Claudine opened windows in July and then she played the ship’s piano…

So, anyway, the Wiyos were OK, a tad disappointing.

Next ticket on the board was for a much anticipated War on Drugs set at Thekla., which I enjoyed at the time but to be honest has been lost at sea in my memory. Again, it was … ok, but not quite the majesty I had been expecting.

(This may also have something to do with the fact that I failed miserably to record the evening. I do like to listen back…)

The third evening, perhaps the least promising of them all, was though, a different affair. A real beaut…

Darren Hayman

I’ve kind of tagged along with this guy’s career in half-arsed fashion for a while, buying Dead Media in the nineties and then Pram Town nearly a decade later, but couldn’t by any stretch of the imagination style myself as a proper fan, (although both records are pretty fine. I couldn’t really tell you anything else about Darren Hayman and don’t really have much of a feel for how successful a songwriter he is. Just one of the sea of faces in my music collection…

Someone, however, had the inspired idea to book the man for a one-off show (he’s not touring, He said he only had one other date booked this year.) in the intimate (for “intimate”, you can read “flippin’ tiny”) surroundings of Cheltenham Everyman’s studio theatre.

Having spoken to a couple of friends at the War on Drugs evening about this, and knowing a few others going, I had very real fears that my group would be making up an uncomfortably large proportion of the audience, but as it turned out, a good forty or so souls had turned out making the studio pretty much full and very relaxed.

After a brief, impromptu (and somewhat restrained) opening set by our old friend Men Diamler (although I don’t think he calls himself that any more), Hayman, having been sat in the audience, came to the front and introduced his set with the words “I want you not to worry, It’s my responsibility alone to make it work, and… I’m feeling confident about this…”

He went on to play a charming set of his quirky, reedy songs, accompanied only by himself on piano (and occasional ukulele), chatting disarmingly between songs. He really seemed to enjoy himself and was warmly appreciated by what I think we can call the Cheltenham-Hayman cognoscenti. It was a very fine evening altogether.

I recorded the whole set, and will no doubt put it all together on a CD for the car at some point. I don’t trust myself to do this anytime soon, though, so I’ll just post the one song, for now, the beautiful title track of his new record “The Ship’s Piano”

The Ship’s Piano

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