Call me Russ L

(Curate’s) Egg on my face. Not my fault.

Posted in Music by Russ L on 12 November, 2007

Right, it’s moan time. The Curate’s Egg is a likeable monthly night put on by Al of The Courtesy Group, at The Hare And Hounds in Kings Heath. They’re just ordinary gigs, really, but they tend to have interesting line-ups and provide an outlet for a different kind of ‘slightly strange’ to (say) Capsule’s ‘slightly strange’. If you see what I mean.

They have, apparently, struggled with attendance on quite a few occasions. I can’t verify that, as the only two I’ve been to have been the two with bigger-name headliners (Damo Suzuki in August and this here one with Gallon Drunk) and they’ve unsurprisingly been fairly busy. I suppose this makes me part of the problem, but Curate’s Egg nights are always on Thursdays and I have to work till 8pm most Thursdays. Getting from Walsall to Kings Heath on the buses takes time and tolerance for pain-in-the-arse-ery. Naturally, I turned up on this occasion (I wish I’d checked the exact time as I arrived now, for fact-relaying purposes) expecting to have already missed a fair chunk of the first band’s set at absolute best. I didn’t expect nothing to have happened yet, and for nothing to happen for quite a while.

Isn’t that a winning situation, then? No, of course it’s bloody not. Delays at one end lead to delays at the other. I got to see one song of our headliners, before needing to leave. One flipping song. Whodathunk that having your last band come on at just after twenty past eleven on a weeknight would cause inconvenience for some? Sadly, it’s not a one-off: the aforelinked Damo Suzuki gig went on well past this sort of time, and the Nightingales/TCG/Einstellung gig in February (not actually a Curate’s Egg gig, no, but a precursor to it as far as I can see) had late runnings too.

In all fairness, there didn’t seem to be droves of people leaving this time, so bus restrictions probably weren’t affecting many in attendance other than me. Nope; those in my predicament obviously just don’t bother to turn up in the first place. I can’t blame them.

What I did get to see, of course, was very good. The Courtesy Group (new line-up?) seemed a little bit more reserved than usual, but ‘a little bit more reserved’ on their scale is still madder than the proverbial biscuit tin full of otters. I and many others have tried and failed to describe them before now, and I’m not sure I’ll get any further by starting again now. They sound like the noise a can of Kestrel Super makes when you bounce it off the side of Curzon Street Station combined with the crash of every cat’s eye between Junctions 1 and 2 of the M5 exploding. With some great lyrical guitar playing. And with a Care In The Community Case on vocals. Or some such nonsense. They’re just great.

Now, you see, I quite liked Nightingales, but I don’t think they lived up to the promise promised by the little bit of their set that I saw last time. The effect of their well-worn suits and expressions (well… apart from the token young’un, obviously) was dispelled by the energy that their squiggly Beefheart guitar and stop-y start-y stop-start-eration conveyed, but for me (and looking at all the other folk in the room, it did seem to be just me), almost everything they did seemed to go on a bit longer than was necessary to make any sort of point whatsoever. I’ll admit I may well have been influenced unduly by the dawning realisation that I was barely going to see any of Gallon Drunk at all. I’ll have to try again with Nightingales at some point.

Gallon Drunk themselves, then. I heard the first song, which was a glorious punk-blues saxomophone honkathon, and then I had to leave to get the bus. Have I mentioned that this annoyed me a bit?

If you give a sod (and I really am undecided as to whether I do or not, but I’m leaning towards the latter. What’s the point, really?), the next Curate’s Egg is on the 20th of December, again at The Hare & Hounds, and features John Cooper Clarke. I always get him confused with Tenpole Tudor.

If you want a happier account of this gig, I’d recommend Pete Ashton’s words.


9 Responses

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  1. Pete Ashton said, on 12 November, 2007 at 7:50 pm

    For the record I saw you come in and think that was about 8.30. The gig finished at 12.30am.

    I, of course, live about five minutes walk away but it was still pretty late for a school night. I’m sure Al will have his reasons, one of them being people don’t turn up at eight. I’d say this is because most gigs don’t start at eight even when advertised as such.

    That said the following night Einstellung started at 8.30 and the whole thing was over by around 11.15 (I think – my brain had melted a bit by then)

    I think I can understand why he waits – no-one wants to play to an empty room and if people are going to turn up late then so be it. Plus the licencing laws now allow gigs to go on later, which is generally no bad thing. The problem, it seems, is the public transport system not keeping up with the times. I blame them.

  2. Russ L said, on 12 November, 2007 at 8:02 pm

    We did indeed see each other as I arrived, but it was most certainly not 8:30. I’m saying about 8:55-to-nine at absolute earliest (and that was after leaving work earlier than I should’ve done).

