - see you then, FACE FANS!

posted 24/2/2023 by MJ Hibbett
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I've been banging on about the data from my One Thousand Gigs for over a MONTH now, all the while promising that I would eventually UNLEASH it for others to have a look at. After yesterday's grand finale I am thus very happy to say that it is available RIGHT NOW, at this address:

Why yes, that IS a Digitial Object Identifier (DOI), for LO! I have deposited it on The University of the Arts London's data repository. It has of course been subject to RIGOROUS checking by the person responsible for running the repository (hem hem), and they decided that a dataset offering empirical analysis of MUSIC PERFORMANCE was an entirely valid, and indeed SEXY, item to place within it. Well done that person, whoever they may be!

As you'll see if you have a look, the dataset incudes all the data I've been using for gigs, nicely cleaned up so that each performance has the venue name and units shifted appended to the same row (rather than having to go through 18 relational tables like what I did for the original analysis). Similarly the list of songs in the setlist are named, and linked to the gigs by a variable called "gigcode".

The only data I've withheld from the public dataset is the actual names in the "people" table, which lists who I played with at each gig. I've checked with my Department's Local Information Manager (hem hem) and they have reassured me that the analyses I've shared so far are compliant with GDPR as I've only used names given during the public performances, but still I - OR RATHER WE - felt a bit itchy about uploading even that to UAL's systems, so it's been left as just ID codes. If you really really want to get the list of actual names then get in touch and let me know why you need them, otherwise I'll go along with the wise words of my UAL colleagues, WHOEVER THEY ARE.

The dataset comes with a short report what I wrote, detailing how it all works and giving a very brief (and less excitable) verison of yesterday's explanation of Why It Actually Matters. As the text there says, I really hope that doing this, and showing how FASCINATING it can be, will encourage other people to unleash their OWN data, and start to build something that properly reflects what goes on in this wonderful world of ROCK. I know for a FACT that some of you reading this right now will be sitting on a treasure trove of diaries, notebooks, and very probably Excel Spreadsheets, and I call upon you now to get publishing it. The world needs to know!

posted 22/2/2023 by MJ Hibbett
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What Does It All Mean And Why Does It Matter?
We've now come to end of my Month Of STATS, and before the bell rings and we're all free to go outside and play, I thought it might be WISE to take a moment to try and work out what it all MEANS, and more importantly, why does it MATTER?

For me, the primary learning from all of this has been COR there isn't half LOTS you can do with a dataset like this. Yesterday I was working on the publicly available dataset (more news of that tomorrow) and was surprised to see that it's actually quite SMALL. I boiled it down to just three tables - gigs, the people who played them, and the songs they played - with none of them having more than a few columns each, and yet I've managed to get 15 entire BLOGS out of them and could have done MUCH more. The STATS I've dealt out here have been very basic indeed, only occasionally touching on the ways in which different aspects could interact with each other, and an Actual Statistician could have done multiple metric TONNES more.

Practically speaking, my main takeaway has been that Indietracks and/or Fuzztival needs to come back so that I can have another go at emptying my cupboards. More generally it becomes clear that the places where it's easiest to sell merchandise are EITHER at gigs where people haven't seen you before OR at gigs where they have but you have new things to sell them. Also, it turns out that you can't sell much at all to people who have already left the building and gone to watch something else. These INSIGHTS will, I'm sure, have a seismic impact on the business side of the business of ROCK!

But the GRATEST thing I've got out of this is a reminder of how much FUN I've had over the course of these thousand gigs. I've played with some BRILLIANT people, in various permutations in all sorts of places, and along the way I've unleashed a PILE of GRATE songs on audiences who, every now and then, wanted to BUY some to take home with them.

With so much ROCKING OUT going on all the time - in the scenarious mentioned above but also recording songs, making videos, and even sometimes (when I can't get out of it) PRACTICING - its always very tempting to just focus on what's happening NOW and especially NEXT, so there isn't an awful lot of space to REFLECT on what's gone before. Using STATS has been a lovely way to go about it, and I'm hoping to do a bit more of the aforesaid REFLECTION next week by glancing back at some MISSED MILESTONES.

I hope it's been of some INTEREST for those of you who've read THE LOT. Obviously My Exciting Life In ROCK is enduringly fascinating to EVERYONE, but I suspect quite a few people have read this and been reminded of their OWN lifes in This Krazy Business, whether it's seeing, or playing in, bands in some of the same places I have, or lurking round with some of the same people, or just the daft experience of going out and DOING this sort of thing.

Which brings me onto the POINT of the whole exercise, which is twofold. Firstly, obviously, the plan was to highlight ME and my immense exertions in ROCK over the decades, but secondly, and surely ALMOST AS IMPORTANTLY, it's been to try and encourage other people to look at this aspect of Cultural Activity in a more detailed way. We hardly EVER see examinations of music-making at this level, down around the nether edges away from the stadiums and promotional budgets, whether it's indie or rock or jazz or rap or ANY of the many and mighty forms of music that people get involved with, and that is RIDICULOUS.

Every single day, all around the UK, there are HUNDRED - possibly THOUSANDS - of gigs happening, almost ALL of which never get reported or documented in any way at all. The media, traditional and social, and thus the historical record will tell you about the big bands playing the arenas, but there are many many MANY times as many people going out to toilet venue gigs, or open mic nights, or any of the other sorts of gigs that happen outside my little world of indie pop that I have no idea about. Going To See Small Gigs is probably THE BIGGEST CULTURAL ACTIVITY in this country, in the WORLD even, and yet there is almost NO record of what happened or where, and I think that's appalling.

Even if you don't think that this type of activity is important or has meaning just for its own sake (it does!) then it still has relevance to broader cultural analysis. For example, I went to see Mark Lewisohn talk about The Beatles a couple of months ago, and he had spent YEARS tracking down details of their earliest gigs - it took all that time to find out because there was no existing resource available to uncover it, despite them becoming the biggest band on the planet. He talked about how many gigs they were doing at the time, but there's no way of knowing if that was a LOT, or NORMAL, or NOT MANY because there is quite simply NO DATA to tell us what other bands were doing. This carries on right up to the present day, even in the era of the Internet - on many occasions during this process I tried to look up BIG GIGS that I'd been a small part of, expecting to find line-ups and stage times, but in some case the only online reference to these events - some of which featured HUNDREDS of people - was on my own flipping website!

By not recording this information, and not taking the idea of it seriously, we are losing a WEALTH of data about this country's - this PLANET's - main artistic endevour. I know that some of this information IS available now on places like Songkick, but that's HUGELY weighted towards certain types of act, and is basically warping the historical record so that it looks like it's something ONLY carried out by artists and bands signed to massive major labels, playing in massive corporate venues. This, of course, is precisely what THE MAN wants - by ignoring what the vast majority of us are getting up to for OURSELVES and off our own back EVERY SINGLE DAY - whether that's playing gigs, promoting, or most importantly of all GOING TO SEE THEM - then these large organisations can claim to be the only true carriers of the ROCK FLAME, taking all the money, all the credit, and all the control.

And THAT is why all of this matters - not because it allows us to discover that I've played more gigs with Steve than anybody else (not JUST because of that anyway) but because it's a way for THE REST OF US to stake a claim to OUR part in the human endevour of CREATION. And that in turn is why I hope other people will look into their own lists and spreadsheets (I know loads of you have them!) and do something similar. The more we make this data more widely available to researchers, the more THEY can get a truer picture of what ACTUALLY goes on - and that's why, TOMORROW, I shall be making all of this available to everyone. See you then for a STATS FINALE!

posted 21/2/2023 by MJ Hibbett
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Financial Drivers
For today's FINAL bit of specific analysis (don't panic, FACT FANS, there is BROADER analysis still to come!) I'm going to look at specific SALES DRIVERS in terms of where I played, who I played with and WHAT I played. In theory, by doing this, we should be able to work out where, what and with who I should go out and play in future in order to MAXIMISE REVENUE. I can see no possible way in which this could not work, and anybody who says otherwise is just a member of the left-wing economic establishment and/or anti-growth coalition!

