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Blog: Walking Without Dinosaurs

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Friday was a LONG day full of ACTION and, mostly, WALKING.

It started at lunchtime when, after meeting Mr J Dredge for one of our regular CONFLABS/Sketch Thinking Meetings, i WALKED to the King & Queen to drop off posters for next week's Totally Acoustic (Thursday 11th 7.30pm, feat. Daniel & Norbert Dentrassangle and David Leach) then into Soho to Gosh! for comics, and then all the way back to St Pancras to catch a train to Leicester.

For LO! I was back in town for a PRACTICE with The Validators, although the practice wouldn't be starting for a good TWO HOURS after I'd arrive in Leicester - as per I'd had to roll up super early to avoid paying a MILLION POUNDS for a train ticket. Rather than just go and sit in a pub I thought I'd go for a bit of an old wander, so went off WALKING around FOUR of the SEVEN places I lived in during my 14 year stay in that marvellous city. THUS I strode across Nelson Mandela Park and to Brazil Street, marvelled at how much the whole Filbert Street/Upperton Road area has changed (a whole FOOTBALL GROUND has gone, as has a BRIDGE!), and visited Walton Street (home to many of the glory years of VOON), Eastleigh Road (where I lived in a bedsit) and then Paton Street (where I first shared with Dr N Brown). It was a lovely trip, during which I was continually and simultaneously AMAZED by a) how much had changed and b) how much had stayed the same. This was all summed up by my final stop-off in The Western, a pub that has ALWAYS been at the corner of Leicester's West End, but is VERY different to how it used to be. It's about three times as big now, having knocked through into another building, and has a THEATRE on top of it too!

After a refreshing and well-deserved PINT it was time to head over to Frog Island for practice, and I realised that, as Stayfree's rehearsal rooms are by the side of the canal, then surely I could just FOLLOW the canal from Western Boulevard to get there? I thus got to have a DELIGHTFUL walk beside the canal, only getting slightly confused for approx 2 minutes due to a JUNCTION, and arrived just in time to have my Canal Navigating SKILLZ witnessed by Mr T "The Tiger" McClure, who'd turned up in the car park at the same time.

Shortly thereafter 80% of The Validators were gathered in the rehearsal room - Mrs E Pattison was not attending, which was probably just as well for her as POO GOSH but it didn't half WHIFF in there. As I say, Stayfree is right next to the canal and you can certainly detect a HINT of DAMP in the rooms, and also the ingrained SWEAT of hundreds of (mostly) young gentlemen rocking out within them without ventilation.

We slightly less young but still VIGOROUS gentlemen warmed up our ROCKING MUSCLES with a go through of 20 Things To Do Before You're 30 then launched into "An Easy Christmas", which is going to be this year's addition to the Christmas Selection Box. In line with the sentiment of the song we decided to do it as easily as possible, and so it remained in "Full Hibbett Skiffle" mode. NB this is the style that pretty much ALL my songs start out in which is usually IRONED OUT by The Validators so they sound at least a LITTLE bit different for each other, but this time we went FULL ON into it. It felt GOOD, and so NATURAL that when I did a whole ENDING bit at the END everyone just went with it, ALMOST as if they had done exactly this kind of song a hundred times before!

Our next task, however, was not so simple. Last time we'd tried to work out a band arrangement for That Guy but had got comprehensively STUCK on the chorus. This had been caused by everyone focusing on the vocal medley in the chorus, which VARIES SLIGHTLY, and the fact that the third and fourth line are slightly different from the first and second and also each other. We're not used to that kind of complexity! This time we started afresh and went round and round and round, playing the chrous again and again and again until Tim found the right way to play it. One has to feel for Mr Pattison in these circumstances - the rest of us can get our INSTRUMENTS out at any time at home to try stuff, he can only WHACK drums in the rehearsal room - but eventually we got there. It took so long that Tom had time to pop home and get his Recording Device, and returned to find the rest of us having a lengthy, complicated, discussion about drum patterns. "Play the verse part in the chorus!" said Frankie, "and the riff bit in the verse, the jaggedy jaggedy one", I added. It all got a bit confusing, but eventually we got through two verses and two choruses (largely through Frankie saying reassuring things like "It sounds like Madness, honest!" whenever Tim questioned our direction) after which I pointed out that there was a WHOLE OTHER BIT to do now, and also that the adjoining RIFF bit was DIFFERENT the third time round.

Eventually we worked out that there were eight - EIGHT - different parts to the song! EIGHT!!! I didn't realise it was PROG ROCK when I wrote at it, but we worked and worked at it for over an HOUR so that when we eventually played the whole thing through from start to finish it felt like we had been on an OUTDOORS ACTIVITY BONDING WEEKEND together!

With that finally sorted we just had time left to try out the new Middle Section for Burn It Down And Start Again. The songs as it stood had been going well in practices previously, but I'd felt that it wasn't quite ENOUGH - with all the historic establishment EVIL coming out in the news recently I thought the song needed a bit more STUFF in it. I was right - if you heard the very foundations of the aforesaid establishment QUAKING at about 8:20pm last week, this will have been the cause.

With all that done it was time to pack up. Frankie was heading home and Tim to READING for an early morning meeting, so it was just Tiger and me who headed across town to see exactly HOW much The Hind had changed under new management. During my time in The Western I'd read an article about the changeover in "The Leicester Drinker" and was very happy to read that it now had FIVE of its five beer pumps working, as opposed to the previous NONE. I was less pleased to find when we arrived that they had an Open Mic night on, which mostly featured the WORST SINGER IN THE WORLD singing along to a karaoke machine at ENORMOUS VOLUME and dedicating songs to members of the bizarrely appreciative audience. You know that bit in talent shows when they get the over-confident LOONIES on to HOWL at Simon Cowell? It was like THAT!

Mind you, I guess anyone overhearing could have said the same for us, as The Tiger and I chatted excitedly about how the Album Of Hits is shaping up to be just that. As I've said before, the plan this time is to do a SHORT album where EVERY song is a HIT (where "HIT" translates as "a song that I can happily play at solo gigs and people will like it"). We ALWAYS have this as our plan but it never seems to come about - this time, hopefully, will be different.

And so it was a very jolly, very KNACKERED, very SWEATY Hibbett who got his tea in Tesco Metro before hopping on the train to Leicester. It had been a long day, but a VERY productive one!

posted 8/9/2014 by MJ Hibbett

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