The bank holiday weekend. My oh my! I was looking forward to this after a term of ridiculous hard work and silly hours. It was time for a classic… And that’s what we got.
When Lauren Rich got in touch and invited me to play Rock, Crackle & Pop (Dusk Till Dawn, Archway) again I got a teensy bit excited that I had the perfect excuse to have another London jaunt. Within days a second option appeared, the 1st ever Electric Domestic. To be run by the usual host of Acoustic Domestic, naturally, Mr Antonio Lulic. Excellent!!!
Rubbing my hands together a plan began to form… to stay 2 nights chez Lulic (he is so very, very generous!) and enjoy a little time with my friends, one of whom, needed a celebration of the birthday kind. This was TOO good to miss. As I sat on the trainline site to book my tickets a familiar bing-bong chat noise came through and Cat Thompson told me of her plan to visit family in London that weekend!! Would I like a lift?! Yes please. Heated seats in an Audi TT, and the ability to stop at any services we wished. Delightful. A very kind lady.
The week preceding was full of long hours, with the addition of rehearsing up and deciding my set for the gig. I went with a 5 pronged attack, with a double rear gunner formation in the form of an encore song or two with Mr Antonio Lulic. He was to attend. This was getting better by the minute. In the meantime the Electric Domestic site started to gain momentum… People started saying they were going and Lloyd Hartley and Ruby Macintosh joined Simon & Rachel Rowe as potential Yorkshire contingents ready for a trip to the big smoke.
So Cat rolls up at half 2, we grab new spare strings and I get comfy. I’m sorry I haven’t a clue adorns the stereo after a huge ben folds hit. Services. Large Latte. Sunshine in most parts… clear traffic ALL THE WAY DOWN. Arrive into London around 5:15pm. Small blip as we approach Henley Corner to see smoke plumes and shortly after BIG flames as a motorcyclist had some issues and left his bike to burn after it fell on its left side at the junction. We saw him 150 yards down the road, limping, in all his leathers, carrying a precious white carrier bag cursing under his breath. We feared the tank would explode as we circumnavigated the wreckage but I endeavoured to get an Instagram all the same.
Arrive at Dusk Till Dawn in an easy fashion and grab food while we wait for Lauren Rich to arrive. Cat departs for family loveliness and I catch up with Lauren Rich and get on with setting up for what was shaping up to be a great little gig.
It didn’t disappoint. As 8pm nears Lauren & I have finished the sound-checks and the artists and their ace audiences had filled lovely little pockets of places throughout Dusk Till Dawn. I had my own contingent there also and enjoyed a rare treat of catching up with some friends I don’t nearly see enough of. At this stage I also set up my camera the best I could to cope with the lighting of the venue and I hoped to get a couple of videos to help out the other acts a bit.
First up was Lauren Rich, our host and loveable artist all rolled into one. She played her new single Fragile Girl (available here) and warmed up the audience with her soaring voice. Despite some guitar technical issues this was a great little set and I always look forward to seeing what Lauren comes up with next.
After a mad dash from the station Rosizm were up! A lovely duo (normally a solo act) from Northampton featuring Ros on guitar and lead vocals, and a lovely guest flautist. Ros did a set of chilled out rich-toned guitar based songs which reminded me of Fink in their ambience. The flute really set the songs apart as the flautist played melodically and knowingly in the gaps.
Tenzer were up next, a duo from Manchester now alighting in London. Their sound-check revealed Dave Matthews influences to me and I got excited. Their set didn’t disappoint. A great choice of originals/covers and a DMB one thrown in for good measure. They explained they hadn’t gigged for 2 years. You wouldn’t have known it. Excellent support work from guitarist Ant who clearly had a great connection with Jonni, both playing with soul.
Tom Craven bounded upon the stage and instantly grabbed my attention as a real *one-to-watch*. He had a lovely tongue-in-cheek demeanour and yet managed to play his songs sincerely, the result of which gave a very polished but easy going performance. Spot on. I was looking forward to seeing this guy again! I managed to grab some photos and nearly one video each (Tom’s video was scuppered by my battery) but the shots I got can be seen here:
It was my turn. I realised that headlining meant I was going to lose some audience members before I’d finished, but I did realise this beforehand and understood completely why people had to leave. People have trains to catch you know! I really didn’t let it bother me as for one thing, I do try to play my best whether it’s to one person or a hundred… It was time to get busy!
I went with The Subject Line, followed by Thirty-Something, chilled things a touch with All Cried Out, then into The Pilot, winding out with May You Never. Antonio joined me for What I Need, and then we did a rare track indeed.. Our old version of Walking In Memphis. It. Felt. Awesome.
Great response from the lovely audience (the place was still pretty populated) and we settle with our drinks before a brief packing away. All in all, a fab little evening.
Back to Chez Lulic for chips and catch up. Ace chips. Acer catchup.
Lulic springs the information that I’m to have an Airbed. AWESOME!! J
We awake. Kettle noises and quiet conversations. Rhiannon Mair. Nice to meet you. Poached eggs and salmon on crusty toast. Ace. Coffee. Coffee. Time to get ready.
