Monday, 3 December 2012

Seasonal Dodgy - Christmas shows 2012 and 1996

Hey! Anyone noticed?
And what better time for us give a blug (a plug in a blog) for our CHRISTMAS SHOW WITH DODGY in London on December 14th, with our guest @TheQuill - Mark Morris (from The Bluetones) and hopefully a few surprises. Tickets still available here:
Christmas with Dodgy - London O2 Islington Academy - TICKETS 

Oh, don't you just love that slowed down, shitty version of The Power Of Love, doesn't it just make you want to get to a John Lewis and spend - if you have anything to spend that is. Time's are tough round here, it's hard to spin a story to a twelve year old boy, that the reason he isn't going to get any presents this year is that this year Santa located his UK sleigh stable/depot in Tewkesbury, rains came, followed by floods resulting in all gifts sailing away down the Swanee confluence of the Severn and Avon - The Sweveronee, whilst the elves, reindeer and ol beardy bloke could only look inadequately on .. in horror... cheer up Tiny Tim, there's always next year, eh?
We'd like to write some witty treatise on this time of year but Charlie @charltonbrooker has already done it so brilliantly in his Guardian column so just go and read that

It seemed like only yesterday that Dodgy had our big Christmas show at Brixton Academy in London and it's great to be doing the O2 Academy in Islington this year.
When Dodgy hosted our Brixton show, we had already sold out the whole UK tour, with Brixton at the end and when tickets were selling well we got to achieve our aim of hosting a Brixton all-nighter. We always loved the Primal Scream all-nighters, so it was great to be able to do our own.
Being Christmas and our biggest gigs to date we wanted to do everything we could to make it special. Firstly, if you are going to do a big show, get a big stage and yes, a big stage set. After getting a blank from the record company and our management for a massive budget for set building, the drummer's brother came up with a perfect idea; he had trained at St. Martins College Of Art And Design in London and suggested we approach some of the students about the possibility of getting involved. We got a number and called the college rather speculatively enquiring "have you any student prodigies who would like to design and build a set for Dodgy on very little budget?"
Not only did they say yes but they enthusiastically gathered together most of their year group and did us proud. Game on. This is a while ago, what are you up to now boys and girls? We do know that at least one has gone on to bigger and better things, that's Pearl Bates who's now an artist as well as still working in theatre, TV design etc. but we'd love to hear from some of the others as well.

Also, at the time Dodgy were big fans of comedy and one of our favourite comedians and generally all round nice people we had met was @mrmichaelsmiley, now a top class actor who frightened us to death not so long ago in the movie Kill List. He hooked up with another up and coming comedian at the time @simonpegg, where's he now?
They did an amazing job, music and comedy, live on the same night, don't always best compliment each other but we were able to get away with it by dispensing with a snooty VIP bar upstairs and turning it into our very own comedy club - people still remember it, so it must have worked.

It also appears that we were somewhat trailblazing a way for this damn thing called t'internet at the time. Up until that point, without the help of modern social media, we used to write out a newsletter under the auspices of a made up character called George Winterbourne. We had books of postal addresses and if it hadn't been the faithful support of people like Damage and Chrissy H, the thing would never have worked but every time we put together a newsletter there would be a big envelope and stamping party - god knows how much it would cost with today's Royal Mail prices.
So, valuing the contact with our fans getting something called a website seemed to be ideal for us and slowly we were converting the mail addresses into email addresses to propel us into the modern world. Then someone suggested, what if we were to try and 'broadcast' the show onto/via the Internet - how good would that be?. Looking back on it, probably not very, as those people lucky enough to have access to the Internet did so via their phone lines. We enquired how this might be possible and were told that someone would have to install an ISDN line into Brixton Academy, we cheekily asked BT and to our surprise they said they would install one at the venue because they were testing out all this stuff too. The idea was that the system would be tested at lunchtime with us doing a live interview with Japan who were hours ahead in the day and then the big event and show broadcast would be in the evening.
We had already done a cracking show at the Academy the night before, so when we arrived on the day it was funny to see some changes in the venue. The webcast team had purloined a room at the academy and there were what looked like a motley collection of boffins and hippies (just about sums up the Internet then) looking at various computers - it was like Nasa mission control - Brixton, we're receiving you.

