Back to the Running Horse for another “Acoustic Wednesday” bash, and another chance to catch undoubtedly the hardest working man in rock/folk/whatever, just playing music, these days, namely Mr. Gaz “have guitar, will travel” Brookfield! This represented the 5th time in just short of 4 months that I’d seen the man “live”, although as it was the first since the Miles Hunt support slot, a massive 41 (!) days ago, I might have been getting Gaz withdrawal symptoms…!
I was also suffering from a gyppy tummy so nearly re-thought this one, but went along anyway, hoping that it would be quiet so I could grab a seat. Luckily it was, early doors, so I hopped onto the sofa just left of the performance space in the bar area, then stayed pat for the night! Andy Oliveri, a small bearded chap who later claimed his dad looked just like Danny De Vito (entirely plausible really!), came on just after my arrival at 20 to 9, and played some dour, downbeat acoustic stuff with a slightly nasal, occasionally yodelly vocal lilt which reminded me of someone, probably a US Alt-Country singer, couldn’t quite place it… He was more upbeat in between numbers than his occasionally pastoral, wistful (“I’m going for “heartbreaking”,” he announced at one point) material suggested; still, a diverting ½ hour.
Gaz popped over to say hi just before his set, then recoiled when I told him about my ropey tum. Too many gigs lined up, can’t get ill, can’t blame him… Gaz opened his set at 9.30 with “SN1”, his jolly jig extolling the virtues of our home town, and featuring some excellent percussion on the guitar! A lovely, melodic “Frank And Sam” followed; I dunno, influenced by those two he may be, but I reckon he’s already surpassed both… He then introduced a chugging “Limelight” with, “this is a half-hearted moan [about supporting other bands]; it’s a pretty decent life really, I get to play and get pissed!”
Gaz was, as ever, on top form tonight, commanding the attention of the chatty tables at the back with a few wry looks and his inescapable talent. “Be The Bigger Man” was as dynamic, impassioned and in-your-face as ever (“I’m available for children’s parties,” he announced at the end of this profanity-strewn rendition), then the subsequent “Tell It To The Beer” was a touching Pogues-like lament, “about being in a band that never got anywhere,” before “Thin” saw the whole pub singing along – as requested – to the soaring hook.
“Nearly forgot this one,” he commented toward the end of the set, to which I insightfully (!) replied, “you can’t, it’s your Christmas single!” Oh yes, a Gaz Brookfield Christmas single, a re-recorded “Diet Of Banality”, going up against the annual chart invasion of the “X Factor” wannabees with this wonderfully pointed diatribe against manufactured music. A “win-win” situation for Gaz, this; as he puts it, if it’s a total flop, it kind of proves his point, right? This, however, was the set highlight tonight; a galloping, tub-thumping rendition recalling The Wonderstuff’s “Don’t Let Me Down, Gently”, and featuring a highly appropriate middle eight steal from Ronan Keating’s “When You Say Nothing At All” (“this bit isn’t on the record… come on, they’d sue my ass off!”). A rousing, singalong “Under The Table” finished off a full hour set, by which time Gaz, as usual, totally owned the place. Great stuff.
I’d been joined on the sofa during the set by Liam and Stef, so we had a brief chat afterwards, then I congratulated Gaz and headed off home through the murk. Not too long until the next gig from this inevitable future superstar, I hope!