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A Kitchen in Surbiton, 4 October 2009
venue for Francis Dunnery's latest house party
is now a listed building
I did have
to blink at my computer screen, when I was invited to attend a gig by
former It Bites frontman Francis Dunnery to be held in a kitchen.
I've attended many low key gigs in my time, but in a kitchen? It wasn't to
be scoffed at. So off I went with my knife and fork (sorry pen and paper)
to the suburban town of Surbiton and the home of former Kerrang journalist
Geoff Banks, who is tonight's host.
time I saw Francis Dunnery perform was when he was in Robert Plant's band
back in 1994 in front of thousands at the Glastonbury Festival.
Today is the only time I can literally say it's a full house. 37
guests were here today including music industry luminaries and devoted Dunnery fans.
We all crammed into the kitchen of this semi-detached house, with many
sitting cross legged on the floor, there was a smell of burning coming from the
oven as the couscous was more than ready. It was so crammed in the
kitchen that some watched through the outside window from the garden.
This was so
intimate, there was no need for speakers or microphones, just an acoustic
guitar. As Francis Dunnery entered the room to a round of loud
applause, it looked as if he just walked in from the pub after watching
the days football game of the Rangers Celtic match as he was wearing the
green and white hooped shirt of his beloved football team. I was
struck by how much he has changed over the years, his hair cropped and his
long blonde flowing locks long gone. (It wasn't actually Francis but a
cropped-hair lookalike who plays for the local second XI - ed)
Dunnery introduced us to Dorie Jackson who would be helping out on backing
vocals and then went on to tell one of many stories he would be telling
today. Brimming with confidence and never pausing for breath ,he
held our attention throughout. Explaining that this tour will
consist of only It Bites numbers to be called 'The Human Ego'
Francis and host Geoff Banks
With that he
would go on to explain the meaning of ego, the meaning of astrology and
also the meaning of meaning. Definitely been reading a lot of books on Zen
Buddhism in his spare time, but we all listened intently and made us laugh
at the same time. (Until we realised it was an imposter - ed)
could've ended after just one song during 'Kiss Like Judas' when Dorie
Jackson stood up to sing and nearly banged her head on the boiler. Quick
intervention from Dunnery saved the day with his guiding left hand.
was a surprising song, Francis (We are on first name terms by now),
explained that this was the song that got them a record deal with Virgin
Records whilst living in a squat in Catford. He later went on to say
how more fun it was to play in private houses than it is to play in
Madison Square Gardens, although even he had not played in a kitchen
before. (And vowed not to ever again, he hates couscous - ed)
The songs in
their acoustic form sounded so much more alive and beautiful in this
stripped form. At times encouraging the captive audience to join in on
the chorus which they did in fine unison. I personally kept my mouth
firmly shut as I didn't want next door's dog to start howling.
soon passed by and things were getting heated in the kitchen as he left us
with 'Still Too Young To Remember' with everyone singing along to the
refrains of ''Don't you know, don't you know...you know''. I was
completely bowled over and left to dry by this unique performance.
around for half an hour afterwards and chatted and posed for photos before
washing his hands of us and disappearing into the suburban darkness as we
micro-waved him goodbye. I couldn't pan this at all and if you've
got a few quid stuffed under the mattress then you could do no wrong in
booking a very talented guy. Truly a memorable night.
Set list: Kiss Like Judas/ Holiday /Underneath Your Pillow /Hunting The
Whale /Sister Sarah /Yellow Christian /Back In New York City /Whole New
World /Still To Young To Remember.
by Mark Taylor
(centre) with Mark Taylor and It Bites fan Andy Rawll before Francis made
his exit on a 1953 Raleigh bicycle.
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