Updated: 8 Dec 2005
Don't Call Us
I'm Sitting On A Rainbow
Got To Get Out Of This Rut
A Talk With Your Father
Don't Really Care About Love
No-one But You
Would You Like To Be A Movie Star
I Shouldn't Fall In Love
I Could Never Live Without You
Dancing In The Moonlight
Walking Down The Strand
Pie In The Sky
Dance Till Dawn
Under Osama's Armpit
Late Late Train
Top Hat And Tails
I Can Sing High
Down By The River
Ventured out by public transport to the wilds of Uxbridge last night (without my trusty Peugeot at present - tedious and expensive story) - the furthest West I've ever been on a tube train !!! The gentlemen of High Society were performing at the Prince Albert pub, run by Denise Harper (who as many of you will know used to run the Strawbs Fan Club and Merchandising).
A few converts - unsuspecting punters out for a night - were blown away by the harmonies and the humour of the set, which they seem to pull off in effortless fashion. Overheard comment - "they're a bit like Kit & The Widow [a popular high camp comedy/musical cabaret duo in the UK] meets Woody Guthrie". A thoroughly enjoyable evening, as ever, and a reminder of just how polished an act they are.
The first time I've seen this line-up, with Dickey Baldwin on a rather nifty 5 string bass replacing Nigel Portman-Smith, who's blended in rather well. The harmonies are good and strong with all three players doubling as backing singers. Simon Bishop's guitar work is always fun to watch and listen to - sitting up at the front in the second set, someone moved all the pub menus out of the way so that nothing obstructed his view of Simon's nimble fingers. Highlight for me was the country workout on "Beautiful Evening" but that's singling one piece of instrumental wizardry out of many. Also nice to see him pick the oud to play the crowd pleasing "Under Osama's Armpit", with Terry taking the solo on stylophone (I think). Hud's enjoyment of the whole thing obvious and his rhythm guitar work is exemplary too, the careful and tasteful arrangements of these songs giving plenty of scope for each player to shine.
Terry, of course, commands the audience - again to use the word - effortlessly, as front man and lead singer. Highlights - the extended chorus singing on "Never Go Out In The Rain", with Terry leading us all in the chorus with different accents, political correctness largely thrown to the winds, and the crowd-provided noises to back "Dancing In The Moonlight" - waves, gulls (Simon played a few seagull noises on guitar, quickly picked up by the audience) and seals (don't ask!). "Gotta Get Out Of This Rut", from pretty early on, really moves along, and the closing "Down By The River" is great fun, with the opportunity for Terry once again to lead the audience in harmony singing.
Nice to see Denise and Sandy again - sorry I'd not got time to stop and natter, but had to rush - a cab to West Ruislip and then the Late Late Train to Leytonstone.
Messrs. Bishop, Cooke, Baldwin and Hudson hard at play - pics from Lindsay
A splendid evening was had by all on Sunday 4th December at the Red Lion pub in Isleworth; a highly civilised affair of cocktails, canapes and culture in the form of High Society. I'd never actually seen High Society before due to events seemingly conspiring against me, and things weren't looking promising yet again for Carole and I as we sat in a mega traffic jam on the A127, while our dear Nigel sat waiting patiently for our tardy arrival (he took up plane spotting to stay awake I believe, the pub being in the flight path for Heathrow airport). Somehow we made it by the middle of the first song, however, and thus managed to bring down the tone of the evening nicely.
Though I do have some of HS's recordings the feelgood fun of an evening in their company cannot possibly be gleaned from their recordings alone; it is essential to sample the live atmosphere as we happily did. Terry is a great showman who captivates the audience with his humour and wonderful facial expressions, and the band played several amusing songs telling tales of a bygone era when ladies were ladies and gentlemen were gentlemen. We quaffed our drinks, nibbled our canapes and had a thoroughly good singsong, as did the rest of the audience, all seated round little individual tables. The band were all exceedingly friendly to chat with afterwards and it was lovely to see Hud looking so relaxed (though he told me he was nervous as the band hadn't managed much in the way of rehearsals - it certainly didn't show). High Society clearly appeal to all age groups, evidenced by the range of people in the audience, all joining together in singing along and having a great time.
Hud pointed out that HS are available for private bookings - they definitely are an act to keep in mind for "occasions" - certainly capable of providing a great fun atmosphere for all age groups (contact: www.highsocietyband.co.uk). There really is no other act even similar to High Society, who write all their own material. Hud mentioned that HS go down a storm in parts of Italy, particularly in the Venetian region where "high culture" is the order of the day, which he considered quite amusing.
Lovely surprise too to see Brian Willoughby there, with whom we all had a chat.
I took several shots of the band, and finished up with one particularly for Ken Laws, ex-Hudson Ford drummer, who had a malignant brain tumour removed a few weeks ago. Hud, Terry and I are all in frequent contact with Ken, who had some great news this week (which he said he would be happy for me to post to the group) - he had an MRI scan on Thursday which looked good. No guarantees, obviously, but the surgeon thought things looked very promising and has begun to reduce his medication. So, it seemed fitting for the guys to do a collective "thumbs up" photo for Ken which I shall email to him now.
Thumbs up to Ken!