Monday, July 19, 2004

the gig is a blur

The gig was excellent, and the Spice of Life was outrageously hot. We arrived, via train and bus, at the venue at around 5.30 (actually in two groups, ten minutes apart, as when we tried to disembark from the back of the bus outside the venue half of us made it and half didn't - me, Vic and Pete getting whizzed on to Bloomsbury while the others, presumably, laughed) and met up with Girlinky, who were soundchecking a brilliant sounding and ambitious new song (which later closed their set). Moving upstairs for a drink and a curiously nerve-free pre-gig chat, we met up with the loyal and - frankly - beleagured Assistant fanbase (cough), some of whom had followed us all the way up from Brighton (Andrew, James, Becky - thanks), others from North London and, in the case of Anthony, who I spent just about every day with from age 4-12, direct from my past. A pleasure to meet Brin, too.

Eventually soundchecking, we dashed through What It Means and an almost-abortive run through the always difficult Engines and Anvils while the venue filled up around us, struggling in the heat already (jacket on, jacket off). Billed as the first band of three we discovered to our delight that we were in fact the second of four! Hurrah; our inexorable rise up the bill continues. First on were Grande Cobra (thanks Sarah), who played five short, extremely sharp and enthusiastic songs of a brittle, garage rock nature which I may otherwise shun. They were good, though, combining great bass lines, impassioned yelps and skilful footwork (toes in, toes out).

By the time we got on stage it was hotter still (jacket off) and our first song, as yet untitled but described here previously as 'the instrumental, BSPish one' was over in an instant. Watching the video back (Andrew filmed it for us) Pete displays some canny guitar heroics by improvising his way around the fact that I played the second verse in completely the wrong key. Never mind. You Should Know is an angry blur, played fast and loud with me jigging up and down on the spot and feeling hot and crazy. I tried to move about more this time, conscious that we sometimes appear static, and made some wonderful guitar errors in the process, but it was worth it. For a start I felt more involved, quicker. It seems funny to say that you can sometimes feel uninvolved when you're on stage, but it's true; sometimes songs skip by unnoticed. Not this time, though.

The triumverate of new(ish) songs, I'm Shit, What It Means, and Drinking With You went off without much in the way of hitches; during the former the abrupt stop after the middle eight brought a few cheers, which pleased me, and What It Means saw Ali recklessly tossing drumsticks around and not missing a beat; there's a great bit in the video when, moments later, he pauses, looks at Pete and gives a sheepish thumbs up. I'll have to see if I can grab a still of that. During Drinking With You I dashed over to Anne Sophie, intent on playing a duet with her and dumbly started playing the wrong (ie, turned off) keyboard. Ah well. Meanwhile, Pete wonders whether his guitar will melt in the torrent of so much sweat from the arm/hand area? It works out OK.

Vine to Vine and Easy To Leave almost seem like old hat now, but I continue to love playing the former (I do so little I can afford to drink a little beer, re-arrange my hair) and the latter just sounds ace when I get the guitar part right (I did), off-beat and melodic. By this stage the heat had become almost too-much, yet also appropriate. I threw myself around a bit more. Looking into the crowd, Vic looked a bit embarrased. Sorry V. Afterwards, Pete asks me to point out that it is at this stage that he is beginning to rue not having his hair cut, as skull surface temperature reaches critical.

Engines and Anvils remains our most exciting song. Having played it (or planned to play it) several different ways, the current method is for me, Anne-So and Pete to play over Ali and Andy's exacting template, pre-recorded and routed through the mixing desk on CD. It makes playing it faintly odd; I turn and see Ali packing away his cymbals, are we still playing? Oh, yes, of course we are. I try to concentrate, but I'm still giggling at the rhythm section high five at the end of Easy to Leave. The songs builds up and builds up, Pete's guitar line chattering with feedback at the song's close. My melodica sounded lovely. I'm concerned, right now, that I am slipping into writing in footballer's tense ("he brings the ball up the flank and crosses and I just twatted it", etc). Never mind.

We leave the stage knackered, hot and happy, and people look like they enjoyed it. Ah.

I'll get round to blogging the other bands in a bit....

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

the first band on were called 'grande cobra'.

think that was the best assistant gig i've seen yet! you guys were ace.

sarah

jonathan said...

Thanks, Sarah! I really enjoyed it, it was excellent fun. Watching the video back we all appear to be grinning, all the way through, which we'll obviously have to alter if we we're to make any headway with our new doom-rock direction. And playing with Girlinky is more fun than playing with anyone else!

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