Friday, 22 April 2016

Memoirs of a Geezer at The Thomas Neale

From the outside this did not look like a good gig. A run down shopping precinct in Shadwell which, as one of the acts noted, was only notable for having a Wimpy that wasn't even open at dinner time. The pub itself was a boozer of olde east end proportions, dark on the outside, darker on the inside and festooned with England flags. I double locked the frame and both wheels of my bike on the rack featuring the remains of several other cycles and took a tentative step inside...

...And it was really nice! The staff were charming, the main space in the pub had been set out with rows of chairs and at 7pm, a full hour before the show started, people were taking their seats.

True, the "PA" was a guitar amp with a microphone plugged into it and the pub dog roamed around the stage at will but this, if anything, added to the charm of this proper gentri-free space.

There were far too many acts and nearly every one ran longer than was entirely sensible but there were certainly more gems than rough in the mix. Newbies rubbed shoulders with the likes of Stella Graham, Nick Purves and a couple of other thoroughly experienced comedians who I can't remember the names of and it worked very well. Three acts bombed, including the technical headliner, but 13/16 is a very respectable hit rate all told.

I avoided the bluetooth soundbar option provided by the venue for my backing track and whipped out my trusted Roland micro-PA. It worked exceptionally well and the clapping happened at the right points for Tales of the Unexpected. Shuffle and Stop also hit home once the crowd got over their initial nerves. It's a good song, though more than any other of my tracks it definitely lives or dies on the crowds contribution. Once I stepped offstage one of the other acts, a seasoned pro in his sixties, congratulated me and asked if I was a fan of Jilted John (look him up). I know nothing of the act except their biggest hit (again, look it up) but as someone who sincerely believes in the DIY punk spirit I took it as a massive compliment.

Will definitely return.

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