Dough, The Stuff They Make Bread With
Jenny Takes A First Look At Life
Every Single Time
I Like, I Like, I Like
Keep Away From Me
I Love Roxy
Jimmie And Johnnie
Life In Hollywood (followed by a couple of jokes you can't tell any more)
Cheap Little Trashy Doll
Mr Templar/Wooden Heart
All I Have To Do Is Dream (Everly Brothers)
I Saw Her Standing There (Beatles)
It's All Over Now (originally Valentinos but was the Rolling Stones first
Hi Ho Silver Lining (Jeff Beck - Roy didn't know the second verse so sang My
Old Man's A Dustman instead)
Out Of Time (Rolling Stones)
From Me To You (Beatles)
Yellow Submarine (Beatles)
After Roy and Chas very kindly organised some rather festive Christmas snow, resulting in a move from the original date, it was good to say farewell rather belatedly to Christmas with the annual CNM farewell bash.
I had it firmly fixed in my mind that the Ram Jam was the place to be, so off I headed after ignoring suitable Deepdene warnings that not only had they managed to move Christmas but also managed to move the venue. I'm sure it won't be long before CNM organise some time and space travel or maybe next time we will all just be spaced out. Arrival at the Ram Jam, after a patient wait trying to get a car park space was somewhat worrying. The only thing advertised was a comedy club. Hmm... my thoughts wandered, was that last night, I knew I should have read that Deepdene newsletter with the same level of interest than that Octopus, took in the world cup.
Ah but, perhaps the description of CNM on the billboard was just a bit reserved, ignoring the wonderful tunes singing and playing and the ritual of audience participation or is that abuse and highlighting the comedy? A glance through the door, revealed 6 people in the front row all patiently waiting for a laugh, with two people shyly hiding behind not wishing to be the brunt of the comics gags. If only they had known my predicament it no doubt would have raised the biggest laugh of the night. This was already turning into a CNM night to remember. A swift call to the guru of all things gadgets to check on really where I should be and an about face 2 mile return back to the Royal Oak in Hampton, which is where I should have been in the first place. I wonder if the council will refund my car parking charge.
10 minutes later arrived with loads of time to spare, saw a couple of CNM on stage having a fiddle - with their instruments, so knew I was in the right place. Walked back to the car, bumped in to Chris Parkins, not literally and walked back again to the pub by which time Roy and Chas had gone off for a "cup of coffee". By the time they returned they brought hampers galore and started handing out Christmas puddings ahead of their really special present of their musical offerings from their musical heritage.
Now I'm not going to repeat the set list, I'll leave that to a better man than me, Pete where are you ?? but after being joined by Dick, that's me, not on stage, they uniquely started and then finished (more of that later)the show with Geroge's bar - although at the end it had turned more into Georgie's or is it Georgina's bar.
Any way this Christmas treat was going swimmingly, plenty of lusty singing of both the male and female variety and Roy set a new record of starting the gig only 15 minutes later than schedule. His timekeeping is verging on the impeccable. With a curfew at 11.00 just as well too.
Pub gigs are , let me just say "interesting". The first set finished and to catch up a bit of time the second set started well on time. This is old hat this time keeping lark. A few more joyous tunes, a few that were a little deeper, but mostly all of great fun indeed one or two by the end had decided that some festive dancing was well in order adding to the merriment of the occasion.
I think that must have been lost on one particular gent embedded in the delights from the contents of the bar who decided to upset those sat around him... a little "distraction" ensued as the landlady..fair play ..removed him from the premises... a barring order on the way methinks. One or two drinks were spilled as he wobbled his way out, but the band played on, what professionals ! More took to the dance floor. At 11.15 Roy said last number, to booing and hissing from those enjoying the evening and calling out "Carry on Roy" , but then again it might have been Cry No More.. such was the cacopheny and din. .....11.20 finished .... in at 9.15 out at 11.20.. a new record.
Or was it ?
More catcalls and requests for Carols, looked to be falling on deaf ears, but one member of the audience took it upon himself to check with the landlady if an encore was OK ... fair play despite the little earlier "issue" the answer came back with a positive response. An encore we thought, that'll be another 20 minutes and three more songs and a few tales knowing Roy.
By now the pub had also been invaded by a host of Angels in regalia... it was Christmas after all and it was not long before a request from one of the party made a request and Roy said come up and sing the chorus. Well that thing led to another , and another and another and it was not long before Roy had his own quartet of angels on backing as well as a troop of go go dancers.
Some very imaginative on the spot changes in lyrics and the party was now really swinging, in a joyous sense. Roy diversified from the usual Cry No More material into things requested or otherwise found in his covers catalogue .... 4 or 5 of these ensued including "Yellow Submarine" which was sung heartedly be the congregation, but requests for some "Britney" by the onstage choir, fell on deaf ears. A very different end to a CNM special which had now joined up seamlessly with a very "happy" Hen party, one of whom planted a very large kiss on Roy's cheek as she draped her arms around him.
Very cleverly as the clock approached midnight it was back to George's bar but with lots of "Georginas" still around and a CNM finish.
