Kev-Fest?

I don’t think I’ve ever been to an album launch tour date that comprises a house party – but that was part of Nick Parker‘s plan in between more conventional dates.  Kev duly leapt on the opportunity to host one of these, and of course supply a support band in the form of The Star Copiers (and bonus ‘Dirty Torry’ – ie, Dirty Davey and Russ too!).  So we move right from what was a really up close at personal gig in Chetwynd Aston to a really really personal one at Kev and Julie’s house.

The original plan was to take Ludo up there and stay over, but with quite a bit of stuff to do over the weekend instead I just took the car up instead.  With illness ravaging half of our band we’d not had a rehearsal this week and decided to wing it in terms of a set list – on arriving the PA was already set up and people were starting to arrive.  Dave and Russ were also keen to do a set so once folk had arrived and a ridiculously huge amount of food and drink was laid out they got themselves sorted under orders from stage manager Josh.

Dirty Torry (ie. Dirty Davey and Russ) kicked off with Sell Out – Dave playing guitar and Russ providing vocals – they work well together as a team.  Criminal Justice was next (with an interesting lyric change of ‘Egyptian Whores’ instead of ‘Eviction Laws’ – there’s one for Ferocious Dog misheard lyrics!  Millionaires was up next and then into Riverflow.  Back on to Ferocious Dog and Unconditional got a welcome airing, then a brave and cracking version of Elation finishing up with Slow Motion Suicide.

I’ve got Julie written down but with Caroline in the building I’m amazed they got away with that!  Before their set we’d finally got the signed guitar sorted out for Sandra who won it in the raffle for Cancer Research that Ella had been running.  It’s a little bit bizarre to think that somewhere someone will have a a signed Star Copiers guitar (and actually seemed quite pleased about it!).  We finished off the prize with a vinyl sticker – it does actually look pretty ace!

The Star Copiers were up next – with Jacquie suffering a bit we half planned a set list to minimise impact on her vocals – kicking off with a gentle Mairi’s Wedding Part III, before slotting Kev in on vocals for Searching (which Mark and I conspired to speed up as we went on, as ever, haha!).  Listen was up next with Jacquie back, before she got a chance to box-bang instead for Wish You Were Here with me singing – this time with the mic actually at the right height which made life easier!

Issac came up to do his thing for Too Late with Kev on vocals, then Jacquie was back for Mad World which we’ve not done or practiced in a while – it went okay though!  Basket Case was another dredged from the archives with Kev doing the slow and fast vocals – then Jacquie again for I Still Believe – we finished up with Russ and Ella joining us on vocals and Dave on guitar for a rendition of Fifteen Years (and dubbed this new ‘supergroup’ The Egyptian Whores.  Great fun!

Then it was time for Nick Parker – as the night before he’d bedecked the lounge with a dazzling array of colourful merchandise, which he seemed to shift a fair amount of over the course of the night!  He started off with Departures and then Down With The Yoof, ironically today he’s been playing at the venue that inspired Make Yourself At Home – and from the live streams I’ve seen today it went somewhat better than that first time!  He snuck a lyric change in there (Liverpool instead of Langenberg.

We were treated to a reprise of Guess I’ll Never Know duetted with Ella which was just lovely – so much so it appeared to be making Kev a bit tearful!  From the moving to the irreverent An Open Letter to my Human was up next, then Ella was up again for some harmonising on Simple Song but on guitar rather than mandolin which seemed to be having some technical wibbles.  Kids (along with Ella and I) were recruited to hold up placards for Es Tut Mir Leit which had the room singing along in German with gusto.

A wittily re-lyricked version of Wild Rover was superb – something I’d not heard before.  Terry and June is a must-have song in Nick’s sets – this time we had an in off the green with a cheeky glance – now I feel like I have to know what colour it’s going to be (it was in off the brown this afternoon in Frome, in case you were wondering – thanks Rob for the Live Feed!).  Another treat was the rarely heard live over here Ode to Marburg which had a few lyrical changes to make it more relevant to the night itself.

After his set the night descended into a bit of a jam session from an array of configurations of people present – Nick, Issac and Ella performed Gaz Brookfield‘s Bigger Man with Issac on guitar, Ella singing (no costume this week!) and Nick on Mandolin.  Dave was up again for some of his less family friendly songs (well one of them!) I Hate You Mrs Thatcher, then the moving The Old Man before Russ was up again on vocals for Fifteen Years – and then Sell Out with Helen and Sarah joining in on percussion.

Nick was back on guitar to provide the instrumentals for a bit of Gaz-e-oake with an assortment of us taking on vocal duties, and basically we all just had a great night singing and playing songs into the wee small hours – highlights that stick in my head were an acapella version of Hope Street by Ella and Russ and getting the chance to exorcise a demon of singing Common People with Nick on guitar (one of my recurring nightmares is a 17 year old me doing this very thing in a seedy karaoke bar in Nottingham one night!) – and of course some improvised blues from Dean with Duncan on guitar!

It was a really amazing evening – Nick’s ability to play nearly any song that was thrown at him made for a really fun end to the night after some cracking more conventional sets.  Eventually as things petered out I managed to sneak my cajón out of the performance area and get everything packed away, goodbye our way around the room and make our escape.  Such a lovely way to spend the night amongst friends – most of whom were bedecked in a Nick Parker garment by the end of the night!  House gigs are brilliant!

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