Wednesday, 24 March 2010

542 BILL JANOVITZ, Stephen Hero, London Camden Dingwalls, Monday 28 January 2002

Rachel and I were part 1 of a 2 car posse up to London for this one, setting off later at 6.15, but still parking up in Camden at 8.30 and into the venue straight afterwards. And we popped straight to the backstage door where I used the name of our mutual friend, The Gravel Pit's Ed Valauskas, to get Bill out to say "hi" to us. Surprisingly, he remembered me from our Q Division meeting in Boston, back in August 1999, and was happy to chat!

Took a viewing point from the ramp by the side of the stage for Stephen Hero, aka former Kitchens Of Distinction frontman Patrick Fitzgerald. His new numbers, stripped back to either voice/ acoustic guitar only, or voice/ keyboards only, retained the shimmering emotion of KOD's work, and Patrick still has the melancholic longing in his voice. Good thing too - we can't afford to lose such emotive vocalists!

Our Car 2 members turned up halfway through the set, having lost their way, and this gave me an opportunity to introduce a passing Bill Janovitz to a surprised - but quickly composed - Tim! Bill himself came onstage at 9.15, one man and his guitar only, and straight into "Mineral" from 1992's "Let Me Come Over" album. A chilling rendition ended on a slightly incongruous note, as the "you're so green" hookline melded into "it's not easy being green", the Kermit The Frog song! Nevertheless, Bill made it work! After a second, new, number, Bill announced that "one new one following one old one" was the agenda for the night, which suited us fine! Predictably, the Buffalo Tom numbers received the most welcome receptions, particularly an unannounced "I'm Allowed", and the mesmeric set closer "Larry", which stripped back to just Bill's rough, dynamic voice and battered acoustic, set the hairs on my neck on end. However, the new numbers were excellent, emotive and slightly folky, which bodes well for the solo record!

An excellent set, punctuated by Bill's friendly, down to earth banter, was topped by a stunning "Taillights Fade" and a raucous newie "Long Island", which got everybody singing the hook, like an old sea shanty. A messy, slightly off-key "Wiser" - "one song too long," according to Bill - was an inappropriate end to an otherwise consummate and superb set. And after a long wait (during which Bill ran out of CD's for sale - bah!), he signed my set list! Cool - certainly worth the coughing fit I endured on leaving the venue!

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