We finally arrived at pub at
9:15 as John was part way through the usual set (and Demo album - available
at gigs and from the website), ALL GROWN UP. Those of you who
have Max Bacon's solo album, "The Higher You Climb" will certainly recognise
both this attention-grabbing opener and the following track (if I'm
correct in assuming it to be called "Hold Him Closer" on that album).
I don't as I've never heard the CD - and it's deleted now according
to the record company site. You'll just have to buy the original
versions from John!
There’s live Rugby on the pub telly in the background and before the next track John offers to back the Rugby match – with some Sports music he’s currently composing for TV. There is an agreeable reaction from the audience, though most of them are more interested in the match than the music. Instead, however, John launches into CLOSER, another Max used on his CD.
LIFE UNDERGROUND is introduced by John as he’s “not sure if this track is the one that’s going on the Kosovo album – it might be another one.” Unfortunately, I forgot to ask him afterwards which other track was in the running for the album. During the track John made a few minor mistakes for which he apologises after the song. His mind is obviously elsewhere at times.
WHEN I WAS YOUNG is played
to "Just to lighten the load a little" after the last track. This is
a third track from the aforementioned Max Bacon CD I believe.
After this sad announcement began a song about something in which you either believe or disbelieve: PALMISTRY. This sad loss explains the mistakes earlier in the set and John seems slightly distracted during this number also - thinking of Paddy as he sang.
IVORY TOWER begins with the tinkly 'musical box' intro, which always annoys me at these live shows. It seems just a little too shrill for my ears. On the CD it's fine and down in the mix compared to the vocals. Live, however, it's in your face (or ears) and louder than the vocals - a little on the distracting side for these cloth ears. This is compensated for by the fact that it's a lovely song and probably the longest of the first set. NOTHING AT ALL brings the first set to a close
Between sets Tracy and I had a chat to John about the terrible weekends we'd both had - both of which involved dogs in car accidents. A scary coincidence.
A little about John's show before going any further is called for, I think. John, as he says during most shows, would love to tour as a band - but can't afford to. As you may have realised from some of the comments above he does play along to a backing track - direct from the CD I think. Over the top of this he plays lead keyboards and sings in a very pleasing tone. The backing used to come from his trusty Mac - until it gave up the ghost sometime between the Whitchurch festival and the Toad and Stumps show. Since then he's started using a portable minidisc (MD) player for the backing track so the sampling rate may be the reason for the 'musical box' sound mentioned above.
Before the second set John initially
chooses the wrong track on his MD player. After this little slip he
takes no chances with a more major problem by tying his shoelace “before
I fall over”. Had that happened I'm sure he would have had the full
attention of the Rugby crowd. He then launch into what has become the
normal second set opener of BEETHOVEN, the CLASSICAL MEDLEY in
which the audience is asked to spot the references. I won't spoil
the surprise for those of you who have yet to see John in action, but
the last of four tracks is very brief!
Time for the epic of the set
next, CHILDHOOD’S END. This track was the standout of the
show the first time I saw John perform (at the Whitchurch Festival)
and I'm not sure why it's not on the Demo CD. It is certainly
much more proggy that the other material on that disc and one heck of
a good track.
Introduced as “This is especially
for my dead dog” John begins LOVE IS BLIND and the last orders
bell is rung. A final toll of for Paddy perhaps? John’s voice
is not quite it’s normal self yet – and he has a touch of a croak during
this number, though I’m sure that part of it was plain sorrow at the
loss of Paddy. There is a definite croak in the voice at the end
of the track.
Just the JY/Qango pages: The whole site: