18th October

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It’s bad enough getting up when it’s still dark. It’s bad enough leaving home when it’s still dark. But when it’s still dark when you arrive in London you know you were up early!

The reason I was up early was I was operating camera at a conference for The Economist. It wasn’t a massively taxing job but it was all day, however there were a couple of interesting presentations. The first was by a guy called Dov Seidman who has written a book called How which asks why business and morality seem to be mutually exclusive. One of the quotes he used summed it up it was something like “don’t do something because you have a right to do it, do it because it is right to do it!” As I said an interesting presentation and I was lucky enough to be given a copy of his book.

The other presentation was just after lunch (which itself was a nice veggie curry) and was about writing. The audience were lawyers and there were some fine examples of the way improvements had been made by companies simply by changing the way the right T&C’s disclaimers etc. In one instance he gave an example of a clause that phone operators were asked to read to customers before proceeding with a sale. He then showed a much shorter version that had replaced it which gave the same information but in a more compact way. He said that the company involved had saved £6m just by implementing the  shorter version!!

I had to leave site as soon as the show finished to get back home so I could go and pick up the French students and then go off to see Jefferson Starship. As i was walking down the street I put my hands in my pockets to get the keys out and they weren’t there. I suddenly remembered that when I couldn’t find my jumper in the dark that morning I decided to put my overcoat on. Unfortunately it was still on the floor at the venue. I had to try and call the guys who were still on site de-rigging and luckily I caught them just as they were about to leave. They retrieved my coat and put it in the drivers cab in the lorry!

Then when I got back Sarah gave me the news that the students were going to be an hour late and therefore wouldn’t be back until 8. This then became 8:30 and after I rang the venue and found out that the band were expected to be on stage at 8 it was starting to look like it wasn’t worth going. However as I drove back from picking up the students I reasoned that as the woman had said the support band were on at 7:30 it was in mind mind unlikely that Jefferson would be on at 8. Even if the support band only played for 30 minutes there would still need to be time to move their equipment off stage. So I reckoned that even if I got there at 8:45 I’d still see at least an hour and a quarter of the gig. So I decided to drive down and hope I hadn’t missed anything good!

I arrived at the venue and just as I was walking up the stairs I heard the familiar opening notes of their mega hit White Rabbit so I dashed down to my seat in the front row just in time to see them play it. It was a bit of a baptism of fire in my head to hear the singer Cathy Richardson sing White Rabbit as the first song I’d hear her sing but she has a great voice and takes the Grace Slick position in the band very well. I did wonder if something had been said by someone in the audience before I got here as I over heard her having a conversation with someone in the audience at the end of the show.

I have to confess that I’ve never been a big Jefferson fan – in fact the main reason I went was that it was so close to my house but on the whole I enjoyed it. The song choice was a bit odd at times given their back catalogue and that of David Freiberg who was also in Quicksilver Messenger Service. Apparently one of the things I missed before I got there was a rendition of Dark Side of the Moon and they did another Floyd number Set the Controls for the heart of the sun a bit later. Pink Floyd played at the Central Theatre with Jimi Hendrix back in the 60’s so maybe it was their spirt that forced their hand! Another oddity was the inclusion of  David Bowie’s Space Oddity at one point. A more welcome interlude was David Freiberg singing a Robert Hunter song – his voice is still very good despite the passing years.

On the far side of the stage Paul Kantner’s voice hasn’t travelled as well but he is still an interesting performer despite the fact that he has reached the ripe old age of 71. He occasionally had to prop himself up on a flight case behind him while playing but according to a friend of mine he doesn’t do this as much as he did a few years ago. he also headed off for a break in the middle of the set leaving Cathy and David to sing some songs as an interlude. One of the things I had worried about was that I recalled from reading a review of an earlier gig a week back that Wooden Ships had preceded White Rabbit but thankfully the set list had changed and it was later in the set. I know the song mostly from the CSN version but this was good too with some fine harmonies.

The only down points for me were the venue – not right for the gig with the audience seated throughout and the sound which was a bit wishy washy. having said that there were no “bouncers” in the hall so once I’d plucked up the courage to get my camera out I could happily click away to my hearts content!  I also thought the band could have extended the jams a bit on some of the songs as well, there were points where they just seemed to be getting going and then they’d change tack or the song would end. I think if they’d dropped some of the odder cover versions (the can keep the Hunter song and Set the Controls) and spin out the songs from their back catalogue then they be outstanding.

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