I may remember more later, but then again I may not, in at 9.15 out at 11.55 ...a new CNM record unless you know better, although wasn't it 1.15 a.m. once at the Turks ??
Ooh ....did I mention "Switzerland" No..... neither did Roy ..but the whisper is it is finished !! ...
Great time with Cry No More at their postponed Annual Farewell Christmas Appearance, which was snowed out in December, and reinstated for 22 Jan at the rumbustious Royal Oak in Hampton. A lively merry crew in place when I got there - some perhaps a little TOO merry, and at least one was ejected rather forcibly! Great to see Celia looking so well asfter her recent op.
CNM were in great form, opening with "George's Bar". Highlight for me: watching Roy with a new strum, daring Chas to guess which song he would do in that style, and suggesting that the rest of the night's repertoire could follow this pattern:, this, unusually evoked a response from Chas, fairly negative as it turned out.
Many of the usual evergreens such as "Jenny", "Marion Jones", "Sleep", "Keep Away From Me", "The Gambler", "Small Adventurer", "FASHION", "Falling" "On Holiday" and "Roxy" were of course de rigeur (the last especially for John, who was outed as a country fan). "I Like I Like I Like" had a rather different treatment to the more usual four to the floor approach, and one song ("Temptation" I think) benefitted from being in two keys - the right key after first starting off in the wrong key! And of course, the backing tape supported epics, "First Kiss", "Oh Sharon" and "Sixties Baby" are always a joy. Missing in action this time out were Roy's celebrated monologues, despite a call for "Sheep" on a couple of occasions.
Persuaded back for an encore after two sets, though well past the supposed 11.00pm curfew, the boys launched into the Everly Brothers' "(All II Have To Do Is) Dream" - Roy commented that some music pubs have been shut because of loud bands, and encouraged the audience to shut this one with our tuneful and loud middle eight vocals !! A second, and we though the last, was the Beatles' "I Saw Her Standing There". By now though the room had filled up with a load of girls (and an obvious mother/aunt) from a hen night, who were invited up on stage by Roy, and stayed there for four or five more classic numbers - "Out Of Time", another two three Beatles - "Yellow Submarine", "From Me To You". Finally bashing out another go at "George's Bar" to escape - we all replied to Roy's request "What d'you want to drink, Roy?" in time-honoured fashion, and 'twas done. An unusual but highly amusing end to a great gig.
There's always the worry with a Cry No More Farewell concert that one day it really will be their last gig, but any fears that the Royal Oak was to actually be their last performance were abated when Roy announced that instead of rehearsing, they had been watching American Idol, and had decided that next year Cry No More would audition for the X Factor. I dare say that this could all be down to a misunderstanding as to what the "X" in X Factor actually means, but I am looking forward to the news that Cheryl Cole has had a coronary after hearing "Life In Hollywood".
As has already been reported, CNM were true to form and started just a few minutes later than the publicised 9:00. A more mathematics-aware band may have planned to play for fifty minutes, have a twenty minute interval, play for a further fifty minutes, and thus finish at the allotted time of eleven o'clock, but Roy and Chas were never ones to conform to the accepted norm, and it was clear when the first set ended about quarter past ten that it would either be a very short second set, or it would be a late evening. None of us quite realised exactly how late it would be.
It was already shaping up to be quite an unusual Cry No More gig. The only one of Roy's set pieces that he performed was, "Dough, the stuff they make bread with", (to the tune of the Sound of Music's "Doe a Deer"), and there was very little swearing. Roy even managed a scatological interruption to "George's Bar" as a cautionary tale as to why you should never flat share with him, with nothing but the most demure of English. After they had finished, though, things got decidedly more surreal. Already some twenty minutes past the scheduled finished, there was so much clamour for an encore that the landlady relented and allowed another song. Roy and Chas retook to the stage, and were invaded by a hen night, who kept them playing for over half an hour. Cry No More are not known for doing covers, but they did a remarkably fine job, although lack of knowledge of Britney Spiers songs did mean they couldn't fulfil all their requests.
A whole new career has opened out to them. Cry No More: available for weddings, christenings and Bar Mitzvahs. Maybe we'll see them on X Factor yet.
Never Let A Day Go By
The Princess of Pain
In The Breeze
A Movie, B Movie
Taller Of The Two
Keep Away From Me
I Like, I Like, I Like
I Love Roxy
This Is Where The Pain Begins
King Of The Wilderness (with Steve Whalley on mandolin, who stayed for the rest
of the set).
Come On Down To Kent
Every Time You Say Goodbye To Me//
All I Have To Do Is Dream (Everley Brothers)//
Singing In The Rain//
Good For Nothing //
Hot Diggity Dog//
I Just Don't Know Anymore
Don't Leave Me Here
In 1851, few people recognised the genius of Van Gogh. Not particularly surprising, as it was another two years before he was born, but even so, he was hardly appreciated throughout his life, and it was left to history to realise that he was a genius. Roy Hill, too, is sadly underrated and overlooked, but history will one day realise his true brilliance. To say that he is a unique talent would undervalue him: there are thousands of unique talents. Roy is up there with the best of them.
