|Basement Bedsit Tour (August/September
Project Adorno tour notes
|So, Project Adorno finally "hit the road" and went on tour - something
I never thought I'd do. It was all courtesy of our good friends at Beat
Bedsit records who put together a 10 day programme featuring five "acts",
taking in towns and cities all across England.|
First gig of the tour - we find ourselves beetling along the Hastings
road - stuck behind slow moving traffic virtually all the way. we've
previously missed our motorway junction and are now running horrendously
late! We arrive at the venue and are struck by how grand it looks - an old
church up on "the Mound". We're led through the catacombs by a member of
staff - music getting louder with each twist and turn. We enter the
auditorium to see Roger (AKA We Am Janet - one man and his electric
guitar) doing battle with the echo-ey acoustics of the place. It's huge -
Roger a mere speck in the distance. We've arrived in time to see most of
his set and are informed that we're on next (we've missed Pog and Chester
- more of them later in the tour!) - with Lianne Hall and her band,
Pico, making up the five "act" compliment and headlining
Roger AKA We Am Janet|
|I go and make my acquaintance with the sound man (always an
interesting (and very necessary) encounter - they're a strange breed,
these folk!). After lengthy discussions/negotiation regarding jack, phono,
and XLR (male vs female) compatibility, tech requirements are eventually
satisfied. No time for a proper soundcheck (given late arrival) - suddenly
we're on, but promptly off again - a local "guest" poet is going on prior
to our act. We return to the stage after said poet feeling somewhat
We launch into "Sex pistols" with great gusto - the stage feels huge -
could go jogging round it! I initially jump off the stage and walk the
mile or so back to the sound desk to tweak levels (a favourite past time -
some would say, compulsive obsessive disorder, of mine).
Donning multi-coloured scarf and acoustic guitar we slide into "Tom
Baker" - a highlight of our recent "Stop the Tardis" Edinburgh show. It's
harder to generate an atmosphere in here - I also realise at this point
that I should've miked the guitar - I'm strumming furiously but the sound
is getting lost - swallowed up by the vastness of the venue (mental note -
must acquire a semi-acoustic guitar ASAP!).
Tonight sees the return of "Let's communicate" to our set - a dancey,
eighties inspired, electro piece for which fellow Adornite, Russell is
beginning to develop a YMCA style dance routine. It goes down well, (both
poem and dance!) though bizarrely we don't include it again for the rest
of the tour.
- Lianne, Bella, Susanne, & Boo (reclining)
|Despite various hiccups it's an enjoyable experience. We retire to the
audience and bathe in the chilled out sounds generated by Lianne Hall and
Pico who headline tonight. To add to the laid back feel during Lianne's
set we notice a figure draped, almost lying down at the back of the stage.
This turns out to be Boo - on keyboards - a sort of chilled-out Bez!
Someone we grow to know and love as the tour progresses!|
It's down to the Sanctuary the following night - a home from home of
sorts - this becoming a regular venue for Project Adorno. we go on first
and it turns out to be one of best, and certainly most enjoyable,
performances to date. It's a packed out crowd and they're really getting
(into) it! Can't even recall much of our set - apart from "Follow the
nerd" - an anthem for all geeks and outsiders - complete with flask and
anorak. At one point I point to an audience member who looks as though
he's just stepped out of a Parisian cafe from the 1960s - "this man should
be in Project Adorno" I tell the assembled crowd.
Tonight we get to see Pog and a full set from We Am Janet. The crowd
are a bit noisy during Pico's set, however this doesn't appear to phase
them - Lianne focussed and seemingly oblivious to it all - that girl could
play through a hurricane! And the songs are really growing on me -
"Thief-stealer" and "Rain" beginning to get lodged in my brain. Yet again
we miss Chester, heading back to London before they go on (they being
headliners tonight), and getting ready for our "home town" leg of the tour
at Merton's Colourhouse Theatre the following evening.
|London - Merton (Colourhouse Theatre)
We're nervous tonight - this is "our" gig in many respects - we've done
all the publicity we can and the local papers have done us proud
with a sizeable piece in the "Mitcham and Morden Guardian" so we're
desperately hoping we get some sort of audience - in short we feel
responsible for the success or failure of tonight's gig.
The rest of the Bedsit entourage arrive and Pico set up the "backline"
- this becomes a feature of the tour - everyone else plugging in and using
the Pico PA set up - a method that works very well, particularly at venues
where there is no in-house PA.
Thankfully a good sized crowd turns up - totally different from our
Taking the Mike regulars (bearing in mind it's the same venue). Roger
kicks off (I think!) - his songs are now beginning to grow on me in a very
big way. There's a subtlety in his work - the more you listen, the more
you get sucked into the weird worldview of We Am Janet - and the more you
think "what a great songwriter".
