Last Fridays Mad Pride gig, Billy’s (William Blake) Birthday Bash.was hosted in the smaller bar which suited me fine. It’s a warmer atmosphere than the larger hall which is currently being re-developed.
I arrived at 7.30 for a sound check. It’s a habit of mine to be on time. The doors were supposed to open at 8pm. I was first there and as usual with a Mad Pride gig nothing got going until 9pm. I always get a bit frustrated and some times tetchy but the sound guy was very able and within a couple of minutes I had a good vocal sound and a fair guitar sound from a house amplifier. Jason Why was at hand in his usual role as master of ceremonies and he began the evening with his usual energetic rant against government benefit cuts and Mr Cameron et al.
Soon the place was quite full and I settled down to enjoy the poetry and other musical offerings of the third kind. What I mean by that is you rarely hear any thing that is ordinarily straight forward at Mad Pride gigs and this was to commemorate Billy’s birthday. This was the man who saw angels in trees and was no stranger to mental illness as we now perceive it. This is the place to experience things outside the usual boxes. The very sweet and relovent Frank Bungay kicked off the evening with the touching and some times slightly disturbing narratives of his life. Later John Clarke performed his distinctive jazz poetry and later he gave me his book of poetry – All the way from Katmandu. He pointed out a poem in it called The Loop and compared it to my Beggar Man song.. We were totally on the same tip and that was nice! There were other brief performances in an open mic style and all added to the mix.
The audience kept arriving past Dave and Debbie on the door. Dave and Mark organise these gigs on a shoe string budget. A couple of the artistes run other events such as Raw Poetry and Raw Glam that provide settings for artistes of all kinds to perform and be seen as well as an opportunity to see interesting acts, some times for free. There is a very healthy subculture alive and well in London. There are numerous venues that you might not have heard of that provide an exciting alternative and antidote to X Factor culture.
I went on stage at about 9 oclock and played and sang my heart out. I just kept going with little regard or awareness of the time passing. The audience was wonderful and very kind. I felt truly connected and free of any inhibition. Later Jason, who is a bit of fan now, said “I was on fire”. You know what? He was right, I was.
Later came Taurus Trakker a smacking three piece. Thinking mans punk with a slightly disturbing (in a good way) psychedelic edge. Great to see a female rhythm section and it really rocked and so much so that I agreed to do an abridged Out Demons Out at their request. We rocked it though I missed not being able to solo on a strat. Still it was different and went down a storm. I suppose I tend to think all the colour and dynamics of the EBB version is an essential requirement for performing the piece but I am loosening up on some of these long held beliefs. I realise the essence of the song is what counts. It’s a vehicle and just needs to be always performed with total conviction.
Last act of the night was a lady with the unlikely name of Voodoo Citi and this was a treat. Grace Slick meets Stevie Nicks. Nice songs. Made me think about introducing the female element to some of my material.
I had vowed to leave after my set but as usual I found myself captivated by it all and I left at around 1am to catch a night bus with John Clarke back south towards Battersea. It took a very long time and I arrived home at around 3.20am but it was worth it.
When I arrive at a Mad pride gig I always moan a bit to myself that no one else has arrived yet and that I am the only one who seems to want to bother to get a decent microphone sound etc. Then I get completely sucked into the whole thing and love every minute of it.
So I could just relax and go with the flow or I could make ‘em all get a bit more pro for THE GOOD OF THE GROUP. I am going for the latter because we are worth it.