Monday, June 25, 2007

Artists at The Crown, Horwich Sunday 24th June 2007

From the top: Rachel Appleton Band, John Cleys, Sandra Cleys, members of Write Out loud including the famous Gonzo attempting to read the smudged notes on his hand.
24th June saw an extra Riders event at the Crown in Horwich. It was to have been in the beer garden (car park) but the weather forced us inside. This was an interesting gig as it coincided with Horwich Carnival, bike races, Morris Men, various drunken groups and all sorts of other attractions. Horwich was actually hermetically sealed for the day with only the more intrepid motorists getting anywhere.

Things eventually got underway when a tardy Gonzo poet surfaced and MC’d the occasion. After Paul’s inimitable ‘Intro Poem’, I was shoved on first, kicking and screaming, to play a few instrumentals and blues for 20 minutes. Then the magical Gordon Zola did a great stint including ‘The Mating Game’, ‘Folk song’, ‘Blackpool Rock’ and ‘Sweet Rapper’. All these went down very well with a loud, fluid ever-changing crowd.

Then the star of the gig, Rachel Appleton did her first set with her band. I’d heard these before but they were still great songs with that lilting, haunting voice of hers. She too seemed a little perplexed by the odd nature of this carnival gig but her stuff was very well received.

After the break, Paul read his ‘Economic Refugee’ then I did an old blues and two of my own songs, ‘Flustered’ and ‘She Knows’. Even Paul seemed to like ‘Flustered’, so now I know. Dave Morgan regaled us with his Hovis poem, one about daffodils, another about Harry San, a Green Party manifesto, the Shulpa Shetti joke and his anti-corporate masterpiece. All went down very well.

Gordonzola did his ‘Mr Tambourine Man’ then and Sandra Cleys had the audience in fits of laughter with her poems which range from an ode to dogpoo, Marlene Dietrich style to her excellent piece on being in your pocket. John Cleys proved his stamina and tenacity in the face of a rather chatty audience by rattling off a litany of works without pause for breath. Go , John, go!

Rachel’s second set was all new stuff which I really enjoyed. ‘Blackwood’, an A minor job, was excellent: ‘a year of isolation / summer’s stretching on’. ‘Let Good Things Grow’ was a D key droner which I would have preferred with some sort of middle eight but still very competent. Then ‘Here in the water’ in E and ‘Hideaway’ which was really good: ‘nobody’s gonna teach the kids about the sticks and stones’. The best new number which concluded the set was ‘Forever Long’ , an F modal job with some very interesting changes and some mint lines such as ‘Put all your tranquil vibes around me’. Rachel has a good sound going on here and the addition of percussion this time certainly lifted things.

I presume this was a one-off gig, but it did show that the artists concerned are well-received by the general public, not just the aficionados and no one was booed, bottled or heckled. Well done to all performers.

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