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Blog: Back In The Orchestra Shed

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Yesterday I did something I used to do all the time but have not done for YEARS: I stayed at work late!

Fear not, gentle reader, I was not SELLING OUT TO THE MAN by doing IMMATERIAL LABOUR (or "unpaid overtime" as we used to call it, PRE-INTERNET), I was just hanging around because it was easier than going home then heading out again. I used to do this A LOT when I worked at Birkbeck and had things to do in town, but didn't at Imperial because it was MILES away from anywhere!

Anyway, my appointment was in TOTTENHAM, home of Ossie Ardiles et al, and it was to White Hart Lane station that I travelled. I was in that area to attend an REHEARSAL with A Little Orchestra, in preparation for Totally Acoustic next week, and I arrived at the address I'd been given to find them all down the end of the garden in a MUSIC SHED. Coo-er but it was a bit fancy, I was DEAD impressed. They were even doing some of The Classical Music when I entered, it was dead swanky, so I was SURPRISED by the discussion they had upon completion of the PIECE.

"Let's talk about dynamics" said Mr M Walker, who seemed to be CHAIRING the meeting. Everyone nodded and looked serious, and I prepared myself to look as if I understood what was going on.

"Let's do the first bit loud, then quiet, then loud and quiet again," he said.

WOT?!? That is how WE do it - surely there must be more to it than that? Or - OR! - perhaps this means that The Validators are basically a SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA? Yes, that's probably it.

With that sorted out we embarked upon the two songs I'd be singing with them. The FIRST is a song that The Validators always JOKE about putting in the setlist. When we discussed this issue the other week in Nottingham, for instance, it was brought up and I thought "Hang on, we COULD do that in London couldn't we?" as I sang it with A Little Orchestra LAST time they played Totally Acoustic. Unfortunately, that time, SOMEBODY (it doesn't matter who) got a bit a) over-excited b) drunk and forgot both the words AND the structure, so cocked it all up a bit. THIS time that person (whoever it may be) made some careful NOTES so hopefully that won't happen again, because when it works properly this version is INCREDIBLE!

With that done we moved onto the CHRISTMAS song we're doing - as with above, I'm not saying what the song IS to retain some SURPRISE, but I can reveal that it IS taken from The Greatest Christmas Album Ever Made (yes, EVEN BETTER than OUR Christmas album) which is, coincidentally, also The Greatest Bob Dylan Album Ever Made. It's quite a slow song, so I found it difficult to sing at first due to my inability to hold NOTES for any length of time and also my inability to stick to MY bit of the tune whenever OTHER bits of tune are going on at the same time. The KEY to doing it right (or as near to right as I'm ever going to manage) was to lean NONCHALANTLY against something, like BING at the fireplace. I think I may take a PIPE with me to the gig!

Once we'd finished I staggered back to the train station with a big silly grin all over my face. I am USED to making amazing noises with The Vlads, OBVS, but doing something SO different, delightful, and WAY out of what I'd ever have expected to do is something I've yet to get used to.

I'd recorded everything so that The Validators can have a practice (we're ALL playing together for these two songs, I expect there to be more people on stage than in the audience at this point by a factor of approx five to one!), which meant that when I got home I was able to have a LISTEN all over again. It sounded even better than I remembered - this is going to be BRILLIANT!

posted 22/11/2016 by MJ Hibbett

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