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Blog: The Banana Grove

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The first stop on my MIGHTY WEEKEND OF ROCK was Leicester, and I arrived in that most excellent of cities in the sunny afternoon on Friday full of HOPE for what promised to be an Action Packed Weekend. I checked in to the IBIS (HANDILY placed right next to the station) and almost immediately SWELLED with CIVIC PRIDE when I watched an East Midlands Today piece about an Imam and a Priest who worked on opposite sides of the road from each other and had become PALS and gone off travelling the world preaching acceptance of FRIENDLINESS. It was lovely - their respective churches were, of course, in LEICESTER, home town of all things LOVELY.

Mind you, Leicester wasn't looking her BEST when I set off for SUMO, as there seems to be some pretty major building work going on at The Magazine, as the area was festooned with wire barriers and a SPECTACULARLY ugly pile of concrete and rubble which had been poured over one end of one of the underpasses, to make a dirty great wall to stop people using it. It was horrible!

Anyway, I got to Sumo just before Sorted Supremo Dave Dixey, and i LEAPT to help him carry in his DECKS and DJ STASH - in this case two portable wind-up gramophones and a box of 78's. We struggled in with them, not really helped by a bouncer who didn't think it worth his while to, you know, OPEN THE DOOR for us. GRR! We manhandled our way in and went downstairs and got set up. It was STRANGE - as far as I'm aware no-one in my family has owned and/or played a gramophone record during my lifetime, but as soon as he started playing one of those old records it sounded like HOME - the warmth, the crackle, and the happy sound of it was a thing of WONDER. I'm BY NO MEANS a Vinyl Bore, but GOODNESS ME it was a wondrous thing.

I did my soundcheck and then HIED to Narborough Road, where i had a MOST pleasant Curry with Dr N Brown and his old pal Matt. On the way there and back i MARVELLED at the change that has occurred in the area - when I first lived there there were THREE pubs: The Huntsman (which you didn't go in), The Western (which you DID, and which i was glad to discover has changed hardly at all) and The Pump & Tap (which HAS changed, a LOT), but now every second building is a BAR, with Bright Young Things LOLLING out of the windows, and the places that AREN'T appear to be takeaways or - amazingly - swanky restaurants. It's all very nice and exciting and GLITZY, but I couldn't help feeling NOSTALGIA for when it had three chippies, two bakers and a string of dodgy second hand shops. Years and years ago I wrote a song called Down The Narborough Road, which was an attempt to do one of those American Type songs MYTHOLOGISING an area - at the time it was a fairly accurate picture of how it was, NOW almost NONE of the places mentioned in it are still there! It's part of a general feeling these days that MANY of my songs are changing from CURRENT to FOLK!

Anyway, I got back to find Dave downstairs playing his 78s and hardly anyone else there. I was feeling a bit fed up at this point, as I'd spent AGES over the preceding few weeks learning a pile of new (to me) songs, and would be DISAPPOINTED if nobody came to see it... so i was RELIEVED and then PLEASED when a whole BUNCH of lovely people soon turned up, especially as i got to CHAT to them. HOORAH!

We waited for the FOOTBALL to end (the other band playin had pulled out, so we could afford to wait a bit), and then i went onstage and did THIS:
  • All Of Me
  • Besame Mucho
  • Moonlight Bay
  • Don't Dilly Dally On The Way
  • Chick Chick Chicken
  • Dancing In The Week
  • Easily Impressed
  • Who's Sorry Now?
  • The Perfect Love Song
  • Leaning On A Lamppost

  • If this looks like a rather BIZARRE set, well, it IS! I should have said earlier - the night was the first instalment of Banana Grove, Mr Dixey's new club night designed to combine the playing of 78s with BANDS perforing new versions of old songs, HENCE my Music Hall TASTIC set. It seemed to go OK - it was RATHER scary doing so many unfamiliar songs, and i completely messed up Don't Dilly Dally On The Way, as even though I had the words blown up to A3 i still couldn't see them. It was ACE forcing everyone to join in on Moonlight Bay and Chick Chicken, and i THOROUGHLY enjoyed doing Dancing In The Week, which was a REVISED version of Clubbing In The Week to make it more old fashioned. BEST OF ALL though was doing Easily Impressed in a VERY revised fashion, with second verse as follows:
    I like a nice cup of tea from a china spout The ease of navigation of the London Underground A cut throat razor for a hairy face The futuristic possibilities of radio waves Letter, Mangles, washing pegs The trams of Sheffield, powdered eggs

    It took me AGES to think of that! But that wasn't the best bit by far - this was in the AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION section. I'd suggested something like "Excuse me Hibbett", which got IMPROVED by the Participating Audience to "I say, Mr Hibbett!" and then, BRILLIANTLY, "I beg to differ!" which made me LARF and, for me, made the whole exercise worthwhile on its own. HOORAH!

    When it was all finished a young man came over and said "I'm a bit GUTTED - I thought you'd be doing your own songs, I came specially to hear them!" It did, I must say, seem a bit unfair, so I went upstairs with him and a few of his mates into the front yard and did a SPECIAL GIG for them and the Participating Audiences, who came along too, AS FOLLOWS:
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • The Gay Train

  • It was LOVELY and, truth be told, yet MORE fun than playing downstairs had been. We went back to listen to some more TUNES and had DISCUSSIONS re. LITERATURE and MARXISM, it was MOST intellectual. Mr Dixey and I then shared a taxi, dropped off his GEAR, and then nipped up the road to The Landsdowne for some DELICIOUS Oakham Ales JHB. It was SO nice that it completely counteracted the effects of the rather dodgy John Smiths "smoothflow" i'd been drinking earlier. The Singer From Kasabian was at the bar, which was quite exciting, and we fell to discussing Important Matters such as Dave Doing Banana Grove In A PUB Instead, Record Distribution and, of course, Doctor Who.

    I got back to the hotel just after 1am, full of PLEASANT THOUGHTS, NOSTALGIA, and also BEER. The MIGHTY WEEKEND OF ROCK had begun WELL!

    posted 3/6/2007 by MJ Hibbett

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