As a singer-songwriter, there's little point in suggesting comparisons, as I could put people off as easily as attract a new audience. Roy has a wealth of material he has written over the years to draw on, including a west-end musical. Some of his songs are wickedly funny, some heartbreaking. Many can be interpreted as a little bit naughty, and I wouldn't recommend you take a nervous grandmother along to see him, but he has written some truly beautiful songs.
As a raconteur, think Peter Ustinov. In his heyday, Ustinov, as a guest on Parkinson, could hold your attention for hours. Apart from Roy, there are very few others you could say the same for, (although as far as I know, Roy Hill never appeared on Parkinson). (And come to think of it, Ustinov's language tended to be slightly less blue).
In thinking of a comedian that could be offered as a comparison, my first thought was Tommy Cooper. With most comedians, if you have heard them tell a joke before, you feel cheated if you hear them repeat it. I was never fortunate enough to catch Cooper live, but I feel sure you could see him perform the same gag over and over again and still demand a repeat. There would probably be riots at his shows if he didn't do the "Bottle - glass - glass - bottle" routine. Another similarity between Tommy Cooper and Roy Hill is that Cooper would act as if he thought of himself as a master magician, and part of Roy's act is to pretend that he believes that he is a master guitarist - "Jeff Beck taught me that riff", and a master impersonator - "Dear Jim, could yow fix it for me".
I think the closest comedian, though, to Roy could well be Spike Milligan. Like the Goons, there is a logic to Roy's humour that is perfectly consistent in it's own universe, but is somehow offset from our normal reality. The first time you hear one of Roy's stories, such as 'Sheep' or 'Barber Jim', you laugh because you can't quite believe he could possibly have said that. The next time you hear it, you laugh because you imagine others in the audience being equally perplexed. The next time you hear it, you laugh because you appreciate his perfect comic timing.
Spike Milligan is equally renowned for his bouts of depression, and Roy too suffered from a bout of depression around 2005. During that period he wrote and recorded 37 songs, and for the last five years he has been working on putting together an album of some of the titles. Because of the depression, the songs sometimes feel to him as if they were written by someone else entirely. Some days he quite likes the songs, some days he hates them. Some days he thinks the album, 'Switzerland', is nearly complete, some days it's back to the drawing board. At a moment of optimism, he had scheduled the 26th of September as a release date, and had organised a gig at the Ram Club for the release.
After having waited a mere five years, no one was too surprised with the announcement that it wasn't quite ready yet. We were all delighted, though, with the fact that as compensation, Roy would be including an EP of four tracks from 'Switzerland' in with the ticket price. A gig and an EP all for a mere £5. A true bargain.
In fact it turned out to be more of a bargain than expected. The first set, (Roy solo) lasted almost exactly an hour, but the second set (in which he was accompanied for the most part by Steve Whalley (ex Slade) on mandolin) lasted for almost two hours. It was extremely close to being Monday by the time it finished.
Part of the delight of a Roy Hill gig, (or of a Cry No More gig where Roy is joined by Chas Cronk), is the audience participation. Roy enjoys a good heckle almost as much as the audience. He ended the first set by saying we should have a sing-a-long, and someone (I won't mention any names, but let's just call her Lindsay) called out for the song "Torn". "Torn", if you are not aware, is a track from his new album, and, like most of these songs, is (a) not yet very well known by the audience and (b) fairly dark and depressing, so not particularly suitable for a sing-a-long. Roy rewarded the wit by playing both "Torn" and "I Love Roxy" (which is perfect for a bit of audience singing). Of the tracks from "Switzerland" that I have heard, "Torn" is one of my favourites. Although dark, it is extremely beautiful, so I was very glad it was played.
Another very funny heckle occurred during one of Roy's spoken set pieces, "Ouch", in which Roy describes how difficult it is for him if he's in the kitchen when the phone rings, because he insists on being bare foot, and keeping the floor strewn with drawing pins. Before reaching the punch line, someone called out that he should get a cordless phone. Very few comedians could have coped with such a heckle, but Roy managed brilliantly.
As with Cry No More, Roy and Steve had not rehearsed, and though Steve has played a few songs with Cry No More before, most of the material they played would have been fairly unfamiliar to him. This wasn't a problem for either of them, and it was fascinating to see how they fed ideas to each other. Several songs ended up lasting a lot longer than normal, as neither musician wanted to stop the other in mid-flow. A few incidental chords from Steve would suddenly cause Roy to think of the Everly Brothers and they'd branch off into "All I Have To Do Is Dream", or Steve would add an accompaniment to one of Roy's spoken pieces, and they'd find that they were playing "Singing In The Rain". Very good fun, and a real privilege to watch such talent and spontaneity.
The highlight was probably "Marion Jones", which came in at around fifteen minutes, owing to an extended break in the middle during which Roy told a few tales of things that a young Chas Cronk had got up to, on the grounds that Chas was away touring with Strawbs and so couldn't defend himself.
All told, a great evening, and perfect compensation for the album not being quite ready. Just means that we've got something else to look forward to.