So, let's kick off by finishing off the VENUE analysis from last week. Back then we looked at sales by specific venue, but today we're going to look at cities and general AREAS. I've got 24 seperate overall areas listed in The Database Of ROCK, and here's how they rank in terms of average sales.

Average Units Shifted Per Gig By City/Area
citySalesGigsAvg per gig
Outside UK55143.93

The first thing to say is that The Indietracks Effect is in full flow here, pushing Derby right to the top. In the nicest possible way, and with all due respect to that wonderful city, I do not recall selling HUGE amounts of MERCH there outside of Butterley!

After that though - Manchester! MANCHESTER?!? What the?!? Now, this is partly due to the fact that we did the Retrovision convention there and sold all those t-shirts, but is not the whole story, as looking through the records I have clearly sold other stuff there at other gigs. This is WEIRD for me because I have always thought that Manchester was one of those places (along with Brighton and Leeds) where I have never sufficiently BROKEN into people's hearts, but this seems to suggest very much otherwise.

Lovely HULL is next, which pleases me no end, followed by General Non-UK Places, which largely means GERMANY. Further down the list we can see that London and Leiceseter are not particular HOT SPOTS for me, despite playing there so often - or perhaps, fellow Economics Experts - it is BECAUSE I have played there so often? As we've already discussed, sales tend to be higher in places where the audience are less likely to have already seen me and BOUGHT stuff, so it must therefore be true that they will be lower in places where they've had AMPLE chance to do so in the past.

None of this analysis, however, can quite prepare us for the fact that Edinburgh, fantastic Edinburgh, is right down at the very bottom of the list, with a paltry average of 0.04 units sold per gig! To be absolutely fair to AULD REEKIE, the vast majority of my gigs there have been at The Fringe and buying merch is on NOBODY'S list of priorities there. I discovered this very early on when Steve and I set off the first time with a big bag full of copies of the It Only Works Because You're Here/My Exciting Life In ROCK EP which we'd DESIGNED to be able to sell at that show... and came back with a big bag STILL full of them. When a performance finishes at The Fringe the audience is practically DRIVEN OUT ready for the next show, so commercial activities are rather restricted!

These facts will, I feel, feed into our next table, as we look at how the different LINE-UPS fared in sales terms.

Sales By Gig Type
Gig TypeSalesGigsAvg per gig

As I say, clearly Fringe Shows are NOT the ideal space for selling merch, especially when your entire production and audience management team are ALSO your entire cast! Crikey though, look at how much more likely we were to shift units with The Vlads rather than just on my own! Again, this is at least partly due to the fact that all of the Big Unit Shifting Gigs (Indietracks, Retro Conventions, shows abroad) were ALSO Validators ones... although I am sure that some people (i.e. The Validators) might argue that those were Big Unit Shifting Gigs BECAUSE they were Validators ones! It's pretty clear either way that something is going on here - could it be that people LIKE The Validators more than just me? Or do they FEAR the larger group more, and feel compelled to please us with CA$H?

Or could it be something to do with WHAT each of these different line-ups play? For the final table today (and possibly final table for this whole thing) I'm going to have a look at the SONGS played, and the average UNITS SHIFTED at gigs WHERE they were played!

Sales By Songs (for songs played at 10+ gigs)
SongSalesGigsAvg per gig
I Want To Find Out How It Ends163208.15
Quality Of Life Enhancement Device210316.77
(You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock334704.77
Better Things To Do213454.73
Leave My Brother Alone198434.6
Mental Judo141314.55
Tell Me Something You Do Like48114.36
Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid4781223.92
The Gay Train5861523.86
The Saturday Lunchtime Wrestlers36103.6
Payday Is The Best Day116333.52
Do The Indie Kid5291513.5
Easily Impressed8712493.5
We Only Ever Meet In Church65193.42

Now, before we go any further, I am a little unsure of the methodology here - what I did was get the total sales for each GIG and then apply that number to each of the songs played AT those gigs, then divided it by the number of times those particular songs were played overall - with all figures taken from 2005 onwards, as that's when the setlists data properly begins. I've also PRUNED the overall table to remove one-offs and so on - if I hadn't then Hey Hey 64K would have been the overwhelming winner, as it was played ONCE only, at a retro computing show. I decided to go for songs that have been done at least 10 times to get round this, which I think sort of works, but I'm sure an Actual Statistician would want to weight it all somehow for setlist length etc. As I've said before, I'm going to UNLEASH the data soon, and so the aforesaid Actual Statisticians can GO KRAZY then!

With all that said - CRUMBS, what a RUM old list eh? The only way I can even start to explain it is by saying that most of the big hitters are songs I'd usually do with The Validators, and which were played mostly during our POMP when we were selling more CDs in the live environment. GRATE examples of this are Quality Of Life Enhancement Device and Better Things To Do, which were played A LOT during the promotional period for WE VALIDATE! (which is far and away our best selling album on overall sales, by the way) but then were NOT played very much in later years when, SHALL WE SAY, our appeal became more selective.

The clear winner though is I Want To Find Out How It Ends, which was released comparatively recently on Still Valid, so doesn't have the benefit of our POMP years. However, as we can see from its list of gigs played at, it WAS played at several festivals and all-dayers where people hadn't necessarily seen us before, and then WASN'T played by ME at later gigs where people were more SHALL WE SAY in tune with nature than grubby monetarism. Still, it is a REMARKABLE finding, and not at all what I was expecting to discover here!

The bottom of the list mostly features songs from shows, but then right at the VERY bottom is a bit of a surprise - Hibbett's Golden Rules Of Beer with an average of 0.02 units shifted per gig i.e. it has been played at 41 gigs, but only ONE item has EVER been sold at any of them! Now, obviously there are LOADS of other songs that have never been involved in a unit-shifting operation at ALL - Hibbett's Golden Rules Of Beer comes 97th in the chart of sales, and we already know that I've played 267 different songs at shows over these years - but STILL, I thought that song would do better. It WAS part of the Hey Hey16K Fringe show so would suffer from the "the audience has left the building immediately" factor, but it's also been played by The Validators at festivals quite a bit... although, actually, that's been at BEER festivals which, despite being festivals that people go to specifically to GET DRUNK, have never really been great places for sales, almost as if seeing LIVE INDIE ROCK was not people's primary focus there.

I'm sure there's MUCH more to say on this and all other matters, but I think we'll leave that until tomorrow, when I will attempt to answer the burning question: WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN EH? See you then!

posted 20/2/2023 by MJ Hibbett
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Centres Of Commerce
Today we're going to look at the entertainment provision centres where the shifting of units occurred, also known as the ROCKHOLES where I persuaded people to hand over a fiver in exchange for a CD or other merchandising item. For all these tables we're going to be looking at the top 20ish for each category - there were an incredible 135 individual venues where people handed over the readies at some point, which would make for some EXTREMELY long tables if we went through all of them every time!

With that in mind, here's the top 20-ish venues for overall shifting.

Units Shifted Overall By Venue
VenueUnits Shifted
The Midland Railway - Butterley, Derby324
University of Sheffield Students' Union, Sheffield102
Firebug, Leicester65
The Avenue, Manchester34
The Brook Inn, Cleator Moor34
The Portland Arms, Cambridge31
The Adelphi, Hull30
The King & Queen, London21
The Grapes, Sheffield19
Rutland Arms, Sheffield19
The Criterion, Leicester19
The Spitz, London18
The Blue Shell, Cologne18
Bunkers Hill Inn, Nottingham18
The Wilmington Arms, London16
The Captain's Rest, Glasgow15
Carpe Diem, Leeds15
The 12 Bar Club, London15
The Red House, Sheffield13
The Victory, Leicester13
Bull & Gate, London13

Way way WAY out in front here is The Midland Railway because this was where INDIETRACKS used to happen. MAN ALIVE we used to sell a LOT of merch then, it was AMAZING. As discussed yesterday, if you like Actual Proper Indie-style INDIE Music then hasn't always been that easy to track down Physical Merchandise, and so at Indietracks people would often come prepared with HUGE WADS of CA$H to take the opportunity to buy MERCH from the Actual Proper Indie-Style INDIE acts themselves all gathered in one place at the same time. I particularly remember one year The Spanish Contingent rolling into the Merch Tent and buying TONNES of stuff, just because it was their one chance of the year to actually ACCESS it.

