Sunday, 23 April 2017

1,033 GAZ BROOKFIELD, Nick Harper, Swindon Holmes Music, “Record Store Day”!, Saturday 22nd April 2017

A Record Store Day that Logan’s not likely to forget in a hurry…!

I’m fairly ambivalent about the concept of Record Store Day; anything that shines a light on the need to keep local Record shops trading must be a positive, I guess, but I have concerns about the nature of releasing “rarities” which are bought by the early birds and then find their way onto E-Bay for twice the price. Being an “accumulator” rather than a collector, myself, never interested in buying things for their intrinsic “value” or “scarcity”, I’m also not likely to part with cash for the sake of it today. However, as with RSD 2014, when I enjoyed some stellar in-store performances from Adam Ant and Edwyn Collins (gig 912), I’d always be interested in some “live” daytime RSD shenanigans, so was up for a lunchtime performance in the ‘don by none other than our very own West Country folk/ punk troubadour and “live” staple, Mr. Gaz Brookfield!

The fact that it fell on a sunny Saturday lunchtime, enabling us to take the kids along, was a plus in itself, so Rach drove us into town and dropped me, Logan and Kasey outside the venue/ shop while she parked up. Had a nose around some vintage vinyl singles boxes, which brought back some memories, chatted briefly with the arriving Gaz and re-introduced him to the kids, then took a couple of stools to the side of the stage, which was set up in the shop window, to catch a midday set from Nick Harper. Lauded by Gaz and a bloke whose “live” set I’ve been meaning to catch for some time, his solo guitar set was drawn exclusively from his current double album “Riven”, and consisted of a few numbers featuring very complex virtuoso arrangements overlaying a proggy, 60’s post-psychedelic feel, often baroque and sometimes a bit menacing, viz. a creepy “Juicy Fruit Girl” about a rummage through his attic evoking memories of an old girlfriend. “Holiday On Earth”, a pretty ballad about the Avebury stones, which followed an aggressive bluesy number, was my set favourite, although the Buckley-esque closer about his mother ran it close. Chatty and voluble throughout, he interacted with the audience and spoke entertainingly on a number of subjects, although I have to confess his material largely fell outside my usual tastes and made this a set, much like Tin Spirits, which I appreciated and admired, rather than actually enjoyed.

Nonetheless, Gaz was up in short order, so we decamped as a family to the bottom of the stairs, stage left, for a closer view, Logan choosing to sit on a stool dead centre, right in front of one of his favourite performers. Appropriately, Gaz opened with a wry “Solo Acoustic Guy”, throwing in some puns for general levity, then remarking that, thanks to a late gig in Stourbridge the night before, playing at 1 pm felt for him like, “my equivalent of breakfast!” “March Of Progress” and a sway-along “All So Rock And Roll” were dispensed with; then it was time for “The Tale Of Gunner Haines”…

Logan had previously asked Gaz whether this, his favourite number from last year’s excellent “I Know My Place” album, would be in the set, and was delighted with an affirmative reply. So from note one, he sung along stridently and raucously, to the point that after the first chorus, Gaz remarked, “I think we should give this lad a microphone!” Then, after being pointed out that a spare mic was actually set up onstage, Gaz invited Logan up onstage with him to sing along! So it transpired that my 9-year old son joined Gaz in an impromptu duet for the remainder of the “Gunner Haines”, remembering all the words, and eliciting a comment of, “how awesome was that!” from Gaz at the song’s conclusion! Amazing!

There were other numbers afterwards; “Cursed” featured some additional detail about his wretched yellowy gold Fiat Punto (apparently it tipped passengers out of one side, and spilled water on the crotches of the people on the other side!), “The Ferry Song” was beautiful and plaintive, “I Know My Place” a thrilling punky blast, and, following the inevitable props for Holmes Music (Gaz remarking, “I bought my first amp in here! And my first guitar – that was a “Waynes World” moment – “I must have it…!!””), a rousing “West Country Song” was a fine send-off to another splendid Gaz performance. But inevitably, this was all about the Gaz/ Logan duet on “Gunner Haines” for me. Another proud dad moment, another amazing memory for Logan’s early gig-going days. Thanks Gaz! Roll on “All Roads Lead To Frome” and the full-band Gaz Brookfield experience!

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