It has been pointed out to me that I haven't posted a review for ages, so here is one. It ain't (this is me hoping at this point) going to be one of my usual long rambling affairs, but last nights gig at Northampton was so bizarre - in an excellent way - that I thought it was worth a few words from me. I wasn't expecting much from this gig and neither was Nick, but there must have been something in his cooking lager that night, cos it was certainly the best Nick gig I'd seen this year.
[To be fair, that's not saying much, as I've only seen him four times this year due to work commitments and tonsillitus. I've already been slated by some (including Nick!) for not attending the Yorkshire gigs, but alas I was on a course in London, and the thought of driving hundreds of miles a day to see him seemed a bit mad. But I'll be doing something just like that later in the summer... more of that when we are able to mention it!).]
Anyway, for those who don't know the venue, it's a relatively old (I think) building that has been done out with a modern feel... which basically means it's hard (and cold) slate slabs on the floor, with trendy (?) iron girders holding everything up. Some of the rooms have big comfy sofas to sit on, but alas not where Nick was playing. Also parking at the venue is a bit naff, though it is opposite a massive long stay multistorey car park, that's just had £1.5 million spent on it. The car park looks rather good... so good that they now close it at night (fully lit) so no one damages it by something silly like parking their cars in it! Strange blumming council idea no doubt.
I was also taken aback by the big posters in the window of the venue that said "No Alcohol, No Smoking - and No Chewing Gum - you will be searched". Apparently these were for some event on the previous night that was aimed at 14-18 year olds. Even so, I can't imagine I would have gone to any event that strict when I was 18!
Right, enough rambling, on with the gig review. I missed about the first 10 seconds of the gig so I don't know if Nick had explained to the crowd why the stage was full of "things" - such as tables, chairs, table and floor lamps (switched on), bottles with candles in them (luckily not lit) and paintings of steam locomotives (!), so I just guessed that they must have been to do with a previous event - surely not the 14-18yr gig? [apparently he didn't know himself - how odd! - P.]
He started with Shadowlands. I've no definite set list, but to start with it seemed like the set he's been doing for the rest of the tour; stuff like Blood Songs, [new song] Treasure Island, Kilty Stone, Aeroplane, [new song] Seven Ages of Man... (including him doing his fixing the string routine), plus other new songs etc etc.
What really made the evening different was firstly Guitar Man. It was obviously sung and played as well it always is, but at the end when he was doing his Pete Townshend bit, he swung around and knocked all the "things" about on the stage. Both lamps were knocked over (and subsequently broke) and a couple of the bottles with candles went for a burden too - that's why I previously said that it was lucky that they weren't lit. This was REAL rock 'n' roll!
As he was doing all of this I noticed I was stood behind [excellent violinist and Friend of Harper] Fluff, which was a pleasant surprise... and in fact it was a surprise for Nick too, as he had forgotten that she was coming to the gig! Fluff then joined him on stage and did the usual (?) cracking version of Radio Silence followed by a song that I haven't seen since Paris last year, my good old favourite The Vampire Song ! Watching this being performed with Fluff on the violin was pretty awesome!
The next bizarre event (all these things definitely happened, but not necessarily in the order presented here!) was sparked off by a lone heckler ... I couldn't really hear what he was saying [rumour has it he was insulting the looks of a friend of his, just as the crowd got all silent, and it sounded like he was referring to our Nick, which got a big puppy dog look from Harpic and an 'awwwww!' from the crowd ;) - P.].
Whatever it was, it sparked Nick off on a real tangent. He picked up the big floor lampshade - now separate from its pole - and put it over his head! Now we are talking about a BIG standard lamp shade here - it covered all of his head and shoulders, and part of his chest, plus he obviously couldn't see a damn thing with it on. He then performed an excellent "modified" (with many references to lamps and lights ) version of his cover of You Brought A New Kind Of Love To Me, while wearing the shade. He even had time to play around with his "tassels"... [groan! - bad joke editor]
Very strange indeed! If anyone on this list was there and took some photos, then I'd love to get hold of them! There was a professional photographer there, so they may appear in some form in the future... He then continued to make gags (not necessarily very good ones ... hence I can't remember what they were) and little tunes about some of the other objects, including the picture of a steam train! He concluded the gig with yet more excellent versions of Love Is Music and Titties And Beer.
A truly truly bizarre, but very enjoyable, gig. Roll on Glastonbury... and the gigs that I can't mention [yet - but give us a couple of days! - P.]!
One last note from Paula: We would be remiss not to mention Stormcock mailing list member Jon James, who added: "I was at this gig and really enjoyed it, however it did give me cause for concern at a personal level as I went to loo before the start of the song when Nick donned the lampshade and on returning stood politely in the wings watching Nick for about five minutes, admirring the guitar playing as usual however totaly failed to notice the mans head was replaced by a large lampshade for a good few minutes! Guess I was more tired than I realised." Quality. ;)