Friday, 22 September 2017

Gig Review: What’s-his-name, Crofter’s Rights, 6/9/17

First off, DJ has got me the ticket, I don’t recognise the name of the fella playing, but he says it’s fine, I’ve got a ticket for you, it’s at The Crofters, see you there, yeah?
Alright, why not. 
In the end up, he’s getting into town at tea-time, so I meet him for a cheeky pint, E girl joins us and we go for noodles.  The noodles are very good.
So, the gig is at The Crofter’s Rights – The Artist Formerly Known As The Croft.  I am old, so I get to point out to DJ that I was in here on my 17th birthday, nearly 20 years ago, when it was The Bristol Brewhouse – long before it even became known as The Croft….and then, when it was The Croft, I played there.  A lot.  Including 3 of the 5 “Last Night”s of The Croft. 
The support band tonight is called Young Husbands.  So, are they a Young Fathers tribute, or what?   Or are they really annoyed at the comparison, having chosen the name before any of them had even heard of Young Fathers – and sticking with it in the hope that they would be the more famous Young Somethings, or that the other Young Somethings would be a mere flash in the pan…we’ll never know, since we’re enjoying these noodles through their set. 
We get into the place and get a pint from one of the many non-branded taps with the name of the drink written in chalk above it, like they change them every day or two, even though almost all of them are the same as the last time I was in here, several months ago.
Anyway, the gig starts: the fella, the band dude, looks like John Power and sounds like Cate Le Bon (but I’m only saying that because I remember Cast – and, to a much lesser extent, The La’s – and I know that this fella was in Cate Le Bon’s band; and, in fact, it’s the only thing I do know about him.  A Normal Review would give the facts without revealing the thinking behind them.  That’s how it works, you’ve all read reviews before.  They would do that because the Reviewer would have read a press release and would recount it to you, The Reader.  The Reviewer would do so as a preparation, and because they know that You, The Reader, want Facts….).
I also realise, 30 seconds in to the first song, that Cate Le Bon has the same initials as me (if the “Le” constitutes an initial part of the name).  I note this, but it’s not really worth commenting on, which is why a Normal Review wouldn’t mention it.  (But they would regurgitate a press release, even if they used it as a counterpoint to argue against, wouldn’t they?  I’ve never even heard of this guy, before DJ says, “Hey, we haven’t been out for a while, let’s go to this thing” and then I go.  And that’s one of the many ways in which I am Better Than Them.)
The chap, the band singer, speaks to his bandmates in Welsh – but, of course, speaks to Us, The Audience, in English.  He’s from an hour’s drive down the road, but he speaks a foreign language.  I think that’s right cool, and DJ agrees politely.
“It’s taken eight years to (nearly) get the band I want” he says – the frontman bloke, that is.  Then he introduces them by name, and one of them is called Griff and it’s his birthday.  The main bloke, the singing one, he says something like “I would never ruin a gig by leading everyone in singing Happy Birthday to him, but if the audience did it spontaneously, I wouldn’t mind, really.”
(A real review would take massive liberties and paraphrase in the most general way, but pretend they weren’t, as if they were actually reporting, verbatim, what the man said.  They never do that. They can’t, not really.  They wouldn’t, would they, even if they could.  It’s just not The Done Thing.  That’s how it works, you’ve all read reviews before.  But that’s just a wee bit of behind-the-scenes knowledge for you, The Unassuming Reader.  That’s what I do – for those of you that aren’t one of the twelve regular readers, and have somehow stubbed your toe on this by accident.  (Extensive market research suggests there are at least one or two of you each week.)  You’re welcome.  (You may also wish to notice my (perverse) fetish for parentheses.  (Really overused, aren’t they?  (No.  They’re not.  (So there.))
The Audience responds, a bit reluctantly, and sings a muted version of the classic.  It’s tentative, but he seems to appreciate it, and the singing gadge gives it: “Thanks, that means a lot to him – but you’ve ruined the gig now.”
I like the singing man, he reminds me of me.  Which is handy, because I was starting to forget.
Then he “goes for his keys too early” by “getting all excited”, thanking The Audience with four songs to go. 
It’s a good metaphor, and suits the low-key tenor of the occasion. This is top gig banter, self-effacing and witty, but understated. 
There are three people talking loudly at the back of the room – The Singer glances at them a couple of times.  It’s pretty distracting, I imagine.  Everyone else is into it, it’s just a couple of knobheads spoiling it for everyone – now I know what all my teachers felt like.  (I still hate them though.  (I’m still cool.))
Why do people do that?  Are the rest of us a mirage?  Just background noise for their conversation, that they couldn’t possibly have in another time or place…?  Ah, they’re just people relaxing, enjoying themselves.  But why buy a ticket for a relatively obscure indie band in a relatively small room to chat through it?
The last song is, unexpectedly, a sort of 80s-style synth-pop effort, where the bassist plays guitar (inaudibly, and without conviction), and the drummer uses percussion, more on a point of principle than for the sound of it.  Then they all go off, one by one and the singer stays there on his own and picks up his Strat again to finish with a solo number which is probably my favourite of the set.
And then it finishes.  And everyone spills out into the bar.  There will be no encore.  I head out and I’m home by five past ten.
Oh, right, yeah, the band.  What were the band called?  No, it wasn’t a band, as such, it was just the singer, it was just his name, even though he did have a whole band. 
What was the fella’s name…?

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