Thursday, 20 December 2012

868 GAZ BROOKFIELD, Middlenamekill, Swindon The Victoria, Wednesday 19 December 2012

And just as I thought my 2012 gig year had come to an end, here’s Gaz Brookfield to prove me wrong! This one, a hastily arranged “BBC Wiltshire Introducing” Christmas Party cum farewell bash for the 2 presenters, was both a warm-up for Gaz’ high-profile – and sold-out! – Fleece “Apocalyptalooza!” show this weekend, and also one which confirmed him as my most prolific “live” act of 2012; his 6th appearance this year in my hallowed gigbook/ gigblog, drawing favourable comparisons with the likes of Seafood’s 7 showings in 2000, and The Gigolo Aunts’ 7 in 9 months between Reading Festival 1993 and their Stuffies’ Brixton support slot (Rachel’s first gig) in April 1994! Some exalted company indeed, so good on you Gaz!

However, I firstly was forced to perpetuate my current gig parking nightmare – I found one final parking spot in the second Old Town car-park I tried after a rainy drive up the hill, only to find, after wasting loads of time trying, that none of the ticket machines were working! This delayed my arrival at the Vic until 8.45, missing the opening act but catching Middlenamekill, 4 hefty blokes in truly hideous bad taste dad Christmas jumpers, playing an equally hefty brand of post-millennial Emo punk which was formulaic but actually quite listenable. So I did – and took the requisite step forward when asked to by the imposing vocalist. 4 big blokes – don’t argue! Gaz was rocking down the front as well, reliving his hardcore roots.

Checked on the motor between acts, arriving back in time for Gaz’ soundcheck. My first time of seeing him perform with his full band, although shorn of violinist Ben Wain who apparently had something better to do! Still, backed with a standard 4-piece line-up (including guitarist Jamie Trowbridge, who was a scarily authentic Gaz clone!), Gaz launched unannounced into opener “Diet Of Banality” at the conclusion of said soundcheck. And “launch” was the operative word – the thing took flight like an intercontinental ballistic missile, this galloping, breathless number being even more powerful and even more like the Stuffies’ “Don’t Let Me Down, Gently”, with the full band treatment! The “conning money out of kids” line was delivered with especial irony given his current legal tightrope-walking, and a pointed comment about musicians getting sued underlined this.

This set the tone for a superbly delivered set, the band adding many extra layers and dimensions to Gaz’ material, and Gaz responded with increased venom and conviction. “Limelight” was brilliantly ragged; Gaz commented on the conclusion that, “when you replace a rehearsal with a gig you’re going to end up with a shambles!” which was not too far wrong, given some technical hitches, but t’was a glorious shambles, a ragged and wonderful mess. "Under The Table” was a tremendous booze-soaked swaying anthem, but that was topped by the as-ever brilliant “Be The Bigger Man”, Gaz in full flight for this, delivering 100% effort and energy, a wonder to behold. The full house responded to Gaz’ exhortations to sing the “Thin” hook with gusto, prompting the man to remark, “and that’s why I love this town!” A final, fitting “West Country Song” was another rousing singalong, to end a fantastic and indecently short set.

A few words with the man afterwards; I declared, “[after that band set] I’m never coming to see you play on your own again!” Only joking of course, as we parted with mutual Christmas greetings and promises our paths will cross again in 2013. It was rather fitting that Gaz’ 6th show in 6 short months rounds off my 2012 gigging year, and there’ll be more to come next year from this splendid performer!

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