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OOTB 19 – 7 Mar 2002

Unlike the week before, last Thursday was jam-packed with musicans all night, so we had a very full bill indeed. Musicians, eh? As unreliable as buses. You wait for ages, then they all turn up at once . . .

Anyway, Jim and I got the show on the road by playing two songs, then Derek reprised part of his set of the previous week, turning in an especially fine version I thought of “Operation Overload” (“All we seem to do is work/Going berserk”) and adding a song called I think “All For One” which had the tricky technique of switching from strumming to finger picking, but I thought it enhanced the dramatic nature of the song very well. Dammit, I want to see Derek’s musical. If Bill Gates was even half a man, he’d get his fat nerdy arse down to OOTB and give us all enough money to record NOW.

OOTB debutante Darren then weaved his pop magic, utilising an electric guitar and drum machine in the process. He had a melodic, strumming poppy style that worked very well I thought, it was music that made me feel happy, even though it concealed lines like “Your wisdom’s etched into my brow” and “River of life/Wash away my dead leaves” in the song “Sensible Life”. Great use of the whammy bar in the deceptively simple lead breaks too, conjuring great curling phrases out of his instrument. Apparently Darren will be bringing a keyboard sometime soon as well, so it augurs well for more pop pleasure in the future.

First timer Neil was the next performer, and was quite different from Darren, employing an uptempo strumming style and friend Fraser on the boom of the duburka. “Breaking Traffic” had a great high vocal, and “Out Of Breath” used the house capo to good purpose, shifting the register of the guitar so that it sounded almost like a mandolin at times, complemented by the urgent rim shots and polyrhythmic shenannigans on the djembe from Fraser. I’d like to hear those songs again, as I enjoyed them very much, so hopefully Neil will come back soon.

Graeme McDonald, sporting an extremely stylish black and white Danelectro electric guitar was next, and played three songs of pure pop beauty. “Bloody Makes The Earth” had Norman Lamont playing the duburka like a man possessed, he must have been practising, I think. It always amazes me that Graeme can play the harmonica and guitar so well AT THE SAME TIME, he’s got no right to be doing that sort of multi-talented thing. If you want to hear more, Graeme’s got some CD’s that can be purchased for the ridiculously small sum of £3, and I intend to do just that the next time I see him.

Free Loading Frank, now fully revitalised after his ‘flu, hit the stage next, and roared into a superb “Bloodshed On The Way”. His “I’m In Love WIth A Woman Called Scum” was preceeded by his showing us the advert in the national press from a couple of years ago that inspired the song. Up until that point I was never sure if Frank was making it all up, but now I know he wasn’t. And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s all a bit complicated to go into here, but the song is great and well worth listening to. “This Song Is So Easy To Play” (Yippy Dippy Doo Dah) closed the set, though what the Waverley owner Ian, collecting glasses upstairs, made of lines like “I take drugs almost every day/I’ve smoked all my brain cells away” is open to question. A storming set.

Stormin’ Norman Lamont (sporting a damned fine grey striped zebra shirt) and Graeme then set out their musical wares, opening with the poignant “The Desert Was Better” which had Graeme doing an Ennio Morricone, all echoing guitar lines as if from a Sergio Leone film, which sounded great. “Holding On” followed, and turned slowly before us like a huge, beautifully painted fairground wheel, it reminded me a bit of Bob Dylan’s “If You See Her”, but it was a very good song in it’s own right, and one I’ve never heard Norman play before. The sound of a late night blues club of “Walking On Fire” concluded things, featuring some great hollering from Norman, and the splendid line “Been a pig in the dirt/A lover a leaver, a liar”, as well as a scorching blues solo from Graeme.

Then it was time for the mystery prize draw, which was won by Kevin Connor, who won a magnificent Magic Wallet. He was seen using it to try and swindle money out of Colin Donati and Frank, apparently telling them to put a £2 coin in it, and “magically” making it disappear. Colin and Frank were too quick for him though, and lost only 10p.

Then it was Stephen‘s turn, wielding a very nice slimline semi-acoustic Telecaster, which he used to set up a frenzied strumming style, complemented by Fraser (again!) on the duburka. The vocals were suitably impassioned, and complemented the mood set by the guitar, the whole effect being quite intense. A very nice ascending instrumental bridge in one song and some unusual drum patterns varied things well. Stephen normally plays with his band August ’81, so watch out for them around town. Despite his blatant attempt to steal the battery from my tuner by “forgetting” to take Stephen and Fraserit out of his guitar, I liked his set very much, and made me intrigued as to what the full band experience would be like.

Fraser (mentioned previously) was then on, and blow me down if HE didn’t have a drum machine as well. Drum machines, eh? They’re like buses . . . etc. (stop it – Ed). His powerful baritone voice wouldn’t be out of place in a contemporary rock band, and carried well in the room. He used some discordances in his guitar chords which I found interesting. Unlike when I do it, he meant to do them, as they were repeated succesfully more than once. Come to think of it, he IS in a contemporary rock band, his band Enki are playing the Bongo Club in New Street in early April, and I’m sure he’ll be down to OOTB to plug his gig before then. The last song had a great kicking drum track, but unfortunately the limits of the house PA meant that it couldn’t be pumped up to all it’s majestic glory, but it was still a good song, Fraser turning the monstrous beats on and off via a foot switch.

The vast, many tentacled collective consciousness that we humans refer to simply as “Matt’s Band” came next, squeezing their three people into the tiny OOTB stage. They’ve got a very melodic, open sound, each musician plays well and complements the other, creative space is left so that the sound as a whole is balanced and sweet. Their use of vocal harmonies was extremely ear-pleasing too, as was the bongos and shaker used by their percussionist. “Cellar Of Letters” and “Love Is False” showed the soaring vocals at their best, the style perhaps the half-brother of Travis’ Fran, but displaced to the American midwest.

Kieron returned to OOTB with Gareth on second guitar to play “It Won’t Do You No Harm”, which I thought captured the energy and style of some of Steve Marriot’s best work, which carried over to “The Fast Song”, which was indeed that, but more besides. He altered his vocal style for the last song, a more Jeff Buckley-ish style predominating, but this time augmented very well with Gareth’s lovely slide guitar.

Well, as you can see, we’ve had a lot of people passing through the silver curtain of OOTB over the last couple of weeks, and the quality and variety has been pretty incredible, in my humble opinion. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens this Thursday. Three keyboards . . . ?

Nelson

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