I also have blissful memories of one year where we set up a post-gig Validators Production Line to DEAL with all of the SALES ACTIVITY, with me at Front Of House (Captain Peacock), Frankie and Tim (Mr Humphries and Mrs Slocombe) manning the TILLS, and The Tiger (Mr Rumbold) overseeing the accounting. I think I'd been there on my own the year before and witnessed the International Commerce going on first-hand, so DELIGHTED in watching their ASTONISHED faces as we were MOBBED by customers, and then us all very proudly showing the PILES of CA$H to Miss Brahms later when she came back with BOOZE.

A little further down in the table we can see some MOST peculiar entries, with me having to look up The Avenue and The Brook Inn to see where they were. It turned out that these were the sites for two gigs that figure HIGHLY in our Mythos, remembered for what happened rather than the venue name. The first was the venue for Retrovision, a convention we played in 2005 where we got MILLIONS (approx) of Hey Hey 16K t-shirts made especially and sold LOADS of them. Over the years we have had several attempts to branch out into Alternative Merch, and the success of THIS venture was why we spent so much time and money failing to do it again over the next decade or so! The Brook Inn, meanwhile, was the birthplace of The Cleator Moor Validators, as discussed earlier, where everybody (including us) was VERY DRUNK INDEED and thus very willing to purchase PRODUCT!

I should say at this point, that all this capitalistic DELIGHT is not particularly based in joy at financial reward - almost everything we ever released cost WAY more to produce than we ever got back (I don't think ANY Validators album has recouped its recording costs, for instance) - but rather the sheer EXCITEMENT of anybody actually wanting to OWN something we'd done. As anyone who's ever experienced my unique approach to LIVE SALES will know, I tend to be so pleased when somebody WANTS one of my or our CDs that I will immediatlely foist MORE on them for free!

We should consider the possibility that the table above could be SKEWED, in that some venues may simply have ACCRUED a greater yield of sales over time. It might be that I played the same place 15 times and sold a UNIT each time, thus bumping that venue up the tables compared to somewhere I played twice and sold 7 items both times, so let's see what it looks like if instead we look at AVERAGE units sold per gig, by venue.

Average Units Shifted By Venue
VenueOverall UnitsGigsAverage per gig
The Avenue, Manchester34134
The Midland Railway - Butterley, Derby3241129.45
The Spitz, London18118
The Blue Shell, Cologn18118
The Brook Inn, Cleator Moor34217
The Red House, Sheffield13113
Green Man Festival, Brecon Beacons11111
Portland Works, Sheffield10110
Bunkers Hill Inn, Nottingham1829
Beatnik, Manchester919
Marie-Antoinette, Berlin919
The Vandella, London919
NOTE that this is showing the sales divided by the number of gigs done since 2003, rather than gigs overall, as that's when the data begins.

Looking at averages like this MASSIVELY favours the one-off gigs we've done, with another Retro Computing convention (and more Hey Hey 16K t-shirts!) at The Spitz, two trips ABROAD (where we were taking the RARE MERCH to Europe, rather than Europe coming to us at Indietracks) and sets at various Festivals and All-Dayers where a) you tend to get people who haven't seen you before and so don't already have everything and b) you tend to get people who are more DRUNK than usual, having been there all day, and so are much more likely to think "What I most want in the world is 17 Hibbett CDs for the price of 2 and, if possible, 28 free badges". With that in mind, let's FILTER this slightly and look instead at the same data but ONLY for places where I've played three or more times.

Average Units Shifted By Venues Visted 3+ Times
VenueOverall UnitsGigsAverage per gig
The Midland Railway - Butterley, Derby3241129.45
University of Sheffield Students' Union, Sheffield102156.8
The Grapes, Sheffield1936.33
The Portland Arms, Cambridge3165.17
The Adelphi, Hull3065
Rutland Arms, Sheffield1944.75
Firebug, Leicester65154.33
Carpe Diem, Leeds1553
Bull & Gate, London1352.6
The 12 Bar Club, London1562.5
The Wilmington Arms, London1682

There we go then, Indietracks is far and away the WINNER for this sort of thing - it really was a BEAUTIFUL place, even aside from the mounds of sweaty notes shoved our way! Second though is University of Sheffield Students' Union, where I played MANY times for Fuzztival, thanks to the very wonderful Ms P Blackham who kept on booking me, and indeed has continued to do so for other all-dayers ever since!

My FAVOURITE memory of those days in Sheffield is the time I played in the smaller hall to a LARGE audience, after which TV And Radio's Steve Lamacq came over to say hello and was SHOVED BODILY to one side by a group of women who wanted to buy CDs. He was very nice about it, and so were they! The loveliest thing of all about those gigs though was that YEARS LATER I still get people turning up at gigs who say they first saw me there, and bought a CD - there were some people at GIG ONE THOUSAND the other week, for instance, who told me they were still listening to the copy of This Is Not A Library they bought then.

I'm surprised to see The Portland Arms doing so well here, as I've never really though of that as a particularly SALES HEAVY place, and the same goes for Firebug and Carpe Diem. That, I guess, is the great advantage of looking at a massive pile of DATA this way, as it gives the FACTS rather than basing it on very vague memories of long ago. When I wrap this up next week I'm going to try and identify an IDEAL GIG based on all of this, so I can try and do it AGANE!

We'll also have a look at all of this by CITIES. As you can see above, there seems to be a whole lot of Sheffield and London in this list, but is that a true reflection of what actually happened? Were there, for instances, other cities where I sold loads of stuff but did so across a wider range of venues? We'll find out - NEXT TIME!

posted 17/2/2023 by MJ Hibbett
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Shifting Units
As promised, today we're going to look at some SALES figures. Well, I say "say figures" but I'm not going to be so UNFORGIVABLY VULGAR as to discuss actual CA$H amounts, I'm going to be talking about how many UNITS were sold.

This is partly to bypass any problems to do with INFLATION (which you may have seen mentioned on The News lately) skewing the figures, but mostly it's because it would seem a bit WEIRD to be discussing such things in a public forum. This is more to do with INNATE BRITISHNESS than anything to do with TAX AVOIDANCE or similar - 25% of Pretty Much Sod All works out as roughly Almost Nothing - although I did spent years and years PANICKING about what would happen if THE TAXMAN started to take an interest in my GIG SALES and I got a) told off b) FINED. IN the end I WROTE to them to explain what I'd made from gig sales and so forth to see if they wanted me to send them any money and they wrote back to say that, with the amount I was bringing in (and SPENDING) it was all FINE. I like to imagine someone in the tax office LARFING OPENLY at my puny worries, I do hope it brought them some light relief in their labours!

As part of this ONGOING FEAR I've kept records of my ROCK incomings (and much greater ROCK outgoings) since 2003, and the DREAD has meant that I've kept it pretty accurately. However, I don't think anyone is particularly interested in how many times I stayed at The Ibis in my rocking career (despite the fact that I seem to be CONVINCED people are FASCINATED by how many times I played each song) so this is going to just look at GIG SALES i.e. how many UNITS (CDs, badges, tapes, t-shirts etc) I sold at each gig.

The finance data was recorded by DATE rather than gig, so there was a little bit of cleaning needed to make it all match up. The main issue was where I did two gigs on the same day, but that turned out to be pretty easy to solve by linking sales to the LAST gig of the day, which was always the one where the sales occurred. With that done I was able to generate a whole heap of GRAPHS, the first of which shows how many units were sold per year.

Items Sold By Year

Isn't that a lovely bit of GRAPH? The ups and downs generally relate to dates of album releases, with a clear rise in sales up to 2006, which is when WE VALIDATE! came out, a gentle bump back up for Regardez, Ecoutez Et Repetez in 2009, and then something similar around 2016/17 for Still Valid. However, there's a mighty great leap in 2014 when I didn't release ANY physical product at all. Could this somehow be linked to the NUMBER of gigs I/we did during this time? To find out I've done ANOTHER lovely graph, this time looking at the AVERAGE number of units sold per gig:

Average Items Per Gig, By Year

If anything this makes the peak in 2014 even MORE pronounced, while also making the 2016/17 Still Valid-era sales figures match up, per gig, much more to the ealier years. This surprises me, to be honest, as I thought there'd been a gentle tailing off of Live Sales over the years, but it seems not to be the case, at least not at that point. There clearly IS a massive drop off in sales in recent years, but that's mostly because the gigs I've done have been VIRTUAL ones, and you can't wander round hassling drunken people into buying stuff so easily at those!