I'd just like to add my own observations of the free EP handed out at the gig. I've been playing it over the last week and the four tracks are now very very firmly embedded in my brain. As Roy has mentioned several times in the past (and in the interview I did with him last year, which is on Strawbsweb under "Features" in case anyone would like to read it), the lyrics to these songs were written while he was suffering from undiagnosed clinical depression.
To me they represent a bizarre combination of predominantly dark (or even darker) lyrics and pleasant, frequently jaunty and hummable (think fairground/ice cream van) tunes. One major appeal of Roy's songs for me is often the gargantuan dissonance between what I am hearing musically and what I am hearing lyrically, and the songs on this EP take that to previously uncharted territories. I can imagine for anyone who has never heard Roy before and doesn't know his "lighter" material or that he has a great voice (not to mention his "Dish of the Week" photo and blurb which I spotted in a girl's magazine in the late 1970s!) these songs could be a bit disconcerting unless, possibly, they are suffering from a mental illness or personality disorder. Much of it is whispered by Roy and sounds very much like a guy I was once knew who had had his voicebox removed.
Continuing with your mention (Pete) of van Gogh, having played these tracks several times I now just have to look at the cover to conjure up my own vivid image of Munch's "The Scream". There must be some kind of use for that conditioning! Each track is powerful in its own way -
"The Poison Hole" - fascinating, quite hypnotic musically, and with lyrics that most of people would probably too ashamed to admit have ever resonated to some degree. Not nice. More tea vicar? But not Roy.
"Switzerland" has an interesting little spoken prelude, social observation/commentary (gossip!) at which Roy is a master. A bit of bitterness, a hint of humour and charming cocktail lounge music lend a backdrop to lyrics which make as much or as little sense as anything else in life.
"Refugees" - very dark. Black in fact, and a painfully wonderful mismatch of elevator music and lyrics. It finishes with what sounds to me like a clip from "The Birds" from the Hitchcock film. Scary stuff!
"Torn" (my chosen singalong last week - see Pete's review - thanks for obliging Roy!) This song, with its air of drama and barber shop harmonies conjures up scenes from a Lloyd Webber production for me. Of course, being Roy's, the message has a certain complexity not usually found in theatreland warbling.
Roy's son Jamie has added some lovely guitar sounds on two of the tracks, and Roy's partner Celia explained to me that the image of an open window was actually taken by her in Switzerland.
To say Roy Hill is not everyone's cup of tea is an understatement approximately the size of China. However, if in the same way you may appreciate visual art not simply for its beauty but because you appreciate difference, non-mainstream, thought-provoking and extreme bravery then you should definitely give Switzerland a whirl when it comes out. Which we have been promised will be very, very soon. Or else.
Roy began the evening with an exceptionally long preamble, including much banter with the audience. The preamble included his world famous impersonation of Jimmy Saville, the tale of Colin Smidden the tiny tightrope walker, and "Sheep". Due to a lack of any attempt at a set list, Chas had no idea whether he needed to start with his bass or his twelve string, so sat on the stage reading a magazine, patiently waiting. When Roy noticed, he grabbed the magazine, and made out that Chas was looking at a small ad from Miss Moist, a young lady holding a truncheon and a set of jump leads.
A few minutes into his preamble, some late stragglers arrived, so Roy started from scratch, commencing with "Good evening ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to one and all." He'd just launched into "Sheep", when more late stragglers materialised, and Roy greeted them with another: "Good evening ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to one and all." Fortunately he continued with "Sheep", rather than repeating the whole of the rest of the banter.
It doesn't matter how many times you see Cry No More, and no matter how much you think you have prepared yourself for the unexpected, Roy has a remarkable ability to surprise you. If asked before hand I would have put money on Cry No More not including "Part Of The Union" amongst the running order, but by way of celebrating the fact that Chas was about to leave for a tour of Canada and the States with Strawbs, they actually played POTU! Well, to be honest, that isn't strictly true. Chas was playing "Sixties Baby" at the time. In case you'd ever wondered to yourself, "what would it sound like if you merged "Sixties Baby" and "Part Of The Union" together?" I'm here to report that the two songs blended perfectly. A sort of you-can't-catch-me-I'm-a-sweet-little-sixties-baby portmanteau.
The other thing totally unexpected, was Roy introduced "I Love Roxy" with his usual "Any Country Fans?" in the audience, but instead of "Roxy" he played "Rawhide". Chas joined in with gusto. Yee Hah. Rawhide then degenerated into an equally countryish song that I'd hazard a guess might have been called "Hot Diggity Dog", which then degenerated further into a slightly less countryish song about a Scotsman in pink dungarees with his bottom sticking out of the rear (I think it was called "I Must Be In Love With You"). Before they actually got round to "I Love Roxy", Roy had also thrown in "Ouch", (a tale of how he keeps drawing pins all over his kitchen floor) and Frank Ifield's "I Remember You", which itself was interrupted with "Dinner With Joan".
They had three requests during the interval. One for "Without Eddie", and two for "Watching The Diamond Disappear". Chas feigned ignorance of "Watching The Diamond Disappear", so Roy mimed the title for him in case that helped. Unfortunately, during the interval the bar had been playing a CD, which hadn't been turned off properly, and began clunking like a stuck drum machine during "Diamond". The problem was quickly resolved, but it did give an odd percussive addition to an otherwise beautiful song.
