...incoming... The... Guildford no Putney no Guildford no Putney... The... Guildford yes Lil... The... Putney yes Half Moon... The (yes) Monochrome Set! begin transmission...
A set of sugar tongs flew past the car on my drive up the A3. Swerving to avoid them set me on the road to Putney. It seemed only fair to take the hint although the view of the clouds was sadly lacking in Elvis shapes. There might have been a half moon if the drizzle had abated though.
The Half Moon was a good destination. And improved by an encounter with a Time Lord in the form of Tom Baker although apparently preferring the nomenclature of John and ready to provide aural transportation via keyboards not TARDIS.
Sidestepping for a moment into the beer garden I found Loopy Lou and Mr Bloggs with friend, Mick, a man for whom there is no internet alias as yet, a wisp that defies the electronic ether and exists only in…reality (note: please read that in an increasingly doom-laden echoing voice of disbelief). Better still was the presence at the table with them of Bid gently limbering up the vocal cords with civilised conversation.
Following an incredible antler related light show we moved indoors. Forces beyond our control meant that there had been a few changes to the line-up for the evening over the weeks leading up to the rendezvous. First to take the stage were The Fallen Leaves who drew a good crowd for their advertised brand of “R&B with an English accent”. We caught the second half of the set and very dapper they were too.
A short break was followed by the arrival on stage of The Monochrome Set. All were cool, calm and collected. Except for the hired hand, the frenetic drummer who picked up the pace (or according to alternative facts – it was actually Mike Urban their full time drummer, who was on the last album and is happy to sign autographs etc Etc EiTC). Dr Who had become his own glamorous assistant, delightful in powder blue and nimble of finger. Andy “The Stare” Warren, tidy in black, makes one wish that one had a job that they could carry out with such unflappable, mellow ease. A man at one with his bass. Finally Bid, bringing the whole together, completing the set.
An excellent opener was provided in the form of Eine Symphonie Des Grauens. The set flowed smoothly from there, picking out tracks from throughout the years. As a relative new comer perhaps I could not appreciate the addition of Leather Jacket as much as those who had been waiting for its reappearance in the set for twenty years. It was however a great track and the rabbits at the front expressed their delight to one another. Newer tracks were Cosmonaut and Stick Your Hand Up if You’re Louche from last year’s album and only a relatively few weeks older, the hypnotic Z Train, a particular favourite of mine. Waiting for Alberto and Cowboy Country eased us towards to the close.
After a brief moment TMS came back with Bliss and an outstanding He’s Frank to finish. Mr Bloggs singled out Frank as his standout track of the night and then added Walking with the Beast as also being up there with it. The opposite end of the gig was Lou’s choice as her favourite, Eine Symphonie. A pair of bookends those two.
Have to say at this point a big thank you to Mr Bloggs for directing me in the, er, direction of TMS a couple of years ago. A very good recommendation that I’m happy to pass on to any reader who’s made it this far.
We remained behind at the end for amiable chats with the participants and half the crowd. A hint to anyone loitering after a TMS gig, if an otherwise friendly woman accosts you with the cry of “The…” please make her evening with a response of “…Monochrome Set” and a few further lines of the song. Running away is not an option but distraction techniques such as talking about cats can work for a time.
Beyond this was the pub disco. A few stalwarts dominated the floor, their ranks swelling and contracting with the unusual ebb and flow of hits and dance numbers. Somehow Nena’s multiple Red Balloons got us all up on our feet but it was late by then and it had been a long day, judgement was not at its best and nor perhaps were the moves. The DJ selected Prince’s When Doves Cry as a suitably uplifting track for a last dance… Great for encouraging punters to turf out. A chorus of “Guildford Lil” outside the Half Moon got everyone moving before the rain came down.
Words: Guildford Lil.
Photos: Mrs Bloggs.