Sunday 23 August 2009

THEA FORD - "Monkey To The West" album launch show / EVERY OTHER ONES debut gig - Bush Hall, Uxbridge Road W12


Three or four months ago (time is all relative, isn't it?), I began working with the radiant Miss Thea Ford. This was all leading up to the release of an album, entitled "Monkey To The West", which Thea had been working on for upwards of two years. Emails back and forth prior to my audition revealed that a revolving door of musicians had been the source of much frustration, so I was determined to be the guitarist for the job. After that first meeting (a few hours in a sweaty rehearsal room just under Waterloo East railway station) I received a text message which stated "Chris, you rock!". Which was nice!

Since then we've performed a few gigs for which I haven't written gig diaries, so I will sum them up as succinctly as I can:

Gocstock IV (which I did write about - at great length - on this blog somewhere down below).

22 July - Belushi's, Covent Garden - this was an acoustic gig in the corner of a bar. We performed for half an hour, went down a storm and were offered a gig the next night which we unfortunately had to turn down. A good turn out.

31 July - The Red Room - below The Comedy Pub, Haymarket - A fully electric gig, on the bill with a number of other very talented and / or humourous acts. This was a very enjoyable gig for yours truly. Poor Thea had a bit of a cough and had to leave me to take lead vocal at one point, which was quite amusing! Also, our superb young drummer Richard's bass drum pedal broke it's banjo string (so to speak). Ever the professional he fixed it and joined in on verse two of the next number. Cracking! Lots of fun, especially "Fall Down" which went over very well indeed.

12 August - Bar Music Hall, Shoreditch - A lovely venue just round the corner from Old Street tube. This one was fraught with danger. We had a rehearsal booked in for that night, which we did two hours of then raced to the gig. Richard had pranged his motor en route from Dover and as such couldn't make it. Nevin 'NEVOAH!' Sood stepped in and did a fine job for us, even coping with the unexpected double chorus at the end of Cat & Mouse. Lots of red wine then got me very pissed. Fabulous night.

Which brings us to the album launch show!

Bush Hall I...

Bush Hall


Thea dances towards destiny


View from the stage

I had left home around 1pm, aiming to get there well early and find a cheeky pint of the black stuff somewhere. A smooth journey, despite untold numbers of cancelled trains on the Southeastern network - something unfortunate seemed to be buggering trains going the other way, and for some reason this was cancelling North Kent Line trains going in my direction. How exciting. I jumped on the next train London-bound and arrived in SheBu (a popular contraction of Shepherd's Bush, apparently) around 3pm. A short walk to the venue later and I ran into Mark 'Smarties, but no blue ones' O'Neill and Laurence 'it does make me rather moist' Hodge. Mark jetted off to collect the tubthumper, Laurence retired to his car to listen to the radio and I wandered off in search of sustenance after dumping my gear in the venue. Finding nothing but a pasta snack and a bottle of apple juice I sauntered leisurely back to the venue. I managed to arrive just as Mark pulled up with Richard 'they're not pecs' Gould in tow with his impressive stack o' drums. Then who should walk round the corner but the diva herself, Thea 'look at my impractical bags, aren't they cool?' Ford. Time to set up then!

Keyboard world...


Mark searches for The Brown Note (it's up the other end, mate!)...


Guitar World...


I set up just in front of Keyboard World, having been provided with a Marshall combo by Mister O'Neill. My main gigging amp lives in Hull, and it's about time I bought myself a decent combo. August's shopping list is written! A very agreeable amp it was, and I quickly found my sound and retired backstage for a spot of reading.

MC Sood & The Bass Player...

The Toxic Twins

Mark demands his rider...

Mark demands his rider

Not content with just playing with Thea's band this evening, Bush Hall would also be treated to the debut performance of Every Other Ones, a band comprising of myself and David 'fucking' Sharpe as an acoustic guitar duo. Sharpey arrived just before soundcheck with Thea commenced, which was a joy. I do so love it when the sound man tells the drummer to play quieter! However, Richard is an astoundingly capable young man and is the only drummer I've ever had the privelege of playing with who can actually turn himself down! (Hope you're reading this, Joe...!)

Richard and his Technicolour Drumkit...


Time for a lie down...

Richard admires the ceiling

Soundcheck with Sharpey was entertaining, as Barney the Soundman wasn't very keen on the idea of mic-ing up acoustic guitars in this room. Tough luck, thought I, and we went ahead. Things sounded fine to me! Sharpey, Richard and I naffed off up The Coningham Arms where we were met by my pal Kev. A nice relaxing pint later and it was time to head back in time to catch the first act, the lovely Rowena Carter and her string section. Beautiful.