All told a remarkable night, with some stunning bass from Chas, most notably in "Sleep", the best version I've ever heard, in "Temptation", where Chas manages to make his bass sound like timpani, and in "Don't Leave Me Here". Somehow, whenever I hear the Acoustic Strawbs' version of "Ghosts" and Cry No More playing "Don't Leave Me Here", the bass causes so much tension that I forget to breathe. Never known another bassist who can do that. Kicking myself for recently posting a version of "Sleep" on Youtube. This version was so much better.
Half way through "George's Bar", Roy noted that they had already run twenty-five minutes over time. Undaunted they carried on with "Part Of The Union", his Dylan impersonation, his Bruce Springsteen impersonation, "Sixties Baby", "Keep Away From Me", and "Wooden Heart".
Do not expect an early night if you go to see Cry No More.
It was indeed an excellent gig, shame you couldn't make it, Lindsay. In fact a lot of people couldn't make it, there were just 29 people in the audience, a fact which Roy made great fun of - 'I've never played a gig where I know everyone by name before', and 'Normally you could turn to the person next to you and say what sh*t this is - but there isn't anyone next to you!' (paraphrasing a bit).
But the venue only holds about 70 people when full, so it wasn't 'embarassingly' empty, and the audience were nothing if not enthusiastic - as you can hear from the sound of people singing along on the video. And Roy rose to the occasion, he really put his heart and soul in - absolutely the best I've seen him since the 40th last year. It helps, I think, that it was a 'paying' gig - only a fiver, but the 'free' gigs they do are less satisfactory - people at the free ones don't shut the f**k up when Roy switches from 'jokey' to 'shivers down your spine songs about the human condition' mode. (I spoke to Roy about this - he fully agrees, he said the free ones are mostly about 'damage limitation').
And Chas, as usual, had his 'straight man' persona down to perfection, getting numerous laughs just from his quizzical expressions (and his slightly panicky ones where he's evidently trying to work out what the hell Roy is going to do next...)
"Mr Templar" was a request - I don't know if he'd have played it anyway, but they did a few other crowd pleasers, e.g. "I love Roxy" among others (see Pete setlist to right).
They were having so much fun, they overran by at least half an hour. An absolutely fantastic evening.
See you at the 'Switzerland' launch on the 23rd?
The Tyger (lyrics by William Blake)
Sea Fever (lyrics by John Masefield)
-Stranger in my Home Town-
-Happy Birthday, Roy-
-Beat Me, Baby-
Everybody's Crying Mercy (by Mose Allison) - introduced by Steve as simply "Mercy"
The 13 Question Method (by Chuck Berry)
Cry To Me
How I Met Chas
Doobie Brothers Badges
Sweet Little Sixties Baby
-On Being 60-
Welcome to Kent
As You Do
Dancing in the Danger Zone
I Love Roxy
Good For Nothing
Dinner With Joan
King Of The Wilderness
Last Night On Television
-Ma Plume Est Dans Le Chien
-Here They Come-
I Remember You (by Frank Ifield)
Medley - Falling/ Templar/ Wooden Heart
Cry No More are profligate these days, we've moved from one gig a year to frankly hundreds my dear. But a Roy Hill special is still something to be cherished, particularly a special event to celebrate the centenary of one Mr Roy Hill (oops, sorry, he's only 60, but then he doesn't look that either ... frankly he looks younger than me and that REALLY pi**es me off !).
Didn't make the 5.00 start owing to other commitments (Scouting For Girls at Doncaster Racecourse the night before, and then a chat with them at the hotel - nice boys ..), but got there just after Steve Whalley's set finished and missed Phil Martin's opening set entirely (sorry guys ..).
Cry No More did a short set of some of the EMI classics including "The Gambler", "Sleep" "Landslide" and "Temptation", Chas limited to bass and 12-string, without the booming bass pedals. After an interval Roy returned solo, with a set of some of the newer bleaker material from Switzerland, interspersed with a few of the crowd-pleasers - "I Love Roxy", "On Holiday" and "Sixties Baby". Of the darker material "Knapsack" was particularly jaunty (though bleak).
Cries for "Oh Sharon" were rightly ignored, but a plea for "Dancing In The Danger Zone" resulted in a rare opportunity to hear Roy perform this bitter classic solo. (Always astonishes me that Roy can pull the lyrics to all of his songs out of his brain at the drop of a hat. These days I have to work hard to remember Strawbs lyrics .. ah well.)
But the revelation was the four-piece. Cry No More Augmented. We've seen it coming. Steve Whalley has added his instrumental and mandolin-hero gurning talents to CNM before (usually in a state of well-disguised panic, as ever, not quite knowing what Roy will do next). And Phil Martin on fiddle has backed Roy solo before. But the four together delivered something qualitatively different, the two melodic instruments trading solos, and blending together pretty damn well. "George's Bar" was the opener of a cracking set which included suicide anthem "Join Me", and a middy sedate "FASHION". And the grin on Roy's face showed that he too appreciated what he'd pulled together. More of this four piece please. Soon.
