Back at the Empire Theatre, MJ Hibbett at the front, I've claimed my usual seat at the back. Nodding recogition to the Spiral Scratch folk in the corner and Wee Pop somewhere in the middle. Not quite sure if its a tradition yet, but Mark starts with a ukulele set.
Informative introductions to each song, a Morrissey / Smiths medley in the middle, a few breaks in songs where he forgets the words and rather than dishonestly covering, he admits his mistakes.
"I'm never sure if its out of tune or just supposed to sound like that."
Finishing with A Million Ukuleles, the blissful tale of schools replacing recorders with ukes cos they're more fun, and the refrain that it just takes a few people infectiously playing to make the world a better place. When unexpectedly in the final chorus, half the audience pull out their own ukuleles and start playing along. Hibbett's almost overcome with emotion, falling over when he realises its not just some crazies in thr corner, but the chap sat next to him too.
I think I heard a cry of "Ukulele flash mob!"
Next up, Sunny Intervals, the keyboard chap from Pocketbooks cos MJ Hibbett never manages to see them play live, so its almost the same. He's stood along centre stage with an acoustic guitar.
There had always been suspicions that he was the secret powerhouse behind the Pocketbooks, but on his own its clear that he'd the 21st century's answer to Ian McCulloch. Imagine the Lightning Seeds solo.
Sweet and kinda funny. Some guy to my right who was providing a laughter track for Hibbett, he chuckles a few times. I'm ordering the debut release on Wee Pop.
Kind of friendly atmosphere after ther interval, MJ Hibbett with guitar, imaginary campfire aburning, familiar songs to which everyone knows the words, well, a couple of new ones and less familiar ones from themists of time.
Audience participation abounds and hints about what the new album's going to sound like - live favourites recorded using the bosa nova rhythm preset.
Its weird, every song gets me right there, hairs stand on end, I gazing into the middle-distance pondering the mistakes I've made and how to put things right. Its like one of those once a season Doctor Who stories where there's some kind of paradox or time loop, where yoy can't change the past, but with the twin benefits of hindsight and Hibbett lyrics.
He's heard the future and it sounds suspiciously like modestly played ukulele.
Bands & MP3
MJ Hibbett - Lesson of the Smiths
Sunny Intervals - Sixty Seconds to fall in Love