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Friday, September 28, 2007

CD StandIt's Chris Difford of Squeeze! You'll have to excuse the blurry photograph - I was on the floor at the time and my hands were shaking with excitement. Or possibly lack of food. It was lunchtime.

It just so happens that this week is Brighton Live week, during which over 250 local bands are playing free gigs around the city to poor people like me who wouldn't normally part with cash to go and see them. We missed a free concert on Tuesday night by Jake Shillingford of My Life Story, which took place only 200 yards from my flat, because despite Lisa being a big fan of the band, she wasn't quite enough of a devotee to know the lead singer's name, and therefore didn't realise who he was.

Fortunately, however, we're both big enough Squeeze fans to have heard of Chris Difford, and I'm pleased to say that despite being an international pop star for thirty years, he's not above playing a free gig in a room over a pub at 1:15pm on a Thursday.

Well I say 1:15pm. That's the time he was due to start, but I can't be certain that he did, because obviously we weren't there. Yes, in a shocking twist of fate, Lisa and I arrived late. Which is not like us at all. Unfortunately, due to Lisa's hectic schedule of engagements, we were unable to leave before 1:05pm, it then took us twenty minutes to walk to the pub, a further ten minutes to wander aimlessly up and down Trafalgar Street trying to find the pub, and a final five minutes in the pub trying to find Chris Difford.

But at 1:40pm, having spotted a handwritten piece of paper stuck to the wall saying "Chris Difford upstairs -->" (it was hardly the name in lights I was expecting), we eventually came crashing through a closed door into a darkened room just as he finished 'Black Coffee in Bed'. But the good thing about making a noisy entrance right at the end of an intimate gig is that it gets you noticed. So as we sat down on the floor at the front, Chris turned to the audience and announced how guilty he felt at finishing the gig just as we'd arrived. He then exchanged a few words with Lisa, who persuaded him to do an encore, and he duly sang 'Tempted'. It was possibly the finest four-minute concert I've ever attended.

Floors & WallsSo inspired by our brief encounter with Chris Difford, we decided to make the most of Brighton Live by going to the Joogleberry Playhouse last night to see Floors and Walls. Yes, Floors and Walls. They might sound like a cleaning product, but they're actually an alternative pop-rock band who are almost young enough to be my children. They were supported by the dubiously named Mascara, an all-girl trio who list among their influences 'each other' and 'chocolate'.

Both bands are signed to South Coast Sounds, which in Mascara's case is a bit of a shame because it precludes them from entering The X Factor, and with the dirge which passes for vocal talent on that show, I'm telling you now, they would walk it. Lead singer Stephanie had the kind of voice which would make Michelle McManus crawl under a rock in shame. That's if she could find a rock big enough.

As for Floors & Walls, they were excellent. In fact they were so good I've just ordered their album from HMV. Watching videos like this one (which was filmed in the multi-storey car park down at the marina), you don't realise just what a stunning voice Alex Adams has. If I were him I'd spend less time rapping, and more time showing people how well I can sing. But what do I know? I'm 34 and I've got a moustache. I don't think I'm their target audience.