Still, I did expect the number to go down as time went buy purely because of the changes in the ways that it's been POSSIBLE to buy stuff. At the start of the century it wasn't easy to track down music by Properly Independent Types like what I am - you could go to independent record shops, but even THOSE didn't sell music by PROPER indie people (mostly because they didn't answer the EMAILS that proper indie people sent them - not that I am still annoyed about it OBVS). Getting a distribution deal was a RIGHT hassle and also a bit of a rip-off for those of us with more BOUTIQUE sales figues, and even if you COULD get distributors to carry your music it didn't mean shops would actually STOCK it, so for people like me it was either selling stuff online with PayPal (which lots of people didn't like) OR trying to flog it at gigs.

This wasn't really a problem though, as I used to love selling stuff at gigs! I have very fond memories from my heyday of a) gigging b) selling, when I'd wake up the morning after a gig and go through my trouser pockets digging out SWEATY BANK NOTES, all folded up and drunkenly shoved in the night before. I used to put money from SALES in one pocket and any money for PERFORMING in the other, and then have to work out which was which and how much of it I'd then spent on BEER!

However, none of this CHARMING NOSTALGIA is getting us any closer to seeing what's really going on in these graphs, so tomorrow we'll have a look at WHERE the sales happened, and who WITH!

posted 16/2/2023 by MJ Hibbett
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Years And Years
Today we're going to finish up the examination of SETLISTS by seeing which songs have lasted longest, and which have come and gone. I'm not going to complicate things (or at least not complicate them any further) by splitting it up into types of gig or anything like that, so the figures in the table below are for gigs overall, showing the first and last year calendar year that each song was played in, and then in how many individual calendar years it appeared.

Songs played by Calendar Years
SongFirst YearLast YearYears Played
Easily Impressed2005202319
Hey Hey 16K2005202319
Billy Jones Is Dead2005202318
It Only Works Because You're here2006202318
My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once2006202317
The Lesson Of The Smiths2005202317
The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)2005202317
Boom Shake The Room2005202215
Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid2007202314
Clubbing In The Week2005202213
We Did It Anyway2011202313
Do The Indie Kid2007201912
I Come From The Fens2005201912
Payday Is The Best Day2005201912
The Perfect Love Song2005202312
Leave My Brother Alone2005201811
Mental Judo2005202011
I Did A Gig In New York2007202010
The Advent Calendar Of FACT2006201610
The Gay Train2005201410
To explain what's going on here, this shows that Easily Impressed, Hey Hey 16K and Billy Jones Is Dead were all first played in 2005 and last played in 2023, with the first two being played at least once in every single year between, while Billy Jones Is Dead missed out by NOT being played in one year (2020, when I was mostly doing very short internet gigs). OBVS that isn't quite the whole story, as I started playing all of those songs live long before that, but the setlists only go back to 2005 so that's where we're starting.

The chart is ranked by number of calendar years played in, which means that nothing first performed after 2014 has any chance of getting in, even if it was played EVERY year since then. Even with this knowledge we can still see a heavy bias towards songs first performed in 2007 or earlier - the only song first performed AFTER that is We Did It Anyway, which got into solo, Validators AND Steve sets and stuck there!

Most of these songs make it through to 2023, largely because GIG ONE THOUSAND was deliberately worked out to feature the songs I or we have played the most often. It's only towards the bottom of the list that we can see songs that started to fall out of favour over the years, notably The Gay Train. We used to do this one ALL the time, but about a decade ago I began to see that some of its POLITICS might not be sufficiently up to date - these days saying "straight OR gay" is a bit of a simplistic way of looking at things and rather than a) risk upsetting people who might think I was ERASING whole chunks of THE SEXUAL SPECTRUM or b) risk being seen as "endearingly politically incorrect" (or "a tosspot" as it is also known) or c) putting up SONG SCAFFOLDING and doing some sort of re-write, I thought I would d) give the setlist space to some of my other MEGA HITS instead. Few enough people come to my gigs as it is without annoying those who do!

Having said that, when I get around to embarking on my career performing 8-bit interpretations of classive love songs, THE SEXUAL SPECTRUM is the name I'll be using.

Meanwhile, right at the far end of the unexpurgated list there were a whopping ONE HUNDRED AND ONE songs that only ever got performed in a single calendar year, most of which were one-off covers or songs that I gave a couple of goes to before consigning them to the "Even More Obscure Than The Rest Of The Songs" cupboard.

The biggest gap between years was for Rock & Roll Mayhem, which I wrote on tour with Pete Green in 2004 and then did a few times in 2005 before retiring it completely until 2019, when I revived it for a new version whilst on tour with Matt Tiller.

There were 59 songs altogether that were played in at least five calendar years, and 58 that had ten or more years between their first and last play, which I think shows a determination to stick with songs once I or we have learnt them! To be honest I'm surprised that there's that many of them - I always feel as if I'm playing the same setlist and keep having DRIVES to Shake It Up A Bit and bring back some old songs. Maybe I AM doing that, but it turns out I keep on going back to the same SONG POOL to do so!

Whatever we look at, however, things are a bit skewed because I have been ROCKING for so long, which gives the older songs much more of a chance to get played at least once a year, especially for one such as I who is dedicated to the playing THE HITS whenever he can. THUS let's finish for today with a look at the same list but ONLY for songs that started being played in the last ten years.

Songs From The Last 10 Years
SongFirstLastYears Played
20 Things To Do Before You're 30201320229
(You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock201320238
Can We Be Friends?201420227
In The North Stand201420216
People Are All Right (if they are given half a chance)201720236
I Want To Find Out How It Ends201320175
Hibbett's Golden Rules Of Beer201420205
That Guy201420195
The 1980s How It Was201420174
Cheer Up Love201620194
Have A Drink With Us (Drink Doch Eine Met)201820224
Bad Back201920234
I Think I Did OK202020234
I'm So Much Cleverer Than You201320233
Burn It Down And Start Again201420173
Thank Goodness For Christmas201420213
It's Hard To Be Hopeful201920223

Altogether there were 67 songs that I'd started playing since 2013, with 29 only played within a single year. I'm not surprised to see 20 Things To Do Before You're 30 at the top of the list, as that's one I've played in ALL configurations as it is a BANGER, but I AM surprised to see (You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock just behind it - I love it very much as a song, but for some reason I always think "Oh I haven't done this one for AGES, I must bring it back into the set!"

It's interesting (NB usual terms and conditions affixed to the word "interesting" apply here) to see the songs that USED to be mainstays but then fell away. We used to play I Want To Find Out How It Ends in band gigs all the time, for instance, but I stopped wanting to play it because the twit who WROTE it forgot to leave any gaps between the verses and choruses for BREATHING! The 1980s How It Was was one of the songs from the SHOWS that ended up on Still Valid and so got played in Steve shows AND Vlads gigs, but then I stopped doing it in solo gigs because I kept getting confused about which order the verses went in. This happens to me A LOT - songs with a story tend to be MUCH easier to remember than LIST songs like this - 20 Things To Do Before You're 30 only overcame this problem because I had THE WORDS sellotaped to the top of my guitar for most of the past decade!

I'm also quite pleased to find that THREE (3) songs from The Unearthly Beauty Of MJ Hibbett have ALSO made it into this list. I've been thinking a bit about that album just recently, especially since I released the VIDEO for I Think I Did OK. Since releasing it I've seen the album as a JOB to do, with sorting out the USB sticks, doing the press, making the videos, booking gigs etc etc etc, and have pretty much FORGOTTEN that it's actually an ARTISTIC STATEMENT containing ACTUAL SONGS. I was thus taken by surprise recently when a few people said how much they identified with I Think I Did OK, reminding me that it was a SONG not just an item on a ticklist of Jobs To Do. I'm rather looking forward to getting out and doing some GIGS again later this year so I can be reminded of that some more!

