Friday, 27 April 2012


i'm back at my old om haunt from last summer
it feels like another kind of homecoming
the familiar smell of the beer-soaked seats
the night lights on the wooden tables glowing in the darkness
the faded lived-in decor
i'm here early for a change and it's a quiet night
so i get the first spot after the host has warmed up the audience
when i say quiet
i'm forgetting one large table of about twenty people
who insist on talking loudly through the warm-up slot
i wonder why they are here in the back room
rather than staying in the main section of the pub
the host is admittedly not very inspiring
he pulls up his hood like a gangster
and starts to strum clumsily at a slightly out-of-tune guitar
his vocals an incoherent wine
he actually interrupts his performance to take a phonecall
it is a couple of friends he's invited
who are sitting in the bar next to me but haven't even recognised him
talk about stage presence!
eventually i get the call, plug in and fine tune my fender
the large group are still chatting noisily
tonight i make my debut as fireseed
i've also decided that i'm going to work on my banter
partly to compensate for the tuning issues i'm having with the fender
i tell the audience how happy i am to find my trusty old plectrum
under the bed
but i'm struggling to compete with the racket to my left
i'm also grappling with the dodgy mic stand and weak sound system
i launch into relationship
the tuning almost immediately slips but it's not bad
coming home is better especially as i'm debuting it tonight
asleep-awake (second performance) and street executive complete the set
the banter is good but wasted on them
i sit down at the back feeling a bit cheated
but perk up when last week's voucher winner buys me a pint of moondance
and i get a couple of generous compliments on the performance
i get into an interesting conversation with a couple who have moved up from london
to build a recording studio in newtown
they organise festivals in europe and already have a couple of studios down south
they are impressed by the om scene in birmingham
they say that it barely exists in london
they think everyone is really friendly up here
londoners are like robots in comparison
that's scary considering how robotic this culture seems to me here
n is black and he tells me shocking stories about the the xenophobia in russia
racist lynch mobs against non-whites that sound far worse than the bnp
they are planning to leave the country in the medium term
sick of the way that musicians are treated and under-valued in the uk
meanwhile i have realised why the noisy group are here
one of their number
an irish guy
has stepped forward to regale us with a u2 ditty
and a few more covers
his guitar badly needs new strings and a proper tune
he fires out volleys of expletives to the sniggers of his mates
of course he wins the fifteen quid beer voucher
by virtue of having the most whooping mates to call on in the vote
as the evening ends and queen's we are the champions plays on the pa
the boozy party begins to cavort drunkenly round the room
slurring out the hackneyed lyrics at the tops of their ugly voices
this is about as far from artistic expression as it is possible to get
could this be my last om at this venue?

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