Of course, some of the classic anthems came out to play - "Sheep", "Barber Jim", "Joan", "Gasmask", "Kent" (there was obligingly someone from Deal in the room), "20p", "Eileen Dover" and "Hubert"; and then a final Roy solo set, finishing of course) with "Templar" and "Weird Wooden Heart". For once the call and response "What d'you want to drink Roy"/"(expletive deleted)" was repeated without demur - who of the gathered friends and fans-become-friends (Roy on his MySpace talks about "both of his fans" but clearly numerical ability has been lost to him in his declining years, as there are many more) could deny him, especially as he'd been on water all night, with a stated intention to visit Shitfaced Island after the gig.
Cake was served. Delightfully decorated, and a welcome scoff. all in all, a splendid way to celebrated a sixtieth. Great, friendly venue (my first time there) if a little warm earlier on.
A splendid way to finish of a weekend of music and celebration. Shame chatting about it to Lindsay back at Greener Towers took until 2.00 am. Monday was a bit wasted.
My attempt at a set list from Roy's 35th celebration (above). Sadly, not sure of the titles of everything, particularly Phil's and Steve's songs, so where I've guessed I've put -hyphens- round the titles.
For Roy's set pieces such as Sheep and Barber Jim, ie those that aren't songs, I've used italics.
The Steve Whalley track that I've guessed might have been called Happy Birthday, Roy wasn't just Steve singing "happy birthday to you....". It was a full blown song that he'd written especially for the occassion, harping back to Cry No More's early days in the Mulberry Tree. A lovely song which even included an extract from "Oh Sharon". Well somebody had to sing it.
By the way, not sure it's ever been mentioned befoe on Witchwood, but if you wondered who Steve Whalley is, he took over from Noddy Holder, and was in Slade for 15 years. (That's the band, not the fictional prison.)
Hope I haven't made too many mistakes. Hopefully Dick, and others can correct anything I've got wrong.
Opportunity for a major Chasfest last weekend, with Chas Cronk playing three separate gigs with three different bands on two consecutive days. Sadly, I only managed two of them, but recognised several people at both gigs, so I am sure someone managed to take in all three.
First up was the Hampton Hill Summer Festival. This was the first festival held there, and was in support of local charity Shooting Stars, a hospice for young children. Shooting Stars has long been associated with music, as the parents of Marsha McDonnell, who was murdered by Levi Bellfield, discovered that Shooting Stars was a charity that their daughter supported, so in honour of her, they staged several charity music events.
The whole of the high street was decked out with balloon modellers, face painters, a dog show, and all sorts of other similar attractions, with a stage erected in the mews outside the Shooting Stars head office.
Didn't arrive in time to catch the first two acts, Groove Academy and Will Cherry, but saw the third act, Storm. Storm was a little too heavy for my tastes, but absolutely brilliant, none the less, not least because all members were still at school. They played several hard rock covers, some of which I'm sure I recognised, but not being too familiar with the genre couldn't guarantee I could name correctly. They also played several of their own compositions, all very excellent pieces of music, one of which, "Walk Across This Line", can be found on Youtube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=afEjmgei_RU.
The next act I had been looking forward too ever since I saw the poster. They were called the Ukay Ukes, and were billed as a duo of Ukulele players I had incorrectly guessed that they were likely to be two members of the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, but I was mistaken. As a result, I was quite disappointed with them, but I dare say that that was down to my own misconception rather than anything wrong with them. Basically, they played their ukuleles along to a pre-recorded sound track, which seemed a bit of a let down to me.
Cry No More, of course, was the main reason why I was there, featuring Chas Cronk on bass, and Roy Hill on lead. I don't think it would be possible to see Cry No More without laughing heartily, but this was definitely the most hilarious I have ever seen them. If you have seen them before, you will know that they can be a little blue, and are definately not what would spring to mind if asked for a recommendation for a family fun day. Roy tried manfully not to swear knowing that there was an audience full of children, but the more he tried the harder it got. Within the first few minutes he was apologising.
He started the act by leaving the stage entirely, Chas trying desperately to look as if this was all planned. Roy returned with a pile of set lists to demonstrate that they normally could chose from around 260 songs, but with children present they were limited to only two songs. At the end of the set, someone from the audience called out "What was the second song?", which had everyone, Roy included, in stitches.
The first song they played was not "Life In Hollywood" as Roy introduced it, but "George's Bar". This was quite lucky as "Life In Hollywood" is definitely not one of their most family orientated songs. This was followed by one of Roy's spoken set pieces, "Dinner With Joan", and then "On Holiday".
The next song, "Falling" was extended to almost prog rock length, coming in at around eight minutes. The reason for this was that Roy insisted on dragging all of the charity collectors up on to the stage and making them join in. They all seemed to have a fantastic time up there, and I am sure that all of them will have become life long supporters of Cry No More. I really don't think I have ever laughed as much. "F.A.S.H.I.O.N", "Sixties Baby", and "Temptation" followed, and then they had run out of time, and should have left the stage to make way for the next act. Roy has never been very good at finishing on time though, and felt that the evening would not be complete without "I Love Roxy". It would not have been fair, according to Roy, to have left us without an example of his amazing skill in mimicry. Well, I've seen Cry No More many many times, and am still waiting, but in the meanwhile he gave us Jimmy Saville and Lester Piggott.