We chuck the ad-hoc backline into Rhiannon’s motor and Antonio and her speed into the distance to prepare the PA for the evenings shindig.
I catch a bus. 2pm-ish. Time to meet Lloyd and Ruby. Ring Lloyd. “will meet you at KGX”. Ring Lloyd. “Can’t meet you at KGX, lines closed.”
“Meet in Hackney to drive out to Westfield and grab food and presents for someone ace?“
Westfield was HUGE. Wagamama’s on a sofa in an American style mall is VERY cool. Shopping done and not too stressy. Coffee. Time to go.
Diversions mean we’re a little late arriving to Electric Domestic. Cat’s got her ticket, as does Lloyd, Ruby, Simon and Rachel, Jharda, Marion, Jon, and a myriad of other half-known-yet-to-be-known friends and acquaintances I have long longed to meet.
Walking in and the apartment is stunning. Lighting all lilac and stage bound, the length of the room alone seems to extend like some corridor from The Sandman, yet it is our ears that are to be tantalised… What HAS Antonio got lined up here?!
A one-of-a-kind type of night. That’s what.
Rhiannon Mair started the night’s entertainment and after meeting her earlier that day, I was looking forward to seeing this lovely person do her thing. Erm Wow. Amazing set! After collecting my brains back together I got on with a little light drinking and mingling.
I met some amazing people.
I finally got the chance to meet Matt Belmont, a fab singer/songwriter who used to live up in Leeds and ran the Open-Mic at the Leeds Hop for a time. He has since moved down to London and is building a great reputation for himself.. a VERY talented man.
I sat next to John Parker, the most passionate musician I’ve ever seen, who occasionally disguises himself as Antonio’s Double Bassist, amongst playing with other extremely-talented muther-fuckers. We were about to play onstage together for the first time, only I’m not sure John was aware of that at the time!
I shuffled across to stage left when Antonio and John took the stage. I readied my harmonica and leaned back. I wanted to enjoy this. Antonio never ever gives less than 200% at a gig and tonight was no exception. Well played. The haunting “Oo-ee-Oo-oooooh” still rings around my hankering cranium. You ear-wormy bastard. I love you. Antonio flicks his eyes at me as John gives the line I did for Now It’s Cold a spin. I approve beyond measure. I beam back at him. I bump into the lovely Martin Cox as I readied to join the pair of them for Antonio’s last number, “Hey, It’s Okay” <click for a great little video from Martin. I at least remembered not to come in until after the first chorus and let rip. It felt LOVELY.
Another Palma. Tequila and Grapefruit juice essentially. Essential.
I bumped into Stu and Marion and Jharda and Rachelle and loved catching up. I watched a stunning band called Paper Aeroplanes (Also with John) do a set and then pirouette onto the audience floor and witnessed an acoustic wonder of a performance. A true time stopper.
The unannouncable special guest arrived and promptly came across to say “Hi”. After a lovely catchup he readies and takes the stage. I take a seat. Watching him play, I see similarities, and I see things I wish I could do. And I see amazing song-writing, and feel inspired to get better at it myself. Wow.
I ask who the current act is… “Peter And Kerry”. I asked because the harmonies and electric guitar I was listening to was taking my brain to happy places. The way these two melded together was utterly enchanting, a privilege to watch and experience. When the rest of the band joined them the layering of sounds simply elaborated into a clever sea of haunting melodies. Stunning.
Burritos are served behind the open-plan kitchen by Off-Broadway and the smell is only matched by the compliments I over-hear. The bar exudes cool and the staff fill your drinks willy-nilly with more alcohol than the helpful menu suggested it contained. Hic. AEC.
Annie Eve grabs my attention by musically ripping my heart out and flicks my ears with a gorgeous set of beautifully crafted songs. John rips it up again. Fucking hell John. John glugs his water like an Olympic athlete over an 8-bar count ready to land on the 1 for the 3rd chorus. Boom.
Post music I spot John pacing around downing high protein nuts. He must secretly take red-bull intravenously. I have never seen a man play as though every note is the last note he might ever play before. This gentleman is a special musician, and a special person.
I catch Rhiannon briefly and compliment her work on the sound. Not only did she open the night, she ran around looking after everyone and got a phenomenal sound in essentially a “live” hard-floored apartment. With a bath. Awesome job!
Lloyd asked me if it was ok to have a bath. I said no. He said I should let him have a bath right there, right now. I said I wasn’t allowed to let him have a bath. Lloyd bought me a drink.
We helped Jay pack his van and headed back to Antonio’s armed with 2 bottles of strong Rose. Within minutes of our return, Antonio donned his Pikachu One-sie and.. well…
Asleep after sunrise we ensure Antonio rises in time for his Exeter set-off time. We (Lloyd, Ruby and Cat) don our shoes and head to Duke’s for brunch. Bellies filled and hangovers on show we catchup and laugh the morning away.
The journey back was equally trouble-free and service filled as on the way down and I arrived home unable to do anything else other than flash back to the best weekend I’ve had in years.
Good work London. You were awesome.
Ryan Mitchell-Smith xx