We finally get to see Chester tonight - Pam and Rob doing their upbeat
punky double act. It's simplicity in itself - Rob on electric guitar and
vox, Pam on vox and silly dance routines. They go down a treat with the
More Adorno Action
Tonight we play to our home crowd and it feels like party time! I try
out a brand new song "Broadway brothers" written for and about my brother
- another nostalgia infused offering (see also "The other ones") - playing
it live chokes me up a bit tonight. I aim to do it tomorrow in Nottingham
where my brother will be in the audience.
Pico headline - we play games beforehand, anticipating where Boo will
place himself and in what position (sitting, standing, lying?!) - for
someone so static on stage, he has such presence. Pico are, yet again,
blinding - no wonder John Peel's a fan. This tour is starting to "rock"!
We all meet up at Merton Abbey Mills craft market on a sunny Sunday
morning - everyone will be travelling up to Nottingham together in the
tour van for tonight's gig. This is the gig that nearly didn't happen - an
eleventh hour search for a venue taking place when the original venue
suddenly fell through. I was determined to play Nottingham not only
because it provided a chance to meet up with my brother, and afford him
the opportunity to see the ever evolving Project Adorno live show, but
also, as I wouldn't be able to play every date on the tour, I was damn
sure that those I had committed to would happen! (After numerous phone
calls the day beforehand, I eventually found a sympathetic pub landlord
who agreed to accommodate us). Venue sorted - but most of the entourage
have nowhere to stay tonight - thinking that the Nottingham "leg" wouldn't
Everyone has a good look round the Abbey Mills market before we
eventually start making our way. The journey through (round? - were
getting lost here!) London takes ages (traffic, traffic, traffic - but
then, as Martin Amis once said, we are the traffic too). We finally
hit the M1 and begin the vertical trek north. Stopping off at a service
station a change of driver is called for - much to his surprise, Russell
Adorno suddenly finds himself quite literally in the driving seat - a seat
he occupies for much of the remainder of the tour.
Arriving in Nottingham we're marshalled round the inevitable one-way
system (everywhere's got one!). We stop to consult maps and ask for
directions before realising we've actually parked just outside the
| Adorno vs Dr Who |
|Somewhat unsurprisingly, audience attendance is sparse (though the
tour promoter has managed to get tour posters to the venue, which they
have displayed - despite the late organisation) - being a Sunday probably
doesn't help. Despite this, we make the best of it. My brother is in
attendance and he's brought a few friends in. We start late which curtails
everyone's set. We Am Janet play to a small and somewhat indifferent
audience (though one guy is quite vocal and contributes a few
light-hearted "hecklettes"). Pog plays a blinder tonight - fired up by the
antipathy/apathy. "Boring boy" is a fantastic song and something Pog could
Due to time restrictions, the Adorno set is short and sharp including
usual crowd pleasers (playing safe with "Library", "Double-act" etc) but
alas no "Broadway brothers" - which was to be included for my brother…..a
regret, looking back.
A few cover versions creep into the Pico set. Russell and I ponder
this…..first out-and-out pub gig of the tour….maybe they too are playing
safe….Lianne's mobile rings midway through their set - she must answer as
it's likely to provide a solution to tonight's accommodation problems!
Despite the low turn-out, it's a great night, everyone beginning to
bond and feeling as though the tour is just beginning to roll…..
Which is ironic really as this is where I have to leave it, missing out
on the next three gigs (in Bradford, Leeds and Birmingham) before
rejoining in Frome towards the end of the tour. The Bedsit entourage are
suddenly moving on - last minute accommodation has been found but it's up
near Bradford. Some late night driving ahead….
I return to the tour after a three day absence (during which time I've
been listening to CDs by all the tour bands (and at the approximate time
they would most likely be onstage - withdrawal symptoms?! Nah, not me!))
to learn that the whole crew have been involved in a car/van crash the
previous night. Luckily no-one is injured (except the van - needing
extensive repairs) and miraculously that night's gig still goes ahead.
Tonight's gig is in a small "front room" style pub in the quaint market
town of Frome in Somerset - it's all a bit like something out of "The
league of gentlemen"! There's a smallish crowd in to witness We Am Janet
(who seems to kick things off most nights). I've been listening to his
songs non-stop during my "absence" - hearing them tonight is like meeting
up with old friends. Pog is up next and I'm always reminded of
"Eastenders" as he asks someone to "mind the (distro) stall" (tonight it's
Russell). Pico have brought quite a crowd in (an apparently the tour has
been announced on John Peel's show).
The pub is heaving by the time Project Adorno take to the stage (I
think we headline tonight). For the first time on the tour we include
"Letter to a line manager" which goes down a treat - from then on in it
feels as though the audience are hanging on our every word - why can't all
gigs be like this? - they're all enjoying it, getting it and we feel like
rock 'n' roll stars! I sleep like a king that night in my quiet and
exquisitely clean B&B down the road.
