Sunday, 20 May 2018

MARK BUCKINGHAM (supporting THE FIERCE AND THE DEAD) - The Black Heart, Camden - 18 May 2018


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It’s a gig diary! I know, I know, it’s been a while. Just a short one. I promise.

Original art © Mark Buckingham

Over the course of some ‘prog curries’ (yes, that’s a thing) and a few gigs here and there over the last year or two, I have had the pleasure of getting to know one Mr Mark ”drawings, songs… and envelopes” Buckingham, comic book artist extraordinaire. Once I’d got over the initial amazement of knowing someone who has his own Wikipedia page, it was great to get to know Mark as he often joined us on The Mighty Handful’s weekly sojourns to the pub/studio.

It turned out that aside from his frankly astonishing skills with pens and paper, Mark has a knack for writing lovely melodies and accompanying them with lyrics. By the time I met him he had been working with a couple of prog luminaries on an album called “Jigsawman” to accompany a graphic novel of the same name. Within no time at all we were collaborating on some of that (and other) music and, before you know it, there was a gig in the calendar. Mark asked me to accompany him on keyboards for a slot supporting The Fierce And The Dead at their ‘The Euphoric’ album launch; Mark had already enlisted the services of TFATD loop-meister Matt “tomorrow I’m switching my ‘phone off and playing Sonic 2” Stevens for the show.



In March this year we hit the Mighty boat studio to write and record a couple of tunes which we had hoped to have available for sale at the gig. Sadly, due to other pressing commitments that release has yet to see the light of day, but I’m rather hoping we’ll be back at it soon; it was a pleasure to share the studio with Mark and Matt and, of course, with fellow Mighty Messrs. Matt “This is DEFINITELY gonna work!” Howes and Gary “Chris Isaak and a beatbox” Mackenzie.

We managed a couple of rehearsals in the week prior to the gig, which was salve to the nerves of Matt and Mark and an all-round exquisite experience for me – there really is nothing better than playing music when its going well! Mark has a lovely voice, and Matt really does get some great noises out of guitars. On the day I rocked up early and helped TFATD with the load-in and enjoyed their sound-check immensely. The merch arrived, and after a quick pint downstairs the doors opened and we were off!

Photo by Rosamund Tomlin

Set list
  1. Pitter Patter
  2. Jigsaw Man
  3. Lost Piece
  4. Little Glass Heart
  5. Shards 

Our runs of the set during rehearsals and sound-check had been perfectly gig-ready but, in all honesty, I think the performance actually went better than any of our previous attempts. It really made a difference having such a receptive, warm and friendly audience to play to, and having some good-natured banter from stage and crowd in-between songs. There’s no substitute for gigging it! Mark had designed stage gear bedecked with jigsaw motifs and had made himself some splendid light-based props for use during the show to illuminate the themes of the songs. We seemed to go down well; there were lots of really enthusiastic and encouraging comments from punters as we swilled round the crowd afterwards.

TFATD were magnificent. The fans in attendance that evening were a fantastic bunch; it all felt extremely inclusive and as if everyone was a friend of everyone else, including us! The band were on fine form (“Tight as a witch’s cleft”, as you might say) and tracks from the new album were received just as well as their more well-known tunes. I bought myself a copy of their stonking new album and a print of Mark’s art for it, which will find a home in my new home somewhere.

At the end of the night I felt all loved-up and confident; a feeling that lasted right up until I ran in to a spot of bother trying to open the kebab shop door….but that’s another story!

Here comes the thanks list:

- To Mark for asking me to be involved – it’s an honour and a privilege!
- To Matt for being such a talent and an easy guy to work with – it’s been an utter pleasure making a racket with you. I see more interlocking guitar parts in our future…!
- To TFATD and crew for having us – they and their crew really are among the loveliest folk I’ve met in fifteen years of gigging. I hope we didn’t get in the way too much, and hope to see you all again one day! (You can check them out at  http://fierceandthedead.com/)
- To Kunal, Alan, and all at Chaos Theory for making the evening go so smoothly.
- To Mighty Matt and Mighty Gary for coming along to support us
- To everyone who came along, bought merch, showed support and took the time to tell us their thoughts – you’re all wonderful!
- To Roland (endorse me, please! Go on, you know you want to…)
- To Rosamund Tomlin for the photograph - I hope you're off those crutches in no time! 


Until next time...

Chris "If you're not on Wing Fortress Zone yet, you're doing it wrong" Harrison
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