I've never been a small-town boy. I'm not using an obscure Bronski Beat track to make a sly reference to my sexuality. I just mean that I've always been attracted to the big bright lights, where the action is, where men can dress as ladies and be allowed to walk proud and - hang on, maybe I am making some sort of reference, whatever, sorry - let's start again.
I thought it would be really hard moving to the country but it's been remarkably easy. The country aspects have been easy. As for the country towns - well, let's say they're probably an acquired taste. It's not that I dislike them, but it's just that it's all so different and parochial. I was trying to think what exactly it was, apart from the obvious, that gets to me when, wandering past a load of posters and flyers in Cirencester, I finally got it. I live near a tribute town.
If you're up for some entertainment in Cirencester and want to go and see a live band you're in for a bit of a shock. Real bands don't bother to visit the big C so we are on the little c circuit, the tribute- band circuit. Any night of the week you can go and see bands such as Limehouse Lizzy, Jon Bovi, Noasis, 2U and, my personal favourite, the Blondie tribute act called "Into The Bleach". Need I continue? The only remotely creative thing about these acts is how badly they pastiche the name of the original.
What happens, I wonder? Do they start off, like most wannabe musicians, with their own little bedsit compositions and stadium dreams? Then, having come last in four consecutive Battles Of The Bands, decide to cut their losses and set up a tribute band? They're a bit like young artists who realise very early on that they're not going to be the next Picasso and turn instead to the lucrative world of "office art". Not exactly what they signed up for at art school but it pays the mortgage.
Part of the problem with tribute bands, like the weird world of lookalikes, is that, to be good, they must start to believe that they are the people they are aping. I once had a terrible time with a Hannibal Lecter lookalike who couldn't switch it off and kept doing the fffffffava beans thing until you wanted to shoot him. In a previous incarnation, I once found myself interviewing the lead singer of The Australian Doors while dressed as a fish. Forget the fish angle, the guy really believed that he was The Lizard King down to the tight leather pants and bad poetry.
Life in a tribute town is a bit of a drag and I'm going to try to liven it up. I've booked in my dog Huxley as a Jimi Hendrix tribute band called "Hey Hoe" and he's playing the Corn Market in a couple of weeks. I've just rung up the box office and he's already sold 43 tickets at a tenner a go. If everything works out, we might have to tour. I've got it all worked out. Huxley wanders on stage towards the mike, where lies a bowl of his favourite biscuits.
I've built a contraption to hang an electric guitar off his (psychedelic) collar and he will mime to a couple of classics before I release the fuel from a pouch in the collar which will ignite the guitar during his solo on "Crosstown Traffic". Sod Monterey - Cirencester will go down in tribute rock history. You can still get tickets, so book now. We're outselling "Led Zepagain" by two to one.
Huxley's already gone a bit big-headed, demanding a bigger kennel and a couple of bitches on the night. I haven't the heart to tell him that we had him "done" when he was a puppy.
Now it's 2005 things are going to change. I've got my new show World Shut Your Mouth coming out on BBC1 this Friday night and I need a bit of a break. I'm off to Malibu for a while to get my head together. I haven't got the five minutes it usually takes me to fire off this column for you. So I've organised a local hack to write a tribute column for me for the next year. He's going to call himself Dim Jelly. Hope you enjoy it.Reuse content