06 April 2008


I will admit: I don't get invited to many album launches and it was with some diffidence that Mrs Botogol and I presented ourselves at the firmly-closed front door of Hurst House in Covent Garden. on Friday.

Before knocking I glanced again at my printed-out email
From: Chris Difford
: Boo Hewerdine
Message: ...
says your tickets are at the door
It didn't seem, well, it didn't seem very official. It didn't seem very authentic. Are all album launches publicised this way? What is it like to given the bum's rush? And what exactly is a bum's rush anyway? Does it hurt?

In last minute change of heart, and clothes I took off my jumper and stuffed it into my rucksack, wishing one more time that au pair hadn't ironed a crease into the front of my black jeans; and I knocked.

"I'm Botogol", I said, "and this is my wife"

And that was it - we were in: a small subterranean room, one corner cleared for action and, in another, a bar dispensing London Pride and chilled chardonnay. In other words: perfect. There were about 80 other assorted misfits there: Difford fans, Hewerdine fans and Paul Gambaccini.

The beers were free, so I had seven of them, and it was with blurry eyes that I caught sight of a familiar face - "She looks like Rosalie Deighton", I ventured to Mrs Botogol "Don't be silly dear - she is Rosalie Deighton". The room suddenly felt very hot.

It was with some some more diffidence that a round-looking Chris Difford eventually took the stage heading a four-person band of whom only the lean-looking Boo appeared completely relaxed and confident. An inappropriate anecdote about an inappropriate T-Shirt only compounded the unease and it was with some relief that the band eventually broke into music with the entertaining Fat as a Fiddle

(here's the official video)

The theme of the album is age: Difford's rapid-fire, quick-witted story-songs tell of memories, regrets, physical decay, nostalgia and missed opportunities.
My Mum played piano... she loved Gracie Fields
she would have been famous.. but we dragged at her heels
It was Squeeze, but submerged with a certain bleakness. Is that's what's life is like in our 40s? On stage Chris fiddled self-consciously with his old-man glasses, apologised for the coarseness in his lyrics, and shifted uneasily when he mentioned Squeeze and the old days. A softer, sadder version of Up The Junction didn't break the mood, either.

I liked it!

The album is called the Last Temptation of Chris, and is written by Chris and Boo, which is actually an intriguing combination when you think about it: how to combine Chris' long, densely-packed story lyrics with Boo's concise idea-in-a-single-phrase style?

At the launch there was no publicity material so it was impossible to determine who wrote what, but while Battersea Boys, and Fat as a Fiddle seemed all Chris, I fancied I detected Boo's style in When I am on my own I'm never bored. (I am probably hopelessly wrong)

Set list (so far as I can remember)
Fat as a Fiddle
Battersea Boys
On My Own I'm never bored
Never Coming Back
My Mother's Handbag
Up the Junction
Take Me I'm yours
End of the Party
The album launches Monday,but you can hear a few tracks on Chris's myspace page, and some previews on 7digital - via this clever little widget:

After the gig was finished we went to Asia de Cuba for a margarita. Because we could.

1 comment:

Old Fogey said...

That's interesting. Wish I was there. What I don't get is the Hancock reference in the album sleeve - well, partly in the social misfit context - but what's is it specifically? Hancock was a great comic. Unsurpassed.