As is customary with Cry No More, they won't leave the stage without playing "Wooden Heart", which includes quite a bit of audience participation, including an exchange where Roy calls out, "What do you want to drink Roy?", to which the audience normally respond, "F*** off". Luckily, most of us were too busy laughing. Me, I'm still chuckling.
Didn't stay for the last band, Old Fiddle Workshop Band, so sadly can't review them.
To ruin an otherwise perfect day, I received a parking ticket whilst I was there, which I think was ever so mean, considering that it was a charity event. There was no parking restrictions in place, and on the other side of the road there were signs up asking you to park half on the road, and half on the pavement, so that's what I did. However, apparently the signs only applied to that side of the road. so I was fined for having wheels on the pavement.
Consequently, I would have happily recommended Hampton Hill to anyone, but now I would caution anyone on going there. Donate your money to Shooting Stars by all means, but do it from home. Mind you, if Cry No More are back there again next year, I dare say I'll be back.
Photo by Pete Bradley - more live pictures
Hubert part 2
Keep Away From Me
Tears On The Ballroom Floor
Dear Mystical Man
What a Palaver
Only Love That Matters
I Love Roxy
We Love You Chaswold
Wooden Heart medley including
* Terry Watkins
* Dinner With Joan
Second time at the Royal Oak this year. That's almost a residency.
Highlights for me were "Tears On The Ballroom Floor", (not sure I've ever heard that live before, and the bass line was just out of this world - I'm sure Chas has been taking lessons), and "Sleep" which recently seems to have undergone a makeover with some truly breathtaking bass pedals.
Slightly more subdued crowd than last time, but there was still plenty of rowdy cat-calling from the audience, and I think everyone had a fantastic time. Roy was so on form. I'm still laughing, particularly at his introduction to "Oh Sharon". I won't repeat any of it, but I'll never look at a copy of The Observer again in the same light!
Always a pleasure, never a chore to schlep over to West London for A Cry No More show - just over an hour and a quarter door to door, a personal best. And you know ladies and gentlemen, I think I can shave a few minutes off that time. A few new entrants to the set tonight - don't think I'd heard "Louisa" before or the two-part "Hubert". And it was nice to hear Roy do a near solo "Luxury" in the second half. "Landslide" has had a nice "pedals job" done to it - very eerie and menacing - and "Sixties Baby" is one of my personal faves - always gets the dancing crowd up.
Dear Mystical Man
That's Life (Life In Hollywood ?)
Keep Away From Me
We Love You Chas Cronk
What A Palaver
Only Love That Matters
Jenny Takes A first Look At Life
I Love Roxy
Don't Leave Me Here
Cheap Little Trashy Doll
Still stuck with a grin on my face from last night from seeing The Second Leg Of The Cry No More Farewell World Tour.
Spoilt for choice as Hud was playing with the Good Old Boys just down the road.
Fairly sure I had seen Cry No More play at the Royal Oak several years ago, but either the pub had been completely revamped, or it was a different pub. Ended up getting my bottom pinched a few times last time I was there as the stage was just in front of the toilets, so punters were forever pushing past the audience to get to the loo, and my long hair caused a bit of gender confusion to those en route.
No danger of that happening this time, as the stage has been rebuilt on the opposite side of the room. It's a beautifully lit stage, with mirrors on either side to enhance the lighting and the views. The backdrop to the stage contained the venue's website so from where I was standing, Roy was tagged with the "Roy" from royaloak. Very appropriate.
Roy was kind enough to thank me for writing a review of last week's Turks Head gig. He said he liked my review so much he had sent a copy to his lawyer. I cracked up with laughter, and stayed that way all night, regaled by Roy's humour.
Cry No More aren't just about humour, though. Love their music too. Some beautiful bass pedal work by Chas, particularly on Sleep and Small Adventurer. They played an almost perfect set-list, covering just about everybody's favourite songs.
There was a huge contingent from The Mulberry Tree Choir there, who all seemed to enjoy themselves as much as me. Being in a bar, there was a bit of background noise and chatter, but just about everyone there (and the bar was very full) was an ardent Cry No More fan, so the chatter wasn't too bad. Particularly on the audience participation songs, such as Fashion, and I Love Roxy.
Chas and Roy had been told that the music had to finish by eleven o'clock or else the pub would loose their licence. They did their utmost to finish on time and it was only a little bit after twenty past when Roy had to announce that they simply could not play another note.
Made an attempt at a setlist (see right), but with Cry No More it's not easy. As well as the more conventional songs, there is a broad spectrum from a capella songs, chants, poems, stories, jokes down to just plain tirades of colourful language. Apologies if I've missed something, or have got the odd title wrong. Maybe Dick can correct me.