Before that glorious day, however, we still have some more STATS to get through. Tomorrow I'm going to dig into the murky world of HIGH FINANCE and UNIT SHIFTING as we start looking at SALES FIGURES - see you then!

posted 15/2/2023 by MJ Hibbett
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When Data Visualisations ROCK OUT
After yesterday's unleashment of NEW MUSICAL CONTENT it's back to the STATS today, looking at what was going on in the different types of line-up I've been involved in across my ONE THOUSAND GIGS . As ever with setlist-related analysis this is only going back as far as 2005 due to data availability, which means that the types of sets will mainly be ones where I played solo, with Steve , or with The Validators.

First up is a look at which songs were most popular with which line-up:

Rankings For Songs By Gig Type
The Lesson Of The Smiths111=0
The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)32260
It Only Works Because You're here231210
Boom Shake The Room643654
Easily Impressed451=66
Hey Hey 16K56422
My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once777=0
The Gay Train887=67
Do The Indie Kid995=0
I Did A Gig In New York1510430
Billy Jones Is Dead101130
Theme From Dinosaur Planet1112182
Clubbing In The Week17=13370
Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid13145=56
20 Things To Do Before You're 301415133
(You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock19171559
A Little Bit16203524
We Did It Anyway1224141
I Come From The Fens20266729
Don't, Darren, Don't17=282431

As you can hopefully see, the table is ordered by each songs ranking for my SOLO gigs, because this was pretty much the same as the ranking for gigs overall. Validators gigs, however, have some whopping great discrepancies right from the start, with songs like The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B), Boom Shake The Room and I Did A Gig In New York much much less likely to be played with the band than they were overall.

You can also see how different the Steve gigs were, with the top two songs overall NEVER beimg played by us. Looking through that list now I wonder if there's a whole other show we could have done, hoovering up the songs that I play often but which we've never HARVESTED for shows. A former scout who is now a line manager goes to New York, dances in a disco (during the week), and discovers that he actually really does like Take That? And has a friend called Billy Jones?

Crikey, I started that sentence for a joke but I appear to have ended it with a SOLID GOLD idea that is due on Broadway this time next year! Book me a place on the QE2 and tell Lin Manuel Miranda to pack his bags!

While we're firing up the fax machine for Cameron Mackintosh, I should also highlight a FASCINATING FACT - there are NO songs that I've done with The Validators and/or Steve that I haven't ALSO done solo! According to the STATS every single one has been tried out in the SOLO ARENA at some point, which I think demonstrates due diligence on my part!

The Tony Awards have yet to call, so let's consider whether the fact that I've done ALL these songs in solo sets is somehow to do with the LENGTH of solo sets - after all, if I played for longer on my own, then you'd expect I'd need to play more different songs and so cover more ground. Let's see!

Average Set Lengths By Gig Type
20059.462 - 1710.107 - 16--
20068.893 - 189.753 - 14--
20078.561 - 168.447 - 10--
20087.591 - 158.707 - 12--
20099.381 - 1610.539 - 14--
20108.791 - 2010.6610 - 1118.803-23
20115.761 - 1112.0010 - 1314.153-20
20126.751 - 199.577 - 1313.455-20
20135.451 - 167.002 - 1013.711-17
20147.503 - 119.007 - 1214.0014-14
20155.722 - 109.009 - 916.511-17
20165.652 - 159.668 - 1117.0017-17
20175.001 - 129.339 - 1010.2010-11
20187.335 - 99.606 - 15--
20198.883 - 1311.0010 - 12--
20201.131 - 21.001 - 1--
20218.001 - 1210.0010 - 10--
20228.001 - 1310.0010 - 10--

Well, this appears to demonstrate that no, that is not the case at all. Solo gigs have almost always been shorter than Validators gigs, except in 2006 (when it looks like I did some extra-long solo shows) and 2020 (when the only gigs were internet shows of restricted length). You can also see that the RANGE was smaller for Validators gigs - solo sets differed in length much more, with lots of one-song sets (often these would be for radio shows) while The Validators tended to do more full-length Actual Gigs.

We can see all of this a bit more clearly on this here GRAPH:

Set Lengths Over Time

Here we can see that the shows with Steve have ALWAYS been longer than any other, which is fair enough because they were designed to fit into a FRINGE HOUR (which is about 50 minutes long), and would be pretty consistent because we tended to do long runs of the same show. I say "tended" because a) DARLING it is a new show every day for GRATE ACTORS like what we is and b) we did also do those shorter sets every now and again to promote the main ones.

Validators sets are then ALMOST always longer than solo ones, partly for the reasons stated above, but also because BAND gigs would involve approx four times as much Getting Everybody Together as solo ones, and so we'd generally want to do a bit longer to make it worthwhile. Also, my solo gigs rarely (though OCCASIONALLY) have a prologue featuring Tim saying "NO let's do MORE SONGS!" when the setlist gets written!

The graph also shows that there's a very gentle DOWNWARD trend in the number of songs per set. I've tried to work out why this is, and I THINK it's to do with number of gigs played, at least in part. If we go back a few days and look at Gigs Per Year and then OVERLAY that graph with this one (placing the songs per show on the left axis and gigs played on the right) then we might just be able to see what's going on:

Set Lengths Over Time/Gigs By Year

I THINK (but only THINK) it shows that there IS some relationship between the length of set and the number of gigs played. Generally, though by no means always, the more gigs that get played then the longer the set is. Does that seem right? It wobbles about a bit, and I think an ACTUAL STATISTICIAN might be able to pick it apart properly (HENCE I'm going to unleash all this data Open Access soon so they can have a go if they want), but that's what I'm going for. As to why that is, partly I guess it's because when me and Steve start to do shows together then that adds a LOT of gigs per year while simultaneously bumping up the number of songs played, and similarly more Vlads gigs means longer setlists too. To be honest I expected it to show that me doing more gigs meant I couldn't be bothered to play as many songs at each of them, but clearly not!

And on that epic use of DATA VISUALISATION we'll call it a day for today. Come back tomorrow for an INTRIGUING look at the individual songs over time!

posted 14/2/2023 by MJ Hibbett
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The House On The Borderland
Today I'm UNLEASHING the latest video from the ongoing Project called Project Do A Video For Every Song On The Album (or PDAVFESOTA, for those in a hurry). It's for the track The House On The Borderland and it looks very much like THIS:

The song's about the comic shop in Peterborough that I used to visit every week as a teenager. Initially it was a market stall, then it moved to Gladstone Street, then Cromwell Road (the two locations that I mostly went to) before settling in for many years just round the corner from John Lewis, down a dank alleyway, beneath a tattoo shop. It closed down many years ago, but if you go and peer down the alleyway, as I did a few months ago, you can still see what's left of the sign.

An old sign down a smelly alley is not really sufficient tribute to somewhere that changed my, and many other people's lives. It wasn't just a comic shop, it sold books and records and other paraphenalia that seemed to come from an entirely different world than the very very straight-laced and defiantly dull Peterborough of the 1970s and 1980s. There may have been excitement and glamour somewhere in my old home town, but I certainly didn't see it at the time! HENCE I thought I'd have a go at writing a song that expressed MY gratitude to the place, and all the other places like it that never seem to get talked about anymore.

To do this I decided to do an ANIMATION, and GOOD LORD but it took a long time. Much of this is my own silly fault - as you can see, there are a LOT of redrawn covers of comics from the ERA, which I really REALLY got into drawing. I'm particularly pleased with the "Love & Rockets" one, but I reckon they're all rather nice, and are all (I think) comics that I owned at the time.

