MJ Hibbett; James Walsh; Annabel Edmonds; Simon Topping: live at The Pipeline, Brighton, Wednesday 19th October 2022

The poster (design by N. Bailey)

It was my first gig, and MJ Hibbett’s 873rd*.

I’ve been on stage plenty of times for comedy, but this was the first time I’d stood up to sing my songs at strangers.

The Pipeline.

On a night where much of England was glued to its smartphones, trying to ascertain the latest in the Liz Truss melodrama, I announced myself on stage as the latest leader of the Conservative Party.

And that, as my first policy, I had shut down all other culture facing venues in Brighton, for reasons of austerity.

Edmonds, not Andrews.

“Who here thinks they’re at a comedy show?”

A cheer.

“Who here thinks they’re at a gig?”

Another cheer, slightly less certain this time.

Both groups were correct. This was a cut and shunt, comedy and music welded together as convincingly as a mini metro and a Lexus would be by someone who doesn’t understand motoring metaphors.

The first half started with Simon Topping, Brighton comedy impresario and guitar owner. His conceptual bag is filled with improv.

Simon Topping.

He broke the fourth wall as a scion of Henry VIII, wandering into the audience to ask for gifts for the King, and lured a game audience member onto the stage for a retro, random-suggestion workout.

Audience literally warmed up, it was time for Annabel Edmonds, wrongfully credited as an Andrews on the poster in accidental homage to an old Guardian colleague.

The only person on stage without recourse to an instrument, Annabel did a great tight set on class, Surrey, and – erm – being the only female member on the bill.

Go for a wee. Buy a beer. The second half impends.

Euan introduced me, and I started with a slightly awkward reference to James Walsh out of Starsailor (whom no one seemed to have heard of) and Ed Sheeran (whom people certainly had).

I played:

The Fish Are Now English

All My Little Words (Magnetic Fields cover)

First Dog In Space

A Box To Hide In (Chris T-T cover)

Secret Dream Wife

Mainly I remember the mistakes: getting lyrics wrong or losing my strumming pattern. Euan, who introduced me, reassured me that no one really noticed but I was frustrated. I should have practiced more.

It was surreal singing a Chris T-T song at Chris T-T, something I would liken to a Radiohead obsessive performing Kid A in its entirety to a nonplussed Thom Yorke.

But Chris wrote me something kind afterwards, so I am encouraged, which is a dangerous thing.

Hibbett was brilliant as always. I especially enjoyed 20 things to do before you’re 30, It Only Works Because You’re Here, a song about having a bad back called, I believe, “Bad Back”, and a notably joyous Boom Shake The Room.

Overall: would ukulele again. I just need to figure out when and how to do my second album, and what else that’s inside me both needs and deserves to come out in song form.

I hope I can do myself justice.

MJ Hibbett’s own write-up of the night (and links to all his songs) is up on his website. His latest album is called The Unearthly Beauty of MJ Hibbett.

* ish

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