Final Gig With The Malc Evans Band

This evening and played my final gig with the Malc Evans band. We played for the second time at Cox’s Yard in Stratford upon Avon. The band, which has comprised Malc, Steve and I was augmented this evening with the backing vocals of Jacqueline, who looks like becoming a fulltime member of the Malc Evans band for future gigs. It was a bittersweet evening. I had a quick conversation with Steve regarding the position of bass player in Ministry Of Beaver before the gig and we played a couple of games of pool.

It wasn’t long before we talk to the stage and played probably the best set I have played with the band to date. Before one of the numbers Malc announced to the audience that it was my final gig with the band and dedicated the song to me, which was a nice gesture. However, I was surprised to see the other three members of the band on stage all wearing cardboard cutout heads of my own face. I hadn’t expected that!

The gig went really well and I thoroughly enjoyed playing for Malc and the band for this final time. I will miss playing with the band, but hope to see them as a member of the audience for some future performances when I’m not too busy with other things.

I have become good friends with Malc and Steve and I will miss playing drums with them both on stage. They are both very talented musicians and songwriters. For my brief time with Jacqueline, she seems like she will add a very valuable extra set of vocals to the band for its future performances.

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John Shuttleworth at Huntingdon Hall, Worcester

Went to see John Shuttleworth at Huntingdon Hall in Worcester last night. I had originally planned to see him at the Warwick Arts Centre in December, but tickets had already sold out some weeks ago. As it was, I only just managed to get a ticket for the Worcester date before they too sold out.

John Shuttleworth (aka Graham Fellows) is currently doing a series of dates under the title The Minor Tour (and Other Mythological Creatures). The premise is that his next door neighbour and sole agent, Ken Worthington, was inspired following a recent holiday in Greece to theme John’s upcoming tour along the lines of Greek mythological creatures, following John’s request to undertake a minor tour.

Fellows treated us to a couple of hours of mainly John Shuttleworth, but his other creations, Brian Appleton and Dave Tordoff also made an appearance – the latter by ‘live video link’.

The Brian Appleton character went down very well. Appleton is a (suspended) rock musicologist who makes outrageous claims about how he influenced key people in rock and pop history and accuses them of ‘dumping on him from a great height’. His theme last night was how he influenced the whole Progressive Rock genre, which of course was right up my street.

After the Appleton set (and a couple of his songs on guitar), we were treated to sneak preview of the upcoming John Shuttleworth film, Southern Softies, which follows on from his 2006 documentary, It’s Nice Up North, which set out to test the theory that the further north you go, the nicer people are. It’s Nice Up North was filmed in Shetland (as far North as you can get in the British Isles) and it looks like Southern Softies has been filmed as far south as you can get, in Jersey. I’m looking forward to seeing that film.

John’s songs featured the standard favourites, Y Reg and Pigeons in Flight amongst a few newer numbers. He was ‘called’ a couple of times by his agent, Ken Worthington, although the second time, Fellows was clearly struggling to get the pre-recording of Ken’s dialogue to play which caused him to have to improvise that Ken had put the phone down him and make up some dialogue. He coped admirably, and if he was flustered, he didn’t show it. The audience knew pretty quickly what had happened and it merely made us appreciate it more and laugh along with the situation.

It was a cracking evening of great comedy entertainment and I would recommend it to anyone, although you’ll struggle to get any tickets now – it looks like the tour sold out well in advance.

Oooff!

Ministry Of Beaver Gigs

The Ministry Of Beaver had a couple of great gigs this weekend. On Saturday we played at The Beer Engine, Coventry. Some of the regulars were there and the usual crowd of Beaver friends. Nice to see Jack there too. It was a great gig with some good audience response and we were immediately offered three bookings of our choice for next year. I always enjoy playing at the Beer Engine.

On Sunday, we played as part of the rescheduled Napton festival at The Assembly, Leamington. The Assembly opened recently and is a top-class venue, which is sure to host some pretty major gigs over the coming years, as it has a superb lighting rig and sound system. It’s also kitted out perfectly for live music. Paul, who often does the live sound mixing for Ministry of Beaver and works for the BBC, was consulted as to the venue set-up and the facilities back-stage are second to none, complete with locking dressing rooms and showers.

The Napton festival ran over the weekend and was headlined on Saturday by Bad Company, who apparently lived up to their name, when their drunken lead-singer threw his mic stand into the audience and then they went on to destroy their dressing room – a bit pathetic really.

We were the penultimate act on Sunday night, just before Sunday’s headliners, Jilted Generation, took to the stage. The on-stage sound was immense and the thrill of playing that size of venue was just fantastic. We played for just under an hour and made the set a little more focussed on contemporary material. I know that Andi particularly enjoyed hearing his guitar backwash from the venue – it’s rare that you get to hear yourselves making such a big sound.

It’d be nice to think that we’ll get to play there again. I hope so.