So last night (Saturday 12th) I was playing at the Ash Tree in Ashford with Kindred Spirit (duo form).
If anyone’s found a habitable rock to shelter under, it was England’s first match of the European football championships yesterday evening (as well as the official commemoration date of the Queen’s 90th birthday, and a naked cycle ride through London I accidentally stumbled across at Whitehall, and probably several other things I missed). Our sets were pushed back by band management to start straight after the end of the football as ‘this is a real football pub’. Probably actually quite a savvy way to run a big Saturday, with one thing handing over to another (they’d had a DJ in the daytime and I don’t know what else. Definitely bar staff in fancy dress).
This was the point at which I decided I had a professional interest in football for the first time (and I haven’t historically had that much interest of any kind in football):
- England win: happy crowd, good if somewhat loud and lairy gig
- England draw: frustrated crowd, likely to leave early or drink a lot but want to talk over the game and how we were robbed not sing along or dance
- England lose: really tough crowd, someone requests ‘Three Lions’ between every number and I can’t wait to get out
Admittedly, it was the first match of a long tournament and so couldn’t produce any set in stone results for the whole thing, and I think a lot of fans have lowered expectations of England these days, so I may have been overstating the gloom at a draw. Either way, I was pleased and relieved when England finally managed to break a deadlock with Russia about a quarter of an hour into the second half.
And almost as gutted as the rest of the pub when Russia got lucky or seized a moment of weakness and equalised in extra time (the commentators seemed to agree they didn’t deserve to draw the match).
So, a tough start even if we did have a large crowd of people to start playing to.
I think it says a lot more than it usually would for a pub group that we had some people dancing from song two of the night (not Blur’s ‘Song 2’, interesting though that would be to cover), and still had a hard core eating out of our hand for ‘The Devil went down to Georgia’ coming up to midnight. Via some phone-filmed solos and unusually hearty applause (and piercing whistles – still in footy mode perhaps?). And it would always be an achievement to roll off the back of a collective disappointment like that (‘we’ were about 90 seconds off winning the match, seriously!) to be told I/we (English is so ambiguous sometimes) had made people’s evening, and take longer threading my way out through congratulations, handshakes, slightly incoherent and repetitive compliments and handing out business cards than packing up (and there is a lot of packing up to do at bar gigs, when you bring all your own gear). And (with apologies all due massive credit to Elaine!) it was gratifying that the people that spoke to me were specifically struck by the ‘electric’ (well, near enough) violin playing, rather than having happened to see me out of the two of us.
Need to start listing ‘winning people over’ as a personal specialism I think.