A picture taken at
the QANGO show at the Dome, Whitley Bay.
The Little George
20 February 2000
Don't know - we arrived just as it finished!
BEETHOVEN (A CLASSICAL MEDLEY)
ON THE LOOSE
LOVE IS BLIND
YES / I KNOW WHAT I LIKE
The usual story
with John's gigs, new town and venue - late arrival. This time,
the Yellow Pages having failed me, I relied on the UK Progressive Rock
to find the pub. Big mistake. Their database seems to have John's
shows listed as either Qango or Greenslade (in which case few people
are interested in these bands or use the site) or, in this case, have
a link to a map to the WRONG PUB. I would advise you to check
their maps if you are in the same situation, just in case. If you're
looking for directions to one of John's shows, try my links. I
try to confirm (with John) the exact venue before adding a link to it.
If there is no linke it's either because I'm not certain of the area
or Yellow Pages do not have a listing for it. With this little
detour we wasted a good half hour driving around a little village, passing
three pubs and, eventually one called "The George". Asking within
they confirmed that we'd got the wrong place and that we should, as
expected, be looking in Chippenham. Ah well, a quick backtrack and then
a trawl round the streets of Chippenham. No sign of the pub (though
plenty of alternatives around) so we had to ask in a pub at the exact
wrong end of town. Directions from there seemed simple, back the
way we came, through the one way system and follow signs for Swindon.
One problem: none of the signs mentioned Swindon. Try the M4 I
thought. We did and ended up in an industrial estate. Obviously
the pub was not this far out of town! A quick backtrack and we
spotted the pub immediately - right in front of us, 2 miles back into
the centre of town. It had been behind our line of sight on our
way out of town! 21:30 by this time so we were obviously going to have
missed some of the first set - we could hear familiar music as we left
the car. By the time we made it into the bar, John was standing
talking to another convert from the Whitchurch Festival, Christian from
Andover, slightly surprised to see us arriving so late.
Between sets several of
the small, though enthusiastic, audience chatted to John, one offering
that he really needed a good band behind him and, ignoring John's
comments about QANGO, put forward his own bass playing services.
As usual the second (first
in our case) set kicked off with the classical medley known as BEETHOVEN.
John offered "A bit of a quiz with this one" though not for
Tracy and I as we knew the answers already. Just before launching
into the track John quipped, "See if I can remember how this version
goes?", a reference to the fact that Ode to Joy from this medley is
included in his QANGO solo. Needless to say he manages to remember
the piece, despite a "bursting pedal" during the track. There followed
a large round of applause from the punters, most of whom were engrossed
in the music. This appreciation and the convivial atmosphere made
for a much more laid back performance than the Gosport
show the previous Friday.
“Here's a track by a Canadian
band who still tour - but never in England!”, introduced the Saga
song ON THE LOOSE. After the applause the usual "now
they're old enough to go on the holiday" was rolled out to laughter
from the audience. John's mic still seems to be slipping down during
tunes - and there was a little feedback during the track as it drooped,
not helped by the fact that one of the JBL speakers was positioned
slightly behind the keyboards. I don't think there was much feedback
for the rest of the show - I think John lowered the mic level after
the track ended..
"Story time again..." and
the usual tale of a child's last night before turning eighteen "seventeen
years and three hundred and sixty five days" was interrupted by some
wag with a topical comment (OK - it was me, sorry) shouting "unless
it's a Leap year!" ?This, of course led into the progtastic CHILDHOOD’s
END. John commented that there "is a sad bit - which I'm sure
you'll spot" as he began the dreamy intro. The sad section is
near the end of the track, the slow part around the "... time to put
away your toys ..." line, tying the music nicely in with the end of
the dream. After this section the music builds to a crescendo
and, despite John mentioning the track having nothing to do with the
Marillion track/album of the same name, the die-hard Marillion fan
could probably spot a few 'widdly' keyboard runs which hint at Mark
Kelly's work in the early Fish era. Strange, but until the comment
at the Gosport show, I'd never noticed that section, nor linked it
to the early Marillion keyboard style. Obviously it's not a major
part of the work - and fits in nicely with the piece. As the applause
died down John added, "That's a little epic there!"
A quick mention for the
next QANGO tour next, "A UK tour in April with America before that".
before asking if Christian remembered Paddy and introducing LOVE
IS BLIND as “This song is for my dead dog". This poignant track
held the audience quiet and attentive throughout, though the ending
was spoilt as the final fade had the last orders bell rung over it.
A bit of a dumb question
next, "Do you want some Genesis?" as John had been standing near a
guy wearing a Genesis sweatshirt. Needless to say he shouted a hearty
"yes" as John led into the song with a YES inspired instrumental,
YES before becoming the second cover of the evening (and first
sing along), I KNOW WHAT I LIKE Asking if we "Would like some
more?" John was a little taken aback by the reply "Six more please!"
This was certainly a different audience to Olivers! The final bell
rang as John countered the call for something by the "Police" with
"I don't do requests". The disgruntled retort of "What are you
doing here then" showed that not all of the audience were open minded
or appreciative of some original music. Ah well... each to their
own I guess. At least the guy went back to quietly draining his pint
rather than slinging abusive comments around. OPEN SKIES finished
the set in fine style and after it the audince wanted more.
"Shall I try the new solo?"
asked John of me. "Certainly" I was happy to reply. John "Had to change
a few things to make this work" so fiddled around with cards and sound
changes before giving us the premiere of his solo dates "in
this sort of venue" version of PADDYDOG. He left out the "audience
participation this time" and had to draw the track to an early close
as the barman walked up part way through asking him to make this the
"last one, OK" The track drew to an evil sounding close when
John claimed that he "daren't go any further than that!", probably
because the next section would have repeated the Ode to Joy section
which he had already included within BEETHOVEN.
An extremely enjoyable
set, and a shame that we'd missed the first half of the show. In fact
most of the bar liked the music, it's just a pity that it was a Sunday
evening and that the bar was less busy than it could have been.
The situation was summed up by one local in that "it's still not long
since Christmas, and people are still recovering financially from
After the set I chatted
to the Genesis fan and learnt that not many bands play Chippenham
any more. The last major venue was Richard Branson's Goldiggers,
many moons ago. I'd not realised that Goldiggers had been outside
of London - having watched Marillion perform there on TV around 1984.
Small world - and one which shows my lack of suss about the geographical
location of venues in the UK. Of course, readers of these reviews
will know that my knowledge of out-of-the-way English pubs is seriously
lacking too, but that's another story.
Roll on the next show.