    I agree (and have said many-a-time before, although [interestingly enough, now I think about it] not on here) that public transport has completely failed to react to the new licensing laws, around here at the very least. This isn’t something you can just ignore and say “It’s not my fault” though.

    Well, you can, of course. It seems that many do. Buggered if it’s going to make me any more likely to turn up to your gig, though.

    In the olden days ‘just after half eight’ was a safe bet for the starting time of a three-band bill on a weeknight, irrespective of what it said on the flyer (no-one with the slightest lick of awareness of what goes on pays attention to flyer times, anyway). Ah, the good old days.

  3. Pete Ashton said, on 13 November, 2007 at 7:28 pm

    Okay, yeah, it was more like nine. I went out a couple of times and got mixed up. Curates came on at 9.15, I know that for sure.

    I’m on your side here though I must say it’s nice to have gigs that finish late in my area. I guess a question might be whether you’re the target audience for something in the H&H. Is getting two buses (or equiv) for a night out normal? One of the reasons I moved South from Kingstanding was because gigs at the Jug were out of the question for me even when they finished at 11.20 or whatever.

  4. Nailz said, on 14 November, 2007 at 11:50 am

    Why don’t you just give Al a beating for putting stuff on so late?

    I missed this Curate Egg thingy cuz I was poor. Will definitely be at the next one.

    Are you coming to see Jesu/Mono this Sunday?

  5. Russ L said, on 14 November, 2007 at 1:34 pm

    Peashton – I can’t speak for normal. If I was feeling flippant I’d say that I suppose normal is to go to two gigs a year at the NEC/NIA, or maybe the Academy if you’re feeling really daring. In terms of normal amongst regular small gig-goers, I have no idea.

    I would assume that they themselves are happy to get punters from any locale. Beyond that I do see what you mean but at the same time (and this is a fairly intangible thing) it feels to me as though the Hare & Hounds is becoming Birmingham’s most prominent pub-sized gig venue. I can’t really clearly define what I mean, but it feels like it is. As such, it seems a bit of a shame if people from nearby places (or even other parts of the city) are forced to rule out attending gigs there.

    Not that they are, of course, or not yet; just certain ones, it seems.

    Nizailz – Because: A) It’s bad form to beat up someone you’ve never been formally introduced to; and B) He’s much bigger than me.

    I certainly am intending to be there on Sunday, yes. All being well, anyway. It’s Jimmy The Gloves’ last ever gig with Mothertrucker.

    (Edit: Just noticed the website you’ve entered. That probably will actually take you somewhere, although I’m not going to click on it to find out).

  6. Ben said, on 21 November, 2007 at 12:52 am

    Sorry Russ but I’d personally count myself lucky. My first two experiences of the Academy here in Oxford have been blighted by the fact that the first of the three support bands have been off stage by 8.15, and the whole thing over by 10.30. I’d prefer to not have to leave work early to be able to see all the bands I’ve paid money for. But, yes I agree – there probably is a happy medium, and it’s not so straightforward when you don’t live within walking distance of the venue and are reliant on public transport to get home.

  7. Russ L said, on 21 November, 2007 at 6:51 am

    I’m not hugely keen on four-band bills, either, but still – if given a generic (and not tied to any particular line-up) choice of having to miss bands at either the start or end, I’d pick the start for preference. It’s less often going to be your touring bands who won’t be around for another year, and more often going to be local bands you’ll get more chances to see.

    There’s no ‘probably’ about it, though. There is a happy medium, and that takes the form of the way nearly every gig used to be before the licensing laws changed. First band on around half-eight-ish, done by eleven. It’s not like this has suddenly become impossible.

  8. Daren said, on 23 January, 2008 at 8:35 pm

    Hi Russ,

    This is Daren, the drummer from Nightingales. Thanks for yr kind words and you’re right… our performance at the Gallon Drunk gig wasn’t a patch on the Feb headliner.

    Anyway, don’t know if you’re interested but next Thursday 31st, my old 60s garage band Das Fringe are reforming and playing a free gig at the Hare & Hounds – and not only are we the Nightingales rhythm section, but Pete, the lead guitarist, is also the guitarist in the Fall… so we’re a bit of indiosynchratic indie supergroup!

    And I promise to have our set over by 11.10 at the latest, so no one has to leave early (unless they choose to), and we can all get rat-arsed after!

    Come and say hello if you make it over.



  9. Russ L said, on 24 January, 2008 at 9:58 am

    Sounds fun, but I’m afraid I won’t be there on the 31st. I hope it goes well, though.


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