All the gigs of my life

All the gigs of my life: Gig 131 – My Life Story, Friday, October 14, 2016, The Borderline

A weekend full of high kicks and humungous tunes began here!

As far as gigs were concerned, October 2016 was definitely a month of revisiting bands I hadn’t seen for many years. I’d just been to my first Suede gig in fourteen years the previous weekend, and now here were two nights of My Life Story thrills – a band I hadn’t seen for a whole seventeen years. So long, in fact, that it seems that I’d forgotten just how perilous a My Life Story gig could be. From my diary:

‘Bloody hell! That was a bit close, wasn’t it? So damn close I feared I might be KO’d by Jake’s high kicks! No barrier whatsoever!’

My Life Story were a band I’d seen four times in the late 90s, and they had always put on a riotously good fun show, but somehow I’d slipped away from their fandom in the new century. But now it was 2016, and time to revisit all my old faves – and luckily, so many of them were still there waiting for me.

‘So off I strode at 7.30pm. I had planned to go bag-free, but the MLS twitter and facebook pages had instructed us to bring a bag for our free 7 inch single. I got to the Borderline a bit after 8pm, picked up my single, though when I’m ever going to have a turntable to play it is anyone’s guess, and ventured down into the rock’n’roll basement.’

Said 7 inch single of “24 Hour Deflowerer” did languish unlistened to for a few years, but as viewers of my latest vlog will know, I do now have a record player, and having recently been converted to the love of vinyl I am commencing a new collection in earnest!

The support band were on as I entered the venue, ‘Sacrifice and Bliss, impressively mascara’d and the singer boasting an impressive feathered head dress. Kind of like glam death metal.’

Despite this exciting spectacle, the crowd were hanging back somewhat from the stage, but meandered forward when the support set finished. ‘It’s hard to know what to do with yourself when there’s no barrier. But I found a spot just slightly left of centre and waited for MLS. The crowd was, as ever with these middle aged gigs, quite bloke heavy, quite bald and beefy blokes at that, who you’d never expect to enjoy a bop and a sing to “Sparkle” or “The King of Kissingdom”. But there were also a scattering of ageless glam girls, and I resolved to wear something a bit more glittery for gig number two.’

And when My Life Story took to the stage, it turned out to be a very different version of the band I’d first encountered in 1997.

‘So it’s clear now that My Life Story is just Jake Shillingford and whoever he decides to bring along. I knew the days of the string and brass sections were long gone, but what I did not expect was the extreme youth of the other four – some barely in their 20s. I wondered if these were plucked from Jake’s student cohort from his new life as a songwriting teacher in Brighton. Yeah, I felt a little jealous of these young upstarts and their unfathomable luck at being in the right place and time to become a member of one of the greatest bands. But they were undeniably a great bunch of musicians. Just a little hard to conceive of My Life Story being made up of people who were barely born when I was hollering along to their classics at the Astoria.

Despite the startling youth of the new My Life Story band members, their live show was still as brilliant an experience as ever before, and this was largely due to the magnificence of Jake Shillingford.

‘Still. Who cares? when there is Jake! Still the high-kicking, tremolo-warbling showman. I felt a little guilty, being down the front but only really able to sing along with songs from “The Golden Mile”. But how amazing they were! The opening “Sparkle” was a thrill, but it was the sadder songs that really astounded. “Claret” and “November 5th” both showing that the full power and emotion of Jake’s voice has only increased over the years. “Strumpet” was a predictably demented singalong and “Mr Boyd” a predictably joyous swayalong, morphing into the surprisingly similar Sugababes tune “About You Now”. And of the others I of course had a massive bounce and holler to “It’s A Girl Thing”, and tunes like “Motorcade” and “Empire Line” were epic fun and I vowed to know all the words by the next time they toured.’

This was a gig full of warmth and wit, with much fun and japery to be had.

‘So Jake was chatty and lovely, little altered from his flamboyant 90s self tho’ more sedately dressed in a dark suit and white tee shirt. He told us the tragic tales of mishap and misfortune that had plagued the band in recent days. First the fact that all the 7 inches had been delivered the day before with the “y” missing from the band name on the stickers, so some helpful friend had had to spend the whole day restickering them. Hence the joyous shout of “My Life Stor!” as they returned for the encore, which was pretty damned hilarious. Also, their tiny baby drummer had sprained his wrist, with the resulting codeine overload making him play the wrong opening song, which was meant to be a shouty Exile Inside tune.’

And as ever, the gig ended in a riotous romp of some of their most monumental pop masterpieces.

‘“The King Of Kissingdom” was a wild bop and point, but even I was not prepared by how epic “12 Reasons Why” was, the string riff now screamed out by the guitar, a huge moshing shouting glory, the perfect end to this wonderful gig.’

It had been a truly uplifting and joy-filled evening of glorious pop song after glorious pop song. And the best thing was, I was going to experience it all over again the following night.

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