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We arrived to find that Mr S Hewitt had already got the room set-up, so there wasn't much to do until the man himself arrived, and when he did he and I SQUEEZED back through the THRONG downstairs to get some beers in. There was CHAT, which remained normal until he got his setlist pen out - all around peoples eyes lit up and the REQUESTS started coming in. "Well, that's another ballad" he would say, as we requested, well, BALLADS.
Soon it was time to kick off, which as usual started with ME leading the group in the singing of the theme tune. After I'd demonstrated the tune someone pointed out that it should be a bit more Christmassy than usual, so we all got our KEYS out and jangled them - it sounded rather wonderful! After this BEAUTY I launched into THIS:
The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
Theme From Dinosaur Planet
A Little Bit
Please Don't Eat Us
The Advent Calendar Of FACT
Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid
The Lesson Of The Smiths
I was a bit worried that at any point Otway would leap up and say "JUST A MINUTE! That's one of MY bits! And so's that! AND SO IS PRETTY MUCH ALL OF IT!!" but we passed through without incident. The highlights of the whole thing were Steve joining in for the children's choir on Please Don't Eat Us (which really needs some joining in there, or else it sounds a bit ... weird) and the EXCELLENT audience participation in The Advent Calendar Of FACT, aided by a song sheet. Best version EVER i think, I reckon that'll definitely be on the podcast!
After the traditional BEER BREAK Otway himself took to the stage. I'd worried about how I'd introduce him, but he said, joking "The Star of The Show!" when I began and I thought, well, yes, that's pretty much exactly it, and off he went.
Man! It was Otway!! As soon as he began the whole room was in the palm of his hand - the people who'd never seen him before were AGOG, smiling, laughing and generally being AMAZED, while those of us who'd seen him a good few times were delighted to see him in such a small, cosy place. There were the USUAL songs, with the USUAL intros, which was brilliant - I've heard some of those introductions more than twenty times over the years, but they're still funny, just because of the way he does them. Mind you, there was also some UNUSUAL stuff - "Her Eyes Were The Lasers Of Love" doesn't get played very often, I think, and I don't think I've EVERE heard him do "Remember The Alamo" before either.
The highpoint for me though came, as it so often does at an Otway gig, when he did "Poetry And Jazz". He did it in a speedy way, in the manner he sometimes does where he cuts out unneeded BEATS so it becomes a bit more like a poem or SPOKEN WORD sort of thing, which I was initially surprised by, but which made it even MORE moving. By the end a LOT of people were looking up, eyes moistened and hearts moved.
It was fantastic, and I can't WAIT to start editing it. He stayed for a couple of beers and a chat, and when he said goodbye you could feel the entire room RESTRAINING itself, pretty sure that you should just WAVE when someone leaves a room, but actually wanting to break into APPLAUSE. Marvellous!
And then there was time for a little more discussion before setting off - for lo! some of us had to be up early the next morning to fly to GERMANY! YOINKS!
posted 9/12/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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