Splendid evening, in front of what seemed to be the entire Mulberry Tree chorus, reunited in the pub literally a the end of Chas's road (used as the dressing room, Roy and Chas went back to change there after the show and were back in the pub in no time). Always thought of Cry No More as a duo, but in fact they are a trio, as the audience call and response material is such a feature of the show - particularly this one !
Last time I saw CNM in the Royal Oak, I think they were performing at the side of the room, standing precariously on a stage made out of beer crates. Now the Oak has converted the window area into a flashy slightly raised stage, nicely lit, perfect size for CNM or say Acoustic Strawbs. Looks like the owners are making a big thing of it being a music pub - good for them, as quite a number of pubs no longer offer live music as council regulations make it too difficult or costly.
Similar setlist to the earlier show, with a few Mulberry Tree crowd-pleasers thrown in for good measure (Roy wasn't about to get away without some positive twirling). The sound was excellent, particularly bringing out Chas's excellent backing vocals. The use of the bass pedals (only recently I think becoming a big part of CNM's setup), is just right - adding some great swishy noises in just the right places, and filling out the sound nicely. And of course when the big backing tape numbers come up ("First Kiss" and "Sharon"), you've got a whole band up there and a crowd of dancing maniacs down here.
All parties thoroughly enjoyed themselves it seems, band as much as audience - looking forward to more, more, more, more, as the song goes.
Dear Mystical Man
Keep Away From Me
Joan Isn't Dead
See What Sorrow Can Do ?
Death And Hell/Terry Watkins
What A Palaver
Say You'll Be Mine
I Love Roxy
I Like I Like I Like
Don't Leave Me Here
Every year Cry No More put on a farewell concert, but they had made it very clear that this performance, unlike any previous 'Farewell' concert, really was to be their last. This was to be their final gig together, after which there would be no more. Ever. Absolutely never again. That's it. Over. Finished. Well, unless...
It was therefore of no surprise, but delightful, when Roy Hill announced that they were booked to play at Hampton next week. If you haven't yet seen them, do try and catch them soon. One day it really might be the last.
A Cry No More gig comes with a sense of danger. Last night's performance was very unusual in that clearly they had rehearsed! (A concept normally anathema to them.) They were slicker than than the Torrey Canyon. Despite this obvious short-coming, the sense of danger pervaded. As always with Roy, once unleashed, there was no telling where he was heading, what song he would perform next, or, indeed, which key he would play it in.
Chas Cronk, on twelve string or bass guitar, takes all of this in his stride. Part of the pleasure of watching Cry No More is to admire his awesome talents of being able to adapt within a moment, changing style, key or rhythm at Roy's whim.
Chas also brought his bass pedals into play on a couple of tracks, creating some really magical sounds.
When talking to Roy Hill it is polite to call him, 'your majesty', after his song "Keep Away From Me" , which includes the delicious rhyming triplet 'I want to live in palaces, I want to drink from chalices, and you'll call me your majesty.' After last night, though, I think it would be more appropriate to use the epithet: 'The Doctor'. He is a timelord. A complete master of timing. If you hear a comedian tell a joke that you have heard before, the normal reaction is to groan. Roy has such a complete mastery of comic timing that no matter how many times you hear one of his monologues between songs you are guaranteed to laugh. Most of the audience at a Cry No More concert know these set pieces verbatim and yet we were helpless with mirth. Not that these stories are jokes as such. The 'punchline' to "Sheep", - 'actually, I don't have any friends' - is not one that would inspire laughter if told by any other artist or comic.
Roy has blurred the lines between comedy, music, poetry and oration to create a new artform that I think is unique to Cry No More.
Unlike a typical comedian, Roy thrives on heckles and audience participation, and indeed will sometimes stop in the middle of a song to laugh at a jibe from the audience. There is a crowd that have followed him for years that are referred to as the Mulberry Tree Choir who delight at joining in with the songs, and last night they were on excellent form. It was a real pleasure to hear them sing along.
I don't think I have ever seen Chas looking so debonair in his black suit. He was Simon Templar incarnate. Roy too, wore black. Not sure I can recall ever seeing him in any other colour. Chas's bass guitar too is black, and Roy's acoustic comes in towards the darker end of the spectrum. All of which meant it was a shame that the stage backdrop was black as well. The musicians and instruments were like chameleons, camouflaged perfectly against the background.
I didn't keep a set list, but they played many of the songs you'd expect, such as "Don't Leave Me Here", "Oh Sharon", "First Kiss", "I Like, I Like, I Like" and "I Love Roxy". They also played a few tracks from the new album, including the title track "Temptation". They opened with "The Gambler", and closed with their classic ending "Are You Looking For Something Mr Templar" which strangely morphs into "Wooden Heart".
Everyone was enjoying themselves so much that time ran on well past the designated closing time (midnight), so there was not time for an encore, but we were not short changed. In all they played for well over two hours.
Although I cannot recommend this band highly enough, I would issue a slight caution to anyone planning on seeing them for the first time. A few of the songs have adult themes, and although Roy has claimed to have reformed, the odd swear word does occasionally get used. Probably better to leave Granny at the door.
Wendy getting the "full Roy Hill treatment" - photo by Dick Greener - more live pictures