07 October 2016
From the grim surroundings of Survival Studios in North Acton, where the air conditioning spews out Legionnaire’s Disease and the carpets have been down since the 1970’s, to the rural delights of broadcaster Chris Evans’ pub, ‘The Mulberry Inn’, in Chiddingfold, Surrey and the affluent backstreets of Mayfair, a week of rehearsals and gigs culminated in our appearance at the British Library as guests of the Josephine Hart Poetry Foundation.
Industrial buildings, run-down cafes and colourful Mediterranean restaurants line the dour streets, around the no-frills rehearsal complex at Survival Studios, while inside, stained carpets, grimy wall to wall mirrors, battered microphones and dodgy amps all add to the ‘charm’. Indie rock thuds and screams from behind ‘soundproofed’ doors as we set up and welcome our new band member Jim Russell. Jim has worked with a host of legendary singers and songwriters, including Paul Young and Bob Geldof. Today he’s scribbling notes and doing a fabulous job steering us through the Sadie songs, both new and old.
Wednesday afternoon finds us down at Kipper’s barn in Haslemere, top and tailing the songs before we head over to the Mulberry for soundcheck. It’s a small room and there’s no room to swing a guitar neck but after dinner and a beverage or two we storm through the new set with surprisingly few ‘mistakes’. A great warm-up gig in a lovely environment. Thanks again to the warm welcome from staff and patrons and to singer songwriter Phil Holbird for providing the PA and mixing the sound.
Thursday’s gig is a private party at Hush, a restaurant in one of Mayfair’s historic courtyards. The traffic is terrible, all the way through Knightsbridge, Simon and I accompanying Wal to help transport the PA through the streets and alleyways of this exclusive West End enclave. Long famous, not least as the most expensive property square on the London ‘Monopoly’ board, Mayfair was named after the annual, fortnight long May Fair that took place in what is now Shepherd Market from 1686 to 1764.
After the long haul down the streets and up to the second floor of the restaurant we’re set up and ready for off. It’s a private gig with Sadie as special guest and the audience love every minute of it. Two gigs in and it’s getting tighter. At one point we’re joined by our host who sings ‘Wonderful World’ as we busk along….. then it’s out into the damp autumn night for the load out and journeys home.
On Friday we are at the British Library performing for the Josephine Hart Poetry Foundation. Josephine Hart, Baroness Saatchi (1942-2011) was an Irish writer, theatrical producer and TV presenter. Normally reserved for poetry readings only, tonight’s show is a first for the foundation. We take to the stage to present our songs, interspersed with a line or two of verse, some doggerel and one of Wal’s infamous ‘one-liners’: “My father was a man of few words, and one day he said to me……. Son”.
The set went down a storm, the new songs very well received and we earned a thunderous ovation before encoring with our banjo driven rendition of the Bee Gee’s ‘Staying Alive’. A very satisfying end to a busy week.