Writing a blog has almost no perks. In my time here I have written squillions of words about Big Brother, Morrissey and crisps, and the most I've got for my troubles is berated by an angry virgin who I slagged off on a reality show, invited to a film thing, and invited to be on Freaky Eaters. Eek!
But last night I actually got invited to something good, so I dug myself out from my sick bed and ventured Camden-wardly. Last week I wrote about Orange Unsigned Act, and my pick to win, Scottish singer-songwriter Tommy Reilly. His PR read my blog and invited me to his gig, so I and JOTV went down to do some networking, darling (this actually involved sitting in a corner, having a migraine, with JOTV playing The Weakest Link on his clapped out old Nokia).
I got a text message alert on route that 'Tommy was having some food'. I felt like a stalker! Let the boy eat!
The Proud Galleries themselves are a peculiar venue, otherwise recognisable as a bit of Camden market (one of the bits that hasn't been razed to the ground). Normally in this area people are selling their old Smurf collection and Beanos, but they've gutted it, put up some nice artwork, and now there's a vast expanse of gig roomage (which had all the romance and atmosphere of an empty barn) and some 'stables' to sit in which are like little VIP rooms with flashy tables. The drinks were VERY cheap. I'm not sure why, but let's not knock it.
Tommy was being herded round various groups by his PR; which is my idea of a living hell, so I felt sorry for him that I was going to be adding to his list of schmoozing to be done. I had my photo taken with him (the less said about that the better). He seemed very disarming and up for a chat with some total strangers who may or may not write something horrible about him, when you can tell it's probably not his ideal evening either. I told him I'd found someone's fake nail stuck to me, but was soon whisked away from us. The next person he spoke to had a huge notepad of questions and JOTV berated me for being unprofessional, so the next time Tommy came in alone, I beckoned him over. I said I had some questions and he very politely took my notepad off me and started reading them (so thank god I didn't write anything offensive).
And here's the interview (I was trying to think of funny Smash Hits-style questions, but failed miserably):
What have you got on your rider? He would have pizza and beer, but he doesn't have one.
Who are your favourite bands? Scottish ones especially Frightened Rabbit (I fancy listening to these). I was pressing him on if he liked Bright Eyes as I think they have a similar sound and he said he had the live album, which is one step up from JOTV who just has the Christmas album (why oh why?!)
What TV do you like? I asked him this one for us! For the good of the blog. He said he liked the Mighty Boosh and Blackadder. He said more, but I wrote nothing down, and I forgot the rest (listen, I'm ill!) I asked him if he liked the X Factor and he said he hated Alexandra's Hallelujah (a popular feeling at present). Finally he was frowning at the last question on my pad, going 'what's that?' My final question was 'What do you think about the great lightbulb revolt?' as I had been mildly amused by reports of old people struggling to read by the harsh, buzzing, stinky light of the new energy efficient lightbulbs. Tommy concluded that he was pro-the new bulbs. I said, 'what if old people don't know how to use them because they get confused easily?' and he said, 'fuck 'em.' Or I might have said this, but he definitely agreed. It's all a bit hazy without a dictaphone. Anyway; that was all clearly very exciting but onto the gig!
Tommy came on at 11. I had a KILLER migraine, so if he could take my mind of that, then I was a fan. I thought his first songs all sounded quite short; but halfway through the set they seemed more fully-formed. I liked the lyrics, 'I dropped my words on the floor, can you pick them up for me?' Again, it's quite abstract and Conor Oberst-like (it reminds me of 'thought the kettle was a train/ thought that Monday was a doorframe' lyric off the solo Conor album).
The second half of the set was really good, he played 'Jackets', 'I Don't Like Coffee' (JOTV's pick) and 'Give me a call' my favourite, because, er, it's the best one. Tommy did really well to hold a pretentious London crowd's attention with just him, a cardigan and a guitar; no band at all. He told me it was his first gig in Camden, and the venue was about the opposite of the sweaty, jostling, fire-hazardy feeling you get squashed up inside the Barfly. But even without that sort of appealing gig-glue, he created his own atmosphere with his lyrics and his voice alone. I really like it when he pushes his voice as far as it can go. I like voices that almost make people wince; because there's truth in it. The kind of truth you don't ever get on X Factor.
It was really good to find myself entirely out of my comfort zone like this; I'm the least schmoozey, fan-ey, wanting-to-go-out-and-meet-people person in the world, so I think it was healthy for me to force myself into that situation. I am really looking forward to Orange Unsigned Act this week, any spare tickets going?! Haha. Maybe this schmoozing's alright after all. Vote Tommy, he is the best raw talent of the bunch. Oh yeah; and here's my super-high quality video evidence of proceedings, enjoy: