Monday, 3 February 2020

Friendly Denbigh

Last Thursday I jumped in my car and headed off on a close to two-hour drive to Denbigh in North Wales for a gig at their local theatre. With over seventy tickets sold in this proper stage-with-tiered-seating venue it was a chance to see if the parody songs work when the audience weren't half a metre from your toes.

As the motorway narrowed to a dual carriageway the traffic thinned out and I turned off onto a quiet road that twisted and bumped its way through valleys with little to report except an abandoned pub with railings directly outside its door, no doubt designed to prevent its once-inebriated punters stumbling into the road at closing time.

Denbigh drew near, my sat-nav lost reception and I found myself parked up alongside the local Lidl. Finding the venue just after 8pm I could hear co-host and MC, Nia Lloyd Williams, rousing the assembled and I navigated my way to the bar and had a quick chat with a couple of cheery retiree-volunteer bar staff before finding the backstage area up a red carpeted ramp festooned with an array of scattered bistro garden furniture sets.

In the dressing room I found promoter and co-host Sarah Lloyd and comedian Diane Fitton chatting away beside a big showbiz mirror and desk. By this point I could hear Jack Kelly opening the show and the crowd seemed in high spirits. I made my way out from backstage and loitered just outside the main room watching the next act on stage through a gap in the curtain. Anthony Grogan had a similarly positive response to Jack.

After a short break Sarah Lloyd and Diane Fitton were on and this time I had found the other entrance to the main room at the back and so could come and go without disturbing anyone. The crowd gave plenty to both of them and the time had come to get the guitar tuned and wait it out to close the event as the final act on.

Before me, Kath Marvelley got some good laughs and Nia went on to do the introductions. 

"The next act has tunes on iPlayer!" she announced, "...ah, I mean iTunes. And he's got a great song called Meal Deal which has been going around my head for ages, it's a real earworm! But he's not playing it tonight. I think you're all going to enjoy joining in with his songs. At least I think that's what you're going to do. It's Andy Quirk!"

As introductions go it was fantastically random - full of references to the First World Problems rap act instead of the one I was performing that night, topped off with a promotion from being a struggling musical presence in the long tail of online streaming to a performer cherry picked by a national broadcaster. I honestly loved it.

I opened with some chat about not being a local and bludgeoned to death the riff to Smoke On The Water in tribute to a man drinking Guinness for reasons too convoluted to describe here. The audience laughed nervously. Deciding that it would probably be best to just launch into a song I played, "I Will Eat...".

Within a few bars the slight awkwardness that had threatened to set in dissipated and the laughs came. After that it was good times all the way, complete with an applause break I had to actually pause the song for. After that it was on to ,"My Ex", and more laugh out loud moments and some creative job suggestions that stretched my rhyming ability to breaking point. Ten minutes done and it was time for some post-show chat, a can of coke and a long drive home. 

With any luck we'll be able to bring Disco Divorce Party here at some point because the locals are class. 

"I Will Eat" in Denbigh

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