Some years back, I was briefly playing "inaudible banjo" and "keyboards played with my feet" in a band called Skitanja. At a rehearsal back in about 2006, the band's twisted mastermind, Steve Potatoes, had introduced me to the wonderful music of R. Stevie Moore. I can still vividly remember being stood by his computer, listening to I Like To Stay Home streaming through the interubes. Incredible stuff, I thought! Crucial work, really!
Fast forward to earlier this year, and I happened to find myself sharing a flat with Mr. Potatoes. So it was that I heard first-hand when the simply incredible happened - Potatoes (possibly whilst drunk) had booked R. Stevie to come and play in Bournemouth! It's little understatement to suggest that, for myself and many of my friends, this incredible booking coup represented the most exciting thing to happen in Bournemouth possibly ever! R. Stevie was touring outside the US for the first time in his forty year career, and was not only coming to the UK, but to Bournemouth!
An overlarge supporting bill was arranged, posters and flyers were printed, and the mayor was informed.. and so it was that, on an uncharacteristically hot British summer's day, R. Stevie arrived in Bomo. (Now, don't ask complicated questions, but suffice it to say that he arrived from the continent, driven by one Steve Potatoes..)
Recently-opened superior record-purchasing emporium Rose Red hosted an afternoon acoustic session, with a relaxed R. Stevie playing a raft of lesser-heard (but genius) songs to an appreciative crowd, on the shop's wonderfully airy and light lower floor. As a fan, it was an unbelievable treat to experience R. Stevie playing so casually, in such an intimate environment. Really magical stuff.
With hellos said to R. Stevie, and the instore cola supplies drunk dry, there was some aimless wandering in sunny Boscombe (something about a Sleeping Dog Lying test, the so-called woof response, on the counter in Richer Sounds?), before I headed to the venue for the evening show, Champions, with Martin and Ed.
Some of the area's best weirdo bands were also playing: Martin's ever-incredible Powdered Cows, plus a hastily reassembled but on-skronk Skitanja, featuring the afore-mentioned Ed, along with Martin, Potatoes and Inspector D. I. Signs. I played a Hardsparrow set too, but there you go. Nothing is perfect.
Pretty soon, it was nearing time for the R. Stevie main course. He seemed a bit distant and unsettled, compared to the earlier show. It's not hard to wonder what it must seem like to a seasoned musician like R. Stevie, to be in a foreign country and arrive in a venue like Champions, which is, quite frankly, a bit of a weird place at the best of times (part venue, part Overlook Hotel, despite great improvements and the best efforts of the owners to revamp it.) The stifling warmth of one of the hotter days of the year was probably not helping much either.
Nonetheless, the gig was great. Following fantastic sets from Skitanja and the Powdered Cows, R. Stevie's touring backing band, Tropical Ooze, played a set which was worth the price of entry alone.
Then R. Stevie played. Despite his seemingly unsettled mood, and the oddness of seeing a legend like RSM in a local venue that I'm not hugely keen on, it was fantastic to get to jump around to the actual R. Stevie Moore, playing the actual hits, backed by a solid band, surrounded by friends. Two of these friends, Rich and Lucy, had travelled down from London for the evening, just to see R. Stevie. The band swung into the sublime Play Myself Some Music, and all was wonderful with the world. The whole day was really such a special event.
The set began to draw to a close earlier than I had expected, with a bit of an awkward stand-off developing between RSM onstage, and a slightly confused audience. Eventually, temporarily placated with a bottle of wine, the set continued for a short while longer, before finally ending with his celebrated solo rendition of the Popeye theme.
After the gig, I got R. Stevie to re-sign the back of my i-Pod (he'd actually done it earlier in the day, but it had rubbed off in the sweat-pit of the gig), rechristening it an R-Pod, in acknowledgement of the huge amount of the prolific musician's material that has made it on there.
By and by, it would turn out that I'd lost my wallet (and train tickets) in the venue, presumably whilst pogoing to I Like To Stay Home, and so it was that I had to wake myself at 6am to return to the venue, to try to recover it before catching the train back to Scotland. Did I say train? Well, I ended up having to change to the overnight coach in London, travelling on for some ten hours to Dundee, arriving in the early hours of Monday morning having had precious little sleep - it was a somewhat hellish journey, much of which was spent with the guy next to me, Bobby from Bulgaria, either talking incessantly, or asleep, crushing me like a long-suffering wife. And then I had to go straight into work.
But, you know what? It was all worth it. So totally worth it. For the legend that is R. Stevie Moore.
Thank you R. Stevie!
And thank you, Steve Potatoes!
Interested parties might make first departure into the Outer Mooresphere here: THE R. STEVIE MOORE CASSETTE CLUB
And check out this essential documentary: TAPE TO DISC
R. STEVIE MOORE & TROPICAL OOZE are on tour NOW!