The night of Friday 28th July, 2006 was, to the majority of the local music scene, a long awaited night. For that night was the party to celebrate Betika FINALLY releasing their new album 'Half Love'. The party was held at Centrestage, Westbourne. It's mainly a comedy club but occassionally they have bands play too. It was a truly great night out. If you were invited but couldn't make it for some reason then you shouldn't hesitate and go see a shrink! If you're involved in the Bournemouth music scene then this was the single most important event of 2006!
Lisa, Scott and I arrived at about 9:00, and bumped into Jenko (the drummer) on the way in. We had a quick chat about the evenings events and then went inside where we were greeted by Carolyn at the front desk with a kiss, a badge and some cakes! Mooro was also beside the cd player and mixer as he was DJing between and after the acts. The venue was already 80% packed and Toupe were in full swing. We completely missed the first act, the Old Psychiatrist Club (not sure if I spelt that right!). I'd never seen them before but we hear they're worth checking out!
I'd also never seen Toupe before but I thought they were really cool. The band is a 3-piece set-up consisting of 2 bass players and a drummer... and NO GUITARS!! Yep, you read that right - no guitars! One of the bass players was playing through a distortion pedal, thus mimicking an electric guitar but with a more beefier tone. It actually worked really well. They had a definite urban feel to them ... a kind of Rage Against The Machine funk but with smooth-guy drawled lyrics. Check them out.
During Toupe's set more people turned up and the temperture was started to rise! It was already a really hot mid-summers night outside and inside it was getting hotter. The ice in your drinks lasted all of 6 minutes tops!
At the back of the club (the opposite side to the stage) in front of the mixing desk/box was a table stacked out with copies of Betika's lovely new Album, each sheathed in all it's shrink-wrapped glory waiting to be snapped up for a tenner. The quality of the packaging, artwork and music ensure that it's a tenner well spent.... and the fact that I got a mention in the 'Thanks to...' section!! Brucie bonus! Lexi was on hand to smile sweetly and collect the cash. I already had an advanced copy given to me by Simone a couple of days previous so I had to hand my money to Lexi with an explanation as to why it looked like I was giving her cash for nothing!!
Lee from Lounge surprisingly arrived without Glen or Mark. Glen was looking after the baby and Mark was with Claire on some family thing. Lee made me laugh cos when he arrived to the front door her saw a sign saying 'By Invitation Only!!' and he was like 'Shit, I dunno if I should go in or not'. He gingerly walked through the front door to be greeted by Connie with the guest list saying 'Aha, Lounge! In you go!' Tick!
After a small interlude of music from DJ Mooro and shuffling of equipment on the stage it was time for Betika to entertain the masses. Before they went on stage they had their team-building group hug, which is now recognised as the norm to regular Betika gig-goers. After the hug instead of donning the stage they unexpectedly ducked the opposite direction to dive into a tent and walk to the stage in a tent! Hmmmm.
Introductions were not needed tonight as we all knew who was about to play. At the start Dave implored people to gather closer to the stage to avoid the 'Bournemouth Gig Gap' and to be as quiet as possible for the start of the first song ('You Can Call Me Brother') starts with nothing but a few whispery vocals from Carolyn. As soon as the song kicked in to the first verse we could all make as much noise as we liked and the dancing began.
While Betika were on stage Carolyn asked Simone and Lisa to man the entrance and make sure only guests were allowed in. This is where I spent most of the rest of the evening, not that it was a problem.... there was lots of room to dance and it was right next to the bar!!
Also by the front door was Alex and Mooro. Much randomness occured such as doodling drawings over the edges of the guest list....
... mocking eachother, pinching, flirting etc... just general mucking about and having a laugh.... as this clip will show...
...and stuffing a cake into Conrad's face...
Betika's set continued to create smiley faces all round. The set-list consisted of playing the album's songs in their entirety and in the order that they are on the album... although the played 'I Killed a Fly'! Rumour has it that they wanted to put this song on the album but decided not to at the last minute... and now they want it back on there again. So the next batch of Half Love COULD have 'I Killed a Fly' on it, thus making the ones that were purchased on the night limited editions!! One of the things that makes Betika's gigs so special is that audience participation is thoroughly encouraged and as per usual the audience was participating. Betika even went so far as to supply make-shift percussion instruments for the audience consisting of empty plastic bottles with brown rice in them. These proved popular and ran short in supply quickly. But that's ok, the one's who missed out grabbed anything within reach to shake or bang together so as not to be left out. At the end of 'Girlshaped' during Jenko's Samba-style drum solo was the bit where the now 100-strong percussion section came into their own. Led by Dave going mental at the front of the stage with a spare snaredrum.... cue clip...
They finished their set with 'The Best Thing Ever' and then left the stage to cheers and chants for more.... it was all a big wind-up cos an encore was always gonna be on the cards... they were just working the audience. That's entertainment. For their encore they sang a cover of Happy Monday's 'Step On' with a small section of Neneh Cherry's 'Buffalo Stance' for the middle eight section! Genius.
The evening was wrapped up with another quick DJ set from Mooro while everyone packed up and drank up. By this time the heat in Centerstage was at fever pitch so everyone started to spill outside and into the road and car-park opposite. All in all it was a good night.