So here we are: the last gig of the tour. I’m currently sat on my sofa with my laptop on my knee thinking about last October when I sent out a tentative email to my mailing list asking them if my arriving at their front door with my guitar was something they’d like. I proposed 8 gigs over all, a mini-tour if you will, but after a response that I couldn’t quite believe, I found myself embarking on a three and a bit month tour around the UK to play 22 living room gigs! The last of which (but not the least) was on Saturday in Poole, hosted by the lovely Susan Luminati.
You’d think that, it being the final gig on this tour, that there should be some sort of massive finale, like a gig that lasted all night or one that I had to play on someone’s roof; y’know, something mammoth that would sum up three month’s worth of invading people’s living rooms with my guitar… but Saturday wasn’t like that. Instead, I was treated to a very relaxed last gig of the tour: a friendly audience and only a half an hour set at 2 o’clock in the afternoon! Brilliant.
Myself and Sabrina (who’s probably accompanied me on more gigs on this tour that anyone else – she deserves a medal) arrived at about 1.30pm at Susan’s home, a beautiful house that’s only about ten minutes away from the beach. We met Susan at the door and she led us into the living room, which contained all the things you’d expect to see in a living room: sofas, a coffee table and… an indoor swimming pool. Now, I’d like to tell you that I performed the gig floating about on a large inflatable crocodile in the middle of said pool, but sadly I didn’t. Let’s face it, it might not have worked (might not). As it was, there was an incredible buffet of food laid out on the table and 20 or so of Susan’s friends all gathered there to celebrate her birthday. I perched myself on the ledge next to the swimming pool for the first two songs, but then decided to stand up when it came to ‘Go’ to walk around and teach them their parts, so for the last time, here’s the scores:
Which leaves them with a very nice 22/30 – they were very tuneful!
After I had played, we stuck around for a bit to have a chat with everyone before saying our goodbyes and heading to Poole beach. Despite it still being really very cold (it is February, after all), I decided that since we were at the beach it would be stupid not to go for a paddle in the sea. I don’t regret it, but I did lose all feeling in my feet for a good ten minutes. Below is my reaction…
On this tour I have had the opportunity to travel the country and see some awe-inspiring and beautiful areas of the world and meet hundreds of fascinating people in the process. I have visited 15 counties, with Buckinghamshire as my most visited (I played there four times! Thanks, Bucks), and through the kindness of people I had never met before, I was invited to play in their houses, big and small, remote and inner city, to audiences ranging from 11 to 50 strong, all sat on sofas, cushions or garden furniture to experience this thing called a Living Room Gig. Under this banner, I was given the chance to play on a nuclear submarine in Plymouth, which I would never had the opportunity to do otherwise and which has gone down as one the best days I have ever had. As such, it would not right for me to finish the last blog post for this tour without saying a HUGE, HERCULEAN thanks to the following people:
First up, the hosts of every gig – even though they had genuinely no idea what the gig was going to be like, every single one of them welcomed me, a complete stranger, into their home and made each gig completely enjoyable and an unforgettable experience. The hosts of the gigs that were too far away from London even offered to put me up for the night, so in the order that the gigs were in, I want to give the warmest and most heartfelt thanks to…
Jo Rice, Keith and Judith Turland, Anne Tasker, Roger Morgan, Jayne and Sophie Cookson, Sally Garrett, Donald Strachan, Fiona McGregor, Kathy Findlay, Ian and Amanda Slack, Sue North, Stephen Micallef, Lucy Brazier, George Harvey, Karen Rice, Jayne Swallow, Carolyn and Will Arnold, Jon Williams, Andy Kimmings, Maggie Fraser, Cleo Carruthers, Malcolm and Jenny Redman and Susan Luminati. Thank you all for making this tour the success it was!
Secondly, I would like to thank my dedicated and lovely troop of musical guests. They were all completely happy to follow me into the unknown and join me in doing something that, in the beginning, I wasn’t even sure was going to work! I’m very, very lucky to have some brilliant and talented friends who will allow me to utilise their skills for my own means ;), so a massive, massive thank you to….
