Saturday 5 September 2009

LEE ABRAHAM - Black & White LIVE - rehearsal number one!


Two and a bit weeks ago, the text came.

'Mate, would you be interested in playing guitar for some Black & White gigs?"

I was in Cyprus at the time, having just attended my cousin's wedding out there. The text came as a welcome surprise on a searingly hot afternoon, and the answer was an emphatic yes. Three of the tracks were mooted for the initial get-together, and the rehearsal was booked for 5th September, leaving me two weeks to learn half an hour of progressive rock goodness with some nice fat chunky riffs, brooding atmospherics and a nice guitar solo or two. Then I listened to the stuff.

Something approaching mild panic set in.

But first, a bit of background. The text had come from my pal Mr Lee "you can never have too many sheds" Abraham, who released his third solo album 'Black & White' in the middle months of this year. And very good it is too. In fact, you can buy it here: . I had bought a copy a few weeks before this trip to Cyprus and listened to it a couple of times to high enjoyment. I hadn't, however, listened to it as the guy who was going to be playing it.

Something approaching mild panic set in.

As it turns out, I managed it all perfectly well despite the initial brown-trouser moments. The things that were giving me the most boot-quakes were those tasty John Mitchell solos in 'Black' and 'Face The Crowd', the latter of which still needs some work. But we'll come to that.

I arrvied in Southampton around 7pm on Friday night to be met by Mr A and was immediately whisked off for a curry. This man knows how to treat his visiting artists! One rogan josh to the good we retired to the Abraham homestead for a bit of a run-through of a couple of things in 'Black' which were buried in the mix. Lee seemed impressed with my work so my worries were alleviated somewhat for the next day's rehearsal. The next couple of hours were spent by the iPod docking station playing each other classics and crimes in each other's collection before turning in for the night.

After loading the gear into the motor the next morning we were met by the vocalist for this project, a chap by the name of Sean "he likes a reach-around" Filkins. Any prog fans amongst you might recall his work with Big, Big Train, and alongside this Sean sang on a number of tracks on 'Black & White'. Sean followed Lee & I to the rehearsal space just the other side of the water where the rest of this motley crew appeared. First to arrive was Gerald "Mully" Mulligan, a long-time Abraham collaborator who performed all the drums on the album. Following in quick succession was Rob "usurper piano!" Arnold, an ivory-tickling bandmate of Mully who was suggested for this project.

Sean Filkins...


Rob Arnold...


Lee & Mully...

Mully & Lee

The rehearsal space was....damp. Damp, damp, damp. The place smelled, as Lee's 8-year old son so beautifully put it, like socks. Old socks. Old socks which have been worn for three weeks, turned inside out and worn for another three weeks. There would need to be frequent breaks for air!

Once we were all set up and ready to go, we launched into 'The Mirror' and it simply clicked. I honestly wasn't expecting it to be anything near as tight as it was. It probably helped that all those present (besides your humble narrator) had played together in some form or another before, but it seemed almost effortless. I was absolutely dumbfounded. We tried the epic. Same thing. A-mazing. Lee was a happy man! We ran everything through twice I think before Mrs Abraham showed up with lunch. After scoffing that down we got straight back to it, with Mrs A filming us on the handy video camera, which surprisingly captured the sound quite well. Check out the videos at the bottom of this 'ere blog. The big rousing solo I was so worried about flew nicely, and the slightly wanky one in 'Face The Crowd' also seemed to fit the bill, albeit with a few flubs. Come on, I only had two weeks!

The Band I...




After parting ways with the rest of the band, and with big smiles on our faces, Lee and I went back to Abraham Heights to knock out the video before dashing off for a cheeky pint. Then it was time for me to get a train homeward bound.

A cracking way to spend 24 hours! I'm now celebrating the success with a rather nifty bottle of red (any excuse) and writing it all down before I forget how magic those few hours were. Proper job!

Til next time
Chris "reminds me of my first shag" Harrison