Time for Every Other Ones to assault the world. Our set went down very well, and comprised of three originals and two covers as follows:

Again & Again
...Baby One More Time
Same Old
Kid Gloves
I Should Have Stayed At Home

Received to good reviews, Sharpey and I were dead chuffed and will be in the market for more gigs soon. We need to write the rest of the album, old boy!

Another support act followed, whose name escapes me now. I do remember them loftily stating that they would bring between 50-100 fans with them. A likely story, and had I heard this before the night I would have suggested to Thea to drop them! Until the night before I still thought that Mayfly Trio were supporting, and I'm dead disappointed that they weren't. Guys, if you're reading this you were missed!

Then it was time for the gig Thea's been working towards for years. With the band standing onstage like lemons waiting for MC Sood to reappear, the stage was set. Nev did his bit and we started out with the first few bars. The set proceeded thusly:

You Got Me
Your Eyes, My World
Intro / Monkey To The West
Made Of You
Dear Bully
Cat & Mouse
You Said
Hold You Together
One Day Soon
So Long
Fall Down


A cracking performance all round, and an incredible reception from an impressive crowd. A few mistakes here and there causing giggles onstage, but not a trainwreck in sight. The atmosphere was compelling, and obviously my personal highlight was that guitar solo in Cat & Mouse - it got an amazing reaction and I honestly thought the roof might come off as that song reached it's finale. All in all, a highly enjoyable gig.

Huge thanks to everyone who came along, particularly my family and friends (special mentions for Beth, Kev and Glenn). It meant a lot that you were there, especially to Sharpey and myself. You rock.

The future holds writing sessions, both for Thea Ford and for Every Other Ones. I'm looking forward to being part of the process! Let's get cracking on some new music.

Til next time
Not Chris, not Harrison, but Chrissy H.

Saturday 22 August 2009



July 25 had arrived, and it was time to go back to The Brook! One of my favourite venues on the circuit, this Southampton bastion of rock is always a blast to play with an enthusiastic crowd. This gig would prove no exception. But I race ahead of myself...

After Kettering's head-gear fiasco, I had made a mental note to remember my wig. Packing my bag in the morning before any ablutions had taken place, I suddenly realised that I had NO idea where the bloody hell me syrup was. A frantic scramble around my bombsite of a bedroom resulted in a bigger mess than there was before. Thankfully our blonde friend was found atop the wardrobe. A quick wash later and it was, as they say, in the bag. It was around this time that I looked at my phone (which was on silent - clever, that) and saw that young Nicko "no moon, gay power!" McBrain Jnr had been trying to get in touch. The poor chap had encountered train trouble and was talking about having to go via Cambridge to get to London from Harlow. Several phone-calls later and the sensible lad had found himself a lift to the nearest tube station instead. Good boy. By this time I had already found myself a seat on a train towards Southampton, and arranged to meet our incumbent tub-thumper at Southampton Airport Parkway. Sneaky pint time!


So'ton pint

McBrain arrived around 5pm and we were on our way to Das Brook.

Drummer Attached to Phone...


The train which whisked us towards the closest station to the venue (St. Denys) seemed to have arrived replete with Deceased Passenger. A poor chap across the way from us did not seem to be inhaling, exhaling or otherwise stimulated. "One too many cheese rolls?", I posited on our way off the locomotive. After hardly any walk at all we found ourselves at the venue.

Das Brook

Arriving to find that we had completely missed the load-in (what a shame), I proceeded to set up my gear. After the sweat-drenched Kettering gig a few weeks prior, I had asked Mister Adrian "don't forget yer wig!" Swift if he'd be so kind as to re-string my axe. I'd have done it meself but the guitars venture back to 'Ull with Swifty after each gig. Unfortunately, it had slipped his mind as many things do (the whereabouts of his phone, his glasses, his phone, his passport, his phone...), and I would brave the gig with potentially-breakable strings. Not a massive issue as my back-up guitar had brand new strings 'ponst it. With amp set up and ready to rock, I retired upstairs to the dressing room for a cup of coffee with Bruce "nothing to not drink for" Dugginson. We had a chat about wigs - your humble narrator is getting rather fed up of 'Jenny' (or 'Johnny', if you prefer!) and is in the market for a new rug. Let me know if you've any ideas!

Soundcheck I...