We decide to explore the shops in Frome before making our way to
Plymouth for tonight's gig at the Nowhere Inn. Frome really is a charming
town, full of individual shops, oozing with character. We hit the charity
shops - and there are plenty of them in Frome. Roger buys a copy of
"Moving onto solids" - a handbook for parents with young children (The
cover alone is frightening!) - I'm still waiting for it to be
mentioned in one of his songs - in fact, I may well use it if he doesn't!
The glow from last night's gig is still with us on this sunny morning
as we head west to Plymouth (Russell and I going by car, the rest in the
van). This will be our second Project Adorno gig in Plymouth this year,
earlier in the year supporting "Magic" Mike's Gob Dylan punk band - that
was a crazy night - this one turns out to be even crazier! It must be the
We arrive in Plymouth early, with time to check out various second-hand
record and book shops. Pog takes us to some great sci-fi type shops
(where, bizarrely, I buy a Frankie goes to Hollywood "Two tribes"
12" (just how many versions/different sleeves/multiple formats of this
record are in existence? A completist's nightmare!)).
|The Nowhere Inn is packed to the rafters by the time we're ready to
go. This is a well known venue for most of the Bedsit posse - Paul/Pog
having played here on many occasions. Project Adorno are on first - I
decide to video the proceedings (this and the Colourhouse gig being the
only two that are filmed). It's a positive start to the evening - a warm
reception, though crowd are quite boisterous even at this early stage. we
stick to the more uptempo numbers in our pop-beat-poetry repertoire - "Sex
Pistols", "Double-act" etc. Pog plays a blistering set tonight - somewhat
riled by a group of lads talking at the front - and worse, turning their
back on the stage itself - this only serves to fire him up - he is awesome
("On fire" I hear someone say)! |
Party time! Rob, Roger, Boo, Pam, Kerry
Pog - boring boy with a guitar,
Lianne & Boo
Pam and Russell - there 'til the bitter
But the night really and truly belongs to Chester who headline
tonight - their sparky tales full of aliens, superheroes and cartoon
characters all goes down a storm as does Pam's dancing (as ever). But it
doesn't end there….as an encore Chester are joined onstage by Roger, Boo,
Kerry (Pog's sister) and Russell, all taking it in turns to "chip in" with
various cover versions of punk classics. There's drum fills from Roger,
crazy Bez-like dancing from Russell and Boo, and Kerry proves herself to
be quite a multi-instrumentalist, playing drums, guitar and doing vox at
various points during the "set". I keep the video camera rolling….. Rob
finally calls it a day, discarding his guitar and stalking off for a well
earned drink - but there's no stopping the others - it's mad, yet
strangely fitting…there's a real party atmosphere (most of it caught on
video) tonight. One more gig to go (St Agnes, Cornwall) and yet, it feels
like the last gig of the tour……
In the event this turns out to be the case. St Agnes unfortunately
never happens - everyone just too plain exhausted and ready to go home.
But what a tour, what an adventure, what a great bunch of people!…..same
time next year? Praveen Oct 2002
RUSSELL'S TOP TEN BASEMENT BEDSIT
1) Pam's snoring in Birmingham, and the
various forms of physical abuse meted-out to try and make her stop.
For Susanne Pico it was all too much - she went and sat in the
kitchen all night.
2)Bradford Library. Nice place. My friend
Suzan - a Bradford native - said if I'd gone into the library's
cafe, I could have seen a mural of a monkey engaged in an act we
cannot describe on a family website. Sadly I missed
3)Roger getting locked in the Colour House
4)Birmingham: taking breakfast to Boo (who had slept
in the van), feeling only slightly silly walking along the suburban
streets with a tray piled high with orange juice, fried mushrooms,
5) Paul reading his "Tripods" book instead of
map-reading. After ribbing him about it all week, I later remembered
that I'd once read the book myself. I'd obviously suppressed the
6) Group excursion
to Happy Shopper, Handsworth. A particularly poignant act of
bonding, under the circs. Not much there for the vegans,
7) Frome: Boo asking my friend Tracey to draw a
picture of a monster in his notebook. Drawing monsters is her
speciality. This one was a hippocamp, I believe.
breakfast with Pam and Roger in the University cafe, which then
stopped serving before the others arrived. Ooh, touch of
9)My old chum Simon Pitt emerging from
the crowd at Birmingham. I'd not seen him for 11 years and didn't
even recognise him. Should have done, though - he was wearing one of
those velcro t-shirts with the words POETRY SLAG arranged on
10)Oh yes - and all the gigs, too.
The obviously home-administered tattoos of the lorry-driver who'd
narrowly failed to kill us on the M1. What the hell were they
supposed to be?