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Blog: Stoke

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I had to set off for scenic Stoke extra super early on Friday, due to Richard Branson's attempts to FLEEECE ridiculous amounts of CA$H out of anyone who wants to travel at ANY kind of reasonable time on his, frankly, UNPLEASANT trains.

The upside of this was that I had PLENTY of time for wandering about and sitting around, much of which was spent in The White Star, the pub where I was going to be doing My Exciting Life In ROCK. It was a nice place to sit, as everyone was DEAD friendly - and friendly in The Midlands Way, i.e. the BEST way. Pete Horowitz had put up several posters around the room and then mystically appeared distributing photocopies of that article in The Stoke Sentinel, so every time I'd look up from my book I'd see someone looking at the piece of paper, then at me, gesticulating "Is that you?" and giving the thumbs up when I nodded. One chap came over and told me about the time he'd been to the Fringe in 1965 and, after a brief chat, said "I'll not bother you tho", and moved away again. The Midlands: FRIENDLY to precisely the right amount!

I went off for a DELICIOUS curry, had another beer, collected The People In My City from the station, and arrived back to find our PALS had arrived. We had MORE beer, then went back upstairs to watch The Fabulous Nobody, who was fab - LOADS of very short, old-fashioned sounding songs CROONED in a lovely voice.

And then it was ME! I have to confess, I initially found it a bit HARD WORK. Downstairs there was a full band playing proper old ROCK SONGS, and VERY LOUDLY so there was a constant THUMP of them from below. Also there were people talking -now, as I have said MILLIONS of times, you can't complain about people talking, especially when they've paid to get in, and so i WON'T. A lot of the time I think people don't realise you can hear them - we're all so used to watching TELLY, or being at gigs where the band is HUGELY LOUD, that we forget that, in close confines, the person "performing" is only at the same volume as your own voice, and so think nothing of chatting away throughout. It does make it a bit NERVE WRACKING if you're the one "performing", and so I found myself a) shouting a bit b) WORKING HARD to get over the top of it all AND to try and persuade people into hearing me. This is especially difficult doing The Show - at a normal gig you can play a song which IS louder than talking and had no GAPS, but when there's lots of TALKY bits you're suddenly in direct competition with conversations and HAVE to leave big gaps for air between sentences.

I think it worked out OK - a few people at the back who may even have come as a result of the feature in the paper seemed to get fed up and leave, and the band downstairs had a LONG gap, so it got a lot easier just as I got to the halfway mark where the BEST bits start happening, and it was a thoroughly enjoyable ride downhill to the end. I decided to stop early, before The Epilogue, as I all the SHOUTING had given me a sore throat, but then got an ENCORE to did it anyway! HOORAH!

And then there was some more DELICIOUS beer, some CHIPS, and the next day we played Star Wars Lego on the WII. It was BRILL!!

posted 5/4/2009 by MJ Hibbett

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I'm the guy who turned up in the "Hey Hey 16k" t-shirt and I got a few funny looks before you came in, possibly from people who were thinking "he looks different in real life". Also, if the distractions were putting you off, you didn't let it show - true professionalism.
posted 5/4/2009 by Dave

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