Ludicrous Poppy Syndrome

Monday eve. To the Gallery at Stoke Newington Library, for a private view with performances. And free Pimms and nibbles, which helps. Suzi L there too.

The gallery is a white-walled village hall shape, with its own surprisingly in-tune piano. I take a fancy to various photographs by Beth Thorne, Francis Brooks and Karin Nilsson, plus a rather good painting of a moose by an artist whose name escapes me.

One woman there is disappointed that I’m not the rich art collector that she assumed I was, given the way I dress (white suit and silk scarf today, 28 degrees C). I’m disappointed I’m not a rich art collector either, frankly. Certainly the minute My Ship Comes In, I’ll spend the surplus on art, rather than classic cars or second homes. Thankfully Beth makes 60p postcards of her work (available from, which is really what all artists should do from the off. It’s not real art till it’s on a postcard.

The performers include Vicky Butterfly, in jaw-droppingly beautiful burlesque mode: red petals, dancer’s ribbon, Mercury wing headpieces, Salome beads and straps. Her backing music is a piano instrumental of the Pixies’ ‘Where Is My Mind?’ I always tell people with knee-jerk prejudices about burlesque to go and see Vicky Butterfly first.

Also: an acoustic set from Harmony Boucher, a strikingly beautiful androgynous girl from Australia. Incredibly rich singing voice and stage presence. I happened to see her band a couple of weeks ago while I was running my club, Against Nature. They were playing the noisy indie night next door. Although I’m unlikely to enjoy indie bands these days, I have to admit they impressed me: colourful melodies, sparkling invention, infectious enthusiasm and self-belief. Only problem is their name: Bunny Come.

Still, after a while band names are upstaged by the band’s music, if it’s any good, and the name’s meaning dissolves away. I suppose Bunny Come is no less of a hindrance than Does It Offend You Yeah?, or indeed Selfish C***, both of whom managed to go places. Prefab Sprout are very much a wonderful band with an terrible name. As it is, it could be argued that all band names are embarrassing per se. Or, indeed, that all bands are embarrassing per se. So much about being in a band is just pulling off the appearance of confidence in the face of embarrassment. On paper, Keith Richards is a ludicrous man. U2 are ludicrous people. Anyone who does anything creative or gets on a stage is ludicrous. It’s Ludicrous Poppy Syndrome. The band I, Ludicrous had the most honest name in the history of music.

Completing the confidence over ludicrousness trick is an acoustic set from Kingfishers Catch Fire. William – also one of Beth Thorne’s photo models – on guitar and new member Hinako on tinkly piano. All very impressive in the Nick Drake & Kate Bush corner of things. They cover La Roux’s ‘In For The Kill’, and make it sound like This Mortal Coil’s ‘Song To The Siren’. It’s that good. But covers always worry me. I go up to William afterwards and warn him of the dangers: do a cover version too well and it can make whole groups into one-hit novelty wonders. I think of Candyflip’s baggy take on ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ (WHY do they spring to mind?) or that one who did ‘Mad World’ by Tears For Fears. Him. Or them. Whoever it was. If they ever had any songs of their own, too bad. Filed away with the one song, the focus forever pulled. Happened with Orlando a little, too. We covered Bacharach & David’s ‘Reach Out For Me’ at a few gigs. Cue people coming up to us afterwards.

‘That ‘Reach Out For Me’… That’s the best song you’ve ever written!’

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