Rehearsal the… Oh I don’t know…

I’ve lost count now! But I know we’ve had quite a few. This one was to get ready for the forthcoming gig at The Robin 2 in Bilston.

It was great to get together with the guys again after all the messiness of Christmas and New Year getting in the way. We’re now back at it and chugging on to get both the “back catalogue” gig of Bilston done, plus the Fortune Retelling event in April.

In other news through, sadly, Jo Lene has decided to give up the RS Bar. That means our gig in May is now unlikely to proceed and I’ll need to move it. I wonder if Jump fancy a tie in?

Rehearsing with the Fishes… Again!

Yesterday was our final rehearsal before the forthcoming Sheffield gig. We went through the usual stuff, and had a couple of runs through Delicate.

The decision stands that it is officially in the set!

Also compared body sizes… Paul has huge hands!

But short arms!

I wonder if that means he’s a particular creature?

I also got a photo of us with the chimney

But the short video was more fun!

Strangefish Rehearsal the ER… Fifth?

So we are now dangerously close to our first gig in the lineup and I’m looking at it thinking “wow that’s close!”. It’s next Sunday!

Yesterday was our final rehearsal before the gig and we had last runs though the material, tweaked a few bits, and generally played very well.

Unlike the last rehearsal where Steve was poorly we were up to full band again. All six of us.

To see the photos you’d think all we did was wore silly hats though!

We also discussed stage wear, which for the guys is an interesting concept. They’ve never really done the “specific” clothes before. Of course I have the Strange Fish trousers, and the Shark/Kitten shirt. But it’s now becoming a confusing matter of what to do…

The problem with the strangefish trousers is that I can’t actually find anything that goes with them! The shark shirt, on the other hand, makes anything you pair with it look ridiculous.

I have an idea though…

Strangefish Progress Update

I thought it was time I did a decent progress update on the Strangefish stuff, after all, it’s now about a month since our first rehearsal.

First of all, full disclosure, this is honestly the most complicated material I’ve ever played. I’ve been in a prog band before (Manning) and his stuff was a doddle at the side of this.
I’m not Carl, nor am I Julian – I have quite a different style from both of the previous bassists and as such it’s going to have my personal twist whilst still being an honourable hat-tip to the previous guys, both of whom I admire greatly.
So, here’s the current state of play.
Full Scale

The songs I’ve learnt from the first album are
Shifting Sands & Turning Tides
Listening to Ghosts
Oceans Deep
Take a Holiday
The only real struggle I had here is because this is the band’s first full album and was obviously home produced the bass is sometimes unclear in the mix and occasionally I have problems picking out exactly what is going on.
As is key with all Strangefish songs, the cycle of fourths and fifths is a work of fiction. We have progressions based all over the scale, and in particular there is a common usage of a Root – Flat 5th which seems to be a favourite of the band, particular on this album.
My personal favourite on this album is Oceans Deep. Not only do I enjoy listening to it, but I find it really fun to play – and challenging.
Fortune Telling

I’m automatically at an advantage here because the mix is so much clearer. I’ve learnt:
It Could Be Me
Keep the Exits Clear
Have you seen the Light
Ignorance of Bliss
Reflection This is me (I)
This material has a lot of repeated themes, then again it is a concept album so I’d expect that. Rhythmically it is more interesting than the stuff on Full Scale as there are a lot of “morse code” rhythms running through the album which makes it fun to play.
Personally, I love Reflection This is me. It’s just a great track and again, as per usual for Strangefish, the material totally ignores the cycle of fourths and fifths again and the key changes to wherever the hell it wants. I love that. It keeps me on my toes!
The Spotlight Effect

The newest album has proved the biggest challenge for me. We’re learning:
Progress in Reverse
Iconacon
The Spotlight Effect
Summer Slips Away
Up to You
A very different style of bass playing comes to the fore here. Carl’s style is very much more fluid and dynamic than Julian’s. Carl’s playing is very flambouyant, but it matches his personality. He’s very busy on the bass! 
Any bassist who keeps a good solid rhythm and low end going is a good bassist, and both those guys are solid and keep the grounding. I wouldn’t put one above the other as it’s like comparing apples and pears. They are different and each has it’s own unique properties.
The main struggle I’ve had with the new album is just not knowing the material as thoroughly. It’s not been out as long. It’s been on the solid playlist in my van for a while now though and I’m really starting to get the feel for it.
As for which song I love the most? Well at this point it’s actually quite difficult to say. I love the writing and lyrics in Summer Slips Away, but there’s hardly any bass. On the other hand, The Spotlight Effect has some magnificent sections.
Final Conclusion
So with over 2 hours of music in the bag, we can really have a nice selection to pick from – although we do have to cherry pick down for The Robin 2 gig on 5th May as we don’t have a 2 hour set!

Another very musical weekend.

Friday’s Allan Chapman talk was postponed due to the horrible weather (lots of snow) and so we had a nice night in the house.

Saturday, on the other hand, was set to be a very busy day. First, Mum’s boiler is playing up, so I had to go and get that going again.

The afternoon was an early set-off. The gig was at Ackworth so not too far away (and because it was a self booking rather than an agent booking it was great to be able to negotiate our own terms).

Arriving at the venue at 3, we had ’til 5 to soundcheck as it was a surprise party.

Amusingly, we could probably have arrived a whole hour later! The event didn’t really kick off until after half past six.

First set at 8 was a suited one. Blue suit. New shoes.

It was also a change of dry for us. Stay Together is now gone; replaced by Shallow (Lady Ga Ga). It was a good, well played set. Very enjoyable.

The second set was at half past nine. Blue shirt. PVC leather look trousers for this one.

I did manage an onstage selfie for this one. Caught using my watch as a trigger.
Second set has now lost “Never Forget You” and gained the Pink Song – Cry.
Again, a great set, and with a 10:15 wrap up we could leave just after 11. I was home and in bed before midnight!
Today was my second Strangefish rehearsal. Again we booked the big room at Redwall Studios, Bury. A nice quiet journey over. I arrived to find Bob waiting outside. Unfortunately the owner Carl hadn’t turned up yet.
He wasn’t long though, and we started loading into what was the coldest rehearsal room on the planet.
Paul & Jo decided to hog the heater!
Of course I was manly and Yorkshire about it and set the trend for t-shirt only.
I won’t spoil too much for you, but we’ve now got 75% of the target material in a good state of performance; and we will soon choose a set for the May gig.
The rehearsal finished at just after 3:15.
Tonight. That’s fuelled by lemsip. Craig had a cold for Saturday’s gig. I truly hope it’s not going to become my child too.