As ever, I hope you enjoy the above, and any shares, tweets, Whatever You Call It On Mastodons and so forth are always appreciated!

posted 13/2/2023 by MJ Hibbett
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What Kind Of KRAZY ROCK SHOWS Are We Talking About Here?
Yesterday we looked at the songs played overall, so today we're going to look at how that varied in different TYPES of gigs. By TYPES I mean what configuration I was playing in e.g. solo, with Steve etc etc. Here's a TABLE to show the varieties available:

Types Of Gigs By Number Gigs Played
Type Of GigNumber Of Gigs
Hibbett & Hewitt163
The Validators132
The Council19
Mark & Simon14
The Masters Of Nothing5

The category "Other" here refers to various odds and sods including several of the various other bands I've played in over the years. "Mark & Simon" was the (VERY IMAGINATIVE) name of the double act I did with my friend Mr S Wilkinson in the early 1990s - we hosted a student comedy club called "The Casbah" (GRATE name!) and went on to do a couple of other gigs which were, not to put too fine a point on it, very clear signs that we should perhaps keep our activities to our own club!

Other than that we can see that the majority of ALL my gigs have been solo ones, followed by the Steve shows and The Validators, and then the historical BANDS that have been discussed before. This, however, is an ALL-TIME list of gigs, but if we want to delve into the songs PLAYED at those gigs we need to only look at shows from 2005 onwards, as that's when we've got the setlists.

Types Of Gigs By Gigs Played From 2005 Onwards
Type Of GigNumber Of Gigs
Hibbett & Hewitt163

COR, that's a rather dramatic SHIFT in type isn't it? Interestingly (NB I keep saying "interestingly" - to avoid confusion what I mean here of course is "interestingly for people who like FASCINATING THINGS") the vast majority of my solo gigs occur during this period - 82% of them, in fact - indicating that my early days in ROCK pre-2005 were very much more likely to be cocooned within the comforting warmth of BANDS. In the past couple of decades, however, I have STRUCK OUT solo much more often, and have also PARED DOWN the type of act I am liable to cavort with. But what was I PLAYING in these solo gigs? Here's the FACTS!

Songs Played At Solo Gigs, By Number Of Gigs
1The Lesson Of The Smiths267
2The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group ...242
3It Only Works Because You're here197
4Boom Shake The Room174
5Easily Impressed154
6Hey Hey 16K116
7My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once111
8The Gay Train99
9Do The Indie Kid97
10I Did A Gig In New York81
11Billy Jones Is Dead78
12Theme From Dinosaur Planet70
13Clubbing In The Week66
14Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid61
1520 Things To Do Before You're 3061
16Totally Acoustic49
17(You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock45
18Fucking Hippy40
19Red and White Sockets40
20A Little Bit40
21The Perfect Love Song34
22That Guy34
23The Fight For History33
24We Did It Anyway32
25Sod It, Let's Get Pissed31
26I Come From The Fens30
27Never Going Back To Aldi's30
28Don't, Darren, Don't29
29The Theory Of A Dinosaur Planet24
30In The North Stand24

I've done the top THIRTY here because, to be honest, the top TEN isn't particularly interesting, as it's pretty much the same as in the OVERALL list we looked at yesterday. However, once we get past them things get VERY interesting with a whole bunch of songs from different periods of my ROCK life. For instance, Fucking Hippy and Red and White Sockets are songs I used to play ALL the time, but haven't done live since 2011 and 2017 respectively. That Guy and The Fight For History are similar former BANKERS that don't get out much anymore, and I was AMAZED to see Sod It, Let's Get Pissed got played 31 times. This seemed unbelievable, until I remembered that it was part of My Exciting Life In ROCK, so got done a LOT when that show was on the go. Similarly, just below the top 30, all the songs from the solo version of Dinosaur Planet start to pop up.

Talking of shows, I was going to do a similar list for songs done with Steve... but that just brought up a huge pile of songs played around 40 times, as the setlist for each show was pretty much the same every time! The only big difference was that We Did It Anyway got played twice as often as everything else because it was in two different shows. We liked it!

So instead, for today's final table, let's see what I was playing with The Validators, with a more traditional TOP TWENTY.

Songs Played With The Validators, By Number Of Gigs
1=Easily Impressed88
1=The Lesson Of The Smiths88
3Billy Jones Is Dead58
4Hey Hey 16K55
5=Do The Indie Kid53
5=Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid53
7The Gay Train47
7=My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once47
9Better Things To Do26
10=Leave My Brother Alone25
10=Quality Of Life Enhancement Device25
12It Only Works Because You're here22
1320 Things To Do Before You're 3021
14=We Did It Anyway20
14=(You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock20
16The Fight For History19
17Things'll Be Different When I'm In Charge16
18=Theme From Dinosaur Planet15
18=Can We Be Friends?15
20=Never Going Back To Aldi's11
20=Tell Me Something You Do Like11
20=Please Don't Eat Us11

This one takes a little while to get FUNKY too, with the only real surprise for me being the appearance of Quality Of Life Enhancement Device at number 10. Did we really play it that often? I guess so - STATS don't lie! Shortly after that it's very pleasing to see It Only Works Because You're here creeping up the Validator charts as it took me AGES to persuade them to do it!

Right at the bottom there's Please Don't Eat Us, which I seem to recall we did quite a lot because Tim liked it. Never underestimate The Power Of TIM in Validators setlist-making, for he is usually WIELDER OF THE PEN and also EXPERT at Looking Sad if we don't at least have a couple of goes at new songs. This is partly why we have done SO MANY different songs - 104 altogether over this timeframe, but with only 35 of them being played more than five times and, amazingly, exactly half of ALL songs we've ever played (62) only being played once. I must make a mental note of this STAT to quote back to him next time we have a setlist meeting - if it was up to me we would probably have been playing EXACTLY the same Validators set for the past five years!

There's be more of this sort of thing next week, with some RANKING comparisons, a look at how MANY songs get played in various line-ups, and if time allows maybe even some SALES figures. Before that, however, I'll have a whole new VIDEO to show you - see you for that on Monday!

posted 10/2/2023 by MJ Hibbett
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The Songs What Were Sung
Now all one thousand gigs have been DONE we can start looking at what songers were actually played... or at least we can in SOME of them. For LO! as the first table today demonstrates, the amount of completed setlists is somewhat patchy to say the least.

Setlists per year

As we can see, there's huge gaps and entire years where I don't have any record of setlists at all, until we get to 89.36% completed in 2005 and then close to full completion after that. The reasons for the sparcity of setlists in the first couple of decades is easy to explain - obviously there WERE setlists but I didn't have a proper system for recording them until around 2005 (or possibly 2006). I do recall that when I DID set up a system - The Database Of ROCK - I spent AGES going back through old blogs trying to find occasions when I HAD listed the songs, and then also delving back into other records like old diaries and so on.

One particularly FRUITFUL avenue of archival setlist discovery has been TAPES. Back in the last century I LOVED recording gigs, and still have a box FULL of live recordings, most of which have the list of songs written out in BIRO on the side, and over the years I've dug these up and entered the details into The Database Of ROCK. The earliest one of those was a tape I made of The Masters Of Nothing's one and only professional gig, at The Gaslight Club in Peterborough on my 18th Birthday - yes, I became a ROCK PROFESSIONAL on the same day as I became an ADULT! As I recall we got paid in ACTUAL CA$H that night too, it was brillo!

Elsewhere I've relied on MEMORY (I know what song we played on my first ever gig, for instance) or odd diaries and notebooks, but that means there's no real consistency until the data suddenly picks up consistency in 2005, so for the purposes of the next few blogs I'm only going to look at setlists from that year onwards. It's a shame, as I'd love to know how often Voon played She's A Spaceman, for instance, or how often we did Boom Shake The Room when it was a Recent Hit, but there's not a lot I can do about that BARRING the invention of time travel!

So, pending the intervention of THE DOCTOR, let's have a look at the Top 25 (ish) songs I've EVER (since 2005) played live!

Songs By Number Of Gigs
1The Lesson Of The Smiths363
2It Only Works Because You're here258
3The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)256
4Easily Impressed249
5Hey Hey 16K213
6Boom Shake The Room189
7My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once159
8The Gay Train152
9Do The Indie Kid151
10Billy Jones Is Dead142
11Theme From Dinosaur Planet125
12We Did It Anyway124
13Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid122
1420 Things To Do Before You're 30121
15I Did A Gig In New York85
16A Little Bit81
17=Clubbing In The Week74
18=Don't, Darren, Don't74
19(You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock70
20I Come From The Fens66
21We Are The Giant Robots64
22The Theory Of A Dinosaur Planet60
23Dinosaurs Talk Like Pirates58
24=The Battle Of Peterborough57
24=Please Don't Eat Us57
24=Strangely Attractive57

No great surprise for the winner here - apart from a gap a few years ago I have played The Lesson Of The Smiths at almost every chance I've had, because a) it is GRATE and b) it pretty much ALWAYS goes down well. I first played it back in 2003 too, so it's had the full run of the study period to climb up to the top of the chart.