Apparently, the Japan connection went well - they were slightly more ahead on the Internet front and could see and hear us doing our interview from Brixton at the lunchtime. Later that night after Dodgy came off stage, we heard that the webcast itself was somewhat of a disaster, perhaps we'd overloaded the system and were probably at least five years in advance of where the technology actually was. In fact our tour manager had a portable computer (that's what they were then before laptops) and seeing Hippies vs Scientists taking an ugly turn he stepped in and at least, apparently those with suitable connections could hear audio, if not actually seeing us.

At the stage in Dodgy's career when we played the Brixton Academy Christmas show, we had a sizable live band, Richard on keyboards, a brass section and occasionally a backing singer or three. Plus a fantastic crew and some ever present friends - the stage set was impressive to say the least, so on the afternoon of the gig we got a banqueting table set up on stage and had a full Christmas dinner for everyone, with ALL the trimmings, rock and roll excess, you bet but it had to be done - it had been our hardest working year to date and everyone had contributed.
The music lineup consisted of ourselves and El Vez. El Vez is a larger than life Mexican/American rock and roll artist who we'd come to hear about through his campaigning and political edge to his songs which were funny and satirical. He had a Christmas album called Mexmas including songs such as 'Oranges for Christmas', 'Poncho Claus' and 'Brown Christmas' and put on a great show in true Christmas spirit, luckily we were able to get involved in bringing him over to do Brixton and a couple of other dates at Christmas including a memorable night at Liverpool Royal Court, anyone remember that one?
We also had a special guest lined-up, staying true to our Birmingham roots, with Roy Wood agreeing to join us on a version of 'I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day'
We've always been massive fans of Roy's music and can't be sure but think the only reason that he agreed to do it was that his daughter was a fan. Roy turned up with his guitar but chose to go to the front door rather than the artists stage door. He looks offstage, the way he does on, mad coloured hair and yes, he actually looks like a Wizard, the full Lord Of The Rings etc and of course had a load of trouble getting in as the bouncers were apparently unaware of who he was. Luckily one of our crew was on the look out for him and managed to get him in. As we're writing all this through faded memories, it's throwing up the question - did this really happen? And what do you know, we put it in google and this post came up on Frank Turner's forum - apparently he was asking his fans where was a good place to do a Christmas gig
"In 1996 I went to see Dodgy do an Xmas all nighter at Brixton, at one point they got Wizard on stage and played 'i wish it would be Christmas everyday' and as the song ended a load of fake snow fell from the roof. I was rather fucked on various things and the whole thing was amazing -a great memory. The gig finished at 6am and I made it to work by 9am. Half way through the day some old lady said to me 'i know what you;ve been taking' and winked at me. :wink:" Thanks to @atpmusic for that reminisce.
 Oh dear, snow - did we really have snow - actually we had met Snow ("Informer") in Jamaica earlier that year, during filming for the 'Good Enough' video but that's another story.
Hopefully a few of you who remember that Brixton night will actually be in a fit enough state to come this year for the Dodgy Christmas show at the O2 Academy in Islington on 14th December.
Remembering, that we also did special Xmas merchandising for that gig, Dodgy Christmas hats, Christmas mugs - yes you've got it, with our mugs in silly Xmas costumes and T-shirts - anyone owns one of these items perhaps get em up on Twitter to prove it wasn't all a dream
In fact anyone with any photos/memories of the Brixton christmas shows - get in touch.
See you on the 14th - for the gig goers it's an early show so you can get home if you have a fair way to travel or for those who want to party you get free entrance into the club after with majestic comedian @russell_kane on the decks - whooppee.