So I have been practising melodeon furiously ever since we got home from Center Parcs on Monday. And yesterday morning I went in to see Spiers & Boden at 11:30, and then join in the session.
That set turned out to be outdoors, on the 'Hayward Stage' -- actually a shoddy bit of concrete round the back of the QEH. Seating was provided in the form of inflatable brown paper bags. They worked really rather well and I've stored them in my brain for next time I'm running a Worldcon (muffled screams as correspondent is suppressed).
The session itself was jolly good fun -- good thing it was sunny though cos it would have been complete pants in the rain. Everything was played a bit fast for me. Chris Pitt, who I play with in the folk club band on Sunday nights, turned up as well, and I got chatting to a couple of concertina players (one of whom is a fine professional, Ralph Jordan).
I did 'sort of ok' with most of the tunes. The most scary moments were when they stopped playing and let the audience play. I think we'd have been fine if all the audience instruments had been together, but we were actually in groups of three or four around the place so you did have this sense of playing the tune badly on your own with hundreds of people listening. Luckily the Sunday night band has been quite good preparation for this.
We discovered that Bellowhead had a main set at 7:30 by the riverside, and then, hilariously, at 12:30 am as part of one of the late night RFH lucky dip concerts. So after going for the pub for a swift couple we went home, considering how we might get back. A swift call to coth, "how many favours do we owe you now", "I've stopped counting", and we agreed to drop the kids off at theirs, properly pyjama'd up and provided with sleeping bags. So we watched Doctor Who (which was fabbo; that's three good ones in a row something is clearly Wrong) and then dropped the sleepy kids off with mate and *drove* into London where we parked for free right outside the RFH.
Hall itself was set up for orchestra so we went off to get a drink figuring Bellowhead were on later, whereupon Steven made a 'Spot Hidden Melodeon Player Tuning Up in Bar' roll and sure enough, they were doing the sound check for the large open bar stage. It was set up with a few chairs (mostly behind pillars) and a big open space.
Bellowhead came on at 12:30 as promised to a crowd largely consisting of people who were enjoying the late bar and free music, not mostly Bellowhead fans as far as I could tell. Nevertheless, within about a minute everyone was moshing away merrily. There were lots of reels and chains going on so I chained my way to bang in the middle of the front row and then stopped. The audience seemed to love it all. They didn't really understand Death & the Lady and after that the band stuck to the livelier end of their set.
Anyway. Front row view, free show, free parking, free babysitting. I could get used to this gigs in the middle of the night thing. Have to sleep now cos we have to get the kids at *eek* 8:30am...