MJ Hibbett And The Validators, Wilmington Arms, London
Thursday 26th January, 2012
I’m at the Wilmington Arms in Clerkenwell, Central London, a loverly pub full of chatting media-type people, trustafarians and me and my mate. The Portobello mushroom burger with cheese that I ordered from the bar arrives. Within seconds I realise my mistake. This is not a piece of cow in a bun with cheese and mushrooms on it. This is a couple of big flat mushrooms in a bun with cheese on them. I am slightly annoyed by this but my irritation turns to joy when I bite into it and it turns out to be delicious.
This is spookily appropriate for this evening as it is exactly the sort of thing that Mark Hibbett could turn into a song. It would be called “I Bought A Veggie Burger Once” and despite the mundane subject matter, it would, like, totally ROCK.
Hibbett has been writing and recording his vignettes of everyday life with its minor tribulations with, more often than not, a positive twist at the end, for well over a decade.
He’s produced a fair body of work in this time and has what is generally known as a “small but devoted cult following”, although to be fair most cults are not this friendly and polite. Can’t see the assembled audience at the Wilmington tonight brainwashing anybody or blowing anything up.
This evening is the launch for the excellent “Dinosaur Planet” album, which is a War Of The Worlds-style musical / concept album / rock opera concerning the fate of the dinosaurs, who as any fule kno, disappeared mysteriously 65 million years ago …
… but now, they’re BACK in a funny, charming and utterly ludicrous tale involving…
(*** MILD SPOILER ALERT ***)
dinosaurs that talk like pirates, giant robots, and the Battle Of Peterborough.
(*** END SPOILER ALERT ***)
Tonight is also a return to the London stage for full backing band The Validators, who provide the perfect accompaniment to the tunes – indie, a bit wistful, rocky at times, with a superb violin lilt courtesy of Tom ‘Tiger’ McClure, who was once in a band called Lazarus Clamp, which endears me to him.
The set lasts around an hour – WAY too short! – centred on five songs from the new album. Each song has a range of guest stars playing policemen, dinosaurs and giant robots (look, buy the album, it does all make sense, really it does).
The new stuff is well received although the album works better when heard in its entirety – hopefully once the album starts selling by the truckload we’ll get the full staged version at the Hammersmith Apollo with full cast, guest slots and expensive merchandise.
The FREE plastic dinosaurs handed out during the set were a start, though.
The greatest hits selection goes down best.
“Do The Indie Kid” is accompanied by appropriately random dancing.
“The Lesson Of The Smiths” always raises a smile – how can you not LOVE a song that starts:
“Morrissey, Marr and Barlow changed my life” ?
Finishing, appropriately enough, with “Billy Jones Is Dead”, a song about reminiscing about The Old Days and what everyone’s getting up to now.
Highlight for me, though is “Easily Impressed” , which always strikes a chord as it celebrates taking delight in the wonderful small things in life. Like porridge, and cricket, and pot bellied pigs, and free plastic dinosaurs given away at gigs.
Which is what makes MJ Hibbett GRATE! Which is why you should all treasure him and buy the album so he keeps on making more.
Did I mention the dinosaurs talk like pirates? 8=)