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GIGS 2011

Sunday 5th June 2011

The Prince of Wales, Haslemere, Surrey

Vic's Buskers open-mic hosted by Vic Cracknell

"Right Back To The Start"

It's not often I hear anyone do a cover which I think is better than the original but last night I saw a sixth-form aged girl duo do a version of Florence and the Machines' "You've Got The Love" and I thought their stripped back version blew the original out of the water; I really thought it was terrific, full of soul. I think the the girls are called collectively "Louella". (Good Luck with the exams Girls if you happen to read this).

It's been a long, long time since I've been to The Prince of Wales. This area is where I used to teach swimming all those years ago and I half expected to see someone I recognised. I didn't, except for the lead singer and guitarist of The Glory Boys whom I knew I knew from somewhere but just couldn't place. During their set, I was racking my memory from where I knew this guy from and the only lead was that perhaps he was member of a local three-piece band called Prime Suspect (way before the TV series of the same name) whom I used to follow with a girlfriend when I was at sixth-form. And sure enough, when I enquired, the guy was Dave O'Brien, the guitarist from Prime Suspect.

Prime Suspect were pretty good and Jane and I went to lots of their gigs. I have a vague idea that the band supported Hazel O'Connor when she had the hit "Will You?" and we went to see them at Guildford University but I could be wrong about that. Another (perhaps dubious) claim to fame is that they were a stepping stone on Michael Ball's journey to "stardom" which maybe gives the wrong impression that Prime Suspect were a "dragged-up" cabaret group. Far from it, they were part of the new wave/ rock scene (maybe think along the lines of early Police). I remember Ball being quite uncharitable about the group when being interviewed on The Jonathan Ross Radio Show, which I must admit rankled a bit and I believe there are two sides to that story (as always).

A few years later I found myself working behind the bar at the Sunday Lunchtime Trad Jazz at the Redgrave Theatre in Farnham with Geoff Whiting, the lead singer of the, by then, defunct Prime Suspect. Those were hilarious times; God, Geoff used to wind me up. We'd be rushed off our feet trying to serve thousands (okay, a bit of a exaggeration but it felt like it) who seemed to want to drink as much as possible in two hours and Geoff would persist in either trying to chat to me or the customers. In those days, he could talk the hind legs off a donkey! I've got to say though you could always tell he was a good guy and that his heart was in the right place. (That didn't stop him f**king winding me up though! (:-) ) I'm interested to learn that he's gone into comedy now, and if he's anything like he was all those years ago it's the best place for him: I can imagine him doing really well. Actually, having just visited his webpage, I can see he's doing really well, which I find very pleasing. In hindsight, it all fits together. He just wanted to talk all the time about the things that he was finding funny: where better for him to be, but on stage? Perfect. With some swopping of emails / numbers etc with Dave, I'll hopefully catch up with him sometime.

And how is all this nostalgia relevant? Well, driving back last night I realised that it was around the time of Prime Suspect that I first started writing songs. I remember writing my first ever lyric, returning back on the train from a university interview, and of course it was inspired by that relationship with Jane.

And what of my performance last night? It was okay but I didn't feel it was my best. Oh and remind me not to ever have curry before I perform again. It was a humid night anyway, the pub was packed out, a bit stuffy and hot, and by the time I'd got to the stage I was sweating buckets. Yeah, I must've looked really cool. I noticed the look of apprehension on the audience's faces which I usually assume to be in anticipation of me singing but this time I think they were concerned about drowning in my sweat (pleasant!). All I can say is they should've had those swimming lessons.

As always, thanks to Vic Cracknell for organising the evening.

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