5,7,5 – 365
8th November 2015
A haiku and a diary entry, every day for a year.
It’s Sunday and we have a gig tonight that Laila has been waiting for for ages. There are two telltale signs that reveal to me that Laila has been driving the car; the first is that the seat is too high and too far forward (I get my legs wedged under the steering wheel), the second is that Richard Hawley will be playing on the stereo when I put the key in (not so bad that one, I also like Richard Hawley). Today we get to see him play live for the first time, down at The Roundhouse, Camden.
After reviewing the train timetables, we decide the only way to realistically get there and back on a Sunday is by car. It’s easily a 2 hour and 15 minute drive each way and we are both working tomorrow morning, so it’s set to be a short sleep and a grim awakening on Monday morning.
Never mind that now though – it’s a gig, so we set off happy and head down with Giant Sand playing on the stereo – I’m driving and I get to pick the music. We arrive ten minutes before the doors open and join the queue. Ahead of us, right at the front of the line, is our friend Denise with two of her friends. We first met Denise at The End of the Road festival this year, whilst waiting for The Delines to come on stage. On that occasion we saved her spot while she went off to grab a CD. It turned out that Denise had seen every musician we’ve ever been to at least twice and then some. When it comes to music, she knows her stuff. Tonight Denise returns the favour by keeping a spot for us, so Laila ends up dead centre at the front by the stage. Being a giant, I stand behind her so as not to spoil the view for anyone. Actually, I realise that wherever I stand I will be blocking someone’s view but it’s the thought that counts.
We are treated to two brilliant support acts. A stomping set from Dancing Years and an eclectic performance from Meilyr Jones. Halfway through the first set we are joined by Alan, another musical friend, with whom we have also been to see The Delines. Unfortunately, Lynne, who seen The Delines with us too (twice actually), could not make it tonight, otherwise it would have been an even more brilliant bit of synchronicity and an even more lovely evening.
Eventually Richard Hawley mounts the stage with his band. Throughout the show he is handed guitar after guitar by roadie and guitar technician Gordon White, each one presented like a readied weapon to a tournament knight. There are, amongst others, beautiful hollow bodied Gretsch guitars, one old and very much played, and loved, others are like new. Similarly, we are treated to songs both old and new, the lovely ballads and the psychedelic anthems – it’s outstanding. I had challenged Laila to keep count of the guitars, but she is lost in the music and gives up quite early on. She is singing and smiling and wiggling around (much as I love Laila, she is no dancer, for every beat she manages to find a second, sometimes even a third) – afterwards she tells me that she felt as if he had been performing just for her.
At the end of a smashing gig we part company with Alan and Denise and walk back to car. The drive home gives us time to listen to some John Grant – this coming Thursday’s gig night.
Monday morning’s alarm is much, much worse than anything we could have imagined but it was worth it.
Standing at the sky’s edge
Guitars tuned and made ready
Playing for Laila