Similarly, I've played It Only Works Because You're here whenever I could too, as it is my FAVOURITE, hence it's been in TWO of mine and Steve's shows and in recent years I've even managed to get it into The Validators' live sets as well. By contrast The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B) hasn't made the LEAP into regular Validation or MUSICALS so is slightly lower down, despite being played in nearly EVERY solo gig I've done within this timeframe.

My first attempt to produce this table was slightly SKEWED by the aforesaid Musicals. I realised this when I saw that I Wish That I Was Normal was in my Top 20 most played songs. I was sure I'd never played it LIVE outside of performances of Hey Hey 16K: THE MUSICAL and on closer investigation it turned out that it was listed FOUR TIMES for each show due to REPISES. For this reason I re-did the MATH so it only counted how many gigs each song had appeared in, rather than how many times it had been played.

Towards the end of this list we can see that a whole bunch of Dinosaur Planet songs barge their way in, differentiated from each other by how many times EITHER I've tried them out in normal gigs OR Steve and I did them as part of our Comedy Show Attempts. This process continues with other shows, as songs get bunched together, and then there's a long long list of other songs - altogether, since 2005, I've played a grand total of 267 different songs in the LIVE ARENA, with 81 of them only being played once! I must admit I'm quite impressed with that STAT - I constantly worry that I'm just going and playing the same songs at every gig, but clearly I'm not!

It's noticeable that after 20 Things To Do Before You're 30 there's a sudden drop in number of gigs, from 121 for that song down to 85 for I Did A Gig In New York. I'm not sure what's going on there - the numbers go down at quite a steady rate up until that point, and then do so again afterwards, but it does at least give me a nice easy batch of 14 songs to use for today's final table - the top songs in order!

Songs Played Over 100 Times By Average Place In Setlist
SongAverage place in setlist
The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)2.4669
The Gay Train3.7434
My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once4.0692
It Only Works Because You're here6.0775
Billy Jones Is Dead6.2800
Do The Indie Kid6.4570
Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid6.6475
Theme From Dinosaur Planet7.0936
Hey Hey 16K7.6367
The Lesson Of The Smiths7.7342
20 Things To Do Before You're 307.9504
Easily Impressed8.9416
Boom Shake The Room8.9897
We Did It Anyway12.0726

It's a statistically verifiable UBERSET! This looks pretty much exactly how I'd expect it to - The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B) is first because I almost always start with the one in my solo sets, and similarly we spent a long time kicking off Validators gigs with The Gay Train, while the final six songs are what I'd expect too, as I tend to put THE HIT at the start of the FINAL ACT, and for many many years every setlist would have "Smiths/Easily/BOOM" written at the end. In recent times however we've finished Validators sets with We Did It Anyway too, hence it's placing right at the end.

There are CAVEATS to all this of course, notably the fact that sets will vary greatly in length, so a song that finishes shorter sets may not have quite such a high average as one that comes in the middle of longer onea. This partly explains why Boom Shake The Room is the penultimate song in this list, despite INVARIABLY getting played as a final song or encore. It very rarely gets played at Validator gigs, however, so it's average place of 8.89 is lower than for We Did It Anyway, which is more likely to appear in (usually longer) Validators sets.

"But are Validators sets REALLY longer than solo ones?" you may ask. The answer to that question, and MANY MANY MORE will be heading your way tomorrow. Stat tuned, STATS FANS!

posted 9/2/2023 by MJ Hibbett
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The Hewitt Variations
The physical in-person fun of GIG ONE THOUSAND may be in the past, but the ongoing THRILLFEST of STATS is very much continuing! Today we're looking at the gigs I have done with Steve, kicking off with a big list of the top venues that we performed our various SHOWS in over the years.

Gigs Played With Steve, By Venue
The Dram House Upstairs , Edinburgh25
Buffs Club (R.A.O.B.), Edinburgh16
Sneaky Pete's, Edinburgh15
The Criterion, Leicester11
Camden Comedy Club, London11
The King & Queen, London9
The Green Dragon, London8
The Lexington, London8
The Lamb, London4
Ray's Mum's Back Garden, Stourbridge3
Fox & Firkin, London3
Gwdihw, Cardiff3

The top three venues are all places we played at for The Edinburgh Fringe, with The Dram House Upstairs at number one because we did TWO shows there - the two-man version of Dinosaur Planet in 2010 and then back for Total Hero Team in 2013. The Fringe was in a time of TUMULT and CHANGE around then, so the first time we did it was with The Five Pound Fringe, but when we returned the venue had changed hands, changed layout, changed name, and was being run by The PBH Free Fringe. The only thing that stayed the same was the chords I was able to play!

We only did one year at The Buffs Club, performing Moon Horse in 2011, but we also did various other shows there the same week, including a couple of Totally Acoustics and shows for Robin Ince (who was running about 17 shows a DAY that year). That means it just edges out Sneaky Pete's, where we did a LONGER run of shows for Hey Hey 16K in 2015 but didn't do ANY extra ones.

One point of confusion while doing this analysis was a recurring thought that said "Hang on, we played at The Medina for two years in a row too, why isn't that in the list?" but of course that was doing My Exciting Life In ROCK and the first version of Dinosaur Planet, both of which were SOLO shows. If you look at the list of ALL Steve's gigs with me you'll see that the very first one is the final night at The Medina, when he came on and danced the Dinosaur Hornpipe, after which NOTHING WOULD BE THE SAME AGANE!

SIDEBAR: Steve had CO-PRODUCED both of those first two shows and came with me to every single one of them, but for these purposes I'm only counting actual ONSTAGE collaborations.

Next on the list are two places where we ALSO regularly did shows, at the Leicester and Camden Fringes respectively. This list is, in fact, pretty much DOMINATED by Fringes, so perhaps it'd be better to have a look at where we played by CITY instead. Let's do that!

Gigs With Steve By City

This clarifies things a bit - Edinburgh, London and Leicester are still there a LOT, but look how many times we played Cambridge, Northampton and Buxton! Buxton was another Fringe festival, but Cambridge and Buxton were regular places for TOURING put on by lovely PALS. Reading, Brighton, Manchester and York were ALSO visited for various festivals, and we see Stourbridge there as the host city of HIBBETTFEST of course. It's still all very FRINGEY really isn't it? We can see that even more clearly if we look at the next table, showing the MONTHS these gigs happened in.

Gigs With Steve By Month

The Leicester Fringe is in February, Edinburgh and Camden Fringes are in August, and lots of the others are in July, which explains a LOT about how these numbers come together. It also probably explains the otherwise ALARMING statistic suggesting we have never ever done a gig in September - by that point we were due a well-earned break!

I was rather surprised to see we have only done one gig together in December, but I suppose the world of ROCK gets taken over by Christmas gigs around then. I was also midly perplexed by the uptick in shows in November, but on closer investigation it turns out that we did our post-Edinburgh TOURS during that month in 2010 and 2011. We were keen to get back on the road, clearly!

Next let's have a look at my Steve-enhanced activities by YEAR.

