By Jude O'Flynn
If only my parents could see me now: a pint of lager, a packet of ten Sovereign, the Pokemon-stickered guitar, the old NYC baseball cap still glued to my head, and the grey ‘Madchester’ coat hanging off my malnourished frame. I’ve found a little circular table in the corner. I think I’ll just sit here, wait for my turn to perform, then scuttle back to my room and have a cry. I’m tempted to just do the scuttling and crying bits but I’ve spent most of the day on the song and if there’s a place for such pretentious tosh, surely this is it. I peer up from my pint: the concentration of females has been massively diluted by the presence of men with awful beards and I’m starting to believe that the college prospectus lied to me. Too many men and lots of guitars, which are much bigger and shinier than mine. Finally, someone enters the stage to kick off proceedings: a wavy-haired Butlins Beatnik whom I instantly dislike.
‘Hello! How you all doing! What night is it? Yes, young lady at the front, it’s Friday night! Well done! Yes, person sitting next to you, it’s open mic night! I am so looking forward to this!’
I am so looking for the exit but it’s impossible to leave: the place is packed.
‘Our first act this evening is Scott, who’s from the US of A. Scott, where are you?’
Scott is one of the bearded folk. He strides to the stage and pointlessly de-tunes and tunes his guitar.
‘Over to you, Scott!’
‘Thank you. Thank you so much. I’m so blessed to be here. Thank you everyone. I’m going to sing one of my own songs which, uh, is about the big guy!’
Interesting move: a song about his dad. Not many of those in the charts. This could be fun. Except that it isn’t about his dad and it isn’t fun…
‘…Everyone prays / We spend all our days / Together in praise / Of your glorious ways / Together in praise of you / Our Father / Together in praise / Of you…’
Urgh. Need another pint. Mercifully, the deity ditty is soon over and the whole room can bask in sin again…But Beatnik is welcoming onto stage another hairy giant and I brace myself for the news:
‘Rock ‘n’ roll! We have another friend from the other side of the pond. Everyone give Ryan a huge Cambridge welcome!’
Based solely on his appearance, it is entirely possible that Ryan could bring us level with a shameless tale of excess: a house party involving 500 people and something about ‘sleeping in my mama’s porch’.
‘Oh my, thank you all. Well, there’ll be no surprises tonight…’ Fantastic. One of my favourite songs on ‘OK Computer’. I wonder how the xylophone arpeggio will translate on his acoustic…
‘…This is my own song and it’s called ‘Hymn to Him’...’
For God’s sake, yet another song for God’s sake, and six out of the next eight performances are also self-penned tributes to our invisible creator. I wonder whether He would also have preferred the acapella version of Denmark’s Eurovision hit ‘Fly on the Wings of Love’ or the Pet Shop Boys solo act.
‘…And next up, we have…Sufficiently Rhythmical!’