Progress. Rock. But not Prog Rock.

hoylake oxjam poster

The poster for Hoylake Oxjam 2013. Like a futile game of “Where’s Wally?” – don’t look for my name, coz I’m not on it!

Well I must say, last Saturday evening’s appearance at the Hoylake Oxjam 2013 was… an interesting experience. If you weren’t there (and I know you were there, but I know for a fact that you – yes you! Don’t turn around boy, I’m talking to you! – weren’t) here’s how it all went down.

I was scheduled to play the 8:30 to 9:30 slot. Obviously you’ve got to make way for the next performer, so I figured I’d be doing a 45 minute set, which at the rate I get through a song equates to about 20-odd numbers with some of the usual inane rambling between tracks.

My ex-partner in the semi-legendary acoustic soul duo The Snags, vocalist Sofi Nieto, was due to play the slot before mine, so my friends and I headed down early to catch her performance in her new – though not quite as semi-legendary – acoustic soul duo Nala.

When we arrived, the place was jam-packed. The event had been on since lunchtime, the sun had been out all day too, hence there were a lot of rather merry folk in the crowd. The musicians were having to vie for attention with the UEFA Champions League final which was being shown at the opposite end of the room. You could barely hear Sofi’s vocals over the din; as for JP – her new guitarist –  he might as well have been playing unamplified (oh hang on, he was – the mic he was using hadn’t been switched on by the PA guy. Sportsmanlike chap that I am, I pointed this out to the PA guy and it got sorted).

Things were running late and some of the schedule had been rejigged, so my 8:30-9:30 slot got shifted and compressed to a 9:30-10:00 one. Out of the window went all the subtle finger-picking numbers, the introspective, heartfelt, minor key compositions. Fortunately I had come prepared (last year, my set list was comprised almost exclusively of introspective, heartfelt, minor key tosh) and my half hour slot became nine straight-forward, upbeat, major key rockers.

I had originally intended to do a 50/50 set, half covers, half originals. As it happened, I only ended up playing three covers (by Crowded House, The Waterboys and Squeeze) and six of my own. Seriously, this is another step forward for me – not so long ago, I used to turn up at a gig with the intention of playing a small handful of my own songs but then bottle out and not play a single one. On Saturday when it came down to it, I actually wanted to play my songs. And some people actually danced to some of mine – outrageous!

So, just like the playing to one man and his dog gig a couple of weeks back, this latest playing to lots of very drunk people (no dogs) worked out fine in the end. I’m now positively looking forward my next gig – and that, ladies and gentlemen, is real progress.

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