Sabrina Head (vocals), Nicola Redman (vocals, ukulele, comedy), Andy Chapman (percussion), Phoebe Gardiner (vocals), Anna Stainton (vocals), Charlie Wilkinson (guitar and ukulele), Lauren Carter (vocals) and Jenny Forsyth (vocals). I owe you all dinner and a beverage of your choice.
Last and certainly not least, thank you to every single person on this tour who I’ve met along the way and who bought a CD, signed the mailing list or has subsequently read this blog or visited my website, Facebook or watched any youtube videos that I’ve put up! The whole point of this tour was to meet people on a more personal level, to ‘break down the barrier between the performer and audience’ as I’ve been saying at the beginning of these gigs, and safe to say, I have massively enjoyed meeting and talking to the people who’ve frequented the living rooms that I’ve played in!
One of my favourite things about this tour has been the ‘Go’ sing-a-long competition – at first it was just an excuse to have some fun, but it’s amazing how competitive each group got, especially when I’ve informed them that they’d be scored! It was brilliant teaching people the parts and I loved that most people really got into it, but I was very happy to gleefully force those who weren’t so sure about the whole singing thing to join in anyway. ;)
So which group won? If you’d like to see where your group came over all, here’s the final scoreboard with the host’s name and location:
27/30: Sue North – Prestwood, Buckinghamshire
26/30: Cleo Carruthers – Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire; George Harvey – Aldbury, Hertfordshire; Ian and Amanda Slack – Chesham, Buckinghamshire; Nicola Redman – Haltwhistle, Cumbria
25/30: Keith and Judith Turland – Stokesley, Yorkshire; Andy Kimmings – Huddersfield, Yorkshire
24/30: Jon Williams – Bradninch, Devon; Stephen Micallef – HMS Vigilant, Devon; Fiona McGregor – Reston, Berwickshire
23/30: Jayne and Sophie Cookson – South Warnborough, Hampshire; Malcolm and Jenny Redman – Bush Nook, Cumbria; Maggie Fraser – Pelynt, Cornwall; Jayne Swallow – Ropley, Hampshire
22/30: Karen Rice – Bramley, Hampshire; Lucy Brazier – Martley, Worcestershire; Sally Garrett – Penn, Buckinghamshire; Anne Tasker – Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent; Susan Luminati - Poole, Dorset
21/30: Jo Rice – Ilminster, Somerset; Will and Carolyn Arnold – Chesham, Buckinghamshire
20/30: Roger Morgan – Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire; Kathy Findlay – Kelso, Roxburghshire
Well done to all the groups and thank you for your brilliant participation!
So to the highest scorers were… *drum roll*… Sue North and her audience in Prestwood! CONGRATULATIONS! I should point out that more often than not, the scores for each group had very little to do with the number of people in the room. In fact, the winning group only had 18 people in it, but they made the loudest, most enthusiastic and entertaining sound that I had heard on the whole tour! Sue, something will be coming in the post for you as a small prize. I would post a picture of it up, but I haven’t finished making it yet…
Right, well that’s it! I suppose my very last thanks goes to you for following this blog – I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about the tour as much as I’ve enjoyed doing it! If it has, by any chance, inspired you to host a living room gig of your own but you think you’ve missed the boat, never fear because… YOU HAVEN’T! I will, without doubt, be doing another living room tour at some point; possibly later this year, possibly next year, but if you’d like to throw me a line about hosting a gig to email@example.com, then I’d love to hear from you!
Thanks again for reading and if you come to a gig, please come and say hello – it would be lovely to meet you. :)
P.S. Below is a little video I’ve thrown together amalgamating loads of the videos and photos that I’ve collected along the way on this tour, plus evidence of some very enthusiastic ‘Go’ sing-a-longs! Enjoy…