Nick at Cuckoo's Nest, Leek,
Thursday 28 November 2002 - by Richard Benjamin

I just got back from Nick's gig in Leek, and am now the proud owner of a tee shirt. I can make no comment yet as to fit. I got a large, in the hope I can squeeze into it, but right now it's far too cold to contemplate disrobing even to the slightest extent. I will say it's a pretty tight fit when worn over a tee shirt, shirt, jumper and fleece though. :-)

So to the gig.

We left Shrewsbury at about 7:10 and arrived in Leek at around 8:40, with Nick due on at 8:30. Luckily he was slightly late going on, but unluckily we ended up standing at the back of the hall...

Rant mode on: Why do some people pay 7 to stand in a large room, which is right next to the free pub lounge, only to talk non stop through the performance? What can possibly be so important to say that it can't wait until after the set, or at least until after the song? How incredibly thoughtless does one have to be to ruin the enjoyment of those around them? The only time they shut up was for Guitar Man, but fortunately for them Smithereens was next, so they could resume the conversation through a nice quiet song! FFS!!!

Rant mode off!

The first set was really good, in spite of the above. In the break I got my tee shirt. We also moved to a couple of spare seats in the middle of the room - not completely out of earshot, but an improvement.

And so to the second set. It was absolutely sublime. It seemed to me that Nick played a greater number of gentle and slow numbers than I'm used to, including a couple I didn't recognise. As if to emphasise this the encore was the best rendition I've yet heard of She Makes Music. That said it did follow an absolutely stonking version of Love is Music. A few bars into this Nick reached into his pocket and brought out a crumpled sheet of paper with his left hand (while keeping the rhythm going with his right). He said it was the words to a song which he was going to include - a song which some of us might know, but others might not (oh yes). Sure enough, after the Headless section, he launched into an amazing song, though I found myself in the latter category. Afterwards he did mention having played enough Jeff Buckley for one night [must have been Grace - P.]. Overall the high point for me was Magnificent G7, which I have had running through my head for days now. A gorgeous version tonight. The only thing that might have made the evening better was Flying Dog, which I still haven't heard him play live. I guess that just means I'll have to go to more shows... Oh it's a hard life! :-)

Late PS: In the cold light of day I should add that the gig at Leek was mostly great. Leek is quite a nice potteries town, at least by night, and the venue was pretty near perfect. The organisation seemed very good, and the vast majority of the audience were very appreciative and attentative. The problem was with about 5 people out of an audience of maybe 150. Added to that I think alcohol did play a part. Paradoxically they came up with the loudest whooping and shrieking applause at the end of each of the songs they'd barely listened to! I would refute the idea [on Stormcock] that UK audiences take Nick for granted. Chatting to people at the gigs, some of whom are first timers and others who have had the privilege of seeing him before, the overall feeling is one of awe. He is certainly far from "a local chap at the pub" in people's eyes (and ears)... he is very, very hard to take for granted live.

Created 27 May 2003
© RB/PLC 2002-3