Gigs With Steve By Year

Apart from a couple odd spots of Just Doing A Gig (including GIG ONE THOUSAND there at the end) this basically SHOWS THE SHOWS, with the duo version of Dinosaur Planet starting in 2010, followed by Moon Horse in 2011 and into early 2012. We then had a year off when Steve was THE STAR of the Olympics, came back for Total Hero Team in 2013, Hey Hey 16K in 2015 and then Still Valid in 2017. It's not QUITE as clear cut as that - we did all sorts of RUM comedy gigs, for instance, and there was the time were REVIVED Dinosaur Planet for The Green Man Festival in 2012 (which I'd pretty much forgotten we'd done until doing this analysis!) - so let's look instead at gigs by SHOWS, as follows:

Gigs With Steve By Show
My Exciting Life In ROCK1
Dinosaur Planet41
Moon Horse34
Total Hero Team41
Hey Hey 16K37
Still Valid5

The occurrence of Steve in My Exciting Life In ROCK is the time he got on stage with me and demonstrated how to do The Indie Kid! The other shows are all around the same number of performances, interestingly, which taken alongside the repeated venues earlier indicates that we got ourselves into a nice little GROOVE of doing previews, then festivals, and the a TOUR. That's how I remember it happening, so it's nice to see that THE STATS agree!

Two small surprises for me here - firstly, I'd forgotten that we'd done Still Valid so many times. To be honest, the whole point of that show was to give us an excuse to play the Leicester Comedy Festival, but it seems we did put some effort into getting it properly WORKED UP - well done us! The second was to see that there were ten gigs which WERE NOT part of the runs of shows. I was aware that over the years we'd done a couple of gigs like these, but not that many. As far as I remember, doing bits of our shows out of context is more PERPLEXING for audiences than anything else, although as demonstrated in the VIDEOS yesterday, a crowd willing to go for it very much WILL!

That's all for Steve-based STATS for now - I can't really do another day's worth like I did with The Validators, as there are significantly fewer line-up variations when there's just two of us (i.e. there are NO variations), so instead I'll be back tomorrow with a first look at SONGS PLAYED!

posted 7/2/2023 by MJ Hibbett
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On Thursday I wenr to The King & Queen in London's fashionable LONDON area of London for my FIFTY SIXTH gig there and my ONE THOUSANDTH gig overall. I chose The King & Queen for this auspicious occasion because it is ACE, and this turned out to be very much the case across the DELIGHTFUL evening that ensued.

As ever I'd been multi-tasking my pre-gig PANIC, simultaneously worrying about what I'd do if a) NOBODY b) TOO MANY people turned up. In most cases it is the former of the two eventualities that seem most likely, but this time around we got quite close to the latter, as a LOT of people came. There were Totally Acoustic regulars, old pals, some DOGS, and even some people who either had NEVER seen me before or who had last done so many years ago, and thus a LOVELY atmosphere prevailed. Everyone just about managed to squeeze themselves into various NOOKS of the upstairs room, and such was the ATTENDANCE PERFECTION that by 7.30pm the room was full and so - possibly for the first time EVER - we started ON TIME!

The evening was split up into two halves, and the first part featured a couple of SEGMENTS. The first of THESE was me doing the following, mostly on my own:

  • The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
  • The Perfect Love Song
  • Bad Back
  • A Minus Work
  • I Think I Did OK

  • When I'd workwd out the above list my plan was to try and cover the aspects of my glittering CAREER that weren't getting looked at later on, which meant including a VOON song, some new stuff, and A Minus Work, as song I have not performed live for nearly THIRTY FIVE YEARS. Rather wonderfully I was joined for this performance by Mr P Myland, who had ALSO not performed the song for thirty five years. As you can see below, we managed to pull it off with APLOMB!

    After that I invited my TOP SCORING gig collaborator, Mr Steve Hewitt, onto the stage, and we performed a MEDLEY of "Songs From The Shows" i.e. the shows what he and I did. You can see the whole thing HERE:

    It was all VERY exciting, especially because Steve had brought along a lot of the old props, including Actual Moon Horse! I did think, part way through, that a lot of what we were doing would make NO SENSE WHATSOEVER to people who'd never seen any of the shows, but happily people who HAD seen some of them seemed to take delight in revisiting the old songs and those who HADN'T were kind enough to go along with it. The most amazing thing for me was that it wasn't that difficult to make the medley work - the songs just flowed into each other, almost as if they all used the same four or five chords!

    After that we had a break before I brought on The Validators for the final set, which was an HOUR of HITS. Unfortunately the VIDEO ran out of juice about halfway through, but enough was recorded for me to be able to show you the thrilling SEGUE FESTIVAL we did part of the way through:

    As you may be able to tell, I was having to operate at FULL BELLOW, but I think it came together all right. Here's what we did in total:

  • Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid
  • Things'll Be Different When I'm In Charge
  • The Symbol Of Our Nation
  • (You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock
  • Hey Hey 16K
  • It Only Works Because You're here
  • Billy Jones Is Dead
  • My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once
  • People Are All Right (if they are given half a chance)
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • Easily Impressed

  • It was a LOT of songs, and my voice was noticeably HUSKY next day, but it wasn't half fun! At the end Steve came back on for a rousing rendition of We Did It Anyway, which felt very much like the correct way to finish off a thousandth gig.

    After that the evening moved into the traditional Chatting And Drinking phase, which was also pretty brilliant as SO MANY people had come out to see us. I am very very grateful to everyone who came along, as I am to everyone who has EVER come along to my gigs - thanks everybody, and ROLL ON the next thousand!

    posted 6/2/2023 by MJ Hibbett
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    Validation Over Time
    Today we're going to have a look at the twists and turns of Validator action over the years, starting with the graph below which shows the number of Validators in attendance each year since the very first Validators gig what we did.

    Validators At Gig By Year

    The first thing to note is that, for the first two years shown, there were NO 100% Validators gigs, entirely due to the fact that Emma did not actually JOIN the band, in a live setting at least, until 2001, after which we have over TWO DECADES during which The Validators were in full effect at least ONCE a year. This was NOT the case last year, when we had precisely ONE gig anyway, and which Frankie was unable to attend due to an EXTREMELY valid sick note.

    Amazingly, during the intervening period of CONSTANT VALIDATION, there is only one year - 2011 - when we dip below 50% of Validators gigs with full attendance, and there are NINE where All gigs feature the full line-up. People who do not understand How ROCK Actually Works may say "Hang on though, surely ALL gigs should be like that? I went to see e.g. The Coldplay a couple of years ago and THEY were all on stage, so why can't you do that?" The answer is twofold: firstly, we are of course MUCH COOLER than Coldplay or any of them bands that lots of people like, and so play by different rules, MAN. Secondly, and more importantly, unlike most (though by no means all) bands that lots of people like, we have JOBS and also RESPONSIBILITIES outside of The Krazy World Of ROCK that sometimes need to be prioritised. In some ways it is our very FLEXIBILITY in this regard which has allowed us to keep going as a ROCKING UNIT for nigh on 24 years - if we'd insisted on 100% for all gigs then we would have LONG AGO packed it in!

    The graph above shows the percentage of gigs per line-up, but we might get a clearer idea of exactly what's going on by looking at how MANY Validators gigs happened each year.

    Validators Gigs Per Year

    As you can see, after some initial fluctuations during our formative years we gradually built to a PEAK of TWENTY ONE (21) Validators gigs in the year 2006! Twenty one - that's LOADS of gigs! This was very much the year of our ROCK POMP when we not only went on TOUR (properly, with a van and EVERYTHING) but also did a live Radio One session from Maida Vale. This was all around the time when WE VALIDATE! came out, which Steve Lamacq played quite a lot and (I think) as a result more promoters asked us to do gigs. It was a DELIGHTFUL time of ROCK SHENANIGANS which lasted a good few years, up to and including the release of Regardez, Ecoutez et Repetez.

    After that the ROCKING quietened somewhat, for many and various reasons. Part of this was the fact that 40% of The Validators went to live on the other side of THE EARTH for a bit, and while that was happening we dedicated ourselves MUCH more to the Recording Studio for the EPIC sessions that led to Dinosaur Planet. There's also the small matter of the SHOWS that me and Steve really got going with around this time, but most of all there are Global Factors, Putin's Illegal War In Ukraine and ... no, sorry, that's somebody else's excuse for not doing much isn't it?

    Aside from BITING POLITICAL SATIRE, we will look much MORE into these aspects next week, when we'll be casting an eye over the gigs that me and Steve did, before launching into a look at SETLISTS and also GIG SALES. There is PLENTY more FACT to come, but before that I'll take a short break in order to prepare for GIG ONE THOUSAND - TOMORROW!!

    posted 1/2/2023 by MJ Hibbett
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