It's been a considerable time since I've performed at Cafe Mode. Between then and now the restaurant basement of dreams has painted its walls black, installed a killer disco light and moved the stage from one end of the room to the other.
Tonight's crowd of diners were clearly enjoying the food as they arrived downstairs after 9pm when the show was scheduled to start a half eight. With one eye on the clock we, the assembled performers, huddled on the back rows of chairs whilst MC and promoter Peter Merrett talked to the front row for a while before bringing on the first act.
With twelve acts to navigate in less than two hours most performers whittled their sets down to five or so minutes and provided the crowd with consistent chuckles. However, come the half-time break about half of them declared it an early night and headed off before I opened the second half. In the spirit of efficiency I performed just West End, but fronted it with my new intro rap - which will replace my usual opening chat in my Edinburgh show.
There's something strangely liberating about coming on to an introduction voiced by a computer synthesised text to speech program sounding like Joanna Lumley - followed by heavy drums that may or may not have been in part inspired by Dizzee Rascal's "Fix Up Look Sharp" (which I suspect were sampled from something else anyway). Anyway, it got the eight or so real audience waving their hands in the air as I individually high fived all of them in turn whilst shouting out like Jay Z at Wembley.
West End went down well, with plenty of kind words from both performers and audience. There wasn't time to give Sound of the Tinny Drums is first non-workshop airing but it's definitely on the list for the next show.
Dropping back into my chair at the back I then relaxed and enjoyed the acts that followed - the headliner being particularly sharp and getting one last burst of energy out of the crowd before they meandered home.