On Sunday October 13th I put together a one-night only band to play a benefit in aid of the venerable yet urgent and necessary newspaper Peace News. In the allotted 23 minutes (!), we managed to squeeze in 4 tunes, not least by me managing to keep the banter to a minimum.
First off was ‘Jesus the Courier’, an as-yet unreleased song of mine on which I was given some wonderful, gospelified assistance from Sarah, Marcia and Grace from Songlines Choir; (we started the song all singing ‘I know the Lord will make a way for me’ from the edge of the stage, with me then stepping gingerly to the piano to take up the story from there). All through the set I had Chris on bass (and violin) and Ben on percussion. There’s nothing quite like having the bedrock of solid rhythm sectional support – I must try it more often!
Second was another one of mine called ‘Reforestation of the Heart’, then a couple of covers – since the night was ‘a celebration of people power’, I thought a reimagined version of Patti Smith’s ‘People Have the Power‘ might do the trick. As a sort of poetic middle eight, I inserted a poem by Grace Nichols I first saw on the Underground this year, ‘Moment in a Peace March’:
A holy multitude pouring
through the gates of Hyde Park –
A great hunger repeated
in cities all over the world
And when one hejab-ed woman
stumbled in the midst
how quickly she was uplifted –
With no loaves and no fish
Only the steadying doves of our arms
against the spectre of another war.
I ended the setlet with a song I was reluctant to take on: ‘Shipbuilding’, by Elvis Costello, though made famous by Robert Wyatt. Wanting to be sure I could take it somewhere other than a tribute or a pastiche of either of their versions, I was reassured by Sarah, who also put together a terrific harmony vocal. That, and the rhythm section ensuring there weren’t too many sentimental slowdowns meant that it seemed to go well enough. I’m grateful to her and everyone who helped make the music, as well as to Jon for putting the night together, and making sure there was a goodly turnout.
The rest of the night was excellent, (@dogcatchicken, Tracey Curtis), the highpoint being Songlines providing lovely harmonies for Attila the Stockbroker‘s fantastically rude tribute to Prince Harry’s much sought-after member…