Joe soundcheck

Soundcheck went well, and afterwards some of my cohorts naffed off to Big George's for a vat of chips. My good pal and local progressive rock leg-end Mr Lee Abraham had finally made it to a Hi-On gig at The Brook. An absolute joy catching up with you sir! After a cheeky pint with Lee it was time to wig up and get going. No Eddie tonight sadly - he was busy terrorizing Germans in a field somewhere!

The gig itself went well. I had several Brown Notes sending my solos spiralling out of control, and thusly didn't enjoy myself very much. Making mistakes is all well and good, but being consistently rubbish all night is not something that's bound to make you feel good!! That said, the performance overall was splendid. Dugginson had an absolute belter, as did the rest of my cohorts. Mr McBrain threw in a couple of interesting fills to keep us on our toes, especially that little unexpected break in the middle of Murders! Highlights of the night for me were The Prisoner, and Rainmaker which we had never played with this line-up before. Speed "womb room" Harris and I had played it previously at some of my very first gigs as Manic Gers back in November 2003, but I don't believe it had been aired since then. Lovely bits from Mr Murray in there! No sound clips from this weekend I'm afraid folks as there were a few technical difficulties with the sound recording we gained on Swifty's trusty minidisc recorder.

After the gig it was time to pack down. Very slowly! I got all me gear squared away and went to join the publican and his crew at the bar. Unfortunately missing the load-out (honest, when I turned around all the gear was gone off the stage.........), I had a good ol' chat to Bryn and the other charming folks of The Brook (including sound man Jake - top job sir). (At least I think it was Jake. It's been two weeks as I write this!). Then it was a two-hour drive back to Manic Towers for a spot of beer and some kip. I jumped in the Harris family bus and sped off with Speed, realising about ten minutes into the journey that I was busting for a piss. The relief at the other end was spectacular!

I awoke the next morning to be greeted with the news that I was now an uncle. I celebrated this with a yawn, an expulsion of gas and a cup of coffee. Once the rest of the lads were awake we ambled down into Dartford town for a slap-up breakfast. Poor Swifty couldn't quite manage his, and he was somewhat bloated for the return journey. In order to avoid him destroying the lav at Manic Towers I suggested a cheeky pint in one of my local watering holes. A pint of wonderous ale in the back garden of The Royal Oak was in order, followed by another in the Rose & Crown at the top of the hill. Whilst Swifty, Dugginson and I supped on our ale, Messrs Harris and McBrain chucked sharp things at a coloured circle.

Jim Bowen just out of shot...

Witless Darts

A Swift pint

Swift pint

Upon returning we had a butchers at Flight 666, which I had not seen yet. Highly enjoyable, with McBrain Jnr shouting out the names of just about everybody in it! In no time at all it was 5pm and time to roll out to Maidenstone. Flaming Henry's provided us with a nice gig upon our last visit 2 years ago (check out the diary from that weekend on our forum...somewhere!). The only thing we weren't looking forward to was the upstairs load-in / downstairs load-out. Gritting our teeth we lugged the gear up the stone steps and through the upstairs kitchen towards the concert hall. The public address system looked a little sad, and had apparently been left on all night much to the dismay of the sound-man. As the rest of us wouldn't be mic-ed up, the naff system was causing Mr Dugginson much fluster. It does massively suck knowing that no-one will be able to hear your remarkable talents as a musician. One speaker stack seemed to be working, the other not. The red mist was rising, so I quickly set up and retired to the dressing room not wanting to be Bruce's next victim!!!

Backstage antics I...

Matt and Joe











The gig itself was well played by all members, but to a teeny tiny audience. This was the cause of some consternation amongst us Hi-On chaps, as the gig had been rescheduled twice because the venue had apparently not received our posters and thusly couldn't advertise. We arrived to find that they had received our posters, put up a few of their own and assumed people would just turn up. This was a crying shame as the gig last time had been fairly well attended and received rapturously. Such is life, it seems. My personal diary from the evening sums it up thusly: "Good gig, no audience, shit P.A.". Not a lot more to say, really!

We sat around drinking for roughly three weeks before finally giving into our fate and lugging all the gear back downstairs. Not anyone's idea of fun, but at least the load-out wasn't upstairs. That would be killer. Nicko went home with his mother and Mr Harris bid us farewell at the base of the stairs. Swifty, Duggan and I buggered off back to mine and enjoyed a Pink Floyd DVD with some beer before turning in for the night.

That's it from us until September, which sees us doing a mini-tour of Yorkshire. Looking forward to some nice views and some even nicer beer!

Til then, up the irons!

Dave "Uncle Manic" Hurry