I wrote a whole post about politics, especially focused on food issues, but then I deleted it. Instead I’m just going to plug a few good, on more than one level, gigs coming up in Sheffield – see below. All I will say is that I hate that we are living in a country where the poorest are not only being kept poor, but are being asked by the government every day to be a bit poorer while they’re at it. Vote for Policies.
“You don’t need a dog to run in the woods, to talk to the trees and the birds” – My neighbour, Mike
I’ve gone on a fair bit about both dogs and neighbours over the last year, but get ready for this…it’s all come together:
I arrived home yesterday to find that one of my neighbours, Mike, had posted a card through my door. Not only was the card full of kind words about Dog, it also contained a CD. Mike had written a sort of response song to mine. I went to thank him earlier today (and of course I gave him a Neighbour of the Year sticker) and to ask if he would mind if I shared the song with you. Here’s Mike’s song, ‘Beware of the Dog’:
Thank you Mike (and Gillian too!)
Let’s look at that picture of my friends’ dog Ace wearing my hat again shall we?
A few people have asked me why we don’t do this one live. It’s because it’s made up of several layers of my voice and guitar, and to create a live version we’d have to quite significantly alter the arrangement/instrumentation to fit the band, which in my mind would change the song quite a lot. I like it how it is too much to do that but maybe one day we’ll give it a go and see if it’s better than I imagine. We’ll see!
Lyrically, this is the part in the anxiety cycle that came after the really low point of ‘I’ve Been Shot’, but at a time when I was experiencing some panic attacks and – as you can hear pretty plainly – when I wasn’t feeling myself at all. But at least I knew I wasn’t myself and I knew there was a better, happier me I had to find again.
This is the one that I wanted to sound like it could be in a Tim Burton film too – those harmonies towards the end.
The mirror’s wrong (Are my eyes open yet?)
It’s not my face (I saw you turn away)
I can’t see you (stopped dead in the road with your hand over your mouth) I can’t see you (just glass I’m looking through)
I let her go (she wasn’t having fun with me) She’s been around (come back, you took the best of me)
I can’t see you (you melt off the curb with the last of the snow) I can’t see you (just glass I’m looking through)
Richard Dawson came to Sheffield earlier this week and several of his songs are still on rotation in my head a couple of days later, keeping me company. I imagine it’s the same for most of the people that were there. This one’s particularly incredible:
It’s Sunday and I’m sat in my pyjamas on the sofa. I don’t have to go anywhere today. We’ve done a fair few miles over the last couple of weeks, so I think that’s ok.
After our unstoppable beginnings in Manchester and our smoother trip to Nottingham, we played a house show in Oxford, in the home of the former editor of Sandman Magazine, Sheffield’s indie bible back in the 00s.
On Tuesday we travelled to Birmingham and played at the rather beautiful Kitchen Garden Cafe. We also popped over the road to another cafe, Cherry Red’s, for excellent cheeseburgers and rootbeer.And I was given a lovely gift (thanks, Tony!) of this little solar powered light-up house. Note the tiny Neighbour of the Year sticker!
After the gig we drank wine and played Lexicon, which Hannah won 5 consecutive rounds of.
The next day we took a detour on our way to Cardiff into the Forest of Dean. It was such a beautiful day we decided to carry our instruments down to the River Wye…
…and filmed ‘Condor’, a song I wrote for Connie Converse:
And then Oliver and Katherine carried on playing…
That night we played at Gwdihw, an ace, gorgeous little place in Cardiff. Our guest that night was The Gentle Good, aka Gareth Bonello, who played an incredibly beautiful set accompanied by his wife Jen. I’m planning to bring Gareth to Sheffield in May, so watch this space.
It turned out that Jen there is a real master of zoology, and offered to give us a behind the scenes tour of the Cardiff Museum the following day, where we feasted our eyes on pickled spiders, cupboardfuls of beautiful beasts and birds and drawers filled with flies.
After eating the biggest sandwiches in the world (I failed completely)…
…we headed to London. We’d spent a bit too long (oops) in the museum and then we hit awful traffic, and ended up being 2 hours late for soundcheck, but it all turned out ok. Thanks to Ruth Barnes for hosting.
Me ol’ mucker Kev had come to see us, and I very much enjoyed getting the audience to boo him. He also got himself a Neighbour of the Year window sticker, as displayed here by him and his boys:
We were a bit giddy from a lack of food and too much booze as we left London, which led to us all confessing our secret love for Sheryl Crow to each other and singing along to ‘A Change Would Do You Good’ on youtube via Katherine’s phone in the car.
Somewhat sleep-deprived, and a little bit sad because we’d reached the end of this particular adventure, we arrived for our final show in Sheffield at the Greystones on Friday. It was the first time since Manchester that we didn’t have Mark Hadman with us and he was missed. Mark was our driver/roadie/tech support/sandwich locator/generally helpful wonderful man throughout the tour. THANK YOU MARK!
Sheffield gave us a very warm welcome home. We were filming this show for Sheffield Live TV, so it will be available to watch at some point. I’ll keep ya posted.
And so it ended. There’s nothing quite like travelling around with your friends and playing music every night in superb little venues. It was an amazing 10 days. Thanks again to Mark, and thanks to Chris at Hey Manchester!, Sam at Nottingham Indiepop, Jan & Emma, Brett at Kitchen Garden Cafe, James at Gwdihw, Chris at the Finsbury and Emily at the Greystones. And finally, a massive thanks to everyone who came out to see us on these cold nights and bought tickets and records, thank you thank you thank you.
The restrospective set:
Sheffield Shanty (The Bright Carvings)
Martin (The Bright Carvings)
Little Polveir (The Casket Letters)
Heart of Clay (b-side to Dirty Rotten Soul)
January (Roman Radio)
All This (Roman Radio)
Hedgehunter (I’m Across, I’m Ashore)
Straw & Hay (I’m Across, I’m Ashore)
Not Now, Horse (Neighbour of the Year)
March, March (Neighbour of the Year)
I’ve Been Shot (Neighbour of the Year)
Neighbour of the Year (Neighbour of the Year)
DOG (Neighbour of the Year)
Shelter (Neighbour of the Year)
Our next gig is at the Blue Sky Cafe in Sheffield on April 11th, as part of the ‘For The Common Good’ festival of events in support of the Sheffield Green Party. More details.