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I have to be honest, as it got to 7pm last night I had the start of a cold coming on and I didn’t feel like going out. The problem was that my cousin Kevin had planned a night out and paid for my ticket! It was £20!!
It was the second leg of our ‘Gig Exchange’ game that we are playing within our family. As we don’t get the chance to go to many gigs nowadays, what with family and work commitments, we treat each other to a night out watching an act that one of us likes which the other may not have heard of. First up I treated him to a night watching Tortured Soul at the Jazz Café in Camden just before Christmas.
Last night it was a small venue named Jagz in Ascot and playing was a singer called Francis Dunnery?? I knew that he’d once been in a band called ‘It Bites’ who had a hit with ‘Calling All The Heroes’, but that’s where my knowledge stopped. I’m not the biggest lover of guitar based music and I was less than enthusiastic about going on a 1 hour journey from Leicester Square.
We arrived at the venue about a minute in to his performance. It was a small audience of about 60 people, but that was a sell out for this room. Kevin and I couldn’t get a seat so we stood by the closed bar. Yes, closed! Standing on the stage in front of us was a slightly balding Cumbrian man wearing jeans and a black t-shirt. He was playing his guitar so amazing well that all thoughts of complaining that I couldn’t get a drink left my mind. I just looked at Kevin and gave him the nod of approval.
His show was almost 2 hours long, just him and his guitar. That takes some doing. He broke up the songs with stories of how he developed into what his is today, which is a massive difference from his heady days as lead singer of ‘It Bites’. Don’t think it was a rant of bitterness, it was more an exploration into his state of mind at various stages throughout his career. He’s definitely been there and done that. At the end everybody in the room broke in to a huge round of applause.
To my left was a very familiar face, Chris Difford from Squeeze. He’s a fan and a friend of Francis and as I found out he isn’t the only famous singer to come to his gigs. Robert Plant is also a huge follower, so much so that he asked Francis to play on his ’29 Palms’ single back in the 90’s. Robert’s normally found sitting in the audience. WOW! If Robert Plant from one of the biggest bands in the world thinks he’s great then that’s praise indeed.
I got home at 00.30am and had to check Wikipedia because I was so curious to find out a more about Francis. What unraveled just blew me away. He was offered a role in Genesis when Phil Collins left, has written songs for Lauryn Hill, produced Ian Brown’s ‘Music Of The Spheres’ album and toured with the Beach Boys. Pretty amazing stuff!
Never again will I be so negative about going to a gig without giving it a chance first.
What a great night!
By the way, I’ve still got this cold…bad times!