On The Road Not Taken Blog



Show 3. The Thunderbolt, Bristol. 11th March.

By pauldodgson, Apr 1 2016 10:29AM

The gig when I start to enjoy myself.

As I write out a set list and eat a fortifying bowl of lentil soup and pasta, I realise I am not anxious. Well I am a bit but not much. This comes as a great relief. In fact I am actually enjoying the thought of the gig tonight. I am opening the bill at The Thunderbolt, a Victorian pub and music venue out on the Bath Road in Bristol. The headline act is my friend Kid Carpet.

If you have never heard of Kid Carpet then put the words Jesus is a Hedgehog into your search engine and don’t be surprised if you are singing it out loud on the bus tomorrow.

And if you like that and want more then look for Doing a Poo In A Forest. It’s a classic.

Kid Carpet (real name Ed Patrick) is a lo-fi genius who writes intensely catchy tunes made with Casio sounds, children’s toys and wonderfully offbeat ideas. After plugging away on the gigging circuit for years he discovered his alter ego was the perfect narrator of anarchic children’s theatre so now he does both, but tonight he is topping the bill for his (not quite) grown up audience.

The Thunderbolt has a stage in an L shaped room with the bar at the back. There are already people there drinking as I soundcheck. I plug into a powerful PA that makes a big sound when I hit the strings and remember being a teenager with my guitar plugged into an amplifier in the bedroom, mum standing at the bottom of the stairs shouting ‘It’s too loud!’ Nobody stops me tonight. In fact Dave the landlord and Gary the DJ give me a thumbs up from half way back.

It is hard to know what to do between soundcheck and showtime, so I am grateful to a couple of friends who have made the trip out to see me. I wander between them and the little dressing room, trying to look purposeful as I cross the stage but really having nowhere to go.

I am given a fantastic bigged-up introduction by Gary the DJ and launch into my first song. I try something different tonight and start with The Kingdom, a quiet number. It goes well and there are enough people listening to make the applause sound appreciative. Ten minutes in I play Wild Nights, a song I recorded 20 years ago and am playing live for the first time. As soon as I begin I know something odd is happening. It is like the frets are in the wrong place in the opening riff. Then I start to sing and it feels absurdly low. I am half way though before I realise I forgot to put the capo on and am singing in the wrong key. No one seems to notice so I carry on.

Half an hour goes by very quickly and when I finish I am feeling a little bit rock’n’roll as I bow low and wave to the crowd. I feel considerably less rock’n’roll half an hour later when the next act comes on. T-Toe is a man who sings/raps/plays the trombone and drinks multiple pints on stage. One number consists of him bending over, pointing at his bum and screaming ‘fuck my anus’ over a backing track. People love it.

Then Kid Carpet comes on and the whole place goes crazy.

The next morning I am up and out early to role play various criminals and witnesses for a barrister training programme at the University of The West of England. As I cycle though the cold morning air there is a tune in my head and four words on my lips. Jesus is a Hedgehog.

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